Thursday, December 27, 2007

Deborah Raney's Within This Circle ~ Reviewed

Within This Circle
By Deborah Raney
Published by Steeple Hill
ISBN-10: 0-373-78594-1

After a tumultuous courtship, John and Julia Brighton have a second chance at happiness. With tragedy behind them and their children grown, they’re looking forward to a new promising era in their lives.

Only, such a promise is never guaranteed. And life can change in a moment.

The Brightons’ lives are turned upside down when John’s daughter Jana abandons her husband, Mark, and three-year-old daughter. John and Julia reach out to young Ellie, to give the young couple time to heal, but how can they help this child, so confused and longing for Mommy? And how much sorrow and stress can both fledgling marriages endure? Two very different couples, each with only their love and faith to guide them, can only pray that it will be enough.


Within This Circle is the long-awaited sequel to A Vow to Cherish. The storyline, although not at all what I thought it would be, was wonderful. She's the consummate storyteller and has never written one I didn’t love. Somehow, she always avoids the expected, the clichéd. I was totally caught up in the lives of these people and had to know what happened. I started reading about 9:30 PM Christmas night and forgot about time completely until I turned the last page—somewhere after 2:00 AM.

But then, a Deborah Raney book is like that. She always tackles tough subjects and Within This Circle is no different. Her characters possess multi-layered personalities with good and bad

traits. And they live on in your memory long after you’ve finished the book. As a reviewer, I read 2-3 books a week. After a while, the stories tend to run together, except for the books of a handful of authors. And Raney tops that list.

If you want a great read, I highly recommend Within This Circle.

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan

Friday, December 21, 2007

C.J. Illinik's Najila ~ Reviewed

C.J. Illinik
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications (July 27, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0825429072
ISBN-13: 978-0825429071


From the day she is born in Baghdad, Najila's life is defined by conflict. Her mother is a Muslim and her father the Greek Orthodox Byzantine ambassador to Persia, she must one day choose between their beliefs.

When her father dies is a tragic accident, seventeen-year-old Najila inherits his estate -- Hawk's Hill in Constantinople -- and something far more precious: his beautiful amber and silver cross. After her father's death, a bitter and grieving Najila leaves her home behind and sets out to claim her inheritance in Constantinople, a new and unfamiliar city where she finds many surprises waiting for her: an enemby, romance and a new life.

Leaving behind all she has ever know, Najila will be forever changed by Hawks Hill and her father's beloved cross as they push her to discover herself and finally come to terms with her faith.

My Review:

C J Illinik wowed me with her historical knowledge. I almost felt like I was on horseback with Najila and company, or sitting in the lush gardens, or strolling through the busy streets of Constantinople.

The tale Najila is a story narrated omnisciently as Najila loses her mother at age four and beyond as Najila, at age sixty-nine, chooses to surprise the reader with a life change. Several storylines wind and weave covering land, war, politics, horses and faiths. History buffs should find the descriptions intriguinging. I can't imagine the amount of research Illinik invested in the story of Najila.

I did find it difficult to embrace the characters due to the time span. Those who devour character-driven fiction may feel the same frustration.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Hake, Mills, Raney & Livingstons' Missouri Memories ~ Interviewed

Missouri Memories: Finishing Touches/ Beyond the Memories/Finally Home/The Pretend Family
By Kelly Eileen Hake, DiAnn Mills, Deborah Raney & Joyce Livingston,
Published by Barbour Publishing
ISBN 978-1-59789-595-8

If walls could talk ... what stories of faith and romance would the House on Cranberry Hill tell?

Finishing Touches: Captain Gregory Alan Royce has amassed a small fortune in 1898 to build his bride a spectacular home overlooking the Mississippi River at Hannibal, Missouri. But when his intended elopes with another, will there ever be a bride to grace the halls of the captain’s home?

Beyond the Memories: The house on Cranberry Hill was a gift from Maime Bradford’s husband, but since he was lost in The Great War and the depression hit, Maime opened the house to people in need. Could she possibly lose her heart to one new resident who reminds her so much of her late husband?

Finally Home: After the Vietnam War, Brian Lowe returns home to the family mansion in a wheelchair, only to be assigned to a physical therapist who is an outspoken war protestor. Can he find common ground with Kathy Nowlin?

The Pretend Family: Tadd Winsted has turned the grand house into a restaurant and spun a complicated tale that has his German parents believing he has gotten married. When Tadd hires Sabrena Stewart and her daughter to pose as his family, how far will the ruse go before someone learns the true meaning of love?

I’m a romantic. When I see a grand old home, I stop to daydream about who lived there and what their lives were like. This collection of novellas did just that. The common thread is the house and what happened therein. I loved how the stories followed one another in a different time period with altogether different characters from unrelated families.

Each novella was well-written with characters I cared about. Often in a collection like this, one story stands out above the others. Not so in this collection. I enjoyed each one as well as the one before it. I have to say Missouri Memories is the best novella collection I’ve read to date, and I give it a very high recommendation.

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan

Friday, December 14, 2007

Cara Putnam's Canteen Dreams ~ Reviewed

Canteen Dreams
Cara Putnam
Mass Market Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc (October 1, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1597898678
ISBN-13: 978-1597898676

Click here for Cara's guest blog at Novel Journey (12-12-07)

Cover Copy:

In the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, Audrey Stone wants to help in the war effort. But what's a young schoolteacher from Nebraska to do? When her community starts a canteen at the train station, Audrey finds her place. She spends nearly every spare moment there, offering food and kindness to the soldiers passing through. Despite her busyness, Audrey does allow some time to get to know a handsome rancher.

Willard Johnson worries about his brother who joined the navy to get off the ranch and see the world. When Willard's worst fear is confirmed, he feels he must avenge by enlisting himself. But will his budding relationship with Audrey weather the storms of war? Or will one of the many soldiers at the canteen steal her away from him?

Can two such determined people find their place in the war and with each other?

My Review:

I don't consider myself a history nut, but maybe I am. I loved reading about 1942 Nebraska and the North Platte welcome given to the soldiers just passing through. Putnam painted some scenes so powerfully that I could almost smell and hear the unfolding drama. Since Nebraska is in my own back yard, the read was even more entertaining as I've been to some of the same locations though half a century later.

A rich read that took me back to a gentler time. Heroism must be doing what you have to do regardless of the fear and sorrow that threatens to overwhelm you. If that's the case, there are a few heroes in Canteen Dreams.

Historical romance lovers should enjoy this story.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Karen Ball's What Lies Within ~ Reviewed

What Lies Within
By Karen Ball
Published by Multnomah
ISBN 978-1-59052-415-2

Back Cover :

Kyla Justice owns one of the most critically acclaimed, commercially successful construction companies in the Pacific Northwest. And yet, something is missing. When she’s asked to build a center for inner-city kids, she finally realizes what’s lacking; purpose. Now nothing can stop her, not supply problems, gang opposition, or her boyfriend’s request to sell her business and marry him. And most especially not that disagreeable Rafael Murphy.

Rafe Murphy understands battle. Wounded in action, this Force Recon Marine carries the scars – and the nightmares – to prove it. No longer able to fight overseas, he’s found his place as a warrior in the civilian world. So he soldiers on, trusting God to reveal why Rafe survived the ambush in Iraq. That day has arrived.

Together, Kyla and Rafe discover their very foundations, there’s only one way to survive: rely on each other – and surrender to God. In other words, risk everything….

Review :

What Lies Within is the third book in the Family Honor Series. Karen Ball has saved the best for last.

Karen richly develops each character and I connected with them right away. Chapter after chapter the plot thickens; and my heart raced. There are many twists and surprises revealed as the hearts of the characters Rafe, Kyla, Fredrick and gang leader King K are exposed.

The story caused me to wonder what lies deep within my own heart. As I read the struggle of Rafe Murphy – x-marine, trying to make sense of his new life; Kyla – a strong women; CEO of her successful construction company as she does her job in a male dominated field. She’s as tough as they come – she has to be. The author is gut honest as Rafe and Kyla share what is in their hearts and on their minds

In the author notes Karen Ball says that this book was an answer to prayer. As I read this intricate story I could see God’s message emerging from the beginning of this tale to the end. It’s powerful; and enlightening in many ways.

The story starts off with a bang as Rafe Murphy (leader of Force Recon Marine Squade) is in the middle of trying to save his men from impending death as the enemy is ready to pounce on them.

When he comes home he gets involved in a war that is much more personal; something he never expected to be involved with – fighting a gang in his very own neighborhood. Rafe comes to grips with the fact that those involved in combating gangs – and those resisting them – need prayer 24/7. This is a new type of combat for him. The world of gangs is a dark, pervasive place, where humanity gives way to violence and mercy to degradation. Once in a gang the only way out is death. There is only one source of light in such darkness and that is Jesus Christ. Rafe and Kyla learn that there is nothing good that lives in their hearts – but Jesus.

At the beginning of each chapter there is a quote from someone famous and a scripture. Some of these quotes and scripture pierced my heart before the chapter did. A few of the many quotes that the Holy Spirit used to get my attention are “We crucify ourselves between two thieves: regret for yesterday & fear of tomorrow.” Fulton Oursler

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones that you did do…Explore. Dream. Discover” Mark Twain.

“God knows all hearts and He sees you. He keeps watch over your soul” Proverbs 24:12

The impact of this book is deep. It continues to work on my heart and my mind as the Lord keeps replaying segments of this book in my mind; through my day. It makes me realize yet again that God knows what is in the depths of my soul and still loves me. He will use me if I’m willing to be willing to let Him do the impossible deep inside my heart, mind and soul. This book is a keeper. You’ll want to re-read this story and discover treasure you might have missed the first time.

Nora St.Laurent
Life Way Book Club Servant Leader

Monday, December 10, 2007

Susan Page Davis' Sarah's Long Ride ~ Reviewed

Sarah's Long Ride (Piper Ranch)
Susan Page Davis
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 184 pages
Publisher: Journeyforth (March 30, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1591667372
ISBN-13: 978-1591667377

Back Cover

The Bandicoot 100 is coming up, and Sarah Piper and her horse Icicle are registered for the race. But now that her mother has died. Sarah has no riding partner.

Adjusting to a new home with Uncle Joe and far from her friends, Sarah realizes that endurance is not something she needs just for the race. She needs it for life.


I was pleasantly surprised that this was not your typical story about a girl who becomes an orphan; is left with adults who do horrible things to that orphan. Quite the opposite is true in this book. Sarah is the orphan who loses her mom unexpectedly two weeks before “The Bandicoot 100” in Oregon. That is the competition that Sarah and her mom were registered to compete in together.

After Sarah’s mom dies she isn’t sure how her uncle really feels about her and why he wanted her to live with him in the first place. But as the story unfolds you see both Sarah and her Uncle live and breathe horses and God. That is their connection. It was difficult for them at first to work out new routines for their lives and learn about one another. It was fascinating how both Sarah and Uncle Joe planned their days around caring for the many horses on the Piper Ranch. They also had to work out how they could find time to train the horses for the competition and do the normal chores.

Sarah’s faith is tested and she learns to press into her faith in God her father. She takes comfort in scripture one night (Isaiah 65:24) “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer, and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.”

Sarah’s prayer that night is “Thank you for answering my prayer, Father;” she whispers “You gave me everything I needed, even when I was too hurt to know what that was…Thanks especially for Uncle Joe. You know we needed each other.”

I was amazed at all the checks and balances that were planned within the Bandicoot 100 competition. Everyone wants to make sure that the horses and humans do not get hurt or abused during the race. Susan does a great job about taking you inside the world of horse competition and horse care. It was very interesting to read.

This is a story of faith, hope and love as you get to know Sarah and Uncle Joe. See their struggle to get to know each other and become a family unit. This story will grab your heart strings. You don’t have to be a horse lover to enjoy this story. I highly recommend this book for everyone to read.

Nora St. Laurent
Life Way Book Club Servant Leader
Novel Journey Reviewer

Friday, December 07, 2007

Lena Nelson Dooley's Who Am I? ~ Reviewed

Who Am I?
By Lena Nelson Dooley
Published by Heartsong Presents
ISBN 978-1-59789-782-2

Back Cover

Leiann Hambrick was settled into a comfortable life as a Texas schoolteacher . . .but then her mother dies and her world is turned upside down. A letter Leiann receives causes her to question her very identity. What will she learn when she goes to Boston to meet the grandfather she has never known?
Gerome Mays has discovered that someone is stealing from his wealthy stepfather. When Leiann shows up claiming to be his stepfather’s long-lost granddaughter, Gerome wonders if she’s involved. But as his attraction for her grows, unexplained accidents lead Gerome to a more sinister plot.
Will Leiann learn to forgive those who lied to her and find her true identity in the Lord? Can Gerome save Leiann’s life and his stepfather’s fortune?


The story line of this book is good. I felt it flowed nicely, with a plot that kept me on the edge. Lena Nelson Dooley really brought the characters to life. There were a few things that left me wondering, after I finished the book, one is why her mother had never told Leiann that her stepfather wasn’t her real father. Even though, I was left with some questions, it didn’t impact the story enough to keep me from enjoying it. The book is only 170 pages, so it makes for a quick, pleasurable read.

Reviewed by Diane T. Stokowski

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Virginia Smith's Bluegrass Peril ~ Reviewed

Bluegrass Peril
Virginia Smith
Mass Market Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Steeple Hill (December 4, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0373442726
ISBN-13: 978-0373442720

Cover Copy:

Who killed her boss?

Local police had tagged single mom Becky Dennison as their prime suspect. But she'd only been in the wrong place at the wrong time...admittedly, with her boss's lifeless body. Sure, it looked bad, but Becky had no motive for killing the man -- even if she had opportunity.

Then, Scott Lewis, handsome assistant manager of a nearby horse farm, entered Becky's life. Soon the amateur detectives were hot on the trail of the murderer...even as their feelings for each other deepened. And for Becky and Scott, this race on the Kentucky tracks had the greatest stakes of all: life or death.

My Review:

Virginia Smith writes a nice little mystery in Bluegrass Peril. I didn't pick up on the killer until near the end and her red herrings were iffy in a good way. I'm amazed at the amount of story she managed to pull off in the limitations of the word count. Not only is there an intruiging mystery, Smith weaves in information regarding a worthy charity/cause, the drama of single motherhood with a financial pinch tossed in for good measure, a new love interest and a past that reaches out and muddies everything. All ended neatly organized.

Though romance isn't a favorite genre, I'll keep my eye on Virginia Smith.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Monday, December 03, 2007

F.P. Lione's Clear Blue Sky ~ Reviewed

By F.P. Lione
Published by Revell
ISBN# 978-0-8007-1886-2

From the Back Cover
I drove up 33rd Street and made a left onto 5th. I drove two blocks south and parked outside the bagel store, smelling the bagels before we got in the door. Are the everythings hot? I asked the guy behind the counter. They just came out ten minutes ago. Great, I said. Give me an everything with butter and a regular coffee. Joe was getting an egg sandwich, so I went outside with my coffee. I pulled back the plastic tab on the Styrofoam cup to blow on the coffee. Something caught the corner of my eye, and I looked straight down 5th Avenue and saw smoke coming from one of the towers of the World Trade Center.

Clear Blue Sky is a glimpse into a day in the life of street cops starting on September 2nd leading up to the events of September 11, 2001.

“Greater Love has no man than this that he lay down his life for his friends.” This is what firefighters, policeman and other rescue works gave on that fateful day. The main character Tony Cavalucci is a macho Italian who has been a patrol policeman in New York for the past 11 years. Tony’s father had 22 years on the force before that. Tony’s precinct is Midtown, Manhattan, in a brick building off 9th Avenue. His partners name is Joe, another macho Italian man who is a born again Christian.

Anyone remember the TV show NYPD BLUE? That show was kind of a day in the life of real policeman on the job and off in their personal lives. September 2nd Tony & Joe volunteer to get some overtime on Labor Day patrolling for a parade heading downtown. The events are similar to the ones I remember NYPD BLUE show to be.

Tony Cavalucci is a new Christian and his Italian family is not so happy about his decision to follow Jesus. Tony is engaged and his brother Vinny wants to give him a bachelor party that will include lots of drinking and prostitutes. Tony and his bride to be don’t want any part of this party. Vinny and the rest of the family think that there is something wrong with Tony when he doesn’t embrace the bachelor party with open arms. His family and brother think he’s no fun anymore. He doesn’t want to drink with them, and he doesn’t want to have bachelor parties. What’s up? The family thinks it must be his fiancé Michelle. Tony’s family hopes he hasn’t taken this Jesus stuff serious. They think Tony will come around to his old ways soon it will just take a little manipulating by the family to control the situation.

Tony struggles to honor his family and follow Jesus. On an early morning fishing trip with family and a few friends Tony explains why it’s ok sometimes to miss church. “If you are only going to church because you’re afraid God’s gonna punch you, you’re going for the wrong reasons anyway. I don’t like to miss church and I don’t do it very often. But the Lord likes fishing, and He’ll be there with us!” I like how he said that.

Tony says to himself “I took Joes’ advice (about praying) but I found I couldn’t focus trying to pray, drive and keep my eye on the cab at the same time. Joe seemed to be fine with it, so I left the praying to him.”

I get a kick out of Tony sharing his struggle as he says “Honestly – Okay – I didn't’ say crap, I said the “S” word and was feeling guilty about it. Then I thought about what Joe says, that God forgives me if I ask Him to, and I felt confused that I cursed and now I expected God to forgive me when I did something wrong. ; Then I got aggravated that I had all this crap in my head when I was trying to cuff this guy and was glad when Rooney jumped out of the car and ran over to help me.” It’s funny and gut honest. I can see this macho Italian man doing this on the streets of New York.

As I read about Tony and Joe and their lives as policemen I kept wondering when September 11 events would happen as I turn the next page. These patrol men are not search and rescue personnel. They are street policemen walking their beat when tragedy strikes. No one was quite sure of what happened when the first plane hit (like the rest of us). I’m sure everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing on that day when that first tower got hit. The first mission for the patrol cops was to keep some kind of order on the streets by keeping the traffic and people moving away from the towers. No one was sure of what would happen next. They wanted everyone out of the city and out of danger.

I know that I could not fully grasp what was happening on the streets of New York after that first plane went into the building and then the second when I watched the video clip on TV over and over that day. F.P. Lione interviewed policemen that actually lived thru this. They describe what happened through not only what they saw, but what they heard, smelled, touched and felt physically and emotionally. It was really enlightening to read the description.

TONY Cavalucci actually starts to pray for each person that jumped from the building. He says “I remembered what Joe said about going ino God’s thrown room, and I asked God if I could come in and talk to him. I felt inside he told me yes, to come in and pray for these people.”

I liked how this book showed Tony and Joe’s faith in action on the streets of New York; it’s funny, sincere and edgy. It is a heavy subject that the authors handled really well. I know this book will be hard for some to read (because of the subject matter) but I really recommend it.

Nora St. Laurent
Life Way Christian Book Club Servant Leader

Saturday, December 01, 2007

December Release List - Jill Eileen Smith

Here is the December 2007 line-up of new Christian fiction releases in time to add to your Christmas gift list.

1. Bluegrass Peril by Virginia Smith from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. When Becky Dennison's boss at a retirement farm for thoroughbred stallions is murdered, she becomes entrenched in a high-stakes game of danger, money, and that famous southern pride.

2. Buried Sins by Marta Perry, from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. Caroline Hampton flees to her family's inn in peaceful Pennsylvania Amish country after her husband's death, but even there, someone with deadly intent wants her to believe he's still alive.

3. Gavin Goodfellow: The Lure of Burnt Swamp Book One of the Burnt Swamp Trilogy by Candy Abbott from Fruitbearer Publishing. Dyslexic tween encounters Christ while battling witchcraft in Burnt Swamp where fires have been burning for ten years.

4. Heart of the Family 2nd in the Fostered by Love series by Margaret Daley from Steeple Hill Love Inspired. A past secret threatens Jacob and Hannah's newfound love.

5. Kansas Weddings a Heartsong 3-book compilation by Kim Vogel Sawyer from Barbour Publishing. Three Kansas women have difficult decisions to make and burdens to bear.

6. Missouri Memories by Deborah Raney, DiAnn Mills, Joyce Livingston, and Kelly Eileen Hake from Barbour Books. The beautiful House on Cranberry Hill in Hannibal, Missouri, holds love for four generations of couples.

7. Seasons of Love Book 3 Massachusetts Weddings by Elizabeth Goddard from Heartsong Presents. Riley O’Hare must revive her grandfather’s cranberry farm, but her brother’s untimely death thrusts her into his partner’s path and into the midst of a perilous cyber crime.

8. The Love Song by Anita Higman and Janice A. Thompson from Barbour Publishing (Heartsong Presents). With God's help, Clair O'Neal lets go of her painful past and accepts all the laughter and music and love her heart can hold.

Happy reading~

Friday, November 30, 2007

Christa Ann Banister's Around the World in 80 Dates ~ Reviewed

Around the World in 80 Dates
Christa Ann Banister
Paperback: 283 pages
Publisher: NavPress Publishing Group (October 15, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 160006177X
ISBN-13: 978-1600061776

Click here to read an interview with Christa (11-30-07)

Cover Copy:

Where's my happily ever after?

Sydney Alexander is a travel writer. She's a very well-dressed travel writer -- hasn't yet met a shoe or clearance sale she could pass up. She's funny. She's got a great relationship with her sis. She's got a hilarious next-door neighbor, Rain, who happens to be a hippie. And she's got a wonderful relationship with God. So what's missing?

A decent date. A date where she doesn't have to pay because he's "between jobs. A date where she's not fabulously fashionably ready to go only to learn "the band just got a last-minute gig" and he has to cancel. A date she wants to kiss good night, not run screaming from. Is that really to much to ask?

My review:

Around the World in 80 Dates is adorable. The description above does not do the book justice. Christa Ann Banister has a perfect chick-lit voice and is not afraid to use it. Classic, name brands, coffee shops, ice cream binges, girlfriends, guys and drama.

Chick-lit fans need to look into Around the World. Those with a love of quirk need to check it out.

Great descriptive writing through the eyes of sarcastic-witted Sydney as her life unfolds in the classic "what else can go wrong" format. Wacky omniscient peeks into the lives of her inner circle of friends are inserted throughout the novel.

Surprisingly, Around the World contains a spiritual message that will encourage patient twenty-and-thirty- something ladies-in-waiting. I will caution more sensitive readers...if you have any issues with alcohol, dating, or movie choices for Christians, consider yourself forewarned that you may disagree with some of Sydney and companies' entertainment choices.

This is one of the more fun reads I've devoured this year. I will definitely look forward to more from Christa Ann Banister. I'd also love to have a cup of coffee with her the next time I visit Mall of America.

Reviewed by:

Kelly Klepfer

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Roxanne Rustand's Hard Evidence ~ Reviewed

Hard Evidence
Roxanne Rustand
Publisher: Steeple Hill
ISBN 978-0-373-44271-3

Cover Copy:


Someone was lurking in the woods behind the isolated old cabins
Janna McAllister was fixing up. Who was he? And what could he want with a single mother who hadn’t set foot in Wyoming in years? Janna was suddenly grateful for her unexpected new lodgers: deputy sheriff Michael Robertson and his teenaged son. The strong, silent type, Michael made her fell safe – especially when human remains were found on the property. The cold case threatened to remain unsolved. Until Janna unwittingly found a clue that would tempt a killer to come out of the woodwork.

My Review:

Janna moves Snow Canyon Ranch, Wyoming after a failed marriage, wanting to reopen the once successful lodge and cabins in the mountains. Unfortunately, to her dismay, bad things seem to keep happening. This constant movement, written so clearly, kept me from putting this book down! It flowed so easily, leading me to get to know Janna McAllister quickly. The relationship between Janna and Michael developed in such a believable way. Ms. Rustand also touched upon the incredible beauty of Wyoming. This book got me guessing very early on. With each event that took place, I began to question everyone.

I can’t wait for the next book to come out about Snow Canyon Ranch in February, 2008. Don’t let that stop you from reading this book. This one does not leave you disappointed.

Reviewed by Diane T. Stokowski

Monday, November 26, 2007

Debra White Smith's Heather ~ Reviewed

Debra White Smith
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (September 15, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736919295
ISBN-13: 978-0736919296


When socialite Heather Winslow succumbs to her mother's push for a "coming out" ball after her college graduation, she grudgingly agrees to be interviewed by Duke Fieldman. Put off by the newspaperman's disdain but attracted by his good looks, Heather startles him by arranging a date. When she learns of Duke's desire to be a "real" reporter, she's intrigued. Can she help him?

Part of the Debutantes, Heather and her friends solve high-profile crimes. Presenting the evidence anonymously, along with a long-stemmed rose, the Debs become know as "The Rose." When they take on a murder, they cross paths with Duke, who wants to uncover The Rose's identity. The more Duke investigates, the more infatuated by becomes.

Heather, Lorna, and Brittan dig into the case. Can Heather keep her involvement a secret while dating Duke? How can she compete with his mystery-woman fascination?


A cute romp reminiscent of a fast-moving sitcom. Girl meets boy. Boy beneath her class, but oh, so charming. Girl has secret life and boy has issues.

Will they get together? Yes. But will the secrets/issues get in the way? Yes.

Peppered liberally with humor and sleuthing, this was a light-hearted read. Big Honken Chicken Club -- you should be able to handle Heather. Fans of Debra White Smith should likely enjoy it.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Carolyn Aarsen's All In One Place ~ Reviewed

All In One Place
Carolyn Aarsen
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: FaithWords (August 22, 2007)
ISBN 978-0-446-69682-1

Trouble seems to follow some individuals and Terra was no exception to the rule. Stunned she found herself standing in Harland, Montana, she’d returned to the company of her sister. Running from an abusive relationship she wondered why she’d bothered to look up Leslie since they’d not spoken in months. The one-sided sibling relationship was spearheaded by Leslie through e-mails and Terra wondered if the tie was repairable. Still she’d made a start. Showed up for round one.

Terra is hardly in town a few hours before she steps into the middle of trouble, ending up arrested by a handsome officer she can’t get out of her head. She’s been through a lot and why should Harland be any different than any other place she’d been? She wanted out and she wanted her sister to come with her. Torn from a life-style of endless jobs, relationships, and drinks --Terra hopes to find stability with her sister. She wasn’t prepared for the outcome.

Carolyne Aarsen spins a story that proves blood is thicker than water and that regardless of the past, family ties are strong. There are moments of laughter and times of frustration as the reader quickly passes through the pages of this easy read. I couldn’t help but fall in love with the depth Aarsen places into her characters making one think twice about those in need of Christ and how we can affect them. All In One Place is a captivating and enjoyable story spun together with all the perfect pieces.

Reviewed by Cindy Sproles
Mountain Breeze Ministries

Friday, November 23, 2007

Tricia Goyer's A Shadow of Treason ~ Reviewed

A Shadow of Treason
Tricia Goyer
Paperback: 350 pages
Publisher: Moody Publishers (September 1, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0802467687
ISBN-13: 978-0802467683

Back Cover:

When Walt reappears beckoning Sophie to rescue Spain, she falters. But the Spanish Republican army needs more weapons, and the lost gold from a shipment abroad is their only hope for winning the war. Sophie longs to stay with her new love Philip and let her photographs and paintings testify to the bombing of Guernica. But she complies, realizing only she can get close enough to the information they need.

Yet the price of her willingness is high. Michael, who betrayed Sophie's love and faked his own death, is the man she must befriend. His devotion to Franco flies in the face of Sophie's love for Spain and its people. While she despises him for this, her heart is not so calculated.

Sophie needs to keep her cover in order to have a hope of saving Spain. And she needs to get the information to Walt before it's too late. The stakes are high, and she cannot do this alone.

My Review:

Tricia Goyer continues the story of the Spanish Civil war and paints a picture of sorrow, pain, fear and hope. As in any war, the loss is considerable and the opportunities are endless for a chance to become a reluctant hero. Sophie went to Spain to find true love and ended up finding real love while sacrificing for a greater cause.

That cause, as often happens in conflict, becomes nebulous and hard to hold on to when faced with the belief and passion of the enemy. Is Sophie helping the right side? Is either side right?

Powerful plot, deep characters, vivid writing -- if you like Goyer, you'll want to get a copy. If you like reading about obscure bits of history and overlooked wars check into this series.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Marcia Laycock's One Smooth Stone ~ Reviewed

Title: One Smooth Stone
Author: Marcia Lee Laycock
Publisher: Castle Quay Books, October 2007
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Suspense
ISBN 189486034-9
This book is not available through Amazon. Click on the book cover to go to the author's blog for more information.

When 21-year-old Alex sees an outboard beach just below his isolated Yukon cabin, he’s apprehensive. But little does he know how the appearance of lawyer George from Seattle will change his life. Against better judgment he leaves with George and is soon facing not only his old demons but discovering new ones. He’s quickly on the lam again.

And so in One Smooth Stone, a debut novel by Canadian author Marcia Lee Laycock, we have the tale of a young man fleeing from his past only to encounter Someone who keeps dogging his steps at every turn.

Laycock’s plot is twisty and fast-paced with trouble heaped upon trouble. Major characters Alex and Kenni are complex and sympathetic, minors Bill and Ruby brilliant in their blackness. Laycock’s own experience of living in the north shows through in her plausible portrayal of Yukon life with its coterie of colorful people. The isolation sets off the rugged players and fits this somber story well.

For a somber tale it is, dealing with abuse (physical and sexual), abortion, family – and lack of it – anger, revenge and, finally, forgiveness and a new beginning. The book is boldly Christian in its answers and the reader is left with an aftertaste of hope.
One Smooth Stone would make a perfect Christmas stocking stuffer and a lively winter companion.

Reviewed by: Violet Nesdoly

Friday, November 16, 2007

James Scott Bell ~ Try Dying

Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Center Street (October 24, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1599956845
ISBN-13: 978-1599956848

Book Description:

"Ty Buchanan is a rising star in his L.A. law firm, until the suspicious death of his fiancee forces him into the underbelly of the city to discover the truth behind her death. He soon has more than his career on the line, as he finds himself tangled up with a mysterious group of former gang members, and becomes the target of a killer."

Reviewed by Gina Holmes

Amazing characterization, engaging plot, and impeccable writing--James Scott Bell's Try Dying is an excellent novel, well suited for the big screen. The super-short, action-packed chapters serve the story well and make for a riveting page-turner.

The plot is an intriguing one, reminiscent of The Fugitive, with an innocent man, good yet fallible, trying to prove his innocence while tracking down the real killer.

The characters are well fleshed, unique and engaging. The path Bell takes his protagonist on is not just one seeking to clear his name, but an inner journey which changes him in a most unexpected way. After closing Try Dying, readers will be left asking bigger questions of their own lives. Is it all about the pursuit of BMW's and Starbucks or is there something more, something bigger?

Try Dying-the title sums up the spiritual theme perfectly. This is not an overtly Christian book, but is a perfect gift to get anyone thinking on the bigger picture.

Can't wait for the movie, Jim!

Bonus Review:

In this fast paced thriller, Try Dying, lawyer Ty Buchanan is faced with the grim reality that his life is forever changed on a wet Tuesday morning in December when a man, Ernesto Bonilla, decides to end his life and his wife’s as well in a murder suicide. The problem with Ernesto’s suicide was that it happened on an overpass of a busy road in Los Angeles. He pulled the trigger causing his fall onto Jacqueline Dwyer’s car as she drove to work that morning.

The chain of events for Ty Buchanan flies quickly from grief to trying to find the killer of his fiancée, all while trying one of the biggest cases of his career. While I read this book, I was rooting for Ty Buchanan. James Scott Bell is a definite master of his craft. His mixture of humor, suspense and mental pictures is a great combination.

The only thing that I can compare this book to is a show that was canceled a few years ago called Eli Stone. The only difference between Ty Buchanan and Eli Stone is Eli had a brain tumor. Ty Buchanan just mentally snaps while trying to prepare for a major trial against big bully lawyer, Barton Walbert. While Ty is also dealing with investigating the death of his fiancée, he is assaulted physically several times. I ask… Wouldn’t YOU snap too while being bullied and tired of basically being told what to do from the gang thugs, his boss and Barton Walbert? I believe this book is a fun adventure and suspenseful pleasure to read. I give Try Dying a 4 ½ out of 5 stars.

Be blessed!

Reviewed by:
Bradley Evans

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Donita Paul's Dragonfire ~ Reviewed

By Donita K. Paul
Waterbrook 2007
ISBN 978-1-4000-7251-4

As wizards battle with fiery dragons, only a hero’s noble calling can save Amara.

Three years of strife have passed since Kale and Bardon freed Paladin’s knights. Now, fiery dragons scorch their beautiful countryside as an evil husband-and-wife wizard duo fight for supremacy. The people of Amara just want to be left alone, hoping the conflict will disappear. But Paladin is dying, and Bardon and Kale—now married—must accept fateful, separate assignments if their land is to survive. Can their efforts turn the tide against their adversaries?

Kale’s responsibility is to find, hatch, and train an army of dragons by working side-by-side with the dragon keeper father she has never known. As the Amara countrymen seek escape, she must gain a greater understanding of her gifts to overcome her doubts. And as the end draws near, with friends and family in serious jeopardy, both Bardon and Kale must face their greatest trials yet.

Prepare to experience breathtaking adventure and mind-blowing fantasy as never before in this stunning addition to Donita K. Paul’s popular Dragon keepers fantasy series.

What I most appreciate about this latest edition are the ‘principles of Wulder’ scattered throughout—principles that are really Proverbs. What a great way to impart Biblical truths without having to sit through a dry sermon.

I also loved the fact that Kale and Bardon are now married, though through most of the story they are separated. I’m hoping that in the next book they will be on a quest together. They are a dynamic duo, and it’d be interesting indeed to read about them working together as husband and wife.

As readers have come to expect, there are lots and lots of dragons. Without giving away too much information, there are a few heartrending scenes that are unexpected.
Kale’s depth of character is expanded in this tale. Readers will relate to her yielding to temptation, and the resultant sorrow and repentance that follows.

This is a great read for adults and young adults who enjoy fantasy—fantasy without dark, oppressive undertones. It’s a modern day parable that grabs the attention of the reader and won’t let up until the last page.

Review by Michelle Griep

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tamara Leigh's Splitting Harriet ~ Double Review

Splitting Harriet
Tamara Leigh
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Multnomah Fiction (November 20, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1590529286
ISBN-13: 978-1590529287

Splitting Harriet : Back Cover Copy

Once upon a time, I was a rebel. And I have the tattoos to prove it.

Did I mention I'm also a preacher's kid? That's right. And like the prodigal son after whom I modeled myself, I finally saw the error of my ways and returned to the fold. Today my life is all about "lead me not into temptation." When I'm not serving as Women's Ministry Director at my father's churs, I'm working at Gloria's Morning Cafe. I even have worthy goals, like saving enough money to buy the cafe, keeping my Jelly Belly habit under control, and never again hurting the people I love. No more parties. No more unsavory activities. And no more motorcycles! You'd think I was finally on the right track.

But since my dad's replacement hired a hotshot church consultant to revive our "dying" church, things aren't working out as planned. And now this "consultant" says I'm in need of a little reviving myself. Just who does this Maddox McCray think he is? With his curly hair that could use a good clipping, tattoo that he makes no attempt to hide, and black leather pants -- the man is downright dangerous. In fact, all that's missing is a motorcycle.Or so I thought...But if he thinks he's going to take me for a ride on that 1298cc machine, he can think again. Harriet Bisset is a reformed woman, and she's going to stay that way. Even if it kills me!
Ane's Review:
If you like humor mixed with dead-on characterization, you'll love Splitting Harriet. Her self-imposed role of tradition-savior is hilarious and almost oxymoronic, except Leigh makes you believe it. Well written, these characters leap off the page and into your life. Highly recommended, Splitting Harriet would make a great Christmas gift. Don't forget a copy for yourself, though, or you'll miss out on the fun.

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan
Kelly's Review:

I've never had more fun with church politics and upheaval. Did I say fun? Yes. Anyone looking for an entertaining and possibly convicting story needs to look into Splitting Harriet. This read contains a quirky grouping of characters, play dates for cats, and internal angst centered around a church. Harriet, a one woman crusade, attempts to keep her church family intact while keeping her carefully controlled life under wraps.

A fair amount of romance, some inner generational girlfriend fun, and loads of twists and confusion make Splitting Harriet a quick and snappy read.

The twist on the usual chick-lit is realistic and the not so flattering revelation of the humanity that explodes in church inner workings and leadership is too.

I ended up enjoying my time with Harri, and was glad that things weren't so neatly sewn up that we don't have a reason to revisit her life down the road.

Chick-lit lovers, quirky character collectors and those who take church politics a little too seriously might want to look further into Harriet.
Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Monday, November 12, 2007

Lisa Samson's Hollywood Nobody ~ Reviewed

Hollywood Nobody
Lisa Samson
Paperback: 221 pages
Publisher: Th1nk Books (August 30, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1600060919
ISBN-13: 978-1600060915

Two reviews below...

Book Description:

Fifteen-year-old Scotty Fitzgerald has spent her young life on the road, traveling to movie sets with her single mom, Charley. Yet even though she is wise beyond her years, Scotty still struggles to find her identity. Complicating matters is a mother who offers no guidance and a father she's never met.Scotty is determined to discover what she wants from life, even documenting the journey on her "Hollywood Nobody" blog. But as Scotty begins to find dark answers to tough questions, will her story have a happy ending?The first in s a series, Hollywood Nobody is a novel that examines real issues with honesty and humor.

Michelle's Review:

I devoured this book in two days. I rarely want to sneak off and read a book until I finish it, but this was one of those books. I adore anything Lisa Samson writes anyway because she is edgy and unconventional, but I'm telling you that she has a real winner here. The heroine is a fifteen-year-old girl, Scotty, who reminds me of several teens I know. Hey, I have a fifteen-year-old son and a fourteen-year-old son and I still loved the book, so you don't have to be YA to read it and love it. I adored how Scotty even had herself a pet phrase... "I'm just sayin'".

One reviewer said sometimes some of the things Scotty thought seemed old for her age. I totally disagree. I have very smart kids and they think like Scotty did...exactly. Teens are very perceptive these days. And Scotty had wisdom beyond her years due to exposure to many things she shouldn't know. The author made that point very well several times.

I loved the blogging theme of the story (of course) and the topics covered on the Hollywood Nobody blog. It was so realistic...right down to the funny comments. The main characters seemed so real to me. Her mother reminded me of some hippies I know (and knew) when I was younger. Very funny stuff! Especially the cheese fetish. Scotty was just so quirky and cool. I know several teens who love vintage wear and are so classy and weird in their own way, just like Scotty. I found her totally likeable and believable. Wonderful story. Intriguing plot. Hot topics (and great tension) with a hottie hero who is a movie star and also a great guy because Hollywood hadn't ruined him yet.

So check this book out. I guarantee it'll hold your attention. The ending is killer satisfying, but leaves you wanting more at the same time. March 2008--when the sequel comes out--is not soon enough for me. I loved this book!

Reviewed by: Michelle Sutton (pen name)

Kelly's Review:

Full of opinion on Hollywood happenings and trapped in a nomadic edge-of-Hollywood lifestyle by her mother, Scotty really has no other outlet than to secretly blog her insider facts and opinions. Self-schooled and mature enough to be the adult when her mom can't hack it, Scotty spends her days turning activities into units and projects for higher learning and her nights wondering if she will be awakened at three a.m. and told that they are moving on.

Scotty's thoughts are years beyond her biological age because she has such an atypical life, yet there is an innocence and insecurity that pops up when life gets ubercrazy. With a cynical and world-weary voice delivered through teen angst and confusion, Scotty burrowed into my heart.

A twist at the end will make me grab the next installment.

No empty preaching here. Just a girl who's wondering what the point is? What's truth? What is life supposed to be anyway? Scotty's story crosses age barriers.

Teens and adults alike will find themselves sucked into Hollywood Nobody.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Katy Pistole's The Palomino ~ Reviewed

Note: This is an older series and may have limited availability. But Caitie enjoyed it and took the time to write the review and we have a quiet week, so we're going to post it.

The Palomino
by Katy Pistole
Pacific Press
ISBN 0-8163-1863-8

The Sonrise Farm Series
Book One
A young girl’s daring rescue of an abused horse, and their adventures.

Jenny Thomas has her heart set on one thing – a golden Palomino all her own. But it seems like the only horse she will ever have is the one in the poster on her bedroom wall. At least there’s horse camp to look forward to—if she can earn the money.

Jenny’s week at Sonrise Farms is pure heaven! Her natural talent in the saddle [and hard work cleaning stalls] leads to a dream job and the happiest summer of her life. Along with lessons in horsemanship, Jenny learns to trust God more and more. With her dad’s help, she commits her heart and her life to Jesus. Her growing faith and maturity will serve Jenny well in the life-and-death challenges she will face with her beloved horses. An auction and a jumping competition become the ultimate tests for Jenny’s skills, and her faith as well.

Come meet Jenny Thomas and her courageous Palomino mare Sunny. Their inspirational adventures are based on true stories, and are sure to inspire horse lovers of all ages. Beautifully written by Katy Pistole, this first volume of the Sonrise Farm series, will help children learn more about horses and God’s redeeming grace.

It's me, Caitie, and this week we have The Palomino by Katy Pistole.I LOVED this story. It's about a girl named Jenny Thomas and her dad loses his job because his boss lost his money when someone stole it from the company. Jenny wants to go to horse camp but it was $200. That much money surprised her.This book was mostly happy but kind of sad. I won't tell you the end but I really liked it. I think people should read it.Watch for my interview with Katy Pistole in a couple of weeks. If you have a question you'd like me to ask her, leave that in my comments too!!

Bye for now-Caitie
Book reviews by a kid for kids

Friday, November 09, 2007

Molly Noble Bull's Sanctuary ~ Reviewed

Molly Noble Bull
Paperback: 286 pages
Publisher: Tsaba House (September 15, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1933853506

Click here for an interview with Molly. (11-09-07)

Book description:

Fleeing persecution in 18th-century France, Jewish Rachel Levin and Huguenot Pierre Dupre take refuge in a church. They're safe, until the man who killed Rachel's family arrives. Captain Vallae wants her as his mistress---or dead! Rachel and Pierre's "marriage" and subsequent escape leave Vallae furious! Can they reach Scotland before the captain takes revenge?

My review:

Sanctuary is a riveting historical with a twist of suspense and a tender romance born of tragedy. I love stories where someone is out to get two young people who long for love but dare not experience it due to tragic circumstances. I had no idea when I started this book that it would give me everything I love. The cover is a bit "dark" so it didn't pull me toward the story. The publication date did and my need to review it in advance. This is a great example of not being able to tell a book by it's cover. The picture is calm. The story is anything but calm. It's action, adventure, intrigue, peril, love, loss, and intense faith. See what I mean?

This story had me turning the pages as I experienced their fear as they fled from the French Captain bent on destroying them. Their slowly developing feelings brought about by hardship and the need to learn to trust each other swept me away. The story was beautiful. The almost-kisses made me a bit frantic, but I love that. This is a satisfying read about the persecution experienced by the Huguenots and the Jewish people in the mid 1700s. It will hold your attention, I promise. Sanctuary was published by Tsaba House.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Robert Liparulo's Deadfall ~ Reviewed

Robert Liparulo
Hardcover: 496 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (November 6, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0785261796

Deep in the isolated Northwest Territories, four friends are on the trip of a lifetime. Dropped by a helicopter into the remote Canadian wilderness, Hutch, Terry, Phil, and David are looking to escape the events of a tumultouus year -- a bitter divorce, bankruptcy, depression, and job loss -- for two weeks of hunting, fishing, and camping.

Armed only with a bow and arrow and the basics for survival, they've chosen a place far from civilization, a retreat from their turbulent lives. But they quickly discover that another group has targeted the remote region and the secluded hamlet of Fiddler Falls for a more menacing purpose: to field-test the ultimate weapon.

With more than a week before the helicopter rendezvous and no satellite phone, they must risk everything to help the townspeople who are being held hostage and terrorized.

My Review:

If you aren't already watching Robert Liparulo's climb to the the inner circle of big gun contenders in Christian fiction, you really need to. Robert Liparulo will become one of the names that defines thriller.

Deadfall starts with a bang and ends with a well-deserved sigh. Every chapter in between is a tension driven page-turner full of twists, realistically rendered impossibilities and narrow escapes. Not only is the book driven, its full of characters that grab at the heart of the reader. Evil has faces and heart -- misguided, but painted like a real, living, breathing human being with subtle nuances, dysfunction and a definition of justice and humanity.
Technology that could be real, could be in existence right now or will be in just a matter of time is terrifying in its potential misuse, just as Liparulo demonstrated with biology in Germ.

There is no preaching in Deadfall. Just a sense of evil's destruction paired with a fragment of hope and a hint of God's hand.

Those who can't handle thrillers need to leave this one alone. Blood and guts are present but not overdone and certainly not gratuitous. Fans of Monster by Peretti will likely love Deadfall. Lovers of sport, video games, fiction with twists and turns, Dekker fans, hunters and those who love the stories of overcomers and against-all-odds tales should find much to like in Deadfall.

It won't be long before Liparulo joins Dekker and Peretti.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Jeffrey Overstreet's Auralia's Colors ~ Reviewed

Auralia's Colors
Jeffrey Overstreet
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (September 4, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1400072522
ISBN-13: 978-1400072521

Visit Novel Journey for an interview with Jeffrey Overstreet. (11-07-2007)


As a baby, she was rescued by thieves.
As a girl, she has a dangerous gift.
Called before the king, she might bring down the kingdom.

When thieves find an abandoned child lying in a monster's footprint, they have no idea that their wilderness discovery will change the course of history.

Cloaked in mystery, Auralia grows up among criminals outside the walls of House Abascar, where vicious beastmen lurk in shadow. There, she discovers an unsettling -- and forbidden -- talent for crafting colors that enchant all who behold them, including Abascar's hard-hearted king, an exiled wizard, and a prince who keeps dangerous secrets.

Auralia's gift opens doors from the palace to the dungeons, setting the stage for violent and miraculous change in the great houses of the expanse.

Auralia's Colors weaves classic fantasy together with poetic prose, a suspenseful lot, adrenaline-rush action, and unpredictable characters sure to enthrall ambitious imaginations.

Review # 1:

Jeffrey Overstreet, author of the non-fiction book, Through a Screen Darkly, makes an incredible fiction debut with Auralia’s Colors. Perhaps it is his knowledge as a movie critic that allows Overstreet to create such a magical and imaginative world. In the tradition of J.R.R. Tolkien, readers will be swept up in a vast landscape filled with people and magical creatures that surprise and entertain.

Auralia’s Colors is filled with convincing heroes and is one of those stories that inspires greatness. It is truly a tale that one can get lost in where the fight for good reigns supreme, but Overstreet also surprises the reader with thieves capable of great integrity and queens and kings capable of massive thievery.

While it’s easy to get caught up in the imagination of Auralia’s Colors, it is essentially Overstreet’s writing skill that ties the epic story together. Not many writers today are as gifted at the tricky omniscient point of view that abounds in the novel as Overstreet is.

More discerning readers will note the compelling religious symbolism and imagery in this book where God is never mentioned, but His presence prevails. This wildly creative and intelligent tale will thrill lovers of fantasy, as well as readers who crave excellent storytelling and exceptional writing.

Reviewed by: Tina Ann Forkner

Review #2:

From the first chapter, Auralia's Colors reached out and grabbed my imagination. As I read it I felt, smelled, heard and saw Auralia's world. Overstreet writes with poetry, weaving senses in and out, twisting and wrapping details around the art of classic storytelling. I don't know that I've read a book with more beautiful and unique descriptions.

Omniscient point of view is my least favorite. I feel that it robs intimacy or cheapens it. Auralia's Colors falls into this a bit. I know that it would be impossible to enter as many characters' heads as Overstreet has created, but I missed the intimacy of seeing the world through limited characters eyes. Those of you who love classic storytelling shouldn't have an issue with this, but those who don't delight in this art, probably will. Overstreet does a good job of adding bits of personality and uniqueness to his large cast of characters, but I still missed an emotional connection.

Overstreet has done a remarkable job of creating House Abascar and keeping all the details straight. However, sometimes I scanned those details.
The spiritual elements were allegorical and not heavy or overdone.

Overall, this is not a sit down and read in one session thriller. Imagine that Auralia's Colors is a clear, early-April stream swollen with winter snow-melt and tiny passengers. As the water moves toward its destination it dances and skips over glossy stones, swirls with an occasional leaf or twig and is redirected by the hoof of a deer as it bends to slake its thirst. A tight, thriller fantasy would be a white water river crashing over boulders, logs and an occasional unlucky passenger tossed from a raft. If you are a white water kind of person I don't know that Auralia is for you. But lovers of poetry and storytelling need to look further into Auralia's Colors.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Davis Bunn's My Soul to Keep ~ Reviewed

My Soul to Keep
Davis Bunn
Published by
ISBN# 10-07642-0435-12

Back Cover

Falling Star…Do They Ever Rise Again?

Brent Stark thinks his days as a leading man are over until God – in the form of a visionary tycoon – offers him the role of a lifetime.

Celia Breach vows never to forgive Brent for the hurts he inflicted. Can she manage the unthinkable and trust I'm again?

Bobby Dupree, a southern entrepreneur with a revolutionary idea for filmmaking sets out to make a new kind of movie. He has all the faith he needs, but none of the know-how.

Shari Khan is determined to succeed in Hollywood at any cost. Backed by an influential studio, she makes it her personal mission to destroy the upstart “shoestring” production.
So begins the battle: an unlikely group of has-beens, armed with only faith and vision, against all the money and power Hollywood can wield against them.

It’s “David against Goliath,” and Brent is fresh out of stones….

This book by Davis Bunn reminds me of the books he has written under the name T. Davis Bunn, The Warning, The Presence, The Ultimatum, just to name a few. They were powerful, gripping, thought provoking, and life changing. They revealed God’s power in a way I had never read before.

My Soul to Keep is that kind of story. This book describes the movie business inside and out. Very similar to what the book The Devil Wears Prada did with the fashion industry. It reveals the good, the bad, and the process of how people got to be evil in the choices they make.

I have seen broken lives transformed right before my very eyes into something really awesome. God tells us to renew our minds daily and walk in what “He” says about who we are in Christ. It’s crucial for those who have a colorful past. I have seen people like this hang on to what God says about them and “stand” on what God has done in their lives. The World (Satan) always wants to come along and expose our failures (our juicy stories) for the whole world to see. Satan has won if we stay stuck in the past. It’s only when we let God Break us “Free” of our past, that He can do amazing things with our future.

Davis Bunn describes this entire transformation process which is so eye opening, heart felt and moving it had me cheering the victories and have tears in my eyes as I read how God moved in the characters hearts and situations. I felt like I knew them personally.

This story and the characters ring true to who God is and what He can do with our lives if we let Him. Davis Bunn reveals what can happen when God does move mountains and reveals His miracle in the making? Questions he makes you think deeply about are: Will we be strong enough to take the challenge in our life even when it looks impossible to us? Will we grab the miracle He is offering us with both hands and hang on no matter what – like our lives depended on it (most times it does)? Can we believe in miracles in such modern times? This author thinks so and so do I.

Davis Bunn lifts the veil and gives us a glimpse at what God is capable of doing in us if we let Him put a spark in our heart though the Holy Spirit who can launch us beyond our comfort zone. The author says in his book and I quote “What I have discovered is that God has taken these broken shards and made a vessel into which He could pour His greatness in …” so true!!

Bunn’s story and characters bring this statement I heard come alive; “God has to minister to us before He can minister through us”. This story is powerful, gripping, thought provoking and life changing. I highly recommend this book to everyone. The characters and message stay with you long after you finish reading the book.

Nora St.Laurent
Life Way Book Club Servant Leader

Monday, November 05, 2007

Beverly Lewis/Laura Nikiel's Walking in Jesse's Shoes ~ Reviewed

Walking in Jesse’s Shoes
By Beverly Lewis
Illustrated by Laura Nikiel
ISBN 978-0-7642-0313-8

Help your child understand those with special needs

What parent hasn’t urged son or daughter not to stare at or tease a child who is “different” or disabled in some way?

In this sensitive yet realistic story, Jesse’s sister struggles to understand her brother—and the kids who make fun of him. This endearing book will encourage families everywhere to appreciate and befriend children with special needs.

There was a little girl named Allie. Every time her and her brother go to school he wanders around so they always miss the school bus. One day when Allie came home she says “I’ll never understand you.” and her father says “Of course you don’t because you’ve never walked in Jesse’s shoes.”

The next day Jesse took off his shoes and Allie put them on. But you’ll have to read the book to know what happens next.

I liked this book because it taught me that when you learn about somebody you get to know them really well. Then you’ll understand why they do weird stuff.

The pictures are very great. [Mom's note: We are a family with a special needs child. I loved this book and think it is a great way to help parents of special needs kids talk with their non-special needs kids]

Bye for now, Caitie.
Books for kids, reviewed by a kid

Friday, November 02, 2007

Denise Hunter's Surrender Bay ~ Reviewed

Surrender Bay-A Nantucket Romance
Denise Hunter
back: 320 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (November 6, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595542574
ISBN-13: 978-1595542571

Back Cover:

When Sam's estranged step-father dies, she inherits his ocean-front cottage in Nantucket -- not because he kindly bequeathed it to her, but because he neglected to ever create a will. Sam returns to the island she left 11 years ago, with her daughter Caden, to fix up the house and sell it, but she isn't counting on the fact that Landon Reed still lives two doors down from her childhood home. As their long-dormant romance begins to bud again, Sam must face the fact that Landon still doesn't know why she really left the island. Will the secrets she's hidden all these years tear them apart? Or is Landon's love really as unconditional as he claims?

My Review:

Had I been given the opportunity to pass on Surrender Bay, I likely would have. I've not read Denise Hunter before, but the romance/love story angle wouldn't have appealed to me. Not that I'm against romance and love. But sometimes , well, I tend to like stories that are more than just escapism.

But Surrender Bay replaced another book that I had signed up for. So I read it.

And what I found surprised me. There is a complete lack of Christian lingo in Surrender Bay. Sam, the heroine isn't very heroic at all. As a matter of fact I wanted to throttle her a few times. Landon, as hunky as he came across, should've cut his losses a dozen or so years earlier and moved on. In my book, anyway.

What Denise Hunter has done is paint a picture of screwed up people, their consequences, victimization and slimy pits and she has added undeserved love also known as grace. This is a story of grace and all it overlooks.

Who should pick up this novel? Romance lovers, yeah. Looking for a well plotted tense love story? Sure. Wanting to discover a story published in the CBA that lays life out in all its messiness? Seeking edgy Christian Fiction that includes alcohol abuse, drunkeness and sexual situations? Need a story that shares a portion of God's good heart with just a hint that it's all about God? Then you need to check further into this story.

Reviewed by Kelly Klepfer

Thursday, November 01, 2007

November Fiction Titles from American Christian Fiction Writers

1. A Christmas to Die For Book 2 in The Three Sisters Inn series by Marta Perry from Love Inspired Suspense. A holiday season among the Plain People swarms with hidden danger when an inn owner finds herself the target of a killer.

2. A Matter of Trust by Lisa Harris , from Heartsong Presents. With Ty back in her life, will Kayla be able to trust him when a dark secret comes to light and all evidence of the crime points to him?

3. Faith Awakened by Grace Bridges from Lulu Press and Waitemata Books. In virtual stasis to escape a deadly virus, an ex-slave in Ireland finds far more than just survival.

4. Just Jane by Nancy Moser from Bethany House. Historical novel about the life of author Jane Austen.

5. Standing Strong, Fourth and final book in the Homeland Heroes Series by Donna Fleisher from Zondervan. Four warriors. Two rival gangs. Is faith enough to win peace on the streets of Kimberley Square?

6. The Love of His Brother by Jennifer AlLee from Five Star, a division of Thomson Gale. A young, pregnant widow finds more than just support when her black-sheep brother-in-law comes home.

7. Within This Circle (mass market size) Sequel to A Vow to Cherish by
Deborah Raney from Steeple Hill Books. After her mother’s death from Alzheimer’s disease, Jana McFarlane struggles to cope with her roles as wife and mother.

Kathryn Cushman's A Promise to Remember ~ Reviewed

A Promise to Remember
by Kathryn Cushman
Published by Bethany House
ISBN 10: 0-7642-0380-0


Andie Phelps is the envy of Santa Barbara. A devoted mother with a living son and a successful husband, her greatest joy comes from reaching out to others....

Melanie Johnston is the envy of no one. A single mom who works long hours to pay the bills, her greatest joys relate to her teen daughter and son.

Then the accident that changes everything. When opposite worlds collide, the impact reaches far beyond these mothers' personal losses.

Two wounded women...Two families seeking hope...A community torn apart...How far will they go to fulfill: a Promise to Remember


Wow was my first reaction. This gripping tale of loss, love and forgiveness is one of the best I've read. The spiritual thread arose naturally out of the characters' lives and was never forced. Melanie's discovery and decision was one of the most natural I've read, brought about by a series of circumstances—just like real life.

Artfully blended honest emotions, realistic dialogue, and characters all add up to a memorable read, allowing me to suspend disbelief. Cushman is a new author to watch.

Ane Mulligan