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Frantic by Mike Dellosso –Suspense at it’s Best

Mike DellossoDo the lies you believe define who you are?   Death has followed  Marny Toogood from birth, snatching those closest to him and seemingly proving grandfather’s prediction.  He is cursed.

Despite the curse, every night Marny holds to the promise his mother told him until she died:  Behind every rain cloud is the sun, just waiting to shine.  Then he falls asleep and succumbs to the only place more dark and foreboding than his life.

We enter Marny’s life the day his nightmares and cursed life collide.  Living life in a tiny apartment above the station where he pumps gas, Marny tries to keep his involvement in the lives around him to a minimum–after all potential friends are potential victims of his curse.

But today there’s just something about the girl in the backseat of the old Ford Taurus that pulls in for a fill-up.  She speaks to him through her eyes, and through his own experiences he recognizes the message of sorrow and doom.

As the car pulls away Marny bends to pick up a piece of wadded paper.  Opening it he reads five words that have the potential to change his life forever:  HE’S GOING TO KILL ME.*

 

If there ‘s ever been a book that could be considered aerobic exercise its this one.  The plot twists, surprises, and races while keeping the reader turning pages frantically trying to find out what happens next.  The strong plot doesn’t sacrifice character depth. The book will pull you in from the first page and keep you hanging on each word til the very end.  I will warn you it’s hard to put down.

Frantic is definitely Mike Dellosso’s best work yet–and with books to his name like The Hunted, Scream, Darlington Woods, and Darkness Follows ,all five-star reads in their own right, that really say’s a lot.

Definitely a 5 Star Read.  Available early 2012

 

*Much of this description is taken directly from the book.  I couldn’t have described it with any better words, so I let it speak for itself.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Charisma House.  Any opinions rendered in this review are my own.

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.

Where the Power Lies–or Sits

James RubartThe Chair by James L. Rubart

James Rubart has done it again.  The Chair is a magnificient creation, a definite “edge of my seat” (pun intended) read.  Unpredictable up to the very end, this book deserves a very strong 5 star rating.

Corin Roscoe thinks the old lady who dropped off an even older chair at his antique shop is nuts.  Though he tries to refuse the chair, she insists he take it–claiming that it was meant to go to him.

Taking a closer look after she leaves, he realizes the chair is very well made in it’s simplicity.  Putting it off to the side, since he has an overabundance of furniture in his store right now, he figures it’s something he might take a look at later, if he has the time.

When a young boy is miraculously healed in his store after sitting in the chair, and word of it spreads, Corin realizes that maybe he has come across something special.  Could this chair possibly heal his brother–and his guilt?

When a well known mega-church pastor begins to manipulate Corin into selling the chair, he decides to lock it up for safekeeping.  Corrin, needing advice, confides in an old trusted friend, a college professor, who shares with him the history and legend behind the mysterious chair.

Does the chair really posses  power?  There are those who will stop at nothing to get it–and that puts Corin, and those he loves at the center of their cross-hairs.

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

Fairer Than Morning

Rosslyn Elliott

Ann dreams of a marriage proposal from her poetic suitor, Eli-until Will Hanby shows her that nobility is more than fine words.
On a small farm in 19th-century Ohio, young Ann Miller is pursued by the gallant Eli Bowen, son of a prominent family. Eli is the suitor of Ann’s dreams. Like her, he enjoys poetry and beautiful things and soon, he will move to the city to become a doctor.

Ann travels to Pittsburgh, accompanying her father on business. There she meets Will Hanby, a saddle-maker’s apprentice. Will has spent years eking out an existence under a cruel master and his spirit is nearly broken. But Ann’s compassion lights a long-dark part of his soul. Through his encounters with Ann’s father, a master saddler, Will discovers new hope and courage in the midst of tremendous adversity.

When the Millers must return to Ohio and their ministry there, Will resolves to find them, at any cost. If Will can make it back to Ann, will she be waiting?

Read an excerpt here: http://www.rosslynelliott.com/books.php

This book is a wonderful debut novel from Rosslyn Elliott.  It is well written and researched and makes for a delightful read.  If you enjoy historical romance, you will love this book.  5 Stars

fairer than MorningAbout Rosslyn:  Rosslyn Elliott grew up in a military family and relocated so often that she attended nine schools before her high school graduation. With the help of excellent teachers, she qualified to attend Yale University, where she earned a BA in English and Theater. She worked in business and as a schoolteacher before returning to study at Emory University, where she earned a Ph.D. in English in 2006. Her study of American literature and history inspired her to pursue her lifelong dream of writing fiction. She lives in the Southwest, where she homeschools her daughter and teaches in children’s ministry. For more about Rosslyn, visit her website: http://rosslynelliott.com

Why Is Someone Trying To Kill Me?

Shirley McCoyLone Defender by Shirley McCoy

Six days in the Sonoran desert…six days without food…with barely any water…six days since Skylar Grady’s been left for dead with no idea who even wanted her that way.

This was supposed to be such a simple assignment.  Just locate the deadbeat dad so the authorities could have him arrested and brought to justice.  She hadn’t even found him, yet here she is, pretty sure she’s only hours away from certain death.

If anyone else had asked Jonas Sampson to track someone lost in the desert (and believe me, they had) he never would have done it.  But his old college friend Kane Dougherty was someone he’d do almost anything for–especially since Cane assured him that this woman was too stubborn to die.  Now that he’s found her, getting her home safely is going to be a whole other battle–both because of the dozen or more men tracking her with an intent to kill, and because she fight’s him almost every step of the way.

This is the best Love inspired Suspense book I’ve read in a long time.  Shirley McCoy doesn’t waste any time getting to the meat of the story.  The action begins with the first sentence, and keeps the reader on the edge of their seat til the very end.  The characters are real.  They draw you in till you feel yourself longing to see their hopes and dreams fulfilled, and cheering them on every step of the way.  There is really a lot of punch in this little book.  It is a great value, and worth every one of the 5 stars I’m giving it.

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

What My Eyes See

 Kristen HeitzmannIndelible by Kristen Heitzmann 

Natalie Reeve is a gifted sculptor whose ability stems from a unique disability.  When her brother helps her buy a home and business in the peaceful mountain community of Redford, what she hopes for is  tranquility.  How was she to know that events would so quickly spiral out of control.

Trevor MacDaniel is searching for two elderly hikers that seem to be lost when he comes across a dire situation.  A mountain lion has snatched a toddler from the trail where he was walking with his father and aunt.   The decision to put his life on the line to save the boy requires no contemplation.  Having lost his little brother to a horrific accident years ago, he’s not about to let another family go through that kind of pain if he can help it.

The lives of these two are seemingly thrown together when Natalie and Trevor realize that not only did he rescue her nephew, but their businesses are next door as well.  The more time they spend together, the more they see that they may be just what each other needs.  When Trevor is stalked and Natalie is attacked by the stalker she may have seen, their worlds collide in a way neither of them saw coming.

This is an enjoyable story, and I found myself not wanting to put it down at times, but the beginning is not quite up to Kristen Heitzmanns best work.  The story started out with an impressive scene that was not carried out as good as it could have been, and it took too much time to see how the different threads were fitting together.  I definitely enjoyed the book, but although I was expecting it to be a five-star read, it really was more of a four-star.

This book was provided to me by the publisher, Waterbrook Press.  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.

A Vacation to Remember Forever

Lisa T. BergrenWaterfall by Lisa T. Bergren

reviewed by Megan–a teen who devours books

Teenage sisters Gabi and Lia Betarrini are spending the summer in Italy.  Sounds like fun right?  It would be, except that they’re spending it with their mom at an archaeological sit–the same thing they do every summer.  Because they’re bored, Gabi and Lia start exploring an ancient tomb when they come across a hand print. When they touch it, somehow the hand print tosses them back in time to  the fourteenth  century.

Getting separated from Lia, Gabi finds herself in a the middle of a war between two families.  She meets  Sir Marcello Forelli who takes her back to his family’s castle.  Not sure how to explain what has happened, Gabi explains that she has been separated from her family.  Unsure of how to get home, she begins to discover life in fourteenth century Italy, with long fancy dresses, no indoor plumping, and being called Lady Betarrini.  But when Gabi discovers herself falling for both the time period and Sir Marcello  she begins to wonder if she will ever find her sister or get to go back to the twenty-first century.

I really enjoyed this book, even though I usually prefer action and suspense over romance.  It felt like I had really been transported to fourteenth century Italy.  It felt very real. I would definitely recommend this to my friends.  It was very well written.     4 stars

This book was provided to me by the publisher, David C. Cook  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.

Victim Found with Skull Knife Protruding From Chest

Mark MynheirThe Corruptible                                                              by Mark Mynheir

Ray Quinn isn’t doing much better these days.  The ex-homicide detective turned private investigator never envisioned himself chasing cheating spouses and getting beat up by enraged husbands. When a new client emerges offering him a check for his services that has more zero’s than he’s ever seen  Ray knows he should be suspicious.  But, wow, if he takes the case he won’t have to worry about taking cheating spouse cases for a very long time.

On the surface the case seems simple: find Logan Ramsey.  Logan is an ex-undercover cop who Ray worked with briefly back when he first came on the force.  After an incident where Logan let classified information slip  and almost caused the death of multiple officers, he was let go from the force.  Now working for Ray’s client, Logan has supposedly taken off with extremely valuable and secret client information.  Of course rarely do cases ever turns out to be simple, and this one’s no exception.

When Logan turns up dead in a seedy hotel, there are  suspects everywhere.  Could it be the biker gang he infiltrated years ago? A woman he wronged?  His estranged daughter? His employer? This was not a well liked guy.

Ray is accompanied by his ever faithful sidekick Crevis,  his constant companions Jim (Beam) and Joe (coffee), and Pam who’s sincere worry for his soul keeps her nearby.  Together they beat the trail trying to find the elusive answers, but when bullets start flying into Ray’s office window, he knows he’s getting close.  The only question is weather he will live long enough to find what he’s looking for.

A impeccably well written detective story, The Corruptible is sure to please.  The characters are honest and true to life.  Ray’s slow journey from agnostic to considering God is well written, but not preachy.  The pace is quick and contains just the right amount of twists and turns.  This is the second Ray Quinn mystery Mark Mynheir has written (the first being The Night Watchman), and  hopefully he will continue the series in the future.

5 Star Worthy

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

Miss Foolish Heart

Susan May WarrenEveryone in Deep Haven knows Isadora Presley is the town recluse.  What they don’t know is that she’s also Miss Foolish Heart, the popular syndicated talk radio show host.   Listeners to her show love taking her relationship advice but what they don’t know as they’re  is that Miss Foolish Heart has never even been on a date.

Isadora, known as Issy to her friends, has barely left her neighborhood since the accident that took her mother’s life and left her father a quadriplegic.  The world just seems so dangerous–why anything could happen.  Just look at all that has happened since the handsome new neighbor moved in next door.  That dog of his has been causing constant trouble not to mention that he insists on parking his huge truck right on top of her flowers.

Things have been going a bit crazy on the Miss Foolish Heart show too.  First the Governor of California’s daughter decides to settle for an imperfect man because she’s tired of waiting for Mr. Right, and she calls in to invite Miss Foolish Heart to the wedding.  If Issy can’t even make it  to  her best friend Lucy’s World’s Best Donuts’ shop right in town, how could she ever get on a plane.

Then a sweet young man calls the show trying to get advice for wooing his neighbor.  The listeners love this young man, and her ratings skyrocket.  Issy finds herself falling for this sweet young man even as she gives him advice on how to win another girls heart.  Oh, why can’t Issy find someone that perfect?

My Foolish Heart is the third installment in Susan May Warren’s Deep Haven series.  It is a perfectly delightful  read.  The pace keeps you moving right along, and you grow to love the characters more and more throughout the story.  As with all of Susan’s books, the descriptions and settings have the ability to transport you right into the scene.  I hope she plans to bring us more stories about the endearing people of Deep Haven.

I enthusiastically give this book 5 Stars.

The Hawaii That Was

Hawaiian Crosswinds                                            by Linda Lee Chaikin

The tropical vacationers paradise we know today as our 50th state is but a gleam in the eye of Rafe Easton and fellow annexation supporters.  The royal government is not only corrupted by money being offered by the drug lords, but Hawaii is in danger of falling to whatever country decides to overtake the small island nation.  Rafe knows it is crucial to gain the backing of the Unites States Constitution and Military.

Rafe’s fiance Eden Derrington, a nurse,  is part of one of the most influential families in Hawaii.  She longs to go with her physician father, to work on the leper colony island of Molokai.  She has learned that her mother, once thought dead, is actually living–and dying in the colony.  Eden desires more than anything to spend time with the mother she barely remembers before it is too late.

Eden and her father need permission from Queen Liliuokalani to begin a clinic on the island.  Rafe needs to make sure the queen learns nothing of the plans for annexation, or those behind it.  When the plans for annexation go missing and Rafe learns that both Eden and her father were in the vicinity of the theft, will he be able to trust the woman he loves, or will mistrust tear them apart for good.

Written in a classic literary style with lots of dialogue between the characters telling much of the story,  Chaikin really brings to life the struggles to bring Hawaii to what we know it as today.   Well done character development is balanced with an intricate, yet easy to follow plot.   Hawaiian Crossroads was an enjoyable read.  This is the second book in the Dawn of Hawaii series, and although not essential, it is probably a good idea to begin with the first –The Spoils of Eden.

Fans of Chaikin’s work may recognize characters in this beautiful story from earlier book For Whom the Stars Shine.  Having read that book a number of years ago, I asked if it was technically a part of this series and here is Chaikins reply:

“We can call For Whom the Stars Shine a prequel to Spoils of Eden and Hawaiian Crosswinds.  Stars deals with Rafe and Eden when they were younger and sets the stage for the big mystery of what happened to Eden’s mother, Rebecca.  The Dawn of Hawaii trilogy follows and builds on Stars after Eden realizes her mother is a leper.   For Whom the Stars Shine is out of print right now and I’m hoping Moody may want to reprint it to go with the present trilogy.”

This book is a definite 4 star read.

I received a review copy of this book  from the publisher, Moody Press, through the NetGalley service.  All opinions rendered are my own.

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.

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.

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