Friday, December 23, 2016

The Tea Planter's Wife

I like an exotic locale for a novel, so this book cover drew me in pretty quickly.  The novel by Dinah Jefferies takes place in Ceylon, known for growing some of the very best teas.  Beginning in 1925, young Gwendolyn is wed to Laurence Hooper, an Englishman who owns a tea plantation in Ceylon.  She is excited to arrive at her new home and learn about tea growing and be the mistress of the house.  When she arrives, mysteries begin to appear and an atmosphere of distrust and resentment on the part of the employees causes her to feel a sense of foreboding and disquiet, although she cannot put her finger on the cause.
Among the mysteries are an unmarked grave in the woods, a sister-in-law who obviously does not want her around and the plant foreman who has no use for the owner's new wife.  She feels alone and homesick to the point of exhaustion.  As complications develop, Gwen feels a very real sense of her life being in danger; no more on that.  I wouldn't want to be guilty of giving you a spoiler!
The Tea Planter's Wife is well written from a technical standpoint.  Sentence structure is good and grammar is spot on. It is easy to read. Ms. Jefferies does a good job describing the atmosphere and the beauty of Ceylon.  What it lacks is a real sense of depth.  It is a story written "on the surface" bringing the reader intrigue that does not play out as it appears.  All is not as sinister as it seems and the  mysteries have simple, human emotional origins.  It is solved too easily and no one is as bad as they appear to be.  This is not a disappointing book, as it were, it is just benign, promising a mysterious malevolent dark cause that is not there.  There were no surprises.  If this is what you like in a book, this one is for you.
What it does have in it's favor is what the author left out.  That is very little sex, no dirty language and it is not offensive.  I was pleased that it was written for the sake of the story being told.  That is the mark of a good writer, in my opinion, however lacking in depth this story was. It did not pull me in.  I was not absorbed or compelled to keep reading.
The Tea Planter's Wife spent sixteen weeks on bestseller lists in the U.K.  This is her second novel.  She also wrote The Separation and The Silk Merchant's Daughter.  Her fourth novel, Before the Rains, will be published in the U.K. in February 2017.   Dinah Jefferies lives in Gloucestershire. 
I give this book two and a half stars.  Published by Penquin Random House, I received a review copy from Blogging For Books, for the purpose of an honest review.  These words are my opinion. 
You can read more about Dinah Jefferies and her novels at Dinah Jefferies.  To find out more about Blogging For Books, visit them at Blogging For Books
Thanks so much for being here!

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Devoted

What a fitting end to The Bishop's Family series!  As always, with Suzanne Woods Fisher's books, lives are changed, answers are found and faith is deepened.
This one centers on Ruthie Stoltzfus and her search for meaning in life.  We join her struggle to decide between leaving the Amish and staying the course to make her life in Stoney Ridge.   She just wants to do something important and make a real contribution.  She develops a sincere admiration for her Aunt "Dok," her father's sister, who has come back to Stoney Ridge to set up a medical practice.  She brings a perspective that Ruthie could not have but Ruthie misses the point, which she does with some regularity.
The host of characters are back in this edition and there are plenty of real life story lines to keep you reading all the way through.  Suzanne brings to light the Amish struggle with many of the same issues we "Englishers" do.  They are not immune to the ways of the world.
I discovered Suzanne's books last winter and I have proceeded to work on reading everything she has written.  I review many types of books, fiction and non-fiction and I sometimes need relief from the murder, mayhem, political intrigue and the like.  When I pick up one of her books, I know that I will get that much-needed relief while at the same time reading a story that brings real life to my reading.  The added bonus is that her stories always bring faith lessons learned by the protagonist and reveal God's glory.
I simply "love" her books!  They are real, intelligent, human, and centered on God.
The Devoted can be read alone, as can all the books in her series and I suggest you "rush right out" and secure your copy!  I highly recommend this book, and all of her writing.
I give The Devoted five stars!  Learn more about Suzanne's books at  Also at
I received a copy of this book from Baker Publishing for the purpose of writing an honest review.  All words/opinions are my own.
Thanks so much for being here and happy reading to you!


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Newton & Polly A Novel of Amazing Grace

This novel, based on the true story of John Newton, the writer of one of the most beloved hymns of all time, Amazing Grace, is a journey through doubt, denial, rebellion, all of them emotions that a person goes through when struggling with the idea of an Almighty God.
Jody Hedlund is the author of this historical novel.  The story is a "sweeping saga" that takes the reader along for the ride.  It is closely based on John and Polly Newton and the life he lived before he became a Christian.  Polly, whom he almost did not win the hand of, was instrumental in exposing him to the love of God and the salvation of Christ.  However, it was not until John was at his very lowest point, that he allowed God in.  He went through jobs like water through a sieve.  His father, whose love was always there, however distant, rescued him countless times and found him jobs but John carried a bitter resentment after his mother's death when he was a child and he squandered every single opportunity.  That resentment bred a rebelliousness that nearly got him killed more than one time.  He grew up mostly without his father around who was a seaman and was gone a lot until John reached a certain age, then taking him on the ship voyages with him, teaching him to be a seaman.  But, he remained cold and distant after the death of his wife and John's resentment grew.
He carried anger toward God and his father and had a chip on his shoulder he could hardly stand up under.  He thought the world owed him and had little regard for authority or responsibility.
When he met Polly he was instantly smitten and she for him. But, she held back, seeing his irresponsibility.  Just when he thinks he will never see her again, God works on his heart and brings him to his knees one dark and stormy night at sea.
This book drew me in and I felt the despair he went through and the broken heart that Polly suffered.  It is a turbulent journey and about halfway through I reached a point where I could hardly put it down.
Ms. Hedlund is the author of numerous Christian fiction books including Luther and Katherina and was awarded the ECPA Book of the Year Award for that novel; again, based on a true story.  Her novels have also won the INSPY Award, the Carol Award and the Christy Award.
Thank you to Blogging for Books for this volume.  All opinions are my own.
If you would like to know more about Jody Hedlund's writing visit her at Jody Hedlund.  You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks so much for being here!
See you next time,

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Domino Effect

As a top risk analyst at one of the biggest banking organizations in America, Esther Larson works daily with financial numbers and assesses risk. She is beginning to see something that looks very dangerous, and is struggling with a course of action.  As the markets begin to unravel she begins to talk about what she is seeing and engages some top financiers and friends.  This is the plot of Davis Bunn's newest novel. 
Of course, there is a lot more to it than that, but that is the meat of it.  The characters have very real personalities and struggles, which gives the story a good feel of reality. That is also the scary part of this novel. What the author writes could certainly happen to the stock market and would set off a real panic.  As Esther struggles with the reality of what is happening, she begins to fear for her life.  There are people who do not want her to go public with this information and they will stop at nothing to silence her.
This is my fifth Davis Bunn novel.  I have been moved, scared and convicted by the other four.  They have all been thought provoking and left me very satisfied.  This one was almost as good, but not quite.  It is well written and absorbing.  The middle of the book has a lot of financial explantion which Esther is giving her friends as she talks to them about what is taking place and that lost me a little.  I had to lay it down for a bit.  I was disappointed that Bunn did not include deep faith in the characters persona as he has in the other books of his that I have read.  I know this is a different type of story and not entirely about personal faith and seeing God work in the lives of the characters, but I enjoy that piece of the story too. He does have an excellent ability to write in various genres and make all of them read well.  I loved his Marc Royce series which was fast paced, scary and also well written, as this book was.  The Domino Effect was a good book, but not my favorite Davis Bunn book.  If you have an interest and some knowledge of the stock market and the global economy, you will love this book. I enjoyed it.  It was good but not exactly my cup of tea.  Excellent writing, grammer, sentence structure, as always.  I will still read Davis' books!  You can read more about this book at Bethany House and more about this author at Davis Bunn Facebook
I give The Domino Effect four stars and suggest you get a copy and give it a read!  
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, Bethany House, in exchange for an honest review.  These words are my opinion.
Thanks so much for being here!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

To Follow Her Heart

Captain Jeremy Horton's ship, The Swallow, is wrecked and all the crew but him is lost.  Adrift at sea, he is eventually picked up by a frigate, a gunner ship headed to Boston.  Family and friends have had a memorial service and declared  him dead.  All but Patience Terry, his lifetime friend and fiance.  She never gives up hope and when he reappears to her and all of Southold, they pick up where they left off.  She wants him never to sail again and he cannot bear to leave the sea.  He was raised on it and it is in his blood.  The ensuing emotional struggle forms the main storyline with several additional characters which give this novel substance and depth.
Rebecca DeMarino is the author of this historical romance.  It is set in the summer of 1664 in Southold, Long Island.  So, that being the case, we are talking (reading) about very early colonial New England.  I am always struggling to tell you about the story without giving it away and writing a spoiler!  It is hard.
The plot centers around a small group of colonials who are working and struggling to make a new life in a new world.
This is a good story.  I have not read any of Ms. DeMarino's work until now and I was impressed with her command of historical facts. I am sure, in part, because this is loosely written on the adventures of a great-grandfather from "generations ago."  For me, that always lends an authentic feel to a book.  I was absorbed from the beginning and read this fairly quickly.  The excellent grammar and sentence structure made it easy to read.  It flowed well from page to page.  The author included phrases and Old English that would have been spoken in the 1600's and that added to the novel.  She did that very well, also.  Enough to give you an idea of how colonials spoke but not so much that it sounded corny.
This is Book 3 of The Southold Chronicles.  Another series that I am going to have to go back and read Books 1& 2 of!
I give To Follow Her Heart five stars and suggest you give it a read!
Read more about Rebecca DeMarino at Rebecca DeMarino
Explore Revell books and sign up for their email newsletter at Revell Publishing.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing in exchange for an honest review.  These opinions are my own.

Thanks for being here!  Up next, Davis Bunn's newest release The Domino Effect.
See you soon!


Friday, August 12, 2016

Honor Redeemed

Prosperity Jones has lost everything.  Born and raised in Nantucket, her father was a whaler who was lost at sea.  A few years later, she lost her mother to consumption.  With nothing left in life but herself, she sets out for Key West to reunite with her fiance' David Latham, who is stationed there as an army engineer.  When she arrives in Key West, she finds that she has lost David, as well.  You would think that she has nothing left to live for.  But, under-girding all her loss is her unwavering faith in God, who can make good out of bad and is the author of all things good.  So she has not lost all, she still  has her faith, the most important thing.  With no money to sail back to Nantucket, she is forced to stay in Key West and takes a job as a laundress at the hospital.  Heartbreak covers every day as she sees the evidence of David's infidelity, as their paths cross. He has taken a wife of ill-repute who carries his unborn child.  I leave it for you to read and discover the fulfillment of this story.
Christine Johnson, the author of Honor Redeemed has written the second book in the Keys of Promise series.  This is my first time reading her work.  I loved this book.  It was easy to read, yet carried a depth of emotion that I could relate to.  Her characters are well written and contain my favorite trait, human frailty. That lends a touch of reality that brings a character to life.  The complicated plot lines were believable and could all happen in real life.  The sentence structure and grammar were spot-on, allowing the reading to sail smoothly.  I can't say anything bad about this book.  It was great.  I plan on circling back to the first volume in Keys of Promise which is Love's Rescue.  I am interested in the other characters in this book who are introduced in the first book.
I give Honor Redeemed five stars and urge you to get your copy asap!  I was given a complimentary copy of this book by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing, in exchange for an honest review.  These words are my opinion.
Find out more about this book at Baker Publishing | Honor Redeemed.  Read about Christine Johnson and her writing at Christine E. Johnson
Thanks so much for reading!  See you soon,

