Monday, August 31, 2009

Tina Forkner's Rose House ~ Reviewed

By Tina Ann Forkner
Published by:WaterBrook Press
310 Pages

Back Cover:

Still mourning the loss of her family in a tragic accident, Lillian Diamon finds herself drawn back to the Rose House, a quiet cottage where four years earlier she had poured out her anguish among its fragrant blossoms.

She returns to the rolling hills and lush vineyards of the Sonoma Valley in search of something she can’t quite name. Lillian stumbles onto an unexpected discovery: displayed in the La Rosaleda Gallery is a painting that captures every detail of her most private moment of misery, from the sorrow etched across her face to the sandals on her feet.


I was mesmerized from the very first page. “It seemed to be the cottage that was alive, but it was only the vines twining in on themselves and clinging to the structure that were living.” Tina Ann Forkner paints with her words what an artist does as he designs a masterpiece on a clean canvas. While reading this book, I wondered if Tina was an artist with more than her words, as she made me appreciate art and the making of a masterpiece, through the artist’s eyes. It was quite fascinating to read about a master at work.

This is a story of woman named Lillian, who’s lost all she held dear in a deadly car accident. How could she go on? As police investigate the accident unnerving facts about her husband come to light. The life she thought she had begins to unravel. Lillian catches people following her or so she thinks. Who was this man she had married and had two children with?

Lillian discovers a painting that has her stumped, “Whoever painted it had seen her hurting as nobody else ever had. But why had the artist put it on display for anyone who walked into the gallery to see?” She was the woman in the painting and someone really had been watching her. She wasn’t crazy!

There is a true love story, between adoptive parents and their children, a sister for her sibling and a man for a woman. Tina’s characters will stay with you long after you’ve finished the last page. You’ll want to visit the Rose House yourself. Good thing I can by re-reading this rich, fun, and memorable book.

Hope and healing come from God—but love can never be forced—it has to bloom and grow much like a beautiful rose. Rose House is a cozy mystery!! I wasn’t sure who-done-it until the last page. Thank you Tina, for creating such an intriguing, loving, rich story!

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

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Joy DeKok's Rain Dance ~ Reviewed

Rain Dance
By Joy DeKok
Published by Sheaf House
ISBN: 978-0-9797485-9-2


Jonica and Stacie meet in a doctor's office at a critical turning point in each of their lives. Jonica is ending unsuccessful infertility treatments and accepting the death of her dream of having children. Stacie has come to schedule the termination of her pregnancy so she can further her dream of a career in law.

Tentatively the two young women reach out to each other. Can they forge an uncommon friendship that will forever transform their future?


I applaud DeKok for the naked, honest emotions her characters displayed. She didn't try to soften Jonica's railing at God, nor Stacie's self-centeredness. I found Jonica's faith to be very real and practical. Her journey to healing and Stacie's path to faith were both believable, and not something manipulated by the author. They are women from different backgrounds and belief systems when they meet. And yet, I believed the friendship that grew between them. I came to love Stacie as much as Jonica.

Rain Dance is truly a prodigious book. It bears healing within its pages for hurting women, whether they are scarred by post abortion syndrome or infertility, Rain Dance is a must read. But be sure to have a hankie handy. Novel Reviews and I give it a very high recommendation: 4 ½ stars.

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan
Editor, Novel Journey

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Aileen Leijten's Hugging Hour! ~ Reviewed

Hugging Hour!
By Aileen Leijten
Penguin Group
ISBN: 978-0-399-24680-7

Book Cover:

To Drool, it feels like her mom and dad have been gone an awfully long time. So long that she can hardly taste the fried ice cream Grandma made for dinner, or enjoy hide-and-seek with Kip, Grandma’s pet chicken. Not even playing dress up, having a whole snuggly hugging hour with Grandma, or getting to put the sprinkles on the triple-decker cupcakes can put a smile on Drool’s face. I’m an orphan,” she tells Kip.

A child’s first sleepover at Grandma’s is given a hilarious and tender treatment in this stunning book by newcomer Aileen Leijten.

Review by Meg, age 9:

Hugging Hour! is a good book. I really like how Drool is going to her grandma’s, and she misses her mom and dad and thinks she’s an orphan. I also like how the grandma makes a lot of crazy desserts. And I think it is funny when Drool asks Kip the chicken questions, and he doesn’t answer. I like this book because it’s really sweet.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Jenny B. Jones's Just Between You and Me ~ Reviewed

Just Between You and Me
By Jenny B. Jones
Published by Thomas Nelson, Sept 2009
ISBN-10: 1595548513


Maggie lives life on the edge, seemingly unafraid of anything. But the image she so carefully constructed is coming undone.

Maggie’s job as a cinematographer takes her around the world. She tells people’s stories, especially those of impoverished children. That’s when she feels most alive, like she’s making the world better.

But when a secret from her past resurfaces, Maggie gets a call that sends her home. Her dad desperately needs her help. Her estranged sister has run off, leaving 8-year-old Riley in his care. She returns reluctantly, hoping to help her niece. There she reconnects with Conner—a once awkward and shy, now handsome, veterinarian. Her feelings skyrocket when she’s with him, but she’s afraid if she shows him her true self, he’ll reject her.

An honest, hilarious journey that will transform Maggie—if she just learns to trust more and fear less.


Just Between You and Me snagged me with the fresh writing style. I was drawn into the deep first person POV and it’s written in present tense. I love that.

Maggie Montgomery is an incredibly fun protagonist to cheer for—plus she’s redheaded, which I can relate to. Maggie’s easy to love, hysterically funny, and knows how to laugh at herself—at least on the outside. Maggie tries her best to appear fearless but life doesn’t cooperate. In her career as a cinematographer, she’s a successful world traveler. Hiding behind a camera comes easily for her. But in her personal life, Maggie is thrown into taking care of her redheaded ten-year-old precious, smart-mouth niece Riley. Toss in a cute vet/used to be nerd from her past, a distant father, and a few skeletons from Maggie’s childhood and we have the makings of a great read.

Reviewed by Julie Garmon
of Girls God and Goodlife Blogspot.

Bonus Review:

“There’s a feeling in the air, and I don’t like it. A feeling that says, Things are about to get messy and out of control. Messy I can handle. The contents of my purse are a testimonial to that. But the relationship business? Let’s just say I’m a better cinematographer than I am a girlfriend.”

This statement out of the mouth of Maggie, world traveler, great at her job, but not so good with relationships of any kind; which she soon discovers when a family emergency brings her home to Ivey, Texas. The last place on earth she wants to be. Talk about messy?

Maggie is going to church and hears the pastor say, “What’s holding you back today? Every single one of us has fears. You know who eats that up? The enemy. He loves nothing more than to see you hanging tight to all those things you’re afraid of. ..”

Maggie wonders if the pastor is talking directly to her, and you’ll wonder if Jenny is talking to you.

This book grabbed my heart and attention right from the start. Jenny B. Jones not only has Maggie discover she might have a few fears she’s holding on to but she made me think about fear in a deeper, personal sense. What does facing your fear look like? I think that this author does an amazing job of showing Maggie how to identify her fears, but it made this reader think about the issue of fear as well.

Bravo, Jenny! for penning such a dynamic, funny, heartfelt story of unconditional love, forgiveness, and letting God take the drivers’ seat of our lives. It’s a scary thing to do. Can Maggie pull it off, could you? Jenny gives you hope and a little bit of her testimony about dealing with fear, in the back of the book. I can’t stop thinking about this book and neither will you!

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent - Finding Hope Through Fiction

Friday, August 21, 2009

David J Claassen's Kathryn's Fountain~Reviewed

Kathryn’s Fountain
By David J. Claassen
Published By: Cladach Publishing
190 Pages

Back Cover:

“Do you believe in miracles?”

As she asked the question Kathryn’s eyes locked on mine. She had been resigned to living out her last days at Victorian Manor, a beautiful old home for senior citizens needing extended care. Then one day something strangely wonderful happened to Kathryn at the garden fountain, and she began living an adventure beyond her wildest dreams. Love and sacrifice took on new meaning as she involved a social worker and a police detective in carrying out what she believed to be her calling—to rescue a street child named Jasmine.


You’ll wonder about miracles after reading this story!! In the beginning I thought it was going to turn into a scenario you and I are all too familiar with…where someone goes back in time…but alas, this was really different. The author takes the reader down a path I’ve never been on before - it fascinated me. David Claassen creates lovable, quirky characters you can’t help but instantly care about.

The main character, Kathryn and a former preacher, Ed, talk about something I hadn’t ever thought of before. He says, “…aging seems unnatural. We never quite get used to the idea of getting old. It’s like it’s an enemy. We’re all at different stages of aging, and that separates us, by what we call generations, from each other. Sometimes I think it separates us as much or more than race, creed, or economic status.”

I love how the author weaves these very intriguing, powerful gems that make you go ‘Hummm,”! in the middle of Kathryn’s adventures. These gems turn up throughout the story when you least expect it. I loved that!

Kathryn doesn’t know how to take Ed at times but he is a fountain of fun and companionship for her at Victorian Manor. She asks Ed “Do you believe in Miracles?”

He says, “Jesus never did miracles to make someone without faith believe. In fact, he required at least a little faith on the part of someone involved before he did a miracle!” Another gem!

I was taken on a great unexpected journey filled with adventure, wonder, love and self-sacrifice. I found myself rooting for Kathryn’s determination to do God’s will in her life, when it seemed impossible for her to do it. This is a story that fairy tales are made of—I can’t wait for others to share in the great adventure I’ve just been on reading Kathryn’s Fountain. Treat yourself to drink from Kathryn’s Fountain – You’ll be glad you did.

