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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

A Light on the Hill

One of my favorite new genres is biblical fiction. It is taking factual events from the Bible, and creating a bit of a backstory to the characters we know about, but not everything about. It might even use a major biblical event as the setting for the novel, such as Connilyn Cossette has done brilliantly in her series, Cities of Refuge. The first novel in the series is A Light on The Hill, and takes the readers back just after the fall of the walls of Jericho.

Back to the lands filled with the idol worship of false gods, where temples were built to commemorate and worship those idol images. Moriyah was a young girl when she was kidnapped and branded on her face as a temple prostitute even though she never was violated in that manner. It would be a brand she would forever face discrimination and rumors about what those who knew of her perceived her to be. It would also make finding a suitable husband for her, almost an impossibility. What man would want to deal with a wife who had to remain covered by a veil whenever she went out in public. Yet even that did nothing to prevent the stares or public shame she had to endure.

When Moriyah learns that her father has found a suitable match for her, she believes God has finally heard her prayer. She believes the young man she meets on the night of a festival is the same man promised to marry her. However she soon learns that he is simply the youngest of the brothers, her father has arranged to marry her. He is not the one. The man she is forced to marry is the oldest brother and the only desire he has for her, is her dowry that her father has promised to any man who will marry her, vineyards beyond riches. She faces her own challenges dealing with not only her potential future husband, but he has vowed she will remain forever veiled so no one will ever look at her and see who she really is.

I received A Light on The Hill by Connilyn Cossette compliments of Bethany House Publishers. This is such a wonderful novel in that during my own Bible reading, I have read about the horror stories of the people who lived behind the walls of Jericho and the things they did they flew in the face of the God of the Bible. We see glimpses of that with Joshua and how he brought down the walls, and of the prostitute Rahab that hid the men of God who would have been killed had they been discovered. It was the same favor that saved the life of not only her but her family as well. This picks up after that has occurred and shows the fall out of the life of those trapped behind those walls that now have to deal with the repercussions of that lifestyle, even if they didn't agree with it. A wonderful discussion guide is included at the conclusion of this novel that makes for a great book club selection. For me, I can't wait to read the remaining novels that will follow this one, and thus the reason for giving this one a well deserved 5 out of 5 stars in my opinion.

For more information about A Light on The Hill, Connilyn Cossette or where you can pick up a copy of this book today, please click on the links below:

You can find Connilyn Cossette on Facebook to stay up to date with all her latest novels.

To read more reviews on A Light on The Hill, please visit Bethany House Publisher's website.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate Utah

"There is no darkness, but ignorance."

That is the central theme for the novel, My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate Utah, by Angie Dicken. Taking readers into the heart of the west in Castle Gate, Utah during the 1900's, we find racial prejudice present even in the past. For those immigrating from Greece to settle in the small towns ripe with the hope of prosperity and opportunity, they also face discrimination based on the fact, they are not considered true Americans and have to settle in a place outside of town known as Greek Town.

It is here that the Pappas family has found hope with the opening of their restaurant serving Greek food to those that work in the mines, more Greek immigrants. For someone like Alex who came here to make money to help care for the health of his wife back home, but tragically couldn't make enough before she passed away. He then used that money to bring his own family to America where they can all be together to make it in this new world.

Leanna McKee, a school teacher in Castle Rock, has found her own grief here, losing her husband Jack in an accident that left her a widow but also one with outstanding gambling debts her husband incurred without her knowledge. She dreams for a way to move forward in San Francisco where she has connections with her family, but without funds, she has to stay where she is until she has saved enough to make the move there. Thankfully that opportunity comes to her via Alex Pappas who needs someone to escort his niece and nephew back and forth to school while their parents tend to the health of their mother during her pregnancy. When he offers to pay her, she immediately accepts! Is this truly an opportunity from God or is this a complication she should avoid with the tensions building in Castle Rock against those that associate with the Greeks?

