“Heart of the Country” by Rene Gutteridge

heartofthecountry1After sixty-two days, Luke Carraway knew Faith Barnett was his soul mate. Since the Carraway family is beyond wealthy, they believe Faith is with Luke for his money. Luke and Faith leave their families out and elope. Then Luke decides to leave the family company to be independent and make a name for himself with competitors, the Michov Brothers.

Faith starts to overhear conversations about the Michov Brothers being a part of a Ponzi scheme. “[A] Ponzi scheme is when a fund…takes the money from new investors and uses it to pay off existing investors’ returns on investments. It gives the illusion of profit when there isn’t any.” Luke promises Faith that he is not involved in anything illegal. But her faith in Luke is shattered when the SEC arrests him “for conspiracy to commit federal securities fraud.”

When Luke refuses to answer any of Faith’s questions, she packs up her belongings and goes to the only place she can – Columbus County, North Carolina – her family’s home. This is difficult for her. The reason why Faith left is because the community wanted her to pick up on the life her mother left behind when she died. But Faith has never really dealt with her mother’s death. She left the rest of her family to deal with losing her as well. Now, ten years later, there are mixed emotions about Faith’s return.

Back in New York, Luke’s scandal has caused everyone to turn away from him. Faith was just the first. Luke is alone and facing prison time, wondering the ways he could kill himself while inside. There is only one direction for Luke to turn and it goes against everything he was trying to do by himself. Plus, he has not heard from Faith and needs to decide whether to fight for her or let her go for betraying their vows. Unexpected news puts a new twist on everything and everyone.

I GIVE THIS BOOK:

5

It has been so long since I have read a book with so much realistic content, situations and emotions. The character conflict is amazing.

The author uses real life circumstances and writes how real people would act in that situation. Independence, pride, ethics, vows, family and death are just a few of the struggles the characters of this book have to deal with.

Family dynamics play an extremely large role in this story. I found myself comparing my family to those of the two main characters, Luke and Faith. I will say that some actions the family members took surprised me.

I struggled with this book in the sense that I felt connected to the story at my very core. While the 400+ pages seem daunting, it is well worth it. It is a quick read because you will not want to put it down. And I did not. Very emotional. Have a tissue handy.

For more books, go to http://www.booksbysteph.com

Until next time, live life one page at a time!

SZ

TYNDALE_HOUSE_PUBLISHERS

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“Dark Angel” by TJ Bennett

BOOK_COVER_Dark AngelAfter their ship sank somewhere in the Irish Sea, Catherine Briton tried telling the Captain of her lifeboat that she saw land. The Captain denied her claims, saying, “[o]nly the dead or dying see that island.” After the lifeboat capsized, Catherine felt someone pull her to the beach of the island. When she opened her eyes she saw “a sleek, powerful beast, it’s fur black as midnight.” When she heard a commotion, Catherine tried calling for help.

“‘How the bloody hell are you here?’ [A] deep voice above [Catherine] sounded utterly perplexed. ‘How the devil did you accomplish it?'” Catherine soon finds out that she is the only survivor who washed up on the shore of Ynys Nos, Welsh for the Dark Island. She learns that “all the inhabitants of this [island] have been suspended in time and have ceased to age[.]” Catherine was “the real first contact [they] have had with the outside world in many years.” A hundred years in fact.

“No one ever leaves the Dark Island.” Catherine is stuck on a mysterious island under the supervision of a man the residents called Master.

I GIVE THIS BOOK:

5

An extremely talented author pens an intriguing and captivating story.

Ynys Nos may not exist but this author brought it to fruition. To me, the Dark Island existed. Well placed detail, that did not distract from the story, created a real yet mystical image. I could feel the fog closing in around me and the terror of the inability to see past the nose on my face. The fog is a character in itself but you do not realize it.

The two main characters, Gerald and Catherine, are hot tempered and full of passion in the sense of what they believe and who and what they stand for. Two stubborn people so concerned about their own agenda to realize what is right in front of them.

The author stuck true to the era of each character: Catherine in the mid 1800s and the inhabitants of the island in the 1700s. The idea Catherine gave the resident gynecologist had me in fits of laughter. And the ending of this book shocked me. An end that I never saw coming.

I hope this is the beginning of a series. The author could take this story and build so much on it.

For more books, go to http://www.booksbysteph.com.

Until next time, live life one page at a time!

SZ

ENTANGLED_PUBLISHING

“Hunter’s Moon” by Lisa Kessler

BOOK_COVER_Hunter_s MoonThe Moon Series, Book 2

She tried to kill him twice. Yet, “[i]nstead of protecting [his] Pack…[Aren Sloan] found [him]self sneaking around, unable to stop tracking her, protecting [their] enemy. Sasha [Kincade].” She was a shape-shifting jaguar and was part of the Neo Organization. The Neo Organization “bred jaguar shape-shifters and trained them as silent assassins for the highest bidder.” Sasha left the organization whey they failed to give her a promised antidote, to her shape-shifting, that never existed. Now there is a bounty on her head and people are trying to kill her. The Neo Organization cannot afford Sasha spilling their secrets, that “[t]hey kidnapped and imprisoned human women within the compound to be part of [their] jaguar-shifter breeding program and DNA testing.” The government thought “they were just financing enhanced soldiers.”

Now, a shape-shifting werewolf with Green Beret training has threatened Sasha using the only leverage he had over her – Sasha’s sister. Sasha knew that she needed help and she knew that, for some reason, Aren was following her. She knew Aren was a werewolf and asked him and his Pack to protect her sister until she could figure out who is trying to kill her and get to him first. 

I GIVE THIS BOOK:
5

One thing I believe is important in a book series is to catch the reader up on previous books so they do not get confused with the story. This author achieved that. The back-story from book one was written out as a matter of factly, yet stayed true to the story of this book.  Throughout the book, when references to the first book surfaced, this author gave a point-blank explanation that never veered away from the story at hand.

The book was a little long, but it needs to be that way. Being able to feel and root on the characters in this book came from reading their interactions and learning their history. As the two main characters get to know each other, so does the reader. A lot of books make you want to scream, “You are so stupid, just tell each other!” Yet this book left you conflicted between love and understanding. This is what draws a reader in and had this reader in tears.

For more books about the paranormal, go to http://www.booksbysteph.com.

Until next time, live life one page at a time!

SZ

ENTANGLED_PUBLISHING

“Undying Embrace” by Jessica Lee

BOOK_COVER_Undying Embrace

A Novel of the Enclave, Book 2

In Fairfield, South Carolina, Gabrielle Stevens learns that her sister has been missing for at least three weeks. Her neighbors tell Gabrielle that Alexandria started hanging around a Goth club called Wicked Ways. Gabrielle creates a Gothic style character that can check out the club without getting noticed. But it is what Gabrielle noticed is far beyond what she imagined. Two years ago, Arran pushed her away by telling her that her kiss was forgettable and today he sits at the other end of the bar.

Arran MacLain is a vampire. He was part of a group, called the Enclave, that killed Death Euphoria Addicts. His former partner, Markus, nearly destroyed the Enclave when he turned against them. Arran left the Enclave and has been searching for Markus. Those searches lead him to Wicked Ways – owned by Markus himself.

Horrified at the thought that her sister might be dead, Gabrielle and Arran team up to find Alexandria. But being around each other is much harder then they realized. They loved each other but Gabrielle is human and Arran is a vampire. How will that work? And “God forbid if [Gabrielle] ever found out about the things” Arran did in the past. She would be as disgusted as he is with himself.

I GIVE THIS BOOK:

4

* WARNING: CONTENT & LANGUAGE *
MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN

Read this series in order. There are references to the first book that I did not understand.

Finally! An author who actually uses racy language rather then trying to keep things clean. I feel that using language that people use in real life, proper or not, brings the reader closer to the story. I could imagine myself as Gabrielle and properly enjoy the X-rated sex scenes.

For more books about the paranormal, go to http://www.booksbysteph.com.

Until next time, life life one page at a time!

SZ

ENTANGLED_PUBLISHING

“A Plain Disappearance” by Amanda Flower

BOOK_COVER_A Plain DisappearanceAn Appleseed Creek Mystery, Book 3

Timothy Troyer takes Chloe Humphrey on a buggy ride for their first date. They stop at an old abandoned, rundown barn to stretch their legs. Timothy surprises Chloe with an early Christmas gift. But the joy of the evening evaporates when Timothy’s dog takes off running to the side of the barn. Timothy and Chloe follow and discover a horrible site.

Buried in the snow lay a young Amish girl, blue from death. At first, the cops believe an icicle fell from the barn and killed the girl, but no one can think of a reason the girl would be at the barn in the first place. However, this conclusion is not final when they find out the girl was actually strangled to death.

The Amish will not talk to the Chief of Police, Greta Rose, so she enlists Chloe to help. Chief Rose wants Chloe to talk to the Amish and see if she can come up with any Amish suspects.

I GIVE THIS BOOK:

4

Read this series in chronological order!

Because this is the first book I read in the series (in hopes it would stand alone), there were a lot of references to things that happened in the previous books. That caused some confusion, especially when it came to character development. And I do not understand why a cop would enlist a civilian to talk to the Amish and she is not even Amish.

I never thought I would ever say I read an Amish murder mystery; this would be my first and what a great story to start with! As clues are gathered, you start to believe you know who the killer is, naturally. Then you find out things that throw a wrench in your theory. You are truly reading things and trying to come to a conclusion just like a real cop. And the ending will surprise you in so many ways!

Find more mysteries at http://www.booksbysteph.com.

Until next time, live life one page at a time!

SZ

B_H Publishing Group

 

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“When You Were Mine” by Rebecca Serle

BOOK_COVER_When You Were Mine“What if the greatest love story ever told was the wrong one?” People remember Romeo and Juliet as a love story and forget it is actually a tragedy. “[T]here was someone before Juliet ever came into the picture. Someone who Romeo loved very much. Her name was Rosaline.”

In this modern-day adaptation, Rosaline and her Romeo, Rob, have been best friends since practically birth. Things started to get serious the night before Rob left for the summer to be a camp counselor. On the first day of senior year, Rob finally asks Rose out on a proper date. Though worried how it would affect their friendship, being together just seemed right.

Rose’s cousin, Juliet, moves back to town. It has been ten years since Rose and Rob have spoken to Juliet. But now Juliet has her eyes set on Rob. Rob easily falls for Juliet and Rose is devastated. But Rose began to notice everyone around her whispering. Some people are holding on to secrets that will change lives…forever.

I GIVE THIS BOOK:
3

Take it or leave it. It is up to you to decide if you want to read this modern-day adaptation of Romeo and Juliet from Rosaline’s point-of-view.

Modern-day Romeo and Juliet from the point-of-view of the jilted ex? A good idea in theory.

It really took a lot of strength to push trough this book. Juliet does not even appear until a third of the way into it. The beginning reads like a high school girl. Yes, Rose is a high school girl. But the non-stop fast talking in her mind was really annoying. Everything has a story behind it or references something that ends up irrelevant to the story.

While the story is about the forgotten character of Rosaline, needed information about Rob and Juliet lacked. I understand the heartbreak that Rose felt, but she never let on how much she knew about why Rob so easily turned from her. How can you mourn lovers when you do not know why they loved each other? (And that is not a spoiler – the entire world knows Romeo and Juliet die.)

For more books for the Young Adult, go to http://www.booksbysteph.com.

Until next time, live life one page at a time!

SZ

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“Last Light” by Terri Blackstock

BOOK_COVER_Last Night

The Restoration Series, Book 1

Doug and his daughter step off an airplane, just moments before the power goes out at the airport. But it is more than that. Planes are falling from the sky, cars have stopped working, and even watches have stopped ticking.

The Branning family, along with the rest of the neighborhood, learns that this blackout is continental. The government thinks it “was some kind of astronomic event, such as radiation from a nearby star, with catastrophic effects on our atmosphere… They’re pretty sure it’s not damaging to humans, but that’s about all they’re sure of…”

Knowing this is going to last more then a few days, Doug works on making sure the family is safe. Kay is trying to stretch what little food is left. And their four children cannot stop complaining. Deni refuses to grasp that the government is not working on a quick fix and is trying to find her way to D.C. to a waiting fiance. Jeff wants to hang out with his high school friends and the cute girl he likes and is learning the hard way that he needs to step up and be more of a man. Tween, Beth, found her teacher dead. The first of a string of murders in the neighborhood. And the youngest, Logan, desperately wants to be thought of as a man but never gets the chance.

Everyone has their part in a struggle to survive. So much is unknown, impossible to get, running out, and in need of help. The Brannings want to help their neighbors, but which one is the killer?

I GIVE THIS BOOK:

5

I am sitting here, trying to figure out what to write, and I find myself still lost in the book.

This story takes everything away from you and leaves you in confusion. There are so many questions and no one has answers, yet everyone expects you to. How will you care for your family? Keep them fed, safe and sheltered. How much do you really trust your neighbors, especially when there is a murderer on the loose? Are they stalking you or looking out for you? Who do you turn to for help and what can you do to help others?

Life becomes a thin line between legal, moral and ethical. What side would you be on? What would make you cross it? Will you make the right decisions? And how do you feel about God? Would you blame Him or put your faith in Him?

This story is told by each family member. You know their thoughts and reasons. What they believe or refuse to believe. The differences in ages of the children show the difference in character, attitude and understanding.

This book will leave you wanting to reach for book two. This story leaves your heart torn from your head. It will leave you with so many what-if questions pertaining to the real world. Lastly, this story will leave you with the overwhelming desire to start hoarding clean water.

(As a quick add on – this book actually made me dream that my family was in the same predicament.)

For more books, go to http://www.booksbysteph.com.

Until next time, live life one page at a time!

SZ

ZONDERVAN_PUBLISHING

 

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