Category Archives: Fiction

Pidge Takes the Stage

Pidge Takes The StageTitle: Pidge Takes the Stage
Author: Michelle Staubach Grimes
Illustrator: Bill Deore
Publisher: Pidge Media
ISBN: 978-0-9908420-1-9

“Pidge stretched her mouth so wide it hurt. Tears welled in her eyes. What have I gotten myself into? She thought,” Michelle Staubach Grimes writes in her children’s book, Pidge Takes the Stage.

~ What ~
A sequel in a series, this oversized thirty-two-page hardbound targets five- to six-year-old children and readers who appreciate a fun story about participation, hard work, and acceptance. With no scary scenes, it would be best read to beginner readers based on some complicated words. Expressive, detailed illustrations by Deore cover the pages with the story coinciding with the artwork.

In this charming story, young Pidge decides to audition for a school play and include her rather unruly-behaved dog, Maverick. While everyone tells her the dog is not well trained and she has to learn how to sing properly, the girl believes in herself and her canine. After taking lessons and training her dog as best as she can, the day of the audition arrives, but chaos occurs when Maverick misbehaves. Pidge’s friend takes care of the beloved pet so she can audition and be selected for a different role in the play.

~ Why ~
This book is a clever way for a young child to learn about believing in oneself, practicing to get better at something, not giving up on others, being a friend, offering unconditional love, and trying your best in every situation. I love how the author promotes doing hard work and fortitude to achieve a goal.

~ Why Not ~
The book contains many multi-syllable words that may frustrate beginner readers, but it also is a way to learn new words. Those with visual issues may find some of the illustrations too busy and hectic.

~ Wish ~
While the book is for five and six-year-olds, I think it could be read and understood by younger children or read on its own by older kids in the lower elementary grades. I hope more adventures of Pidge are in the works.

~ Want ~
If you read the first in the series of Pidge’s life, this book will delight a young reader. It would be well received by a reader who likes to learn or try new things while accepting things do not always work out as planned.

Thanks to Finnpartners and the author for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

This book can be purchased at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/pidge-takes-the-stage-michelle-grimes/1127921224

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Filed under **** Good - Will Be Glad to Pass On to Others, Book Review, Childrens, Fiction

Together Forever

Together Forever (Orphan Train Series #2)Title: Together Forever
Author: Jody Hedlund
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 978-0-7642-1805-7

“And there’s nothing more you could have done either,” Marianne tells her partner in Jody Hedlund’s novel, Together Forever.”

~ What ~
The second in the Orphan Train series, this three-hundred-and-fifty-two-page paperback targets those who like historical fiction with heartbreak and happiness in the 1850s. Containing no profanity, topics of poverty, abuse, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The author’s notes and biography, as well as advertisements for other books, are included.

When Marianne Neumann gets a job with the Children’s Aid Society, she has ulterior motives to search for her sister who she thinks is one of the orphans put on the trains headed west to find better homes. As the nineteen-year-old woman travels with over thirty children to handle their placing-outs, she shares the task with Drew Brady, a young man who is guilt- and grief-ridden about his past. While the miles pass on the rails, Marianne and Drew flirt, tease, and have playful bantering that may end up altering more than just their two lives.

~ Why ~
The author does a thorough job explaining how the organization placed orphaned children in homes across the states while showing the tender but sometimes heart-wrenching decisions to let go to those that need to find their way. I like development of many of the children, showing their fears and dreams as they are revealed.

~ Why Not ~
Some may wish the book was not so romantically predictable with its premarital passion. Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ may not like the lightly-sprinkled spiritual references. I questioned Marianne’s unchallenged lying and the unusual marriage engagements.

~ Wish ~
Having not read the first book in the series, I felt there remained many unanswered questions in this one. Due to the book’s ending, it may leave many wondering what happens next to its characters, which hopefully will be mentioned in the third book.

~ Want ~
If you like historical Christian fiction of orphan trains involving the Children’s Aid Society in America, this will peek your interest, but you may tire of the ongoing breathy romance between two protagonists as you wait for its ending.

Thanks to Bethany House for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

This book can be purchased at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/together-forever-jody-hedlund/1127179102

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Filed under **** Good - Will Be Glad to Pass On to Others, Book Review, Christian, Fiction

Before I Saw You

Before I Saw YouTitle: Before I Saw You
Author: Amy K. Sorrells
Publisher: Tyndale Fiction
ISBN: 978-1-4964-0956-0

“You may not have a choice in this, but you can give your baby a chance,” Jaycee is told in the novel, Before I Saw You, by Amy K. Sorrells.

