Monday, 12 February 2018

The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright

Back Cover: Kaine Prescott is no stranger to death. When her husband died two years ago, her pleas for further investigation into his suspicious demise fell on deaf ears. In desperate need of a fresh start, Kaine purchases an old house sight unseen in her grandfather's Wisconsin hometown. But one look at the eerie, abandoned house immediately leaves her questioning her rash decision. And when the house's dark history comes back with a vengeance, Kaine is forced to face the terrifying realization she has nowhere left to hide.

A century earlier, the house on Foster Hill holds nothing but painful memories for Ivy Thorpe. When an unidentified woman is found dead on the property, Ivy is compelled to discover her identity. Ivy's search leads her into dangerous waters, resurrecting painful memories and forcing a reunion with the man who broke her heart. Can Ivy unravel the mystery and find a renewed hope before any other lives--including her own--are lost?

Review: I really enjoyed this book. It kept me on the edge of my seat from the first to the last page. J.J. Wright did an amazing job at writing a disturbing thriller, but showing it through the mirrored gaze of several spectacularly amazing heroines. Through the eyes of three incredible women, we learn the terrible secret of the house on Foster Hill. 

The multi-generational storytelling in this novel was carried out seamlessly. I often become a little disinterested or tend to have preference over one character than another when authors choose to run multiple stories in parallel. This was not the case with this story. The two eras fit together effortlessly and each story lent value and fascination to the other. I eagerly anticipated reading each point of view and never felt like I was loosing out when the era switched. 

I found this story to be very well thought out and cleverly written. I was also amazed at the powerful faith examples lived out by the women in this story. The Bible isn't preached in this novel, but it is lived vividly in the lives of the women of Foster Hill - and through some rather terrible circumstances, I might add. All I can say, and though I hate to repeat myself, is that this was a powerful novel that will stick with me for some time. I would definitely recommend it if you are in search of a mystery/thriller. 

Thank-you to Graf Martin Communications and Baker Publishing House for a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Saturday, 20 January 2018

These Healing Hills by Ann H. Gabhart

Review: I am a fan of Ann H. Gabhart's new mystery series as well as her book "Words Spoken True". I haven't yet read any of her earlier works. However, after completing "These Healing Hills" I am certainly going to go back and read the rest of her published novels. "These Healing Hills" was a beautiful example of a gifted writer going the extra mile to not only create believable and lovable characters but to bring to life an era and a subset of people that I would have never know anything about before. I can not imagine how much time Ann Gabhart spent researching this novel. What an exhaustive effort... but completely worth it.

The details in this work made the story come alive. I loved the unique phrasing and way of saying things that the Appalachian mountain people used in their every-day-talk. I enjoyed learning about Sourgum making, their tough way of life, the mountains, and especially about the frontier nurses/midwives that served the mountains on horseback. From a history standpoint, this was such an amazing story. I am glad an author as skilled as Ann H Gabhart was the one to take on this particular piece of American history. This story deserved an amazing retelling.

As far as the characters went, I loved Francine, Woody, Granny Em, Ben Locke... the whole crew just brought the story to life. They were all so unique and I loved watching them change and grow throughout the story. Francine's transformation from a wounded city girl on the run to a confident nurse/midwife in love with the Appalachian mountains and its people was really enjoyable to read. Also, the gentle love story between Francine and Ben was so sweet it made me cry. I really enjoyed this book and would certainly recommend it.

Back Cover: Francine Howard has her life all mapped out--until the man she loves announces his plans to bring home an English bride from war-torn Europe in 1945. Devastated, Francine seeks a fresh start in the Appalachian Mountains, training to be a nurse midwife for the Frontier Nursing Service.

Deeply affected by the horrors he witnessed at war, Ben Locke has never thought further ahead than making it home to Kentucky. His future shrouded in as much mist as his beloved mountains, he's at a loss when it comes to envisioning what's next for his life.

When Francine's and Ben's paths intersect, it's immediately clear that they are from different worlds and value different things. But love has a way of healing old wounds . . . and revealing tantalizing new possibilities.

Thank-you very much to Graf Martin Communications and to Baker Publishing House for a copy of this book. My opinion is completely truth and my own.

Monday, 8 January 2018

Crown of Souls by Ronie Kendig

What a way to kick off 2018! I started the new year reading the sequel to one of my top picks from 2017. I know it's very early on in the 2018 book season, but I may have already read my favourite book of the year: Crown of Souls by Ronie Kendig.

Welcome to another adventure with the ultra-awesome, hard core, kick-butt amazing Tox Russel. Tox and his team of highly specialized operatives are faced with a mission that strikes close to home when one of Tox's old war-time friends becomes mixed up with a dangerous artifact. This artifact, a deadly crown, takes over Alec's mind. Crazed and aided by the supernatural powers of the mysterious crown, Alec becomes rapidly more wicked as he strikes with disturbing precision. Convinced that he's acting in the name of justice, Alec puts out an offer for Tox to join him. Tormented, Tox is faced with a struggle that is not only physical, but internal as well.

