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  From the author’s website:

As the business-savvy Sinclair sister, Ida has never wanted to settle down.

Instead of love, she craves success.

But while searching for one, she just might find the other.

Ida Sinclair has joined her sisters, Kat and Nell, in the untamed mining town of Cripple Creek, Colorado for one reason: to work for the infamous but undeniably successful businesswoman, Mollie O’Bryan. Ida’s sisters may be interested in making a match for their determined older sister, but Ida only wants to build her career.

Under Mollie's tutelage, Ida learns how to play the stock market and revels in her promising accomplishments. Fighting for respect in a man's world, her ambition leaves little room for distractions. She ignores her family's reservations about Mollie O'Bryan's business practices, but no matter how she tries, she can't ignore the two men pursuing her affections—Colin Wagner, the dashing lawyer, and Tucker Raines, the traveling preacher.

Ida wants a career more than anything else, so she shrugs off the suitors and pointed "suggestions" that young ladies don’t belong in business. Will it take unexpected love—or unexpected danger—for Ida to realize where her priorities truly lie?

 

      This is the second book in The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek series. It is the first one I’ve read and it works easily as a stand-alone novel. The author woks enough of the storyline from the other sisters into the book so the reader doesn’t feel as if something is missing. Although the romance is a major part of the story, equally important is the spiritual and life lessons each of the characters learns. At first, Ida never questions her drive to be a “woman of business” in the growing frontier town in Colorado. But subtle and not-so-subtle opposition begin to cause tiny doubts. She also trusts her own ability to be a good judge of character, after two near disasters in her relationships shake up her confidence.

     Relating to the characters is easy thanks to the well-molded development of the story. Each of the main characters has the opportunity to make choices and grow. The secondary characters are likeable and add to the storyline. Overall, I would recommend this book and this author.

     I received my copy through Blogging for Books in exchange for this review. This arrangement does not require that I write a positive review.


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Mona Gansberg married Bob Hodgson in 1972, and became Mona Hodgson 38 years ago. They have two grown daughters, a son-in-law, three grandsons and a granddaughter.

In 1987, Mona Hodgson began writing articles, poems, and short stories for publication and has had several hundred printed in more than 50 different publications. Her publishing credits now include two historical novels, nearly 30 children’s books, and contributions to 11 books for adults

Mona is a speaker for women's retreats, schools, conferences for educators and librarians, and at writers' conferences throughout the United States and Canada. She holds professional memberships in the American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, Women Writing the West, Christian Authors Network, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, the Society of Southwestern Authors, and  Arizona Reading Association.

What does Mona like to do when she’s not writing? Picnic, Hula-Hoop, read to kids, visit museums, play tennis (on Wii), sink her toes into wet sand at the beach, retreat with her sisters, explore new places, gaze at sunsets and share lunch with a friend.

 
 
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  From the author’s website:
Unknown to her tiny town of Deep Haven, Isadora Presley spends her nights as Miss Foolish Heart, the star host of a syndicated talk radio show. Millions tune in to hear her advice on dating and falling in love, unaware that she’s never really done either. Issy’s ratings soar when it seems she’s falling in love on-air with a caller. A caller she doesn’t realize lives right next door.

Caleb Knight served a tour of duty in Iraq and paid a steep price. The last thing he wants is pity, so he hides his disability and moves to Deep Haven to land his dream job as the high school football coach. When his beautiful neighbor catches his eye, in a moment of desperation he seeks advice from
My Foolish Heart, the show that airs before his favorite sports broadcast.

Before he knows it, Caleb finds himself drawn to the host—and more confused than ever. Is his perfect love the woman on the radio . . . or the one next door?


        Susan May Warren does it again! The lives of four people each with their own private pain are woven together using the common threads of small-town life and a desire for resolution of inner suffering. Issy, the former high-school football coach’s daughter, suffers from PTSD. The crippling fear and panic attacks keep her locked within the confines of her own house and yard. Caleb, a physically and emotionally injured war vet, fights for the job of the new football coach while trying to impress the girl next door. Seb, the former high-school football hero, returns to town hoping to score the job of the new coach and forgiveness from the girl he wronged so many years ago. Lucy, the owner of World’s Best Donuts, fights losing her business and the emotions stirred up by the returning hero of her high school days. Each one seeks peace and love. Each one knows that only God can give the victory. With His help, they each find healing in My Foolish Heart.


