Another Series Ending on a Harmonious Note

I’ve enjoy spending time in Robin Lee Hatcher’s fictional Idaho small town. The characters have become familiar and loved. And Hatcher ends her King’s Meadow series with a tale of letting go, of living, of forgiving, that packs a punch.

keeper of the stars

When Penny Cartwright’s younger brother is killed in a car accident, her world comes crashing down around her. She hadn’t been supportive of his brother’s decision to move to Nashville and pursue his dream as a drummer in a band. And now, she’ll never get the chance to tell him she loves him again. Penny’s goal is to take care of her dad and survive her day-to-day routines. When her hands are occupied and her mind is busy, she doesn’t focus on the pain of her loss. Not until Trevor Reynolds moves to town.

Trevor’s determined to keep his promise to his young drummer and spend some time in Idaho. Unsure of exactly what he’s supposed to do while there, the one thing he’s sure of is that he needs to talk to Brad Cartwright’s dad and sister. And while Rodney accepts him immediately, Penny can barely stand to remain in the same room with him, let alone look at him. What will it take to prove he’s not a bad person? That he’d made a mistake he blames himself for when he allowed Brad to drive in the middle of the night instead of stopping for a hotel? And what was it about her that drew him?

Hatcher delves into the difficult subject of grief and morning as well as forgiveness and letting go of blame—whether for oneself or another. When bitterness is released, true healing can begin.

Keeper of the Stars is available online and in stores now.

***Booklook Bloggers and Thomas Nelson publishing provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. All opinions expressed are my own.

What Does It Take to Make a Dream Come to Fruition?

Before we get into the meat of this review, let me clarify up front that this book is not Christian fiction (my usual reviews). While I like to diversify my reading and pepper the Christian fiction with some mainstream, I know there are readers out there who will only read one genre.

And now that that’s out of the way…what do a nine-year-old girl who lost her mother, a recently divorced teacher, and the owner of a struggling jazz club have in common? That’s the question Marie-Helen Bertino explores in her debut novel, 2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas.

cat's pajamas

In Philadelphia, on Christmas Eve Eve, nine-year-old Madeline Altimari has dreams and a recipe box. Her dreams are big and the recipe box is filled with advise from her mother who’d passed away a year before. Madeline admits to not being a nice girl, not having friends. When she faces down one of her classmates and gets expelled from school, she learns of something she’d never heard before: a jazz club in her very own city. Determine to get there and get on stage, she embarks on an exciting journey.

Madeline’s teacher, Sarina Greene has just moved pack to Philly after divorcing her husband. When she gets invited to a party in which her high school crush is rumored to attend. But she knows he’s taken, there’s not use wishing for something that cannot be.

Across town, Lorca is handed the news that his club will be shut down if he can’t comply with city guidelines and codes (most of which he, his employees, and his customers break nightly). Can he save his beloved club?

Madeline is both aggravating and endearing at the same time. While she’s brusque and harsh with many people around her, I found in her the capacity to love and the desire to be loved. Sarina is someone I felt bad for. Life has dealt her a bad hand and I rooted for something to go right in her life. And Lorca and his crew added both a sense of family (although Lorca’s true family is falling apart) and a little bit of comic relief. OK, Madeline adds plenty of that last one herself.

The narrative was unique and enjoyable as the characters tromp across the city of Philadelphia. And the author does a fantastic job of tying all of the stories together at the end of the book.

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

Are You Ready? Cover Reveal

Last year I was introduced the The Everstone Chronicles by Dawn Crandall. And boy, these books are just as beautiful as their covers.

cautious maiden sneak

A fourth book in the series will be released this fall and today, I’m sharing the cover with you (another gorgeous one!). But hang out with me until the end of the post because Dawn is giving away a few prizes with this cover reveal!

Are you ready? Feel free to tap on your book, desk, lap for a drum roll sound effect here.

cautious maiden reveal

Here’s a little about the book:

Violet Hawthorne is beyond mortified when her brother transforms her deceased parents’ respectable country inn into a brothel to accommodate the lumberjacks in the area. When her reputation is compromised, she finds herself forced to enter into an engagement with Vance Everstone. Can she trust this man she hardly knows who has a scandalous reputation in his own right?

Stay tuned here for more info about the book release!!

And now, here’s your chance to win some cool prizes: Win The Everstone Chronicles series in Paperback, an Everstone Chronicles Mug and $25 Amazon Gift Card courtesy of the author.

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Movie Review: Captive

It’s encouraging that Hollywood is getting behind the recent (and by recent I mean probably in the last three or four years) wave of movies with a message of hope and healing. A message about God. The quite, assuming success of the small films like Facing the Giants and Fireproof, even actors have gotten behind the push for movies with a message.

Captive-DVD

In Captive (based on a true story), single mother and widow Ashley Smith (Kate Mara, House of Cards, The Fantastic Four) is struggling to get her life back in order. Her addiction to meth has separated her from her own daughter. While she wants to get her life back on track, to get custody of her little girl back, but the draw of drugs is too tempting.

One evening, she is taken hostage in her own apartment by Brian Nichols (David Oyelowo, Selma, Interstellar), a man who has escaped policy custody and killed four people as he has fled across the city of Atlanta, GA in order to see his newborn child. While he seems like a cold-blooded killer, a criminal who should get what he deserves, he’s also hesitant to do harm to those how haven’t provoked him, those who are willing to listen to him, see him as a human being and not an animal.

As Ashley and Brian spend an entire night in her apartment, she turns to Rick Warren’s book, A Purpose Driven Life. When Brian asks her to read it out loud, they begin a conversation about God and their lives.

Both Oyelowo and Mara give strong performances in their roles, both believable. You can tell there was some money put into this movie. While some of the sets are simple, the cinematography is spot-on and you feel like you’re in that apartment with Ashley.

While this movie has a strong message and is well-done, it is not one for families. There is quite a bit of violence at the beginning and both main characters take drugs at a few points in the film. And while the message of God and hope is implied, the viewers only get to see it lived out in the real-life interview clips inserted within the final credits and the bonus material on the DVD. But for a lost and hurting world, it’s a place to start.

About the movie:
Based on a miraculous story about the power of faith, Captive is an “amazing, inspiring” drama about the spiritual collision of two lost souls, Brian Nichols (Golden Globe Nominee David Oyelowo), on the run from police and desperate to make contact with his newborn son, takes recently widowed mother Ashley Smith (Kata Mara) hostage in her own apartment. Fearing for her life and desperately hoping to see her daughter again, she turns to Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life for guidance. Ashley and her captor face a crossroads where they discover hope and light in the midst of despair in the moving film that Dick Rolfe, CEO, Dove Foundation hailed as “powerful.”

DVD Release Date: January 5, 2016
Runtime: 96 minutes
Rating: PG-13 (for mature thematic elements involving violence and substance abuse)

There are over 30 minutes of bonus content on this DVD including Journey Through Darkness: Filming Captive and Faith and The Purpose Driven Life. Also included with this DVD is a Digital HD copy that can be instantly streamed and downloaded.

****FlyBy Promotions provided me with a complimentary copy of this DVD in exchange for an honest and fair review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Enter to win a copy of the DVD (contest open to residents of the United States and Canada)

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“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Who Controls the News?

I enjoyed reading Lis Wiehl’s Mia Quinn series, so I jumped at the chance to read her newest in a little different setting than the courtroom. And the suspense is ratcheted up from the first chapter in The Newsmakers (written with contributor Sebastian Stewart).

Newsmakers1a

Ambitious reporter Erica Sparks is determined to move out of the shadows of her past. When she’s handed her dream job at an up-and-coming news network in New York City, it looks like she is finally making forward progress.

Out on her first assignment, she encounters and reports a tragedy that shoots her into the public eye. People are now recognizing her. Determined to get to the bottom of the cause for the accident, she continues digging into the story—even when her story is handed off to someone else.

And then another assignment that comes catapults her into the eyes and hearts of viewers once again. Is it just coincidence that Erica was in both places at once or is there something more going on? And if there’s more, who’s behind it?

Suddenly, the job Erica’s dreamed of becomes a nightmare as she faces threats from an enemy she can’t prove is behind any of them and races to find the answers before it’s too late for her—or worse, her daughter.

While Wiehl’s writing style takes a little bit to get used to (she writes in third person, present tense as opposed to past tense like the majority of authors), the action and suspense quickly overshadow this. And while parts of the book are predictable, I never knew what was coming next for Erica—what kind of “warning” was going to be left for her or who was watching her and when.

If you’re looking for a book with a strong spiritual message, you’re not going to find it here. There’s a passing mention of how Erica found solace in God while in recovery and she says the serenity prayer a couple times, she doesn’t turn to God when things get dark and she feels overwhelmed. There are no discussions about God between Erica and her co-workers. It’s almost as if making her a “good” person who wants to find justice is good enough. There are also a couple of curse words in the book that may offend some readers who believe they’ve picked up a Christian fiction book.

None of those things took away from the suspenseful story for me personally, but I have to mention it as it will upset some readers.

***BookLook Bloggers and Thomas Nelson Fiction provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. All opinions expressed are my own.