I have been given the opportunity to do some reviews on some books from a few different publishers. Some of them do not quite fit into the focus I have for Living Infuzion, but obviously have some good information. Here are some of my perspectives on some pretty good books! Enjoy!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Becoming Myself - Stasi Eldredge

"Becoming Myself is for anyone who wonders if her life will ever change -- if she will ever change. Eldredge teaches readers that God wants them to participate in their transformation as he completes His good work in them. She invites women to look at their pasts, struggles, and wounds with honesty and mercy and to look toward their future with hope. An exploration of a women's true self, Becoming Myself will help women understand their identity and learn more about the God who beckons them to come closer." (Publisher's Description)

I have read books by Stasi Eldredge before and enjoyed them so when this book came up as a special book review offer I opted in.  Little did I know what I was getting myself into.  She is very open about the struggles in her life (weight loss, childhood issues) and how to use these to embrace all that God has for us.  I have and still struggle with many issues and found myself needing Kleenex and having to put the book down quiet often.  I am still working through the book, but I love this quote "Though our past has shaped us, we are not our past. Though our failures and sin have had an effect on who we are, we are not defined by our failures or sin."

"Book has been provided courtesy of David C. Cook and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  Available at your favourite bookseller.” 

Check out the book trailer below!

Parenting Your Powerful Child - Dr. Kevin Leman

" Don't let those cherublike faces fool you. Your smart kids have an agenda--and they're workin' ya.  Powerful kids don't just happen. They're created, and their power comes in different packages. Whether loud and temperamental, quiet and sensitive, or stubborn and manipulative, powerful children can make living with them a challenge. But it doesn't have to be that way.  In Parenting Your Powerful Child, New York Times bestselling author Dr. Kevin Leman offers a practical action plan to redirect your child's power surges into positive traits that will prepare your child for a successful, happy, and productive adult life. With these simple but effective techniques, you can transform your home from a daily battle zone to a safe and peaceful place. All it takes is a little determination--and some small changes on your part--to make a huge difference in your family life.  Ready for the power struggle to end?" (Publisher's Description)

Being a stay at home mom of three beautiful kids (two boys 8 & 6, and a girl 3) I definitely have some power struggles. I enjoy Dr. Leman and his use of real life stories.  It helps to remind you that you are not a freak and alone.  He provides great tips and never comes across as condescending.  I am still working through this book as I found that there is so much good stuff to take in that I don't want to miss anything.  I recommend this book to any parent whether there are issues or not. 

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group". 

Trapped - Irene Hannon

"A runaway teen, a desperate sister, and an intrepid PI determined to discover the truth.
When Laura Griffith's sixteen-year-old sister disappears on a frigid February day, leaving only a brief note behind, Laura resolves to do whatever it takes to track down the runaway teen. That includes recruiting ATF agent turned private investigator James Devlin to help. Dev knows time is of the essence with runaways--just forty-eight hours can mean the difference between recovery and ruin.  But the deeper he and Laura dig, the more Dev begins to suspect that something sinister is at work in the girl's disappearance. And in the icy winter weather, the trail is going cold . . . "

I was so excited to see the second book in Irene Hannon's Private Justice series come up for review.  I loved the first book Vanished and couldn't wait to read more about the detectives at the Phoenix Agency.   Dev is intrigued by Laura when she walks into the agency.  She is unlike any of the typical girls he dates but being a client he tires to keep his heart untangled which proves to be rather difficult.  Laura is desperate to find her sister and that desperation causes her to make a dangerous choice.  Can Dev and his team solve the case in time to save them both?  I could hardly put this book down and my laundry room showed for it!  Another great read by Irene Hannon and I cannot wait to read the next one!

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group". 

