Thursday, March 31, 2011

Kristin Billerbeck's A Billion Reasons Why ~ Reviewed

A Billion Reasons Why [Paperback]
Kristin Billerbeck
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson; 1 edition (February 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9781595547910


Katie McKenna has never loved any man but one: billionaire Luc DeForges. He was her first love. But there are a billion reasons why she's engaged instead to Dexter Hastings, a solid and stable man who wants the same things she does: marriage and a family but all of the things that she wants without the deep-seeded pain and fear of being abandoned that Luc brings.

Dexter and she have worked an arrangement that's akin to faith without action, love without deeds -- a dead faith. Going home to New Orleans to sing for her childhood friend's wedding, Katie must search her heart to find out if any of her reasons for being with Dexter are stronger than love. Only when Katie steps fully into faith and jumps off the cliff of life into the arms of Luc does she understand the fullness of God's grace.


I have long been a fan of Kristin Billerbeck's novels and have been ever so keen to read her long awaited romance, A Billion Reasons Why. Katie's efforts to expunge humiliation and embarrassment from her life by settling for a staid and controlled man have drained much of her vibrant personality away until Luc DeForges once again stirs up emotions she finds difficult to control, which leads to plenty of fun and awkwardness for everyone. Determined mothers, feisty friends, steamy New Orleans and swing dancing add substance and soul to sparks that fly between Katie and Luc. Replete with Kristin's sharp wit, multi faceted characters and significant revelations about the true nature of love, this story is a terrific read that will entertain and delight.

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Bonus Review:

There are about "a billion reasons why" I love this book :) 1. Swing dancing! (lots of it; that's amazing writing when you can convey legit swing dancing without any visuals), 2. Gorgeous dresses (think Ginger Rogers...), 3. True friends (you know, the kind who supply your endless need for ice cream when your heart is breaking...and then become your workout buddies in the aftermath), 4. Gentlemen who are men and treat ladies as ladies (i.e. opening doors on buildings and vehicles, standing up when she leaves and returns to the table, bringing flowers and genuine compliments, saying what you mean even if it's difficult, etc), 5. Redemption of the heart and soul, of faith and friendship, of relationships and romance........Oh, and to figure out the other 999,999,995 reasons I HIGHLY recommend that you read this enchanting book!

Reviewed by: Rachael Schnitker

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mary Ellis's Abigail's New Hope ~ Reviewed

Abigail's New Hope, Wayne County Series #1
By: Mary Ellis
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 352
Vendor: Harvest House Publishers
Publication Date: 2011
ISBN: 0736930094


Amish midwife Abigail Graber loves bringing babies into the world. But when a difficult delivery takes a devastating turn, Abigail is faced with some of the hardest choices she has ever had to make. Despite all her efforts, the young mother dies-but the baby is saved.

When a heartless judge confines Abigail to the county jail, her younger sister, Catherine, comes to care for the home while Daniel works his fields. Catherine meets Daniel's reclusive cousin, Isaiah, who's deaf and thought to be simple-minded by his community. She teaches him how to communicates with his fellow man, and in so doing, discovers he possesses unexpected gifts and talents. Catherine makes a difference in all their lives and in return, finds love, while Isaiah discovers God, who cares not for our handicaps or limitations.


Abigail’s New Hope is about an Amish Midwife named Abigail. She gets called to deliver the baby of Nathan and Ruth Fisher, but tragically, Ruth dies. Abigail ends up in jail because she administered a drug to stop Ruth’s bleeding, and she wasn’t licensed to give it. In the meantime, Abigail’s sister, Catherine, moves in to take care of Abigail’s children, and meets and falls in love with a man named Isaiah.

As always, I enjoy reading about the Amish lifestyle. This book really showed how much they value their family and community, and how they are willing to stick together through thick and thin.

Reviewed by: Laura Porter

Bonus Review: 

Abigail’s New Hope is about an Amish woman named Abigail who is a midwife in her community.  When she is called one night to help in the delivery of a baby who’s family is new to the area, her life is changed forever.  The family refuses to call an ambulance, and Abigail is forced to deliver the baby without a doctor present.  When the mother’s life is lost, Abigail is face with difficult choices and charges aimed against her.  In the meantime, her sister, Catherine, comes to stay, and begins to fall in love with Abigail’s brother-in-law, Isaiah, who is deaf and has kept to himself most of his life.

I really enjoyed this book.  Abigail’s story and journey is encouraging, especially watching how she draws her hope and strength in the Word.  And Catherine’s journey is fun to watch as well.  Little did she suspect that she would find love when coming to help care for her niece and nephew.  I’m looking forward to following the family’s story in the next book.

Reviewed by: Sarah Porter

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ginger Garrett's Wolves Among Us ~ Reviewed

Wolves Among Us: A Novel (Chronicles of the Scribe) [Paperback]
Ginger Garrett
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (April 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0781448859


This richly imagined tale takes readers to a tiny German town in the time of “the burnings,” when pious and heretic alike became victims of witch-hunting zealots. When a double murder stirs up festering fears, the village priest sends for help. But the charismatic Inquisitor who answers the call brings a deadly mix of spiritual fervor and self-deceptive evil. Under his influence, village fear, guilt, and suspicion of women take a deadly turn. In the midst of this nightmare, a doubting priest and an unloved wife—a secret friend of the recently martyred William Tyndale—somehow manage to hear another Voice…and discover the power of love over fear.

