Book 305: UNSPOKEN Review

Unspoken by Dee Henderson
ISBN:  9780764211713 (paperback)
ISBN:  9781441263407 (ebook)
ASIN:  B00DWA69NW (Kindle edition)
Publication date: October 1, 2013 
Publisher: Bethany House Publishing

Charlotte Graham is at the center of the most famous kidnapping in Chicago history. 

The task force of FBI and local cops found her two abductors, killed them, rescued her, but it took four very long years. The fact she was found less than three miles from her home, had been there the entire time, haunts them. She’s changed her identity, found a profession she loves, and rebuilt her life. 

“She’s never said a word–to the cops, to her doctors, to family–about those four years.”

A family legacy has brought her back to Chicago where a reporter is writing a book about the kidnapping. The cops who worked the case are cooperating with him. Her options are limited: Hope the reporter doesn’t find the full truth, or break her silence about what happened. And her silence is what has protected her family for years. 

Bryce Bishop doesn’t know her past, he only knows she has coins to sell from her grandfather’s estate–and that the FBI director for the Chicago office made the introduction. The more he gets to know Charlotte, the more interested he becomes, an interest encouraged by those closest to her. But nothing else is working in his favor–she’s decided she is single for life, she struggles with her faith, and she’s willing to forego a huge inheritance to keep her privacy. She’s not giving him much of an opening to work with. 

Charlotte wants to trust him. She needs to tell him what happened. Because a crime cops thought was solved, has only opened another chapter. . .

Charlotte Graham is a woman with a horrific past. She has changed her name in an effort to distance herself from the horror and memories, but she’ll never truly be able to put her years in captivity away completely. If dealing with that stress wasn’t hard enough, she has to contend with liquidating her grandfather’s estate. Her friends and business associates, Ellie Dance and John Key, have skillfully come up with a plan to assist her in this endeavor. Ellie is not only Charlotte’s best friend, but she also manages Charlotte’s art career. John has become as close to Charlotte as a brother and is her former bodyguard and current head of security. Running away from the past, attempting to liquidate millions of dollars’ worth of inventory (most of it in rare and mint condition coins), and donate funds to worthwhile charities is a very tall order. Before Charlotte meets Bryce Bishop, she is struggling with all three. Bryce Bishop is the owner of Bishop Chicago, a rare coin dealer. His business was chosen based on background provided by Ellie and John. But a tentative business relationship quickly becomes much more.

Unspoken was an intriguing story but a slow read for me, and the speed had nothing to do with the length of the book. It may be related to the fact that the beginning of the story was bogged down with plenty of technical details and jargon relating to numismatology. There were also plenty of subplots going on, such as a cold case investigation into a kidnaped baby that occurred around the same time that Charlotte was being held captive. There’s also a burgeoning romance going on between Charlotte and Bryce. Family drama is added to the equation when it is revealed that Charlotte has a twin sister that was also kidnaped but released after twenty-four hours. Eighteen years after Charlotte’s release, her twin sister has decided to share as much information as possible on the ordeal with an investigative reporter. (Told you there was a lot going on.) I think that subconsciously I had difficulty with this story because it is more Christian fiction than inspirational fiction. I admired the incorporation of prayer and trust in God that was portrayed by Bryce, but his prayers are alternatingly addressed to God and then Jesus. That may be off-putting to some readers and enticing to others. So I guess what it boils down to is did I enjoy the story and the characters? The answer is a yes with some reservations. Some of the dialogue and transitions in the first half of the story didn’t seem to flow as well as it did in the latter half of the story. Some of the subplots were a bit convoluted (one character is presumably in her late thirties/early forties and has worked as a rare coin dealer, homicide investigator, and is now an author . . . seriously?). Even with these relatively minor objections I found Unspoken to be a good read that incorporates murder, kidnappings  torture, rare coins, the art world, philanthropy, romance, intrigue, family drama, secrets, loss of faith, and religious inspiration.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Buy the book:

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Book 295: SHADOWS ON THE SAND Review

Shadows on the Sand: A Seaside Mystery by Gayle Roper
ISBN: 9781601420848
Publication date: July 19, 2011 
Publisher: The Doubleday Religious Publishing Groups

She serves him breakfast at her café every morning … but he never seems to notice her.


Carrie Carter’s small café in Seaside, New Jersey, is populated with a motley crew of locals … although Carrie only has eyes for Greg Barnes. He’s recovering from a vicious crime that three years ago took the lives of his wife and children—and from the year he tried to drink his reality away. While her heart does a happy Snoopy dance at the sight of him, he never seems to notice her, to Carrie’s chagrin. 


When Carrie’s dishwasher is killed and her young waitress disappears, Greg finds himself drawn into helping Carrie solve the mysteries … and into her life. But when Carrie’s own painful past becomes all to present, her carefully constructed world begins to sink.


Will the fragile relationship she’s built with Greg implode from the weight of the baggage they both carry? 

Carrie ran away from home as a teenager. Carrie was a child but took on the responsibility of bringing her younger sister and raising her. Their mother was an alcoholic and her “boyfriends” were just a little too interested in Carrie. Fortunately, Carrie arrived at Seaside and was taken under the wing of some caring and loving people. She was given a job as a waitress in a local café and provided an apartment. Now Carrie owns the café and operates it with the help of her sister. 

Greg used to be a police officer but quit after his family was killed. Now he manages a local Seaside apartment complex and is simply taking life day by day. He has become a regular at Carrie’s café but he isn’t involved in life until one of Carrie’s employees is murdered. Carrie is persuasive and entreats him to help figure out what is going on in their little town, especially after her waitress disappears shortly after the murder. 

If the drama of a murdered employee and a waitress that has vanished isn’t enough to deal with, Carrie also has to deal with facing her mother for the first time in years. Greg is battling his own problems — namely guilt over his family’s deaths, but finds himself wanting to get closer to Carrie as they become more involved in the seemingly mysterious disappearance and murder. 

Shadows on the Sand is a light suspense story with a hint of romance and an overabundance of the inspirational aspect found in Carrie’s thoughts, prayers, and scripture inclusions. The romance isn’t front-and-center in the story but seems to hover in the background. The action is believable for the most part, but I had difficulty swallowing the inclusion of a cult and twisted cult leader. The characters are reasonably well-developed and the dialogue is realistic. Sorry but this story just didn’t do anything for me as there was very little mystery or suspense to be found and the action, although believable, was a bit clichéd.

Disclaimer: I received an copy of this book free for review purposes from the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Book 199: WORLDS COLLIDE Review

Most people think of glitz, glamour and endless partying when Hollywood is mentioned. The world of film and television stars is filled with hard work as well as the glitz and glamour. Religion is not especially synonymous with Hollywood, especially not moderately conservative Christianity, but these two worlds literally and figuratively clash in Worlds Collide by Alison Strobel.

Jack Harrington is a small-town boy that has become the quintessential Hollywood heart throb. He started out on a television show that did well and moved gracefully into film. He worked and played hard, but not as hard as others. It isn’t until his lover dies in a car crash that Jack begins to question his life and goals, but he isn’t quite sure where to go or how to start over. Enter Grace Winslowe. Grace is from a Chicago suburb but a small town girl at heart. She has moved to Southern California with the hopes of starting over. She becomes a school teacher, finds peace with herself through her friends and new found faith, and is moving on until one eventful night where she literally crashes into Jack on the highway. This accident becomes providential for them both as it brings clarity to Jack’s life and love to them both. They begin their life bound not only by love but by faith and begin to introduce their beliefs to others. Fast forward a few years and a celebrity biographer has been hired to tell their story. Jada is hesitant at first because she doesn’t want to hear about the faith and nonsense but soon gets pulled into their stories.

Worlds Collide is as much about love, faith and perseverance as it is about two unlikely worlds clashing then meshing. Jack and Grace aren’t the typical Hollywood couple and perhaps that brings enough intrigue in and of itself. Their stories about faith and love appear quite realistic if not idealistic. Neither Grace nor Jack have had overly happy lives and they have both dealt with serious issues on many levels, personally, professionally, and spiritually. Readers beware, this does not end with a happily ever after…but it does end filled with hope and a sense of purposefulness gained by love and faith. This may not suit all readers due to the abundance of overt religious themes but it is a well written and enjoyable read about faith and love.

Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from WaterBrook Multnomah (Blogging For Books). I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book 174: THE CANARY LIST Review

Imagine that there is true evil in the world in the guise of demons. These demons have the capability of possessing humans and perverting them to suit their needs. Now imagine that these possessed humans have infiltrated government and world religions including religious hierarchy. This is the world that 12-year-old Jaimie Piper and her teacher Crockett Grey have been pushed into in The Canary List by Sigmund Brouwer.

Jaimie knows that there is someone or something after her and seeks protection from the only adult she feels she can trust, a teacher. Unfortunately that teacher is an unmarried male and he lives alone. Someone uses this to exploit the situation and remove Jaimie from Crockett’s protection under the guise of him possibly being a pedophile and in possession of child pornography. It doesn’t help that the one person that can attest to Jaimie staying outside of the home under the supervision of a woman, Crockett’s elderly neighbor Nana, has disappeared. Throw a very restrained child psychologist (Dr. Madelyne Mackenzie) into the mix along with an exorcist (Father O’Hare), the foster care system, Satanism, a crazed stalker, add in the Catholic Church and a comatose Pope and you’ve got a mess.

The underlying premise to this story is that Jaimie is genetically predisposed toward being sensitive to the demon-possessed. She is, in effect, the “canary” in detecting evil. Although there are others like her around the world, they are few and far between. These women have been used by the Catholic Church for centuries to ensure that evil does not gain a hold on the church, especially its cardinals or would-be popes. The intrigue involved in uncovering who is and isn’t evil within the church and their individual motives and power struggles made for some interesting reading. I had difficulty accepting the author’s premise (yes I know it is fiction) that demons are using priests to exploit children as the excuse for the church-related pedophilia cases. The action was all over the place, much like a rollercoaster ride. At times it was hard to keep track of all of the scheming as well as plot twists and turns. I won’t tell you how it ends but the ending left me saying “what?” and wondering what exactly had happened. The only characters that seemed realistic were Jaimie and Crockett. They had their flaws and frailties and weren’t afraid to show them. This, in my opinion helped to show their humanity. The others were somewhat flat and seemed to be more caricatures than characters. The Canary List isn’t a bad story nor was it badly written but there was just something that kept it from being little more than a decent read.

Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from the publisher through Blogging For Books. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”