October Book Club Picks

1 Oct

I cannot believe it is already October! Wish the weather would cooperate here in middle Georgia — it is still hot! I’m looking forward to cool, crisp mornings, hot chocolate and apple cider and snuggling under an afghan with a good book. I may have to settle for a ceiling fan and shorts for my October reading, but my two book clubs’ October selections will help with my when-is-Autumn-ever-going-to-arrive mood.

Here’s what we are reading this month. Have you read either of these books? We’d love to know what you thought.

By The Book — Midnight on The Mississippi by Mary Ellis 

unknownNew Orleans — Hunter Galen, a stock and securities broker, suspects his business partner, James Nowak, may be involved in embezzling their clients’ money, but he’s reluctant to jeopardize their friendship based on suspicion alone. After James turns up dead, Hunter realizes his unwillingness to confront a problem may have cost James his life.

Nicki Price, a newly minted PI, intends to solve the stockbroker’s murder, recover the missing millions from the client accounts, and establish herself in the career she adores. As she ferrets out fraud and deception at Galen Investments, Hunter’s fiancée, Ashley Menard, rubs Nicki the wrong way. Nicki doesn’t trust the ostentatious woman with an agenda longer than the Mississippi River. Ashley seems to be hiding something, but is Nicki’s growing attraction to Hunter—a suspected murderer—her true reason for disliking Ashley?

As they encounter sophisticated shell games, blackmail, and murder, Nicki and Hunter’s only option is to turn to God as they search for answers, elude lethal danger, and perhaps discover love along the way.

 

 

Page Turners — Book of Ages: The Life And Letters of Jane Franklin by Jill Lepore

unknownFrom one of our most accomplished and widely admired historians — a revelatory portrait of Benjamin Franklin’s youngest sister, Jane, whose obscurity and poverty were matched only by her brother’s fame and wealth but who, like him, was a passionate reader, a gifted writer, and an astonishingly shrewd political commentator.

Making use of an astonishing cache of little-studied material, including documents, objects, and portraits only just discovered, Jill Lepore brings Jane Franklin to life in a way that illuminates not only this one extraordinary woman but an entire world.

Book Spotlight: The Thirteenth Chance

30 Sep

Do you love baseball? Well, elementary school teacher Olivia definitely did not! But a cocky pitcher with the Rangers is changing her mind. Check out the endearing rom-com, The Thirteenth Chance by Amy Matayo.

unknownBaseball star Will Vandergriff knows any number of women who would happily pretend to be his girlfriend. In a last-ditch effort to restore his good standing with his team’s higher-ups, he enlists the help of his neurotic, goody-goody neighbor. Schoolteacher Olivia Pratt might be a bit quirky and a bit of a loner, but she’s a lot more inviting than she knows. Will hopes that bringing her to his next game might revamp his reckless reputation and help get his career back on track. The only problem? The plan works a little too well. Not only do the higher-ups love Olivia, but Will plays his best game yet. Suddenly his losing streak is a thing of the past, and Olivia is his new good-luck charm. Will feels anything but lucky.

After years of keeping the world at bay, Olivia Pratt is pulling off the ultimate performance—not only reluctantly posing as Will’s girlfriend but also insisting that she’s oblivious to his major-league appeal. But she can only lie to herself for so long. Being by Will’s side feels good. Really good. Maybe it’s finally time to make a pitch for everything she really wants—and to find out just how exhilarating love can be.

amy-matayo-1Author Amy Matayo is an excellent speaker, mathematician, seamstress, chef…and liar. She’s decent at writing books but not much else. Then again, the book thing makes her marginally cool and a whole lot intimidating.

Not really. Not even her kids are afraid of her.

She graduated with barely passing grades from John Brown University with a degree in Journalism. But she’s proud of that degree and all the ways she hasn’t put it to good use.

She laughs often, cries easily, feels deeply, and loves hard. She lives in Arkansas with her husband and four kids and is working on her next novel.

Visit her website at http://www.amymatayo.com

You can also find Amy on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/amymatayo

Twitter: @amymatayo

Instagram: amymatayo.author

Snapchat: amymatayowrites

 

(Thanks to the publisher for a review copy.)

Book Review: The Lady And The Lionheart

29 Sep

51lpnwjb-2l-_sx322_bo1204203200_Raised amid the fame and mystique of the Big Top, Charlie Lionheart holds the audience in the palm of his hand. But while his act captivates thousands, it’s away from the spotlight where his true heart lies. Here he humbly cares for his pride of lions as if they were his brothers, a skill of bravery and strength that has prepared him for his most challenging feat yet — freeing an orphaned infant from the dark bondage of a sideshow. A trade so costly, it requires his life in exchange for hers, leaving him tarnished by the price of that choice. As the circus tents are raised on the outskirts of Roanoke, nurse Ella Beckley arrives to tend to this Gypsy girl. All under the watchful eye of a guardian who not only bears a striking resemblance to the child, but who protects the baby with a love that wraps around Ella’s own tragic past, awakening a hope that goodness may yet reign. When their forbidden friendship deepens, Charlie dares to ask for her heart, bringing her behind the curtain of his secret world to reveal the sacrifice that gave hope to one little girl — boldly showing Ella that while her tattered faith is deeply scarred, the only marks that need be permanent are his own.

 

618oeifs26l-_ux250_A Carol Award and three-time Christy Award-finalist, Joanne Bischof writes deeply layered fiction that tugs at the reader’s heartstrings. She lives in the mountains of Southern California with her husband and their three children.
http://www.joannebischof.com
INSTAGRAM @masonjarbooks
FACEBOOK Author, Joanne Bischof

 

My Impressions:

I have to admit that I didn’t know what to expect from The Lady And The Lionheart. Despite glowing reviews from fellow bloggers for this and other of her books, I had not read anything by Joanne Bischof before. The setting seemed interesting and frankly the buzz had me intrigued. So I jumped in and found that I would never look back! The Lady And The Lionheart is one of those books . . . the kind where the characters get under your skin and into your heart, the kind where the message of Christ is subtly told in a unique way you will never forget, the kind of book you can honestly say is a very highly recommended read!

Ella wants to be a nurse, to heal people even though her heart bears scars that remain sore and easily opened. When Charlie Lionheart, a gypsy circus performer shows up at the doctor’s office with a very sick child, Ella is drawn to the child’s plight as much as she is drawn to the intriguing man who seems to love the child with an unrestrained love. As she continues to treat Holland, her heart is drawn more and more to Charlie. Charlie in turn starts to believe in an unhoped for future, one where Ella can look past the scars he bears to find his heart.

The Lady And The Lionheart has a great setting. Who doesn’t love the circus? Joanne’s meticulous research is evident as she creates a magical world under the bigtop as well as the gritty and realistic life of the back lot. I could almost hear the cheers of the crowd, taste the popcorn and feel the nervous energy and anticipation of the circus acts. The story develops slowly with the plot unfolding with just the right timing. Main characters Ella and Charlie are complex and only reluctantly reveal their secrets. But when all comes to light, it is well worth the wait! Supporting characters add a depth to the story and the lives of both Ella and Charlie. Of course The Lady And The Lionheart is an historical romance, and fans of that genre will love every bit of it. But the spiritual themes were what touched my heart. The love and sacrifice of Christ is front and center and is depicted in a uniquely powerful way. I can’t tell you any more, because that would spoil the story. Let me just say that I was moved and awed by the way truth was portrayed. And I found myself shedding tears at the sweet finale.

The Lady And The Lionheart was a deeply challenging read for me. It expanded my view of not only the visible, but hidden scars that people bear. It also made me think of the insults and scourging Christ bore in a whole new way. Is your book club looking for a thought-provoking read, then this one is for you!

Very Highly Recommended.

Audience: older teens to adults.

Great for Book Clubs.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to the publisher for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

Book Review: 365 Pocket Morning Prayers

28 Sep

51hwb440qtl-_sx331_bo1204203200_Each morning when you arise, take a moment to talk with God about the day ahead. Ask Him to prepare your heart so that you can be ready to face any challenge that comes your way. 365 Pocket Morning Prayers can guide this time of life-changing conversation and help you express your needs and concerns to God. Don’t worry about what the day will bring. Instead, release your troubles and concerns into God’s care by reading and meditating on the prayers featured in 365 Pocket Morning Prayers. Begin your day in joyful anticipation, trusting that God is in control of your life and wants only the best for you.

 

To purchase this book, click HERE.

 

My Impressions:

Need more prayer in your life? Who doesn’t?! With 365 Pocket Morning Prayers you will have a great resource for spending time with God, even when you are on the go. Each day a short prayer focusing on your needs and God’s purposes will greet you along with a short scripture verse to meditate upon. There’s plenty of comfort and conviction between this book’s pages. For example, one day is dedicated to Legalism, reminding the reader that that is a problem not just of 1st century Pharisees. Other topics include Listening to God, Self-Image, God’s Patience, Truthfulness — there is something for every day and every situation. 365 Pocket Morning Prayers is perfect to keep in your purse or backpack for your morning commute (unless you are driving!) or to keep handy in your desk drawer for your morning break. Of course, it is also designed to be used first thing in the morning and is a great way to jumpstart your day or quiet time.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(Thanks to Tyndale Publishers for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Top 10 Tuesday — Fall TBR List!

27 Sep

Here in middle Georgia the calendar may say Fall, but it is still 90+ degrees outside! We are expecting a cold front on Wednesday night, meaning the temps will be in the mid 80s for the rest of the week. Pumpkin everything may be everywhere, but it does not feel like Fall here. I can take comfort in the fact that when Winter hits it won’t feel like Winter either! The folks at The Broke And The Bookish are hosting a Fall TBR Top 10 List this week. So while I wait for crisp, cool temps to arrive, I can enjoy some good reading. Iced pumpkin latte anyone?

toptentuesday

Top 10 Fall TBR List

Always with You by Elaine Stock

The Cautious Maiden by Dawn Crandall

A Day And A Life by Penelope Wilcock

61shosy0gal-_sx331_bo1204203200_51ihxjionzl-_sx322_bo1204203200_unknown

The Devoted by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Kit Kat And Lucy by Lonnie Hull DuPont

Midnight on The Mississippi by Mary Ellis

The Name I Called Myself by Beth Moran

unknown51aw2iirdxl-_sx322_bo1204203200_unknown-151sody6wfl-_sx325_bo1204203200_

The Princes of Albion by Jon and Thomas Hopkins

Tangled Webs by Irene Hannon

The Thirteenth Chance by Amy Matayo

51amzuvvnhl-_sx326_bo1204203200_unknownunknown-1

What are you reading this Fall?

 

Book Review: The Raven

26 Sep

41jklpz8chl-_sx322_bo1204203200_As part of his regular street performance, a deception specialist who goes by the name The Raven picks his audience’s pockets while they watch. It’s harmless fun — until he decides to keep the spare wallet a city councilman doesn’t seem to miss, hoping for a few extra bucks. When he finds not money but compromising photos of the councilman and his “personal assistants”, The Raven hatches a plan to blackmail the man. However, he quickly finds himself in over his head with the Ukrainian Mafia and mired in a life-threatening plot code-named, “Nevermore”.

Private investigators Trudi Coffey and Samuel Hill must scramble to sort out the clues — and their complicated feelings for each other — to rescue The Raven and save hundreds of lives from a wildcard bent on revenge.

 

41tko0oljtl-_ux250_Mike Nappa is an entertainment journalist at FamilyFans.com, as well as a bestselling and award-winning author with more than one million books sold worldwide. When he was a kid, the stories of Edgar Allan Poe scared him silly. Today he owns everything Poe ever wrote. A former fiction acquisitions editor, Mike earned his MA in English literature and now writes full time.

 

My Impressions:

Wow! That is the one word I can use to describe Mike Nappa’s novel, The Raven. I thought his debut novel, Annabel Lee, was great, and it was. But The Raven is over-the-top good! Am I gushing? Maybe. But for those who love a fast-paced suspense with twisting plots (yes plots), this one hits all the right buttons. #2 in the Coffey & Hill series earns another very highly recommended rating from me.

Trudi Coffey and Samuel Hill, ex’s with lots of unresolved baggage, are back in Atlanta working their respective cases. She’s a PI and he’s now a police detective after a stint with the CIA. Both are focused on finding the truth and when they stumble upon a mysterious plot, their radar goes up. Just what is Nevermore and what does it bode for the city of Atlanta? Along the way, they are met with Ukrainian mobsters, gangbangers and a small time deception specialist named the Raven. The clues are there, but they don’t add up to a complete picture. But that won’t stop Trudi and Samuel from digging even when their own lives are at stake.

The Raven is suspense fiction at its best. Using both first and third person perspectives, the reader is slowly let into the very complicated goings on. You never can be sure of just whom to trust. Some of the bad guys are very, very bad and have sadistic streaks. While others are just sort of bad — there may or may not be consciences behind their facades. And who knows who the good guys are, except for Trudi and Samuel. Gun-running, gang activity and political campaigns are all part of the plot making this novel’s setting of Hotlanta very apt. My oldest son lives in Atlanta and it was fun visiting familiar places throughout the novel. Characters are as complex as the plot line. You will love Mama Bliss, the 70+ year old woman who is both maternal and calculating. And the title character, the Raven, is an exasperating anti-hero that you will cheer for in the end. None of the characters, good and bad, are without flaws, a realism I very much appreciated. There is a deep spiritual theme that runs throughout the novel. Revenge and bitterness are contrasted with forgiveness and grace, and the characters must choose which they will live and die by. Trudi and Samuel have lots of seemingly insurmountable obstacles in their relationship. The last scene in the book shows just what they may be up against in the future.

A bit gritty, a bit gasp-inducing, and a lot good — that’s The Raven.

Very Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE

(Thanks to Revell for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

Children’s Corner: The Berenstain Bears’ Book of Prayers

23 Sep

61ct3zh6wnl-_sx432_bo1204203200_A collection of prayers from the iconic Berenstain Bears brand for children ages two to five.

This new prayer book for toddlers features Mama and Papa Bear, Brother, Sister, and Honey. Nearly 50 simple rhyming prayers cover a typical day and the typical worries of a young child. From waking in the morning to going to sleep at night, from thanking God for a meal to praying for His comfort when afraid, the prayers will help little ones see that any moment is a good moment to talk to God.

With its soft padded cover and convenient size, the book is the perfect way to teach children about prayer and the ways God cares for us each day.

 

My Impressions:

Prayer is important, even for little ones. The Berenstain Bears’ Book of Prayers is a great collection of simple, rhyming prayers to say with your preschooler. For every occasion — Rise and Shine, Mealtimes, Bedtime and more — this book has prayers to praise and thank God. I especially liked the sections titled Help And Guidance, Comfort and Forgiveness that have specific prayers that small children can identify with:

Dear Lord, I made a mess today
and didn’t help clean it.
I know it bothered Mom and Dad,
although I didn’t mean it.
It’s hard to say “I’m sorry”,
but that’s what I need to do.
Please help me say the words I should
to Mom and Dad and You.

Isn’t that sweet and the perfect prayer to teach your child? Over 40 prayers for all situations, plus the Bear Family modeling the importance of prayer, make The Berestain Bears’ Book of Prayers a wonderful addition to your family’s library!

Recommended.

Audience: children ages 2-5 (and their parents)

To purchase this book, click HERE

(Thanks to Worthy Kids for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)