Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Donn Taylor's book, Deadly Additive, is a roller-coaster ride of excitement. I don't normally gravitate toward Action/Adventure novels, but as a fan of Taylor's writing. I knew I'd like this one.
He mixes switched identities, loathsome bad guys, and an appealing hero and heroine into a hard-to-put-down novel. The action ranges from the tropics to the northern United States, and in every case his descriptions make you feel you're part of the story.
One extra feature that I particularly enjoyed was the inclusion of a family who mangle the English language with malapropisms. I remembered Taylor's humor from his previous book, Rhapsody in Red, and was glad to see it surface again in Deadly Additive.
If you're looking for an enjoyable read over these dark winter nights, I recommend Deadly Additive. The tropical scenes will help you forget the cold.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

COURTING CATE, by Leslie Gould

Cate Miller's younger sister Betsy has attracted the attention of most of the eligible men in Paradise, Pennsylvania. The only attention Cate attracts is teasing and avoidance, due to her sharp tongue and quick temper.
When Betsy settles on one beau and wants to marry him, their father makes a new rule: Cate, the older sister, must marry first. Unfortunately, most of the local bachelors have been scorched by Cate's tongue and want nothing to do with her.
When newcomer Pete Treger arrives in town, he's attracted to Cate's beauty and intelligence and seeks out her company. Things look rosy for Betsy and her beau until Cate begins to suspect Pete is more interested in her father's money than in her.
From this point on, the story gets better and better (not to say it wasn't terrific in the first place). The choices Cate and Betsy make had me chuckling through much of Courting Cate.
I loved Courting Cate and recommend this novel highly.
My thanks to the author and Bethany House for my review copy.

Friday, October 12, 2012

MAKING PIECE: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Pie, by Beth M. Howard

In Making Piece, Beth Howard begins by describing a banana cream pie her mother made that prompted Beth's father to propose. She follows in her mother's footsteps, and bakes an apple pie for the man she eventually marries.
From that point on, the book turns into a memoir of loss. When Beth's husband dies suddenly, she is adrift and awash with grief. She turns to her love of baking pies as a means to work her way through the terrible aftermath of her husband's death. At the urging of a friend, her journey takes her through making a pilot for a reality TV show about pies and the bakers of pies.
Where she goes, and the discoveries she makes during her grieving process, form the major portion of this memoir. She describes in detail her steps to regain her focus in life, all based around pie. The descriptions she provides of pie-making, as well as the lovingly detailed descriptions of apple, banana cream, peach, coconut cream, and French silk pies will send you out the door to the nearest pie shop. Or have you tying on an apron to make your own. (The end of the book provides recipes.)
As someone who has experienced the death of a spouse, the early parts of this book stirred emotions I thought were long-buried. I could fully relate to many of her reactions and feelings. I'd warn any recent widows to put this book aside for a year or two. The emotions described are too painful.
Having said that, once Beth (and by proxy, you the reader) get through the worst of the grief, the ending portion is delightful. Readers of Making Piece will be encouraged by the author's journey.
Making Piece is written for the general market, and as such contains limited profanity as well as some sexual references.

Friday, September 14, 2012

THE REUNION, by Dan Walsh

Aaron Miller is a Vietnam veteran. Once upon a time a hero, now forgotten--except by three of the men with whom he served in the jungles of Vietnam. Aaron's job as handyman in a trailer park is about as far from heroism as he can get, and he prefers it that way.
Dave Russo is a reporter for his local paper. In his spare time, he’s working on a book about men who served in the Vietnam war. He's compiled a list of names from old news accounts, and when he contacts John Lansing, one of those names, the former Marine makes him an offer too good to refuse--find Aaron Miller. After John shares his reasons, Dave agrees to do what he can to find a man whom no one who knew him has seen for decades.
Walsh's storytelling skills shine in The Reunion. His descriptions of jungle battle scenes were so realistic I was transfixed in horror. The novel moves at a brisk pace, with surprises in every chapter. Be sure you have tissues on hand when you read the final scenes.
I don't normally get too personal in my reviews, but my husband is a Vietnam vet. Reading about Aaron's (and the other men's) struggles brought me to tears more than once. In addition to being a gripping novel, The Reunion is a tribute to Vietnam veterans, all of whom bore the brunt of our nation's dislike of an unpopular war at that dark time in our history.
I recommend The Reunion wholeheartedly. Just don’t forget to keep a box of tissues handy.

My thanks to Revell and the author for providing me with my review copy.

Friday, September 7, 2012

WITH EVERY LETTER, by Sarah Sundin

Lt. Mellie Blake has always felt like an outsider. Raised primarily by her father, with much of her life spent accompanying him on research trips, she feels awkward around other women. Her shyness makes her appear stand-offish.
Lt. Tom MacGilliver has spent his life trying to live down his father’s legacy. Nicknamed "MacGilliver the Killiver" for committing a double murder, Tom's father was executed when Tom was a young boy.
When Tom and Mellie become involved in a letter-writing exchange intended to build troop morale during World War II, their lives intertwine. The anonymity of the program assures their freedom to share their hearts with one another in ways neither has experienced. The fun lies in wondering how or when they will discover the other's identity.
With Every Letter is Sundin's best book yet. Her knowledge of WWII flight nurses, the Army Corps of Engineers, and battles on the Italian front, set this novel apart. As I neared the end of the story, I found myself slowing down to make the book last longer.
With Every Letter is a heart-warming romance wrapped inside a compelling drama. I can't wait for the next two books in the series. I loved With Every Letter and recommend the book highly.
My thanks to Revell for providing my review copy.

Friday, August 24, 2012

PROOF, by Jordyn Redwood

When a pregnant accident victim is admitted to the ER, Dr. Lilly Reeves does everything she can to save the woman and her unborn child. During the commotion, Detective Nathan Long enters the treatment area hoping to learn whether the woman recognized the person who rammed her vehicle. He believes she may have been intentionally hit by the same man who raped her--the same man who has committed multiple rapes in the community. Lilly urges him to publicize the crimes to warn other women, but Nathan hesitates.
Within hours, the rapist strikes again. Since the police seem to be unable to stop him, Lilly risks everything to find evidence to bring him to justice. Proof is a wild ride through fascinating medical science issues. At every turn, the suspense ramps higher. This is definitely not a book to start at bedtime--it’s impossible not to read "just one more chapter." This novel is a thriller in every sense of the word.
In Proof, Jordyn Redwood has launched a fabulous series. I loved the medical and scientific details in this story, and can’t wait for the next novel in the Bloodline Trilogy.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

DYING TO READ, by Lorena McCourtney

Cate Kincaid is in search of a job--any job--when her uncle hires her as an assistant PI in his detective agency. Her assignment is simple: find the address where a certain young woman is living. But as readers learn in this entertaining mystery, nothing Cate Kincaid does is simple.
When Cate goes to the address she's been given, she finds a gaggle of ladies of a certain age grouped on the porch of a stately older home. They, too, are expecting to see the same young woman. She works for a member of their Whodunit readers club--not a very popular member, if the ladies' snide comments are any indication.
Once Cate and the ladies gain entry, their search for their meeting's hostess ends in a grisly find. She has apparently met with an accident, and is very dead. The young woman who works for her is missing.
From here, the plot of Dying to Read gallops along with multiple suspects, a good-looking handyman, and a tree-hugger. I loved all of the wonderfully developed characters. Each had their own personalities and quirks. Lorena McCourtney writes delightful cozy mysteries, and The Cate Kincaid Series promises to be no exception.
Dying to Read is a fun story for summer reading.

