Friday, December 30, 2005

A Table by the Window, Reviewed

A Table by the Window
Lawana Blackwell
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (March 30, 2005)
ISBN: 0764224727 Bethany House

Book Description:

"Having survived a tumultuous childhood, Carley has fashioned an orderly life for herself in San Francisco. Then a private investigator brings her news of a large inheritance—and a house in Tallulah, Mississippi, from a grandmother she can barely remember. Carley visits Tallulah and the serenity of small-town living charms her into staying and opening a bistro there. But Carley finds more than she bargained for in Tallulah: along with faith, self-worth, romance…a murder mystery that threatens her newfound happiness. From bestselling author Lawana Blackwell."

Reviewed by Kelly Klepfer

Carley Reed has made a new life to overcome a dark past. But is it he life she dreamed of as she worked herself through college and into a teaching career at a prestigious school?

Into her lonely world, comes a stranger, bringing surprises. News of a family she didn't realize she had, and an inheritance she never dreamed of.

A short trip to settle things shows her the missing pieces in her life. She embraces family and finds fulfillment in a career change, but also townsfolk with secrets and troubled pasts.

Lawana Blackwell's story is compelling. As it unfolded, I found myself pulled into the plot of this character driven novel, Ms. Blackwell's eleventh.

Suspense amps up in the second half of the book. It is hinted at a bit earlier and comes to a well-written conclusion.

A smattering of romance may satisfy the romance crowd, though it is a light subplot.

The suspense thread would be perfect for those who like a sprinkling without the gut-churning, fingernail-biting, sleep-robbing, heavy-duty thriller genre.

Comes A Horseman Reviewed

Comes A Best Seller. . .

Two FBI agents pursuing a killer from a centuries-old cult realize they have become prey. To survive, they must ignore their own
fear, their own hearts pounding in their ears...pounding like death, riding a pale horse.

Reviewed by Gina Holmes

Robert Liparulo's debut novel is a big book, literally at close to 500 pages, and figuratively with world-wide stakes. What made me first notice this novel is the cover. Now, I know this isn't a cover art review, but in my opinion, Bob owes a steak dinner to the artist. This is the freakiest cover I've ever seen. Coming from a thriller lover, that's a compliment.

The story opens up with a serial killer hiding in a bathroom ceiling waiting for his prey. I kept thinking, this is CBA?

Westbow, Comes A Horseman's publisher, is really aiming at a cross-over market. There is gore in this book, (just a severed head and a few wolf-dogs lapping up a murder victims spilled blood), but I don't think its gratuitously done. There is no overt sermonizing, though a underlying faith element is present.

The goal for penning a thriller, is to write your protagonist up the biggest tree you can find and hurl boulders at him with a pack of hungry wolves under him and no possibility for escape. Mr. Liparulo does just that.

I think fans of Peretti, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Dekker, Alton Gansky and Kathryn Mackel will enjoy this book. I also think Mr. Liparulo will draw a very loyal fan base of his own. He writes like no one else I've read. If I compare him to Stephen King, I'd say, Bob has equal ability to draw out suspense and write an over-the-top story line that is completely believable, but his articulation is not quite as down to earth as King's, appealing possibly to an audience that enjoys a bit more intellectual stimulation along with their entertainment.

A sample of Liparulo's prose:

"He pulled the ax toward him, its blade scraping on rock, like a violin
playing a harsh sul ponticell note. The overture to his performance. He slid his
hand down the smooth wooden handle. Inches from the blade his grip tightenend,
and he rose. His eyes traced the route he'd take once he emerged from the wild
into the park.

Boy on his mind, ax in hand, he spun and darted toward the trail that would
unite the two."

Do I recommend this book? Absolutely! One of the best novels I've ever read. I added it to my top ten list.

Comes A Horseman is being made into a major motion picture and I'm looking forward to that along with Robert Liparulo's next novel.

If you're looking to change minds about CBA fiction, this is the novel to give for Christmas to horror/thriller fans.

Dark Star Reviewed

Dark Star: Redemption, Consequences and the Power of Prayer.

. Dark Star
. Creston Mapes
· Paperback: 400 pages
·Publisher: Multnomah

·ISBN: 1590524721

Book Description

“Can Fame, Wealth, and Power Buy Happiness? Everett Lester and his band, DeathStroke, ride the crest of a wave to superstardom. But the deeper they become immersed in fame, wealth, and power, the more likely they are to be swallowed alive by the drugs, alcohol, and discontentment that have become their only friends. Everett is headed down a perilous road of no apparent return when he's charged with the murder of his personal psychic. The only hope he can cling to comes from Topeka , Kansas , and the letters written by a prayerful young lady who lives there. Consistent and persistent, the notes cut straight to Everett 's empty heart, offering a fulfillment he's never grasped before. But what if he's found guilty of murder? Will he recognize the spiritual battle that's raging for his soul?”

Reviewed by Gina Holmes

Dark Star is a story about sin, consequences and the power of love. God’s love, a friend’s love, and romantic love.

I expected a third person account of an out of control rock star told in chronological order with a conversion story near the end.

What Mapes delivers is a unique story told largely in flashbacks, first person, mixing past and present.

This is an unashamed Christian novel. The reader is not left guessing if the guitar was a symbol representing idolatry. The plan of salvation is laid out, along with lots of prayer and Biblical teaching.

Rock star Everett Lester is the poster child for the out of control, self-serving rock star. He is a playboy, drug addict and God mocker. But, Everett doesn’t stand a chance with the prayers of one young lady burdened for him.

When Everett’s scales of deception begin falling from his eyes, what he sees around him is pure evil. As Lester begins to change from the inside out, his personal psychic and mentor, Endora Crystal, will stop at nothing to keep him from the lamb.

Lester finds himself on trial for her murder. The book takes us back and forth, from the current day trial, to Lester’s past that brought him to that point.

Author Creston Mapes introduces us to quirky characters such as Zane Bender, Ricky Crazee, and others. He has an unnerving, and fantastic, way of setting up the most peaceful of scenes, then shocking the reader out of tranquility.

I thought the ending was a bit tidy, but overall the book was entertaining and ministering. I caught myself praying for some of the characters before realizing what I was doing.

I’d recommend this book to Christians who’ve come from a sordid background, those who think they know someone beyond redemption, and as a gift to friends and family members who are seeking truth.

I think this book would probably not be well received by non-Christians who are not searching.

Creston Mapes is a down to earth storyteller, able to show the power of prayer and the endlessness of God’s forgiveness and love.

Dark Star is worth checking out.

Glimpses of Paradise Reviewed

Glimpses of Paradise
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (April, 2005)
ISBN: 0764226487

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan

James Scott Bell has done it again. Glimpses of
Paradise brilliantly portrays the coming of age of two young people as they
struggle with parental expectancies and their own dreams. Doyle Lawrence finds
himself on the battlefields of France in WWI fighting evil, while his childhood
friend Zee Miller chases her dream to Hollywood to become a movie actress.

Ever the masterful story-teller, Mr. Bell brings the era of the early
twenties alive before your eyes and makes you care about his characters. With
unexpected twists in the plot and characters that aren't stereotyped, Bell has
given us a page-turner. One of the best reads of the year!

Sooner or Later Reviewed

Sooner or Later, by Vickie McDonough
Heartsong Presents
ISBN 1-59310-850-8
170 pages

Book Description:
"Rebekah's dreams have become a nightmare.
For years, her mother told her, "Sooner or later, some handsome man is going to sweep you off your feet and make you his wife." But that was before her mother and brother died, and before her stepfather agreed to marry her to a repulsive neighbor in exchange for liquor and a side of beef.
Mason Danfield has no interest in a wife. He's focused on his motherless niece and nephew. But when Rebekah flees her home in the middle of the night, Mason must intervene or see her suffer, maybe even die, on the prairie.
Will God lead Rebekah to the love she yearns for sooner, rather than later? Will Rebekah and Mason allow God's direction to fulfill their dreams?"

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan

When Rebekah Bailey discovers her stepfather has traded her to a man more than twice her age for a side of beef and jug of moonshine, she escapes during the night. Out of water and exhausted, she's found unconscious on the plains by Mason Danfield, a widower taking his motherless niece and nephew to find their father.

Set in the time period of the great land races, a delicious romance blossoms on the prairie. While the plot is predictable, it isn't boring at all; McDonough's characters are delightful and carry the story. I thoroughly enjoyed the read and look forward to more from this author.

Review ~ Wedded Bliss?

Wedded Bliss?
Susan Downs, Kristy Dykes, Sally Laity & Carrie Turansky
Barbour Publishing
ISBN 1-59310-632-7

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan

Susan Downs, Kristy Dykes, Sally Laity and Carrie Turansky serve up four poignant tales of Wedded Bliss? As four couples' silver anniversaries approach, they wonder: when had their love changed? Where did they grow apart? More importantly, can they find that love again?

Facing situations that unfortunately happen in life, each couple manages by seeking God, to get back on the right footing. The well written stories are touching, occasionally humorous, but always thought provoking.

I enjoyed this book, comprised of four novellas, thoroughly and look forward to reading more by these talented authors.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Mary DeMuth's Watching The Tree Limbs

*Paperback: 320 pages
*Publisher: Navpress
*March 5, 2006
*ISBN: 1576839265

Book Description:

Callously passed from relative to relative, 9-year-old orphan Mara takes comfort in her imagination---especially playing Nancy Drew with her best friend, Camilla. But some mysteries seem unsolvable. Who is her mother? Why won't the neighborhood bully leave her alone? Can she endure the heartache of a shattered childhood and begin again, with God's help?

Reviewed by Michelle Therese

More than just a's a masterpiece. This story gripped me from page one. At first, you wonder how anything good could come from something so bad. And though good things (per se)didn't come, Mara did find love in this world. She learned to trust, found strength despite her traumatic past, and discovered who she was by novel's end. This story will make you think more, want to love more, seek God more and most of all, will leave you with a sense of completion and satisfaction.

I was sad when the story ended, but am ecstatic that a sequel is coming out called Wishing on Dandelions. If it's half as good as the first, it's still superior to many books on the market today. In my mind this story is a classic just like To Kill A Mockingbird and is a must read for someone who wants to escape to another time and place. Since I grew up in the 1970's, it was especially nostalgic for me. I kept picturing myself as Mara at her age.I felt for her and wanted someone to come to her rescue and fill the void inher life. Beautiful story. Wonderfully written. Life-changing. A must read!