Friday, May 10, 2013
Read an excerpt here.
Gideon O’Riley has two wives—but he doesn’t know it.
Settling into a simple life in the majestic Blue Ridge mountains, Lonnie and Gideon O’Riley have finally found happiness after the rocky start to their marriage. The roguish bluegrass musician has fallen in love with his gentle wife and the God she serves, and Lonnie rests secure in his tenderness for her and their young son. A heartless ruse interupts their peace, bringing them back to Rocky Knob—and forces them to face the claims of Cassie Allan, a woman who says she is Gideon’s rightful wife.
As Gideon wades into the depths of his past choices, Lonnie is stunned by the revelations. She has no choice but to navigate this new path, knowing that surviving the devastating blow will take every ounce of strength she has.
While Gideon’s guilt and his bitterness towards Cassie threatens to burn up his fledgling faith, Lonnie wrestles to find the courage to trust the God who brought them together in the first place. Will their hard-earned love be able to conquer all?
Lonnie only wanted her husband’s love. Now that he belongs to another, can she surrender Gideon to a God with a bigger plan?
Though My Heart is Torn by Joanne Bischof is the sequel to her first book, Be Still My Soul. It was an interesting story filled with suspense, romance, heartbreak, and forgiveness. The story is totally unexpected from the beautiful end of the first novel, and I found myself drawn into the sadness and despair of this book as it was displayed with heart-wrenching clarity. The themes of this book were clear and applicable as many people faces times in their lives where they feel abandoned and have had their lives torn apart. Joanne Bischof does a great job pointing people, through her characters, to the importance of trusting God and leaning on Him for support and love. The story is told from the perspective of Lonnie, Cassie, and Gideon in turn.
The characters of Lonnie, Gideon, Cassie, and another new face are realistic and developed well. New characteristics that Lonnie and Gideon have are discovered by the reader as both of them have to deal with Gideon's past returning to haunt him. Cassie starts out as a seemingly arrogant and selfish woman, but as she observes Gideon's unfailing love to Lonnie in the midst of separation and tragedy, her heart and attitude are softened. Gideon also experiences a softening in his heart as he realizes what he is called to do and the forgiveness he needs to give and receive because of his past mistakes.
Overall, I found Though My Heart is Torn to be an excellent, heart-wrenching novel that left me wanting the next book in the Cadence of Grace series to be out already so I could discover what happens next. I would highly recommend this series to anyone looking for a touching yet spiritually and emotionally realistic set of novels.
I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah Press in exchange for an honest review.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Who will you trust when dark waters rise?
Eagle’s Talon is an architectural marvel—shining residential units afloat in a protected cove of the gorgeous Rondeau River. The project is nearly complete, partially occupied, and ready to make investors rich when a sinkhole gives way. Then torrential rains and a flood leave a ragged collection of builders, investors, and residents stranded in one floating building, cut off from the rest of the world.
They’re bitterly divided over what to do next.
Architect Vance Nolan insists they should sit tight and wait for rescue. Developer Tony Dean wants to strike out into the darkness. And single mom Danielle Clement, desperate to protect her young son, Simeon, struggles to hold their motley band together.
Power failure, a pall of unnatural daytime darkness, explosions in the distance, then a murder ratchet tensions to a boiling point. But Danielle’s young son, Simeon, has spotted something strange underwater—beautiful, shifting lights in the dark water below.
In this watery world where everyone's secrets will eventually come to light, salvation may mean more than just getting out alive.
Afloat by Erin Healy was an exciting and thought provoking novel that I enjoyed immensely. The plot line was interesting and moved at a fast but smooth pace. The story was intriguing and filled with mystery, romance, danger, and the battle between evil and good. The storyline was filled with unexpected twists and turns that left me with no idea what was going to happen next. The story was told from several different characters' view points, which allowed the reader to have an idea of what different characters were thinking and how they viewed certain events. The plot also included flashbacks to a defining moment in Vance's life and allowed the reader to see how God redeemed even the darkest events when Vance turned to the Lord. As a distinct contrast to this redemption, one of the other characters allowed one mistake to draw him into darkness, despair and finally murder, instead of turning to God for forgiveness and mercy.