~ What ~
At three-hundred-and-sixty-one-eight pages, this paperback targets those who enjoy contemporary women’s fiction involving adoption, forgiveness, and complicated relationship dynamics. Using the slang word “heck,” topics of child endangerment, physical abuse, opioid addiction, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The ending includes a note, excerpt from another one of the writer’s novels, twelve discussion questions, author’s biography, acknowledgments, and advertisements.

In this tale told in first person, Jaycee Givens has had a rough upbringing growing up in a run-down Indiana trailer park when her mother is addicted to drugs, she feels responsible for her young brother’s death, and she hides her unplanned pregnancy. As she sorts through her life-changing options, she yearns to trust God’s soft voice with the help of newcomer Gabe’s determined friendship and a wise animal lover’s gentle advice.

~ Why ~
With the heroin epidemic ravaging America, this book points out how it can devastate not only the user but family members too. I appreciate how Jaycee works through her issues of not only breaking up with an abuser but also reconciling with loved ones, dealing with the loss of a dear friend, and making the ultimate decision to give her child a better life.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ may not like this read. Others may feel uncomfortable reading about the ramifications of drug use and heartbreaking decision to give up a child for adoption.

~ Wish ~
I wish all pronouns of God were capitalized for reverence and the slang word was avoided. Due to the ending, continuing the story of some of the characters could be an anticipated sequel.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for a touching, tender, and redemptive read, this one that shows how God knows and cares about what happens to us will keep you turning the page as tears gather in your eyes.

Thanks to Tyndale Blog Network for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

This book can be purchased at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/before-i-saw-you-amy-sorrells/1127416107

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Filed under ***** Great - A Keeper, If You Borrow It, Give It Back!, Christian, Fiction

Honeysuckle Rose

Honeysuckle DreamsTitle: Honeysuckle Dreams
Author: Denise Hunter
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
ISBN: 978-0-7180-9052-4

“What am I going to do? I can’t stand the thought of losing him,” Brady laments about Sam in Denise Hunter’s novel, Honeysuckle Dreams.

~ What ~
Second in the A Blue Ridge Romance series, this three-hundred-and-twenty-page paperback targets those interested in a romance regarding marrying for the sake of a child and not love. Including slang words such as darn and heck, topics of drug addiction, premarital sex, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The ending has acknowledgments, author’s biography, and advertisements.

In this current-day trilogy, divorced high-end car mechanic, Brady Collins, has learned that to keep custody of his six-month son, it is recommended he marry. Although he got divorced from his wife and she died, he finds out from a paternity test that he is not Sammy’s father and that his in-laws want custody.

Brady’s best friend, Hope, offers to marry him so not only he gets to keep the boy, but also she gets a ready-made husband and child without having to deal with the love issue. As time progresses and the two marry, her fears of the past overshadow the happiness a blessed marriage offers.

~ Why ~
Focusing on love being forefront in relationships, the story shows that even non-biological parents can offer support and unconditional love. I liked the author’s effort at the romantic and sexual energy between the protagonists while not being too risqué in the details.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ may not see the validity of praying and trusting in God which is minorly mentioned throughout the book. Others who do not like romantic stories about heartbreak and how to overcome the past may not be interested in this type of read.

~ Wish ~
Although I have not read any of the author’s other books, I was often frustrated reading this one. If it was not the one-night-stand pregnancy, rocky marriage, instant divorce, and then oddly-arranged remarriage within a year’s time, it was the rush to print that included miswords like dishwater instead of dishwasher (page 52) and Heather quoting her name when it should have been Audrey’s (page 220). I thought the writing was campy and unrealistic when it came to Brady and Hope being best friends for so long, yet she never confronted him when he married Audrey nor was he aware of her past fears.

~ Want ~
If you like unrealistic romances that are on the cutesy-wootsey side complete with baby talk, this could be your ticket, but I doubt I will read another of Hunter’s novels as this one was rushed and had an awkward premise.

