Friday, March 31, 2006

Meeks' The Middle Aged Man and the Sea~Reviewed

The Middle-aged Man and the Sea
by Christopher Meeks
Paperback, 145 pages
Published by White Whisker Books
ISBN 1-4116-4761-0

I just finished reading The Middle-aged Man and the Sea and other stories by Christopher Meeks. Mr. Meeks has a wonderfully fun writing style—witty, cynical and often poignant. His stories are about the stuff of life: love and heartbreak, sickness and death, desires and struggles, spirituality and the search for meaning.

A word of warning: this book is not written from a Christian perspective and the language and subject matter reflect that. It was good however, for me, to be reminded of how the world and the issues of life appear when viewed through the eyes of one who does not hold to a Christian world view.

Christian or not, there is much to relate to in Meeks’ stories. In “Green River,” a couple and their son are on a road trip. The father muses, “One day, you’re young, laughing, eating Cheetos, the next, you’re locked in a car with your wife and 11-year-old son, no one talking to each other, the acidity of anger drip drip dripping at your insides if not your wives.”

The family arrives at a hotel and the father takes the boy to a nearby truck stop where they get candy bars. The father says, “The peanuts, caramel, chocolate and Harry’s look of concentration reminded me of when candy bars were all that mattered.” Who can’t relate to that feeling one gets remembering the simplicity of childhood?

As I writer, I ate this literature up like nourishing tidbits, underlining many terrific, descriptive sentences like these:

“It looked like an ad: silver body, chrome wheels, moon roof, sparkling on the red brick driveway under a sun that also shines across town on movie stars and next to a lawn so perfect and green you want to open up his trunk, pull out a golf club, and hit a ball so hard and imperfectly it leaves a divot the size of Texas on what otherwise is an emerald carpet. I know for a fact he keeps the grass so lush thanks to an automated sprinkler system that senses when the turf is thirsty, and valves open and probably spray Perrier onto each perfect pixel before anything is able to choke or strangle or die.”

Most of the stories in this book have been published in award-winning literary journals and the book has received good reviews.

Reviewed by Janet Rubin

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Carrie Turansky's Along Came Love~Reviewed

Along Came Love
By Carrie Turansky
Paperback, 250 pages
Published by SteepleHill

After years of hiding from her past, single mom Lauren Woodman had finally returned to her Vermont hometown with her young son in tow. Reconnecting with her family and friends was Lauren's goal, until a snowstorm brought a mysterious stranger to town—and into her life.

Wes Evans was struggling to find the path to God's love and forgiveness, after his work as a missionary in the Middle East made him question his calling. But his search for redemption threatened to hurt the one person who could heal his heart and soul.

Along Came Love is a tender romance, and I was curled up with a mug of chocolate velvet coffee, enjoying an afternoon of reading. I loved Wes Evans, the former missionary, and understood his heartbreak. While I've never been a single mom, I appreciated the way Lauren put her son first. The adorable six-year-old Toby stole my hear, and I could relate to wise Aunt Tilly. I was having a lovely afternoon.

Then Ryan came on the scene, and I got mad. Sick and tired of his strong-arm approach, I nearly tossed the book aside. I dislike people like him. Then I realized Turansky had done exactly what she set out to. She engaged my emotions so strongly in the lives of her characters that I reacted to the situation instead of merely reading about it.

With a well written plot, a story that engages your heart, and true-to-life characters, Along Came Love is a satisfying read.

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Rachel Hauck's Lambert's Peace~Reviewed

Lambert's Peace
By Rachel Hauck
Paperback; 174 pages
Published by Heartsong Presents
ISBN: 1-59310-847-8

Taylor Hanson longs for peace. Exhausted and anxious, she hopes White Birch will be the perfect place to regroup and refocus her faltering career. But her heart has unfinished business. Torn between the love she left behind and a lucrative opportunity, Taylor needs Jesus' peace more than she needs her next breath.

Will Lambert was a fool to let Taylor go ten years ago. Now she's back, and Will won't make that mistake again. He loves her, but the walls she's constructed around her heart seem impenetrable.

Can Taylor allow God's peace to protect her heart? Can she allow her heart to give Will a second?

Rachel Hauck has written one of the best romances I've ever read. From the very first sentence, she drew me into her story. She didn't give away too much in the first few pages, leaving questions to which I needed answers. I kept turning pages.

Hauck offers a modern-day heroine with a contemporary dilemma. Which does she want the most: A high-powered career that leaves no time for family—or love? This is the predicament millions of twenty-first century women face. Lambert's Peace offers one woman's story, and her path to peace.

I really enjoyed Hauck's ability to pull me inside her character's heads. I felt their emotions and their struggles. I could identify with them, and I appreciated the manner in which this author handled the conflict—with honesty and open confrontation that I found refreshing and real. She didn't use the typical formulaic misunderstandings. She didn't need to.

I read this book in one sitting—there was no way I could put it down. I loved the ending—it was absolutely perfect. I can't wait for her next book!

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Lisa Harris's Rebecca's Heart~Reviewed

Rebecca's Heart
By Lisa Harris
Paperback, 170 pages
Published by Heartsong Presents
ISBN: 1-59310-945-8

Rebecca's heart is open to love, but she discovers she's about to make the biggest mistake of her life. To avoid such a mistake, she cancels her wedding plans and moves to Boston. There she takes a position as a seamstress in a furniture sop where she hopes to mend her broken heart.

Luke Hutton longs to build ships for a living but is set to sail one last time before he can make his dream come true. He stops by the furniture shop on an errand for his mother and falls at once for the dark-haired beauty who works there.

Can Rebecca and Luke find a way to share the secrets that keep them from true happiness? Will Rebecca trust her heart to God, as well as Luke?

Harris brings innovative creativity to this historical romance. With the whaling industry as a backdrop, her research is evident in many places. She brings nineteenth-century Boston alive before our eyes with her hero telling the heroine, who sews slipcovers for furniture, about a yacht owner who "… had an electrically ventilated dairy built on his yacht where he keeps a cow…" Both caught my attention, and I had to look them up. I applaud Harris for incorporating little known facts that made her story all the more delightful.

Harris uses creatively apt descriptions that make you feel you're part of the scene and the lives of her true-to-life characters. They stepped off the pages and into my heart. This book is perfect for a cozy read before the fire, with a cup of tea. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Penny Culliford's Theodora's Baby~Reviewed

Theodora’s Baby
By Penny Culliford
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Zondervan
ISBN: 0310265584

“In the third book in the Theodora’s Diary series, Theodora is happily married and life is on track—then an unexpected pregnancy changes everything.”

Theodora has recently married and is also unemployed. Now, she finds out she’s in for another major life change—a baby! In fact, the pregnancy follows so closely after the wedding that tongues are wagging, even at her church. Folks are busily counting the months until her due date to see if they come up with a respectable figure of “nine.”

Theodora’s Baby is the third in Culliford’s series about this character, following Theodora’s Diary and Theodora’s Wedding. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to appreciate this story, not having read the first two installments. I was, however, delighted to be wrong. Culliford quickly catches us up on Theodora’s life in a small town in England and the quirky characters surrounding her. Theodora’s snappy British phrasing and witty outlook lend humor to everyday life, including the indignities of job hunting and the horrors to be found in pregnancy guides. (Her husband Kevin eventually takes them from her and forbids her to read anymore, much as a mother might forbid Stephen King books to an easily frightened twelve-year-old.)

Of course, with the characters in Theodora’s life, it’s not hard to find humor. When Kevin catches an eel during a fishing trip, he’s determined to show Theodora what a prize he’s landed. His attempts to turn the eel into a culinary delight, however, end with the fractious eel tightly wrapped around his arm. The couple spends a cozy evening in front of the telly—with the eel still attached to Kevin’s arm.

One minor criticism would be Culliford’s tendency to make conservative Christians appear to be either judgmental or slightly ridiculous—for example, the group of home-schooling mothers that try to lure Theodora into their clutches, and the foul-tempered “fundamentalist” who spreads (false) rumors about her pregnancy not being legitimate. However, Culliford’s theme in Theodora’s Baby appears to be that of genuine grace versus legalism. Theodora herself becomes judgmental over the issue of abortion to a friend, not knowing the friend has been emotionally scarred by her own abortion. Theodora not only comes to a deeper understanding of her friend’s pain, but she also learns to be a true Christian servant when the curmudgeon who spread the rumors is injured and has no one to visit or help him—except her.

Overall, this was a thoroughly enjoyable read, and gave me just enough hints of the mayhem in the earlier novels to make me want to go out and buy them, as well.

