About Me I am a retired librarian and I now support books and authors through my reviews.

I have always loved to read and I was able to share that love through my work as a public librarian for 22 1/2 years. I now promote literacy by reading, and then writing reviews. I love to support authors by sharing my reviews with others!

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Riptide Rumors by Melody Carlson: Review Promo Blast


The Legacy of Sunset Cove, Book 2

Back Cover Copy:
If the Tide Doesn’t Change, Who Will Pay the Price?
As autumn of 1916 descends upon the once-peaceful town of Sunset Cove, Anna McDowell has great hopes that the excitement of the summer will be over, now that a few of the key players in the rum-running ring have been arrested. But with a daring jailbreak getting the town in a dither again, she knows that the danger hasn’t passed for anyone in her coastal hometown.
With a mayoral election keeping tensions high and the authorities busy searching for those behind the jailbreak, Anna has plenty to keep the newspaper busy. But when her sixteen-year-old daughter begins making noises about leaving high school and abandoning dreams of college, Anna realizes that prohibition isn’t the only thing she needs to be worrying about.
How deep does the root of corruption run in their town? As she digs deeper, Anna is forced to put the concerns of her own heart on hold in an effort to save some of the people dearest to her.
Riptide Rumors continues the story started in Harbor Secrets. 


I love the cover of this book because it perfectly depicts the time period and the setting. Riptide Rumors is set in 1916 and this was a time of great turbulence for our country. Women were gaining more independence, World War I was on the horizon and Prohibition was creating problems in the town of Sunset Cove. Anna McDowell observes all of this as she takes over her father's newspaper as the editor-in-chief and also becomes involved in a mystery concerning a "speakeasy" and some deaths that have occurred there. As Anna and some of the newspaper staff work to find the truth, Anna also faces turmoil in her personal life. Anna's dream has always been for her daughter Katy to obtain a college education but Katy is undecided about her desire to go. Anna also finds herself attracted to the town doctor and this too is a big adjustment. Will Katy and Anna be able to regain the closeness that they have always enjoyed? Is Anna putting herself and her co-workers in danger as she works to find more about the murders?

Riptide Rumors is a lovely story filled with faith, family, and forgiveness and there is also suspense for mystery lovers. I am looking forward to reading the next book in The Legacy of Sunset Cove series to discover what is ahead for Sunset Cove.

I received a complimentary copy by the author and Celebrate Lit. These opinions are mine own.

Purchase the Book

About the Author
Melody Carlson has written more than 200 books (with sales around 6.5 million) for teens, women, and children. That’s a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a “storyteller.” Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, True Colors etc.) appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year. She’s won a number of awards (including RT’s Career Achievement Award, the Rita, and the Gold medallion) and some of her books have been optioned for film/TV. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog.
Connect with Melody

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Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Storm Rising (Book of the Wars, #1) by Ronie Kendig

Storm Rising (Book of the Wars, #1)ABOUT THE BOOK

Once lost to history, the Book of the Wars has resurfaced, and its pages hold ancient secrets and dangers. Former Navy SEAL Leif Metcalfe has been tasked with capturing the ancient text, but a Bulgarian operative snatches it, determined to secure her freedom. When a series of strange storms erupt, they must form an alliance to thwart impending disaster.

Storm Rising by Ronie Kendig
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This is the first book that I've read by Ronie Kendig and now I know why people are so eager to read her books. Storm Rising offers intrigue from the opening sentence 'He’d never killed a woman in cold blood before, but now was as good a time as any‘ and the excitement never lets up. As I was nearing the end, Mission Impossible came to my mind. When you think it just won't work and when you fear that the hero and heroine are not going to succeed, there is that last minute reprieve!

I really liked the hero Leif Metcalfe. He had been a Navy Seal and his duty had left him an extremely scarred person. Iskra "Viorica" Todorova was equally scarred and she was a complicated character who appeared to be a villian; it was only as I learned her full story that I could understand how she became a Bulgarian operative and why she chose to remain. It is, however, the sparks between Leif and Iskra that fuel this story! It is apparent that they are physically attracted to each other but their past lives, their current situations, and their mutual mistrust are great deterents to any lasting relationship. I also enjoyintriguing plotline that includes cloud seeding. I have heard of this being done to create positive results but the theme of Storm Rising and the mission to find The Book of Books allows cloud seeding to be used for evil.

This book is the first book of Kendig's new series The Book of the Wars and it is labeled Christian suspense fiction. There are a few references in the story that readers of Christian fiction may find surprising but they are written in a non-offensive manner. If you enjoy intense action and mystery suspense and if you want a story filled with faith and hope, then you will certainly enjoy Storm Rising.

I received a complimentary copy from Bethany House Publishers and a favorable review was not required. These are my honest thoughts.


Ronie Kendig is an award-winning, bestselling author who grew up an Army brat. She married her own hunky hero, who’s an Army veteran. After twenty-plus years of marriage, she and her husband have a full life with four children and a retired military working dog. Ronie’s degree in psychology has helped her pen novels of raw, broken characters. 

Since launching onto the publishing scene, Ronie’s Rapid-Fire Fiction has hit the CBA Bestseller List, won the prestigious Christy Award, the RT Reviewers' Choice Award, the HOLT Medallion, IRCA, FamilyFiction’s Readers’ Choice Awards, as well as being named an RT Book of the Year Nominee. 

Ronie loves people and helping other writers through speaking, workshops, and/or mentoring. Find Ronie at www.roniekendig.com, on Facebook (www.facebook.com/rapidfirefiction) , Twitter (@roniekendig), GoodReads, and Instagram.

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Sunday, July 28, 2019

Underestimating Miss Cecilia (Regency Brides: Daughters of Aynsley #2) by Carolyn Miller

Underestimating Miss CeciliaABOUT THE BOOK

Shy, sweet Cecilia Hatherleigh has always been in love with Edward Amherst, the boy next door. Yet he’s never seen her as anything but the quiet girl in the background as he flirts with the other vivacious women of the ton. 

When a near tragedy brings Edward’s attention to his family duties, this prodigal son decides he needs to settle down with a proper wife. Cecilia hopes to convince him to choose her—but God may want her to forget the wayward nobleman and put her future in His hands alone.

These two try to find their way toward happiness, but prejudice, political riots, and the changing face of England’s societal structures begin to block them at every turn. Can their struggles turn to triumph—or will their paths permanently diverge?


Underestimating Miss Cecilia by Carolyn Miller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm not sure if Carolyn Miller grew up reading Regency romances but she surely knows how to write them and this may be her best book yet! Cecilia Hatherleigh is the quiet and meek daughter of Lord and Lady Ainsley and being a "middle child" has caused her to feel overlooked. Cecilia has secretly loved her neighbor Edward Amherst for many years but he regards her as just a neighbor girl who is the sister of his friend. Cecilia's and Ned's relationship has the classic theme of the girl in love with the 'bad boy' next door and her parents wanting someone better for their daughter. There is also a reference to the Prodigal Son after Ned returns to his home as a man who has changed his life for the better. After several dramatic events alter Cecilia's life drastically, Ned begins to think of her as more than just his neighbor.

"How could he have spent so much time unaware of her? How could he have spent so much time ignorant of her excellent qualities? Why had it taken so long to realize just what a precious person she was?" (p. 297)

This is a story filled with sweet romance, intense longing, and deep faith in God. Cecilia had often recorded her private thoughts and secret longings in a journal and when she reviews some of them she realizes that she has become obsessed with Ned. As she cries out to God she admits that she has idolized Ned and prayed for him to love her back and she confesses to God that she had believed that her prayers would help this happen. In a powerful scene filled with regrets and tears she asks God to forgive her and to grant her the strength to let Ned go.

Carolyn Miller has a remarkable talent for creating characters that are both believable and endearing and placing them in situations that will both entertain and inspire. I really admired Cecilia's faith and her determination to help others and even though Ned was initially shallow and oblivious to Cecilia's affection, it becomes apparent that he is truly a changed man. He and Cecilia both believe in the power of prayer and redemption and forgiveness are certainly a big part of Miller's plot.

Underestimating Miss Cecilia is the second book in the Daughters of Ainsley series and I look forward to reading the next book. If you are a fan of Regency romance and Christian fiction, you will definitely want to read this wonderful story!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and Kregel Publishers. A favorable review was not required and all opinions are my own.


Carolyn Miller is an Inspirational Regency romance author who lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia with her husband and four children. She loves reading especially Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer), music, films, gardens, art, travel and food. She also "really enjoys creating worlds where flawed people can grow in faith, hope and love."

You can read more about her here. 


Regency Brides: Daughters of Aynsley

A Hero for Miss Hatherleigh
Underestimating Miss Cecilia
Misleading Miss Verity (Coming November 2019)

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Friday, July 26, 2019

Goodbye to Yesterday (The Discovery #1) by Wanda E. Brunstetter

Goodbye to Yesterday (The Discovery #1)ABOUT THE BOOK

Join Meredith and Luke Stoltzfus, an Amish couple who are faced with the greatest challenge of their young lives. Financial struggles. Arguments. A suspected pregnancy. A last-minute trip to Middlebury, Indiana. A drug addict on the run. A deadly encounter at a Philadelphia bus station. Will their love and faith be enough to bring them back together again, against all odds? 


Goodbye to Yesterday by Wanda E. Brunstetter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think there are often misconceptions about Amish people: they never experience troubles or hardships and their lives are always filled with peace and harmony. Wanda E. Brunstetter has written a story that shows this isn't always the case. Good-bye to Yesterday is a novella that is the beginning of a six-part series, The Discovery--A Lancaster County Saga, and even though it isn't the usual Brunstetter book, it is still one worth reading. Luke and Meredith Stoltzus are a young married couple dealing with his long-term unemployment, a possible pregnancy, and the chance of being separated while Luke leaves Bird-in-Hand to find work with his uncle. As Meredith struggles with her fear of Luke traveling in bad winter weather, we see that Luke's welfare may be jeopardized by other dangerous circumstances as he travels to Indiana.

There are a lot of emotions described in this novella: depression, impatience, uncertainty, and worry. There is also a cliff-hanger ending so that readers will want to read the next installment. I can't rate this book as highly as I do most of Brunstetter's books but It entertained me and it made me want to read more of Luke and Meredith's story. I really can't ask for more than that and I will be checking out more of The Discovery Saga from my public library!

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Thursday, July 25, 2019

When You Need to Move a Mountain: Keys to Praying with Power by Linda Evan Shepherd


There's prayer--and then there's intercessory prayer. What's the difference? How do we know when intercessory prayer is called for? And even if we feel the call to pray boldly for ourselves or others, how do we do it? What do we say? And what response should we expect from God?

In this practical and encouraging book, Linda Evans Shepherd explains what intercessory prayer is, how to pray as an intercessor, and how to experience victory. With chapters devoted to praying for family, others, provision, health, breakthroughs, salvation of loved ones, church, community, country, and more, you'll quickly find the specific help you need to pray for the needs close to your heart. You'll also learn how to develop your own intercessory prayer battle strategy and to celebrate each victory with thanksgiving.

If you're someone with a deeply felt need to pray for others, to bring your burdens and troubles to God, and to see God's clear answers to your prayers, this book is for you.


When You Need to Move a Mountain: Keys to Praying with Power by Linda Evans Shepherd
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

How many times have you were needed to pray but you didn't know what to say? How many times have you felt like your prayers weren't being heard? Linda Evans Shepherd has written a book to help you with your prayer life and I know that I am going to benefit from it. She has filled twelve chapters with her own personal experiences and with stories from the Bible to illustrate the different times when our prayers "need to move mountains" I especially like that she opens each chapter with a Bible verse and that she also shares an abundance of Bible scripture in the Draw Your Sword section. And who can't use the twelve beautiful sample prayers that are in the Ready Your Prayer Stations?

I have often heard of people referred to as "prayer warriors" but in her introduction Linda Evans Shepherd writes "I am like a prayer investigator". She relates how she has studied God's Word to better understand prayer and that she has seen her prayers answered but not in the same way; some were answered the way she wanted and others the way God planned. If you need to pray about your family, your health, your job, your church or our nation, this book, When You Need to Move Mountain, is the book for you. It is evident that Shepherd is a believer in prayer and that she knows this subject well.

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book that I received from Revell. All views expressed are my honest opinion.


Linda is a best-selling author of over 30 books including When You Don’t Know What to Pray, Praying God's Promises and The Potluck Club. Her latest release, When You Need to Move a Mountain (Baker Revell)is available now wherever books are sold.

She is president of Right to the Heart Ministries, founder of GodTest.com as well as publisher of Leading Heartsmagazine and Arise DAILY e-devotionals.

Learn more about Linda Evans Shepherd at https://www.sheppro.com/

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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The Middle Matters: Why That (Extra)Ordinary Life Looks Really Good on You by LIsa-Jo Baker

The Middle Matters: Why That (Extra)Ordinary Life Looks Really Good on YouABOUT THE BOOK

The best-selling author of Never Unfriended opens up about midlife and what it feels like to have outgrown those teenage jeans, but finally grown into the shape of our souls.

Do you ever wonder how you woke up one day with all the responsibilities of a grown-up who secretly enjoys going to Costco, can no longer recognize the tween celebrities on the magazines at checkout, but is still surprised when a Starbucks Barista calls you "ma'am"--because your inside self is frozen in time from about twenty years ago? 
So does Lisa-Jo Baker. Welcome to the middle!

In these intimate reflections on midlife, Lisa-Jo Baker invites women to get a good look at their middles and gives permission to embrace them--beyond what the media, the mirror, the magazines, or our teenagers say. Through gutsy, beautiful storytelling, she admits out loud what most women are thinking about marriage, parenting, failure, and how badly we all want to buy those matching Magnolia Market mugs. Her delicious stories come from not being afraid of who she is (Your Age is Not a Dirty Word). Because she has finally grown comfortable in her own skin (The Scale is Not the Boss of You). She's not asking you to seize the day, just to make sure you actually see it; for all its wildly ordinary glory (Sobbing in my Minivan Over Honor Roll). Because Lisa-Jo knows that the middle might be the best part of the love story of life, muffin top included.


