Friday, December 31, 2010

Suzanne Woods Fisher's The Waiting ~ Reviewed


Waiting, The: A Novel (Lancaster County Secrets)
Suzanne Woods Fisher
Paperback: 311 pages
Publisher: Revell; Original edition (October 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 080073386X


Description:

Jorie King has been waiting for Benjamin Zook to return home to Lancaster County so they can marry. When news arrives that Ben has been killed, Jorie finds comfort in the friendship of his brother Caleb. That friendship ripens into love, and it seems that they are meant to be together. But when the unexpected happens, their worlds are turned upside down once more.

Will Jorie trust God to lead her into the arms of a new man?

Review:

Suzanne Fisher Wood returns with her second Lancaster County Secrets novel set during the war in Vietnam. While Amish novels rarely find their way to my TBR, both of Suzanne's have been enjoyable and for me, it comes down to Suzanne's character development. The focus of her stories are on the emotions, heartache, hopes and dreams of her characters rather than the religious order and rules, which appeals to me. Jorie, Cal, Ben and Ephraim are unique and complex, each dealing with grief and pain, battling duty and love and facing difficult choices. The only drawback for me was the slow pacing of the story which is not unexpected for an Amish novel, otherwise The Waiting is a satisfying read.

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Patricia Hickman's The Pirate Queen ~ Reviewed


The Pirate Queen
By Patricia Hickman
Published by WaterBrook
ISBN 978-1-4000-7200-2

Description

The envy of all her friends, wife and mother Saphora Warren is the model of southern gentility and accomplishment. She lives in a beautiful Lake Norman home, and has raised three capable adult children. Her husband is a successful plastic surgeon--and a philanderer. It is for that reason that, after hosting a garden party for Southern Living magazine, Saphora packs her bags to escape the trappings of the picturesque-but-vacant life.

Saphora’s departure is interrupted by her husband Bender’s early arrival home, and his words that change her life forever: I’m dying.

Against her desires, Saphora agrees to take care of Bender as he fights his illness. They relocate, at his insistence, to their coastal home in Oriental—the same house she had chosen for her private getaway. When her idyllic retreat is overrun by her grown children, grandchildren, townspeople, relatives, and a precocious neighbor child, Saphora’s escape to paradise is anything but the life she had imagined. As she gropes for evidence of God's presence amid the turmoil, can she discover that the richest treasures come in surprising packages?

Review

Exquisitely written, The Pirate Queen has taken a place in my top 10 for 2010. The story is complex and yet deceptively simple. Hickman's characters virtually stepped off the pages and into my life, as I experienced Saphora's cornucopia of emotions. If The Pirate Queen were a meal, I'd be completely full. As a novel, I'll call it rich and satisfying. Novel Journey and I give it our highest recommendation. A definite 5 star must read!

Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan
Editor, Novel Journey


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Karen Kingsbury's Unlocked ~ Reviewed


Unlocked [Paperback]
Karen Kingsbury
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (October 12, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310266955


Description:


Before You Take a Stand ... You Got to Take a Chance. Holden Harris is an eighteen-year-old locked in a prison of autism. Despite his quiet ways and quirky behaviors, Holden is very happy and socially normal---on the inside, in a private world all his own. In reality, he is bullied at school by kids who only see that he is very different. Ella Reynolds is part of the 'in' crowd. A cheerleader and star of the high school drama production, her life seems perfect. When she catches Holden listening to her rehearse for the school play, she is drawn to him ... the way he is drawn to the music. Then, Ella makes a dramatic discovery---she and Holden were best friends as children. Frustrated by the way Holden is bullied, and horrified at the indifference of her peers, Ella decides to take a stand against the most privileged and popular kids at school. Including her boyfriend, Jake. Ella believes miracles can happen in the unlikeliest places, and that just maybe an entire community might celebrate from the sidelines. But will Holden's praying mother and the efforts of Ella and a cast of theater kids be enough to unlock the prison that contains Holden? This time, friendship, faith, and the power of a song must be strong enough to open the doors to the miracle Holden needs.

Review:

Unlocked is the story of an 18 year old autistic boy, Holden, who is lost in his own world. A childhood friend, Ella, whom he has not seen since he was three, gets to know him and decides to befriend and help him.

Having worked with autistic children for a short time, this book really hit home for me. Once you pick it up, you will find it difficult to put it down. An aspect of the book that I loved is how Karen Kingsbury got inside of Holden’s head, so you could see what he is thinking. So many times with autistic children, they are unable to communicate verbally, and one thinks that they have no idea what is going on around them. In Holden’s case, the reader learns that he is very much aware of his surroundings and what’s going on, maybe more so than the average person.

Holden’s friend, Ella, uses music to reach him. Being a music person myself, I love how this book shows how powerful music is. Through music, Holden was able to open up and express himself as he had never been able to do before.

I suppose the best part of this book for me is the fact that Holden was diagnosed with autism at age 3, but still remembered going to church and praying as a child. He loved Jesus and prayed constantly for those around him. I think it serves as a good reminder that through the help of our Lord Jesus Christ, child or adult, autistic or mentally challenged, people can be reached and lives can be changed.

This is one of the best Christian fiction books I have ever read and I highly recommend it.

Reviewed by: Sarah Porter

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tracie Peterson's Twilight's Serenade ~ Reviewed


Twilight's Serenade (Song of Alaska Series, Book 3)
Tracie Peterson
Paperback: 334 pages
Publisher: Bethany House (August 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0764201530

Description:

Britta Lindquist left Sitka six years ago in an attempt to distance herself from the love of her life, Yuri Belikov. Upon her return, she finds Yuri absent and his wife about to deliver a child. When tragic circumstances ensue, Britta suddenly finds herself caring for Yuri's children--and her life intertwining with the man she's tried so hard to forget. But Britta's other great love is for the violin, and her talent is recognized by Brenton Maltese, a conductor from England. He proposes she accept the coveted first chair position in his orchestra...and also his hand in marriage. At a crossroads, Britta must determine what her heart truly longs for--and if she's willing to fight for it.


Review:

I love historical fiction from Tracie Peterson and I love her books set in Alaska, but I did not love this book. It was okay. It was the third and final book in the Song of Alaska series, not really a generation later, but almost it continued the story of Britta, the daughter of our protagonist from the first book, Dawn's Prelude and the sister of our main character from the second book in the series, Morning's Refrain, both of which I loved. Even though this was not my favorite read from Tracie, I still will buy just about anything she writes in the historical genre.

Britta fell in love with Yuri in the second novel at the age of seven after a terrifying event. In this novel she attempts to be patient and let things go in the timing of God, but I felt that she was very forceful and whiny just about the entire book and she bothered me greatly. Yuri has a painful past that keeps pulling him back from aspiring to be a good Christian man which was real and made for a good plot that anyone can relate to. I just had serious issues with Britta stating that she was timid in a way and then forcing her way upon various people. I'm not sorry I read this one, but I did not like it much.

*Thanks to Bethany House for providing a copy for review
through the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance.*


Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Monday, December 27, 2010

Leisha Kelly's The House on Malcolm Street ~ Reviewed



House on Malcolm Street, The: A Novel
Leisha Kelly
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Revell; Original edition (September 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0800733282

Description:


It is the autumn of 1920, and Leah Breckenridge is desperate to find a way to provide for her young daughter. After losing her husband and infant son, she is angry at God and fearful about the days ahead. Finding refuge in a boardinghouse run by her late husband's aunt, Leah begins the slow process of mending her heart.

Is it the people who surround her--or perhaps this very house--that reach into her heart with healing? As Leah finds peace tending to an abandoned garden, can she find a way to trust God with her future

Review:

Leisha Kelly has penned a moving story of a young widow and her small daughter forced to rely on the generosity and goodwill of her late husband's aunt. Bitter over her tragic losses and the estrangement from her father, Leah resents the interference of Aunt Marigold's other boarder, Josiah Walsh. In the same vein, Josiah finds Leah aloof and unfriendly exuding a palpable grief that chafes his own wounded heart. The House on Malcolm Street is a study of human emotion and the healing power of faith. With authenticity and insight, Leisha exposes both the broken-hearted and the beauty of a child's soul. The slow pacing will not suit readers accustomed to page turners nor those looking for romance but it is a journey of exploration and healing well worth taking.

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas


Wishing you a delightful Christmas ... white if you are dreaming of snow ... full of rich relationships and delicious goodies that are calorie free.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Susan Page Davis's The Crimson Cipher ~ Reviewed


The Crimson Cipher
Susan Page Davis
Christian Historical Romance (Espionage!)
Pages: 320 Trade Paperback
Date Published: July 1, 2010
Publisher: Summerside Press

Description:

IT'S 1915, AND EMMA SHUSTER HAS FAR TOO MUCH ON HER MIND TO ENTERTAIN NOTIONS OF ROMANCE...

A female Navy cryptographer seeks to save lives...and uncover her father’s killers.

In 1915, German sympathizers escalated acts of sabotage in the United States to keep the nation from joining in the war. With enemies lurking at every turn, whom can Emma trust? Is romance the true motive behind her tow suitors advances? Or could one-or both of them-have traitorous intentions in mind?

Following the mysterious murder of Emma Shuster’s father, Lt. John Patterson invites Emma to become a Navy cryptographer because of the expertise she gained in helping her father develop a cipher system.

Emma races to discover the nefarious plans of her country's foes and unmask their leader before others are killed. She finds new strength in her faith as she strives to outwit her adversary, known only as Kobold - German for goblin.

And yet, her greatest challenge may be deciphering the cryptic messages her heart sends whenever she encounters a certain navy lieutenant... Can Emma and John find love in the midst of turmoil as America plunges toward war?

Review:

I love a good espionage novel, and this story about a code breaker is an absolute delight. Although I had been introduced to the writing of author Susan Page Davis in another historical series that was not quite my cup of tea for the portion I read, I enjoyed this book so much that I will have to give that series another chance. The Crimson Cipher has mystery that keeps you on edge and romance that makes you just melt. The verbiage was great and made me really feel like I was there in the time before America in the Great World War in 1915. Through out the entire novel I was entranced by random details I did not know such as the building of the Washington Mall, the Lincoln Memorial and others. Susan Page Davis did a great job of intertwining historical detail in a heart beating-page turning novel.

I will definitely keep coming back for more from Summerside Press and now also from author Susan Page Davis!

*Thanks to Summerside Press for providing a copy for review through the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance.*


Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Susan May Warren's Double Trouble ~ Reviewed


DOUBLE TROUBLE
By Susan May Warren
Published by: Tyndale
ISBN# 978-1-4143-1313-9
335 Pages


Back Cover:


With one solved case under her belt, PJ Sugar is ready to dive into her career as a private investigator. Or at least a PI's assistant until she can prove herself to Jeremy Kane, her new boss. Suddenly PJ's seeing crime everywhere. But is it just in her head, or can she trust her instincts? When she takes on her first official case, house-sitting for a witness in protective custody, Jeremy assures her there's no danger involved. But it soon becomes clear that there is someone after the witness . . . and now they're after PJ, too.

Review:

What is love? One thing PJ does discover is that love is more than a feeling!

Susan May Warren has created a honest, humorous and smart heroine in PJ, who constantly seems to be tripping over her own feet and making promises that she can't keep. The sparks between PJ and Jeremy fly right off the page and will have readers just as torn between Boone and Jeremy as PJ is.

PJ is out to prove she has what she can to become a real investigator. She’s determined to do whatever it takes to get the job done. I also enjoyed the fact that PJ really does want to do what God has asked her to do; she just isn’t quite sure what that is. She seeks His help but can’t seem to see herself or her situation the way God does. I can relate to PJ and enjoyed her. I found myself in stitches several times throughout this story.

I really liked this novel, it was entertaining, but thought provoking, tender, but mysteriously deep. I like the spiritual thread and the struggle PJ encountered throughout the course of this book - to find out just what God had in store for her life. It’s a struggle that most of us face and could relate to. I also enjoyed the fun cast-off zany characters and the mystery PJ tries to get to the bottom of. I'm very thankful that I received a review copy of this book and I have to say, I totally recommend both books in this series. I’m looking forward to reading Licensed for Trouble, in stores soon.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Margaret Daley's Heart of a Cowboy ~ Reviewed


HEART OF A COWBOY
By Margaret Daley
Published by Steeple Hill Books
ISBN# 978-0-373-87609-9
218 Pages


Back Cover:


Ten years ago Jordan Masterson left her hometown heartbroken--and pregnant. Now, yearning for connection with her family, the single mother returns to Tallgrass, Oklahoma. But she's shocked to find her son's father--unaware he has a child--a vital part of the community. Zachary Rutgers owns the ranch that the local homeschoolers use for riding and recreation. Which means little Nicholas, Jordan and Zachary will be spending a lot of time together. Jordan must tell Zachary the truth about their son--and ask for answers herself. Hoping the heart of her cowboy will still be hers for the taking.

Review:

Jordan Masterson returns to her hometown after being away for ten years. Many things about Tallgrass, Oklahoma have changed, but some things have stayed the same. She has a secret she’s kept for over ten years. Going home, Jordan realizes she can’t keep this secret much longer. She has to face her fears and tell what she’s been hiding.

I enjoyed reading about Jordan Masterson and Zachary Rutgers. They were high school sweethearts torn apart by life’s struggles and different ambitions they had for their lives. Both Jordan and Zachary return to Tallgrass, Oklahoma after being away for years. Each is unaware of the other's return. There were definitely some unresolved issues between them. Could they deal with their issues enough to be friends again? Jordan hoped so...for their son’s sake.

I also liked how the author talked about homeschooling and why someone would consider doing it. Jordan Masterson starts to consider the homeschooling option because of her son Nicholas and how he is not dealing with the public school system so well. I liked how the author had Jordan explore this school option and see if it would be a fit for her son and her life.

