Monday, June 30, 2008

Ralph Reed's Dark Horse~ Reviewed


Dark Horse
By Ralph Reed
Published by Howard Fiction
ISBN-13: 978-1-4165-7649-5

Description:

At the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, California governor Robert Long got robbed.

It’s a tight race between Long and Senator Salmon Stanley for the Democratic nomination for president. When Stanley triumphs, Long’s delegates walk out, the media has a field day, and Long and his team—including ace political strategist Jay Noble—pack their bags and go home, knowing that whether Stanley fought fair or not, it’s the end of the line.

Unless…Would Long consider running as an independent? Independent campaigns of the past, such as those of Ross Perot and Ralph Nader, have been more gesture than threat—but how might the Internet and modern communications technology change that? And are the American people so disgusted at the partisanship and gridlock of the two-party system—in particular, is the right wing so fed up with the Republican Party—that they would vote for an independent? Would Long even be able to get on the ballot in all fifty states?

Review:

Dark Horse is the most powerful novel I've read in the last few years. Gripping doesn't come close to describing it. It reads like a commentary on the news events of 2008. A top advisor to Presidential campaigns, Ralph Reed's insider knowledge of and experience in the political arena is reflected in characters that not only leap off the pages but make you wonder if it's fiction. It is and I want to vote for Bob Long! I recommend you go to Reed's website and look at the photos and his bio.

Amazingly, Dark Horse was outlined 30 years ago for a time such as this: when both political parties have lost the respect they once deserved. What we just witnessed in the 2008 Democratic primary plays out in Dark Horse.

A potent political thriller, Dark Horse is an eye-opening revelation into the most flagrant problems of the two-party system in America. It's a page-turning rollercoaster-ride of a novel. Dark Horse is highly recommended by this reviewer and Novel Reviews. A five star read!

Click here to read an interview with Ralph Reed.

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Ricky Pierce's Bouncing Billy ~ Reviewed


  • Bouncing Billy
  • Ricky Pierce
  • Paperback: 24 pages
  • Publisher: Outskirts Press (February 6, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1432716964
Description: Bounce with Billy

This is an interactive book for children. Watch Bouncing Billy come alive. Combining active play in an early childhood environment has never been so much fun. Review:

It has been raining all week, but, finally on Friday, it is sunny. So the balls are excited - everyone except Bouncing Billy. Billy is upset because he is different.

But when the kids picked up Bouncing Billy to play with him, he found out why he was different. I liked the book because it was funny, and I liked the characters.

Review by Meg A. age 8



Friday, June 27, 2008

Harry Kraus's Perfect ~ Reviewed


Perfect
By: Harry Kraus, MD
Publisher: Zondervan
ISBN#: 978-0-310-27284-7

Back Cover:

Wendi Stratford’s job as an accident reconstructionist is just one more enviable reflection of her ideal life. She’s got it all—perfect career, perfect looks, perfect husband, perfect home, perfect faith. There’s just one problem: it’s all a sham, right down to her bleached-blonde hair.

So Wendi hatches an impulsive and exhilarating plan to break free of the lie she’s been living--- only to watch her hopes die in a terrible accident. But as she sifts through the wreckage, Wendi comes to a shocking conclusion. This was no accident.

The quest is on to learn the truth, but the truth could be deadly. And now someone is leaving Wendi clues at accident scenes, clues that could lead her straight into a killer’s hands. With her life on the line, Wendi must find strength in a faith that until now had been merely an accessory to her storybook life.

With engaging characters swept into a millrace of mystery and suspense, Harry Kraus’s new novel is ……perfect.

Review:

Wendi has always lived the perfect life. She is the perfect daughter, sister, and wife. However, appearances or never what they seem. At the beginning of the story she decides to stop living behind a fake smile, and reveal her true self. The results are spun through this enticing story of suspense, family, and God’s grace.

Perfect succeeds at reading like a perfect book as it develops the main characters perfect life that is now falling apart. Bodies start piling up around Wendi, and don’t stop until the very end. While she seeks to discover who nearly killed a close friend, she also discovers her true self. This discovery happens as she begins to look beyond the surface level of her husband, parents, sister, and herself. HIV, adultery, and drug addiction are a few other topics woven in the story.

I have heard it said ministers families live life in a fish bowl. People put them on a spiritual pedestal expecting them to stay there. The author demonstrates the reality of this in his well written story. He also shows how guilt affects people in different ways, in the difference between the heroine and the villain.

Perfect is a perfect mystery with a perfect spiritual twist. Reader Beware! Starting this novel at bed time will cause lack of sleep, because you won’t be able to put it down.

Reviewed by Shellie Powell

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Melody Carlson's A Mile in My Flip-Flops ~ Reviewed




A Mile in My Flip-Flops
By Melody Carlson
Published By: Water Brook Press
Page 331

Back Cover:

Seeking solace from a broken heart, Gretchen Hanover traded her wedding plans for home improvement shows and ice cream, but she knows she can’t live on Ben and Jerry’s forever. She also knows that her enthusiastic Lab puppy has outgrown her tiny apartment.

The perfect patch for Gretchen’s dilapidated plans? She’ll become a first-time house-flipper. As ideas go, it’s daring and genius. She’ll take out a short-term loan, buy a fixer-upper, renovate it, resell it, and use the profit for an adorable house of her own.

But Gretchen’s plans to flip quickly flop when the house turns out to be in worse shape than she expected. She is relying on her retired –father, but he wants to draw in his carpenter friend Noah Campbell. And although Noah is handy with tools, Gretchen isn’t so sure about the baggage he brings with him.

A whimsical look at color swatches, mismatched curtain rods, and the building of relationships, A Mile in My Flip-Flops reminds readers that it takes faith to renovate the heart, as well as the home.

Review:

This story drew me in quickly as I couldn't stop laughing as I read. This story was so true to life. I, too, was the daughter of a building contractor and my dad was one of the original "House-Flippers" long before it was popular. This is a humorous and touching story about a determined and eager "house-flipper" newbie named Gretchen, who is tired of sitting on the couch watching this popular HGTV show. She wants action. A "House-Flipper" is someone who buys dilapidated houses in good neighborhoods, fixes them up and hopefully sells them for a profit. Gretchen has been a faithful viewer for 18 months now and knows she has an advantage most of these contestants don't have – her father is a contractor. She has watched him build houses for years. She is confident and ready to tackle the challenge of flipping a house herself – she's watched the shows and her dad, what more was there?

Gretchen soon learns they don't show every possible scenario on "House-Flippers". And, just because she has watched her dad do construction all of her life, it's completely different when the hammer is in your own hand and you have to hit the nail on the head. The show and her dad made this look a lot easier than it is. Unlike Gretchen, who is confident about going to Home Depot or Lowes and buying construction supplies, I hated this task when I was a kid. I never could find what my dad was looking for even though I had him write it down on a piece of paper and had help from the workers in the store. Gretchen moves through the store with the greatest of ease and always finds what she is looking for. How does she do that?

Gretchen and her dad were going to renovate this house in six weeks. Wow!! I would have loved it if the remodeling projects my dad did took as little as six weeks! He did all the work himself after putting in a full day on his own jobs. He also worked weekends fixing up the house. I remember the time when he remodeled our kitchen. We were without kitchen cabinets, the floor was all torn up and we had no working stove or sink. We washed our dishes in the bath tub and got really good at cooking on a Coleman camping stove. My mother was very creative and patient most of the time during that renovation. Remodeling is stressful on family relationships - I know, I've lived it firsthand. Gretchen gleaned this from watching her TV show. She didn't want to put stress and strain on her relationship with her dad during this house flip. She wanted them to have fun.

As a friend reminds Gretchen in the middle of this project, "Life doesn't always meet our expectations." How true that is. Gretchen learns many things about herself and life while remodeling this house. As Gretchen and her dad start to clean up this unbelievably horrible, smelly house, and start to make changes for the good, they uncover many surprises and challenges.

Don't judge a book by its cover – especially this one. I would have never suspected that this book was about "house-flipping" from the outside. But trust me when I say that you will totally enjoy the inside of this book. And, you may learn a thing or two about relationships, but there is definitely something to learn about "house-flipping". I love Melody Carlson's writing, the topic of this story and this book in general.

Reviewed: Nora St. Laurent

Bonus Review:

I loved A Mile in My Flip-Flops. Gretchen is a bumbling house flipper whose efforts are hilarious, but somehow in the end, she manages to pull it off, and renovates not only her house but her life. Delicious characters and an unforgettable story make a great read. If you enjoy watching HGTV, you'll love A Mile in My Flip-Flops. I give it a high recommendation.


Reviewed by Ane Mulligan

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mary Connealy's Calico Canyon~Reviewed


Calico Canyon
Mary Connealy
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc (July 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1597899380

Product Description

Let yourself be swept away by this fast-paced romance, featuring Grace Calhoun, an instructor of reading, writing, and arithmetic, who, in an attempt to escape the clutchs of a relentless pursuer, runs smack dab into even more trouble with the 6R's - widower Daniel Reeves, along with his five rowdy sons. When a marriage is forced upon this hapless pair - two people who couldn't dislike each other more - an avalanche isn't the only potential danger lurking amid the shadows of Calico Canyon. Will they make it out alive? Or end up killing each other in the process?


My Review:

Western/prairie/frontier romance is probably the last genre I'd pick to read. Forgive me if you are a fan. I'm not knocking the category, just sharing that it's not a favorite.

I had an earlier opportunity to read Calico Canyon and I passed. Honestly, I have piles of books to read and if I think I might not like something I'm pretty sure I'm not going to be able to review it with any sort of glow. I don't like investing hours into a story and not being able to write a review with some praise. Then the darn thing showed up in my mailbox. While waiting on a kid and with some time to kill, I opened the cover. If someone can catch me with the first sentence or paragraph, I'm along for the ride.

That said, I so enjoyed Calico Canyon. Mary Connealy is amusing and her characters are charming. She had me in the first scene and I read the story with a smile and even tense concern over the well-being of the characters. Connealy does the genre proud. Though she hasn't converted me completely, I will snatch up her next novel.

This is a great "kick off your shoes" and "set a spell" novel. I recommend it to those who love frontier/western romance, prairie romance and, well, anyone else who might like to read an entertaining,well-written novel.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Robert Elmers' Trion Rising ~ Reviewed


Trion Rising
Robert Elmer
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (May 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310714214

Back Cover

What would it be like if Jesus had come to another planet?

Oriannon is living the good life on the bright side of Corista, a small planet circling three suns. But things get crazy for the teen when a new music teacher arrives at her school with strange songs and even stranger ideas. Soon Oriannon is pressured to spy on her teacher, Jesmet, by using her powers to record everything she sees and hears.
Could Jesmet really be a faithbreaker, like Oriannon's friend Margus says? She's not so sure, but her life is turned upside-down when she loses her way on the dark side of the planet and is taken in by an odd, cliff-dwelling people. And when her new friends face a deadly threat, can the once self-centered Oriannon follow her heart. . . and save half the planet?


