Thursday, June 30, 2016

Review: Silence in the Dark

Silence in the Dark
By Patricia Bradley
Logan Point, #4
Revell, 2016


Bailey Adams is running for her life . . . again.

When Bailey Adams left Logan Point two years ago she thought she was getting away from her problems. Running into her ex-fiancé Danny Maxwell was not part of the plan--neither was being chased through the city by the local drug cartel, the Calatrava. Now despite her best efforts, Danny is her only chance of escaping the people chasing her and getting back to Logan Point safely. Can Bailey find the strength to face what's coming? And in the midst of the chaos, can she keep herself from falling in love with her rescuer all over again?

With lean, fast-paced prose that will keep you turning the pages, Patricia Bradley pens a superb story of suspense and second chances.

My thoughts

I’m not a huge fan of romantic suspense, but Patricia Bradley’s novels are must reads for me. While having plenty of action and suspense, Silence in the Dark didn’t exceed my tolerance level for these elements. It was the southern setting of Logan Point, Mississippi that initially drew me to this series, and I have greatly enjoyed each story. In addition to tight writing, interesting storyline and sweet romance, the characters are richly drawn and spiritual themes are seamlessly woven throughout.

Danny and Bailey are likeable characters that I could easily relate to, and they struggle with spiritual issues that all of us can probably identify with in some form. Danny lived with guilt and couldn’t let go of the past, couldn’t forgive himself. Bailey allowed fear to control her life, becoming good at running and making excuses. I loved the wise counsel Bailey received from her mom, advising her to trust God with her fear . . . “The way I see it, you can keep holding on to it and nothing changes. Or you can turn it over to him, trusting he will give you peace. It’s your choice.” The book’s title also spoke to me, for sometimes it does seem that God is silent during our darkest times, which is why total trust is so important.

Having greatly enjoyed the whole series, I have to say that the first three stories were my favorites (see my review links below), and I wish more of the previous characters popped up in this book. I love southern fiction and the Logan Point setting was vividly conveyed in books 1-3, to the point of feeling like one of the characters – and I missed that sense of connection in Silence in the Dark. And this is just personal preference, but Silence’s theme involved Mexico and a drug cartel, which I’m not too fond of. Again, just personal preference, because Patricia is an excellent writer of romantic suspense, one of my favorites, and I did enjoy Silence in the Dark. I can’t wait to see where Patricia takes us next. I’ll definitely be along for the ride!


Series reviews . . .
#1 - Shadows of the Past
#2 - A Promise to Protect
#3 - Gone without a Trace


Patricia Bradley is the award-winning author of Shadows of the Past, A Promise to Protect, and Gone without a Trace. Winner of a Daphne du Maurier Award and a Touched by Love Award, Bradley is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America, and makes her home in Mississippi.

Thank you to Revell for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Review: My Father's House

My Father’s House
By Rose Chandler Johnson
CreateSpace, 2016


Growing up, life is idyllic for Lily Rose Cates due to one constant --- her father's love.

But in her sixteenth summer, all that changes without warning. There begins Lily's struggle to find herself and the life she's lost. . . . Marriage promises fulfillment, but her happily-ever-after barely survives the honeymoon. Her husband's sophisticated façade hides a brooding man with even darker secrets.

When all illusions shatter, Lily must make hard choices --- abandon her husband or risk losing much more than her marriage. She flees their home in Detroit and sets out on a fearful journey to a house in Georgia that her husband knows nothing about. This is one woman's compelling tale of love and survival as she finds her way back home to who she's meant to be . . . in her father's house.

My thoughts

My Father’s House is an excellent debut novel that combines the elements of sweet romance, suspense, friendship, and Southern charm, and fits into the genre of women’s fiction that I enjoy so much. Rose Chandler Johnson has created a story that is primarily easy, pleasurable reading, yet it will keep readers on the edge of their seats at other times. Sometimes a book’s setting has such a strong presence that it becomes a major character, as is the case here. The author vividly conveyed the essence of the South – from the food, hospitality, and friendliness, to the way the small community looked out for Lily’s safety.


The truth is, at that moment in my life, my heart longed for love.
I grabbed hold of its promise like a drowning person
grabs hold of a life jacket. It was vital for my survival. I flung
open my heart, he walked in, and I grabbed hold.
- Lily

My Father’s House is told in the first-person voice of Lily, which worked well and fit this style of narrative. I fell in love with Lily Rose Cates from the very beginning – and while I understood how she was unwisely attracted to Manny, I wanted to reach out and shake some sense into her. I thought this description was totally accurate:  “What a twenty-two-year-old girl in love feels, is more real than reality, stronger than reason.”

Lily’s husband, Manny, is a Detroit lawyer who thrives for power, competition and winning. Although he’s a character that I hated to see walk onto the page, I wish more could have been revealed about his character, family, and the reason behind his actions. His physical and emotional abuse are portrayed realistically, but not overly graphic.

There are also some great secondary characters, my favorite being Annie Ruth, the family maid who practically raised Lily. This is a wonderful description of Annie Ruth (maybe you even know someone who resembles her):  “She had a way of parading life down the middle of the road in the broad daylight and looking it straight in the face. She never sugar-coated reality, and she never white-washed the truth. In her own dignified way, she made the best of what the good Lord gave.”

Neither does the author sugar-coat reality when it comes to serious issues such as abuse, spousal rape, depression, and divorce – all of which are handled in a graceful manner. At its heart, My Father’s House is a story of the healing and second chances found in Christ. I enjoyed this story very much and look forward to more from Rose Chandler Johnson.


Purchase a copy:


Rose Chandler Johnson is the author of the award winning devotional God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea: Experiencing God in the Midst of Everyday Moments. My Father's House is her first novel. She happily makes her home near Augusta, Georgia.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Monday, June 20, 2016

Review: My Mother's Quilts

My Mother’s Quilts
By Ramona Richards
Worthy Publishing, 2016


A quilt is love that serves a purpose.

Inspired by thirty family heirloom quilts, each devotion depicts the enduring legacy of faith, family and tradition. With humor and sincerity, Ramona Richards shares her memories and lessons learned from the quilters whose legacies live on in their work. Rich, personal, sometimes heartbreaking, often funny, each reading provides a lesson and encouragement from the faithful women who crafted the quilts.

Full-color photographs of each quilt show the style and artistry of each beautiful work. The quilts, sewn by several generations over more than one-hundred years, are as unique and lovely as the hands that created them. The oldest was buried during the Civil War to keep it safe and the author’s mother created the newest in the last years of her life.

My thoughts

My Mother’s Quilts: Devotions of Love, Legacy, Family and Faith is part memoir, part devotional, a collection of around 60 reflective thoughts drawn from 30 quilts passed down from generation to generation. This is a beautiful book, both in physical appearance and because of the thoughts shared. “The heritage of our faith and family lives in those around us. Just listening to them can bring treasures more valuable than gold.” My Mother’s Quilts is a book to treasure.

Just like the brightly-colored images pictured throughout, the book itself is a work of art – hardback with a burgundy cover, dust jacket, thick pages, and a ribbon to mark your place. Each meditation begins with a Scripture verse and ends with a prayer prompt. Like the title’s description, Ramona’s thoughts are sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking - but are warm and vividly reflect the love, legacy, family and faith that have always been associated with the making and passing down of quilts.

My mom didn’t sew, but she knew a retired couple who quilted, and she made sure I received quilts upon marriage and the birth of my children. These quilts carried the same message of love and faith, and will continue to be cherished by my family.

I’d single out each meditation if I could because they are all touching, but these two especially stood out to me . . .

The Carolina Lily quilt, dating from the 1830s, was a faded symbol of something that never fades . . . a reminder that faith and family, and a belief that God will take care of us, endure in the same way: passed down to the next generation.

The Twenty-five Patch quilt with three bright blue squares amidst the pale reds and browns . . . In passing down this imperfection, my great-great grandmother inadvertently reminded all who came after her how impermeable and unchanging is God’s true love for us. It is a love that will come to us no matter what, showering us “as the spring rains,” always refreshing and new.

I believe anyone would enjoy My Mother’s Quilts, but this would be an especially meaningful collection for anyone who sews, quilts, or who has been blessed by receiving a quilt.

Highly recommended.


Ramona Richards is an award-winning editor, speaker, author of nine books, and a frequent contributor to devotional collections. An avid live music fan, Ramona loves Nashville, which she’s called home since she was ten.

Sensing her mother was near the end of her life, Ramona documented her mother’s stories and lessons behind each family quilt. These stories form the devotions in My Mother’s Quilts. Find out more about Ramona and her books by visiting her online . . .

Thank you to Worthy Publishing and FlyBy Promotions for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.



Win one of the quilts featured in My Mother's Quilts: Devotions of Love, Legacy, Family and Faith.

Also up for grabs: loads of other prizes including quilting hand warmers, coloring books, and 25 signed copies of Ramona’s book.

Winners will be emailed after the contest ends on June 30, 2016. Click the image to get started!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Review + Blog Tour GIVEAWAY: The Amish Firefighter

The Amish Firefighter
By Laura V. Hilton
Whitaker House, 2016


A Beautiful Young Woman Banished from Home

Abigail Stutzman thought it was bad enough being dropped at the nearest bus station and sent to live several states away with some relatives she’d never even heard of, much less met. But now, just a week after her arrival in Jamesport, Missouri, she finds herself at the scene of a barn fire. An intentional barn fire. And all fingers are pointed at her. She’s desperate to prove her innocence and protect her reputation, but nobody’s making that easy to do. And God certainly doesn’t seem willing to help.

A Brave Firefighter with an Agenda of His Own

Sam Miller is in the process of turning over a new leaf. Determined to atone for the follies of his past, he is a volunteer firefighter, an EMT, and a doctor-in-training. With suspicious barn fires escalating, and the Miller family being among the victims, no one is more determined to see the perpetrators brought to justice than Sam.

A Kindled Flame Neither One Could Have Anticipated

When their paths first cross at the site of a barn burning, the emotional intensity rivals the warmth of the flames. Soon, they must decide whether this fire is one they should feed or fight. And they’ll discover that the truth can prove more dangerous than a blazing inferno.

My thoughts

I was eager to read this story because I enjoy Amish fiction and love discovering authors who are new to me – and from its intriguing cover to its emotion-filled narrative, The Amish Firefighter is a compelling read. Laura V. Hilton’s unique writing style reflects a realism and honesty that drew me to the characters and I look forward to more of her novels.

Readers who feel that Amish fiction paints too “perfect” a picture will have no complaint here, for Laura’s characters wrestle with temptations of the flesh just as we do, and they have a humanness and honesty that is most appealing. The Amish Firefighter tackles some serious life issues and does it well – issues like temptation, sex outside of marriage, pregnancy, close bloodlines within the Amish community, rejection, and criminal activity.

I loved Sam’s protective nature and the way he is growing as a new Christian, and I was pulling for him all the way. Abigail experienced the unthinkable as she was thrust away from her family with no explanation or contact, and I could understand how trusting God with her life was difficult. The chemistry between Sam and Abigail is delightful, and she loved everything about him– “his payers, his calm, his friendship, his willingness to fight for her, for those he loved.” There’s plenty of romantic tension, as well as several scenes that will make you melt.

One of this story’s strengths is the spiritual application that Laura beautifully weaves throughout, and there is much that spoke to me personally – themes of sin, confession, God’s forgiveness and grace, and how important it is to forgive oneself also. And one thought that I carry away from this book is that the battle is the Lord’s, not ours – something I need to constantly be reminded of.

I believe Sam is a character from a previous book, but The Amish Firefighter stands alone. Recommended to all who enjoy Amish fiction.

Purchase your copy of The Amish Firefighter here


        Amish fiction lovers responded positively and immediately to Laura V. Hilton’s debut novel, Patchwork Dreams, when she burst on the scene in 2009 with her unique series, The Amish of Seymour, set in the tiny town of Seymour, in Webster County, Missouri. Fans of the genre immediately recognized Hilton’s insider knowledge, not only of the Webster County community, but Amish culture in general. Her natural speech and writing patterns, she says, are uniquely “Amish,” acquired from her Amish maternal grandparents. The Amish of Seymour, includes Patchwork Dreams, A Harvest of Hearts, and Promised to Another.
        Her second series, The Amish of Webster County, is comprised of Healing Love, Surrendered Love, and Awakened Love. A stand-alone title, A White Christmas in Webster County, was released in September 2014. The Birdhouse concluded Laura’s 2015 series, The Amish of Jamesport, and includes The Snow Globe, The Postcard and The Birdhouse.
        Laura is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and a professional book reviewer. Laura and her husband, Steve, have five children, whom Laura homeschools. The family makes their home in Arkansas.

Thank you to Whitaker House and Celebrate Lit for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.



Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Review: Dawn at Emberwilde

I apologize, for apparently this post went out today, 8/11, but I didn’t send it. All I can figure is that the Blogger program is acting up. This giveaway ended on June 19 and I have removed it. But there will be more, so do come back!


Dawn at Emberwilde
By Sarah E. Ladd
Treasures of Surrey, #2
Thomas Nelson, 2016


Isabel Creston never dared to dream that love could be hers. Now, at the edge of a forest filled with dark secrets, she faces a fateful choice between love and duty.

For as long as she can remember, beautiful and free-spirited Isabel has strained against the rules and rigidity of the Fellsworth School in the rolling English countryside. No longer a student, Isabel set her sights on a steady role as a teacher at the school, a safe yet stifling establishment that would enable her to care for her younger sister Lizzie, who was left in her care after her father’s death.

The unexpected arrival of a stranger with news of unknown relatives turns Isabel’s small, predictable world upside down, sweeping her and her young charge into a labyrinth of intrigue and hidden motives.

At her new family’s invitation, Isabel and Lizzie relocate to Emberwilde, a sprawling estate adjacent to a vast, mysterious wood rife with rumors and ominous folklore—along with whispers of something far more sinister. Perhaps even more startling, two handsome men begin pursuing Isabel, forcing her to learn the delicate dance between attraction, the intricate rules of courtship, and the hopes of her heart.

At Emberwilde Isabel will discover that the key to unlocking the mystery of her past may also open the door to her future and security. But first she must find it—in the depths of Emberwilde Forest.

My thoughts

Dawn at Emberwilde is a beautiful story in every way, the kind of book I like to take my time with, savoring every nuance of atmospheric setting, rich characterization, and plot twists. The English countryside, a mysterious forest, and grand estates provide the backdrop for romance and suspense that is gently paced, yet held my attention throughout. With its 1817 setting in Surrey, England, this narrative reflects the Jane Austen style, with a little bit of Cinderella mixed in, and even has elements of the gothic style that I’ve always loved. Sarah E. Ladd is in her element when it comes to the Regency novel, and while I’ve enjoyed all of her stories, Dawn at Emberwilde is without a doubt my favorite.


“Remember, with each dawn seek guidance, and with each
night give gratitude. For there is a divine plan for each of our lives,
and a journey, and you have started yours.”
- Mary

Isabel and Colin are great characters, as are secondary characters Henry, Colin’s brother, and Mary, Isabel’s friend from Fellsworth School. Forced to leave the comfortable environment of the school, Isabel is faced with strict rules imposed by her aunt and the unwelcome thought of marrying to secure her future. Even Isabel’s cousin, Constance, had been raised with this life goal firmly in place … “To make a match. To marry. To grasp security.” Independent and confident one moment, while insecure and doubtful the next, Isabel is easy to relate to in her humanness. Colin, local magistrate and landowner, is a very appealing leading man. To Isabel, his “kindness and gentleness were more attractive than money or prestige.”

Spiritual themes are very subtle in this story, reflected more in character behavior than actual words. We’re reminded to look beyond the surface, that people and circumstances aren’t always what they seem – and also to seek God’s will for life’s needs. I especially loved these words of Isabel’s friend, Mary . . .

“No experience is ever wasted. It is being used to fashion you
into the person you are meant to be, and to move you
to the place where you are supposed to go.”

Although Dawn at Emberwilde is #2 in the series, it stands alone. I do hope we see Mary’s story next! Recommended.


Sarah E. Ladd received the 2011 Genesis Award in historical romance for “The Heiress of Winterwood.” She is a graduate of Ball State University and has more than ten years of marketing experience. Sarah lives in Indiana with her amazing family and spunky Golden Retriever.

Thank you to Thomas Nelson and Litfuse Publicity for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Review: Anchor in the Storm

Anchor in the Storm
By Sarah Sundin
Waves of Freedom, #2
Revell, 2016


One plucky female pharmacist + one high-society naval officer = romance-and danger

For plucky Lillian Avery, America's entry into World War II means a chance to prove herself as a pharmacist in Boston. The challenges of her new job energize her. But society boy Ensign Archer Vandenberg's attentions only annoy---even if he is her brother's best friend.

During the darkest days of the war, Arch's destroyer hunts German U-boats in vain as the submarines sink dozens of merchant ships along the East Coast. Still shaken by battles at sea, Arch notices his men also struggle with their nerves---and with drowsiness. Could there be a link to the large prescriptions for sedatives Lillian has filled? The two work together to answer that question, but can Arch ever earn Lillian's trust and affection?

Sarah Sundin brings World War II to life, offering readers an intense experience they won't soon forget.

My thoughts

Although I’m not usually a fan of WWII fiction, I adore the work of Sarah Sundin. Anchor in the Storm has that perfect blend of historical detail, rich characterization, suspense, romance, and spiritual depth – resulting in a highly entertaining story that was hard to put down. I’ve read five of Sarah’s novels, all of which are excellent, but I believe this one is my favorite so far. It was great to reconnect with Jim Avery from book #1, Through Waters Deep, and continue with the story of his best friend, Arch.

For one thing, I always learn something historically from every story. Anchor in the Storm follows a dramatic aspect of the war … the U-boat attacks off America’s Eastern Seaboard during the first six months of 1942, when the Germans sank one hundred merchant ships. In this early stage of America’s involvement, frustration was caused by a shortage of naval vessels that resulted in fruitless patrols and rescuing survivors. Arch and Jim experience this firsthand as they serve on the USS Ettinger.

Capturing the emotions is the fact that Arch and several other servicemen live with combat fatigue, which we know today as PTSD. Only those who have experienced the horrors of war fully know what this is like, but my heart goes out to all who suffer its effects. Even more heartbreaking is that 1942 was a time when men were put in combat, then punished for their humanity, making them fearful of seeking help.

Lillian Avery and Ensign Archer (Arch) Vandenberg are compelling characters, so appealing and relatable in their humanness that I would choose them as best friends in real life if possible.  Losing her leg due to a childhood accident and having to wear a prosthesis gave Lillian a determination and desire for independence, and she became one of the few women pharmacists at the time. Arch comes from old New England money, yet he despises wealth and longs for the simple life. Without a war to level the playing field, this unlikely pair would never have met, and yet they both share a desire to be loved for who they are inside. I loved the romantic tension and slowly growing friendship between them.

“Arch had grown up with an aloof stained-glass Jesus, but Jim had introduced him to the rugged carpenter in the fishing boat, genuine and straightforward.” Lillian and Arch are both believers, but important lessons are still to be learned, lessons that speak to us as well. This world will always be full of physical and emotional storms, and the message that Jesus is our anchor, hope and refuge is needed just as much today as it was for Arch and Lillian.

I’d like to end with the beautiful passage that Sarah quoted, especially meaningful in light of Lillian’s handicap, but one that is timeless . . .

And he said unto me, my grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

Highly recommended.


Sarah Sundin is the author of Through Waters Deep, as well as Wings of the Nightingale and the Wings of Glory series. A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, she works on call as a hospital pharmacist. During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist's mate (medic) in the Navy and her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force. Sarah lives in California.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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