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Audiobook Mini-Review: Sabotaged

25 Jul

Finally Returned Home, Reef Mckenna Finds His Beloved Alaska Facing Its Greatest Threat

Growing up, goody-two-shoes Kirra Jacobs and troublemaker Reef McKenna were always at odds. Now, working together as search-and-rescue for Alaska’s arduous Iditarod race, a growing attraction seems to be forcing aside old arguments. Then Reef catches Kirra sneaking from camp in the middle of the night.

Kirra’s uncle, a musher in the race, has disappeared. Kirra and Reef quickly track the man, but what they discover is harrowing: Frank’s daughter has been kidnapped. Kirra and Reef, along with the entire McKenna family, are thrown into a race to stop a shadowy villain who is not only threatening a girl’s life–but appears willing to unleash one of the largest disasters Alaska has ever seen.

 

Dani Pettrey is a wife, mom, grandma, and the author of 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.

TO CONNECT WITH DANI: website,  facebook,  twitter,  pinterest,  instagramgoodreads

 

My Impressions:

I continued my Alaskan vacation once I got home by listening to Sabotaged, the final book in Dani Pettrey’s Alaskan Courage series. If you are a fan of this series, you will be pleased to know that Pettrey finishes it off with appearances by all the McKenna clan and their significant others. The book starts out fast, and the suspense never lets up. Featured characters Reef and Kirra have their hands full with threats and attacks by unknown assailants. Although eco-terrorists seem to be the main threat, there could be hidden agendas as well. Reef and Kirra criss-cross the state making this book a true Alaskan adventure. From Anchorage to Fairbanks to Seward to Nome and along the Iditarod Trail, the two track down clues of her abducted cousin and renegade uncle. Suspense is a big part of Sabotaged, but romance is central as well, as Reef and his long time nemesis Kirra discover they have a lot in common. Sparks certainly fly between the two. Specific to the audiobook — I found it easy to listen to and get lost in.

If you are looking for romantic suspense, Pettrey is a go-to author. Begin at book 1 in the series, though, because each McKenna’s story is revealed and built upon from book to book. With 5 volumes, you are in for some great hours of binge-reading!

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(I purchased the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Book Review: The Singing Quilt

22 Jul

Jolissa Montoya believes God is calling her to work with the disadvantaged children in her inner-city neighborhood. There’s only one problem: The children wouldn’t be able to understand her. Jolissa suffers from a speech impediment and has a thick accent because Spanish is her first language. Ridiculed through much of her youth, she is quite shy and reticent to speak. She is convinced that what God has spoken to her heart is impossible. Impossible, that is, until one day when she shares her concerns with a confidante who shows her a quilt ― a quilt that depicts the life of a courageous woman. Can another woman’s courage move her to try the impossible to step out and follow God wherever He leads her? The Singing Quilt is set against the backdrop of the life of Fanny Crosby, who in addition to writing hundreds of songs was also a well-known public speaker and active in Christian rescue missions despite her disability. Readers will be inspired not to let fear or a disability prevent them from answering what they think is God’s impossible call.

 

Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored nearly 40 books and ghostwritten several others. A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. Kathi is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences. She won the 2008 Member of the Year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) and was the 2011 Author of the Year from BooksandAuthors.net. Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband. You can find out more about Kathi or contact her via her website: www.kathimacias.com.

 

My Impressions:

The Singing Quilt by Kathi Macias was chosen by my church book club because of its storyline featuring Fanny Crosby, the well-beloved and prolific hymn writer. The connection between the long ago woman of faith and a modern-day story was intriguing. Unfortunately, the novel fell a bit flat for many of our members. Macias is one of my favorite writers whose diverse characters and social justice messages combined with Christian faith make her an auto-read. But The Singing Quilt just wasn’t my cup of tea. The consensus of my group was that we loved learning about Fanny Crosby’s history, but felt the contemporary story and characters were a bit contrived and one-dimensional. The conflict described in the book was neatly and conveniently resolved, leaving us wanting more. The book also had a definite YA-vibe, although it is not billed as such.

No, I was not a fan of The Singing Quilt. Will it keep me from reading more from Macias? Not at all! Not every book an author writes will appeal to all readers, and her track record of writing insightful and thought-provoking fiction will keep me reading her works.

