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Book Review: My Sister’s Prayer

24 Feb

51fzrfbcl-_sx322_bo1204203200_Virginia, 1704

Celeste Talbot is usually such a sensible young woman—until she falls for an English soldier reassigned to the Colonies. Leaving her Huguenot family behind, she sets sail for America, only to realize that her younger sister Berta has been kidnapped and forced on board the very same ship. Whom can Celeste trust? The dashing soldier? Or the vigilant carpenter who remains by their side in the perilous New World?

Virginia, present day

Madeline “Maddee” Talbot has her hands full when she agrees to take in her younger sister, Nicole, following a serious car accident. The young women grew apart when Nicole fell into drug addiction, and Maddee prays this will be the start of a better life for her sister. But as they investigate a trauma from their childhood, Maddee must keep a diligent eye on Nicole—and the shadowy figure watching them from afar.

mindy-starns-clark-250-shadowMindy Starns Clark is the bestselling author of more than 30 books, both fiction and nonfiction, and has received numerous literary honors, including two Christy Awards and RT Book Review Magazine’s 2012 Career Achievement Award. Mindy and her husband, John, have two adult children and live near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

61m0vp8plil-_ux250_Leslie Gould is the best-selling and award-winning author of twenty-three novels. She loves traveling, research, Shakespeare’s plays, and church history. She and her husband live in Portland, Oregon and are the parents of four children. http://www.lesliegould.com/

 

 

My Impressions:

My Sister’s Prayer by award-winning authors Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould continues the saga of the Talbot family. This time sisters are the focus of the novel with the dual storylines of Celeste and Berta and Maddee and Nicole. The setting is Virginia, but the times the sisters live in could not be more different. Celeste and Berta are new immigrants to the Virginia colony, and Maddee and Nicole’s story is contemporary. But despite the differences in culture and technology, there are many parallels that can be drawn — struggles of the heart are not so different across the centuries. My book club, By The Book, chose this as their February selection, and it got a unanimous thumbs up! We had a great discussion.

There were several things we liked about My Sister’s Prayer. Number one is the historical setting of Celeste and Berta’s story. Our group includes a 4th grade teacher who loves history. She read many excerpts to her class in their discussions on indentured servants. This topic, as well as the general deprivations and dangers of immigration in the early 1700s, generated a great conversation.

We liked the likable characters and disliked those who were either cads, bad guys, or generally annoying 🙂 . There were a number of minor characters that gave depth to the main characters’ stories. We also liked the romances that developed. The continuing mystery of the murder at the cabin when the cousins were children provided a connecting thread for the contemporary plots. The only criticism we had was that the ending seemed rushed — everything wrapped up in just a few pages.

We recommend My Sister’s Prayer and are looking forward to book 3 in the series, My Daughter’s Legacy, which is due out in July of this year.

Recommended.

Audience: older teens and adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(I purchased this book from Amazon. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Mini-Review: The Newsmakers

22 Feb

TV reporter Erica Sparks has become a superstar overnight. Is it due to her hard work and talent, or is she at the center of a spiraling conspiracy?

518cdz9c6zl-_sx331_bo1204203200_Erica Sparks is a beautiful and ambitious reporter who has just landed her dream job at Global News Network in New York. And while it was hard to leave Jenny, her cherished eight-year-old daughter, in the custody of her ex-husband, Erica is determined to succeed in the cutthroat world of big-time broadcasting. She can only hope her troubled past won’t come back to sabotage her dreams.

Although the wounds from her divorce are still fresh, Erica can’t deny the chemistry between her and her new producer, the handsome and empathetic Greg Underwood. But a relationship is the last thing she wants right now.

On her very first assignment, Erica inadvertently witnesses — and films — a horrific tragedy, scooping all the other networks. Mere weeks later, another tragedy strikes—again, right in front of Erica and her cameras.

Her career skyrockets overnight, but Erica is troubled. Deeply. This can’t just be coincidence. But what is it?

Erica will stop at nothing to uncover the truth. But she has to make sure disaster — and her troubled past — don’t catch up with her first.

copy_of_wiehl__lis_blueLis Wiehl is an American author and legal analyst for Fox News.

She is an adjunct professor of law at New York Law School, and used to be an associate professor at University of Washington Law School. She has offered legal commentary for National Public Radio program and on Bill O’Reilly’s radio program, The Radio Factor. She appears weekly on The O’Reilly Factor, Your World with Neil Cavuto, The Kelly File with Megyn Kelly, Lou Dobbs Tonight, the Imus morning shows, and hosts the Legal Lis radio show and the Wiehl of Justice podcast.

