Monday, April 14, 2014

Author Interview and Giveaway: Shadows of the Past by Patricia Bradley

Welcome to Christian Book Review Blog, Patricia! Thank you for being here! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I live in Northeast Mississippi and have been writing for 34 years. Yes. Thirty-four years. I presented abstinence and healthy relationship programs here in Mississippi for 8 years and loved working with the kids. I am also a potter and used the clay and the wheel as a visual to show how to build a good foundation for your life and what could happen if you didn’t.  I also design and make jewelry from porcelain.

When did you first discover that you loved writing?

It was 1980, and I was 35 years old. These people came to live in my head, which was a very good thing for me since I couldn’t sleep. They kept me entertained until I could finally fall off to sleep. But then they demanded that I write their story down. I did and Woman’s World published it in their mini-mystery in 1981.

Why do you write the type of books that you do?

Romantic suspense is what I like to read. I’ve always liked trying to figure out who did it.

What was your greatest obstacle in writing and how did you overcome it? 

Trying to figure out what I was doing wrong. Sometimes I think we are too close to our own work to see what’s wrong. I met Susan May Warren, and she critiqued my work and showed me not only what I was doing wrong, but what I was doing right. I attended 4 of her Deep Thinkers retreats and learned the craft of writing.

Has writing changed your life in any way?

It has helped my ADHD.  I feel God created me to write, and feel most satisfied when I’m writing.

What Bible scripture has impacted your life the most?

Isaiah 43:1 Fear not for I have redeemed you, I have called you by name. You are mine!

Is there a book you’ve read that has been truly spectacular?

I read Exodus by Leon Uris when I was in the 10th grade and that book has stayed with me all these years.

What’s the funniest/quirkiest thing you’ve ever done?

Most of the funny things I do involve getting lost. Just this week I got lost trying to find a cabin where I was meeting a few of my friends for a retreat and ended up on a sand road straight out of the movie Deliverance. 

Please tell us about the featured book.

I think the back cover says it best:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0800722604/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il?ie=UTF8&camp=211189&creative=373489&creativeASIN=0800722604&link_code=as3&tag=httpaizesshom-20
Buy At Amazon

Psychology professor and criminal profiler Taylor Martin prides herself on being able to solve any crime, except the one she wants most desperately to solve—the disappearance of her father twenty years ago. When she finally has a lead on his whereabouts, Taylor returns home to Logan Point, Mississippi, to investigate. But as she is stalking the truth about the past, someone is stalking her.

Nick Sinclair pens mystery novels for a living, but the biggest mystery to him is how he can ever get over the death of his wife—a tragedy he believes he could have prevented. With his estranged brother the only family he has left, Nick sets out to find him. But when he crosses paths with Taylor, all he seems to find is trouble.

Join the chase as this determined duo search the murky shadows of the past for the keys to unlocking the present and moving into a future filled with new hope and love.

Can you please give us the first page? 

               Death unfolds like a budding flower,
               Tentatively, sweetly.
               Unfurling in majestic power.
               Until then, my love . . . until then.

        Black roses last week, now spidery words scrawled on a scrap of paper with “Meade Funeral Home” printed across the top. Someone was stalking her, and they wanted her to know it.
        Taylor Martin sucked in a sharp breath and tried to ignore the icy shiver traversing her body.
        He was here.
        Hair raised on the back of her neck. She turned in a circle. Heavy clouds hung low, shrouding the tall firs with their mist. An air ambulance waited in the clearing to lift off for Seattle as soon as Beth Coleman’s vitals stabilized. Only a few members of the search and rescue team remained at the crime scene, packing their gear.
        Whether he was one of the men who came out to comb the woods for the kidnapper and his victims, or he’d simply followed her here to this remote area southwest of Seattle, it didn’t matter. What mattered was that he’d been close enough to touch her, to put the note in her pocket.
        To kill her.

Where can readers learn more information about you?

They can find me at:
FaceBook at www.facebook.com/patriciabradleyauthor
Twitter: @patriciabradley1
www.patriciabradleyauthor.com
http://mbtponderers.blogspot.com/

Thank you for being with us today!
 
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GIVEAWAY!
(This giveaway is only open to followers of Christian Book Review Blog, so be sure you are a follower!)
  Patricia has generously offered to giveaway a print copy of Shadows of the Past! Print giveaway is available to U.S. residents only. Giveaway ends on Saturday April 26, 2014 at midnight 
(Eastern time). Thanks for coming by to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Book Review: Love Comes Calling by Siri Mitchell

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A girl with the best of intentions.
A heart set on Hollywood.
An empty pocketbook.


