Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sigmund Brouwer's The Canary List ~ Reviewed

The Canary List: A Novel
Sigmund Brouwer
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (June 21, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307446468


Protected by the dark of night, Jaimie Piper runs. But is anywhere safe when Evil is hunting you?

She’s just a twelve year-old girl, bumped around between foster homes and relegated to school classes for challenged kids, those lagging in their test scores or with behavioral issues. But her real problem is that she can sense something the other kids can’t—something dark. Something compelling her to run for her life.

All Crockett Grey wants is to mark the anniversary of his daughter’s death alone.

But when his student Jaimie comes to him, terrified, her need for protection collides with his grief, and a tangled web of bizarre events sends them both spiraling toward destruction.

Crockett’s one hope of getting his life back is to uncover the mysterious secrets of Jaimie’s past and her strange gift. It isn’t long before his discoveries lead him to a darker conspiracy, secrets guarded by the highest seat of power in the world—the Vatican.


An intriguing premise that begins with a poor foster child who is just seeking peace and some understanding adult help. As circumstances warp into worst case scenarios for all involved, the story explodes into a cat and mouse nightmare for an innocent teacher who just was doing what teachers are supposed to do. Care about kids.

The subject matter won't appeal to a broad range of readers as it covers child endangerment, child pornography, suicide, kidnapping and Satanism.

Those who love conspiracy novels and twists and turns might want to give this a shot. I can't say I loved it, but, it was a compelling read with some creepy residual shadows that feel almost a touch too real for comfort.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tamara Leigh's Restless in Carolina ~ Reviewed

Restless in Carolina: A Novel (Southern Discomfort)
Tamara Leigh
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Multnomah Books (July 19, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1601421680


Tree-huggin', animal-lovin' Bridget Pickwick-Buchanan is on a mission. Well, two. First she has to come to terms with being a widow at thirty-three. After all, it's been four years and even her five-year-old niece and nephew think it's time she shed her widow's weeds. Second, she needs to find a buyer for her family's estate-a Biltmore-inspired mansion surrounded by hundreds of acres of unspoiled forestland. With family obligations forcing the sale, Bridget is determined to find an eco-friendly developer to buy the land, someone who won't turn it into single-family homes or a cheesy theme park.

Enter J. C. Dirk, a high-energy developer from Atlanta whose green property developments have earned him national acclaim. When he doesn't return her calls, Bridget decides a personal visit is in order. Unfortunately, J. C. Dirk is neither amused nor interested when she interrupts his meeting-until she mentions her family name. In short order, he finds himself in North Carolina, and Bridget has her white knight-in more ways than one. But there are things Bridget doesn't know about J. C., and it could mean the end of everything she's worked for.and break her heart.


Ah, the joy of reading a Tamara Leigh story! Restless in Carolina, the final in her Southern Discomfort trilogy, has each of the hallmarks of her contemporary romance novels, witty dialogue, unique and arresting characters and an engaging storyline. Bridget Pickwick Buchanan struggles to overcome her grief from losing her beloved husband, as her family and friends urge her to move on with her life. Her passion for the environment motivates her to seek out J.C. Dirk, a man who peaks her interest in a way no man has since she lost Easton. Their interaction is authentic and energizing as is the involvement of all the quirky Pickwicks, with their conflicting agendas and motivations. Cameos from Piper and Axel, Maggie and Reece are a nice touch and Uncle Obe's ongoing journey for forgiveness comes full circle. Tamara's books are always a real treat and I hope you enjoy discovering them all soon.

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Monday, August 29, 2011

Michelle Buckman's Rachel's Contrition ~ Reviewed

Rachel's Contrition
Michelle Buckman
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Sophia Institute Press (September 30, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1933184728


Rachel Winters had nothing, won it all, and then lost everything. After the death of her daughter, grief-spawned delusions cause Rachel to lose her husband, her home, and custody of her son.

Help arrives from two unlikely sources: a young teen, Lilly, battling her own demons, and a tattered holy card depicting Saint Therese of Lisieux.

As Rachel grows closer to Lilly and comes to know Saint Therese, unbidden memories from her edgy past reveal fearful mysteries of seduction, madness, and murder . . . and a truth that will haunt her forever.


A medley of broken people populate Rachel's new world. And her new world is a swirling vortex of denial, grief, abuse, pain and often a prescription drug induced haze.

After the death of her infant daughter Rachel's old world split wide open. Her marriage crashes, her son hates her, her non-life is spent marinating in a musty pool house apartment.

Slowly, healing and reality begin begin to pull Rachel's world back together. With a little help from St. Teresa of Avila, a broken priest and an unlikely alliance with an angry teenager.

Some of this novel was so emotionally difficult to read that I had to set it down. Not for those who can't deal with heavy, heavy topics in their fiction choices. However, Buckman handles mental illness and grief gently and she paints a complex character in Rachel.

Some secondary characters are seen through the haze of over-medication and grief so they are harder to sympathize with and relate to. A couple of unbelievable situations and/or moments caught me off guard.

Buckman handles the Catholic faith with respect and points to hope in a relationship with God, saints, and their earthly helpers.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Friday, August 26, 2011

Lacy William's Marrying Miss Marshal ~ Reviewed

Lacy Williams
Format: Paperback
Vendor: Steeple Hill Books
Publication Date: 2011
ISBN: 0373828810


Filling the shoes of her late husband as town marshall hasn't been easy for Danna Carpenter. She's not only fighting criminals, she's also fighting to earn the respect of the townspeople. So crossing paths with tenderfoot detective Chas O'Grady is the last thing she needs. He's hunting a band of cattle rustlers and isn't used to the rugged Wyoming landscape. Teaming up is their only option, but when circumstances place them in a compromising situation, the town forces a more permanent partnership-marriage. If they can let down their guards with each other they might find that love is the greatest catch of all.


Marrying Miss Marshall revolves around Danna Carpenter, who, due to the murder of her husband, has filled the role of town Marshall. In addition to fighting criminals and keeping her town safe, she is also trying to gain the respect and confidence of the town’s people. In the meantime, she crosses paths with Chas O’Grady, an inexperienced detective hunting a band of cattle rustlers. In the midst of teaming up to find the rustlers, they are forced into a compromising situation, which in turn forces them to marry.

This was a great book. I say it every time, but I love Christian historical fiction. A plus for me in this book is Danna’s character. She did her best to fill a man’s role as town Marshall, but throughout the story, you see her vulnerability. Under her hard exterior, she wants to be more feminine, and isn’t sure how to go about doing it properly. It’s fun to watch her character grow. It was a great read, and highly enjoyable.

