Thursday, January 29, 2009

Robert Liparulo's Gatekeepers (Dreamhouse Kings) ~ Reviewed

Gatekeepers (Dreamhouse Kings Series, Book 3) (Hardcover)
by Robert Liparulo
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (January 6, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595544984

Book Description:

In the third novel of this young adult series, the mystery deepens in a house that is more than meets the eye.

The Kings have been in the creepy old place, their new home, for only a few days, but they've experienced enough terror to last a lifetime. And the mystery is growing even more baffling. Shadowy and shifting, the big house conceals doors into other worlds that blur the line between memories and dreams-and the slightest misstep can change history forever.

At least, that's if they believe the trembling old man who shows up claiming to know them. "There's a reason you're in the house," he tells them. "As gatekeepers, we must make sure only those events that are supposed to happen get through to the future."

The problem is that horrors beyond description wait on the other side of those gates. As if that weren't enough, the Kings are also menaced by sinister forces on this side-like the dark, ancient stranger Taksidian, who wants them out now.

It's hard to believe that things could have gotten worse for the King family-but they have. Dad's in handcuffs, the school bully has just found the secret portal that leads from the high school to the house, and Xander is sure he's found Mom, but they can't get back to her. Then Jesse arrives, and he seems to be a virtual Obi Wan of knowledge about the place. But is he the key they need to unlock the secrets, or just a crazy old man?

Dangers are increasing from within and without when Xander makes a startling discovery that explains why they haven't found any rooms that lead to the future. Alongside the threats, though, they're also starting to find some surprising allies.
All they have to do is get organized, get psyched, and get Mom. But that isn't nearly as easy as it sounds.

Xander, David, and Toria must venture beyond the gates to save their missing mother-and discover how truly high the stakes have become.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Gatekeepers (Dreamhouse Kings #3), go HERE


The Kings have been in the creepy old place, their new home, for only a few days, but they have experienced enough terror to last a life time. And the mystery is growing baffling. Shadowy and shifty, the big house conceals doors into other worlds that blur the line between memories and dreams—and the slightest misstep can change history forever

At least, that’s if they believe the trembling old man who shows up claiming to know them. “There’s a reason you’re in this house,” he tells them. “As Gatekeepers, we must make sure only those events that are supposed to happen get through to the future.”

The problem is that horrors beyond description wait on the other side of those gates. As if that weren’t enough, the kings are also menaced by sinister forces on this side—like the dark, ancient stranger Taksidian, who wants them out now.

Xander, David, and Toria must venture beyond the gates to save their missing mother—and discover how truly high the stakes have become.

Gatekeepers is a fantastic book. As the exciting new addition to the Dreamhouse Kings series, this book is jam-packed with intensity. From the moment you start reading it, you’re stuck inside it till you finish it. If you like action, adventure, time travel, and extreme intensity, then Gatekeepers is perfect for you. This book is awesome.....eleven on a scale from one to ten.

Review by Reid, Age 12

Bonus Review:

Robert Liparulo has taken the Dreamhouse Kings to the next level. Tension keeps the pages turning. Constantly appearing bad guys keep the fingernails embedded in sore palms or clamped between the teeth. Three kids left nearly alone to figure out a mystery of a house that wants to destroy their entire family. Can they escape? Can they keep their family together?

New characters are introduced and the stakes continue to climb higher. This story series and the twists and turns are alternately unbelievable and overwhelming then cycling back to hopeful. Every chapter is soaked with adrenaline.

Adventure loving kids and adults need to look further into this series. One thing bugged me as a parent....the adults seem a little too hands off, it works, but I couldn't help struggling with the need to suspend belief in several spots.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tish Cohen's inside out girl ~ Reviewed

Inside Out Girl: A Novel
by Tish Cohen
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial (August 12, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061452955


Rachel Berman wants everything to be perfect. An overprotective single mother of two, she is acutely aware of the statistical dangers lurking around every corner—which makes her snap decision to aid a stranded motorist wholly uncharacteristic. Len Bean is stuck on the shoulder with Olivia, his relentlessly curious, learning disabled ten-year-old daughter. To the chagrin of Rachel's children, who are about to be linked to the most-mocked girl in school, Rachel and Len begin dating. And when Len receives terrible news, little Olivia needs a hero more than ever.

