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First Line Friday — Vanishing Point by Lisa Harris

17 Nov

Thanks to the great bloggers at Hoarding Books for hosting First Line Friday! To join in on the fun, grab the closest book and turn to the first page. Share the first sentence in the comments. Then head over to Hoarding Books to find other participating bloggers.

 

I am excited about this week’s book, Vanishing Point by Lisa Harris. I have been impatiently waiting on this book, the last in the series. The first line is a preview of the twists and turns ahead.

 

During Garrett Addison’s first week on the job as a criminal investigator for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, his team is called out to a murder scene of a young girl. She’s the third victim in a string of disappearances with one thing in common–a Polaroid photo of each victim left behind at the crime scene.

The FBI is pulled into the case to help, and Garrett finds himself working with Special Agent Jordan Lambert, the woman he once loved. When yet another girl dies — number six — Garrett blames himself and believes he doesn’t have what it takes to be an agent. What he’ll discover is that, while he may be done with the killer, the killer is not done with him — or Jordan.

Bestselling and award-winning author Lisa Harris unveils an unforgettable story of a case that has haunted the public and law enforcement for more than a decade. Fans of the Nikki Boyd Files will thrill to finally discover what actually happened to Nikki’s sister, Sarah. New readers will become instant fans after devouring this chilling tale.

Bestselling author Lisa Harris is a Christy Award finalist for Blood Ransom and Vendetta, Christy Award winner for Dangerous Passage, and the winner of the Best Inspirational Suspense Novel for 2011 (Blood Covenant) and 2015 (Vendetta) from Romantic Times. She has over thirty novels and novella collections in print. She and her family have spent almost fourteen years working as missionaries in Africa where she runs a small non-profit organization that works alongside their church-planting ministry. The ECHO Project promotes Education, Compassion, Health, and Opportunity and is a way to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves . . . the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.” (Proverbs 31:8)

When she’s not working she loves hanging out with her family, cooking different ethnic dishes, photography, and heading into the African bush on safari. For more information about her books and life in Africa visit her website at http://www.lisaharriswrites.com.

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Book Review: Murder in Disguise

16 Nov

Official verdict: Suicide.

But why would that vigorous department chairman kill himself? To avoid disgrace? Those rumored ventures on the dark side? Some other secret life? Visiting professor Preston Barclay wonders. But his questions bring no answers, only anonymous threats. He has enough problems already, proving himself on a strange campus while radical faculty do all they can to undermine him. Worse yet, that sexy siren assigned as his assistant complicates his courtship of the beautiful Mara Thorn.

While Press keeps asking questions, Mara’s research reveals a cancer of criminal activity that permeates the community and even the campus itself. The more Press questions, the more dangerous the threats against him become, and the more determined he grows to clear his friend’s name.

But can Press and Mara’s stumbling efforts prevail against the entrenched forces of the police, the campus radicals, and an unseen but powerful criminal organization that increasingly puts their lives in danger . . . ?

With a PhD in English literature (Renaissance), Donn Taylor taught literature for 18 years at two liberal arts colleges. Now retired, he has published suspense novels, mysteries, and poetry. His historical novel “Lightning on a Quiet Night” was a finalist for the 2015 Selah Awards. He is a frequent speaker at writers’ conferences. In a prior incarnation, he led an Infantry rifle platoon in the Korean War, served with Army aviation in Vietnam, and worked with air reconnaissance in Europe and Asia. He now lives in the woods near Houston, TX, where he writes fiction, poetry, and essays on current topics.

Find out more about Donn at http://www.donntaylor.com.

My Impressions:

Professor Preston Barclay is back in Donn Taylor’s third novel featuring murder in academia, Murder in Disguise. In this new mystery, Press is a visiting professor at a state university. His summer plans of low-key teaching and reading are interrupted by the apparent suicide of the head of the History department. Although he adamantly proclaims that he is not investigating what the widow suspects is foul play, everyone from the janitor to the associate professors to the local police are on notice that Press is on the case.

Mysterious doings are the center of Murder in Disguise. Press is confronted with the seedier side of society as he uncovers prostitution and drug-trafficking in his quest to clear his colleague’s reputation. In addition, the novel explores the failure of academia to ensure freedom of ideas is upheld. A good bit of time is spent in discussion of the failure to preserve the right of expression. Press and his love interest, Mara, are the main characters in this novel. There is a lot of backstory for the two that unfolded in the first two books, but the reader doesn’t really need it to read this book. Supporting characters are not as developed as I would have liked, and to be honest I never really engaged with the story or the people involved. For the literary and music minded, there are lots of references to classic works.

A quick read, Murder in Disguise was just an okay read for me. But others would disagree. Be sure to check out their reviews.

Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

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

Children’s Corner: Angel on Assignment

15 Nov

If your family loves the Elf on the Shelf and you want to keep the fun going, check out Angel on Assignment. It’s a children’s activity book that offers a Christian alternative to the elf, teaching children about the angels who watch over them, not just at Christmas but all year long.With beautiful illustrations and rhyming verse, Angel on Assignment takes readers through the angels’ roles in the Christmas story and presents the ways guardian angels look out for boys and girls today — and how children can act as angels in disguise for friends who need help. See how many angels your child can find — some are hiding!

At the end of the book, you’ll find detailed instructions for making your own angel. When you’re finished, you can introduce your angel to your elf and let them keep an eye on things. Then post a photo of your creation to the book’s Facebook page, and check out the angels that other families have made!

Wanda Carter Roush, a mother to five and MiMi to three, has homeschooled her children for the last twenty plus years. A former Sunday school teacher and children’s church director, she has used stories of angels to communicate God’s love to children.

The idea for Angel on Assignment came to Wanda while caring for her youngest daughter, who has severe epilepsy. While the Elf on the Shelf was fun, she wanted to instill a mysterious hope in her child’s heart that would last a lifetime. Wanda believes the angels catch the little ones when they fall and have caught her little one who “falls” often. Wanda’s hope is that this book would stir an awareness that angels are among us.

 

My Impressions:

The Elf on The Shelf craze hit long after my kids were grown, but I have followed the antics of these little interlopers through my friends. Funny and crazy and sometimes downright creepy, the Elf has infiltrated a lot of American homes. But while a fun tradition, the Elf has little connection to the real story of Christmas. That’s where Wanda Carter Roush comes in. This mother and grandmother created Angel on Assignment to show God’s love and care for people. The story begins with God’s plan — Jesus. It shows how angels brought the good news of Jesus’s birth and were there when He rose again. But Roush doesn’t stop there. In a narrative that flows with rhyming verse, the story of angels continues, letting children know that angels are indeed on assignment all around them, helping and protecting. Illustrations are colorful and perfectly compliment the narrative. While the message is hopeful, it doesn’t end there.  In addition, Roush includes instructions for making your own angel to place around your house to remind your family that God’s messengers are a part of their lives. With a fun craft project and a hope-filled story of God’s love, Angel on Assignment is a perfect addition to your Christmas traditions.

Recommended.

Audience: families 

To purchase, click HERE.

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

 

 

Book Review (+ Giveaway!): Charming The Troublemaker

14 Nov


About the Book

Title: Charming the Troublemaker

Author: Pepper Basham

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: November 1, 2017

Troublemaking never looked so good…

When Dr. Alex Murdock is demoted to a university in rural Virginia, the last thing he expects to find is a future. But country charm never looks as good as it does on Rainey Mitchell.

Rainey Mitchell doesn’t need a high-class flirt in her wounded world, but trouble and temptations wafts off the new professor as strong as his sandalwood-scented cologne.

When circumstances thrust them together to save her tutoring clinic, can the troublemaker find the hero inside and encourage the reticent Rainey to open her heart again.

Click here to purchase!

About the Author

Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes novels inspired by her love for history and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Her Penned in Time series has garnered recognition in the Inspys, Grace Awards, and the ACFW Carol Awards. Her contemporary romance novel, A Twist of Faith, received 4-stars from Romantic Times, and most recently, her newest release, The Thorn Healer, received a Top Pick from RT with 4 ½ stars. Her newest contemporary romance, Just the Way You Are, releases in April 2016. You can get to know Pepper on Facebook, or over at her group blog, The Writer’s Alley, or Instagram.

My Impressions:

Looking for a contemporary romance with wit, heart, and some swoon worthy moments? Then you need to check out Charming The Troublemaker, the second book in Pepper Basham’s Mitchell’s Crossroads series. This book has everything I look for in a romance — endearing and engaging characters, a plot that is not predictable, and smart and sassy dialog. It gets a recommended rating from me.

Rainey Mitchell is gun-shy when it comes to relationships and with good reason. So when the oh-so charming Dr. Alexander Murdoch becomes a part of the faculty at her regional university, she is skeptical about his interest. But the two can’t help but be thrown together. And despite her reservations, Alex seems to be more than a handsome face and charming personality. His sincerity and caring are the real deal. But of course, complications arise, and betrayal seems to be around the corner for Rainey once again.

I love the setting of Basham’s novels — small town Appalachia. I felt like I was right at home, especially when Mama Mitchell and the rest of the Mitchell clan gather. Alex is a hunky character with a big heart. Rainey is standoffish, but her past track record makes her a very believable character. Supporting characters are wonderful, including Rainey’s daughter Sarah. I loved the interactions between her and Alex. The romance is sweet, but there are definitely some rocky moments. And a bit of danger and suspense is thrown in to spice it up. All in all a good mix.

Although Charming The Troublemaker is the second book in the series, it is easily read as a standalone. But this is a great series, so be sure to check out Twist of Faith.  There are more Mitchell siblings, so I am looking forward to a few more great romances.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

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

Guest Post from Pepper Basham

I have a thing for underdogs.

Misfits.

Lots souls who desperately need to find where they belong.

I can’t help it! Call it a ‘fix-it’ mentality or an awareness that God rescued me and now I want to rescue other people…even fictional characters, but I’m definitely a softy for those characters that people are less likely to root for. Catherine from The Thorn Bearer/Keeper became my first rescue…and I just HAD to find another.

I guess that’s how Charming the Troublemaker came into existence.

Dr. Alex Murdock desperately needed to be rescued.

In a bad way.

If you’ve had a chance to read my first book in the Mitchell’s Crossroads series, A Twist of Faith, you’ll know that Alex doesn’t seem to be made up of much hero material. He’s a flirt, a little arrogant, and…well, kind of like a lost puppy.

As book 1 grew and came to a close, I knew Alex and Rainey’s story would be next…but I immediately ran into a real problem.

Who in the world was Alex Murdock? We really didn’t get to know him very much in book 1. He zoomed in a few times, ruffling feathers and then finally showing off some interesting kindness/compassion in the end, but…he was still a big-time flirt.

So the question emerged: Can a flirt be a hero?

What is Alex hiding behind that ready smile and sense of humor? Why does he seem so lost?

The answers were surprising!! Just wait.

The Mitchell family draw him right in, as they did with Dee, and his world is forever changed.

And then there’s Rainey. Strong-willed and independent, she is deeply wounded by her ex-husband’s betrayal. Though she gives off all these ‘confident’ vibes, she hides her insecurities behind a tough exterior in a desire to keep people at a distance – well, everyone except her family.

Alex rocks her world with his ready charm.

And she sees beyond the plastic grin to recognize another wounded soul.

Throwing them together into a book has been a hilarious and heart-stirring adventure, I wasn’t prepared to encounter. They’re so much fun!

AND…he’s ADORKABLE!! Seriously!! He is SUCH a dork, but makes me grin. And…he looks like Armie Hammer 😉

Let me just give you a hint to some of my favorite scenes:

Anything with Sarah!

Underoos

All of the scenes in Rainey’s house

And those in Mama Mitchell’s

Okay, I like the WHOLE STORY…and I can’t wait to see what you think too.

Blog Stops

Just the Write Escape, November 14

Avid Reader Book Reviews, November 15

Reading Is My SuperPower, November 15

Moments Dipped in Ink, November 15

Fiction Aficionado, November 16

autism mom, November 16

Fiction, Faith, and Fun, November 17

Inklings and Notions, November 17

Faithfully Bookish, November 18

Radiant Light, November 18

Reflections From My Bookshelves, November 19

The Power of Words, November 19

Cordially Barbara, November 20

Red Headed Book Lady, November 20

Smiling Book Reviews, November 20

Kat’s Corner Books, November 21

A Greater Yes, November 21

100 Pages per Hour, November 22

Splashes of Joy, November 22

Carpe Diem, November 23

Bookworm Mama, November 23

A Baker’s Perspective, November 24

The Important Things in Life: God, Books, & Chocolate, November 24

Daysong Reflections, November 25

Rachel Scott McDaniel, November 25

Remembrancy, November 26

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 26

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, November 27

Karen Sue Hadley, November 27

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Pepper is giving away a grand prize of a paper copy of A Twist of Faith, a mug from the Blue Ridge Parkway, one driftwood scented candle, one mango scented candle, and a Troublemaker snickers 😉 highly appropriate. Chocolate with a nutty personality :)!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/c1f1

Book Review: Deeds of Darkness

9 Nov

Many medieval scholars discontinued their university studies before completing their degree. Some lacked funds; others became bored with a scholar’s life. Occasionally these young men formed lawless bands, robbing and raping and creating chaos. They were called goliards.

In Deeds of Darkness Master Hugh learns that the Bampton coroner, an old friend, has been slain while traveling to Oxford. As he seeks the killer (or killers) he discovers a band of goliards in the area between Oxford and Bampton. But how to apprehend these youths? They have protectors far above Hugh’s station. He must deal with the claims of justice on the one hand and the power of great men to protect their henchmen on the other.

 

 

Mel Starr was born and grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He graduated from Spring Arbor High School in 1960, and Greenville College (Illinois) in 1964. He received an MA in history from Western Michigan University in 1970. He taught history in Michigan public schools for thirty-nine years, thirty-five of those in Portage, MI, where he retired in 2003 as chairman of the social studies department of Portage Northern High School.

Mel married Susan Brock in 1965, and they have two daughters; Amy (Kevin) Kwilinski, of Naperville, IL, and Jennifer (Jeremy) Reivitt, of Portage, MI. Mel and Susan have seven grandchildren.

 

My Impressions:

I love, love, love Mel Starr’s medieval mystery series featuring surgeon and bailiff, Hugh de Singleton. Not only does Starr bring medieval England to life, he creates an intelligent mystery that keeps both the main character and the reader on his toes. Deeds of Darkness is the 10th book in the series and is as fresh as all the rest. If you love history and mystery this one is for you!

Hugh is once again charged with uncovering a mysterious event in his bailiwick. Besides determining what happened to businessman and coroner, Hubert Shillside, Hugh is faced with assaults, murders, hamsoken (breaking and entering), and threats to himself and family. All in all, just another episode for his chronicles.

Starr does his homework in the creation of Hugh’s world. Interesting details of everyday life and a sprinkling of old English words combine with the social order of the day. His characters are very much medieval in their attitudes and ethics, but there is plenty there for the modern reader to identify with. Men (and women) haven’t changed that much in the 600+ years since Hugh lived. The mystery is filled with twists, turns, and puzzling clues. Deeds of Darkness keeps the reader guessing. Justice in 14th century England is unlike our’s — the state and church had separate jurisdictions and sentencing requirements. But it is certain that, one way or the other, everyone got what they deserved. Hugh is a very devout man and keeps the tenets of the church and the teaching of Jesus to the forefront of his mind, even when they are difficult to follow. Starr portrays a world in which faith is the center of a man’s world, but in the latter days of the 1300s, a reforming wind is in the air.

Intelligent, intriguing, and just plain fun, Deeds of Darkness is a recommended read. And with other deeds of darkness sure to come in the future, I look forward to more adventures with Hugh.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

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

Book Review: Big And Little Coloring Devotional

8 Nov

Kids crave constant activities and attention. Adults crave quiet moments of refreshment. How can we achieve both? Big and Little Coloring Devotional engages adults’ minds with appealing biblical devotionals while providing a creative outlet through coloring to diffuse stress.

Let’s have fun with our children through coloring and facilitate their spiritual growth with Scripture. Big and Little Coloring Devotional will incorporate physical, spiritual, and emotional refreshment by providing authentic faith-filled devotionals combined with therapeutic doodling for both the adult and child.

 

 

Rachel Swanson is a dental hygienist turned author, speaker, and accredited christian life coach helping women discover their unique purpose and pursue their dreams. She inspires others by sharing personal real life refining moments with relatable truths on her blog, social media pages, in-person speaking events, and through her high-level online coaching program.

Rachel is married to her husband Jeff of 10 years. They have three children: identical twin boys (Gavin and Rylan) and 19 months later a baby girl (Aria). They reside in a wannabe country town in the suburbs of Los Angeles, California.

Web/Blog: http://www.RachelCSwanson.com
Facebook: @Rachelswansonofficial
Instagram: @Rachelswansonofficial

Jacy Corral (pronounced “Jackie”) is an illustrator, hand lettering artist, graphic designer, wife, and mom. After enjoying an extensive career in corporate marketing and design, she traded fancy slacks for yoga pants to focus on the great privilege of raising her daughter, investing in her home and marriage, and creating artwork that helps people to connect and reflect. Jacy lives with her husband, daughter, and miniature poodle in West Los Angeles, CA. She shares her creations regularly on Instagram and at http://www.hyssopdesign.com.

 

 

My Impressions:

While I have seen my share of adult and children’s coloring books, I have not seen one that combines both and can be be shared at the same time. The Big And Little Coloring Devotional does just that. It’s format allows the adult and child to face each other with compatible designs while allowing each to explore God’s word and work out their own creativity. Each two page spread includes a simple design with a Bible verse and a more complex design with devotional thoughts that expand on the scripture. Rachel Swanson has created the perfect way for mom and child to interact, have fun, and talk about the promises of God. And there are lots and lots of designs — this book will last a long time. The author shares how the book came about as she looked for ways to spend time with her daughter in prayer and Bible study. She says that the book is a creation orchestrated by the Creator Himself for you and your “little” to enjoy! Swanson has a hit on her hands as she combines God word, her devotional thoughts, and the beautiful designs of Jacy Corral. You are going to love it! Consider adding this one to your holiday shopping list.

Recommended.

Audience: parents and children

To purchase, click HERE.

(Thanks to B&H Publishers for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Book Review: Total Christmas Makeover

6 Nov

Give your Christmas a makeover with this practical approach to help your family learn what it means to truly celebrate their Savior.

In the bustle of the Christmas season, it can be easy to get swept up in all of the things to do. But it’s important to pause and remember that our priority should be to spend time celebrating Christ’s birth and not forget to invite Jesus to his own party.

Christmas is far more than a celebration of an event from long ago or a modern holiday centered around shopping. Mindfully take time to listen to how God continues to speak through the Christmas story as the Gospel narratives centered around the birth of Jesus provide encouragement and revelation concerning the love of God and his wisdom for us today.

In Total Christmas Makeover, author and Bible teacher Melissa Spoelstra provides a practical approach for you and your family to turn your attention toward God’s grace day-by-day as you prepare for Christmas. This 31-day devotional presents key scriptures, ideas to implement with each reading, and questions for reflection to guide you in rediscovering rituals, relationship, and rest to connect you more deeply with Christ this holiday season.

Melissa Spoelstra is a popular women’s conference speaker, Bible teacher, and writer who is madly in love with Jesus and passionate about helping women of all ages to seek Christ and know Him more intimately through serious Bible study. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Bible Theology and enjoys teaching God’s Word to diverse groups and churches within the body of Christ. She is the author of the First Corinthians: Living Love When We Disagree, Joseph: The Journey to Forgiveness, and Jeremiah: Daring to Hope in an Unstable World Bible studies and Total Family Makeover: 8 Steps to Making Disciples at Home book. She lives in Dublin, Ohio, with her pastor husband and four kids.

Find out more about Melissa at http://melissaspoelstra.com.

My Impressions:

If you are anything like me, you may dread the coming of Christmas. Oh, not the day itself, but all the things that go with it — shopping, crowds, obligations, and increased stress. In Total Christmas Makeover, Melissa Spoelstra looks at Christmas in a new way. She takes God’s word about sacred celebrations and festivals and applies them to the Christmas activities and traditions within our own families. With emphasis on ritual, relationships, and rest, this 31-day devotional guide will give you a new outlook and a new commitment to putting the focus of the holiday season where it belongs — on God.

Total Christmas Makeover won’t have you throwing out all the things you hold dear about Christmas time, but it will show you a way to streamline, tweak, and refit your traditions and thoughts towards God. Each day begins with scripture, then progresses to the author’s thoughts. She also includes a short prayer to jump start your time with God, along with questions to get you thinking about what should be part of your Christmas activities.  Practical tips conclude the short devotional. I especially liked the emphasis the author puts on remembering to honor God in all we do at Christmas, the importance of keeping our relationships strong, and finding the needed rest that God provides to his people. Because there are 31 selections, you can get started on Thanksgiving Day and finish up with the book before Christmas!

So if you long for a way to get rid of distractions that mar the beauty of Christmas, pick up Total Christmas Makeover.

Recommended.

Audience: adults (especially women)

To purchase, click HERE.

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