Category Archives: Fiction

Before We Were Yours

Before We Were Yours: A NovelTitle: Before We Were Yours
Author: Lisa Wingate
Publisher: Ballantine Books
ISBN: 978-0-425-28468-1

“Secrets ain’t a healthy thang, no matter how old they is. Sometimes the oldest secrets is the worst of all,” Avery is told in Lisa Wingate’s novel, Before We Were Yours.

~ What ~
At three-hundred-and-fifty-eight pages, this paperback targets those who enjoy historical fiction involving adoption, hidden pasts, and complicated family dynamics. Topics of child endangerment, abuse, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers.

In this story told in first person by two different people over seventy years apart, twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her younger siblings are violently uprooted in 1939 when their mother is rushed to the hospital to deliver a baby. Forced to live at the Tennessee Children’s Home, the sisters and brothers do all they can to stick together, but they each face one hardship and disappointment after another. Added in inserted current-day chapters, the engaged thirty-year-old Avery Stafford is drawn to a woman in a South Carolina nursing home who somehow has an old photograph of her aging grandmother. As Avery divulges into the past, she finds more than family secrets that change her and those around her.

~ Why ~
Learning about Georgia Tann and her adoption empire that included conning parents out of their children or taking them without permission for a profit, the book covers the heartbreak, loneliness, and fear from a child’s perspective and the siblings she deeply loves. I like how the chapters jumped from the past to present through two related women searching for hope.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like tragic tales related to orphans being physically, emotionally, and sexually abused may not want to read this one. Others may not relate to the existing political or societal norms of the South.

~ Who ~
A former journalist and speaker, Wingate is a national bestselling author who has won many writing awards.

~ Wish ~
With the ending being a little confusing, I wish there were more explanation that connected the siblings.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for a historical fiction about life as a child in the infamous Tennessee Children’s Home that was run by Georgia Tann, this story shows how family love conquers all.

Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Thanks to the author for this complimentary ARC book that I am freely reviewing.

GRAMMARLY was used to check for errors in this review.

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The Whispering of the Willows

The Whispering of the WillowsTitle: The Whispering of the Willows
Author: Tonya Jewel Blessing
Publisher: Capture Books
ISBN: 978-0-997162547

“Life in the Ashby family seemed especially hard. Where was God love? Auntie Ada told her once to look at the willows – cuz they even praised God,” Tonya Jewel Blessing writes in her novel, The Whispering of the Willows.

~ What ~
This three-hundred-and-ninety-six-page paperback targets those who enjoy historical Christian fiction involving family dynamics and romance. Using one noun that may be considered profanity and slang words, topics of physical and sexual abuse and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. While each chapter begins with an Appalachian folk belief, the ending has a list of the hymns and folksongs of the story’s era as well as eleven discussion questions.

In this tale set in the 1920s in the rural hills of West Virginia, the large Ashby family struggles often running a hog farm where parents are to be obeyed at all costs, marriages are arranged at young ages for monetary sake, and loyalty runs deep. When an act of violence happens to fourteen-year-old Emie, she has to deal with the life-changing circumstances by standing up, even if it means going against her parents’ wishes. With the help of her loving brother, a wise aunt, a dear friend, and others in the holler, many in her family learn about love versus hate, forgiveness over bitterness, and trusting in Jesus instead of oneself.

~ Why ~
This book forces the reader to consider that God is always with us, no matter the trials and tribulations we go through in life. As Emie deals with one heartbreak after another involving those she loves and herself, she yearns to trust Jesus although she cannot fathom why things keep happening that change her and those around her.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like books that have the eternal plan of salvation, learning to trust in Christ only, and old fashioned church hymns may not be interested in this book. Others may not want to read about the struggles of poverty, racism, hatred, and abuse.

~ Who ~
Having written a number of women’s devotionals, Blessing has traveled around the globe as a conference speaker, focusing on helping women. She and her husband currently live in South Africa. This is her first novel.

~ Wish ~
The ending was a little rushed and abrupt. I hope the author has a sequel to the book, explaining what happens next to all the interesting characters she has created.

~ Want ~
If you enjoy a novel that reiterates God is always by our side, you will not want to put down this tear-jerker that shows how one family picked up the pieces and found love after repeated disasters and tragedies.

Thanks to the Book Club Network for this complimentary book that I am reviewing freely.

GRAMMARLY was used to check for errors in this review.

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Sandpiper Cove

Sandpiper Cove: A Hope Harbor NovelTitle: Sandpiper Cove
Author: Irene Hannon
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-2768-0

“I told you earlier – here in Hope Habor, we take care of our own,” Lexie tries to convince Adam in Irene Hannon’s novel, Sandpiper Cove.

~ What ~
The final book in the Hope Harbor series, this three-hundred-fifty-two-page paperback targets those interested in a romance that challenges different backgrounds when living in a small town. With no profanity or sexual scenes, the topics of bullying may not be appropriate for immature readers. The ending includes an excerpt from a new book series, acknowledgments, author’s biography, and advertisements.

In this current-day story based in a fictional coastal town in Oregon, thirty-five-year-old widowed Lexie Graham lives with her mom and five-year-old son. As the city’s police chief, she has little time for romance until she meets an ex-con, Adam Stone. While she tries to uncover who has been vandalizing the resort area, she asks for Adam’s help in steering a lonely high schooler away from bad friendships.

With Adam trying ardently to change and forget his past, he wonders how a woman with Lexie’s class and status could be interested in an ex-con like him. Lexie, realizing she is stepping out of her comfort zone, must accept her guilt-ridden past to move on with relationships.

~ Why ~
If you have read the first two in the series, you will remember some of the eccentric and cherished characters who are weaved through this tale. I live in Oregon, and I like how the book’s scenery is well-depicted and the town is realistic.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like continuing stories of small town living and everyone knowing each other’s business may not care for this clean Christian romance. Those who do not believe in God may pass it up too.

~ Who ~
The bestselling author of over fifty novels, Hannon has received three RITA awards from Romance Writers of America and is a two-time Christy Award finalist. She and her husband live in Missouri.

~ Wish ~
The tale was predictable in both the romance and relationship departments, so it had little anticipation. I also wish all pronouns of God were capitalized for reverence.

~ Want ~
If you like a romance that focuses on moving from the past and forgiving oneself, this ending of the trilogy of small town living will be a good choice.

Thanks to Revell for furnishing this complimentary book to read and review.

This review will be posted on the Baker Publishing, DeeperShopping, and Amazon with links on Bookfun.org, LinkedIn, Godinterest, Pinterest, Google+, and Twitter.

GRAMMARLY was used to check for errors in this review.

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Treasured Grace

Treasured Grace (Heart of the Frontier)Title: Treasured Grace
Authors: Tracie Peterson
Publisher: BethanyHouse
ISBN: 978-0-7642-1327-4

“Try not to worry. I’m doing what I feel God has called me to do – help the sick,” Grace tells her sisters in Tracie Peterson’s novel, Treasured Grace.

~ What ~
The first in the Heart of the Frontier series, this three-hundred-twenty-page paperback targets those who like historical fiction with suspense and romance during the mid-nineteenth century in Oregon County. Its topics of illness, murder, rape, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. A note to the reader, the author’s biography, and advertisements for other authored books are included.

Set in 1847, widowed Grace Martindale and her two younger sisters have finally arrived in Oregon. With her husband recently deceased, the eldest who uses natural healing arts decides they should stay at the Whitman Mission to help a sibling and others recover from measles. When the Cayuse Indians start dying from the same disease, the doctor at the mission is blamed for their illnesses.

After Grace encounters trapper Alex Armistead, both are caught between a rock and a hard place in their relationship that waxes and wanes as they each face their past and pain. As the mission deals with the heightened anger and rage of the Cayuse, Grace and Alex want to protect those caught up in the fray before they can consider each other.

~ Why ~
Fictionalizing the history of the Whitman Mission and what happened to it, the book shows the frustration and fear both sides experienced when lives and land were involved. I enjoy the detail the author adds regarding herbal remedies such as vinegar and how hard life was starting anew out West. The plan of eternal salvation is thorough and understandable.

~ Why Not ~
Some may wish the book was not so romantically predictable. Others may not want to read about a historical massacre that involves rape, murder, and its aftermath.

~ Who ~
Award winning author of over one hundred novels, Peterson focuses on both historical and contemporary genre. She lives in Montana with her family.

~ Wish ~
Due to the book’s abrupt ending, many are left wondering what happens next to secondary individuals such as Grace’s sisters. I wish there were consistency in capitalizing all pronouns of God for reverence.

~ Want ~
If you like historical Christian fiction that examines the clash between Indians and settlers in the West while including a growing romance, this first book in the series may grab your attention.

Thanks to Bethany House for this complimentary book that I am freely reviewing.

GRAMMARLY was used to check for errors in this review.

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Without Warning

Without Warning: A J.B. Collins NovelTitle: Without Warning
Author: Joel C. Rosenberg
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
ISBN: 978-1-4964-0616-3

“I was doing everything I could to bring Abu Khalif to justice, to safeguard my family, to give us a chance at a life of freedom and security. But I was failing. I’d almost died — again,” J.B. Collins realizes in Joel C. Rosenberg’s novel, Without Warning.

~ What ~
At four-hundred-and-eighty pages, this hardbound targets those that enjoy Christian contemporary fictional suspense involving hunting down the leader of ISIS. Using words such as hell and damning, its topics of terrorism, chemical weapons, 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.

The final book in the J.B. Collins trilogy series, the protagonist finds himself at the U.S. Capitol for the State of the Union to be recognized for previously rescuing the president. When a series of bombs hit the building, J.B. makes it his quest to find and kill Abu Khalif, the ISIS emir. After several well-orchestrated attacks on America involving sarin gas, the New York cynical war correspondent becomes a target and joins the Israelis to out-smart the evil leader of the Islamic State. Only when J.B. is dealt a personal blow and gives his life to Christ does he understand sacrificing for freedom.

~ Why ~
Those who like action-packed current day war stories of terrorism in the Middle East involving several countries will appreciate this book. I enjoyed the short chapters written in first person that were to the point, showing Collins’s frustration and fear. The pace of the book shoots bullets of dire warnings, death threats, and chemical attacks while J.B. and the team ardently reflect their line of fire. The eternal plan of salvation is stated succinctly and with purpose.

~Why Not ~
Those who do not like graphic violence, chemical weapons, and death will avoid this series that explains how deeply ISIS and their leaders want control of the world for the coming caliphate. Some may not like the limited first person view, but I feel it accentuates the emotional and personal aspect of dealing with good versus evil.

~ Who ~
The best-selling author of a dozen fiction and five non-fiction books, Rosenberg has sold more than three million copies. Founder and chairman of the Joshua Fund, he and his family live in Israel.

~ Wish ~
Not expecting an abrupt ending in this read, I wish creative writing allowed a fourth in the series. I prefer all pronouns of God were capitalized for reverence.

~ Want ~
If you enjoy geopolitical “go get ‘em no matter what” stories of global terrorism in Christian fiction, this series will keep you rushing through the chapters to find out what happens to J.B.

Thanks to Tyndale House Publishers and the author for this book that I am freely reviewing.

GRAMMARLY was used to check for errors in this review.

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The Elusive Miss Ellison

Title: The Elusive Miss Ellison
Author: Carolyn Miller
Publisher: Kregel Publications
ISBN: 978-0-8254-4450-0

“It appears Miss Ellison is determined to remain elusive as ever,” Nicholas states in Carolyn Miller’s novel, The Elusive Miss Ellison.

~ What ~
Book one in the Regency Brides: A Legacy of Grace series, this three-hundred-and-four-page paperback targets those interested in a Christian romance involving a love/hate relationship between two individuals from different backgrounds and status. The book includes acknowledgments at the end.

Set in 1813 in Gloucestershire, England, twenty-three-year-old Lavinia Ellison’s focus in life being a minister’s daughter has been to help the poor. Preferring those who have good character and actions that prove it, she is not charmed when she meets Nicholas, the Earl of Hawkesbury. As he vies for her attention through teasing and toying with her affections, she becomes more boldly outspoken regarding her opinions and unwavering conscience toward the smug and annoying man. It is only when each learns how to forgive themselves and others of the past and release pride and pain, can they understand what they have in common.

~ Why ~
If you enjoy romantic tales from the eighteen-hundreds in England where propriety, manners, societal norms, and appearances are of utmost importance, this short story covers the gambit of life in England between a woman who does not realize she is in love and a man who refuses to accept it. I like the details of the country life and living in a small town and appreciate the author including the eternal plan of salvation.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not have or want a personable relationship with Jesus Christ may avoid this book. Some may not like a predictable read of two main characters who waffle back and forth in their romantic intentions, often showing indecisiveness.

~ Who ~
A fan of Jane Austen, Miller lives in Australia and is married with four children.

~ Wish ~
I wish Lavina’s background, upbringing, and heritage were not so predictable. Sometimes I had trouble understanding who was speaking.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for a series of romances in England two hundred years ago, this first book in the series of a love/hate relationship involving social status may peak your interest in what lies ahead in this Regency Brides series.

Thanks to the Book Club Network, Kregel Publications, and the author for this book that I am reviewing freely.

This review will be posted on the Book Club Network, DeeperShopping, and Amazon with links on Bookfun.org, LinkedIn, Godinterest, Pinterest, Google+, and Twitter.

GRAMMARLY was used to check for errors in this review.

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A Man Called Ove

A Man Called Ove: A NovelTitle: A Man Called Ove
Author: Fredrik Backman
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 978-1-4767-3802-4

“A time comes in every man’s life when he decides what sort of man he is going to be,” Fredrik Backman writes in his novel, A Man Called Ove.

~ What ~
This three-hundred-thirty-seven-page paperback targets those who like a pathetic but comical, satirical look at current day life in Europe. Often using profanity, topics of illness, suicide, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers.

Fifty-nine-year-old Ove has lost the love of his life six months ago and is at his wit’s end trying to end it all. Being a man with firm principles and endless loyalty, he believes rules are rules with no exceptions. Unable to trust men in white shirts, the internet, parking meters, espressos, or anyone that does not drive a Saab, he feels he is no longer needed. When a foreign pregnant woman moves in next door with her lame husband and two little girls, the man’s plans of killing himself are up-ended time and time again.

As Ove tries various ways to commit suicide, he precariously hangs on to life by being forced to save a man, drive to hospitals repeatedly, rescue a mangy cat, teach an awkward teen how to fix things, keep aggressive drivers out of their community, and reconnect with a friend who has lost his memory. Over time, he learns there is more to living after having so many losses in life.

~ Why ~
This is a quick and quirky read that many will enjoy as it touches a soft spot in hearts who question why go on in life when there is no hope. With comical opinions, events, and outcomes, the sad underlying tone shows a broken, hurting man who finds how to feel needed again while learning to love others, even if they do not own the same car as he does.

~ Why Not ~
Some may think the story is unbelievable and predictable or that the silliness of the characters’ conversations is sophomoric. Others who have a strong faith in God may question the repeated suicide attempt issue as if too flippant a topic.

~ Who ~
An award-winning author of three novels and a novella that have been published in more than thirty-five countries, Backman lives in Sweden with his wife and two children.

~ Wish ~
Realizing the book was written by a non-American, I was not accustomed to the punctuation placements that are different than our grammar rules (however, who am I to complain it took me longer to read the book due to them as I would not want to be perceived picky like Ove for my many fixations).

~ Want ~
If you like a strange book about a man no one liked or appreciated yet became understood once his tale unfolded, this may make you laugh and cry when it comes to losing a love and moving on in life.

I borrowed this book from a friend and have freely evaluated it.

This review will be posted on and Amazon with links on Bookfun.org, LinkedIn, Godinterest, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter.

GRAMMARLY was used to check for errors in this review.

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In the Shadow of the Denali

In the Shadow of Denali (The Heart of Alaska)Title: In the Shadow of Denali
Authors: Tracie Peterson and Kimberly Woodhouse
Publisher: BethanyHouse
ISBN: 978-0-7642-1923-8

“So you still blame my father for your father’s death?” Cassie asks in Tracie Peterson and Kimberly Woodhouse’s novel, In the Shadow of Denali.

~ What ~
First in the Heart of Alaska series, this three-hundred-twenty-page paperback targets those who like historical fiction with suspense and romance during the early twentieth century in Alaska. Using one slang word but containing no overtly sexual content, topics of murder and death may not be appropriate for immature readers.

Set in 1923 in Alaska when the President of the United States named Mount McKinley National Park, twenty-three-year-old Cassie Ivanoff loves working at the Curry Hotel as an assistant cook. Her father, a seasoned mountain guide, feels he was to blame for a death on his last climb of the Great One six years ago. The two are confused yet intrigued when Allan Brennan arrives in town as the father’s apprentice with ulterior motives to find out how and why his father died mountain climbing with his new boss. Only when the three learn how to forgive others and themselves, give their burdens to God, and have faith in Him, will they find hope, peace, and love.

~ Why ~
Having read a prior book of this duo team, I like their writing style as I can easily visualize the scenes. This one includes how forgiveness and faith are important when it involves business and romantic relationships. The description of historical events involving the town, railroad, and beautiful Denali scenery, as well as day to day living, are well documented.

~ Why Not ~
Some may not like the many food and meal recipes, but they do correlate to the era. Others may wish the book was not so romantically predictable. I found the timing of some scenes were rather unbelievable, especially when three people return to the area for different reasons.

~ Who ~
Award winning author of over one hundred novels, Peterson focuses on both historical and contemporary genre. Woodhouse is a multi-published author, speaker, teacher, and homeschooling parent.

~ Wish ~
With this being the first book in the series, I am anticipating what happens next in the series to secondary individuals such as the head cook and an orphaned teenager.

~ Want ~
If you like learning about Alaska and its impressive Mount McKinley, this quick read involves several characters who must rely on God when it comes to forgiveness, faith, and acceptance.

Thanks to Bethany House for this complimentary book that I am freely reviewing.

This review will be posted on Baker Publishing, DeeperShopping, and Amazon with links on Bookfun.org, LinkedIn, Godinterest, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

GRAMMARLY was used to check for errors in this review.

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The First Hostage

The First Hostage: A J. B. Collins NovelTitle: The First Hostage
Author: Joel C. Rosenberg
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
ISBN: 978-1-4964-0619-4

“The president was gone, and the only logical conclusion that could be drawn from the facts at hand was that he was now in the custody of the Islamic State,” J.B. Collins acknowledges in Joel C. Rosenberg’s novel, The First Hostage.

~ What ~
At four-hundred-and-forty-two pages, this paperback targets those that enjoy Christian fictional suspense involving ISIS kidnapping the president of the United States. Using words such as heck and damn, topics of child slavery, abuse, terrorism, murder, and war may not be acceptable for immature readers. The beginning includes a list of characters while the ending has the first chapter of the author’s next book.

Second in the J.B. Collins series and written in first person, New York Times foreign correspondent Collins is caught in the thick of the action when there is an attack on four world leaders meeting in Jordan at the Israeli-Palestinian peace summit. When the president of the United States is kidnapped and held for ransom by the Islamic State, the journalist is accused of espionage, murder, terrorism, and treason. While he survives when everyone else dies around him, he must clear his name without speculatively reporting and help find the president. With the aid of an Israeli spy who he has feelings for, he is also challenged regarding his belief in God.

~ Why ~
Those who like action-packed current day war stories of terrorism in the Middle East involving several countries will enjoy this book. The fast-paced story covers not only several countries in the hotbed of terrorism and ISIS but explains the complicated dynamics of world leaders and how they make their decisions. I liked the first person viewpoint of the protagonist and his creative thinking.

~Why Not ~
Those who do not like graphic violence, chemical weapons, and death will avoid this series. Some may not appreciate the aspect of one’s eternal salvation in believing in God. Others may find the ongoing onslaught that the main character endures unbelievable.

~ Who ~
The best-selling author of eleven fiction and five non-fiction books, Rosenberg has sold more than three million copies. Founder and chairman of the Joshua Fund, he lives in Israel with his family.

~ Wish ~
I wish all pronouns of God were capitalized for reverence.

~ Want ~
If you enjoy geopolitical “bang-bang-shoot-‘em-up” stories of war, terrorism, and a splash of romance in Christian fiction, this series will keep you interested until the last page and wonder what happens next in the journalist’s life.

Rated 4.5 of 5 Stars

Thanks to the Book Club Network, Tyndale House Publishers, and the author for this book that I am freely reviewing.

This review will be posted on the Book Club Network, DeeperShopping, and Amazon with links on Bookfun.org, Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

GRAMMARLY was used to check for errors in this review.

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God is Not Dead 2

God's Not Dead 2Title: God is Not Dead 2
Author: Travis Thrasher
Publisher: Pure Flix
ISBN: 978-1-4964-1361-1

“A teacher standing firm in her faith and a lawyer trying to step out in faith’s shadows. It’s an odd pairing,” Travis Thrasher writes in his novel, God is Not Dead 2.

~ What ~
At four-hundred-pages, this second in the series paperback targets those who enjoy Christian faith-based stories that include the American legal system. Using the New Living Translation and New American Standard Version of the Holy Bible, it is a story of one woman’s faith being tested when she speaks up, a cancer survivor’s wavering commitment, and a lawyer against God.

Based on the movie with this same title, “Teach of the Year” Grace Wesley answers a question she is asked during a high school history class about Jesus. As innocuous as it is, her reply forces her to jeopardize a job she loves and go to court for her actions.

The cutting, cynical, and sometimes funny Tom Endler is assigned as Grace’s lawyer, and he wants nothing to do with the aspect of trusting in God but appreciates the woman’s unashamed passion for her beliefs.

While the two try to make a case of the real meaning of faith, a blogger who has bashed Christianity in the past becomes circumspect regarding her life as an “in-between,” wondering if God is real.

As the legal battle begins in the courtroom, the three are forced to stand up or ignore what it means to believe in Jesus.

~ Why ~
While I did see the movie version of this book and was not impressed, I enjoyed the eclectic, smooth writing style of the author, especially the first person sarcastic viewpoint of the lawyer, the undecided, wavering blogger, and the teacher’s unfailing faith in Jesus.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not believe in God and have no faith in Him may not be interested in this book. Some may wish the movie mimicked the multi-layered relationship between the lawyer and his client more.

~ Who ~
The author of over twenty novels, Thrasher has collaborated with musicians, filmmakers, and pastors. He and his family live in Illinois.

~ Wish ~
There are some threads of the blogger and lawyer’s parents that were not answered but could be in a third book in the series. I wish all pronouns of God were capitalized for reverence.

~ Want ~
If you are questioning if you believe in God or would be one to stand up for Him, this read puts the topic of faith in Jesus in the forefront involving the separation of church and state. I found the book more engaging than the movie.

Thanks to the Book Club Network and author for this complimentary book that I am freely evaluating.

This review will be posted on the Book Club Network, DeeperShopping, and Amazon with links on Bookfun.org, Godinterest, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

GRAMMARLY was used to check for errors in this review.

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