“Hide and Seek” by Maj (Ret) Jeff Struecker & Alton Gansky

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Krygystan: Foreign Affairs’ Officer Amelia Lennon is trying to negotiate the continued leasing of an airport by the US government in this country.  The president’s daughter is against the idea – and is the target of kidnappers immediately after a meeting where she makes this clear.  Lennon steps in to save her, but the women must go on the run as rebels take over the capital city’s streets.  Master Sergeant JJ Bartley is sent in as a Special Operations team leader to save the women – unofficially, as no US troops are allowed to leave the base, and under cover of darkness, lest they be spotted and captured themselves.  Can the Spec Ops team – with two new, untried members – save two women on the run, without the help or support of their own government?
 
Struecker and Gansky couldn’t pack any more action into this novel. Not a page is turned without something being shot, smashed, blown up, or, at the very least, followed.  For a civilian, Gansky has an incredibly grasp on military life and is able to pour drama and emotion into every action – both for those in the field and for those waiting for them at home.  The story feels incredibly real as you read it – as if you’re right there, seeing the fighting on the streets and seeing the terror in the faces of the Krygystani civilians who are just trying to get home safely.
 
I know virtually nothing about military life – but I feel as if I do now.  I have a greater respect for those serving and even more so for their families.  Hide and Seek is educational without being obvious and, lucky for me, Gansky is able to teach the military terms and phrases without leaving me in the dirt or making me feel stupid.  Both are frustrating, but the story is so well written I felt neither.
 
I love when I can read a book and hand it to my husband, and that’s just what I did with this one.  The relationships between the men and their wives soften the harsh edges just a bit, but the story is really all about the men on this mission and the decisions they must make to succeed.  I couldn’t put it down, and I’ve never seen my husband fly through a book as fast as he did with this one.
 
If action stories are your favorites on any level, be sure to check this one out.
 
I received a free copy of Hide and Seek from the B&B Media Group in exchange for an honest review.
 
 
Alton Gansky is a Christy Award-nominated and Angel Award-winning author who writes to stimulate thinking about spiritual matters. He served as a pulpit minister for twenty years and has published nearly thirty books.
 
Chaplain (Major, Ret) Jeff Struecker is a decorated member of US Army Rangers, the Army’s most elite fighting corps. His personal experiences in Mogadishu, Somalia were documented in the New York Times bestseller and major motion picture Black Hawk Down. During his thirteen years of active duty, he also fought in Operation Just Cause in Panama and Operation Iris Gold in Kuwait. As a chaplain Jeff has done multiple tours in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Now retired from military service, Struecker currently serves as the associate pastor of ministry development at Calvary Baptist Church in Columbus, Georgia.

“Here Burns My Candle” by Liz Curtis Higgs

Lady Elisabeth Kerr has a secret – a secret practice that could get her ostracized by the entire capital city of Edinburgh.  Her husband, Lord Donald, has a few secrets of his own, secrets that do not endear him to rest of titled society.  Lord Donald’s mother, Lady Marjory, is not fond of her Highlander daughter-in-law and struggles to protect the reputations of everyone living under her roof.  When the Jacobite rebellion brings thousands of Highlanders to their doorsteps and the Kerr family loyalty to the throne is questioned, will their secrets be exposed?  Will their relationships survive the war – and it’s messy aftermath?

Here Burns My Candle will immerse the reader fully in the culture of Scotland in 1745.  The attention to historical detail is amazing, making this book far superior to your average historical novel.  Higgs weaves real characters and events into her plot in such a way that without doing a bit of your own research, the reader can’t tell the history from the fiction.

A fictionalized version of Naomi and Ruth, Here Burns My Candle challenges the reader to rethink previously held views of these Biblical characters.  This story continues in the recently released Mine is the Night.  Forgiveness and faithfulness are both important themes in the book, asking the important questions, “To whom am I faithful?  Do I forgive readily?”

Here Burns My Candle is a wonderful story of changing relationships and the focus on what is truly important.  I will definitely be reading more of Liz Curtis Higgs’ work.  If history makes your heart race, don’t miss this series.

I received a free copy of this book from the Blogging for Books program.

“The Heiress of Winterwood” by Sarah E. Ladd

Amelia Barrett gave her word. Keeping it could cost her everything.
Amelia Barrett, heiress to an estate nestled in the English moors, defies family expectations and promises to raise her dying friend’s baby. She’ll risk everything to keep her word-even to the point of proposing to the child’s father-a sea captain she’s never met.
When the child vanishes with little more than an ominous ransom note hinting at her whereabouts, Amelia and Graham are driven to test the boundaries of their love for this little one.
Amelia’s detailed plans would normally see her through any trial, but now, desperate and shaken, she’s forced to examine her soul and face her one weakness: pride.
Graham’s strength and self-control have served him well and earned him much respect, but chasing perfection has kept him a prisoner of his own discipline. And away from the family he has sworn to love and protect.
Both must learn to have faith and relinquish control so they can embrace the future ahead of them. 
 
At the beginning this book reminded me of one I read from this era when in high school:  a book in which a simpering female desperately wanted to catch a man.  I soon decided that the only thing these two books shared was the time period!  The Heiress of Winterwood is much, much better, and Amelia Barrett is no greedy, conniving husband hunter.  Willing to put her life, her own future, and her fortune at someone else’s mercy to keep the child she loves nearby, she epitomizes a strong and loving character.  
 
Graham’s no slouch, either.  With demons in his past and an uncertain future, he needn’t bother with acquiring a wife, running an estate, or dealing with a crazed ex-fiance, but he takes it all on willingly to provide the best future possible for his daughter – whom he has just met.  Graham puts aside his own feelings and makes the best choices that he can for those around him.  He makes a fabulous male lead as he is a great leader.
 
I couldn’t put this book down.  It’s a great love story with a bit of adventure and suspense thrown in for good measure, all swirled around with wise faith lessons.  Relationships are key in this book – those between husband and wife, parent and child, neighbor to neighbor, friend to friend, mentor to mentee, even master and servant.  Ladd writes each one with wisdom and drama by turn so that each interaction provides action to the plot.  While in some books this type of ‘action’ makes for a dull read, in The Heiress of Winterwood it is these very relationships that provide both the action, the suspense, the drama, and the lessons learned.
 
This is definitely a top book of 2013 so far.
 
To read more reviews in this blog hop, click here, or purchase your own copy here.
 
 
 
Sarah E. Ladd has more than ten years of marketing experience. She is a graduate of Ball State University and holds degrees in public relations and marketing. Heiress ofWinterwood was the recipient of the 2011 Genesis Award for historical romance. Sarah lives in Indiana with her amazing husband, sweet daughter, and spunky Golden Retriever.
Find out more about Sarah at http://www.sarahladd.com.
 
I received a free copy of The Heiress of Winterwood from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

“Heart of the Country” by Rene Gutteridge and John Ward

One would think that Luke Carraway had it all.  Born into an uber-wealthy New York family, he was denied nothing.  A deep restlessness kept him discontent, however, and after marrying Faith, he left the family business and struck out on his own.  When his new dealings go sour, however, his marriage fractures along with every other aspect of his life.
 
When Faith leaves New York, she heads home to North Carolina, unsure of how to handle this next stage in her life.  What she finds there shocks her, however:  an angry sister, a sick father, and the ever-present memories of her mother, who died tragically.  With both families in turmoil and their marriage on hold, can Luke and Faith find their way back to each other?
 
Heart of the Country is a twist on the story of the Prodigal Son.  With Luke and Faith fiercely in love but with a both of them having a history of running from their troubles, how can their marriage survive?  It is hard to forgive others for hurting us but even harder to recognize the pain that our actions cause others, and yet in this story that’s what Luke and Faith are both asked to do.  
 
Told in first person from several different characters, this is not a fluffy beach read but a snowed-in by the fireplace tearjerker.   Once begun, you won’t want to stop – the Carraway story is completely compelling, though I must admit to being more attached to Faith than to Luke.  
 
The history of this novel is an interesting one – John Ward originally wrote it as a screenplay, and Rene Gutteridge wrote that as this novel.  Rarely am I interested in seeing a movie after reading the book, but this will be an exception.  I can’t wait to see how all of this emotion is symbolized on-screen.
 
Heart of the Country is available now as an e-book.  If you purchase it for $2.99 by March 15th, you will receive a code to enter the “Star for a Day” Contest. The grand prize winner and a guest will be flown to the set of the Heart of the Country film, stay in the cast hotel, and get the full movie-set experience with all the other cast members. They will have a star trailer, go through wardrobe, makeup, and hair, and have a speaking part in a scene of the movie Heart of the Country!   Read more about the contest here.
 
If you’re interested in seeing the other viewpoint in things, in forgiveness and redemption, in becoming a man and staying faithful to the one you have, in horses and love songs and glittery views, don’t miss this book.  
 
I received a free e-copy of Heart of the Country in exchange for an honest review.

“Heart of Ice” by Lis Wiehl with April Henry

  

The Triple Threat Club is once again put to the test as they attempt so solve seemingly random crimes crimes across their home city of Portland.  Federal Prosecutor Allison Pierce works to solve the murder of a local news intern, while FBI agent Nicole Hedges works to prove that murder suspect Colton Foley was indeed responsible for the deaths of women around the city.  News reporter Cassidy Shaw seeks to boost ratings and secure her position by being the first to scoop the other anchors – and by following the life advice of her captivating new friend, Elizabeth Avery.  With murder, arson, and drownings making the headlines, can the trio put aside their own health issues and relationships in time to find the killer – before one of them becomes the next victim?

I was worried about reading this book before the others in the series, but Wiehl does a fantastic job of catching the reader up at the beginning.  While I knew I was missing backstory, the author rapidly and smoothly fills you in on the highlights and keeps the plot moving right along – and it does move!  This story is a terrific blend of murder mystery and everyday life – which makes it seem very real.  From health scares to family problems and weight gain, Wiehl puts the reader in the middle of a believable and fast-paced tale.

As soon as I finished this book, I went in search of the first two – and you will, also.  This page-turner is not to be missed!

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

“A Heartbeat Away” by S. Dionne Moore


When a band of runaway slaves brings Union-loyal Beth Bumgartner a wounded Confederate soldier named Joe, it is the catalyst that pushes her to defy her pacifist parents and become a nurse during the Battle of Antietam.

Her mother’s mysterious goodbye gift is filled with quilt blocks that bring comfort to Beth during the hard days and lonely nights, but as she sews each block, she realizes there is a hidden message of faith within the pattern that encourages and sustains her. Reunited with Joe, Beth learns his secret and puts the quilt’s message to its greatest test—but can betrayal be forgiven?


A Heartbeat Away is an intense look at the emotions of the Civil War from an angle rarely considered: those caught up in the blood of battle as civilians who want to help the wounded.  Never have I read a fictional account that dwelt on the hope that comes from the ashes of war like this one does.  The semi-graphic accounts will make your heart dip into your stomach just as your fingers grasp the straws of hope that Joe points out to Beth.

Beth learns amazing spiritual truths from her grandmother as she’s faced with the carnage of war and witnesses violence all around her.  Several of these lessons cut deep and are readily applicable to us, too, as we live and learn to trust and forgive just as Beth does.

This book isn’t going on my bookshelf of other historical fiction novels; instead, it’s getting a special place among my Civil War books.  I really enjoyed this fresh perspective and the way that Moore makes this era not just about love or slavery or North-vs-South but about people … people who are hurting and afraid, people who love, people with disabilities and families and have dreams for their futures.  When my children are old enough to study all of these aspects of this war, they’ll read this book.

To read other reviews in this bloggy hop, click here.  If you’d rather dig into this book sooner rather than later, click here to purchase your own copy.

 
Dionne Moore is a historical romance author who resides in South Central PA with her family, surrounded by the beautiful Cumberland Valley and lots of fun, historically rich locations. She is a weekly contributor to “The Borrowed Book”, a blog for book-lovers and “Cozy Mystery Magazine”, for all things cozy mystery. 

Learn more about Dionne at http://www.sdionnemoore.com.
 
I received a free copy of A Heartbeat Away from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

“Full Disclosure” by Dee Henderson

Full Disclosure

Ann Silver walks into Special Agent Paul Falcon’s office and hands him a lead on a long-cold murder investigation.  When the lead promises more information than Falcon’s caught in years, Silver catches Falcon’s attention – and suddenly she seems to be everywhere.  With friends in high places and myriads of talents, Falcon is interested in learning more about the mysterious and humble Silver.  People are not always what they seem, however; is Ann really what she appears to be?

Full Disclosure is a fantastic read!  Once I flipped past the title page, I could not put this book down.  Silver’s quiet and unassuming ways, contrasted with her intelligence and talents, made her a fascinating character.  Pit her up against Falcon’s intensity and research abilities, and you’ve got an exciting match – which is really only a small, though the most important, part of the cast.

One of the exciting things about this story is that it includes the O’Malley family as background characters.  With the O’Malleys providing support and information throughout the book, you not only keep up to date on this amazing family from a previous series, but the plot feels thicker and deeper.

Full Disclosure is both dramatic and exciting throughout its plot.  Henderson provides her signature blend of techno-political information steeped with emotional drama and interpersonal relationships.  I love the way that Henderson has filled this book with opposing forces; it will keep any reader on her mental toes.

Not that any reader of a Henderson book must be female.  My husband, who is not exactly a voracious reader, has read several of Henderson’s books before and enjoyed them, so when I mentioned that I had the newest on the shelf, he snagged it – and then we didn’t speak again for three days until he had finished it.  Any book that can hold my husband’s attention so thoroughly is both action-packed and well written.

You won’t want to be on a waiting list for Full Disclosure.  It releases in just a few weeks – so pre-order or request it now.  You won’t be sorry.

I received a free ARC copy of Full Disclosure from Dee Henderson in exchange for an honest review.

“Friend Me” by John Faubion

 

 When a lonely wife and her frustrated husband each secretly pursue companionship online, neither dreams that a real woman is behind their virtual creations, threatening their marriage—and their lives.

 
Scott and Rachel’s marriage is on the brink of disaster. Scott, a businessman with a high-pressure job, just wants Rachel to understand him and accept his flaws. Rachel is a lonely housewife, desperate for attention and friendship. So she decides to create a virtual friend online, unaware that Scott is doing the exact same thing. As Rachel desperately tries to re-create a friendship with a friend who has passed, Scott becomes unfaithful and is torn between the love for his wife and the perfection of his cyber-girlfriend. But neither realizes that there’s a much larger problem looming . . .
Behind both of their online creations is Melissa, a woman who is brilliant—and totally insane. Masquerading as both friend and lover, Melissa programmed a search parameter into the virtual friend software to find her perfect man, but along the way she forgot to specify his marriage status. And Scott is her ideal match. Now Melissa is determined to have it all—Scott, his family, and Rachel’s life.
As Melissa grows bolder and her online manipulations transition into the real world, Scott and Rachel figure out they are being played. Now it’s a race against time as Scott and Rachel fight to save their marriage, and their lives, before it’s too late.
In today’s digital age, the Internet presents all kinds of opportunities to test our personal boundaries, and this exciting and suspenseful story raises important questions about the ethics of virtual relationships. Friend Me will open your eyes to a new—and terrifying—moral dimensions and how they play out in the real world.
 
What would you do if your wife was being targeted for murder – so that someone could take her place in your life?  That’s one of the questions being asked in the debut novel Friend Me by John Faubion. 
 
Another pertinent question is Where are the lines of fidelity and faithlessness drawn?  And Is it possible to cheat with a virtual friend, one who exists only digitally?  If there’s no flesh-and-blood involved?
 
In our modern digital age, these are not only relevant but important.  With cyber-everything at an all-time high, it is more important than ever to be open and honest in all of our relationships.  Friend Me, while it does address emotional marital infidelity and alludes to pornographic issues, would be a great book to illustrate the dangers of being too open online.  From what to tell friends, the kinds of pictures and scheduling information you post, the reader can extrapolate all sorts of valuable lessons from this book.
 
With good reason.  Faubion has penned a stunning debut novel.  He’s pegged the lonely housewife square on the head, and I think he must have nailed the hardworking, executive husband type, too. With each spouse stressed and not sure how to connect with the other, it becomes all too easy to maximize ‘harmless’ online relationships.  The ease with which he paints this fall is scary, and the danger that Melissa’s stalking presents to this family is beyond words. ‘Creepy’ doesn’t begin to explain it – making it a realistic, suspenseful, scary read.
 
The only part of the story that I didn’t like was the speed with which Rachel forgave and trusted Scott again.  It felt a bit unrealistic to have the entire episode – with trust restored – over in a day.  Maybe that’s just me being cynical, for we’re certainly called to forgive – but I feel as if while the forgiveness and restoration is great, the deeper issues weren’t addressed.  Granted, they were busy running for their lives, but that will need to be worked out before their marriage can again be a solid one.
 
Friend Me is fabulous.  Read it because you love suspense stories. Read it because you love techno-thrillers.  Read it so you can discuss it with your spouse and your teen.
 
Whatever your reason, just read it.

“Forever Hilltop” by Judy Baer

 Alex Armstrong is a newcomer to Hilltop Township, and he just might be labeled that way for a few decades.  Rural North Dakota doesn’t get many people moving in, so it has a culture all of its own – as does each of the two churches Alex will be leading.  With disgruntled parishioners, warring congregations, and single women on the prowl, can Alex bring peace to Hilltop?