The Middle Matters: Why That (Extra)Ordinary Life Looks Really Good on You by Lisa-Jo Baker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I knew, when I chose to read and review The Middle Matters, that I was well beyond the targeted age group and that I have already experienced much of the subject matter. I am so glad that I had this opportunity becauses my age hasn't prevented me from gaining valuable information and receiving insight from this book. Author Lisa-Jo Baker touches on topics such as aging and weight during the middle years; marriage after the early years; parenting older children; friendships that have endured through the years; and our faith during the middle years. I was expecially drawn to this last section because I truly believe that faith is ever-changing. I don't mean that during your middle years your faith isn't valuable; I just know that my faith has grown and deepened as I have matured. I especially appreciated a quote from For the Thomases, a chapter in Why the Middle of Your Faith Matters. On page 234, Baker states that "I can feel how He likes me. Not the pretty version of me, although I'm sure He likes that part, too." "He isn't ruled by my rules or insecurities. He is the God of the wide-open sky and and the wide-open road, who comes running to meet His kids and knows each of us by name. Who loves us, and more than that, who likes us." I consider these as wonderful words of encouragement for all ages!

Baker shares her own personal experiences to show that life is made up of happy times, difficult times, and the times of "ordinary, uneventful times" and she offers encouragement and some wise advice for dealing with all of these times. And even though I would recommend this for women experiencing their own middle years, I feel certain that everyone will benefit from reading The Middle Matters.

I received an Advanced Readers Copy from the author and Waterbrook Multonomah and I was not required to write a review. These are my honest opinions.


LISA-JO BAKER, a former attorney and longtime Community Manager at (in)courage, is the bestselling author of Never Unfriended and Surprised by Motherhood. Her writings have resonated with thousands and been featured on Huffington Post Parents, Bible Gateway, Fox News, Christianity Today, IF Table, and more. ..

Learn more at http://lisajobaker.com/

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Monday, July 22, 2019

Until the Mountains Fall (Cities of Refuge, #3) by Connilyn Cossette

Until the Mountains Fall (Cities of Refuge, #3)ABOUT THE BOOK

Recently widowed, Rivkah refuses to submit to the Torah law compelling her to marry her husband's brother and instead flees Kedesh, hoping to use her talents as a scribe to support herself. Without the protections of her father, Kedesh's head priest, and the safety of the city of refuge, Rivkah soon discovers that the cost of recklessness is her own freedom.

Malakhi has secretly loved Rivkah for years, but he never imagined his older brother's death would mean wedding her himself. After her disappearance, he throws himself into the ongoing fight against the Canaanites instead of dwelling on all he has lost. But with impending war looming over Israel, Rivkah's father comes to Malakhi with an impossible request.

As the enemies that Rivkah and Malakhi face from without and within Israel grow more threatening each day, is it too late for the restoration their wounded souls seek?


Until the Mountains Fall by Connilyn Cossette
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Each time I read a new book by Connilyn Cossette, I believe that it is her best work yet and Until the Mountains Fall is no exception! I consider Cossette to be one of the best biblical fiction authors currently writing books and I am always amazed with her ability to tell a fictional story that has us hanging on to every word but still remain true to the biblical account that she has used as her background. This is the third book in her Cities of Refuge series and it features a strong-willed young woman who has suddenly lost her husband and is now expected to marry his younger brother to fulfill the laws concerning a Levirite marriage: the brother of a deceased man is obliged to marry his brother's widow. Rivkah rebels against this because Malakhi is two years younger than her, just sixteen, and he has teased and bullied her for years. How can she even contemplate being married to such a person?

This book relates her journey as she runs from her home, away from her father who is a priest and an advocate for this marriage, away from the young man who has secretly loved her for years and is more than ready to take her as his wife. Her flight also takes her from the protection that a City of Refuge offers and she faces danger and uncertainty. Over the next five years, on their separate journeys, Rivkah and Malakhi mature into humble servants and gain the wisdom that comes with age. It is when they are once again drawn together that Rivkah realizes that she may have run from the biggest blessing of her life, the love of Malakhi. 'Somehow, over these past two months, I'd discovered that life without the man I'd once thrown away was unthinkable.' And as she prays to her Heavenly Father for Malakhi's safety, she realizes that her own earthly father has probably been praying for her and pleading for her safe return!

Until the Mountains Fall is a beautifully written story that features two love stories: the breathtaking romance between a woman and the man who never gave up on her and the powerful love that God has for His children. Cossette's theme is one that we all need to remember---no matter where we go and no matter what we do, we all can experience redemption and forgiveness. All of us can enjoy a homecoming like the prodigal son that is recorded in Luke 15, or in this case, the homecoming of a prodigal daughter!

