The three most important parts of a book are: a well constructed plot, compelling characters, and a satisfying conclusion.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

THE MOON SISTERS - A Novel By Therese Walsh

The Moon Sisters by Therese WalshPublisher:  Crown
Release Date:  March 4, 2014
Pages:  336
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction

Book Description:  A beautiful coming-of-age novel about two sisters on a journey to forgive their troubled mother, with a sheen of almost-magical realism that overlays a story about the love of a family, and especially between sisters.

Therese Walsh's poignant and mesmerizing novel is a moving tale of family, love, and the power of stories. After their mother's probable suicide, sisters Olivia and Jazz are figuring out how to move on with their lives. Jazz, logical and forward-thinking, decides to get a new job, but spirited, strong-willed Olivia, who can see sounds, taste words, and smell sights, is determined to travel to the remote setting of their mother's unfinished novel to say her final goodbyes and lay their mother's spirit to rest.

Though they see things very differently, Jazz is forced by her sense of duty to help Olivia reach her goal. Bitter and frustrated by the attention heaped on her sunny sister whose world is so unique, Jazz is even more upset when they run into trouble along the way and Olivia latches to a worldly train-hopper. Though Hobbs warns Olivia that he's a thief who shouldn't be trusted, he agrees to help with their journey. As they near their destination, the tension builds between the two sisters, each hiding something from the other, and they will finally be forced to face everything between them and decide what is really important.

Wanda's Thoughts - The coming of age novel begins with a tragic change for two sisters, Jazz and Olivia. Their mother is found dead in the kitchen with the gas turned on and the pilot light off. 

Olivia, the younger sister, impulsively tosses her mother’s ashes in a suitcase and goes off to find a ghost light, or will-o’-the-wisps, lights that appear over bogs and swamplands. Some say they are spirits or lost souls trying to find their missing parts. Their mother had talked a lot about them over the years, in relation to the book she was writing. And the story unfolds as Olivia is off to Cranberry Glades in search of the ghost lights and her sister, Jazz, tries to convince her that it will serve no purpose, and goes after her to protect her. The trip takes them through a myriad of obstacles as these two sisters struggle to find themselves and each other. 

Twenty two year old Jazz was tired of being her sister’s keeper and was very often filled with anger. She finally found a job at a funeral home, but now she has to put it on hold. Her family members had many quirks that weren’t easily swept under the rug. It was a strange family. 

Olivia, a complex character, was a dreamer. She is legally blind and has a neurological condition called Synesthesia. She has the ability to taste words and see sounds. Olivia follows her impulses, regardless of sense. 

Hobbs is a train-hopper they meet along the way. He is a mysterious man covered with tattoos and has trouble written all over his face. Hobbs told Olivia early on that he wasn’t to be trusted, but Olivia becomes drawn to him. Jazz looked at Hobbs and Olivia and thought they were strangely alike – both wild as the wind. 

The story has themes of grief, guilt, secrets, and regrets. The captivating and complex characters are well drawn. The author really gets into the hearts and minds of the sisters and tension builds as memories surface. There are a lot of twists and turns along the way with an ending that I wasn’t expecting. The Moon Sisters is a touching story that is beautifully written. My rating is 4/5 stars. 

Therese WalshThe Author - Therese Walsh - Therese's debut novel, The Last Will of Moira Leahy, was published in 2009 by Shaye Areheart books (Random House). Her second novel, The Moon Sisters, will be published by Crown (Penguin Random House) in March 2014.

Therese is the co-founder of Writer Unboxed, a blog for writers about the craft and business of fiction. Before turning to novels, she was a researcher and writer for Prevention magazine, and then a freelance writer. She’s had hundreds of articles on nutrition and fitness published in consumer magazines and online.

She has a master's degree in psychology.

Aside from writing, Therese’s favorite things include music, art, crab legs, Whose Line is it Anyway?, dark chocolate, photography, unique movies and novels, people watching, strong Irish tea, and spending time with her husband, two kids and their bouncy Jack Russell.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

LIVING LIFE UNDAUNTED: 365 Readings and Reflections from Christine Caine

Product Details
Publisher:  Zondervan
Release Date:  April 1, 2014
Pages:  432
Genre:  Religion

Book Description - Here are 365 thought-provoking devotions culled from the spiritually challenging words of acclaimed speaker and advocate Christine Caine. Including an introduction by the author, these short selections offer daily wisdom, inspiration, and companionship. These daily readings that encourage readers to do what God calls them to do are compiled from Undaunted and many of her other writings.

