Monday, August 5, 2019

Unique! ' Light from Distant Stars' - by Shawn Smucker

Cover Art

About the book:

When Cohen Marah steps over his father's body in the basement embalming room of the family's funeral home, he has no idea that he is stepping into a labyrinth of memory.

Over the next week, Cohen's childhood comes back in living color. The dramatic events that led to his parents' separation. The accident Cohen witnessed and the traumatic images he couldn't unsee. And the two children in the forest who became his friends--and enlisted him in a dark and dangerous undertaking. As the lines blur between what was real and what was imaginary, Cohen is faced with the question he's been avoiding:

Is he responsible for his father's death?

Master story weaver Shawn Smucker relays a tale both eerie and enchanting, one that will have you questioning reality and reaching out for what is true, good, and genuine.

My review:

This was definitely a unique story as I wasn't quite sure if it was spiritual warfare or a dream/nightmare or an allegory for much of it.  I liked how the story moved from past to present and back so there were two stories happening at once.  Cohen struggled with his faith as he felt he needed to keep confessing his guilt, yet won't confess all.  He wondered where God was in all of the mess.  He's angry at his parents for their divorce when he was a kid and the events surrounding it and how his life fell apart afterwards.  It really drove home how much selfishness affects other people and especially can hurt the children.  There were some creepy and suspenseful moments in the book and led to a somewhat shocking event I figured was coming and then another I didn't see coming!  This story dealt with faith and coming to terms with our parents' humanness and remembering the good times and the bad.  It's about the importance of dealing with things before it's too late and loving people while you have them.  If you like stories a little twisty and unique, you might want to check it out!

I received this book from Revell.  I was not compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own.

           The Author

  1. Shawn Smucker
    Photo by: John Sanderson of Sanderson Images

    Shawn Smucker

    Shawn Smucker is the author of the young adult novels The Day the Angels Fell and The Edge of Over There, as well as the memoir Once We Were Strangers. He lives with his wife and six children in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. You can find him...
    Continue reading about Shawn Smucker 

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Action-Packed Thrill Ride! 'The String' - by Caleb Breakey

Cover Art

About the book:

Welcome to the string. Let's go over the ground rules.

Rule #1: Participation is mandatory.
Rule #2: If any one person refuses to play, the threats to all players will come to pass.

Since this is my game, allow me to introduce myself. I am the conductor. Just as musicians in a symphony must follow the conductor's direction, the selected students and staff of Trenton University must submit to my commands . . . or risk massive chaos and deadly consequences. Even that pesky university cop, Markus Haas, who thinks he'll find a way out of the impossible dilemma in which I've trapped him. Oh, the surprises I have for him.

Ready to play?

My review:

Talk about a wild ride!  This book was hard to put down!  It just doesn't let up; it's suspenseful and action-packed from start to finish!  There were some crazy mind games as Markus tries to figure out who the conductor was and what his end game was.  It definitely got spooky a few times as it seemed he was everywhere and always one step ahead of Markus.  There was a hint of romance and a little bit of talk about faith as Markus cries out to God when he's terrified for his girlfriend, Stephanie, and her kids.  She has a strong faith and I liked her a lot.  I also liked Janet, an I.T. genius.  Both were strong female characters.  There were so many twists and turns; I was never sure who to trust!  It also sounds like there could be a sequel!  I highly recommend this story if you like suspense!

I received this book from Revell.  I was not compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own.

