The Cost of Betrayal


This book was a collection of three novellas, all by authors I love, so of course I was thrilled to get a chance to review it.  Dee Henderson is a veteran mystery/suspense writer, and she does it very well, with excellent character development.  I think that mostly comes from how much conversation she allows her characters to have.  I almost feel like I’m watching a movie rather than reading a book at times, as I imagine the characters dialoguing back and forth. 

In Dee Henderson’s novella “Betrayal,” Janelle Roberts is freed–thanks to people she doesn’t know–after serving six years of a twenty-year sentence for a murder she did not commit. But a murderer is still at large, and Janelle needs to be somewhere safe with someone she can trust. She may not survive another betrayal.

If you’re familiar with the works of Dee Henderson, you’ll be glad to continue to get to know characters Ann and Paul Falcon a bit better, but also get to know new characters like Janelle.  I’ve read several of Henderson’s books, and though the characters show up multiple times in different capacities throughout other books, I don’t think you’ll be lost if this is your first exposure to her writing.  I hope it won’t be your last, though!  I loved this story, and can’t imagine what it would be like to be Janelle Roberts, in prison for six years for a murder you didn’t commit, then being pardoned by people you’ve never met through bizarre happenstance circumstances.  It would be so overwhelming, and Henderson wrote that piece into Janelle’s character very well.  I hope to see this set of characters pop back in and out of future books!

In Dani Pettrey’s “Deadly Isle,” Tennyson Kent is trapped on the isolated island of her childhood by a storm surge, and she is shocked when the typically idyllic community turns into the hunting grounds of a murderer. Cut off from any help from the mainland, will she and first love Callen Frost be able to identify and stop a killer bent on betrayal before they become the next victims?

This wasn’t my first Dani Pettrey book either.  As I mentioned, I love all three authors.  This one, however, is more of a stand-alone than the other two.  These are characters I didn’t know, but still grew to love quickly.  Tenny and Callen are resilient and they’re fighters, and they had a LOT to fight for and through throughout this novella that kept me coming back for more and needing to know what happened next.  Pettrey is a master suspense writer — don’t start this book or this story at night if you need to get up early!  You won’t want to stop once you’ve started. 

I love the background details that Pettrey provides, even for secondary characters.  You really feel like you’re watching the story unfold this way, and especially when the story has as little time to develop as a novella usually does, this is a valuable skill in a writer’s toolbox.

In Lynette Eason’s “Code of Ethics,” trauma surgeon Ruthie St. John saves the life of Detective Isaac Martinez. After a betrayal leads to him getting shot and then attacked while in recovery, Isaac is now a key witness determined to testify. But someone is intent on silencing him–and those around him–forever. Together, Ruthie and Isaac go on the run, desperate to escape the killers hunting him.

(book blurbs copied from https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38502342-the-cost-of-betrayal)

On this one, having read other books with the St. John characters in them, I would recommend reading after reading some of Lynette Eason’s other books.  It likely could stand alone just fine, as Eason does an excellent job of filling in pertinent information as it’s relevant to the story line of her current book.  But you’ll know so much more about the secondary characters, who’ve all had bigger roles and even story lines of their own in other books. Other books in this series (Blue Justice) include Oath of Honor, Called to Protect, and Code of Valor (which releases January 2019).

I really enjoyed this look into the life of Ruthie St. John, as well as the reappearance of several other St. John characters.  Not that I was surprised, but this was yet another story in a collection that kept me thirsting to know how everything was going to wrap itself together.  Was everything going to work out?  Would there be tragedy?  Heart break?  Was everyone going to make it?  Eason’s tagline on her own website (https://lynetteeason.com/) is “Infinite Suspense” and I’ve yet to read a book of hers that didn’t deliver on that promise.  For other great Lynette Eason finds, check out the Elite Guardians series.

Overall, I enjoyed this collection very much.  It’s a quick read, especially since you can’t possibly get bored of plots or characters when the stories move so quickly and only last for a third of the book.  My only negative, and it’s barely even one at that, is that novellas, by very nature of what they are (short novels), wrap up too quickly.  You just start to feel like the story is in full swing, and you’re at the height of conflict and suspense, and it all comes crashing to an end and wraps things up.  It sure leaves you thirsting for more in that series and from that author though, so I’d call it a sound marketing strategy 馃槈

Book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Advertisements

A Secret to Die For


Sometimes it’s impossible to tell the difference between truth and paranoia.


Psychologist Grace Callahan has no idea that she has a secret–one worth killing for. But when she finds out one of her clients has been murdered, she quickly realizes that the computer security specialist wasn’t simply suffering from paranoia.


Detective Nate Quinn has just been cleared for active duty after a bombing killed eighteen people, including his partner, and left him dealing with PTSD. His first case back on the job involves the murder of Stephen Shaw, and his only lead turns out to be an old friend, Grace Callahan–and her life is in grave danger. Someone believes Shaw gave his psychologist information before he died. Information they are willing to kill for.


With her signature pulse-pounding suspense, Lisa Harris takes readers deep into the heart of fear in this race against the clock.

http://www.lisaharriswrites.com/books/a-secret-to-die-for/

Please allow me to start this review by confessing that I am not a paranoid person.  Anxious?  Fairly.  Paranoid?  Nope.  But this book is so well written that it spun me into the “what ifs” and the “could that really happens” that I’m sure were precisely the author’s intent.

This isn’t the first book I’ve read by Lisa Harris.  She’s a brilliant writer, and I’ll keep coming back for more, without a doubt, but I feel like I should warn you that this may not be a book you want to read laying in bed.  It will keep you up.  Both because you’ll need to know what happens next, but also because you’ll be afraid of what life could look like if the things in Lisa’s book really did come true.  It all felt a little too possible and a little too real.  It swallowed me right in.

As usual, Harris’s books move at a rapid-fire pace, with the opening scene full of suspense and not really letting up until the end.  That said, if I had to find a fault with this book, the only thing I think I would offer is that it does wrap up quickly.  One moment, you’ll find yourself wondering how this can ever be resolved, and then a few pages later it will be.  It’ll be done, finished, and concluded, and your head will shake a bit and you’ll go “oh!” and then have a book hangover. 

All this to say, I highly recommend “A Secret to Die For,” and if you’ve read it, I invite you to recommend it in the comments as well.  A big thanks goes out to Lisa Harris for continuing to write edge of your seat scenes with characters you can both relate to and care deeply about, right from the onset of a story.

Book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

It’s Okay Not to be Okay


This book hit me kind of hard.聽 There were many, many nuggets of wisdom throughout.聽 Written by Sheila Walsh, this is an author who can drive very important points home in a way that sinks in, but does so without alienating the reader and making you feel judged or condemned.

Taglined “Moving forward one day at a time” this book was full of wisdom and tips to lean into our hard parts in life and really embrace who we are in God.

We’ve all experienced that moment where we wish we could start all over again. Failed marriages, lost friends, addictions, lost jobs. This is not the life we imagined. Yesterday can sometimes leave us stuck, sad, shamed, scared, and searching. Sheila Walsh encourages readers to face the pain head on and then start again, from right where they are. She shares that when she discovered “I’m not good enough and I’m good with that,” everything started to change.

In It’s Okay Not to Be Okay, Walsh helps women overcome the same old rut of struggles and pain by changing the way they think about God, themselves, and their everyday lives. She shares practical, doable, daily strategies that will help women move forward one step at a time knowing God will never let them down.

There are many quotable parts of this book, and I wish I could share them all with you, but that wouldn’t be fair to Sheila Walsh because she’d have written a book that no one who read my review will buy, haha.

 

But here are a few:

“Think about it for a moment. How many times do you feel like you’re not enough?聽 It makes me wonder were we got the idea of what “enough” is.” (p. 22)

“It’s okay not to be okay because we’re not home yet.
It’s okay not to be enough because God doesn’t ask us to be.” (p. 24 — whoa…. this is a point that was hammered home throughout the book and it has the potential to be SO freeing!)

“It might feel more ‘Christian’ not to bring our anger, pain, or disappointment to God, but I believe it’s actually the antithesis of a real relationship with Christ.聽 We become a little less authentic with every experience we bury.” (p. 40)

“We’re not perfect, but we are redeemed, so give yourself a break.” (p. 70)

 

I won’t quote any more, because most of the profound wisdom I have underlined and have drawn arrows to in the book are more powerful when kept in context of the stories Walsh uses to illustrate her points.

Filled with scriptures, this book will settle into your hurt places, and, if you let it, it might convince you to open yourself up to the idea that it’s ok not to be ok, and we were never meant to be enough.

I encourage you to check this book out.聽 It wiggled its way right into the core of me and whispered soft, comforting words to a heart that needed to hear them.

(As an aside, I read this book a little differently than I’ve read others.聽 I have a long commute and a subscription to unlimited audio books, so I listened to it while driving, but then to really sink in the points, every day when I got home I read through the chapters I’d listened to that day and underlined everything that stuck out.聽 So essentially, I read the book twice.聽 I actually really enjoyed doing it this way because listening to Sheila read this book was like having a deep conversation with a good friend.聽 Plus, her Scottish accent is great fun to listen to!)

81mlLUj376L

Book was provided courtesy of Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. and Baker Publishing Group.

Little Women (2018)


Confession:聽 I’ve never seen nor read any previous version of Little Women.聽 Please don’t tar and feather me.聽 I apologize profusely on behalf of my lack of culture.

That said, I was given a chance to review this current version of Little Women, a modern retelling based on the classic book by Louisa May Alcott.聽 Apparently this year is the 150th anniversary of the original book, so of course it was time for a modern re-imagining of this story.

I was hesitant, because often modernization ruins a story.聽 But then I shook my head and realized that I haven’t seen or read the original story, so I’m a blank slate and can objectively review this movie on its own merits and not hold it to a standard set 150 years ago, haha.

At any rate, this movie was beautiful.聽 I’ve been accused a few times in my life of having a heart of stone and no romantic bones in my body (thanks Sharon, if you’re reading this lol!) because I don’t cry at sappy movies and stories don’t usually work me up.聽 This one got through the walls, though, and it hooked me all the way in and you’d better believe I cried.聽 And if you’re familiar with the story (like everyone but me seems to be), you’ll know exactly the couple of spots that got me.聽 What a beautiful story of family and sisters and dreams, and what you can accomplish when you stay true to yourself and your hopes.

This is a great modern twist on an old classic, and I hope that those of you who are purists and want your classics left well enough alone will be gracious and give it a chance.

Check out the trailer:

I invite you to watch it, and please do reach out and tell me what you thought!聽 I’ll have to watch an older version (I hear the Winona Ryder one is good?) or read the book to compare, but I did really like this version.聽 I thought it was well written and well acted, even though sometimes I find Lea Thompson can be overly sweet.聽 She did a great job with this role.

Unfortunately I seem to have missed it being in theatres 馃槮 and I’m really sorry my review wasn’t out soon enough for that to happen, but hopefully when it comes out on video you’ll get a chance to sit down with some girlfriends and have a good cry.聽 Or better yet, watch it with your sisters (if you have them).

Thanks to Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. and Faith Films for providing me with an advanced screening link.

 

The Lady of Tarpon Springs


Judith Miller is an excellent writer.聽 This is my first of her books, but I’ll be glad to read another in the future if this was any indication.

Set in 1905 Florida, Zanna Krykos works as a lawyer — almost unheard of for a woman at such a time, but even more so for a woman in a traditional Greek family (who naturally pressures her to find a husband).聽 A friend of hers inherits a sponging business, and Zanna agrees to run it for her, despite not feeling entirely qualified to do so.

In doing so, she meets Nico Kalos, a Greek Diver given the opportunity to lead a sponging crew in the US.聽 Imagine his surprise when he arrives in Florida only to find a woman running the business — at a time when men still believed a woman’s mere presence on a ship would doom them and would likely get them killed.

This book showcases a strong female personality, which I love (especially in historical fiction when it wouldn’t have been popular), and a playful, charming male character who you can’t help but love.

