Tuesday, April 30, 2019

THE UNEXPECTED CHAMPION by Mary Connealy, Reviewed by Kim

If you’re looking for a story that is full of unexpected twists and turns, action, witty banter, and has a great setting, this is the story for you! The Unexpected Champion is the third book in the High Sierra Sweethearts series but it can be read as a stand-alone. It is my favorite of the series. 

The action begins almost from the very first page - it was totally unexpected and caught me completely off guard! The banter back-and-forth between Penny and John is pretty funny - especially during some really intense scenes. I love Mary Connealy’s sense of humor! I also want Penny’s bag and everything inside of it! 

The Unexpected Champion is the third book in the High Sierra Sweethearts series but it can be read as a Stand-alone. It is definitely my favorite of the series. 

*I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are my own.  

BackCover Blurb:
City dweller John McCall never expected to be out in the High Sierras of 1868 on a wild-goose chase to find the Chiltons' supposedly lost grandson. But now that he's out here, things have gotten even more complicated, mostly due to wildcat Penny Scott. She's not like any woman he's ever met--comfortable in the woods, with a horse, and with a gun.

When Penny and John are taken against their will by a shadowy figure looking for evidence they don't have, both realize they've stumbled into something dangerous and complicated. With their friends and family desperately searching for them, Penny and John must make a daring escape.

When they emerge back into the real world, they are confronted with a kidnapper who just won't stop. They must bring a powerful, ruthless man to justice, even as this city man and country woman fight a very inconvenient attraction to each other

Available in digital ebook, paperback, audiobook and hardcover:
Buy An Unexpected Champion at Amazon
Buy An Unexpected Champion at Christianbook.com

Monday, April 29, 2019

THE MEMORY HOUSE by Rachel Hauck, Reviewed by Nicole Cook

Rachel Hauck is a master at writing time-slip (dual timeline) novels that seamlessly weave together the historical and contemporary storylines with twists and turns along the way that the readers do not expect. In her latest novel The Memory House, Rachel Hauck does not disappoint. 

In the contemporary storyline, readers are introduced to New York City cop Beck Holiday, who is still dealing with her father’s death on 9/11 and her resulting loss of memories of him. Beck discovers that she has inherited a house known as The Memory House in Florida from Everleigh Callahan, a woman she doesn’t remember. While visiting Florida, she reconnects with childhood friend Bruno Endicott, who has been in love with Beck since they were teenagers. About fifty years earlier, newly married Everleigh Applegate suddenly becomes a widow after a deadly tornado strikes. Can her old friend Don Callahan give her a second chance at love and help her find a purpose in her life?

Rachel Hauck handles difficult topics in both storylines with grace and understanding, such as infidelity, pregnancy outside of marriage, adoption, and the unexpected death of loved ones. Even though they grew up in two very different decades, Beck and Everleigh have many similarities throughout their lives. Much like in real life, the characters deal with their mistakes and grief in different ways. Many readers will be able to relate to the struggles that these women faced and the uncertainty about their futures. Readers who have never experienced situations like those in the novel and even readers who may not agree with some of the characters’ decisions will still be rooting for the characters to get their happy ending. This is a story of family, faith, enduring love, and forgiveness. The Memory House is highly recommended for fans of contemporary and historical fiction, and readers who enjoy time-slip novels by authors such as Melanie Dobson, Heidi Chiavaroli, and Sarah Monzon.

*I received the book from the publisher but I was under no obligation to provide a positive review.

Back Cover Blurb:
Embracing the future means remembering the past . . .

When Beck Holiday lost her father in the North Tower on 9/11, she also lost her memories of him. Eighteen years later, she’s a tough New York City cop burdened with a damaging secret, suspended for misconduct, and struggling to get her life in order. Meanwhile a mysterious letter arrives informing her she’s inherited a house along Florida’s northern coast, and what she discovers there will change her life forever. Matters of the heart only become more complicated when she runs into handsome Bruno Endicott, a driven sports agent who fondly recalls the connection they shared as teenagers. But Beck doesn’t remember that either.

Decades earlier, widow Everleigh Applegate lives a steady, uneventful life with her widowed mother after a tornado ripped through Waco, Texas, and destroyed her new, young married life. When she runs into old high school friend Don Callahan, she begins to yearn for change. Yet no matter how much she longs to love again, she is hindered by a secret she can never share.

Fifty years separate the women but through the power of love and miracle of faith, they each find healing in a beautiful Victorian known affectionately as The Memory House. 

Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover and audiobook:
Buy The Memory House on Amazon
Buy The Memory House on Christianbook.com

Sunday, April 28, 2019

AFTER THE RAIN by Brandy Bruce, Reviewed by Winnie Thomas

“Knowing who we are takes years. Twists and turns and mistakes and growth.”
After the Rain is the story of a broken, hurting, realistic heroine trying to find her way after the crushing heartache of rejection. As Debra makes a new life for herself in Denver away from her group of friends, she meets other friends, including Ben, a worship leader/band singer, who takes an interest in Debra. The author created some fascinating, endearing, and multi-layered characters that came alive on the page and drew me in from the first. I loved the growth I saw in Debra as she got to know her new friends and began to get over her heartache.

“The difficulty with happiness being tied up in another person is that we have no control over that person. So they have the power to destroy our happiness.”

Brandy Bruce is a talented writer who can bring out all the emotions. Her adept weaving of uplifting messages of healing, forgiveness, of hope brought an additional dimension to this gripping story. I’ll be looking forward to more books from this author in the future.

*I bought this story and was under no obligation to review it.

BackCover Blurb:
Debra Hart is moving on. Maybe. Hopefully. One day.

As a radio show host, Debra spends her mornings as Miss Lonely Heart on air, empathizing with all the broken hearts in the Denver metro area. She spends her evenings watching old musicals and trying not to think about the guy who broke up with her and subsequently fell in love with one of her best friends. Alone in a new city, Debra questions where she belongs and who she is now.

When she stumbles into the indie music scene, Debra meets singer Ben Price. Rock star appeal, with a day job as a worship pastor, Ben is everything Debra wants to avoid. But he’s determined to be her friend, and it so happens she could really use one. Because try as she might, nothing seems to erase the anger and betrayal she feels.

It’s time for a new dream. But how does she start over when the pieces of her broken past remain lodged in her heart?

Available in digital ebook and paperback:
Buy After the Rain at Amazon

Saturday, April 27, 2019

THE RUBY RING by Karen Rees, Reviewed by Paula Shreckhise

Paula offers this review from a favorite story published in 2013:
The Ruby Ring by Karen Rees is a historical novel taking place during 1535-1537 in England.

A renegade monk by the name of Martin Luther has sparked something in the English speaking world. William Tyndale is trying to translate the New Testament so that the English common man can read it for himself. The Church of England is against letting people have the Bible in their own language. They are out for control, power and money. The Church has strayed from preaching the Gospel and turned to calling for works for Salvation and having people buy favor from the Church- not the free gift of grace through faith in Christ.
Owen Alton is a friend of Tyndale and risks his life to get the scriptures into the hands of the common man. That jeopardizes his relationship with Jane Horne. Jane is trying to be obedient to her stepfather, Sir Harry, but is wary of the man Sir Harry wants her to wed. Jane and Owen want to pursue a courtship. When they are forced to part, Jane independently tries to help the cause to bring the English Testament to the English people. Will Owen and Jane meet again? How will their lives be impacted by this quest to get the true Word of God into the hands and hearts of the people? What part does the Ruby Ring play in the overarching story?

This was full of intrigue. The author has a wonderful way with words that describe what it was like in the 1500’s. I love learning about history through fiction and this fit the bill. I only wish there had been more scripture quoted. I would have liked to know which verses Jane was translating. All in all, this was a fascinating story.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author as part of a book club discussion. I was under no obligation to post a review. All opinions are my own.*

BackCover Blurb:
2014 National Indie Excellence Award Finalist. 
The year is 1524. William Tyndale makes the fateful decision to produce an English Testament without Church permission. He knows that a vernacular scripture will free the common people from spiritual domination by a corrupt and ignorant clergy. If Tyndale is caught, he'll die at the stake. So will anyone found assisting him. Owen Alton, a London grocer's heir, catches Tyndale's vision. But if he helps Tyndale, he'll be disinherited and lose Jane Horne, the minor-knight's stepdaughter he loves. Jane has defied her family in her desire to wed Owen. If he now should leave her for Tyndale.... As if she didn't have enough troubles, Jane discovers the shocking secret behind her mother's ruby ring.

Available in digital ebook, paperback:
Buy The Ruby Ring at Amazon

Friday, April 26, 2019

A SILKEN THREAD by Kim Vogel Sawyer, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney with #GIVEAWAY

"Someone will need to take care for Mama in her dotage, and we believe the rightful person is you."
Given a nearly impossible ultimatum by her older siblings, Laurel Millard can only dream of finding a suitor who can not only support her, but also her mother. When the opportunity, to spread her wings a bit, arrives in the form of temporary employment in the Silk Room at the Atlanta Cotton Exposition, Laurel decides to be on the lookout for a wealthy suitor. . . . .who, if she is lucky . . . . will most certainly make her heart sing.

