Monday, January 31, 2011

Travis Thrasher's Solitary ~ Reviewed



Solitary
Book I of the Solitary Tales
By Travis Thrasher
David C. Cook Publishing, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4347-6421-8

Reviewed by: Michelle Griep

When Chris Buckley moves to Solitary, North Carolina, he faces the reality of his parents’ divorce, a school full of nameless faces—and Jocelyn Evans. Jocelyn is beautiful and mysterious enough to leave Chris speechless. But the more Jocelyn resists him, the more the two are drawn together.

Chris soon learns that Jocelyn has secrets as deep as the town itself, secrets more terrifying than the bullies he faces in the locker room or his mother’s unexplained nightmares. He slowly begins to understand the horrific answers. The question is whether he can save Jocelyn in time.

This first book in the Solitary Tales series will take you from the cold halls of high school to the dark rooms of an abandoned cabin—and remind you what it means to believe in what you cannot see.

If you’re a Peretti or Dekker fan, here’s another author to add to your favorites list. Creepy. Intriguing. Sometimes downright chilling. Solitary is a solid scare-your-pants-off kind of book.

And I loved it.

Thrasher’s portrayal of high school angst is totally believable, right down to the dialogue between teens. In fact, so believable that I recommended it to my tenth grader. She read the book in two days, which is quite the thumbs-up from her.

I particularly liked how the hero, Chris, was skeptical about the entire situation at first. This made him all the more real of a character, because as a reader, I was skeptical myself.

Without giving anything away, my biggest grump was the ending. Just gotta say, I didn’t personally like it. I’m hoping, though, that the second book will redeem what happened. I have high hopes that it will.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Lisa Bergren's Claim ~ Reviewed


Claim, Homeward Trilogy Series #3
By: Lisa T. Bergren
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 400
Vendor: David C. Cook
Publication Date: 2010
ISBN: 143476706X

Description:

Sent west by their father to make a new life, the St. Clair siblings have done so-but hardly as he'd wished. Beautiful, headstrong Moira, after pursuing a stage career in Paris, has returned to Colorado-older, wiser, and much poorer-to see if there's anything left of an old relationship. Odessa and her husband, Bryce, are struggling to rebuild their ranch after a devastating winter. And then Nic turns up-broken, haunted, and sick about leaving his sisters.

At last the family is reunited. But Dominic is still at loose ends, seeking a peace that has always eluded him. In the satisfying conclusion of the Homeward Bound trilogy, Nic finally begins to understand how passionately he is loved-by God, his family, and a good woman.

Review:

Claim is the final book in The Homeward Trilogy. This book follows Nick, a brother to Odessa and Moira St. Clair. After spending his inheritance, he decides he wants to go back to his sisters, but he doesn’t want to return home penniless. In the meantime, he ends up becoming guardian to the young son of a friend who was killed in a tragic accident.

I really liked how action packed this book was. And I always enjoy when books are set in the Old West. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.

Reviewed by: Laura Porter

Thursday, January 27, 2011

DiAnn Mills's Pursuit of Justice ~ Reviewed


Pursuit of Justice (Call of Duty) [Paperback]
DiAnn Mills
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (September 7, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414320523

Description:

Special Agent Bella Jordan is assigned to investigate a series of murders in West Texas that are linked to the Spider Rock Treasure. Since she spent the first fifteen years of her life in this area, FBI authorities believe she can get the job done. What they don't know is that one of their prime suspects-a man who's been on their wanted list for years-is deeply connected to Bella's past.

The other prime suspect is Carr Sullivan, the man who owns the ranch where the murders occurred. Carr was once one of the wealthiest businessmen in Dallas and has a shady past a mile long. But it appears he's turned his life around. Can Bella trust him, or is he just trying to cover his tracks?

Review:

The third installment of DiAnn Mills Call of Duty series, Pursuit of Justice, combines romance, suspense and lost treasure on a West Texas ranch that is a haven to its former playboy owner, Carr Sullivan. Special Agent Bella Jordan has her sights set on capturing the man who has taken the lives of treasure hunters and Carr Sullivan fits the bill. DiAnn’s romantic suspense novels are always enjoyable with a solid combination of adventure and attraction between her well drawn characters. Bella and Carr have fascinating back stories which DiAnn utilizes well as they battle mutual suspicion and fascination. Much of the action takes place behind the scenes or without great detail which will appeal to the more sensitive suspense reader but I miss being more a part of the action. That being said, DiAnn is a skilful writer of appealing characters and her books are always on my wishlist so I’ll be looking out for her next suspense release, for sure!

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

James L Rubart's Book of Days ~ Reviewed



Book of Days
By James L. Rubart
Published by B&H Publishing Group
ISBN 978-14336-7151-7

Description: "You will lose your mind. When it starts happening...you must find the Book of Days."

When Cameron's dying father delivers this message, he brushes it off. Lose his memory? He's only twenty-five. Find a book that doesn't' even exist. Foolishness. Nothing more than the product of his father's dementia.

But now, eight years after his father's death, it's happening.. Chunks of Cameron's life are just—gone. Even memories of his wife, killed two years ago, have slipped away. Could it be...? Is his father's eerie prediction coming true?

Desperate, Cameron determines to fulfill his father's last wish. But when a lead takes him to the small town of Three Peaks, Oregon, Cameron realizes dark secrets are at work. The townspeople, warm as apple pie at first, turn cold as liquid nitrogen when Cameron mentions the Book. As his mind works against him, Cameron discovers that friends may be enemies. And the one person Cameron can't stand? She might be his strongest ally.

But there are others seeking the Book. Others who will stop at nothing to get it. And they're closer than Cameron ever imagined...

Review

Wow! Fast paced and well-crafted, I couldn't put this thriller down. I love it when I find an allegorical thread woven beneath the surface of an exciting book. Like Rooms, Book of Days robbed me of a night's sleep. James Rubart is a Master Storyteller. Novel Journey and I highly recommend Book of Days—it's a 5 star read!

Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan, editor
Novel Journey




Bonus Review:

I was thankful for receive a review copy of such an intriguing and thought provoking book. James L. Rubart brings up an interesting topic I hadn’t really thought about before. I hadn’t thought about the idea of recording life in a book for all to see. What kind of life am I recording? What happens to our memories? And what would someone give to be the owner of the book of days which held a person’s past, present and future? James brings up great questions.

This book reminded me of an Indiana Jones movie where he’s in search of the Holy Grail. There were so many clues and so many set backs in his quest. Cameron reminds me of Harrison Ford and his passion of hunting for archeological relicts. I liked the suspense, drama, intrigue and how this book made me think about things deeper than just a fun fiction story. After reading this novel, I truly think it’s a blessing none of us know when our last day on earth will be. I hadn’t thought of the blessing it is that we don’t know when our last hour on earth is. I should face every day as if it were my last. James reminds me I should take the time to stop and smell the flowers; love to the fullest and not waste the precious time I’ve been given. Cameron’s near death experience changed him forever and increased his desire to find the Book of Days.

