Thursday, March 27, 2008

J.M. Windle's Betrayed ~ Reviewed

Published by: Tyndale House Publishing, Inc.
Pages 365

Back Cover:

Fires smolder endlessly blow the dangerous surface of Guatemala City’s municipal dump. Deadlier fires see the beneath the tenuous calm of a nation recovering from brutal civil war. Anthropologist Vicki Andrews is researching Guatemala’s “garbage people” when she stumbles across a human body. Curiosity turns to horror as she uncovers no stranger, but an American environmentalist and Vicki’s only sister, Holly.

With authorities dismissing the death as another street crime, Vicki begins tracing Holly’s last steps, a pilgrimage leading from slum squalor to the breathtaking and endangered cloud forests of the Sierra de las Minas biosphere. But every unraveled thread raises more questions. What betrayal connects Holly’s murder, the recent massacre of a Mayan village and the long-ago deaths of Vicki’s own parents?

Nor is Vicki the only one demanding answers. Before her pilgrimage reaches its startling end, the conflagration has spilled across international borders to threaten an American administration and the current war on terror. With no one turning out to be who they’d seemed, who can Vicki trust and who should she fear?

A politically relevant tale of international intrigue and God’s redemptive beauty and hope.


Jeanette gives you quite an insightful view of Guatemala City’s internal government structure and how life works for them over there. She weaves quite a suspenseful story that involves many big players such as the CIA, Guatemalan police and the American Embassy to name just a few. Who are the good guys? Is there a bad guy? If so who? Who killed Vicki’s sister Holly? Where? Why? Vicki needed the answers to these questions.

Vicki didn’t know who to trust – she suspects everyone is corrupt – the rules are so different in Guatemala City. Vicki soon realizes that being an “American Citizen” means nothing in Guatemala. The longer Vicki stays in this country she sees firsthand how no one has any rights, villages are raided, people tortured and killed no police are called to help the victims, nothing is done about any of these events it’s just chalked up to “street crime”. Vicki soon discovers that she is in the heart of a Guerilla warfare area and there is a secret about the Sierra de las Mines Biosphere!! What was it? And why was this a area restricted? Vicki couldn’t stand it any longer she had to do something. This was just not right. Her sister along with others had been murdered. She would get to the bottom of this matter or die trying. Who can she turn to? She wants justice for all; but How???

In the middle of her dilemma Vicki comes to the realization that this life isn’t our real destination or real home. “In fact, it’s just the start. More like boot camp, you might say from the point of view of eternity…After all, we were never called to save the whole world, just our part!”. I say Amen to that!!

I also loved it when Vicki says this prayer in the middle of craziness that went like this “God, I can’t run your universe or fix it all. Forgive me for being arrogant enough to even think it’s my job. All you call me to do is my part… Do what is right and do not give way to fear.” It’s a powerful message – a powerful book!!!

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Michael Palmer's The First Patient ~ Reviewed

The First Patient
Michael Palmer
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (February 19, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312343531

Cover Copy: From the blockbuster, New York Times bestselling author comes a high-concept, high-octane thriller at the crossroads of presidential politics and cutting-edge medicine. . . .Gabe Singleton and Andrew Stoddard were roommates at the Naval Academy in Annapolis years ago. Today, Gabe is a country doctor and his friend Andrew has gone from war hero to governor to President of the United States. One day, while the United States is embroiled in a bitter presidential election campaign, Marine One lands on Gabe's Wyoming ranch, and President Stoddard delivers a disturbing revelation and a startling request. His personal physician has suddenly and mysteriously disappeared, and he desperately needs Gabe to take the man's place. Despite serious misgivings, Gabe agrees to come to Washington. It is not until he is ensconced in the White House medical office that Gabe realizes there is strong evidence that the President is going insane. Facing a crisis of conscience-as President Stoddard's physician, he has the power to invoke the Twenty-fifth Amendment to transfer presidential power to the Vice President-Gabe uncovers increasing evidence that his friend's condition may not be due to natural causes. Who? Why? And how?

