Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Ted Dekker and Erin Healy's Kiss ~ Reviewed

By Ted Dekker & Erin Healy
Published by Thomas Nelson
ISBN# 978-1-59554-470-4
Pages 322

To read the first chapter click here.

Back Cover: Let me tell you all I know for sure. My name. Shauna. I woke up in a hospital bed missing six months of my memory. In the room was my loving boyfriend - how could I have forgotten him? - my uncle and my abusive stepmother. Everyone blames me for the tragic car accident that left me near death and my dear brother brain damaged. But what they say can't be true - can it?

I believe the medicine is doing strange things to my memory. I'm unsure who I can trust and who I should run from. And I'm starting to remember things I've never known. Things not about me. I think I'm going crazy.

And even worse, I think they want to kill me.

But who? And for what? Is dying for the truth really better than living with a lie?


I have to say I was intimidated by the cover of this book. I didn't want to read a blood and guts kind of story, or one so scary I wouldn't be able to sleep at night. Don't judge this book by it's cover.This is one exciting, action-filled story that doesn't dwell on the gruesome. For that I'm thankful. It made the book so much more enjoyable for me because it wasn't gorey. This novel reminds me of Ted Dekker's books in his early years. I loved them. This story is intriguing and fascinating as the plot unfolds on every page. There are some surprising turns that made this suspenseful journey all worthwhile.

I loved Shauna's discovery about the painful parts of life - the ones that most of us would like to forget. Most of the characters in this story want Shauna to stop trying to recover her memory loss. They want the six months she has lost, to stay lost, but Shauna can't live like that. She knew someone wanted to kill her, but why? What did she know? They tell her she should be thankful to be able to forget all the pain. They say,"Why remember that?". She doesn't want a clean slate - she wants to remember who she is! She wants to know what happened that lead up to the accident! One of the characters tells Shauna "Then you will have to work harder than the average person to hold on to what is true. If you forget, Shauna, your suffering will rule you instead of free you."

Deal with the past, get justice, and make the pain go away -- that's what Shauna thought would help. Isn't that what the world tells you to do? Her doctor tells her something different, "...your plan will only root you more deeply in the pain of your past, not separate you from it. Pain was not God's plan for this life. It is a reality, but it is not part of the plan." - Shauna would have to think about that one. But, the process of getting well was made more difficult because of who her father is. Landon, her father, is running for President. It's bad enough that he doesn't have time for a relationship with his family, but he has blamed her for this accident!! Her father's advisor, Trent, has filled him in on all the details while he was on the road. Landon thought, how could Shauna be so reckless so close to
the election. Doesn't she know what's at stake?

The pain of life. The wrongs done to the innocent. How do we really get "free" from that kind of pain? This book explores many aspects of this question amidst the suspense and murder plots, that's what I loved about this story. This is the main reason I started to read Ted Dekker's books in the first place. I love to read about real people struggling with different aspects of the Christian life. I felt that Dekker and Healy were able to bring scripture to life throughout this book. Ted Dekker and Erin Healy -- a winning combination and an exciting team. I look forward to reading "Burn" in 2010.

Reviewed by:
Nora St.Laurent
- Book Club Servant Leader

Bonus Review:

Kiss is an interesting blend of what-if and humanity at it's worst, at it's most resilient.

Full of paranoia, back-stabbing intrigue and political posturing, Kiss delivers a page-turning read.

More cat and mouse than outright adrenaline, Kiss, also asks some deep questions about the human condition. Healy has added softness to Dekker's usual black and white evil vs truth scenarios. But this isn't a purely girl read by any stretch. Not totally believable, like Dekker ever falls into that category, but conceivable and that's where Dekker seems to reside. Like I said, the land of what if, well done.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from Novel Reviews.

We hope your 2009 will be full of blessings and wonder. May you find time to read many new and delightful books that will enrich your life.

Thanks for visiting us. We appreciate you.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Jason Wright's Christmas Jars ~ Reviewed

Christmas Jars
by Jason F. Wright
Published by Shadow Mountain
ISBN# 978-1-59038-481-7
122 Pages

Back Cover:

Hope Jensen is a young, single woman and an aspiring newspaper writer, and when she receives a much-needed but anonymous Christmas gift, she's determined to find her benefactor. That search leads her to an unusual family with a longstanding Christmas
tradition. Sensing a front-page feature article, Hope desperately wants to publish her story, but doing so would be a breach of trust. What she decides to do will change her life forever.

Destined to become a classic Christmas tale, Christmas Jars is a heartwarming story that will restore your faith in mankind and make you want to start your own Christmas Jar tradition.


Author Jason Wright captures the true Christmas spirit in this small but powerful book. The spirit of Christmas is LOVE. Love changes everything it touches. I received a copy of this book attached to a Christmas Jar this year. My family and I were deeply touched by this special gift. Love was put into this gift long before
it found it's way to me and my family. I was overwhelmed by the book "Christmas Jars", love does that to you. The Love of Christmas is a gift that keeps giving year after year.

After reading this book you will not look at jars the same way. Your family might decide to start your own Christmas Jar, mine is. I'm excited this book is soon to be a major motion picture; one I'm looking forward to seeing.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent - Book Club Servant Leader

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Davy Lui's Fire Fish ~ Reviewed

Fire Fish
By Davy Lui
Kendu Films Productions
ISBN 978-0-615-19233-8

In this golden fable, three little fish, Sarai, RaaOn and Sesom, dare to embark on a grand and dangerous quest to find their hearts’ desire. Their journey is inspired by the legend of the FIRE FISH, mystical masters of the Bright Beyond.

Never more than a fin-flip away from deadly danger, they tumble from one breathtaking exploit to another, using the power of “the call” to guide them through a world bigger than they ever imagined.

A story of mystic power. There is a suprising twist to this fish tale that teaches timeless truth and ensures its future as a fireside classic.

Fire Fish is a book about a girl fish and her two brothers who set out on a scary adventure to try to find their parents who were captured by fishermen. I like how it is the story of Moses from the fishes’ point of view. It is exciting and fun, and it has beautiful illustrations. They have many adventures, but the ending was my favorite part. I loved it.

By Meg A, Age 9

Monday, December 22, 2008

Tom Sullivan/Betty White's Together ~ Reviewed

By Tom Sullivan & Betty White
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Pub. Date: June 2008
ISBN-13: 9781595544568

Back Cover: Sometimes you can't see what matters most until it's gone.

Brenden McCarthy feels like he's lost everything. His fiancee. His independence. And his passion for life. All due to one tragic misstep while mountain climbing that cost him his sight.

But he's about to gain the last thing he ever expected.

