I had never even heard of Delia Parr until last year when I read one of her books--Day by Day. Turns out that Day by Day is book 2 of her Home Ties Trilogy, and I had no clue I was reading the series out of order....which is not a bad thing since each book can stand on it's own. While I was not at all impressed with Day by Day (very depressing and slow-moving story), Abide with Me was just right. There are some pretty hefty issues brought up, but I didn't have that same depressed feeling with this one as I did with Day by Day. Overall, Abide with Me was a wonderful, light read, and as soon as I can find a copy, I plan to finish out the series and read book 3, Carry the Light.
Abigail, as well as book one in the Wives of King David series, Michal, are hands down two of the best Biblical fiction books I've read in a very long time! I have always wanted to know about David and his life from his boyhood all the way to his place as Israel's king. Both of Ms. Smith's books give tons of insight on what it might have been like back then, and more specifically, what it might have been like to be the wife of a king.
I have to admit that I struggled with this book a little bit in the beginning. Before I tell explain the reason why, I have to commend the author for keeping up with three overlapping storylines that span over both of her books. You see, Abigail does not pick up where Michal left off. Rather, it tells each story as it happened while providing little snippets here and there of what's happening elsewhere. While telling Abigail's story, the author kept me up to date with what was currently happening with David as he continued to flee for his life from King Saul. During David's portions of the story, he would occasionally allude to missing Michal, and how he wished he had taken her with him when he first fled from King Saul. I didn't mind that the story kept going back and forth between Abigail and David, but I found myself wanting to know more about Abigail and less about David hiding out in one cave and then another. That part seemed to be a little repititious since so much of it was already covered in the first book.
I thought the author did a wonderful job portraying Abigail's internal struggle between wanting to please God by honoring her marriage vows, and her desire to be free of her abusive husband, Nabal. Right after their wedding, Abigail was very outspoken with her belief in God and His laws, but Nabal does not want to hear any of it, and instead, he basically beats her to shut her up. As time goes by in their marriage, Abigail quickly learns that she's better off to keep silent and try to avoid the beatings if at all possible. I felt an incredible sadness when reading this because as we all know, not much has changed through the years with those types of relationships.
The most moving part of the book for me was after Abigail and David were married and she was with child. During that time, the author wrote that David penned Psalm 139 which is the psalm about how God knit us together in our mother's womb. Now I don't know if that timeline is accurate, but how it appeared in the story was simply beautiful. It was gradual, giving just a little taste here and there, and by the time the full psalm was written in the story, I was so overcome with emotion thinking about how God above truly does care about us from the very first moment of our lives.
There are some authors out there that, when they find their niche in writing, they need to stick with it. So, um, Ms. Smith....don't stop what you're doing! I was so impressed with your storytelling abilities as well as the loads of time you spent doing research to get everything just so. You definitely have great talent with this particular genre, and I can't wait to read what you've got in store with your next book...I'm really hoping it will be about Bathsheba. :o)
Before reading Accused, I had never even heard of Janice, and had no idea that she's been writing books for a few years now. I thought I would be getting an early peek at a debut author (considering this book doesn't release for another month). Well...no debut here, but nonetheless, Janice is definitely an author I'll be reading more from in the future! She does what all authors should do, in my opinion...write what they know. Being a veteran police officer-turned-author, her knowledge and expertise in law enforcement shines through much of this story.
Accused is also a very appealing read for those who want a little romance with their suspense, and the mix here is just right--not too much so that it's corny, but not too little to make you think no one has a heart. :o) It is all-the-more believable since Carly and Nick are divorced, and Carly still carries a great amount of bitterness toward Nick because of their split.
But the icing on the cake here is the plot itself! It is so twisted that you won't come up for air until the very last page! The bad guys in this story are all over the place, too, and just when I think I've got one pegged, another one rears his ugly head. To me, that's what makes a good suspense novel. Give me a little something to figuratively chew on, while keeping me glued to the pages at the same time, and I'm a fan for life.
If there's anything to dislike here, it would be the spiritual elements. Now, since I read nothing but Christian fiction, you'd think I wouldn't have a problem with this, but this is the first book that I've read in awhile that is as preachy as this one is. Carly has some major issues with anything concerning God, and her disinterest initially is a little repetitive. It's not until after the funeral that the preachiness starts to become overwhelming. I understand that everyone in her circle wants to be a witness to her, but it's all just laid on a little too thick here. I think if maybe just one character, perhaps two, had not shared their personal testimony, it would've helped the overall flow of the story a great deal.
So, with a mixed bag of thoughts, Accused is still a great read, and gets a high recommendation from me if just for the suspense alone. Out of 5 stars, it easily gets 5, but the preachiness causes me to bring the overall rating to a 4. I am so glad there is a sneak peek into book 2, Abducted, included in the back because I'm anxious to see how Carly performs in her usual element of patrolling the streets, a job she was not allowed to do in Accused. Oh, and not to mention what happens between her and a certain someone...gotta get the juicy details on that. :o)
This was a wonderful read, and my first experience with something by this author. It kept me guessing the whole way through! I knew it was a romance, but wasn't expecting the mystery elements that were thrown in. I was guessing all the way to the end about "who done it." I'm very eager to read something else by Lenora Worth since reading After the Storm.
No joke...Deborah Raney gets better with every single book she writes! This has to be her best book yet, and she's written some pretty awesome books! Her trademark is evoking emotion through her characters, which in turn, sucks the reader into an unforgettable story. Another author who does this well is Karen Kingsbury, but I don't think she's got anything on Deborah Raney!
The action begins in the very first chapter, and that is my kind of book. Unfortunately, it starts with a huge tragedy that affects 5 families and the community around them. As the days go by, the questions start to pile up. "Who's responsible?" "What started the fire?" Bryn thinks she knows how it started, but after awhile she convinces herself that she had nothing to do with it. It's not long, though, before the doubt starts to creep in, and she wonders if she truly was responsible.
Garrett's wife, Molly, was one of the firefighters who died in the fire, along with Bryn's husband, Adam. Even though I never got to read about them while they were among the living, I thought Deborah did an awesome job of portraying them after their tragic deaths. She also did an incredible job writing the emotions of the surviving spouses, and the incredible grief that each one felt.
There is so much more about this story I could share, but if I did, I would honestly be spoiling it for you! If you love stories that pull on your heartstrings, make you shed a few tears (I certainly did), and ones that just stay with you for days and weeks, then you need to get your hands on every single Deb Raney book available! I assure you....you will not be sorry! :o)
Until I got my hands on the two novels currently in the Big Sky Series by Tricia Goyer, I'll confess...I wasn't a huge fan of her work. Now, before you go bashing me on the head because I've lost my marbles, let me be clear. She's a good author, but up until a week ago, her books didn't have that "zing" or "snap-crackle-pop" that I love to experience when reading. And now....we've got a "snap-crackle-pop," a "zippa-de-do-dah," and a "wowza!" all rolled together thanks to her latest offering--Along Wooded Paths--the second book in the Big Sky Series.
I love Amish stories that take me beyond the borders of Pennsylvania, Ohio, or Indiana (where most Amish stories are set). This series just happens to take place in Montana, and thanks to the majestic mountains and the small-town folk, the little town of Kootenai is almost a character by itself. Everyone loves to stop by the little store where Marianna works so they can get a good meal, maybe a slice of cake, and some good conversation. You may even find Ben there once in awhile, participating in an open mic night of sorts. But what sets this one little place apart from all the other Amish communities is the ordinary interaction between the Englisch and the Amish. In most Amish novels, the Englisch are pictured in one of three ways: as a mode of transportation, as a trusted doctor that they visit regularly, or as a temptation to some young boy or girl during their rumshpringa. But when your car is stuck on the side of the road, or when your cabinets are void of food...everyone helps each other. That quality alone makes this series different from any other Amish series I've ever read, and ya know...I'd love to see a whole lot more of 'em.
