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


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?


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


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.


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

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.


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


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!


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

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


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?


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

By Chris Fabry
Published by Tyndale
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.


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
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


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

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Jerry Jenkins's The Last Operative ~ Reviewed

The Last Operative by Jerry B. Jenkins
Genre: Christian Fiction (Espionage!)
Pages: 384 Trade Paperback
Date Published: June 24, 2010
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jordan Kirkwood wants to go quietly into the sunset. His career as an NSA intelligence officer has taken a significant toll. His two adult children are little more than distant acquaintances. His wife has been patient and supportive, but he knows she has deserved better. That was part of the reason they were going to London. He wanted her to see Europe like a tourist. But that was before he was given intelligence information during the recent mission to Germany. The threat is grave—bigger than 9/11. And the risk is compounded by the fact that someone inside the NSA is involved. The most hidden place in Kirkwood’s past will have to be unmasked in order to meet the challenges of this mission.


What an adventure! I agree with Jerry that this is an amazing book cover, it says so much. The Last Operative is a novel that keeps you going from page to page and chapter to chapter. It is one of those long lasting adventures where when you think something big and full of adrenaline just happened and that you and recuperate, something even bigger happens. To me at first the book ends abruptly, but in retrospect looking at it, it fits right in. Because if you blink, something else is going to happen!

Knowing that The Last Operative is a retelling of Jerry's first standalone novel is hard to fully grasp, because this book is so literal and set with today's political avenues, but then I guess history does repeat itself. Jordan Kirkwood is a great character, if you know me at you, you probably know that I have a very fond love of the television show and books Alias from J.J. Abrams and many other things espionage. Jordan is an NSA (National Security Agency) CIA-like (Central Intelligence Agency) operative and currently one of a kind. He is in for quite the unexpected adventure even in his line of work and his future and past as well as his faith are all at stake.

Jump on in and enjoy the story, but be prepared to put a little time aside to read the whole thing, because you won't want to stop.

*Thanks to Tyndale House Publishers for providing a copy for review.*

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Bonus Review:

I'm thankful to have received a review copy of The Last Operative, by Jerry Jenkins. He creates a story with a 007 type character that is faithful to his wife and family. Even though he’s away on missions and he doesn’t see his family much, he’s thankful to his wife for holding it all together while he’s away. He’s passionate about his family and will lay down his life for them.

Jordan Kirkwood, NSA intelligence operative is finally going to make his wife’s dream come true. She’s wanted to see Europe as tourists-Problem: he’s just found out a secret that could end life as he and everyone else knows it. Who can he trust? What can he do? “Jordan was tempted to break his cover, to assure the authorities that all the bullets had come from the same weapon! But he knew this would be determined soon enough by ballistics.” He could be compromised if he reveals this secret, but the situation will put the country on high alert—his life could unravel fast and furious if he does what he’s thinking about doing! What about his wife and kids? Everything he holds dear could change in the blink of an eye.

Unbelievable things happen to Jordan in his quest for answers. He even begins to question his faith in God and his own instincts become shaky. His life was turning upside down and inside out. Would he risk it all to find out what was really going on?

Jordan’s career has taken a toll on his family, because he hadn’t realized the stakes were so high until he learned of this secret. “Facing the ugliest side of himself. There’s no making up for lost time, is there? I’ve just royally screwed up my relationships with my kids.”

This book has it all - action, adventure, espionage, romance - and so much more. Jerry Jenkins creates likable characters on top secret missions that will have you up late to see what happens next. Jerry Jenkins says that this is a stand alone book he re-wrote for modern readers, but in my opinion, he did leave it open to a sequel. I’m just saying! Grin!

Reviewed by: Nora St. Laurent
The Book Club Network

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sandi Rog's The Master's Wall ~ Reviewed

The Master’s Wall
By Sandi Rog
Published by Deward Publishing
ISBN# 978-1-936341-02-3
297 Pages

Back Cover:

HE FIGHTS FOR HIS FREEDOM. SHE FIGHTS FOR HER LIFE. TOGETHER, THEY FIGHT FOR EACH OTHER. After watching Roman soldiers drag his parents away to their death, David, a young Hebrew, is sold and enslaved to serve at a villa outside of Rome. As David trains to become a skilled fighter, he works hard to please his master and hopes to earn his freedom. However, an opportunity to escape tempts him with its whispering call. Freedom beckons, but invisible chains hold him captive to the master's granddaughter, an innocent girl with a fiery spirit. David vows to protect Alethea from his master, the murderous patriarch, and contrives a daring plan—sacrifice his own life to save hers.


I’m thankful to have received a review copy of this author’s powerful debut novel. Sandi Rog takes the reader on an amazing, colorful journey through history to the first century Rome, AD 76, a time when Christians risked their lives to meet together and share the gospel.

Sandi hooked me from the first page, “David tried not to cry, tried not to breathe or make a sound as he crept along the dark street… he followed the enemy. There were three of them. And they had taken his parents.”

I felt for young David as he watched the horrific scene of his parents being tortured to death. He tried to stop them but they were too big. They beat on him and left him for dead. When he awoke he found himself in a place he never dreamed he could be.

“A slave?...David had known slaves. But never had he imagined what it might mean to be one. He was to be bound to a master, to obey and do his every will” No longer free. How could this have happened?

Alethea’s a feisty, curious, little girl who gets in trouble a lot and doesn’t think twice about sharing what’s on her mind! Alethea loved to explore, stands up for what she believes in and has a vivid imagination. But this little girl’s heart is heavy; she’s lost the love of her life. She still has nightmares of seeing her dad murdered in the middle of the night. A night she should have been in bed.

Alethea noticed a slave named David has started to work at their house. She is determined to talk to him; even if it was forbidden to do so and could be punished. He looked kind and she needed a friend.

Alethea reminded David of his younger sister. He doesn’t know he wasn’t supposed to talk to her. David’s obedience, faith and courage are tested over and over; as he adjusts to the rules of a slave. He dreams of freedom but God has challenged him to share the gospel, his love and forgiveness to the people who have mistreated him.

My eyes were glued to the book as the story reached the climatic conclusion. I felt like I had my heart in my throat. I was clueless as to how this creative, sensitive author would bring this unbelievable story to an end. There were definitely twists, turns and a few surprises in store for the reader right up until the end. I love learning about history through this novel. It gave me a deep understanding of Roman culture and helped me get into the mind set of early believers.

I cared for David and Alethea and their unique situation. Sandi pens a vivid, heart wrenching story filled with great pain, loss, hope, second chances, honest emotions, forgiveness, and sacrificial love. These characters and their stories will be on your mind and in your heart long after you finish the last page. I highly recommend this historical fiction novel. I’m looking forward to reading the second book in the Iron and the Stone series. You will too!

Reviewed by: Nora St Laurent.
The Book Club Network

NOTE: The first week of November, Sandi was diagnosed with Type A lymphoma --a very aggressive cancer that was manifesting on her brain. For every copy of The Master's Wall that is purchased, either paperback or Kindle, her publisher will donate a dollar to the fund to help her family with the medical bills. To order Sandi’s book click this link

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Kristin Billerbeck's Perfectly Dateless ~ Reviewed

Perfectly Dateless: A Universally Misunderstood Novel
Kristin Billerbeck
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 259 pages
Publisher: Revell; 1 edition (July 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0800734394


Daisy Crispin has 242 days to find the right date for the prom. There's only one problem--her parents won't let her date or even talk to a guy on the phone. Oh, and she's totally invisible at school, has to wear lame homemade clothes, and has no social skills. Okay, so maybe there's more than one problem. Can she talk her parents into letting her go to the prom? Or will they succeed at their obvious attempt to completely ruin her life?

Review :

First up, I don't usually read YA fiction but I've always enjoyed Kristin's books and was keen to see how she turned her hand to the teenage set.

Perfectly Dateless is a great read, witty, entertaining and ultimately thought provoking, challenging young readers to look beyond the superficial in their clothing as well as their relationships. Daisy it a likable young girl with Christian parents who keep a firm hand on her activities, dress and future choices. Kristin draws out both the positive and negative impact this kind of parenting has on Daisy. The climax of the story turns the book from being a lighthearted, quirky read into something more meaningful and challenging. I'm looking forward to where Kristin takes this series.

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Bonus Review:

I've read and reviewed some of Kristin Billerbeck's adult novels in the recent past and have thoroughly enjoyed them; this one pretty good, but it is more geared towards a high school audience. Written as a cross between Daisy's "Prom Diary" and her direct perspective on situations gave me a lot of insight as to what she did and said and what she was really thinking and feeling. The book's focus starting out as prom and popularity did come off as a bit shallow, but the moral of the book at the end made up for that and the format made the book more realistic (in a 'normal' teens world) on the whole. Be prepared to laugh a lot as you read this book! (again, recommended for those in highschool for best effect.)

Reviewed by: Rachael Schnitker

Monday, November 15, 2010

Lisa Mangum's The Golden Spiral ~ Reviewed

The Golden Spiral
By Lisa Mangum
Shadow Mountain 2010

Review by Michelle Griep

His eyes. His touch. His kiss. Now Dante's gone and Abby will do anything to get him back.

The hourglass door has closed behind Dante, sending him back in time to hunt down Zo, Tony, and V. Abby knows that Dante, as a Master of Time, is the only one who can stop them from destroying time itself. She also knows that he will need her help. But almost immediately, things start to change, and Abby's worst fears are realized when Zo begins targeting her past specifically.