Review:

Trion Rising tells the story of Oriannon Hightower of Nyssa. She is the daughter of one of the respected elders of Corista. She also seems to be a magnet for trouble. Only trouble of her own doing. Along comes the substitute music teacher who teaches his students, including Oriannon, to play from the soul. But the teacher’s unorthodox teachings grab bad attention from the elders who believe his teaching goes against the code they live by. It goes against the Codex, a sacred book with instructions from the Maker. Oriannon feels that the Elders have been unfair to their teacher, Jesmet. But it takes a trip to the Shadowlands, and friendships in that land to show Oriannon that perhaps the people of Corista, though they follow the Codex, are only going through the motions. She figures out that just like she plays her instrument from the soul, her devotion to following the Maker’s instructions, lain down in the Codex, should be the same. And that is what Jesmet has been teaching the whole time.

This book is one of the best sci-fi books I’ve read. And I’ll say I’ve read quite a few. Robert Elmer’s creativity brings a completely different world into view, but you can still identify with the characters and situations. Of course, they’ve also got some pretty sweet gadgets to help them out!

Besides all that, Elmer has brought into the story the message of salvation. But it’s not only a message to non believers. Elmer shows Christ’s unfailing love. It’s not something that is just said but the actual emotion is shown in this book. Yes, we know Christ’s love for us, or we wouldn’t be able to say with assurance that one day we’ll be in Heaven rejoicing in him. But sometimes God may seem impersonal, cold and distant to SOME people, instead of who He wants to be: a father and friend to you. Though Trion Rising is a fictionalized telling of Christ’s sacrifice, I believed every bit of emotion to be true. And there is NO WAY anybody can read this book and not be touched. Believer and non-believer alike. It’s a fun book to read with a great message. I give it a five out of five, or ten out of ten.

Review by: Meagan Lopes (Teen Reviewer)



Monday, June 23, 2008

Don Locke's The Reluctant Journey of David Connors ~ Reviewed


The Reluctant Journey of David Connors
By Don Locke
Published by Navpress
ISBN#978-1-60006-152-4
Pages 269

Back Cover:

On a cold winter night, David Connor contemplates a leap off a skyscraper hoping to end the pain of his crippling alienation from his family and his anger and resentment toward God. But his attention is strangely drawn to a nearby bundle half buried on the snowy ledge. David uncovers an old carpetbag that he soon learns possesses the unique ability to conjure up peculiar gifts for people he encounters – items that are exactly what they need.


One such stranger is the sweet but feisty Maggie, who gets swept up in the mystery as the miraculous carpetbag leads them both on an imaginative journey, challenging David’s heart as it illuminates their steps. David’s destination slowly unfolds like a distant bittersweet memory in this tender and often humorous tale of grace and redemption.

REVIEW:

Things were just fine with David until Kathy, the love of his life, became born again. He went to church a few times with her, but he didn't like how he felt there and didn't go back. The marriage counselor told him he needed to get in touch with his feelings - he drank out of fear and to make himself numb. What did the counselor know anyway! That's what he thought then, but here he was out on this ledge despising God for this screwed up life. He was feeling too much now – he wanted it to stop. How could Kathy tell him that this temporary separation wasn't working – couldn't she see how miserable he was and all that he had done for her? It couldn't be over!!


After David found a carpetbag while out on the ledge, mysterious things started to happen. He suspected that the carpetbag was providing gifts people really needed. David decides to test this theory on Maggie, a relative stranger. As they both sit in a bar, David drank coffee to sober up - this bag had him spooked. Maggie and David get caught up in a series of unimaginable events and unforseeable journey.

David realizes that his waking hours are becoming more bazaar than his dreams. He expects Rod Serling to jump out any minute to tell him he has just entered the 5th dimension of his imagination called the "Twilight Zone". David knew that he and Maggie were definitely in a new dimension of life, one that had them questioning their sight, sound and their mind. Maggie turns to David and says "You better start believing in something pretty quick here - your running out of options." That's so true. Think, think, think...he didn't want to think! But, Maggie kept telling him he had to decide so that they could go back to life as normal. Only one problem...David wasn't sure normal existed anymore.

This is one gripping story. I just loved it. I was swept up in this great adventure and at the same time it made me think about the deeper meaning of life. It's definitely something both Maggie and David needed to find for themselves; it will make the reader think about their own life too. The author Don Locke is a freelance writer and illustrator by trade. I could see him taking his time setting the scene up for the reader . This story starts in a similar way the Twilight Zone shows were set up. Just when you are hooked into the story and you think you know where it's going, it stops and you enter the 'weird zone', as David calls it. The author is a master at doing this. There are many thrills and unexpected events along the way. I was amazed that this was Don Locke's first book. I'm extremely excited to see what he writes next, and you will too, after reading this unique, surprising adventure story.


Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent

Friday, June 20, 2008

Jessica James' Shades of Gray ~ Reviewed


Shades of Gray
by Jessica James
Publisher:
Patriot Press;
1 edition (April 12, 2008)

Reviewed by Jessica Dotta


Debut novelist Jessica James writes an epic story of the Civil War that follows the story Andrea Evans, a troubled young woman in league with the North, and of Alexander Hunter, a celebrated Confederate captain as they both struggle to understand the war at large and their lives within.

Though she herself is a well-bred Southern belle, Andrea Evans is no stranger to the cruelty inflicted upon humanity by the South. Deeply wounded by what she experienced growing up on a plantation, she disguises herself as a boy and joins the Union’s army. Her knowledge of the land combined with her willingness to risk her life has made her one of the most useful scouts for the North and a prime target of the Confederate army.


Alexander Hunter is the ideal Southern gentleman. Both handsome and rich, his life has been lived following the code of chivalry manners valued by his peers. His honor demands he fight for his convictions—and most willingly he fights. Under his command, not a man shall die whose death will not be revenged, nor will a charge be made on the enemy that Hunter fears to lead himself. There’s one thorn in his side—the Union’s reckless scout who has not only foiled Hunter’s missions but who has cost him the lives of his men.


Ideals and prejudices are shaken when the scout is caught and Hunter discovers that his mortal enemy is none other than a lady. Andrea, bitter against the South and men in general, now finds herself at the mercy of that which she hates most.


The book was sent to me with the request that I review it from the Christian perspective, and aside from the fact that readers will find Christ’s name taken in vain, I have no reservations recommending it. Little is touched on the spiritual but values such as honor and bravery are woven cleverly throughout. While the writing is good, portions of the books could have been cut as many of the scenes were rehashed arguments between the characters. The characters were well-developed, though at times it felt as if the author spelled out what readers should think about them rather than allowing readers to form their own opinion. The book is geared more towards the romance reader than to the historian but I think both will enjoy the reading. As a whole, an overall good read and I will anticipate more from this author.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Marlo Schalesky's Beyond the Night~Reviewed



BEYOND THE NIGHT
By Marlo Schalesky
Published by Multnomah Books
296 pages



Back Cover:


They say love is blind.

This time, they’re right.

As a woman lies unconscious in a hospital bed, her doting husband waits patiently beside her, urging her to wake up and come home.


“Maddie, remember with me. Remember the day I fell in love.”

An innocent, playful kiss between friends ignites an extraordinary romance despite an ocean of fear that threatens to destroy it.

“Fight the darkness. Don’t be afraid. There’s always hope…”


Together, they build a life filled with laughter and trust, music, starlit walks, and a precious daughter.

And then came the night that changed everything.


In the absence of light, hope and love still prevail. Two hearts joined as one discover that love – real love – can survive even the enormity of profound darkness. And a beautiful, wondrous mystery awaits…beyond the night.


Review:


This book reminded me of the movie “Notebook” based on a book by Nicholas Sparks. This too is a story where Paul helps his wife remember their amazing love story!


Maddie, Paul’s wife lies in a hospital bed fighting for her life. Paul decided to remind her of how they met, the adventures in college, and how their friendship blossomed into love.


Each time Paul tells her part their story he stops and asks, “Remember Maddie?”


He hopes helping her remember will keep her alive. Remembering will give her something to live for.


There are many powerful revelations in this book but one really stays with me “Hope. It was a strong thing. Invisible. And real. Soft as a flowing stream, strong as a ragging torrent.”


I love how the author gives a word picture of hope. Marlo has her characters come to this revelation of hope in the story as well. Powerful.


Get your tissues ready before you start reading this heartfelt story of friendship, hope, deep love, and the discovery that God doesn’t leave us in darkness but longs to love us in it!


Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Mike Dellosso's The Hunted ~ Reviewed


The Hunted
Mike Delloss
o
Paperback: 309 pages
Publisher: Realms (June 3, 2008)
Language:
English
ISBN-10:
1599792966

Book Description

After learning of the disappearance of his nephew, Joe Saunders returns to his childhood home of Dark Hills to aid in the search effort. When Caleb is found, badly mauled and clinging to life, Joe embarks on a mission to find the beast responsible. But the more Joe delves into the fabric of his old hometown, the more he realizes Dark Hills has a dark secret, shrouded for three generations in a deadly code of silence. As Joe unravels the truth behind a series of unexplained animal attacks, murder, and corruption at the highest level of law enforcement, he is led to a final showdown where he must entrust his very life into God's hands.

My Review:

Advice to supernatural thriller fans -- pick up The Hunted, sink your teeth into it, and prepare for a wild ride. Debut author Mike Dellosso's prose is solid and descriptive. His characters are well-drawn, distinctive and believable. Twisted and fast-moving, the story delivers plenty of creeps and thrills. Dellosso delivers a solid plot line that intensified in the heart of the book and carried through to the end, no soggy middle here. Issues of faith were handled honestly and with sensitivity.

I whipped through The Hunted often reading "just one more chapter" and am giving it 4 enthusiastic stars. I found The Hunted to be a very well-written, intense first novel and I'm looking forward to reading more from Mike Dellosso.

Chickens, consider yourselves warned. You may find some scenes to cluck about...

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Monday, June 16, 2008

Deeanne Gist's Deep in the Heart of Trouble ~ Reviewed


Deep in the Heart of Trouble
By Deeanne Gist

Published by Bethany House
ISBN# 978-0-7642-0226-1
396 pages

Back Cover:

A Texas – sized tale of unexpected Love. Essie Spreckelmeyer is the last woman anyone in Corsican, Texas, expected to see with a man on her arm. Independent and outspoken, She’s known more for riding bicycles in outrageous bloomers than for catching a man’s eye.


And the last man who seems willing to give her a second glance is Tony Morgan, newly hired at Spreckelmeyer’s oil company. The disinherited son of an oil baron. Tony wants most to restore his name and regain his lost fortune – not lose his heart to this headstrong blonde. She confounds, contradicts, and confuses him. Sometimes he doesn’t know if she’s driving him toward the aisle or the end of his rope.


That’s how life is deep in the heart of trouble.