The characters of Afloat were realistic and well developed. I enjoyed seeing the characters, especially Danielle and Vance, grow and learn from their mistakes and surroundings as they were trapped and as tensions grew stronger. Vance was a very complex character who not only grew throughout the course of the novel but the reader also was allowed to see his growth as he relived his past mistakes and tragedies. The final culmination of these past events was very heartwarming to see. I also enjoyed the spiritual elements of the novel and experiencing the hidden spiritual battle that was also occurring.
Overall, I really enjoyed Erin Healy's Afloat, and I would highly recommend any of her novels to a reader looking for a powerful, interesting, and spiritually focused novel.
I received this novel for free from Thomas Nelson Books and Booksneeze.com in exchange for an honest review.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
When life is murder, who can you trust?
One minute Mia Quinn is in her basement, chatting on the phone with a colleague at the prosecutor’s office. The next minute there’s a gunshot over the line, and Mia listens in horror as her colleague and friend Colleen bleeds to death.
Mia’s a natural for heading up the murder investigation, but these days she has all she can do to hold her life together. As a new widow with a pile of debts, a troubled teenaged son, and a four-year-old who wakes up screaming at night, she needs more time with her family, not less—and working Colleen’s case will be especially demanding. But Colleen was her friend, and she needs to keep her job. So she reluctantly teams up with detective Charlie Carlson to investigate Colleen’s death. But the deeper they dig, the more complications unfold—even the unsettling possibility that someone may be coming after her.
A Matter of Trust was an excellent novel filled with mystery, suspense, hints of romance, and conflict. The storyline was very interesting and kept me glued to the pages. There was not a lot of Christian themes or mentions of God in this novel, but overall the plot line did have an inspirational feel. I thought that this novel did a wonderful job pointing out the danger of cyber-bullying and how it can cause children and teenagers to take their own lives. The mystery, suspense, and writing of this novel were superb, however, and I enjoyed the entire novel tremendously. I felt that Matter of Trust was more like Lis Wiehl's Triple Threat series and seemed more like her style of writing than her East Salem Series. The plot was told from the perspective of Mia Quinn with a few sections from the point of view of Charlie Carlson, the police detective working with Mia and a few parts told from the perspective of Gabe, her son.
The characters in Matter of Trust were realistic and did have some dimension. I was able to identify with the struggles of Mia, the main character, and I enjoyed seeing her learn more about being a single parent and grow into a better understanding of her role at her work. Charlie was a more enigmatic character and not very much was revealed about his characteristics. It would have been great if his character had been given a little more dimension so that the readers could watch him grow and change throughout the course of the novel. Gabe, Mia's son, while not a central character, was very realistic, and it was interesting to see him grow into his role as a man as he learned about respect, honor, and being responsible for one's actions.
Overall, I enjoyed Matter of Trust tremendously. I found the storyline to be excellent, the themes to be convicting and troubling, and the characters to be realistic and to have a decent amount of development.
I received this novel for free from Thomas Nelson Publishers through Booksneeze.com in exchange for an honest review.
Sunday, April 7, 2013
Deadline Involved in a tragic accident under suspicious circumstances, award-winning journalist Jake Woods teams with detective Ollie Chandler to uncover the truth. This alluring e-omnibus of the Randy Alcorn bestsellers finds Jake drawing upon all his resources in an ever-intensifying, dangerous murder investigation. Unaware of the imminent threat to his own life, Jake struggles for answers to the mystery at hand and is plunged into a deeper search for the meaning of his own existence. Deadline is a dramatic and vivid novel of substance, filled with hope and perspective for every reader who longs to feel purpose in life.
The plot of Deadline was well written, and clearly portrayed Randy Alcorn's values, thoughts, and worldview. There was plenty of mystery, intrigue, and murder in the story. At times the story dragged along, especially when the story switches to heaven and the dialogue is slower and concentrates more on theology. However, the rest of the story is quite interesting and the last fourth of the novel flies by with action, intrigue, and near death experiences.
The main character, Jake Woods is quite the complex character. He is a liberal, outspoken journalist who is not afraid to speak ill of and misquote conservative positions and ideals. However, as Jake works to uncover the cause of a terrible accident with police detective Ollie Chandler, he begins to understand the problem with his viewpoint and its result on healthcare, organ transplants, abortions, sexual activity in teens, family interactions, and journalism. Jake realizes some of the truth at a very terrible cost to his own family and friends. The other minor characters, such as Finney and his family, were important in revealing the truth about morality and Christ to Jake as he struggled with the present state of American culture and journalism.
The themes of Deadline were clear and very accurate with regards to our current culture's ideals. The results of the lack of morality and the idea of "accept all worldviews except the Christian view" in our healthcare system and journalism were startling and quite scary. I could certainly see our culture sliding into the despicable practices that were mentioned in this novel. I loved the view of heaven that Alcorn portrayed, and his idea of hell was quite scary. The scenes in heaven were beautiful, and I enjoyed learning more about the relationship between one of the characters and his guardian angel. Overall I really enjoyed reading this novel.
When two senseless killings hit close to home, columnist Clarence Abernathy seeks revenge for the murders--and, ultimately, answers to his own struggles regarding race and faith. After being dragged into the world of inner-city gangs and racial conflict, Clarence is encouraged by fellow columnist Jake Woods to forge an unlikely partnership with the redneck homicide detective, Ollie Chandler. Soon the two find themselves facing dark forces, while unseen eyes watch from above. This novel spins off from Deadline and offers a fascinating glimpse inside heaven. Filled with insight--and with characters so real you'll never forget them--Dominion is a dramatic story of spiritual searching, racial reconciliation, and hope.
Dominion was a very convicting and intriguing novel. The plot line was filled with mystery, suspense, and the tensions that still exist between those who are white and black. I found that the storyline moved a lot faster than Deadline, and I liked that while there still beautiful glimpses of heaven, these sections were far shorter and therefore easier to take in and enjoy.
The characters of Dominion were realistic and struggled with many issues that are seen in today's society. I liked that the characters from Deadline, such as Jake Wood, were still part of the story and that the reader was able to keep up with what was going on in their lives. Clarence Abernathy, was first introduced to the readers in Deadline, but he is the main character in Dominion, and it is convicting to see that a man who seemed so put together and devoted to God is actually struggling a lot with feelings of being racially discriminated against and with his faith. The other minor characters, such Ollie Chandler, added to the background of the story, the humor, and helped add to Clarence's character. The changes that occurred in his character during the story were very encouraging, and I was very convicted by many of the prejudices that I found from the story that I have too. Overall, I enjoyed the novel a lot, and I found it very interesting and convicting.
Homicide detective Ollie Chandler has seen it all. Done more than he cares to admit. But when he's called to investigate the murder of a Portland State University professor, he finds himself going places he's never gone before. Places he never wanted to go. Because all the evidence is pointing to one, horrific conclusion: The murderer is someone in his own department. That's not the worst of it, though. Ollie has nagging doubts...about himself. Where was he during the time of the murder? Joined by journalist Clarence Abernathy and their friend Jake Woods, Ollie pushes the investigation forward. Soon all three are drawn deep into corruption and political tensions that threaten to destroy them--and anyone who tries to help. But they're in too deep to quit. They've got no choice. They have to follow the evidence to the truth...No matter how ugly--or dangerous--it gets.
