Book Review: No Safe Haven

Written by Kimberly and Kayla R. Woodhouse
Reviewed by Nora St. Laurent

Back Cover: Jenna and Andi Tikaani-Gray are hoping for a fresh start. Though twelve year-old Andi has long struggled with a rare medical disorder, she and her mother have finally received good news from out-of-town specialists. Its news they desperately needed, especially after the recent death of Jenna’s husband (Andi’s dad) in a car accident.

But as they are flying home to Alaska, ready to begin again, the unthinkable happens. The pilot sabotages their small plane and crashes into Sultana, one of the most remote and dangerous mountains in the Land of the Midnight Sun. Even worse, a winter storm is headed their way along with someone who doesn’t want to save them, but to kill them.

Only one man can keep them alive: Cole Maddox, the mysterious last-minute passenger who joined them on their flight. But trust doesn’t come easy to Jenna or Andi and they both sense Cole is hiding something.

A relentless tale of survival and suspense unfolds, involving military technology designed by Jenna’s late husband that some would do anything to possess.

Review: I was thrilled to receive a review copy of such a gripping, action adventure novel. This is a great book for so many reasons. First it’s written by an amazing mother-daughter team. Kayla is 13 years old and writes the POV of the 12 year old girl who has the same nerve disorder she has. Making Kayla’s condition part of the story brought a depth of emotion, suspense and drama to a whole new level. Not only were Andi and her mom running from men determined to wipe them out but there was an urgency to get Andi to a safe place to stabilize her condition.

This book gripped my heart from the start as the action exploded from the very first page, literally. Jenna and Andi try to find help and piece together what happened as the reader is doing the same. Not only were the main characters Cole, Andi and Jenna running from the enemy, they were also battling Mother Nature and all she had to dish out: snow storms, frost bite, avalanches, and dropping temperatures that messed with their ability to get a grip on the side of the Alaskan mountains as they climbed to safety.

Jenna tries to explain her daughter Andi’s medical condition to their pilot Cole. He says, “She’s a real dare devil, huh?”

“Oh, you have no idea. Take a stubborn child, and remove the fear factor. Think about it. If you have no fear of consequences – mainly pain- you’d try just about anything.”

Kayla adds much to the story and gives the reader an insight into her condition they never would have had other wise. Andi’s dialogue, spunk, and her passionate relationship with Jesus added intensity, tension and gave an urgency of their rescue.

This compelling story had me holding my breath, biting my nails and up until the wee hours of morning seeing who would survive. No Safe Haven has it all danger, suspense, romance and characters I cared about long after I finished reading the last page.

This is an engaging, faith-building story written by a dynamic mother-daughter writing duo you won’t want to miss. I’m anxiously awaiting this team’s next book called, “Race Against Time.” After reading No Safe Haven, you’ll be looking for it too!

Book Review: People of the Book

Written by Kathi Macias
Reviewed by Nora St.Laurent –

Back Cover: Will God protect and keep them safe in the midst of persecution?

Farah lives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with her family, and wants nothing more than to develop a deeper devotion to her Muslim faith. She sees the month of Ramadan as her chance to draw nearer to Allah, and pursues that goal. All goes well until the prophet Isa—Jesus—appears to her in a dream and calls her to Himself. Her brother, Kareem, who has never liked her, seeks to discredit her.

Farah’s cousin, an only child, frequents an online chat. She discovers former Muslims discussing their new belief that Isa is much more than a Muslim prophet—He is actually the Son of God. She becomes acquainted with an American girl of Muslim ancestry—now a devout Christian—Sara. Sara has problems of her own due to her brother Emir’s suspicious behavior.

Each finds their faith put to the test. Will they be true to their beliefs? Will God protect them, or will they pay the ultimate price for their faith?

 

Review: Kathi Macias shows readers how God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things all over the world, in her extreme devotion series. This author quickly captures the reader’s attention and shows God’s love in action through the hard times her characters face. Since I’d read all the books in this series, I was anxious to receive a review copy of the last installment, People of the Book, which focuses on teenage girls in Saudi Arabia.

Sara and Nura are teenagers who develop a friendship through an on-line chat room. Sara is a Christian living in America and Nura is a Muslim girl living in Saudi Arabia. Sara prays, witnesses to Nura and tells her where to read the Bible online.

This is a haunting tale of young people facing tough choices from one corner of the globe to the other. My heart strings ached as I read of the dangers these Saudi women faced just for thinking about reading the Bible and talking about God. The challenges these young girls encountered, captivated my thoughts. I contemplated their hardship, danger and courage they faced in order to take a stand for Christ in their country.