A big-hearted black Labrador named Nelson who's given one last shot at being a Seeing Eye dog.

Both are beyond hope and resigned to live alone. And both are about to experience a bond of friendship that develops when they least expect it.

Together is a heartwarming story for anyone who's ever lost sight of what matters most in life...but has hope that there's more.

Review: This book is a real eye and heart opener for me; it will do the same for you. "Focus". I'm usually focused on the destination. I'm in a hurry and don't take the time to smell the flowers along the way. I'm so thankful for people like Tom Sullivan, Betty White and my husband who take the time and look at the world around them.

Tom Sullivan has been blind from birth. He has faced his fears and decided to LIVE LIFE instead of just sitting there passing time. Tom has taken chances that most sited individuals won't even take.

I was amazed at how far technology has evolved to help a blind person function in a sighted world. There is so much I take for granted. Did you know that you can hear someone smile? Reading this book made me aware of how awesome God is and how important all of our senses are in experiencing life to the fullest. Tom Sullivan is an inspiration to all of us. He's a public speaker, singer, actor, writer - the list goes on. He doesn't let his blindness get in the way of any activity. I heard him on a talk show years ago where he described how he drove a car!! Not kidding!!

Betty White has crusaded on behalf of animals for years. I never knew how smart dogs were and what they can be trained to do. It was quite fascinating to read how these special dogs are trained to help the blind person function in daily tasks. Not only do the dogs help the blind live life, they are also their protectors. It goes to show you that if you spell dog backwards, you get the word God! I have
a new appreciation for these special animals and how God made them so forgiving and filled with unconditional love for their masters.

Pick up a copy of this book and enter a world you never new existed. I'm looking forward to more stories from this amazing team. They helped me look at life from a totally new point of view. You will too!

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent - Book Club Servant Leader

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Lisa T. Bergren's God Gave Us Heaven ~ Reviewed

God Gave Us Heaven
By Lisa T. Bergren
WaterBrook Press
ISBN 978-1-4000-7446-4


As the sun rises on her snow-covered world, Little Cub wonders aloud…

“What is heaven like?”

With tender words, her Papa describes a wonderful place, free of sadness and tears, where God warmly welcomes his loved ones after their life on earth is over. Little Cub and Papa spend the day wandering their beautiful, invigorating arctic world while she asks all about God’s home: How do we get to heaven? Will we eat there? Will I get to see you in heaven? Papa patiently answers each question, assuring her that…

“Heaven will be full of everything good.”

This gentle story provides satisfying answers for a young child’s most difficult questions about what happens after this life, inviting “little cubs” to find comfort in knowing that God Gave Us Heaven.


This book is about a cute little girl polar bear who is asking her dad questions about heaven. I liked the pictures a lot. I especially like how the picture of the bridge crossing the canyon helps me understand the dad’s answer about how we get to heaven.

Review by Meg A, age 9

Friday, December 19, 2008

Dandi Daley Mackall's God Loves Me More Than That ~ Reviewed

God Loves Me More Than That
By Dandi Daley Mackall
WaterBrook Press
ISBN 978-1-4000-7316-0


How much love does God have for me?
More than the letters between A and Z. More than the bumbles in a bumble bee.

God loves me more than that!

As your child revels in each lively rhyme and engaging illustration from this delightful picture book, they’ll learn that God loves them deeper than a wishing well, wider than a semi-truck, louder than thunder, and softer than a kitten’s sneeze.

Each question, presented with charming child-like faith will help your child grasp the great love of God through comparisons and descriptions they can easily understand. In short, they’ll discover that His love is bigger, wider, higher, and deeper than anything they could imagine!


This book is about how much God loves you. The little boy is asking questions about God’s love. I really like the answers especially “deeper than a wishing well” and “louder than the cheering of a football crowd.” I also liked the pictures.

Review by Meg A, age 9

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sheila Lowe's Written in Blood ~ Reviewed

Written In Blood: A Forensic Handwriting Mystery (Forensic Handwriting Mysteries)
by Sheila Lowe
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Signet (September 2, 2008)
ISBN-13: 978-0451224873

Product Description

The widow of a rich, older man, Paige Sorensen is younger than—and hated by—her stepchildren. And they’re dead set on proving that she forged their father’s signature on his will, which left his entire estate, including the Sorensen Academy for Girls, to her. Claudia admits she’s intrigued by this real-life soap opera, and breaks her first rule: never get personally involved. But she’s grown attached to a troubled Sorensen student—and when disaster strikes, she’ll realize that reading between the lines can mean the difference between life and death…

My Review:

Written in Blood is a fascinating look into psychology and personality as revealed through unconscious cracks in the human shield. Through handwriting certain characteristics are exposed to light and those who find those clues can either believe in the character of the person who scribbled the note or run in response to what's revealed.

After a slow start, Written in Blood simmered and came to a full roiling boil as evidence, circumstances and people all melded into a pot of ingredients leading to surprises and shocks. Not all of the elements caught me by surprise and I wasn't enthralled at the beginning of the book as the characters were introduced. But once this satisfying mystery heated up I missed some sleep. I loved the addition of the fascinating handwriting psychological tidbits. The author's knowledge added unique spice to the story.

Warning: R-rated for strong language, sexual situations, and some gruesome scenes.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Janson Mancheski's The Chemist ~ Reviewed

The Chemist
By: Janson Mancheski
Published by Bridgeway Books
ISBN 978-1-934454-28-2

Back Cover:

“Theories abounded. Everything from cults to witchcraft covens, from serial kidnappings to random relocation from the area. Through it all, however, one troubling question remained. How could three healthy, drug-free women, along with their automobiles, vanish without a trace?”

Last spring, three girls went missing. Nothing linked the cases except a frustrating lack of clues or motive. Then, one of them turned up headless in Lake Michigan pumped full of date rape drugs. Detective Cale Van Waring doesn’t have proof, but he knows that girls are being abducted. Now, spring has returned, and so has Van Waring’s invisible kidnapper. Another girl is missing, but this time Van Waring finds a spotty trail. With his boss on his back and his girlfriend threatening to leave unless he commits, Van Waring struggles to put the pieces together before another girl ends up missing—or dead.


The book started with a bang and ended with one, too. In between lay a series of twists and turns that had me struggling to piece together the hows and whodunnits of this cop/thriller ride. I was particularly impressed with the ‘real’ feel of the police officers and their daily lives. Also of note was the obvious research that went into the scientific aspects of the story. Adding professional football players (Green Bay Packers) to the suspect list was a nice twist. This was a fast read, one that with few exceptions, kept me turning pages. Mancheski really cranked up the intensity, however, in the last quarter of the book. I stayed up late getting to the end.

Weaknesses lay in the dreaded sagging middle. While the story did not slow enough to make me stop reading, I did find myself anxious to move forward, to uncover new clues, or see some sort of unexpected twist. This was a minor flaw, however, in a relatively engaging novel that I’m happy to recommend.

Cautionary Note: Book contained some graphic details and language.

Reviewed by: Elizabeth Ludwig

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Dandi Daley Mackall's When God Created My Toes ~ Reviewed

When God Created My Toes
By Dandi Daley Mackall
WaterBrook Press
ISBN 978-1-4000-7315-3


Did he have to hold his nose, when God created my toes?

This charming picture book allows your child to imagine what it was like when God created them. From the top of their heads to the tips of their toes they will explore and understand God’s delight in creating them.

Through rhyming lines and vivid illustrations children will gain confidence and self-esteem when they begin to fully realize how perfectly, intricately, and uniquely God created them.


This book is about a girl who is wondering what God did when He created different parts of her body. I like the illustrations of notebook paper with doodles. I also thought it was funny especially when she says, “Did he have to plug his nose when God created my toes?”

Review by Meg A, age 9

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christy Barritt's Suspicious Minds ~ Reviewed

Suspicious Minds (Squeaky Clean Series, Book 2)
by Christy Barritt
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications (June 17, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0825425409
ISBN-13: 978-0825425400

My Review:

I loved Hazardous Duty, Christy Barritt's first in the Squeaky Clean series. Suspicious Minds brings the same confused and bad-guy bait heroine. It also brings a new mystery and a mix of romance, unrequited love and more than enough problems.

Gabby St. Claire doesn't mind cleaning up other folks gruesome messes but doesn't know how to clean up her own personal relational messes. The blend is very chick-lit but instead of designer duds Gabby wears flip-flops and a lot of hazardous waste wear. Her relationships resemble some of her crime scene clean-up before photos and her radar is set to find out what's not working for her.

Gabby's meddling into the untimely death of yet another Elvis turns up more than she bargained for. Every time she turns around she finds another twist, another person of interest and another mess to clean up. Suspicious Minds is satisfying and entertaining. Only the extreme squeamish may want to think twice...mystery lovers and chick-lit fans should find it to be greatly entertaining.

Reviewed by:
Kelly Klepfer

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Michelle Griep's Gallimore ~ Reviewed

by Michelle Griep (Author)
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Black Lyon Publishing (December 15, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1934912115

Product Description:

Jessica Neale's faith is lost the day of her husband's death, and with it, her belief in love.

In a journey to find peace, she encounters a gentle, green-eyed stranger who leads her to the ruins of the medieval castle, Gallimore.

On his way to battle, Colwyn Haukswyrth, knight of Gallimore, comes face to face with a storm the likes of which he's never seen, and a woman in the midst of it who claims to live centuries in the future. The Lady Jessica of Neale is an irksome, provoking bit of woman to be sure. And she's about to turn his beliefs on end. The product of a family rooted in pain and evil, Colwyn has focused on naught but himself-until Jessica.

To a mysterious prophecy stitched on a tapestry, through the invasion of Gallimore itself, Colwyn and Jessica are bound together by a lesson in forgiveness and love-a bond that might be strong enough to survive the grave.

My Review:

Be still my heart!! Gallimore is a book that you simply cannot pass by! Part romance, part historical, part fantasy….oh dear readers!! You do NOT want to miss this!!

Can you tell I finished Gallimore’s final pages just this moment?! Just this moment read the last M’lady in its most precious utterance? What can I say? You begin with a heart-wrenching terrifying prologue that lingers in the broken heart of Jessica Neale as she boards a plane for London. On the plane, Jessica meets a stranger who turns out to be a local from the area she is traveling to, a stranger who offers to help keep her safe during her travels. When the stranger’s directions take her into the English countryside in the midst of a horrific thunderstorm in search of the remains of a fourteenth century castle…well the story that unwinds from that moment will steal your breath away!

What is real? What is imagined? Has true love fled Jessica’s life forever? Journey from present to past and back again with such beautiful reality that you will never forget the castle Gallimore! In addition to the adventure, the romance the intrigue that makes this story so memorable, there is a spiritual truth subtly bound within the story that will give you pause to examine your own walk with Christ. Truly, this is an unforgettable story! This was a WONDERFUL book! I cannot wait to read the next novel by Michelle Griep!! I highly recommend Gallimore to everyone!

Watch the video trailer!

Reviewed by Kim Ford

Bonus Review:

I entered the unbelievable world Michelle Griep created - hook, line and sinker. This book is unlike anything that I have ever read. I am so thrilled by Michelle's first book that I cannot wait to see what adventure she takes me on next.

"There's no place like home!" Dorothy says after entering the magical world of Oz. Jessica Neale is beginning to know how Dorothy felt as she entered a world so unlike her own. How did she get here and where exactly was here? Where was home? Unlike Dorothy, there was no yellow brick road to follow, no hope of seeing the wonderful Wizard of Oz so she could get home, and no friends to help her along the way. Jessica was alone in a scary, dark, new world - "Gallimore" was its name. It wasn't her home…no matter how much these people wanted her to be part of it. Oh, she would play along with their charades, dress up in the costumes, and play the parts just to stay alive long enough to find her way back home - the home where her little boy waited for her.

Jessica was all dressed up and looked like a character in a fairy
tale. Usually fairy tales had happy endings, but she wasn't sure where this tale was leading her. It hadn't been cheery so far…downright scary if she were to admit it. But, she wasn't going to let this town get the best of her. "Her heart ached to hug her own little boy. The desire to go home wrapped around her like the fabric of traline she fussed with. But where was home, and where was she?" Jessica had to stay focused. She had to figure out a way to get home and into the arms ofher little boy.

Nora St.Laurent - Book Club Servant Leader

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ravi Zacharias' New Birth or Rebirth? Jesus Talks with Krishna ~ Reviewed

New Birth or Rebirth?: Jesus Talks with Krishna (Great Conversations)
by Ravi Zacharias
Hardcover: 96 pages
Publisher: Multnomah Books (June 17, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1590527259

Product Description:

Ultimate truth. The destiny of souls. The individual heart. Can Krishna and Jesus agree on anything?

This is what Subramaniam, a real-life Hindu of the twentieth century, wonders as he enters a fictitious conversation between two religious figures who have changed the lives of millions. As Jesus and Krishna respond to each other’s view of life and the afterlife, they speak words straight from the texts of Christianity and Hinduism and straight into the soul.

Subramaniam asks Jesus and Krishna hard questions about faith. Meanwhile, a fictional character, Richard, eavesdrops, asking himself the most important question of all:

Does it really matter what I believe?

