“All Things Hidden” by Tracie Peterson & Kimberly Woodhouse

All Things Hidden
 Gwyn Hillerman loves being a nurse at her father’s clinic on the beautiful Alaskan frontier. But family life has been rough ever since her mother left them, disdaining the uncivilized country and taking Gwyn’s younger sister with her.

In Chicago, Dr. Jeremiah Vaughan finds his life suddenly turned upside down when his medical license is stripped away after an affluent patient dies. In a snowball effect, his fiance breaks their engagement. In an attempt to bury the past, Jeremiah accepts Dr. Hillerman’s invitation to join his growing practice in the isolated Alaska Territory.

Gwyn and Jeremiah soon recognize a growing attraction to each other. But when rumors of Jeremiah’s past begin to surface, they’ll need more than love to face the threat of an uncertain future.

All Things Hidden is a most unusual Depression-era story with a very unique twist:  the settlement of Alaska.  I didn’t know that the poor national economy spawned a huge government movement to shift people to the territory of Alaska, so the very premise was exciting.  Since the reality of Alaska as our final national frontier is of a rustic, dangerous place, the setting screamed ‘new’ and ‘different.’ 

I really liked as a leading lady.  She was both humble and hardworking but human, too.  She wanted to fall in love and have a family, all the while struggling with the one that she was born into.  She’s pulled in too many directions, like far too many of us, and she could be the girl next door.

The action sped up throughout the story.  In the beginning you learn primarily about what will happen, at least according to government agents, but as time progresses the plan’s problems begin to arise.  With Gwyn and her father being the primary troubleshooters in the new Alaskan settlement, they’re on the front lines of action – and that continues as stalkers, murder, and general mayhem ensue.  This makes for a dramatic and page-turning read, and after a chapter or two, I couldn’t put it down.

I’ve never read a Peterson novel that I didn’t like, and All Things Hidden didn’t disappoint.  If you’re a Peterson fan, this is a must-read.

I received a free copy of All Things Hidden from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

“A Road Unknown” by Barbara Cameron

Elizabeth is at a crossroad. She’s been given the chance to experience life outside of her community, away from the responsibility to care for her eight younger siblings, but Elizabeth Bontrager can’t decide which road to take. Goshen has its charms and pressures, but Paradise, Pennsylvania, sounds . . . well, like paradise. And it’s also home to her Englisch friend, Paula. Decision made. Elizabeth is Paradise bound.
But will the small town live up to its name? When Elizabeth meets Paula’s friend, Bruce, she quickly learns he wants more than a friendship. And the same might be true of Saul Miller, her new boss at the country story that sells Amish products to the Englisch community. As the two compete for her attention, Elizabeth is surprised to realize she misses her family and becomes even more uncertain about where she belongs. She has a choice to make: return home or embrace this new life and possibly a new love?
 
Elizabeth doesn’t just take an unknown road in this book, but a most unique one, as well!    Forget trying to decide if she’s going to be Amish or English – she’s going to live Amish but in an English house and work in an Amish business and date both Amish and English!  While it might sound confusing, it really wasn’t – but the reader definitely hops between both worlds.
 
Yet it was really a fun read.  Elizabeth doesn’t spend as much time mentally trying to figure out her life spiritually or philosophically as she does just taking the next logical step.  Because these steps have put her in a rather unusual predicament, watching her navigate the sideways current makes for a great story.
 
Elizabeth was definitely someone I’d like to get to know, but Saul Miller, on the other hand, is a bit different.  At first he sounds like a ‘player,’ the kind of guy whom you’d really want to see put in his place.  As time passes, however, he comes across as a guy who has his head on straight but has just now figured out what he wants – and is going after it.
 
I flew through this book.  It’s an easy read, pretty light-hearted and smoothly written.  With such likeable characters and a flickering romance, you can’t help but want to see a happily-ever-after at the end of the book, and Cameron won’t disappoint you.
 
 

Barbara Cameron is a best-selling author who has a heart for writing about the spiritual values and simple joys of the Amish. She is the author of more than 38 fiction and nonfiction books, three nationally televised movies, and the winner of the first Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award. Barbara is a former newspaper reporter. Some of her non-fiction titles include the Everything Weddings on a Budget Book and Her Restless Heart: A Woman’s Longing for Love and Acceptance. Cameron currently resides in Edgewater, Florida.

 
Learn more about Barbara at: http://barbaracameron.com
 
I received a free copy of A Road Unknown from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

“A Promise Kept” by Robin Lee Hatcher

 

 God was going to save her marriage, Allison was sure of it. But neither her husband nor her marriage had been saved.