Sunday, July 31, 2016

I AM NO ONE by Patrick Flannery

Patrick Flannery has written a novel about what could happen to you when you think the government has no idea of you, or that you are even alive, much less cares.  Hence, the title I Am No One.  However, that is not always the case.  You may think you have done nothing to call attention to yourself, but we live in an age where surveillance is carried out in a much more subtle manner, for reasons that would not have been reasons many years ago.
Jeremy O'Keefe has returned to America (New York) after ten years living and working in Britain, at Oxford.  He has not been completely transparent, which leads to the reason he is being "watched."  Before I forget, this brings my main statement about this book to mind, which is "If you really are doing nothing, you are probably not being watched."  I picked this book up thinking that citizens who are truly living a quiet life were being observed by the government for no good reason and that would have been a great story if it had a plot that included sinister motives.  That story would have been spine-tingling because it would alert us to the fact that the government is overboard with suspicion and innocent citizens are subject to an invasion of privacy that is, in it's scope, unparalleled in American history.  However dystopian that story line is, that would be scary and we already kind of think that anyway, so that would be alarming, terrifying, gripping, as some reviews have stated about this book.  I was disappointed about a third of the way through and it never came back for me.
Jeremy, our protagonist, returns to New York and a job at New York University.  He begins to understand that he is being watched, in no uncertain terms.  He has researched and written extensively on surveillance so he knows the subtle signs that may be clues that he is being observed.  The story is about him trying to figure out why, which he does mostly figure out, and when I read that part, I thought how stupid he is for thinking that he was doing nothing to call attention to himself.  He originally left New York (moved to England, lock, stock and barrel) right after the 9/11 terror attack which was the first "dumb" thing he did.  He then gives way to loneliness and loss and involves himself romantically with someone he really should not be involved with.  He is a little unpatriotic with this involvement.  During this process of trying to understand why he is being surveilled, we watch him wallow in emotional mud from his divorce and "abandonment" of his adult daughter.  He misses and replays memories of life as it was and that is part of his character, or lack thereof, that allows him to slowly drift into a relationship that should not draw him in.  That is enough of a spoiler.  I don't want to completely ruin your interest because you  may be completely taken with this book, as it seems some readers are.
As far as the writing goes, the author is a professor of creative writing at the University of Reading, so the sentence structure, grammar, etc. should be excellent, and they are.  I especially appreciated Mr. Flannery's ability to make the run-on sentence into a sort of panicking, rushed runaway thought train that perfectly describes Jeremy's fear.  Don't get me wrong; the writing is good.  The story line is disappointing.  So much so that it compels me to give the novel 2 stars but, I give it 3-4 for the mechanics.
I was not pulled in, absorbed, or compelled but that does not mean you won't be.  I recommend that you  form your own opinion.
I was given a complimentary copy of this book by Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review. These words are my opinion.

On that note, I give I AM NO ONE 3 stars.
Thanks so much for being here!



Patrick Flanery was born in California and raised in Omaha, Nebraska. After earning a B.F.A. in Film from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, he worked in the film industry before moving to the U.K., where he completed a doctorate in Twentieth-Century English Literature at the University of Oxford. He is the author of the novels Absolution, which was shortlisted for the 2014 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and Fallen Land. He has written for The Washington PostThe Guardian, and The Times Literary Supplement, and is a Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Reading

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Central Intelligence

Think about the name of this movie for a moment;  it would indicate that  intelligence (all of it, a lot of it, some of it?!)  is centrally located.  But, in this movie, that central location is not the two main characters brains!!  Ok, my play on words, pun intended!  And that may have been the idea behind the title.  Enter Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart.  Dwayne is Bob Stone, a CIA agent who went to high-school with Calvin Joyner, Kevin Hart's character. They have been out of touch since their high school days.  Bob remembers Calvin as a friend who helped him out when he was being bullied as an overweight teen.  Bob has weighed down and bulked up since his high school years.  Bob finds out that Kevin is a whiz-bang accountant and realizes he needs his skill with numbers to aid in the assignment he is working on, so he makes sure they connect at their  reunion.

Bob practically kidnaps Calvin into helping him out and leads him into a world of car chasing, gun toting spy hunting espionage.  Calvin has no idea what he is getting into, he is swept along by Bob, thinking the favor he needs is a harmless numbers task on the computer.  He soon finds out that it is not, but it takes a while longer for him to see that he is involved in a world class chase for a bad guy.  When Calvin begins to have a dawning realization that he has been duped and is in over his head, it's too late.  The resulting indignant anger he throws at Bob makes him the straight guy to Bob's funny guy responses.  The comic chemistry between Dwayne and Kevin works very well and was a surprising pleasure for me.  Yes, it is a formulaic spy plot.  It works because Johnson and Hart work it.  They play off each others strengths well, bringing genuine laughs and entertainment.  As well as surprising us with good straight guy-funny guy banter.

I saw this movie with my husband and we picked it because we wanted a good laugh and thought this one would fit the bill.  It did.  It was funny and the acting was good.  You have to know going in that this was made for entertainment and Dwayne and Kevin entertained the audience with this one.  There was plenty of laughter in the theatre we were in!  It was a real escape for a couple hours and that alone was worth the price of admission.  Give yourself over to it; don't critique it. Take a tub of popcorn and a large soda in with you, you will be set for a good time!
I do not review movies for anyone but my readers, so I paid my way in.  I give Central Intelligence five stars for entertainment value.  I give it four stars for storyline.  Great funny movie all the way around.
You should see it!

Thanks for being here

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Sea Rose Lane: A Hope Harbor Novel

This is Irene Hannon's newest release.  It is the second Hope Harbor novel that she has written. Ms. Hannon is an award winning author of over fifty books.  She is a three time RITA award winner among many other awards and distinctions for her contemporary romantic suspense and women's fiction/romance novels.  Sea Rose Lane is the second book by Ms. Hannon that I have reviewed.
Sea Rose Lane is set in the seaside town of Hope Harbor, Oregon.  There we find BJ Stevens who is the resident architect/construction supervisor.  She left the hectic pace of a large firm and city life to start a business where there is a calm to each day, even in the midst of designing and building businesses and homes.  She is involved in a volunteer program to help senior citizens have access to basic housekeeping needs, a need which is dear to her heart.  She has secrets and regrets.  Enter, Eric Nash who has been handed a disastrous layoff from a large law firm where he was on the "partner track."  He has come to Hope Harbor to spend time with his father and regroup for the job hunt.  His father is remodeling his home into a B&B and BJ is his architect.  They meet, sparks fly; and not good ones!  I will leave the rest to you to read about in this excellent romantic novel.
Sea Rose Lane is not just a boy meets girl novel.  Each character brings their own issues, life experience and perspective to this beautiful sea coast town.  They all have problems that need solutions and emotional scars that need to heal.  Ms. Hannon has written each character with flaws and heartaches that we can relate to. This is what gives a book it's depth and pulls the reader in to find out what will happen and, indeed, if there will be a happy ending for anyone!
The author has done an excellent job of bringing us a very readable, believable story of two people who want to start over.  The secondary characters have their own set of personality quirks and emotional scars as well, adding to the fullness of the story.  An added perk for me is the attention she gave to grammar and sentence structure.  Those are two of my sticking points with every book I read and Ms. Hannon's sentences were well written.  I enjoyed every page of this book and all the details.  Irene states that she likes to do three things with her writing;  entertain, enrich and uplift.  She does all three very well in Sea Rose Lane.
Find out more about Irene's writing and her books at Irene Hannon
Last year, I reviewed Irene Hannon's new release entitled, Buried Secrets.  I did not give it a glowing report.  It just did not strike my fancy and I had a hard time finishing it, but I did (of a sorts) finish it.  Ms. Hannon was very gracious in accepting my three star review and suggested that I try another of her books, Thin Ice, which came out in January of this year as well as suggesting that I may also like Against All Odds, Book I of her Heroes of Quantico series which was published in 2009.   I have not read Thin Ice yet, but I did recently read Against All Odds and I could not put it down!  I know that every book cannot be a hit with every reader and the Men Of Valor series may not be my cup of tea, but I have changed my mind about the writing of Ms. Hannon and I think she has lots more books that I am going to put on my TBR list!  First thing I will do is read Books II and III of Heroes of Quantico.  And now, I am going to have to read the first Hope Harbor book! I know, reviewing can be a subjective thing, try as I might to be objective!
I give Sea Rose Lane five stars and recommend you get a copy and read it, as well as Book I of the Hope Harbor series!  I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing in exchange for an honest review.  These words are my opinion.  Read more at Baker Publishing Group

Thanks so much for being here!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Summer/Beach Reads 2016

As I write this, I am sitting in my dining room, looking at my next new release book to get started reading.  I think it will be on this list of summer reading that I am giving you, but you will have to wait until I read it, then I will let you know!  There is one book ahead of it and that book will most likely make the list also.  I know, why all the cloak and dagger?!?  I just don’t want to get ahead of myself and toss out names of upcoming reviews until they are closer to being posted.   So, with that out of the way let me get to my summer reading recommendations. 
Of course, as always, this is an excellent time to re-read one or two of your favorite classics.  Maybe you like Wuthering Heights.  Maybe you are an Agatha Christie fan.  It is possible you have a hankering for newer classics, such as Hemingway’s Pulitzer prize-winning novel, The Old Man and The Sea.  These are all good summer reading, anytime reading, actually.
I will confine my list to newer books.  I find that in the summer I am often looking for something not extremely profound, but deep enough to hold my attention.  I also like to explore new authors or new-to-me writers. 
Let me start with a couple of my favorites.  I love Hawaii by James Michener.  It is a most excellent narrative of the beginning of the islands, clear down to the natives of Bora Bora setting out in their double-hulled canoes to find a new home.  I want to read his Caribbean novel too.  I don’t know what it is, but I have a love of tropical settings.  I like to read about them and be in them!
The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews.  She writes with a believable humor that warms up your heart.
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter.  I have not read any of her writing but this looks intriguing so I include it.
The Patmos Deception by Davis Bunn.  Set in the Greek Isles with intrigue, old secrets and past loves that intertwine.  I may read it again.  Also, all three books of his Mark Royce Series are good too.
The English Spy by Daniel Silva.  This is the sequel to The English Girl which I also reviewed here, if you want an idea of what this is about, check out my review of that.
Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly.  This is a debut novel and it is an excellent read, based on a true story from WWII.  You can also read my review of this one here.
The Quieting by Suzanne Woods Fisher.  This is Book II of The Bishop’s Family series.  Good reading on a warm summer day.
Of course, the list would not be complete without a couple books set near the ocean or on a beach.  I would recommend these;
The Beach House Series by Sally John and Trish Perry.   They are The Beach House, Castles in the Sand and Sunset Beach.  These are good clean fiction with some depth to the story line.  They mainly focus on issues/relationships being resolved on vacation at the beach.   They are good reads if you just want something a little bit lighter.
Under A Maui Moon by Robin Jones Gunn.  This is Book I in the Hideaway Series.  Books II and III are Canary Island Song and Cottage By the Sea.  Good stuff.  God is in there when the characters face temptation and He continues to show His presence.
There are so many good books out there and summer is just a natural season for focusing on reading, with the warm long days and slower pace that encourages.  Translation; burying your head in a good book!! 
I hope I have given you some ideas for your summer reading.  Any of these are good additions to your TBR stack any time of the year.  Hey, you could have a Summer TBR stack and a Winter TBR stack!  Nothing like being organized.
Thanks so much for being here.  I’ll be back soon with another new release for you to take a look at!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Murder Comes by Mail

