Saturday, 15 July 2017

With You Always

http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/with-you-always/379430


Back Cover

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 Air 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 bother'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

With You Always is a heartrending story surrounding the extreme poverty and horrible conditions that beset many people in America in the mid-late 1800s.  It is tragic that some families worried about the very things we take for granted: clothing, shelter, food, personal safety, work, and family.  It was a time where parents were forced to make such difficult decisions as giving up their own children to asylums just so they wouldn't have to worry about whether their children would be fed and clothed.  Some children were outright orphaned and took the long train ride out West in hopes of being adopted by a loving family.  Some families provided wonderful homes for the orphans.  Others viewed the children as a form of free slave labor on their farms.

For men and women alike, the downward spiraling economy was not their friend.  Driven by power and money-hungry businessman whose only concern was their bottom line, the working class sunk deeper into poverty.  Settlements out in the West provided some hope of new jobs, and it is on this thread of hope that men would board the trains to a new town, and hopefully, a promising future.  With You Always rides on the hopes of orphans desiring a better future and the wealthy businessmen looking to make their next million.  

The author, Jody Hedlund, has weaved a rich historical tale during this time that engages the reader from the first page.  I was drawn into Elise's story and appreciated the deep love she held for her sisters, and her determination to look after them.  The love story between her and Thornton is sweet and tender and was a real bright spot in the novel.  I look forward to reading the sequel!

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

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Justice Delayed

http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/justice-delayed/376420


Back Cover

 Eighteen years ago, TV crime reporter Andi Hollister's sister was murdered.  The convicted killer sits behind bars, his execution date looming.  But when a letter surfaces stating that the condemned didn't do the crime, Detective Will Kincaide of the Memphis Cold Case Unit will stop at nothing to help Andi get to the bottom of it.  After all, this case is personal:  the man who confessed to the crime is Will's cousin.  Andi and Will must find the real killer before the wrong person is executed.  But what can happen in only a week?  Uncovering police corruption, running for your life, and, perhaps, falling in love?

Review

Justice Delayed is a classic "who-done-it" story with multiple rabbit trails, many different suspects,  and a hero/heroine who won't rest until justice is served.  

Driven to find the truth, Andi Hollister is a tenacious investigative reporter who doesn't let threats or trouble stop her from getting her story.  Her actions at times bring others around her into dangerous situations, so much more so when she starts digging into her sister's murder.  Detective Will Kincaide, who is equally determined (but perhaps more level-headed), reluctantly teams up with the fireball Andi to search for the truth together.  He is just as invested in clearing is cousin's name, but as his attraction for Andi grows, he is hesitant to put Andi in danger, often pitting the two at odds with each other.

Trouble falls quickly on the heels of each new revelation as Andi and Will pull back the layers of the past to get to the bottom of the mystery once and for all.  As sparks of romance begin to fly between the two main characters, Andi and Will have to decide whether a relationship between them is something worth pursuing - at the risk of potentially damaging their long-standing friendship should the relationship fail.  Another angle is introduced to the story as one of the characters in the book struggles with an addiction to narcotics.  The story of addiction for the character was an eye-opener in showing how someone can so easily, so simply, come to rely too heavily upon pain medication.  Of course, the results of the addiction can be devastating, and it serves as a reminder that we can never be too careful in using heavy painkillers.

Justice Delayed was an intriguing story that I enjoyed reading.  I'm looking forward to Andi's brother's story in Justice Buried, set to come out later this year!  
 

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

Monday, 12 June 2017

Invitation

http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/invitation/385270


Back Cover

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 favourite 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 - the 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 naive, 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

Close your windows.  Lock your doors. Check under your bed and look in your closet.  Then curl up in your favourite chair with some (calming) tea before cracking open Invitation.  

The first book in the new "Harbingers" series, Invitation is a collective effort by well-known authors, Bill Myers (his Forbidden Doors series gave me the shivers as a teen), Frank Peretti (the Christian fiction world wouldn't be the same without This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness), Angela Hunt (while not of the suspense genre, her "Heirs of Cahira O'Conner" series is one of my favourites), and Alton Gansky (Distant Memory was one of the first books that hooked me to the suspense genre).  The story revolves around four, and sometimes five, different (and quirky) individuals who all have unique gifts, several of which are on the supernatural side.  While it's a modern day setting, I felt immersed in an entirely different world!  In each novella, they encounter some strange otherworldly experiences that require each of their special gifts to overcome.  Intriguing doesn't begin to describe the stories.  Full of suspense, a heavy dose of creepiness, and a smattering of sassy dialogue, Invitation was a great collaborative effort.

In the introduction to the book, the authors write that one of their "rules" to writing this book was to write it like a TV series, with each author's story akin to an episode.  From there, depending on the response and demand of Invitation, it would then be decided whether further "episodes" would be written.  PLEASE do write more.  I haven't read a book as fast as I've read this one in a long, long time.

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

Conspiracy of Silence

http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/conspiracy-of-silence/378490


Back Cover

This is the way the world ends.

Four years after a tragic mission decimated his team, Cole "Tox" Russell has been disavowed by the United States.  And that's fine - he just wants to be left alone.  But when a dormant, centuries-old disease is unleashed, Tox is lured back into action.

Tox and his former Special Forces team regroup to work with FBI deception expert, Kasey Cortes, and fiery archaeologist, Tzivia Khalon, to search the globe for answers - and a cure.  As the mission leads from one continent to another, it becomes clear they're not just fighting a plague but battling an ancient secret society whose true goals remain hidden.

With time running out and the threat of a global pandemic rising, Tox and his team realize their sole chance might be to reach back through centuries of silence to find the only answer that can save them all.


Review

In her signature style, Ronie Kendig has crafted a fast-paced thriller packed with strong heroes and heroines, danger, intrigue, and sparks of romance.  Each chapter is filled with an onslaught of action as the characters race against time to stop a plague from wiping out civilization.  I was a little surprised at the "doomsday" plot as it is a bit of a departure from Ronie's previous works that I've read, but it is nonetheless a story that captures the reader's attention from the first to the last page.  I enjoyed the intertwining of Biblical themes and an Old Testament event as it made the situations and threats showcased in Conspiracy of Silence feel even more plausible.  I'm excited that this book is a start of a new series, and will be eagerly looking forward to subsequent novels.

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

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill

http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/the-innkeeper-of-ivy-hill/376350

Back Cover

The lifeblood of the village of Ivy Hill is its coaching inn, The Bell.  When the innkeeper dies suddenly, his genteel wife, Jane Bell, becomes the reluctant landlady.  Jane has no idea how to manage a business, but with the town's livelihood at state and a large loan due, she must quickly find a way to save the inn.

Despite their strained relationship, Jane turns to her resentful mother-in-law, Thora, for help.  Formerly mistress of The Bell, Thora is struggling to overcome her losses and find purpose for the future.  As she works with Jane, two men from her past vie for her attention, but Thora has promised herself never to marry again.  Will one of them convince her to embrace a second chance at love?

As pressure mounts from the bank, Jane employs new methods, and puzzles over the intentions of several men who seem to have a vested interest in the place, including a mysterious newcomer with secret plans of his own.  With the help of friends old and new, can Jane restore life to the in, and to her empty heart as well?

Review

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill is another beautifully written story by Julie Klassen.  Julie takes her time developing her characters, fleshing out their personalities to make them so real they could jump off the page.  The story itself was a little bit slower than her previous novels, but still well written with a historical setting that felt very authentic.   There were multiple relationships showcased throughout the story, romantic and family alike, which makes me eager to read the sequel.  Another well-done historical novel!


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

Monday, 22 May 2017

A Moonbow Night

http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/a-moonbow-night/375090


Back Cover

After fleeing Virginia, Temperance Tucker and her family established an inn along the Shawnee River.  It's a welcome way station for settlers and frontiersmen traveling through the wild Cumberland region of Kentucke - men like Sion Morgan, a Virginia surveyor who arrives at the inn with his crew, looking for an experienced guide.

Though he balks when Tempe is appointed to lead his team through the wilderness, it isn't long before Sion must admit that her abilities may outmatch his own.  But can the tenuous tie they are forming survive the dangers waiting just around the bend?

Review

Laura Frantz brings her readers into a perilous wilderness where looking over your shoulder for danger is as much of a habit as having a coffee with your breakfast.  A place where "friends" and "allies" don't always stay true, and often the only thing you have left to hold onto is faith.

Tempe is a strong woman, able to and track with the best of them.  Her skills were born of necessity in order to survive in the beloved woods she calls home.  She has a fiercely loyal spirit to her family, and it is because of that, she becomes a tracker for Sion Morgan and his team.  Sion, an indomitable force himself, finds himself drawn to Tempe and dreaming of a life he thought he would never have.  

I greatly enjoyed Laura Frantz' A Moonbow Night with her almost poetic writing style with what felt like authentic dialogue that immersed me in a story of family, loyalties, Indian raids, dangerous wilderness, and love.  She has crafted a story that will snag a reader's attention from the very first page to the final word.  A great read.

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

Monday, 6 February 2017

For the Record




http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/for-the-record/346090


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.


Review


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


http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/the-domino-effect/379500




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.


Review


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

http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/someone-like-you/375551


Back Cover


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?


Review


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

http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/wreck-my-life/379300


Back Cover


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.


Review


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

http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/purgatory-road/381160




Back Cover


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.


Review


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

http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/sea-rose-lane/379880




Back Cover


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?


Review

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.