Dinfoil, Germany, 1538. In a little town on the edge of the Black Forest, a double murder stirs up festering fears. A lonely woman despairs of pleasing her husband and wonders why other women shun her. An overworked sheriff struggles to hold the town—and himself—together. A priest begins to doubt the power of the words he shares daily with his flock. And the charismatic Inquisitor who arrives to help—with a filthy witch in a cage as an object lesson—brings his own mix of lofty ideals and treacherous evil. Under his influence, ordinary village fears and resentments take a deadly turn. Terror mounts. Dark deeds come to light. And men and women alike discover not only what they are capable of, but who they are…and what it means to grapple for grace.


In a medieval German village, a double murder stirs up festering fears. The overworked sheriff is baffled, so the village priest sends for help to solve the mystery. But the charismatic Inquisitor who answers the call brings with him a deadly mix of spiritual fervor and self-deceptive evil. Under his influence, ordinary village fears and resentments take a deadly turn, and soon women are the targets of his crusade. Terror mounts. Dark secrets come to light. But in the midst of it all, a man and woman—the priest and the sheriff’s unloved wife—somehow dare to listen to another Voice…and discover what it means to love instead of fear.

Author Ginger Garrett pounds out another breathtaking, heart-pounding story that’ll leave you on the edge of your seat until the last page. And I won’t even mention the full range of emotions her writing invokes. Oops. Did I mention that?

Wolves Among Us is a historical piece of fiction…or is it? The setting and the culture is definitely middle ages but the characters, well, let’s just say even in contemporary times the average reader will relate to the wolfish spiritual predator she depicts. In fact, if her villain, the Inquisitor Bastion, were to pop through a time-machine door, I have no doubt he’d be a TV evangelist.

While at times I was a little angry with heroine Mia for being such a doormat, I think the true source of my rage was that I saw a lot of myself in her. She was a very real kind of gal with lots of ‘how come’ questions and ‘I must’ attitudes.

Wolves Among Us is a simultaneous peek into a bygone era and present-day Anytown—a tough feat to accomplish but skillfully pulled-off by Garrett.

Can’t wait to see what she does next.

Reviewed by: Michelle Griep

Monday, March 28, 2011

Liz Johnson's Code of Justice ~ Reviewed

Code of Justice
Liz Johnson
Paperback, Inspirational Romantic Suspense
218 pages
Publisher: Harlequin, March 2011
ISBN-13: 978-0-373-44434-2

Back Cover Description:

"Follow the drugs." Her sister's last words shake FBI agent Heather Sloan to the core. They also convince her that the helicopter crash only Heather survived wasn't an accident. Sheriff's deputy Jeremy Latham is assigned to the case-he's the one who can help Heather find the person responsible...once she convinces him they should work together. As they dig for the truth, they learn to trust and care for each other. Will they lose it all when the killer targets Heather? She's willing to risk her life to find her sister's killer-but her code of justice could cost her the chance to win Jeremy's love.


If you enjoy mystery, action, and romance and need an afternoon's diversion, then this may be the book for you. Short, poignant, and direct-this book follows Heather and Jeremy as they attempt to solve the mystery of the helicopter crash that killed Heather's sister, Kit, all in the name of justice...but could that possibly be bordering on revenge? With just enough prayer and mention of God to classify it as a Christian book, I feel it could have gone a bit more in depth on a few different levels (more detail in the story itself and in spiritual aspects). But overall, a good read-especially if you need a fast paced book to fill some time.

Reviewed by: Rachael Schnitker

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Kathi Macias's People of the Book ~ Reviewed

By Kathi Macias
Published by New Hope Publishers
320 Pages

Back Cover:

Will God protect and keep them safe in the midst of persecution?
Farah lives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with her family, and wants nothing more than to develop a deeper devotion to her Muslim faith. She sees the month of Ramadan as her chance to draw nearer to Allah, and pursues that goal. All goes well until the prophet Isa—Jesus—appears to her in a dream and calls her to Himself. Her brother, Kareem, who has never liked her, seeks to discredit her.

Farah’s cousin, an only child, frequents an online chat. She discovers former Muslims discussing their new belief that Isa is much more than a Muslim prophet—He is actually the Son of God. She becomes acquainted with an American girl of Muslim ancestry—now a devout Christian—Sara. Sara has problems of her own due to her brother Emir’s suspicious behavior.

Each finds their faith put to the test. Will they be true to their beliefs? Will God protect them, or will they pay the ultimate price for their faith?


Kathi Macias shows readers how God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things all over the world, in her extreme devotion series. This author quickly captures the reader's attention and shows God’s love in action through the hard times her characters face. Since I’d read all the books in this series, I was anxious to receive a review copy of the last installment, The People of the Book, which focuses on teenage girls in Saudi Arabia.

Sara and Nura are teenagers who develop a friendship through an on-line chat room. Sara is a Christian living in America and Nura is a Muslim girl living in Saudi Arabia. Sara prays, witnesses to Nura and tells her where to read the bible on-line.

This is a haunting tale of young people facing tough choices from one corner of the globe to the other. My heart strings ached as I read of the dangers these Saudi women faced just for thinking about reading the bible and talking about God. The challenges these young girls encountered, captivated my thoughts. I contemplated their hardship, danger and courage they faced in order to take a stand for Christ in their country.

This author reminds the reader that many people don’t have the religious freedoms we enjoy here in America. As I read, I was compelled to pray for people like Nura and Farah, who are facing prison sentences and/or death for serving the one true God. Kathi reminds the reader that God’s word is alive, and it can touch the human heart and mind in very unique and real ways. I was reminded that God can do far more than we can even imagine through prayer and reading the’s powerful!

Kathi has an extraordinary gift of telling a compelling story that comes alive in the heart and mind of the reader. The constant tension between the characters and the dangers they faced, made this a page turner for me. These characters came alive...the call on their lives was authentic and the battle for their hearts and their minds real. I felt compassion for these teens as they struggled with their faith, hope and courage to seek the face of the Savior. They were also overwhelmed by the unconditional love God wanted to give them. Kathi Macias once again has skillfully penned a believable, captivating; mission minded that will stay in your heart and your mind. I know you’ll find yourself sharing this story with your friends. I can’t stop thinking about this story and the characters. I highly recommend The People of the Book.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network
Finding Hope Through Fiction

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Shannon Taylor Vannatter's White Doves ~ Reviewed

White Doves
By Shannon Taylor Vannatter
Heartsong Presents
April 1, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-60260-995-2

Back Cover:

Romance wasn’t what Laken had in mind.

Laken Kroft left home eight years ago and never looked back. Who knew when she applied for the promotion to postmaster that she'd end up in Romance, Arkansas, and much too close to her parents, the town drunk and the local gossip maven?

Hayden Winters has his hands full raising his paraplegic nephew, Brady, and wrestling with his guilt over having caused the child's injury. When the boy's father, Laken's brother, turns up and starts talking custody, Laken's influence is Hayden's only hope. But whose side is she really on?

Will their mutual bond with their seven-year-old nephew draw them closer or rip them asunder? Will Laken accept Hayden “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” or be forced to turn her back on him and “Return to Sender”?


Shannon Taylor Vannatter’s contemporary romance, White Doves, is a beautiful story of love, hope and forgiveness. Laken must learn to forgive her mother and Hayden must learn to forgive himself. The story is set in a small, Arkansas community of horse-rides, picnics and community church functions. Everyone knows everyone it seems, which wouldn’t be a problem if it wasn’t for the painful memories swirled within the familiarity. What irritates Laken most is the hypocrisy displayed by her own parents. Her mother might attend church every Sunday, but that’s only so she has plenty of drama to feed to her gossip hungry friends, and her father is nothing more than a drunk. When Laken gets a temporary job near her childhood home, she determines to avoid her mother at all cost. Not an easy task when you work in the local post office, and as misfortune would have it, she comes face to face with her mother almost immediately.

And yet Romance isn’t all bad. Handsome Hayden Winters, a fellow post-office employee is intriguing…minus his “born-again-believer” status. Laken is frustrated by his religion, yet captivated by his GQ good looks and southern charm. Maybe she can deal with a dash of religion, so long as Haydon doesn’t try to shove it down her throat.

This novel was extremely well written. There were very few dialogue tags to pull you from the story, very little, if any, telling, and no obvious back-story lags. All pertinent information was seamlessly woven into the conversation and action and emotions were authentically displayed. She also did a great job of showing the angst Laken felt as God began to pull on her heart. Hayden’s personal transformation throughout the story was just as dynamic as that of the heroines and Shannon did a great job of adding depth to a shorter work. I look forward to reading more of Shannon’s work in the future.

Reviewed by: Jennifer Slattery

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ann Gabhart's Angel Sister ~ Reviewed

Angel Sister: A Novel [Paperback]
Ann H. Gabhart
Paperback: 407 pages
Publisher: Revell (February 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0800733819


It is 1936 and Kate Merritt, the middle child of Victor and Nadine, works hard to keep her family together. Her father slowly slips into alcoholism and his business suffers during the Great Depression. As her mother tries to come to grips with their situation and her sisters seem to remain blissfully oblivious to it, it is Kate who must shoulder the emotional load.

Who could imagine that a dirty, abandoned little girl named Lorena Birdsong would be just what the Merritts need?


Ann Gabhart captivated me with Angel Song, a penetrating and emotive tale of a family living through the Great Depression, struggling with addiction, religious piety and financial strain. Each character is skilfully drawn from young Kate, responsible and protective, to her father Victor, lost in nightmares and the temporary comfort of a bottle. The family's joys and misfortunes are slowly revealed through flashbacks and memories, in perfect harmony with present day happenings. A thread of suspense, an unusual hermit and a little girl called Lorena Birdsong, provide further substance to an already fascinating story. Ann's honest look at alcoholism, the abuse of power by a church leader and fatherhood is powerful and moving. Angel Sister is testament to Ann's exceptional skills as a writer and storyteller.

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Patti Lacy's The Rhythm of Secrets ~ Reviewed

The Rhythm of Secrets
By: Patti Lacy
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 320
Vendor: Kregel Publications
ISBN: 082542674X


Sheila Franklin has lived three separate lives. Now a conservative pastor's wife in Chicago, she is skilled at hiding secrets--a talent birthed during childhood romps through the music-filled streets of New Orleans. But when the son she bore at the age of eighteen comes back looking for answers and desperate for help, her greatest secret--and greatest regret--is revealed.


Patti Lacy ably tells the story of Sheba/Sheila/Sylvia in bits and pieces as the grown-up Sheila is contacted by a young soldier from her past. As she tells him her story and he shares his struggles, the interconnected story weaves through generations and across cultures and continents.

This is a high emotion and intensity novel covering themes like prostitution, marital struggles, and racism. Sensitive readers may want to think twice before diving in but those who like complex, woven stories may want to look further into the depth of these secrets.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer


The Rhythym of Secrets is certainly not your typical Christian novel! I look forward to reading more books by Patti Lacy. This book paints a beautiful picture of the redemption story and covers many difficult topics such as prostitution, unplanned pregnancy, underhanded 'business', commitment in marriage, and many other things often kept as dark secrets. It combines mystery and intrigue with romance, heartbreak, and true love. I especially enjoyed how Patti used different styles of music to serve as the 'soundtrack' for parts of Sheilas life, making the many transitions more coherent and smooth. I really can't describe it any really need to just read this book, you won't regret it.