The bank is eroding. The barriers are thinning. And time is running out.

All right. True confession time. I read the last page of this book before I started the story. Stop your groaning. If you read the first installment of this trilogy - The Hourglass Door - then you'll totally understand my need to know if Dante and Abby end up together or not. So...do they? Unh-unh, not telling. You'll have to read The Golden Spiral to find out.

All that to say that The Golden Spiral is an absolute must read. Yes, the love story between Dante and Abby manages to deepen. Sure, the action is non-stop. And of course there are more mind-bending time travel concepts to consider. But what amazed me most is the stunning writing that author Lisa Mangum cranks out for her sophomore novel.

Frequently the second book in a series turns into a yawner. An author has a truckload of time to put into a debut novel but the second is usually written under a deadline. That can make for mediocre writing. Not so for Mangum. Snappy turns of phrases. Depth of emotion. A plot that twists more than the river of time. Mangum pulls off all this and more.

My only grump is that now I have to wait until Summer 2011 for the third and final installment in The Hourglass Trilogy. When it finally hits the market, I will be the customer with my face mashed against the bookstore door waiting for it to open. And if you read The Golden Spiral, as I highly recommend, I'm sure I'll see you there too.

Just don't get in my way.

Bonus Review:

Abby finds her life in turmoil and that a malevolent master of time is out to cause her more sorrow. Will Abby have the strength and wits to reorder her life, help her friend, and free Dante from a prison of darkness?

The first two-thirds of the book are Dante-lite, but the last third douses the reader with romantic interludes. Though still sweetly innocent, I found myself getting annoyed with the gazing and kissing and touching and the references to eyes, hair etc. However, the storyline crackles with intensity and the pages flew despite a hurry-up but slightly sloggy section during the resolution and set-up for book three.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Friday, November 12, 2010

Karen Witemeyer's Head in the Clouds ~ Reviewed

By Karen Witemeyer
Published: Bethany House
ISBN# 978-0-7642-0756-3
366 Pages

Book Cover:

Adelaide Proctor is a young woman with her head in the clouds, longing for a real-life storybook hero to claim as her own. But when a husband-hunting debacle leaves her humiliated, she interviews for a staid governess position on a central Texas sheep ranch and vows to leave her romantic yearnings behind. When Gideon Westcott left his privileged life in England to make a name for himself in America's wool industry, he never expected to become a father overnight. And five-year-old Isabella hasn't uttered a word since she lost her mother. The unconventionality of the new governess concerns Gideon--and intrigues him at the same time. But he can't afford distractions. He has a ranch to run, a shearing to oversee, and a suspicious fence-cutting to investigate. When Isabella's uncle comes to claim the child--and her inheritance--Gideon and Adelaide must work together to protect Isabella from the man's evil schemes. And soon neither can deny their growing attraction. But after so many heartbreaks, will Adelaide be willing to get her head out of the clouds and put her heart on the line?


I was drawn to this book by the cover; it looked fun. It’s of a gal from Texas reading a book and twirling her hair. I anticipated the review copy because I wanted to know who this woman in yellow was on the front.. I also hadn’t read anything by Karen Witemeyer. I had heard good things about her. I couldn't wait to read Head in the Clouds and find out for myself.

I was pleasantly surprised by what I found inside the pages of this novel. From the cover, I imagined this to be about a girl who was an avid reader and day-dreamed so much she kept her Head in the Clouds. You can tell she is not paying attention as she takes the next step, because she’s about to fall of the front porch. WOW, was I wrong about this book!! Adelaide Proctor was a dreamer of sorts, she’s a smart girl, someone who could hold her own, I was right about being an avid reader. Adelaide wasn’t afraid to speak what was on her mind. She had dreamed of having a family someday, but she wouldn’t waste her life waiting for a knight in shining armor to arrive and sweep her away. She had talents and thoughts of her own. No man was going to push her around.

Gideon Westcott was making a new life in America after leaving his privileged up bringing in England. He was thankful for his fresh start and the young girl that made the little things in life so valuable. Isabella was five-years-old and had captured his heart. He was in search of a governess to help educate his little one. He ran an ad for so long time and still hadn’t met a single suitable governess.

I was captivated by Adelaide’s spunk, determination and willingness to earnestly seek God’s will for her life. She was a strong woman who could be tender and sensitive. I immediately adored Gideon Westcott and his determination to do the right thing, the zest he had for life and the tenderness he had towards Bella. He wanted the best for her and the people that worked for him, too.

Karen Witmeyer's debut book was Taylor-Made Bride. I’ll have to check that one out for sure, since I enjoyed Head in the Clouds so much. I’m thrilled to find another author that is witty, interesting, funny and creates characters I instantly care about. This is an author to watch. I know that I will be!

