Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Book Review: Deliver Us From Evil by Robin Caroll/4.5 Stars

About the book:

A beautiful, yet tough, woman working in a beautiful, yet tough, setting, Brannon Callahan is a search and rescue helicopter pilot for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Strong faith and a decorated history of service have kept her one step ahead of on-the-job dangers, but there’s no precedent for what’s about to happen. After a blizzard takes down a small plane carrying U.S. Marshal Roark Holland (already haunted by a recent tragedy), Brannon must save him in more ways than one and safeguard the donor heart he’s transporting to a government witness on the edge of death. Otherwise the largest child trafficking ring in history—with shocking links from Thailand to Tennessee—will slip further away into darkness along the Appalachian Trail.

My thoughts:

I always get a thrill when I feel like I've stumbled upon a real gem in the vast collection of Christian fiction.  With so many books available that I could spend my time reading, I always appreciate it when I come across one that I will recommend over and over again.  Let me tell ya....Deliver Us From Evil was such a book.  The suspense was top-notch, the action intense, and the romance.....oh, the romance (giddy smile) took my breath away. 

I have to admit, though, that the beginning of the book was a little slow.  I could sense that the heart-pounding action was within my grasp, but it took a little longer than I wanted for it to arrive.  Once it did, it was all downhill from there.  :o)  I literally had to make myself put it down at midnight so I could get some sleep!

I have no doubt that I will be reading more of Robin's books in the future, including the rest of this series.  There was a little teaser at the end that leads right into the next book in the series, Fear No Evil.  Brannon's close friend, Lincoln, was one of my favorite characters in the book, and I'm anxious to see what will happen to him next

So in case you're still wondering whether or not you should try Robin's books for yourself, let me end the suspense for you right now....  Yes!!!  You should!  You should go to the store right away (or Amazon, or CBD, or some other online bookstore) and get a copy for yourself right now!  :o)  You'll have it read in no time flat, I promise you!

4.5 Stars

Southern?  Yes, set in my home state of Tennessee.  :o)
Sass?  No

**Many thanks to B&H Publishing for providing a copy for review.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Book Review: Plain Wisdom by Cindy Woodsmall and Miriam Flaud/5 Stars

About the book:

Two friends from different worlds—one Old Order Amish, one Englischer—share the truths that bring them together.

Best-selling novelist Cindy Woodsmall might seem to have little in common with Miriam Flaud, a woman immersed in the culture of Old Order Amish. But with nine children and almost 60 years of marriage between them, Cindy and Miriam both have found the secrets to facing life with strength and grace. Whether enduring financial setbacks, celebrating new babies and times of prosperity, grieving the crushing losses in the deaths of family and friends, or facing disappointments with their respective communities—through it all they find guidance for each day by looking to God.
With poignant recollections, unexpected insights, and humorous tales, the two women welcome you into their unique friendship. You’ll also gain a rare glimpse into the traditions and ways of the Amish as Miriam recalls special occasions and shares family recipes throughout the book.

Plain Wisdom is a heartwarming celebration of God, womanhood, and the search for beauty that unites us all. So grab your cup and your quilt and settle in for a soul-comforting read with Plain Wisdom.

My thoughts:

Let me just say that I enjoyed this book way more than I ever expected to!  When I first started reading it, I would read a couple of pages here, a couple there, and I didn't invest a lot of time with it in the very beginning.  I finally decided to pick it up again a couple of days ago, and really allowed myself to enjoy it fully. 

Well....the rest was history!  In no time flat, it became nearly impossible to put down!  I soaked up each chapter, and the wisdom contained within.  Some chapters spoke to me more than others, and some had morsels of wisdom that I would go back and read again. 

Even though Miriam and Cindy are from two completely different worlds, they share how similar they really are.  Whether it was the daily tasks of being a mother, their commitments to their husbands, or their devotion to their friends, their goals were the same.  They've trusted God to lead and direct their lives, and let Him shine through them to bless others.

I think that anyone that reads this book will have something that speaks to them.  My moment came almost at the very end in the chapter called "Opportunity for the Taking."  Now, I have been a procrastinator all my life, and no, it's not something that I'm proud of.  I've missed deadlines, had to eat some crow on a few occasions where I didn't step up to the plate like I should have, and missed opportunities for all sorts of things that I would've enjoyed being a part of, whether it was a benefit to me or a benefit to someone else.  Well, this one little statement that Miriam made in this chapter brought it all into perspective for me--"One little deed done in time is worth more than a thousand good intentions."  I had to stop right there and say a little prayer that God would help me take action quicker on the things that are important, and to focus my time on things that are meaningful.

This book was such a blessing to me, and I have no doubt that it will be to so many people.  For folks that are fans of Amish fiction (like me), this book provides a handful of insights into the daily routines of the Amish.  It's a very quick read with short chapters, and there's even a few tasty recipes scattered throughout.  I hope you'll take the time to read Plain Wisdom, and I pray it will be a blessing to you as it was to me.

5 Stars

Southern? No
Sass?  No

**Many thanks to Waterbrook Multnomah for providing a copy for review through their Blogging for Books Program.  If you enjoyed my review, please visit this link to rate it (I'd really appreciate it!).

CFBA Blog Tour: False Pretenses by Kathy Herman

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
False Pretenses
David C. Cook (March 1, 2011)
Kathy Herman


Suspense novelist Kathy Herman is very much at home in the Christian book industry, having worked five years on staff at the Christian Booksellers Association (CBA) in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and eleven years at Better Books Christian Center in Tyler, Texas, as product buyer/manager for the children’s department, and eventually as director of human resources.
She has conducted numerous educational seminars on children’s books at CBA Conventions in the U.S. and Canada, served a preliminary judge for the Gold Medallion Book Awards of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association , and worked as an independent product/marketing consultant to the CBA market.
Since her first novel, Tested by Fire, debuted in 2001 as a CBA national bestseller, she's added sixteen more titles to her credit, including four bestsellers: All Things Hidden, The Real Enemy, The Last Word, and The Right Call.

Kathy's husband Paul is her manager and most ardent supporter, and the former manager of the LifeWay Christian Store in Tyler, Texas. They have three grown children, five almost-perfect grandchildren, a cat named Samantha. They enjoy cruising, deep sea fishing, and birdwatching—sometimes incorporating these hobbies into one big adventure.

Zoe Broussard loves the life she and her husband Pierce have built in her beloved Louisiana hometown. She owns a thriving Cajun eatery in South Louisiana and is married to the love of her life.

But it’s about to become hell. One day, out of the blue, she receives a series of anonymous notes that sends her life into a tail spin. Five simple words, “I know what you did.” Zoe has a secret so terrible it could leave the business in shambles and tear her marriage apart. Unbeknownst to anyone, even Zoe’s husband, Pierce, she has a past—a past she had covered so well she never thought she would have to confront. How could anyone know what she did? Can she find the courage to face her past?
If you would like to read the first chapter of False Pretenses, go HERE.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Book Review: Love Amid the Ashes by Mesu Andrews/4 Stars

About the book:

Readers often think of Job sitting on the ash heap, his life in shambles. But how did he get there? What was Job's life like before tragedy struck? What did he think as his world came crashing down around him? And what was life like after God restored his wealth, health, and family?

Through painstaking research and a writer's creative mind, Mesu Andrews weaves an emotional and stirring account of this well-known story told through the eyes of the women who loved him. Drawing together the account of Job with those of Esau's tribe and Jacob's daughter, Dinah, Love Amid the Ashes breathes life, romance, and passion into the classic biblical story of suffering and steadfast faith.

My thoughts:

Having been a fan of Biblical fiction for many years now, I was very intrigued to read a story about the life of Job.  Job's story in the Bible is not one that I've read very many times because frankly, it's a little sad and depressing, even though it does end well.  I have to say that the fictional retelling of Job's story in Love Amid the Ashes really has me wanting to crack open this book in my Bible to get a better appreciation of Job's trials.

I really appreciated the genealogy flow chart at the beginning of the book because without it, I don't know if I'd have ever been able to keep all the characters straight!  There are a LOT of characters mentioned at the very beginning of the story, and I admit that I was confused a number of times.  However, had all of those characters not been introduced, I wouldn't have gotten a full picture of the people involved in Job's life.

I was also very grateful for the author's note at the end of the book explaining how she developed the story.  I never would've thought of Jacob's daughter, Dinah, as being a part of Job's life at all, but thanks to the enormous research done by Ms. Andrews, it very likely may have been a reality.  Because of that, I doubt I will ever look at Job's story the same way again.

I highly recommend Love Amid the Ashes for those who enjoy Biblical fiction.  Ms. Andrews has challenged my thinking, and has encouraged me to thoroughly re-read the story of Job.  I can't wait to see what she has planned for her next novel because as a debut author, she's hit the ball out of the park with Love Amid the Ashes!  My rating is 4 stars.

Southern?  No
Sass?  No

**Many thanks to Revell for providing a copy for review.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

CFBA Blog Tour and Book Review: Vicious Cycle by Terri Blackstock/5 Stars

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Vicious Cycle
Zondervan (February 22, 2011)
Terri Blackstock


Terri Blackstock is a New York Times best-seller, with over six million copies sold worldwide. She has had over twenty-five years of success as a novelist. She sold her first novel at the age of twenty-five, and has had a successful career ever since.

Besides entertaining her readers, Terri tackles issues that she hopes will change lives. Her recent book, Predator, was inspired by her experiences on Facebook and Twitter, and her concern that people posted too much personal information about themselves. The book deals with an online predator who uses social networks as his playground. She hopes the book will change readers’ online habits.

Her New York Times best-seller, Intervention, was inspired by her own personal struggles with a daughter on drugs. In the book, a mother hires an interventionist for her drug-addicted daughter. But on the way to treatment, the interventionist is murdered, and the daughter disappears. Barbara, the mother, sets out to search for her daughter. Terri modeled Barbara after herself, and poured many of her own emotions and experiences into that character. As a result, many families experiencing drug addiction have written to thank her for telling their story and giving them hope. Vicious Cycle, Book Two of the Intervention Series, releases February 22, 2011. She’s currently working on Book Three.

Other recent books include a stand-alone novel called Double Minds, as well as Last Light, Night Light, True Light and Dawn’s Light (from her acclaimed Restoration Series). She is also known for her popular Newpointe 911 Series and Cape Refuge Series. Terri makes her home in Mississippi, where she and her husband Ken are enjoying their empty nest after raising three children.

Terri has appeared on national television programs such as “The 700 Club” and “Home Life,” and has been a guest on numerous radio programs across the country. The story of her personal journey appears in books such as Touched By the Savior by Mike Yorkey, True Stories of Answered Prayer by Mike Nappa, Faces of Faith by John Hanna, and I Saw Him In Your Eyes by Ace Collins.


When fifteen-year-old Lance Covington finds an abandoned baby in the backseat of a car, he knows she's the newborn daughter of a meth addict he's been trying to help. But when police arrest him for kidnapping, Lance is thrust into a criminal world of baby trafficking and drug abuse.

His mother, Barbara, looks for help from Kent Harlan---the man whom she secretly, reluctantly loves and who once helped rescue her daughter from a mess of her own. Kent flies to her aid and begins the impossible work of getting Lance out of trouble, protecting a baby who has no home, and finding help for a teenage mother hiding behind her lies.

In this latest novel of suspense and family loyalty, bestselling author Terri Blackstock offers a harrowing look at drug addiction, human trafficking, and the devastating choices that can change lives forever.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Vicious Cycle, go HERE.

Watch the Book Video:

My thoughts:

Since I first started reading Christian fiction, Terri Blackstock has always been one of my favorite authors.  I love the intensity in her novels, which causes me to furiously turn the pages.  She has begun a new series about the struggles of drug addiction, and she doesn't tone down that intensity one bit.

Vicious Cycle is a novel about a young girl, Jordan, who is caught up in a web of drug addiction.  Not only is she an addict, but her mother and half-brother are as well.  In the very first chapter, she is pregnant with a child and forced to have the baby in her own bed because her mother will not take her to the hospital.  Jordan does not understand that at first, but as the pieces fall into place throughout the book, Jordan's realizes she has a mother who does not care about anyone but herself.

Lance (featured in book one, Intervention) becomes friends with Jordan through school.  Because his sister is a recovering drug addict, he recognizes pretty quickly that Jordan is on the road to a bad life, not only for herself, but for the baby that she's carrying.  He convinces her to start treatment at a local rehab center, New Day.  Lance visits every weekend to see his sister while she's recovering, and seeing Jordan is an added bonus.  When Jordan voluntarily leaves New Day so close to her delivery date, he knows Jordan will return to her drug-infested home.  He takes it upon himself to drive over to her house to check on her, not realizing that he's about to be in the biggest trouble of his life.

Leave it to Terri Blackstock to create a novel that sucked me in from page one!!  Not only did I get a glimpse of the world of meth, I also got a small glimpse into the world of baby trafficking, and neither one was a pretty picture.  This book was so realistic, possibly more so than the book before it, Intervention.  I can't wait to see what's in store for Barbara, Kent, Emily, and Lance with the remainder of the books in this series.  Highly Recommended!!

5 Stars

Southern?  Yes, set in Missouri
Sass?  No

**Many thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for review through CFBA.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Book Review: Bathsheba by Jill Eileen Smith/5 Stars

About the book:

Bathsheba is a woman who longs for love. With her devout husband away fighting the king's wars for many months at a time, discontent and loneliness dog her steps—and make it frighteningly easy to succumb to King David's charm and attention. Though she immediately regrets her involvement with the powerful king, the pieces are set in motion that will destroy everything she holds dear. Can she find forgiveness at the feet of the Almighty? Or has her sin separated her from God—and David—forever?

With a historian's sharp eye for detail and a novelist's creative spirit, Jill Eileen Smith brings to life the passionate and emotional story of David's most famous—and infamous—wife. Smith uses her gentle hand to draw out the humanity in her characters, allowing readers to see themselves in the three-dimensional lives and minds of people who are often viewed in starkly moralistic terms. You will never read the story of David and Bathsheba in the same way again.

My thoughts:

Bathsheba, book three in the Wives of King David series, is the latest book by Jill Eileen Smith, and it doesn't disappoint at all!  While the story itself is not new to me, the delivery of the story is what makes this book so special.  I love the descriptions of David's palace, like the extravagance of the food and the elegance of his garments, which make the story come to life on the page.  I also love the emotion that is displayed in the love triangle which is Bathsheba, David, and Uriah, and Jill does not hold anything back! 

Jill Eileen Smith has seriously found her niche in writing Biblical fiction. I'm hard pressed to find anyone else at the top of their game in that genre as well as she is right now. She has such exceptional talent that explodes on every page with her emotional characters and words that breath new life into age-old Biblical stories.  I highly recommend Bathsheba for fans of Biblical fiction!

5 Stars

Southern?  No
Sass?  No

**Many thanks to Revell for providing a copy for review.

**Click here to read my review of book 2 in this series, Abigail.

Spring Reading Thing 2011

I just realized today that I have not signed up for a SINGLE reading challenge all year!  Well, there's no time like the present, and I seriously need a fire lit under me.

I've decided to sign up for the Spring Reading Thing 2011 that's being hosted by Calapidder Days. I've got a stack of review books that I need to get working on, so that's what will be making up the majority of my list.

