Friday, January 31, 2014

Colourful characters & interesting historical details: My review of "The Journey of Josephine Cain" by Nancy Moser


The Journey of Josephine Cain


about the book...


When a socialite from the nation’s capital embarks on a journey to the Wild West, her life is changed forever. A setting populated by hundreds of laborers, outlaws, and Indians is hardly the place for a wealthy general’s daughter. But Josephine Cain is determined to visit her father, who supervises the day-to-day work involved in the grandest ambition of post-Civil War America: the building of the Transcontinental Railroad. Life with the railroad is far from the proper life Josephine is used to, and she faces deadly gunfights, harsh weather, and vigilante uprisings. She is torn between the West and the East; between her privileged upbringing and the challenges of a new frontier; between the pull of the suitable beau her parents approve of and an attraction to a rough but charming Irish railroad worker.

But if Josephine is willing, she just might find a new life, a unique purpose… and true love.


my review...


Nancy Moser's latest offering brings to life post-civil War America and the Wild West, with colorful characters and interesting historical details. Female readers especially will appreciate the romantic tension that oozes through the pages, as Josephine finds herself caught between her relationship with her fiance and her attraction to the seemingly unworthy railroad worker. I enjoyed the twists that Moser has added to the story, where we watch Josephine discover that all is not as it seems. However, I must say that some of Josephine's behaviours, in her immaturity, simply grated on me, and so I did not always enjoy her as a character. I have no doubt that other readers will not at all agree, for there is indeed much to like about Josephine with her spark for life and her determination to succeed. Readers who enjoy historical fiction with interesting characters with a few surprises thrown in will no doubt enjoy "The Journey of Josephine Cain".

I give this book a mild recommendation and a rating of 3 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher, Summerside Press, and the Litfuse Publicity Group, for the purposes of this unbiased review.


about the author...


Image of Nancy Moser


Nancy Moser is the award-winning author of over twenty novels that focus on the characters discovering their unique purpose. Her genres include both contemporary and historical stories.













Buy the book from Amazon

Saturday, January 25, 2014

A satisfying read that even produced tears: My review of "The Dancing Master" by Julie Klassen

Cover Art


about the book....

Finding himself the man of the family, London dancing master Alec Valcourt moves his mother and sister to remote Devonshire, hoping to start over. But he is stunned to learn the village matriarch has prohibited all dancing, for reasons buried deep in her past.

Alec finds an unlikely ally in the matriarch's daughter. Though he's initially wary of Julia Midwinter's reckless flirtation, he comes to realize her bold exterior disguises a vulnerable soul--and hidden sorrows of her own.

Julia is quickly attracted to the handsome dancing master--a man her mother would never approve of--but she cannot imagine why Mr. Valcourt would leave London, or why he evades questions about his past. With Alec's help, can Julia uncover old secrets and restore life to her somber village...and to her mother's tattered heart?




my review....

Julie Klassen has a unique ability to infuse her books with wonderful historical details, intriguing plot twists, and well-rounded characters, and "The Dancing Master" has all that and more. Readers will quickly find themselves immersed into 19th century England and experiencing the nuances of that unique period of time and place. I quite enjoyed the story of Alec Valcourt, especially as we learn the truth of why he and his mother and sister had to leave London for the village of Devonshire. His desire to be the man of the family who provides well for them is admirable indeed, and there is much to enjoy about his character. I also found that Klassen did an excellent job of peeling back the layers of secrecy surrounding the character of Julia Midwinter, making for some absolutely absorbing reading! Unfortunately, Klassen's skill at creating believable characters also resulted in me having a vague dislike for Julia herself as she is often self-absorbed and even a tad annoying. By the end of the novel we gain a greater understanding for why she acts the way she does, but even knowing that I never truly grew to care for her as I usually do for Klassen's characters. However, I will say this: the scene involving Julia's mother, Amelia, that takes place in the church, left me with tears in my eyes. The deep forgiveness that occurs in the moments that follow were truly moving, and elevated the entire novel to a whole new level. I closed the book appreciating Klassen's great skill at bringing history and faith and romance to life in a moving story.

