Freedom’s Price by Christine Johnson – Book Review

Freedom’s Price by Christine Johnson

Published by Revell  June 06, 2017

Genre: Historical, Christian

Pages: 186

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

When Englishwoman Catherine Haynes loses both her parents and her home in 1856, she decides to cross the Atlantic to find her American mother’s family in Louisiana. She enlists the help of Tom Worthington, a dashing Key West man who makes his living salvaging wrecked ships, but whose real goal in life is to bring to justice the man who stole his father’s ship and caused his untimely death.

When Catherine finally arrives at her family’s plantation, she finds it in disarray and her family absent landowners. Torn between returning to Key West with Tom or beginning the hard work of restoring the plantation, Catherine soon finds herself snared in a plot to steal her inheritance. When an incredible secret comes to light, both she and Tom will face a choice. Can they relinquish the dreams that have been holding them captive in order to step forward in faith–even if it costs them everything?

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Christine Johnson’s latest historical novel brings the 1850s Florida/Lousiana area to life with dashing sea captains, stolen inheritance, and an unsolved suicide.

This book was interesting for me to read as I had a bit of a love/hate relationship with it. It would go along with good pacing and witty dialogue then there would be passages  that didn’t seem help the story along. The best parts of the book were towards the end when all the intrigue was sorted out but I also liked the beginning as it gave good insight into the main characters of Catherine and Tom. Catherine Haynes is attempting to travel to her deceased mother’s relatives in Louisiana after the death of her father. Her uncle has told her that the land her father owned is being possessed by the bank to pay massive loans taken out by her father right before he died. Homeless and knowing her mother was well loved by her family in the States, Catherine sets out to claim her portion of the inheritance her grandfather willed to her mother. Her journey couldn’t be any more difficult than any she could have imagined and she will have to decide if she will trust salvage captain Tom Worthington to help her complete her journey and make her rightful claim. Catherine has spent much of her life being rather timid and unassuming but if she intends to take possession of what is rightfully hers she must be prepared to fight. Tom Worthington has spent years hunting the man who destroyed his father’s name and company, driving his father to suicide. Working as a salvage boat Captain off the coast of Key West, Tom is searching the gulf areas for the man knows as Mornez who robbed him of his family. Upon discovering that Catherine will be booking passage alone from Key West to Luisiana,  Tom offers to go with her to ensure her safety. As they travel, they will each meet with much frustration in their quests. Catherine arrives at the Louisiana Plantation to find that her cousin is an absentee landowner who has left the Plantation in the hands of a frightening overseer called DeMorney. DeMorney is a sinister man who has many secrets and is not afraid to use violence to keep all on the Plantation under his thumb. Catherine will have to use every ounce of courage she possesses to discover all the secrets before its too late for everyone. Tom is positive that DeMorney is really Mornez, but he has no way to prove it. He will have find others who can vouch for his story or catch DeMorney in his illegal activities if he wants to save Catherine and find justice for his family. The question is whether he will embrace justice or vengence? I really enjoyed the mystery that Ms. Johnson added to her story – it really gave the story a good platform and allowed for a deeper relationship between Catherine and Tom to develop. Having so many threads begun throughout the beginning of the story was a little confusing but Ms. Johnson was careful to bring everything to a close and tie the ends up nicely. I could tell that this book was supposed to be part of a series but it wasn’t so much tied to the previous books as to make it hard to read or understand the characters. I was pleased to see the way in which Ms. Johnson wove the characters faith journeys in with the plot, making it very natural and necessary to the strength that each one was able to hold to during a difficult situation. Her descriptive but not overly detailed passages of the scenery and locations throughout the book were very good as well. As I have been to several of the places she described it was interesting to hear what they were like 160 years ago. As I said before, I did find that some passages of the book seemed a bit unnecessary to the plot but I believe they were included to tie up other loose ends that were not completed in the previous stories. Overall I would say that this was a really good story to read and I will be passing it on to others to enjoy. I will certainly be looking for more of Ms. Johnson’s work in the future.

I received this E-book free of charge from Revell Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation from either company for this review.

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Under a Summer Sky By Melody Carlson – Book Review

Under a Summer Sky by Melody Carlson

Published by Revell Publishing June 06, 2017

Genre: Romance, Christian

Pages: 160

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

High school art teacher Nicole Anderson is looking forward to a relaxing summer in Savannah, house-sitting and managing an art gallery for a family friend. The house is luxurious in a way that only old money could make it, and the gallery promises interesting days in a gorgeous setting. Yet it isn’t long before her ideal summer turns into more than she bargained for: a snooty gallery employee who’s determined to force her out, a displaced adolescent roosting in the attic, and two of Nicole’s close childhood friends–who also happen to be brothers–vying for her attention.

