Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Rosaria Champagne Butterfield's The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor's Journey into Christian Faith ~ Reviewed

The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor's Journey into Christian Faith
By Rosaria Champagne Butterfield
Crown & Covenant Publications
ISBN B0097G05F8


Rosaria, by the standards of many, was living a very good life. She had a tenured position at a large university in a field for which she cared deeply. She owned two homes with her partner, in which they provided hospitality to students and activists that were looking to make a difference in the world. There, her partner rehabilitated abandoned and abused dogs. In the community, Rosaria was involved in volunteer work. At the university, she was a respected advisor of students and her department's curriculum. And then, in her late 30s, Rosaria encountered something that turned her world upside down-the idea that Christianity, a religion that she had regarded as problematic and sometimes downright damaging, might be right about who God was, an idea that flew in the face of the people and causes that she most loved. What follows is a story of what she describes as a "train wreck" at the hand of the supernatural. These are her secret thoughts about those events, written as only a reflective English professor could.


First off, I'm not usually a non-fiction reader. Oh, I slog through several a year because "they're good for you." Whatever. This one, however, didn't take much slogging because it reads more like a story.

Probably because it is.

The Secret Thoughts of An Unlikely Convert reads like a piece of fiction because it is the story of Rosaria Champagne Butterfield's life. She is a highly intellectual woman with the skill of breaking down lofty thoughts into words that the average Joe can understand (no offense to any Joseph's out there). Coming from a lesbian background, she tells about her conversion to Christianity. It's quite the life changing event.

She offers insight on many topics besides homosexuality, such as worship, homeschooling, and adoption. If you're looking for a fresh perspective on these issues, give this book a whirl.

Reviewed by: Michelle Griep

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Heather James's Hands of Darkness ~ Reviewed

Hands Of Darkness
By Heather James
272 Pages
Release Date Feb 1, 2014
Series Lure Of The Serpent
Series Number 2
ISBN 0825442923


When the terror becomes personal, the hunt becomes more urgent

Evelyn Barrett has a new job, a new baby, and a new life--of sorts. Nearly crushed by the horrific abduction and murder of her daughter (book 1, Unholy Hunger), Evelyn is moving on as best she can.

No longer allowed to practice law, she is recruited by one of the detectives from her daughter's case to become a police consultant. Her inaugural case becomes a baptism by fire as she joins the hunt for a chillingly methodical and sadistic serial rapist and murderer.

Her revulsion and anger fuels a passion for justice . . . and then it becomes personal. Her friend and law school 
roommate, Jen, becomes a victim. The rapist has made a catastrophic mistake with Jen: he has left her alive and able to talk.

Filled with the chilling tension of Unholy Hunger, Hands of Darkness explores the emotional and spiritual consequences for all involved when justice and compassion collide head-on with the darkest examples of human depravity.


This is the second book in this series, and the second I've read of Heather James's novels. I can't shout from the mountaintop that every person needs to read this book. Just like the first one, Unholy Hunger, the theme of the novel is dark, heavy and almost unbearable. 

However, the stories have been powerful and the writing is impressive. James is succinct but descriptive in her narrative. The timing is perfect with tense page turning moments followed by pages where the reader can catch a breath, or slow a heart rate. James even manages to intersperse quite a bit of humor into the storyline, though it could be considered darker in nature as it's the type of coping humor often seen in recovery rooms or station houses. 

The main character, Evelyn, is brash and offensive and sarcastic but underneath has a broken heart that has begun to heal again. Cheering her on toward hope and happiness feels right. In the midst of overcoming her own horror from the recent past, reclaiming her marriage and rejoicing in the birth of their new baby, she collides with a serial murderer rapist and is thrown back into a nightmare. It's not just a generic nightmare because of her position as a police consultant either, her friend lands into the path of the monster and Evelyn finds herself clawing against the serpent as he attempts to take more innocent lives. 

If you crave suspense, crime drama, police or legal procedurals, or gritty Christian fiction and love a tautly and well written story give it a shot. If you need light and inspirational reading material, steer away. 

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Jane Austen's and Seth Grahame-Smith's Pride and Prejudice and Zombies ~ Reviewed

By Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
Quirk Productions, Inc.

Back Cover Copy:

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.”

So begins Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an expanded edition of the beloved Jane Austen novel featuring all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton—and the dead are returning to life!

Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she’s soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers—and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield.

Can Elizabeth vanquish the spawn of Satan? And overcome the social prejudices of the class-conscious landed gentry? Complete with romance, heartbreak, swordfights, cannibalism, and thousands of rotting corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you’d actually want to read.


I was a zombie virgin until I read this book. I went into it with a 1960’s black-and-white Saturday afternoon horror movie mindset, but honestly, this book was so much more vivid. Seriously. If you’re squeamish about innards—namely brains or guts—you might want to avoid this story. I, however, was mildly entertained.

The humor was sometimes a bit tongue-in-cheek and other times in your face, but overall I loved the quirky storyline and the way zombies were blended into this classic. **spoiler alert** What’s not to love about Charlotte contracting the dread disease and Mr. Collins not even noticing his languishing wife is turning into a zombie?

Austen lovers will either hate the author for adding in some unexpected twists to the story or smirk as they might at a naughty puppy, for indeed, there are a quite a few liberties taken within the Bennet family. Loved, loved, LOVED what happens to Wickham, the scoundrel. Elizabeth comes off as an even stronger heroine, and Darcy’s prowess with a sword is positively drool-worthy.

Set aside your prim and proper teacup and give this book a chance if you’re hankering for a fun zombie book.

Reviewed by: Michelle Griep

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Kirkpatrick's, Cabot's, Eakes's Sincerely Yours ~ Reviewed

Sincerely Yours: A Novella Collection [Paperback]
By Jane Kirkpatrick (Author), Amanda Cabot (Author) & Laurie Alice Eakes (Author)
Pages 384
Release Date Feb 1, 2014
Publisher Baker Publishing Group
ISBN 0800722043

In this collection of brand-new historical novellas from four outstanding storytellers, four young women find their lives altered after each receives a letter that sets her on a new path toward a changed life--and perhaps lifelong love. From a Hudson River steamboat to a lush drawing room, from a carousel carver's workshop to a remote and controversial hospital, readers will love being swept into the lives of four young women who are making their way in the world and finding love where they least expect it.


                Sincerely Yours consists of four short stories, each revolving around a letter that the main character has received.  Moonlight Promise is about Camilla Renfrew, a young English woman who unexpectedly finds love on a steamboat headed to the Erie Canal.   Lessons In Love is about Marigold Bentley, a well-to-do, single young woman who is masquerading as a man in order to keep writing a newspaper column on marriage.  One Little Word is about Lorraine Caldwell, who gets away from the big city to visit her brother and forget the fact that she has to marry someone she doesn’t love in order to keep her family fortune from falling in the wrong hands.  And A Saving Grace is about Grace Hathaway, who is trying to save a friend from a notorious clinic that promises to heal people, but really starves them to death for their own benefit. 

                All of these stories were great.  And while none of them tied into the other, I didn’t find that bothersome.  A lot was said in each short story and was well worth the read.  I like how each one advanced in time as well.  The first one started in the early 1800’s while the last one took place in the 1920’s, I believe. Very enjoyable book.

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

MaryLu Tyndall's Abandoned Memories ~ Reviewed

By MaryLu Tyndall
July 2014
Barbour Publishing
ISBN 1616265981


Something sinister lurks in the lush Brazilian jungle. . . .

It is 1866 and the fledgling Confederate colony of New Hope is Angeline Moore’s last chance at a normal life. Running from the law, she longs to make a fresh start in this new Southern Utopia. But a series of strange disasters threaten to destroy everything the colonists have worked for, and strange visions threaten to reveal a past Angeline is desperate to hide.

James Callaway failed at both doctoring and preaching, but he hopes that his move to Brazil will give him another chance to become the spiritual leader he so desires. He longs to create a world free from the immorality that plagued every street corner back home and ruined his life. And he believes Angeline is just the sort of refined woman he needs to keep him on the right track.

But something is amiss in New Hope: haunting visions, the discovery of crypts beneath an ancient temple, and an archaic Hebrew book, set the colonists’ fears on edge. When one of their own is murdered, a series of disasters leads them to believe God has brought them to Brazil to defeat an evil that, if unleashed, could wreak havoc on the entire world.


A very satisfying end to an action packed tale. Seriously. This could be a blockbuster movie. What I loved most is how author MaryLu Tyndall weaves an intricate web that ties her characters together.

This book focuses on James and Angeline, sharing their journey of hardships and bad choices. Though fictional, every reader will relate to the consequences sin plays out in our lives.

One of the biggest themes that gets touched on time and time again is the fact that though the characters have made mistakes in their past, change can happen. Real change. It is possible to repent and lead a new life, leaving behind destructive lifestyles.

I especially loved the ending. I knew there would be a happy finale, but I wasn’t certain how it would play out. I was delightfully surprised. And you will be too, but you’ll have to get the book to find out!

Reviewed by~ Michelle Griep

   WriterOffTheLeash...Blogging Gone Wild

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Suzanne Woods Fisher's The Revealing ~ Reviewed

Suzanne Woods Fisher
Binding  Softcover 
Release Date   May 1, 2014 
Publisher   Baker Publishing Group 
Series  Inn At Eagle Hill   
Series Number  3   
ISBN  0800720954  


Naomi King, soft spoken, loyal, and easily overlooked, has a gift. She sees what others can't see. Intuition, she calls it. Others in Stoney Ridge don't know what to make of it and dismiss her hunches and inklings altogether. 
When a young woman arrives at the Inn at Eagle Hill with a shocking secret about Tobe Schrock, Naomi fears the worst. She can't ignore the feeling that something sinister is at work-- something more than a threat to the tenuous love begun between her and Tobe. 

As signs mount, they begin to point to Jake Hertzler, the elusive mastermind behind Schrock Investments' downfall. Soon, events spiral hopelessly out of control and Naomi must decide whether to listen to her head or her heart. 

In this riveting conclusion to The Inn at Eagle Hill series, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher pulls out all the stops with a fast-paced tale of deception, revelation, and just the right dose of romance.

The Revealing is book three in The Inn at Eagle Hill Series.  This book takes place in an Amish community and revolves around several characters.  There is Naomi King, who is hiding her relationship with Tobe Schrock, who is serving time in jail in regards to poor business dealings his father made.  There is also Galen King, Naomi’s older brother, who is courting Rose Schrock, Tobe’s step-mother.  In the midst of this, a young woman shows up at Rose’s door, claiming to be Tobe’s girlfriend and is nearly ready to deliver a baby. 
This book took me a while to get into because I hadn’t ready the other two books in the series, therefore, I didn’t have time to get to know the characters and the situation, however, once I got going and figured out who was who, I really enjoyed it.  I really didn’t know how it was going to turn out and there were some turn of events that surprised me, but not in a bad way.  I would, however, recommend reading the other two books in the series first.

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Emily Wierenga's A Promise in Pieces ~ Reviewed

A Promise in Pieces
Emily T Wierenga
Series: Quilts of Love
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Abingdon Press (April 15, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1426758855

A small gift, a simple promise, a life forever changed It’s been more than fifty years since Clara cared for injured WWII soldiers in the Women’s Army Corp. Fifty years since she promised to deliver a dying soldier’s last wish. And fifty years since that soldier’s young widow gave her the baby quilt—a grief-ridden gift that would provide hope to countless newborns in the years to come. On her way to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Clara decides it’s time to share her story. Little does she know she will re-gift the quilt one more time—to a recipient who, perhaps, is most deserving of all.


A Promise In Pieces is about a woman named Clara Wilson.  While on a road trip with her whole family to meet an old friend, she begins to tell her life story to her grandson.  Clara served in WWII as a nurse, much to the frustration of her family.  She returns from the Army Nurse Corps to deliver a dying soldier’s last wish, a note stating his love for his young bride, Mattie, which Clara wrote for him while he dictated before he passed away.  As Clara tries to settle back in to a normal life and deal with her own post-war trauma, she decides to use a quilt Mattie had given her, which was to be a baby quilt for her own children, to honor the sacrifices of the soldiers and their families. 
This was a wonderful book, and really kept my interest.  Just when the back story would get interesting, the author would cut back to the present to let us know what was going on while Clara was relating the story to her family.  I really enjoyed watching her character progress, and seeing the struggles she went through, and how her faith in God was restored. 

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Bonus Review: 

Emily T Wierenga's debut novel, A Promise in Pieces, grabbed hold of my heart and didn't let go until I read "The End," and even then, the characters have lingered in my mind. Well-written, this touching story will leave you wanting more from this talented new author. Novel Rocket and I give it our highest recommendation. It's a 5-star must read.

Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan