Saturday, July 16, 2016

Fun And Mischief In The Tea Shop Folly


Product Details
It is a lot of fun to meet an author and even more fun when you discover that by chance you have read her work before but didn't make that connection. This is true of my chance encounter to meet Carrie Fancett Pagels last week. I was lucky enough to have an opportunity to read and review the Tea Shop Folly, A Teacup Courtship Novella.  As luck would  have it I was just wrapping up a good book and was at sixes and sevens for my next selection. I found this story entertaining with a little bit of added history added. Set in Michigan, young Lilly has arrived after inheriting her Great Aunt Lillian's home and fortune.  She left behind a gravely ill mother and  her younger sisters who are in need of much needed hope that Lilly hopes to share upon receiving her bequest. 

What follows is a series of misunderstandings after she meets a handsome young engineer from the Soo Locks, Theo on her first day in town.  As fate would have it, Lilly and Theo meet again when he mistakes her home for Tea Shoppe.  On the hunt for yet another teacup set for his hard to please mother, Theo spies piles of teacups that Lilly is sorting out from her Great Aunt's hoard of treasures.  While she never acknowledges her home is a tea shoppe, he continues to believe she owns a business. When he finally realizes his folly all manner of characters have arrived to make this an even sweeter tale.  Lilly is a treasure and her thoughtful approach to situations thinking about what her mama would do is a testament to proper upbringing and good family values.

I have become a fan of the Novella as a wonderful way to feed my reader for times when I really want to get into the story without committing to a large book. Award winning Carrie Fancett Pagels has not disappointed me with The Tea Shop Folly.  I happily discovered that it was Carrie who wrote the Lumberjack Ball, book 2 of the Christy Lumberjack Series.  If you like a good story with a hint of historical flare, I recommend this novella and other works by Carrie.  

Monday, July 11, 2016

Suspense abounds in Traces of Guilt

Dee Henderson is a gifted writer who has brought us yet another good suspense novel, Traces of Guilt, an Evie Blackwell Cold Case. What an example showcasing this author's talent in creating one of the best in Christian suspense novels. 
Product Details
Evie Blackwell is a detective with the Illinois State Police. She tackles each case like a puzzle and her methods are successful. That is why she is likely to be tapped by the Governor-Elect to be on a special two-year task force to solve cold cases in her state. She loves her job and the opportunity this task force would take her career to a new level.  We meet her on her way to  a working vacation in rural Carin County to look at two cold cases. Both cases have been investigated with a fine-toothed comb yet remain unsolved for many years.

Gabe Thane, Carin County Sheriff assists her by providing boxes of evidence and honest support that many a small town sheriff with an ego might withhold. The first case involves the disappearance of Deputy Scott Florist, his wife Susan and son Joe.  Secondly, she is examining the case of Ashley Dayton, aged six who disappeared as her parents were checking into a motel in Carin. These cases are near to the heart of the sheriff and his father, who had been sheriff at the time when both occurred.

Traces of Guilt is very complex and the characters mesh with each other in an incredible way.  Evie unpacks all the boxes of evidence, separating each piece into two separate time lines on the wall. She and Gabe have discussed what has gone on before and what she hopes to find that was missing in previous investigations. While doing so I am struck by something she says to Gabe as she begins reexamining all the evidence: "Cases solve when you can get a thumbnail under a corner of the answer and peel it back." That is exactly what unfolds.  It is tempting to share how she approached this but I am not one to spoil a good mystery.  

The research for this story was incredible. The power of the hunt for answers kept me turning pages long past time I should have called it a night. The process of the investigations, the discussions between the characters and the care toward all the victims was very well written. I give this book 5-stars with my heartfelt recommendation. I am already hoping another Evie Blackwell Cold Case book will be released.


Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy Birthday America!


On this day in 1776 our forefathers declared their independence from British rule. Looking back over many trials, it is hard to believe our country has come so far. I wonder what those great men would think about the country they were forging way back then. I have read many letters and documents written by these men. While we think of them as great men, deservedly so, they were men who thought of themselves as average men who were building homes for their families. The respect they shared for each others among themselves spoke volumes in the legacy we share today.  May we never forget the principles on which our country was founded. God Bless America, now and forever.  

