Book Review: The Plum Blooms In Winter

Happy Friday! Today we’re looking at a debut novel from Mountain Brook Ink that looks at both sides of The Doolittle Raid in 1942 (a US air raid on the Greater Tokyo area during WW2) – the pilots and the victims.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Thompson-1PlumBloomsSMALLA Prostitute Seeks Her Revenge–In 1942, Miyako Matsuura cradled her little brother as he died on the sidewalk, a victim of the first U.S. bombing raid on Japan. By 1948, the war has reduced her to a street-hardened prostitute consumed by her shame.

A WWII Hero Finds His True Mission–Dave Delham makes military aviation history piloting a B-25 in the audacious Doolittle Raid. Forced to bail out over occupied China, he and his crew are captured by the Japanese and survive a harrowing P.O.W. ordeal. In 1948, he returns to Japan as a Christian missionary, determined to showcase Christ’s forgiveness.

Convinced that Delham was responsible for the bomb that snuffed out her brother’s life, Miyako resolves to restore her honor by avenging him–even if it costs her own life. But the huntress soon becomes hunted in Osaka’s treacherous underworld. Miyako must outmaneuver a ruthless brothel owner, outwit gangs with competing plans to profit by her, and overcome betrayal by family and friends–only to confront a decision that will change everything.

GOODREADS | AMAZON

MY THOUGHTS

The Plum Blooms in Winter is the kind of novel that isn’t easy to read because it shines a light on some of the darkest, most evil shadows of humanity. It exposes what fear, desperation, and bitterness will drive people to do to one another. The circumstances in which both Dave and Miyako find themselves, respectively, are brutal and raw and you may be tempted to look away at times to leave them a bit of dignity.

Yet at the same time it celebrates the power of God’s grace to begin the work of redemption and restoration. Hope shines brighter than the darkness – in a thousand little ways and a few really big ones. Though neither Dave nor Miyako acknowledge God right away, His hand is nevertheless obvious to readers who do know Him.

The author mentions at the beginning of the novel that she made the choice to include common derogatory terms of the day toward the Japanese as an accurate representation of the history she was portraying. And while these are difficult to read, they are used as sparingly as possible and do drive home the appalling attitudes of the time period. This disparity – between the debasing words and the God-given high value of the people being spoken of – is seen so clearly as Miyako is first met as a school girl racing to protect her little brother from the air raid and then as a young woman who sacrifices all she has left to afford her father’s medical care yet is still so dearly loved by her Heavenly Father.

Note: I did wince at the author’s choice to write some English words phonetically as the Japanese would have said them. To me, this negated some of the value & honor she had given back to the Japanese citizens (as opposed to military personnel) in her portrayal of them.

Overall though this is an extremely powerful novel of the extremes that war, prejudice, fear, and desperation can lead to. The compelling and emotional story shows that, deep inside, our hearts all beat the same – no matter what our race or ethnicity – and that God’s grace follows us into the deepest pit whether we’ve dug it ourselves or it’s been dug for us.

I VOLUNTARILY REVIEWED A COMPLIMENTARY COPY OF THIS BOOK.
ALL VIEWS EXPRESSED ARE ONLY MY HONEST OPINION.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

linda thompsonLinda Thompson stepped back from a corporate career that spanned continents to write what she loves-stories of unstoppable faith. Her debut novel, The Plum Blooms in Winter, is an A.C.F.W. Genesis award winner. Linda writes from the sun-drenched Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, a third-generation airline pilot who doubles as her Chief Military Research Officer, two mostly-grown-up kids, and a small platoon of housecats. When Linda isn’t writing, you’ll find her rollerblading-yes, that does make her a throwback-taking in a majestic desert moonrise, or dreaming of an upcoming trip. She and her husband recently returned from a tour of Israel and Jordan. Next up: Wales.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER

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Book Review: Deck the Shelves

Happy Friday, reader friends!

