Tag: Book Review

Quote from Life After: We worship a God who might not give us the miracle,but He will always give us the comfort.

Book Review | Life After by Katie Ganshert

A year ago, Autumn Manning was the sole survivor of a train crash that killed twenty-two people in Chicago. She still hasn’t recovered. She has nightmares. She hasn’t returned to work. She can barely leave her apartment—except to tend the graves of the twenty-two victims. She’s alive, but not living.

Psychologist and marriage counsellor Paul Elliott lost his wife in the crash. Life has gone on, propelled by the need to raise his two children. It’s not easy, especially as his daughter is twelve and acting out. Then Reese disappears, and Paul finds her in the last place he’d expect: Autumn Manning’s apartment.

Autumn and Paul begin an awkward friendship that begins with Reese but builds as circumstances bring them together. They both still need to heal, and the irony is that they heal through each other, and through a project inspired by Reese.

Life After is strong in every way.

An intriguing concept. A solid plot. Flawed and realistic characters. Excellent writing. A strong Christian message, but without being overwhelming. The story hints at secrets and lies, then reveals them at exactly the right time for maximum impact.

I definitely recommend Life After for readers looking for deeper Christian women’s fiction.

Thanks to WaterBrook and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Katie Ganshert

Katie GanshertAward-winning author, Katie Ganshert, graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison with a degree in education, and worked as a fifth grade teacher for several years before staying home to write full-time. She was born and raised in the Midwest, where she lives with her family. When she’s not busy penning novels or spending time with her people, she enjoys drinking coffee with friends, reading great literature, and eating copious amounts of dark chocolate.

Find Katie Ganshert online at:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter

About Life After

It could have been me.

Snow whirls around an elevated train platform in Chicago. A distracted woman boards the train, takes her seat, and moments later a fiery explosion rips through the frigid air, tearing the car apart in a horrific attack on the city’s transit system. One life is spared. Twenty-two are lost.

A year later, Autumn Manning can’t remember the day of the bombing and she is tormented by grief—by guilt. Twelve months of the question constantly echoing. Why? Why? Why? Searching for answers, she haunts the lives of the victims, unable to rest.

Paul Elliott lost his wife in the train bombing and wants to let the dead rest in peace, undisturbed and unable to cause more pain for his loved ones. He wants normalcy for his twelve-year-old daughter and young son, to see them move beyond the heartbreak. But when the Elliotts and Autumn are unexpectedly forced together, he fears she’ll bring more wreckage in her wake.

In Life After, Katie Ganshert’s most complex and unforgettable novel yet, the stirring prose and authentic characters pose questions of truth, goodness, and ultimate purpose in this emotionally resonant tale.

Find Life After online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Read the introduction to Life After below:

Click here to find Life After and other great Christian fiction at my Amazon shop!

The past has absolutely nothing to do with the future God has in store.

#ThrowbackThursday | The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck by Bethany Turner

It’s ThrowbackThursday! Today I’m resharing my review of The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck, the debut novel from Bethany Turner. This was one of my top recommendations for 2017. Have you read it?

About The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck

Becoming a Christian is the best and worst thing that has ever happened to Sarah Hollenbeck. Best because, well, that’s obvious. Worst because, up to this point, she’s made her very comfortable living as a well-known, bestselling author of steamy romance novels that would leave the members of her new church blushing. Now Sarah is trying to reconcile her past with the future she’s chosen. She’s still under contract with her publisher and on the hook with her enormous fan base for the kind of book she’s not sure she can write anymore. She’s beginning to think that the church might frown on her tithing on royalties from a “scandalous” book. And the fact that she’s falling in love with her pastor doesn’t make things any easier.
With a powerful voice, penetrating insight, and plenty of wit, Bethany Turner explodes onto the scene with a debut that isn’t afraid to deal with the thorny realities of living the Christian life.

Find The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck online at:

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU

ChristianBook | Goodreads

My Review: Wow! Wow! Wow!

I read a lot of books each year—some good, some great—but few that I want to read again. The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck is one.

Sarah McDermott divorces her high school sweetheart-husband after he cheats on her, and goes back to being Sarah Hollenbeck. Only she has no idea who Sarah Hollenbeck is, because she’s been the trophy wife for so long. She joins a book club, writes bad poetry, quits book club, and writes a naughty novel under the pen name of Raine de Bourgh. The novel goes immediately to the top of all the bestseller charts, as do the two sequels (because, donchaknow, that’s what happens to all debut novelists? Not).

And then Sarah Hollenbeck becomes a Christian. She says:

This book could be a detailed story of how my best friend led me to the Lord. It’s a good story … but that isn’t the story I need to tell. This is the story of my feeble attempts to make sense of my life.

Sarah realises she can’t write naughty novels any more. Instead, she joins her one remaining friend at church, where she immediately develops an inappropriate crush on the first guy she meets. Who happens to be the pastor. The married pastor. With a daughter. Oops.

I was picturing myself in his arms and imagining how his lips would feel on mine. And then I remembered that I was in church and that I had become a Christ-follower on Monday.

Fortunately for Sarah, the pastor turns out not to be married but widowed (fortunately for Sarah. Ben is somewhat taken aback at the thought of dating the notorious Raine de Bourgh, but he copes (lol). It’s interesting to watch their relationship unfold, because Ben’s first marriage was everything Sarah’s wasn’t.

Sarah decides to write Christian fiction, so reads some of what’s on sale:

The books I read didn’t feel realistic. At least, they weren’t my reality. Then again, my reality was messed up, so maybe I wasn’t the best judge.

I’ve had a lot of conversations along the same lines—too much Christian fiction doesn’t feel realistic (I’m not counting the suspense genre here. I’m perfectly happy for my reality not to include dead bodies and stalkers, and I’ll trust those authors are presenting their information accurately).

Sarah goes on to make another point that’s recently come up in my reading and freelance editing (yes, I’m a freelance fiction editor specialising in Christian romance): how the women in the books don’t seem to feel desire or temptation. Yes, I’d noticed that as well. In fact, I’ve read Christian romances where the hero and heroine had all the romantic attraction of siblings (that has even more of a yuck factor than a sex scene). I don’t want lots of hot-and-heavy in Christian fiction, but there needs to be some sexual attraction. Otherwise it’s not realistic.

I loved the humor.

There’s a scene where Sarah shares some poetry with her book club. Most are politely complimentary. One woman is not:

What’s with the subjects? It’s like you just flipped through the yellow pages until something jumped out at you. What’s next? Exterminators?
I looked at the papers in my hands and sheepishly shuffled “Insecticide Nuclear Winter” to the bottom of the stack.

And she (Sarah Hollenbeck? Bethany Turner? Both?) has great taste in actors:

Can you believe I couldn’t even get Martin Freeman to give me Benedict Cumberbatch’s phone number?

Yeah. I’ve got to read this again.

Recommended for fans of contemporary romance with humour, from authors such as Kara Isaac, Beth Troy, Becky Wade, and Melissa Tagg.

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

About Bethany Turner

Bethany TurnerBethany Turner has been writing since the second grade, when she won her first writing award for her essay explaining why, if she could have lunch with any person throughout history, she would choose John Stamos. Do-gooders all around her chose Reagan, Thatcher and Gorbachev, but it was Bethany’s ode to Uncle Jesse which walked away with the prize. More than 25 years later, her writing is still infused with pop culture and off-the-beaten-track ideas.

Bethany is a born and bred Kentucky girl who relocated to Colorado in 2001, three years after meeting the love of her life in a chat room, back before anyone knew that wasn’t always a good idea. Thankfully, it worked out in this case, and she and her husband are the proud parents of two boys. In 2014 Bethany walked away from her career as a bank vice president to step out in faith as a writer. Since then, God has not only opened doors in the publishing world, but has also called her to full-time ministry serving on a church staff. She is an innovative systems administrator for a rural church that is passionate about reaching the unchurched.

Find Bethany Turner online at:

Website | BookBub | FacebookInstagram | Pinterest | Twitter

Read the introduction to The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck below:

Quote from The Solace of Water: I thought she was pretty brave and stupid to lie to me—but it made me see her like she a real person and not some perfect Christian who never sinned.

Book Review | The Solace of Water by Elizabeth Byler Younts

The Solace of Water is not your run-of-the-mill Christian fiction.

It’s set in 1956, in the small town of Sinking Creek, Pennsylvania. The writing is excellent, with strong and original character voices. The story is told in first person from the point of view of three main characters: Emma, Delilah, and Sparrow. Each hides secrets and pain. No, this isn’t an easy read (and there should be a trigger warning for self-harm).

Emma is Amish, and has lived in Sinking Creek her entire life. She gives the outward appearance of being a submissive Amish wife, but she’s hiding secrets—her own, and her husband’s. Delilah and her family have recently moved to Sinking Creek from Montgomery, Alabama, but she finds moving doesn’t take away her troubles. Sparrow is Delilah’s daughter. Sparrow knows Delilah blames her for her brother’s death, and knows there is nothing she can do to change that.

Delilah was a difficult character to empathise with.

Sure, she’s grieving the loss of her four-year-old son, but she’s an adult. She shouldn’t blame her daughter, even if her daughter was supposed to be watching the younger children. This provides plenty of conflict between Delilah and Sparrow, and is the impetus behind both Delilah and Sparrow’s developing relationship with Emma.

Emma has her own secrets.

A drunk for a husband, a rebel for a son, and a marriage fractured by hurt. She’s intrigued by this new family in town who worship in such a different way to her, and she’s puzzled at Delilah’s reluctance to befriend her.

I think Sparrow was my favourite character.

She’s the victim, the character who has had little control over the situation she finds herself in. Now she’s struggling to be in control. She is intrigued by Emma and her son, who treat her as equals. But this is 1950s America and segregation is real, whether the physical signs are there or not.

The Solace of Water is a fascinating exploration of racial differences and prejudice set in the early years of the Civil Rights struggle. It emphasises how we’re often afraid of “different”. It shows how it’s important to understand and work through our differences—especially with other Christians.

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

About Elizabeth Byler Younts

Elizabeth Byler YountsElizabeth Byler Younts writes women’s fiction for Harper Collins/Thomas Nelson. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers. She gained a worldwide audience through her first book Seasons: A Real Story of an Amish Girl and is a RITA nominated writer. She is also the author of The Promise of Sunrise series. She has consulted on Amish lifestyle and the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect for two award-winning television shows. Elizabeth lives in Central Pennsylvania with her husband, two daughters, and a cockapoo named Fable.

FInd Elizabeth Byler Younts online at:

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter

About The Solace of Water

In a time of grief and heartache, an unlikely friendship provides strength and solace.

After leaving her son’s grave behind in Montgomery, Alabama, Delilah Evans has little faith that moving to her husband’s hometown in Pennsylvania will bring a fresh start. Enveloped by grief and doubt, the last thing Delilah imagines is becoming friends with her reclusive Amish neighbor, Emma Mullet—yet the secrets that keep Emma isolated from her own community bond her to Delilah in delicate and unexpected ways.

Delilah’s eldest daughter, Sparrow, bears the brunt of her mother’s pain, never allowed for a moment to forget she is responsible for her brother’s death. When tensions at home become unbearable for her, she seeks peace at Emma’s house and becomes the daughter Emma has always wanted. Sparrow, however, is hiding secrets of her own—secrets that could devastate them all.

With the white, black, and Amish communities of Sinking Creek at their most divided, there seems to be little hope for reconciliation. But long-buried hurts have their way of surfacing, and Delilah and Emma find themselves facing their own self-deceptions. Together they must learn how to face the future through the healing power of forgiveness.

Eminently relevant to the beauty and struggle in America today, The Solace of Water offers a glimpse into the turbulent 1950s and reminds us that friendship rises above religion, race, and custom—and has the power to transform a broken heart.

Find The Solace of Water online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Read the introduction to The Solace of Water below:

Click here to find The Solace of Water and other great Christian fiction in my Amazon shop!

#Throwback Thursday | Book Review | Medical Judgement by Richard Mabry

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m resharing my review of Medical Judgement by Richard Mabry … partly as a reminder that I need to read and review his latest release, Guarded Prognosis! This review first appeared at Iola’s Christian Reads in June 2016.

Quality Medical Thriller

Medical Judgement is a standalone medical thriller, but the focus is definitely on the thriller side rather than the medical (which is good news for all those who turn away from the gory parts on TV shows like House).

Dr Sarah Gordon has recently lost her husband and daughter in a car accident, and is having trouble getting past the grief. She’s woken one night by smoke in the house–someone has lit a pile of oily rags in her garage. It’s more annoying than dangerous, but it’s the start of a chain of events: someone is after her.

As with all good thrillers, we get an early insight into the mind of the perpetrator so we know what he’s planning while Sarah–his intended victim–doesn’t. What we don’t know is his identity, which means the tension ramps up every time a new male character is introduced and we ask if this is the whacko. Sarah is an excellent character, weak at first but who gradually grows stronger as she decides she’s going to get past her grief and not let this guy win.

There are some excellent supporting characters as well: Bill Larson, the recovering alchoholic detective with a broken marriage. Kyle Andrews, a friend of Sarah’s husband who seems to want to get a little too close to Sarah. Steve Farber, Sarah’s pastor and another recovering alcoholic.

And the plot made sense (thankfully. The last Richard Mabry novel I read left me feeling confused as to the identity and motive of the perpetrator), and I enjoyed the subtle Christian themes woven into the story.

Thanks to Abingdon Press and NetGalley 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 Medical Judgement

Someone is after Dr. Sarah Gordon. They’ve stalked her and set a fire at her home. Trying to recover from the traumatic deaths of her husband and infant daughter is tough enough, but she has no idea what will come next. Her late husband’s best friend and a recovering alcoholic detective are trying to solve the mystery before it’s too late, but both appear to be vying for her affection as well. Sarah finds herself in constant fear as the process plays out.

As the threats on her life continue to escalate, so do the questions: Who is doing this? Why are they after her? And with her only help being unreliable suitors in competition with each other, whom can she really trust?

Find Medical Judgement online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Read the introduction to Medical Judgement below:

Click here to check out Medical Judgement and more great Christian fiction at my Amazon shop!

#ThrowbackThursday | The Governess of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky

For fans of Downton Abbey (isn’t that everyone?)

Illness has forced the Foster family to return to England from their missionary school and orphanage in India. Julia gains employment at Highland House, the home of Sir William Ramsay, as governess to his children, Andrew and Millicent, and to his teenage cousins and wards, Katharine and Penelope.

Sir William is looking for a governess who won’t mind staying in the country, because he has only recently inherited Highland Hall, and the death duties are placing a lot of financial pressure on him. Julia hasn’t told him she plans on returning to India with her family as soon as her father is well again, and as she spends more time at Highland Hall, getting to know Sir William and his family, she has to rethink her future plans.

The story and characters captured my attention from the start.

I like an intelligent heroine who isn’t afraid to have her own opinions, so I liked Julia. William was a man with many troubles, but made a fitting hero. I liked the romantic subplot featuring Sarah, William’s sister, and I liked the Christian aspect of the story—Julia, especially, has a strong Christian faith (she’s partly modelled on Amy Carmichael, a real-life missionary to India).

The novel combines elements of classic British fiction like Jane Eyre with the Edwardian era, made fashionable by the TV series Downton Abbey. I’m a huge fan of Downton Abbey and fiction set in England, and it always bugs me when I’m pulled out of the story by silly factual errors, or by English characters using American vocabulary (like fall or pavement). Carrie Turansky contacted me to ask if I’d read her draft to find any such errors. I was pleased to help, and can only hope I found them all!

The Governess of Highland Hall is the first of a trilogy. Recommended.

About Carrie Turansky

Carrie TuranskyBestselling Inspirational Romance Author Carrie Turansky writes historical and contemporary novels and novellas set in England and the US. She has won the ACFW Carol Award, the Holt Medallion, and the International Digital Award. Readers say her stories are: “Heartwarming and inspiring! I couldn’t put it down!” . . . “Touching love story. It captured me from the first page! Rich characters, beautifully written” . . . “My new favorite author!”

Find Carrie Turansky online at:

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter

About The Governess of Highland Hall

Worlds lie between the marketplaces of India and the halls of a magnificent country estate like Highland Hall. Will Julia be able to find her place when a governess is neither upstairs family nor downstairs help?

Missionary Julia Foster loves working alongside her parents, ministering and caring for young girls in India. But when the family must return to England due to illness, she readily accepts the burden for her parents’ financial support. Taking on a job at Highland Hall as governess, she quickly finds that teaching her four privileged, ill-mannered charges at a grand estate is more challenging than expected, and she isn’t sure what to make of the estate’s preoccupied master, Sir William Ramsey.

Widowed and left to care for his two young children and his deceased cousin Randolph’s two teenage girls, William is consumed with saving the estate from the financial ruin. The last thing he needs is any distraction coming from the kindhearted-yet-determined governess who seems to be quietly transforming his household with her persuasive personality, vibrant prayer life, and strong faith.

While both are tending past wounds and guarding fragile secrets, Julia and William are determined to do what it takes to save their families—common ground that proves fertile for unexpected feelings. But will William choose Julia’s steadfast heart and faith over the wealth and power he needs to secure Highland Hall’s future?

Find The Governess of Highland Hall online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Read the introduction to The Governess of Highland Hall below:

Click here to find The Governess of Highland Hall and other great Christian fiction in my Amazon shop!

Book Review | Hidden Among the Stars by Melanie Dobson

Wow.

Hidden Among the Stars is a powerful dual timeline story—definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year.

The past story begins in Austria in 1938, just after Adolf Hitler has annexed the country.

Anyone who knows anything of twentieth century history suspects this isn’t going to end well. Max is the only son of a well-off Vienna banker. Luzi is the Jewish violinist he loves, and Annika is the daughter of a family servant … who loves Max.

The present story is that of Calisandra Anne Randall.

Callie is the half-owner of a children’s bookstore in small-town Ohio. The bookstore has been Callie’s refuge since she was a child. Now she’s making it a place where the next generation of children meet and come to love some of her favourite fictional characters.

Callie sells both new and secondhand books, and often finds things hidden in the books she sells. But Bambi is different. It’s not just the photograph hidden inside the book that captures her attention. It’s the German words written between the lines of the book. Callie’s attempts to find the story behind the book lead her to Austria and a mystery that’s almost eighty years old.

There were so many things that impressed me about Hidden in the Stars.

The way the two plot lines intertwined and intersected. The characters. The writing. The excellent historical research. The faith aspect. It all adds up to a lot more than the cover promised. And I was equally invested in the past and present stories, which is rare. (Yes, I’m one of those readers who usually wants to skip forward and read only half the story.)

Quote from Hidden Among the Stars: My story is the same as any other in that no one owns it except me. And it’s filled with threads of achievements and regrets.

The writing was excellent. My writer/editor self I was especially impressed by the way the author combined first person present tense for the contemporary story with third person past tense for the historical story. Mixing first and third person is not a technique for beginners. Mixing present and past tense is even more impressive. That Melanie Dobson managed to do both seamlessly is outstanding writing.

The historical research never overwhelmed the story. It was good to read a novel set in Austria rather than the more traditional Germany. And it was wonderful to read a story that didn’t have any obvious historical inaccuracies yet managed to share new information. (The author’s note at the end explained a couple of things I’d wondered about.)

I was also impressed by the way the Christian elements were woven into the plot.

The first half had very few religious references—Jewish or Christian. The second half brought out many truths about the nature of God, and the nature of good and evil. Unfortunately, World War II taught us a lot about evil … if we care to learn.

Recommended for fans of dual timeline stories with a hint of romance from authors like Kristy Cambron, Heidi Chiavaroli, and Cathy Gohlke.

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

About Melanie Dobson

Author photo - Melanie DobsonWriting fiction is Melanie Dobson’s excuse to explore abandoned houses, travel to unique places, and spend hours reading old books and journals. The award-winning author of twenty novels, Melanie enjoys stitching together both time-slip and historical stories including Catching the Wind, Enchanted Isle, Beneath a Golden Veil, and the Legacy of Love novels.

Chateau of Secrets received a Carol Award for historical fiction, Catching the Wind’s audiobook won the 2018 Audie for Inspirational Novel, and The Black Cloister was ForeWord’s Book of the Year for Religious Fiction. Her next time-slip novel, Hidden Among the Stars, comes out in September.

Melanie and her husband, Jon, have two daughters. After moving numerous times with Jon’s work, the Dobson family has finally settled near Portland, Oregon, and they love to travel and hike in both the mountains and the cliffs above the Pacific. When Melanie isn’t writing, she enjoys exploring ghost towns and dusty back roads, dancing, and reading stories with her girls.

Find Melanie Dobson online at:

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest | Twitter

About Hidden Among the Stars

The year is 1938, and as Hitler’s troops sweep into Vienna, Austrian Max Dornbach promises to help his Jewish friends hide their most valuable possessions from the Nazis, smuggling them to his family’s summer estate near the picturesque village of Hallstatt. He enlists the help of Annika Knopf, his childhood friend and the caretaker’s daughter, who is eager to help the man she’s loved her entire life.

But when Max also brings Luzia Weiss, a young Jewish woman, to hide at the castle, it complicates Annika’s feelings and puts their entire plan—even their very lives—in jeopardy. Especially when the Nazis come to scour the estate and find both Luzia and the treasure gone.

Eighty years later, Callie Randall is mostly content with her quiet life, running a bookstore with her sister and reaching out into the world through her blog. Then she finds a cryptic list in an old edition of Bambithat connects her to Annika’s story . . . and maybe to the long-buried story of a dear friend. As she digs into the past, Callie must risk venturing outside the safe world she’s built for a chance at answers, adventure, and maybe even new love.

Find Hidden Among the Stars at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Read the introduction to Hidden Among the Stars below:

Click here to check out Hidden Among the Stars and other great Christian fiction at  my Amazon shop.

Have you read any of Melanie Dobson’s novels? What did you think?

Quote from Formula of Deception: He was the most strikingly handsome man she had ever seen. The only flaw on him was the wedding ring on his finger.

Book Review | Formula of Deception by Carrie Stuart Parks

I thought Formula of Deception was another story in the Gwen Marcey series, so was initially surprised when I realised it’s a standalone novel with all new characters. This perception wasn’t helped by the pages of praise for the Gwen Marcey series at the beginning of the book. It also wasn’t a romance, despite my quote above!

Anyway, it took me a little longer to get in to Formula of Deception, because I kept waiting for Gwen to show up. Spoiler: she doesn’t, because the book isn’t about her.

Formula of Deception begins on April Fool’s Day on a small island of the coast of Alaska as an earthquake then tsunami hit. It then moves to the present day, where Murphy Andersen has got a job as a police artist on Kodiak Island, Alaska. She’s drawing a decades-old murder scene, based on the memories of a dying priest.

Murphy was a fascinating character.

There is obviously some unknown trauma in her history, and this unfolds gradually as the plot progresses, as her personal story collides with the story of the dead bodies … and there are soon more dead bodies. A murderer is on the loose … but is this related to the priest’s memories, Murphy’s own personal history, or something else?

Murphy is hiding details about her personal history from her police colleagues, and it’s not always easy to find the truth in her words, thoughts, and actions. This makes the book a challenge, but is also a strength, as it highlights the tension and the suspense. And there is plenty of suspense.

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

About Carrie Stuart Parks

Carrie Stuart ParksCarrie Stuart Parks is a Christy finalist as well as a Carol award-winning author. She has won numerous awards for her fine art as well. An internationally known forensic artist, she travels with her husband, Rick, across the US and Canada teaching courses in forensic art to law enforcement professionals. The author/illustrator of numerous books on drawing and painting, Carrie continues to create dramatic watercolors from her studio in the mountains of Idaho.

Find Carrie Stuart Parks online at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

About Formula of Deception

An artist hiding from an escaped killer uncovers one of World War II’s most dangerous secrets—a secret that desperate men will do anything to keep hidden.

After the murder of her twin sister, Murphy Anderson changed her name and appearance and moved to Kodiak, Alaska, to avoid the press and publicity. But when local authorities discover she’s an artist and request her help in drawing a dying man’s memories, she unintentionally ends up in the limelight again—and back in the killer’s crosshairs.

The deathbed confessions of an Alaskan hunter have Murphy drawing the five bodies he discovered on remote Ruuwaq Island ten years ago. But what investigators find has them mystified. Evidence suggests that the bodies were deliberately destroyed, and what they uncover in an abandoned Quonset hut from World War II only brings more questions.

As one by one the investigators who were at the hut die, Murphy knows there is something much darker at stake. What happened on this island during the war? And who is willing to kill to keep its secrets buried?

Find Formula of Deception online:

AmazonChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Read the introduction to Formula of Deception below:

Read my review of Portrait of Vengeance by Carrie Stuart Parks

Read my review of When Death Draws Near by Carrie Stuart Parks

#ThrowbackThursday | Pointe and Shoot by Alison Stone

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m sharing my review of Pointe and Shoot by Alison Stone. This review originally appeared at Suspense Sisters Reviews (which has now been retired).

Pointe and Shoot is a great title, and one that had me hooked from the opening line.

I knew something bad was going to happen. Sure enough, it did.

Everyone thinks Miss Melinda’s death is an unfortunate accident, but her boss, Jayne, isn’t so sure. But no one wants to listen when she says she believes Miss Melinda was lured onto the dark lakeside road. Not the police chief, not her policeman brothers, and not even Danny, her dead brother’s patrol partner.

This is where it got clever. Most of the novel is written in third person from Jayne’s point of view. But some chapters were written in first person, from the point of view of the unknown assailant.

So the reader knows it was murder. Kind of …

I thought the use of first person here was inspired, because it meant we knew nothing about the assailant, not even their gender. Clever!

Miss Natalie, the owner of the ballet school and Jayne’s mother, has Alzheimer’s. It’s a horrible affliction, and I was impressed with the sensitive way it was portrayed, and with Jayne’s unfailing patience with her mother—on her good days, and her not-so-good days. I did, however, have less charitable thoughts towards Jayne’s brothers for some of their attitudes …

There were a few annoying writing niggles—overuse of words like “noticed” (I always figure if I notice a word, it’s been used enough that I notice the word over the writing). And I would have liked a little more of the developing romance between Jayne and Danny—it did feel like this got left behind in the suspense plot. Hey, I like my romantic suspense to have plenty of romance as well as plenty of suspense!

But don’t let that put you off. Pointe and Shoot was an excellent suspense (with romantic overtones), set in a ballet school run by a non-ballerina who once wanted to be a police officer. And which ended with a tantalizing hint that this might be the first book in a series. If so, I’ll be back for more.

About Alison Stone

Author Photo: Alison StoneAlison Stone discovered her love of writing after leaving a corporate engineering job to raise four children.

Constantly battling the siren call of social media, Alison blocks the Internet and hides her smartphone in order to write fast-paced books filled with suspense and romance

Married for almost twenty-five years, Alison lives in Western New York, where the summers are gorgeous and the winters are perfect for curling up with a book—or writing one.

Find Alison Stone online at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

About Pointe and Shoot

Jayne Murphy has always put family first. That’s why she abandoned her dream of joining the police force to run her ailing mother’s dance studio.

When one of the studio’s most talented instructors dies in a car crash, Jayne isn’t convinced it was just an accident. Relentlessly pursuing her hunch, she teams up with Officer Danny Nolan, the best friend and partner of her brother Patrick, who died in the line of duty. Haunted by Patrick’s death, Danny has begun to question whether he should still be a cop at all.

As Jayne digs deeper, suspects emerge, including the victim’s clingy ex-boyfriend and a jealous foe from the cutthroat dance world. Her evolving insights into the case rekindle Jayne’s passion for police work. Danny, too, feels a renewed sense of purpose…and a definite attraction to his unofficial partner, which seems to be mutual. Now, if Jayne can only keep herself out of harm’s way, she and Danny both might get a second chance—with their careers and each other.

Find Pointe and Shoot online at:

Amazon | Goodreads

Read the introduction to Pointe and Shoot below:

Quote from Darkwater Secrets by Robin Caroll: Just because someone doesn't believe something doesn't make it less real.

Book Review | Darkwater Secrets by Robin Caroll

Adelaide Fontaine is the General Manager of the Darkwater Inn in New Orleans, but she might not be for much longer. Not if her boss has his way. She is—unknowingly—being pursued by two men: Beau, a police officer and longtime family friend, and Dimitri, the son of the hotel’s owner, who wants to be a chef rather than follow the management path his father has laid out for him.

As if that wasn’t complicated enough, life is about to get more complicated when a body is discovered in one of the hotel’s rooms … and the body has links to Adelaide’s hidden past.

Adelaide, Beau, and Dimitri are all great characters (and I usually loathe the love triangle plot).

There is plenty of action, plenty of secrets, and plenty of clues to consider as I wondered who-dun-it. What’s most interesting is that finding the culprit wasn’t the end of the story—it was almost as though the murder were the vehicle to explore some deeper personal issues …

There are elements of romance, suspense, mystery, plenty of secrets and even a little voodoo. Yes, voodoo in a Christian novel. As one of the characters says, the Bible wouldn’t need to warn us against demons and evil if they didn’t exist. All in all, an excellent novel, and I’m definitely looking forward to the sequel.

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

About Robin Caroll

Robin Caroll grew up in Louisiana with her nose in a book. She still has the complete Trixie Belden series, and her love for mysteries and suspense has only increased with her age. Robin’s passion has always been to tell stories to entertain others and come alongside them on their faith journey—aspects Robin weaves into each of her published novels.

Best-selling author of thirty-plus novels, ROBIN CAROLL writes Southern stories of mystery and suspense, with a hint of romance to entertain readers. Her books have been recognized in several awards, including the Carol Award, HOLT Medallion, Daphne du Maurier, RT Reviewer’s Choice Award, and more.

When she isn’t writing, Robin spends quality time with her husband of nearly three decades, her three beautiful daughters and two handsome grandsons, and their character-filled pets at home in the South. Robin serves the writing community as Executive/Conference Director for ACFW.

Find Robin Caroll online at:

WebsiteFacebook | Instagram | Tumblr | Twitter

About Darkwater Secrets

A murder investigation uncovers sordid secrets and haunting mistakes

The Darkwater Inn stands tall and proud in the French Quarter, the hub of New Orleans. Bourbon Street is bustling, and General Manager Adelaide Fountaine has her hands full with a hotel at capacity. She, along with everyone else, is shocked when a body is found: a hotel guest stabbed with a kitchen knife.

Detective Beau Savoie, Adelaide’s childhood friend, is on the case. As Beau digs into the victim’s past, he unearths a shocking connection between Adelaide and the murdered guest. Beau is hurt that his friend—the woman he’s quietly loved for years—kept the truth from him. To make matters worse, the stress of the investigation has sent Adelaide right into the comforting arms of her coworker Dimitri. But Beau can’t press Adelaide too hard . . . he’s keeping secrets of his own.

Can Adelaide and Beau afford to hide from the truth with a killer on the loose?

Find Darkwater Secrets online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Read the introduction to Darkwater Secrets below:

From Lone Witness by Rachel Dylan: Guilty. That's the only possible verdict.

Book Review | Lone Witness (Atlanta Justice #2) by Rachel Dylan

Sophie Dawson is a prosecutor in the White Collar Crime Unit, working on financial fraud cases. It should be less dangerous than criminal prosecutions, and it is … until she witnesses a robbery that leaves two people dead, and identifies the perpetrator as the brother of one of the city’s gang leaders. And she’s the lone witness.

I really enjoyed Deadly Proof, the first book in Rachel Dylan’s Atlanta Justice series.

But I didn’t enjoy Lone Witness as much. I enjoyed the legal aspect from Sophie’s viewpoint, but did find the number of point of view characters distracting as it wasn’t obvious why I was seeing their side of the story.

And I wasn’t altogether convinced by the romance subplot—it all felt a little too contrived, rather than reading like a natural development. It wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t the standard I’d expected after reading Deadly Proof. I think that was partly the fault of the dialogue, which seemed a little too formal, too wooden, for characters who were supposed to be falling in love.

The legal thriller/suspense element to Lone Witness was well done.

The suspense is enhanced as the reader soon understands what Sophie and Cooper don’t know: that Sophie had two separate sets of enemies … and that the attacks on her life weren’t coming from where she and Cooper thought. There was a neat twist at the end of the story that I didn’t see coming, so that was well done.

I also enjoyed the legal aspects, which showcased the author’s own legal experience in Grisham-worthy courtroom scenes. Overall, I’m sure legal suspense fans will enjoy Lone Witness.

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

About Rachel Dylan

Author Photo - Rachel Dylan

Rachel Dylan was a litigator in one of the nation’s most elite law firms for over eight years and now works as an attorney at one of the Big Three automobile manufacturers. She is the author of four Love Inspired Suspense novels and lives in Michigan with her husband.

Find Rachel Dylan online at:

Website | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter | Goodreads

About Lone Witness

Prosecutor Sophie Dawson’s first job in the White Collar division of the Fulton County D.A.’s office is to build a case against a local bank employee who may be cheating clients. But when circumstances beyond her control leave her as the only witness to a double homicide involving a vengeful gang, her world is turned upside down.

Former Atlanta police officer turned private security guard Cooper Knight is hired to ensure that Sophie is kept safe. But as threats escalate, they don’t know who they can trust.

Sophie is determined not to back down, but her bank case gets more complicated by the day, and the gang will stop at nothing to keep her from testifying. Sophie wants to take a stand for what’s right–but can Cooper, who is determined not to be distracted by their growing attraction, keep her safe so that she can finish her pursuit for justice?

You can find Lone Witness online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Read the introduction to Lone Witness below: