Trouble With Cowboys


Title:  The Trouble with Cowboys

Author:  Denise Hunter

Pages:  304

Year:  2012

Publisher:  Thomas Nelson

What pictures do the thoughts of the western sky, horseback riding or cowboys bring to your mind?  There are many who have written books about westerns, romances, love, forgiveness, and God.  I am sure you have read some of these that weren’t worth the paper they were printed on; however, let me assure you that this isn’t one of them.

What makes this story unique is that it centers on the relationships of a few characters with little distraction.  It is written in a style that makes you want to read more as well as know the God who is the center of the characters’ lives.  The characters are that of two brothers from one family and two sisters from another, each with a history that comes out the more you progress through the story.

Annie is the oldest and lives with her sister Sierra and her nephew Ryder in a small town where she holds two jobs.  Annie works with horses and continues writing her advice on how to care for horses like her grandfather before her had.  Now, with times changing, the paper wants her to write advice about love, something Annie feels she knows little about, but maybe Dylan can help.  Her perspective of him makes him the one who seems to have more knowledge and wisdom to help answer the questions readers send in.  However, is Dylan really like the person she has judged him to be?

Dylan has a ranch he works hard to keep up and needs Annie’s help when one of his horses, Braveheart, goes blind and he doesn’t have the heart to put him down.  What are Dylan’s choices and exactly what happens when he finds himself stranded in a cabin with Annie when his truck breaks down?

Sierra is one month away from graduating.  She has told no one who fathered Ryder.  Now, when the end seems so close, she quits school and leaves town without telling Annie where she is going.  Sierra wants Annie to quit mothering her, but Annie feels compelled to keep a deathbed promise.  Sierra has absolutely no idea about this promise.  Then Ryder’s father comes to town.  Hiding out seems her only option even though he has no idea he has a son.  What else is going to happen to show Annie who is really in control?

The novel is full of themes, but one tends to outshine the others:  God can make all things new.  From past mistakes to recent ones, if we will believe and trust Him, it is amazing the transformation that occurs.  There are also comes a time when deciding to make a right decision, no matter the depth of difficulty, because it pleases God.  This is the last book of three in the series, A Big Sky Romance.  Don’t let the word romance fool you.  The author puts more into the story than you can imagine.  Of course, the greatest romance mankind can have is the one with their redeemer, Jesus Christ.

My rating is 4 stars.

Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at


Where the Trail Ends


Title:  Where the Trail Ends


Author:  Melanie Dobson


Pages:  333


Year:  2012


Publisher:   Summerside Press


Melanie Dobson has created a wonderfully entertaining story set on the Oregon Trail in 1842.  The words she uses to describe the setting and the characters’ emotions bring them to life.  It is as if you are right there seeing what they see and feeling what they feel.  This book is part of a series entitled American Tapestries.  Other authors are also contributing to this series, each book having a different setting and time period.


Samantha Waldron has literally walked thousands of miles.  She started her journey west from Ohio with her father and young brother, Micah.  Her mother died six months ago when her journey begins.  Her family travels to Missouri to buy all their supplies and start their trip from there.  She can’t wait to reach the end of their journey in the Willamette, an area in the Oregon Territory that is said to be fertile and teeming with game.  Her father has left behind his life as a lawyer and plans to raise herds of animals and farm in their new home.  He is hoping Samantha will marry the young man who is second in charge of their wagon train when they reach their destination.  Samantha isn’t sure she can trust Jack with her heart.  The wagon train faces many struggles such as Indian encounters, no water, bad water, disease, no grazing grassland for the oxen that pull their wagons, internal division.  At one point, the wagon train splits due to a vote of no confidence in their leader.  They must get through the Blue Mountains before winter sets in or they won’t survive.  They are forced to leave many of their belongings behind and constantly are on the watch for wild animals.  They are so close to the end of their agonizing journey when the unthinkable happens…another death.  How could God allow this now?


Lord Alexander Clarke works for the Hudson Trading Company with his uncle being head of the company.  Alex has been sent to the Oregon Territory to oversee portions of the fur trade and learn the business from the ground up.  He has been engaged to an English lady back in London for five years.  The longer he stays in Oregon, the more he wants to stay permanently.  He knows Judith will not want to live in the wilderness, so he resigns himself to the marriage, returning to London, and taking a position as the head of his uncle’s company.  Then, he meets Samantha by rescuing her and Micah from drowning.  He begins to spend more and more time with her and begins to have deep feelings to her, but he is promised to another.  He can’t break his word.  Samantha sees Alex as a hero and soon loses her heart to him, but knows he can’t marry her because of his prior commitment.  After five years, Alex sees Judith for the first time as she gets of the ship arriving from England.  He doesn’t love her and she doesn’t love him, but she likes his money and position.  How can God work this out?


I couldn’t put this book down, finishing it in one day!  I got so involved with the characters and what was going to happen next.  The overriding theme that the two main characters face is that they must rely on God to provide for their needs and He will always be faithful in His care of His children.  Great job Melanie!


My rating is 4.5 stars.


Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at





Title:  Razed

Author:  Paula Wiseman

Pages:  390

Year:  2012

Publisher:  Mindstir Media

Razed is a groundbreaking story that brings the heart and mind into a fictional story built around a familiar relationship.  A son and mother are very close to each other and share a relationship with Jesus Christ.  Doug, the father, is very unwilling to listen to what he calls their “religion”.  Why does he seem so extremely adversarial?  Until the author peels away the layers hidden deep within Doug’s heart, it is a nagging question for readers.  Doug owns his own homebuilding business.  When people look at him, they believe he has everything he would ever need or want, right?

Judy, Doug’s wife and mother to Mark, is trying to help her husband recognize his need for Christ before she passes.  She presses for promises from both her husband and son shortly before she dies.  While the promises are made, the continued fighting between father and son doesn’t seem to make the reality of those promises possible.  Yet, as Judy’s life history becomes apparent, something has happened that her son Mark was totally unaware of.

Mark is a young man who marries Julie, a pastor’s daughter.  Three months after being married, Julie becomes pregnant.  Mark’s future is changing from many angles.  His main confidante is his father-in-law.  With each step Mark takes toward his wife or his career, Doug’s view is that Mark is rejecting him and favoring his father in-law.  Torn between the counsels of each parent, the hostility continues to grow and comes to a head, causing father and son to make a decision.  What is that decision?

Regardless of marital or family status, all readers will enjoy the unfolding of the drama.  There were times I could identify with some of the characters choices or actions, which made the story for me more plausible.  I could envision the interactions, scenes and more.  However, what I didn’t see was the way the author brilliantly ended Razed.  Readers will see this as a contemporary and compelling tale that will keep pages turning until the very last one.  It is with eager anticipation that I look forward to the sequel to see how faith, relationships, and forgiveness come to fruition.  There is a chapter of the sequel, Refined, included at the end of Razed.  This is a beautiful story to share with everyone.

My rating is 4 stars.

Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at

Queen of the Waves


Title:  Queen of the Waves


Author:  Janice Thompson


Pages:  336


Year:  2012


Publisher:  Summerside


What one word would you use to describe your thoughts or feelings when you hear the word Titanic?  No matter how much I have read, viewed or listened to about the Titanic, I find there is always one common experience for me and that is my heart is torn.  There is the overwhelming number of people who perished that night one hundred years ago, but there are also stories of known heroics and heroes.  Of course, there are some who focus on who is to blame and who is isn’t.  Sometimes the focus is on the bravery and the not so brave.  Whether some story is told of the Titanic, fiction or nonfiction, it still stirs the hearts and minds of people a century later.  Janice Thompson does a masterful job of weaving together a story that has the elements mentioned above, yet also shows the faith her characters exhibit.  Some of the characters don’t believe in God as a Father due to their personal experience, while others find it all so easy to lean upon God as a Father due to the influence of someone’s life.


The basic story of the Titanic is known, and there, of course, are things unknown about the real night and events leading up to that voyage.  Janice’s main story centers on the characters of Jacquie, Tessa, and Iris.  One of them is a daughter who is abused by her father’s misrepresentation of the Father and forgiveness.  One has lived on a farm; two of the ladies live in mansions.  Then we meet Nathan, Roland, and Peter.  Nathan was raised by a father who is a godly man, but is he really his biological father?  Roland is a successful businessman who longs to marry one of the ladies he is in love with, but she doesn’t return those feelings.  Peter was raised on a farm with his sister, and all he wants for her is a life better than she would ever have if she remains with their abusive, drunken father.


Through scheming and deception by a couple of these fictional personas, one of the ladies goes on board the Titanic under the name of the other.  With this plan in place, it will make it easier for a forbidden love to really come to fruition until Peter knocks on the door and reveals some disturbing news.  Roland is worried sick that the woman he loves, the woman who is to become his wife may be lost forever in the Atlantic.  How does he react when he sees her living at home weeks after the disaster?  Before the ship goes under, Nathan is told by his mothers travel companion that he has always loved Nathan. While Nathan had suspicions about this man, there wasn’t time to dwell on anything but saving lives.  Now Nathan is healed and at home with the man who has always been his father, fighting an internal battle.  Can he forgive his mother?  How can his father plan a memorial service for his mother when he knew the truth all along?


I found myself not just reading the novel, but envisioning the various parts of the story in my imagination.  With how the author describes the setting, sights, and sounds aboard the Titanic, it isn’t hard to picture yourself there.  Even knowing how the story over all was going to end, the gripping part was watching how much faith motivated each action and thought in the novel.  I read Queen of the Waves in one day and even if you don’t have that time in a lump sum to sit and take an adventure, don’t pass this one up.  It is truly inspiring, engaging, gripping and so much more.


My rating is 5 stars.


Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at


The Lie 25th Anniversary Edition



Title:  The Lie 25th Anniversary

Author:  Ken Ham

Pages:  220

Year:  2012

Publisher:  Master Books

Apologetics…what an interesting word don’t you think?  What does it mean anyway?  Defining apologetics begins with a definition of apologetic, which according to Collins English Dictionary is “defending by speech or writing”.  Ken Ham has been in this field for many years.  His speeches and writings have been under scrutiny for just as long.  He is the founder of Answers in Genesis, an organization on the frontline in defense of the book of Genesis as well as defending the Gospel and more.  There are other ministries that also are bringing materials along with a message that focus on Genesis being taken literally.

As a homeschooling parent for almost 17 years, with my final year culminating in December 2013, the Answers in Genesis Ministry has helped encourage, exhort, and bring to attention the fact that future generations need to be biblically equipped.  Many, who don’t believe the Bible to be the final authority or don’t believe in God, rage a continuous battle against Christ followers.  The Body is equipped through media, books, and various other materials to learn how to defend the Gospel, staying strong against contrary ideologies.  The Lie has been updated and expanded to help bring to the forefront the latest information as well as understanding the times in which we live.

The author begins the defense with understanding: “The origins debate is not, therefore, one of the science versus religion but one of religion (belief or starting point) versus religion (belief or starting point).” (pg. 46)  Right from the start we see how the author has, through the years, learned that the debate is no longer of evolution as a science, but as a religion.  With logic and reasoning, Ken Ham presents his arguments along with examples of those who neglect to ground their beliefs with the Word of God as their foundation, replacing it with man’s opinions.

As I was reading this book, I was greatly disturbed to find that those who claim to be Christians don’t hold to the Word of God as absolute authority, but instead seem to add or subtract parts they don’t agree with.  While examples from books showing the results and reasons as to why people have left the church are uncomfortable to read, they also exhort us to train ourselves and others to present a defense against the onslaughts attacking the Bible.  We all must heed the call to be trained, self-taught, to read, to share, and to engage others in order to grow.  We are called to mature and run our race to the finish.  The examples of people who never stopped learning compel us to learn in order to teach.  Above all, if we don’t continue to dig into the Bible for answers and learn what we can from other biblical people, how can we grow, share Christ, mature, and teach others?

I am thankful for this book, Answers in Genesis, and other ministries that have put so much effort into producing materials so we can be prepared to give an answer for our faith to those who ask.  Sometimes we forget that it is okay to say, “I don’t know.  Can I get back to you?” if we don’t have the knowledge right then to answer.  Just make time to locate the answer and go back to the person with what you learned.  God is the only One who knows all, so go to the Word first.  After that, go to ministries whose foundations are built first with the Bible as the infallible authority, and look at what they offer to help you grow.  Above all, remember that one day we have to give an account for our actions or lack thereof to Jesus, so don’t be found wanting.  Seek Him and He promises you will find Him when you look for Him with all your heart.  To God alone be all the glory, so continue to run your race until it is over.

My rating of this book is 5 stars.

Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at

Sugar Fork


Title:  Sugar Fork


Author:  Walt Larimore


Pages:  384


Year:  2012


Publisher:  Howard Books


What an awesome way of telling tales within the folds of the Smokey Mountains scenery!  At first glance perhaps the paperback might cause some to think this to be a simplistic fable.  I must inform anyone thinking this way, however, that wouldn’t be accurate at all.  Walt Larimore writes of faith and the differences in lifestyles between mountain folk and those referred to as flatlanders.


One of the prominent features is that there is not so big a difference as the antagonists of the book would have the protagonists believe.  For example, in the life of Abbie, though young by flatlander’s standards, she is considered an adult once she has a driver’s license.  Mountain people look at death as part of life.  While there is a time to mourn, they then figure it is time to move on once the period of mourning is over.  One year a doctor from Philadelphia comes to Sugar Fork to do an internship.  After his internship is over, he plans on returning to the big city.  Wade can’t see himself settling down and living happily so far removed from the hustle and bustle as well as conveniences of the city.


Abbie is the oldest of five girls.  Her three brothers died in infancy.  She has had to assume the motherly duties as her mother passed away, and her father is out providing for them.  Through various trials, Abbie grows and blossoms not only into womanhood but into a faithful believer as well.  There is a fight brewing between a lumber baron and Abbie’s family to preserve the virgin timber on their land.  Mr. Calhoun attempts all types of deception, underhandedness, as well as pay-offs to the right people in order to “legally” evict the family.  Calhoun’s assistant makes several attempts to scare those who are helping the family and is, unfortunately, successful a couple of times.


There is a lot to this story told from the view of an elderly Abbie, and the use of flashback in telling the story makes it all the more captivating.  Learning to live by faith everyday is shown to be a choice especially tested when life brings sorrow upon sorrow.  The parts of the story cover certain months in a particular year, which leaves purposeful gaps so that the reader isn’t lulled into inattentiveness.   I loved the way the young doctor used the wisdom and treatments of herbal medicines developed and then, if necessary, newly discovered antibiotics.  The cool part was then the doctor asked for prayer and had others praying for Abbie when she was very sick.  Seeing the use of spiritual and medicines together is awesome.  I have been the recipient of such loving treatment from a physician.  Sugar Fork has a theme of reminding us to utilize faith in the Almighty and if need be medications that seek to treat both soul and body in that order.


Please read this novel and enjoy it.


My rating is 5 stars.



Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at




Sofia’s Secret #3



Title:  Sofia’s Secret (River of Hope Book #3)

Author:  Sharlene MacLaren

Pages:  432

Year:  2012

Publisher:  Whitaker House

One of the joys of reading as many books as I do is the discovery that no two books are exactly the same.  The books can contain similar themes, settings, climax and more; yet what makes each book unique is the author’s writing style or point of view.  Whatever makes up the differences in books, I can highly recommend what to me is a new author, Sharlene MacLaren.  In the trilogy entitled River of Hope Series, which is set in Wabash, Indiana, in the 1800’s, a tapestry is woven that captures the heart of the reader.

In this third installment, Sofia is a young woman attempting to care for herself and her brother after their parents are tragically killed in a train accident.  Sofia has born the burden of working the third shift for a cleaning agency, leaving her younger brother at home to sleep.  Tragedy has ripped Sofia’s life apart in so many ways, and she trusts no one until life’s circumstances begin to force the walls around her heart to break.

Andy is Sofia’s younger brother who has a stuttering problem.  At this time, most people believe there isn’t anything they can do to help him.  However, Dr. Trent has a colleague who wrote his thesis on stammering and asks for a copy to be sent to him as he just wants to help Andy conquer his stuttering problem.  Over time, Andy develops a deep affection and friendship with the doctor.  While Andy may seem unable to know what has been occurring, Sofia is about to realize Andy knows more than she thinks he does.

Dr. Trent turns down a high position at a hospital in a city in order to take over his grandfather’s small town practice.  He buys his grandfather’s house and continues to practice medicine, his lifelong dream.  What he didn’t plan on happening is what makes the story take off.  Not only that, but the personalities of both Dr. Trent and Sofia make for anything but an easy way of communicating their hearts, burdens, and thoughts including revealing to the doctor what Sofia hasn’t told anyone else.

One particular aspect of this writer’s work of fiction that I appreciated was the different scripture verses that began each chapter.  Second, what makes for easy reading is the chapters are so long as to make it hard to find a stopping place if need be.  Readers will enjoy the character interactions and the various themes that come together for a wonderful story.  The author writes with a heart of faith to show that anyone in any situation can be redeemed through Christ.  While some of the issues in the book may not be everyday topics, the Lord is an everyday Person we can talk to as well as about.

My rating is 5+ stars.

Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at