Next Chapter Book Reviews

Discover Your Next Favorite Book!

A Place Called Hope

A Place Called Hope
By Philip Gulley
Grand Central Publishing
Retail Price $22.00
Amazon Price: $19.80

Book Description: 

When Quaker Pastor Sam Gardner is asked by the ill Unitarian minister to oversee a wedding in his place, Sam naturally agrees. It’s not until the couple stands before him that he realizes they’re two women. In the tempest of strong opinions and misunderstandings that follows the incident, Sam faces potential unemployment. Deeply discouraged, he wonders if his pastoral usefulness has come to an end. Perhaps it’s time for a change. After all, his wife has found a new job at the library, his elder son is off to college, and the younger has decided to join the military once he graduates high school. Sam is contemplating a future selling used cars when he receives a call from a woman in the suburban town of Hope, Indiana. It seems Hope Friends Meeting is in desperate need of a pastor. Though they only have twelve members, they also have a beautiful meetinghouse and a pie committee (Sam is fond of pie). But can he really leave his beloved hometown of Harmony?

Review

 

I am a huge Philip Gulley fan and I enjoyed the Harmony series immensely.  I was a “late comer” to the series so I was able to read most of the books one after the other and I was so disappointed when the series came to an end.  I had always hoped the author would revisit Harmony and Pastor Sam!  I am so glad he did.  I enjoyed this new book just as much as the others.  Gulley brings laughter into your life as we go on an adventure with Sam and his wife Barbara as they leave Harmony leaving the old behind and reaching toward the new.  This was a heartwarming, easy read that I found very enjoyable.

~Reviewed by Rosie B.

 

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    The Miniaturist

    The Miniaturist
    By Jessie Burton
    Ecco
    Retail Price $26.99
    Amazon Price: $17.07

    Book Description: 

    Set in seventeenth century Amsterdam—a city ruled by glittering wealth and oppressive religion—a masterful debut steeped in atmosphere and shimmering with mystery, in the tradition of Emma Donoghue, Sarah Waters, and Sarah Dunant.”There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed . . .“On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, always locked in his study or at his warehouse office—leaving Nella alone with his sister, the sharp-tongued and forbidding Marin.But Nella’s world changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist—an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways . . .

    Johannes’ gift helps Nella to pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand—and fear—the escalating dangers that await them all. In this repressively pious society where gold is worshipped second only to God, to be different is a threat to the moral fabric of society, and not even a man as rich as Johannes is safe. Only one person seems to see the fate that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation . . . or the architect of their destruction?

    Enchanting, beautiful, and exquisitely suspenseful, The Miniaturist is a magnificent story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth.

    Review

     

    Even though it was a bit hard to get into, this book ended up being a fantastic read.  This historical novel was set in the late 1600s and focused on a family who lived in Amsterdam. While it was told in the third person, it still felt very personal.  The novel was character driven and at every turn you learned a new facet to the story.  It was a well written, dark tale about family, betrayal, love and loss. It really had everything to make an exceptional read.

    ~Reviewed by Allie B.

     

     

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      Misdirection

      Product Details

      Misdirection
      By Austin Williams
      Diversion Books
      Retail Price $14.99
      Amazon Price: $13.49

      Book Description: 

      A street magician needs more than sleight-of- hand to survive getting embroiled in a murder case in this blistering novel of suspense, perfect for fans of Harlan Coben and George Pelecanos.

      After years of chasing fame and hedonistic excess in the bright lights of Las Vegas, Rusty “The Raven” Diamond has returned home to Ocean City to piece his life back together. When he finds himself an innocent suspect in his landlord’s brutal murder, Rusty abandons all hope of maintaining a tranquil existence. Acting on impulse, he digs into the investigation just enough to anger both the police and a local drug cartel.

