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Archive for the ‘Contemporary’ Category

Deliver Me from Evil by Kathy Mathias: a Review, an Interview, and a Giveaway

Kathi MathiasRead to the end for your chance to win a copy of this book.  

Deliver me From Evil by Kathi Mathias puts a human face on a seldom talked about worldwide atrocity:  human trafficking.  It follows the interconnected story from three vantage points.

Mara, a six year old Mexican girl, was  taken from her desperately poor family by her uncle who promised to care for her in America.  Now eighteen, she has lived twelve years as part of his violent  prostitution ring in the heart of San Diego.

Jonathan, also eighteen is a college senior planning to head to Bible College in the fall, mostly because he feels it’s what is expected of him.  Working a job selling pizzas to save the funds he needs, he inadvertently stumbles upon Mara and another young captive who has been recently snatched off the streets of the city.

Jolene and Jasmine are captive a word away.  Their captors see them as a commodity not even worthy of the basics of human comforts.  When a girl in their situation has outlived her usefulness, she is simply disposed of.

Where is the hope for these young slaves of human trafficking–is there any hope?  How far are Jonathan and his family willing to step outside of their comfort zone?  How far would you be willing to step?

A beautiful, yet horrifying tale with a clear challenge and message to the reader.  If you dare to read it, it will leave an indelible imprint on your heart. Will you be one of those who dares to open your eyes to these forgotten children of God?

5 Stars.

Kathi, how did you come up with the idea for Deliver Me From Evil and the Freedom series?


Kathi
–It actually came out of a phone conversation with Andrea Mullins, the publisher at New Hope. We were discussing the Extreme Devotion series (about the persecuted Church), which I was still working on at the time, and we began to consider topics for a second series. Andrea was the one who suggested human trafficking, and it really struck a chord with me. The more I researched it and worked on the proposal, the more excited I became about joining forces with others working to abolish modern-day slavery, which is exactly what human trafficking is.

What was your favorite scene to write in Deliver Me From Evil?

Kathi–This book/series has been the most difficult I’ve ever written, simply because the subject matter is so dark and heavy. More than once I had to walk away and clear my thoughts before moving on from one scene to another. But interspersed between the heartache and tragedy are several lighter scenes (written and incorporated into the book out of necessity), dealing with a pastor’s family and their Bible college-bound son who inadvertently discovers the human trafficking ring and becomes involved in the heroic and dramatic rescue attempt. Any scenes revolving around the absolutely functional and loving life of the Flannery family are my favorites.

What was the most difficult scene, and why?

Kathi–There were many difficult scenes in this book due to the subject matter, but the hardest had to be when the main character, 18-year-old Mara, realizes that one of the younger girls is being tortured and killed in an effort to extract information and punish her. Though the actual violence is done offstage, Mara experiences each blow and muffled scream, as does the reader.

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? If not, how did you catch the writing bug?

Kathi–Oh yes, I never wanted to be anything else. From the time I discovered the power and allure of words, I was hooked! I was an avid reader before I started kindergarten. A short story I wrote in the third grade was turned into a play for the entire PTA, and I won all sorts of awards for poetry in high school. I even told my then boyfriend (now husband) Al when we were in our early teens that I was going to be a writer one day.

How do you go about writing your fiction books? Which comes first for you, plot, characters, and/or theme?

Kathi–I usually get what I call “a niggling in my soul,” which eventually emerges into the very basic theme of the book. I hate outlining and writing proposals because I do NOT develop plots or even characters ahead of time. I start with a couple of main characters, a starting and ending point for my story, and just let the rest unfold as I go. I know. We’re not supposed to do it that way, but it works for me, and I so enjoy the surprises as the story develops and my characters take over. So much fun! So long as they don’t try to lead me away from my pre-determined ending. Then I have to reign them back in a bit.

How do you get your ideas for your books?

Kathi–I have ideas coming out of my ears! I am a seriously addictive idea person. You want ideas? You can have my overflow! My challenge is to figure out which ones are worth pursuing. Not every cute or fun or even meaningful idea that pops into our head is meant to be a book. I pray, think, study, bounce them off people, etc., before committing to moving ahead with one of them. For the most part, however, nearly all my book ideas are, to one degree or another, born out of some moral or social issue that I care about.

How can we find out more about you, The Freedom Series, and other books you are writing?

Kathi–Please visit my website at KathiMacias.com.

Here is the Book Trailer:

I was given a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for posting the author’s interview on my blog. This blog tour is managed by Christian Speakers Services (ChristianSpeakersServices.com). 

Now for what you’ve been waiting for:  your chance to win a copy of this book.  

Here’s how to do it.

1. “Like” ReadGreatFiction on facebook, and leave a comment on the link to this book= one entry  (if you already “like” ReadGreatFiction just leave a comment)

2. Get your friends to “like” ReadGreatFiction.  For each friend that leaves a comment and mentions your name you will receive another entry.

The drawing will be held on October 31, at which time I will announce the winner on this blog and at ReadGreatFiction on Facebook.

Blame it on the Mistletoe by Joyce Magnin

Joyce MagninBlame it on the Mistletoe by Joyce Magnin

Welcome back to Bright’s Pond where the residents make even your strangest relatives seem normal.

What’s going on at the Greenbriar Nursing home?  Resident’s riding trikes down the halls? Seniors making out in the gazebo?  This is strange even by Bright’s Pond standards.  Who or what could be responsible?  Is it the fault of the new gazeebo, or the strange elusive man who built it for the residents?  Maybe it’s drugs or something in the water.  Police chief Mildred Blessing has her hands full trying to solve this one.

Meanwhile elsewhere in Bright’s Pond folks must contend with a luau thanksgiving, a Christmas pageant with live camels and the on again off again romance between Griselda and Zeb.  Do I hear wedding bells?

Though lighthearted, this book is no ball of fluff.  It is well written and entertaining.  It will leave you laughing, and feeling just a little bit better about your own life. The delightfuly quirky characters, like none you’ve ever imagined, are so real you’ll feel like you’ve always known them.

As with the first three books in this series, this is a 5 star read.  If you haven’t read the others (The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow, Charlotte Figg Takes Over Paradise, and Griselda Takes Flight), you must do so.  You’r life will be fuller from having read them.

I received this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  All opinions rendered are my own.

Cash Burn or Crash and Burn?

Michael BerrierJason Dunn thinks he know whats going on–he wasn’t born yesterday.  When he finds love notes from his wife to another man, he thinks affair, not set up (like she claims). 

 Little by little things in Jason’s life begin going so-right, and yet at the same time so-wrong.  His most despised co-worker becomes his boss, he gains a beautiful new assistant, his recently released jailbird brother is causing all kinds of trouble for him, and he finds a loophole that if he should take it, will net him enough money to last many lifetimes. 

What he would have never thought have doing at one time becomes a bit easier with every baby step, every little sin, every bit of twisted reasoning.  Now comes the big step, the one he won’t ever be able to undo.  Will he take it, or will something happen to change the path he’s headed down.

I feel like I should have had a crash course in banking and high finance before reading this book.  There was way to much bank-speak.  Also, this was definitely a book written with men in mind.  It is highly plot driven, and the characters are left swimming in shallow water. 

I was not comfortable with how the intimacy was described in the book.  If as it seemed it was truly written for men, then it would draw even more of a visual than I felt it did.  Although not excessive by mainstream standards, for a christian publisher it was awfuly close to the line.

  Overall I just did not enjoy this book, but I must admit that the writing skill was excellent and Michael Berrier has a lot of potential.  I will be looking out to see what he writes in the future.

3 Stars

This book was provided to me by the publishers through NetGalley.  All opinions rendered are my own.

Dry as Rain by Gina Holmes –book release interview

Gina Holmes is the bestselling author of Crossing Oceans and the newly released novel, DRY AS RAIN. She’s the founder of Novel Rocket, (formerly Novel Journey), a registered nurse,  wife and mother who makes her home in Southern Virginia. You can learn more about her at www.ginaholmes.com 


Your debut novel hit ECPA, Amazon, PW and CBA bestsellers list (some throughout the span of a year!) For several weeks Crossing Oceans was the #1 free kindle download and then stay in the top hundred for a long time.
Beside the commercial success, your book was a finalist in every major Christian book award, including: Christy, ECPA, Retailer’s Choice, Carol Awards, and won RWA’s Inspirational Reader’s Choice and an INSPY. Does having that kind of success put the pressure on for your second book?
I try not to think too much about it. I didn’t expect that kind of success but am very grateful for it. I had a lot of pressure on me on this releasing novel, not because of the success of the first book, but because, unlike the first, I didn’t have all the time in the world to write it. Some books flow smoothly, this one I had to yank out like a bad tooth. I faced multiple rewrites, some of them pretty major, all while trying to promote my all important first novel. I was still working full time, mothering, running Novel Journey (now Novel Rocket) and all of that, so this was a tough tough book for me to produce.
Tell our readers about your latest release, Dry as Rain:
I’m a really bad pitchman so I’ll just repeat the back of the book copy:
Behind every broken vow lies a broken heart.
When Eric and Kyra Yoshida first met, they thought their love would last forever. But like many marriages, theirs has gradually crumbled, one thoughtless comment and misunderstanding at a time, until the ultimate betrayal pushes them beyond reconciliation. Though Eric longs to reunite with Kyra, the only woman he has truly loved, he has no idea how to repair the damage that’s been done.
Then a car accident erases part of Kyra’s memory—including her separation from Eric—and a glimmer of hope rises from the wreckage. Is this a precious opportunity for the fresh start Eric has longed for? Does he even deserve the chance to find forgiveness and win back Kyra’s heart . . . or will the truth blow up in his face, shattering their last hope for happiness? A richly engaging story of betrayal and redemption, Dry as Rain illuminates with striking emotional intensity the surprising truth of what it means to forgive.
You can read the first chapter HERE. 
This novel feels so much different than Crossing Oceans. Why did you choose to take such a different path?
I didn’t intend to write something completely different and I think it feels that way because of the characters telling the story. In Crossing Oceans, Jenny was our narrator and she was a melancholy, all woman sort.
In Dry as Rain, we have Eric, who is a man’s man and doesn’t think in flowery language and descriptions so it would have been wrong to write him that way. While both books have a heavy subject matter, Crossing Oceans was much more so. You can’t get heavier than dying, so it was bound to be more emotional, no matter how I wrote the next book.
But, my genre seems to be relational drama which both are and I like to pepper in a quirky cast and that’s true of both books.
You took a lot of chances in this book. First writing first person from a male’s perspective, secondly to have the protagonist someone who does a lot of things that aren’t very Christianly, like cheating on his wife, drinking, lying, etc. Are you afraid this might hurt your sales in the Christian market?
Afraid? No. Concerned, sure. While I don’t personally have a problem with Eric drinking a beer, the rest I have a problem with too. The thing is Eric’s a nominal Christian at the beginning of the book, lukewarm about his faith like many who call themselves followers of Christ. This is his journey though and he doesn’t end up where he begins. I wanted to tell the story as truthfully as I could and at the end of the day let the chips fall where they may.
What happened to your long time website, Novel Journey?
www.noveljourney.blogspot.com is now www.novelrocket.com You can get to it by either address but we decided on an overhaul because we wanted to drop the blogspot address and just have a dot com. The guy who owned Novel Journey didn’t return our emails to sell so we had to do something a little different. This turned out to be a good thing maybe because we’d been chewing on broadening the site for some time. We’ve got some exciting changes now, the most notable is the addition of “Rocket Pages” a sort of Craig’s List for writers to find the services they need to launch and sustain their career.
What’s going on with you personally?
Well, I’m blissfully married, mom to two, stepmom to three, and owner of 2 dogs and a fish. I bought a guitar and hope to start fiddling with that soon and just writing a lot. Nothing too exciting over here but that’s the way I like it. I’m the happiest I’ve been in my life. I’ve accomplished many of the dreams and goals I’d hoped to and I always tell my husband, if I died today, I’d feel I lived and full and rewarding life. Not that I’m looking to die just yet.
What are you working on now?
I can’t give the title yet as that’s a work in progress but it’s a story very close to my heart. I’m more excited about this one than anything I’ve ever written. Hopefully my publisher agrees and you see it on the stands in the next year or so. That’s really all I can say for now.
Tell us something we don’t know about you.
I’ll tell you a few. I thought I was afraid of heights until I bungee-jumped and loved it. I’d love to skydive for the first time in the next year, white water raft and get at least a little skill on the guitar. My husband is a talented songwriter. My kids are the sweetest in the world, (yes, the world!), and I love to get my hands dirty. That should do it. Thanks for having me!

A Trial of Blessings

One Step Away by Eric Wilson

Bret and Sara Vreeland are an average low income family struggling to make ends meet.  Though they try and try they just can’t seem to get ahead of all the expenses that pile up.  But they have learned to be content and serve God, and are trying to teach their children the same thing. When Satan notices this family who seems to have so little, he comes before the Almighty with a petition.  “Let me test them“, he says, “Will they still be so eager to serve you if they have riches beoynd belief?”  After careful scrutiny, The One Who Sits Upon The Throne gives his permission–permission to begin a trial of blessing. How will Bret and Sara respond when everything in life starts going their way?  An unexpected inheritance, a major promotion, a dream of sucess come true–will all these things capture the devoton they once gave God?  When they’re faced with an unexpected choice of life altering proportions what choice will they make? The premise of this book pulled me in from the start, and did not disappoint.  Well written and engaging , One Step Away brings us real characters who come alive on the pages.  I found myself cheering and yelling at the characters as if they were close friends.  Although not preachy, this book has me considering how I view the blessings I have been given.

5 Stars

This book was provided to me by the publisher, Bay Forest (an imprint of Kingstone Media Group).   Opinions rendered are completely my own.

Note:  Check back Monday August 15, 2011 for an Author Spotlight of Eric Wilson– a bio and interview you’ll not want to miss.

Heartwrenchingly Beautiful

The First Gardener by Denise Hildreth Jones

Jeremiah Williams has been taking care of the gardens at the Tennessee governors mansion for the past 25 years.  He has cared and prayed for its residents as well.  There is something special though about the current family.  Jeremiah wonders if all the hurt and unjust treatment he’s gone through in life have been so that he could be with this family at this specific time.

Governor Gray London and his wife Mackenzie, struggled with infertility and miscarriages for years.  Now it seems that all their dreams have come true.  Their miracle baby, Maddie, is heading off to kindergarten, and Gray is making a real difference as governor.

When tragedy strikes again and again, the London’s are thrust into circumstances they don’t know if they can survive, and they’re not sure they even want to.

What is God doing in their life?  Is he really even there?  How could he love them let these kinds of things happen?

This book is worth the read, but be prepared for uncontrollable sobs and keep a box of tissues nearby.  I was completely unprepared for the depth of this novel. Though the main plot is heavy, there are lighter sub-plots to take the edge off.  The southern voice throughout is authentic and beautiful.  The First Gardener is masterfully writt

5 Stars

This book was provided to me through the Tyndale Bloggers Network.  All opinions rendered are my own.

She’s a Pastors Wife–Except Now She’s Not

Lynne GentryLeona Harper is the quintessential pastors wife.  She knows exactly how to be the person the parishioners expect.  From little old ladies who stop by before Sunday services to making sure her kids behave in public, Leona’s got it covered.

When her husband drops dead in the pulpit, Leona’s neat little world implodes.  No longer the pastor’s wife, she finds that she’s had no identity of her own, and that she’s alienated her children by her expectations as well.

Leona’s children arrive home for the funeral ready to disappoint their mother with their life choices, and her mother comes by to remind her what a disappointment she has been to her as well.  Within two weeks Leona begins to feel squeezed out of the parsonage by the elders, and she must begin to look for employment.  Forced to become her own person for the first time in decades, Leona must learn to take a stand for herself and be the person God created her to be.

Reinventing Leona is one of the new e-book only selections from Tyndale House.  A gentle read, it is full of charm and hidden wisdom.  The characters are vulnerable, yet endearing.  I was pleasantly surprised by just how much I enjoyed this book.  It tugs at the heart, and reminds us to be who God created us to be.  I hope to see many more books by Lynne Gentry in the future.  Definitely a 5 Star read.