A new murder mystery by A.H. Gabhart is on the shelf at your local bookstore (or online, whichever you prefer.)  This is Book 2 of the Hidden Springs Mystery series.  These books can be read separately and out of sequence because they are more of a continuation of the same characters and locale with another murder being done.  Deputy Michael Keane continues to solve the whodunnit with the same intelligence and savvy that he used in the first book entitled Murder at the Courthouse.  If you are not familiar, Deputy Keane came home to Hidden Springs after serving as a big city cop for some years.  He felt the desire to return to small town law enforcement and embrace the lifestyle and values that he found there while growing up.  As usual, the grass is not always greener!
The author, Ann Gabhart, writes a strong character in Michael Keane and expertly merges his big city experience with his heart for the small town he loves.  Sheriff Keane sees beyond the obvious and has an uncanny sense (gut feeling?) for seeing hidden details in the unsolved crime.  This makes for excellent crime solving and exciting reading; as in, hard to put down this book!  Book 1 in this series was a good read, and if anything, this second book is even better.  The author writes a villain that is the epitome of a psychopath.  As murders continue to be done, the perpetrator makes it obvious to Michael that this spree has a personal connection.
 Murder Comes by Mail takes us back to Hidden Springs while reacquainting us with the townspeople that we met in Murder at the Courthouse.  Michael's Aunt Lindy is back, as well as the crew at the Sheriff's office, Betty Jean.  Also Hank Leland, editor of the local paper, Hidden Springs Gazette.  In this book,  Deputy Michael saves a man from jumping off the Eagle River bridge.  He utters something to Michael that puzzles him and then pictures of dead girls begin to arrive at the Sheriff's office.  Michael begins to believe the man he saved from jumping over the Eagle River bridge is doing the murders.  To make it worse, if possible, Michael has a connection to each girl that is murdered.  It becomes obvious that the killer has it out for the Deputy.  I can't tell you more without spoiling it for you, so I will stop here!
A.H. Gabheart has a knack for expertly crafting personalities and  relationships between characters and bringing out the details of daily life.  Her writing is believable and easy to read, at the same time absorbing.  I honestly could not put this down about 2/3 of the way through the book.  It simply becomes spooky and macabre.  I finished this one night when I should have been sleeping, rain pouring down and before I finished I was hearing every bump in the night and some that weren't there!
This is an excellent read and needs to be added to your summer reading list.  In fact, I will be back soon to give you my recommended list and this will be on it!
I give Murder Comes by Mail five stars and recommend you get your copy asap and read it up!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for an honest review.  These words are my opinion.
You can find out more about this book and others at Baker Publishing Group.  Read more about this author and her books at Ann H. Gabhart.

Thanks so much for being here!  I will be back soon with my Summer Reading List, so please come back and check it out!
See you soon,

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Elements of Pizza

Unlocking the Secrets to World-Class Pies at Home      

This isn't just pizza; it's gourmet that you truly can make at home.  Ken Forkish has written the master book on homemade pizza. He is the owner of Ken's Artisan Pizza in Portland Oregon and is the James Beard award winning author of Flour Salt Water Yeast.  He visited Italy, spending much time in the area around the Bay of Naples, where he says "great pizza as we know it has been happening for about 150 years..."  
The beginning chapters of the book are informative reading as he takes you through the Soul of Pizza, Pizza Styles, Great Crust, Methods.  It gave me an understanding of pizza I did not have before.  Don't skip that part.  This is not about a bread dough recipe used for pizza.  He achieves perfect crust with a scant minimum of yeast and longer rise time.  It is delicious.  The recipes are easy to use and have conversions from grams to teaspoons and cups.  He recommends you buy a kitchen scale that measures in grams if you don't already own one.  I used his conversions and my pies were delicious.  Most scales have both.
I made several of these pizzas and they were all good.  It is the best crust I have eaten.  And I like pizza a lot.  He separates the book into dough recipes and pizza recipes. He even has a gluten free crust if you prefer it. The book has sections featuring Italian Inspired in which he includes Margherita Pizza, including the history of that name, Carbonara Pizza, Pizza Bianca.  The New York Inspired chapter includes New York Cheese Pizza, Pepperoni, Mushroom and Onion Pizza (I made that one) and Meatball Pizza.  He also gives us Artisan, Flatbread and Vegetable Pizza recipes.  I made Adam Kuban's Love Supreme Bar Pizza as well as the Hawaiian Pizza.  It was all good.  The pizza recipes have suggestions for which dough recipes best suit the pizza recipe you are making.  This book has everything you need to make world-class pies at home, just like it says.  Check out his site at Ken's Artisan.
I give The Elements of Pizza five stars!  If you like to make your pizza at home, this is the book you need to do that.  Complete, easy and delicious!  I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.  These words are my opinion.
Thanks for being here, see you soon!


Monday, May 9, 2016

The Quieting

Suzanne Woods Fisher's newest book, just released May 3rd, is Book 2 of The Bishop's Family series.  The Quieting is a continuation of developments that begin in The Imposter, Book 1, as well as adding in some new developments in the lives of Stony Ridge residents.  I am just beginning my foray into this author's books and I must say, if what I have read so far is any indication, I will be reading everything she has published.  I told her that, when I met her a week or so ago at her book signing for The Quieting.  More about that later.
This book has grandmother, Tillie Yoder Stoltzfus, (Mammi) sweeping in to correct, organize and tie up with a bow, her families' lives.  Her son David is widowed and has children that are nearly grown and beginning to think about what they want to do with their lives and who they want to spend them with.  His family also includes several children approaching their teen years.  Mammi arrives from Ohio with her granddaughter Abigail for a long stay while she works on "fixing up" the Stony Ridge Stoltzfuses affairs.  Oh, and she wants to choose a husband for Abigail.  That is why she brought her along for the ride!  The resulting complications are a mix of serious, soul-searching and some humorous revelations while always bringing home a life lesson for the Stolzfus family members.  Add to this the local church which is faced with unrepented sin and a power struggle.  It is obvious that God is very much a part of daily life and his wisdom is sought by the residents of Stony Ridge.
Suzanne has a talent for developing realistic Amish characters with many of the same problems that we all have.  This brings an authenticity  to her writing that makes it absorbing and easy to read.  I am finding out that the Plain folk share many of the same struggles that we, as Christians, are faced with daily.  There are spiritual nuggets dropped in the story at just the right time for what was taking place and  they added wisdom to my own spiritual understanding as well. Suzanne brings her characters alive with real life situations and complex plots that leave the reader anxious to turn the page to see how it all ends up.  She has a background in the Amish community which gives insight to her writing that you may not find elsewhere.
I was able to meet Suzanne at a book signing for The Quieting and I was honored to be able to share a few moments with her.  She was gracious and it was obvious to me that she loves writing and finds joy in her readers enjoying her stories.  She takes pleasure in interacting with her readers and you can find her on social media frequently.  Reach her at Suzanne Woods Fisher. She is also on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.
Her stories are realistically written which results in a "plain good" book that you will want to read.  I give The Quieting five stars and highly recommend that you get your copy asap.  This is one you will want to have a cup of coffee with or an iced tea on the patio.  Prepare to give yourself over to the book!
Below is a picture of Suzanne and me at one of her signings at the Gospel Book Store, Berlin, Ohio.  I so enjoyed meeting her and she signed both books for me, The Imposter and The Quieting!  I received a complimentary copy of The Quieting from the publisher, Revell, in exchange for an honest review.  These words are my opinion.

Thanks for being here!
I feel like a made a new friend!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

 From the back cover of Go Set a Watchman, "Every man's island, Jean Louise, every man's watchman, is his conscience."  Ms. Lee takes the basis for this quote from the Bible, the book of Isaiah. Harper Lee also wrote To Kill a Mockingbird which was published in 1960 and won her the Pulitzer Prize.  
Written in the mid-1950's, it is a testament to the struggle of our country to move into a new era.  Go Set a Watchman did not see print until 2015.  I want to tell you about the book, then I will tell you about the controversy and then you can make up your mind;  which you can always do anyway.  I feel having both angles will give you more to think about before you decide to read it.  I would not have paid much attention, let alone read the book, if I had not seen news stories about the controversy and then noticed a copy of it laying on an end table in the home of a friend.  She offered to have me borrow it and I accepted.  I thought it would make a great post for my book review blog.  So here it is.
Go Set A Watchman takes place in Maycomb, Alabama in the 1950's when the battle for equality facing black Americans was gaining momentum.  Jean Louise "Scout" Finch was born and raised in Maycomb and is returning home from New York City, at the ripe old age of 26.  Her father, Atticus, is getting older and she has come for a visit.  Her childhood friend, Hank, is nowadays practicing law with Scout's father as his mentor.  Not much else is the same as she remembers it.  The Finches long time black cook, Calpurnia, who helped raise Scout and her brother Jem after her mother passed away, has retired.  Atticus has arthritis and his sister Alexandra lives with him and has taken over the duties that Calpurnia used to perform. Now, there are other family relations and skeletons which do not need to be drug out here. It looks, from the outside, that Maycomb is still the same but, as she will find out, things are changing.  The book moves along in a fairly easy to read way until about halfway through.  That is when Jean Louise happens upon a paper lying amongst the Sunday papers on an end table in the living room entitled "The Black Plague."  She reads it and is utterly devastated, incensed, shocked and heartbroken.  She immediately runs to the county courthouse where she slips into the "blacks only" balcony to observe her father at the Citizens Council meeting at a table with other citizens whom she thought cared for the black community.  The next day, she has a grotesquely elaborated, emotional confrontation with her father, in which she comes to the realization that she has been "color blind' all her life.  After "listening" to her harangue Atticus for 25 pages, which I could hardly read through for the livid emotional diatribe that it was, I was over this book.  How can you be that old, living in the 50's, raised in the South, and not know that there are conflicting attitudes about black people and their "place"?  I suppose there were people like that who were sheltered, or sheltered themselves from that reality.  I finished the book just to see if she would come to terms with life as we know it before the last page, and she did.  There are mental exercises and concessions and awareness of reality that take place in her head which bring her to a state of realistic acceptance.  It was exhausting.
Various news reports from a bevy of sources say that this book was a grab for money on the part of Ms. Harper's lawyer Tonja Carter.  The book was written before To Kill a Mockingbird and it is said that it is actually a rough draft of that book.  It disappeared and she thought it was lost when Tonja found it attached to back of an old manuscript of To Kill a Mockingbird.  She was thrilled that it was found and would be published. Her last days were spent in a nursing home where she passed away February of this year, just after the book was published, at the age of 89. It is said by HarperCollins that it serves as an "essential companion to To Kill a Mockingbird, adding depth, context, and new meaning to an American classic."  You could say that, but if you have read To Kill a Mockingbird, you know that it is about the plight of blacks in the South and a good lawyer defending a good black man, despite the color of his skin.  You don't need Go Set a Watchman to add that to your understanding.
You can read more about the  controversy at The Guardian/Harper Lee new novel
I give Go Set a Watchman two and a half stars.

Thanks so much for being here!!

Picture of Harper Lee when the book was released and when she wrote To Kill a Mockingbird
Image result for harper lee pictureImage result for harper lee picture

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The 30-Day Faith Detox

Renew Your Mind, Cleanse Your Body, Heal Your Spirit

Laura Harris Smith, Certified Nutritional Counselor, has written a thoroughly cleansing read, no pun intended. This book combines a safe, not radical dietary detox combined with spiritual insight.   The author lays out a 30 day plan which includes specific scriptures and prayers for each day as well as a meal plan.

Ms. Smith speaks from her own experience in writing this book.  She was raised eating homegrown vegetables and fruits.  She did not grow up on processed foods.  Her father always told her to "eat the rainbow" of vegetables and fruits.  She tells her story of having children and in her busy life, she more and more chose processed foods.  The foods that are in "boxes, bags or cans that sit in the middle of your grocery store."  "Dead food" as opposed living foods which line the walls of the store.  She advises that if we would eat more of these foods, mainly produce, meats and dairy, we would be  healthier.
She found herself in the habit of not getting enough sleep, eating poorly, not exercising and not being well.  She accumulated a sleep deficit that landed her on the brink of adrenal failure.  She was dabbling at good health, not making it a priority.  This describes many of us;  we keep going with lack of sleep, fast food, less exercise than we should and being basically not well as our "new normal."
The author has outlined a way for us to change all of that with a change to the way we look at food and our health in general.  In this book she outlines a 30-day plan to detox safely and sanely which will put us on the right path to physical and spiritual health.  Have you ever thought you really need to get some exercise, make wiser choices for dinner, and read your Bible more?  This plan will start new habits for you that will last a lifetime.
The plan is radical, I don't deny that.  But it is so worth the 30-day focus on your mental, spiritual and physical health that I urge you to give this an honest effort.  I feel certain you will not be sorry.
The book is divided into sections titles like Health-Related Toxins, Relationship Toxins, Financial Toxins.  Each day is detailed with spiritual toxins, corresponding emotional toxins and a correlating physical detox.  Specific internal organs are cleansed with each day's food.  She lists what to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner with a mid-morning juice or smoothie and an afternoon snack, ending the day with a nightcap (a healthy one!)  Laura also advises that if you have activities and obligations coming up such as weddings, reunions, etc. that you wait for a month when you don't have a lot of obligations.  She does however tell you how you can keep those commitments while on the plan, if need be.  Simply put, this is a great book.  The caveat is this;  be ready to change your life if you read this book.
I give The 30-Day Faith Detox five stars!  If you would like to know more, check it out at

30-Day Faith Detox  or TAKE THE 30-DAY DETOX

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, Chosen Books for the purposes of an honest review.  These words are my opinion.
Thanks so much for reading!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Lilac Girls

This debut novel by Martha Hall Kelly is an exquisitely heartrending read.  I know no other way than this oxymoron to describe it.  She expertly weaves a novelization of the true story of a group of  Polish young women who were held in Ravensbruck during WWII.  The story centers around Kasia Kuzmerick, who was held there, Herta Oberheuser, who became one of the doctors performing experimental surgeries and Caroline Ferriday, the woman responsible for bringing over 70 of the women of Ravensbruck to the United States for corrective surgeries, dental work, etc.
The story begins in 1939 on the eve of the war, with Caroline who holds a post at the French Consulate in the Rockefeller building on Fifth Avenue, New York City.  This volunteer position is a labor of love for Caroline.  She is head of family assistance for the French Consulate and as such, is charged with unraveling visa issues and other crimps in the refugee status of wealthy citizens that have fled the political uneasiness in France.  She also has a special place in her heart for the French children who were orphaned during the war.

Hitler has just declared war on Poland.  Kasia is the daughter of the postmaster in Lublin. We watch the progress of German troops across Poland and see Kasia, her mother Halina and her sister Zuzanna herded onto trains for the trip to Ravensbruck.

It is there that we see Herta turn from an idealistic young doctor to an emotionally frozen demon of a surgeon. Herta was raised in a normal middle class German home. That being one that mostly did not associate with Jews.  Although she has no disdain for them really, she has been raised on the Hitler anti-Jew propaganda, reading in her schoolbooks about the selfish traits of Jews and how they will take everything from Germany.  She is not a bad young woman at this point.  She has studied for the medical profession and earned her white coat.  She is almost a doctor. Herta does come with her own set of personal demons as a result of working in the butcher shop of her Onkle Heinz.  She is naive about the war.  She believes the reeducation camps are nice places where Polish (Jewish) citizens are treated fairly.  Upon seeing an ad for a doctor at Ravensbruck, she applies for the job knowing that it would bring a better salary for her and her mother and father to live on.  Her father has cancer and has become unable to work.  Her mother has to stay home to take care of him.  She is hired and packs her suitcase to move to Ravensbruck, coming home only rarely on holidays.

Ms. Kelly writes with such a natural conversational tone that you feel you are reading the diaries of these young women.  This is the life that the Poles, Jewish and otherwise, were conscripted to with the advance of Hitler and his anti-Semitic rhetoric and domination of Poland.

Ravensbruck was Hitler's only all female concentration camp.  It was there that experimental surgeries were performed on hundreds of women such as these that the author writes about in Lilac Girls.  Some of the women from Ravensbruck survived the horror of it to be released at the end of the war.  Their lives after the war were made so much better by Caroline Ferriday.  The title for the book comes from the Lilac gardens of Caroline at her home in Connecticut.  There is a story about that also, which I will let you read.

If you have read Holocaust novels before this, or seen documentaries, you may think you have seen and read enough of that horrible chapter in man's history.  I would suggest that you read this book.  It tells a story that you may not have heard or read about.  We know of Auschwitz, Dachau or Treblinka, one of the killing centers.  But the women of Ravensbruck have a story worth hearing and Martha Hall Kelly has written it well.  The author spent ten years in research and five years writing this book.  It is definitely a labor of love!
I give Lilac Girls five stars!
I received a complimentary e-book copy of this novel from Random House Publishing Group, in exchange for my honest review.  These words are my opinion.

If you would like to know more about Ravensbruck please check out this link Jewish Virtual Library/Ravensbruck
To read more about Martha Hall Kelly and her research and writing visit Martha Hall Kelly, The Journey

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Miriam: A Treasures of the Nile Novel