Klassen remains one of my favourite authors of historical fiction. "The Dancing Master" is a fine addition to her repertoire, and I award it a solid 4 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.



 about the author....


Julie Klassen
Julie Klassen loves all things Jane--Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. She has won the Christy Award: Historical Romance for The Silent Governess (2010) and The Girl in the Gatehouse (2011) which also won the 2010 Midwest Book Award for Genre Fiction. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. For more information, visit www.julieklassen.com















Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Great Dystopian Christian fiction! My review of "Captives" by Jill Williamson

Captives (Safe Lands Series #1)


The year 2088 finds a world divided between those who live in the walled opulence of The Safe Lands, and those who survive on the outside of its borders. Those living in the Safe Lands have been infected with a blood-borne virus that makes them unable to produce children, leading them to capture those who live beyond their walls, virus free. When the village of Glenrock is targeted for the destruction and capture of many of its citizens for the purposes of forced reproduction, the captives must choose between accepting their fate and compromising their values, or fighting for freedom.

Jill Williamson has woven a wonderful teen novel in "Captives", creating a frightening futuristic world that seems all too possible. The writing is fast-paced and crisp, quickly drawing the reader into the story. At the same time, she has included wonderful details that bring the pages to life, with rich descriptions and unique devices like Compucharts or ColorCasts. I greatly enjoyed the variety of characters that she introduces into the story and the manner in which she has them meet and interact. The plot is filled with twists and turns and surprises, and the last half of the book is simply impossible to put down! The book delves into some dark subject matter, though appropriately dealt with (i.e. murder, forced pregnancies) and therefore is probably appropriate for older teens rather than pre-teens. At the same time, Williamson does a fantastic job of weaving Christian values into the story, and highlighting the importance of standing up for what we believe in, no matter the cost. 

Teens and adults alike will greatly enjoy this first installment in The Safe Lands series. I award it a very solid 4 out of 5 stars, and I am highly anticipating the next book to come!

Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher, Zondervan, and the Booksneeeze program, for the purposes of this unbiased review.


Image of Jill Williamson
 Jill Williamson is a chocolate loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms and the award-winning author of several young adult books including the Blood of Kings trilogy, Replication, the Mission League series, and the Safe Lands trilogy. She lives in Oregon with her husband and two children and a whole lot of deer. Visit her online at www.jillwilliamson.com, where adventure comes to life.



Monday, January 20, 2014

THE CALLING | Six Chances to win an iPad, Kindle, or Nook from Suzanne Woods Fisher!

Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher is celebrating her newest book, The Calling, by giving away TWO iPads, TWO Kindles, and TWO Nooks!
 
thecalling-400
Two grand prize winners will receive:
  • An iPad
  • The Letters and The Calling by Suzanne Woods Fisher
Four second place winners will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX or a Nook HD—winner's choice!
  • The Letters and The Calling by Suzanne Woods Fisher
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 8th. All winners will be announced February 10th at Suzanne's blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to visit Suzanne's blog on the 10th to see if you won one of the great prizes! (Or better yet, subscribe to her blog and have the winner announcement delivered to your inbox!)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Good luck putting this one down! My review of "No One to Trust" by Lynette Eason

Cover Art


about the book....


She doesn't know who she's running from--and the man she loves may be someone else entirely...

Summer Abernathy wakes up one morning to find her husband missing, three men in her home intent on finding him, and the life she's been living based on a lie. Which Kyle Abernathy did she marry? The computer programmer she met in line at the bank? Or the one who was apparently using that image as a cover?

The search for her husband--and answers--takes Summer ever deeper into a world of organized crime where people are used one moment and discarded the next. And with her deepest relationship of trust already shattered, Summer doesn't know who to believe.

Always thrilling, bestselling author Lynette Eason outdoes herself in this taut, breakneck story of lies, loyalties, and love that will have you up all night to discover the truth hidden in the shadows.




my review....