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

Book Review + Giveaway! — Over The Line

18 Jul

Over the Line FB Banner

About the Book

Book: Over the Line

Author: Kelly Irvin

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Release date: June 11, 2019

Over the LIneIn this high-stakes romantic suspense novel where tensions mount on both sides of the border, bestselling author Kelly Irvin explores what happens when the past explodes against the present and the only person you can turn to is the one who broke your heart.

When a college student dies at Gabriella’s feet after muttering her brother’s name, vicious gun smugglers believe she knows too much. And they’re determined to make sure she suffers the same fate. With no one else to turn to, Gabriella reunites with her former fiancé, homicide detective Eli Cavazos, to investigate the dead man’s murder and her brother’s disappearance.

In a desperate race against time, Gabriella and Eli are determined to clear her brother and find him before the gun smugglers can kill them both. Bit by bit, they tear away the masks worn by men masquerading as law-abiding citizens. No one can be trusted.

Working as a team forces Gabriella and Eli to face the problems that ended their relationship. She realizes she’s the one who needs to learn to forgive, but Eli must also learn to trust her with his secrets.

This ragtag team must fight a powerful ring of criminals protected by the very institutions that should prosecute them in an all-out battle that may cost them their lives.

 

Click here to grab your copy.

 

About The Author

Kelly IrvinKelly Irvin is the bestselling author of the Every Amish Season and Amish of Bee County series. The Beekeepers Son received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, who called it a “beautifully woven masterpiece.” The two-time Carol Award finalist is a former newspaper reporter and retired public relations professional. Kelly lives in Texas with her husband, photographer Tim Irvin. They have two children, two grandchildren, and two cats. In her spare time, she likes to read books by her favorite authors. Visit her online at KellyIrvin.com; Instagram: kelly_irvin; Facebook: Kelly.Irvin.Author; Twitter: @Kelly_S_Irvin.

 

More from Kelly

Over the Line by Kelly Irvin turns the heat up on suspense with a setting in Laredo, Texas. Here’s a spicy chili to pair with the book while you’re reading.

 

(adapted from 1979 World’s Fair Chili Recipe)

3 lbs. round steak, chopped
3 lbs. chuck roast, chopped
6 T. vegetable oil
6 T. chili Powder
6 T. cumin
6 garlic cloves minced
2 whole onions, chopped
1 T. oregano
2 T. paprika
2 T. cider vinegar
4 ounces green chilies, diced
14 oz. stewed tomatoes (one can)
1 T. Tabasco sauce
2 T. cornmeal
3 c. beef broth
Pepper to taste
Brown meat in oil. Pepper to taste. Drain oil from meat, add chili pepper, cumin, garlic, and onion. Cook for 30 to 45 minutes. Stir often.
Add oregano, paprika, vinegar, 2 c. broth, green chilies, stewed tomatoes, and Tabasco sauce. Simmer 30 to 45 minutes. Stir often.
Dissolve cornmeal in one cup of beef broth. Pour into chili. Simmer another 30 minutes, stirring often. (Chili is done when meat is tender.)

Serves 8.

Kelly’s Note: My husband loves his chili with saltine crackers. I like Fritos. We all agree that chili should NOT have beans in it. My mom always made homemade cinnamon rolls to have for dessert when she made her chili. Hmmm. That sounds good. I’m off to the kitchen! Enjoy!

 

My Impressions:

The action starts fast and furious in Kelly Irvin’s romantic suspense novel, Over The Line, and does not let up until the very end. Set primarily in the border city of Laredo, Texas, this book is full of all the things to get your heart racing — drive-by shootings, fire bombs, home invasions, and the perfect chemistry between main characters Gabriella Benoit and Eli Cavazos. The two ex-fiances are brought together when Gabriella discovers a gun-shot victim with ties to her missing ATF agent brother. I enjoyed the non-stop suspense and the romantic tension between the two main characters. They are joined in their hunt by secondary characters who are just as endearing and have a romantic sup-plot as well. Is there a sequel in the making? I hope so! Laredo and the issues of the border are presented in a relevant manner — from the author’s depiction, I felt I was right in the middle of things. Bad guys are very bad; you just aren’t sure who they are! Forgiveness is the main theme and more than one character struggles with letting go of past hurts and self-recriminations. Irwin is a new-to-me author who I will definitely be on the look out for. I already have another of her novels, Tell Her No Lies, waiting impatiently on the TBR shelf.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

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

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, July 9

A Baker’s Perspective, July 9

Emily Yager, July 10

Godly Book Reviews, July 10

Genesis 5020, July 11

Bigreadersite, July 11

Through the Fire Blogs, July 12

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, July 12

The Becca Files, July 13

For Him and My Family, July 13

Inklings and notions, July 13

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, July 14

Living Life Free in Christ,  July 14

Moments, July 15

Daysong Reflections, July 15

All-of-a-kind Mom, July 16

Hallie Reads, July 16

Remembrancy, July 17

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, July 17

By The Book, July 18

For the Love of Books, July 18

Real World Bible Study, July 19

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 19

Simple Harvest Reads, July 20

Texas Book-aholic, July 20

Pause for Tales, July 21

janicesbookreviews, July 21

Ashley’s Bookshelf, July 22

A Reader’s Brain, July 22

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Kelly is giving away the grand prize of a copy of her book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra enemies into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/e5a9/over-the-line-celebration-tour-giveaway

Book Review: My Dearest Dietrich

17 Jul

A staggering love illuminating the dark corners of a Nazi prison

Renowned German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer is famous for his resistance to the Nazi regime and for his allegiance to God over government. But what few realize is that the last years of his life also held a love story that rivals any romance novel.

Maria von Wedemeyer knows the realities of war. Her beloved father and brother have both been killed on the battlefield. The last thing this spirited young woman needs is to fall for a man under constant surveillance by the Gestapo. How can she give another piece of her heart to a man so likely to share the same final fate? Yet when Dietrich Bonhoeffer, an old family friend, comes to comfort the von Wedemeyers after their losses, she discovers that love isn’t always logical.

Dietrich himself has determined to keep his distance from romantic attachments. There is too much work to be done for God, and his involvement in the conspiracy is far too important. But when he encounters a woman whose intelligence and conviction match his own, he’s unprepared for how easy it is to give away his heart.

With their deep love comes risk — and neither Dietrich nor Maria is prepared for just how great that risk soon becomes.

Based on detailed historical research, this true love story is at once beautiful and heartrending. My Dearest Dietrich sheds new light on a world-famous theologian . . . and the woman who changed his life.

ECPA best-selling author Amanda Barratt fell in love with writing in grade school when she wrote her first story — a spinoff of Jane Eyre. Now, Amanda writes romantic, historical novels and novellas, penning stories of beauty and brokenness set against the backdrop of bygone eras not so very different from our own.

She’s also the author of My Heart Belongs in Niagara Falls, New York: Adele’s Journey, as well as seven novellas with Barbour Publishing. Two of her novellas have been finalists in the FHL Reader’s Choice Awards.

Amanda lives in the woods of Michigan with her fabulous family, where she can be found reading way too many books, plotting her next novel, and jotting down imaginary travel itineraries for her dream vacation to Europe.

Connect with her on Facebook and visit her online at amandabarratt.net.

 

My Impressions:

Biographical fiction is a hard genre to master. You have to be true to your subject, yet present it in a creative and fresh way that will appeal to readers. Amanda Barratt took on a tough task when deciding to write a book featuring esteemed theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Her newest book, My Dearest Dietrich, captures the man that many did not know existed. An intimate look at the relationship between Bonhoeffer and his fiancee, Maria von Wedemeyer, this novel reminds the reader of the lives and loves that exist even during the turmoil of war. I really liked this book, yet have a hard time articulating how it touched my heart. It is definitely a highly recommended read.

Before starting My Dearest Dietrich, I had only Bonhoeffer’s writings on the Christian life as a frame of reference. Barratt drew on those writings, plus the correspondence between Bonhoeffer and Maria, as well as other letters, to flesh out the man he truly was. Known as a brilliant theologian, a spy and conspirator determined to bring down Hitler, and an ultimate martyr to the cause, Bonhoeffer could be seen as larger than life. Barratt’s portrayal combines those elements with a heart of love and gentleness — a man who yearns for an ordinary life as husband, just as much as he yearns for a restored Germany. Maria is a young woman whose maturity grows as she faces hardship and heartache. Their story is set amidst the backdrop of cruelty and terror, yet it is the novel’s depiction of the mundane that allows the reader to see a blossoming relationship growing even in the hardest of times. There is a sense of hope in that. God was central to Maria and Dietrich’s lives, and their belief in Him determined their day-to-day decisions as well as their defiance of the Nazi regime. The book begins slowly, allowing the reader to see just what the characters are made of. Towards the end, the tension of the end of the war and the certain end of many of the characters’ lives made me read faster and faster. There are so many what-ifs the book brings to mind — what-if the conspiracy had been successful, what-if Bonhoeffer had not been discovered, what-if the Allies advancement on Berlin had been swifter. While I had a sense of sadness for Bonhoeffer and Maria, I am glad that I was given a small glimpse into their lives. Truly heroic, they serve as wonderful examples of lives devoted to each other, as well as Christ.

