Thursday, July 25, 2013

Misery Loves Company by Rene Gutteridge

Read first chapter excerpt here
Don’t tell me it’s terrifying. Terrify me.Filled with grief, Jules Belleno rarely leaves the house since her husband Jason’s death while on duty as a police officer. Other than the reviews Jules writes on her blog, she has little contact with the outside world.

But one day when she ventures out to the local grocery store, Jules bumps into a fellow customer . . . and recognizes him as her favorite author, Patrick Reagan. Jules gushes and thoroughly embarrasses herself before Regan graciously talks with her.

And that’s the last thing she remembers—until she wakes up in a strange room with a splitting headache. She’s been kidnapped. And what she discovers will change everything she believed about her husband’s death . . . her career . . . and her faith.
Misery Loves Company by Rene Gutteridge was an excellent novel that was incredibly deep and realistic and left me almost literally gasping for breath as I reached its end and clawed my way out its storyline. As I sit down to write this review, it is an odd feeling because writing book reviews is what Jules in this novel does every day, and it is partly because of this activity that she finds herself in a hidden cabin, kidnapped by her favorite author, Patrick Reagan. An odd feeling indeed. Aside from that, I found Misery Loves Company to be a wonderful read that had a perfect mix of suspense, mystery, murder, revelation, and truth seeking. The plot line was spectacular, and I highly enjoyed the interactions between Patrick and Jules as Patrick taught the Jules the undercurrents of what lies within a true author and his novel, and Jules discovered the truth about Patrick, her husband, and what real faith in God is. The narration of the novel alternated between the perspective of Chris, Jules' husband's best friend and partner on the police force, who is bending every rule to try to find Jules and figure out how Jason died, and the perspective of Jules as she tries to understand what Patrick wants from her and why he has taken her captive. Both perspectives were necessary to the plot line of the novel, and they kept the reader informed about what was happening at the cabin and out in the rest of the world during the investigation to find Jules.  
The characters of Misery Loves Company were engaging, realistic, and well developed. I was surprised by the secrets that Patrick held, and I was enthralled as he demonstrated the art of writing to Jules and as he shared his deepest scars and troubles with her. Jules started out as a depressed, lonely, and shy young woman who had lost everything and had no faith, but as the novel progressed, she began to understand the truth about herself, her husband, and her Heavenly Father. Jules' father also experienced change throughout the story as he realized the effect that his lack of relationship with and his alcoholism had had on his daughter. Chris had his own journey of faith and finding the truth as he sought to find Jules and to understand the God that Jason had always talked about. Chris did not have nearly as much overall development as Jules and Patrick did, which I thought took away from his personality slightly, but I did understand that it would have been hard to have the two character scenarios completely balance as one was more central to the overall plot.
As a whole, however, I was blown away by the intricate storyline, realistic characters, and important topics that this novel contained. This novel was a wonderful mix of some of my favorite ingredients, and the final concoction was spectacular. I would highly recommend this novel to any reader that likes a suspenseful thriller that digs way beyond the surface of a normal thriller into the raw emotions and gritty details of real life. I look forward to reading more of Rene Gutteridge's novels.
I received this novel for free from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Anomaly by Krista Mcgee

Thalli has fifteen minutes and twenty-three seconds left to live. The toxic gas that will complete her annihilation is invading her bloodstream. But she is not afraid.

Decades before Thalli’s birth, the world ended in a nuclear war. But life went on deep underground, thanks to a handful of scientists known as The Ten. Since then, they have genetically engineered humans to be free from emotions in the hopes that war won’t threaten their lives again.

But Thalli was born with the ability to feel emotions and a sense of curiosity she can barely contain. She has survived so far thanks to her ability to hide those differences. But Thalli’s secret is discovered when she is overwhelmed by the emotion in an ancient piece of music.

She is quickly scheduled for annihilation, but her childhood friend, Berk, convinces The Ten to postpone her death and study her instead. While in the scientists’ Pod, Thalli and Berk form a dangerous alliance, one strictly forbidden by the constant surveillance in the pods.

As her life ticks away, she hears rumors of someone called the Designer—someone even more powerful than The Ten. What’s more, the parts of her that have always been an anomaly could in fact be part of a much larger plan. And the parts of her that she has always guarded could be the answer she’s been looking for all along.

Thalli must sort out what to believe and who she can trust, before her time runs out…

Anomaly by Krista Mcgee was gripping story that kept me hooked until the very last page. The story is not in Krista Mcgee's normal style, but it still has her typical realistic characters, sweet romantic undercurrents, and well written plot line. Starting in on this book I was not sure what to expect; however, the plot line quickly pulled me in with its unique setting, spectacular twists, and unexpected character and plot developments. The story was told from the perspective of Thalli, one of the only surviving humans that still has the ability to feel emotion. An anomaly. Thalli is a wonderfully complex character who struggles to understand what is going on around her and within her. She can play and feel beautiful music, and she wonders what it all means. John, the oldest human still alive, helps Thalli understand the existence of an ultimate Designer who designed her feelings and gave her life and true freedom and salvation. As Thalli learns to trust and feel, she is faced with many trials and heartaches as the Scientists work to eradicate her emotions...and possibly her. I loved Thalli's interactions with Berk; they were both sweet together and had to learn how to help one another survive. Berk is a wonderful character who begins to understand the importance of love, honesty, and trust in the great Designer as he spends more time trying to save Thalli and John. Overall, I found Anomaly to be quite different from Krista Mcgee's previous novels, but I enjoyed the uniqueness and the flavor the storyline and characters as well as their introduction to God and His saving love and Son. I look forward to reading the next novel in the series, and I would highly recommend Anomaly to any reader looking for a provoking read set in a futuristic world.

I received this book for free from and Thomas Nelson Press in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Jennifer by Dee Henderson

Read the first chapter excerpt here
It's a summer of change for Jennifer O'Malley.

The busy physician has a pediatrics practice in Dallas, Texas, and meeting and falling in love with surgeon Tom Peterson is adding a rich layer to her life. She's sorting out how to introduce Tom to her family--she's the youngest of seven--and thinking about marriage.

She's falling in love with Jesus too, and knows God is good. But that faith is about to be tested, and in a way she didn't expect. The results will soon transform her entire family.

Jennifer by Dee Henderson is a sweet little novella that tells the story of Jennifer O'Malley, the one O'Malley whose actions change the lives of her entire family. This novella is set before the O'Malley series that Dee Henderson wrote several years ago, and it sets the stage beautifully for the rest of the series. It tells the story of Jennifer, her blooming relationship with Tom, and her growth as a person and in faith as she learns more about God and His love for her. I enjoyed Jennifer's personality, and I admired her dedicated spirit as she helps and cares for her terminally ill patients with all of her love. She pours all of her life into making those children happy, and it really made me realize how a great doctor interacts with her patients. I also enjoyed Tom and Jennifer's interactions as they learned more about one another and were patient with each other's weaknesses. Overall, I found Jennifer by Dee Henderson to be a wonderful read that is both a great introduction to the O'Malley series for new readers and an awesome concluding novella for those who have fallen in love with Jennifer and the rest of the O'Malleys.

I received this novel for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Splitting Harriet by Tamara Leigh

Read first chapter excerpt here.
Once upon a time, I was a rebel. And I have the tattoo to prove it.

Then there was the spiked hair–the shade of which changed monthly–“colorful” language that can’t be found in your everyday sixteen-count crayon box, a pack-a-day habit, less-than-modest wardrobe, and an obsession with guitar-trashing, drum-bashing music.

Did I mention I’m also a preacher’s kid? That’s right. And like the prodigal son after whom I modeled myself, I finally saw the error of my ways and returned to the fold.

Today my life is all about “lead me not into temptation.” When I’m not serving as Women’s Ministry Director at my father’s church, I’m working at Gloria’s Morning Café. I even have worthy goals, like saving enough money to buy the café, keep my Jelly Belly habit under control, and to never again hurt the people I love. No more parties. No more unsavory activities. And no more motorcycles! You’d think I was finally on the right track.

But since my dad’s replacement hired a hotshot church consultant to revive our “dying” church, things aren’t working out as planned. And now this “consultant” says I’m in need of a little reviving myself. Just who does this Maddox McCray think he is anyway? With his curly hair that could use a good clipping, tattoo that he makes no attempt to hide, and black leather pants, the man is downright dangerous. In fact, all that’s missing is a motorcycle. Or so I thought… But if he thinks he’s going to take me for a ride on that 1298cc machine of his, he can think again. Harriet Bisset is a reformed woman, and she’s going to stay that way. Even if it kills me!

Splitting Harriet by Tamara Leigh was a novel that I found both entertaining and personally challenging. The novel centers around Harriet Bisset and her personal growth after she returned from a period of rebellion. She has to rebuild relationships she has broken in the past and to understand how to make proper choices and live under grace in the present. The plot line is interesting and has unexpected obstacles and events that the characters have to face. The characters are very realistic and struggle with tough choices that are easy for readers to identify with. I love the interactions and struggles that Harriet and Maddox have as they learn about each other and have to understand the each other's different views. Overall, I thought Splitting Harriet was a enjoyable and convicting novel.

I received this novel for free from Waterbrook Multnomah Press in exchange for an honest review,