Sunday, June 10, 2018

"Hagar" Book Review


Hagar:  Rediscovering the God Who Sees Me
by Shadia Hrichi

Book Description:
You are "The God Who Sees Me."

Discover a close relationship with God no matter the pain or suffering in your life. Witness the depths of God's compassion through the eyes of Hagar, a runaway slave who meets the living God in a desert of despair, where she gives Him the name El Roi, "The God Who Sees Me." A largely forgotten Old Testament character, Hagar is actually one of only a few people who have ever spoken directly with the LORD.

Through this seven week study, you will find that when you surrender your life into God's hands, your trials and triumphs serve a magnificent purpose: to draw you into the arms of the faithful God who sees you.

MY BOOK REVIEW: Can you imagine being "chosen" to be a handmaiden for a woman and giving birth to the man's first child,  a son, and then being rejected and hated by the man's wife?  Where would you turn?   How would you cope?  
              This seven-week Bible study will help you to explore that question and many others.   I think this would be better as a group study so that others may glean from the group.   This is a strongly researched and refreshing look at Hagar and the family who embrace her even while ignoring and rejecting her and her son, Ishmael.   
              I am giving this Bible study a rating of 4 stars and highly recommend it. 

         I received a digital copy of this book from netgalley and ACU Press/Leafwood Publishers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own and I was not required to write a positive review.

About the Author:
Shadia Hrichi

Shadia Hrichi is a passionate Bible teacher who has a heart for seeing lives transformed by the power of God’s Word. She received an MA in Biblical and Theological studies from Western Seminary, as well as an MA in Criminal Justice, and a BA in Psychology from the State University of New York.

Shadia is the author of several books and is often invited to speak at churches, conferences, and other events. In addition to writing books, Shadia’s articles have been published in the Bible Advocate magazine, Christian Voice magazine, The Secret Place, The Upper Room, and on the Christian Broadcast Network. 

Currently residing in sunny California, Shadia loves to visit the ocean each week for “a date with Jesus.”Her latest Bible study, Hagar: Rediscovering the God Who Sees Me, is the first in a brand new series called Behind the Seen: Exploring the Bible’s Unsung Heroes, and is scheduled for release in October 2017.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

"Beneath the Summer Sun" Book Review


Beneath the Summer Sun
(Every Amish Season #2)
by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Book Description:
Jennie Troyer knows it’s time to remarry, and with two men pursuing her, she doesn’t have to look far. But after the pain she’s experienced, can she open her heart to love?

It’s been four years since Jennie’s husband died in a farming accident. Long enough that the elders in her Amish community think it’s time to shed her grief and remarry for the sake of her seven children. What they don’t know is it isn’t grief that’s holding her back, but rather a fear of a repeat of her abusive marriage.

Paul Graber has known--and loved--Jennie since they were children, and he’d hoped to court her when they were teenagers. But when he was fourteen, Paul’s father died suddenly in his arms. Ever since he’s been afraid of the searing pain of loss that comes from opening himself up to love. Now Jennie’s free again and he’s fighting to have the courage not to lose her a second time.

Nathan Walker is a Mennonite book salesman who makes it a point to stop by Jennie’s farm as often as he can. He’s grown to care for her, but he knows he has no right to court her unless he resolves his own struggle with his faith. He will have to change everything about his life in order to join the Jamesport Amish community. But would he be embracing a new life or running from his old?

The path isn’t clear for any of them. These three people, drawn together by circumstances and God’s plan, must come to grips with their pasts in order to discern God’s plan for their futures and find peace beneath the summer sun.

Book Review:  Pain and secrets abound in this book.  Kelly Irvin addresses a serious issue in this book and she does it with sensitivity.  The pain and secrets are effecting Jennie and her son, as well as Nathan and Paul.   Differences in faith make the possibility of a relationship between Nathan and Jennie difficult, if not impossible.   Jennie is raising her children on her own and the Amish encourage widows to remarry.   Jennie needs someone to help her and to care for her, but will she be able to let go and trust  that God has a plan for her.
              This book is one that will hold the reader's attention.  I couldn't help but shed tears as I read.   I wanted to help Jennie so badly.  But only she can make the decision to follow her heart.
          I am rating this book 5 ***** stars and highly recommend it to readers.
I received a digital copy of this book from netgalley and Zondervan Publishing in exchange for an honest review.   All opinions expressed are my own.  I was not required to write a positive review.

