“Still Life” by Dani Pettrey

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Dani Pettrey’s latest is out, and it’s a winner ….

Blacklisted in the photography business over a controversial shot, Avery Tate answered an ad for a crime scene photographer. She expected to be laughed at, but crime scene analyst Parker Mitchell hired her outright–and changed her life. But six months ago, when her feelings for Parker became too strong, she left his employ to sort out her heart.

Now, for the first time, Avery is facing the world that rejected her to attend the gallery opening of a photography exhibit and support her best friend, who modeled for the show. But the only image of her friend is a chilling photo of her posing as if dead–and the photographer insists he didn’t take the shot. Worse, her friend can’t be found. She immediately calls Parker for help. As Avery, Parker, and his friends in law enforcement dig into the mystery, they find themselves face-to-face with a relentless and deadly threat.

Pettrey’s latest work in the Chesapeake Valor series is an action-packed winner!  If you enjoy romantic stories that keep you on the edge of your seat, then Still Life is most definitely for you.  Between the danger that Avery faces as she tries to find her friend, the romantic tension between her and Parker, and morbid photos that keep popping up of dead beauties, you won’t be able to put Still Life down.

Avery is a fascinating main character to me.  With her rough background and gritty determination to overcome it, Avery’s journey to healing and love is a page-turner.  With Parker’s fun Irish accent, who wouldn’t be enthralled? 

I enjoyed the ties Pettrey created between Avery’s past and her present, between the art world and the real one.  As my daughter and I enjoy playing with our cameras and trying to get the ‘perfect’ shot – though only of things like flowers and butterflies – reading about real photographers and their work was a fascinating angle of the story.

Pettrey excels at building suspense, and part of that is the way that she adds suspects to the list and then sorts through them.  She keeps you guessing for much of the story while she drips details into your brain.  I was a good two-thirds of the way through the story before I had even a hope of pinpointing who the killer was, and even then I wasn’t sure I was right.  I love when an author can keep me guessing ’til the end!

If you’re a fan of Christian suspense fiction, hurry and get your hands on a copy of Still Life.  You won’t regret it.

I received a free copy of this book.  All opinions are my own.

 

“Conspiracy of Silence” by Ronie Kendig

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Four years after a tragic mission decimated his career and his team, Cole “Tox” Russell is persona non grata to the United States. And that’s fine–he just wants to be left alone. But when a dormant, centuries-old disease is unleashed, Tox is lured back into action.

Partnered with FBI agent Kasey Cortes, Tox has to pull together a team to begin a globe-spanning search for answers–and a cure. As their quest leads them from continent to continent, it slowly becomes clear they’re not just fighting a plague–but battling against an ancient secret society whose true goals remain hidden.

With time running out and opposition growing on every side, the key to everything may rest in an antique codex, the Crown of Jerusalem–but will Tox and his team be able to trust each other enough to break this century-spanning conspiracy of silence?

Conspiracy of Silence is the fastest paced thriller I’ve read in years!  I couldn’t put it down.  It’s a winner on so many levels – the growth and redemption of Tox, the Biblical artifact mystery, and the team that travels the world trying to save it.

I love that mix.  The combination of military action, good-versus-evil, and Biblical artifacts coming to light is exciting.  It’s like reading a paper version of the best kind of action-adventure movie, and if you’re a lover of books, what could be better?

The depth of character to Tox is exhilarating.  He’s a military man through-and-through, but the faith, regrets, and love interests add multiple facets to his character that make him a wonderful leading man.  You can’t help but cheer for him on all levels even when things are going his way. 

There is a prequel novella to this story.  It’s short but maintains the same high-octane level as this book.  It’s not necessary to read that story before this one, but it will help you to understand the attitudes of the characters in the early chapters.

This is the first Kendig book I’ve read, but it won’t be the last.  I loved this story.  If you’re a fan of Joel C. Rosenberg or other realistic action-adventure stories, you’ll definitely want to read Conspiracy of Silence.

I received a free copy of Conspiracy of SilenceAll opinions expressed here are my own.

“The Mark of the King” by Jocelyn Green

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After being imprisoned and branded for the death of her client, twenty-five-year-old midwife Julianne Chevalier trades her life sentence for exile to the fledgling 1720s French colony of Louisiana, where she hopes to be reunited with her brother, serving there as a soldier. To make the journey, though, women must be married, and Julianne is forced to wed a fellow convict.

When they arrive in New Orleans, there is no news of Benjamin, Julianne’s brother, and searching for answers proves dangerous. What is behind the mystery, and does military officer Marc-Paul Girard know more than he is letting on?

With her dreams of a new life shattered, Julianne must find her way in this dangerous, rugged land, despite never being able to escape the king’s mark on her shoulder that brands her a criminal beyond redemption.

Jocelyn Green has penned an epic new adventure saga in The Mark of the KingA fantastic and dramatic look at life in the French Louisiana colony in the early 1720s, I couldn’t put it down.

There were so many aspects of history that Green wrote into this book that I was completely unaware even existed; I didn’t realize that any part of North America was ever forcibly populated by criminals; that there were wars between the French and the local Native Americans long prior to the well-known French and Indian War; that New Orleans was a planned city, and much, much more.  Knowing that these true historical facts formed the basis of this story made it even more exciting.

Not that it wasn’t on its own.  Life was hard in New Orleans, and Julianne faced more than any one woman should ever have to endure.  I constantly wondered at her persistence and diligence, because I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have her outlook if I lived in her circumstances.  The humidity and mosquitos alone would have done me in!  Her faith and character are to be admired and can teach much.

I loved Green’s smooth writing style, too.  Each time I thought I had something figured out, due to words that stood out or perceived foreshadowing, the story swung into a new direction.  I never saw it coming, but the transitioning was smooth, and the details made it all fit perfectly as events unfolded.  That can’t be easy to do, but it makes for a fabulous story.

If you’re a fan of historical fiction of any kind, definitely give Green’s The Mark of the King a try.

Click here to see more reviews in this bloggy hop or here to purchase your own copy now.

 
 
Jocelyn Green inspires faith and courage as the award-winning author of ten books to date, including Wedded to War, a Christy Award finalist in 2013; Widow of Gettysburg; Yankee in Atlanta; and The 5 Love Languages Military Edition, which she coauthored with bestselling author Dr. Gary Chapman. A former military wife herself, her passion for military families informs all of her writing as well as her numerous speaking opportunities. Jocelyn graduated from Taylor University with a BA in English and now lives with her husband and two children in Iowa.
 
 
Want to win your own?  Check out Green’s giveaway!

Jocelyn Green

I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity.  All opinions are my own.

 

All Teens Should See “Alison’s Choice”

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Alison’s Choice is a full-length feature film that seeks to answer the question, “WWJS (what would Jesus say) to a young woman planning abortion?” 

As the story goes, young Alison (played by Chanel Marriott) finds herself pregnant by a dead-beat boyfriend. Feeling she has no other options Alison turns to abortion. There in the clinic’s waiting room, she encounters a cast of quirky characters, each with their own brand of wisdom and advice; a flamboyant counselor, a suburban mom, a heart-weary receptionist, an inner city counterpart… And more than anyone else, a gentle-faced janitor with mop “eternally” in hand.

The two begin to talk and it quickly becomes clear he is no mere janitor, but Jesus manifest (played by Bruce Marchiano of The Encounter and Gospel of Matthew). He’s come to plead for the life of her baby. 

With the clock ticking precious minutes away, He pours out His heart of care and compassion, His message unequivocal, “I love you, Alison, and I love your baby too.”  Suddenly a nurse appears, “Alison, we’re ready for you.”  What will Alison choose…

Alison’s Choice is a movie that every teen should see.  It makes a strong visual, moral, and emotional case for the importance of caring for babies, whether born or unborn.  The debate  between Alison and Jesus run through a myriad of different arguments, both for and against, the practice of abortion and will answer the questions commonly raised during any discussion of abortion.  That’s why it’s the perfect movie for teens to see; it will help them to understand more fully the entire issue.

The movie is not just scientific, though; it’s full of drama and emotion.  Alison has a most difficult decision in front of her, and the movie shows that clearly.  Other women are depicted with varying attitudes towards the practice, and the physical danger is not dismissed, nor are the possible future problems.

I feared that a movie about such an important topic would by dry, but humor was injected at appropriate times.  Those spurts of laughter kept the pace of the movie moving.

Alison’s Choice would be a great tool for youth groups or church events.  It could serve as a wonderful springboard for discussion and could open communication lines between generations.  I hope that many take advantage of this movie.

Don’t take my word for it, though – watch the trailer here for yourself.

There’s also a giveaway happening, and you could win a copy of the movie!  Enter here.

I received a free copy of this movie.  All opinions expressed are my own.

“Of Stillness and Storm” by Michele Phoenix

 

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“I felt torn between two worlds. Each with its own mystery. One more captivating than the other, but the other more real and breathing.”

It took Lauren and her husband ten years to achieve their dream—reaching primitive tribes in remote regions of Nepal. But while Sam treks into the Himalayas for weeks at a time, finding passion and purpose in his work among the needy, Lauren and Ryan stay behind, their daily reality more taxing than inspiring. For them, what started as a calling begins to feel like the family’s undoing.

At the peak of her isolation and disillusion, a friend from Lauren’s past enters her life again. But as her communication with Aidan intensifies, so does the tension of coping with the present while reengaging with the past. It’s thirteen-year-old Ryan who most keenly bears the brunt of her distraction.

Intimate and bold, Of Stillness and Storm weaves profound dilemmas into a tale of troubled love and honorable intentions gone awry.

Michele Phoenix

Of Stillness and Storm is a tough but valuable read for anyone who’s married, a parent, or supporting a missionary.  That grouping may sound random, but Phoenix does an fantastic job of penning a suspenseful and dramatic story that will appeal to readers on many levels.

As the mother of someone determined to go to do mission work in another country, it was hard to read about the deprivation this missionary family – even though some of that was by choice.  I’m glad that my daughter, while just as determined, is more reasonable than Sam!

The submission and obedience that Lauren brings to her marriage is something that sounds incredibly controversial, and yet in each instance it seems reasonable when you’re reading about it – until suddenly it doesn’t.  I love the opportunities that this book presents for deep discussions about marriage and parenting.

Phoenix is a gifted writer.  As difficult as aspects of this story were to read, I didn’t want to put it down – and finished it in a single evening.  She’s definitely a writer to follow.

To read other reviews in this bloggy hop, click hereTo purchase your own copy now, click here.

{More About Michele Phoenix}

Born in France to a Canadian father and an American mother, Michèle Phoenix is a consultant, writer and speaker with a heart for Third Culture Kids. She taught for 20 years at Black Forest Academy (Germany) before launching her own advocacy venture under Global Outreach Mission. Michèle travels globally to consult and teach on topics related to this unique people group. She loves good conversations, mischievous students, Marvel movies and paths to healing.

Find out more about Michele at http://michelephoenix.com.
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I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity.  The opinions are my own.

“Pursuing Gold” by Cynthia L. Simmons

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About Pursuing Gold:  With his father dead and his business partner incapacitated, Peter Chandler inherits the leadership of a bank in economic crisis. With only a newly-minted college degree and little experience, Peter joins his partner’s daughter, Mary Beth Roper, in a struggle to keep C&R Bank afloat while the Civil War rages around Chattanooga. Political pressure for unsecured loans of gold to the government stirs up trouble as tempers and prices rise. Their problems multiply when Mary Beth discovers counterfeit money with Peter’s forged signature. Can they find the forger before the bank fails? The two friends must pursue gold on behalf of their business, as they learn to pursue their heavenly Father to find hope and peace.

Cynthia L. Simmons

Simmons has sketched a tale of deceit, loss, and love in the midst of the chaos of the Civil War.  I’ve never before thought about how banks survived during wartime before the FDIC was backing them, but Simmons examines that reality in great detail in this new story.

I’ve always wondered about the details of how our country converted from metal coinage to paper money, and that idea is discussed a bit in the book.  I enjoyed reading about the Peter’s struggle to grow from his book education to becoming a wise business owner, especially during such a turbulent time. 

Simmons’ writing style is a bit more abrupt than I’m used to; there were many transitions between settings and characters, and while it may not be more than other stories, the distinct labeling made it feel like many.  Those transitions often came on the heels of a revelation or announcement for the main character of that section, and those big ideas were followed with little information about how that character felt.  I think that including those emotions, whether directly or indirectly, fills out the story; however, after a few chapters, I adjusted to Simmons’ style and enjoyed the story greatly.

While I felt I could point out the guilty culprit with some certainty throughout the story, I was never sure how the crime was being accomplished.  In the end, Simmons surprised me completely.  I wasn’t completely wrong about the guilty party, but the motivation came completely out of left field.  It’s a great thing when the author can keep me guessing until the very moment that the ending is revealed!

Simmons chose a very unique angle when creating this story. If you’re a fan of historical fiction, you should definitely give Pursuing Gold a try.

Click here to read other reviews on this bloggy hop or here to purchase your own copy now.

Cynthia L Simmons and her husband, Ray, have five children and reside in Atlanta. She has taught for over thirty years as a homeschool mother and Bible teacher. She’s a columnist for Leading Hearts Magazine and she directs Atlanta Christian Writing Conference. Cyndi has a heart for encouraging women in today’s crazy, upside-down world. She loves history and peppers her speaking and teaching with fascinating vignettes from the past. Her first book, “Struggles and Triumphs,” was nominated for 2008 Georgia Author of the Year. She co-founded Homeschool Answers and hosts Heart of the Matter Radio.

Find out more about Cynthia at http://clsimmons.com.

I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity.  The opinions expressed here are my own.

“Pray A to Z” by Amelia Rhodes

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Pray A to Z: A Practical Guide to Praying for Your Community will help you topically organize your prayer requests and lay the burdens of your community at the feet of our Heavenly Father. Whether you are praying for a friend’s adoption journey, a neighbor’s bankruptcy, or a family member’s cancer, this book will give you Bible verses, prayer prompts, and prayer starts to guide you through praying for even the most difficult issues that affect the people you know and love. Perfect for either individual or group prayer, Pray A-Z will help you experience the peace that comes from communicating with God.

Amelia Rhodes

If you’ve ever promised to pray for someone but had trouble following through, Pray A to Z is the book for you.  Rhodes has created a simple plan to help you keep track of your prayer commitments.  With lots of flexibility, it can easily be adapted to different schedules and amounts of prayer times.

I particularly like the details within the alphabetical format, though.  There are five categories for each letter of the alphabet.  Three of them are problematic areas which might require prayer.  Each of those includes scripture to ponder or pray and a prayer meant to be used as a springboard for your own prayers.  The other two categories are areas of praise, also with scripture and springboard prayers.  I like be balance between prayer concerns and areas for praise in each category.

Also included in the book are a variety of ideas about how to use it.  If you have a longer prayer time, you could work your way through the alphabet each day, but you could also do a letter at a time, a letter each day, week, etc.  This should make it quite doable to organize your prayer life in this way.

I’ve organized  my prayers in the past by type of prayer or by group of people, but it never occurred to me to sort my prayer list by alphabet.  This could definitely make it easier for me to keep track of my prayers and of who I’ve been praying for, and I love the flexibility for ways to work through your list after that.

If you’ve been wanting a better way to organize your prayer life, Pray A to Z is a great place to start.

Click here to read other reviews on this bloggy hop or here to purchase your own copy now.

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One grand prize winner will receive:

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on December 20. The winner will be announced December 21 on Amelia’s blog.

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I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity.  All opinions expressed are my own.

“Trust My Heart” by Carol J. Post

Carol J. Post

Grant McAllister arrives in Murphy, North Carolina, with one aim: to sell his inherited property and leave as quickly as possible.

The big-city lawyer has no interest in his late, estranged grandparents or the dilapidated mansion he just acquired. After his high-profile divorce, he should be avoiding perky reporters, too. But Jami Carlisle is honest, funny, and undeniably appealing.

After breaking up with her safe-but-smothering boyfriend, Jami is determined to ace her first big assignment. A story about the McAllister estate is too intriguing to ignore—much like its handsome, commitment-phobic heir. Thanks to her digging, the pieces of Grant’s fraught family history are gradually fitting into place, but also upending all his old beliefs.

The two draw closer as they share their dreams, until misread signals and misunderstandings begin to test their trust. But in the unspoiled beauty of the Smoky Mountains, there’s healing and forgiveness to be found. And for Grant, this unplanned detour may be just what’s needed to finally guide him home…

Post puts North Carolina’s best foot forward in this new, fairytale romance.  With the North Carolina mountains creating both a vivid and exciting backdrop for Trust My Heart, there’s always a new adventure around the corner.  I love the way that Post exploited the natural beauty of the mountains and pulled the setting so strongly into the story.

Jami was an exciting character, too.  Her friendliness and courage in face of adversity make her my favorite kind of leading lady.  Grant’s not such a bad leading man, though, either.  With a few glaring flaws but the sincerity and drive to overcome them, I appreciate his willingness to make major life changes.

The supporting cast of characters really made the story.  Bernie’s antics were just hilarious, and Jami’s friends made great back-up people.  I’d love to read their stories, too.  With such colorful characters in the background and a strong setting, Trust My Heart puts me in mind of the Mitford books.  If you love Jan Karon’s work, definitely give Trust My Heart a try.

Click here to read other reviews in this bloggy hop or here to purchase your own copy now.


 

From medical secretary to court reporter to property manager to owner of a special-events decorating company, Carol J. Post’s résumé reads as if she hasn’t yet decided what she wants to be when she grows up. But one thing that has remained constant through the years is her love of writing. She started as a child composing poetry for family and friends, then graduated to articles for religious and children’s publications. Now she pens fun, fast-paced inspirational romance and romantic suspense stories. Her books have been nominated for an RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Book award and selected as an RT Top Pick. When Carol isn’t writing, she enjoys sailing, hiking, camping—almost anything outdoors. She also plays the piano and sings with her music-minister husband. Their two grown daughters and their grandkids live too far away for her liking, so she now pours all her nurturing into taking care of a fat and sassy black cat and a highly spoiled dachshund.

 
 

Join Carol in celebrating the release of Trust My Heart by entering to win her $75 Cozy Cash Giveaway.

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One grand prize winner will receive:

  • A copy of Trust My Heart
  • A $75 Visa cash card
  • A basket full of goodies made in North Carolina to keep you cozy in the cooler fall weather

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Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on November 23. The winner will be announced November 28 on Carol’s blog.

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I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity.  The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

The Father Christmas Books by Robin Jones Gunn

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Recently I had the chance to read not one, but three books by a favorite author.  How excited was I?  I got to read these three books:

In FINDING FATHER CHRISTMAS, Miranda Carson’s search for her father leads her unexpectedly to London with only a few feeble clues as to who he might be. Immediately welcomed into a family that doesn’t recognize her, and whom she’s quickly coming to love, she faces a terrible decision. Should she reveal her true identity and destroy their idyllic image of her father? Or should she carry the truth home with her to San Francisco and remain alone in this world? Whatever choice she makes during this London Christmas will forever change the future for both herself and the family she can’t bear to leave.

In ENGAGING FATHER CHRISTMAS Miranda Carson can’t wait to return to England for Christmas and to be with her boyfriend, Ian. She has spent a lifetime yearning for a place to call home, and she’s sure Carlton Heath will be it, especially when a hinted-at engagement ring slips into the conversation. But Miranda’s high hopes for a jolly Christmas with the small circle of people she has come to love are toppled when Ian’s father is hospitalized and the matriarch of the Whitcombe family withholds her blessing from Miranda. Questions run rampant in Miranda’s mind about whether she really belongs in this cheery corner of the world. Then, when her true identity threatens all her relationships in unanticipated ways, Miranda is certain all is lost. And yet . . . maybe Father Christmas has special gifts in store for her after all.

A year-and-a-half ago, Anna flew from Minnesota to Carlton Heath to attend the wedding of her cousin, Ian, to an American woman named Miranda. The beautiful event ended with Anna receiving an unexpected, unforgettable kiss from groomsman Peter. Now Anna is delighted to be invited back for Christmas with her family, dreams of romance dancing in her head. But when she finally sees him again, Peter insists his only interest in Anna is as a friend. Anna is hurt, and becomes even more confused when Peter takes her on a romantic tour of London. Is Anna’s heart misleading her, or is there a reason Peter is denying what he feels?

Robin Jones Gunn knocked it out of the park with the Father Christmas stories.  They’ll fill the most Bah, humbug reader with hope of love this Christmas season.  The three stories are connected by setting and a few background characters, and they provide a delightful backdrop that will keep the reader coming back for that alone.  I fell in love with the town of Carlton Heath and would love to see such a place myself – and I’ve never really wished to visit England. 

Miranda and Anna, the American female leads, are sweet.  While their personalities aren’t alike, the way that they’re welcomed by the residents of Carlton Heath and the way that they respond are somehow both sweet and innocent, even when the circumstances of the story aren’t.  I love the wisdom that Gunn imbues into every element of the story and the faith journey that she sends her characters on.

If you step back and think about it, the odds of any part of these stories coming true is extremely unlikely, but Gunn writes with such sweet conviction that they are completely believable.  I loved the impending, suspenseful romance of each story and the life lessons that are contained in each. 

The Father Christmas books are moving to the top of my favorite Christmas stories list.   I love the serious view of love with the lighthearted touches scattered throughout the story and will reread these over and over.  The biggest downfall is that I don’t have cable, because I would have loved to watch the Father Christmas movie that debuted recently.  If you have the chance, check it out!

I received a free copy of these books from FaithWords.  The opinions expressed are my own.

“The Cottage” by Michael Phillips

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Michael Phillips Continues His Sweeping Shetland Islands Saga with The Cottage

When Loni Ford is informed that she has inherited property in the Shetland Islands, she laughs. She wants nothing more than to sell it and be done with it. But when she arrives in the North Sea enclave, she is stunned to find that “the Cottage” is not at all what she expected, nor is David Tulloch, the man most of the islanders believe to be the rightful heir.

The locals could hardly be more surprised that the heir is a woman–and an American. Loni, in turn, finds the islanders quaint and a bit behind the times. Expecting David to be as provincial as the rest of his clan, she discovers that there is far more to the man than meets the eye. And there is something about the peaceful atmosphere of the place–and the character of its most prominent citizen–that soon gets under her skin.

Beneath the peaceful surface, however, change is threatening the island of Whale’s Reef. David’s cousin Hardy Tulloch, whose claim to the inheritance now in Loni’s hands was backed by oil investors, has not been deterred in his aim to control the island. But his co-conspirators have plans of their own, plans that put Loni’s very life in danger.

 

I enjoyed Michael Phillips’ first Secrets of the Shetlands novel, but he knocked it out of the park with The Cottage!  I couldn’t put this sequel down.  With the cast established and the location well painted, Phillips jumps right in with the suspense and intrigue.

I loved the faith journey that Loni went on in this story.  She learns and grows a great deal, not only about herself, but also about what she believes.  I like her take on friendships, on relationships, and her willingness to do the right thing even when it’s hard.  She’s a loveable main character and I was fascinated with her persona.

While the island itself was beautiful, it was the culture that caught my attention in this story.  I loved the history of the island, the way that the interactions between various people affected people’s attitudes and circumstances.  The flipping between the old stories and the new ones are some of my favorite vehicles for sharing that kind of history, and Phillips did an excellent job of using it here.

I couldn’t put The Cottage down.  I read it as fast as possible, in a single sitting, in a single day.  I couldn’t wait to find out the outcome of the island’s economy, Loni’s inheritance, and the love that blooms throughout its pages.  If you’re a fan of deep and meaningful stories with real people and exciting cultures, you should definitely read The Cottage.

I received a free copy of this book.  The opinions are my own.