With a backdrop of a beautiful historical city, incredible architecture, and even an alleged ghost or two, combined with the opportunity for romance . . . anything can happen!

Bestselling and award-winning author Melody Carlson invites readers to spend the summer surrounded by beauty and tantalizing possibilities for the future.

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Story Notes

Melody Carlson brings to her readers a fun and sweet romance that is as lovely as a summer sky in Savannah.

An on-going fan of Ms. Carlson’s I was most happy to see this story come across my reading dashboard. Her wit and sweetness are always wonderful to read and it comes through very well in her books. As it would happen, I was sent this book the day before my family left for a beach vacation and as this is a summertime book I was glad it would be my companion on that trip. Ms. Carlson did not disappoint – this story was really great and I enjoyed getting to know her characters. She begins her tale with a high school Art teacher named Nicole who loves her subject but not teaching it to high-schoolers who are not interested in Art History. Enter her mother, Caroline who has arranged an adventure for her – managing Caroline’s friend Vivian’s art gallery for the summer! Feeling a bit railroaded, Nicole reluctantly agrees (after speaking with Vivian) and makes plans to head to Savannah. Little does she know that this summer will be just the shake up she needs to build her confidence in herself and give her a chance at lasting love. I am always on the hunt for authors that present well developed characters and further, well developed stories. Ms. Carlson is one such author who seeks to totally immerse her readers in the sights, sounds, and smells of the setting so they actually feel they have been to the location of the story. I have put Savannah on my list of places to visit after reading this book and can’t wait to try out the culture and food of that quiet Southern town. How fun it was to walk alongside Nicole as she revisited her childhood vacation town and saw the wonderful changes that were happening. And to find herself the target of not one possible suitor but two! Add to this the “privilege” of helping a hurting teenager find her way through some tough times, the hard work of dealing with an insolent co-worker, the joy of getting to help design the layout of a lavish home and  joining in on several ghost tours in Old Town Savannah and Nicole is bound for a life changing summer. Ms. Carlson also includes spiritual growth for her characters – helping Nicole become confident in the gifts God has given her while still remaining kind to those who are hurtful; helping Ryan to become the contractor he’s sought to be for several years while dealing with his older brother who looks down on him; and helping Bernie (Ryan’s niece) feel loved and stop her parents fighting over with whom and where she belongs. And Ms. Carlson included one of my favorite romance plots – a childhood crush by one character that was annoying to the other character, that finds the good footing of a real love relationship. I love to see this plot played out – it makes for such fun and sarcastic comments that just make the story that much better. I am loathe to include more description of the content as I don’t want to spoil the story for others, but I will certainly be recommending this story to others so they can enjoy it too. I am looking forward to Ms. Carlson’s next book, hoping it will be just as wonderful to read.

I received this E-book free of charge from Revell Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I will receive not fiscal compensation from either company for this review.

The Captain’s Daughter by Jennifer Delamere – Book Review

The Captain’s Daughter by Jennifer Delamere

Published by Bethany House Publishers June 06, 2017

Genre: Christian, Romance

Pages: 209

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

When a series of circumstances beyond her control leave Rosalyn Bernay alone and penniless in London, she chances upon a job backstage at a theater that is presenting the most popular show in London. A talented musician and singer, she feels immediately at home and soon becomes enthralled with the idea of pursuing a career on the stage.

A hand injury during a skirmish in India has forced Nate Moran out of the army until he recovers. Filling his time at a stable of horses for hire in London, he has also spent the past two months working nights as a stagehand, filling in for his injured brother. Although he’s glad he can help his family through a tough time, he is counting the days until he can rejoin his regiment. London holds bitter memories for him that he is anxious to escape. But then he meets the beautiful woman who has found a new lease on life in the very place Nate can’t wait to leave behind.

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Story Notes

Jennifer Delamere’s story of finding home and family, not in a place, but with people is one for which her readers will be saying thanks.

