Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sharlene MacLaren's Sarah My Beloved ~ Reviewed

Sarah My Beloved
By Sharlene MacLaren
Published by Whitaker House
October 2, 2007
ISBN-10: 0-88368-425-2


Sarah Woodward has come to Kentucky as a mail-order bride. But when she steps off the stage coach, the man who contracted her through the Marriage Made in Heaven Agency informs her that he has fallen in love with and wed another woman. Sarah is disappointed, but she feels that God has led her to Little Hickman Creek for a reason. With her usual stubborn determination, she refuses to leave until she finds out what that reason is.

Rocky Calhoun's sister has died, leaving him with two young children to take care of. When he meets the fiery Sarah Woodward, he proposes the answer to both their problems—a marriage in name only. Sarah soon comes to love the children, but Rocky is afraid she'll never survive as a farmer's wife with her privileged upbringing. Can he let go of the pain in his past and trust God's plan for his life? Will she leave him or will they actually find a marriage made in heaven?


Historical romances are not my favorite genre. But Sarah My Beloved is more of a love story than romance. Sharlene MacLaren has a way with words. Her characters are anything but stereotyped. They're surprising with a depth usually found in more experienced writers. This is MacLaren's third book. And she doesn't apply her expertise to just the main characters, but even the town takes on personality.

While the plot maybe had one too many tragedies in it for my personal taste, the proof is in the fact that I didn't close it and go to sleep, even when it was 2:00 AM. I read it straight through in one sitting, not putting it down until I turned the last page.

I'm looking forward to more of the Little Hickman Creek series. If you like historical romance, you'll love Sarah My Beloved.

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan

Friday, September 28, 2007

Jack Cavanaugh's A Hideous Beauty ~ Reviewed

A Hideous Beauty
Jack Cavanaugh
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Howard Books (August 14, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416543406
ISBN-13: 978-1416543404

From award-winning author Jack Cavanaugh comes the ultimate fusion of suspense, politics, and the supernatural. All the wars in the world pale in comparison to the one waging in the invisible realm of angels. One man is about to be drawn into this battle, whether he wants to fight or not.

Pulitzer Prize winner Grant Austin seeks out a lifelong rival to flout his success in life. When they meet, however, Grant's smugness is rocked by several revelations. First, he discovers angles are very real, both the good and the fallen ones. Second, Grant is being set up to play a part in an assassination plot targeting the President of the United States. And not only that, but Grant is alos the target of rebel angels who want to convert him to their side. More than human blood flows through his veins, and whichever side he chooses to join in the ultimate battle will determine the fate of his soul.

Packed with action, Hideous Beauty takes you on an adventure across the nation as well as into the realities where temptation and redemption are only a few steps apart.

My Review

If you are a Jack Cavanaugh fan, you are in for a treat. A different kind of a treat, though, Jack's new series is a Spiritual Warfare/Fantasy. Proving that a good, respected-in-his-genre storyteller can cross into another genre and do it right, too.

My husband and I read Hideous Beauty over the weekend while we drove to Minnesota and back home. We both loved it. I struggled with the first several pages, trying to figure out exactly what was going on, but my hubby didn't. We both loved the main character, Grant Austin, who narrates with sarcastic humor and experiences a wild story full of intriguing friends and enemies. Several times, we found ourselves laughing out loud as Grant encountered one issue after another with witty thoughts and comments. The feel is very lad lit, complete with some serious relationship mess-ups.

Another small issue was a bit of tweaking with our theology. Both of us wondered a time or two if we agreed with the possibility of this or that event playing out quite like it did in the book. But this is fantasy fiction. I hope no one bases their theology on something they read in fiction. If you don't struggle with differing opinions of the faith, then you shouldn't get hung up on…well…on speculative differing opinions.

Hideous Beauty is going to appeal to Hines, Liparulo and Wells fans, as well as Cavanaugh's faithful readers. If you love Spiritual Warfare, Fantasy, and great stories, you might want to get your hands on a copy.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sandra Glahn's Informed Consent ~ Reviewed

By Sandra Glahn
Published by David C. Cook Distribution
ISBN # 978-1-58919-109-9


A medical researcher comes face-to-face with the unfathomable love required to sacrifice an only son. Jeremy Cramer, MD, is the Einstein of infectious disease research. While working on a way to revive water-submersion victims, he makes a breakthrough discovery in AIDS research that thrusts him into the center of a media frenzy. But the publicity turns negative, and his marriage reaches the breaking point when he accidentally infects a colleague and his negligence allows his son to contract a life-threatening disease. The virus test the limits of his new formula and his ethics. In the midst of his frantic efforts to save his son and his marriage, he must decide whether to allow his child to die or violate the rights of a young transplant donor.


