Saturday, October 31, 2015

All Is Bright... a book review

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All Is Bright
All Is Bright

by Colleen Coble
A Hope Beach Christmas Novella
Publisher:Thomas Nelson 
Available October 2015
Christian fiction / Mystery / Suspense / Romance

Publisher's Description:
A romantic Christmas wedding at Tidewater Inn gives Delilah's unique gifts a chance to shine. But will her light be snuffed out before the bride and groom say 'I do'? A romantic, Christmas wedding at her seaside hotel gives Delilah a chance to shine with her unique gifts. But will her light be snuffed out before the bride and groom say “I do”?

As manager of the Tidewater Inn, Delilah Carter has been planning a spectacular Christmas wedding for her friends at the grand hotel overlooking the ocean. While picking up still more twinkly lights and some last-minute groceries for the reception dinner, a huge truck runs her off the freezing, wet roads into the dark night. Her car stops just short of an enormous tree and the truck speeds off into the night. Delilah escapes with her life and has almost convinced herself the whole thing was an accident, but then she begins to receive threatening phone calls. With the wedding just hours away, she’s distracted and anxious. Then Sheriff Tom Bourne stops by the inn and volunteers to help.

Tom has always had a soft spot for Delilah, and he’s determined to protect her. But he is pulled away by a bizarre Christmas stunt that has the neighborhood reeling, and Delilah is attacked again.  Will Delilah have to cancel the Christmas wedding at Tidewater Inn? And will Tom’s protection be enough to save Delilah from the shadowy figure looming in the background?

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

All Is Bright is another keeper for my bookshelf to revisit over the years!  I have enjoyed many of Colleen Coble's novels and this one did not disappoint.  Novellas concern me that the author is only able to scratch the surface of the story line, but that is not the case with All Is Bright.  Colleen Coble seamlessly develops the characters and the story line in a way that makes the reader feel as it you are reading a full novel.  I enjoy vising Tidewater Inn and those that reside there.

So, grab All Is Bright, your favorite warm beverage, and curl up with a heart-warming read that will give you a break from your own hectic life!

I received a complimentary digital copy of All Is Bright from Thomas Nelson and BookLook Blogger program for my honest review.

Happy Reading,

     Ellen

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Ties That Bind... a book review

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Thresholds

The Amish of Summer Grove, Book One
ISBN: 978-1-60142-699-4
WaterBrook Press
September 2015

Book Description:

Ariana s comfortable Old Order Amish world is about to unravel. Will holding tightly to the cords of family keep them together or simply tear them apart? 

Twenty-year-old Ariana Brenneman loves her family and the Old Ways. She has two aspirations: open a cafe in historic Summer Grove to help support her family's ever-expanding brood and to keep any other Amish from being lured into the Englisch life by Quill Schlabach.  Five years ago Quill, along with her dear friend Frieda, ran off together, and Ariana still carries the wounds of that betrayal. When she unexpectedly encounters him, she soon realizes he has plans to help someone else she loves leave the Amish.  Despite how things look, Quill's goal has always been to protect Ariana from anything that may hurt her, including the reasons he left. After returning to Summer Grove on another matter, he unearths secrets about Ariana and her family that she is unaware of.  His love and loyalty to her beckons him to try to win her trust and help her find a way to buy the cafe because when she learns the truth that connects her and a stranger named Skylar Nash, Quill knows it may upend her life forever.  

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

I always enjoy a wonderfully written story of the Amish and Ties That Bind did not disappoint.   Author Cindy Woodsmall introduced me to a close-knit family and their Amish community living a simple, God-fearing life in Summer Grove, Pennsylvania.  I was drawn into the lives of Ariana and her family from page one.  I found myself cheering her on as she works toward buying the cafe and felt my heart stop when she learned the truth regarding the night she was born.  I was wondering how Cindy Woodsmall was going to tie up all the storylines in the book and then realized this was the first book in a new series!  I was so excited and disappointed... I love the book and now I have to wait for the next book to learn the outcome of Ariana's life!

For more information on Cindy Woodsmall, her books, and Amish recipes, check out her website.

I received a complimentary copy of Ties That Bind from WaterBrook Press and their Blogging for Books program for my honest review.

Happy Reading,

     Ellen

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Eve... a book review

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ISBN: 978-1-5011-0142-7
Available: September 2015
Publisher: Howard Books: An Imprint of Simon and Schuster, Inc.


Eve by Wm. Paul Young takes an elaborate look at Creation and God’s unending love, grace, and mercy.  Woven into a story of one girl’s search for meaning in her broken life, we find ourselves seeing a new side of God and His all-consuming desire of reconciliation with us.  It did take a while for me not to focus on the characters titles: Collector, Guardian, Healer, Mender, Scholars, and Engineer just to name a few, but to focus on their jobs and accomplishments.  As I neared the end of the story, I saw truths in my own life which were mirrored in the novel, Eve.  This will be a story which will be revisited often – in book and in thought. 
A few of the many nuggets gleaned from this story:
“Prayer is mostly about talking to God – about life and people and what is before us and who matters to us in that moment” (p. 101).  ~ Gerald
“… trust is about relationship, not power.  When two dance, each is always respectfully attuned to the other.  There is a timing of relationship, and that is Ruach’s (the Holy Spirit) playground” (page 257).  ~  God / Adonai
I received a free copy of Eve from NetGalley and Howard Books for my honest review.
Happy Reading!
      Ellen

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Lost Codex... a book review

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The Lost Codex


An OPSIG Team Black Novel
By Alan Jacobson
Available: November 3, 2015
Publisher: Open Road Integrated Media
Mystery / Thriller / Suspense/ Spies and Politics
ISBN-13: 978-1504003636

 
Publisher’s Description:

In a novel Jeffery Deaver has called “brilliant,” two ancient biblical documents reveal long-buried secrets that could change the world as we know it.

n 930 CE, a revered group of scholars pen the first sanctioned Bible, planting the seed from which other major religions will grow. But in 1953, half the manuscript goes missing while being transported from Syria. Around the same time, in the foothills of the Dead Sea, an ancient scroll is discovered—and promptly stolen. Six decades later, both parchments stand at the heart of a geopolitical battle between foreign governments and radical extremists, threatening the lives of millions. With the American homeland under siege, the president turns to a team of uniquely trained covert operatives including FBI profiler Karen Vail, Special Forces veteran Hector DeSantos, and FBI terrorism expert Aaron Uziel. Their mission: Find the stolen documents and capture—or kill—those responsible for unleashing a coordinated and unprecedented attack on US soil.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

I first met Karen Vail in Alan Jacobson’s novel Spectrum, published in 2014.  She works as an FBI profiler; and in this new book, she has teamed up with other FBI agents known as OPSIG operators (Operations support Intelligence Group) to carry out covert, deniable missions around the world.

This novel begins in Washington, DC and travels the globe in search of two ancient Biblical documents which could change the world.  It is fast-paced with many twists and turns along the way.  Once I was hooked on the prologue, I did not want to put it down! 

Fantastic, action packed novel with well-developed characters… live life on the edge with FBI profiler Karen Vail, Special Forces veteran Hector DeSantos, FBI terrorism expert Aaron Uziel, and many more!  I look forward to many more great books from Alan Jacobson.

I received this e-book from Open Road Media and NetGalley for my honest review.

Happy Reading,

         Ellen

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Bones Will Speak... a book review

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The Bones will Speak

A Gwen Marcey Novel series, book 2


Thomas Nelson Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-4016-9045-8

Available: August 11, 2015


 

Book Description

Forensic artist Gwen Marcey has become the target of a serial killer who believes he's been appointed God's executioner.

In Copper Creek, Montana, Gwen Marcey is struggling to put together her life after cancer and divorce. When her dog retrieves a skull of a murder victim and leads her to the victim's grave, Gwen uses her forensic art ability to identify a serial killer. She is horrified to discover all the victims look like her fourteen-year-old daughter.

