Full Steam Ahead by Karen Witemeyer

91TYPKfHcXL._SL1500_When Nicole Renard a rich and beautiful young woman meets Darius Thornton an obsessive and reclusive scientist, life gets very interesting.

Full Steam Ahead
by Karen Witemeyer
Bethany House
May 2014

Full Steam Ahead by Karen Witemeyer is another delightful story from this author. Nicole Renard is a beautiful, rich, and head strong young woman and when she returns home to Galveston, Texas, she meets Darius Thornton a reclusive and obsessive scientist. He was aboard the Louisiana when a boiler exploded causing the death of many passengers. Darius is determined to built a better boiler and this experimenting causes him to work for long periods of time not bothering to eat or sleep. When he meets Nicole, he thinks that she is just another pretty face but she convinces him that she could be a great help to him as his secretary for she could organize his notes and findings. Not only is she pretty but she has a head full of knowledge concerning shipping and boats and this helps her becomes an excellent assistant to Darius. Nicole’s father has never let her forget that she is not a son that can take over his shipping business.

The author did an excellent job in developing all the elements of the story. Nicole was so real that I could just see her doing all the things that she did to get herself into trouble. And Darius with all his experimental explosions was quite loveable in spite of his obsessiveness. Each time there was an explosion in the story, I felt as if I should duck and run for cover. The dialogue of Nicole and Darius gave me some good laughs as did all her antics. In addition to the romance, there was the mystery surrounding the Lafitte Dagger to keep one guessing. This story was a page turner and I could not stop reading until I finished the book in one sitting.

I highly recommend this book, especially if you are a fan of Karen Witemeyer.


Deanna Love Gottreu is a 75 year old widow and the mother of two wonderful sons who share second place in her life – with God being in first place. She spends her time reading or making quilts for charity. Her book reviews can also be read on her blog at www.buzzardsroostcrafts.com/blog.
This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Child of Mine by David & Beverly Lewis

91JHFxdboNL._SL1500_The infant daughter of Kelly Maines was kidnapped at birth, a victim of a black market adoption ring. Kelly has been searching for her daughter for eight years.

Child of Mine
by David & Beverly Lewis
Bethany House
June 2014

Child of Mine by David & Beverly Lewis is a wonderful story that touches the heart. Kelly Maines has been searching eight years for her daughter who was stolen at birth, a victim of a black market adoption ring. Finally, Kelly has a lead on a young girl that just may be her daughter. This young girl is the adopted niece of Jack Livingston and he has been rearing her since the death of her adopted parents. Jack travels a great deal in his work and when he is gone, Laura, an Amish nanny. cares for Natalie and loves her as if she were her own. Kelly arranges a chance meeting with Jack and this meeting leads to more meetings and Kelly realizes that she is falling for Jack and he is falling for her. This happens before she gets up enough courage to tell him the real reason they met. As Kelly gets to know Natalie she begins to wonder if Natalie is really her daughter.

The authors did an excellent job in the development of the story. All the characters were so well developed that I felt as if I knew each one of them personally. I especially loved Natalie, a little girl that could steal anyone’s heart. All the scenes were so real that I could feel myself being right in the middle of what was happening. Dialogue was great and I especially loved everything that was uttered by Natalie. There were many twists and turns in the story and these kept me guessing as to which woman was really Natalie’s mother. When the real mother was revealed I must admit that I was somewhat surprised. The story had a great ending with everyone being happy and content.

I recommend this book to anyone that loves a great story that has love, forgiveness, laughter, and tears.


Deanna Love Gottreu is a 75 year old widow and the mother of two wonderful sons who share second place in her life – with God being in first place. She spends her time reading or making quilts for charity. Her book reviews can also be read on her blog at www.buzzardsroostcrafts.com/blog.
This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Tattooed by Suzanne D. Williams

91fpGE2yJvL._SL1500_ Holden Lang was a rock drummer who had fame, fortune, and a body covered with tattoos. Through assumptions and misunderstandings, people thought that Charity Caswell was his wife.

Tattooed
by Suzanne D. Williams
Self Published
May 2014

Tattooed by Suzanne D. Williams was a great story and once I started I could not stop reading until I had finished the book at two in the morning. I don’t really care for tattoos but after reading a few pages I forgot about the tattoos. Holden Lang was a rock drummer and had fame, fortune, and a body covered with tattoos. His newest tattoo was “Laura” the name of the woman he hoped to marry. Laura refused his marriage proposal so he went to the tattoo artist who did all his tattoos and had her cover the name with another tattoo. Unfortunately, her ex-husband came into the shop and in a fit of jealously he threw Holden through the window of the building and then began beating him senseless. Charity Caswell just happened to be in the area looking at a site to rent for her bookstore when Holden came flying through the window. She called 911 and then all the mix ups began. The EMT thought she was Holden’s wife and that information spread through the hospital and then to the news media. At this point the story REALLY became interesting.

Even thought I do not care for tattoos or rock music, I think this may be my favorite story by Suzanne Williams. I was lost in the story from the very beginning. Her development of the characters of Holden and Charity were so well done that I felt as if we were good friends. All the other characters were also well developed and I felt as if I knew each one personally. Suzanne has a knack for scene development and I was feeling every punch that the ex-husband was giving Holden. I also experienced all the feelings of doubt and other misgivings that Charity was dealing with for they were so vividly written and I could almost feel the pain of Holden as he went through physical therapy. There were twists and turns in the story and one that dealt with Charity and her ex-fiance was a complete surprise. This was a story that touched my heart and showed how God is willing to heal the body, soul, and mind if we just ask, have faith, and believe. I liked the comment that we are “tattooed” on God’s heart. Never thought about tattoos that way. I hope there will be a sequel about Charity and Holden and I would also like to read a story about Julie and Eric.

I highly recommend this book to all that enjoy a great Christian love story and one that shows what the love of God can do in a person’s life.


Deanna Love Gottreu is a 75 year old widow and the mother of two wonderful sons who share second place in her life – with God being in first place. She spends her time reading or making quilts for charity. Her book reviews can also be read on her blog at www.buzzardsroostcrafts.com/blog.
This book was provided by the author as a review copy.

Crazy Stories Sane God by Turner

Crazy-Stories-Sane-GodThere are ton of really weird stories in the Bible. As a reader we have two options: ignore the weird and focus on the clear and easy or try to figure out the point of the weird.

Crazy Stories Sane God
by John Alan Turner
B&H Books
March 2014

Turner obviously goes with option two taking off the wall stories (literally in the case of the writing on the wall) and, starting with the fundamental idea that every story in the Bible is there for a reason, attempts to answer the question of value. What is the point? What are the Biblical authors trying to teach? The book deals with quite a few stories that readers of the Bible may have read or skimmed and then, devotion style, explains a possible reason for it being there.

We may be tempted to assume that all the stories would be from the Old Testament, but New Testament stories are included as well. So we get stories like talking donkeys, Moses’ son’s circumcision, Job and God’s debate, Ezekiel’s visions and so on next to stories like demons in pigs, and Ananais and Sapphira.

In most every instance, Turner does a good job of tying the story to the bigger revelation of God and how many of them are foreshadowing Christ and his life. Some, like Moses’ son’s foreskin, seem strained – I think he could have gone with propitiation via blood instead of covenant relationship, but I quibble.

This is a solid book that deals with tough stories and provides viable answers for parts of the Bible that most of us ignore. I recommend it.


@ashertopia is the Managing Editor of BookGateway.com. He is an avid reader and a lifetime learner. His favorite genres include science fiction, fantasy, as well as theology and Christian living. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Play It For Me by Suzanne D. Williams

91bemUr9AEL._SL1500_Niccolo Cavatelli is a well known cellist but he has cut himself off from the outside world and lives in isolation.

Play It For Me

by Suzanne D. Williams
Self Published
June 2014

Play It For Me by Suzanne D. Williams is the last book in the Italian Series and I for one hate to see the series end. Niccolo Cavatelli is a well known cellist but has cut himself off from the outside world. His entire world is music and even though he hears notes night and day, they do not contribute to the security he so strongly desires but adds to his isolation as does his lack of faith and trust in God. Nancy Dennis, a lady in her fifties, has stayed with Niccolo for the past three years. She is with him day and night, six days a week, and also travels with him when he has concerts. She is finally taking a week vacation and her niece, Kati Dennis, will be staying with Niccolo. There is an instant attraction between Niccolo and Kati and this leads him to write his greatest song but a thoughtless word from Kati sends Niccolo into a rage and it appears that he has lost the music.

Just as with the first four books in the series, Suzanne has done a great job in developing the characters. My heart went out to Niccolo and I wanted to help him regain his life and music. Kati was so very real also but when she uttered the words that sent Niccolo into a rage, I wanted to shake some sense into her. All the scenes were so descriptive that I felt as if I were in them along with the characters in the story. When Niccolo went into his destructive rage, I was almost holding my breath for I could not believe what he was doing. But his actions did make Kati stop and think and she realized what she had done to cause him to lose his temper so violently. There were several turns and twists to the plot line but everything worked out for the good in the end. There was a happy ending but it also contained a little sadness. This story was about Niccolo but it was also about the love and salvation of God for His children.

I highly recommend this book to all that enjoy a great Christian love story that also shows what the love of God can do in a person’s life.


Deanna Love Gottreu is a 75 year old widow and the mother of two wonderful sons who share second place in her life – with God being in first place. She spends her time reading or making quilts for charity. Her book reviews can also be read on her blog at www.buzzardsroostcrafts.com/blog.
This book was provided by the author as a review copy.

Through the Deep Waters by Kim Vogel Sawyer

91F3M0iSm+L._SL1500_Dinah Hubley is the daughter of a prostitute and she is determined to have a better life and starts her journey by leaving the brothel that has been her home since she was born.

Through the Deep Waters
by Kim Vogel Sawyer
Waterbrook Press
May 2014

Through the Deep Waters by Kim Vogel Sawyer is a story that is depressing at times but shows what the love of God can do to erase the shame in a life. Dinah Hubley has lived her entire life of seventeen years in the brothel where she was born to one of the prostitutes and has never known the true love of a mother. Dinah has one desire in life and that is to become a Harvey Girl which will allow her to work in an upscale hotel as a waitress. Unfortunately, Dinah is not old enough to be a Harvey Girl so she accepts the job of chambermaid in Mr. Harvey’s hotel in Florence, Kansas. Dinah’s co-workers try to be friends but she feels so much shame from the life she left behind that she simply cannot accept friendship when offered to her. Amos Ackerman, a chicken farmer with a handicapped leg, becomes interested in Dinah but she withdraws even more into herself. She feels that no one can love her because of the thing she had to do to survive before leaving Chicago for Kansas.

The author did an excellent job in developing all aspects of this story. The character of Dinah was so real that I was almost feeling shame right along with her. The other characters were very well developed and I felt as if I were right there with them trying to help Dinah. I especially liked Amos for he was such a kind, gentle,and loving man and I was almost in tears over the way that Dinah treated him at first when he was trying so hard to show her the love of Christ. All the scenes were so well described that I would end up feeling as if I had been working as a chambermaid all day. There were twists and turns in the plot line but they added a little suspense that made me wonder if Dinah would ever come to love herself and God.

I recommend this book to all who like a very good historical story that also shows how God can restore a life filled with shame.


Deanna Love Gottreu is a 75 year old widow and the mother of two wonderful sons who share second place in her life – with God being in first place. She spends her time reading or making quilts for charity. Her book reviews can also be read on her blog at www.buzzardsroostcrafts.com/blog.
This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Joyful by Shelley Shepard Gray

joyfulA young Amish couple gets a second chance at love in New York Times bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray’s final book in her Return to Sugarcreek series.

Joyful
Return to Sugarcreek 3
by Shelley Shepard Gray
Avon Inspire
August 2014

Randall Beiler is doing his best to put his family and the farm’s needs first, even forsaking love. But though he tries, Randall knows he needs help caring for his younger siblings and keeping the house together.

When his brother offers pretty Elizabeth Nolt a job taking care of the house and cooking for the family, Randall is furious—and guilty about the way he once broke Elizabeth’s heart. But when he learns that Elizabeth and her grandmother are struggling to make ends meet, he knows the offer, no matter how painful, is the right thing for everyone.

Elizabeth wants to refuse—to stay far away from the man who hurt her—but she needs the money. Though she vows to protect her heart, spending time in the Beiler household makes Elizabeth realize that, while she’s older and wiser, her love for Randall still burns strong.

Randal, too, seems to want something more. But does he want Elizabeth because he truly loves her—or because he needs a housekeeper? If Randall sincerely wants something more, he must find a way to show Elizabeth—or risk losing his chance at love forever.

My Thoughts:

This is book three in the, “Return to Sugarcreek” series. Don’t fret if you haven’t read the first book in the series as you will be able to follow along. I assure you that you will want to go back and read book one and two.

I had such a hard time putting this story down. I loved catching up with other characters from the previous novels and meeting new one.

Elizabeth was warm and caring character. I really liked her personality. Randall I wanted to dislike at times for being such a fool. The Beiler boys just are to likable not to stay mad at them to long.

Judith and Ben I am so glad that we got to see how there story ended. I won’t give away any spoilers.

The new character’s Pippa and Bud I would of loved if the author spent a bit more time with them and got to know them better.

All the characters in this story were interesting and I am sad to see this series come to an end. I have really enjoyed this book.


ReneeK is a sweet tea addicted mamma who loves to cuddle up to a good book. She blogs at Little Homeschool on the Praire and writes about family, homeschooling, having a special needs child, and about whatever else tickles her fancy.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Undetected by Dee Henderson

91hmdPSsO5L._SL1500_ Mark Bishop is the commander of a ballistic missile submarine and Gina Gray is an ocean science researcher. She has just come up with a new theory and needs his help.

Undetected
Dee Henderson
Bethany House
April 2014

Undetected by Dee Henderson is another great book by this author. Mark Bishop is the Commander of a ballistic missile submarine but when someone asks him what he does for a living he simply replies, “I’m in the Navy.” This is an extreme understatement for his job carries responsibilities that are not seen in any other job in the military. Mark is a widower and with all his heart he wants to come home to someone after spending several months at sea in a submarine with hundreds of men. He is attracted to Gina Gray but feels that maybe she is too young for him. Gina does ocean science research and her job is so important and secret that she has round the clock military protection. She would love to be married but due to a failed relationship, she spends nearly all her time working, sometimes even sleeping at her office. This work situation leaves her no time for a social life. She has just made a very important discovery and she needs Mark Bishop’s help to prove her theory. Fortunately, this will give them time together to get to know each other.

As with all her books, Dee Henderson did an excellent job in the development of all aspects of this story. It is very evident that she did the research necessary to write such a detailed story about life on a submarine and other jobs in the Navy. Also, she wrote in such a way that it was easy to understand what was happening on the submarine and with Gina’s work. All the characters were so well developed that I felt as if each one was a friend with Mark and Gina being close friends. Gina did not want to spend time on the submarine and this segment of the story was so real that I was feeling the same fear as Gina. There were several twists and turns to the plot line and these just added to the enjoyment of the story and kept me guessing as to what was going to happen. The characters and dialogue were so well developed that I had the feeling as if I were right in the middle of the action taking place on the submarine.

I highly recommend this book to anyone that loves a well written story that is also a learning experience. There is romance and enough mystery to keep one reading and guessing.


Deanna Love Gottreu is a 75 year old widow and the mother of two wonderful sons who share second place in her life – with God being in first place. She spends her time reading or making quilts for charity. Her book reviews can also be read on her blog at www.buzzardsroostcrafts.com/blog.
This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Must Have Marvin by Ziglar and Marten

Marvin_CoverMarvin has friends, sports, adults who need his help and more but he is blissfully unaware of all that. He has his eyes and attention on only one thing: a toy robot! He HAS to have it!

Must Have Marvin
Written by Christy Ziglar
Illustrated by Luanne Marten
Ideals Children’s Books
April 2014

Martin uses all of his money to buy the robot and then excitedly goes from friend to friend to show them and is disappointed and confused about why they aren’t as interested in the robot as he is. He has the greatest toy in the world but he’s feeling unsatisfied. What gives?

Like Ziglar’s excellent Can’t Wait Willow (which we awarded a 2013 Booky for book of the year), a star character visually represents the rightness or wrongness of the behavior exhibited on each panel. When Martin is disappointing his friends the star is disappointed. When reading this with your child calling out the star and asking what the star is feeling helps bring home the message of the book. In the end, when Martin realizes that it is his friends that truly enrich his life the star is exuberant! And so are little readers.

Unlike Willow, who does appear in this book as a friend, Martin’s lesson isn’t as clearly grasped – at least by my children. Willow made sense immediately. Martin started conversations about what they wanted. Over time, the lesson can be learned but the excitement about the possession isn’t demonstrably negative until his crisis with his friends.

In my opinion, this just isn’t as sharp as the first book but it’s still very good and worth reading with kids.


@ashertopia is the Managing Editor of BookGateway.com. He is an avid reader and a lifetime learner. His favorite genres include science fiction, fantasy, as well as theology and Christian living. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Persecuted by Parrish

Yet another movie pandering to Christians?! Not exactly.

Persecuted
by Robin Parrish
Bethany House
July 2014

John Luther is a mega-minister – millions of viewers and a global reach. Similar in reach to say a Joel Osteen or Rick Warren or Jerry Fallwell. None of these are exactly right for the character as Luther actually preaches the Bible, is way too politically divisive for Warren, and isn’t as fire-and-brimstone as Fallwell. But you get the gist.

There is a bill in Congress that Luther refuses to endorse because he believes it will hinder his free speech and freedom of religion. His public and strongly worded decision to decline to support the bill sets his life, ministry and the nation on a thrilling spiral ending in Luther being wanted for murder.

[SPOILERS] When Luther comes out against the bill, a powerful senator hires shady thugs to set his “friend” Luther up by drugging him and taking pictures of him with an underage girl and then killing the girl in a staged auto accident. Luther then goes on the run until he can prove his innocence. [END SPOILERS].

Once Luther goes on the run the story is similar to, and as enjoyable as, many thrillers. For me it was reminiscent of Will Smith’s Enemy of the State or Harrison Ford’s The Fugitive. You know: innocent man runs trying to prove his innocence while taking out his persecutor. When Luther goes on the run the story picks up and as far as reads or movies go it was standard, enjoyable fare. Where there unexpected and inexplicable coincidences? Sure, but it would be nit picking to say that those were exclusive to mostly tidy Christian themed stories.

Where the book and movie go wrong is in the motivation of the senator and the tenuous ties to persecution. For some reason – that we never fully understand – the senator is pushing a bill through Congress that would (and here it gets murky) somehow combine all faith traditions into a single united faith by giving equal time to each perspective. This is straight out of Left Behind’s pre-tribulational rapture theology and clearly panders to those readers who firmly believe this is coming down the prophetic pipeline and who don’t need an explanation for why. How would such a bill work? Would it even be constitutional? Would people even go for it? Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists would certainly not go for this simply because of a bill passing Congress so the believability of the main point of the story is cast in to immediate doubt. And why the senator is so invested in passing the bill isn’t fleshed out well either.

Furthermore, the claims that this “persecution” is due to Luther’s faith is also indirect. Sure the bill would, if it were enforceable, make some religious distinctives illegal. But Luther wouldn’t support a bill and was attacked for that. Not for anything specific in the Gospel. No matter the bill, this was persecution more for a lack of political support than a religious motivation. With a better understanding of the bill and the motivation behind the bill and its purpose we may see a more clear link between the Gospel and the persecution. Since we don’t have that all we really have is a TV show where Luther tells the host that he doesn’t believe in giving up his freedom of speech.

Bottom line: this is a passable thriller with plug and play Christian themes inserted for more secular choices in other books that ultimately is weakened by a tenuous connection between the faith of the believer and the persecution and also the nebulous and undefined nature of the threatening bill. Fans of Bill O’Reilly, Jay Sekulow and TBN will enjoy the film because it fits their worldview of constant persecution. Those who are looking for a good thriller or those with a less patriotic but more biblical theology may ultimately be disappointed.

Like God’s Not Dead, Persecuted may ultimately be undone by the unbelievability of the scenario and the weakness of the script rather than anything to do with Christianity. If people don’t like this film and book it will be because the story just wasn’t that good. It will not be “another example of Christianity being persecuted by the world.”


@ashertopia is the Managing Editor of BookGateway.com. He is an avid reader and a lifetime learner. His favorite genres include science fiction, fantasy, as well as theology and Christian living. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

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