Jason Judah’s followers believe and worship the Book of Days, even though no one’s seen it. Cameron, a film production man, is in search of this book and questions Jason Judah and Tricia Stone. He tells them both that his father and wife have seen the book and read it as children. They both urged him to find it for their sake and his. Cameron wanted to fulfill their wishes but has a personal reason of his own for wanting the book. Why wouldn’t anyone tell him what they knew about the book and where it was?

Tricia responds to Cameron’s question about the book being real? “A lot of nice people believe in Bigfoot, and they can show you a great deal more evidence than anyone can show for a book with the past, present and future recorded between its cover….It also doesn’t make Big foot real or a book that exists only in the spiritual realm real either.”

“So, the Book of Days is a hoax?”

“Not a hoax, a fable. A made-up story Jason and his followers have tried to turn into a religion.

Millions of people buy books and believe the message. They are spiritually starving, so when a book like that arrives, promising to fill their empty souls, the unsuspecting lap it up like a starving cat in front of a bowl of micro waved milk….be careful in your search. That book will bring you nothing but death, Cameron.”

Cameron scratched his head, “How can a book that doesn’t exist bring death?”

Good question. On one hand, Cameron runs into people that think the book isn’t real, but a fable. On the other hand, people think the book is real and his search for it will bring him death. Who should he believe?

I enjoyed the topics this book made me think about. I cared for these characters, especially Cameron and Annie. In between the suspense and drama there’s a little bit of romantic tension between Cameron and Annie, who both have big careers and live on opposite sides of the world but are both in search for the same book, The Book of Days, for many different reasons. This is the first book I’ve read by this author it won’t be the last. I can’t wait to read his first book Rooms; you’ll want to read this book and look for the next book he writes. I know that I will.

Reviewed by: Nora St. Laurent
The Book Club Network


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Julie Klassen's The Girl in the Gatehouse ~ Reviewed



The Girl in the Gatehouse
By Julie Klassen
Bethany House Publishers, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0708-2



Review by: Michelle Griep


Banished from the only home she’s ever known, Mariah Aubrey hides herself away in an abandoned gatehouse on a distant relative’s estate. There she supports herself and her loyal servant the only way she knows how—by writing novels in secret.


When Captain Matthew Bryant leases the estate, he is intrigued by the beautiful girl in the gatehouse. But there are many things he doesn’t know about this beguiling outcast. Will he risk his plans—and his heart—for a woman shadowed by scandal?

Attention all historical lovers: this is the book for you. Author Julie Klassen takes the reader on a journey to early 1800’s England. Seriously. Her descriptive capabilities bring this era to life in a very real fashion.

What I liked most about Girl in the Gatehouse is the way Klassen brings the plight of women to the forefront of the story, and not just in the heroine’s life. However, I must admit that I did enjoy the pluckiness of main character Mariah in spite of her dire situation.

If you’re an Austen fan, you’ll definitely enjoy this new Klassen addition.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Jenny B. Jones's Save the Date ~ Reviewed


Save the Date
By Jenny B Jones
Published by Thomas Nelson
ISBN# 978-1-59554-539-8
311 Pages

Back Cover:


When Alex and Lucy pick out wedding invitations, they wonder if they can be printed in vanishing ink.

Former NFL star Alex Sinclair is a man who has it all--except the votes he needs to win his bid for Congress. Despite their mutual dislike, Alex makes Lucy a proposition: pose as his fiancée in return for the money she desperately needs. Bound to a man who isn't quite what he seems, Lucy will find her heart on the line--and maybe even her life. When God asks Alex and Lucy to scrap their playbook and follow his rules, will they finally say, "I do"?

Review:

Main Character Lucy's best friend Morgan says, “Is this a private mental break down or can anyone join in?”

I choose to join in the fun and you will too when it comes to reading this and any one of Jenny B. Jones’s books. She has a gift of drawing the reader quickly into a world she’s created and has you sympathizing with her characters while learning a thing or two. I was so thankful for the review copy of such a brilliant book.

Lucy is the director of Saving Grace home for girls. Donations were down and time was running out on her lease. Alex is in the middle of a heated campaign and needed Lucy’s help with the election process. Alex saw Lucy had a passion for Saving Grace and had the potential to help him win the election.

“Alex, do you know what Saving Grace is? Did you know in our country wards of the state are considered adults at eighteen? As soon as they graduate high school, many of them are forced to leave the foster care system. They become instantly homeless. With little help, no life skills. The girls at the home have real hopes and dreams just like the rest of us if given a chance. Saving Grace is their chance."

Alex has a plan and a marriage proposition for Lucy. They could help each other. It would be strictly a business deal. It reminded me of The Princess Diaries, where Anne Hathaway learns she is next in line to the throne and starts Princess Lessons. Lucy is not studying to be a princess but she has to learn about political matters and who’s who to get along at social functions she attends without Alex. How would the doors stay open for her girls at the home? Could she even entertain Alex’s proposal? That was the question. Could she pull off what he was requesting? She’s despised Alex since high school. He knew what she thought about him. That he was one of those rich kids that could fix anything with money. She didn’t mingle with his kind. Alex had to convince her this could work, that he could do. There was a lot of work ahead and they both knew how much after Alex’s questioning, that went something like this:

“Lucy do you know anything about football?”

“You toss a ball around and throw people to the ground. What else is there to know?”

“….if we’re going to do this I think I should know everything about each other. Don’t you agree?

"I’ll send you a memo."

"No we’re going to have to get to know each other the old fashioned way. Talking . Spending time together. Texting.”

Oh, God help her, let the games begin! Alex seeks the help of Clare in educating Lucy in political matters and manners so she does well at campaign dinners and events. This reminded me of Julie Andrews trying to teach Anne Hathaway manners and policies of running a country. Hysterical!

No one can describe situations like Jenny or create characters you can totally relate to. Make sure you set aside time to enjoy every minute of this book. I think Save the Date is Jenny’s best novel she’s written so far. Not only will you laugh out-loud, have your heart hurt at certain parts, but the important message in the book will remind you that the only things worth living for are faith, family and friends. I highly recommend this book and will be doing just that to my book club.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network


Bonus Review:

You know that wonderful anticipation you feel as you open up the wrapper of your favourite chocolate to reveal that all the chocolaty goodness inside? Well, a Jenny B Jones novel will give you that same feeling without any of the calories ~ what could be better?! Save the Date is a gorgeous story overflowing with witty repartee, feisty moments and plenty to tickle the funny bone as well as touch the heart. I adore Jenny's gift for creating authentic, down to earth characters who battle pride, anger and impatience but also reflect generosity of spirit, tenderness and compassion. The conflict between Lucy and Alex is refreshingly genuine as their prejudices collide and their slow journey towards like and then something more is enchanting and entertaining. Can't wait to unwrap more fabulous novels from one of the most talented writers I know!