The murderer is a "lone wolf," a member of the terrorist group Phineas Priesthood-and he has a score to settle with Gwen. Unraveling the tangled Christian Identity movement, where race-not grace-provides salvation, Gwen is in a frantic rush against time. She must use all her skills to uncover the killer before he can carry out his threat to destroy her and everyone she loves.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
Author Carrie Stuart Parks, an internationally known forensic artist herself, has penned a terrific mystery/suspense novel that hooks you from page one to the closing paragraph.  The main character, Gwen Marcey, is living through real-life problems that many of us are either dealing with or know someone who is.  Add a mysterious cranium, bones of a young woman, and a live victim to bring a chilling serial killer to their small town.


This is the first novel from Carrie Stuart Parks that I have read, but it will not be the last!  Although I have a crazy, busy life, I read The Bones Will Speak in two days.  I look forward to reading the first book of the series A Cry from the Dust.


I received The Bones Will Speak: A Gwen Marcey novel from Thomas Nelson Publisher and their BookLook Bloggers program.

Happy Reading,
     
        Ellen

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Her Brother's Keeper... a book review

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Her Brother’s Keeper
An Amish Secrets Novel

Thomas Nelson Publishing
Available: July 7, 2015
978-1-4016-8600-0 (e-book)
978-1-4016-8596-6 (soft cover)


 



Publisher’s Description:
 
Charlotte came to Amish country to find answers. What she never expected to find was peace.

Charlotte Dolinsky is not above playing dress-up and telling a few lies to find out what happened to her only brother. In fact, that is exactly what she’s come to Lancaster County to do. Now, calling herself Mary and slipping on a kapp, Charlotte will lie her way into the confidence of anyone who knows why Ethan had to die - unless she gets found out first.

But when Charlotte befriends a quiet Amish man named Isaac Miller, she begins to rethink her motives. And with a little help from a friend back home, Charlotte might find out that love comes packaged in ways she couldn’t have foreseen.

Isaac’s been caring for his cancer-stricken father and sympathizing with his frustrated mother for three difficult years. And that means he hasn’t been dating. He believes Hannah King is the woman for him, but Hannah is still grieving the loss of her fiancĂ©, and Isaac has all he can handle on the farm. When Hannah’s family plays host to a woman named Mary, their new cousin shakes things up for all of them.

As Charlotte digs deeper into the mystery of Ethan’s death, she finds more than she’d bargained for in the community he once called home. But will she ever learn the truth? And what will the community—and her new family—do if they learn the truth about her?
 
*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

From the opening paragraph to the closing page, I walked alongside “Mary” hoping to find closure in her brother’s death.  As she bumbles her way through the Amish culture, she finds clues to who her brother was before his death.  Through her search for answers, God works in her heart to bring her to saving faith. 

I truly enjoy Amish fiction.  With each new novel I read, I get a glimpse of the Amish lifestyle – God, family, and community.  Their strong family and community ties bind them together in a way I do not experience.  I guess this is why I keep coming back to this genre – love, faith, and family!

Thank you, Beth Wiseman, for weaving another wonderful story!

I received a complimentary e-book from Thomas Nelson Publishing and their BookLook Blogging for Books program for my honest review.

Happy Reading,
  
        Ellen

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Lorie's Heart... a book review

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Lorie's Heart (Wells Landing Series #3)

Lorie's Heart

By Amy Lillard
Wells Landing Series
ISBN: 978-1-4201-3457-5
Amish Christian fiction / Mystery



Publisher’s Description
Welcome back to Wells Landing, Oklahoma, the tranquil Amish community where still waters run deep and a brave young woman sets out to discover her faith, her family, and herself…