Reviewed by Robin Johns Grant

Monday, March 13, 2006

Tamara Leigh's Stealing Adda~Reviewed

Stealing Adda
By Tamara Leigh
Published by NavPress
ISBN 1-57683-925-7

New York Times Best-Selling Author and Historical Romance Writer Extraordinaire, ironically reads more like a country song than a bodice-bursting, breathes affair. For starters, she has no actual romance in her life. That might have something to do with the fact her husband—correction: EX-husband—ran off with Stick Woman, who everyone knew would never be more than a midlist author anyway. To add insult to injury (another verse to the country song), he not only took their dog but gave it to the new woman. If that weren't bad enough, Adda's come down with a horrible case of writer's block and finds herself the unwitting target of a romantic cover model's misdirected (and completely unreciprocated) amorous advances. Just when she catches the eye of a certain fabulously good-looking man—her arch-nemesis gives the pot one final stir.

'Hilarious' doesn't come close to defining the sarcastic wit of Tamara Leigh. She's created one of the most unique heroines I've read in a long time. I laughed out loud into the wee hours of the morning unable to put it down. From the battles of her conscience—which Adda nicknamed Prim and Improper—to her search for faith, nothing is safe from Leigh's tongue-in-cheek humor. Poor Adda is the walking example of Murphy's Law, especially when Improper eggs her on.

Using the publishing world as her backdrop, the stakes rise when Adda is accused of plagiarism by her arch-nemesis, Birgitta Roth—a.k.a. Stick Woman. But mirth reigns throughout the book, whether it's a love scene gone awry or snatching a handful of Stick Woman's hair, Tamara Leigh brings her readers along on a merry ride. She even handled the problem of cursing with humor. She merely bleeped them out. I got so tickled at the bleeps, I began to "hear" them (the bleeps, not the curses), as I'm sure Leigh intended.

Weaving a search for faith into this side-splitter was well done and never out of character. Adda remained faithfully Adda, even as she tried to be otherwise. One of my favorite reads of this year. I'm still giggling as I write this. Stealing Adda is a book I'll read again.

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan

Karen Ball's Kaleidoscope Eyes~Reviewed

Kaleidoscope Eyes
Family Honor Series
By Karen Ball
Release date: April 3rd, 2006
Published by Multnomah
ISBN 1-59052-414-4

Wilderness and Weather Are Easily Overcome. But Betrayal? Annie Justice sees things differently. Her unconventional condition, synesthesia, helped make her one of the most sought-after stained-glass artists in the country. And teamed with her German shepherd, she's just as successful in her work with the K-9 Search and Rescue Team, finding people seemingly hidden from others' eyes. But no one knows her expertise for hiding the childhood insecurities that plague her - until Jed Curry comes along. Then the search for a missing child goes awry, and Jed must reveal his true identity. He's prepared for Annie's anger, but not the hurt. And neither of them is prepared for the real trial ahead - something far more sinister and dangerous than their search. Can Jed and Annie overcome their unknown enemy - and the insecurities and secrets keeping them apart - before it's too late?

Annie Justice, artist and SAR participant with her canine partner, Kodi, has a colorful view on life. Literally. Yet Annie's synesthesia doesn't overshadow the story, merely colors it, if you'll excuse the pun.

The hero, Jed Curry, struggles with his own demons. Complicating matters is his reality series, Everyday Heroes. He wants to feature Annie and Kodi. When she denies his request, he lies his way into her life. Then against his own will, he's drawn to her and must decide which is more important—his career or Annie. Karen Ball's plots are without predictability.

With the expertise of a symphony conductor, Ball orchestrates the tension and suspense in a story. She uses pacing like the conductor uses his baton, creating an arpeggio of action then an adagio of rest for a moment before the next onslaught. As the stakes rose, I found myself flying through the pages to reach the answer. I thought I had Annie's enemy figured out. All clues pointed that direction—then Ball surprised me. And when it was done, I felt completely satisfied.

I've said it before—I'm not a fan of suspense, even romantic suspense. But I'll read anything Karen Ball writes, even if it's a grocery list. I know I'll find humor and insight—even in the vegetable aisle.

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Maureen Lang's Pieces of Silver~Reviewed

Pieces of Silver
By Maureen Lang
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications
ISBN: 0825436680

Liesel Bonner never questioned her devotion to her country. But because of her heritage, her country questions her. As her trust for others crumbles, Liesel finds that only God's loving protection, and the enigmatic agent who is tearing her world apart, can save her.

My grandfather was a veteran of the Great War, the 'war to end all wars.' Sadly, in the shadow of the horrors of WWII, this important era in our nation's history is often forgotten. The author does a wonderful job illuminating the intrigue of espionage on American soil at that time, and she weaves a powerful story of betrayal and sacrifice with a depth not often seen in fiction.

Sometimes doing the right thing doesn't feel right, but it still must be done. The heroine, Leisel, had some tough choices to make. As the story continues, you see her loyalty to America and to her faith supercede all others.

A very patriotic and uplifting story, Pieces of Silver was very hard to put down. I enjoyed every page and found the story fascinating and very well-written. I admired the hero, David, for his steadfast devotion to God and country as well. The way their plight brought them together was rich, and the love developing between them was truly powerful.

This story was worth reading, and unlike your typical war story, there was no actual war content in the story itself. It was more about espionage and the subversive tactics used at war time, and it had me on the edge of my seat. The coolest part of all was the ending. Methinks a sequel is in the works. I can't wait to read it!

Reviewed by Michelle Therese
Writing truth into fiction...digging deeper, soaring higher
2005 Great Beginnings finalist
writer/fiction reviewer

Friday, March 10, 2006

Bright & Cavanaugh's Storm~Reviewed

*Bright & Cavanaugh
*Paperback: 368 pages
*Howard Publishing Company
*March 14, 2006
*ISBN: 1582294933

From the Publisher:

As the spiritual fervor of the Great Awakening begins to decline in America, a young student at Yale College becomes the target of both academic and personal attacks as he takes a stand for his faith. In time, he discovers that this is no coincidence but rather the work of a secret society bent on squelching a spiritual revival that breaks out on campus. Written with the intensity of a political thriller, this compelling novel-set against the historical backdrop of America in the late 1800s-reminds readers how the Holy Spirit can shape not only individual lives, but an entire nation.

Reviewed by: Gina Holmes

In 1798, Yale freshman Asa Rush is not your typical hero. He's not handsome, well-spoken or popular, but he does find favor with Yale's President, Timothy Dwight. Dwight makes no secret that he would like to see God put back into the curriculum and the student's hearts.

Asa soon learns that sharing that vision with Dwight would not only involve a personal sacrifice that threatens everything he cares about, but could even cost him his life.

Dwight requests a favor from Asa. Asa eagerly agrees until he learns the enormity of the request. He has asked Asa to befriend his arch rival, Eli Cooper.

Not only is Eli pursuing the same woman Asa is in love with, but he tries to humiliate him every chance he gets. The hatred between the two men provides excellent conflict throughout this novel.

Asa's amazing journey takes him from learning to obey God, to trying to prevent an insurrection to a final call to sacrifice.

Through it all, Asa learns that revival must begin in his own heart.

Gina's comments:

Wow, this historical novel is fantastic ! The characterization is the best I've seen. The story itself is engrossing. After reading this stellar work, I was left feeling entertained, convicted and inspired. If you enjoyed Randy Alcorn's Safely Home, I think this book will appeal to you.

Storm has made my top ten list.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Louise M. Gouge's Son of Perdition~Reviewed

Son of Perdition
by Louise M. Gouge
Paperback: 319 pages
Publisher: River Oak
ISBN: 1589190416

Timothy Jacobs, son of the infamous captain Ahab, has rejected his father's name and spends his young life trying to prove that he is not his father.

Certain of his own goodness compared to the misguided mariners he observes at the Seaman's Mission where he volunteers, he feels no need for the salvation of Christ, which his mother and stepfather encourage him to accept.
When he is tragically wounded in battle he is nearly consumed by rage at God, whom he now regards as unjust and uncaring. And only then in his darkest hour will Timothy discover if he truly is his father's son, or if he can find out the true nature of God.

I read Son of Perdition in two days. I would've finished it in one, but I've been feeling tired lately and going to bed early. What a great story! I liked this one even more than Hannah Rose. Louise has a knack for describing horrific war injuries. Sheesh, I could picture those shredded limbs and blood splattering everywhere. I'm truly impressed.

Also, this story has real depth to it. No pussyfooting around the issues in those days. Reality was men had temptations everywhere, and Louise includes that in her novel. I appreciate how that added to her story.

The most impressive thing about Son of Perdition was the topics of blame and forgiveness, and how Louise works through that within the context of this story is truly amazing. Oh and how often we have said to ourselves, "I'll never be like that person." We try hard to be just the opposite and sometimes despite all this, we look in the mirror and see the very person we never wanted to emulate staring back at us. What a sobering truth. Only God can fix that.

So if you want an emotionally deep and touching story about an era not often written about, which includes Navy battle scenes from the civil war, you'll want to read this book. The author has unique insight rarely observed in historical fiction. Oh, and her passion for the abolitionist movement and issues regarding slavery are truly inspirational. Great debates between Northern and Southern Navy brothers at the Naval Academy. I loved it!!!

Reviewed by
Michelle Therese
Writing truth into fiction...digging deeper, soaring higher
Great Beginnings finalist 2005
Writer/fiction reviewer

Monday, March 06, 2006

Tracy Groot's, Madman ~ reviewed

*Title: Madman
*Author: Tracy Groot
*Paperback, 350 pages
*Publisher: Moody Publishing
*ISBN: 0802463622
*Release: April, 2006

Reviewed by~ Cheryl Russell

Book Description:

Tallis, servant to the Greek philosopher Callimachus, is sent to Palestine to check on the Decaphiloi-the League of Ten Friends-and the Academy of Socrates in Palestine, a Greek academy. Both were founded, and funded by, his master. Instead of an academy, he finds fear and silence. The Decaphiloi and the academy vanished three years ago, even though Callimachus received regular progress reports until a few months ago.

Of the League of Ten Friends, six have vanished. Of the four that can be accounted for: one was murdered in a macabre fashion, one is now a priestess to the god Dionysus, another committed suicide and the last, the brightest of them all, is now a madman, living in the Gerasene tombs.

Tallis is determined to find out what happened to the Decaphiloi and the academy. His search forces him to face long suppressed memories of his own horrifying past. Memories that re-awaken an evil and threaten to make Tallis a madman as well. But failure to conquer the demons of his past will result in the brutal death of the Zagreus, the child that lives at the same inn as Tallis, and reminds him of his now dead younger brother.

The basis for the book is the Gerasene demonic, mentioned in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Tracy Groot does a good job taking the reader into the mind of the insane man, showing us his never-ending agony. Her meticulous research into ancient Palestine is also evident, even though it is sometimes a little hard to figure out some of the ancient terms. But that research also shines through in her treatment of the god Dionysus and his followers, a theme that weaves itself throughout the story. Random points of view shifts are a little disconcerting, but overall, the Madman is a nice read.

Melanie Wells' When the Day of Evil Comes~Reviewed

When the Day of Evil Comes
by Melanie Wells
Publisher: Multnomah
ISBN: 1590524268

Reviewed by Cheryl Russell

Psychologist Dylan Foster is looking forward to the first day of the new school year. On faculty at SMU, she is putting in a required presence at a faculty retreat a few days when she meets the strange man, Peter Terry. Put off by his pasty white appearance and his lack of social skills, she seeks to distance herself from him. But there is much more to Peter than his strange appearance. Dylan has just met the supernatural, and he isn't done with her yet.

Bizarre events begin almost immediately. Everyone attending the retreat receives expensive gifts from an anonymous giver. Dylan's is a funky looking necklace, but it isn't her only gift. When she enters her rattletrap truck, another gift awaits her and this one is much more personal than the necklace. It is her dead mother's engagement ring and the last time Dylan saw it, it was on her mother's finger, right before her casket was closed.
Over the next few days, more bizarre, unexplainable events occur. Then comes the call all clinical psychologists fear. A client has accused her of inappropriate behavior and she's eventually placed on administrative leave.

Now she has time on her hands and decides to find out who or what has brought her life crashing down around her. Her search takes her from Dallas to Chicago and into the web of a powerful and violent man.

Through it all, Peter Terry moves behind the scenes to destroy Dylan and her faith. It's the ancient battle of the supernatural, brought into the life of one woman.

Melanie Wells does a terrific job in this first novel. When The Day of Evil Comes is a book hard to put down once you start reading. This book goes on my keeper shelf.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Dekker & Peretti's House~Reviewed

Peretti & Dekker
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: WestBow Press (April 10, 2006)
Language: English
ISBN: 1595541551

Reviewed by Vennessa Ng

Kill or be killed.

It was hardly the advice Jack and Stephanie Singleton were looking for to save their marriage. A road trip to a counselling session in Montgomery, Alabama goes drastically wrong and finds them lost in the backwoods. As night sets in, the “Wayside Inn” seems a godsend to the weary couple.

The Singletons’ enter the genteel Inn, hoping to find help for their desperate situation. Instead they meet Randy Messarue and Lesley Taylor, who are also road trip causalities.

With no host in sight, the couples follow the instruction note attached to the front door and sign themselves in. As the foursome contemplate the dining table lavishly set for four, the lights flicker and die, leaving the guests in the dark. When the lights mysteriously come back on, the Inn’s hosts also appear; Betty, Stewart, and Pete.

It soon becomes apparent that this is no ordinary Inn.

Welcome to White’s house.

Barsidious White has three simple rules for his house:

1) God came to my house and I killed him.
2) I will kill anyone who comes to my house as I killed God.
3) Give me one dead body and I might let rule two slide.

Jack, Stephanie, Randy, and Lesley are soon caught up in a cruel game in a house that seems to know their every move.

But this is not your average haunted house story. When you combine the minds of two of the masters in the supernatural thriller genre, you expect something beyond typical. Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker deliver an edge-of-your-seat plot encapsulating a theme that will leave you reflecting on its ramifications for a long time after.

Peretti and Dekker refuse to whitewash the true nature of evil or their villains. In HOUSE, Barsidious White is the embodiment of evil. As far as White is concerned, the guilty must die, and everyone is guilty.

In White’s house, evil is pitched against evil.

HOUSE sets out to epitomise the human heart. Nothing we do can clean our hearts of the evil that resides within. So if the wages of sin is death, and we have all sinned, then why should we be allowed to live? This is the question Peretti and Dekker tackle in this enthralling novel that touches the very heart of its readers.

As a reader more familiar with Dekker’s past work than Peretti’s, I can assure you that you will not be disappointed with this collaboration. The writing is flawless. The seamless continuity of this novel is testament to the two creative minds behind it and their commitment to a quality story.

Dekker fans will not be disappointed. HOUSE is tied into his current Project Showdown series by expanding on one of the characters from SHOWDOWN.

Readers concerned about the violence depicted in SHOWDOWN shouldn’t have a problem with HOUSE. The violence is still there, it’s no less evil, but I found it more toned down.

Peretti and Dekker invite you to enter HOUSE, where losing your life could be the only way to win.

Two authors, one exceptional story

To read an interview with Frank Peretti visit Novel Journey

(April 2006 archives).

Friday, March 03, 2006

David Gregory's Dinner With A Perfect Stranger~Reviewed

Dinner With A Perfect Stranger
By David Gregory
Hardcover; 100 pages
Published by WaterBrook Press
ISBN: 1-57856-905-2

A mysterious envelope arrives on Nick Cominsky's desk amid stacks of credit-card applications and business-related junk mail. Although his seventy-hour workweek has already eaten into his limited family time, Nick can't pass up the opportunity to see what kind of plot his colleagues have hatched.

The normally confident, cynical Nick soon finds himself thrown off-balance, drawn into an intriguing discussion with a baffling man who comfortably discusses everything from world religions to the existence of heaven and hell. And this man who calls himself Jesus also seems ot know a disturbing amount about Nick's personal life.

As the evening progresses, their conversation touches on life, God, meaning, pain, faith, and doubt—and it seems that having Dinner with a Perfect Stranger may change Nick's life forever.

This small book carries a significant punch. Nick throws his blunt skepticism at his dinner companion from the moment he sits down. Certain the man is an actor his buddies from work hired, Nick looks around the room, waiting for the guys to pop out from behind the lattice or maybe from the men's room. But this is no joke. Nick tries to leave, positive the man is a nut, but finds himself strangely drawn back into the conversation. And Jesus challenges Nick's skepticism at every turn.

I couldn't put the book down; I read it in one sitting. Then I gave it to my husband, who unlike me is not an avid reader. He read it in two sittings, then told me to buy three more copies to give to friends who were skeptical about Jesus. Mr. Gregory has written a powerful evangelistic tool—for thinkers. When Jesus talks about his childhood and his mother, Nick, thinking anyone with a modicum of Biblical knowledge and half an imagination could come up with the same story, tells Jesus, "You're going to have to do better than that."

"To do what?" Jesus asked. That was a good question. What exactly did Nick expect from a guy pretending to be Jesus?

Novel Reviews' companion site, Novel Journey, is going to be doing an interview with David Gregory, and I for one, can't wait to hear how he developed the imaginative idea for this herculean little book. A must read for everyone.

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan