Death in the Shadows By Paul McCusker

Father Gilbert finds himself involved in another murder mystery. Given his background as a policeman before becoming a priest, it seems quite natural. The priest travels to a religious meeting in another town. While eating his breakfast the next morning he opens the newspaper and reads of a local prostitute found dead. Before his meal is over he sees the spirit of the female victim floating in front of him. This spurs him on to solve the crime, leading him into many evil and dangerous places.
I applaud the author for addressing the social problem of sex trafficking. He does a wonderful job of tackling the problem without being graphic or coarse. It is a horrible reality of our times that most know little about. Mr. McCusker is a skilled mystery writer and can definitely keep your attention.
I was disappointed in the book because of the strong demonic, supernatural, thread that ran throughout. I found the book to be very disturbing. I definitely do not think it can qualify as Christian reading material.
I received a copy of this book from Kregel publications in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

The Cover Story By Deb Richardson-Moore

I so enjoyed Ms. Richardson-Moore’s first book, The Cantaloupe Thief, that I was excited to see another in this series! Branigan Powers is a journalist for a small town newspaper. Her intelligence, eye for detail, and being able to think outside the box once again finds her being more than just a reporter and working with the police on a murder investigation.
It is the Christmas holiday and a niece and a friend are returning home from college. Suddenly a mysterious vintage hearse appears, forcing them off the road and taking the life of the other girl and injuring her niece. Clues begin to appear, leading her to the possible involvement of the local sororities. While this is a beginning Branigan quickly finds the evidence brings more questions than answers! At several points I felt if I could speak to her I would be able to direct her to the murderer, and then the story would veer off in an unexpected direction ending my theory! I love all the surprises!
I liked the homeless man Malachi Martin being included in this book also. He can hear things and go places Ms. Powers cannot, always aiding her search for answers. Yes he has issues but he had a good heart and character. As with her previous book the homeless are a part of the story. It really opens your heart and eyes to their plight and all they deal with we know nothing about.
I appreciate the book deals with crime but without the graphic detail. One disappointment did arise for me with this book. Throughout different parts of the book there were curse words. Even the pastor cursed! Since I assumed this was a Christian mystery, I was a bit shocked. The author is a talented, entertaining writer that does not need to rely on this type of language to enhance or story. Without this the book would have been perfect!
I received a copy of this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

Murder on the Moor by Julianna Deering

I enjoy nothing more than a good clean mystery. Ms. Deering certainly delivered! I can’t wait to read more of her books this was my first! The married amateur detective duo of Drew and Madeline brought to mind the old classic movies of Nick and Nora, whose films were made in the 1930’s, the same era as the book’s setting.
The couple is called to an old school chums estate in the English Moors to help him solve 2 murders that there could possibly be no motive; the vicar and a poor elderly woman. Also because his bride of less than a year has been hearing things and feels she is being followed
His friend Beaky Bloodworth would be what you would call a geek or a nerd during their school days, the victim of constant bullying. Not only has Beaky done quite well for himself but is married to an absolutely beautiful woman, so much so her reasons for marrying look suspicious. Not to mention her attitude toward her husband, Definitely not that of a gushing newlywed.
The author’s descriptiveness of the characters, their personality and physical characteristics were so fantastic, I felt I had a snap shot of them in hand. Beaky’s name gave me a chuckle as it fit his thin, hawkish appearance. She beautifully captured the interactions between the individuals on all levels. I loved Drew and Madeline’s sweet and loving relationship. Not gushy but as a good, caring marriage would be. It didn’t stop there she painted a word picture of the homes, stores, pub, and especially the moors. I found the latter quite depressing, and gloomy. A perfect location for solving a crime!
The book kept me on edge. Lots of surprises. Every time I thought I had the murderer cornered in my mind another person would appear equally as guilty! It wasn’t until the very end the criminal is revealed and I wasn’t right on any counts! What a surprise! Just the way I like a whodunit! A book you will want to read!
I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I state are my own.

