Monday, 6 February 2017

For the Record

Back Cover

Rather than wait for a Hero,
She decided to create one.

Betsy Huckabee has big-city dreams, but nobody outside of tiny Pine Gap, Missouri, seems interested in the articles she writes for her uncle’s newspaper.  Her hopes for independence may be crushed, until the best idea she’s ever had comes riding into town.

Deputy Joel Puckett didn’t want to leave Texas, but unfair circumstances have made moving to Pine Gap his only shot at keeping a badge.  Worse, this small town has big problems, and masked marauders have become too comfortable taking justice into their own hands.  He needs to make clear that he’s the law in this town – and that job is made more difficult with a nosy reporter who seems to follow him everywhere he goes.

The hero Betsy creates to be the star in a serial for the ladies’ pages is based on the dashing deputy, but he’s definitely fictional.  And since the pieces run only in newspapers far away, no one will ever know.  But the more time she spends with Deputy Puckett, the more she appreciates the real hero – and the more she realizes what her ambition could cost him.


Regina Jennings’s newest novel, For the Record, is a light-hearted historical read that highlights themes of forgiveness, trust, respect, and learning not to jump to conclusions.  Deputy Joel Puckett’s career was nearly shattered due to the conniving actions of another, and rather than stand up for him, his supervising sheriff decided to transfer him out of state – and out of mind of the townspeople.  He enters Pine Gap, Missouri with hopes of a fresh start.  Unbeknownst to him, Betsy Huckabee, with dreams of a better future, uses him as her inspiration for a serial newspaper story, which ultimately threatens the privacy that he was trying to protect.

I greatly enjoyed the character of Betsy Huckabee – she has a quick wit, spunk, and a huge imagination. She’s willing to work hard for what she wants, yet still cognizant of putting other people first (except perhaps when it comes to using Joel as inspiration for her story).  She was a fun character to read about, and totally anchored the story.

One tiny little grievance:  I did find the hyper-speed romance between Betsy and Joel a little unrealistic.  It moved at such a quick pace that I almost felt like reaching out into the story and telling them to slow it down!  However, the author did an excellent job in crafting two characters that thoroughly complement each other.

 In closing, For the Record, is a fun adventure-type romance that would certainly bring appreciative smiles to its readers.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

The Domino Effect

Back Cover

Esther Larsen, a top risk analyst at one of the country’s largest banking institutions, is becoming more and more convinced that she has uncovered a ticking bomb with the potential to make the 2008 market crash look minor by comparison.  And as her own employer pursues “investment” strategies with ever-increasing levels of risk, she becomes convinced she must do something.  But Esther is only one person; can she stand up to an international conspiracy of greed?  And if she does, will anyone take her seriously?

Every moment of indecision edges the markets closer to a tipping point – the teetering first domino in a standing row that circles the globe.  And when Esther finds her voice, those she seeks to expose will not sit idly by.  With global markets on the brink, and her own life in danger, Esther is locked in a race against the clock to avert a financial tsunami that threatens worldwide devastation.


This is the first novel I’ve read where the global markets were the central storyline to the book.  I confess I don’t have much of a head for numbers, but I found The Domino Effect quite fascinating.  Davis Bunn took great care in explaining various terminology and facets in relation to the markets that made this book very readable.  It was intriguing, suspenseful, and even slightly scary with respect to how interconnected the markets/economy are with our daily lives!  It was another great adventure read by the talented Davis Bunn.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Someone Like You

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Single mom Julia Dare has a lot on her plate.  A brand new Christian, she’s busy trying to run her own business, spend time with her widowed mother, and raise her young son, Max, despite his father’s less-than-ideal influence on him.  When a big account from her event-planning business sends her to the Caliente Springs resort, she’s shocked to come face-to-face with Zeke Monroe, the resort’s general manager and her college sweetheart.

With his faith in tatters, Zeke Monroe is determined to keep the historic Caliente Springs resort running despite financial difficulties.  But when Julia walks back into his life, he can’t ignore the feelings she stirs up.  As they work together on an important client’s dream wedding, the fate of the resort soon depends on their success.  When Zeke and Julia are pushed to their limits both personally and professionally, will their history put up walls between them or bring them together?


The first words that came to mind after reading this story was: “What a sweet romance!”  It was evident that Zeke and Julia cared for each other, supported one another, and was each other’s best friend, all the while putting God first.  It was a treat to read their story as it showcased how a couple ought to treat one another in a relationship. 

Someone Like You was an endearing romance and worthy of a second read (and I don’t say that very often!).

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Wreck My Life

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What if we began to recognize trouble and adversity as scared rather than scarring?

Jesus promises peace and trouble for His followers.  But most of us accept the peace and are confused and angry when adversity comes our way, turning our backs to God in the midst of our pain.

All-American soccer star Mo Isom knows the struggle firsthand.  While her life seemed like a success on the surface, behind closed doors she was suffering through an eating disorder, the suicide of her father, and a horrific car accident.  It wasn’t until God wrecked her life that she finally found like and discovered the true glory of renewal through Jesus Christ.

Take the journey from broken to bold and learn to surrender your life to the King who was first wrecked on your behalf.


In a raw and unflinching manner, Mo Isom tells us a story of loss and triumph, of heartache and restoration, and ultimately, of God’s sustaining and never-ending love, powerful enough to change lives and heal brokenness.

Mo gives us a look inside tumultuous times in her life and holds nothing back.  From her Dad’s suicide, her eating disorder, and how those circumstances brought incredible amount of pain into her life, to her journey to rest her hope and life solely in Christ, Mo’s story will impress itself on every reader’s heart.

Personally, it encouraged me in my own walk with Christ and challenged me to live more boldly – striving to always be a witness for Him who I call my Lord.  Mo has chosen to use the difficult and painful circumstances in her life as a platform for telling of the heavenly Father’s love for us, and Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. As she states in her book, the decision wasn’t an easy one, for it required complete and full surrender of her life to God.  As she says on Page 46, “…for some reason, we seem to be people who would rather place our hope in manmade autonomy than surrender our lives to a God-designed identify when that identity requires faith to believe.”  But, “…Christ didn’t just die for my (our) sins, He died because of my (our) sins.” (Page 115 – parenthesis added)  Once that is fully recognized, then “…I should actually set my gaze back on God instead of focusing so much on the details of the journey I wanted Him to be orchestrating…I think that oftentimes we would argue that we are open to God authoring our stories when, in actuality, we are trying in our own strength to conveniently squeeze God into the story we’ve prewritten ourselves” (Page 157).  I’m definitely guilty of looking at my life and doing my own thing, when I really should be saying “Lord, lead me to where YOU want me to be”.

In closing, thank you, Mo, for sharing your story, for encouraging fellow believers, and being a witness to the world. 

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Purgatory Road

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When a day trip out of Las Vegas with his wife takes a turn for the worse, Jack is sure he has the ability to get them home.  But he has driven into something far beyond reason.

Rescue comes in the form of a desert hermit, but hope fades as the couple comes to realize that the nomad has no intention of letting them leave.  A chance encounter with a kidnapped runaway and her crazed abductor leads them all farther into the wilderness – and closer to the cold brutality that isolation brings.

At the edge of his sanity, Jack begins to learn that playing by another’s rules may be the only way to survive.

In a voice as hypnotizing as a desert mirage, debut novelist Samuel Parker entices readers down a treacherous road, where the forces of good and evil are as crushing as the Mojave heat.


The “road” in this journey is twisty and unpredictable, leading to a climatic showdown between good and evil, reminiscent of a Frank Peretti novel.  Due to the surprising plot, I found the ending equally thrilling.  I have to say, I’m still not entirely sure what exactly happened, or who the nomad is, but I suppose the ambiguity of that adds to the overall suspense of the story.

Purgatory Road is a promising debut novel by Samuel Parker, a fresh face on the thriller/suspense market.  His writing is fantastic and the storyline always carried a thread of suspense.   The characters were equally intriguing and held up the framework of the story well.  I will be looking forward to reading more of the author’s work!

As a footnote:  the subject matter in the story was at times dark and disturbing, akin to a “Criminal Minds” episode.  So, from my viewpoint, reader discretion is advised.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Sea Rose Lane

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Two people starting over…in a town known for second chances.

After a devastating layoff, attorney Eric Nash heads back to Hope Harbor – only to discover that his childhood home is being transformed into a bed and breakfast.  Instead of plotting his next career move in peace, he’s constantly distracting by noise, chaos – and BJ Stevens, the attractive but prickly blonde architect who’s invaded the house with her motley crew.  AS for BJ, her client’s son might be handsome, but after a disastrous romance, dating isn’t high on her agenda.  Yet when they join forces to help Hope Harbor’s older residents, might they also find healing, hope, and a new beginning themselves?


Irene Hannon’s “Hope Harbor” series just keeps getting better and better.  Her excellent writing, engaging characters, and compelling storylines are always a breath of fresh air.  I await each of her books with eager anticipation, like a child at Christmastime waiting for Santa to bring presents.

Sea Rose Lane is a beautiful story of two people overcoming disastrous first impressions, and learning to give others a second chance – including themselves.  It tugs on the heartstrings as we read about BJ and Eric learning to lean on God to overcome rough patches in their lives, and follow His leading in their lives. I also loved seeing how they would take the time to help other individuals in the community, thereby striving to put other’s needs above their own.
All in all, a wonderful read – it’s always a real treat to visit Hope Harbor!  But I have to admit I’m getting real curious:  what is Charley`s story???

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Beloved Mess

Back Cover
 God doesn't expect you to have it all together.

Life is messy.  Yet the pressure to appear to others as though you've got it all together is a powerful force.  We strive to act normally, look good, and set a positive example.  AFter all, as others may tell us, we're the only Jesus some people see - so we better make him look good.  That's a heavy burden.

But the Christian life is not about being less of a mess.  It's about admitting that we need to be saved from trying to clean ourselves up.  In Beloved Mess, Kimm Crandall frees you to live with the assurance that God loves you right here, right now.  He's not waiting for you to clean up your act before you're worthy to come to him. In fact, he wants you to stop trying to fix the mess and allow him to wash it away.


Kimm's book would speak to any soul.  We live in a performance driven culture in the workforce and even in our personal life with family and friends whereby our worth is correlated to our daily actions and accomplishments.  It's only natural that the same attitude transfers over to our faith.  This book is an excellant reminder that "while we were yet sinners, Christ (loved and) died for us".  His love isn't conditional on what we say or do - if it was, we would be hopelessly lost and salvation would not be a finished work on the cross.  Rather, God loves us despite all that we do, the messes we create, and our ever present shortcomings.  Does this mean we never strive to do better?  Absolutely not.  As the Apostle Paul said, "should I sin so that grace may abound"?  But we need to let the love of God saturate our being, rest in His grace and mercy, otherwise we can easily fall into a cycle of works and despair, not doing things out of love for our Lord and His people, but "must do this or else!"

Beloved Mess is a very real book that is evidently written from the heart.  Kimm struggled (and still does) with the notion that God loves her right where she is - messes and all - and this book illuminates that struggle and desire to live with the assurance that no matter the failing, Christ's work on the cross is complete, and He loves her still.

I bent many page corners in this book to easily reference various points that really hit home for me, and wish to end on this quote from pages 121-122:

"Christ's love for you is not fickle.  It's not manipulative or abusive. 
God is not passive-aggressive or codependent. 
He has no requirements except that you need him.  He loves to love you. 
He is loving and pursuing you at this very moment, whether you want him to or not. 
It is a constant fight to mute the background noise of the world and of our past or present mess and listen to the Holy Spirit's voice of truth saying, 'You are my beloved mess.'"  

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.