The Most Famous Illegal Goose Creek Parade by Virginia Smith


I live in a small town. I know these characters! But... You don't have to live in a small town to enjoy this story. However, having visited a small town or at least having watched the Andy Griffith show will heighten your enjoyment just because you'll pick up on all the nuances.

I loved this book. The characters are wonderful. This is the kind of story that makes reading such a joy, and makes you want to leave everything else undone so you can fly away to Goose Creek! I'm still chuckling just thinking about it ... a true, sparkling jewel!

Millie has has decided that Al will need something to do when he retires. She's been married to him for ever so long and knows better that he what is good for him. I have watched many men retire thinking they will finally have time to do all those round-to-its, but only to find out there was way to much time in the day. Depression sets in, and that can lead to all sorts of problems. Anyone thinking to retire should take note... God did not call Abraham until he was 75!!

There's no preaching or even a lot of on-your-sleeve faith in the book. Yet, the wisdom shines, the patience glows, and dealing with frustration helps our souls to stretch especially when our lungs are exercised with a few belly laughs. Reading this book is good exercise.

Make sure you put this book on your reading list. Buy one for your mother, too! Make sure you put one in your church library, too! 

Five of five stars


In this first book of the Tales from the Goose Creek B&B, you’ll fall in love with a small town that feels like coming home. Its quirky characters and their many shenanigans will make you laugh out loud as they touch a place in your heart.
Even though retirement is still three years away, Al Richardson is counting the days. He anticipates many enjoyable years in which every day feels like Saturday. But Al’s wife, Millie, has different plans for their retirement. When she learns that a Victorian-era home is up for sale, Millie launches a full-blown campaign to convince Al that God’s plan for them is to turn that house into a B&B.

But a B&B won’t be the only change for the small Kentucky town. A new veterinarian has hung up her shingle, but she’s only got one patient—the smelly dog belonging to her part-time receptionist. And sides are being taken in the issue of the water tower, which needs a new coat of paint…but no one can agree who should paint it.
The situation is coming to a head. Who could have imagined a town protest over a water tower? And who would believe it could culminate in an illegal parade?

Get lost in a novel that reminds you why you love reading.

Chilvalrous by Dina Sleiman



I enjoyed this sequel much more than I did the first one. The first one was too much "the end justifies the means" and way too much adult motivations and actions from children, so it didn't come across as real.

This book is much better done, more believable. However, there is still very much of a fantasy about it. Except for Joan of Arc, history never records a woman being all about fighting. So Gwendolyn is in a class all by herself. However, the writing is so good you never really notice it.

Character development is very well done. Sleiman has two points of view, and they are so smoothly done the story flow is very good. Page-turning action along with heart-rending emotional challenges of the Middle Ages makes this a wonderful keeper.

I liked the way Sleiman weaves faith into the story line. I especially like how the characters grow and mature as the story unfolds. Most authors these days think that a series of happenings is enough, but to weave happenings with faith and character development is a talent that Dina Sleiman exhibits beautifully in this novel. 

Four of five stars!



With Her Future In Jeopardy, This Unforgettable Heroine Won't Go Down
Without a Fight!

Strong and adventurous Gwendolyn Barnes longs to be a knight like her chivalrous brothers, but her parents view her only as a marriage pawn. When her domineering father makes plans to see her wed to a brutish man, Gwendolyn must fight for her future.

She's surprised, however, for that clash to include a handsome, good-hearted newcomer. Allen of Ellsworth arrives in Edendale searching for his place in the world, but he finds in Gwendolyn the most unexpected of women.

Tournaments, intrigue, and battles--along with twists and turns aplenty--await these two as they struggle to find love, identity, and their true destinies.

Advance Praise

Praise for Valiant Hearts series!"Sleiman launches an action-packed, historical series of adventure and romance, starring a strong, intelligent female Robin Hood who lives up to the famous outlaw's reputation. This fun read makes a great adult-YA crossover for Robin Hood fans who enjoy a twist to a classic tale."
--Library Journal starred review of Dauntless

Review: Bathsheba: Reluctant Beauty

Bathsheba: Reluctant Beauty Bathsheba: Reluctant Beauty by Angela Elwell Hunt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I adore Angela Hunt's novels. The way she writes puts in right inside the life of her characters. Sometimes, I've even found myself praying for one of her characters...

But this book, not so much.

I guess in well-known Bible stories I have already built a "vision" of what went on so being faced with something different is a bit shocking.

However, the book is extremely well written. The characters come to life right out of Biblical pages. Hunt has done a superb job in research, and you can almost taste the dust raised by the feet of the people in this novel.

I do recommend it, especially for anyone who would like to better understand the society and times of David's day.

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The Lion and the Rose by Ricardo Bruni



I love stories set in times gone by. It doesn't matter what age, either. 

This one is set in the 1500s, and was originally written in Italian. Add to it that its a murder mystery, and how good can it get?

 Well... as it turns out the book is just a little bit on the tedious side. Character development is not as good as it should be, the mystery/tension is basically put on the back burner while the reader tries to understand the motivations of a monk called to Venice to solve the mystery. 

Instead of one mystery, you've got three to unravel, and because of that, none of them are done well.

I think the potential for a great book is here especially with all the ingredients, but the editing was not good so the story fell flat. Terror hovers just beyond reach, and with the number of characters the reader must keep up with make the book rates just 2 stars.



Translated by Aaron Maines
In sixteenth-century Venice three bodies surface in the dark waters of the Canal Grande. Entrenched in a terrible war with the Turks and caught in a political struggle between power-hungry Pope Alexander VI and the newly elected Doge Loredan, the people of Venice fear that a demon has come to exact divine punishment for their sins.
Doge Loredan is determined to find the real culprit before the Pope can turn the people against him. To do so, he hires unorthodox German monk Mathias to investigate the murders. Soon Lorenzo Scarpa, a young printer and nephew to one of the victims, joins in the search. The mystery leads them into Venice’s underground printing industry, where they learn of a dangerous book hidden somewhere in the city, a book whose secrets could determine the destiny of the Republic—a book that others are more than willing to kill for.


Review: Broken Windows

Broken Windows Broken Windows by Deb Brammer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is definitely a good teen read. The characters struggle with real-life challenges. That is good. While some answers naturally appear, others hover just out of grasp, and that is very much like real-life.

I liked the way these young Christian adults wrestled with faith challenges and questions. I liked the way they finally understood that Christians are family. Character development was good. Some were strong, others became stronger, but the main characters were developed well. The children were so much like today's kids that have never lived in Christian homes. I could feel their pain.

The dialogue is teenage level. It isn't snappy, or all that real-feeling. Brammer should focus on honing the dialogue in her next work.

Plot is good, but takes a little while to get moving. The head jumping is a bit jolting as the reader is jerked from one character to another without a well-plotted transition. Although, I have to qualify my remarks with the fact that I really hate head jumping. The mystery is actually a subplot. The book is not a mystery, but more of a Christian life study. It does not come across as preachy, which is well done. The situations and actions may be a bit heavy-handed, but that is so that the reader can easily see the problems and where the character should grow. That is also well done.

I liked the book. If the dialogue were better I would give it 4 stars, as it is, I give it 3 stars.

I am grateful to Deb for being in the Christian Books Only group and allowing me to read her book for my honest review.

Engraved in His palm,

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Review: Nirvana

Nirvana Nirvana by J. R. Stewart
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

(Advance copy via NetGalley... pub date Nov. 10. 2015.)

I do love science fiction and this promised to be good. Well, it has a great deal of potential to be really good, but the actual delivery is not quite there, yet.

This story is not very well organized. I was being jerked hither and yon, and I was constantly trying to figure out what was going on. I have a vivid imagination, and can keep up with a fast paced novel, but this was too disjointed and jumped between characters without any transitions so readers are left wondering where they are in the story.

The character development was great at first, then dwindles into two-dimensional versions that are moved about like chess pawns rather than driving the story themselves. I think it is supposed to be a series of scenes that tell the story, but it doesn't quite mesh correctly so it reads like grinding gears. The journal entries read better...

If this story had some really good editing, it would be excellent. Without the editing, it falls flat and does not fulfill all the description promises. It isn't typos, it is story flow that has a major problem.

I realize this story may have great impact on something that is very close to reality... virtual reality. It is scary what is being done and is being considered. This story shines a bright light into this rather dark industry. Kudos to the author for that!

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Review: The Arrival

The Arrival The Arrival by J.W. Brazier
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I really tried to get into this book. I thought the premise was very intriguing, yet the delivery fell a bit flat.

The story line just could not overcome the shortcomings. For one thing, the thought that the most evil character to ever come into this world could be genetically engineered is not biblical. When I realized that this is where the author was going, I couldn't finish it. The story was no longer plausible. Advice to that author -- either stay in the Christian genre by being more biblically plausible or shift over to true horror and gallop down that path. Don't try to mix the two.

Science definitely has its place, and can certainly be used for evil purposes. (More people in America have been murdered through abortion than what Stalin and Hitler did combined.) Science also has a definite place in the Bible...

This is not a very well organized story. Some thing happen that are actually in the back story and just take up space without moving the story along. The dialogue is strained and forced at times. Head hopping happens seemingly randomly; there are no transitions. Therefore the reader is jerked about willy-nilly.

I do not recommend this book.

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Review: The Cactus Creek Challenge

The Cactus Creek Challenge The Cactus Creek Challenge by Erica Vetsch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a fun book!

I loved the characters. Vetsch developed all with such fine skill and a delicate refining brush. Well done. No head jumping without skilled transitions. The story may be a tad improbable, but it is crafted in such a believable way.

I highly recommend this book! It is a keeper, and you'll probably want to read it again in a year or two. It is well worth your money!

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Review: The Lost Heiress

The Lost Heiress The Lost Heiress by Roseanna M. White
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is quite an interesting novel, not the usual fare. It has a faint flavor of Gothic romance where the villain is most wicked and vile, and the hero and heroine are good and kind with imperfections. They are very believable characters, which makes this an excellent read.

The story line is very good. Beginning in Monaco and moving to early Edwardian England's high society with Earls and Dukes and Baronesses. These are treated accurately. Justin discovers who Brook's father is, and is delighted she is a baroness so he can marry her.

But life is full of wickedness and greed. There is one who is counting on wealth, but the sudden appearance of Brook changes the direction of this pursuit of wealth. It is a lively story, but there is a hint early in the story that not even Sherlock Holmes would be able to catch. From an editor's point of view, this hint should have been developed earlier rather than waiting until the middle of the book to find out what the wicked person is trying to steal. That part was rather annoying.

I quite admire her development of the wicked Pratt. White drew this character exquisitely so that any mention of his name made hairs stand up on my neck.

There are some historical flaws, though, in the book. The era is 1910's England and Monaco. Society had not quite shaken off the Victorian era, and hemlines had not risen above the ankles. British society was still gridlocked in societal norms such as straight backs, no slumping, no outward displays of emotions such as man-hugs or tight pants for women lest the person(s) be ostracized. Rigid etiquette was absolute.

The friendliness displayed between the servants and their employers is depicted with a bit of a heavy hand. Again, with so much attention to getting the details correct, this slight variation stands out starkly. Kindnesses shown to servants were not uncommon, but a Lady would not drive her servant to a train station. Perhaps after the War, but certainly not before.

To be fair, White did have someone read the novel to catch and delete any Americanisms. Unfortunately, her penchant for nicknames detracts from this elegant story. Nick names were not something the Brits were prone to bestow in Edwardian Great Britain. Last names were used between the men. No one ever addressed a person by their given name except in private. It was always My Lady, or My Lord, Lord So-n-So, and so forth. The use of nick names in this book is jolting. Especially the shortening of names was a faux pas in the extreme. Whitby would never have been shortened to Whit. In extreme emotional situations, a man might address a nobility equal with his last name, but never a shortened version. Etiquette was so stringent you could smell the vinegar in it.

The fact that a book follows so closely the etiquette, dress, and addresses of the day, but allow some of these errors makes the errors stand out all the more.

I particularly love the way White braids faith into the story. Each character has a different expression of faith, and it makes the story and characters all the more real.

Another good character development is that White highlights the Earl's emotional constraints with his daughter, Brook. It is so delicious when he finally gives her a fatherly hug. There are many other jewels in this novel that not only move the story along, but draw the tension so tight one could walk upon it. Story telling done very, very well.

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Review: The Bible Teacher's Guide: Theology Proper: Knowing God the Father

The Bible Teacher's Guide: Theology Proper: Knowing God the Father The Bible Teacher's Guide: Theology Proper: Knowing God the Father by Gregory Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Gregory Brown has written a beautiful study on knowing God the Father. It is full of wonderful insights that are like sparkling jewels. The study is very well written, biblically grounded, and easy to absorb because it is very well organized.

He talks about knowing your self-value: "I have value because in some way or another, even though I sin, I bear the image of God. Having God as my maker and having been created in His likeness, give me innate value."

Too often we focus on how unworthy we sinners are. But when we study the big picture, we can see how valuable God created us.

When Brown talks about the first benefit of knowing God the Father, he says, "Life can never be what it was meant to be apart from the knowledge of God."

The study is packed with these kinds of jewels of wisdom. It is so true that people often think of prayer as pleading for good things. Brown points out this is very far from the truth, and that God pours out His blessings all over His children.

Brown also explores the other side of the coin in the chapter "God is Wrathful." He draws from Paul's letter to the Romans in the first chapter. Every day God hands people over to the sin that they pursue, and he allows them to reap the consequences.

The author tackles one of the hardest things to understand: The Trinity. I don't think I would have the courage to write about this. He discusses how God is truly one God, but in three persons.

These key factors for knowing God the Father are presented with plenty of biblical back-up. I highly recommend this study for groups and individuals, for youth to the older/mature Christians.

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Review: My Restoration Journey: The True Story of Erica Kramer

My Restoration Journey: The True Story of Erica Kramer My Restoration Journey: The True Story of Erica Kramer by Erica Kramer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an amazing journey to redemption of not only two souls, but redemption of a marriage.

I was delighted to read how one woman determined to restore her marriage following God's plan, and not her own. She did not give up even when it seemed the best thing to do. Amazing.

There were quite a number of typos, though. And it is completely narrative without dialogue. Since the book is full of conversation, the narrative gets a bit tedious at times. It would be much better to break the paragraphs up with dialogue.

The story is very well organized, and the fact that it is true gives it a wonderful testimony feel to it. The restoration story is powerful, uplifting, and filled with hope. I know that God allowed Erica to walk into that valley so that she could testify to how glorious He is toward His children.

If you are not an editor or an English teacher, you probably won't notice many typos. The book is worthy and is a keeper.

Engraved in His palm,
Gina Burgess

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In Good Company by Jan Turano


This is one of the best romances I've read in a long time. Deeply fun, characters very well developed, in fact so fun you can find yourself counting them as friends and giving them advice.

The novel has just the right amount of humor, suspense, and abrasion between characters to make it one of the most interesting books of 2015.

Millie and Everett both have a lot of grown to do, and it is inevitable that they each feel the other needs to change the most. It is quite delightful how they manage to help each other become not only better persons, but also realize that when together they make a whole.

The children are delightful scamps, and Turano does an excellent job illustrating how children might behave when they've lost both beloved parents, and when they are trying to find an even keel in unknown waters without the undivided attention of their guardian. Millie comes along in a very unconventional way to help guide them in this turbulent time of their lives. But the fun starts literally when Everett and Millie bump into each other.

This is 5 of 5 stars. I will definitely be purchasing all of Jan Turano's books.

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