Murder on the Moor by Julianna Deering: A Book Review

9780764218286The rolling, frigid mists that creep in over the Yorkshire Moors hide a mystery as challenging as Drew has ever faced

At the urgent request of an old school friend, Drew and Madeline Farthering come to Bloodworth Park Lodge in the midst of the Yorkshire moors, a place as moody and mysterious as a Brontë hero. There have been several worrisome incidents around those lonesome rolling hills–property desecrated, fires started, sheep and cattle scattered. Worst of all, the vicar has been found dead on the steps of the church, a crime for which Drew can discern no motive at all.

Few in the town of Bunting’s Nest seem like suspects, and Drew can’t keep his suspicions from falling on his friend’s new bride. Do her affections lie more with her husband’s money and estate, while her romantic interests stray to their fiery Welsh gamekeeper? As the danger grows ever closer, it’s up to Drew to look past his own prejudices, determine what’s really going on, and find the killer before it’s too late.

My Review: This is the 5th installment of the Drew Fathering Mystery series and I’ve loved them all. I find Drew and his wife Madeline so endearing, and I adore their friend Nick as well. Such a great combination of likable characters and intriguing story-lines.

I also love how the author subtly and beautifully weaves faith and God’s goodness and grace into her storytelling.

For some reason, it did take me a bit longer to really get into this one, but that could be due to my own distracting schedule at the moment. Once I became fully engrossed, I was hooked. I also love that the mystery kept me guessing until the end. Well done on that front!

A highly recommended series for those who enjoy a good and cozy mystery with very likable characters.

*I received a copy of this book free of charge from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Julianna Deering is the creator of the acclaimed Drew Farthering Mystery series. She has always loved British history and is a particular fan of the writings of Dorothy Sayers and Agatha Christie. She graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas with a degree in business administration and spent several years as a Certified Public Accountant. She lives outside Dallas, Texas. For more information visit http://www.juliannadeering.com.

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Unfolding by Jonathan Friesen: A Book Review

_140_245_book-2117-coverBook Description

Jonah wishes he could get the girl, but he’s an outcast and she’s the most perfect girl he knows. And their futures seemed destined to fork apart: Jonah’s physical condition is debilitating, and epileptic seizures fill his life with frustration. Whereas Stormi is seemingly carefree, and navigates life by sensing things before they happen. And her most recent premonition is urging her to leave town.

When Stormi begs Jonah for help, he finds himself swept into a dark mystery his small town has been keeping for years. And the answers Stormi needs about her own past could possibly destroy everything Jonah has ever known—including his growing relationship with Stormi herself.

My Review: This book has a lot going for it. A unique story, interesting and likable characters and lots of intrigue. I felt that it grabbed my interest right from the start, but I did feel like it became somewhat drawn out and slow as it progressed. I really enjoyed Jonah’s character and watching his relationships with the other characters unfold.

I liked the story line and I feel like it had real potential, but I think that it wasn’t developed quite enough. I was left feeling like something was missing.

This wasn’t a very long book, and I think it could have been made longer, but with a more steady pace that kept the reader interested. All in all, a decent read, but not anything that will stick with me past the final page.

*I received a copy of this book free of charge from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

The Travelers by Chris Pavone: A Book Review

December Reading Round-Up & Year-End Recap!

It’s a new year, and here I am still winding down last year! I’m going to do my December Round-Up, followed by a quick re-cap for the year. I honestly don’t know if I’m going to continue doing my reading round-ups. Sometimes it feels like a unnecessary pressure and deadline, and I’m trying to learn to not put added pressure on myself.

That being said, I always like to finish what I start, so here goes!

I only read 5 books in December, but that was all I needed to complete my yearly goal! I made it to 75 by the skin of my teeth, but I’m proud to have accomplished that! December is such a busy month and this year in-particular, the holidays seemed extra busy and stressful.

Below you will find the 5 books I read in December:

As you can see, these were all Christmas related books. I think my favorite was the last I read, and it was also after Christmas. A Cliche Christmas I grabbed at the library, just to finish my quota. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I also enjoyed The Mistletoe Inn a lot. The others were okay as well, but The Fruitcake Murders was the most disappointing read for me. I also noticed a lot of typos in it, so that bothered me.