That's all it takes for Ellis Eton to find herself working as a telephone operator for a look-alike friend. For Ellis, this job will provide not only acting practice but the funds to get her a start in the movies. She's tired of always being a disappointment to her traditional Boston family, and though she can't deny the way he makes her head spin, she knows she's not good enough for Griffin Phillips, either. It's simple: avoid Griff's attentions, work, and get paid. But in typical Ellis fashion, her simple plan spirals out of control when she overhears a menacing phone call...with her very own Griff as the target.

With an endearing heroine as her lead, Siri Mitchell takes readers on a madcap tale of love and discovering one's true desires!


This is the second book I've read by Siri Mitchell; I do believe that it won't be my last. I immensely enjoyed how the roaring 20's sprang to life in this book. I caught a glimpse into the life of a 1920s college girl, became immersed in the life of a 1920s "hello" girl (a working class telephone operator), and sniffed a whiff of Boston's seamier quarter.

And I experienced all of this through the eyes of Ellis Eton, who the author stated would be classified as having ADHD (I didn't know of this till after I'd finished the book). As a result, Ellis is definitely a fun, quirky character whose thought process and actions are quite hilarious. To put it simply, there is never a dull moment with Ellis Eton.

In contrast to the light, humorous personality of the heroine, Love Comes Calling deals with a variety of serious issues: Can morality be regulated? Should I fight for what's right even when wrong is not affecting me? Can I be myself? among others. Siri managed to gracefully balance these weighted themes with the overall humorous tone of the book--although there was one morose scene that was especially... morose;-)

Since this is Christian historical romance, I found the spiritual thread rather lacking. The history, however, was vibrant. I especially liked the author's notes at the end of the book concerning the 1920s and its influence on the present. The romance was dainty and sweet and the mystery was engaging, suspenseful.

A light read infused with humor and directed by a capricious heroine, Love Comes Calling is a fun read with serious underlying themes and a dash of mystery. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. It can be bought at Amazon.

** Much thanks to Bethany House Publishers for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, which I have given. **

Monday, March 17, 2014

Book Review: The Hidden Son by Dianna T. Benson

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"When U.S. DEA Special Agent Lelisa Desmond refuses to follow an order to bury evidence in a high profile case, her superior inexplicably hires a hit man to kill her. Lelisa barely survives the first attempt on her life, but someone close to her is mistakenly murdered in her place.

Lelisa sets off on a daring mission to bring down the man who ordered her execution. A man in a high position, with powerful friends. A man who will stop at nothing to protect his son.

Can she take him down, before he sends someone else to silence her forever?"


     A high-octane thriller, The Hidden Son is sure to jump-start your adrenaline. From the first page, I was thrust into the action; there were enough twists and turns to ride the tide until the end. I especially like a good mystery/suspense when I'm anchored in the world of historical fiction, so this was that extra dash of cayenne pepper needed to spice-up my reading.

     While I enjoyed the plot, there were a few things I felt were unnecessary and/or inappropriate. Slightly vulgar language was scattered throughout the book and the characters--even the one who was a Christian--participated in questionable activities such as the drinking of alcoholic beverages. The romance was not my cup of Chai tea considering the fact that Alec Dyer's wife was still alive and I'm not sure if the divorce was official yet. Besides, he wasn't divorcing her because of marital unfaithfulness so I don't think he'd be able to remarry Biblically--furthermore, Alec's best friend had been in love with her for years (while she was still married, mind you).

     I did enjoy the surprises tossed throughout the book--especially those concerning Alec Dyer's daughter's cold case. And the last curve ball at the end was definitely unexpected.

     Overall, the mystery/suspense was interesting and there were enough surprises to keep any reader satisfied. Although I must be honest and say I was disappointed with the previously mentioned aspects of the book, considering this is a Christian novel. I give The Hidden Son 3 stars out of 5. It can be bought at Amazon.com.

** Thank you to Ellechor Publishing House for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, which I have given. **

Friday, March 14, 2014

Book Review: A Noble Groom by Jody Hedlund

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"Recently widowed Annalisa Werner has the feeling her husband was murdered but can't prove it. Alone with her young daughter in 1881 Michigan, she has six months left to finish raising the money needed to pay back the land contract her husband purchased, and the land is difficult to toil by herself. She needs a husband. With unmarried men scarce, her father sends a letter to his brother in the Old Country, asking him to find Annalisa a groom.