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent

The Book Club Network

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Laura Frantz's Courting Morrow Little ~ Reviewed

Courting Morrow Little
Laura Frantz
Paperback: 362 pages
Publisher: Revell (July 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0800733401


Morrow Little is haunted by the memory of the day her family was torn apart by raiding Shawnee warriors. Now that she is nearly a grown woman and her father is ailing, she must make difficult choices about the future. Several men--ranging from the undesired to the unthinkable--vie for her attentions, but she finds herself inexplicably drawn to a forbidden love that both terrifies and intrigues her.

Can she betray the memory of her lost loved ones--and garner suspicion from her friends--by pursuing a life with him? Or should she seal her own misery by marrying a man she doesn't love?


Courting Morrow Little is not just a story to be read but it is an experience to cherish. Laura Frantz writes with an inherent beauty that graces every literary aspect of her story, from exquisite prose and intricate characterization to meticulous historical detail and striking emotional connections, this book sets the standard in historical faith fiction. Morrow's torment, Red Shirt's devotion and the town's derision are tangible emotions that will echo in your heart as a result of Laura's authentic and evocative language. Labeling this novel a romance does not do justice to this spiritually uplifting, emotionally complex and fascinating tale - Courting Morrow Little is a love story of the highest caliber and should be savored again and again.

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Bonus Review:

Set in 1778 on the Kentucky frontier, this book provides a sweeping tale of love and forgiveness. What an incredible read. This novel covered so many avenues of adventure and emotion. Not to even mention that the cover is gorgeous. With essences that remind me of the TNT miniseries Into the West and bits and pieces making me envision the love between Red Shirt and Morrow and that of Sully and Michaela. The first half of the book I read with hardly a stop, then with the necessities of baby and sleeping I had to wait to get back into the rest. But they were pages that I hated to be parted from.

Definitely Laura Frantz is on my keeper shelf and on my list for future reads. There was so much in this book, but it was not too much. The emotions are raw and so real. At times it was more than I wanted to handle on the difficulties between colonials and the native tribes of the land, but it was real and valuable to read. I look forward to more from Laura.

*Thanks to Revell Books for providing a copy for review.*

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Christian Historical Fiction @ Creative Madness Mama Community
A gathering place for readers, authors and lovers of Christian Historical Fiction to discuss what is the latest and upcoming as well as our never ending To-Be-Read piles…

Bonus Review:

Review by Michelle Griep

As a rule, I generally don’t read early Americana. Little House on the Prairie was way more than enough for me. Fate smiled wickedly upon me when this book surfaced on my to-be-reviewed pile. I cracked it open with a bad attitude and slogged through the first fifty pages or so, and then—miracle of miracles—I got sucked in. Deep down into the swirling vortex of Laura Franz’s sweet storyweaving skills. I read with anticipation and, dare I say it, gusto.

Once I got past the hero’s ridiculous name, Red Shirt, and looked beyond to his character content, I was completely and totally lost. Ooh-la-la. This is one stalwart, trustworthy, jaw-dropping and in-depth fella.

Contrast that with heroine Morrow Little. For the first half of the book I pretty much wanted to slap her. She is a hardened-of-heart woman that annoyed me to no end, but wow. Did she ever transform into a character worthy of admiration.
Hmm. By now you’re probably wondering what kind of back-handed review you’re reading. Here’s the low-down…Courting Morrow Little is a heart-wrenching, often surprising, and adventurous tale that recounts a bloody period in America’s history, and accomplishes this with finesse.

I rarely keep books that I read, only the very special ones that I intend to re-read, and guess what…this one’s going on my shelf. Go get a copy for yours.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Janice Hanna Thompson's Love Me Tender ~ Reviewed

Love Me Tender
by Janice Hanna Thompson
Summerside Press (September 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1609360176


As "Love Me Tender" plays in the background, Debbie Carmichael determines to salvage her family's restaurant, Sweet Sal's Soda Shoppe, when her father's health fails. Teen heartthrob Bobby Conrad agrees to perform at a fundraiser concert. But just two weeks before the highly publicized event, Bobby backs out of the benefit. Enter Johnny Hartman, a young, unknown singer to take Conrad's place.

Debbie soon realizes the twists and turns leading up to the concert are divinely orchestrated. And it isn't dreamy Bobby Conrad who has stolen her heart - but the tender love of Johnny Hartman.


I decided to read a few pages to get the feel of this one since I am so behind on several books. But I'm stuck in the story, I cannot put it down! Chapters are flying by and the characters are such a dream. I can hear the music and giggles and cannot wait to hear more. Each chapter begins with a clip from the Heartthrob that really sets the beat and draws an image. Janice is doing it again, winning me as a 100% fan.