My Review:

This 90 page novelette is packed with fascinating information. Subramaniam, a converted Hindu asks tough questions of the founders of the two faiths that he has embraced.

Zacharias has toned down the heavy teaching through the use of characters which makes it far more interesting to read than a text-book version of who believes what and how did those beliefs come into existence? I certainly feel like I got an education in the Hindu belief system.

As far as the fictional elements go, I wasn't swept away by the story, it reads like a vehicle to get the information out versus a developed character whose needs drive them.

Overall, if you are fascinated by different belief systems, or are a seeker of truth, this little book could really help turn a spotlight onto the distilled truth of two different faiths. It's a quick read so would be ideal for escapism as well.

Reviewed by:
Kelly Klepfer

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Ron Pridmore's Templeton Turtle Goes Exploring ~ Reviewed

Templeton Turtle Goes Exploring
By Ron Pridmore
Bridgeway Books
ISBN 978-1-934454-21-3


When Templeton Turtle hatches from his egg, he can't wait to start exploring on his own and making new friends. But as he explores the big pond, Templeton realizes that not all the animals are friendly, and some can be scary! Then, when Mr. Blue rescues him from being trampled and returns him safely to his mother, Templeton learns that the animals around the pond take care of one another, no matter what their differences are.

Join Templeton Turtle in this heartwarming story as he embarks on his first adventure, makes new friends, and shows children the importance of community in this beautifully illustrated book.


This book is about a turtle who is exploring the forest. He just hatched from an egg, and he wants to go make some friends. He meets a blue heron, a snake, a frog, and a pack of raccoons. I like this book especially because in the end the animals are nice to each other and take care of each other.

Review by Meg A. age 9

Monday, December 08, 2008

Amber Miller's Quills and Promises ~ Reviewed

Quills and Promises (Delaware Brides Series #2)
by Amber Miller
Mass Market Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc (May 28, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 160260049X

Book Description:

Innocence paired with wisdom beyond her years. With these traits, Elanna Hanssen unwittingly captures the attentions of Major Madison Scott. Her honest desire to understand the war fascinates him, and he resolves to get to know this perspicacious young lady better. When his military duty separates them, they begin a correspondence, cautiously baring their hearts to each other. Elanna has never known emotions like this before, but she is drawn to the integrity she sees in her major. Wh a local news reporter questions the major's credentials and activities, however, will she allow her heart or her head to rule? Can true love grow over such distance and around such obstacles?

My Review:

Quills and Promises is everything a historical romance should be! Amber Miller has once again created a believable look back to the time when the French and Indian War was raging, and colonists had to learn a better and more successful way to fight. Just before the battle really begins to wage hot, Major Madison Scott is introduced to his cousin’s friend Elanna Hanssen. The two begin a series of letters, and throughout the war both Madison and Elanna come to care a great deal for each other.

But separation has its disadvantages, and Elanna must battle conflicting reports regarding her Major’s role in the developing war. Continuously concerned for his safety and having to primarily depend on others for her news, Elanna finds herself facing some uncomfortable decisions. Encouraged by her mother, she turns to the Lord for wisdom, and as always, His answer is always right and timely! Both Elanna and Major Scott are characters that you learn to care a great deal about as you follow them through a very tumultuous time in our country.

I really appreciate Amber’s accuracy as she portrays this fascinating time in our country’s history! I think it is wise for all of us to look back and remember the trials our country faced in its early years. Although Elanna and Madison’s story is fictional, I feel it is an accurate portrayal of those whose lives were affected by this war. Quills and Promises is the second book of the Delaware Dawning trilogy.

Reviewed by: Kim Ford

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Brandilyn Collins' Dark Pursuit ~ Reviewed

Dark Pursuit
by Brandilyn Collins
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (December 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 031027642X


A new stand-alone “Seatbelt Suspense™” from bestselling author Brandilyn Collins.
Kaitlan Sering’s estranged grandfather, novelist Darell Brooke, was the legendary King of Suspense—until an auto accident left him unable to concentrate. Now she’s begging him to protect her from a real serial killer. Can his muddled mind devise a plan to catch the murderer?

Read the first chapter here.

My Review:

Brandilyn Collins continues to produce multi-dimensional characters and some seriously amped up plots. Every one of her books ends up being my newest favorite Collin's title. Dark Pursuit is no exception.

Her protagonist is a broken man with a broken brain. His granddaughter desperately needs his help. But will he stay awake long enough, will he stay coherent enough to help save her life, or will he hasten her death?

Enough twists and turns will keep readers flipping pages late into the night. Sympathetic characters pull at reader emotions. Fear and horror will keep the Big Honken Chickens' feathers ruffled. Murder, mystery, intertwining stories, power, control and the unknown -- sound intriguing? Oh yeah. Great read from a masterful story teller.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Linore Rose Burkard's Before the Season Ends ~ Reviewed

Before the Season Ends (A Regency Inspirational Romance) (Paperback)
by Linore Rose Burkard
Paperback: 348 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (December 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736925511

In her debut novel of what she calls “spirited romance for the Jane Austen soul,” author Linore Rose Burkard tells the intriguing story of Miss Ariana Forsythe, a young woman caught between her love for a man who doesn’t share her faith and her resolution to marry only a fellow believer in Christ.

Trouble at home sends the young woman to her aunt’s townhome in the fashionable Mayfair district of London. There she finds worse troubles than those that prompted her flight from home. Ariana is soon neck-deep in high society and at odds with Mr. Phillip Mornay, London’s current darling rogue. Then a scandal changes Ariana forever. Her heart, her faith, and her future are all at stake in an unexpected adventure that gains even the Prince Regent’s attention.

Will Ariana’s faith survive this test? And what about her heart? For it’s Ariana’s heart that most threatens to betray the truths she has always believed in. When she finds herself backed against a wall, betrothed to the wrong man, how can it ever turn out right?

Without giving away any surprises, I will say the ending satisfies the reader, as does the rest of Before the Season Ends. If you enjoy all the intricacies and frills of the Regency period, then this is the book for you. I’ll personally have to admit that it’s been awhile since I’ve read in this time period, so I was grateful to Burkard for adding a glossary of terms. Even better, she includes pronunciation for some words I’ve often wondered about.

But I digress…let’s get back to the story. Mr. Mornay is the handsome brooding male hero that every woman wants to get their hands on, and so does the reader. He’s hinted about by other characters so often that I couldn’t wait to meet him myself. By not introducing him until well into the novel, Burkard does a great job of making him even more mysterious and attractive. It’s well worth the wait, however. Mr. Philip Mornay is positively Darcy-esque in many respects.

Good thing the heroine, Ariana, maintains a strong faith throughout. She continually puts her trust in God and completely nails the gospel message not only for Mornay, but for the reader as well.

In true Austen fashion, there are quirky eccentrics, snooty aristocrats, and down-to-earth sensible characters. All in all, Before the Season Ends is a delightful read. I’m looking forward to the sequel, The House in Grosvenor Square, due out in April 2009.

Reviewed by: Michelle Griep

Bonus Review:

Let me first say that I've never read a Jane Austin book and was totally taken by the story which was set in 1813, Chesterton, England, where nineteen year old Ariana was off to her Aunt's house for an opportunity of a life time. She's never met her Aunt so this was awkward to say the least. Aunt Bentley was excited about her mission to find Ariana the best husband her city had to offer. She is totally thrilled to set up her niece's social calendar for the season of her "coming out".

I was totally floored by all the "Rules" upper society had. Amazed at how Mrs. Bentley knew all these rules along with just the right style of clothes to be worn at every occassion; to present a good impression for a successful coming out party. Ariana saw how thrilled her Aunt was with this whole process. She wasn't as excited, as a matter of fact this process was making her head spin (mine too) with all the rules, types of clothes to be seen in and which accessories (like gloves) had to be worn at certain parties. All these rules just made me laugh out loud.

Ariana was sure her parents didn't know how serious all this was? Ariana couldn't believe how much money her Aunt was spending on her -- it just didn't seem right. Would there be money left over for her sisters coming out party? Maybe some of this money could be given to the poor. She just didn't feel right about all the expense and attention.

She was determined to honor her Aunt even though her parents said Mrs. Bentley was a high society heathen. Maybe in the process of obeying her Aunt she could show the love of Christ is a special way. Ariana wanted to tell her Aunt that having a personal relationship with Christ was so much more important than following a bunch of religious rules, like she does in these high society parties. She prayed for this opportunity.

Ariana didn't think like woman her age. In Ariana's way of thinking, a personal relationship with Christ was the most important quality in a husband! Period. The end. She didn't want a man just to have one. Her Aunt thought this line of thinking was judgmental and ridiculous. I soon found myself cheering for Ariana.

I was captivated, enchanted and educated all at the same time as I read this book. I even chuckled at societies silliness -- it was great! It fascinated me! I haven't read anything quite like it. I can't wait to see what Linore writes next!.

Reviewed by: Nora St. Laurent

Monday, December 01, 2008

ACFW December Book Releases

There is nothing like the holiday season to cause a mixture of joy and stress and the need for that take-me-away feeling only found in a good story. This month we've got six new releases to choose from designed to do just that!

Also, don't forget to check out my new Spotlight on author Siri Mitchell.

1. A Promise for Spring by Kim Vogel Sawyer from Bethany House. Can their promise of love survive more than just years of separation?

2. Before the Season Ends by Linore Rose Burkard from Havest House Publishers. A heroine who embodies "Principles" meets the man who is all "Pride." What happens when they clash in Regency London makes adventurous innocence well worth reading!

3. Deceptive Promises, Delaware Brides, book 3 by Amber Miller from Barbour/Heartsong Presents. Living during the American Revolution, Margret Scott gets involved with a spy and a life of deception that could endanger herself, her family, and the man she loves.

4. Flashover by Dana Mentink from Steeple Hill. Ivy Beria's life explodes when arson robs her of her job and the man who set it hunts her down.

5. Missouri Brides by Mildred Colvin from Barbour Publishing. Three women tied together by family find true love on the Missouri prairie of the 1800s.

6. The Owling, Shadowside Series - Book 2 by Robert Elmer from Zondervan. Life gets even more confusing for fifteen-year-old Oriannon when her former music mentor, Jesmet, miraculously returns from the dead and promises his students a special power called Numa.

Happy reading ~

Friday, November 28, 2008

Alton Gansky's Enoch ~ Reviewed

Enoch (Paperback)
by Alton Gansky
Paperback: 307 pages
Publisher: Realms (October 2, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 159979344X

Book Description:

An unusual message is popping up in unexpected places around the world--in radio commercials, movies, TV shows, even within the pages of the New York Times.

Believing that someone is playing an elaborate prank, FCC agent Gene Manford and FBI agent Katherine Roone begin an investigation. But nothing in their training has prepared them fo what they are about to encounter. Enoch will take you on a mind-bending, fast-paced journey tnrough a story of good versus evil.


Alton Gansky is an author with a unique and compelling voice. Those who have read his work are in for a superb treat with his latest release – Enoch! Time on earth is growing short, and God has decided to send a message to the world. The method, the world’s intricately interwoven communication systems. The voice, that of one who never died. The message, well, you’ll have to discover that for yourself!

This story begins with a rapid introduction of a rather eclectic group of characters. As events unfold the characters’ roles become defined and a very suspenseful and other-worldly struggle begins to reveal itself. The messenger is following God’s plan as it is revealed, and along the way he picks up a very unlikely side-kick, Eddie Feely. The FBI teams up with the FCC, while a New-Age leader unwillingly teams up with the reality of her once imagined spirit guide. The plot moves at an ever-increasing pace, and before you know it, you are deep into the story and holding your breath to see what happens next!!

I imagine Mr. Gansky is used to folks taking him to task over his creation of extra-biblical actions of Biblical characters. (in this case a prophet) Just remember folks, this is fiction. Mr. Gansky is simply exploring the “what if” behind God using our world-wide communications systems to give earth’s inhabitants a final head’s up about the Gospel message that was sent so long ago. He also explores mankind’s reaction to this message through some very realistic avenues that allows the reader to realize anew that without Christ human depravity knows no bounds.

I really enjoyed this story! It was different, it was suspenseful, it was a story that grabbed you and didn’t let go. I LIKE that!! For those who enjoy a thrill ride with a true and thought-provoking message, I highly recommend Enoch!!

Reviewed by: Kim Ford

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Kathleen Y'Barbo's Beloved Captive ~ Reviewed

Beloved Captive: Fairweather Keys Series #2 (Truly Yours Romance Club #28)
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc (November 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602602301

Book Description:

In this sequel to Beloved Castaway, Emilie Gayarre is learning to accept her mixed race heritage while finding fulfillment in teaching children of the key. There is no denying the attraction between Emilie and the handsome young naval commander, Caleb Spencer, who is shadowed by his own flock of secrets. But if her heritage is found out, even greater things than his career are at risk. Enjoy this historical romance full of risk and redemption.

To read the first chapter, click here.

My Review:

Pirates, pistols, preachers and teachers! Ships, cannons, remote islands and secrets!

