Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Robin Lee Hatcher's Vote of Confidence ~ Reviewe

Vote of Confidence
By Robin Lee Hatcher

Published by Zondervan,
May 1, 2009

ISBN-10: 0310258057

Back Cover:

In A Vote of Confidence, the stage is set for some intriguing insight into what it was like during 1915 to be a woman in a "man's world."

Guinevere Arlington is a beautiful young woman determined to remain in charge of her own life. For seven years, Gwen has carved out a full life in the bustling town of Bethlehem Springs, Idaho, where she teaches piano and writes for the local newspaper. Her passion for the town, its people, and the surrounding land prompt Gwen to run for mayor. After all, who says a woman can't do a man's job?

But stepping outside the boundaries of convention can get messy. A shady lawyer backs Gwen, believing he can control her once she's in office. A wealthy newcomer throws his hat into the ring in an effort to overcome opposition to the health resort he's building north of town. When the opponents fall in love, everything changes, forcing Gwen to face what she may have to lost in order to win.

To read chapter one of Vote of Confidence, go here.


Robin Lee Hatcher creates colorful characters that draw you in immediately, no matter where or when the story is set, whether historical or contemporary. A Vote of Confidence casts the reader back to 1915 when women were just gaining a voice. Gwen and her twin sister are both engaging and quirky but complete opposites. The men are rugged and some, enlightened.

A Vote of Confidence is a delightful tale with a surprising twist. And the next book in the Sisters of Bethlehem Springs series promises to be as good.

Novel Review and I give it our highest recommendation—a five star read.

Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan

Bonus Review:

Vote of Confidence ended up being a satisfying and charming story. Sometimes I hesitate to read about, let alone root for a female character who comes off prickly and offended by any and all references to anything resembling a female weakness. Confidence's first few pages sent those vibes. The I'm-not-going-to-like-this-chick, vibes. In the hands of a lesser writer, that could've easily been the case. However, we're talking Robin Lee Hatcher here, and, as she painted the portrait of Gwen, she added enough humanity and depth that not only did I begin to like her, I actually wanted to see her get the guy and the job.

I love that there are some historical events that Hatcher borrowed and tweaked for her story. I also couldn't find much to not like about Morgan. If you love a solid hero, a heroine who eventually gets it, and a little suspense thrown into your historical fiction, you should probably put this one on your list.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Monday, April 27, 2009

Robert Fate's Baby Shark ~ Reviewed

Baby Shark
by Robert Fate
Paperback: 270 pages
Publisher: Capital Crime Press
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0977627691

Product Description:

In a roadside pool hall out west of Abilene, Kristin Van Dijk, 17, is forced by four thugs to watch the murder of three men, including her pool hustler father. She’s assaulted and beaten and left for dead as Henry Chin, a Chinese immigrant whose grown son was one of those murdered, saves her and secretly helps her recover. Because the local police show no interest in solving the pool hall crime, Henry hires a private investigator more set on justice than law to start a search for the nomadic killers. Then Henry hires two vets to teach Kristin how to protect herself. She develops into one tough package of trouble as she also perfects her pool. At eighteen, she looks for the thugs as she hustles pool in west Texas and earns the nickname Baby Shark. Revenge is difficult, but satisfying.


The story of baby shark is tragic, page-turning and horrific. A teen witnesses the murder of her father, endures the unthinkable, and then barely lives to be haunted by it. The choice she makes to overcome is understandable and that is where the reader begins to accept the road, the blood-soaked, slippery road, Kristin begins to walk,

Baby Shark is the nickname Kristin earns as she picks up the pool cue that was ripped prematurely from her hustler father. Pool is only one of the skills she masters. The others are far more important than a game. They boil down to life and death, mostly the latter.

When I began reading Baby Shark, I, within pages of her physical recovery, knew where the story was going. You will, too. However, even though the situation borders on stereotypical, there is enough new and unique to make the story fresh and engaging and the characters real.

I'd caution chickens to avoid visiting Kristin's Texas as there are some pretty intense scenes. PI and vendetta/underdog-out-to-clean-up-the-world fans will likely find much to like in Baby Shark, both the character and the book.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Friday, April 24, 2009

Beth Wiseman's Plain Perfect ~ Reviewed

Plain Perfect
By Beth Wiseman
Published by Thomas Nelson

Back Cover:

A search for peace in Amish country proves anything but simple for a woman on the run from life…and herself.

On the rolling plains of Lancaster County, PA Lillian Miller is searching for her grandparents’ house…and so much more. After years of neglect and abuse, she’s turning to a lifestyle of simplicity among the Amish to find herself.

As she discards the distractions of her former life, she befriends the young boy working on her family’s farm and his attractive widowed father, Samuel Stoltzfus. Despite Lillian’s best efforts to the contrary, her feelings for Samuel – and his for her – deepen. Will Lillian find her faith in Plain living, or will she be forced to return to her former life?


