Monday, October 31, 2022

Where the Blue Sky Begins by Katie Powner Book Review

About the Book

Sometimes the hardest road of all is the road home.

When confident and handsome Eric Larson is sent to a rural Montana town to work in the local branch of his uncle's financial company, he's determined to exceed everyone's expectations, earn a promotion, and be back in Seattle by the end of summer. Yet nothing could prepare him for the lessons this small town has in store.

At forty-six years old, eccentric and outspoken Eunice Parker has come to accept her terminal illness and has given herself one final goal: seek forgiveness from everyone on her bucket list before her time runs out. But it will take more courage than she can muster on her own.

After an accident pushes Eric and Eunice together, the unlikely pair is forced to spend more time with each other than either would like, which challenges their deepest prejudices and beliefs. As summer draws to a close, neither Eric nor Eunice is where they thought they would be, but they both wrestle with the same important question: What matters most when the end is near?

You can read an excerpt here.

My Review

This is an engaging adult coming of age story. Eric is totally out of his element when sent to a small town to manage an office. A city guy, he has to come to grips with life on a very different level. Everyone knows everyone else and their business. People desire time to relate rather than receive advice on a successful investment. It is interesting to see the character transformation as Eric learns what really matters in life.

He is pushed into learning some tough lessons by Eunice, his elderly and dying neighbor. She is a conflicted character, compassionate one moment, brisk the next. She has a number of areas in her life that need rectifying. While we learn about some of the events in her past that made her the way she is, I did not find her character engaging. Although a Christian, she does not seem to have learned to live in the reality of being one.

The plot centers on the interaction between the two as they both grow through their relationship. The story includes a clear message to make peace with those in your life before it is too late. The faith message is subtle with a mention of heaven but no clear indication to readers of how to make sure one arrives there. While forgiveness is a theme woven into the plot, God's forgiveness was not emphasized.

Powner's writing style is a pleasure to read. I enjoyed this entertaining novel. 

Mt rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Author

Katie Powner 
( is an award-winning author who lives in rural Montana where cows still outnumber people. She is a two-time OCW Cascade Award and ACFW First Impressions Award winner. Katie is a biological and adoptive mother of three and foster mother to many more. She and her husband have been in youth ministry for over a decade. Photo Credit: © E.A.H. Creative Photography 

Bethany House, 352 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Sunday, October 30, 2022

The Deliverer by Jason William Karpf

Karpf has imagined a dystopian time in the future after much of the political turmoil we see today had boiled over into a full fledged second Civil War. States certifying their preferred candidates, refusing to follow Supreme Court decisions, and accelerating lawsuits had led to an all out war between sections of the country. Areas had declared independent nationhood with a green west coast, a red central and southern area, and a blue upper east coast and upper central area. A fragile peace was frequently interrupted by border skirmishes and violent groups of armed people bent on lawlessness.

Within this turmoil we are introduced to Bren, a deliverer in the midst of supply chain catastrophes. He braves pirates to deliver goods in his amazing, well armed and armored electric vehicle. He is the hero and media darling of those caught up in consumerism and live media presentation of uncensored violence. He is also a Christian in the midst of a decadent society.

Bren may well be an extreme characterization of Christians today, struggling to maintain a witness in a culture so un-Christian. He can quote a Scripture one moment and kill an attacking pirate the next, seemingly without thought.

Karpf's novel is what he describes as hard sci-fi, a sub-genre emphasizing technical detail and scientific accuracy. There are many descriptions of weapons and battles. There is a great deal of advanced technology in the plot, from super weapons and virtual reality to using quantum entanglement to track a person.

I found Karpf's writing style difficult to follow at times. It seemed transitions or connecting statements were often missing. I frequently had trouble understanding the context of a scene. Karpf has included and Afterward and as I read through character, locations and event descriptions, much became clear. I do wish all of that information had been included in the structure of the novel.

This is a novel that extrapolates the current political division, the fascination with social media success, the allure of violence, and fringe Christian thought. Readers who like advanced technical stuff and lots of battle scenes will enjoy this novel. Readers who look for thought provoking issues in their fiction will find much here, from enduring severe storms due to climate change to an exploration of being a Christian in a contrary and violent culture. It is entertaining and thought provoking.

You can read my review of an earlier novel of his, Brimstone 1, and a sci-fi collection in which he has a short story, Wonders of the Galaxy.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Jason William Karpf grew up with story telling. He is the son of a screen writer and appeared as a child actor in several classic TV shows of the 1970s. He was a screenwriter for decades and today is an author, speaker, college instructor, and marketing/fundraising professional. His blogging and nonfiction writing brings a Christian perspective to marketing and communication. A history and trivia aficionado, he was a four time champion on the TV game show Jeopardy. He and his wife live in Minnesota and have three grown children.