         I enjoyed all the football discussions. It makes me eager for autumn! The dog adds a touch of humor, but also is significant in the development of two of the characters. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a great story, written well, with a soul-stirring theme.

My copy was provided for review by Tyndale House.


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Susan May Warren is the award-winning author of seventeen novels and novellas with Tyndale, Steeple Hill and Barbour Publishing. Her first book, Happily Ever After won the American Fiction Christian Writers Book of the Year in 2003, and was a 2003 Christy Award finalist. In Sheep’s Clothing, a thriller set in Russia, was a 2006 Christy Award finalist and won the 2006 Inspirational Reader’s Choice award. A former missionary to Russia, Susan May Warren now writes Suspense/Romance and Chick Lit full time from her home in northern Minnesota.

 
 
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From Book Sneeze website:
Tying the knot may be the toughest thing Nick Polchak has ever tried to do.
       Nick Polchak is comfortable with bugs. Their world is orderly. He knows where he stands and exactly how to interpret the signs they give him. But a fiancée and an upcoming wedding? Not so much.
       That's why—a mere four days before the nuptials—Nick finds himself driving to Philadelphia for the monthly meeting of the Vidocq society. Being among a group of forensic professionals consulting on cold cases will surely allow him to feel useful and normal.
        But while there he discovers that a close friend has been murdered . . . and in classic Nick style, begins to follow the trail of evidence rather than returning to his fiancée. Fearing that his one-track mind won't lead him home by Saturday, Alena and three of her dogs go to track him down.
      When she finally finds him, nothing is as Alena expected . . . because the twists in this case will surprise even the most dedicated Bug Man fans.

This is the first book I have read by Tim Downs. All I have to say is that I wish I had discovered him sooner! Although this is the fourth book in a series, I was able to jump right into the storyline. Reading the first few lines, I smiled. By the time I reached the bottom of the first page, I giggled. From that point on, I laughed out loud at the often sarcastic but completely realistic comments of the main character Dr. Nick Polchak. The writing is sharp. The plot is believable. Although some of the science is a little more in depth than I cared for, it is interesting.

One of my favorite TV shows is Bones. If you like the character Dr. Brennan, you will LOVE Dr. Polchak. Nick speaks his mind, which sometimes lands him in jail. He chases leads, which may make him target practice for a bad guy. He is relentless in searching for answers. But the best, the absolute BEST, is the twist in the cold case he is following.

But it isn’t just about solving the case. Tim Downs presents a character that believes he is next to flawless, but realizes through the story that he is indeed flawed. Nick’s journey from Virginia to the Poconos in Pennsylvania aids him in a journey learning about himself.

If you enjoy mysteries, suspense, and a touch of romance, you will enjoy following the adventures of “The Bug Man” who receives help in the Nick of Time.


This book was provided for review for free by Book Sneeze. It does not influence my review.


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Tim Downs is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Indiana University. After graduation in 1976 he created a daily comic strip, Downstown, which was syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate (Doonesbury, Calvin & Hobbes, The Far Side) from 1980 to 1986. His cartooning has appeared in newspapers and magazines worldwide. Tim has written eight novels in the mystery/suspense genre, beginning with Shoofly Pie (2003) and Chop Shop (2004). His third novel, PlagueMaker, was awarded the Christy award as the best CBA mystery/suspense novel of 2006. His fourth novel, Head Game, was released in January of 2007, followed by First the Dead (2008), Less than Dead (2008), Ends of the Earth (2009), and Wonders Never Cease (May 2010). His hobbies include woodworking, design, and writing about himself in the third person. Tim lives in Cary, North Carolina, with his beautiful wife Joy. They have three grown children.


 
 
_ From the author’s website:

Max On Life, Answers and Insights to Your Most Important QuestionsWe have questions.  Child-like inquiries.  And deep, heavy ones.  In more than twenty-five years of writing and ministry, Max Lucado has been the receiving line for thousands of such questions.  In Max On Life he offers thoughtful answers to more than 150 of the most pressing questions on topics ranging from hope to hurt, from home to the hereafter.  He responds to the day-to-day questions--parenting quandaries, financial challenges, difficult relationships--as well as to the profound:  Is God really listening?

 

Presented in an interesting format, each page is a question or statement that desires a response. Max Lucado answers in a short, concise, conversational method. The chapter headings are alliterated titles: Hope, Hurt, Help, Him/Her, Home, Haves/Have-Nots, Hereafter. An index in the back of the book offers a further delineation of topics. His final offering of advice is to writers, encouraging them to find God’s voice in their writing and share it with the world.

As is expected from Max Lucado, the Biblical wisdom is sound and encouraging. His voice shines through each page, giving the reader the feeling of sitting across from Mr. Lucado, holding a conversation. He uses Scripture to build a foundation for the reader to search a little deeper into God’s Word for strength and solace.

I am still reading and digesting the food for thought and soul within these pages. Using it as a quick devotional in my homeroom high school class has opened some great discussions with the students. This is the type of book that makes an excellent gift for a friend or loved one needing some encouragement. It is also a great tool to reach someone who might be closed to listening to advice from God’s Word, but open to reading someone else’s questions and finding answers.

I received this book from Thomas Nelson through Book Sneeze for free.
 
 
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From Net Galley preview:
Following her mother’s funeral, and on the verge of her own mid-life crisis, Anna Larson returns to the home of her youth to sort out her parents’ belongings, as well as her own turbulent life. This unique family home is situated on a picturesque coastal tributary and filled with an assortment of nostalgic memories. But Anna soon learns that more than just her past resides along the banks of the Siuslaw River; her future will be discovered there as well. For the first time since childhood, Anna begins to embrace her native heritage and river roots. She finds healing and hope, restores some old relationships, initiates some new ones, explores romance, and begins to grow into the woman that God intended her to be. By transforming her old family home into The Inn of Shining Waters, Anna creates a place of healing—a place where guests experience peace, grace, and new beginnings.

I received this book to preview from Net Galley as an advance copy for free. The book is set for release August 1, 2011.

What struck you the best about the book?
I’ve read several other books by Melody Carlson. This, like the others, presents the characters as normal, everyday people. Anna Larson is a woman who needs to find herself, her identity. For most of her life, she has lived under a forced identity given to her by others. Her mother-in-law is manipulative and cunning, making Anna believe she is not suited for anything more than a glorified servant. Melody shows Anna’s emotional journey from a crushed violet to a blooming, thriving flower. Anna struggles with her desire to stay in her hometown. Guilt over leaving her college-bound daughter haunts her. This internal conflict colors many of her actions and reactions to others around her. The external conflict is mostly centered around her finances or lack thereof. Both conflicts are subtle yet strong enough to give the reader a desire to see how the conflicts are resolved. Woven throughout is the flavor of Anna’s native heritage. Unique stories of the Suislaw tribe of Anna’s grandmother eventually help Anna reach a place where she can find what she’s been seeking.

What struck you the worst about the book?
It was difficult to wade through the first 50 pages of backstory. Much of it is repeated to others later in the book. It would work much better if the reader only received the parts of the backstory absolutely necessary at the beginning. The rest would easily fit into other parts of the story when Anna unfolds her past to her friends.

How did the story make you feel?
I appreciate the difficulties Anna faced concerning who she is and her place in life. I empathized with her desire to begin again, away from the place and people who smothered her. Her gradual growth into herself and understanding her worth in the eyes of the Lord gives the reader a sense of satisfaction at the end of the story. I am looking forward to reading the sequel which is already in the works.


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Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books. She is the author of novels for both teens and women including Love Finds You in Sisters, Oregon, Limelight, 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 has been optioned for production as a Life-time Television movie. Her adult novel, Homeward, won a Rita Award. She and her husband serve on the Young Life adult com-mittee in central Oregon. Visit Melody's website at www.melodycarlson.com.

 
 
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Book Review of Indivisible by Kristen Heitzmann

From the author's website:

An inseparable bond.  An insatiable force.

Battling his own personal demons, Police Chief Jonah Westfall knows the dark side of life and has committed himself to eradicating it. When a pair of raccoons are found mutilated in Redford, Colorado, Jonah investigates the gruesome act, knowing the strange event could escalate and destroy the tranquility of his small mountain town. With a rising drug threat and never-ending conflict with Tia Manning, a formidable childhood friend with whom he has more than a passing history, Jonah fights for answers—and his fragile sobriety.

But he can’t penetrate every wound or secret—especially one fueled by a love and guilt teetering on madness.

From best-selling author Kristen Heitzmann comes a spellbinding tale of severed connections and the consequences of life lived alone.

What struck you the best about the book?
It is definitely in the category of suspense! From the very beginning, action keeps the reader’s attention. One tense moment leads to the next. Character development is outstanding. Although there are many characters, each one is distinct. None of them are passive in that they all change throughout the story. Without spoiling it, I can say that Jonah, Miles, Piper, Tia, and the secondary characters each have pivotal moments throughout the story. More than one plot speeds the action along. It’s like reading several mini stories all interwoven into one.

Kristen’s phraseology is amazing. “The breeze titillated the trembly aspen and bore the scent of golden banner and Queen Anne’s lace.” She uses words to describe scenes, emotions, actions in a way that is different and unique.

What struck you the worst about the book?
I expected a Christian novel. What I found is a smattering of Christian philosophy and truths scattered throughout what could otherwise be considered a secular novel. Much emphasis is placed on women throwing themselves at Jonah. References and even flat-out statements regarding sensuality don’t seem to fit the genre. Although no actual foul language is used, more than once a character swears. Whether this is true to life or not, the purpose of a Christian book should be to encourage the reader to aspire to living a more godly life.

How did the story make you feel?
The story stirs up the emotions. Getting involved with the problems in each character’s past draws the reader into the emotional aspect of the story. What I found difficult is that there were few places a reader could recuperate emotionally to prepare for the next problem. The characters constantly faced one dilemma after another. If one character dealt with a problem, the next character had a worse problem to deal with.

Part of the ending is unexpected. Another part of it I guessed about a fourth of the way through the book. I’m not sure if the last chapter is supposed to leave the reader with a feeling of contentment since the one plot throughout the story is resolved. However I don’t know how to take the last line of the book. Maybe it was meant to leave the reader unsettled. Maybe I’m just missing the meaning.

Overall, I would recommend this book to most people, but I won’t be putting it in my classroom library for my high school students to read.


I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. It in no way influences my review of this book.

HERE'S THE GIVEAWAY PART
   When this entry receives 10 or more comments, I will have a drawing for one person to receive this book. Please leave your email using [at] and [dot] so your email can't be spammed. I will not use your email for any reason other than to contact the winner. THE DEADLINE TO COMMENT IS TUESDAY APRIL 12, 2011.


Please take a moment and click this link  to rate my review.Thank you!



 
 
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From the back cover
Miss Mariah Aubrey, banished after a scandal, hides herself away in a long-abandoned gatehouse on the far edge of a distant relative's estate. There, she supports herself and her loyal servant the only way she knows how--by writing novels in secret. Captain Matthew Bryant, returning to England successful and wealthy after the Napoleonic wars, leases an impressive estate from a cash-poor nobleman, determined to show the society beauty who once rejected him what a colossal mistake she made. When he discovers an old gatehouse on the property, he is immediately intrigued by its striking young inhabitant and sets out to uncover her identity, and her past. But the more he learns about her, the more he realizes he must distance himself. Falling in love with an outcast would ruin his well-laid plans. The old gatehouse holds secrets of its own. Can Mariah and Captain Bryant uncover them before the cunning heir to the estate buries them forever?

I’ve read two of Julie’s other books and enjoyed them. So when I saw this new release, I added it to my book club order list. It came last week, but with my schedule I wasn’t sure when I was going to get a chance to start reading. My chance came when we were hit with an unexpected snowstorm and received the day off from school. Although a to-do list a mile long screamed for attention, I decided to take some time off to read just for fun. And it was fun!

What struck you the best about the book?

Julie’s style of writing is relaxing and sophisticated. Her descriptions of setting, character, or clothing is just enough to paint a mental picture without boring the reader with incessant details.  For example: “Mariah descended in her aunt’s old riding habit of voluminous skirt, trim-fitting jacket with velvet collar, plumed hat, and short leather gloves.” The reader receives the necessary information without needing to know how many buttons are on the jacket, the kind of stitching on the hem of the skirt, or the texture of the hat.

What struck you the worst about the book?

I’m being picky about this, because I couldn’t find anything that struck me as bad. So I’ll go with something that is mildly annoying. In addition to the main plot, there are several subplots which necessitate secondary characters. Although I enjoyed the subplots, I found it confusing at times to keep all the minor characters straight. By the end of the book all the subplots are neatly woven into the main plot, so this is just a minor ripple.

How did the story make you feel?

From the very beginning, Mariah’s plight pulled on the heartstrings. Since I am a writer struggling to break into the world of novel writing, I easily relate to Mariah’s struggles with her writing. I sympathized with Captain Bryant as he struggles with plans to win back the woman he desires. Overall, the story comes to a very satisfying conclusion, leaving the reader content to know all the subplots have been satisfied.

What one biggest lesson, discovery, or new idea did you take away from the book?

Everyone needs to learn that God forgives and puts it behind Him. We are the ones who hang onto the guilt. God never intended us to cling to the past once we have made it right with Him. In the case of each of the major characters, they learned to forgive themselves and others.

This is an enjoyable read, woven together into a wonderful tapestry of life-lessons hidden in fiction.

What is your opinion? Have you read it? Does this sound like a book you will pick up to read?


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Biography

Julie Klassen loves all things Jane--Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. She is a fiction editor and novelist. Her book, The Silent Governess, won a 2010 Christy Award and was also a finalist in the Minnesota Book Awards, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Awards, and Romance Writers of America's RITA Awards. Julie is a graduate of the University of Illinois. She and her husband have two sons and live near St. Paul, Minnesota. Visit www.julieklassen.com for more information.

 
 
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When I first began writing, I believed it was all about the writing technique.  Perhaps you still think the same thing.  I’ve now come to realize that, yes, the writing must stand on its own, but it’s my job to find it the legs to stand on.  I have read and reread many books on the subject.  I suggest starting here.

The Sell Your Novel Took Kit:
Everything You Need to Know About Queries, Synopses, Marketing, and Breaking In
By Elizabeth Lyon

         If you haven’t read any books yet on these topics, THIS is the book to read.  Although I have a 1997 edition, the information regarding these topics is the same then as now.  Obviously technology has advanced as is evidenced by her comments concerning going to the library to have them print information off the Internet for you.  That part made me smile!

          From the first chapter, Elizabeth Lyon hands you the tools you need to succeed, starting with “How Novels Get Sold”

                            1.   Insider Connections
                            2.   Celebrity Status
                            3.   Contest Winners
                            4.   Short Stories
                            5.   Writers’ conferences
                            6.   Self-Publication
                            7.   Slush-Pile Success
                            8.   Query Letters

From there, she takes the aspiring author through “Dissecting the Synopses”, “Studying the Synopses”, “Dissecting the Query”, “Successful Queries”, and “Researching Publishers and Agents”.  Many other chapters deal with other aspects of writing and publishing.  Get this book!

 
 
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  The Convenient Groom by Denise Hunter is a contemporary tale of choices, mistakes, forgiveness, and love.  Kate Lawrence is a published author, a talk-show guest, and a highly sought-after marriage counselor.  Engaged to her perfect match as described by her book, she anticipates her wedding day which coincides with a boost to her career.  On that special day, her groom-to-be calls to back out.  Devastated at being jilted but more horrified at what it will do to her career, she reluctantly agrees to her handyman Lucas Wright's proposal to be the stand-in groom.
     With her career just barely glued together, Kate deals with the fact that she is in a fake marriage to someone who doesn't love her and who she doesn't love.  But if she can last just one year, she might be able to keep her career in tact. But with each passing day, the doubts of all she once believed to be true about love and marriage begin to crumble her resolve.  How can she keep going?
      Read The Convenient Groom to see how Denise weaves two lives together with threads from a torn-apart love.

 
 
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If you are looking for a good read this summer, pick up Colleen Coble’s Cry in the Night.  Although it is a continuation of her Rock Harbor series, it easily stands alone as a great Christian novel. Once again Colleen draws in the reader to become a part of the lives of her characters. Each character is real and believable.  By the time you finish the book, you feel as if you know these characters as next door neighbors.

      The storyline is well-crafted with a balance between just enough mystery to lure the reader into turning the page to see what happens next and finding answers to some questions. Bree Matthews is a search-and-rescue worker along with her dog Samson. Due to a plane crash, she was widowed. (Read more about what happened in the first book in the series Without A Trace.)  Her son Davy from her first marriage has accepted her new husband Kade, but begins to have nightmares about his biological father. When Bree finds an infant in the snow, she is drawn into what appears to be a kidnapping ring. Her longing for another child of her own is accentuated by her caring for the infant. The twists and turns of the plot come to an amazing conclusion for each of the main characters.

      I highly recommend Cry in the Night. It will make you want to read more from this fabulous author!