Wanda's Thoughts - What a great way to start your day with these daily readings! Rich in content, Living Life Undaunted is divided into sections for the four quarters of the year –

Practical thoughts and insights on life circumstances are applied to each reading and then concludes with a Moment of Reflection. Every day you’ll be inspired to delve deeper into the scriptures and invest in your spiritual needs. 

Written in a clear and simple way, this compilation of daily devotions will inspire and encourage you. It is a wonderful companion to the Bible and will certainly help grasp God’s message written in the scriptures. I highly recommend – 5 stars.

I received a complimentary copy from Zondervan through BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review of this book. 

About the Author - Christine Caine Known for her ability to communicate profound messages of hope and inspiration, Christine Caine has a heart for reaching the lost, strengthening leadership, championing the cause of justice, and building the local church globally. She is a member of the leadership team at Hillsong Church in Sydney, Australia, and also directs Equip & Empower Ministries.
In 2008, Christine and her husband, Nick, founded The A21 Campaign, an organization dedicated to addressing the injustice of human trafficking. The A21 Campaign's comprehensive approach includes raising awareness, preventing future trafficking, taking legal action, and offering support services to survivors.
Christine Caine is an avid believer in the hope-giving power of the local church, she is the author of A Life Unleashed, The Core Issue; Run To Win, and Can I Have (and do) It All, Please?
Christine Caine in a nutshell:
passionate :: enthusiastic :: inspirational :: determined :: relentless :: devoted :: compassionate :: authentic :: creative :: innovative :: caffeinated :: Greek :: Australian :: traveling-preacher-chick :: wife :: mother :: speaker :: activist :: blogger :: author :: mentor :: fighter of human trafficking :: die-hard for the cause of Jesus Christ!
Image of Christine Caine

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

VIENNA NOCTURNE: A Novel By Vivien Shotwell

Vienna Nocturne by Vivien ShotwellPublisher:  Ballantine Books
Release Date:  February 25, 2014
Pages:  304
Genre:  Historical Fiction

Book Description - In late-eighteenth-century London, a young girl takes her first singing lessons with a mysterious castrato in exile. Her life is forever changed. Having learned everything he can teach her, Anna leaves behind all the security and familiarity of home and journeys to Naples and Venice to struggle and triumph in Italy’s greatest opera houses. Only sixteen, she finds herself in an intoxicating world of theaters, nobility, and vice, overwhelmed by her newfound freedom and fame. Her first bitter experience of love and heartbreak inevitably follow. 

Within a few years, Anna is invited to sing in Vienna, the City of Music, by the emperor himself. There, in a teasing game of theft and play, Anna first meets Mozart, a young virtuoso pianist and striving, prodigiously talented composer. They are matched in intellect and talent, and an immediate and undeniable charge forms between the two, despite both being married to others. 

As her star rises in Vienna and her personal life deteriorates, Anna experiences an ultimate crisis. During this trying time, her only light is Mozart: his energy, his determination in her, and his art. She, in turn, becomes his hope and inspiration, and his joy, as he writes for her some of his most exquisite and enduring arias—music that will live on as his masterworks. 

Rich in historical detail and beautifully wrought by Vivien Shotwell, an author who is herself an opera singer, Vienna Nocturne is a dramatic tour de force of a woman’s struggle to find love and fame in an eighteenth-century world that controls and limits her at every turn.

Wanda's Thoughts - This was an extraordinary read! The tempo picked up early on and I couldn’t put it down. A portrait of a woman, a phenomenal musician, emerges in this beautifully written novel. 

Late 18th Century – England – Anna Storace was an extremely talented eleven-year-old girl. She played harp and guitar and could sing anything on sight. She becomes a student of the famous Castrato, Venazio Rauzzini, who took one look at Anna and cherished her like she was a treasure. Within a few short years, Rauzzini shapes her voice, and truly believes Anna can become a great opera star. Anna and her family depart for Naples. Nowhere in the world was superb singing more prized than in Italy. Anna and her family meet up with many hardships. There are so many singers in Naples and an entire year is cursed by a fog of confusion. Anna’s father dies and her family is left alone with little money, and debts accumulating in both London and Naples. And the story unfolds ---


Francesco Benucci – Buffo – a male singer of comic roles in opera. Anna and Benucci become a match in Vienna and Anna falls in love with him, but he doesn’t return her love.

John Fisher is a virtuoso violinist. He is a widower and an acquaintance from London and arrives in Vienna with no friends. He desires some English company, especially music lovers. He connects with Anna’s family and a marriage occurs that only produces heartache and tragedy.

Stephen Storace is Anna’s older brother and a prodigy on the violin. He’s very protective of Anna and she has the utmost respect for him. 

Aloysia – Mozart’s sister-in-law, married to a well-regarded actor and painter, Joseph Lange. Mozart was in love with Aloysia, but she wouldn’t have him, so he married her sister, Constanze. 

The eccentric Amadeus Mozart was an absolutely brilliant musician, and had been composing since he was a boy. Anna had heard many virtuosi play, but Mozart surpassed them all. When playing the piano Mozart used such a variety of expression with unbelievable improvisations. He was jovial, but filled with such intensity, his music being so extremely complicated. Mozart and Anna enter into a love affair, which may or may not have really happened according to the author’s notes at the end. 

With the exception of just a few, the characters are based on actual people. The timeline and many scenes are based on real events.

There is so much to love about this book. It is a rich treat for music lovers, especially those of opera. The plot, while mixing elements of reality with fiction, brings this musical history to life in the most intimate way. The author also brings the melodies of Mozart to life with her beautiful style of writing – it truly amazed me and I was compelled to read on. The storyline never loses momentum and you’re drawn in with its wide cast of eccentric characters. There are scenes in the book that I found deeply touching – a thoroughly great read! Don’t miss this one! 5 stars.

Vivien Shotwell
The Author - 
Vivien Shotwell is a classically trained singer with degrees from Williams College, the Yale School of Music, and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was an Iowa Arts Fellow. As an undergraduate voice student at Williams, Shotwell first sang the beautiful aria “Non temer, amato bene” (“Don’t fear, greatly beloved”), which Mozart wrote for and performed with the young soprano Anna Storace, and knew she had to tell their story. A daughter of independent booksellers, Shotwell was born in Colorado, raised in Nova Scotia, and now divides her time between Halifax, Nova Scotia, and New Haven, Connecticut. This is her first novel.

Saturday, March 22, 2014


A Circle of Wives by Alice LaPlantePublisher:  Atlantic Monthly Press
Release Date:  March 4, 2014
Pages:  325
Genre:  Mystery

About the Book:  When Dr. John Taylor is found dead in a hotel room in his hometown, the local police find enough incriminating evidence to suspect foul play. Detective Samantha Adams, whose Palo Alto beat usually covers small-town crimes, is innocently thrown into a high-profile murder case that is more intricately intertwined than she could ever imagine. A renowned plastic surgeon, a respected family man, and an active community spokesman, Dr. Taylor was loved and admired. But, hidden from the public eye, he led a secret life—in fact, multiple lives. A closeted polygamist, Dr. Taylor was married to three very different women in three separate cities. And when these three unsuspecting women show up at his funeral, suspicions run high. Adams soon finds herself tracking down a murderer through a web of lies and marital discord.

With a rare combination of gripping storytelling, vivid prose, and remarkable insight into character, Alice LaPlante brings to life a story of passion and obsession that will haunt readers long after they turn the final page. A charged and provocative psychological thriller, A Circle of Wives dissects the dynamics of love and marriage, trust and jealousy, posing the terrifying question: How well do you really know your spouse?

Wanda's Thoughts:  I was initially drawn to this book because of the abundance of rave reviews and the seemingly interesting premise. Unfortunately, my expectations were not met. It lacked genuineness with a storyline that was quite implausible. Dr John Taylor, a polygamist, who juggled his life among three wives, stretched credibility to the limit.

The writing is good, with simple dialogue, and makes for an easy read. The individual stories were cleverly woven together and all came together for a rather satisfying conclusion. However, I never connected to the characters and found them all unlikeable with little or no depth. There was very little suspense or drama and no real intrigue. I found this book to be barely lukewarm - no spark whatsoever. My rating - 2 stars.

Alice LaPlanteThe Author - Alice LaPlante -   Alice LaPlante is an award-winning writer of both fiction and non-fiction. She teaches creative writing at Stanford University, where she was a Wallace Stegner Fellow and Jones Lecturer. She also teaches in the MFA program at San Francisco State University. Her fiction has been widely published in Epoch,Southwestern Review, and other literary journals. Alice is the author of five books, including the LA Times bestseller Method and Madness: The Making of a Story (W.W. Norton 2009). Her latest book, the novel Turn of Mind, was published by Grove Atlantic in 2011 and won the Wellcome Trust Book Prize for 2011. She lives with her family in Northern California.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

LEFT BEHIND #1: A Novel of the Earth's Last Days By Tim LaHaye, Jerry B Jenkins

Left Behind by Tim LaHayePublisher:  Living Books
Pages:  352
Publication Date:  2000
Genre:  Religion

About the Book:  An airborne Boeing 747 is headed to London when, without any warning, passengers mysteriously disappear from their seats. Terror and chaos slowly spread not only through the plane but also worldwide as unusual events continue to unfold. For those who have been left behind, the apocalypse has just begun.

WC's Review:  Even though this book about the earth's last days was written nearly two decades ago, it remains a more critical read today. God, though infinite, is running out of time for us miserable sinners.

Bible prophecy is an integral part of Scriptures, as told through Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and of course, the author of the Book of Revelation, John of Patmos.

Accepting the horrors of the Rapture and great Tribulation is a profound task for those of us who worship man. LaHaye and Jenkins lay this out clearly through interesting, though pliable, characters who survive the Rapture and come under the wisdom of a local pastor who, himself, missed the uplifting experience.

World events fall into place as predicted, culminating with, as Christians familiar with the last book of the New Testament are aware, the disclosure of the Antichrist. The Antichrist will fascinate and charm us to the point that many of us will not recognize him.

The heroes and heroines of this stunning novel recognize the purveyor of evil too readily. Perhaps that is because they are prepared. Perhaps that is because they know what to look for. Perhaps that is the power of God.

Tim LaHayeThe Author:  Tim LaHayeTimothy F. LaHaye is an American conservative evangelical Christian minister, author, and speaker. He is best-known for the Left Behind series of apocalyptic fiction, which he co-wrote with Jerry B. Jenkins. He has written over fifty books, both fiction and non-fiction.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

FOR SUCH A TIME By Kate Breslin

For Such a Time by Kate BreslinPublisher:  Bethany House Publisher
Release Date:  April 1, 2014
Pages:  432
Genre:  Historical Fiction

Book Description:  In 1944, blonde and blue-eyed Jewess Hadassah Benjamin feels abandoned by God when she is saved from a firing squad only to be handed over to a new enemy. Pressed into service by SS-Kommandant Colonel Aric von Schmidt at the transit camp of Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia, she is able to hide behind the false identity of Stella Muller. However, in order to survive and maintain her cover as Aric's secretary, she is forced to stand by as her own people are sent to Auschwitz. Suspecting her employer is a man of hidden depths and sympathies, Stella cautiously appeals to him on behalf of those in the camp. Aric's compassion gives her hope, and she finds herself battling a growing attraction for this man she knows she should despise as an enemy. Stella pours herself into her efforts to keep even some of the camp's prisoners safe, but she risks the revelation of her true identity with every attempt. When her bravery brings her to the point of the ultimate sacrifice, she has only her faith to lean upon. Perhaps God has placed her there for such a time as this, but how can she save her people when she is unable to save herself?

Wanda's Thoughts 1944 - World War II was in full swing. Hadassah Benjamin, half Jew, had ceased to exist. She was now Stella Muller, an Austrian bookkeeper. Stella was told her beauty would save her, her blonde hair and blue eyes being rare to her people. She'd spent months in Dachau, living in quarters unfit for livestock and her dignity was stripped bare. The Nazis used hunger as a weapon, making the weak fall victim to disease and death. 

Colonel Aric von Schmidt, an SS Kommandant, bends the rules and removes Stella from Dachau and takes her to Theresienstadt. Stella had clerical skills and she was to become Herr Kommandant's secretary, but what were his real motives? He was the enemy, a Jew Killer, but he'd shown Stella kindness and concern. Stella totally captivates the Herr Kommandant and they soon become drawn to each other. A forbidden love evolves that is wrapped in survival and tragedy --- and the story unfolds. 

Theresienstadt was to be Stella's new home and her safety depended on Herr Kommandant. Behind Theresienstadt's facade lay dirty, straw filled stalls crammed with Jews who were suffering from hunger and dysentery. There was no hope for them. Unlike Stella, they would not be rescued, but put on cattle cars, a death train, and transported to Auschwitz, a place where Jews never returned, and Krematorium fires burned day and night. 

This is a powerful and intense book filled with anger, grief, and humiliation. An absolute must read that will evoke many emotions - a story about the Holocaust. Simply one of the best books I've read on this horrible period of history. My rating is 5 stars. 

From the book - The Moorexpress had reached the Krematorium. A loud wail echoed from inside the ovens - a child's cry of terror. 

I received an advanced reading copy from LibraryThing through Bethany House to read and review. All opinions shared are solely my responsibility.

Kate BreslinThe Author - Kate Breslin - A Florida girl and former bookseller, Kate Breslin migrated to the Pacific Northwest where she lives with her husband and a spoiled cat named Coco. Kate has written travel articles, published award-winning poetry, and was a finalist in RWA's Golden Heart Contest. FOR SUCH A TIME is her debut novel; now that she's writing inspirational romance, Kate enjoys creating stories showing how God's love brings two hearts together. When she's not plotting the next novel, Kate can be found with her nose in a book, or enjoying a long walk in one of Washington's beautiful forests. She also likes to do a bit of traveling to new places--great for finding the next story idea! She'd love to hear from you, so please stop by and say hello at

Monday, March 17, 2014

THINGS THAT MATTER: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics By Charles Krauthammer

Things That Matter by Charles KrauthammerPublisher:  Crown Forum
Pages:  400
Date Published:  October 22, 2013
Genre:  American History

Reviewed By WC

About the Book:  From America’s preeminent columnist, named by theFinancial Times the most influential commentator in the nation, the long-awaited collection of Charles Krauthammer’s essential, timeless writings.
A brilliant stylist known for an uncompromising honesty that challenges conventional wisdom at every turn, Krauthammer has for decades daz­zled readers with his keen insight into politics and government. His weekly column is a must-read in Washington and across the country. Now, finally, the best of Krauthammer’s intelligence, erudition and wit are collected in one volume.
Readers will find here not only the country’s leading conservative thinker offering a pas­sionate defense of limited government, but also a highly independent mind whose views—on feminism, evolution and the death penalty, for example—defy ideological convention. Things That Matteralso features several of Krautham­mer’s major path-breaking essays—on bioeth­ics, on Jewish destiny and on America’s role as the world’s superpower—that have pro­foundly influenced the nation’s thoughts and policies. And finally, the collection presents a trove of always penetrating, often bemused re­flections on everything from border collies to Halley’s Comet, from Woody Allen to Win­ston Churchill, from the punishing pleasures of speed chess to the elegance of the perfectly thrown outfield assist.
With a special, highly autobiographical in­troduction in which Krauthammer reflects on the events that shaped his career and political philosophy, this indispensible chronicle takes the reader on a fascinating journey through the fashions and follies, the tragedies and triumphs, of the last three decades of American life.

WC's Thoughts:  Charles Krauthammer, whether seen on Fox television and read in many columns of the Washington Post, possesses the maddening habit of enticing the viewer and reader into his insightful wisdom only to be eft waving for the coup de grace, the illuminating point that finally puts to rest the issue at hand. No less so in this baffling book dealing with three decades of passions, pastimes and politics, provocatively entitled, "Things That Matter."

Among Krauthammer's concerns are personal reminiscences of Churchill, the Bushes, the Clintons, the Obamas, and many others. God and Man is always fun, as are stem cell research, terrorism, the global conundrum, and the future of unipolar America. Damn, as hoped, Charles does not get around to finalizing the end of America as the world's greatest democratic republic, as constantly pondered and predicted by the two great founders, Jefferson and Franklin, both of whom would be stunned the country still exists and appalled at its development.

