Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Michelle Sutton's It's Not About Him ~ Reviewed

It's Not About Him (A Second Glances Novel, #2)
Michelle Sutton
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 321 pages
Publisher: Sheaf House; 1st edition (September 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0979748577


Susie passed out while drinking at Jeff’s party and later discovered she’s pregnant. She has no idea who the father is and considers having an abortion, but instead decides to place her baby for adoption. Following through ends up being more wrenching than she imagined, but she’s determined to do the right thing for her baby.

Jeff feels guilty that Susie was taken advantage of at his party and offers to marry her so she won’t have to give up her baby, like his birth mother did with him. But Susie refuses, insisting he should he marry someone he loves. Can he convince her that his love is genuine before it’s too late? Can she make him understand that it’s not about him—it’s about what’s best for her child?

If you would like to read the prologue and first chapter of It's Not About Him, go HERE


In the second in the Second Glances series Michelle Sutton powers up the romance and the intense themes. With a solid Christian worldview that doesn't excuse poor choices nor pretend that they don't exist, Sutton tackles rape, pregnancy, sexuality, alcohol and the consequences of those choices/scenarios.

When the world feeds our kids and teens the fast food menu board of sex without disease, pregnancy, heartbreak and cynicism, we occasionally need a little help getting the truth across. Sutton does this with her drama-infused, angst-driven characters. Adults can talk all they want to about why teens might want to consider thinking and waiting before jumping into the deep end of the pool with everyone else, but sometimes teens need to be able to hear it from someone, even a fictional someone, who's been there.

I recommend this book with some reservation. Nothing in the book is heavier than what can be found on television, but if your teen is sheltered and used to reading gentler novels, you may want to read it first. However, if you want to fight back against the sex-saturated culture teens are immersed in, this is a great place to start.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Joyce Magnin's The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow ~ Reviewed

The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow (Paperback)
by Joyce Magnin
Paperback: 398 pages
Publisher: Abingdon Press (September 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1426701640

Book Description:

The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow is the story of an unusual woman, Agnes Sparrow. No longer able or willing to leave her home, where she is cared for by her long-suffering sister Griselda, Agnes has committed her life to the one thing she can do-besides eat. Agnes Sparrow prays and when Agnes prays things happen, including major miracles of the cancer, ulcer-healing variety along with various minor miracles not the least of which is the recovery of lost objects and a prize-winning pumpkin.

The rural residents of Bright's Pond are so enamored with Agnes they plan to have a sign erected on the interstate that reads, "Welcome to Bright's Pond, Home of Agnes Sparrow." This is something Agnes doesn't want and sends Griselda to fight city hall.

Griselda's petitions are shot down and the sign plans press forward until a stranger comes to town looking for his miracle from Agnes. The truth of Agnes's odd motivation comes out when the town reels after a shocking event. How could Agnes allow such evil in their midst? Didn't she know?

Well, the prayers of Agnes Sparrow have more to do with Agnes than God. Agnes has been praying to atone for a sin committed when she was a child. After some tense days, the townsfolk, Griselda, and Agnes decide they all need to find their way back to the true source of the miracles-God.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow, go HERE


Solid, engaging writing and strong characters bring added readability to one of the more unique story lines I've read this year. A seven-hundred pound woman prays for her town. It's all she can do since she is housebound due to her size and medical conditions. The townspeople benefit from those prayers -- several healings take place and Agnes becomes a hero and a vending machine for blessings. Her neighbors bring a never ending supply of food and Agnes eats and prays and eats and prays.

But underneath the safety of her layers of insulation lies a secret that changes everything.

This story is thought-provoking. Many Christians and religious folks have a tendency to idolize servants rather than the God who gives power and bestows blessings. We also tend toward judging those who are different or have experiences different from ours. And then the biggest question of can a woman so grossly entrenched in the sin of gluttony be a woman whose prayers are answered so abundantly?

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Monday, September 28, 2009

Terry Brennan's The Sacred Cipher ~ Reviewed

The Sacred Cipher: History's Greatest Secret Could Be Tomorrow's Greatest Threat
By: Terry Brennan
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 352
Vendor: Kregel Publications
Publication Date: 2009

Product Description

Tom Bohannon is intrigued when an ancient scroll appears in a secret room of the Bowery Mission in New York City. The enigma of the scroll's contents sends Bohannon and his team ricocheting around the world, drawing the heat of Jewish and Muslim militaries---and bringing the Middle East to the brink of nuclear war! 352 pages, softcover from Kregel.


