Monday, September 29, 2008

R.E. Bartlett's The Personifid Invasion ~ Reviewed

The Personifid Invasion
By R. E. Bartlett
Marcher Lord Press
ISBN: 978-0-9821049-0-3

Review by Michelle Griep

You can live forever in your new artificial body...but are you all alone in it?

In the future, you can transfer your consciousness into an artificial body—known as a personifid—and cheat death indefinitely. But human beings aren’t the only ones who want those bodies. Interterrestrials have found that personifids will house them very well, too.

Ashley is trapped in San Edhem, a city where Interterrestrials and humans struggle for control of the personifids. Can her siblings, Aphra and Antha, rescue her before she is lost to them forever?

The Personifid Invasion is one of three debut books put out by Marcher Lord Press. The goal of this press is to produce quality speculative fiction from a Christian worldview. After having read one of their books, I’d say they not only meet but exceed that ambition. The Personifid Invasion held my attention from first to last page, imparting Biblical truths in a futuristic story format that didn’t whap me over the head or bore me with theological monotone.

Interesting how an imaginary world of the future can bring conviction to a reader in the here and now. One scene in particular made me reflect on some of my own biases. When Antha is looking for his sister, he is confronted by a group of angry people waving banners and proclaiming the evils of personifids. They’re so focused on hating the wrong they see in others, they don’t realize their violence is just as bad.

My favorite character is Antha. His protective loyalty toward his sisters attracted me most, but I also enjoyed his sardonic humor. Roguish and unpredictable, he hides a big heart beneath a layer of sarcasm. He’s a charmer.

One of the highlights of Bartlett’s writing is her mastery of dialogue. Swift banter between the characters flows throughout the story. I also like how she incorporates reality into the plot by not tying up everyone’s problems into a tidy, ribboned package at the end. Without giving away the story, let’s just say each character still has a few things to work through.

Fans of spec fiction, this is your chance to glory in the offerings Marcher Lord Press brings to the market. The Personifid Invasion is a great novel not only for your bookshelf, but a fabulous way to support this new publisher.

If you’re not sure what speculative fiction is all about, then this is your opportunity to give it a whirl. Personally, I look forward to reading more from R.E. Bartlett and Marcher Lord Press.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

M.L. Tyndall's The Falcon and The Sparrow ~ Reviewed

The Falcon and the Sparrow
By M. L. Tyndall
Barbour Publishing, Inc.
ISBN: 978-1-60260-012-6

Review by Michelle Griep

London of 1803 is as wild as Rome before the fall of the Empire as the rich seek to feed their insatiable hunger for pleasure while ignoring Napoleon’s resurgence.

Into a dark London townhouse walks a timid woman set upon saving her brother’s life, even if it requires her to commit treason upon the country of her birth.

Admiral Chase Randal is intrigued by the new governess in his home and cannot deny that his grieving heart is beginning to awaken as he watches Dominique Dawson with his son.

Dominique loves the admiral’s son, but how can she understand an attraction for the admiral when he claims to deny the existence of God? For only through God does she find her courage to spy for France.

Once again, author MaryLu Tyndall combines history, romance and action into a must-read adventure. Fast-paced and intriguing, The Falcon and the Sparrow is hard to set down once you’ve picked it up.

Admiral Chase Randal is a little rough around the edges for a hero, but that’s what endeared me to him from the start…besides his obvious handsome physique. Tyndall brings this character to life by giving him realistic flaws that he must learn to overcome.

I never did figure out why Dominique eats so much, but I loved her nonetheless. Even when afraid and unsure, she brings her problems to God. Her faith impacts other characters’ lives even when she feels she’s done nothing to influence them in a Godly manner.

While I enjoyed the main characters, I was particularly attracted to the mysterious Dark Man who makes an appearance half-way through the story. Tyndall leaves the reader to wonder if he is an angel, which is Dominique’s opinion. At any rate, his character is a great reminder that God tangibly cares for us at all times, often in unexpected ways.

The Falcon and the Sparrow is Tyndall’s fourth novel and well worth a quick trip to the bookstore to snatch up your own copy. Plan on blocking some time off from your calendar—once you start reading, you’re not going to get to anything else you’ve planned to do that day.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Cindy Woodsmall's When the Soul Mends ~ Reviewed

When the Soul Mends
By Cindy Woodsmall
Published by WaterBrook Press
ISBN-10: 1-4000-7294-8

Back Cover:

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance offers the first chapter here.

After receiving a desperate and confusing call from her sister, Hannah Lapp reluctantly returns to the Old Order Amish community of her Pennsylvania childhood.

Having fled in disgrace two years earlier, she finally has found a satisfying role in the Englischer world, as well as love with Martin Palmer, a man with whom she can safely entrust her heart. But almost immediately after her arrival in Owl's Perch, the disapproval of those who ostracized her reopens old wounds.

