Friday, May 22, 2015

In Good Company

In Good Company
by
Jen Turano

MY THOUGHTS:
Reading a book by Jen Turano is like spending a day with your favorite quirky friend! Her characters are real down to earth women with personality traits that get them into unusual situations. They always mean well, but well-meant often translates into humorous and difficult circumstances. In Good Company is the second book in her A Class of Their Own series. Millie Longfellow was an orphan who has become a nanny to the rich and famous. However her quirky thoughts on child-rearing don't set well with the elite and she is frequently searching for a new job.  Everett Mulberry has recently 'inherited' three rambunctious young children who chase away every nanny he hires. Against his better wishes, he hires Millie and the adventure begins!

Jen always adds fun animals to the mix, and this time it's a herd of peacocks and three rowdy puppies. They add all the more fun. With a mystery to be solved and high society to consider, her books are full of action, laughs, and love. And this one happens to have the BEST hiding place for a game of hide and seek that I've ever seen!

If you are looking for a light-hearted read with real life lessons about humanity and spirituality, check it out! It is highly suggested that you read the first book in the series, After A Fashion, first. While it isn't mandatory, there is a good bit of back story about Millie, Everett, and other characters who are mentioned in the book that is helpful.


ABOUT THE BOOK:
After spending her childhood in an orphanage, Millie Longfellow is determined to become the best nanny the East Coast has ever seen. Unfortunately, her playfulness and enthusiasm tend to bring about situations that have employers looking askance at her methods. After her most recent dismissal, Millie is forced to return yet again to an employment agency.

Everett Mulberry has suddenly and quite unexpectedly found himself responsible for three children he's never met. Attempting fatherhood while also pacifying the less-than-thrilled socialite he intends to marry is made even more complicated when the children scare off every nanny he hires. About to depart for Newport, Rhode Island, for the summer, he's desperate for competent childcare.

At wit's end with both Millie and Everett, the employment agency gives them one last chance--with each other. Everett is wary of Millie's penchant for disaster, and she's not entirely keen on another snobby, grumpy employer, but they're both out of options. As Millie falls in love with her mischievous charges and tries to stay one step ahead of them, Everett is more focused on achieving the coveted status of society's upper echelons. As he investigates the suspicious circumstances surrounding the children's parents' death, will it take the loss of those he loves to learn whose company he truly wants for the rest of his life?


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jen Turano is the acclaimed author of The Ladies of Distinction Series, published through Bethany House publishers. Her second novel, A Most Peculiar Circumstance was chosen by Booklist as a Top Ten Romance for 2013. Her fourth book, A Match of Wits, released in July, 2014, while a new series, A Class of Their Own, will begin hitting the shelves in early 2015. She is a member of ACFW and makes her home outside of Denver, Colorado with her husband and teenage son. Visit her website at www.jenturano.com or Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/jenturanoauthor. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Art of Losing Yourself

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Art of Losing Yourself
WaterBrook Press (April 21, 2015)
by
Katie Ganshert


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Award-winning author, Katie Ganshert, graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison with a degree in education, and worked as a fifth grade teacher for several years before staying home to write full-time. She was born and raised in the Midwest, where she lives with her family. When she’s not busy penning novels or spending time with her people, she enjoys drinking coffee with friends, reading great literature, and eating copious amounts of dark chocolate.



ABOUT THE BOOK

Just like in my dream, I was drowning and nobody even noticed.

Every morning, Carmen Hart pastes on her made-for-TV smile and broadcasts the weather. She’s the Florida panhandle’s favorite meteorologist, married to everyone’s favorite high school football coach. They’re the perfect-looking couple, live in a nice house, and attend church on Sundays. From the outside, she’s a woman who has it all together. But on the inside, Carmen Hart struggles with doubt. She wonders if she made a mistake when she married her husband. She wonders if God is as powerful as she once believed. Sometimes she wonders if He exists at all. After years of secret losses and empty arms, she’s not so sure anymore.

Until Carmen’s sister—seventeen year old runaway, Gracie Fisher—steps in and changes everything. Gracie is caught squatting at a boarded-up motel that belongs to Carmen’s aunt, and their mother is off on another one of her benders, which means Carmen has no other option but to take Gracie in. Is it possible for God to use a broken teenager and an abandoned motel to bring a woman’s faith and marriage back to life? Can two half-sisters make each other whole?

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Art of Losing Yourself, go HERE.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

No Place To Hide

No Place To Hide
by
Lynette Eason



MY THOUGHTS:
From the first few sentences of the prologue, No Place To Hide takes the reader on a wild race to the finish. Ian Lockwood is being chased by the FBI for possible treason and he's being chased by the bad guys who want to be sure he doesn't foil their plot. Jackie Sellers is a long time friend who works for Operation Refuge, an organization that protects those who have no where to turn.

This is the third book in the Hidden Identity series, but it definitely can stand alone. There is a lot of action and violence in this book (not graphic), and the read really needs to focus on the story to keep up with it all. I feel like I missed a few things and occasionally had to back track to keep it straight.

I really enjoy Eason's books. She does a fabulous job of researching a story and definitely keeps a reader on the edge of her seat! This is definitely a Christian book, but it doesn't preach or throw religion in your face. She keeps it realistic based on the needs of the character, and each basic character is confronted with God in a way that helps him or her grow during the process.

There were a few too many coincidences and character links in this story to make it feel real, but that doesn't take away from the action and sense of adventure one gets as you race toward a potential disaster.

A very creative and exciting book! You can get a copy of it here!


ABOUT THE BOOK:

She'll defend her friend until the bitter end--but is she in over her head?
It's not every day you see your childhood friend and onetime crush on national news. Jackie Sellers just wishes it were under different circumstances. She can't believe that Ian Lockwood is wanted in connection with a terrorist plot, and she's determined to find him and help him clear his name. Unfortunately, she's not the only one looking for him. The FBI wants him captured. The bad guys want him dead. Ian just wants to stay alive long enough to prove his innocence and prevent a catastrophe.

Lynette Eason delivers nonstop action as Jackie and Ian travel a dangerous road--one that may lead straight to destruction.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
\Lynette Eason grew up in Greenville, SC. Even as a young girl, she knew she wanted her life to reflect the love of Jesus Christ.
After graduating from the University of South Carolina with a Business Degree she used for a very short time (sorry Mom and Dad), she moved to Spartanburg, SC to attend Converse College where she obtained her Masters degree in Education. During this time, she met the man she would marry—the boy next door!
She is married to Jack Eason, who speaks, leads worship, and consults ministries around the country. They have two children.
Lynette’s books have appeared on the ECPA and CBA bestseller lists and have won several awards


Thank you to Revell Books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, May 01, 2015

A Fun Chidren's Book

Tillie & Clementine - Noises in the Night
by
Dan Killeen


MY THOUGHTS:
I don't usually review children's books, but since I've been reading stories over Skype to my grandchildren (ages 2 and 1), I thought I'd try this one out on them. The oldest, Sophie, is having some issues with scary things, so I was a little concerned about how this story would work for her.

The artwork in this book is adorable! It is easy to see that these girls love to play and have fun. When I read the story I make it sound silly instead of scary (which would also be a good alternative if kids like that). Sophie asks for this book first every time we skype!

There are a couple of things I change when I read it. In the story the father is portrayed as a bit incompetent. I tend to shy away from books that place either parent in a role like that, so I change the story a bit to make him more typical. When I mentioned this to the publicist, I learned that the father is based on the actual brother of the author. Killeen said he tells kids when he does readings that it's his brother complained about the way he drew him -- arms too hairy, stomach too big! Older kids may have fun with this, but at this point we're making Dad a pretty smart, competent dad.  

I also stop reading the story half way through -- at the end of the bedtime story Dad tells. That is about the right length for a Skype book, and it leaves out some of the scary/incompetent parts. But I imagine older children would have a lot of fun with the second half of the book!

I am looking forward to reading other Tillie & Clementine books. I like the concept of the stories, and I can't wait to see what adventures these girls get into! This book definitely has the stamp of approval of Sophie (and I'm sure Miles, who just turned one, loves it too. He just can't quite verbalize that yet)! I just learned that an third book in the series will be released this fall called Tillie & Clementine: Moonlight Sledding. He is also writing another book, not in this series, called Dillon and the Dinosaurs. Both sound like fun and I can't wait to check them out.

Dan Killeen has gone above and beyond by creating an amazing website with pictures from the book that kids can color! Check it out! http://tillieandclementine.com/index.html  It also includes direct links for purchasing this book and others in the series.

ABOUT THE BOOK:
Tillie and Clementine live with their parents in an old brick house down in Benton Park. One night, Mommy has to go to a neighborhood meeting, so it's up to Daddy to feed the girls and get them ready for bed.  But Tillie and Clementine are later awakened by strange noises coming from just outside their window!  What could it be, and what will they do?!







ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dan Killeen is an author/illustrator living in beautiful and humid St. Louis.  He is the seventh of eight artistically inclined siblings.  Dan grew up reading old Peanuts books which his mom would pick up for him at garage sales along with his outfits.  While studying at Indiana University he contributed a strip featuring the beloved character Implosion Boy to the Daily Student newspaper.  More recently, Dan was awarded a fellowship honor from the Washington Post Writers Group for his comic strip entitled Steve.  He has worked in marketing, graphic design, and theatre production.

The Tillie & Clementine series is inspired by his brother’s two little girls and set in the historic Benton Park neighborhood of St. Louis.  All kids deserve to star in their own children’s book, so Uncle Dan is happy to re-create the adventures of his silly young nieces.

Thank you to Dan, Happy Fun Books, and  Joni Baker of Buoyancy Public Relations for providing a copy of the book for my honest review.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Double Cross

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Double Cross
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (April 1, 2015)
by
Diann Mills


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Library Journal presented her with a Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction award in the Christian Fiction category for Firewall.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers; the 2015 president of the Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope, & Love chapter; a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and International Thriller Writers. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas. DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed at her website.

ABOUT THE BOOK

FBI Agent Laurel Evertson’s investigation into a scam targeting the elderly takes an unexpected twist when key evidence leads her to Morton Wilmington, a felon she arrested five years ago on her first undercover assignment. That case has haunted her since, and though she’s vowed to forget Wilmington—and what she sacrificed to put him away—he is now her best lead. Houston Police Officer Daniel Hilton fears his grandparents may be the scammer’s next targets, and he’ll do anything to protect his family—even force interagency cooperation. But he’s quickly drawn to Laurel’s empathy and zeal and agrees to follow her lead . . . even if it means teaming up with a felon. As the unlikely trio uncovers evidence suggesting the scam is more extensive and deadly than they imagined, both Laurel and Daniel find themselves in the crosshairs of a killer. Together they must decide if they can trust Wilmington’s claims of redemption, or if he’s leading them straight into a double cross.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Double Cross, go HERE.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Buried Secrets

Buried Secrets
by
Irene Hannon

MY THOUGHTS
I am thrilled that Irene Hannon has started a new series. She is a master at creating incredible suspense, lifelike characters that I'd like to meet, and to top it all off she sets her stories around the St. Louis area that I call home!

Buried Secrets has a lot of twists and turns, and many surprises for the reader. I really enjoyed the main character, Lisa Grant. As I read I wondered if she had been a character in a previous book -- there were a lot of hints at her prior life. Irene could create with a prequel if she wanted because there seems to be a meaty back story there.

Mac McGregor is a bit more like Irene's usual hero: hunky, a highly effective ex-military guy, and one who falls hard for the heroine. He has two fascinating brothers that I'm hoping we learn more about in the rest of the series.

The villain in the story really makes the book! I won't give anything away, but this person is highly creative and causes the reader to keep turning the pages.

There is a bit more romantic tension than I would think is typical in a relationship such as Mac and Lisa's, but hey, there are only so many pages in which to resolve that tension!

I will always read any book Irene writes. This is a great book for someone who is looking for a nice, clean read with suspense, intrigue, and romance. It would be a good book for a first time reader of Christian fiction to pick up -- no preaching or overly deep spiritual issues that would cause confusion or chase away a non-Christian reader.

ABOUT THE BOOK (from the back cover):
After seven years as a Chicago homicide detective, Lisa Grant has hit a wall. Ready for a kinder, gentler life, she takes a job as a small-town police chief. But the discovery of a human skeleton by a construction crew at the edge of town taxes the resources of her department. A call for assistance brings detective Mac McGregor, an ex-Navy SEAL, to her doorstep. As they work to solve the mystery behind the unmarked grave, danger begins to shadow them. Someone doesn't want this dead person telling any tales--and will stop at nothing to make certain a life-shattering secret stays buried.