Thanks to Book Look Bloggers for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

This book can be purchased at https://ww.barnesandnoble.com/w/honeysuckle-dreams-denise-hunter/1126606486

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Filed under ** Think Twice - I Didn't Like It, Book Review, Christian, Fiction

The Road to Magnolia Glen

The Road to Magnolia GlenTitle: The Road to Magnolia Glen
Author: Pam Hillman
Publisher: Tyndale House
ISBN: 978-1-4964-1594-3

“Now that the freedom he’d longed for was at hand, he wasn’t sure he could go through with it,” Quinn questions in Pam Hillman’s novel, The Road to Magnolia Glen.

~ What ~
At four-hundred-and-seventeen pages, this paperback that is part of the Natchez Trace Novel series targets those who enjoy a historical Christian romance involving plantation living in Mississippi during the eighteenth century. With no profanity, topics of prostitution, abuse, murder, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers.

In this continuing saga, Connor’s brother Quinn is on his way to America with his younger brothers in tow. When landing in the colonies, he helps three Irish sisters he met onboard escape from a sinister man who the eldest was to marry. Hiding the girls at his brother’s plantation, Quinn wonders if his carefree life of adventure will have to be postponed again to protect the beautiful Kiera and her siblings from harm and mayhem.

~ Why ~
With some of the same characters in the previous book, this tale also promotes the importance of family and love. I like the loyalty displayed by both sets of Irish families and the historic venue of the South displayed, especially how everyone had to work hard and together to survive.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like historical romances from the South involving two hard-working, driven protagonists may not appreciate this book. Others may wish the romance was not predictable, especially when it came to Quinn deciding what to do.

~ Wish ~
I wish the book contained more Christian theology and prayers to God as it brushes over those topics. It would be thoughtful if it offered more teasers to the next book in the series, which may be about another O’Shea brother. I found the human indenturing issue a little confusing.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for the second in a series of historical fiction how love protects more than one family, this is a quick read regarding romance on the Natchez Trace.

Thanks to Tyndale Blog for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

This book can be purchased at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-road-to-magnolia-glen-pam-hillman/1127416109

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Filed under **** Good - Will Be Glad to Pass On to Others, Book Review, Christian, Fiction

Fatal Recall

Fatal RecallTitle: Fatal Recall
Author: Carol J. Post
Publisher: Harlequin
ISBN: 978-1-335-49043-8

“If you hadn’t found me, I wouldn’t be alive today,” Paige tells Tanner in Carol J. Post’s novel, Fatal Recall.

~ What ~
Part of the Love Inspired Suspense series, this two-hundred-and-twenty-four-page pocket-sized paperback targets those who enjoy inspirational suspense with romance. With no profanity or sexual content, topics of physical abuse, murder, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The book promotes that God protects and is with us always. An author’s note and inserts of other Love Inspired series books are at the end.

In this current-day short story based mainly in North Carolina, Paige Tatem awakens on the Appalachian Trail with a bump on her head and amnesia, unable to remember who she is or how she got there. Off-duty policeman Tanner Brody finds her unconscious and wonders what secrets she is hiding when all circumstances point to her as a perpetrator, not a victim. As the two try to re-enact her past, they uncover their ugly upbringings while repeatedly being targets of a murder plot.

~ Why ~
The fast-paced tale shows how two lonely and guarded individuals must overcome their pasts to move on and forgive themselves. I like the author’s way of portraying her broken and imperfect characters who are urged to seek God for help. Like her other books, there is no eternal plan of salvation given, but the underlying story is about trusting the Almighty.

~ Why Not ~
The short novel is predictable as far as the romance aspect is concerned. Those who do know Jesus Christ personally may not appreciate the undertone of Christianity being a relationship with Christ, not a set of rules. Some may not care for the physical abuse or murder depicted, but it is not too graphic.

~ Wish ~
Since this short novel barely allows its characters to develop fully, it is good that there is a second book in the series that may bring conclusion. However, I am curious how the writer will approach an “unequally yoked” relationship.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for a quick, suspenseful fiction that includes romance and self-forgiveness, this one will keep you guessing what it is like having amnesia while being targeted to be killed.

Thanks to the author for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

This book can be purchased at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/fatal-recall-carol-j-post/1127202014

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Filed under **** Good - Will Be Glad to Pass On to Others, Book Review, Christian, Fiction

The Accidental Guardian

The Accidental GuardianTitle: The Accidental Guardian
Authors: Mary Connealy
Publisher: BethanyHouse
ISBN: 978-0-7642-1929-0

“Had the outlaws come for the women? Had they found out someone from the wagon train survived?” Trace ponders in Mary Connealy’s novel, The Accidental Guardian.

~ What ~
The first in the High Sierra Sweetheart series, this three-hundred-and-four-page paperback targets those who like historical fiction with suspense and romance in the Sierra Nevadas in 1867. Its topics of torture, murder, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The author’s biography and advertisements for other books are included.

When Deb and her sister travel West on a wagon train, their world is drastically altered when it is brutally attacked, leaving the two of them in charge of two young orphaned children. Coming to their rescue, Trace, who has witnessed the same savaged experience in his past, willingly takes them to his rural ranch twenty miles away, not knowing how to handle both the women and children. As Deb and Trace work through the horror of their memories, not only do they want to find the murderers but also unexpectedly find each other.

~ Why ~
The author does a decent job explaining the Lake Tahoe area and the hardships homesteaders faced year round. The story is easy to read while building the romantic relationship between the two protagonists. I like that it includes a spiritual aspect of dealing with vengeance and Trace’s conviction to guard and protect others.

~ Why Not ~
Some may wish the book was not so romantically predictable. Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ may not like the spiritual references. I found the writing a little stifled and told without emotion with little plot development that felt rushed.

~ Wish ~
Due to the book’s quick ending, it may leave many wondering what happens next to its characters, which hopefully will be mentioned in the second book.

~ Want ~
If you like historical Christian fiction of the West, wagon trains, and living with a gun at your side, this may be a good read, but it did not hold my attention as well as I anticipated.

Thanks to Bethany House for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

This book can be purchased at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-accidental-guardian-mary-connealy/1126332844

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Filed under *** OK - Don't Love It, Don't Hate It, Book Review, Christian, Fiction

The Song of Sadie Sparrow

The Song of Sadie SparrowTitle: The Song of Sadie Sparrow
Author: Kitty Foth-Regner
Publisher: Faith Happenings Publisher
ISBN: 978-1-941555354

“I sing because I’m free. For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me!” Sadie sings in Kitty Forth-Regner’s novel, The Song of Sadie Sparrow.

~ What ~
This three-hundred-and-ninety-eight-page paperback targets those who enjoy books about accepting God is in control as it relates to aging. With a couple of slang words, topics of death, afterlife, and possible abuse may not be appropriate for immature readers. The ending includes the author’s biography, acknowledgments, and information regarding the publisher.

In this tale, eighty-six-year-old Sadie Sparrow is forced to move to The Hickories, an upscale nursing home in Wisconsin. Feeling she has been abandoned and forgotten by her only child who is preoccupied and too busy, the lonely woman tries not to be bitter but accepting of her challenging circumstances. When she meets single Elise, the granddaughter of another resident, and atheist widowed Meg, the assistant activities director who write biographies, she learns the true meaning of eternity and how God has her exactly where she should be at the end of her life.

~ Why ~
Unfortunately, death is something everyone experiences unless the Rapture happens. Knowing you will be with Jesus is the most comforting experience facing the afterlife. I like how the story of the three women progresses, each dealing with their life-changing issues. The eternal plan of salvation is succinct and to the point without adding any “works” on the receiver’s part. I appreciate how the author goes into detail regarding the pluses and problems of living in a nursing home.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ may be offended by this book that promotes understanding there is only one way to Heaven. Others may feel uncomfortable reading about the end of life and what aging people think, say, and do as they face their inevitable demise.

~ Wish ~
Since I, like the author, volunteer with the elderly, I related to many parts of the story and often see the loneliness and abandonment many feel being in a nursing or retirement home. I found some of the details of meals and clothing nonessential and would have preferred the two slang words omitted. I love the old Christian hymns mentioned but wish the Bible version(s) used were listed at the beginning.

~ Want ~
If you like a story that brings to light how bitterness, sorrow, and loneliness affects the elderly, this book is spot on, while showing Jesus is the only answer here on Earth and when we die and go to Heaven if we believe in Him.

Thanks to Christian Women Affiliate and the author for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

Check out the author’s website at http://www.EverlastingPlace.com

This book can be purchased at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-song-of-sadie-sparrow-kitty-foth-regner/1127470198

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Filed under ***** Great - A Keeper, If You Borrow It, Give It Back!, Book Review, Christian, Fiction

The Kremlin Conspiracy

Title: The Kremlin Conspiracy, Author: Joel C. RosenbergTitle: The Kremlin Conspiracy
Author: Joel C. Rosenberg
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
ISBN: 978-1-4964-0617-0

“It’s time, Oleg Stefanovich – we are going to war,” President Luganov tells his son-in-law in Joel C. Rosenberg’s novel, The Kremlin Conspiracy.

What ~
At four-hundred-and-eighty pages, this hardbound targets those who enjoy Christian contemporary fictional suspense involving Russia considering invading three NATO countries. Topics of adultery, physical abuse, and murder may not be appropriate for immature readers. The beginning includes a list of characters and preface while the ending has acknowledgments, the author’s biography, and advertisements for other authored books.

In this fast-paced tale, two men’s lives intersect unexpectedly when the president of Russia decides he wants to restore the glory of Mother Russia. While American Marcus Ryker is recalled into helping the United States protect three Baltic states from possible infiltration by Russia, Oleg Kraskin, who is married to the Russian’s president and confidant of his inner circle, feels there is no way out of a growing nuclear exchange. As one trusts in God for guidance, the other must decide where his loyalty lies to save the world.

~ Why ~
Those who like action-packed current day espionage stories of possible nuclear war will appreciate this book. I enjoyed the short chapters that were to the point, showing both protagonists struggle with their personal and private lives while patriotically and loyally serving their countries. The eternal plan of salvation is added.

~Why Not ~
Those who do not like graphic violence, murder, and death will avoid this read that mimics people and places in current day political history. Some may not like the story’s predictability and abrupt ending. Others may consider the book a little too close to reality regarding Russia and her leader.

~ Wish ~
My husband and I both read this book, accurately guessing the end before it happened. I wish it did not contain loose ends that may lead to a sequel. I prefer all pronouns of God capitalized for reverence.

~ Want ~
If you enjoy a game of political chess between countries that involve plots of terrorism, espionage, and assassinations in Christian fiction, this read will keep you engaged while questioning the news when you watch it the next day.

Thanks to Tyndale House Publishers and the author for this book that I am under no obligation to review.

This book can be purchased at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-kremlin-conspiracy-joel-c-rosenberg/1126701416

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Filed under ***** Great - A Keeper, If You Borrow It, Give It Back!, Book Review, Christian, Fiction

Absurdimals

Title: Absurdimals
Author: Gwendolyn Javor
Illustrator: Melissa Aker Spears
Publisher: CreateSpace
ISBN: 978-1-981879601

“If being an Absurdimal means you can be who you want, we ALL want to be Absurdimals too!” a tiny mouse tells Lola in Gwendolyn Javor’s children’s book, Absurdimals: Lola Goes to School.

~ What ~
This unnumbered thirty-page paperback targets children ages five to eight years old who enjoy a story about acceptance. With no scary scenes, it contains some complicated wording for beginner readers. Colorful, simplistic, illustrations cover all pages.

In this book, Lola is a one-of-a-kind animal – a belephant that is part bunny and part elephant. When she goes to school, no one accepts her, especially the elephants who call her names. Rejected, she meets Principal Howard and is told that no matter our differences, there is love in all of us and we should love ourselves for those differences. At school the next day when she is called an Absurdimal, she tells everyone she loves being a belephant. Other animals join in, wanting to be who they are. In the end, all the animals accept each other and who they are, even when a Dock and Frat enter the classroom.

~ Why ~
I like that this book promotes being who you are no matter if confronted by others. It portrays that a person does not have to be like everyone else but can have a unique identity, characteristic, or personality and still be accepted by others.

~ Why Not ~
While the story concentrates on someone being different in appearance, it does not mention those who feel undervalued on their commonality, timidness, or shyness, which can also be a challenge when someone wants to be loved or noticed. Beginner readers may struggle with some of the three-syllable words.

~ Wish ~
As a Christian, I wish the book mentioned that God loves each of us and has made us who we are for a special reason.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for a fun book about a belephant who wants to be accepted by others as a absurdimal, this may be a good choice.

Thanks to Westwind Book Marketing and the author for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

This book can be purchased at https://www.amazon.com/Absurdimals-Lola-School-Gwendolyn-Javor/dp/1981879609

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Filed under **** Good - Will Be Glad to Pass On to Others, Book Review, Childrens, Fiction