Thursday, March 26, 2015

Dead Wrong by Susan Sleeman

Kat Justice runs to her friends rescue only to find her dead when she arrives, and the killer is still in the house! Thankfully Kat had called for back up before going into the house. Mitch Elliot arrives just in time to save Kat from the same fate as her friend.

Kat used to be partners with Mitch before she started working for the Justice Agency, the business owned and operated by her family. Kat is still hurt by his rejection of her crush on him and is anything but happy that he assigns himself as her guardian when the killer once again makes an attempt on her life.

Mitch can't help his attraction to Kat, but he refuses to give into his feelings. He was unable to keep his former partner and fiance' from being killed and has found it is much easier to not allow himself to get close to anyone. Kat too has issues with allowing herself to become close to anyone. She refuses to allow herself to be ruled by a man. Having watched her abusive father murder her mother Kat will never allow a man to have that kind of control over her. Sparks fly between the two of them with Mitch doing everything in his power to keep her safe and Kat doing everything in her power to push him away. All the while the killer is lurking closer and closer ready to finish what he started.

I really liked this story. Two people struggling to let God have control in every situation of their lives. This lesson spoke to me at this point in my life. The struggle is real, being able to relinquish control of our lives and the lives of those we love to a Heavenly Father that cares for them and us way more than we could ever hope to. I loved the spiritual aspect of this book. The suspense was pretty good as well. This is the second book in the Justice Agency series and they just keep getting better! I read them out of order, which didn't seem to hinder me in following the family, but if I were to start again I would begin with book one.

Read my reviews of the other books in the series:

Double Exposure
Dead Wrong
No Way Out
Thread of Suspicion
Dark Tide


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

AUDIOBOOK: How A Star Falls by Amber Stokes



About the Book

Unabridged audiobook narrated by Patrick Wilson Mahaney | 1 hour and 55 minutes

How does a star fall?
Quickly. Completely. Unexpectedly.

Derrick Knolane escapes to Trinidad Head most evenings, avoiding his apartment and planning for the day he'll break free of Humboldt County. Working in a music store might be fine for a while, but it's far from the goal he had in mind when he got his college degree. Not to mention the fact that his roommate is a jerk and his family won't stop trying to run his life.

Then Brielle falls into his world.

She claims to be a star. Not from Hollywood, but from heaven. He thinks she's crazy. Certainly delusional. Yet, he can't just leave her alone on the cliffs. So he takes her home.

And his whole world falls apart.

A heartfelt and fanciful contemporary romance novella, How a Star Falls explores the uncertain season of new adulthood and shows that sometimes the worst inconveniences make for the best miracles of all.




Audiobook Purchase Links

Less than $7! (You can listen to a sample on the following sites, as well.)


Author Bio

Amber Stokes works as a content writer (marketing services) for a Christian publisher. On the side, she self-publishes inspirational fiction depicting the seasons of life and love. Her
passion for books compelled her to earn a bachelor's degree in English and to run her own freelance editing and publicity business for over a year. Happily, this new chapter of her career takes place in the Pacific Northwest—a part of the world she's always considered home. Learn more about Amber’s books at www.SeasonsofaStory.blogspot.com




Social Media Links





Goodreads: Amber Stokes

Google +:  +AmberStokes

Narrator Bio

Patrick Mahaney is a comedian, writer, and performer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter at @patrick_mahaney.


A Note from Julie: Check out my review of HOW A STAR FALLS



Rafflecopter Giveaway

Experience How a Star Falls as you’ve never heard it before! Enter to win one of three digital audiobook copies of the novella using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to anyone who can access Audible.com. (Prizes will be distributed using promo codes through that site.)

  


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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook Edited by Kate White

From The Press Release:

Any mystery connoisseur worth their salt knows that whether it's being used as a villain's nefarious weapon or keeping their favorite detectives going, food plays a major role in the genre. From the comforting breakfast cuisines of Arthur Conan Doyle's Mrs. Hudson to the poison-laced meals of Agatha Christie's fictional victims, food not only provides major plot twists but also defines character.

My Thoughts:

I totally enjoyed looking through this cookbook and picking out recipes to try and reading little tid-bits from authors about their characters. Several authors I recognized have recipes in this cookbook: Ben H. Winters, Mary Higgins Clark, Sara Paretsky, Kathy Reichs, James Patterson and Sue Grafton just to name a few. Speaking of Sue Grafton; she writes the Kinsey Millhone books which I have been reading for years and years. Her recipe is the famous peanut butter and pickle sandwich that Kinsey is always making as her go-to comfort food. Not that I will ever be trying that recipe, but I thought it was fun to see it in the book! While there are several color photos of the finished products in the book, not every recipe has a photo to go with it which I found a bit disappointing.  The cookbook is hardback which is nice and has over 100 recipes that features recipes for breakfasts, appetizers, entree's, desserts and drinks. After each recipe there is a little blurb about the author. So, if you are a mystery fan and you like to eat then check out this book. It will definitely entertain you!

**Thanks to Quirk Books for my copy for review. All opinions are my own**




Thursday, March 19, 2015

Remnants: Season of Fire by Lisa T. Bergren

The Remnants are off to save Kapriel, but first his brother Keallach is determined to change Andriana's mind about the Remnants calling. Can Dri help Keallach turn back to the Way or is he too far under Sethos's power to join his fellow Ailith?

Remnants: Season of Fire is book 2 in the Remnants series. Filled with exciting battles between good and evil, romance and a spiritual purpose I found Season of Fire to be a hard book to put down. Andriana and her Knight Ronan know that romance between them is forbidden. But their hearts are melded together in spite of their calling. Unfortunately this opens the door to the enemy to use that love against them. Keallach uses his time with Andriana to try and persuade her that the two of them would make a good team to rule over the people. He tries to sway Dri with his gift of manipulating people's feelings. Thankfully Dri is strong in her faith in the mission she and her fellow Ailith have been called to. Being an empath Andriana senses in Keallach a desire to be with his fellow Remnants, but is he somehow able to mask his true feelings and desires in order to confuse Dri?

As I said, I had a hard time putting this book down. Yet at the same time I sometimes had to put it down because I would get so tense over a battle scene or see a foreshadowing of what was to come that I would need to take a little break to regroup! I really liked how the author brought out the spiritual struggle between good and evil. Through Keallach's character the reader can see how the enemy can deceive a person into thinking they are doing the right thing. Ronan and Andriana's relationship is very strong and even beyond their Knight and Remnant status they have the bond of love. But the Maker's purpose for them comes first and they must put that love aside until their mission is complete. I'll definitely be looking forward to the next book that comes out in 2016, Remnants: Season of Glory.

**I received one copy from BookLook bloggers for review purposes and I had pre-ordered an ebook version. All opinions are my own**

Check out my review of Remnants: Season of Wonder

Also check out my interview with author Lisa T. Bergren on the Spiritual Aspect of Remnants


Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Cheney Duvall Series by Lynn Morris



The Stars for a Light:

New Doctor Cheney Duvall has agreed to be the doctor to Mercer’s Belle’s, a group of women travelling to Seattle to become wives to men out west. Shiloh Irons is her big and burley male nurse. Cheney has found it hard to find a job since being a female doctor in the 1800’s is frowned upon. Mercer’s Belles seems to be the perfect opportunity for her. The two month journey proves to be filled with many trials and triumphs for the new doctor. Battling sea-sickness, disease and destruction Cheney grows in confidence as a doctor and also grows in her faith in the One who holds both life and death in the palm of His hand.

I have read the Cheney Duvall series several times through the years. I love these books and enjoy each time I re-read them. Cheney’s ability as a doctor is impressive in the time period and Shiloh’s ability to calm her and assist her is sweet and also humorous. I love this first book where the reader is introduced to both Cheney and Shiloh. Shiloh’s sense of humor makes the reader laugh out loud at some of his antics. Cheney is head-strong yet insecure at the same time which can be exasperating as well as endearing. She has a generous heart, but she also has a naivety about the world around her. Together Cheney and Shiloh make the perfect doctor/nurse team. Yes, there is an attraction between the two that gets a bit steamy a few times during the story but the reader is going to have to wait for any resolution in that relationship. 

 Shadow of the Mountains:


Cheney and Shiloh go to Arkansas so Cheney can help her friend Sharon who is pregnant. The mountain people don’t take kindly to a female doctor. Their “harb” woman is good enough for them. The mountain people are also caught up in their feuding between two families. Cheney and Shiloh drift apart as Shiloh becomes attached to Maeva, the woman that uses herbs and other homeopathic remedies to doctor the people. Tempers run hot as the feud picks up momentum fueled by greedy men determined to buy up the land. 

Shadow of the Mountains reminds me of a Hatfields and McCoy’s kind of story. Two families that hate each other over a long ago wrong that was supposedly committed by one or the other. It is sad what ignorance and bitterness can do throughout generations. Shadow of the Mountains is my least favorite of the series because Shiloh is so taken with Maeva. It seemed random, his attachment to her. He doesn’t even understand it. And Maeva herself is a mystery that almost seems like the mountain people worship. I also didn’t like her gloating and making Cheney feel insecure. I do however like seeing the progression of Cheney’s faith as she grows in the Lord through each hardship. 


 A City Not Forsaken:


Cheney and Shiloh are back home in New York. Cheney wants to forget everything that happened in Arkansas. She and Shiloh have a strained relationship at the moment. All Cheney wants to do is open her own practice with Dev and treat all of the “nice” people of society. She refuses to go to the cholera hospital to help there. But Cheney does agree to help with research and maybe find what causes cholera. While cholera rages around the city Shiloh is trying to protect the woman who raised him and the orphanage full of children that she heads by entering into boxing matches to raise money to better the orphanage. Also introduced in this book is Jeremy Blue “rat-killer” and Victoria de Lancie, a rich young widow. With cholera raging around the city and the mortality rate being about half of all those who get it, Cheney is most careful in her research. What she doesn’t count on is Jeremy Blue’s enthusiasm for killing rats.

This is one of my favorite Cheney books! I love seeing Dev get some emotion to him. I enjoy reading the unlikely friendship that grows between Cheney and Victoria and of course Cheney’s continued growth and reliance on the Lord is wonderful to read. We learn more about Shiloh’s background as he tries to help one of the women that raised him care for her orphanage.  


 Toward the Sunrising:



Cheney and Shiloh are off to South Carolina to find out more about Shiloh’s past. Charleston is where Shiloh was left at an orphanage as a baby. Another of the Behring sisters still runs the orphanage that Shiloh grew up in. In the midst of reconstruction after the Civil War Charleston is a hotbed of tempers and prejudices. Cheney and Shiloh meet Shadrach Forrest Luxton the younger brother to Nathan Bedford Forrest. Shadrach and his two cadet friends from the Citadel end up in a lot of trouble and Nathan Bedford Forrest makes an appearance. Oh my, what an appearance he makes! 

I really enjoyed this installment of the Cheney Duvall series. I love the southern charm even in the midst of reconstruction. It is nice to read about men respecting women, and honoring and protecting them. Also in this book Cheney and Shiloh are more comfortable with each other and seem to be leaving what happened in Arkansas behind them. I enjoyed the light-hearted moments of Shiloh and Cheney lunching with Shadrach and company, shooting and enjoying a day away from all cares. I also am seeing that Cheney is maturing more and more in her walk with the Lord. Being a woman regardless of being a doctor she was not allowed to visit the veteran’s hospital, but seeing her handle the situation gracefully and humbly shows her maturing in faith. Definitely another of my favorites in this series.


 Secret Place of Thunder:


Shiloh and Cheney travel to Louisiana to help Cheney’s great aunts try to figure out what illness is befalling some of the sharecroppers on their indigo plantation. They are joined by Cheney’s parents and Victoria and Gowan Ford who is the aunts overseer. 

While at the aunts they are confronted with the evil of the voodoo. The high priestess and her followers are trying to run the aunts off of the plantation by casting spells and spreading fear among the inhabitants of Les Chattes Bleaues.

One of the things I like about the ereader edition of these books is that in the introduction to each book the author gives some background into the research and writing process of the story. While Secret Place of Thunder does delve into evil spirits and people being guided by those spirits the ultimate victory is found in Jesus Christ. So while the subject is dark and evil seems to be winning in some instances I loved how each person that had relationship with the Father above experienced some form of victory in their life. One of my favorite parts of the story was Richard going through Ephesians 6 step by step to encourage Gowan and Dev to clothe themselves in the armor of God. 

Once again Cheney and Shiloh’s relationship is strained. There is a definite attraction between the two, but Cheney knows that she could never act on those feelings because of Shiloh’s lack of a relationship with Jesus Christ. I do get a bit frustrated with this relationship for sure. As educated as Cheney seems to be, she has also been sheltered so I find that some of her behavior is more childish than her age and experience should reflect. Dev and Victoria have an attraction but Dev is committed to Cheney(from book one), so that relationship is also strained. We’ll see how it all plays out in the next installment…

 In The Twilight, In The Evening:


Cheney and Shiloh go to San Francisco in this installment. Cheney is to be a doctor in a private hospital and Shiloh to be a head nurse in the same hospital. Cheney is faced with many obstacles while working the overnight shift. Being a female doctor in a male dominated field Cheney is used to dealing with prejudices against her chosen field. But when Cheney allows her ego and pride to take control of her life she may risk losing Shiloh.

Shiloh finds one more piece of his past. He can’t understand what is going on with Cheney and why she is behaving the way she is. Cheney is confused about her feelings for Shiloh. She knows that they cannot have a more romantic relationship because of Shiloh’s unbelief, yet she also doesn’t want any other woman to have him.

This installment wasn’t my favorite, but as it reveals one more part of Shiloh’s past it is a necessary part of the series. I think we all go through times and seasons in our life where we forget that we need to rely on the Savior. Our attempts to rely on self come crashing around us after a while just like they did for Cheney.  Thankfully Cheney comes to her senses by the end of the book and we are left once more with Shiloh and Cheney’s relationship up in the air and potential for yet another opportunity to travel in search of Shiloh’s past.

 Island of the Innocent:


Cheney and Walker follow Shiloh to Hawaii. While in Hawaii they meet the Winslow family. The Winslow’s run a shipping company and raise all different kinds of crops that they ship all around the world. Shiloh went to Hawaii on one of the Winslow’s ships. Working off the cost of his travel expenses while sailing to Hawaii Shiloh has agree to Bain’s suggestion of fighting in a Hawaiian style fight against one of the biggest men Shiloh has ever seen. This fight will not be a boxing match, this is a no holds barred match that could very well kill Shiloh. That is what Bain is counting on. 

Arriving in Hawaii Shiloh finds work on one of the Winslow plantations. When Walker and Cheney arrive they go to meet Denise Winslow and her daughter Brynn. Walker and Brynn have an immediate attraction for each other but Denise has no time or patience with any of the newcomers. She has secrets to keep about Shiloh’s past and she will do anything in her power to get Shiloh, Cheney and Walker off of the Island. 

Of course wherever Shiloh and Cheney go there is always adventure. This time around they encounter a volcano. When Bain takes off and Denise refuses to leave they put many lives in danger. Will this be the last adventure that Cheney and Shiloh will ever face together? And will Shiloh finally find out the full story of his parents and who he really is?

I love this book in the series! But once again, Shiloh and Cheney’s relationship is left unsettled. They both make life or death decisions in the course of trying to save many lives. Several of the characters in the book are extremely unlikeable. I especially wanted to reach through the pages and slap the snot out of Denise Winslow. She is an evil woman! For all of her haughty behavior to Shiloh, Walker and Cheney she is a harridan when all chaos breaks loose! I think this installment had to be the most exciting for Cheney and Shiloh. More jungle to traipse through, add to that fire and water and earthquakes and the peril is intense. Add to that selfish people determined to get their own way ahead of others and you end up with a pretty fantastic read! 


 Driven with the Wind:


The last book in the Cheney Duvall books, although there is also a 3 book series called The Inheritance series that features Cheney and Shiloh after they marry. 

So yeah, before they get married there is a lot of stuff that goes on in Driven With the Wind. Shiloh asks Cheney to marry him, but of course Cheney has to say, “No” because Shiloh does not share Cheney’s faith. It is heart-breaking for both of them. They are back in New York for Dev and Victoria’s wedding and are constantly thrown together. It is uncomfortable for both of them, plus Shiloh has become bitter. In his bitterness he is making poor choices. He’s drinking, gambling and has taken up with Minette York, a popular actress. 

Bain Winslow is also in the picture but Shiloh and Cheney don’t know it yet. He is determined to make Shiloh suffer for taking his place in the family business.
Dev and Victoria also have their problems. Dev’s past comes back to haunt him and in an effort to protect Victoria he calls off the wedding. Dev underestimates Victoria’s strength though and of course all works out in the end. 

I always have mixed emotions when I read this book. Seeing Shiloh in self-destruct mode is kind of depressing and frustrating. I love Cheney’s strength throughout. And of course when Shiloh finally sees his need for a Savior there is much relief. Getting to that point though is kind of rough for all parties. And just because Shiloh is saved doesn’t mean his problems immediately go away. He still has to find Bain and still figure out how to care for his Aunt. These are only his first steps in maturing in relationship with his Lord. 

As mentioned above there are 3 other books that carry on with Cheney and Shiloh. They are called The Inheritance series. Currently only book 2 is offered in ebook format. Thankfully I have them in paperback because it looks like they are hard to come by currently. 

I loved reading through this series once again. I now have 8 of them on my Kindle and hope that the last 3 will eventually make it to Kindle. I'll be passing on my original copies to a great aunt of mine who also shares my love for reading.