Thursday, December 31, 2009

C.J. Darlington's Thicker than Blood ~ Reviewed

By C.J. Darlington
Published by: Tyndale
400 pages

Back Cover:

Christy Williams finally has her life on track. She’s putting her past behind her and working hard to build a career as an antiquarian book buyer. But things begin to unravel when a stolen Hemingway first edition is found in her possession, framing her for a crime she didn’t commit.

With no one to turn to, she yearns for her estranged, younger sister, May, whom she abandoned in their childhood after their parents’ untimely deaths. Soon Christy’s fleeing from her shattered dreams, her ex-boyfriend, and God. May’s Triple Cross ranch could be the safe haven she’s searching for, but will the sisters realize that each possesses what the other desperately needs before it’s too late?


“Christy Williams didn’t see the cop until his red lights flashed in her rearview mirror.”

Want to read more? I did! I was hooked after the first sentence, and you will be too. I signed up for a review copy of this book when I realized the author, C. J. Darlington, was the same person who owned a website I frequent called

C.J. Darlington weaves an interesting tale of Christy Williams struggle about the direction her life is headed. After her parents death she made choices that would change her life forever and separate her from May, her only living sibling.

Christy Williams is an antiquarian. The author describes her love of and hunt for books. C. J. Darlington gives you a sneak peek into this profession—one she held for quite some time. C.J. reveals how to hunt for treasure—rare books and everything in-between. It was fun to read about a few book treasures—what makes them rare—valuable and worth seeking!

Christy’s sister, May, has her own passion—running a ranch and taking care of the animals. It was fascinating to read about what made both sisters tick. I enjoyed the suspense and drama that caused a collision in both of these sisters lives. You won’t want to miss reading this exciting, fun adventure.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
ACFW Book Club Coordinator

Bonus Review:

Thicker Than Blood is an impressive first novel from a gifted writer. Though I read an Advanced Reader Copy with a few mistakes, the characterization, threads, suspense level and writing are beyond the usual freshman novel.

C.J. Darlington has crafted a story that handles heavy topics like shame, alcoholism, promiscuity, abuse, theft and abortion with realism and grace. Though her characters didn't always warm my heart I was drawn into their stories and I found myself cheering them on and even tearing up as they grew and matured.

The details about cattle ranching and book hunting added enriching information that made the story interesting as well as merely entertaining. I appreciated Darlington's light but deep spiritual details as well. Christy's path toward forgiveness didn't feel contrived or added as an afterthought. The character prone to violent outbursts didn't cross over into extreme cheesiness or gratuitous posturing either.

Overall, this is a book that should appeal to those who love edgy, realistic writing with Christian themes and hopeful conclusions. Fans of Amy Wallace and Kathy Herman should find much to love in this novel.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Bonus Review:

I have been anticipating this book as C.J. Darlington is such a great influence in the online book blogging and publication world. I was not disappointed. Especially as I am not a contemporary Christian fiction fan and yet I enjoyed this one and will definitely pick up future titles from C.J. Full of suspense and easily a page turner, this one goes on the keeper shelf.

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Adrian Plass's Silver Birches~ Reviewed

Silver Birches: A Novel (Paperback)
Adrian Plass
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (June 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310292034

Product Description

It's been six months since his wife's death, and David Herrick is numb with grief. So when Angela, an old acquaintance from youth group, invites him to a reunion at Headly Manor, he's inclined to refuse---until she says she has something from his beloved Jessica. Will he find the healing he seeks? Formerly titled Ghosts.


I can't believe that this book sat in a to-be-read pile for months. I don't know if it was the bland cover in the monochromatic silvers and grays. Or if it was the subject matter, a well-known Christian speaker loses his wife and the story begins in the midst of his depression and struggles. Whatever it was, don't make the same mistake I did.

If you love prose that often reads like poetry (the good kind), thought-provoking, faith-tweaking, realistic fiction, or love British authors, then pick up this book.

Rich, rich, rich details and storytelling poke at sensitive spots in Christ followers. The scenario of half a dozen youth group friends meeting for a weekend twenty years or so after last seeing each other sounds like it might be a bit like a Christianized/sanitized version of The Big Chill. There are moments it feels like that. But that might be because real Christians also have personalities and issues that don't look a whole lot different from unbelievers. And though similar to the storyline of The Big Chill, it's not actually sanitized a whole lot. A big theme is the Christian and his or her sexuality. Then toss in the waves that nearly drown followers when God does not do as He is expected and instead bad, awful, inexplicably hideous things happen that leave us gasping for air and a break. An even bigger one...what if a person, a good person prays and asks to be delivered from something yet still struggles with it twenty years later? Oh yeah. This book, tiny though it is -- less than 200 pages -- is heavy and deep.

I am so glad I read this book. I'll be investigating other Plass offerings. Powerful.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Monday, December 28, 2009

James David Jordan's Double Cross ~ Reviewed

Double Cross
by James David Jordan
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 400
B & H Publishing Group
ISBN: 0805447547

Product Description:

Raised by a father who was a former Special Forces officer, Taylor is beautiful and brilliant and knows how to take care of herself. But she is haunted by her past and the sacrifice her father made to save her from a brutal rape when she was seventeen. After a controversial stint in the Secret Service, she has become the most prominent private security specialist in America. When she discovers the body of a former client's top assistant, all the evidence points to embezzlement and suicide. But Taylor has no way of knowing that her mother, who ran out when Taylor was nine, is about to reappear and lead her down a twisting path of danger and deceit. It's a road that won't end until they reach the spot where Taylor's father died-where Taylor learns some sacrifices can never be earned.


4/5 Stars

After finishing the first book "Forsaken", I was eager to read the sequel "Double Cross" and I was not disappointed. It is good to note, that this book could easily be enjoyed read as a stand alone as well. The suspense and the action in this book was on a level up from Forsaken and the pages were turned even faster. I was astonished at how fast I read the book, but I just wanted to get to the next scene.

This novel reunites a mother and child in a unique way and takes a reader through a gambit of emotions on whether or not they will appreciate the mother. The depth of character is realistic and invites a reader to delve into their own relationships looking at joys and woes. I recommend the reading of books by James David Jordan and look forward to more in the future myself.

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Bonus Review:

Tough and savvy, former Secret Service agent Taylor Pasbury makes a living as a security consultant and has established a reputation for being able to handle any circumstance. Her strength and experience serve her well when she plunges into a complicated case of possible murder and embezzlement. She must succeed in unraveling the puzzle before whoever is responsible comes after her. As the stakes rise, a new challenge emerges—the unexpected return of the mother who abandoned her years ago. At the worst possible time, the wounds of the past resurface and painful secrets come to light.