Naomi’s Hope by Jan Drexler

Naomi Schrock and her family decided to move west to Pleasant Plain. It is the 1840’s so wagons are the mode of transportation; difficult and with danger always lurking around the bend. On their journey they came across a horrendous scene. A family’s home had been utterly destroyed and the only survivor was a small boy, Davey. The family took him in and their daughter Naomi adopted him as her own. In this book they have arrived at their destination and have been there 3 years. At seven years of age Davey is a lively, high spirited boy that gives Naomi a run for her money!
The new Amish settlement is prospering and many other families are coming to make it their home also. One of those people was a widower Cap Stolzfus. Still grieving over the loss of his wife and baby he is resolved to make a fresh start. His farm is beside Naomi’s parents. Davey meets Cap in one of times of exploration and they become fast friends. The young boy longing for a Dad and family decides to make believe Cap his father. As little ones will, he brings Naomi, her family, and Cap together as they become dear friends. Romance begins to blossom but both have doubts and concerns, not to mention their disagreement in how Davey should be raised.
An old acquaintance of Cap’s arrives at the settlement wanting to become a second minister. He presents himself as a man of the cloth, but is a sheep in wolves clothing. Cap knows Shem Fischer will be trouble and that is exactly what he brings to the peaceful community, especially Naomi.
The book is very exciting and fast paced. Not your usual Amish novel with mild conflicts and struggles. I liked that it shows a different side of the Amish life especially during that era. Davey’s antics and escapades were spot for a rambunctious boy that age. My heart went out to Naomi for trying to deal with his nonstop mischief. I liked it that the author fleshed out many characters with their own outlooks and experiences, but it was not hard to keep them straight. It added to the realism and entertainment of the story. I appreciated the fact that the characters lived out their faith and biblical principles no matter what hardships or problems they faced. A read alone book from the 1st two in the trilogy, but you definitely want to read the others!
I received this book from Revell Publications in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I stated are my own.

Freedom’s Price By Christine Johnson

Imagine you are 23 years old, your mother has died and now your father. In the 1850’s there are not many options for you to support yourself, other than a life of drudgery or a marriage of convenience. This is what Catherine Haynes was facing. Neither had she wanted. With great courage and faith in God, she leaves her home in England and faces a difficult journey to America. There in Louisiana she plans to find her mother’s family and the plantation where she once lived. Even though they do not even know of her existence she hopes to claim her inheritance in the Black Oak Plantation. As if overwhelming grief and loss of all she held dear were not enough she finds herself shipwrecked. In this tragic situation, sailor Tom Worthington enters her life. Although their relationship mixes as well as oil and water, he becomes an important part of her life.
Upon her arrival she finds the plantation her mother shared such love of in a horrible state of deterioration and neglect. To make matters worse, it has fallen under the management of an evil, dishonest man and the family she hoped for is gone. She is appalled at the cruel and inhuman treatment of the slaves. This was Pre-Civil War era so her ideas of equality for all men were very foreign at that time. Catherine soon finds herself thrown in to danger and mystery.
This was a hard book to put down, a real page turner!!! There were times I realized I was tensed up wondering what would happen next! I loved the way the author showed the characters trust and reliance on God no matter how seemly impossible their circumstances were. The historical information was well researched and gave a clear picture of Louisiana in this era. I found this extremely interesting. An extremely captivating historical romance. Thank you Ms. Johnson for another very entertaining book!
I received this book from Revell Publishers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated are my own.


