Friday, January 29, 2010

Marilyn Griffith's Song of Deliverance ~ Reviewed


SONG OF DELIVERANCE
By Marilynn Griffith
Published by Revell
ISBN# 9780800732790
368 Pages

Back Cover:

Fifteen years ago, Zeely Wilkins and Ron Jenkins were ignored by their school---and went separate ways. Called back by the past---and the one teacher who believed in them---Zeely and Ron now have to decide what love really means! Can they hear the music that brought them together---or will secrets keep them apart?


Review:

Marilynn Griffith writes with such sensitivity, passion and distinctiveness, all of my senses were at attention. This author had me witness, hear, feel and experience the believability of the characters, and the intimate details of their lives woven together by the intensity of their individual situations. These characters and their stories touched me deeply; I carried Song of Deliverance with me everywhere I went until I read the last page. It was that gripping.

Marilynn’s passion and love for the Lord drips off the pages and into your heart. This author has a way of putting you into the action in a very real way. I haven’t experienced anything like it before. She has a unique style of writing that I soon adapted to. I was swept up into the story and fascinated by her rich array of characters. Marilyn writes whole chapters in different characters points of view. In the beginning of each chapter there is the name of the character so you know who is doing the talking. I quickly got into the rhythm and was hooked.

After I finished Songs of Deliverance, the sequel to Rhythm of Grace, I knew I had been part of something special, amazing and eye opening. Just as Marilynn’s characters felt, I, too, felt I’d been kissed by good and deemed lovable. No matter what happens in this life, our heavenly daddy is there with open arms to love us thru this journey called life. He will give us songs of deliverance if we are brave enough to sing the song He has specifically for us.

I wanted to give you a sneak peek into Marilynn’s style of writing. “The bubbles tickled my shoulders but brought no humor to them. I’d thought that a good, hot bath might numb the pain, but some things couldn’t be soaked or scrubbed away. Some things stained deep into the soul.”

Dr. Joyce Rogers – gathers her best students to teach at a school she runs for troubled kids. These kids have been wounded by life. Dr. Rogers’s mission is to love the unlovable kids, the throw a ways, and the abandoned and to give them a second and third chance no one else will give them.

Marilynn Griffith pens a story that will stay in your heart and make you contemplate all that God does in the characters lives. Nothing is tied up in a pretty bow at the end. Life is not like that, but God does promise us healing, grace and a love ever lasting. Thanks to Revell for the review copy.

Reviewed by: Nora St. Laurent ACFW Book Club Coordinator



Bonus Review:

Warning: this book is not your typical Christian Romance novel! 'Songs of Deliverance' is a book laced with brokeness on some of the most painful and unbelievable levels. It deals with tough topics such as adultery, abortion, rape, and inner city violence...and demonstrates God's gift of forgiveness which covers ALL of it, if only we'll accept it. Inevitably, these issues greatly complicate the would be romantic relationships of the multiple characters. While I truly did enjoy this book and it certainly kept me on the edge of my seat, it was at times difficult to follow the numerous plot twists and time jumps from the present to 20+ years in the past. Overall, a good read, but it requires a good deal of concentration to truly get the most out of this book.

Reviewed by: Rachael Schnitker

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Margaret Brownley's A Lady Like Sarah ~ Reviewed


A Lady Like Sarah
by Margaret Brownley
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson; Original edition (December 22, 2009)
ISBN-10: 1595548092

Product Description:

She's an outlaw. He's a preacher. Both are in need of a miracle.

When Preacher JUSTIN WELLS promises an injured lawman to take his prisoner to Texas, Justin has no idea the trouble that lies ahead. The slightly-built prisoner turns out to be SARAH PRESCOTT, sister of the notorious Prescott brothers--and she's determined to miss the hanging party waiting for her in Texas.

But escaping proves to be tougher than she thought. Justin doesn't own a gun and hasn't the foggiest idea how to survive the wilderness. How can she leave him alone with the injured marshal?

Nothing is more sacred to Justin than a promise made to a dying man, but he can't bring himself to turn the blue-eyed beauty over to the hangmen. She's tough as leather, but there's something about her that is pure and good.

Justin can't bear to lose her, but how can a simple preacher fight an entire town? And how can either one of them know that miracles come in many guises…including love?


Review:

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well I'll be. I am for certainly unsure if I can say enough good things about the book A Lady Like Sarah or my new favorite author Margaret Brownley (and no it is not because of her elegant name). As many of you that read my reviews know, my favorite Christian Historical Romantic Comedy author of American west novels is Mary Connealy... well I can honestly say that Margaret Brownley rates right up there with this book and I am ecstatically (is that a word?) excited for more. More Rocky Creek Romance or more anything, just give me more.

I was amused. I giggled and grinned. I chuckled and snuggled down further in my reading nook. I was irritated and emotional. I shed slight tears. I could hear Sarah's voice and see her boots. These characters were alive and amazing to me. I read an ARC, but you better believe this is one for the keeper shelf. On a final note: The saloon scene made me squeal and cry, and I love my fellow quilters and that is all I have to say about that.

Margaret you're definitely on my favorites lists and I cannot wait for more!


Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sandra Bricker's The Big 5-OH! ~ Reviewed


The Big 5-OH!
By Sandra Bricker
Published by Abdingdon Press, Feb. 2010
ISBN-10: 1426702353


Description:

Olivia Wallace can’t remember a birthday that wasn’t marked by illness, tragedy or both. And now, as she approaches The Big Five-Oh, she is determined to change her course. Better late than never, right? That’s what Liv believes when she leaves a snowy Ohio winter behind and runs away to Florida to regroup. Amidst a crazy cast of characters that include a dog with a lampshade collar, a rogue alligator and a flirtatious octogenarian, Liv finds the biggest birthday surprise of all … A second chance at love.


Review:

Romantic comedy at its best! Sandra Bricker's keyboard must skip and bounce, laughing at the story its keys tap out. Hilarious doesn't begin to describe The Big 5-Oh! Olivia does indeed find a second chance at love, but not where she thinks. A delightful read that will keep you up, giggling throughout the night.


Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan, editor Novel Journey

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Steven James's The Knight ~ Reviewed


The Knight (The Patrick Bowers Files, Book 3)
Steven James
Paperback: 496 pages
Publisher: Revell; 1 Original edition (August 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0800732707


Product Description:

In The Knight, the third installment in the bestselling series of thrillers featuring FBI criminologist Patrick Bowers, the stakes have never been higher. Agent Bowers is used to tracking the country's most dangerous killers, but now it looks like a killer is tracking him. When he realizes the murderer is using clues from an ancient manuscript as a blueprint for his crimes, Bowers faces a race against time to decipher who the next victim will be and to stop the final shocking murder--which he's beginning to believe might be his own. Gritty, chilling, and intense, this psychological thriller is guaranteed to keep readers up all night.


Review:

A wild ride. This is a police procedural that not only delivers the details, some of which makes it a novel the nightmare prone might not want to read right before bed, it delivers strong characters and great writing.

The idea, a serial killer with a tricky scenario/agenda, isn't unique, but the story is compelling and suspenseful and kept me wondering to the end. I had three or four folks picked out as the cold-blooded killer, but I didn't pick correctly. James creates fleshed out characters who pulled at my heartstrings. Some moments of introspection slowed the plot enough to add a different kind of tension, and surprising poignancy. The evil characters might rival some of worst-of-the-worst literary baddies.

Though a Christian publisher, this novel is very light in faith elements, so if you love cat and mouse games full of forensic and investigative detail but think that it may throw Bible verses at you, I'm pretty sure you won't even notice the subtle faith elements once the story starts rolling. This is a great read and it guarantees that I'll pick up any book with Steven James name on the cover.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Friday, January 22, 2010

Jennifer AlLee's The Pastor's Wife ~ Reviewed



The Pastor's Wife
By Jennifer AlLee
Published by Abingdon Press
ISBN: 978-1-426-70225-9


Description:

Maura Sullivan thought she knew what she was getting into when she married soon-to-be pastor Nick Shepherd. But when "the other woman" in her marriage turned out to be her husband's congregation, she ran.

Six years later, she's back in the small community of Granger, Ohio, for the reading of a will that names both her and Nick as beneficiaries.

Now Maura must face the husband and the congregation she left behind.


Review:

Delightful and real, the congregation had a few impossible-to-please curmudgeons I recognized as members of a church I once attended. As Maura faces the disappointments that originally drove her away from Granger, she still holds one secret locked away in her heart.

The unfolding of this story and its characters is like peeling away the layers of an onion. The deeper we went, the more their flaws became apparent. At one point, I wondered if they would manage to repair this marriage at all. Well written, I thoroughly enjoyed AlLee's debut novel, The Pastor's Wife.

Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan, editor Novel Journey

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Thad Carhart's Across the Endless River ~ Reviewed


Across the Endless River
Thad Carhart
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Doubleday; 1 edition (September 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0385529775


Book Description:

From the acclaimed bestselling author of The Piano Shop on the Left Bank, a historical novel about Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau, the son of Sacagawea, and his intriguing sojourn as a young man in 1820s Paris.

Born in 1805 on the Lewis and Clark expedition, Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau was the son of the expedition's translators, Sacagawea and Toussaint Charbonneau. Across the Endless River compellingly portrays this mixed-blood child's mysterious boyhood along the Missouri among the Mandan tribe and his youth as William Clark's ward in St. Louis. The novel becomes a haunting exploration of identity and passion as eighteen-year-old Baptiste is invited to cross the Atlantic in 1823 with young Duke Paul of W├╝rttemberg.

During their travels throughout Europe, Paul introduces Baptiste to a world he never imagined. Gradually, Baptiste senses the limitations of life as an outsider. His passionate affair with Paul's older cousin helps him understand the richness of his heritage and the need to fashion his own future. But it is Maura, the beautiful and independent daughter of a French-Irish wine merchant Baptiste meets in Paris, who most influences his ultimate decision to return to the frontier.

Rich in the details of life in both frontier America and the European court, Across the Endless River is a captivating novel about a man at the intersection of cultures, languages, and customs.



Review:

Jean-Baptiste was taken from a challenging frontier life and spent five years in Europe observing the luxurious and at times frivolous lifestyle of the European royalty. His descriptions and experiences within these unique contrasts made Across the Endless River a fascinating read.

The author excelled in characterization and description helping me to feel like I experienced some of Baptiste's moments along with him. The research and historical detail added richness to this story.

A slower plot made for a more literary read vs. a page-turning, action-packed one. Some adult themes and scenes would make the book appropriate for adults only or for parental screening. I recommend this book to history buffs and I hope to read more from Thad Carhart.

Reviewed by: Rob Klepfer

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Julie Klassen's The Silent Governess ~ Reviewed


The Silent Governess
by Julie Klassen
Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Bethany House; Original edition (January 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0764207075


Book Description:

Believing herself guilty of a crime, Olivia Keene flees her home, eventually stumbling upon a grand estate where an elaborate celebration is in progress. But all is not as joyous as it seems…. Lord Bradley has just learned a terrible secret, which, if exposed, will change his life forever. When he glimpses a figure on the grounds, he fears a spy or thief has overheard his devastating news. He is stunned to discover the intruder is a scrap of a woman with her throat badly injured. Fearing she will spread his secret, he gives the girl a post and confines her to his estate. As Olivia and Lord Bradley's secrets catch up with them, will their hidden pasts ruin their hope of finding love?

Review and rating: 5 of 5 stars

Holding a flavoring of "Jane Eyre" and a hint of "The Importance of Being Earnest" fully in the environment of a regency tale, "The Silent Governess" brings forth mystery and intrigue with romance to make your heart melt. Previously while reading the first two novels by Julie Klassen I was appreciative, becoming after the second novel a true fan. The words on her page teach lessons and mold your heart into loving her characters and their fictitious lives. Just moments away from finishing this novel I can already tell you that I cannot wait for the next wonderful story from the imagination of Author Julie Klassen.

Olivia Keene has a journey to endure before she can possibly get what she truly desires and that is only if the cards turn in her favor. Following the mystery of memories, inheritance, relatives and secrets with wild dogs, frightening poachers, scheming gentry, and spoiled cousins imaginations run wild and truths are hard to hold onto. What really matters in the end is a big question and each chapter gets the readers closer to solutions to the equations put forth.

Once again Julie thrills with perfect quotes at the beginning of each chapter and it is truly apparent that her research it thorough and fun. More please! Now I just might have to go read some Jane Austen.

*Thanks to Julie Klassen and Bethany House Publishers for providing a copy for review.*

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind


Bonus Review:

Olivia Keene is fleeing her own secret. She never intended to overhear his. But now that she has, what is Lord Bradley to do with her? He cannot let her go, for were the truth to get out, he would lose everything—his reputation, his inheritance, his very home.

