Winners: Favorite Reads and Favorite Covers 2017 Giveaways

My hearty thanks to everyone who entered 2017’s Favorite Reads and Favorite Covers giveaways!

I’m happy to announce that Shamekka won a copy of Home by Ginny L. Yttrup, Cassandra won a copy of Loving Luther by Allison Pittman, sbmcmh won a copy of The Last Operative by Jerry B. Jenkins, Kathy won a copy of The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron, Linda won a copy of Weaver’s Needle by Robin Caroll, and Pat won a copy of Egypt’s Sister: A Novel of Cleopatra by Angela Hunt. Congrats!



Be sure to check out all of this year’s Favorite Reads and Favorite Covers for great books to add to your reading list.


World of the Innocent

When It’s Time Series



The Samurai’s Heart by Walt Mussell

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

The Samurai’s Heart by Walt Mussell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Sen knows it is her duty to marry soon. But she’s a Christian who seeks a Christian husband, and her faith has been banned in Japan. Nobuhiro, the son of a respected samurai, may be a good choice for marriage, but he doesn’t understand the hold Sen’s foreign religion has on her. Her faith may prove dangerous for herself and those around her in The Samurai’s Heart, a novel by author Walt Mussell.

I’ve become nicely acquainted with samurai culture through books and film over the years and have heard about Christianity in early (well, at least, earlier) Japan. So as soon as I learned of this ChristFic novel’s existence, it went straight to my TBR list.

I must say, the Prologue got me especially pumped. Although I didn’t get quite as pumped about the story again until the last third or fourth of it, it was worth reading and waiting for. I wasn’t exactly wild about the two leading characters at first, who seem to be a mutual mix of much blushing and shrinking away and bouts of naiveté, and I didn’t get a convincing sense of chemistry between them. But they do get their moments to stand up and show some fire, and in due time, they both grew on me.

I found much of the narration to be somewhat stilted or simplistic, the development to be a bit choppy in places, and missing quotation marks occasionally disturb the flow between the narration and dialogue. But the story maintains a keen sense of its historical setting throughout the read, and the intrigue eventually took me from being interested to being enthralled.

I’m keeping my eyes peeled for the next book in this series.

Note for my blog readers: not out of keeping with the subject matter, this novel contains some scenes of bloody violence.


Marry Me for Christmas (2013)

Film reviews are subjective. I tend to rate films not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Marry Me for Christmas (2013) from Swirl Films
Rated G. Comedy, Romance, Christmas, African American Actors

My thoughts: It’s time to go home for the holidays, and Marci’s (Malinda Williams) family will have all their usual, nosy questions about her love life. So what’s this successful–and single–businesswoman supposed to do? Well, there’s always the possibility of finally bringing a fiancé home! Even if he happens to be a fake one.

Now this was a fun one to watch. I liked the story better than I liked some of the acting, though even that acting isn’t too bad, and I came to appreciate Marci more as the movie went on.

I can do my share of good ol’ Christmas corny, though some parts here move a bit past corny into contrived. But what I enjoyed most was that, even if some of the story’s developments are too “all of a sudden” in an underdeveloped kind of way, the movie has twists I didn’t expect in what could have easily been a more predictable holiday flick.



Dance from Deep Within by D.L. Sleiman

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. WhiteFire Publishing provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.

Dance from Deep Within by D.L. Sleiman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Layla, Rain, and Allie first meet each other in class at college. They’ll be collaborating on Unity in Diversity writing assignments for the semester. But they’ll need each other for more than that as they face new challenges of culture, faith, and love in Dance from Deep Within, a novel by author D.L. Sleiman.

Likely no big surprise, but it was the racially and religiously diverse aspects of this book that attracted me to it, without my knowing anything else about the plot. While I’ve read mainstream fiction and nonfiction with this kind of diversity, and have seen a little more of it in some Christian thrillers, this may be my first encounter with it in a contemporary women’s ChristFic novel.

There’s a lot going on in the three main ladies’ lives, and I’m already anticipating reading the sequel. Now, the characters’ feelings and thoughts would run the gamut (perhaps slipping from enlightening contemplation to idling in place sometimes), so I had a little difficulty following along emotionally here and there. I also have some trouble when proselytizing and romance mix in novels, as it makes me feel iffy about the characters’ motives and the timing of it all.

I’ll admit the story’s “Jesus visions” became a bit much for me—not because I don’t believe in visions, but with it happening a few times and to more than one character, it started to feel like too convenient a tack for the plot. Also, considering how fierce parents can be, I didn’t find a particular scene to ring the truest to life, as I believe a parent would spring to action much faster in such a dubious situation.

Still, I enjoyed the dynamics between Layla, Rain, and Allie throughout the book, and a scene showing how ride-or-die they become got me especially pumped about their friendship. Again, I’m looking forward to seeing what the sequel has in store for these women.