And, I just realized looking through my list that I failed to complete my Monthly Reading Challenge!  I think I just took for granted that one of my chosen reads was a book published in 2016, and I just realized that I was mistaken! So…I went through an entire year of completing challenges, only to fail at the end? Wow. That makes me feel really bad. But…as it seems to be every year, one of my goals is to realize that I’m not perfect and to accept my flaws, mistakes and failings. So, here you go. Practice for that!

I did make my goal of 75 books and I don’t think that’s anything to downplay. I am proud of that, but I just hate failing!

Anyway…I’m going to cheat a bit on my 2016 recap. Since Goodreads does such a good job of it, I’m going to let them tell you about my year! I did have to screenshot all of these and send them to myself, which in retrospect might have been harder than trying to summarize it myself. Oh well!

I realize I could have cropped those images better, for that I apologize! To anyone who has followed my reading journey this year, thank you! I remain undecided as to how I will document my reading for 2017, but my reading goal remains the same: 75 books. Beyond that, I’m not sure that I will participate in any challenges.

Happy New Year, my bookish friends!!

*Also, I may be back soon with a non-book related post. I’m feeling a deep, profound life goals post coming on…but we’ll see!

November Reading Round-Up!

Is today the fifth? Oops! I’m going to blame the holiday hustle and bustle for my tardiness on this post!

Speaking of hustling and bustling….that’s what I’ve been doing in my reading! I was seriously behind on my goal as of the end of last month and I knew I really had to step it up a notch.

Fortunately, it’s the Christmas season and that means Christmas books! I love Christmas books and they are usually relatively short, so I was able to read a good handful of books this month, which not only helped me to get closer to my goal, but it gave me a head start on holiday cheer!

So, let’s do this. Here is are the books I have read this month:

So, yes I read 13 books this month! I’m pretty sure that’s a record! Now, granted 10 of them were Christmas books, and thus a bit shorter, but still…win!

The book I read for my Monthly Reading Challenge was To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. The challenge was to read a Pulitzer Prize winning book. It’s a classic that I’ve always meant to read, and this was a good opportunity. I enjoyed it, but I didn’t love it like I’d hoped. The other non-Christmas books I read this month were Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (I just love her writing!) and Two Little Girls in Blue by Mary Higgins Clark. Both of these were very good, and among my favorites now by their respective authors.

And now for the Christmas books! I read 5 by Melody Carlson! She’s quite the Christmas author! Haha! I always struggle to find stand-alone Christmas books, and she writes a lot and I’m thankful for that. I refuse to enter a series just to read the Christmas themed book. My favorite of her five was Your Heart’s Desire. There was just something about it that I loved. Second place goes to A Simple Christmas Wish. And, believe it or not, there were two that I found kind of disappointing. The Christmas Angel Project and The Christmas Shoppe, they just didn’t appeal to me as much as I’d hoped.

Of the other five, favorite goes to The Lopsided Christmas Cake. (and three cheers to Wanda Brunstetter for including recipes in the back of her books!) Least favorite would have to be The Mistletoe Murders. I’ve never read P.D. James, that I recall, but I wasn’t too impressed with this collection of shorts.

Anyway…I have ONLY 5 books to go to meet my goal for the year! Yay! I”m going to continue reading Christmas book in December because Tis the Season!

As a side note, I also realize that I have no review books to report. Nothing jumped out at me to review, and so I focused elsewhere. I do have a bible review coming momentarily though!

Merry December all!!

October Reading Round-Up!

I can hardly believe it’s the end of October/beginning of November already! Where has this year gone?

I have had a really good month of reading. I feel as though I read a good amount, but more importantly, I had some really enjoyable reading moments this month! And, isn’t enjoyment and satisfaction in reading the ultimate goal? For me it is.

I am quite excited to announce that I completed 8 books in October! I do believe that’s a record for this year, and it also gives me hope for November and December. As the year draws to a close, I am more aware than ever of my yearly goal and just how far away from it I still am! I currently need to read 18 more books to reach my goal of 75 for the year. That works out to 9 in November and 9 in December. I can do that, right? RIGHT?

Only one book in my October pile was a review book, and that was Newton & Polly: A Novel of Amazing Grace by Jody Hedlund. (Read my review HERE) Two of my selections for this month were works of non-fiction. Those being Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works by Evelyn Tribole and The Power of the Other by Henry Cloud. These two books were completely different subjects, but both were of current interest to me. Perhaps sometime when I’m not busy reading or documenting what I’ve read, I will blog on these subjects. It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about specific topics of interest. I often miss that.

One book I read this month was A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. This one was suggested to me by several sources and I could not ignore the praises I heard regarding it. I can’t say I loved it as much as some others did, but I rather enjoyed it and found it to be refreshingly different, which I always admire. My favorite thing about this book was the theme that family is truly who you choose.

Two others I read this month were on my list because I had heard about them somewhere. These two books: Only Daughter by Anna Snoekstra and The Woman in Cabin Ten by Ruth Ware were really, really good. They were the kind of gripping, page-turning, suspenseful novels that truly capture the heart of why I love reading.

The book I chose for my Monthly Reading Challenge was The Gilded Cage by Lucinda Gray. I remember browsing the shelves at the library, in search of something that might be interesting, when I was caught by the cover of this book. Conveniently, the challenge for October was to read a book chosen based on it’s cover. Check and check. This one started off unsure for me, but ended up being a very solid mystery, worthy of it’s cover.

My last selection for this month was Unashamed: Rahab by Francine Rivers. This was a book that has been on my shelf and is the second in a series of biblical fiction. I read the first installment a few months ago, and because I had about a day left in the month, and this was a short read, I found it an opportune time to continue the series. As usual, I found this work of biblical fiction to be insighful, bringing more to life, women who I’ve read about many times. It’s always nice to glean a better, more in depth understanding of what some of these biblical women may have been like.

So, 2 months left in 2016, 18 books left in my pile…I can manage that, right? All while fulfilling the hustle and bustle of the season? Absolutely!

Here we go!

Newton & Polly A Novel of Amazing Grace by Jody Hedlund: A Book Review

9781601427649About Newton and Polly

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found…Now remembered as the author of the world’s most famous hymn, in the mid-eighteenth century as England and France stand on the brink of war, John Newton is a young sailor wandering aimlessly through life. His only duty is to report to his ship and avoid disgracing his father—until the night he hears Polly Catlett’s enchanting voice, caroling. He’s immediately smitten and determined to win her affection.An intense connection quickly forms between the two, but John’s reckless spirit and disregard for the Christian life are concerns for the responsible, devout Polly. When an ill-fated stop at a tavern leaves John imprisoned and bound, Polly must choose to either stand by his side or walk out of his life forever. Will she forfeit her future for the man she loves?

Step back through the pages of history, to uncover the true love story behind a song that continues to stir the hearts and ignite the faith of millions around the globe.

My Review: Amazing Grace…what a beautiful song that stirs the soul. Every time I sing it, I am humbled by God’s mercy and forgiveness, and every time I hear it, I’ve wondered at the life of it’s author. From the moment I saw this novel, I knew I wanted to read it and learn more about the man who penned this incredible hymn.

Admittedly, it took me a few pages before I became invested in the story and the characters, but before I knew it, I was hooked. I found myself mesmerized by Newton and Polly and their story. This book was beautifully written and deeply engrossing. The characters felt very real to me, perhaps more so because I knew they were based on real people, but regardless, the author brought them to life in these pages.

So many times throughout this book, Newton frustrated me and I wanted to dislike him, but yet, I could not. I absolutely adored Polly and I loved her mother and father as well. I really feel like the author captured the emotions of the characters, not only Newton and Polly in their relationship, but in the relationships between them and their parents as well.

This book was such an incredible journey and a pleasure to read. It was emotionally charged, oft heart-wrenching and deeply moving. I loved reading the redemption of Newton, as he finally realizes God’s amazing grace in his life.

Excellent book. Highly recommended.

* I received a copy of this book free of charge from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

About Jody Hedlund
Jody Hedlund is a CBA best-selling and award-winning author of fourteen books. Among a variety of genres, she especially loves bringing long-forgotten women of history to life. She is the author of Luther and Katharina, which was awarded the ECPA Book of the Year Award in Fiction. Her other novels have won the Carol Award, the INSPY Award, and the Christy Award. She resides in Midland, Michigan, with her husband and five busy children.