Willie Sharp is also charged with the care of a parent; his father desperately needing professional rehabilitation after an apparent stroke. Willie's job at the Rochester Steam-Powered Engines factory barely pays their living expenses, so when his boss allows him a temporary leave of absence to earn additional funds as a security guard at the Atlanta Cotton Exposition, Willie and his friend Quincy head off towards their golden opportunity.

As racial tensions still threaten the peace of the quietly emerging southern economy, there is also a great divide among all socioeconomic groupings; when Laurel comes across a supposed "knight in shining armor" will she be brave enough to look beneath the surface? When Quincy is convinced that the color of his skin is the source of all his problems, will he learn to "be owned by God or be owned by sin?" And sweet, honorable, Willie . . . . will he learn what's it is like to trust in the Lord with all his heart?

What a lovely, intentional story; written by an author who knew how to embrace a myriad of historical land mines with the skill of a weaver! 

*Rebecca and Debra received this paperback in their Goody Bags from the CFRR2019 event and were under no obligation to review it.

(Because she's holding out for the audiobook...) Debra is giving away her copy to one commenter who'd love to win it and shares this post on their facebook or twitter account OR follows us by subscribing. We'd love to have more readers follow by email! There it is...our subscribe button!

Comment on our post here between today, April 26th and Friday May 3rd and leave your email address safely ( debraemarvin (at) yahoo dot com, for example) or message Deb directly. Due to high mailing costs we must again ask that this go to someone within the 48 contiguous United States.

Backcover Blurb:
For readers who love a heartwarming romance and a rich historical setting comes a tale of a young woman with a heavy burden, the International Cotton Exposition, and the pursuit of true love.

Eighteen-year-old Laurel Millard, youngest of seven children, is expected to stay home and "take care of Mama" by her older siblings, but Laurel has dreams of starting her own family. Operating a silk loom at the Atlanta Exposition will give her the chance to capture the heart of a man wealthy enough to take care of Laurel and any children she might bear, as well as her mother.

Langdon Rochester's parents have given him an ultimatum: settle down with a wife or lose his family inheritance. At the Exposition, Langdon meets Laurel. Marrying her would satisfy his parents's command, she would look lovely on his arm for social events, and in her besotted state, he believes she would overlook him continuing pursuing rowdy adventures with his unmarried buddies. Langdon decides to woo Laurel. Willie Sharp is not well-off and must take on an extra job at the Atlanta Exposition as a security guard. When mischief-makers cause trouble in the Women's Building, Willie is put in charge of keeping the building secure. He enjoys visiting with Laurel, who seems like the little sister he never had, but his feelings for Laurel change to something much deeper. Can Willie convince Laurel that he can give her better life--even with so little to offer?

Available in digital ebook, paperback, library binding and audibook:
Buy A Silken Thread at Amazon
Buy A Silken Thread at Christianbook.com

Thursday, April 25, 2019

SWEET ON YOU by Becky Wade, Review by Nicole Cook

What a satisfying conclusion to the Bradford Sisters series! Becky Wade's latest contemporary romance novel, Sweet on You, thoroughly captivates her readers with a heartwarming story that demonstrates the power of true love and friendship through faith and determination. Sweet on You can be read as a stand alone novel, but it is so incredibly amazing that readers will also want to read the first two books of the series if they haven't already! 
Becky Wade tells the story of middle sister Britt Bradford who is the owner of Sweet Art, a small town chocolate shop. Her best friend Zander, who is now a best selling author, has been in love with her since they were teenagers, but he is afraid of sharing his true feelings. Wade weaves together an intriguing story of romance, humor, and suspense as Britt and Zander work together to uncover the secrets behind his uncle's mysterious death and his past. Their research puts in them in increasing danger, but also a chance at finding love.

What an incredible story from Becky Wade! She is a master at contemporary romance, and readers will fall in love with Sweet on You. Becky Wade is one of my favorite must-read authors, and I have loved every one of her books. Sweet on You is no exception! This will be one of my top reads for 2019.

Zander is not your typical hero. With his pale skin, black hair, and sleeves of tattoos on his arms, he is described as looking similar to one of the handsome vampires from Twilight. His patience and devotion to Britt will have readers everywhere swooning. Britt's independence and confidence is refreshing, along with her realization that she doesn't have to be strong all the time. Readers will also want to binge eat chocolate while reading Sweet on You, so beware! Becky Wade was able to make me laugh out loud and also brought me to tears in this novel, so be ready with a box of tissues!

Trust me...this is one contemporary romance novel that you do not want to miss out on!
*I received this book from the publisher but was under no obligation to provide a positive review.
Back Cover Blurb:
Britt Bradford and Zander Ford have been the best of friends since they met thirteen years ago. Unbeknown to Britt, Zander has been in love with her for just as long.

Independent and adventurous Britt channels her talent into creating chocolates at her hometown shop. Zander is a bestselling author who's spent the past 18 months traveling the world. He's achieved a great deal but still lacks the only thing that ever truly mattered to him--Britt's heart.

When Zander's uncle dies of mysterious causes, he returns to Merryweather, Washington, to investigate, and Britt is immediately there to help. Although this throws them into close proximity, both understand that an attempt at romance could jeopardize their once-in-a-lifetime friendship. But while Britt is determined to resist any change in their relationship, Zander finds it increasingly difficult to keep his feelings hidden.

As they work together to uncover his uncle's tangled past, will the truth of what lies between them also, finally, come to light?

Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover and audiobook:
Buy Sweet on You at Amazon
Buy Sweet on You at Christianbook.com

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN by Jolina Petersheim, Reviewed by Kim

This story is heart-wrenchingly beautiful and, honestly, it completely wrecked me emotionally. Seriously, you might need a box of Kleenex, or three, while reading this, and l would also suggest that you don’t read it in a public place -ugly crying might happen. 
This is the first book that I have read by Jolina Petersheim. I really wanted to take my time and savor the writing, but I couldn’t because I was immediately sucked into this story and I only looked up when I absolutely had to. I literally felt the emotions of Ruth, Elam (definitely my favorite character!) and everyone affected by the events that transpire - the pain, the grief, the choices that needed to be made - all of it. I was so invested in these characters and their story that even when I wasn’t reading, I was thinking about them and the choices they made. This story is not to be missed! 

*I was given a complimentary copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.  

BackCover Blurb:
From the highly acclaimed author of
The Outcast and The Alliance comes an engrossing novel about marriage and motherhood, loss and moving on.

When Ruth Neufeld’s husband and father-in-law are killed working for a relief organization overseas, she travels to Wisconsin with her young daughters and mother-in-law Mabel to bury her husband. She hopes the Mennonite community will be a quiet place to grieve and piece together next steps.

Ruth and her family are welcomed by Elam, her husband’s cousin, who invites them to stay at his cranberry farm through the harvest. Sifting through fields of berries and memories of a marriage that was broken long before her husband died, Ruth finds solace in the beauty of the land and healing through hard work and budding friendship. She also encounters the possibility of new love with Elam, whose gentle encouragement awakens hopes and dreams she thought she’d lost forever.

But an unexpected twist threatens to unseat the happy ending Ruth is about to write for herself. On the precipice of a fresh start and a new marriage, Ruth must make an impossible decision: which path to choose if her husband isn’t dead after all.

Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover and audiobook:
Buy How The Light Gets In at Amazon
Buy How The Light Gets In at Christianbook.com

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

ACROSS THE BRIDGE by Kristen Neva, Reviewed by Karen Klepsteen

I was so pleasantly surprised to discover that Across the Bridge takes place in my home state! Copper Country is absolutely beautiful so I’m a little biased to the book’s setting. Kristin Neva does such a wonderful job of describing the scenery and the extreme weather of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
In the story, young widower Drew moves to Quincy with his young son and is immediately drawn in by his landlord Marcella, a unique young woman with a penchant for gardening, nature, and healing. While Drew is excited at the prospect of getting to know Marcella better, she is very cautious about overstepping boundaries with Drew’s son AJ. She’s learned from experience, having lost her mother at a young age and then being quickly forced to adjust to a new stepmother. Adding another layer of complication is the possibility that Drew’s late wife might have hidden the truth about AJ’s true paternity. 

There are a lot of topics covered in this book, and I think that most of them are handled well. I felt like we could have had a little more spiritual growth from Marcella, but if the series continues then I’m sure we’ll get to see her progress! I haven’t read any of the other books in this series, but I still appreciate the way that the characters of Copper Island are all woven together through love and friendship.

Overall, this book is a nice portrayal of the people in Copper Country, and I’m looking forward to catching up on the books that I missed! 
*I received a copy of this book from JustRead Publicity Tours and am under no obligation to provide a positive review. All opinions are my own.

BackCover Blurb:
When Marcella Seppa meets her new tenant, widower Drew Smith, a spark ignites, but she won’t consider dating him. She doesn’t want his son, AJ, to experience the hurt she felt when her dad remarried shortly after her mom died. Her faith unraveled, and she threw herself into exercise and gardening instead of forming trusting relationships.

When Drew finds out he may not be AJ’s biological father, his first instinct is to leave Copper Island, but he wants to find out the truth. He seeks out Marcella’s support.

Is it possible their friendship could become more? But how would that affect AJ? Could love help make peace with the past?

Love weaves its way through the messiness of life on Copper Island.