238836Sebastian Stuart is a native New Yorker who now lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

 

 

 

 

My Impressions:

I have been a big fan of Lis Wiehl’s novels since reading her Triple Threat series. I have read almost all of her books and have really enjoyed them. But The Newsmakers? Not so much. The premise sounded very interesting — an up-and-coming investigative reporter who not only witnesses first hand huge news stories, but becomes part of the stories themselves. Is there something sinister going on that is fueling her rise to fame? Great stuff for a story. But this one just fell flat for me. The characters were one-dimensional, and the mystery was easy to spot. Thomas Nelson is the publisher of The Newsmakers, but there wasn’t much in the book that would let you know they are Christian publishers. Besides the language, there is a big creepiness that seemed a bit gratuitous and frankly titillating. I was disappointed in that from a publisher that I have really liked. Thomas Nelson has ventured into an edginess that I have liked, but this one just went too far. The Newsmakers is book 1 in the series, but I don’t think I will be reading any of the subsequent books.

Audience: adults.

(I purchased this book. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Book Review (+ Giveaway): The Newcomer

20 Feb

the-newcomer-fb-coverClick HERE to purchase your copy.

the-newcomerAbout The Book

Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher

Genre: Historical; Amish

Release Date: January 31

In 1737, Anna Konig and her fellow church members stagger off a small wooden ship after ten weeks at sea, eager to start a new life in the vibrant but raw Pennsylvania frontier. On the docks of Port Philadelphia waits bishop Jacob Bauer, founder of the settlement and father to ship carpenter Bairn. It’s a time of new beginnings for the reunited Bauer family, and for Anna and Bairn’s shipboard romance to blossom.

But this perfect moment cannot last. As Bairn grasps the reality of what it means to be Amish in the New World–isolated, rigid with expectations, under the thumb of his domineering father–his enthusiasm evaporates. When a sea captain offers the chance to cross the ocean one more time, Bairn grabs it. Just one more crossing, he promises Anna. But will she wait for him?

When Henrik Newman joins the church just as it makes its way to the frontier, Anna is torn. He seems to be everything Bairn is not–bold, devoted, and delighted to vie for her heart. And the most dramatic difference? He is here; Bairn is not.

Far from the frontier, an unexpected turn of events weaves together the lives of Bairn, Anna, and Henrik. When a secret is revealed, which true love will emerge?

About The Author

suzanne6-235x300Suzanne Woods Fisher is an award-winning, bestselling author of more than a dozen novels, including Anna’s Crossing, The Bishop’s Family series, and The Inn at Eagle Hill series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace and The Heart of the Amish. She lives in California. Learn more at http://www.suzannewoodsfisher.com and follow Suzanne on Twitter @suzannewfisher.

Guest Post from Suzanne Woods Fisher

Pennsylvania of 1737, the setting for The Newcomer, is like a foreign country. Parts of it might seem familiar — the same hills and creeks and blue sky, but we’d hardly recognize the settlers. People like Anna, or Bairn, or the mysterious Newcomer. We wouldn’t be able to understand their language, their customs and traditions. Their world was that different from our modern one.

The first group of Amish immigrants (first written about in Anna’s Crossing and followed up in The Newcomer) settled northwest of Philadelphia, then a vast wilderness, and relied on each other for safety, security, building projects, and church. In nearby Germantown, settlers were tradesmen, so they clustered houses together in small knots. The Amish farmers took out land warrants for sizeable properties and lived considerable distances from each other.

In The Newcomer, Anna cooked food in a cauldron over a large hearth. One-pot meals can trace their beginnings to open-hearth cooking when ingredients for a meal went into a large kettle suspended over the fire. Traditional dishes — ham and beans, pork and sauerkraut — used sturdy, available, and simple ingredients that improved with long, slow cooking. The dishes could be easily expanded when the need arose to set a few more places at the table. And it did, often. Large families and unannounced company inspired Amish cooks to find ways to “stretch the stew.”

Noodles (including dumplings and rivvels) could be tossed into a simmering broth to make a meal stretch. Most farms had a flock of chickens, so eggs were easily at hand. Today, homemade noodles are still a favorite dish.

Another “stew stretcher” was cornmeal mush, originally eaten as a bread substitute. Early German settlers who made their home in eastern Pennsylvania roasted the yellow field corn in a bake oven before it was shelled and ground at the mill. The roasting process gave a nutty rich flavor to the cornmeal. Mush is still part of the diet the Old Order Amish — cooked and fried, baked, added into scrapple, smothered in ketchup. Dress it up and you’ve got polenta.

Now here’s one thing we do have in common with 1737 Pennsylvania immigrant . . . a love of good food and a shortage of time! Here’s one of my favorite one-pot recipes — probably not the kind of stew Anna might have made for ship carpenter Bairn or the mysterious Newcomer (ah, which man one stole her heart?) . . . but definitely delicious. Enjoy!

Lentil Chili

Here’s one of my favorite “stew stretchers”. You can expand it even more by serving over rice.

Ingredients:

1 onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced
10 c. water
1 lb. dry lentils
1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt (season to your taste)

½ tsp. pepper
2 c. salsa (your favorite variety)
29 oz. canned tomatoes, crushed

My Impressions:

Suzanne Woods Fisher is my go-to author for Amish fiction. Her Amish Beginnings series is a bit different, though, as it explores the migration of the Amish to the New World in the early 1700s. The second book in the series, The Newcomer, finds the small Amish church from Ixheim, Germany in Penn’s Woods ready to embark on a new life where they will be free to live according to their conscience. I loved the historical details, including historical figures, that Fisher includes in this novel. This one is perfect for those who want to know more about the Amish in America.

As stated above, The Newcomer is an historical novel. I was intrigued by the immigration requirements of the British government, and the reaction that came from the those newly arrived. While naturalization may have only taken a few days to a few weeks, the immigration process was no easy feat. Months of a dangerous sea crossing gave way to lines at the courthouse to swear allegiance to the British king. For many, citizenship, and the land that could come with it, required compromise and patience. Then the immigrants were tasked with finding jobs or clearing land for homes and farms. Sacrifices abounded for a new start. The main characters from book 1, Anna’s Crossing, are joined by a few new characters that add depth and a bit of intrigue to the story. If you’ve read book 1 and are hoping for more from Bairn and Anna, you won’t be disappointed. Characters battle doubts, discouragement, and fear in their journeys. It was interesting to me that the small church that gave up so much to worship God, often forgot to focus on Him and His promises. They are not so different from modern believers who seek other’s opinions or their own sufficiency before God’s.

For fans of Amish or historical fiction, The Newcomer is a great choice. It gets a recommended rating from me.

Recommended.

Audience: older teens to adults.

(I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

Blog Stops

February 7: cherylbbookblog

February 7: Moments Dipped in Ink

February 7: inklings and notions

February 8: Just Commonly

February 8: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS

February 8: Ashley’s Bookshelf

February 9: A Reader’s Brain

February 9: Genesis 5020

February 9: A Simple Life, really?!

February 10: Lane Hill House

February 10: Blogging With Carol

February 10: Eat, Read, Teach, Blog

February 11: Quiet Quilter

February 11: Daysong Reflections

February 11: Southern Gal Loves to Read

February 12: Christian Bookaholic

February 12: Jeanette’s Thoughts

February 12: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

February 13: Karen Sue Hadley

February 13: Just the Write Escape

February 14: Rhonda’s Doings

February 14: Bigreadersite

February 14: Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses

February 15: Blossoms and Blessings

February 15: Connie’s History Classroom

February 16: Bibliophile Reviews

February 16: Book by Book

February 17: Pause for Tales

February 17: A Holland Reads

February 18: A Greater Yes

February 18: The Power of Words

February 19: Lighthouse Academy

February 19: A Baker’s Perspective

February 20: By The Book

February 20: Giveaway Lady

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Suzanne is giving away a Kindle! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!https://promosimple.com/ps/b0d1

Book Review: Deep Water

16 Feb

518hst1tmal-_sx323_bo1204203200_An obesity treatment has been discovered, but before anyone can benefit, a dispute breaks out about who owns the discovery. David Marchmont, a patent lawyer, is asked to handle the case. There’s one big problem, though: crucial evidence is missing — evidence that might have a bearing on the clinical trial two years before.

David’s personal life has its own challenges. His daughter, Chloe, has a rare and serious genetic condition. His wife, Rachel, becomes friendly with a young researcher, Kate Flanagan, who is seeking a cure for Chloe’s disorder; Kate, in turn, becomes concerned that her lab colleagues may be cutting corners on the obesity drug.

As evidence of mishandling mounts — then disappears — Kate, Rachel, and David find themselves caught up in acute ethical challenges and personal danger. Is biotechnology outstripping our capacity to make ethical decisions?

 

Dr. Christine Poulson has lectured in art history and is familiar with academic life. A member of the Society of Friends, she is the author of several novels and works of nonfiction and is an active blogger. She is a member of the Crime Writers’ Association.

My Impressions: 

When I signed up to review Deep Water by Christine Poulson, I’m not sure what I expected. I guess I thought this book would be a medical thriller with lots of action, but short on character development. I was very pleasantly surprised by the depth of characterization, the complexity of the plot, the ethical and moral themes, and the very good writing of this thinking man’s mystery. Deep Water is a gem, and I am hopeful Christine Poulson will have a long fiction career.

Let’s first look at setting. Deep Water is set in Ely, England a place sometimes described as Silicon Fen. This very old cathedral town set in the marshes is home to high tech and biotech firms and labs. I liked that the author spent time describing the city and cathedral — it definitely added to the book. The characters are complex, flawed and very likable. I became invested in their lives. The mystery involves a clinical trial and patent case with some irregularities — an interesting premise that kept the pages turning. But this book has a bit more than the average mystery. There are moral and ethical questions that keep the characters and the reader engaged and thinking. While not an overtly Christian book as one would define it here in the US, Deep Water has a foundation based on a Christian worldview. Life has value, whether it is pre-born or born, healthy or medically fragile. The issues the characters deal with are not easy, but they are true to life. Deep Water is published by a British house, so there is a bit of language and social drinking that may not appeal to those who read only Christian fiction. I did not have any trouble with it.

A great blend of mystery and ethical questions, Deep Water gets a recommended rating from me.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to Kregel and Lion Hudson for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Book Review: Justice Delayed

15 Feb

unknownIt’s been eighteen years since TV crime reporter Andi Hollister’s sister was murdered. The confessed killer is behind bars, and the execution date is looming. But when a letter surfaces stating that the condemned killer didn’t actually do it, Detective Will Kincaide of the Memphis Cold Case Unit will stop at nothing to help Andi get to the bottom of it. After all, this case is personal: the person who confessed to the crime is Will’s cousin. They have less than a week to find the real killer before the wrong person is executed. But much can be accomplished in that week–including uncovering police corruption, running for your life, and falling in love.

With the perfect mixture of intrigue and nail-biting suspense, award-winning author Patricia Bradley invites her readers to crack the case — if they can — alongside the best Memphis has to offer.

 

a1zndxfspll-_ux250_Patricia Bradley lives in North Mississippi and is a former abstinence educator and co-author of RISE To Your Dreams, an abstinence curriculum. But her heart is tuned to suspense. Patricia’s romantic suspense books include the Logan Point series set in Mississippi. Two sweet romances for Harlequin Heartwarming, Matthew’s Choice and The Christmas Campaign are available on Amazon. She is currently working on The Memphis Cold Case series.

 

My Impressions:

I became a fan of Patricia Bradley’s books when I read her 4-book Logan Point series. A new series, The Memphis Cold Case series, has started out with a bang! Justice Delayed is a page-turning romantic suspense that will appeal to fans of this genre. I loved it!

From its opening Prologue, Justice Delayed caught my attention and never let go. A plucky, yet flawed heroine, a tender and hunky hero, and an 18 year old mystery all combine to make this book highly readable and believable. I liked the race-against-the-clock plot, the mystery that unfolded for the reader right along with the characters, and the natural faith that was woven throughout. Characters definitely do not have all the answers — they struggle with the same doubts, fears, and failings of us all. I liked that they were like regular people. There were a lot of characters introduced, and I found myself struggling to keep up with who’s who. But I think that this is due in part to their appearances in forthcoming books. The ending came a bit abruptly for me — I would have loved an epilogue. I am hoping that some of the loose ends with relationships will be tied up in the next books.

All in all, Justice Delayed was a great read. It’s a great edition to a romantic suspense library.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

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

Children’s Corner — Two Board Books for Black History Month

9 Feb

February is Black History Month, and Worthy Publishing has two great board books, The Story of Rosa Parks and The Story of Martin Luther King Jr., to share with the littlest of readers. Here’s the scoop:

unknownThis little book of only about 200 words introduces Rosa Parks, called the mother of the civil rights movement. Here is the story of her courageous decision to remain on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, an action that resulted in her arrest and, ultimately, a victory for civil rights. The rich oil paintings by artist Steven Walker contribute to the tension of the moment and the understanding of Rosa Parks.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

 

