Monday, 15 March 2021

All That We Carried


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Ten years ago, sisters Olivia and Melanie Greene were on a hiking trip when their parents were in a fatal car accident.  They haven't seen each other since the funeral.  Olivia coped with the loss by plunging herself into law school, work, and a materialist view of the world - what you see is what you get, and that's all you get.  Melanie dropped out of college and developed an online life coaching business around her DIY spirituality - a little of this, a little of that, whatever makes you happy.

Now, at Melanie's insistence (and against Olivia's better judgment), they are embarking on a hike in the Porcupine Mountains of Michigan's Upper Peninsula.  In this remote wilderness they'll face their deepest fears, question their most dearly held beliefs, and begin to see that perhaps the best way forward is the one way they had never considered.


All That We Carried is a moving story about two estranged sisters on a hiking trip of a lifetime.  Both broken by the tragic deaths of their parents, they've been trying to cope in their own unique ways, yearning for healing amidst the grief. Their past separated them, but ends up bringing them together as they explore the Porcupine Mountains for a chance to reestablish a sisterly connection. 

I was greatly touched by this story as it is an equally emotional and spiritual experience. As a reader peeking into these two sisters' lives, you want nothing more than to erase the hidden hurts and restore their relationship.  Melanie and Olivia are very real, very down-to-earth characters that are struggling with the circumstances of their parents' deaths and the resulting consequences of it. The only thing I would have wished to see more is a stronger resolution to their spiritual journey ending in the hope to be found in Jesus.  I also have questions about a mysterious character in the story, but perhaps the ambiguity of the individual is also part of the enthralling nature of the story.  Not all ends are tied up in a neat bow, but that is where the reader's imagination can take over.

I truly loved this beautiful story!

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  

Saturday, 6 February 2021

Fight Your Fears

Back Cover

We all have fears, and many of us struggle with very real anxiety caused by our fears.  Fears about the future; fears about health, job, and family; fears about inadequacy and failure; fears about how much fear itself seems to affect our decisions, plans, and growth in this life.  In his Word God commands us not to be afraid, but how is this possible?

Kristen Wetherell is in the fight with you, day-by-day making strides in this battle.  In Fight Your Fears she carefully explores and unpacks ten of God's great and previous promises, equipping you with truth and practical tools to help you overcome the fears and anxious thoughts that rob you of your joy. 


Chock full of spiritual truths, Fight Your Fears is a timely book.  As the world is still in the throes of a pandemic, fear and anxiety have become very real fights for many people regardless of age, gender, geographic location, or economic position.  In Fight Your Fears, Kristen unpacks undeniable truths about God's unchanging character and the promises He has made to His children.  Whether you fear not being in control, not meeting all your (or your family's) needs, evil, loneliness, failure, man, or even death - this book not only encourages you, but challenges you to look to Christ, who is the author and finisher of our faith, the source of the great hope we have in this world.  

I know I will be rereading this book many times as each chapter is just jam-packed with wisdom, scripture, and food for the heart, soul, and mind.  A fantastic read that I thoroughly enjoyed!

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  

Tuesday, 26 January 2021


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Zoe Johnson has spent most of her life living in the shadows, never drawing attention to herself, never investing in people or places.  But when a wide-eyed, bedraggled teenager with no memory walks into the diner where Zoe works, everything changes.

Against her better judgment, Zoe, who has been trying to outrun her own painful memories of the past, finds herself attempting to help a girl who doesn't seem to have any past at all.  With little warning, they must follow the only sure thing they know: a woman hundreds of miles away will either save them...or be the last person to see them alive.


Nine is an action-packed read: part thriller, part science fiction, part conspiracy, and part... something unlike I've ever read before!  Kudos to Rachelle Dekker for her unmistakable writing talent - she is truly an incredible story-teller.  I found myself re-reading phrases and paragraphs for the pure joy of appreciating her way with words. Nine took me on a crazy ride, and I couldn't help but be drawn into this complex, multi-faceted story following Zoe and Lucy: two young ladies who struggle with their identities and how they are to view themselves.  Both struggle with a crippling past and the journey they embark on is their hope for a better future - if they stay alive long enough to see that future.

I really dislike having to write this, but I unfortunately encountered a couple drawbacks.  The body count in this novel is high.  Like really, really high.  I'm sure it could rival any secular R-rated action movies out there on the market. I struggled over the cold, calculating scenes detailing torture and ruthless killings.  It felt extremely out of place for a "Christian Fiction" novel, and wasn't quite what I was expecting.  Which leads me to the second drawback: a distinct lack of faith element in the story.  Other than a cringe-worthy flippant remark about only Jesus being able to enter a locked room, and references to a cult society where Christianity was skewed in terrible ways, there is no mention of God at all in the book.  The characters in the story are asked to change who they are, but through their own power, without seeking Christ and viewing his redemptive work on the cross as the only power to save (something I was hoping for in a Christian fiction novel, so it was disappointing not to see that theme incorporated into the story).  

All in all, Nine is a well-written suspense novel packed full of cliff-hanger moments. If you want a wild ride centered around a desperate fight between good and evil, then this is the book for you.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  

Sunday, 17 January 2021

Something Worth Doing


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In 1853, Abigail Scott was a nineteen-year-old school teacher in Oregon Territory when she married Ben Duniway.  Marriage meant giving up on teaching, but Abigail always believed she was meant to be more than a good wife and mother.  When Abigail becomes the primary breadwinner for her growing family, what she sees as a working woman appalls her - and prompts her to devote her life to fighting for the rights of women, including the right to vote.

Based on a true story, Something Worth Doing will resonate with modern women who still grapple with the pull between career and family, finding their place in the public sphere, and dealing with frustrations and prejudices when competing in male-dominated spaces.


Something Worth Doing is an eye-opening read into a woman's place in society during the 1800s - a time when a woman was not allowed to own property, have jobs outside of the home if they are married (and were only granted certain types of employment if they were  unmarried), or even vote in elections.  The home was deemed to be the only proper place for a woman, thereby pushing parents to secure successful marriages for their daughters.  A woman's value as a human being with equal rights, was downright scorned in society where only men could make important decisions.  

Abigail Scott Duniway had enough of the prejudices towards herself and other women in society and decided to do something about it.  So began a life-long pursuit of equal rights and opportunities for women, particularly, the right to vote in elections.  Over the course of her life, she encountered many trials and sorrows, but equally many successes, both in her business ventures, and also in her quest for the right to vote.  This novel doesn't pull any punches in detailing those ups and downs in her life, including strained interactions with her family.  

Abigail was a force to be reckoned with.  She was a wife, farmer, rancher, business owner, newspaperwoman, land speculator, mother of six, author, etc., among other titles.  It is mind-blowing the amount of accomplishments she was able to achieve in her lifetime!  All that she put her hand too received 100% of her grit and determination.  I admire Abigail for her tenacity and ability to have a razor sharp focus on her pursuits.  

However, an individual's strength can also become their greatest weakness, and that is seen no clearer than in Abigail's life.  Abigail, in her fight for equal rights, often pushed the priorities of her family and husband to the background.  What was most important to her was her journey and her dream for the right to vote - even to the detriment of her own family and husband's dreams.  Constantly her children and her husband were pushed aside to the benefit of her own pursuits; from leaving home for 10 months at a time to embark on speaking tours around the States to abandoning her dying child for another speaking event.  It is sad that in her fight for equal rights in the home (which her husband was generally rather accepting and supportive of), it made no difference to her if that meant walking over her own husband's dreams or desires or the needs of her children to have their mother present while growing up.  

I can't say I felt an immediate kinship to Abigail; particularly due to the treatment of her husband and children. She was willing to pursue her dream at all costs - no matter the sacrifice, bringing up the age-old question: Does the end justify the means?  It was something I found difficult to reconcile, particularly given the lack of faith element in her story.

In the end, no one can deny the impact she had on society and the suffragist movement.  She was instrumental in establishing the right for women to vote in America and pursued "Something Worth Doing" with every fiber of her being.  

Brimming with historical facts, Something Worth Doing is a interesting look into the life of Abigail Scott Duniway and the difficult journey for women's right to vote.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  

Monday, 4 January 2021

Acceptable Risk


Back Cover

For one journalist, the story of a lifetime is hitting too close to home.

Sarah Denning is a military journalist with the Army in the Middle East when she is taken hostage.  When former Army Ranger Gavin Black is asked by his old unit commander - Sarah's imposing father - to plan an extremely risky rescue, he reluctantly agrees and successfully executes it.

Back in the US, Sarah is livid when she's discharged on a false psychiatric evaluation and vows to return to the Army.  Until she learns of her brother's suicide.  Unable to believe her brother would do such a thing, she puts her plans on hold and enlists Gavin to help her discover the truth.  What they uncover may be the biggest story of Sarah's career - if she can survive long enough to write it.


Acceptable Risk is another fast-paced suspense novel by veteran author, Lynette Eason.  Nearly every chapter had an explosive scene that built the tension to a final, nail-biting climax.  The complexity of Sarah Denning's character and back story enhanced the suspense as she not only was dealing with threats on her own life and coming to terms with her brother's suicide, but also working through her broken relationship with her father, a man, who through the majority of her life, seemingly wanted nothing to do with her.  The fractured pieces of her story were a lot to unpack in a single novel, but the author rose up to this task quite admirably.  While the story motored along with the speed of a racing Corvette, the character growth and development moved at a believable tempo.  

It is important to note that it is a suspense novel and it does deal with the difficult subject matter of suicide.  It can make for a dark story which can make it difficult to read at times.  I wouldn't say Acceptable Risk is one of my most enjoyable, relaxing reads, but it is still a well-written novel with an complex mystery.  I'm interested to see what is next in the Danger Never Sleeps series as book three is set to come out soon!

