Wednesday, 28 January 2015


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With his twenty-first birthday, 
Hyam begins a journey that will lead him to his destiny—or his doom.

Hyam has always shown a remarkable ability to master languages, even those left unspoken for a thousand years.  But now the shadow of suspicion that was cast upon him as a child prodigy at Long Hall is lengthening, and he must keep his identity hidden—or face annihilation.

As Hyam’s mother slips toward death, she implores him to return to Long Hall before he settles down to farm his land.  This journey born from duty becomes an impassioned quest for the truth.  War is coming swiftly, and Hyam must rely upon his newfound powers and the friends he meets along the way in order to unravel the puzzling past and ensure that he—and the realm—will have a future.


I’m a facts kind-of-girl.  I like reading stories and watching movies that are plausible – based on events that could actually happen (except when it comes to superheroes – I do love those Marvel movies!).  As such, I rarely pick up a fantasy novel.  Ones that I have read in the past often lose me in pages and pages of preamble about imaginary worlds, beings, wizards, and confusing magical spells where anything goes, and to my logical mind – nothing makes sense.

Given the above, you may be wondering, why on earth did I pick up Emissary?  There were a few reasons.  I have a friend who is a die-hard fantasy reader where her top-five favourite books are stories revolving around realms, wizards, dragons, and magic.  Whenever we talk books, she undoubtedly will bring up one of those novels, and encourage me to read the newest favourite.  As she is head over heels in love with fantasy, I felt it was time to give this genre another shot.

Another reason is the author.  Thomas Locke is a pseudonym for Davis Bunn, and I’ve read a few of Mr. Bunn’s novels (The Patmos Deception and Rare Earth) and have really enjoyed them.  So, I determined that if Mr. Bunn could write such fantastic adventure stories, his fantasy work probably wouldn’t be half bad.

I was so right.  Emissary promises an epic journey and it fulfills.  I was swept up in Hyam's quest for his true heritage, that eventually leads him to a brewing battle of epic proportions between good v. evil.  Amongst the battles between ghouls and men, learning about the worlds of the Ashanta, Elves, etc., I found myself enjoying this tale of adventure, magic, action, and self-discovery.  It was (dare I say it) refreshing!  So much so that I could relate to this when nearing the end of the novel:

If there are any readers out there who, like me, have been putting off “going over to the dark side” and reading a fantasy novel because it just doesn’t jive with your analytical, realist minds – give Emissary a try.  You’ll be glad you did!

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.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

The Secret of Pembrooke Park

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Abigail Foster is the practical daughter.  She fears she will end up a spinster, especially as she has little dowry, and the one man she thought might marry her seems to have fallen for her younger, prettier sister.

Facing financial ruin, Abigail and her father search for more affordable lodgings, until a strange solicitor arrives with an astounding offer:  the use of a distant manor house abandoned for eighteen years.  The Fosters journey to imposing Pembrooke Park and are startled to find it entombed as it was abruptly left:  tea cups encrusted with dry tea, moth-eaten clothes in wardrobes, a doll`s house left mid-play…

The handsome local curate welcomes them, but though he and his family seem acquainted with the manor`s past, the only information they offer is a stern warning:  Beware trespassers drawn by rumors that Pembrooke Park contains a secret room filled with treasure.

This catches Abigail`s attention.  Hoping to restore her family`s finance—and her dowry—Abigail looks for this supposed treasure.  But eerie sounds at night and footprints in the dust reveal she isn`t the only one secretly searching the house.

Then Abigail begins receiving anonymous letters, containing clues about the hidden room and startling discoveries about the past.

As old friends and new foes come calling at Pembrooke Park, secrets come to light.  Will Abigail find the treasure and the love she seeks…or very real danger? 


I always thought it would be the neatest thing to move into an older, historical house and explore each and every room, all the while imagining the events that occurred in each one.  Part of the appeal would be searching for any “hidden rooms” holding secrets of times past…I get delicious goosebumps just thinking about it!

Pembrooke Park holds plenty of secrets – this 450 page plus novel attests to that.  But do not be daunted by the length of the novel, for not once did I find it drag.  In fact, it was just the opposite.  Each chapter was a slight acceleration to the climax as small pieces of the mystery are discovered throughout the story, building up to the grand finale.  Rich in detail, The Secret of Pembrooke Park will appeal to a wide variety of readers.  Those who are a fan of historical fiction, mystery, romance, and most definitely Jane Austen, will love this masterpiece.   I have read three other Julie Klassen novels (also excellent) – The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, The Tutor’s Daughter, and The Dance Master, and this is my favourite of them all.

Now I just wish I had an old manor house to explore!

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.


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Katariina Rosenblatt was a lonely and abused young girl, yearning to be loved, wanting attention.  That made her the perfect target.  On an ordinary day, she met a confident young woman—someone Kat wished she could be like—who pretended to be a friend while slowly luring her into a child trafficking ring.  A cycle of false friendships, threats, drugs, and violence kept her trapped.

As Kat shares her harrowing experiences, her ultimate escape, and her passionate efforts to now free other victims, you’ll see that not only is sex trafficking happening frighteningly close to home—it’s also something that can be stopped.  Stolen is a warning, a celebration of survival, and a beacon of hope that will inspire you.


For many people, when they think of human trafficking, they see it happening in third world countries where corruption is rampant.  What doesn’t come to mind is their own backyard – their town, their country.  Tragedies always happen anywhere but home, right?


Stolen nixes those myths right from the first chapter.  Human trafficking is something that can happen so easily, it is downright frightening.  Children and teens who are lonely, abused, addicted to drugs, and/or who do not have a good family presence are especially vulnerable.  Sex traffickers appeal to their victims’ desire to be loved and wanted by pulling them into a false sense of security and family, enabling their drug addiction (or fostering a new one), and finally, trapping them into a life of slavery. 

Stolen is raw and unflinching in its portrayal of the horrible life of a trafficking victim.  Katariina pulls no punches as she chronicles her cycle of sexual abuse, drug addiction, and the despair of a life believing you are no one.  Fortunately for Katariina, she is eventually able to break free. 

Now Katariina is joining others in speaking out and creating awareness of human trafficking.  Her organization, There Is H.O.P.E For Me ( was founded in order to work directly with those who have been trafficked, to provide them with a way out.

Human trafficking is a huge money-maker, and the only way to stop it is if more people speak out against it.  Together, we can create more awareness of human trafficking and work towards eradicating it, and in the interim, help its victims.

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

Sunday, 11 January 2015

A Most Inconvenient Marriage

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With few options of her own, nurse Abigail Stuart agrees to marry her patient, a gravely wounded soldier calling himself Jeremiah Calhoun.  They arrange a quick ceremony before he dies, giving Abigail the rights to his Ozark farm and giving Jeremiah the peace of knowing someone will care for his ailing sister after he’s gone—a practical solution for both of them.

After the war, Abigail fulfills her side of the bargain—until the real Jeremiah Calhoun shows up, injured but definitely alive, and wastes no time in challenging Abigail’s story.  Abigail is flummoxed.  After months of claiming to be his widow, how can she explain that she’s never seen this Jeremiah Calhoun before?  How can she convince him that she isn’t trying to steal his farm?  And will she find a way to stay, even though this practical arrangement has turned into a most inconvenient marriage?


What an awkward situation Abigail lands herself in.  While Abigail knows she did nothing wrong, how exactly do can she prove she married Jeremiah when he shows up on the farm very much alive?  And if he truly is Jeremiah Calhoun, who did she marry?  It’s enough to make a girl bury her head in shame and run the other way.  But not Abigail Stuart.  With nowhere else to go, and time and money already invested in Jeremiah’s farm, she is determined to stay exactly where she is.

Now that the war is over, Jeremiah’s first and foremost priority in life is to look after his family, and then marry his sweetheart, Laurel.  With Abigail thrown into the mix, his plans for marriage to Laurel aren’t looking too promising, and a new suitor is further frustrating his attempts to make Laurel his wife.  In the meantime, Abigail’s nursing skills and ample experience on a horse farm, along with her other qualities, quickly become valuable assets on his farm, causing him to look at her more than once, and making him as confused as ever.

Threats of bushwhackers and continuing division between the townspeople because of the war add tension to the backdrop of this post-Civil War novel.  With a little romance thrown in, this novel came out a winner that I happily recommend.

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

Love Unexpected

Back Cover

All Emma Chambers ever wanted was a home, but when her steamboat sinks just outside Presque Isle, she’s left destitute with no place to stay.

An unlikely solution arises when the lighthouse keeper arrives in town.  He’s just lost his wife and is having a difficult time caring for his child.  So a traveling preacher gets the idea that the keeper and Emma might be the answer to each other’s dilemma.  After a hasty marriage, she finds herself heading to the lighthouse with this handsome but quiet stranger.  Nothing in her aimless life, though, has prepared her for parenting a rambunctious toddler, as well as managing a household.

Emma soon suspects Patrick may be hiding something from her, and then she hears a disturbing rumor about the circumstances surrounding his late wife’s death.  It seems as if her wish for a home and family of her own could end up leading her once more into turbulent waters.


The other night  I was curled up on the couch nursing a hot cup of tea and a bad cold.  But in the midst of my aching head, sore eyes, and runny nose, I was deeply engrossed in Love Unexpected.  Its sweeping tale of a damsel in distress, rescued by a handsome lighthouse keeper, followed by a marriage of convenience, and dogged by whispers of past sins and secrets kept me enthralled.  Like a carrot in front of the horse, Jody Hedlund drew me from page to page, and chapter to chapter in this fantastic historical novel, the first in her “Beacons of Hope” series. 

I loved the history behind the lighthouses and their keepers.  Whenever I pass by a historic landmark, my mind immediately jumps to “I wonder who lived there?” and I imagine a grand story of love given and lost, happiness and tragedy, and so on.  In Love Unexpected, Jody Hedlund fashions a beautiful, and at times thrilling, story that will cause me to never look at a lighthouse the same again. 

An awesome novel to kick-start what is bound to be an unforgettable new series.

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