Reviewed by: Rachael Schnitker

Monday, March 21, 2011

Rachel Hauck's Dining with Joy ~ Reviewed

Dining with Joy (A Lowcountry Romance) [Paperback]
Rachel Hauck
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (November 16, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595543392


Host of a regionally syndicated cooking show, Joy Ballard has a little secret: she can’t cook. But when her show is picked up by a major network and given a prime time slot, her world heats up faster than a lowcountry boil.

Enter Luke Redmond: handsome, creative, and jobless after having to declare bankruptcy of his Manhatten restaurant. When her producers ask him to co-host the show, Joy sees Luke as her way out. But Luke sees much more than just a co-host in Joy.

Their relationship begins to simmer on and off set. Until Joy’s secret is revealed and her reputation is ruined on national television by her rival, Wenda Devine.

But could Devine’s cruelty be a divine gift? Losing Luke--and her sister--forces Joy to consider where her worth really comes from. Could God be cooking up an even bigger adventure from the mess? And will Joy hang on long enough to find out?


Rachel Hauck always serves up a treat and Dining with Joy is a great addition to her literary menu! Joy finds herself trapped by the legacy of her late father, hosting his cooking show without any of the required skills. Her secret discovered by chef and failed restaurateur, Luke Redmond, the two combine skills to keep the show going until a rival host destroys their recipe for success. With unique characters, sparkling dialogue, complex relationships and a spiritual message to be savored, Dining with Joy is an engaging romance that is sure to please.

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Friday, March 18, 2011

Rob Stennett's Homemade Haunting ~ Reviewed

Homemade Haunting: A Novel [Paperback]
Rob Stennett
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (March 15, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310321921


Charlie Walker doesn't believe in God or the supernatural. But Charlie's views change when he takes the biggest risk of his life---he quits his job to write the novel he's always wanted to write. The problem is that Charlie is a method writer. Since he's writing horror, he needs to experience horror. Charlie begins to dabble with the supernatural and experiences the paranormal around his house. Messages appear on mirrors, furniture moves, and his kids start seeing things. Charlie is so lost in his book that he can't see how it's affecting his family. He thinks if he just stops, it will all wash away. It doesn't. Friends convince Charlie that his only choice is to find God to save his family and home. Charlie becomes the unlikely hero in a supernatural battle. As he fights for his home and family, he meets his guardian angel and the demon assigned to him. Is Charlie going crazy? Is there really a supernatural war taking place around Charlie's home, the neighborhood mailbox, and local swimming pool? Homemade Haunting is a comedy, thriller, and allegory---just the type of story expected from Rob Stennett.


A driven author takes six months, with his long-suffering wife's blessing, to write THE novel. Their entire world and future hinges on this novel. If Charlie could just have six months to produce this sure-to-be-exquisite and best-selling novel all of their dreams will come true. They will be able to escape the cheap, wood-paneled, mildew-scented rental. Charlie might be able to get his job back -- or maybe, just maybe -- they could live off the book --

Okay. Anyone who's attempted to write for money is already thinking....AUGH!!!! SCARY!!!!. But hold on...there's more. Charlie discovers he's a method writer...i.e. he feels the need to really "feel" what the characters feel, that way he can truly write what he knows. That's great except he writes horror. His family's upheaval, new schools, moving down, financial pressures, loss of friends/neighborhood give him great "food" for writing killer first chapters. But then his writing falls flat, right when it should be getting very interesting. Charlies' research leads him to dig a little deeper into the thrills and chills that he is wanting to translate onto the page. This gives ample opportunity for the reader of this story to mentally scream. "No! Charlie. Don't go into the BASEMENT!"

To crank up the tension a little more, Charlie doesn't really believe in the supernatural...any of it, ever since his mom died of cancer while he and his dad were at church lighting candles for her healing. So no God would let a little boy down, would ignore a little boy bargain for the life of his mother, right? So no god, no satan, no little green men...and Charlie is certain of that.

This book is not going to appeal to many readers. However, I loved it. But I love quirky or deep and a combination is the perfect storm. And this is the perfect storm. If you hate chick or lad lit, quirky or sarcastic you will probably want to stay far away. Class A Chickens will either want to avoid Home-Made Haunting outright or buy extra lightbulbs and a few packages of adult diapers. If you can't deal with the idea of a Christian label putting out a book that includes instructions on using an Ouija Board, or have qualms about the lost acting lost, you should probably not put it on your to read list. However. Fans of Ray Blackston or Michael Snyder should find plenty to appreciate. And horror fans. If you like your horror with a lot of humor, then you might want to look into it, too. The Christian aspects are fairly light as in there's not a lot of preaching. But spiritual content is pretty hefty as in it gives the reader some things to think about.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Bonus Review:

Charlie Walker doesn’t believe in God or the supernatural. But Charlie’s views change when he takes the biggest risk of his life—he quits his job to write the novel he’s always wanted to write. 

The problem is that Charlie is a method writer. Since he’s writing horror, he needs to experience horror. Charlie begins to dabble with the supernatural and experiences the paranormal around his house. Messages appear on mirrors, furniture moves, and his kids start seeing things.

Charlie is so lost in his book that he can’t see how its affecting his family. He thinks if he just stops, it will all wash away. It doesn’t. Friends convince Charlie that his only choices is to find God to save his family and home.

Charlie becomes the unlikely hero in a supernatural battle. As he fights for his home and family, he meets his guardian angel and the demon assigned to him. Is Charlie going crazy? Is there really a supernatural war taking place around Charlie’s home, the neighborhood mailbox, and the local swimming pool? 
Snappy. Brow raising. Quick paced. The thing I loved most about this book was the writing. Author Rob Stennett knows how to wield a pen—or keyboard, as the case may be—cutting in dialogue and internal monologue with keen sharpness. I especially appreciated the off-the-cuff humor, and yes, I may have even chuckled out loud once (a rarity). 

Make no mistake, though. This is a horror novel. Things that go bump in the night are showcased in all their glory. The closer I got to the end of the novel, the more I wondered if and/or how this tale would be redeemed with a satisfying, happy ending. Don’t worry. It does. But you’ll be kept guessing until the very end.  

Personally, I wouldn’t recommend this to young teens. There’s so much occult information in here that I foresee their curiosity radars zing off the screen. But older teens, especially the vampire/zombie crowd, and definitely adults will appreciate the handling of things unseen in Home Made Haunting…an interesting excursion into one family’s descent into the supernatural.

Reviewed by: Michelle Griep 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Kimberly and Kayla Woodhouse's No Safe Haven ~ Reviewed

No Safe Haven [Paperback]
Kimberley Woodhouse
Kayla Woodhouse (Author)
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: B&H Books (March 15, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1433671166


Jenna and Andi Tikaani-Gray are hoping for a fresh start. Though twelve-year old Andi has long struggled with a rare medical disorder, she and her mother have finally received good news from out-of-town specialists. Its news they desperately needed, especially after the recent death of Jenna's husband (Andi's dad) in a car accident.

But as they were flying home to Alaska, ready to begin again, the unthinkable happens. The pilot sabotages their small plane and crashes into Sultana, one of the most remote and dangerous mountains in the Land of the Midnight Sun. Even worse, a winter storm is headed their way along with someone who wants to kill them.


No doubt about it, Kim and Kayla Woodhouse are a dynamic writing duo of action, romance and living out faith! The Woodhouse's debut novel, No Safe Haven, is a thrilling adventure of the heart and mind as Jenna and her daughter Andi flee an unidentified threat against the backdrop of the beautiful yet unforgiving landscape of Alaska. With tenderness, authenticity and emotion, Kim and Kayla have drawn a captivating mother and daughter relationship, one stretched and strengthened by tragedy and ongoing medical struggles. Andi's voice is the perfect blend of sass and innocence, lending a joyousness to this thrilling tale and reflects Kayla's natural talent for storytelling and characterization. Kim provides plenty of action and attraction in this unique and intriguing story. No Safe Haven is a brilliant start to what will be an unmissable series from this mother and daughter team.

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Bonus Review:

I was thrilled to receive a review copy of such a gripping, action adventure novel. This is a great book for so many reasons. First it’s written by an amazing mother-daughter team. Kayla is 13 years old and writes the POV of the 12 year old girl who has the same nerve disorder she has. Making Kayla’s condition part of the story brought a depth of emotion, suspense and drama to a whole new level. Not only were Andi and her mom running from men determined to wipe them out but there was an urgency to get Andi to a safe place to stabilize her condition.

This book gripped my heart from the start as the action exploded from the very first page, literally. Jenna and Andi try to find help and piece together what happened as the reader is doing the same. Not only were the main characters Cole, Andi and Jenna running from the enemy, they were also battling Mother Nature and all she had to dish out: snow storms, frost bite, avalanches, and dropping temperatures that messed with their ability to get a grip on the side of the Alaskan mountains as they climbed to safety.

Jenna tries to explain her daughter Andi’s medical condition to their pilot Cole. He says, “She’s a real dare devil, huh?”

“Oh, you have no idea. Take a stubborn child, and remove the fear factor. Think about it. If you have no fear of consequences – mainly pain- you’d try just about anything.”

Kayla adds much to the story and gives the reader an insight into her condition they never would have had other wise. Andi’s dialogue, spunk, and her passionate relationship with Jesus added intensity, tension and gave an urgency of their rescue.

This compelling story had me holding my breath, biting my nails and up until the wee hours of morning seeing who would survive. No Safe Haven has it all danger, suspense, romance and characters I cared about long after I finished reading the last page.

This is an engaging, faith-building story written by a dynamic mother-daughter writing duo you won’t want to miss. I’m anxiously awaiting this team’s next book called, “Race Against Time.” After reading No Safe Haven, you’ll be looking for it too!

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network
Finding Hope Through Fiction

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Siri Mitchell's A Heart Most Worthy ~ Reviewed

Heart Most Worthy, A [Paperback]
Siri Mitchell (Author)
Paperback: 379 pages
Publisher: Bethany House (March 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0764207954


The elegance of Madame Forza's gown shop is a far cry from the downtrodden North End of Boston. Yet each day Julietta, Annamaria, and Luciana enter the world of the upper class, working on finery for the elite in society. The three beauties each long to break free of their obligations and embrace the American dream--and their chance for love. But the ways of the heart are difficult to discern at times. Julietta is drawn to the swarthy, mysterious Angelo. Annamaria has a star-crossed encounter with the grocer's son, a man from the entirely wrong family. And through no intent of her own, Luciana catches the eye of Billy Quinn, the son of Madame Forza's most important client. Their destinies intertwined, each harboring a secret from their families and each other, will they be found worthy of the love they seek?


Siri Mitchell tells a good story. I've found myself immersed in her novels, picturing and smelling just what she is describing. I've also found myself connecting with her characters. I'm not sure that Siri has a fiction-writing weakness.

In another historical, which have all been intriguing, Siri takes us to Boston during a time of unrest and upheaval. Italian immigrants have come to America, Spanish influenza is on the horizon, and war overshadows. Three young women take jobs in a dress designer's shop and live in the nearby tenements. Their unique and sometimes similar struggles play out on the pages.

Siri has chosen an omniscient point of view which is not my favorite. However, this novel reads almost like a fairy tale or morality tale. And I found it worked very well. The number of characters might seem overwhelming at first but the reader does get to know each of them and the story flows. The Italian spice and Catholic faith demonstrated through the life of the characters and their interactions add elements that enrich the story, too. As things were tied up it felt a tiny bit hurried but that's minor. One plot element didn't quite feel satisfyingly resolved, but again, that is minor. Read it, if nothing else, for pure escapism. Read it if you are a writer because Siri excels. Read it if you like a good fairy tale.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Bonus Review by: Michelle Griep 

In 1918 Boston, three seamstresses dare to dream of a better life. Fiery Julietta pursues love recklessly. Shy Annamaria falls for the wrong man. Secretive Luciana’s past endangers them all. Drawn together amid the opulence of Madame Fortier’s dress shop, will each find the fairy-tale ending she seeks? 

Once again author Siri Mitchell brings the past to life in A Heart Most Worthy. Every time I read one of Siri ‘s books, I feel like I’ve sat in on a college level history class, with the added bonus that I didn’t have to pay the tuition and there’s no final. Win, win, win, I tell ya! 

This story puts the reader dead center in the heart a Bostonian Italian neighborhood during the early twentieth century. I already knew about the danger of the epic Spanish Flu, but I had no idea of the hazards of prejudice against Italians. The trials the three main characters endure evoke feelings of compassion, sympathy, and outright anger. And not just because of the way others disrespected them, but for the way Italians treated other Italians. Leaves me shaking my head. 

This is a unique novel in that it’s presented mostly in omniscient narrative, which is slightly jarring in my opinion. I got used to it after awhile but it’s not a personal favorite. 

A Heart Most Worthy is a stand alone story that makes some great points about confusing lust for love, the need for government vs. anarchism, and how easily the things we think we need can be turned into idols.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Laurie Alice Eakes' Lady in the Mist ~ Reviewed

Lady in the Mist: A Novel (The Midwives) [Paperback]
Laurie Alice Eakes
Paperback: 402 pages
Publisher: Revell (February 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0800734521


By virtue of her profession as a midwife, Tabitha Eckles is the keeper of many secrets. Dominick Cherrett is a man with his own secret to keep: namely, why he, a British aristocrat, is on American soil working as an indentured servant.

In a time when relations between America and England rest on the edge of a knife, Tabitha and Dominick cross paths, leading them on a journey of intrigue, threats, public disgrace, and . . . love. But can Tabitha trust Dominick? Finding true love seems impossible in a world set against them.

With stirring writing that draws you directly into the story, Lady in the Mist takes you on the thrilling ride of love's discovery.


Lady in the Mist is the first in Laurie Alice Eakes' Midwives series and is a traditional Christian historical romance with two men vying for the lovely Tabitha, danger afoot and a non believer coming to faith in time to claim the woman he loves. The backdrop of English-American tensions as young American men are pressed into service on English naval ships and the constraints on Tabitha practicing midwifery as she is single, adds substance and interest to the story. I did find the romance a little hasty and wondered at Dominick's ability to get away with wandering around without his master's permission, given his status as a redemptioner which I found distracting. Overall however, this is an interesting read and will be enjoyed by many an historical romance lover.

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Bonus Review:

I hadn't read anything by this author and was thankful to receive a review copy of Lady in the Mist. I'm not a history buff so reading about midwives in 1809 was very interesting. Laurie depicts Tabitha as a strong women determined to do her job well in Seaborne, Virginia. I couldn't believe all that was expected of a midwife when a regular doctor was not in town.

I loved the way Laurie brought history to life. She shows a scary time in American history when the British boats were stealing American men off the shoreline at night and forcing onto their ships. Duty called all hours of the day and night and Tabitha found her unescorted on the same shores men were stolen from. For that reason she kept her eyes and ears alert as she made the walk on the beach to her home. Then one night she bumps into an unexpected visitor. Dominick Cherrett, a British aristocrat, on American soil working as an indentured servant. Tabitha’s world is never the same. Dominick is just as shocked as she is and fears she’ll turn him in to the Mayor (his employer) because he’s out at night. She says he’s British, and not to be trusted and after all the British were the ones stealing American men. She was in a quandary about what to do.

Dominick is charming, a man on a mission with a mysterious past. Could she trust him? He was a bit of a flirt it wouldn’t hurt to be his friend and see what he was up to. Both Dominick and Tabitha have something in common, each are trying to do their best in working for their redemption with God, to be good enough for him to love them. They found it hard to accept the free gift God gives.

I hadn’t expected a murder mystery and all the suspense and drama inside Lady in the Mist. I loved how this author wove this mystifying web and had the reader guessing who done it all the way till the end. I did find myself anxious for Tabitha as I really did want her to find true love, trust God like she once did and accept the love God offered her as a free gift. I love books that help me learn about history, what life was like back then and the part midwives played. This was one fascinating, suspenseful, charming, and fun read I most definitely recommend. I’ll certainly be looking for the next book in this midwife series.

Reviewed by:
Nora St.Laurent

The Book Club Network

Finding Hope Through Fiction

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Alison Strobel's The Heart of Memory ~ Reviewed

The Heart of Memory
By Alison Strobel
Published by Zondervan, March 2011
ISBN 978-0-310-28947-0


Beloved Christian writer and speaker Savannah Trover expected to wake from surgery missing her former heart—not her former faith. Now her anger toward God threatens to destroy her family and ministry. Can she ever trust her heart again?


The Heart of Memory will linger in your memory long after you turn the last page. Alison Strobel plumbs the depths of lost faith and the loss of self in this amazing book. She exposes things about transplant recipients and cellular memory that were spellbinding. I couldn't put it down. Novel Journey and I highly recommend it. It's a 5-star read.

Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan, editor
Novel Journey

Monday, March 07, 2011

Allison Pittman's The Bridegrooms ~ Reviewed

The Bridegrooms [Paperback]
Allison K. Pittman
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Multnomah Books; 1 edition (April 13, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1601421370


It Only Takes an Instant for Love to Strike

Tragedy hits the Allenhouse family on a hot summer night in Ohio when a mother of four vanished. Eight-year-old Vada virtually grew up overnight and raised her three younger sisters while her father lost himself in his medical practice in the basement of their home.

Now, Vada is a grown woman, still making her home with her father and sisters. Her days are spent serving as an errand girl for Cleveland’s fledgling amateur orchestra; her evenings with Garrison Walker, her devoted, if passionless, beau.

Dizzying change occurs the day the Brooklyn Bridegrooms come to town to play the Cleveland Spiders and a line drive wallops the head of a spectator. The fan is whisked to the Allenhouse parlor, and questions swirl about the anonymous, unconscious man.

Suddenly, the subdued house is filled with visitors, from a flirtatious, would-be sports writer to the Bridegrooms’ handsome star hitter to the guilt-ridden ballplayer who should have caught the stray shot. The medical case brings Dr. Allenhouse a frustration and helplessness he hasn’t felt since his wife’s disappearance. Vada’s sisters are giddy at the bevy of possible suitors. And Vada’s life is awakened amid the super-charged atmosphere of romantic opportunity.


Looking for sister drama? Lots of romantic encounters? Struggling heroines? Then check this one out. It contains all of the above.

The Allenhouse sisters function to the best of their ability. Vada, the oldest, who vividly remembers the night their mother abandoned them. Not only did she lose a mother that night, but her father went somewhere else emotionally, leaving eight-year-old Vada to discover she had become the mother hen of a brood of sisters, Hazel is the independent suffragette who just wants to be loved. Althea was struck silent at the betrayal of her mother and only speaks in poetry or with her eyes. Lissette is a beautiful bit of fluff who pouts and flounces her way through the novel and into most eligible young mens' hearts.

The plot points are abundant. Baseball players, an unconscious man, a suitor a bit too starchy and a couple others way too seductive. Themes of infidelity, faith quakes, insecurities and sibling rivalries flare up on a regular basis. Romance blooms in every chapter. This is not my favorite Allison Pittman novel but it was an enjoyable read.

Fans of romance, sister stories and drama will want to look further into the Bridegrooms.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Bonus Review:

The Bridegrooms revolves around 4 young women and their father, who is a doctor, in Ohio, back around the turn of the century. When the girls were very young, their mother abandoned the family for another man, which left the oldest, Vada Allenhouse, to raise all of the girls. As a grown woman, Vada is still finding herself mothering her sisters, despite the fact that she would like some sort of change in her life. All of her sisters have interesting personalities. Althea has been silent since their mother left, Hazel, is slightly overweight and self conscious, thinking the only way she can find a husband is through the mail and ads in the paper, and Lisette, the baby of the family, keeps a string of beaus around her constantly. In the course of the story, a baseball game is going on, and a spectator is struck unconscious by a fly ball and brought to the Allenhouse home, causing all sorts of unexpected guests and happenings to occur.

This book was an okay read for me. I had a bit of difficulty getting into it, but once I finished, I did enjoy it. I was disappointed that there was some talk of the Lord in it, but it didn’t really go anywhere or explain much Biblically. I did enjoy the bit of baseball in the story, though. It was very cute, and fun to see the different personalities of the different sisters, and how they changed over the course of the story due to circumstances that occurred within a short amount of time.

Reviewed by: Sarah Porter

Friday, March 04, 2011

Shelley Shepard Gray's Grace ~ Reviewed

Grace, Sisters of the Heart Series, #4
By: Shelley Shepard Gray
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 256
Vendor: Avon Inspire
Publication Date: 2010
ISBN: 0061990965


It's Christmastime at the Brenneman Bed & Breakfast, and everyone is excited about closing down for the holiday. Anna and Henry will be celebrating their first Christmas as a married couple, and for Katie and Jonathan Lundy, it's their first Christmas with baby Stefan. Winnie and Samuel Miller plan to stop by as well for a wonderful two weeks of family and rest.

But when two unexpected visitors show up, hoping to stay for Christmas, the family must test their commitment to hospitality. Levi is a widower who lost his wife four years ago and can't bear the thought of another Christmas alone. And Melody is a young pregnant woman who won't open up about how she ended up on her own at Christmas at almost nine months pregnant. Anna, who knows a thing or two about keeping secrets, doesn't trust her, and strives to find out the truth about these two strangers who have disrupted their holiday.

But as the Christmas spirit descends on them all, along with a snow that traps them at the inn, a healing and hopefulness takes over, allowing new relationships to be built, and the boundaries of family to be extended.

Review: I really enjoyed this book. It was nice seeing how the Brenneman family came together to make Levi and Melody feel welcome (some were reluctant to be nice at first, but they came around). It was also wonderful to see Levi and Melody grow as people during their stay, and to learn to forgive themselves and put their lives in God’s hands. It was a wonderful book, and it makes me want to go out and get the Sisters of the Heart series to see what happened with the Brenneman family previously.

Reviewed by: Sarah Porter

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Laura S. Wharton's The Pirate's Bastard ~ Reviewed

The Pirate’s Bastard
By Laura S. Wharton
Second Wind Publishing, LLC 2010
ISBN 978-1-935171-20-1

Review by Michelle Griep

Edward Marshall’s future as a shipbuilder in colonial North Carolina is filled with promise until his past confronts him. Ignatius Pell, boatswain to Edward’s errant pirate father, has a plan. It involves voyaging to the Caribbean to find hidden treasure once belonging to the pirate Stede Bonnet. When Edward refuses to get involved, Pell uncorks his final offer: Blackmail.

Author Laura S. Wharton has certainly done her homework. There’s gobs of information about ships and riggings and boat-building. Her detail paints a very vivid picture in the mind of the reader.

The story takes place mostly in North Carolina but some in Barbados—a great place for this reader to run away to during the throes of a Minnesota winter. Hero Edward Marshall is an admirable character even if his father is not…or rather in spite of his father.

All in all, if ye be a pirate at heart, you might want to take a look at The Pirate’s Bastard.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Diann Mill's Fire in Ember ~ Reviewed

Fire in Ember
By: DiAnn Mills
Zondervan / 2011 / Paperback
ISBN: 0310293308

When responsible rancher John Timmons rescues "Bert" Farrar from being hanged as a horse thief, he takes the boy home to work off the debt. But what will John do when he finds out that Bert is really a girl? And will Ember Farrar repay his kindness by stealing his cattle---or his heart?


The Fire in Ember involves a young girl named Ember, better known as Bert, who is on the run from her outlaw brothers. She finds the home she always wanted at the Timmons family ranch. The Timmons family takes her in as their own, even though they know little about her. In the meantime, the oldest boy, John Timmons, and Bert begin to develop feelings for each other. Unfortunately, recent cattle rustlings and murders begin to get in the way of their relationship, especially due to the fact that Bert has been so secretive about her life previous to coming to the ranch, which leads to her being a suspect in the rustlings.

I really enjoyed this book. I love books set in the Old West in the 1800’s, and this fit the bill perfectly. It had a great mix of adventure and suspense, as well as a good foundation of salvation in Jesus Christ. I loved watching the transformation in Bert, from not even knowing who God was, to learning about the love God had for her, to accepting Christ as her Savior and trusting Him to take care of her during difficult times. It’s very inspiring, and a wonderful book to read!

Reviewed by: Sarah Porter

Bonus Review:

If you enjoy heart pounding tales of cowboys and cattle thieves like in the old Western movies, then this is the book for you! I really enjoyed the way that DiAnn Mills wove the truths of God's forgiveness, plan, and protection in all circumstances throughout this story. Bert (or as we later find out, Ember) is a spunky 17 year old girl hardened by the secrets in her past. Accused of crimes she claims she didn't commit, will she ever be free of the ghosts and deceptions of her past? Will she ever be able to love...or even trust anyone again? Can this loving family she's staying with really be different from the people in her past? If so why? Find out by reading: 'The Fire in Ember'.

Reviewed by: Rachael Schnitker

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Bonnie Leon's Touching the Clouds ~ Reviewed

Touching the Clouds by Bonnie Leon
Genre: Christian Historical Romance
Pages: 367 Trade Paperback
Date Published: July 2010
Publisher: Revell Books


Author Bonnie Leon takes readers to new heights in her latest book, Touching the Clouds, the first book in the new Alaskan Skies series.

Leon introduces readers to Kate Evans, an adventurous and independent young woman with a pioneering spirit. When she leaves her home in Washington State to follow her dream of being an Alaskan bush pilot, she knows it will be an uphill battle. But she never expected it to be quite like this. As the lone woman in a man's world, she finds that contending with people's expectations is almost as treacherous as navigating the wild arctic storms.

When she crosses paths with a mysterious man living alone in the forbidding wilderness, she faces a new challenge. Can Kate break through the walls he has put up around his heart? And will fear keep her from realizing her dreams?

Book 1 in the Alaskan Skies series, Touching the Clouds
will draw readers in with raw emotion and suspense,
all against the stunning backdrop of the Alaskan wilds
during the 1930s.


Bonnie Leon is one of those authors that gives it all to her readers. There is suspense that makes you keep on reading. Romance that makes you struggle and route for certain characters and mumble for others to get out the way. There is adventure that makes your heart soar. Descriptions are painted that make you emotions rise and your imagination smile. As a reader, hearing the water trickle whether it is from a lake, beach or snow melting all come through clearly as well as the birds in the air and wolves in the brush.

Without a doubt this novel is well researched and diligently written. I have enjoyed every single page and twist in the story. Nerves wracked and wondering when "it" would happen and what would come next. Kate had my support through her antagonistic co-worker(s) and Paul had my heart and my craving for his past to fall away to open him to a new future. It is amazing how characters' lives can be so similar, yet so different as well. The people on the page came off the page with ease and into my heart.

Every minute spent in the Alaskan brush was an adventure and I cannot wait for more in the series and more from Bonnie. Highly recommended!

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

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Bonus Review:

Bonnie Leon immerses the reader in the intriguing and perilous world of Alaskan bush pilots in the first of her Alaskan Skies novels, Touching the Clouds. The Alaskan wilderness came alive with effortless descriptions of locations and people and the unique challenges faced by those living in such a remote location. I loved that Kate was so passionate about her career and had to fight hard in such a man's world for opportunities and recognition. The tender romance and light suspense of Touching the Clouds has peaked my interest in this series and I will be eagerly looking out for more.

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Bonus Review:

This book was a fun fast paced tale of one girl's search for purpose outside of societies expectations.  When Kate Evans leaves behind the predictable pace of life with her parents on their apple orchard in Washington, she's also leaving behind any hope of a safe and predictable future with her fiance'.  But in Alaska, she comes across more obstacles than she anticipated in her work and relationships...particularly those romantic in nature.  I enjoyed this book and look forward to reading what happens in the rest of this series!

Reviewed by: Rachael Schnitker