Wolf Soldier – James R. Hannibal – a book review

Dear Readers,

To Connor Enarian, the Lightraider Order is stuff of legends. He knows they existed, but they are also no longer around or relevant to his life. Then comes the night he and his parents are attacked by a goblin, and everything changes.

So starts The Wolf Soldier by James R. Hannibal, a start of a new fantasy/allegory Lightraider Academy series. It will also have a game and memorization cards available alongside the books. It will be a whole world you can enter with Connor.

Though in the Young Adult genre, I found myself lost in the story. I wanted to read more and follow Connor on his quest to save not only his own family but the land where he lives. Hannibal gives us a story that we will all be able to follow, and one that we will be eager to find out more about.

You will find yourself finding the parallels between Hannibal’s story and the world today. Of course, we don’t have goblins, orcs, and dragons wandering around, but the similarities are still there. What are the things threating the world today and what are you willing to do to save those you love?

This is a well-done story, and you should introduce not only the teen reader in your life to Connor, but also yourself.

Read on my friends, read on,

New Release Monday

Dear Readers,

Happy Thanksgiving. I know that I am thankful for each one of you that reads this blog every week. I am thankful for my job that allows me to read and talk about books everyday. I am thankful there are always more new titles rolling in.

What are you thankful for this year?

Read on my friends, read on,

Operation Joktan – Amir Tsarfati and Steve Yohn – #1 A Nir Tavor Mossad Thriller – Nir Tavor is an Israeli secret service operative turned talented Mossad agent. Nicole le Roux is a model with a hidden skill. A terrorist attack brings them together, and then work forces them apart—until they’re unexpectedly called back into each other’s lives. But there’s no time for romance. As violent radicals threaten chaos across the Middle East, the two must work together to stop these extremists, pooling Nicole’s knack for technology and Nir’s adeptness with on-the-ground missions. Each heart-racing step of their operation gets them closer to the truth—and closer to danger.

2034 – Elliot Ackerman & Admiral James Stavridis – (release date was March of 2021) – On March 12, 2034, US Navy Commodore Sarah Hunt is on the bridge of her flagship, the guided missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones, conducting a routine freedom of navigation patrol in the South China Sea when her ship detects an unflagged trawler in clear distress, smoke billowing from its bridge. On that same day, US Marine aviator Major Chris “Wedge” Mitchell is flying an F35E Lightning over the Strait of Hormuz, testing a new stealth technology as he flirts with Iranian airspace. By the end of that day, Wedge will be an Iranian prisoner, and Sarah Hunt’s destroyer will lie at the bottom of the sea, sunk by the Chinese Navy. Iran and China have clearly coordinated their moves, which involve the use of powerful new forms of cyber weaponry that render US ships and planes defenseless. In a single day, America’s faith in its military’s strategic pre-eminence is in tatters. A new, terrifying era is at hand.

Lost in Darkness – Michelle Griep – Travel writer Amelia Balfour’s dream of touring Egypt is halted when she receives news of a revolutionary new surgery for her grotesquely disfigured brother. This could change everything, and it does. . .in the worst possible way. Surgeon Graham Lambert has suspicions about the doctor he’s gone into practice with, but he can’t stop him from operating on Amelia’s brother. Will he be too late to prevent the man’s death? Or to reveal his true feelings for Amelia before she sails to Cairo?

Christmas books – part II

Dear Readers,

Is there such a thing as to many Christmas books? I hope not as we have a glorious list of them. If you missed last weeks post, make sure you go check it out.

Once again the variety of genres, settings and characters is amazing. Each one is unique and yet they all remind us of the true meaning behind our holiday celebrations.

Read on my friends, read on,

Christmas in Evergreen – Lacey Baker – Life is going great for Hannah, really. She’s fallen in love with her best friend, her brother is getting married, and she’s looking forward to another festive Christmas in Evergreen.  Still, between her job, taking charge of the choir, and being the town’s jill-of-all-trades, she’s feeling uninspired…especially when Elliot starts to question his own role in the tow. Hannah finds fresh inspiration in the brand-new Evergreen Christmas Museum, and she volunteers for their storytelling project. When she interviews her fellow Evergreenians, however, she learns that not everyone wants the museum around; specifically Mr. Cooper who owns a third of the building. As Hannah finds herself with more and more responsibilities, and as her relationships with Elliot and her family grow strained, she starts to wonder about what she really wants. Can her love and newly-found purpose survive the changes that loom after the holidays are over?