Some books I’ve read had an Amish girl seeking to break away from tradition and try out the world and all it offers. This book is about a worldly woman trying to break into the Amish community, seeking a place of refuge and meaning to this life.

I really felt for and enjoyed Lillian, as she tried to make some sense of her life at twenty -seven when she goes to live with her Amish grandparents. She wanted to get to know them and their ways. Lillian was in search of peace and meaning for her life. She wanted to leave her complicated, hurtful, miserable life behind -make a FRESH start.

Lillian read something in an article that spoke to her “The road to happiness is filled with paths of self-discovery. One slip and you can end up going down the wrong path with no map to guide you back to the main road.” She was earnestly looking for the right road to take in her life.

Lillian says,” Grandma, I want so badly to feel the calmness inside. I want so badly to live a good life.” …It’s just hard for me to understand why sometimes things happen the way they do.” Lillian had to deal with the failures of her life and her mother’s. She didn’t want to be like her mom. Lillian had to make a drastic change, but it had to be for the right reasons.

This was a really good story of hope, healing, forgiveness and second chances. It reminds me that we all have choices in life; it’s always up to us as to how we handle our struggles. We can do it alone or we can choose to embrace God’s comfort for us and to thrive in the middle of bad times. This is a different Amish story, which I totally enjoyed.

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

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Susan Higginbotham's The Traitor's Wife ~ Reviewed

The Traitor’s Wife
by Susan Higginbotham
Paperback: 512 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (April 1, 2009)
ISBN-10: 1402217870



Set in twelfth-century England, The Traitor’s Wife delves into the reign of Edward the II and Edward the III. Following the story of Eleanor (Clare) Despenser, Susan Higginbotham, takes us through her life story from marriage to death as she survives scandals, war and betrayal.


With as many novels, books, movies and documentaries available about Henry VIII, I was intrigued to learn about a novel which examines prior generations of England’s monarchy. The period of history Ms. Higginbotham explores does not disappoint.

Set in the fourteenth century, Edward II’s realm is falling apart due to failed military campaigns, political upheaval, and his inability to reign. Distracted by his extramarital relationship with men, he fails to recognize his danger and how disgruntled the lords of the realm have become. He is not without adoring subjects, however, and chief among them is his niece Eleanor Despenser.

The Traitor’s Wife follows her story as she marries Hugh Depenser and enters the court as a lady-in-waiting to the new queen of England. Despite her promising beginning, she is not destined for a life of ease. When her husband becomes the king’s lover, and her queen overthrows the king to set up the reign of her son, Eleanor Despenser soon finds herself in jeopardy.

The first half of the book moves slowly and is burdened endless historic facts. Lady Depenser is unlikable for being too sweet—too innocent, too forgiving. Midway through the story, though, the book’s tension increases and I found growing very interested in the characters’ fates.

History does not reflect well on Edward II, and Susan Higginbotham does a good job presenting a different face to him—an affectionate with a kind soul. The balance of character depth, however, becomes spoiled when his wife, Isabella, is painted as a diabolical villain without redeeming qualities.

The story is told omnisciently and I found myself wishing it had been told strictly from Queen Isabella and Lady Despenser’s points of view, putting a twist on the title, while cutting back on history lessons stuffed between the scenes.

My review is mixed. For the first half, I did not think I would recommend the novel. During the second half, I found myself Googling the characters in order to distinguish fact from fiction. Overall it is an intriguing book.

Reviewed by: Jessica Dotta

Monday, April 20, 2009

Camy Tang's Single Sashimi ~ Reviewed

Single Sashimi (Sushi Series, Book 3)
by Camy Tang
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (September 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310274001

Back Cover

Drake Yu. Why would Drake call her after … what, five years? Six?

Venus heard in his voice that resonance that was almost a growl, that titanium-hard determination to get what he wanted. And he usually got what he wanted. The voice said: “I want you to work for me.”

Not this time… If it was a choice between Drake and McDonald’s—she’d choose french fries. She’d never work for him again. It would take an act of God.

Venus Chau is determined to start her own game development company and launch the next Super Mario-sized phenomenon. However, she needs an investor to back her idea. When Drake Yu, an old nemesis, approaches Venus with a contracting opportunity at his sister’s startup, the offer to become Chief Technology Officer tempts Venus to think the unthinkable.

Venus would rather throw away her PS3 than work for Drake again … except Grandma bribes Venus to do this favor for Drake’s wealthy family with a coveted introduction to the most respected investor in the game industry. It’s also a short job—only a few months—so Venus won’t have to stand Drake’s presence for very long.