Reviewed by: Sarah Porter

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Laura J Davis's Come to Me ~ Reviewed

By Laura J. Davis
Published by Word Alive Press
338 Pages

Back Cover:

Step back in time and experience the life of Christ through the eyes of His mother. Come to Me offers the reader an intimate glimpse into the lives of Jesus and his family in a way that brings them to life. The theme of trusting in God and surrendering to Him are evident throughout this remarkable story. From the cradle to the cross, Come to Me speaks to the hearts of those who are seeking and deepens the faith of long-time believers. It is a moving tale of the life of Christ from the mother who raised him to become the Savior of the world.


This book starts with the birth of Christ and takes the reader along to his death and resurrection seen through the eyes of Mary, his mother. Come to Me reminded me of the movie The Nativity Story; where they give an account of the harsh environment and the social realities Mary, Jesus mother grew up in. It wasn’t a sugar coated Hollywood production but showed the nitty-gritty of life in Nazareth.

Laura Davis shows a believable account of Mary’s life before and after she finds out she’s pregnant by the Holy Spirit and has to tell her betrothed Joseph. I haven’t read any book that’s showed the playful side of Mary who was a teenage girl and Joseph who wasn’t that much older than Mary. I enjoyed the authenticity and innocence of the book.

I enjoyed how this author revealed the intimate dialogue, playful side of Mary and Joseph the fun they had as they awaited their wedding day. Then she showed the heart-wrenching reality of Joseph finding out Mary is with child and it’s not his. Joseph respects Mary and can’t believe that she would lie to him, then the Angel speaks to Joseph in a dream and he believes Mary. I enjoyed reading about Josephs love for Mary and how he struggled to do the right thing.

Laura used her imagination to fill in the dialogue between Mary and Joseph as it might have been, two young people traveling to Bethlehem for the census. Mary was pretty far along in her pregnancy to travel. This journey is a little different than what you’re used to reading and I enjoyed that. Laura explains why she wrote the story the way she did, it was very interesting.

This story line is unique as it’s told through Mary, the mother of Jesus’ eyes. I often wondered about how Mary saw Jesus as he was growing up, then when he started his ministry and when she saw him dying on the cross and all the things that happened in-between. It was fun and heart-wrenching near the end to read this story through Mary’s mothering eyes.

This is a good read to help a new Christian get another perspective on the life of Jesus and his ministry. It’s also a great witnessing tool. Laura Davis does a great job of showing Jesus’ humanity and him being the Son of God! I highly recommend this book to be read anytime not just during the Christmas season!

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

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bo Caldwell's City of Tranquil Light ~ Reviewed

City of Tranquil Light: A Novel
Bo Caldwell
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (September 28, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0805092285


Will Kiehn is seemingly destined for life as a humble farmer in the Midwest when, having felt a call from God, he travels to the vast North China Plain in the early twentieth-century. There he is surprised by love and weds a strong and determined fellow missionary, Katherine. They soon find themselves witnesses to the crumbling of a more than two-thousand-year-old dynasty that plunges the country into decades of civil war. As the couple works to improve the lives of the people of Kuang P'ing Ch'eng-- City of Tranquil Light, a place they come to love--and face incredible hardship, will their faith and relationship be enough to sustain them?


I had this book in my stack for months before I picked it up and began to read. Once I was two pages in, I was hooked and had trouble putting it down.

Told through the eyes of Will as he recounts the story of his life, and Kathrine as she journaled throughout her years as a missionary in China and their homecoming. The detail, the lives, and the hearts of the characters come to life and pull the reader into a time and culture warp.

Heartache, sorrow, struggles, horror fill the days of Will and Kathrine in the early 1900’s. But there is also blessing after blessing as they do what they are called to do and reach out to people that they come to love. Smells, sounds and sights jump off the page. My heart connected with them in their struggles and their joys. City is not an easy book to read, but it’s hauntingly beautiful.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pam Hillman's Stealing Jake ~ Reviewed

Stealing Jake [Kindle Edition]
Pam Hillman
File Size: 543 KB
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (June 24, 2011)


When Livy O'Brien spies a young boy jostling a man walking along the boardwalk, she recognizes the act for what it is. After all, she used to be known as Light-fingered Livy. But that was before she put her past behind her and moved to the growing town of Chestnut, Illinois, where she's helping to run an orphanage. Now she'll do almost anything to protect the street kids like herself.

Sheriff's deputy Jake Russell had no idea what he was in for when he ran into Livy--literally--while chasing down a pickpocket. With a rash of robberies and a growing number of street kids in town--as well as a loan on the family farm that needs to be paid off--Jake doesn't have time to pursue a girl. Still, he can't seem to get Livy out of his mind. He wants to get to know her better . . . but Livy isn't willing to trust any man, especially not a lawman.


Pam Hillman's debut novel, Stealing Jake, is a little gem of a story and a credit to Pam's talent as a writer. While a traditional Christian romance in many ways with a handsome and heroic lawman taken by a sweet young woman hiding her past, their attraction gentle and tender, Pam adds some grit with the story revolving it around street kids and their desperate will to survive. Both Livy and Jake have complex back stories which add much authenticity and interest to the storyline as their past experiences impact on their perception of each other which makes for genuine conflict and misunderstanding. The townsfolk and street kids add plenty of color and interest. All in all, Stealing Jake is a delightful beginning to Pam's writing career.

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Monday, August 22, 2011

Tom Blubaugh's Night of the Cossack ~ Reviewed

Night of the Cossack
Tom Blubaugh
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Bound by Faith Publishers (2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0982902921


Night of the Cossack is a compelling adventure about a teenager who is forced to grow up quickly. The main character, Nathan Hertzfield faces many life or death situations during his saga. Join Nathan on his suspenseful journey through parts of Russia and Europe during the early 1900's. Don't miss this entertaining and intriguing story, Night of the Cossack.


Set in Europe during the skirmishes between Turks and Cossacks, Night of the Cossack follows several years in the life of Nathan, the hero of the story.

Based loosely on the author’s own grandfather's possible story, it is a tale of what might have happened if a young Jewish boy was kidnapped and forced into becoming a soldier. Nathan gets knocked down again and again and seems to have to say good-bye to everyone he has ever loved.

The writing is simple even though the time period and setting is unique so it would be a good read for upper elementary. However, there are some elements that might concern cautious parents. (Discussion of women being kidnapped to become wives and veiled reference to rape and a character who preaches Christianity telling Nathan to not wait up, with a wink, as he goes to visit his girlfriend.)

The historical content of the book made me want to look into that time period.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Friday, August 19, 2011

Michele Scott's Happy Hour ~ Reviewed

Happy Hour
Michele Scott
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: ZOVA Books (March 22, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0982788088


Jamie is a successful editor, a widowed mother, and caretaker to her senile mother-in-law. Alyssa is an artist and gallery owner. Danielle is a vintner and a divorced mother of two. Kat is a sommelier, co-owner of a five star restaurant with her chef husband, and mother of a blended family. These four women face death, illness, broken families, the bitterness of betrayal, and hidden secrets from the past together. These four women, four lives, four friends share it all at happy hour and beyond.


Four women, each with struggles, bond through their Napa Valley wine connection.

Kat, bitterly divorced, newly married and blending two families while owning a restaurant.

Jamie edits a magazine for wine lovers. She single-parents her daughter and her dead husband’s mother.

Alyssa paints in Napa valley, and attempts to continue to survive the secret that has stolen so much of her life.

Danielle, divorced painfully, sets out to compete with her ex-husband and find an outlet for her passion to make wine. But her daughters have plans and issues of their own.

Their stories weave in and out, the characters change and grow, and the friendships become lifelines.

If you love grown-up girlfriend stories you might want to look into this one. It’s well-written and compellingly page turning as the characters lives go from bad to worse and then better than hoped for. It is a strong PG-13 or R-rated read with some steamy scenes, and some language.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Diann Mills's Under a Desert Sky ~ Reviewed

Under a Desert Sky
DiAnn Mills
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Summerside Press (June 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1609361385


When Eva Fortier’s grandfather is murdered, her attorney urges her to leave New York and take refuge in the high desert area of New Mexico.

Leaving her life of wealth behind, Eva attempts to make sense of the tragedies in her life. Navajo David Benally has his hands full taking care of his people’s medical needs. But when his father asks him to help fulfill a vow made to Eva’s father, he has no choice but to oblige. He views Eva as a spoiled rich girl...until he sees her strength in the midst of life-threatening danger.


DiAnn Mills' latest historical novel, Under A Desert Sky, tackles an inter racial relationship, a murderous vendetta and the journey of a woman determined to survive against all odds. I enjoyed the character of Tahoma immensely, a man caught between his cultural roots and the desires of his family and community and his modern education and new found faith. DiAnn authentically addresses the hurdles Eva and Tahoma face in light of their attraction with great dialogue and internal ponderings. Tahoma's parents and the rough and ready Rex are great minor characters who add depth and personality to the story. The suspense moves along at a steady pace making Under A Desert Sky a solid and engaging read.

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Jeff Gerke's Plot Vs. Character ~ Reviewed

Plot Versus Character: A Balanced Approach to Writing Great Fiction
Jeff Gerke
ISBN-10: 1582979928 | ISBN-13: 978-1582979922 | Publication Date: November 16, 2010 | Edition: 1


What's more important to a story: a gripping plot or compelling characters? Literary-minded novelists argue in favor of character-based novels while commercial novelists argue in favor of plot-based stories, but the truth of the matter is this: The best fiction is rich in both.

Enter Plot Versus Character. This hands-on guide to creating a well-rounded novel embraces both of these crucial story components. You?ll learn to:

Create layered characters by considering personality traits, natural attributes, and backgrounds

Develop your character?s emotional journey and tie it to your plot?s inciting incident

Construct a three-act story structure that can complement and sustain your character arc

Expose character backstory in a manner that accentuates plot points

Seamlessly intertwine plot and character to create a compelling page-turner filled with characters to whom readers can?t help but relate

And much more

Filled with helpful examples and friendly instruction, Plot Versus Character takes the guesswork out of creating great fiction by giving you the tools you need to inject life into your characters and momentum into your plots.


Gerke has written a winner. Whether you are a plot-driven or character-driven writer, this book has something for you. (I'm still waiting for the book for the procrastination-driven writer.) Written in an enjoyable conversational style, it's like the author is sitting down at Starbucks having a one-on-one consultation with you about your work. I enjoyed being able to go straight to the chapters that addressed my specific weakness areas. If you're looking to be a more well-rounded author, this is the book for you.

Reviewed by: Jenny B. Jones

Bonus Review:

I don't care whether you're a beginning storyteller or you have multiple published novels to your name, your writing will be tighter after reading Jeff Gerke's Plot versus Character. And I would recommend reading it more than once. As Gerke points out, most novelists lean in one direction or the other, and you don't have to be writing long before you can tell whether your writing is plot driven or character driven. In my opinion you can often tell by the types of novels you read. Partial to thrillers and other fast-paced action? Then you probably aren't excited about the idea of fleshing out your own book's characters until they nearly walk off the page. Partial to sharp dialogue between fascinating people? Then you've probably been told you need to add "conflict" to your plot. Or plot to your plot.

Gerke has had enough experience in the publishing industry to know most writers struggle to simultaneously provide riveting plot and compelling, believable, characters. So he shows how to strengthen your skills in both regards and then blend them together. I can't wait to apply this book to my next manuscript. Highly recommended to novelists and anyone even considering writing a novel.

Reviewed by: Trish Perry

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Gina Holmes's Dry as Rain ~ Reviewed

Dry as Rain
By Gina Holmes
Published by Tyndale House Publisher, Inc.(September 1)
ISBN# 978-1414333069
400 Pages

Back Cover:

From the bestselling author of Crossing Oceans comes a powerfully moving story that tests the limits of love’s forgiveness. Like many marriages, Eric and Kyra Yoshida’s has fallen apart slowly, one lost dream and misunderstanding at a time, until the ultimate betrayal finally pushes them beyond reconciliation. Just when it looks like forgive and forget is no longer an option; a car accident gives Eric the second chance of a lifetime. A concussion causes his wife to forget details of her life, including the chasm between them. No one knows when—or if—Kyra’s memory will return, but Eric seizes the opportunity to win back the woman he’s never stopped loving.


I was thankful to receive a review copy of Gina Holmes new book. I liked her main character Eric. He has a chance to take a good long look at his life and says, “When I’d first became a Christian, I read what Adam and Eve had done in the Garden of Eden and it really ticked me off. Now, I knew that I was no different then they were. I guess none of us are.” How true!

I enjoyed Eric’s honesty. His world was on the fast track to success! He sought the good things in life, a nice home in a good neighborhood only the best for his family! Of course there were sacrifices that had to be made in order to achieve his goal but it would be worth it. Right? He was determined to be at work early, stay late, and work holidays. His job came first! How else would he be able to provide for his family? They’d understand! So he thought!

Then realization hits him. Had all this money brought him happiness? No, he was more miserable than ever. He missed the early days of his family before they moved into the fancy neighborhood. Now his son was in the service and his wife kicked him out of the house. Then Eric gets a call. There’s been an accident and his wife has lost some of her memory! She’s forgotten they are separated! Eric and the Doctor felt it’s best to let Kyra regain her memory before they tell her the realities of her life. Her memory would return soon enough!

Eric wondered if he should take this time to let his wife know him again. How many people get a chance like this? Have a do-over? Maybe he could win her back! Time was ticking. He was in a race against the time her memory would return and remember why they were separated in the first place!

Gina Holmes pens an honest look at a couple whose drifted apart and doomed for divorce. Then an unforeseen car accident brings them together in a surprising way. It seems they have a fresh start.

I liked how this author shows what’s important in life and how easily we can lose track of our relationships when we start pursuing money; leaving relationships behind thinking they’ll still be there when we are done chasing the prize. God’s called us to a balanced life and one totally dependent on Him. I enjoyed this novel and its message. I look forward to reading other books by this author.

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

Bonus Review:

Dry as Rain is a completely different book than Gina Holmes’s freshman release, Crossing Oceans, but it is as well-written as thought provoking as Oceans. Told in first person male voice, this story explores the theme of death, like Oceans, but the death is a slow, lingering death of a marriage. By the time the reader is introduced to the characters the marriage has crumbled into full separation, it is at the point where those who vowed to love til death do them part now revile the very faces that made those promises. Bitterness, blame, misunderstandings and selfishness have replaced all that was good and promising in the marriage.

These hindsight-wisdom tinged details all come out through the inner thought life and conversations of the husband, Eric. The wife, Kyra is in no position to share her thoughts with the reader because an accident has left her without memories of the rancor. Because she believes that their marriage is what it once was, the doctor suggests that the couple reconcile temporarily until her memory begins to return. Eric is given a chance at a do-over. But can he possibly win back his wife’s heart before she sees the disaster of what their marriage has become?

Holmes successfully weaves in some story elements that would be soap-operish if not written with skill and capable hands. I was also impressed with the honest grit that Holmes realistically portrayed. The characters are an authentic mix of likeable and frustratingly selfish at times. Kyra is not as fleshed out as Eric because the story is written in his POV. There are themes in this novel that will make some want to avoid it as it hits heavy in areas that some Christian fiction sidesteps around. There are also Christian themes of redemption and forgiveness that might push some folks away as well. Quite a bit of time is covered in the novel, so there are months covered with just a few pages, but as much as that takes away from the intimacy, it does help with reader emotions. If you are seeking stories that stick with you and leave you with hope. This is one of those. Tired of the sugar-coated, sit-com-simple style of inspirational fiction that falls flat and leaves you hungry for honestly drawn, broken, but forgiven people struggling through life’s struggles by clinging to grace, then this is one to look into.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Monday, August 15, 2011

Ann Tatlock's Writing to a Post-Christian World ~ Reviewed

Writing to a Post-Christian World
By Ann Tatlock
Published by Lighthouse Publishing


Know your audience.

For the Christian writer today, this first rule of writing is imperative. Not only do you need to have something to say, but you need to know who's out there listening.

Over the past 50 years, our culture has undergone a monumental shift, pulling people into a whole new way of thinking. Gone is the idea that absolutes exist, to be replaced by the belief that everything is relative….including truth.

So what is truth today? Anything you want it to be. All paths lead to God. It doesn't matter what you believe, as long as you are sincere. Such thinking lies at the heart of our post-Christian, postmodern culture.

How do we as Christian writers respond to such a mindset? How do we present the one true Truth to a culture that celebrates diversity? In this concise, easy-to-read book, Ann Tatlock answers these questions and more:

* What is a biblical worldview?
* What is The Great Literary Conversation?
* How has relativism affected our culture?
* How has relativism affected the Church?
* What is postmodern literature?
* What is our greatest task as Christian writers?


I prefer fiction to non-fiction, since I'm not the brainiest of writers. But from the first paragraph, I was drawn into Tatlock's book. Written with a flowing narrative, she sprinkles in highlightable truths that resonated with the fiction-writer within. This was stuff I needed to know. I love how she used anecdotes to illustrate her points, making them "stick. " Not only did I devour the book, I learned. It's a must read for any Christian author. Novel Rocket and I give it a very high recommendation.

Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan, V.P./Sr. editor
Novel Rocket

Friday, August 12, 2011

Lorna Seilstad's A Great Catch ~ Reviewed

By Lorna Seilstad
Published by Revell
380 Pages

Back Cover:

She wants to change the world. He wants to change her mind.


I’ve seen Making Waves and A Great Catch book covers and they both have made me stop in my tracks and pick them up to look inside. When the opportunity came to receive a review copy of this book I jumped at the chance to read A Great Catch.

Life on Lake Manawa, Iowa in 1901 was amusing and humorous to read about. This novel was not all fluff, but showed what Emily Graham went thru in her fight to get women the right to vote. Not everyone wanted change including the women.

Emily is twenty two years old. Her Aunt’s Millie and Ethel and her Grandma Kate all are on a mission to get Emily married. The most important thing for a woman was to be married. Didn’t Emily understand it was more important than helping women to get the right to vote? After all Emily was twenty two now and some men did not want a woman that advanced in age!

Emily was determined to fight the good fight for the right to vote. She wanted to make her own decisions, think for herself, and not have to answer to anyone! She didn’t need someone to tell her what to do!

Grandma Kate tells Emily, “We all answer to someone. I answer to God, and so do you…Men and women are equal…But equal doesn’t mean identical. Men aren’t unnecessary; dear…your grandpa was a part of me. We faced the world together. That’s how God planned It.!”

Emily wasn’t going to let a man run her life, but what about God? Had she even asked Him about his plans for her life? Would He make her stop fighting for women’s rights? She was afraid to ask!

Then she literally bumps into Carter Stockton, recent college graduate, and a pitcher for the Manawa Owls baseball team; at the roller skating rink. Carter asks Emily out to the theatre along with her Aunts to see a play about women’s rights. She realizes Carter may not be the one for her – was he making fun of her passion for women’s rights by taking her to this play? Carter thinks she may not be the one for him as he realizes Emily is much too obsessed with the women’s rights movement by being the chapter president, writing articles about the subject and holding rally’s. She was willing to give up time with God to do this too!. God was his passion. That and baseball!

Sparks start to fly when Emily gets the idea to write the Bloomers Girls Team to play against a men’s baseball team in her hometown. She asks Carter if his team would and he agrees under one condition…Emily plays short stop on his team! Emily’s insecurities about being physically uncoordinated rise to the forefront and she hesitates. But then takes on the challenge to help in the women’s right to vote. She would do almost anything for the cause.

I enjoyed the historical aspect to the story very much. The author says, “The Bloomer Girls team was real and existed form 1890-1934. Not only was this team providing a form of entertainment but it’s main reason to exist was to show the world they could hit, field, slide and catch as well as any man!”

