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 ~