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Romance Sizzles In Melody Carlson's All Summer Long

All Summer Long is one of those lighthearted books you enjoy reading when you want to kick the lazy days of summer into high gear.  It is a story about Tia and Leo, two people who met casually at a sailing camp ten years before our story begins. As everyone said goodbye on the last day of camp, Leo planted Tia with a kiss. Years later, with that kiss on her mind, Tia is moving to San Francisco to help her aunt open a boutique restaurant on a luxury yacht.

The excitement of playing a pivotal role restoring the yacht and designing the ultimate galley kitchen and dining room play on her mind as she arrives in San Francisco.  Instead of her aunt, a handsome young man is waiting to pick  her up. Not just any handsome man but an older version of the teenage boy who gave her that memorable kiss all those years ago.

As fate would have it, she and Leo will be thrown together often as they manage the work needed on the Pacific Pearl.  Her uncle's pressing need heart surgery and her aunt's natural desire to stay at his side compels the pair to work together to complete the work.

The work needed is significant but takes second place in the plot to Tia and Leo's story.  We can almost feel the fog roll in and the wave lapping on the side of the yacht, docked in the bay. The author, Melody Carlson is very adept at setting us right in the middle of the story.  From the start Tia enjoyed meeting Leo again, deciding that moving from northern Washington state was the best decision she'd made since graduating from culinary school.  The only bump on the road was Natalie, Leo's fiance.  Naturally, Tia is disappointed but can she work with Leo to oversee all the work needed to turn a 1980's remodel job gone bad into her aunt's vision of the Pacific Pearl?  Can she stand by and watch a man she is falling for marry another woman?  Even if the other woman has also become her friend?

 Read it and find out!  All Summer Long is another good book to add to your summer reading list. And if your vacation plans are on water, all the better to grab your copy of All Summer Long from your favorite local bookseller.  Melody Carlson is an award winning author of more than 200 books.  She was awarded a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market. All Summer Long is book 2 in her Follow Your Heart Series.  For information on Melody and her books check out her website at: http://www.melodycarlson.com

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Sea Rose Lane Where Life Begins Again!

What do an out of work Corporate Attorney and a beautiful Architect/Contractor have in common?  Not much but for the merest chance meeting on Highway 101. He takes his eye off the road for just a moment on a sleepy coastal road in Oregon and meets the back end of a pickup truck.  This was not exactly the way Eric Nash meant to arrive back home in Hope Harbor after being downsized by his prestigious Portland law firm.  Stepping out of his BMW and coming face to face with BJ Stevens only topped the bad way his day was turning out.  She knew he had been texting while driving and it infuriated her. She had no time for the good looking, BMW driving corporate type who had stepped out to meet her. After assessing no real damage was done to her car she was on her way, happy to see the last of the likes of him.

Eric went on his way too but his day of surprises was far from over. Seeking the comforts of his boyhood home, he found instead a construction site!  His father was transforming the home into a Bed & Breakfast Inn and right in the midst of the job site was BJ Stevens and her crew.

Sea Rose Lane, by Irene Hannon is a story full of hope and new beginnings. For Eric, he must re-launch his partner track law career. For John Nash, the Inn will bring laughter and new memories back to his big empty home. BJ is on her way to recreating her career as a hands on architect with a love of building to keep things interesting. For her crew member Luis, his new life in America is about starting over. For Eleanor Cooper, it is filling lonely days confined to her home and using a walker.  All of these people have separate lives yet they are linked to create a wonderfully well written story.

Last summer I enjoyed reading Hope Harbor and the story of Tracy and Michael, who are back again along with the wise Taco Truck owner Charley. Once again Charley (who keeps irregular hours) is open at just the right time and dispensing just enough wisdom to get everyone's attention. How he seems to be in the know about everyone's story and what they need to hear to keep going is short or amazing.  Hope Harbor is a magical place and Sea Rose Lane is one of those books where you can feel the spray from the ocean and smell the succulent food from Charley's truck. I recommend this book as well as another look at Hope Harbor.