      As the unsolved case grows more complex, claiming new victims and inciting widespread panic, Rusty feels galvanized by the adrenaline he’s been missing for too long. But his newfound excitement threatens to become an addiction, leading him headfirst into an underworld he’s been desperately trying to escape.

      Austin Williams creates an unforgettable protagonist in Rusty, a flawed but relatable master of illusion in very real danger. As the suspense builds to an explosively orchestrated climax, Williams paints a riveting portrait of both a city-and a man-on the edge.

      Review

      Austin Williams sure knows how to construct a story which is both intriguing, moving and intense with action.  Every single character has a life of there own, and no character is second hand, all have their own depth and force.  This was an easy novel to get into, with a good cast of characters and was well written. There was enough suspense to keep you glued to the pages, but not so much as to overwhelm. It was an enjoyable read. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and look forward to more in the series.

      ~Reviewed by Dave H.

       

      Giveaway

      If you would like a chance to win a free copy of this book email us by the end of the month.  Be sure to include the name of the book in the body of the email along with your name and address

       

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        Bliss House

        Bliss House: A Novel

        Bliss House
        By Laura Benedict
        Pegasus
        Retail Price $25.95
        Amazon Price: $18.90

        Book Description: 

        Death never did come quietly for Bliss House . . . and now a mother and daughter have become entwined in the secrets hidden within its walls.Amidst the lush farmland and orchards in Old Gate, Virginia, stands the magnificent Bliss House. Built in 1878 as a country retreat, Bliss House is impressive, historic, and inexplicably mysterious. Decades of strange occurrences, disappearances and deaths have plagued the house, yet it remains vibrant. And very much alive.Rainey Bliss Adams desperately needed a new start when she and her daughter Ariel relocated from St. Louis to Old Gate and settled into the house where the Bliss family had lived for over a century. Rainey’s husband had been killed in a freak explosion that left her 14 year-old daughter Ariel scarred and disfigured.At the grand housewarming party, Bliss House begins to reveal itself again. Ariel sees haunting visions: the ghost of her father, and the ghost of a woman being pushed to her death off of an upper floor balcony, beneath an exquisite dome of painted stars. And then there is a death the night of the party. Who is the murderer in the midst of this small town? And who killed the woman in Ariel’s visions? But Bliss House is loath to reveal its secrets, as are the good folks of Old Gate.

        Review

         

        I started this book and couldn’t put it down…it hooks you after the first ten pages. If you love mysteries, ghost stories and intrigue this book is for you. It was very eerie, which I like, and the mystery was not easy to figure out.  It made a great read.

        ~Reviewed by Fran O.

         

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          The Illusionists

          The Illusionists: A Novel

          The Illusionists
          By Rosie Thomas
          Overlook Hardcover
          Retail Price $27.95
          B & N Price: $20.57

          Book Description: 

           The intoxicating new novel of magic and intrigue by “a master storyteller” (Cosmopolitan), for fans of The Night Circus and Water for ElephantsOver the course of three decades of writing, bestselling novelist Rosie Thomas has earned an untold number of awards and the devotion of millions of loyal readers. Her new novel, The Illusionists, set in London in 1870, is a thrilling step forward—a captivating tale of passion and fantasy set in the theater world.

          At the start of The Illusionists, we meet Eliza, a young, beautiful woman of limited means. Eliza is modern before her time. Not for her the stifling if respectable conventionality of marriage, children, domestic drudgery. She longs for more. Through her work as an artist’s model, she meets the magnetic and irascible Devil—a born showman whose dream is to run his own theater company.

          Devil’s right-hand man is the improbably-named Carlo Bonomi, an ill-tempered dwarf with an enormous talent for all things magic and illusion. Carlo and Devil clash at every opportunity and it constantly falls upon Eliza to broker an uneasy peace between them. And then there is Jasper Button. Mild-mannered, and a family man at heart, it is his gift as an artist that makes him the unlikely final member of the motley crew.

          Thrown together by a twist of fate, their lives are inextricably linked: the fortune of one depends on the fortune of the other. And as Eliza gets sucked into the seductive and dangerous world her strange companions inhabit, she risks not only her heart, but also her life, which is soon thrown into peril.

           

           

          Review

          This book was set in London in the late 19th century and brought together the most unlikely of companions.  The author did a great job setting the stage for the story with background information and developing the characters and their interactions. It took me a while to get into it, but once I did, I found it riveting.  This book had it all: romance, intrigue, and action which are the key ingredients for a great read.

          ~Reviewed by Allie B.

           

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            How to Talk to Hot Guys

            SO MUCH FUN! I looked forward to reading this book everyday and learn more about the male mind. It is well written and I couldn’t stop reading and found it so empowering giving me tools that I need to meet Mr. Right.  This book helped me to start talking to men and it has been life changing for me. I would never talk to anyone but now I open up small conversations. You have to to build that muscle of getting comfortable talking to guys. I found it a useful read.

            ~Reviewed by Amanda P.

            How to Talk to Hot Guys: The 9 Secrets to Getting and Keeping the Guy of Your Dreams

            How to Talk to Hot Guys
            By Mehow
            Benbella Books
            Retail Price $16.95
            Amazon Price: $13.39

            Book Description: 

            Tired of being told you have to wait for fate to find you the perfect man? Can’t stand the thought of another loser hitting on you in the bar scene? Then it’s time to learn How to Talk to Hot Guys.

            Whether you’re looking for Mr. Right or Mr. Tonight, How to Talk to Hot Guys will teach you the tricks of managing your conversations with the guys you want. By sharing his nine essential secrets with you, legendary pick-up artist Mehow encourages you to stop waiting for Prince Charming and get out there and find him! Learn how to subtly (ghost) lead the interaction away from mundane filler conversation. Free associate boring topics and spin them into something that seems flirty one minute and sassy the next, then learn how to use that sass to have any guy eating out of the palm of your hand.

            Packed with specific advice on what to do, examples of what to say, and tips on how to develop your own game, How to Talk to Hot Guys will allow you to reach new levels of freedom and confidence to date the men you really want—and to be the woman that guys want to date.

            Mehow is changing the rules of The Game…by inviting the women to play!

            Review

            SO MUCH FUN! I looked forward to reading this book everyday and learn more about the male mind. It is well written and I couldn’t stop reading and found it so empowering giving me tools that I need to meet Mr. Right.  This book helped me to start talking to men and it has been life changing for me. I would never talk to anyone but now I open up small conversations. You have to to build that muscle of getting comfortable talking to guys. I found it a useful read.

            ~Reviewed by Amanda P.

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              Behind the Curtian

              Behind the Curtain
              By Dave Berg
              Pelican
              Retail Price $24.95
              Amazon Price: $20.01

              Book Description: 

              Jay Leno’s Tonight Show comes alive in this book by insider Dave Berg, who spent 18 years as Jay’s co-producer.  There were always two shows: the one on stage and the one behind the curtain. This narrative weaves both together, featuring the show’s most legendary moments, including Hugh Grant’s game-changing mea culpa, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s shocking political announcement, and the historic booking of Barack Obama as the first sitting president ever to do a late-night show. But it doesn’t stop there.  Every page is full of zany, wacky and serious moments with celebrities, political and sports figures at The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Foreword by Jay Leno and endorsements by Laura Bush, Bill O’Reilly, Bill Maher,  Gary Sinise, James Carville & Mary Matalin, Larry the Cable Guy and more.

              Review

               

              I love to read nonfiction titles that draw you in and speak to you, making you part of the conversation. This book does just that.  It is like sitting around table with author Dave Berg, producer of the Tonight Show, as he tells, amuses, enlightens, and entertains with one episode after another.  It is an engaging book that shines a light on what it was really like behind the scenes of the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. His stories are infectious and his delivery witty. I learned a lot, too, about the TV industry and personalities that intrigued me. You won’t be disappointed with this read.

              ~Reviewed by Allie B.

               

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                Unexpected Gifts

                Product DetailsUnexpected Gifts
                By S.R. Mallery
                Mockingbird Lane Press
                Retail Price $16.95
                Amazon Price: $16.00

                Book Description: 

                Can we learn from our ancestral past? Do our relatives behaviors help mold our own? In Unexpected Gifts, that is precisely what happens to Sonia, a confused college student, forever choosing the wrong man. Searching for answers, she begins to read her family’s diaries and journals from America’s past: the Vietnam War, Woodstock, and Timothy Leary era; Tupperware parties, McCarthyism, and Black Power; the Great Depression, dance marathons, and Eleanor Roosevelt; the immigrant experience and the Suffragists. Back and forth the book journeys weaving yesteryear with modern life until finally, she gains enough clarity to make the right choices.

                Review

                This is a wonderful novel.  Since the main character is a modern day college student, I am not sure I can classify it as historical fiction, but the family diaries she reads spans many generations so it definitely has an historical feel.  The author did a fantastic job blending the past and the present and weaving it into an interesting, thought-provoking story.  Through the main character, Sonia, the author shows us how our family’s past can be used to shape our future.  It was an intriguing tale.

                ~Reviewed by Denisse R.

                 

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                  No Hero

                  No Hero
                  By Jonathan Wood
                  Titan Books
                  Retail Price $7.99
                  Amazon Price: $7.19

                  Book Description: 

                  Barnes and Noble listed No Hero as one of the 20 best paranormal fantasy novels of the last decade – now available in mass market paperback!

                  “What would Kurt Russell do?”

                  Oxford police detective Arthur Wallace asks himself that question a lot. Because Arthur is no hero. He’s a good cop, but prefers that action and heroics remain on the screen, safely performed by professionals.

                  But then, secretive government agency MI12 comes calling, hoping to recruit Arthur in their struggle against the tentacled horrors from another dimension known as the Progeny.

                  But Arthur is NO HERO! Can an everyman stand against sanity-ripping cosmic horrors?

                  Review

                   

                  This was an interesting sci-fi tale about a man who was torn from his world and tossed into another…none of his own choosing.  It terrifying to read his fight for life as he battles in someone else’s war.  If you like this genre, you will like this book.  Full of mystery and action and it is tad outrageous.  On one level you will be anxious and on another you will be laughing.

                  If nothing else, this book offers an escape from your world to another, but, unlike Arthur, you can stop the adventure at will.

                  ~Reviewed by Kevin S.

                   

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                    Chicken Soup for the Soul: the Dog Did What?

                    Chicken Soup for the Soul: the Dog Did What?
                    By Amy New mark and Miranda Lambert
                    Chicken Soup for the Soul
                    Retail Price $14.95
                    Amazon Price: $10.66

                    Book Description: 

                    Our dogs make us smile every day with their crazy antics and acts of love. This book is full of hilarious and heartwarming stories about the many ways our canine companions surprise us, make us laugh, and touch our hearts.

                    Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dog Did What? will have you saying just that, as you read these 101 humorous and heartwarming stories about our lovable, goofy, and comical canines. Whether funny or serious, or both, these stories will make you laugh and touch your heart.

                    Review

                     

                    This Chicken Soup for the Soul book provides a collection of short, sometimes humorous – sometimes dramatic stories about dogs that have gone the extra mile. Though not trained to perform heroic acts, circumstances and the remarkable bond between the dog and its owner led these animals to perform amazing feats that defy logic. The actions of dogs presented in these stories display courage, loyalty, intelligence, compassion, and other admirable qualities of life and faith. Each story is encapsulated in it’s own chapter, and the stories are well written and engaging. As a dog lover, I found myself getting immersed in each tale. This book made me realize just how important these beloved animals are to us.

                    ~Reviewed by John C.

                     

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