Enter Haven: deception expert and plucky girlfriend. She realizes quickly that Tox is identifying with Alec more than he should. As they madly chase Alec around the globe, Haven is hard pressed to keep Tox's head together. Things get trick when Alec sets his sights on her and Tox opens up to her about his past.

This book is filled with big-screen worthy fight scenes, unforgettable characters, and mind bending supernatural elements. These books need to become a movie. The plot is one big twist and I could NOT put this book down. It dug it's hooks into me with the first page, and now that it's over (with a major cliff hanger at the end!) I am dying to read the next one. Write quick, Ronie Kendig! And please.... a twenty or thirty part series would be amazing. :)

I would highly, highly recommend both books in this series. In fact, I insist. You must read it. 



Back Cover: When You Stare Into the Abyss It Also Stares Into You

The bullet that rips into Cole “Tox” Russell was never meant to kill. It was meant to send a message. Only one man is skilled enough to have taken the shot, a rogue Special Forces operator who vanished months ago.
Alec King is perhaps the only person as skilled as Tox, and he’s out for justice. Furious with orders that got his men killed, he intends to make those responsible pay. And he insists Tox join him, believing they are the same breed of soldier.
Afraid his old friend could be right, Tox battles a growing darkness within himself as he and his team are forced into another deadly encounter with antiquity. It appears Alec is harnessing the power of a mysterious artifact, a crown that history has linked to some of the worst slaughters in humanity. Racing to stop Alec before his vengeance is unleashed, Tox must fight the monster without becoming on

Thank-you to Graf Martin Communications and Baker Publishing House for a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Eyes to See


Everyone needs to go through the 30 day study enclosed within Eyes To See. This is a heavy, thought-provoking and tactical look at what poverty looks like, what is means, what causes it, and what we can do about it. It challenges your ideas on what poverty is and forces you to think about poverty in the context of our own lives.

I would highly recommend this 30 day study. It is time well spent.

Thank-you to Graf Martin Communications for a complimentary copy of this book to review. As a side note: This book can be ordered off amazon, or you can order it directly from compassion in groups of 10 for only $2.99 each ( https://www.compassion.ca/curriculum/eyestosee/orders/ )

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

The Royal Chef at Home


Review: I typically review works of fiction, but today I diverged into some different territory. The new cookbook, "The Royal Chef" landed on my doorstep, and I enjoyed a mouthwatering hour flipping through the thick, glossy pictures.

The things I loved about this book.... First, it boasts many delicious looking photos. I always find it inspiring when I flip through a cookbook and see something that appeals to me. Generally, it is the photo that catches my eye first and encourages me to read the recipe. Second, the recipes were approachable. There were some more complicated dishes in this book, but there were also many simple but tasty looking pieces with recognizable ingredients that most people would have in their cupboards or fridges every day. In fact, the majority of the recipes I could try without having to go and search out some strange and unknown spice or veggie. I am easily intimidated by complicated recipes, and this book actually inspired me to try some new things. Third, "The Royal Chef" has a very simple and clean design. Each page only hosts a single recipe. It is very user-friendly and does not overwhelm at all. Fourth, and lastly, it is ridiculously mouth watering. I can't wait to  start cooking out of it. There is a nice blend of recognizable recipes (with a twist, of course) but also some very creative and inventive ideas that look absolutely scrumptious but are completely unique (great to surprise your family and friends with this Christmas season).

I was planning to cook a recipe out of it tonight... but I accidentally left it at my mom's house and I'm afraid I won't be getting it back...! Early Christmas present?? But in all seriousness, this cookbook would make a lovely gift to any cook in your home, whether they are just starting out on their culinary adventures or are seasoned veterans.

Thank-you to Graf Martin Communications for a complimentary copy of this cook book in exchange for my honest opinion.


From the Publisher:

The Royal Chef is at it again! Darren McGrady, former personal chef to Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Diana, has curated and created delicious, easy recipes that will add an elegant touch to any meal without requiring hours of laboring in the kitchen.

Darren's Easy Seasons is perfect for entertaining no matter what the time of year, including midday lunches and brunches, teas, indoor and outdoor sit-down and buffet dinners, and cocktail parties. The book is also organized by season with events including a Children's Easter Egg Roll, Valentine's Day for Two, a proper Sunday dinner, Christmas open house, and Thanksgiving.

Darren also provides tips on ingredients, substitutions, and alternatives, making this book an easy but comprehensive "go-to" party-planning resource. Includes "Notes on Entertaining" to help lighten the load and make even the largest celebrations go off without a hitch.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

The Assault by Bill Myers, Frank Peretti, Angela Hunt, and Alton Gansky

Back Cover:

As Darkness Threatens, Four Gifted People Will Give the World Its Best--And Maybe Only--Chance to Survive. This is Harbingers.

In Invitation, four beloved and bestselling suspense authors introduced supernaturally gifted characters on a race to stem the tide of growing evil. Now Bill Myers, Frank Peretti, Angela Hunt, and Alton Gansky return with the next cycle of fast-paced and riveting tales.

In Bill Myers's "The Revealing" the team finds themselves in Rome trying to retrieve the mystical spear Hitler once stole. The task will take them from hidden chambers inside the Vatican to a mysterious seaside cave with unexpected and dangerous powers.

Frank Peretti's "Infestation" tells of a microscopic plague unleashed on the world that deceives, blinds, kills, then spreads and kills again. The Harbingers team must confront this faceless evil bent on seducing and destroying humankind.

In "Infiltration" by Angela Hunt, a seaside respite intended to buy time for the wounded team turns deadly when misplaced trust leads the Harbingers into dangerous waters.

Alton Gansky's "The Fog" reveals a supernatural mist unlike any other, filled with vicious monsters that kill whatever they find. When one team member realizes the only way to stop the fog is to enter it, the ultimate sacrifice must be made.

Review: YIKES! I couldn't put this book down.... literally.... I couldn't unlock my terror frozen knuckles (haha). Joking aside, I'm really enjoying this Harbringers series. As mentioned in a previous review, this series runs like a TV show. There are four authors and each author writes one novella for each book. Each novella contributes to the overall theme/story that the authors are telling together. Each author writes from a different character's point of view. Sound confusing? It's not. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if this series brings in a whole new chapter of book writing where this type of style becomes very common. I love being able to pick the book up and read a complete story in thirty minutes.... but yet have that story adding to an overall story. It's very cool.

The characters in this series are all so different from each other and very engaging. The uniqueness of this cast of characters is so entertaining - from an atheist ex-priest, to a soft heart ex-football player with the gift of healing, to a little boy that can see into the spiritual realm, to a tattoo artist that tattoos prophecies, and lastly, a genius who sees patterns and numbers in everything. When these five get thrown together - watch out! Sparks fly and action happens. This series is fast paced and very exciting.

Of note.... it is scary. Like...chew my nails off and keep my feet covered in a blanket scary. I personally wouldn't give this book to anyone under about 16 years old (I am quite conservative, FYI). In my opinion, it is an older-teen/adult read.

Thank-you to Graf Martin Communications and Baker Publishing House for a copy of this book!

Monday, 30 October 2017

The Day the Angels Fell by Shawn Smucker

Review: A smashing success for Shawn Smucker with his debut novel, The Day the Angels Fell! It was beautifully written, plotted brilliantly, and I fell in love with his cast of characters. I was asked minutes after finishing this book how I liked it. My reply was that I haven't read such a fantastic fairy tale in a long time. What was brilliant about this book was that it was an amazingly clever twist off the story of the two cherubim who were left to guard the Tree of Life from the Bible. I tell you, this book is a must read. In trying to find another way to describe it, I would also add that it had some definite ways it reminded me of the Chronicles of Narnia (I don't say that lightly, those have been my all time favourite books since I was five years old). 

The story is told from the point of view of an old man - an old man we almost immediately find out is the young boy in the story, Samuel. Samuel is about twelve years old, and he and his best friend are the main drive behind this story. Samuel and Abra find themselves thrust into the craziest adventure of their lives when the veil between physical and spiritual is pulled back and a thousand year old drama begins to play out on the land of Samuel's farm. Ancient foe, heavenly hosts, devilish monsters, legend, and a supernatural weapon weave their way through Samuel and Abra's summer as they fight to deal with the scenario they find themselves at the head of. 

The Day the Angels Fell is clever enough for an adult or teen to be fully engrossed. The content could have been written quite easily for an older audience, but the way Shawn Smucker penned this book I would be comfortable giving it to a young teen, no problem. There are some mature questions asked about right and wrong, "just because you can do something, should you?", what is death?, is death a gift or a curse?, and so on... The Day the Angels fell definitely made me think in addition to thoroughly entertaining me. I really hope that this book is the start of a long series (ten or more books please!). Congratulations to Shaw Smucker and his team for an excellent job well done. I am quite spellbound and waiting for me. 

Back Cover: It was the summer of storms and strays and strangers. The summer that lightning struck the big oak tree in the front yard. The summer his mother died in a tragic accident--and young Samuel Chambers would have done anything to turn back time. Even today, he can hardly believe it all happened . . .

Prompted by three strange carnival fortune-tellers and the surfacing of his mysterious and reclusive neighbor, Sam begins his search for the Tree of Life--the only thing that could possibly bring his mother back. 

His quest to defeat death will entangle him and his best friend Abra in an ancient conflict, forcing Sam to grapple with an unwelcome question.

Could it be possible that death is a gift?


Thank-you to Baker Publishing House and Graf Martin Communications for a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.