This author reminds the reader that many people don’t have the religious freedoms we enjoy here in America. As I read, I was compelled to pray for people like Nura and Farah, who are facing prison sentences and/or death for serving the one true God. Kathi reminds the reader that God’s Word is alive, and it can touch the human heart and mind in very unique and real ways. I was reminded that God can do far more than we can even imagine through prayer and reading the Bible. It’s powerful!

Kathi has an extraordinary gift of telling a compelling story that comes alive in the heart and mind of the reader. The constant tension between the characters and the dangers they faced, made this a page turner for me. These characters came alive. The call on their lives was authentic and the battle for their hearts and their minds real. I felt compassion for these teens as they struggled with their faith, hope and courage to seek the face of the Savior. They were also overwhelmed by the unconditional love God wanted to give them. Kathi Macias once again has skillfully penned a believable, captivating, mission-minded novel…one that will stay in your heart and your mind. I know you’ll find yourself sharing this story with your friends. I can’t stop thinking about this story and the characters. I highly recommend People of the Book.

Book Review: Words

Written by Ginny L. Yttrup
Reviewed by Nora St. Laurent –

REVIEW: “I can’t talk. I can’t breathe. Tears choke me.”

That’s exactly how I felt when I read the last page of this book. I’m thrilled to have received a review copy of such an astounding, debut novel. I haven’t read anything this profound, inspiring and life changing since Redeeming Love and June Bug. The author is a master wordsmith and trusts the readers’ imagination to fill in the blanks about the abuse Kaylee endures and talks about it without being graphic. Ginny L. Yttrup has overcome sexual abuse in her own life, is compassionate towards its victims and has penned a story filled with healing and hope. Ginny shows the reader a way to shine the light of Jesus in the darkest places of life in a real way.

Kaylee is a ten year old girl fascinated by words. Words are a colorful protective shield she uses to give her hope and clarify things she doesn’t quite understand. Kaylee is a bright and loving child surviving day after day anticipating her mother’s return.

I enjoyed Ginny Yttrup creative writing style. It was fun to read and had a powerful impact to the story, for example Kaylee says, “my favorite C word – co-loss-al. It means awesomely huge.”

She uses it to describe the colossal redwood trees she loves. The tree is her special place to hide her earthly treasures and new words. The author’s style adds richness to the novel and gives Kaylee a distinctive way of expressing herself.

“I’m so hungry I could eat the scrambled egg in one bite. Instead, I try to make it last, make it seem like more. I take tiny bites. I think of a word that I added to my box this week.

Sa-vor – verb 1) to perceive by taste or smell, esp, with realism 2) to give oneself to the enjoyment of: savor the best in life.

Yes, I savor each bit of my eggs.”

This author’s unique voice allows the reader to experience and see the healing power of love in action. This book is not preachy but potent. The message is clear “Jesus is the word – the most important word”

Ginny had me going in parts of the story I thought I had figured out, and threw in twists I didn’t see coming. Parts were surprising, suspenseful and I found myself nervous for the characters. This book is quite an experience, one you’ll never forget and don’t want to miss. This novel is one of the reasons why I read and promote Christian Fiction. I highly, highly recommend it. Treat yourself to reading Words. I don’t know where Ginny will go from here but I’ll be following.

Book Review: Digitals

Written by Ronie Kendig
Reviewed by Nora St. Laurent

Back Cover: Step into the boots of a former Marine in this heart-pounding adventure in life and love. Colton “Cowboy” Neeley is a Marine trying to find his footing as he battles flashbacks now that he’s back home. Piper Blum is a woman in hiding—from life and the assassins bent on destroying her family. When their hearts collide, more than their lives are at stake. Will Colton find a way to forgive Piper’s lies? Can Piper find a way to rescue her father trapped in Israel? Is there any way their love, founded on her lies, can survive?

Review: While delivering an astounding high energy, nail-biting suspense story, Ronie Kendig has mastered the art of having the story’s message pierce your heart and her quirky endearing characters feel like family. I was thrilled and couldn’t wait to read the review copy I received, which is the second book in the “Discarded Heroes” series. I’ve read all of Ronie Kendig’s book so far and think Digitals is her best work yet.

This author masterfully weaves the right amount of action, adventure and romance that pulls at your heart strings, keeps you intrigued and wanting to read more. This novel begins with a bang – literally explosions from the start – as Colton is in the middle of a flashback. The Nightshade’s team is heading for another mission impossible; will Colton Neeley be up for it? He’s struggling with flashbacks and no sleep. Now the team leader has him in therapy sessions to see if that helps…maybe he should just give up this gig!

…“he’d had enough. Was it worth it? Was it worth it to sear images into his brain and live with them night after night so someone half a world away could sleep when he couldn’t? Was it right? Sacrificing his peace for theirs?”

This story beautifully shows how God uses flawed characters to get his work done; he doesn’t need us, but allows us to be part of his plan. Piper Blum is a woman with a few secrets she has to keep; her life depends on it. Piper can’t let anyone close. Then she meets Colton Neeley and his daughter in a surprising way. She likes Colton and thinks he’s handsome, but she has to stop thinking like this. Colton senses she isn’t telling him everything, but he doesn’t press her for answers – he knows all too well about secrets. He has a few he doesn’t want to share either.

I’m amazed at how every time I read Ronie’s books, she captures the male bonding moments in battle and the teasing teammates are involved in – all in a male point of view. I often forgot that a woman wrote this book. It’s so believable! The pace of the story and Ronie’s well-timed humor in the middle of some combat situations, allow the reader to experience the effects of war, and the suspense and drama before something else happens.  It kept me on the edge of my seat as this author gave me a glimpse into the emotions, struggles and agony military men and their families go through.

I was engaged in the story hook, line and sinker from the very first page. I cared for her main characters Colton, Piper, Mickey and the rest of the Nightshades team. Warning to readers: You will lose hours of sleep, as you won’t be able to rip yourself away from this novel, its message and the characters. They will become your friends and you’ll find yourself cheering for them. This book is a keeper and Ronie Kendig is an author to watch, she’s getting better by the book!

Book Review: The Master’s Wall

Written by Sandi Rog
Reviewed by Nora St Laurent

Back Cover: HE FIGHTS FOR HIS FREEDOM. SHE FIGHTS FOR HER LIFE. TOGETHER, THEY FIGHT FOR EACH OTHER. After watching Roman soldiers drag his parents away to their death, David, a young Hebrew, is sold and enslaved to serve at a villa outside of Rome. As David trains to become a skilled fighter, he works hard to please his master and hopes to earn his freedom. However, an opportunity to escape tempts him with its whispering call. Freedom beckons, but invisible chains hold him captive to the master’s granddaughter, an innocent girl with a fiery spirit. David vows to protect Alethea from his master, the murderous patriarch, and contrives a daring plan—sacrifices his own life to save hers.

Review: I’m thankful to have received a review copy of this author’s powerful debut novel. Sandi Rog takes the reader on an amazing, colorful journey through history to the first century Rome, AD 76, a time when Christians risked their lives to meet together and share the gospel.

Sandi hooked me from the first page, “David tried not to cry, tried not to breathe or make a sound as he crept along the dark street… he followed the enemy. There were three of them. And they had taken his parents.”

I felt for young David as he watched the horrific scene of his parents being tortured to death. He tried to stop them but they were too big. They beat on him and left him for dead. When he awoke he found himself in a place he never dreamed he could be.

“A slave?…David had known slaves. But never had he imagined what it might mean to be one. He was to be bound to a master, to obey and do his every will” No longer free. How could this have happened?

Alethea’s a feisty, curious, little girl who gets in trouble a lot and doesn’t think twice about sharing what’s on her mind! Alethea loved to explore, stands up for what she believes in and has a vivid imagination. But this little girl’s heart is heavy; she’s lost the love of her life. She still has nightmares of seeing her dad murdered in the middle of the night. A night she should have been in bed.

Alethea noticed a slave named David has started to work at their house. She is determined to talk to him; even if it was forbidden to do so and could be punished. He looked kind and she needed a friend.

Alethea reminded David of his younger sister. He doesn’t know he wasn’t supposed to talk to her. David’s obedience, faith and courage are tested over and over; as he adjusts to the rules of a slave. He dreams of freedom but God has challenged him to share the gospel, his love and forgiveness to the people who have mistreated him.

My eyes were glued to the book as the story reached the climatic conclusion. I felt like I had my heart in my throat. I was clueless as to how this creative, sensitive author would bring this unbelievable story to an end. There were definitely twists, turns and a few surprises in store for the reader right up until the end. I love learning about history through this novel. It gave me a deep understanding of Roman culture and helped me get into the mind set of early believers.

I cared for David and Alethea and their unique situation. Sandi pens a vivid, heart wrenching story filled with great pain, loss, hope, second chances, honest emotions, forgiveness, and sacrificial love. These characters and their stories will be on your mind and in your heart long after you finish the last page. I highly recommend this historical fiction novel. I’m looking forward to reading the second book in the Iron and the Stone series. You will too!

NOTE TO READER: The first week of November, Sandi was diagnosed with Type A lymphoma –a very aggressive cancer that was manifesting on her brain. For every copy of The Master’s Wall that is purchased, either paperback or Kindle, her publisher will donate a dollar to the fund to help her family with the medical bills. To order Sandi’s book click this link http://deward.com/?p=1111

Nora St. Laurent
The Book Club Network
www.bookfun.org

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