My Dearest Dietrich is perfect for book discussion groups. There is so, so much to talk about — a Christian’s role in civic affairs, the appropriateness of rebellion against authority, the importance of placing God’s values and laws above society’s — are just a few. But I believe it is the bittersweet love of Maria and Dietrich that will capture the reader’s heart. Grab a few friends to read this book with.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

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

Audiobook Mini-Review: Shattered Justice

15 Jul

There’s no way sheriff’s deputy Dan Justice could have prepared for this. He spent a lifetime ensuring his actions and faith live up to the meaning of his name — Avidan: “God is just.” Then injustice invades his world, ripping away what matters most, forever robbing him of the life he once knew. Can his sisters and small-town community — especially one woman who loves Daniel — help him overcome the horrors he’s facing? Or will bitterness and anger shatter him forever?

What happens when justice fails the lawman?

Sanctuary, Oregon . A town where the local diner owner makes you drink your milk — no matter how old you are. Where juvenile delinquency means blowing up outhouses. Where folks not only know their neighbors, but care about them. For widowed sheriff’s deputy Dan Justice, it’s a place where he and his kids can heal and grow.

Shelby Wilson loves Sanctuary and her work with troubled teens. Like Jayce Dalton. Sure, he’s as troubled as they come, but Shelby knows Dan is exactly what Jayce needs. She just didn’t expect that Dan might be what she’s always needed, too.

But sleepy little Sanctuary has a dark side, steeped in pain and secrets. Secrets that could destroy everything Dan holds dear. Secrets that will one day have Dan groping through the fog toward a lifeless body — and faith-shattering grief.

Can Dan find sanctuary in the light of God’s justice?

Karen Ball is the bestselling author of over seven novels and four novellas, including Shattered Justice, Kaleidoscope Eyes, and The Breaking Point. Her powerful writing blends humor, poignancy, and honesty with God’s truth. Karen lives in Oregon with her husband, Don, and their “kids” – a mischief-making Siberian husky and an indefatigable Aussie-terrier mix.

My Impressions:

My morning walks always lend themselves to a riveting suspense audiobook. I often choose books I have missed or authors I haven’t read yet. A few weeks back I listened to Shattered Justice by seasoned, but new-to-me, author Karen Ball. While this book was published some years back, it still was a fresh and relevant read, due mostly to the questions that it generated about how Christians live their faith, especially in times of hard testing. Main character Dan Justice can be likened to a modern day Job — he suffers loss after loss and begins to question the goodness of God. Ball made him so very real! I liked his very realistic and relatable struggling — glad he is only fictional! The novel is suspense all the way and helped to pass the miles away. I also liked the reader very much. One of the best parts of this book? More to come from other characters introduced in this novel! Two more books in the Family Honor series are available.

A great choice for fans of suspense and for book club discussions, Shattered Justice is a recommended read.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

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

 

Children’s Corner — The Heart Changer

11 Jul

I get along with a whole lot of help from my friends! One of my best book buddies helps me out with guest reviews from time to time. Carrie is a great elementary school teacher who takes reading very seriously. If I had had her in school, she would have been my favorite teacher! She recently read Jarm del Boccio’s MG historical novel, The Heart Changer. Thanks, Carrie, for helping me and my readers today!

Can an Israelite captive, wrenched from all she loves, serve the very man who destroyed her village?

Miriam is asked to do the impossible: serve the wife of Naaman, commander of the Syrian army. Clinging to treasured memories of home and faith, Miriam faces captivity with worry and bitterness. Little does she know the Heart Changer is wooing and preparing her for a greater mission far beyond what she could imagine.

This middle-grade historical novel reflects the heartache and angst of a young refugee in a foreign land where all hope seems lost.

Jarm  Del Boccio (‘J’ pronounced as a ‘Y’) finds her inspiration in everyday life, but in particular, when she travels the globe, observing the quirky things that happen along the way. Focusing on lives of characters from the past, Jarm is devoted to breathing new life into the pages of history.

Jarm has a background in elementary and high school education, and served for seven years as a school librarian. Grateful for the opportunity, she taught three missionary kids in an isolated area of Papua New Guinea. She is part of SCBWI and American Christian Fiction Writers, and has published articles in “The Old Schoolhouse” magazine.