About the Author:
Kelly Irvin

Kelly Irvin's newest series, Every Amish Series, began with the debut of Upon a Spring Breeze, in April. The second book, Beneath the Summer Sun, will debut in January 2018. It is a four-book series published by Zondervan/HarperCollins Christian Publishing. This follows the Amish of Bee County series, The Saddle Maker's Son, released in June 2016. It is an ECPA bestseller. It follows The Bishop's Son, and the critically acclaimed bestseller, The Beekeeper's Son, which earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly. The reviewer called it "a beautifully woven masterpiece." The Beekeeper's Son was a finalist in the romance category of the 2016 ACFW Carol Awards Contest. 

Visit her website
The Kansas native is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and ACFW's San Antonio local chapter Alamo City Christian Fiction Writers. 

A graduate of the University of Kansas William Allen White School of Journalism, Kelly has been writing nonfiction professionally for thirty years. She studied for three semesters at the University of Costa Rica, learning the Spanish language. As a journalist, she worked six years in the border towns of Laredo and El Paso.

She worked in public relations for the San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department for 22 years before retiring earlier this year. Kelly has been married to photographer Tim Irvin for twenty-eight years. They have two young adult children and have two grandchildren. In her spare time, she likes to write short stories, read books by her favorite authors, and looks forward to visits with her grandchildren.

Connect with the Author:

Thursday, May 24, 2018

"Grace & the Preacher" Book Review


Grace and the Preacher
by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Book Description: 
The Kansas community of Fairland anticipates the arrival of their new minister and in recent months, late in 1882, postmistress Grace Cristler has communicated with Reverend Dille via letters, answering his questions about the little town, and developing affection for the man who pens thoughtful missives.
Theophil Garrison grew up under the loving influence of his saintly grandmother, but was roped into his cousins’ train-robbing plan. When they fail and are apprehended, Theo fled the scene, evading jail time. Now an angry cousin is out to avenge Theo's duplicity, and he’s on the run. He encounters a fatally ill traveler--a minister. Seeing a way to keep hidden, Theo trades identities with the man, dons his fine black suit, carries a Bible, and prays that he'll be accepted as Rufus Dille.
Once in Fairland, if Theo's true identity is uncovered, what will be left of the world he has built for himself, Grace, and those in the town who have come to love and accept him?

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Book Review:  Set in 1882, this book provides accurate details of the time period, and fulfills my desire for a captivating, clean historical fiction/romance novel.   Kim Vogel Sawyer is one of my favorite authors and this book reaffirmed my love of her writing.  The main characters, 
Theo, and Grace, are young and searching for their purpose, love, safety, and acceptance.  Deceit gets in their way and creates a number of dilemmas for them.   Theo impersonates the dead minister and his lack of finesse, Biblical knowledge, and duties of a minister leave the community questioning his abilities and training.  
       This book was a captivating, sweet novel.  Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres.  This book would be appropriate for teenage readers as well as adults as it is clean romance.  
       My rating for this book is 5  ***** stars. 
        I received digital copy of this book from netgalley and Waterbrook Press in exchange for an honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Author:
Kim Vogel Sawyer

Award-winning, bestselling author Kim Vogel Sawyer told her kindergarten teacher that someday people would check out her book in the library. The little-girl dream came true in 2006 with the release of Waiting for Summer's Return. Kim's titles now exceed 1.5 million copies and are available in six different language. A former elementary school teacher, she now enjoys a full-time writing and speaking ministry. Kim's passion lies in writing stories that point the reader to a deeper, more intimate relationship with God. When Kim isn't writing, you'll find her traveling with her retired military hubby, spoiling her granddarlings, petting the cats, quilting, or--as time allows--participating in community theater. You can learn more about Kim's writing and speaking ministries at her website,

Connect with the author:   

"Mister McHottie" Book Review


Mister McHottie
by Pippa Grant

Book Description:
I’ve just bought the woman of my nightmares.
Technically, I bought the company she works for. Point is, she cost me my two best friends ten years ago. It’s payback time, and I’m going to make her life hell.
When I’m not banging her silly and myself stupid.
I need to get my head back in business, because getting off is great, but "He was a man who had sex, and lots of it, and in the worst locations, with the woman of his nightmares" isn’t the inscription I want on my tombstone.
Even if it’s true.

There are three things I hate:
Bratwurst in any form, my neighbors boinking loudly like farm animals at 3 AM, and Chase Jett.
Mostly I hate Chase Jett. It’s been ten years since he took my virginity—I’d make a bratwurst joke, but the unfortunate truth is that it would have to be a bratbest joke, and yes, it kills me to admit it—and now he’s not only a billionaire, he’s also my new boss.
Turns out our hate is mutual. And this kind of hate is horrifically twisted, filthy, and banging hot.
I just might have to hate him forever.

MISTER McHOTTIE is 45,000 gloriously hilarious, hot, sexy words that your mother warned you about, complete with an organic happy-ever-after (or seven), a Bratwurst Wagon, ill-advised office pranks, and no cheating or cliffhangers.

