Here and Gone by Haylen Beck Review

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Synopsis: Here and Gone is a gripping, wonderfully tense suspense thriller about a mother’s desperate fight to recover her stolen children from corrupt authorities.. It begins with a woman fleeing through Arizona with her kids in tow, trying to escape an abusive marriage. When she’s pulled over by an unsettling local sheriff, things soon go awry and she is taken into custody. Only when she gets to the station, her kids are gone. And then the cops start saying they never saw any kids with her, that if they’re gone than she must have done something with them… Meanwhile, halfway across the country a man hears the frenzied news reports about the missing kids, which are eerily similar to events in his own past. As the clock ticks down on the search for the lost children, he too is drawn into the desperate fight for their return.

My Thoughts: This book reminded me of a movie called Breakdown, starring Kurt Russell. The plots of the book and the movie are similar and both were successful in creating a lot of tension and suspense. This story is every mother’s worst nightmare…to have your children taken away and the blame put on you.

The writing style was very reader friendly but it read like a movie adaptation…there was a lot of telling instead of showing. The pacing was good, the story moved along with every page. The characters were decent but none of them stood out to me.

Overall, this was a good thriller but not one that will be memorable…there was nothing “special” about it.

My Rating: 4 stars

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Love Letters from God: Bible Stories for a Girl’s Heart by Glenys Nellist Review

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Description: In this heart-warming picture book designed for girls, author Glenys Nellist tells the inspiring stories of incredible women in the Bible. With beautiful illustrations by Rachel Clowes and sweet lift-the-flap envelopes, each story delivers a special message for children to open as they read their own personal love letters from God. Full of warmth and love, this picture book will fill girls’ hearts with the wonder of the Lord. The stories of Eve, Miriam, Rahab, Mary, and many more will delight children and remind them of the bond they can share with God, just like the women of the Bible.

My Thoughts: I was very impressed with how beautiful this book was when I received it. The illustrations are whimsical and fun and the colors are very pleasing to the eye. Because it’s such an inviting cover, I think many girls, young and old alike, will gravitate towards this book.

The stories are longer than I expected, which was a nice surprise. My 10 year old daughter found it to be enjoyable and not too “young” but I think younger girls would also enjoy it. I enjoyed the stories as a 37 year old girl, it’s a book that girls of all ages would enjoy.

Each story highlights a woman in the Bible and how God used her and illustrates His love for her and, in turn, us. Women in the book include Rahab, Eve, Mary Magdalene, Martha, and Mary, mother of Jesus. There is also a letter with a flap that you lift on each page that can be personalized. The letters are from God and add a nice touch to each story. At the end of the book there is a letter that the girl can write to God.

This would be an excellent gift for any young girl. I would highly recommend it.

My Rating: 5 stars

I received this book from Booklook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis Review

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Synopsis: ELKA BARELY REMEMBERS a time before she knew Trapper. She was just seven years old, wandering lost and hungry in the wilderness, when the solitary hunter took her in. In the years since then, he’s taught her how to survive in this desolate land where civilization has been destroyed and men are at the mercy of the elements and each other.
But the man Elka thought she knew has been harboring a terrible secret. He’s a killer. A monster. And now that Elka knows the truth, she may be his next victim.
Armed with nothing but her knife and the hard lessons Trapper’s drilled into her, Elka flees into the frozen north in search of her real parents. But judging by the trail of blood dogging her footsteps, she hasn’t left Trapper behind–and he won’t be letting his little girl go without a fight. If she’s going to survive, Elka will have to turn and confront not just him, but the truth about the dark road she’s been set on.
The Wolf Road is an intimate cat-and-mouse tale of revenge and redemption, played out against a vast, unforgiving landscape–told by an indomitable young heroine fighting to escape her past and rejoin humanity.

My Thoughts: This book took me much longer to read than most…it never really grabbed me. The plot sounded interesting, a girl living in a  post-apocalyptic world who is searching for her parents after discovering the man she thought of as her father was a murderer.

Unfortunately, I never got into the story. I found the main character Elka to be very unlikable and the pacing to be very slow. There were a lot of scenes with Elka in the woods alone with very little action.

I came to the conclusion that my main problem with this book is that it is a character-driven story and I prefer plot-driven stories. I can understand why many people who appreciate rich characters would love this story as Elka, although unlikable, is very developed and “real”.

The only thing I found interesting was the ending, although I had guessed the twist, but it was very clever.

If I hadn’t received this book for review, I would have DNF’d it but I always read review books to the end in order to give a full and honest review.

My Rating: 1.5 stars

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Invitation: Harbingers Cycle One by Bill Myers, Frank Peretti, Angela Hunt, and Alton Gansky Review

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Synopsis: Four Bestselling Authors Team Up for Thrilling Supernatural Suspense – Gathering four stories from four bestselling author friends, Invitation is the first collection in the ongoing Harbingers series.

In “The Call” by Bill Myers, four strangers are drawn together to help a student at the mysterious Institute for Advanced Psychic Studies. His gifts are supposedly being honed to assist world leaders . . . but there are some very disturbing strings attached.

Frank Peretti’s “The Haunted” confronts a supernatural mystery, a case of murder, and an exploration into the darkness of the human heart, all centering around a mysterious house.

In Angela Hunt’s “The Sentinels,” animals around the world are mysteriously dying. What could it mean? When the tragedy begins to touch Andi’s dreams, she discovers a terrifying theory.

“The Girl” by Alton Gansky is a gripping tale of a young barefoot girl found holding a scroll in the snowy Oregon mountains. She is sweet, innocent–apparently not of this world–and something wants to kill her.

My Thoughts: This is an interesting bind up of 4 novellas, each written by a different author but in stories that are connected to each other (each author narrating one of the 4 main characters in the book). It is presented like a television series with new “episodes” and at this point, there have been 18 novellas written for the series. Because of this, each story is left open-ended, which I don’t like. I’m not a fan of long book series’ so I’m not sure if I’ll continue.

Each story was enjoyable but I think my favorite was The Call by Bill Myers, told by Brenda, a tattoo artist. Each character has a special gift and they are brought together in each story to solve a problem.

The characters all had their own voice (a benefit of having 4 different authors writing each character). They were all different and well-rounded, they also had interesting background stories.

I found the overall story line of spiritual warfare interesting but struggled with the theology of some of the things that happened. When this occurred, I reminded myself that it was fictional, but I do tend to hold Christian Fiction at a higher standard than secular fiction when it comes to the lesson that is learned. Throughout the book, there weren’t really any lessons learned, which I didn’t care for.

Overall, this book was enjoyable but not something that I would read again.

My Rating: 3 and a half stars

I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Cynthia Ruchti’s ‘A Fragile Hope’ Blog Tour and Giveaway

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About the book:
Hope grows when seeds are planted-even in the muddy middle of life.
Josiah Chamberlain’s life’s work revolves around repairing other people’s marriages. When his own is threatened by his wife’s unexplained distance, and then threatened further when she’s unexpectedly plunged into an unending fog, Josiah finds his expertise, quick wit and clever quips are no match for a relationship that is clearly broken.
Feeling betrayed, confused, and ill-equipped for a crisis this crippling, he reexamines everything he knows about the fragility of hope and the strength of his faith and love. Love seems to have failed him. Will what’s left of his faith fail him, too? Or will it be the one thing that holds him together and sears through the impenetrable wall that separates them?
 

About the author:
Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed in hope through her novels, novellas, nonfiction books, articles and devotionals, drawing from 33 years of on-air radio ministry. Ruchti has written more than 20 award-winning novels, novellas, nonfiction books and devotionals. Her books have received numerous awards and nominations, including the RT Reviewers’ Choice, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year nominations, two Selah Awards, Christian Retailing’s BEST, was an ACFW Carol Award finalist and a Christy finalist, among other honors. Her latest release is the novel A Fragile Hope.
One of Ruchti’s greatest joys is helping other writers grow in their craft. To that end, she has served as worship and devotions staff and faculty for the Write-to-Publish conference and teaches at other writers’ conferences across the country and internationally as opportunities arise. She also serves as the professional relations liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers.
Ruchti speaks frequently for women’s groups and serves on her church’s worship team. She and her husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five grandchildren.
Find out more about Cynthia at http://www.cynthiaruchti.com.
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My Thoughts: This story was very thought provoking and introspective. It follows Josiah, who gives marriage advice for a living but his own marriage needs a lot of repair. He learns some very difficult lessons throughout the book and grows and develops as a person.

I enjoyed the story overall, the beginning and the ending were very interesting but it got a bit slow in the middle. It was a very realistic picture of what a person in Josiah’s position probably goes through. The romance in this book was beautiful. I prefer romance stories that revolve around marriages and this one was very well done.

The character development was very rich…I found myself going from frustration and anger towards a character to admiration and respect.

I highly recommend this book to people who like a good romance story with a rich plot.

My Rating: 4 stars

I received this book from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

Celebrate the release of A Fragile Hope by entering to win Cynthia’s Sign of Hope Giveaway!

One grand prize winner will receive:

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on May 3. The winner will be announced May 4 on the Litfuse blog.

The Berenstain Bears Friendship Blessings Collection Review

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The Berenstain Bears Living Lights, series continues to attract young readers through creative and engaging stories that not only entertain but teach values and life lessons. Now, five of the series’ favorite titles are available in a great new hardcover. This Berenstain Bears Living Lights treasury called Friendship Blessings Collection is sure to be a popular choice for Berenstain Bears fans.

This collection includes:
The Perfect Fishing Spot
Reap the Harvest
Faithful Friends
Kindness Counts
God Made You Special

My Thoughts: I grew up reading and loving the Berenstain Bears books. I remember checking many of them out of my library and sounding out the words as I was just learning to read. Recently I have rediscovered these books, which have been taken over by the late Stan and Jan’s son, Mike Berenstain and I have purchased a few for my children to enjoy. I am delighted to see that the new books contain Christian themes and Biblical lessons.

This book contains 5 stories, in a very nice hardcover book. The illustrations are the same as the original books but there is a new character, Honey Bear, who I assume is the youngest sister (I don’t remember her in the original stories that I read).

Each story was well done. My least favorite was The Perfect Fishing Spot, which is told in poem format and the moral of the story is a bit muddy. Reap the Harvest was about the benefits of working hard, Faithful Friends was a great story about making new friends but keeping old ones (I am planning on sharing this one with my 10 year old daughter as she’s facing a similar situation). Kindness Counts was my favorite of the stories, it talks about being kind to others, even when it goes against our first instincts, God Made You Special was another great story about a bear cub who has special needs but discusses how God has made him special and the bears learn from him.

Overall, this is a very good book for all children. I am thrilled to see that my beloved Berenstain Bears have stood the test of time.

My Rating: 5 stars

I received this book from Booklook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron Review

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Synopsis: Harry Houdini’s one-time apprentice holds fantastic secrets about the greatest illusionist in the world. But someone wants to claim them . . . or silence her before she can reveal them on her own.

Boston, 1926. Jenny “Wren” Lockhart is a bold eccentric—even for a female vaudevillian. As notorious for her inherited wealth and gentleman’s dress as she is for her unsavory upbringing in the back halls of a vaudeville theater, Wren lives in a world that challenges all manner of conventions.

In the months following Houdini’s death, Wren is drawn into a web of mystery surrounding a spiritualist by the name of Horace Stapleton, a man defamed by Houdini’s ardent debunking of fraudulent mystics in the years leading up to his death. But in a public illusion that goes terribly wrong, one man is dead and another stands charged with his murder. Though he’s known as one of her teacher’s greatest critics, Wren must decide to become the one thing she never wanted to be: Stapleton’s defender.

Forced to team up with the newly formed FBI, Wren races against time and an unknown enemy, all to prove the innocence of a hated man. In a world of illusion, of the vaudeville halls that showcase the flamboyant and the strange, Wren’s carefully constructed world threatens to collapse around her.

Layered with mystery, illusion, and the artistry of the Jazz Age’s bygone vaudeville era, The Illusionist’s Apprentice is a journey through love and loss and the underpinnings of faith on each life’s stage.

My Thoughts: This book contains a lot of things that I love…Vaudeville, mystery, illusionists, and a surprising twist. The story revolves around Wren Lockhart, a famous illusionist who was an apprentice for Harry Houdini. After a magician performs an illusion that results in the death of a man, the FBI gets the help of Wren to decipher what really happened on that day.

I am gaining more and more appreciation for historical fiction and I love the time period of the 1920s.  As I was reading this book, I felt like I was transported to the 20s…I could picture the theaters and flappers and glamorous parties that were vividly described in the story.

The characters were well developed, although I didn’t care for Wren at first but she grew on me as the story progressed.

I absolutely loved the scenes from Wren’s performances…I always loved watching illusionists and felt like an audience member watching her perform her amazing feats. I love Kristy Cambron’s writing style…it is very fluid and descriptive. She is very gifted at pulling the reader into the story.

The mystery seemed too weak to carry through the entire book. I found the resolution to be a bit rushed. I also didn’t care for the romance…it was very predictable and had an insta-love feel that seemed very unrealistic based on the personalities of the characters.

Overall, the story was a lot of fun and a great escape. I would highly recommend it for fans of historical fiction and the world of illusions.

My Rating: 4 stars

I received this book from Booklook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.