The characters are richly developed, real and quirky, and the mystery well-paced. A smooth, compelling read that pulls you into the lives of flawed people wrestling with matters of faith and forgiveness in the midst of life’s trials.

Reviewed by: Sarah Sawyer

Bonus Review:

“Double Cross” is the second novel in a series by James David Jordan. This book, not to be confused with a title of the same name by James Patterson, is a suspense thriller following the former Secret Service agent Taylor Pasbury. Her story this time deals with the fallout after the death of prominent televangelist Simon Mason. This tragedy came at the hands of Muslim extremists in the Middle East while they held his daughter Kasey hostage. His death should have been the end to all injustice that happened around Simon Mason Ministries but now the target is Taylor. Taylor’s viewpoint is expressed throughout the book.

Having not read Mr. Jordan’s first book “Forsaken,” I did not feel that I missed out on anything since he seemed to summarize what happened in it well as this story first began. I appreciate it when author’s do this so that I do not feel lost and can pick up the story from any book. “Double Cross” has a great suspense character in Taylor Pasbury. It is like following Jason Bourne, Jack Ryan or Jack Bauer from their points of view. I hope that Mr. Jordan continues this character so I can follow it as long as James Patterson’s Alex Cross character has continued for him. This is my first reading of a James David Jordan book and I must say that I am impressed. I give it 4 out of 4 stars.

Be blessed!

Reviewed by: Brad Evans

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Tamara Leigh's Leaving Carolina ~ Reviewed

Leaving Carolina
by Tamara Leigh
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Multnomah Books (September 15, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1601421664

Product Description:

Piper Wick left her hometown of Pickwick, North Carolina, twelve years ago, shook the dust off her feet, ditched her drawl and her family name, and made a new life for herself as a high-powered public relations consultant in LA. She’s even “engaged to be engaged” to the picture-perfect U.S. Congressman Grant Spangler.

Now all of Piper’s hard-won happiness is threatened by a reclusive uncle’s bout of conscience. In the wake of a health scare, Uncle Obadiah Pickwick has decided to change his will, leaving money to make amends for four generations’ worth of family misdeeds. But that will reveal all the Pickwicks’ secrets, including Piper’s.

Though Piper arrives in Pickwick primed for battle, she is unprepared for Uncle Obe’s rugged, blue-eyed gardener. So just who is Axel Smith? Why does he think making amends is more than just making restitution? And why, oh why, can’t she stay on task? With the Lord’s help, Piper is about to discover that although good PR might smooth things over, only the truth will set her free.

Review: 4/5 Stars

*sigh of contentment* I do enjoy a good book by Tamara Leigh, she's quite the down to earth entertainer. Now after reading this story of Piper Pickwick in "Leaving Carolina", I really want to go back to my TBR shelf and find "Faking Grace", because I'm pretty sure I have a copy out there. Hmm... This book is full of family secrets, but so much more than that, it is a story of acknowledging and owning up to mistakes and sins and moving appropriately beyond them with forgiveness and admittance. Each page is filled with a pull to turn to the next page and finish the next chapter to read the continuing whit. The personality of our main character Piper is priceless and sets one to giggling and grinning as well as a bit of snickering here and there. The romance is blush-worthy and brings forth a sly grin to any reader. This is a fun loving book of entertainment, but also so much more as real lessons are brought forth in the twist of tales. I highly recommend this read, and personally cannot wait for more from Tamara. As this is my first of her novels that I have read cover to cover I need more. With that said, I'm exceptionally looking forward to the summer of 2010 to find more in The Next Adventure of Maggie and Devyn!!

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ted Dekker's Green ~ Reviewed

Green,The Beginning & the End, Circle Series #0
By: Ted Dekker
Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 432
Vendor: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: 2009

Product Description

At Last . . . The Circle Reborn The story of how Thomas Hunter first entered the Black Forest and forever changed our history began at a time when armies were gathered for a final battle in the valley of Migdon. Green is a story of love, betrayal, and sweeping reversals set within the apocalypse. It is the beginning: the truth behind a saga that has captured the imagination of more than a million readers with the Books of History Chronicles.But even more, Green brings full meaning to the Circle Series as a whole, reading as both prequel to Black and sequel to White, completing a full circle. This is Book Zero, the Circle Reborn, both the beginning and the end. The preferred starting point for new readers . . . and the perfect climax for the countless fans who've experienced Black, Red, and White.


It's been a long time since I read the books in this series though I considered them page-turning and fascinating. But, Dekker was one of only a few Christian authors I'd read and I wasn't quite sure what Christian fiction was. The fact that Sci-Fi/Fantasy wasn't exactly a favorite genre either made it all the more surprising that I liked them.

Since then I've read most of Dekker's books and a load of other Christian authors.

Dekker's prose weaving isn't the compelling part of his writing -- his strength lies in this tale that he has crafted and woven through several books and more than one series. And it's quite a tale. Very simplistic really, basically good vs evil and the cosmic wars that come from that. Green ties the stories together into a satisfying conclusion...or beginning...or continuation of the story of Thomas Hunter and the Books of History.

There is very little Christian jargon, however, the books are very religious and allegorical. Those who don't want to be preached at shouldn't find preaching. Parents who want their kids to read wholesome and uplifting books might have some trouble with the themes in this one. There is quite a bit of darkness with blood drinking and intense battle scenes and hints of sexuality. I'd say this is a heavy read for a kid and might be too much for a sensitive adult.

If you read the rest of the series you need to get your hands on a copy. If you tried to read it and were left cold, you probably won't find salvation for the whole series in Green.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tracie Peterson's Dawn's Prelude ~ Reviewed

Dawn's Prelude (Songs of Alaska #1)
by Tracie Peterson
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 368
Vendor: Bethany House
ISBN: 0764201514

Product Description:

Married off at a tender age to a harsh, older widower, Lydia Gray can't help but feel a measure of relief when an accident claims his life. What happens next, however, is a surprise to everyone: Through an unforeseen fluke, Lydia finds herself the sole recipient of her late husband's fortune. But instead of granting her security, strife ensues as her adult stepchildren battle to regain the inheritance for themselves.

Lydia longs to wash her hands of the situation and determines to join her aunt in Alaska, putting financial decisions in the capable hands of her lawyer. The beauty and serenity of life in Sitka appeal to Lydia, as does Kjell Lindquist, the handsome owner of the local sawmill. But a new discovery in Lydia's life forces her to rethink her future.

She is bound to her past as never before . . . but what more must she sacrifice?


