Saturday, December 30, 2006

Deborah Raney's Remember to Forget ~ Reviewed

Remember to Forget
By Deborah Raney
Published by Howard Books, February 6, 2007
ISBN 10: 1-58229-643-X

What if you could leave the past behind and begin your life all over again? What if you had a chance to walk away from mistakes in your past and reinvent yourself? That's exactly what graphic designer Maggie Anderson is offered when a terrifying carjacking leaves her alive and well, but stranded a hundred miles away from her New York apartment—and her abusive boyfriend. When a kind stranger offers Maggie a ride, she impulsively directs her west, away from her life in New York. After a grueling cross-country journey, confused, heartbroken, and without a penny, she winds up in tiny Clayburn, Kansas—and the beginning of a brand new life. There she meets Trevor Ashlock and begins to realize that she can never truly outrun who she is or the past that threatens to reappear if she doesn't tell Trevor the truth. Remember to Forget is the unforgettable story of second chances that holds the promise of starting over, of creating a new life in God's care and under His plan.

Raney's done it again! With artistic panache, she's penned a unique plot filled with rich characters that spring to cinematic life. Although I've never been in an abusive relationship, I easily identified with Maggie's fear of divulging her past. Each of Raney's characters is believable, created with thoroughness and a unique past that adds depth. I was gripped by the imagination from the first page and didn't set it down until I finished it. I've found all of Raney's books to be page-turners—even her first book.

Deborah Raney is a born story-teller. One of the best. And she keeps getting better and better, although this one will be hard to top. Novel Reviews gives Remember to Forget its highest recommendation – 5 stars and prediction of it being a 2007 Best Book.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Mindy Starns Clark's Blind Dates Can Be Murder ~ Reviewed

Blind Dates Can Be Murder
By Mindy Starns Clark
Published by Harvest House Publishers
ISBN-10: 0736914862

Jo Tulip, household tips expert, has joined a dating service—Dates&Mates—at her agent's urging, in order to build her blog's readership. The date is not going well. Her "perfect match" is twice her age, half her height, balding and currently on the floor, in the grip of an asthma attack. His inhaler is empty and she runs to his car to see if he has another one. There's no inhaler, but there is a gun, rope, knife and duct tape under a map and a kidnap victim in the trunk.

Lettie Smith is a skimmer. She steals credit card information from customers at her current job, then passes them on to her boss. The job used to be her husband Chuck's, but she took over when he was sent to prison. She's trying to save enough money to escape to South America, away from Chuck and his abuse. But time is running short as his release date draws near.

The paths of these two very different women converge when Jo's blind date story hits the airwaves. The report is seen by Lettie's boss, and he's convinced she has something of his in her possession. He intends to get it back, by any means necessary.

When Chuck shows up sooner than expected, things take a violent turn and both women find themselves fighting to survive.

Blind Dates Can Be Murder follows The Trouble With Tulip, books in the Smart Chick Mystery series. Well-written with a plot that constantly twists and turns, it's a good read on a winter afternoon.

Cheryl Russell

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Claudia Mair Burney's Death, Deceit, and Some Smooth Jazz ~ Reviewed

Death, Deceit, and Some Smooth Jazz
By Claudia Mair Burney
Published by NavPress
ISBN 1576839796

Amanda Bell Brown is a woman on the edge. Between ignoring an insistent biological clock and nursing a broken heart, she's met her quota of problems. But life takes a turn for the better when former boyfriend, Lieutenant Jazz Brown shows up unannounced at her door. Jazz wants to reconnect and make their relationship work. There's just one tiny, potential problem; he's accused of murdering his ex-wife.

I thought there was no way the ragamuffin diva, Claudia Mair Burney, could top her first story, Murder, Mayhem, and a Fine Man. But she did it with Death, Deceit, and Some Smooth Jazz. Totally amazing. The storyline was complex and well-thought-out. She had me really going there. The sugar glider just took the cake. I loved every scene and chapter. The usual tension between hero and heroine was present, but this time it culminated.

The author is a master at the "think of the worst thing that could happen, and make it happen" concept. Man, she had my head turning so often I got whiplash! I have to say, though, that more than once I wanted to slap Bell for messing with Jazz's head. Then again, I totally understood her "issues" that prevented her from accepting love from anyone, and her doubting something that seemed too good to be true. I was with Bell all the way and felt her confusion as well.

Being a social worker and having done counseling with many hurting people for years, I have to say that the author had the criminal psychology portion of the story perfected. The insight into Kate's messed-up past was flawless Either the author did a lot of research, or she is really gifted with wisdom and insight into human character and dysfunction. Every scene was highly believable and amazing. Tension building all the way, but with interjected humor so hilarious that I laughed out loud more than once! Great way to keep the story moving along. Also, the sensual humor totally captivated me. Not to overuse the term, but that was also hilarious, and very honest, IMHO.

The biggest thrill in this story came when I figured out who killed Kate, and I WAS SO RIGHT! The author left just enough clues to point in the direction of the killer, but did so very slowly, and with absolute perfection. Also, the niggling perception that Jazz might have done it was tremendously applied. Wowsa! So does that make me smart, or the author a genuis at making me feel smart. :) You figure that one out.

Death, Deceit, and Some Smooth Jazz is masterful writing and highly entertaining. This probably ranks as my favorite sistah lit title thusfar. If you read it, I'm sure you'll agree that this is some serious entertainment with a powerful message. The takeaway value of this story is what made me love it so much. Plus, the mystery was compelling and complex. Man, the details involved in the plot were plentiful and so well-done it had me reeling. But I loved every minute of it. Oh, and the forensics were perfect. Excellent crime writing. Bravo! Get this one.

Reviewed by Michelle Sutton (pen name)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

LeAnne Hardy's Glastonbury Tor ~ Reviewed

Glastonbury Tor
by LeAnne Hardy
Kregel Publications 2006
ISBN # 0-8254-2789-4

His mother wanted him to be a monk. . . his father wanted him to be a man. . . a priest tempts him to pursue power. . . but Colin must find his own way.

After his mother's tragic death, seventeen-year-old Colin Hay is so consumed with anger that he tries to kill his cruel father. Running from these tormenting desires and his home, he seeks the protection and cleansing of the Glastonbury monastery, at a time when King Henry VIII is closing monasteries all over England.

But Colin's past has followed him to Glastonbury. As he now pursues forgiveness and salvation, Colin is conflicted by the doctrines he learns at the monastery and the grace he receives from a local family with a forbidden English Bible. And then there is a quick-tempered priest whose lust for power threatens to compromise Glastonbury Abbey, and to destroy the astonishing treasure it holds—the Holy Grail.

The character of Colin is purely fictional, but there are others who are historically accurate: Oliver Cromwell, Hugh Latimer and Robert Layton. These men helped bring about a very dark period in English Christianity when those who desired to seek God by reading His word were labeled heretics and killed for it. By the end of the book, Colin's heart changes to sympathize with these earnest believers.

Forgiveness is a theme running throughout the entire story. Colin learns to forgive his father. The Thatcher family forgives Colin. And Hardy roots this all in the forgiveness Christ gave to the world.

A big fan of the tales of King Arthur, I appreciated the tie-ins to Avalon and the Holy Grail. Hardy does a great job of describing mysterious events, alluding to conclusions without actually telling the reader what to think.

The beginning and the end of Glastonbury Tor are action packed. Personally, I thought the middle dragged a little but not enough to discredit this as a fine read. Masterfully written and liberally laced with historical tidbits, Glastonbury Tor is an entertaining excursion into Henry the Eighth's England.

Review by Michelle Griep

Friday, December 22, 2006

Tracey Bateman's Freedom of the Soul ~ Reviewed

The Freedom of the Soul
by Tracey Bateman
Published by Barbour Books
ISBN: 1597892211

The captivating chronicle of a young woman's struggle to save her homestead, a young man's determination to expose a pretender, and the yellowed pages of a diary that links their lives together will keep readers spellbound from the first page to the last. Abandoned and abused, Shea Penbrook finds her ancestor Jason Penbrook's diary and unearths a legacy. Jonas Riley is sent to Oregon to investigate Shea's claim to his rightful inheritance-the Penbrook estate. Can love bloom in the midst of murder, deceit, and mystery, or will past histories and present betrayals wreck any chance of romance?

The Freedom of the Soul is the stunning sequel to The Color of the Soul, and also the second book in the Penbrook Diaries series. The story was so compelling, and the times so excruciatingly well-portrayed, that I couldn't stop reading. Being a black person in the South--and Georgia in particular--in the 1940s was a terrifying experience. The Klan thrived and the warped sense of justice lived out by the legal systems in the south bred people who thought nothing of lynching others for having "mixed" relationships. That same system segregated everything from health care to education.

This story moved me emotionally on several occasions. The romance was intense and the sense of adventure fantastic. Bateman ties together many loose ends in this novel, and she weaves new threads that are intriguing and well-thought-out.

The Freedom of the Soul is similar to a thriller in the sense that you want to keep turning the pages to find out what happens next. Just when you think the beloved characters are safe, the Klan shows up again. My nerves were taught as I waited for a horrible fate for the people I'd grown to care so much about. Delight filled my heart as the author found ways to extract the characters from the clutches of a sure death more than once. The faith element was also flawlessly incorporated into the storyline.

Bateman has an uncanny ability to bring history to life. I adore her historical fiction and am hopelessly addicted. I highly recommend this page-turning novel and await the next book in the series with anticipation.

The Freedom of the Soul is published by Barbour Publishing and will be released in December 2006.

Michelle Sutton (pen name)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Wendy Alec's The Fall of Lucifer ~ Reviewed

The Fall of Lucifer
By Wendy Alec
Published by Realms
ISBN: 1591858143

Three Archangels…three brothers…one turned renegade

For eons the love and kinship of three royal angelic brothers—Michael, Gabriel, and Lucifer—have echoed through the hallowed halls of the first heaven.

Lucifer, prince regent and eldest brother. Yohovah’s viceroy. Imperial. Brilliant. Passionate. Most adored of heaven. Michael, the warrior—commander of the angelic host. Valiant. Wise and steadfast. Gabriel—the youngest prince. Newly inaugurated. The revelator.

Throughout eternity Lucifer has been heaven’s favored prince. Gifted. Ardent. Devoted. His throne second only to the Most High—until the fateful moment when he is informed about Yehovah’s new innovation. The creation of a new race that is not angelic in nature. A race created of a three-hundred-billion-base DNA sequence that will constitute the human genome code.

A sweeping epic of origins and mysteries, The Fall of Lucifer tells a tale older than the universe itself. Set in opulent palaces and frightening hell worlds, this is a timeless saga of doubt, of demons and angelic warriors, of obsessive love and treason, and of an ancient evil that know no bounds.

Soon the universe itself will be rocked by war…
A war between three angelic brothers…
A war fought for the greatest prize in the universe…
The war for the race of men.

In this first book in The Chronicles of Brothers Series, author Wendy Alec has taken on one very ambitious task—to tell the tale of Lucifer’s fall, starting with the relationship he had with God and his brothers before his treason, and taking us through a partial history of mankind and the workings of angels (good and evil) in its midst. Her descriptions of what she calls “The first heaven” where God and all of the angelic hosts reside are fantastical and it was a whole lot of fun to get inside an angelic perspective.

In the beginning, the realistic, conservative Baptist part of me had a hard time getting into the book, because I kept stopping to mentally question things. For example, I’d wonder why Xacheriel, one of heaven’s twenty-four ancient kings, needed a monocle. After all, a monocle would suggest impaired vision—something I wouldn’t think anyone would suffer from in heaven. However, once I was able to remind myself that this was a fun, fiction book and not doctrine, I was able to enjoy the lovable bearded elder, who nods off during worship, drops his monocle in his soup and frequently declares, “Oh drat and bumble,” in frustration.

I think anyone who enjoys a good Fantasy or even Science Fiction book would like The Fall of Lucifer. And when the book leaves you hanging at the end, you’ll want to read Book 2, Messiah.

Reviewed by Janet Rubin

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Christy Barritt's Hazardous Duty ~ Reviewed

Hazardous Duty
by Christy Barritt
Published by Kregel Publications
ISBN 0825420164

Buying a gun to kill your wife: $3,000
Hiring Trauma Care to clean afterward: $1,500
Having that same cleaner uncover evidence that frames you: priceless

On her way to completing a degree in forensic science, Gabby St. Claire drops out of school and starts her own crime scene cleaning business. “Yeah, that’s me,” she says, “a crime scene cleaner. People waiting in line behind me who strike up conversations always regret it.”

When a routine cleaning job uncovers a murder weapon the police overlooked, she realizes that the wrong person is in jail. But the owner of the weapon is a powerful foe. . . and willing to do anything to keep Gabby quiet.

With the help of her new neighbor, Riley Thomas, a man whose life and faith fascinate her, Gabby plays the detective to make sure the right person is put behind bars. Can Riley help her before another murder occurs?

This book was a page turner from the very beginning. I started the book after church one day and could not put it down. I read three quarters of the book that day and could not wait to get home from work the next to finish reading it. It had me guessing until the next to the last page.

There was just enough romance and religion. The suspense held me spellbound. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes on the edge of your seat suspense.

Reviewed by Wanda McDonald

Another reviewer, Kelly Klepfer says: Christy Barritt makes gore laugh-out-loud funny. With one of the best first sentences ever Christy sucked me in and the story kept me speed reading to the conclusion.

A charming yet twisted novel about life, love and faith that starts with the heroine humming show tunes while she removes skull fragments from a wall and ends with her changing attitudes toward God and life.

Not for the extremely squeamish, though brave members of the Big Honkin' Chicken Club might be able to handle it.

I highly recommend Hazardous Duty. I will be looking for more novels by Christy Barritt and I hope Gabby St. Claire is only the beginning of a gritty series of tales.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Giles Blunt ~ By Time You Read This

By The Time You Read This
Giles Blunt
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
ISBN: 0805080619

Book Description:

"Detective John Cardinal is on the hunt for an ingenious killer even as he mourns his own wife’s tragic death in this thriller of heart-stopping suspense

Autumn has arrived in Algonquin Bay, and with it an unusual spate of suicides. The most shocking victim yet is Detective John Cardinal’s wife, who has finally succumbed to her battle with manic depression. As Cardinal takes time to grieve, his partner, Lise Delorme, handles an unsavory assignment: a young girl appears in a series of unspeakable photos being traded online, and background elements indicate she lives in Algonquin Bay. Delorme is desperate to find the girl before she suffers more abuse.

When Cardinal receives a string of hateful anonymous notes about his wife’s death, he begins to suspect homicide. His colleagues believe he is too distraught to think clearly, and he’s forced to investigate alone. In doing so, he comes up against a brand of killer neither he—nor the reader—has ever seen before.
In his most masterful and thrilling novel yet, Giles Blunt confirms his reputation as a rising international star in crime fiction, and positions Detective John Cardinal among the finest characters in the genre."

Reviewed by Gina Holmes:

By The Time you Read this was difficult to read, yet impossible not to. Blunt is a superb story-teller and master of the craft. Every character is fleshed out with detailed histories, fallibilities and redemptive qualities. The story-line itself is far from cliche, as Giles interwove seemingly unrelated threads into one satisfying and believable tapestry.

I was pleased that this writer relied on skill, not gratuitous swearing, sex or other lazy means to keep readers turning pages.

By The Time You Read This is a fantastic novel, but be forewarned that it is dark. Most of these characters are either depressed or suicidal. This story deals with child-abuse and pornography, and though the sexual abuse is "off stage", much detail is given and this was difficult to read.

All in all, this was an excellent novel and I offer a strong recommendation.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Tamara Alexander's Revealed ~ Reviewed

By Tamara Alexander
Published by Bethany House
ISBN 0-7642-0108-5

Words, once spoken, can mend a broken life...or cripple it.
But words left unspoken can haunt the soul, inflicting a far deeper wound.

Annabelle Grayson has been given a second chance at life, but she can't claim it with the cloud of her past hanging over her in Willow Springs. After her husband dies, she advertises for a trail guide to accompany her to land waiting for her in Idaho -- and a most unlikely candidate applies for the job.

Matthew Taylor is a man on the run, with consequences of past mistakes pursuing him at every turn. Meeting Annabelle Grayson the first time was unpleasant enough, but when she crosses his path again, her presence in his life -- and what she reveals -- is devastating. If given a single wish, Matthew would turn back time and right a grievous wrong. If given a second wish, he would make Annabelle Grayson pay.

"Rekindled" drew enthusiastic comments and created a buzz in Christian fiction. I've intended to read it but haven't gotten to it yet. Now that I've read "Revealed" I intend to rewind and pick up "Rekindled."

Tamara Alexander had me with her first sentence. "Annabelle Grayson McCutchens stared at the dying man beside her and wished, as she had the day she married him, that she loved her husband more."

I saw a similarity between Annabelle's story in "Revealed" and "Reedeming Love" by Francine Rivers. Both in subject matter and the sweetness in how it was handled.

This enjoyable and touching novel should appeal to historical and romance fans and those who love to see God at work changing lives and hearts.

A solid, well-crafted novel with moments of pain, beauty and love that almost take the reader's breath away. The further I stepped into the story the sadder I became at the approaching ending.

The only complaint I could log would be that the book wasn't long enough to give a day by day detailed description of life between the main characters. I felt like I missed little shreds of developing relationship - a sign that I got overly involved with the characters. Which is the ultimate goal in fiction, is it not?

Reviewed by Kelly Klepfer

Friday, December 15, 2006

Kimberly Stuart's Balancing Act ~ Reviewed

Balancing Act
Kimberly Stuart
Published by NavPress
ISBN 1-60006-076-5

With her baby on one side and her career on the other, what's a girl to do?

As maternity leave comes to an end for Heidi Elliott, so does virtually everything she thought she knew. The substitute filling in for her high school Spanish classes has made a complete mess—not just with her students, but perhaps in a way far more personal. Her husband has made a habit of going out of his way to help a beautiful and wealthy client. And now, to further complicate things, Heidi's old boyfriend has moved back to the neighborhood.

Fiercely independent, Heidi has never been one for group activities, much less church chats and teas. Pushed into accepting an invitation to the Wednesday night Moms' Group, she finds herself in a sea of polyester, polka dots, big hair, and surprisingly strong women who just might hold the lifeline she didn't think she needed.

Stuart has aptly named this book. She employs a perfect balance of humor and tender moments in this rollicking good read. I carried it everywhere with me for two days. Whether standing in line at the grocery store or picking up the dry-cleaning, I was reading and either laughing or sighing, but never was I bored.

Balancing Act is delightful and fresh. The spiritual thread is honest and definitely not preachy. It's a book a non-Christian could enjoy without rolling their eyes. Heidi's sarcastic wit lightens the moments that could easily have become schmaltzy or lumbering.

Like a virtuoso, Stuart delivered the denouement with a fresh approach that rang with honesty—a huge debut novel, in this reviewer's opinion. Balancing Act receives Novel Reviews' highest recommendation.

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Terri Blackstock's Night Light ~ Reviewed

Night Light
Volume Two in A Restoration Novel series.
By Terri Blackstock
Published by Zondervan
ISBN: 0310257689

In this second book of the A Restoration Novel series, the Branning family still struggles to adapt to a simpler lifestyle, forced upon them by a worldwide catastrophe. A mysterious force has caused all the electronics on earth to fail, throwing technology dependant societies back into horse and buggy days. Automobiles with their advanced microchip dependency molder in garages, unable to run. It really doesn't matter, since there is no power to pump fuel. Running water is a thing of the past, as is garbage collection, any speed internet, and phone service, cell or landline. As people become more desperate, lawlessness increases.

The Branning family, pre-catastrophe, lived the life of upper class suburbanites. Now they are forced to boil their own water, barter for food, and learn new methods to survive in this unfamiliar world. But they are better off than many of their fellow townspeople. When their food is stolen by four abandoned and hungry children, they are faced with a new reality, one of third world conditions in their own backyard. Their newfound faith won't let them turn their backs on the squalor or the four waifs. They take the three boys and little girl into their own home as they try to locate the children's mother. The search leads them into evil and dangerous territory and risks the lives of two of the children.

Night Light explores an intriguing concept-how would modern society, with its dependence on technology adapt to a post-technological world? A frightening prospect to say the least. Night Light follows the Branning family-husband and former stockbroker Doug, soccer mom wife Kay, twenty-two year old Deni, sixteen year old Jeff, twelve year old Beth and nine year old Play Station addict Logan as each learns to adapt to this new lifestyle none of them want, but must inhabit.

I found it a little difficult to get into the story, but I suspect that is because I haven't read the first book in the series, Last Light, which begins the Branning's journey. I feel like I've missed a whole dimension of these characters by starting with the second book instead of the first. My suggestion, start with Last Light, then Night Light. The third book in the series, True Light, releases next summer.

Review by Cheryl Russell

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Marina Lewycka's A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian ~ Reviewed

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian
by Marina Lewycka
Published by Penguin Books
ISBN: 0-14-303-674-2

When an elderly and newly widowed Ukranian immigrant declares his intention to remarry, his intended turns out to be a voluptuous gold digger from the old country with a proclivity for green satin underwear and an insatiable appetite for the good life of the West. And so his children Vera and Nadezhda must set aside years of bitter rivalry to rescue their annoyingly frisky father who (when he's not pursuing Valentina) is busily writing a grand history of the tractor and its role in human progress. As the intrigues multiply and secrets spill out, A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian takes in love and suffering, family and ethnicity, sibling rivalry and the joys of growing old disgracefully.

The title is a huge red flag, but I wanted to give the book a try. To my dismay, the most interesting character turned out to be Valentina, though I didn't care for her schemes, at least they made her interesting. A great deal of unneeded information about tractors caused the book to drag, and viewing the story through one POV did not feel like the best choice, perhaps adding to the overall slowness of the book, since I didn't really feel a connection with Nadezhda.

Reviewed by Imogene Foltz

Monday, December 11, 2006

Mindy Starns Clark's Elementary, My Dear Watkins ~ Reviewed

Elementary, My Dear Watkins
by Mindy Starns Clark
Published by Harvest House, Jan 2007
ISBN: 978-0-7369-1487-1

When someone tries to push Jo Tulip in front of a New York train, her ex-fiance, Bradford, suffers an injury while saving her--and the unintentional sleuth is thrown onto the tracks of a very personal mystery.

Jo's boyfriend, Danny Watkins, is away in Paris, so she begins a solo investigation of her near-murder. What secret was Bradford about to share before he took the fall? And when Jo uncovers clues tied to Europe, can she and Danny work together in time to save her life?

Mindy's third book in her Smart Chick Mystery series is more dark than its predecessors, lacking the light-hearted lilt I'd come to expect and relish. While book two sets us up to expect Danny's absence from Jo's side, I missed their interplay and waited expectantly to see them together again, which finally occured much later in the story. Meanwhile, Jo hits the trail to discover the person behind the anonymous e-mails that warn her she is in danger. The police seem of little help, so Jo takes matters into her own hands and is forced to reside under the protective wings of her rather cold-hearted grandmother, where we meet a new character; Alexa is a troubled teen who has her own POV. As her story unfolds and secrets are revealed, the teenager's vulnerabilities are exposed, which endeared me to her even more.

Danny's own adventure in Paris directly influences him in his decision to return to Jo, though at the risk of losing his internship. When they are reunited, the pace really picks up. And though the multiple twists and turns at the end seemed overdone, Jo's happily-ever-after was warm and satisfying.

Reviewed by Sandra Moore

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Susan May Warren's Sands of Time ~ Reviewed

Sands of Time
by Susan May Warren
Published by Steeple Hill
ISBN: 13:978-0-373-78568-1

An inexplicable ailment was striking down the children of Russia; in less than forty-eight hours, American medical missionary Sarai Curtiss had watched two young patients slip away, and she feared she might have an epidemic on her hands. Yet how could she help anyone in the middle of a violent coup? The new leadership had demanded all foreigners leave the state--on pain of death.

Unwilling to leave her clinic, but unable to combat her enemies alone, Sarai had to join forces with an unlikely ally--Roman Novik, the rebel Cobra Captain who broke her heart. Faced with a corrupt government, a brutal military and the truth of their own deepest feelings, it would be a race against time to save the lives on the line--and an entire country at risk.

Written with the layering and preciseness I've come to expect from this author, I did struggle with the setting. The first chapter seemed out of place and unnecessary and set a tone of confusion that stayed with me until Roman and Sarai finally met. From there the story took on a brighter shine and I enjoyed the conflict between the two and their race against time. Susan has a knack for penning romantic characters who are fascinating to watch as they unpeel the many layers of each others weaknesses. I found Yanna more of a hindrance to Roman than a help, but the overall quality of the writing made up for that small irritation.

Reviewed by Imogene Foltz

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Cindy Thompson's Brigid of Ireland ~ Reviewed

Brigid of Ireland
By Cindy Thomson
Monarch Books 2006
ISBN-13: 978-0-8254-6112-5

Brigid is born in 5th century pagan-dominated Ireland, the daughter of a slave woman, and a slave herself to her brutal father. Torn from her mother, desperately seeking love and acceptance, Brigid converts to the new religion popularized by the traveling preacher Patrick—and the miracles start.

But so does the opposition, from rulers and sorcerers opposed to her faith and growing fame. The Irish people cling to superstitions and fears. Can she overcome them—and face her hatred for her father? Can she find the mother she misses so acutely? Has she truly been called by God?

Brigid of Ireland is Cindy Thomson’s first novel. Her research is evident throughout the book with detailed accounts of the druid’s religion and the very real struggle between Christianity and paganism.

It is refreshing to see characterized the loving mother/daughter relationship between Brigid and Brocca. Their lengthy separation and subsequent reunion certainly plays a part in their strong bond of love, but I believe it’s their shared faith that knits them even tighter.

I must confess my annoyance with Brigid when faced with the decision to renounce her earthly Christian works such as feeding the poor and spreading the Gospel. Seems like a simple, albeit painful, choice to make, yet she takes the easy route and gives in. Silly girl. But upon reflection, how many times do I myself cave under pressure even when I know what the right choice should be?

Brigid of Ireland is a painless and entertaining exposure to the history of the Emerald Isles. There’s plenty of facts and truths minus the usual boring dates and names in a history textbook. If you’d like to brush-up or expand your knowledge of Ireland, this is the book for you.

Review by Michelle Griep

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Jill Elizabeth Nelson's Reluctant Runaway ~ Reviewed

Reluctant Runaway
By Jill Elizabeth Nelson
Published by Multnomah, March 2007

ISBN: 1590526872

Reluctant Runaway is book two of the To Catch a Thief series from Multnomah in which suspense author Jill Elizabeth Nelson continues her fast-paced, exhilarating adventure filled with danger and just a hint of romance. This time Nelson takes readers on a mind-spinning race to find out why a young mother has disappeared.

Involved in an occult called The Inner Witness, Karen Webb seems to have abandoned her husband and newborn baby. Since nothing related to her disappearance adds up, it’s not clear if Karen ran away to serve Inner Witness or if she was taken against her will. Karen’s departure doesn’t make sense to her Aunt Max, especially since her niece’s disappearance might be linked to a robbery at the New Mexico Museum of Art and Anthropology where Karen worked.

Desiree, Max’s best friend and a Boston-based security consultant, knows what she’s doing when she promises Max she will get to the bottom of Karen’s disappearance, but will Desiree’s FBI agent boyfriend, Tony Lucano, get in her way? Overprotective and blinded by his feelings for Desiree, he warns her to stay away from the case, but she has little choice since her own security company was responsible for protecting the museum that was robbed.

When Desiree’s case becomes entangled to one Tony is already working on, they both find themselves caught in a trap of evil. They will need to combine their skills and faith to save Karen and to stop dangerous illegal activities involving big money, museum relics, and the battle of spiritual forces which all come together in a riveting ride that is well worth the read.

Reviewed by Tina Gray

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Janice A. Thompson's The Wedding Caper ~ Reviewed

The Wedding Caper
By: Janice A. Thompson
Published by Mountain Breeze Ministries
ISBN 1-59789-524-5

What’s a wife to think when her husband waltzes into the house and hands her $25,000.00 in cold hard cash? Is he a betting man, a lottery winner, or a burglar? With twin daughters planning weddings just months apart, the thoughts of mega dollars bounced through her head.

Annie Peterson knows her husband Warren all too well, and he isn’t a thief. At least she didn’t think so. Her overactive imagination went into overdrive the day Warren handed her the money in a brown envelope without an explanation. To beat all, the Savings and Loan he worked at was short a night deposit for the exact amount in the bag.

Sure, Warren was a good man, a great father, a leader in their church, and honest. Or she thought he was. Annie couldn’t imagine he was a crook – even with the expense of not one, but two dream weddings in the planning.

Annie, convinced to exonerate her husband in her own mind, sets out to become an investigator. Her expertise comes from her wit and her internet sleuthing course she purchased at Her goal is simple – solve the mystery of the missing deposit.

Janice A. Thompson brings a humorous mixture of “I Love Lucy” antics into this well-written work. Her integration of the importance of a daily devotional time and learning to follow God’s lead in her life, brings a sense of joy into her novel.

Valuable lessons on honesty, trust and a personal faith are intertwined beautifully between the pages of this crime solving mystery. The Wedding Caper, the first in a series of contemporary humorous wedding mysteries from Barbour Publishing, sets Ms. Thompson up for a solid future as a novelist.

Her hilarious take on friendship leaves the reader laughing out loud. This cozy mystery gets a five star rating and a promise you’ll never look at “Softly and Tenderly” in the same light again.

A definite must for any avid reader’s favorite list, The Wedding Caper will capture your heart…and the criminal.

Reviewed by Cindy Sproles

Friday, December 01, 2006

Kate Lloyd's A Portrait of Marguerite ~ Reviewed

A Portrait of Marguerite
By Kate Lloyd
Published by RiverOak
ISBN 1-5891-9056-4

When single mom Marguerite Carr's son leaves for college, she feels as though her whole life has lost its focus. When a friend drags Marguerite to a drawing class—her first since college—she discovers her long-lost passion for painting, finds unexpected love, and most of all learns that God's unfailing love and tender forgiveness covers all—even our deepest, darkest secrets.

A Portrait of Marguerite is one of the best debut novels I've read. Although I found Marguerite's epiphany moment to be tied up into too neat a little package, it didn't spoil the story for me, and she avoided the temptation to give all the sub-plots a tidy ending. One in particular was left wide open. Life is like that and I found this reality a refreshing change.

I thoroughly enjoyed this debut novel from Lloyd and read it in only two sittings. Bravo, Kate. I'm looking forward to reading more from you. Novel Reviews gives A Portrait of Marguerite a high recommendation.

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan