Category: Book Recommendation

Book Recommendation | Ghost Heart by Lisa Harris and Lynne Gentry

Amazon Description


A brilliant transplant surgeon. A rogue organ broker. A ghost child.
And the legend that could destroy them all.

A brutal murder convinces surgeon Mia Kendall there’s more than she imagined to the mysterious spike in heart transplant rejections. Determined to find answers before she loses another patient, Mia gets sucked into a dangerous international medical web. With time running out for her youngest transplant recipient, Mia is forced to partner with a disillusioned ex-military pilot who flies brokered organs across East Africa. But searching for the truth will prove costly for the unlikely duo racing to stop a madman before he annihilates a rare and cursed bloodline.

From best-selling author Lisa Harris and award-winning author Lynne Gentry comes a chilling, hypnotic medical thriller that will take you from the suburbs of Cincinnati to the jungles of Africa.

My Review

Ghost Heart is medical thriller. I have a love-hate relationship with medical thrillers. I love it because I love the suspense aspects. I hate it because it highlights the inequalities in medical profession both within countries like America, and globally. A million dollars for a heart transplant? The mind boggles.Yes, there is some blood and gore (gore = anything that can’t be fixed with an Elastoplast. There are some good reasons why I didn’t go into a medical profession). The worst of it is actually in the Prologue, so if you read the sample and are afraid it’s going to get worse, don’t worry. It doesn’t.

Kelsey Taylor is five years old, and needs a heart transplant stop urgently. Her mother, Catherine, is prepared to do anything to save her daughter. Even going to Africa to for a heart transplant. The only way she save her daughter is to ask her father for help—which could destroy her relationship with her husband.

Mia Kendall is a heart surgeon in the public hospital in Tanzania. She finds her heart transplant patients are dying. But the transplant patients from the nearby private hospital not. She’s suspicious. What is happening? Is there a problem with her surgical methods? Her post-operative care? Or is there a problem with the transplant organs?

Jeme is a Tanzanian wife and mother. Her husband has recently had a heart transplant, but he’s sick again. And she’s trying to protect her daughter—an albino, at risk of being kidnapped and murdered by hunters for her white skin and blue eyes. Unfortunately, this part of the story is based on fact. Albinos are considered cursed, yet at that same time, their body parts are considered good luck charms.

Ghost Heart focuses on the people who are trying to save lives. Catherine and Jeme, trying to save the lives of their daughters from two very different threats. Mia, trying to save her patients, and to make up for one mistake long ago. Organ transplant pilot Race Daniels, trying to save lives to make up for the two he couldn’t save.

It also highlights the tragedy of our modern medical system, and the way it favours the haves over the have-nots. Those who have insurance or money or who live in a country with a good public health system vs. those who don’t. The tragedy of transplants—the fact one person has to die in order for another to receive a new heart. The tragedy of greed—that where money is involved, someone will find a way to get rich at the expense of others.

The novel is suspense from start to finish, with several unexpected twists. Don’t do what I did and start it when you should be going to bed! Recommended for all medical suspense lovers.

Thanks to the authors for providing a free ebook for review.

This review originally appeared at Suspense Sisters Reviews.

Just Look Up

Book Recommendation | Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh

I requested a review copy of Just Look Up because I’d heard so many good things about it. Surely it couldn’t possibly measure up?

It did.

Lane is an interior designer up for a big promotion at work when her mother calls to say her brother is on life support following a motorcycle accident. She returns home, but is immediately thrown into conflict with everyone in her family (except perhaps her father, who only gets about two lines in the whole novel). The reasons behind this conflict are gradually revealed as the novel progresses

Ryan was also in the motorcycle accident, but escaped with minor injuries. He’s from a bad background, but he’s made something of himself—with the help of the Kelley family, who were surrogate parents for him and his sister throughout his teenage years. He’s always had feelings for Lane, but never felt good enough for her. Now he meets the adult Lane, he realises she has issues, and he might be able to help.

Just Look Up was a great title that worked on many levels.

There was the obvious, that we have to look up to see the world around us, to live. Lane spent much of time looking down at her phone that she missed what was going on around her. And the more subtle, the way Lane consciously or subconsciously looked down on herself.

It seemed to me that looking down was a habit formed early in her teenage years, where she looked down because of her low self-esteem. I could relate to this—and I suspect many grown women can, especially those of us who were bookish teenagers who were never part of the ‘cool’ crowd.

To me, Just Look Up showed the lie that many of us believe in our teenage years.

The lie that we don’t fit in because aren’t good enough. Lane was different to the others in her family—lactose intolerant in a family that made and sold cheese for a living, unattractive and unpopular (or so she thought) in a family that were attractive and popular.

What especially hurt for Lane was that her family perpetuated the lie through their ‘harmless’ name calling (‘Pudge’ is not term of endearment. Ever). The result, I think, was a teenager and adult who never understood how precious she was to God, because she never felt she was precious to her family.

Overall, Just Look Up is a story about how achieving our dreams might not be everything we thought it might be, but the answer might have been in front of us all along.

Recommended.

Thanks to Tyndale Books and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About the Book

After tirelessly climbing the ranks of her Chicago-based interior design firm, Lane Kelley is about to land her dream promotion when devastating news about her brother draws her back home—a quaint tourist town full of memories she’d just as soon forget. With her cell phone and laptop always within reach, Lane aims to check on her brother while staying focused on work—something her eclectic family doesn’t understand.

Ryan Brooks never expected to settle down in Harbor Pointe, Michigan, but after his final tour of duty, it was the only place that felt like home. Now knee-deep in a renovation project that could boost tourism for the struggling town, he is thrilled to see Lane, the girl he secretly once loved, even if the circumstances of her homecoming aren’t ideal.

Their reunion gets off to a rocky start, however, when Ryan can’t find a trace of the girl he once knew in the woman she is today. As he slowly chips away at the walls Lane has built, secrets from his past collide with a terrible truth even he is reluctant to believe. Facing a crossroads that could define his future with Lane and jeopardize his relationship with the surrogate family he’s found in the Kelleys, Ryan hopes Lane can see that maybe what really matters has been right in front of her all along—if only she’d just look up.

About the Author

Courtney WalshCourtney Walsh is a novelist, artist, theater director, and playwright. Change of Heart is her fifth novel and is set in the same town as Paper Hearts. Her debut novel, A Sweethaven Summer, hit the New York Times and USA Today e-book bestseller lists and was a Carol Award finalist in the debut author category. She has written two additional books in the Sweethaven series, as well as two craft books and several full-length musicals. Courtney lives in Illinois where she and her husband own a performing and visual arts studio. They have three children.

Find Courtney Walsh online at …

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Click below to buy Just Look Up:

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Kobo

You can read the introduction to Just Look Up below:

Book Recommendation | The Long Journey to Jake Palmer by James L Rubart

It’s Throwback Thursday, which means it’s time to repost one of my older reviews.

This week it’s The Long Journey to Jake Palmer by James L Rubart, which is a finalist in the 2017 ACFW Carol Awards in the Speculative category.

This review was first published at Iola’s Christian Reads on 25 August 2016.

Amazon Description

What if there was a place where everything wrong in your life could be fixed?

Corporate trainer Jake Palmer coaches people to see deeper into themselves—yet he barely knows himself anymore. Recently divorced and weary of the business life, Jake reluctantly agrees to a lake-house vacation with friends, hoping to escape for ten days.

When he arrives, Jake hears the legend of Willow Lake—about a lost corridor that leads to a place where one’s deepest longings will be fulfilled.

Jake scoffs at the idea, but can’t shake a sliver of hope that the corridor is real. And when he meets a man who mutters cryptic speculations about the corridor, Jake is determined to find the path, find himself, and fix his crumbling life.

But the journey will become more treacherous with each step Jake takes.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | ChristianBook | Goodreads

My Review

Jake Palmer is a management trainer who makes a living encouraging others to read what’s on their label rather than believing lies about themselves. But following a horrific incident, he finds himself on a journey to read his own label—to believe the truth about himself instead of the lies he’s been fed by the people he loved most, to the point he’s forgotten who he was.

The Long Journey to Jake Palmer is excellent.

Excellent writing, excellent characters, excellent plot, and an excellent message about learning and believing the truth about ourselves, not the lie. It’s a novel of spiritual and emotional healing, subtly making the excellent point that the physical healing so many people search for is secondary to spiritual healing.

The metaphor (and I truly can’t believe I’m writing that in a book review!) of forgetting who we are is apt: I read an article yesterday which said most five-year-olds have creativity at near-genius levels. But we lose that as we get older until we become merely average. It’s the same message as Rubart shares with Jake Palmer’s story: we forget who we are, and we need to rediscover ourselves.

This is easily one of the best books I’ve read this year.

