Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Christy Award Nominees ~ Congratulations from Novel Reviews

Ann Arbor, Mich.

The Christy Advisory Board is pleased to announce nominees in nine categories for the 2008 Christy Awards honoring Christian fiction. The Christy Awards dinner will be held Saturday evening, July 12, 2008, at The Rosen Centre in Orlando, Florida.

Visit the Christy Awards online for more information.

The Christy Awards 2008 Nominees

♦ Chasing Fireflies by Charles Martin (Thomas Nelson)
♦ In High Places by Tom Morrisey (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)
♦ Quaker Summer by Lisa Samson (Thomas Nelson)

♦ Home to Holly Springs by Jan Karon (Viking Penguin)
♦ A Time to Mend by Sally John and Gary Smalley (Thomas Nelson)
♦ What Lies Within by Karen Ball (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group)

♦ Lady of Milkweed Manor by Julie Klassen (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)
♦ A Proper Pursuit by Lynn Austin (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)
♦ Tendering in the Storm by Jane Kirkpatrick (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group)

LITS (four nominees due to a tie)
♦ Doesn’t She Look Natural by Angela Elwell Hunt (Tyndale House Publishers)
♦ Hallie’s Heart by Shelly Beach (Kregel Publications)
♦ Let Them Eat Cake by Sandra Byrd (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group)
♦ Trophy Wives Club by Kristin Billerbeck (Avon Inspire, a division of Harper
Collins Publishers)

♦ Lightning and Lace by DiAnn Mills (Barbour Publishing)
♦ Remember to Forget by Deborah Raney (Howard Books, a division of Simon and Schuster)♦ Remembered by Tamera Alexander (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

♦ The Cure by Athol Dickson (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)
♦ My Hands Came Away Red by Lisa McKay (Moody Publishers)
♦ The Pawn by Steven James (Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

♦ Auralia’s Colors by Jeffrey Overstreet (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group)
♦ The Restorer by Sharon Hinck (NavPress Publishing Group)
♦ Scarlet by Stephen R. Lawhead (Thomas Nelson)

♦ Auralia’s Colors by Jeffrey Overstreet (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group)
♦ Demon: A Memoir by Tosca Lee (NavPress Publishing Group)
♦ The Stones Cry Out by Sibella Giorello (Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

♦ Hollywood Nobody by Lisa Samson (NavPress Publishing Group)
♦ In Between by Jenny B.Jones (NavPress Publishing Group)
♦ Maggie Come Lately by Michelle Buckman (NavPress Publishing Group)

A note from Kelly...Thanks, for sending the press release, Jeane from Wynn-Wynn Media. I also must say I've read many of the titles and/or authors' other works and I think the committee chose well. Congratulations to all the nominees.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Deborah Raney's Leaving November ~ Reviewed

Leaving November
By Deborah Raney
Published by Howard Fiction
ISBN-13: 978-1-4165-5829-3
Genre: Women's fiction

Back Cover:

There's one thing she has vowed never to abide in a man. Could the horrible rumors be true? Is her life repeating itself?

Eight years ago, Vienne Jenney moved away from Clayburn and all its gossip to pursue a law degree in California. But now she has failed the bar exam again. Is she destined to be stuck forever, a failure—just like her father—in this two-horse town?
Nine months ago, Jackson Linder left Clayburn with no explanation to anybody. Now he, too, is back. He isn't sure he's ready to face the rumors and well-meaning questions if the town's busybodies. Yet he's determined, once more, to make his art gallery a success—in spite of the secret that haunts him every day.


Deborah Raney never shies away from tackling tough subjects and Leaving November takes on one of the grittiest: alcoholism. In her portrayal of recovering alcoholic Jackson Linder, I saw the raw emotion of battling temptation depicted with brilliant sensitivity. The devastation addiction has on families, as revealed in Vienne, is not glossed over in this hard-hitting love story. Neither is the redemptive and sustaining power of God.

Leaving November is perhaps her best yet. I was completely captivated by Vienne and Jack, and all the other people who live in Clayburn. Beautiful, believable and unforgettable, these characters will live on in your memory long after you turn the last page.

Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Peggy Darty's When Zeffie Got a Clue ~ Reviewed

By Peggy Darty
Published by: Waterbrook Press

Back Cover:

It’s an ordinary afternoon in Summer Breeze, Florida, when a young, wide-eyed girl steps into I Saw It First, the trash-to-treasure shop Christy Castleman and her Aunt Bobbie have opened. Clutching a jewelry box, Zeffie Adams tells Christy she needs money to pay her grandmother’s medical bills, prompting Christy to offer this curious visitor more than the jewelry box is worth – or so she thinks.

But complicated questions form when Christy rips out the box’s lining and uncovers a clue to a cold case murder mystery from eight years ago. Despite caution from her family and handsome boyfriend Dan Brockman. Christy decides to do a little detective work of her own. After all, the infamous murder happened close to her grandmother’s farm. How risky could it be to take the jewelry box back to the Stirckland plantation and ask around about it?

Soon Christy finds there is more to the small box than someone wants her to know. A jewelry theft. A mansion murder. Dangerous family secrets buried in history. Can Christy convince other to let go of the past before it’s too late?


This is my first cozy mystery to read by Peggy Darty and I’m sure it won’t be my last. The author says “The cozy mystery is, by far, my favorite, because this genre allows the reader to participate in solving the mystery.” I did like that about reading this book. I really liked the town in Florida called Summer Breeze. It’s a place you definitely want to stay for a while. Zeffie is the most adorable little girl that everyone falls in love with and wants to take home. She meets the main character Christy at her store called “I Saw It First Shop”. Don’t you just love that name? I also like what there store does. Christy explains to Zeffie “What we like to do here is rework something that’s lost its purpose and make it pretty again.” I think every town needs one of these shops. I know God allows us to be re-worked once we’ve lost our purpose. All things are made new once we give our lives to him. I liked her analogy.

Zeffie hands Christy a clue that reopens a case from years ago. This case was personal for Christy. The man that was murdered saved her life. With this new clue she is determined to track down the killer if it’s the last thing she does. You will love this town and the Characters as well. This is the third book in Peggy Darty’s cozy mystery series. Reading this book makes me want to go back and read the rest.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
Bonus Review:
Once again Peggy Darty teases her reader to those delightful offshore breezes on the Florida coast. The town of Summer Breeze is almost another character in this third of the Murder and Mayhem on the Florida Coast series. It's filled with mystery, romance and more twists and turns than a rollercoaster.
When Zeffie Got a Clue is heartwarming and fun, a page turner to be sure. Darty has done it again, and I can't wait to see where she takes us next. If you're a lover of cozy mysteries, you need to get When Zeffie Got a Clue. I give it a high recommendation.
Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sharlene MacLaren's Courting Emma ~ Reviewed

Courting Emma
By: Sharlene MacLaren
Publisher: Whitaker House
ISBN: 978-1-60374-020-3

A Story of Survival, Mystery, and Unexpected Love

Twenty-eight year old Emma Browning has built a barricade around her heart to survive the pain of growing up with her alcoholic father, Ezra. As she runs Emma’s Boardinghouse, she plays host to an array of unkempt, earthy characters while trying to maintain a protective emotional distance from people. No one has succeeded in getting to know the beautiful yet steely edged proprietress. That is, not until Little Hickman Creek’s handsome new pastor, Jonathan Atkins, takes up residence in the boardinghouse and begins to dismantle her carefully controlled world…

Clinging desperately to her stubborn ways and unable to forgive her father, Emma begins receiving letters from a mysterious sender who somehow knows about her and has secret information about Ezra’s past. Amidst all this, she is surprised—and unsettled by the attentions of both Johnathan and Billy, the smooth-talking traveling showman.

When the town of Little Hickman Creek is stunned by an unexpected turn of events, will Emma risk removing her protective shell to accept the love of God---and the love of a man?


The story begins with Emma struggling with hard-heartedness toward God, her father, and anyone who dares to get to close. A childhood schoolmate, now pastor, is led by God to help restore the broken relationship between Emma and her earthly father, as well as, her heavenly one.

Sharlene MacLaren touches on a variety of topics such as forgiveness, grace, prayer, and self-worth in the story. She does a splendid job incorporating scripture throughout the book. I counted sixteen Bible quotes. Some of the sermons told by the fictional pastor are so inspirational they could be used in one’s personal devotion time.

Besides the spiritual wisdom revealed in Courting Emma, it is also a fun read. The book leaves you with a good feeling about God, others, and life in general. It also reminds you that God values you just because your, you. When I finished the last page of Courting Emma I found myself wanting to relive the experience all over again.
Reviewed by: Shellie Powell

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Ed Baker's The Elephant in the Room ~ Reviewed

By Ed Baker
Published by New Life Book Distributors
Hardback 142 pages

Back Cover:

Michael Davidson is a thirty-ish executive with a good job, a loving wife, and two wonderful children and financial problems. Despite a healthy income and successful career, the Davidson’s can’t seem to accumulate any savings and are living paycheck to paycheck.

Michael is frustrated about his lack of progress toward a successful financial future, and turns to someone in his family who has been successful for “The Secret”. He is surprised when Aunt Katherine starts talking about ”the elephant in the room” rather than money, numbers, or specific investment strategies. Over a series of meetings, Michael discovers that several easy-to-understand fundamental elements, all under his control, are the REAL secrets that will have a profound impact on his family’s financial future.

