Monday, October 15, 2012

Book Review - Love in Disguise by Carol Cox

Can she solve the crime before they uncover her true identity?

Jobless and down to her last dime, Ellie Moore hears about a position with the Pinkerton Detective Agency and believes it's the perfect chance to put her acting skills and costumes to use. Reluctantly, the agency agrees to give her one assignment, one chance to prove herself. Disguised as Lavinia Stewart, a middle-aged widow, Ellie travels to Arizona to begin her investigation. When the need arises, she also transforms into the dazzling Jessie Monroe, whose vivacious personality encourages people to talk.

Mine owner Steven Pierce is going to lose his business if he can't figure out who's stealing his silver shipments. In his wildest dreams, he never expected to receive help from a gray-haired widow...or to fall in love with her beautiful niece.

Then the thieves come after Lavinia and Jessie. Ellie isn't safe no matter which character she plays! Should she give up and reveal her true identity? What will Steven do when he realizes the woman he's falling in love with doesn't really exist?

Spunky, Feisty, Determined.  Three good adjectives to describe main character, Ellie Moore.  Insecure, Stubborn, Desperate.  Also three good adjectives to describe Ellie.

Author, Carol Cox, did an excellent job in creating the character, Ellie Moore.  Ellie is someone who desperately wants to be acknowledged for being good at something.  She has always been in the background, but desperately wants to stand out.  Some people are comfortable being in the background and never being noticed.  Ellie is comfortable in the background, but longs to be able to come forward and have someone say she has something, but she doesn't think she has anything worth noticing.

The story, itself, was somewhat slow for me; however, I did enjoy the book. The story is solid.  The descriptions are quite good, and I did like the characters.  It was easy to figure out the plot and the twists in the story, so I focused more on the main character.  It was fascinating to see her adapt from a large city like Chicago to a small town in Arizona where everyone is usually in everyone's business.  I also liked the side character of little Billy Taylor, the boy who would be a spy.  I think we now know how James West the character from "Wild, Wild West" might have gotten his start.

Although this is not a two-reader for me, it is definitely a book I will pass along to my friends and recommend.  I look forward to more novels from Carol Cox.

Thank you to Bethany House Publishers' Book Review Program for providing me this book free of charge.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Book Review - The River by Michael Neale

“You were made for The River . . .”

Gabriel Clarke is mysteriously drawn to The River, a ribbon of frothy white water carving its way through steep canyons high in the Colorado Rockies. The rushing waters beckon him to experience freedom and adventure.

But something holds him back—the memory of the terrible event he witnessed on The River when he was just five years old—something no child should ever see.

Chains of fear and resentment imprison Gabriel, keeping him from discovering the treasures of The River. He remains trapped, afraid to take hold of the life awaiting him.

When he returns to The River after years away, his heart knows he is finally home. His destiny is within reach. Claiming that destiny will be the hardest—and bravest—thing he has ever done.


This was my first thought when I finished this book.  The author couldn't have finished it there.  There was so much more I wanted to know.  Did the character get married, did he have kids, did he end up owning the business?  Come on!  You can't just stop there!

This was a good, solid book.  For Michael Neale's first published book, this was a good beginning.   Let me begin by giving kudos to the publisher, Thomas Nelson.  For those of us who have not gone over to the dark side of e-readers (I kid, I kid), the esthetics of this book are outstanding.  The cover of the book has an old leather look and feel to it that makes it a joy to hold.  The pages are reminiscent of older books with the uneven edges.  It's the kind of book that makes you sigh in satisfaction just from holding it.

Then comes the story.  Written in a style reminiscent of Andy Andrews, who happens to write an endorsement on the back, this book is written in allegory form with a sometimes meandering, winding, and peaceful, but other times forceful, rushing, in-your-face description of God's presence in Gabriel's life.  How circumstances that seem beyond his control were actually put into motion to eventually move him to the place he needed to be for God to redeem and heal and to show Himself constant in all things.

I will not lie, there were a few times in this book that were a little slow moving, where it felt I was trudging through, but I am a firm believer that it's how you finish the story that is the proof.  If you leave me wanting to know more about the characters, then you have more than done your job.

I look forward to more books by Mr. Neale, and maybe, hopefully, a sequel to The River?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Submerged by Dani Pettrey

Score One for Alaskan Courage

A sabotaged flight. Two murdered divers. A single clue—a grainy image of sunken treasure.

Baily Craig vowed never to set foot in Yancey, Alaska, again.  She has a past, and a reputation-and Yancey's a town that doesn't forget.  She's returned only to bury a loved one killed in the plane crash, but then dark evidence emerges and Bailey's expertise becomes invaluable for the case.

I picked this book to review because of the description, and because it was the first book in a series.  This was a plus for me because I keep choosing books that are middle or end books in series, which usually ends up costing me money. :-)
When I got the book, I saw the endorsement from Dee Henderson on the front cover and was intrigued. 
After I read the book I was hooked. 
For most people, when you read this book, I think you will see a little similarity to Dee's style of writing.  Maybe it's just the same type of genre, mystery, action, fiction, and solid Christian faith.  It could also be because Dani Pettrey has been mentored by Dee Henderson.  (She is mentioned in the acknowledgements at the end.)
There were some parts of this book that were a little predictable, but I think that is something she will work out in time.  There were also quite a few times that I actually got a little caught up in the secondary characters and wondering where their stories would go.  I have ideas in my mind, and I can't wait to see if Ms. Pettrey will go in the same direction.
The book had a solid plot and good detail.  I loved the historical story woven throughout.  I felt for the character as she dealt with the past and her the after-effects of her choices.  The underlying theme of God's grace and redemption woven throughout the story show how it's not God who can't forgive, it's we as people who can't forgive ourselves.
All in all, I think this is a good solid book and definitely recommend that you put it on your TBR list.
As a follow-up the second book in the series will be out in February 2013.
This book was provided to me free of charge by Bethany House Book Reviews.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Outlive Your Life by Max Lucado

Before Reading - Put on your Combat Boots!

It's not for fighting purposes.  It's purely self-preservation as your toes get stomped all over. 

I wasn't prepared.  I really wasn't. 

This is another book that I've had for about a year.  I was actually supposed to do the review by a certain date, which as you can tell I did not make.  I got this book right around the time I was changing jobs, dealing with a whole lot of anger and resentment with my former job, and I just didn't want to read anything about God's plan for my life.  Besides, my puppy used the book as a chew toy, so I couldn't read it...right?

About three months ago, after a lot of effort on God's part, and a lot of fighting on mine, I began to want to get back to where I had been.  I had those niggling little sensations in the back of my head telling me that really deep down I wanted more of God.  Then about 6 weeks ago, He lit a fire under my behind again.  I wanted to read and blog again, something which I haven't done a whole lot of in the last year, but I really wasn't prepared for this book..

When given the opportunity to review Max Lucado's Outlive Your Life, I signed up for a couple of reasons.  One, my husband has always enjoyed Max Lucado, so I wanted to see for myself why he liked him.  The second, was I could say I actually read Mr. Lucado's next book before my husband.


If you don't want your life changed, leave this book alone.  If you are happy being selfish, content with focusing on your own wants, wishes, and needs, then you won't like this book.  BUT...if you are looking for someone to challenge you to get out of your own way and let God perform supernatural feats through your mustard-seed size faith, this is the book for you.

This book will  make you want to match up with the character examples that Max gives.  People like Mother Theresa who gave up everything to love Jesus through the poor in India or the little boy who challenged his father, his pastors, and his church to give money to build clean water wells in a third-world country.

Max Lucado does what I've come to understand is quite normal for him.  He mixes humor, examples from the Bible, and examples from people he knows to quite literally, hit you over the head with a baseball bat, and try to wake you up to the life that is lived outside of your own existence.

One thing I would recommend is to read it twice.  The first time, just read.  Let yourself smile at the picture of the man with the new ox and cry with the story of the Turkish pastor who lost his life for not recanting his belief in Jesus.  Enjoy the way Mr. Lucado brings life to some of the stories from the Bible you've heard time and time again.

Then, after you've absorbed everything, go back through with the study guide provided at the back of the book and really let God teach his lessons through this book.

I think it's a book you will thoroughly enjoy and be challenged to "Outlive Your Life".

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Final Hour - Andrew Klavan

The Homelanders are attacking—and it's Charlie's last chance to stop them.

Charlie West was an ordinary high school kid who went to bed one night and woke up in the clutches of terrorists and wanted by the police for murder. He also woke up with no memory of the events of the last year.
His memory is returning now and has brought the terrible realization that he knows when the terrorists are going to strike next.
Whatever it takes, Charlie knows he can't give in or give up until they're stopped . . . even when the final hour is ticking away.

If you are a fan of the television show "24", then this is the book for you.  The Final Hour was a deviation for me.  If you'll look at my previous posts or at my favorites list, you'll see the genre of books that I usually read.  I do like suspense books, like Dee Henderson, but I usually stray towards the solid stories with romance, which is unusual because I am not an overly romantic person...but, I digress.  
The Final Hour was one of the first fiction books available to me from Thomas Nelson Publishers, so I ignored the fact that I don't usually read action-thriller books and jumped right in to review it.  
I did discover one problem.  This was the fourth and final book in a series.  Whoops!  That didn't stop me, though, and I actually found, with all the remembering that was done in the book, it filled in the gaps for me and made me want to go back and read the first three books.  In fact, I recently purchased them, and they are in my TBR (To Be Read) pile.
I will admit, I read this book a little like I watch 24 (which I am currently in the process of watching because I've only seen the last 2 seasons), through my fingers at some of the gruesome parts.  There are also some parts, much like 24, that seemed a little far-fetched, but in some ways that just adds to the story.  It is fiction after all.
All-in-all, I thought it was well-written, and have actually recommended this series to my 15-year-old, who loves this sort of thing.  The fact that the main character is relatively young, I thought would be a plus for her.
I think the moral of this review would be to jump outside your comfort zone and take chance.  It's like the commercial said, "Try it.  You'll like it."  :-)
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, August 13, 2012

Book Review - Prize of My Heart (Lisa Norato)

I posted a small review of this book on my Facebook page right after I finished reading it, but I wanted to post it here.

