Tag: Book Review

Quote from More than Gold: He couldn't be set in his ways yet. He was only thirty-four. He didn't plan on being set in his ways for at least another ten years.

Book Review | More Than Gold (Escape to the West #6) by Nerys Leigh

Gabriel Silversmith is the gold miner we first met in The Truth About Love, where his mail order bride left him for another man. Not that we blamed her—Gabriel is rough around the edges, to put it politely.

Now he’s married to Grace Myers, and married life isn’t exactly going as planned.

Grace has opinions of her own and isn’t afraid to express them. And she’s refined … perhaps too refined for a gold miner living in a one-room shack with no running water. Will Grace stay, or will this be another disaster?

Grace chose to become a mail order bride to get away from her jealous and selfish stepmother.

She’d thought anything would be better than marrying Felicia’s choice for her, the ancient Mr Howard who has hair growing out both ears. Gabriel is younger and probably more attractive … if she can get him to shave off that awful beard and stop chewing the tobacco that makes him smell like an outhouse.

I have to admit that while I wanted Gabriel to get his happy-ever-after after the way Jo treated him, I also see Grace’s point. She’s a lady, and Gabriel is certainly not a gentleman. Or an angel. And is he really a successful gold miner? If so, wouldn’t he live somewhere nicer that a one-room shack?
But Grace and Gabriel are both determined to make the marriage work, and that’s a great starting point for an enjoyable marriage of convenience story with a touch of suspense.

The first five books in Nerys Leigh’s Escape to the West series can be read in any order, because they all take place simultaneously. More than Gold is the exception—it’s best to read The Truth About Love first, because that covers some of Gabriel’s history, and shows why Grace arrives alone, after the other brides.

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

About Nerys Leigh

Nerys LeighNerys Leigh writes thoroughly romantic Christian historical love stories. She loves heroes who are strong but sweet and heroines who are willing to fight for the life they want.

She’s from the UK, which you would think puts her in a unique position to not write about mail order brides in the American west, but the old adage of writing what you know has never appealed to her. She has an actual American read each book before publishing to make sure she hasn’t gone all English on it.

No One’s Bride is the first in the Escape to the West series which tells the stories of a group of women willing to travel across America to find happiness, and the men determined to win their hearts.

You can find Nerys Leigh online relaxing and generally enjoying the view at:

 Website | Facebook

About More Than Gold

Does “second time lucky” apply to mail order brides?

Let’s just say that Gabriel’s first attempt at marriage didn’t go well. But his new bride, Grace, she has curves he can’t keep his eyes from, and he’s determined this time will be different. Until he ends up sleeping in the barn.

Why are women so difficult to figure out? All he wants is someone to cook, clean, and warm his bed. But Grace wants more. She wants respect and someone to care about her. She wants love.

So now Gabriel has to learn how to court his wife just so he can sleep in his own bed again. As for falling in love, though, he just isn’t the type.

But he’s been wrong before.

You can find More Than Gold online at:

Amazon US | Amazon AU | Goodreads

You can read the introduction to More Than Gold below:

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#ThrowbackThursday | Death at Thornburn Hall by Julianna Deering

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m resharing my review of Death at Thornburn Hall, which originally appeared at International Christian Fiction Writers.

Drew and Madeline Fathering are back. They are visiting Drew’s distant relatives, Lord and Lady Rainsby of Thornburn Hall, and planning to watch the Open at Muirfield, Edinburgh. They are not the only guests—there is also a married couple, and a Russian artiste seeking his muse.

Death at Thornburn Hall is the sixth book in the Drew Fathering series. Each book is a standalone murder mystery, which means you don’t have to read the earlier books first (although there are some plot threads that trail though the series). It follows the pattern established in the first book, Rules of Murder.

  • Drew arrives somewhere (Thornburn Hall, in this instance).
  • There is a death (sometimes there is more than one).
  • Drew investigates.
  • The local police force don’t appreciate Drew’s efforts.
  • Drew solves the crime with help from Nick and Madeline.

It has almost has a Scooby-Doo feel, albeit in a different time and place, and without the inevitable, “and I would have gotten away with it, if it wasn’t for you meddling kids.” Yes, there is humour in here:

There is plenty of witty banter between Drew, a member of the British aristocracy,  Madeline, his American wife, and Nick Dennison, Drew’s best friend and the son of the Fathering Hall butler (a friendship that continues to raise eyebrows).

And Carrie is back: Madeline’s American best friend, who Nick would like to persuade to stay forever … However, Carrie is not stupid. She’s realised the same thing the rest of us have realised:

Drew Fathering attracts murder. Murder attracts risk and danger.