As Hannah is thrown together with former fiancĂ© Paul Waddell to work for her sister Sarah's mental health, unexpected truths surface about the events during Hannah's absence, and she faces an agonizing decision. Will she choose the Englischer world and the man who restored her hope, or will she heed the call to return to the Plain Life—and perhaps her first love?


Rarely is the third book in a series better than the two previous ones, especially when the others are bestsellers. But Cindy Woodsmall has outdone herself.

When the Soul Mends is an amazing finale to this series. Woodsmall does more than weave a great story; she can change your mind without you realizing she's done it. I had firmly sworn my allegiance to certain characters, and I don't change my mind easily. I've been known to throw a book across the room halfway through if it doesn't go the way I want it to. With the finesse of a master word weaver, Woodsmall makes the characters' changes subtle and incremental. In other words—real life.

When the Soul Mends is filled with conflict from beginning to end as Hannah battles not only obstinate family members, but the desires of her own heart. I couldn't put it down and finished it in one spell-binding sitting.

Not often does a series settle into my soul like the Sisters of the Quilt series has, and

When the Soul Mends gets Novel Reviews and my highest recommendation. It's a 5-star read.

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan

Bonus Review:

Review: I love how Cindy Woodsmall's characters touch the very heart of my soul. This is a story that we all can relate to, no matter what your background. Everyone struggles about where we fit in this lilfe we live, and what God's plan is for our lives. It's no different with Hannah and the community she has come from. Yes, they live a little differently, but the matters of the heart is what draw us together, and help us relate to one another. Here is a glimpse into one of the heart issues I'm talking about, "Your sister understood that love reaches out against all the odds and against all reasonable hope. I learned so much about freedom and hope and faith. Why can't you understand that people and circumstances aren't bound to what you can see in them today? If they were, there would be no need for faith." Wow!! Powerful stuff!

There were several times in this book I just had to laugh out loud. Cindy has a way of describing the simple things in life that touch your heart in unexpected ways and bring a smile to your face. I loved how each book starts where the last one ended. Since Cindy left us with cliff hangers for books one and two, I was glad she started exactly at the edge of the cliff where she left us hanging. I was also thankful that each book had a brief description of who was who. Since it was awhile between reading each book, this was helpful for me to remember who everyone was and where I had left off. Thanks Cindy!!

I also was intrigued with Cindy's ability to weave the lives of the Plain and the Englischers together, yet they were separate. It felt like this was a three dimensional book I was experiencing. Through Hannah, I was able to experience both worlds and see life from every side. I felt Hannah's heart breaking as she discovered things she never knew of her past and how all the pieces fit together. I could also feel for Paul and all his discoveries as well. Life just doesn't seem fair. God never said that it would be. Could I trust that God's power over my life is stronger than anything that happened to me? Something to think about! The author has a way of making me look at my own life through the events in these books and the lives and relationships I read about. Powerful stuff!!

Cindy Woodsmall takes on the topic of mental illness in this book, and does an amazing job of dealing with it from all sides. It's not easy to talk about for anyone – it's hard enough for the outside world to deal with -- but how the Amish/Mennonite people deal with this is one I never thought of. This story stayed with me long after I finished reading the last page. I felt like I had been included in the lives of Hannah, Paul, Martin and all the characters in between. If you have read the other two books you won't want to miss the conclusion to this series. If you haven't read this series it's definitely a must-read for everyone.

Reviewed by:
Nora St. Laurent - Book Club Servant Leader

Monday, September 22, 2008

Tamara Leigh's Faking Grace ~ Reviewed

Faking Grace
By: Tamara Leigh
Publisher: Multnomah Books

Want to peek at the first chapter? Click here.

Back Cover:

All she wants is a job. All she needs is religion. How hard can it be?

Maizy Grace Stewart dreams of a career as an investigative journalist, but her last job ended in disaster when her compassion cost her employer a juicy headline.

A part-time gig at a Nashville newspaper might be her big break. A second job at Steeple Side Christian Resources could help pay the bills, but Steeple Side only hires committed Christians. Maizy is sure that she can fake it with her Five-Step Program to Authentic Christian Faith- a plan of action that includes changing her first name to Grace, toting Jesus themed accessories, and learning “Christian Speak.” If only Jack Prentiss, Steeple Side’s two-day-stubbled, blue-jean-wearing managing editor wasn’t determined to prove her a fraud.

When Maizy’s boss at the newspaper decides that she should investigate—and expose-any skeletons in Steeple Side’s closest, she needs to decide whether to deliver the dirt and secure her career, or lean on her newfound faith, change the direction of her life, and pray that her Steeple Side colleagues- and Jack—will show her grace.

My Review:

Leigh has provided another delightful, witty, and humorous read for young and old alike. Faking Grace is a story about hypocrisy, family, and living a faith that is real. I especially enjoyed the reference guide the main character used to help fake her faith—The Dumb Blonde’s Guide to Christianity. This story made me want to go undercover to see exactly how a Christian Publishing company works.

Faking Grace was a laugh a page, and yet full of spiritual depth at the same time. What does real faith look like? How do you live the Christian life among fallen people? These are just a few questions that are delved into through this fictional story. Fun stories can teach life changing spiritual truths and Faking Grace is evidence of that.

Reviewed by: Shellie Powell

Friday, September 19, 2008

Chris Coppernoll's A Beautiful Fall ~ Reviewed

A Beautiful Fall
By Chris Coppernoll

Published by David C. Cook ISBN#978-1-4347-6852-0
Pages 177

Back Cover:

High-powered Boston attorney Emma Madison is celebrating her latest courtroom victory when she gets a call from a number she doesn't recognize. Area code 803 home. Juneberry, South Carolina eight hundred miles, twelve years, and a lifetime away from Boston. Emma's father has had a serious heart attack. Emma rushes to his bedside, and a weekend trip threatens to become an extended stay. She has to work fast to arrange the affairs of his small-town law practice so she can return to her life and career in Boston.

And then Michael Evans shows up.

They'd shared hopes, dreams, and a passionate love as young college students during a long-ago summer. But Emma walked away from Michael and from Juneberry to finish college and start a new life. Michael has never forgotten her. Enveloped in the warmth of family and small-town life and discovering that she still cares for Michael, Emma knows she'll have to make a choice between the career she's worked so hard to build and the love she left behind.


Thirty four year old Emma Madison has done quite well for herself in a prestigious law firm in Boston. Life is happening at lightning speed until Emma gets a call. Her father has just had a heart attack. Regrets filled her heart as she race to the hospital. Had it really been 12 years since she was home last? It hardly seemed possible. Emma was doing her job, taking care of business all these years which left little time for anything else in her life – even time to think.

She arrives at the airport and is welcomed by friends with open arms. Each of her friends treat her with a warmth that wasn't expected after all this time. Samantha (a full time mom), Christina (a full time writer) and Michael (a very special someone), are all proud that she had made her dreams come true. They treat her like they talked every day for the last 12 years. It surprised her. They all have a deep love that satisfies them. It has her wondering what is different. She later finds out that each of her friends were following Jesus in a very special way. It was very different that just playing church.

Emma realizes as she fights with her law firm partner, Robert Adler, on the phone something has definitely been missing in her life. Emma thought she was content. But being home made her start to realize she didn't have it all. Emma begins to see how much she has missed out on; that money isn't everything. It definitely can't buy happiness or a relationship with her father. Robert is demanding that she come back and handle this very important deal for the firm. She owes it to them. Emma puts him off as she spends time with her father. Robert isn't use to hearing the word "No" and keeps putting the pressure on her to return in a day or two. That should be plenty of time to square things away with family, according to Robert.

Emma feels caught between two worlds and isn't doing well in either one. Emma reunites with her friends. Emotions she didn't realize she had start to stir. She starts to want what they have. She begins to smell the flowers and really see them clearly for the first time in a long time. Emma struggles with the fact that she has made work a priority in her life. That choice has cost her dearly. She can't get back yesterday but maybe she can have tomorrow. Can she really live in a small town again? So many choices to be made so little time...

Chris Coppernoll captures the essence of small town life and the sweet relationship with really special friends. Chris is a romantic at heart and sees the best in everything. I really loved that about this story. In Chris' first book "Providence", he wrote from the male point of view; in this story he mainly wrote from a woman's point of view. His female dialogue rang true and his attention to detail amazed me. Chris' second book shows how versatile he is. I can't wait to see what he does in his third book. After reading this story you'll be waiting too.

Reviewed by: Nora St. Laurent

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

James David Jordan's Forsaken ~ Reviewed

By James David Jordan
B & H Book Publishers
ISBN# 978-0-8054-4749-1
328 Pages

Back Cover:

Taylor Pasbury, a beautiful, former Secret Service agent, has started her own security business. Her first client is Simon Mason, the world's best-known televangelist, who has received threats from Muslim extremists. When the terrorists strike, they take Simon's daughter and make a demand of the pastor that would shake the most steadfast saint. Taylor draws on all of her hard-knock roughness and training as she fights to save Simon and his daughter. Along the way, she discovers that even Simon has a past he is trying to forget – and that together they learn that some things are more important than living.


Wow!! I found myself holding my breath at the end of the book. I couldn't read the suspenseful story that was unfolding fast enough. It was definitely a page turner and something I had to finish before I went on with anything else that day. I have to tell you that from the start I was reluctant to read this story because it was about a televangelist. I didn't know where James Jordan would go with this story, and I was not sure I wanted to find out. I gave the story a shot and it immediately grabbed me as I got to know Taylor Pasbury and how she become a Secret Agent. The story is action packed but also full of deep relational issues. I loved that about this moving story. It was exciting but very deep and contemporary. I loved that the author made the televangelist have a heart and that he struggled with the right thing to do in the present, as well as with past decisions he had made in life. It wasn't all about the money or the show being on TV. I also loved that this story was told through the eyes of Taylor Pasbury, a woman struggling with life and someone that away from the bible. She watched everything the church people did. I found it quite interesting and a refreshing twist.

Taylor Pasbuy says this "..Dad had told me that the best battle plans weren't worth the paper they were written on once the shooting started. I guess he was right. There is nothing worse than being alone. Nothing. Just for once in my life I want to be good enough. That's all I want is to be good enough." That was her struggle along with many other things.

This story got my attention and never let it go. I definitely wanted to read more by James David Jordan - luckily I can (and so can you). His first book is called "Something that Lasts". I'm sure it's just as good. I loved this story and the heart of the story teller. This is a story worth checking out.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent

Bonus Review:

4/5 Stars

What an intriguing story through former Secret Service now Private Security Personnel Taylor Pasbury's eyes. The entire novel is told in a recitation with bits of humor as if in a verbal report. As a huge Alias/spy-type fan this story was a great fit in genre for me. It is shocking that I had not found author James David Jordan's work before, and now that I have I plan to read much more. I'm especially excited that as soon as I finish this review, I can start reading the sequel to this novel "Forsaken" which is called "Double Cross".

Including some of the nit and gritty, this is a very realistic tale that brings to light the good and bad in people. Strength and forgiveness of ones-self are themes as well as terrorism plots and rescue attempts. This was one of those books where when I had to put it down to tend to something else I was amazed at how far I had already read. A page turner and a tool to delve into realism issues of the reader's own-self is only part of what makes this a great book. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind


Have you ever started reading a book and realized at some point, usually about half way, that it is a sequel or Book 2 of an author’s series? Does it make you feel empty or feel like you are missing something? When I read Double Cross by James David Jordan a few months ago, I realized pretty quick that this was a continuation story in a series. I didn’t know at the time as to how many in the series there were. This did not matter when I finished it because I loved the story and the interplay with the characters of Kacey Mason, daughter of Evangelist Simon Mason, and the main character of Taylor Pasbury.

After I finished the story, I searched for previous works by Mr. Jordan and wanted to see how the back-story unfolded. To my delight, I discovered Forsaken was the only other book in this series when I went to get it from my local library. ** Side note: You would be amazed at how many Christian fiction books you can find at your local library that you can check out for free. **

As I started reading this book, I was filled with excitement to discover Taylor Pasbury’s adventures dealing with Evangelist Simon Mason. Simon, in Forsaken, had to face a faith defining moment after the kidnapping of his 20 year old daughter Kacey. He called on Taylor, a former Secret Service agent, for help after receiving death threats while in Chicago.

The past history Taylor Pasbury had with her Dad becomes more in focus as she deals with Kacey’s kidnapping and ultimately her own emotions developing for Simon Mason until the end.

I believe that James David Jordan is now added to my list of favorite male authors. I am glad that Christian fiction is gaining more men that many can turn to and feel good about reading. I hope that as you look for your next suspense book; give James David Jordan a try. I give this book Forsaken a 5 out of 5 stars. It kept me wanting to come back for more.

Be blessed!

Reviewed by:Bradley Evans

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Donita Paul's Dragonlight ~ Reviewed

By Donita K. Paul
WaterBrook Press
ISBN: 978-0-4000-7378-8

Review by Michelle Griep

The fantastic land of Amara is recovering from years of war as well as from the spiritual apathy corroding the Amarans’ hearts. With Kale and her father serving as dragon keepers for Paladin, the dragon populace has exploded. It’s a peaceful, exciting time of rebuilding. And yet, an insidious, unseen evil lurks just beneath the surface of the idyllic countryside.

As Kale and her father are busy hatching, bonding, and releasing the younger generation of dragons, the light wizard has little time to develop her skills. Her husband, Sir Bardon—despite physical limitations—has become a leader, serving under Paladin. When Kale and Bardon join the dragons on a quest to find a hidden colony, they encounter sinister forces. Their world is under attack by a secret enemy…can they overcome the ominous peril they can’t even see?

Of all the books in the DragonKeeper Chronicles, Dragonlight is by far my favorite. I am sad to see this series come to an end, but what a masterful finish indeed. Donita Paul’s skill at imparting timeless truths via story shines the brightest in this final Kale and Bardon adventure.

One of the things I appreciate most about this fantasy is the humor woven throughout. How could anyone not smile while reading about a baby dragon suffering from frequent bouts of hiccups that singe anything nearby? I especially enjoyed the conversation between several wizards discussing the naming of a new gateway. One pressed for the practical use of the initials M.P., which greatly annoyed another wizard who stated that could mean anything from Magnificent Pottery to Monkey Poop.

The relationship between Bardon and Kale also endeared me to this particular DragonKeeper tale. As husband and wife, they set an example for what marriage should be like: respectful, kind and loving. In this age of rampant divorce, these fictional characters teach a thing or two about living and serving together.

All in all, Dragonlight provides a satisfying conclusion to the DragonKeeper Chronicles. My only grump is that I would’ve liked to have seen more of Holt Hoddack. He does reform, quite admirably at that, but he never loses his roguish charm. This is one reader who’d be happy to see a new series spin off with Holt as the lead character.

It’s hard to say good-bye to friends, which is what all the characters in the DragonKeeper Chronicles have become to readers worldwide. While Bardon and Kale, Regidor and Gilda, and many others will be missed greatly, their adventure lives on each time the series is re-read.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Travis Thrasher's Isolation ~ Reviewed

By Travis Thrasher
Faith Words Publisher
281 pages

Click here to read the first chapter.

Back Cover:

James Miller is a burned-out missionary whose time on the mission field in Papua New Guinea left him exhausted and disillusioned. His wife, Stephanie, feels as if she's losing her mind. After moving to North Carolina, Stephanie begins seeing strange and frightening things: blood dripping down the walls, one of her children suffocating. Premonitions, she's sure of what's to come. As the visions and haunting images intensify, Stephanie asks her brother to come for a much-needed visit – but he's hiding secrets of his own that will prove far more destructive than Stephanie could ever imageine.

Nine-year-old Zachary sees his family's move as an adventure, and as he explores the new house, he discovers every young boy's dream: secret passageways and hidden rooms. But what seems exciting at first quickly becomes altogether frightening. When a snowstorm traps the Millers, the supernatural dangers of their new home test everything they thought they knew about each other, about God, and about their faith.


I read in an interview with Travis Thrasher, that he likes to write stories that are all character-driven - he says "I like to write about main characters who are flawed. At the core, I want to write about real people who are searching, who are failing, and who are stuck in some drama which forces them to change." That is the main case here. The topic of this book is spiritual warfare - something that Frank Peretti first brought to our awareness in his books. Travis takes it up a few notches for sure; almost too graphic for my taste in some parts. I have a friend who was a missionary for many years, and when I visited her, she would tell me of the spiritual battles that were so visible in Africia and the other places she stayed. When there is a spiritual strong-hold by the enemy (in an area), very crazy things happen because the enemy has been given permission to operate there.

Travis did research for this book and says some things were so graphic that they didn't make it into the book (I can't imagine what parts those were, because the few things he put in his book were graphics-overload for me). Travis says that the scariest things weren't graphic, but just the fact of being alone - isolated. Just because you are a Christian doesn't mean that you will always feel HIS presence, or know why He does the things He does, or hear God or understand His plan. His ways are definitely not our ways. It's easy for those who are on the front lines in ministry, who have see the dark side, to feel isolated and all alone. These are the things they can't teach you in a book. Travis says that when you let your guard down and don't rely on God, you're prone to attack. Not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually. The main character feels alone - isolated. He can't explain what he has gone through and if he shares what he feels, people might think he's crazy. The story is about the forces of good and evil in an all-out battle.

Oh, to have that child-like faith! The missionary's only son believes. He has faith even when his parents are weaving in their faith and are disillusioned.This book is not for the faint of heart. If this were made into a movie, I would be putting my hands over my eyes to block out the graphic parts. It has a powerful message, but I would have liked less blood (I'm sure the missionarys in real life would have too!). This book makes you aware that the devil is alive and well, but God is too. We can be overcomers, but it takes work - nothing is easy. Travis Thrasher's next book is Ghost.

Nora StLaurent
Book Club Servant Leader - ACFW Book Club Assistant

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ginger Garrett's In the Shadow of Lions ~ Reviewed

In the Shadow of Lions (Paperback)
by Ginger Garrett
Paperback: 311 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; 1 edition (September 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0781448875

Product Description

"I am the first writer, The Scribe. My books lie open before the Throne, and someday will be the only witness of your people and their time in this world."

So begins the narration of one such angel in this sweeping historical tale set during the reign of England's Henry VIII. It is the story of two women, their guardian angels, and a mysterious, subversive book ... a book that outrages some, inspires others, and launches the Protestant Reformation.

The devout Anne Boleyn catches the eye of a powerful king and uses her influence to champion an English translation of the Bible. Meanwhile, Rose, a broken, suicidal woman of the streets, is moved to seek God when she witnesses Thomas More's public displays of Christian charity, ignorant of his secret life spent eradicating the Bible, persecuting anyone who dares read it.

Historic figures come alive in this thrilling story of heroes and villains, saints and sinners, angels and mortals ... and the sacred book that will inspire you anew.

My Review:

In the Shadow of Lions is a story as dictated by a guardian angel to a present day woman who needs to hear it.

Two women without freedom face a reign, battles for power, threats of death and superstition. Beliefs collide to bring an alternative and gripping tale of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. Historical fans and those who devour great storytelling should find much to like. If martyrdom and torture themes bother you, look before you leap. I found the novel to be a little challenging as I tried to piece together who was who and how they all intersected. But once I got it, the story rocked and rolled.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Claudia Mair Burney's Wounded ~ Reviewed

Wounded: A Love Story
Claudia Mair Burney
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (September 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434799387


If a miracle happened to you, wouldn't you tell everyone? What if they thought you were crazy?

Poor in health but rich in faith, Gina Merritt a young, broke, African American single mother sits in a pew on Ash Wednesday and has a holy vision. When it fades, her palms are bleeding. Anthony Priest, the junkie sitting beside her, instinctively touches her when she cries out, but Gina flees in shock and pain. Anthony, a prize-winning journalist before drugs destroyed his career, is flooded with a sense of well-being and knows he is cured of his addiction. Without understanding why, Anthony follows Gina home to find some answers. Together they search for an understanding to this miraculous event, and along the way they cross paths with a skeptical evangelical pastor, a gentle Catholic priest, a certifiable religious zealot, and an oversized transvestite drug dealer, all of whom lend their opinion. It's a quest for truth, sanity, and grace . . . and an unexpected love story.

My Review:

I don't hesitate to lay a book down and skip going back to it. I belong to a mystery readers club that sends a portion of a book via e-mail every day. Usually, I know whether I want to open the excerpt the next day or not by what I read on day one. That's why I love the feature that CFBA is offering now -- the entire first chapter. I recommend that you read the first chapter of Wounded. Click here to do so.

Wounded is a challenging novel. Personally challenging in what will I, an evangelical Christian who has concerns about Catholic doctrines, do with a book that is very much about saints, stigmata and Christ's wounds? For starters, I won't recommend it to anyone who is confused about Mary worship vs. Christ worship. Can I recommend it to those who are mature enough in their walk with Christ that they know His words and His heart? Yes I can, because a person who is mature is going to be able to discern the truth throughout, within and behind this novel about very broken people who are in need and receipt of scandalous grace.

I know folks who won't read C.S. Lewis because of his deep questions. Others in my circle of influence don't believe a Catholic can be saved because of the tradition and error that stands between soul and Savior. Still others label things outside of their experience and knowledge heresy. If you fall into any of these camps, don't pick up Wounded because you will be offended.

However, if you believe that Jesus works today as He did when He walked the earth, that He is not bound by our expectations, that He is lavish and almost wasteful with His grace then read the first chapter. If you are intrigued by stories of those who sacrifice everything for Jesus or powerful and unexpected healing from hideous consequences and lives, Wounded may speak to the very center of your soul. If you are broken and don't want to be broken anymore, if you feel like you are a blindman and you are looking for another blindman who can accompany you while you search for freedom you may want to stumble to the bookstore to pick up a copy of this novel.

Claudia Mair Burney writes with passion and poignancy. She also writes as if she is using "ink" from her own veins. Her characters are haunting. People who are broken, blind and needy, and people I recognize when I walk through my safe little suburbs and sometimes even when I look into a mirror.

Wounded is not for everybody, but it is for some. I think you will know who you are.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Monday, September 08, 2008

Sharon Carter Rogers' Unpretty~ Reviewed

Review for Unpretty
by Sharon Carter Rogers
ISBN 1-4165-6649-X
Howard Books/A Division of Simon & Schuster Paperback Original

Hummingbird Collins, an aspiring art student, witnesses and is the only survivor of a terrorist bombing of a Michelangelo exhibit at the Conklin Art Gallery. What she does not know is that she has witnessed the work of the Michelangelus Movement, a cult that kidnaps people and uses them in bizarre artistic experiments, all relating to the artist Michelangelo's masterpiece Last Judgment. Soon after the bombing, she begins receiving eerie cassette recordings from "26", the madman leader of the cult, about his plan of ridding the world of "unpretty" things.

With a full cast of well-developed characters, Sharon Rogers creates a story of intrigue and horror. Especially intriguing is Kinseth, a young man who suffered a traumatic car accident that leaves him with MPD (multiple personalities). When Kinseth stumbles upon the lair of the Michelangelus Movement, he puts himself in line to become the hero, with the help of Ready Robinson, a retired NFL player turned priest, Detective Buck Barnes, and Hummingbird's brother T.W. Collins. The sub-plots tie nicely together to offer a few surprises in the ending, making the book unpredictable and satisfying for those who enjoy a touch of horror in their suspense stories.

Warning: Not for the faint of heart.

Reviewed by Sandra Moore

Friday, September 05, 2008

Angela Benson's Up Pops the Devil ~ Reviewed

Up Pops the Devil
by Angela Benson
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Avon A (July 29, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061468509

Product Description

Two hard years in prison have changed Wilford "Preacher" Winters for the better. He did his time, now he's going to "do the right thing." But the women in his life have other ideas.

Tanya, the sleek and sexy mother of his two kids, is much too comfortable with her pearls-and-Porsche lifestyle, and she'll do whatever it takes to maintain it... His sister, Loretta, kept "the business" running smoothly while Preacher was inside, and she can't believe he'd trade Easy Street bling for a nickel-and-dime dead-end job...

His one-time girlfriend Serena, now married to his main man Barnard, is hiding a secret—and if past sins come to light, they'll ruin several lives and a very new, very precious friendship between Preacher and Barnard's beautiful-inside-and-out sister, Natalie.

With his world about to explode all around him, Preacher's going to need every ounce of his new-found faith to remain strong. Because it takes a lot to become a new man, sometimes even a miracle.

My Review:

Preacher, a new Christian fresh from two years in prison, reenters life with hopes and dreams and crashes into the reality of his past. All of the consequences have been waiting for him, curled up like dormant rattlesnakes, and once he attempts to pick up pieces the rattles begin. A glimpse into a Hades gives further tension as spiritual puppetry is revealed.

These characters are ones that I grew to care about and I hoped for Preacher as he faced serpents all around. Sensitive or conservative souls may want to use caution. The characters behave like sinners saved by grace who need a lot of forgiveness. Solid storytelling and writing skills make the novel an escapist read that ends up challenging and teaching.

Reviewed by:
Kelly Klepfer

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Linda Evans Shepherd & Eva Marie Everson The Potluck Catering Club - The Secrets in the Sauce ~ Reviewed

The Potluck Catering Club - The Secrets in the Sauce
By Linda Evans Shepherd and Eva Marie Everson
Published by Revell
ISBN 978-0-8007-3208-0

Back Cover:

Life just got a whole lot more complicated—thanks to a "secret" ingredient.

The women of the Potluck Club have made a bold move. They've launched a catering business that's a lot like them: saucy, spicy, and well-seasoned. But will a pantry full of personal secrets cause the business to crumble before it gets off the ground?

As the women focus on their new venture they are forced to deal with a steamy past that threatens a marriage, the scalding truth about those they thought they knew, and the outrageous situations that come out of an unexpected—and revealing – trip back home.

The ladies of Summit View, Colorado, haven't left the kitchen—they've merely turned up the heat on their most delectable adventure to date.


Once again, Shepherd and Everson have joined forces to bring us more of the quirky characters we met in the first three Potluck Club books. Their new adventure, a catering business led by Lisa Leann, was started while Evie was on her honeymoon. A bit of strategic timing to take over? Absolutely. I don't think the rivalry will ever be over for those two. At least I hope not. And Evie, as indomitable as ever, is stirring up her own trouble even as she adjusts to married life with the sheriff. What was he thinking?

These fun characters not only leap off the pages, I know them, live near them and love them. I'm positive Evie goes to my church. I can't wait to be served the next course from The Potluck Catering Club gals. This is truly the best Potluck Club book yet. Novel Reviews and I give it a high recommendation.

Reviewed by
Ane Mulligan

Monday, September 01, 2008

September ACFW Book Releases ~ Jill Eileen Smith

We've got a HUGE list this month of new Christian fiction releases! 24! Count 'em! Wow! Perfect for your fall reading list. So here ya go!

Also, don't forget to check out my new Spotlight on award-winning, best-selling author Wanda Brunstetter!, who also happens to have a new release this month.

1. A Bride by Christmas by Linda Goodnight, Kelly Eileen Hake, Vickie McDonough, Therese Stenzel from Barbour. In an era when a single woman had little hope of support and security outside marriage, four young women find themselves talked into weddings on the eve of Christmas celebrations.

2. A Connecticut Christmas by Janet Lee Barton, Rhonda Gibson, Gail Sattler, Diane Ashley from Barbour. Snowbound Village, Connecticut, is full of holiday charm, especially at the mall’s Christmas Collectibles Shop where romance is in the air.

3. A New Joy, Book 2, New Hampshire Brides by Susan Page Davis from Heartsong Presents. Returned from captivity in Canada, Jane is sure she doesn't want a husband--until trapper Charles Gardner comes courting.

4. A Passion Redeemed, Daughters of Boston Series, Book 2 by Julie Lessman from Revell. A Passion Redeemed is the sequel to a sweeping saga of a close-knit Irish family in 1919 Boston, continuing the struggle between two sisters who love the same men.

5. A Time To Heal by Linda Goodnight from Steeple Hill Love Inspired. A burned out physician returns to her home town to rethink her future and encounters the high school sweetheart with whom she shares a painful secret.

6. Alaska Brides: Golden Dawn/Golden Days/Golden Twilight by Cathy Marie Hake, Kathleen Y'Barbo, Mary Connealy from Barbour. Trek into the wilds alongside three women who have strong faith, determination, and no need for a husband.

7. An Unexpected Love Book 2 in the Broadmoor Legacy series by Tracie Peterson and Judith Miller from Bethany House Publishers. Sophie Broadmoor sets out to find love on her own terms only to realize that life often deals you unexpected obstacles.

8. At His Command Homecoming Heroes Series Book 3 by Brenda Coulter from Steeple Hill Love Inspired. A disabled combat helicopter pilot comes to terms with his new life as he falls for a troubled but outwardly cheerful Army nurse who has adored him for years.

9. Back to Life Second in the Series of 2, "The Trophy Wives Club" by Kristin Billerbeck from Avon Inspire. What happens when you become a 35-year old widow? And your husband's first wife comes into your life to join you in mourning? Lindsay Brindle is about to find how to get "Back to Life".

10. Courting Miss Adelaide by Janet Dean from Steeple Hill. Charles Graves believed his heart was closed forever, but he swore to stand by Adelaide Crum, the lonely woman who was fighting for the right to love a motherless child.

11. Family of the Heart by Dorothy Clark from Love Inspired Historical. Sarah Randolph knew her heart was safe from romantic entanglement with her new employer Clayton Bainbridge. Who could abide a man who would not even look at his toddler daughter?

12. I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires, Stand alone sequel to William Henry is a Fine Name by Cathy Gohlke from Moody Publishers. As Civil War rends his family and the nation, seventeen-year-old Robert vows to rescue his estranged mother and the girl he loves from behind enemy lines.

13. It's Not About Me by Michelle Sutton from Sheaf House. When tragedy strikes in a young woman's life, two brothers fight to win her heart, but will she let the Lord heal her soul?

14. John 3:16 by Nancy Moser from Tyndale House. Roman Paulson hates God, and yet . . . circumstances spur him to hold up a "John 3:16" sign at a football game--and lives are changed, including his own.

15. Lonestar Sanctuary Lonestar Series Book 1 by Colleen Coble from Thomas Nelson. A young woman and her daughter flee danger to a ranch for abused horses.

16. Loving Cee Cee Johnson by Linda Leigh Hargrove from Moody Publishers/Lift Every Voice. In this sequel to The Making of Isaac Hunt, reporter Cee Cee Johnson discovers the true meaning of love and forgiveness.

17. Lying on Sunday by Sharon K. Souza from NavPress. When your husband dies in another woman’s bed, you can get down, get mad or get on. Abbie Torrington does all three, then discovers her real life is about to begin.

18. Rhapsody in Red by Donn Taylor from Moody Publishers. A history professor with musical hallucinations and a female Wiccan professor of comparative religions have to solve a campus murder before vengeful homicide police can pin it on them.

19. Single Sashimi, The Sushi series by Camy Tang from Zondervan. Venus helps her old nemesis in order to launch her video game company, but one wild youth group, a two-faced assistant, and her grandma's matchmaking might drive her insane!

20. Unpretty by Sharon Carter Rogers from Howard Books/Simon and Schuster. The city of Lehigh, West Virginia, faces the insidious threat of a sadistic cult bent on eliminating all "unpretty" things in the world...

21. Up Pops the Devil by Angela Benson from Avon A. Tempted to sin…but will he give in?

22. Where the Heart Leads by Kim Vogel Sawyer from Bethany House Publishers. Thomas Ollenburger has a hard-earned college diploma in hand...but what is he supposed to do with it?

23. White Christmas Pie by Wanda E. Brunstetter from Barbour Publishing. Herein lies all the ingredients for a heartwarming, bittersweet Amish Christmas romance.

24. Wyoming Christmas Heroes by Jeanie Smith Cash, Linda Lyle, Jeri Odell, and Tammy Shuttlesworth from Barbour. Annie has moved to a new state is about to give birth alone. Chris's snowmobiling trip puts her life in danger. Holly's daughter has become strangely accident prone. A fire threatens Stacy and her young son. Who will come to these women's rescue?

Happy reading ~