Haley’s Hangdog Holiday (Bk 2) by Tamie Dearen ~ Review

Haleys Hangdog Holiday pic

Haley’s Hangdog Holiday by Tamie Dearen

While this book is the second book in a series, it is completely capable of standing on its own. The books in the series are only loosely connected, so you could read these books in any order and enjoy them. And of course each book features a dog as part of the story.

This is the type of story I enjoy reading over and over. It has a well developed plot that includes plenty of humor, realistic struggles for both parties in their lives as Christians, and development with bumps in the road when Haley and Gavin became a couple. Both characters are completely believable. They aren’t perfect, but are both striving to be the best person they can be. Being a Christian is a driving role in both their lives.

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Haley and Gavin had a lot in common. They were both extremely competitive and when they both signed up for a particular degree program in accounting, they came head to head at the top of their classes, striving for the same honors. In spite of that, they didn’t really get to know each other until two years into the degree program, and that by a chance encounter on the ski slopes in Colorado.

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Haley had no intentions of dating at all in school. On the other hand, Gavin had somehow ended up with a reputation as a playboy. It was undeserved, but he didn’t it much. They had to overcome a lot of wrong impressions just to get to know each other. Then came some impressive obstacles. It took a lot of time for those obstacles to be overcome. That is what drew me into the story. How they overcame and resolved those differences is what makes this story a great read.

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My favorite parts of the story have to do with the dogs Daisy and Bojangles. They added quite a bit of humor and dimension to the running storyline, especially for Haley who was not really a dog lover at the beginning of the book. While the dog element is not prominent in the story arc, it is still an important element. That is great for all dog lovers.

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Christmas by the Sea: A Surf’s Up Novella by Beth Wiseman ~ Review

Christmas by the Sea pic

Christmas by the Sea: A Surf’s Up Novella by Beth Wiseman

Personally, I loved this story. But I have to add a warning to anyone who may have been unfavorably affected by some of the recent hurricanes and storms, this may be a story that could trigger unhappy memories or worse. If that’s true for you, then don’t attempt to read this story until you’re ready. The device used in this story is a hurricane that affects two main characters in and around Galveston, Texas.

Parker McIntyre was trapped, shoved up against a concrete pillar and somehow unable to get his leg free of whatever was crushing it. The water was creeping up his chest as darkness began to encroach. He figured he was going to die here. He thought about his 4 year old son and began to pray.

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At the last moment, he saw a person come to his aid. Alex Hansen had been to the hospital to visit her father. She knew he had very little time left. By the time she headed home, this unusual hurricane in November was whipping up serious strength. Then she saw someone out in the water. The head was barely visible in the gloom. She immediately called for help dialing 911. Then she plunged into the deepening water. She hoped she could get to him in time!

It was a struggle, but Alex had Parker’s head above water by the time rescue units were there to help. The men took Parker to the hospital, and Alex to her friend’s home. After that, she tried to find him, but couldn’t. She figured she was not supposed to see him again. The same was true for Parker. Parker wanted to find Alex again to thank her for saving his life. But without her last name, he didn’t know how to find her.

As I mentioned before, this is such a great short read. It only took me a few hours to read it, but it was well worth it. I know this is part of a series by Beth Wiseman, but I haven’t read any of the other stories in the series. It stands alone very well. It is packed full of action and I could barely put the book down once I started reading it.

My favorite part is the ending, which I’m not going to tell you about. You are just going to have to read this for yourself. My only regret about this book is that the story isn’t longer and more developed. But this short story has convinced me to seek out this author and try reading some of her other books.

 

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The Deuce (Midtown Blue Book 1) by F.P. Lione ~ Review

The Deuce pic

The Deuce (Midtown Blue Book 1) by F.P. Lione

CKN Christian Publishing did readers a favor by bringing this book to our attention. Not too long ago I reviewed another book by F.P. Lione, which by the way is a writing team, not a single author. It’s apparent the team loves to use New York City as a setting. So first of all, if you are a country loving person like me, don’t turn away from the book because of this. Give it a fair chance. It is well worth it.