I received My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate Utah by Angie Dicken compliments of Barbour Publishing and Net Galley. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been for immigrants to come to this country, legally at that time and the tensions that they had to deal with. Just friendships with those immigrants was often meet with hostility and anger to ensure that the discrimination would continue, despite how very wrong it was. I love how it is something that is worked out between Alex and Leanna by the conclusion of the novel, but also highlights a time in our own history when things did not goes as smooth as we might have believed. It also shows how strong traditions and culture were to those immigrants. Things they didn't want to leave behind.I easily give this one a 4.5 out of 5 stars in my opinion.

For more information about My Heart Belongs in Castle Rock Utah, Angie Dicken or where you can pick up a copy of this book today, please click on the links below:

You can find Angie Dicken on Facebook where you can stay up to date with all her latest novels.

To read more reviews on My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate Utah, please visit Barbour Publishing's website. 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

His Risk

I have fallen in love with Shelley Shepard Gray's latest series, The Amish of Hart County. In the fourth book in the series, His Risk, readers are once again transported back to the Amish community of Hart County. There you pick back up with familiar characters from the previous novels as they now become secondary characters in this novel.

Alice Yoder is the community's school teacher and she adores her job. She believes it is truly her calling and the one thing that brings her the most joy. However when she undertakes watching her brother's home while they vacation in Pinecraft and also care for Valentine, their cat. It is one job she truly looks forward to is a quiet night at the end of a busy day. She just didn't expect to find her curiosity peaked by the young man standing outside her neighbors home. Being a bit bold, she finds herself wanting to know who he is and why he is staying at their home.

Calvin Fisher is now staying with his brother, Mark and his wife Waneta as he undergoes a risky surgery to remove a cancerous kidney. He hopes that he will be able to be there for his brother as much as he helped to raise Calvin as a child. Both of his parents had their own issues to deal with and for Calvin, it meant leaving the Amish community. However know he has come home, but with it comes a threat that he believes he can handle as he works as an undercover DEA agent for a well known crime syndicate. Now that he has worked his way up in earning the King's loyalty, he believes he can balance the roles he is playing while keeping everyone safe.

But when his undercover life begins to show signs of being in Hart County, Calvin believes that he has brought a very real risk to those he cares about and even those he might begin to fall for. Will he be able to end the double life he is living before he endangers those he loves the most?

I received His Risk by Shelley Shepard Gray compliments of Avon Inspire, a division of Harper Collins Publishers. This is such a cross over genre because you are combining a love for the Amish with its connection to the English world in a suspenseful way. Without realizing it, and while they remain very much divided in their faith and ideals, there are no physical walls to keep one from encroaching on the other as it does in this series of novels by Shelley Shepard Gray. I think she orchestrates it masterfully in that you don't even realize that you're reading two very different genres in a well blended series. I have loved every single one and am looking forward to the next one in this series. Finally authors who simply don't end a good thing after three books! This one is worthy of all 5 out of 5 stars in my own opinion.

For more information about His Risk, Shelley Shepard Gray or where you can pick up a copy of this novel today, please click on the links below:

You can find Shelley Shepard Gray on Facebook to stay up to date with all her latest novels.

To read more reviews on His Risk, please visit Harper Collins Publisher's website.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Masterpiece

I have fallen in love with Francine River's novels.

So whenever I hear that she has written a new one, it's an automatic response for me to buy it. I don't even have to know what it is about, because I love the way she writes her novels. I know it will be life changing for me. I know it will also challenge me in a good way as well.

So when her latest novel, The Masterpiece arrived, I couldn't wait to carve out some time to sit back and enjoy my book, like someone would enjoy a fine wine, a decadent dessert or whatever will cause you to get excited because it is something you will look forward to.

I was not disappointed.

The story takes place between a struggling famous artist, Roman Velasco, who has to come to terms with his past before he can ever move forward in his future. To say he is a success at painting is an understatement and his paintings are always sold out for obscene amounts of money. He can't seem to find a way to manage all the time in between and has gone through so many personal assistants, the agency is down to its final candidate and if he isn't happy with this one, they are done trying to work with him.

