The Raven (Coffey & Hill #2) by Mike Nappa | Suspense Book Review

The Raven (Coffey & Hill #2) by Mike Nappa

Book review disclosure.

Coffey & Hill #2
Mike Nappa

As part of his street performance, a deception specialist who goes by the name The Raven picks his audience's pockets while they watch. It's harmless fun--until he decides to keep the wallet of a prominent politician, hoping for a few extra bucks. When he finds compromising photos of the councilman and his "personal assistants," The Raven hatches a plan to blackmail the man. However, he quickly finds himself in over his head with the Ukrainian Mafia and mired in a life-threatening plot code-named "Nevermore."

Private investigators Trudi Coffey and Samuel Hill must scramble to sort out the clues to rescue The Raven from a wild card bent on revenge.

Read an excerpt.

My Thoughts

As soon as I finished Annabel Lee I began to eagerly anticipate the next book in the Coffey & Hill series. Mike Nappa's writing style is very compelling. I found myself caught up in all the action and unable to put the book down.

The follow-up novel, The Raven, is even better than the first. Once again Mr. Nappa uses a clever rendering of one of Edgar Allen Poe's famous works. This time the main character is a street performer that goes by the name of The Raven. This character is one that you will grow to like and find yourself cheering for even as he makes bad choice after bad choice. There's just something about him that makes you want better for him.

Another interesting character is Mama Bliss. She's a very beloved fixture in her Atlanta neighborhood. Everyone knows Mama and Mama knows everyone and everything going on in the neighborhood. I really liked her, even when the story started opening up and we find out some questionable things about her, I still liked her. 

Then there's Trudy and Samuel, aka Coffey & Hill Investigations. I know there is so much in their past that it seems they will never be a couple again . . . but oh I want them to be! The sparks that fly when they are anywhere near each other make for a fast-paced story. Trudy is spunky and Samuel is suave, which should mix like oil and water but there's an emulsifier from their past relationship that just keeps blending them together.

If you enjoy a suspenseful read that has clever overtones and sizzling undercurrents of romance then this is your book. I recommend going back and reading Annabel Lee first to get all of the context. You can of course read this book as a stand-alone title, but why cheat yourself of the pleasure of getting in at the start?

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NIV Holy Bible For Girls, Journal Edition from Zondervan | Journaling Bible Review

NIV Holy Bible For Girls, Journal Edition

Book review disclosure.

Bible / New International Version


Designed with you--a thoughtful writer-- in mind, this Bible lets you reflect on God's Word and add your own thoughts, art, and color to favorite verses. God loves you and wants to hear from you. Curl up in a cozy spot and spend some time with the Word. 

Features include:
  • Lines on each page for journaling and notes
  • Thick paper perfect for any writing utensil
  • A presentation page for gift giving
  • A “How to Use This Bible” page to get started on the right foot
  • Ribbon marker
  • The complete text of the bestselling New International Version (NIV)
NIV Journal Bible inside.
Artwork Credit: Printable from Karla Dornacher

My Thoughts

I have been so pleased to see more and more of our teen and tween daughters and granddaughters join us in worshiping through Bible journaling. It can be such a beautiful expression of praise and I am thrilled to see the girls in my family join in.

Zondervan has come out with several new journaling Bibles especially designed with girls (of all ages) in mind. The covers are just stunning. One is in turquoise and the others are in pink, mint, and purple. We have the turquoise edition and I love the whimsical designs mixed with just the right amount of bling!

The inside design is single-column Scripture with wide lightly-lined margins. It is perfect for the writer and artist alike. I find that we do a mixture of both. Sometimes a quote strikes me and so I copy it. Other times a picture comes to mind and I place that in the margins. There is a lot of white space to accommodate whatever your preference may be.

Can I just say that while this particular Bible is being marketed towards girls it is also appropriate for full-grown women. The cardboard wrapping does say for girls but it doesn't say that anywhere on or in the Bible itself. If you love the cover like I do and want to give it to an adult just remove the wrapping!

With the holidays just around the corner this would be a wonderful gift. Why not pair it with a set of colored pencils or watercolors? The girl (or woman) on your list will be thrilled to get it. 

Disclosure of materials.

Christmas Quiet: Receiving The Gift Of His Presence: A 25-Day Devotional Coloring Book by Maisie Sparks & Lauren Younis | Advent Devotional Review

Christmas Quiet: Receiving The Gift Of His Presence: A 25-Day Devotional Coloring Book by Maisie Sparks & Lauren Younis

Book review disclosure.

A 25-Day Devotional Coloring Book
Nonfiction / Advent Devotional

Receive the gift of God's peaceful presence for Christmas 
while enjoying this uplifting devotional coloring book for 25 days.

In the 25 days leading up to Christmas you will deepen your awareness of God's loving presence and rejoice in the gift of your Savior by pausing daily to immerse yourself in these uplifting devotions, faith-building exercises, and peaceful coloring pages. Enjoy the true essence of the holiday as never before as you draw closer to God with this book.

  • 25 powerful devotions that can be read in five minutes and provide lasting inspiration,
  • 25 reflective questions and thoughtful activities that deepen the experience of each devotion, and
  • 25 gorgeous holiday coloring pages to enjoy whenever you like.

Christmas Quiet devotional page.

My Thoughts

I love the Advent season. For me it's a time to pause and reflect on the reason why we celebrate. But if I'm honest even the preparation for this blessed time can be overwhelming and create anything but peace. This beautiful devotional from Maisie Sparks and Lauren Younis understands the crazy that can come about in all of our well-doing.

Their book is designed to cut through all of the noise and allow our spirits to become quiet and focus on the reason for the season. There are twenty-five days of devotions and coloring pages. What I liked about the book is that the authors said right up front that it is okay to take more time with this book. It is meant to help you contemplate the miracle before us. If you need to take a few days to absorb one of the devotions, that's okay. 

The coloring page that corresponds with that day's devotion is printed on sturdy paper that should hold up well to colored pencils, markers, or even watercolors (as long as you don't over do the water!) The coloring page is one-sided so there is no problem with shadowing or bleed through. I have been cutting each coloring page out and displaying it in my home. It's a great way to continue focusing on the Scripture even after you've put the book away.

If you're looking for a way to quiet your spirit and focus on the One that the season is about I highly recommend this resource. 

Christmas Quiet coloring page framed.
The coloring pages make great wall hangings to help you reflect on the Scripture throughout your day.

Connect With The Authors

Maisie Sparks

Lauren Younis

Disclosure of materials.

Goodnight, Manger by Laura Sassi | Christmas Book Review

Goodnight Manger by Laura Sassi

Book review disclosure.

Illustrated by Jane Chapman
Juvenile Fiction / Christmas 

The board book edition of Goodnight, Manger, written by Laura Sassi and illustrated by New York Times bestselling artist Jane Chapman, tells the story of Mary and Joseph as they try to lull Jesus to sleep in the noisy stable after his birth.

It's bedtime for Baby Jesus, but who knew a manger could be so loud? Mama, Papa, and all of the animals try to lull the baby to sleep, but between itchy hay, angels' joyful hosanas, and three kings bearing noisy gifts, it's just too loud. Until Mama finds a way for everyone to work together to shepherd Baby into peaceful dreams under the twinkling stars.

With sweet, rhyming text Goodnight, Manger offers a unique twist on the classic manger tale, deftly weaving together the comforting and familiar routines of bedtime with the special magic and wonder of the manger story.

My Thoughts

Goodnight, Manger is another addition to our 2016 collection of Christmas books. Each night leading up to Christmas we read a book that depicts the season. We enjoyed Laura Sassi's Goodnight, Ark and so I was quite sure that Goodnight, Manger would be a hit as well.

The story takes place some time after the birth of Christ. As every momma can attest there are just nights when the little one can't get to sleep. With sing-song verse and beautiful illustrations this common event is told to us in a way that is sure to make you giggle just a little.

Scripture tells us that Jesus was fully human while being fully God so I am quite sure that there were sleepless nights for all concerned . . . especially in a stable full of noisy animals. If you have a household with a new little one you'll be able to relate to this and share in the joy and chaos. 

I'm always amazed at the conversations that come from reading something like this to my grands. We had a wonderful conversation about Jesus as a baby and how important is was that He came to earth and lived a sinless life so that He could be an atonement for our sins. And you thought it was just a silly story! 

If you are looking for a fun new addition to your Christmas books I would recommend this one highly. It is entertaining but can also be a jumping off point to much deeper conversations.

Goodnight, Manger inside picture.

Connect With The Author & Illustrator

Laura Sassi

Jane Chapman

Disclosure of materials.

Mattie's Pledge (Journey to Pleasant Prairie #2) by Jan Drexler | Historical Romance Review

Mattie's Pledge (Journey to Pleasant Prairie #2) by Jan Drexler

Book review disclosure.

Journey To Pleasant Prairie #2
Historical Romance

When she feels the pull 
of both home and the horizon, 
which will she choose?

Mattie Schrock is no stranger to uprooting her life. Even as her father relocated her family from one Amish community to the next, she always managed to find a footing in their new homes. Now as the Schrock family plans to move west from Somerset County to a fledgling Amish settlement in Indiana, she looks forward to connecting with old friends who will be joining them from another Pennsylvania community--friends like Jacob Yoder, who has always held a special place in her heart.

Since Mattie last saw Jacob, they've both grown into different people with different dreams. Jacob yearns to settle down, but Mattie can't help but dream of what may lie over the western horizon. When a handsome Englisher tempts her to leave the Amish behind to search for adventure in the West, will her pledge to Jacob be the anchor that holds her secure?

Tender, poignant, and gentle, Mattie's Pledge offers you a glimpse into Amish life in the 1840s--and into the yearning heart of a character you'll not soon forget.

Read an excerpt.

My Thoughts

I am quite fascinated by the stories of people that have crossed the United States by covered wagon. In Mattie's Pledge, Mattie Schrock and her family along with several others have decided to leave their current home in Pennsylvania to make a new life in a small Amish settlement in Indiana. There are mixed feelings about the move. Some like Mattie's mother are reluctant to go because it means leaving not only her home but some loved ones. Others like Mattie and her father are excited to embark on this new adventure.

Without being tedious Jan Drexler has given us a glimpse into how long and arduous such a journey can be. There are hidden obstacles and some that are right out in the open taunting the determined travelers. There are also personal obstacles to overcome.

Our human condition tends to always think of the grass being greener on the other side of the fence. Mattie has an inner struggle that inevitably comes to a head and allows her to decide what is really important in life. I and many others will be able to relate to her struggle.

This is book two in the Journey to Pleasant Prairie series but I think it could easily be read as a stand-alone novel. I read and enjoyed book one, Hannah's Choice, and I think I enjoyed Mattie's Pledge even more because I knew the background of many of the characters. If you have time to read both books I think you'll feel like it was worth it.

Connect With The Author

Jan Drexler
Photo Credit: © Magnified Photography

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