 Mesu Andrews newest release is Miriam, in which she writes the story of Moses older sister, Miram during the time of the Exodus. This is Book 2 of the Treasures of the Nile series. She picks up the story from the time just before Moses returns to Egypt, after forty years in exile.  Let me give you the "cons" (for lack of a better word) of this story, for me, before the "pros."   From page one, actually from the prologue, the author uses the word inundations to mark age.  Taking this from the annual flooding of the Nile, as a way that time was marked.  I had never heard that type of reference before and it was puzzling to me which was distracting.  After a few chapters, I understood what she was doing, and that the Hebrews marked their age by how many times they had seen the annual flooding.  Possibly the Egyptians had the same practice.  The terms Doda, Ima, Saba, Savta were all new to me and I had to keep flipping back to earlier references to remind myself what those terms meant.  Such as Doda Miriam, Ima Jochebed, Savta Jochebed. I am very familiar with Abba being one of the names our Heavenly Father tells us to call Him, so Abba Amram was father if Aaron or Miriam was speaking, Savta Amram if Eleazar was speaking.  That allowed me to put meaning to the words for Aunt, Uncle, Mother, Father, etc.  None the less, this kept me from getting into the story from the start.  I "soldiered" through and it did become easier, but not to the point that I was able to be absorbed in the story and get lost in it.  It was more work than I want to do to read a book.
Having said that, I must say this is very well written grammatically with excellent sentence structure and I learned a few things from this book which I will talk about here. If you read my reviews at all, you know that I am a stickler for grammar and sentence structure.  These are the things that make for easy reading and when an author does those things well, he/she has at least 3 stars from me, right off the bat.
 Mesu gives a scriptural quote at the beginning of each chapter, which sent me to my Bible to look it up.  I was pleased to find that she has indeed done her research and written each chapter very closely tied to what God gives us in His Word. I had no idea Miriam was a prophetess, or if I did, I have forgotten.  And I have done my share of O.T Bible studies. My bad there.  I also appreciated that quote because it gave me a preview of what was coming next.  The author has added some fictional characters which are all within reason for the time and culture of ancient Egypt and the Hebrew slavery so they added character to her writing of this story.  I learned some spiritual truths from this writing as well, which is a real bonus.  The wisdom that she writes coming from Amram and Jochebed, tell me that Mesu has a strong relationship with God and spends time in His Word.  If you are going to write Biblical fiction, those are two really good things to have.  She writes about the culture and relations between men and women, slave and master which add a human reality to the book.  As Amram was dying, he gave understanding to Miriam and Moses when he told them "Greater suffering means deeper revelation as you near God's promise." God's promise of deliverance was real to Amram and that gave strength to his children.
This was my first time to read a novel by Mesu Andrews.  She is a good writer and this is a good book.  It may not be my cup of tea because of the issue I had with the names, but that does not keep me from recommending this book.  I give Miriam four stars.  I suggest you pick up a copy and give it a read.  I think you will be glad you did.  I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Blogging for Books for review purposes.  These words are my opinion.  If you would like to read and review books check it out at

Thanks so much for being here!


Thursday, March 10, 2016

On Lone Star Trail

In the third and last book of the Texas Crossroads series, Amanda Cabot does not disappoint.  I read the second in this series last year, which was my first read of this author's work. I was pleasantly surprised that it was not just a romance novel.  She is able to bring real life situations with typical people working out their problems with faith at the center.  I appreciate that.
 Gillian Hodges was robbed of her lifetime passion for the concert piano by an automobile accident.  T.J. Benjamin was robbed of his life's work by a loss he felt he could not bear.  Gillian and T.J. meet when his motorcycle hydroplanes in the rain, narrowly missing Gillian's car.  She offers him a ride to her destination, Rainbow's End Resort.  There begins an uneasy stay on his part, waiting for repair to be done on the bike.  Gillian is there to visit Kate and Greg, owners of the resort.  Kate and Gillian are best friends and have been since high school.
As the story develops, we see Gillian and T.J. drawn together in friendship.  At this point enters another male interest, so....
Gillian and T.J. are both working out their disappointments and coming to terms with big changes in their lives.  Amanda Cabot weaves this tale in a very believable way.  I was trying to predict the ending as I read,  but just when I thought I had it figured out, another layer was peeled away.
This book was easy to read and absorbing at the same time.  Those two characteristics don't usually come together and it was refreshing.  I loved the descriptions of the Texas Hill country.  It sounds picturesque and engaging.  The author has a firm grasp of grammar and sentence structure (one of my sticking points!).  Her addition of multiple plot lines with secondary characters was spot on.   All in all, watching this story take place was interesting, engaging, absorbing, all of the good words that I associate with a pleasing read.
The first two books in this series are At Bluebonnet Lake and In Firefly Valley. I plan to pick up the first in this series to read next and suggest you do the same.
I highly recommend On Lone Star Trail and gladly give it five stars!
I received a copy of this book from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing, in exchange for an honest review.  These words are my opinion.
Thanks so much for being here!

See you soon,

Monday, March 7, 2016

The Intern

Robert DeNiro and Ann Hathaway are delightful in this movie.  Of course, if Bob is in it, I am probably going to make a point of seeing it.  I like pretty much every movie he is in.  Ann is someone I like to see as well.  She has matured into an excellent actress, from the Princess Diaries (2001) all the way through LeMiserables (2012) to this flick.  
The premise is that Ann (Jules Ostin) is an entrepreneur as well as a married mother of one sweet little girl. Her husband was a rising star and gave all that up to be a stay at home Dad when her business took off.  He believes in her ability and her dream. She started an e-com fashion website, promising (and delivering) great service with integrity.
Her right hand man, Cameron, sets up an intern program for senior citizens.  Those who have business experience and are retired.  One qualification is to be over 65 years of age.  To apply, you have to submit a video instead of a cover letter which the ad says is "so old fashioned."  Robert plays Ben Whittaker, the man who gets the job.  He has a "hole" in his life that needs filled.  He is a retired widower and has done everything he can to explore new activities and is looking for something productive to do when he sees the ad for the Internship program on the bulletin board at his local Starbucks.  The comedic experience that ensues for the viewer during Ben's video episode is laugh-inducing and heart-warming.  Just as all the comedy in this movie is.  He comes to work for Jules who is suspicious of him as an older worker and does not want him involved in her work life.  She swears Cameron did not run this by her before he moved ahead with it-he insists he did and she agreed.  She is so frantic with her schedule as Pres, CEO, Head Honcho that she misses some things;  like this one!  She agrees to a limited time with Ben as her intern and brings him on giving him very little to do for her.  He finds ways to be useful and relevant, ending up with everybody in the company liking him, Jules included.  The friendship that unfolds with his well placed words of wisdom and dependability make for a tender camaraderie that is genuine and easy to watch.
You know I do not give it all away, so I am leaving it there.  There are some heartaches in this story as well as laugh out loud comedy.  It is easy to escape into, making for a pleasant interlude.  It is genuine, warm, real and I highly recommend it as one to be watched.  Written and directed by Nancy Meyers, the creator of Something's Gotta Give, The Holiday, What Women Want, it has her signature warmth and realism.
I give The Intern five stars!  Grab the popcorn and your beverage of choice and settle in!  You'll be glad you did!
Don't go far, I'll be back soon with a review of a  literary new release for your reading pleasure, Ann Cabot's newest and last in the Texas Crossroads series.
Thanks for being here!