Monthly Archives: October 2017

Audiobook Review: The Raven by Mike Nappa

Title: The Raven
Author: Mike Nappa
Print Publisher: Revell
Audio Publisher: Oasis Audio
Narrator: Romy Nordlinger
Published: September 2016
Series: Coffey & Hill, Book 2
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Christian Fiction
Length: 12 hours, 16 minutes. Unabridged.

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

As part of his street performance, a deception specialist who goes by the name The Raven picks his audience’s pockets while they watch. It’s harmless fun–until he decides to keep the wallet of a prominent politician, hoping for a few extra bucks. When he finds compromising photos of the councilman and his “personal assistants,” The Raven hatches a plan to blackmail the man. However, he quickly finds himself in over his head with the Ukrainian Mafia and mired in a life-threatening plot code-named “Nevermore.”

Private investigators Trudi Coffey and Samuel Hill must scramble to sort out the clues to rescue The Raven from a wild card bent on revenge.

My Thoughts on the Book:

For a mysterious thrill ride of shifting allegiances, with devious plots to be undone, look no further than The Raven. I enjoyed reading this novel even more than I did its predecessor, Annabel Lee. Either book could be read as a standalone, but I recommend starting Mike Nappa’s Coffey and Hill series at the beginning if you haven’t already, as the characters grow and develop from one book to the next.

Recurring characters Trudi and Samuel continue to work through their personal issues, while they team up to solve another case. I felt these characters were more sympathetic than in the last book, maybe because they weren’t as hard on each other? Anyway, I do like the direction they seem to be headed, and hope to meet them again in a future installment of this series.

The lead character for this book, besides Trudi and Samuel, is The Raven, a street magician calling himself a deception specialist, whose attempt to blackmail someone lands him in a heap of trouble and smack dab in the thick of something bigger than he would’ve imagined. He’s not your typical lead for a Christian fiction novel, but his cool-headed and somewhat sarcastic analysis of even the most traumatic situations can be quite entertaining. And despite his many flaws, he also manages to be quite sympathetic, and I won’t give details away, but I like where the storyline takes his character arc by the end of the book.

Highly recommended if you enjoy a good mystery, and don’t mind witnessing some violence along the way.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

Romy Nordlinger’s excellent narration does justice to the story, with character voices and storytelling that immerse the reader into the thick of what’s happening. Whether she’s portraying a thug with an accent, or the sarcastically laid back analysis of The Raven, her narration fits just right, and is fun to listen to.

I borrowed this audiobook from my local library via Hoopla. I was not expected to write a review, but wanted to share how much I enjoyed the book.

Quick Links: About the Book | About the Series | Audio Sample | Author’s Site | Narrator’s Site

Book Review: Maybe It’s You by Candace Calvert

Title: Maybe It’s You
Author: Candace Calvert
Publisher: Tyndale House
Published: February 2017
Series: Crisis Team, Book 3
Genre: Christian Fiction, Contemporary Romance

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

ER nurse Sloane Ferrell escaped her risky past—new name, zip code, job, and a fresh start. She’s finally safe, if she avoids a paper trail and doesn’t let people get too close. Like the hospital’s too-smooth marketing man with his relentless campaign to plaster one “lucky” employee’s face on freeway billboards.

Micah Prescott’s goal is to improve the Hope hospital image, but his role as a volunteer crisis responder is closer to his heart. The selfless work helps fill a void in his life left by family tragedy. So does a tentative new relationship with the compassionate, beautiful, and elusive Sloane Ferrell.

Then a string of brutal crimes makes headlines, summons responders . . . and exposes disturbing details of Sloane’s past.

Can hope spring from crisis?

My Thoughts:

Candace Calvert has delivered another fabulous read in her Crisis Team series. Fans of medical drama, contemporary romance, and suspense will enjoy seeing a very different side to Sloane Ferrell than we encountered in an earlier book in this series. Yes, this book can be read as a standalone, but it’s even better within the series. While the spiritual takeaways are not preachy or overwhelming, they do play a significant, and at times surprising role in the story, which I enjoyed seeing. And of course, I loved seeing the development of the relationship between Sloane and Micah. Their relationship has a sweet quality to it, and progressed in what felt like a very realistic way. I was definitely rooting for them throughout the book. Highly recommended.

Thank you to the publisher for providing a complimentary electronic copy of the book via NetGalley for review purposes.

Quick Links: About the Book | About the Series | Author’s Site

Audiobook Review: High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin

Title: High as the Heavens
Author: Kate Breslin
Print Publisher: Bethany House
Audio Publisher: Oasis Audio
Narrator: Renee Ertl
Published: June 2017
Genre: Historical Romance
Length: 12 hours, 41 minutes. Unabridged.

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

A British nurse in WWI German-occupied Brussels, Evelyn Marche spends her days at the hospital and her nights working at a café . . . or so it seems. Eve’s most carefully guarded secret is that she also spends her nights carrying out dangerous missions as a spy for a Belgian resistance group.

When a plane crashes as she’s en route to a rendezvous, Eve is the first to reach the downed plane and is shocked to recognize the badly injured pilot as British RFC Captain Simon Forrester. She risks her life to conceal him from the Germans, but as the secrets between them grow and the danger mounts, can they still hope to make it out of Belgium alive?

My Thoughts on the Book:

This is a story historical romance fans will love. It is set in German-occupied Brussels during World War I and incorporates vivid cultural and historical details. It’s particularly cool that its characters are based loosely on actual historical figures (see the author’s note in the book for details).

The plot features espionage, danger, and intrigue alongside the emotional joys and uncertainties of a chance at reclaiming lost love. The characters, while at times larger than life, are struggling with relatable issues like guilt, mistrust, and fear.

Despite the promising premise, the start of the story dragged a bit for me, under the weight of a little more exposition early on than I would have liked. Fortunately, I stuck with it, because once the action and romance kicked up a notch, I was hooked.

The character development was well done and the action and romance plotlines brought readers along to a satisfying conclusion. Recommended to adult fans of historical romance and suspense. Because of the difficult things Eve and other characters have to go through in the story, I’d recommend parents preview the book to determine if they feel it’s appropriate for their teenage readers.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

The wide range of Nationalities represented in this book could have lent itself well to voicing characters with a variety of different accents. While the narrator did not take full advantage of this opportunity, she did distinguish between character voices, to the extent that I was never in doubt about which character was speaking. The reading was clear and pleasant listening, with emotions well reflected in the performance. Overall, the audio edition makes for an enjoyable listening experience.

I borrowed this audiobook from my local library via Hoopla. I was not expected to write a review, but I wanted to share.

Quick Links: About the Audiobook | Audio Sample | Author’s Site

Christian Fiction Book Club Connection: October 2017

Book Club Connection

Welcome to the October 2017 edition of the Christian Fiction Book Club Connection. Thanks for stopping by! Whether you’re a pastor or ministry leader thinking of forming a book discussion group at your church, a current member of a book club, or simply a fan of Christian fiction hoping to connect with other readers, you’re in the right place. Please consider subscribing to my blog so you won’t miss future posts.

Today I’m providing information on Christian fiction discussions scheduled to take place around the web this month. I’m also featuring a handful of recently released Christian fiction titles for which a discussion guide is available, either included in the book itself or on the author’s or publisher’s web site.

Online Discussions Coming Up This Month

The ACFW Book Club‘s October selection is Home by Ginny Yttrup. You can subscribe to the group’s e-mail list now, by following the instructions on their Web site, to be sure not to miss any announcements or discussion questions.

By the Book is an in-person book discussion club that has introduced an online Facebook-based discussion option. To join in online, like the By the Book Facebook page, and be sure to check back there periodically for any discussion that may not have made it into your news feed. October’s selection is Gathering the Threads by Cindy Woodsmall.

For October, the Christian Fiction Devourers group on Goodreads is discussing Shine Like the Dawn by Carrie Turansky AND Justice Delayed by Patricia Bradley. Grab your copies and head on over to the discussion forum to check in with others who are in the midst of reading these books.

The Fans of Amish Fiction Goodreads group discusses one Amish fiction title per month. The selection for October is Anna’s Healing by Vannetta Chapman. To join in, visit the group’s online discussion board.

Jamie of the Books and Beverages blog hosts a monthly Inklings discussion series for fans of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Sometimes fiction, sometimes non-fiction, the current title is An Anthology: 365 Readings by George MacDonald.

Recent Christian Fiction Releases Featuring Discussion Guides

Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter (Thomas Nelson, June 2017, Contemporary Romance)

Ascension of Larks by Rachel Linden (Thomas Nelson, June 2017, Contemporary Romance)

A Letter from Lancaster County by Kate Lloyd (Harvest House, July 2017, Amish Romance)


So, friends, what have you been reading lately? Any titles you’d recommend for book club discussions?

Book Review: The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin

Title: The Mountain Between Us
Author: Charles Martin
Publisher: Broadway Books
Published: June 2010
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

Soon to be a major motion picture starring Kate Winslet and Idris Elba. An atmospheric, suspenseful and gripping story of two people finding love while fighting to survive.

When a blizzard strands them in Salt Lake City, two strangers agree to charter a plane together, hoping to return home; Ben Payne is a gifted surgeon returning from a conference, and Ashley Knox, a magazine writer, is en route to her wedding. But when unthinkable tragedy strikes, the pair find themselves stranded in Utah’s most remote wilderness in the dead of winter, badly injured and miles from civilization. Without food or shelter, and only Ben’s mountain climbing gear to protect themselves, Ashley and Ben’s chances for survival look bleak, but their reliance on each other sparks an immediate connection, which soon evolves into something more.

Days in the mountains become weeks, as their hope for rescue dwindles. How will they make it out of the wilderness and if they do, how will this experience change them forever? Heart-wrenching and unputdownable, The Mountain Between Us will reaffirm your belief in the power of love to sustain us.

My Thoughts:

This book made me cry. I’m not talking a dab-at-the-eyes, misty-eyed kind of cry. I’m talking an ugly, tears-rolling-down-for-probably-far-too-long-given-these-aren’t-real-people, tissues-piling-up kind of cry. And not for the reasons you’d probably think from the book blurb either.

An unexpected twist in the last few chapters totally blindsided me and I loved this book sooo much, precisely because of that. Because it all made so much sense and I had to rethink everything, and how had I not seen that coming?!?

Obviously, I won’t spoil it for you, because, how could I do that to you? I mean, really. I can’t. But if you haven’t already read this book, you need to. Pronto. I hear the movie’s coming out soon (part of why I read this book when I did), and you know it can’t possibly be as good as the book, but you know you’re gonna want to see it anyway, so you’ll probably want to read the book first, so the movie won’t spoil it for you.

Right? Or am I the only one who thinks this way? 😉

This one’s a must for those who like survival type TV shows, unexpected plot twists that make you rethink everything and then realize it makes total sense, beautiful literary turns of phrase, and a subtle but resonant message. Okay, maybe that’s way too specific. Just read it, okay? You’ll be glad you did. Um, but maybe stock up on tissues first?

I borrowed an electronic copy of this book from my local library. I was not expected to write a review.

Quick Links: About the Book | Author’s Site