Saturday, March 25, 2017

Book Review - Murder is No Accident

ABOUT THE BOOK:

The old Chandler place should be empty. The magnificent Victorian mansion is for sale, even if its aged owner Miss Fonda doesn't realize it. But when real estate agent Geraldine Harper enters the house on a sunny October day, she's not alone. Minutes later, there is a body at the bottom of the steep steps leading to the tower room.

Deputy sheriff Michael Keane is called in. At first blush, it looks like the death was a tragic accident, but clues point to foul play. And when a second body is discovered, the race is on to find the culprit . . . before someone else dies.

If you like your small-town America sweet and quirky--with a dash of sinister--you'll love this latest whodunit from deft storyteller A. H. Gabhart.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Ann H. Gabhart is the bestselling author of several Shaker novels--The Outsider, The Believer, The Seeker, The Blessed, and The Gifted--as well as Angel Sister, Small Town Girl, Love Comes Home, Words Spoken True, and The Heart of Hollyhill series. She lives with her husband a mile from where she was born in rural Kentucky. Learn more at www.annhgabhart.com.

MY REVIEW:

I have read every book in this series - The Hidden Springs Mysteries - and have loved each one. This book was just as excellent as the others and the characters have become beloved friends.

Michael is a Deputy Sheriff in Hidden Springs - a quaint, quiet, little town, or it's supposed to be. When the local real estate agent is found dead at the bottom of the stairs of a stately home that she's looking to sell, it looks like a tragic accident but Michael has a bad feeling about the whole situation.

I really like Michael and his steadfast faith and calmness in every situation that comes up. He cares about the community and the people in it and we especially see this in this story. Maggie is a young lady of 15 who gets caught up, through no fault of her own, in the terrible deaths that happen. Michael believes her story and is concern for her and her family is truly touching. I loved Maggie's family, too! They are doing their best to keep things together and I loved how the we see the parents strive to do better in their lives. We also see Anthony take a big role in Maggie's life and it's really sweet.

I'll be honest, I figured out who the culprits were quite early in the book, however, it didn't detract from the story for me at all. Ann Gabhart is an excellent writer who writes a page turner and makes you care about the story and the people in it. I enjoyed each and every page. I loved the romantic storyline of Michael and Alex even though my heart ached for them.

I highly recommend this book for mystery/romance readers. You'll be completely satisfied with this wonderful book! I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

*This book was provided to me for my honest review by Revell


Blessings - Julie

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Book Review - Unchained

 
ABOUT THE BOOK:

Christians are free in Christ, yet Christianity can feel like a prison.

Unchained helps Christians who don't feel that grace has changed their lives.

Often when people follow Jesus, they feel more guilty instead of more free. A powerful book for the spiritually restless, Unchained shows readers how to have a robust faith that celebrates their freedom in Christ without compromising their holiness as God's followers.

Unchained turns to the person and work of Jesus Christ as the source of freedom-not just his work 2,000 years ago but also what he is doing today. As readers dig into the meaning of the freedom that Jesus offers, they will understand, perhaps for the first time, what true freedom in Christ means.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Noel Jesse Heikkinen is a pastor at Riverview Church, a multi-site church of over 3,000 near Lansing, Michigan. Heikkinen also helps lead the church planting ministry Acts 29 and is the chairman of the board for the mission agency Reliant. He and his wife, Grace, have four children.
Find out more about Noel Jesse at noeljess.com.

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MY REVIEW:

This is a most enjoyable book and very profound. It made me ponder many things and think more deeply about my faith and what it means to be free.

Perhaps like me you struggle with the fact that you are free in Christ. That our past sins are forgiven when we ask for that forgiveness from Him. I continue to have moments of living in the past and feeling great remorse over my sins while wondering if I have truly been forgiven. This kind of thinking keeps us from living fully in freedom.

I loved Mr. Keikkinen's writing style because it made the subject matter come alive for me and it was very understandable despite being a complex subject. I used my highlighter extensively throughout the book and caught myself stopping on pages to re-read certain paragraphs or sentences again. I found myself having several light-bulb moments!

I really liked how he explained how we create structure and laws for ourselves in place of truly living in Christian freedom. I have seen this time and again with churches that create the lists of do's and don'ts that bring nothing but guilt and shame into our lives.

This is an excellent book and truly a new favorite of mine. It will be staying on my book shelf to be returned to, I'm sure, time and again. I highly recommend this book and give it 5 out of 5 stars.

*This book was provided to me for my honest review by LitFuse Publicity Group


Blessings - Julie

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Counting Our Blessings - LinkUp!


21. It's good and truly Spring here! The weather has been amazingly warm and lovely and we had a high temperature of 82 yesterday and 74 today. Just perfect! I'm hoping and praying that we don't get a late freeze as all our fruit trees are in bloom. My rose bushes are bursting forth with new growth and I'm seeing hints of buds here and there. Weather like this truly is a blessing!



These are the views from my front deck.

22. We had beautiful weather to celebrate my youngest son's birthday on Saturday. He wanted to cook outside and it ended up being perfect. It was our sweet family of four celebrating together and I just cherished this precious time that has ended up being harder to do as they get older.

My husband and I bought him the complete series of "The Middle". It's a hilarious show that we all recently just discovered even though it's been on for 8 seasons. Here he is with some of his DVD's.

A few years ago, my youngest son started a tradition of gag gifts to his brother and it has stuck. I think this gift was the craziest of all...


You can see him laughing as he looks in the bag...


Seriously? Who knew there was such a thing as a Snuggle Tail?! LOL We all had a good laugh over this.

My son requested hotdogs, burgers and bratwurst on the grill plus I made my baked beans that he loves. He created this for his feast and wanted me to take a picture of it.

Yes, that's a bratwurst with bacon! :)

He always requests this dessert for his birthday and this year it was exceptionally pretty.

He said it was really good, too. Unfortunately, I couldn't taste it because of all those little seeds in those berries. I'm so glad he enjoyed it, though!

Here's my oldest on the birthday with his pug, Muffy. She is now 14 years old and still going strong!


23. As always, this sweet girl just blesses me over and over. She has learned to now sit in her bed on the table while I work on my Bible study. I love having her close and she feels the same about me.


Miss Mitzi is such a joy!! I love that sweet girl!

So many blessings! You can share your own on the linkup below.


Blessings - Julie

Book Review - Murder on the Moor

ABOUT THE BOOK:

At the urgent request of an old school friend, Drew and Madeline Farthering come to Bloodworth Park Lodge in the midst of the Yorkshire moors, a place as moody and mysterious as a Brontë hero. There have been several worrisome incidents around those lonesome rolling hills--property desecrated, fires started, sheep and cattle scattered. Worst of all, the vicar has been found dead on the steps of the church, a crime for which Drew can discern no motive at all.

Few in the town of Bunting's Nest seem like suspects, and Drew can't keep his suspicions from falling on his friend's new bride. Do her affections lie more with her husband's money and estate, while her romantic interests stray to their fiery Welsh gamekeeper? As the danger grows ever closer, it's up to Drew to look past his own prejudices, determine what's really going on, and find the killer before it's too late.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Julianna Deering is the creator of the acclaimed Drew Farthering Mystery series. She has always loved British history and is a particular fan of the writings of Dorothy Sayers and Agatha Christie. She graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas with a degree in business administration and spent several years as a Certified Public Accountant. She lives outside Dallas, Texas. For more information visit www.juliannadeering.com

MY REVIEW:

I have read all the books of this series with great joy and this book is just as wonderful as the others! It is part of the Drew Farthering Mystery series, however, even if you haven't read the other books, you will not be lost. If you haven't read the other books, though, I implore you to do so! They are fantastic!

We are taken to the Moors in this book and when I hear that name, I definitely think of the Sherlock Holmes story, "Hound of the Baskervilles". The spooky fog and atmosphere was used quite effectively in this story and lent an added mystery. Drew and Madeline are called by Drew's old friend, Beaky, when the vicar of the local church is found murdered on the church doorstep. No one has been able to figure out what happened or why.

When Drew arrives at Beaky's estate, he is surprised to find that Beaky's new wife is someone he knew from the past. Sabrina has not made a good impression on Drew and he is suspicious of the beautiful woman marrying the kind, but not handsome, Beaky. One of the reasons that Drew agreed to aiding in this mystery is because Sabrina has also heard things in the North wing on their estate and out on the Moors. After Drew arrives, another murder happens that appears to be in-related to the vicars and the mystery deepens.

This is a fast paced story that will keep you reading into the night. The characters are very well developed and Drew and Madeline will feel like old friends. I can honestly say I was totally shocked at the ending and who the murderer was and why. I did not see it coming at all and usually I'm able to pick out the culprit about three fourths through any mystery. It was truly a delight to be so surprised and shocked at this ending.

I highly recommend this book if you enjoy mysteries of the highest quality. As with all of other Julianna's books, it will be remaining on my book shelf to revisit again and again. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

*This book was provided to me for my honest review by Bethany House


Blessings - Julie

Monday, March 20, 2017

Book Review - Home at Last by Deborah Raney

 
ABOUT THE BOOK:
 
Link Whitman has settled into the role of bachelor without ever intending to. Now he's stuck in a dead-end job and, as the next Whitman wedding fast approaches, he is the last one standing. The pressure from his sisters' efforts to play matchmaker is getting hard to bear as Link pulls extra shifts at work, and helps his parents at the Chicory Inn.

All her life, Shayla Michaels has felt as if she straddled two worlds. Her mother's white family labeled her African American father with names Shayla didn't repeat in polite-well, in any company. Her father's family disapproved as well, though they eventually embraced Shayla as their own. After the death of her mother, and her brother Jerry's incarceration, life has left Shayla's father bitter, her niece, Portia, an orphan, and Shayla responsible for them all. She knows God loves them all, but why couldn't people accept each other for what was on the inside? For their hearts?

Everything changes one icy morning when a child runs into the street and Link nearly hits her with his pickup. Soon he is falling in love with the little girl's aunt, Shayla, the beautiful woman who runs Coffee's On, the bakery in Langhorne. Can Shayla and Link overcome society's view of their differences and find true love? Is there hope of changing the sometimes-ugly world around them into something better for them all?
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Deborah Raney's novels have won numerous awards including the RITA, National Readers' Choice Award, HOLT Medallion, the Carol Award, and have three times been Christy Award finalists. She and her husband, Ken Raney have traded small-town life in Kansas-the setting of many of Deb's novels-for life in the city of Wichita.
Find out more about Deborah at http://deborahraney.com



Home at Last Deborah Raney
 
MY REVIEW:
 
I have read every book of this series and loved it! I connected so much with this family - especially the mom of the book and her husband. This family is so much like mine in so many ways so I was excited to get to read this last book of the series. Unfortunately, it wasn't what I was expecting.
 
Link is the son in the family and at 29, he hasn't met "miss right" yet. Until he meets Shayla while setting up the IT at the shelter where she brought the baked goods from her families bakery. A little flirting and Link is determined to ask her out, once and for all. Their beginning isn't exactly great when Shayla's little niece darts out into the icy road right in front of his truck. Thankfully, she isn't hurt, due to Link's heroics, but it's a shaky start to a shaky relationship.
 
Shayla's father is black and her mother white. There was a lot turmoil for her parents having a racially mixed marriage and her father is still bitter. Unfortunately, this book had too much bitterness in it for me. I was reading along and then Ferguson pops up in the sentence. I have to say, my heart dropped and I was pretty much done at that point (this is early in the book, by the way). Yes, I know there is still racial issues in our world, however, things have gotten much worse than I have ever, ever seen it and I'm a child of the 60's.
 
The hateful things that were portrayed in this book was such a disappointment to a wonderful series. I came away from the other books feeling hopeful and happy. This book? Not so much. The ending does lighten up but, by that time, I was so uptight from the negativity from these characters, I just couldn't enjoy it. The one bright character in this book? Link. His loving nature and kindness was a breath of fresh air in an otherwise difficult book.
 
As always, Deborah Raney's writing is superb and her characters well thought out and developed. I think I'm just tired of the whole color thing. I look at people as people and things would be a lot better if everyone did the same. God made us ALL in His image and that's how I chose to view humanity. What we do as people - good or bad - has nothing to do with the color of our skin. (ok, I'm stepping down off my soap box now).
 
For wonderful writing I would give this book 5 stars but for the subject matter and the really down feeling I had reading this book, I have to deduct 2 stars (I'm being really generous here) - giving this book 3 stars. I would have loved to have one of my favorite series of all times end with the amazing, good feel and hope I had with the other books but, it just wasn't so.
 
*This book was provided to me for my honest review by LitFuse Publicity Group
 
 

Blessings - Julie