Review:

In Deeanne's book "Courting Trouble" I was first introduced to Essie Spreckelmeyer. (I loved this book!) Essie just turned 30 and was a woman after my own heart right from the start. She was tired of being an old maid. She had waited on God long enough to find her a husband, so now it was time she took this important matter into her own hands. Essie's quest for a man, marriage and children, consumed her. This decision caused her tremendous pain in the end.

Essie's father helped her see that she wasn't stuck living in her past; she could be forgiven and move on with her life. When we allow ourselves to be forgiven, there is wholeness in Jesus. She discovered He is not out to mold us into something we were never meant to be; He wants us to truly be fulfilled by Him. Essie enjoyed riding bicycles and she wanted to teach others how to enjoy riding also. Her father agreed to financially help her with this adventure. This would allow Essie to share her gift, instead of trying to conform to something she was never meant to do in the first place.


“Deep in the Heart of Trouble” picks up with Essie living out her dream to run a bicycle shop and bicycle club, where she could teach people about riding, participating in bicycle races, banquets and a debating society. She was doing it all, even re-creating skirts so women would look fashionable and wear something practical while riding. After her mother's death, Essie steps up to help her father run his business as they grieve together. It wasn't until Tony Morgan came along that things started to change with her father and their business. What was her father thinking when he hired this guy? Tony had no field experience. Her dad would see, Tony will never make it. She submitted to her father's decision, against her better judgment, and hired Tony.


Tony Morgan was so shocked that his father had disinherited him but he wouldn't let that get him down. He was a man that was driven to succeed. He would learn the oil business from the ground up if that's what it took. He was defiantly going to stay clear of his boss Essie, or any other woman for that matter. He wanted to make enough money to start his own business and take care of his family. He wants Essie's business to grow and be successful. He suggests they should update their equipment. Essie thinks this is crazy coming from a field worker – she'd talk to her father about all this and finds out Tony already has. She was in charge. Didn't Tony know how things worked around here?

At first, Essie's independence and outspokenness really rubbed Tony the wrong way. It took no time at all to see why men didn't want anything to do with her. Then he found himself in one of her biking classes teaching the women of the town. Wow, what a change!! He never would have believed it had he not seen it with his own eyes. Something started to stir in him. Essie starts to feel something too. But this guy was all wrong. How could she court an employee? This just wouldn't work. Being single suited her just fine.


Tony volunteers to help Essie with a project that has them working close together. Essie begins to think that maybe being married wouldn't be so bad, but there was so much to consider. Tony thinks that maybe he wants more of a relationship with Essie than being just her employee. Things get complicated. I loved how Deeanne has Tony and Essie go through their own inner struggles when they both considered the idea of possibly courting each other. They were both content on being single and to accomplish their own goals, which did not include marriage. It's great how she shows their hearts turning to God's agenda, which is the most important thing, no matter what, to both of them. There were so many amusing characters in this story that brought "Small Town" social things to life and had me laughing, as things get a little out of hand. There was Mrs. Lockhart with all her romance novels that were going to give her help in time of trouble (and anyone else who would listen), the sheriff and his assistant that help keep the town in order, and Tony Morgan and his family situation. I really enjoyed these characters so much I didn't want the story to end. You won't either when you read this sequel to "Courting Trouble."

Reviewed by: Nora St. Laurent


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Rick Aker's Blood Brothers ~ Reviewed

BLOOD BROTHERS
By Rick Acker
Published by Kregel Publications
359 pages


Back Cover:

In this intense sequel to Dead Man’s Rule, lawyer Ben Corbin finds himself caught between feuding brothers Karl and Gunnar Bjornsen. Having built a pharmaceutical empire from the ground up, the Bjornsen brothers are now developing a revolutionary new drug, a neutral stimulant that increases strength and intelligence. But its potential for success is rapidly destroying them. Warring for control of the company and the drug, Karl sues Gunnar, and Gunnar hires lawyer Ben Corbin to defend him. But the case involves more than bitter sibling rivalry. Signs of embezzlement, black market deals, and the grisly consequences of the Bjornsens’ new drug begin to emerge. Soon, Ben and his wife, Noelle, find themselves in Norway where the case takes a personal and violent turn.

Review:

Reading this fast legal suspense story, “Blood Brothers” was like being buckled into an intense thrill ride. You know the kind. The extremely amazing roller coaster ride with all its surprises, twists, turns, ups and downs. I just couldn’t put this book down. I kept reminding myself “This is just Fiction” (breathe)! What was so unnerving to me was the story line about the pharmaceutical companies and how they rule the world! (or would like to). It was fascinating and scary all at the same time when Rick Acker describes the internal workings of a large pharmaceutical company and how they interact with the FDA. All the court room drama in the story was just as powerful. It reminded me of the TV show Law and Order “Criminal Intent” on steroids, very vivid and deep.

Two brothers start a pharmaceutical company so both could use their talents and work together to build something they could be proud of. The company becomes more successful than either of them could imagine. The struggle for power and control of the money begins when they both think they have discovered the wonder drug of the century. The results of the animal testing is almost done, what do they have to show and tell the FDA to start human testing? The Bjornsen brothers start to see the billions that could be made if this drug was FDA approved.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Blood Brothers “Love does call, you know. He calls us to do what we cannot do alone. He asks us to give without counting the cost, to walk through the furnace, to love the unlovable. He asks everything of us, and He has the right to expect it…Because He gave everything for us!” Rick Acker unveils an example of this thru the story that will knock your socks off. This is one riveting story you won’t soon forget.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent

Bonus Review:

Blood Brothers is like a John Grisham novel brought to the Christian fiction world. It is a suspenseful novel that spans the world from America to Norway. Corporate fraud, family feuds, and murder will keep you entertained as you turn each page.