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First let me mention about how much I love the cover of this book, the coloring especially is just to die for it is so pretty. So far almost every historical fiction that I have read from Tracie Peterson I have enjoyed and this one is no different on that enjoyment scale. It may not be as non stop fabulous as the Yukon Quest, but it in a different manner it is better at the same time. Reading the book blurb as an expectant reader you can assume certain things of the plot line and story to occur and wonder how they unfold and what will happen next, but this novel is so much more in depth with twists and turns and much more plot than the blurb even begins to imply.

The best of Christ's beginning love is shown through in the characters and they learn and grow. Evil is still present as ever in some characters as is always in the writing of Tracie Peterson in a way that is very real as uncomfortable as that may seen. What is fabulous is the way that even with so many bad things that can possibly occur all the good that God can bring out of it. With emotions running, and pages not turning fast enough if you ever have enjoyed some of the work of this author before you will be glad to read this new novel that does not disappoint. If you have yet to read Tracie's books, this is a great place to start. I highly recommend her. This book is a great start to a new series and I cannot wait for the next one.

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Susan May Warren's The Great Christmas Bowl ~ Reviewed

The Great Christmas Bowl
by Susan May Warren
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 184
Vendor: Tyndale House
ISBN: 1414326785

Product Description:

Marianne Wallace is focused on two things this Christmas: planning the greatest holiday ever and her youngest son's football game. But when she's asked to sub for the school mascot in a fish costume, organize the annual church tea, and cope with children who can't come home, will it take a miracle to restore her cheer


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I do not know whether to consider this a novel or a short story at less than 200 pages, but no matter what category it fits in, it fits under the title of Fabulous! In starting the book, knowing that it was about a woman with five children practically grown, I was unsure that it would be for me as I am a new mom of an 8 week old. I highly doubted that I could relate to someone with so much experience and was uncertain if I would enjoy the read. Yet I love Susie's writing and could not turn it down. Oh my am I glad that I read this! It is an eye opener and even in such a short page amount one can really find some introspective.

The book is full of humor and real life. What I love about this story is that everything that happens one can imagine and relate to in some manner or another. This is a novel about family and the true meaning of Christmas spirit through hospitality. Each page contains humor and a little bit of sad truth of life yet even more joy and reasons for things we are capable of doing. I highly recommend this read for everyone this Christmas season and suggest that you share it with your friends as well. This is one that will not leave you too quickly. I'm so glad Susie decided to publish it.

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Friday, December 18, 2009

Maureen Lang's Look to the East ~ Reviewed

Look to the East
by Maureen Lang
Number of Pages: 350
Tyndale House
ISBN: 1414324359

Product Description:

A village under siege. A love under fire.

France, 1914

At the dawn of the First World War, the small village of Briecourt is isolated from the early battles while a century-old feud between the Toussaints and the de Colvilles still rages in the streets. But when the German army sweeps in to occupy the town, families on both sides of the feud are forced to work together to hide stragglers caught behind enemy lines.

Juliette Toussaint may have been adopted from a faraway island, but she feels the scorn of the de Colvilles as much as anyone born a Toussaint. So when she falls in love with one of the men in hiding—a wealthy and handsome Belgian entrepreneur—she knows she’s flirting with danger.

Charles Lassone has been waiting in the church cellar, safe from the Germans for the moment. But if he’s discovered, it will threaten the entire village—including Julitte—and could cost Charles his life.


My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Maureen Lang has a great way with words to weave into a story. I enjoyed this book. Historical Fiction is my favorite genre, although I like to stay in the happier romances. This book was filled to the brim of chill-bump romance and true love, but the entire tone of the book was sad and cold because of the war background setting. For me that brought the book down a couple stars, but that is only my book preference. As far as the character likability, the main characters Julitte and Charles were fabulous and extremely amiable. The antagonists both German and French were highly detestable. Emotions really run rampant with this novel and it reads almost like a two person diary. In my opinion, Maureen is an author to be watched. I just personally need to stick to happier time periods, yet even with that said, I will definitely be looking for the sequels to this series. The peace of God highly showed through in the characters thoughts and actions, and those that needed to grow were shown with heightening strength. Even the characters that were to "fall" as a reader you find yourself thinking of prayers for similar people in your life. It was a very powerful read, and besides the devastation of war a fabulous story.

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Janice Thompson's Fools Rush In ~ Reviewed

Fools Rush In
by Janice Thompson
ISBN: 9780800733421
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Revell; 1 edition (September 1, 2009)
Language: English

Product Description:

Bella Rossi may be nearing thirty, but her life is just starting to get interesting. When her Italian-turned-Texan parents hand over the family wedding planning business, Bella is determined not to let them down. She quickly books a "Boot Scoot'n" wedding that would make any Texan proud. There's only one catch--she's a country music numbskull because her family only listens to Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. Where will she find a DJ on such short notice who knows his Alan Jackson from his Keith Urban? When a misunderstanding leads her to the DJ (and man) of her dreams, things start falling into place. But with a family like hers, nothing is guaranteed. Can the perfect Texan wedding survive a pizza-making uncle with mob ties, an aunt who is a lawsuit waiting to happen, and a massive delivery of 80 cowboy boots? And will Bella ever get to plan her own wedding? Book one in the Weddings by Bella series, Fools Rush In is fun, fresh, and full of surprises. Readers will love the flavorful combination of Italian and Tex-Mex, and the hilarity that ensues when cultures clash.


5/5 Stars

Contemporary Romantic Comedy is the genre that author Janice Thompson's new series Weddings by Bella falls within and boy does she know how to write it well. "Fools Rush In", book #1 is a heart beating, goosebump raising, giggles under cover read. I was able to read this in less a day, which considering my teething, growth spurt experiencing, 3 month old daughter is quite the feat. *wink*

Bella Rossi is a New Jersey Italian relocated with her whole family to the shores of Galveston, Texas and she never envisioned falling for a true to earth eastern Texan cowboy, but that might just be what God has in store. The pages of this novel are grin cracking fun. I was amused by so many segments that I would re-read them aloud to my husband. If you are in the mood with something contemporary with a romantic pulse and an under your breath chuckling in the corner of the bookstore comedy then I suggest you pick up this story immediately. Within the first few pages you'll have a taste and know what type of book is in store and that's not even to mention the delving into yourself spiritual elements as well to boot!

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Bonus Review:

Janice hooked me from the very first sentence, “If Uncle Lazarro hadn’t left the mob, I probably wouldn’t have a story to tell.” Ok, she’s got my attention, what about yours?

I didn’t realize how many similar events in my Italian up bringing were very much like Bella’s, a grandmother who came from Italy and spoke broken English (only her dog could understand her), to many of the quotes like,"‘as long as there is life, there is hope…familiar sayings brought comfort on a chaotic day when I needed to believe, needed to hope.” Janice’s’ book brought back memories and family drama of my own Italian/American up bringing..

I loved how author described family gatherings and the food. It was always about the food. :D At my house it was about making the spaghetti sauce. We had to be trained in making the family recipe. In Bella’s world it was about the Pizza. Bella’s uncle owns a pizza shop and he’s always looking for new ideas and names for his creations.

Janice had many funny scenes like the pizza bake off. Bella brings over a cowboy and her uncle pits him against Bella’s x-boyfriend Italian stallion. Her cowboy friend says this to Bella, “B-but, I’ve never made a pizza in my life,” D.J. Stammered. “Wouldn’t even know where to start.” I could read the fright in his eyes. My invitation hadn’t included the words, “Bring your dueling pistols.” I’d simply asked him to come for some pizza.

This was a fun romantic comedy I’d love to see made into a movie. It reminded me of My Big Fat Greek Wedding—Full of family, fun and romance. Thanks for the memories Janice!!

Nora St.Laurent
Christian on-Line Columnist

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sandra Bricker's Love Finds You in Holiday, Florida ~ Reviewed

Love Finds You in Holiday, Florida
By Sandra Bricker
Published by Summerside
ISBN-10: 1-935416-25-1


Cassie Constantine has no plans to stay in Florida. She's just here long enough to sell the vacation house she shared with her late husband, and then shell hightail it back to her gracious Boston brownstone. But Cassie gets more than she bargained for with house renovations and wacky neighbors who manage to sidetrack her mission at ever turn. Then there's Richard Dillon, the stuffed shirt she's paired with on the dance floor, who seems involved in a mystery…and who makes her heart beat faster than the rhythm of the quickstep. But the biggest surprise of all? The has-it-all-together Cassie finds herself in the midst of a personal overhaul. Will she let lose long enough to find her new love in Holiday?


Funny lady Sandra Bricker quickly jumped onto the top of my favorite authors list with her warm and witty style. I was immediately drawn in to the story, and how could anyone not be with an opening we can all relate to?

"Cassie rounded the curve of the street and pulled into the driveway, and there they were! Those horrible, neon-pink flamingos, grinning at her from beneath the palm tree in the front yard."

Yeah, I've seen those plastic birds and feel just like Cassie about them. Cassie and her late husband went round and round over them. She'd dump them in the garbage, and he'd pluck them out, returning them to their prominent place in the front yard. Now he's gone, and Cassie can finally be rid of those glaring decorator's nightmare. Or can she?

I loved the way Cassie discovers more about herself and how her late husband saw her through the crossword puzzles he used to make up for her. In her desperate attempt to break out of her predictable life, hilarity ensues, making Love Finds You in Holiday, Florida

A delightful read. Novel Reviews and I give it a high recommendation.

Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan
Editor, Novel Journey

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Marjorie Preston's Essie In Progress ~ Reviewed

By Marjorie Preston
Published by Kregel
ISBN# 978-0-8254-3565-2
320 Pages

Back Cover:

Essie is burning the candle at both ends as she tries to juggle her job, her motherly duties, and her impulsive husband, Jack. Meanwhile, Hamilton, the patriarch, has taken up residence in a dilapidated sailboat on Lake Lanier, trying to forget his past. The one thing that they all have in common is their search for significance.


Jack and Essie both work for the same company. They’ve been happily married for many years. Their world starts changing when they discover there is a third child on the way. Jack and Essie start to think about live differently with another mouth to feed and more responsibility. Change! It was happening on all fronts in their lives. Essie and her husband felt overwhelmed and insignificant.

Essie seeks the counsel of a friend she says, “Your job doesn’t make you who you are. What you believe is what makes you who you are.” Ada’s pronouncement about the image-bearing child of God she was designed to be. “You were born to shimmer!”

Oh yeah, Essie was pregnant, shimmer was the furthest thing she was feeling right then. Funny though this confirmed the very thing her husband, Jack, had just told her a short time ago, “Honey, what I’m saying is your job doesn’t make you who you are! You’re a daughter of the king whether you take his new job assignment or not.”

I enjoyed how Majorie Preston showed Essie’s struggle to make sense of her changing world. A new baby was exciting but it really changed things. As a mom it’s easy to get lost in the cares and concerns of her family and lose focus of the bigger picture. Her job was making things complicated as well. Essie felt in control now but she was slowly losing it as the thought of this little one and her new job focus, how was she going to manage all of this? Her life was out of her control, the very place God could so His best work in our lives if we let Him!

I like how Ms. Tuttle talks to Essie, “If you characterize your life by what you give rather than by what you get, you will discover that extra ordinary, image-bearing child of God you were designed to be. A shinning reflection of His glory.”

God says we are to live in this world but not be of it! We have a choice to make daily, sometimes hourly—are we going to walk in what the world says we should be and what is important or are we going to listen to our heavenly Father (our creator), and what He says we are and how we are should live? It’s a struggle but well worth the fight to keep the main thing the main thing! I really liked how the author brought this out in the story through her colorful but believable characters.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
ACFW Book Club Coordinator

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Michelle Moran's Cleopatra's Daugher ~ Reviewed

Cleopatra's Daughter
by Michelle Moran
Random House, Crown Publishers
ISBN-10: 0307409120
ISBN-13: 978-0307409126
Hardcover, 430 pages

The marriage of Marc Antony and Cleopatra is one of the greatest love stories of all time, a tale of unbridled passion with earth-shaking political consequences. Feared and hunted by the powers in Rome, the lovers choose to die by their own hands as the triumphant armies of Antony’s revengeful rival, Octavian, sweep into Egypt. Their three orphaned children are taken in chains to Rome; only two– the ten-year-old twins Selene and Alexander–survive the journey. Delivered to the household of Octavian’s sister, the siblings cling to each other and to the hope that they will return one day to their rightful place on the throne of Egypt. As they come of age, they are buffeted by the personal ambitions of Octavian’s family and court, by the ever-present threat of slave rebellion, and by the longings and desires deep within their own hearts.

The fateful tale of Selene and Alexander is brought brilliantly to life in Cleopatra’s Daughter. Recounted in Selene’s youthful and engaging voice, it introduces a compelling cast of historical characters: Octavia, the emperor Octavian’s kind and compassionate sister, abandoned by Marc Antony for Cleopatra; Livia, Octavian's bitter and jealous wife; Marcellus, Octavian’s handsome, flirtatious nephew and heir apparent; Tiberius, Livia’s sardonic son and Marcellus’s great rival for power; and Juba, Octavian’s watchful aide, whose honored position at court has far-reaching effects on the lives of the young Egyptian royals.

