Thursday, May 31, 2007

Jane Kirkpatrick's A Tendering in the Storm ~ Reviewed

Title: A Tendering in the Storm
Author: Jane Kirkpatrick
Publisher: WaterBrook Press
ISBN: 978-1-57856-735-5

Emma Giesy is part of a repressive religious community that moves west in the 1850’s with the promise of new life offered by the Oregon Territories. But new life means independence to Emma, and she is willing to stand in defiance of the community to achieve her dream. That independence comes at a cost with isolates Emma and drives her into choices that threaten her life and the family she fights to protect.

Jane Kirkpatrick’s A Tendering in the Storm is based on a true story, and in it, Kirkpatrick has woven the threads of Emma’s life into a touching novel which leads us along life’s journey with a woman whose actions are often clouded by her own interpretations.

But Emma is not the only one who misjudges others. As the community struggles to build a fledgling town in a rugged land, Emma fights to build her own life out of an unforgiving wilderness. Choices, both good and bad, are made, and Emma and the community must work to live with, or change, the consequences.

While the historical and cultural details make are delightful, the reader will most often be struck by the fact that Emma’s choices are not that different from those we each must face in our lives today.

Reviewer: Marjorie Smith

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Geoffrey Wood's Leaper ~ Reviewed

Leaper: The Misadventures of a Not-Necessarily-Super Hero (Paperback)
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (June 19, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 140007343X
ISBN-13: 978-1400073436

What if one day --inexplicably -- you discover you have a superpower? And it's not a very good superpower, either, like flying or super strength, and you have no idea what you are supposed to do?

Leaper follows the confessions of reluctant hero James, a recently divorced, life-long barista who finds himself in just such a predicament and asking those very questions. Is his newfound leaping power a miracle from God? A result from a lifetime of over-caffeination? Or a final break from sanity? Should James "do good" with his ability? But if doing good provides trickier than expected, where do you go for a superpower manual? And what is "good" anyway?

In this witty, unconventional novel, debut Geoffrey Wood serves up equal doses of sharp humor and disquieting poignancy, exploring the meaning of redemption, beauty, and faith beyond all reason.

My review:

Geoffrey Woods' debut novel is charming, hilarious, irreverent, edgy, sweet, thought-provoking and challenging.

My husband has begun reading lots of fiction lately. I tend to make suggestions or leave books lying about for him to pick up. Leaper landed in his hands before I could crack the cover.

Every night while I quietly read other books, he laughed out loud with Leaper. This is not like him...oh he laughs but not out loud very often. The last time he laughed out loud like he did several times during Leaper's first chapters, was when Jack Black as Nacho Libre fired up his little zippy-cart-thing and took off in a cloud of smoke.

I'm ashamed to admit that I took the book. I devoured it while he was distracted with a Sunday school lesson and a couple late nights at work. I buzzed past where he was in Leaper and he furrowed his brow at my laughter. I told him I had a deadline and laughed away.

Leaper is Funny -- yes capital F.

Those who struggle with strict adherence to religiousity may struggle with the non-traditional approaches of dispensing truth. Christian readers may struggle with Catholic themes.

If you love wacky, quirky, funny and really love it when those qualities make you stop and think about the way you look at the world -- then don't walk, don't even run -- leap to your local book store or for your credit card.
Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Thursday, May 24, 2007

L.A. Kelly's The Scarlet Trefoil ~ Reviewed

The Scarlet Trefoil by L.A. Kelly
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Revell (February 1, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0800731565
ISBN-13: 978-0800731564

Book Description:

Freed from a life of darkness, Tahn Dorn finds God's grace toward him a comfort he has never known before. He has put away his painful past and is looking forward to a bright, peaceful future with his bride-to-be. But the past returns to haunt him, threatening to ruin all that he loves. On the eve of their blessed union, Lady Netta's gilded carriage is attacked by a team of rogue bandits hired by the ruthless Baron Lionell Trent. Despite the barons noble talk and pretended peace, Lionell lures Tahn into a trap that will secure his own hold on the House of Trent. Can Tahn free his true love? Or will his dream be forever lost?

