Time Stands Still CD Review (Family Force 5)

****Family Christian provided me with a free copy of this album in exchange for an honest and fair review. All opinions expressed are my own.****

When I was in college, I worked at a small Christian bookstore in our local mall. My manager and assistant manager found that I kept up with the music scene pretty well so they put me in charge of that department. And now, twenty years later, I still enjoy my music, but I have to admit that I’m way behind the times when it comes to groups that have become popular in the last decade and a half. I do, however, have three teenage nieces and a nephew who keep me up on some of the music.

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Family Force 5 (FF5) has undergone some changes for their fourth studio album, Time Stands Still. First, they signed with a new record label—Word. In addition, there is a new lead singer at the helm (they guy who used to be the drummer, and therefore also a new drummer). Fans of FF5 may find some interesting changes to this album but the changes just may bring about new fans.

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There are still a few songs with the band’s signature crunk rock and crazy lyrics including “Sweep the Leg” which would be an excellent warm-up song if you were going into an MMA fight, “Raised by Wolves” which is one of the hardest rocking songs on the album, and “Jet Pack Kicks”—not as hard hitting but silly party lyrics not the less. What was surprising was the more pop/dance pop sounding songs on the album, things you might hear on Christian radio, songs with a more faith-based message than FF5 has been known for in the past. My favorite song on the album is “Walk on Water” featuring Melodie Wagner from Hillsong. This catchy tune stuck with me.

I’ll admit it took me a few listens to get past wanting to turn it off when the heavier stuff came on, but after three listens, they started to grow on me. If you have a household with different musical tastes, consider picking this one up, the variety just may interest more than one person. With a fifteen tracks, there is a good mix of music.

Interested in purchasing Time Stands Still or other music from Family Christian? Enter here to win a $10.00 Customer Appreciation Certificate that can be used in stores or online. And don’t forget to check out their wonderful sales (Mother’s Day Sale is happening right now)

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Dark Justice by Brandilyn Collins

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A random stop to help an accident victim leads to more than Hannah Shire could ever dream when the man tries to pass on a message and finishes with, “Don’t tell.” Hannah’s mother, who suffers from dementia and is Hannah’s care, fixates on finding the item the man told them about. But when Hannah finds something in her coat pocket, things really heat up. Wondering who to trust, worried about both her daughter and her mother, and trying to do the right thing, these three women become involved in trying to undo a terrorist plot.

The majority of this book is in Hannah’s perspective but we also get a few scenes from Hannah’s daughter as well as some of terrorists and then there is trial transcript taken from one of the investigating officers from the car accident. More than three quarters of the book takes place over two days so it is a fast paced, adrenaline ride from the beginning. And I was a little surprised at one of the events at the end.

Brandilyn Collins is often mentioned as a must-read author for suspense. After reading one of her books (and this one is older, released in 2013), I agree whole-heartedly. This particular book had zero romance in it so if you’re looking for a great read with action, suspense, and family relationships, this one is definitely worth the read.

****B&H Books provided me with a free copy of this book via Net Galley in exchange for an honest and fair review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Beast of Stratton by Renee Blare

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Determined to find out what happened to her father, Aimee Hart accepts a secretarial position at Stratton Industrial, the large engineering firm where she last knew her father to be. In her attempt to discover the truth, she is thrust into the company of Miles Stratton, the head of the company and a man who is trying to overcome both Post Traumatic Stress from his recent return from the war and the betrayal of the man he considered his best friend. As the two work together to discover the truth of what happened to Aimee’s father and who is trying to destroy Stratton Industries.

Fast paced with enough mystery to keep you up until the end, the mysteries inside Stratton Industries are many and keep the story moving along. Miles Stratton is mystery in himself as is what is going on with the company and who Miles can trust within his own company. I had my doubts about a few people throughout the book. Because the majority of the book takes place over a one-night time span, there it moves along nicely. There were a couple of things brought up in the book that I would have liked to see explored a little more, but it doesn’t take away from the story. In fact, it made me keep thinking about what those things meant.

If you’re looking for a quick suspense read with an element of intrigue and romance, consider Renee Blare’s debut novel. The Kindle edition is even on sale right now at Amazon (be sure to double check the price).

Reservations for Two by Hillary Manton Lodge

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Juliette D’Alisa has a lot going on. A trip to Tuscany, Paris, and Provence a week before the soft opening of her brother’s and her new restaurant with the man she loves proves simple. The time spend together, the romance, the support of family all play into the comfort Juliette feels with Neil McLaren. And then vacation ends and life begins. As if trying to juggle the restaurant, her mother’s illness, relationships with her other siblings, and a long distance relationship with Neil weren’t enough, she is also reading through the letters written to and from her grandmother in the early 1940s trying to piece together they mystery of who her biological grandfather was. Is it possible for all of Juliette’s dreams to come true or will she have to give up on in order to keep the others?

This was book two in the Two Blue Doors series by Lodge but the first one I’ve read. While I believe reading the first one will give readers more insight into who Juliette is (and perhaps her relationship with Neil), there were only a couple of places where I felt I was coming in during the middle of the story. What I loved most about this book is how real-life it is. Juliette struggles with her relationship with Neil and the distance between them, worries about her restaurant opening and her mother’s illness, and alternates between teasing her siblings and seeking counsel from them. Her large family is lovable and hilarious at times and you can read the love they share for each other. I can’t wait to read the conclusion of Juliette’s story (and there is plenty to still be worked out once the last page of Reservations for Two has been turned) next year. Oh, and I can’t let you go without mentioning the amazing recipes that are shared throughout the book. They will get your mouth watering.

***Blogging for Books provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I was not compensated in any manner for either a positive or a negative review.

Explosive Alliance by Susan Sleeman

Can two people let go of their biggest secrets and risk a future together?

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After four years away, Krista Curry has returned to Portland to live with her grandfather. While at a soccer game, Krista witnesses someone leave a backpack and opens it to a bomb. She immediately turns to the first law enforcement official she’d seen at the stadium—Cash Dixon. Now that Krista can identify the bomber, Cash has taken it upon himself to protect her and her grandfather. But what is she not telling him? The newest member of the First Response Team, Cash is still trying to find his place in the tight-knit group and despite objections from some of the team members, he is intent on keeping Krista safe.

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Packed with action and plenty of mystery, Explosive Alliance was tough to put down. I had to force myself to close the book and turn off the light so I was well-rested for work the day after I started this book. What is it that immediately draws one person to another? The chemistry between Krista and Cash is almost immediate despite both of their claims they aren’t interested in a romantic relationship (this is before they start spending time together). While there is a lot is going on—the bomber, Krista’s secret, Cash’s secret, the FRS team investigating the bombing—the heart of the story lies with the two main characters making peace with their pasts. Krista gets upset when she believes Cash is keeping something from her even though she’s keeping her own secret from him. But that’s human nature, right?

Don’t miss book two of the First Responders series is available May 1 in digital form and May 5 in paperback. Preorder today. And if you haven’t already read it, get to know the team in Silent Night Standoff (book 1 of the series).

Keep up with the First Responders series as well as Susan Sleeman’s other books here.

***The author provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. All opinions expressed are my own.