Monday, June 24, 2013

REVIEW: SHATTERED ~ DANI PETTREY

When Reef McKenna is found covered in blood, holding the murder weapon that killed Karli Davis, there are few in Yancey, Alaska who believe in his innocence; and only one who believes it without a shadow of a doubt – his sister, Piper. Looking like an open and shut case, the police aren’t even looking for other suspects.  Piper vows to do everything in her power to prove Reef's innocence, and she won’t stop until the real killer is found.



Deputy Landon Grainger practically grew up with the Mckennas and considers them family, but he is determined to do his job and be unbiased.  Landon doesn’t trust blindly – he learned a long time ago that those closest to you have the power to hurt you the most.  Landon believes only in hard evidence, and the evidence says Reef McKenna is guilty; so Landon does his job, even knowing that his being the one to arrest Reef breaks the heart of the woman he secretly loves: Piper. 



When Piper loses faith in the police and launches her own investigation, she nearly gets herself killed.  Unlike the other McKennas, and Landon, Piper is thrilled someone made an attempt on her life; it means she’s on the right track - something Landon can’t completely dispel.  Knowing that Piper will not stop digging on her own, Landon knows what he has to do to protect her.  He risks his career by taking a leave of absence, hands Reef’s case over to the Sheriff (who believes in Reef’s guilt and insists on a quick conviction) and joins forces with Piper and the rest of the McKennas to track down Karli’s killer on their own, with Reef’s trial date looming ever closer.  The quest for answers takes Landon and Piper from Alaska, to British Columbia and even California; but the feeling that they are being watched never goes away.  What they ultimately discover spans much bigger than just Karli herself, and when they get too close to the truth, there’s no guarantee they will make it out alive.


Shattered is the second book in Dani Pettrey’s Alaskan Courage series.  I found this book at the bookstore and was hooked after reading the synopsis, so even though I could not find book 1, Submerged, I started on this one anyway.  This is my first book by this author but will most definitely not be my last.  I wish I had started the series with Submerged, but I will definitely read it next.  Shattered can be read as a stand-alone novel, but there are some reference to events of book 1 which I was clueless about, so at times I did feel a little out of the loop  (only once or twice), but that’s my fault, not the author’s; series’ are meant to be read in order, after all.

I absolutely love all of the McKennas and everyone who works to prove Reef’s innocence.  The author really makes you care about the characters, and I was rooting for Piper and Landon to not only solve this case, but also finally admit their feelings for each other, the whole way through.  It is impossible not to get emotionally invested – brilliant writing.

The action and suspense was also just the way I like it.  The author made me fear for Piper and Landon's lives several times.  The hunt for Karli's killer was realistic and I felt just as despondent as the characters did when their investigation reached dead ends. The combination of romance, mystery, danger and faith makes for a gripping read.  Shattered truly has it all.  I love everything about this book.

I look forward to starting the series and discovering how Cole and Bailey found each other, and to continue Gage and Darcy’s story in Stranded.  I hope Kayden and Jake get a story of their own as well, and I am sure they will.



Product Information:
Title: Shattered
Author: Dani Pettrey
Pages: 320
Year: 2013
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 0764209833

ISBN13: 9780764209833

Thursday, June 20, 2013

REVIEW: DARE YOU TO ~ KATIE MCGARRY

Harlequin has graciously supplied me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

17 year old Beth Risk has had a hard life.  Despised and rejected by her father for causing him to go jail, abandoned by her rescuer, her favourite uncle, Scott, Beth lives in less than ideal conditions with her alcoholic, drug addict mother.  Her only comfort in life is her best friend, Isaiah.

Ryan Stone appears to have the perfect life; a perfect family, great friends and a great talent and promising future career in baseball.  But Ryan’s life comes crashing down when his family is suddenly split apart.  Abandoned by his brother, Ryan carries more hurt than outsiders can see.  His only comfort is winning – especially dares.

When Beth walks into the Taco Bell where Ryan and his friends also happen to be, neither can guess how deeply they will impact each other’s lives.  Ryan is dared to score Beth’s number, but she shoots him down cold and walks out of his life without a backward glance. 

When a scuffle with the law could mean that Beth’s mother go to jail for violating probation, Beth takes the fall.  What she doesn’t expect is for her long lost uncle Scott to then waltz back into her life, determined to rescue her – from her circumstances, her mother and even from herself.  Suddenly finding herself in Scott’s custody Beth is whisked away from her mother and Isaiah, the only two constants in her life.  Moving into Scott’s stately home, much to the chagrin of his new wife, Beth is thrust into a world she doesn’t feel connected to.  The girl from the wrong side of the tracks now lives in an upstanding neighbourhood, attends a decent school, and suddenly has rules to follow: No swearing, no smoking, no revealing clothes, no disrespecting other people… how on earth is a girl supposed to adapt?

Frustrated by losing the dare, Ryan can’t believe his luck when Beth Risk enrols in his High-School; having set no time limit, the dare is back on – only now the stakes are higher: Ryan must get Beth to go on a date with him.  Intent only on winning a dare, Ryan has now idea just how badly this girl is about to rock the boat and cause him to question everything he thought he knew about his life.  What he perceives to be a tough-as-nails skater girl surprisingly has moments of intense vulnerability.  With an intriguing contrast of extremes trying her hardest to keep anyone from getting too close, how can Ryan not be pulled in by the depth he sees in the girl who refuses to see it in herself?

Throw in a jealous ex-girlfriend, a jealous best friend, appearance conscious parents and a concerned uncle and you can be sure drama ensues.  Can two people meant to be together find their way to each other against the odds stacked so heavily against them?



Dare You To by Katie McGarry is the second book in the Pushing The Limits series, but can be read as a stand-alone novel.  It is very dark for a young adult book, and very relevant to the times we live in.  It deals with themes of insecurities, abuse, drug use and the like.  There is some explicit language in the book, but it’s not just there to be there, it plays a big part in character development; mostly the kind...

There is also sexual content, but the author leaves it all at the closed bedroom door.  Even so this book is best suited for more mature young adults.

Dare You To has a lot more depth than the average young adult read, and handles tough situations realistically.  It broke my heart how Beth had to take care of her mother instead of her mother taking care of her, but sadly that is a reality for children of addicts.  This book explored that kind of life very realistically.  As I was reading it I could not guess the ending; it was impossible for me to predict a happy ending for Beth and the author pleasantly surprised me with the route she chose.  

Beth and Ryan, though so very different on the surface, are perfect for each other.  I love how the author approached the progression of their relationship. This is truly the most realistic young adult novel I've read in quite a while.  It was certainly refreshing to have no paranormal angle on this one. A very satisfying read.


Product information:
Title: Dare You To
Author: Katie McGarry
Number of pages: 462
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Year: 2013
ISBN: 0373210639

Monday, June 10, 2013

REVIEW: HARVEST OF GOLD ~ TESSA AFSHAR

Moody Publishers has graciously provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Harvest of Gold is to be released on 01 July 2013.  Pre-order your copy in great anticipation, you’re going to love it!

Harvest of Gold by Tessa Afshar is a sequel to Harvest of Rubies, and the story commences a few months after the conclusion of the first.


Sarah and Darius have called a truce and are trying to make their marriage work.  Darius, however, is disconcerted by the strong feelings his wife triggers in him, and in an effort to remain unaffected by her, he unknowingly and unintentionally hurts her with his attempts to keep his distance – emotionally and physically.  While accepting his wife and soaking up her admissions of love, Darius is unable and unwilling to reciprocate.  Firmly believing that he will never be able to love Sarah, Darius breaks his wife’s heart on a daily basis.  Hurt, but determined to make her husband happy, Sarah works very hard to become the kind of wife God wants her to be; but a lifetime of habits proves difficult to break, and both Sarah and Darius will have to learn to rely not on themselves, but on the One who made them.  Only God can help them break apart their old foundations and help them to rebuild their habits, their hearts, and ultimately their relationships with each other and with God.  Can Sarah help to turn her husband’s heart to “his mother’s God”?  Can a nobleman with a deep-seated desire to please his father turn his back on his father’s way of life?

While traveling to Susa on invitation from King Artaxerxes and Queen Damaspia, Sarah and Darius discover and foil a plot to assassinate the King, and Darius finds himself tasked with solving the mystery; with Sarah’s help, of course.  Facing such a daunting task while still carefully mending the holes in their marriage could either make or break their delicate bond. 

We thus join Darius and Sarah on a journey to Jerusalem, accompanying Nehemiah on his mission of rebuilding the Holy City.  The Bible book of Nehemiah is flawlessly incorporated into the story, and is beautifully brought to life.  As Pearl in The Sand compelled me to reread Rahab’s story in the book of Joshua, so did Harvest of Gold compel me to reread the book of Nehemiah – and whenever an author of Christian fiction triggers in their readers the need to examine, or re-examine, the Bible, I think they have accomplished a marvellous feat!

In Harvest of Gold Sarah and Darius’ fragile marriage experiences even more challenges than it did in Harvest of Rubies (who would have thought it possible?!), which I won’t elaborate on to avoid spoilers.  This time around the reader gets a glimpse into Darius’ childhood and we learn why he is so closed off from emotion, and why Sarah faces such a hard battle to not only help her husband to love and be loved, but to turn her husband’s heart towards the Lord. 

We also meet two of Darius friends (who thoroughly charmed me), Lysander and Roxanne. Sidebar: I would love books with these two as protagonists. What fascinating characters they are!

Anyone who has read Harvest of Rubies quite simply has to continue Darius and Sarah’s story with Harvest of Gold – you will not be disappointed!  While no less intense than its predecessor, Harvest of Gold delivers everything I could have ever hoped for, for Sarah and Darius.  If you are new to this story, I would not suggest that you read Harvest of Gold as a stand-alone novel.  Where Harvest of Rubies focuses more strongly on Sarah, Harvest of Gold sheds more light on Darius; you need to read both to appreciate the character development of both Sarah and Darius.  The characters also recall several events of the past, and having no idea what they are referring to might diminish your connection to this story; Besides, it is an absolute joy to follow Darius and Sarah’s story from the very beginning, sharing both of their inner struggles and eventual enlightenment.  In this way, the state and progression of their relationship is also more understandable and relatable.

Afshar’s next book will be a sequel of sorts to my beloved Pearl In The Sand, and will tell the tale of Rahab and Salmone’s son, Boaz, and his Ruth – one of the most beloved romances of the Bible.  I can’t wait for this one! 

While relatively new to the trade, Afshar is one of those authors who so clearly has a God-given talent for writing as well as the Lord’s blessing over her work, and has already proven herself an author who won’t let you down.  Her ability to incorporate a work of fiction into a well-known Biblical tale and/or historical facts is second to none, her character development is strong and realistic, and her flare for romance and intrigue combine for an unforgettable read.  She has firmly established herself as one of my absolute favourite authors, right up there with Francine Rivers and Dee Henderson.  Ms Afshar, may God continue to bless you in your writing, and may you bring us many more books to love and cherish. 


Product Information:
Title: Harvest of Gold
Author: Tessa Afshar
Number of Pages: 368
Publisher: Moody Publishers
Year: 2013
ISBN-10: 0802405592
ISBN- 13: 978-0802405593

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