Friday, July 31, 2009

Robert Elmer's Beyond Corista ~ Reviewed

Beyond Corista
by Robert Elmer
ISBN: 978-0-310-71423-1

Book Cover:

Those who live in lush comfort on the bright side of the small planet Corista have plundered the water resources of Shadowside for centuries, ignoring the existence of Shadowside’s inhabitants, who are nothing more than animals. Or so the Brightsiders have been taught. It will take a special young woman to expose the truth—and to help avert the war that is sure to follow.

Review: Reid A. Pre-teen Reviewer

Beyond Corista is the final installment in Robert Elmer’s amazing and extraordinarily enthralling Shadowside Trilogy. Oriannon goes to great lengths to follow Jesmet’s instructions to save the people of Corista and the surrounding way stations. But she will have to do much more than the usual evasion of death and capture to save the world. This book was far beyond my expectations. It goes from one chapter to the next leaving you no decent place to stop reading. It’s just impossible. I highly recommend this series and especially this book.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Judy Christie's gone to green ~ Reviewed

gone to green
By Judy Christie

Published by Abingdon Press,
August 2009

ISBN 978-1-4267-0024-8


Can a big-city journalist change a small town or will the townspeople change her forever?

Lois Barker trades her life at a large paper in the Midwest for the ownership of The Green News-Item, a twice-weekly newspaper in rural North Louisiana.

As the not-so-proud new owner, Lois is obliged to keep the paper for at least a year, despite her doubts and fears.
When she pulls into Green on New Year's Day, her expectation of a charming little town full of friendly people is shattered. Instead, she must battle prejudice and financial corruption, while making friends and enemies with a host of fascinating characters who will change her life.

As challenges unfold, her year in Green results in a newfound faith and unexpected blessings.


I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Judy Christie's background as a journalist lends a sense of reality to the story, which drew me in and held me fast. I liked the main character, Lois, and cheered for her all the way through. Lois does gain a few hard-won friends, but she also stirs up trouble. And while the problems facing the town of Green could be found in any small town, none of it feels clichéd or overdone.
Besides wonderful characters, gone to green had just enough mystery, the right amount of romance and a tick of suspense.

I didn't want the story to end but wanted to keep reading. And any book that makes me want more gets 4 stars.

Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Jenny Cote's The Ark, the Reed & the Fire Cloud ~ Reviewed

The Ark, the Reed & the Fire Cloud by Jenny L. Cote
Living Ink Books
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 464 pages
ISBN: 978-0-89957-198-0

Book Cover:

Max, a Scottish terrier, takes his usual morning trot down to the loch where he hears a mysterious Voice humming in the reeds saying. “Come to Me…follow the fire cloud.” He embarks on an unknown journey from Scotland, meeting other animals along the way including Liz, a brilliant, petite black cat from France. Max and Liz become the brave leaders for their group, and eventually, for the entire ark. The mysterious journey, filled with dangers, humor, trials, and triumphs, leads them across Europe to the Middle East. The moment of arrival for these animals is spectacular as the ark miraculously transformed into the animals’ natural habitats.

Throughout the previous one hundred years, Noah and family have endured ridicule from villagers while building the ark. Now this family must painfully witness the loss of lives and total destruction of the earth through the mighty flood.

After the journey to the ark, the voyage in the ark begins. Liz finds ways to keep the animals occupied, including daily exercise led by the flamingos and a talent night where the animals entertain each other with their natural abilities. But a sinister plot develops. Someone is out to kill Noah and his family. Liz follows clues that lead her to discover a stowaway who has deceived them all. Mix and Liz foil the plot, but at a high price. The end climaxes with unexpected twists and turns, taking the reader from despair to hope.

Review by Meg, age 9:

I like the way The Ark, the Reed, and the Fire Cloud is told from the animals’ point of view. The animal characters are awesome. I like how the author took the story of Noah’s ark and added more to it. I also like how it has some of the story of Adam and Eve in it. It’s got adventure, mystery and excitement that make The Ark, the Reed, and the Fire Cloud really great.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Robin Jones Gunn's Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes ~ Reviewed

Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes
By Robin Jones Gunn
Published by Multnomah
ISBN# 978-1-6042-009-1
276 Pages

Back Cover:

A multi-tasking mama, Summer Finley has found ways to handle whatever life throws her with grace and a grin. Until now. An “abnormal” medical test result sends Summer into an emotional tailspin and prompts her to fulfill a life-long dream of meeting her best friend and pen pal since fourth grade, Noelle Van Zandt, face-to-face.

Their blissful week together in the Netherlands finds Summer and Noelle floating down a canal in Amsterdam, visiting Corrie ten Boom’s Hiding Place, sipping decadent Dutch cocoa in Delft, and bobbing merrily along through a sea of brilliant, spring-fresh tulips. Each day takes them further from midlife anxiety and closer to trusting God in deeper ways.

As their week of adventure comes to an end, the two friends find they needed to be together more than either of them realized.


I could totally relate to the premise of this book. When Noelle says to Summer, take my hand and I’ll show you the sites of my town. I thought back to when I visited Lea, my high school BFF, for the first time in Toronto, Canada. We had gone to school together and after graduation she moved to Canada. We didn’t have the speed of email, back then but I really enjoyed her letters. When it was time for me to visit her she took me by the hand and showed me the lovely sites of her new home. Lea showed me amazing Castles, lovely flowers, took me on my first subway ride ever, had me eat special treats only found in Canada and had my face splashed by the breath taking waters of Niagara Falls.

Toronto was strikingly clean for such a big city. We shopped through the Eaton Center which is the biggest mall I’d ever seen, and found time to talk about how the Lord was moving in our lives.

I envisioned myself standing with Summer as she looked out the window and thought this,” It was as if God had invited the shy new day to come and spread her beauty over this corner of His world, and she was being obedient but at the same time was embarrassed to be put in the spotlight of the rising sun.”

My husband and I met while working on the stage version of “The Hiding Place.” I was cast in the part of Betsy, Corrie ten Boom’s sister. When Robin Jones Gunn took me to the very place where Corrie ten Boom’s family hid the Jews, it was an extremely special part of the book for me.

I loved the way Robin Jones Gunn described how to look at art. Robin tells of all the art museums they explored, and the art inside, like that of Rembrandt, Vermeer and Van Gogh, Noelle says, “Appreciation of beauty isn’t work. All you have to do is look. Open your eyes, your mind, and your heart. Take in whatever it is you see. Let the painting do all the work. Just listen with your eyes, and the painting will tell you its story.” Wow, I’m going to try that!

I totally agreed with the author when she said this,” God somehow touched people, places and moments, and the everyday became glimpses of heaven here on earth.” I’ve experienced this!

I felt like I was viewing the sites along with the character Summer as Robin took my hand and said follow me through the pages of her book. That’s why I love the Sisterchick series. What I especially love about this series is that every now and then Robin tosses out treasures from heaven for me to ponder and get a hold of in my heart. Just when everything in the book is full of fun, friendship and exploration, the author has one of the characters in her book discover a truth from the word that would pierce my heart and make me think along with the character. Robin has a special gift for doing this in her writing, which makes her stories so rich.

I totally enjoyed the pictures at the end of this book where Robin shares her real life trip to visit her friend in Holland. That was the icing on the cake for me.

I don’t know how Robin does this, but I feel like I’ve experienced this amazing town with her and learned many valuable lessons along the way. Thank you Robin, for writing such delightful books were I can make believe I’ve gone traveling with you and learn so much without leaving my home.

Reviewed by: Nora St. Laurent
Book Club Servant Leader

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Linore Rose Burkard's The House in Grosvenor Square ~ Reviewed

The House In Grosvenor Square
By Linore Rose Burkard
Published by Harvest House Publishing
ISBN# 978-0-7369-2565-5
346 Pages

Back Cover:

Sequel to Before The Season Ends.As Ariana Forsythe plans her wedding to Philip Mornay, she must adjust to the realization that she is soon to become the wife of an extremely wealthy man. She wonders if it’s wrong to rejoice that her future husband is rich. But she promises herself to use her new position to do what she can to aid the numerous street waifs she sees all too often in London.

Shortly after Ariana’s tour of the house in Grosvenor Square, she is abducted as she leaves a performance at Covent Garden Theatre, leaving Philip to unravel the pieces of the mystery. Where has his future bride been taken, and by whom? For what reason? How does Ariana’s faith play a role?


From the very first page Linore whisked me into the year 1813. I was totally emerged into England’s sites; streets, carriages and its people hook line and sinker. I was captivated by this story and time period. It’s an intriguing read filled with many facts about how people lived in the nineteenth century, before computers and cell phones.

I totally enjoyed how young Ariana was always free to give God credit where He was due and explained His ways to others. She says, “it is God Himself who draws us along—until we find Him. Happily He has drawn Mr. Mornay, and I am most grateful.”

Mr. Mornay’s thoughts of Ariana,”…the idea of his future bride in his house was almost too happy a thought. He wouldn’t dare remain on the premises with her. The little blonde minx addled his brain and upset his customarily detached attitude. He wanted nothing more than to be married to her – yesterday! However, society and good manners demanded he wait for the wedding date set forth by Mr. and Mrs. Forsythe, and so he had no choice put to comply.” I thoroughly enjoyed this character and his challenge to stay pure on many levels. I had to chuckle at how Ariana just didn’t’ understand Mornay and his struggles. Grin!

This was a time when there were clear rules for courtship, and engagement, all had to be proper to avoid a scandal. I loved it when Ariana says to Mornay “Nonsense. You have the finest manners. We—neither of us—are accustomed to being in love, I think.” This is after a carriage ride where they are both trying to do their best to be proper and not kiss or touch each other. Linore has situations like this throughout her book—I enjoyed the humor and innocence of these scenes.

Ariana is trying not to be overwhelmed by the new world she is to enter. She is to wed a wealthy man, and live in his house filled with many servants. She is determined to learn how things work even though not every is excited about her arrival. The servants really get nervous when Ariana starts making changes to the mansion without permission from her fiancé. Linore takes you inside a mansion and shows you how things are run. I never knew a butler’s job involved anything more than just opening the door and being a servant. I learned otherwise in this story where Linore shows the drama at Mr. Mornay’s house and how dangerous a task the job can be! Grin!

Mrs. Bentley is beside herself with worry to do the right thing in society’s eyes and be safe. Mr. Mornay is about to go mad trying to keep his bride out of harms way until their wedding. Mr. Mornay and Ariana have the most grueling, suspenseful, and surprising ten days of unexpected drama before their wedding …you just have to read.

Linore kept me up very late reading to find out how it all works out in the end. I totally enjoyed and loved every minute of this book. You can read this book without reading the first. It’s that good!

Reviewed by:
Nora StLaurent -Book Club Servant Leader

Friday, July 24, 2009

Kathi Macias's My Son, John ~ Reviewed

My Son, John
By Kathi Macias
Published By: Sheaf House
ISBN# 978-0-979745-4-7

Back Cover:

Murder. Could there be a more chilling word! When Liz Peterson’s elderly mother is found viciously beaten to death in her home, Liz and her husband, Charles along with their grown son, John, and teenage daughter, Sarah, struggle to make sense of a senseless act. And then a second blow—more devastating, if possible, than the first—rocks them to their core. John is arrested for his grandmother’s murder. As what’s left of the Peterson family begins to crumble under the weight of loss and accusation, the Petersons’ longstanding Christian faith is put to the test in a way they could never have imagined and unconditional love is stretched to its limits. Can God’s grace reach even to the deepest agony of the soul and bring healing to a family torn apart by a brutal crime?


How can a family survive news like this? First Liz’s mother is murdered and now her son, John, is arrested for her murder. Things have gone from bad to worse. How could something like this happen to their family? They were so close—or so she thought.

After her mom’s funeral, Liz says, “We were the type of family who instinctively circled the wagons when threatened. Why would any of us handle this nightmare involving my mother’s murdered in any other way?”

Liz thought about her mother’s murder nearly all the time, even though she would love to pretend none of this happened. She’d love to wake up tomorrow and everything be back to the way it was. But, “Sadness squeezed her heart and made it hard to breathe. Was she going crazy? How long before the pain went away? What if it never did?”

Her life had come to this, “It was as if the world had gone mad, as if everything familiar had been snatched away in an instant, replaced with a pain-filled, upside-down version of the life we had once known and enjoyed. Intellectually, I had been aware that people—families—experienced this sort of thing daily, but it had never crossed the line and become personal. Until now.”

God? She knew Him once. What had happened to their relationship? Liz begins to wonder if she should dare call on Him now. She realizes their family has replaced God as the focal point and says, “Was that so bad? Was it so abnormal to get caught up in the day-to-day care of our families—our children—that they soon began to take priority over God in our affections and attention? Surely God understands?” Right?

Liz can’t stand the thought that maybe her son, John, might have done the unthinkable. Oh God, how does she deal with that? “How do I forgive John and keep loving him? How is that possible? He is my only son. Why is this happening?” She knows all this was way beyond anything she could do on her own. She needed supernatural healing help that only God could give. All she had to do was reach out, and be willing to ask God for help. It just seemed the task was too overwhelming right now. But she had to do something life as she had enjoyed it, was gone. She had to hang onto what little she had left. Kathi Macias really gets to the heart of the many emotions that grip a family going through such a tragedy.

In the back of the book the author has discussion questions that go along with each of her chapters. There is a helpful “resource” section also in the back to help people learn more about prison ministries. Listed are ministries you can get involved with and their websites, along with other helpful information. This is a great resource for people who want to witness to those in prison and their families. This book will really make you stop and think ‘What if?’ and then give you hope that there is life after such a tragedy, But only with God’s help.

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

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Diann Hunt's Hometown Courtship~Reviewed

Hometown Courtship
By Diann Hunt
Published by Steeple Hill Love Inspired


Community Service: Matchmaking?

His matchmaking brother is sending another gal Brad Sharp's way. Under the guise of community service! The Make a Home Project—building homes for the needy—is Brad's life. He fully expects hair stylist Callie Easton to show up for "work" with a pink hammer and not even use it. Hardly a match for him!

With a heart of gold and a talent for transformation, Callie works hard. Still, Brad won't notice her. His grief over a tragic loss has hardened his heart Well, Callie knows all about loss. And thanks to Brad, she knows even more about making a home—for them.


Hometown Courtship is romantic comedy at its best! Callie is a gal with issues—some I could definitely identify with like losing things in the deep caverns of her handbag. But in Callie's case it was parking tickets and caused life-changing events. I loved her!

Brad Sharp has his own issues that are sad but are balanced with humor. The fun begins when his brother, the judge, sets him up. I loved the story behind this romance. It was fun and not the usual cookie-cutter romance. Hunt always delivers something out of the norm. But then, she views life that way. And that's what I love about a Diann Hunt novel: the balancing act of real life and laughter.

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan
Editor, Novel Journey

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Diann Hunt's On The Right Path ~ Reviewed

On the Right Path
By Diann Hunt
Published by Guideposts Books


School's out for the summer, and Charlotte is doing her best to keep the kids occupied and out of trouble. After much prodding, Sam gets a job at a day care, but it's his part-time gig at the airport that captures his interest—and has his grandparents worried. Christopher is hard at work trying to teach an old dog new tricks and Emily and her friend Ashley get roped into visiting an elderly woman in town who needs a little help around the house. As they clean, they uncover mementos that unravel a painful story from the woman's past, which changes everything they know about forgiveness.

Meanwhile, Charlotte and Hannah start training for a walkathon, and Bill and Anna have a secret—and the timing couldn't be worse. As the lazy days of summer settle over Heather Creek Farm, will Charlotte be able to keep them all on the right path?


I really enjoyed this warm tale of family relations. Grandparents raising grandchildren is a reality in this generation, and Hunt has applied her humor in subtle ways throughout this story as Charlotte struggles to cope with teenaged angst, when she should be enjoying her golden years. Hunt delivers real characters in very real situations. No plastic angels in this tale, just kids who mess up, and grandparents who hope they're doing it right.

Hunt makes farm life comes so alive I wonder if she spent some time in a chicken coop doing research. Note to self: write no books containing chickens (unless it's a cookbook.)

Numerous authors write Guideposts Books' Home to Heather Creek series, yet each book keeps the same main characters, and while the characters retain their personalities, each book has a unique feel to it. Warm and witty, Diann Hunt's On the Right Path is one of the best.

On the Right Path can be ordered from Guideposts Books by calling 1-800-932-2145.

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan, editor Novel Journey

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Barbara Worton's Too Tall Alice ~ Reviewed

Too Tall Alice
by Barbara Worton
Great Little Books, LLC
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 32 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9790661-1-5

Book Cover:

Alice is tall. Not T-Rex or Empire State Building tall. Just four inches taller than the other girls in her class, and Alice is worried.

FOUR INCHES! That’s a lot of inches taller than everyone else. Her mom says it’s okay to be tall, and her dad says it’s okay to be tall. IT’S OKAY FOR THEM TO SAY THAT. THEY’RE NORMAL!

Alice wishes, really wishes, she was just like everyone else. Then, her dream takes her to the place where the tall girls live, and she sees, really sees, herself for the first time.

Review by Meg, age 9:

Too Tall Alice is a good book. I could not completely understand Too Tall Alice because at first she does not like being tall, and I like being tall. But I like the way the whole book looks handwritten and drawn by hand. And I like how a little basket ball player is hidden in every picture. I think that people who don’t like being different from everyone else should read this book.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Tom Morrisey's Pirate Hunter ~ Reviewed

Pirate Hunter
Tom Morrisey
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Bethany House; 1 edition (July 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0764203487


High Seas Adventure Meets a High-Tech Quest for Pirate Gold West Indies, 18th century Young Ted Bascombe is rescued by notorious pirate Captain Henry Thatch, finding himself caught up in a world of crime, adventure, and a daily fight for freedom.... Key West, 21st century Marine archaeologist Greg Rhode embarks on a treasure-hunting expedition in the turquoise waters of the Florida Keys, but he's as beguiled by a beautiful diver with different-colored eyes as by the lure of pirate gold...The Hunt Is On! Interweaving these two stories, pro deep-sea diver Tom Morrisey spins a multilayered tale of two young men's quests to escape their past by losing themselves to adventure on the high seas. Romantic and thrilling, this unique novel explores the timeless truth that "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

If you would like to read the first chapter of Pirate Hunter, go HERE


This novel is not incredible, but very enjoyable. Each page and chapter keeps a reader thirsting for what comes next. In a way this is both a contemporary novel and a historical. Just about every other chapter is in two different stories that are very different, but at the same time similar in theory and lesson. The characters are easy to come to admire and appreciate even the proverbial "bad guys". At times in some chapters there were parts where I felt that I was overrun with information, but then in the next part of the story I felt those two page of words were necessary after all even though while reading through them I slightly lost interest. One of the best skills as a writer that I enjoyed while reading my first novel from Tom Morrisey was the way that he opened a next chapter going from one century to another and truly weaving the stories together in a way that fit perfectly. Over all this is a pretty great book that really gets a reader into the world of contemporary treasure hunters and opens a port hole of insight into the world of repentant pirates. I recommend it.

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Bonus Review:

“This is how our Savior views repentance, and who are we to view it elsewise?” (p. 249)

WOW, and DOUBLE WOW! I’ve read Tom Morrisey before, but this…Pirate Hunter…is his most amazing tale! When you try to blend two stories, one present-day and one Eighteenth century, it would seem an impossibility. But Tom Morrisey tells the tale of Captain Henry Thatch and a young, freed slave named Ted Bascombe alongside the story of Treasure Hunter Greg Rhode and his newly discovered soul-mate and blends them so seamlessly you look forward to the end of each chapter just to see how marvelously it blends into the beginning of the next!

This is a story of treasure hunting in both the cannon-and-sword sense as well as the GPS and diving sense. However, on a much deeper and satisfying level, this is the story of everyone’s search for the ultimate treasure – forgiveness and redemption. A more unlikely gathering of characters you’ll never find than the ones that leap from the pages of Pirate Hunter. The story plot itself seems an unlikely location for spiritual truth too, but you will find it seamlessly and believably woven into the tale.

You will be drawn in from the very beginning, and by the time you reach the final chapters, you will feel the breeze on your face as the pages fly by! It is no exaggeration at all to tell you this is one of the most satisfying reads I’ve had lately. I’ve laughed. I’ve cried. I’ve held my breath. I’ve rejoiced. I am one well-satisfied reader!

Reviewed by: Kim Ford

Yet Another Bonus Review:

Tom Morrisey torques up the tension, tackles bitterness and rolls out an extremely readable and fascinating story in Pirate Hunter. Interconnected eras meld as heroic, but broken, men face weather, revenge, greed, evil and redemption. Tom Morrisey has secured his spot on my favorite author shelf.

Morrisey writes rock-solid and often beautiful prose while creating characters that are believable and plot lines that snap, zing and crackle with intensity. Man, woman, Christian, undecided, I can't imagine anyone feeling like a few hours with Morrisey is anything less than a very satisfying and well-spent chunk of time.

With diver and pirate lingo, historical bits and pieces, and three-dimensional characters, Morrisey unfurls two distinct yet similar tales. I grew to respect and admire the pirates as much as the modern day hunters. I also appreciated the soul-searching struggles of the main characters as they became open to the truth that wanted to set them free. Strongly spiritual, but not overtly preachy, plenty of adventure and a bit of blood without extremely gruesome scenes, heavy emotion without the trickery to pull emotion from the reader, Morrisey handles the story with excellent wordsmithing and storytelling. The only folks who may not dive fully into this story are folks who want blow-by-blow relational details where love is involved and those who don't want to deal with any technical details.

Pirate and Morrisey fans are going to want to check into this one.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Allison Pittman's Stealing Home ~ Reviewed

Stealing Home: A Novel
by Allison K. Pittman
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Multnomah Books (April 14, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1601421362


It's 1905 and the Chicago Cubs are banking on superstar Donald "Duke" Dennison's golden arm to help them win the pennant. Only one thing stands between Duke and an unprecedented ten thousand dollar contract: alcohol.

That's when sportswriter David Voyant whisks Duke to the one-horse town of Picksville, Missouri, so he can sober up in anonymity. He bides his time flirting with Ellie Jane Voyant, his unofficial chaperone, who would rather hide herself in the railway station ticket booth than face the echoes of childhood taunts. Ned Clovis, the feed store clerk, has secretly loved Ellie Jane since childhood, but he loves baseball and the Duke almost as much-until he notices Ellie Jane may be succumbing to the star's charm. Then there's Morris, a twelve-year-old Negro boy, whose only dream is to break away from Picksville. When Duke discovers his innate talent for throwing a baseball, Morris might just have found his way out. Four individuals, each living in haunted isolation, each harboring a secret passion. Providence brings them together. Tragedy threatens to tear them apart. Will love be enough to bring them home.


Home is a place of belonging – a place of safety – a place where you are accepted and loved for who you are and where you can find strength and forgiveness. Duke Dennison and Morris are two people who have never had a real home. Even though Duke has reached fame with his baseball talent, he has been unable to overcome the desire to hide his deep-seated pain in a bottle of liquor. Morris is just a young twelve-year-old boy, but the color of his skin and the harsh treatment of those who are supposed to be his family have turned his heart toward bigger things, and his focus has become one of escaping to a different place where he can be the man he wants to be.

These two very unlikely characters meet up with two even more unlikelier people in the small town of Picksville. Ellie Jane Voyant is the spinster who works the ticket booth at the local train station, and Ned Clovis is the deaf man who runs the local feed store. These two have grown up together and are as familiar to each other as the air that they breathe. However, when Duke Dennison comes to town, nothing is ever the same again.

As Duke rediscovers his hunger for baseball, he finds that the love for the game unites people like nothing else can. The game transforms the town, ignites dreams long forgotten and births new desires within hearts that have long ceased to hope for change. Self-discovery takes place in the most unusual ways, and suddenly the longing to have something more, something more meaningful than the everyday routine of before takes hold and begins to transform lives.

Stealing Home confronts a myriad of issues; racism, addiction, fear, hopelessness, hope and salvation. All of these and more are woven within a story that is part coming-of-age, part love story and part hometown adventure. I was drawn into this story and not able to turn loose until I reached the final page. The ending…it wasn’t what I was expected, and while realistic considering the setting, wasn’t what I longed for. But somehow even the ending fit the overall tone of the novel and left me knowing that God alone is the answer for all of us whatever our circumstance.

Truly, it’s hard for me to sum up this novel. It was beautiful, harsh, dark and light all rolled together. It left me hopeful but kind of sad too. I am pleased to recommend Stealing Home to everyone who enjoys a historical novel with timeless themes of the human condition and the hope that God offers each of us to overcome our own depravity.

Reviewed by: Kim Ford

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Brandilyn Collins's Exposure~ Reviewed

by Brandilyn Collins
Published by Zondervan
ISBN-13: 9780310276432


When your worst fear comes true. Someone is watching Kaycee Raye. But who will believe her? Everyone knows she’s a little crazy. Kaycee’s popular syndicated newspaper column pokes fun at her own paranoia and multiple fears. The police in her small town are well aware she makes money writing of her experiences. Worse yet, she has no proof of the threats. Pictures of a dead man mysteriously appear in her home—then vanish before police arrive. Multisensory images flood Kaycee’s mind. Where is all this coming from? Maybe she is going over the edge. High action and psychological suspense collide in this story of terror, twists, and desperate faith. The startling questions surrounding Kaycee pile high. Her descent to answers may prove more than she can survive.


Before you finish this book you will trade the seatbelt in for a harness. The author keeps you on the edge of your seat as each scene is played out. The characters face situations that have the reader wondering what is coming next. Not for the faint of heart! Brandilyn Collins certainly is a master of suspense.

Ginger Aster -- Suwanee, GA

Bonus Review:

Collins' no-nonsense and perfectly honed voice harmonizes with broken and needy characters, hope, and full-on tension in Exposure. Kaycee's story wends throughout this novel, intersecting with another story that hints and then screams of a conclusion that will tie the two together.

Kaycee, a recovering fearful person, faces a relapse after a friend faces the worst possible fear and loses. Kaycee discovers that the "healing" she thought she'd found was just her many fears talked into dormancy. As she begins to see and hear things, her imagination takes over making even she question her sanity. All told in Collins' strong, to-the-point narrative in multiple points of view.

Tense and almost unrelenting until the conclusion which leaves an opening for more stories involving Kaycee. I read it in bits and pieces until I just had to stay and finish it during a lazy afternoon marathon. Collins fans should not be disappointed.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Monday, July 13, 2009

Jenny B. Jones's So Not Happening ~ Reviewed

So Not Happening
By Jennifer B. Jones
Published by Thomas Nelson
ISBN# 978-1-56554-541-1
327 pages

Back Cover:

New York’s social darling Isabella Kirkwood just woke up in a nightmare: Oklahoma.

Isabella Kirkwood had it all: popularity at a prestigious private school in Manhattan, the latest fashions, and a life of privilege and luxury.

Then her father, a plastic surgeon to the stars, decided to trade her mother in for a newer model.

When her mother starts over with her new husband, Bella is forced to pack up and leave all she knows to live with her new family in Oklahoma. Before her mother can even say “I do,” Bella’s life becomes a major “don’t.”

Can Bella survive her crazy new family? Will the school survive Bella? How can a girl go on when her charmed life is gone and God gives her the total smack down?


I totally enjoyed this first juvenile fiction book I’ve read by Jenny B. Jones. I found myself smiling and laughing out loud as I read about Isabella’s adventures in Oklahoma. I was drawn to this book by the pig and the green purse on the front cover – I had to know the story behind the pig. I jumped into reading this book without knowing anything about it. Let me tell you what a treat I found. It was a great surprise to discover how funny this author can be. Not So Happening, reminded me of Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie trying to live on a farm. Isabella Kirkwood totally reminds me of these two gals (Paris and Nicole in the reality show where they had to do normal chores while living with a regular family on their farm.) It also reminded me of the show Lizzie McGuire and how her cartoon conscience would talk to her and help her make the right choices.

Isabella describes her week to a friend, “My mother just married a six-foot-five farmer, I have two new brothers preprogrammed to hate me…” Bella then describes the reaction she had to her new room on the farm,. “I stare. Mute. Appalled at the décor around me. I think 1970 came for a visit, threw up, and never left…”

Bella writes in her blog to her readers,”…please keep me in your thoughts and prayers … I will be living on a farm complete with dirt roads and cows… ladies my situation is dire. This town probably has no fashion. No style. No Starbucks, people! War criminals probably see better conditions” Yes, Bella is dramatic, but that’s the appeal and fun of her character.

Bella is thrown into circumstances totally foreign to her and doesn’t really know how to react. All she thinks about is how to get back to New York where her father lives and where she has lived all of her life. I love how Jenny has Isabella Kirkwood uncover a mystery and learn about the really important of life. I can’t wait to read the next installment of this series. You can read this with your daughter or by yourself. Jenny takes you into Isabella’s world quickly. You’ll be entertained and learn a few things along the way. It’s a great blend!

Reviewed by: Nora St. Laurent
Book Club Servant Leader

Friday, July 10, 2009

Christopher Meeks's The Brightest Moon of the Century ~ Reviewed

The Brightest Moon of the Century (Paperback)
by Christopher Meeks
Paperback: 324 pages
Publisher: White Whisker Books (March 7, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0615249140

Product Description

In Christopher Meeks's "The Brightest Moon of the Century," Edward, a young Minnesotan, is blessed with an abundance of "experience"-first when his mother dies and next when his father, an encyclopedia salesman, shoehorns Edward into a private boys school where he's tortured and groomed. Edward needs a place in the universe, but he wants an understanding of women. He stumbles into romance in high school, careens through dorm life in college, whirls into a tornado of love problems as a mini-mart owner in a trailer park in Alabama, and aims for a film career in Los Angeles. Will his love for a Latina prove to be the one? In nine chapters, the reader experiences Edward's life from ages 14 to 45. This is the first novel from Christopher Meeks, which follows his highly acclaimed collections of short stories, "The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea" and "Months and Seasons."


Chris Meeks melds his mastery of short stories with a coming of age tale in his first novel. The reader is invited to follow Edward from his awkward and insecure youth into the often awkward and insecure middle years of his life. Each section of the novel covers the mushroom cloud events that shape Edward’s life and character, and each section reads a little like a snapshot, or stand alone short story. The story of the young Edward was familiar to me as he has appeared in Meeks prior short story compilations.

Moon is definitely a coming of age story but it doesn’t span a single summer or a handful of years. Instead it is a journey and very realistically portrayed one at that. After all, humans are creatures who hopefully never stop learning and change slowly into better people once they absorb some life lessons. Meeks has chosen some fascinating pivot points in Edward’s life, spending pages on the set up of a mini-mart and then resorting to mere paragraphs to narrate other huge life events.

Squeamish and sensitive readers should be aware of some language and quite a bit of sexuality. For example, Meeks pulls few punches when narrating Edward’s epiphany at a sperm bank.

Overall, Meeks tells a good story with believable characters. Readers who love melancholy voices should find quite a bit to like in Brightest Moon. Having just finished it I can say I'm happy for Edward's upbeat hope though the ending is less than happily ever after.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Liz Johnson’s The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn ~ Reviewed

The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn
By: Liz Johnson
Published by Steeple Hill

Back Cover:


Myles Parsons is just another inmate in Kenzie Thorn’s GED course. . .until his abduction plan succeeds. Terrified, Kenzie doesn’t want to believe his explanation. That he’s Myles Borden, FBI agent—placed undercover because someone wants her dead.

Now that Myles has got her out of harm’s way, his plans start to fall apart. He attempts to take Kenzie to a safe house—but the stubborn woman won’t go! He struggles to protect her even as she takes care of him. He tries to keep his distance. . .and finds himself falling in love.


“I’m an FBI agent. I was assigned to protect you inside the prison.”

But having been forced at knifepoint to drive into the wilderness, Kenzie Thorn isn’t sure she believes anything Myles Parsons has to say—and as a reader, neither was I.

I worried as I started reading that this book would fall into a predictable pattern: larger-than-life-FBI agent—timid, defenseless heroine—unstoppable, vengeance driven villain. Fortunately, Ms. Johnson quickly dispelled those fears. As the hero, Myles definitely had his flaws, and Kenzie proved anything but defenseless. And the villain? Well, let’s just say there’s a nice little twist at the end that I won’t give away here.

Skillfully weaving tension and humor, Liz Johnson had me daydreaming about Special Agent heroes who sleep in their cars to protect their client’s reputation, and who tell the truth no matter the cost. This was fun read with believable conflict. Overall, The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn is an entertaining book I am glad to recommend.

Reviewed by: Elizabeth Ludwig

Bonus Review:

The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn adheres to the suspenseful romane genre -- boy meets girl, sparks fly, hearts burst, some big miscommunication or issue rips the couple apart then comes the longed for happily ever after conclusion. Add the elements of faith or inspiration and you’ve got a Christian romance.

I have to admit that romance isn’t my favorite. I tend to lean a little more toward realism and the issues that wreck budding fictionalized romances often make me crabby. Really. And, no matter how nice it is to hope for, real men rarely speak romance. Romantic suspense is a much better fit for me. That said Liz Johnson has created the classic, must-have romance characters and scenarios but added a few fresh elements that made Kidnapping an enjoyable read. A nice twist or two ramped up the suspense and the ending was very satisfying. Her storyline is creative, her writing is solid and the faith elements are strong.

Those of you who love romance should look further into this novel. Chickens need to be aware of a little intensity and some blood. Non-romance fans may decide to investigate further into it after checking out the story premise.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Monday, July 06, 2009

Tom Pawlik's Valley of the Shadow ~ Reviewed

Valley of the Shadow
By Tom Pawlik
Published by: Tyndale
335 Pages

Back Cover:

Conner Hayden is certain he survived his near-death experience for a reason. He thinks it’s to save the life—and soul—of Mitch Kent. Mitch’s body remains on life support while his spirit is trapped with the old farmer Howard Bristol in the Interworld—a strange and dangerous dimension that Conner narrowly escaped during his brush with death in Pawlik’s award-winning debut novel, Vanish.


“There’s two guys—two kids in a car,” Jim’s voice was shaky. Out of breath. “I think they’ve just been shot…” Tom pulls you into his story quickly and he never stops drawing you deeper and deeper into his thoughtfully woven story.

Tom Pawlik has a very creative imagination and an exciting writing style that keeps you turning the pages to see what he’s created for you to experience next. Tom gives you a glimpse into a universe—interworld—beyond the physical, into heavenly realms and beyond.

I haven’t read anything this creative, refreshing and eye opening since Frank Peretti hit the book world with This Present Darkness. Tom Pawlik has a gift of lifting the veil for us so he can give us a peek into the spiritual struggle we can’t see here on earth.

The main characters thought of Eternity. “It was serious business after all. Eternity. Conner was surprised—and saddened—at how little thought most people seemed to give the topic. Death was the one thing they could be certain of, yet they acted as if ignorance would make them live forever.”

This author also has a good sense of humor, “Conner, you’ve gone from being a hard-core agnostic to the apostle Paul in a matter of weeks. Didn’t you think that might be a little disconcerting to some of your friends?”

This book is not for the faint of heart. Although there is a very powerful spiritual thread throughout the entire story the author reveals the evil side of this world and that of the next. It may make you feel uncomfortable, but it does make you think. There are haunting situations that are woven in the middle of some spiritually amazing scenes. Tom Pawlik stays away from being totally gruesome; I wouldn’t have been able to read this book if he would’ve gone over the edge.

I think Tom Pawlik has a good balance of good and evil portrayed in this novel. Please push through the parts that make you go ‘Hmmm,’ my friend, because this author also takes you to the mountain tops and your spirit will soar! It will give you hope, and a new perspective of just how much the Lord cares for you. You won’t stop thinking about this story after you’ve finished. You can count on it!!

Reviewed by: Nora St. Laurent
Book Club Servant Leader

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Rob Stennett's The End is Now ~ Reviewed

The End is Now
By Rob Stennett
Published by: Zondervan
ISBN# 978-0-310-28679-0
335 Pages

Back Cover:

Goodland, Kansas is a small Midwest town where nothing new or exciting ever happens…until now. Are the recent happenings and catastrophic weather mere coincidence, or more? The town spirals into chaos and confusion as its residents discover the end is no longer near-the end is now.

Stuck in the middle is the Henderson family: Jeff, a struggling salesman who lives with nagging fear; Will, who’s just trying to figure out life in the fifth grade; Emily, whose greatest concern is that she won’t be nominated homecoming queen; and Amy, who is growing stir-crazy from being a housewife-and is convinced this was God’s plan B for her life.

Rob Stennett’s second novel is both satire and a story of apocalyptic proportion, a thriller, and an exploration of family, community, belief, unbelief, and the two thousand-year-old Christian tradition of looking to the sky because the end is near.


“Goodland, Kansas, is the test market for the rapture. The ultimate warning sign for all to repent,” That’s what the locals feel they are anyway.

“..Once everyone sees how powerful the rapture is, they will hit the floor and repent of their sins. Everyone, everywhere, will know the truth. Not only that, but this event will provide God a chance to see what worked and what didn’t. He can watch the good, the bad, and the ugly of the apocalypse so He can know how to improve it when He takes it global.”

I don’t know about you but this is funny stuff!! Rob Stennett takes a serious subject many talk about all over the world and puts a “what if” scenario to it. He reminds me of a comedian Steven Wright who said, “I received a post card from my friend. It was a picture of the whole world. My friend wrote, “Wish you were here!”. Steven says, “I thought I was!”

This book also reminds me of Eli, a story written by Bill Myers, that entertains the scenario of, ‘what if Jesus were to be born for the first time in our generation.’ Sad to say the same things would happen to Jesus, maybe just happen a little sooner in this generation because of instant communication.

Do you live by these rules? a character asks, “What I believe, sir, are two simple rules: Plan for the worst and hope for the best. Better safe than sorry. Those two rules have kept me alive for a long time, and they’ll keep me alive when everyone else is running around like chickens with their heads cut off.” Do these rules sound familiar?

Rob got me thinking about some questions he brought up in, The End is Now. How would we know the end was here? What would it look like? Why has Goodland, Kansas felt that they were the test market for the rapture? This author says stuff out loud-and in print, that we would never dare verbalize to our friends (or anyone else for that matter).

As you read and start smiling then laughing, you’ll be caught off guard by some definite things to ponder- things you hadn’t thought of before about the end. For example, “God didn’t need the test market for the rapture. After all, He is God. He already knows everything. He was, is, and forever will be omnipotent…. Maybe the testing was more for all of us. This is the age of skepticism. This is the age where the answers to any of life’s questions are just a Google search away. So, perhaps humankind will need a sneak preview of what the rapture looks like so they can know how to respond.” And ready their hearts (I added the last comment).

When the rubber meets the road and The End is Now, what do you really believe? This story will make you laugh out loud and then hit a cord in your heart when you read something a character said or thought. Something that you hadn’t considered or felt you believed until you read it. I really loved that about this story. It’s funny, honest, and makes you think.

