Books reviewed prior on this site prior to March 2019 were provided to me, at no charge, by the publisher, or by the author, in exchange for an honest review. I have received no further compensation for these reviews. Reviews beginning March 2019 come from a variety of sources: advanced copies, library loans, and my own purchases. All reviews are my honest opinions.

November 23, 2015

Rising Darkness {Nancy Mehl}

Rising Darkness {Nancy Mehl}
Sophie Wittenbauer left her strict Mennonite hometown under a cloud of shame and regret. After a rough childhood, her teenage poor choices harmed others, leaving her with no choice but to change her life. Her entry-level writing job at a newspaper puts her in the right place at the right time to overhear office gossip about a prisoner who has information on a decades-old unsolved crime. While the other reporters write off the tip as the ravings of an angry criminal, Sophie can't ignore it because she knows the name of this prisoner from her old life. 

Upon learning from the man that one of the other suspects is hiding out in the Missouri town of Sanctuary, she takes on a false identity to investigate and meets the young pastor of a local church--the very man she'd loved as a troubled teenager. As she gets closer to finding the suspect, will the truth of her own past come out before she discovers the identity of the criminal--or the very person she's seeking puts a fatal stop to her investigation?

My Thoughts:
For some reason the Mennonite community always fascinates me, so I knew this book had potential to be a great story. Although it is not set in a full fledged Mennonite community, there was still enough of the lifestyle and traditions to make it a great read.

We get to meet Sophie, who has suddenly become Emily so she can visit the community of Sanctuary under the pretense of finding more about her birth mother. Truth is she is on the hunt for a long-lost criminal. The only thing she has on her mind is finding the criminal and making a name for herself – and it does not matter who goes down in the process.

Until Sophie arrives in Sanctuary and all things change. Although Sophie was raised in a strict Mennonite community, she soon discovers that Sanctuary is different – in a very good way. The people she meets are friendly and helpful, outgoing and full of Christ. They go out of their way to make her time in Sanctuary a positive experience, and everyone seems on board to help her find her birth mother’s information. It is not until she runs into the one love she could never let go of that her story begins to fall apart.

Sophie’s relationship with Jonathan is full of so much love – but Sophie must deal with the hurt she has in her life that she believes was cause because God ignored her. As this story twists and turns, the plot becomes very intense. The hunt for an old criminal leaves the entire town in danger, and Sophie must make a decision between her career and the new community she has fallen in love with.

In addition to the suspense of finding out who is behind the threats and the destruction, Sophie also begins to see that God really is on her side. God never left her, and God only wants what is best for her. As she discovers his true love and support, we get to see Sophie become such a different person. I love the character she becomes, and really hope we get to see more of her in future books.

Nancy Mehl lives in Wichita, Kansas with her husband, Norman, and her very active puggle, Watson. First published in 2001, she has now authored nine books, including an omnibus mystery collection, Cozy in Kansas, which contains three of her previously published Ivy Towers mysteries. Book three in the series, For Whom the Wedding Bell Tolls, won the American Christian Fiction Writers Mystery Book of the Year award. Nancys main writing interests lie in mystery although her new Harmony Series leans more toward the romantic suspense genre. Nancy runs a HUD program for the city of Wichita and is president of a volunteer organization, Wichita Homebound Outreach. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Kansas Authors Club. You can find out more about Nancy by visiting her Web site at:

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November 19, 2015

Deadlock {DiAnn Mills}

Deadlock {DiAnn Mills}
Two murders have rocked the city of Houston. Are they the work of a serial killer, or is a copycat trying to get away with murder?

That is the question facing Special Agent Bethany Sanchez, who is eager for her new assignment in violent crimes but anxious about meeting her new partner. Special Agent Thatcher Graves once arrested her brother, and he has a reputation for being a maverick. Plus, their investigative styles couldn’t be more opposite: he operates on instinct, while she goes by the book.

When hot leads soon fizzle out, their differences threaten to leave them deadlocked. But an attempt on their lives turns up the heat and brings them closer together, and a third victim might yield the clue that will help them zero in on a killer. This could be the case of their careers . . . if they can survive long enough to solve it.

My Thoughts:
This book started pretty slow for me. I had a hard time keeping up with the characters and trying to keep straight exactly what was going on. But once it got going, it was impossible to put it down. This is one intense story.

Bethany is the newest member of the FBI violent crimes division. She is partnered with Thatcher Graves. Thatcher is unaware exactly who Bethany is, but Bethany is well aware in their history and how it could strain their partnership. Bethany has a horrible background with her family, and basically has no one in her life. She relies on her faith in God, but at times questions if God is really someone who would let all the violence that she sees continue to happen. She is down-to-earth, and intends to work her cases by the book – no emotions involved. Although she has moments of question about God and His intentions, she found herself relying on her faith as tragedy came to her life.

Thatcher has a reputation of the typical bachelor in the FBI, but he has a secret he has yet to share with anyone – he has recently accepted God into his heart and he’s learning the ropes of the Christian life. As soon as he figures out who Bethany has ties to he is concerned about their ability to work together. He gets so frustrated with Bethany’s investigation tactics, but he soon realizes that his heart has a mind of its own and he is in trouble. Thatcher comes from a home where religion is considered a bad thing and anyone willing to believe in God must be crazy. But my favorite part of this story is when he tells his mom that he has accepted God and that his life is on track.

Thatcher and Bethany quickly form a relationship that walks a very fine line between FBI partners and something more than friendly. Watching the two of them get to know each other and learn to rely on each other made for a great side story to this very intense story line. As they work to track down a serial killer, their instincts quickly take over and we see them protecting each other to the very end.

I enjoyed this book so much. Although it is the third in a series, it is easily a stand-alone (I haven’t read the first two), and worth a place on your reading list.

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. 

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Library Journal presented her with a Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction award in the Christian Fiction category for Firewall.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers; the 2015 president of the Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope, & Love chapter; a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and International Thriller Writers. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas. 

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed at 

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November 16, 2015

An Endless Christmas {Cynthia Ruchti}

An Endless Christmas Cynthia Ruchti book review
Christmas takes a very different turn when the guests of honor break up instead of announcing their engagement. Trapped with his family, they learn that love looks different than either imagined. Both in their eighties, Dodie and Wilson Binder celebrate every Christmas as if it were their last. This year, their grandson Micah is planning to ask his girlfriend, Katie, to marry him so they can celebrate with the whole family. But things go very wrong when she says "no." Now they are stuck. Too many people, too much snow, and too little room should be a recipe for disaster. But sometimes too much is just enough. Especially when it's Christmas.

My Thoughts:
This is such an inspiring story with a lesson that every person can learn from. It was one of those books that once you get into it, you can’t put it down.

The Binder family is truly one-of-a-kind. They love each other like there is no one else on earth. They support each other to the end. They treat each other as if it is their last day on earth. They have so much Jesus in them there entire way of life is transformed. They are loving and accepting, forgiving and welcoming. They are almost too good to be true, but the Binder family has learned from their past and show how a family should really be.

To an outsider like Katie, the Binder family is just plain odd. But the more time she spends with them, the more she realizes that this family has something she would dearly love to have. Except she already said “no” to it. She fully expects this family to treat her harshly after saying no to Micah’s proposal, but the love and acceptance she receives leaves her confused – and eventually completely loved.

As Katie and Micah spend their Christmas stuck in a tiny house with the entire Binder family for Christmas their lives are changed in several ways. They get to witness the true meaning of “no regrets” through a near-tragedy in the family. They see what unconditional love looks like, and experience the support of an entire family. They realize that their future is something to look forward to, and Katie knows she wants to be a part of something this special.

This story touched me on so many levels, and made me really think about the way I live my life and how I treat the other people that are in my life. This is a must-read for your Christmas reading list.

Taking multi-tasking to new heights (or depths, depending on your perspective), Cynthia Ruchti is the award-winning author of recent releases "All My Belongings" (novel), "When the Morning Glory Blooms" (novel), and "Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People's Choices" (nonfiction). She makes potato corn chowder for her husband of 42 years, loves on her three kids and five grandchildren, recently retired from 33 years of writing and producing a daily radio broadcast called THE HEARTBEAT OF THE HOME, is past president of the 2,700-member American Christian Fiction Writers and now serves as ACFW's Professional Relations Liaison, all while working on more book projects in addition to the eight already on the shelves. The year 2010 saw the release of her debut novel--"They Almost Always Come Home" by Abingdon Press (a Carol Award finalist)--and a Christmas collection novella, "The Heart's Harbor" in A Door County Christmas, a Family Fiction Reader's Choice, by Barbour Publishing. "His Grace is Sufficient...Decaf is Not," released Nov 1, 2011. Another novella collection--"Cedar Creek Seasons" (Barbour) released in spring of 2012. "When the Morning Glory Blooms" (April 2013) was followed by "All My Belongings" (2014, also from Abingdon Press). Her books have recently been honored with two Selah Awards, two Christian Retailing's BEST Awards, and awards from CAN Golden Scrolls and AWSA Golden Scrolls. She tells stories of Hope-that-glows-in-the-dark through writing and speaking, but she gave up knitting, counted cross-stitch, sewing her own clothes, naps, and dusting baseboards a long time ago. You can find her at, at, or in the kitchen, brewing herself another cup of tea.

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November 12, 2015

The Five Times I Met Myself {James L. Rubart}

the five times i met myself james rubart review
What if you met your twenty-three year old self in a dream? What would you say?

Brock Matthews’ once promising life is unraveling. His coffee company. His marriage.

So when he discovers his vivid dreams—where he encounters his younger self—might let him change his past mistakes, he jumps at the chance. The results are astonishing, but also disturbing.

Because getting what Brock wants most in the world will force him to give up the one thing he doesn’t know how to let go of . . . and his greatest fear is it’s already too late.

My Thoughts:
How many times in your life do you look back and think you could change just one thing? Have you considered that changing that one thing could completely change the course of your entire life? That’s the basis of this book, and the message is powerful.

Brock only wants to change one little thing about his life, and he discovers that he can change things by visiting his younger self using lucid dreams. What he doesn’t realize is that changing one thing eventually changes everything. As soon as he starts making the changes in his past, he constantly changes the present – and he quickly realizes he doesn’t like the results.

Brock’s story teaches so many powerful lessons that we all need in our lives. We see the realization of trying to change the past. We see the sorrow of not being content with the life you have. We see the results of not appreciating those around you. And we learn the lesson of putting our success above our faith and our family.

This book seemed to be all over the place at times, but the story as a whole is very powerful and full of lessons we all need to learn.

James L. Rubart is a 28 year old trapped in an older man's body, who loves to water ski and dirt bike with his two grown sons. He's the bestselling, award winning author of seven novels, including his latest, The Five Times I Met Myself. He lives with his amazing wife on a small lake in eastern Washington.

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November 11, 2015

Wee Read Wednesday: Goodnight, Manger

Wee Read Wednesday: Goodnight, Manger
Goodnight, Manger, written by Laura Sassi and illustrated by New York Times bestselling artist Jane Chapman, tells the story of Mary and Joseph as they try to lull Jesus to sleep in the noisy stable after his birth. It's bedtime for Baby Jesus, but who knew a manger could be so loud? Mama, Papa, and all of the animals try to lull the baby to sleep, but between itchy hay, angels' joyful hosannas, and three kings bearing noisy gifts, it's just too loud. Finally, Mama finds a way for everyone to work together to shepherd baby Jesus into peaceful dreams under the twinkling stars.