Follow Michael as he discovers that the secret to financial success is having a sound financial plan that reflects your values, goals and having the disciplined behavior to stick to it. This story shows that there is no magic bullet or secret to financial success.

The real secret is contained inside, and is so easy anyone can do it.


This fictional story was one quick, easy and influential book that everyone should read at least once. It reminded me of the movie “Karate Kid” (hang in with me here). Daniel wanted to learn how to fight and be the BEST at karate. He wanted Mr. Miyagi to teach him the tricks that made him so amazing and powerful when he used karate. The first week Daniel comes to Mr. Miyagi and he has him wash the car. Then the next week he has him waxing the car. Daniel gets exasperated and feels that Mr. Miyagi is taking advantage of him. He doesn’t want to be the cleaning boy he wants to learn karate. Then one day Mr. Miyagi puts it all together for him. Daniel then sees that he had been learning Karate all along thru these tasks and at the same time getting physically stronger each week.

The same is true with Michael in this story but instead of Karate – Michael wants to learn how to be rich. He wants to be rich right now. What is the secret? What is the short cut? Each week he meets with his Aunt Katherine in hopes of this discovery. At first he’s excited about their meetings and the possibility of learning THE SECRET from his Aunt. But after a few weeks he thinks all these things she is having him and his wife do are foolish. He later finds out the rest of the story just like Daniel in karate kid. Life lessons are tough to learn sometimes. I wish I would have read this book when I was a teenager. This book has a great way of explaining a financial base from where you can start to have financial freedom. It’s made me look at several things about money in my own life that I think I need to be tweaked. It might make you take a second look at the way you manage money too. I’m very excited for this financial tool from which I can starting talking to my kids about money and not have them close the door on that subject before I even say a word. The story speaks for itself. I like that.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Robin Jones Gunn's Sisterchicks Go Brit ~ Reviewed

Sisterchicks Go Brit!
By Robin Jones Gunn
Published by Multnomah Books
Pages 304

Back Cover:

Sisterchick N: A friend who shares the deepest wonders of your heart, loves you like a sister, and provides a reality check when you’re being a brat.

Two midlife mamas hop over to jolly ole England and encounter so much more than the usual tourist stops. Liz does have a bit of a childhood crush on Big Ben, and she has hoped to “meet” him ever since her fifteenth birthday. Kellie dreams of starting an interior design business and figures Liz needs to be a part of that equation – a calculation that hasn’t added up for Liz yet.

Nothing on the excursion goes the way these two friends had envisioned. They start with a village pancake race and end up being held for questioning on The Underground. Kellie and Liz take a wild tour through the land of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien and then find themselves swept up, up, and away in a hot air balloon over the Cotswalds. London beckons with the Tower of London, Windsor Castle, shopping at Portabella Road in Knotting Hill, and of course, reservations at the Ritz for a posh high tea.

A few detours along the way and the possibility of being lost in a London fog of wonderment aren’t enough to stop these two Sisterchicks!! Each step of their regal journey is lined with evidence of God’s gracious compassion, and both come to realize that God knows their every wish. He is the One who planted every dream in their hearts. And, oh, what a surprise awaits them when they return home!


QUESTION: “Do you know what the dearest kindness is that a woman can offer herself in the autumn of her years?

ANSWER: “It is the gift of giving herself permission to take risks.”

Robin Gunn goes on to explain “That’s when I understood that sometimes a hibernating dream or a dormant wish might…be nudged right up to the cliff’s edge of possibility… In that risk taking moment, the wish just might discover it’s wings and fly.” I am on the verge of such a risk taking moment. I too have a sisterchick that I have known since high school. She is the dear friend that lead me to the Lord. It has been her dream that we take a trip overseas to celebrate our birthdays (our birthdays are a couple of weeks apart). The Lord has had my friend overseas many times on mission trips. I have prayed for her and experienced many new countries and customs through her travels. I feel like I have experienced the very same thing reading this book Sisterchicks Go Brit!!! I’m right up to the cliff’s edge and at that risk taking moment. I know that Robin Gunn’s book has helped give our dream wings to fly.

I love when I can experience another person’s travel adventure and learn about history along the way. Robin Gunn includes bonus pictures in the back of this book from her actual trip to London. She went to Bedford where the tradition of British afternoon tea was instituted by Anna, the Duchess of Bedford. Robin and her friends took high tea at the Ritz and several other places and pictures are included. This helped me to feel like I actually took this trip with Robin. I also loved that I learned so much about British literature and their authors. I’m not sure where my sisterchick and I will go on our trip but I might just consider England; it sure sounded like fun. This has made me want to check out some of Robin’s other “Sister Chick” books to see where the Lord is really leading my friend and I to go. I know that the Lord is the One who has planted every dream in our hearts. If you love adventure and/or are thinking of traveling; Robin Gunn’s Sister Chick books are the books for you. I know I’m hooked.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent

Friday, April 18, 2008

Melanie Wells' My Soul to Keep ~ Reviewed

My Soul to Keep (Dylan Foster Series #3)
Melanie Wells
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Multnomah Books (February 5, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1590524284

Cover Copy:

It's psychology professor Dylan Foster's favorite day of the academic year-graduation day. A day of pomp, circumstance, and celebration. And after all the mortar boards are thrown, Dylan and some of her best friends will gather around a strawberry cake to celebrate Christine Zocci's sixth birthday. But the joyful summer afternoon goes south when a little boy is snatched from a neighborhood park, setting off a chain of events that seem to lead exactly nowhere. Police are baffled, but Christine's eerie connection with the kidnapped child sends Dylan on a chilling investigation of her own. Is the pasty, elusive stranger Peter Terry to blame? Exploding light bulbs, the deadly buzz of a Texas rattlesnake, and the vivid, disturbing dreams of a little girl are just pieces in a long trail of tantalizing clues leading Dylan in her dogged search for the truth.

My Review:

Melanie Wells grabbed me with the unique voice and kept me riveted as she drove me through a story that couldn't possibly end well. A primarily first-person dive into broken hearts, love lost and never found, hope, healing and horror, a plunge that kept me turning pages until the satisfying end.

I've not read her previous works so this was my first visit into Dylan Foster's head and Peter Terry's bizarre antics.

The subject matter is tough. An abducted child and another child traumatized, more sensitive readers may not be able to handle some of the intensity though there is a surprising and clean resolution.

Wells covers some obscure teaching on guardian angels in an engaging manner. Once again, a warning, those who don't do speculative fiction with Biblical stretching might want to pass, as well as those readers who struggle with characters who are working toward holiness but haven't progressed to looking like they've attained it. So what I'm saying is, her characters are as real as those you might go to church or work with, you know, the ones will all the warts and issues. I'm not even going to mention that I may see something of Wells' characters in my own mirror.

When I wasn't struggling with the horror of child abduction and clues with dead ends, I found myself cheering Dylan on in her secondary battle, the one with faith.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Amy Wallace's Healing Promises ~ Reviewed

Healing Promises
By Amy Wallace
Published by Multnomah
ISBN 978-1-60142-010-7

Back Cover

When FBI Agent Clint Rollins takes a bullet during a standoff, it might just save his life. But not even the ugly things he's seen during his years working in the Crimes Against Children Unit could prepare him for the overwhelming powerlessness of hospital tests revealing an unexpected diagnosis. If only Sara weren't retreating into doctor mode...he needs his wife more than ever.

Sara Rollins is an oncologist with a mission—beating cancer when she can, easing her patients' suffering at the very least. Now the life of her tall Texan husband is at stake. She never let the odds steal her hope before, but in this case, the question of God's healing promises is personal. Can she hold on to the truth she claimed to believe?

As Clint continues to track down a serial kidnapper despite his illness, former investigations haunt his nightmares, pushing him beyond solving the case to risking his life and career. Clint struggles to believe God is still the God of miracles. Especially when he needs not one, but two. Everything in his life is reduced to one all-important question: Can God be trusted?


With the release of Healing Promises, Amy Wallace has joined the ranks of authors like John Grisham and Jeffrey Archer. The second in the Defenders of Hope series, Healing Promises delivers spellbinding action and characters so vivid they'll live on in your memory long after you shelve the book.

I was amazed by the depth of emotion Wallace gave her characters. Clint battles not only cancer but the ego-depleting realization he can't do what he needs to. The rage he feels over his inabilities and the impatience for God's healing are gut-wrenchingly authentic. The once confident Sara no longer believes what she knows as truth. Fear stalks her as surely as the kidnapper stalks his next victim. The deep spiritual truths they both learn are insightful and life-changing.

And you get to journey with them as they navigate these roads of faith and hope. Normally, I'm not a reader of suspense or FBI thrillers, yet I found myself mesmerized, turning page after page, so engrossed in the story I forgot all about everything else. The impact of Healing Promises was profound, and this reviewer gives it five stars—a must read.

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan

Bonus Review:

In Amy’s first book Ransomed Dreams we are introduced to Gracie and the overwhelming incident in her life. Gracie experiences every mother’s nightmare. The story is fast paced, compelling and full of amazing scenes of forgiveness. I found it exciting, thought provoking, heartfelt and a very rich story. While Gracie’s investigating the facts of her nightmare she meets FBI Agent Steven Kessler working in the Crimes Against Children Unit. Clint Rollins is Steven’s partner. Clint’s wife Sara is an oncologist. This group of people rooting for the same team encourages each other in and out of work. They all face impossible challenges in their lives day in and day out. They all have a strong faith in God. They live their faith out loud in the middle of unnerving situations. You’ll want to read this book first so you’ll experience the richness Healing Promises has in store for you.