Across the Bridge is part of the Copper Island series, but it can be read as a stand-alone novel.

Across the Bridge will make you laugh and cry. Deep, meaningful themes are woven into a fast-paced storyline.

After Marcella Seppa lost her mother when she was fifteen years old, her father quickly remarried, and her stepmother pushed too hard to foster a relationship with Marcella. Well-meaning people used Christian clich├ęs in an attempt to comfort her, but it resulted in Marcella having a faith crisis. Is love worth the risk of loss, and how can you hold on to faith when questioning the idea of a puppet-master God?

Drew Smith moves to the small town of Quincy so that his in-laws can help raise his son, and he plugs into a local church where the leader of a boys group — and his deceased wife's high school boyfriend — looks strikingly like his son. Drew fears losing part of his son's heart to a man who even he admires for his height, charm, and cool job as a State Trooper. What does it mean to be a father, and what is the balance between protecting and preparing your child?

Across the Bridge also contains a theme dealing with ALS, a terminal disease that requires a team of caregivers. Readers who've met Grandma Lou in Snow Country will want to be with her again

Available in paperback and digital ebook:

Monday, April 22, 2019

SHADOW AMONG SHEAVES by Naomi Stephens. Reveiw and Interview! by Paula Shreckhise

Shadow Among Sheaves is the debut novel by Naomi Stephens. It is a clear winner in my opinion.
This is a re-telling of the story of Ruth set in England during Victorian times. The setting puts things in perspective for me. During the uprising in 1857, Sir Allistair, his wife Nell and son Edric are living in India. Edric takes an Indian wife, Rena. Both father and son die and the two widows travel back to England. Now I can see how out of place the younger widow is in a foreign land. How will they survive? Nell is penniless because she cannot inherit her husband’s lands or money. They are destitute and are forced to rely on relatives but no one wants to be associated with the Indian girl. They must rely on the charity of a distant cousin for their very subsistence. But people look down on Lord Barric for even giving Rena the gleanings of his fields.

All of this plays out with the author’s wonderfully descriptive prose. She weaves a believable tale among the strictures of the times. You will recognize the parallels to the Biblical story of Ruth and Boaz. This story will stay with me for quite a while.

Be sure and pick up a copy of this book by a fresh new voice in Christian Fiction. You will not be disappointed.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own. *

Paula's interview with Naomi:
Paula: When were you first bitten by the writing bug?

Naomi: Books have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Even before I started school, I was especially impatient about learning to read. I started writing short stories when I was in first or second grade—the first one I remember writing was called “Magical Mittens.” Even then, I knew I wanted to be an author.

Paula: How has your background prepared you for being an author?

Naomi: I was blessed with parents who always fostered my love of reading. They never missed a Scholastic book order. I remember when they ordered my first copy of Jane Eyre, how excited I was when the Scholastic book order arrived. That book had a huge impact on me and was one of my main influences as I sought to set the Ruth and Boaz story against that broodier British backdrop.

I’ve also spent a lot of time in classrooms, first as a student and later as a teacher. Countless hours of reading, researching, and discussing some of my favorite works of literature—that time was crucial in preparing me for this project.

Paula: Have you always been interested in history?

Naomi: Even when I was younger, my interest in history was interwoven with my love for storytelling. So, basically, if you could present history as fiction, I loved it. For this reason, I was an ardent American Girl enthusiast, particularly when it came to the historical characters. The Felicity series was always my favorite. I must have read those books a hundred times.

Paula: How did you choose the Victorian setting!

Naomi: When I first started brainstorming ideas for a Ruth/Boaz retelling, one of my friends—who was reading a ton of regency novels at the time—half-jokingly suggested I could use this project to write one for her. Since I have a masters in British literature, that idea really took hold. I ended up setting my story in the Victorian period instead of the Regency so I could center things around the 1857 Mutiny. I thought this particular conflict would allow me to explore and complicate themes of otherness, which are so crucial to both the biblical narrative and to the Victorian period.

Paula: What is your WIP, if you can tell us? 

Naomi: I have three works in progress. I don’t want to show my hand too much here, but:

One is another biblical retelling set against a Victorian backdrop.

Another is a children’s book I’m working on with my sister-in-law.

The third is a historical swashbuckler of sorts, which I’m co-authoring with a friend.

Paula: What genres do you enjoy reading?

Naomi: I love 19th-century classics. I love mystery novels that keep me turning pages after midnight. I love young adult dystopias. I love historical fiction. I love fantasy novels that read like fairy tales. I love villains you love to hate, villains you want to love, and redemption plot lines for those who deserve them (and sometimes for those who don’t).

Paula: What does your writing day look like?