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  

A Haven for Her Heart

Back Cover

Upon her release from a woman's reformatory in 1941 Toronto, Olivia Rosetti wants nothing more than to forget the horrors of her time there and return to normal.  But with her family unwilling to forgive and employers wary of hiring her, she quickly ends up desperate and homeless - until a chance encounter with well-to-do widow Ruth Bennington.  The two discover they share a painful history and together decide to open a maternity home for troubled women.

Greek widower Darius Reed is determined protect his daughter from the prejudice that killed her mother and hopes to marry into a prominent Toronto family.  But when his employer orders him to persuade Ruth Bennington to sell them her property, Darius soon becomes conflicted over his feelings about the home and his attraction to Olivia. 

Despite finding fulfilment in her work, Olivia must fight not only bitter memories and the community's reaction to their mission, but also feelings for the man who is trying to close her home.  Can love prove stronger than prejudice and societal pressures, or will past mistakes destroy her chance at true happiness?


Wow.  What a beautiful story of redemption, love, and grace.  A Haven for Her Heart is an incredible story around Olivia Rosetti, a woman who is beaten down by society and thrown into jail by her own family for having a child out of wedlock.  While Olivia acknowledges her mistakes, her family and community are not so quick to extend forgiveness, leaving her an outcast. Homeless and downtrodden, Olivia seeks refuge at a church, which leads her to meeting Ruth Bennington, who doesn't hesitate to extend a helping hand and a home for Olivia.  A Haven for Her Heart is more than just about Olivia's journey, it's also about the friendship that forms between Olivia and Ruth and their vision of helping young mothers in need.

Darius Reed gets more than he bargained for when he is tasked with helping his boss purchase the Bennington property.  While he initially thought he would just have to employ mathematics and reason to persuade Ruth Bennington to sell, his negotiations turn far more complex by seeing firsthand how the home is helping women in trouble.  He is also captured by the beautiful Olivia, who is altogether strong and vulnerable, with eyes that show a deep heartbreak.  The question is whether he will sacrifice his job and future of marrying into a prominent family for a venture that has drawn the scorn of local businessmen and neighbours and a beautiful Italian girl with a sorrowful past.

Olivia's story, while fictionalized, was equally heartbreaking and inspiring.  Heartbreaking as I'm sure there have been (and will continue to be) many women in similar circumstances as Olivia, someone who, despite a repentant heart, is ostracized from family, friends, and even church for having a child out of wedlock. It is unfathomable to even think that at one time, Canada had a law to force the incarceration of unmarried, pregnant women, and further still, that while these women were in the "Reformatory", they were subjected to cruel and terrible medical experiments. So many lives were broken because of this law, circumstances of which can affect more than one generation.

I also said that Olivia's story was inspiring.  Olivia used a terrible experience to open her heart to others who were just like her.  She was given the opportunity to open up a home, a safe haven, for women in trouble. She was not only able to provide for their physical needs, but emotional and spiritual as well by being a witness of God's transforming love and grace.  

May A Haven for Her Heart inspire us all to take hold of God's grace and goodness and pour out His love into the lives of each and every one around us.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  

The Thief of Blackfriars Lane


Radical. Bold. Fearless.

Sometimes there’s a fine line between a criminal and a saint…
but on which side of the line is the Thief of Blackfriar’s Lane?

Constable Jackson Forge is determined to make the world a better place. But the streets of Victorian London are Kit Turner’s domain, a self-proclaimed Robin Hood who runs a crew that acquires money the old-fashioned way—conning those with wealth to give to those who don’t.

When a local cab driver goes missing, it’s Jackson’s task to find the man…and the only way is by enlisting Kit Turner’s help. With Jackson’s job precariously close to termination, he convinces a reluctant Kit to help, reminding her that refusal means turning her in for thievery.

Neither of them realize the worst of their problems still await…


What a fun, rollicking adventure tale! Michelle Griep takes readers on a wild ride throughout the cobblestone streets of London in 1885 where pickpockets were aplenty and corruption rampant.

Constable Jackson Forge wants to right all the wrongs and haul to jail the thieves and criminals roaming the streets. He meets his match with Kit Turner, a crusader of the poor and downtrodden, who uses her wits and street smarts (along with a little bending of the rules) to buy food and medical supplies for those in need. Jackson and Kit join forces in an effort to solve a case of a missing jarvey. Jackson needs to find the man in order to save his career and Kit, with her reputation and savviness is able to get them wherever they need to go. Their investigation takes them all over the streets of London, even into the belly of the sewers as they leave no stone unturned in their quest to find the man and bring him back home to his anxious wife.

Full of fast-paced action (and more than one wrong turn), The Thief of Blackfriars Lane was easily one of my favourite, entertaining reads of 2020. Looking forward to more novels from this author!

Many thanks to Netgalley and Barbour Publishing Inc. for an advance copy of this book to read and provide my true and honest opinion thereof.