           The Author

  1. Caleb Breakey

    Caleb Breakey

    Caleb Breakey is the CEO of Speak It To Book, the premier ghostwriting agency for influencers, thought leaders, and industry celebrities. He is an ECPA Award finalist and a winner of the prestigious Genesis Contest for fiction writers, and he loves exploring...
    Continue reading about Caleb Breakey 

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Romance With Some Meat to It! 'Love and Other Mistakes' - by Jessica Kate

Welcome to the Blog Tour for Love and Other Mistakes by Jessica Kate, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

Title: Love and Other Mistakes
Jessica Kate
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Release Date:
July 30, 2019
Genre: Romantic Comedy

About the book:

There’s a fine line between love and hate . . . And for the last seven years, Natalie Groves has hated Jeremy Walters.
Natalie Groves was meant for great things. But soon after her fiancĂ© left, Natalie’s father was diagnosed with cancer. Suddenly her grand plans evaporated . . . and God felt very far away.
Fast-forward seven years, and an internship presents Natalie a chance at her destiny—but she needs a job to work around it. And the only offer available is worse than a life sentence. Her ex Jeremy, now back in town, is desperate for help with his infant son and troubled teenage niece, Lili. And Natalie may be just the one to help Jeremy . . . provided they don’t kill each other in the process.
When Jeremy and Natalie join forces, sparks fly. But will either of them get burned along the way?

My review:

This was a fun romance but it also had a lot more going on as Natalie was dealing with so much.  I loved the humor in it but I actually wished there had been more of that and not quite so much of everything going wrong.  Natalie's trying to juggle so much and I found myself getting a little overwhelmed imagining it!  I liked her but I couldn't picture wanting to be a leader in a ministry so I couldn't really relate to that.  I could relate to thinking for years you were going to do one thing and having a hard time letting that go.  I liked Jeremy, too, and his baby stole the show!  I could just picture how adorable he was.  I really felt for Jeremy and the tough relationship he had with his dad.  He never felt like he could measure up and that influenced how he viewed God.  Lili also struggled with trying to be perfect as a pastor's kid and believed her parents' and God's love depended on that.  My heart broke for Lili and what she was going through with her parents.  It would be awful to be put in the middle like she was.  I was glad that the truth came out in multiple situations and people finally got clarity on the past so they can move forward.  Natalie and Jeremy both had a strong faith now and struggled with forgiveness.  There were some good romantic moments.  I also loved that a couple characters were Australian, like the author.  It was fun to listen to their accents in my head as I read the book!  I would recommend this story if you like romance mixed with heavier life issues!

I received this book from JustRead Tours.  I was not compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own.

About the author:

Australian Jessica Kate is a sassy romance author and addict.
Her novels feature wit, snark and grit, and her StoryNerds podcast gives her a chance to nerd out with others about these ingredients in books, movies and TV.
She has a passion for garlic bread, theme parks and Batman.
Sign up to her newsletter at to hear first about her books, including her upcoming novels Love and Other Mistakes and A Girl’s Guide to the Outback.
The StoryNerds podcast is available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts and at

CONNECT WITH JESSICA: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!
*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Wonderful! 'Underestimating Miss Cecelia' - Regency Brides Daughters of Aynsley 2 - by Carolyn Miller

About the book:

Will a shrinking violet and a prodigal son come together to better their world?

Cecilia Hatherleigh has many secrets in her shy, sweet heart⁠—but none bigger than her unrequited love for Edward Amherst, the earl's son next door. Her love has persevered over many years, even when he grows to be a bit of a rake. Yet despite his fondness for females, he never seems to see her as anything more than the quiet younger sister, and nothing Cecy does has changed that. Rather than pining after his perhaps unworthy love, she decides to turn her focus toward living out her newly found faith. Now she's determined to follow God's leading to make a better world for the poor and dispossessed around her.

A London riot awakens Edward to the responsibilities due his family name. It's time to turn his life around to please his noble father⁠—and that means restoring his abandoned legal career and making a marriage of convenience. Neither will be easy, given his past and the prejudices of the upper echelons of society to which he belongs.

When misadventure strikes at a house party, these two are thrown together even as their lives are upended. If Cecy can't trust God, overcome her shyness, and find her inner strength, the good work they've both done may be for naught--and neither will ever find true love . . .

My review:

This was another wonderful book by Carolyn Miller! Her characters seem so real and I could feel Cecelia's pain as she has loved Edward for years but comes to realize he will never feel that way about her.  I liked how the story dealt with how sometimes women, and men, can put love or another person first in their lives instead of God.  While I loved the first book in this series about Cecelia's sister, I definitely have more of a similar personality to Cecelia and felt we could have been great friends.  I really liked the focus on helping the poor and disenfranchised that both Cecelia and Edward take on and it was interesting to learn more about the state of the poor working class at the time.  The Peterloo Massacre was mentioned and I had to google that to find out more.  I was also surprised to learn how much the gypsy was reviled with the possibility of being hung just for talking to one!  This story also really highlighted how boring a life a society woman could lead, having to attend events a lot and make polite conversation all of the time, never talking about anything very important and always trying to make the best match possible.  Her younger sister Verity definitely bucks that mold and I've been excited since the first book to read her story, which will be next.  I admired Edward a lot, too, but he really struggled with forgiving himself and accepting God's grace for his past mistakes, so it got a little frustrating to see him punish himself.  Both Cecelia and Edward had a strong faith while many of the other characters didn't, so it was interesting to see the different viewpoints.  There were also some wonderful romantic moments.  I would highly recommend this book if you like regency romance.

I received this book from Kregel Publications.  I was not compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Enjoyable! 'Clear Confusion' - by Kathy M. Howard

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About the book:

What am I going to do, God? Who am I?

Charlotte Hallaway needs to come to terms with her father's death. He had been her only family, and she wasn't handling her grief well. It was just supposed to be a few weeks of peace and quiet to process it all, but then she saw them-a drug deal and a murder within seconds of each other.
And they saw her.
Now running for her life, Charlotte boards a bus to escape her pursuers and wakes up the next morning in the woods of Jennings, Georgia, without a memory of how she got there or of who she is. All she knows is an underlying fear she can't seem to shake.
When two hunters find her battered and scared, can she put aside the clear confusion she's experiencing to trust them? She wants to trust them, especially Nicholas, but fear is holding her back. Trust is incredibly hard when one is so clearly confused. Could it be he and his friend are not who they claim to be?

Who are they really . . . and who is she?

My review:

This was a suspenseful story that really grabs your attention from the beginning!  I couldn't imagine how terrifying it would be to wake up in the woods not knowing who you were or how you got there.  I actually didn't remember what this story was about so I didn't find out for a while what she was doing there or how she got there, which made it even more suspenseful!  I admired her strength as she grapples with this and then when she does find out, how she deals with it as the trauma isn't over.  Her faith was such a strong part of that and the one thing she knew about herself, that she knew the Lord and loved Him.  Both her and Nicholas had a strong faith and I loved how that was a foundation for them.  I was glad to see a clear gospel message given and many references to prayer and depending on the Lord.  I also admired her grace and forgiveness in dealing with one of the bad guys.  Nicholas was such a great guy and had a wonderful attitude about life.  There was also a little bit of romance and action.  After such a suspenseful start the story did get a little too slow in the middle but I liked it overall.  I would recommend this story if you like romantic suspense!

I received this book from JustRead Tours.  I was not compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Enjoyable! 'A Perfect Weakness' - by Jennifer A. Davids


About the book:

The Civil War left its mark on Dr. John Turner. He turns his back on medicine and sees his unexpected inheritance in England as an opportunity to start over. But he never imagines how God intends to use his new role as lord of Ashford Hall or the beautiful woman he finds there to ease his troubled soul.

A tragic loss led Penelope Howard to bury her heart and dreams in her work for the Hall and the village of Woodley. But the arrival of the new heir stirs not only her discarded longings but her compassion as well. What burden does he carry that he can't accept that grace covers the darkest of sins?

A deadly epidemic sweeps through Woodley revealing secrets which threaten everything. The doctor faces a choice: leave or dare to believe what the Lord whispers through the woman John has come to love.

No one is beyond redemption.

My review:

I enjoyed this story about redemption, grace and second chances!  I really liked that Penelope and John were shown as flawed people, both having made mistakes.  However, there was quite a difference between Penelope accepting God's forgiveness and John, who can't seem to believe he could ever be forgiven.  I couldn't help but wonder if he had ever read the Bible or really heard a sermon talking about grace and forgiveness.  People repeatedly tried to tell him but he just couldn't seem to listen so his stubbornness did frustrate me.  Other than that, I liked him pretty well and Penelope was incredibly caring and compassionate.  I admired her selfless attitude and strong faith as she hadn't had an easy life with what she had gone through and then how her father treated her afterwards.  There were some good romantic moments and some suspense as an epidemic breaks out that they're trying to stop.  It was interesting to see how doctors worked in the last half of the 1800's and how some could be stubborn in trying new methods or questioning years' old practices or possible causes.  I admired Arthur, John's stable boy, who was learning about medicine, as he did what had to be done twice at great risk to his potential career.  Overall, this book had a wonderful message and if you like historical romance, you should check it out!

I received this book from JustRead Tours,  I was not compensated for my review.  All opinions are my own.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Enjoyable! 'Cameo Courtships: 4 Stories of Women Whose Lives Are Touched by a Legendary Gift' - by Susanne Dietze, Debra E. Marvin, Jennifer Uhlarik and Kathleen Y'Barbo


About the book:

A Family Heirloom Inspires Romance
In 1851, a special cameo is gifted by Queen Victoria to Letitia Newton, who though considered an old maid, meets the perfect gentleman minutes after donning. Told by the Queen the cameo is to be shared, Letitia gifts the "Victoria Cameo" to a woman in her family, hoping adventure and romance will follow each of its subsequent wearers.

1851 – Pittsburgh, PA
After receiving the Victoria Cameo, aspiring journalist Clara Newton works to expose a smuggler, but reporter Byron Breaux must break the story first or lose his job. Working together is out of the question until they learn secrets that threaten Clara’s father. . .and her heart.

TAMING PETRA by Jennifer Uhlarik
1875 – Colorado Territory
Trouser-wearing frontierswoman Petra Jayne Hollingsworth has no intention of donning the heirloom cameo, but when a crooked brothel owner steals the treasure, securing its return becomes Petra’s highest priority. Assisting her, Reverend Dustin Owens is appalled to learn the price of its ransom is that Petra must work in the brothel. He may save the woman’s virtue, but can he help Petra regain her cameo and rediscover her faith?

MEET ME AT THE FAIR by Kathleen Y’Barbo
Spring 1885 – New Orleans during the 1884 World’s Fair and Cotton Exposition
It takes a Pinkerton to find a Pinkerton, and Ethan Butler has been charged with finding Elizabeth Newton. Just when he locates her, the cameo he is to deliver is stolen. It appears his previous case has discovered his presence in New Orleans, but he can’t return to that case until the cameo is found. With Miss Newton as a reluctant partner in crime fighting, can Ethan Butler locate the cameo and its thieves without losing his heart?

LENDING MY HEART by Debra E. Marvin
1895 – Pittsburgh, PA
The arrival of a handsome Scottish administrator ruins Miss Bertie Hart’s dream to oversee the new Carnegie Library children’s department. Yet bristly Mr. Russell Smart’s working-class determination and his love of books make him the perfect partner to better the lives of Pittsburgh’s poor. As for a partner in life? Not even her Victoria Cameo can narrow the social chasm he and her father keep between them.

My review:

I enjoyed these stories a lot as they were all interesting, with something always going on!  There was a lot of action, some romance, all with elements of faith as they forgive and open their hearts to love, both God's and human's.  I mostly liked the characters; the women were strong and stubborn and the men tried to keep up with them, which was amusing.  One character made me shake my head over some of her choices and sometimes there was a little bit of confusion for me with the plots but mostly I looked forward to seeing what would happen next and enjoyed watching the characters fall in love.  I liked how the stories were connected by the cameo and the characters were related to each other and there was a fun epilogue tying them all together.  I also liked a section Y'Barbo put in with interesting facts she found out as she researched her story.  Only one author was familiar to me but I'll definitely be reading more by all of them.  I recommend this book if you like historical romances.

I received this book from JustRead Tours.  I was not compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own.