Rising Darkness by Nancy Mehl

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Sophie Wittenbauer grew up in a strict Mennonite home, one that she left as soon as possible to dedicate her life to her job at the newspaper. She is willing to do almost anything to get that story that will send her career to new heights. She is surprised to discover an old classmate, now a prisoner, has a clue to a decades-old crime, and decides to use his tip to get her break. But following this lead means Sophie is going to have to travel to another small Mennonite town, a religion that she would prefer to leave in her past with its scars and memories. In addition, secrets abound in this Missouri town, and Sophie must carefully choose her friends for fear that one of them may be the killer.

This novel is exciting and interesting from the first chapter. The author does a great job of crafting a story that flows well, and incorporates mystery, romance, and spiritual themes seamlessly into the plot. Sophie may be selfish and prone to lying initially, but her growth throughout the novel is a true testament to God’s grace for us sinners. I enjoyed reading about her journey through these emotions, even though I ended up enjoying the main characters in the first two novels in this series a bit better. Overall, the plot is not too predictable and the story is captivating, creating a modern mystery that is recommended to all lovers of contemporary fiction.

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Every Girl Gets Confused by Janice Thompson

Every Girl Gets Confused book cover

Katie Fisher is feeling happier than she has in a long time. She is dating a wonderful pro-ex-basketball player, Brady James, and is working a dream job at the bridal shop where she won her bridal gown not long ago. However, when she receives a phone call from her ex-boyfriend Casey, who is back in her hometown, she finds herself questioning her recent decisions to move to a big city and date a new man. To make matters complicated, her very opinioned but well-meaning family is eager to direct her life. With her family telling her one thing and her heart another, Katie must make an important decision that will forever change her future.

Similar to the first book in this series, this novel contains some spunky characters that are entertaining and a plot that is interesting, albeit somewhat cheesy. Reading the first book in the series is not required but is recommended in order to gain a better background on the characters. The focus of the novel is definitely the romance, but unfortunately this romance is not always with the two main characters; in fact, they disappointingly get less page time than some of the other minor characters. I honestly felt their development to be somewhat stagnant and their conflict not nearly as central as the title made it sound, but perhaps more of their story will be saved for the third installment in the series. This novel is recommended for those who prefer a heavy dose of romance in their fiction.

I received a copy of this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson

The Christmas Joy Ride book cover

Joy Jorgenson may be nearly eighty-six, but she is still determined to spread Christmas cheer this season. Struck with inspiration, she decides to pack up boxes of Christmas decorations and gifts, decorate her old RV, and travel from Chicago to Phoenix, delivering Christmas spirit along the way. She asks her young neighbor, Miranda, who is struggling with many trials in her life, to join her. The trip begins relatively smoothly, but soon Miranda and Joy face a few obstacles to their journey. As they deliver hope during the holidays, they both also discover new paths and adventures this Christmas season.

This short tale is entertaining and sweet. It contains enough of an interesting plot interwoven among its theme of love and redemption to keep the reader invested in the story from start to finish. The characters are easy to like and enjoyable to follow throughout their journey. Perhaps a few of the details are too neatly wrapped up in the end, certain parts contain some cheesy scenarios, and the story focuses more on Christmas spirit than the true reason for Christmas (Jesus), but for those who are simply looking for an easy read during the holidays, this little book is perfect. Recommended for lovers of the Christmas season who wish to settle by the fire with a festive book!

I received a copy of this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review.