Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Low Country Hero by Lee Tobin McClain - #review

Mass Market Paperback: 384 Pages

Publisher: HQN; Original edition (February 26, 2019)

Welcome to Safe Haven, where love—and a second chance—is just around the corner…

Sunny, carefree days splashing in the ocean—it’s the life Anna George has always wanted for her five-year-old twins. And now that they’ve made it to Safe Haven, South Carolina, she won’t let anyone stand in her way. Not the abusive ex she’s just escaped and not the rugged contractor who caught her setting up house in the shuttered beachfront cabins he’s refurbishing. When he offers Anna and her daughters a place to stay in exchange for her help with renovations, she’s tempted. His gentle way with her girls makes her want to trust him, but she’s been wrong before…

A family is the last thing contractor and former military man Sean O’Dwyer wants right now. But when he discovers Anna and her girls, he recognizes kindred spirits. They’re survivors who’ve seen the worst of people, just like he has, and he’ll do anything he can to help them. As he and Anna spend their days bringing the cottages back to life and their nights sharing kisses in the warm bayou breezes, Sean must choose between the life he always wanted and the family he can’t live without.



I've read a number of books set in South Carolina, that I almost feel at home there.  Unfortunately, the O'Dwyer boys (Sean, Cash and Liam) had quite a different experience with the town of Safe Haven.  When they were quite young (only Sean was over 10 at the time), they and their mother fled to Safe Haven away from a horribly abusive husband and father.  He found them, didn't give a crap about his sons, but dragged the mother off and after assaulting her, left her for dead on the side of the road.  So the boys grew up in foster care.

Flash forward to the present day, and it seems like history is repeating itself.  Anna George is hiding out with her two young daughters, holing up in a seemingly abandoned motel.  I say seemingly because Sean happens to be fixing up the place, because the owner wants to reopen the motel for business.

It seems like the majority of Safe Haven's citizens have a somewhat similar story to tell.  Maybe that is why they seem more accepting of strangers (with little background info) and if something affects one resident, it affects them all.  Of course, no small town is complete without a few 'regular commuters of the crazy train', but the other residents seem to have a way of co-ordinating counteraction on the fly, so things rarely get truly out of hand.

The unfortunate flip side of most of the residents having had trouble in some sort in their pasts makes it hard for them to trust.  It is gratifying to see how Safe Haven helps the mending of lives begin.

There is a lot of tension building with various characters during the book, and the not-to-be-missed ending had my heart in my throat. 

One thing I truly appreciated about Low Country Hero, is Ms. McClain's ability to pair a satisfying ending to one character's part of the story while also indicating that there are still other peoples' paths to be explored. 

And I want an invite to one of Ma's Friday night dinners!



Lee Tobin McClain read Gone With The Wind in the third grade and has been an incurable romantic ever since. When she’s not writing emotional love stories with happy endings, she’s probably driving around a carload of snarky teen girls, playing with her rescue dog and cat, or teaching aspiring writers in Seton Hill University’s MFA program. She is probably not cleaning her house.


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(Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher(s) via TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.)

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Grit & Grace by Suzanne Hadley Gosselin & Gretta Kennedy - #review

Motherhood Requires Grit and Grace
New devotional book offers moms of young children encouragement and spiritual nourishment

 Eugene, OR — Being a mom is one of the most rewarding experiences a woman can have, but motherhood also has its share of challenges physically, mentally, emotionally and even spiritually. Even if a woman has read all the parenting books and received sage advice from other moms, until she becomes a mom she won’t truly understand the responsibility and challenges that come with the title. For the overwhelmed mamas who think they’ll never live up to the Supermoms around them, Suzanne Hadley Gosselin and Gretta Kennedy, authors of Grit & Grace: Devotions for Warrior Moms (Harvest House Publishers/February 12, 2019/ISBN: 978-0736976244/ $16.99), want to offer encouragement and assurance they are not alone.

From firsthand experience, Gosselin and Kennedy share about the rigors and joys of being a mom. Elbow deep in the grind of diapers, laundry and peanut butter sandwiches, moms may find themselves struggling in the day-to-day challenges of parenting. “Having grit is pushing through the hard stuff of motherhood with determination and laser-focus on the end goal of raising children who love and serve Jesus,” Kennedy explains. “Having grace means realizing that God offers you peace, rest and help in this season. Also, as you give yourself grace, you will find you have even more grace to give yourself and your kids from the One who is present in your life right now.”

Grit and Grace is a refreshing collection of 90 daily devotions written by two moms who have found themselves desperately in need of encouragement. They hope to offer reassurance and hope to other moms. “When I was in the throes of raising three young children, one day it occurred to me that I was depleted in every way, but especially spiritually,” Gosselin says. “As a pastor’s wife, I had many spiritual resources easily accessible to me, and yet I was still struggling. That was a big problem, because in this season of raising young children I really needed Jesus, arguably more than ever.”

It was around this time that Gosselin and Kennedy, former college roommates, started comparing notes over the phone. Gosselin was beginning to realize that God uses the years of early motherhood to teach moms so many wonderful truths through their children. She wanted to share these lessons with other moms. While Kennedy’s children were past the pre-school stage, she felt God was laying it on her heart to minister to younger moms as well. God gave them the same vision to provide digestible devotions to encourage moms of young children, which led to the concept of Grit & Grace.

Through humor and vulnerability, the authors deliver short messages of truth to help moms embrace God’s calling on their lives to raise children who love and serve him. The authors understand the challenges of finding quiet time to spend in the Word, and have written the devotionals with that in mind. Reading the Scripture and prayer that accompany each day’s message will help the reader discover more fully who she is in Christ and how important she is to her children and family. The authors cover topics such as perfectionism, comparison, joy, gratefulness, fear, rejection, weariness, calling, tenacity and hope.

“We wrote Grit & Grace for moms of young children,” Gosselin says. “We’re looking at the season that encompasses babies, toddlers and early elementary school. If they have multiple children, a lot of mamas are navigating all of these stages at once. While the stories focus on the young children years, the truths from God’s Word apply to mamas at all stages. We have had Grandmas comment that they feel encouraged to show greater intentionality toward their grandchildren.”

The authors hope readers will feel encouraged and empowered that God has chosen them for their specific children because they are called to this. Fellow Grit & Grace Warrior Moms can connect with the authors and fellow readers to share about all aspects of motherhood on Facebook (gritandgracemoms), Twitter (Gritandgracemom) and Instagram (@gritandgracemoms).


What Moms Are Saying

“LOVING it so far! I feel like I’m linking arms with you both and you’re helping me lift my eyes beyond the trenches of motherhood and onto Jesus.”
~ Jennifer Hess, Mom

“This book is awesome! I have had the privilege to read a copy ahead of its release. It speaks to my soul. It is about identity and heart, not about how to do it all right. A breath of fresh air and a lifeline.”
~ Kelly Larson, Mom

“This is wonderful! So very right where young moms struggle—and rich with wisdom. I love the immediate launch into identity as well as your story of “not rockin’ this role of mom.” I pray that thousands of moms discover this treasure—and, even more—discover the riches available in Jesus.”
~  Diane Comer, author of Raising Passionate Jesus Followers: The Power of Intentional Parenting

“You know spending time in the Word will help you be a better mom, but you seriously cannot imagine adding one more task to your day. Reading Grit and Grace won’t feel like one more thing to do. Rather you’ll look forward to each encounter with Suzanne and Gretta as they help you keep your eyes on Christ amidst the highs and lows of motherhood.”
~ Rhonda Stoppe, Author of Moms Raising Sons to Be Men

My Review

Somewhere during or before the first devotional, I started...well, crying.  I could recognize elements of myself on every page and thought, "Wow.  These ladies really get it!"