 

unknown-1This little book tells the story of Martin Luther King Jr. in a way that even very young children will understand. This simple but accurate account of his life begins with King’s childhood, making it easy for little ones to relate to his story. Children will learn that he excelled in school, became a minister, and worked to end segregation in America. This book, with only about 200 words accompanied by delicate watercolors, is a great way for parents to begin to teach their children about this inspirational historical figure.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

My Impressions:

It is never too early to introduce your children to historical events and people that have made a huge impact on our current society. The board books, The Story of Rosa Parks and The Story of Martin Luther King Jr., are easily understood looks into what the world was like before the Civil Rights movement. The simple phrases of the stories are accompanied by illustrations that bring the struggles of African Americans to life. The books also emphasize the great strides we have made in the equality of all Americans. Children will easily see themselves in the stories as well and feel empathy for what others in history went through. Standing for truth and justice, living lives of integrity and peace, both of these heroes of the Civil Rights movement will come alive to your kids. So if you are looking for a way to share our nation’s history with your kids, consider choosing these two books.

Recommended.

Audience: children ages 2-5.

(Thanks to Worthy Publishing for complimentary copies of these books. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Book Review: Sins of The Past

8 Feb

51qur6wq4yl-_sx322_bo1204203200_Three Novellas from Bestselling Authors

In Dee Henderson‘s Missing, a Wyoming sheriff is called to Chicago when his elderly mother goes missing. Paired with a savvy Chicago cop, the two realize her disappearance is no accident, and a race against the clock begins.

Dani Pettrey returns to Alaska with Shadowed, introducing readers to the parents of her beloved McKenna clan. Adventure, romance, and danger collide when a young fisherman nets the body of an open-water swimming competitor who may actually be a possible Russian defector.

Lynette Eason‘s Blackout delivers the story of a woman once implicated in a robbery gone wrong. The loot has never been found — but her memory of that night has always been unreliable. Can she remember enough to find her way to safety when the true culprit comes after her?

 

Dee Henderson is the author of 14 best-selling novels, including the acclaimed O’Malley series and the Uncommon Heroes series. As a leader in the inspirational romantic suspense category, her books have won or been nominated for several prestigious industry awards, including the RWA’s RITA Award, the Christy Award, the ECPA Gold Medallion, the Holt Medallion, the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the Golden Quill. Dee is a lifelong resident of Illinois and is active online. Visit her at http://www.deehenderson.com.

dani-press-page-photoDani Pettrey is a wife, mom, grandma, and the author of Cold Shot, the first book in the Chesapeake Valor series, and the Alaskan Courage romantic suspense series, which includes her bestselling novels Submerged, Shattered, Stranded, Silenced, and Sabotaged. Her books have been honored with the Daphne du Maurier award, two HOLT Medallions, a Christy Award nomination, two National Readers’ Choice Awards, the Gail Wilson Award of Excellence, and Christian Retailing’s Best Award, among others.

She feels blessed to write inspirational romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things she loves — the thrill of adventure, nail-biting suspense, the deepening of her characters’ faith, and plenty of romance. She and her husband reside in Maryland, where they enjoy time with their two daughters, a son-in-law, and a super adorable grandson.

71ml9pouful-_ux250_Award-winning, best-selling author, Lynette Eason has written/contracted thirty-six books since 2007. She writes for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense line and for Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Her books have hit the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists. Lynette has been teaching for more than ten years and is very happy to make the transition from teaching school to teaching writing whenever the opportunity presents. She is married, has two children, and lives in Greenville, SC.

 

 

 

My Impressions:

February is the month for love and romance, and when a story is paired with action-packed suspense, well, you really cannot go wrong. The 3-novella collection, Sins of The Past has all that and more — the wonderful writing of not 1, not 2, but 3!! of the best romantic suspense authors in Christian fiction. When you dive into this book you are in for a sweet treat! You get tough and determined heroines, hunky heroes with a soft side, and twists and turns that make the pages fly. The only down side? You’ll be done with this book in no time and be yearning for more!

I loved that each novella was classic Henderson, Pettrey and Eason. In Missing, the reader returns to Chicago to solve the case of a missing mom. In Shadowed, the reader gets the low-down on the McKenna’s parents romantic beginning, as well as adrenaline-fueled suspense. And in Blackout, the reader will be on the edge of her seat trying to figure out just what the main characters are missing. Characters are easy to like, and the plots will keep you guessing. The common thread of a sin from the past that plagues the main characters is a clever way of linking the stories.

So if you are looking for the perfect Valentine’s read, I highly recommend you pick up Sins of The Past. I loved it and I am betting you will too!

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to Bethany House for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)