Saturday, September 24, 2011

Deadly Pursuit by Irene Hannon


From the Publisher

As a social worker, Alison Taylor has a passion for protecting children and seeing that justice is served on their behalf. But when she starts getting harassing phone calls and bizarre "gifts," it seems she may be the one in need of protection. When her tormentor's attentions take a violent turn, her brother Cole comes to her aid, along with his new partner, Detective Mitch Morgan. As her relentless stalker turns up the heat, Mitch takes a personal interest in the case. Protecting Alison has become more than just a job--because his own happiness now depends on keeping her safe. 

Chock full of nail-biting suspense and heart-melting romance, Deadly Pursuit is Irene Hannon's storytelling at its very best. Fans old and new will not want to miss the next story in this series starring siblings fighting for justice.

My Take
I couldn’t wait to get this book since I had read (and reviewed) Fatal Judgment, the first book in the Guardians of Justice series. That one was a great read and I was looking for the same action-packed and intense story line. I certainly was not disappointed!

Starting with the first chapter of Deadly Pursuit, I was hooked.  Although this is a continuation in the Guardians of Justice series, it can also be read as a stand-alone book. Ms. Hannon gives enough background to entice the new reader but doesn’t become overly repetitive to the reader from Fatal Judgment. After the background on the characters, you’re pulled right into the storyline.

I like how Hannon gave us details about the bad guys—for most of us, it’s an unknown way of life. Many addicts blame the bad things in their lives on someone else instead of taking accountability. Seeing how their minds work was illuminating. I loved how Hannon got into their heads and actions to explain the “why” behind what they do.

On the flip side, the Taylor clan is the antithesis of the “villains”. Hardworking, compassionate, and faithful (for the most part) make an interesting contrast to the bad guys.  Although this is a Christian novel, it’s not “preachy”. It’s moving how each character trusts God to intervene and lead them in the right direction, even if they don’t know what direction that is. To me, that’s true faith and that’s one of the reasons I enjoy Ms. Hannon’s books.

One thing that did disturb me was a couple of the graphic situations---I won’t spoil the story but if you are squeamish, beware! That’s about the only negative I have on Deadly Pursuit---it’s definitely a book you can’t put down, especially the last few chapters. Grab one for yourself—you won’t be sorry!

Overall, I give Deadly Pursuit 4 stars. Thank you Ms Hannon! I look forward to the next installment!

Available September 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

I received this book free from Revell as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

About the Author

Irene Hannon is the best-selling author of more than 35 novels. Her books have been honored with the coveted RITA Award from Romance Writers of America, the HOLT Medallion, the Reviewer's Choice Award from Romantic Times BOOKreviews magazine and the Daphne du Maurier Award for mystery/suspense. Irene and her husband make their home in Missouri, USA. Irene invites you to visit her at her website,

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Lancaster County Christmas by Suzanne Woods Fisher


From the Publisher

Jaime and C. J. Fitzpatrick began their married life as most couples do--in love and looking forward to a bright future together. But four years later they've drifted apart and are almost ready to call it quits.

Mattie Riehl was hoping to give her husband Sol the Christmas gift they have both longed for--news that a baby was on the way. But as usual, she is disappointed. The holidays bring an acute awareness to Mattie that her dream of a big family isn't likely to become a reality.

Then a winter storm raging outside blows the Fitzpatricks into the Riehl home--and into a much slower pace of life. Can these two couples from different worlds help each other understand the true meaning of love this Christmas?

My Take

Suzanne Woods Fisher is one of my favorite Amish novel authors—I’ve read so many of her books and I’m always impressed with her writing and story-telling. Each book has a deeper meaning without being “preachy”. Lancaster County Christmas is no exception.

Almost all of us can relate to the “wordly”, fast paced life of the “Englisch” like Jaime and C.J. It seems like there’s never enough time for everything and we rush from place to place while thinking about a dozen things at a time. Do we ever take time to slow down and enjoy the simple things in life? Do we take the time to talk to God and really listen to him?

The idea of the Amish lifestyle (sans the woodstove & washing clothes by hand!) has always intrigued me. What would it be like not to have the daily rush, all our electronic interruptions, and not to “keep up with the Jones’?  And the conviction the Amish have is the essence of faith. Or as they say, “Emmanuel, God is with us.” Their belief in forgiveness and ultimate love is envious.

Lancaster County Christmas would make a great read for the book club set. It comes with study questions and they will definitely make you think.  Overall, the book is a nice feel-good read and you get a sense of calm and peace while reading it. I felt a sense of connection with the characters and was cheering for them at the end. 

Overall I give Lancaster County Christmas 5 stars. If you are looking for an easy, holiday book, this is the one.

Available June 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

I received this book free from Revell as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

About the Author
Her interest in the Amish began with her grandfather, W.D. Benedict, who was raised Plain. Suzanne has a great admiration for the Plain people and believes they provide wonderful examples to the world.  In both her fiction and non-fiction books, she has an underlying theme: You don't have to "go Amish" to incorporate many of their principles--simplicity, living with less, appreciating nature, forgiving others more readily-- into your life.

When Suzanne isn't writing or bragging to her friends about her first new grandbaby (!), she is raising puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To Suzanne's way of thinking, you just can't take life too seriously when a puppy is tearing through your house with someone's underwear in its mouth. Suzanne can be found on-line at:   

Don't miss a merry moment during the "Christmas in September" promotion. Be sure to enter the iPad giveaway (9/7-9/26) and save the date for A Lancaster County Christmas Facebook Party on 9/27! Hope to see you there.

Suzanne and Revell will be presenting one merry winner with a Christmas Prize Pack (valued at over $600):

  • A Brand New iPad 2 with Wi-Fi
  • $25 gift certificate to iTunes
  • A copy of A Lancaster County Christmas
To enter, click one of the icons below. But, hurry the giveaway ends on 9/26.
Winner will be announced at the A Lancaster County Christmas Facebook Party on 9/27 at Suzanne's author page. During the party she'll be revealing something BIG - you won't want to miss it. She'll also be hosting a book chat, trivia contest and giving away a few early Christmas presents! 

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Queen by Steven James

Thrilling! Suspenseful twists & turns!

From the Publisher

While investigating a double homicide in an isolated northern Wisconsin town, Special Agent Patrick Bowers uncovers a high-tech conspiracy that twists through long-buried Cold War secrets and targets present-day tensions in the Middle East. A pulse-pounding thriller that explores the rippling effects of the choices we make!

My Take

WARNING: This book contains violence and graphic descriptions of disturbing crime scenes.  It is not for the faint-of-heart who may be offended by such written images.  For more on this topic, please read Steven James’ blog article entitled “Why I Write about Evil” .

I was so excited to see The Queen had been released since I’ve read all 4 prior novels in the series. Steven James has become one of my favorite authors with his thrilling plots and suspenseful twists & turns.  The first book I read was The Pawn and I think it’s still my favorite. All the books in the series can stand alone but I had to go back and start from the beginning to read what had happened in the beginning. That’s the beauty of this series—you can read them in any order. I just liked seeing the journey of the character’s lives from the start.

The Queen is the only book from James that I thought started slowly. It was really hard for me to get into the book until about Chapter 5 or 6. I kept pushing through knowing James would eventually grab my attention (he had to—all his other books did!). Once I hit the point of “getting involved”, I had a hard time putting the book down!

I think there was more about personal relationships in this book than in the others. Maybe that was the reason I had a hard time. I was expecting an explosive start and that just didn’t happen.  In prior books, the plot revolved around a serial killer and all his victims. The Queen wasn’t really about a serial killer but more about conspiracy. Maybe my expectations got the best of me. Who knows—I just know that it didn’t give me the same feeling when I read it.

By the time I got near the end, I was carrying the book with me everywhere! I couldn’t wait to see who was involved in the conspiracy although I had an idea of who it was.  Boy was I surprised!!! I’m glad I made it to the end to find out “who done it”. Now I can’t wait for the next book to come out!
Based on everything, I would give The Queen 4 out 5 stars. Mr James always delivers—sometimes more than others—and I always recommend his writing to other booklovers.

Read an excerpt and find out for yourself! You’ll have to have this book!

I received this book free from Revell as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Available September 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

About the Author

Critically acclaimed author Steven James has written more than twenty books, including The Pawn, The Rook, The Knight, and The Bishop, all part of the bestselling thriller series The Bowers Files. The Pawn is the basis of a TV series currently in development. One of the nation's most innovative storytellers, Steven developed his skill as a performer at East Tennessee State University (MA in storytelling). He lives in Tennessee with his wife and three daughters.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Plunging into Green by John Smith

Humorous and entertaining! A fresh look at water conservation and life.

From the Publisher

What happens when a plumber decides to start saving water--the very same water he spent most of his career trying to flush down the drain? Join John Smith on his journey to becoming a Green Plumber and follow the transformation of his business and his personal outlook along the way. 

My Take

I was a bit leary of reading Plunging into Green when I was first contacted---green plumbing, how do you make that interesting? When the book arrived, I smiled at the cover. It looked “fun”, not tedious. Then I started into the first chapter and I was happily surprised that it was entertaining. The real-life stories bring the reader into the book because you know everyone has silly questions they want to ask a plumber but are too embarrassed to do so.

Once I got into the second and third chapters, I knew that I was hooked. I looked forward to picking the book up again and reading about the journey to “green”.  It’s amazing what 5 days in a conference can do to change a life.  Mr. Smith took the bull by the horns to change not only his attitude, but his life, his business, and his customers’ lives. it's incredible that something so unpretentious can affect a life so completely.

One of my favorite lines in the book is the description of a conference speaker---that the speaker had “the capacity to interest an audience while imparting useful knowledge”. That’s exactly what John Smith does in this book. I learned a lot about green pluming, the products to use (or not use), and innovative ways to capture a customer’s attention.  I know I personally will be looking at water conservation a lot differently now.

I’m giving the book 4 out of 5 stars—the humor, the information, and escapades of his mom (she's a hoot!) really motivated me in reading Plunging into Green. I only wish the book could have been longer with even more innovative ideas and techniques. Hopefully Mr Smith will be writing another book in the near future to pick up where this one left off.

John Smith has provided me with a complimentary copy of Plunging into Green in exchange for my personal, unbiased review.

About the Author

John Smith was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona.  A first generation plumber, he has worked in the field for over 16 years.  John's passion for the trade has given him the drive to continually improve plumbing practices, all while working to change the image of the modern day plumber.   

But what happens when a plumber decides to start saving water--the very water he spent most of his career trying to flush down the drain?  Plunging Into Green tells the story of John's extraordinary journey to becoming a green plumber, including how his business and personal outlook changed along the way.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Treasuring Emma by Kathleen Fuller

From the Publisher

Emma has put everyone else first in her life. Now at nearly 25, has she missed her chance at marriage?

Emma was Adam's first love but circumstances made them both choosedifferent paths in life. Emma's heart breaks all over again when Adamreturns to the Amish community of Middlefield, Ohio, years later.
For the past ten years, Emma has been raising her siblings aftertheir parents' untimely death. She's put their needs above her own andnow, with them grown, she can focus on herself and her dream of openinga yarn store in the vacant cider house on her land.

With Adam's return come feelings Emma's long buried. They're olderand life hasn't turned out the way they thought it would. Adam'sfeelings for Emma are stronger than ever, but will he be able toconvince her to put others aside and give their love a chance?

My Take

I love books about the Amish. For some reason, their lifestyle & faith are very interesting to me. I imagine what it would be like to live that life but then realize it would be impossible after growing up Englisch.

Treasuring Emma adds a twist to the usual Amish book. It's not the straight-forward young Amish girl looking to find a husband and how they make their romantic journey together. The "bann" has always intrigued me and how the Amish people can disown their own family. And if they have "banned" that person, how they can take them back into the fold and not cause disharmony among them. I believe in forgiveness and that people can change but treating them as if nothing happened is hard for me to comprehend.

As with non-Amish, Emma grows through turmoil and seeks God's help in her life's plan. We think that Amish families are perfect and don't know heartache and family issues, but we see in Treasuring Emma that it's just not true. Emma's faith will help her through these issues and she realizes it's HIS plan and he will reveal it to her eventually.

While the story line was good, there were a couple disconnects with a couple characters. I think the author could have done more with with a couple story lines about Emma's sister's relationship as well as Adam's mother. Maybe they are left open for a second book in the series? But like many Amish novels, the ending seems to get all wrapped up in a bow and is over in an instant. Life doesn't always happen that way but then again it may be that another book may be coming to clear it up.

I'd like to thank BookSneeze for making a review copy available via NetGalley. All opinions are my own and unbiased. A positive review was not required. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, September 9, 2011

Jest....It waits no longer by David Warren

Spine-Tingling!! Mesmerizing!

From the Publisher
Nicole Carzon is an average, young college student, trying to cope with everyday life and an alcoholic father. Life has not been easy since her mother left; in reality, it was the source of the problem. Nevertheless, everything changed the day she received the letter. Her grandfather, having been estranged with his own son for years, shocks everyone when he bypasses her father and names Nicole as heir to his castle in England.

With an angry father and the summer off, Nicole and her friends decide now is the perfect time to fly overseas and meet with her late grandfather’s solicitor, Andrew Willis. Once they arrive, they are overwhelmed with the history and nostalgia pulsating from the 600-year-old Bodlum Castle. However, as Nicole and her friends soon come to realize, this castle has an ancient occupant. One that has been lying dormant and patiently waiting for hundreds of years…

It waits no longer……

My Take

Jest….it waits no longer starts out as an innocuous story about a sick old man and a group of college kids looking for their trip of a lifetime. Disneyworld would have been a much better choice…….

David Warren definitely has a talent for spinning a sweet little tale into a spine-tingling thriller. His writing keeps the reader mesmerized in the activities going on at Bodlum Castle—putting the book down is next to impossible. I had no idea when I started Jest that I would rush through my life just so I could get back to the book. I made up excuses so I could sit down and turn some pages, especially near the end.

Reading is my passion so I have read a ton of thrillers and most of the time I have either an idea who the killer is or can eliminate “suspects”.  I thought I had the killer all figured out in Jest—all the way to the last 10 pages. Needless to say I was completely shocked when the real killer, and the reasons for the killings, was revealed. When I finally put the book down, I had to sit for a minute just to take it all in!

This book undeniably rates 5 out of 5 stars. Mr Warren is an author to watch—he is certainly an up-and-comer in the literary world. I, for one, can’t wait for the second book in the series Jest 2: Welcome Home.
Brighton Publishing has provided me with a complimentary copy of Jest in exchange for my personal, unbiased review.

About the Author

David Warren first started writing at the age of nine after he discovered Franklin W Dixon’s Hardy Boys Series. Some of David’s mystery stories appeared in the local school newspaper. As he grew older so did his writing tastes and soon Stephen King and Dean Koontz replaced his adolescent heroes of Frank and Joe Hardy. 

He was born and raised in southern New Jersey but now resides in Blandon, Pennsylvania with his wife and three young children. When he’s not writing, you can find David spending time with his family or curled up with a good book. Jest is his first published novel.

David Warren wants to hear from you!

Cash Burn by Michael Berrier

From the Publisher

Billions of dollars flow through Jason Dunn's banking office each year. When he suffers a series of career setbacks and his marriage begins to crumble, he and his attractive new assistant devise a plan to disappear with a slice of the bank's cash flow. The unwelcome appearance of his brother on the scene, just released from prison, threatens to sidetrack Jason's plans. But Jason's brother "Flip" has his own problems with a parole officer who isn't fooled by this dangerous parolee. In the race to the jackpot between Jason and Flip, and the unwinding of their troubled history, the question soon becomes, Who will get burned?

My Take

I have to say this book was difficult to “get into”. The story line was kind of sluggish for the first 100-125 pages and it was tough to keep going. Once the story line picked up, it was pretty good. However, there was a lot of discussion about the banking industry and Jason’s job. I’m an ex-auditor by trade (insurance, not banking) but I do know a little bit about banking. Some of the processes talked about in the book were even a little confusing to me. I understood the gist of the process—enough to know about the plot (don’t want to spoil it!)--- but I think some readers would be even more lost reading it.

The thought process going into the money theft from the bank was pretty interesting and I liked how some of it was actually thought out. After the way Jason had been treated in some of his bank dealings, I could understand some sort of vendetta against them. When the story line was moving quickly, it was a page-turner but the momentum wasn’t always there.

I think Berrier is technically a good writer, has done his research and can describe a picture very well. In my opinion with his writing and maybe a modification to the story line, this could have been a very good book. I hope he writes another one soon—I’d like to see how he grows throughout his career.  I’m giving this book a 3 out of 5 stars based on the effort put into the writing.

Tyndale has provided me with a complimentary copy of Cash Burn in exchange for my personal, unbiased review.