Wild Montana Skies

wmskies-coverBook Review: Wild Montana Skies

Author: Susan May Warren

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Revell’s website for Wild Montana Skies:

The last thing Search and Rescue helicopter pilot Kacey Fairing needs upon returning home to Mercy Falls, Montana, is to run into her mistakes. After a devastating crash during her recent military tour in Afghanistan, she is emotionally broken but ready to start putting her life back together. She just wants to reconnect with her teenage daughter and spend the summer working as the new lead pilot of PEAK Rescue in Glacier National Park.

But her mistakes aren’t so easily forgotten. Because Ben King is also back in town.

Country music star Ben King abandoned his past when he moved to Nashville thirteen years ago to start his career. He hoped to heal his broken heart, caused by losing the woman he loved. But when his father is injured, Ben is called home to help manage PEAK Rescue during his recovery. He doesn’t realize his father has ulterior motives until his old flame, Kacey, walks into his house and back into his heart.

Now, with Mercy Falls in a state of emergency due to flash floods, Kacey and Ben will have to work together to save lives. But when secrets are uncovered and old hurts rise to the surface, will they walk away again? Or can they find a different ending to their country love song?

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            I have been an avid fan of Susan May Warren for several years now, and it doesn’t look like that’ll change any time soon! I am so excited about her Montana Rescue series, and after reading the first book in the series, I have some reasons to tell you why you should be excited too!

  1. The spiritual themes.

In this book, Ben and Kacey have a lot to learn about forgiveness and trust and letting God take control of their lives. Susan writes in such a way that it was a lesson that touched my heart as well. She writes about God’s love and His desire to have us trust Him in a way that fills up the heart and points it towards Him.

  1. The unique characters.

I’m not sure how she does it, but in each book her characters are so different and varied that it never feels like you’ve read about them before. Ben King is a country music star. Kacey is a soldier who flies choppers. She is able to learn what that consists of for both characters and make it come alive on the page. As was touched on earlier, she also develops the characters in such a way that it’s hard to believe sometimes that they’re not real people. The romance is always well-crafted and tasteful, and the plot continues to thicken throughout the book.

  1. The small-town setting.

This seems to be her special niche, her forte. And she carries that through into these Montana Rescue books. All the characters live in the same town, they’re involved in each other’s lives. She writes about it in such a way that when you step into one of her novels, it feels like you’re coming home. This series, set in Montana, on the edge of Glacier National Park, promises to be full of suspense, danger, beauty, and fun.

So there you go. Three very good reasons why you too should read (and hopefully love!) Susan’s books, but specifically her latest, Wild Montana Skies.

About the Author

Biography from Revell’s website: Susan May Warren is the ECPA and CBA bestselling author of over fifty novels, including Wild Montana Skies, with more than one million books sold. Winner of a RITA Award and multiple Christy and Carol Awards, as well as the HOLT and numerous Readers’ Choice Awards, Susan has written contemporary and historical romances, romantic suspense, thrillers, romantic comedy, and novellas. She can be found online at http://www.susanmaywarren.com, on Facebook at SusanMayWarrenFiction, and on Twitter @susanmaywarren

I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.

Tangled Webs

28637715Book Review: Tangled Webs

Author: Irene Hannon

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Revell’s website for Tangled Webs:

Finn has packed away his combat instincts–but he may need them again when danger begins to stalk his quiet hideaway . . .

After a disastrous Middle East mission ends his six-year Army Ranger career, Finn McGregor needs some downtime. A peaceful month in the woods sounds like the perfect way to decompress. But peace isn’t on the agenda once he crosses paths with publishing executive Dana Lewis, a neighbor who is nursing wounds of her own. Someone seems bent on disrupting her stay in the lakeside cabin she inherited from her grandfather. As Finn and Dana work together to discover who is behind the disquieting pranks, the incidents begin to take on a menacing tone. And when it becomes apparent Dana’s foe may have deadly intent, Finn finds himself back in the thick of the action–ready or not.

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            I’ve read a couple other books by Irene Hannon, which I’ve enjoyed, but this one just wasn’t for me. Neither of the characters really resonated with me, and the plot seemed to lag. Part of the problem was that the book is somewhat suspenseful, but the antagonist’s viewpoint is included in the book, so I knew whodunit and why. So, for me, it just didn’t work. However, I know plenty of other people have enjoyed this series, so that’s just one opinion among many.

About the Author

Biography from Revell’s website: Irene Hannon is the bestselling author of more than fifty novels, including One Perfect Spring, Hope Harbor, and Sea Rose Lane, as well as the Private Justice and Men of Valor suspense series. Her books have been honored with three coveted RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America, two Carol Awards, two Reviewers’ Choice Awards from RT Book Reviews magazine, a Retailers’ Choice Award, three HOLT Medallions, two Booksellers’ Best Awards, and a National Readers’ Choice Award. She is also a two-time Christy Award finalist. Learn more at www.irenehannon.com

I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.

Can’t Help Falling

cant-help-falling-9781501117343_hrBook Review: Can’t Help Falling

Author: Kara Isaac

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Simon and Schuster’s website for Can’t Help Falling:

A funny, heartfelt romance about how an antique shop, a wardrobe, and a mysterious tea cup bring two C.S. Lewis fans together in a snowy and picturesque Oxford, England.

Emelia Mason has spent her career finding the dirt on the rich and famous. But deep down past this fearless tabloid-reporter façade, there’s a nerdy Narnia-obsessed girl who still can’t resist climbing into wardrobes to check for the magical land on the other side. When a story she writes produces tragic results, she flees to Oxford, England—home to C.S. Lewis—to try and make amends for the damage she has caused.

Peter Carlisle was on his way to become one of Great Britain’s best rowers—until he injured his shoulder and lost his chance at glory. He’s determined to fight his way back to the top even if it means risking permanent disability to do so. It’s the only way he can find his way past failing the one person who never stopped believing in his Olympic dream.

When Peter and Emelia cross paths on her first night in Oxford, the attraction is instant and they find common ground in their shared love of Narnia. But can the lessons from a fantasyland be enough to hold them together when secrets of the real world threaten to tear them apart? Cobblestone streets, an aristocratic estate, and an antique shop with curious a wardrobe bring the world of Narnia to life in Kara Isaac’s inspiring and romantic story about second chances.

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            I have heard an incredible amount of buzz over the internet and in person about Kara Isaac and her books. Not only does the author have a great connection with her readers, but she also writes very well. I haven’t read her first book, Close to You, but oooh, I want to now.

Kara’s writing style is light and easy to read, which is deceptive, because this story about second chances with people and with God packs a punch. I could tell that she was from New Zealand every now and then, because she had knowledge about things I didn’t even know I didn’t know. 😉 Even though this book is set in Great Britain, she does a fantastic job with creating a vivid picture of the area and its culture.

My heart went out to the heroine, Emelia, many times, as her story unfolded. The life she lived previous to coming to Oxford was messy and harsh, and her warped view of God did nothing to help her along. The change that took place in her was long in coming, but that’s what made it feel natural, real, and not forced. I also enjoyed Peter as a character, and the ability to get a glimpse into the sport of rowing. Which, prior to reading this, I knew next to nothing about. The secondary characters are colorful and unique, adding plenty of fun.

This book is lighthearted and humorous, a fun read, though I would say it’s a little edgier than some Christian fiction. Be warned, Emelia’s fascination with Narnia may even drive you to pick up the Chronicles of Narnia and dive back into that enchanting world. It did me.

About the Author

Biography from Simon and Schuster’s website: Kara Isaac is an award-winning writer who lives in Wellington, New Zealand, where her career highlights include working in tourism as Private Secretary for the Prime Minister. She loves great books almost as much as she loves her husband and two children.

I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.

Shadow of the Storm

ShadowoftheStorm_mck.inddBook Review: Shadow of the Storm

Author: Connilyn Cossette

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Bethany House’s website for Shadow of the Storm:

In the darkness of the storm’s shadow, only truth can light her way.

Having escaped Egypt with the other Hebrews during the Exodus, Shira is now living in freedom at the foot of Mount Sinai. When the people rebel by worshipping a golden idol, the ensuing chaos gives Shira an unexpected opportunity to assist a midwife. When the experience awakens a new desire in her, she defies her mother’s wish for her to continue in the family weaving trade and pursues her heart’s calling as an apprentice midwife.

But when a delivery goes horribly wrong, Shira finds herself in an impossible situation and bound to a man who betrayed her. As contention between the Hebrew tribes and the foreigners fans the flames of another dangerous rebellion, Shira comes face to face with the long-hidden pain of her past. Can she let go of all that has defined her to embrace who she truly is and believe in a hopeful future?

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            I am beyond impressed by this book. I don’t generally venture into Biblical Fiction, because sometimes the facts are distorted or the liberties taken are too much. However, in Shadow of the Storm, Connilyn strikes a great balance. This book is rich in historical detail, but also takes a look at what some of the emotions of the people may have been. The account of what happened to the Israelites after they came out of Egypt does not have many details, so much of this story is just a guess at what it may have been like. However, Connilyn does this with respect towards what the Bible says, staying close to the text.

This is the second book in a series, so I didn’t have some of the background that was supposed to go with it, but that didn’t really hamper my enjoyment of the story. Connilyn’s writing style is easy to understand, but rich in word choice. Each page was a joy to experience. The themes in the book and the message that the characters learned also touched my heart. This was one of my favorite lines:

“‘There will always be storms, Shira. There will be loss in your life, sometimes devastating loss. But if you let the wind and the rain overcome you, then you will never fulfill the purpose for which you were born, the reasons Yahweh gave you breath and brought you to this time, to this place. There will be times when there is nothing you can do but survive, to place one foot after the other into the driving rain.’ Her thin lips flattened. ‘You can tuck your head under your wing for a while, Shira, and wait out this storm. But you will fly again.’”

This book deals with some difficult issues and mature themes in the lives of the characters, but Connilyn does it in a graceful way. I really enjoyed this book, and I highly recommend it. Even for those who aren’t always a fan of Biblical Fiction.

About the Author

Biography from Bethany House’s website: When she is not homeschooling her two sweet kids (with a full pot of coffee at hand), Connilyn Cossette is scribbling notes on spare paper, mumbling about her imaginary friends, and reading obscure, out-of-print history books. There is nothing she likes better than digging into the rich, ancient world of the Bible and uncovering buried gems of grace that point toward Jesus. Her novel Counted With the Stars won the 2013 Frasier Contest and was a semifinalist in the 2013 ACFW Genesis Contest. Although a Pacific Northwest native, she now lives near Dallas, Texas. Connect with her at www.connilyncossette.com

I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.

66 Ways God Loves You, and a Giveaway!

9780718087708-jpgBook Review: 66 Ways God Loves You

Author: Jennifer Rothschild

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Amazon’s website for 66 Ways God Loves You:

66 books, one incredible message

God’s Word is many things—instructive, historical, poetic. Yet to Jennifer Rothschild, the Bible is also an incredible love letter. In 66 Ways God Loves You, she walks you through each of the sixty-six books of the Bible and shows, in concise and thoughtful ways, how every book reflects God’s love for each of us, such as:

In Genesis God fashions me with His hands.

In Esther He Makes me royalty

In Acts God’s Spirit comes to live in me.

In I Peter God gives me victory over suffering.

Each chapter includes a succinct, meaningful reading on the message of that book in the Bible, along with a simple takeaway to help you bring the message to light in your own heart and life.

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            I really enjoyed this book. I was encouraged as I read it, and very impressed by how Ms. Rothschild could take one book of the Bible, narrow its focus down so she could write two pages about how God’s love is portrayed in it, and make it applicable for us without taking it out of context. This book is visually appealing, but also appeals to the heart and soul as she teaches the reader more about how much God loves them.

Though it’s a small book focused on the love of God, 66 Ways God Loves You is also surprisingly rich in doctrine. I wasn’t sure what sort of doctrinal basis this book would have, if it would only focus on God’s love and forget His justice, but I was very impressed by Ms. Rothschild’s ability to balance that out. Inevitably, different doctrinal issues came up in this book, but I found we agreed on most everything, which I found interesting.

One of my favorite (because I can’t narrow it down to one!) chapters was the one from Zephaniah, The Mighty God Sings Over Me with Great Joy. It was such an awesome reminder that not only does God love me, He likes me too! And He delights in me.

            All in all, I really liked this book. It’s definitely a keeper for me, and maybe for you too! Today, courtesy of the publisher, I’m going to be giving away one copy to one of you! Make sure you enter to win this great book.

Click on the link and fill out the options to enter: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/fea9d3732/

About the Author

Biography from Thomas Nelson’s website: Jennifer Rothschild has written 13 books and Bible studies, including the bestsellers, Lessons I Learned in the Dark and Self-Talk, Soul-Talk. She has appeared on Good Morning America, Dr. Phil, Life Today, and a Billy Graham television special and spoken for Women of Faith and Extraordinary Women. She is the founder of the Fresh Grounded Faith conferences and womensministry.net. She lost her sight at age 15 and regularly travels and speaks around the country, sharing her story and all God has done in her life. Jennifer lives with her family in Missouri.

I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.

Child of the River

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Book Review: Child of the River

Author: Irma Joubert

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Book Look Blogger’s website for Child of the River:

A compelling coming of age story with an unlikely and utterly memorable heroine, Child of the River is a timeless tale of heartbreak and triumph set in South Africa at the dawn of apartheid.

Persomi is young, white, and poor, born the middlea child of illiterate sharecroppers on the prosperous Fourie farm in the South African Bushveld. Persomi’s world is extraordinarily small. She has never been to the local village and spends her days absorbed in the rhythms of the natural world around her, escaping the brutality and squalor of her family home through the newspapers and books passed down to her from the main house and through her walks in the nearby mountains.

Persomi’s close relationship with her older brother Gerbrand and her fragile friendship with Boelie Fourie—heir to the Fourie farm and fortune—are her lifeline and her only connection to the outside world. When Gerbrand leaves the farm to fight on the side of the Anglos in WWII and Boelie joins an underground network of Boer nationalists, Persomi’s isolated world is blown wide open. But as her very small world falls apart, bigger dreams become open to her—dreams of an education, a profession, a native country that values justice and equality, and of love. As Persomi navigates the changing world around her—the tragedies of war and the devastating racial strife of her homeland—she finally discovers who she truly is, where she belongs, and why her life—and every life—matters.

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            This book was not what I expected. I definitely thought it would have more focus on World War II, but while that was not the case, I got sucked into this story in ways I didn’t expect.

Child of the River is a break from what I normally read. The story did not have a strong Christian story line. It does mention faith a few times, but reads more like a general market novel. This book is unique and seeks to challenge commonly held views. I can see why Ms. Joubert has had such success in publishing.

I had never read anything set in South Africa, let alone during this particular time period, so I loved being able to learn about that specific geographical and historical era. I’ve read many books set during WWII, but none dealing with what Ms. Joubert addresses. Persomi’s past is tragic, at best. And though the author dealt with the deep issues in Persomi’s family in a tactful way, it was still difficult to read about what her sister went through. Prejudice runs deep in this time period, in many different forms, and Ms. Joubert seeks to turn that on its head as Persomi views the world in a different way than many in her community. I couldn’t say that I agreed with her perspective on everything, but it was still intriguing to read about.

My heart broke for Persomi as she encountered success, then setback, over and over in her family life, social life, and love life. It really seemed like she would never reach that point of happiness, but in the end she did, without cutting any corners or cheating, which I have the highest respect for.

This book is thick, but it swept me away. I couldn’t tear myself away, which resulted in a few late nights, and sleep that this college student couldn’t afford to lose. 😉 Ms. Joubert writes with a talent that springs off the pages into the reader’s mind, and creates sweeping landscapes, raging emotions, and challenging viewpoints. If you’re a lover of history, of learning new things, and of fantastic writing (in the general market sense) then you need to at least think about picking up Child of the River. Now I just need to back track and read her first book published in the U.S., The Girl from the Train.

About the Author

Biography from Goodread’s website: International bestselling author Irma Joubert was a history teacher for 35 years before she began writing. Her stories are known for their deep insight into personal relationships and rich historical detail. She’s the author of eight novels and a regular fixture on bestseller lists in The Netherlands and in her native South Africa. She is the winner of the 2010 ATKV Prize for Romance Novels.

I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.

When Love Arrives

28637702Book Review: When Love Arrives

Author: Johnnie Alexander

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Revell’s website for When Love Arrives:

Dani had planned to spy on Brett–so how did she end up on a date with him?

Dani Prescott can’t believe the lie Brett Somers is trying to sell to the media. During an interview about the plane crash that killed his parents, he blamed Dani’s mother. But the crash killed her as well. Vowing to restore her mother’s reputation, Dani has been following Brett and taking photos, hoping to find something she can use to discredit him. But when she catches his eye instead, she quickly finds herself agreeing to a date. Brett knows this mystery girl is hiding something–but he’s got his own secrets to keep. What will happen when he discovers who she really is?

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            So, I struggled with this book for the first half of the story. The back cover made me think this story was going in a different direction, so I had a hard time figuring out where, exactly, this story was going. I didn’t like either Dani or Brett at the beginning. Neither one is a very nice person. But as the story progressed, I found that I started to like them more, though it wasn’t until the ending that I was on board with the two of them. I really liked the secondary characters and what was going on with them. The change that occurs in both Dani and Brett seemed authentic, so I enjoyed reading that. Overall, it was an ‘ok’ book. Not my favorite, but not a bad book either.

About the Author

Biography from Revell’s website: Johnnie Alexander is the award-winning author of Where Treasure Hides and Where She Belongs. Johnnie is an accomplished essayist and poet whose work has appeared in the Guideposts anthology A Cup of Christmas Cheer. In addition to writing, she enjoys reading, spending time with her grandchildren, and taking road trips. She lives near Memphis, Tennessee. Learn more about Johnnie and her books at: http://johnnie-alexander.com/

I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.