Sunday, February 28, 2016

Book Review: "Mermaid Moon"

Colleen Coble’s second Sunset Cove novel, Mermaid Moon, lives up to the standard she has set in her other works. Coble combines mystery and danger with romance and solid truth to create stories that not only entertain but also remind or teach readers of what’s most important in this life.

In this particular story, Mallory Davis is forced to return to the home she ran from fifteen years ago in order to investigate her dad’s mysterious death. Her neighbor/best friend goes along to offer moral support. Her 14-year-old daughter complains about being dragged away from her swim team and friends.

Mallory doesn’t expect to stay in Mermaid Point long but quickly learns there’s much more involved in the situation than she knows. When she realizes her life and her daughter’s may be in danger, she determines to stay until she uncovers the truth. Her ex-fiancĂ© reluctantly offers his assistance, not wanting anything bad to happen to Mallory but afraid of having his heart broken by her again.

Along with a great story, this book has some fun surprises. Readers not only get updates on characters from the first book in the series, but they also get to visit, briefly, with a character from another author’s books. I’ll let you see if you can recognize her when you read Mermaid Moon.

I thank Thomas Nelson Publishers for sending me a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this honest review.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Book Review: "Keeping Your Kids on God's Side"

Through her new book, Keeping Your Kids on God's Side: 40 Conversations to Help Them Build a Lasting Faith, Natasha Crain arms parents with the answers they need. This book is a resource every Christian parent can keep available for personal reference when the hard questions arise. It's also good information to have on hand when helping new Christians understand the faith or when having tough discussions with skeptics.

Crain's responses to the 40 questions are well-thought-out and presented in an easy to understand way. She includes conversations with her own children, discussions from her blog (where skeptics challenge her regularly), life analogies, Scripture references, and quotes from other experts to help parents gain the understanding they need to teach their children, to help them grow strong in Christ, to prepare them to face a world that will criticize their faith.

I will refer to this book often whether I'm talking with my kids or teaching somewhere else. I thank Harvest House Publishers for sharing a digital copy with me in exchange for this review.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Book Review: "Thin Ice"

Thin Ice is the second book in Irene Hannon’s Men of Valor series. This book focuses on the second of three brothers, FBI Special Agent Lance McGregor, a former Delta Force operator. In this book, he’s taking on his first case as an FBI agent, helping a retired, world-class figure skater discover the truth about the sister she thought was dead. An envelope addressed in Christy Reed’s sister’s handwriting containing a note from her kidnapper makes for a confusing case.

Fans of Irene Hannon’s novels will love the way she has McGregor work with characters from some of her previous books including the first in this series. It’s always fun to encounter familiar characters and get "updates" on their lives.

What really makes this particular book, though, is Hannon’s attention to detail regarding her characters and their occupations. As the mystery unfolds, readers learn about the military, the FBI, figure skating. They also learn about an historical event in Europe that has bearing on the case, homelessness, poverty, mental illness, and abuse.

Hannon has written an engaging and fascinating story. I enjoyed reading it and am looking forward to the next in this series. I thank Revell for sending me a complimentary copy in exchange for this honest review.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Book Review: "Undaunted Hope"

Undaunted Hope is the third book is Jody Hedlund’s Beacon’s of Hope series. The story stands alone but has some fun and surprising ties to the first two books in the series. (I haven’t read the first yet, but I didn’t see these ties as spoilers in any way. They just made me more eager to find time to read that first book.)

In this story, Tessa Taylor is trying to find a fresh start in a new community. She accepts a teaching position in Eagle Harbor, Michigan, a mining town. Though she’s determined to protect her reputation and keep the secrets of her past, she’s relieved when a new acquaintance, Alex Bjorklund, steps in to keep her from starting off with a tragic first misstep. Sadly, Alex turns out to be the community’s assistant lightkeeper, and Tessa, who grew up in a lighthouse, has vowed never to set foot in one again. She decides Alex is off-limits, but he has other ideas.

This was a fun and intense read. As always, Hedlund starts by putting her characters into hot water right off, turning up the heat again and again as the story goes on, developing strength and maturity in her creations and bringing them help from unexpected places before all is lost. I recommend this novel and thank Bethany House Publishers for sending a complimentary copy in exchange for this honest review.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Book Review: "The Newsmakers"

The Newsmakers by Lis Wiehl with Sebastian Stuart was a disappointment. Though published by Thomas Nelson Publishers, a division of Harper Collins Christian Publishing, there was nothing Christian in the book.

There was language, though. And the main character anticipated sleeping with her sort of boyfriend. And she found the inspiration for all she did in her desire to steal custody of her daughter back from her ex-husband, custody she lost because of her own life choices—choices that put her daughter in danger, choices her daughter was still recovering from. (I’m not saying such a mother shouldn’t aspire to repair the relationship with her daughter or to live a healthier life, just that this character’s motivations were more self- than Christ- or daughter-centered. She was more concerned with proving herself a good mom than with discovering what was best for everyone.)

This is a book about power and money and people using both to get what they want with little or no thought to what other people might want or need. As a secular book, it is intriguing and well-written. (My grievance isn't with the writers.) An ambitious newscaster is seeking truth at all costs, digging through layers of evil in search of the baddest, bad guy. It’s an intense, conspiracy-theory thriller.

But when I choose a book from a Christian publishing company, I expect to find more. I expect to find a character discovering Jesus for the first time or learning how to rely on Him to help her live and love well. The character doesn’t have to be perfect, in fact, she shouldn’t be. But she has to grow, somehow, in her relationship with God. When I choose a book from a Christian publishing company, I expect to find Jesus somewhere in the heart of the book. He was not in this one. That's what I found disappointing about this book.

I received a complimentary copy of The Newsmakers in exchange for this honest review.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Book Review: "You're the One That I Want"

I can’t believe it’s over! The Christiansen Family series is complete. All kids paired off and living happily ever after. What an amazing series!

The final book in this six novel plus two novella series wraps things up for Owen, the self-imposed outcast, and Casper, the self-righteous older brother—wanted by the police for a murder he didn’t commit. That’s quite a twist on Jesus’ story of the prodigal son!

You’re the One That I Want also introduces us to Scotty McFlynn, a young woman raised by a single father, the captain of an Alaskan crabbing boat. A police officer on leave and second-in-command of her father’s operation, Scotty can’t imagine marriage, home, or family in her future. And she certainly doesn’t want any part of the drama she discovers when transitional circumstances lead her to the Christiansen’s home.

Of course, Susan May Warren wraps everything up perfectly for everyone—even for Ingrid Christiansen, the family’s mom. I enjoyed reading this book—the entire series, and I recommend it to you.

Tyndale House Publishers sent me a complimentary copy of this book for my honest review.