A ★★★ Book Review of Stratagem, A Contemporary Fiction Suspense Novel by Robin Caroll

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review. All thoughts below are my own.  Also, this blog post includes affiliate links which means I will receive a commission based on sales generated via these links.


Murder, suspense, betrayal and forgiveness…

This exciting new novel by Robin Caroll will not disappoint.  With mystery and intrigue wrapped up in a message of the beauty of forgiveness, this book proved to be a fast paced novel that readers will love. 


A ★★★ Book Review of Stratagem, A Contemporary Fiction Suspense Novel by Robin Caroll

A ★★★ Book Review of Stratagem, A Contemporary Fiction Suspense Novel by Robin Caroll

★★★ || There is nothing better than a good suspense novel! Stratagem, a new release by Robin Caroll, was just that. It was a refreshing read that kept me on my toes until the end. Set in modern day, this mystery carries readers along a mind bending journey as the main character, Grayson, becomes the prime suspect in his ex-wife, Anna Belle’s, murder when she suddenly dies while competing in a game he created for her company. Not only do readers enjoy this story from Grayson’s point of view, but they also discover interviews and learn pertinent information from the viewpoint of detective Brandon Gibbons, a friend of Grayson’s as he interviews those who were present when Anna Belle died.

I enjoyed the glimpses author Robin Caroll allowed into Anna Belle’s mind and from her perspective as well.

The story not only has a fast paced plot that thickens around every turn, but are there many characters that are introduced at relevant times making readers feel like they may have figured out the murderer, but Robin Caroll likes to keep you guessing until the very end. In the end, there is a sweet surrender to forgiveness that was so necessary from the beginning of the book. It is a beautiful display of faith and love.

I gave this story three stars because I did enjoy the story and the creativity behind it. The game that Grayson creates, how it works and the unique way the author weaves the characters together is fantastic. What kept me from a higher rating is Anna Belle’s character. She lacked so much… I was actually glad she’d passed away, she sounded like such a miserable person. I feel like readers might have been more concerned for her death and interested to find out “who’d done it” if she was a more likable character. However, in the same respect, had she been more likable, there wouldn’t have been the necessity for Grayson’s inclination toward forgiveness.

Over all, I would recommend this book to those who enjoy a good mystery! While this is classified as a suspense novel, Stratagem doesn’t involve over the top, descriptive violence or malice. It does however, deal with sensitive subjects such as divorce, abortion and addiction so if those are tender points for readers, they may want to proceed cautiously.


A High-Stakes Simulation Adventure Leaves Grayson Thibodeaux the

Prime Suspect . . . for Murder.
 
Deep in the gritty underbelly of New Orleans, psychologist Grayson Thibodeaux loses everything when his wife leaves him to climb her company’s corporate ladder. He buries himself in his job of creating mind-bending adventure games for businesses as team-building explorations. When his ex-wife’s company hires Grayson’s to create an elaborate game, he doesn’t see how things can get worse. Until she dies during the course of the game he created…making him the prime suspect for murder. - Synopsis from Stratagem


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Image courtesy of https://www.robincaroll.com

Image courtesy of https://www.robincaroll.com

Robin Caroll grew up in Louisiana with her nose in a book. She still has the complete Trixie Belden series, and her love for mysteries and suspense has only increased with her age.

Robin’s passion has always been to tell stories to entertain others and come alongside them on their faith journey—aspects Robin weaves into each of her published novels.

Best-selling author of thirty-plus novels, ROBIN CAROLL writes Southern stories of mystery and suspense, with a hint of romance to entertain readers. Her books have been recognized in several awards, including the Carol Award, HOLT Medallion, Daphne du Maurier, RT Reviewer’s Choice Award, and more.

When she isn’t writing, Robin spends quality time with her husband of nearly three decades, her three beautiful daughters and two handsome grandsons, and their character-filled pets at home in the South. Robin serves the writing community as Executive/Conference Director for ACFW.

You can find Robin at her website, https://www.robincaroll.com, or on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.


Lastly, pick up your own copy of Stratagem or borrow it from your local library.  Then, I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts on the book in the comments below! 


 

A Book Review of Book Girl by Sarah Clarkson - A journey through the treasures and transforming power of a reading life.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale Momentum, a nonfiction imprint of Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts below are my own.  Also, this blog post includes affiliate links which means I will receive a commission based on sales generated via these links.


An enlightening and invaluable resource for any avid reader or book lover.