This author made me want to live on Lake Manawa, where life was simple, street cars, horses and walking were the main ways to get around. The town marveled at electricity and was thankful they had lights at night. The characters were believable, and made you want to hang around them. This author showed change wasn’t easy or welcome by men and women. Each were concerned about what would this change mean to their way of life, love and the future? I enjoyed Carters and Emily’s spiritual struggle. Even though times were very different their spiritual struggle is universal and reminded me of what’s really important in the scheme of life.

A Great Catch is a historical romance novel that gives an intriguing look at love, romance and marriage. I highly recommend this as a great summer read or any time! I’ll definitely be reading more from this author!

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

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dina Sleiman's Dance of the Dandelion ~ Reviewed

Dance of the Dandelion
by Dina Sleiman
WhiteFire Publishing
296 pages

Back Cover:

Love's quest leads her the world over.

Dandelion Dering was born a peasant in the English village of Arun, but her soul yearned for another life, another world. One filled with color and music, with adventure and passion . . . with more. Haunted by childhood memories, Dandelion determines to find a better existence than the life every peasant in the village contents themselves with. Even if her sweetheart William’s predictions prove true, and her journey leads straight to heartache.

From her sleepy hamlet to the intrigue of castle life, from the heart of London to the adventurous seas, Dandelion flees from the mistakes of her past, always seeking that something, that someone who will satisfy her longings.

Will Dandelion ever find the rhythm to her life's dance . . . or did she leave her chance for true love at home in Arun Village?


In Dance of the Dandelion, Dina Steiman writes with a beautiful, romantic prose perfectly suited for the time period she presents. From the first chapter, I was swept away to a world of dancing ladies and doting gentlemen, courting in the shade of a luxurious castle. I could visualize the sloping hills beneath the mythical castle, and young Dandelion nestled beneath it, staring longingly upon its towers.

I love stories that show the inner strength of women who long to rise above their circumstances. Dandelion’s challenges are further exasperated by the love she feels for William, a man who doesn’t share her ambitious desires.

Dandelion lives among peasants, destined to a life of poverty, yet she longs for more. She loves William, a young man so familiar he may as well have been etched in her hand, and by all accounts he is quite a catch—for a peasant. But Dandelion is determined to rise above her lowly status and desperately wants William to concur.

What haunts her most is not her lowly state, but fear of hunger—a sensation she’s all too familiar with. Living in the shadow of the castle, she longs to find employment among the royals, where food is plenty and life is easy. William tries to talk her out of it, knowing either her hopes and heart will be dashed, or her dreams will be realized and the glimmer of discontent already pervading her heart will spark into flame, devouring her love for him.

Dandelion doesn’t listen to William, and charges off to the castle, soon proving William’s fears true when she is rejected as a lowly, saucy peasant. She returns expecting to find a compassionate ear only to encounter a distant shoulder instead. Seeing her determination to fight for a better life, William begins to realize he will never be the man she desires. He is perfectly content to remain in the village, working his family’s land. Can Dandelion accept him and the life he offers, or will she throw it all away to chase after her dreams for better?

As I mentioned before, Dina writes beautifully, her voice so appropriate to the time period, I actually felt like a beautiful maid skipping through flowery meadows. Through Dandelion, she evokes dreams for better—for achievement and significance in her reader. I look forward to reading more of Dina’s work in the future.

Reviewed by: Jennifer Slattery

Broken Lives Saturated by Grace

Bonus Review:

Review by Michelle Griep

Dandelion Dering was born a peasant in the English village of Arun, but her soul yearned for another life, another world. One filled with color and music, with adventure and passion…with more.

Haunted by childhood memories, Dandelion determines to find a better existence than the life every peasant in the village contents themselves with. Even if her sweetheart William’s predictions prove true, and her journey leads straight to heartache.

From her sleepy hamlet to the intrigue of castle life, from the heart of London to the adventurous seas, Dandelion flees from the mistakes of her past, always seeking that something, that someone who will satisfy her longings.

If you like to hang out in castles with noblemen, or rub shoulders with peasants in a cozy village, then this is the book for you. Heroine Dandelion manages to lead a life that is all encompassing, from dirt-poor starvation to tapestry-filled luxury…and everything in between.

What I enjoyed most was the history lesson. Dance of the Dandelion is a visit to the chivalrous days of yore—in all its non-sanctimonious and smelly glory. Author Dina Sleiman doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to detailing what life was really like before indoor plumbing.

The plot keeps you guessing, wondering how in the world a happy ending will be accomplished. Without giving anything away, though, let me just say that the reader is ultimately satisfied.

This is Dina’s debut novel. I look forward to reading more of her work in the future.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Terri Blackstock's Vicious Cycle ~ Reviewed

Vicious Cycle
By Terri Blackstock
Published by Zondervan
ISBN# 978-0310250678
336 Pages

Back Cover

When fifteen-year-old Lance Covington finds an abandoned baby in the backseat of a car, he knows she's the newborn daughter of a meth addict he's been trying to help. But when police arrest him for kidnapping, Lance is thrust into a criminal world of baby trafficking and drug abuse. His mother, Barbara, looks for help from Kent Harlan---the man whom she secretly, reluctantly loves and who once helped rescue her daughter from a mess of her own. Kent flies to her aid and begins the impossible work of getting Lance out of trouble, protecting a baby who has no home, and finding help for a teenage mother hiding behind her lies. In this latest novel of suspense and family loyalty, bestselling author Terri Blackstock offers a harrowing look at drug addiction, human trafficking, and the devastating choices that can change lives forever.


Terri Blackstock pens a compelling novel depicting the epidemic young people are faced with today. I was thankful to receive a review copy of this dramatic, suspenseful story that could be taken from headlines today.

Crystal meth devastates more than the addicts’ body it also destroys everything the addict touches. Edith appreciated her mom and her brother Lance’s support this year as she tried to get off a drug that controlled everything about her and learn how to make it in the world clean and sober. Her demons had laid low at New Hope regeneration center. She could be fooled to think they were gone for good; she knew better. Biggest thing she learned was that she needed God’s help more than ever. Graduation day was near and returning to familiar stomping grounds terrified her.

Edith prayed for a girl she met at New Hope named Jill. She was pregnant, 15 years old, and addicted to Crystal Meth. She left the center one day and never came back. Edith liked Jill and could see how she was distracted by her addict brother and mom who didn’t want her to get well.

Jill got high the day she got home. Her mom gave her some drugs to relieve the pain. She was in so much pain and there were blood on her sheets. What was happening to her? She focuses on the bed and sees a little baby. Her baby! She wraps it up on a town and calls for her mom who used to be a nurse. She begs to be brought to the hospital! Her mom refuses and tells her not to worry!

As soon as Jill looks into the eyes of this beautiful baby her heart wells up with love and she desires to do more for her than her own mother. She thought of New Hope and the help she would need to break the vicious cycle her family has been on. She hoped for a way to save her baby from the horrific life she’s lived.

Terri Blackstock reveals the realistic side of being an addict, and what it takes to break free of the addicted life. Shattering the cycle of addiction takes a supporting family, support group and most of all a personal relationship with Jesus. Terri Blackstock does a brilliant job of getting into the heart and mind of a user and how the drug controls them in every way. I like how this author doesn’t leave the reader there in despair but shows there is hope in the middle of what seems an impossible situation. The addict and their family can celebrate recovery one day at a time with God’s help. This is a powerful book. I highly recommend reading this series! I’m loo
king forward to reading Terri’s next book.

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

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Nancy Moser's An Unlikely Suitor ~ Reviewed

An Unlikely Suitor
Nancy Moser
Paperback: 394 pages
Publisher: Bethany House (May 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0764207520


Lucy Scarpelli, an Italian dressmaker from New York, befriends socialite Rowena Langdon as she's making her summer wardrobe. It's an unlikely friendship, but one that Rowena encourages by inviting Lucy to the family mansion in Newport, Rhode Island. Grateful for Lucy's skill in creating clothes that hide her physical injury, Rowena encourages Lucy to dream of a better future. One day Lucy encounters an intriguing man on the Cliff Walk, and love begins to blossom. Yet Lucy resists, for what man will accept her family responsibilities? Rowena also deals with love as she faces a worrisome arranged marriage to a wealthy heir. And Lucy's teenage sister, Sofia, takes up with a man of dubious character. All three women struggle as their lives, and those of each unlikely suitor, become intertwined in a web of secrets and sacrifice. Will any of them find true happiness?


‘L’more domina sanza regole.’ Love rules without rules” (p. 318)

Nancy Moser has created a story in which love does rule without rules – in so many ways! Unlikely Suitor contains many unlikely relationships! So unlikely, in fact, that even the characters in the story don’t realize the full extent of their unlikelihood! The Scarpelli women have been divinely moved from the crowded, dingy apartment into living arrangements and jobs that are far better than ever imagined. However, the move causes their lives to intersect with a realm of society in which they are considered – somewhat less.

But the heart pays little mind to the social standing in this story, and love draws many unlikely couples together. How all of this works out – well, that is sometimes awkward, painful and confusing. You will have to allow yourself to enjoy being transported back to the Guilded Age and join the Scarpelli family on one incredible journey! You will enjoy every moment, and by the time you reach the last page, you will be completely satisfied! Bravo, Nancy Moser! This is a great novel!

Reviewed by: Kim Ford

Monday, August 08, 2011

T.L.Higley's Pompeii ~ Reviewed

By T.L. Higley
Published by B & H
ISBN# 978-1433668579
368 Pages

Back Cover:

Pompeii, a city that's many things to many people. For Cato, it's the perfect escape from a failed political career in Rome. A place to start again, become a winemaker. But when a corrupt politician wrongfully jails Cato's sister, he must oust the man from power to save her.

For Ariella, Pompeii is a means to an end. As a young Jew, she escaped the fall of Jerusalem only to endure slavery to a cruel Roman general. She ends up in Pompeii, disguised as a young man and sold into a gladiator troupe. Her anger fuels her to fight well, hoping to win the arena crowds and reveal her gender at the perfect time. Perhaps then she will win true freedom.

But evil creeps through the streets of Pompeii. Political corruption, religious persecution, and family peril threaten to destroy Ariella and Cato, who are thrown together in the battle to survive. As Vesuvius churns with deadly intent, the two must bridge their differences to save the lives of those they love, before the fiery ash buries Pompeii, leaving the city lost to the world.


I’d never read anything by T.L. Higley or about Pompeii before, so I was thrilled to receive a review copy of such a compelling and fascinating story. The author quickly thrusts the reader into the streets of Pompeii and introduces Ariella, a young Jewish girl running for her life.

I’m not a history buff by any means but I found myself captivated by a time in history where providing for your daily needs was a challenge, where people were bought and sold and women were men’s playthings or worse. It was a time when Roman society had become so numb to the special things in life. They could only feel the excitement of killing and the thrill of sex (not love my any means- for themselves or each other). Even their common criminals were sentenced to the arena simply to fill the demand for the sight of blood, and death! The crowd demanded more cruelty! More novelty- nothing satisfied them.

T.L. Highley takes the reader to June A.D. 79 here a gladiator troupe tries to provide entertainment in the arena. Ariella had a secret that was getting harder and harder to hide from the gladiators. Quinto Portius Cato just moved to Pompeii fleeing Rome and his political misfortune. All he wanted to do was grow a vineyard and sell the best wine in the land.

The people in Pompeii had other plans for Cato once they heard of his political experience. They wanted him to run against Maius, ruler of the land, in the next election. Maius was a corrupted political leader who controlled the town and its people. People in Pompeii wanted their freedom and felt Cato could give that to them.

Cato didn’t want any part of their plans until Maius went after him and his family and then it became personal. Soon it became an intense chess match between the two political candidates! Each set on winning the game. It sure wasn’t pretty.

Quinto Portius Cato marveled at Christians and their willingness to die for what they believed in. Cato ached for something so powerful, so important, something to live for – he felt empty!”

Ariella was a fighter too in more ways than one. She had fled Varerius in Jerusalem August 9th AD 70. She’d watched her family killed before her very eyes. She’d found a way of escape being a slave, there was no way she’d go back to that kind of life, not if she could help it. When Ariella got to Pompeii, evil crawled in the shadows and in the streets. She saw the political corruption, religious persecution and she wanted no part of it. She met a Christian man named Jeremiah, who told her, “Do not let them conquer your spirit child. The evil one toils to keep these people oppressed, obsessed with violence and lust. Do not let them pull you into the gutter – Evil has a way of multiplying! Watch out!” Ariella listened to this timely message.

T.L. Higley thrusts the reader back in time and has them experience fighting in the arena and how Gladiators train! I was awestruck and mesmerized by the horrific things that happened for entertainment purposes only. The author wrote scenes so vibrantly it seemed like a 3-D movie – with the action and drama seemingly leaping off the page. I felt as If I was there. It was amazing and horrendous all at the same time. I found myself holding my breath as I read about the fights and awaited the outcome. If I wasn’t reading I would have put my hand over my eyes!

The author wrote about the arena from the gladiators’ point of view and all they were thinking, feeling and seeing! Then she would in the next scene show the reader the arena from a character sitting in the audience! It was interesting to read what they saw out in the audience after reading what the gladiator had just experienced the scene before. What the audience sees is sometimes very different then what was actually happening in the arena.