Under the Texas Mistletoe – Karen Witemeyer – “A Texas Christmas Carol,” in which a town’s wealthy, Scrooge-like bachelor finds his world invaded by a woman set on earning his donation for helping the local poor, and by the penetrating questions of three mysterious visitors. It also includes, for the first time in print, “An Archer Family Christmas.” When the Archer clan gathers for the Christmas holiday, an unexpected request for help leaves Cassandra Archer directly in the path of a dangerous outlaw. Desperate to protect the woman he loves, Jim Archer races to the rescue, only to find that Cassie’s life is not the only one in peril. It will take a Christmas miracle–and the entire Archer clan–to keep a second Archer Christmas from ending in disaster. In previously published “Gift of the Heart,” a widow and her young daughter move to Hope Springs for a fresh start. But with no money to secure a home, Ruth must convince a wealthy resort owner to accept her heirloom brooch as collateral. Will the pin that brought love to three generations soften the heart of a wounded recluse and give Ruth a second chance at love as the holidays draw near?

Drive Through Christmas Eve – Richard Raum – The characters in these diverse stories find joy, hope, and encouragement in unexpected encounters. You’ll meet –

• Danny, who talks to an angel on his cell phone
• Hanima, whose scarred hands cradle the baby Jesus
• Holly, who sends a message via Christmas tree
• Jeanette and Isabella, who find a surprise in their barn one winter’s night.
• Pastor Mick, who sees something old in a new way

Christmas in the Alps – Melody Carlson – After a time of heartache and loss, Simone Winthrop discovers a tantalizing letter from her French great-grandmother, which seems to suggest that she is heir to a family treasure. Ever practical, Simone assumes the claim is baseless, but her best friend encourages her to find out for sure. Despite her deep-rooted fear of flying, Simone boards a jet to travel to Paris at Christmastime to uncover the truth. During the long flight, Simone meets the charming Kyle Larsson, who’s on his way to France to become an apprentice clockmaker. Though they abruptly part ways, an unexpected rendezvous in the French Alps at Simone’s family’s clock factory may lead to the discovery of the family treasure . . . and so much more.

Christmas Courtship – Shelley Shephard Gray – A solitary sort, forty-two-year-old Atle Petersheim spends his time hard at work in his wood shop. But as the days get long, he realizes just how lonely he’s become. When his longtime crush, Sadie Mast, a widow and mother of three, asks him to help her build a room in their barn for her son Cale, Atle can’t say no. Eager to pursue Sadie at last, he turns to bookmobile librarian Sarah Anne Miller for courting advice. More than happy to help, Sarah Anne decides the best way to learn about love is through books—romance novels to be precise. Between completing holiday orders for her flourishing food business, helping Cale navigate a dramatic new relationship with his boss’s daughter, and coming to terms with the trauma her late husband had inflicted upon her and her children—not to mention Atle showing up at her door with flowers—Sadie is in over her head. Though Atle’s efforts are initially clumsy and his declarations a bit awkward, Sadie can’t help but be charmed by him. He’s patient and kind…and at times even seems to know far more about romance than he’s let on.

Mistletoe in Juneau – Dahila Rose – Danni’s a social media influencer who’s way out of her element. She sort-of broke up with her boyfriend-slash-manager, and she escaped her fast-paced life in New York to spend Christmas with an old friend in Juneau, Alaska. Danni takes in the beauty of the scenery and the warmth of the community…and she’s drawn to the local sheriff. Before Declan was an Alaskan State Trooper, he was in the Army. An IED explosion cost him his leg…and his fiancée, who couldn’t deal with the injury. He knows Danni’s a city girl, while he loves the Alaskan wilderness. Could two very different people find what their hearts are looking for?

Baxter Family Christmas – Karen Kingsbury – Two years have passed since the terrible car accident that took the life of John Baxter’s daughter, Erin, along with her husband and three of their four daughters. Prompted by grief, and missing his daughter, John has invited a stranger for Christmas Eve dinner—Kendra Bryant, the transplant recipient who now has Erin’s heart. But Ashley and her brother Luke are worried that this new dinner guest might be not be the best idea. They want to protect their ten-year-old niece, Amy—the only surviving member of the accident. But John is determined and believes meeting Kendra is something his deceased daughter would want Amy to do. At the same time, Maddie West, the eighteen-year-old daughter of Brooke Baxter West, is praying for meaning this Christmas. Could she find it in a newfound friendship with a boy she never expected to see again? Maddie believes in miracles, especially at Christmastime, but this is a stretch even she can’t imagine. Meanwhile, Kendra Bryant has been struggling these past few years to make sense of the tragedy that gave her a second chance. She believes this invitation to see the Baxters and witness their unwavering faith in God can instill peace and happiness back into her life.

New Release Monday

Dear Readers,

Those holidays are rapidly approaching. I don’t know about you, but this year seemed to fly right by. I am still left wondering where May went, let alone preparing for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Here a few new titles to help you get through those busy holidays, especially if you need an excuse to get away from a few relatives.

Read on my friends, read on,

Every Word Unsaid – Kimberly Duffy – Augusta Travers has spent the last three years avoiding the stifling expectations of New York society and her family’s constant disappointment. As the nation’s most fearless–and reviled–columnist, Gussie travels the country with her Kodak camera and spins stories for women unable to leave hearth and home. But when her adventurous nature lands her in the middle of a scandal, an opportunity to leave America offers the perfect escape. Arriving in India, she expects only a nice visit with childhood friends, siblings Catherine and Gabriel, and escapades that will further her career. Instead, she finds herself facing a plague epidemic, confusion over Gabriel’s sudden appeal, and the realization that what she wants from life is changing. But slowing down means facing all the hurts of her past that she’s long been trying to outrun. And that may be an undertaking too great even for her.

The London House – Katherine Reay – Caroline Payne thinks it’s just another day of work until she receives a call from Mat Hammond, an old college friend and historian. But pleasantries are cut short. Mat has uncovered a scandalous secret kept buried for decades: In World War II, Caroline’s British great-aunt betrayed family and country to marry her German lover. Determined to find answers and save her family’s reputation, Caroline flies to her family’s ancestral home in London. She and Mat discover diaries and letters that reveal her grandmother and great-aunt were known as the “Waite sisters.” Popular and witty, they came of age during the interwar years, a time of peace and luxury filled with dances, jazz clubs, and romance. The buoyant tone of the correspondence soon yields to sadder revelations as the sisters grow apart, and one leaves home for the glittering fashion scene of Paris, despite rumblings of a coming world war. Each letter brings more questions. Was Caroline’s great-aunt actually a traitor and Nazi collaborator, or is there a more complex truth buried in the past? Together, Caroline and Mat uncover stories of spies and secrets, love and heartbreak, and the events of one fateful evening in 1941 that changed everything.

Christmas book 2021 – part one

Dear Readers,

Christmas books galore. They are the quickest way to get that wonderful warm fuzzy feeling that goes along with the holidays. All those special memories we hold dear. All those wonderful memories we are making.

There is a wonderful variety of genres, times in history and characters that each and everyone is a special read. Read one, read them all.

Read on my friends, read on

Wish Book Christmas – Lynn Austin – sequel to If I Were You – Best friends Audrey Barrett and Eve Dawson are looking forward to celebrating Christmas in postwar America, thrilled at the prospect of starting new traditions with their five-year-old sons. But when the 1951 Sears Christmas Wish Book arrives and the boys start obsessing over every toy in it, Audrey and Eve realize they must first teach them the true significance of the holiday. They begin by helping Bobby and Harry plan gifts of encouragement and service for those in their community, starting by walking an elderly neighbor’s yellow Lab—since a dog topped the boys’ wish list for Santa. In the charming tale that follows, Audrey and Eve are surprised to find their own hearts healing from the tragedies of war and opening to the possibility of forgiveness and new love.

Joy to the World – Miller/Barratt/Vetsch – “Heaven and Nature Sing” by Carolyn Miller – Two music lovers, deeply devoted to each other, were on the brink of engagement when family circumstances drove them apart. How can they ever overcome both their obligations and their fears to find their way back into each other’s arms? “Far as the Curse Is Found” by Amanda Barratt – One winter night, a woman struggling to provide for her illegitimate child encounters a scarred veteran of the Napoleonic Wars on the streets of London. Can love conquer the darkness of two broken pasts? “Wonders of His Love” by Erica Vetsch – A Scots portrait painter finds work at a noble manor house over the holidays. He never imagined he’d fall in love with the emotionally frozen widow there. Now he wants nothing more than to thaw her heart.

Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens – One of the best-loved and most quoted stories of “the man who invented Christmas”-English writer Charles Dickens-A Christmas Carol debuted in 1843 and has touched millions of hearts since. Cruel miser Ebeneezer Scrooge has never met a shilling he doesn’t like. . .and hardly a man he does. And he hates Christmas most of all. When Scrooge is visited by his old partner, Jacob Marley, and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come, he learns eternal lessons of charity, kindness, and goodwill. Experience a true Victorian Christmas!

Mistletoe Christmas – Pepper Basham – Mistletoe is beautiful and dangerous, much like the woman from Lord Frederick’s Percy’s past, so when he turns over a new leaf and arranges to marry for his estate, instead of his heart, he never expects the wrong bride to be the right choice. Gracelynn Ferguson never expected to take her elder sister’s place as a Christmas bride, but when she’s thrust into the choice, she will trust in her faithful novels and overactive imagination to help her not only win Frederick’s heart but also to solve the murder mystery of Havensbrook Hall before the ghosts from Frederick’s past ruin her fairytale future. 

Royal Christmas Wedding – Rachel Hauck – College volleyball star Avery Truitt has not seen her former flame, Prince Colin of Brighton Kingdom, since he suddenly pushed her away five years ago. But now, the sadness of losing her father and the joy of her sister Susanna’s pregnancy have brought Avery back to Brighton just in time for Cathedral City’s enchanting Christmas season. Avery knows she can’t avoid seeing Colin—now the Kingdom’s most eligible bachelor—whether or not her heart is ready to relive the pain. But seeing him again might bring her the closure she needs after all this time. When Colin finds himself at the center of a centuries-old Brighton tradition, he must decide whether to follow the path laid out before him or follow his heart to the only woman for whom he would ring the Pembroke Chapel Bell. Can Colin convince Avery to meet him at the chapel on Christmas morning as tradition dictates, or will Avery run back to her St. Simons home and pursue a coaching career as planned?

Christmas Stories – Max Lucado – These stories—like your favorite Christmas ornaments—come in various shapes and sizes. They unfold in settings from ancient Bethlehem to rural England. From a small Texas town to the heavenly realms. Others imagine Christmas through the eyes of a burned-out candle maker and a lonely businessman. Discover the heavenly battle between angels and demons preceding Christ’s birth. Walk in Joseph’s shoes as he ponders the miracle before him. Travel to a modern-day nativity scene where the baby Jesus is missing. You’ll be awed anew at God’s gift to us with this beloved collection of yuletide tales. “In the mystery of Christmas,” Max writes, “we find its majesty. The mystery of how God became flesh, why he chose to come, and how much he must love his people. Such mysteries can never be solved, just as love can never be diagrammed. Christmas is best pondered, not with logic, but imagination.”

Amish Christmas Wedding – Clipston/Irvin/Fuller/Chapman – Evergreen Love by Amy Clipston – Ryan Lapp had promised to marry Lorene Bontrager as soon as he was able to build them a house, but the day never came. Ryan moved away. Five years later, Lorene has settled in to her old maid role, and she’s shocked when her younger sister announces her quick engagement to Ryan’s younger brother. As they rush to plan the wedding, Lorene is constantly around the family she almost joined. Worse, she’s forced to face Ryan himself, who has returned to town. As both Ryan and Lorene examine their own feelings, they must decide if they can find grace with each other—and the young people they once were—this Christmas season. There just might still be love in their future.

Holiday of Hope by Kelly Irvin – Henry Lufkin is one of four bachelors who lived in the West Kootenai, Montana, cabins that were destroyed by wildfires. He’s the only one of them who hasn’t since married, but he likes his solitude. Then an old friend asks him to care for his son, and Henry has to share his small cabin and his life with bewildered and rebellious ten-year-old Tommy. When the child encounters trouble at school, Henry reaches out to Tommy’s teacher. Leesa Yoder never expected to find herself single and teaching sixteen young scholars, and she certainly didn’t anticipate an inexperienced bachelor telling her how to do her job. Amid the flying sparks, can Henry and Leesa see that there might be hope and love in this unexpected situation?

Wreathed in Joy by Kathleen Fuller – Mary Wengerd and Jakob Mullet have been best friends since childhood. Pressured by friends and family, they decided to date—with disastrous results. When they break up, their friendship is ruined. A year later, Mary is baking her Englisch friend’s wedding and groom cakes for a Christmas Eve wedding. Mary loves the Christmas season, and had always dreamed of marrying during that time. Now she wonders if she’ll ever marry. After she and Jakob form a tenuous new friendship, Mary breaks her arm. As he steps in to help her with the cakes, Mary is inexplicably and suddenly falling for him. But they’ve already dated, and that ended so horribly. Could it be better this time?

A Christmas Prayer by Vannetta Chapman – Widower Micah Miller runs the Amish Tour Company, offering Englischers a glimpse of a simpler life as well as tea at Rachel King’s. Rachel has never married and has recently lost her parents. When Micah comes across an abandoned and injured dog, he gives it to Rachel for company. As Rachel is charmed by the dog and shocked by news of the existence of family she never expected, her heart and mind bend toward the possibilities of change in her life—even toward the possibility of love.

New Release Monday

Dear Readers,

November and December are usually slower months for new titles. Not this month, the new titles are still pouring in. Which is great for not only my own reading, but Christmas gifting. They are saying start early, I wonder if anyone will notice if the books are “slightly” used.

Read on my friends, read on,

Riverbend Gap – Denise Hunter – #1 – A Riverbend romance- When Katelyn Loveland’s car veered off a winding Appalachian Mountain road, she thought she was done for. That is until Cooper Robinson, local sheriff’s deputy, came to her rescue. And though Katie narrowly escaped her brush with death, she still fell. Hard. She wasn’t the only one. But soon Cooper learns that the woman he’s more attracted to than any he’s ever met is his brother’s new girlfriend—and therefore unquestionably off limits. Yet, despite their best efforts, Cooper and Katie can’t seem to avoid running into each other. Or ignore the undeniable chemistry between them. As they grow closer, Katie shares secrets from her past and the real reason she moved to their small North Carolina town. She also wins over Cooper’s welcoming and bighearted family. But they don’t know that her feelings for Cooper keep growing—all while she’s dating his brother. Soon the stakes of their emotional connection become higher than either could have imagined. Katie stands to lose the first family she’s ever had, and a scandal could doom Cooper’s campaign for sheriff. Suddenly they find themselves on the edge of another precipice—and they’re forced to make a decision that could change their lives forever.

Three Sisters – Heather Morris – Against all odds, three Slovakian sisters have survived years of imprisonment in the most notorious death camp in Nazi Germany: Auschwitz. Livia, Magda, and Cibi have clung together, nearly died from starvation and overwork, and the brutal whims of the guards in this place of horror. But now, the allies are closing in and the sisters have one last hurdle to face: the death march from Auschwitz, as the Nazis try to erase any evidence of the prisoners held there. Due to a last minute stroke of luck, the three of them are able to escape formation and hide in the woods for days before being rescued. And this is where the story begins. From there, the three sisters travel to Israel, to their new home, but the battle for freedom takes on new forms. Livia, Magda, and Cibi must face the ghosts of their past–and some secrets that they have kept from each other–to find true peace and happiness.

Once Upon a Wardrobe – Patti Callahan – Megs Devonshire, on a scholarship at Oxford, is brilliant with numbers and equations. She prefers the dependability of facts—except for one: the brother she loves with all her heart doesn’t have long to live. When George becomes captivated by a brand-new book called The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and begs her to find out where Narnia came from, there’s no way she can refuse. Despite her timidity about approaching the famous author, who is a professor at her school, Megs soon finds herself taking tea with the Oxford don and his own brother, begging them for answers. What she receives instead are stories . . . little-known tales from different periods in Mr. Lewis’s life, which she takes home to George. Why won’t Mr. Lewis just tell her plainly what George wants to know? The answer will reveal to Meg many truths that science and math cannot, and the gift she thought she was giving to her brother—the story behind Narnia—turns out to be his gift to her, instead: hope.

Forgiving Paris – Karen Kingsbury – A Baxter Family Saga – In Indiana, Ashley Baxter Blake and her husband are about to take an anniversary trip to Paris, but she is hesitant. More than two decades ago, she made her most grievous mistake in that same city. She has never forgiven herself for what happened there, and she still harbors secrets that she’s afraid will come to light. Just before the trip, Ashley gets a call from her niece. Jessie explains that her French boyfriend’s mother remembers working at a bakery with an American named Ashley. “Could that be you?” When Alice and Ashley meet, a flood of memories comes for both women, taking Ashley back to a reckless affair and an unexpected pregnancy and Alice to the night she nearly ended it all. Can this reunion bring healing and closure? Maybe it is finally time for Ashley to forgive herself…and Paris.