Oh, dear reader, if you want to be transported into the tropical world of the Atlantic during the early 1800’s, then Kathleen Y’Barbo is an author you need to become acquainted with immediately! Beloved Captive actually continues a story that began in Beloved Castaway, but there is sufficient back-story to allow you to enjoy every moment of this story! You will be swept up into the world of Emilie Gayarre and a life filled with well-kept secrets, misguided intentions and a longing to make sense of it all!

Emilie’s journey from her teaching post on the island of Fairweather Key to see her dying father sets off a series of events that will leave her life forever changed. During her journey, Emilie learns the truth about events from her childhood and the high price that many paid in order to keep those facts hidden. Emilie also learns the liberty found only in forgiveness and faithfulness to God, and she is able to leave her father’s home with renewed hope of promises yet to be fulfilled.

What Emilie never could have imagined was that her return journey would be treacherously interrupted by pirates! As she fights for survival, her actions result in the death of two men. By the time she finally returns home to Fairweather Key, she is plagued by nightmares and is begging God for mercy and forgiveness.

The Lord not only hears Emilie’s prayers, but the prayers of those with whom she shares her island home, and He answers them in the most unusual and amazing ways! When the new judge is appointed to Fairweather Key, life once again takes a few unexpected and exciting turns and Emilie is forced to rise up and defend herself. However, this time it is her heart that is in danger!

Oh, you do not want to miss these books! Beloved Castaway and Beloved Captive would make a terrific gift for the reader on your list this year! I know I will be looking forward to enjoying more of Kathleen Y’Barbo’s work! What’s not to love? Her last name even sounds like a pirate! I love it!!

Reviewed by: Kimberly Ford

Monday, November 24, 2008

Steven James' The Rook ~ Reviewed

The Rook (The Patrick Bowers Files, Book 2) (Paperback)
by Steven James
Paperback: 496 pages
Publisher: Revell (August 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0800732693

Product Description:

An arsonist has struck a top-secret research facility at a key US naval base. But it's not just a random terrorist attack. These people were after something specific. When Special Agent Patrick Bowers is called in to investigate, he is drawn into a deadly web of intrigue and deception. With his own criminology research being turned against him and one of the world's most deadly devices missing, Bowers is caught up in a race against time to stop an international assassin before it's too late. Full of fast-paced action and mind-bending plot twists, The Rook is an adrenaline-laced page-turner that will keep readers up all night. Book 2 in the Bowers Files, this riveting look into the criminal mind is the perfect follow-up to James's well-reviewed The Pawn.

My Review:

Steven James has a new fan. Without meeting Patrick Bowers and his unique family situation in The Pawn, I can assure you that I will be slamming it in reverse and picking up The Pawn as soon as I can. I loved so many things about The Rook. Deeply drawn and realistic characters. Issues beyond the horror of the crimes and the tense time frames involved, issues that are faced by a lot of readers. The investigative details were thoughtful and detailed without going-on-and-on over technical details that don't matter to the overall story. Plenty of sarcastic comments and humor are laced throughout.

The only people who might not want to go there are the squeamish, we are dealing with bad, bad guys, those bothered by kidnapping and unfolding clock's-a-ticking suspense, and those who want very clear gospel spelled out in the books produced by Christian fiction houses. Those who love good stories, crime novels, drama, tension, action, great characters and all around meaty reads need to look further into the Patrick Bowers series.

Reviewed by:
Kelly Klepfer

Friday, November 21, 2008

Baldwin and Tabbs' The Death and Life and Gabriel Phillips ~ Reviewed

The Death and Life of Gabriel Phillips
by Stephen Baldwin & Mark Tabb
Published by Faith Words
ISBN# 978-0-446-19699-4
298 pages

To read the first chapter click here.

Back Cover: How do you make sense of a senseless death? How do you reconcile an unjust loss? Where do you find peace? Two men travel different paths but arrive at the same destination in The Death and Life of Gabriel Phillips.

When Officer Andy Myers arrives at the scene of a routine call, he isn't expecting to find Gabriel Phillips lying in a pool of blood – particularly since he knows the little boy. Equally distressing, the boy's tranquil father standing watch over his son's body gives Myers an eerie sense of foreboding. He has never seen a man respond to a death – particularly the death of one's child – in such a way.

John Phillips, steadfastly maintaining his innocence, is sentenced to death. He chooses not to fight and embraces his impending death as God's will. Myers becomes consumed with the case, confused by this man's mystifying beliefs and behaviors. Conviction is not enough – Andy wants a confession and won't rest until he understands what sins cost Gabriel his life. What follows is the story of an unlikely bond between these two men and the difficult choices and sacrifices each one must make.

REVIEW: I loved the style in which this book was written. Let me give you a little sample of Stephen and Marks opening page... "Andy Myers didn't want children…Period. Case closed… You would think someone so adamant about not reproducing would have gone out and had a vasectomy, but Andy didn't think that way." And so it goes. The story of Andy Myers drew me in as his son describes him in this story, what he went through in his life and how he met Gabriel Phillips - who was an 8 year old boy!! Remember Andy hated children, but this kid gets under his skin!

Andy Myers thought differently about many things and you discover that throughout the course of this book. For example, the night Andy responded to a call for help and he discovers Gabriel Phillips' body on the floor. The only logical explanation was that the kid was murdered. No one falls out of bed and dies - not with that much blood.

Andy soon makes it his mission in life to see that the killer of Gabriel Phillips is found and convicted. Not only that, but Andy wants a confession. This consumes his every waking moment of life. This story clearly shows what revenge and unforgiveness can cost you in the long run. The one thing that Andy Myers couldn't shake about John Phillips (Gabriel's father) was the peace this man had. Where did that come from? This guy was faking being a born again Christian Andy just knew it. Andy was all torn up inside and out, and this wasn't even his kid. He didn't like kids. Andy couldn't get past any of this.

Reader beware!! I truly was engaged in this powerful story, but I was uncomfortable by all the cursing in this book. Yes, they were police officers doing their work, and I'm sure they talk like this in real life, but it made me uncomfortable reading the words. It's not what I'm accustom to reading. After all, these cops are in the trenches of life at it's worst. I understand that and you will too when you read this story so I could put up with the curse words. This is a story of hope for the hopeless and peace for the oppressed. It helps explain what the "peace that passes all understand" is, the bible talks about. This peace only comes from our heavenly father. I think the authors do a good job in showing how this happens to a few characters in this story. This book also shows our criminal system and how fast things can go from bad to worse; how people can get stuck in the maze of stuff so far, they can't see out.

This is Stephen Baldwin's first fiction book with Mark Tabb. I surely hope it won't be his last. Stephen Baldwin wrote a non-fiction book before this called "The Unusual Suspect" that looks good. I was pleasantly surprised and very moved by this story, and you will be too.

