Don’t Speak by J.L. Brown (review by Kristi)


dont-speak

About the book:  The nursery rhyme was wrong. Words can hurt you.

Ambitious, twenty-something FBI Special Agent Jade Harrington cuts her vacation short to investigate the murder of a conservative radio personality only to discover that he may be the victim of a serial killer. Whitney Fairchild, the elegant and charismatic Democratic senator from Missouri, campaigns in a cutthroat race for president of the United States. Cole Brennan, the most popular conservative talk-show host in the nation, battles nightly to save his country and help the incumbent Republican president maintain his ‘inner conservative’ to win re-election.

The lives of Jade, Whitney, Cole, and the killer—who has an agenda of his own—are on a collision course. That course will not just impact them each in ways they could never have foreseen, but also the future of the United States of America. Amidst a backdrop of contemporary power politics driven by the influence of talk radio and social media, Don’t Speak thrills even as it explores many of the complex issues facing Americans today.

Kindle Edition, 386 pages             Published January 8, 2016 by JAB Press

 

My review:  As an avid reader and somewhat of a book snob, I somewhat cringe at debut novels because, well, they just aren’t that well written sometimes. I sure can’t say that about Don’t Speak, the debut novel from J.L. Brown. This book did not read as a debut novel but as one from a seasoned author. A fascinating storyline along with sharp writing made this book impossible to put down.

This book had me hooked from page one. I enjoyed how the author combined the political, legal, and entertainment aspects of the story into one storyline that was easy to follow and easy to believe. I also liked how the author changed from third-person telling of the story to first-person in the killer’s chapters. This made me feel like I was in the mind of the killer and it really added to the story. I also loved how the political storyline seemed as if it was ripped from today’s headlines. This really added a layer of authenticity to the story and made it seem real.

I loved the fact that the author kept me guessing until the end as to who the killer was. I have to admit I was shocked when the killer was revealed and their story was told in full. And then there’s one more surprise left for the readers. When I realized what the surprise was I have to say it was a jaw dropping moment. This just made me love the book even more and also the author’s ability to keep me on the edge of my seat and guessing from beginning to end. J.L. Brown is a gifted storyteller and this book proves it.

I can’t wait to read the next Jade Harrington novel. Jade is a character I enjoyed reading about and want to know more about. She is strong yet vulnerable and is a character that most females can relate to. I’m hoping the next novel will keep Jade’s group together and we can learn more about those characters as well.

If you enjoy reading thrillers you will enjoy this book. Although there are some graphic descriptions in the book nothing is too gory. (Believe me, I am someone who doesn’t like to read really gory, yucky scenes in books and nothing in this book made me cringe.) Now I’m off to anxiously await the next installment in the Jade Harrington series.

 

About the author:  J. L. Brown combines her love for sports, politics, and current affairs in her writing. Two of her short stories, Justice for One and Behind the Gates, were published in cc&d magazine in 2014.

A native of Fairfax, VA, she currently resides with her wife in Seattle, and is working on the second book in the Jade Harrington series.

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The Blue Ribbon Brides Collection- by 9 wonderful authors (review by Cathy)

the-blue-ribbon-brides-collection

About the book:

Meet nine men and women whose competitive goals take them to state and county fairs between 1889 and 1930. From baking pie to polishing pigs, from sculpting butter to stitching quilts, everyone has something to prove to themselves and their communities. But in going for the blue ribbon, will nine women miss the greatest prize of all—the devoted heart of a godly man
 

My review:

A charming collection that made me smile and want to go to state and county fairs.

I enjoyed the different time periods in each novella as well as each of the nine young ladies’ talents.

Of course tensions run high and there’s some mistrust along the way but that added realism as each character worked long and hard to win the much coveted blue ribbon.

I was familiar with some of the authors and found some new to me authors that I liked quite a bit.

The message of faith is woven throughout each story.

Fun and fast reads that will be enjoyable to readers of all ages.

I received a copy of the book from the publisher through Netgalley for an honest opinion which I have given

 

 

 

The Wish by Beverly Lewis (review by Cathy)

the-wish

A Compelling Story of Friendship from the Top Author in Amish Fiction 
Leona Speicher got the “sister” she’d always dreamed of the day Gloria Gingerich and her family moved to Lancaster County Amish farmland. The Arkansas newcomers seem to be everything a devout Plain family should be, and Leona can’t help comparing Gloria’s engaging young parents to her own. 

Leona’s cousin shows a romantic interest in Gloria around the same time as Gloria’s older brother expresses his fondness for Leona–it seems likely the two young women will marry into each other’s families, remaining close friends for life. Thus, Leona is shocked when the Gingeriches suddenly pack up and disappear after being expelled from the church for reasons no one will discuss. Despite Leona’s pleas, Gloria goes with them, leaving more than one broken heart behind. 

When Gloria unexpectedly contacts Leona after a silence of several years, Leona makes up her mind to persuade her friend to return to Lancaster County and the Amish ways. Leona’s new beau, the deacon’s son, is alarmed when Leona decides to go after Gloria. Will Leona’s dearest wish lead to her own undoing?

My review:

The Wish is a wonderful book with memorable characters and a storyline unlike any other that I’ve read. Instead of the usual courtship and singings as the focus, the author explores the friendship of Leona and Gloria.  It was a very nice change and one I appreciated.

Of course as the girls mature they do discover young men and love.  Leona and Gloria became inseparable through the years until the day that Gloria and her family suddenly left the community leaving a void in not only Leona’s life but also Leona’s cousin life as he had fallen in love with Gloria.

There were rumblings within the community about Arkansas Joe so I wasn’t surprised when he abruptly left town uprooting his entire family. I felt so bad for Gloria when she had to leave her friends, home and even her dog.

I found that I related more to Leona after she spent more time with her parents and grandfather. I was so glad that she was able to have a better relationship with her mother.

Without giving anything away, I can say I was happy for the characters at the end of the story. Except for Joe and I can honestly say, I didn’t care for him too much.

This was my one of my favorite books by Beverly Lewis.  A definite must read for fans of Amish fiction.

I received a copy of The Wish from Netgalley for an honest opinion which I’ve given.

 

 

The Devoted (The Bishop’s Family #3) by Suzanne Woods Fisher (review by Cathy)

the-devoted

Fan Favorite Suzanne Woods Fisher Offers Readers Tender Romance, Humor, and Plenty of Surprises
Bright, curious, and restless, Ruthie Stoltzfus loves her family but is stuck in a sea of indecision about her future: Should she stay Amish? Or should she leave? She’s done all she can to prepare to go–passed the GED, saved her money–but she can’t quite set her journey into motion.
Patrick Kelly is a young man on a journey of his own. He’s come to Stoney Ridge to convert to the Amish and has given himself thirty days to learn the language, drive a buggy, and adapt to “everything Plain.” Time, to Patrick, is of the essence. Every moment is to be cherished, especially the hours he spends with Ruthie, his Penn Dutch tutor.
Ruthie’s next-door neighbor and cunning ex-boyfriend, Luke Schrock, is drawn to trouble like a moth to a flame. Rebellious, headstrong, defiant, Luke will do anything to win Ruthie back–“anything”–and Patrick Kelly is getting in his way.
Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher invites readers back to Stoney Ridge for a story of dreams deferred and hopes fulfilled–complete with Fisher’s signature twists that never fail to leave readers delighted.

My review:

It was great returning to Stony Ridge and catching up with the Stoltzfus family and their friends.  I’ve come to think of them as old friends, thanks to the authors ability to craft realistic characters that I’ve grown quite fond of.

David has been my favorite character since The Imposter. His faith, his love for his family and his community has remained unwavering despite any difficulties he’s encountered.

I liked how flawed some of the characters are in this series and was glad that Suzanne didn’t portray all of them as perfect Amish people.

The arrival of Patrick Kelly added another layer to the story with his insightful observations and his desire to convert to the Amish. I really liked him so much and was rooting for him to succeed.

Luke Shrock has been a nuisance and I’ve never liked him, but I’ll have to grudgingly admit that there’s a valid reason for his poor behavior.  He’s wreaked havoc in the community, causing pain for so many. Yet, he’s forgiven and forgiveness is the strong message in The Devoted.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for my honest opinion which I have given.

About the author:suzanne
Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling, award winning author of fiction and non-fiction books about the Old Order Amish for Revell Books, host of the radio-show-turned-blog Amish Wisdom, a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazine.
Her interest in the Amish began with her grandfather, who was raised Plain. A theme in her books (her life!) is that you don’t have to “go Amish” to incorporate the principles of simple living.
Suzanne lives in California with her family and raises puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To her way of thinking, you just can’t life too seriously when a puppy is tearing through your house with someone’s underwear in its mouth.
Suzanne can be found on-line at:
http://www.suzannewoodsfisher.com

When Love Arrives by Johnnie Alexander (review by Cathy)

when-love-arrives

About the book:

An Unlikely Couple Struggles to Reconcile the Burdens of Their Past


Dani Prescott came to the children’s hospital to spy on Brett Somers–so how did she end up on a date with him? Weeks earlier she’d seen an interview in which he blamed her mother for the plane crash that had killed his parents. But the crash had killed her mother as well, so Dani can’t believe the story Brett’s trying to sell to the media.


Vowing to find a way to discredit the privileged–and maddeningly handsome–Brett, Dani has been following him and taking photos, hoping to find something she can use against him. But when she catches his eye instead, she quickly finds herself offering up a fake name and agreeing to a date. Brett knows this mystery girl is hiding something–but he’s got his own secrets to keep.

What will happen when he discovers who she really is? Will Dani and Brett look beyond their own heartaches to discover a love that could heal their deepest pain?
Fresh, flirty, and fast-paced, “When Love Arrives” is an engaging story that will have readers falling in love with the characters as they navigate the tricky waters between romance and revenge.

 

My  review:

Johnnie Alexander is a new to me author, so I was looking forward to reading When Love Arrives.

To be completely honest, it took a while for me to get interested in this book.

At first, I truly didn’t care for Dani and felt she was too anxious to get try to make Bret look bad.  She seemed bitter to me.

I liked Brett almost immediately.  I liked him more after he opened up to Dani about his past. 

Their instant attraction to each other added a surprise element to the story and introduced other characters. 

Bret turned out to be totally different from what she had believed and Dani didn’t have the physical attributes that he was usually attracted to .They both had redeeming qualities as the book continues and I did begin to like them much better than I thought I would.

Although, I personally had a difficult time connecting to the characters I found the storyline interesting. I hadn’t read the first book in the series and to be fair to the author, that may have been part of the reason I didn’t immediately become engaged with the characters.

I received a copy of the book from the publisher and have given my honest opinion.

 

 

Twilight at Blueberry Barrens by Colleen Coble (review by Kristi)

twilight-at-blueberry-barrens

About the book:  I need you to keep these girls safe . . .

Kate Mason has devoted herself to caring for her family s blueberry barrens. But after her fields stop producing fruit, she s forced to come up with alternative ways to make a living.

Renting out the small cottage on her property seems an obvious choice, but it won’t be enough. When entrepreneur Drake Newham shows up looking not only for a place to rent but also for a nanny for his two nieces, it’s almost too good to be true. And maybe it is because Drake brings with him dangerous questions about who might be out to kill his family.

The more time Kate spends with Drake and the girls, the more difficult it becomes to hide her attraction to him. But a family crisis isn’t exactly the ideal time to pursue a romance.

Meanwhile, Kate learns that her uncle in prison for murder has escaped. Add to that a local stalker who won’t leave her alone, and Kate is looking over her shoulder at every turn. With threats swirling from multiple directions, she wonders if her blueberry fields will ever flourish again . . . or if this twilight is her last.

Set on the beautiful coast of Maine, Twilight at Blueberry Barrens brings together suspense, romance, and the hope that one day new life will come again.

Kindle edition, 352 pages                        Published September 20, 2016 by Thomas Nelson

 

My review:  If you’re looking for a romance novel this is not the book for you. If you’re looking for a book so full of suspense and moments that make you want to get up and close all the curtains in your house, then this IS the book for you! Colleen Coble has written, in my opinion, her best book yet! Twilight at Blueberry Barrens will keep you on the edge of your seat and turning the pages as quickly as you can (and closing those aforementioned curtains).

While this book grabbed me from the beginning it took me a few pages to get everyone straightened out. It had been a minute since I read the second book in the series and I just needed to reacquaint myself with everyone. (I will admit I haven’t read the first book in the series, and so, at times, felt like I was missing out on Kate and Claire’s backstory. The first book is definitely on my tbr list.)

The characters in the book are so well developed I soon forgot they were fictional. They had such a realness about them that added to the authenticity of the story. I thought Kate was very brave. Had I been in her shoes I would have skedaddled right on out of there at the first sign of trouble. Drake was the perfect balance to Kate’s character and I really enjoyed the interactions between the two. Their relationship developed in a natural way and didn’t seem forced or contrived.

Colleen Coble is a wonderful storyteller and the timing of events in this book was perfect. There was just the right amount of suspense and buildup to the climax. I have to say I was completely shocked to find out who the antagonist was. I didn’t see any clues to make me think I even had an inkling of who it was and I loved the total element of surprise there. I also liked the romantic thread that was woven into the suspense-filled story. It was just a natural part of the story and didn’t seem out of place.

I have had the honor of meeting Collen Coble at a book signing and found her to be such a sweet lady. But oh boy can she write a book that makes your heart beat a little faster, makes you want to get up and make sure the doors are locked and maybe, just maybe, scares you some, but in a good way. I like to think of her as the Mary Higgins Clark of the Christian fiction world and I can’t wait to read her next book!

I received a free copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest opinion which I have given.

I review for BookLook Bloggers

 

About the author:  USAToday bestselling author Colleen Coble lives with her husband, Dave, in Indiana. She is the author of dozens of novels including the Rock Harbor Series, the Aloha Reef Series, the Mercy Falls Series, the Hope Beach Series, the Lonestar Series and two Women of Faith fiction selections, Alaska Twilight and Midnight Sea. She has more than 2 million books in print.

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Amish Quilts by Wanda Brunstetter and Richard Brunstetter

amish-quilts

Enjoy a trip into the Amish quilting tradition through beautiful full-color pictures by Richard Brunstetter.  Taken in Amish communities and homes throughout the United States, his pictures offer a visual celebration of the quilting traditions of plain peoples, while author Wanda E. Brunstetter offers her insights into the roles quilts play in family life.

Also included are tips for those who want to make their own heirloom quilts.

My review:

This book is absolutely one of the loveliest books I have had in my hands in quite some time.   I loved everything about it.

Richard Brunstetter is a wonderful photographer and the quilts that he chose to photograph are beautiful.  Added to that are Bible scripture and Amish quotes chosen by Wanda Brunstetter.  She has also included quilting tips on each page.

This would make a great gift and with Christmas approaching, you may want to give this to a loved one.

I received a copy of Amish Quilts from the publisher and have given my honest opinion.