Second, if you are a person who easily gets lost in the trees for the forest, you may struggle a little bit with the beginning half of the book. There are a lot of details, but if you take a moment and look at the big picture, there is a good reason for this. The first half of the book sets the scene, the premise, and the background of the main character, Tony Cavalucci, a 10-year veteran NYPD cop. The reason I say this is because this writing team demonstrates a rare quality I do not find often in the writing industry, in my opinion. Wannabe writers often hear the warning, “show, don’t tell.” In other words, don’t just tell the reader what you want them to know, show them. Make it an experience. Most writers I know try really hard to do this, but it isn’t easy to accomplish. Well, if you want to see how it is done, then read this book. But you must read it all the way through to the end without judgment to understand the point of the story. I’m afraid many readers just won’t get it. The pace is not the breakneck speed we are used to when watching crime and cop shows on television. It tends to move more slowly at first, picking up the pace mid way. It could possibly be too easy to get lost in the details and miss the crux of the matter.

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Thirdly, if you love police procedurals, this is a story you’ll enjoy. At the very least, the first half of the book is about the daily life and matters during the main character’s patrol with his partner Joe. Just be aware this is not written to give you an adrenaline rush. What I appreciate about this part of the book is that it is gritty and nasty, but not crude or graphic. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s family reading, but it is a good clean read without filth. The point however in this first section is that you feel what Tony feels about his life. I think the authors did a remarkable job in portraying the despair and futility that hits Tony day after day. It is written in such a way that the reader is meant to feel this with him. If you don’t, you may miss the crucial turning point for this good cop in the second half of the book.

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I won’t say much about the turning point of this story except to say that it takes time and it’s subtle. It’s not as easy as turning Tony from sour to saint. Not at all. In fact, the way the story ends is much more true to life than most Christian fiction books I read. Instead of a definitive end, you could say that at the conclusion of the book you feel that this is just the beginning for Tony. I felt that way and thought to myself, “I would definitely want to read more.” So if the hints are true, and this is a series, then I’ll be very happy to read more. I hope you will too when you read this book.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from CKN Christian Publishing on behalf of the author. I was not required to write a review, positive or otherwise. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

The Deuce Quote4

 

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A Bleu Streak Christmas by T.I. Lowe ~ Review

A Bleu Streak Christmas pic

A Bleu Streak Christmas by T.I. Lowe

A Bleu Streak Christmas is the second book of a three book series. I have read this book without the benefit of reading either of the other books of this series, which I intend to do as soon as possible. I could tell there was some back story with one of the main characters, Maverick King, one of the King twins. In fact, several times there were references to a back story, but in spite of that, the book easily stood alone as its own story. Once I read it however, and found it was part of a series, I definitely wanted to read the other two parts.

Bleu Streak is a rock band with shaky beginnings. But by the time this book starts, they are established and raring to go on tour. Some of the members of the band are married with children. It doesn’t seem to hinder them from traveling, although it has slowed them down a bit. In fact, one of the wives is very pregnant, and will not be able to perform her usual jobs while traveling, so the band decided to hire a personal assistant to the manager. They hired Izzy Walker. As soon as Mave sees her, sparks start to fly. Unlike the “plastic women” he is used to, those that hang around rock stars, she doesn’t seem impressed with him. In fact, she shies away from him most of the time. So now he is intrigued.

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Interestingly, this book is written in the first person. Half the story is from Mave’s point of view, while the other half is from Izzy’s point of view. Don’t expect formal language; this is not historical fiction. They talk in the moment, in the way you would expect someone in that age group to talk or to think. I’m not usually very comfortable with first person, but the author does this pretty well. It felt authentic and helped me gain a fresh point of view.

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What I enjoyed most about this book were the pranks all the band members would play on each other. They were a family, with that family feel you get when you are comfortable in your skin and with each other. So the pranks were funny and downright creative. There were a lot of great belly laugh moments. I completely enjoyed this book, and that made the reading go quickly. It is supposed to be a novella, but it had the feel of a full length book. I felt I left the story knowing something of the experience of members of a band on tour. In the end, I couldn’t help but be impressed with the fibre of this group of guys. Big hearted, kind, caring, bumbling, funny, but family. Nicely done, T.I. Lowe.

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Merry Kisses A Riverbend Romance Novella 5 by Valerie Comer ~ Review

Merry Kisses A Riverbend Romance Novella 5 by Valerie Comer

Merry Kisses A Riverbend Romance Novella 5 by Valerie Comer

This is a new author to me, but I did enjoy this book very much. So much, in fact, that I read it twice in a row, back to back. What attracted me to the story most was the element of conflict between the two prominent characters, Sonya Simmons and Heath Collins. I have to say that the topic of interest was one I hadn’t read in other books before. I think it will be especially interesting to those who are young Christian parents.