Deception was an exciting novel that really brought all of the characters from the previous two novels together in a fantastic conclusion. The storyline was filled with danger, mystery, suspense, and struggles with life and faith. The characters, Clarence, Jake, and Ollie, were all very realistic and grew even more in their friendships with each other and their relationship with God during this novel. Overall, I found this to be an excellent and very inspiring read. I would highly recommend the entire Ollie Chandler collection to readers who are looking for a storyline that is both deep and convicting as well as spell-binding and filled with suspense.
I received this eBook for free in exchange for an honest review from Waterbrook Multnomah Press.
Thursday, March 28, 2013
Read the first chapter here
Emma Smallwood, determined to help her widowed father when his boarding school fails, accompanies him to the cliff-top manor of a baronet and his four sons. But soon after they arrive and begin teaching the two younger boys, mysterious things begin to happen. Who does Emma hear playing the pianoforte at night, only to find the music room empty? And who begins sneaking into her bedchamber, leaving behind strange mementos?
The baronet's older sons, Phillip and Henry Weston, wrestle with problems--and secrets--of their own. They both remember the studious Miss Smallwood from their days at her father's academy. But now one of them finds himself unexpectedly drawn to her...
When suspicious acts escalate, can Emma figure out which brother to blame and which to trust with her heart?
Filled with page-turning suspense, The Tutor's Daughter takes readers to the windswept Cornwall coast--a place infamous for shipwrecks and superstitions--where danger lurks, faith is tested, and romance awaits.
The Tutor's Daughter by Julie Klassen was a wonderful novel that reminded me of the dialogue and secrets of Jane Austen's Northhanger Abbey, the forbidden romance and suspense of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, and as well as displays its own wonderful storyline, characters, and setting. The plot line of The Tutor's Daughter was very interesting and quick paced, and it was filled with instances of mystery, danger, humor, kindness, and romance. One of the least predictable romances that I have ever read, I was drawn into the story from the very beginning and I could not bear to put this novel down at any time. The mystery and suspense in The Tutor's Daughter is spectacular, as every member of the Weston family, from the stepmother to all of the Weston sons to even the young ward Lizzie have very surprising secrets that they are withholding. The narration of this novel alternates mostly between the perspective of Emma and Henry, with a few sections being told more from Phillip's point of view. The setting of this novel was beautiful, with an old manor sequestered in the hills against a harsh and dangerous coastline. The setting was also used to beautifully add to the mood throughout the novel as tensions arose and unknown dangers were revealed.
The characters of The Tutor's Daughter were also very realistic and well written. Emma was an excellent character that I felt an immediate bond to. She is quiet, loves books, is kind to others, and is hesitant to accept change from what she knows and loves. She is a good teacher, and she is not afraid to confront others when they are acting wrongly. However, as a result of her mother's death, she has strayed away from God and seeking to live her life without Him. Henry and Phillip both have secrets that reveal them to be very different from what they seem. From her time with them when they were young pupils at her father's school, Emma remembers Phillip as a kind and loyal friend and Henry as a rude, angry, and hurtful young man. However, as Emma is reunited with both young men, she slowly begins to re-evaluate her views of their unique characters. Henry is by far my favorite character. He is filled with surprises and even some of his reprehensible acts from his childhood are shown to not be what they seem. I wish I could explain more of what I loved and admired about Henry, but unfortunately it would be too much of a spoiler to do so. The other minor characters of the ward Lizzy Henshaw, the younger Weston twin brothers, Julian and Rowan, and the evasive red-haired man who never stays away, are all intriguing and add to the overall suspense and breadth of the story.
Overall, I really enjoyed The Tutor's Daughter by Julie Klassen. The plot was fantastic, the characters engaging and realistic, the setting beautiful, and the spiritual message at the end was inspiring and convicting. This was my first novel of Julie Klassen that I have read, and I cannot wait to read more!
I received this novel for free from the Baker Division of Bethany House Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
Friday, March 22, 2013
Read the first chapter here.
