BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour

Leaf Me Alone, #3 Relatively Speaking by Julie Cosgrove

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About the Book

Title: Leaf Me Alone

Series: Relatively Speaking, #3

Author: Julie B. Cosgrove

Publisher: Pursued Books, an imprint of White Integrity Press

Released: February 2020

A long lost child . . . and secrets that insist the lost remain lost!

Word spreads through town about the genealogy researches of Shannon, Bailey, and Jessica. So far, it’s been a fun hobby and an eye-opening experience as they helped to solve two murders. But when old Mrs. Perkins, their Bible study leader, wants to hire Shannon and her husband Jayden to find her long-lost nephew, the couple soon learns that moving forward along the Perkins family tree may leave them dangling out on a limb . . .
and someone is holding a saw!

 

My Review

“Who knew finding relatives could be so dangerous?”  Yikes. A dear older friend suddenly confides she has cancer and enters a hospice facility, but the patients at said facility are dying at an alarming rate. In the meantime, several friends risk their lives looking for a missing man.
I would recommend Julie Cosgrove and her Relatively Seeking Mysteries to other readers looking for a good mystery filled with lots of twists and surprises, plus faith and suspense. Leaf Me Alone is the first book I’ve read by Julie Cosgrove, but I am certain it won’t be the last.
I enjoyed the romance included between Shannon Johnson and her
husband, Jayden. So many times married people are not portrayed as still able to romance or appreciate each other.

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I liked the small, close-knit circle of friends Shannon has with her two sleuthing and Bible study pals, Bailey and Jess, with an 82 year-old mentor, Grace Perkins. The ladies enjoy, support and encourage each other. Mrs. Perkins wants Shannon and Jayden, with help from Shannon’s friends, to find her missing, wanted nephew before she dies.
I got a few cases of whiplash as the possible culprit changes many times. I was very disappointed in Bob’s character, whose actions just don’t jive with the rest of his what we see. Is that because we all stumble? Or did it just make for a better story? I felt like he had to be consistent across the board to be effective in his position that affected Manny, the long-lost nephew.
Now for the fun stuff I noticed.
”…her phone barked.” Oh, yes, Shannon runs a pet and plant care business. I loved how God used many coincidences, such as Shannon having to ride the bus to get to Florida, to bring about providential help. Someone has said,  “There are no coincidences. Only God-incidences.”

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And this quote. I love it. (I am forever talking about losing a file in my brain.) ”He pictured a minuscule elf inside her head flipping through files but unable to locate the right one.”
This second quote covers much of the book: ”To tell only half the truth is to give life to a new lie.”
One more quote that I love, because so many times we are praying for uncertain people doing uncertain things. How do we pray?  “Pray for the truth to be revealed and for God to take care of all concerned.”
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit. This does not affect my opinions, which are solely my own.

 

My Rating

4 Stars – I Would Happily Recommend This Book

 

About The Author

Freelance writer, award-winning author, and professional speaker, Julie B. Cosgrove leads religious retreats, workshops for churches and writer groups, and Bible studies. She writes regularly for several devotional publications and is on staff with Campus JCosgroveCrusades of Canada’s Power to Change digital ministry as editor and writer for The Life Project. Their websites help to lead thousands of people worldwide to know Christ, one mouse click at a time. Her own blog, Where Did You Find God Today? has readership in 52 countries.

 

Julie has published three Bible studies, a devotional, two inspirational guides, and has fifteen faith-based fiction novels published or contracted, including two cozy mysteries series, The Bunco Biddies Mysteries and the Relatively Seeking Mysteries. All can be viewed on her website: www.juliebcosgrove.com.

 

Awarded one of the 50 Writers You Should Be Reading by the Author’s Show in 2015 and 2016, and Best Religious Fiction 2016, Best Cozy Mystery 2017 by Texas Association of Authors, Julie was also an INSPY semi-finalist and a Grace Awards Finalist in 2016. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and the Christian Authors’ Network. She achieved the highest public speaking level in Toastmasters International, the Advanced Communication Gold, in 2015.

 

Bethany House, BLOG, NetGalley

The Bridge to Belle Island by Julie Klassen

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About the Book

Title: The Bridge to Belle Island

Author: Julie Klassen

Publisher: Bethany House

Released: December 2019

Genre: Christian Regency Mystery

After a humiliating mistake, lawyer Benjamin Booker resolves to never again trust a beautiful woman. When an old friend is killed, the senior partner isn’t satisfied with Bow Street’s efforts and asks Benjamin to investigate. Eager to leave London for a while, Benjamin agrees. Evidence takes him to a remote island on the Thames, a world unto itself, shrouded in mist and mystery. Soon he finds himself falling for the main suspect—a woman who claims not to have left the island in ten years. But should he trust her?

On Belle Island, Isabelle feels safe and leads a productive life, but fear keeps her trapped there. When Mr. Booker arrives with news of her trustee’s murder in London, Isabelle is stunned. She has not left the island, yet she has a recurring dream about the man’s death. Or is it a memory? She had been furious with him, but she never intended…this.

When a second person dies, and evidence shockingly points to her, Isabelle doesn’t know who to trust: the attractive lawyer or the admirer and friends who assemble on the island, each with grudges against the victim. Can she even trust her own mind? While they search for the truth, secrets come to light, and danger comes calling.

 

My Review

Julie Klassen presents quite the Regency mystery in Bridge to Belle Island, set in 1819. There are so many levels in which one can relate Klassen’s characters. We start with the hero, Benjamin Booker, a young attorney at a prestigious law firm. Booker is young and eager, but failing, afraid, and angry at his demanding father, who chooses to honor Ben’s brother over Ben. Booker has “adopted” his boss and mentor, Mr. Robert Hardy, one of the firm’s founders, as a “surrogate” father figure. Who can’t relate to failure or the fear of failure? How many of us, whether we had good parents or not, could not also point to at least one other adult who made significant contributions to our lives? Ben will need to decide about two loves… that of a certain lady, and whether his father should ever be given a chance to regain his trust and love again.
“There is no ‘WE’
Our other main character is the very capable, middle-aged spinster, Miss Isabelle Wilder. With her trustee dead, can she finally control her own life, as well as that of her niece, whom she helped raise? Will the old family curse visit Isabelle or will fear of it defeat her? With a bevy of possible suitors, who will she choose?
And, of course, the mystery itself. I love it. We start out with the death of Mr. Norris, Isabelle’s and Rose’s trustee, early on. It will take us a journey through the whole book, with many stops and multiple suspects, to finally discover the true mastermind behind Norris’s death. The novel carries a sense of Edgar Allen Poe, the Clue game, and Charles Dickens all rolled into one. What fun, except for a few times when things were so bleak I wanted to cry. About three-fourths the way through, the narrative lagged, but picked up and surged forward again.
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The faith message includes reminders of Philippians 4:6,7. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Faith in God, discernment of whom to trust, and forgiveness are themes in this novel full of twists.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher through NetGalley.
This in no way affects my opinions, which are solely my own.

My Rating

4 Stars – Excellent- I Would Gladly Recommend It!

About the Author 928415

Julie Klassen loves all things Jane—Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. Three of her books, The Silent GovernessThe Girl in the Gatehouse, and The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. She has also won the Midwest Book Award, the Minnesota Book Award, and Christian Retailing’s BEST Award, and been a finalist in the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Awards and ACFW’s Carol Awards. She blogs at http://www.inspiredbylifeandfiction.com.
Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota.

 

 

 

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour

Home on Huckleberry Hill, #9 The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill by Jennifer Beckstrand

 

Home on Huckleberry HillAbout the Book

Title: Home on Huckleberry Hill

Series: #9, The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill

Author: Jennifer Beckstrand

Publisher: Zebra Press

Released: June 2018

Huckleberry Hill, Wisconsin’s irrepressible eighty-something matchmakers Anna and Felty Helmuth are at it again. And this time they’re willing to rough it to get the job done . . .
 
Mary Anne Neuenschwander knows she should be content with what Gotte has given her. She has a comfortable house, a fruitful farm, and a good, steady husband. But after nearly six years of marriage, she still longs for a baby. Yet her husband, Jethro, seems to care more about fishing than about his wife. Unable to bear Jethro’s indifference, Mary Anne moves into a tent in the woods where he won’t have to be bothered. But when her mammi and dawdi find out what she’s done, they’ll stop at nothing—including a little camping trip of their own—to help save their granddaughter’s marriage . . .

Jethro’s greatest blessing is his beloved wife, Mary Anne. Nothing else in his life has turned out anywhere near the way he expected. Rather than burden Mary Anne with his disappointment, he shields her by spending less and less time at home and more time on the river. But when he finds that she’s moved out, he’s shocked. What will people think? What is Mary Anne thinking? And what clever plans are her grandparents hatching?…

Get your copy here.

 

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My Review

One good Jennifer Beckstrand deserves another. Or 10, as this series, The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill proves. While Home on Huckleberry Hill is my first Huckleberry Hill book, the book stood alone great. Home on Huckleberry Hill, #9 in the series, is a hilarious look at a serious problem. One that a good Amish couple would never, ever have.
Starting with Mary Anne’s octogenarian grandparents, you will be doubling over in laughter by the first page. Ah, the dirty secrets of the Amish.
Mary Anne certainly has one. After a miscarriage four years ago, she has grown so estranged from her husband, Jethro, that she wants a divorce. But, of course, there is no such thing in the Amish church.
Mary Anne creatively finds a way to escape Jethro’s overbearing ways.
If only she could keep her decision between her and Jethro. No such luck. “Gossip traveled faster than a runaway horse in Amish country, but it seemingly traveled like lightning in an Amish grocery store.”As I read this book, it was easy to reflect on the early years of my marriage, and even selfish moments since. Who gives in? Who declares themselves wrong? Who steps up to the plate and magnanimously, truly, forgives and moves forward?

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I loved Mary Anne’s mammi and dawdi, but after a while, I did want to tell them to stop insulting Jethro by name-calling. I was half-afraid that, though Jethro had indeed ignored his wife, the whole burden of the failed marriage would land solely on him. Ack! Jethro’s family! Especially his mamm and his brother, Willie Jay.
“Willie Jay had no idea how entertaining he was from a distance.” But up close he’s a terror of a sermon. As the bishop put it so well (and I hope we see more of him in the other books), “I can’t make anybody do anything, and I wouldn’t want to. Gotte will force no man to heaven.” But will Jethro use the Scriptures to force Mary Anne back to him? Or will he finally look at himself and say, “Is it I” causing the problems? Will Mary Anne hold out forever or will she tear down some walls and forgive?

Homeon Huckelberry Hill
If you haven’t read Beckstrand before, you’re in for a treat. Her sense of humor is hilarious and inventive. And you will feel like you’ve grown with the characters along the way.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author through Celebrate Lit. This does not affect my opinions, which are solely my own.

My Rating

4 Stars- Excellent

 

About the Author

Jennifer Beckstrand is the two-time RITA-nominated, #1 Amazon bestselling Amish romance author of The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series, The Honeybee Sisters series, and The Petersheim Brothers series for Kensington Books. Huckleberry Summer and Home on Huckleberry Hill were both nominated for the coveted RITA® Award from Romance Writers of America. Jennifer has always been drawn to the strong faith and the enduring family ties of the Plain people and loves writing about the antics of Anna and Felty Helmuth, the Honeybee sisters’ aendi Bitsy, and Alfie and Benji Petersheim. Jennifer has written twenty-two Amish romances, a historical Western, and the nonfiction book, Big Ideas. Jennifer is represented by Nicole Resciniti of the Seymour Agency. She and her husband have been married for thirty-five years, and she has six children and eight adorable grandchildren, whom she spoils rotten.

Connect with Jennifer on social media.

Website: http://www.jenniferbeckstrand.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jenniferbeckstrandfans

Twitter: @JenniferBeckst1

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jennifergbeckst/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Jennifer-Beckstrand/e/B0073GHCOG/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1488910908&sr=8-2-ent

Instagram: j.beckstrand

Bookbub: @JenniferBeckstrand https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jennifer-beckstrand

Jennifer

BLOG, NetGalley, Revell

Out of the Embers, #1 Mesquite Springs by Amanda Cabot

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About the Book

Title: Out of the Embers

Series: Mesquite Springs

Author: Amanda Cabot

Publisher: Revell

Released: March 2020

Genre: Historical Romance

Ten years after her parents were killed, Evelyn Radcliffe is once more homeless. The orphanage that was her refuge and later her workplace has burned to the ground, and only she and a young orphan girl have escaped. Convinced this must be related to her parents’ murders, Evelyn flees with the girl to Mesquite Springs in the Texas Hill Country and finds refuge in the home of Wyatt Clark, a talented horse rancher whose plans don’t include a family of his own.

At first, Evelyn is a distraction. But when it becomes clear that trouble has followed her to Mesquite Springs, she becomes a full-blown disruption. Can Wyatt keep her safe from the man who wants her dead? And will his own plans become collateral damage?

Suspenseful and sweetly romantic, Out of the Embers is the first in a new series that invites you to the Texas Hill Country in the 1850s when the West was wild, the men were noble, and the women were strong.

My Review

There’s just something magnetic about a light romantic tale from the Old West. Add some mystery and suspense and you have the ingredients for a very enjoyable read by Amanda Cabot, Out of the Embers.
Evelyn Radcliffe and young Polly escape the orphanage fire that is deliberately set. How far must they run to find a new, secure life?
Evelyn is a very mature, loyal young woman who will do anything to protect those she loves. Her “adoption” of Polly proves how unselfish she is. I liked how her unselfish helping at the Circle C eventually leads to her dream future. But the path to get there is rocky.
Wyatt Clark is quickly interested in the young woman who comes to stay at the Circle C. However, the facts aren’t building a truthful foundation for a friendship, let alone anything more. Wyatt is a very responsible and caring individual who puts others above himself, as well. Which is why he is still present on the Circle C, a place he longs to leave. I love that Wyatt is not afraid to accept help and that he also listens to the voice of reason. These qualities go far in any relationship, be it friendship or love. Eventually, we see the far-reaching effects of lives lived for others.
I am not as impressed with Polly, the child in this novel. However, she does seem to act true to her identity.
Unless he shows up again in future books and bigger roles, I was unimpressed with the story thread of “the Watcher.” You’ll have to read the book to see if you agree. You may form a totally different opinion, which makes writing and reading these reviews fun. You get to read the actual text, write a review, then see what other readers think.
One thing I know. I got a sneak peek at a few pages of the next book, and I am anxious to read the next volume, Dorothy and Brandon’s story.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell through NetGalley. This did not influence my opinions, which are solely my own.

My Rating

4 Stars – Excellent- I Gladly Recommend This Book

About the Author

1609844With both parents avid readers, it’s no surprise that Amanda Cabot learned to read at an early age. From there it was only a small step to deciding to become a writer. Of course, deciding and becoming are two different things, as she soon discovered. Fortunately for the world, her first attempts at fiction were not published, but she did meet her goal of selling a novel by her thirtieth birthday. Since then she’s sold more than thirty-five novels. When she’s not writing, Amanda enjoys sewing, cooking and – of course – reading. Follow Amanda’s writing on her website, http://www.amandacabot.com/

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, Kensington, NetGalley

Hannah’s Courage by Molly Jebber Celebrate Lit Tour with Giveaway

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About the Book

Book:  Hannah’s Courage

Author: Molly Jebber5-30-3019-Hannahs-Courage-FROM-Kensington-180x300

Genre:  Amish Historical Romance

Release Date: January 28, 2020

A loaf of fragrant cinnamon bread for breakfast . . . a sweet and creamy custard pie for dessert. In 1912 Ohio, the Amish Charm Bakery has something to delight locals and visiting Englischer alike. And within this warm, welcoming community, there’s always room for love to grow . . .

Hannah Lapp’s life, like a long-cherished recipe, is satisfying just the way it is. She enjoys whipping up desserts at the bakery, tutoring local children, and socializing with dear friends. One of those friends, Timothy Barkman, has made his interest in Hannah clear, but she’s been in no hurry to change her circumstances.

No sooner does she feel ready to grow closer to hard-working, handsome Timothy than Hannah finds she may have waited too long. Charlene Shetler intends to become Timothy’s fraa. It’s little wonder he’s attracted to such a pretty, forthright young woman, but is the newcomer all that she seems? Only when Hannah is willing to confront some difficult truths can she move bravely toward a life of abiding faith and love . . .

 

Click here to get your copy!

 

My Review

Hannah’s Courage by Molly Jebber is a cute, Amish romance with a love triangle that confounds me.
Hannah Lapp works in a bakery with Ellie and Magdalena, and eventually a few others. The relationships we see there are warm and energizing. If you wouldn’t want to work in Liza’s Bakery, you would at least want to make it a daily stop, like Sheriff Williams and Dr. Harrison. These older mid-life men are fun secondary characters, adding breadth to the story.

Hannah's Courage 2
No one but Timothy Barkman is going to like Charlene. At first, helping a newcomer to the area, he finds she attaches stronger than a hungry flea. Unfortunately, she’s rude and rotten to the core. (Ellie likes to call Charlene “Miss Nasty.”) Everyone but Timothy can see Charlene’s bad personality, and I’m left thinking, ”Can even a person in love be this blind?!” Charlene fails to consider Timothy’s wishes and requests about her forward behavior.

Hannah's Courage 1
As a former teacher, the book both delighted and dismayed me. These reactions had to do with Hannah and the course of actions she took. I can’t say more without spoilers.
What unimpressed me? The story moseyed a little slower than I would have liked. I wished the novel would have had a little more substance. Also, I felt like there was one possible loose end that loomed over most of the book and then quietly disappeared.
Why would I want to read more? The relationships in the bakery mentioned earlier. Maryann is a person that enters the book early on. By the end, I am intrigued enough that I will look for the next book by Molly Jebber to read her story.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher. This does not influence my opinions. I am voluntarily leaving my thoughts, for which I am solely responsible.

 

My Rating

4 Stars – Excellent – I Would Recommend This Book

About the Author

Molly Jebber’s Amish Historical Romance books have been featured on Publisher’s Weekly’s Best Ten Recommended Reads, in USA Today’s HEA, Romantic Times and many Molly-Jebber-268x300other media sites. She’s tours and speaks for Stonecroft Ministries – Women’s Christian Connection, and about Amish history/traditions, writing, marketing, publishing, and her books. She loves God, her family, and friends. She enjoys swimming, golf, reading, and says yes to butterscotch pie and parasailing, but no to coconut and skydiving! Visit http://www.mollyjebber.com for a complete list of her books and speaking events.

 

More from Molly

I related to Hannah in this book where I had to find the courage to make some hard decisions. Maybe you’ve had some hard choices to make and finding the courage to follow through has been difficult for you.

Have you had a bad day where nothing goes right? We’ve all had those. Hannah’s has many days like this, and she is torn about what to do from one problem to the next in her life. She makes some snap decisions, and faces life-altering challenges. You’ll laugh and want to stomp your feet at the twists and turns in this story.  She’s good at giving her friends advice, but has trouble following it. I can relate to this in my life at times. Maybe you can too.

The Sheriff and Dr. Harrison are still regular customers at the bakery where she whips up mouth-watering desserts. She and her friends cry, laugh, and offer each other advice. I love time with girlfriends, and Hannah’s no different. You’ll relate to her, root for her, want to reach in the book and shake her at times (I’m sure my friends have wanted to do this with me a time or two!), and wonder how what the future holds for her.

I hope you’ll follow my blog tour and enter for a chance to win the Grand Prize at the end of the tour. The more you enter, the more chances you have of winning!

Thank you so much for your support and encouragement. Your Facebook comments help me to get to know you better, and I appreciate it so much!

 

Here’s a recipe Hannah’s whipped up for you. And there are more in the back of Hannah’s story.

 

Cake

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ¾ teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoonnutmeg
  • ½ teaspoonsalt
  • 1 ¼ cups vegetable oil
  • 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cupbrown sugar
  • 3eggs
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
  • 3large apples, peeled and cut into large pieced

Glaze

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • ¼ teaspoonvanilla

 

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease 9 x 13 pan with butter and coat with 2 tablespoons of flour
  2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Sift two additional times and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine oil and both sugars, and mix until well blended.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Add vanilla and mix again.
  5. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the batter and mix thoroughly. By hand, fold in apples and walnuts and mix until evenly combined.
  6. Spoon the batter into the prepared bundt pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  7. Remove cake from the oven and allow to cool in the bundt pan for 20 minutes.
  8. While the cake is cooling, prepare the glaze. In a saucepan, over medium heat, combine all of the glaze ingredients. Bring to a boil and allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute.
  9. Remove the cake from the pan, onto a serving plate. Spoon the glaze over the warm cake.
  10. Cool for a little longer before serving.

Blog Stops

The Avid Reader, January 30

Genesis 5020, January 30

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 31

Texas Book-aholic, January 31

Batya’s Bits, February 1

Quiet Quilter, February 1

She Lives to Read, February 2

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, February 2

Bigreadersite , February 3

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, February 3

For Him and My Family, February 4

deb’s Book Review, February 4

Inklings and notions, February 5

Jeanette’s Thoughts, February 5

Pause for Tales, February 5

Older & Smarter?, February 6

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, February 6

Blossoms and Blessings, February 7

Lighthouse Academy Blog, February 7 (Guest Review from Marilyn Ridgway)

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, February 8

Christian Bookaholic, February 8

For the Love of Literature, February 9

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 9

SusanLovesBooks, February 10

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, February 10

Connie’s History Classroom, February 11

SPLASHES of Joy , February 11

Locks, Hooks and Books, February 12

Vicky Sluiter, February 12

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Molly is giving away a Molly Jebber grand prize collection that includes a handmade quilt and Amazon card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/f564/hannah-s-courage-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

 

 

BLOG, NetGalley, Thomas Nelson

Synapse by Steven James

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About the Book

Title: Synapse

Author: Steven James

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Released: October 2019

Genre:  Christian Speculative, Sci-fi

Thirty years in the future, when AI is so advanced that humans live side by side with cognizant robots called Artificials, Kestrel Hathaway must come to terms not just with what machines know, but with what they believe.

Soon after experiencing a personal tragedy, Kestrel witnesses a terrorist attack and is drawn into a world of conspiracies and lies that she and Jordan, her Artificial, have to untangle. With a second, more brutal attack looming on the horizon, their best chance of stopping it is teaming up with federal counterterrorism agent Nick Vernon.

But the clock is ticking—and all the while, Jordan is asking questions Artificials were never meant to ask.

My Review

When I finished, I am reminded why I am drawn to speculative/sci-fi fiction. Being written from a Christian viewpoint, I like the conclusions better than those of a secular book. Steven James packs a lot of solid Biblical truth into Synapse and utilizes key story threads to do so. The lack of bad language or bedroom scenes is a real plus for me!
Synapse 1
I enjoyed seeing how James develops the characters of Kestral, Jordan, Nick, and Trevor. Interestingly enough, ALL of them show growth. You’ll have to read the book to see why that’s an ironic statement. The action really accelerated near the end. I love to be surprised by who some of the villains and allies are, and this book did not disappoint.
It did take me a while to get into the book, as James uses different point-of-views and even tenses for each character. Switching out of third-person past to the first-person present and back again was not comfortable for me. There were spots where James felt it appropriate to write the text all next to each other, with no breaks for words. These spots could be a paragraph long, and unfortunately, I was also fighting off dizziness the day I read this part, so I was doubly dismayed. All in all, though, I did enjoy the book. It came together well in the end. I would read another of Steven James’s novels and see where he takes mankind.
Synapse 2
I was given a complimentary copy of this book by the author and publisher. This does not affect my opinions, for which I am solely responsible.

My Rating

4 Stars – Excellent – I Would Recommend This Book

 

About the Author

Steven James is a national bestselling novelist whose award-winning, pulse-pounding thrillers continue to gain wide critical acclaim and a growing fan base.

His latest novel, SYNAPSE, a near-future thriller, is set to release on October 8, 2019.

Suspense Magazine, who named Steven’s book EVERY WICKED MAN one of their “Best Books of 2018,” says that he “sets the new standard in suspense writing.” Publishers Weekly calls him a “master storyteller at the peak of his game,” and RT Book Reviews promises that “the nail-biting suspense will rivet you.”

Steven deftly weaves intense stories of psychological suspense with deep philosophical insights. As critically-acclaimed novelist Ann Tatlock put it, “Steven James gives us a captivating look at the fine line between good and evil in the human heart.”

Equipped with a unique Master’s Degree in Storytelling, he has taught writing and storytelling on four continents over the past two decades and has spoken more than two thousand times at events spanning the globe.

Steven’s groundbreaking books on the art of fiction writing, STORY TRUMPS STRUCTURE and TROUBLESHOOTING YOUR NOVEL, have both won Storytelling World Awards. Widely recognized for his story-crafting expertise, he teaches regularly as a Master Class instructor at ThrillerFest, North America’s premier training event for suspense writers. He also hosts the biweekly podcast, The Story Blender.

When Steven isn’t writing or speaking, you’ll find him trail running, rock climbing, or drinking dark roast coffee near his home in East Tennessee.

Barbour, BLOG, NetGalley

The Rebel Bride, #10 Daughters of the Mayflower by Shannon McNear

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About the Book

Title: The Rebel Bride

Series: The Daughters of the Mayflower

Author: Shannon McNear

Publisher: Barbour

Released: December 2019

During the clash between Union and Confederacy, quiet Tennessean Pearl MacFarlane is compelled to nurse both Rebel and Yankee wounded who seek refuge at her family’s farm. She is determined to remain unmoved by the Yankee cause—until she faces the silent struggle of Union soldier Joshua Wheeler, a recent amputee. The MacFarlane family fits no stereotype Joshua believed in; still, he is desperate to regain his footing—as a soldier, as a man, as a Christian—in the aftermath of his debilitating injury. He will use his time behind enemy lines to gather useful intelligence for the Union—if the courageous Rebel woman will stay out of the line of danger.

Join the adventure as the Daughters of the Mayflower series continues with The Rebel Bride by Shannon McNear.

More in the Daughters of the Mayflower series:
The Mayflower Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1620 Atlantic Ocean (February 2018)
The Pirate Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo – set 1725 New Orleans (April 2018)
The Captured Bride by Michelle Griep – set 1760 during the French and Indian War (June 2018)
The Patriot Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1774 Philadelphia (August 2018)
The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear – set 1794 on the Wilderness Road (October 2018)
The Liberty Bride by MaryLu Tyndall – set 1814 Baltimore (December 2018)
The Alamo Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo – set 1836 Texas (February 2019)
The Golden Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1849 San Francisco (April 2019)
The Express Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1860 Utah (July 2019)
The Rebel Bride by Shannon McNear – set 1863 Tennessee (December 2019)
The Blizzard Bride by Susanne Dietze – set 1888 Nebraska (February 2020)
The Chisholm Trail Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo – (April 2020)

My Review

I was really looking forward to this book after reading an earlier Daughters of the Mayflower novel by Shannon McNear. While her previous book brought to mind authors such as Laura Frantz, Michelle Griep, or Jocelyn Green; The Rebel Bride fights for its place in a full field of Civil War novels. It alternately is compelling and then more of a textbook. The first sign of struggle is when the author, Shannon McNear, pens a very cautious “note from the author.” While I was impressed McNear wants me to follow her way of thinking, I did not feel she came across as confident in her ability to convince me.

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The storyline itself was sound and seemed at times strong, at other times weaker. A Sergeant from the Union Army, Joshua Wheeler, has had an arm amputated. He finds himself and several other very ill, POW Union soldiers billeted in a humble house in Georgia, following the Battle of Chickamauga. Pearl McFarlane, on the other hand, is the one pressed into caring for these grievously ill enemies. Can she handle the events God allows into her life around this time?
I liked the secondary characters that McNear factored into the story.
A father who is progressing through dementia; a wandering, curiously absent brother when work needs doing; and a shunned sister-in-law.
There were times the narrative shone, but it just didn’t flow smoothly, consistently, as I would have liked.

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The author’s ending note was quite long and a little off-putting because of said length. In retrospect, I believe there may have been too much information the author wanted to share, and the pressure of that came across in the written page. Please remember this is only my opinion and others, including yourself, may see the book quite differently.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley, which in no way influenced my opinions.

My Rating

4 Stars – Excellent – I Would Recommend This Book.

About the Author

6880909Shannon has been writing one thing or another since third grade and finished her first novel at age fifteen—but waited more than thirty years for her first book contract. In the meantime, she graduated from high school, attended college, met and married her husband, birthed nine children, lost one, taught five to drive, revised that first story innumerable times, and completed six others.

Her first published novella, Defending Truth, in A Pioneer Christmas Collection (Barbour, 2013 & 2015), was a 2014 RITA® nominee. She writes regularly for Colonial Quills, is a member of ACFW and RWA, and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.

Transplanted to North Dakota after more than two decades in Charleston, South Carolina, she loves losing herself in local history. When this homeschooling mom isn’t sewing, researching, or leaking story from her fingertips, she enjoys being outdoors, basking in the beauty of the northern prairies.

Connect with Shannon online at https://www.shannonmcnear.com/ or on Twitter @ShannonMcNear.