My review:

I've always enjoyed historicals from the era of knights, castles and ladies in waiting. This story began with danger and treachery and escalated until I thought for sure there was no way the mess Tahn found himself in could get any worse. The author did a fabulous job pulling me into the story, making me care about the characters, and giving me just enough info to get a feel for the two previous books in the series without telling me too many boring facts (This is book 3.) The author also brought the story to a satisfying conclusion without leaving loose ends that make you want to hurl the book at the wall.

The love story was great, the abuse--brutal, the villains--evil, and the resolution believable, yet miraculous. Wonderful story. I just wish I'd read the first two books first because I can see from Tahn's transformation that he suffered a lot and I would've enjoyed getting to know him better before finding out how it all ends. This can be read as a "stand alone" title, but I think it would be even better as the true conclusion to the series.

Reviewed by: Michelle Sutton (pen name)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Shelley Bates' Over Her Head ~ Reviewed

Over Her Head: A Novel (Faithwords)
by Shelley Bates
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: FaithWords (May 23, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446694932
ISBN-13: 978-0446694933

Laurie Hale has the perfect life -- and the perfect family to go with it. She imagines fun, love and academic success for her daughter, Anna. But when one of Anna's classmates is found murdered and the police start asking questions, fear and suspicion threaten everything Laurie values.

Anna isn't the only suspect -- a whole group of teenagers seems to be involved, but none of them is talking, and the community is in an uproar.

Laurie is asked to leave her prayer group just when she needs it the most, and her marriage bears the string of the crisis. Laurie's only ally is Janice, the mayor's wife, whose own son could implicate Anna -- or exonerate her.

Ultimately, Laurie must face her fears: What if Anna really was involved in Randi Peizer's murder? And what kind of person is Laurie if she can doubt her own child's innocence? Only God can provide the answers when Laurie finds herself in OVER HER HEAD.

My Review:

Shelley Bates' Laurie reminds me of a lot of women I know, have known, and have been. And to be honest, Laurie hit way too close to home.

I suppose it is of the order of highest praise to have issues with a character who convicts you. Shelley should take it as such.

Anna, well, I have some issues with her, too.

Overall, I need to tell you that this is not an easy read if you are in the process of discovering that you are offended, or if your church relationships aren't quite meeting your needs. If you wrestle with a difficult teenager and you've recently ripped a few bald spots on your scalp, the struggles within this novel may stir you up.

The story could be torn from newspaper headlines. Bates handles spirituality and faith realistically. The story flows. The suspense is moderate, and there is a bit of gore.

Reviewed by Kelly Klepfer

Monday, May 21, 2007

Joyce Livingston's Invasion of the Widows Club ~ Reviewed

Invasion of the Widows Club
By Joyce Livingston
Published by Barbour Publishing
ISBN 978-1-59789-508-8

Nashville widows form a club, banding together for mutual support ... but will the group end before it even gets started?

Valentine Denay, a widow of several years, has found a new love in Robert Chase, but her feet—and her heart—seem to be rooted in the past. Will she ever find a way to move forward in love and life? Robert is a patient man, but will he ever get his Valentine to say "I do," or will they both miss this second chance at happiness?

When Diamond Jansen moves into Valentine's Nashville neighborhood, she's readily accepted into the Widow's Club. But soon peculiar events prompt Val to suspect all is not what it seems. Will Val solve the mystery before there's one less member of the club?

I loved Livingston's first book, The Widow's Club, so I was anxiously awaiting this one and didn't read the back cover before I dove in. The mystery and light suspense caught me by surprise—pleasantly so.

Val's nemesis from high school, Barbie Baxter, is back in force and up to her usual shenanigans. The secondary characters, Val's cul-de-sac friends, Reva and Sally, are also back, coping with the trials of widowhood and single-parenting. Their subplots enhance the main plot seamlessly.

The spiritual thread is well developed and happens naturally without intruding on the story, although I found Val to be a tad more forgiving than I might have been in the same situation. What situation, you might ask? Well, you'll have to pick up a copy and read it for yourself. No spoilers here.

The Invasion of the Widows Club is a fun read—perfect for an afternoon in the hammock with a tall glass of cold lemonade. Perchance is there a third Widow's Club in the future? I hope so. I haven't seen enough of Valentine and her friends.

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan

Friday, May 18, 2007

Kathy Herman's Ever Present Danger ~ Reviewed

Ever Present Danger
By Kathy Herman
· Paperback: 320 pages
· Publisher: Multnomah Fiction (April 17, 2007)
· Language: English
· ISBN-10: 1590529219
· ISBN-13: 978-1590529218

After a ten year absence, Ivy Griffith is returning home to Jacob's Ear, Colorado, with her seven year old son, Montana, and her closest friend, seventy year old Lucia. Her parents, especially her father, have mixed emotions about their prodigal daughter's return. Will she stay this time or leave, shredding their hearts once more?

This time, Ivy has every intention to stay. She has a past to make amends for, but first needs to be sure her son will have a loving home. Ten years ago while high on drugs, Ivy, her bad boy boyfriend Pete Barton and their friends Denny Richards and Reg Morrison murdered a classmate and buried his body where it couldn't be found. They swore a pact to one another to keep their secret. The fall after graduation, they went their separate ways and their secret went with them. Now, it has driven Ivy back home.

But before Ivy can confess to her part in the long-ago crime, bones are discovered at her father's new condo development. After ten long years, Joe Hadley has been found.
Pressure mounts on Ivy to keep her part of the pact. Pete Barton moved back to Jacob's Ear before Ivy arrived and the other two, Denny and Reg, swing into town for a visit and to remind Ivy of their pact.

She decides to keep her secret until after their ten year class reunion. But by the end of the evening, the sheriff has three more murders on his hands and Ivy is left to wonder if she's next.

Ever Present Danger is the first book in the Phantom Hollow series by Kathy Herman. Readers of her previous novels may recognize two of the characters in this book, Brandon Jones and his wife Kelsey, from Not By Chance, Book 4 in the Seaport Suspense Series. Brandon is employed by the Three Peaks Christian Camp and Conference Center, owned by Elam Griffith. He's involved in a subplot of his own, one that may destroy his marriage before its first anniversary.

But this book is Ivy's story, as she seeks to right a terrible wrong and put to rest her guilt. She needs the support of her family and friends to find the courage to face up to her past. But will she live long enough to confess or will the killer get to her first?

Cheryl Russell

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Trish Perry's Too Good To Be True ~ Reviewed...

Too Good To Be True
Trish Perry
ISBN 0736918736
Harvest House

Rennie Young is finding out that love and life often unfold in surprising ways.

Fairy-tale princesses usually awake to the kiss of their handsome prince, not to him holding their wrist and counting their heartbeats. But that’s exactly how Rennie meets Truman Sayers, an attractive man who comes to her assistance after she faints in the boys’ department at Wal-Mart. He releases her wrist. “Your pulse is racing,” he says, looking into her eyes.

Hurt by her unexpected and unwanted divorce, Rennie’s heartbreak doubles when she discovers her ex has called off the adoption of a little boy dear to her heart. After meeting Tru, though, the bud of hope begins to unfurl in her heart. Tru and Rennie forge a bond that shows great promise . . . then their two meddling mothers threaten to overshadow the fragile foundation of their friendship.

Trish Perry has done it again! Great writing. Sassy and fun, with enough touch of drama to keep the book interesting and the reader guessing. Even Jeremy, the beloved Englishman from book one, is developed nicely. You'll definitely laugh out loud, but hate yourself in the morning when the alarm goes off and you've stayed up all night reading!

S. Dionne Moore

Monday, May 14, 2007

Thom Lemmons' Blameless ~ Reviewed

Thom Lemmons
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (March 20, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1400071747
ISBN-13: 978-1400071746

Professor Joseph Barnes is attractive, intelligent, and successful -- beloved by both his students and fellow university faculty. Despite her professional reservations, Alexis, the college dean, finds herself drawn to him.

But when Joe's career begins to crumble, Alexis has to decide whether or not to rescue Joe from his circumstances. If she does save him, how can she be sure he loves her for herself -- and not what she can do for him?


Thom Lemmons has penned a thoughtful novel retelling the modified biblical story of Job through a modern cast of characters.

The author uses some clever name configurations to clue us into the characters his represent.
Don't expect a total retelling of the story of Job, though. In my opinion, "Blameless" is a closer fit with "inspired by," and this is really how it has to be. How could one novel contain the detailed scope of Job, and do it well? Lemmons has chosen aspects of unfair suffering, righteousness and reward and has created a well-written season in the life of Joe and Alexis.
As good fiction should, the story of Joe and Alexis makes the reader pause and consider the truth of bigger things.
Those at home in academic settings should find much to like even if they aren't keen on biblical fiction.

Reviewed by Kelly Klepfer

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Maureen Lang's Remember Me ~ Reviewed

Remember Me
Maureen Lang
ISBN 978-0-8254-3672-7
Kregel Publications

Josef imagines he is a loyal American and falls in love with one of the most patriotic women in America--a Red Cross nurse, Lissa Parker. But Josef is really a wanted man. When his memory returns, Josef is convinced he must make himself worthy of Lissa's love--but will she still love him once she knows the terrible truth?

Another historical written with great attention to detail, Maureen Lang's sweeping story of Josef Woerner's triumph in love and tragic descent into the confusion of his past, will delight your senses and warm your heart. Though Josef's continual stream of heroism overseas seemed a bit too perfect, the detail and flow of the writing, not to mention the climactic ending, are both satisfying and heartwarming.

Reviewed By: Sandra Moore

S. Dionne Moore (

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Paul Robertson's The Heir ~ Reviewed

The Heir

by Paul Robertson

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Bethany House (March 1, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 076420324X
ISBN-13: 978-0764203244

All the money he could ever crave. In the splintering crash of a car plunging through a railing, Jason Boyer's life is changed. All the fame he could ever desire. But the last thing he wanted was the throne of his father's corrupt business empire. All the power he could ever wield. The estate should have gone elsewhere, but the will was changed. And now everything is Jason's. But gaining the whole world just might cost him his life.

I can't believe a left-brained man wrote this novel. To be honest, I put it toward the bottom of my "to read" pile because it was written by a man who works with computers and teaches science.

Was I ever wrong about an assumption. Okay, there are guy, and plenty of logical detail type things in The Heir. Cars, boats, spread sheets, stocks, big business, stuff that just doesn't appeal to my right brain, word-loving mind. But handled by Paul Robertson, these details are not boring, nor did they once trigger my gag reflex.

Great story, well told, tight writing. The meaning of life permeates through a dry wit and sarcastic first person point of view. The author's voice is a pleasant blend of John Grisham and Randy Alcorn.

All is not what it seems to be. And I found several surprises, some pleasant, some not so wonderful, both in the writing and in the plot. One of the surprises was the lack of Christianese.

The Heir veers into far-fetched a time or two, but the cynicism of the narrator and the charming relationship between him and his younger brother makes this an engaging read.

Reviewed by Kelly Klepfer

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Marlo Schalesky's Veil of Fire ~ Reviewed

Veil of Fire (Paperback)
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: RiverOak (April 20, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1589190777
ISBN-13: 978-1589190771
"(Nashville, TENN.) Hinckley, Minnesota is going up in flames and a mysterious "being" sets up camp at the edge of town in Marlo Schalesky's May 2007 release, VEIL OF FIRE. Coping with the loss of loved ones and belongings is hard enough, but Hinckley citizens are also encountering a monster. Or is it a ghost? Something didn't burn up in the fire and Hinckley folks aren't quite sure if that's a good thing or bad."
I didn’t realize until I’d reached the end of this captivating novel that it was based on a real historical event—one of the worst fires in history. A blaze that destroyed six towns including Hinckley and killed 418 people in four hours in Minnesota of 1894.

In Veil of Fire, residents of Hinckley struggle with grief over their losses and wavering faith in the God who allowed such disaster, while trying to put their lives and their town back together.

Meanwhile, rumors spread that a ghost, or maybe a monster, is lurking in the surrounding hills. Things have gone missing—a cart, a pie, some beans—and a veiled figure in black has been spotted in the shadows. People are angry and afraid.

The author pulls you in, first by making you care about her very believable characters—a widower left alone with his baby girl, a mother with many regrets and the man who loves her despite her short-comings, a villain we despise yet understand. Then she keeps you reading, leaving you with one cliffhanger after another. I read this book quickly, always having to know what happened next, and in the end I was satisfied.

Veil of Fire is about finding the truth. It’s about being real, and giving and receiving undeserved love and forgiveness. This book will be enjoyed by fans of historical, romantic, and suspense fiction.

Review By Janet Rubin