I took this with me to my daughter's softball tournament.  I tend to have  2-3 hours of downtime during each day, so I figured I could start on reading this.  Ummmm, Wrongo Ringo!  I couldn't put this down.  I even was sneaking reads when the innings changed during her games, sometimes going a little too long and getting caught by my husband when my daughter was up to bat or made a play that I missed.  :-)

This was an excellent read, a captivating story, and I highly recommend this book.  The characters were vividly developed, and you found yourself going back and forth sympathizing with first one side, then the other.  The conclusion was just as it should be.

Add this to your TBR (To Be Read) List.

Book Description
An unsolved mystery separates ex-privateersman Captain Brogan Talvis from his lost son--his only living relation, his only family. Shortly before her tragic demise, his wife abandoned their infant to strangers, refusing to reveal the child's whereabouts. Now, three years later, Brogan has discovered the boy at the home of a shipbuilder's daughter, Lorena Huntley.

Lorena guards a dark secret about her young charge. She finds herself falling for the heroic captain who has come to claim his newly built ship, unaware his motive for wooing her is to befriend the boy he plans on reclaiming as his own--until the day another's evil deceit leaves her helplessly shipbound, heading toward England.

As the perfect opportunity to reclaim his son unfolds, Brogan is haunted by thoughts of Lorena in her dire circumstance, and he is forced to make a heartrending choice between his child and the woman who has begun to capture his heart. But only his unselfish sacrifice can win him the greatest prize of all--love.

This book was provided to me by Bethany House Book Reviewers.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Review of Dee Henderson's New Book - Full Disclosure!

IT'S HERE!!! IT'S HERE!!  IT'S FINALLY HERE!  Well, almost.

The new Dee Henderson book, Full Disclosure is getting ready to release in October, but thanks to the wonderful people at Bethany House Publishers, I was able to secure an Advance Readers' Edition.  This has made my year! 

My first thought when I finished the book was, I need to read it again, which is pretty typical for her books, and I was glad she was holding true to form.

The story of Ann Silver, Midwest Homicide Investigator, who hands off a lead on a cold case to FBI Agent, Paul Falcon, is masterfully told.  You will absolutely fall in love with Midnight, Ann's dog, who made me smile and laugh out loud on several occasions.  There are many plot twists that happen right up until the last chapter.  Ones that I was not expecting.

I want to be careful and not give any spoilers, but if you're a Dee Henderson fan, you are going to love this book.  I'm not sure if it was meant this way, but to me, this book might actually give us a glimpse into Dee Henderson, the person.  Maybe, because I have been searching and waiting for a new book for so long, I'm just projecting my thoughts of who she is into this book.

Dee once again brings extreme attention to detail to her characters and allows us to see behind the scenes into some of our favorite old characters.  If you haven't read some of her other books, take the time between now and October and read through them again.

This one gets a big THUMBS UP from me. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Butterfly Effect - Andy Andrews

Everything You Do Matters.  

Every Move You Make, Every Action You Take...MATTERS

I was supposed to have reviewed this book last year.  I was given a link to an E-Book by Thomas Nelson Publishers and I had some upheaval in my life and just didn't have time to read it and then it expired.  I was so bummed.  I love just about everything Andy Andrews writes, and couldn't believe I just blew a chance to read this.  Then someone was kind enough to give me a Barnes and Noble Gift Card and I used it to purchase the book.  It was worth it.

This is one of those little Coffee Table books, or in my case, a Book Case book.  I brought it to work and put it on my bookcase that holds all my binders of meeting minutes and important ongoing projects.  I did this so I could remember that Everything I Do, Matters!

If you have never read Andy Andrews, most of what he writes is in allegory format (a truth wrapped inside a story).  This was the way Jesus taught most things for a reason.  Stories stick with us.  I love Andy because he shares little tidbits of history, which I love.  One of his favorite people in history is Joshua Chamberlain, a 34-year-old college professor turned Union Army Colonel.  This man was given one task during a battle that ultimately changed the course of history for the U.S.  Mr. Andrews has given us some of his story in some of his other books like "The Traveler" and The Noticer", but I don't remember him going into as much detail, and I have to tell you, he has turned into one of my favorite historical characters.

This book is not a hard read.  It took me about 15 minutes to read it cover-to-cover, but it is a book that everyone should read once, and then again and again as a way to remind ourselves that what we do matters, not just to us or our family, but could have long lasting impact that we can't even see.

I also want to encourage you to put Andy Andrews in your To Be Read list.  Motivate yourself and others around you to make everything you do count.  It's up to you...Do Something!