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6 Books on My Nightstand

Yesterday morning, I was able to make a quick trip to the library all by myself.  Other than two easy requests from my oldest daughter, I was free to peruse the adult section for more than a few seconds and without worrying what my young twins were destroying.   I was thrilled to find the next novels in three different series I have been reading over the last few years and a couple of other novels that sound interesting.  

Deadlock by DiAnn Mills was actually already on my nightstand, but I want to finish the FBI:  Houston series before I start on my newest selections.  I started this series about a month ago and just finished the second book today.  I have always enjoyed FBI novels, and these are highly suspenseful and full of surprises. 

A couple years ago, I had the opportunity to review Always Watching by Lynette Eason, which is the first novel in her Elite Guardians series.  I read the second novel about a year ago, but I didn’t realize Eason had written a third installment until I spied it on the bookshelf this morning.  This is a very interesting and suspenseful series, and I’m looking forward to reading Moving Target.

Murder on the Moor is the fifth novel in Julianna Deering’s Drew Farthering Mystery series.  I have reviewed the first three novels and loved them.  These books, which are set in England in the early 1900’s, remind me of Agatha Christie’s works, which I devoured in high school.  I can’t wait to find out what Drew gets himself into in this novel.  

Lisa Harris’s Nikki Boyd Files series takes us inside special cases with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s missing persons division.  These books are highly intense and have kept me up reading way past my bedtime.  I’ll gladly give up some sleep to read Pursued

Inescapable is the first novel in the Road to Kingdom series by Nancy Mehl.  I don’t think I’ve ever read anything by this author, but this romantic suspense novel caught my eye, so I’ll read it and let you know what I think. 

The last book in my stack is by the same author of the FBI:  Houston series, but I believe this is a stand-alone novel.  Attracted to Fire is a romantic suspense novel involving FBI agents, the president, and the secret service.  It sounds like it’s right up my alley.  I’ll review it later. 

What books are on your bedside table waiting to be read?

Like Never Before by Melissa Tagg

Have you ever not wanted to finish a book because you were enjoying it so much?  I seriously put off reading the last 25 pages of this emotionally-charged, romantic comedy because I did not want the story to end.  Fortunately, this novel is part of a series, so the characters will continue to make appearances in the remaining books. 

Like Never Before is Melissa Tagg’s second installment in her Walker Family series, which is set in a small town in her native Iowa.  Over two years ago, I read Tagg’s first Walker Family novel From the Start and the novella Three Little Words that serves as a prequel to the series.  The only reason I hadn’t read any of the other books in this series is my local public library has none of Tagg’s books.  (I read way too many books to buy them—75 already this year!)  I brought this to the attention of a librarian and requested that they order some of Tagg’s books.  The librarian wrote it down and offered to look into it, but she then suggested that I try an interlibrary loan, which I had never done before.  (Interestingly enough, an interlibrary loan is mentioned in the book.)  About a week later, I received an email that this book was ready for me to check out.  I was in the middle of another book, but I started reading Like Never Before as soon as I finished Persuasion.  I was somewhat disappointed with the ending of Jane Austen’s classic because I wanted more details, more emotions.  After the long, drawn out narrative leading up to the climax, the ending seemed rushed.  I felt Tagg provided just the right amount of details and emotional responses in closing Logan Walker’s story.  

If you haven’t read any of Melissa Tagg’s novels, I highly recommend them.  They are delightful, funny, and inspiring. 

Honor Redeemed by Christine Johnson

If you are a reader who judges books by their covers, you will be in for a surprise when you read Honor Redeemed, which is actually a historical romance set in the 1850’s despite the cover model’s modern appearance.  This second book in Christine Johnson’s Keys of Promise series takes a unique look at the army, the medical profession, and honor with Key West as the beautiful locale.

Prosperity Jones seeks to reunite with her betrothed after her parents’ death, but unexpected and unexplainable circumstances leave her penniless and heartbroken.  Thanks to the kindness and generosity of strangers, Prosperity is able to find employment and a temporary home. 

Lieutenant David Latham finds himself in a difficult situation that he believes he deserves due to his regrettable actions.  Once he realizes the truth, he acts as a true gentleman and refuses to disparage another even though his heart and his honor are at stake.

Honor Redeemed is one of those rare books that completely immerses you in another time and place, makes you understand the prevalent thinking of the era, and causes you to feel the angst of the characters as they struggle to make things right.  I fell in love with these characters and understood their actions even as I felt frustration with them for being so honorable.

Christine Johnson’s latest novel takes you to an exotic island and gives you a glimpse into another time and another place.  The story was as lovely as the setting.  


I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  These thoughts and opinions are my own.  

What Matters Most by Kellie Coates Gilbert

I love reading novels that are set in Texas, especially when the author lives in the Lone Star State and knows how real Texans live and speak.  So many times, authors set their story on a Texas ranch and insert “y’all” in every sentence of dialogue, which is completely unrealistic.  Kellie Coates Gilbert dispels that notion and also shows that there are sophisticated and polished ladies and gentlemen in the Lone Star State.  Not every Texan wears boots and a cowboy hat or drives a big truck or lives on a ranch.  

In What Matters Most, Gilbert takes us into the hill country and the state capital of Austin, where political power and agendas provide a charged atmosphere for a Cinderella story.  Leta Breckenridge has faced challenges and difficult choices in her life, but she has always kept her priorities straight.  When she is offered a dream job with a huge salary, it is almost too good to be true.  

Nathan Emerson is a young senator with deep roots and high aspirations in politics.  His family and long-time girlfriend want to see him unseat the current governor, but Nathan is unsure if this is the right time to make his move.  When he meets Leta, he is intrigued by her and her current situation.

This book gives readers an inside look into the inner workings of politics, while keeping the story light enough for a romance.  What Matters Most asks the characters to make difficult choices based on what is right rather than what is easy or most beneficial.  The moral of the story is one that could apply to anyone in almost any situation.  This novel is well-written and interesting.


I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  These thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Missing by Lisa Harris


Several months ago, I read Vendetta by Lisa Harris and felt I had finally found something similar to the FBI suspense thrillers I used to read (until they got weird).  Missing is Harris’s second novel in the Nikki Boyd Files and picks up just 5 weeks after Vendetta and follows Nikki and her team with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s Missing Persons Special Task Force as an investigation unfolds.  

This investigation starts with homicides, but Nikki and her team race to find two missing people.  They are met with unusual circumstances that drag Nikki’s friend Tyler into the investigation.  Time is running out, and more people end up dead before the team gets a good lead.  The investigation reveals a complicated and tangled web of deceit and greed that leaves the reader in suspense through the end. 

Missing is a fast-paced, suspenseful book that kept me reading when I should have been doing other things.  I didn’t want it to end, but I couldn’t wait to get to the resolution.  I am most definitely reading the third installment next spring. 

I received this book for free from Revell in exchange for an honest review.  These thoughts and opinions are my own.  

All Summer Long by Melody Carlson



All Summer Long is Melody Carlson’s second novel in her Follow Your Heart series and is perfect for summertime reading.  Tia D’Amico has grown up in her family’s restaurant, but she dreams of being a professional chef in a big city.   When her aunt from San Francisco calls her and asks her to help turn a boat into a restaurant and be its chef, Tia packs up and leaves her family behind for a new adventure.  

In San Francisco, Tia reunites quickly with a guy she had met years before at sailing camp, and he just happens to be the captain of her aunt’s boat.  Tia and Leo end up working together much more than either had planned as they ready the boat for their first guests.  The struggle Tia goes through is one that is familiar to many of us, and she handles it with grace.  I felt like Leo’s character could have been portrayed as stronger and more decisive when it came to his love life, but his confusion was evident as this was the only area where he appeared weak.  

All Summer Long is not classified as Christian fiction and does not contain many religious references, but it is a good, clean romance and a wonderful read for teen girls or women of any age.  I received this novel for free from Revell in exchange for an honest review.  

Sea Rose Lane by Irene Hannon


Sea Rose Lane is a delightful, contemporary romance set in the small, coastal town of Hope Harbor in Oregon.  Hannon wrote a novel prior to this one that bears the name of this small town and contains some of the same characters.  Each book can be read alone, but I enjoyed Sea Rose Lane so much that I wish I had read Hope Harbor first.

Eric Nash was on the fast track to becoming a partner with his law firm, working too hard to have a life outside the office.  When his firm laid him off, he was devastated and determined to find a new firm in which to fulfill his long-held career plans.  With plenty of time off, Eric decides to visit his dad in Hope Harbor, but receives a huge shock when he arrives.

BJ Stevens is a talented, young architect who gave up a lucrative position in a Los Angeles firm to become her own boss in Hope Harbor.  BJ has adjusted well to life in the small town and is making an effort to help the senior citizens around town as well as employing a couple of hard workers who were down on their luck. 

When Eric and BJ meet, tensions escalate and fireworks explode, but not the good kind.  Eric rear-ends BJ’s truck, and they can’t seem to do anything but argue for awhile.  Then Eric demonstrates his true character in helping others and is able to slowly befriend BJ.

Sea Rose Lane is not your typical romance novel.  I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of all of the characters and by the subplots that added richness and intrigue to the story.  The novel contains heartache and loneliness, suffering and despair, guilt and grief, but it also has love and joy, peace and contentment, friendship and forgiveness.  In this book, Hannon treats devastating losses with respect and dignity while allowing each character to cope in their unique ways.  Of course, the underlying message is to trust God and allow him to help you get through those losses, but this book never felt religious or preachy.

I received this book for free from Revell in exchange for an honest review. 

Murder Comes by Mail by A. H. Gabhart 

About six months ago, I read Murder at the Courthouse, which introduced us to Deputy Sheriff Michael Keane and the rest of the characters in Gabhart’s small town of Hidden Springs.  The first novel in the series was so interesting that I requested the second installment, Murder Comes by Mail, from the publisher.  This second novel was as well-written as the previous one, but an undertone of evil was more prevalent throughout Murder Comes by Mail.  

From the first chapter, Michael Keane has a sense of foreboding that terrible things are to come.  Who knew that saving someone’s life could cause so many problems?  What sinister game is the killer playing?  The mystery and suspense for Michael continue through the final chapter.  

The life-long friendship between Michael and Alexandra continues to hover between friends and something more, but they are both afraid of venturing into the unknown.  There is just enough romance to keep the romantic happy, but not enough to turn away those who have no interest in romance.  

My only complaint (if I can even call it that) is that I figured out who the killer was before the main character did.  I just researched the phrase “whodunnit” and learned that this is a genre of books and movies.  

I’m accustomed to authors who conceal the identity of the perpetrator until the climax, so I was surprised to be able to deduce who the killer was in both of Gabhart’s novels.  Now I understand, and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the Hidden Springs Mysteries series. 

I received this book for free from Revell in exchange for an honest review.  

Irish Meadows by Susan Anne Mason

My mother and I share a love for reading, and our tastes in books are extremely similar, so we often pass books back and forth.  My mom requested Irish Meadows by Susan Ann Mason from Bethany House, but then she didn’t have time to read it, so she passed it to me, thinking I would read it and write a review on it more quickly than she could.  I read it soon after, and I wrote one sentence of a review back in November, but that was as far as I got.  I have only really struggled this much to write a review one other time, and the two books are similar in how they affected me and in how lovely I thought the stories were.  I will (once again) attempt to put into words my feelings about the characters and plot in Irish Meadows

This historical fiction novel is set in 1911 in New York and revolves around the O’Leary family, who owns a horse farm on Long Island.  Gilbert Whelan grew up on the farm where his widowed mother worked as the O’Leary’s housekeeper until her early death, which left him to be raised with the O’Leary children.  Gil is ambitious, hard-working, handsome, and a gentleman, which makes him the perfect leading man and hero.  However, his position in the family but not of the family creates a desperate situation when he and one of the O’Leary girls share a mutual attraction.  Gil’s efforts to resist temptation and honor the O’Leary family are admirable and noble.  

Many of the problems in this novel stem from James O’Leary, the father of Brianna and Colleen and the owner of Irish Meadows farm, who has high expectations and an unyielding temperament.   James is an Irish immigrant who has worked hard to build his horse farm into a thriving business, but business has been poor lately, and James begins to look for ways to form alliances with families who have wealth as a means of saving his farm.  Nothing good can come from placing financial gain ahead of family members and their feelings. 

The O’Leary daughters are old enough to marry, but Colleen is extremely selective about whom she will tie herself, but she has no qualms about flirting with any handsome and wealthy bachelor.  Brianna, in contrast, flirts with no one and only has eyes for one man.  These two strong-willed women are forced to make decisions that will affect their family and their future.

Setting this novel on a horse farm provided ample opportunities for the characters to exhibit their true personalities.  The descriptions of strong and beautiful horses only added to the appeal of the lovely setting.  

The focus of this book is the struggle within each character to do what is right or to follow their heart’s desire.  What seems like the right thing to do is often not what is best for a person, rather it is what is expected of that person by their parents, society, or others.  There are also instances when what would have been the right thing to do must change because the circumstances have changed.  This book is beautifully and thoughtfully written, alternating point of view from each of the main characters, so that the reader has insight into each character’s inner struggle.

My mom and I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.  I hope I have done the book justice, and I apologize to the author and publisher for taking so long to write a review.  The second book in Susan Anne Mason’s Courage to Dream series has already been released, and the third is available for pre-order.  I am looking forward to reading A Worthy Heart (book 2) and Love’s Faithful Promise (book 3).

Silence in the Dark by Patricia Bradley

I only realized after reading this novel in its entirety that it is the fourth installment in Patricia Bradley’s Logan Point series.  Now I’m curious to know which characters were the focus of each of the previous books.  I could hazard a guess at two, but Silence in the Dark read like a stand-alone book and didn’t rehash each character’s background, so it could be any current or former resident of Logan Point. 

Bailey Adams is a strong-willed, independent woman who has run from her problems in Logan Point, Mississippi, to new troubles in Mexico.  She left behind a man who wanted to marry her while she pursued her calling to serve the rural people of Mexico through mission work.  A simple trip home and a favor to a friend turns into a nightmare as Bailey and one of her young students are pursued relentlessly. 

Danny Maxwell happened to be in the right place at the right time to help rescue Bailey, but she is just as resistant to his love as when she fled Logan Point two years prior.  Danny is determined to win her heart again, but he struggles simply to keep her safe.

I must confess that I was not “into” this book for the first two chapters.  (Perhaps the narrative would have held my attention better if I had read the previous books in the series and had already known the main characters. Or perhaps it was only my state of mind at the time.))  However, once I got past the beginning, the plot thickened and was full of twists, and the suspense kept me enthralled.  This book contains murder, mystery, romance, restoration, healing, searching, honesty, and finally peace.  

Silence in the Dark is an excellent work of fiction and took me into a country and culture in which I would not feel comfortable traveling but about which I enjoyed reading.  I find it fascinating to read about other cultures and the struggles they endure, and I would rather experience them vicariously through fictional characters than be subjected to fear and danger myself.  Until God calls me to serve him in one of these areas, I will continue to serve him in my home, my church, my school, etc.  

I received this book for free from Revell in exchange for an honest review.