Charles is unique. He invites us in while overwhelming us with words and references that may or may not exist. Indeed, he delights in confusing us and making us scamper to look up words that flow freely from his mouth and pen. You can sense him smirking.

The reader can only continue this weighty tome if heavily informed. The guy or gal who can't come up with the three branches of government should retire with a romance novel. Nonetheless, Charles is always entertaining, and some parts are worthy of rereading and reflection. 

About the Author:  American Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist, political commentator, and physician. His column is syndicated to more than 400 newspapers and media outlets.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

MY MOM MY HERO: Alzheimer's - A Mother and Daughter's Bittersweet Journey By Lisa R Hirsch

My Mom My Hero -Alzheimer's, A Mother and Daughter's Bittersw... by Lisa HirschPublisher:  Logan Shawn Press
Release Date:  March 8, 2013
Pages:  200

Book Description:  A Daughter’s Newfound Love - # 1 on Amazon's Memoir's Best Sellers List( during free E book offer) 
When Lisa Hirsch found out her mother, Ruth, had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, her love, appreciation, and caring for her mother was transformed. To Lisa’s surprise, it has brought her and Ruth closer together than they’ve ever been. My Mom My Hero tells the story of this mother-daughter relationship through a series of entries from Lisa’s internationally popular blog. Ultimately this is an uplifting and inspirational book for anyone who’s going through the difficult and often lonely ordeal of caring for a loved one who suffers from this devastating illness.
Only available on Amazon & Kindle Worldwide.

Wanda's Thought's Lisa was always her Dad's girl. He showered her with affection and spoiled her. As a child Lisa had a poor relationship with her mom. She'd built up resentments toward her, but things changed when her mother was diagnosed with the dreaded disease, Alzheimer's. A horrible disease, Alzheimer's can destroy a lifetime of memories. It can be truly life changing. It was during this time that Lisa learned to love her mom unconditionally. Her mom had become a delight and an inspiration to her. 

I was rather disappointed with this book. I found the posts written on the blog to be redundant and there was very little insight on the disease itself. There were some poignant moments, but overall it was lacking depth. I just never connected to the book, losing interest early on. My rating - 2 Stars.

From the book - I've often described her mind like a blank canvas. It is amazing that Alzheimer's can just remove one's life, as if it never existed.

Lisa HirschAbout the Author - Lisa Hirsch is a popular blogger with a worldwide audience. She had a long, successful career in the fashion industry and had numerous articles published in the US, the UK, and Canada. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and has one loving son.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

DISTORTION By Terri Blackstock ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Distortion by Terri BlackstockPublisher:  Zondervan
Release Date:  March 11, 2014
Pages:  352

Book Description:  When Juliet Cole’s husband of fifteen years is gunned down in a dark parking lot before her eyes, she thinks it was a random shooting. Devastated and traumatized, she answers hours of questioning. When she’s finally allowed to return home to break the news to her boys, she hears a voicemail that takes the situation from a random shooting to a planned, deliberate attack. ‘Mrs. Cole, we know you have access to the supply and the money. If you don’t turn fifty million over to us and give us the codes, then you’ll be burying more family members.’ Suddenly, Juliet realizes that she and her children could be in danger. She teams up with her sisters and PI Michael Hogan to dig into the sham Bob has been living for years. The more she learns, the worse the betrayal. A drug trafficking history, a fortune in cash, and a secret family all emerge to turn Juliet’s belief system on its head, and threaten the things she loves.
Are she and her sisters skilled enough as sleuths to get to the truth?

Wanda's Thoughts:  This was my first time reading a Terri Blackstock book and I absolutely loved it! It is a page-turner, for sure, with skillful storytelling that just draws you in. 

The first chapter opens with a somber scene as Juliet Cole's husband is murdered in a U-haul parking lot as she watches. Juliet and Bob had two sons, and she thought a good marriage, but Bob seemed to have another life which she knew nothing about. She had loved Bob, and if there were clues to his deception, she certainly didn't see them. She only saw the best in him. She and her family were entangled in grief and shock and all she could see ahead of her was heartache. There are many startling revelations, and Juliet takes many blows to her heart. She wanted to give up, but she had to go on for her two sons. Juliet's husband had a past life that had taken her to the lowest of the low, but she was determined to persevere because of her faith and hope. And the story unfolds ---

The author spun a tale of mystery that was complicated, and it will keep you guessing, and a storyline that ended with a big crescendo of suspense. The characters were well drawn and likable and I liked the subtle spiritual aspect of the book. A lot of depth to this story - a great read! I highly recommend this book, written by an incredible author! 5 stars.
I received a complimentary copy from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review of this book. All opinions shared are my own.

Terri BlackstockThe Author - Terri Blackstock - Terri Blackstock is a New York Times best-seller, with over six million copies sold worldwide. She is the winner of two Carol Awards, a Christian Retailers Choice Award, and a Romantic Times Book Reviews Career Achievement Award, among others. She has had over twenty-five years of success as a novelist. 

Terri spent the first twelve years of her life traveling in a U.S. Air Force family. She lived in nine states and attended the first four years of school in The Netherlands. Because she was a perpetual “new kid,” her imagination became her closest friend. That, she believes, was the biggest factor in her becoming a novelist. She sold her first novel at the age of twenty-five, and has had a successful career ever since.

Recent books include Truth Stained Lies (Book 1 of her Moonlighters Series), and her acclaimed Intervention Series (Intervention, Vicious Cycle, and Downfall). Other recent favorites include Predator, Double Minds, the Restoration Series, the Newpointe 911 Series, the Cape Refuge Series, and the SunCoast Chronicles series.

In 1994 Terri was writing romance novels under two pseudonyms for publishers such as HarperCollins, Harlequin, Dell and Silhouette, when a spiritual awakening prompted her to switch gears. At the time, she was reading more suspense than romance, and felt drawn to write thrillers about ordinary people in grave danger. Her newly awakened faith wove its way into the tapestry of her suspense novels, offering hope instead of despair. Her goal is to entertain with page-turning plots, while challenging her readers to think and grow. She hopes to remind them that they’re valued by God and that their trials have a purpose.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

THEN AND ALWAYS By Dani Atkins ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Then And Always by Dani AtkinsPublisher:  Ballantine Books
Expected Release Date:  May 20, 2014
Pages:  320
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction

Book Description:  Rachel Wiltshire has everything she’s ever wanted: a close group of friends, a handsome boyfriend, and acceptance to the journalism program at her top-choice college. But one fateful evening, tragedy tears her world apart. 

Five years later, Rachel returns home for the first time to celebrate her best friend’s wedding. Still coping with her grief, she can’t stop thinking about the bright future she almost had, if only that one night had gone differently. But when a sudden fall lands her in the hospital, Rachel wakes to find that her life has completely changed. Now she has her dream job as a writer and a stylish apartment, but the people she loves most are not the way she remembers them. Unable to trust her own recollections, Rachel tries to piece together what really happened, and not even she can predict the astonishing truth.

Wanda's Thoughts:  Then and Always is a story about tragedy, love, and second chances. Rachel Wiltshire wakes up in a hospital after an accident, which caused a nasty blow to her head. She seem to be waking up to a whole new world and one that might actually be far better than the one in which she had lived. She was told that she was suffering from a type of amnesia in which she believes she is remembering things which hadn't actually happened. It all seemed ludicrous and surreal. The whole world around her appeared false and she had absolutely no recollection of this life. She felt confused and frustrated. And the story unfolds---

This is skillful storytelling that draws you in from the beginning with beautiful descriptive writing and attention to detail. The story has a well constructed plot with compelling characters. And I was deeply moved by the ending scenes of the book - a perfect and satisfying conclusion. An interesting read - 4 stars.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions shared are my own.

Dani AtkinsThe Author - Dani Atkins - Dani was born and brought up in Cockfosters, London, whose chief claim to fame is that it’s at the end of the Piccadilly Tube Line. 

This served her well for commuting into the city, where from the age of 18 she worked in a succession of secretarial positions in companies as diverse as a BMW car dealership to the BBC. Dani spent her two hour commute avidly reading and dreamed that one day she would become an author herself. 

When her two children grew up and left home, Dani set about turning this dream into reality and devoted her time to writing. She now lives in a rural Hertfordshire cottage with her husband, a crazy border collie dog and two geriatric cats.

FRACTURED is her first novel.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

THE DAY OF BATTLE: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944 (World War II Liberation Trilogy #2) By Rick Atkinson

The Day of Battle by Rick AtkinsonPublisher:  Henry Holt & Co.
Publication Date:  October 2007
Pages:  816
Genre:  American History

Reviewed by WC

Book Description: "NEW YORK TIMES" BESTSELLER In the second volume of his epic trilogy about the liberation of Europe in World War II, Pulitzer Prize winner Rick Atkinson tells the harrowing story of the campaigns in Sicily and Italy In "An Army at Dawn"--winner of the Pulitzer Prize--Rick Atkinson provided a dramatic and authoritative history of the Allied triumph in North Africa. Now, in "The Day of Battle," he follows the strengthening American and British armies as they invade Sicily in July 1943 and then, mile by bloody mile, fight their way north toward Rome.
The Italian campaign's outcome was never certain; in fact, Roosevelt, Churchill, and their military advisers engaged in heated debate about whether an invasion of the so-called soft underbelly of Europe was even a good idea. But once under way, the commitment to liberate Italy from the Nazis never wavered, despite the agonizingly high price. The battles at Salerno, Anzio, and Monte Cassino were particularly difficult and lethal, yet as the months passed, the Allied forces continued to drive the Germans up the Italian peninsula. Led by Lieutenant General Mark Clark, one of the war's most complex and controversial commanders, American officers and soldiers became increasingly determined and proficient. And with the liberation of Rome in June 1944, ultimate victory at last began to seem inevitable.
Drawing on a wide array of primary source material, written with great drama and flair, this is narrative history of the first rank. With "The Day of Battle," Atkinson has once again given us the definitive account of one of history's most compelling military campaigns.

WC's Review:  To say that no war in American history ever went well is an understatement. The allied effort in the Mediterranean portrayed in this extensive study of World War II verifies that military acumen and tactical maneuvering had not improved much since the day of the smooth bored musket. It is truly a wonder the Americans, the British, smatterings of Canadians, Poles, and French pulled off the liberation of Sicily and Italy. The invasion of Italy, and the advance on Rome, nearly proved to be beyond the capabilities of the Allied forces against the the Panzer division under Nazi General Kesselring.

Of course it may have been helpful if US General Patton hadn't slapped two soldiers around and been relieved during the Sicilian campaign. Lieutenant General Mark Clark, head of operations, had too much to handle coordinating the American troops and was nearly done in by the recalcitrance and smug independence of General Montgomery of the British Eighth Army.

This massive volume is an excellent investigation into the thoughts and motivations of the principals, particularly Clark and the always opportunistic Kesselring. Highly recommended for history buffs who strive for an intense understanding of America's involvement in a foreign war.

Rick AtkinsonThe Author:  Rick Atkinson - Born in Munich, in the Federal Republic of Germany, Atkinson is the son of a U.S. Army officer and grew up on military posts. He holds a master of arts degree in English literature from the University of Chicago. He is the best-selling author of The Long Gray Line, a narrative account about West Point’s class of 1966;Crusade, a narrative history of the Persian Gulf War; and An Army at Dawn , the first volume in the Liberation Trilogy, a narrative history of the American Army in North Africa, Italy, and Western Europe during the Second World War. 

His book about the 101st Airborne Division in Iraq, In the Company of Soldiers , was published in March 2004. The second volume of the Liberation Trilogy, The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944, was published in Oct. 2007. 

Atkinson’s awards include the 1982 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting; the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for public service, awarded to The Post for a series of investigative articles directed and edited by Atkinson on shootings by the District of Columbia police department; the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for history, the 1989 George Polk Award for national reporting, the 2007 Gerald R. Ford Award for Distinguished Reporting on National Defense, and the 2010 Pritzker Military Literature Award for lifetime achievement in military writing. He has also served as the Gen. Omar N. Bradley Chair of Strategic Leadership at the U.S. Army War College, where he remains an adjunct faculty member.

He and his wife, Dr. Jane C. Atkinson, a researcher and clinician at the National Institutes of Health, live in the District of Columbia. They have two grown children.