All eyes are on the Middle East. Israel has successfully launched a first strike on Iran, taking out all of their nuclear sites and six of their nuclear warheads—and causing The Twelfth Imam to order a full-scale retaliation. US President William Jackson threatens to support a UN Security Council resolution condemning the Jewish State for unprovoked and unwarranted acts of aggression.
Meanwhile, CIA operative David Shirazi has infiltrated the Iranian regime and intercepted information indicating that two Iranian nuclear warheads survived the attack and have been moved to a secure and undisclosed location. In danger not only from the ongoing missile strikes on Iran but also from the increasingly hostile and suspicious governments of multiple countries, David and his team are in a race against time to find the remaining nuclear warheads before disaster strikes.
The Damascus Countdown by Joel C. Rosenberg is the third novel in the Twelfth Imam series following the Twelfth Imam and the Tehran Initiative novels, and this book is a smashing ending to this series. The Damascus Countdown is filled with international tension, mind blowing suspense, staggering sadness, and is action packed to the end. This novel could have been pulled from today's headlines as confrontations arise between Iran and Israel and as Syria becomes more embroiled in civil war and nuclear intrigue, just as is seen in the Damascus Countdown. The plot line moves quickly in most parts as the action and intrigue increases and then slower in others as Scriptures and Biblical prophecies are explained in light of current events. I found the alternation between action and explanation to be interesting and to increase the suspense exponentially.
The characters of the Damascus Countdown were realistic and were developed well. More is learned about David Shirazi and his journey into a better understanding of faith in this novel, and he even has opportunities to share his beliefs with others in critical situations. The other supporting characters also became more developed and played a bigger role in the story's progress. David's friend from his childhood had more of a role in this novel, and it was interesting to see her side of the story as well while the plot progressed.
Overall, I really enjoyed the Damascus Countdown because of its intensity and realistic nature. While it is not necessary to read the other two novels first, the Damascus Countdown is certainly a thrilling ending and climax to the entire Twelfth Imam series.
I received this novel from Tyndale House Press in exchange for an honest review.
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Read the first few chapters Here.
This is the story of one of the most courageous, radically obedient people we know.
Tracy Evans, a physician assistant, has treated rebel guerrillas while captive on an Asian island. She's sipped tea in a Mozambican hut while bullets whistled through the grass walls. She's cared for 900 HIV-positive orphans.
In these pages you will find not only gripping, un-embellished true stories of Tracy's exploits around the globe, but the more amazing account of what God can do with--and through--one person's raw faith and obedience.
Outrageous Courage by Kris and Jason Vallottan tells the amazing story of God's work in the life of Tracy Evans and how she in turn uses her life to spread the Gospel and God's love to unreached people. This book covers the life of Tracy from her perspective after the introductory chapter where Kris relates to the reader when he met Tracy. The next chapter tells of an event in Tracy's later life when Tracy was in a dangerous situation in the Philippine islands. The rest of the book then follows a chronological path from Tracy's childhood to her current work in Africa with young orphans. Tracy had a rough childhood, but once she became a Christian, she never stopped speaking the Truth of the Gospel. I enjoyed and was convicted in Outrageous Courage as Tracy revealed the weaknesses that she had to work through as she grew to understand more of God's love and developed a deeper relationship with her Heavenly Father. I was inspired by the trust and faith she placed in Christ and the radical courage that God then gave her as she spoke the truth and ministered to others all over the world. I agreed with Tracy's views on the love of God and the Gospel. However, some of the smaller theological points that she made I found that I did not agree with her reasoning. These differences are only small denominational differences though and does not lessen overall truth of the Gospel that Tracy relates through her words and actions in this book. Overall, I found Outrageous Courage to be a very interesting, convicting, and powerful book of a woman who trusts God and lives her life to bring glory to God alone.
I received this book for free from Baker Publishers division of Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.