I received a complimentary copy from the author and publisher and I am voluntarily sharing my thoughts in this review.


Connilyn Cossette is the CBA-Bestselling, Christy Nominated author of the Out from Egypt Series and the Cities of Refuge Series from Bethany House Publishers. When she’s not engulfed in the happy chaos of homeschooling two teenagers, devouring books whole, or avoiding housework, she can be found digging into the rich ancient world of the Bible. She delights in discovering new gems of grace that point to Jesus and weaving them into an immersive fiction experience. Although she and her husband have lived all over the country in the last twenty-plus years, they currently call North Carolina home. 

You can learn more about this author at https://www.connilyncossette.com/

Cities of Refuge Series

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Sunday, July 21, 2019

Yours Truly, Thomas by Rachel Fordham

Yours Truly, ThomasABOUT THE BOOK

For three years, Penny Ercanbeck has been opening other people's mail. Dead ends are a reality for clerks at the Dead Letter Office. Still she dreams of something more--a bit of intrigue, a taste of romance, or at least a touch less loneliness. When a letter from a brokenhearted man to his one true love falls into her hands, Penny seizes this chance to do something heroic. It becomes her mission to place this lost letter into the hands of its intended recipient.

Thomas left his former life with no intention of ending up in Azure Springs, Iowa. He certainly didn't expect a happy ending after what he had done. All he wanted to do was run and never look back. In a moment of desperation, he began to write, never really expecting a reply.

When Penny's undertaking leads her to the intriguing man who touched her soul with his words, everything grows more complicated. She wants to find the rightful owner of the letter and yet she finds herself caring--perhaps too much--for the one who wrote it,

Yours Truly, Thomas by Rachel Fordham
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I absolutely loved this historical fiction book that is set in the 1800s in Azure Springs, Iowa and I enjoyed learning about the workings of the dead-letter office. I was vaguely familiar with this office in Washington, DC but I didn't realize the true efforts of the peopLe who worked there in trying to get the mail to the intended recipients. The heroine of Yours Truly, Thomas is a clerk in the dead-letter office and she is especially diligent in finding the people for whom the mail was intended. One letter touches her especially and she travels to Azure Springs, Iowa so that she can make sure that Clara gets her letter from Thomas. What follows is a story filled with a little humor, some mystery and intrigue, and the realization that even though life doesn't always end up the way we thought, the results can offer happiness.

Penny Ercanbeck is such a special person and I was thrilled that she found her happiness after leaving Washington to travel to Azure Springs.  In the letters that she writes to her friend Dinah, Penny describes the town and the people and she tells Dinah that "In Azure Springs, it seems anyone who wishes to be friends can be. It is a beautiful thing." Penny also gets to meet the letter writer Thomas Conner and she immediately feels a strong attraction to this man who has penned such beautiful words to both Clara and to her.

Author Rachel Fordham has created some great supporting characters and I especially liked Margaret Anders, the owner of the boardinghouse where Penny lives; Dinah, Penny's friend in Washington, DC; and Penny's 'mud-loving' dog Honeysuckle. Penny finds great love and acceptance from all of them and Margaret and Honey provide humor in this story that is sometimes filled with sadness. Margaret also plays a matchmaker as she recognizes the hurts and loneliness that Penny and Thomas have experienced in their lives.

The letters written by Thomas to Clara, the letters exchanged between Thomas and Penny, and the letters that Penny writes to her friend Diana and to her own mother are all a reminder of a time when handwritten letters were the norm and certainly not the exception. I recall writing letters to my friends, to my cousins, and even to pen pals and this wonderful novel has helped me recall the excitement of receiving a lettter in the mail. I am so in love with Yours Truly, Thomas!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and I voluntarily chose to write this review.


Rachel Fordham has long been fascinated by all things historical or in the words of her children “old stuff”. Often the historical trivia she discovers is woven into her children's bedtime tales. Despite her love for good stories she didn’t attempt writing a novel until her husband challenged her to do so (and now she’s so glad he did). Since that time she’s often been found typing or researching while her youngest child naps or frantically writing plot twists while she waits in the school pick-up line. In addition to her passion for storytelling she enjoys reading, being outdoors and seeing new places. Rachel lives with her husband and children on an island in Washington state.

Learn more about current projects at rachelfordham.com

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Saturday, July 20, 2019

Risky Return (Covert Operatives #3) by Virginia Vaughan

Risky Return (Covert Operatives #3)ABOUT THE BOOK

“Stop investigating or you will die.”

A Covert Operatives story

Searching for a missing pregnant foster teen, Rebecca Mason stumbles across a human trafficking ring. Now with criminals determined to silence Rebecca, security specialist Collin Walsh appoints himself her protector. But how can the secret husband who once abandoned her to join the military regain her trust? Collin will do anything to make up for the past…but first he must ensure they survive.

MY THOUGHTS.....    

Risky Return by Virginia Vaughan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Risky Return is filled with intense action that begins on the first page and it never lets up! Rebecca Mason is attacked by an unknown man and she is rescued by Collin Walsh, the man she hasn't seen for almost twelve years. As the danger escalates Rebecca is faced with accepting protection from this man who married her and then left her when their baby died. After they both escape numerous threats to their lives Rebecca realizes that she must trust Collin with her life but can she trust herself with her feelings of love that have never died?

This is an exciting story but it is also a timely story that focuses on the serious problem of human trafficking that is now plaguing our society. Rebecca becomes aware of this as she struggles to find a young teen girl who has suddenly disappeared. As her search continues it becomes apparent that Missy Donovan may be one of many teenagers who are being forced to have babies so that they can be sold in a suspected baby-selling operation. Rebecca is determined to rescue Missy and the other girls and Collin is just as determined to protect Rebecca. It soon becomes apparent that they are both still in love with the other but it is doubtful that their past hurts can be forgiven!

Risky Return is an exciting, fast-paced story filled with intrigue and mystery but author Virginia Vaughan has also included a strong faith element throughout her book and she features both Rebecca and Collin's faltering faith and their acceptance of His ever-present love!

In one instance Collin realizes that he was sent back to his hometown for a reason. 'Collin hadn't always put much faith in God, but He had to be the reason for the reconnection with Rebecca. Collin couldn't leave town until he knew she was safe.' 

There are also several instances when Rebecca questions why this is happening and she wonders about God's plan. 'She'd always tried to remain strong and believe God was in control. But how much more could she take?' And still another time: 'She was always trying to do the right thing and it wasn't fair that the bad guys were coming after her. Where was God in all this? Where was the truth?' 

It is through their questioning that they both realize that God is always there and that forgiveness is always available!

I truly enjoyed reading Risky Return and I recommend it to anyone who like romantic suspense and Christian fiction.

I received a complimentary copy from the author but I was under no obligation to write a positive review.


Virginia Vaughan is a former investigator for the State of Mississippi who left a promising career to pursue her dream of being a writer. Blessed to come from a large, Southern family, her fondest memories include hearing stories recounted by family and friends around the large dinner table. She was a lover of books even from a young age, devouring gothic romance novels and stories of romance, danger, and love. She soon started writing them herself, delving into the genre of romantic suspense, armed with her passion for writing and the knowledge gained from her criminal justice background

Learn more about Virginia at http://www.virginiavaughanonline.com/

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Talk the Walk: How to be Right Without Being Insufferable by Steve Brown

Talk the Walk: How to Be Right Without Being InsufferableABOUT THE BOOK

This attitude-altering book invites Christians to cultivate boldness and humility in communicating gospel truth. By uncovering self-righteousness and spiritual arrogance, Talk the Walk by pastor and author Steve Brown shatters stereotypes and helps believers consider how they present the good news without watering it down.

The Christian faith is true, and while we may be right on issues of salvation and theology, we may miss the less articulated truths of humility, love, and forgiveness. We live in a culture that is increasingly hostile to Christians and their faith. Talk the Walk unpacks the call to go out into the world and share faith by being truthful and winsome. By helping men and women love others out of a deeper love in Christ the one who first loved us Talk the Walk helps Christians present the gospel clearly and with compassion.

Take a step back and look at others perceptions. Explore the tools necessary to accomplish an attitude change of confidence and humility, repentance and truth. Share the message of Christ without distorting it. Speak confidently without being cold. By operating out of humble gratitude for the gospel, begin to talk the walk of Christian faith, reflecting the love and truth of Jesus.


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In this new book from author Steve Brown, readers are urged to speak the truth even when people don't want to hear it. Using his own experiences and those of others, Brown urges Christians to "talk the walk of Christian faith, reflecting the love and truth of Jesus" and make sure that their true message can be heard and that others will want to hear that message. Christians who are self-righteous and arrogant may be tuned out but those speaking with love, humility, and forgiveness are more likely to be heard. On page 30, Brown shares that "Sometimes it is best to be silent and to let love, freedom, and joy do the talking."

There are so many sections and so many statements that deserve to be highlighted and this is a book that needs to be read over and over. Some of his statements gave me pause and some made me seek the ultimate authority: The Holy Bible. Talk the Walk isn't a "light" book but it is a book filled with light.

I received a complimentary copy from New Growth Press but a positive review wasn't required. These are my honest thoughts.


Steve Brown is the Founder of Key Life Network, Inc. (www.keylife.org) and Bible teacher on the national radio program Key Life and he is also the host of the talk show Steve Brown, Etc. A former pastor, he is also a frequent in-demand speaker and visiting seminary lecturer. He is the author of many books including How to Talk So People Will Listen, Three Free Sins, and Hidden Agendas.

For more information, you can follow him on Facebook and Twitter 

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Don't Blame the Mud: Only Jesus Makes Us Clean by Marty Machowski

Don't Blame the MudABOUT THE BOOK

For young readers and families, Don’t Blame the Mud paints a vivid and accurate picture of sin and God’s plan of redemption. Written by best-selling children’s author Marty Machowski, this beautifully illustrated picture book teaches children how to recognize the lure of temptation and the truth that bad choices lead to bad consequences.

One day, Max takes the muddy path along the creek home, disregarding his mother’s reminder to keep his school clothes clean. After crashing into a mud puddle, he tries to hide his mistake and discovers the stain of his sin goes deeper than the mud he can wash away. In this lovable, relatable, and heartwarming tale, Max learns his heart needs to be cleaned, and Jesus is the only one who can wash away his sin.

By clearly articulating the gospel, Don’t Blame the Mud helps parents create an environment of confession so kids can own up to their own mistakes—in the freedom of Christ—rather than place the blame elsewhere. Parents, teachers, and caretakers can help children identify with the real-life draw of temptation and the real-life consequences of sin, understanding the value of God’s salvation through the cross. Instead of teaching kids how to deal with a problem, Machowski uncovers the real issue of sin and provides a gospel answer.


Don't Blame the Mud by Marty Machowski
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Don't Blame the Mud is a great way to introduce children to the concepts of sin, guilt, and forgiveness. Author Marty Machowski shows how a young boy named Max is tempted to do the very thing that his mother warned him not to do. Max gets dirty--very, very dirty--and he immediately feels guilty about disobeying his mom. As he tries to hide his muddy clothes and shoes Max realizes that his mother knows exactly what he has done so he then tries shifting the blame from himself. A discussion between Max and his parents helps him understand that sin is wrong and Jesus is the only way to get rid of the stain of sin and truly be clean again.

There are so many reasons to like this book. The illustrations are fun and colorful; the text is easy to read and easy to understand; and the subject is one that children will understand. All of us, no matter our ages, are tempted to do things that we know we shouldn't and then place the blame on someone or something else. Admitting our sin and asking for forgiveness is our only answer and the author shares scripture and suggests questions that will help parents and grandparents explain God's Plan of Salvation to the young people in their lives.

This is a special book to share with young people and my five year-old-granddaughter paid it the highest compliment. She immediately asked me to re-read Don't Blame the Mud the first time that I read it to her!

I received a complimentary copy from New Growth Press and I voluntarily chose to share my personal opinions in this review.

By Marty Machowski, illustrated by Craig MacIntosh
May 27, 2019 / Retail Price: $15.99
ISBN 978-1-948130-96-7
Religion / Christian Life / Children


Marty Machowski is a Family Life Pastor at Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, where he has served on the pastoral staff for thirty years. Machowski leads Promise Kingdom, the gospel-centered children’s ministry of Covenant Fellowship.

He is the author of numerous resources for churches and families, including The Gospel Story for Kids series, The Ology, and Parenting First Aid. His latest release is the children’s picture book, Dont Blame the Mud.

Machowski and his wife, Lois, reside in West Chester, Pennsylvania. They have six children and two grandchildren. He is also the Executive Editor for Children’s Resources at New Growth Press.

Learn more at www.martymachowski.com. He can also be found on Twitter (@MartyMachowski)

Craig MacIntosh is the illustrator of Dont Blame the Mud. MacIntosh was a newspaper political cartoonist and illustrator for twenty-two years and the artist for the widely published comic strip Sally Forth. He and his wife, Linda, live in Minnesota and have two grown children.

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Monday, July 15, 2019

Hadassah, Queen Esther of Persia by Diana Wallis Taylor: Review Tour & Giveaway with Celebrate Lit

About the Book

Book: Hadassah 
Author: Diana Wallis Taylor 
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction
Release date: July 2, 2019

One of the great heroines of the Old Testament, Hadassah was a beautiful, graceful young woman who put her faith in God and her guardian, her cousin Mordecai.
She dreams of marrying Shamir, a tall, handsome, studious young man who is the rabbi’s son. Her heart beats faster when she hears the sound of his deep voice as he reads the Torah. And she hopes that he will visit Mordecai soon to present a betrothal request. Then, an upheaval in King Xerxes’s palace changes everything. Queen Vashti has been banished and an edict goes out for all qualified young virgins throughout the empire to be taken to the palace as he searches for a new queen. Fear strikes in the hearts of many, including Mordecai, as he realizes Hadassah will be taken. To hide her identity as a Jew, he tells her to go by the name of Esther. Since he works as a record-keeper at the king’s gates, he can keep tabs on how she is doing. Hadassah: Queen Esther of Persia imagines what life was like for the woman who saved her people—and perhaps found love in the process.

Click here to grab your copy!


I jumped at the chance to read this book because I have always loved the story of the young Jewish girl who was brave enough to approach the KIng to ask for mercy for her people. I also enjoy biblical fiction and I am always eager to see if the author has used Bible scripture in an acceptable manner and I think that this author did. Diana Wallis Taylor based this book on the Old Testament book, Book of Esther, and she also did research on Persia, its culture and the Persian-Greek war that occurred during this time period. Taylor's book begins with eight-year-old Hadassah, a Jewish girl who is left as an orphan until she is adopted by her only living relative, an older cousin named Mordecai. As she matures, this beautiful young girl now known as Esther catches the eye of King Xerses and he chooses her to become a member of his court. This was a pagan custom that usually ended in several women becoming a lifetime part of the KIng's harem but Esther was actually chosen to become his Queen. It was because of her importance that she and her cousin Mordecai were able to reveal the evil plot against all of the Jewish people and prevent  them from being murdered.

People who are familiar with the Bible know that many of the stories are so amazing that they seem like fiction but they are, of course, indeed true. Hadassah's bravery; Mordecai's important job in the King's treasury and his intelligence and wisdom; and the very evil Haman are all important details in this book and they are all a part of the remarkable story that was recorded in the Book of Esther. It is a fact that God chose a young Jewish girl to complete His plan for his chosen people and that she was obedient to God's will but this biblical fiction book allows us to understand her uncertainty and to feel her fear as she readied herself to approach the king.

I appreciated the notes that the author shared in the back of her book. Taylor admits that she doesn't know if Esther and Xerses had a loving marriage but she chose to write it as such because of the Scriptures that state that the king 'loved her above all the other women'. She also shares that there is a tomb in present-day Iran that carries the names of Esther and Mordecai and it is believed that they were buried there.

I enjoyed Hadassah: Queen Esther of Persia and I recommend it to all who enjoy Christian romance and historical or biblical fiction.

I received a complimentary copy through Celebrate Lit. I have voluntarily chosen to share my honest thoughts.

About the Author

Diana Wallis Taylor was first published at the age of twelve, when she sold a poem to a church newsletter. After receiving her B.A. in Elementary Education at San Diego State University, she was an elementary school teacher for twenty-two years. Diana has also sold real estate, opened two coffeehouse/used book stores, and was a conference director for a private Christian college. She has an extensive portfolio of published works, including a collection of poetry; an Easter cantata, written with a musical collaborator; contributions to various magazines and compilations; and several books, including Lydia, Woman of Philippi; Mary, Chosen of God; Ruth, Mother of Kings; and Halloween: Harmless Fun or Risky Business? Learn more at www.dianawallistaylor.com.

Read an Excerpt

Besides the usual vendors, there were strange, sweaty men with beady eyes who were looking to get rich from the additional population. In the wee hours of the morning, while Mordecai sat with his head in his hands, silently praying, Jerusha stopped breathing, slipping away so quietly that Hadassah thought she was still sleeping. One day, to the people’s relief, the news was spread that the unwelcome banquet guests had been ordered back to their provinces—to prepare for war. Instead of bowing, Hadassah smiled unabashedly and gazed directly at the king, who at that moment had turned his head. “Do not give your name as Hadassah, but tell them it is Esther, which is a Persian name. I would have you hide your Jewish heritage for now.” She felt their eyes silently appraising her; some with open interest, some with sympathy, and others with calculating shrewdness. Esther asked each maid gentle, innocuous questions about her homeland, favorite foods, culture, and the like, listening attentively to their answers and making sure to speak to them by name both to let them know they were important to her and also to help her remember who was who. “If you maidens help me to be my very best when I am called to the king’s chambers, if he honors me by selecting me as his queen, I will not forget you, who helped to put the crown on my head.” Esther had seen some of the women pass her quarters so laden with jewelry they could hardly walk. She wanted to laugh out loud, but suppressed even a smile. Recognition came. “Ah, the maiden in the crowd. I thought about you many times.” He moved closer. “I remember your hair, like a cloud around your face.”

Blog Stops

Hallie Reads, July 4
EmpowerMoms, July 7
Madeline Hope, July 7
Moments, July 8
Emily Yager, July 9
Mary Hake, July 11
Splashes of Joy, July 12
Simple Harvest Reads, July 12 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)
Bigreadersite, July 13
Pause for Tales, July 13
Henry Happens, July 17


To celebrate her tour, Diana is giving away a grand prize of a $20 Starbucks card and a surprise book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.