What I love about Janice's books that no other author does is have more than one couple fall perfectly in love. It's just blissful. :)

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

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Bonus Review:

Get ready for a journey of nostalgia, complete with bebop, poodle skirts, and surfers, as Hanna dishes up a delightful story set in the 1957. I love the way each chapter starts out with a news article from a teen magazine, with columnists like Cinema Cindy and Hepcat Harry. Hanna stays true to the era and delivers a rollicking good love story set to the beat of rock 'n' roll. Novel Journey and I highly recommend it.

Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan, editor

Novel Journey

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Jody Hedlund's The Preacher's Bride ~ Reviewed

The Preacher’s Bride
By Jody Hedlund
Bethany House Publishers

Review by Michelle Griep

No matter the sacrifice, Elizabeth Whitbread would serve a wounded family. No matter the danger, John Costin was determined to speak God’s word. Neither expected to fall in love. As enemies threaten to silence Costin—and those close to him—will following their hearts cost John and Elizabeth everything?

Read this debut novel by Jody Hedlund and you’ll find out. And a smashing debut it is. Heart wrenching at times, anger provoking at others, this is one read that connects with readers on many different levels.

I especially liked how Hedlund portrayed the harsh realities of seventeenth century life in rural England. She didn’t glam over but met head on tough topics such as infant mortality, death in childbearing and the very real threat of starvation.
Furthermore, she didn’t squirm from tackling difficult theological questions. Does suffering mean God’s not blessing you? What should take priority: ministry or family? There are no easy answers in real life nor in this story.

The complexity of the hero and heroine’s relationship was great. Not just a simple boy meets girl and instantly falls in love, winning said girl. In fact, sometimes I wondered if they’d actually get together.

All in all, this book is a thumbs up, especially for historical lovers.

Bonus Review:

The Preacher's Bride is a stunning novel of emotional depth, historical detail and overarching hope, its excellence belying its status as author Jody Hedlund's debut novel. Based on the life of evangelist John Bunyan and his faithful wife, Elizabeth, Jody has brought to life a close knit Puritan community, complex and inspiring characters and a story of danger, hope and love. Beautifully rendered, John and Elizabeth's rocky introduction slowly develops into dependency and a burgeoning love that surprises them both. Underlying the love story is the difficult and fascinating history of the Anglican church's battle against the Puritans and their lay preachers. An eye opening story of enduring love and unbending faith, The Preacher's Bride is a keeper and will appeal to readers of Laura Frantz and Liz Curtis Higgs. Jody Hedlund is a brilliant new author whose writing journey I will follow with enthusiasm!

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Monday, November 08, 2010

Kathi Macias's Red Ink ~ Reviewed

By Kathi Macias
Published by New Hope Publishers
ISBN# 9781596892794
315 Pages

Back Cover:

A young Chinese woman, Zhen-Li—raised to observe the party line, including its one-child-per-family doctrine—falls in love with and marries a Christian, and adopts his faith. Though the couple downplays their Christianity in an effort to survive, Zhen-Li’s family is appalled, and she and her husband are ostracized.

It is then Zhen-Li decides she must live up to her name—"Truth"—and take a firm stand for her faith, regardless of the consequences, and so she begins to regularly teach children about Zhu Yesu ("Lord Jesus")

Based loosely on the life of Christian magazine editor Li Ying, currently serving a ten-year prison sentence in China, the story of Yang Zhen-Li tells the desperate tale of her incarceration and separation from her family, as she continues to minister to other prisoners, and even to her guards.


I anxiously awaited the review copy of this intriguing third book in the Extreme Devotion series by Kathi Macias. The realism and hope are the two things I really enjoyed in this book and continue to be encouraged by this series. God says in his word that if we trust in him, He can do far more than we could even imagine. The bible is full of stories like that. The Lord is alive today and doing things in the lives of His people that don’t seem possible; not in this day and age. All things are possible if we put our trust in God.

Zhen-Li’s a woman who put her complete trust in God when everything said that it was a crazy thing to do. But her heart kept telling her mind it was the right and the only thing she could do. She prayed for strength.

Not only does Kathi go into the rough conditions in China and their prisons, but Kathi Macias describes a different prison young girls find themselves in if they are not careful here in America. Sex trafficking is very real and a multi-million dollar business here in the USA and abroad.

Maggie is a young rebellious girl set on not graduating high school, but running off with Jake, a handsome guy she’s fallen for. He promises to take her away from all of her troubles. It will be just the two of them forever.

Maggie has a grandmother in River Valley nursing home. Maggie’s hit up her unsuspecting grandmother to help support her drug habit. Her grandmother has issues of her own, but feels for her disturbed granddaughter. What has come of her and why?

It’s encouraging to see how the Lord lays people on your heart to pray for that you don’t even know. Kathi does a great job of portraying people that are willing to get out of their comfort zone and do what the Lord lays on their hearts, whether they feel up to it or not. When the Lord wakes Julie up in the middle of the night to pray for a women she’s never met in China, she is faithful to do it. Then the Lord lays on her heart to pray for Maggie, Margaret’s granddaughter, who she knows at the nursing home. Julie says to God, “If You don’t stop keeping me up praying all night, Lord, I’m going to drop dead from exhaustion.” She had to laugh. “I’m sorry, Father. Forgive me my impatience, please. It’s a privilege to pray for all these needs, but I must admit that I do get a bit tired at times.”

I enjoyed this story of extreme devotion. It reminded me of bible stories I’d read about Paul’s trials and God miraculously intervening on Paul’s behalf. Those and the stories in this book are amazing stories of faith, courage and devotion. I can’t wait to read the last book in this series called People of the Book, out early 2011.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network

Friday, November 05, 2010

Cindy Woodsmall's The Bridge of Peace ~ Reviewed

By Cindy Woodsmall
Published by Water Brook
342 Pages

Back Cover:

Lena Kauffman is a young Old Order Amish schoolteacher who has dealt all her life with attention raised by a noticeable birthmark on her cheek. Having learned to move past the stares and whispers, Lena channels her zest for living into her love of teaching. But tensions mount as she is challenged to work with a rebellious young man and deal with several crises at the schoolhouse that threaten her other students. Her lack of submission and use of ideas that don’t line up with the Old Ways strengthen the school board’s case as they begin to believe that Lena is behind all the trouble.

One member of the school board, Grey Graber, feels trapped by his own stifling circumstances. His wife, Elsie, has shut him out of her life, and he doesn’t know how long he can continue to live as if nothing is wrong. As the two finally come to a place of working toward a better marriage, tragedy befalls their family.

Lena and Grey have been life-long friends, but their relationship begins to crumble amidst unsettling deceptions, propelling each of them to finally face their own secrets. Can they both find a way past their losses and discover the strength to build a new bridge?


I was excited to receive a review copy of this book which is the sequel to The Hope of Refuge. This book continues the story line of Cara and Ephraim. Cara is a woman who was raised outside the Amish Community and returned to discover her family heritage. In the mean time she met Ephraim and fell in love. Ephraim is willing to wait for Cara to learn the Old Order Amish ways and join the church in order for them to wed. What I liked most about Cara was her passion to do the right thing as the same time be true to herself. She slipped up every now and then or discovers a new rule she knew nothing about. The elders would always seem to find out. Like when she brought a bike for her daughter to enjoy. “What’s so wrong with a bike?”

Ephraim explained, “It’s one of those old rules we’ve stuck by. They’re a bit flashy, and they allow a person to travel a lot longer distances than a foot scooter…I never said that I agree with all the Ordnung. I just trust that for the most part the regulations are needed to protect our ways and help us stay close and accountable.”

I enjoyed Cara and Ephraim’s courtship and the journey Cara and her daughter were on to learn and make the Amish ways their ways.

Lena Kauffman is new to this series. She is a young old order Amish schoolteacher, who has a passion to teach despite the many challenges she faced in doing her job and life in general because of the noticeable birthmark on her face. Lena is asked by Elsie and Grey Gaber to evaluate their son. Elsie thinks he’s slow and Grey disagrees. Lena aggresses to test the boy and tells them, “We all have a handicap and every one of us had to figure out how to get work done.” This didn’t mean their boy was slow. I liked Lena’s out look on life and how creative she was in teaching.

Deborah and Ada are in the story line in a big way. It was fun to read about how creative they were in running their business. Deborah surprised me as I learned how she liked pulling pranks on others. It was funny to think of the Amish women pulling pranks on one another. It cracked me up.

Cindy Woodsmall shows not everyone happy and/or life isn’t always simple in this Amish community. It was interesting to read how Grey and Elsie dealt with their marital struggles. It found it fascinating and funny to watch Cara and her daughter learn the Amish ways and yet struggle with what they loved in their old life. I was also surprised by Lena and enjoyed her zest for teaching and life. Everyone in the community couldn’t get over what she did on her rumspringa. I was surprised too. Lena not only had a passion to teach but she had a heart to help her community. Once again this author writes a heart felt story in the Amish community with several twists and turns, novel that is about patience, love, joy, hate, forgiveness and suspense. The conclusion of this series comes out in the fall of 2011. I look forward to reading it and you will too!

Reviewed by: Nora St. Laurent

The Book Club Network

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Trish Perry's The Perfect Blend ~ Reviewed

The Perfect Blend
By Trish Perry
Published by Harvest House
ISBN 978-0-7369-3015-4

Steph Vandergrift is in desperate need of a hug. She abruptly left everything—her parents, her job, her apartment, her hometown of Baltimore—to elope with Middleburg attorney Rick Manfred, never imagining he would stand her up at the altar. Now, all alone in a strange town and hoping just to get by until she can decide what to do next, Steph thinks she's found the perfect solution at Millicent's Tea Shop. Milly offers Steph the job along with a warm pot of tea, scones, and a listening ear.

Kendall James, one of the kindest and most eligible bachelors in the area, meets Steph at the tea shop and proceeds to pursue her But by the time she feels able to consider dating again, her runaway fiancé returns and tries to win her back. Steph is understandably wary, but she and Rick always seemed to blend so well. Are they truly meant to be together, or does God have something else in mind?

My thoughts:

The Perfect Blend is the perfect read: it's fun, with a goodly dash of humor; it's romantic, with two handsome men vying for Steph; it's got some interesting twists, with an old girlfriend, parents who don't know when to let go, and a few other odd characters. And characters is where Trish Perry shows her artistry, she's a master at them and offers so much more than just romance in her books. Novel Journey and I give The Perfect Blend a perfect 5 stars. A delightful must read and a perfect Christmas gift.

Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan, editor
Novel Journey

Bonus Review:

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! “The Perfect Blend” is to be the first in “The Teashop Series” and I certainly can’t wait for the next one. This coming of age story is very believable yet still fresh and vibrant. Reading of Steph’s seemingly hopeless circumstances and how she leans on God and asks for His will in her life is such an encouragement to me! This Christian romance novel with a spot of humor speaks volumes about the everyday happenings of life. I highly recommend that you find a copy of this book, a pot of tea and prepare to laugh, cry, and thoroughly enjoy it!

Reviewed by: Rachael Schnitker

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Bill Myers's The God Hater ~ Reviewed

The God Hater, A Novel
By: Bill Myers
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 320
Vendor: Howard Books
Publication Date: 2010

Product Description
When atheistic professor Nicholas MacKenzie is asked to create a virtual world, he jumps at the chance. But every computer model he initiates---Darwinism, Existentialism, Relativism, and Buddhism---fails. Finally, he introduces a Law Giver---but attracts a nasty virus. Can he save his creation without personally absorbing the virus? A powerful allegory!


The God Hater paints a picture within a picture and spins a fascinating story.

Professor Nicholas MacKenzie, a famously arrogant atheist, finds himself sucked into a cyberworld drama by his techie brother, Travis.

Travis has discovered the secret to Artificial Intelligence and cut throat spies will do what it takes to steal that secret. And there is another problem in Travis's newly created world. Seems the people have a tendency to kill each other off. Nicholas is the only one with the philosophical expertise to provide the missing piece of the puzzle. Surely, his knowledge will give the programmers the key to the human psyche.

Reality, created and otherwise, do not follow carefully crafted plans and Nicholas finds his whole world and belief system twisting and turning madly as he tries to keep the computer world alive and flourishing.

This is a whip-fast read and one that is both enlightening and challenging. There are a couple of rough patches that paused the pace a bit, but overall this is a keeper. Fascinating look at the human mind, spirituality and faith.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

April Gardner's Wounded Spirits ~ Reviewed

Wounded Spirits
by April Gardner
Published by Vinspire Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-9819896-4-8
316 pages

Back Cover:

On the frontier, Adela McGirth’s life is simple, rugged, and exactly to her liking. Her greatest concern is whether to marry the settlement’s most eligible young officer. When a distant war among the Natives spills over into a nearby skirmish, life takes a perilous turn. Deep in enemy territory Adela must choose between the man she loves and a baby that has yet to be born; will she be strong enough to wait on God's provision?

A peace-loving yet loyal Creek warrior, Totka is forced to align with the extremist Red Stick faction whose purpose is to eradicate the Whites from Creek soil. In the midst of battle, Totka is assigned to protect those he is expected to hate--and kill. Life was simpler before his enemy became a beautiful face with a quiet strength and dignity he cannot resist.

Having lived a life plagued with death and loss, Zachariah McGirth is a man on a mission - he'll have his revenge or die trying. Blinded by grief, he can't see his way clear of yet another tragedy. Why has God taken everything from him...or has He?

Their lives molded by the course of history, can these Wounded Spirits learn to rely on God's grace during one of the bloodiest conflicts in the South?


April Gardner’s debut album is a well-crafted, emotionally engaging romance that immersed me in two very different, yet painfully intertwined cultures—that of the burgeoning settler and the dwindling Native American warrior. Intrigue, and perhaps even a hint of scandal, sprinkled across the first page, plunged me instantly into the story. In chapter one, we meet the young, studious Adela, a woman bound by a deep sense of honor and loyalty, yet smitten by a forbidden love—in a hesitant, uncertain sort of way. She tells herself that it is loyalty to her sister that keeps her from falling into Philip’s arms, but deep in her heart, doubts arise. Does she really love this man, or is she merely attracted to his good looks? And are his strong, at times overly assertive, advances, signs of love or domination?

This romance is further complicated by intense feelings of guilt. Her older sister, Elizabeth loves Philip and is determined to become his wife. Obviously, Philip doesn’t return her sentiments. And he’s really not concerned about how Elizabeth will feel when she finds out he’s been secretly pining for her younger sister. Adela, however, is very concerned. Elizabeth is a strong-willed woman, accustomed to getting her way. Adela has always been more than willing to let her sister have it, until now. But is Philip worth hurting her sister and perhaps even breaking their ailing mother’s heart?

Adela is terrified by the proposition and would prefer to let things lie until a final decision has been made, but things unravel, exposing her and Philip’s romance. For the first time in her young life, Adela is forced to speak her mind. Will her family understand, or will they grow to hate her? And what of her ailing mom, who appears to be growing sicker day by day? How will Adela’s news, and the possibility of sibling rivalry, affect her mother?

April Gardner did a wonderful job of creating numerous very unique and believable characters. Initially I was concerned that I would have trouble relating to the Native American viewpoints as I had minimal experience to draw from, but April did such a great job of developing each character presented and their environment, I experienced each scene effortlessly without pause of distraction.

What impressed me most was April’s creative, yet appropriate use of language. The euphemisms and similes used fit both time period and culture with which they were used, not just once, but again and again. Details were used sparingly and effectively, with just enough to plunge us into the scene without taking us on a long, story-deflecting stroll. Emotions were real and I easily related to all characters. Somehow April brought out the humanity in even the most irrational or hated characters, pulling me to them with almost as much force as the plot propelled me from them.

Overall, a very pleasant read with a great storyline and brilliant presentation. I look forward to reading Ms. Gardner’s future work.

Reviewed by: Jennifer Slattery

Monday, November 01, 2010

ACFW's November Book Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW website.

1. A Daughter for Christmas; Helping Hands Homeschooling Series by Margaret Daley -- A Romance from Steeple Hill. Can Dr. Max Connors make his dream of a family come true when he must tell the widowed mother of the daughter he never knew he had who he really is?

2. A Suitor for Jenny; Rocky Creek #2 by Margaret Brownley -- A Historical from Thomas Nelson. Jenny Higgins is determined to find husband for her two younger sisters and nothing, not even a handsome marshal, will stand in her way.

3. Behind the Scenes; Tabor Heights, Ohio Series by Michelle Levigne -- A Romance from Desert Breeze. Surrounded by crises, best friends transition to life partners, to their own surprise and the amusement of those who love them most.

4. Betrayal in the Badlands by Dana Mentink -- A Suspense/Mystery/Thriller from Steeple Hill. Isabel Ling and Logan Price must battle an enemy more deadly than the mighty Badlands.

5. In All Things, Sequel to “No Other” by Shawna K. Williams -- A Historical from Desert Breeze. Jakob and Meri never imagined that the tragedies of their past would one day be transformed into something wondrous and beautiful.

6. Lassoed in Texas by Mary Connealy -- A Romance from Barbour. A three-in-one of romantic comedy with cowboys.

7. Long Time Coming by Vanessa Miller -- Women's Fiction from Abingdon. Two women from different worlds find hope together in this heart gripping story of faith, forgiveness and reconciliation.

8. Mail Order Cowboy; Simpson Creek Brides by Laurie Kingery -- A Historical from Steeple Hill. A small-town Texas spinster finds love with an unlikely mail order groom.

9. Masquerade Marriage by Anne Greene -- A Historical from White Rose. When Lady Megan MacMurry chooses a husband from a secret list, she opens her broken heart to a Highland warrior's fight for life.

10. Soaring Home by Christine Johnson -- A Romance from Steeple Hill. A small-town girl plans to be the first woman to fly across the Atlantic.

11. Tales of the Dim Knight by Adam Graham and Andrea Graham -- A Sci-fi/Fantasy/Futuristic from Splashdown Books. Mild-mannered janitor and superhero fanboy Dave Johnson gets all his wishes at once when an alien symbiot gives him supernatural powers.

12. The Blacksmith's Bravery; #3, Ladies' Shooting Club

by Susan Page Davis -- A Historical from Barbour. A former saloon girl proves she can drive a six-horse hitch--and drive her boss crazy.

13. The Silent Order by Melanie Dobson -- A Historical from Summerside Press. A Cleveland detective pursues the Mafia family responsible for murdering the woman he loved until he meets an Amish woman with a secret that changes his life.