This is a sweet romance story filled with heart and soul. I really enjoyed reading about Nicholas, Jordan’s son. He’s such a sweetheart who’s had many challenges to overcome. I’m very thankful for the review copy of this book. This was a fun read I know you’ll enjoy.

Reviewed by: Nora St. Laurent
The Book Club Network


Monday, December 20, 2010

Vanetta Chapman's A Simple Amish Christmas ~ Reviewed


A Simple Amish Christmas
Vannetta Chapman
Published by Abingdon Press
ISBN: 1426710666
256 pages

Back Cover:

Annie Weaver always planned to return home, but the 20-year old RN has lived in Philadelphia for three years now. As her time of rumschpringe is about to come to an abrupt end, bringing for Annie an overwhelming sense of loneliness. She returns home and finds herself face-to-face with Samuel Yoder—the Amish farmer her community turns to for most of their medical needs. Samuel believes he has recovered from the loss of his wife and child in a snowstorm eight years before. Then Annie Weaver upsets his world again—with her youth, energy, and passion for healing.

Review:

This was my first Amish fiction. Normally I pass by such titles, assuming they are overly idealistic, centered around unrealistic, fructose characters. When I read A Simple Amish Christmas, I was pleasantly surprised. Vannetta Chapman managed to bring depth to her characters without losing their unique Amish behaviors and beliefs. The characters were so real, their inner difficulties alone kept me turning page after page. Despite the extreme differences between modern day life and the traditional Amish culture, I related to many of Annie Weaver’s struggles. As a woman, she longs for a family, but she doesn’t want to have to put her brains on the shelf in order to acquire one. Driven by compassion and the gift of mercy, she wants to find a way to use her medical training, but appears prepared to give it up in order to live the life she loves among the community she grew up to depend on if need be. But will God make her choose or will He provide a way for her to do both?

It was clear the author spent a great deal of time researching Amish life and language. Through out the story, traditional language from the Pennsylvanian Amish community is presented. Occasionally, I found this distracting, but most of the time it added to the tone and setting. A glossary of the terms used is provided at the end of the book.

The heroine, Annie Weaver, is a young Amish woman returning to her community after having tasted life among the English, or non-Amish. Her brief time away allowed her to pursue a life-long, perhaps even God-given, love of medicine. Understanding how difficult it must have been for this very sheltered young woman to pursue and complete nursing school, I was impressed by her courage and drive. I understood the fulfillment nursing provided, and the connection she felt with her patients. But I also related with her feelings of restlessness and isolation. Surrounded by a city full of people, she longed for the deep sense of community her Amish family and friends provided. When her father is injured, she hurries home to help him recover. It is then that her two loves, that of community, faith and tradition and her love for medicine, collide.

This was perhaps the best book I have read so far this year.

Reviewed by Jennifer Slattery

Reflections In Hindsight

Friday, December 17, 2010

Susan May Warren's Licensed for Trouble ~ Reviewed


LICENSED FOR TROUBLE
By Susan May Warren
Published by Tyndale
ISBN# 978-1-4143-1314-6
375 Pages


Back Cover:


PJ Sugar receives shocking news that she’s inherited the Kellogg family mansion. Though she has no idea why, the timing is perfect—PJ has clearly worn out her welcome at her sister’s house. Unfortunately, the mansion is in shambles, and PJ is short on cash. Rescue comes in the form of Max Smith, a mysterious handyman willing to trade his services for PJ’s investigative skills. But PJ already has a full docket with cramming for her PI license and nurturing a growing romance with her boss, Jeremy Kane. Can she take on Max’s case without dropping the ball?

Review:

I’m so thankful to have received a review copy of Licensed for Trouble, which is the final installment of this fun, amusing series. In this last book, PJ is still working towards becoming a Private Investigator. The reader learns if PJ will finally pick between Boone, her high school sweet heart, or Jeremy, her boss in the private eye agency, as her boyfriend, or if she dumps them both. I didn’t think PJ would ever make up her mind - Susan May Warren kept us guessing throughout all three books. I appreciated the thought process the author takes PJ on while uncovering her real feelings, figuring out what God wants and what is best for her life. PJ learns how she can listen for the gentle voice of God speaking to her heart. I enjoyed the spiritual thread throughout all three books; it was real and not preachy.

P.J. uncovers some lies she believes about herself and realizes that if she holds onto these lies, she’ll never be all that God intended for her to be. Dare she believe the following things about herself? She was chosen by God. Royal. A possession of God. Heiress, Beloved. Princess. Isn’t that what Jeremy called her?

Can PJ walk out who she is in Christ? She hadn’t considered this a possibility and it’s a huge revelation for her. I appreciated how the author also let the reader think about this powerful message and hopefully learn from PJ’s journey, too. Susan May Warren’s book is entertaining, fun, thought-provoking, mysterious, laugh out-loud funny in parts, light hearted, and has a wide variety of quirky characters I enjoyed reading about.

PJ’s sister finds Max, the handyman, to help PJ fix up a house that was given to her. PJ meets Max and decides that they can help each other. She is feeling overwhelmed by the task of renovating this amazing old house and Max is a handyman who has amnesia and seeks his identity. He says to PJ, “You ever felt like you don’t know yourself? Like when you look in the mirror, you wonder how you got here, how you became the person you are?”

PJ can totally relate to Max and hasn’t lost her memory. She was trying to figure out where she fit in everyday and what God wanted her to do. PJ was adopted and never felt like she was totally a part of the Sugar family. Will she figure out who she is and where she belongs?

I really enjoyed this entertaining novel. It was better than a bubble bath. It whisked me up into PJ’s mystery, with the fun and intriguing facts she uncovered about the house and Max. I liked the spiritual thread and struggle PJ encountered throughout the course of this book. It’s a conflict most of us could relate to. I was fascinated and enjoyed the case PJ tries to get to the bottom of, in her search for Max’s past and her attempts at catching the bail jumper. I have to say, I enjoyed every minute of reading Licensed for Trouble. Susan May Warren gave a very satisfying conclusion to this really enjoyable, tender and likable PJ Sugar series. I’ll definitely be reading more of her books in the future.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Karen Kingbury's Take Four ~ Reviewed



Take Four, Above the Line Series #4
By: Karen Kingsbury
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 352
Vendor: Zondervan
Publication Date: 2010
Dimensions: 8.5 X 5.5 (inches)
ISBN: 0310266270

Description:

In Take Four, after Chase Ryan returns to his family and a job in his hometown, filmmakers Keith Ellison and Dayne Matthews finally ink a deal to have the nation's top young actor star in their current film. But at the same time, the actor takes a very public fall that threatens his reputation among his fan base. Meanwhile, healing happens for Andi Ellison in her relationship with God, her family, and those she loves, but is it too late? The new producers find they must truly act as missionaries in order to help save the film, their families, and the young movie star. Breakthroughs take place that the public will never know about, as the possibility of saving the world through film is finally a very real possibility.

Review:

Take 4 is the final book in the Above the Line Series. What I loved about this series is that Karen Kingsbury still incorporated the Baxter family into the story line. So, for those of you who felt lost after the Sunrise series was completed, you can get your fill in this series!

In book 4, Bailey Flanigan takes her chances in New York but doesn't end up making it into a Broadway show, but it's obvious that the Lord has other plans for her. Bailey is the shining example of a young Christian woman. Though temptations come her way, she is able to stand up to them by staying true to herself and her faith.

Karen Kingsbury addresses the issue of a Christian falling into sexual sin in this series as well, and the consequences of these actions. I like how she brings them to light, and how she shows that even as Christians, we still have struggles and sometimes, we don't always make the right choices, but in the end, Christ is always there, waiting with open arms for us to come back.

The testimony of the Keith Ellison as a Christian film director is also to be commended. It is my hope that people in the film industry might read these books, feel convicted, and take a stand for what is right and true.

If you are a Karen Kingsbury fan, you won't be disappointed in this book. It will leave you anxiously awaiting her next book in a new series!

Reviewed by: Sarah Porter

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Delia Latham's Destiny's Dream ~ Reviewed


Destiny’s Dream by Delia Latham
Published by White Rose Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-61116-050-5
248 pages

Back Cover:

Is a little respect too much to ask at a parent’s funeral?

Apparently it is for Destiny May. Her mother’s “going away party” is crashed by an unfamiliar and totally irreverent guest. Difficult to ignore, Clay Gallagher is built like a small mountain and far more vocal than is fitting for the occasion. When it turns out the annoying stranger is not even at the right funeral, Destiny demands retribution in the form of an escape from the day’s dreary proceedings.

From the beginning, their relationship has some kinks – starting with Destiny’s determination to found a Christian dating service in their conservative town of Castle Creek. A highly esteemed investment broker, Clay has little respect or patience for such a frivolous profession. But when Destiny is threatened by an anonymous caller who deeply resents her and what she does for a living, Clay makes it his business to keep the saucy redhead out of harm’s way.

Trouble is, spending time in her company weakens his defenses … and Cupid’s arrows are known to fly straight to the heart.


Review:

Delia Latham is a delightful writer who can take you from tears to giggles with the flip of a page. The prologue broke my heart when Destiny May, the heroine, said goodbye to her dying mother, yet a few pages later, Delia had me in a fit of giggles—at a funeral, of all places. It was one of those rare laugh-out-loud moments, and she did it without offending me in the slightest.

It was here, at Destiny’s mother’s funeral, that we met our hero, Clay Gallagher. Poor guy. This successful, charming, businessman finds him in a very uncomfortable, and somewhat confusing position.

First, he comes late. Then, he sits beside Destiny, who is trying not to fall apart as the pastor attempts to turn the funeral into a celebration of heaven. Finally, he makes a complete, offensive fool of himself when he proceeds to make one rude comment after another.

It’s enough to send redheaded Destiny into a fit of rage! She is floored, and prepared to give this oaf a piece of her mind, until she catches the mortification on the man’s face. It’s obvious--the man has walked into the wrong funeral! She loses it and bursts out laughing, adding to the poor man’s confusion. (Who appears, upon further reader-understanding, not to be the total jerk we may have thought him to be.)

Before he has a chance to process what’s going on, Destiny whisks him off to the coffee shop for an impromptu date. Not what you’d expect from a grieving daughter. But then again, Destiny May is anything but predictable. Cute, caring, fun, a bit giggly…but not predictable. And Clay doesn’t quite no how to take her.

The more he gets to know her, the more he loves her, until a lovers quarrel breaks them up, and Clay’s younger brother comes in for the kill.

Will Destiny and Clay be able to work out their differences or will this love triangle drive a wedge between them all?

Delia is a fun writer who was able to elicit quite a few giggles from me as I read. Her characters are unique and playful. How she managed to turn a death scene into one of the most comical events I’ve ever read, I’ll never know. But I enjoyed every moment of it! I look forward to the rest of the books in this series.

Reviewed by: Jennifer Slattery

Monday, December 13, 2010

Miralee Ferrell's Finding Jeena ~ Reviewed


Finding Jeena
By Miralee Ferrell
Published by Kregel Publications
ISBN 978-0-8254-2645-2


Description:

Jeena Gregory thought she'd made it. She has everything a woman could ask for and a budding career promises more. But when rumors around town cast her boss in a shady light, Jeena starts to question her employer's integrity. Was she wrong to trust this man and this job?

When the boss disappears, salaries go unpaid, and Jeena overhears several hush-hush phone calls, she realizes her carefully crafted world is crumbling. Shaken to the core at eh threat of losing everything, Jeena is suddenly confronted with her prejudices—and with a God she had long forgotten.


Review:

Finding Jeena is a beautifully crafted illustration of Matt 6:20, "Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal." As I watched Jeena's world crack and crumble, I thought how good this story was so timely in today's world. Powerful and poignant, Finding Jeena offers hope for the hopeless. Novel Journey and I give it a high recommendation.

Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan,

editor Novel Journey

Friday, December 10, 2010

Lena Nelson Dooley's Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico ~ Reviewed


Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico [Paperback]
Lena Nelson Dooley
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Summerside Press (May 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 193541674X


Description

All that glitters is not gold. It’s 1890, and Golden, New Mexico, is a booming mining town where men far outnumber women. So when an old wealthy miner named Philip Smith finds himself in need of a nursemaid, he places an ad for a mail-order bride—despite the protests of his friend Jeremiah. Hoping to escape a perilous situation back East, young Madeleine Mercer answers the ad and arrives in town under a cloud of suspicion. But just as she begins to win over Philip—and Jeremiah himself—the secrets she left behind threaten to follow her to Golden...and tarnish her character beyond redemption.



Review:

Once again, success in finding a dreamy romance from Summerside Press' Love Finds You series. LFY in Golden, New Mexico is my first novel from author Lena Nelson Dooley and excitedly not my last. The romance just melts off of the pages. Another prairie mail-order-bride story, but different from any other and worth every turn of the page. I was entertained and enlightened. It's a great story where the bad people are bad, but Christ shines through and just might win some in the end. Listening to the characters and their prayers and seeing each of them learn and grow is an internally reflective experience. From the riches of Boston to the heat of New Mexico riches are discovered in a plethora of different ways and shown to be more than just finances. I highly recommend this read as I do so far all the historical Love Finds You novels that I have read thus far. I look forward to adding both more LFY and Lena Nelson Dooley books to my TBR lists in the future.

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Donita K. Paul's Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball ` Reviewed


TWO TICKETS TO THE CHRISTMAS BALL
By Donita K. Paul
Published by: Water Brook
ISBN# 978-0-307-45899-5
226 Pages

Back Cover: Can mysterious matchmaking booksellers bring two lonely hearts together in time for Christmas?

In a sleepy, snow-covered city, Cora Crowder is busy preparing for the holiday season. Searching for a perfect gift, a fortuitous trip to Warner, Werner, and Wizbotterdad’s (a most unusual bookshop) leads to an unexpected encounter with co-worker Simon Derrick. And the surprise discovery of a ticket for a truly one-of-a-kind Christmas Ball.

Every year, the matchmaking booksellers of the Sage Street bookshop host an enchanting, old-fashioned Christmas Ball for the romantic matches they’ve decided to bring together.

This year, will Simon and Cora discover a perfect chemistry in their opposite personalities and shared faith? Or will the matchmakers’ best laid plans end up ruining everything this holiday?

REVIEW: I was thrilled to receive a review copy of such a fun and enchanting book. The preparations and events leading up to the ball reminded me of the movie Ever After with Drew Barrymore. There was so much excitement, mystery and fun just thinking about the Christmas ball. I loved every minute.

Cora Crowder is in search of just the right Christmas gifts this year. She thought it would help her get into the Christmas spirit. “Cora had been trying to catch the spirit for four years. Somewhere, sometime, she’d get a hold of how to celebrate Christmas.” And catch the Christmas spirit in her heart.

Cora has an unexpected encounter with a co-worker Simon Derrick. They both find themselves in the most unusual book store trying to find the perfect gift. Inside their bags they discover tickets to a one-of-a-kind Christmas ball. The tickets read, “Admit one to the Wizards’ Christmas ball costumes required, dinner and dancing and your destiny.”

Cora and Simon are curious. They’d never heard of this before. Simon is thrilled to take his younger sister to the ball, she’d love it. Cora has second thoughts about going, “..smart girls trusted their instincts and didn’t hang around places that oozed mystery. She didn’t feel threatened, just intrigued…” There was quite a mystery surrounding this book shop and she didn’t know if it was wise to entertain going to a ball that they sponsored.

Simon’s sister Sandy is full of life, Godly insight and fun. She has downs syndrome.Sandy’s elated at the fact she gets to go to pick out a grown for a ball. She loved dressing up like a princess. Sandy insists that Simon ask Cora to go to the ball with them. He hesitates. He doesn’t really know Cora. He finally gets up his courage to ask and Cora says she’ll pray about it. What’s there to pray about? Is God concerned with Christmas balls?

“What right did he have to mock Cora’s desire to ask God for direction? Praying was something he did, but he didn’t talk about it. And if he prayed about going to a dance, it would be one of these quick ‘this is what’s going on’ prayers!”

Donita K. Paul pens a fairy-tale that will get you in the Christmas spirit and then some. Donita masterfully weaves golden spiritual nuggets and other lessons through her fun, mysterious and intriguing novella. I enjoyed all of her characters especially Sandy. She had such child like faith and spoke her mind about the deeper matters of the heart with youthful confidence. There were ‘aha’ moments in this journey too. This encouraged me, made me laugh and smile. I enjoyed the surprises along the way. It didn’t turn out the way I had suspected, I liked that. I adored this novel and its message. It defiantly warmed my heart and brought a big grin to my face. I like when a story stays with you long after you read the last page! This books a keeper.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent

The Book Club Network

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Candace Calvert's Code Triage ~ Reviewed



Code Triage (Mercy Hospital)
Candace Calvert
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers (September 7, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414325452


Description:

Dr. Leigh Stathos likes her ER shifts fast, furious, and adrenaline-infused-"Treat 'em and street 'em"-with no emotional complications. Life's taught her a soul-rending lesson: nothing lasts forever, including marriage. And the clock is ticking toward the end of hers. Then an unwelcome confrontation with "the other woman" begins a whole new set of lessons.

San Francisco police officer Nick Stathos never gives up, whether protecting his patrol neighborhood, holding fast to faith-or trying to save his marriage. Seven days is all he has to reach Leigh's heart. But when a desperate act of violence slams Golden Gate Mercy Hospital into lockdown, it starts a chain of events that will change lives forever.

Review:


Candace Calvert's medical dramas need to carry a health warning ~ heart palpitations and emotional repercussions imminent! Code Triage is no exception oozing emotional heartache, relationship angst and the non stop drama to rival an ER on high alert. Leigh and Nick, introduced in Disaster Status, take centre stage in Code Triage as Leigh attempts to move on from her marriage at the same time Nick determines to repair the potentially irreparable damage his behaviour has caused. Delving deep into her characters' frailties and pain, Candace peels back the layers of a disintegrating marriage to reveal the choices and attitudes that played such a part in Nick and Leigh stepping away from their marriage vows. Once again, Candace writes authentically and with heart, not shying away from the deep implications of infidelity or providing a pat and hasty resolution. Code Triage is satisfying in every way and is a wonderful conclusion to her Mercy Hospital trilogy. Next novel stat!

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Bob Hartman's Carol: A Story for Christmas ~ Reviewed


Carol: A Story for Christmas
Bob Hartman
Hardcover: 96 pages
Publisher: Lion UK (August 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0745953360

Product Description

Jack O'Malley hates shopping,snow, and even Christmas. All three at once is Jack's idea of a very bad day. Storming into a Starbucks seeking escape, Jack runs smack into a beautiful and mysterious stranger, almost knocking her over and unintentionally changing his life forever. In this one moment his entire life—who he once was, who he is, and who he has the potential to become—flashes before his eyes. In this humorous rendering of Charles Dickens' classic tale, timeless lessons are reexamined through the lens of modern society. The result is funny, moving, and ultimately thought-provoking.



Review:

This little 96 page book is perfect if you just want a dash of Christmas spice, especially if you are looking for something that shares a good message.

Jack (aka Scroogish guy) hates just about everything having to do with the holiday season. Shoppers, check, stores, check...etc. etc. He finds himself in a coffee shop talking to an attractive lady he decides to chat up. And she takes him on a bit of a journey...a similar visitation of Scrooge-based characters in all books/movies borrowing the plotline... to past, present and future, but Carol has a bigger focus, a global focus. This story reads like a quick three act skit or a comic book style story and would make for a decent Christmas skit for a group who felt compelled to embrace the cause. There are several humorous references to the classic Christmas Carol throughout the book.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Monday, December 06, 2010

Wanda Dyson's Judgment Day ~ Reviewed


Judgment Day: A Novel [Paperback]
Wanda Dyson
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (September 21, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1400074754


Description:


Sensational journalism has never been so deadly.

The weekly cable news show Judgment Day with Suzanne Kidwell promises to expose businessmen, religious leaders, and politicians for the lies they tell. Suzanne positions herself as a champion of ethics and morality with a backbone of steel—until a revelation of her shoddy investigation tactics and creative fact embellishing put her in hot water with her employers, putting her credibility in question and threatening her professional ambitions.

Bitter and angry, Suzanne returns home one day to find her deceased boyfriend, Dr. Guy Mandeville’s nurse, Cecelia Forbes unconscious on her living room floor. Before the night is over, Cecelia is dead, Suzanne has her blood on her hands, and the police are arresting her for murder. She needs help to prove her innocence, but her only hope, private investigator Marcus Crisp, is also her ex-fiancĂ©–the man she betrayed in college.

Marcus and his partner Alexandria Fisher-Hawthorne reluctantly agree to take the case, but they won’t cut Suzanne any slack. Exposing her lack of ethics and the lives she’s destroyed in her fight for ratings does little to make them think Suzanne is innocent. But as Marcus digs into the mire of secrets surrounding her enemies, he unveils an alliance well-worth killing for. Now all he has to do is keep Suzanne and Alex alive long enough to prove it.


Review:

Wanda Dyson spins a fast and furious tale of suspense and danger as private investigators Marcus and Alexandria attempt to prove the innocence of talk show host Suzanne Kidwell. The pace moves along well and there are enough twists and turns to keep the pages flipping over. I thoroughly enjoyed the characters of Marcus and Alexandria and hope another book is in the works. The hint of attraction between the two business partners is fun and the animosity Alexandria's father holds towards Marcus reveals Marcus' mettle. Suzanne is an unlikeable character which makes Wanda's writing refreshingly realistic and provides plenty of substance to the suspense. Judgment Day is another solid read from this skilled author.


Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Billy Coffey's Snow Day ~ Reviewed


SNOW DAY
By Billy Coffey
Published by Faith Words
ISBN# 978-0-446-56826-5
195 Pages

Back Cover:

In this debut novel, Peter is a simple man who lives by a simple truth--a person gains strength by leaning on his constants. To him, those constants are the factory where he works, the family he loves, and the God who sustains him. But when news of job cuts comes against the backdrop of an unexpected snowstorm, his life becomes filled with far more doubts than certainties.


With humor and a gift for storytelling, Billy Coffey brings you along as he spends his snow day encountering family, friends, and strangers of his small Virginia town. All have had their own battles with life's storms. Some have found redemption. Others are still seeking it. But each one offers a piece to the puzzle of why we must sometimes suffer loss, and each one will help Peter find a greater truth--our lives are made beautiful not by our big moments, but our little ones.

Review:

I'm very glad I received a review copy of this fun and thought provoking book. Bill Coffey does an incredible job of making the reader think outside the box and has them smell the flowers along the way. Snow Day has the feel of the movie A Christmas Story and Forest Gump combined. Peter Boyd wakes up to see fresh snow. He decides to take the day off of work and enjoy this snow day with his family. His wife asks him to go to the store for bread and milk to will help them through the snow storm.


On his way to Super Mart, Peter begins to look at the world around him and starts to see things with fresh eyes. He spots a superman costume that would make a perfect Christmas gift for his son. It makes him remember why he and his dad wanted to be this super hero, "Who could blame us? Being able to fly faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound had its advantages..."

Peter Boyd then reads the label, "Caution, wearing this costume will not enable you to fly...I read it twice and burst out laughing...Why in the world would such a warning need to be put on a costume?...the warning couldn't have been for the child; all the sizes were so small that whoever was wearing it would surely not be old enough to read and even if they could, what kid reads, the tags on his clothes?....This left the parents....."

Snow Day is full of these laughable moments and so much more. I loved this book. I lived up north and experienced snow days as a kid. They really do force people to slow down and take the time to see the world anew, look at things they normally don't have time to notice. It's amazing what we discover around us when we take the time to really look. Hear the things we don't take the time to listen to, like the still small voice in our heart trying to get our attention.

Peter Boyd's hearing and vision change forever that day. He hears and sees God speaking to him so clearly, “I made the world such that no one can survive it alone. Some try. Some even think it can be done. But it can't. Love one another: I didn't just say that one time a couple thousand years ago. I say that every day. Love is an action word. It means doing something..."

During Peter's snow day adventures; he looks at God, love, people and his family differently. Peter finds a renewed hope, encouragement, and zest for life in the most unexpected places. You'll laugh, be surprised, experience kindhearted moments and be very encouraged as you read Snow Day. I was! This books a keeper and definitely meant to share with family, friends and anyone who will listen!

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Alice Wisler's Hatteras Girl ~ Reviewed


Hatteras Girl
By Alice J. Wisler
Published by Bethany House
ISBN 978-0-7642-0732-7

Description

Jackie Donovan prays for two things: an honest, wonderful man to marry and to own a bed-and-breakfast on the beautiful Outer Banks of North Carolina. In the meantime, she works for the Lighthouse Views, writing articles about local business owners, and intrepidly goes on the blind dates set up by her well-meaning but oh-so-clueless relatives.

There's one specific property Jackie dreams of purchasing: The Bailey House, a fabulous old home located right next to the ocean, a place where Jackie spent many happy childhood afternoons. But the Bailey House has strange stories and secrets surrounding it—not to mention its outrageous price tag.

When Jackie meets handsome Davis Erickson, who holds the key to the Bailey property, she believes God has answered both her prayers. But as Jackie learns some disturbing details about Davis's past, she begins to wonder if her heart has led her astray. Will she risk her long-held dreams to find out the truth?

Review:


I was easily caught up in the characters' lives in Hatteras Girl, and read late into the night. Living with her best friend, a grieving widow with a challenging 5 year-old son, Jackie Donovan is determined to make their dreams of owning the Bailey House come true. I quickly found myself cheering her on and trying to help steer her in the right direction. A thoroughly enjoyable read. Novel Journey and I recommend it.

Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan,
editor Novel Journey

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Erynn Mangum's Double Shot ~ Reviewed


Double Shot
Erynn Mangum
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: NavPress; 1 edition (October 29, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1615215492

Description:

Now that Maya Davis is engaged to her longtime friend and sweetheart, Jack, there should be no more worrying about the future, no more questioning God. Everything should be perfect, right? Actually, it’s just the opposite: Things are complicated. Where are they going to live? What kind of wedding do they want?

And when Jack is offered a once-in-a-lifetime job in Seattle, things begin to unravel even more. Can Maya trust that God is in control even when things seem to be a disastrous mess?


Review:

Refreshing prose, livable faith and adorable characters are hallmarks of Erynn Mangum's novels and all qualities are firmly in place in her final Maya Davis novel. More addictive than the caffeine Maya serves at Cool Beans, Double Shot sees Maya and Jack negotiating over questionable wedding venues, hydrangeas over roses and zookeepers over barristas. Erynn provides a joyful, pure and genuine glimpse into relationships, family and faith, unsurpassed in this genre. Erynn's books will be my first recommendation from my bookshelves to my daughters as they begin to investigate relationships! Looking forward to more of Erynn's stories to come.

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Monday, November 29, 2010

Cara Lynn James's Love on a Dime ~ Reviewed


Love on a Dime, The Ladies of Summerhill Series #1
By: Cara James
More in Ladies of Summerhill Series
Thomas Nelson / 2010 / Paperback

Description:

Newport, Rhode Island, 1899, is a place of shimmering waves, sleek yachts, and ladies of leisure. Of opulent mansions that serve as summer cottages for the rich and famous. Home of railroad magnates and banking tycoons--dashing young men and the women who aspire to marry them.


But it's not the place for lady novelists. Especially not those who pen disreputable dime novels. This poses a problem for Lilly Westbrook, because that's exactly what she does.No one in Lilly's social set knows she pens fiction under the nom de plume Fannie Cole. Not her family or the wealthy young man about to propose to her. And especially not Jackson Grail, the long-lost beau who just bought her publishing company...and who stirs her heart more than she cares to admit.

Review:

As a new author to me Cara Lynn James is definitely an author that I will look for in the future. This fun first in a series is new from Thomas Nelson and is a very romantic historical fiction read. It takes place in Rhode Island and New York during a Golden Era and reading about the clothing and summer houses like Summerhill are quite enchanting. Even my mother had to borrow this one. I fully enjoyed both of our main characters and the book as a whole. Although, I did feel like in the second third of the book there were a few chapters that seemed to be rehashing out the same thing time and again and that got a little dull. Overall I was enchanted and entertained I look forward to more books including the Ladies of Summerhill series.

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind


Friday, November 26, 2010

Melody Carlson's Christmas at Harrington's ~ Reviewed


CHRISTMAS AT HARRINGTON’S
By Melody Carlson
Published by Revell
ISBN# 978-0-8007-1925-8
167 Pages


Back Cover:

Christmas is approaching, and Lena Markham finds herself penniless, friendless and nearly hopeless. She is trying to restart her life after false accusations landed her in prison, but job opportunities are practically nonexistent. When a secondhand red coat unexpectedly lands her a job as Mrs. Santa at a department store, Lena finally thinks her luck is changing. But can she keep her past a secret? This tender story about fresh starts will charm readers as all of Melody Carlson's Christmas offerings do. Full of redemption and true holiday spirit, Christmas at Harrington's will be readers' newest Christmas tradition.


Review:


Since I’m a huge Melody Carlson fan, I was thrilled to receive this review copy of Christmas at Harrington’s. Melody knows how to tell a story to prepare your heart and mind for Christmas. Reading this book is the perfect way to start the holiday season. This novel opens with Lena Markham heading to New Haven for a fresh start.

Lena quickly adjusts to this new town and finds herself helping out a neighbor by watching her daughter, Jemima, as she looks for a job. Lena discovers an unexpected job herself as Mrs. Santa for Harrington’s Dept store. Who’d-a–thought, her new life would begin as Santa’s wife. Not what she had planned, but the pay wasn’t bad and it was the only job in town.

As Lena played Mrs. Santa, she listened to the children and their Christmas wishes. She adored the children. Lena’s numb heart started to feel again. She realized, “Even though some people kicked me down, there where a lot who didn’t.” There are good people, many encouraged her even when they found out about her past. Lena was heart broken and lost her desire to fight for what mattered to her most in life.

When Lena told the Christmas story to Jemima and the kids, the message and hope was touching their hearts and hers. Lena said, “Santa has asked me to come here and talk to you, to remind you about Jesus’ birthday...I had told you earlier about how it’s impossible to be good all the time, remember?...God understands that. And that’s why he sent his Son to forgive us and teach us to forgive others. Doesn’t it feel good when someone forgives you for making a mistake?...So Santa and I want you to remember that when you’re thinking about Christmas.”

I love Melody Carlson and the stories she writes, and this one is no exception. Melody has unforgettable characters that I cared about from the beginning and the story line got my attention as it was very unusual. I had to see where all this would be leading. I hurt for Lena and the spiritual journey she had been on up until this point. It was heart breaking and fascinating all at the same time. This author has a unique way of writing a story that the reader can connect with, and then leave like they’ve just spent time with good friends. This is a meaningful, touching story that will become your families’ favorite; you’ll want to read it again and share with friends. Thanks Melody, for a story that touches the heart and shows the love we need to show each other all year long...not just at Christmas!

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Eva Marie Everson's This Fine Life ~ Reviewed


This Fine Life
By: Eva Marie Everson
Revell / 2010 / Paperback

Description:

It's the summer of 1959 and Mariette Puttnam has just graduated from boarding school. Returning to her privileged life at home in a small Georgia town, she isn't sure what lies ahead. Is the answer waiting for her on the narrow stairwell of her father's apparel factory? A tender story of an unlikely romance!


Review:

Easily with a voice over like a woman reading from her diary, I could see this story as being a very touching and life changing film. With a romance similar to Nicholas Sparks'The Notebook as a reader there is a passion to shake open the minds of people shut off by social class and diversity. Following page by page in the mind and life of a simple woman, always on the outside of whatever group and situation she was in the lines of thought are interesting and for me easy to relate to.

This is the first whole book from author Eva Marie Everson that I have read, and it was not a sit down and get through it book. This was a deeper story that made you think and really understand the characters. There are a lot of meanings to the title and I believe that this is a learning and growing story for any reader. I do recommend it and look forward to going back to other books on my shelf from Eva as well as others to come.

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind


Bonus Review:

I would give this book three out of five stars. I enjoyed the book for the most part-a story of a young woman who finds her true love in a young man whom her parents don’t approve of her seeing, much less marrying; and how they “grow up” together as a pastor and his wife. However, the story would have been more enjoyable to me had the displays of physical affection not been so detailed… I still enjoyed this book, but my experience with it could have been better.

Reviewed by: Rachael Schnitker

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Kim Cash Tate's Faithful ~ Reviewed


Faithful
Kim Cash Tate
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (September 14, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595548548


Description:

Cydney Sanders thought she knew God’s plan for her life. She’d marry, have kids, and then snap her body back into shape by doing Tae Bo. But she’s celebrating her fortieth birthday as the maid of honor at her little sister’s wedding...and still single. Now her life is suddenly complicated by the best man. He’s the opposite of what she wants in a husband...and yet, he keeps defying her expectations. Starting with a lavender rose--symbolizing enchantment--each rose he sends her reflects his growing love for her.

Cydney’s best friend Dana appears to have the perfect marriage--until she discovers her husband’s affair and her world goes into a tailspin. Then there is Phyllis--who is out of hope and out of prayers after asking God for six long years to help her husband find faith. When she runs into an old friend who is the Christian man she longs for, she’s faced with an overwhelming choice.

Life-long friends with life-altering struggles. Will they trust God’s faithfulness...and find strength to be faithful to Him?

Review:

Kim Cash Tate's Faithful is refreshingly honest, insightful and thought provoking as three friends journey through singleness, infidelity and temptation. Cydney, Dana and Phyllis reflect the many realities women face today in their relationships, marriages and spiritual journeys making this a book readers will not only enjoy but connect with on many levels. As the friends wrestle through their pain and strive to follow God's leading in their lives, Kim reveals the dangers and consequences of poor choices and the unmatched healing power of God's love and forgiveness. Accessible prose and authentic characters displaying generosity and integrity to selfishness and vanity, all add up to a fabulous read. Looking forward to more of the same when Cherished releases in 2011.

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Monday, November 22, 2010

Chris Fabry's Almost Heaven ~ Reviewed


ALMOST HEAVEN
By Chris Fabry
Published by Tyndale
ISBN#978-1-4143-1957-5
311 Pages

Back Cover: Billy Allman is a hillbilly genius. People in Dogwood, West Virginia, say he was born with a second helping of brains and a gift for playing the mandolin, but was cut short on social skills. Though he’d gladly give you the shirt off his back, they were right. Billy longs to use his life as an ode to God, a lyrical, beautiful bluegrass song played with a finely tuned heart. So with spare parts from a lifetime of collecting, he builds a radio station in his own home. People in town laugh. But Billy carries a brutal secret that keeps him from significance and purpose.


REVIEW:

I’d read and loved, June Bug by Chris Fabry. So, I anxiously awaited my review copy of Almost Heaven. Chris Fabry is a deep thinker that can explain things so simply, it touches the core of your being. He reveals things about tough times and pain that can only come from experience and how he connected with our heavenly Father during those times.

Chris says this about Almost Heaven, “Good stories come from real people and real life…This story was inspired by the life of James William “Billy” Allman, who died in 2009...there are only shadows from Billy’s life in this novel...I hope to have captured a little of his heart in the story as well.”


Billy and his family face title wave type waters as the dam breaks and starts wiping out homes and people in its path right at the start of this book. Billy describes the house spinning like the house in the Wizard of Oz. I imagined many of the Katrina victims went through something similar after the hurricane hit and the levy broke.


This book is written in two points of view. That of Billy, and his guardian angel named Malachi (which means messenger). I loved the angel aspect of the narrative; it brought a whole different dimension and energy to the story. It kind of reminded me of the angel in the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, where the guardian angel is getting his assignment and learns about George Bailey’s life. Malachi learns about Billy Allman’s life as a boy and when he’s grown up. The angelic battle scenes weren’t as intense as those of Frank Peretti, but they are very intriguing and simple, yet very powerful. Malachi says this, “Time hinders the human condition, but it does not touch me…we feel the onslaught of time only as it is experienced by those in charge. To us it is only a discipline. Time holds no sway, has no bearing on our resolve to achieve our assigned duties.”


I loved that this author showed how God uses ordinary broken people to carry out his plan here on earth. He doesn’t need us, but chooses to use the most unlikely people - like those that society had given up on. Billy was one of those misfits. No matter what storm hit Billy and tried to destroy him, he chose to praise God with his entire being! Music was very special to Billy. He said, “Music has a way of filling in the missing places. It is a gift from God above, who didn’t have to provide it, but he did anyway and I half think he decided life just wouldn’t be as good without it…(he prayed) May God help you sing whatever song he has put on your heart to sing.”


This novel even brought in characters from Chris’s other books, like my favorite, June Bug. She plays a minor part in this book, but I was thrilled to read more about her in this story.


Chris pens a compelling, emotionally charged drama that gives the reader glimpse of hope in the darkness and will make them think outside the box we call the “normal” Christian life. He also defines the triumphant life a little differently too, “Success is not seen in the circumstances or in the pain or the good feelings. Success is sometimes just loving somebody with a love that doesn’t come back the way you want it to.”


Despite Billy’s sorrows and challenges, he remains steady on a single course. Through the struggles and triumphs, Billy Allman chose to pursue God and walk in what God said about him. I loved what Billy said to Callie about her struggles and later applied it to himself, “…what happened to you doesn’t define who you are…what happened does not have to follow you…you don’t have to live in its shadow.”


I loved that and the fact that Jesus tells us the truth will set us free. Walking in what God says about us and not what the enemy is trying to make us believe, puts a skip in your walk and music in your heart. Thanks Chris, for a novel that is compelling, thought provoking and gives the reader hope in what seemed like hopeless situations. Thanks also for your reminder, “you don’t need your circumstances to change in order to praise God. In fact, the best place to live the Christian life and participate with God in the plan for you is right were you are!” I appreciate these words and so many more that encouraged my soul, gave me hope and touched my heart deeply.


Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent

The Book Club Network

Friday, November 19, 2010

Jenny B. Jones's I'm So Sure ~ Reviewed


I’m So Sure
By Jenny B. Jones
Published By Thomas Nelson
ISBN#978-159554-542-8
312 Pages


Back Cover:


Think you're having a rough week? Bella's step dad, a semi-pro wrestler, just signed the entire family up for a reality TV show. Bella's first thought: Kill. Me. Now.

Living in Truman, Oklahoma wasn't 100% miserable for Bella. Sure, she misses Manhattan, couture clothes, and her dad. But she was making new friends at Truman High and almost enjoying her work at the school newspaper. Then the whole stepdad-wrestler-reality-show issue hit and her life is now being splashed across weekly tabloids and broadcast news.

As if having a camera crew following her around isn't bad enough, Bella soon discovers a conspiracy against the Truman High prom queen candidates. And the closer she gets to the answer, the more danger she's in.

As her relationship with Luke teeters between friendship and romance, Bella's ex-boyfriend Hunter reappears and vies for Bella's attention. Denying allegations of a love triangle, working to solve the prom queen mystery, and trying to keep her cool on national television finally motivate Bella to start talking--and listening--to God more

Review:

I was thrilled to receive a review copy of the sequel to So Not Happening, which I loved. This is youth fiction at its finest. Reading one of Jenny B. Jones’s books puts a smile on my face and makes me feel good all over.

Bella is in high school and had her life turned upside down in book one, when her mom marries a semi-pro wrestler and they move to Truman, Oklahoma...a far cry from New York. Bella’s mom met this Christian man on-line and has moved to live in a small town in the big woods. What was her mom thinking?

In I’m So Sure, Bella is still adjusting to her new home, step dad and her step brothers. Bella still flies to N.Y. to spend time with her dad in Manhattan on weekends, but things are starting to get weird at her dads. Bella’s father has a steady girlfriend who has a daughter a little younger than herself. Why is her dad falling for this woman?

Weird could be used to describe life in Truman, Oklahoma too. Her step dad, the semi-pro wrestler, has just entered the family into a reality T.V. show contest. If their family is picked, cameras will be following them around everywhere. What was her step dad thinking?

Strange things have also started to happen at Truman High School! The schools prom money has disappeared and no one knows how. Or who took it for that matter. How would they have a prom?

Luke, the editor of the school newspaper, tells Bella the prom story is his and to back off! She needs to focus on the jobs for teen’s article! Bella promises Luke she would stay away from doing any investigating in the prom story. But Bella can’t stop the people that come up to her to help them in finding school funds. Can she?

This author had me laugh out loud so hard I almost dropped my book. I lost it when Jenny describes the different jobs Bella worked at to write the teen job article. Bella stayed at the job long enough to be trained and get the feel of what was required of her in that position. This part was hysterical, I can’t believe the jobs Bella had and the mishaps she had on her jobs. Bella learned to be thankful for these experiences. She discovered jobs she never wanted to do again. Bella wasn’t laughing when some of these embarrassing mishap moments were caught on film by the T.V. realty show and shown to the entire world. OHMYGOSH!

I can’t wait to read the third and final book in this series called, So Over My Head. Can’t wait to see what Bella Kirkwood is up to next and what crazy, spontaneous, fun adventure she will take us on. Thanks Jenny, for bringing a smile to my face, laughter in my heart and funny stories to share about Bella with my family and friends.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network