If all that wasn't enough to really make Tricia's Amish novels unique, she's got one more little trick up her sleeve--their interaction with God. Now, if you're a regular to Amish books, you know that they are pretty much "by the book" when it comes to matters of church, faith, and their Ordnung. Just like every other facet of their lives, there is a system and order to things that has been there for hundreds of years. While I understand most of it (although I couldn't ever physically do it all), I've always wondered about the religious side of things. Why don't they believe in reading the Bible on their own? Why do they almost blindly trust every word from their bishop's mouth? Why do they believe in praying silently versus praying aloud? Do they believe that they're the only chosen group going to heaven? What about outsiders that say they're Christians, too? In Along Wooded Paths, Marianna has many of those same questions, too, and I'm on pins and needles waiting to find out how she comes to terms with her new relationship with God, and how it's so special to her.
And good grief, you'll smack me upside the head for sure if I don't give you the best morsel of all! Yep....there's a love triangle, too! And sweet mercy, it's a good 'un...one of the very best I've read in a long time. :o) Now, Marianna hasn't sided with the right guy yet, in my opinion, but I'm still hoping for things to work out the way they're supposed to...there's still hope. I just don't think she's truly happy with her decision at this point. (Oh, and there's not one triangle, but two...geez, could this book get any better?!)
Not since book 3 of Cindy Woodsmall's first Amish series have I been so impatient to read the last book in a series! How many days 'til April 1, 2012, Tricia...because I promise, I'm countin' them down!
Wow...was I impressed with this story! A feisty heroine, a stubborn hero, and a notorious outlaw made for one of the best westerns I've read in a long time.
This book reminded me so much of the series by Susan Page Davis about the Ladies Shooting Club. The only difference in this story was that there was no club--only one gun-totin' woman here--and none of their members ever shot anyone accidentally like Anna Finch did. (Okay, so 2 differences...but who's counting?) :o) One of my favorite lines of the story was when Anna decided a certain gentleman caller was getting a little too fresh with his courtin'. She wasted no time in saying, "A Derringer is not my pistol of choice. It is, however, the pistol in my skirt pocket." Needless to say, he went on his merry way.
The dashing hero of the story came in the form of Jeb Sanders, a Pinkerton agent hired by Anna's father to shadow her daily activities. What that job really amounted to was trying to keep Anna out of trouble at all hours of the day! Jeb was a no-nonsense kind of guy, too. He made it his business to be in-the-know about the important things, whether that was shooing away the wrong sort of caller, or interfering with freedom of the press when it thwarted his "official" Pinkerton duties. :o)
I won't deny it...I wasn't all that crazy about the first book in this series, The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper, but I was thoroughly pleased with this one! Kathleen's style of writing was a little different than what I'm accustomed to, but once I was several chapters in, I never noticed it again. By that point, I couldn't get enough! So, if you're a fan of westerns by such authors as Susan Page Davis, Mary Connealy, and Vickie McDonough, then I encourage you to check out Kathleen's books. Prepare yourself, though...it'll be one great adventure!
In some ways, I think I came upon this book at the wrong time. Having read nothing but Amish fiction for a straight month and nothing but it (literally), I was a bit burnt out before I even started this one. The back cover blurb sounded great, really, but I felt like I had to make myself finish this one.
The story lagged a bit in several places, and I was disappointed that the relationship between Anna and Samuel didn't progress any faster than it did. There were also times when it was difficult to keep all the characters straight. I kept getting the relationships confused between which characters were siblings and which were cousins. Part of that could have easily been due to the fact that I have not yet read the first two books in this series.
I'm giving Anna's Return a rating of 3 stars because even though I had a tough time staying focused on the story, it was still a good one, especially with the Amish culture thrown in. Without the Amish aspect, it would've been quite dull.