The President's life is at stake. A small-town doctor suddenly finds himself in the most powerful position on earth, and the safety of the world is in jeopardy. Gabe Singleton must find the answers, and the clock is ticking. . . .With Michael Palmer's trademark medical details, and steeped in meticulous political insider knowledge, The First Patient is an unforgettable story of suspense.

My Review:

Michael Palmer investigates and develops a horrifying and electrifying plot in The First Patient.

Though this is my first Michael Palmer novel, and though I am not a huge fan of political fiction, I found myself turning pages like mad and losing sleep. I developed the “one more chapter” syndrome a hundred or so pages into the 350+ page plus novel.

The strengths in this story are the intriguing plot and the behind the scenes “sneak” into the most powerful office in the United States. Palmer's medical knowledge made it more interesting to me, however, I tend to love medical thrillers since my day job is in a clinic.

The weaknesses within The First Patient were in the too quick romantic interest for Gabe, a slower beginning, and a slightly rushed conclusion. I did guess the most evil of all evil characters and I'm not usually great at uncovering clues, so there may have been a red herring issue that didn't ring true for me. If you usually guess correctly, you may find that true for you also.

If you love thrillers with a bit of romance and a lot of peril, you might want to look further into The First Patient. Sensitive souls may want to opt out because there is a horror element and a seriously nasty secret life for one of the characters. If you are a Palmer fan, I'm sure you won't be disappointed.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Monday, March 24, 2008

Camy Tang's Only Uni ~ Reviewed

Only Uni
Camy Tang
Paperback: 367 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (March 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310273994

Camy Tang has risen to a challenge and conquered. Trish is one of the quad of "oldest single cousins" in a family run by an iron fisted/velvet gloved grandma. Camy's challenge? To make Trish a lovable character.

I'll admit, the first couple of chapters didn't win me over. The poor girl is her own worst enemy. I struggled with her faith walk that sure didn't include a whole lot of walking the talk. Trish is a lot like a huge crowd of Christians, the ones who feast on cheap grace and anything the world serves up as long as it looks really tasty.

But, by the end of the book I quit wanting to slap Trish and started wanting to hug her. I even teared up.

Now I can't wait for book three. The first chapter is included at the end of Only Uni and the focus will be "tell it like it is" Venus. I love this crazy family. Don't forget to read the glossary, Camy even makes a cultural study fun. A blast for chick-lit lovers. Also a good one for those who have messed up on Christianity so many times they don't even know if they want to keep trying. Full of grace, forgiveness, sweetness and laughs.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Warning to parents: this book, though Christian, covers some heavy duty themes. Read it first or at least read more reviews before letting your daughters loose with it. There are consequences to actions, but some of the actions are pretty edgy if you are used to "gentler" Christian fiction.

Friday, March 21, 2008

J.M. Hochstetler's One Holy Night ~ Reviewed

One Holy Night
By J. M. Hochstetler
Published by Sheaf House
ISBN: 978-0-9797485-0-9

Back Cover:

As on that holy night so long ago ... in a world torn by sin and strife ... to a family that has suffered heart-wrenching loss ... there will be born a baby.

Frank McRae stared at the television screen, raw images of war exploding in his head long after the news had finally ended, replaced by an inane sitcom. The grainy black-and-white video of battle-weary troops slogging through the sodden rice paddies and shadowy jungles of Viet Nam ate away at his heart like sulfuric acid.

There was nothing left of his life now but the bitterness and the pain that were tearing him apart. The silence in this house that had once been a cherished home, rich with happiness and love, was deafening. Always another war. Always more purposeless killing, senseless dying, and fractured relationships that couldn't be put back together again. Where was God in all of this? What kind of God would tear from a man those dearest to him? The Bible spoke of a God of love and mercy, but for all Frank could tell, God remained indifferent to suffering. When one needed help the most, God turned his back. Surely the Bible was nothing but a hollow myth....

What Frank didn't know was that God had in mind a miracle. Once more, as on that holy night so long ago, a baby will be born and laid in a manger—a baby who will bring forgiveness, peace, and healing to a family that has suffered heart-wrenching loss.


Set in the sixties, One Holy Night offers so much more story than the title infers. Hochstetler's writing enables you to suspend disbelief and enter the 60's, that era of awakening from small-town innocence to the awareness all is not right with the world. The author is a master at building complex characters that will steal your heart. This poignant tale of forgiveness and healing is a far cry from predictable. And it definitely wasn't what I was expecting, but so much more.

It's a tale of Frank's family as they journey through sickness, unbelief and war. His son, Mike, struggles with not being there for his mom, Maggie, in her battle with cancer. Mike's letters from the battlefields in Viet Nam reveal some of war's stark reality. Big sister, Julie, shares her mother's faith along with her pastor husband, Dan, but despairs over her dad's lack and her brother's uncertainty.

The faith journey is a realistic one. I loved how Hochstetler portrays Julie questioning God. Too often writes give us plastic icons, bearers of strength and platitudes. Not so in One Holy Night. But how they deal with the hurt is something I could relate to. And isn't that what we want in inspirational fiction? I give One Holy Night a very high recommendation.

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Andrew Peterson's On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness ~ Reviewed

Title: On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness
Author: Andrew Peterson
Publisher: Waterbrook Press, 2008
ISBN - 10: 1400073847
13: 9781400073847
Genre: Children's fiction, Fantasy

It is night and in the distance Janner Igiby hears the sound of the Black Carriage. Will it turn into the lane of Igiby Cottage? Is it coming for him? The frightening words of a Skree nursery rhyme sing-song in his head:

“Lo, beyond the River Blapp

The Carriage comes, the Carriage Black…”

Welcome to the Igiby Cottage and Andrew Peterson’s fantasy novel On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness – a tale of danger, mystery, imagination, and humor.

The Igiby cottage, just outside the village of Glipwood in the land of Skree, is the home of 12-year-old Janner, 11-year-old Tink, their little sister Leeli, the chidren's mother Nia and ex-pirate grandfather Podo.

Though things really are cozy and safe enough in the Igiby’s home, the same can’t be said for Glipwood. Indeed, all of the land of Skree is under a shadow. Some years ago the Fangs of Dang – those creatures which would exactly resemble humans if it weren’t for their greenish scales, lizard snouts and fangs jutting from snarling mouths – conquered Skree. Now their menacing presence makes even a trip to Books and Crannies a perilous venture.

This night the Black Carriage never arrives and Janner finally gets back to sleep. He awakens to reassuring morning light and the happy thought that this is the best day of the whole year – the Dragon Day Festival.

Festival day in Glipwood goes just fine until sundown when the Glipfolk begin heading for the beach. Then Janner and Tink realize Leeli is missing. In the distance they hear her screams and find her at last in a back alley, cornered by two fangs. This is only the first of the children’s many encounters with these evil creatures which escalate finally to where even their snug little cottage is no longer safe.

I love the self-contained universe Peterson has created. It comes complete with its own calendar, plants (totatoes, sugarberries), creatures (toothy cows, horned dogs, ridgerunners), foods (maggot loaf, ratbadger tail salad), folklore, songs, history, even writers (Bahbert Pembrick, Rumpole Bloge and others – with quotes from their writings all footnoted as proof they really do exist).

The characters are colorful. Of the Igiby family we get to know Janner the best as we work with him through his struggles of growing up. Elegant Nia and short-fused Podo are also interesting and complex. Another intriguing player is Peet the Sock Man, who gets his twords all wisted, lives in a surprise-filled treehouse and wears socks on his hands. Of course the fangs are deliciously evil villains and as loathsome as a bad smell.

