Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Memory of You by Catherine West




  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (March 28, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0718078764
  • ISBN-13: 978-0718078768

About the Book:


Thirteen years ago, Natalie lost a part of herself when her twin sister died. Will traveling back to the family winery finally put the memory to rest, or will it completely destroy her?
When Natalie Mitchell learns her beloved grandfather has had a heart attack, she’s forced to return to their family-owned winery in Sonoma, something she never intended to do. She’s avoided her grandparents’ sprawling home and all its memories since the summer her sister died—the awful summer Natalie’s nightmares began. But the winery is failing, and Natalie’s father wants her to shut it down. As the majority shareholder, she has the power to do so.
And Natalie never says no to her father.
Tanner Collins, the vintner on Maoilios, is trying to salvage a bad season and put the Mitchell family’s winery back in business. When Natalie Mitchell shows up, Tanner sees his future about to be crushed. Natalie intends to close the gates, unless he can convince her otherwise. But the Natalie he remembers from childhood is long gone, and he’s not so sure he likes the woman she’s become. Still, the haunted look she wears hints at secrets he wants to unearth. He soon discovers that on the night her sister died, the real Natalie died too. And Tanner must do whatever it takes to resurrect her.
But finding freedom from the past means facing it.

My Thoughts:

This is the second novel written by Catherine West that I've had the pleasure of reading.  Her stories are both intriguing gripping, and she is rapidly becoming a favorite author.

I've heard true stories about the unique connection between twins, and the facts of that bond are the backbone of Natalie's story.  Losing her twin sister at such a young age has left Natalie stuck somewhere in the past.  Problem is, if she's going to ever heal, she'll have to deal with her feelings and take a step forward.

Tanner remembers a different Natalie, and we both like her better than the woman she's allowed herself to become--which is funny, because I'm real and he's imaginary, but we think the same thing about her.  That's the sign of a well crafted character.

The story is about far more than whether to close down a family winery that has been an integral part of a history, almost to the point of being an actual character in the story.

This is a tale about letting go of any pain in the past and allowing our souls to heal through the power of Jesus Christ, and then having the courage to move forward when the future is terrifyingly promising.  So, the question remains, can Natalie move on, and will Tanner help her or wound her even more?

You'll have to read the book to find out!  "The Memory of You" gets my "Oh, The Feels" mark of approval.

I received a complimentary copy from my friends at Zondervan with no services or obligations in exchange.  So go read "The Memory Of You".  I'll be waiting right here for you with more books to share...until then...

Mark Your Place, 

Deena

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

All For Anna by Nicole Deese






  • Series: Letting Go
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (January 22, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1481239406
  • ISBN-13: 978-1481239400

About the Book:

If guilt is a prison; Victoria Sales has given herself a life sentence. Held captive by regret, 23 year-old trauma RN, Tori Sales, has seen the reality of many nightmares. But there is one nightmare she will never wake from—her last memory of Anna. Her efforts to save the little girl were not enough; she was not enough. 

After a year of living alone, Tori is forced to return home—a place where heartache, loss, and broken relationships lurk around every corner. Isolation is her only solace; running is her only escape. But she cannot outrun the truth forever. When a handsome, compassionate stranger enters her world, Tori is inspired to deal with her past and focus on the future—one she never believed possible. 

But before her quest for closure is complete, a new revelation surfaces, tainting her world yet again. Will she accept the recovery she so desperately needs? Or will she choose the escape she knows best...

My Thoughts:

I've been an avid reader ever since i learned that those black squiggles on the white paper were letters, and together they made words, and words had power.  The power to learn, the power to express, and the power to change lives.

I say all of this to let you know, at my age and with my long, long list of books I've read and mostly loved, it takes something extra special to catch my attention.  It requires that intangible something that breathes life into imaginary people in imaginary situations, drawing the reader into the tale from the opening lines.