Dangerous Passage - Lisa Harris

"She's dedicated her life to ending violence. But has she moved too deep into a treacherous world? When two Jane Does are killed on the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia, detective and behavioral specialist Avery North discovers they share something in common--a magnolia tattoo on their shoulders. Suspecting a serial killer, Avery joins forces with medical examiner Jackson Bryant to solve the crimes and prevent another murder. As they venture deep into a sinister criminal world, Avery and Jackson are taken to the very edge of their abilities--and their hearts." (Publisher's description)

From the opening chapter, this book had me hooked.  With many twists and turns, this book kept me up late at night reading just one more chapter, again and again.  I thoroughly enjoyed Avery North and the tenacity she has for the case.  She pours her all into the Magnolia case and it comes with dangerous consequences.  Her budding relationship with Jackson is just what she needs but with the baggage she carries, she's unsure of whether to continue it or not.  I highly recommend this book for those who love procedural crime dramas.  I look forward to her next book.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group". 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

That Certain Summer - Irene Hannon

"Two very different sisters . . . an unexpected homecoming . . . one unforgettable summer Karen and Val are family--yet they're anything but close. Karen has carried the burden of responsibility for her aging mother ever since her sister left town years ago to pursue a career in theater. But Val had other reasons for moving away--as well as a secret to keep--and coming home has never been an option . . . until their mother suffers a stroke.  Reunited in their hometown, Karen and Val must grapple with past mistakes as they care for their ailing mother. When two handsome men enter the picture, the summer takes on a surprising new dimension. As their lives intersect, can each of them learn how to forgive, let go, and move on? And strengthened by the healing power of faith, might they also find the courage to love?"
I am a big fan of Irene Hannon's procedural/suspense novels and was intrigued when I heard that she was going to be writing one that was not like her previous novels.  Any reservations I may have had were completely gone halfway into the first chapter.  I absolutely loved this book.  The pairings of Val/David and Karen/Scott was so incredibly interesting.   They pulled the best and worst out of each other.  They each had their own issues, but were stretched by their interactions with the others.  I loved seeing Val and Karen's relationship as sisters grow from so antagonistic, to close and being there for each other.  I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a good summer read!

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group

Stealing The Preacher - Karen Witemeyer

"A cowboy who wants to be a preacher. An outlaw's daughter who wants to change his mind. On his way to interview for a position at a church in the Piney Woods of Texas, Crockett Archer can't believe it when he's forced off the train by an outlaw and presented to the man's daughter as the preacher she requested for her birthday. He's determined to escape--which would be much easier if he could stop thinking about Joanna Robbins and her unexpected request. For months, Joanna had prayed for a minister. A man to breathe life back into the abandoned church at the heart of her community. A man to assist her in fulfilling a promise to her dying mother. But just when it seems her prayers have been answered, it turns out the parson is there against his will and has dreams of his own calling him elsewhere. Is there any way she can convince Crockett he ended up right where he was supposed to be?"

I had picked up the first book, Short Straw Bride, on a whim and absolutely loved it; so when I saw that there was another book about the Archer brothers I jumped at the opportunity to review it!  I love the character of Joanna.  She's so full of spunk but yet also so desirous of God's will.  It made her the perfect match for Crockett Archer!  I also enjoyed the discussions about faith and God between Crockett (the preacher) and Silas (Joanna's unbelieving father).  I hope that Ms. Witemeyer writes another Archer book soon!!

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group

The Quarryman's Daughter - Tracie Peterson

"Emmalyne Knox has always loved Tavin MacLachlan. But when tragedy strikes her family, Emmalyne's father declares she can no longer marry. Despite Tavin's pleas to defy the decision, Emmalyne refuses. In her act of obedience, she gives up the future she'd always dreamed of.  When Emmalyne's father returns to the quarry business years later, Tavin and Emmalyne meet again. And though circumstances have changed in both of their lives, they cannot deny the feelings that still exist. Can Emmalyne find a way to heal the decade-long wound that has fractured the two families...and change the hearts of those who stand in the way of true love?"

This is the second book in the Land of the Shining Waters series by Tracie Peterson and as usual it just keeps getting better!  From the opening chapter my heart was totally tied up in Emmalyne's lot in life.  Her devotion to honoring her parents even in the face of having to give up her own dreams and desires broke my heart.  When she moves with her family back to the town she left, she finds her heart still belongs to Tavin.  This book was hard to put down.  I always enjoy reading Ms. Peterson's books.  Her vivid descriptions and characterizations are wonderful as usual.  This book can be read as a stand alone; but I highly recommend picking up the first book.  I cannot wait until the next book comes out!

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group

Deadly Devotion - Port Astor Secrets #1 - Sandra Orchard

"Kate knows the truth is out there--but if she's right, that means a killer is out there too.
Research scientists Kate Adams and Daisy Leacock were on the brink of a breakthrough for treating depression with herbal medicine when Daisy was suddenly found dead. Kate knows that her mentor's death wasn't suicide or a careless accident--and she's determined to do whatever it takes to unearth the truth about what happened to the woman who changed her life. Former FBI agent Tom Parker is finding it hard to adjust to life back in his hometown of Port Aster. Though an old buddy gave him a job as a detective on the local police force, not everyone approves. Tom's just trying to keep a low profile, so when Kate Adams demands he reopen the investigation into her friend's death, he knows his job is at stake. But despite his attraction to her, Tom thinks Kate may have something to hide. As evidence mounts, a web of intrigue is woven around the sleepy town of Port Aster. Can Kate uncover the truth? Or will Tom stand in her way?"

I really enjoyed reading this book.  There were quite a few twists and turns throughout that kept the reader guessing.  I loved the character of Kate Adams.  She is so full of spunk and tenacity.  She's the only one in town who believes that her friend did not die by suicide and does her best to try to convince the police.  Ms. Orchard did a wonderful job of keeping me guessing as to who did it.  The ending left me wanting more, and I cannot wait for the next book in the series!

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Revealing Jesus - Darlene Zschech

"Powerful Encounters With the Heart of Our Savior For Every Day.  Do you long for more of God's presence? Do you ache to see Him at work in your life? Do you desire His peace and rest? Renowned worship leader Darlene Zschech invites you to gather with her around the Word of God. Born out of her own yearnings that she poured onto the pages of journals, these meditations and Scriptures reveal Jesus and speak of His finished work--how He tenderly cares for you and wants you to know Him.  Honest, raw, and beautifully written, these devotions will inspire your journey and encourage you in every season. Come, sit at the feet of our Lord, be strengthened in your weakness, embrace His love for you, and breathe in His peace."

I have been looking for a good devotional for some time, so I jumped at the chance to review this book.  I must say, it is a wonderful devotional which arrived at a perfect time!  It is laid out over 365 days, so I started reading from the day I got it.  Each devotion is only one page, which is perfect for a quick morning read before I have to get my three young kids ready for the day.  Don't let the length fool you though.  Each page is full of depth that leaves you with a lot to think on; but also has wonderful encouragements and biblical truths that will uplift you as well.  Darlene is very open and honest in her reflections and let me say they are challenging and encouraging.  I am so happy that I chose to review this book and highly recommend it for anyone looking for a short, but powerful and impacting devotional.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

The Guardian - Beverly Lewis

"Come home to Hickory Hollow, Pennsylvania--the beloved setting where Beverly Lewis's celebrated Amish novels began--with new characters and new stories of drama, romance, and the ties that draw people together.  When Jodi Winfield comes to Lancaster to house-sit, the last thing she expects to find is a disheveled little girl alone on the side of the road. The young teacher is mystified when she learns there have been no reports of a missing child, and the girl herself is no help, since she can't speak English. It's as if the child appeared out of nowhere.  Then Jodi turns her attention to Hickory Hollow--and the cloistered world of the Old Order Amish--in search of answers."

This is the third book in Beverly Lewis' Home to Hickory Hollow series.  I always enjoy reading Mrs. Lewis' books.  Her vivid descriptions and characters make the words on the page just come alive.  I can just picture the little Amish houses and would love to sit and have tea with the wise woman!  I loved how the characters of Jodi (an English woman) and Maryanna (an Amish woman) although lead drastically different lives, each are used by God to help the other grow and flourish for Him.  I just saw that there will be a fourth book in the series, The Secret Keeper, coming out in September and I cannot wait!!  This is an excellent book to add to a summer reading list!

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favorite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

Jennifer: An O'Malley Love Story - Dee Henderson

It's a summer of change for Jennifer O'Malley.  The busy physician has a pediatrics practice in Dallas, Texas, and meeting and falling in love with surgeon Tom Peterson is adding a rich layer to her life. She's sorting out how to introduce Tom to her family--she's the youngest of seven--and thinking about marriage.  She's falling in love with Jesus too, and knows God is good. But that faith is about to be tested, and in a way she didn't expect. The results will soon transform her entire family." 

I was beyond thrilled to see this book in the list of books to review for the month of May.  Dee Henderson was the very first Christian author that I was exposed to.  I love her O'Malley series and have long hoped to see Jennifer's story be written.  Although short in length, Jennifer's story is a great read, a bittersweet romance.  Jennifer is a successful pediatrician who loves what she does; but struggles with the idea of God because of the sickness she sees.  A chance meeting with Tom starts her on a path of self examination and opening herself up to the idea of God.  Just when everything is going well, she is dealt a shocking blow that will put her new found faith to the test.  You don't have to have read the rest of the O'Malley series to understand all that is going on; but it was really nice to see the drop in the pond that starts the ripples that make up the rest of the series.  I highly recommend this book but also suggest that you pick up the other five books to watch Jennifer's story continue to unfold. 

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favorite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Fantasy Fallacy by Shannon Ethridge

Now here is a book that is not afraid to go where angels fear to tread.  Over the years I have read many Christian books on the topic of sex.  This one intrigued me because it is set up as a response to the 50 Shades of Grey novels.  I kept hearing about these books, and wondered if it was something that I could read.   I have always tried to be an intellectually responsible person, and thought that if I was going to read the rebuttal, that I would have to read the novels to ensure that Ms. Ethridge had read them herself.  I was pleased when she wrote about reading the novels, and then she described some of her reactions in the initial part of the book.
But this book is SO MUCH MORE than just a rebuttal to the 50 Shades novels.  Ethridge digs deep into the healthy and unhealthy appetites of people.  She draws on her years of experience as a speaker, counsellor, and author to speak to some really dark issues of sexuality.  This book may not be for everyone.  It challenged my comfort zone, and I have been exposed to a lot over the years.  Some of my exposure has been due to bad choices, and some just because of the way our culture is… overly sexually charged and even moving sex into the ultimate experience… even making sex a god on its own.
She uses practical cases from her practice, and from her own life to illustrate not just God’s standards for sexuality, but to show why those guidelines are in place.  I can see many examples of where “just a little thing” leads to something over the long term.
Pick up this book if you are a Christian dabbling in the 50 Shades novels, or if you have some things that have hidden in your heart.  This book can help you find some wisdom in how to proceed, bring you face to face with God’s healing, and help point you in the direction of getting the help you need.
This book was provided to me for my unbiased review by Booksneeze.
For Christian books and gifts, either online or when in Ottawa, visit Salem Storehouse.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Reckless Faith by Kevin G. Harney

I have read many books where they are filled with facts and information.  I have read books where I have been taught something.  This book “Reckless Faith” by Kevin Harney, is one of those books that goes beyond teaching, and has challenged me to DO something.  I don’t know how you could read this book and not be motivated to do something for God…. To change your complacency and examine the amount of time that each of us wastes.  Anyone else tired of just coasting in their faith?
The book is chaptered into sections on love, generosity, service, relationships, prayer, and words.  Each chapter challenges the reader to really dig deep into all of these areas.  The chapter on love talks about loving… truly loving God’s people.  It also goes into the reckless love of God that allows some to be martyred.  The section on generosity is about sharing with people, and giving to the work of God.  Service is something that is lacking in the current mindset, and the Bible teaches leadership by serving.  And the book continues with the other topics.  The topics chosen are areas where people are likely to just let complacency set in…. prayer, and the words that they use are two.
There is a pattern.  Those that have reckless faith accomplish what God has for them, and they have the impact that God wants them to have.  This book challenges the reader to such faith, and it has deep scriptural roots for what it challenges.  The book also draws on the experiences of Christians throughout history that have acted on the faith that it takes. 
Harney also writes in a balanced way to the idea of reckless faith.  He teaches how to find God’s voice in the acts of faith.  This book is not about going out and doing the crazy, but the reckless faith that comes from hearing God’s Holy Spirit.
I recommend this book to anyone feeling blah in their faith, or to those that think that they are just doing ‘good enough’.  Those that are out living the reckless faith probably don’t have time for this kind of book.
I was provided a copy of this book for my unbiased review by Baker Books.
For shopping online, or when in the Ottawa area, check out Salem Storehouse.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Cast Of Stones - Patrick W. Carr

"The Fate of the Kingdom Awaits the Cast of Stones.  In the backwater village of Callowford, roustabout Errol Stone is enlisted by a church messenger arriving with urgent missives for the hermit priest in the hills. Eager for coin, Errol agrees to what he thinks will be an easy task, but soon finds himself hunted by deadly assassins. Forced to flee with the priest and a small band of travelers, Errol soon learns he's joined a quest that could change the fate of his kingdom.  Protected for millennia by the heirs of the first king, the kingdom's dynasty nears its end and the selection of the new king begins--but in secret and shadow. As danger mounts, Errol must leave behind the stains and griefs of the past, learn to fight, and discover who is hunting him and his companions and how far they will go to stop the reading of the stones."

I don't usually read the fantasy fiction genre, I often find it rather hard sometimes to follow; but when I read the synopsis for this book, I thought I would give it a try.  (Especially when I saw it involved medieval times which is one of my favorite periods of history)  While it took me a little bit to get into, I will say that the book did not disappoint.  The author did a great job of weaving a tale and having it unfold at a good pace. (I was rather shocked to find that this was the author's first novel.  It definitely didn't come across that way!)  I found that this really didn't read like a typical fantasy novel; but more like a beautiful medieval tale.  Errol is such a flawed character with immense struggles to overcome.  I look forward to the next novel to see how Errol's story continues to unfold. 

 "Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favorite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

Friday, April 19, 2013

Grace by Max Lucado

I love Max Lucado books!  If there is a person out there that shows that there is a gift of a teacher, he has it!  In Grace, Max Lucado writes about several aspects of the idea of God’s Grace in the Bible.  The subtitle for the book in “More than we deserve.  Greater than we imagine.”  I think this is one of the biggest things that is misunderstood by people in current culture.  By Grace we are saved… through faith.  We don’t have to work for God’s Grace.  That is the focus of this book.
Lucado touches on a few stories that are familiar to most, but he applies his usual way of unlocking them, and sharing them in a way that is relevant to a modern reader.  He leads in the book with his own story of a heart operation, and then compares that to how receiving God’s Grace can be like having a spiritual heart transplant.  He uses the story of the woman caught in the act of adultery, ask the modern reader what act of sin they would be caught in?  How does God’s grace apply to the reader?  He brings in the story of Barabbas, and the story of the Exodus.
This book is the perfect balance of biblical narrative, scripture application, and modern application to be able to teach people about God’s Grace.  As a pastor of tweens, I can see how I could teach them from the lessons here, but there is something in this book for a Christian of any age.
I was provided a copy of this book from Thomas Nelson for my unbiased review. 
For shopping online, or when in the Ottawa area, check out Salem Storehouse.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Church in an Age of Crisis by James Emery White

As they say, “the handwriting is on the wall”.  Culture changes and people are culture.  The way people think changes.  The way a society organizes itself and structures itself changes based on the desires of the group.  The message of the Gospel is for all people, and is relevant for all time.  If the church wants to keep moving forward, then there does have to be some thinking about how the message of the Gospel is perceived by society, and how it can be shared with society.
The Message of the Gospel is sacred.  The method that it is shared is not.
In The Church in an Age of Crisis by James Emery White out lines 25 ways that thinking has changed, and how the message of Scripture sits with respect to those changes.  It is a book about the alarming degradation of moral thought and behaviour in North American culture.  The book is broken into section about faith, thought, the family, media and then it has a section at the end about the mission of the church in all of this.
In that last section, Dr. White speaks to some of the ways that the Church is misrepresented, and about how there are many myths that people believe that have nothing to do with the church.  He discusses the relevance of church in society, and how to listen to those that are unchurched.  He also discusses the idea of evangelism, and how it is not happening.
I found this book to be a very sobering look at where the church is, and how it’s impact on the world is… how it REALLY is.  I go to a church where we use some pretty unconventional means to reach out to this generation of young people, but I get the impression that the church as a whole needs to do more…. A WHOLE LOT MORE.  Get out and share your faith!
I was given a complimentary copy of the book by Baker Books for my unbiased review.
Visit Salem Storehouse for Christian books, music and supplies, online, or when you are in the Ottawa area.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Conviction to Lead by Albert Mohler

The Conviction to Lead (25 Principles for Leadership That Matter) by Albert Mohler takes is a different kind of leadership book.  I have read many books on leadership over the years, both from the general leadership, and the church leadership perspectives.  Most focus on the “this is how I run my day” tone.  Those are very good, and you can learn a lot from those books.  But I think Dr. Mohler takes things to a deeper level.  He addresses the core of the person.  Who is that person?  He talks about how to lead, you must be able to find your conviction, and be able to impact others and transfer those conviction to them.  By getting people to act on their convictions, they will be changing others, and even challenging the culture.
Some of the topics discussed are: how leaders must be able to teach, how leaders develop strong character, how leaders are readers and how in turn they should also be writers and communicators, and how leaders manage power and authority.  The book also touches on the things from the culture that push on the leader and how they must move forward.
This is a very well rounded leadership book, and will definitely challenge the way leadership is practiced in many churches and organizations. 
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House to review.  I was not required to give a positive review.
If you are in the Ottawa area, please check out http://www.salemstorehouse.com/

Thursday, April 4, 2013

insignificant by Chris Travis

Publisher's Description:
If you want to change the world, you have to do it God's way. And God's way looks nothing like our culture's way. Author and pastor Chris Travis gathers powerful true stories--including his own experiences teaching in a dangerous public school--to cast a vision of how God has a way of turning things upside down: he makes the weak strong, the foolish wise, and the insignificant matter. Anyone who wants to live a life of meaning will benefit from this gripping and insightful book. Includes end-of-chapter questions for personal study or small group discussions.
insignificant by Chris Travis was really interesting to me.  I have never worked in a school in Harlem, but I have gone through times in life where God has stripped me down to the core, and then begun to rebuild me.  I think anyone that has been in leadership has had to go through something similar and Travis writes in a way that you can identify with him in his agony and his thoughts.  Leaders learn to rely on their gifts, but what happens when they are useless to the situation, and you are forced to do things by leaning on God for everything?  This is a must read for the well-established leader.

A copy of this book was provided by Bethany House for my review.

If you are in the Ottawa area, please check out http://www.salemstorehouse.com/ for Christian books and supplies.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Icecutter's Daughter - Tracie Peterson

"As the lone female in a houseful of men, Merrill Krause dedicates her life to caring for her family and their business, as her dying mother asked. Besides, it suits her; she's never felt like she fits what most people expect in a girl--she'd rather work with her father’s horses and assist with the ice harvest. And though she’s been mostly content up to this point, a part of her wonders if there will ever be anyone who will notice her amid the bevy of brothers determined to protect her from any possible suitors.  When Rurik Jorgenson arrives in their small Minnesota town to join his uncle's carpentry business, he soon crosses paths with Merrill. But unlike other men, who are often frightened away by her older brothers, Rurik isn't intimidated by them or by Merrill's strength and lack of femininity. The attraction between them begins to build...until Rurik's former fiancĂ© shows up with wild claims that bring serious consequences to Rurik.  Can Rurik and Merrill learn to trust God--and each other--when scandal threatens their newfound love?" (Publisher's description)

I always enjoy reading Tracie Peterson's novels and with The Icecutter's Daughter, she most definitely does not disappoint.   I loved the character of Merrill.  Not being much of a girlie girl myself, I can totally relate to Merrill.  Her strength and determination to care for her brothers and father is wonderful.  I felt bad for her when Corabeth and her grandmother kept trying to make her more girlish so she would attract a guy better.    I wanted to reach into the pages and strangle Svea and her manipulative ways, but was pleased at how she turned out in the end.  I loved also reading about the process of ice cutting and the dangers it entails.  Cannot wait for the next book in the series!!

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favorite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Swept Away - Mary Connealy

When a cowboy focused on revenge encounters a woman determined to distract him, there's going to be trouble in Texas!  Swept away when her wagon train attempts a difficult river crossing, Ruthy MacNeil isn't terribly upset at being separated from the family who raised her. All they've ever done is work her to the bone. Alive but disoriented, she's rescued by Luke Stone...so unfortunately, there are more chances to die in her immediate future.  Luke is on a mission to reclaim the ranch stolen from his family. But the men currently on the property won't let it go without a fight. Luke plans to meet up with friends who will help him take back the land, and since he can't just leave Ruthy in the middle of nowhere, she’s going to have to go with him.  But the more time Luke spends around the hardworking young woman, the more he finds himself thinking of things besides revenge. Will Ruthy convince him to give up his destructive path and be swept away by love? (Publisher's description)

This is the first book I have read by Mary Connealy.  I have always enjoyed western fiction this certainly does not disappoint.  I must say I thoroughly enjoyed every page.  It kept me hanging on from the very opening scene, right up until the end.  I enjoyed how the heroine Ruthy is not just a damsel in distress.  She's spunky and can hold her own when it comes to Luke.  I loved each of the other members of the Regulators and am looking forward to seeing them explored in future books.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favorite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Unrivaled - Siri Mitchell

"Lucy Kendall returns from a tour of the Continent, her luggage filled with the latest fashions and a mind fired by inspiration. After tasting Europe's best confections, she's sure she'll come up with a recipe that will save her father's struggling candy business and reverse their fortunes. But she soon discovers that their biggest competitor, the cheat who swindled her father out of his prize recipe, has now hired a promotions manager--a cocky, handsome out-of-towner who gets under Lucy’s skin.  Charlie Clarke's new role at Standard Manufacturing is the chance of a lifetime. He can put some rough times behind him and reconnect with the father he's never known. The one thing he never counted on, however, was tenacious Lucy Kendall. She's making his work life miserable...and making herself impossible for him to forget"  (Publisher's description)

I loved reading this book.  Lucy is a wonderfully written character full of spunk and fight but is also blinded to how her desperation to help her save her father's company hurts those around her.  Charlie struggles to deal with reconnecting with his father who abandoned the family when he was younger but now wants him to help him run his candy company.  When Charlie & Lucy realize that the other is the competition, they struggle with their feelings for the enemy.  This is the first time I have read a book where it flips back and forth between the two main characters' points of view.  I found that it really added to understanding what drove both Charlie and Lucy and how their actions and decisions made the other feel.  The only downside of this book was that I found myself wanting to eat candy while I read it because of the wonderful descriptions of some of the candies Lucy makes.  (Made my mouth water!) 

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favorite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Vanished - Irene Hannon

"A tenacious reporter. A skeptical PI. And a secret that will shatter lives.  Reporter Moira Harrison is lost. In the dark. In a thunderstorm. When a lone figure suddenly appears in the beam of her headlights, Moira slams on her brakes-but it’s too late. She feels the solid thump against the side of her car before crashing into a tree on the far side of the road.  A man opens her door, tells her he saw everything, and promises to call 911. Then the world fades to black. When she comes to, she is alone. No man. No 911. No injured person. But she can’t forget the look of terror she saw on that face in the instant before her headlights swung away. And she can’t get anyone to believe her story-except maybe a handsome ex–homicide detective turned private eye, who reluctantly agrees to take on the case.  As clues begin to surface, it becomes obvious that someone doesn’t want this mystery solved-and will stop at nothing to protect a shocking secret."

I have previously enjoyed Irene Hannon's Guardians of Justice and Heroes of Quantico series; so when the opportunity came in my email to review the first book in her new series I jumped at the chance.  Just when I thought Mrs. Hannon couldn't get any better, she goes and proves this fan wrong.  Vanished grabs you right from the very first chapter and keeps you guessing right until the very end.  It is a fast paced, page turner that kept me on the edge of my seat.  (I found myself staying up rather late one night saying one more chapter and it ended up being five more chapters!)  Moira and Cal's journey is fraught with danger and intrigue.  The development of their relationship is very natural and not forced.  They each carry a big amount of hurt and baggage that the other helps them to see through the eyes of God.   I look ever so much forward to exploring the other two men that make up the Phoenix Inc. detective agency in future books.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good suspense filled page turner.  (Also highly recommend the other series as well!!!)

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Breath of Dawn - Kristen Heitzmann

The Breath of Dawn"Corporate turnaround specialist Morgan Spencer, dubbed the "success guru," has a Midas touch in business. But losing his wife sent him to the brink, and his two-year-old daughter, Livie, is all he's living for--until they encounter a woman whose trouble just might draw him out of his own.  Four years ago Quinn Reilly did the right thing. Now the man her testimony put in jail is getting out. Though she has put up barriers to protect herself and those around her, she has come to care for the Spencer family, especially the winsome Livie and her mercurial father. Unwilling to put them at risk when the threats begin, she requests something she hopes the super-successful Morgan might be able to deliver.  Fixing problems is what Morgan does best, but his counterproposal takes them in a direction neither is equipped to handle. Determined to confront the past, will they survive to build a future?" (Publisher's description)

I was extremely excited to see this title come up for review.  I have thoroughly enjoyed every Kristen Heitzmann book that I have read and this is no exception.  I was excited to see the Spencer brothers again, but sad about the loss of Jill.  But that being said I loved Quinn right off the bat.  She is full of spunk and has a giant heart.  The development of the relationship between Morgan and Quinn is a roller coaster ride and beautifully written.  The suspense lasts throughout all 448 pages to say it was hard to put down is an understatement.  Another amazing job by Kristen Heitzmann!

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin  Communications, Inc.  Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group. 

Placebo: A Jevin Banks Novel - Steven James

Placebo: A Jevin Banks Novel"One man must uncover the truth-even when others will stop at nothing to keep it buried.  While investigating a controversial neurological research program, exposĂ© filmmaker Jevin Banks is drawn into a far-reaching conspiracy involving one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical firms. He seeks answers about the questionable mind-to-mind communication program-and answers to his own family tragedy.  Rooted in groundbreaking science, Placebo explores the far reaches of science, consciousness, and faith. This taut, intelligent, and emotionally gripping new thriller from master storyteller Steven James will keep you flipping pages late into the night." (Publisher's description)

This was my first foray into the novels of Steven James and I must say he can write quite the page turner.  Placebo is an action packed, thrill ride that was rather hard to put down.  The switches of POV throughout the novel was absolutely seamless, some of the best I have ever seen.   My only complaint was that I got lost a few times in all the technology language, but other than that it was a great read.  It will be interesting to see where the next Jevin Banks adventure goes!

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.