Elk Lake Publishing, 256 pages.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from the author. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Venus Sings the Blues by Buck Storm Book Review

I never know quite what I'm going to encounter when I read one of Storm's books. I know there will be quirky characters. There are several in this novel. There are a couple of ruffians, con artists who plan to make a big haul. There's a woman with a lovely voice who wants to escape her depreciating spouse, especially now that he has won mega millions. There is a drunk bestselling author. There is a jazz piano player roaring in on a Harley. There is a young man, invisible to so many, wanting to fly free. There is a villain of sorts, dressed entirely in black. Their paths cross at the Venus Motel and bar and lives are changed forever.

I know there will be something spiritual or magical ot other worldly woven into the plot. That plot rambles a bit in the beginning as the characters are introduced and come together. It is not until the second half of the book that issues being explored are revealed. Whether it is magical or spiritual, there is the clear message of letting go of the past. There is a subtle message of becoming a new creation, something Christians will understand but may not be recognized by others.

I was a bit unsure about the meaning of this novel for much of it but liked it in the end. It is a bit like an allegory, showing people in need of transformation and then the decisions and process required for it to happen. It is an entertaining book with spiritual truth popping up from time to time.

There are references in this novel to earlier ones by Storms but this one does read relatively well on its own. You can read my reviews of earlier books: The Beautiful Ashes of Gomez Gomez and The Sound the Sun Makes.  

You can read an excerpt here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Buck Storm is a singer and songwriter in Hayden, Idaho. He's also the author of several books, including Truck Stop JesusThrough the Holy Land on the Road Less Traveled, and The Miracle Man. Find out more about Buck at

Kregel Publications, 355 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Saturday, October 29, 2022

A Doctor in the House by Linda Shenton Matchett Book Review

About the Book

Book: A Doctor in the House

Author: Linda Shenton Matchett

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Release date: October 15, 2020

This story was previously part of The Hope of Christmas collection.

They’re supposed to be allies, but mutual distrust puts this pair on opposite sides.

Emma O’Sullivan is one of the first female doctors to enlist after President Franklin Roosevelt signs the order allowing women in the Army and Navy medical corps. Within weeks, Emma is assigned to England to set up a convalescent hospital, and she leaves behind everything that is familiar. When the handsome widower of the requisitioned property claims she’s incompetent and tries to get her transferred, she must prove to her superiors she’s more than capable. But she’s soon drawn to the good-looking, grieving owner. Will she have to choose between her job and her heart?

Archibald “Archie” Heron is the last survivor of the Heron dynasty, his two older brothers having been lost at Dunkirk and Trondheim and his parents in the Blitz. After his wife is killed in a bombing raid while visiting Brighton, he begins to feel like a modern-day Job. To add insult to injury, the British government requisitions his country estate, Heron Hall, for the U.S. Army to use as a hospital. The last straw is when the hospital administrator turns out to be a fiery, ginger-haired American woman. She’s got to go. Or does she?

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

This is a quick read at around 80 pages since there is a preview of another work of fiction at the end. Although this is a short story, I liked it and felt it was plotted well. The characters are developed rather well too. Emma comes across as a competent doctor with high standards and a serious work ethic. Archie is presented as a stiff Englishman with a family estate to preserve. The personality clashes are so great we wonder if romance is even possible.

Matchett does a good job of highlighting the animosity between the British landowner and the forward American woman. We also get a good understanding of the emotional healing Archie needs and how faith in God can provide it.

This is an entertaining read of an evening yet with a good plot and well developed characters. Matchett's writing style is good and I will be looking for more from her.

My rating: 4/5 stars. 

About the Author

Linda Shenton Matchett writes about ordinary people who did extraordinary things in days gone by. A volunteer docent and archivist for the Wright Museum of WWII, Linda is a former trustee for her local public library. She is a native of Baltimore, Maryland and was born a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry. Linda has lived in historic places all her life, and is now located in central New Hampshire where her favorite activities include exploring historic sites and immersing herself in the imaginary worlds created by other authors.

More from Linda

Dear Reader:

As a long-time Human Resources professional, I’m fascinated by the history of women in the workforce, especially during the World War II era when many filled jobs previously held by men. A Doctor in the House came about when two bits of information collided with me on the same day.

I’m an avid fan of the BBC mystery show “Foyle’s War” about a detective chief superintendent located in Hastings, England. He’d rather be “doing his bit” for the war effort, but he continues to be assigned to regular police work. One of the episodes takes place in a huge country home that was requisitioned by the British government for use as a hospital.

Research turned up the fact that the British government took over people’s homes (whether or not the inhabitants were willing to give up the house). Later that day I was creating “this day in history” posts for my social media account and one of the events was Dr. Margaret Craighill becoming the first commissioned officer in the US Army Medical Corps. Previously, women were not afforded this opportunity.

I dug into Dr. Craighill’s story, and there were several references to difficulties she encountered by people who didn’t think women belonged in the military or in officer positions within the military. I thought the combination of a man who isn’t happy to have lost the use of his home with an American female doctor in charge of the hospital had the makings of a fun story. I hope you agree!


Linda Shenton Matchett

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, October 29

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 30

Texas Book-aholic, October 31

Inklings and notions, November 1

deb’s Book Review, November 2

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 3

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, November 4

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 5

Connie’s History Classroom, November 6

Betti Mace, November 7

For Him and My Family, November 8

Holly’s Book Corner, November 9

Mary Hake, November 9

Splashes of Joy, November 10

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, November 11

Books I’ve Read, November 11

I received a complimentary digital copy of this novella through Celebrate Lit. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Celebrate Lit.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Friday, October 28, 2022

Dog Days of Summer by Kathleen Y'Barbo Book Review

About the Book

Book: Dog Days of Summer

Author: Kathleen Y’Barbo

Genre: Christian/Mystery/Romance Fiction

Release date: October, 2022

Trina Potter, Nashville country music star, buys a ranch near her hometown in Brenham, Texas, to help her niece open a rescue facility for dogs. Her presence in town stirs up some old high school rivalries—and romance. Finding property to buy is a challenge, convincing her mother to move there with her is daunting, and navigating a string of strange accidents is perplexing. Sometimes Trina feels like she’s purchased her own three ring circus instead of a beautiful piece of land. But her first priority will be figuring out who wants Second Chance Ranch shut down before they even have the grand opening.

Click here to get your copy!

 My Review

This is one of those feel good novels that is fun to read. There's a mystery with some villain doing dastardly deeds. There is concern for potential harm in what appears to be attacks on a budding dog rescue operation. There are quirky characters. There are cute dogs who just cannot resist sausages on a barbecue. There is rekindling of an old romance. It's all great entertainment. There are also some serious themes explored. One is balancing the possibility of continuing a very successful career with care for an ailing parent and support of extended family members.

The mystery was a bit complex as shown by the lengthy denouement. The final explanation included information we readers did not know ahead of time so, other than obvious clues, there was no way to solve the mystery earlier. I think the mystery was of second importance to character relationships and interactions anyway.

This is a good novel for those liking cozy mysteries with an emphasis on characters. Dog lovers will especially like the cute canines included. It is the second novel in a series but reads well on its own. You can read my review of the first one, Off the Chain. I have enjoyed both books and will be watching for the next one.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


About the Author

Kathleen Y’Barbo
is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee and bestselling author of more than one hundred books with over two million copies of her books in print in the US and abroad. A tenth-generation Texan and certified paralegal, she is a member of the Texas Bar Association Paralegal Division, Texas A&M Association of Former Students and the Texas A&M Women Former Students (Aggie Women), Texas Historical Society, Novelists Inc., and American Christian Fiction Writers. She would also be a member of the Daughters of the American Republic, Daughters of the Republic of Texas and a few others if she would just remember to fill out the paperwork that Great Aunt Mary Beth has sent her more than once.

When she’s not spinning modern day tales about her wacky Southern relatives, Kathleen inserts an ancestor or two into her historical and mystery novels as well. Recent book releases include bestselling The Pirate Bride set in 1700s New Orleans and Galveston, its sequel The Alamo Bride set in 1836 Texas, which feature a few well-placed folks from history and a family tale of adventure on the high seas and on the coast of Texas. She also writes (mostly) relative-free cozy mystery novels for Guideposts Books.

Kathleen and her hero in combat boots husband have their own surprise love story that unfolded on social media a few years back. They make their home just north of Houston, Texas and are the parents and in-laws of a blended family of Texans, Okies, and one very adorable Londoner.

More from Kathleen

Do you love dogs…or cats…or both…? I’m firmly in the “both” category. Since childhood I’ve always lived in homes that had at least one or the other, usually several of each. With every dog or cat comes at least one good story. One of my favorites is the tale of Bandit, the inspiration for the cover of my cozy mystery DOG DAYS OF SUMMER.

Once upon a time there was a black and white dog named Bandit. He was an English Springer Spaniel by birth but was completely convinced he was human. Bandit loved his people—three growing boys and a baby girl—even more than he loved popcorn and playing keep away (his version of catch). After many years, Bandit’s people grew up and he grew old. Toward the end of his very long and pampered life, he was plagued by the unwanted and yet much appreciated friendship of an ornery orange striped cat named Baby and a snooty pedigreed feline named Fifi.

Everyone loved Bandit…except the territorial squirrel who lived in a tree in our back yard in Southeast Texas. From the moment Bandit joined the family, the furry fellow was determined to rid himself and his back yard of the trespassing canine. The squirrel’s favorite tactic was to tease Bandit until the dog chased him up a tree. Once treed, the crafty critter would run around the trunk just out of Bandit’s reach. Once the squirrel tired of this, it would retreat to a limb. There, the battle of the backyard beasts would commence again but with the squirrel lobbing pinecones and the dog trying to catch them.

While every good story has a beginning, middle and end, unfortunately at the end of this one there was no winner in the dog vs. squirrel wars. A job transfer led us to Houston where squirrels were in abundance in our new neighborhood but none of them were nearly as much fun as the one Bandit left behind. The last time I spoke with the owners of our old house, they told the funniest story: they loved their new home, but there was this squirrel in the back yard that kept throwing pinecones at everyone.

In DOG DAYS OF SUMMER, I tell the story of another Texas back yard. This one is located in Brenham, Texas, and it is about to become a very special place for some very special dogs named Patsy and Cline. Have I mentioned these dogs belong to a country singer named Trina who has a mother named Mama Peach who happens to own a cat named Hector that dislikes almost everyone and can open doors? Then there’s the problem of the next door neighbor and his penchant to forget to close the lid on his grill when he’s cooking? Did I mention that Patsy and Cline enjoy nothing more than whatever they happen to find on an unguarded grill? While the two furry scoundrels are rounding up trouble next door, there is even more trouble happening at the building site for Second Chance Ranch Dog Rescue on the other side of the property. Apparently not everyone is happy about the new neighbors. The mystery is who that person might be. While you’ve got to read DOG DAYS OF SUMMER to find out, I can give you one hint: it’s not the squirrel!

I’ve told you mine; now tell me your favorite dog or cat story. I can’t wait to read them.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, October 28

Texas Book-aholic, October 28

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 29

Blogging With Carol, October 29

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, October 30 (Author Interview)

deb’s Book Review, October 30

Inklings and notions, October 31

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, November 1

Lily’s Book Reviews, November 1

Tell Tale Book Reviews, November 2

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, November 3

Remembrancy, November 3

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 4

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, November 4

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, November 5

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 6

Boondock Ramblings, November 6

Labor Not in Vain, November 7

Where Crisis & Christ Collide, November 7

Pause for Tales, November 8

Mary Hake, November 8

For Him and My Family, November 9

Divine Perspective, November 9

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, November 10

The Book Club Network, November 10

I received a complimentary egalley of this book through Celebrate Lit. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Celebrate Lit.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Thursday, October 27, 2022

The Bookshop of Secrets by Mollie Rushmeyer Book Review

About the Book

Book: The Bookshop of Secrets

Author: Mollie Rushmeyer

Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction (Christian)

Release date: October 25, 2022

A collection of lost books holds the clues to her family’s legacy…and her future.

Hope Sparrow has mastered the art of outrunning her tragic past, learning never to stay anywhere too long and never to allow anyone control over her life again. Coming to Wanishin Falls in search of her family’s history already feels too risky. But somewhere in the towering stacks of this dusty old bookshop are the books that hold Hope’s last ties to her late mother—and to a rumored family treasure that could help her start over.

Only, the bookshop is in shambles, and the elderly owner is in the beginning stages of dementia and can’t remember where the books lie. To find the last links to the loved ones she’s lost, Hope must stay and accept help from the townsfolk to locate the treasured volumes. Each secret she uncovers brings her closer to understanding where she came from. But the longer she stays in the quaint town, the more people find their way into the cracks in her heart. And letting them in may be the greatest risk of all…

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

This novel is a combination mystery and journey in healing. The heroine, Hope, is vividly portrayed in her struggles after sexual abuse. She describes her scars as burned soul deep and wonders if she will ever be able to form a meaningful relationship again. We readers witness her struggles, including trying to accept that God would have allowed it all to happen. We hope Ronan is a patient man because it will take time and consistency to help Hope work through the hurt and PTSD.

There is a mysterious adventure woven around Hope's story. We read intriguing stories of pirates on Lake Superior and wonder if a treasure really exists. There are more mysteries from the past, mistakes that plague current day residents of the town. And there are mysteries hidden in the books Hope has come to retrieve.

I liked this entertaining novel combining a personal healing adventure with mysteries and tangled relationships. It is a good exploration of the long journey to healing, including a few suspenseful events along the way. It is also informative as there are some interesting facts about antiquarian books. Rushmeyer's writing style is a pleasure to read and I will be looking for more from her.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


About the Author

Mollie writes contemporary fiction with a heart for history. What does this mean exactly? She loves to write inspirational fiction in contemporary settings with fascinating historical elements, people, objects, and stories woven throughout.

A modern girl herself– She wouldn’t want to go a day without modern plumbing and central air! But she’s always felt a special connection to the past. The legacies and lives left behind are like gifts waiting to be unwrapped, and she’s excited to share this blend of history and contemporary living with readers.

A born and bred Midwestern gal, Mollie Rushmeyer, makes her home in central Minnesota with her husband and two spunky, beautiful daughters. She is not only a bibliophile (the dustier the better, in her opinion), she’s a true anglophile at heart. Tea and coffee fuel her travels, by Google maps at least, and her passion for the written word.

More from Mollie

Since childhood, opening up a book unlocked a whole new world for me. Of possibilities and adventure, and made me care for people and places that didn’t exist. Like stepping through the wardrobe into Narnia, books transported me. It was like magic.

As I began dreaming up The Bookshop of Secrets in its early stages, I knew I wanted to create a character who loved books and was in awe of their transformative and transportive power as much as I am. Thus, Hope Sparrow, a human trafficking survivor and ultimate book lover, was born. I also wanted to honor my grandpa, who planted the seed—love of the written word—in my heart from the time I was very young. And so, Ulysses, the owner of Dusty Jackets Bookshop in the story, is based on my sweet grandpa who has since passed away. But I know he’d love this homage to all things literary.

Afterward, I didn’t know if I’d ever write again and I was more terrified of that than not gaining back the full strength of my left arm.

In the middle of writing this book, in 2018, I had a stroke. As with most medical emergencies, it was quite unexpected. I had a hole in my heart (that has been repaired, thankfully). Afterward, I didn’t know if I’d ever write again and I was more terrified of that than not being able to fully move my left arm again. My brain had to make new connections and it was so difficult, still is some days, to be creative. To find the right words.

But God. In the way that only He can, He brought this forgotten story, this project’s finish line that seemed to be at the summit of an insurmountable mountain within reach. I thought I had something to prove to myself. I begged God not to forget my dream to write. Like He could. But in the end, I just had to trust like my character Hope. Trust that He is good even when life hurts and is uncertain.

“Do you know what the opposite of fear is?”

“Bravery? Peace?” Dare she say her namesake, hope?

“The true counterpart of fear is faith. It takes faith to walk into the future, the unknown, with confidence. Secure in the love of the One who created you and those around you outweighs any hardship, real or imagined, that lies on the path ahead.”

I hope following Hope’s journey of healing and love in The Bookshop of Secrets truly blesses you.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, October 27

lakesidelivingsite, October 27

Inklings and notions, October 28

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, October 28

Simple Harvest Reads, October 28 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

An Author’s Take, October 29

The Write Escape, October 29

deb’s Book Review, October 29

Texas Book-aholic, October 30

Rebecca Tews, October 30

Blogging With Carol, October 30

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 31

Inspired by fiction, October 31

Life of Literature, October 31

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, November 1

Lily’s Book Reviews, November 1

Cover Lover Book Review, November 1

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 2

Losing the Busyness, November 2

For Him and My Family, November 2

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, November 3

Holly’s Book Corner, November 3

Mary Hake, November 3

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, November 4 (Author Interview)

Paula’s Pad of Suspense and Detection, November 4

Blossoms and Blessings, November 4

Sylvan Musings, November 5

Lily’s Book Reviews, November 5

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, November 5

A Reader’s Brain, November 6

Book Looks by Lisa, November 6

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, November 7

Truth and Grace Homeachool Academy, November 7

Story Craft, November 7

Through the fire blogs, November 8

Pause for Tales, November 8

Labor Not in Vain, November 8

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, November 9

To Everything There Is A Season, November 9

Lights in a Dark World, November 9

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Celebrate Lit.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)