Discovering new authors can really be a mixed bag of surprises for a reader. I've had experiences where I wonder what took me so long to get around to them, and I've had other experiences where I wished I could've used my time differently. No worries....Vickie McDonough fits perfectly into the first category. :o)
Vickie's western style of writing was very reminiscent of Mary Connealy and Lori Copeland, except it was deeper. I loved that I got to really invest myself in the emotions of each character. Luke--who initially had a heart filled with unforgiveness--slowly allowed his heart to soften. Rachel--who scorned Luke many years ago--longed to admit that she'd made a terrible mistake. And Jacqueline--better known as "Jack"--was a feisty tomboy that just wanted her ma to marry Luke.
But setting up Luke and Rachel wasn't as easy as a couple of cousins thought it would be! Luke's cousins took it upon themselves to find a mail-order bride for Luke. What they didn't count on was that instead of one girl being interested in Luke...there were three! And what made things even crazier...poor Luke didn't have a clue what he was about to be in for--a pushy mayor, a nosy journalist, and three women vying for his hand in marriage! If that's not a recipe for a great story, I don't know what is!
I'm so happy to add Vickie to my list of highly recommended authors, and it comes after reading just one book. I have a feeling that the tiny town of Lookout, Texas has a few more surprises up it's sleeve before the series concludes. My rating for The Anonymous Bride is 4.5 Stars.
**Many thanks to Barbour Books for providing a copy for review.
Rather than give a review about all the great characters or the touching scenes of this book, I'm simply going to say that sometimes there are books that come along at just the right moment in your life, and they leave the most profound impression. To some, Baby, It's Cold Outside may represent a wonderful start into Christmas books this season, but for me, it became a personal journey of sorts--a chance to pull back the curtain and recognize that, just like Dottie Morgan, I'm not perfect, either. To some, that may sound like a horrible quality for a book. (I mean, really...most readers don't really like to have their toes stepped on while they're reading a novel, thank you very much.) But there's something about the way that Susan does it that doesn't come off as preachy or condescending. These personal, introspective moments are what make Susan's books so special to me. They get under my skin, and before it's over, I'm either at the point of tears and/or thanking God that he still loves me despite my faults.
And hey, if you're looking for an entertaining Christmas story, you'll still get it here...no worries. But I hope that, like me, you will take away something more than just, "That was a great book." I hope you'll give it the chance to be a blessing to you. I never expected it to give one to me.
Bathsheba, book three in the Wives of King David series, is the latest book by Jill Eileen Smith, and it doesn't disappoint at all! While the story itself is not new to me, the delivery of the story is what makes this book so special. I love the descriptions of David's palace, like the extravagance of the food and the elegance of his garments, which make the story come to life on the page. I also love the emotion that is displayed in the love triangle which is Bathsheba, David, and Uriah, and Jill does not hold anything back!
Jill Eileen Smith has seriously found her niche in writing Biblical fiction. I'm hard pressed to find anyone else at the top of their game in that genre as well as she is right now. She has such exceptional talent that explodes on every page with her emotional characters and words that breath new life into age-old Biblical stories. I highly recommend Bathsheba for fans of Biblical fiction!
I love being able to have a new experience every time I read a book, and when it comes to reading Amish fiction...well, that's a tad bit of a rarity. Most of the time, their culture is seen as difficult, closed off, and rigorous. But in Tricia Goyer's first Amish novel, those cultural boundaries are pushed to the edge, and seriously...it makes for an incredibly entertaining, yet beautiful, story that I won't soon forget.
What surprised me most about this story was the increased interaction between the Amish and the Englisch. Normally, the Amish are not known for this, but frankly, when you live in the wide open spaces of Montana, you don't have much choice about who your neighbors are. For Marianna and her father, this unusual arrangement with outsiders took some getting used to at first, but slowly, those self-imposed walls began to drop, and new relationships started to form. Not only were these new relationships with common people, but also, with God Himself.