Naomi: I have two small children, so no “writing day” ever looks the same for me. I carve out as many writing moments as I can—nap time, during that half hour of Sesame Street, on days when daddy takes the toddler on an adventure, etc.—and it certainly helps that I’m a night owl. I’m also a big fan of long family trips because I can write in the car for lengthier, uninterrupted spans of time. I work better with a cup of tea in hand, especially if it’s a London Fog. Chocolate always helps too.


BackCover Blurb:
A Timeless, Beautiful Allegory of the Biblical Love Story of Ruth and Boaz

The Great Rebellion of 1857 was a remarkably bloody business. At a time when Britain’s imperial influence in India was sparking brutal clashes on both sides, no one could have expected Rena, an Indian woman, to marry a British officer—nor do they understand her decision to follow her mother-in-law to England after her husband’s tragic death.

Once the two widows are in Abbotsville, the stern yet compassionate Lord Barric attempts to help them despite his better judgment. Soon he is torn between the demands of reputation and his increasing desire to capture Rena’s heart for his own.

Available in digital ebook, paperback, and library binding:
Buy Shadow Among Sheaves at Amazon
Buy Shadow Among Sheaves at Christianbook.com

Sunday, April 21, 2019

MILES FROM WHERE WE STARTED by Cynthia Ruchti, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

"Marriage shouldn't be this hard. Ending one shouldn't either."
Mallory and Connor Duncan are on the cusp of ending their less-than-one-year marriage for reasons that defy explanation and yet make perfect sense . . . . to one of them. However, before they can make it official, Connor convinces Mallory to take a road trip; albeit not just any road trip, but one utilizing an impossibly small travel space and a not-so-surprisingly annoying eleven year old at- risk youth; all while video-blogging their experience for one of Connor's hope-they'll-be clients.

"Just add humans and the adventure begins?" Or will just adding humans bring their adventure to a tragic halt? One thing is for sure, when it's all said and done, they will be "miles from where they started."

Admittedly, this story took a little getting used to, in the beginning. But as the hash marks continued down the highway, these characters managed to comfortably worm their way inside my heart. 

*I purchased this book and was under no obligation to provide a positive review. 

BackCover Blurb:
These no-longer-newlyweds want out of this road trip--and their marriage. Too bad they can't find the off-ramp.

Weeks away from their one-year anniversary, Mallory and Connor Duncan can't even agree on how to end their marriage. But when a last-minute crisis lands them on a three-thousand-mile road trip together, Mallory wonders if their story may not be over after all.

The trip begins to unravel before the key is even in the ignition, and an at-risk, trouble-seeking missile of an eleven-year-old is unexpectedly launched into their travel plans. Close quarters get even tighter, and the couple believes this whole experience will spell disaster.

But as new challenges pop up around each bend, Mallory and Connor are surprised by the strengths they see in one another--and how they complement each other. Their first year of marriage hasn't been the arm-in-arm togetherness they expected . . . but can they find a new beginning when the road ends?

Available in digital ebook, paperback, and library binding:
Buy Miles From Where We Started at Amazon
Buy Miles From Where We Started at Christianbook.com

Saturday, April 20, 2019

THE THIEF OF CORINTH by Tessa Afshar, reviewed by Kim

Tessa Afshar is amazing! Her writing is lyrical and beautiful. She writes characters that stay with you for a long time. I read Land of Silence last year and I still think about those characters! 
Ariadne’s story really shows you how the love of God can change your life. It is a wonderful story of redemption. I love how we meet Ariadne when she is young because it really makes you feel like you know her and you can really see her growth and change throughout the story. There are also a lot of wonderful secondary characters. I’m hoping that one in particular will get his own story. 

I listened to the audiobook and highly recommend it. The narrator is wonderful! 
*I purchased this book and was under no obligation to provide a positive review.

BackCover Blurb:
First-century Corinth is a city teeming with commerce and charm. It’s also filled with danger and corruption―the perfect setting for Ariadne’s greatest adventure.

After years spent living with her mother and oppressive grandfather in Athens, Ariadne runs away to her father’s home in Corinth, only to discover the perilous secret that destroyed his marriage: though a Greek of high birth, Galenos is the infamous thief who has been robbing the city’s corrupt of their ill-gotten gains.

Desperate to keep him safe, Ariadne risks her good name, her freedom, and the love of the man she adores to become her father’s apprentice. As her unusual athletic ability leads her into dangerous exploits, Ariadne discovers that she secretly revels in playing with fire. But when the wrong person discovers their secret, Ariadne and her father find their future―and very lives―hanging in the balance.

When they befriend a Jewish rabbi named Paul, they realize that his radical message challenges everything they’ve fought to build, yet offers something neither dared hope for.

Be transported back in time by this gripping tale of adventure, bravery, and redemption, and discover why Debbie Macomber says, “No one brings the Bible to life like Tessa Afshar.”

Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover and audiobook (including large print):
Buy The Thief of Corinth at Amazon
Buy The Thief of Corinth at Christianbook.com

Friday, April 19, 2019

THE EDGE OF MERCY by Heidi Chiararoli, Reviewed by Nicole Cook

In her latest time-slip novel, Heidi Chiavaroli creates an extremely compelling story filled with deep raw emotion and authenticity. She tackles difficult topics such as infidelity and pregnancy outside of marriage, while giving hope for the future and the realization of God’s grace and love.  
The Edge of Mercy tells the contemporary story of Sarah and Matt, whose seventeen-year marriage is crumbling. When Matt moves out for the summer and acquires a new woman in his life, Sarah finds herself broken and unsure of her future. After an unusual request written in her late neighbor Barb’s will, Sarah begins transcribing the journals of Barb’s 17th century ancestor Elizabeth from the local historical museum. The journals take the readers back to the time of King Philip’s War in the late 1600s and the Legend of Abram’s rock. Elizabeth finds herself attracted to an intriguing Native American named Abram, while her secure, dependable neighbor Caleb seeks her hand in marriage. 

The growing tension and fighting between the settlers and Native Americans place Elizabeth in extreme danger. Sarah begins to see similarities between her circumstances and what Elizabeth experienced in the 17th century. Can Sarah find healing and repair her marriage or is it too late for her and Matt? 

Heidi Chiavaroli is known for writing thought-provoking time-slip novels that take readers out of their comfort zone, while at the same time, drawing them closer to their faith. Forgiveness, enduring love, and second chances are important themes in this novel. The Edge of Mercy is highly recommended for fans of contemporary and historical fiction, and readers who enjoy time-slip novels by authors such as Melanie Dobson and Sarah Monzon. 

*I received this book from the author but was under no obligation to provide a positive review.

Back Cover Blurb:

Two women, three hundred years apart, must face the devastation of all they hold dear...

Suspecting her husband is having an affair, Sarah Rodrigues fights to appear unbroken while attempting to salvage her family. Though distracted by her own troubles, Sarah is summoned to an elderly friend’s deathbed for an unusual request—find a long-lost daughter and relay a centuries-old family story.

Determined not to fail her friend, Sarah pieces together the story of her neighbor’s ancestor, Elizabeth Baker, a young colonist forced into an unwanted betrothal but drawn to a man forbidden by society.

While Sarah’s family teeters on the edge of collapse, her world is further shaken by the interest of a caring doctor and a terrible accident that threatens a life more precious than her own.

Inspired by the unconditional love she uncovers in Elizabeth’s story, Sarah strives to forgive those who’ve wounded her soul. But when light shines on the dark secrets of her neighbor’s past and the full extent of her husband’s sins, will looking to a power greater than herself rekindle lost hope?

Available in digital ebook and paperback:
Buy The Edge of Mercy at Amazon

Thursday, April 18, 2019

MISSING ISAAC by Valerie Fraser Luesse, reviewed by Rebecca Maney

"White folks 'round here's quick to sweep up things they don't understand so they don't have to look at 'em and worry 'bout what they might mean." 
When a young black man in Glory, Alabama goes missing, his friends and family grieve his disappearance, especially Pete McLean; whose relationship with Isaac ran deep and wide after the death of his own father, following an unfortunate tractor accident. All kinds of rumors abound, but no evidence ever surfaces; leaving the impression that a man's life is only worth a distant memory.

Meanwhile, Pete has some growing up to do and he discovers an unlikely ally and friend when he meets a young girl in a part of town that his friends dare not frequent. Even at thirteen, Dovey Pickett fills in a part of Pete's heart that he didn't know was missing. As they spend more and more time together a sweet bond forms between them, but can anything last forever in a place where secrets hold more power than the truth?

A beautifully paced story about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness in a small southern town where stereotypes reluctantly fracture, giving authenticity a chance to breathe.

" . . . he was free. And so was Isaac. Both of them were finally free. "

*I purchased this book and was under no obligation to review it, or provide a positive review.

BackCover Blurb:
There was another South in the 1960s, one far removed from the marches and bombings and turmoil in the streets that were broadcast on the evening news. It was a place of inner turmoil, where ordinary people struggled to right themselves on a social landscape that was dramatically shifting beneath their feet. This is the world of Valerie Fraser Luesse's stunning debut, Missing Isaac.

It is 1965 when black field hand Isaac Reynolds goes missing from the tiny, unassuming town of Glory, Alabama. The townspeople's reactions range from concern to indifference, but one boy will stop at nothing to find out what happened to his unlikely friend. White, wealthy, and fatherless, young Pete McLean has nothing to gain and everything to lose in his relentless search for Isaac. In the process, he will discover much more than he bargained for. Before it's all over, Pete--and the people he loves most--will have to blur the hard lines of race, class, and religion. And what they discover about themselves may change some of them forever.

Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover and audiobook:

Buy Missing Isaac at Amazon

Buy Missing Isaac at Christianbook.com

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Notre Dame Cathedral Fire

by Anita Mae Draper

A few days ago as I watched the Notre Dame Cathedral fire in Paris on the national news channel, I felt the same overwhelming sense of loss that I had felt in September 2018 upon hearing that Rio de Janeiro's National Museum had been consumed by fire. The loss of Brazil's science institution, culture and history was immeasurable and I still grieve for the loss that touched all Latin countries because of it.

Notre Dame Cathedral West Facade
Although I'm not a Roman Catholic, Notre Dame Cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and at the very least deserves respect for its art, artifacts, and medieval architecture. I haven't visited Paris, but from all accounts the cathedral is a magnificent structure unlike anything else in the world. And as a World Heritage Site, its loss would have a profound effect around the globe. 

On the TV screen, fire shot up and smoke billowed behind the newscaster. I heard sirens and shouting as if chaos had erupted. A crowd had gathered but as darkness fell, all I could see were people swaying as if trying to see past the onlookers in front of them. I was glued to the screen as I waited for news of the three breathtaking rose stained glass windows.

When my daughter, Crystal, sent a text with an image she'd taken earlier of the west facade of Notre Dame Cathedral, she added that she was safe and only 5 blocks from the fire. How could I have forgotten she was in Paris? I remember worrying about her when she'd first told us she was going and I had asked if she knew it was during Holy Week. She wasn't worried and I had consoled myself that at least she wasn't going to be in Jerusalem at such a time. And now they were on their final day in Paris and their Hop-On Hop-Off Seine River Sightseeing Cruise had gone awry because they passed in close proximity to the fire.

Map showing locations where Crystal's photos were taken, Apr 15, 2019
They said that we couldn't go to the next stop and we had to skip it because there was a fire near Notre Dame. Smoke was pouring out of the area and shading the sun orange. As we got closer we were rerouted by police (in boats) and then re-re-routed. I don't think they knew what to do with the river traffic yet as there was a lot of chaos in the area. We ended up getting off near Le Louvre (4 stops away) and walking back to see what was happening. People were everywhere watching...on the seawall, streets, bridges...crying, stunned. Everyone was so quiet. There was a moment when everyone gasped...and then we saw the tower collapse in. It was surreal.

Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, April 2019. Video capture by Crystal Draper

Hours later, as Crystal flew over the Atlantic Ocean, the news reported that much of the art and artifacts had been saved and that the fire was out, but the three rose windows had been lost due to melting of the lead that held the glass together. If such was the case, it would be devastating since the artistry which created the windows has been lost over time. However, a few hours ago a new report stated that the rose windows appear to be intact. Oh, what a blessing that would be.

The latest news is that over 700 million dollars has already been pledged to rebuild the Gothic structure with aid coming in from around the globe. As usual, some people are saying there are better ways to use the money for humanity, but to the people of Paris, Notre Dame is the go-to place in times of trouble and times of joy, summoned by the tolling bells. 

As a historian, I am relieved that the fire was extinguished before catastrophe occurred. As a Christian, I am thankful that a sanctuary has been spared. As a citizen, I am grateful that no lives were lost during this event. 

Finally, I'll never forget that the Notre Dame Cathedral fire happened on April 15, 2019 not only because Crystal was there to photograph and videotape it, but because it happened on her dad's 65th birthday. 

Care to share your thoughts?

UPDATE: Crystal is back home now and shared this image of the Notre Dame Cathedral. Behind the river wall, you can see the restoration scaffolding and the South Rose Stained-Glass window along with the magnificent architecture. She took this photo on April 15th around 2 pm at the early part of the boat cruise, just over 4 hrs before the fire started. 

Notre Dame Cathedral, abt 2 pm, Apr 15, 2019. Credit: Crystal Draper


Anita Mae Draper served a 20-year term working on air bases in the communication trade of the Canadian Armed Forces before retiring to the open skies of the prairies. She uses her experience and love of history to pepper her stories of yesteryear's romance with realism as well as faith. Anita Mae Draper's published stories appear in Barbour Publishing, WhiteFire Publishing, and Guideposts Books. Readers can enrich their story experience with visual references by checking out Anita's Pinterest boards. All links available on her website at www.anitamaedraper.com

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