When I started reading the devotionals, I thought to myself, "Well, I've had tons of the gritty side of motherhood, but would like to know more about this grace business!" *lol* It took a while for me to realize that the grace is always there.  Maybe sometimes the grit gets in our eyes, and we are unable for a time to see the grace.

It is so very inspirational and comforting to know that there is no SuperMom, not even the near-mythical "Proverbs 31 Woman".  Everybody has good days, and every mom has days...well, that she might like to have a do-over.  Each devotional is a cool drink of water in the middle of a desert, an idea to remind us we are not alone in this journey - there are other moms in our towns, cities and neighborhoods, and of course, God is there every single moment.

This one is staying nearby on my desk or nightstand.  I never know when I'll need a little nudge in the right direction, and I hope to tackle motherhood with "Grit and Grace" in the future.

About the Authors

Suzanne Hadley Gosselin and Gretta Kennedy first met as roommates at Multnomah University. They are quick to admit they did not like each other when they first met due to opposite personalities. However, they worked out their differences and became best friends who roomed together for all four years of college. Two decades later, during a phone conversation, they realized God was laying on their hearts the desire to write a devotional for moms of young children to encourage and strengthen them in their role as mothers. It was then the idea for Grit & Grace: Devotions for Warrior Moms was born.

Suzanne Hadley Gosselin is a regular writer and editor for Focus on the Family and David C Cook and previously served as an editor for Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr. Gosselin has written books for Zondervan, Harvest House and Tyndale and is the author of Expectant Parents: Preparing Together for the Journey of Parenthood.

Gosselin lives in Bakersfield, CA with her husband, Kevin, and four children. The family enjoys escaping to the ocean.

Learn more about Gosselin at She can also be found on Facebook (suzannegosselinauthor), Twitter (@gosselinsh) and Instagram (@suzannegosselin).

Gretta Kennedy is a speaker, mentor and writer with a degree in women’s ministry from Multnomah University and over 20 years of ministry experience. She passionately supports her husband, Jay, and his fulltime camp ministry. They are raising their three children on Vancouver Island and report their adventures on the travel blog Traveling Islanders.

Grit & Grace is her first book.

Keep up with the Kennedy family’s adventures at and on Facebook (travelingislanders), Twitter (@traveislanders) and Instagram (@travelingislanders).

Fellow Grit & Grace Warrior Moms can connect on Facebook (gritandgracemoms), Twitter (Gritandgracemom) and Instagram (@gritandgracemoms).

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Parabellum by Jack Nanuq - #bookblitz

JACK NANUQ currently makes his living as a Private Investigator; hence the nom de guerre (and no profile photo). Prior to this occupation, he lived the nine lives of a cat. He has been a teacher, police officer, park ranger, equipment operator, freight handler and even a ranch hand.

He has lived and worked in Egypt, Alaska, Oregon and New York (the State, not the City). He has snorkeled in the Red Sea. Slept on the Nile River and under the Northern Lights (but not at the same time). Walked among grizzlies, ridden his bike under the midnight sun, climbed Mt St Helens, and even jumped out of a perfectly good airplane.

He and his wife currently live on a small farm near Albany, NY. They share this property with three dogs, three cats, a handful of chickens and two peacocks. He enjoys outdoor activities, writing, Tae Kwon Do and teaching self-defense.  

Amazon ~

How does a POW become a spy? And why? And what the hell is a GALCO? These are only a few of the questions Carson Nowak needs answers to.

Carson Nowak is a CIA contractor like none you’ve ever met before.  Shortly after George W Bush is elected president Carson is tasked with retrieving a trunk load of documents.  The order comes not from the Agency or even the President; but a higher authority, his Nana.  In addition to the documents, the trunk contains a war relic that is tied to a mysterious death just before D-Day.  Tracing the provenance behind this relic triggers a chain of events that not only unlocks Carson’s family history but garners the interest of a South American hit squad. Carson must navigate the challenges of protecting his family, maintaining his business, ensuring the safety of a refugee developing a revolutionary weapons system, and deal with an infuriating curmudgeon.  Along the way, he falls in love.  To navigate these challenges he must enlist the help of a pencil-thin code breaker, a claustrophobic corpsman and a Haitian nurse.    

Universal Amazon Link ~ 


Carson Nowak navigated the minefield that was his great-grandmother’s attic; careful to step where the random boards were nailed to the joists. The dry-rotted flooring had the structural integrity of toilet paper. No need to crash through the ceiling; that would really set her off. Moldy boxes, piles of clothes and garish Christmas decorations, all covered in layers of dust and pigeon shit, further complicated the task.
He glanced at the map, drawn on the back of a piece of junk mail. The queen of recycling, Nana never threw anything away without finding at least a second use for it. He spotted the old tarp. The steamer trunk should be under that mess. Carson sighed, “Any farther away and it would have been in the neighbor’s house.”
What the hell am I doing? he thought. Carson had tried to talk her out of this fool’s errand, but she insisted it be brought downstairs. When he showed reluctance, she screamed at him in the four languages she knew best. Then in the one she knew the least; English. 

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Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Secrets at Cedar Cabin by Colleen Coble - #review

Hardcover: 352 Pages

Publisher: Thomas Nelson (January 22, 2019)

From USA TODAY bestselling author Colleen Coble comes the third book in her beloved Lavender Tides series.

Her mother lied about her identity and her husband wasn’t who she thought he was—can Bailey even trust herself anymore?

Running for her life in the wake of her mother’s murder, Bailey Fleming escapes to the only place she can think of—a remote, dilapidated cabin in Lavender Tides. Intending to finally get to the truth behind the lies of her past, Bailey only finds more questions when bodies are discovered near her cabin hideout along with traces of a dangerous human trafficking ring. In an unlikely partnership with FBI agent Lance Phoenix, Bailey races to understand the mystery surrounding her life and circumstances before the murderer tracks her down.

Meanwhile, Lance is determined to rescue his sister, Ava, who was abducted after running away from home as a teenager. An unexpected lead brings him to the remote cabin, and he wonders if Bailey—with her suspicious past and strange connections to his sister’s case—is really who she claims to be and if she can somehow lead him to Ava.

Filled with Colleen Coble’s custom blend of suspense and romance, Secrets at Cedar Cabin takes us back to the evocative landscape of Washington’s coast where nothing is quite as it seems.



Oh my goodness, I feel for Bailey, lied to by the two most important people in her life, her husband and her mother.  Then, a nice remote cabin can be a nice place to relax, but it's also scary as all get out at night.  Remote though it may be, it doesn't really serve Bailey's need to hide, because there are things out in the woods in the middle of the night, including the FBI.

One of the things I like best about the author's writing is her ability to keep the romance clean and the suspense set on high.  It's a tough balance to strike, but Ms. Coble gets it just right.

Lance, the 'FBI guy', have to learn to trust each other, at a time when neither are predisposed to trusting anyone but themselves.  Bailey's troubles we already knew (mother and husband lied, mother killed, B on the run from the killer), but Lance adds his own layer to that as well.  The reason that he's out there in the wilderness is because his sister ran away some years ago and was forced into a human trafficking system.

Another thing the author 'gets right' (IMO) is in wrapping up the story.  When the tale ends too abruptly, I get almost a little let-down.  Trust me, no worries about that here.  To use a foodie metaphor,  the meal of "Secrets" was full and satisfying, but there's still a 'lee-tle' room for dessert.

Be sure to catch the two prior installments to this Lavender Tides series, The View from Rainshadow Bay, and  The House at Saltwater Point.  There's also a novella in the series, Leaving Lavender Ties.


Best-selling romantic suspense author Colleen Coble’s novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, the ACFW Carol Award, the Romance Writers of America RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers’ Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has nearly 4 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana.

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(Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher(s) via TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.)