This story was one of those that I read without feeling bored but nevertheless felt like the ending came at a good time. It was not particularly amazing in its plot but I felt the writing was fairly well done with a good vocabulary that lent the story some “yumph”, as William Powell used to say. I can’t say I will ever reread it but I did enjoy the time I spent on this story. Ms. Delamere begins her story with a good heroine named Rosalyn who has had not only her job, but her home stolen from her through a series of deceptive lies. In fear of her life, she sets out to make a new home near her sister Julia, only to discover the fiend who drove her from her home is following her to ensure she goes to prison. Not willing to bring her problems to Julia’s doorstep, Rosalyn heads to London to lose herself in the teaming masses of the sprawling city. But upon arriving there and finding herself robbed of her belongings, Rosalyn becomes desperate to find a respectable job so she can feed and clothe herself. Being offered work backstage at a London theatre is not exactly what she was looking for but Rosalyn cannot afford to be choosy. And as it turns out, God was looking out for her, putting her among people that not only respect her but are most willing to help her use her unbeknownst singing talents to gain better work and wages. Rosalyn also finds a new friend in Nate Moran, a man who will offer her safe escort to and from the theatre as well as a home with his family when Rosalyn is without a home. Nate likes Rosalyn very much and is a quite attracted to her but he is determined to return to his army regiment which is soon to leave for India. He carries a guilty secret that he has resolved to put behind him by sacrificing his life to life-long service of his country. But God has other plans for Nate, ones that also include Rosalyn, if he will simply allow God to redeem his past and give him a future of hope and love. Ms. Delamere’s story had much truth to share and I was glad to see that she confronted many “sins” within these pages. She took on the idea of repayment for past mistakes with a direct method, having several characters voice the truth of God’s forgiveness to Nate so he would find a way to lay aside his guilt and take on the life God had for him. Further she had Rosalyn work on her ability to forgive others who had hurt her in the past and reach out for new and better relationships – allowing her to find a new family with Nate and his relatives. Ms. Delamere examined and dissected other small truths in her story but they are too numerous to give them justice here. She kept her story positive and well-paced and this kept me reading to the end, as I would not have if this had not been the case. I will pass this story on to others, not just for the lessons to be learned but because this was a very nice story to read. I am hoping that Ms. Delamere will write a story about Julia as she was one of my favorite characters in this book. I have a feeling it will be of more interest to me than this one as Julia is a strong person who I’m sure will be quite a force to be reckoned with in the medical field.

I received this E-Book free of charge from Bethany House Publishers via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation from either company for this review.

Fatal Mistake by Susan Sleeman – Book Review

Fatal Mistake by Susan Sleeman

Published by Faithwords/Centerstreet   May 09, 2017

Genre: Mystery/Suspense, Christian

Pages: 305

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

An FBI agent must protect the woman who can identify a terrorist bomber in bestselling author Susan Sleeman’s riveting romantic suspense novel.
Each day could be her last…but not if he can help it.
Tara Parrish is the only person ever to survive an attack by the Lone Wolf bomber. Scared and emotionally scarred by her near death, she goes into hiding with only one plan–to stay alive for another day. She knows he’s coming after her, and if he finds her, he will finish what he started.

Agent Cal Riggins has had only one goal for the past six months–to save lives by ending the Lone Wolf’s bombing spree. To succeed, he needs the help of Tara Parrish, the one person who can lead them to the bomber. Cal puts his all into finding Tara, but once he locates her, he realizes if he can find her, the Lone Wolf can, too. He must protect Tara at all costs, and they’ll both need to resist the mutual attraction growing between them to focus on hunting down the bomber, because one wrong move could be fatal.

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Story Notes

Susan Sleeman’s most recent suspense novel is one that will keep you up at night……because you must know when or if the killer will be caught.

I love to read books that are so realistic that you can almost taste the fear and danger that the characters are experiencing. Ms. Sleeman’s latest story most certainly answers that desire and delivers a chilling race against time to catch a killer who is determined to destroy not only those he believes are traitors to their faith but the one woman who “should have loved him”. Tara Parrish’s life literally explodes when she accidentally stumbles on the workshop of the Lone Wolf Bomber, never dreaming her childhood friend Oren could have become a murderer. Barely escaping with her life, she goes into hiding, praying she can stay one step ahead of the man who has vowed to kill her. Tara’s only problem is that Oren is not the only one looking for her. FBI Special Agent Cal Riggins saved Tara’s life and hopes that she will help him capture the Lone Wolf Bomber before he kills anyone else.But Tara doesn’t want to be found, by Oren or Cal, and  it will take another attempt on her life to help her realize that people are dying because of Oren’s fixation on Tara’s “betrayal” of him. Agent Cal Riggins is frustrated – not only has the Lone Wolf Bomber eluded him for months, but the one person who could help Cal track him down has been hiding from him (very well, mind you) as well. But Cal’s team isn’t touted as the best in the country for no reason. When he finds Tara, he won’t have found the scared, naive woman he rescued months before. Tara has become hardened, both physically and emotionally, and she is not going to come with Cal without a fight. But after Oren tries to kill not only her but Cal and his team, Tara decides she is tired of running and wants this fight finished – whatever that will take. I so enjoyed reading every page of this story! I had it with me on a day that I was running errands that gave me lots of waiting time and I got annoyed each time I had to put it down to go to the next place – it was that good. Ms. Sleeman presents a story that is very relevant to the time in which we live and yet she was able to make it timeless as well with the theme of unrequited love driving someone to cause destruction. The tension that she creates is so palpable I found myself holding my breath on several occasions as I waited to see if Oren would succeed in his terrible tasks. And her main characters were very well developed to give me a sense of walking beside them through the case and actually pondering questions or ideas of possible targets they should consider at times when I wasn’t able to read the book. I further liked the spiritual journey that both Tara and Cal make throughout the story. Given the horror Cal has seen on this case, he’s having a hard time reconciling how God can allow the numerous murders of innocent people. It will take Cal truly trusting in God to help him walk through this case without seeking vengeance rather than justice. Tara knows God cares about her, she’s just not sure she can trust Him, or anyone,to keep her safe from Oren. And her guilt over those who have died during Oren’s search for her make her even less willing to reach out for the help and comfort she isn’t sure she deserves.  One of the main reasons I like to read Ms. Sleeman’s books is her honesty when she describes attraction between two people. While she keeps the content clean, she shows the real emotions and feelings of the characters involved – making it very easy for her readers to connect with them. It is always good when an author shows that professional protectors or agents are human too, not just case focused machines that never feel anything. Not that Cal became consumed by the attraction he felt for Tara but Ms. Sleeman did show his journey to falling in love with Tara, rather than just being physically attracted to her. Tara as well was shown to journey from a place where she had hardened herself against relationships to finding that trusting and loving others is how God designed us to live. And to see that they were both willing to give their lives to save the other just made these characters some of my all-time favorites. The other characters that were featured in the book were also well done. I have a good idea that Ms. Sleeman will continue the story of this team and their cases, but will most likely have each be shown through the individual eyes of the team members. I love reading military or crime series such as this and am looking forward to what Ms. Sleeman will be offering next. I will most certainly be passing this story along to others and hope they will enjoy this fast-paced nail bitter as much as I did.

I received this E-book free of charge from Faithwords/CenterStreet Publishers via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation from either of these companies for this review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Women Who Move Mountains: Praying with Confidence, Boldness and Grace by Sue Detweiler – Book Review

Women Who Move Mountains: Praying with Confidence, Boldness, and Grace by Sue Detweiler

Published by Bethany House Publishers May 02, 2017

Genre: Christian, Devotions

Pages: 256

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

Amid our packed schedules and life’s curveballs, our hearts long for more. We want to live and love well; we want to be a source of joy and life. The good news is that you can–and the secret is found in the simple act of prayer.

Prayer was never meant to be a recitation of requests, but rather a drawing close to the heart of God. When you learn to exchange the obstacles of life for the promises of God, you will pray with passion and confidence rather than fear or insecurity. From this place of surrender and intimacy, you will discover what it means to become a powerful, effective woman of prayer–a woman whose life overflows with springs of living water that transform not only her own life, but the world around her.

With study questions and journaling exercises included, this is the perfect book to go deeper either on your own or with a group.

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Story Notes

Sue Detweiler’s study of prayer beckons you to go deeper into your prayer life than you’ve ever ventured before, forgetting fear and arrogance, to find yourself in a more intimate relationship with the God who calls you to know Him better.

Have you ever read a book and thought “Wow, this has so much truth in it, but I’m just not connecting with how its written”? That was me with this book. I loved the truth Ms. Detweiler shared and felt she was on the mark with what she was teaching, but I just couldn’t get connected with her writing. This frustrates me quite a bit as I know I have much to learn about the greatness of God, that He wants us to get to know Him better, and that is done best through prayer and reading His Word. Being raised in a Christian home, prayer has been a major part of my life since I was a very young child. We prayed at meal times, bedtime, before trips and, most certainly, at church. As I have grown older and am seeking to build my relationship with Jesus every day, I am more frequent and sincere in the prayers that I offer as I see His provision and love in even the smallest happenings. And since I would never say I am an expert at prayer, I thought this book would be a great way to expand my knowledge and seek to pray for myself and others in a more meaningful, respectful way. Yes, I did learn some things and was reminded of others I knew but had been lax in applying, but the writing style hindered me in my learning. I had a hard time identifying with many of the stories she was sharing as those have not been my experience or history. I am also not married which also makes books written by married women hard for me to connect with. The second half of the book was a better fit for me as it was more focused on what I could do with myself rather than what others had done with themselves. When I have to question my motives, thoughts and habits, I find that I can always find ways in which I need to improve or confess wrong doing. So while this book was not to my particular taste I have given it a rating of 4 out of 5 stars because I feel that it still has so much to teach. It may be that this is just the book someone else is looking for and I am to pass it along so that God can use it in their lives. If so, that would be an amazing privilege that I am most thankful for which to be a part. I will certainly recommend this book to others, knowing God can use whatever He chooses to grow them in their spiritual walk. May others find more to connect with and a deeper relationship with God through the truth in these pages.

I received this book free of charge from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation from Bethany House Publishers for this review.

Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble – Book Review

Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble

Published by Thomas Nelson Fiction  July 11, 2017

Genre: Mystery, Christian

Pages: 368 pages

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

Dana has already learned that love isn’t safe . . . but could it be different in Rock Harbor?

As a 911 dispatcher, Dana Newell takes pride in being calm in tough circumstances. In addition to her emotionally-charged career, she’s faced enough emergencies in her own life. She recently escaped her abusive fiancé to move to tranquil Rock Harbor where she hopes life will be more peaceful.

But the idyllic town hides more danger and secrets than it first appeared. Dana is continually drawn to her new friend Boone, who has scars inside and out. Then she answers a call at her job only to hear a friend’s desperate screams on the other end. Soon the pain in her past collides with the mysteries of her new home—and threatens to keep her from the future she’s always wanted.

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Story Notes

Colleen Coble’s return to Rock Harbor brings mystery, danger and enough suspense to keep readers engaged from the first page to the last.

As a long-time fan of Colleen Coble I was excited to return to Rock Harbor with her in her latest story. Rather that keeping the focus on Bree Matthews, nee Nicholls, Ms. Coble chose to have the story told through the eyes of Bree’s friend Dana Newell. There were a few other characters viewpoints added in, mainly that of Boone Carter, but the main story centered around Dana. Dana has come to Rock Harbor in search of peace and safety after her boyfriend, Garrett, attacked and stalked her back in Washington state. She plans to stay with her adoptive brother, Chris, and work as a 911 dispatcher for the area, a job she was happy to be able to continue from her life in Washington. But coming home brings with it much more excitement and danger than Dana has anticipated: from a possible new relationship with Boone, to the presence in town of Garrett who is seeking to get even, to the missing persons/murder case that Dana inadvertently finds herself in the middle of, Ms. Coble includes a wonderfully terrifying number of situations that make you hold your breath until you see how they turn out. I always enjoy a good mystery in which the author uses assumption and distraction to keep the real culprit hidden. I did manage to figure out the guilty person before it was revealed but not too soon, which makes me feel like I “beat” the characters to the right conclusion – which, I’m sure, is Ms. Coble’s clever intention. It was also fun to be ridiculously scared for Dana when she confronted Garrett and later, the killer. If I don’t feel like the characters were in actual danger it makes the book a bit boring, but Ms. Coble definitely strove to keep you glued to the pages of her story to find out “who dunnit?” and why. Ms. Coble also used one of my favorite character building plots – strength training and self-defense. Dana had a lot of fear in her life and had so little confidence in her ability to take care of herself when in danger that I was glad to see her grow strong throughout the story. Boone taught Dana to not only prepare her body to defend herself, but also to use mental and spiritual strength to give her defensive moves the power needed to fight off possible attackers. Dana, in turn, taught Boone to be less-defensive about his past physical and spiritual scars and let others see the kind and helpful side of himself. Dana’s faith in the face of all her problems teaches Boone that God gives strength to those who ask for it and will be there to catch His children when they fall. As their relationship grows, they will find themselves tested to their absolute limits, and thankfully, they come out even stronger both individually and as a couple. I was further glad to see that Lauri finally realized that she’s not as smart as she thinks she is, especially when it comes to men. She’s had some rough years and done some growing up in the past couple of books but I hope Ms. Coble is finally going to have her take time to mature a little in her ability to read people and in her spiritual life. Perhaps the next book will tell more of her story – one can always hope! The only problem I find with a good book such as this is that it ends before I’m ready to be finished. I’ve really loved the Rock Harbor series so far and hope Ms. Coble will be adding more books very soon. I will definitely recommend both the series and this book in particular to others, hoping they will enjoy it as much as I did.

I received this E-book free of charge from Thomas Nelson Fiction via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation from either company for this review.