He gives Miss Keene little choice but to accept a post at Brightwell Court, where he can make certain she does not spread what she heard. Keeping an eye on the young woman as she cares for the children, he finds himself drawn to her, even as he struggles against the growing attraction. The clever Miss Keene is definitely hiding something.

Moving, mysterious, and romantic, The Silent Governess takes readers inside the intriguing life of a nineteenth-century governess in an English manor house where all is not as it appears.

This is author Julie Klassen’s third novel, and I must say, my favorite one so far. Her attention to detail, to historical accuracy, completely transports the reader to Regency England. I can only imagine how much time she puts into research.

Ever since Jane Eyre, the life of a governess has been somewhat romanticized. Klassen puts a stop to that by relating just how lonely that life can be. Not part of the staff yet not part of the family, a governess spends her time with children or by herself. No wonder they tended to be cranky or depressed.

But The Silent Governess isn’t only about such a position. There’s plenty of intrigue and romance as the plot twists and turns so that sometimes you might wonder which end is up. Klassen ties it all up neatly, however, at the end.

This is a definite must read for lovers of historical fiction, but there’s also a fair amount of mystery and romantic interest for fans of those genres as well. Overall, a delightful read that ought to be on any book hound’s shelf.

Reviewed by: Michelle Griep

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

James Pence's Blind Sight ~ Reviewed



Blind Sight (Paperback)
James Pence
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (August 17, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414334796

From the Back Cover:

The novel that impacted the life of Terry Caffey as told in the heartbreaking true story Terror by Night
Remember the promise . . .
Save my children . . .

All Thomas Kent wants is to die . . . but a mysterious e-mail and a voice from the past stir him to fight for his life and the lives of a family he doesn’t know. The leader of a powerful and dangerous cult threatens the country’s future, and Thomas holds the only evidence for its destruction. As the cult’s plan enters its final phase, Thomas must cast his fear aside and act before it’s too late.


Review:

This novel is a page-turner with a unique secondary story.

Thomas Kent made a promise to his buddies in his college Bible study. He couldn't imagine that years later, after he'd lost all he loved and his faith, he'd be called upon to keep that promise.

Kent receives the coded message to pick up a package, and the garbled answering machine plea, "save my children," and his life changes once again. Can he save the Bishop children, Justine Bishop, and the United States of America from the evil cult intent on ruling the world one person at a time? Can Thomas Kent find his lost and bruised faith?

Though not perfectly written, this is a suspenseful and compelling read. Kent's anger at God and the struggle to forgive God are mostly realistic and thoughtful. A few timing issues or rapid mood swings slowed down the page turning every once in awhile but overall, this was a fascinating story with a strong message.

As far as the unique secondary story goes, a man found one burned, weathered Blind Sight page lying against a tree. The location of that tree was the former site of his razed home after the burning of his house and the horrific murder of his family. James Pence went on to co-author Terror by Night with Terry Caffey and Blind Sight was re-released.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Monday, January 11, 2010

Chris Coppernoll's Screen Play ~ Reviewed


SCREEN PLAY
By Chris Coppernoll
Published by David C. Cook
ISBN#9781434764829
304 Pages

Back Cover:

After struggling for years to make it as an actress, Harper finally gets her big break—but will she have to sacrifice the love of her life to take it?

At thirty, Harper fears her chances for a thriving acting career and finding true love are both fading fast. When she's handed an unexpected role on Broadway—understudy to New York’s biggest diva––everything changes. She longs for love in the City, but when it doesn't happen, she reluctantly signs up to an online matchmaking site. Frustration mounts when the only men Harper is interested in are on the West coast, thousands of miles away. Harper feels like an actress who doesn’t act, and a woman in love with someone she's never met, but God's about to change all that.

REVIEW:

I Loved, Loved, Loved this book! Chris Coppernoll has captured the magic of what happens in the world of theater, from idea to rehearsals and finally to the excitement and joy of a play ready for opening night on Broadway! He captures the electrifying wonder and family atmosphere of life in the theater. Readers will experience the theater world through Harper's eyes, on and off stage and everything in-between...like an internet dating site where her friend has found love; Harper thinks you should meet people the old fashioned way, face-to-face. I'm so thankful I received a review copy of this book.

I felt a connection to the main character, Harper Gray, a thirty year old girl who’s been unemployed, alone, unloved, isolated and wondering where life is headed. Harper meets Bella and life as she’s known it starts to change. On her way to the airport, Harper discovers a note Bella tucked into her paperback book that says, “I believe in you. God has a purpose and plan for your life.—Bella”

Did He really? It was easy to believe in God when Bella was near, but Harper was headed to New York for a role on Broadway! She’s left to walk this unfamiliar journey with God alone! Or so she thinks.

“What do you hope?”

Harper answers, “I don’t know, I hope for love and dream of everything working out in my life. Sometimes I feel like I’m lost and I want someone to find me…but more than anything, I want to see God working in my life..”

“Do you think God can provide these things for you?”

“Yes,” Harper replies, “but it’s hard to wait.”

Harper struggles with her new faith in an atmosphere that is so social in nature and in a place she’s never walked with God before. She says this about herself, “I was sure I was getting a reputation as the oddball cast member who prays.” I loved Chris’s humor woven in-between the drama.

As I read Screen Play, I was reminded of the years I had worked in amateur and professional theater. I, too, was a new believer walking out my faith in the middle of this new world called theater. Chris Coppernoll has captured enchantment and wonder of the theater atmosphere and experience, showing the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, all the hard work and drama that often happens when putting on a highly anticipated major Broadway show.

Screen Play will pull at your heart strings and make you shake your head as you marvel at how this gifted male author could pen the heart and soul of Harper Gray, a female character, so well! I found myself so absorbed into this story; I was up until the wee hours reading about this believable and compelling world Chris created!
There’s something spectacular about live theater. The author says this in his book …”theater life is surreal because everyone believes in magic. Even adults, who know we’re just pretending, believe that somewhere, somehow, the story must be true.”

After reading Screen Play, you’ll feel this story must be real! Thanks to David C. Cook publishers for my review copy. Thanks to Chris Coppernoll for your honest and heartfelt portrayal of a young woman and her search for God and all that is true...all packaged within a theatrical environment! I know you’ll enjoy these characters as much as I did. This book is a keeper!


Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
ACFW Book Club Coordinator



Bonus Review:

I have been meaning to read a book by Chris for more than a year. I just never have a craving for contemporary fiction. Whenever I have free time I am always reaching for the historicals. After reading "Screen Play" by Chris, I am sorry that I waited so long before introducing myself to his storytelling voice. The entire time I was looking forward to what was coming next. Already, partially read I would recommend it. After finishing it, I highly recommend it.

There is not just one story in there but several. The character voice of female Harper Gray is incredibly well developed by Chris. There were many little things that showed her personality and I am very impressed from a male point of view how well she came together on the page.

While enjoying the story I was expecting it to wrap up right after the New York play, but it continued and it was as enjoyable as reading a sequel of character's lives that you are not quite ready to let go of as a reader. After a short trip to London with my SisterB where we saw a play a day, except one day two I recall our performance of "The Woman in White" that was saw. This show sticks out in my mind specifically because the staring roll was played by the understudy. I remember being curious about what goes on in the mind of someone that plays the roll of an understudy and thanks to the first half of this fabulous treasure of a novel now I have a better plausible picture.

However, just this fact was not the only part of the story that I could relate to. I met my Enginerd online. Long story short, neither was looking and it all happened upon a fluke some would say, or rather God's design that we did not expect. Know how wonderful it was and at the same time how people are still uncertain if that is an okay way to meet people I could completely relate to the characters as they impatiently waited for the next email, IM or text message.

This was a story that was enjoyable to read and the characters were truly brought of the page to me. I can imagine them as palpable persons and that is to me an extremely valuable talent in an author. Once again, I repeat, I am sorry that I have not delved into the imagination on the page from Chris before, but I am so glad that I have found his writing now. I cannot wait for more.

Thank you Chris for this story and you're going up on my Author's I Like wall, you have definitely earned your spot.

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Bonus Review:

Chris Coppernoll has reached authorial maturity with his third novel, Screen Play. It's an inspirational tale with rich descriptions, memorable characters, and a thoroughly satisfying ending that reminds us that God delights in giving His children the desires of their hearts. Novel Journey and I give Screen Play a high recommendation.

Ane Mulligan, editor

Novel Journey



Friday, January 08, 2010

Collen Coble's The Lightkeeper's Daughter ~ Reviewed


The Lightkeeper's Daughter
By Colleen Coble
Published by Thomas Nelson
ISBN 978-1-59554-267-0


Description

Growing up as the lightkeeper's daughter on a remote island at the turn of the century, Addie Sullivan has lived a hardscrabble life. When a long-lost and wealthy relative finds her and enlists her to work as a governess at a lavish estate, she hopes to discover the truth of her heritage. But at Eaton Hall, nothing is as it seems. Not the idyllic family she hoped for, not the child she was hired to help, not even the aloof man she's immediately attracted to. Soon she must turn to help to Lieutenant John North, a man who views her with suspicion.

As Addie edges closer to the truth, danger threatens even as her romance with John blossoms and together they unravel a decades-old mystery. As Addie faces down her enemy, she discovers that the faith in her one true Father is all she needs.


Review

The Lightkeeper's Daughter is a return to her roots of historical romance for Colleen Coble who now writes romantic suspense. I'm glad she took this turn; I was hooked from page one by the characters and Coble's masterful story weaving. But don't be fooled. The Lightkeeper's Daughter has enough of a mystery in it to keep you on the edge of your seat and turning pages all night long. I hope we'll see more of this genre from Colleen. Novel Reviews and I give it a high recommendation.

Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan,
Editor, Novel Journey


Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Rene Gutteridge's Listen ~ Reviewed


LISTEN
By Rene Gutteridge
Published by: Tyndale
ISBN# 978-1-74143-2433-3
432 Pages

Back Cover:

Nothing ever happens in the small town of Marlo . . . until the residents begin seeing their private conversations posted online for everyone to read. Then its neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend, as paranoia and violence escalate. The police scramble to identify the person responsible for the posts and pull the plug on the Website before it destroys the town. But what responsibility do the people of the town have for the words they say when they think no one is listening? Life and death are in the power of the tongue.

REVIEW:

One of Rene’s characters says, “Do the words we speak have any power over us...or someone else?”

In the book of James, found in the bible it states--(words) “the tongue is but a tiny spark that can set a great forest on fire.” Do words really have that much power? Read Listen, for your answer. The city of Marlo was the ideal place to live. It was a place where “society and family joined in marriage. It was safe enough for kids to play in the front yard, clean enough, you could get top dollar for your real estate.” Words changed this little town forever in the most interesting and scary way!

Rene Gutteridge has penned a modern day story depicting the ramifications of words! Reading the effect is staggering! Words spoken in private become public. How? Through a website called www.listentoyourself.net. The town is coming undone from the inside out as private conversations are made public each day.

Renee made me really ponder the effect of words. How they affect everyone we meet. I think about words flying out of my mouth differently since I’ve read this book. Words I’ve spoken to my children, husband, co-workers...even people I don’t know.

I loved reading about, and was a little horrified to discover, the latest computer gadgets and what they can do. Trust is a huge factor when using the internet and interacting with others. How do we keep each other accountable? Renee touches on this subject too.

Words can be like a worm-virus—eating away at people and the very heart of this once calm, peaceful, loving town! Can anything be done to save it and the families that live there? Not only is the message of this book powerful, Rene, weaves quite the suspenseful, page turning story you’ll stay up late reading to find out who done it? Why? Listen is a keeper! Never underestimate the power of words. This book is a must read. I am received a review copy.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
ACFW Book Club Coordinator

Bonus Review:


I've previously read books by Rene Gutteridge and they have been lighthearted and fun. Listen is darker in tone and more thought-provoking over entertaining.

The story starts out with a character preparing to hang herself for something she overheard. And it ends with a forever changed cast of characters.

Marlo is a typical smallish town where everyone has strong opinions and most folks know each other including the skeletons in the closet. Suddenly, a blog pops up that shares verbatim and anonymous conversations. Just the words as said without identification of the speaker, people know though, or guess based on the words spoken. Paranoia flips the town upside-down and inside-out.

I found myself horrified at the turn of events and convicted about the words I say. And I found myself unable to put the book down. Horror of a different kind, no ghosts, no monsters and the resolution didn't turn out to be a bad guy wearing a sheet.

Recommended for those who don't mind being disturbed by their fiction.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Monday, January 04, 2010

Mary Connealy's The Husband Tree ~ Reviewed


The Husband Tree
by Mary Connealy
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc (January 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602601437


Hit the trail into the Old West, where a tough lady rancher and a seemingly aimless wrangler attempt to avoid the matrimonial noose. When Belle Tanner hires Silas Harden to help her get her cattle to market, the last thing she’s looking for is romance. So why does she turn into jelly whenever he’s near? Silas wants nothing to do with women, but he can’t seem to resist the pull of love when it comes to Belle. Can they make it through this cattle drive without getting hitched? Or will they steer straight into a commitment neither one counted on?


Review and rating: 5 of 5 stars

It is quite a fact that I have yet to come across a book by Mary Connealy that I did not like. I loved the Lassoed in Texas series and I am enamored with the Montana Marriages series. It is baffling to me how each and every story can grip you further. The catty whit is so amusing and the characters are lovely. The issues dealing with real world problems are incredibly woven in a western historical standpoint and cause a reader to truly think. The growing love between protagonists is breathe taking and palpable.

Belle Tanner is not your average western woman, but a woman not to be challenged. She has had her fill of husbands, as is shown by the occupied dirt surrounding three sides of the Husband Tree. The last thing that she wants is another husband nor a romance that leads that general direction. Silas is man with two near misses when it comes to marriage and not looking for another chance. When time has run out and a cattle drive has to be made by Belle and her four daughters, the drifter Silas is her only hope. What God brings together, let no man put apart.

As a mother of a new baby reading and watching Belle's days with her girls especially her infant is amazing. I cannot imagine nursing while riding on horseback, much less changing a diaper in mid gallop without missing a beat. I am thrilled and enchanted to the bone by the tale devised by Mary's imagination and I cannot wait for the third installment in the series The Wildflower Bride. In this book you get a taste for what might be in for Wade Sawyer and Abby Lind. *sigh* Anticipation.

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Sunday, January 03, 2010

ACFW January Book Releases

1. A Stray Drop of Blood, by Roseanna M. White from Whitefire Publishing. Born free, made a slave, married out of her bonds, Abigail never knows freedom until she feels the fire of a stray drop of blood from a Jewish carpenter.

2. A Deadly Wilderness, by Kelly Irvin from Five Star/Gale/Cengage. A family that will stop at nothing to protect its secrets and a drug cartel hit man are just two of the pieces to the puzzle Homicide Detective Ray Johnson must solve to find a murderer—and save his own life.

3. Becoming Lucy - The Winds Across the Prairie Series, by Martha Rogers from Realms Division of Strang Communications. An alleged murderer reclaims his life, but can he reclaim his beloved?


4. Burn, by Erin Healy and Ted Dekker from Thomas Nelson. A supernatural thriller about a woman who gets an unwanted chance to extinguish her fiery past.

5. First Impressions , by Michelle Sutton from Desert Breeze Publishing, Inc. Playing the role of a saloon girl taught her how to flirt, but it makes a lousy first impression on the man whose heart she longs to win.

6. Jenna's Cowboy- Callahans of Texas, 1, by Sharon Gillenwater from Baker/Revell. Will Jenna's love enable Nate to put the horrors of war behind him and become the man she deserves?

7. Never Far from Home- 2nd in the Miller Family Series, by Mary Ellis from Harvest House Publishers. Emma's rebellious Rumschpringe may lead to her banishment as friendship turns to love with the English sheepfarmer.

8. Plain Jane, by Hillary Manton Lodge from Harvest House Publishers. Girl reporter Jayne Tate finds more than she bargained for when she goes to Amish Country to research a story.

9. Sworn to Protect, by Diann Mills from Tyndale. Danika Morales has sworn to protect our nation's borders. But that oath has come with a price.
10. The Chic Shall Inherit the Earth - All About Us #6, by Shelley Adina from Hatchette FaithWords. At exclusive Spencer Academy, Lissa Mansfield gains popularity when she replaces her nemesis, Vanessa, on the senior Cotillion committee, but graduation and major decisions about the future loom.

11. The Choice - Lancaster County Secrets, Book 1, by Suzanne Woods Fisher from Revell. A tender story of love and forgiveness, "The Choice" uncovers the sweet simplicity of the Amish world--and shows it's never too late to find your way back to God.

12. The Husband Tree - Montana Marriages, by Mary Connealy from Barbour. A tough lady rancher drags a reluctant cowhand on a cattledrive, along with her four daughters.