Fortunately for Grace Moore, she needs this job and will stop at nothing to ensure she makes enough money that she can move out of the home she shares with a couple that had hoped to adopt her young son when he was born. They are still hoping she will change her mind and thus the reason for letting her stay. They understand how difficult it is for a single mother to make it in Los Angeles alone! So Grace is will to pass along a little "grace" to Roman and hopefully find a way for the two to work together. But she will also need to come to terms with her own past, and one that can apply a little grace to both of their lives.

The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers is an exceptional look into the pasts that we think define who we are today and unfortunately for some hold us back in the very areas that God wants to release us from. While Grace has the faith to work through some of her issues, there are some still holding her back. Yet at least, she begins to peel back the layers of Roman's past and help him to see that God is his only hope for a future, that is if she can reach him before his has a tragic accident that will forever change them both. Well worth all 5 out of 5 stars in this reader's opinion and now proud to add this novel to my permanent library.

For more information about The Masterpiece, Francine Rivers or where you can pick up a copy of this novel today, please click on the links below:

You can find Francine Rivers on Facebook to stay up to date on all her latest novels.

To read more reviews on The Masterpiece, visit Tyndale House Publishers website. 

Monday, February 19, 2018

The View From Rainshadow Bay

Just read the first two pages.

If you can manage to put the novel down after that and decide you have other things to do instead, I would have to check to see if you are still breathing. Of course, for me, I didn't realize I was holding my breath as I read those first two pages. What begins as a full adrenaline rush with the prologue beginning of The View From Rainshadow Bay, the latest novel from Colleen Coble in her Lavender Tides Series. She is truly one talented author in her ability to jump seamlessly from one genre to another without breaking a sweat.

In what marks the beginning of a new trilogy, suspense and murder mystery fans will want to jump on this series. The books opens quickly with a murder that will connect itself into the storyline that begins with what has happened a year later. We need that to help connect the dots to what happened earlier and why that would be so relevant to the characters we meet in the novel. Shauna McDade finds herself working through the recent loss of her husband Jack in a climbing incident, and one for which she holds Zach Bannister responsible as his best friend. Now she is forced to make her way as a single parent to her five year old son, as a helicopter charter pilot, using the skills she learned in the Navy. The last thing she needs is another loss on her plate and she will do whatever she can to make ends meet financially.

But like all great novels, things are about to get messy and complicated, when her business partner is murdered and leaving behind a message that Shauna and her son are in danger as well. Of course, now is when you have to learn to release your breath again, because things have just increased to put Shauna and her son at risk while they try to uncover what it is that is causing them to both be the focal point of a murder threat. She will have to learn to trust Zach again if she hopes to keep her son alive, despite all the threats that are now beginning to appear.

I received The View From Rainshadow Bay by Colleen Coble compliments of Thomas Nelson Publishers and TLC Book Tours. I guess you could say I am hooked and I love both a complex mystery to engage my brain, because I try to piece together my own clues to figure it out before the ending of the book. The intensity between Shauna and Zach is crazy because you have Zach trying so hard to make amends for the guilt he feels for Jack's death, and he also has to win over Shauna's trust to allow him to help her, even when she is fighting against her own personal feelings towards him. Let's just say I know you will LOVE how this one all plays out in the end. Well worth all 5 out of 5 stars in this reader's opinion.

For more information about The View From Rainshadow Bay, Colleen Coble or where you can pick up a copy of this novel today, please click on the links below:

You can find Colleen Coble on Facebook to stay up to date on all her latest novels.

To read more reviews on The View From Rainshadow Bay, please visit TLC Book Tour's page. 

Monday, February 12, 2018

Girl, Wash Your Face

Sometimes as women we need that emotional cheerleader in our life that takes whatever we are going through to take us by the hand and give us that much needed talk to stop feeling sorry for whatever you're going through and get moving forward. Yet all too often we fall for the lies our own self is telling us. Lies that we aren't a good enough mom, while others around us seem to breeze through motherhood without a care in the world. Lies that all of our dreams will remain just that, dreams of a life we never got around to living. Lies that we are not good enough, when God cared enough to make us the fine women we are today. Don't you need someone to give you that honest talk to shake you out of your pity party of one and get moving on with your life with a better outlook for tomorrow.