Can you believe that Thanksgiving is NEXT WEEK?!? Before we know it, Christmas will be here… which is a great segue into our book review for this week 😉

ABOUT THE BOOK

dtsKendall Jackson is the proud owner of Heartfalls’ bookstore, The Cozy Shelf. Her life is one straight out of the pages, except she’s missing that leading man. Although she has a crush on the handsome auto mechanic, Quinton Hendricks, Kendall wants an old-fashioned type of romance—the stuff swoon-worthy romance books are made of. But Quinton seems to need a little prodding.

Something about Kendall sparks hope in Quinton Hendricks that love could be his again. Only being abandoned by his ex-wife has made him cautious to the point of non-moving.

Can two people hesitant on second chances find love as they Deck the Shelves?

Right now you can find Deck the Shelves in the Comfort and Joy novella collection!

GOODREADS | AMAZON

MY THOUGHTS

If you’re looking for a sweet Christmas romance that celebrates books, this is the novella for you!

Kendall and “Q” are a cute match, and their secret ‘bookish’ notes that they leave each other throughout The Cozy Shelf bookstore simply delighted me. In fact, bookworms will find much to love about Deck the Shelves. From the charming bookstore setting to the literary quotes gracing each chapter – and the secret admirer notes – to the shout outs to various fave authors … this is a book for book nerds 🙂

Shiloh always writes wonderfully diverse and layered characters, and she has done so again in Deck the Shelves. While this is a lighter read with plenty of chuckles and grins, there is nonetheless a deeper spiritual theme woven into the fabric of the plot as well. In order to trust each other’s hearts (based on their past painful relationships), they each will first need to learn to trust God with the relationship.

A cute Christmas romance perfect for Hallmark movie fans and bookworms alike!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

tonishilohToni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian contemporary romance author. Once she understood the powerful saving grace, thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness.

You can find her at http://tonishiloh.wordpress.com.

Follow: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram

 


posted by contributor Carrie Schmidt

Book Review: Cheyenne Sunrise by Janalyn Voigt

Thank goodness it’s Friday, y’all. Are you looking forward to the weekend?

Well, if you’re looking for a good read to pass the time, check out today’s book review for the second book in the Montana Gold series!

About the Book

cheyenne sunriseCan a woman with no faith in men learn to trust the half-Cheyenne trail guide determined to protect her?

Young Irish widow Bry Brennan doesn’t want another husband to break her spirit. When she and her brother Con join a wagon train headed to Montana Territory, Bry ignores her fascination with Nick Laramie, the handsome trail guide.

Nick lives in an uneasy truce between the settlers and his mother’s tribe without fully fitting in among either. With no intention of dragging a woman into his troubles, he stifles his yearning for Bry.

The perilous journey throws the two together, leaving Bry no choice but to trust Nick with her life. Can she also trust him with her heart? Answering that riddle forces Bry to confront her unresolved questions about God’s love.

Based on actual historical events during a time of unrest in America, Cheyenne Sunrise explores faith, love, and courage in the wild west.

GOODREADS | AMAZON

My Thoughts

“What else can I do but cling to my Savior?”

Voigt is a new author to me, and this book in particular examines our propensity to judge an entire race or people group based on the actions of a few. It also explores intricacies of an abiding faith, even when life is falling apart.

Bry Brennan and her brothers know what it’s like to be lumped into a single group and judged for their heritage. Yet they must wrestle with the same tendencies when they are introduced to Nick Laramie, the trail guide for the wagon train Bry is on with her brother Con. Born to a French father and a Cheyenne mother, Nick is rejected by both worlds.

Nick’s struggle is tough to read about (in a good ‘this is stretching me’ kind of way) because he is a man of character, yet people so easily assume the worst about him. White people and other Native Americans are guilty of making him not welcome in either culture.

What I loved most about this story was that it was so much more than a token “overcoming the barriers and attitudes toward a mixed-culture romance”.  That aspect is certainly an element in their story, no question. But the author takes us on a deeper journey, refusing to romanticize the history of the time and presenting an authentic picture of life as they would have known it, no matter how much we might want to turn away from the reality. Yet, even as she paints a raw portrayal of racism, grief, and tragedy, she also frames it against the backdrop of grace and the perfect love of a Savior who is for all.

About the Author

Janalyn-Irene-Voigt-1-300x300Janalyn Voigt is a writer and professional speaker with a photography habit and a passion for travel. Her unique blend of adventure, romance, suspense, and fantasy creates worlds of beauty and danger for readers. She is represented by Sarah Joy Freese of Wordserve Literary.

An inspirational, motivational, and practical speaker, Janalyn teaches on a variety of topics, including the writing craft, social media management, and branding. She has presented at the Northwest Christian Writers’ Renewal Conference and the Inland Northwest Christian Writers Conference as well as for local writing groups, at book events and libraries.

CONNECT: website | Facebook | Twitter

 

 

Book Review: This Courageous Journey by Misty M. Beller

Happy Fri-nally, friends! Are you as ready for the weekend as I am?!?

Well if you’re looking for a great diverse read for your weekend plans, I’ve got another recommendation for you!

About the Book

this courageous journeyAs the fifth daughter in a family of nine children, Noelle Grant has spent her life working to be unique. Her love of stories helps define her goal—to be known around the country as one of the top news correspondents of her time. And what better way to uncover sensational stories than to travel through the mountain wilderness to visit the brother she hasn’t seen in years? The trip comes together perfectly as she plans to journey with family friends who will be settling in the same area. Her first inkling that things may not be as perfect as planned comes in the form of the mountain man they hire as their guide for the final leg of the journey.

When Daniel Abrams agrees to guide the small group of easterners along his usual journey northward to the Canadian mountains, his gut tells him he’s making the wrong decision. But if he doesn’t take them, who will? The man in charge refuses to consider turning back. As they start out, Daniel can’t help but notice the woman traveling under the care of her friends. Though she appears too genteel to last long in these mountains, she soon reveals a strength that draws him more than he should allow.

As the dangers of this wilderness become more than the group bargained for, Noelle is faced with the choice to delay her journey northward or proceed alone with the man she’s come to trust against all reason. She never imagines her decision will place her—and the man she loves—in a situation more hazardous than any story her imagination could conjure.

GOODREADS | AMAZON | B&N

My Thoughts

Misty Beller has quickly become one of my favorite historical romance authors. While I didn’t start reading her books until this Heart of the Mountains series, I can’t kick myself too much because that just means I have her backlist waiting for me to discover and enjoy next!

In This Courageous Journey, book #4 in the Heart of the Mountains series, we meet Simeon’s little sister Noelle Grant (don’t worry though – you can definitely read this as a stand alone too) and her group’s wilderness guide Daniel Abrams. As in each of these Heart of the Mountains books, the journey through the Canadian Rockies is treacherous and gives me a new appreciation for those who braved the often-fatal terrain to forge a new life. These characters and their courage – knowing that, while Noelle and Daniel are fictional, there were real people who endured these journeys – is so inspiring.

Daniel in particular is a complex character with many dimensions to his backstory. Namely, in his heritage and how he wrestles with the nuances of that history. Beller has framed this character well – with all the various layers that make Daniel uniquely himself. The way he relates to the various people they meet along their journey – and how he guards himself even among people he trusts – is further testament to the cultures and complexities that make up his history.

Tucked away in the adventure and romance is a gentle thread of faith that has a two-fold message. One is that God is with us, even when things seem to be getting worse instead of better. He’s there. He’s good. And He loves us dearly. The other part of the thread is a tender reminder that the way we see ourselves, even the way others see us, is a pale – and often inaccurate – reflection of the strength and worth God sees when He looks at us. And since we are never outside of His watch, our truest self is held there in His heart for us to find as we know Him (and ourselves) better along the journey.