T.L. Higley is an amazing writer, deep thinker and has a way of grabbing her readers attention, heart and scope of this time period that doesn’t sound so far from what we are living today. I loved how she brought history and this time period to life. I also enjoyed the way the author showed how Christians met in secret and how they enjoyed each in the Lord at their meetings. This was a book I couldn’t stop reading and one you won’t want to miss! I highly recommend it!

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network

Friday, August 05, 2011

Susan May Warren's Heiress ~ Reviewed

By Susan May Warren
Published by Summerside Press
ISBN-13: 978-1-60936-218-8


The beautiful heiress daughters of newspaper magnate August Pierce have been given everything their hearts desire. But what if they want only to be loved—without an enormous price tag attached?

When one daughter pursues a desirable marriage, she secures for herself a comfortable and glamorous life. But among the duties of privilege, will she find the happily-ever-after she seeks? Her sister rejects the trappings of wealth, choosing instead to build a new life on the still-untamed frontier. Will independence bring happiness, or has she left her heart behind in New York's glittering society?

Set in the opulent world of the Gilded Age, each woman discovers that being an heiress just might cost her everything—including the chance for true love.


Susan May Warren took a bold step with this novel and one I applaud. Gripping, this imaginative tale will leave you turning pages without pause. With unexpected twists and masterful storytelling, Warren has penned one of her best novels to date.

Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan, editor & V.P.
Novel Rocket

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Munn and Munn's How Huge the Night ~ Reviewed

How Huge the Night: A Novel [Paperback]
Heather Munn (Author), Lydia Munn (Author)
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications (March 9, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 082543310X


Fifteen-year-old Julien Losier just wants to fit in. But after his family moves to a small village in central France in hopes of outrunning the Nazis, he is suddenly faced with bigger challenges than the taunting of local teens.

Nina Krenkel left her country to obey her father’s dying command: Take your brother and leave Austria. Burn your papers. Tell no one you are Jews. Alone and on the run, she arrives in Tanieux, France, dangerously ill and in despair.

Thrown together by the chaos of war, Julien begins to feel the terrible weight of the looming conflict and Nina fights to survive. As France falls to the Nazis, Julien struggles with doing what is right, even if it is not enough—and wonders whether or not he really can save Nina from almost certain death.

Based on the true story of the town of Le Chambon—the only French town honored by Israel for rescuing Jews from the Holocaust—How Huge the Night is a compelling, coming-of-age drama that will keep teens turning the pages as it teaches them about a fascinating period of history and inspires them to think more deeply about their everyday choices.


“We have to be really, really careful. We have to stay off the road and cross at night.”
(p. 42)

There are some things that cannot be hidden by the night. Your nationality, your religion, your ethnic background, even your social status are clear to all have eyes to see. When Julien’s family moves from Paris to the small town of Tanieux it is evident to everyone that they are not local and only displaced by the war brewing along the Maginoux line. Family friends of German decent and Jewish background leave their son Benjamin with Julien’s family, and that only makes his differences all the more evident. Living in war time is troublesome enough, but for a teenage boy trying to fit into a strange school in a strange town…well, there are smaller, daily wars that rage in Julien’s world, and every one of them is significant and emotionally turbulent.

How Huge the Night captures the nuances and dangers of life in France during WWII. The setting of the small, rural village of Tanieux is an effective background for the emotional and sometimes physical turbulence brought to bear in a young boy’s life as the adults struggle with the economic and political stresses brought to bear by the war that rages with Germany. Like any young boy of the era, Juliene initially longs to fight and protect his family. However, his is soon consumed with just trying to manage the every day struggles that come as he tries to fit in among his peers.

Another plot line is woven amid the story about two young Austrian children who find themselves adrift amid strangers with they are abruptly orphaned. Trying to follow their father’s instructions becomes nearly impossible when they find themselves homeless and penniless on the streets of France. Will the people of Tanieux reach out to these young orphans or will they let the fears warring in their hearts keep them from showing basic human kindness as war rages around them?

This is a premier of the mother-daughter writing duo Heather and Lydia Munn. I eagerly await more stories from their pen! This is an excellent story and one readers will long remember!

Reviewed by: Kim Ford

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Pamela Ewan's Dancing on Glass ~ Reviewed

By Pamela Ewen
Published by B & H
ISBN# 978-0-8054-6430-6
Pages 352

Back Cover:

In the steamy city of New Orleans in 1974, Amalise Catoir sees Phillip Sharp as a charming, magnetic artist, unlike any man she has known. A young lawyer herself, raised in a small town and on the brink of a career with a large firm, she is strong and successful, yet sometimes too trusting and whimsical. Ama's rash decision to marry Phillip proves to be a mistake as he becomes overly possessive, drawing his wife away from family, friends, and her faith. His insidious, dangerous behavior becomes her dark, inescapable secret.

In this lawyer's unraveling world, can grace survive Ama's fatal choice? What would you do when prayers seem to go unanswered, faith has slipped away, evil stalks, and you feel yourself forever dancing on shattered glass?


I was thankful for the review copy of this haunting, suspenseful tale of misguided love and manipulation. I was definitely stirred by Amalise, her situation and how she struggled deep in her soul with trying to do the right thing! But what was the right thing? Her view of that was fading the more time she spent with Phillip.

Amalise is an energetic, hard working college student working her way through law school. She has unexpected feelings for Phillip when they first meet in the coffee bar she works at. He can’t stop looking at her and says, “I want to paint you and capture you for myself.” Amalise thinks this is a little odd but thinks it’s flattering and romantic at the same time. She hasn’t felt this way about anyone before.

She agrees to have him paint her, and is astounded by the time commitment! She wants it to be done and will do whatever it takes to finish it. Phillip is charming and says all the right things to slowly weave his web and draw Amalise to himself. She’s innocent and gets caught up in how much Phillip needs her and how broken hearted he is. She’s deceived into thinking she alone has the love he needs to be whole. She can’t let him down, after all isn’t that what God has called her to do, love the broken hearted? She would love him to Christ and fix his wounded heart. Surely she could do that. Wasn’t it everyone’s call to bring people to Christ?

She begins to change and her friends and family inquire about it, asking if she’s alright? Jude has a heart to heart talk with her and says, “Love and need are two very different things. A real man puts the woman he loves first in his life. He should cherish you above his own needs, protect you, and rejoice when you succeed. Remember the words, Amalise? “Love is patient, love is kind…love isn’t just about feeding a man’s needs.”

Amalise doesn’t listen to her friends she was a romantic at heart and thought it was sweet Phillip needed her. She learns the hard way that only God can fix broken hearts and fill the void inside every human! He is God and we are not! This author talks about very real issues here that are important.

Pamela states, “Although the characters are fictional the problem is real. The bond that held Amalise to Phillip was an illusion created by manipulation. Manipulation is usually hidden first by charm. In personal relationships a man or woman like Phillip consciously or unconsciously seeks someone with strength and compassion to fill a wounding void inside. Understanding and knowledge are the keys…not ALL such relationships reach the level of violent abuse but they create prisons just the same.”

This story could have been ripped from headlines, showing predators in our society and how charming they can be until they move in for the kill, one way or the other. Different characters in the book kept telling Amalise, “There’s just something not right about Phillip.” No one could tell what it was exactly, but I could sense the doom approaching – it was like listening to the haunting, throbbing music in the movie Jaws. Every time you heard it you knew something bad was ahead!

Once Amalise started down a path with Phillip she felt there was no returning to the life she once knew. She loved God but didn’t think she could ask him to forgive her for something she chose to do. She confided in a friend, “Jude was right about choices – this is my consequence – I deserve this.” She also decided she couldn’t tell her parents of the abuse because then they’d feel bad – she couldn’t put them through that. Marriage was forever right? She didn’t deserve another chance.”

Pamela showed how we get in more trouble when we try to play God, and not accept the forgiveness He freely gives. That’s where His Amazing Grace enters our lives. None of us are deserving yet, He loves us while we are in the middle of the pit, not when we are all cleaned up. I liked how the author got across that message. God is the God of the 100th chance! We are never stuck in the middle of abuse because God won’t forgive us or love us for what we’ve done. No, he’s there with arms open wide desiring us to run into them so He can love us through the hard situations and help us make right choices.

The author masterfully revealed multi-layers of a person getting manipulated and used. I was pleasantly surprised by the richness of Pamela’s characters and how real their struggles were. I was fascinated by this story. It’s deep, thought-provoking, and a powerful read you won’t want to miss.

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

Bonus Review:

Dancing on Glass is about a young woman named Amalise Catoir who is studying to be a lawyer in New Orleans.  She’s always been self disciplined, but when she meets artist Phillip Sharp, she is drawn to him for reasons she can't explain.  Slowly, he begins to manipulate her and cause her to compromise herself and beliefs, until he eventually talks her into marrying him.  As time progresses, he keeps dragging her down, but when he becomes abusive, her eyes are open to who he really is but she doesn't know how to escape.

When I first started reading this book I really didn't think it would hold my interest, but I found I had a hard time putting it down.  So many times throughout the book I found myself wanting to yell at her, because I could see the type of man Phillip was and wanted to warn her to get away.  I honestly didn't know how the story would end, with her escaping or with something tragic happening.

I found this book very interesting.  I would recommend it for someone that enjoys more modern fiction with some twists and turns in it.

Reviewed by: Sarah Porter

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Lisa Bergren's Waterfall ~ Reviewed

Book I in The River of Time Series
By Lisa T. Bergren
David C. Cook

Review by Michelle Griep

Most American teenagers want a vacation in Italy, but the Betarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives among the romantic hills with their archaeologist parents. Stuck among the rubble of medieval castles in rural Tuscany on yet another hot, dusty archaeological site, Gabi and Lia are bored out of heir minds…until Gabi places her hand atop a handprint in an ancient tomb and finds herself in fourteenth-century Italy. And worse yet, in the middle of a fierce battle between knights of two opposing forces.

Suddenly Gabi’s summer in Italy is much, much more interesting.

Time travel lovers rejoice! Then run—don’t walk—to your nearest bookseller and get yourself a copy of Waterfall. This is one thrill-ride to the past you’re not going to want to miss. Sword fights galore. Smokin’ hot Italian knights. Lords and Ladies. Castles and dungeons. Whew. I’m still breathless after having closed the back cover.

The tensions of medieval Italy are brought to life through author Lisa Bergren’s storytelling. Political intrigue and jockeying for power make for many twists and turns in the plot while staying true to the unrest of the period.

Gabi is a genuine, loveable heroine. She’s tough but vulnerable at just the right moments. Her love and faithfulness toward her family—even in the midst of teenage angst—is admirable.

Hero Marcello is everything plus a bag of chips. Strength. Integrity. Faith. Combine all that with drop-dead good looks and no wonder Gabi falls for him...hard. I did, too.

Warning: The end leaves you hanging. I’m just glad I have the next book to crack open right away.

Do yourself a favor and take a trip to Italy this summer via Waterfall. I highly recommend it.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Brandiyn Collins's Over the Edge ~ Reviewed

Over the Edge
Brandilyn Collins
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: B&H Books (May 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 143367162X


Torn from the front lines of medical debate and the author's own experience with Lyme Disease, Over the Edge is riveting fiction, full of twists and turns—and powerful truths about today's medical field.

Janessa McNeil’s husband, Dr. Brock McNeil, a researcher and professor at Stanford University's Department of Medicine, specializes in tick-borne diseases—especially Lyme. For years he has insisted that Chronic Lyme Disease doesn't exist. Even as patients across the country are getting sicker, the committee Brock chairs is about to announce its latest findings—which will further seal the door shut for Lyme treatment.

One embittered man sets out to prove Dr. McNeil wrong by giving him a close-up view of the very disease he denies. The man infects Janessa with Lyme, then states his demand: convince her husband to publicly reverse his stand on Lyme—or their young daughter will be next.

But Janessa's marriage is already rocky. She's so sick she can hardly move or think. And her husband denies she has Lyme at all.

Welcome to the Lyme wars, Janessa.


“Still no lightning. No warm healing through my body. Just a quiet though that this was right. That God would help. Regardless of my nightmare, He was worthy to be trusted.” (p. 185)

Brandilyn Collins has written her most chilling novel yet! Over the Edge is particularly chilling, because it deals with a very real war raging within the medical community today – Lyme Wars. Lyme disease is an infection carried by the deer tick, and the disease, if misdiagnosed and left untreated, can quickly annihilate and end a human life. What does this have to do with Brandilyn’s book? Only Brandilyn can take a deadly disease and create a motive, a scenario and a means to tie them together and write a believable, spine-tingling thriller that you will not be able to put down! The twists and turns will grab your heart-strings and never let go!!

I have followed Collins’ real-life drama of her battle with Lyme Disease, and I have simultaneously watched close relatives fight this same insidious battle. Misdiagnosis has almost cost my relatives their lives, and they have just recently found a doctor who recognizes the danger and has begun treatment. The Lyme Wars are real folks, and the scenario in Collins’ book is not as fictional as you might think. Doctors are risking their medical license every day to do battle against this very treatable disease in order to save lives.

Over the Edge is a terrific read, and I fully believe that lives will be forever changed by the information contained within this story! Talk about God using every circumstance in the believer’s life for their good and His glory! Over the Edge is the ultimate “A-Men!”

Reviewed by: Kim Ford