Thursday, February 25, 2010

Virgina Smith's Third Times a Charm ~ Reviewed


THIRD TIMES A CHARM
By Virginia Smith
Published by Revell
ISBN# 978-0-8007-3234-9
327 Pages

Back Cover:

Tori Sanderson has the professional opportunity of a lifetime. If she can prove she’s executive material, she’s in line for a big promotion. But there’s only room for one new account executive and her co-worker has his eye on the job…and on Tori. How can she consider romance when she couldn’t hold on to the one man who was supposed to love her forever—her own father?

The time has come for answers, and Tori decided to search for the father who deserted her twelve years ago. Will she find the answers she craves? And will she ever be able to love again?

REVIEW:

Virginia Smith’s Sister to Sister series has been entertaining, hilarious and in parts filled with fun tender moments you’ll enjoy and parts that really make you think about relationships and God. Each one of the books in the Sister to Sister series concentrates on one of the Sanderson sisters. The first book Stuck in the Middle, is written in the point of view of Joan-the middle sister. Age Before Beauty, is about Allie, the oldest sister and in Third Times a Charm is about the youngest sister Tori Sanderson.

Tori is the sister who is on the fast track to success. The way she dresses, her strong work ethic and commitment is all done in the hopes of obtaining the coveted position as a marketing executive.

Climbing the ladder to success isn’t easy. Tori’s in competition with Mark for this promotion. If he wins she’ll work for him, but if she wins, he’ll work for her. This whole thing is uncomfortable because Mark has made sexual advances toward her. She’s not sure what to do. It’s awkward

As the demands of this promotion become clear, Tori starts to look at the important things in her sister’s lives and their happiness. This makes her start to rethink a few things. Could she balance career, and family? Where did love fit in her life if she took this very demanding career? Tori realizes there might be more important things in life than working 24/7. Having time for family and fun is very important. It’s the little things in life that make it worth living.

Virginia Smith says, “We have a very real Heavenly Father who will go to extreme measures to let us know how much he loves us. I pray you’ve felt that love as you read Third Times a Charm.”

The author conveys this message and so much more in all three of the books. Thanks Virginia for the review copy of this book. I enjoyed hanging out with the Sanderson sisters and their other family members.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
ACFW Book Club Coordinator

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tricia Goyer's Songbird ~ Reviewed


SONGBIRD
By Tricia Goyer
Published by: Summerside Press
ISBN#9781935416685
334 Pages


Back Cover:

DATELINE: 1945. The War is OVER. And USO singer Betty Lake travels to post-Hitler Germany to entertain occupying U.S. troops. Her first performance is a hit, and she’s enthralled by the applause—by her quarters in a former Nazi-heldmansio—and by the attention of Frank Witt, a dashing U.S. Army Air Crops combat photographer. Yet his songbird gets her feathers ruffled when her roommate, Kat, goes missing under suspicion of foul play. Is Betty a target too?

REVIEW:

Thanks to Summerside Press for a review copy of this book. I love the way Tricia Goyer helps me learn about history as she sweeps me into her intriguing stories; this one’s set in 1945 after World War II is over. I immediately care about the main characters Songbird, alias Betty Lake, a singer for the occupied troops in Germany, and Frank Witt, a combat photographer, who meet on a plane ride to their new assignments. Tricia Goyer shows the aftermath and destruction of a city and pulse of the community through these character's eyes. Loved it!!

Betty is thrilled about this opportunity, but Frank thinks there's been a mistake on his assignment. He takes pictures of combat scenes, not show girls. Although, when he learns that Betty is in the show, his attitude starts to soften. He needs to win Betty’s cooperation in order for them to work together to solve a mystery, in the hopes of saving thousands of lives.

I was fascinated by the setting of this book. I wondered if these places were real, what they looked like; so I googled them and here’s what I discovered. Beautiful pictures of Festspielhaus in Bayreuth showed up on the web. It’s a real theater built specifically for operas by composer Richard Wagner. He also constructed a home nearby called Villa Wahnfried—where the USO singers in Tricia Goyer’s story stayed. I googled Richard Wagner and discovered some scary stuff the author refers to in this book about Hitler drawing inspiration from this composer’s music. Tricia doesn’t bog you down with an overwhelming amount of historical facts, but alludes to them through the characters and what people were concerned about back then after Hitler’s death.