For nobleman Carl von Reichart, the blade of the guillotine is his fate. He's been accused and convicted of a serious crime he didn't commit, and his only escape is to flee to a small German community in Michigan where he'll be safe. He secures a job on Annalisa's farm but bumbles through learning about farming and manual labor.

Annalisa senses that Carl is harboring a secret about his past, yet she finds herself drawn to him anyway. He's gentle, kind, and romantic--unlike any of the men she's ever known. He begins to restore her faith in the ability to love--but her true groom is still on his way. And time is running out on them all."


     Jody Hedlund has crafted an engaging story that transported me to a small German community in 1881 Michigan. The writing is tight, peppered with vivid descriptions. Through the eyes of Annalisa, I felt the disadvantage of being a woman in a society where men dominate and rule. I felt the hardship of being a woman alone on a farm with a toddler to care for and another child on the way, struggling to maintain a farm where one's whole livelihood is invested. 
    
     Through the eyes of Carl, I experienced the transition from a life of ease--the life of a noble-- to a life of hardship and toil--the life of a peasant, a farmer. I felt the guilt of harboring a secret and deceitfully enjoying the hospitality of one who hates your "kind."
   
     And through these pairs of eyes, I discovered love. The love of God for men--and women. And the love that should exist between a man and a woman destined to become man and wife.
   
     Adding a "mail-order groom" enhanced the suspense and romantic tension, which I could have done a little less with (the romance, I mean). The historical tidbits and information on Carl's new inventions added an interesting layer to the story as well as the discovery of the cause of Annalisa's  late husband's death.

     Finally, the cast of secondary characters added believability and rounded out the story well. If you're searching for a historically rich novel with vivid descriptions and an extra dose of romance, A Noble Groom might just be the story you're looking for. I give it 4 out of 5 stars. It can be bought at Amazon.com.

** Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, which I have given. **

Friday, February 14, 2014

Bible Review: NIV Essentials Study Bible

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I received a copy of the new “NIV Essentials Study Bible,” and decided to interrupt my usual study of the ESV bible by reading through some of the book of Exodus and evaluating its notes, references, and overall presentation style. Upon evaluation, I believe that this study bible is a good resource for the study of scripture, especially for a new believer– although I never recommend an NIV translation later than 1984 because the modern translations tend to use more seeker friendly language in order to reduce the impact and seriousness of teachings like hell and sin.

While I didn’t read every study note and comment, those which I did read had some in depth information that I considered very insightful. This bible is packed with lots of useful information that will definitely expand your knowledge of the bible text, the Middle eastern culture of biblical times, and archeological discoveries proving the accuracy of the bible.

Besides the issues that I have with modern translations of the NIV, a problem I found was that some of the commentaries tried to scientifically explain how God performed certain miracles which can only be mere speculation yet were stated as facts. We don't need to know exactly how God does a miracle. Our focus should be on the fact that God does miracles, period. The other downside to this bible is that I found it slightly heavy and inconvenient to carry.

While I may not agree with all of the comments, I didn’t find any of them out of context.  Overall it's a great resource for students of scripture that seek to gain a deeper understanding of God's word. I give it 4 out of 5 stars. It can be bought at Amazon.

** Many thanks to the publisher and BookLook Blogger for providing a free copy of this Bible in exchange for an honest review, which has been provided by a guest reviewer ** 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Book Review: The Beloved Daughter by Alana Terry

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"In a small North Korean village, a young girl struggles to survive. It is her father's faith, not the famine of North Hamyong Province, that most threatens Chung-Cha's well-being.
    
"The Beloved Daughter" follows Chung-Cha into one of the most notorious prison camps the contemporary free world has known. Her crime? Being the daughter of a Christian"

The Beloved Daughter is a thought provoking story of faith, loss, and God's redemption. This story is not for those with soft stomachs. Alana Terry delivers the gritty details of life in North Korea through the character of Chung-Cha.  My eyes were opened to the reality of life in North Korean prison camps. Hopelessness and sorrow permeate the characters' lives in The Beloved Daughter. But how wonderful it is to read of Jesus' redemption even amidst the prison camps of North Korea!

Alana managed to keep a tight balance between overcast moments and moments when a glimpse of the sun shone through. This book was not all sorrow. Seeing the Christian church flourish among the barren wilderness of godlessness was encouraging and awe-inspiring. And Alana crafted a plot that– despite its serious tone– was engaging and interesting. Because of the heart-wrenching circumstances thrust upon Chung-Cha, I immediately rooted for her spiritual and physical deliverance. And a certain revelation about her father brought both joy and sorrow to my heart.

Reading this book allows a reader to truly count their blessings and pray more earnestly for our persecuted Brothers and Sisters. Chung-Cha's story is one filled with pain, hope, betrayal, love and sorrow. I was aching for a peaceful and joyful ending, yet, even in this, Alana remains true to the story. This book will take you out of your comfort zone, reveal a glimpse into the life of North Korea, and, God willing, leave you with thankfulness in your heart that you can freely know and serve Jesus Christ. I give this book 5 stars. It can be bought at Amazon.

** Much thanks to the author and Bookfun.org for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, which I have given **

Saturday, February 1, 2014

My Top Ten Books of 2013/CBRB Awards

Top Ten Christian Fiction Books of 2013 and CBRB Awards

  #10: Rebellious Heart by Jody Hedlund 
Read My Reviewhttp://christianbookreviewblog.blogspot.com/2013/10/book-review-rebellious-heart-by-jody.html
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#9: Shattered by Dani Pettrey
Read My Review 
Buy At Amazon

#8: Anomaly by Krista Mcgee 
Read My Review
Buy At Amazon 

#7: Unrivaled by Siri Mitchell
Read My Review
Buy At Amazon 

#6: Wings Of Glass by Gina Holmes
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A glimpse into the life of a broken woman in an abusive relationship, Wings of Glass is the stirring tale of Penny Taylor. The fact that the author wrote the book as if Penny were penning a letter to her son explaining the painful events leading to his father's absence caused the book to come alive. And experiencing the events solely from Penny's point of view allowed me to feel her pain more deeply. Surprisingly, Penny emanated a certain strength that I greatly admired. For fans of Women's fiction that digs deep into the heart, I highly recommend Wings of Glass!

#5: Storm by Evan Angler
Read My Review
Buy At Amazon 

#4: The Offering by Angela Hunt
Read My Review 
Buy At Amazon 

#3: Captives by Jill Williamson
Read My Review
Buy At Amazon 
* I'm almost finished reading Outcasts, the second book in this series, and it is even better than this one. I already have my first book privileged to be included on my 2014 list;-)

#2: Unbreakable by Nancy Mehl
Read My Review
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#1: The Inner Society by Melinda Bohannon
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The Inner Society by Melinda Bohannon was such an unanticipated surprise! This book delivered much more than I had expected. I love suspense and I love mystery. This book incorporated both. 
And What. A. Ride.
I must have forgotten to buckle my seat-belt during the first page because I was in for some exciting rough times from the ditches and potholes I encountered. Melinda weaved such an intricate mystery that, when it was finally all revealed, I was in for a shock– my car must have crashed into a tree. And the suspense was so high that I don't think I even had time to recover from my crash– nor did I want to;-)

Yet, amidst the mystery and suspense there was a depth to Melinda's writing that contrasted well with the plot. I was still able to become acquainted with the main character, Maggie Kraus, as well as with some of the secondary characters. The author dealt with some important issues and didn't insulate her writing with bubble-wrap. I enjoyed the rawness of her writing that still maintained a level appropriate for teens (since this is Young Adult fiction that anyone could enjoy). And any book that includes a bad-boy character coming to Christ is always one of my favorites.

Prepared to be surprised with The Inner Society, like I most certainly was! For this reason The Inner Society by Melinda Bohannon has earned first place in my top ten books of 2013.
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CBRB Best Hero Award goes to... Ebenezer Miller from Unbreakable by Nancy Mehl




CBRB Best Heroine Award goes to... Penny Taylor from Wings of Glass by Gina  Holmes




CBRB Best Plot Award goes to... The Inner Society by Melinda Bohannon




CBRB will not be awarding a CBRB Best Child Award for 2013 due to the fact that I do not recall any of the books I've read, released in 2013, including a child character. 
(However, I was able to– finally– read A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman and little Katie was just the c-u-test! As a side-note, A passion Most Pure is FREE on Amazon right now)
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Honorable Mentions
~ The Beloved Daughter by Alana Terry