Peterson’s entertaining story-telling style recommends the book as an excellent read-aloud. The book contains several entire songs (Peterson, after all, is a lyricist in his day job), as well as maps and a couple of line drawings to make it an altogether convincing other-world adventure – not to speak of the sly and kid-friendly humor that brings on many a case of titters (booger gruel and snot wax candles indeed!).

But though the story is entertaining, the themes are serious. Good and evil thread through the book. Character development gets front page billing as Janner faces his selfishness, fear and jealousy. The children learn about loyalty, responsibility, respect, courage, forgiveness, and the importance of serving. And there is lots of scope to read a Narnia-style message into the characters and events.

Some of the questions about the world of Aeriwar, the jewels of Anniera, and the Igiby children’s father are answered by the end of book. But the loose ends that Peterson leaves ensure that readers old and young will eagerly anticipate Book 2 of The Wingfeather Saga. Book 1 – On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness – is due out mid-March.

Reviewed by Violet Nesdoly

Monday, March 17, 2008

David Athey's Danny Gospel ~ Reviewed

Danny Gospel
David Athey
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Bethany House (April 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0764204440
ISBN-13: 978-0764204449

Book Description:

Once he'd performed in his family's gospel band, but now most of his loved ones have passed on. Still known as "Danny Gospel," he is living a sedate, quiet life as a postman in a small Iowa town. Soon his tranquil existence is broken open by--a dream, a vision, a sign?--a beautiful woman he is sure is his "beloved." Logic and sense tucked safely out of harm's way, Danny launches a quest to find his true love. Always good-natured, he is a hero on a journey--dreaming impossible dreams and, no matter how much he must suffer, pursuing romance and heavenly glory.
But is his quest really for a vision of beauty--or is it a journey through pains too deep to name and emotions too raw to feel?

Reviewed by Gina Holmes

David Athey's, Danny Gospel is an amazing debut. This novel tells a story of a young man who loses his way, (and at times his mind), but never his faith. It's part coming of age, part adventure, part love story, part triumph and part tragedy.

Danny, with all his faults, remains an idealist and I believe readers will adore the character, seeing parts of themselves in him. I can't say I fully understood this book, but it utterly captivated me and spoke to my heart none the less.

This line from Danny Gospel sums up the theme of this wonderful novel:

That was a perfect moment in Paradise, and I was tempted to reach out and
grasp it with all my might and never let it go. But I wasn't about to fool
myself. This little island of Palm Beach in the Kingdom of Florida was not
really Heaven, not even close. And it would not last forever.

Danny Gospel is one of the most intriguing novels I've read to date. Mermaids, angels, peg-leg pirates, federal offenses and the promise of love and Heaven. . . what's not to like?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Rachel Hauck's Sweet Caroline ~ Reviewed

Sweet Caroline
Rachel Hauck
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (February 12, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595543376

Book Description:

When a Southern waitress inherits the Lowcountry cafe where she works, she suddenly has to balance more than just her next food order.

Caroline Sweeney has always done the right thing--the responsible, dependable thing--unlike her mother who abandoned her family. But when her best friend challenges her to accept an exciting job adventure in Barcelona, Spain, Caroline says "yes" to destiny.

Then, without warning, ownership of the run-down cafe where she's been waitressing falls right into Caroline's lap. While she's trying to determine the cafe's future, handsome Deputy Sherriff J.D. Rand captures Caroline's heart.

But when her first love, Mitch O'Neal, comes back to town, fresh from the heat of his newly-found fame as a country music singer in Nashville, Caroline must make some hard choices about love and the pursuit of the sweet life.

My Review:

Sweet read.

Hauck is an honest and engaging author who creates living, breathing blemished characters and who is quickly moving up on my favorite author list.

Chick-lit lovers, low country fans and quirky character collectors should find much to love in Caroline's journey throughout the pages of this novel.

