Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Deb Richardson-Moore's The Cantaloupe Thief ~ Reviewed


The Cantaloupe Thief (A Branigan Powers Mystery)
by Deb Richardson-Moore 
Paperback – June 27, 2016
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1782641920


Book Description: 

A murder mystery set in NE Georgia, USA, and featuring a reporter, Branigan Powers, who is commissioned to investigate a cold case, an unsolved murder of a wealthy widow ten years previously. She enlists the help of Malachi Ezekiel Martin, a homeless man who is both a possible suspect and a possible sleuth: the idea being that homeless people get overlooked, and hence see things that are concealed from the rest of the population.  This is the first in an intended series of novels featuring Branigan, Malachi, and Branigan's friend Liam, who runs a shelter for the homeless.

Review: 

First can I say that this book description is painfully dry? 

I received this novel randomly from the publisher and picked it up to decide whether or not to read and review it or send it on down the road. I get books I don't ask for and review maybe ten percent. Fortunately, I have others near me who love to read and some who review so that's where most of them go. 

I kept The Cantaloupe Thief after opening it and getting hooked early on. I'm really glad I did. There are two solid mysteries in the novel, and many, many possibilities for the culprit or culprits. I like that, there is not much more disappointing then figuring out whodunnit in chapter two. I did not and was leaning a whole different direction for much of the story. Definitely a win in the mystery department. I also liked the characters, setting and overall feel of the story. A great, solid four-star read for sure. Since this is book one of a series I'll look forward to more. 

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer  

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Irene Hannon's Sea Rose Lane ~ Reviewed



SEA ROSE LANE
Irene Hannon
Series: Hope Harbor
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Revell (June 7, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0800727541

Three-Time RITA Winner Invites Readers Back to the Captivating Coastal Town of Hope Harbor 
After a devastating layoff, attorney Eric Nash heads back to the town where he grew up--only to discover that his childhood home is being transformed into a bed & breakfast. Instead of plotting his next career move in peace, he's constantly distracted by noise, chaos--and BJ Stevens, the attractive but prickly blonde architect and construction chief who's invaded the house with her motley crew.

As for BJ, her client's son might be handsome, but after a disastrous romance, dating isn't high on her agenda. Yet when they join forces to create a program for Hope Harbor seniors, might they also find healing, hope, and a new beginning themselves?

Three-time RITA Award winner Irene Hannon takes readers back to Hope Harbor for a new season of charm, romance, and second chances.

Review:

Sea Rose Lane is another book in the Hope Harbor Novel Series. This one involves Eric Nash, who is returning home to Hope Harbor after having been let go from the law firm he was working for. He had been working for most of his adult life to move up in a law firm, so he's at a loss as to what direction he is supposed to go in now. BJ Stevens owns her own construction company and is remodeling Eric's father's home into a bed and breakfast. She left the big city life after a bad relationship, and has enjoyed her time in Hope Harbor, using her talents to help those in need, and enjoying a quieter life. Their first meeting involves a car accident, so they leave with bad impressions of each other, but as they continue to “bump” into each other, they find qualities about the other that are admirable and attractive. However, Eric is unsure if he wants to leave the big city life and stay in Hope Harbor, and BJ is not willing to give her heart away to someone who is going to leave.

I enjoyed reading another book in this series. Hope Harbor sounds like a place I would like to visit or live. I enjoyed watching Eric's perspective change as he adjusted to a slower paced life. The life he had led before, working 60 plus hour weeks and living only for his job, sounds miserable. I think he began to realize that as the story unfolded. This was a great read.

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Terri Blackstock's If I Run ~ Reviewed

  • If I Run
  • Terri Blackstock
  • File Size: 1959 KB
  • Print Length: 319 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 5 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
  • Publisher: Zondervan (February 16, 2016)
  • Publication Date: February 16, 2016
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishing

Description: 

Casey knows the truth. But it won’t set her free.

Casey Cox’s DNA is all over the crime scene. There’s no use talking to police; they’ve failed her abysmally before. She has to flee before she’s arrested . . . or worse. The truth doesn’t matter anymore.

But what is the truthThat’s the question haunting Dylan Roberts, the war-weary veteran hired to find Casey. PTSD has marked him damaged goods, but bringing Casey back can redeem him. Though the crime scene seems to tell the whole story, details of the murder aren’t adding up.

Casey Cox doesn’t fit the profile of a killer. But are Dylan’s skewed perceptions keeping him from being objective? If she isn’t guilty, why did she run?

Unraveling her past and the evidence that condemns her will take more time than he has, but as Dylan’s damaged soul intersects with hers, he is faced with two choices: the girl who occupies his every thought is a psychopathic killer . . . or a selfless hero. And the truth could be the most deadly weapon yet.

Review: 

If I run is my new favorite Blackstock novel. From the second the story starts until the minute it ends with a massive cliff hanger I was hooked. 