But that’s the fun! Well, that’s the fun for me, as a reader. Carrie doesn’t see it quite the same way …

The writing is excellent, as usual. There is a cast of characters ranging from mysterious to suspicious. Some things are not what they seem, and there are plenty of genuine clues scattered among the red herrings. The ending is satisfying on several levels (well, satisfying to the core characters. The murderer, as usual, is less than satisfied with being caught by Drew).

I love this series because it is so British. It reminds me of driving through the English countryside, of camping in Scotland under the shadow of Ben Nevis, of taking the train to Edinburgh and disembarking at Waverley Station.

The Drew Fathering mysteries are an echo of England in days gone by.

They remind me of childhood favourites such as The Famous Five, and Swallows and Amazons, and of Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Georgette Heyer, and other 1930’s murder mystery writers.

But it’s also an echo of the England I lived in … because I’ve visited many of the places Drew and Madeline visit—Winchester, Beaulieu, Edinburgh. The beauty of England is that it is old, and a modern visitor can see many of the same sights as Drew and Madeline see.

Death at Thornburn Hall by Julianna Deering is an enjoyable murder mystery that's a reminder of England in days gone by #ChristianFiction #MustRead Click To Tweet

Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Julianna Deering at her website, and

About Julianna Deering

Author Photo: Julianna Deering

Julianna Deering (also writing as DeAnna Julie Dodson) has always been an avid reader and a lover of storytelling, whether on the page, the screen or the stage. This, along with her keen interest in history and her Christian faith, shows in her tales of love, forgiveness, and triumph over adversity. A fifth-generation Texan, she makes her home north of Dallas with three spoiled cats and, when not writing, spends her free time quilting, cross stitching and watching NHL hockey. Her series of Drew Farthering mysteries set in 1930s England debuted from Bethany House with Rules of Murder (2013).

Find Julianna Deering online at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

About Death at Thornburn Hall

The Fartherings’ Scottish Holiday Takes a Dark Turn

Drew Farthering arrives in idyllic Scotland for the 1935 British Open at Muirfield hoping for a relaxing holiday, but he soon finds a mystery on his hands. Lord Rainsby, his host at Thorburn Hall, fears his business partner may be embezzling and asks Drew to quietly investigate. Before Drew can uncover anything, Rainsby is killed in a suspicious riding accident.

Thorburn Hall is filled with guests, and as Drew continues to dig, he realizes that each might have had a motive to put Raisnby out of the way. Together with Madeline and Nick, he must sort through shady business dealings, international intrigue, and family tensions to find a killer who always seems to be one step ahead.

Find Death at Thornburn Hall online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Read the introduction to Death at Thornburn Hall below:

Quote from Mind Games by Nancy Mehl: Those who know God should be the ones to confront the darkness, to chase evil. We have the weapons. Those who don't know Him have only themselves.

Mind Games (Kaely Quinn Profiler #1) by Nancy Mehl

Jessica Oliphant is the daughter of a convicted serial killer. Now thirty-four, she’s FBI profiler Kaely Quinn, dedicated to solving murder cases, especially serial killer cases. Her unorthodox methods have earned her supporters, opponents, and the attention of the wrong kind of people—like a persistent journalist. And a serial killer.

Kaely becomes part of the next investigation when the journalist receives an anonymous poem signalling a series of murders, and ending in Kaely’s apparent suicide. The first body is discovered soon after the note is delivered. Now the race is on to identify the killer before Kaely—or anyone close to her—dies.

Mind Games is an apt title for a great thriller.

We know from the get-go that the killer is playing games with Kaely. The challenge is to work out who … I identified several possible suspects (one of whom was later murdered, so I was 100% wrong on that one!).

Kaely is an intriguing heroine. She’s intelligent and likeable, and with a strong Christian faith. But she’s also a damaged woman who suffers nightmares and finds it impossible to allow anyone to get close to her. She’s estranged from her family, both respected and reviled at work as an object of curious fascination.

The other characters are also strong—they have to be, because Kaley is such a strong character. Noah and Kaley had some interesting conversations about faith. Yes, Mind Games is definitely Christian fiction, as there is a strong faith thread and some insightful lines about the nature of faith, and the nature of evil.

This is the first of the Kaely Quinn Profiler series.

I’ve read several of Nancy Mehl’s earlier novels, but this is her best yet. I’ll be looking forward to reading more about Kaely, Noah, and their colleagues. Recommended for fans of Christian thrillers from authors like Terri Blackstock and Carrie Stuart Parks.

Mind Games by @NancyMehl is an excellent Christian thriller. Recommended! #ChristianFiction #MustRead Click To Tweet

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

About Nancy Mehl

Author photo: Nancy MehlNancy Mehl lives in Missouri, with her husband Norman, and her very active puggle, Watson. She’s authored thirty books and is currently at work on a new FBI suspense series for Bethany House Publishing.

All of Nancy’s novels have an added touch – something for your spirit as well as your soul. “I welcome the opportunity to share my faith through my writing,” Nancy says. “It’s a part of me and of everything I think or do. God is number one in my life. I wouldn’t be writing at all if I didn’t believe that this is what He’s called me to do. I hope everyone who reads my books will walk away with the most important message I can give them: God is good, and He loves you more than you can imagine. He has a good plan especially for your life, and there is nothing you can’t overcome with His help.”

You can find Nancy Mehl online at:

Website | Suspense Sisters | Facebook

About Mind Games

Kaely Quinn’s talents as an FBI behavior analyst are impossible to ignore, no matter how unorthodox her methods. But when a reporter outs her as the daughter of an infamous serial killer, she’s demoted to field agent and transferred to St. Louis.

When the same reporter who ruined her career claims to have received an anonymous poem predicting a string of murders, ending with Kaely’s, the reporter’s ulterior motives bring his claim into question. But when a body is found that fits the poem’s predictions, the threat is undeniable, and the FBI sends Special Agent Noah Hunter to St. Louis.

Initially resentful of the assignment, Noah is surprised at how quickly his respect for Kaely grows, despite her oddities. But with a brazen serial killer who breaks all the normal patterns on the loose, Noah and Kaely are tested to their limits to catch the murderer before anyone else–including Kaely herself–is killed.

You can find Mind Games online at:

Amazon US | Amazon AU | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

You can read the introduction to Mind Games below:

And don’t forget to click here and check out Mind Games and other great Christian fiction in my Amazon store!

Book Review | The Unblemished Series by Sara Ella

I’m not a big fantasy reader, and this trilogy reminded me why. I requested a review copy of Unbreakable, the final book in the trilogy, on the strength of the fabulous cover and the intriguing book description. The publisher sent me all three books, because this is one series you definitely need to read in order.

Unblemished

Unblemished was definitely my favourite book of the series. It had issues: too much interior monologue, some weird writing (more than compensated for by some brilliant writing), an annoying habit of having three consecutive one-word sentences. So. Very. Annoying.

Again. Again. Again.

But I liked the main character.

I liked her voice—I knew I was reading YA and I haven’t been YA for many years, so I was able to move past some of her annoying teenager-isms. I liked the concept of the orphan who discovers everything she knew about life was wrong, that people weren’t who they seemed, and even the world she lived in (modern New York) was one of seven dimensions.

Yes, the world building was a little confusing at times. Yes, the writing was occasionally annoying. Yes, the author has skewered in every possible YA fantasy trope, every possible pop culture reference.

But underneath, it was the age-old battle between good and evil (accompanied by the age-old love triangle), and it worked.

Enough that I read the next book …

Unraveling

I’ve read reviews of Unblemished where the reader loved loved loved it. I’ve no doubt those readers will also love Unraveling. Unfortunately, I thought Unraveling unraveled what had been a solid premise.

While Unblemished was clearly El’s story (or Em’s story, depending on whether you’re #TeamJoshua or #TeamKy), Unraveling has three point of view characters: El, Joshua, and Ky. I found this confusing, as all three stories were told in the first person, and their voices weren’t sufficiently different. I continually had to backtrack to the beginning of the chapter to work out which character’s head I was in. And that disrupts the flow of the story.

Don’t get me wrong: I love stories told in first person (it was one of the strengths of Unblemished). And I love stories told from multiple points of view (although I’m less keen on love triangles). But the three first person points of view in Unraveling weren’t sufficiently different for it to work for me.

Unraveling also had all the same issues as Unblemished: endless cliches, endless plot tropes and endless pop culture references. They started feeling tired, as though more effort was being put into being Hip and Relevant than delivering a great story.

Overall, Unraveling wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t my idea of a good read. But it’s the second book in a trilogy, and my experience is the second book is often the weakest. By the end I was still interested in reading the final book, if only to discover whether#TeamJoshua or #TeamKy prevails.

Unbreakable

So I thought Unblemished was solid and Unraveling was average. But I often find the second book in a trilogy is the weakest, so I wasn’t going to not read Unbreakable, the final book in the series, simply because I didn’t enjoy Unraveling.

My mistake. This is the series that proves the rule: the one where I thought the final book was the weakest.

There were two reasons for this.

First, where Unblemished had one point of view character and Unraveling had three, Unbreakable had five. Five. Unblemished engaged me with a single story, and every additional viewpoint diluted that main story. It didn’t help that I couldn’t tell most of the viewpoint characters apart. They all sounded too much the same to me.

My other issue with Unbreakable was the plot. It was too convoluted. Not complex: I can deal with a complex plot. But convoluted, in that the plot seemed to go in circles rather than moving forward. The result was I lost interest. The romance thread had been present since Unblemished, so it was pretty obvious this wasn’t going to have a Divergent-type ending, and it didn’t.

I thought the ending was a let-down, and that’s even with El/Em ending up with the “right guy” (there is always the 50:50 chance in a love triangle that the heroine will pick the “wrong” guy, like in Twilight or the Bailey Flannigan series).

Overall

I saw weaknesses in Unblemished, but the unique plot and voice kept me engaged, and had me keen to read the sequels. Unbreakable was the opposite. The weaknesses from Unblemished were still there, but I found it impossible to stay engaged. I finished the book, but I think I skimmed most of the second half as I’d simply lost the plot, and lost the desire to care about what happened to any of the characters.

Overall, this series reminded me why I rarely read fantasy. Now, please excuse me while I head back to my genre comfort zones of romance, romantic suspense, and women’s fiction.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing the full series of ebooks for review.

Have you read any of the books in this series? What did you think?

Quote from Gone Too Soon: It's disturbing to realize that I'm not as smart as I thought I was. I wonder what else I don't understand.

Book Review | Gone Too Soon by Melody Carlson

Kiera is fourteen, the independent and sassy middle child of three girls. But her older sister, perfect Hannah, died six months ago and it was Kiera’s fault. But Kiera reconsiders when she finds Hannah’s diary, and realizes Hannah wasn’t the paragon of perfection. Hannah had secrets …

On the outside, Kiera’s family look like the typical middle-class family, even if they are still grieving for a dead daughter and sister. But we see inside Kiera’s family, and it’s a long way from perfect.

Dysfunctional doesn’t even begin to describe it.

The story is told in first person from Kiera’s point of view, and in third person from her mother’s point of view. Kiera is a sympathetic character. She’s a somewhat rebellious and sassy teen (somewhat = the kind who gets herself a summer job and doesn’t secretly drink or do drugs). Like many teens, she feels isolated, as though no one understands her. Especially not her mother.

It’s hard to like Moira.

I’m the mother of teens, but still found myself siding with Kiera and wanting to give Moira a good talking to. Yes, she was grieving. But she was still the parent, and that means she has responsibilities. Like acting like a parent, not a stroppy teen.

The writing is occasionally shaky—I found the first person passages easier to read and more compelling than the third person passages. I’m not sure if that’s because the writing was stronger, or because I didn’t like Moira. I did wonder what Moira’s story was. Did we need to see her point of view, or was Kiera’s enough? Will teen readers care about Moira’s point of view, or will they find her even more annoying than I did?

In some ways, it doesn’t matter. Gone Too Soon is a strong YA story of blame and grief and recovery, and about how our bad decisions can make life so much worse … but also a story about how allowing God into our lives can bring us peace. No matter what.

Recommended for YA readers.

Thanks to Whitefire Publishing for providing a free ebook for review.

About Melody Carlson

Author Photo: Melody CarlsonMelody Carlson has written more than 200 books (with sales around 6.5 million) for teens, women and children. That’s a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a “storyteller.” Her novels range from serious issues like schizophrenia (Finding Alice) to lighter topics like house-flipping (A Mile in My Flip-Flops) but most of the inspiration behind her fiction comes right out of real life. Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, TrueColors etc.) appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year.

She’s won a number of awards (including Romantic Time’s Career Achievement Award, the Rita and the Gold Medallion) and some of her books have been optioned for film/TV. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog.

Find Melody Carlson online at:

Website

About Gone Too Soon

An icy road. A car crash.
A family changed forever.

Hannah Josephson had always been the “perfect” daughter. Kiera couldn’t live up to her before, and she certainly can’t now that her older sister has died in a car accident. But the image she carried resentfully of Hannah is challenged when she finds her dead sister’s diary and begins to read. Apparently Hannah’s final year wasn’t as perfect as everyone thought.

Caught in a pattern of blaming each other, the Josephson family is falling apart. Their father has left, their mother is mixing opiates and alcohol, little sister Maddie has been shipped off to spend the whole summer with their grandmother, and Kiera feels utterly alone with her grief and anger. A summer job helping at a park in a poor section of town provides a friend and a purpose.

But it’s Hannah’s diary that fills her thoughts. For the first time in years, she feels close to the sister she’s lost. But can the knowledge she gleans about her possibly help her patch back together the family that seems determined to implode?

Find Gone Too Soon online at:

Amazon US | Amazon AUGoodreads

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Quote from The Lieutenants Bargain: Jack knew that nothing happened in life that God didn't allow, but that didn't mean that everything had a purpose. Sometimes it was just dumb luck.

Book Review | The Lieutenant’s Bargain by Regina Jennings

Hattie Walker doesn’t want to get married.

She wants to be an artist, Her parents have given her two months to prove herself and get a painting in a reputable Denver exhibition, so she’s travelling to Colorado to try and make her mark in the art world. Otherwise, it’s go home to Van Buren, Arkansas, and plan for her future. A stagecoach shootout leaves Hattie as the only survivor … and therefore the only eyewitness to murder. But that’s nothing compared to being kidnapped by Indians for who knows what nefarious purpose.

Lieutenant Jack Hennessey has never been interested in marriage.

The only girl he was ever interested in never showed the slightest sign of liking him. But now he’s rescuing the survivor of a stagecoach robbery, and it turns out to be his childhood sweetheart. Anxious to impress, he asks the village Chief to arrange a ceremony … and ends up married.

Oops. Not quite the impression he wanted to make.

It’s a great set-up: a marriage that’s neither mail order bride nor marriage of convenience, but marriage all the same. And between two people who know and like each other, although that doesn’t mean they actually want to be married. It makes for a fun story, with a lot of great scenes as the two get to know each other and consider their options.

Parts of the novel show the hopefully well-meaning but almost certainly misguided colonialism, with the attempts to integrate the local Indian tribes into the white man’s world (and isn’t that phrase telling: the white man’s world. Not the white world. That’s still a distinction we’re all fighting for). Some Native American readers may say this history is sanitised and sugar-coated, and they’d probably be right.

However, this novel is intended as light entertainment, not a serious treatise on the faults of colonialism (of which there are many). On that level, it works.

The Lieutenant’s Bargain is the second book in the Fort Reno series, but can easily be read as a standalone novel. Recommended for fans of Christian Western historical romance … especially those who like a little humour in their romance.

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

About Regina Jennings

Regina JenningsRegina Jennings is the winner of the National Reader’s Choice Award, a two-time Golden Quill finalist and a finalist for the Oklahoma Book of the Year Award. A graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a minor in history, Regina has worked at the Mustang News and at First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She lives outside of Oklahoma City with her husband and four children when not traveling the world.

Find Regina Jennings online at:

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About The Lieutenant’s Bargain

Hattie Walker dreams of becoming a painter, while her parents want her to settle down. As a compromise, they give her two months to head to Denver and place her works in an exhibition or give up the dream forever. Her journey is derailed when a gunman attacks her stagecoach, leaving her to be rescued by a group of Arapaho . . . but she’s too terrified to recognize them as friendly.

Confirmed bachelor Lieutenant Jack Hennessey has long worked with the tribe and is tasked with trying to convince them that the mission school at Fort Reno can help their children. When a message arrives about a recovered survivor, Jack heads out to take her home–and plead his case once more.

He’s stunned to run into Hattie Walker, the girl who shattered his heart–but quickly realizes he has a chance to impress her. When his plan gets tangled through translation, Jack and Hattie end up in a mess that puts her dreams in peril–and tests Jack’s resolve to remain single.

Find The Lieutenant’s Bargain online at:

Amazon US | Amazon AU | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Read the introduction to The Lieutenant’s Bargain below:

Quote from Who I Am With You: "A good neighbor might have taken over a plate of fresh-baked chocolate-chip cookies. But Jessica had forgotten how to be a good neighbor."

Book Review | Who I Am With You by Robin Lee Hatcher

I was expecting this to be a contemporary romance, because all the other Robin Lee Hatcher novels I’ve read have been contemporary romances. So I was surprised when I started reading and found it’s a dual timeline story. Yes, the book description says this, but I guess I saw “Robin Lee Hatcher” and didn’t read the the book description properly. I knew I’d enjoy it.

And I did.

In the present story, Jessica Morgan is an artist who is expecting her dead husband’s baby while still recovering from his death, and the death of their daughter. Jessica has shut herself away from friends and life, but that changes when Ridley Chesterfield moves in next door. Ridley and his adopted stray dog challenge Jessica to come out of her shell.

I enjoyed watching Jessica grow past her grief and open up to live and love. However, if I had a criticism of Who I Am With You, it would be that she recovered from the lost of her daughter more quickly than seemed natural given the way she was portrayed at the beginning of the story. But I loved the way Ridley was able to bring Jessica out of her shell and back to church even while he was dealing with his own personal crisis.

In the past story, Andrew and Helen Henning are starting their perfect married life when Andrew loses his job. In the early weeks of what becomes the Great Depression. I didn’t enjoy the past story as much (hey, I’m a contemporary romance fan and the Great Depression is, well, somewhat depressing).

But the past story was compelling, and it set the scene for this contemporary story, and the next. And while I liked Ridley as a romance hero who faced internal and external challenges, his were minor in comparison to Andrew’s challenges. Overall, Who I Am With you is a great story filled with spiritual truth … and a couple of pointed comments on the current political climate.

Recommended for fans of dual timeline stories with a heart of faith.

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

About Robin Lee Hatcher

Robin Lee HatcherBest-selling novelist Robin Lee Hatcher is known for her heartwarming and emotionally charged stories of faith, courage, and love. Winner of the Christy, the RITA, the Carol, the Inspirational Reader’s Choice, and many other industry awards, Robin is also a recipient of Lifetime Achievement Awards from both Romance Writers of America and American Christian Fiction Writers. She is the author of 75+ novels and novellas with over five million copies in print.

Robin enjoys being with her family, spending time in the beautiful Idaho outdoors, reading books that make her cry, and watching romantic movies. Her main hobby (when time allows) is knitting, and she has a special love for making prayer shawls. A mother and grandmother, Robin and her husband make their home on the outskirts of Boise, sharing it with Poppet, the high-maintenance Papillon, and Princess Pinky, the DC (demon cat).

Find Robin online at:

Website | Facebook | Google+ | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter

About Who I Am With You

For these two broken hearts, the first step toward love will be a huge leap of faith.

Jessica Mason isn’t looking for love when she meets Ridley Chesterfield. Instead she is still reeling from the tragic, unexpected loss of her husband and daughter—and awaiting the arrival of her unborn child. Harboring the secret of her husband’s betrayal, her pain is deeper than anyone knows.

Ridley Chesterfield is hiding out in Hope Springs, Idaho, avoiding a political scandal and the barrage of false media headlines that have tarnished his good name. The last thing Ridley wants is a relationship—but when fate leads Ridley to form a friendship with his reclusive and pregnant neighbor, he wonders if this small-town hideout might be more of a long-term destination.

When Jessica begins to read her great-grandfather’s Bible, she finds a connection with a man she never knew. Somehow the verses he marked and the words he wrote in the margins open her heart to healing. And as Ridley and Jessica help each other forgive the people who have wronged them, they must decide if the past will define them or if they will choose to love again.

Who I Am With You weaves together a modern-day romance with Jessica’s great-grandfather’s story from the 1930s, reminding us that some truths can cross generations and that faith has the power to transform families forever.

Find Who I Am With You online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Click here to find Things Left Unsaid and other great Christian fiction at my Amazon shop!

Quote from Guarded Prognosis: We're told that the Christian will face troubles. It's promised in the Scriptures. God's promise is that he'll provide the strength we need at the time we need it.

Book Review | Guarded Prognosis by Richard Mabry

Dr Mabry is the master of the medical thriller, and Guarded Prognosis is one of his best. It’s a novel rather than a novella, and that gives him the opportunity to pile on the trouble for the main character, Dr Caden Taggart.

Dr Taggart has two strangers in his waiting room. They say they’re from the DEA, and they’re there to investigate a drug-related death where Dr Taggart apparently prescribed the fentanyl that killed the man. Except Taggart doesn’t prescribe fentanyl—he’s a surgeon, and fentanyl is something that would be prescribed by the referring physician. Things get more complicated when his father calls to say he’s taken a few tests, the results look like cancer … and Dr Henry Taggart wants his son’s help to commit suicide.

Yeah. Plenty of thing going wrong in this one. And plenty of room for more things to go wrong.

The characters are intriguing. Beth is a Christian, but Caden doesn’t seem to be: “That was her thing, not his.” This kind of leaves me wondering why she married him … However, that does leave room for Caden to have a crisis of faith.

One thing that continues to impress me with Dr Mabry’s novels and novellas is the way he weaves Christianity and medical terminology into the story in a natural way. There is always enough medical terminology to convince us the characters are real doctors, yet never so much that we don’t understand what’s going on. The same with the Christian content—it’s there, but it’s not forced.

All in all, Guarded Prognosis is a strong medical thriller with plenty of twists and turns.

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

About Richard Mabry

I’m a retired physician who, in addition to writing, is a husband and grandfather, plays (and enjoys) golf, and does the hundred-and-one other things that retired people do.

I got into non-medical writing after the death of my first wife with my book, THE TENDER SCAR: LIFE AFTER THE DEATH OF A SPOUSE. I’m gratified that it continues to help those who have lost a loved one.

Now I’m writing what I call “medical suspense with heart.” My novels have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Award, Romantic Times’ Best Inspirational Novel and their Reviewer’s Choice Award, have won the Selah award, and been named by Christian Retailing as the best in the mystery/suspense/thriller category. My latest novel is CARDIAC EVENT, which has been given a 4 1/2 star rating and a “Top Pick” by Romantic Times. I’ve also published three novellas, the latest one DOCTOR’S DILEMMA.

You can find Dr Richard Mabry online at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

About Guarded Prognosis

When Dr. Caden Taggart saw the two men sitting in his waiting room, he didn’t think they were patients. He was right, and when they introduced themselves as agents of the Drug Enforcement Agency, things started to get bad.

Then Caden felt as though someone had gut-punched him when his father, Dr. Henry Taggart, told him he probably had carcinoma of the pancreas. When he talked about his son assisting with his suicide, Caden wondered how he could talk him out of that.

When he shared his news with his wife, Beth, she tried to assure Caden that God was in control. But as things progressed, he was unsure that was true. At first, he feared for his freedom. Then for his ability to cope. Eventually, he feared for his life.

Find Guarded Prognosis online at:

Amazon | BookBub | Goodreads

Read the introduction to Guarded Prognosis below:

Rea

#ThrowbackThursday | Integrate by Adele Jones

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m resharing by review of Integrate, the first book in a near-future YA science trilogy from Australian author Adele Jones. This review first appeared at Iola’s Christian Reads.

Fast-paced YA Suspense with a GMO twist

Blaine Colton isn’t the average seventeen-year-old boy. He spent the first fourteen years of his life in a wheelchair until Professor Ramer’s experimental gene therapy turned him into a normal Australian teen. But now he’s back at the Advance Research Institute, under the care of Dr Melissa Hartfield, and something’s not quite right …

Blaine isn’t sure what’s happening, but he knows he needs to escape the Institute, and keep out of the clutches of Dr Hartfield and her cronies. And he needs to get more pills, so he seeks help from his former next-door neighbour, Sophie Faraday. But Dr Hartfield has already contacted Sophie, who now doesn’t know who’s telling the truth: Blaine, or the doctor?

Integrate is a fast-paced psychological thriller set in Brisbane, Australia. The plot is excellent, with enough science to keep it interesting, but not so much that it dissolves into technobabble. I liked the way all the little bits tied up at the end, yet still leaves room for a sequel (I’d like to see more of Blaine, Sophie and Jett).

Blaine is mature for his age, having come through the disabilities he faced in childhood with a strong sense of self, and no desire to return to the person he used to be. He’s fighting for his life in a different way, and has to persuade Sophie and others that he’s not violent or deranged—a difficult task when he’s only partway through his cure and his physical health is failing.

The other characters are good as well. They all feel like real people, with a mixture of good and bad points. They make mistakes, judge things incorrectly, and get frustrating. Annoying, but just like real people in real life. All in all, Integrate is a good read. Recommended.

Thanks to Rhiza Press for providing a free ebook for review.

About Adele Jones

Author Photo - Adele Jones

I’m an Australian author who writes young adult and historical novels, poetry and short fiction, and inspirational non-fiction works. My first YA techno-thriller novel ‘Integrate’ was awarded the 2013 CALEB Prize for unpublished manuscript.

My writing explores issues of social justice, humanity, spirituality, natural beauty and meaning in life’s journey, drawing on inspiration from my family, faith, friends, music and science.

Find Adele Jones online at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

About Integrate

Blaine Colton had been handed a genetic death sentence until revolutionary gene therapy changed his life. Living a relatively normal existence, he is called to an unscheduled post-treatment appointment just weeks before his eighteenth birthday.

Informed that his life saving procedure was never approved, he is held against his will for his status as an apparent illegal GMO. Subjected to constant testing, refused contact with his parents and deprived of life sustaining medication, Blaine begins to suspect that something is wrong. Wanting answers, he escapes the Institute and ambitious Chief Scientist, Dr Melissa Hartfield.

Now a fugitive with a failing body, Blaine must find Professor Ramer, the developer of his therapy. But the Professor has vanished and time is running out. Fast.

You can find Integrate online at:

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Goodreads

I wasn't always a liar ...

#ThrowbackThursday | Perennials by Julie Cantrell

It’s #Throwback Thursday. Today I’m bringing you my review of Perennials, by award-winning author Julie Cantrell. This review previously appeared at Australasian Christian Writers. Click here to check out the discussion.

Perennials: Inspirational Women’s Fiction for the Eat, Pray, Love Generation

PerennialsI don’t usually read reviews before reading a book I’ve asked to review, because I don’t want to be influenced (in contrast, I do read reviews before buying a book. Call me weird, but I find it easier to ignore a book’s faults if I know them before I start reading page one).

Anyway, if the review I read was accurate, this book had a lot of faults. The chief fault appeared to be that it was from a Christian publisher, yet was not Christian fiction.

Well, sold.

Okay, not sold. But I requested a review copy from NetGalley, because I wanted to find out for myself.

The writing was brilliant.

Julie Cantrell has a gift with words, with emotion. The plot was generally strong. I thought the plot device used to get Eva home to her family was contrived almost to the point of being unbelievable, but the writing was outstanding and the characterisation was solid enough that I was prepared to let a less-than-believable plot point pass.

Perennials is the story of a middle-aged professional woman who learns the hard way success isn’t defined by your salary or your job title (or your ability to life a Pinterest-worthy life), but by being true to yourself. She also learns that we can’t judge and resent others for their Pinterest-perfect lives, because we don’t know what they’re hiding.

These are powerful lessons.

Eva, the main character, wasn’t the most likeable person to begin with. She has a chip on her shoulder the size of a small planet, and even at forty-five years of age, it’s never occurred to her that her outlook on life and on her family (especially on her family) is anything but right. Being home again forces her to review and rethink some of her perceptions. The more I saw of her in her home town, the more I was able to sympathise and empathise with her situation.

Overall, I’d classify this as an inspirational women’s fiction version of Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh. Perennials definitely doesn’t fit in the narrow echo chamber of Christian fiction. If it was a romance, I’d say it was angling for a RITA nomination for Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements. It had plenty of spiritual elements—but most of them weren’t Christian:

Namaste. The light in me sees the light in you.
The ancestors have a lot to teach us.
Kachina Woman, Hera, Kuan Yin, Mary. Whoever she is, she is timeless and omnipotent, representing all things feminine and calming and wise.

Definitely not Christian—and that last quote is in direct contradiction to the Gospel of John, which makes clear that Jesus is the way. Not one of many. Yet there were also lines like this:

Love keeps no record of wrongs.

And:

Jesus experienced the worst. Betrayed by someone he trusted, destroyed by the people he loved. Public shame, humiliation … but despite it all, he chose to love.

No, Perennials doesn’t fit into the shiny bucket that is CBA fiction.

If you’re looking for a typical Christian fiction novel, then I wouldn’t recommend Perennials. But if you’re looking for something that doesn’t fit the Christian norm—perhaps as a gift for a non-Christian friend who appreciates good writing and enjoys books such as Eat, Pray, Love—then Perennials may be a good option.

Perhaps Perennials does present Jesus as an option to be considered rather than as the answer. But in doing that, it may attract readers who wouldn’t ever pick up a ‘Christian’ novel. And if those readers are true to themselves, they will consider Jesus. And I believe we need more books written by Christians for a general market audience, books that address real-world problems and present Jesus as an option.

As Perennials does.

What do you think?

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

About Julie Cantrell

Julie CantrellNew York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author, Julie Cantrell is known for writing inspirational novels that explore the hard truths women typically keep secret. While she delves into emotional issues, she does so with a compassionate and open heart, always bringing readers through to a hopeful path for peace, empathy, and healing.

A speech-language pathologist and literacy advocate, Julie was honored to receive the 2012 Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Fellowship. She also received the 2016 Mary Elizabeth Nelson Fellowship at Rivendell Writer’s Colony, which is awarded to a writer who encourages spiritual growth, healing, and care through his or her work.

Julie and her two children now live in Oxford, Mississippi where they spent six years operating Valley House Farm, a sustainable organic farmstead, before moving into a new adventure.

You can find Julie Cantrell online at:

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About Perennials

When two estranged sisters reunite for their parents’ 50th anniversary, a family tragedy brings unexpected lessons of hope and healing amid the flowers of their mother’s perennial garden.
Eva—known to all as Lovey—grew up safe and secure in Oxford, MS, surrounded by a rich literary history and her mother’s stunning flower gardens. But a shed fire, and the injuries that it caused, seemed to change everything . . . especially when her older sister, Bitsy, blamed Lovey for the irreparable damage.
Bitsy became the cheerleader. The homecoming queen. The perfect Southern belle who could do no wrong. All the while, Lovey served as the family scapegoat, always bearing the brunt when Bitsy threw blame her way.
At eighteen, suffocating in her sister’s shadow, Lovey turned down a marriage proposal and fled to Arizona—a place as far from Mississippi as she could find.
In time, she became a successful advertising executive and a weekend yoga instructor, carving a satisfying life for herself, free from Bitsy’s vicious lies. But now that she’s turning 45, Lovey is feeling more alone than ever and questioning the choices that have led her here.
When she gets a call from her father insisting that she come home three weeks early for her parents’ 50th anniversary, Lovey is at wits’ end. She’s about to close the biggest contract of her career, and there’s a lot on the line. But despite the risks, her father’s words, “Family First,” draw her right back to the red-dirt roads of Mississippi.
Lovey is welcomed home by a secret project—a memory garden her father has planned as an anniversary surprise for her mother. As she helps create this sacred space, Lovey begins to rediscover her roots, learning to live perennially in spite of life’s many trials and tragedies.
Years ago, Lovey chose to leave her family and the South far behind. But now that she’s returned, she’s realizing things at home were not always what they seemed.

You can find Perennials online at:

Amazon US | Amazon AU | Amazon UK

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