Reviewed by: Nora St Laurent

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Chuck Black's Sir Dalton ~ Reviewed

Sir Dalton
by Chuck Black
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Multnomah Books; 1 edition (May 5, 2009)
ISBN: 978-1-60142-126-5

Book Cover:

Sir Dalton, a knight in training, seems to have everything going for him. Young, well-liked, and a natural leader, he has earned the respect and admiration of his fellow knights, as well as the beautiful Lady Brynn.

But something is amiss at the training camp. Their new trainer is popular but lacks the passion to inspire them to true service to the King and the Prince. On top of this, the knights are too busy enjoying themselves to be concerned with a disturbing report that many of their fellow knights have mysteriously vanished.

When Sir Dalton is sent on a mission, he is captured by Lord Drox, a massive Shadow Warrior, Bruised and beaten, Dalton initiates a daring escape, but what will become of the hundreds of knights he’ll leave behind? In a kingdom of peril, Dalton thinks he is on his own, but two faithful friends have not abandoned him, nor has a strange old hermit who seems to know much about the Prince. Can Dalton face the evil Shadow Warrior again and survive?

Review: Reid A. Pre-teen Reviewer

Sir Dalton is another book in The Knights of Arrethtrae series. This book, as well as the rest in the series, is a male teen’s dream. With action, adventure, and plenty of sword combat. Sir Dalton tries to live the life of a knight, but is soon put in an extremely perilous situation and must search deep within himself to truly serve the prince. This book is a quick read and well worth the time it takes to read it. I truly never stopped reading this book. This book is great.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Rachel Dewoskin's Repeat After Me ~ Reviewed

Repeat After Me: A Novel
by Rachel DeWoskin
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Overlook Hardcover (May 14, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1590202228


A dazzlingly rich and funny novel by "a real China doll" (Entertainment Weekly)

Rachel DeWoskin is a writer who has been lauded for her "razor-sharp descriptions" (The Wall Street Journal), her "considerable cultural and linguistic resources" (The New Yorker), and her rare ability to offer a "real insider's look at life in modern China" (The Economist). Now DeWoskin, author of the laughout-loud funny and poignant Foreign Babes in Beijing, returns with a new novel about modern China and one American girl's struggle to find herself there.

Aysha is a twenty-two-year-old New Yorker putting the pieces of her life back in place after her parents' divorce and her own nervous breakdown when a young Chinese student named Da Ge flips her world upside-down. In a love story that spans decades and continents, from the Tiananmen Square incident to 9/11, New York City's Upper West Side to the terraced mountains of South China, Repeat After Me gives readers an alternately funny and painful glimpse of life and loss in between languages.

My Review:

One person can make such a difference in our lives. With raw poignancy, DeWoskin, paints how the choices of other people in our lives can color or shadow our futures and pasts. Ashya teaches ESL and falls for a troubled young man. As their story unfolds over a period of seasons, months and years, I found myself drawn into her life whether in a New York apartment or camping on the Great Wall. With horror and sorrow I peeked through my fingers as things spiraled out of control and into hopelessness and with relief and a cheer I watched Ashya embrace life and grow.

Very well written prose, strong characters and compelling story, this is a great read. Mature themes and heavy situations/relationships make it solidly R-rated and definitely not light fare.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Lynette Eason's A Silent Terror ~ Reviewed

A Silent Terror
By Lynette Eason
Published by Steeple Hill
224 Pages

Back Cover:

Mistaken Identity. When Marianna Santino’s roommate is killed, Detective Ethan O’Hara can’t fathom the motive. Then he realizes the deaf teacher with the intended target. Marianna must have something the murderer desperately wants. But what? Digging for the truth, the guarded cop tries to learn everything he can about Marianna. Her world. Her family. Her beauty, faith,, and fierce independence. In spite of himself, Ethan finds that he can’t keep his feelings at bay. Soon, he’s willing to risk everything—including his heart—to lay the silent terror stalking Marianna to rest.


Marianna works at a state school for the deaf located in Spartanburg, South Carolina - an actual school where the author worked. See how Lynette Eason introduces suspense from the very first page,” Something was wrong. Goose bumps pimpled on Marianna Santino’s suddenly chilled flesh as she walked up her driveway.” This story is filled with action, drama and of course suspense.

What I enjoyed most about this book is how the author dealt with a deaf person living independently and what that looked like. She also delved into the aspects of what they would be aware of, because the deaf relied on other aspects of their senses to get them through their daily tasks - senses that we often didn’t tune into.