Filled with not only witty banter between the two main characters, but also some suspense and fear for the lives on the crew at a couple points, this story weaves together to keep you coming back for more.

The research that must have gone into this book blew my mind a little bit.聽 I knew very little about sea sponges.聽 In fact, I only really knew that they existed.聽 I had no idea what it takes to harvest them, nor how much more intense that process would have been a century ago.聽 So not only was I entertained by a great story, but I also learned a lot and it prompted me to hit up Google and learn some more.聽 What a crazy experience it would have been to work on a sponging boat in the Gulf of Mexico.

If you’d like to purchase this book on Amazon.ca you can do so here, or head over to wherever you tend to find books to check it out.

the lady of tarpon springs

Book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

River to Redemption


Ann H. Gabhart is a masterful writer.聽 I knew this about her, but I didn’t expect this book.聽 It was wonderful.

Orphaned in the cholera epidemic of 1833, Adria Starr was cared for by a slave named Louis, a man who stayed in Springfield, Kentucky, when anyone with means had fled. A man who passed up the opportunity to escape his bondage and instead tended to the sick and buried the dead. A man who, twelve years later, is being sold by his owners despite his heroic actions. Now nineteen, Adria has never forgotten what Louis did for her. She’s determined to find a way to buy Louis’s freedom. But in 1840s Kentucky, she’ll face an uphill battle.

Based partly on a true story, Ann H. Gabhart’s latest historical novel is a tour de force. The vividly rendered town of Springfield and its citizens immerse readers in a story of courage, betrayal, and honor that will stick with them long after they turn the last page.

I’ve always loved American Civil War era stories, and so to find out that not only was this book set in the years leading up to the war, but that it was based on a true story, I was even more in love.

In some ways it made me a little bit furious, as it always does, to read stories of a time when people could be bought.聽 It just baffles me that this was acceptable practice at any time, and then it hits me that it still happens, but that’s a post for another day and time.

This story about young Adria Starr growing into a strong, fiercely independent woman who will fight for what she knows to be right deep down in her soul is refreshing.聽 Along with historical fiction, I also love stories about strong women, especially in time periods where being strong, outspoken, and an advocate was not only not encouraged but actually discouraged, frowned upon, and called out.聽 Adria Starr did indeed have an uphill battle in her quest to set Louis free, but she had to try to do what she knew to be the right thing.

This story will warm your heart.聽 It’s a wonderful read from beginning to end, and I highly recommend it.聽 I’ve known Ann H. Gabhart to be skilled at character development, and this story is certainly no exception.聽 You’ll fall in love with these characters (where you should) and be apprehensive about the others instantly.

To grab a copy of this book on Amazon.ca, click here!聽 Or head to your favourite book retailer to check this out.

river

 

Book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

The Best of Intentions


Canadian Crossings.聽 Ahh, finally, a book about Canada!聽 There’ve been a few that I’ve come across, but most stories are set in the US.聽 It was really neat to read a story about Toronto, even if it was a different Toronto than what I’m used to, being set post-WW1.

But I digress.

This story took unexpected twists and turns at every corner.聽 Just when I thought I had it all figured out, I’d predict what would happen next, and that wasn’t the case.聽 I like that in a book.聽 I also liked this book more than I expected I’d like a straight romance story.聽 I think there was enough else in it that it was a delight.

Grace Abernathy crosses the Atlantic on a journey the description of which makes me incredibly thankful for commercial air travel.聽 She goes to convince her widowed sister to come home with her, but when she gets there she finds her nephew is living with his paternal family — the Easton family — and trouble ensues.聽 Grace becomes Christian’s nanny and moves into the Easton home using a different name.聽 She needs to know if they can be good providers, not just financially, but relationally, for her nephew.聽 Of course she starts to fall hard for her nephew’s guardian, Andrew Easton, but he’s not available to her.聽 Whatever will Grace do?

This is a well-crafted story about overcoming in the face of tragedy, and about doing all we can for our families.聽 I enjoyed it very much.聽 Susan Anne Mason has a wonderful writing style, and I very much appreciated that I couldn’t necessarily see every plot point coming.聽 I enjoyed that while this is listed as historical fiction, the romance aspect wasn’t the only focus and that there was a beautiful story line woven in as the focus of the story.聽 I will definitely be back for more of Susan Anne Mason’s books!

If you’d like to pick the book up, head on over to Amazon.ca or your favourite book retailer to grab a copy.

best

Book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond


I was not ready for how this book sucked me in.聽 It pulled me in right from the very start.聽 This was my first Jaime Jo Wright book, though I was informed when I started to read this one that I’d NEED to read The House on Foster Hill when I finished it.聽 Well, all those who said it, you weren’t wrong.聽 I’ll need more Jaime Jo Wright in my life for as long as she keeps writing books if they’re anywhere close to being as captivating as this one was!

Set in both 1907 and a century later, Wright masterfully blends historical and contemporary fiction to weave the tale of the town of Gossamer Grove and all its secrets.聽 You’ll be desperate to keep reading to learn more pieces of the puzzle.聽 Just as you get another piece, you’ll need more answers and you’ll flip centuries again to learn some more.聽 I was captivated right from the start, and I don’t think I could’ve stopped even if I’d had to.聽 I’d have found a way to get to the end of this book.

Annalise Forsythe and Libby Sheffield, along with other people in the town of Gossamer Grove, both presently and a century earlier, are connected in ways they never could have imagined.聽 But even though they can’t talk to each other because of the years between them (and because presumably, everyone from a century earlier was no longer around…), they must work to put the pieces of the puzzle of Gossamer Grove together.聽 It’s fascinating.

I haven’t read many Time Slip books, where the author jumps back and forth between characters set in different time periods.聽 This was by far the best one I have read though, and I highly recommend it.聽 I was worried I’d get lost in the flips, as has happened before, but that was not the case at all.聽 Jaime Jo Wright is an incredible writer.

reckning

Image Source

Check out the book here on Amazon.ca.

Book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Battle Ready


Train your mind to conquer challenges, defeat doubt, and live victoriously.

That’s the tagline for this book by Kelly Balarie.

I loved reading this book.聽 It’s so practical and gives a wonderful toolbox to help when your mind gets crowded with doubt and fear.

Too often we fail to prepare for our battles. So when challenges, troubles, or opportunities arise, we rapidly become burdened with limiting thoughts of self-doubt, fear, impossibility, and lack. But it doesn’t have to be this way. We can train our minds to conquer uncertainty, beat insecurity, and step past the tragedies of yesterday.

Battle Ready is a hands-on scriptural plan that teaches you twelve easy-to-implement, confidence-building mind-sets designed to transform your thoughts and, therefore, your life. You’ll gain practical wisdom, like how to

路 make new habits stick in just five steps
路 disarm the seven most common attacks that plague women
路 exchange self-limiting聽thoughts for purpose-driven, love-releasing thoughts
路 implement thirty-second mind-lifters that deliver peace
路 create boundaries so you live life full of what matters

You can live victoriously.

And when a couple of authors that I’ll read again and again have good things to say about a book printed right on the back cover, you know it’s one you need to pick up.

“The most difficult fights we will face in this life will be within our own hearts and minds. Battle Ready will help encourage, empower, and equip you to live in true victory.”–Holley Gerth, bestselling author of Fiercehearted

“The best time to be strengthened against the Enemy’s tactics of doubt, disappointment, and devastation is before he makes his first move toward us. We all desperately need the biblical guidance and preparation found in Battle Ready!”–Lysa TerKeurst, New York Times bestselling author and president of Proverbs 31 Ministries

What I loved most about this book was its practicality.聽 It’s not just a bunch of words aimed at you, telling you what to do.聽 It’s a guide that walks you through questions, plans, and reflections to help you decide how you’re going to reorient your mind.聽 Balarie compares our minds to a Smart Phone, talking about how we can use it to its full potential or we can let it use us, essentially.聽 What’s surprising about this book, though, is that although it’s powerful and deep, it’s a well-written and accessible approach to becoming battle ready.聽 Usually, books that tackle these heavy topics are as equally heavy as their topic, but that is not so with this book.聽 Kelly Balarie manages to pack powerful, practical, important advice and learning into a light, easy read, and I really appreciate that.

I highly encourage this book.聽 And I highly encourage you to take the time to really reflect on what you’re learning and to fill in the various places Kelly gives you to write, or think, or stop to pray.聽 Doing the work will help solidify the principles you’ll learn as you read.聽 There are also questions for group discussion at the end of each chapter so that if you’re like me, and you’re tempted to gather a few friends to read through this together and really dig in, the work is done for you without having to buy a separate study guide.聽 I really appreciate that, as well.

Another thing I loved was the idea of sowing and reaping.聽 I’ve never thought of this concept in quite such a way as the way Kelly lays it out in this book.聽 The thoughts we sow reap varying outcomes.聽 We can train our thoughts, and therefore we can impact the outcomes of our thoughts.聽 Isn’t this a cool idea?聽 We can be freer from our inner critics and our comparisons and judgments of ourselves and others.

I particularly enjoyed the way this was framed.聽 This isn’t a “must-do” step-by-step process, but rather we’re offered 12 “Warrior Mindsets” to help shift the way we think so that we’re ready for anything.聽 I love the idea of being a warrior in the fight against the enemy that can and does wiggle into my brain.聽 I’m very thankful for this book.

Also check out www.iambattleready.com for even more resources to accompany this book!

Check it out here, on Amazon.ca.

battle ready

Book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Fake Or Follower: Refusing to Settle for a Shallow Faith


I was asked to be a part of the Canadian Launch Team for this book, Fake or Follower, by Andi Andrew.聽 The description of the book sounded like exactly what’s been on my heart for my own walk with Jesus in the last little while.聽 Discipleship.聽 My church has been placing a pretty big focus on it as well — how do we walk with Jesus?聽 And so it’s been settling into some long-ignored places, and I like it.聽 Naturally then, when the chance to help get this book off its feet came into my inbox, I jumped at it.

There was a lot that I really liked about this book.聽 And I think it’s safe to say that anything I didn’t like was a reaction to my being deeply convicted about the words that Andi Andrew laid out on the pages.

Through this book you’ll walk through thoughts on being consumer Christians, on church hopping, on living as part of the culture around us in a way that no one would recognize that we’re different except for the occasional Sunday morning appearance inside a church.聽 You’ll read about community — how essential it is to a healthy Christian life, what that looks like, and what it doesn’t.聽 Learn and dig into where your identity is based.聽 Do you reflect Jesus?聽 This section was very challenging for me.

We love because we were loved first.聽 And love is more than a feeling.聽 I’m sure we’ve all heard this before, but it sunk in for me in a bit of a different way this time around.聽 What I really liked about this chapter though was the reminder that love raises the standard by which we live our lives.聽 Being loved doesn’t mean I have license to sin because I have grace.聽 This is by far the biggest argument against grace I hear from people struggling to wrap their heads and hearts and minds around the grace and goodness of God and Jesus.聽 “But doesn’t that mean you can just do what you want?”聽 No, because I’m loved in a way that makes that makes me not want to go back to what I’ve been saved from.聽 Andi Andrew has just given me words for an age-old question.

I was both challenged and encouraged by this book, often at exactly the same time.聽 Andrew uses humour and straight to the punch truth to get her point across in a way that I could really appreciate.聽 I highly recommend this book.聽 I also recommend that you take the time to dig into the reflection questions at the end of each chapter.聽 I’m often of the mindset that I want to “finish the book as quickly as I can,” usually because I’m pushing a review deadline, but you’ll learn about yourself as you dig into the questions.

I’m glad to know who Andi Andrew is now, and I’m thrilled to have been a part of this launch team.聽 The book came out October 2nd, so you can now buy it in lots of places that books are sold!聽 My preference is, of course, Amazon, but check your favourite book retailer to get your own copy.

 

Screen Shot 2018-10-08 at 8.06.32 PM

 

Book was provided courtesy of Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. and Baker Publishing Group.