Baer’s characters are honest and real, people with real problems, but even the curmudgeons are presented as challenges, not impossibilities.  If only all of us viewed those around us this way!  This perspective on life and problems gives the series a sweetness that is rare.


I thoroughly enjoyed Baer’s writing style.  Smooth, funny, dramatic in all the right places, she makes me long for my own piece of Hilltop.


Judy Baer was born and grew up on a farm on the prairies of North Dakota, experiencing many of the same things as her Hilltop characters. An only child, she spent most of her days with imaginary people-either those she read about or those she made up in her head. 
 
Baer graduated from Concordia College with majors in English and education and a minor in religion. While at the time, she was simply studying what interested her, Baer later realized that she was educating herself for her future career as a Christian writer. She certainly put her education to use as she is the author of more than 75 books. 
 
A certified professional life coach now certified in three coaching disciplines, Baer coaches primarily professional and aspiring writers. She is also a faculty advisor in the Department of Human Development at St. Mary’s University in Minneapolis, MN. Baer has two daughters and three step children. She and her husband live in Minnesota. 
 
She invites you to visit her at her web site www.judykbaer.com for more information on her and her books. 




@JudyKBaer is giving away a Kindle for YOU … and one for a Friend in her Forever Hilltop Giveaway! Celebrate with Judy by entering to win a Kindle for you and a friend!

One lucky winner will receive:

  • Brand New KINDLE with Wi-Fi
  • Brand New KINDLE with Wi-Fi to Giveaway to a Friend!
  • Forever Hilltop by Judy K Baer for you and a one for a friend

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on May 22nd. Winner will be announced 5/24/12 on Judy’s Blog.

Enter via E-mail Enter via Facebook Enter via Twitter

Don’t miss a moment of the fun. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 21st!

To buy your own copy of Forever Hilltop, click here.  You can read other reviews on the blog tour here.

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

“Five Miles South of Peculiar” by Angela Hunt

Five Miles South of Peculiar Cover
 
Five Miles South of Peculiar is the story of the three Caldwell sisters and how they mature in their relationships with each other and with God.  Darlene is the happy homemaker type, a pillar in their small Southern town of Peculiar, and she rules the inherited family estate with an iron hand.  Her twin Carlene, a Broadway singer, decides to visit the family home after experiencing a personal tragedy and stirs up lots of past issues – especially jealousy from Darlene.  There’s also Nolie, who lives a simple life with her dogs and her flowers, sewing personalized aprons for everyone in town – but will she ever recover from being jilted at the altar and move on with her life?  Throw in a boyfriend/mayor, a jealous daughter, a fired hunk of a pastor-turned-handyman and 17 puppies, and you’ve got one creative story!
I really enjoyed this novel.  Hunt’s characters are quite creative, and their depth makes each story especially unique.  They’re easy to relate to – I could totally understand why Darlene would be upset when Carlene tries to move her furniture and why Nolie would choose to stay with her simplified lifestyle despite everyone’s urging to leave the nest.  They’re all fun and unique women with the same kind of crazy issues that the rest of us have, and that makes you want to run next door and invite them over for chocolate.  
Hunt wrote primarily about what was happening now to each woman, but she also explored how their past affected their ability to deal with their present and their futures.  This added depth to the story, but it also added a great deal of mystery as we didn’t learn about the special way that Darlene and Carlene’s pasts are entwined until near the very end.  While I thought I had a pretty good idea of what had happened, not knowing the details – or even if I was right – kept me guessing about how the women would handle this issue when it was revealed.
Romantic entanglements added fun drama to the story, as well.  While it was pretty obvious who would be paired off, this lighthearted element sweetened the mood of the drama and made for a very happy ending – and who doesn’t love that?  
All things considered, Five Miles South of Peculiar is definitely a cut above your dime-a-dozen romance novels.  Full of spiritual truths, the kinds of family spats we’ve all experienced, and summer romance, Hunt has penned a great read.
I received a free copy of Five Miles South of Peculiar from Glass Road in exchange for an honest review.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
With nearly 4 million copies of her books sold worldwide, Angela Hunt is the bestselling author of more than one hundred books, includingThe Tale of Three Trees,Don’t Bet Against MeThe Note, and The Nativity Story. Her nonfiction bookDon’t Bet Against Me, written with Deanna Favre, spent several weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. She and her husband make their home in Florida with their dogs. Learn more about Angela atAngelaElwellHunt.com.