Lorie Kauffman is grief-stricken when her father passes away unexpectedly. But her heartache quickly turns to bewilderment when she discovers he'd been leading two lives—one of simplicity and hard work in Wells Landing, and one fraught with painful ordeals in Tulsa. As she starts digging into her family's past, Lorie finds herself torn between the Amish world and the Englisch world—and she's no longer certain where she belongs…

Lorie knows that if she leaves Wells Landing, she may never be able to return. But what if her destiny lies in the outside world—the world her father knew so well? Change is never easy, but with a bit of courage and the help of a handsome and kind-hearted Englischer, she just may find the peace, acceptance, and love she's been longing for…

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
As I turned the last page of this wonderful book, I knew I was going to miss these characters - new found friends.  I rode the emotional "roller coaster" along with Lorie as she began unraveling her father's past.   Lorie not only has to grieve in the Amish way, but she also feels compelled to learn of her father’s life away from the community.  Will her desire to know the truth about her father draw her closer to the Amish community or the Englischer world?  Amy Lillard brought these characters to life in believable situations and real-life problems.  I look forward to reading the other books in this series: Caroline's Secret and Courting Emily.

Happy Reading!
     Ellen


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Awake... a book review

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Awake

by Natasha Preston

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Teens & YA, Mystery, Thriller

Available: August 4, 2015

ISBN 9781492618522



Publisher's Description:
Scarlett doesn’t remember anything before the age of five. Her parents say it’s from the trauma of seeing her house burn down, and she accepts the life they’ve created for her without question—until a car accident causes Scarlett to start remembering pieces of an unfamiliar past.

When a new guy moves into town, Scarlett feels an instant spark. But Noah knows the truth of Scarlett’s past, and he’s determined to shield her from it...because Scarlett grew up in a cult called Eternal Light, controlled by her biological parents.

And they want her back.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

At first, I did not know what to expect from this book.  I usually do not enjoy books in which the chapters are written from each character's point of view.  Yet, this technique did not leave me scratching my head or wondering what is going on. 

The idea of have no memories of the first four year of your life does not seem strange.  I do not have clear memories from my early years.  But when peculiar flash backs begin occurring after the car accident, Scarlett pushes her parents to reveal the truth of her early years.

Natasha Preston has penned  "a coming of age" story with a twist - boy meets girl with frightening, repressed memories.  This book has it all... suspense, mystery, and a bit of romance!  The storyline had me hooked from page one and did not end until I finished the last page!

I received a complimentary digital copy of Awake from NetGalley.com and Sourcebooks Fire for my honest review.

Happy Reading,

     Ellen

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Once Upon a Cowboy... a book review

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Once Upon a Cowboy

A Whisper Creek Novel, #3
Random House Publishing Group
Available: June 30, 2015
ISBN: 9781101884966
Contemporary Romance



Publisher's Description:
 
Yoga instructor Jessalyn Alcott radiates peace, calm, and serenity—on the outside. Inside, she still feels like the broken, desperate girl from the trailer park. She's got dark secrets she can't share, which is why she never lets her relationships go beyond the third date. But when she travels to the Whisper Creek dude ranch for a friend's wedding, Jess is enchanted by a cowboy whose deep blue eyes, dimpled smile, and rock-hard body make it tough to remember why she keeps running scared.

Cole Driscoll has struggled to find his place on a family ranch where he's always played second fiddle. His future might be uncertain, but he's sure of one thing: He wants Jess by his side. Easier said than done. When it comes to getting close, she's full of excuses, and he longs to fix the hurt he sees in her eyes. Now that she's at Whisper Creek, there's nothing he wants more than to break down the walls around her heart and heal her pain with the power of love.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  * *  *  *  *  *

Maggie McGinnis has outdone herself in Once Upon a Cowboy.  In this third book of the Whisper Creek series, we come alongside Jess, the last of the three college friends who are slowly marrying off to Whisper Creek men.  We meet all three in Accidental Cowgirl; but Jess' story in Once Upon a Cowboy brings home what many women survive: abuse from the ones who should be protecting them. 