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet


Bonus Review:

Jenny B. Jones has joined my list of favorite authors with Save the Date. Though filled with laugh-out-loud moments, it carries a deep message for all women. Lucy, one of the best characters I've read, continues to linger in my mind. I didn't want the story to end. Her other characters are equally memorable. Save the Date is a book I couldn't put down. Novel Journey and I give it our highest recommendation: a 5-star read.

Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan, editor
Novel Journey

Bonus Review:

Though this storyline seemed highly improbable to me, I found myself enjoying this book. It's the classic story of two people who hate each other hating so much that they fall in love. Alex is a former NFL star, 'ladies man', and now wanna be Congressman who needs to change his public image. Lucy is a eccentric 30 something post foster care girls home director who doesn't have enough funding to keep Saving Grace (the girls home) open. What starts out as a business proposition quickly turns into much more...and Alex ends up coming to terms with the guilt in his past....while Lucy finds her self worth and identity; each helps the other draw closer to Jesus, the only one who can totally heal them both. With plenty of laughs and along the way, I ended up enjoying this book.


Reviewed by: Rachael Schnitker




Another Bonus:


I nearly missed Save the Date, thinking it was another “fluff romance.” Drawn to a heroine involved in the lives of foster girls, I picked up the novel with meager enthusiasm. By page two, I was hooked. By chapter three, my family began to stare at my frequent bouts of laughter. Jenny B. Jone’s witty, sarcastic humor left me completely unprepared for the run-for-a-tissue moments that followed. Few novels can take me from giggles to tears then back to giggles again, yet Jenny B. Jones roller-coastered my emotions on numerous occasions.


I loved each one of her characters, from their Star-Wars-loving quirks, to their riotous remarks, Lucy being no exception. Like her 1950’s counterpart, Mrs. Ricardo, Lucy is uncouth, clumsy, and often manages to entangle herself in quite a mess. But beneath her almost goofy (yet beautiful) exterior hides a girl with a heart as big as the disasters she creates.


And then there’s Lucy’s boyfriends, two men as different as chocolate and bananas, yet equally inviting. Although I longed to hate Alex, her fiance√© for hire, I found myself rooting for him instead. Matt, poor Matt, Mr. Tried-and-true, predictability, left me equally convicted. He reminded me of a lost puppy dog robbed of his bone. Needless to say, I understood why Lucy tripped over her words and her feet so often. In the end, I found Save the Date to be an emotionally satisfying novel able to evoke a gamut of feelings, often in a single page. Ironically, the novel I nearly passed up became my favorite read for 2011.


Reviewed by: Jennifer Slattery

Friday, January 21, 2011

Jeff Nesbit's Peace ~ Reviewed



PEACE
By Jeff Nesbit
Published by Summerside Press
ISBN# 978-1609360436
367 Pages


Back Cover:


In this first book in the Principalities and Powers series, Israel has just attacked Iran’s nuclear facilities, triggering a chain of potentially cataclysmic events around the planet. Will leaders and the "salt of the earth" - great and small - be able to intervene before events spin out of control? Nash Lee, an NGO entrepreneur, is determined to make a difference through his worldwide ivillage network. Kim Grace, a nuclear scientist imprisoned in North Korea’s secret Camp 16, knows the truth about the devastating technology she helped develop. Anshel Gould, the brilliant chief of staff at the White House, has created a radical peace plan based on the long-forgotten UN proposal for Palestine after the Second World War. But is there a way to stop what seems unstoppable? What Iran, Israel, North Korea, and other earthly principalities and powers decide next could lead to global confrontation. . . .

Based on extensive research about the coming global conflicts surrounding Israel and the leaders who will shortly play important roles in those conflicts, the Principalities & Powers series also confronts the biggest issue facing the Christian church today—its historical role as the "salt of the earth," preserving the planet from corruption at critical moments in world history.


Review:

In the back of the book there’s a Q & A section with the author that will make your hair stand at attention, make your heart race and will also bring the reader to their knees at the urgency to pray for peace in Israel. I’m thankful to have received a review copy of such a timely book. Through the interview, one realizes just how real most of the events in Peace are and some are happening right now.

The author says, “At no other time in history have the stakes been so high. Individuals and nations-states contend for power and control of the earth, and Israel is at the very center struggle.” Jeff Nesbit has been a national journalist for many years. Who better to write Peace and give us an insight through eyes that have been in the very locations he describes. Jeff pens a master chess match with very powerful pieces on this board of life, playing a dangerous game, with all its members racing to take over the world. There is no do-over button in this game...only massive destruction.

The author answers questions such as "Is a Fisson-Fusion-Fission Doomsday bomb like the one in the novel built by North Korea – really possible?" Unfortunately, it is possible…..

"Is Iran, in fact, building secret uranium-enrichment facilities inside revolutionary guard compounds throughout Iran?" Yes, in at least one instance….

"Is it really possible to develop a world wide text-message network with data bases, media and messaging that work even in repressive, totalitarian countries?" Yes, absolutely….

"Would Israel really consider the use of tactical nuclear weapons to destroy Iran’s nuclear weapons plants bunkered inside Iran’s revolutionary guards’ compounds?" According to published reports in the Times of London…Israel has drawn up plans to use tactical nuclear weapons…

When I look at the map inside the book I’m always amazed at the size of Israel and the fighting that’s gone on there. Alas, this is a Holy war and the fight is against principalities and powers, not flesh and blood! It’s a fascinating and scary read when you realize most of the information in this book is real and/or close to happening soon.

This a book you can’t rush through or you’ll be lost. The author marks the beginning of each chapter so the reader knows where this chapter will take place. I had to stay focused in order to grasp all the author wanted to share. I’m not a history buff nor do I daily keep up with current events, so I struggled a little and consulted my husband, who is on top of current affairs, to verify many points in this book that didn’t seem real to me. But to my dismay, they were. Jeff Nesbit was a national journalist and the director of public affairs in Washington, D.C. He sees and understands the global picture, has seen and experienced far more than he’s put in this book I’m sure and explains the big picture of world events in a very unique and interesting way. This is the first book in the series...oh, my, buckle up your seat belt and get ready for his second book. I’m sure it will prove to be just as enlightening and make the reader realize that through technology the planet is a very small place; there are eyes and ears tracking information everywhere! It also showed me that we need to pray for those in authority, that they can decipher this information and determine what is “real”. That is the rub!


Reviewed by:Nora St.Laurent

The Book Club Network

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Chuck Black's Sir Rowan and the Camerian Conquest



#6: Sir Rowan and the Camerian Conquest
By: Chuck Black
Paperback
Number of Pages: 208
Vendor: Multnomah Books
Publication Date: 2010
ISBN: 160142129X

Description
Sir Rowan is the most decorated tournament knight in Cameria, but when he is attacked and left for dead, his world collapses. Betrayed and lingering at death's door, only a bizarre vision of his Prince and the help of a woman dedicated to the King keeps him alive. As Rowan heals, he finds new purpose in life through service to his King. But his beloved land of Cameria has fallen victim to the tyranny of the Dark Knight.

Rowan's countrymen need his help taking their cities back from the enemy, but all is not as it appears. The mysterious Sir Lijah insists Rowan's purpose lies elsewhere-far away from Cameria, in an ancient city and for an ancient cause. Rowan's destiny is greater than he ever imagined. The final battle with the Dark Knight approaches, and he must choose where he will fight. Will he discover his true identity and purpose as a Knight of the Prince, or will the Dark Knight claim victory for eternity?

Review:

A work of art. Chuck Black's Sir Rowan and the Camerian Conquest has yet again topped his series with a spellbinding plot and an unforgettable finish. The Camerian Conquest is a story of a boy who had nothing, obtained everything, then lost it all as the victim in an evil plot against the Prince. But as any Knight of the Prince would do, he rises to the occasion and risks everything he has for the will or the prince...including his life. It's a story of loyalty to the true King. A story that concludes his series with a final hurrah. The KING reigns! And His Son!

Reviewed by: Reid Ausband - Teen Reviewer

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Martha Rogers's Becoming Lucy ~ Reviewed



Becoming Lucy, Winds Across the Prairie Series #1
By: Martha Rogers
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 304
Vendor: Realms
Publication Date: 2010
ISBN: 159979912X

Description:

After her parents' deaths, 17-year-old heiress Lucy Bishop takes refuge on her aunt and uncle's ranch in Barton Creek, Oklahoma. If it weren't for ranch hand Jake Starnes, the genteel young woman wouldn't survive the backbreaking work. But a dark secret torments him. Can Jake face his past before somebody claims Lucy's hand---or her life?



Review:

Becoming Lucy is about a young lady named Lucinda. After her parents are killed in a buggy accident, she goes to live with her aunt and uncle on a ranch in Oklahoma. In the meantime, she meets a young man named Jake, and though they take a liking to each other, he has a past that he is hiding from her. At the same time, Lucinda’s uncle from her father’s side is trying to kill her because she is due an inheritance when she turns 18.

This story is very well written. I like how it shows life on a ranch in the late 1800’s. I like how it showed the amount of faith and trust that people had in God.

Reviewed by: Laura Porter

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tammy Barley's Faith's Reward ~ Reviewed




Faith’s Reward by Tammy Barley
Published by Whitaker House
ISBN: 978-1603741101
336 pages


Back Cover:


The year 1865 starts out as a nightmare come true for Jessica Bennett. Even though she is with child-an answer to heartfelt prayers-the cattle she and her husband, Jake, fought to save from drought the summer before now face the threat of freezing to death. Her fears worsen when Jake contracts pneumonia.

Springtime brings trials of a different kind-the snowmelt causes the ranch to thrive so much that Jake must sell off the last of their cattle to make room for their horses and the young foals to be born. In the meantime, Jess endeavors to recover her rightful inheritance, which mysteriously disappeared from the bank. When she discovers a link between the banker and a group of murderous Unionists, who continue to target Southerners even though the war is over, Jake launches an undercover investigation.

The conspiracy runs deeper and wider than either of them could have imagined. Jess must put her life-and the life of her unborn child-at risk to stop the ringleader and save the lives of many others. Yet, Jess refuses to give up hope in the God she serves-a God of love who often provides above and beyond our greatest dreams.


Review:

Tammy Barley’s Faith’s Reward grabbed me from page one. She wrote by far the most intriguing first page I have ever read. The novel, set in Northern California in 1865, opens with Jessica Bennet jolting upright in bed after having a frightening premonition. Wind rattles against window panes, cold seeps through glass, and darkness enshrouds her, heightening the tension of the scene. Beside her, the bed is empty, which can only mean one thing—her husband is out in the storm, fighting to save their cattle during a bitterly cold blizzard.

Despite her pregnancy, Jessica hurries outside, driven by fear for her husband and concern for their already diminished cattle. While ranch hands works to chisel cattle from beneath sheets of ice, her husband grows increasingly sick—the storm has given him pneumonia. It isn’t long before Jessica’s fear is replaced with panic as she realizes his chances of survival are limited.

I loved all the homeopathic remedies Jessica and her ranch aids used in their effort to save Jessica’s ailing husband. It was clear Tammy spent a great deal of time researching medicinal practices of this period, and during the pneumonia scenes, the details were effectively woven into the story without jolting the reader. I also appreciated the tender love Jessica shared with her husband and their obvious faith. Each character presented came alive and Jessica’s tender yet headstrong nature created a dynamic woman that was easy to relate to.

On numerous occasions, Tammy’s unique word choices and colorful phrases amused me. Visual detail was seamlessly woven into the story, creating rich images in the reader’s mind. However, there was a considerable amount of backstory was provided, especially in the first chapter, and at times the dialogue and thought tags pulled me from the story. Yet despite the over-abundance of tags and occasional information intrusion, I found the story line engaging. I empathized deeply with Jessica and her husband and wanted to see Mr. Bennet overcome the odds, living to see the birth of his child.

Reviewed by: Jennifer Slattery


Monday, January 17, 2011

Vicki Hinze's Deadly Ties ~ Reviewed



DEADLY TIES
By Vicki Hinze
Published by Multnomah
ISBN# 978-1601422064
336 Pages



Back Cover:


Her enemy will stop at nothing for control … and everything is not enough

A horrific crime shatters Lisa Harper’s idyllic childhood. Her father is dead and her desperate mother, Annie, quickly marries Dutch Hauk, an abusive monster who soon reveals his hatred for Lisa. To protect her, Annie defies her ruthless husband and forfeits custody to a trusted friend. Enraged, Dutch vows to keep Annie and Lisa apart—and he does. Years later, though keenly aware of Dutch’s evil intent, Lisa and her mother seize a chance to be a family, safe in a home where love dwells. But they fail to fathom how far Dutch will go to keep his vow.


Determined to control his women, Dutch proves resourceful. His associates in crime are feared at the highest levels across the globe—and for Lisa they plan a fate worse than death. Yet she too has formidable connections: ones like former Special Operations officer Mark Taylor. Burdened by his own traumatic past, Mark has loved Lisa from afar. Now, for Lisa and her mother to survive, Mark must risk his life—and even more difficult for him, he must trust God—as one question haunts them all: Can Mark and Lisa untangle these deadly ties before it’s too late?



Review:


I liked Forget Me Not, the first book in this series and looked forward to receiving a review copy of Deadly Ties. Vicki pens a very powerful, suspenseful and nail biting tale I couldn’t stop reading. A few characters from Forget Me Not returned in this book in a minor way, which I enjoyed.

This book reminded me of a 007 movie. Nina – Nihilists in Anarchy is a bad international organization whose members were dedicated to making money any way they saw fit. Nina did whatever to whomever for the right price!

Taylor was a member of The Shadow Watchers, an elite highly specialized unit; meant to protect the innocent. He and his men were very aware of the Nina organization and were working on bringing it down. Taylor was a family friend of Annie and Lisa, but hoped to be more than that to Lisa some day. “Taylor, Dutch (my stepfather) will do anything to avoid losing. If that means killing me, he’ll kill me.” Lisa says and prays, “Help me Lord; I can’t save mom or myself on my own. Please help”

Taylor and his team try to protect Lisa as she does what it takes to help bring the Nina down from the inside out! Along the way, memories of times past come flooding into Lisa’s mind. Memories that were best left buried. Lisa starts to battle demons from the past and the present. Only by the grace of God, prayers and the unconditional love of a man, could Lisa make it through such horrific times.

Annie is a mom doing what she can to protect her 20 something daughter Lisa, from her abusive husband. Annie’s whole world was forever changed in a flash and is angry at God, why didn’t He send her a sign, a warning? Annie says this, “Why, God? Why didn’t you send me at least one bad feeling? Couldn’t you spare me even one piddling stomach flutter? I’ve been loyal, obedient. Why didn’t I get something?”

Lisa, Annie’s daughter, hated her mom’s situation, but when she graduated from medical school, things would change. She promised her mom that. She couldn’t stand to see her mom live the way she did. Meanwhile, she would help Taylor take down Nina anyway she could.

Deadly Ties is a riveting, suspenseful, action adventure novel with a believable faith-challenging message not only for Vicki's characters, but for the reader as well. Vicki Hinze quickly captured my attention, heart and emotions in this fascinating tale of pain, healing, forgiveness and second chances. I enjoyed the colorful characters and the sweet, tender and playful love story woven in the middle of this compelling, powerful drama. I couldn't put it down. I'm anxiously awaiting the next book in this series.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network

Friday, January 14, 2011

Jamie Carie's The Snowflake ~ Reviewed


The Snowflake
Jamie Carie
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: B&H Books (October 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1433669366



Description:


In the wilds of the Alaskan gold rush, 1897, Ellen Pierce discovers a man she didn't know existed and a renewed dependence on God in a place called loneliness. She'd lost everything-family, her closeness with God, her heart.until the crystal blue eyes of a leader of men stepped up and asked her one question. Will she join the trek to Dawson or stay the winter on an ice-locked steamship full of strangers?

Buck Lewis is folk lore in the flesh, but his heart has been rendered asunder. In the land of snowflakes two roads converge. Will he choose the road less traveled?

Review:

Known for her intense historical romances, Jamie Carie returns with her first novella, The Snowflake, a Christmas story you will not want to miss. With the wild frontier of Alaska as much a character of the book as Ellen Pierce and Buck Lewis, Jamie Carie creates an atmosphere that swirls with snow, danger, heartbreak and redemption. Battling the harsh elements and an attraction tainted by Buck’s tragic past, Ellen fights for survival and for Buck’s heart. Skilfully drawing her characters, the wild landscape and Dawson City, Jamie has once again created an intriguing tale of adventure, passion and perseverance against a backdrop of adversity and a journey of spiritual renewal. For anyone who collects Christmas stories or loves a moving romance, The Snowflake is a must have book of the season!

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Shelley Shepard Gray's Spring's Renewal~ Reviewed




Spring's Renewal, Seasons of Sugarcreek Series #2
By: Shelley Shepard Gray
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 256
Vendor: Avon Inspire
Publication Date: 2010
ISBN: 0061852368

Description:

Scarred from a fire when she was small, Clara has resigned herself to living alone and caring for her mother. Believing that no man will be able to see past her scars, Clara has taken up teaching to support herself and her mother. When Tim Graber arrives in Sugarcreek, he doesn't fit in. But everything changes when he meets Clara. He appreciates her quiet nature and her loving way with children. When tragedy strikes, will Tim and Clara have the faith to risk everything for a chance at true love?

Review:

SPRING’S RENEWAL is the second book in the Seasons of Sugarcreek series. It focuses on an Amish schoolteacher named Clara. At a very young age, she was badly burned on one side of her face as well as down her arm, resulting in severe scarring. After taking care of her mother for most of her adult life, with no prospects of marriage, she has given up all hope of finding love…until Tim Graber comes to town.

I really enjoyed this book, and found myself wishing that I had book one so I knew what led up to the events in this book. Shelley Gray did a wonderful job of making Clara a lovable character to all who met her. One of the best aspects about this book is how, through Clara, the reader learns about inner beauty. Clara, despite her scars, is a beautiful woman on the outside, but an even more beautiful woman on the inside. She is a woman who truly loves and trusts the Lord, and does her best to be helpful to those around her. I found myself rooting for her from the very beginning.

This was a wonderful book, and I'm anxious to see how the story continues in book three!

Reviewed by: Sarah Porter

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Chuck Black's Sir Quinlan and the Swords of Valor ~ Reviewed



Sir Quinlan and the Swords of Valor #5 Kingdom Series
By: Chuck Black
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 208
Vendor: Multnomah Books
Publication Date: 2010
Dimensions: 8.00 X 5.19 (inches)
ISBN: 1601421281

Description:

Sir Quinlan leaves his boyhood friend to serve the Prince, fighting a battle darker and more intense than any he's ever known. The mysterious Sir Baylor recruits him into the ranks of an elite unit of knights known as the Swords of Valor, but when tragedy strikes and everyone blames Quinlan, the Swords of Valor disband, ending a legacy of heroic deeds.

Alone and despairing, Quinlan wanders the kingdom, fleeing his past. His providential encounter with Taras, a mysterious Silent Warrior and former trainer of Valor Knights, offers Quinlan a chance to redeem himself and learn the ways of the secret warriors.

The training is grueling, and just when Quinlan seems to have left his failures behind, he receives an impossible challenge from the Prince-one that will force him to face his past.and the mighty men who blame him for the tragedy that ruined them. Can Quinlan reunite the Valor Knights in time to save the people from the Dark Knight's evil plot to rule the Kingdom of Arrethtrae, or will the Valor Knights lose the most important battle of all?

Review:


I have been reading Chuck Black's books about the Kingdom of Arrethtrae since my friend introduced me to them 4 years ago. From his first six books The Kingdom Series to his more recent series The Knight's of Arrethtrae. With every new book he writes I ask myself how he can write so many books about these knights and not encounter repetition in his books. And every time I am even more impressed with Black's ability to keep his stories interesting. Sir Quinlan and the Swords of Valor is a riveting story of a small, insignificant young man who is shaken out of his day to day life by the mysterious and elusive truth that he is so eager to discover. But what he finds will change him forever. I have loved and enjoyed Black's books since the first day I started reading them, and this one is by far my favorite. 5 out of 5. The King Reigns! And His Son! Bravo, Mr. Black.


Reviewed by: Reid A. Teen Reviewer

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Vicki McDonough's Second Chance Brides ~ Reviewed


SECOND CHANCE BRIDES

By Vicki McDonough
Published by Barbour
ISBN# 978-1-60260-648-7
319 Pages


Back Cover:


Fans of The Anonymous Bride, will feel for Shannon O’Neil and Leah Bennett who are stranded in Lookout, Texas, without husbands or future plans. Thankfully, the marshal has ordered the rascally Corbett brothers to pay for the women’s lodging at the boardinghouse, but will the brothers’ idea of hosting Saturday socials really bring these women the kind of loves they long for? Will Shannon choose to marry just for security? Will Leah reject love when the challenges mount?


REVIEW:

I was thankful and glad to receive a review copy of Second Chance Brides, it’s the sequel to The Anonymous Bride, which I really enjoyed. Second Chance Brides starts with a wedding the whole town is cheering about and so is the reader. The mail-order brides, Shannon and Leah, who are introduced in the first book, are witnessing the marriage of a man they were meant to marry. The whole reason they came out to Texas was to marry this God-fearing Marshall, but now they’re forced to find work and support themselves or return home. The Corbett brothers are responsible for this mess and feel bad that they brought these ladies here under false pretenses. They want to help them in some way...but how?

This sequel was just as much fun to read as the first book with all of the same characters I enjoyed -- the Marshall and Rachel, along with their daughter, Jack; Shannon and Leah, who are back in a big way and struggling with where to work and whether to pursue marriage. They both want to marry for love. Oh, there were lots of offers from men to marry them - to be a live-in cook and maid, but both wanted more from their lives. But would they get it?

Thanks Vicki, for a fun look at life in Texas when the land was young, times were tough and life was very different. I appreciated the authors’ spiritual thread and humor. This is a book I devoured and had so much fun reading. You’ll enjoy Vicki’s fun and memorable characters, along with a story that kept me entertained and thankful I live in this time period.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network



Monday, January 10, 2011

Ronie Kendig's Digitalis ~ Reviewed


Digitalis
By Ronie Kendig
Published by Barbour Publishing
ISBN 978-1-60260-777-4

Description:

Former Marine sniper Colton "Cowboy" Neeley is recovering from a life of bad choices. Piper Blum, daughter of dissident Yakov Rosenblum, is in hiding—from life and the assassins gunning for her family. When she begs Colton to help extract her father from Israel, Colton petitions the group Nightshade to consider the mission. The team agrees, and soon they're deep-six—straight into the Holy Land for a snatch-n-grab of Yakov. Will Colton and Piper make the treacherous trek out of hostile territory and into safety with their love—and lives—intact?

Review:

Reading a Ronie Kendig novel is like watching a movie—a nail-biting, intense action movie. The words seem to jump off the page and leave you breathless as Colton takes you from one heart-pounding scene to another. Novel Journey and I give it our highest recommendation. It's a 5-star read.

Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan, editor
Novel Journey

Bonus Review:


Ronie Kendig's debut novel Dead Reckoning set the bar high, Nightshade popped over the top and Digitalis clears it with air to spare! Ronie Kendig has stamped herself as the premier author of romantic thrillers in Christian writing today. Digitalis, the sequel to the brilliant Nightshade, is nothing short of a cinematic experience in written form. With the relentless action of The Bourne Identity, the electrifying chemistry of Speed and the emotional punch of A Few Good Men, Digitalis is a stomach clenching, all consuming thrill ride as the Nightshade Black Ops team is attacked on mission and at home. Ronie's incomparable ability to express the emotional depths of her characters sets her stories apart. From Colton's debilitating PTSD episodes, Griffin's aversion to new blood and Piper's fear for those she loves, Digitalis bleeds authentic desolation, passion and devotion. Then there's The Kid, the youngest member of the team whose smart mouth provides the perfect humourous release just when you thought you couldn't take the tension any more. And if you think I'm overstating it, read Digitalis and I promise to refrain from saying, "I told you so". ;-) Bring on Wolfsbane and Firethorn!

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet


Bonus Review:

While delivering an astounding high energy, nail-biting suspense story, Ronie Kendig has mastered the art of having the story’s message pierce your heart and her quirky endearing characters feel like family. I was thrilled and couldn’t wait to read the review copy I received, which is the second book in the "Discarded Heroes" series. I’ve read all of Ronie Kendig’s book so far and think Digitals is her best work yet.

This author masterfully weaves the right amount of action, adventure and romance that pulls at your heart strings, keeps you intrigued and wanting to read more. This novel begins with a bang - literally explosions from the start - as Colton is in the middle of a flashback. The Nightshade’s team is heading for another mission impossible; will Colton Neeley be up for it? He’s struggling with flashbacks and no sleep. Now the team leader has him in therapy sessions to see if that helps...maybe he should just give up this gig!


...“he’d had enough. Was it worth it? Was it worth it to sear images into his brain and live with them night after night so someone half a world away could sleep when he couldn’t? Was it right? Sacrificing his peace for theirs?"


This story beautifully shows how God uses flawed characters to get his work done; he doesn’t need us, but allows us to be part of his plan. Piper Blum is a woman with a few secrets she has to keep; her life depends on it. Piper can’t let anyone close. Then she meets Colton Neeley and his daughter in a surprising way. She likes Colton and thinks he’s handsome, but she has to stop thinking like this. Colton senses she isn’t telling him everything, but he doesn’t press her for answers - he knows all too well about secrets. He has a few he doesn’t want to share either.


I'm amazed at how every time I read Ronie's books, she captures the male bonding moments in battle and the teasing teammates are involved in - all in a male point of view. I often forgot that a woman wrote this book. It’s so believable! The pace of the story and Ronie’s well-timed humor in the middle of some combat situations, allow the reader to experience the effects of war, and the suspense and drama before something else happens. It kept me on the edge of my seat as this author gave me a glimpse into the emotions, struggles and agony military men and their families go through.


I was engaged in the story hook, line and sinker from the very first page. I cared for her main characters Colton, Piper, Mickey and the rest of the Nightshades team. Warning to readers: You will lose hours of sleep, as you won’t be able to rip yourself away from this novel, its message and the characters. They will become your friends and you’ll find yourself cheering for them. This book is a keeper and Ronie Kendig is an author to watch, she’s getting better by the book!


Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent

The Book Club Network

Friday, January 07, 2011

Roseanna White's Jewel of Persia ~ Reviewed


Jewel of Persia
By Roseanna M. White
January 2011
WhiteFire Publishing
9780976544470

Review by Michelle Griep

Kasia grew up in a poor Jewish home with more siblings than luxuries. But when a
chance encounter forces her to the palace of Xerxes, she becomes a concubine to the richest man in the world. She alone, of all Xerxes’ wives, loves the man beneath the crown. She alone, of all his wives, holds the heart of the king of kings.

Traveling with Xerxes through Europe as he mounts a war against Greece, Kasia knows
enemies surround her. Not the Spartans or Athenians, but rather those close to the king who hate her people. Though danger lurks, she determines to put her trust in Jehovah—even if it costs her her marriage.

Years of prayers are answered when Kasia’s childhood friend arrives at the palace after the war, but even as she determines to see Esther crowned in place of the bloodthirsty former queen, she knows the true battle is far from over. How far will her enemies go to see her undone?

Combining the biblical account of Esther with Herodotus’s Histories, Jewel of Persia is the story of a love that nearly destroys an empire…and the friendship that saves a nation.

This is the familiar story of Esther but recounted in a fresh, new way. Author Roseanna M. White dishes up quite a love story filled with intrigue and danger, told from a perspective that’s fictional yet entirely believable.

Usually I think of King Xerxes as a womanizer, somewhat clueless, with a streak of evil running through him. After reading Jewel of Persia, he seems more of a real person, way more likable, and I can even sympathize with him a bit. I’m not saying he’s my hero for life, just that I’ve acquired a different opinion of him.

Heroine Kasia is definitely a woman of prayer. What a great role model. She prays about everything all the time. This is one character that’s worth emulating in real life.

If Biblical fiction is your passion, Jewel of Persia is a book you won’t want to miss.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Deb Raney's Almost Forever ~ Reviewed


Almost Forever (Hanover Falls Series #1) [Paperback]
Deb Raney
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Howard Books; Original edition (May 11, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416599916

Description:

Unearthing a lost memory may cause her to lose everything she holds dear. but could it also set her free?

Volunteer Bryn Hennesey was there at the Grove Street Homeless Shelter the night five heroic firefighters died at the scene. Among them was her husband, Adam.

Now a terrifying absence of memory has her wondering if she might, in some way, be responsible. Garrett Edmonds' wife, Molly, was the only female firefighter to perish in the blaze. He was supposed to protect the woman he loved.now she's the one who's died a hero. How can he go on in the face of such unbearable loss? And what started the fire that destroyed the dreams and futures of so many? Investigators are stumped. But someone knows the answer..

Review:

In this thought provoking and evocative novel, Deborah Raney displays her innate talent for authentic storytelling and in depth characterization. Exploring themes of loss, grief, rage and guilt, Almost Forever is a gripping read that takes you on an emotional journey as the characters react to a community tragedy. Deborah does not shy away from the harsh realities of people altered by grief or unforgiveness and the impact it has on how they view God or the person they feel is responsible for their suffering. As in her previous books, Deborah allows her characters to explore life when it is untenable and when a small choice can lead to a devastating result. Yet it is Almost Forever's underlying message of hope and healing that culminates in a satisfying and refreshing ending. I am eagerly awaiting Lucas' story in the the next Hanover Falls novel, Forever After.

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Bonus Review:

Almost Forever revolves around Bryn Hennesy, the wife of a firefighter. Working as a volunteer at a homeless shelter one evening, a fire breaks out, which results in the total destruction of the shelter, as well as taking the lives of five firefighters, four men and one woman. Bryn ends up befriending Garrett Edmonds, the husband of the female fire fighter that was killed. Their relationship begins to grow, as they are able to find comfort and understanding with each other. However, throughout the course of the story, Bryn can’t seem to shake the horrible thought that she was somehow responsible for the fire.


This was a really engaging book from the beginning. I enjoyed how, throughout the story, the characters began showing more of a reliance on God, showing Him trust that they had never really shown Him before. I liked how the book showed about forgiveness on the human side, reminding us that no one is perfect. My only wish is that the author would have presented a clearer gospel message in the story. I understood where she was coming from, but I’m not sure that an unbeliever reading the story would be able to understand fully what Christ has done for them in dying for their sins. Otherwise, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it!



Reviewed by Sarah Porter

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Dale Cramer's Paradise Valley ~ Reviewed



PARADISE VALLEY
By Dale Cramer
Published by Bethany House
ISBN# 978-0-7642-0838-6
359 Pages

Back Cover:

An Amish settlement in Ohio has run afoul of a law requiring their children to attend public school. Caleb Bender and his neighbors are arrested for neglect, with the state ordering the children be placed in an institution. Among them are Caleb's teenage daughter, Rachel, and the boy she has her eye on, Jake Weaver. Romance blooms between the two when Rachel helps Jake escape the children's home. Searching for a place to relocate his family where no such laws apply, Caleb learns there's inexpensive land for sale in Mexico, a place called Paradise Valley. Despite rumors of instability in the wake of the Mexican revolution, the Amish community decides this is their answer. And since it was Caleb's idea, he and his family will be the pioneers. They will send for the others once he's established a foothold and assessed the situation.

READ THE FIRST CHAPTER HERE

Review:

I have loved Levi’s Will, a gripping novel written in a Amish males point of view, so when I heard Dale Cramer was doing a prequel to it, I jumped at the chance to receive a review copy. Dale used real events as a backdrop for his new story that caught my interest and made me realize how much America has changed over the years in our education department. In 1921, five Amish fathers were arrested for neglect of their children. The Bing Act of 1920 stated all children in Holmes County, Ohio needed to go to school or parents would be arrested. The Amish men stayed in jail until the government started heating things up to force their case by taking away their children and putting them in foster care. It’s unthinkable in a day and age when homeschooling is thriving.

So what do these men do to save their way of life? Caleb is willing to check out another place to live. They wanted to look outside the USA because laws were bound to get passed in all 50 states eventually - then an opportunity opened up outside the states. Mexico. It looked great at ten dollars per acre. So, Caleb volunteers his family to be pioneers in a new land. He’ll scout out the terrain and its people, then report back to the Amish community.

Caleb discovers lush farming soil and Mexican people as varied as their languages. Then there are rumors of bandits. They meet Domingo, a young man who takes the Amish family under his wing and guides them through this new world they know nothing about. Paradise Valley could be their new home forever if only the bandits would stop giving them trouble. They were a peace loving people who would not fight for their possessions...even if it meant fighting for one of their daughters. They would trust God in all things, that would not change.

I’ve enjoy Dale’s books, because he is so very passionate about writing and gets to the heart of the matter in his novels. This book is no exception. Dale’s father lived in an Amish community as a boy and left when he got older. So, Dale has family connections that come out in his stories and help him in writing about their customs. This trilogy is inspired by historical events I found interesting. You’ll definitely want to know what happened to Caleb and his family on their journey to make a living in this foreign land. I know I did!

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network


Bonus Review:

I’m not a fan of Amish fiction. I know it’s all the rage in Christian Fiction right now, but, enough already.

That said. I do like Dale Cramer which is the reason I agreed to read and review Paradise Valley. Fortunately, the Amish details share space with plenty of 1920 era Mexican details and these add a whole new layer to an interesting story. Plenty of drama -- bandits, forbidden love, snakes, arrests and children taken from loving parents are some of the themes within this well-written novel. I found it fascinating that this story was based on factual events and is part of Cramer’s heritage. Cramer also writes some breathtaking prose interspersed with the "Jah’s" and the prayer kapps. Amish fiction fans should find much to love, and the rest of us can find a good story within these covers, too.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer


Bonus Review:

Each of Dale Cramer's previous novels have enthralled me. Sutter's Cross, Summer of Light, Bad Ground and Levi's Will all sit proudly on my shelves and are testament to Dale's talent as a wordsmith and storyteller. As Amish fiction is rarely on my reading radar, it was Dale's name alone that had me highly anticipating the first book in The Daughters of Caleb Bender series, Paradise Valley, and he did not disappoint. Beautifully rendered and historically detailed, Caleb Bender's journey to Mexico in search of religious freedom for his family is an emotive, adventurous and engrossing read. Dale creates believable and heartfelt characters, brimming with life and emotional nuances that raise the bar in this genre. Caleb, Rachel and Miriam's unique personalities unfold as the pages turn and I can't wait to see where Dale takes them in the following stories. Domingo is another character that enthralled me and the opportunity for conflict and immeasurable grace in his journey are tantalizing. Others may argue with me but in my mind Dale Cramer is the premier writer of Amish fiction today as his appeal extends beyond genre boundaries and his books should be read by anyone who is captivated by brilliant and engaging storytelling.

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Bonus Review:

Paradise Valley is book one of The Daughters of Caleb Bender series. The story begins in an Amish community in Ohio, where Amish father’s are arrested for not sending their children to public school, and are only released after paying fines and agreeing to send their children to school. Shortly thereafter, Caleb Bender sees an advertisement for the sale of a great deal of land in Mexico for a fair price. He takes it upon himself and his family to be the first family to go down to check out the area to see if it’s a proper place to start a new Amish community, free from the rules of the government. What he doesn’t realize is the huge danger of bandits and renegades who have to issue with taking what they want from whomever they want. Still, he takes his whole family down, and they begin a new life there.


I really enjoyed this book, and am anxious to see what happens in the books that will follow. The book focused a lot on Caleb’s daughter, Rachel, who leaves behind her first love, Jake, to go with her family. Throughout the book, she loses hope that he will ever join her. It will be interesting to see how the story unfolds in the coming books.


Reviewed by: Sarah Porter

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Shelley Shepard Gray's Autumn's Promise ~ Reviewed


Autumn's Promise: Seasons of Sugarcreek, Book Three [Paperback]
Shelley Shepard Gray
Publisher: Avon Inspire; Original edition (August 3, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061852376


Description:

Some promises are meant to be broken. . . .

Until Robert Miller met Lilly Allen, his world had been dark. A widower after only two years of marriage, he'd been living in a haze, feeling that, at twenty-four, his life was already over. But thanks to his friendship with Lilly, he now has new reasons to wake up each day. He knows his connection to her doesn't make sense. She's only nineteen, with a past the whole town talks about. Even more, she's not Amish, like Robert. A marriage between the two of them could never happen.

Lilly's heart is drawn to Robert, not to his faith. No matter how much she admires his quiet strength and dependability, she doesn't think she could ever give up her independence and reliance on the modern world. Is their love doomed before it even begins?


Review:

Autumn’s Promise is book three in the Seasons of Sugarcreek Series. It follows a girl named Lilly Allen, who we found out in previous books became pregnant out of wedlock, but lost the baby due to a miscarriage. Feeling down and depressed, she is surprised to find herself showing interest in an Amish man named Robert Miller, who lost his wife to cancer three years previously. Though they live completely different lives, love begins to bloom between them.

I really enjoyed this book. I was unsure to the very end of the book how it was going to end for these characters. It was interesting to me how other people viewed their relationship. Non-Amish people wondered if Lilly could ever give up her modern conveniences for a life with the man she loved. The Amish people tended to look down on their situation, due to the fact that Lilly had a baby out of wedlock. I really liked how the author intertwined the lives of the Amish and the non-Amish.

If you enjoy reading about the life of Amish people, you will really enjoy this book. I would definitely read other books by this author.

Reviewed by: Sarah Porter

Monday, January 03, 2011

Tom Davis's Priceless ~ Reviewed


PRICELESS
By Tom Davis
Published: David C Cook
ISBN#978-1-5891-9103-7
278 Pages


Back Cover:


Photojournalist Stuart Daniels has found purpose in life. After suffering the fallout of a tragic assignment, Daniels rediscovered his faith while helping a young African orphan. Now his photo work carries a greater mission: To educate people about social injustice happening around the world.

Daniels' next assignment carries him back overseas and into the heart of Russia. Once there, Daniels is persuaded by an old friend to help save two girls from a desperate situation. Soon he becomes a key player in a dangerous campaign to rescue helpless women trapped in the sex-slave trade. What Daniels encounters during his journey will shake his faith, test his courage, and even threaten his life. Yet as Daniels gets deeper and the stakes get higher, he will discover that hope can be found in the darkest of places.


Review:


I’m thankful to have received a review copy of this captivating, surreal, suspenseful book that could have been ripped out of today’s headlines. It was horrific to think the topic of this book is real and happening in current time. Although the story concentrates on the sex-trafficking business in Russia, this unthinkable industry is thriving world wide. Tom Davis states in his book Russian girls are taken and sent out of their country with promises of going to America, to enjoy the good life. Only one catch, they do go to American but end up in some of the booming sex-trafficking places such as Atlanta, Dallas and Seattle.

You might be tempted not to read this book because of the subject matter and the fact that it might make you feel uncomfortable. It’s not easy to read about little girls being promised one thing and forced into another. My heart ached for these dear ones as these evil doers promised them the moon, only to get sold into a lifestyle of no return. The only way out was death.

Stuart Daniels returns in this book and is sent on another job. Stuart agrees to go to Russia because he feels this assignment is not as life threatening as the one he went to in Africa (in the last book Scared). After meeting his contacts in Russia, he’s whisked into an unthinkable mission - one he can’t turn down - not after having his world turned upside down in Africa, after meeting Adanna.

“Adanna may not have meant much to many in this world. But meeting her was the beginning of life for me. It changed the way I saw God. It changed the direction of my life. She taught me that the small things I do matter. My decisions today can save a life tomorrow.”

I believe I’ve been disturbed to the core of my being while reading this book and I hope that you are gloriously disturbed too. Just as bothered as Stuart was when he met Adanna. Troubled in such a way it moves you into action and keeps you from turning your eyes and pretending this isn’t happening to innocent children every day. Stuart Daniel’s describes Adanna (above), a child he met in Africa who rocked his world, I pray your world is rocked as mine was and you begin to tell others about this novel and its message in hopes of bringing awareness to this global disturbance - a disturbance of epic proportions. Author Tom Davis lists ways we can get involved here in the states and overseas in the back of Priceless. He gives practical ways for us to love our neighbor as ourselves and shine the hope these children desperately need. Be Jesus' hands and feet! I believe Priceless is a must read novel for everyone.

Reviewed by:Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network