I didn’t realize that dogs could be trained to help a deaf person, just like they help blind people be independent. You can tell Lynette has compassion for the deaf as she naturally weaves many aspects of being deaf in a hearing world into this story. The way she wrote about this, made me wonder how she could be so aware of such details. In the back of the book, Lynette talks about teaching at a deaf school, and her compassion for them. The authors attention to details concerning the deaf all made sense to me after reading the author notes.

I enjoyed Marianna and her struggle for independence. Although deaf, she wanted to do all she could to be safe and get to the bottom of who killed her roommate and why. It was a horrible thing to find in her apartment, her friend dead on the floor.

When someone suggests that she have her hearing repaired, Marianna lets them know that God made her the way he did and she was doing just fine with being deaf, thank you very much. Marianna says after someone suggests she fix her hearing, “Anything but to get a cochlear implant. And he’d refused to listen to her or her reasons why she didn’t want one. He didn’t want to risk destroying the hearing she had left. She was also comfortable with her deafness and didn’t need to be “fixed.” It was a concept Curt couldn’t compute and refused to accept that she knew her own mind on this topic.”

This is a who-done-it kind of book it right up until the end. Lynette Eason keeps you guessing the entire time. I’ll definitely have to check out more of Lynette’s books. I like suspense stories.

Reviewed by: Nora St. Laurent
Book Club Servant Leader

Monday, August 17, 2009

Soman and Davis's Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy ~ Reviewed

Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy By David Soman and Jacky Davis
Penguin Books
ISBN: 978080373398
Age Range: For infants or children in preschool

Book Cover:

Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy is a powerful companion to David Soman and Jacky Davis’s playful story about a young heroine who uses a little bit of imagination to go a long way. Inspired by their son and daughter’s playground woes, Mr. Soman and Ms. Davis saw how important issues of friendship and compromise were to children. Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy will teach kids the value of cooperation, negotiation and the significance of teamwork. Ladybug Girl is already a winner in the hearts of children and this next installment is sure to make another timeless tale.

Review by Meg, age 9:

Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy was a good book. I really like the characters Sam and Lulu. I like the kind of friendship they have. In the story they use their imaginations to have fun. I had a great time reading this book.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Kaye Dacus's Menu for Romance ~ Reviewed

Menu for Romance, Brides of Bonneterre Series #2
By: Kaye Dacus
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 320
Vendor: Barbour Publishing
ISBN: 160260455X

Book Description:

After eight years of unrequited love, Meredith Guidry makes a New Year’s resolution to find someone new and end her single status before the year’s over. Executive Chef Major O’Hara has foresworn relationships, knowing he could never saddle the woman he loves with a family situation like his. But when it seems he’s about to lose Meredith Guidry to another man, he realizes he must concoct a MENU FOR ROMANCE to win her back.

Review and rating: 5 of 5 stars

What an enjoyable contemporary romance read! This is a sequel, but easily could be read and loved alone, but if you skip to this one it will make you eager to go back and read the first novel as well. The characters are real and fast to fill into your heart and bring you along on their journey. The story is told from the point of view of two separate characters that each have a bit of personal and spiritual growth that they must go through before they are ready to know what is capable of coming next in life. I strongly recommend this read for the romantic at heart, whether single or not it is an enjoyable and strengthening read.

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Kaye Dacus's Ransome's Honor ~ Reviewed

Ransome's Honor
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 350
Vendor: Harvest House Publishers
ISBN: 0736927530

Book Description:

The Ransome Trilogy from exciting new author Kaye Dacus combines the wit, romance, and social commentary of Jane Austen with the sea-faring adventure of Horatio Hornblower.

July 1814. The war with France has ended, and Captain William Ransome, known for never letting women aboard his ship, has returned to Portsmouth, England. Julia Witherington, considered an old-maid at 29, discovers that she must marry immediately to receive a large dowry. Julia knows that the only man she doesn’t want to marry is William Ransome. And the only man her father will approve of is…William Ransome.

When the couple strikes a financial deal to feign marriage for one year, the adventure begins. These stubborn people face humorous and hard situations that reveal what else they have in common—a growing affection for one another. This intriguing tale of faith and loyalty is a wonderful new offering for readers of all genres.

Review and rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh my! This is the best book that I have read in a while with no exaggeration. In a way it is Persuasion with some Pride and Prejudice as well as a bit of Sense and Sensibility put within. Action, adventure, intrigue, romance, rescue, and true love, edge of the seat, page turning, not able to read fast enough thrills throughout. This novel has all of the great qualities of a fabulous read and reminds me of other stories I have read and loved. Without a doubt this is one for the permanent keeper shelf and I cannot wait for more from the series. This is my first Kaye Dacus, but not my last. I plan to read some of her contemporary series next.

As far as a recommendation for who would like this book... Well it's regency, and deals with the King's Navy. I would relate the adventure and feeling of reading that that of when I read a book by MaryLu Tyndall or Kathleen Y'Barbo. In my opinion, set some time aside when you plan to start this book, because you will be in pain to attempt to set it down and walk away from what happens next! Highly recommended!!!

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cindy Woodsmall's The Hope of Refuge ~ Reviewed

The Hope of Refuge
By Cindy Woodsmall
Published by Water Brook
ISBN# 978-1-4000-7396-2
336 Pages

Back Cover:

Raised in foster care, and now a widowed single parent, New Yorker Cara Moore struggles against poverty, fear, and a relentless stalker. When a trail of memories leads Cara and her daughter, Lori, away from the city toward an Amish community, she follows every lead, eager for answers to mysteries from her past and a fresh start. She quickly discovers that Dry Lake, Pennsylvania, is no place for an outsider. But one Amish man, Ephraim Mast, dares to fulfill the command he believes that he received from God—Be me to her—even though doing so threatens his way of life.

Can an Amish man help Cara find safety in a strange community with complex, unspoken ties to her family history?


Cindy Woodsmall has the unique ability to quickly grab your attention, emotions, and curiosity to whisk you into a wondrous world of her making. This is not your typical Amish story. Her main character Cara is a hard working waitress, a single mom who addicted to cigarettes always looking over her shoulder to flee from a violent stalker. Cara does her best to survive in New York and care for her young daughter Lori, who is her world.

What I love about Cindy’s books is the fact that she talks about universal truths and the lies some believe— things that we all struggle with from time to time—such as feeling abandoned, or a desperate need to be loved and be a part of a community so we can live our life to the fullest. Cara wants answers about her past so that she can figure out which path to take in the future.

Cindy has an uncanny way of letting you feel like you’re a fly on the wall and sensing that nothings being altered because you’re hanging around! She allows you to capture every detail of the drama unfolding in her story, up-close and personal. Ada, an Amish woman, says to Cara (who can’t figure out why anyone would want to be Amish), “We all submit to something. Athletes submit to the rules of their game. Lawyers and judges submit to the laws. The highest court in the land submits to the Constitution….The Amish choose to submit to the Ordnung in order to be strong against desires that want no boundaries.”

Cindy lifts the veil and allows you to peak into the Amish way of life. The Hope of Refuge is the beginning of an amazing tale, with believable characters you’d like to meet. I can’t wait to sit down to read Cindy’s next book, and find out where these special characters end up. The author leaves you with a satisfying ending and a desire to know what happens next. Thanks, Cindy for taking us on another exciting adventure in and out of the Amish community.

Reviewed by: Nora St Laurent

Bonus Review:

Cindy Woodsmall is fast becoming an industry paradigm of character creation. Her heroine, Cara Moore, is vastly different than sweet Hannah, the heroine in Woodsmall's NYT bestselling Sisters of the Quilt series. So much so, I was completely surprised. And yet, I found Cara's story so compelling I fell in love with her and championed her throughout the book.

I'm not a huge fan of Amish books, but Cindy Woodsmall's novels are in a class by themselves. Great stories about characters that will live on in your memory long after you shelve the book. The Hope of Refuge is one of my top picks for 2009. Novel Reviews and I highly recommend it—a 5-star read. It has a permanent place in my personal library.

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan, editor Novel Journey

Monday, August 10, 2009

Anna Dewdney's Llama Llama Misses Mama ~ Reviewed

Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney
Age Range: For infants or children in preschool
ISBN: 978-0-670-06198-3

Book Cover:

Anyone who loves their mama will relate to Llama Llama in this sweet and satisfying story of a child’s first day of school. And with repeated readings, the llama llama in your life will learn the same thing little Llama does. He loves Mama…and school, too!

Review by Meg, age 9:

I like the book Llama Llama Misses Mama. I enjoy the way the story rhymes. The pictures are bright and colorful. I also really like books that have animals as the main characters. But what I like best about this book is how Llama Llama misses his Mama because that’s how I feel too when I’m in one place for a long time without my Mommy.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Chris Fabry's June Bug ~ Reviewed

June Bug
By Chris Fabry
Published by Tyndale

367 Pages

Back Cover:

In Walmart parking lots all across America, RVs are often found at the start of the business day. At most locations, store policy allows limited free parking overnight. One morning, a little girl steps out of one of those RVs and walks to the store. Just inside her eyes are drawn to the missing children board, and she is shocked to recognize her own face. She had no idea she was lost, nor does she know who lost her. She’s never been called by the name on the poster. Her dad calls her June Bug.

This discovery begins a quest for the truth about her father, the mother he rarely speaks about, and ultimately herself. A modern interpretation of Les Miserables, the story follows a dilapidated RV rambling across-country with June Bug and her father, a man running from a haunted past. Forces beyond their control draw them back to Dogwood, West Virginia, down a winding path that will change their lives forever.


June Bug left the finger print of God’s love on my heart and in my mind. I haven’t read anything so riveting and unforgettable since Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.

Chris Fabry has penned a remarkable love story; one that’s filled with sacrifice, hope and forgiveness! Chris takes his time in developing his rich, endearing, three-dimensional characters that seem to jump off the pages and into your heart!

You won’t be able to resist June Bug’s charm, honesty and wonder. You’ll be spell bound by her fun-loving, inquisitive nature. She’s a girl that tells it like she sees it. She’s giving, friendly, and fun listen to. She says, “They say there is a peace that passes all understanding, and that it’s available to anybody who wants it. I believe in Jesus and I know he lives in my heart, …Sometimes having Jesus in your heart makes you feel good all over, like you know there’s somebody who loves you no matter what.”

June Bug discovers the unimaginable in Wal-Mart one day, “When I went back out and looked again, there was no doubt in my mind. That was me up there behind the glass. And I couldn’t figure out a good way to ask Daddy why he had lied to me or why he called me June bug instead of Natalie Edward.”

Chris has an authenticity in his writing style that brings June Bug's childlike innocence to life. Her tale is so dynamic, yet simple it’s like you’re right there experiencing the love, joy, mystery and disappointments right along with her.

You’ll delight in what Chris has created with his vivid array of characters in this powerfully-moving journey of a little girl who discovers her haunting past. June Bug has learned to smell the flowers along this amazing journey with a father that has given up everything to show a great love to her in the middle of what could have been a horrific situation. Don’t rush through this story but savor every page. You’ll want to buy two copies of this book, one to put in your library and one to share with your friends, because you’ll definitely be telling everyone about this fascinating story you stayed up late reading

Reviewed by: Nora St Laurent

Bonus Review:

As I write this review, tears wet my cheeks and my chest trembles from crying. Chris Fabry’s June Bug has touched me deeply, and I will do my best to tell you why.

First I will tell you that June Bug’s reality isn’t so fictional. I learned that last year when I watched six children under the age of eight provide the only comfort and security for one another they’d ever known in their short lives. When an eight-year-old boy is the only person in an eleven-month-old’s life that can bring comfort enough to fall asleep at night, you know beyond a doubt that evil exists in the world. You also realize that giving birth to a child doesn’t touch the heart of some people, and thus some children are born orphans.

June Bug’s life was headed down an evil path and headed toward certain death as certainly as John Johnson’s life hovered on the brink of that same evil abyss. Their lives became forever intertwined, and the seven years they spent together was the purest, sweetest picture of God’s mercy and grace you’ll ever read on paper. I wish all children were loved as deeply and as well as June Bug. The reader picks up June Bug’s story at a tumultuous point in her relationship with John, and the changes that begin to take place take the reader on a journey to the very definition of unconditional love.

On the flip side of John and June Bug’s precious and precarious relationship, there is May, Dana and Leason Edwards. Their story is also hauntingly familiar to me after two years of volunteer work in a residential rehab facility. Again, I shudder to admit that their story reads more as reality to me than fiction, and my heart aches for them. Mae’s tenacious yet fierce hold on God’s hand despite the cruelty of her only child…the unwavering, heart-crushing hope of seeing her only grandchild again…oh, how I longed to comfort her! Yet she was fiercely believing the promise of God’s word – to bring glory out of our sinful choices…to redeem our dark souls – that I eagerly cheered her stalwart faith. I’ve had to walk through some of those desert places in my own life, and so early in the story I grabbed hold of her hope and refused to let go!

I can’t wax eloquent on the story and it’s relationship to Les Miserables – and that embarrasses the English major in me just a little. However, I can tell you most certainly that June Bug will speak to your heart deeply. You will hug those you love a little tighter and thank God for loving you enough to get you through this often painful path of life and bring you to a place where you can trust Him enough to let go.

Still wiping tears…don’t miss this one! June Bug…Chris Fabry….amazing!

Reviewed by: Kim Ford

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Mary Connealy's Montana Rose ~ Reviewed

Montana Rose, Montana Marriages Series #1
By: Mary Connealy
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 320
Vendor: Barbour Publishing
ISBN: 1602601429

Book Description:

Fire up your love of romance with Montana Rose, where Cassie Griffin, a seemingly spoiled pregnant woman, is widowed one day and wedded the next. Marrying handyman Red Dawson seems the only alternative to Cassie’s being hitched to a brutal rancher. But can this “China doll” bear exchanging smooth silk for coarse calico?

Red was reluctant to be yoked to an unbeliever, but sometimes a man has no choice. Will Red change Cassie’s heart by changing her name? Wade Sawyer is obsessed with saving Cassie from a marriage of convenience. How far will he go make her his own?

Review: rating: 5 of 5 stars

Every time that I pick up and read a book from Mary Connealy I am in awe at the topics and issues that are addressed in such a loving and in depth manner. This specific book deals with marriage, courage, abuse, healing, strength, and new faith. The lives of the characters are so real and so easily comparable to real life that it is extremely difficult to remember that it supposedly just a fictitious story in novel format.

Cassie is a woman who was brought up in a closed environment where she was unable to think or be for herself. She was then thrust into a life where the static existence that she formerly knew was practically ripped to shreds as piece by piece she learned to think for herself. Belle is a wounded woman who has endured so much pain at the form of broken hearts in marriage that any hope she once had has dwindled. It is now time for her to either accept the painful defeat of life or find hope in an attempt of grace in action. This book tells the story of Cassie and gets a good foot in the door of the tale behind Belle's life. (Cannot wait for another book in the series to find out more!!)

Many people know and think about abuse and how it is a physical pain, but often they forget about the emotional and spiritual scars that are endured as well. Within this tale, various characters find ways of adapting and moving forward in life from years of proverbial abuse. Some make the right decisions and some do not. Watching these characters and their mistakes and correct actions can cause a reader to grow as well.

This book is filled to the brim with situations where a reader can learn through someone's pain instead of their own. Also in the style of Mary Connealy, conversations and events fill a reader full to giggling whether they want to or not. Their were points where I'm not sure if I should blame my own pregnancy or not for the giggles brought me to tears. For me personally, another best part of this book was reading about two characters and their own experiences with pregnancy. This is the first book with a birth that I have been blessed to read that was more than she's pregnant and in the last chapter has the babe. I was enthralled by the experiences and interactions that it proved to provide with neighbors and spouses.

And now, I impatiently wait for the next book in the series or other from the imaginations of Mary Connealy!!

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

John Flanagan's The Siege of Macindaw ~ Reviewed

The Siege of Macindaw
By John Flanagan
Philomel books
ISBN: 978-0-399-25033-0

Book Cover:

After years as a Ranger’s apprentice, Will is now the protector of his first fief. Not long into his service, everything that can go wrong does: Keren, a renegade knight, has taken over Castle Macindaw, a strategic gateway to the North—poisoning the royal family in the process—and is holding Will’s friend Alyss captive. The situation grows direr when Will uncovers Keren’s secret alliance with the Scotti, who have plans to plunder Araluen. Time is of the essence, and Will must recruit a motley crew to rescue Alyss and reclaim Castle Macindaw—before the Scotti can make it their own.


The kingdom is in danger. Renegade knight Sir Keren has succeeded in overtaking Castle Macindaw and now is conspiring with the Scotti. The fate of Araluen rests in the hands of two young adventurers: the Ranger Will and his warrior friend, Horace.

Yet for Will, the stakes are even higher. For inside Castle Macindaw, held hostage, is someone he loves.

For this onetime apprentice, the time to grow up is now.

The New York Times best-selling series continues its breathless pace in this dramatic new chapter.

Three thumbs up, six stars, eleven out of ten. This book was incredible. The Siege of Macindaw was the perfect extension to the fifth book the Sorcerer in the North, leaving the reader content, but still dying for more. It contains war, magic, action, and extreme intensity. There was nothing I can think of that would make this book better. As I said before, eleven out of ten.

Review by Reid, Age 12

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Robert Liparulo's Timescape~ Reviewed

Timescape (Dreamhouse Kings #4)
by Robert Liparulo
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (July 14, 2009)
ISBN-10: 159554500X

Book Cover:

David, Xander, and Toria King never know what new adventures-and dangers-await them beyond the mysterious portals hidden on the top floor of their new house. They have battled gladiators and the German army, dodged soldiers on both sides of the Civil War, and barely escaped a fierce attack in their own home.

Still they are not closer to finding their mother, who was pulled by powerful forces through a portal and lost in time.

Their only hope is to turn the tables on Taksidian, the menacing stranger who wants them out of the house so he can use it for his own twisted purposes.

But everything changes when a trip into the near future reveals the devastating outcome of Taksidian’s schemes-a destroyed city filled with mutant creatures. It is only then that the Kings realize what they’re really fighting for—the fate of humanity itself.

Read the first
And if you'd like a chance to win a free copy. Click here.

Review: Reid A. - Pre-teen book reviewer

Timescape continues the INCREDIBLE youth thriller series Dreamhouse Kings. I’m not the kind of guy who usually likes thrillers, and I usually go for fantasy, fiction, and action. But this series had just enough of each to draw my interest, and I’m so glad it did because this series went into my top five. And that’s saying something considering how much I read. This book griped my attention so tight that all I did for two days was read. I’ve read and reviewed the entire series, and I LOVE them all. READ THEM!

Bonus Review:

Liparulo's Dreamhouse Kings series seems to be intensifying rather than slowing to a conclusion. As the story grows, so does my interest. I find myself turning the pages quicker and becoming more and more concerned for a large group of people as the evil plans of the house and the man who wants it desperately become even more menacing.

There are very intense, scenes in this book including a visit to a village during a berserker raid. If you don't know what a berserker is, you will find out in the book, though you may not really want to know. Shudder. Sensitive children may not be able to handle the intensity and suspense. However, mature kids who don't struggle with nightmares should really dig into the story that has three young protagonists who were attempting to save their family and now look like they may be required to save the entire world.

Spiritual themes are light and more implied than spelled out so there is very little preaching.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Monday, August 03, 2009

ACFW August Books

1. All That Glitters, Scenarios for Girls, book 2, by Nicole O’Dell from Barbour Publishing. The reader will decide if Drew Daniels does the right thing when sudden popularity causes her to forget about things that were once important to her.

2. Forgiven, Sisters of the Heart Series, Book 3, by Shelley Shepard Gray from Avon Inspire, a division of Harper Collins Publishing. Tragedy strikes when a brother and sister find themselves facing two difficult situations.

3. Surrender the Wind, by Rita Gerlach from Abingdon Press. When a patriot of the American Revolution inherits his grandfather's estate in England, he inherits more than a crumbling manor house.

4. Sweet Waters, Otter Bay Series Book 1, by Julie Carobini from B&H Publishing Group. Sweet Waters is the story of a newly-jilted woman who talks her sisters into moving back to their hometown only to discover family secrets that threaten the fairy tale image she'd always had.

5. The Blue Enchantress, the Charles Towne Belles Series book 2, by MaryLu Tyndall from Barbour. An adventure-seeking woman and a security-minded captain are shipwrecked together.

6. The Last Woman Standing, by Tia McCollors from Moody. A man, his woman, and his ex-wife search for love again.

7. Truth or Dare, Senarios for Girls Book 1, by Nicole O’Dell from Barbour. Peer pressure threatens to drive Lindsay Martin to doing something she doesn't want to do; the reader will decide.

8. Under the Tulip Poplar, by Diane Ashley and Aaron McCarver from Heartsong Presents. When Rebekah Taylor and Asher Landon struggle to find their ways to the other, will they allow God to direct bring their separate dreams together as one?

9. You Make Me Feel Like Dancing, Book #1 in the VA VA VA BOOM series, by Allison Bottke from David C. Cook. When life is a dance and Disco is a state of mind, it’s Mamma Mia goes Vegas!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Rita Gerlach's Surrender the Wind ~ Reviewed

Surrender The Wind
By Rita Gerlach
Abingdon Press
Release Date: August 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4267-0072-9

Review by Michelle Griep

American Revolutionary patriot Seth Braxton is torn between the land he shed his blood for and the prospect of reuniting with his sister Caroline, who was a motherless child taken to England at the onset of the war.

With no intention of staying permanently, Seth arrives in Devonshire to find his sister grieving over the death of her young son. In the midst of such tragedy, Seth meets Juleah, the daughter of an eccentric landed gentleman. Her independent spirit and gentle soul steal Seth’s heart, enraging the man who once sought her hand and schemed to make Ten Width, the ancestral home of Seth’s loyalist grandfather, his own.

Will Seth and Juleah’s love and faith survive a sinister plot of murder, abduction, and betrayal? You’ll have to read it yourself to find out.

As much as I enjoyed getting to know the hero/heroine, what I like most about Rita Gerlach’s writing is her characterization of secondary characters. Sir Henry is the heroine’s father, and though he plays a small but significant part in the story, I looked forward to scenes that included him. His off-the-wall antics and dialogue are due to dementia, which gives one a certain sympathy for the old fellow, but nonetheless are pretty humorous.

Liking Sir Henry is as easy as hating Constable Latterbuck. Bluntly stated, he’s a schmuck. Gerlach’s portrayal of him is as complete as if he were a main character, which pulled me more into the story.

I have to admit there is one point in the story where I skipped to the end just to make sure a character I loved would survive. Without giving it away, the point is that Gerlach includes plenty of action throughout.

Surrender the Wind is a release from the new fiction line at Abingdon Press. I applaud Abingdon’s daring for publishing historicals that aren’t limited to Americana. I am anxious to read a variety of Abingdon’s different eras and settings, and of course…more from author Rita Gerlach!

Bonus Review:

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The language and imagery in this book is enough to have me craving for more from author Rita Gerlach. The one downfall to this book was that I felt that things went so fast and there was not always enough depth as I would like, but with a 400 page book and so many things happening, one can only fit in so many words. Bringing forth the best of an English native land as well as a post-Revolutionary America hosts an exciting setting for this story of romance, betrayal, heart break, and adventure. The interweaving of the characters past, present, and future is beautiful and believable. I loved the main character and it was so good to have a book that followed a man's point of view for once instead of a woman.

I am really excited about the new publishing house of Abingdon Press and this cover is absolutely to die for!

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind