Saturday, June 16, 2018

Review of "Falling for You" by Becky Wade

So here's what I've decided: I seriously hate it when I learn that Becky Wade has a book coming out, and then when I get it, I dread starting it, because I know once I start reading #thatmeansitwillbeoverWAYTOOSOON. It won't last forever and I won't be able to put it down and I will be sad when there is no more of this Becky Wade book to read! This series is especially a favorite so far, so you can see how even CHECKING TO SEE WHEN HER NEXT BOOK COMES OUT IS A CONUNDRUM.

Forgive my run on sentences and blog yelling, but I'm sure you get the point. However, let's get to the review:

The second in the Bradford Sisters series, in this installment we learn primarily about oldest sister Willow. Willow is a well known model who is taking a break to run her parent's B&B while they are on a mission trip. She was introduced in the first book, "True to You", where she saw her former boyfriend at a party - and it did not go well. Willow has always been the obedient one; she has a good heart and may have a slight housewares shopping problem, and no one gets her riled up like Corbin. And although Willow really loves Jesus, she may be harboring some unforgiveness in her heart towards Corbin.

Corbin Stewart is a former NFL Quarterback (he was a really good one, but was forced to retire due to a career ending injury). He is in the area to recover and is also remodeling his house. Corbin has never forgotten Willow, and when his niece Charlotte asks for his and Willow's help to solve a family mystery - let's just say Corbin would love nothing more than to have lots of reasons to see Willow.

The author slowly reveals the reasons for their breakup, and also includes a great substory with fans and the family mystery. She does not use any "typical" ways to bring them into each other's space, and I found the choices intelligent and well executed. The supporting characters are clever and fun, and all of them make sense with the overall story and series. I also loved the author's use of newspaper articles, text conversations, emails, phone transcripts - in some of the chapters; she has truly mastered context as she paints the picture of this story. I really did have a hard time putting it down, I definitely laughed out loud multiple times, and there were some IT was intriguing and thought provoking and fun and frustrating all at once.

In case you haven't figured it out yet I am wholeheartedly recommending this book. Hey, I flat out recommend anything by Becky Wade. I will also say that if you have not yet read "Then Came You" (novella) - essentially a prequel ebook, and last I checked it was free on Amazon - as well as the first book, "True to You" I would start there. Although this could probably be read alone, you will have much greater context and enjoyment if you start from the beginning.

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Review of "Just Let Go" by Courtney Walsh

I was eagerly waiting for this book to come out, and I was definitely not disappointed. Besides being a great story, this novel shares a valuable lesson about how one can grow in forgiveness - even when the person who harmed you isn't even sorry.

Perfectionist Quinn Collins has just become the proud owner of the local floral shop (that her estranged mother used to own). She's sure that making it a success combined with winning a big floral design competition will be the key to finally winning her mom's approval - or even acknowledgement  - once and for all. The shop needs renovating, which leads her to connect with....

….Olympic Skier Grady Benson. Grady thinks he is just passing through the quaint town of Harbor Pointe for some food, but when he gets into a fight (one of many in his life) part of the consequences include community service, to be served right there in Harbor Pointe. This presents a huge problem for Grady: he has been in a pretty rough patch but is determined to make it on this years' Olympic team. By the time he is done in Harbor Pointe, there will only be one race left. And if he can't win there and make his comeback, then who is he really?

Both Quinn and Grady are hurting deeply, albeit in different ways. They are complete opposites, yet complement each other beautifully. If they can just get past some misunderstandings and take a chance ("let go")...will they make something beautiful together?

I was provided a free copy of this book by Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Review of "Blind Betrayal" by Nancy Mehl

This is the third book in the author's "Defenders of Justice" series; although there are some crossover characters from both of the other books somewhat casually mentioned throughout, this can easily be read as a stand alone book.

US Marshal Casey Sloane's latest assignment is to escort a local newspaper report to testify in a trial in Washington DC. She and her team are joined by Marshal EJ Queen from the DC office - and Casey used to work with him.

EJ Queen has always admired Casey and may have even had some interest in her, but she was dating his friend. (The relationship was not what he thought it was and once he learns the truth, things begin to make much more sense). The team is quickly thrown off course when their local office is bombed, and they are now on their own with the witness - no backup, no plane tickets, no safety net. Having to think and plan on the fly, with danger coming at them from every turn (there were quite a few "we're safe, no we're not" moments), will the witness make it to testify? How far will their enemy go to stop them? Who even is the enemy?

Another action packed installment in this strong offering from Nancy Mehl! I was provided a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Review of "The Hidden Side" by Heidi Chiavaroli

Continuing in the format of split time (1776 and 2016) as she did in her first book (Freedom's Ring), Author Heidi Chiavaroli has excelled at the "contrast and compare" between people then vs. now - things may be different these days, but life still has it's challenging similarities. Both stories are set in the same general location in New York.

Our 1776 timeline follows Mercy Howard, a young woman in love with a man who was martyred for the cause. She truly wants her life to count for something she believes in, but how can she do it with all of the danger and mystery that surrounds her?

The 2016 story follows the family of Natalie Abbott - married, three kids (although one died as a child - we know it happened, but the timing and the how are not fully explained until closer to the end) and they now live as a family of four. The two teens are boy and girl twins, Chris and Maelynn (16). Natalie is a radio personality (think K-LOVE morning show) and her husband is a police officer. They have had some rough roads in life, but absolutely nothing could prepare them for what they are about to face.

Frankly, this was a tough read. Worth it, but hard. No spoilers here, but the uncanny timeliness of the topic that is written about here was a true challenge to get through. The characters are authentic, the storyline compelling, and this well written book is certainly worth your investment of time and money. Pick it up today!

I was provided a free copy of this book by Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Cover: The Hidden Side

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Review of "A Most Noble Heir" by Susan Anne Mason

Set in England in the late 1800's, Nolan Price learns from his dying mother that they have both been working for his father, the Earl of Stainsby, for the last number of years (she is the housekeeper, he is the stable hand). Not only is this a serious shock, but it immediately affects his plans to purchase a farm and marry his longtime love, Hannah. Hannah is a kitchen maid in Lord Stainsby's household, and she has loved Nolan practically from their first meeting when they were young teenagers.

Lord Stainsby never knew he had a son - he was told the child died with the mother at birth, and for years has mourned their loss. However, in the years to follow the Earl has now become a grumpy man. Although not cruel, he can't be described as kind, thoughtful, or flexible. Due to all of the rules that constrained English aristocracy at that time, Lord Stainsby is not at all ok with his newly discovered heir marrying the kitchen maid. He is determined that his son will marry within his station, and his heart has been hardened by his past experiences in love.

There is a lot of back and forth about this love match - and IMO the main character's choices seem to lack consistency rather than demonstrate character development. I had a hard time with their "thought processes" and found the friction and conflict annoying, rather than compelling. One question I found myself asking repeatedly was, "If these two (Nolan and Hannah) have supposedly loved each other for all of these years, why the doubts? Why all the questioning and back and forth on their convictions - is there any trust?!?" It just didn't seem solid or believable.

Overall, this book was acceptable; I just can't truthfully say that I loved it. There are some very fun supporting characters, but the main characters rarely ceased to be irritating to me. Again - an opinion - you should certainly check it out for yourself! This book was provided to me by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Review of "The Kremlin Conspiracy" by Joel C. Rosenberg

In the opener of this new series from Mr. Rosenberg, he first peeks back at 1999 where the stage was being set for later potentially cataclysmic world events: the crowning of the new Russian President Aleksandr Luganov, the political rise of his future son-in-law lawyer Oleg Kraskin, and the back story of soon-to-be hero, Marcus Ryker.

Broken into seven "parts", we go back and forth between the point of view of not only our main characters, but also some short lived ones. It is an interesting way the author has chosen to paint the picture overall, and I really enjoyed this style of writing.

I'm finding it a little challenging to properly describe/review this book! There are many twists and turns that, if described, will completely spoil the many surprise elements in the book that the author has done so well.

I can say, the characters are compelling, the story line is believable and timely, and this book is of course, very well written. It also won't hurt to let you know that Lawyer Oleg becomes the Russian's President's right hand man and trusted confidant; Marcus becomes a Marine and eventually joins the Secret Service; and lots of people die. :/  I am eagerly awaiting the next installment of this story! Highly recommended!

I was provided a copy of this book by Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Review of "The Masterpiece" by Francine Rivers

It's been a while since I've read a book by Francine Rivers, and I forgot just how epic (and epically great!) her books are! "The Masterpiece" is no exception.

Single mom Grace Moore is laser focused on bettering her life and situation. Initially thinking she would put her son up for adoption, she finds that she cannot, but continues to live with the family who was going to adopt her baby. The mother of that family is becoming far too attached, but Grace doesn't see a way to fully be on her own yet. She is sent by a temp agency to be the new personal assistant of temperamental artist Roman Velasco. He immediately realizes how special Grace is; although she recognizes his appeal, she immediately realizes he is likely dangerous to her fragile emotions and convictions, and she agrees to work for him with some serious boundaries.

Both Grace and Roman have a multi-layered past, and it continues to affect them deeply, sometimes with more far reaching consequences than they realize. Although they have made serious errors in judgment and have some deep secrets, Grace and Roman desperately want to be known and emotionally whole.

The author reveals the main characters' backstories in waves, and does so in a way that is engaging without it becoming a gimmick or perpetually frustrating the (this) reader. There were surprises, some twists and turns I didn't initially see coming; but that in hindsight made perfect sense for the story. This book was excellent - engaging, interesting, and I am delighted to strong recommend it.

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.