The Heart Changer, her debut MG historical/biblical fiction, released with Ambassador International April 26th 2019. Jarm is content with the journey God has placed her on, and lives with her husband and adult son and daughter (when they are not away) in a tree-lined suburb of Chicago.

CONNECT WITH JARM: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Carrie’s Thoughts:

The Heart Changer is a Biblical fiction book based on an unnamed girl from 2 Kings. Jarm Del Boccio adds names to create a story of the young girl taken from her home and made to serve Naaman’s wife. As she tries to adjust to her new life she struggles with the God she has always served — but has she truly trusted in Him? Through the fears and unknowns in a new land without family and friends to support her, Miriam learns to trust in Jehovah completely and tells of His miracles to her mistress. Through these conversations her faith is renewed and strengthened and she not only learns to trust but helps Naaman in a powerful way, both physically and spiritually.  Miriam faces many questions and struggles that people in present times face, not only religion, but dealing with people and helping others, making this book relatable in numerous ways. The Heart Changer will challenge its readers to go back to several Old Testament places to reread stories and see just how powerful our God truly is.

Audience: middle grade readers.

To purchase, click HERE. (It is currently 99 cents on Kindle!)

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

 

Book Review: Ever Faithful

9 Jul

Vibrant historic Yellowstone National Park comes to life in this romantic mystery about a man hiding the truth, braving the west to become something more — and the woman who must confront his deception.

A man who can’t read will never amount to anything — or so Nate Webber believes. But he takes a chance to help his family by signing up for the new Civilian Conservation Corps, skirting the truth about certain “requirements.” Nate exchanges the harsh Brooklyn streets for the wilds of Yellowstone National Park, curious if the Eden-like wonderland can transform him as well.

Elsie Brookes was proud to grow up as a ranger’s daughter, but she longs for a future of her own. After four years serving as a maid in the park’s hotels, she still hasn’t saved enough money for her college tuition. A second job, teaching a crowd of rowdy men in the CCC camp, might be the answer, but when Elsie discovers Nate’s secret, it puts his job as camp foreman in jeopardy. Tutoring leads to friendship and romance, until a string of suspicious fires casts a dark shadow over their relationship. Can they find answers before all of their dreams go up in smoke?

 

Karen Barnett is the award-winning author of The Golden Gate Chronicles (Out of the Ruins, Beyond the Ashes, and Through the Shadows) and Mistaken. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, two kids, and three mischievous dachshunds. When she’s not writing, Karen enjoys photography, hiking, public speaking, decorating crazy birthday cakes, and dragging her family through dusty history museums. Oregon Christian Writers (OCW) honored her with the Writer of Promise Award in 2013 and a Cascade Award for her debut novel, Mistaken, in 2014. In 2016, she was named Writer of the Year by the prestigious Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. Karen is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Oregon Christian Writers (OCW) and has been published in Guideposts and other national magazines.

My Impressions:

I have loved my bookish trips back to the early days of the National Parks with Karen Barnett’s Vintage National Parks series. First I journeyed to Mt. Rainer, then to Yosemite, and now with the 3rd installment, I traveled to Yellowstone. Ever Faithful, a book set amidst the beauty and wonder of the oldest of the parks, is my favorite of the three. Filled with vivid descriptions, memorable characters, and a message of hope and healing, this historical romance receives a highly recommended rating from me.

I have never been to Yellowstone, but Barnett’s detailed descriptions sent me to the interweb to check out the awesome sights this park contains. I loved visiting via the book, and now have another destination to add to the bucket list. The Yellowstone backdrop with its mud pots, geysers, hot springs, and majestic forests and rivers was perfect for the development of characters Nate and Elsie. Both characters view themselves as imperfect — either too scarred to be beautiful or too dumb to ever amount to anything. As their relationship grows, each helps the other to see the beauty and purpose that God envisioned when He created them. The historical setting with the CCC corp and the early days of the parks was very interesting. I loved that the author includes endnotes to let the reader know the facts behind her fiction. One of my mother’s older brothers worked in the CCC, and Ever Faithful gave me a glimpse into his experiences. While billed as an historical romance, there is adventure and mystery — something for just about everyone!

For a road trip read or a staycation, Ever Faithful is the perfect choice. This fun book kept the pages turning! The only negative was that it ended too quickly!

Highly recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

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