This is not the first book by Tricia Goyer I’ve enjoyed and learned from. Thanks Tricia, for your help in learning about another part of history. Thanks for a special story that has two real people caught in a whirlwind, doing the best they can to trust in God at a time when no one could trust anyone. It was a time of recovery for a country and its people. After reading this, I’m ready to read another book by Tricia, you will too.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
ACFW Book Club Coodinator

Monday, February 22, 2010

Barbara Hall's The Music Teacher ~ Reviewed



The Music Teacher
Barbara Hall
Pub. Date: February 2009
Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Format: Hardcover, 292pp
ISBN-13: 9781565124639

Synopsis:

In The Music Teacher, a penetrating and richly entertaining look into the heart and mind of a woman who has failed both as an artist and as a wife, Barbara Hall, award-winning creator and writer of such hit television series as Judging Amy and Joan of Arcadia, tells the story of a violinist who has accepted the limitations of her talent and looks for the casual satisfaction of trying to instill her passion for music in others. She gets more than she bargains for, however, when a young girl named Hallie enters her life. For here at last is the real thing: someone with the talent and potential to be truly great. In her drive to shape this young girl into the artist the teacher could never be, she makes one terrible mistake. As a result she is forced to reevaluate her whole life and come to terms with her future.

Hall has crafted a thoroughly engrossing novel that examines the pitfalls of failure and holds up a mirror to the face of a culture that places success and achievement above all else.

Review:


Barbara Hall is an artist who works in descriptions. She writes poetically about music and art, feelings and sensations, loss and sorrow, and she left me wanting to read more of her work. Her characters are complex and a group of musical snobs who fight amongst themselves and struggle to be great in the most mediocre of settings, a music store. Egos flair, and day-to-day details create drama and angst as they all try to find meaning and life in their passion for this music hunger that has stolen so much from each of them.

Pearl is the storyteller and main character. One who starts out as an embittered would-have-been and slowly blooms into someone who hasn't fully given up on what could be. She is both likable, sympathetic and frustrating, as are her music store friends and students.

Hall writes with a deep spirituality that is complicated and thought provoking. A spirituality that permeates every aspect of the characters' lives yet leaves them hungry for something outside of themselves and their tired lives.

Literary fiction lovers will be the most likely to appreciate Hall's The Music Teacher. General fiction fans might find the read a little slow. Younger readers might not appreciate the adult struggles. There is language and sexuality that borders on R-rated should you be searching for content details.

I will be reading more of Hall's novels.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Friday, February 19, 2010

Louise Gouge's The Captain's Lady ~ Reviewed


The Captain's Lady
Louise Gouge
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 288
Vendor: Steeple Hill Books
ISBN: 0373828322



Review by Michelle Griep


Captain James Templeton’s orders from General Washington are clear. His target: Lord Bennington, a member of George III’s Privy Council. The assignment: find Bennington’s war plans. The risks: the future of the East Florida Colony, Jamie’s life…and his heart. In spite of the dangers of their hopeless situation, he’s fallen in love with Lady Marianne Moberly, Lord Bennington’s daughter.

Desperate to protect his country, Jamie carries out his orders with a heavy heart. But Marianne’s persistence is a challenge he never expected. With love and faith, they must navigate troubled waters to win their future together.

Author Louise M. Gouge brings the Revolutionary War era to life in The Captain’s Lady. She mixes historical detail in just the right amount, which makes this read educational as well as entertainment filled. Her attention to the sights and sounds of the late eighteenth century will make you feel as if you’re in jolly old England yourself.

My favorite character was Captain James Templeton. He’s the archetypal hero of strength and integrity…not to mention handsome. It’s no wonder the Lady Marianne falls for him. And he’s quite the accomplished fellow: a whaler, a gentleman, a captain, a spy. He pulls each role off with finesse.

A quick and easy read, The Captain’s Lady is just the thing to snuggle up with on a cold winter night.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lisa Lickel's Meander Scar ~ Reviewed


Meander Scar
By Lisa J. Lickel
Black Lyon Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-934912-23-2


Review by Michelle Griep


After seven years with no clue as to the whereabouts of Ann Ballard’s missing husband, nearly everyone presumes him dead. Now forty-something, Ann is ready for her stagnant life to flow again. Then one day, a dark-haired younger man from her past shows up on her doorstep offering a river of hope in place of tears.

Former neighbor Mark Roth has secretly loved Ann for years. A respected attorney, he’s returned home to help Ann face down disapproving family members and the legal maneuvering of her likely deceased husband’s family—while quietly winning her heart.

When the hidden truth of Ann’s situation turns their lives on end and another tragedy strikes, the two must come to terms with family, faith and the depths to which true love can run.

Meander Scar, besides being an intriguing title, is quite the metaphor for the curve balls life often throws our way. A meander scar is basically the path water takes when confronted with a barrier so that it must split or bend, but then reunites to form a straight course. Author Lisa Lickel weaves a story that shows how hurt and healing frequently intersect.

The main issue tackled in this book is the appropriateness of love and romance between an older woman and a younger man. I had no idea the stigma such a relationship could create. Because of the experiences of the main characters, Ann and Mark, I have a new understanding and compassion towards a situation I’d never even thought about.

I mostly related to Ann, which is kind of a given being that I’m a woman. But besides that, heroine Ann suffers from debilitating migraines. Lickel accurately portrays the symptoms and just how interrupting headaches can be to one’s life.

Meander Scar is not a light-hearted read. It’s a hard hitting drama that will make you think, and a fine addition to the Black Lyon contemporary romance line.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Janice Thompson's Swinging on a Star ~ Reviewed


Swinging on a Star
By Janice Thompson
Published by Revell
ISBN# 978-0-8007-3343-8
331 Pages


Back Cover:

There's a fine line between ambitious and crazy. Bella's just not sure where it is. She is running a successful wedding-planning business and is about to plan its most ambitious wedding yet--a Renaissance-themed fairy tale come true, complete with period costumes and foods, horse-drawn carriages. The best man just happens to be Hollywood's hottest and most eligible bachelor, and he's showing an interest in Bella. Add her star struck sister and her feuding aunt and uncle, and you've got a recipe for disaster--and a lot of laughs. This is the Sequel to Fools Rush In.


REVIEW:

Last week I saw the movie, Guys and Dolls with Frank Sinatra and Marlin Brando for the first time. I loved the music. It was fun to see these actors together in a musical. While I was reading Swinging on a Star I felt as if I were transported into a Frank Sinatra movie with a bonus feature. Janice talks about the Lord in the most natural way in her book; you won’t see that in any movie Frank Sinatra or Marlin Brando made. I’m so thankful to have received a review copy of this book.

Janice’s chapters names are so much fun too---Young at Heart, Something Stupid, Love and Marriage, Call Me Irresponsible, and My Kind of Town are just a few of their names. All are Frank Sinatra hits that fit into the theme of this entire book. I think Janice just might have a thing for Frank Sinatra and his music!! I’m just saying.

Bella is a wedding planner and prepares for her biggest gig yet—a medieval wedding, complete with castle and mote. I was swept up into this wonderland that reminded me of the movie Enchanted, were a princess is in search of her prince charming in the real world. Bella is trying to create an enchanted wedding event from Medieval times. Marian the bride had desired a wedding like this all of her life. Bella was the only one who could see her vision and create this fairy tale atmosphere. Hey if you have the money you can create Castles, horse drawn carriages and have everyone dressed in period gowns at your wedding. I would have loved to have seen this wedding and sampled Bella’s Aunt Rosa’s food.

I had so much fun reading about this amazing wedding and all Bella went through to pull it off. The best man just so happens to be the academy award winning actor Brock Benson, who is trying to hide out from the paparazzi. But Aunt Rosa’s garlic bread has won and the Food Network’s camera crews were on their way to film Rosa at work in her home. Can they hide Brock? Can Bella pull off the wedding of a life time? Stay tuned.

I enjoyed the comedy, romance, the quirky family and their relationship drama’s which reminded me of some of my relatives. I enjoyed how these characters find love not only with each other but with God. Here’s the message for our heart along this wild fairy tale adventure—so many great nuggets like this, “…figuring out that we’re all royalty. We’re God’s kids. So, the whole princess theme is very real. That’s why it resonates with women so deeply. We’re waiting for Prince Charming to sweep us away, of course, but that’s just a symbol of God sweeping in and loving us in spite of our flaws…He only sees that we’re his little princesses.”

I enjoyed this story and special nuggets Janice gave me, I know you will too.

Nora St.Laurent
ACFW Book Club Coordinator


BONUS REVIEW:

It was no secret that I really enjoyed reading Janice's first Weddings by Bella novel "Fools Rush In" and my opinion is no different with the second "Swinging on a Star". The romance is palpable and the giggles and chuckles are endless. This is the second novel in the series and though I highly recommend that you read the first one to really understand the family quirks, you could definitely appreciate this one alone. Every page radiates God's love and I love this book. I'm r...more It was no secret that I really enjoyed reading Janice's first Weddings by Bella novel "Fools Rush In" and my opinion is no different with the second "Swinging on a Star". The romance is palpable and the giggles and chuckles are endless. This is the second novel in the series and though I highly recommend that you read the first one to really understand the family quirks, you could definitely appreciate this one alone. Every page radiates God's love and I love this book. I'm really eager for more series like this from Janice as well as the third book to this series.

Highly recommended for genuine good laughs.

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Thursday, February 11, 2010

M.L. Tyndall's The Raven Saint ~ Reviewed


The Raven Saint
Charles Towne Belle Series Book 3
By M.L. Tyndall
Barbour Publishing
2009
ISBN: 978-1-60260-158-1

Review by Michelle Griep


Grace Westcott has spent her entire life serving God and helping the poor—not to mention trying to save the souls of her two wayward sisters. But while on an errand of mercy, she is kidnapped by a French mercenary and told she will be sold to a Spanish Don in Columbia.

Determined to hold on to her faith and see God in every situation, she believes she must have been sent to help someone find God’s love. But no one will listen to her pleas, warnings, and prayers.

When Grace’s situation grows far worse than she could imagine, she is forced to face her own human weaknesses. But she isn’t prepared to face her biggest weakness of all—falling in love with the nefarious captain, Rafe Dubois.

Will Grace discover God’s purpose for this harrowing journey? And what will she do when she realizes His purpose for her is not to redeem the captain and his crew, but herself?

Wow! What a swashbuckling adventure of a read. The Raven Saint is a powerful conclusion to The Charles Towne Belle Series by author MaryLu Tyndall—and it’s my personal favorite.

Tyndall nails the rogue hero persona in the character of Rafe Dubois. What’s not to love in a man who wears a white buccaneer shirt and jackboots? Oh, yes…Captain Dubois is all that and so much more. This jaw-dropping hunk of a captain is not only unpredictable but clever and courageous as well. He’s a bad boy champion who steals the heroine’s heart along with the reader’s.

But besides the spicy attraction between the captain and his captive, there are many spiritual aspects that author Tyndall conveys throughout the story. She shows how holier-than-thou judgmental attitudes hurt everyone involved. That revenge does not end with the feeling of satisfaction. And that spiritual warfare, though not visible to the human eye, is a very real battle going on around us.

Do yourself a favor and set sail on the Caribbean this winter by picking up a copy of The Raven Saint. It’s way cheaper than a vacation but will take you away just the same.



BONUS REVIEW:

MaryLu is an author that I always enjoy. During my move this book disappeared and I did not get to finish it. It was very frustrating, but then while I was reading my latest sea-bound adventure Ransome's Crossing I found the hiding book. So I jumped from one adventurous romance ship-set journey to another in a different part of the ocean.

Each of the Charles Towne Belles novels has given an inside view to a different sister with extremely unique personality. I wish there was a fourth...more MaryLu is an author that I always enjoy. During my move this book disappeared and I did not get to finish it. It was very frustrating, but then while I was reading my latest sea-bound adventure Ransome's Crossing I found the hiding book. So I jumped from one adventurous romance ship-set journey to another in a different part of the ocean.

Each of the Charles Towne Belles novels has given an inside view to a different sister with extremely unique personality. I wish there was a fourth book about the last sister, yet I will take what I can get. Grace Westcott is the pious sister, and in the past books I did not really like her. Yet as I was able to know her personality and think about her perilous situation of being kidnapped and taken aboard a ship to be sold into slavery to a Spanish Don I was able to grow with her and learned to love her.

How many of us are like the Rich Man or the Pharisee that think we have everything figured out. Learning each day that it is not about us, but about the bigger picture and about Christ is quite the experience. Rafe Dubois is a fabulous character and brought me many smiles to see his inner personality wander the page. Each chapter was exciting and thrilling as I anticipated and could not wait for what would happen next.

Every book with MaryLu is a delight and I cannot wait for more. Especially her new Surrender to Destiny series with it's beautiful covers!

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Christa Allan's Walking on Broken Glass~ Reviewed


Walking on Broken Glass
By Christa Allan
Published by Abingdon Press
ISBN 978-1-426-70227-3

Description:

Facing sobriety with Southern charm. Leah Thornton's like, like her Southern Living home, has great curb appeal. But a paralyzing encounter with a can of frozen orange juice in the supermarket shatters the fa├žade, forcing her to admit that all is not as it appears.

When her best friend gets in Leah's face about her refusal to deal with her life, Leah is forced to make an agonizing decision.

Can she sacrifice what she wants to get what she needs? Joy, sadness, and pain converge, testing Leah's commitment to her marriage, motherhood and her faith.

To read chapter one -- click HERE.


Review:

Whether tragedy, angst, or a breakdown, Southern women know how to survive with panache. Christa Allan infuses that Southern charisma into her writing, giving us a captivating read. Alcoholism is a dark subject, yet Allan brings it right up to the very edge, and then pulls us back into the light with Leah's own brand of humor. Never depressing, Walking on Broken Glass is definitely a page-turner with all the emotions an alcoholic experiences. Novel Reviews and I give it a high recommendation.

Ane Mulligan
Editor, Novel Journey


BONUS REVIEW:

“You drink too much.” Molly said to Leah.

“Who are you Molly? AA’s new spokes woman? Yesterday was an office party. People drank. I drank, so what!”

Molly retorts, “You don’t remember do you? You were out of control. You drove yourself home! You could have killed someone; yourself…This has to stop. I’m losing my best friend. I don’t see her anymore!”

Who was Leah kidding? Her life was a mess and now everyone knew it. Molly had suggested she voluntarily check into a rehab center for 30 days. Maybe she should go to rehab—the truth was she was disappearing—even she didn’t know who she was anymore.

Christa Allen does a great job of depicting a woman who seems to have the perfect, charmed life - living in a beautiful house, driving an expensive car, etc. Life from the outside looking in is great, but life on the inside, the places no one could see, hurt. Leah’s heart and mind were dripping with pain. The only socially acceptable way to cope, in her mind, was to drink until the pain stopped. This book is not for the faint of heart. Christa tells it like it is; no sugar coating here. I liked that. Why does a person have to wait until they get a DUI, or even worse, kill someone before getting help? Leah finds out real quick that people aren’t applauding the fact she’s decided to go to rehab.

Carl, Leah’s husband, thinks she’s being a bit dramatic. He’s not convinced she has a problem. He tells her that getting drunk every now and then isn’t that big a deal. Go to rehab he tells her, but thinks it’s ridiculous and so does her father. They will be there to get her over this crisis—drama. Life for them was manageable—nothing needed to change.

That’s how Leah’s journey to wellness begins, after a few days in rehab she starts to think maybe her husband and Dad might be right. Did she really have a problem?

Her counselor tells her something that starts to chip away at her hard heart, “Addiction tricks us into thinking we can pick and choose what we feel. We can’t, real life means feeling…”

Leah’s exasperated and says, “I hate all this. Am I supposed to spend the rest of my life feeling every little thing that happens? How do people live like that?”

Christa writes the story in current time with Leah having flash backs of events that help you understand her pain and how life had become unmanageable.

Leah realizes she can do this one day at a time and takes the first step.

1. She realizes she is powerless over her addiction-life has become unmanageable. Then the next step becomes clear,

2. She came to believe that a power greater than herself could restore her to sanity. (She could only hope!)

She learns the Serenity prayer. “God Grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference!”

I love this prayer. I’m so thankful to have received a review copy of this book.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent -- ACFW Book Club Coordinator

Monday, February 08, 2010

Dekker and Healy's Burn ~ Reviewed




Product Information
Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 384
Vendor: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: 2009
Dimensions: 9.25 X 6.13 (inches)
ISBN: 1595544712

Description:

Gypsy Janeal Mikkado is in an explosive situation. When her kumpania was attacked and her friend was about to be burned to death, Janeal chose to disappear with the million dollars she discovered. Now the person she thought was dead is back! Will Janeal face her past---or be consumed by flames of guilt and fear?

Review:

Coming off reading the best seller Kiss by this dynamic duo of Christian fiction writing a few months ago, Dekker and Healy have shown they are a great team again bouncing ideas together & making yet another best seller in Burn.

When I first started reading this book, I was hoping for an even better version of Kiss with all the supernatural powers or borderline God level powers in a human form. When you deal with stealing memories with a kiss in the last one, where can you go? How crazy was I for asking that question? Of course, I knew they were capable of using another of the major senses we deal with everyday all twisted up in a crazed thriller over a 15 year timeline.

This high octane rocket of a story dealing with Janeal Mikkado and her father Jason Mikkado, who runs a gypsy carnival of thrillers troop, was an interesting starting point. Another great starter was showing the villain right out of the box in drug dealer Salazar Sanso who is a man that always gets what he wants. There was no exception by seducing and duping Janeal to believe that her father was in danger and the DEA was going to hurt him too if the money was not found. One million dollars missing is a big deal. How about the idea of that million to be counterfeit? The power struggle to protect one’s self from prison because it is counterfeit can make a man desperate. Mr. Sanso would do just about anything. This includes burning down a whole camp filled with gypsies & killing them all.

As the story unfolds, I found that it was easy to follow and then imagery of the scenes rocketed through my head. I will not spoil the ending so I will end my review this way. I recommend anyone who wants to read a very good action packed adventure to add this one definitely to your reading list. I feel it will be a movie someday. The Dekker fans out there will just enjoy another great story. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

Be blessed!, Brad

Bonus Review:

Ted Dekker can take the imagination on a wild ride. And he does yet again in Burn. With Erin Healy, he has crafted a story about a woman who gets caught up in deception and soul-hungers and onto the paths that lead to inevitable pain and death as they take their travelers further and further into darkness.

Though there are moments that are unbelievable, they still seem credible because they are written by a master of ripping masks off and hearts wide open. Or maybe in this case, intense light and horrific heat burning off the lies and leaving truth in its wake.

This is a thought-provoking read. More abstract truth than Christianese. And outside of a few minutes pause when a bizarre twist was revealed, I sped read to find the redemption I knew would be coming. I like the team of Healy and Dekker and I'm looking forward to the next novel they produce.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Friday, February 05, 2010

Sandra Byrd's Piece De Resistance ~ Reviewed


Piece de Resistance: A Novel (Paperback)
Sandra Byrd
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (September 15, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1400073294

Product Description
Having earned her chef’s hat, Lexi Stuart bids au revoir to her glamorous and deliciously satisfying pastry mentorship outside of Paris and returns to her hometown of Seattle, Washington. There, she finds life unexpectedly complicated.

She’s put in charge of a high-end catering bakery called Bijoux, which should be her dream job, but there’s a catch: She has to make this lavish bakery into a successful business in just a few, short months, which will require more than her ability to make an amazing wedding cake. In over her head and at a loss for creative marketing ideas, Lexi isn’t sure what the recipe for success needs to be.

Stir in a complicated relationship with her French beau Philippe and his daughter, Celine, then add a dash of romance with down-to-earth lawyer Dan, and life suddenly contains more ooh la la than Lexi can handle.

With the fate of her career and her love life hanging by a thread, the phrase “piece of cake” has never been more daunting. Lexi learns that she must trust the dreams in her heart and the God who put them there.


Review:


I almost drooled on the pages. Foodies who are Chick-Lit fans are going to want to check this one out. Sandra Byrd continues Lexi's journey into the art of French pastries and wedding cakes. Fold in love and relationships, location issues, and bigger-than-she's-prepared-for jobs and missions and bake at 350.

Will Lexi make it as a pastry chef/wedding cake designer and a new business manager? Will she have to live in her grandmother's retirement community until she herself reaches retirement age? Will the Frenchman with the adorable daughter be the layer in her cake or will Dan, the white bread attorney, turn out to be the frosting?

Byrd provides 5 mouthwatering recipes. The Caramel Latte Cake sounds to die for...oh no, I'm drooling again, and the laptop is plugged in, so I best end this review now.


Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Catherine Palmer's The Courteous Cad ~ Reviewed


THE COURTEOUS CAD
By Catherine Palmer
Published by Tyndale House
ISBN-13: 9780842375559
384 Pages


Back Cover:

On her tour of the English countryside, a chance encounter in the streets alerts Miss Prudence Watson to the inhumane working conditions at the worsted mill. She learns that the owner is William Sherbourne, a Royal Naval officer, just returned from sea. Following in his wake is his reputation as a cad and a secret so ghastly he'll do anything to protect it. Even worse, he's handsome and charming and not at all the villain Prudence expected him to be.


REVIEW:

“Marriage is not the object of my hearts desire…I shall never wed…when God reveals my mission, I mean to do it with all my heart.”

