Recently, I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing two books for Today's Christian Entertainment (todayschristianent.com): Matthew West's Hello My Name Is: Discover Your True Identity (http://todayschristianent.com/book-review-matthew-west-hello-my-name-is-discovering-your-true-identity/) and Stu Garrard's Words From The Hill: An Invitation To The Unexpected. (http://todayschristianent.com/book-review-stu-garrard-words-from-the-hill-an-invitation-to-the-unexpected/). Check them out!
What's it like to have your whole life defined by an incident you can barely remember? Homicide detective Abby Hart has been haunted for twenty seven years by the restaurant fire that made her an orphan. Though the case has gone cold, she has made it her mission to get justice for her parents and answers to the questions that have haunted her throughout her life. This is the premise of Janice Cantore's Cold Case Justice series, which I recently got to read all the way through after winning copies of all three books in the series (and a mug, which I haven't used yet). Before reading this series, I'd only ever read the first book of Cantore's "Pacific Coast Justice" series, Accused via the library. Now I just might have to read the other two. :)
The first time we see Abby in action, she arrives at the scene of an elderly woman's murder, where she meets Luke Murphy, the private investigator who witnessed the killer escaping. Surprisingly, he also has a connection to her parent's case; his uncle died in the same fire saving then six-year old Abby. While she has some initial reservations about working with him (namely, the fact that she's interested in him, despite already being in a relationship), they eventually join forces in an effort to close the case once and for all.
Both characters also carry burdens from the past; Abby is consumed to the point of near obsession over her parents death, while Luke, a widower, harbors guilt about the accident that killed his wife and injured his daughter. As flawed human beings in need of grace, they both have lessons to learn as their lives are drawn together.
What I like about these books is that they feel like episodes of a television series; woven throughout the underlying story arc about the fire investigation are other criminal cases to be solved, such as the disappearance of a teenage girl, or a fugitive husband who killed his sons and left his wife crippled. The faith element can't be overlooked, either; time and again, God's presence provides guidance amid confusion, speaks truth to lies, and points to the promise of redemption and new beginnings. I even found myself feeling sorry for one character who was involved in the subsequent cover up, hoping they would change their heart.
If you're looking for an action-packed series that blends themes of redemption, grace, and healing with suspenseful police drama and stirrings of romance, "Cold Case Justice" is definitely up your alley. Clear some time in your day and hold on tight; they're perfect for binge-reading.
Recently, I enjoyed reading Poets and Saints, a book that was released in conjunction with the album of the same name by All Sons and Daughters. You can read what I had to say about it here: todayschristianent.com/jamie-george-poets-and-saints/
Imagine that the next knock on your door belongs to a law enforcement official who brings the news that you've been targeted by a killer and you have to leave home now. What thoughts might run through your head? Undoubtedly, you'd be reeling from the revelation and the upheaval, especially if it's not the first time you've been victimized by a would-be killer.
That's the premise of Jordyn Redwood's latest "Love Inspired® Suspense" novel Fractured Memory. Julia Galloway lost so much the night she was attacked by a serial killer known as "The Hangman"; her memory of the event and the days that followed, her security, her parents, who perished on the way to the hospital to see her the day she was nearly murdered. It's not surprising, then, that this latest development sends her into a tailspin emotionally.
Meanwhile, US Marshal Eli Cayne, the cop who found her then and helped her recover, is the one who delivers the bad news to her. Struggling with the attachment he formed to her (unbeknownst to her), he weighs his feelings for her against his obligations as a marshal to not get too emotionally involved in the case. Naturally, they develop a relationship forged by the many perilous scenarios they find themselves in. (It wouldn't be a "Love Inspired ®" book if they didn't.)
From the beginning, the story goes into overdrive, as the two protagonists are thrust into one potentially deadly situation after another. There are also plenty of opportunities for Julia, a pediatric nurse (as is the author), to utilize her medical expertise or relate events in the story to her past patients. The apparently gorgeous Colorado landscape (I wouldn't know; I've never left my home province of Ontario) provides the perfect backdrop for danger and romance both. Faith also plays an important part in the character's lives; God is an ever-present source of strength for them when they call upon Him.
Regrettably, I have a confession to make; I knew who done it (or rather, who was going to done it) almost immediately; several hints dropped throughout were easy to follow. That doesn't usually happen with me, and I'm unsure whether that's a common feature of a lot of these short novels or just this one. So that kind of took the wind out of my sails. But aside from that, it made an enjoyable read; I started and finished it in one afternoon.
Jordyn Redwood cleverly juggles a myriad of twists and turns to paint a picture of the kind of healing and hope we can find in God and each other when we begin to trust again. Fractured Memory reopens old wounds with a crisis and sees it through to the end.
***Note: For some reason, this review was never posted. It's nearly two years old! Sorry!***
I won this book when Howard Books was doing a giveaway. They let me choose two from a list, and boy am I glad this was one of the two! The premise is intriguing; a young doctor haunted by the mysterious disappearance of her mother when she was a child, makes a tragic error that leaves her guilt-ridden and doubting herself. After receiving a strange letter from her father, who believes he has seen her mother, Lisbeth Hastings travels to the dig site where it all happened. There, she touches a cave painting and falls into a cistern, waking up back in 3rd century Carthage. (near what is now Tunis). She winds up in a slave market, purchased by a man whose recent secret conversion to Christianity motivates him to save slaves from being purchased by less savory individuals.
As it turns out, she may have arrived for "such a time as this" - not only is a mysterious epidemic sweeping the city, but her master, Cyprian Thascius, is in need of a wife to further his goals of helping to change the society he lives in for the better. Furthermore, the simple faith and loving kindness demonstrated to her by the Christians she meets are starting to change her impressions of God, too. And just when you thought it couldn't get any more interesting, guess who rematerializes, bent on a mission to bring down an evil man?
Healer Of Carthage is rich with details of actual history and tantalizing what-ifs; what if God bent time and space to bring about His will? What if we literally can get second chances to fix our mistakes? What if love is possible unconfined by linear time? I'm looking forward to the second book in The Carthage Chronicles, Return to Exile already. You will fall in love with some characters and despise others, but most of all, you will applaud the bravery of our noble protagonists. Healer Of Carthage is the beginning of a heart-pounding adventure that promises to get even better.
I was pleasantly surprised to receive this book in the mail recently, and read it as soon as I could. Here's the scoop.
Wynter Evans' life has been defined by her 7 year old brother's mysterious disappearance several years ago. A news reporter who's on her way up at the Missouri station where she works, she's tried unsuccessfully to move on from that one moment where everything fell apart. If only she had the answers she needed....
When a friend shows her some photographs for a feature she's working on, Wynter is stunned to see a Mennonite boy who clearly resembles her brother. Certain that the town of Sanctuary may hold the missing piece of her family, she sets out on a quest for the truth. What she doesn't know is that the mystery goes further back, to the date of her own birth.....and that her future may be waiting for her in Sanctuary, too. Not to mention that somebody would like nothing better than to keep her from finding out anything.
Nancy always creates characters you'd love to know, and Gathering Shadows is no exception. Whether it's a snarky photographer with a surprisingly soft heart, a mayor-slash-mediator-slash-farmer-slash-love interest, or a sweet lonely old Mennonite lady with the gift of hospitality, this read is full of twists and turns and a few pleasant stops along the way. This is the first book in a series, and even references her previous "Road To Kingdom" series in a couple of places, although unlike Kingdom, the citizens of Sanctuary are more religiously diverse. I'm eager to see who will be the next main characters in book 2. Sanctuary's secrets won't stay that way for long.....
I'm always on the lookout for more good books, and when I was searching Amish books on the library catalogue, boy did I find one! This is the first book in Jennifer Beckstrand's "The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill" series, and from the first page, I was charmed by the love between the series title's couple, Anna and Felty Helmuth, a long married husband and wife who try to find a wife for their grandson Moses.
The woman they pick? Lia Shetler, a sweet Amish girl who's too tall for most of the boys in her community. A girl who wants to be a midwife and bring new life into the world. And she bakes a mean pie, too. Ever since her younger sister Rachel nearly died because of her, she's felt unloved, destined to be a spinster. Rachel, on the other hand? Anything she wants, her father makes sure she gets, and everybody else better, too, or else. Needless to say, she's a spoiled brat. Problem is, she's decided she wants Moses. But Lia is already smitten.
Moses has problems of his own. See, he's not looking to marry either of them. His last girlfriend left the Amish way of life but promised to come back. He feels he's the only the holding her to her roots. But Lia is so beautiful and kind......what to do? Remain loyal to the past or move forward into future? And how to keep the manipulative and cunning flirt Rachel from breaking her heart over the first boy who actually rejected her? You can see the quandary he's in.
From start to finish, Huckleberry Hill is an endearing, sweet book full of twists and turns and mouthwatering/indigestion-inducing food. While I'm not sure how accurately it portrays Amish life, you'll be hooked by the characters and the story. I'm really looking forward to the next books in the series.
As a fan of Christian music and an aspiring songwriter myself, I love reading books by my favorite artists that offer insight into the inspiration behind their songs. So I got this book for Christmas and finally got around to reading it this week (library books have due dates and must come first). Every time I read a book like this, I go through a period of wanting my faith walk to be that deep, until life gets in the way. (I really hope that doesn't happen this time!)
Jeremy Camp tells the story of his life, from his humble beginnings in poverty, where he shares all the awesome ways God provided for his family, to his choice to follow Jesus wholeheartedly. From his first stirrings of interest in music to the moment he met his future first wife, Melissa. From her tragic diagnosis with cancer and the deep faith she displayed to the end of her short life and Jeremy's enormous grief. From God's healing of his heart through the song that lent its title to the book to meeting and marrying his second wife, Adie, and having 2 daughters and a son with her.
Camp's story is one filled with grace and mercy directly from the hand of God. You will hear how this artist whose songs are beloved by many originally seemed headed for a career in football. How this deeply devoted Christ follower was heading off the rails as a teenager before God pulled him back. Jeremy tells his story in an honest, intimate way as though he were telling you personally how he felt. You will be encouraged and reminded of God's faithfulness in trials both small and immense.
I would recommend this book to anybody who needs a dose of encouragement and wisdom. If you're looking to deepen your walk with God, he offers an example of what that looks like in someone's life. Since reading this, I've been listening to his songs again lately too.
Imagine a future where a select few scientists have seen the destructiveness of human emotion. Faced with the loss of nearly all of humanity, they vowed to create a society where such complicated interactions and emotions are impossible. Or are they? I don't usually read youth fiction, but the premise of Krista McGee's new series was irresistible. I've heard of books like The Hunger Games and the Divergent series (who hasn't?) but this offered a crucial piece (literally) that was missing from these dystopian teen future novels; hope through a remnant of faith in the One True God.
The main character, Thalli (named after the element Thallium) was created to be the Musician of her Pod, the isolated living quarters of her generation. She was designed without flaw by the scientists to serve her purpose and better the lives of her Pod members. But all her life, she's been hiding a secret that could get her "annihilated"; Thalli is curious and emotional. Her secret is revealed when she's asked to play an old piece of music on her violin; "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring". It is then that Thalli has her first encounter with God, although she doesn't recognize it for what it is.
Exposed after 17 years, she is scheduled to die until an old friend, Berk, a Scientist himself, suggests she be studied instead. This launches Thalli's quest for true freedom, and leads to an encounter with an old man who may be the last believer in Christ left. Thalli discovers that God designed her for a purpose beyond what any scientist planned for her life and that He loves her very much.
I found myself enjoying Anomaly immensely and rooting for the characters throughout. It is a rare bird in its genre - not only because it offers the hope after death lacking in other youth books of its type but because it points to God himself, not a version of God as books like Narnia do. And while I can't see how the events in the book fit into any future prophecy timelines of the end times, it has just the right amount of drama, reality distortion and sweet love to satisfy readers. I look forward to the next two books in this series.
Haven't posted on here in over a month, but it's not from lack of reading! Today I direct you to an awesome site I review music (and the occasional book by a musician) for - Christian Music Review! You can read my reviews there as well as those of others. Recently I read Mark Hall's new book, Thrive and I loved it. Mark has a way of expressing himself that invites us to draw closer to the will of God. If you want to read my review of Thrive, you can do so by clicking on this link: http://christianmusicreview.org/thrive-digging-deep-reaching-out-mark-hall/
May God bless you richly through this book and others.
I love Christian fiction and music. Spending lots of time at my local library on the computer, suggesting books they should buy and keeping up to date on what's coming out. I am a reviewer for Today's Christian Entertainment (TCE), an epileptic, and I love God with all my heart.