Enter Rachel Hollis, who I think resembles Anna Kendrick quite a bit and who always seems to have it together and never seems to have a bad day, a bad month or even a bad year. Yet as women that is how we constantly compare ourselves to others around us instead of comparing our yesterday person to our today person. Why do we do that? In her book, Girl, Wash Your Face, Rachel gets brutally honest, like your best friend would and holds nothing back to get you through the lies she faced and quite honestly like most of the lies all women believe. It is a cry along with her book as she faces adoption struggles, laugh with her when she shares the most incredible stories of her own life and gives you a transparent look at how she can appear to have it all together on the outside and is barely holding it all together on the inside.

She is the one friend I think all of dream of having. She is the person who would come cry with you while your enduring one of life's most challenging struggles, like losing her brother to suicide and then helping you back on your feet to show you that you don't have to stay in that place, and you can use what you're going through to make you stronger. She is such a wonder to listen to and trust me, all of us women NEED this book. I found so many great take away's that I believe I'm going to have to buy another one so I can have a pristine copy, while this one is my reference source to run to when I need a quick pick me up. For me, this book is a much needed book for all women both young and old and why I feel it is beyond worthy of 5 out of 5 stars.

For more information about Girl, Wash Your Face, Rachel Hollis, or where you can pick up a copy of this book today, please click on the links below:

You can find Hollis on Facebook to stay up to date with all her wonderful projects.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Steal Away Home

I've been in love with Billy Coffey's ability to weave a story so well, that you are instantly transported from wherever you are to wherever he decides to take you. He has a way with words that goes beyond what one can describe except to say that it is a true gift to spin such a story, it make you wonder if there isn't a nugget of truth in there somewhere and he is taking you back to one of his memories so you can see it like he did. I've had the delight to read each and every single novel he has written and they all come with a uniqueness that you are picking up something sacred. I've been reading his short stories through his blog for years and was thrilled when he began to write novels.

You can sense that good ol' boy charm gleaned from the words that spill forth from the pages of his latest, Steal Away Home. I knew at some point in time we would see a story about Billy's love of baseball and feel this one is definitely a home run. One needs to understand something when you read one of his novels. They are all different in a sense that he is taking readers to often times, unexplored places within the character's mind to see things the way they did. In this novel it is through the eyes of Owen Cross, who like most young boys dreamed that one day he might make it to the big league spending childhood summers playing ball in sandlots with his friends. His natural ability is captivated upon by his father who watched his own dreams of making it into major league baseball slip away with a shoulder injury and now pushes Owen to the big dreams.

The one thing competing with Owen is a young girl who has captured his heart much like baseball did. He hopes that when it makes it big, he will be able to pull Micky along with him and rescue her from the life of being a less-than living among the small community of Mattingly, mostly being what the upper classes would consider plain white trash. But Owen sees the same thing in her that his dad sees in him, the opportunity for so much more than they could even dream. The novel toggles back and forth from Owen's childhood and his time with Micky, to the current day where he is making a debut of sorts in the big league, filling in if needed. The story is magical in the sense that you feel like you're Owen, the struggles he faces when people try and keep him and Micky apart, the differences in their upbringing and the outcome of the future for them both.

I received Steal Away Home by Billy Coffey compliments of Thomas Nelson Publishers and TLC Book Tours. This is such a beautiful story and I wasn't sure how receptive I would be of one involving a baseball player, but then movies like A League of Their Own and For the Love of the Game. It reminds you that times were simple in those days. Baseball was the epitome of technology and it is what drew people together for a common cause, to root for their team. I love the way Billy crafted this story in taking me back to those days of his childhood and how the decisions he made affect his future in ways no one could predict. Once again this one will sit like a priceless treasure in my own personal library and I can say it is getting full. Well down for hitting a grand slam in this novel and deserving of all 5 out of 5 stars in this reader's opinion.

For more information about Steal Away Home, Billy Coffey or where you can pick up a copy of this novel today, please click on the links below:

You can find Billy Coffey on Facebook to stay up to date with all his latest novels.

To read more reviews on Steal Away Home, please visit TLC Book Tour page.