Prior to reading Beside Still Waters, I had read only a handful of Tricia's novels, but truly, she has a gift with the Amish genre. Not that her other books aren't great in their own rights, but she has a different voice here that kept pulling on my heartstrings, and it just would...not...let...go. If you're like me and love a great Amish read, yet you long for something different, Beside Still Waters is one of the best. Period.
Fans of The Shack will love this new offering from Windblown Media--Bo's Cafe. It's crammed with just as much depth as The Shack, but just with a much better story, in my opinion.
You'd be hard-pressed not to find yourself doing a lot of self-examining after reading this. This book will step on your toes, get under your skin, and cause you to realize that not everything in life can be fixed by just putting a Band-aid on it. Some things simply take longer to understand and resolve, and after reading Bo's Cafe, you realize that that's okay.
The characters are fabulous, too. Each one is so real, and any one of them could easily be part of your own circle of friends. Also, the description of the cafe itself is very real. You can practically smell the aroma of fish and shrimp, and it makes you want to drive your nearest favorite seafood restaurant for a great meal.
Bo's Cafe will leave you saying "Wow" after you finish the final page. It's a book that should be passed around and talked about just as much as The Shack has been. No doubt about it....this is a book that everyone needs to read. It's just that good.
This was a really cute and sweet story, and I truly enjoyed Kelly's fresh and lively style of writing. I was very impressed with how much she has been able to accomplish in her young career as a writer, and if this book is any indication, she's got a very bright future as an author. Even though this was a very predictable story, it was interesting enough to keep me engaged throughout, and from the halfway point to the end, I actually could not put it down! :o)
However, I do have one small complaint about this book. To me, it seemed that there was almost no Christian theme, which is the opposite of what I've read in some other reviews. I don't expect an author to lead me to Jesus everytime I read a Christian fiction novel, but I'd at least like them to get more of a spiritual message across. Fans of not-so-preachy novels would find this book appealing.
I am quite anxious to read book 2 of this series which, I believe, is supposed to explain more of the local town feud between the Specks and the Grogans. I'm also interested to know more of what's happening with Midge, Clara, and Dr. Reed, and the rest of the town of Buttonwood. After reading The Bride Bargain, Kelly Eileen Hake is definitely an author that I'll be reading in the future!
What do you get when you have a talented female photographer, a newly-minted town deputy, and a scoundrel of the worst sort who has come back to haunt you? You get this book--A Bride's Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas--and it's a good'un, too.
I was so impressed with the detail of Addie's trade as a photographer. From the darkroom, to her studio, and to the portraits taken at the Arden Palace, it felt like I was looking through the camera lens and capturing all the subtle nuances that only a portrait can show. I could smell the chemicals that were used to develop the pictures, and I caught myself mentally counting the seconds along with Addie to get the right exposure. Now, in real life, I don't have a clue about photography, but just for a few moments in this book, I felt like I knew a thing or two...and that brought a smile to my face.
Miles was an enjoyable character, too. At first, it seemed like he was going to be green as the day is long at being a deputy, but he quickly settled into his role. His reluctance to share his past was believable, especially how it related to Addie.
Then, there was the drama associated with Vin Rutter. He came to Dodge City for a particular reason, and caused nothing but trouble for Addie, Miles, and Fran while he was there. I felt sure the I had him pegged correctly the entire time, but leave it to this talented author to have a surprise or two up her sleeve. :o)
Nothing gives me more pleasure than discovering an author that I've not been privileged to read before. Erica Vetsch has created a delightful Midwestern tale that is sure to have me returning to read her future novels. Fans of Mary Connealy, Kelly Eileen Hake, and Susan Page Davis are destined to enjoy this charming story!
I've always enjoyed Catherine Palmer's books. Every one always seems to hold my interest. This one was good, but not quite as engaging. I had a hard time at the beginning keeping all the characters straight, but I think part of that was due to the time period (12th century).