Master storyteller Irene Hannon is back with an exciting new series featuring former special forces operatives now in the thick of the action in civilian life. Hannon is at the top of her game in this can't-put-it-down thriller that will have readers up until the wee hours devouring every page.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Irene HannonRT Book Reviews magazine. One of her novels was also named by Booklist as a top 10 inspirational fiction books of 2011. In addition, she is a two-time Christy award finalist.

has written more than 45 romance and romantic suspense novels. Her books have been honored with two RITA awards—the “Oscar” of romantic fiction—and she is a six-time finalist. Her books have also won a Daphne du Maurier award, a Carol award, three HOLT Medallions, a National Readers’ Choice Award, a Retailers Choice Award, a Booksellers’ Best Award and two Reviewers’ Choice awards from
Irene, who holds a B.A. in psychology and an M.A. in journalism, juggled two careers for many years until she gave up her executive corporate communications position with a Fortune 500 company to write full-time. She is happy to say she has no regrets!
In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, gardening and singing.  A trained vocalist, she has sung the leading role in numerous musicals, including “South Pacific,” “Brigadoon,” “Oklahoma” “The King and I” and “Anything Goes.” She is also a soloist at her church.

Thank you to Revell Publishers for providing a book for this review. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Through the Bible - Questions

I am reading through the Bible in a year, using the NLT One Year Chronological Bible. I started early, but I'm already behind. Nevertheless, the goal is to read through the whole Bible, regardless of the time it takes.

I like this version because it is reader friendly and divided in chunks that are easy to read in a day. I also enjoy getting all perspectives on a situation in one day instead of as they were written. I don't use this Bible for all my studies -- I also like the ESV for regular research/reading, and I love LOGOS as a tool to help me understand.

I've been highlighting things as I go and writing questions to things I either don't understand or am curious about in the margins. I want a way to process this better and to document my questions for times when I can do further research. I figured a blog was a great place to do this (especially since this blog was originally designed to be the place I used for thoughts and insights). Because of my lack of dedication and/or busy-ness, it has become only a place for reviewing the great books I get to read. I endeavor to add more Biblical content!

So today I'm reading the text originally designated for March 22 and 23 (two a day until I catch up). This is the timeframe of Moses' last days and Joshua's first days as a leader. Lots of things have come up that I wonder about. The text is from Deut 33-34 and Joshua 1-3.

Moses' final words were blessings for the tribes of Israel. He starts with the tribes descending from Leah -- Reuben, Judah, and Levi. Simeon is strangely missing, but the Baker Commentary supposes that they have been lumped in with Judah based on text in Joshua 19:1-9, where their territory is really a subset of Judah's. Next come Rachel's boys, Benjamin and Joseph. It is interesting that Joseph is named individually, because frequently his sons are both given 'tribe' status. Honestly, it's a bit confusing to me to define what the 'appropriate' tribes are because they differ from place to place. Simeon and Levi are occasionally left out because (according to Harper's Bible Dictionary) of their actions in relation to their sister Dinah. Other texts leave out Reuben because of his indiscretion with his fathers. I imagine someone has defined THE official 12 tribes, but I guess it doesn't really matter to me that much.

I did find it interesting that Moses asked that the tribe of Asher be blessed above the other sons. I can't find any good reason why that would be so.

The end of the book of Deuteronomy, in 34:10, it says, "There has never been another prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face." That got me thinking -- as Moses passed the baton to Joshua and he took on the leadership role, I wonder if he was surprised, or even disappointed, that his relationship with God was not as personal?

That said, when the angel of God met with Joshua to give him instructions for conquering Jericho, we see that Joshua was told to take off his sandals because he was standing on holy ground. That only happened one other time in the Bible -- to Moses at the burning bush. No one else who had interactions with God or his angels -- Abram, Jacob, other prophets, or even Mary, the disciples, or Saul, were told to take their shoes off. Curious!

Enough questions for one day. Guess I'll add these to the list of things to investigate when I get to Heaven!