Monday, October 31, 2011

In My Mailbox (6)

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren. To see this weeks list of participants go here.

A good week for me - I get a chance to read an old favorite, V.C. Andrews (yes I know she's dead and there's a ghostwriter) but I'm interested in this new series and can't wait to read it.  I also received my first Manga and can't wait to delve into this new-to-me genre and give it a try.  I also plan on sharing it with my son to see what he thinks.  Lots of other great books, but I need to get busy reading. Hubby said too many books are coming in and not enough going out.  You know what that means - more giveaways coming soon!

Family Storms by V.C. Andrews
from the publisher (Pocket Star, Simon & Schuster)

Cloudburst by V.C. Andrews
from the publisher (Pocket Star, Simon & Schuster)

Laddertop Volume 1 by Orson Scott Card and Emily Janice Card
from the publisher (Tor Seven Seas)
Out of Oz by Gregory Maguire
from the publisher ( William Morrow)

Dragons of the Watch by Donita K. Paul 
From the Publisher (WaterBrook Press for the FIRST Wild Card tour + giveaway copy)

 Mercy Come Morning by Lisa Tawn Bergren 
 From the Publisher (WaterBrook Press for the FIRST Wild Card tour)
The Immortalists by Kyle Mills 
Amazon Vine

At the Mercy of the Queen: A Novel of Anne Boelyn by Anne Clinard Barnhill 
Amazon Vine

The Christmas Village by Melissa Ann Goodwin
from the author for the WOW tour (Women on Writing)
Three Weeks in December by Audrey Schulman
from the publisher (Europa Editions, Shelf Awareness)

What did you get in your mailbox this week?

Book Review: Refuge on Crescent Hill by Melanie Dobson

Refuge on Crescent Hill by Melanie Dobson
Publisher: Kregel Publications
Publish Date: September 26, 2011
Paperback, 272 pages 
Fiction, Christian, Suspense
 ISBN: 978-0-8254-2590-5

My Review:
Refuge on Crescent Hill is a wonderful novel with forgiveness being woven into a wonderful suspense plot as the main lesson.  There is a lot to take away from Refuge on Crescent Hill and there is a lot to enjoy from it while reading it.

Ms. Dobson has done a wonderful job crafting a suspenseful story with a lesson and meaning in it.  Refuge on Crescent Hill is not all about the lesson.  It's really a suspense novel first and foremost, but it has wonderful truths and lessons that can be taken home from it.  And I love that they are done in subtle ways, not in "in your face" ways that turn some people off.

First let me talk about the characters.  Camden is the main character in the story, but there is a subplot going on as well that I found fascinating that follows a college student (from Clemson - I went there!) named Stephanie who is also very interesting.  But Camden is still the main character.  Camden has come to Etherton to visit her grandmother only to find she has passed away.  Camden is at a place in life where she is just kind of floating freely and not sure where she should be.  She just wants to belong somewhere and when she comes home to Crescent Hill she finds that there are problems there as well and she has to fight her urge to run as she usually does when there are problems.  In Etherton, Camden meets Alex.  Alex has settled into Etherton and now calls it home.  He was running from his problems but has come to terms with them.  He's trying to help revitalize the town but having a hard time when the town council fights all his recommendations.  He and Camden have an attraction to each other, but that is really secondary to the mystery in the book.  I felt Camden and Alex were decently developed.  I did get to know them and their motivations, but felt I could have known them just a little bit better.  But this is a suspense novel so more of the emphasis is on the plot.

The plotting was mostly well-done.  Only the ending seemed a little rushed.  Up until that point I though the book was plotted excellently, then all of a sudden everthing starts happening and it all just seemed too rushed.  I was happy with the outcome of the book and felt like everything was tied up well so this wasn't too big a deal, but it's one of those things that bugs you a little bit, especially with a book as well done as Refuge on Crescent Hill.  Ms. Dobson did an amazing job weaving the two present-time plots together with the past plot as well.  That part of the story-telling was superb and had me enthralled.  I loved the older people in the story that could tell the stories.  They were fascinating and I love that she added them to the story.  It's a reminder to talk to the older people we know, hear their stories so we can continue to pass them down to our children.  It's important.

The underlying message of the book was beautifully done.  Forgiveness being the lesson and it is shown in amazing ways in this book.  I really though if these people could forgive, then I can surely forgive people that I need to.  And it wasn't just about forgiving other people, it also touched on forgiving yourself.  We all carry a lot of guilt around and really we need to take the time and forgive ourselves as well.  God will forgive us if we ask so shouldn't we forgive ourselves (and we talked about that in Sunday School class this past Sunday so I found that really coincidental).  This aspect of the boo was subtle but there and done so well I can't stop thinking about.  Yes this is a Christian book, but it's not a beat you over the head Christian book.  I think Ms. Dobson did a wonderful job making this a book that could be read in the mainstream while still representing Christian morals and values (and really just any good morals and values).

In summary - while there are some flaws in Refuge on Crescent Hill, I still feel it is a very worthwhile book to read.  The characters are interesting and down to earth.  The plotting is fast-paced and holds your attention well and the story has a meaning that will stick with you for quite a while.

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

Note:  Starting today, October 31, Refuge on Crescent Hill will be available for free on the Amazon Kindle - so this is a great chance to read this book for free!  (As of 10:30am it's not free yet, but give it time, it's supposed to be)

About the Book:
Moving home after a recent job loss was supposed to reassure Camden Bristow but what she finds is an empty mansion 150 years old. What happened to the house she played in as a child, the bedtime stories that told of secret passageways and runaway slaves, and all those family memories?

When antiques start disappearing and footsteps are heard, Camden wonders what really happened here . . . at Crescent Hill? Who still has access to the house? And for what purpose? As she works to uncover the past and present mysteries harbored in her home, Camden also uncovers secrets about her family that could change the town--and her life--forever.

About the Author: 
Melanie Dobson is the award-winning author of The Black Cloister; Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana; and Together for Good. A former corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family, Melanie has worked in the fields of journalism and publicity for more than eighteen years. She and her family live in Oregon.


FTC Information: I received this book from Kregel Publications for an honest review.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Weekly Preview & Giveaway (4)

Welcome to week four of my new feature where I preview what I will be reviewing this week and also where you get a chance to enter to win one of the books I am reading this week plus two books from my giveaway page.  All you have to do to enter is leave your name and email in the Rafflecopter below.  All other entries are optional.  Open to US/Canada only, ends 11/5.  This week all that is up for grab is Never Eighteen,  Too Wicked to Wed and The Baker's Wife (if it wasn't chosen last week).  Everything else is an ebook or a book tour.  If I read anything else I will add that to the pot and let you know.

Last week was a serious fail in the reading department so The Baker's Wife is making a repeat appearance.  Hoping this week will be a better week for reading.

First up last week's winner is: 

Deranged Pegasus 


The Baker's Wife by Erin Healy
Litfuse Publicity

 It's been a tough year for Audrey's family. Her husband Geoff, a pastor, lost his job after a scandal rocked their congregation.

Audrey hasn't lost faith. She's held her family together. Their attempt to resurrect a failing bakery is an effort to heal the family wounds and restore their place in the community.

Late to the bakery one dim, foggy morning, Audrey turns into the intersection in front of the shop and strikes a vehicle that she can't see even after the collision settles. Emerging from her car into the fog, she discovers she's hit a motor scooter. There's no rider in sight. There's blood, though, so much that she slips in it, injuring her wrists.

The absence of the scooter driver is a mystery, especially to Sergeant Jack Mansfield, the detective and church member who drove Geoff from his pulpit. The scooter belongs to Jack's wife, Julie, a teacher at the local high school. She has vanished like morning fog.

Though there is no evidence to support Jack's growing suspicion that Audrey and Geoff were involved in Julie's disappearance, the detective is convinced of their guilt. Jack's ability to reason slips as the leads on his wife dry up.

When Jack takes the tiny bakery and its patrons hostage, Audrey must find Julie and unravel the secret of her own mysterious suffering before Jack comes undone.


Entice Me by Lucianne Rivers (Book #3 in the Caldwell Sisters Trilogy) 
Entangled Publishing
I'm also reviewing the first two books as well.
Lucianne will also be guest posting

Heartsick over the untimely death of her mother, Allison Caldwell is blindsided again by the secret revealed in her mom’s will. Her supposedly dead father is alive, and she and her two sisters must find him in order to settle the Caldwell estate.

Robert Rivera, private investigator and former Navy SEAL, alerts Allison to new intel identifying her father as a P.O.W. in Afghanistan. With her sisters out of the country pursuing leads, Allison insists on heading to the war-ravaged country to find him. Robert doesn’t want his naïve client to take the risk. He knows what danger lays in that godforsaken land…he’s lived through it. Barely.

But Allison is determined to go, and Robert can’t let her travel alone. Reluctantly appreciative, Allison quickly realizes how much she needs his guidance and protection, and how deeply she longs for his love. Robert struggles to understand her effect on his battle-weary heart.

The path to Allison’s father is blocked by terrorists, traps and treachery—all demons of Robert’s past. Can he survive a second round with the enemy and keep Allison out of harm’s way?


Finding Somewhere by Joseph Monninger
author interview with Teen Book Scene tour

Two girls: Best friends Hattie and Delores feel that life in their small New Hampshire town is a dead end.
One horse: Old and about to be put down, Speed gets a reprieve when Hattie and Delores decide to save him.
A road trip: Determined to set Speed free, Hattie and Delores drive him west in search of rangeland. But the road takes some unexpected turns as the girls get their own taste of freedom—and as they confront the reasons they left home.


Never Eighteen by Megan Bostic
Teenage Garage Sale post by author for Teen Scene Tour

Austin Parker is on a journey to bring truth, beauty, and meaning to his life.
Austin Parker is never going to see his eighteenth birthday. At the rate he’s going, he probably won’t even see the end of the year. The doctors say his chances of surviving are slim to none even with treatment, so he’s decided it’s time to let go.
But before he goes, Austin wants to mend the broken fences in his life. So with the help of his best friend, Kaylee, Austin visits every person in his life who touched him in a special way. He journeys to places he’s loved and those he’s never seen. And what starts as a way to say goodbye turns into a personal journey that brings love, acceptance, and meaning to Austin’s life.

Devil's Hand by M.E. Patterson
Author Interview as part of Pump Up Your Book Promotion Tour

A Las Vegas poker ace with supernatural luck is swept into a world-ending conflict between fallen angels and otherworldly shades, in a thrilling debut novel for readers who enjoy Dean Koontz, Jim Butcher, and Tim Powers.

The lone survivor of a tragic plane crash, Trent Hawkins inherited a mysterious lucky streak that made him famous, and hated, in the poker circles of the City of Sin. It wasn't long before the eyes in the sky threw him on the blacklist and chased him out of town. Now, after years away, Trent returns to Las Vegas, and walks right back into trouble.

As a serial kidnapper terrorizes the city, Trent and his wife, Susan, rescue a strange, thirteen year-old girl, only to find themselves caught in a fallen angel's plot to cleanse Las Vegas with an unholy blizzard.

As the neon dims and the city freezes, Trent is forced to make terrible sacrifices in order to protect his new charge, and learns dark truths about himself and the creatures plotting against mankind. Poker-playing demons, fallen angels, and otherworldly shades all vie to enlist his strange luck, and Trent must choose his role in the coming War, or watch our world fall to ruin beneath a blanket of shadow and ice


Too Wicked to Wed by Cara Elliot
From Publisher

Outspoken and independent, Lady Alexa Bingham enjoys the heady freedom of making all her own decisions, even though the challenges of overseeing her family's country estate are daunting. But when a chance encounter with London's most notorious rake awakens a secret longing for adventure, she accepts her aunt's invitation for a Season in Town . . . only to find that breaking the rules of the ton has serious consequences.
The Earl of Killingworth uses his rakehell reputation to hide the fact that poverty has forced him to work for a living. As the owner of a gambling den and brothel, Connor has no time for glittering ballrooms or innocent young ladies. But after a reckless wager leaves him with a new business partner, he is forced to take a risky gamble . . . Will the cards fall in their favor? Alexa and Connor begin to play a dangerous game of intrigue and deception as they seek to outwit a cunning adversary who wants to put them permanently out of business. But if they are not careful, it is the flames of their own fiery attraction that may destroy them.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Book Review: Baby, It's Cold Outside by Susan May Warren

Baby, It's Cold Outside by Susan May Warren
Publisher: Summerside Press
Publish Date:October 1, 2011
Paperback, 320 pages
ISBN: 978-1609362157
Fiction, Romance, Historical, Christian, Christmas

My Review:
I love novels set in the time after World War II.  The United States is just settling back into a normal world again.  Families are healing and families are still hurting.  Some are able to move on and some aren't.  This is the way it is for Dottie, whose son died in the war.  She's stuck in a holding pattern and can't seem to move on.  But this Christmas will be different and not because she wants it to be.  No, it seems God has a different plan that involves a library worker she works with, the man next store and a man who is a complete stranger to all of them, but knows Violet better than she realizes.

Baby, It's Cold Outside is one of those wonderful heartfelt Christmas reads that is great for a cool late fall/early winter night to put you in the mood for the holiday season.  I loved getting to know each of the four main characters and the pain they carry with them and the hope each has even if it's just a tiny ray of hope.  It's a sweet story that I enjoyed watching unfold from the first page until the last page.  And I can see pulling this out from year-to-year as a Christmas read to enjoy during the season.

Ms. Warren seems to have a way with characters.  I truly felt I got to know each one of them as if I was in the house with them during the storm and I think Dottie, Violet, Jake and Gordy will stick with me for some time to come.

If you enjoy heartfelt romance and Christmas books, definitely give Baby, It's Cold Outside a Try.  Grab it, a warm blanket and curl up beside a nice warm fire one evening and you will definitely have an enjoyable evening spent in the past with four characters who will feel like old friends by the end of the book.

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

About the Book:
Hope finds the hopeless when a storm hits.

It's Christmas weekend 1949, and despite the threat of a storm, the townspeople of Frost are determined to continue their holiday traditions, if only as a means to forget the war that they had all just suffered through. But the suffering hasn't ended for Dottie Morgan who lost her only son in the war. She's preparing to wallow in her isolation for the weekend, when Violet, nearly a spinster at age 29, dares to make a request that will force Dottie to publicly revive the memory of her dead son.

When a storm traps the two women at home with a strange young man who has an unbelievable confession and a neighbor with more to do with Violet's past than she would like, no one can predict how this Christmas will give them all a second chance.

About the Author: 
Susan May Warren is an award-winning, best-selling author of over twenty-five novels, many of which have won the Inspirational Readers Choice Award, the ACFW Book of the Year award, the Rita Award, and have been Christy finalists. After serving as a missionary for eight years in Russia, Susan returned home to a small town on Minnesota’s beautiful Lake Superior shore where she, her four children, and her husband are active in their local church.

Susan's larger than life characters and layered plots have won her acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. A seasoned women’s events and retreats speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the beginning writer’s workbook: From the Inside-Out: discover, create and publish the novel in you!. She is also the founder, a story-crafting service that helps authors discover their voice.
Susan makes her home in northern Minnesota, where she is busy cheering on her two sons in football, and her daughter in local theater productions (and desperately missing her college-age son!)
A full listing of her titles, reviews and awards can be found

FTC Information: I received this book through Litfuse Publicity Group for an honest review.  I have Amazon links on my review pages but I do not make any money from these because of NC laws.  I put them solely for people to check out the books on a retail site.