Reviewed by:
Nora St. Laurent – Book Club Servant Leader

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Patti Hill's The Queen of Sleepy Eye ~ Reviewed

The Queen of Sleepy Eye
by Patti Hill
B & H Publishers
408 Pages

Back Cover:

It's the summer of 1975, and sensible seventeen-year-old Amy Monteiro longs for the freedom of college life in California. But when her mom's beloved 1958 Pontiac Bonneville Sports Coupe surrenders to a mortally wounded transmission in Colorado, it doesn't take long for Amy to realize that her insufferable, tiara-toting mom, Francie - former queen of the Sleepy Eye Corn Festival - is out of money and in
no hurry to let go of her daughter.

In a time of great change, and in this small Colorado town, Amy will find herself caught up in the struggle between the past and present, young and old, geeks and jocks, hippies and the establishment, even life and death. And during this one unforgettable summer, both mother and daughter will grow up.


Amy is finally breaking free from her mother, or so she thinks, as they are in route to college in California. Amy is excited about their trip and can't be free of her mother,Francine fast enough.

But, Francine wants to hang on to Amy as long as she can. Amy and Francie hit a major bump in the road when their 1958 Pontiac Bonneville breaks down in Cordial, Colorado. They are side tracked from their main mission as they wait on a car part that needs to be ordered; it might take over a week. Amy is crushed, but Francine looks at this as another adventure. Francie soon makes friends with Bonnie, who tells her of a job opportunity they can take advantage of while they wait on their car to be repaired. The opportunity can include both mother and daughter. They can be caretakers at a funeral home, with free room and board. Amy is definitely creeped out, but Francie looks at this as a way of saving money to pay for the car repair.

Amy now feels stuck and she doesn't have the funds to leave for California on her own. Her mother has embraced this small town and it's beginning to look like Francine might never leave. Amy begins to look at her mother in a new light, and she doesn't like what she sees. Her mother has always been fun and a little bit different than all the other moms - now she realizes why. There had always been a divide between Amy and her mom - especially when Amy became a born again Christian. Her mom wanted no part of it, but Amy still sought out ways to witness to her.

Amy and Francine grow up through the unexpected situations they were faced with. Amy discovers she really didn't have the unconditional Love of Christ inside her heart, but judgment. It's a hard lesson to learn. Francine realizes she is the mother in this relationship and needs to start acting like it. She needs to look out for what is best for her daughter Amy.

This is definitely a story of discovery, love and maturity. A mother daughter story and so much more. You will definably have to check it out.

Reviewed by: Nora St. Laurent - Book Club Servant Leader

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Alice Wisler's Rain Song ~ Reviewed

Rain Song by
Alice J. Wisler
Paperback:304 pages
Publisher:Bethany House (October 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0764204777


Nicole Michelin avoids airplanes, motorcycles, and most of all, Japan, where her parents once were missionaries. Something happened in Japan...something that sent Nicole and her father back to America alone...something of which Nicole knows only bits and pieces. But she is content with life in little Mount Olive, North Carolina, with her quirky relatives, tank of lively fish, and plenty of homemade pineapple chutney. Through her online column for the Pretty Fishy Web site, she meets Harrison Michaels, who, much to her dismay, lives in Japan. She attempts to avoid him, but his emails tug at her heart. Then Harrison reveals that he knew her as a child in Japan. In fact, he knows more about her childhood than she does.


“Don’t miss the adventure.” (p. 251)

Rain Song is a story about Nicole Michelin and her search for the missing memories of her mother before tragedy took her from life. Nicole is also searching for understanding about her father’s withdrawal from a full life as a physician and medical missionary into the dark world of alcoholism and depression. Although Nicole’s life is filled to the brim with loving relationships in the warm Southern town of Mount Olive, North Carolina, there are still empty places in her heart and mind left behind by events that took place a world away.

The world isn’t as vast as it used to be though, and a reader’s response to Nicole’s article on the Pretty Fishy website finds its way into her email box and sets off a series of correspondence that ultimately changes Nicole’s life. As she begins to talk with Harrison Michaels via cyberspace, Nicole discovers that there are still those from her early life who can answer the lingering questions from her past. However, the effort to uncover those answers means stepping outside the comfort of her close-knit family and predictable routine. Nurtured and encouraged by a wise and loving grandmother, Nicole is finally able to embark upon her own adventure. What she discovers beyond the familiarity of Mount Olive, North Carolina are the missing pieces of her memory and the beauty that has always lain dormant within her heart.

Alice Wisler tells this story of Rain Song in the slow, deliberate style of Southern tradition. Along the way, you will come to love Nicole’s eclectic family and you will cheer her as she makes her very cautious discoveries. I look forward to more beautiful stories from this very talented writer!

Reviewed by: Kim Ford

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Robin Jones Gunn's Engaging Father Christmas ~ Reviewed

Engaging Father Christmas
By Robin Jones Gunn
Published by FaithWords
ISBN-10: 0-446-17946-9


Miranda Carlson can't wait to return to England to spend Christmas with her boyfriend, Ian. She has spent a lifetime yearning for a place to call home, and she's sure Carlton Hall will be it, especially when hints of engagement fill the air.

But Miranda's high hopes for a jolly Christmas are toppled when Ian's father is hospitalized and the matriarch of the Whitcombe family refuses to bless Miranda and Ian's relationship. How can Miranda ever find a place to belong in this cheery corner of the world? When family secrets threaten all her relationships in unanticipated ways, Miranda is certain all is lost.

And yet ... as Miranda searches for love, she finds the promise of so much more in the arms of a certain Father Christmas. Perhaps this holiday has special gifts in store for her after all.


Warm and engaging only begin to describe characters Robin Jones Gunn brings to life on the pages of this book. The setting, a cozy corner of England, adds a subtext of tradition to the tale. Engaging Father Christmas is a story of love, redemption, and finding home—perfect for giving to all the readers on your list this year. Novel Reviews and I give it a high recommendation.

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Nancy Moser's John 3:16 ~ Reviewed

John 3:16
By Nancy Moser
Published by Tyndale Publishing
ISBN# 978-1-4143-2054-0
410 Pages

Back Cover: When a Fatal Tragedy hits a college town, a string of events brings together a group of desperate people, each looking for a reason to keep living.

A father spiraling into depression, a dating couple faced with an unwanted pregnancy, a professional fired in an ethical scandal, estranged lovers confronted with the child they abandoned twenty-three years ago.

As these lives intersect on a bright fall day, one of them will hold up a sign at a football game with a short message: John 3:16. This simple act of faith will have the power to change lives forever.