Recommended—although at over $10 for the ebook, you might want to treat yourself to the paperback.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About the Author

James RubartJames L. Rubart is a professional marketer, speaker, and writer. He serves on the board of the Northwest Christian Writers Association and lives with his wife and sons in the Pacific Northwest.

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Read the Introduction

Quote from A Name Unknown by Roseanna M White

Book Recommendation | A Name Unknown by Roseanna M White

I’m always in two minds about Christian novels that have one character who, let’s say, has issues with honesty. It’s a basic tenet of the Christian faith, so an author who chooses such a character is often starting off on the wrong foot.

I’m also in two minds about novels in which one of the main characters is a novelist—it seems to break the fourth wall, as well as being a somewhat cliché application of the writing principle, to ‘write what you know’. But A Name Unknown quickly overcame both these possible issues.

Rosemary Gresham is a needs-must thief who has survived on the streets since she was orphaned at the age of eight.

She’s now built up a ‘family’ of misfit orphans who rely on her to provide for them, Robin Hood-style. Her latest assignment, from the mysterious Mr V, is to infiltrate the Cornwall home of Mr Peter Holstein and prove he is not the loyal Englishman he pretends to be. This is important, as England is on the cusp of war with Germany, what we know as World War One.

Peter Holstein might be German by birth and by heritage, but he’s as English as the King when it comes to his loyalties. If only he could prove it. He knows the documents are in the library, but the library is dark and cramped, filled with the books, letters, and boxes of generations. He needs a librarian to make some sense of it.

Enter Rosemary Gresham …

A Name Unknown is historical romance with suspense elements. And it’s Christian, although the author favours Peter Holstein’s brand of Christian fiction:

He’d certainly never poured a whole sermon into his novels—that would hardly be right in an adventure story—the ideas still snuck in. The readers got the message. Those letters in the attic assured him they did.

The ideas do more than sneak in. Peter is a Christian who prays, whose faith injects everything he does. He’s an excellent hero, even if he’s not the cliché hero of the adventure novels popular with the Edwardian public.

There were a couple of factual glitches that only a non-American would notice, but these were minor and more than compensated for by the outstanding writing. Roseanna M White is a brilliant writer, and I’ll be looking forward to the sequel to A Name Unknown.

Recommended for fans of Edwardian-era Christian romance.

Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Roseanna M White

Roseanna M. White pens her novels beneath her Betsy Ross flag, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two children, editing and designing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna has a slew of historical novels available, ranging from biblical fiction to American-set romances to her new British series. She lives with her family in West Virginia.

Find Roseanna M White online at:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter | YouTube 

Click below to buy A Name Unknown:

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Kobo 

And you can read the introduction to A Name Unknown below:

Book Recommendation | When Death Draws Near by Carrie Stuart Parks

It’s Throwback Thursday, which means it’s time to repost one of my older reviews.

This week it’s When Death Draws Near, the third book in the Gwen Marcey series, following A Cry from the Dust, and The Bones Will Speak. When Death Draws Near is a finalist in the ACFW Carol Awards, in the Mystery/Suspense/Thriller category.

A longer version of this review was first published at Suspense Sisters Reviews on 1 August 2016.

Amazon Description

Gwen Marcey takes death in stride. Until she’s faced with her own mortality.

Forensic artist Gwen Marcey is between jobs when she accepts temporary work in Pikeville, Kentucky—a small town facing big-city crime. But before Gwen can finish her first drawing of the serial rapist who is on the loose, the latest witness vanishes. Just like all the others.

Gwen suspects a connection between the rapist and the “accidental” deaths that are happening around town, but the local sheriff has little interest in her theories. When her digitally-obsessed teenage daughter joins her, Gwen turns her attention to a second assignment: going undercover in a serpent-handling church. She could get a handsome reward for uncovering illegal activity—a reward she desperately needs, as it seems her breast cancer has returned. But snakes aren’t the only ones ready to kill. Can Gwen uncover the truth—and convince anyone to believe her—before she becomes a victim herself?

In a thrilling race against time, When Death Draws Near plunges us into cold-case murders, shady politics, and a den of venomous suspects.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | ChristianBook | Goodreads

My Review

When Death Draws Near was excellent—as I’ve come to expect from Carrie Stuart Parks. She has chosen a difficult topic, yet manages to tread the line between different branches of the Christian faith with care and consideration. (I would point out that most Pentecostals don’t believe in snake handling or drinking poison. Just because the Bible says we can doesn’t mean we should.)

Her writing is excellent (no surprise—the book is dedicated to “Frank, the master storyteller”, referring to Frank Peretti, her writing coach).

The plot is nail-biting, and the characters feel like real people, with all the accompanying faults.

I recently read a blog post which described fictional conflict as characters doing what they know is wrong. I won’t give details (as that would be giving spoilers), but that is definitely a feature of When Death Draws Near, and adds to the tension. Is that character the evildoer, or is the evildoer the character he is protecting? Or someone else? The author continues the suspense until almost the last page.

While this is the third Gwen Marcey thriller, it can easily be read as a standalone novel. The series elements are more about Gwen’s relationship with her ex-husband (shaky) and her teenage daughter (improving, which gives hope to all of us with teenage daughters).

Recommended for thriller fans, especially those who enjoy TV shows like CSI, or novels by Tim Downs.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About the Author

Carrie Stuart ParksCarrie Stuart Parks is an award winning artist, writer, speaker, and law enforcement instructor. A Certified Forensic Artist, she met her husband, Rick, in the romantic hallways of the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. Together they formed a dynamic and successful team in their fine and forensic art, working on major national and international cases and creating exquisite watercolors and stone carvings.

They travel internationally, teaching forensic art to a variety of participants: from the Secret Service to the FBI, from large law enforcement agencies to the smallest two-man departments in their one-week classes. They are the largest instructors of forensic art in the world. Carrie has won numerous awards for her innovative teaching methods and general career excellence and is a signature member of the Idaho Watercolor Society.

Carrie’s Gwen Marcey series chronicles a forensic artist from Montana and is loosely based on Carrie’s forensic cases.

Carrie began her fiction writing career while battling breast cancer. Mentored by NY Times bestselling author, Frank Peretti, Carrie’s debut novel, along with her subsequent novels, have been met with critical acclaim.

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Read the Introduction

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Grounded Hearts by Jeanne M Dickson

What do you get when you mix World War II, a brave midwife, a wounded pilot, and a risky secret? Jeanne M. Dickson’s new historical fiction novel, Grounded Hearts.

When midwife Nan O’Neil finds a wounded young Canadian pilot at her door, she knows she’s taking a huge risk by letting him in. Still, something compels Nan to take in “flyboy” Dutch Whitney, an RAF pilot whose bomber has just crashed over County Clare. While she tends to his wounds and gives him a secret place of refuge, the two begin to form a mutual affection—and an unbreakable bond.

Join Jeanne in celebrating the release of her new book by entering to win the Celtic Knots Giveaway!

One grand prize winner will receive:

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on July 31. The winner will be announced August 1 on the Litfuse blog.

I’ve already reviewed Grounded Hearts—I thought it was excellent. Click here to read my review at International Christian Fiction Writers.

Grounded Hearts

It's RITA Time!

It’s RITA Time!

It’s time for the 2017 RITA Awards! For those who don’t know, the RITA Awards are the annual published author awards presented by Romance Writers of America.

They are a big deal, the Oscars of the romance writing world. I read Christian fiction, so I’m most interested in the Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements category.

The four finalists for 2017 are:

  • My Hope Next Door by Tammy L Gray
  • Keeper of the Stars by Robin Lee Hatcher
  • Close to You by Kara Isaac (who also finalled in the Debut novel category)
  • Trust My Heart by Carol J Post

I’ve read and reviewed all four books, and I’m glad I’m not a judge!

All four books were excellent, and it’s going to be a tough decision for someone (or several someones). I’d love for Kara Isaac to win, because Close to You is set in New Zealand and she’s finalled in two categories. And I edited her latest book, Then There Was You. Not that I’m biased or anything.

Here are links to my reviews:

Close to You
Keeper of the Stars
My Hope Next Door
Trust My Heart

My review of Keeper of the Stars was a guest post at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, as part of their annual RITA challenge. They ask for guest reviewers to volunteer to review each of the (many) finalists. They post two reviews of each book in the weeks leading up to the announcement of the winners.

These reviews are interesting to read because they are mostly written by readers who don’t usually read Christian romance. You’ll see the reviews aren’t nearly as glowing as those usually seen on Christian fiction review sites.

Here are links to the other SBTB reviews:

A B- review for Close to You from Bluetomarto.
A C- review for Close to You from Hope.

A B- review for Trust My Heart from LauraL.
A C- review for Trust My Heart from DonnaMarie.

A C+ review from Julia for Keeper of the Stars.

A D review for My Hope Next Door from Samantha.

If you go by the SBTB grades, the winner will be Keeper of the Stars. But that’s based on my B+ review, and I’d have given B+ or better grades to all four finalists!

The winners will be announced at the Romance Writers of America conference, on 27 July.

Have you read any of these RITA finalists? Which do you think should win?

My Favourite Reads for June 2017

Book Recommendations June 2017 (and Giveaway Winners!) 

My Favourite Reads for June 2017. I’m usually a contemporary romance fan, but this month features three historical titles, one of which is pure thriller.

But first, our giveaway winners!

Two weeks ago, I reviewed (raved about) Then There Was You, the new release from Kara Isaac, and offered two giveaways.

The winner of the paperback was Susan.

The winner of the Kindle was Stacy.

Congratulations!

You have both received an email from me asking for your details so I can forward your prize. Please respond by 7 July 2017, or I’ll select another winner. If you haven’t received the email, then contact me through the form on my Contact page.

And now for my book recommendations for June:

Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter

Sweetbriar Cottage is a standalone novel by Denise Hunter, the story of a couple who thought they were divorced but aren’t. When trapped together in a snowstorm, they have to reconsider their preconceptions and decisions. I loved Sweetbriar Cottage for the illustration of the importance of unconditional love … and the challenge in putting that into practice.

Click here to read my review of Sweetbriar Cottage, and click here to find out more about Denise Hunter.

Unnoticed by Amanda Deed

Unnoticed is a Christian Cinderella story set in 1870’s Australia. I loved the unique way the author told the story, especially in the backstory she gave the characters … and the way she showed how we are products of our choices as much as of our environments.

Click here to read my review of Unnoticed, and click here to find out more about Amanda Deed.

Grounded Hearts by Jeanne M Dickson

Grounded Hearts is set in World War II Ireland, a unique setting in terms of time and place (at least, it’s not a setting I’ve come across before in Christian fiction). Ireland was neutral in World War II, so it’s the story of a Canadian RAF pilot downed in Ireland, and the efforts of a local midwife to get him to safety in British Northern Ireland. I loved the historical context, and the irreverent Irish humour.

Click here to read my review of Grounded Hearts, and click here to find out more about Jeanne M Dickson.

Enemy Action by Mike Hollow

Enemy Action is a murder mystery set in London at the height of the Blitz. It’s the third book in The Blitz Detective series, but can easily be read as a standalone novel (I haven’t read the earlier books in the series, but now I want to). It’s a great mystery with lots of twists and turns, and an authentic British voice.

Click here to read my review of Enemy Action, and click here to find out more about Mike Hollow and The Blitz Detective series.

 

What were your favourite reads for June 2017?

Book Recommendations May 2017

Book Recommendations: May 2017

Thes best books I read and reviewed in May 2017. This was a good month!

The Long Highway Home by Elizabeth Musser

The Long Highway Home is a unique combination of fact and fiction. Elizabeth Musser draws on her own missionary experiences working with refugees to deliver a story that hits home in terms of the trials refugees find in pursuing safety.

Click here to read my review.

Click here to find out more about Elizabeth Musser.

Read more

Book Recommendations for March/April 2017

Book Recommendations: March/April 2017

The best books I read and reviewed in March and April 2017. Definitely recommended!

The Memory of You by Catherine West

Catherine West is known for her thought-provoking women’s fiction. The Memory of You is certainly thought-provoking, but it had a lot more of a romance thread than I’d expected. Hey, that’s a good thing!

Click here to read my review, and click here to find out more about Catherine West.

A Fragile Hope by Cynthia Ruchti

I’m not usually a fan of the unlikable “hero”, but Joseph grew on me … once he grew a brain. It’s amazing how fast otherwise intelligent me can jump to wrong conclusions. Cynthia Ruchti is to be congratulated for a compelling novel examining love and hope.

Click here to read my review, and click here to find out more about Cynthia Ruchti.

If I’m Found by Terri Blackstock

This thriller is the sequel to If I Run, and the novels should definitely be read in order. Each story is complete in itself, but there is an overarching plot across the series.

But if you’re one of those people who can’t stand the wait for the next novel, you might want to put off reading this until the next in the series is published.

Click here to read my review, and click here to find out more about Terri Blackstock.

Catch of a Lifetime by Candee Fick

This is an older book, but new to me (and the first time I’ve read anything by Candee Fick as well. It’s Christian New Adult, set in a college football environment, and I loved the way the author wove faith and football together. She also avoided stupid or vapid characters—something that seems all too common in other books I’ve read in this genre.

Click here to read my review, and click here to find out more about Candee Fick.

What Christian fiction have you read recently that you recommend?