Saturday, 15 March 2014

Shadows of the Past

Back Cover

While she’s stalking the truth…
Someone is stalking her.

Psychology professor and criminal profiler Taylor Martin prides herself on being able to solve any crime, except the one she wants most desperately to solve—the disappearance of her father twenty years ago.  When she finally has a lead on his whereabouts, Taylor returns home to Logan Point, Mississippi, to investigate.  But as she works to uncover the truth, someone else will do almost anything to keep her from it.

Nick Sinclair pens mystery novels for a living, but the biggest mystery to him is how he can ever get over the death of his wife—a tragedy he believes he could have prevented.  Now that his estranged brother is the only family he has left, Nick sets out to find him.  But when he crosses paths with Taylor, all he seems to find is trouble.

Join the chase as Taylor and Nick search the murky shadows of the past for the keys to unlocking the present—and moving into a future they never imagined.


There are certain elements that I feel are needed in order to make a great mystery.  Of course, these elements are very subjective depending on the reader.  As I’m reading a novel, I mentally check off each thing in my mind (if it is there).  One of the first things I look for is the plot, for invariably, without the plot, the book dies a quick death.  For a mystery in particular, the plot has to be twisty, one that keeps you guessing, and leaves you completely surprised in the end. 

The next thing I look for is the suspense factor – the kind that leaves you staying up waaaay past bedtime in order to “finish the next chapter” because you just can’t put the book down and leave all these darned questions unanswered!

Finally, the characters – do they move the story along, are they likeable, are they unique (no generic, two-dimensional ones, please!), and do I feel invested in their lives (i.e. am I cheering for them?).

For Shadows of the Past, I felt that it had wonderful characters.  I loved the aspects of Taylor’s job, and it made me feel like I was in the middle of a Criminal Minds episode.  Nick was the perfect guy – strong, loyal.  However, the traumatic experience he endured with the death of his wife made my heart break for him.  And as this is a little bit of a romance novel, I have to comment that the chemistry between Nick and Taylor was, while tumultuous at first, became very sweet.

As far as the suspense, it had several dramatic and dangerous situations that amped up the story, but I felt there could have been more surprises and unexpected scenarios.  With the story, it was an excellent plot, but I found that there were too many clues scattered through the pages in that I had a pretty good suspicion of the guilty party before the big reveal, so that was a bit of a disappointment. 

In all, while it wasn’t the best mystery I’ve ever read, I found Shadows of the Past to be a solid novel, and I will be interested in reading book 2 in the “Logan Point” series.  Crossing my fingers that it’s about Taylor’s best friend, Livy!

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Prepared for a Purpose

Back Cover

870 children waited in fear as their elementary school rushed into lockdown mode.  As the nation faced yet another Sandy Hook story of tragedy, one woman rewrote the ending.

Yet the story doesn’t start with those first steps Michael Hill took into that Atlanta elementary school.  It starts with Antoinette Tuff, a woman who faced her own pain, hurt, and rejection, yet held onto grace, faith, and hope.  A hope that anchored her in the most high-stakes moments, a grace that allowed her to empathize with a hurting young man, and a faith that gave her the courage to love him back from the brink.

This is more than just the amazing account of tragedy averted.  It’s the evidence of what we can do when we allow ourselves to be used by God.  And it’s a story of how God uses all of our life experiences—the good and the bad—to prepare us for our own moment of divine purpose.


Antoinette Tuff did what many of us couldn’t.  She faced a man who was threatening the lives of hundreds of students and teachers with courage, poise, and calmness.   I know when I’m faced with tense and confrontational situations, my heart starts to race, thoughts sometimes turn cloudy, and my hands start to shake.  While I’ve never encountered situations with people wherein I felt physically in danger, I can only imagine what it would feel like to be in the position that Antoinette was in.

But Antoinette didn’t do it on her own power.  As she states, “…they weren’t my words.  It was God speaking through me.”  God was with her every step of the way, leading her, giving her the words to say, and telling her what to do.  Antoinette further illustrates that not only was God with her at that moment, but he was with her previously in her life, using her own circumstances – good and bad – to prepare her for this very moment.  She knew how to communicate with kids as she worked in a school and was a parent; she knew how to deal with difficult personalities and emotions through various people that filtered in and out of her life; and, she also had plenty of experience in soldiering through difficult, heart-rending circumstances, as she encountered many throughout her life.  I loved how she pointed out the key to it all - to trust God.  Antoinette started each day with her Bible and talking to Jesus.  When you set your day in a firm foundation, God will give you the strength to take whatever life throws at you.

An inspiring memoir, Prepared for a Purpose, is a story I will not easily forget.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Wildwood Creek

Back Cover

With love and loss tangled together, how was she to know where her life would lead?

Allie Kirkland has always heard the call of her father’s unfinished destiny.  When she’s offered a production assistant’s job on a docudrama filming in the hills near Moses Lake, Texas, the dream of following in her director-father’s footsteps suddenly seems within reach.  The re-enactment of the legendary frontier settlement of Wildwood is a first step into the film industry.  A summer on set in the wilderness is a small price to pay for a dream.

But in 1861, the real Wildwood held dangerous realities.  Town founder Harland Delavan held helpless residents, including young Irish schoolteacher Bonnie Rose, in an iron grip.  Mysterious disappearances led to myths and legends still retold in the region’s folk songs.  Eventually, the entire site was found abandoned.

When filming begins, strange connections surface between Allie and the teacher who disappeared over a century ago, and everyone in Wildwood—including Blake Fulton, Allie’s handsome neighbor on the film set—seems to be hiding secrets.  Allie doesn’t know whom she can trust.  If she can’t find the answers in time, history may repeat itself…with the most unthinkable results.


What a fresh new novel from Lisa Wingate!  From the first page, the story is shrouded is an eerie mystery that mingles the past with the present.  Caught in the middle is Allie Kirkland, who just wants to work as a production assistant, but gets more than she bargains for when she is pulled into the intrigue surrounding the life of Bonnie Rose and the inhabitants of Wildwood.  Add to that her headstrong friend, Kim, who likes to overstep boundaries, and a handsome, albeit secretive, neighbour, Blake, (who Allie can’t help but be attracted to), Allie Kirkland is in for one crazy summer.

With rich characters, some of which appear to have “hidden agendas”, and a story full of twists and turns, Wildwood Creek is a great book with a little bit of everything to satisfy a wide range of readers.  I loved the fact that it is a continuation of Lisa’s "Moses Lake" series, as there are a few reappearances of the town’s most colourful residents.  As with her previous novels, Wildwood Creek shows off Lisa’s lyrical writing and beautiful prose.  I particularly enjoyed the heightened sense of mystery that kept a strong thread of intrigue throughout the chapters.  Lisa’s stories just keep getting better and better!

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.