But one wild youth group, a two-faced assistant, and Grandma’s determined match-making threaten to make them both fail—or go insane. With the encouragement of her three cousins, Lex, Trish, and Jennifer, Venus discovers that even a wounded heart can undergo a beautiful transformation …


Chick-Lit has lost some of it's charm for me. When I began reading it, I loved nearly every novel I read. But then, I began to resent the whining and selfishness of many first person narratives. Oh, sure, the heroines always got themselves into a heap of self-induced drama, usually humorous drama. But I found myself getting bored with the same old, same old whining as it oozed out of the pages.

But, Camy Tang has created a series of characters who've made Chick-Lit fun again. She has crafted a family of Chinese and Japanese or blended cousins who've embraced Christianity instead of Buddha, and modern customs instead traditional, The stories have been honest, too. The girls have embraced Christianity, but have not attained anything close to perfection.

Single Sashimi places cousin Venus in the spotlight. Held together by sheer will and protected by stilettos and designer suits, oh, and cleaning products, Venus has created quite the little gaming empire. She is ready to take on the gaming world as a key player, if only she had the actual resources to do it.

Sashimi is my favorite in the series which speaks well of Tang. Her third book is as good as the first. The writing is fresh. And the glossary alone is pure entertainment.

If you like sassy and at the edge of the emotional abyss heroines, unique flavors, a chance to maybe learn a little something and a sweet dash of romance, Sashimi may be exactly what you need to place on your next takeout order.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Friday, April 17, 2009

Ted Dekker's BoneMan's Daughters ~ Reviewed

BoneMan's Daughters (Hardcover)
by Ted Dekker (Author)
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Center Street (April 14, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1599951959

Book Description:

Would you kill an innocent man to save your daughter?

They call him BoneMan, a serial killer who’s abducted six young women. He’s the perfect father looking for the perfect daughter, and when his victims fail to meet his lofty expectations, he kills them by breaking their bones and leaving them to die.

Intelligence officer Ryan Evans, on the other hand, has lost all hope of ever being the perfect father. His daughter and wife have written him out of their lives.

Everything changes when BoneMan takes Ryan’s estranged daughter, Bethany, as his seventh victim. Ryan goes after BoneMan on his own.

But the FBI sees it differently. New evidence points to the suspicion that Ryan is BoneMan. Now the hunter is the hunted, and in the end, only one father will stand.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Boneman's Daughters, go HERE


If you are having trouble staying awake at night, I have a cure. Read Ted Dekker’s latest thriller “Bone Man’s Daughter and you will not sleep for a week. The cover warns you that this book is “A new reason to keep the lights on and the doors locked” and it is more than a cute quote to sell the book. They are serious! My wife gave me this book because she knows I love to read Ted and actually have read everything he has written. I must confess that I almost didn’t read this one though. I mean I started to read it and there is one chapter that was so disturbing that I actually threw the book on the floor and told her I was done with it. I actually walked by it for two days before I decided to pick it up and finish what I started.

I have read most of Stephen King and I am a big Brandilyn Collins fan so it is not like I am thin skinned about my reading. This book has a dimension of violence, especially in the beginning, that is both intimate and personal and I warn you it is not for those who are timid.

Ted lives up to his reputation for creating adrenaline laced-plots with an incredible confrontation between good and evil and then also transcends the enmity between evil and innocence. What he does in this book is very different than anything he has written before, in my humble opinion. He has connected us with the helplessness and horror of the victim and in such a way that it festers fear in the very heart, as well as rage at the unanswered pleadings of those about to die. It makes it more than personal and this can be extremely disturbing.

For those with thicker skins, who see this type of mental manipulations as entertaining, I will promise you that this will be a fantasy ride worth climbing into. A virtual “Space Mountain” of a book, with twists and turns galore.

For those of you expecting a simple; action packed, thriller from the mind of Ted: I say beware! You are about to enter into the dark side where your heart will be removed, wrung out and replaced upside down and backwards, if at all and where you will certainly awake with a start at the things that go “BUMP” in the night. At least for awhile. Muuhahahaha….

Reviewed by: Fred St.Laurent

Bonus Review:

A serial killer who could be a few different men is dormant for two long years. It may be because the man who's been convicted has been placed behind bars, or maybe because he is yet uncaptured and fighting terrorism in a desert across the world. Or maybe the man is waiting and stalking his next victim.

Bizarre twists and turns keep the reader wondering, doubting and riveted. Plenty of horror and bursts of adrenaline will keep any Honken Chicken Club members buried under blankets for weeks, and may tilt even the most stoic of readers off-center. Heed the warning if you are squeamish.