“I shall champion those less fortunate than I.” Miss Watson is serious about God’s mission for her life; her sisters view it as silly. A woman as beautiful as Prudence should be seeking the most illegible partner, settling down and raising a family. This mission to help the poor was ridiculous thinking. Did this really come from God?

William Sherbourne agrees with Miss Prudence Watson about one thing, “I must say how delighted I am to learn your plan to remain unwed, partakers in uncorrupted innocence we shall be great friends forever. Chums, in fact.”

William and Prudence are both smart, opinionated, beautiful people who enjoy verbal sparing. Neither will admit their feelings they have for the other.

William says, “You are correct in the wickedness you surmise about me. I am not a good man. I have committed such evil in fact, that I cannot hope to be forgiven.”

Miss Watson's quick retort, “It is not my good opinion you should seek, Mr. Sherbourne…It is God’s. You will find Him more forgiving than I and certainly more merciful. But I shall endeavor to like you. We are, after all chums.”

This is fun filled book with substance. I was surprised by the risks Prudence took to fulfill her mission. Catherine Palmer urges us to “...take a closer look at ourselves, realize we are all a work in progress. We may reverse our opinions, make serious mistakes, and commit outright sin...The Holy Spirit wants to transform each of us into new creatures.” I was entertained; I laughed and made to think about life in this Regency period story. I’m thankful for the review copy I received.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
ACFW Book Club Coordinator



BONUS REVIEW:

Coming straight in with this being my first experience of author Catherine Palmer was refreshing and entertaining and I plan to look her up in the future for more reading adventures. I discovered that this novel is the third in a series but also connected to a Christmas novella and a second series as well bringing characters together and I love things like that. Even though I not read the other books in the series I was more than able to appreciate the characters and believe that I would like to read more about them in the other books related.

Being regency with all the etiquette and silly banter this story is fully of wit. Romantic and comical each page will present the reader with smiles. There is also a good touching on issues and causes of things such as child labor, mill revolts, long hours, as well as places for a person to improve. Using womanly whiles for the purpose of stumping men and exiting the acquaintance without a second thought. Learning to grow and find true forgiveness for a variety of past sins are woven through out and the message is not overly preachy yet important to experience.

The Courteous Cad is indeed a courteous man in the end. Both titles he earns and though the story is reflected on him, you can see learning and redeeming qualities in more character than one. I recommend this novel and must find some more.

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Gist and Bertrand's Beguiled ~ Reviewed

Beguiled
Deeanne Gist and J. Mark Bertrand
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher:
Bethany House; Original edition (February 1, 2010
Language: English
ISBN-10:
0764206281
ISBN-13:
978-0764206283

Book Description:

In the shadows of Charleston, someone is watching her... Rylee Monroe, a dogwalker in Charleston's wealthiest neighborhood, never feared the streets at night. But now a thief is terrorizing the area and worse, someone seems to be targeting her.



Reporter Logan Woods is covering the break-ins with the hope of publishing them as a true-crime book. The more he digs, the more he realizes this beguiling dogwalker seems to be at the center of everything. As danger draws ever closer, Logan must choose: Chase the girl, the story, or plunge into the shadows after the villain who threatens everything?


If you'd like to read the first chapter of , go HERE


Review:

Deeanne Gist adds a whole new element to her writing style in her new book Beguiled. Normally she writes historical stories about strong, smart women fighting the environment, social situations or about brave women beating the odds of their era. Deeanne loves history and has included many interesting facts that have helped me learn more about the California gold rush in one book, a woman’s mathematical society in another and what all is involved in being a lumberjack, just to name a few topics discussed in her book. Beguiled is a different from her other books because it takes place in current time. Her main character in this book is a person who walks dogs in rich neighborhoods of Charleston for a living.

J. Mark Bertrand wrote this book with Deeanne. This is their first joint collaboration. Bertrand is releasing his debut novel later this year - a murder mystery. It was fascinating to read in the author notes, how these authors decided to write a book together. J. Mark Bertrand’s book looks very compelling and suspenseful. It’s something I’m looking forward to reading later on this year.

Rylee is a professional dog watcher who loves animals. She thinks of them as her family since she is an orphan. Logan is a reporter who’s in the middle of writing his first novel. Logan decides to write about the criminals he’s reported on through the years, but the one that has his attention right now is the Robin Hood Burglar. This person steals from the rich and donates the item to a charity. Logan has pieced together (and so have the police) that Rylee’s clients seem to be getting broken into. She has keys to the house and plenty of time to do as she pleases. She becomes the number one suspect.

Rylee’s very upset by this for two reasons. First of all, because her clients are being hurt and secondly, she can’t believe that anyone would think that she had anything to do with these senseless crimes.

I was quickly swept into this story. Curious as to who did these crimes, I couldn’t stop reading because I couldn’t figure out who the burglar was until the end. I like the suspense, drama and humor in this book. I really enjoyed this and was thankful for the review copy.

Reviewed by: Nora St. Laurent
ACFW Book Club Coordinator


Bonus Review:

Two authors with very different voices and genres have combined their skills and created a nearly seamless read that kept reminding me of the movie version of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

Characters crafted in the style of classic detective stories fill in the background and intensify the plot as we enter the life of Rylee. Rylee, a beautiful onetime would-be grand lady of Charleston now lives in a rat-trap of an apartment and walks dogs to pay for a luxurious nursing home for her only living relative, her grandmother.

Rylee's parents left her with few resources and in need of help from her father's former law partner. An "older brother," the partner's playboy son, begins to turn his attention toward the all grown-up Rylee in a whole new way, think the movie Sabrina. Meanwhile items, strange items, begin to disappear from Rylee's clients. The Robin Hood thief takes one less valuable treasure, ignoring many worth thousands more, then he donates it to a charity. Soon, circumstantial evidence makes Rylee a suspect.

Reporter Logan Woods is writing about the notorious Robin Hood thief. But Robin Hood is only one of the colorful criminals throughout Charleston's history. His research leads him to the possibility of a contract for a book. But, his involvement in investigating the crimes leads his heart toward Rylee.

Full of fleshed-out characters and plenty of romance and suspense, this novel is a terrific marriage of the talents of Bertrand and Gist. A very enjoyable and touching read with loads of color, fascinating detail and dimension.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

BONUS REVIEW:

Truly I do love Deeanne Gist's historical romances. This however is not historical, yet I still love it. The collaborative novel from Deeanne Gist and J. Mark Bertrand is fabulous. Edge of your seat suspense with the incapability of turning the pages fast enough. As well as heart palpitating terror in some pages that is reminiscent of a Mary Higgins Clark novel. Yet filled through out that pages in all of the plot is a thrilling romance that brings smiles and tears almost to my eyes with it's beauty. This is a novel that has just about all of it. I could not be more excited by this relationship of writing between two such authors (even though this is my first experience with Mark) and I look forward to more.

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Monday, February 01, 2010

ACFW February Book Releases

1. Abigail: A Novel, The Wives of King David, Book 2, by Jill Eileen Smith from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Turmoil marks her life - what price will she pay for love?



2. A Valentine Wish, by Betsy St. Amant from Steeple Hill Lori, chocolate-lover extraordinary, is unemployed, single, and out of brownie mix. But when a secret admirer pops up at her new job running a chocolate boutique, she might have the ingredients for a special Valentine's after all!



3. Deliver Us From Evil, by Robin Caroll from B&H Publishing. When a female helicopter rescues a US Marshal escorting a heart, they must race against time to uncover the largest child trafficking ring in history.



4. Hometown Promise; First in the Kellerville Series, by Merrillee Whren from Steeple Hill. Kellerville: Finding family, community and love in one small town



5. Love's Winding Path, by Lauralee Bliss from Heartsong Presents, Barbour Publishing. A prodigal's life is never out of God's reach and His love as two lonely adventurers are about to discover.



6. The Marriage Masquerade, by Erica Vetsch from Heartsong Presents, Barbour Publishing. Sometimes running away brings you right back where you started.



7. Meander Scar, by Lisa Lickel from Black Lion. When Ann is ready to jump back into life with a new love, she discovers the devastating truth behind her husband's disappearance.



8. My Deadly Valentine, by Lynette Eason and Valerie Hansen from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. Two suspense filled stories about stalkers and the men determined to protect the women they love.



9. On Wings of Love, by Kim Watters from Steeple Hill Love Inspired. A dedicated nurse devotes her life helping others, only to discover the man who steals her heart doesn't want her help..



10. The Pastor's Wife, by Jennifer AlLee from Abingdon Press. A woman must face the husband - and the congregation - she ran from six years earlier.



11. Walking on Broken Glass, by Christa Allen from Abingdon Press. Leah Thornton stops numbing her pain with alcohol, but discovers the road to redemption might still be under construction.