Christian Fiction

Love Amid the Ashes by Mesu Andrews--3/25/2011
Scattered Petals by Amanda Cabot--4/10/2011
The Inheritance of Beauty by Nicole Seitz--4/6/2011
Disaster Status by Candace Calvert
A Case for Love by Kaye Dacus
Deliver Us From Evil by Robin Caroll--3/29/2011
Plain Proposal by Beth Wiseman--5/8/2011
Amish Love by Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller, and Kelly Long

Christian YA Fiction

Finding Hollywood Nobody by Lisa Samson--5/31/2011

Christian Non-Fiction

Plain Wisdom by Cindy Woodsmall and Miriam Flaud--3/28/2011

Thursday, March 17, 2011

CFBA Blog Tour: The Caregiver by Shelley Shepard Gray

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Caregiver
Avon Inspire; Original edition (March 8, 2011)
Shelley Shepard Gray


Shelley Shepard Gray is the beloved author of the Sisters of the Heart series, including Hidden, Wanted, and Forgiven. Before writing, she was a teacher in both Texas and Colorado. She now writes full time and lives in southern Ohio with her husband and two children. When not writing, Shelley volunteers at church, reads, and enjoys walking her miniature dachshund on her town's scenic bike trail.


Two lives converge one stormy night on a train headed to Cleveland

Lucy is traveling by herself via train to Jacob's Crossing to help care for her cousin Mattie, recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Trying to overcome the sudden death of her husband, she's glad to get away and focus on someone else for a while.

The only other Amish people on the train are Calvin Weaver and his little sister, Katie. When their train breaks down outside of Cleveland, Calvin and Lucy band together to face the outside world. But Calvin also carries the weight of past hurts. When an altercation brings both their wounds to light, they question whether they can trust each other.

Once in Jacob's Crossing, Lucy is occupied with caring for Mattie, while Calvin does his best to run his family's farm. But they can't stop thinking about those special hours spent together. Will the bond they formed last? And will Lucy and Calvin be able to put away the pain in their pasts to recognize the happiness that is suddenly in their grasp?

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Caregiver, go HERE.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Book Review: The Anonymous Bride by Vickie McDonough/4.5 Stars

About the book:

Check yourself into the Texas Boardinghouse Brides series by Vickie McDonough, where you'll meet Luke Davis, marshal of Lookout, Texas, who flippantly tells his cousin he'd get married if the right woman ever came along. When three mail-order brides are delivered to Luke a month later, he's in an uncomfortable predicament. How will he ever choose his mate?

Rachel Hamilton's long-time love for Luke is reignited with his return to town. So when three mail-order brides appear, she panics. Will she find the courage to tell Luke that she loves him? Or take an anonymous part in the contest for his hand?

My thoughts:

Discovering new authors can really be a mixed bag of surprises for a reader. I've had experiences where I wonder what took me so long to get around to them, and I've had other experiences where I wished I could've used my time differently.  No worries....Vickie McDonough fits perfectly into the first category.  :o)

Vickie's western style of writing was very reminiscent of Mary Connealy and Lori Copeland, except it was deeper.  I loved that I got to really invest myself in the emotions of each character.  Luke--who initially had a heart filled with unforgiveness--slowly allowed his heart to soften.  Rachel--who scorned Luke many years ago--longed to admit that she'd made a terrible mistake.  And Jacqueline--better known as "Jack"--was a feisty tomboy that just wanted her ma to marry Luke.

But setting up Luke and Rachel wasn't as easy as a couple of cousins thought it would be!  Luke's cousins took it upon themselves to find a mail-order bride for Luke.  What they didn't count on was that instead of one girl being interested in Luke...there were three!  And what made things even crazier...poor Luke didn't have a clue what he was about to be in for--a pushy mayor, a nosy journalist, and three women vying for his hand in marriage!  If that's not a recipe for a great story, I don't know what is!

I'm so happy to add Vickie to my list of highly recommended authors, and it comes after reading just one book.  I have a feeling that the tiny town of Lookout, Texas has a few more surprises up it's sleeve before the series concludes.  My rating for The Anonymous Bride is 4.5 Stars.

Southern?  No
Sass?  Most all the women in this book have a good dose of it.  :o)

**Many thanks to Barbour Books for providing a copy for review.