Category Archives: Reading

Book Review: Bound by Guilt by C.J. Darlington Blog Tours Presents:

Bound by Guilt
by C.J. Darlington
Published by Tyndale House

Shuttled between foster homes, Roxi Gold will do anything to fit in. Soon she’s traveling the country stealing rare books from unsuspecting bookstores. Police officer Abby Dawson has seen the worst of society—and not just at work. One fateful night, both their lives are changed forever. One searches for justice, the other finds herself on the run. Will the power of forgiveness set them free?

This is my first official blog tour blog ;). How cool!

My good friend Andrea over at Andrea’s Take will be posting her review shortly – head over there to see what she thought.

I liked this book. A lot. A friend had raved to me about it and I don’t think I liked it quite as much as she did. For whatever reason, that’s making it hard to write this review.

I like Roxi. She’s got spunk. She’s led a very difficult life, one that would have shattered most of us. She longs to be loved, just like all of us, and it’s no wonder that she goes to the lengths that she does to find that love and approval. I think most humans would go to those lengths or beyond, though all of us would like to think we’d be above doing anything illegal to gain the approval of an important adult or parental figure in our lives. Can any of us truly say what we would or wouldn’t do? Same for Diego. He was raised by his mother [a cousin of Roxi’s mom], but her approval was fleeting at best.

Abby is a cop. Things aren’t going so well for her. Then her world falls completely apart. A mom who never sees her daughter. A cop who is suspended. A daughter and sister who rarely sees her family. Abby is in a difficult spot. I see her growth as a character throughout the book. Ms. Darlington didn’t give us the reconciliation with her daughter, which I’d hoped to see, but there is some hope for it. She will stop at almost nothing to find the answers she needs.

I liked Christy. I ached for her, for her loss. I have hope for her future.

Ms. Darlington has some wonderful secondary characters. Gordon the truck driver. Stan from the coffee shop. Jan, and Keith, the ranch owners [who probably shouldn’t be relegated to ‘secondary’ status]. Even Selah. All following God’s guidance to be where they needed to be, when they needed to be. Being His hands and feet in Roxi’s life.

This is a good book. I would buy it [though this copy was provided for free by the publisher – the opinion is my own]. I will likely reread it. I would buy her previous book [which wasn’t necessary for reading this one]. I will read the next one.

Overall, I give Bound by Guilt 8.5 out of 10 stars.

Great job! You kept me turning the pages.
Francine Rivers, Internationally best selling author

C.J. is a wonderful, talented writer . . . extraordinary . . .
Bodie Thoene, best-selling author of the A.D. Chronicles

This one engages your senses and reaches your heart.
Jerry B. Jenkins, NY Times best-selling author & owner of The Christian Writers Guild

Watch the book trailer:

About the Author:
C. J. Darlington won the 2008 Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel contest with her first novel, Thicker Than Blood. She has been in the antiquarian bookselling business for over twelve years, scouting for stores similar to the ones described in her novels before cofounding her own online bookstore. In 2006 C. J. started the Christian entertainment Web site with her sister, Tracy, and has been actively promoting Christian fiction through book reviews and author interviews. A homeschool graduate, she makes her home in Pennsylvania with her family and their menagerie of dogs and cats. Visit her website


What I’ve Read Wednesday, Julie Lessman Day 1

Current Facebook status: is changing her status to reflect her desire to win a prize. I ♥ Julie Lessman. I’m going to post a review of her first book A Passion Most Pure momentarily. Cuz she’s giving away prizes if you post reviews and I ♥ her ;).
Currently Playing in the Background: Storm Chasers, multiple vortices vorticies vortexes – don’t worry Discovery, you don’t need that warning – I won’t be attempting any time soon.
Current NaNoWriMo status: WINNER!  Finished with 50289! Story isn’t done but is still winner!

[Notes: This is Julie Lessman review month!  I have her first 4 books in hand – about half done reading #4.  I’m planning a random notes post tomorrow on a number of things.  Erynn Mangum’s second series will be reviewed Saturday.  But in the meantime, heeeeere’s Julie!]

Book Description:
Refusing to settle for anything less than a romantic relationship that pleases God, Faith O’Connor steels her heart against her desire for the roguish Collin McGuire. But when Collin tries to win her sister Charity’s hand, Faith isn’t sure she can handle the jealousy she feels. To further complicate matters, Faith finds herself the object of Collin’s affections, even as he is courting her sister. The Great War is raging overseas, and a smaller war is brewing in the O’Connor household. Full of passion, romance, rivalry, and betrayal, A Passion Most Pure will captivate readers from the first page

First, just let me say that I ADORE Julie Lessman!  In fact, I want to be Julie when I grow up.  She writes incredible books and is wonderful to boot.  I’ve gotten to know her a little bit over the last couple of months and I just flat out <3 her.  The reality is if I can write half as well, I’ll consider myself enormously blessed.

So the first book she wrote is A Passion Most Pure.  She started it as a kid and came back to it a few years ago.  You can read more of her story on her website.  Julie is also a part of the wonderful Seekerville blog.

So what did I like about A Passion Most Pure?  A better question would be what didn’t I like?  There’s nothing I can specifically put my finger on that I didn’t like.  There were times that I wanted to go knock on Julie’s door and shake the book at her and demand she explain why on God’s green Earth did Collin do this or Faith do that?  And Charity?!  What about her?!  And Mitch?! And I did do that – virtually.  Emailed her my thoughts as I went ;).  Not all of them.  But enough.  When she fixed one particular situation, I literally jumped up and down [well, not literally, but I did squee]!  And emailed her to tell her what I thought.

But Julie pulled through!  She did not disappoint.  She answered enough of the questions while hinting at answers to more in books to come.  Her fourth is out, fifth is coming out in the spring [I think] and the sixth, as of this week, is officially being written.  Each child in the O’Connor family gets his or her own book and this one is Faith’s.

Faith O’Connor grew up in Boston with her Irish-American Catholic family.  She’s not the oldest child, but is the oldest daughter.  Her next youngest sister, Charity, is seeing rogue hottie Collin McGuire.  Collin has a bit of a reputation with the women – a reputation that is well-earned.  But when Faith and Collin realize they have an attraction for each other, it throws a wrench in Charity and Collin’s romance.  Collin and Faith are meant to be together.  It’s obvious, right?  But there’s a problem.  Or two.  Or more.  Dad didn’t approve of Collin for Charity, why would he for Faith?  And then there’s WWI [though they didn’t call it that, of course].

But even the ‘Great War’ isn’t the biggest problem.

The biggest problem?  Faith’s, well… faith.  A fervent Catholic [not just going through the motions], her faith is the biggest thing in her life.  She has a passion for God that surpasses all else and she won’t settle for a life with a man who has any less.  Collin?  Not so much.  But the two of them together?  Sparks fly – and not just the fighting kind.

Julie’s tagline is “Passion with Purpose”.  She writes passionately.  She writes about passion – both for God and between a man and woman.  While there is that ‘passion’ outside of marriage in the life of some of the characters [Collin in particular in this book], the emphasis is still on purity before God.  That passion is fine, good, even God-ordained, in the right time and place – within the context of marriage.  It’s refreshing to see the temptations a couple in love – or even just in lust – struggle with the kinds of things that so many do in real life.  I know there are many who feel that doesn’t have a place in a Christian book and I know that was something Julie struggled with in finding a publisher – too Christian for ABA, to secular for CBA – but she found a publisher willing to take the risk and I, for one, am so very, very glad she did.

Besides, she thinks I’m a hoot ;).

9.5 out of 10 stars [because I know there was SOMETHING that bugged me a bit, but I loaned out my copy and can’t name it off my head and besides, now she has somewhere to go with the next one =D].

What I’ve Read Wednesday

YAY!  I’m finally getting to post a review on Wednesday :).  I’ve been planning to do this for like a month and a half now, but things like Christopher’s ‘let’s play the stop breathing game’ and hospital visit stuff then school got in the way.  I have about fifteen books sitting on the table next to me that need reviewed and returned to the library.  The plan is to do that then they’re all ready to go each Wednesday ;).

So for today’s book… Candace Calvert’s Critical Care!  I just discovered Candace’s books last week thanks to a blog post and then a rabbit trail from that blog to another one, then another, then scrolling through then… Well, it was like a pachinko machine, to be honest and I don’t remember the exact path, but that’s okay =D.

Christopher and I did our early morning school/babysitter thing, grocery shopping, stopped by the school to drop off Emily’s snacks for her Star student snack day [her teacher said she loves being Star student – shocking!  Em loving the center of attention?!  Couldn’t be!  Of course, her shorts are on backwards but that’s because Dad was home this morning ;)], talked to Miss Julie [Abbie and Emily’s preschool teacher who was outside with this year’s preschoolers], stopped at the library [love the drive up window!], the bank then home to put up the groceries, feed the 3yo and watch too much Mickey Mouse Clubhouse [the new Road Race episode in which Mickey’s voice sounds funky – did they get a new voice actor?] and I settled in to start Critical Care.  We got home about 11 am.  I finished before 2pm.  That’s a good thing.

Initial thoughts:
It’s a bit shorter than most of the books I’ve read recently but I’m good with that.  It actually gives me hope because it’s about the same length as Unbreak Her Heart.  Mine is about 72K words and I’d be interested to know what Critical Care came in at.

From the cover:

After her brother dies in a trauma room, nurse Claire Avery can no longer face the ER. She’s determined to make a fresh start–new hospital, new career in nursing education–move forward, no turning back. But her plans fall apart when she’s called to offer stress counseling for medical staff after a heart-breaking day care center explosion. Worse, she’s forced back to the ER, where she clashes with Logan Caldwell, a doctor who believes touchy-feely counseling is a waste of time. He demands his staff be as tough as he is. Yet he finds himself drawn to this nurse educator … who just might teach him the true meaning of healing.

What I Loved:

  • Jeremiah 29:11 – Yep, my favorite verse makes several appearances :).  It’s written on my bathroom mirror right now and displayed prominently in Claire’s home.  Is it God telling me something?  Or random coincidence?  I know what Jan would say… 😉

What I liked:

  • I’ve spent too much time in the last couple of decades [eep!] watching medical dramas of one kind or another.  Reading about one is a bit different!  Critical Care is inspirational ER without the ‘drama’ [in the off-screen sense; ER went on a few seasons too long…]  I could see the emergency room in my mind’s eye both from those shows and from our all too recent visit ourselves [see: Overwhelming Gratitude]
  • I love Claire.  I feel for her after the tragic loss.
  • I love Logan.  I didn’t like his picture on the cover :p.  I kept thinking ‘but he doesn’t have long curly hair in his picture!’  I know – author’s don’t have much choice in that ;).
  • I love the rest of the supporting characters!  They’re so real!  Erin struggling with relationships.  Sarah dealing with her past.  How those things are resolved.  Or at least starting to resolve.
  • Logan finally opening up – not just with Claire but with everyone.  The resolution in his life with so many things in his past.
  • The ending left me with a smile on my face.
  • I’m glad that Disaster Status was on Amazon for like 1.50 or so yesterday – the Kindle edition – so I already have it on the iPhone waiting to read because the library’s two copies aren’t due for at least a week – but I still wish I had an actual hard copy to read :/.

What I Didn’t Like:

  • The ending :p.  Yes, I see what I wrote up there.  But I also know that Disaster Status picks up at another hospital with one of those supporting characters who moves at the end of the book.  Okay, I can deal with that.  But my inner literary voyeur wants more Claire and Logan ;).
  • Um… that’s about it ;).  Except that I wish the one character, minor though he may be, would have gotten his comeupence [how do you spell that?!] because it so annoys me that he didn’t.  But that particular kind of situation is a bit near and dear to my heart.


It’s going on my Amazon wish list.  I liked the characters.  I loved the romance.  And I liked the medical aspect of it – maybe it’s too many hours wasted watching ER, House, or true stories on Discovery Health, but I liked it!  I also found an interview on Title Trakk that said that she has other books out for the general market – comic mysteries with a wacky cruise nurse or something to that effect.  Think I’m going to have to try to find those :).

9 of 10 stars

Now to finish those query letters and get my main webpage up and running instead of having the ‘coming soon’ thing on there forever.  It needs a bio and the first chapter posted – though I did post the first page here on the blog :).

More Reading and Writing

I’ve done a lot of reading in the last couple of weeks.  I’ve read another Deb Raney book that I’ll review later.  I read all of the Cheney Duvall, MD/Cheney and Shiloh: The Inheritance books [9 all together].  I’d hope that there would be another several books, but since it’s been 5  years since the last one came out, I don’t think it’d be worth my time :(.

Last night I read Erynn Mangum’s Miss Match that was very good.  I’ll be reviewing it later as well [though I think I’d like to wait until I’ve read all three and book 2 is currently checked out with another hold on it before mine /cry/].  Congratulations go to Ms. Mangum and her husband on the birth of their new son!

This afternoon is going to be spent getting ready for tonight’s Bible study and then getting queries ready.  Jan, my ‘other mom’, started something yesterday from a writing prompt but then promptly [haha!] got stuck a page or so later.  I am contemplating stealing it ;).  How does Married by Monday sound for a title?  I’ve got some ideas floating around my head and possibly even how to combine it with another story I’ve got half plotted out to make both of them work better.  Hmmm… I think I like that idea.  I even have a thought on how to turn it into a seven book series [one for each day of the week].

I would love to try my hand at Chick Lit [like Erynn Mangum].  Think I could do well at it if I had the right idea, but all of the ideas I’ve come up with so far involve coffee – something I am singularly ignorant about.

And now… /big dramatic pause/  I’m off to make lunch.