Thursday, November 16, 2017

Review: Ordinary Graces: Word Gifts for Any Season by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 788 KB
  • Print Length: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Abingdon Press (Oct. 17 2017)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01N7Z954O

 Book Description

Everyone loves to receive a gift. And God has given us many, such as his grace--the gift we don't deserve and can never earn. Promises from the One who declares we are already loved, already accepted, already created in his image. The question becomes, will we truly receive that gift? Will the reality of it actually change the way we think and notice and reach out?

God's Word will stand forever, in any season of life. These truths prompt us to respond with compassion and courage.

Through inspiring devotions, Lucinda Secrest McDowell reveals biblical blessings that remind us that: God's promises give us strength, God's grace can be most evident at our weakest points, a proper response to our abundance of blessings is simply gratitude, and the "more" we are all looking for is the same abundant life that Jesus came to give us.

Would you like to receive these gifts of ordinary grace? Join Lucinda in focusing on one word a day through devotional readings and short benedictions for any and every season to explore the many facets of Grace, Strength, Gratitude, and Life.

Ordinary Graces is filled with sweet surprises. Lucinda Secret McDowell presents her readers with one powerful word gift a day. She skillfully defines it within a biblical context, and then challenges us to take an action step. This devotional will transform the way you live each day. I highly recommend it!
--Carol Kent, speaker and author He Holds My Hand

Author Lucinda Secrest McDowell has given us an extraordinary book with her newest release, Ordinary Graces, Word Gifts for Any Season. Although this wonderful resource is one you'll always want close at hand, it's also one that you'll find yourself sharing with those you meet who need encouragement and hope. McDowell is an author you'll turn to again and again when you're looking to connect with our Heavenly Father in a deeper, more intimate way. Truly a book that is a gift to us all.
--Edie Melson, Award Winning Author, Blogger, and Speaker

Lucinda always brings me to a place closer to God, deeper in the Word, happier in relationships and more joyful in life with Ordinary Graces.
--Pam Farrel, author of 45 books including Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti and 7 Simple Skills for Every Woman

Whether read one day at a time or in a season of refreshing, Ordinary Graces by Lucinda Secrest McDowell offers focused reflection on key, attitude-altering words. McDowell's interweaving of quotes from other thoughtful considerers adds even more depth to the beautifully expressed ponderings.
--Cynthia Ruchti, author Mornings With Jesus and As My Parents Age

Little did Lucinda Secrest McDowell know that my 'life verse' is John 1:16: 'For of His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.' In Ordinary Graces, Lucinda has conveyed the strategic importance of looking for and finding God's grace in our everyday lives. His grace does transform our lives. Gently. Tenderly. Wonderfully. The words she has chosen are exquisitely real and important to my life--and yours. Indulge in the grace-filled truth she is sharing. Take it for yourself.
--Ruth Graham, author In Every Pew Sits a Broken Heart

What a delight to slow down for a few minutes of quiet with this beautifully written devotional, Ordinary Graces. In a world of hurry, Lucinda's words remind us there is grace and strength available if we will just stop to receive. Each day's reading will speak to you from Scripture and change your life for the better.
--Arlene Pellicane, author of Calm, Cool, and Connected: 5 Digital Habits for a More Balanced Life

In the beginning was the Word ... and there were words ... and they all had meaning and they were good for the spirit of man. And then Lucinda Secrest McDowell came along and took ordinary words and ushered in ordinary graces. These are the words you'd expect in a book such as this, words like gift and life. But there are also words one doesn't expect, words like broken and anger. And perhaps my favorite word of all, sleep. In Ordinary Graces, Lucinda gives us a glimpse of the ordinary to the extraordinary, highlights of her heart, and moments within the heart of God. Close enough to hear His heartbeat.
--Eva Marie Everson, CBA Bestselling Author, President, Word Weavers International

Ordinary Graces is the sort of book I can return to again and again for wise and gracious words that encourage, challenge, inspire, and comfort. A feast for the soul.
--Sharon Garlough Brown, author Sensible Shoes novel series

When I buy a devotional, I want to know that I'm getting profound insights that are theologically grounded, yet relatable to my everyday, ordinary life. That's exactly what Lucinda Secret McDowell offers in Ordinary Graces. I wanted to underline something in every paragraph, and I found myself reflecting on her words when I went about my day as a mom and a wife. This beautiful devotional will minister to your heart and lead you straight to the source of all grace: Jesus.
--Jennifer Dukes Lee, author of The Happiness Dare and Love Idol

Ordinary Graces is a short excellent daily devotional, with a Scripture verse and then practical ways on how to put the presence of God in the forefront of our day. Each one is named with a word we use in our everyday lives which Cindy knows how to capture in an excellent illustration. She writes beautifully and succinctly of the things we need to hear, usually with some humor and sharing a fascinating story from her own or a friend's life. At the end of each day's devotion, she writes a short intimate message from God to us, always aligned with the truths of Scripture. I highly recommend this book for anyone seeking to grow in knowing God.
--Valerie Elliot Shepard

About the Author

Lucinda Secrest McDowell is the author of 13 books including Ordinary Graces: Word Gifts for Any Season and Dwelling Places: Words to Live in Every Season?, has contributed to an additional 30 books, and has been published in more than 50 magazines. A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Furman University, she speaks internationally through her ministry "Encouraging Words." An award-winning writer who has earned accolades from prominent writers' conferences and retreats, McDowell directs reNEW--retreat for New England Writing and has also worked in radio broadcasting and on church pastoral staffs. She writes from "Sunnyside" cottage in Connecticut. Find her online at

My Review

 Ordinary Graces: Word Gifts for Any Season by Lucinda Secrest McDowell is an inspiring devotional that is perfect for yourself or for a gift.

Ordinary Graces: Word Gifts for Any Season is divided into four sections: grace, strength, gratitude and life. Each one word topic in the devotional begins with a bible quote, then a devotional and ends with a prayer.

Ordinary Graces: Word Gifts for Any Season if filled with meaningful and valuable encouraging words. I highly recommend this devotional.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Review: The Ghost of Christmas Past: A Molly Murphy Mystery (Molly Murphy #17) by Rhys Bowen

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 4202 KB
  • Print Length: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (Nov. 14 2017)
  • Sold by: Macmillan CA
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B071V56DLF

Book Description

 Semi-retired private detective Molly Murphy Sullivan is suffering from depression after a miscarriage following her adventure in San Francisco during the earthquake of 1906. She and her husband, Daniel, are invited for Christmas at a mansion on the Hudson, and they gratefully accept, expecting a peaceful and relaxing holiday season. Not long after they arrive, however, they start to feel the tension in the house’s atmosphere. Then they learn that the host couple's young daughter wandered out into the snow ten years ago and was never seen again. Molly can identify with the mother's pain at never knowing what happened to her child and wants to help, but there is so little to go on. No ransom note. No body ever found. But Molly slowly begins to suspect that the occupants of the house know more than they are letting on. Then, on Christmas Eve, there is a knock at the door and a young girl stands there. "I'm Charlotte," she says. "I've come home."

About the Author

 "I'm a New York Times bestselling mystery author, winner of both Agatha and Anthony awards for my Molly Murphy mysteries, set in 1902 New York City.

I also write the Agatha-winning Royal Spyness series, about the British royal family in the 1930s. It's lighter, sexier, funnier, wicked satire. It was voted by readers as best mystery series one year.
I am also known for my Constable Evans books, set in North Wales, and for my award-winning short stories. "

I was born and raised in England but currently divide my time between California and Arizona where I go to escape from the harsh California winters
When I am not writing I love to travel, sing, hike, play my Celtic harp.
* Constable Evan Mystery
* Molly Murphy Mysteries
* Her Royal Spyness Mysteries

Agatha Award
◊ Best Novel (2001): Murphy's Law
Reviewer's Choice Award
◊ Historical Mystery (2001): Murphy's Law

My Review

 The Ghost of Christmas Past: A Molly Murphy Mystery is the seventeenth Molly Murphy mystery by Rhys Bowen. I love love love this series that takes place at the turn of the twentieth century. While Molly is based in New York, most of this story is set outside of the city new Scarborough and White Plains.

Molly is still recovering from her San Francisco adventure. She lost the baby she was carrying and has been suffering from depression. When they have the opportunity to spend Christmas outside of the city at a lovely home in the country with her husband Daniel's mother.

All seems a little quiet at the country house. There are no other children there and it turns out that 10 years ago, the daughter of the house disappeared. She was only 3 years old. There is a knock at the door on Christmas Eve and the young lady claims to be the missing child. The twists and revelations keep coming.

I really loved this book. What a great Christmas mystery. I highly recommend The Ghost of Christmas Past.

Review: The Vineyard Victims (Wine Country Mysteries #8) by Ellen Crosby

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1064 KB
  • Print Length: 330 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1250076625
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (Nov. 7 2017)
  • Sold by: Macmillan CA
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B06Y5XJ4SV

Book Description

 The death of a former presidential candidate in a fiery car crash at her Virginia vineyard has ties to a thirty year-old murder, as well as to Lucie Montgomery’s own near fatal accident ten years ago, as she searches for a killer who now may be stalking her.

When Jamison Vaughn―billionaire real estate mogul, Virginia vineyard owner, and unsuccessful U.S. presidential candidate―drives his gold SUV into a stone pillar at the entrance to Montgomery Estate Vineyard, Lucie Montgomery is certain the crash was deliberate. But everyone else in Atoka, Virginia is equally sure that Jamie must have lost control of his car on a rain-slicked country road. In spite of being saddled with massive campaign debts from the recent election, Jamie is seemingly the man with the perfect life. What possible reason could he have for committing suicide . . . or was it murder?

Before long Lucie uncovers a connection between Jamie and some of his old friends―an elite group of academics―and the brutal murder thirty years ago of a brilliant PhD student. Although a handyman is on death row for the crime, Lucie soon suspects someone else is guilty. But the investigation into the two deaths throws Lucie a curve ball when someone from her own past becomes involved, forcing her to confront old demons. Now the race to solve the mystery behind the two deaths becomes intensely personal as Lucie realizes someone wants her silenced . . . for good.

About the Author

 Ellen Crosby is the author of THE CHAMPAGNE CONSPIRACY, the 7th book in the Virginia Wine Country mysteries, which will be out November 1, 2016. Also in 2016, GHOST IMAGE, the second Sophie Medina mystery will be out, along with the US edition of MOSCOW NIGHTS. Before writing fiction, Crosby was a freelance reporter for The Washington Post, Moscow correspondent for ABC Radio News, and an economist at the US Senate. After living overseas for many years, she now lives in the Washington, DC suburbs of northern Virginia. More information at or

My Review

 The Vineyard Victims is the eighth book in the Wine Country Mysteries series by Ellen Crosby. I have read all the previous books in this series. I am definitely a fan! Great series.

The book opens with a car crash. Former Presidential Candidate and neighbour Jamie Vaughn crashes into a wall at Lucie Montgomery's winery. It is the same wall that caused Lucie's disabling accident. Vaughn is dead but did he need to die. Did he crash purposely?

 Lucie cannot help herself from trying to solve the mystery around Vaughn's death. Is one of her longtime neighbours involved in his death? And what about the death of Vaughn's friend 30 years ago?
This tale is filled with riddles! Great mystery!

Love this series and highly recommend The Vineyard Victims.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Review: Death, Taxes, and a Shotgun Wedding (Tara Holloway #12) by Diane Kelly

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 4641 KB
  • Print Length: 348 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1250094909
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks (Oct. 31 2017)
  • Sold by: Macmillan CA
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B06Y5S12TF

Book Description

For IRS Special Agent Tara Holloway, this case is personal...
Wedding bells are ringing as Tara and her soon-to-be-husband Nick prepare for their big day. But along with all the RSVP cards are a series of death threats from an unknown source. The culprit must be someone from an earlier investigation--a white-collar criminal with a red-hot grudge--but Tara has run across too many lawbreakers to narrow down the search. And time, like her biological clock, is ticking.

Now, while dodging attempts on her life, Tara also finds herself embroiled in a rental scam in which a heartless crook is ripping people off left and right. Will she be able to track down the con artist and make it down the aisle in one piece? Or will "til death do us part" come before Tara can even say "I do"?

About the Author

 Award-winning author Diane Kelly writes romance and romantic mysteries featuring feisty heroines, quirky sidekicks, and sexy leading men, with humor that leaves readers laughing out loud.

My Review

Death, Taxes, and a Shotgun Wedding is the 12th book in the Tara Holloway mystery series by Diane Kelly. I don't know why I have not found this series before. This is the first book in the series that I have read.

Death, Taxes, and a Shotgun Wedding follows the adventures of IRS Special Agent Tara Holoway. As Tara is preparing for her upcoming wedding, she is almost run down while mailing her invitations. Is someone from her past dealing in the IRS gunning for her? And will she be able to finish investigating a rental scam before someone tries to kill her? And what about her wedding?

Death, Taxes and a Shotgun Wedding is a fun cozy mystery that all cozy fans will enjoy!

Review: Gin and Panic (Discreet Retrieval Agency #3) by Maia Chance

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2020 KB
  • Print Length: 281 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1250109051
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (Oct. 24 2017)
  • Sold by: Macmillan CA
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B06Y17JTLC

Book Description

“Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets—and has a high old time doing it! So will you.”—Ann B. Ross, New York Times bestselling author of the Miss Julia series

Former socialite Lola Woodby is now struggling to make ends meet as a not-so-discreet private eye in Prohibtion-era New York City, along with her stern Swedish sidekick, Berta. When they’re offered a piece-of-cake job—retrieving a rhinoceros trophy from the Connecticut mansion of big game hunter Rudy Montgomery—it seems like a no-brainer. After all, their client, Lord Sudley, promises them a handsome paycheck, and the gin and tonics will be plentiful and free. But no sooner do they arrive at Montgomery Hall than Rudy is shot dead.

When the police arrive to examine the scene, they conclude that Rudy had actually committed suicide. But Lord Sudley can’t believe his friend would have done that, and there’s a houseful of suspicious characters standing by. So Lord Sudley ups the ante for Lola and Berta, and suddenly, their easy retrieval job has turned into a murder investigation. Armed with handbags stuffed with emergency chocolate, gin flasks, and a Colt .25, Lola and Berta are swiftly embroiled in a madcap puzzle of stolen diamonds, family secrets, a clutch of gangsters, and plenty of suspects who know their way around a safari rifle.

Gin and Panic is the next jaunty, compelling Discreet Retrieval Agency mystery from beloved crime writer Maia Chance.

About the Author

 MAIA CHANCE was a finalist for the 2004 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award and is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Washington. She is writing her dissertation on nineteenth-century American literature. She is also the author of the Fairy Tale Fatal mystery series (Cinderella Six Feet Under, Snow White Red-Handed, and Beauty, Beast and Belladonna).

My Review

Gin and Panic is the third Discreet Retrieval Agency by author Maia Chance. This is the first book in the series that I have read. It can easily be read as a stand alone.

Gin and Panic is set in the 1920 Prohibition Era in New York and Connecticut. Lola and Berta, the Discreet Retrieval Agency's two owners, are hired to retrieve a rhinoceros from the country mansion of a big game hunter. They were retrieving it for Lord Sudley, an Englishman and fellow big game hunter. Lola and Berta are set to spend the weekend at the mansion but their host is murdered and then they discovered raw diamonds in the rhino head. A madcap adventure ensues from this point.

What a fun fun fun book! I loved the mystery aspect as well as the adventures that Berta and Lola became involved in. The book is well written and the author has ensured that we are back in the 1920s. I cannot wait to read more in this series!

I highly recommend Gin and Panic.

Review: Total Christmas Makeover: 31 Devotions to Celebrate with Purpose by Melissa Spoelstra

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 465.0 KB
  • Print Length: 210 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1501848704
  • Publisher: Abingdon Press (Oct. 3 2017)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English

Book Description

In the bustle of the Christmas season, it can be easy to get swept up in all of the things to do. But it's important to pause and remember that our priority should be to spend time celebrating Christ's birth and not forget to invite Jesus to his own party.

Christmas is far more than a celebration of an event from long ago or a modern holiday centered around shopping. Mindfully take time to listen to how God continues to speak through the Christmas story as the Gospel narratives centered around the birth of Jesus provide encouragement and revelation concerning the love of God and his wisdom for us today.

In Total Christmas Makeover, author and Bible teacher Melissa Spoelstra provides a practical approach for you and your family to turn your attention toward God's grace day-by-day as you prepare for Christmas. This 31-day devotional presents key scriptures, ideas to implement with each reading, and questions for reflection to guide you in rediscovering rituals, relationship, and rest to connect you more deeply with Christ this holiday season.

About the Author

 Melissa Spoelstra is a popular women’s conference speaker, Bible teacher, and writer who is madly in love with Jesus and passionate about helping women of all ages to seek Christ and know Him more intimately through serious Bible study. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Bible Theology and enjoys teaching God's Word to diverse groups and churches within the body of Christ. She is the author of Joseph: The Journey to Forgiveness, Jeremiah: Daring to Hope in an Unstable World, and the forthcoming Total Family Makeover: 8 Steps to Making Disciples at Home. She lives in Dublin, Ohio, with her pastor husband and four kids.

My Review

Total Christmas Makeover: 31 Devotions to Celebrate with Purpose by Melissa Spoelstra is lovely new book for the Advent season. It is a beautiful little book and I am looking forward to spending the Advent season fully immersed in it.

Melissa Spoelstra has divided Total Christmas Makeover: 31 Devotions to Celebrate with Purpose into three sections:  Ritual, Relationships and Rest. She explains in the Introduction that rituals are special activities to remember God, relationships are the time spent with others and rest is time to reflect on God.

Each of the 31 days has a bible reading, a devotion, a prayer, questions to reflect on what we've read and suggestions for a practical approach.

Total Christmas Makeover: 31 Devotions to Celebrate with Purpose by Melissa Spoelstra is definitely a wonderful book to spend the Advent season with. Highly recommend.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Review: A Season to Lie (Detective Gemma Monroe #2) by Emily Littlejohn

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (Nov. 14 2017)
  • Sold by: Macmillan CA
  • Language: English

Book Description

Following her acclaimed debut Inherit the Bones, this is Emily Littlejohn’s next mesmerizing mystery featuring Colorado police officer Gemma Monroe.

In Emily Littlejohn's follow-up to her acclaimed debut, Inherit the Bones, police officer Gemma Monroe has just returned to work from maternity leave. And what a first day back: a blizzard is blowing into her idyllic Colorado ski town, and while Gemma hopes for a quiet, warm evening in, she knows it will mean plenty of calls out for snow-related accidents. But when an anonymous caller reports seeing a lurker at the local high school, Gemma gets far more than she bargained for. Behind the school building, half covered in a drift of snow, lies the gruesomely murdered body of a world-famous author—whose presence in town was meant to be a secret.

About the Author

I was born and raised in Southern California but have called Colorado home for over a decade now. The beautiful mountains and open space continue to inspire me on a daily basis. 

I wrote Inherit the Bones over the course of two years. I've always had a fascination with all things mystery, horror, and the macabre. Bones was inspired by a vision I had of a clown, found dead, in full costume. I wondered who was the man behind the make-up?

And just like that, a story was born. 

I hope you enjoy spending time in Cedar Valley with Detective Gemma Monroe, her partner Finn Nowlin and the rest of the people that bring the town to life. The second book in the series, A Season to Lie, will be available in November 2017, with a third and fourth book to come. 
When I'm not writing, I'm enjoying life with my growing family, working at the local public library, and serving as the Program Director for the Rocky Mountain Mystery Writers of America. 

I'd love to hear from you, so drop me a message on the Follow Me page or send me an e-mail at

My Review

A Season to Lie is the second Detective Gemma Monroe mystery by Emily Littlejohn. It is the first book by Littlejohn that I have read. A Season to Lie was a nice surprise. It is well written and has a good story. The characters all enhance the story.

A Season to Lie follows small ski resort town Colorado police officer Gemma Monroe as she returns to work after maternity leave. It is tough on her heading back after an absence but even tougher when a murder occurs at a local private school. When it turns out that it was a famous author who died, the pressure is on to find the murderer before he hits again. Then a teacher at the school goes missing...

Great characters. I loved that Gemma was dealing with a grandparent with dementia. So many of us deal with that these days. Very realistic. 

I highly recommend A Season to Lie. It can easily be read as a stand alone. I am looking forward to the next book in the series!