With sweet, rhyming text in the style of Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site and Goodnight, Ark, Goodnight, Manger offers a unique twist on the classic manger tale, deftly weaving together the comforting and familiar routines of bedtime with the special magic and wonder of the nativity story.

My Thoughts:
Have you ever tried to get your baby to sleep in a crowded environment when all the sounds and movements keep them awake? Can you imagine trying to do that in a stable with all the animals and the visitors that must have come to visit baby Jesus?

This book puts a fun spin on bedtime for Mary and Joseph trying to get their precious baby to sleep. Animals are bumping into things, angels are singing, and the Wiseman are knocking on the door. Of course, baby Jesus finally falls to sleep and everyone is there to see it.

This is a fun book to read with small children. It helps introduce the story of Jesus in the manger, and provides a good bedtime book to help them fall asleep each night. The ‘Goodnight’ series is one that we really enjoy at our house, and this book is a great addition to our collection.

About the Author
Laura Sassi has a passion for telling humorous stories in rhyme. She writes daily from her century-old home in New Jersey where she lives with her husband, two children, and a black Cockapoo named Sophie.

About the Illustrator
Jane Chapman is a multi award-winning artist who has illustrated over one hundred books including five New York Times bestsellers. She lives in Southern England with her husband, Tim Warnes, two children and five chickens. Visit Jane Chapman at

November 9, 2015

Another Way Home {Deborah Raney}

another way home deborah raney
Grant and Audrey are adding grandchildren to their family left and right, but middle daughter, Danae, and her husband, Dallas Brooks, have been trying for years with no baby in sight.
Though Danae is ready to consider adoption, Dallas will not even discuss it. Despairing of ever having a family of her own, Danae decides to pour her passion and energies into volunteer work with a newly opened women’s shelter in town. Looking for a good cause to fill her lonely days, she never expects to give her heart to the hurting women she meets there. She’s finally learning to live her life with gratitude, but then heart-wrenching events on Thanksgiving weekend threaten to pull the entire Whitman clan into turmoil—and leave them all forever changed.

My Thoughts:
I have been looking forward to this book for a few months, and it was so good. Danae's story was one I was hoping we would get soon and I was thrilled that we got to get into her and Dallas' lives.

Danae and Dallas have been struggling with infertility for years. I struggled with infertility myself for a few years before becoming pregnant with my daughter, so I felt like I can relate with Danae on several levels. The obsession has with getting pregnant, the disappointment in her husband's actions, and the sadness over her sisters' kids all hit very close to home.

Danae finally makes the decision to put the baby-making on the back burner for a while and decides to consume herself with volunteering at the domestic violence shelter. This story gets SO good and the suspense totally wrapped me up in the lives of these characters.

Dallas is such a supportive and protective husband, and I adore the way he dotes on Danae and watches his words to not hurt her feelings. I felt like he is completely torn on the inside, but doing all he can to hold it together for his outside appearance. He worries so much about his wife and their future together.

When Thanksgiving weekend rolls around, this story takes a turn and becomes an amazing suspense love story. I'm not going to give away any spoilers, but I found myself crying with both pain and joy as these characters work through a rough couple of touchy months.

Although this is book three in a five-book series, it can be read as a stand alone. But I do encourage you to pick up the other books as well as get the full story of this fun Whitman family.

DEBORAH RANEY's first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title. Her books have since won the RITA Award, ACFW Carol Award, HOLT Medallion, National Readers' Choice Award, Silver Angel, and have twice been Christy Award finalists. THE FACE OF THE EARTH released in May 2013 from Howard/Simon & Schuster, and SILVER BELLS released from Guideposts in October. Deb and her husband, Ken Raney, enjoy small-town life in Kansas. They are new empty nesters with four children and a growing quiver of grandchildren, all of whom live much too far away.

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November 5, 2015

The Christmas Joy Ride {Melody Carlson}

christmas joy ride melody carlson revell
Miranda did not put adventure on her Christmas list, but thanks to her eighty-five-year-old neighbor Joy, that's exactly what she's getting this year. When Joy tells Miranda that she plans to drive an old RV decked out in Christmas decorations from their Chicago neighborhood to her new retirement digs in Phoenix--in the dead of winter, no less--the much younger Miranda insists that Joy cannot make such a trip by herself. Besides, a crazy trip with Joy would be more interesting than another Christmas home alone. Unemployed and facing foreclosure, Miranda feels she has nothing to lose by packing a bag and heading off to Route 66. But Joy has a hidden agenda for their Christmas joyride--and a hidden problem that could derail the whole venture.

My Thoughts:
This whole book just made me smile. I fell in love with Joy the moment we were introduced to her. She is an older lady who is moving to Phoenix to live near her children. What she fails to tell her neighbor, Miranda, is that she has some health issues that are prompting the move. Instead she “guilts” Miranda into joining her on an RV adventure across the country.

Personally, I think a few weeks in a motorhome on the open road sounds amazing, so this story really spoke to me and made me a little jealous of the characters and their freedom to simply move across the country on their own timeline.

Miranda has been through some tough years in her life, but I love how she cares for Joy and treats her like family. It is obvious that the bond between the two ladies is very close and so heart-warming.

As the Christmas Joy Ride gets underway, it becomes very obvious that Joy has a very specific plan in mind. Miranda is simply along for the ride. But we also quickly learn that Joy is very aware of things that could take place along the trip and has made provisions for such events. Her detailed planning and motives are some of the sweetest I’ve seen in so long.

I love these characters. I love this setting. I love this story. And I especially love the perfectly happy ending that we get at the close of this book. This is a must-read for your Christmas season.

Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books, several of them Christmas novellas from Revell, including her much-loved and bestselling book, The Christmas Bus. 

She also writes many teen books, including the Diary of a Teenage Girl series, the TrueColors series, and the Carter House Girls series. 

Melody was nominated for a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her books, including the Notes from a Spinning Planet series and Finding Alice, which is in production as a Lifetime Television movie. She and her husband serve on the Young Life adult committee in central Oregon.

November 4, 2015

Wee Read Wednesday: A Very Merry Christmas Prayer

Wee Read Wednesday: A Very Merry Christmas Prayer
This month I have a sweet Christmas book for your little one! In A Very Merry Christmas Prayer we get to follow the critters of the woods as they roam around their lives thanking God for every aspect of the Christmas season. From lights to beds, to songs and snow, the woodland animals are thankful for the life they have around them. They are also thankful to God for sending Jesus to be born - the whole reason we have Christmas in the first place.
The book is a sturdy board book with fun illustrations that will catch the attention of your kids. It also has a fun Christmas tree cutout shape to the book, making it fun for the kids to hold.
Both my kids have enjoyed this book and Ting loves that she can read it to her little brother. It's a winner at our house.
So scroll on down and get entered to win your own copy from my friends at Tommy Nelson. Good luck!
About the book:
Enjoy the wonder of Christmas with a thankful heart.
These little woodland animals are full of joy over so many blessings, from twinkling lights and sparkling snowflakes to family fun and the gift of God’s love. Join the celebration with gratitude and make this your own very merry Christmas prayer!
About the author:
Bonnie Rickner Jensen has been encouraging hearts around the world for over twenty years. Along with her career in greeting cards she's written bestselling and award-winning books for children. Her favorite inspirations are her grandchildren, running, and sunshine. She lives and works from her home in Cleveland, Ohio.

The giveaway:

November 2, 2015

Rescue Me {Lara Van Hulzen}

rescue me lara van hulzen review
Keith is a soldier with a wounded heart. Torie’s secrets haunt her. Can they trust love enough to mend what’s broken?

Torie Walker is a police officer with a past she’d like to stay hidden from. Staying at her best friend’s cabin in the mountains over Christmas is just what she needs. However, when a handsome cowboy saunters into her life, she takes the risk and trusts him and her secrets.

Keith Scott is a United States Marine, Force Recon. Home for a holidays, he intends to spend a quiet Christmas with his family. What he doesn’t plan on is Torie Walker, a woman who mends his heart and makes him want to love again.

My Thoughts:
I read the second book in his Men of Honor series a few months ago, and I have been eagerly awaiting Rescue Me ever since. I just knew that Torie and Keith were going to have an amazing story and I couldn’t wait to see how it was going to play out. I was definitely not disappointed.

This book picks right back up at the Scott family Ranch, just before Christmas. Aimee and Dane have headed off on their honeymoon and Torie is spending her holiday in their cabin on the ranch. We later figure out that Torie is actually hiding out – a fact that becomes such a huge part of her relationship with Keith. Although Torie comes across as the tough cop, she has a history that haunts her and has left her completely broken on the inside. She struggles so much with what she should or should not share with those around her.

We also get to see much more of handsome cowboy Keith. Keith has fallen head over heels in love with Torie, but he also has a past that he is scared to share, and a commitment to his country that he is sure no woman would ever want to be a part of. Inside his huge and tough exterior also lies a crushed soul and a scared boy.

As Torie and Keith spend more time together and really begin to open up to each other, we get to witness such a sweet love develop. We also get to see the faith Keith has in God, and how that faith has gotten him through life so far. He is quick to share his faith with Torie and tell just how amazing God is at forgiveness and building a new life. Seeing Torie explore the Bible and really think about the things God can do in her life is also a focal point of this story that really plays a part in the future of their relationship.

I very much enjoyed this book and getting to know these characters better. The atmosphere on the Scott family ranch makes me want to pack my bags and head to Tahoe in search of a cozy cabin in the woods!

Although this is the third book in a series, it can also be read as a stand-alone without missing out on any parts of the current story. Put it on your reading list for sure.

Lara Van Hulzen received her BA in Journalism from Point Loma Nazarene University in 1994. Her first published article was when she was a senior in high school. She has worked as a book reviewer for the past 18 years with various organizations such as Crossings Doubleday, YouthWorker Journal, and Radian Lit. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America, Inspired Christian Writers, and American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives with her husband three children in Northern California.

Murder at the Courthouse {A.H. Gabhart}

murder at the courthouse
After a few years as a police officer in Chicago, Michael Keane has no trouble relaxing into the far less stressful job of deputy sheriff in his small hometown. After all, nothing ever happens in Hidden Springs, Kentucky. Nothing, that is, until a dead body is discovered on the courthouse steps. Everyone in town is a little uneasy. Still, no one is terribly worried--after all the man was a stranger--until one of their own is murdered right on Main Street.

As Michael works to solve the case it seems that every nosy resident in town has a theory. When the sheriff insists Michael check out one of these harebrained theories, his surprising discovery sends him on a bewildering search for a mysterious killer that has him questioning everything he has ever believed about life in Hidden Springs.

Bringing with her a knack for creating settings you want to visit and an uncanny ability to bring characters to life, A. H. Gabhart pens a whodunit that will keep readers guessing.

My Thoughts:
I have to be honest – this book wasn’t for me. The story started out interestingly enough with a mysterious man being found shot dead on the courthouse steps. But from there it just fell flat. There was some excitement just a little past the halfway point and I thought things would get better, but it wasn’t enough of a twist to bring my interest back to the story or the characters.

I felt the book was full of filler information that wasn’t relevant to the story, and there was so much dialogue that it made keeping up with the storyline difficult.

Just not for me.

A. H. Gabhart is Ann H. Gabhart, bestselling author of many novels, including Angel Sister, Small Town Girl, and Love Comes Home, several popular Shaker novels such as The Outsider, The Believer, and The Innocent, and The Heart of Hollyhill series. Ann grew up in a small rural town in Kentucky much like Hidden Springs, but Ann is happy to report nobody was ever murdered on her hometown's courthouse steps. Ann and her husband still live on a farm near that same little town in Kentucky. Learn more at