When I first chose to read Book Girl by Sarah Clarkson, I immediately identified with her because I too grew up loving to read and explore books. As a child, and even still as an adult, my time spent reading was, and is, a time I treasure and crave. As a new mother, I want to cultivate that desire and passion for reading in my daughter’s life so I felt Book Girl might provide me with the tools I needed to do that. To me, this book did just that and more… A truly invaluable resource that I know I will find myself returning to over and over again; a book I want to rave about to all my friends!


A ★★★★★ Book Review of Hidden Among the Stars, a Tyndale House Publishers historical fiction novel by Melanie Dobson

A ★★★★★ Book Review of Hidden Among the Stars, a Tyndale House Publishers historical fiction novel by Melanie Dobson

You may have noticed that I did not rate this book like I have done in the past with my fiction novels. That is because Book Girl is above any rating in my opinion. It is truly a book to cherish. As I read through the first part of this book where the author shares her heart and purpose for the book, I felt a unique kinship with her as a book girl. I laughed because I also remember “nap times” in my house as a young child where we were given the option to nap or read quietly. I almost always chose to read.

Author Sarah Clarkson does an excellent job of creating a dialogue that draws you in. It feels as if she’s in the room, sitting and talking to her reader in person. There’s a warm friendship and strong connection that flows throughout this book. She shares of her own personal experiences and takes the time to explain her thoughts and recommendations well. In addition, she discusses the direct link between reading and how it can deepen and strengthen your life, your faith and your education. While reading through these sections of the book, I realized that I’d never really considered how books had impacted my life - my worldview, the decisions I’ve made, the desires I have for my daughter and her reading life… It was an exceptional time spent in these pages, reminiscing over the books I’ve loved and making my own lists of books I’d still like to read, or even better, the ones I’d like to read with my daughter.

Book Girl is an excellent resource for any reader, but geared mostly towards women. I highly recommend it to fellow mothers but also any young woman or woman who desires to deepen her reading experiences. This is not just a book to be read and shelved; it is a resource and a guide. A book to return to, to study and to cherish.

Thank you, Sarah Clarkson, for your time spent creating Book Girl. Your love, knowledge and passion are evident and we, as readers, extend our utmost gratitude to you for continuing to pass on the legacy of being a Book Girl.


When you hear a riveting story, does it thrill your heart and stir your soul? Do you hunger for truth and goodness? Do you secretly relate to Belle’s delight in the library in Beauty and the Beast?

If so, you may be on your way to being a book girl.


Books were always Sarah Clarkson’s delight. Raised in the company of the lively Anne of Green Gables, the brave Pevensie children of Narnia, and the wise Austen heroines, she discovered reading early on as a daily gift, a way of encountering the world in all its wonder. But what she came to realize as an adult was just how powerfully books had shaped her as a woman to live a story within that world, to be a lifelong learner, to grasp hope in struggle, and to create and act with courage.

She’s convinced that books can do the same for you.

Join Sarah in exploring the reading life as a gift and an adventure, one meant to enrich, broaden, and delight you in each season of your life as a woman. In Book Girl, you’ll discover:

  • how reading can strengthen your spiritual life and deepen your faith,

  • why a journey through classic literature might be just what you need (and where to begin),

  • how stories form your sense of identity,

  • how Sarah’s parents raised her to be a reader—and what you can do to cultivate a love of reading in the growing readers around you, and

  • 20+ annotated book lists, including some old favorites and many new discoveries.

Whether you’ve long considered yourself a reader or have dreams of becoming one, Book Girl will draw you into the life-giving journey of becoming a woman who reads and lives well. - Book Girl Synopsis


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Image courtesy of https://www.tyndale.com/authors/sarah-clarkson

Image courtesy of https://www.tyndale.com/authors/sarah-clarkson

Sarah Clarkson loves books, beauty, and imagination, and thinks everyone else should too. She's a published author (The Lifegiving HomeRead for the HeartCaught Up in a Story) and recent graduate of Oxford University, where she studied theology at Wycliffe Hall. She blogs at sarahclarkson.com and is a regular guest on the podcast At Home with Sally, where she chats about her current reads and imaginative discoveries. She lives in Oxford, England, in a red-doored cottage she shares with her husband, Thomas and their daughter, Lilian. Learn more about Sarah on her website or follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Also, take a moment to find Sarah’s Storyformed Project, another great resource, at www.storyformed.com.


Lastly, pick up your own copy of Book Girl or borrow it from your local library.  Then, I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts on the book in the comments below! 


 

A ★★★★★ Book Review of Hidden Among the Stars, a historical fiction novel by Melanie Dobson

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts below are my own.  Also, this blog post includes affiliate links which means I will receive a commission based on sales generated via these links.


Hidden treasure, secrets, friendship and a story that will captivate readers hearts and imaginations…

As history unfolds in this gripping, new novel by author Melanie Dobson, readers will find themselves not only captivated by Hidden Among the Stars endearing characters, but absorbed in this time slip book’s two simultaneous stories that are masterfully tied together by an imaginative and creative author. While rich in WWII history, this book takes place in 1930’s Austria as the Germans invade and in the life of present day bookstore owner, Callie Randall. With subtle, yet powerful morals such as friendship, loyalty, equality and choosing what is right, this novel is perfect for both contemporary and historical fiction readers.


A ★★★★★ Book Review of Hidden Among the Stars, a Tyndale House Publishers historical fiction novel by Melanie Dobson

A ★★★★★ Book Review of Hidden Among the Stars, a Tyndale House Publishers historical fiction novel by Melanie Dobson

★★★★★ || I’ll be the first to admit, the Hidden Among the Stars cover is what initially drew me in for this novel. (…And they say to never judge a book by it’s cover.) With my love of historical fiction and a particular interest in WWII fiction, I was excited to begin this novel. From the first three chapters, I was completely hooked; it was quite the page turner! This time slip novel has two stories happening simultaneously, one that happened near Lake Hallstatt in Austria in the late 1930’s, and a second story that takes place in current day, both of which I found completely intriguing.

The characters are both endearing and relatable. As a book lover, I enjoyed Callie’s character very much and as an introvert, found my self connecting with her on a deeper level. Author Melanie Dobson weaves a heartwarming story through her characters as they face loss, overcome trials, maintain loyal friendships and fight to choose what is right.

There wasn’t anything I didn’t love about this novel. It was all I’d hoped for and more. I’d no sooner finished the story and I wanted to read it again! The story was entertaining, moved along at a pace that kept me interested, held a bit of mystery and suspense as well as certain elements of faith and friendship that were very impactful. I enjoyed the author’s writing style and descriptiveness very much. So much, in fact, that I’ve already searched our local library for her other books as well.

While reading the story, I saw this post from Crazy4Fiction.com on social media about the author’s trip that sparked the idea for this novel which I found fascinating. I know much time, work and love goes into creating a story of this magnitude and I think Melanie Dobson executed this piece magnificently.


From the award-winning author of Catching the Wind, which Publishers Weekly called “unforgettable” and a “must-read,” comes another gripping time-slip novel about hidden treasure, a castle, and ordinary people who resisted evil in their own extraordinary way.


The year is 1938, and as Hitler’s troops sweep into Vienna, Austrian Max Dornbach promises to help his Jewish friends hide their most valuable possessions from the Nazis, smuggling them to his family’s summer estate near the picturesque village of Hallstatt. He enlists the help of Annika Knopf, his childhood friend and the caretaker’s daughter, who is eager to help the man she’s loved her entire life. But when Max also brings Luzia Weiss, a young Jewish woman, to hide at the castle, it complicates Annika’s feelings and puts their entire plan—even their very lives—in jeopardy. Especially when the Nazis come to scour the estate and find both Luzia and the treasure gone.

Eighty years later, Callie Randall is mostly content with her quiet life, running a bookstore with her sister and reaching out into the world through her blog. Then she finds a cryptic list in an old edition of Bambi that connects her to Annika’s story . . . and maybe to the long-buried story of a dear friend. As she digs into the past, Callie must risk venturing outside the safe world she’s built for a chance at answers, adventure, and maybe even new love.. - Synopsis from Hidden Among the Stars


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Image courtesy of  http://melaniedobson.com .

Image courtesy of http://melaniedobson.com.

Writing historical and time-slip fiction is Melanie Dobson’s excuse to immerse herself into the past by reading old books, interviewing experts, and exploring fascinating places across the United States and Europe.

Melanie is the award-winning author of twenty historical romance, suspense, and time-slip novels. Three of her novels, Chateau of SecretsThe Silent Order and Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa, have received Carol Awards, Catching the Wind received the Inspirational Fiction Audie Award, and The Black Cloister was named the ForeWord Religious Fiction Book of the Year.

Melanie received her undergraduate degree in journalism from Liberty University and her master’s degree in communication from Regent University. Prior to her writing career, she was the corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family and owner of Dobson Media Group.

Melanie met her husband, Jon, in Colorado Springs, but since they’ve been married, the Dobsons have relocated numerous times with Jon’s work including stints in Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Colorado, Berlin, and Southern California. Along with their two daughters, Karlyn and Kiki, they now enjoy their home in the Pacific Northwest. The entire Dobson family loves to travel and hike in both the mountains and along the cliffs above the Pacific, and they enjoy serving together with the orphan care ministry in their church.

When Melanie isn’t writing or playing with her family, she enjoys teaching, dancing, and reading inspirational novels.

Learn more about Melanie at http://melaniedobson.com. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.


Lastly, pick up your own copy of Hidden Among the Stars or borrow it from your local library.  Then, I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts on the book in the comments below! 


 

A ★★★★★ Book Review of Auschwitz Lullaby by Mario Escobar, a historical fiction novel.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers book review program and Thomas Nelson (a registered trademark of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc.) in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts below are my own.  Also, this blog post includes affiliate links which means I will receive a commission based on sales generated via these links.


A heartrending story of loyalty, courage and perseverance in the face of adversity.


A ★★★★★ Book Review of Auschwitz Lullaby by Mario Escobar, a historical fiction novel from Thomas Nelson. 

A ★★★★★ Book Review of Auschwitz Lullaby by Mario Escobar, a historical fiction novel from Thomas Nelson. 

★★★★★ || Auschwitz Lullaby is a truly remarkable tale based on a the true story of Helene Hannemann, a German nurse who chooses family over freedom when the Nazis force her Gypsy husband and five children into encampment during WWII. As they are delivered to Auschwitz-Birkenau II, her story unfolds when she’s is torn from her husband and must fight to keep her family alive in the very place where thousands upon thousands of people died from starvation, poor living conditions, Nazi cruelty and disease. 

The author, Mario Escobar, closely follows WWII history and portrays camp life vividly, and yet, heartbreakingly well. As he wove his fictitious tale of real courageous men and women, I was pulled into life in the Gypsy camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau II. This story was very carefully crafted with captivating characters and events that keep readers intrigued from page to page.  I believe readers will want to celebrate the sense of loyalty and perseverance in the brave men, women and children of those perilous times when the Nazis sought to crush the very soul of humanity. 

As a true five star novel, I loved this book because it was rich in historical details, beautifully written and seemingly accurate. The author doesn’t sugarcoat camp life for his readers, but even in the harsh reality of circumstances, he maintains the dignity of his characters and offers bits of joy for his readers. This is a MUST READ for historical fiction readers and anyone with a particular interest in WWII or the Holocaust. It is my understanding that this book may be available in multiple languages as well for readers all over the world.


Auschwitz Lullaby brings to life the story of Helene Hannemann—a woman who sacrificed everything for family and fought furiously for the children she hoped to save.

On an otherwise ordinary morning in 1943, Helene Hannemann is preparing her five children for the day when the German police arrive at her home. Helene’s worst fears come true when the police, under strict orders from the SS, demand that her children and husband, all of Romani heritage, be taken into custody. Though Helene is German and safe from the forces invading her home, she refuses to leave her family—sealing her fate in a way she never could have imagined.

After a terrifying trek across the continent, Helene and her family arrive at Auschwitz and are thrown into the chaos of the camp. Her husband, Johann, is separated from them, but Helene remains fiercely protective of her children and those around her. When the powers-that-be discover that Helene is not only a German but also a trained nurse, she is forced into service at the camp hospital, which is overseen by the notorious Dr. Mengele himself.

Helene is under no illusions in terms of Dr. Mengele’s intentions, but she agrees to cooperate when he asks her to organize a day care and school for the Romani children in the camp. Though physically and emotionally brutalized by the conditions at Auschwitz, Helene musters the strength to protect the children in her care at any cost. Through sheer force of will, Helene provides a haven for the children of Auschwitz—an act of kindness and selflessness so great that it illuminates the darkest night of human history.

Based on a true story, Mario Escobar’s Auschwitz Lullaby demonstrates the power of sacrifice and the strength of human dignity—even when all hope seems lost. - Synopsis from Auschwitz Lullaby


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Image courtesy of http://www.marioescobar.es/

Image courtesy of http://www.marioescobar.es/

Mario Escobar Golderos has a degree in History, with an advanced studies diploma in Modern History. He has written numerous books and articles about the Inquisition, the Protestant Reformation, and religious sects. He is the executive director of an NGO and directs the magazine Nueva historia para el debate, in addition to being a contributing columnist in various publications. Passionate about history and its mysteries, Escobar has delved into the depths of church history, the different sectarian groups that have struggled therein, and the discovery and colonization of the Americas. He specializes in the lives of unorthodox Spaniards and Americans.

Learn more about Mario at http://www.marioescobar.es/. You can also follow him on Facebook or Twitter


Lastly, pick up your own copy of Auschwitz Lullaby or borrow it from your local library.  Then, I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts on the book in the comments below! 

I review for BookLook Bloggers

 

A ★★★★★ Book Review of The Solace of Water, by Elizabeth Byler Younts, a Christian Fiction Novel

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers book review program and Thomas Nelson (a registered trademark of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc.) in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts below are my own.  Also, this blog post includes affiliate links which means I will receive a commission based on sales generated via these links.


The Solace of Water is not a book to just be read, but rather a book to be experienced. 

Have you ever read a book that was so riveting, you needed time after finishing the book just to process the depth of the words and the emotions tied up in them? I’m feeling that way after just finishing the new release, The Solace of Water, by Elizabeth Byler Younts.  For hours, my mind and heart has mulled over what I just read - the extreme depth of grief, love, friendship and the redemption that can only be found in forgiveness.


A ★★★★★ Book Review of The Solace of Water, by Elizabeth Byler Younts, a Christian Fiction novel from Thomas Nelson. 

A ★★★★★ Book Review of The Solace of Water, by Elizabeth Byler Younts, a Christian Fiction novel from Thomas Nelson. 

★★★★★ || As I try to compose a review, I’m not even sure my words will do this novel justice. I loved everything about this book. How the characters and their thoughts jumped off the page, coming alive and coercing me to relate to them. How I felt angered over their decisions, grief over their losses and heartache over their pain. I felt the newness of life come about as forgiveness made its way into the lives of the characters, a refreshing balm for the soul. 

Words cannot describe how good this book was.  The Solace of Water is not a book to just be read, but rather a book to be experienced. 

Author Elizabeth Byler Younts wasn’t afraid to entwine hard truths or expose the realities of lies and deception. She brought life to the pages and made me, as a reader, see how we as humans make choices without fully realizing how they impact those around us.  Using a timeline when racial tension was at an all time high, she weaves a story that is just as relevant today as it was in the mid 1950’s. Friendship and love can transcend all religions, races and ways of life. 

I can’t say enough about this book, without giving too much of the story away. It is a story I would highly recommend to other adult readers. It is one that won’t soon be forgotten and quite possibly remembered for a long time to come.


In a time of grief and heartache, an unlikely friendship provides strength and solace.

After leaving her son’s grave behind in Montgomery, Alabama, Delilah Evans has little faith that moving to her husband’s hometown in Pennsylvania will bring a fresh start. Enveloped by grief and doubt, the last thing Delilah imagines is becoming friends with her reclusive Amish neighbor, Emma Mullet—yet the secrets that keep Emma isolated from her own community bond her to Delilah in delicate and unexpected ways.

Delilah’s eldest daughter, Sparrow, bears the brunt of her mother’s pain, never allowed for a moment to forget she is responsible for her brother’s death. When tensions at home become unbearable for her, she seeks peace at Emma’s house and becomes the daughter Emma has always wanted. Sparrow, however, is hiding secrets of her own—secrets that could devastate them all.

With the white, black, and Amish communities of Sinking Creek at their most divided, there seems to be little hope for reconciliation. But long-buried hurts have their way of surfacing, and Delilah and Emma find themselves facing their own self-deceptions. Together they must learn how to face the future through the healing power of forgiveness.

Eminently relevant to the beauty and struggle in America today, The Solace of Water offers a glimpse into the turbulent 1950s and reminds us that friendship rises above religion, race, and custom—and has the power to transform a broken heart. - Synopsis from The Solace of Water


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Image courtesy of https://www.elizabethbyleryounts.com/

Image courtesy of https://www.elizabethbyleryounts.com/

Elizabeth Byler Younts writes women's fiction for Harper Collins/Thomas Nelson. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers. She gained a worldwide audience through her first book Seasons: A Real Story of an Amish Girl and is a RITA nominated writer. She is also the author of The Promise of Sunrise series. She has consulted on Amish lifestyle and the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect for two award-winning television shows. Elizabeth lives in Central Pennsylvania with her husband, two daughters, and a cockapoo named Fable.

Learn more about Elizabeth at www.elizabethbyleryounts.com. You can also follow her on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest.


Lastly, pick up your own copy of The Solace of Water or borrow it from your local library.  Then, I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts on the book in the comments below!