My thanks to Revell for my review copy.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

THE HAVEN, by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Sadie Lapp plans a surprise return to Stoney Ridge after a visit to Ohio. Little does she know that part of the surprise will be on her. Although her family is delighted to see her, little sister M.K. starts a rumor fire with unthinking remarks about Sadie's baggage.
Shy Gideon Smucker is delighted to know Sadie is back in Stoney Ridge, but every move he makes around her only seems to upset her. He suspects her chilly attitude toward him has something to do with the wildlife intern living on the Lapps’ farm.
Will Stoltz, the intern, discovers Sadie to be refreshingly different from the girls he’s known, and before long he finds himself looking for excuses to spend time with her. However, he’s hiding a secret that will endanger his position on the Lapp farm, as well as betray the trust Sadie’s family has placed in him.
The Haven is a delightful story of a family who lives by their faith and love for one another. In these days of ever more graphic fiction in the general market, I found The Haven to be just that—a haven of gentleness. I wish I could sit down at the supper table with the Lapps and absorb some of the peace that fills their lives.
I give The Haven two thumbs up, and recommend it for family reading.

My thanks to Revell for providing my review copy.

Friday, July 20, 2012

THE GIFTED, by Ann H Gabhart

"Torn between duty and desire" is a hackneyed phrase, but there's nothing hackneyed about Ann Gabhart's newest Shaker novel, The Gifted. The compelling plot had me reading until I could no longer hold my eyes open.
Jessamine Brady has lived in a Shaker village since she was ten years old. She embraces their beliefs and ways of love, but as she approaches twenty-one, the age of decision, she longs to learn more about the world before she turns her back on it forever. Shakers believe in duty to God and one another, with no room for imagining or flights of fancy. Unfortunately, Jessamine's mind is often filled with both.
When she and another Shaker sister find Tristan Cooper wounded in the woods near their village, Jessamine helps him onto his horse and the two girls take him to a doctor in the village. As he recuperates, Tristan is intrigued by Jessamine, the beautiful girl with the cornflower blue eyes. However, the time comes for him to return to his obligations in the world.
The conflict that fills both Jessamine and Tristan's hearts makes for an absorbing story. They both have good reasons to remain apart forever. To say more would spoil the plot.
I enjoyed all the details about life in a Shaker village. Ann Gabhart is respectful and accurate in her recounting of a religious group that flowered in the mid-nineteenth century.
The Gifted is a book I’m happy to recommend.

My thanks to Revell for providing my review copy.

Monday, July 9, 2012

JOY TAKES FLIGHT, by Bonnie Leon

Kate believes she's living her dream when she and Dr. Paul Anderson marry. After all of the hurdles their relationship faced, now life promises smooth sailing.
But some promises can be misleading. Kate visualizes her life as an Alaskan bush pilot continuing without a hitch. Unfortunately, Paul has other ideas, especially after they learn they are expecting a child. Demons from his past haunt him, and Kate is unable to break through the barriers he's erected around himself. She wants one thing, Paul wants another. As their life unravels, Kate comes to believe she's lost Paul for good.
Joy Takes Flight is an engrossing story, filled with authentic details of Alaska in the 1930's. Reading Leon’s skilled descriptions of flight in a bush plane will have you clinging to the edge of your seat.
Joy Takes Flight is the thrilling conclusion to Leon’s Alaskan Skies series. If you haven’t read the first two books, hurry out and buy all three! You're in for a treat.
My thanks to Revell for providing my review copy.

Monday, June 25, 2012

SUBMERGED, by Dani Pettrey

Bailey Craig is a reluctant visitor to Yancey, Alaska, the town she fled as a young adult. The mistakes she made as a teenager haunt her, and she's sure the memories live on in Yancey as well.
However, a funeral and business affairs force her return. Once there, she can’t avoid crossing paths with Cole McKenna, the man she,s never been able to forget. Seeing him brings back the shame of her past. As much as she tries to avoid Cole, a murder forces her to work closely with him to find the person responsible.
With Submerged, Dani Pettrey has crafted a compelling suspense novel. As the tension escalates,the story grabs the reader and doesn't let go. The deep-water diving scenes had me holding my breath.
The faith element is seamlessly woven into Submerged. Bailey's reluctance to believe she’s worthy in God's eyes is something many of us may have struggled with at some point in our lives.
Some of the scenes are a bit intense. I recommend Submerged wholeheartedly, but the story is best suited for older teens and adults.

Monday, June 18, 2012

SHORT-STRAW BRIDE, by Karen Witemeyer

The four Archer brothers protect their land at all costs. Visitors are discouraged with the business end of a rifle. Yet when Meredith Hayes overhears a plot to burn the brothers' property, an old obligation compels her to brave their locked gate and deliver a warning.
During the events that follow, Meredith is injured and unable to leave Archer land. Travis Archer, the eldest of the brothers, decides that the only way to save Meredith's reputation is for the brothers to draw straws to decide who should marry her. Short straw gets the bride.
Continued threats to the ranch, and to Meredith's family, in addition to her wish to be loved for herself rather than be the bride of a man who got stuck with the short straw, fill Short-Straw Bride with suspenseful action and sweet romance.
Short-Straw Bride is an enjoyable story, perfect for summertime reading.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

STATE OF WONDER, by Ann Patchett

State of Wonder is a stunningly absorbing novel. Dr. Marina Singh, a research scientist with a pharmaceutical company in Minnesota, is pressed into traveling to Brazil to confirm the success of a project her company is funding.
Numerous factors complicate her mission. For one, the doctor she is to locate is stationed far in the jungle. The few people who know where she is guard that knowledge fiercely. An even larger complication is the fact that the previous scientist sent to Brazil died in the jungle. 
State of Wonder is an apt title for this novel. There were scenes I read wide-eyed and holding my breath.
Patchett is the bestselling author of Bel Canto, which has won a number of prestigious awards. State of Wonder is every bit as good. The story speeds along at a thrilling pace. The conclusion is spellbinding. 
A story to be re-read and savored, State of Wonder goes on my keeper shelf.

Monday, May 21, 2012


Although she's a child of privilege in the antebellum South, Caroline Fletcher is unable to accept the concept of one race enslaving another. The Negroes in her parents' home are her friends, not her slaves.
A visit to Philadelphia exposes her to anti-slavery societies, and she eagerly embraces their philosophy. When the time comes for her to return to her home in Richmond, Virginia, she brings her abolitionist views with her, although she soon learns to keep her opinions to herself.
With the nation on the brink of Civil War, she falls in love with a man from a wealthy Virginia family. Their time together is cut short by the attack on Ft. Sumpter and the secession of the southern states from the Union.
Caroline is thrilled at President Lincoln’s intention to abolish slavery, but at the same time fearful for the lives of the southern men she loves who have marched off to war. She lives in the South, but her loyalties are toward the Union. The choices she makes during the war years will keep the reader turning pages late into the night—at least I did. Candle in the Darkness is a gripping portrait of one woman’s convictions put to the test under extreme conditions.
In my opinion, Candle in the Darkness is historical fiction at its best. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I recommend the other two books in Refiner’s Fire series as well—Fire in the Night and A Light to My Path.
There are some strong scenes in these books, both about slavery and warfare. These novels are best suited for older teens and adults.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


When Margaret Macy’s mother remarried, she unwittingly married a man who has designs on the fortune Margaret is due to inherit on her next birthday. Margaret's stepfather brings his unscrupulous nephew into the family home, and urges the nephew to press Margaret to marry him--by whatever means necessary.
When Margaret learns of the plan, she disguises herself as a housemaid and flees. However, she never thought she'd end up actually employed as a maid. Margaret finds out quickly what life "below stairs" is all about. To her chagrin, she realizes how poorly she treated the servants in her parent’s home.
While Margaret strives to hide her identity, she finds herself attracted to the master of Fairbourne Hall—a man she once rejected.
Klassen has woven an entertaining story of life in the early 1800’s, her specialty. I enjoyed this novel, but not as much as her earlier ones. For me, the ending felt too crowded with secondary plot lines. Having said that, The Maid of Fairbourne Hall is still a fun read, one Jane Austen fans should relish.

Monday, April 16, 2012


I'm a great fan of Australian author Monica McInerney’s novels--At Home With the Templetons is no exception. This family saga opens with the widow Nina Donovan and her son, Tom, invited to a fete at neighboring Templeton Hall in the historic goldfields area of Australia.
Secretive Nina is overwhelmed by the Templeton clan’s lavish family estate, which they open to the public for weekend tours. The family dresses in period costumes as they guide tourists through the Hall, and are wearing these costumes when Nina first encounters them.
As the story progresses, the reader comes to know each of the characters (and I use this term in every sense of its meaning) in the Templeton family as their lives intertwine ever more closely. McInerney does an impressive job of detailing each person’s life, although the focus of the story is on Gracie Templeton and Tom Donovan. When a tragedy tears the families apart, secret after secret is revealed about each life.  
The story reaches a satisfying climax, yet the thought-provoking issues raised left me pondering how I would have reacted in the same set of circumstances.
If you enjoy reading stories of family dynamics, as I do, you’ll love At Home With the Templetons. This novel is general market fiction and as such contains infrequent profanity and sexual references.

Monday, April 2, 2012


When best-selling author Gerard Warner dies, his grandson, Michael Warner, inherits the man's stately home in Charleston. On a desk in the home, the grandfather has left a wooden box containing an unfinished manuscript, which he intended for Michael to find.
What follows is a story-within-a-story, as Michael reads the manuscript. The Discovery is structured in such a way that the reader is allowed to look over Michael's shoulder and read along with him.
The story he discovers is a fascinating tale involving little-known events that took place in Florida during World War II. Running through the authentic wartime scenes is a heartwarming love story, told with Walsh’s customary depth and richness.
The Discovery will go on my "keeper" shelf. I recommend it highly, both for history buffs and lovers of touching romantic fiction.

My thanks to Revell for providing me with a review copy of this book.

Monday, March 26, 2012


Penniless and alone, Ada Wentworth travels from her home in Boston to accept a job as a companion to an elderly woman in Hickory Ridge, Tennessee. The War Between the States has only been over for a short time, and once Ada arrives in Hickory Ridge, she finds that many townsfolk are not willing to accept a Yankee in their midst.
To add to her difficulties, the woman she’s hired to attend, Lillian Willis, is crotchety and critical of Ada's every effort. As Ada struggles to master cooking and cleaning, tasks she's never had to perform, her one bright spot is Miss Lillian,s nephew, Wyatt Caldwell.
Wyatt is the owner of a successful lumber mill in Hickory Ridge, but his heart remains in his home state of Texas. Between his desire to return to ranching, and Ada’s plans to open a millinery shop in Hickory Ridge, the two of them seem destined to travel separate paths.
In Beyond All Measure, Dorothy Love has crafted a beautifully detailed story of life in the aftermath of war. Her descriptions of Hickory Ridge left me feeling I’d spent time in Tennessee.
If you’re of lover of historical romance, Beyond All Measure is sure to captivate your imagination. I found myself sneaking spare moments to read when I should have been busy with other things. I think you’ll enjoy this story, too.

Monday, March 12, 2012


The back cover copy for Words Spoken True leads the reader to believe that this novel is simple romance between two people with interests in competing newspapers. But Words Spoken True is so much more.
A serial killer is on the loose in 1850's Louisville, Kentucky, preying on young Irish girls. As this mystery deepens, author Gabhart drops the reader into the midst of a political campaign fought on the basis of prejudice against immigrants and enslaved blacks.
If this weren't enough, the main characters in Words Spoken True, Adriane Darcy and Blake Garrett, strike more sparks than I’ve encountered in the past several novels I’ve read.
Quite simply, Words Spoken True is a terrific read. I give this story two thumbs up.

Friday, February 10, 2012


            Alexia Allen is on enforced leave from her firefighter job in Washington when she receives a phone call from a high school friend inviting her to their tenth reunion. Impulsively, she decides to return to the town she fled on the day after graduation ten years ago.
            Her homecoming starts off with an almost-literal bang when she discovers a murdered classmate in her mother’s basement. And the action is just beginning. As Alexia battles secrets from her past, she finds she’s become a target.
            The detective assigned to investigate the murder makes her heart flutter when she recognizes him as someone she had a crush on when she was in school. But by his reaction to her, she knows he suspects her of the crime.
            When the Smoke Clears is filled with plot twists. I couldn’t stop myself from reading on (and on) when I should have been sleeping. If you enjoy mystery/suspense with a touch of romance, you’ll love When the Smoke Clears.
            My thanks to the author and Revell for providing a copy for review purposes.

Monday, January 23, 2012


Smitten is a delightful collection of four novellas written by Colleen Coble, Kristen Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, and Denise Hunter.
            The town of Smitten, Vermont, seems doomed when the main employer, a lumber mill, announces it is closing. Smitten tells the story of four friends who won’t let the town die without a fight. They launch a scheme to turn Smitten into a honeymoon destination. Each of the friends agrees to tackle an aspect of the town’s rebirth, with heartwarming results.
            I loved the novella format as a way of telling this story. Each of the authors puts her own spin on her protagonist, giving variety to the characters’ actions. The four novellas dovetail with ongoing sub-plots. One I particularly enjoyed was a character named Natalie’s continuing struggle to produce edible gluten-free treats at Mountain Perks, a coffee shop she owns in Smitten.
            If you’re looking for a fun read over these winter evenings, you’ll love Smitten.

            Thanks to Thomas Nelson Publishers for providing me with an advance reader copy.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

LONG TRAIL HOME, by Vickie McDonough

When Annie Sheffield is thirteen, her life goes from bad to worse when her father abandons her in Waco, Texas. With nowhere else to go, she pretends to be blind in order to have a home at the Wilcox School for Blind Children.
Several years later, her peaceful life is rocked when a returning Civil War veteran, Riley Morgan, takes a job as handyman at the school. Annie is drawn to him, but cannot reveal the fact that she's sighted or she'll have to leave the only real home she’s ever known.
Long Trail Home is filled with memorable supporting characters. I particularly enjoyed Sean Murphy, the blacksmith. This engaging story takes the reader on the Long Trail Home to a heartwarming conclusion.
Fans of McDonough’s Texas stories will love this one. I know I did.

Monday, January 9, 2012

SUMMER OF PROMISE, by Amanda Cabot

Abigail Harding plans a short visit to her older sister, Charlotte, in Wyoming, then she will hasten back to Vermont, where she has an almost-fiancé waiting. Her sister's protestations that all is well in her marriage don't match up to the actions Abigail observes in the home Charlotte shares with her husband, Jeffrey, at Fort Laramie.
While Abigail walks a fine line between being a guest of her sister and husband, and therefore unable to interfere, and being worried about what’s really happening at the Fort, she finds herself drawn to Lieutenant Ethan Bowles. Besides Charlotte, Ethan is one of the few good things Abigail finds to like about Wyoming. But with someone waiting for her in Vermont, she can’t allow her growing feelings for Ethan to run away with her heart.
Complications at the Fort grow, with stagecoach robberies and desertions all pointing to someone with inside information about the Army’s plans. Cabot doesn’t shy away from real-life details in her stories. Summer of Promise brings encounters with the women at “Peg’s,” a bawdy house near the fort. One particular girl will touch your heart.
Fans of Amanda Cabot’s books will love Summer of Promise. Fortunately, it’s the first in a new series for Revell, so there are two more novels to come in this entertaining series.

My thanks to Revell for providing me with a copy for review purposes.

Monday, January 2, 2012


Helen Carlisle is left widowed, with a small son, when her husband is killed in the Pacific during WWII. To the people in her hometown, she's a brave woman who is giving her time to support the war effort in honor of her heroic husband's memory. But Helen is hiding a secret about her marriage.
Lt. Raymond Novak wants nothing more than to serve his hometown as a pastor, but with the war raging on, and two brothers already in the service, he enlists in the Air Corps--to train pilots, not to be one.
When Helen Carlisle catches his eye, he’s determined to win her hand, but her past fears place a roadblock between them.  His own fears erupt when he’s called to active duty in Europe. Blue Skies Tomorrow moves seamlessly from California to the European theater and back again. Sundin is a master at writing breathtaking scenes of air battles involving B-17 bombers. The final chapters of this novel will have you holding your breath.
Blue Skies Tomorrow is a fitting conclusion to the saga of the Novak brothers. It’s not necessary to have read the first two books in the Wings of Glory series to enjoy this one. But if you haven’t read A Distant Melody and A Memory Between Us, you’re in for a treat. This is a wonderful series.