"We don't know what the future holds but we know who holds the future". I've been a Christian for awhile now, and had forgotten so many of the special moments and hard decisions that I had to make once I gave my life completely over to the Lord. It may sound funny sometimes when I try to explain my decision to surrender control of my life and give it over to the Master but I have no regrets. Please don't judge Nancy's book by its cover; this story is so much more intriguing than what you seen on the outside.

Nancy Moser quickly engaged me in this story of different people living life large and on their own terms. Nancy follows the lives of several people: William, who is a football player for the small town; Carrie, who is William Paulson's girlfriend; Maya Morano, who is out to be the number one sells person in her company at all costs; Maya's husband Sal, who loves his wife with all his life; Roman Paulson, Maya's boss and William's father, John Gillingham, a bestselling author and Velvet, his long lost love; Lianne Skala who finds herself with an unexpected pregnancy; Peter McLean, who is going to college because his parents hope he will take over the family's farm when he graduates. Everyone in this town is going about business as usual, until there is a fatal tragedy that affects everyone. People in that town start to think about what's important in life for the very first time. It may seem hokey to some about but how Nancy Moser describes the situation of how ONE person's life reaches so many, it made you think - I really believe we don't know how our lives affect others around us. Look how the life of Jesus affected the people back then and how He is still affecting people today.

It was good to be reminded of the meaning behind John 3:16 and how the characters lives are affected by that one simple, but powerful verse. Not everyone in that town is very excited to hear the message behind John 3:16 and Nancy shows that. Not everyone jumps up and down for joy because you became or are a follower of Jesus!! We are all called to do our part – to be a planter of the seed. It's God's job to water the seed until it ripens for the picking. I love how one of the characters reacts after hearing the message of the John 3:16, she says "You're talking mumbo jumbo…like it's magic. What do I have to do, say it 3 times while standing on my head and my life will be perfect?...Give me a break."

Nancy Moser's message is honest, sensitive, funny and entertaining. It's a great way to talk about our faith without being pushy. It's a great reminder (especially in these uncertain times – when everyone is filled with fear ) of who holds our future; no matter what we struggle with!

I have to tell you that some sections of this book cracked me up and reminded me of the movie "Evan Almighty". Remember when God was trying to get Evan's attention and get him to start building the ark? It seemed that everywhere Evan went, his eyes were opened to the signs and he could see things clearly for the first time. It was so funny!! Nancy has God nudgings in her book as well. It was great! It's comforting to know that God is at work around us whether we see him or not!

Christian or not, you will enjoy this story which talks about peoples' lives and the decisions they make that affect themselves and those around them. You will see how one life has affected so many. This ONE person gathered all the love notes that God sent him each day (not only in the bible, but in the beauty he saw around him) and passed that love on to others. It's a great comfort, reminder and story!!
Don't pass it up!!

Reviewed by: Nora St. Laurent – Book Club Servant Leader

Monday, November 10, 2008

Shaffer and Barrows' The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society ~ Reviewed

by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Published by The Dial Press
278 Pages

Back Cover:

January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she'd never met, a native of Guernsey, the British Island once occupied by the Nazis. He'd come across her name on the flyleaf of a secondhand volume by Charles Lamb. Perhaps she could tell him where he might find more books by this author.

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, she is drawn into the world of this man and his friends, all members of the Guernsey Literary and
Potato Peel Pie Society, a unique book club formed in a unique, spur-of-the- moment from arrest by the Germans.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the Society's charming, deeply human members, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all. Through their letters she learns about their island, their taste in books, and the powerful, transformative impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds there will change her forever.


One of the ladies in my book club gave me this book to read.

I'm so glad that she did. I haven't read a book quite like this one before. The story was put together with letters written by many different characters in the story. Once I got into the rhythm of this book I found it most amusing, very informative, funny and in some places quite fascinating.

I'm not a history buff and found the letters from this time period interesting and horrific at the same time. Because the letters were so personal, you could actually get the feel of what they went through back then in the concentration camps, as well as what everyone was doing outside the camps. I wanted to share a few funny comments from the book "Reading good books spoils you for enjoying the bad ones." and "Men are more interesting in books than in real life." This is just a peek into this amusing, informative story.

I thought it was quite clever the reason the literary guild first started meeting. They had curfews and very little entertainment. I don't think any of them expected this group to amount to much. But it became their haven of rest and the hope they needed to make it through a pretty bleak existence.

The main character of the book is Juliet Ashton, is a writer who wrote
a weekly column for the "Spectator" during the war. Stephen and Stark Publishing published all her articles and called them "Izzy Bickerstaff Goes To War". It became an unexpected hit! Now Juliet was in search of her next book. It's interesting how the "The Guernsey Literary and Potato PeelPie Society" began and what they talked about at their meetings. The group consisted of men and women that attended their meetings and everyone talked about the different books they each had read that past month. You will be intrigued about the diversity of people that came to the meetings and the stories that they have to tell. I was really tickled by Juliet Ashton and her search for the topic of her next book and her editor/publisher Sidney. Sidney and Sophie are good friends that gently push Juliet to search her heart and go after her next story no matter where it took her. So Juliet follows her heart, and dug up as much research she could on this literary society. Again this book has things in it I just loved: books, book clubs and the people that are involved with them. I thought the authors, Mary Ann and Annie, did an amazing job of showing me some of the history during this time period - things that I wouldn't normally choose to read on my own. You will laugh, you will cry and you will be inspired by the unique ways this community comforted and encouraged one another during such difficult, almost impossible, times.

I want to leave you with one of the sayings from this book that really struck me - "That's what I love about reading: one thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will led you onto another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It's geometrically progressive - all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment." Reader beware!! That is true with this book as well! There are so many things I want to know more about because I read this book, and you will too. It's a keeper!!

Reviewed by
: Nora St. Laurent - Book Club servant Leader

Bonus Review:

Recommended by a friend who reads as much as I do, I opened the pages of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society not sure if I would like it. I mean a book full of letters? What a delightful surprise I received.

Shaffer's tongue-in-cheek humor and engaging style had me enthralled from the first page. I felt as though I was reading over Julia's shoulder, falling in love with the residents of Guernsey, characters each and every one. How utterly disappointing they only live on the pages of this book.

Sadly, Mary Ann Shaffer's health declined rapidly and her niece, Annie Barrows, author of the children's series Ivy and Bean, completed the novel seamlessly for her aunt. Although Shaffer only wrote one novel, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is top notch and should be around delighting readers for years to come. Novel Reviews and I give it our highest recommendation. It's a 5-star, absolute must-read.

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan

By Ane Mulligan