Sunday, May 1, 2016

march - april 2016

a note from me:
happy spring, dear reading friend!!!

spring can be a bit unpredicable here. it snowed in march and in april and there have been pockets of warm weather and heavy rains in between!

as i watch the trees in the neighborhood begin to bud and turn green, i'm reminded that growth is a vital part of every living thing. when it comes to my faith, i am challenged to stretch in ways that will make me grow closer to my savior. part of that challenge means spending more time in his word and really reading familiar passages with fresh eyes. i want to read the bible before i read anything else in my day and when i succeed, my day goes so much better!

i'm excited about the fiction and non-fiction books i've been able to review for you these last two months!!! i hope you'll love them as much as i have!!!

remember you are loved. zephaniah 3:17 says, "for the Lord you God is in your midst. he is a mighty savior. he will take delight in you with gladness. with his love, he will calm all your fears. he will rejoice over you with joyful songs."

happy reading with blessings & love!!!

your reading mom,

susan
jer. 29:11


fiction

always watching by lynette easton is book 1 in her new series, elite guardians. this fast paced thriller is about obsessive love and it is c-r-e-e-p-y! the elite guardian agency is an all-female squad with specialized skills and each one has contacts and resources to bring to the table. when they're hired to protect popular psychiatrist and radio personality wade savage, their skills and resources will be tested to the limits. it's a race against time and olivia edwards and her team must deliver before it's too late. this was a great and gripping (as in me gripping my seat!) read!


annabel lee by mike nappa is a coffey & hill novel that is suspenseful and gripping. it's one of those stories that slowly fills you with anxiety as you try to get to the end of this fast paced plot! annabel can speak several languages and everything she knows, she learned from her uncle truck.  she's frightened of her uncle's dog and now her uncle is leaving her alone with his guard dog in an underground bunker. in there, she accidentally stumbles on a diary that's hidden under the top bunk. it's a diary by a woman written in german and annabel begins to read about this unknown woman who is trying to protect her baby. in another part of town, after a visit from a mysterious client, private investigator trudi coffey is forced to contact her ex-husband. a secret message has come through and there's a race to search for something so important that some will kill to find it.

back in the saddle by ruth logan herne is a story of coming home in her new series, double s ranch book 1. colt stafford is forced to return home after trying to make it in nyc's financial industry. but being back at his father's cattle ranch provides some unexpected challenges---a distant father with a life-threatening illness, a bossy house manager with a mysterious past, relationship issues with his brothers and more! will coming home drive colt away again? and while you're pondering that question, check out the "from the kitchen of the double s ranch" section featuring angelina's (she's the house manager) cherry cake recipe at the end of the story. it sounds yummy!

bride of a distant isle: daughters of hampshire by sandra byrd was a gripping read!!! you will be captivated from the get go as you dive into this gothic mystery set in victorian england (i love that time period!). this is a story of faith, strength and trust centered on annabel ashton, a young woman at the mercy of her cousin edward who has inherited everything but is deep into financial trouble. annabel's mother has died under mysterious circumstances and when annabel begins to find things that have belonged to her deceased mother, danger increases. annabel finds herself as a pawn in the hands of her cousin and she must do everything to find someone she can trust before she disappears like her mother.

brush of wings by karen kingsbury is the third and final book of the angels walking series. mary catherine is determined to move to uganda to work at a new orphanage regardless of what her cardiologist recommends. she needs more than a new valve and mary catherine knows she can't put the love of her life through that so she keeps marcus dillinger at arms length. meanwhile, a baby is at risk and so is the mother. the team of angels walking are on a seemingly impossible mission so they do the only thing they can... pray. i have always loved every story by karen---it's why her stories are aptly termed as "life changing fiction!!!" in all of karen's stories, you will always be reminded that you are loved and that God has a plan for you!!!

close to you by kara isaac is a debut novel which fans of tolkien will appreciate. dr. allison shire has given up on love after she discovered her husband's big secret. as a tour guide for southern luxury tours, allison gets to meet a variety of tolkien fanatics because she guides tours through the famous sites featured in the lord of the rings and the hobbit movies. and that is why she can smell a fake when she meets one --- jackson gregory is a tolkien fan poser and it's up to allison to discover what he's up to. this is a charming story and after reading about new zealand, i feel inspired to travel there to see the sights for myself!!!

cold shot by dani pettrey is suspenseful and full of twist and turns! this book begins pettrey's new series called chesapeake valor and the ending leaves you with a cliff hanger!!! aarrgggh! i can't wait to review and share book 2 with you!!! griffin mccray has left a life of danger and adventure to be a park ranger at gettysburg. when a routine patrol uncovers an arm with soft tissue that doesn't belong to the remains of a civil war soldier, griffin contacts dr. finley scott. but her contacts are all professionals from his past and griffin is forced to work with the very men he's been avoiding. but that's not all. someone is clearly trying to keep the body from being identified and it will be griffin, finley and the team to discover who's behind the growing death count. if you're a fan of heart-pounding suspense and danger, then you'll definitely love this one!

flight of arrows, a by lori benton is book 2 in the pathfinders series. in this story, the consequences of one hasty act by reginald aubrey takes its toll on his son, his adopted daughter anna and on his future. this is a story which will transport you to the eighteenth century where a warrior is determined to find his son and a son who is running away from his father. the theme of forgiveness, redemption and trust are woven throughout this rich story. stone thrower's sacrifice in the end was a really riveting scene and the final event (i don't want to give it away!!!) was extremely moving!!!

flirtation walk by siri mitchell is set in 1855 and was one of my favorite books to read!!! lucinda is trying to start over after receiving word that her con-man father has passed away. now that he's gone, lucinda must find a plan for her life as she depends on the generosity off her mother's estranged family. When she meets seth, he's like a dream come true. seth westcott is at the top of his class in his military school and all his professors have high hopes for him. but a swindler has stolen everything from him and now he has to do his best to get down to the bottom of his class so he can catch the swindler and help out his sister. "the plan" is working like a dream but it may cost seth everything he's ever hoped for. i couldn't help but fall in love with buttermilk falls and the hammond family---although milly is not one of the main characters, her personality is a delight!

fool & his monet, a by sandra orchard begins a new series called, a serena jones mystery. in book one here, you will find some crazy family (you're going to love aunt martha!!!), a little bit of romance, some danger and mystery and... art. what's not to love, right?!? serena jones is part of the fbi art crime team determined to recover lost and stolen art. but for serena, it's more than a career path. serena is driven to uncover the truth about her grandfather's murder and his missing art. but will she lose the only witness who can shed some light on that mystery? you'll have to find out!

like never before by melissa tagg is book two in the walker family books series. this romantic contemporary romance is a feel good sweet story that will warm your heart! amelia bentley is spunky, witty and in search of a great story. although she's not a local, she loves the little town of maple valley as much as anyone else born there. amelia is determined to find out the secret of the town's unsolved mystery for a story she hopes will boost the number to save the maple valley news. while logan walker hopes sell the newspaper and cut his losses. you can only imagine the sparks that fly between the two of them!

magnolia duchess, the by beth white is book three in the gulf coast chronicles. fiona lanier is gutsy, daring, fiercely loyal... and in love with the enemy. her twin brother has been captured and fiona is desperate to rescue him as the war of 1812 rages across the states. fiona's love for her horses lands her in an impulsive decision to masquerade as a boy until she's discovered unfortunately! there's danger, espionage and true love in this action packed story!

miriam: a treasure of the nile novel by mess andrews brings miriam, the sister of moses to life! reading this one will take your mind onto a journey to egypt where the israelites are slaves and where the pharaoh is so powerful that he's considered a god. andrews uses historical detail and imagination which will take you into a world where you will feel the heat of the day and smell the stench of sweat while watching the judgment of God unfold before you. bravo to andrews for making miriam's story sing!

on lone star trail by amanda cabot is the final book in the texas crossroads series. gillian hodge's life as a concert pianist is over. tj benjamin has lost his bearings, his calling and his faith. neither of them were expecting to find a second chance at rainbow's end but God has a sense of humor! you'll love the beautiful description of the texas bluebonnets, carmen's cooking and the rescue of a wayward teenager!

playing the part by jen turano is flat out hilarious! lucetta plum is a rising star in nyc's world of theater but when her life is threatened, she must go into hiding. her widowed friend, the delightful abigail hart is ecstatic to hide lucetta at her grandson's estate because she sees a divine opportunity to do some matchmaking! you'll love mr. skukman, lucetta's bodyguard, tilda the lady's maid, the crazy and unexpected encounters with geoffrey, the skirt hating goat and one of my favorite scenes is between lucetta and miss dunlap on pp. 186-191!!! there's mysterious happenings going on like falling swords, walking armor, jewelry materializing in strange places like the fireplace and a kidnapping. don't miss this one!!!

red door inn, the by liz johnson is a lovely story of hope, love and second chances set in beautiful prince edward island (the home of l.m. montgomery!!!).  marie carrington's love for all things anne of green gables brings her to pei. she's broke, desperate and in need of a plan. when she meets jack sloane, a man on a mission to fulfill his wife's dream, a flutter of hope begins to unfurl in marie. but then she meets his surly tempered nephew, seth who doesn't trust her and is determined to find out her secrets. faced with uncertainty and fear, marie must decide whether she's going to run and hide or face her fears. once and for all.

rise of the beast by m.k. gilroy is book one in the patmos conspiracy series. in this first book, your characters are set up in fast paced vignettes---they're brilliant and deadly and initially, it's hard to separate the good guys from the bad guys! burke is paid to keep tabs on jonathan alexander, one of the richest men in the world. but when a missing journal is noticed, everyone's life is at stake. the plot is intriguing, suspenseful and captivating making me very excited to check out book two in this series!

sweet misfortune, a by maggie brendan is set in 1862 and is book 2 in the virtues and vices of the old west series. when rachel matthews is literally snatched away from her job as a dance hall girl, she never expects to find a respectable job with respectable options! john mcintyre is just trying to do a favor for a childhood friend and never expects to win the heart of a beautiful woman while beatrice spencer is certain that he's "the one!" one of my favorite characters in this story is definitely grams - she is as loving as she is bossy! and she always gets her way!

thin ice by irene hannon is the second book in her men of valor series. this story was suspenseful, captivating and full of adrenalin racing moments! two months ago, christy reed lost her sister to a house fire. but now she has reason to believe that her sister may be alive and she needs the help of the fbi. fbi special agent, lance mcgregor reopens the case and needs to figure out the person behind the sick mind who is tracking christy reed. will he find the connection before it's too late? i couldn't put this one down even though it was scaring me silly!!!

thousand shall fall, a: a civil war novel by andrea boeshaar is the first book in the series, shenandoah valley saga set in 1864. my favorite character is carrie ann bell --- she's spunky, loyal and feisty! carrie tries to do everything to save her family, but a fire destroys their farm and carrie is forced to work out a deal with a local inn keeper in exchange for food and lodging. when carrie learns that her sister has run away, she must do everything she can to find her. but what she finds is trouble instead when she tries to disguise herself! ultimately, this is a story of love in the midst of war between the north and the south. i can't wait to review book two which features carrie's sister, margaret jean bell and share my thoughts with you!

non-fiction

faith footprints with my grandchild: 52 devotions, activities, and reflections by dr. mary manz simon is an exquisite gift book-sized guided devotional for grandmothers! i love the devotional thoughts, the prayers, the mini activity suggestions to do with your grandchild and the journaling portion of this book!!! yes, as you may be able to tell, i love it all!!! it's a lovely way to journey together with your grandchild in their faith walk. you are going to love this one as much as i do---thank you, mary for this perfect resource for grandmothers!!!


fear not: devotionals for times like these by dave and neta jackson has over 200 stories of God's faithfulness to men and women all over the world who weathered the worst. i received this on wednesday night and couldn't put it down once i started it! in addition to the stories of extraordinary courage and faith, dave has written six essays on "the major eras of church expansion and the accompanying persecution to help put today's challenges in perspective." these fascinating historical accounts and modern stories really struck a chord in my heart. the writing is so heartfelt (well done, dave and neta!) that you are going to want to pick up some copies for your family and friends. when you get your copy at http://www.daveneta.com/books/Misc-Books/FearNot.html, don't skip over the introduction part. i felt like i was going on a journey through church history as i read this and feel every believer should take some time and read these stories of courage, sacrifice and faith.

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