WARNING: After reading “Informed Consent” you will NEVER look at Doctors and nurses the same way again. After all they are just humans like the rest of us right? I know there is office politics in whatever work environment but when you read about what goes on in the inner workings of a hospital it makes you a little sick to your stomach.

When Hospital personnel make mistakes on the job or don’t follow procedure or don’t get “INFORMED” consent patients are put at risk and some die. Sandra definitely explores how some doctors try to get around “Informed Consent” and what that means to the patients.

How is the cure for AIDS going to be found? Sandra reveals one way; thru that of a Dr./Researcher who is personally motivated by personal tragedy to find a cure for what killed his father but not himself. Could finding the cure for his fathers death lead to a break thru the whole world is looking for? It could happen!

Parts of this book were medically wordy. Some where stressful to read because it dealt with children and possible medical mishaps that put them in harms way. Then there were other parts of the book that were fast paced – thrilling and emotionally suspenseful!! Buckle up when you read this book.

Nora St.Laurent
Life Way Book Club Leader

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Ann Tatlock's Every Secret Thing ~ Reviewed

Every Secret Thing
By Ann Tatlock
Published by Bethany House
ISBN 10: 0-7642-0005-4

Stop by Novel Journey to read some writing wisdom from Ann Tatlock (9-26-2007)


When Elizabeth Gunnar accepts a job as an English teacher at the school she attended as a girl, she finds herself returning to more than a place. Seaton Preparatory holds so many memories—of a beloved teacher who left under mysterious circumstances, of a young woman searching for her place in the world, of a former love.

Once there, Elizabeth finds unexpected challenges—and challenging people. She meets Satchel Queen, a troubled student whose writing assignments draw her attention. And Ray Schmidt is a childhood friend her heart has never forgotten.

As new friendships form and the past is brought to light, Elizabeth finds renewal from a most unexpected source.


Ann Tatlock has a distinctive almost lyrical style to her writing. Reading her work is like listening to a symphony. As you are introduced to her characters, you catch a nuance of stringed instruments, and as the plot unfolds, you feel an underlying mystery in the base notes, enhanced by the woodwinds of Tatlock’s descriptions.

In a sonata of past and present, Every Secret Thing will leave its melody in your heart long after you turn the final page. This is the first of Ann Tatlock’s books that I’ve read, but I can assure you it won’t be the last. This reviewer gives Every Secret Thing a high recommendation.

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Laura Benedict's Isabella Moon ~ Reviewed

Isabella Moon
Laura Benedict
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books (September 25, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0345497678
ISBN-13: 978-0345497673


Sometimes the past comes looking for you.

Two years ago, in idyllic Carystown, Kentucky, nine-year-old Isabella Moon disappeared on her way home from school. Is it just coincidence that Kate Russell, a young woman with no discernible past, arrived in town just months before Isabella's disappearance? When Kate walks into Sheriff Bill Delaney's office to tell him that Isabella's ghost has led her to the child's hidden grave, he immediately views her as a suspect. Mystery follows mystery as a local athlete drops dead, inexplicably, on the basketball court, and someone close to Kate is viciously murdered.

Quiet Carystown was to be Kate's salvation, and she's settled into a comfortable job, a charming cottage, and a blissful romance. But having lied to her boyfriend, Caleb, for so long about the terrors of her past life, she finds she can't trust him to understand the terror that Isabella Moon has now brought. And Kate's best friend, Francie, is too wrapped up in her own troubles -- particularly a secret affair with a man she at once loves and despises -- to give Kate the help she needs. Utterly alone, Kate is torn between finding justice for the dead child and keeping away ghosts of her own.

The unsolved disappearance of Isabella Moon has been the biggest disappointment of Sheriff Delaney's career. But he senses that Kate is trouble. As he investigates her impossible claims, he also uncovers a series of unsettling truths about Carystown itself. Behind his hometown's genteel facade is a morass of lies and murder, drugs and destruction. Andy Carystown's residents are about to discover that even though the past is buried, it can rise again -- with a vengeance.

My Review:

I've read and reviewed so many books this year, several of them run together in my mind. Isabella Moon will be one that sticks with me.
I'm going to warn all readers up front since a lot of the titles I review are from Christian publishing houses. Isabella Moon contains language, sex, drugs and supernatural elements that may offend. Use the same care you would when choosing to watch an R-rated movie.
Laura Benedict is a writer who does it all well. A fast-paced twisting plot blends with moments of crystal-clear sensory detail, some grisly, some beautiful and some a varying combination of both. Benedict is a sensual writer, so much so some of her images are burned in the back of my mind, not unlike those scents that pull me into a memory, or evoke strong emotion unexpectedly. One scene, in particular, is a work of art. Benedict uses fragility, poignancy and regret like some artists use oils or clay.
Each character is fleshed out uniquely though they are recognizable characters in small town America. Beyond some moments of voyeuristic embarrassment while reading these characters' lives, the only issue that bothered me was the occasional shift or lapse into omniscient point of view. And that's my issue, many love to know what's going on in more than one character's mind.
I didn't experience moments of terror as I was afraid I might based on the subject matter, instead I mourned, grieved and wanted to warn the characters as their lives intersected and permanently marked each other.
Those who love supernatural thrillers, mysteries and crime dramas will likely find much to like in Isabella Moon.
Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer
Click here for a Scrambled Dregs interview (9-25-07) with Laura.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Sandra Byrd's Let Them Eat Cake ~ Reviewed

Let Them Eat Cake

Sandra Byrd

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (September 11, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1400073278
ISBN-13: 978-1400073276


Lexi Stuart is at a critical crossroads. She's done with college but still living at home, ready to launch a career but unable to find a job, and solidly installed between boyfriends.

When a lighthearted conversation in French with the manager of her favorite bakery turns into a job offer. Lexi accepts. But the actual glamour is minimal, the pay is less than generous, her co-workers are skeptical, her bank account remains vertically-challenged, and her parents are perpetually disappointed. Her only comfort comes from the flirtatious baker -- but even he may not be who he seems.

So when a handsome young executive dashes into the bakery to pick up his high-profile company's special order for an important meeting -- an order Lexi has flubbed -- she loses her compulsion to please. "What am I going to do?" he shouts. "Let them eat cake!" she fires back with equal passion and a nod to Marie Antoinette. And then, something inside Lexi clicks. Laissez la revolution commencer! Let the revolution begin! Instead of trying to fulfill everyone else's expectations for her life, Lexi embarks on an adventure in trusting God with her future -- tres bon!

My Review:

Cute escapist chick-lit with joie de vivre, plenty of sass and a few yummy recipes.

Lexi, at thirty, is suffering serious growing pains. The only thing she knows for sure is that she loves to bake, cook and surround herself in recipes. With a dead-end job that bores her to tears, parents with an empty nest that are forced to make room for their nestling, and a brother who excels in life and love, Lexi struggles with the reality of being a grown up. Throw marginal Christianity, men, and hurting friends in the mix and Lexi spends much of her time attempting to repair emotional souffle.

Will she find the missing ingredients to life as she dreams it could be? Hmmm, you'll have to check it out.

Sensitivity warning...Lexi is a Christian who drinks socially.

Kelly Klepfer
Click here for an 9-24-07 interview with Sandra

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Jane Orcutt's All the Tea in China ~ Reviewed

All the Tea in China
Jane Orcutt
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Revell (June 1, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0800731794
ISBN-13: 978-0800731793


Though well-bred, fashionable and educated, Isabella Goodrich feels useless as a spinster in a world of matchmaking and social gatherings. She'd rather be practicing her skills at the sword and discussing philosophy than making painful small talk at ridiculous parties.

Then Isabella meets the mysterious Phineas Snowe, and she becomes convinced she is meant to follow him to the mission fields of the orient. As a woman with an independent nature, she sneaks away and boards a ship to China. What she discovers about her companion and the world beyond Britain's shores draws her into a greater quest -- and deeper love -- than she could have imagined.

My Review:

All the Tea in China is a fast-paced, witty, and lighthearted tale of adventure, romance, and the pursuit of impossible dreams.

All the Tea in China has become one of my all-time favorite novels. If you tossed Charlie's Angels (the movie), Pride and Prejudice, a couple of snappy chick-lits, a pirate romance novel and The Joy Luck Club into a blender and let 'er rip, you'd end up with something very similar to All the Tea in China.

Did I mention that I really liked this read?

Orcutt has created a heroine both sweet and sassy and a swashbuckling fun story line. She then tossed in a cup of historical information, a pinch of Christianity, a splash of pirates, dash of mysterious hero and through the first person narrative of an 1800 English chick-lit makes this an entertaining and charming read.

On a very sad note, Jane Orcutt passed away in March of 2007. In honor of her memory a fund has been set up with World Vision for a Chinese girl's education. Contributions may be sent by calling World Vision at 1-800-777-5777 and donating to catalog number D4040225, mentioning that the gift is donated in memory of Jane Orcutt. Our sympathies to her husband and two sons.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Lisa T. Bergren's The Betrayed ~ Reviewed

The Betrayed (Book 2 of The Gifted)
Lisa T. Bergren

ISBN: 0425217086
ISBN-13: 9780425217085


The first book in Lisa T. Bergren's Gifted trilogy, The Begotten, was hailed by Library Journal as "a full-bodied, absorbing tale that combines authentic historical detail with a universally appealing and gripping story that will have readers cheering." Now the breathtaking quest of the spiritually empowered Gifted ones-prophesized in a long-lost illuminated letter from the apostle Paul-continues as the healer, the priest, and the knight gather together to fight a battle in a profound new war. For the enemies of the Gifted are gathering, led by an evil lord who will do anything to destroy their unwavering faith.

My Review:

I love this series.

Intrigue, passion, hope, heart, history.

If you love great stories, tight writing and church history teamed with romance, fantasy, suspense and mystery, you've got to get this series. If you loved DaVinci Code, Rivers' The Mark of the Lion, Bright and Cavanaugh's Great Awakenings you'll find much to like in The Gifted series.

As far as flaws, they are tiny. Three very similar names of major players confused me at the beginning, but once I figured it out, it didn't hinder my enjoyment. Bergren does a small amount of telling and some passive writing, but to tighten this series up any further would have made the story almost too tense.

Those who will not read speculative Biblical fiction may not like this series. It is based on a "lost" letter. Bergren does not twist doctrine or attempt to rewrite Scripture, she just adds a story line happening centuries after the Bible, as we know it, was fully formed. What if the gifts of the Spirit landed on individuals who then were drawn together in a group and called to fulfill a path chosen by God? Good question and the amazing story playing out in just such a scenario.

The Betrayed is a powerfully written, gut-wrenching tale. As the characters agonize and struggle with the Gift that each has been given, and the responsibility that comes with it, I couldn't help but think of Job's wife's counsel. "Curse God and die."

The characters are brought to that point, the one where all they have left is the struggle between believing God is who He says He is, and finding a shortcut out of their pain. Each character is three dimensionally formed and believable as they accept, in degrees and layers, God's calling and their expected obedience.

The spiritual warfare aspect of the book is powerful as well, classic good versus evil, but with the good showing weakness and insecurity and evil showing raw magnetism.

Reviewed by Kelly Klepfer (visit for a mini interview with Lisa)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Chris Coppernoll's Providence ~ Reviewed

Chris Coppernoll
Paperback: 317 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook Distribution (August 2007)
ISBN-10: 0781445647
ISBN-13: 978-0781445641
Visit Novel Journey (9-17-07) for Chris's interview.

More than twenty years ago a drunk driver shattered Jack Clayton's life. Angry, confused, and as naïve as any college freshman, he trades his small Midwestern town for another, only to find that it's too small to contain his dreams. Or is it? Now an instrumental part of the Campus Missions Office and a New York Times nest-selling author, he makes his home in that very college town, where the past and "the one that got away" relentlessly haunt him and the future becomes increasingly uncertain thanks to a big city reporter with a malicious agenda.

Will he have to walk away from the ministry that he spent decades building? Or can he find a way to confront the rumors and set the record straight? In a race against the clock, Jack throws caution to the wind and finds that even he may deserve a second chance.


In a braid of past and present, Chris Coppernoll weaves the coming of age of a young man and the unraveling of the grown man who now lives with the consequences of his past. Not often does there come along a book this powerful and haunting.
I met Chris at our local book club where he came as a guest of a member. We hadn't read his book, but he told us about it. Fascinated by his synopsis and wondering if he could pull it off as a writer, I took a copy.

He pulled it off, all right. In spades. Providence is a book you'll long remember, even after you've turned the last page. A master of first person narration, Chris digs deep into his characters' psyches and gives you the full depth of their emotions, all without leaving Jack's point of view.
Providence is one of the best books I've read—ever. Powerful, poignant and utterly satisfying. This reviewer gives it her highest recommendation. It's a 5-star read.

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan

Karen Kingsbury's Just Beyond the Clouds ~ Reviewed

Sequel to A Thousand Tomorrows
By Karen Kingsbury
Published by Center Street, Sept 14, 2007
ISBN-10: 1-59996-677-2

Still aching over his wife's death, Cody Gunner can't bear the thought of also letting go of his Down syndrome brother, Carl Joseph. Cody wants is brother home, where he will be safe and cared for, not out on his own in a world that Cody knows all to well can be heartless and insecure. So when Carl Joseph's teacher, Elle, begins championing his independence, she finds herself at odds with Cody. But even as these two battle it out, they can't deny the instinctive connection they share, and Cody faces a crisis of the heart.

What if Elle is the one woman how can teach Cody that love is still possible? If Cody can let of his lingering anger, he might just see that sometimes the brightest hope of all lies JUST BEYOND THE CLOUDS.

I loved that this story which in part is written in the voice of Carl Joseph. This is not a typical Karen Kingsbury story; you enter into Carl Joseph world. My heart was deeply touched in a good way in how the author shows God’s love through the eyes of a child. It was lovable and fun. I highly recommend this book.

Nora St.Laurent
Life Way Book Club Leader

Friday, September 14, 2007

Cindy Woodsmall's When the Morning Comes ~ Reviewed

When the Morning Comes
Cindy Woodsmall
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (September 4, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 140007293X
ISBN-13: 978-1400072934

A two for one review. Ane and Kelly both read and reviewed When the Morning Comes. Cindy will visit Novel Journey today, also. She shares some writing wisdom with our readers.


Her relationship with fiancé Paul Waddell in tatters, Hannah Lapp has fled her secluded Old Order Amish community in hopes of finding a new home in Ohio with her shunned aunt. Hampered by limited education and hiding her true identity, Hannah struggles it navigate the confusing world if the Englischers.

Back in Owl’s Perch, Pennsylvania, Paul is wracked with regret over his treatment of Hannah. Fearing for her safety, he tries to convince Hannah’s remaining allies—brother Luke, best friend Mary, and loyal Matthew Esh—to help search for his love. Hannah’s father, however, remains steadfastly convinced of her sinful behavior. His blindness to his family’s pain extends to her sister, Sarah, who shows signs of increasing instability.

Convinced her former life is irreparably destroyed, Hannah finds purpose and solace in life with her aunt and in a growing friendship with Martin Palmer. Will the countless opportunities in her new life persuade Hannah that her place is amongst the Englischers—or will she give in to her heart’s call to return and face her past?

Ane's Review:

Book two in the Sisters of the Quilt series, When Morning Comes is the perfect sequel to When the Heart Cries. As Hannah comes of age in this journey of faith, she’s exposed to a new world of opportunity. A world where many of her dreams can come true. Woodsmall is a gifted writer who once again turned off my inner editor, enabling me to suspend disbelief and experience Hannah’s life-changing challenges.

Have you ever read a sequel to a book you loved, and the author took the story in a direction you didn’t want it to go? I was surprised with the end of When Morning Comes, yet it had a certain rightness to it, a satisfying end. But it isn’t the end. There’s more to Hannah’s story to come. I for one, can’t wait to read it.

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan

Kelly's Review:

Rich with authentic details of Amish community and powerful in its theme of hope beyond measure, When the Morning Comes, succeeds as a compelling follow-up to Cindy Woodsmall's best-selling debut novel, When the Heart Cries.

Demonstrating both the sweetness of God's grace and the agony of living within a fallen world, When the Morning Comes, offers a look at several entwined families and the consequences for choices made.

Hannah is the main female character in this novel. However, multiple dramas woven through her story are as compelling as hers. Mary holds a secret that eats away at her. Sarah's thoughts consume her and are possibly beginning to consume others in her community.

Well-written with rich details and an abundance of God's sovereignty, When the Morning Comes, offers much to book lovers. I did not read When the Heart Cries, but didn't feel lost in attempting to understand Hannah's story. I would like to go back and pick up Heart Cries while I wait for book three.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Creston Mapes' Nobody ~ Reviewed

Creston Mapes
Paperback: 386 pages
Publisher: Multnomah Fiction (September 11, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1590526244
ISBN-13: 978-1590526248


They said, “He’s a nobody.”

They were dead wrong.

When reporter Hudson Ambrose hears an early morning call on his police scanner about an injured person at a bus stop on Las Vegas Boulevard, he rushes to the scene to get the scoop.

His world is blown off its axis when he discovers a murdered homeless man with a bankbook in his pocket showing a balance of almost one million dollars. Should he wait for the police, knowing the case will get lost in reams of red tape, or swipe the bankbook and take the investigation–and perhaps a chunk of the money–into his own hands?

With sirens bearing down on the scene, Hudson makes an impulse decision that whisks him on a frantic search for answers, not only about the mysterious dead man, but about the lost soul lurking within himself.