In Amy’s new book Healing Promises, all the same characters are back. Faith as they knew it and life as they all were comfortable with is threatened. Clint is tested in every aspect of his existence while he fights for his life. Clint is also on a mission to save children’s lives and catch the serial killer –it’s becoming so confusing for Clint. But he is determined to be an overcomer.

Clint is not going to let this disease get him down and stop him from getting this bad guy. Clint and his wife struggle with the reality that “In our weakness God is Strong.” Both Clint and Sara are used to being at the top of their game, in control. They both struggled with letting go of control – and letting God work in every fiber of their being. They wonder can it be done?

Both Clint and Sara didn’t even want to entertain this thought “In Our weakness.” That was a very uncomfortable place for them both to be, yet it was the very place God was taking them. This is a fast paced story with a great sense of family unity. Amy introduces a new character Hanna Kessler, Steven’s sister. We will learn more about Hanna in the third and final book of this series. Parts of this book made me feel uncomfortable. If you have a family member or friend dealing with a serious illness this will grip you. Amy has a way of getting to the heart of the matter. Treatments can be brutal on the patient and the family members as well. I have known some people very close to me deal with this disease. I had a new appreciation for what that family has gone through. This will definitely open your eyes to many things medically which I felt were necessary to the story.

Clint came to the conclusion “He was weak, but God was strong. God was God. God was in control.” Control that is what Clint wanted; Sara wanted; we all want. Read how Amy’s story gives a clear message of this very passage. This book will leave you with the message of hope and what God’s love looks like. This book will take you deeper if you let the message of God’s Love grip your heart.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent

Bonus Review:

“The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” – Job 1:21…. This verse being the only words on one sheet of paper is how this novel began and it truly was fitting and needed before diving into this book. “Healing Promises” is the second book in the “Defenders of Hope Series” by Amy Wallace. This book picks up almost where the first book ended with a new camera lens shift from the main character in “Ransomed Dreams” which was the first book. The view is focused not on Steven Kessler and his son’s teacher Gracie Lang as the first. Instead, it’s on Steven’s partner Clint Rollins, an FBI Agent in the Crimes Against Children Unit, and his wife Sara. For all of you fans of Mrs. Wallace’s books, she did keep Steven and Gracie as sub characters of this book. The focus on Clint, who was shot in a standoff with a serial killer of small children, found him diagnosed with Cancer. His wife did not pick up on the signs during the running of procedural tests for gunshot victims. Why is that important? Sara Rollins is an Oncologist.

“Healing Promises,” dealing with a diagnosis of cancer and how a patient and a doctor deal with it as husband and wife, becomes real and personal on many levels. Sara’s dealing with it as a doctor, showing that lens, was perfectly told by Mrs. Wallace… as was the behavior modifications and desires of Clint as he tries to remain an agent.

I recommend this book to anyone that has dealt with or is dealing with the disease of Cancer. It’s also for those in their late teens and older if you have be blessed to not have encountered this diagnosis. You will be educated by the information presented during the story and the beautiful testimonies that are written by real life Cancer survivors or their families discussing this serious subject at the end. I think Amy Wallace, yet again, impressed this reviewer’s take on how she paints the pictures in words and beautifully shows all emotions in her storytelling. I give this book 4 out of 4 bookmarks.

Be blessed!


Monday, April 14, 2008

Karen Kingsbury's Someday~Reviewed

Karen Kingsbury
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers (February 5, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0842387498

Pressures of the celebrity lifestyle weigh heavily on Dayne and Katy Matthews as they take on separate movie projects. Tabloid rumors talk of trouble and unfaithfulness between the two. And then a dramatic cover photo threatens to destroy everything theyve worked to build together. Only Dayne knows the truth about the photo, truth that would help Katy believe him. But the truth will also cause devastating damage to the people he loves so dearlythe Baxter family. Dayne must weigh his decision carefully, but at what price?

The Flanigan family recognizes the deep loss of the Christian Kids Theater, and they begin to pray for a miraclethat even without the theater, somehow CKT will go on. Bailey and Connor see their CKT friends fitting in with the wrong crowd and making decisions that will harm them.

John Baxter takes the next step in his relationship with Elaine, giving him a season to contemplate selling the Baxter houseand losing a lifetime of memories. As the rest of the family considers the future, they must pull together like never before. Only their undying love for each other can help them overcome todays trials for a life they know is possible . . . someday.

A story about Gods unending faithfulness and the promise of tomorrowin life, love, and the legacy of family


I've figured out something about Karen Kingsbury's storytelling skill. She is a master in foreshadowing. As I read Someday, I fell into that page turning trance that I tend to suffer from when opening one of her novels. With each chapter, I know something is going to happen that will rock the world of the characters and I somehow want to get to them to warn them, help them avoid it, because I've seen what Karen lets happen within the pages of her novels, and I know this isn't going to be good. Okay, yes, on one hand it's great because her characters grow and change...but the process. Aye-Yi-Yi!

Karen Kingsbury writes reality. I have a tendency, when life is really good, to look over my shoulder wondering if something lurks. Kingsbury incorporates that sense of impending upheaval into her books. My oldest daughter can't sit and read Kingsbury. She has to get up and pace on occasion.

If you haven't read her, and you like to be on the emotional edge of your might want to look into her. Blessedly she adds much hope to her stories and then pours on some grace. Someday is a tense continuation of the Baxter family saga. If you love the characters you will go for quite a ride.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Nicole Seitz's Trouble the Water ~ Reviewed

Trouble the Water
Nicole Seitz
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (March 11, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595544003

Book Copy:
Set in the South Carolina Sea Islands, Nicole Seitz's second novel follows the stories of two sisters. One is seeking to recreate her life yet again and learns to truly live from a group of Gullah nannies she meets on the island. The other thinks she's got it all together until her sister's imminent death from cancer causes her to re-examine her own life and seek the healing and rebirth her troubled sister managed to find on St. Anne's Island.

"This is another thing I know for a fact: a woman can't be an island, not really. No, it's the touching we do in other people's lives that matters when all is said and done. The silly things we do for ourselves--shiny new cars and jobs and money--they don't mean a hill of beans. Honor taught me that. My soul sisters on this island taught me that. And this is the story of true sisterhood. It's the story of Honor, come and gone, and how one flawed woman worked miracles in this mixed-up world."

Nicole Seitz is an artist. Literary fiction lovers might want to check into her further.

Through a group of Gullah women, Seitz reveals the fascinating spirit, superstitions and cultural richness as she revisits the Lowcountry once again. Though Trouble the Water is not a sequel to Spirit of Sweetgrass Seitz revisits settings that are obviously as fascinating to her as to her readers.

This is the type of novel I love to curl up with and savor. Seitz brought three first-person point of view characters to life as they relived sorrow and shame, choices and consequences. Honor, Alice, Duchess and The Nannies live and breath through Seitz's words. And what stories they tell.

This is not an easy read. Christian fiction, yes, traditional, no. Seitz writes with realism including sin and consequences, hypocrisy and the damage done through it. There is no salvation prayer at the end and very subtle gospel sharing, so those who expect a strong gospel message within their Christian fiction may be disappointed. In addition, the superstitions and beliefs of the characters may stomp on some toes. However, those who are hungry for honest, transparent stories about tragedy and sorrow, and hope and restoration need to look further into Seitz's novels.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Brandilyn Collins' Amber Morn ~ Reviewed

Amber Morn
Brandilyn Collins
Paperback: 333 pages
Publisher: Zondervan Publishing Company (April 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310276411

Book Description:

In book four of the Kanner Lake Series, a Saturday morning celebration at Java Joint coffee shop for the "Scenes and Beans" bloggers turns into terror when three gunmen burst into the coffee shop, shoot one person, and hold the rest hostage. Their demand: world attention. The stakes: the lives of over a dozen Kanner Lake citizens.

My Review:

Amber Morn is a big departure from the previous books in the series. Far more characters were given point of view scenes and the action focused heavily at the Java Joint.

When I cracked the cover and read the first few pages I was uncertain how I'd end up feeling when it was all said and done. A group of gunmen and a public place full of innocents is ripped from way too many newspapers in way too many cities. I was far more horrified than if a minor character had shown up dead and I got to watch the mystery and ugliness unfold. This time I was forced to walk through the unfolding terror with no clue who might come out alive and who might not. Chickens beware, Amber Morn is intense.

Nearing the end I began to think there was no way this could turn out pretty or even be resolved. Collins is a masterful writer. She pulled it off and it was believable. Interestingly, I'm glad she has closed the Kanner Lake series. I care enough about the characters that I want Collins to leave them alone and let them get on with the activities of living, in all meanings of the word. I'm glad a sneak peek at her next series shows up at the end of the book. I'm ready to follow her where she's headed next. If you are a Collins fan, you will be, too.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Monday, April 07, 2008

Ray Blackston's Par for the Course ~ Reviewed

Par for the Course
Ray Blackston
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: FaithWords (February 12, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446178152

Book Copy:

Sparks fly when Ray Blackson returns with his trademark quirky sense of humor. Golf, politics, and romance collide in PAR FOR THE COURSE as golf range owner Chris Hackett meets an attractive political correspondent who turns his world upside down.

In PAR FOR THE COURSE, Chris Hackett owns and operates Hack's Golf Learning Center, an eccentric golf range in Charleston, SC. Chris jumps at the chance to step up his game when an attractive new student and political correspondent, Molly, suggests that Chris capitalize on the current, highly polarized, presidential election. This pitting of right versus left means even more income, plus a sharp new girlfriend, and soon Chris, his sidekick, Cack, and their unique golf range are the talk of the town . . . until someone takes the political insults too seriously. Will Molly stick around as Chris learns the true meaning of "playing politics"? And will Chris realize how much he wants her to?

My Review:

I'm not a big golf fan. Ha. I don't even get the game though I was actually on my high school golf team for a week. But that's a whole nother story. And, no way can I tell it like Ray Blackston could.

I don't much care for political maneuvering either. So you'd think this would not be a book high on my list of recommended reads.

Ray Blackston can tell a heck of a story. I love his voice. Par is first person lad-lit in a charming, almost ADD meandering walk through poor Chris Hackett's life as he encounters drama, crisis and women.

My husband picked up Par within hours of its arrival at the house. He devoured it and asked if I had any more Blackston books. I produced Flabbergasted and Pagan's Nightmare from the bookshelf which he then devoured as well. Did I mention that he laughed out loud? He did, at very annoying times while I was trying to sleep. Based on his response, I had high expectations when I finally got my hands on Par. I was not disappointed.

If you love quirk, charm and off-the-wall humor with a dash of sweetness, I think you'll love Par. I did.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Friday, April 04, 2008

Carol Cox's A Bride So Fair ~ Reviewed

A Bride So Fair
Carol Cox
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc. (April 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1597894923

Back Cover Blurb:

A young woman searching for independence and adventure

A handsome Columbian guard striving to protect and defend.

A little boy caught in a web of intrigue and deceit.

Emily Ralston is thrilled when she lands a job in the Children’s Building at the Chicago World’s Fair. And the White City seems to be living up to its promise of excitement when she meets a handsome Columbian guardsman. Surely Emily’s not the only one to sense hte spark of electricity between them?

When Stephen Bridger finds a lost child, he delivers the boy to the Children’s Building to be cared for until his mother is located. But when a dead body believed to be little Adam’s mother is found, a mystery begins to unfold. While unraveling the truth, Emily and Stephen are drawn deeper int danger and closer to each other.

Can Emily and Stephen solve the mystery before time runs out?

Will Stephen find the grounds to win the heart of one so fair?


Growing up in an orphanage, Emily Ralston has learned just how lonely it can be for a child with no parents. When an adorable, abandoned three year old boy is brought in to the child care center where she works, she cannot bring herself to turn him over to the authorities so he can be shipped off and made a ward of the state. This decision brings about a number of problems for Emily, not the least of which is how to let Stephen Bridger, the handsome guard who first brought the boy to her, know what she’s done. And when the boy’s father, a notorious gangster, comes looking for him, Emily knows she’s in way over her head.

Set in 1893 During the Chicago’s World Fair, A Bride So Fair takes the reader back to a different time period. The setting was so well done that I could see the fair, hear the sights, smell the scents. Author Carol Cox did a fabulous job in recreating the World’s Fair. She also created some wonderful characters that were easy to latch on to. I liked the fact that Emily was a “real” person, struggling with faults and sins, though trying to do what she believed was the right thing. Her determination to help her little self-imposed ward was also endearing. Stephen was a dreamy hero, and I loved his sense of protectiveness toward Emily. Yet he didn’t think only of her, but of the others involved as well.

There was also a deeper subject that was touched on without belaboring the point. And that is the forgiveness of God, even for those who have made terrible choices in life. There is no sin too great for God to reach across and redeem the sinner. The compassion with which this topic was handled really impressed me. It can be easy to judge people for their mistakes, but the author handled this the way Jesus did when dealing with the woman caught in adultery.

The last two chapters could have been shortened considerably, and things wrapped up without dragging them out. But that did not take away from my enjoyment of the story. In fact, now that I’ve read this, I am anxious to find the first two in the series.

A Bride So Fair will be sure to delight anyone who enjoys a good clean romance with plenty of action mixed in for good measure.

Reviewed by: Lianne Lopes

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Melody Carlson's i heart bloomberg ~ Reviewed

i heart bloomberg
by Melody Carlson
Published by David C Cook
ISBN 978-1-5891-9104-4

Back Cover

Kendall's managed to wrangle her grandmother's house—free and clear—except for the rules. No male roommates. But that's ok, with the right ad she'll pull in some girls, their rent, and if she's lucky, she won't have it go to work any time soon.

For their part, Anna, Leiani, and Megan all have their reasons for wanting to move in: Anna has got to get out from under her overprotective parents; Leiani can't take another day in her aunt's tiny crackerbox house overflowing with toddlers; and Megan needs a place free of her current roommate from Hades. Though they come with assorted baggage filled with broken hearts and dreams, they will discover they also have a vast array of hidden strengths.

As they struggle to become the women they want to be, they'll find new hope and maybe even Kendall will learn a thing or two about life, love, and the true meaning of friendship.


Hijinks abound in this hilarious yet touching look at friendship and coming of age. From Kendall's misleading ad to the eclectic mix of personalities, Carlson dishes out a memorable tale of real life situations and clever solutions. So grab a tall icy glass of lemonade and head for the nearest hammock with i heart bloomberg and get ready for an afternoon of fun. Novel Reviews and I give i heart bloomberg a very high recommendation.

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

ACFW April Book Release List

Thanks Jill...

Happy Spring! (I'm thinking positively here - our weather is trying to cooperate with the calendar, which says it's Spring! And we've got 11 new Christian novels to enhance your springtime reading. And don't forget to check out my new
Spotlight on award-winning author Lynn Austin!. (If any of the websites appear to be down, please keep trying. I've checked them and know they will work.)

1. A Bride So Fair
, A Fair to Remember, book 3 by Carol Cox from Barbour. Take a trip on a spellbinding thrill ride of intrigue and suspense at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair.

2. Courting Emma
, Third and Final book in: The Little Hickman Creek Series by Sharlene MacLaren from Whitaker House. Emma Browning, boardinghouse proprietor, will give her heart to no one, least of all the preacher who takes a room in her house. What will it take to soften her?

3. Hearts in the Highlands
by Ruth Axtell Morren from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical. Confirmed widower who's led an Indiana Jones life among the Egyptian ruins returns to England and meets a spinster whose goodness and enduring faith crumble the walls around his heart.

4. Healing Promises
Defenders of Hope book 2 by Amy Wallace from Multnomah Publishers. When a life-threatening illness strikes and a serial kidnapper remains elusive, a Crimes Against Children FBI agent and his wife both question whether God can truly be trusted.

5. Searching for Spice
by Megan DiMaria from Tyndale House Publishers. Why can’t a woman enjoy a sizzling affair—with her husband?

6. Summer Snow
by Nicole Baart from Tyndale. Summer Snow is about the unexpected, about finding grace amid the ruins of a life gone wrong and learning to see beauty in brokenness.

7. Sweet Forever
Book one of Indiana Brides series by Ramona K. Cecil from Barbour Publishing Heartsong Presents. The unbelieving daughter of a riverboat gambler and a young minister unsure of his calling find love in an 1845 Indiana river town.

8. The Big Picture
A Katie Parker Production, Act III by Jenny B. Jones from Th1nk. Bobbie Ann Parker has come to claim her daughter. Can Katie leave behind all she loves in In Between for the new life her mother promises?

9. The Convenient Groom
by Denise Hunter from Thomas Nelson. Nationally syndicated advice columnist Dr. Kate is dumped at the alter at her own wedding and marries Nantucket native Lucas Wright to save her reputation.

10. Where the Truth Lies
by Elizabeth Ludwig and Janelle Mowery from Barbour. A case of suicide leads a web designer on a trail of deceit and corruption.

11. Witness
by Susan Page Davis from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. A woman who witnesses a murder can't convince the police she's telling the truth.

Happy reading ~

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Jamie Carie's The Duchess and the Dragon ~ Reviewed

The Duchess and the Dragon
By Jamie Carie
B & H Books
Release Date: April 1, 2008
ISBN 13: 978-0-8054-4535-0

The Duchess and the Dragon is a sweeping love story that crosses two continents and encompasses two different worlds as Serena Winter, a humble Quaker girl from Philadelphia, meets and falls in love with a man she thinks is an indentured servant.

Set in the elegant regency period, Drake Weston, Duke of Northumberland, is unaccustomed to a life of servitude until a tragic mistake followed by murderous rage results in his sudden escape from England. Not knowing Drake’s history, Serena is later shocked to discover her new status as a duchess. What follows are hard truths and softening hearts, romantic triangles, webs of deceit, and ultimately, the power of grace, love, and passion.

Carie’s romance elements are her strong point. The attraction between the two main characters is electric—in spite of the fact that the leading lady is a Quaker. The love story between Serena and Drake connects the reader to the characters. Another strong point is Carie’s use of history. Her blend of fact with fiction is well balanced.

I do think the story action moved along too quickly which sometimes left me as a reader wondering what the characters thought and felt. I also found it unrealistic that Serena would separate from her husband for such a long period of time, including during the birth of their first child. A pregnant woman in a foreign country away from family and friends would more than likely have made up with her husband when delivery was imminent.

The Duchess and the Dragon is not a spellbinding page turner, but it is a pleasant diversion from reality. Author Jamie Carie has a good grasp on romance, so if that’s what you’re looking for, then this is the book for you.

Review by Michelle Griep