From the first sentence of "No One to Trust", be prepared to get catapulted right into non-stop action, intense scenes, and break-neck pacing. Lynette Eason has offered up a top-notch romantic suspense read, and I expect that this new series will garner her a whole new host of fans.  I thought that the premise of the novel was clever indeed, and I found myself glancing at my own spouse and wondering what it would be like to wake up one day and discover that not even their name was real!  Not only has Eason woven a great plot, but she's also created some great characters in Summer and Kyle. I enjoyed the nature of their interactions as they worked through the impact of Kyle's secrecy, and it was a refreshing change to have a "romance" novel that featured a couple already married, but where they are rediscovering who the other person really is. In the midst of the suspense, deeper issues of betrayal and forgiveness make for some tender moments between them. Their faith is presented in a clear manner yet naturally fits into the story, especially as they are running for their lives, something that undoubtedly causes you to focus on what really matters in this life! The only thing that keeps me from giving it a perfect rating is that a few too many bullets fly their way while causing minimal damage, and of course after awhile an element of realism is lost. But in the end, who cares? Those same bullets make for a thrilling ride, and I'd much prefer the good guys win anyway!

I can say that this first book of the "Hidden Identity" series has set the bar high for those that are to follow. I strongly recommend this entertaining book, and award it a very solid 4 out of 5 stars.
Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.



 about the author....



Lynette EasonLynette Eason is the bestselling author of the Women of Justice series and the Deadly Reunions series. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. She has a master's degree in education from Converse College and she lives in South Carolina. Find out more at www.lynetteeason.com.





Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A deftly woven novel that will cost you sleep: My review of "Snapshot" by Lis Wiehl @DailyVineCA

Snapshot


about the book....


TWO LITTLE GIRLS, FROZEN IN BLACK AND WHITE. ONE PICTURE WORTH KILLING FOR.

The Civil Rights Movement is less than a distant memory to Lisa Waldren—it is someone else’s memory altogether, passed on to her through the pages of history. Her life as a federal prosecutor in Boston feels utterly remote from the marches in the South that changed her father’s generation—and the entire nation—forever.

But the truth is, she was there.

When a photograph surfaces showing a blond, four-year-old Lisa playing with an African-American girl at   civil rights march in Fort Worth, Lisa is faced with a jarring revelation: the girls may have been the only witnesses who observed the real killer of civil rights leader Benjamin Gray . . . and therefore the only ones who can exonerate the death row inmate falsely accused of the murder.

Soon, Lisa finds herself in the dangerous world her father had shielded her from as a child. After some searching, the Waldrens find the other little girl from the photo and, in the process, uncover conspiracy mere steps away from the likes of Bobby Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and J. Edgar Hoover.

Based on real events and a photograph snapped by author Lis Wiehl’s own G-man father, Snapshot is a remarkably original marriage of mystery and history.




my review....

"Snapshot" is utterly fascinating, from beginning to end, made all the more so by the knowledge that the book was inspired by real events and an actual photograph of Lis Wiehl. I greatly enjoyed the twists and turns present in the plot, as murder and conspiracy collide. Wiehl does an excellent job at unveiling the plot through Lisa's efforts to help her father, and the redemption of their relationship is equally as fascinating as the suspenseful scenes. The combination of actual history into the story makes it seem utterly plausible, and Wiehl provides a unique take on the civil justice movement. Lis Wiehl is not only proving to be a master of suspense, but in "Snapshot" also explores deeper themes of racism and gender stereotypes. Some of the scenes are heart-stirring, while others will leave your pulse racing, but no matter what the book will definitely entertain you! You will grow to care about the various characters and the unjust situations they encounter, all while hoping they can make it out alive.

As you can see, Snapshot is a wonderful addition to Wiehl's ever-growing repertoire, and I can't wait to see what is coming next from this talented author!

A review copy was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.



 about the author....



Lis Wiehl is a New York Times best-selling author, Harvard Law School graduate, and former federal prosecutor. A popular legal analyst and commentator for the Fox News Channel, Wiehl appears weekly on The O’Reilly Factor, Lou Dobbs Tonight, Imus in the Morning, Kelly's Court, and more.








Find out more about the book on the publisher website:   http://www.thomasnelson.com/snapshot.html


Friday, January 10, 2014

Fast-paced thriller with a haunting message: My review of "Stranger Things" by Erin Healy

Stranger Things





Soon into Serena's rewarding career as a biology teacher, the unthinkable happens: a student accuses her of a heinous act. After being confronted with the accusations, Serena flees to the nearby hills to spend time in nature, trying to find reprieve before the media storm hits. But things take a darker turn still when she stumbles upon criminals hiding in the ruins of a house, and she witnesses the murder of a man who steps in between Serena and certain death. Desperate to clear her name and also to uncover the truth of why the man was murdered, Serena must find the courage to confront evil, though it may cost her very life.

Erin Healey’s latest offering provides a thrilling read that pulses with suspense while mining the depths of human depravity through the exploration of human trafficking. The plot is intense, with tension that only builds as the story progresses. Although there are a number of key characters that readers will meet, the way that the author introduces them into the story makes it easy to keep track of them. I loved the main character of Serena as she finds herself caught in a web of deceit that seemed all too possible to happen to someone in real life. The other characters are also well-formed, whether the good or the bad, and as such Healy has expertly balanced plot and character development. Indeed, the story was difficult to put down, and was both frightening and inspiring at the same time. 

Although faith is an element of the novel, and hints of supernatural are wonderfully explored, the characters do not seem to have a clear encounter with the person of Christ himself, something I feel may have added to the story. However, there is much within the pages of the book that points to the saving and redemptive power of God, and I love the way the characters encounter more than our eyes can see. As Serena's father said so eloquently, "There are places in the world where you will encounter things so real that you will be surprised others don't have the identical experience. But then you will realize that the clarity given you is a gift from God. Perhaps this gift is just for you, maybe it will also touch the lives of others". Reading "Strangers Things" may just cause you to look at the world around you differently and realize your own calling that God has placed on your life!

I strongly recommend this well-written book and award it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher, Thomas Nelson, and the Booksneeze program, for the purposes of this unbiased review.



about the author...



Image of Erin HealyErin Healy writes supernatural suspense novels from a Christian worldview. Her books explore what it means to be a spiritual being in a physical world, and a physical creature in a spiritual world. She is an award-winning fiction editor who worked with Ted Dekker on more than a dozen of his stories before their collaboration on KISS and BURN. She owns WordWright Editorial Services, a consulting firm specializing in fiction book development. 

Learn more about her books at http://www.erinhealy.com.
This biography was provided by the author or their representative.









Monday, January 6, 2014

Introducing "Tempest's Course" by Lynette Sowell

 
New from Lynette Sowell is "Tempest's Course".
 
 
 
 Check out a preview below!

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Tempest's Course
Abingdon Press (December 17, 2013)
by
Lynette Sowell


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lynette Sowell is an award-winning novelist. Her most recent novel, Tempest’s Course, is part of the Quilts of Love line from Abingdon Press. When Lynette’s not writing, she divides her time between editing medical reports and chasing down news stories for the Copperas Cove Leader-Press. Lynette was born and raised on the Eastern Shore of Maryland but makes her home in Coppress Cove, Texas, with her husband and a herd of cats who have them well-trained.


ABOUT THE BOOK

Kelly Frost, a textiles conservator, is invited to the Massachusetts coastal city of New Bedford to restore a 150-year-old Mariner's Compass quilt. But there is one stipulation: she must live and work in Gray House, a former whaling captain's home, where the quilt is stored. There she meets Army veteran Tom Pereira, the caretaker of Gray House, whose heart seems as hard as the rocky Massachusetts coastline. Over the long-lit months as Kelly works to restore the quilt, she and Tom grow closer. And as she reads stories in a daily journal penned by Mary Gray, she learns the secrets of the quilt and Mary's own sad tale of regret. Then Tom learns secrets of his own family's past, and both Tom and Kelly learn they are tied to Gray House in ways they never imagined.
If you would like to read the first chapter of Tempest's Course, go HERE.