Welcome to my reviews page.
Most of the books I review, I have received from the author/publisher for that purpose. The reviews are my honest opinion.
You might find it odd that I have mostly four and five star books listed. That’s because I prefer not to post about books which I found worthy of less–for two reasons: I don’t want to discourage the writer, and my tastes will differ from those of others.
As this page will be in constant flux, please bear with me. I plan to have links to all of the books still available at Amazon, but it is a work in progress.
Experience six of the world’s most beloved stories in a whole new light! From historical to futuristic, these retellings will take you to an enchanted forest, a cursed castle, and far beyond. Uncover secrets of a forbidden basement, a hypnotic gift, and a mysterious doll. Fall in love with a lifelong friend or brand-new crush. Venture to unknown lands on a quest to save a prince, a kingdom, or maybe even a planet. With moments of humor, suspense, romance, and adventure, Encircled has something to offer every fan of fairy tales, both classic and reimagined.
This anthology features stories from S.E. Clancy, Jebraun Clifford, J.M. Hackman, E.J. Kitchens, Laurie Lucking, and Tori V. Rainn.
Review: Each of these stories enchanted me in different ways. Though I had never heard/read some of the original fairy tales, that didn’t stop me from enjoying them just the same.
Rating: 4 roses
Graduate student Maddie Clare is never talking to her ex-boyfriend Joze Evans or God again. Still broken from Joze’s betrayal, Mattie has to go home for her Aunt Lonna’s funeral. But after a run-in with a stalker who insists Maddie knows the secret that had Aunt Lonna investigating him, Mattie is afraid for her life and must accept Joze’s protection.
As the stalker draws closer, Maddie and Joze have to face the past and a love that never died. Maddie sees she needs God’s help to end her fears and to get through the new danger.
Can Maddie stay out of the stalker’s grip long enough to figure out who he is and what secret he possesses? And how will Joze keep Mattie from being buried with the stalker’s true identity?
Review: I enjoyed this story a great deal. Mystery. Intrigue. Romance. A hunky EMT. What’s not to like. Ms. Unger did an excellent job, and while I’m awful at figuring out who-dunnit, this one had me stumped. I look forward to more stories by this author.
Rating: 5 roses
Their True Home by Amy Clipston
When Marlene Bawell moved from Bird-in-Hand ten years ago, she was in the deepest of mourning for her mother. Now her family has moved back so her father can seek employment after being laid off. To help save money, Marlene works at the hardware store owned by Rudy Swarey’s father. She knew Rudy growing up and had a secret crush on him, though he never seemed to notice her. But just as a friendship between them begins to blossom, her life is once again turned upside down. Will Marlene ever have a chance to find her own true home?
A Reunion of Hearts by Beth Wiseman
Ruth and Gideon Beiler experienced one of life’s most tragic events. Unable to get past their grief, the couple abandoned their Amish faith and went in different directions, though neither could bear to formally dissolve the marriage. When their loved ones reach out to them to come home for a family reunion, Ruth has reason to believe that Gideon won’t be there. Gideon also thinks that Ruth has declined the invitation. Family and friends are rooting for them to reunite, but will it all be enough for Ruth and Gideon to get past their grief and recapture a time when they were in love and had a bright future ahead of them?
A Chance to Remember by Kathleen Fuller
Cevilla Schlabach, Birch Creek’s resident octogenarian matchmaker, is surprised when Richard, a man from her Englisch past, arrives in Birch Creek for a visit. While he and Cevilla take several walks down memory lane, they wonder what the future holds for them at this stage of life—friendship, or the possibility of something else?
Mended Hearts by Kelly Irvin
At eighteen Hannah Kauffman made a terrible mistake. Her parents and members of her Jamesport Amish community say they’ve forgiven her. But she feels their eyes following her everywhere she goes with eighteen-month-old Evie. Thaddeus, Evie’s father, escaped this fate by running away from Jamesport. Now that Thaddeus is gone, Hannah’s old friend Phillip is stepping up to be by her side. He has waited patiently for Hannah to realize just how much he cares for her. But when Thaddeus returns after two years, Hannah can’t deny the love she feels for him. Does the fact that Phillip has waited patiently for her all this time mean that she owes him something? Can she trust either one of them? Can she trust herself? She has repented and been forgiven by the One who is most important—her heavenly Father. But is she willing to risk making more mistakes by opening herself up to love?
Review: When I started this book, I didn’t realize it was four in one. What a boon. I’m not a regular reader of three of the four authors, but I enjoyed all four novellas. I don’t know if they were continued from a series for each writer or not, but I was not lost in any of the stories. Each one stood alone and I didn’t have to guess what was going on. Loved each of them.
Rating: 5 roses
From bestselling author Kelly Irvin comes the fourth and final book in the compelling Every Amish Season series.
Will the long, cold winter prove to be Laura and Zechariah’s season of renewed purpose and love sweetened with age?
Laura Kauffman has been a widow for eight years–since her husband of forty-five years passed away in his sleep on Christmas Eve. She tries to keep herself busy with her nine children, fifty-two grandchildren, and twenty-eight great-grandchildren. But she can’t stop wondering: What does God expect her to do with her days now? Has her usefulness been expended? Why leave her to carry on alone? Those are questions she can’t answer until a friend suffers complications during childbirth and needs someone to help care for her newborn twins and three older children. The twins’ great-grandfather, Zechariah Stutzman, a widower himself, seems to need some upkeep as well. Suddenly, Laura has her hands full, and the long winter days don’t seem so long.
Zechariah suffers from Parkinson’s disease. When his wife died of breast cancer two years earlier, his children insisted he live with one of his grandsons and their growing family because of his disease’s progression. He’s not allowed to drive, chop wood, or build fires. He feels he has outlived his usefulness. Then Laura comes along and seems determined to change that.
Both Laura and Zechariah must seek God’s will to find the purpose for this season in their lives. They have to be willing to trust and to accept that second chances for romantic love are possible–even probable–when they give control of their lives to God.
Review: Another wonderful series ending. *sigh*
Ms. Irvin did an excellent job of writing love stories about older couples in this series, and With Winter’s First Frost, she did so again. It took me a bit to get into this story, but once I was there, I was hooked. I hope she’ll head back into the Jamesport community and tell us the stories of Laura and Zechariah’s great grandchildren. 😉 This story is full of struggle, faith, love, and community. I wish the “English” had community like the Amish, or at least how I imagine it to be from the books.
Rating: 5 roses
Working her first case as deputy sheriff with her ex-boyfriend, Detective Cord Goodwin, Kendall McKade is determined to track the kidnappers–even if it makes her a target. Desperate to find the abducted victim, his aunt, Cord must keep Kendall safe…while also caring for his recently orphaned nephew. Teaming up threatens to rekindle Cord and Kendall’s relationship, but first they must solve a life-threatening mystery.
Review: Another slam dunk by Susan Sleeman. Kendall wanted to prove herself, but then Cord walked in. LOL I will miss the McKade family. Each book to this point has been awesome. Taken in Texas didn’t disappoint, other than it being the last. I never wanted it to end.
Rating: 5 roses
Each day could be her last…but not if he can help it.
Tara Parrish is the only person ever to survive an attack by the Lone Wolf bomber. Scared and emotionally scarred by her near death, she goes into hiding with only one plan–to stay alive for another day. She knows he’s coming after her, and if he finds her, he will finish what he started.
Agent Cal Riggins has had only one goal for the past six months–to save lives by ending the Lone Wolf’s bombing spree. To succeed, he needs the help of Tara Parrish, the one person who can lead them to the bomber. Cal puts his all into finding Tara, but once he locates her, he realizes if he can find her, the Lone Wolf can, too. He must protect Tara at all costs, and they’ll both need to resist the mutual attraction growing between them to focus on hunting down the bomber, because one wrong move could be fatal.
Review: As always, Susan writes an excellent story. Lots of suspense and danger, hints of attraction, and a wonderful happily-ever-after. Twists and turns kept me reading long past my bedtime and anticipating the moment when I could pick up the book again.
Rating: 5 roses
First, computer specialist Laney Ryan’s accused of kidnapping her neighbor’s daughter—and now someone’s trying to kill her. The police don’t believe Laney’s story…except for Detective Mark James, whose instincts say Laney isn’t guilty. Together, Mark and Laney must figure out who really abducted the teen and uncover why they’re framing Laney. But when their search for the truth turns deadly, Mark realizes his feelings for Laney aren’t strictly professional and that he’ll stop at nothing to keep her safe. With a dangerous suspect swiftly closing in, can they find the missing girl and clear Laney’s name…before their possible future together is fatally cut short?
Review: I love Christy Barritt books. And this one is no different. Laney’s life turns upside down, and she reacts the way most of us would–for a minute, and then she pull up her big-girl pants and fights back. Thankfully, she has someone on her side. They figure it out, but a few twists and turns in the middle, and a touch of attraction, took hold of me and wouldn’t let go until I finished the story.
This is, of course, another novel ending with a happily-ever-after, ‘cuz if it’s romance, I want happy in the end stories.