Bronwen is the son of Edgard the Briton. He arranges for Bronwen to marry a Viking to try to join their lands. Edgard does not know that Olaf, Bronwen's soon-to-be husband, has plans of his own to overtake Edgard's holdings. However, upon marrying Bronwen and returning to his home, Olaf immediately has to leave to wage war. He is chased back to his home, Warbreck, by the Normans, and Jacques le Brun, a Norman, seizes Warbreck for himself. Olaf dies in this battle, and suddenly, Bronwen is left with no home. What she doesn't realize is that Jacques le Brun fell in love with her from the first moment he saw her when her father announced her marriage to Olaf. Will she return his love?
Probably the only other thing that I didn't like about this book was that the Christian message seemed very watered down. I've noticed that in other Love Inspired books, but I was hoping that this one would be different because of what I've read in the past by Catherine Palmer. I'm looking forward to her next book Thread of Deceit which I believe is also a Love Inspired book, but part of their suspense line.
Having enjoyed the previous Dekker/Healy collaboration, Kiss, I had really high expectations of Burn. The premise behind Kiss was so interesting, and I just knew the Burn would be just as good. Well, it was good, but not great. There were a couple of instances that I found myself struggling to stay engaged in the story, which I think could've been helped by a better editing job.
In typical Dekker style, though, Burn had a high level of suspense, and there were times when I completely got thrown for a loop when the story took an unexpected turn. The bad guy was very bad indeed, and his fascination with Janeal was down right sinister. There were also some supporting characters that had some pretty deep secrets, and that was just enough to keep me turning the pages.
My biggest disappointment came with the lack of the Gospel that was presented in the story. This is probably the biggest thing that has bothered me lately with a lot of new Christian fiction, and the only thing I can attribute it to is that Christian publishers are trying to gain new readers that don't like a lot of preachiness in their books. Furthermore, this is the third book by Thomas Nelson that has been read in my family that had a very flimsy Christian message, and that really bothers me.
If you like a good clean suspense novel that's got a touch of romance and not very preachy, then, I would definitely recommend Burn. If the Dekker/Healy team ever joins forces for another book in the future, I'll probably read that book, too, but my expectations won't be quite as high.
Susan Page Davis is an author whose books I've come to love. From her early days of writing for the Heartsong Presents Line to one of her newest series, The Ladies Shooting Club, I've been able to rely on her ability to supply excellent stories to the Christian fiction genre. For those reasons, I was eager to read her newest novel, Captive Trail.
Captive Trail was a bit of a departure from Susan's usual style. There wasn't the spunky heroine or the handsome hero, nor was there the gradual and believable romance that I'm accustomed to reading. However, there was a sweet series of relationships that formed among the characters, and enough danger and fear evident with the local Indian tribes that I kept turning page after page.
I'm looking forward to the other 5 books in The Texas Trail Series by various authors that I have come to enjoy. My rating for Captive Trail is 3 Stars.
The final installment of the fabulous Brides of Bonneterre series concludes with A Case for Love.
I'll be honest...I was a little nervous heading into this last book simply because this book carried more of a male perspective than the previous two books. But hey, it didn't take long to put those nervous flutters to bed with such a dashing male hero! Forbes Guidry was painted quite well as the epitome of success in his law career, but has just one thing missing from his life...a woman.
Alaine took a little while to grow on me. At first, she seemed a little uppity with her tv program that she was bored with, along with her dismissal of Forbes' company. The latter soon became understandable, but there was absolutely nothing that would keep these two apart! Slowly but surely, their self-built walls started to crumble, and the fight was on to save a budding relationship amidst a nasty lawsuit.
This book had everything that I love--Southern charm, at least one character with sass, and the perfect dose of romance. I absolutely cannot wait to dive into some of Kaye's historical fiction next, even though I'm confident of one thing...she's a master at contemporary romance!