Uncovering bizarre links between a plane crash, a Las Vegas pit boss, a dirty cop, and a widowed Atlanta business mogul, Hudson is forced to find out: who was Chester Holte, what was he doing on the streets, and why are his homeless friends convinced he was an angel in disguise?


I read the book "Nobody" and thoroughly enjoyed it. It kept up the suspense throughout and the ending was a complete surprise. I enjoyed the variety of story lines that were intertwined and was happy that they were adequately resolved before the end of the book.

My only negative comment is that the religious aspect I felt was dragged out a bit too long and had too much emphasis on it in the later chapters. It really wasn't a major issue in the beginning but then began to drag on. I knew what the outcome was going to be and I just kept wishing he would get there so I could find out the "real " ending of the book.

Reviewed by Cathy Schanz

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Stephanie Grace Whitson's Jacob's List ~ Reviewed

Jacob’s List
By Stephanie Grace Whitson
Published by Bethany House
ISBN-10: 0-7642-0326-8


Jacob Nolan is a bright, talented college student with a bold list of things he hopes to accomplish before he “settles down.” Although he is unaware of any family problems, he is possibly the only reason his parents are still together.

And then the Nolans face the most difficult challenge of their lives. They come to the realization that Jacob’s list is about a lot more than youthful adventure. Will their son’s list help them find each their again?


Stephanie Grace Whitson has set a new paradigm for Christian authors with Jacob’s List. I don’t want to give any of this hard-hitting story away, so this review will be short. But Whitson has delivered a portrayal of emotions so realistic in characters so life-like, I experienced them with Pam and Michael.

But what stayed with me the most was the conversion scene. It was one of the most natural conversions I’ve read. No manipulation, no voices in the sky, no renewed instant joy, no dramatic anything. Just an honest choice brought about by the circumstances.

How life-like. How believable. And something a non-Christian could perhaps relate to?
This is one book I will give to a friend who is grieving a lost marriage. It’s a book of hope. And forgiveness. A book this reviewer gives her highest recommendation.

By the way, you’ll love Rambo. Now if I could only get my dog to do the things he does.

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan

Monday, September 10, 2007

M L Tyndall's The Restitution ~ Reviewed

The Restitution
Legacy of the King’s Pirates ~ Book 3
By M.L. Tyndall
Barbour Publishing, Inc. August 2007
ISBN 978-1-59789-361-9

Visit NovelJourney for a few words from MaryLu.

A scorned woman longing for wealth, position, and the return of her son…

An obsessed pirate craving the love of the lady he once ravished…

A twisted nobleman seeking to capture a spurned woman’s heart…

And the intricate plot of vengeance that weaves their lives together.

Lady Isabel Ashton gives birth to her illegitimate son, Frederick, the product of a pirate’s violent attack. Spurned by family and society, Isabel clings to the hope of marrying a nobleman and returning to her privileged social class, but then her baby is kidnapped.

Captain Kent Carlton, determined to win the heart and forgiveness of the woman whose purity he pirated, searches every port for Isabel. What he finds is Richard Sawkins, a nobleman who informs him of Frederick’s existence and kidnapping and the whereabouts of Isabel.

Will Kent forsake all his treasure, power, and dreams of becoming the Admiral of the Brethren of the Coast in order to unite Isabel and his son? And will Isabel finally realize that title and wealth are meaningless when compared to riches in Christ. Can she allow her heart to love a penniless pirate?

The Restitution is Tyndall’s third and last of the Legacy of the King’s Pirates series. Having read the first two, I must admit I began Restitution with trepidation. I’d already given my heart to Merrick and Charlisse—the former main characters. I was fairly certain there’d be no chance this novel could measure up or even come close.

Boy, was I wrong.

Engaging characters, gripping plot, lean and mean writing—I was totally blown away. This is by far Tyndall’s best work to date.

I read a lot. Usually I can see the plot line developing far in advance like a stretch of North Dakota highway. This story takes hairpin turns at 90 mph. Not once, but three times Tyndall blindsided me with a plot turn I didn’t expect.

She also manages to endear her new set of pirates into the reader’s heart. Yes, even the nasty villains. And the main character, Captain Kent Carlton, sure starts out that way in the first of this series.

There are few books that I keep on my shelves to re-read throughout the years. This is one of them, and I won’t even stoop to using cutesy pirate jargon to convince you to read it. Just do it. I have no doubt The Restitution will be one of your ’keepers’ as well.

