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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?

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The Broken Road by Amanda Johnston

I have read this novel three times now and still have no idea how to express how much I enjoyed reading it.  The first time I read The Broken Road in 2012, I was simply reading for pleasure and out of curiosity because I know the author.  After I started writing book reviews, I decided to read it again and write a review, but the draft sat there for months, maybe even a year.  I decided to read it again in June of this year and began another review as soon as I finished reading, but obviously I never finished that review either.  

The Broken Road is Amanda Johnston’s debut novel, but she has been writing stories for many years, so this beautiful work of historical fiction reads like the work of a seasoned author.  I am impressed with the amount of research she did to make sure she accurately portrayed life in Colorado in 1882.  Johnston included the correct kitchen items, tools, etc., but she also captured the language and manners of the area and time period.  Her fictional town and boarding school are the perfect backdrop for the story that unfolds.  

The information from the back cover offers a good summary, so I won’t attempt to write my own. 

In 1882 Colorado, Lydia Ghering has successfully kept her boarding school open during the year following her husband’s unexpected death. Self-reliant and determined, Lydia takes pride in her ability to carry on, but her resilience comes at a price. Ethan McKinley is journeying across the country to fulfill his life’s ambition of captaining a ship when he finds himself stranded in the Colorado foothills after a train wreck. His arrival at Lydia’s doorstep looking for temporary work kindles a friendship that causes him to question the destiny he has always pursued. As their friendship deepens, Lydia must confront secrets from her past, while Ethan must decide his future. Both must seek their answers from the one who offers all they need.

I don’t want to share any more of Lydia’s or Ethan’s stories because I want you to read it yourself.  The Broken Road is a moving novel of love and loss, devastation and determination.  While reading this inspirational romance, I was moved to tears, but I also laughed several times.  The dialogue between the characters is fascinating and made me smile frequently.  The characters are well-developed and relatable because their struggles are similar to ours today.  I know I haven’t done justice to Johnston’s grand tale, but believe me when I say it’s a wonderful story that will move you beyond words. 

I must warn you that The Broken Road ends in suspense.  Johnston has written a sequel to her epic debut novel, but it has not been published yet.  I am eagerly waiting to read more of Lydia’s and Ethan’s stories.  

Happy Birthday to the Boy Who Lived


Harry Potter is one of the most famous and beloved characters of juvenile fiction, and today, July 31st, is his, as well as his creator’s, birthday.  J. K. Rowling crafted incredible tales of bravery, cunning, and heroism, but she has stated that the books’ main theme is death.  If you’ve had the pleasure of reading all seven books, you will agree with her statement.

I’ll admit that I bought into the conservative view that we shouldn’t allow our young people to read books promoting the fascination of wizardry when the books were first released.  I was teaching sixth graders at the time and saw them with the thick books at school, but I didn’t understand the hype.  I later read in The Read-Aloud Handbook that these books inspired a whole generation of kids to read thicker books than they had ever read before, but that didn’t squelch my misgivings. 

This past March, I took my children to the library over spring break, and my ten year old son asked if he could check out the first Harry Potter book.  Not having read it myself, I wasn’t sure if he should read it, but I agreed as long as we read it together.  Little did I know that this would begin a wonderful time of reading and discussion between my son and myself as we raced through all seven books in three months. We couldn’t believe previous readers had had to wait a year between books when they were first released.  We devoured them and returned to the library often, searching for the next book in the series and borrowing the DVDs to watch after we had finished each book. 

What I quickly learned in reading that first book is the stories are full of good versus evil, choices between doing what is right or what is easy, much like other popular book and movie series.  We are avid Star Wars fans, and I believe the “force” in the movies is just as magical as the spells in the Harry Potter books.  Many in my generation grew up with Star Wars and have no qualms in believing that Luke Skywalker is a good guy and should use the force to battle the Dark Side.  However, those same people (myself included) are frightened when our children want to read about a young wizard who uses magic to fight the Dark Lord.  I have read books and articles expounding ways to talk about Christianity as it relates to both Star Wars and to Harry Potter, and I discussed some of these with my son as we read.  

That being said, the Harry Potter books are some of the most exciting books I have ever read and are definitely the most interesting and enjoyable my son and I have read together.  We laughed together, and I cried at times as we followed Harry and his classmates through their years at Hogwarts.  In this coming-of-age series, Harry discovers who he is, makes friends and enemies, maintains relationships, suffers loss and humiliation, stands up for what is right, experiences joy, sadness, triumph, defeat, and love.  It offers lessons for children of all ages and even adults. 

Having read the books and loved them, my son and I were greatly disappointed in the movie versions, so don’t judge the books by the movies.  If you haven’t read any of the books, start with the first one and read all seven because the complete resolution to the problem in the first book doesn’t occur until book seven.  We have had difficulty finding any comparable books to read together since finishing the last Harry Potter book.  A new book came out today, and we can’t wait to read it.  

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.