Sea Rose Lane is Irene Hannon's fiftieth published novel!  She in an award winning author with three coveted RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America among many other awards. Along with the Hope Harbor novels, she has kept me on the edge of my seat with her Men of Valor series, Private Justice series, Guardians of Justice series and more.  She is a master at character development and her research is impeccable!  Need I say more? Grab your copy today!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Nothing Is Certain In A Heart Most Certain



This book called me while I was reading another. It was hard to practice self control and finish the first one but you see I have truly enjoyed all of Melissa Jagears books and I knew I was in for a good read.  The problem was I still had that other book I needed to finish first. Does that happen to anyone else?  But as luck, or fate would have it, I was caught with time on my hands without a book so grabbed my phone. Every book lover has the Kindle App on their phone right?  
A Heart Most Certain begins with Lydia King, a lovely young woman of good character challenged with seeking a donation from Mr. Nicholas Lowe, the richest, stingiest man in Town.  She accepted the challenge from Mrs. Little, President of the Teaville Moral Society and mother of her almost betrothed, Sebastian Little. If she can procure the donation, it would be enough to cover the price of two sewing machines to make blankets for those in need. Getting the donation from Mr. Lowe seemed impossible but she was determined. She wanted to help the needy but Mrs. Little declared that she would be deemed worthy to join the Little Family if she succeeded.



   Although she was nervous to take on the challenge, she would do so because a marriage to Sebastian would secure her future and help her dying mother live more comfortably. Of course, her no account father could benefit, but he was the least of her worries. Mrs. Little was a powerful force to reckon with anyway.  She found herself before Mr. Lowe, made her request and was flatly refused.and the man of business left her abruptly with no indication of whether or not he would return. She found herself waiting in his office for him but he ducked out without a word. She decided then that she would get a donation from her and wouldn't rest until she did. It was his Christian duty to donate such a small amount when he had so much. After all, she never saw him tithing at church. He became many evil things in her eye based on rumor and conjecture. She made it  her business to greet him on the street and let him know she would pursue him until he agreed to buy the sewing machines. 

I love to be entertained when I read a book but it is another thing altogether when we are challenged or learn something in the process.  Good works are good in themselves but it is important that we don't get so caught up in the good works that we miss the reason behind the good works. Lydia loved being part of the Moral Society. Her family was not well connected. Her father drank and gambled most of  their money. Her mother was unwell. She wore hand me down clothes from a wealthy family in her congregation. Yet with all her trials she was a cheerful giving woman who had a pure  heart and steadfast convictions. 

Over the course of time, she encountered Mr. Lowe several times and as promised, each time she met him she asked him for the donation. Mr. Lowe agreed, eventually to help her but not in a way that she expected.  The lessons he taught her shook her faith in her church family, led her to places she should never have gone and brought her a richness she couldn't have found by simply being a dutiful member of the Teaville Moral Society under the guidance of Mrs. Little.

The book ventures into the red light district of the era and the difficulties many women had trying to leave that profession. Women and girls often were forced into that lifestyle and treated miserably by the very people who could have  helped them. Today we are still faced with this human trafficking and it is a big problem. I am glad Melissa chose to tackle this issue in her book.  

Throughout the story we see how Lydia influences Nicholas but it is surprising how he influences her. He gives her a voice that was silent for most of her life. He inspires her by showing her how other people live. She learns that you cannot judge others by what you see. While the story has many lessons, it is, first and foremost, a love story.  Love for others, respect for ourselves and love that is tough enough to give strength and build character.  

I heartily recommend this inspiring book worthy of 5 stars! Award wining author Melissa Jagears has a way of telling a story that keeps one turning pages looking for what happens next. Isn't that just what we want out of a book?

  

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Reviewing Murder Comes By Mail

Product DetailsBeing a hero was the last thing on Deputy Michael Keane's mind. He was busy driving a busload of silver haired ladies from Hidden Springs to Eagleton, as a favor to his Aunt Lindy. As he drew near the Eagle River Bridge, he saw a man ready to jump. He climbed off the bus and in front of that bus full of people, pulled the man back over the railing.  The ladies quickly got off the bus to see what happened and more than one savvy granny snapped pictures with her smart phones. One Hank Leland, owner of the Hidden Springs Gazette, just happened to be there too and was busily snapping pics too. But Hank's pictures were for his next issue of the Gazette.  News like this didn't happen in Hidden Springs so he took pictures of the rescue and pictures of the man loaded into an ambulance with a few good shots of Michael with the jumper. Amid the post-rescue chaos the jumper had a few last words for Michael: "You'll wish you'd pushed me."

A.H. Gabhart's Murder Comes by Mail is the second in her Hidden Springs Mystery series.  If you have read Murder On The Courthouse Steps, You've already been to Hidden Springs and met the people of this quiet little town full of of characters you couldn't find anyplace else.  Nothing ever happens there and they like it that way. Every Wednesday, the Hidden Springs Gazette comes out but on this particular week the paper is full of its home town hero Michael Keane and his heroic rescue of a man  who didn't want to be rescued. Uneasy with being the center attention, he is more interested in finding out who the man was and why he said those last haunting words to him.  Words that refused to leave him in the days to come.

One day after the "Hometown Hero"story broke, Betty Jean sat opening up the mail as usual at the Sheriff's Office. She was just teasing Michael about the article when she pulled some photos out from a manila envelope when she gasped, becoming clearly upset. Michael jumped from his desk to see what was going on and found grizzly photos taken of a young victim.  He dumped the entire contents and found a note from the jumper reminding him that Michael should have let  jump.

From then on the story takes an unexpected turn as sleepy Hidden Springs is roused to full alert. One crime leads to another in an  uncanny twist leading to Michael.  Can he stay one step ahead of the game and protect all those connected to him? I can assure you that this is one good mystery. The plot is well developed in Gabhart's fashion and you will be gripping your seats as you try to turn the pages fast enough.  No spoilers here, you will want to read this one yourself!  Many thanks to Revell for the advance copy to review and to A.H. Gabhart for many hours of entertainment.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Anchor In the Storm

For Lillian Avery, life couldn't be more exciting.  Her Pharmacy School days are over and she has a job waiting for her in Boston. As a woman pharmacist, she is embarking on a career traditionally filled by men. She is undaunted by the challenges of competing with men for jobs because she has met other obstacles head on, including getting through life with one leg after a childhood accident. The accident changed her life but it didn't hold her back despite being a beautiful young woman who wore a prosthesis.  She was driven to become the best in her field and make a difference to her patients.

World War II is just about to begin in Sarah Sundin's latest, Anchor In The Storm, Book 2 in her Waves of Freedom Series.  Lillian is joined in the story by her brother Jim, his Naval Academy friend Arch Vandenberg and Jim's girl, Mary Stirling.  Lillian is put off by Arch, only son in a wealthy family. In her eyes, the handsome young man must be insincere and full of himself. In his eyes, she is a beautiful woman who, unlike other women he met, was independent and indifferent to his wealth.  All three travel back to Boston together where the men are assigned to a new destroyer, the U.S.S. Ettinger and Mary has a job as a secretary at the Naval Yard.  Lillian planned to room with Mary, so much to her chagrin, she would be thrown into Arch's company when Jim came to see Mary.

 On Lillian's first day at Dixon's Drugs when Mr. Dixon discovered her artificial leg. He let her know he hadn't wanted a woman in the first place but a cripple was the last straw. She convinced him to try her for a few weeks and he agreed only if she kept behind the counter so nobody would see her leg.  With that hurdle behind her she was determined to keep her job. Right away Lillian noticed an unusual amounts prescriptions for Phenobarbital.  She was determined find out why such high amounts of the drug were prescribed. Mr. Dixon, however, didn't want discrediting the drug store with her nosing around on things that she had no business questioning.

In the meantime, Arch was having his own difficulties on board the Ettinger.  He suffered from Battle Fatigue, what we now call Post Traumatic Stress.  When the Atwood was attacked just before the war began, he was injured in the engine room and still had nightmares and trembling hands.  He sought help, was prescribed Phenobarbital and after one groggy dose decided he would fight this on his own. It didn't take long, however, before he began to notice the symptoms among his men. He also recognized signs that some of the men were taking the drugs he had been prescribed.  These men were impaired on duty and Arch was going to make it his business to get to the bottom of who and how the men got these drugs.

It was only a matter of time before Arch and Lillian discovered they shared a concern: he for the men who were taking the drugs and she because she knew the high volume of drugs prescribed was above safe limits for anyone.  They began an investigation on their own to uncover what had to have been a drug ring.

By joining forces, they also fell in love, something they were both avoiding. She didn't want to trust any man again after a bitter breakup and he was on guard for any woman who preferred money more than the man he was.  Both rely on their faith to grapple with the many odds they face in such a turbulent time.

Intrigue, romance and some dangerous waters are what you will find in this book. I was hooked from the beginning. If you read Through Waters Deep, you will enjoy reading more about Mary Stirling and Jim Avery while getting to know Arch better as he and Lillian tread toward their own Anchor In The Storm.  A good mystery mixed with romance make for a good book to enjoy with your favorite cup of tea. Many thanks to Revell for the opportunity to review this book, which ended too soon!  I am waiting already for Book 3 in this series, When Tides Turn coming  March 2017.

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Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Calm Before the Storm Awaits In The Quieting

Suzanne Woods Fisher has written about the Amish in Stoney Ridge for years.  I have enjoyed reading about the families of this community as though I were catching up with old friends.  The Quieting, in the Bishop's Family Series (Book 2)  is no exception.  The characters come to life and I find myself cheering them on or shaking my head.
David Stotlzfus, widowed father of six is one of the ministers at the Amish Church.  He is at odds with Freeman Glick, the Bishop over a matter that could have lasting implications for their church leadership.  David is a thoughtful, caring man without a competitive nature who wants what is right for his church. 

As he wrestles how to handle this he has a surprise visit by his domineering mother and two grown nieces. They plan to fix David's household, lend support in the church matter and reorganize his small store.  David's mother Tillie, aka "Mammi the Meddler" keeps her finger in every pie and in doing so exasperates all who love her dearly.  

Mammi brings along Laura and Gabby (Abigail) as reinforcements. Abigail, a very serious and literal young woman assists her father with his work in genealogy.  She is secretly pleased to be there in order to complete a study for a client in Stoney Ridge.  Finishing up the study is her main goal but not before she meets a young man who has eyes only for her. Not as socially equipped as her sister, Gabby has struggles of her own to manage before she unfolds an interesting leaf on the Glick family tree.

There is a community within the pages of this book and the members come together to tie things up nicely. From mis-matched matchmaking to drilling for oil, there is never a dull moment in Stoney Ridge.  I heartily recommend this book but not before you have read The Imposter where this story begins.  Both books could be standalone, but reading both enriches the story. I am already looking forward The Devoted, (Book 3) due for release in October 2016.





Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Look for Love, War and Intrigue In The Magnolia Duchess

Product DetailsFiona Lanier was riding her horse Bonnie on the beach that August day in 1814 when suddenly the horse stopped in front of a pile of seaweed, refusing to go on. "Wait, not seaweed. Material. Clothing. A body. A roll of surf washed up, stirred by the folds of cloth, but the body did not move.  Dead?"

Our story begins here on the beach where Fiona finds a badly injured young man lying face down in the sand, barely alive.  After a struggle, she manages to get him home where she will ultimately nurse him back to good health.  The mysterious young man, however, is not entirely unknown to Fiona.  He is Charlie Kincaid, whom she met years ago while visiting England.  

When Charlie regains consciousness, Fiona quickly realizes he has lost his memory. What was he, an Englishman, doing at Mobile Point so far from his home?  Set in the midst of the War of 1812, the Magnolia Duchess brings to life fictional characters whose stories intertwined with historical places and events of that era.  The book mentions General Andrew Jackson several times leading up to the Battle of New Orleans and the ultimate surrender of the British that ended the war.  

As the war rages, though, we are still faced with Fiona and Charlie.  As they meet challenges brought about by the war, they both grow in ways unexpected. The Magnolia Duchess is the third book in the Gulf Coast Chronicles, by Beth White. The series follows the Lanier family for over one hundred years where men and women of courage helped shape our country.