Selene’s narrative is animated by the concerns of a young girl in any time and place–the possibility of finding love, the pull of friendship and family, and the pursuit of her unique interests and talents. While coping with the loss of both her family and her ancestral kingdom, Selene must find a path around the dangers of a foreign land. Her accounts of life in Rome are filled with historical details that vividly capture both the glories and horrors of the times. She dines with the empire’s most illustrious poets and politicians, witnesses the creation of the Pantheon, and navigates the colorful, crowded marketplaces of the city where Roman-style justice is meted out with merciless authority.

Based on meticulous research, Cleopatra’s Daughter is a fascinating portrait of imperial Rome and of the people and events of this glorious and most tumultuous period in human history. Emerging from the shadows of the past, Selene, a young woman of irresistible charm and preternatural intelligence, will capture your heart.


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What does it say when you can finish reading a book in three days from receiving it with a five week old baby causing a hiatus every two to four hours for food, changes, or just plain attention. Well... I would say that means it is a really good book!

Michelle Moran does not disappoint with her third novel, and I am excited for the fourth. She is one of those authors who writes a good book and as a reader you assume that was it, but each next novel is full of such entertainment that you are excited and cannot decide if it was better than the last.

Through the words of these pages, a reader gets to travel from Egypt to Rome and become immersed in the lives of historical figures in a way intangible before. The characters and people are brought to life on the pages and their emotions and causes are strongly felt as if a reader was a participant in their day to day lives.

This is a general market novel that I thoroughly enjoyed and would easily say it could be meant for any audience, young adult or adult. The only caution with a young adult I would say is for maturity. Be forewarned of the historically accurate references to the indulgences that the Romans participated in that may be distasteful. Each page brings to light the good and the bad of history and makes me want to delve a bit deeper and just go get a textbook and read. (Yet this is so much more entertaining!)

My favorite part is basically a Roman version of a Robin Hood wanting to bring out the very best. With issues of slavery, indiscretion, betrayal, kidnapping, murder, suicide, illness, birth, adventure, travel, romance, secrets, true love, and long lasting truth every page keeps a reader on their toes. I highly recommend this and every other novel by author Michelle Moran.

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Robert Liparulo's Whirlwind~ Reviewed

Whirlwind (Dreamhouse Kings)
Robert Liparulo
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (December 22, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595548157

Book Details:

Which door do you go through to save the world?

David, Xander, and Toria King never know where the mysterious portals in their house will take them: past, present, or future. They have battled gladiators and the German army, dodged soldiers on both sides of the Civil War, and jumped from the sinking Titanic. They've also seen the stark future that awaits if they can't do something to change it--a destroyed city filled with mutant creatures.

And they've still got to find a way to bring Mom back and keep Taksidian from getting them out of the house. The dangers are hitting them like a whirlwind . . . but the answers are becoming apparent as well.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Whirlwind, go HERE


Whirlwind was a phenomenal addition to a phenomenal series, Dreamhouse Kings. I put it down only when absolutely necessary and loved every second of it. I never knew what to expect at all. The surprises never stopped. Liparulo threw in plenty of fantasy to go along with tons of action and suspense. The King family is relentless in there determination to get there mother back and save the planet from the evil work of Taksidian. I personally love cliff hangers. They give me something to look forward to. This cliff hanger ending left me utterly burning inside, and I instantly picked up the next one. I loved it. This book completely deserves five stars!

By Teen Reviewer Reid A.

Bonus Review:

Liparulo's Dreamhouse Kings series continues to grab and clutch at the reader and move at breakneck pace. David and Xander find more portals, more danger, more adventure than they even thought possible. Within one day they tumble into the Civil War, a torture chamber and into an epic battle. And that's just while they are tumbling from portal to portal. Then there's home. The house. Taksidian. Jesse's injuries.

The historical information if fascinating. One caution. There are some grisly scenes and the adventure borders on horrifying in several scenes. Sensitive readers may not be ready for the intensity.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Melody Carlson's The Christmas Dog ~ Reviewed

By Melody Carlson
Published by Revell
ISBN# 978-0-8007-1881-7
172 Pages

Back Cover:

Betty Kowalski isn’t looking forward to the holidays. She just can’t seem to find Christmas in her heart. Maybe it’s because her husband is gone. Maybe it’s because she’s missing her children. Or maybe it has something to do with her obnoxious new neighbor, who seems to be tearing his house apart and rearranging it on the lawn.

But when a mangy dog appears at her doorstep, the stage is set for Betty to learn what Christmas is all about.


Melody Carlson is such a talented and diversified author, so when the opportunity came to receive a review copy of her new Christmas book, I jumped at the chance to read it! Each of Melody’s books has its own voice and style. That’s what I love about her writing. The Christmas Dog is no exception. Melody writes this book in the point of view of Betty Kowalski, an elderly woman who’s preparing for a 50th Anniversary party for her friends right before Christmas. Out of the blue, her granddaughter, Avery, shows up and wants to help with the party decorations.

Betty discovers a little dog at their back door while Avery is visiting and wants to give it to the pound and would have if Avery hadn’t asked to keep the dog.. Betty’s never had a dog and this one is dirty. Avery tells her grandma that she will take care of everything, and not to worry. Could she trust Avery? Avery was so happy about the dog, Betty gives in.

Betty remembers what her mother says,” I do remember my mother once telling me that kindness builds bridges.”

This reminds Betty of her pastor and his recent sermon. She remembers, “How was it possible to love someone so completely disagreeable and inconsiderate and downright evil? Really, she thought as she stood up, even Pastor Gordon would be singing a different tune if he was forced to live next to Jack Jones." Now her granddaughter was here and wanted to keep this dog. God was doing a work on her, Betty could sense it.

God moves in mysterious ways and will stir our hearts to do His will if we let Him. Melody has penned a heart warming story that will leave you satisfied and get you in the spirit of Christmas cheer and ready to pass on God’s love.

Nora St.Laurent
Finding Hope Through Fiction

Bonus Review:

A sweet Christmas story that is predictable and full of difficult characters who grow and change. Betty is a lonely and embittered elderly woman who knows the goings-on of the neighbors but has lost touch with the neighbors as people. Jack spends his nights littering his yard with debris and tearing apart his house. Or is it his house? Then there is Avery, a step-granddaughter with a chip on her shoulder and a controlling mom. Finally, a brown bundle of fur who just shows up one day and mixes things up for everyone.