What had become of His promise?

Tony Kavanagh had been Allison’s dream-come-true. They were in love within days, engaged within weeks, married and pregnant within a year. Her cup bubbled over with joy . . . but years later, that joy had been extinguished by unexpected trials.

The day Allison issued her husband an ultimatum, she thought it might save him. She never expected he would actually leave. She was certain God had promised to heal; it was clear that she’d misunderstood.

Now, living in the quiet mountain cabin she inherited from her single, self-reliant Great Aunt Emma, Allison must come to terms with her grief and figure out how to adapt to small town life. But when she finds a wedding dress and a collection of journals in Emma’s attic, a portrait of her aunt emerges that takes Allison completely by surprise: a portrait of a heartbroken woman surprisingly like herself.

As Allison reads the incredible story of Emma’s life in the 1920s and 1930s, she is forced to ask a difficult question: Does she really surrender every piece of her life to the Lord?

Drawing from her own heart-wrenching story of redemption,A Promise Kept is Robin Lee Hatcher’s emotionally charged thanksgiving to a God who answers prayers—in His own time and His own ways.

A Promise Kept is a powerful story of redemption on many levels.  Although neither Allison nor her daughter wanted to walk away from Tony, they each had to – and then, although neither was ready, God brought him back into both lives again.  American culture dictates that we finish with things and dispose of them, that if they don’t suit us or are difficult, we set them aside and move on; but that is not what God asks us to do, and Allison was obedient to God’s calling.

This story follows Allison’s journey of grief, independence, obedience, and forgiveness.    None of the life changes she made were easy, and A Promise Kept makes that very evident.  I enjoyed watching as she transitioned from one state of mind into another, healing all the way.

With that said, although I could see her softening attitudes towards Tony, her return and complete forgiveness of his previous actions still felt sudden.  It felt as if the journey ended too abruptly, and I would have preferred for the storyline to keep moving at a slower, less dramatic pace; but, having read a bit of the author’s story, that would not have been realistic.  While it definitely shakes up the reader’s comfort level, the ending that Hatcher chose is one that only God, and not we imperfect humans, would choose, which makes it the perfect ending.

For me, the far and away best part of the story was Emma’s parallel one.  I loved the notion that another member of Allison’s family had similar struggles, faced them, and won.  The journals made a great tool for traveling back and forth between eras, and for history nuts like me, it made the faith lessons even stronger and more interesting.

A Promise Kept is definitely a departure from the faithful but romantic novels that Hatcher usually writes.  While it is still faithful and romantic, it is deeper and … edgier … somehow than her other works.  That just might make it the best one.

Read other reviews in this bloggy hop here or purchase your own copy now. 

 
 
Robin is the author of 65+ novels and novellas. Her home is in Idaho, where she spends her time writing stories of faith, courage, and love; pondering the things of God; and loving her family and friends.

Learn more about Robin at: http://www.robinleehatcher.com 
 

I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review. 

“A Little Irish Love Story” by Amy Fleming

A Little Irish Love Story  -     By: Amy Fleming
 

 What do you get when you mix a couple craving love, Nazi concentration camps, rich Irish landowners, and crazy chemists?  You get a book called A Little Irish Love Story, but it’s a most unusual story.

The scene opens with Anna, camp survivor, following her mother-in-law Sarah to her Irish hometown Adare.  At this point I figured it was going to be a historical-fiction version of the Ruth and Naomi story and settled in to watch out for Boaz – but while the wealthy relative soon came on the scene, he was no confident kinsman-redeemer.

Henry is rich and lonely.  His shyness appears to be his biggest issue, but you soon find out that there’s more.

As Anna and Henry start to dance around each other, interested but unsure of how to proceed, unreality reared its ugly head – at least for me.  After all that Anna had survived, she was so quick to move on?  After decades of being afraid of approaching a woman, Henry was jumped at the chance to date Anna?  Then, as their situation changes, they seem to run hot and cold alternately.  This certainly adds to the drama of the story, but when the crazy chemist pops up, the storyline got plain creepy.  

At this point I wanted to put the book down.  It felt almost as if I were reading a fantasy book at that point, and one that was rather unbelievable, as well.  If not for having promised this review, I might have put the book down, when suddenly things started looking up.  Still strange, but much more interesting and possible, and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.

By the end of the story I felt as if those strange parts were worth it.  The author was surely going to make an amazing point about real, true, Biblical love after all, right?

Well, she did – but not with whom I expected.  The final resolution of the love angle fell rather flat with me, between all of the hots and colds and running away and letting go.  I wanted the ending that happened – but I wanted it built up more.  More resolved.  More details figured out.  More ends tied up and wounds healed.

Instead it ended rather suddenly, just as most of the action happened.  Is the story well planned?  Detailed?  Well written?  Theologically sound?  Yes to all.  Is it suspenseful? Could I easily put the book down?  Yes and no – I couldn’t wait to find out what happened – until I did.  

The premise is actually quite fascinating.  I enjoyed the parallels and the ideas behind the characters – but they weren’t fleshed out enough for me to feel as if they were real, and while I felt quite a part of their stories, it needed more.  More detail.  More interaction.  A different pace to the interpersonal resolutions.

I think it really boiled down to Anna’s reaction to her time in the camps.  Because her reactions to that part of her story didn’t make sense to me, I had trouble relating to the rest.  Maybe you’ll have a different perspective.

I received a free copy of A Little Irish Love Story in exchange for an honest review.

“The Machine” by Bill Myers

The Machine: A Truth Seekers Novel

Book Summary:  When their mother dies, twin siblings Jake and Jennifer are forced to move to Israel with their seldom seen archaeologist dad. When their father creates a machine that points to the truth, the twins are in for the adventure of a lifetime. They soon discover how all things will work together for good to all those who love God.

I absolutely LOVE the premise of this story.    The idea that the very rocks will call out and praise God is Biblical – but if they could share what they have ‘seen,’ can you imagine the stories that they could tell?  I’m only a so-so sci fi fan, but this was really well done.  The tech details were explained enough to be intriguing but were not bogged down in technicalities.  I can completely see how this book would be interesting for the 10-14 year-olds it’s geared towards.

The life lessons learned were quite valuable, too.  Jennifer had only a face-value faith at the beginning of the story, and her brother had his own set of issues, but through time, friends, and circumstances, they began to make their faith their own.  Just as importantly, they saw the value of it – and were willing to put themselves on the line to protect it.  By the end of the story Jennifer is showing the reader just how important it is not to compromise on one’s values.  We need more of these examples in our culture today!

The plot was full of adventure, with those life lessons mingled in.  I think that this unique combination would be action-packed enough for a tween boy but touchy-feely enough for a girl of the same age, and that brings us to another important point.  

The Machine comes with valuable information for families tucked in at the end.  This is a great feature – just because our kids can read on their own doesn’t mean that they have to.  This would make a fun read-aloud for the whole family or as a starting place for a wonderful family discussion.

The only aspect of this story that I was not thrilled about was the crush that one character has on another.  While nothing is discussed beyond whether ‘to-date-or-not-to-date’ and flirtatious looks, I just don’t think that the story had to go there.  Do we really need to have our ten-year-olds debating the merits of dating?  Or is this the perfect way to talk about it in a safe, fun way?  I don’t know – my kids aren’t that old yet, and so for now, we just don’t go there.

All in all, The Machine is a zany, comical, adventurous novel that teaches great lessons at the same time.  It’s a keeper.

I received a free copy of The Machine in exchange for an honest review.

“Invasion” by Jon S. Lewis

Colt McAlister moves in with his grandpa after his parents’ fatal accident,, but he soon finds that life in Arizona is even different than he expects.  Suddenly nothing is what it seems – from motorcycles that fly to supposed alien invasions.  With his best friends in tow, he struggles to solve the mystery of his parents’ accident and to find the truth behind Trident Biotech.  Is this worldwide leader of electronics really manned by a group of aliens – and if so, can Colt stop them from killing all human life on Earth?

This book is surprisingly well written.  The fantasy elements are detailed and complete, creating an entirely new world inside the story.  The plot built in intensity and culminated in a series of events that perfectly resolved the issues of this story and opened possibilities for the next book (which I can’t wait to read).

With the main character being a sixteen-year-old boy and the massive amounts of hand-to-hand combat, technical details, and just plain gross stuff, this book will thrill teen boys.

That aside, I did have one problem with this story.  As a Christian fiction book, it is definitely heavy on the fiction and light on the Christian.  Colt does know Christians and attends church, but he is not a believer himself, and none of them try to explain anything to him.  The alien aspect of the book is woven so seamlessly into history and the details of the story that it may be confusing for some people who wonder what the Bible says about aliens.  Having a disclosure-type statement somewhere in the book may clarify these issues for those people who are not clear on what the Bible has to say bout them.

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review.

“Diary of a Teenage Girl: Becoming Me” by Melody Carlson

Diary of a Teenage Girl Series, Caitlin #1: Becoming Me   -     
        By: Melody Carlson
 
Sixteen-year-old Caitlin O’Conner seems like your stereotypical “good-girl.”  But are appearances always true?  Caitlin’s experiences may surprise you.  With separated parents, a a sudden ‘in’ with the popular crowd, invitations to unsupervised parties and dates with the most sought-after boys in school, Caitlin has a myriad of choices to make.  
 
Chronicling a full semester of Caitlin’s life, this book walks the reader through many decisions and their consequences facing teens today – including faith, trust, popularity, the value of money, purity, alcohol, and divorce.  Honest but not graphic, this book forces the reader to question her own stance on these important issues.  
 
Carlson describes Caitlin as a sincere, somewhat shallow, but basically typical teen from today.  She gets good grades, has a solid friendship, and has the strong support of her family behind her, and yet she is seriously tempted by many things on which her footing was previously stable.  Carlson shows how simple it is to allow our convictions to be swallowed up by our circumstances – and for that, this is a must-read for teen girls today.  
 
To read an excerpt from Diary of a Teenage Girl:  Becoming Me, click here.
 
I received a free copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for an honest review.

“Anomaly” by Krista McGee


Thalli has fifteen minutes and twenty-three seconds left to live. The toxic gas that will complete her annihilation is invading her bloodstream. But she is not afraid.

 
Decades before Thalli’s birth, the world ended in a nuclear war. But life went on deep underground, thanks to a handful of scientists known as The Ten. Since then, they have genetically engineered humans to be free from emotions in the hopes that war won’t threaten their lives again.
 
But Thalli was born with the ability to feel emotions and a sense of curiosity she can barely contain. She has survived so far thanks to her ability to hide those differences. But Thalli’s secret is discovered when she is overwhelmed by the emotion in an ancient piece of music.
 
She is quickly scheduled for annihilation, but her childhood friend, Berk, convinces The Ten to postpone her death and study her instead. While in the scientists’ Pod, Thalli and Berk form a dangerous alliance, one strictly forbidden by the constant surveillance in the pods.
 
As her life ticks away, she hears rumors of someone called the Designer—someone even more powerful than The Ten. What’s more, the parts of her that have always been an anomaly could in fact be part of a much larger plan. And the parts of her that she has always guarded could be the answer she’s been looking for all along.
 
Thalli must sort out what to believe and who she can trust, before her time runs out . . .
I absolutely loved the last Krista McGee novel that I read, so I was a bit disappointed with the opening of this one.  The premise feels very much like Lois Lowry’s The Giver or even Ted Dekker’s Mortal series.  You know, planned community in which all emotion and sensual information is erased and science rules …
 
except that’s where the similarity ends.  
 
Anomaly focuses less on the main character’s rebellion of the ruling scientific regime and more on each person’s innate longing to know our Creator.  McGee has crafted an intense blend of science and faith that will fascinate even the most reluctant science fiction or fantasy reader.  Anomaly is both and neither at the same time – because while the premise may be futuristic and technological, truth resounds within its pages.

  • We are created to Love.
  • We are planned with a purpose.
  • We are not all the same – and those differences are in accordance to the above purpose.
  • We are not meant to be in control, and rather than being scary, this can be a freeing discovery.

Anomaly is a perfect teen read.  It would make a fantastic book club book or discussion diving board for those angst-filled teen years when one is trying to figure out one’s purpose, place, and how to live with zits.  

That early similarity to The Giver?  It remains, lingering in the background, throughout the major action in the plot – but McGee ultimately does it better.  Not only does she add depth and meaning where it was missing in the first, but she throws in a surprise twist that totally blindsided me – and will have me scanning the newly-released book lists in watch for the sequel.

 
If you want to read other reviews from this blog hop, click here.  You can purchase your own copy here.
 
 
When Krista McGee isn’t living in fictional worlds of her own creation, she lives in Tampa and spends her days as a wife, mom, teacher, and coffee snob. She is also the author of “Anomaly”, “First Date”, “Starring Me”, and “Right Where I Belong”. 
 
Connect with Krista at http://www.kristamcgeebooks.com.
 
I received a free copy of Anomaly from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

“Dark Halo” by Shannon Dittemore

I’ve always enjoyed a good sci fi story.  
 
In the past my favorite have been time travel stories.  There’s just something about the idea of people being able to visit the Wild West or the Revolution or go back to make a difference somewhere that’s always fascinated me.
 
Dark Halo, Angel Eyes Series #3   -     
        By: Shannon Dittemore
 
 
My new sci fi favorite isn’t about time travel, though, but realm travel.  It’s the third and final installment in the Angel Eyes series, and it’s a fascinating look at what might happen if we had the eyes of angels – if we could see those heavenly bodies that God promises are all around us.

If we could see that, what might it look like?  What sort of spiritual battles are being waged all around us that we might never see?  I feel sure that theologians have whole parties where they debate that question, but Dittemore put an even more interesting spin on it – she made the sole human owner of that special vision a teenage girl in love with the orphan charge of an angel.

Doesn’t get much more exciting – except when that handsome charge has been kidnapped by Satan, and that beautiful all-seeing girl decides to go get him back.

That’s the premise of this story, and is a wonderful read.  I couldn’t put it down – I was completely drawn into the spiritual battle between demon Damien and the angels surrounding Stratus.  There was an extra layer of sub-plots in this book that weren’t present in the first, showing just how skillful a writer Dittemore is and just how well-planned the entire series is.

I think this series would make a great teen book club choice.  Obviously it’s more than one book, but it’s important to read all three to get the full scope of just who angels are and who we are in turn. I think that there are great debating options that arise from this plot and the potential to go back to the Bible and research just what it says about angels and their duties is huge.  In-depth discussions could really spring from this book.

Throughout the entire book, Dittemore’s writing style and ideas reminded me of Ted Dekker’s Circle series.  Not in any way has she incorporated his ideas, but her translation of the spiritual into a physical outcome is an idea that Dekker has used.  If Dittemore keeps this up, she’ll definitely be rivaling Dekker for the top sci spots on the best seller’s lists.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

“Angel Eyes” by Shannon Dittemore

Litfuse
 
About the book:

Once you’ve seen, you can’t unsee. Everything changes when you’ve looked at the world through . . .Angel Eyes.

Brielle went to the city to chase her dreams and found tragedy instead. She’s come home to shabby little Stratus, Oregon, to live with her grief and her guilt . . . and the incredible, numbing cold she can’t seem to shake.

Jake’s the new guy at school. The boy next door with burning hands and an unbelievable gift that targets him for corruption.

Something more than fate has brought them together. An evil bigger than both of them lurks in the shadows nearby, hiding in plain sight. Two angels stand guard, unsure what’s going to happen. And a beauty brighter than Jake or Brielle has ever seen is calling them to join the battle in a realm where all human choices start.

A realm that only angels and demons-and Brielle-can perceive.


Angel Eyes is the kind of Christian book that our young adults will be excited to read.  It’s action-packed, full of mystery, and not blind to the emotional drama experienced by teens every day.  A reader of Angel Eyes will see that it’s okay to have doubts and questions – it’s okay not to have all the answers – and that that’s when faith steps in – and you don’t have to understand that perfectly, either.  


Brielle is the perfect main character.  She’s attractive, draws your sympathy, and you want to cheer her on to greatness, yet she has a problem that she can’t solve.  Because she is so much like the girl next door, you can identify with her, and that makes all the difference in this story.  Like Brielle, so many of us are so completely self-absorbed as teenagers that we don’t notice the spiritual aspect of our world, and that’s the beauty of this book – it opens our eyes to the possibilities that could be happening all around us.  


I’m not saying that an angel’s going to toss you his halo tomorrow, but we do know that there are battles being waged for us, all around us, that we cannot see.  This is my very favorite aspect of Angel Eyes: that it reminds us that our world doesn’t stop with what we can see; it only begins there.  


I cannot wait for the next installment in this series.  Angels, demons, secrets, mysteries, faith, relics, romance, real life?  Yes, please.


I received a free copy of Angel Eyes in exchange for an honest review.


You can read other reviews on this bloggy tour here.

 
Shannon is a wife and mother. A sister. A daughter. A friend. She was raised in Northern California by her parents-pastors of their local church and constant figures of inspiration.

As a youth, Shannon traveled with an award-winning performing arts team, excelling on stage and in the classroom. As a young adult, she attended Portland Bible College, continued acting, and worked with an outreach team targeting inner-city kids in the Portland-Metropolitan area.

It was in Portland that she met her husband, Matt. They were married in 2002. Soon after, they took the reins of the youth ministry at Living Way Community Church in Roseville, California where they continue to serve in that capacity. In October of 2004, their son Justus was born, followed by their daughter Jazlyn, born in 2008. 

 

Find out more at www.shannondittemore.com.