Rating: 5 roses
In the wake of a recent wave of violence, TEMCO employees are left reeling. While some of the staff are put into hiding, others are left behind to discover the true identity of the mysterious nemesis who is determined to destroy them all. While Crystal, Marc, and Zeke search for clues to unravel the mystery of his real name, their enemy is lurking in the shadows searching for TEMCO’s missing leaders. It’s a race against the clock! And as the hours and seconds tick away, it’s anyone’s guess whose search will be completed first. It’s a classic battle of good versus evil, and the stakes couldn’t be higher!
Review: This is a new author for me. I enjoyed the story a great deal, but because it is part of a series, I was often confused as to the dynamics of character relationships (of which there are many). And while it ends with a satisfying discovery, it was NOT the end of the story, which sort of bummed me out.
It took me several chapters to get into the story, probably because of jumping in mid-stream of the series. I highly recommend getting the first two books before trying to delve into this one.
If you like sci-fi/fantasy/time travel stories, I do recommend this series (though I’ve only read the one book). It is clean and well-written.
Rating: 4 roses
About the book: From a USA Today bestselling author!
Like a butterfly on a summer breeze, love rarely lands where it’s expected.
Working for her dad’s landscaping business stifles Linnea Ranta. When she’s invited to design and build a community garden with an intriguing master carpenter, she seizes the chance to unfurl her wings, but at what expense to her heart?
Logan Dermott eases back his flirting when he senses Linnea’s fragility, but she has more backbone than he suspected. As they work together, Logan finds he’s falling for her, but it may be too late to win her love.
Will Linnea break free of her chrysalis and fly away before Logan realizes what he almost had?
My review: Clean romance–no foul language, no sex scenes
I thought I’d read this when it first came out, but then realized it had gotten lost in a mess of other books.
I’ve followed the Farm Fresh Romance series, and naturally wanted to keep up with the side characters.
I loved the comparison between Linnea and butterflies. I think we’re all like that in some respect. Wanting to break from the mold someone has put us in and be our own person–to be the person God created us to be.
My rating: 5 roses
About the book: Mercy Brennan followed in her father’s footsteps in a law enforcement career, but she has no interest in any other connection to him. A U.S. Marshal in St. Louis, Missouri, she’s assigned to a joint task force with the St. Louis PD that puts her back into contact with her father and in the sights of St. Louis’s most powerful gang.
When the gang has reason to believe Mercy has possession of some highly sensitive and incriminating information, her boss assigns Mark St. Laurent–a Deputy U.S. Marshal and Mercy’s ex-boyfriend–to get her out of town until they can guarantee her safety.
Initially unaware of the danger she’s in and uncomfortable working with Mark, Mercy’s frustration escalates when she discovers the extent her boss and Mark have been keeping her in the dark. It isn’t until a freak ice storm hits, stranding them at a remote location and out of contact with the district office, that the full severity of their situation becomes clear. As the storm worsens, the forces of nature combine with a deadly enemy closing in to put their lives at imminent risk. Can they survive long enough for help to arrive–if help is even coming at all?
My Review: I loved the story; however, it is advertised as a romantic suspense, and the romance is a little on the light side. There is romantic history between Mark and Mercy, and we get hints of their feelings regularly, but the romance is lacking. The suspense, on the other hand, is strong. It was this part of the book that kept me reading. I look forward to the next installment in this series.
Rating: 4 roses
About the book: WITNESS IN JEOPARDY
It’s a typical day at Rachael Long’s day-care center—until a masked gunman tries to abduct one of the children in her charge. First response commander Jake Marsh manages to diffuse the situation before anyone is harmed…but not before Rachael unmasks the would-be kidnapper. Now Jake must lead a manhunt and protect Rachael from the criminal who’s turned his focus on her. But the case is reawakening painful memories for Jake, and Rachael’s treating emotional wounds of her own. And with danger mounting as Christmas nears, they must learn to let go of the past in order to outwit a killer…and find the peace that’s always eluded them both.
My Review: I have been eagerly awaiting Jake’s story, and I wasn’t disappointed. As always, Susan Sleeman wrote an excellent story. Romance, suspense, intrigue, deception–all of them were included in this book, the last of the First Responders Series. I am sorry to see this group’s set of stories end. I enjoyed each of them and highly recommend them.
My rating: 5 roses
About the book: Nine months pregnant, Hope Solomon is on the run and fearing for her life. Desperate for warmth, food, and shelter, she finds what looks like an abandoned house. Inside, she discovers a Christmas that’s been left behind—complete with faded decorations on a brittle Christmas tree and dusty stockings filled with loss.
Someone spies smoke coming from the chimney of the empty house and alerts Dr. Luke Griffin, the owner. He rarely visits the home that harbors so many bittersweet memories for him. But no one is going to violate the space so near and dear to his heart.
Then Luke meets Hope, and he knows this mother-to-be desperately needs help. With no room at any local inn, Luke invites Hope to stay, unaware of the danger following her. While running from the darkness, the embers of Christmas present are stirred with an unexpected birth and a holiday romance. But will Hope and Luke live to see a Christmas future?
My review: Loved this book, as I do all of the books I read by Christy Barritt. She has a way with words that amazes me. It’s a full story of love and suspense with less words. I highly recommend it.
My rating: 5 roses
“Unique and powerful, The Story of With will take readers deep into the discovery of their own identity. Bravo! This fascinating blend of storytelling and teaching will shift the thinking of all who take this journey.”
New York Times Bestselling Author, TED DEKKER
“This is your invitation into deeper identity, intimacy, and imagination with God. Like finding the place you’ve always longed to be. The moment you finish this book, you’ll race to grab one for a friend. Highest Recommendation!”
Bestselling Author of The Long Journey to Jake Palmer, JAMES L. RUBART
– From the Foreword –
“You are not alone. Whether you’re a free spirit, an office exec, a writer, musician, college student, or tired parent—your soul, like mine, knows life is meant to go beyond rat races and rare applause. This book speaks to that belief. And if you’re not careful, you may find tears warming your eyes as you read because finally someone is naming your weariness, your striving, your questions of why you just can’t quite make it, or the emptiness that hit because maybe you did. It is into those places The Story of With reaches—fusing allegory with application—to offer fresh perspective, restored hope, and a rebirth of creativity.”
—MARY WEBER, the Christy & Carol Award-Winning, Scholastic Pick Author of the Storm Siren Trilogy
Review: Ever felt alone as you travel through this world?
Did you know you don’t have to feel that way?
This book delves into the depths of doing life WITH God, but it’s done in such a way that you don’t realize it’s teaching you vital truths. It’s a true mix of fiction and non-fiction. Allen Arnold tells a story while showing the way to live a full and abundant life.
I’m not much of a non-fiction reader, but this book pulled me in and refused to let go. I read it in a matter of hours (I’m a fast reader) as if it were a true work of fiction. The truths he reveals are not fiction.
Kudos to Mr. Arnold for doing life WITH God and sharing it with us.
Rating: 5 roses
When Donna Turner and two girlfriends leave Alabama in 1956 and head to California on Route 66, Donna runs out of money. Her girlfriends continue the journey to Los Angeles, leaving Donna in Needles, California where a dream-come-true adventure is about to happen.
She worshipped the ground he walked on when she was fifteen, and now he shows up at the diner where she works. Will he remember her or does he still think of her as her brother’s skinny kid sister? Will Donna be confident enough in herself to accept her dream?
Review: This is a quick, enjoyable story. If anything, it seemed to end too soon. I’m usually not a fan of this era of stories, but this one was done quite well.
Rating: 4 roses
What Sinister Secrets Lurk in the Shadows of Yesterday?
Natchez, Mississippi—Private Investigator Nate Price and his new wife, Isabelle, need a vacation. Their coworkers generously team up to surprise them with a belated honeymoon…but the happy trip turns sour when Izzy spies her ex-husband, who appears to have taken up his gambling addiction once again.
While the boss is away, Price Investigations remains in the hands of Beth Kirby, a former police officer, and Michael Preston, a former forensic accountant. Hardly a dream team, as Beth resents working with a man who has no experience in his new job.
But Beth and Michael must move past their differences if they hope to uncover the truth behind a beloved Southern preacher’s demise. The preacher’s widow suspects foul play, despite the evidence indicating suicide.
With tension escalating between these investigators and local law enforcement—and new threats arising on all sides—how will Beth, Michael, and Nate hold on to faith and bring the truth to light?
Review: (warning some slight spoilers) I enjoyed seeing Nate and Isabelle again and learning new things about their lives. The new characters, Beth and Michael, are interesting. However, that’s about all I liked about this book. I felt like I was reading two separate stories simultaneously. Nate and Isabelle deal with a problem while on their honeymoon, and at the same time Beth and Michael deal with something else. A paragraph of dialogue here and there combined the two. I didn’t like the four points-of-view–one for each of those characters. In the end, while this is placed in the romantic suspense category, the only romance is between Nate and Isabelle, and that’s minimal. There are innuendos between Beth and Michael, but it doesn’t end in a happily-ever-after.
This book was truly disappointing. Despite my dislike of this novel, I like Mary Ellis’s writing style and will continue to read her books in the future.
Rating: 3 roses