The opening moments show Casey removing blood stained clothes, gathering what she can't leave behind and grieving a huge loss. And the evidence will show Casey murdered her best friend. 

As she attempts to find truth that can clear her and bring the killer to light she finds herself getting involved in another dark secret unrelated to her murder charges and just as deadly. 

This novel is not tied up in a nice bow at the end. There will be another book or more to finish the story. If you hate cliffhanger endings this one might frustrate you. The only other iffy point is the fact that there is murder and a couple scenes involving child endangerment. But if you love PI or police procedurals it's top notch. I loved the characters as well. Very solidly three dimensional and the writing is smooth and engaging. It's pretty rare for me to give 5 star reviews the longer I've been reviewing. But this one earns 5 from me. 

As per usual, I received an Advanced Reader Copy from the publisher so I could offer my opinions. 

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer
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Friday, August 05, 2016

Kim Vogel Sawyer's When Love Returns ~ Reviewed

WHEN LOVE RETURNS 
Kim Vogel Sawyer
  • File Size: 13773 KB
  • Print Length: 354 pages
  • Publisher: WaterBrook (September 22, 2015)
  • Publication Date: September 22, 2015
  • Sold by: Random House LLC



Description: 

Riddled with doubt and lingering regrets, will Suzanne and Paul find strength in God to explore a second chance at love?  
 
It wasn’t easy to move back to the Old Order Mennonite community from which quiet, responsible Suzanne Zimmerman was shamefully sent away as a pregnant teen. Returning twenty years later to take care of her mother, Suzanne and Alexa—the daughter she raised as her own—have spent months rebuilding relationships with her family. 
 
Now with the upcoming wedding of their biological daughter,  Suzanne and Paul find themselves drawn to one another once again—but with new challenges to face. They have been single parents with painful pasts. Can Paul and Suzanne find the strength to rebuild the loving relationship that was torn apart by their teen pregnancy so long ago? 
 
Suzanne must also let go of Alexa as she heads back to Indianapolis to visit friends--and as her chance to find her birth parents. Leaving the bed-and-breakfast in Suzanne’s apprehensive hands, Alexa embarks on a journey that will certainly change her life completely. Can mother and daughter trust God to restore all things in His timing?

Review:

When Love Returns is book three in The Zimmerman Restoration Trilogy. In this book, Suzanne moves back to the Mennonite community to help her adopted daughter, Alexa, run the Bed and Breakfast at her Mother's home. It proves more difficult than she anticipated, as she has to work closely with Anna Grace, the daughter she gave up for adoption to family members 20 years sooner, as well as the man she once loved and Anna Grace's father, Paul. To make matters even harder, Anna Grace does not know they are her parents. In the meantime, Alexa decides she needs to search for her birth mother as well. What she doesn't realize is that her birth mother has also begun a search for her!

I didn't read book one in this series, so I missed out on some of the details, but I did read book two. I was very excited to get this book and see how things turned out for everyone. My heart hurt for Suzanne, having to work so closely with her real daughter while not letting on who she was, and watching her adopted daughter leave to find her birth mom. I had a hard time putting the book down because I wanted to see everything get resolved so that everyone had their happy ending. I don't think you will be disappointed.

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Elaine Stock's Always With You ~ Reviewed

  • Always With You
  • Elaine Stock
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Elk Lake Publishing (January 19, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1942513844


Description:

Can she move forward without knowing her past? Will he enjoy his present if he can’t free himself from what he left behind? In the heart of the Adirondacks, Isabelle lives in the shadow of a dark family secret whose silent burden strips her family of emotional warmth and faith in God. Tyler belongs to the religious sect called The Faithful, which Isabelle’s father dislikes immensely. Yet, because Tyler belongs to this group, Isabelle sees only a man devoted to his family and faith. She wants it; she gets it; they marry. And when the truth comes out, Isabelle faces two choices: Staying could endanger her child. Leaving could cost her life.

Reviews: 

Always With You's chilling premise is taken right from current headlines. Polarizing groups of people lashing out in an attempt to keep those within safe and protected is happening all around us. Somehow hurting to protect seems noble and revenge feels right. But in the harsh light of truth neither of those is justifiable.  

Isabelle, who is saved from a fate worse than death by a mysterious outsider. She falls hopelessly for him. Her family had given her anything she could ever need but had neglected her confused and insecure heart. Tyler belongs to a sect and lives outside of town in a communal setting. He is driven to keep his family together and indebted to the leader of the group who had rescued him. 

As the deep hatred of the frightened townspeople intensifies and the racially biased violence escalating within The Faithful comes to light Isabelle becomes horrified at the choices she now faces. And at what she has chosen to believe. When some of her family secrets spill over as she makes a move toward freedom, she is shocked back into helpless surrender again. 

An intimate look into how truth can easily become twisted and how followers can be made through manipulative acts of kindness and escalate into powerful mind control. Chilling and suspenseful yet filled with the promise of grace. 

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

BONUS REVIEW. Pop over to Nora's Blog for her thoughts http://psalm516.blogspot.com/2016/02/always-with-you-reviewed.html

Monday, July 25, 2016

Maggie Brendan's A Sweet Misfortune ~ Reviewed



A SWEET MISFORTUNE
Maggie Brendan
Series: Virtues and Vices of the Old West (Book 2)
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Revell (February 2, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0800722655

Rachel Matthews isn't one to rely on others to take care of her. Destitute and alone, she still wants to make her own way and her own money--even if she's forced into the life of a dance hall girl. Horrified by her circumstances, Rachel's brother sends a friend--the widely admired cattle baron John McIntyre--to rescue her, then sets off to earn enough money to buy back the family ranch. But when months pass without her brother's return, Rachel isn't sure she can take one more day in John McIntyre's home--especially once she discovers that he's the one who holds the deed to her family's ranch.

Sparks fly between this spunky, independent heroine and the ruggedly handsome hero as they navigate the snarled terrain of pride, greed, faith, and love in Maggie Brendan's delightful series set in the Old West.
Review:

A Sweet Misfortune takes place in Montana in the Old West. Rachel Matthews' parent's have passed away, and her and her brother are in danger of losing their family home. Her brother, Preston, leaves for the gold fields, leaving Rachel alone. Her only choice for employment is as a dance hall girl, which she is unhappy about. However, when Preston's friend, John McIntyre, gets a letter from Preston asking him to rescue his sister, he feels it's his duty as a friend to help out. After taking her to his home to stay with him and his Grandmother, Estelle, he tries to settle back into the life of a cattle baron, but is distracted by Rachel's character and beauty. Rachel, on the other hand, is upset that her brother hasn't returned, and does not like being dependent on strangers. But John is different than other men and she can't help being drawn to him.

This was a great book. I admired Rachel's character. Working in the saloon was not ideal, but she was able to keep herself from becoming a “soiled dove,” and try to continue to trust in the Lord. I also liked that she was able to humble herself to accept help from strangers in order to get back on her feet. John's character grew throughout the story, too. He became less judgmental and began to see that wealth and status were not quite as important as he originally thought.

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Lori Benton's A Flight of Arrows ~ Reviewed

A FLIGHT OF ARROWS
Book 2 in the Pathfinder Series
By Lori Benton
Waterbrook
April 2016
ISBN 1601427344

BACK COVER:
It is said that what a man sows he will reap--and for such a harvest there is no set season. No one connected to Reginald Aubrey is untouched by the crime he committed twenty years ago. 

Not William, the Oneida child Reginald stole and raised as his own. Identity shattered, enlisted in the British army, William trains with Loyalist refugees eager to annihilate the rebels who forced them into exile. Coming to terms with who and what he is proves impossible, but if he breaks his Loyalist oath, he'll be no better than the man who constructed his life of lies.

Not Anna, Reginald's adopted daughter, nor Two Hawks, William's twin, both who long for Reginald to accept their love despite the challenges they will face, building a marriage that bridges two cultures. 

Not Good Voice and Stone Thrower, freed of bitterness by a courageous act of forgiveness, but still yearning for their firstborn son and fearful for the future of their Oneida people.

As the British prepare to attack frontier New York and Patriot regiments rally to defend it, two families separated by culture, united by love, will do all in their power to reclaim the son marching toward them in the ranks of their enemies.


MY REVIEW:

Action. Adventure. Romance. And a healthy dose of history. All this and more are in store for you in this rousing historical tale.

I love the way author Lori Benton captures the speech pattern of the Oneida Native Americans. Is it true to form? I have no idea, but I could sure hear their voice in my head. 

I also love the way Anna Catherine and Two Hawks finally get to . . . umm . . . I suppose I shouldn't give it away. Let's just say their story will leave you satisfied.

I did get a little annoyed, however, with William. Yeah, I understand he had a rough life and felt betrayed and all that, but that doesn't excuse his stupid choices. Stupid man. But I suppose such strong feelings toward a fictional character are the sign of a fantastic author, eh?

If you're interested in the Revolutionary War era, plus a sweet little love story, this is the book for you.

Reviewed by: Michelle Griep


Bonus Review:

A Flight of Arrows is book two in the Path Finders Series. This book continues where book one left off. The Revolutionary War is about to begin, as the British and the Continentals build their armies. William has left to fight for the British, after finding out his father, Reginald Aubrey, kidnapped him at birth, separating him from his twin brother and parents. He also found out that his birth mother was white and his birth father was an Indian. His brother, Two Hawks, and father, Stone Thrower, are on a mission to find him before something happens to him, and before the war reaches their home.

I was SO excited to finally get this book. Book number one really left me hanging. The author did a great job of letting the story build, telling it from different points of view. I had really had no idea how things were going to come together, and I have to confess, I had no idea it would end as it would, but even thought it wasn't how I may have ended, the way the author wrapped things up was wonderful and glorifying to God. This is one of the first series I've read that I thought would make a wonderful movie.

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers