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Catching Christmas by Terri Blackstock ~ juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews

Catching Christmas by Terri Blackstock – Book Review

Christmas was a month or so ago, I realize this but I really want to tell you about this book by one of my favorite authors. Terri Blackstock writes in a way that grabs your attention from the first page, and makes you want to forget the laundry you need to do or the dishes that are piling up. That is what happens at my house. Just being real. Here’s a little bit about Catching Christmas.

Book Description
This Year, Christmas Comes Just in Time 

As a first-year law associate, Sydney Batson knows she will be updating her resume by New Year’s if she loses her current court case. So when her grandmother gets inexplicably ill while she’s in court, Sydney arranges for a cab to get her to the clinic.

The last thing cab driver Finn Parrish wants is to be saddled with a wheelchair-bound old lady with dementia. But because Miss Callie reminds him of his own mother, whom he failed miserably in her last days, he can’t say no when she keeps calling him for rides. Once a successful gourmet chef, Finn’s biggest concern now is making his rent, but half the time Callie doesn’t remember to pay him. And as she starts to feel better, she leads him on wild goose chases to find a Christmas date for her granddaughter.

When Finn meets Sydney, he’s quite sure that she’s never needed help finding a date. Does Miss Callie have an ulterior motive, or is this just a mission driven by delusions? He’s willing to do whatever he can to help fulfill Callie’s Christmas wish. He just never expected to be a vital part of it.

Review

Looking for a typical Terri Blackstock novel? Well, you’ve found one. Just replace the suspense with Christmas, and read away. Although, this isn’t your typical romantic-comedy Christmas; this one is about real life situations.

The story is told from two different points-of-view. Finn and Sydney are quite lovable characters, as is Miss Callie. I can picture several grandmas that would try to set their granddaughter up at Christmas. I do not know of any granddaughters that would hire a cab to take their grandma to the doctor though. And, I certainly have never heard of a cab driver staying to wait on the grandma without being asked to. It either shows that there are really good people out there that we just don’t stop to recognize, or we wish there were. In my opinion, there are great people out there and we just fail to see the good they do.

I don’t know about you, but I am not a big fan of long chapters. I find myself counting the pages until the next chapter, and I don’t tell myself just one more chapter. But, Terri (I hope she doesn’t mind me just calling her by her first name) keeps these chapters short. You can “just one more chapter” yourself through the whole book rather quickly. That’s good and that’s bad. Good because you found out how it ends, and bad because it ends.

I’ve been trying to figure out who should play Miss Callie in a Hallmark Movie version of this book. Any ideas? I really think they should make a movie out of it.

Spoiler Alert, if you can call it that: There is a happy ending. The only thing sad about this book is that you have to leave the characters behind.

Let me know if you read this one!

Some other Terri Blackstock books I’ve reviewed:

If I Run

Downfall

Catching Christmas Book Cover Catching Christmas
Terri Blackstock
Christian Fiction, Romance: Clean and Wholesome, Holiday
Thomas Nelson
October 9, 2018
ebook
304
NetGalley was kind enough to provide me with an eARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

The House on Foster Hill - Book Review | juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews

The House on Foster Hill – Book Review

Book Description:

Kaine Prescott is no stranger to death. When her husband died two years ago, her pleas for further investigation into his suspicious death fell on deaf ears. In desperate need of a fresh start, Kaine purchases an old house sight unseen in her grandfather’s Wisconsin hometown. But one look at the eerie, abandoned house immediately leaves her questioning her rash decision. And when the house’s dark history comes back with a vengeance, Kaine is forced to face the terrifying realization she has nowhere left to hide.

A century earlier, the house on Foster Hill holds nothing but painful memories for Ivy Thorpe. When an unidentified woman is found dead on the property, Ivy is compelled to discover her identity. Ivy’s search leads her into dangerous waters and, even as she works together with a man from her past, can she unravel the mystery before any other lives–
including her own–are lost?

Review:

Dual timelines must be all the rave now. It seems like every time I turn around the book I am reading is set in dual timelines. I found myself interested in one story line more than the other, and think that both should be able to hold their own in a sense. This just didn’t ring true for these.  It was quite interesting to read about Ivy and her father’s job, and how Ivy documented everything in her death journals aka obituarys. It was also quite interesting that Kaine (the main character) purchased a house sight unseen so soon after her husband’s death. If I were in her shoes, I would have run! Crazy!