When I first heard about this book, “The Sacred Cipher,” it was pitched to me as a Christian version of an Indiana Jones type book that deals with history and the unlocking of secrets potentially back to Biblical times. It is set in three cities and two eras. I must say I loved the Indiana Jones movies of the past. With this book potentially being a Christian version of that was exciting to hear and I wanted to read it.

After beginning to read this book, I was even more interested in it as it told about Charles Haddon Spurgeon being a part of the story. While this is a book of fiction, the usage of the real life historical figures such as Mr. Spurgeon, Sir Edward Elgar, and Dr. Louis Klopsch makes it a more intriguing read than unknowns pursuing this lofty seemingly uncrackable cipher. A cipher called the “Rosetta Stone” was not cracked for many centuries. “The Sacred Cipher” feels so real, believable, and it could happen in our lifetime.

Since finishing this debut work by Terry Brennan, the impression left is a good one. When I read more about Mr. Brennan on the back cover, I was struck with the thought that Terry Brennan could be Tom Bohannon. This novel could really be Mr. Brennan’s adventure and the hopes that he could one day unlock something of biblical proportions like The Sacred Cipher. Mr. Brennan’s writing made me feel that I was one of his tagalong researchers learning and becoming a fan of this group whether as the computer geek or mister know it all Dr. Johnson.

For those that don’t want to see everything and how they went from point A to point B, this can be a turn off. If you removed an e-mail text message from Kallie Nolan in her research from the beginning explaining everything detailing with the Temple Mount’s history in Jerusalem and a Jewish ruler named Abiathar in Jerusalem and a few other little areas, you could shorten this book to be under 300 pages.

My hope for Mr. Brennan, in the future, is more of this same type of writing so a new saga in the realms of Indiana Jones or King Solomon’s Mines is begun and maintained. It will be cool to follow the adventures of Tom Bohannon and his quest to unlock more secrets of this world from a Christian point of view. How about Noah’s Ark and its possible find… or the lost city of Atlantis… or other lost civilizations to bring Christian and Jewish cultures into a more clear HD focus from the Bible dealing with possible end of the world scenarios if you are interested in those stories?

In closing, I think the historically minded and end of world interested people might really like this. Especially those who like Joel Rosenberg’s books, Tim Lahaye and Jerry B. Jenkins’s Left Behind series, and Larry Burkett’s “The Illuminati” book.

Be blessed!

Reviewed by: Bradley Evans

Friday, September 25, 2009

Christina Berry's the Familiar Stranger ~ Reviewed

Familiar Stranger
by Christina Berry
Published by Moody Publishers
ISBN-13: 978-0-8024-4731-9


A fresh start or a double-cross? Why is Craig so cold and distant? Denise wonders. Is it his job? The family? Or is it me? Though she’s poured her heart into her marriage, years of enduring his long hours, frequent times away, and short temper have left her with a deep sadness.

Then one morning in the middle of church her cell phone rings. Embarrassed, she heads to the lobby, takes the call...and is shocked by the news she hears. Craig’s been in an accident.

So begins their fresh start. While keeping vigil by his bedside she wills herself to make their marriage work, whatever the cost. And when Craig finally regains consciousness, he appears to want the same thing - except for one detail. He doesn’t know who she is.

Nor does he remember anything about their life, their children, or why he was parked on the side of the freeway when the accident occurred. As he struggles to recall the past, he also shows a new love for Denise characterized by tender strength and consideration. So what is she to do when ugly betrayals emerge? Is it possible to forgive a man who thoroughly violated her trust? How many more lies and secrets are yet to be discovered?

And then, without warning, his memories come flooding back...


2009 has been a year of some wonderful debut novels, and Christina Berry has penned one of the best. A work of contemporary fiction, The Familiar Stranger’s complex plot is filled with the twists and red herrings of an Agatha Christie mystery. The answer came so far out of left field, Agatha wouldn’t have predicted it. Engaging characters, cunning, and quicksilver emotions add up to a story that held me hostage, spellbound to the end. Novel Reviews and I give it our highest recommendation.

Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan

Bonus Review:

I’m so thankful I received this book as a gift. Christina grabbed my attention on the very first page. I read this book in one day! I was drawn into the characters and their situation hook, line and sinker. Christina Berry starts out the first chapter in the point of view of Craig Littleton, Denise’s husband. In the next chapter, Christina describes the very same scene from Denise’s point of view. This added such richness to the story, knowing each person feelings, what they were really communicating when they talked to one other, and how each viewed their marriage situation. I love it. It brought depth to this heart felt, touching story, where I sympathized with the characters and the dilemma’s they faced.

After a serious accident, Denise discovers unbelievable things about her husband. Can all these things be true? Married twenty years, how could she not have known any of this?

God was asking the impossible from Denise. Her Pastor asked her these three questions. “1. Are you angry? 2. Do you love him? 3. The hardest. Are you going to forgive him?"

Denise responds, "Forgive him again, you mean. How can I?”

I was fascinated and intrigued by this unforgettable story of deceit, betrayal, forgiveness and true love. I couldn’t put it down. I can’t believe this is Christina Berry’s first novel. She's an author to watch; I can’t wait to see what she writes about next. You’ll be wondering too.

Nora St.Laurent
Finding Hope Through Fiction

Bonus Review:

The characters and the drama of a marriage-on-the brink pulled me into this story immediately. Good writing and a twisting, intriguing plot line kept me turning pages. Though not perfect this is a terrific debut novel. Some pacing issues and some slight characterization quirks caused me to pause a bit. I also didn't find the details of some aspects of the story to be completely believable, there are some "but" moments.

Denise and Craig are in a cold war. Their marriage has degenerated to the point that polite, simple sentences are the only safe communication. The reasons that this relationship is so strained becomes apparent as the story unfolds.

The story begins as Craig is preparing to do something permanent to take care of this situation. But there is an accident. Then Craig wakes up with amnesia. Yes. I know, very soap opera...but by this point I was invested in the story and the writing. Denise and Craig discover that the puzzle pieces don't fall into place at all. As a matter of fact there seems to be a never ending pile of puzzle pieces. The story twists and turns from there.

There is a pretty strong faith element within the book.

By the time the novel resolved I was satisfied. I will be eager to read the next book Berry cooks up.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dan Walsh's The Unfinished Gift ~ Reviewed

The Unfinished Gift
By Dan Walsh
Published by Revell, Sept. 2009
ISBN 978-0-8007-1924-1


Patrick Collins is seven years old, and on his Christmas list are only three items. He wants the army to find his father. He wants to leave his grandfather's house. And for reasons eve her doesn't understand, he wants the soldier that's tucked away in his grandfather's attic.


Set in 1943, The Unfinished Gift is an engaging story of broken relationships and sorrow. Patrick is the age when a child still forgives easily and responds to love without reserve. While Walsh portrays that side, we also see Patrick as a little boy moved by a child's whims.

Patrick's grandfather is a bitter man who has cut off his son and his family. When Patrick arrives on his doorstep, he has no idea what to do with him. The child's very presence brings to the surface long-buried pain.

The social worker assigned to Patrick's case has fallen in love with the little boy. I don't like to give much of the story away in reviews but allow the reader to experience what I have as the story unfolds. Suffice it to say, Walsh resisted romantic clichés.

What he did do is make me cry and rob me of a good night's sleep. I couldn't put the book down. The Unfinished Gift is a satisfying, nostalgic read, one of forgiveness and restoration, of hope and faith. An exquisite debut novel. Novel Journey/Reviews gives it 4½ stars.

Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan, editor, Novel Journey

Monday, September 21, 2009

Charlene Ann Baumbich's Stray Affections ~ Reviewed

Stray Affections
By Charlene Ann Baumbich
Published by WaterBrook Press
308 Pages

Back Cover:

Cassandra Higgins, daycare provider and mother to four little boys, is at a Collectors’ Convention when she’s utterly charmed by a one-of-a-kind snow globe containing figures of three dogs and a little with hair the color of her own.

She can’t resist buying the beautiful globe, and it begins to spark long-dormant memories for Cassandra, of her beloved grandpa, the stray she rescued as a child, and the painful roots strangling her relationship with her mother,” Bad Betty” Kamrowski. When a strange—flurrious, as Cassandra deems it—moment happens with the remarkable snow globe, Cassandra and the people she loves are swirling into a tumultuous yet grace-filled journey. Stray Affections invites you to experience the laughter and the healing of second chances.


….”Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness. Let the bones which Thou hast broken rejoice,” Charlene starts her book out quoting Psalm 51:6-8 and begins to bring some of that scripture to life inside the pages of this book.

This story is nestled in the middle of a quaint town where you discover friends and their families you’ll just adore. I loved how Carlene shows the funny, honest and serious side of family relationships and how they can work together. I believe it’s only by the grace of God that we can bloom and grow where we are planted. It takes courage to face your fears and let God have his way in your life, and in the lives of the people you are in relationship with.

The main character Cassandra heads out to a Collectors’ Convention alone. Her best friend Margaret cancels at the last minute. Her husband Ken encourages her to go anyway. He’s got the kids, she needs take a break from lifes routine; go out and have fun. Little did she know how that little trip would change her life? Are we ever ready for when God intercedes on our behalf to put us on the path He would have us be on? Letting go and letting God be in control is not something any of us feel comfortable doing. Cassandra soon learns this on her trip.

Will Ken and Cassandra trust God to work all things out for His glory and their good? You’ll want to read this story and join in the mystery and fun as the author weaves a tale of healing, unconditional love, and second chances. You’ll want to read Charlene Ann Baumbich’s Dearest Dorothy series, with quirky, close-knot Midwestern small-town feel characters you’ll grow fond of just like the ones in this book.

Reviewed by: Nora St. Laurent - Finding Hope Through Fiction
Book Club Servant Leader

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Donald Miller's A Million Miles in a Thousand Years ~ Reviewed

NOTE: We don't generally post reviews of non-fiction...hence the title...Novel Reviews. However, because there is such a strong how-to element in this non-fiction memoir, I felt it would be beneficial to novelists.

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life (Hardcover)
Donald Miller
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (September 29, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0785213066

Product Description:

Full of beautiful, heart-wrenching, and hilarious stories, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years details one man's opportunity to edit his life as if he were a character in a movie.

Years after writing a best-selling memoir, Donald Miller went into a funk and spent months sleeping in and avoiding his publisher. One story had ended, and Don was unsure how to start another.

But he gets rescued by two movie producers who want to make a movie based on his memoir. When they start fictionalizing Don's life for film--changing a meandering memoir into a structured narrative--the real-life Don starts a journey to edit his actual life into a better story. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years details that journey and challenges readers to reconsider what they strive for in life. It shows how to get a second chance at life the first time around.

My Review:

Donald Miller writes about what he knows. And what he knows best are his experiences, his thoughts and his life.

What makes Miller's thoughts, experiences and life out of the ordinary and compelling enough to plunk down the plastic or click "add to cart" is the way that Miller shapes and shares those thoughts, experiences and life.

Every one of us has had rough stuff happen, or been able to say "No fair!" or thrown our own pity party. Right? Miller takes it a step beyond and puts his tough things through his thought digestive system and analyzes what he finds like a scientist might catalog cell details. And what Miller's data reveals is, at worst, thought-provoking and at best life shaping. With simplistic language, self-deprecating anecdotes and brutal honesty, Miller lays out his struggles, his beliefs, even his neuroses for all to learn from, critique and even mock. In my opinion, this makes him a bit of a hero. Most of us spend our lives trying to cover up who we fear we might actually be under the layers of make-up, education, designer clothing or even scathing wit.

I have not completely read Blue Like Jazz. I've read portions and based on what I did read purchased copies of his works and given them away, so I can't compare Blue to Million Miles. I can tell you that there is an up and down faith struggle portrayed on the pages of Million Miles and Miller's father issues play a part in the unfolding drama, both familiar territory. But I believe the virgin landscape for Miller might be the refining struggles caused by the success of Blue and the expectations that came from becoming a New York Times Bestseller. Miller shares his struggle and the subsequent growth in a series of mini-stories that shaped him into a very different man.

Writers will discover that this book will help put Robert McKee's epic "Story" into easy to grasp segments, and at times Million Miles almost reads like a writing how-to. Very conservative or fault-finding Christians will probably be able to find a few statements that rattle the God-box and possibly cause them to make strong statements. Strugglers who are looking for hope and who are sick and tired of being sick and tired may find something of value to grasp onto and to use as inspiration to write a better story for themselves. I will be buying several copies of this title for many people who will benefit from Miller's experiences and unique ability to digest and regurgitate profound and simplistic truth.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Kathleen Y'Barbo's The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper ~ Reviewed

The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper
By Kathleen Y’Barbo
Published by: Water Brook
344 Pages

Back Cover:

The future is clearly mapped out for New York socialite Eugenia, “Gennie” Cooper, but she secretly longs to slip into the boots of her favorite dime-novel heroine and experience just one adventure before settling down. When the opportunity arises, Gennie jumps at the chance to experience the Wild West, but her plans go awry when she is drawn into the lives of silver baron Daniel Beck and his daughter and finds herself caring for them more than is prudent—especially as she’s supposed to go back to New York and marry another man.

As Gennie adapts to the rough-and-tumble world of 1880’s Colorado, she must decide whether her future lies with the enigmatic Daniel Beck or back home with the life planned for her since birth. Will Daniel’s past—and disgruntled miners bent on revenge—take that choice away from her?


Kathleen Y’Barbo has cleverly written two stories in one. In the beginning of each chapter, I was captured by the character Mae Winslow, Woman of the West. I was delighted to read about of her wild adventures, going where no woman would normally go. Then after a paragraph or so of Mae Winslow’s story, the author jumps into Gennie’s story, a woman secretly seeking the adventures Mae Winslow was having. It was great fun to read their Wild West adventures side by side. Gennie really cracked me up in parts when this refined woman tries to be all tough and brave like her hero Mae Winslow.

Gennie’s desperate for adventure and grabs an opportunity to throw social graces to the wind and follow her dreams. Mae Winslow, says in the beginning of the book “Sometimes what a person wishes for is neither what they really want nor what they need. Sometimes, it’s the wishing that’s the best part.” Often times this is true, don’t you think?

Gennie just had to find out what it would feel like to have an adventure. She couldn’t let anyone know or they would have her stopped immediately.

I loved the part when Gennie is trying to send a telegram home to explain what she has done “Of course, she’d have to explain to Hester why she’d gone off, but that was easily accomplished. She’d plead temporary insanity by reason of dime novels.”

Mae Winslow’s character says, “A woman is either in want of a husband or wanting to rid herself of one. That had been Mae’s opinion until Henry crashed into her life.”

This story captivated me. I was totally taken with all the twists, turns and misunderstandings of society that Gennie and Mr. Beck find themselves in the middle of. I smiled all the way through this novel and laughed out loud in parts. This is a story about a Wild West Adventure and so much more. I have to say this book was fun, fun, fun from beginning until the end. So grab your copy and enjoy Wild West Adventures of the female kind.

Reviewed by: Nora St. Laurent - Finding Hope Through Fiction -
Book Club Servant Leader

Monday, September 14, 2009

Michelle Sutton's Danger at the Door e-book ~ Reviewed

Danger at the Door e-book
Michelle Sutton
Desert Breeze Publishing Inc.

About the book:

Upon her fiancé's death, Laney became a recluse who only left her home for emergencies. She managed to survive - barely - on food delivery service and her work-at-home job. When she tries to move on from her grief, the commemorative meal she orders is ruined. However, it leads to an unlikely friendship with an attractive man, Bojan, who speaks little English.

As he befriends Laney he continually says the wrong things, but he doesn't give up trying to win her trust. Meanwhile, she has this strange feeling of being watched and wonders if she's losing her mind.

Complicating things further, every time she leaves her house something bad happens, confirming that she is safer at home. Can Bojan convince Laney she'll be safe with him, or will his presence put her in further danger? Will he be able to protect the woman he loves before it's too late?

If you would like to read the Prologue and first Chapter of Danger At The Door, go HERE


Michelle Sutton has tried her hand at a grown-up romantic suspense with success. Basic plot - nearly agoraphobic heroine meets charmingly bumbling foreigner at her front door. Unknown to them a psycho stalker is just beyond that same door waiting for his chance to pounce.

Sutton is heavy on the romance for those who want a heart flutter in nearly every scene. I was charmed by Bojan "Bob" and his grasp or lack thereof of the English language. Those who want their heroes to be a great blend of Antonio and Gilligan should find much to like in the interactions.

I also found the bad guy to be sufficiently creepy.

Overall, the fast pace kept me turning "pages" or clicking through them actually. Sutton has proven that she knows her romance and can write for young and slightly more mature romance lovers.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Maggie Brendan's No Place for a Lady ~ Reviewed

No Place for a Lady
By Maggie Brendan
Published by: Revell
303 Pages

Back Cover:

Longing for a new start, Crystal Clark arrives amid the splendor of the high country in June 1892. After the death of her father, Crystal is relieved to be leaving the troubles of her Georgia life behind to visit her aunt’s cattle ranch. Despite being raised as a proper Southern belle, Crystal is determined to hold her own in this wild land—even if a certain handsome foreman named Luke doubts her abilities.

Just when she thinks she’s getting a handle on the constant male attention from the cowhands and the catty barbs from some of the local young women tragedy strikes. And saving the ranch from a greedy neighboring landowner means Crystal must take charge of a cattle drive, ready or not. Can she rise to the challenge? Or will she head back to Georgia defeated?


Maggie Brendan’s description of the beautiful Colorado Rockies made me feel like I was there. Since I live in Georgia, it was a thrill to have Crystal, the main character, remember her home in Atlanta and the things she missed there.

Crystal did remind me of Scarlett O’Hara who is a survivor, a southern belle. The big difference between the two is Crystal loved the Lord with all her heart, soul and mind. Life in Colorado was so foreign to her and she didn’t know if she could adjust. I loved how Maggie had the bantering between Luke and Crystal—here is a glimpse into their many discussions.

“How about life and children?” Crystal asked Luke.

“Yessiree, I want them. But it will take a strong and determined woman who would have to make sacrifices till we get on our feet. What I need, Miss Clark is a partner.”

“Sounds like you want a workhorse to me,” Her eyes flashed.

“Afraid of hard work? Listen, little missy, this part of the country was founded on hardworking men and women. They had big dreams. Some didn’t make it, but I intend to. It’s pure struggle against the elements and nature just to survive, but that’s par of the challenge, and I like a challenge.”

She’d never be anyone’s workhorse, and that she could count on."

Maggie describes the struggle against nature and other unforeseen elements people have to deal with living in the Colorado Rockies. I really enjoyed this light hearted romance. Crystal discovers that she can do all things though Christ who strengthens her. This is a delightful story of a women finding her way in life and falling in love with more things than just the Colorado Rockies; she’s even surprised how life turns out. I really look forward to other stories by this author. It’s a good old western romance story.

Reviewed by: Nora St. Laurent
Christian Fiction On-line Mag - Columnist

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Shepherd & Eversons' Taste of Fame ~ Reviewed

The Potluck Catering Club: A Taste of Fame
By Linda Evans Shepherd & Eva Marie Everson
Published by Revell
ISBN 976-0-8007-3209-7


Is America ready to meet the Potluck Catering Club on reality TV?

The women of the Potluck Catering Club have a growing business. They even became the subject of a budding filmmaker's class project. Problem is, they didn't read the fine print when they signed off on his documentary. When he enters the club in the reality show The Great Party Showdown, the ladies of Summit View, Colorado, must head to the Big Apple for the unexpected adventure of their lives.

Between navigating New York City, dealing with cutthroat contestants, and trying to maintain their close friendship in the surreal world of reality TV, the Potluck women must keep their eyes on the prize--a cool million dollars--and work together if they're going to make it back home in one piece.


The latest of the Potluck Catering Club series, A Taste of Fame is the best one yet! Evie is still irascible as ever and continues to butt heads with the flamboyant Lisa Leanna, who is organizing everyone with the confidence of a four-star general. Whichever your favorite character is, these ladies enter a catering contest reality show, basting and battering New York to its knees. This rollicking adventure is a four star read and Novel Reviews and I give it a high recommendation.

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan
Editor, Novel Journey

Monday, September 07, 2009

Gilbert Morris's Honor in the Dust ~ Reviewed

Honor in the Dust: A Novel
by Gilbert Morris
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Howard Books (August 25, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1416587460
Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches

Book Description:

In the moral confusion of the court of King Henry VIII, young Stuart Winslow has many choices to make -- and lives depend on what he will choose.

Born in poverty when his father was forced to choose between the woman he loved and the wealth of his aristocratic family, the determined Stuart Winslow will go to any lengths to improve his social position. When his skills in weapons design and falconry secure a place for him in the court of King Henry VIII, he quickly learns that the court is really a wicked cauldron of vices, power plays, and temptations -- some of them very much to his liking.

When William Tyndale, an acquaintance of Stuart's, makes it known that his ambition is to translate the Bible into the language of the common man, the king opposes Tyndale's efforts and sentences him to death. If Stuart opposes the king in this, he will share the same fate. Is he willing to risk death at the stake for the sake of Christ? And how will he choose between the innocent Heather, who has long loved him, and the courtwise Nell?

In Honor in the Dust, bestselling author Gilbert Morris beautifully captures the tone of the Tudor period, chronicling the period's excesses with skill and prudence. But like Morris's other novels, this book also contrasts those excesses with the godly behavior of characters such as William Tyndale. In this captivating historical drama, Stuart Winslow is caught between two worlds: one that promises material and worldly success and one that promises salvation. Is his faith strong enough to withstand such a challenge?

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"Honor in the Dust" is my first experience reading a book by Gilbert Morris if you can believe that with my loving Christian Historical Fiction, but you can believe that it will not be my last. This being a prequel for a previous Winslow Series, I am excited that there are already some books for me to jump back to as well as being excited for the rest of the Winslow Breed series to come in 2010 and 2011. Set in England in the time period of King Henry VIII makes an interesting background as the story goes through two generations and really brings a reader to care about the families and individual characters involved, one can really see the young men grow and blossom in their relationships.

There are many themes in this book. Besides from being a good read overall, there are lessons available to learn. From similarities in life to Biblical lessons to trying to hold strong in ones "honor" in a temptation arena, the challenges are realistic and hard. With historical characters such as Queen Catherine, King Henry VIII, and William Tyndale make it very interesting. There is sword play and adventure, betrayal and romance, espionage and disguise and a dozen other features that make this an all around enjoyable read.

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Karen Hancock's The Enclave ~ Reviewed

The Enclave
By Karen Hancock
Published by Bethany House
492 Pages

Back Cover:

When Lacey McHenry accepts a prestigious research fellowship at the world-renowned Kendall-James Longevity Institute, she sees it as a new start on life. But when a disturbing late-night encounter with a bizarre intruder leads to a cover-up by Institute authorities, she soon realizes all isn’t as it seems.

Caught in an elaborate game of deception and seduction, her only ally seems to be the brilliant but absent-minded geneticist, Cameron Reinheart. A favorite of the Institute’s charismatic director, Cameron, too, came to K-J hoping to escape his past. But the more he learns about Lacey’s attacker, the more he fears that the past still pursues him.

Not certain they can trust each other, Cameron and Lacey reluctantly work together to uncover the shocking secrets that lurk behind the Institute’s respectable façade-secrets that turn out to be bigger, stranger, and far more dangerous than either of them could have imagined.


What an amazing adventure I’ve just experienced reading The Enclave. I felt like I was watching a sci-fi movie as I read this book. It reminded me a little of John Grisham’s book The Firm, where this law firm kept tabs on their employees’ lives and wanted to control them in the end. It also reminded me a little bit of The Matrix, in the way things were created and operated in another world. And finally, it reminded me of Alien, and those hideous creatures and their slime.

This story was not like anything I’ve ever read. I had heard that Karen Hancock had a gift for writing science fiction and that’s what made me want to read The Enclave, in the first place. I’m happy to report that my sources were right; this book is suspenseful, imaginative, and scary (but not too scary), as she took on the topic of cloning and all its ramifications.

The author has one of her characters say this,”..Remember that just because someone holds an opinion different from your own, they must still be treated with respect.”

I think that Karen Hancock respects others opinions throughout her story. I’m not a science-fiction reader but this one drew me in and made me think about my faith. It also helped me see how to respect others I live with in this world.

Cam the geneticist says to his boss, “What do you want from me?”

“I want your mind, son. I want your heart and soul and strength…I just want your loyalty, Cameron. I want you to believe me when I say I have your very best interests at heart and trust that I know what I’m doing. And I want you to share my vision.”

I couldn’t believe that in the middle of life threatening situations, her action figures were contemplating what God would have them do next. It was great!! You just have to read this story to get the full affect. It’s hard to describe in just a few words. This book will definitely take you to most intriguing places you’ve never been before or even thought existed. All I can say about this book is what a great trip to “infinity and beyond.”

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent Finding Hope Through Fiction

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Tracie Peterson's A Dream to Call My Own ~ Reviewed

A Dream to Call My Own
by Tracie Peterson
Paperback: 365 pages
Publisher: Bethany House (June 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0764201506
ISBN-13: 978-0764201509
Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches

Product Description:

Lacy Gallatin, the youngest of the Gallatin sisters, is a woman with a mission: to find her father's killer. Haunted by the belief that she's failed him, Lacy is also battling a desire to have something more than just revenge, something she can't quite figure out. Enter Dave Shepard, deputy sheriff for the area. Dave has been fervently trying to find the man who killed George Gallatin, but he always feels inadequate when it comes to the beautiful Lacy. When they are together, the tension crackles between them--both when they argue and when they kiss. Lacy finds him frustratingly irresistible...but is it truly love?

Review: My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is a great ending to the trilogy of The Brides of Gallatin County. Once again the characters from the previous books are brought to a deeper level. Tracie really knows how to make you despise a bad guy, and in this book she even eloquently finds a way for a reader to find sympathy for the antagonist. I would say that this book is deeper and a little bit heavier than the other two, but it is good and could be read alone. This is one of those books that can make you look back on yourself and question if you are where you need to be in your faith. Lacy, the youngest of the Gallatin sisters has tried so long to be a strong person that she just ignores her pain and tries to go it all alone. It is once she realizes she needs another's strength that she can really prosper.

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

ACFW September Book Releases

1. A Blue and Gray Christmas, by Carrie Turansky, Vickie McDonough, Lauralee Bliss Tamela Hancock Murray from Barbour Publishing. A Blue and Gray Christmas highlights the faith and courage of four couples who remained true to their convictions and found lasting love despite the hardships of the Civil War.

2. A Man of His Word, Book 1 in the Hearts of Middlefield Series, by Kathleen Fuller from Thomas Nelson. Moriah’s heart will only be safe with a man of his word.

3. A Silent Fury, by Lynette Eason from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. Detective Catelyn Clark and her ex-boyfriend, FBI agent Joseph Santino, must overcome their rocky past while working to solve the murder of a deaf student and find the friend who’s still missing.

4. Always Ready, Book 1, by Susan Page Davis from Heartsong. Two Coast Guard officers find danger and romance in the hostile seas of Alaska.

5. An Amish Christmas, by Kathleen Fuller, , Beth Wiseman, from Thomas Nelson. Follow the lives of three Amish families through the Christmas season.

6. Beautiful Ugly, by Shelia Lipsey from Kensington Publishing Corp. Three friends need plenty of faith in God and support from each other to see their real beauty lies within.

7. Cowboy Christmas, by Mary Connealy from Barbour. A secretive singer with trouble following her, and a cowboy who hates liars, especially female liars, need a Christmas miracle to take a chance on love.

8. Distant Thunder, by Jimmy Root Jr. from American Book Publishers. The coming fulfillment of the Ezekiel 38 and 39 prophecies. A coalition of nations will attack Israel, but God will intervene.

9. Fields of Grace, by Kim Vogel Sawyer from Bethany House. A Russian Mennonite family fights to survive and maintain their faith in a new land.

10. It’s Not about Him, Second Glance Series, Book #2, by Michelle Sutton from Sheaf House. Two young Christians with an unplanned pregnancy where she wants to place her child in a good home but he wants to marry her so she’ll keep her child even though it’s not his.

11. Love Finds You in Charm, Ohio, by Annalisa Daughety from Summerside Press. A summer in Charm, Ohio, gives Emma Miller the chance to decide once and for all what she wants from life—but soon finds herself pulled between two worlds.

12. Painted Desert, by Nancy Farrier from Barbour. As modern life takes unexpected turns, love comes knocking on the doors of three Arizona women’s lives.

13. Protector’s Honor, by Kit Wilkinson from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. Rory Farrell searches for the link between Tabitha Beaumont and his ongoing murder investigation, but to protect her, he’ll have to her trust as well.

14. Raising Rain, by Debbie Fuller Thomas from Moody Publishers. A single woman desperate for a child and the 3 college roommates who raised her meet her terminally ill mother on a stormy weekend and confront the past.

15. The Transformation, Project Restoration Series Book 3, by Terri Kraus from David C. Cook. Can a good, hard-working Christian man disregard his cultural and religious admonitions—as well as his mother’s plans for his life—for the love of a woman and an historic church building?

16. The Unfinished Gift, by Dan Walsh from Revell, Division of Baker Publishing Group. Set at Christmastime in 1943, The Unfinished Gift is an engaging story of reconciliation between a father and son, and how God uses an unexpected gift from the past to mend this broken family.

17. Tidings of Great Boys, All About Us #5, by Shelley Adina from Hatchette FaithWords. Lady Lindsay (Mac) MacPhail invites her classmates home to her castle in Scotland for an unforgettable Christmas.

18. Wild West Christmas, by Lena Nelson Dooley, Kathleen Y’Barbo, Vickie McDonough, Darlene Franklin from Barbour. Christmas courtships corral four sisters in Texas.