Private investigators, lawyers, and FBI agents, this story has them all. Rick Acker has succeeded in presenting a colorful cast of characters that draw you in from the start. A romance gone wrong, a drug gone bad, and a murderer on the loose keep you guessing the whole way through. Blood Brothers is well worth the time.

Reviewed by: Shellie Powell


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Robert Liparulo's Watcher in the Woods ~ Reviewed

Watcher in the Woods
Robert Liparulo
Reading level:
Young Adult
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher:
Thomas Nelson (May 6, 2008)
Language:
English
ISBN-10:
1595544968

Product Description


It's not just the house that's keeping secrets.


Pretending everything's all right is harder than it sounds. But the Kings know that even if they told the truth about the bizarre things happening in their house, no one would believe them. They're hyper-focused on rescuing their lost family member before anyone finds out what's going on.

But when a stranger shows up to take their house, their options start dwindling fast. Why would he be so interested in a run-down old place? And what secret is he hiding--just as he hides the scars that crisscross his body?

The mystery gets stranger with each passing day. Will the Kings be able to find a way to harness the house's secrets and discover who is watching their every move before another gets snatched into an unknown world?


My Review:


Watcher in the Woods is the continuing story of the King family.

David King, 12-years-old is facing huge traumas while attempting to keep the outside world from destroying his chance of happiness.

Grasping hold of the King family legacy of bravery, David dives into the unknown to save his family at great cost to himself.

From the first word to the final "not the end" I cheered and cringed for the Kings.

I hope the next book releases very soon. This is book two in the series I'm going to recommend regardless of age or gender. I'd also love to see it turned into a movie.

Easily frightened readers might struggle with the intensity, otherwise, this is a powerful story well told.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Robert Liparulo's House of Dark Shadows ~ Reviewed

House of Dark Shadows
Robert Liparulo
Reading level:
Young Adult
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (May 6, 2008)
Language: English




Product Description
Dream house . . . or bad dream?

When the Kings move from L.A. to a secluded small town, fifteen-year-old Xander is beyond disappointed. He and his friends loved to create amateur films . . . but the tiny town of Pinedale is the last place a movie buff and future filmmaker wants to land.

But he, David, and Toria are captivated by the many rooms in the old Victorian fixer-upper they moved into--as well as the heavy woods surrounding the house.

They soon discover there's something odd about the house. Sounds come from the wrong directions. Prints of giant, bare feet appear in the dust. And when David tries to hide in the linen closet, he winds up in locker 119 at his new school.

Then the really weird stuff kicks in: they find a hidden hallway with portals leading off to far-off places--in long-ago times. Xander is starting to wonder if this kind of travel is a teen's dream come true . . . or his worst nightmare.

My Review:

If you are thinking about buying House of Dark Shadows, you may want to go ahead and grab Watcher in the Woods because once you reach... "Not the end" you are going to want book two within reach. These books are quick reads, too. Don't say you haven't been warned if you have to wait for the next book, and don't expect a resolution of the King family problems in book two either. I may have to have a word with Bob or the publisher about possibly speeding up this series.

Robert Liparulo respects the YA genre by refusing to dumb down his storytelling mastery. House of Dark Shadows delivers rich characters, intense action and crisp setting along with a strong vocabulary. Adults are going to love these books as much as the teens they're written for.

Centered around a family that has "no secrets," the story starts with foreboding and provides bang after wham after sucker-punch as the reader discovers one secret after another along with the characters. More questions are left than are answered.

Shadows introduces the King family, all named after royalty, as they are moving from city to country...make that backwoods. Not only does Xander, the 15-year-old point-of-view character have to deal with leaving friends and a girlfriend, his dad is now his principal in the smallest school he's ever attended.

Xander's folks then find a house they fall in love with. Lots of room, and full of character, creepy noises, shadows and odd acoustics. What's not to love?

Xander discovers how very strange the house is as the entire family is plunged into the truth of the secrets.

The intensity of the themes may be too much for younger or easily frightened readers.


Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Bonus Review:

In the Fantastic first book in the Dreamhouse Kings books, House of Dark Shadows, by Robert Liparulo, it starts you off by grabbing you in suspense and never loosens its grip. It was just awesome, how the book was written, how the author allows the readers to connect with the characters, and flat out how it occupied my day, I couldn’t stop reading it. I told my friend about this book and he couldn’t wait to get his hands on it.

In some of my past reviews I would say “I highly recommend this book”, but for this book, I can’t say that, I have to say that this book deserves to be read, so read it.


by Reid A. age 12

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Nicole Baart's Summer Snow ~ Reviewed



Summer Snow
Nicole Baart
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers (April 2, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414316232


Product Description:

Julia DeSmit is finally learning to accept her new life. Optimistic and anxious to begin again after dropping out of college, she is taking fumbling steps down a challenging yet hope-filled road. But the careful existence Julia has begun to build falls hopelessly to pieces when her estranged mother, Janice, appears on the front porch one icy March night. Mother and daughter have not seen or talked in ten years, and a decade of anger, resentment, and bitterness follows in Janice's wake, along with a surprise Julia could never have anticipated. Julia is convinced that which is broken cannot be mended. Yet when she faces the very decision her mother did years before, she begins to realize what it means to truly accept grace. Will it be her undoing, or the impetus for a change she'd never dared hope for?

My Review:


Summer Snow is a story about loss and hungers, sorrows and loss of hope. Broken characters bounce off of each other in vain attempts to have the depth of their need quenched. Nicole Baart takes us into the midst of a family facing hard things and she weaves such a tapestry of poignancy and ache that at times I had to stop to breathe.

Jesus is barely mentioned but He's there working in the lives and hearts of the characters. As I started into the story I wondered for just a few pages if Julia's voice wasn't a little old for a 19-year-old. And then I realized that Julia's soul had borne sorrow for so long that it fit well. Her journey is eased by her delightful grandmother, Nellie, and a tiny handful of friends.

I didn't get to read Baart's first novel, but I read a review and knew that I had to put it on my to-read list, now it's moved up to the top. It's just a matter of time before Baart brings home a Christy award. She masters words and she masters story.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Friday, June 06, 2008

Christopher Meek's Months and Seasons ~ Reviewed

months and seasons
Christopher Meeks
Paperback: 172 pages
Publisher: White Whisker Books (April 7, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0615188702



Product Description


"Months and Seasons" is the follow-up story collection to Christopher Meeks's award-winning "The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea." With a combination of main characters from young to old and with drama and humor, the tales pursue such people as a supermodel who awakens after open-heart surgery, a famous playwright who faces a firestorm consuming the landscape, a reluctant man who attends a Halloween party as Dracula, and a New Yorker who thinks she's a chicken. "Christopher Meeks's quirky stories are lyrical and wonderfully human. Enjoy," says Sandra Tsing Loh, author of "A Year in Van Nuys.")


My Review:

Months and Seasons is an entertaining and thought provoking collection of short stories running the gamut of human emotion. From the man who reevaluates life as he plunges to likely death, to the exhilaration of finding out the dreaded medical news was not so dreaded after all, Meeks covers minutia and tragedy through characters as real as your next door neighbor.

Fans of short stories are sure to find much to like. I wouldn't recommend it for pure inspirational and Chicken Soup readers -- but those who like grit in all it's reality from sexual, to crass, to honest should check further into Months and Seasons.


Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Allie Pleiter's The Perfect Blend ~ Reviewed


The Perfect Blend
By: Allie Pleiter
Published by Steeple Hill
ISBN-13:978-0-373-87441-5


Back Cover:

If I Brew It…They Will Come

Opening a Christian coffeehouse in Seattle—that was my dream. I wanted to call it Maggie Black’s Higher Grounds.

So when banker William Grey III denied my loan, I was crushed. But then Mr. Grey (who’s a tea drinker—figures!) explained that if I took his small-business course, the bank might reconsider my application. It would take the help of some of my fab coffee, but I was sure I could stay awake long enough to learn something. Besides, despite Grey’s stuffy fa├žade, his velvety British accent could make even financial analysis sound interesting.

Review:

“This is not a case of if you brew it, they will come.”

Maggie Black doesn’t agree with William Grey’s assessment, even if she does find it funny. God has given her a plan, a five-year, no fail marketing plan, complete with all the details, right down to the napkins.

From the start, the concept of a heroine whose dream is to open a Christian coffeehouse in the heart of Seattle struck me as improbable and slightly hysterical. Yet with every page, I was drawn into the idea that even our most unlikely dreams become reality when placed in the hands of a loving and powerful God. That doesn’t mean there won’t be disappointments along the way, as Maggie and William quickly discover.

“I simply cannot believe,” he says as he bounds out of his car to hug me, “that God would bring you all this way, pull us together, place you in this class, do all this, only to have it go all wrong.”

This was a believable conflict that spoke to my very heart. Who hasn’t questioned God when circumstances send our dreams skittering out of reach? Yet it was the struggle of these characters to hang onto their faith while resisting the desire to fall in love that made them so much fun.

I admit it—I had to put this book down…long enough to grab a tissue to wipe the tears away because I was laughing so hard. Mixing spiritual truths with good humor, Allie Pleiter has brewed a book that kept this reader turning pages.

Review by Elizabeth Ludwig

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Kimberly Stuart's Act Two ~ Reviewed



Act Two
Kimberly Stuart
Paperback: 241 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (May 2008)
Language:
English ISBN-10: 1434700119



Product Description

New Yorker Sadie Maddox is the toast of the classical music world and the queen of all she surveys in short, she's a bit of a diva. But lately her CD sales are sagging, not to mention parts of her anatomy. Maybe it's time for a change. Something new. A second act. So when her agent suggests she take on a professorship at a small liberal arts college, Sadie decides to give it a go. Ivy-covered walls, worshipful students . . . oh yes, the ivory tower has its appeal. And she needs the money.

Except the college is in rural Iowa, and the closest thing to designer clothes is the western wear shop down on Main Street. Sadie's colleagues are intimidated, her students aren't impressed, and she has to live far too close to farm animals.

And when Sadie meets Mac, a large animal veterinarian, she assumes they have nothing in common he is, after all, a country music fan.

But when the semester ends, Sadie packs up and decamps for the city that never sleeps . . . and

finds she can't, either. This laugh-out-loud novel about second chances will have readers cheering as Sadie struggles to find her life's second act.

My Review:


Sweetly sarcastic and fun, Act Two, delivers a snappy story about a fading opera star who's forced to spend time in a culture so foreign to New York City that the world as she knew it grinds to a halt. Kimberly Stuart handles prose with a delightful touch and the charm of small town Iowa was fabulously depicted. One glaring oversight jumped out at me, but didn't do more than cause a few moments of puzzlement. Act Two leaned more toward Chick-lit than romance though there were some great romantic moments. Act Two is a perfect escapist read and it would be a charming romantic comedy if Sandra Bullock is available. Does she sing? Hugh Grant as Mac, though I don't know if Hugh could pull off a two-step dance champion, country music loving, pig-pulling Iowan veterinarian. I'm going to snap up Kimberly Stuart books when I see them. Charming.


Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Monday, June 02, 2008

Nancy Moser's Washington's Lady ~ Reviewed





WASHINGTON’S LADY
By Nancy Moser
Published by: Bethany House
289 pages




Back Cover:

A Unique Look at Our Country’s Original First Lady.
Known for her moving first-person portrayals of Mozart and Jane Austen, award-winning author Nancy Moser now brings to life the loves, tragedies, and accomplishments of Washington’s Lady, the mother of the United States. It has been said that without George Washington, there would be no United States. But without Martha, there would be no George Washington. He called her “my other self”. Who was this woman who captured the heart of our country’s founder?

Martha Dandridge Custis was a wealthy, attractive widow and the mother of two small children when she was courted by the French and Indian War hero. Her new life as Martha Washington took her through blissful times at Mount Vernon, family tragedies, six years of her husband’s absence during the Revolutionary War, and her position as a reluctant First Lady.

Just in time for our country’s Independence Day celebrations, Washington’s Lady remembers and honors the life, the romance, and the sacrifice of our country’s founding president and his extraordinary wife.

Review: Martha Washington’s story surprised me. I knew nothing of this women and her great love for George Washington. I gained a new appreciation for America and how it was formed, what individuals formed it and their amazing fight for the freedom I enjoy. This was an exciting, powerful, heartfelt story told in first person; of one women’s life filled with tragedy and triumph that would affect so many around her. Without the deep convictions George Washington had and Martha decision to allow her husband to be all he could be for himself and this country; none of us would be enjoying, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness we have today. Nancy Moser brings history to life in a refreshing new way.

Through the eyes of Martha Washington I learned how determined, courageous and vital she was in getting the women together to fight just has hard as their men. History blanks were filled in for me as Martha Washington lead the women of her time to do their part in building the “United” States of America. I loved that Nancy Moser helped me learn even more about history by having the fact and fiction section in the back of the book, (before the discussion questions) it is there she reveals exactly what the “facts” were and what she made up to help the story flow.

Nancy has brilliantly brought fact and fiction together in Washington’s Lady to create a story you will never forget. Every time someone mentions George Washington you will automatically recall a woman’s deep love for her husband and this country. The sacrificial story of Martha and George Washington and how they rose above their circumstances to answer the call this country put on their lives. You’ll remember that with God’s help all things were made possible for them and for us.


Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent

Sunday, June 01, 2008

June 2008 ACFW Book Releases

Thanks, Jill Eileen Smith.

1. Allison's Journey
, Book 4 in the Brides of Webster County series by Wanda E. Brunstetter from Barbour Publishing. Allison Troyer feels as faceless as her tattered doll, but a trip to visit her aunt in Missouri could change Allison's life forever.

2. Final Justice
, Book Six in the Reunion Revelations Continuity series by Marta Perry from Love Inspired Suspense. To protect an innocent child, teacher Jennifer Pappas must risk everything--her job, her love, and even her life.

3. Florida Weddings
by Lynn Coleman, Kristy Dykes, Kathleen E. Kovach from Barbour Publishing, Inc. The past casts a shadow upon the lives of three Florida women.

4. Jewel Of The Adriatic
by K.M. Daughters (Pat Casiello and Kathie Clare) from The Wild Rose Press. A village where millions believe the Mother of God appears becomes a haven where two souls find faith and love.

5. Killer Cargo
by Dana Mentink from Love Inspired Suspense. Maria de Silva and Cy Sheridan face danger and death when they stumble upon a lethal package.

6. New Beginnings
, Book 4 in the Rachel Yoder Always Trouble Somewhere series by Wanda E. Brunstetter from Barbour Publishing. Spring has sprung and ten year old Rachel Yoder is filled with the hope of good things to come, but things go sour when she learns that her best friend is moving.

7. Out of Control
, Book 3 in the Rachel Yoder Always Trouble Somewhere series by Wanda E. Brunstetter from Barbour Publishing. Despite Rachel Yoder's need to take control of her troubling situations, she needs to learn that there are some things she just can't control.

8. Picture This
by Nancy J. Farrier from Barbour Heartsong Presents. When Jason and Maddy are sent on a photography assignment in the Arizona desert, Jason's Christian ideals collide iwth Maddy's questionable past to threaten any future they might have together.

9. Prodigal in the City
by Louis N Jones from Conquest Publishers. He abandoned his Christian faith. Now, his life and his God-given destiny hang in the balance.

10. Suspicious Minds
Squeaky Clean Mysteries #2 by Christy Barritt from Kregel. A dead Elvis impersonator and a rival turned wooer are just a couple of crime-scene cleaner Gabby St. Claire's problems in this thrilling sequel to Hazardous Duty.

11. The Hunted
by Mike Dellosso from Realms (Strang Book Group). A town's deadly secret will drive one man to the edge of his faith.

12. Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon
by Debbie Fuller Thomas from Moody Publishers. A grieving mom discovers the child she lost was switched at birth, but can she risk loving an angry stranger?

13. Washington's Lady
, Book 2 Nebraska Brides by Nancy Moser from Bethany House. It is said that without George Washington there would be no United States, but without Martha, there would be no George...

Happy reading ~