This book was provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley.  All opinions rendered are my own.

Abandoned Baby Found Adrift at Sea

Stephanie NewtonThe Baby’s Body Guard

by Stephanie Newton

Love Inspired Suspense, August 2011 

Ethan Clark  was expecting a trap when he was texted gps coordinates that lead him to an abandoned boat.   Although his job had him regularly policing the waters off this section of Florida coast, the text came to his personal line.  He dealt with some pretty dangerous criminals back when he was undercover with the FBI, and there were more than a few who might want to exact revenge.  The last thing he expected to find under the tarp covering the boat was a screaming toddler.

Local social worker Kelsey Rodgers waited by the shore to take the toddler until it’s parents could be found.  Not that she held out much hope of that happening since the little girl seemed be one of the many orphans from Eastern Europe she’d come across over the last few years.

Searching the little girl’s diaper bag for any clues to her identity,  Ethan comes across a hand-print and a photograph of a baby.  The photo sends shock-waves through his system.  A picture of his deceased son stares back at him–only the baby is months older than his son was when he died.  There’s no way this could be his son.  He’d seen his wife and son blown to bits with his own eyes when they were caught in the explosion that ended his last undercover assignment.  Ethan’s phone signals another text coming in, and the four words he reads change his world forever:  YOUR SON IS ALIVE

As Kelsi and Ethan race to find answers bullets race towards them and sparks fly between them.  Will love will win before it’s too late?

I really enjoyed the strong plot and inviting characters in this story, but I think the story would have greatly benefited by adding an extra 20,000 words–unfortunately the constraints of the Love Inspired series do not allow for this.  I found myself wanting more detail, and greater depth throughout the book.  There was just too much story crammed into too small a book.

I’m giving this book 3 stars

Jimmy by Robert Whitlow

Robert WhitlowJimmy is a tale of growing up told through the eyes of a young teenage boy who’s not quite the same as everyone else.  Jimmy knows others call him special or retarded, and that he doesn’t always understand the things he sees.  But Jimmy sees lots of things that others don’t, –like the “watchers”, or as him mom calls them, angels.  Jimmy’s mom calls him special too, but when she say’s it the word has a different meaning, a meaning that makes him feel like she’s giving him a great big hug.

Even though Jimmy doesn’t understand everything he sees, he remembers it all with a vivid accuracy.  That’s why his father, a prominent attorney, has asked him to be a defense witness in an upcoming criminal.  What happens next will change everything.

I originally stumbled upon this book by accident, picking it up at a yard sale.  It’s well worn binding and stained edges showed it to be a book that had been well read and much loved by it’s owner.  I began reading it,unprepared for the emotional investment I was going to feel, and without the necessary box of tissues by my side.

This book is a work of art, an understanding into the simplicity of the human soul of a child the world tends to take for granted.

I eventually replaced my worn yard sale copy of this book with a new copy because it is a book I plan on having on my shelf for a long time to come.

This book is definitely worthy of five stars.

Book Robbery Goes Bad: Owner Gunned Down

C.J. DarlingtonBound by Guilt                                             by C.J. Darlington

Nobody cares about Roxi Gold.  She never knew her father, Her mother’s a junkie who abandoned Roxi to the system, her foster parents never keep her around long, and now that she’s living with her aunt & cousin all they care about is how she can help them in their pursuit of stealing and reselling rare books.

Roxi goes along with her aunt & cousin’s plans for a while, but when someone dies in a botched robbery, she know’s she has to get away.

Officer Abby Dawson has seen it all, and it hasn’t left her a better person.  She finds no joy in pulling criminals off the street only to have someone else replace them by day’s end.  The emptiness inside gnaws at her soul, and she’s lost hope.  When someone murders her brother in a botched robbery Abby realizes that not only is she at the end of her rope, but the rope is fraying badly and she’s only holding on by a thread.

Abby’s search for justice brings her life and Roxi’s colliding together.  What happens next will change their lives forever.

Bound by Guilt is the stand alone sequel to Thicker Than Blood the 2008 winner of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel.  It is an extremely well written, enjoyable novel that takes the reader for a wild ride into the world of rare books.  This book will not stand to gather dust on a shelf.  Pick it up, read it, and see what happens when the characters are confronted with the awesome power of forgiveness.

5 Star Worthy

Lifesaving Medication Killing Patients

Lethal Remedy                                                                by Richard Mabry, M.D.

Dr. Sara Miles doesn’t really want to go to her self absorbed ex-husband, Dr. Jack Ingersoll  for help, but if she doesn’t young Chelsea will most likely die.  He is in charge of the study for a  medication trial of the only treatment for Staph luciferus, an infection that makes MRSA look like childs play.

Retired physician, Dr. John Ramsey comes back to medicine following the death of his wife.  He is looking for meaning in his presently meaningless existence.  What he finds is legal trouble for helping a dying woman, and who knows what kind of trouble from the prick of an improperly disposed of needle.

Dr. Rip Pearson is assisting Sara’s ex  in the medication trial.  Actually he seems to be doing all the patient work since Dr. Ingersoll is only interested in the parts of the trial that will bring him success and fame.

When patients begin experiencing life threatening delayed reactions from the medication, neither Dr. Ingersoll or Jandra Pharmaceutical want to hear about it.  Their medication has been fast-tracked for approval from the FDA and they plan on keeping it that way.

Soon Sara, John, Rip, and their colleague Mark are in a race to save not only the lives of their patients, but their own lives as well.  Someone want’s them to drop the investigation and they don’t care who get’s hurt in the process.

This is the fourth book in the Prescription for Trouble Series.  Each of the books in this series are easily readable as stand alone novels.  The book has a gripping plot and great layering of sub-plots.  The characters have depth and by the end of the book the reader feels invested in their lives.  The only part that takes a bit of processing is at the beginning when all the medical personnel and conditions are being introduced.  Once the reader files all that information away, the book is very difficult to put down.

Dr. Mabry’s novels get better with each new one he writes.  I hope he continues to grace us with his stories for a long time to come.  This book is worthy of 4.5 Stars.

I received this book for review from the publisher through the netGalley program.  All opinions given are my own.

No Memory is as Scary as the Ones You’ve Lost

Book of Days                                                by James L. Rubart

Imagine whole chunks of your memory disappearing.  Imagine your dad died with the same symptoms.  Scary, huh?  Now imagine your dad died 8 years ago at age 49.  Imagine yourself spiraling into this abyss when you’re only 25.  Cameron Vaux doesn’t need to imagine it–he’s living it.

When Cameron’s dad died 8 years ago he warned him that this day would come.  He also told him about a book of days where God records every moment of every persons life.  He told Cameron that if he can find this book it may cure him.  Six years later, on her deathbed after a tragic accident, his wife Jesse tells him the same thing.

Although quite agnostic, Cameron is determined to try anything that may spare him.   Jesse’s foster-sister Ann, and Cameron have a cold distant relationship, but she is an investigative reporter so he contacts her for help.  She reluctantly agrees, and the story takes off.

This book was hard to put down.  It’s the kind of book that can make you stay up until 3AM without noticing.  The characters have great depth and the settings are at times beyond description.

James Rubart is one of the best new authors to come onto the fiction scene in quite a while.  His meaningful, gripping tales are the product of superb storytelling.  His exciting tales contain that extra twist that makes the difference between a good book and a great book.

5 Star Worthy

Can the Afghan People Ever Know True Freedom?

Freedom’s Stand                                                            by J.M. Windle

Aid worker Amy Mallory returns from a trip stateside to find overwhelming and seemingly negative changes to the New Hope Compound.  The rescued women have been put to work doing the backbreaking job of carpet-making,  the area she secured to give them more living space has been turned into a business, and most troubling to Amy, several of the women have been married off to strangers.

Jamil has found peace traveling the countryside, using his medical skills as a healer and sharing the teachings of Isa Masih (Jesus Christ).   When he is unknowingly  filmed by a journalist and his faith is broadcast on YouTube for all the world to see, he finds himself behind bars in one of the most notorious prisons in all of Afghanistan.  He is accused of apostasy, and all Afghans know the penalty for apostasy is death.

Condor Security operative Steve Wilson thought he had seen the last of Afghanistan and is busy planning an extended tropical beach vacation.  When the young son of the friend who took over his assignment is diagnosed with Leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant Steve insists on filling in so the family can be together at this crucial time.  If only Steve could find something to do that would fill his life with purpose…

The Afghan people still live without freedom ten years after the ousting of the Taliban.  Regardless of outside intervention the country seems bent on destroying and imprisoning itself from within.  Is there any real hope of freedom?  Of love?  Can anyone make a difference?

Freedom’s Stand is the completion of the tale begun in Veiled Freedom.  While it’s possible to read the story alone, you will miss the depth of the story if you try to do so.  This story is both riveting any meaningful.  Many times you will find yourself on the edge of your seat, and yet you will also find your heart aching for the lives and love of the Afghan people.  This is an important story that tells what life is like behind the news headlines.

The author, Jeanette Windle,  has done her research well, including an under the radar trip to Afghanistan.  In fact, her research is so detailed that it has prompted government agencies to question whether she has seen classified information.   She brings this world of to life through her understanding of  what it is like to work and live as a missionary in the “Hot Zones” of the world.

This book, and actually both books in this series, are five-star quality.  I would highly recommend picking up a copy of both Veiled Freedom and Freedom’s stand to add to your collection of fine literature.

Simple Choices is a Great Choice

Simple Choices                                       by Nancy Mehl

Gracie is quickly regretting her choice to bring Mennonite teenager Hannah to Wichita for six weeks of art classes.   Hannah, dressed in tight jeans and a tank top, is throwing a temper tantrum that rivals any thrown by the typical American teenager.  And is that mascara and jewelery Gracie spies?  There is no way Hannah’s parents are going to let her stay with Mr. Monahan and attend a specialized Art High School for her senior year.  Getting her back to Harmony looking like her old self is going to be hard enough.

Soon after returning the newly reinvented teenager to her parents, Gracie is devastated to learn the teenager has gone missing.  The police assume that Hannah has run away, but even though the teen has undergone some radical changes, Gracie knows she would never do that to her parents.  And to make matters worse, three other teenagers that fit Hannah’s description have recently gone missing as well.  And on top of all this Gracie is trying to plan her wedding, and visit with her parents and ailing grandfather who have come to town for the wedding.

Plot twists and layers  keep the reader’s attention throughout this well written story.  The true to life flaws and struggles faced by the Mennonite community in this book, make it more realistic than many works about sheltered societies.  Although this is book three in a series the author does a good job of bringing the new reader up to date on what is going on without seeming to retell the previous story.  I found this book to be a very enjoyable read.  It is neither a light or heavy read and I believe most readers will thoroughly enjoy it.  I confidently give it 4 stars.

This book was provided to me by Barbour Publishing, through NetGalley.  All opinions rendered are my own.

Be Alert: Suspect Using Poisonous Plants to Kill

Died in the Wool                                    by Elizabeth Ludwig and Janelle Mowery

In this hometown mystery Monah, the town librarian, is  on a mission to get much-needed funds to purchase computers for her little library.  She’s up against quite a bit of competition, including her boyfriend who wants the funds for police department improvements.

When her competition starts dying, fingers point to Monah as a likely suspect.  She has given them both water bottles right before they died.  Toxicology reports show that they died from Monkshood poisoning, but that doesn’t narrow down the suspect pool, because the garden club sent out monkshood seeds to all its members this spring.  Since she knows she didn’t do it, Monah realizes that she or her boyfriend might be next on the killers to-do list. 

Suspects abound in this cute cozy mystery.  It is a good read for when you want something lighthearted and easy to read.  Several times I thought I knew who did it, but I kept changing my mind.  Right up until the end of the story,  I was still searching for the answer to this pleasant who-done-it.  I give it 3 Stars.

Died in the Wool is book two in the Massachusetts Mayhem Mysteries, part of the Hometown Mystery collection by Barbour Books Publishing. 

I was provided with this book by the publisher through NetGalley.  All opinions rendered are my own.

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