Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Searching for You


Searching for You
Orphan Train, Book Three
Jody Hedlund
(Bethany House Publishers)
ISBN: 978-0764218064
December 2018/352 pages/$15.99

Her Search for a Place to Call Home
Leads Her to the Last Place She Ever Expected


For years, Sophie Neumann has been running from the orphanages of 1850s New York City. Tasked with caring for two younger children, she's determined not to let them be taken from her, and not to abandon them the same way her older sisters did her. But times are growing desperate, and when she falls in with the wrong crowd and witnesses a crime, she realizes fleeing the state is her only option.

Disappearing with her two young charges into a group of orphans heading west by train, Sophie hopes to find safety and a happy life. But when the train stops in Illinois, she faces an agonizing decision as the orphans will be placed in new homes. Afraid she'll lose them forever, she finds help in a familiar face she never expected to see so far from New York.

Reinhold Weiss has finally purchased his own small farm in Illinois. With mounting debts, a harvest to bring in, and past scars that still haunt him, Reinhold is in no position to give his heart away . . . but can he say no when his long-lost friend shows up on a nearby farm pleading for his help?

"Set in the 1850s and spanning the U.S., this entertaining third installment of the Orphan Train series from Hedlund continues the story of the Neumann sisters. . . . This sweet, faith-filled novel beautifully considers the core of what it means to be a family."--Publishers Weekly


Read an excerpt.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jody Hedlund (www.jodyhedlund.com) is the author of over 20 novels, including Love Unexpected, Captured by Love, Unending Devotion, The Preacher's Bride, and A Noble Groom, winner of the 2014 Carol Award for historical romance. She received a bachelor's degree from Taylor University and a master's from the University of Wisconsin, both in social work. She lives in Michigan with her husband and five children. She loves hearing from readers on Facebook and on her blog. Learn more about her at her website, jodyhedlund.com.


MY THOUGHTS

Jody Hedlund is a must-read author for me, and I have loved this series. Searching for You grabbeed my heart from the opening pages. Prior to reading this series, I was not familiar with the orphan trains of the nineteenth century, and my momma-heart hurt to imagine what some of these sweet children endured. While this novel stands alone from its predecessors, reading the first two books provided a deeper reading experience. Endearing characters and a well-researched, authentic setting drew me into this story. Hedlund tucks in nuggets of spiritual truth throughout the story, and these timeless truths encourage and inspire. I especially loved the advice given to Sophie that "Sometimes God allows us to sink down in our own misery until we reach a low place where we're finally ready to look up and reach out to him." Don't miss this heartwarming story and series!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a digital copy of this book free from Baker/Bethany House Publishing and NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”




ORPHAN TRAIN SERIES
Click the covers for my reviews of the first two books in this series







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Monday, November 12, 2018

In Too Deep


In Too Deep
Dive Team Investigations, Book 2
Lynn H. Blackburn
(Revell)
ISBN: 978-0800729295
November 2018/352 pages/$15.99

How do you choose between loyalty and the truth?

When the Carrington County Sheriff's Office dive team is called in to recover a body from a submerged car, they aren't prepared to find an encrypted laptop--or an unsettling connection between investigator Adam Campbell and the dead accountant.

Adam turns to his friend Dr. Sabrina Fleming to recover the files from the laptop. But the deeper they dig, the deadlier the investigation becomes. When evidence implicates members of Adam's own family, he and Sabrina will have to risk everything to solve the case.

The truth could set hundreds free--but someone is willing to do whatever it takes to silence anyone who threatens to reveal their secrets.


Read an excerpt.





ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lynn H. Blackburn is the author of Beneath the Surface, Hidden Legacy, and Covert Justice, winner of the 2016 Selah Award for Mystery and Suspense and the 2016 Carol Award for Short Novel. Blackburn believes in the power of stories, especially those that remind us that true love exists, a gift from the Truest Love. She's passionate about CrossFit, coffee, and chocolate (don't make her choose) and experimenting with recipes that feed both body and soul. She lives in Simpsonville, South Carolina, with her true love, Brian, and their three children.