I do hope that Sweet Caroline is just the beginning of a long, long series. There is another book in Caroline, at least one in Hazel and who knows how many in Elle.

Keep 'em coming, Rachel.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Mindy Starns Clark's Whispers of the Bayou ~ Reviewed

Whispers of the Bayou
Mindy Starns Clark
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (January 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736918795

Cover Copy:

From the author of the popular Million Dollar Mysteries and Smart Chick Mysteries comes a new stand-alone novel full of hidden staircases, buried secrets, and the promise of hope found in knowing God.

Miranda Miller wasn't looking for the news the day the letter came. But, trying to survive in troubled circumstances, she welcomes the chance to change her location for a period of time. The letter informs her that her grandparents' estate is finally about to become hers. She immediately heads down to Louisiana and the old house by the bayou. There Miranda finds secrets that lead to life-changing revelations.

This suspenseful story reminiscent of old Gothic tales has a complex mystery and a vivid sense of the Deep South. It shows how God can take the darkest circumstances and use them to light a bright path leading to the future.

My Review:

Miranda Miller has issues. The foremost is a dead mother and a distant father which together become a dismal shadow over her marriage and her relationship with her daughter. The mother/father issue shows itself as the tip of the iceberg of her life, most of which catches her by surprise, and some puts her in danger.

Told in first person point of view, Whispers fascinated me with obscure historical nuggets. Miranda's voice was easy to connect with, and the story contained layer upon layer of interconnectedness and some surprises. Borderline literary and sleepy southern story-telling added to the suspense. I think Whispers could be the start of another successful series for Clark.

Big Honken Chickens could probably read it though there are some tense scenes and death. So use caution, chickens. The themes make it a PG-13 read. Mystery and suspense fans should find plenty within. Those who can only read roller coaster thrillers might find some of the pace too slow and cumbersome. Those who love literary novels may find moments of sketchiness and/or speedy turns that frustrate.

The spiritual components were realistic. I'd have liked to see the relationship with Miranda and her husband a little more fleshed out and the end maybe a touch less tidy.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Bonus Review:

Whispers of the Bayou
has more twists and turns than a rollercoaster. Filled with murder, buried secrets, hidden rooms, and obscure messages, it's one of the best mysteries I've read. From Manhattan to a mist-shrouded bayou with Spanish moss hanging from the trees, the setting couldn't be more diametrical. I love a book when the setting becomes a character in itself.

Miranda's catapulted into her journey by an attack. When she tells her aunt, who raised her, about it, she reveals some of Miranda's past and shaves a portion of her hair off, uncovering a strange tattoo on her scalp. What kind of parent would tattoo her child's scalp?

That's what Miranda wants to know. Her aunt reluctantly reveals Willy's request for her to come to Louisiana. Determined to know more about her past, Miranda goes, but when she gets there, Willy confuses her more with tales of her being the keeper of the secret. Then he dies before she knows what it's all about. Left to uncover the mystery without even knowing what it's about is daunting enough, but what she discovers about her own past is chilling.

And there I'll leave it. No spoilers here but forget what I said about more twists than a rollercoaster. This has more twists than rigatoni. Suffice it to say, I thoroughly enjoyed Whispers of the Bayou. Noel Reviews and I give it a high recommendation.

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan

Monday, March 10, 2008

Kim Vogel Sawyer's My Heart Remembers~ Reviewed

My Heart Remembers
By Kim Vogel Sawyer
Published by Bethany House
ISBN 978-0-7642-0262-9

Back Cover:

United by blood, divided by time, will three orphan-train siblings ever find one another again?

Orphaned in a tenement fire, three Irish-immigrant children are sent to Missouri to be adopted. Despite eight-year-old Maelle's desperate attempts to keep her siblings together, each child is taken by a different family. Yet Maelle vows that she will never stop searching for her brother and sister—and they will be together one day in the future.

Seventeen years later, Maelle is still searching. But the years have washed away her hope...and her memories. What are Mattie and Molly doing now? Will she ever see her brother and sister again?


Sawyer's an artist with words and she paints an unforgettable tale in My Heart Remembers. One in which the characters truly do leap off the page and into your heart. I was hooked from the first sentence. I only learned about the orphan trains a couple of years ago and soon after discovered a friend's great uncle was an orphan on one. Fascinated, I also discovered not all the stories were happy ones.

Keeping true to history, Sawyer has penned a deeply moving tale of faith and love. And once again, she surprised me with plot twists I didn't see coming. Sawyer never writes the expected, but you can depend on what she does write being exactly right. Each sibling's story was different, each was poignant. I'm hoping there is a sequel because I didn't want this one to end. I've loved all Kim Vogel Sawyer's books, but to date, My Heart Remembers is my favorite. Novel Reviews and I give it our highest recommendation.

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Sharon Dunn's Death of a Six-Foot Teddy Bear ~ Reviewed

Title: Death of a Six-Foot Teddy Bear
Author: Sharon Dunn
Publisher: Multnomah
ISBN: 978-1-59052-690-3

Book Description:

Ginger and her husband, Earl, are in for a wild ride in Calamity, Nevada, along with the other BHN (Bargain Hunters Network) ladies--college student Kindra, mother-of-four Suzanne, and sassy senior Arleta. They came to town for the Inventors Expo and some outlet shopping, but instead they endure lost luggage, broken air conditioning, and a long line of people angry at hotel owner Dustin Clydell. With the Inventors Expo and the Squirrel Lovers convention both in town, the Wind-Up Hotel has somehow overbooked.

Before the night is over, a man in a teddy bear costume is found dead, the Inventors Expo is canceled. . .and the authorities want to talk to one of the BHN ladies!


Author Sharon Dunn takes a unique cast of lovable characters on another wacky adventure, but with so many subplots and characters popping in and out, it became difficult to keep up with who was who.

Though the mechanics of the writing is strong, some of the main BHN characters disappeared, only to reappear later in the story to help catch the crook. As a reader, I expected the BHN to stay together more than they did. The ending has a nice twist that is a pleasant surprise and ties things up quite nicely.

Reviewed by: Sally Ann Black

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Alton Gansky's Angel ~ Reviewed

Alton Gansky
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Realms (October 2, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1599791803

Cover Copy:

A wise stranger has come to save our world, but is he too good to be true?

An earthquake shakes Southern California, setting the stage for the appearance of Aster, a stranger from a world far from our own. Miracles happen around him, spectacular promises are made, and wisdom flows from his lips.

He says he has come to complete our knowledge, to explain our beginnings, and to correct our spiritual errors. And the world is ready to receive him: politicians seek his advice, religious leaders wish to call him friend, scientists want to study him, and philosophers wish to debate him.

But everything is not what it seems. This messenger seems too good to be believed. Priscilla Simms, an investigatory journalist, is the only one close enough to the stranger to get at the truth. But unraveling the truth may cost her reputation, and maybe even her life.

My Review:

I've always wondered what the world will believe when the rapture of the church takes place. I think our worldly fascination with alien life will likely be a very logical solution to that question when a heartbeat of time causes the disappearance of millions. Whether you are interested in the end of the world, the Second Coming of Jesus, or the possibility of life on other planets, Angel is a novel that dives into some hefty what-ifs.

I'm not a big Sci-Fi fan and was pleased that Gansky doesn't overdo the lingo. Instead he uses the POV of a woman reporter who receives a special nod from an otherworldly creature and explores the concept of alien life. Though I didn't connect with his characters as much as I like to, the plot kept my attention and kept the pages turning. Secondary characters added some drama and detail that enriched the story. Though not gory, Big Honken Chicken Club members who don't like the idea of aliens might want to either read it during full sun hours or not at all.

The spiritual themes are well handled and a great reminder to focus on the truth so we don't get swept up in what's happening right in front of our eyes.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Jill Elizabeth Nelson's Reluctant Smuggler ~ Reviewed

Title: Reluctant Smuggler
Author: Jill Elizabeth Nelson
Publisher: Multnomah
ISBN: 978-1-590852-688-0

Book Description:

For security consultant Desiree Jacobs, the assignment was simple: make off with an ancient Mayan artifact and hand it over to the good guys in time to plan her wedding to ultra-fine FBI agent Tony Lucano.

Yet, in a world where no one is as he seems, Desi must decipher who the good guys are--before she ends up in the hands of a ruthless enemy.

Suddenly, artifact recovery turns into archaeological espionage, and the woman who finds all the answers must now ask questions: Who's looting priceless antiquities underneath the nose of the baffled Mexican government? And what does a violent gang of drug and human traffickers have to do with missing artifacts?


Jill Elizabeth Nelson takes a unique premise and molds it into a story of betrayal, faith, and romance, set in various places, including, Mexico's capital city, the Mayan ruins, and even Cancun. Nelson adds enough twists and turns, not to mention a couple of last minute surprises, that will leave you captivated and satisfied. Her To Catch a Thief series, of which this is the second book, is a recommended read.

Reviewed: S. Dionne Moore

Monday, March 03, 2008

Susan Meissner's Blue Heart Blessed ~ Reviewed

Blue Heart Blessed
By Susan Meissner
Published by Harvest House
ISBN-13: 978-0-7369-1917-3

Back Cover:

Daisy Murien is a hopeful romantic...despite the fact her fiancé broke their engagement just ten days before the wedding. What better remedy for heartbreak than to open a secondhand wedding dress boutique, where she can offer castoff wedding dresses a second chance at love?

As Daisy slowly navigates her way out of loss and loneliness, she finds an unusual confidant in Father Laurent, the retired Episcopal priest who blesses the tine blue satin hearts she sews into each dress she sells. When the minister falls ill, Daisy is confronted by Ramsey Laurent, the man's brooding and recently divorced son, who arrives to take his ailing father away. A contest of wills begins between the two stubborn and hurting souls.

While fighting to keep Father Laurent close by, Daisy finally begins to understand why she has routinely persuaded potential buyers not to buy the one gown she that started her business—her own. And as with most matters of the heart, no one is more surprised at the reason than Daisy herself.


Heartwarming and funny, Blue Heart Blessed has to be made into a movie. Someone call Hollywood! Start with one tenderhearted but flawed leading lady who journals to her alter ego, Harriett, who dispenses advice. Toss in a comical side-kick or two, a confidant, and top it off with a handsome, brooding hero and you have a hit. And Meissner does.

Set in an old hotel that's been turned into retail space with apartments above, The Finland, which Daisy manages besides having her business there, is nearly a character in the story where most of the other characters live. There's the retired priest and the Latin couple who open their doors every Sunday afternoon for a communal meal. She sews for Daisy and he is the building caretaker. Can you see the recipe for a great story in this novel?
I haven't yet read a book by Susan Meissner that I didn't love, and Blue Heart Blessed tops the list of favorites. Novel Reviews and I give it our highest recommendation.

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan

Sunday, March 02, 2008

ACFW March Book Release List

Thanks, Jill.

1. A Lady of Hidden Intent, Book 2 in the Ladies of Liberty series by Tracie Peterson from Bethany House Publishers. Catherine Newbury flees her past, but has hidden intentions to right the wrongs done her family.

2. A Soldier's Family, Book 2-Wings of Refuge Series by Cheryl Wyatt from Steeple Hill-Love Inspired. A USAF Pararescue jumper recovering from a skydiving accident opens his heart to a widow and her troubled teen, and discovers he's been given a second chance at family.

3. A Suspicion of Strawberries Scents of Murder Series, Book 1 by Lynette Sowell from Barbour. Andromeda Clark loves control, and that's tough to hang onto while tracking down a murderer, saving her business, all while her boyfriend decides it's time to settle down.

4. A Treasure Worth Keeping by Kathryn Springer from Steeple Hill, Love Inspired. Single school teacher seeks solitude. . .and ends up on the adventure of a lifetime!

5. Amber Morn, Kanner Lake series #4 by Brandilyn Collins from Zondervan. The lives of the nationally read “Scenes and Beans” bloggers are on the line when they’re taken hostage by three volatile men whose demands are impossible to meet.

6. Another Stab at Life in The Volstead Manor Series by Anita Higman from Barbour Publishing. Another Stab at Life is about a woman who inherits not only a Gothic mansion, but the shadows and secrets that lie within.

7. Better than Gold Book Three in the Iowa Historical Series by Laurie Alice Eakes from Heartsong Presents. She wants to leave the small, Iowa town. He wants to stay and create a
settled life. They both want to find the missing gold.

8. Blue Heart Blessed by Susan Meissner from Harvest House. A jilted bride opens a secondhand wedding dress shop but can't seem to let go of the one dress that started her business - her own.

9. Broken Lullaby by Pamela Tracy from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. When Mary Graham finally starts making right choices, DEA officer Mitch Williams interferes. From small steps to large leaps, trust, love, and faith are born in the midst of a mystery.

10. Dear to Me, Book 3 in the Brides of Webster County series by Wanda E. Brunstetter from Barbour Publishing. Melinda Andrews is torn between two loves -- her dear animal friends and Gabe, the man she loves.

11. Don't Look Back, #3 in Reunion Revelations (Love Inspired Suspense Continuity Series) by Margaret Daley from Steeple Hill. Jameson vows to help Cassie solve her brother's murder by delving into his secrets. But Jameson has his own secrets that might tear them apart.

12. Goldeneyes by Delia Latham from Vintage Romance Publishing. In the darkness of a Depression-era night, an alcoholic man commits a heinous crime, and over twenty years will pass before the horrible wrong begins to be made right.

13. John's Quest by Cecelia Dowdy from Barbour Publishing. John, an agnostic science professor, finds romantic love while searching for Jesus.

14. Leaving November, Book 2 The Clayburn Novels by Deborah Raney from Howard Books/Simon & Schuster. After failing the bar exam twice, a young woman comes home to discover love--with an artist who is everything she never wanted in a man.

15. My Heart Remembers by Kim Vogel Sawyer from Bethany House. United by blood, divided by time, three orphan train siblings seek to reunite eighteen years after fate separated them.

16. Seneca Shadows by Lauralee Bliss from Heartsong Pesents, Barbour Publishing. Lucy's quiet world has been invaded as soldiers come to train in her valley. Will love be the consequence?

17. Sincerely, Mayla, The Sequel to Just As I Am by Virginia Smith from Kregel. For control freak Mayla Strong, learning to lean on the everlasting arms is the toughest lesson of all.

18. The Renovation: Carter Mansion, First book in the 3-book Project Restoration Series by Terri Kraus from David C. Cook. Single father Ethan Willis is a master at restoring old buildings, returning what was once in ruins to the beauty of its original design. Can a new woman help restore his life after a tragedy that changed everything?

19. The Truth About Love by Tia McCollors from Moody Publishers - Lift Every Voice Imprint. In this powerful sequel to Zora's Cry, four friends face issues that test the strength of their faith and their love.

20. Trouble the Water by Nicole Seitz from Thomas Nelson. Three flawed women find God's healing in the loving hands of a Gullah community on a South Carolina sea island.

21. Wildfire Book #3, Snow Canyon Ranch series by Roxanne Rustand from Steeple Hill. Snow Canyon Ranch---where sinister family secrets lurk in the majestic Rockies.

22. Embrace Me - by Lisa Samson - Biting and gentle, hard-edged and hopeful . . . a beautiful fable of love and power, hiding and seeking, woundedness and redemption.

Happy reading