Nicole Deese is that kind of author.  And I'm so glad I found her, and her stories.  I joined a blog tour for a book that looked interesting (The Promise of Rayne) and I was riveted by the intense story and the rich characters, combined with a fascinating back story of the people who populated Deese's book.  A healthy and organic mix of faith and flaws intrigued me.

Needless to say, "The Promise of Rayne" received a very positive review.  But I wasn't satisfied.  I needed more.  So I went searching for Nicole Deese online, and I discovered a wealth of undiscovered literary treasures.

No offense to anyone, but the back cover copy on "All For Anna" doesn't do justice to the beauty found within the pages of the book.  When the reader encounters Victoria Sales, she is at a crossroads, facing a life altering change that would cripple anyone in a similar place.

The power of the prologue is just the tip of the emotional iceberg that comes at the reader out of nowhere.  You FEEL like you are walking in Tori's shoes.  You FEEL the powerful emotion of every. single. character.

Even the background characters will resonate in your heart.  And, yes, I'm referring to Briggs!  But I'm also talking about Anna, Mallory, and Johanna.  Dr. Crane, and Dr. Bradley.  Tori's parents.  And you are going to LOVE her sister Stacie and husband Jack.


But you'll recognize Jesus in Kai Alesana.  And that truly resonated in my soul, because I have my own real life 'Kai'...my husband, Dave.  He gave to me exactly what Kai ultimately gives to Tori, and yup.  I struggled with it pretty much like she struggles.

I don't want to spoil the story for new readers, so I'll stop there.  Let me just end with this: I am a life-long fan of Nicole Deese, and while I'm sorry it took me so long to discover her...I have a HUGE backlist of stories to keep me going until her new book releases!

"All For Anna" gets me 'Oh, The Feels!' and 'Packs a Punch' rating.  You can purchase a copy of "All For Anna" and Deese's other titles online (like I did) or from your local bookstores.  Just be sure you don't miss out on this talented and amazing author.  Until next time...

Mark Your Place, 

Deena

Monday, May 22, 2017

If I'm Found by Terri Blackstock





  • Series: If I Run Series
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (March 21, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310332486
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310332480

About the Book:


In this riveting sequel to the USA TODAY bestseller If I Run, evil lurks, drawing Casey out of the shadows . . . but there is light shining in the darkness.
Casey Cox is still on the run, fleeing prosecution for a murder she didn’t commit. Dylan Roberts—her most relentless pursuer—is still on her trail, but his secret emails insist he knows the truth and wants to help her. He’s let her escape before when he had her in his grasp, but trust doesn’t come easily.
As Casey works to collect evidence about the real murderers, she stumbles on another unbearable injustice: an abused child and a suicidal man who’s also been falsely accused. Casey risks her own safety to right this wrong and protect the little girl from her tormentors. But doing so is risky and may result in her capture—and if she’s captured, she has no doubt she’ll be murdered before she ever steps foot in a jail cell.

My Thoughts:

Wow!  What a wild ride of a story!  "If I'm Found" is the second book in a stellar new series by mystery maven Terri Blackstock, and I could easily see this story turned into a movie or even a springboard for a criminal procedural television show.

I still remember the day I discovered Terri Blackstock's novels.  My mother and I were huge fans of Mary Higgins Clark because her stories were intense but also clean of graphic language, sexual content and extreme violence.  Plus, we couldn't figure out the culprit within the first few pages.

I was browsing the shelves of the bookstore where I was working and I saw "Evidence of Mercy", and someone had called her the Christian Mary Higgins Clark.  That recommendation was wrong, because Blackstock's novels were far superior to Ms. Higgins Clark's.  And we became life long readers.

In fact, my mom was in the middle of one of Terri Blackstock's novels when she passed away.  I haven't moved the bookmark from her place, and that was when I began writing book reviews, to share my love of reading with a new audience.

Mystery/suspense in the inspirational marketplace has changed dramatically over the past decade, but one constant remains: Terri Blackstock is still the queen of the whodunit, and her faith is rock solid and always included in her books.

The "If I Run" series is a bit of a departure from Blackstock's usual storytelling.  The story bounces POV, and we see much of the tale through the eyes of Casey Cox.  Casey is a multi-layered heroine, running from the law and evading capture for something she didn't do, but also being a hidden hero to those she crosses paths with.

In my own very humble opinion, Terri Blackstock is once again changing the definition of inspirational mystery/suspense by raising the bar even higher.  Just telling a captivation story of whodunit will no longer suffice.  There is a much higher calling for an author who is a Christ follower, and that calling is more urgent today than ever before.

Terri Blackstock has the gift of pointing out the criminal while also pointing the way to The Nazarene (Jesus Christ) and His redemptive power.  She isn't the only author gifted in this manner, but she is by far one of the best.  If you're looking for a great thriller with a twist, pick up both "If I Run" and "If I'm Found" and buckle up for the third novel--it's going to be a rush to read!

And if you're looking for more than just a good story, check out Terri Blackstock's entire list of novels.  I think you'll be glad you did.  I received a complimentary copy of "If I'm Found" from my friends at Zondervan, with no services or obligation promised in return.

That's why I'm giving "If I'm Found" my "For Such a Time" mark of high approval.

So, until Terri's next novel is in my hands and I'm whipping through its pages...

Mark Your Place, 

Deena

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Because You're Mine by Colleen Coble




  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson; Reprint edition (January 10, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0718083806
  • ISBN-13: 978-0718083809

About the Book:


Amid the beauty of Charleston, not all is as it seems.
When her husband Liam is killed by a car bomb while their Celtic band is on tour in Charleston, singer and Irish beauty Alanna doesn’t quite know where to turn. Her father-in-law is threatening to take custody of the baby she carries, but Alanna knows she can’t lose the only piece of Liam she has left.
Alanna’s manager offers her a marriage of convenience to obtain U.S. citizenship and allow her to escape her father-in-law’s control. It seems like the perfect solution until she arrives at the family home of her new husband—a decaying mansion with more questions than answers.
Strange things begin happening that threaten Alanna’s life and the life of her child. Are they merely coincidences? Or is something more sinister at work?
A mysterious painting, a haunting melody, and a love stronger than death leave Alanna questioning where darkness ends and light begins.

My Thoughts:

I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised by Colleen Coble's "Because You're Mine".  Coble always crafts an intricate and enjoyable story, but a touch of the Irish sets this one apart from the rest.

My heart broke over and over again for Alanna.  It's always a bit surreal when you find yourself praying for an imaginary person, but she's so real you just can't help but ask God to help her.

And talk about going from bad to worse!  Ever want to choke the life out of a pretend person?  Then strengthen your grip strength, because you will be wanting to. Take. Someone. Out. Very. Very. Meticulously.

And those strange things that are mentioned in the book description above? Yeah, buckle up for some hairpin twists and turns in "Because You're Mine". Even the title of the novel has its own double meaning.

Is it Jesus saying this to Alanna?  Or her captor?  Or someone else?  You'll just have to pick up a copy and read it to find out!  And now is the perfect time, because the Kindle version is on sale for $1.99!  From me, "Because You're Mine" gets my "Packs a Punch" mark of approval.

I received a complimentary copy of "Because You're Mine" from my friends at Zondervan, with no services or obligations promised in return.  So go get your copy, and then meet me back here for more great reading.  Until then...

Mark Your Place, 

Deena

Friday, May 19, 2017

Weaver's Needle by Robin Caroll




  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Shiloh Run Press; Gld edition (June 1, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 163409994X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1634099943

About the Book:

Two recovery specialists.
One murder.
A hunt for the Dutchman's Lost Gold Mine becomes a race of survival.

 
Former Army MP Landry Parker fell into the recovery specialist role quite by accident—to help her ailing father. Now that she’s on her own, she is determined to prove herself and honor her family legacy.

After being shot in the line of duty, former police officer Nickolai Baptiste became a recovery specialist, and he’s good at his job—maybe even the best.
           
A potential client pits Landry and Nickolai against one another to find the Dutchman’s Lost Gold Mine map that was stolen from her murdered husband, and the potential payday is too enticing to pass up. The trail takes them from New Orleans to Weaver’s Needle in Arizona where legend claims the mine is hidden. Landry and Nickolai are no strangers to adventure, but the unlikely partners quickly discover there’s someone after the treasure and there are those who want to ensure the lost mine in Arizona’s Superstition Mountain stays lost forever.

Can Landry and Nickolai work together despite their distrust of each other to save the legend before more innocent lives are lost? Will they find the real treasure isn’t the gold, but something more valuable. . .true love and understanding?


My Thoughts:

I had a few spare moments before bedtime last night and I thought to myself, "I'll just take a quick peek inside Robin Caroll's new novel."  Three hours later, I bleary-eyed my bedside lamp and turned it off and fell into a rather adventurous sleep.

To sum it up: no peek, just plow through--stay up way too late so you have baggy under-eyes--dream unusual dreams about finding treasures.

Yeah, I have severe book hangover today thanks to the superb "Weaver's Needle" and Robin Caroll. Part romantic adventure, part treasure hunt, part mystery, and part where you learn a lot about a culture that you would never have known about without Robin Caroll, "Weaver's Needle" tackles the legend of the "Dutchman's Gold Mine" hidden deep in the desert of Arizona.

Just typing that gave me a hot flash! (Arizona, not the gold mine!).  The story is engaging, the characters are complex and lively, and Caroll bravely asks the question that I'm certain many other believers have pondered:

Will/Can God use anything, even something that is by no means of Him, to accomplish His purposes? The easy answer is yes, He's God, He can do what He wants to do.  The more intricate answer?  It's found in the pages of "Weaver's Needle", and it's a timely answer.

That's why Caroll's "Weaver's Needle" gets my "Packs a Punch" with a hint of "For Such a Time" award.  Do NOT think you'll read a chapter or two and put this one down.  Well, you can think it, but good on you if you can actually do it.

I received a complimentary copy of "Weaver's Needle" from Shiloh Run Press with no services or obligations in return.  "Weaver's Needle" is available now, so go seek out a copy, because thar's treasure within them thar covers!

Until the next book comes my way...

Mark Your Place, 

Deena

Thursday, May 18, 2017

I'll Be There by Susan May Warren




  • File Size: 2094 KB
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: SDG Publishing (May 16, 2017)
  • Publication Date: May 16, 2017
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English

About the Book:

From a USA Today bestselling and RITA-award winning author, a novel uniting two beloved series:

Smokejumper Conner Young can't wait to marry the woman who's stood by him for three years as he fought fires in the forests of the northwest. The only wound in the weekend is the lack of his best man--a brother whose murder is still unsolved. It's unfinished business that haunts him, keeping him from truly moving on.

Liza Beaumont, long time Deep Haven artist is a survivor of a brutal grizzly attack. Struggling with nightmares, she's not sure she's ready to join Conner's world. He's a hero, yes, but his life is rife with danger and stress and frankly she's not sure she has the courage to be the wife of a man who may not come home again. 

When Liza's wedding invitation unearths a witness in his brother's murder, Conner's hope of solving the case is reignited. Suddenly, it's a choice between showing up to help Liza knit together their perfect day--or tracking down his brother's killer. But when his investigation finds its way to Deep Haven, and Liza's life is threatened, there may not be a wedding at all.

What happens when the smokejumpers from Montana Fire come to Deep Haven? Sparks, fire and hopefully...a happy ending.


My Thoughts:

I have committed myself to make it through an entire Susan May Warren book without one teardrop falling.  I doubt it will happen, but I'm going to give it my best effort.  For "I'll Be There", I almost BROKE my record for number of tears shed...and it is a NOVELLA!

Oh, my heart!

In "I'll Be There", Warren blends the two worlds we love: the very familiar Deep Haven and the new Montana Rescue series.  We finally reach the culmination of the love story of Conner and Eliza, with a few twists and turns along the way.  With Warren, the course of love does not EVER run smooth, but oh, the lessons we learn through these pages of fiction!

I really don't like doing this, because it's a bit like telling which of your children is your favorite.  I have a multitude of talented, gifted authors that I adore and are on my 'must read' list.  I love them so much I don't even have to know what their latest book is about, I just know I. Must. Read. It. Now.

But I have a bit of extra special love for Susan May Warren and her craft.  She just has a way of pulling things out of my soul that I didn't even know I had lodged in there, forcing me gently to look at them, and then nudging me to hand them over to the Father.  And she does it with finesse, laughter, insight, and imaginary people that I truly wish were real.


"I'll Be There" is an emotional, exciting reading experience, but be prepared with tissues in hand and your heart hammering away in your chest as you dive into her latest literary offering.  Personally?  I can barely wait for her next release, "A Matter of Trust", but "I'll Be There" definitely helped a bit with the waiting. Well, it would have if I hadn't plowed through the pages like a madwoman!

"I'll Be There" gets my "Oh, The Feels" award, and I purchased a digital copy from Amazon.com (currently this title is only available in electronic format).  Until the next book...

Mark Your Place, 

Deena

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Hideaway by Lauren K. Denton




  • File Size: 881 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 5 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (April 11, 2017)
  • Publication Date: April 11, 2017
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishing

About the Book:

When her grandmother’s will wrenches Sara back home, she learns more about Margaret Van Buren in the wake of her death than she ever knew in life.

After her last remaining family member dies, Sara Jenkins goes home to The Hideaway, her grandmother Mags’s ramshackle B&B in Sweet Bay, Alabama. She intends to quickly tie up loose ends then return to her busy life and thriving antique shop in New Orleans. Instead, she learns Mags has willed The Hideaway to her and charged her with renovating it—no small task considering her grandmother’s best friends, a motley crew of senior citizens, still live there.

Rather than hurrying back to New Orleans, Sara stays in Sweet Bay and begins the biggest house-rehabbing project of her career. Amid drywall dust, old memories, and a charming contractor, she discovers that slipping back into life at The Hideaway is easier than she expected.

Then she discovers a box Mags left in the attic with clues to a life Sara never imagined for her grandmother. With help from Mags’s friends, Sara begins to piece together the mysterious life of bravery, passion, and choices that changed her grandmother’s destiny in both marvelous and devastating ways.

When an opportunistic land developer threatens to seize The Hideaway, Sara is forced to make a choice—stay in Sweet Bay and fight for the house and the people she’s grown to love or leave again and return to her successful but solitary life in New Orleans.
My Thoughts:

I love, love, LOVE when I find a brand new, debut author!!  Lauren K. Denton is an outstanding storyteller, and her new novel, "The Hideaway" is a keeper!  One of my favorites of this year, and Denton breaks tradition with more family relationships and less romance.

From the cover to the content, I loved every moment spent with this book.  Sara and Mags, though separated by decades, are kindred souls.  It just takes remodeling the inn to reform the relationship she could have had with her grandmother.

Denton also paints a portrait of family that is exquisite.  Sara is alone, the final branch on her family tree; and yet she's not alone.  The people that surrounded her grandmother end up being her posse by the end of the tale.

Be prepared to pray for imaginary people!  When the unscrupulous developer comes calling, you'll want to take a swing at him and pray protection over Sara and her companions.  Losing The Hideaway would be losing her heart, and Denton drags you in page after page.

What a wonderful story.  I can't wait to read it one more time, and I'm giving "The Hideaway" my "Oh, The Feels!" award, and giving Lauren K. Denton my "One To Watch".  Keep your eye on this writer--greater things are yet to come--I can feel it in my bookmarks!

I received a free copy from the publisher and no services or opinions were given in exchange.

Mark Your Place,

Deena
 

Just One More Published @ 2014 by Ipietoon