Christmas book collectors may want to look into this one especially if they are dog story fans.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Monday, December 07, 2009

Kelly Eileen Hake's The Bride Backfire and The Bride Bargain ~ Reviewed

The Bride Backfire (Prairie Promises Series #2)
Kelly Eileen Hake
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc; 1ST edition (October 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602601763

Product Description
Two feuding families, the Specks and the Grogans, have been maintaining a tenuous peace in the Nebraskan Territory of 1857. So when Adam Grogan gets caught trespassing on their land, he knows the murderous Soeck men won't listen to reason and let him walk away. Adam's prepared to meet his maker, but things take a turn when Opal Speck declares he's the father of her unborn child. Will Adam accept the slur to his name and marry the girl in order to save his life?


4/5 Stars

After reading an ARC version of the first book in the Prairie Promises Series, "The Bride Bargain", I was confused at two name changes, but that happens and it is my on fault for getting distracted and forgetting that had been an advanced reader copy before final edits.

In this story once again readers are treated with descriptions of food and cooking of recipes on the prairie that bring interest and cause a mouth to water. There were more in the first book, yet this one also offered descriptions of bee-keeping that I never knew before or rather had even thought to ask. It was fascinating. This book brought a much deeper intrigue for me than the first as I honestly had no clue what would happen in the end of of any of the twists and turns to get there. That impresses me in a novel. I enjoyed picking up on the lives of characters I had met in the first book of the series and applaud Kelly's descriptions of their inner thoughts through what could only be reference as difficult situations. Scripture lessons on life and shocking surprises are woven through the page of this novel and I look forward to the final installment of the trilogy and of more to come from author Kelly Eileen Hake in the future.

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

The Bride Bargain (Prairie Promises #1)
by Kelly Eileen Hake
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc (September 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602601755

Product Description:

This stunning debut novel by Kelly Eileen Hake is full of wit and warmth. Set down upon the wild American plains during the 1850, Clara is desperate for a home and a future for herself and her aunt. Striking a bargain with a lonely trader to fool a head-strong doctor could lead Clara to an unexpected avenue of romance.


3/5 Stars

An enjoyable read by an author new to me. In the same way that I enjoy, but do not absolutely love the work of Cathy Marie Hake I earnestly enjoy the writing of Kelly Eileen Hake as well. Being the same age as the author also gives me another reason to awe and praise her work. In the future I definitely look forward to reading many more stories from Kelly Eileen Hake to come.

First let me start with the only real downside I see to this book or rather to the Prairie Promises Series, I just do not like the covers one bit. Not sure what it is, but in comparison to other covers out there, these just do not do it for me. As for the story, this is a good plot of matchmaking that backfires on the maker as it often will. The witty humor is fun and the characters are enjoyable. After reading the first sections I felt that I knew what was going to happen, but that is okay. Every once in a while you need a story like that. The best part of the descriptions of prairie life for me were the detailed recipe instructions of the food made by various characters through out. for my preference, these are no Mary Connealy (which I absolutely love!), but never the less enjoyable prairie promises of romance and I look forward to the rest of the series.

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Novel Review Special Contest

Novel Review readers: Leave a comment on this post and you will be entered in a randomly chosen drawing for one free 3-month membership to Bookswim. We will be choosing a winner after 7:00 p.m. CST on Thursday the 10th. You've got one week. Winner will be announced in the comment field of today's post. Make sure we can get hold of you via your comment.
And this same opportunity will present itself at Novel Journey this month. So make sure you leave a comment there if you don't win this time around. One winner per address/email address.

With flying snow, chilly nights and early nightfall comes more opportunities to curl up with good books!

BookSwim is America's only online book rental service offering everything from hardcover new releases to paperback classics for those of us on a budget.

Families, consider this: A $20/mo. subscription for the three-at-a-time plan is great for a small family of three. BookSwim always has the latest releases you (and your young’in) want to read. And if it’s not in-stock, they will go out and get it for you!

Casual and avid readers, consider this: If you’re getting through three books per month, for three months, we’re talking about $135! (Forget the library waiting list – it’ll be Spring by the time you’re leading the queue.)Why not rent the latest releases and curl up under warm blanket to enjoy?

More perks of renting:

· No need to store on an already overcrowded bookshelf!

· Save money.

· Bookstores have limited hours, not to mention the hassle of travel.

· Renting is environmentally friendly – books are taking mass transit.

· No due dates, no late fees.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Ariel Allison's Eye of the God ~ Reviewed

By Ariel Allison
Published by: Abingdon Press
ISBN# 978-1-426-7000-682
350 Pages

Back cover:

Is the curse of the Hope Diamond real, or just a legacy of greed?

When international jewel thieves attempt to steal the Hope Diamond from the Smithsonian Institute, only its curator Dr. Abigail Mitchell stands in their way. Abby soon realizes she alone holds the pieces to the complicated puzzle in this deadly game of illegal art collectors.


Don’t you just love the cover of this book? It’s the reason I signed up to receive a review copy of it. The Hope diamond is featured on the front cover. The author talks about the diamonds history, its allure, the suspense and drama in getting ownership of it, and the legacy attached to this one of a kind blue diamond. Who knew there was that much to talk about? Who knew of all the misfortune associated with this diamond and its owners?

Ariel Allison begins this story in 1653, Golconda, India, where the blue diamond is discovered. I enjoyed the way this author weaves history into the pages of this book. After you learn how the diamond was found the story rolls into current time at the Smithsonian Institute’s where curator Dr. Abigail Mitchell to setting up a celebration—fund raiser featuring the Hope Diamond. The fun begins as Abigail prepares and triple checks security measures to make sure the diamond doesn’t get stolen on her watch.

She is an expert on the Hope Diamond even did her masters thesis on the subject, who better to be the master of ceremonies for that nights big event. I also liked how Ariel Allison would have Dr. Mitchell tell an interviewer about an event or a tragedy associated with the diamond, giving details of the event in history. Then the next chapter would be that story brought to life by the very characters that Abby had just explained in the previous chapter. I thought it was a very nice touch. It wasn’t confusing but it actually brought you really up-close and personal with the curses, and drama the former owners of the Hope Diamond went through. Starting with Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette all the way through to Jackie Kennedy! Wow! This diamond has quite a reputation!

This story reminds me of a Mission Impossible, the movie. Dr. Abigail Mitchell suspects that the Collectors, underground art thieves, might attempt to steal the diamond the night of the big celebration. She had to do everything in her power to prevent that from happening.

This story is full of twists and turns and I enjoyed every minute of them. I can’t wait to read another suspense story by this author.

Nora St. Laurent
Finding Hope Through Fiction

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

ACFW December Book Releases

1. A Bouquet for Iris, by Diane Ashley & Aaron McCarver from Barbour Heartsong Presents. Iris Landon travels to Daisy, Tennessee, to care for two Cherokee children and finds romance and danger while aiding one family in the struggle to keep their land.

2. A Lady Like Sarah, Rocky Creek Romance, by Margaret Brownley from Thomas Nelson. He's a preacher. She's an outlaw. Both are in need of a miracle.

3. ANGEL WITH A BACKHOE, by Deb Kinnard from Desert Breeze Publishing. A small-town widower and a spunky suburban transplant match wits over a church construction project, finding true love can mix with blueprints and concrete footings.

4. Child Finder: Resurrection series: Child Finder Trilogy, 2nd book, by Mike Angley from Total Recall Publications, Inc. Child Finder: Resurrection…the highly-anticipated sequel to the award-winning debut novel, Child Finder, which Library Journal placed on its 2009 Summer Reads list for Christian fiction!

5. Christmas Peril, by Margaret Daley from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. Christmas themed, romantic suspense stories.

6. Cup of Joe, by Teri Wilson from White Rose Publishing. A grieving woman resists the cups of comfort offered by the shy, but handsome, owner of the neighborhood coffee shop.

7. Field of Danger, by Ramona Richards from Love Inspired Suspense. When April Presley can’t remember details of the murder she witnessed, deputy Daniel Rivers must help her recall the event and protect her from the killer determined to silence her.

8. Her Patchwork Family series: The Gabriel Sisters, by Lyn Cote from Love Inspired. In spite of opposition from the rich and influential, can Felicity Gabriel establish a home for children orphaned by the Civil War and heal two wounded hearts?

9. Patterns and Progress series: Michigan historical, book 3, by Amber Stockton from Barbour Publishing. A farmer's daughter would rather turn back the hands of time than accept the fact that advancement in technology could be in God's plan.

10. The Sheriff's Surrender series: #1 of The Ladies' Shooting Club Series, by Susan Page Davis from Barbour Publishing. The men of Fergus aren’t keeping the town safe, so a group of feisty women take matters into their own hands.

11. The Glassblower series: First book in the New Jersey Historical Series, by Laurie Alice Eakes from Barbour Publishing. Colin Grassick moves from Edinburgh, Scotland to Salem county New jersey totake a position as a master glassblower. He loves his work and hopes of bringing his family to America for a better life. But his love for Meg, the daughter of the owner of the glassworks, threatens his job...and then his life.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Athol Dickson's The Lost Mission ~ Reviewed

Lost Mission: A Novel
Athol Dickson
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Howard Books (September 15, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416583475

Book Description:

What haunting legacy awaits deep beneath the barrios and wealthy enclaves of Southern California?

An idyllic Spanish mission collapses in the eighteenth century atop the supernatural evidence of a shocking crime. Twelve generations later the ground is opened up, the forgotten ruins are disturbed, and rich and poor alike confront the onslaught of resurging hell on earth. Caught up in the catastrophe are...

• A humble shopkeeper compelled to leave her tiny village deep in Mexico to preach in America
• A minister wracked with guilt for loving the wrong woman
• An unimaginably wealthy man, blinded to the consequences of his grand plans
• A devoted father and husband driven to a horrible discovery that changes everything

Will the evil that destroyed the MisiĆ³n de Santa Dolores rise to overwhelm them? Or will they beat back the terrible desires that led to the mission's good Franciscan founder's standing in the midst of flames ignited by his enemies and friends alike more than two centuries ago?

From the high Sierra Madre mountains to the harsh Sonoran desert, from the privileged world of millionaire moguls to the impoverished immigrants who serve them, Athol Dickson once again weaves a gripping story of suspense that spans centuries and cultures to explore the abiding possibility of miracles.


I really wanted to read this novel. I've not read Athol Dickson before but had heard great things about him. When a review copy was offered to me, I jumped on it. But then the book came and I read the back cover. "Hmmm." I thought. "Well, I'll get to it eventually." And then I set the book down. The subject did not appeal. But then came the blog tour and I needed to be able to say something about the book. So I opened it.

Two strikes right away. One is the omniscient tone of the story. For some reason that's my least favorite point of view. Second was the abundance of names within the first few pages. I have trouble keeping track of too many characters and too soon into a book and I'm annoyed.

Then I got into the story and wow, this man can write. The praise and awards are well-deserved.

The story is two distinct yet similar stories unfolding in the same location, two centuries apart. Two characters choose to love the lost at the cost of their own moral compass, two characters choose love of laws and rules over loving people, and two characters struggle with caring deeply about the events unfolding and feeling helpless to do anything about those events.

Changing centuries threw me the first chapter but then it became more clever and clearer and the omniscient point of view added greatly to the seamless weaving of events. The characters were all important and as I read Dickson made sure that I knew enough about them that they became easy to remember and know. So much for my complaints. From there it's just a great, thought-provoking read. And challenging. I saw myself in each of the characters. Not necessarily a positive thing and it required me to face some of the issues in my life and how I might need to tweak my thinking a bit. Did I mention it's fascinating as well? An outbreak of some horrific disease/plague (assuming it was small pox) decimates as does fire. Dickson is an artist with words and characters. I've not read such fresh prose in quite awhile.

I'm recommending it to anyone. However, don't expect to be untouched by the story. It's not an easy one to read or digest. And it's not a mindless beach read either. Action lovers could struggle with the slower pace. Literary lovers should put it on their Christmas list.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Friday, November 27, 2009

Susan Meissner's White Picket Fences ~ Reviewed

By: Susan Meissner
Published by: Waterbrook
358 Pages

Back Cover:

When the storybook-perfect Janvier family temporarily "adopts" their teenaged niece, Tally, they assume they'll be helping her. But when Tally befriends her cousin, Chase, she soon realizes that he badly needs encouragement, too. When the troubled teens interview two holocaust survivors for a sociology project, will they trigger the healing process that everybody needs?


Secrets! When is it ok to keep a secret? This is what Amanda; Tally’s aunt says about them, “My grandmother had her secrets. My father had his. You have yours. And I… What do they really accomplish anyway? I mean, think about it. What secret did anyone any good? Can you think of one?”

Tally does think of a good secret. Josef and Eliasz told of their secret operation to save babies from the horrific conditions of the ghetto. It had to be kept a secret so that lives could be saved. Tally knew that her Aunt was hinting around that she should tell her the reason her father was off on a sudden trip to Europe. Her father has asked her not to tell and she wasn’t sure why but she wanted to keep the secret.

Tally’s father Bart is a drifter. Tally has lived more places than she could count. Bart left her at her grandmother’s house so that he could head to Warsaw to uncover a family secret. He would come for Tally after he found what he was looking for. But something neither of them planned on happened at her grandmother’s house.

After that unfortunate event Tally goes to temporally stay with Aunt Amanda and Uncle Neil, with their two children Chase and Delcey. Tally observes this two parented family. This is the first time for her to stay with them. Delcey isn’t crazy about sharing her room or having anything to do with her. Chase is in the same grade and they team up to do a project for school. Chase included his best friend in the mix as well. The three of them head out to learn about the Holocaust and its survivors. Chase just so happens to know two men in a nursing home they can talk to.

When Josef and Eliasz start sharing their story something is stirred in Chase and he can’t shake it. He starts to have nightmares and soon realizes that what he’s haunted by in his sleep is real. He searches for the missing pieces of his families past that will help him uncover some family secrets that have to be exposed. He could not be tortured by them anymore.

Susan once again pens a remarkable story I hadn’t expected. Her characters are believable, and talk about things you only think of, but don’t say. I truly liked how she discussed the horrific subject matter of the Holocaust, the survivors and the matter of family secrets. Which do you keep and which ones need telling no matter how painful you might think it will be to expose them. This is one very compelling story, of fighting for what is right, loving till it hurts and developing relationships that are loving and matter. I received a review copy of this book and I’m very glad I did.

Nora St.Laurent
Finding Hope Through Fiction

Bonus Review:

3.5/5 Stars

When I heard about this new novel from Susan Meissner, I was extremely excited because to me "The Shape of Mercy" is now a classic that all students who study the Crucible should also have to read. While "White Picket Fences" is a completely different type of book it is still incredible writing. For me, I would not necessarily call it a favorite, but overall as a whole (redundant I know, but making a point here) I enjoyed it. Looking at the cover of this book tells you the most of what you need to know. There is the white picket fence slats and then a spiders web weaving it's way right in. Perfectionism would make one want to get rid of the web and go back to perfection, but the artistic persona would believe that the web was part of the whole picture that made it a different kind of perfect. Really, this cover could not be more appropriate for the message within the story.

Several characters share their point of view and take the slot as the main protagonist going throughout the book. There is Amanda, the mother who realizes everything is fading from her grasp and her way of dealing seems to be to sit and watch it go. Then there is Tallulah, or Tally, the cousin that has had a roller coaster life, or at least it would seem that way to an outsider. Learning the obstacles and neat realities of her life is an adventure and really not all bad. Lastly of main people, there is Chase, the son who deals with a memory that he cannot see the entirety of and possibility seems to push him further and further to the edge.

There were times while reading that I was just ready for something to happen. While there are some action events in this novel that is not the type of novel that it is. This book is more about the inner part of a person and how things change and affect it. It is incredible the way that Susan writes and she can really get to you as a reader and challenge your own emotions and the way that you see things in your own life. So many people try to live the life of perfection and it is interesting how they react when things do not quite pan out that way. The questions and changes to the lives of the characters is not what one would expect after reading the book blurb or hearing a summary. There are psychological elements here and they are barely touched upon in the writing, but present non the less.

I personally, put this book on the keeper shelf, but recommend that when you read it to have some time available so that you can mull over just what it is that you should take from reading the novel.

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Roseanna M. White's A Stray Drop of Blood ~ Reviewed

A Stray Drop of Blood

By Roseanna M. White

December 2009

WhiteFire Publishing


Review by Michelle Griep

Beautiful is a dangerous thing to be when one is unprotected.

For seven years, Abigail has been a slave in the Visibullis house. With a Hebrew mistress and a Roman master, she has always been more family than servant…until their son returns to Jerusalem after his years in Rome. Within a few months Jason has taken her to his bed and turned her world upside down. Maybe, given time, she can come to love him as he says he loves her. But how does she open her heart to the man who ruined her?

Israel’s unrest finds a home in her bosom, but their rebellion tears apart her world. Death descends with Barabbas’s sword, and Abigail is determined to be there when the criminal is punished. But when she ventures to the trial, Barabbas is not the one the crowd calls to crucify. Instead, it is the teacher her master and Jason had begun to follow, the man from Nazareth that some call the Son of God…

Born free, made a slave, married out of her bonds, Abigail never knows freedom until she feels the fire of a stray drop of blood from a Jewish carpenter. Disowned by Israel, despised by Rome, desired by all, she never knows love until she receives the smile of a stoic Roman noble.

A Stray Drop of Blood is a fast-paced story that keeps you guessing until the very end. The unexpected plot twists and action make for an entertaining read—not your average ‘I-know-how-this-is-going-to-end’ type of tale.

One thing that author Roseanna White really nails is influencing a readers’ emotions via characterization. When main character Jason Visibullis was introduced, I took an instant dislike to the man, which rapidly turned to disgust. However, later on, White managed to completely change my opinion of him, and he became one of my favorites.

I think this is an important book because of how well it describes the plight of women. Granted, this happens to be told from a slave’s point of view, but even contemporary women will relate to the way heroine Abigail is treated. Ultimately this is a story of hope and contentment.

If you’re a lover of Biblical era novels, then this is the book for you…or a great Christmas gift for someone you know that has a Bible times penchant.


I’ve just finished A Stray Drop of Blood, I’m speechless, teary eyed, filled with wonder and know I’ve caught a glimpse of a Biblical time period in a whole new way. Roseanna White has written a masterfully crafted story with characters I grew to love and some I loathed. The people in this story have been forever embedded in my heart and mind as they learned of Jesus and finally encounter him up-close and personal. It’s an enthralling read.

I’m so thankful to have received a review copy of this astounding tale which transported me to a time where Jesus walked his final days. This book is viewed through Abigail’s eyes and her experience of being born free, sold into slavery, and all she went through because of her beauty. Reading of people, who were hearing about Jesus for the first time and seeing their reactions, was compelling and heart wrenching at times.

It was remarkable to read how Rome was ahead of its time in technology and design. What fascinated me as I read this haunting and hopeful story was that what people struggled with then, we're still dealing with today. Times have changed dramatically with technology, but with matters of the heart, nothing is new under the sun.

Roseanna takes great care in walking you through the marketplace and homes to show you colorful details of the city and its people. I truly felt I was there. I loved imagining how people might have heard about Jesus at that time. They didn’t have instant messaging, email or CNN for that matter. Word got around slowly.

Abigail said, “I am only a woman, Andrew, and a slave. I do not pretend to have the answers. But nowhere in the Holy Scripture themselves have I read or heard of a king come to triumph over nations. I have heard only of a savior come to be defeated.”

Abigail’s story is one of faith, hope, and love, nothing short of an astounding miracle for this extraordinary Jewish girl. This is one author I’ll be keeping an eye on what she writes next, you will too.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
ACFW Book Club Assistant