Maggie has penned a heart-felt story of how the past not only affects your past, but also your present and future.  As Jess' story unfolds, she realizes she must face her demons from the past if she is ever going to move forward.  Unfortunately, I could relate to the emotions Jess was reliving.  I laughed with my character "friends," felt my heartbreak as Jess' story slowly unfolded, and cheered her on as she began trusting others.

Thank you, Maggie McGinnis, for bring these characters to life in your Whisper Creek series!

I received a complimentary e-copy of Once Upon a Cowboy from Random House Publishing and NetGalley for my honest review.

Happy reading,

     Ellen

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Inside the O'Briens... a book review

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An amazing and heart-rending read....
an insider's look showing how to live well, and die honorably, with Huntington's Disease.


Publisher: Gallery Books
Available April 2015
ISBN 9781476717777
Medical Fiction




Publisher's Description:


Joe O’Brien is a forty-four-year-old police officer from the Irish Catholic neighborhood of Charlestown, Massachusetts. A devoted husband, proud father of four children in their twenties, and respected officer, Joe begins experiencing bouts of disorganized thinking, uncharacteristic temper outbursts, and strange, involuntary movements. He initially attributes these episodes to the stress of his job, but as these symptoms worsen, he agrees to see a neurologist and is handed a diagnosis that will change his and his family’s lives forever: Huntington’s Disease.


Huntington’s is a lethal neurodegenerative disease with no treatment and no cure. Each of Joe’s four children has a 50 percent chance of inheriting their father’s disease, and a simple blood test can reveal their genetic fate. While watching her potential future in her father’s escalating symptoms, twenty-one-year-old daughter Katie struggles with the questions this test imposes on her young adult life. Does she want to know? What if she’s gene positive? Can she live with the constant anxiety of not knowing?


As Joe’s symptoms worsen and he’s eventually stripped of his badge and more, Joe struggles to maintain hope and a sense of purpose, while Katie and her siblings must find the courage to either live a life “at risk” or learn their fate.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *


Never having read any of Lisa Genova's previous books, I was totally unprepared for the open and honest portrayal of a family living with Huntington's Disease... the ups, the downs, the anger, the fear.  We have been given a gift to not only learn about the disease itself, but also the challenges and unknowns for families living with this horrendous diagnosis.


Lisa Genova graduated valedictorian, summa cum laude from Bate College with a degree in Biopsychology and has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Harvard University.  With her training in the neurosciences and her wonderful storytelling, she has crafted a story with characters who could very well be our neighbors.  We are given an "insider's" look into the devastating physical and emotional challenges of families living with Huntington's Disease.


I look forward to reading Still Alice about a Harvard professor who suffers early onset Alzheimer's Disease.  Then, just maybe, I will see the motion picture created from the book.


I received a complimentary e-copy of Inside the O'Briens from NetGalley and Gallery Books for my honest review.


Happy reading,


    Ellen

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Love Letters... a book review

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The Love Letters


Available March 2015

Bethany House Publishing

Christian fiction / Amish fiction

ISBN: 978-0-7642-1246-8




Publisher's Description:
Marlena Wenger's life takes an unexpected turn on the day she learns she must care for her estranged sister's baby.  Spending the summer in Brownstown, Pennsylvania, to assist her Mennonite grandmother, and miles from Marlena's Old Order Amish beau, she feels out of her element in nearly every respect.  Yet Marlena determines to do her best and stay focused on her future, even as those hopes become drastically altered.

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
I have always enjoyed Beverly Lewis' Amish stories.  Each one she pens allows me to learn more about their faith, love of family, and reliance on the Almighty.  The Love Letters opens the door a bit wider as I learned about sects that have broken from the Old Order faith - the Mennonites and New Order churches.  We meet not only Marlena and her family, but also the Bitners next door.  As "Small Jay" Bittner steps out in faith to befriend a homeless man, he unknowingly begins a chain of events that ultimately affect his whole family.

My rating: 4 out of 5
A


I received a complimentary copy of The Love Letters for my honest review.

Happy Reading,
    
    Ellen

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Inn at Ocean's Edge... a book review

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The Inn at Ocean's Edge

A Sunset Cove Novel


Available: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4016-9026-7

Christian fiction / Mystery / Suspense / Romance

A story of family ties and love that binds them together...


Claire Dellamare unexpectedly joins her CEO father at the Hotel Tourmaline on the island of Folly Shoals, Maine, in hopes of closing a merger which would only increase their presence in the aviation world.  Yet, as she is checking in, she is overcome by a full blown panic attack.  What could trigger that in a place she had never been?  Or had she?


"In 1989, Claire Dellamare disappeared from her own fourth birthday party at the Hotel Tourmaline on the island of Folly Shoals, Maine.  She showed up a year later at the same hotel, with a note pinned to her dress but no explanation.  Nobody knows where Claire spent that year - and now, Claire didn't even know she had ever been missing" (back cover).


With flashes of memory and help from Luke, a Coast Guardsman whose mother went missing the same time Claire did, they begin their own investigation to uncover the truth surrounding Claire's and his mother's disappearance 25 years earlier.


I have enjoyed Colleen Coble's books in the past - Tidewater Inn, Seagrass Pier, Smitten, and Safe in His Arms.  But The Inn at Ocean's Edge has surpassed them all!  From the very first page until the closing paragraph, I was pulled into the mystery and suspense surrounding Claire and Luke.  Would they be able to solve this mystery before serious harm comes to Claire?  Why does the local law enforcement seem to be stonewalling?  Will her family survive the truth as it is slowly exposed?


My rating - 6 out of 5 stars   A+

Can I do that..... I sure can!


I received a complimentary copy of The Inn at Ocean's Edge from Thomas Nelson Publisher and their BookLook Bloggers program for my honest review.


Happy reading,
   
          Ellen

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Amish Clockmaker... a book review

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Which is more important - seeing your own family is taken care of or
helping another family who experienced personal tragedy in the past?


The Men of Lancaster Series, book 3
ISBN: 9780736957380
Available: February 2015


As Matthew Zook begins to expand his family’s Amish tack and feed store, he soon realized he does not own the one small plot of land he needs to make the expansion possible.  He quickly learns that the management building a resort next to his property has been trying to locate the previous owner to buy the land for their use.

To settle the dispute of the rightful owner of the land, Matthew must seek out Clayton Raber, the former owner of the store and land.  Yet, there is a dark cloud following Clayton.  His wife died under mysterious circumstances decades earlier and he was the arrested for her murder.  Although all charges were dropped, his family and church felt he was guilty.

Clayton left his church and family and was never seen again.  Now, Matthew must locate Clayton and try to convince him to sign the land over to him and not the resort.  With few leads to follow and Clayton’s family refusing to help, will Matthew locate Clayton before the resort does?

My rating:
A
4.5 out of 5 stars

I always enjoy reading about the Amish and their simple ways of living – add a mystery that spans decades, and you have a winner!  This story weaves in numerous subplots apart from locating the previous owner.  As Matthew begins his search, the readers get a wonderful glimpse into the lives of the Amish – their love of family and their strong faith in God.  I found myself cheering (silently, of course) Matthew on and felt the emotions of learning of one character’s battle with an often misunderstood mental illness. 

As much as I enjoyed the second book in the series, The Amish Blacksmith, I felt a deeper connection with the characters and storylines in The Amish Clockmaker.  Kudos to both Mindy Starns Clark and Susan Meissner for a wonderful, insightful novel.   I look forward to reading the first book in The Men of Lancaster County Series: The Amish Groom.

I received a complimentary digital copy of The Amish Clockmaker from Harvest House Publishers and NetGalley for my honest review.


Happy Reading,


     Ellen

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Lethal Beauty... a book review

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Lethal Beauty

a Mia Quinn Mystery

By Lis Wiehl with April Henry

Thomas Nelson Publisher
ISBN: 978-1-59554-905-1
Available: March 3, 2015




Publisher’s Description:

Mia Quinn discovers that a series of seemingly unrelated murders are linked. How far up are the strings being pulled—and what happens when one of her own is at risk?

The murder Mia is prosecuting seems like an open and shut case—until the accused claims he was the real victim and that the dead girl attacked him first. The tabloids dub her a "lethal beauty." Still, a conviction seems imminent. Then a key witness goes missing. Just when it looks like the killer could walk free, the dead woman’s mother takes matters into her own hands. 

Meanwhile, Charlie Carlson, a Seattle homicide detective, is investigating the murder of a man whose body washed up on the beach of Puget Sound, but he's got little to go on. He has no dental work, fingerprints aren't on file, and he doesn't match any missing person reports. Then a church pianist is senselessly gunned down before horrified parishioners. 

All three cases seem unrelated—but are they? Together, Mia and Charlie race to find the answer before another crime hits too close to home.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  * 

Once again, Lis Wiehl with April Henry shines the spotlight on a current social issue alive and well in America – human trafficking and exploitation of illegal aliens.  As Mia and Charlie work together to solve seemingly unrelated cases, we are greeted with the seedier side of humanity.
Lis Wiehl works her magic in crafting not only believable characters but also a very realistic plot with numerous twists and turns!  You will find yourself engrossed in the storylines, both case-related and personal, in which Mia and Charlie find themselves.

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
A

I received a complimentary copy of Lethal Beauty from Thomas Nelson Publishing and the BookLook Bloggers program for my honest review.

Happy reading,

  Ellen

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Last Sicarius... a book review

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The Last Sicarius


iUniverse LLC, Bloomington Indiana

ISBN-13: 9781491721087

Genre: Christian / Mystery / Thriller




Are the Gospels of Judas and possibly a diary of Jesus' earthly ministry worth dying for? 
Will they prove the Christian faith or destroy it forever?

Biblical intrigue
Theological thriller
Mystery
Suspense
Good versus evil

After surviving the Kolektor's rage and murderous plot against her and those she cares about, Chloe Lejeune returns to Louisiana to continue translating the ancient manuscripts of Jesus' earthly ministry found in the oil jars.  Yet, when a Vatican official turns up to have lunch with her, she soon realizes the mystery behind the ancient jars and evil is not finished.  Along with her son, Pope Francis "charges Chloe to find the cache of jars and keep them away from their adversaries" - the rightful heir of the Kolektor's organization.

Once again, Chloe works with Vatican officials and her son J.E following biblical clues to locate the Cave of Jars before the Kolektor's heir does.  As each clue brings them closer to the jars, it also brings the evil heir-apparent one step closer.  Who will find the cave first?  Will there be any survivors to the last stand between good and evil?

Van R Mayhall Jr once again has drawn the reader into the biblical narrative and locations.  With each twist and turn, you want to cheer on Chloe and her band of scholars and military Vatican guards.  Yet, the evil heir stays on their heels, or, even one step ahead.

I enjoyed The Last Sicarius as much as the first book, Judas the Apostle.  Unfortunately, the beginning of The Last Sicarius did not flow as smoothly as I had hoped.  In his attempt to make this book a "stand alone" in the series, Van R Mayhall Jr adds background information on the characters and basic plot from the first book into the beginning chapters of this one.  This strategy took away from the opening scenes of the new book.  I believe an introductory chapter summarizing Judas the Apostle would have achieved a smoother transition between the two books; thus, allowing the second book, The Last Sicarius, to stand alone.

My rating 4.5 out of 5 stars
A

Please note: I received a complimentary digital copy of The Last Sicarius from NetGalley.com and iUniverse Publishing for my honest review.

Happy reading!

     Ellen

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Dandelion Field.... a book review

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ISBN-13: 9780310339632
Zondervan Publishing
Available: January 2015

How many parents hope and pray that their child(ren) do not follow in their footsteps of bad decisions and/or actions.  Gin Lightly definitely prays for a better and brighter future for her daughter Raine; but, even a loving, mother cannot decide her child's actions and decisions.


When Raine and her mother's car breaks down in Banister Falls, Wisconsin, Gin agrees to stay so Raine can finish her senior year of high school.  During a class project, Raine is paired up with Cody Bennett.  Cody is a friend to all - athletes, nerds, and those not part of the "in" groups.  He is an outspoken Christian who helps lead the youth at Hope Community Church.


When Raine and Cody's relationship become serious, can he practice what he preaches?  Or will he lay aside his beliefs and walk away from God to live life his own way?


Kathryn Springer has written a story that so many women can relate to - poor decisions and the consequences which follow.  God's love is seen in and through the characters.  I look forward to enjoying more of Kathryn Springer's stories of faith, love, and understanding.


My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars


I received a complimentary copy of The Dandelion Field from Harper Collins and Zondervan Publishing for my honest review.


Happy Reading!


     Ellen

Judas the Apostle.... a book review

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Judas the Apostle

by Van R Mayhall Jr.
Published: September 2013
iUniverse LLC, Bloomington Indiana
ISBN 9781491703328

Judas the Apostle gives The DaVinci Code a run for its money!



Could the ancient manuscripts give a first-hand account of Jesus' earthly ministry?


Biblical intrigue
Theological thriller
Mystery
Suspense
Good versus evil

After the death of her father, Chloe returns to her childhood home in Louisiana to learn his death was far from a home invasion gone badly.  When she is given a hand-written letter from her father during the reading of his will, she embarks on a mystery of biblical proportions.

The mysterious jar and its contents bring both a future and a possible ending to any who come in contact with it. Will the ancient text prove beyond a shadow of doubt the ministry and mission of the Catholic Church?  Or, as the evil nemesis desires, disproves the basis of the Catholic religion once and for all. 

Immerse yourself with Chloe as she and other scholars try to unravel the mysterious Gospel of Judas before their time runs out!

My rating: 6 out of 5 stars, A++

I loved the way Van R Mayhall Jr intertwined biblical archeology, the study of ancient languages, and a riveting plot to make this a must read.  I was hooked from page one with the story ending much too quickly.  Good news - - - - - The next book in the series, The Last Sicarius,  was published on February 6, 2014. 

So, do you know who the Sicarii are?

Happy Reading!

     Ellen

Please note: I received a complementary digital copy of Judas the Apostle for my honest review from NetGalley.com and iUniverse Publisher for my honest review.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Captured.... a book review

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ISBN: 9781497692510
Available: January 27, 2015
Genre: Mystery, Thriller

When I read the description of the book, I was intrigued by the premise -

You are diagnosed with a brain tumor and only have 6 weeks to live.  How would you choose to spend your last hours, days, weeks?

Before I began the book, I mused how I would spend the remainder of my time here on earth.  I would choose to spend my time with family and close friends.  I cannot change my past, but I can speak life and love to those around me.

In Captured by Neil Cross, Kenny Drummond is informed by the doctors that he has six weeks to live.  As he processes the news, he makes a list of people he either wants to thank for helping him in the past or those he wishes to ask forgiveness from for past misdeeds.

What begins as a positive use of his remaining time turns into a downward spiral into all that is evil when he begins searching for a childhood friend, Callie. In all the different directions the mystery surrounding the disappearance of his childhood friend could take, this one had never crossed my mind.

Although I did not fully enjoy the storyline, Neil Cross' skill with the pen shines through.  His skill with the written word draws the reader into the story and allows them to feel the emotions as Kenny lives out his last days.  Add in some unexpected plot lines and you have an intriguing storyline.


My ratings:
2 out of 4 stars for my enjoyment
3.5 out of 4 stars for Neils writing style

I received a complimentary e-copy of Captured by Neil Cross from NetGalley and Open Road Integrated Media for my honest review.

Blessings,

    Ellen
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