While I only gave this book three stars on goodreads and amazon, it wasn’t a bad book. It just started off a bit slow, and it was an effort for me to pick it up each time to finish it. It was a good story line, and I did like the ending but, don’t expect to finish this one in one setting.

This is Jaime Jo Wright’s debut novel, and I look forward to reading her next one.

Thank you to Netgalley and Bethany House for providing me with this eARC in exchange for my honest review.






The House on Foster Hill Book Cover




The House on Foster Hill





Jaime Jo Wright





Mystery, Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Suspense




Bethany House




November 21, 2017




eARC




364




Received an advanced eARC from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.



19 Souls - Book Review | juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews

19 Souls – Book Review

Book Description:

Private Investigator Jim Bean is a straightforward, to-the-point man. When his latest client, Sophie Evers, asks him to find her brother Daniel, Jim has no idea how complicated his life is about to become.

Daniel is not Sophie’s brother. He is her most coveted prey. Clinging to the belief that they belong together, Sophie kills Daniel’s real sister to manipulate Jim into flushing Daniel out of hiding. She will create the “perfect life” for the only man she’s ever loved, no matter how many people she must kill along the way.

When Jim discovers the truth about Sophie, he’s driven to set things right before her delusional plan claims even more souls.

Review:

Do you like television shows like Criminal Minds, Law & Order, NCIS, or Homicide Hunter? Those are some of our favorite show, and I think that is part of the reason I devoured this book and loved every bit of it.  If you like these types of shows, I am sure you will like this one too!

Oh, hi my name is Julie and I judge books by their covers. The cover of this one is what drew my attention to it, but I was hooked before I even finished the first chapter.  J.D. Allen really kicked it in high gear from the very beginning.  This story is full of non-stop action, and you don’t want to stop reading until you get to the very end. There were times that I just wanted to let Jim have it, even though I developed a soft spot for him.  But Sophie, on the other hand, was so easy to just loathe with every fiber of my being.  A couple of things were a little predictable, but it wasn’t enough to mess with the story.

I’m sorry to say that this book will not be released until February of next year, but really that is just around the corner.  I will be posting a reminder for you because I would really hate for you to miss out on this one.






19 Souls Book Cover




19 Souls




Sin City Investigation #1





J.D. Allen





Thriller, Crime, Detective




Midnight Ink




February 8, 2018




eARC




360




Received an advanced eARC from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.



Anchored In - Book Review | juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews

Anchored In – Book Review

Book Description:

Problems can make you feel like God is far away, but they can also be the very things that bring you closer to him.

Anchored In isn’t a book of Christian cliche’s or sweet stories to warm the heart but rather an authentic look at the hard parts of life. It challenges us to stop running from and clinging to the past, and to grasp tightly to the only unshakable Anchor that is able to sustain our souls through the storms of life.

Micah shares personal stories, such as her father’s abandonment of her family, and couples them with biblical application to offer real-life glimpses of God at work. She offers inspiration to live a life full of God’s power rather than one that causes us to turn away and be paralyzed by problems.

Living anchored in God’s presence is a beautiful gift that few truly experience simply because they do not understand the key to God’s power – surrender. Or if they know to surrender, they do not know how to let go of the problems that consume their lives. Through simple, tangible steps learn to surrender in every season of life.

Hearing from God is not reserved for a chosen few, but rather promised to those who believe. If you are longing to experience God’s power in a deeper way, this is a journey for you.

Review:

We have all been through trials of some kind, and some are worse than others.  When we go through these trials we need to be reminded that we are not the only ones that have problems, and that we will get through them.  Anchored In is just that! It is full of encouragement that we all need as we struggle, and a gentle but oh so truthful reminder that we need to stay Anchored In to our faith.

One of my favorite quotes from Micah is “God’s power is present to people who pursue it.”

How true!! How true!! How true!!

Seriously, how have I missed this all this time?

This is a honestly written story of Micah’s journey, and how she found an anchor.  It is perfectly blended with stories and scriptures, and each chapter ends with questions just for you and a prayer too.






Anchored In: Experience a Power-full Life in a Problem-Filled World Book Cover




Anchored In: Experience a Power-full Life in a Problem-Filled World





Micah Maddox





Personal Growth, Religion & Spirituality




Abingdon Press




September 5, 2017




eARC




240




Received an advanced eARC from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.



The Crying Bird - Book Review | juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews

The Crying Bird – Book Review

Book Description:

May Johnson used to be an ordinary wife and mother. Now, she’s a middle-aged millionaire, grieving the loss of her family. The only living relative she has left is her smothering younger sister. May’s sanity is already threatened when tensions rise, so she sets out to find solitude in Florida. However, life has other plans for her.

Animal encounters, unlikely friendships, sisterly squabbles and hilarious scenarios take May on an unforgettable journey from the depths of grief to a new life. But, will she embrace it?

Review:

Funny books are so hard to come by these days.  Wait, let me rephrase that.  Good, clean, funny, PG books are hard to come by these days.  Every once in a while I will read a book with a funny part, and it is refreshing.  This book fits that bill.  Sure, it’s about a woman that has lost her family, and that is sad, but it doesn’t dwell on it.  Isn’t that how it is in real life?  Don’t we deal with death, and then keep living?  Or that is how it’s supposed to work.  The main character, May Johnson, does exactly what we all want to do when we lose someone close to us.  She shuts down.  When she finally gets enough of her little sister trying to help her, she runs away.  Again, wouldn’t we all like to do that sometimes?

This is a story that many of us can relate to. It is a little sad, but it is also, fast-paced, witty and heartwarming!  You not only get May Johnson’s point of view as the griever, but you also get the point of view of her sister, as the caregiver.  There are unlikely friendships, good deeds, and conversations with a bird.  Please tell me that you talk to animals too.

This is E.J. Stillings debut novel, and it is a winner! I absolutely love this book!  I will be suggesting this book to my IRL book club, and I just know they will love it!

My Bird Story

Now, let me tell you about what happened here the same day I finished this book.

the pigeon | juliekmccomas.com

It was a Sunday afternoon, I was settling in to read a little and nap a lot.  I had just finished this book, The Crying Bird by E.J. Stillings, and decided that I would get a drink of water before I fell asleep.  I went to the kitchen sink, and sitting in front of the kitchen window was a pigeon.  I couldn’t believe it.  I grabbed my phone and started snapping pictures.  We live in the middle of nowhere, seriously, and I’ve never seen a pigeon out here.  They are all in town.  I don’t know why, but they are.  I noticed that there was a band on it’s little leg, so I started trying to get all the number off it.  That is harder than it sounds.  Several pictures later I got it.  I got some bird feed and some water and set out to make friends with this pigeon that I started calling Pete.  Pete the Pigeon.  Anywhoo, he wouldn’t eat or drink unless I was holding the plate.  I knew he had to belong to someone.  I took the number and got online.  Believe it or not, I found the owner!  Through Facebook and text messaging, he told me that it is a homing pigeon (I had figured that out) and they had had a trial run of the homing pigeon race.  You can’t make this stuff up.  I never knew they raced.  I ended up catching him, who ended up being a her, put her in a pet carrier, and returned her to her rightful owner. I thought it was funny that I had just finished reading this book, and then had an encounter with a bird that very same day.

Get this book! You won’t regret it!






The Crying Bird Book Cover




The Crying Bird





E.J. Stillings





Women's Fiction, Contemporary




Emily Jordan Stillings




January 7, 2017




eBook




216




Received a free copy from E.J. Stillings in exchange for my honest review. Thank you, E.J..



Church of the Small Things | juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews

Church of the Small Things – Book Review

Book Description:

Is my ordinary, everyday life actually significant? Is it okay to be fulfilled by the simple acts of raising kids, working in an office, and cooking chicken for dinner?

It’s been said, “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the number of moments that take our breath away.” The pressure of that can be staggering as we spend our days looking for that big thing that promises to take our breath away. Meanwhile, we lose sight of the small significance of fully living with every breath we take.

Melanie Shankle, New York Times bestselling author and writer at The Big Mama Blog tackles these questions head on in her fourth book, Church of the Small Things. Easygoing and relatable, she speaks directly to the heart of women of all ages who are longing to find significance and meaning in the normal, sometimes mundane world of driving carpool to soccer practice, attending class on their college campus, cooking meals for their family, or taking care of a sick loved one.

The million little pieces that make a life aren’t necessarily glamorous or far-reaching. But God uses some of the smallest, most ordinary acts of faithfulness—and sometimes they look a whole lot like packing lunch. 

Through humorous stories told in her signature style, full of Frito pie, best friends, the love of her Me-Ma and Pa-Pa, the unexpected grace that comes when we quit trying to measure up, and a little of the best TV has to offer, Melanie helps women embrace what it means to live a simple, yet incredibly meaningful life and how to find all the beauty and laughter that lies right beneath the surface of every moment.

Review:

Pick up this book!  Seriously, I felt like I was spending time with a good friend listening (or reading) her stories about everyday life.  The simple acts, she calls them, of life are actually significant.  I love reading a book where the author doesn’t try to sugar coat things, and Melanie certainly doesn’t sugar coat things.  I felt like I could really relate to everything in the Small Things I Wish I’d Known in High School chapter since I am approximately, if not, the same age as Melanie.  One of the small things is “Tucking your jeans into your socks just makes you look like an ice cream cone. An ice cream cone with a big, crispy perm on top.”  Oh good grief, I think I have photos of myself impersonating an ice cream cone!

There are so many funny things in this book.  If you don’t laugh reading the Bangs, Bangs You’re Dead chapter then you might need to check your pulse!

What is great about this book is that every woman will be able to relate to something.  Church of the Small Things is written like a memoir, and Melanie shares memories from childhood to present day.  There are memories with her grandparents, sister, dogs, friends and family.  This is why I feel like every woman will be able to relate to this book in some form or fashion.

The small things sometimes turn out to be bigger than we thought, and they are significant.  You’ll find this lovely, reflective, funny memoir hard to finish.  Why?  Because it is so lovely you won’t want it to end.  After reading this I have determined to pay attention to the small things a little more.  I hope you will get this book, read it, and learn to look for the small things too.

Church of the Small Things: The Million Little Pieces That Make Up a Life is available for pre-order at Amazon, ChristianBook.com, Barnes&Noble, etc.






Church of the Small Things: The Million Little Pieces That Make Up A Life Book Cover




Church of the Small Things: The Million Little Pieces That Make Up A Life





Melanie Shankle





Christian Living, Humor, Religion




Zondervan




October 3, 2017




eARC




224




Received an advanced eARC from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.



Deep Extraction by Diann Mills | juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews

Deep Extraction by Diann Mills – Book Review

Book Description:

A pacemaker should have saved oil and gas magnate Nathan Moore’s life. Instead, it provided his killer with a seemingly perfect means of execution.

A bombing at one of Nathan’s oil rigs days earlier indicates his death could be part of a bigger conspiracy, a web Special Agent Tori Templeton must untangle. But her first order of business is separating the personal from the professional—the victim’s wife, her best friend, is one of the FBI’s prime suspects.

Clearing Sally’s name may be the biggest challenge of her career, but Tori finds an unexpected ally in the newest member of the task force, recently reinstated Deputy US Marshal Cole Jeffers. As Tori and Cole dig deeper into Nathan’s personal and business affairs, they uncover more than they bargained for. And the closer they get to finding the real killer—and to each other—the more intent someone is on silencing them for good.

Review:

Let me tell you why I wanted to read this book before I tell you what I thought about it.  If you know me at all then you are aware of my sudden cardiac death the week before my 28th birthday.  If you don’t know me then you might want to read a little to catch up.  When I saw that the victim was killed by a someone hacking into his pacemaker and jacking with it.  It immediately peaked my curiosity since I have a defibrillator.  Actually, what the what is what went through my mind.

A Pacemaker Hacker? Is there really such a thing!?

Now, let’s get to my thoughts on this title.

Deep Extraction is the second book in the FBI Task Force series, and here again I have read the series out of order.  I do not know what has gotten into me.  But, I am glad to tel you that the first book in this series is Deadly Encounter and both can stand alone just fine.  You do not have to read these in the correct order.  Just be a rebel, like me. 🙂

I’m a sucker for police-type dramas, books and television, and the more action, details, suspense and twists, the better.  I am also a Christian, so the mention of prayer and God did not affect me at all.  The Christian aspect is minimal.  It is not distracting, in your face or pushy, at all.  It is approached very realistically.  Having a defibrillator (mine has a pacemaker function) and having gone through cancer, I felt I could really relate to this one.

After mentioning all of the above, I am happy to say that this book is all that I have already talked about.  Lots of action! Explosions, gun fights, heroes and heroines.  There are some feelings in this one as well.  It is a very well rounded book!  There are a few things that are a bit predictable; one being the little romance that blossoms.  I like my police-type dramas to be a little more realistic, and most of it is realistic, but in the real world, friends of a murder victim would not be able to be involved in the investigation. But, it was refreshing to read about friends taking a stand for the victims (their friends).  I think they did what many of us would try to do, and that is do whatever they had to do to find the killer.

Diann Mills is one author that I plan to read every book she comes out with.  I like her writing style that much!

Thank you to NetGalley and Tyndale House Publishers for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.








Deep Extraction




FBI Task Force





Diann Mills





Suspense, Christian Fiction, Fiction




Tyndale House Publishers




April 4, 2017




396



Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough - Book Review juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough – Review

Book Description:

Louise is a single mom, a secretary, stuck in a modern-day rut. On a rare night out, she meets a man in a bar and sparks fly. Though he leaves after they kiss, she’s thrilled she finally connected with someone.

When Louise arrives at work on Monday, she meets her new boss, David. The man from the bar. The very married man from the bar…who says the kiss was a terrible mistake, but who still can’t keep his eyes off Louise.

And then Louise bumps into Adele, who’s new to town and in need of a friend. But she also just happens to be married to David. And if you think you know where this story is going, think again, because Behind Her Eyes is like no other book you’ve read before.

David and Adele look like the picture-perfect husband and wife. But then why is David so controlling? And why is Adele so scared of him?

As Louise is drawn into David and Adele’s orbit, she uncovers more puzzling questions than answers. The only thing that is crystal clear is that something in this marriage is very, very wrong. But Louise can’t guess how wrong―and how far a person might go to protect their marriage’s secrets.

In Behind Her Eyes, Sarah Pinborough has written a novel that takes the modern day love triangle and not only turns it on its head, but completely reinvents it in a way that will leave readers reeling.

Review:

Wow! Just WOW!

I’m just dying for someone I know to read this so we can discuss it!

When I agreed to read and review this book for Macmillan/Flatiron Books I had no idea how difficult it was going to be for me to actually write a review.  I didn’t really know what to expect.  I’d never heard of Sarah Pinborough, and now I’m searching for anything and everything she has ever written.  This chick is good!  So, I will apologize now if this seems a bit rambly or repetitive. It is just so, so hard to review this particular book without giving anything away.

Behind Her Eyes completely consumed me.  Gripping is a good word for it!  I love a good page turner, and this is one heck of a page turner.  I carried this book with me every where I went, and I mean every where.  If I had to wait in line at the grocery store, then I had this book in my hands.  I even sent my husband into the post office so I could read a page or two while I waited.

There is a little bit of a supernatural twist to the story, but not so much that I wanted to put the book down.  That just isn’t something I typically read.  Something else that I don’t typically read is love triangle stories.  Behind Her Eyes is written from the viewpoint of Adele and Louise.  It does go back and forth between them, and at times I found myself having to really think about which one was which.  That is the only thing that slowed me down a teensy tiny bit.  It is so well written with twists when you aren’t expecting them, characters that you can’t figure out who to trust, and a deranged mind-blowing ending.  I am not blindsided by book ending very often, but this one got me good!  In fact, one of the hashtags for this book is #WTFending, and I am not a WTF kind of girl, but it is certainly that kind of ending.

I’ve given this book 5 blooms.  I have gone back and forth on whether to give it 4 or 5, but I settled on 5 because it is just so good.  You’ve got to read this!

Many thanks to Macmillan for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, also for introducing me to a new-to-me author.  Thank you to Sarah Pinborough for such gripping novel!

 








Behind Her Eyes





Sarah Pinborough





Mystery, Thriller, & Suspense




Flatiron Books




1/31/2017




Hardcover




320




Macmillan