The Runaway By Claire Wong

Most teens find themselves thinking at one time or another about running away when they cannot handle relationships, emotions and anger in their lives. Rhiannon does more than think about it she does it. After a heated argument with her aunt/guardian, she leaves, carrying herself as fast as her legs will take her into the forest. As with most impulsive actions she gave little thought to her needs and was totally unprepared to survive. Deep in nature, she struggles to care for herself. The hardship and loneliness cause her to fantasize and create her own stories to escape the harshness of her environment. Her inspiration is the folklore told to her throughout her childhood by a kind woman named Maebh. The story is a great testimony of how our actions large or small affect others not just ourselves. Much like the ripple effect of a stone after it is thrown into a pond.
Her leaving stirs up many things in the little Welsh village. Far more than just concern for her return, but the stress unearths long buried secrets, bitterness, and past failures. The villagers are forced to face the “skeletons in the closet” from the past and deal with them. To their credit they want to heal and move on, not attempt to hide them again. I saw another lesson here. You can try to cover up past mistakes, denying they ever happened, but they are still there. Someday you will be forced to confront them and make a final decision to take responsibility to make things right.
The story allows the reader to view Rhiannon’s experiences and thoughts and those of the town’s residents. The traditional stories and myths were interesting and entertaining. I must admit some parts of the book were hard to get into or moved rather slowly. It was a different kind of read for me.
I received this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Before We Were Yours By Lisa Wingate

From the first time I read a book by Ms. Wingate, she captivated me with her stories and writing. I was very excited to read this book and it far surpassed my expectations.
I am intrigued my fictional novels that are based on true stories. The facts are true but how they are made play out in the characters’ stories lies in the hands of the author. Through Lisa Wingate’s talent and writing skill, these individuals were literally brought to life, so much so I had to keep reminding myself they were fictional!
Until this novel I had never heard of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society spearheaded by Georgia Tann. From the 1920’s through 1950’s, hundreds of children were kidnapped by abduction or trickery from loving and caring parents. Until they were adopted by wealthy or famous people, for a hefty fee, they suffered unimaginable physical abuse, sexual assault, neglect, and with some even death.
In 1939 a young girl, Rill, and her siblings lived happily in poverty on a house boat with their parents. While her father and mother were at the hospital welcoming another child they were snatched away and taken to one of Ms. Tann’s “homes”. That was when the nightmare began. As if the heartbreak of being separated from their parents was not enough, Rill also felt the pain of trying to protect her younger siblings and keep them together in an environment of cruelty and violence.
My heart broke at the horrors these children encountered. I never imagined!
The chapters alternate from Rill’s narrative to Avery Stafford in the present day. Avery is 30, wealthy, privileged and the member of a prestigious political family, totally opposite to Rill’s experience. When Avery attends a nursing home tour a resident appears to recognize her. She returns to visit her. In a sepia photo in May Crandall’s room she sees a family. One of the children strongly resembles her grandmother. She cannot get it out of her mind and begins to relentlessly seek out answers about her Grandma Judy’s past. Could May be a part of that past? Due to dementia claiming her grandmother’s once sharp mind she cannot ask her questions. It’s all up to Avery. What secrets will she unearth? How will they change her and her family’s lives? I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough! An incredible book with an amazing story!
Thank you, Lisa Wingate, for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book. The opinions I have stated are my own.

HELLO STARS By Alena Pitts

By Alena Pitts
We have to face it. Today’s preteens are enamored with stars, music, and dreaming of being in the spotlight. The problem is most of their examples are not wholesome or Christian, This book gives young girls the chance to be a part of the fantasy of stardom but in a pure and godly way.
Lena Daniels never dreamed she would star in a movie, and certainly not with her favorite Christian singer, Mallory Winston. That is exactly what happens when she wins a video audition which she assumed the prize was to meet her idol. She quickly finds out there is much more to being a star that she ever imagined. She discovers it is not all glamour and fun but hard work and responsibility.
This book has so many wonderful features that young girls, parents and grandparents will really appreciate. The Daniel’s are a strong Christian family. They are supportive of one another and live in harmony, showing the importance of family relationships. Prayer is a regular part of their life in all areas. Scriptural concepts are applied to the situations they face as natural as breathing! Girls are able to see how important God is in whatever is happening with big or the small matters.
What is so impressive is that the author is only 13 years old! No wonder she could so accurately capture the emotions of girls as they find themselves dealing with day to day life! Minor incidents adults would think nothing of are devastating to sensitive young ladies. In reading the book I was taken back to that period in my life and how differently experiences were viewed and felt. It’s that magical window of time right before becoming a teen that is accompanied by uncertainty, confusion and innocence.
At the end of each chapter the readers get a peek at what Lena writes in her journal to herself and God. She expresses her joys, doubts, fears, at the same time seeking God. In addition to all these positive features, the book is entertaining, fun and humorous. Even though I am 50+ years past the reading audience’s age, I enjoyed it! Definitely a book you would want your preteens to read! Ms. Pitts has a great future ahead of her as a gifted writer!
I received this book from Handlebar Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I expressed are my own.

Too Deep for Words By Andrea Boeshaar

Until I started reading the book I did not realize it was a sequel to A Thousand Shall Fall. To say I was excited is an understatement! The first book was one I thoroughly enjoyed. This one did not disappoint either.
Once again Ms. Boesharr does an excellent job of portraying the emotions, struggles and lives of those living during the Civil War Era.
Carrie Ann has found the love of her life with Yankee officer, Peyton Collier. After living a life of deprivation and abuse she finds herself a privileged lady of means.
Life is near perfect, except for the war. She knows she could lose her husband at any time. After only 19 days as Mrs. Collier, her Peyton is called to deal with small military occurrence promising to be back for breakfast the next day. He never returns and the military reports to her that he is missing in battle and probably dead. Carrie cannot give up the gut feeling that he is alive somewhere. His aunt, her sister and their beloved house keeper try to persuade her to accept the fact he is gone, but she refuses.
Passionately she begins an exhaustive search of hospitals where wounded men have been taken. Finally there is lead that the soldiers in that battle have been taken to a certain hospital but it is a Confederate one in Virginia. She and her sister travel there on a ruse putting their lives in danger.
Carrie’s emotions are all over the place and she goes from doubt to certainty her much-loved husband is alive. In the midst of her confusion is her husband’s best friend, Eli, a confederate soldier, with whom he appointed executor of his estate should he die. Peyton also ask him to look after Carrie and his family. Eli has always been in love with her and begins to woo her. She is told she is a widow, yet she doesn’t feel like one. Should she begin a new life or continue the quest for husband? Should she listen to others or her heart?
A well written novel filled with suspense, mystery, romance, and characters that draw you into their life. I cannot wait for the sequel!! This book can be read alone but you will definitely want to read the first book!!!!
I was provided a copy of this book Kregel Publications, with no expectation of a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.

A Stolen Heart By Amanda Cabot

A Christian, crime, mystery, romance, historical novel, who would think it could be done!? Author Amanda Cabot did and she has succeeded with this wonderful novel!
The author really showcased her writing skills with this new book!
Poor Lydia Crawford uproots herself from her New York home, quits her job as a school teacher, and heads to Texas to meet the love of her life, finance, Edgar. Upon arriving with engagement ring in hand, not only does she find that Mr. Right has disappeared but has also left behind a pregnant wife! In the face of the shock and pain of this betrayal, she also finds that even though the civil war has been over for 15 years, the hostility of the town people toward Yankees had not abated.
Little did she know the handsome and very helpful sheriff, Travis, who meets her at the stagecoach, was going to be her protector and new romance? As the story progresses you see how perfectly matched they were to each other, both, kind, giving and caring people. He senses her dilemma and immediately finds her a place to stay and work with his great Aunt Bertha. Aunt Bertha is rich, and has strong influence. Someone the residents dare not cross. This gives Lydia protection from the cruelty and acceptance in the community. An added blessing is the closeness the two quickly develop. Lydia is a strong woman of faith. She trusts God and believes she was brought her to here for His purpose, but she has no idea what that is.
Though the town is small it harbors many mysteries and Lydia aims to discover them. Soon after her arrival a string of minor crimes begin to occur. She teams up with Travis to get to the bottom of it. The characters were well fleshed out and delightful. You feel as if you knew them personally. The descriptions of the town and activities of the characters were vivid. I like feeling as if I am there and a part of the story. The plot was entertaining and intriguing. You will be kept guessing! A great book. I was very happy to see that this is a trilogy so more books are to come!
I was provided a copy of this book by Chosen books, with no expectation of a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.