Very classic Dekker. Good vs. evil where good is broken and imperfect and evil is broken and unredeemable. A spiritual allegory plays out clearly, especially in the last seven or eight chapters. The characters are an interesting blend of stereotype with unexpected elements that make them feel real. Though the FBI is involved this is a very tense suspense more so than a police procedural. If you are a Dekker fan, you won't find threads connecting Boneman to other stories unless I missed something. PG-13 overall, including a smattering of curse words, R in intensity and subject matter.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Maureen Lang's My Sister Dilly ~ Reviewed

My Sister Dilly
By Maureen Lang
Published by Tyndale
341 Pages

Back Cover: Two Sisters

One committed the unthinkable.One will never forgive herself

Hannah Williams couldn’t get out of her small hometown fast enough, preferring the faster pace, trendy lifestyle and beauty of California’s Pacific Ocean coast.

Only whey her younger sister, Dilly, makes a desperate choice does Hannah realize she never should have left her behind in rural Illinois.

Hannah returns home, anxious to atone for failing Dilly in the past; leaving the one man she’s ever loved in California. But Dilly is a changed woman, and when Hannah’s plans don’t go as expected, the bonds of sisterhood are tested like never before.


I have to be honest… when I started reading this book about a woman getting out of prison and entering society again, I really didn’t want to read it. Then when I read about what this woman tried to do; I thought this book might go into really dark places, I was afraid to continue. But, I have to say that since Maureen Lang has such an endearing insight into the heart of the matter, I kept reading. This story went in a direction I never expected it to go; it became quite eye opening which made me want to finish the story and so will you.

I applaud Maureen for not being afraid to talk about the elephant in the room. Nobody wants to discuss much less think about special needs children and what is involved in their care day-in and day-out. I loved her take on how a special needs child affect the immediate, extended family, and everyone they meet. It’s eye opening stuff.

The author shares what it would be like for a prisoner trying to fit back into in a very small town – a town who doesn’t forget why you went to prison in the first place. Dilly reaches out to another woman in a similar situation she was in years ago. This is what she says, “I know what Carla did was wrong. I hate what she did. But the punishment has already begun, even before she’s sentenced. And she’s still human; I know she feels all the hatred people like that guy have. I just wanted her to know not everybody has forgotten she’s still a person with feelings.” Wow! The author has a great insight into God’s love for us and how we should love one another.

This was a deeply moving book .At the same time, the author lets us see and feel how life could be in a small town; and what all goes into running a farm. It’s quite fascinating. This was the first book I’ve read by Maureen Lang it definitely won’t be the last.

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

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Robert Liparulo's Deadlock ~ Reviewed

Deadlock (A John Hutchinson Novel) (Hardcover)
by Robert Liparulo (Author)
Hardcover: 480 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (March 31, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595541667

Book Description:

John Hutchinson thinks it's no coincidence that Brendan Page runs this modern Praetorian Guard, and that the billionaire military industrialist must have had something to do with the atrocities his son Declan committed in Canada. The Canadian and U.S. Justice departments disagree, but Hutch has been digging for dirt ever since.

Brendan Page has some dirty not-so-little secrets. he's built an empire on supplying futuristic weapons and highly trained soldiers to the world's most powerful armies. But he's saved his most destructive weapons for himself.

When Hutch discovers the secret of Page's success, Page decides to teach him a lesson. But the operation goes terribly wrong, and Hutch's son is kidnapped. While a lone man stands little chance against the best black op soldiers ever issued M-16s, Hutch manages to survive longer than Page anticipated. As far as Hutch is concerned, high-tech helmets, machine guns, and hand grenades are nothing compared to a man determined to save his son. It's a lesson he sets out to teach Page-and one that he can only hope works as well in the real world as it does in his heart.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Deadlock, go HERE.


Deadlock follows John Hutchinson (Hutch) and his family as he puts his life back together after his harrowing nightmare as detailed in Deadfall. Dillon and Laura have come to Denver for a visit. Life is calm, a little boring, even, except for Hutch's growing obsession with Brendan Page, the billionaire father of Declan. Declan, the young man who nearly killed Hutch, Laura and Dillon and did kill several people near and dear to them paid the ultimate price, but, it seems Brendan Page's money is keeping him safely out of the reach of the law and free to dabble in war games.

After a warning that ends up turning deadly and into a kidnapping, war breaks out between Page and his sophisticated killing forces and Hutch and a rag-tag band of kids and a woman.

Deadlock is a page-turning story that had me rooting for Hutch, not just to take care of the bad guys, but to discover the children who love and need his time and attention. Other than some intense scenes complete with gore, I found Deadlock to be a very good and satisfying novel. The characters are solid and likable, the action is twist and turn complex, the writing continues to satisfy even though Liparulo has several irons in the fire. Action and adventure lovers, gamers, guys, suspense hounds and character collectors might want to look a little deeper.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Monday, April 13, 2009

Craig Parshall's The Rose Conspiracy ~ Reviewed

The Rose Conspiracy
By: Craig Parshall
Harvest House Publishers / 2009 / Paperback

Product Description:

As the Smithsonian's president examines a newly discovered account of Abraham Lincoln's assassination, an intruder steals in, kills him, and disappears into the night with the document.

Vinnie Archmont, an accomplished and stunningly beautiful artist, is implicated. She hires the brilliant but secretly guilt-burdened criminal law professor J.D. Blackstone.

Blackstone finds himself uncovering the Mystic Freemasons' most guarded secret. He reluctantly turns to his uncle, a Bible-quoting Anglican priest and occult-religions expert. Enemies like a sorcery-obsessed billionaire English lord, a powerful U.S. Senator, and a ruthless prosecutor force Blackstone to employ all his cunning. In the process, he is compelled to choose between spiritual counterfeit and Gospel truth, guilt and forgiveness...destruction and a new beginning.


"The Rose Conspiracy" has been my first experience in the fiction of Craig Parshall, but it will not be my last after this invigorated read. I read the back cover blurb and then I could not help but have a desire to go and watch National Treasure and National Treasure 2 both on Blue-Ray. It was fabulous as several of the historical characters mentioned in the second movie were all through out the historical conspiracies of this book. It put me in a definite mood with a thirst for more.

It could be that I already have a passion for stories such as this, dealing with history and Freemasons as well as religious facts and conspiracy. Either way, this book was full of fascinating detail and keep me extremely intrigued and entertained.

Toward the end as details were being fully revealed I was a little bit aggravated with the author, because the main character would find some out, but not let the thought pass through to the reader. It bothered me and made me feel on the outside, I like feeling like I am on the ride with the characters. But things were explained and in good detail. I just had to be patient enough to get to that page. *grin*

I recommend this read. It is high tensity and makes me want to go and read some more about our Civil War history. Love it!

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Friday, April 10, 2009

Leanna Ellis's Ruby's Slippers ~ Reviewed

Ruby’s Slippers
By Leanna Ellis
Published by: B & H Publishing Group
ISBN# 978-0-8054-4698-2
Pages 312

Back Cover:

Dottie Meyers – thirty-five and still unmarried – is a real-life Dorothy Gale, living with her little dog on a small Kansas farm. When a tornado destroys her “somewhere over the rainbow,” she’s knocked cold and awakens at a recovery facility on the West Coast, where her father (who abandoned her when she was four) has left her a mysterious gift.

A Pair of Ruby Slippers - Soon Dorothy discovers others are out to get the ruby slippers, including her own sister. Dottie and three friends journey to Seattle in search of answers 0 but find instead the fallout of a broken childhood. No long-lost father can solve Dottie’s problems. Only One true Wonder-worker behind the so-called curtain can heal her wounds and prepare her for what’s been there all along-her heart’s perfect fit.


If you love the Wizard of Oz with all the crazy characters and the adventures they go on, you will love this story. Even if you weren’t crazy about the movie that starred Judy Garland you will love this book. I have to say I wasn’t really a fan of the movie, it scared me tremendously as a kid, yet my parent’s insisted we watch it every year. The Wizard of Oz has been redeemed for me. Hooray! Leanna took me inside the pages of this clever, witty, fun and surprising story. I found treasure where I least expected it. God’s healing truth jumped off the page and into my heart.

“Every day is a gift,” the author mentions. It’s our choice to see it and open up the gift daily.

Here’s a sneak peak into this book. ..”were two frightened people, side by side, who are afraid to risk, afraid to love, afraid of being wounded, can’t reach out to one another. “Maybe,” I venture a hypothesis, “that’s why we can’t explore…experience God. We’re afraid of him.”

I have found these statements and many others to be so true in my life. Not only was I afraid of God but afraid to do what he had asked me to do– questioning if he picked the right person for the task at hand. I let the enemy win in my life by just being afraid to do anything. I didn’t grow, love or live life. I think that’s why I really related to this story. I’ve experienced this truth, and God’s healing power mentioned throughout this tale. I totally enjoyed every minute I spent reading Leanne’s book. Through these very unique set of characters I can see how far I’ve let God heal my heart. I also see how much he wants to love me, if I let him. We all are a work in progress. This was the first book I’ve read by Leanna Ellis, I’m most definitely going to check out her other two books. I can’t wait to read this book again.

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

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Lyn Cote's The Desires of Her Heart ~ Reviewed

The Desires of Her Heart (Texas: Star of Destiny, Book 1)
by Lyn Cote (Author)
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Avon Inspire (February 10, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061373419

Product Description:

A New Orleans lady and a half-breed frontiersman become unlikely allies as they travel the wilds of Texas.

In 1821, when circumstances make it impossible for her to remain in New Orleans, Dorritt and her family head west to join Stephen Austin's settlement and recoup their fortune in Texas.

Quinn is a man of the frontier who has made a name for himself as a peerless scout. But as he and Dorritt's party begin a grueling trek across untamed Texas, the success of their journey is in grave doubt. Mexico has broken with the Spanish Crown, and armies from both countries—plus marauding Comanches—roam the pine forests and prairies. And one of the party is plotting destruction.

Now, with their lives joined in a virgin land fraught with peril, can Dorritt and Quinn put all their trust in God and receive the desires of their hearts?

My Review:

Once again, another wonderful historical romance from Avon Inspire. I love everything they are putting out without fail. This was my first opportunity to read Lyn Cote and I know she has many more titles available. I look forward to reading more of her novels in the future.

The Desires of Her Heart is a story in the category of Tracey Bateman, Tamera Alexander, Janette Oke, Lori Wick, and Tracie Peterson's hearts on paper. It is the first in the Texas: Star of Destiny series and I definitely look forward to the next few titles in the series.

I felt that the book did not end at a complete close, but that is my preference I suppose. It did have a perfect setup for the next novel, but I am impatient and want answers now. On a flaw point, just on a random note. There were many of the earlier chapters while traveling they were herding the cattle, but then about halfway on the journey it was strange that all of the sudden the cattle were never mentioned again... That stuck out to me and lost a little bit of the experience.

Overall, the story was a great adventure. I knew how I wanted to characters to end up, but was fully kept guessing up to the last pages. The protagonists are extremely lovable, and as a reader, I felt myself even drawn to some characters that I would not have imagined that I could feel anything for much less to appreciate. The "bad people" were really bad, and as per usually the "good" had much better behavior than what was in my heart.

The author is completely able to pull you in and really make you feel what is going on in the story and that is the kind of novel that I like and cannot put down. I read this book in a day and a half, because I was unable to put it down. I just had to know what would come next.

Quite the adventure from Louisiana to Texas, and to understand how much so, you really need to get yourself a copy to read. It's a keeper for me.

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Marlo Schalesky's If Tomorrow Never Comes ~ Reviewed

If Tomorrow Never Comes
By Marlo Schalesky
Published by Multnomah
ISBN# 978-1-60142-024-4
339 Pages

Back Cover:

Childhood sweethearts Kinna and Jimmy Henley had simple dreams – marriage, children, a house by the sea…everything they needed for “happily ever after.” What they didn’t plan on was years of infertility, stealing those dreams, crushing their hopes.

Now, all that’s left is the memory of young love, and the desperate need for a child to erase the pain. Until…

Kinna rescues an elderly woman from the sea, and the threads of the past, present, and the future weave together to reveal the wonder of one final hope, one final chance to follow not their dreams, but God’s plan.

Can they embrace the redemptive power of love before it’s too late? Or will their love be washed away like the castles they once build upon the sand? The past whispers to the present. And the future shivers. What if tomorrow never comes?


This was one moving, unforgettable book filled with so many of God’s truths brought to life. You can tell this story was birthed from the depths of the author’s heart and pain. She too struggled with what Kinna and Jimmy Henley agonized over. One lesson learned by all, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” (Isaiah 55:8)

Marlo’s characters ask the tough questions, “If God asked you to give up your dreams for Him, would you? What are you willing to give up, suffer or sacrifice to do God’s will? Are you willing to follow His plan for your life and not your own?” These are just some of the great questions that Marlo brings up in this powerful, moving, and gut-wrenchingly honest story of two people chasing their dreams not thinking of what it cost in the end. These are people looking for that “happily ever after” here on earth, that God never promised us.

Which brings up another question, “Can we be happy in this life?” Answer, yes, if we CHOSE TO BE!! We always have a choice. It’s a choice of OUR will every time!

“Love wasn’t just a feeling. It wasn’t a kiss on a doorstep or a dance under the streetlights. It was a life lived together, facing the good and the bad. It was laying down your life for another. It was sacrifice. It was taking a risk. It meant doing right even when it was hard.”

Marlo has walked in the shoes of her characters. She tells it like it is and doesn’t hold back sharing the pain or the joys discovered in life’s journey. Marlo brings scripture to life and exposes a few lies some believe along the way. Scripture says the truth will set you “free.” The author has her main characters struggle to do the right thing against some incredible odds. You will definitely want to read this story. It’s one you will find yourself thinking about and later returning to it to review the powerful messages found in this book. Wow! You will just have to experience it for yourself. I highly recommend it!

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent – Book Club Servant Leader
Christian Fiction On-line Mag - Columnist

Monday, April 06, 2009

Kathy Herman's The Real Enemy ~ Reviewed

The Real Enemy (Sophie Trace Trilogy, Book 1)
by Kathy Herman
Paperback: 376 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (March 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434767868

Product Description:

Brill Jessup would rather work than deal with the bitterness she feels about her husband Kurt's infidelity. They've made a fresh start with Brill taking a job as the new police chief in a small East Tennessee town. Kurt is genuinely contrite and making every effort to show his commitment to Brill. Meanwhile Emily, their nine-year-old, is being the perfect little girl, as if she can make everything okay again. So why can't Brill get over this anger? Work presents the perfect distraction as rumors and superstition are running rampant in the wake of the disappearances of seven people in seven days. As fear rises in the community, Brill works desperately to solve the mystery... until it threatens her family and she is forced to confront the real enemy.

My Review:

Kathy Herman has produced an intriguing novel about a family in crisis and a town in turmoil.

New-to-town police chief, Brill Jessup, discovers many lessons as she finds that small town doesn't guarantee safety nor peace. That safety and peace come from a bigger source altogether. She also discovers that "where you go, there you are" is a true and uncomfortable statement. Running away and pretending don't make problems better, they only become all the more powerful. As Brill attempts to keep her town safe from the unknown and brutal, her hidden pain rips and tears her family apart even as her husband attempts to rebuild.

Equal time is spent on Brill and Kurt's marriage and the police work required to solve the bizarre puzzle in Sophie Trace. Because of that, the intensity of both is decreased a bit. And that's a good thing because either of these plot lines; kidnappings, gang violence, fear and evil within the town and distrust, bitterness, infidelity and unforgiveness within the marriage, could've easily been overwhelming. Herman masters her story and makes it readable, touching and mostly believable.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Bonus Review:

I’m so thankful to have received a review copy of this exciting, action packed, heart felt, thought provoking police drama. The Real Enemy is the first book in the Sophie Trace Trilogy, introducing Police Chief, Brill Jessup. Brill’s the first female police chief, in a new town, in a new house. She realizes she still has the same old problems. They’ve followed her there. She had to work really hard to get the men in this town to respect her, and realize she had police instincts they could trust.

She left Memphis, Tennessee to escape her husband’s affair, hoping for a fresh start. Kurt is committed to the marriage and seeks forgiveness. Brill’s heart is closed to love from her husband. She would do her duty (she was good at that) and stick it out for their children’s sake, but she wasn’t going to forgive him. How could she?

Brill’s police instincts kick in high gear when people start disappearing one by one, without a trace. Who will be next? This town is used to a man being in charge, which makes her work twice as hard.

It takes a crisis for Brill to see that maybe she didn’t have it all together. Did she turn her back on God when her whole life was turned up-side down by the affair? Now her life was being turned up-side down again—only in a different way. What did she really believe when people’s lives were on the line and things get personal?

This book made me appreciate our law enforcement team throughout this land. We take for granted all the things they do to help us feel safe during the day and night. Kathy Herman gives you a peak at what life might look like for the family of the Police Chief. The Police Chief brings a different type of work home with her. I enjoyed this book and can’t wait to read the next book in this series, The Last Word.

Reviewed by: Nora St. Laurent
ACFW Book Club Coordinator

Friday, April 03, 2009

Bill Myers' Angel of Wrath ~ Reviewed

Angel of Wrath: A Novel (The Voice of God series)
by Bill Myers
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: FaithWords (April 8, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446698008

Book Description:

Thirteen-year-old Jazmin, her ex-Special Ops uncle Charlie, and former FBI agent Lisa are reunited in the second of the Voice of God series to stop a an assassin driven to murder members of a megachurch led by Lisa's brother. This assassin has drawn in a coven of teens toying with satanic practices to support his efforts. The naive youth engage in ceremonies that appear to usher in the death of each of his victims. When their rituals open a portal into the spiritual realm, a terrifying and mysterious entity crosses over to our world.

The battle culminates with the capture of Lisa's father as the next target and a Black Mass requiring both their deaths as a sacrifice. The team will, once again, have to rely on all their wits, strength, and faith to survive in this action-packed, unearthly warfare.

If you would like to read an excerpt from Angel Of Wrath, go HERE

My Review:

I've whipped through every Bill Myers title I've ever read, from the Wally McDoogle series I read when I could snatch a book from my son, to the Fire of Heaven Trilogy. Whether Myers is going for humor or suspense, he cranks it out into a great read.

Angel of Wrath is not a departure from this MO or the expected Myers' skill with plot and character development. Though I didn't read book one in The Voice of God series, I'm intrigued enough to go back and pick it up because Myers, as he did with the Fire of Heaven Trilogy, introduces just enough speculation and scientific questioning into Biblical fact to make me stop and think a bit and want to read beyond the story I held in my hands.

Written in multiple POV Myers melds Satanism with a twisted "Christianity" and comes up with a horrifying religious blend from the pits. Honken Chicken Club members may find some creepiness just a little too creepy. Very conservative folks may find some of the slang language a bit trying or toe stomping. Overall, this is an entertaining and thought-provoking read. Parent warning...I'd rate it PG-13 because of some intense subject matter.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Eric Van Lustbader's First Daughter ~ Reviewed

First Daughter
by Eric Van Lustbader
Publisher: Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC
Pub. Date: August 2008
ISBN-13: 9780641982309


Explosive new political thriller by the New York Times bestselling author of The Testament and The Bourne Betrayal

My Review:

This tense story intersects the past and present and ties characters together in overlapping and twisting plot lines. Jack McClure is haunted by his past, and his future as colored by his past. Alli Carson is the soon-to-be president's daughter, a young woman who doesn't want the mantle that is being placed on her. When she goes missing, Jack is pulled in to find her as she was his daughter's best friend.

The plot moves along quickly and Jack's previous life is woven within the story of Jack's race against time to find Alli which adds more suspense as facts are revealed. The usage of a different tense during Jack's memories makes the melding of past and present more intriguing. Lustbader pens some truly picturesque and creative paragraphs. Told from many points of view, omniscient in many scenes, there is much to process from the many characters' lives.

One of the more fascinating aspects of the story is the underlying subject matter, basically separation of church and state. I began reviewing books that were strictly Christian fiction labels. As I've had more opportunity to read more and more ABA I've discovered that the gulf between ABA (secular) and CBA (christian) is narrower than I had realized. Many Christian titles are so light on God and spiritual themes that I sometimes wonder why they carry the particular house label. On the flip side, First Daughter's political themes and suspenseful plot are so steeped in spiritual conversations and themes that the story bogs down at times and begins to feel like a device to share an underlying author worldview. I, too, hate religion. And I agree that stuffing rules and religion down the throats of people, including crafting laws with an agenda, is the last way to fix society's ills. Reading this novel, where the characters are left to find their own way in the world, and peace and acceptance come through knowledge, left me feeling a hopelessness that really wasn't worth the investment of my hours.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

ACFW April Book Releases

Happy April! Check out all these new releases!

1. A Claim of Her Own, by Stephanie Whitson from Bethany House. Newly arrived in Deadwood, South Dakota, Mattie O'Keefe must soon decide where true riches lie--and what's worth dying for.

2. A Gift of Grace, Kauffman Amish Bakery Series Amy Clipston from Zondervan. When Rebecca Kaufman’s older sister, who left the Amish community when she was a teenager, dies in an automobile accident, Rebecca is left custody of her two modern non-Amish teenage nieces, Jessica and Lindsay.

3. Baby Baby, Book One of the Family Heirloom Series by Karen Weisner from Samhain Publishing House. A Proverbs 31 wife wonders, does "submissive" mean giving up having anything of her own?

4. By Darkness Hid, Book One in The Blood of Kings by Jill Williamson from Marcher Lord Press. Two people discover their ability to speak to, and hear, the minds of others: a squire serving an evil prince, and a maiden masquerading as a boy to avoid marriage.

5. Chef's Deadly Dish, Book Three in the Cozy Crumb Series by Lisa Harris from Heartsong Presents: Mysteries. Determined to discover the truth, Pricilla
Crumb, an unconventional busybody, follows one lead after another, dishing up laughter and surprises along the way.

6. Copper and Candles, Michigan Brides Book One by Amber Stockton from Heartsong Presents. Charity work brings them together, but their positions in society might drive them apart.

7. Homecoming Blessings, by Merrillee Whren from Steeple Hill. When businessman Peter Dalton has to work with the boss's missionary daughter Ashley Hiatt, he finds a new focus in life as well as love.

8. Peachtree Dreams, by Debby Mayne from Barbour Publishing. Three Georgia women face the challenge to believe in happily-ever-after endings.

9. Shepherd's Fall, Prodigal Recovery Series Book One by Wanda Dyson from Random House/Waterbrook. Nick Shepherd faces the hardest decision of his life--to save his daughter from a convicted killer, he may have to compromise his beliefs.

10. Stealing Home, by Allison Pittman from Multnomah. Four people, each harboring a secret passion, are brought
together through providence, tragedy and love.

11. Texas Ranger Dad, Mule Hollow Series by Debra Clopton from Steeple Hill Love Inspired. Rose Vincent has made a life for herself and her son in Mule Hollow Texas but when Texas Ranger, Zane Cantrell comes to town, her brings her past with him and everything she holds dear in life is threatened.

12.The Reluctant Cowgirl, The McCord Sisters by Christine Lynxwiler from Barbour Publishing. When Crystal McCord’s New York dream crumbles, she thinks her parents’ Arkansas ranch might be a safe place to hide her heart. . .until she meets the cowboy next door.

Happy reading ~