My Book Review:  I must admit that I was ready to quit reading at first as it looked like the book was going to be all about sex and little else.  But I was happily surprised to find it had cute, humorous characters and interesting history between the two main characters, Chase and Ambrosia.  Ambrosia is quite the prankster and Chase is a gorgeous young billionaire.  They have known each other since childhood.  Throw in two protective brothers who are also gorgeous, large, muscular, and famous athletes, and you've got the makings of a hot romance.   
              I am rating this book 4 stars.  I would recommend it for adult readers as there is sexual content and offensive language.  

About the Author:
Pippa Grant is a stay-at-home mom and housewife who loves to escape into sexy, funny stories way more than she likes perpetually cleaning toothpaste out of sinks and off toilet handles. When she’s not reading, writing, sleeping, or trying to prepare her adorable demon spawn to be productive members of society, she’s fantasizing about chocolate chip cookies.

To join the Pipsquad, visit her website

"Disturbed" Book Review


by Jennifer Jaynes 

Book Description:
A captivating psychological thriller from #1 USA Todaybestselling author Jennifer Jaynes.
On Halloween night five years ago, Chelsea Dutton’s college roommates were viciously stabbed to death, and Chelsea was critically injured. She was found hiding in her apartment’s bathtub, barely clinging to life.
With only fragments of shattered memory, she’s been trying her best to move past the nightmares ever since. Now in Boston, she lives a somewhat reclusive life, working from home as a medical transcriptionist and bingeing on mindless television shows.
She can’t shake the fear that her attacker is out there, waiting to finish what he started, and Elizabeth, a nurse she met after the murders, is the only person she can trust.
When someone from her past reemerges, Chelsea starts receiving disturbing messages and worries that her every move is being watched. As the messages mount and her memories begin to return, she’s led to a very terrifying and lonely place. But she needn’t be afraid. She won’t be alone there for long.

MY BOOK REVIEW:  I seriously read this one in one day as I was so engaged that I just had to keep on !  I was constantly thinking she did it, oh no, wait a minute, he did it, no, she did it as the twists and turns kept me guessing.  I found myself talking aloud to the main character, Chelsea, and the detective, Lang......look out!  why are you going with ________?  Don't let them in!  etc  
This is one that readers who enjoy psychological thrillers will want to read.  I did not like the ending though as I found it too far-fetched.  I do not think it was realistic and it seemed to "come out of nowhere".  I still would definitely read more books by Jennifer Jaynes.   This book would be a good one to make a series of books as the book ended on a bit of a cliffhanger and felt like there had to be more. 
                My rating is 4 stars. 

About the Author:
Jennifer Jaynes
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Jennifer Jaynes is a novelist, wife and mommy to twin four-year-olds.

While earning her bachelor's degree in Health Sciences at Old Dominion University and a certificate from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, she did a little bit of everything to pay the bills. She's been a gas station attendant, waitress, a dancing waitress, beer girl, shot girl, bartender, closing coordinator, executive assistant, medical assistant, EMT, content manager, webmaster, news publisher, editor, copywriter, weight loss coach and publishing consultant.

However, through it all, what she really wanted to be a novelist.
 In 2011, she finally began living her dream with the release of her debut thriller, Never Smile at Strangers. To date, Never Smile at Strangers has earned a place on the USA Today Bestseller's list, the #1 spot (across all categories) in the Barnes & Noble's Nook Store, has graced the Top 5 in the mystery/suspense category in the Kindle Store multiple times, and has appeared in the Top 25 in the Kindle Store (across all categories).

In 2014, Thomas & Mercer acquired the rights to Never Smile at Strangers and re-released it January 2015. They also bought the rights to her second novel, Ugly Young Thing, that released in March 2015.

Connect with the author:
Author's Website
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Saturday, May 19, 2018

"Apart" Book Review


by C.J. Pastore

Book Description:
Growing up is hard. No one knows that better than Alicia Cesare.
As a child, Alicia struggled to free herself from the cloying shadow of her mother’s depression and the overprotectiveness of a meddlesome family. Now, with a top-selling fashion design and a passion-filled relationship with New York City real estate mogul Chase Reardon, being an adult isn’t so bad … until she’s viciously attacked by a Russian drug lord out for the blood of anyone that matters to Chase.
Under constant surveillance from family and a team of ex-special-ops Marines, Alicia remains determined to maintain her freedom and grow her fashion brand. This does not sit well with Chase, who considers Alicia’s behavior as much of a threat to her safety as the drug lord himself. 
Chase thought his service to the United States ended, but when he’s called to duty overseas, he readily responds. What’s meant to be a simple mission unravels into a dangerous separation for the new lovers. 
No matter how independent Alicia thinks she is, nothing could have prepared her for this twist of fate. 
Trapped in a web of lethal reprisals from Chase’s past, Alicia struggles to protect herself and those she cares about while grappling with loss, need and the transcendent force of unconditional love.

My Book Review:   Apart is a book that you won't likely forget.  I know that I won't.  It's one of those books you want to read again.  I'll be honest that I had trouble getting into the book, so I read from the middle to end, and then I began at beginning of book and read to the middle.  This helped me to follow the book and fall in love with the characters, although I also developed a distaste for the "bad guys".  This book is a steamy romance, but it also contains suspense as well as featuring characters who are active military who experience deployments.  
        The deployments challenge the young newlyweds and create tension for a number of characters in the book.  Chase has to plan for his wife, Alicia's, safety from the dangerous people from his past, and he won't be there for most of the time.  
        I rate this book 4 stars, as I did notice a few editing errors which did detract from my enjoyment of the book.   I highly recommend this book to adults.  Disclosure:  There are sex scenes as well as some offensive language.  This book is written for mature readers.  
        I received a copy of this book from netgalley and New Rose Press in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.

About the Author:
C.J. Pastore
C. J. Pastore lives in Manhattan with her husband and two children. When not pounding the keyboard, she enjoys jogging, hiking, reading, and traveling. Immersing herself in other cultures, laughing, eating and drinking with the local populace are favorite pastimes. She holds true to Anne Frank's belief that “people are really good at heart,” and deems that whether walking in your own neighborhood or traversing the globe, the kindness and well-meaning wishes of others can be absorbed and reflected. 

As a former writer of curriculum and teacher mentor, C.J Pastore has published articles in TESOL Journal and Social Studies and the Young Learner. Essays on the global rights of Children have been published in The Citizen. Captive of a Commoner, Book I in the Commoner series, is her first foray into the world of romance writing.

To learn more about C. J., visit her online at

"Flowers and Foul Play" Book Review


Flowers and Foul Play
(A Magic Garden Mystery #1)
by Amanda Flower

Book Description:
Fiona Knox lost her fiancĂ© and her flower shop—but when she flies to Scotland to inherit her godfather’s cottage and possibly magical walled garden, she may lose her life as well when she’s swept into a murder investigation.

Florist Fiona Knox’s life isn’t smelling so sweet these days. Her fiancĂ© left her for their cake decorator. Then, her flower shop wilted after a chain florist opened next door. So when her godfather, Ian MacCallister, leaves her a cottage in the Scottish Highlands, Fiona jumps on the next plane to Edinburgh. Ian, after all, is the one who taught her to love flowers. But when Ian’s elderly caretaker Hamish MacGregor shows her to the cottage upon her arrival, she finds the once resplendent grounds of Duncreigan in a dreadful shambles—with a dead body in the garden.

Minutes into her arrival, Fiona is already being questioned by the handsome Chief Inspector Neil Craig and getting her passport seized. But it’s Craig’s fixation on Uncle Ian’s loyal caretaker, Hamish, as a prime suspect, that really makes her worried. As Fiona strolls the town, she quickly realizes there are a whole bouquet of suspects much more likely to have killed Alastair Croft, the dead lawyer who seems to have had more enemies than friends. 

Now it’s up to Fiona to clear Hamish’s name before it’s too late in Flowers and Foul Play, national bestselling author Amanda Flower’s enchanting first Magic Garden mystery.

My Book Review:  Wow, can you see the ivy covering the wall of the Magic Garden?  Can you smell the shepherd's pie from Twisted Fox Pub...made from the owner's late mother's recipe? Can you feel the cold chill of the brutal cold of the quaint village in Scotland?  I'd be surprised if you didn't experience each of these elements of Flowers and Foul Play because Amanda Flower's writing makes it so clear to me that I almost felt like I was there with Fiona.  
       I adore a good mystery and this one is definitely good.  In fact, it is superb!  I'm usually very good at solving the mystery by the middle of the book, but I never saw this one coming!   That makes any mystery more exciting for me.  This book is not predictable.  It is fresh and fun!   It's intense at just the right moments.   It has characters you will love and those jerks that you will love to hate.   
        I am rating this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to those who enjoy mysteries.   

         I received a copy of this book from netgalley and Crooked Lane Books in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.  I was not required to write a positive review.

About the Author:
Amanda Flower

Amanda Flower, an Agatha Award-winning mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. Her debut mystery, Maid of Murder, was an Agatha Award Nominee for Best First Novel. Amanda is an adult services librarian for a public library near Cleveland. She also writes mysteries as USA Today bestselling author Isabella Alan.