Monday, 18 September 2017

Behind the Scenes by Jen Turano

Back Cover: After spending the last six years banished to the wallflower section of the ballroom, Miss Permilia Griswold has finally figured out a way to pass the time at all the New York high-society events she attends. Under the pseudonym "Miss Quill," she is the author of society gossip columns filled with tidbits only an insider in society--albeit one on the fringes--would know. 

When she overhears a threat against Mr. Asher Rutherford, the owner of one of the most up-and-coming department stores in the city, she's determined to warn him. But the irritatingly handsome man doesn't believe her, leaving her no choice but to take matters into her own hands. What she doesn't anticipate is that she'll end up putting herself at risk in the process--or that she and Mr. Rutherford, a man with secrets of his own, just might end up joining forces after all.

Review: What a tongue-in-cheek, hilarious romance these ridiculously ironic characters find themselves in! This whole novel was so mock-serious. If you stop and really look at the story line and concentrate what these two are actually saying, you won't be able to stop laughing. This was a really fun read that had me groaning and shaking my head the whole way. 

Jen Turano specializes in writing sweet, hilarious romances set in colonial America. This book is no exception. What is unique to Behind the Scenes, however, is the sly humour that threads its way through its entirety. This was truly a funny book, but definitely in a tongue-in-cheek way. I enjoyed it.

Thank-you to Graf Martin Communications and Baker Publishing House for a complimentary copy of this novel. 

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Dark Deception by Nancy Mehl

Back Cover: Kate O'Brien's quiet life in small-town Shelter Cove, Arkansas is shaken when her past suddenly comes roaring back to life. Four years ago, she and her twin sister were attacked by an elusive serial killer. Only Kate survived, and she's been in witness protection ever since.

When new evidence arises to suggest the convicted man wasn't the murderer, she's subpoenaed to testify in the new trial. Afraid to go back into that world, Kate only agrees if Tony DeLuca, the deputy Marshal who protected her during the original trial, escorts her to St. Louis. 

Tony readily takes on the assignment; Kate's beauty and inner strength made more of an impression on him than he expected. But when Kate's safety is threatened, Tony must race against the clock to keep her alive and put this ugly case to rest before anyone else gets killed.

The second book in the Defenders of Justice series by Nancy Mehl did not disappoint. Following on the heals of Fatal Frost (See the link HERE ) Dark Deception maintains the clever, fast paced action that I loved in the first book. Nancy Mehl has a knack for turning out a nail-biting thriller and the book had me hooked from the first page to the very last.

In addition to being wonderfully entertaining, Dark Deception never failed to give honor to God. I say this because the characters were reminded of Biblical principles during their struggles and also grew in their faith throughout the story. It was wonderful to see a Christian author seamlessly weave a Christ filled message into her story. Too often these days "Christian" authors get by with only a brief (if that) mention of God. Bravo, Nancy Mehl!

I do have a warning for those wanting to read this book, however.... I had to turn all the lights on while reading it and I was jumpy for hours after finishing it. The story totally hooked me and the 'bad guys' were certainly twisted! So, stand warned: You will likely have to finish it in one sitting and you'll want to tuck your feet safely up on the couch while devouring this mystery.

Thank-you to Graf Martin Communications and to Baker Publishing House for a complimentary copy of Dark Deception in exchange for my honest opinion.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Over Maya Dead Body, by Sanrda Orchard

Review: The third book in the Serena Jones Mystery series is finally out!! I feel like I've been waiting for this book for ages. I do have a bone to pick with Sandra Orchard though... Over Maya Dead Body kept me up until 4 am last night... and now I'm dog-tired and grumpy. HOWEVER, it was totally worth it and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.  

I have loved the character of Serena Jones since book one, and she continues to delight and amuse with this third book. Serena is blithely naive when it comes to the men in her life. In her mind, romance can wait until she has solved the crime in front of her and most importantly, the  crime of her grandfather's death. However, Nate and Tanner aren't about to wait for the world's problems to be rectified before battling it out over Serena's heart. Vastly different, the two men do their best to one-up each other in the contest for Serena's affections while trying their utmost to maintain their gentlemanly behavior (be warned, you will laugh out loud reading this book). Of course, Serena doesn't catch onto half of what's going on as her nose is to the ground chasing clues. 

And if having a wonderful female lead isn't good enough there is Serena's ridiculously quirky crime-solving great aunt. She is probably my favourite character. She may be old, but with her fiery disposition and keen sense, she is a worthy sidekick for her reluctant niece. 

I would highly recommend this entire series (and of course, Over Maya Dead Body) to anyone who wants a really fun, fast paced, clean, non-gory, humorous mystery.

Back Cover: Crime doesn't take a vacation

FBI Special Agent Serena Jones arrives on Martha's Vineyard with her family, ready for a bit of R & R and a lot of reminiscing as they celebrate the engagement of an old family friend. But when a suspicious death tied to an antiquities smuggling ring interrupts her picture-perfect trip, she's soon entangled in the investigation.

Propelled into danger, Serena must stay the course and solve this case before anyone else dies. But just how is she supposed to do that when the two men in her life arrive on the scene, bringing with them a boatload of romantic complications--and even a secret or two?

Note: I received a free copy from the publisher and Graf Martin Communications. No review, positive or otherwise, was required—all opinions are my own

All Saints, the Movie

This movie really surprised me. 

For no particular reason, I didn't have high hopes for this film, but I was in the mood for a good Christian movie so I signed up to review it. All Saints more than delivered. It was encouraging, faith inspiring, clean, and motivating. The acting was very well done and the story is certainly one worth hearing.

Without giving too much away, All Saints is about a preacher who is assigned to a church for the sole purpose of prepping it to sell. The twelve remaining members of the church are grieved that their beloved church home is going to be sold. The preacher, in attempts to mollifying the congregation, puts up a few posters to advertise the church. What no one expects is that about a hundred starving refugees from the war torn Burma area answer the call and come walking into the service Sunday morning. The resulting adventure is nothing short of incredible and the movie does a fantastic job of bringing this true story to life. 

I would highly recommend this movie, and I plan to watch it with my whole family when it comes to theaters on August 25th.

Click HERE to watch the movie trailer.

And here is what the producer has to say about the film:
ALL SAINTS is based on the inspiring true story of salesman-turned-pastor Michael Spurlock (John Corbett), the tiny church he was ordered to shut down, and a group of refugees from Southeast Asia. Together, they risked everything to plant seeds for a future that might just save them all.
After trading in his corporate sales career to become a pastor, Michael’s first assignment is All Saints, a quaint country church with a dozen members. It comes with a catch: he has to close the church doors for good and sell the prime piece of land on which it sits. While developers eagerly eye the property and the congregation mourns the inevitable, Michael and his family look forward to moving on to an established church where they can put down roots.
But when the church hesitantly begins welcoming Karen (kuh-REN) refugees from Burma—former farmers striving for a fresh start in America—Michael feels called to an improbable new mission. Toiling alongside the Karen people, the congregation attempts to turn their fertile land into a working farm to pay the church’s bills and feed its newest people.
Jeopardizing his family’s future by ignoring his superiors, Michael must choose between completing what he was assigned to do—close the church and sell the property—or listening to a still, small voice challenging the people of All Saints to risk it all and provide much-needed hope to their new community.

Movie has been provided courtesy of Sony Entertainment Releasing Canada and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

With You Always by Jody Hedlund

Could Following the Opportunity of a Lifetime Cost Them the Love of Their Lives?
One of the many immigrants struggling to survive in 1850s New York, Elise Neumann knows she must take action to care for her younger sisters. She finds a glimmer of hope when the New York Children's Aid Society starts sending skilled workers to burgeoning towns out west. But the promise of the society's orphan trains is not all that it seems.

Born into elite New York society, Thornton Quincy possesses everything except the ability to step out from his brother's shadow. When their ailing father puts forth a unique challenge to determine who will inherit his railroad-building empire, Thornton finally sees his chance. The conditions to win? Be the first to build a sustainable community along the Illinois Central Railroad and find a suitable wife.

Thrown together against all odds, Elise and Thornton couldn't be from more different worlds. The spark that ignites between them is undeniable, but how can they let it grow when that means forfeiting everything they've been working toward?

Review: I have read quite a few books about the orphan trains that carried children across North American. Often times, these children were not orphans, but children who's families were so destitute they could not afford to feed them. These youngsters were shipped across the continent in hopes that they would find loving homes in the country. However, much like in this book, most of the children found heartache and abuse as people took them in for the free labour they provided. 

In With You Always, a group of siblings looses their parents and they are left alone to fend for themselves. The eldest ones are almost grown, but they are not quite old enough to have a secure enough job to support all their siblings. Elise, the eldest, boards a train in hopes of finding a job, but with no one to look after her younger siblings, things unravel quickly. 

This is a sweet love story that really tugged at my heart strings. Thorton is certainly the dashing hero and Elise the capable but feminine damsel in distress. I'm looking forward to reading the next book to find out what happens to the younger ones....

Thank-you to Graf Martin Communications and to Baker Publishing House for a complimentary copy of this novel. 

Invitation by Bill Myers, Fank Peretti, Angela Hunt and Alton Gansky

Four Strangers with Gifts They Don't Understand. 
A World Falling into Darkness. 
This is Harbingers.

You're invited on a journey of suspense and the supernatural as four of your favorite bestselling authors team up for a unique series. 

From the minds of Bill Myers, Frank Peretti, Angela Hunt, and Alton Gansky, Invitation compiles the first four episodes of Harbingers, each following a different character. 

BRENDA --t he street-hustling tattoo artist who sees images of the future
THE PROFESSOR -- the atheist ex-priest ruled by logic
ANDI -- the professor's brilliant but geeky assistant who sees inexplicable patterns
TANK -- the naïve, big-hearted jock with a surprising connection to a healing power

Brought together for the first time in "The Call," the four soon realize pockets of darkness are emerging throughout the world. Whether it involves a mysterious house, the unexplainable death of animals around the world, or an otherworldly little girl, each puzzle they solve brings them closer to the ultimate explanation of what's happening. But will they discover the truth in time?

Review: I haven't been this excited about a book since Patrick Carr's last novel! Invitation had me spellbound and kept me turning the pages until 2am. I've been telling all my friends about this amazing new series and urging them to pick up a copy ASAP. 

What is really neat about Invitation is its uniqueness. I have read hundreds (probably thousands) of books, but I haven't ever seen one quite like this, and that makes me very excited. Invitation has one overarching story that is split into four smaller stories - each one written from a different character's point of view and by a different author. I had my doubts about how this would turn out, but they were unfounded. This book reads like a riveting TV series and is SO much fun! I hope this team of authors keeps this new series going for a good long while. I have a feeling it will be a long time before I'm tired of these four adventures.

Speaking of the characters...the concept behind their adventures is very cool (if not a little unnerving). This book delves into "the behind the scenes" events. A second dimension. Do you know what I'm talking about? Angels, demons, forces that play a role in this world but that we can't see. Brenda, the Professor, Andi, and Tank each have their own unique ability to battle against an unseen evil that is rising in the world. As events start happening with increasing frequency, these four are thrust together in the most unlikely but miraculous fashions. I don't want to give anything away...but like I said, I couldn't put this book down. I highly recommend it.

Thank-you to Graf Martin Communication and to Baker Publishing House for a complimentary copy of this book. 

Saturday, 8 July 2017

The Captain's Daughter by Jennifer Delamere

London, 1879

Forced to Leave All She Loves Behind, She Seeks a New Life in a City Bursting with Opportunity, But Fraught with Danger

When a series of circumstances beyond her control leaves Rosalyn Bernay alone and penniless in London, she chances upon a job backstage at a theater putting on the most popular show in the city. A talented musician and singer, she feels immediately at home and soon becomes enthralled with the idea of pursuing a career on the stage. That is, as long as the shadows from her past don't catch up with her.

After a hand injury forces Nate Moran from his army regiment in India, he returns home to London, a place that holds bitter memories. He agrees to fill in temporarily as a stagehand while his brother recuperates from a broken leg, but Nate is counting down the days until he can rejoin his regiment. His future is decided--until he meets a beautiful woman who has found a new lease on life in the very place Nate yearns to leave behind.

Review: I just finished a very pleasant morning with this novel ... despite the fact it's 5 am. I couldn't sleep, but this book turned a rather unfortunate bout of insomnia into a happy thing. It took me a little longer than usual to get into this book (may have been the insomnia), but by the middle I didn't want to put it down. The book starts off with a bang, but I wasn't invested in the characters enough to really care too much about their dramatic dilemmas. However, as the pages turned I grew more familiar with the lead lady, Rosalyn Bernay and the handsome soldier, Nate Moran, and I really began to take a keen interest in the story.

Rosalyn is a sweet and genuine young lady who sees the world through delighted eyes. For the most part, people are kind to her and take up her cause to help her get settled in the new town. She is certainly naive, but that is part of her charm.

Nate is a battle hardened soldier, but he has a soft spot for family. Of an age similar to his sister, Rosalyn with her sweet smiles quickly work their way beneath his tough exterior. Their budding affection is slow and natural, and it did not feel forced (forced romance = pet peeve of mine!). Their relationship really did bloom organically, and for that I am grateful to the author.

The book is well written and I can tell the author really did take care with how she wrote this book. It's well done. The dialogue reads well and is believable. Last, but not least, the historic elements of this story ring true and I can tell that a good amount of research was done in the penning of this book. All in all it was a good read and I would recommend it. 

Thank-you to Graf Martin Communications and to Baker Publishing House for a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.