I enjoy novellas. They are unique because the story usually remains focused on a single topic. Novellas can be used by authors as prequels, sequels, as a way to supplement a series with characters that are on the peripheral, or use a familiar setting but with entirely new characters. Because a novella is shorter, you can read it in just a few hours. But what I like most is that it is a way to showcase an author’s ability to delve into some great characterization in a short period of time. A few are successful at growing their characters satisfactorily. This author has that talent. Because of the interesting topic the main characters have conflict over, we become privvy to some interesting thought processes and provoking ideas.

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Another element of the story I enjoyed was the great humor the author employed when Sonya and Heath are together. The situation Sonya got into at the beginning of the story was funny and yet serious at the same time. And Heath was an entirely likeable guy. He didn’t mean to get Sonya into trouble, and his efforts to ingratiate himself with Sonya were humorous.

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Third, I just enjoy Christmas stories. Period. I found the situation of conflict between the two that included some interesting aspects about Christmas thought provoking and plausible, since I used to be a young parent once and struggled with some elements of the holidays too. I recommend this book, especially if you enjoy Christmas novellas.

 

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Torn: The Salzburg Saga Book 2 by D.U. Okwonko ~ Review

Torn pic

Torn: The Salzburg Saga Book 2 by D.U. Okwondo

The three books in this Saga basically form one continuous story. You will want to read these books back to back because of that. There is no segue. The first story stops abruptly and the next one continues. Torn is the second story in the series. The name is apropos because the second novel becomes the dynamic relationship interplay between the survivors of the plane crash in the frozen mountains of Austria that was introduced to us in Book one.

In this second book, friendships fray under the strain of waiting for rescue and starvation; relationships in one family are going all wrong; new revelations crop up that take everyone by surprise; and tension mounts with the looming threat of death of one of the survivors suffering from hypothermia.

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Book one was packed with action while book 2 is contemplative. It’s a soap opera on steroids when veneers slip after being packed into a tight space together, wearing on the nerves. Tension and revelations take the reader to a whole new level of suspense. Book one sets up the situation, and Book 2 develops it and cranks it up a notch.

To me, this is all great writing. In addition, you now have another point of view when you add Nina’s sister’s perspective. She is home, waiting to hear from her sister, when she learns about the crash. Her brothers come home from their travels to sit with Hazel and the tension mounts as they wait to hear from rescuers’ efforts.

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Again, like book one, I just couldn’t put this book down. I wanted to read it from one end to the other. And again, like the first book, the ending is abrupt, without any solid resolution. This is irritating to me, but when we finally get all three books together, it will read as one book seamlessly. All I can say is that I hope I don’t have to wait very long.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from AXP Books on behalf of the author. I was not required to write a review, positive or otherwise. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Spiral: The Salzburg Saga Book 1 by D.U. Okonkwo ~ Review

Spiral pic

Spiral: The Salzburg Saga Book 1 by D.U. Okonkwo

The three books in this Saga basically form one continuous story. You will want to read these books back to back because of that. There is no segue. The first story stops abruptly and the next one continues. The book Spiral is aptly named. A normal situation where three young lawyers take a corporate jet sponsored by their largest client to participate in a networking event goes all wrong very quickly once they get into the air.

The story is written from basically two points of view, that of Jake’s, the pilot of the jet aircraft, and that of Nina, one of the lawyers in the group. As the situation on the jet becomes tense, we get introduced to all the characters as they interact with each other. Each person has a history which is revealed as the adventure continues and which keeps this event popping with intrigue and interest.

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There are two major settings: on board the aircraft and on the ground in the mountains of Austria after the jet crashed. The story line keeps us focused on the effort to survive a horrible situation. And while they are just trying to survive, the situation just continues to spiral out of control, getting worse and worse as time lapses. By the end of this first tome, two of the party have died.

There is continuous action in this first book. The pace is rapid enough to keep you reading without being able to put the book down. The author writes an effective buildup to the tension among the group, since there are people to blame and people who are innocent bystanders. At first, it’s unclear exactly who is who. That type of suspense propels the reader right into the next book.

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The author is very effective in building suspense slowly and painfully. I just couldn’t put this book down once I got started. I was immensely grateful that both books were in the same volume so that I could proceed to part 2 of the saga.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from AXP Books on behalf of the author. I was not required to write a review, positive or otherwise. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

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