I can now see why God will NOT tell us exactly when the END will happen – we just could not take it. It is way more information than the human race can handle. Thanks Rob, for taking me away into a scenario I haven’t thought much about--until now. It just goes to show me that my Father in Heaven loves me so much, wants the best for me; which means He’s keeping his mouth shut about the exact moment the END will happen. Rob, I appreciate you making me laugh, look at life, relationships and what’s really important. We’re here to do more than sleep walk through life. Each chapter in this book is from a different characters point of view on their take as to what is really happening in Goodland Kansas. It’s a hoot!! You just have to read this book. So, grab a copy and read about The End! It just might give you the nudge you need to really start living your life. You won’t be sorry you did.

Reviewed by: Nora St. Laurent Book Club Servant Leader

Thursday, July 02, 2009

ACFW July Book Releases

1. A Promise Kept, Heartsong Presents Historical Ohio Book 1 , by Cara C. Putman from Heartsong Present. Newleyweds Josie & Art must choose whether to honor the promises they've made when their relationship experiences the fire of pain.

2. Blackmail, sixth and final book in the Bayou Series, by Robin Carroll from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. The sixth and final book in Robin Carroll's romantic suspense bayou series.

3. Cranberry Hearts, by Lena Nelson Dooley, Beth Goddard and Lisa Harris from Barbour Publishing. What will happen when three Massachusetts women find their journeys home lead them down dangerous paths?

4. Deadly Intent, by Camy Tang from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. Massage therapist Naomi Grant must prove her innocence when her client is murdered in her family's Sonoma day spa.

5. Gripped By Fear, The Chicago Warriors Series, by John M. Wills from TotalRecall. Two Chicago Detectives struggle to capture a serial rapist.

6. Hometown Courtship, by Diann Hunt from Steeple Hill Love Inspired. A carpenter and a hair stylist work to build a house together--but are they building much more?

7. Lonestar Secrets, Lonestar Series Book 2, by Colleen Coble from Thomas Nelson. A young veterinarian returns to her childhood home and finds the man who humiliated her may be in custody of a daughter she thought had died.

8. Love's Rescue, The Sierra Chronicles Book One, by Tammy Barley from Whitaker House. A headstrong Southern woman falls for her kidnapper, a Western cattleman she blames for the loss of her family.

9. Maggie Rose, Second in The Daughters of Jacob Kane series , by Sharlene MacLaren from Whitaker House. Mission-minded Maggie Rose takes a job at an orphanage in New York City, never expecting to fall in love with a hardnosed newspaper reporter.

10. Menu for Romance, Brides of Bonneterre Series Book #2, by Kaye Dacus from Barbour Publishing. The Chef and the Party Planner Each Seek the Kind of Love that Requires No Reservations.

11. Montana Rose, by Mary Connealy from Barbour Publishing. Love Comes Softy, with mayhem, comedy and gunfire.

12. Ransome's Honor, Book 1 The Ransome Trilogy, by Kaye Dacus from Harvest House PUblishers. Once Youthful Sweethearts—Can Their Love Be Renewed?

13. Rose of the Adriatic, Sequel to Jewel of the Adriatic , by K.M. Daughters from The Wild Rose Press. Messages of hope and peace for the world from Our Lady of Medjugorje woven into a prayerful, fictional love story.

14. Second Chance Family, Fostered by Love Series Book 4, by Margaret Daley from Steeple Hill Love Inspired. Whitney and Shane, two wounded people, come together to try and help each other heal from their past through the appeal of a little boy who is autistic.

15. The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn, by Liz Johnson from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. Kenzie Thorn is surprised when she's kidnapped from the prison where she teaches a GED course, and even more shocking is that someone wants her dead.

16. The Last Resort, The Wanderlust Mysteries Book 2, by April Star from Five Star Gale I Cengage Learning. One woman's murder and a bottle washed ashore on the St. Anastasia beach open a Pandora's box and unleash secrets pursued by an entire camping resort . . . and the truth proves as elusive as the killer in their midst.

17. The Sacred Cipher, by Terry Brennan from Kregel Publications. An ancient, secret scroll could trigger nuclear war or world peace, four Americans are caught in the crossfire, and opposing radicals will stop at nothing to silence The Sacred Cipher.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Patti Lacy's What the Bayou Saw ~ Reviewed

What the Bayou Saw
By Patti Lacy
Published by Kregel Publications
ISBN-10: 0825429374


The past can't stay buried forever Rising author Patti Lacy's second novel exposes the life of Sally, set amid the shadows of prejudice in Louisiana. Since leaving her home in the South, Sally Stevens has held the secrets of her past at bay, smothering them in a sunny disposition and sugar-coated lies. No one, not even her husband, has heard the truth about her childhood. But when one of her students is violently raped, Sally's memories quickly bubble to the surface unbidden, like a dead body in a bayou. As Sally's story comes to light, the lies she's told begin to catch up with her. And as her web of deceit unravels, she resolves to face the truth at last, whatever the consequences.


Patti Lacy writes with abandon--exuberant prose with a magnetism aimed straight at the reader. Her second novel, What The Bayou Saw, is a compelling, page-turning read that recalls a tumultuous past, this time for Sally Stevens, a college professor. When one of her students, a gifted African-American girl, is brutally beaten, old memories that Sally has kept hidden for thirty years are stirred. As the layers are peeled back, Sally discovers not only the misdeeds of others, but also a blackness in her own soul that stemmed from an incident with her childhood friend, Ella.

Deeply honest, the prose sometimes stings with gritty reality about the prejudices of the South--from the swamps of Sally's childhood to Katrina-ravaged New Orleans. Ultimately, it's a story of faith, the sometimes twisty road to forgiveness, and God's abundant grace. I think you'll be delighted with the detours in the scenery, as Sally and Ella wrap themselves around your heart.

Patti Lacy is a gifted storyteller, with a knack for drawing rich settings that linger long after the last page.

Reviewed by Carla Stewart