MY THOUGHTS

This is the first novel I've read by Lynn H. Blackburn but it won't be the last. This riveting suspense grabbed my attention from the opening scene and didn't let go until the final satisfying page. Although I had not read the previous book in this series, I had no trouble connecting with and caring about the well-drawn characters. Adrenaline-laced scenes fraught with danger kept me rapidly turning pages as Adam and Sabrina desperately attempt to stay a step ahead of the perpetrator. Cyber forensics, human trafficking, and a well-paced romance interlace in this multi-faceted story. Blackburn perfectly juxtaposes organic elements of relational humor with high-stakes drama, taking the reader on a roller coaster of emotions. In Too Deep will keep you on the edge of your seat. Don't miss it!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a digital copy of this book free from Baker/Revell Publishing and NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

2018 Christy Award™ Winners!

Here are the winners of the 2018 Christy Award™ presented tonight at the Christy Award™ Gala in Nashville, Tennessee. I loved watching the ceremony live on Facebook!

CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE


True to You
by Becky Wade
(Bethany House/Baker Publishing Group)

FIRST NOVEL



Missing Isaac
by Valerie Fraser Luesse
(Revell/Baker Publishing Group)


GENERAL FICTION



Life After
by Katie Ganshert
(WaterBrook)


HISTORICAL


Isaiah's Daughter
by Mesu Andrews
(WaterBrook)


(Click the title for my review.)

HISTORICAL ROMANCE


The Lacemaker
by Laura Frantz
(Revell/Baker Publishing Group)

(Click the title for my review.)


MYSTERY/SUSPENSE/THRILLER


The House on Foster Hill
by Jaime Jo Wright
(Bethany House/Baker Publishing Group)


SHORT FORM


12 Days at Bleakly Manor
by Michelle Griep
(Barbour Publishing)

VISIONARY



The Man He Never Was
by James Rubart
(Thomas Nelson)

YOUNG ADULT



The Delusion
by Laura Gallier
(Wander, a YA imprint of Tyndale House)


BOOK OF THE YEAR


True to You
by Becky Wade
(Bethany House/Baker Publishing Group)


Congratulations to all of the winners!



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Monday, November 5, 2018

Hidden Peril


Hidden Peril
Code of Honor, Book 2
Irene Hannon
(Revell)
ISBN: 978-0800727697
October 2018/416 pages/$15.99

The most dangerous enemy is the one who has nothing to lose

As teenagers, Kristin Dane and her two best friends took a vow to make the world a better place. Twenty years later, she's fulfilling that pledge through her fair trade shop that features products from around the world. All is well until, one by one, people connected to the shop begin dying.

Detective Luke Carter, new to the St. Louis PD, wants to know why. Before he can answer that question, however, the FBI weighs in and Kristin suddenly finds herself in the middle of international intrigue--and in the sights of the ruthless mastermind behind an ingenious and deadly scheme. Can this cold-blooded killer be stopped before more people die . . . including Kristin?

Three-time RITA Award-winner and "queen of inspirational romantic suspense" (Library Journal) Irene Hannon doesn't disappoint in this edge-of-your-seat thriller that will have you up late as you rush toward the explosive conclusion.


Read an excerpt.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Irene Hannon is the bestselling author of more than fifty novels, including One Perfect Spring, Hope Harbor, Sea Rose Lane, Sandpiper Cove, and Pelican Point, as well as Dangerous Illusions and the Private Justice and Men of Valor suspense series. Her books have been honored with three coveted RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America, and she is a member of that organization's elite Hall of Fame. Her many other awards include National Readers' Choice, Daphne du Maurier, Retailers' Choice, Booksellers' Best, Carols, and Reviewers' Choice from RT Book Reviews magazine, which also honored her with a Career Achievement award for her entire body of work. In addition, she is a two-time Christy Award finalist. Learn more at www.irenehannon.com.


MY THOUGHTS

Irene Hannon always writes a great suspense and continues her Code of Honor series with this compelling read. The chilling opening sets the stage for a tale that full of intrigue and high-stakes suspense. Kristin and Luke immediately endeared themselves to me. Kristin is much braver than I would ever be in a similar situation. Heart-stopping moments make this book one that is hard to put down. Don't miss it!


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a digital copy of this book free from Baker/Revell Publishing and NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


CODE OF HONOR
Click on the cover for my review





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Thursday, November 1, 2018

ACFW New Releases - November 2018

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.


Contemporary Romance:


Christmas in Jingle Junction by Tabitha Bouldin -- In the small town of Jingle Junction, Holly Winters owns the local coffee shop, Jolly Java. It's here that she meets Patrick Cooper and promptly throws coffee everywhere. Not only does Patrick not like coffee, he also despises Christmas! It's up to Holly to show Patrick that Christmas is worth giving a second chance, just as Patrick himself deserves a second chance when he is accused of robbing a local convenience store. In a town full of Christmas spirit, lively debates over the best superhero and riding in a sleigh pulled by actual reindeer is just a normal day. Will Holly be able to prove to Patrick that Christmas is more than a holiday that has to be endured? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)


A Picture Perfect Christmas by Candee Fick -- Freelance photographers Liz Foster and Ryan Callahan are finally making plans for their future. And what better time to get married than during the festive holiday season that brought them together? If only Liz’s parents weren’t standing in the way of a picture-perfect wedding. Spurred on by the ghosts of Christmases past, Dan Foster has already written Liz out of his will, so even attending the wedding—let alone walking his daughter down the aisle—is out of the question. However, this is the season for miracles and Ryan will do anything to make his bride smile. What will it take to bring this family back together in time for the wedding? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)


On Magnolia Lane by Denise Hunter -- When his secret crush joins a dating website, Jack takes a leap of faith and soon becomes Daisy's online suitor. But when they begin growing closer in real life also, Jack finds himself with an unexpected dilemma. Is Daisy falling for the real Jack or for the online version of himself? And how is she going to respond when she finds out they’re one and the same? (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)


A Merry Miracle in Romance by Melanie D. Snitker -- Baxter Reid returns to his hometown of Romance, eager to see his childhood crush. Unfortunately, Savannah hasn’t forgotten all the ways he used to tease her back then. He’s got his work cut out for him if he’s going to get a second chance. Savannah Miller avoids Baxter and the embarrassing childhood memories he evokes…until he apologizes and suggests a truce. Now what is she supposed to do? Only time will tell whether the spirit of Christmas in Romance is enough to transform a grudging relationship into true love. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)


I Still Do by Melanie D. Snitker -- What's worse than running into your ex-husband? Becoming snowbound with him and an avalanche of memories you can't escape. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Contemporary/Women’s Fiction:


A Southern Season by Eva Marie Everson, Claire Fullerton, Ane Mulligan, and Linda Yezak -- Four seasons. Four stories. Each one set in the enchanting world of the South. These are the kinds of stories your grandmother told you from a front porch swing. (Women’s Fiction from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)


Historical:


Second Chances by Carol Ashby -- A widowed father, still grieving the loss of his wife and child, and a devoted mother, who leaves behind everything she’s ever known to rescue her daughter from the ex-husband who would hurt her, are first drawn together by their love for her little girl, but God has much more for them than either could have imagined. (Historical, Cerrillo Press)

Historical Mystery:


Murder of Convenience by Linda Shenton Matchett -- May 1942: Geneva Alexander flees Philadelphia and joins the USO to escape the engagement her parents have arranged for her, only to wind up as the number one suspect in her betrothed’s murder investigation. Diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, she must find the real killer before she loses her sight…or is convicted for a crime she didn’t commit. (Historical Mystery, Independently Published)

Historical Romance:


The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides Collection by Lena Nelson Dooley, Rebecca Jepson, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Candice Sue Patterson, Kathleen Rouser, Pegg Thomas, and Marilyn Turk -- Along the Great Lakes, America’s inland seas, lighthouses played a vital role in the growth of our nation. They shepherded settlers traveling by water to places that had no roads. These beacons of light required constant tending even in remote and often dangerous places. Brave men and women battled the elements and loneliness to keep the lights shining. Their sacrifice kept goods and immigrants moving. Seven romances set between 1883 and 1911 at Great Lakes Lighthouses bring hope to the lonely lighthouse keepers and love to weary hearts. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)


A Musket in My Hands by Sandra Merville Hart -- Two sisters have no choice but to disguise themselves as men to muster into the Confederate army in the fall of 1864--just in time for things to go very badly for the Southerners at the Battle of Franklin. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)


Uncharted Journey by Keely Brooke Keith -- Young widow Eva Vestal assumes loneliness is God’s permanent plan for her life. She keeps busy by raising her son and co-managing the Inn at Falls Creek with her elderly father, but her heart yearns for more. Solomon “Solo” Cotter has spent his life working with horses, but he secretly wants to write a book of the children’s stories his grandfather told him as a boy. He barters with Eva’s father for a 40-night stay at the inn, a needed respite from work to get his stories on paper. Once Eva discovers the barter, she believes Solo is taking advantage of her father’s failing memory. But when tragedy strikes and Solo works hard to save the inn, Eva sees his true nature. As her heart stirs with feelings for Solo, she wrestles with the guilt of loving someone new. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)


Snow Angel by Davalynn Spencer -- Lena Carver works as her physician brother’s medical assistant, housekeeper, and cook. Maimed in a childhood accident at Christmas, she believes she is beyond love’s reach—until a dark-eyed cowboy arrives broken, bruised, and bent on changing her mind. Wil Bergman wakes in a stranger’s home with a busted leg and a bullet-creased scalp. Trail-weary, robbed, and penniless, he is at the mercy of a country doctor whose sister’s healing touch has power to stitch up his heart and open his eyes to the impossible. (Historical Romance from Wilson Creek Publishing)

Romantic Suspense:


Tell Her No Lies by Kelly Irvin -- After Nina Fischer is accused of murdering her uncle and adopted father, she must unlock deadly family secrets in order to clear her name and learn to trust love again. (Romantic Suspense from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)


North by Starlight by Diane and David Munson -- Attorney Madison Stone hurries to help her client Jordan Star defeat a mysterious relative who claims a share in his inheritance, and during the Christmas season Maddie learns to leave past regrets behind her, embrace the warmhearted people of Starlight, and dig deep to find her true heart. (Romantic Suspense from Micah House Media)


Her Deadly Reunion by Beth Ann Ziarnik -- What will it cost an estranged daughter when she meets her birth father at his home and discovers it's a dangerous place to mix past and present? (Romantic Suspense from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Speculative:


Mark of the Raven by Morgan L. Busse -- When the new Lady of Ravenwood inherits her family’s secret gift of dreamwalking, she discovers a dark history. Women in her family have been wielding the gift to preserve her family’s legacy—through assassinations. She’s determined to find the true reason behind the gift, convinced there must be a more noble purpose. But she’s torn about upholding her family's legacy--a legacy that supports her people. What will she do when she is tasked with assassinating the one man who can bring peace to the nations--but who is also prophesied to bring about the downfall of her own house? One path holds glory and power and will solidify her position as Lady of Ravenwood. The other path holds shame and likely death. Which will she choose? And is she willing to pay the price for the path chosen? (High Fantasy from Bethany House [Baker])

Thriller/Suspense:


Stratagem by Robin Caroll -- Psychologist Grayson Thibodeaux creates mind-bending adventure games for businesses as team-building explorations. When his ex-wife’s company hires Grayson’s for their executive retreat, he doesn’t see how things can get worse. Until she dies during the course of the game he created…making him the prime suspect for murder. (Suspense from Barbour Publishing)



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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Stratagem


Stratagem
Robin Caroll
(Shiloh Run Press/Barbour Publishing)
ISBN: 978-1683227304
October 2018/320 pages/$14.99

A High-Stakes Simulation Adventure Leaves Grayson Thibodeaux the Prime Suspect. . .for Murder

Deep in the gritty underbelly of New Orleans, psychologist Grayson Thibodeaux loses everything when his wife leaves him to climb her company’s corporate ladder. He buries himself in his job of creating mind-bending adventure games for businesses as team-building explorations. When his ex-wife’s company hires Grayson’s to create an elaborate game, he doesn’t see how things can get worse. Until she dies during the course of the game he created…making him the prime suspect for murder.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

“I love boxing. I love Hallmark movies. I love fishing. I love scrapbooking. Nope, I’ve never fit into the boxes people have wanted to put me in.” Robin Caroll is definitely a contradiction, but one that beckons you to get to know her better. 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 twenty-five-plus published novels. 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. Robin gives back to the writing community by serving as executive director/conference director for ACFW. Her books have been recognized in such contests as the Carol Award, Holt Medallion, Daphne du Maurier, RT Reviewer’s Choice Award, Bookseller’s Best, and Book of the Year. You can find out more about Robin by visiting www.robincaroll.com.


MY THOUGHTS

Robin Caroll never disappoints and her newest suspense kept me on the edge of my seat. Caroll plunges the reader into the world of adventure games, increasing the stakes with a murder. I was drawn into the story immediately and hard-pressed to set the novel aside as the intrigue increased with each chapter. Caroll deftly moves between the current challenge of solving the murder and the events of the previous days, keeping me guessing and breathless. I really thought I had figured out the culprit but I should know better than to think I have outsmarted this gifted author. Caroll seamlessy weaves a powerful message of forgiveness into this captivating tale. Add this heart-pounding novel to your reading list!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free from Shiloh Run Press, an imprint of Barbour Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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Monday, October 29, 2018

Jerusalem's Queen


Jerusalem's Queen:
A Novel of Salome Alexandria

The Silent Years
Angela Hunt
(Bethany House Publishers)
ISBN: 978-0764219344
November 2018/352 pages/$15.99

Born in the small village of Modein, a town made famous by the warrior Maccabees, Salome Alexandra knows better than to harbor grand dreams for her future. She pales in comparison to her beautiful older sister, and though she learns to read at an early age, girls are not valued for their intellectual ability. But when her father and sister are killed, John Hyrcanus, a distant relative, invites Salome and her mother to live with his family in Jerusalem, where her thirst for knowledge is noticed and indulged.

When her guardian betroths her to a pagan prince, she questions HaShem's plan. When Hyrcanus finally marries her to a boy half her age, she questions her guardian's sanity. But though Salome spends much of her life as a pawn ordered about by powerful men, she learns that a woman committed to HaShem can change the world.


Read an excerpt.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The author of more than 100 published books and with more than 5 million copies of her books sold worldwide, Angela Hunt is the New York Times bestselling author of The Note, The Nativity Story, and Esther: Royal Beauty. Romantic Times Book Club presented Angela with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. In 2008, Angela completed her PhD in Biblical Studies in Theology. She and her husband live in Florida with their mastiffs. She can be found online at www.angelahuntbooks.com.


MY THOUGHTS

I never miss a book by Angela Hunt, and this series set within the intertestamental period has fascinated and educated me. I had never heard of Salome Alexander prior to reading this novel, and Hunt's expert research brings her to life. Historical fact intertwines with compelling fiction resulting in a can't-put-down tale of the years prior to the birth of Christ. Hunt expertly portrays the harsh realities of this ancient time while simultaneously displaying the timeless struggles of human heart. The turmoil within families resulting from the quest for power is heart-wrenching, and Salome's dedication to God in the midst of opposing forces encouraged and inspired me. This novel reminds the reader that while God may not have spoken through his prophets during the so-called silent years, he was not absent, fulfilling his purpose. Don't miss this dynamic book and series.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a digital copy of this book free from Baker/Bethany House Publishing and NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


THE SILENT YEARS - Click the covers to read my reviews





Q&A WITH ANGELA HUNT

1. I must confess, I’d never heard of Salome Alexandra, Queen of Jerusalem, before encountering your novel. Who was she?

I’d never heard of her either, until one of my theology professors mentioned her. Not much information is available about her, and what little information there is often contradicts itself. For instance, most Jewish history books say that she was the widow of Judah Aristobulus, who later married his brother, Alexander Jannaeus, but that couldn’t be possible because the high priest was required to marry a virgin. And we know that Judah Aristobulus married Salina, not Salome. Most people assume they were one and the same, yet they were not.

2. What made this woman worthy of a book? What did she do that was so unusual?

She was a good queen, and honestly religious. Her husband, Alexander Jannaeus, was high priest and king, and he was horrible. He ordered purges, he crucified hundreds of Pharisees and made his victims watch their families being murdered, he kept concubines—he was not a righteous man. But Salome Alexandra was a righteous woman, and after her husband died she reigned in his place and cleaned things up. She made sure girls were educated as well as boys, she changed the way marriage contracts were negotiated (so that women were provided for), and she blessed her people. The Jews said the years of her reign were “golden years,” when God blessed Judea.

3. Why didn’t those golden years continue after Salome Alexandra’s death?

Because she had two sons—one who was like her, with the other very much like her husband. The wild one attacked her heir right after her death, and their bloody war caused the Romans to invade, establishing, in the long run, Roman rule. Judea became a Roman province, Herod became king, and the last kings of the Hasmonean dynasty were killed.

4. What surprised you most as you researched this period? What was it, fifty years before Christ’s birth?

Salome Alexandra died in 67 BC, and the thing I found most fascinating was that many of the Jews of that time professed a real interest in studying Bible prophecy. The Torah scholars sensed that one epoch had concluded with the return of the Judeans from Babylonian exile, and a new one was about to begin. The Essenes, in particular, were looking for a messiah—or two, since they saw clear signs that God was getting ready to send a king and a high priest. They were looking for Christ, but they hadn’t quite figured out that the king and priest would be one person, and that God would send Him as a tiny baby who would be born to die so that we might be born again.






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