Bottom Line: If you have not yet discovered this edge-of-your-seat, heart-in-your-throat series you are really missing out. I experienced the whole gamut of emotions while reading This Courageous Journey – moments that had me gasping out loud in shock, sighing in (sometimes very short-lived) relief, swooning at the passionate kisses and love, and even nearly praying for their safety. That’s how invested I was in this story and the characters that Beller has so skillfully crafted. Adventure, humor, romance, and faith are all a part of this riveting novel which is not to be missed!

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.
Review first seen, in part, on ReadingIsMySuperPower.org

About the Author

misty beller.JPGMisty M. Beller writes romantic mountain stories, set on the 1800s frontier and woven with the truth of God’s love.

She was raised on a farm in South Carolina, so her Southern roots run deep. Growing up, her family was close, and they continue to keep that priority today. Her husband and daughters now add another dimension to her life, keeping her both grounded and crazy.

God has placed a desire in Misty’s heart to combine her love for Christian fiction and the simpler ranch life, writing historical novels that display God’s abundant love through the twists and turns in the lives of her characters.

CONNECT WITH MISTY:  website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

This Courageous Journey is on tour right now with CelebrateLit – follow along HERE for a chance to win a gift card!

Author Guest Post: Matt Mikalatos

Happy Monday, friends! Today, Matt Mikalatos is sharing why diversity is so important – in life and in fiction. His newest book The Crescent Stone features diverse characters, humor and an intriguing fantasy world.


Diversity – Why We Need Each Other

by Matt Mikalatos

When I first started writing my fantasy novel, The Crescent Stone, I knew a key theme was going to be about privilege and ethnic diversity. My main character, Madeline Oliver, was well-off, white, well-educated, attractive and intelligent . . . privileged in nearly every way you can be in our culture. She did not, however, have great health: she had a terminal lung disease, and even though she was young she was dying.

One of her classmates, Jason Wu, had fewer of the same privileges, but still was doing pretty well for himself. He had a personal tragedy in his recent past that he was working through, and had decided he would only tell the truth no matter what happened. He would, in fact, volunteer the truth when it wasn’t strictly necessary.

In my first few chapters, the plan was to keep Madeline as the main character, and Jason as one of a host of other characters around her in her journey. But it became clear, part of the way through, that we needed Jason’s point of view, too. Madeline by herself wasn’t seeing everything she could.

My editor suggested making Jason and Madeline both point-of-view characters, with alternating chapters, and I agreed to try it. The book came alive in a new way! Here are three things I noticed as I wrote the novel this new way.

  1. Diverse points of view help us to see things we miss.

Early in the novel, Madeline and Jason are walking through a tunnel that leads them into a magical world called the Sunlit Lands. In the first draft, from Madeline’s point of view, we’re told how the tunnel gets increasingly older . . . from concrete to brick to very old brick and eventually to stone walls. When I retold the same moment from Jason’s point of view, he noticed something that Madeline had not: Chinese characters etched into the oldest bricks. Jason stopped to think about something that never occurred to Madeline: who built this place? He stopped and read some of the names etched there, and he talked to Madeline about his own ancestors, who had come to the United States and worked on things like building the railroads. This was something that Madeline missed completely, and I, as her author, didn’t notice until I was writing as Jason. That was a weird feeling!

  1. We learn best in diverse settings.

Madeline and Jason arrive in the Sunlit Lands to discover that the people of the Sunlit Lands are dizzyingly diverse . . . not just the “magical races” of other creatures, but also a variety of ethnicities and nationalities from Earth. Madeline’s roommate is a Syrian Christian, and Jason’s two roommates are Hawaiian and Native American. As Madeline works to unravel the mystery of the Sunlit Lands, each of these people contributes along the way. If it had been (like my favorite fantasies of my youth) all white British kids, they would likely never discover the answer to what is happening in the Sunlit Lands, because it wouldn’t occur to them to ask.

  1. We make better decisions with diverse advisors.

Once Madeline realizes what is happening in the Sunlit Lands, she’s struck with a nearly impossible choice . . . one that requires either enormous sacrifice or the harm of many other people, or possibly both. I don’t want to include any spoilers, but through the relationships and help of the people with her, she’s able to find a third choice . . . a hard decision, still, but something that lets her be true to herself without harming innocents. She wouldn’t have found that path on her own, because she wouldn’t have seen it.

In the “real world” we need each other, too. Our diverse points of view and experiences help us to see the world, to learn better, and to make better decisions.


About the Book

the crescent stoneA girl with a deadly lung disease . . .
A boy with a tragic past . . .
A land where the sun never sets but darkness still creeps in . . .

Madeline Oliver has never wanted for anything, but now she would give anything just to breathe. Jason Wu skates through life on jokes, but when a tragedy leaves him guilt-stricken, he promises to tell only the truth, no matter the price.

When a mysterious stranger name Hanali appears to Madeline and offers to heal her in exchange for one year of service to his people, Madeline and Jason are swept into a strange land where they don’t know the rules and where their decisions carry consequences that reach farther than they could ever guess.

GOODREADS  | AMAZON | B&N

About the Author

matt miklatosMatt Mikalatos writes books (surprise!). In the past, Matt worked as a high school teacher and a comic book clerk, but currently focuses on nonprofit work devoted to helping people love one another despite their differences.

He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife, three daughters, two unicorns, a gryphon, a dragon, and three brine shrimp.

website | Facebook | Twitter

Book Review: God Made Me & You

Happy Friday, friends!

Today I’m excited to bring you my review of a new children’s book that celebrates diversity – God Made Me and You by Shai Linne (illustrated by Trish Mahoney).

About the Book

God Made Me and YouThis beautifully illustrated children’s book invites kids to explore God’s design for ethnic diversity and challenges readers—both parents and children—to learn and live out counter-cultural, biblical views, fostering a lifelong celebration of diversity for the glory of God. Designed for four- to eleven-year-olds, God Made Me and You by Shai Linne is the second book in the God Made Me series, starting with God Made All of Me by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb.

Because Scripture teaches that ethnic diversity is not something that should be tolerated but rather enthusiastically embraced, Christian hip hop artist Shai Linne helps children, parents, and caregivers to celebrate this biblical truth through a lyrical, rhyming style and colorful illustrations.

God Made Me and You is an approachable guide for families to begin conversations about cultivating God’s perspective on ethnic diversity, confronting the sins of racism, bigotry, and ethnic pride.

Because children learn from family members, media, or peers, parents and caretakers have a responsibility to teach their children what God has to say about the beauty of diversity in his image-bearers, with a particular focus on ethnic diversity.

This colorful and compelling children’s book serves as a resource and lifelong gift for children and parents, helping families understand diversity from a biblical perspective and with a clear picture of the beauty and glory of God.

Goodreads | Amazon

My Thoughts

First, I have to mention the illustrations in this sweet lesson-in-a-story. Bright, colorful, adorable, and full of diversity of all kinds! Kids of all skin colors, kids from other countries, kids with braces & hearing aids & wheelchairs & crutches & birthmarks. Everywhere you look there are examples of the beauty of God’s creative design. If you have a child who says “there are never any characters who look like me” you can probably find one in this book.

“Dark skin, light skin, and all in between / In each color and shade, God’s beauty is seen.”

Second, the text. The words are written in a delightful rhyming cadence that pulls children – and adults – into the story. The classroom setting starts off with an all-too-common scene of children teasing other children for their differences. This is a great approach because it allows children to identify with either being teased or being the one doing the teasing – or being the one who stands up for the teased. As the teacher arrives and sees what has been going on, she is able to redirect the narrative into a lesson on celebrating our differences as part of the beauty of God’s creation.

“There’s no sin in heaven, / no hating each other, / Just love from the heart / for our sisters and brothers.”

Scripture verses are woven throughout (in rhyme, of course), including one of my faves from Revelation 7. Biblical truth is on every page, giving children and adults gentle reminders of God’s design and how we should embrace our differences and love each other. Also included at the end of the story are six excellent tips to help your child appreciate God’s design for ethnic diversity.

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher.

About the Author

shai linneShai Linne is a recording artist who has released numerous acclaimed Christian hip-hop albums, including The Atonement and The Attributes of God. After completing a pastoral internship at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington D.C., Shai co-founded Risen Christ Fellowship, an inner city church in his hometown of Philadelphia, PA. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife Blair and their three children, Sage, Maya and Ezra. Shai is the author of God Made Me and You: Celebrating God’s Design for Ethnic Diversity and co-author of It Was Good: Making Music to the Glory of God

About the Illustrator

Trish Mahoney is a graphic designer and illustrator in Seattle where she runs The Mahoney Studio with her husband, Patrick, also a designer and illustrator. They have two children—both budding artists, too. Trish is also the illustrator for God Made All of Me: A Book to Help Children Protect Their Bodies and The Beginner’s Gospel Story Bible.

 

Book Review: Finally Accepted by Toni Shiloh

Happy Friday, friends! YAY! I hope you have fun plans for the weekend – and I hope those plans include a great book 🙂

Speaking of great books, I highly recommend this one by Toni Shiloh!

About the Book

finallyacceptedfinalThere’s only one thing Chloe Smith has ever wanted: family. Yet the DNA results she’s received have thrown her life into a tailspin. Her utmost desire has ended up being the catalyst for shaking her faith. She doesn’t even know who she is anymore, and she’s certainly too messed up for her longtime crush to give her more than a second glance.

Darryl Jones is struggling between his past and the grace God so freely offers. His sins feel too big for him to handle, let alone expect the woman of his dreams to accept. Chloe is the only woman he’s ever wanted and the one he doesn’t deserve.

As they form a tentative relationship and examine their faith, Chloe and Darryl ache to know they are finally accepted and fully loved.

GOODREADS | AMAZON

My Thoughts

One of my favorite things about Toni Shiloh’s books is the way she writes such warm stories that also tackle tough issues. It’s not an easy balance to keep the tone friendly and relatable while also wrestling with emotional topics such as abortion, racial identity, abuse, etc. Even with heavy plot lines, the tone of the story never feels heavy itself.

Shiloh shines in this area once again with Finally Accepted. Chloe and Darryl are layered characters who are struggling to feel accepted – by God and by the ones they love. It shows up in different ways in each of them, but the driving force is very similar. Related to their insecurities, these characters also explore racial identity issues, specifically related to being biracial. This perspective was particularly intriguing to me, as a white woman. Chloe’s struggles with not knowing how to relate to herself anymore, with feeling like she wouldn’t be accepted by either race – these are all things that had never occurred to me before, and I so appreciate the author broadening my own perspective in the process.

The romance between Chloe and Darryl has been brewing since book one in the Freedom Lake series, and Darryl in love is just adorably awkward. Lol. He doesn’t know quite what to do with himself whenever Chloe is around – and Chloe is much the same way around Darryl. I very much enjoyed watching the two of them figure out what the rest of us have seen all along 😉

One final element that I loved about Chloe and Darryl’s relationship was watching them navigate the different steps in their journeys with Jesus. Chloe has been a believer for a long time but her faith is a little shaken by the news she’s received about her family. Darryl is just beginning his relationship with Jesus, and there are lots of ins and outs and ‘finer details’ that he doesn’t quite get yet. Shiloh does a great job here of authentically grasping the faith struggles that both encounter along the way – and framing it from the right perspective.

If you haven’t yet traveled to Freedom Lake, you really must ‘book’ a trip soon!

And while you’re at it, Toni Shiloh is profiling Chloe and Darryl today over at my own blog with a giveaway – check it out HERE

About the Author

tonishilohToni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness.

She spends her days hanging out with her husband and their two boys. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and president of the Virginia Chapter.

website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram

Book Spotlight: Finally Accepted by Toni Shiloh

Happy Wednesday, friends!

Today I’m spotlighting the newest book by our own Toni Shiloh, the third book in her Freedom Lake series.

About the Book

finallyacceptedfinalThere’s only one thing Chloe Smith has ever wanted: family. Yet the DNA results she’s received have thrown her life into a tailspin. Her utmost desire has ended up being the catalyst for shaking her faith. She doesn’t even know who she is anymore, and she’s certainly too messed up for her longtime crush to give her more than a second glance.

Darryl Jones is struggling between his past and the grace God so freely offers. His sins feel too big for him to handle, let alone expect the woman of his dreams to accept. Chloe is the only woman he’s ever wanted and the one he doesn’t deserve.

As they form a tentative relationship and examine their faith, Chloe and Darryl ache to know they are finally accepted and fully loved.

GOODREADS | AMAZON

About the Author

tonishilohToni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness.

She spends her days hanging out with her husband and their two boys. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and president of the Virginia Chapter.

website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram


Have you been following the Freedom Lake series? Which character is your fave?

Book Review: Her Cowboy Reunion by Ruth Logan Herne

Happy Friday, dear readers!

I’m back with another book review, and this time I’m looking at Ruth Logan Herne’s new release Her Cowboy Reunion, the first book in her new Shepherd’s Crossing series!

About the Book

her cowboy reunionA new life…an old love
Can she risk loving him again in
Shepherd’s Crossing?

With her family in disgrace, Lizzie Fitzgerald never imagined she’d end up at an Idaho ranch.

Fortunately, she’s working with horses she loves—even if it means dealing with her old sweetheart Heath Caufield. The widowed father of an adorable boy, Heath hasn’t forgiven Lizzie for their past.

But even a stubborn cowboy can’t stop the heart’s ability to forgive…or love again.

GOODREADS | AMAZON

My Thoughts

“What we’ve got in mind and what the good Lord’s got planned don’t always agree, but that’s what makes life interesting. Sometimes it’s a collision course. Other times it’s a wide, beautiful curve.”

Ruth Logan Herne always delivers a warm story with a solid message and diverse characters. Her new release, Her Cowboy Reunion, is no exception. I was immersed into the story from the very first page and still didn’t want to put it down even when I reached the end.

The diverse cast of characters gives the story its heart and soul, but adorable Zeke steals the show in the most endearing ways possible! His instant love for “my Lizzie” (oh, my heart!), his enthusiasm for life, his adoration of his dad Heath, and his tender sweet heart made me want to reach inside the pages and HUG that precious boy! The fact that he is bi-racial is just as much a part of his story as all these other things I’ve mentioned, and I love that Herne just lets him be Zeke, in all his endearing adorableness.

Lizzie and Heath are old flames, whose history is bumpy to say the least. Both have skewed perspectives of a very significant event in their past, and both are still nursing their wounds all these years later. And with good reason, when you consider the erroneous view of the truth from which they’re each approaching the situation. Yet, Herne takes their story – all its tangled emotional mess – and gently allows God to restore and heal their hearts and their relationship. With some soul-deep Ruthy wisdom via the character of Corrie, an almost-mama to Lizzie and her sisters.

“Sometimes we spin in circles because we’ve misplaced our direction. When we can’t see our way forward we tend to run in place.”

Bottom Line: Lizzie’s resilience (I love the strong women in Herne’s stories!) and Heath’s steadiness (for the most part lol) set the tone for this delightful story filled with horses and sheep and a precocious little boy. The glimpses into life on a horse farm/sheep ranch are unique and intriguing (a mare app…. who knew?!?), and Lizzie and Heath’s shared history is just as much so. The added subplot of the dying small town also captured my attention, and I look forward to where she takes this in future books in the series. Herne takes this story and these characters and wraps them in grace, strength, courage and wit – and love, lots of love. A must-read for all!

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I purchased for my own collection.
All opinions expressed are only my honest opinion.

About the Author

ruthyRuth Logan Herne has more than a million books in print, including over twenty Love Inspired contemporary novels. She loves God, her family, country, coffee, chocolate and dogs, and wishes possums would leave the cat food on the side porch alone.

Ruthy is also a founding member of Seekerville, a popular writing-collective blog. A country girl who loves the big city, Ruthy and her husband live on a farm in upstate New York.

website  | Facebook | Twitter

 

What about you, dear readers? Have you ever been on a sheep ranch?

Book Review: Protection for Hire by Camy Tang

Happy Friday, friends! I hope you have fabulous plans for the weekend that involve reading lots of great books! Today, in our latest book review, I’m looking at a romantic suspense by author Camy Tang, whose books I’ve been wanting to read for a long time.

About the Book

protection for hireTessa Lancaster’s skills first earned her a position as an enforcer in her Uncle Teruo’s Japanese Mafia gang. Then they landed her in prison for a crime she didn’t commit. Now, three months after her release, Tessa’s abilities have gained her a job as bodyguard for wealthy socialite Elizabeth St. Amant and her three-year-old son.

But there’s a problem or two … or three …. There’s Elizabeth’s abusive husband whose relentless pursuit goes deeper than mere vengeance. There’s Uncle Teruo, who doesn’t understand why Tessa’s new faith as a Christian prevents her from returning to the yakuza. And then there’s Elizabeth’s lawyer, Charles Britton, who Tessa doesn’t know is the one who ensured that she did maximum time behind bars.

Now Tessa and Charles must work together in order to protect their client, while new truths emerge and circumstances spiral to a deadly fever pitch. Factor in both Tessa’s and Charles’s families and you’ve got some wild dynamics—and an action-packed, romantic read as Tessa and Charles discover the reality of being made new in Christ.

GOODREADS | AMAZON

My Thoughts

This may have been my first read by Camy Tang but it won’t be my last! Well-defined and layered (sometimes hilarious) characters, romance, humor, faith, cultural diversity, and smartly-plotted suspense (with martial arts!) all come together for a truly entertaining and compelling reading experience.

Tessa’s life is complicated, to say the least. It was already complicated before she went to prison while ‘taking one for the team’ for her beloved uncle’s yakuza (Japanese mafia gang). But in prison she decided to follow Jesus and while she knows she’s been made new she’s struggling to adapt to the drastic changes she has made and the uphill battle she faces in a family that doesn’t understand her decision. I really loved Tang’s portrayal of Tessa’s journey. It’s never preachy, but it is an authentic look at what it means to follow Jesus as a new believer whose family is not at all supportive of the transformation – and what being made new in Jesus really means.

Tessa’s and Charles’ families are wonderfully wacky and are sure to leave a smile on your face! Elizabeth is hilarious too, even though her story is sobering and all too common, and there were many moments that I laughed out loud at something one of these characters said or did. Even Tessa and Charles’ meet-cute is hysterical – it’s not every day that … well… you’ll just have to read it for yourself 😉 On top of the humor and heart, this story is also action-packed with a few surprising twists and an intriguing blend of cultures.

If you love diverse characters, grinning from ear-to-ear, and staying completely immersed in a story’s action and suspense, then you really must go grab a copy of Protection for Hire (and its sequel) today!

About the Author

camy tangCamy writes Christian contemporary romance and romantic suspense as Camy Tang and Regency romance as USA Today bestselling author Camille Elliot. She grew up in Hawaii but now lives in northern California with her engineer husband and rambunctious dog. She graduated from Stanford University in psychology with a focus on biology, but for nine years she worked as a biologist researcher.

Then God guided her path in a completely different direction and now she’s writing full time, using her original psychology degree as she creates the characters in her novels. In her free time, she’s a staff worker for her church youth group and leads one of her church’s Sunday worship teams. She also loves to knit, spin wool into yarn, and is training to (very slowly) run a marathon.

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