Reviewed by: Michelle Griep

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Kristin Billerbeck's The Trophy Wives Club ~ Reviewed

The Trophy Wives Club
By Kristin Billerbeck
Published by Avon Inspired, Sept 4, 2007
ISBN 978-0-06-137546-0

Haley Cutler is the consummate trophy wife. Perhaps was is the more accurate term. Haley married Prince Charming when she was only twenty—back in the day when highlights came from an afternoon at the beach, not three hours in the salon.

Unfortunately, after seven years as Jay Cutler's wife, a role that provided significance and what she thought was love, Jay walks out, and Haley finds herself with few life skills that translate to the real world, not to mention a sense of amnesia about who she used to be. But before Haley can find her way, she must meet with Jay's lawyer, the strikingly handsome Hamilton Lowe. Although she can't stand his self-righteous contempt for her divorce, she takes his suggestion to attend a group at his church called "The Trophy Wives Club" a Bible study composed of women who have been dealt a raw deal. Haley's never been into the whole Jesus thing but could really use some friends to walk her through this phase (how do you apply for a credit card anyway?)

As Haley begins to realize that she really can stand on her own two feet, she also learns that sometimes in losing we find the real reward ...

Billerbeck tackles a hard subject with humor and a tremendous amount of insight. Haley doesn't trust the church. And if Hamilton's attitude is any indication, why should she? Haley's excursion into the Trophy Wives Club wasn't at all what I expected. Haley doesn't roll over and play little Christian. She's tough and I liked her. For chick lit, this little book packs a punch.

Billerbeck doesn't deliver a soapbox sermon but weaves the spiritual thread in so subtly, it rings with authenticity. The Trophy Wives Club will make you laugh, do a little introspection, and laugh some more. Great characters, a surprising plot, and definitely a great read.

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

September Book Releases

America Christian Fiction Writers September releases as compiled by Jill Eileen Smith.

Thanks, Jill.

1. A Big Apple Christmas by Vasthi Reyes Acosta, Gail Sattler, Lynette Sowell , and Carrie Turnasky from Barbour. A contemporary collection of four novellas that captures the sights and sounds of Christmas in New York City.

2. A Mommy In Mind, A Tiny Blessings Tale, Book 3 of 6 by Arlene James, from Steeple Hill Love Inspired. A single woman trying to adopt an infant eventually realizes that the attorney behind a nightmarish custody suit is God's chosen mate for her.

3. A Shadow of Treason, 2nd book in The Chronicles of the Spanish Civil War series by Tricia Goyer from Moody Publishers. Sophie must leave behind the man she loves and return to the person who betrayed her. Another layer of war in Spain is revealed and nothing is as it seems.

4. A Texas Legacy Christmas, Texas Legacy series Book 4 by DiAnn Mills from Barbour Publishing. Snuggle down between the covers of A Texas Christmas Legacy, where the miracle of love and life awaits you on every page.

5. Boo Humbug, The Boo Series by Rene Gutteridge from WaterBrook Press. The zany characters of Skary return in this Christmas novella.

6. Finding Marie sequel to Frasier Island by Susan Page Davis from Harvest House. Marie Belanger witnesses a murder and runs for her life not knowing why, eluding her pursuers so well it’s nearly impossible for her husband Pierre tohelp her.

7. Long Trail to Love 2nd in the Vermont Contemporary series by Pamela Griffin from Heartsong Presents. Carly loses her boyfriend, her job, and the town’s respect in one crazy moment while out-of-towner Nate suffers a similar fate, but when they become “team mates” during a hike into Canada, the trek doesn’t allow for a smooth climb – in more ways than one!

8. Mason's Link by Bill Andrews from Xulon Press, recounts he fictional discovery of a link used to communicate with a departed loved one, considered by Heavenly powers to be the most important event since the Resurrection.

9. Montana Mistletoe by Lena Nelson Dooley, Lisa Harris, Debby Mayne, and Kim Vogel Sawyer from Barbour Publishing. Four friends make a pact to marry by their twenty-eighth Christmas, but as the deadline looms, careers and experiences threaten to douse their Christmas spirit — and their chances for romance.

10. Shadow of Danger by Jeanne Marie Leach from Mountain View Publishing. Sent away from home because of an undisclosed danger, a woman locates an old friend to help, but will she find love or will the danger get her first?

11. Sushi For One? by Camy Tang from Zondervan. Will Lex Sakai be able to surrender her "perfect man" list and give Mr. All Wrong a chance?

12. The Restorer’s Son by Sharon Hinck from NavPress. A new, reluctant Restorer is asked to sacrifice for his people—if he can find a way to yield to the One.

13. When the Morning Comes by Cindy Woodsmall from WaterBrook Press. Wounded by her family, doubted by her fiance, Hannah Lapp plunges into life outside her Old Order Amish community.

14. When the Nile Runs Red by DiAnn Mills from Moody. An Arab Christian dedicated to helping the Southern Sudanese is hunted by his Muslim brothers.

AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST...(unless someone else chimes in) NOBODY by Creston Mapes.

Happy reading~

Camy Tang's Sushi for One? ~ Reviewed

Sushi for One?

Camy Tang

Paperback: 346 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (September 1, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310273986
ISBN-13: 978-0310273981

Click for a two-part interview with Camy.

Book Description: Lex Sakai's family is big, nosy, and marriage-minded. When her cousin Mariko gets married, Lex will become the oldest single female cousin in the clan.

Lex has used her Bible study class on Ephesians to compile a huge list of traits for the perfect man. But the one man she keeps running into doesn't seem to have a single quality on her list. It's only when the always-in-control Lex starts to let God take over that all the pieces of this hilarious romance finally fall into place.

My Review:

I always feel a little nervous when I crack open a book written by someone I know, someone I've bantered with and traded wise cracks with and someone I really like as a person.

What if I don't like the book?

What will I say?

Fortunately, Sushi for One, will not leave me scrambling to be gentle yet truthful. Camy Tang is adorable, funny and sweet, and those qualities come through loud and clear in Sushi for One.

I love the cultural feel with unfamiliar language, customs, scents and tastes. I'm a big fan of Amy Tan and am currently reading Memoirs of a Geisha. Tang takes the culture and adds a sassy Americanized spin with Lex, her thirty-year-old heroine. Lex is obsessed with volleyball, and though I don't even come close to caring about that sport, I didn't get pulled away from the story or annoyed with the many references. The Chick-Lit third person feel of the story created intimacy with Lex and made it easy to cheer her on.

Spiritually, Tang tossed in some very real-life situations exploring religion vs. authentic Christianity. The drama of dating and girlfriends/cousins brought loads of "yuck" moments and chuckles. In the end, I felt certain that Lex was on the road to recovery in many different ways.

I recommend Sushi for One to those who love cultural reads, Chick-Lit, and light, fun humor packed with truth.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Angela Hunt's Doesn't She Look Natural ~ Reviewed

Doesn't She Look Natural
Angela Hunt
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414311699
ISBN-13: 978-1414311692

If you'd like to read an interview with Angela click here.

Jennifer Graham, the no-nonsense chief of staff for a Virginia Senator, quits her job after her divorce -- becoming an unemployed single mom. Her uncertain future becomes even more so when she learns she's inherited a beautiful Victorian home -- historic Fairlawn Funeral Home, that is. Jennifer journeys to the small picturesque Florida town of Mt. Dora with her two sons and her mother, never dreaming that within a mortuary she will learn how to truly live.

My Review:
Doesn't She Look Natural lives up to Angela Hunt's "Expect the Unexpected" reputation.

Not only did this story entertain and pull me into the lives of a family in the midst of a huge season of testing and trial -- it also challenged me spiritually and twisted my heart.

The novel cover feels very Chick-Lit and the story is full of quirky characters behaving quirkily, but "Natural" is not a syrupy read. Set in a dilapidated funeral home in muggy Florida, there are elements of downright creepiness. Several moments of suspense had me holding my breath and turning pages. I find death and forensics fascinating and loved all the interesting details provided by Angie for my vicarious pleasure.

Family issues brought on by pain and sin were heartbreakingly real. But light moments and bittersweet tenderness peppered the narrative. I raised a son, so the scenes with the boys brought smiles or tears as Angie described boy-behavior spot-on.

Jennifer and her mother, Joella, were a little more difficult for me to embrace. Both sprouted some prickly exteriors and pricklier attitudes, but the changes within their relationship, as they sorted out the details of Jennifer's devastation, made me almost stand up and cheer for them. The women at the conclusion of the final satisfying page were women I'd choose as friends.

This grown-up Chick-Lit is a delightful and thought-provoking read. I highly recommend it. Although the subject matter of divorce, infidelity and death is handled with dignity,those who are extremely squeamish or sensitive should be aware that Natural is not pure escapism. Fans of Angie Hunt should not be disappointed. Nor should fans of solid, honest, gut-level well-written fiction that just happens to contain abundant grace and hope.

Reviewed by Kelly Klepfer