But the world refuses to be predictable. When personal crisis profoundly alters Rachel's relationship with a wild, very special little girl, this perfectionist mother finds herself drawn into a mystery from her past and toward a new appreciation for her own children's imperfect lives.


Character collectors are going to want to look into this novel which has character and realism that made it one of my more satisfying reads of late.

With humor and heart, Cohen fleshes out her characters into people you've run into or shared an elevator or dorm room with. In the weaving together of the satisfying story of Olivia Bean, the cast of inside out girl yanked on my hope and pulled at my compassion. Cohen writes with impressive skill. This novel is so multifaceted that could have gone sappy or morose but didn't despite a slightly too neat or maybe slightly rushed ending.

The subject matter is hard, life, death, illness, change and emotional challenges. Each character is presented as a lost person, sometimes barely functioning throughout overwhelming circumstances. The will to live and continue on resonates in Cohen's characters. I appreciated that though the themes are heavy and difficult I didn't feel jerked around emotionally. Cohen is no lightweight with prose either. Creative, strong, writing made the book a pleasure to read.

A sexual sub-plot goes to the edge of R-rated but doesn't quite get there. A smattering of F-Bombs are realistic in their usage rather than thrown in for lack of creativity. Unless you are offended by the above, I recommend this novel as a gratifying way to spend a few hours.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Monday, January 26, 2009

Mel Odom's Blood Lines ~ Reviewed

Blood Lines, NCIS Military Series #3
By: Mel Odom
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 400
Vendor: Tyndale House

Product Description:

When NCIS agent Shel McHenry discovers that his estranged father is missing, he turns to Commander Will Coburn and his Naval Criminal Investigative Science team for helps. Their investigation takes them to Vietnam, where they uncover a 40-year-old drug ring---and a murder! Is Shel's father responsible for the crime?


If Mel Odom isn’t writing the scripts for every NCIS and CSI episode on television, he should be. Blood Lines is the most visceral, over-the-top suspense novel I have read in a long time! Mel Odom can create a scene so real, you can experience his story with every one of your senses. It is truly an unbelievable experience. It goes beyond just being drawn into a story – you LIVE Mel Odom’s stories! By the time you reach the end of Blood Lines your heart and mind will be completely satisfied!

This story blends some pretty amazing and diverse story lines that range from father-son relationships to drug lords shipping heroin into the U.S.

Shel McHenry is the primary focus of the story, but his dad, Tyrel and brother Don also have key roles to play. As an NCIS officer, Shel is helping bring down a really nasty man who tried to kill a marine and his wife during a car-jacking. When things go wrong, an even greater evil is unearthed – Victor Gant. Along with Victor come ties to a past secret that has haunted the McHenry family for four decades.

As the story unfolds, Mel Odom weaves the story lines so seamlessly that it all becomes one haunting tale that moves at a break-neck pace to reach an even more haunting conclusion. And, what I loved most about this? Odom has characters with real faith woven within the story. It is not an in-your-face type of faith, but a realistic life lived before others with a solid faith taking them through the pain and heartache of living in this world. Yes, they reach out to those around them, but ultimately God is the one who comes shining through in all of His glory.

This is everything a Christian suspense/thriller should be. I am just discovering Mel Odom, and you better believe I’ll be looking for more of his books immediately! Mr. Odom is a prolific writer with a huge variety of work to choose from. I’m so very glad to have been introduced to his writing.

Reviewed by: Kim Ford

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Jerry B. Jenkins' Riven ~ Reviewed


by Jerry B. Jenkins

Paperback: 544 pages

Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers; Reprint edition (December 29, 2008)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1414309198

Product Description:

Raised in a dingy trailer park, Brady Wayne Darby has only a death sentence to show for his sad, sorry life. But when weary man of God Thomas Carey meets this no-account with nothing left to lose, the seismic wave of rebirth and redemption will shake a state---and the nation---to the core!


Jesus Paid it all!

All to Him I owe!

Sin had left a crimson stain,

He washed it white as snow!

When is the last time you wept over the wonderful work of grace Christ completed on the cross? How long has it been since you felt led to pray for the lost and had an urgency to tell others of Christ? If your spirit is longing for a fresh touch from God and a closer relationship with Christ, then you need to read Jerry B. Jenkins latest novel, Riven. You will never be the same again!

Riven takes the reader on a journey with two very different men; Thomas Carey and Brady Darby. From vastly different worlds, one a preacher and one a burned-out teen – both are struggling to find the place that they belong, and both are denied their dreams because of unfair judgment passed upon them by the opinions of others who refuse to accept them as they are. Law versus Grace and both meet with a host of disappointment time and time again. BUT, God’s ways are so much higher than ours!!

At the point that Brady Darby’s life intersects with Thomas Carey, both men are broken, wounded and struggling with doubt and unbelief. Thomas Carey knows he is God’s servant, but his lack of impact upon the lives of the inmates he serves as the supermax prison chaplain has him in the grip of depression and doubt. Brady Darby, knows he deserves death for his crime, but struggles with the fact that he faces eternity in hell. When Thomas is obedient to God and shares the gospel with Brady, God opens the doors of heaven and pours out His blessing in the most profound and unusual way you can imagine! The results are incredible and eternal!

I cannot begin to express to you the deep impact this book has made upon my heart! Although I have read many great books this past year, Riven is by far the most powerful, most beautiful, most heart-felt story of them all!! EVERYONE should read this book! Look upon the cross with fresh understanding, renewed hope and glorious praise for all that Christ has done to redeem sinners!!
READ THIS BOOK!!! Your life will be forever changed!!!

Reviewed by: Kim Ford

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Kaye Dacus' Stand-In-Groom ~ Reviewed

Stand-in Groom (Brides of Bonneterre, Book 1)
by Kaye Dacus
Paperback: 299 pages
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc (January 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602602883

Book Description:

When wedding planner Anne Hawthorne meets George Laurence, she thinks she's found the man of her dreams. But when he turns out to be a client, her "dream" quickly turns into a nightmare.

Will Anne risk her heart and career on this engaging Englishman?

George came to Louisiana to plan his employer's wedding and pose as the groom. But how can he feign affection for a supposed fiancee when he's so achingly attracted to the wedding planner?

And what will happen when Anne discovers his role has been Stand-In Groom only?

Will she ever trust George again? Can God help these two believers find a happy ending?

You can read the first chapter, here.


Stand-In Groom is a story about miscommunication magnified! Romance has never been so confusing or so complicated!

Anne Hawthorn is a very sought after professional wedding planner. Her devotion to meeting her clients’ every need and making sure that their weddings are dream-come-true events is unmatched. During an unusually busy wedding season, she meets a couple who appear very out of sync…he’s too old for her, and she seems oddly detached from her soon-to-be husband. If that wasn’t disturbing enough, Anne finds herself extremely attracted to the groom. Little does she know…he finds her attractive too.

And herein lies the problem. See, the groom isn’t really the groom. George is simply standing in for the real groom because he’s a bit too famous and busy to bother about wedding plans. A nifty little confidentiality clause in the legal contract keeps everyone hush-hush. While underneath….the lawyer handling the legalities of the wedding (also Anne’s cousin) knows who the real groom is, and doesn’t want Anne to know. Why? Well, that’s another complicated twist to things. And then the poor stand-in groom, George winds up misunderstood every time he turns around!

Anne has to go to some pretty extreme measures to get to the bottom of this mess, and you will not believe what she finds there! I’m worn out reading this story! If you enjoy romance with more twists and turns than a roller-coaster, Kaye Dacus’ Stand-In Groom is exactly what you’ve been looking for!
Reviewed by: Kim Ford

Bonus Review:

Stand-in Groom is a unique story that is full of humor, angst and Southern flair.

Kaye Dacus has thrown a proper Englishman into the heart of Louisiana with a wedding planner, her large family, and her very bruised heart. Wedding details, delicious scents, and a healthy serving of Dino and Frank fill the book, too.

If you love stories that throw obstacles at the couple you know should be together, and you love the idea of weddings and details involved in weddings, or delight in Southern fiction, romance or Englishmen then check out Stand-In-Groom.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Bonus Review:

This is quite the romance. Some could call it predictable, but I would not necessarily say that because one could not foresee all the twists and turns that are to occur before the outcome. I only think people will predict how they want it to end and just assume they will get it right. As I have said dozens of times before, I am not much a fan of contemporary romances, but I liked this one. That said, I did not necessarily love it. But I think that is because my heart is just stronger in the realm of historical fiction. (Definitely recommend Kaye Dacus' historical series The Ransome Trilogy!!)

Some elements of a large family and good food were parts of this story that I am not used to reading in a book that I quite enjoyed. As well as imagining the scenes and hearing the British or Southern accents play through in the characters vernacular. This is my first contemporary experience with reading this author and it will not be my last. I do recommend this book, and look forward to reading the sequel soon in a few days.

Things happen in life to get you where you need to be, and the hardest part is dealing with a painful event and believing that you will get past it. God knows what he is doing, and the part to remember is that things are best in his time and not in our own. I feel very uplifted from this book and the characters experiences. It makes me think over things from my own past and see more of God in them than I ever would have realized at the time.

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Monday, January 19, 2009

Julie Klassen's The Apothecary's Daughter ~ Reviewed

The Apothecary’s Daughter
By Julie Klassen
Bethany Publishers
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0480-7

Lilly Haswell remembers everything—whether she wants to, or not. As Lilly toils in her father’s apothecary shop, preparing herbs and remedies by rote, she is haunted by memories of her mother’s disappearance. Villagers whisper the tale, but her father refuses to discuss it. All the while, she dreams of the world beyond—of travel and adventure and romance.

When a relative offers to host her in London, Lilly discovers the pleasures and pitfalls of fashionable society and suitors, as well as clues about her mother. But will Lilly find what she is searching for—the truth of the past and a love for the future?

Once again, author Julie Klassen delivers a satisfying historical account with plenty of twists and meted out information to make you want to read just one more chapter. Her characters carry a Dickens’ flavor as does the small village of Bedsley Priors. If you’re looking for a visit to merry Olde England, this is the book for you.

What I appreciated most about heroine Lilly Haswell is that she is presented so realistically. She fights with self-doubt and second-guessing, especially when trying to make a decision. Life’s choices are rarely uncomplicated and neither are the choices Lily must make.

Another thing I really enjoyed is the way Klassen refrained from revealing too many clues as to which man Lilly would eventually wed. So often in a story this is made apparent all too soon. She left the reader to wonder, allowing for more of a connection to the characters and upping the tension.

As expected, Klassen’s research into the era not only entertains but educates as well. You’ll come away with a wealth of knowledge about the medical profession of the time, and way more than you likely ever wanted to know about leeches.

The Apothecary’s Daughter is a five-star read. If you liked Klassen’s first book. The Lady of Milkweed Manor, then you’ll be sure to love this story just as much. And I, for one, am anxious to see what will next be traveling down the pipeline from Julie Klassen.

Reviewed by: Michelle Griep

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Ted Dekker's Sinner ~ Reviewed

Sinner: A Paradise Novel (The Books of History Chronicles)
by Ted Dekker
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (September 2, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595540083

Product Description

Some say roll with the punches. Drift with the tide. Nothing can stop the inevitability of change. There was a time when 300 Spartans disagreed with such mindless thinking and stood in the gap.

Now it's time for 3,000 to stand in the gap.

Sinner is the story of Marsuvees Black, a force of raw evil who speaks with wicked persuasion that is far more destructive than swords or guns. Beware all who stand in his way.

It's also the story of Billy Rediger and Darcy Lange, two unsuspecting survivors of a research project gone bad, who discover that they are perhaps the two most powerful souls in the land. Listen to them or pay a terrible price.

And it's the story of Johnny Drake, the one who comes out of the desert and leads the 3,000. Follow him and die.

Sinner tells the story of a free land where people who worship as they please and say what they believe are suddenly silenced in the name of tolerance.


“Half of what you think you know has been subjected to deception. You think you know so much about what matters: we all do. But we’re blind to the real issue facing us. We’ve been sold a magic trick.” (p. 125)

The Circle Trilogy, Showdown, Saint, The Lost Books series…and now Sinner. The story began several years ago when a present day man found himself transported to another place and time, fighting a war against evil in two worlds. Then readers were introduced to the town of Paradise, Colorado and evil took on an even deadlier form…birthed from the Lost Books found in a monastery. Another world reopened and went even further back into the histories when The Lost Book series was introduced. All along the way Ted Dekker has celebrated the wondrous gift of God’s son and His redeeming blood shed for us upon the Cross. Now the Great Love Affair has come full circle with Sinner.

Ted Dekker is trumpeting the TRUTH of God’s word as powerfully and effectively as his character Johnny Drake called believers to Paradise, Colorodo. As Christians, we are all called to be light in this very dark world. Dekker’s novel, Sinner, dramatically portrays the war that Christians will face until Christ’s return as the “religious” tolerant shout foul and spew their lies about true Christianity.

The day has come – we are living within it – when good is called evil and evil called good. Ted Dekker has used his skillful writing and poured all of the basic truths of the Gospel into a thriller that will stay with you long after the final page. What makes it so powerful?

In a real sense, it’s not really fiction. Brilliant, Ted Dekker. Simply Brilliant.

“Remember the darkness and remember that it is dispelled by the light,” he said to them. “Hold your children close. Love your wives. And pray, Paradise. Pray that the light will illuminate the world.” (p. 248)

Reviewed by: Kim Ford

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sharlene MacLaren's Long Journey Home~Reviewed

Long Journey Home
By Sharlene MacLaren
Published by Whitaker House
339 pages

Back Cover:

After divorcing her abusive husband, single mother Callie May is still nursing the scars of a painful past. The last thing she needs in her life is another man, so she's less than thrilled when a handsome but brooding stranger moves into the apartment across the hall.

Dan Mattson may be attractive, but his circumstances certainly aren't: a former church pastor, he abandoned his flock in Michigan and fled to the Chicago suburbs after the death of his beloved wife and baby daughter in a tragic automobile accident. Embittered by his loss, Dan turns his back on God.

Callie mistrusts men, and the angry Dan often gives her good reason to. Both are weighed down by the scars and disappointment in their pasts. When Callie's ex-husband shows up to wreak more havoc in her life, Dan finds himself coming to her defense - and facing his own demons in the process. Will Dan and Callie be able to get past their baggage and take a chance on love again? Can they come to see life's apparent tragedies as part of God's perfect plan? Can the power of God change their hearts and mend their hurts?


Sharlene MacLaren takes a serious, and sometimes funny look at Callie and Dan's struggles. What happens after a divorce, the death of a dream or having been abused? How do you handle your life when it suddenly falls apart? Dan struggles with his call in life. He wonders what this life is all about - and he's a pastor!! How do you cope with the death of a spouse or child?

Sharlene really tackles these tough questions with an honest approach. I like that about this book. I also liked the fact that she didn't have 'pat' answers, but had both characters really search their souls for answers. MacLaren charges Callie and Dan to answer such pondering questions like 'Why are we here in the first place?', 'What is life about anyway?' and 'Do I believe what I have read in the bible or is it all just a joke?'

This is the first book I have read by this author. I will definitely check out her other books.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent -ACFW Book Club Assistant

Monday, January 12, 2009

Karen Kingsbury's This Side of Heaven ~ Reviewed

This Side of Heaven
by Karen Kingsbury
Published by Center Street - Hachette Group
ISBN# 978-1-59995-678-7
328 Pages

Back Cover: Annie Warren never dreamed her son, Josh, was a hero until a tragedy reveals what years of separation had hidden from her.

Savannah---Josh's 8-year-old daughter---is another shock. She lives with her drug-addicted mother on New York's streets---until Maria smells money. In defending Josh's good name and inheritance, will Annie discover a true treasure? Annie might find a treasure more valuable than money, one she never expected, one that is the greatest gift her son could ever give her--THIS SIDE OF HEAVEN.


How do we determine who is successful in life? Is success measured by your career choice or how much money you have in the bank? That's how Annie Warren has judged her son's life. He didn't finish college and was driving a truck and towing cars for a living. What good could come from that she thought? Annie knew Josh was smart and he could do anything, so why did he choose this line of work? Then there was Savannah, a little girl Jopsh thought was his. Annie could not accept that one. She knew the story behind that little adventure and there was no way Josh fathered that child.

Then the unthinkable happens. Annie starts to re-evaluate what is really important in life. She gets a new measuring stick to determine what makes someone successful in life. She has missed many magical moments with her children, because she didn't really take the time to listen to what they had to say. She was very busy at just being busy!

Savannah is a girl that is in search of love and the "Prince Charming" daddy her mother has told her about. A daddy that loved her and would take care of her. Maria, Savannah's mother, was tired of being a mother. She told Savannah that she was ready to drop her off at Social Services any day now. Neither one of them needed to live like they were. Savannah didn't want to be a bother to her mother. If her mom would just let her live with her daddy, things would be ok.

Karen Kingsbury says in the author notes, this story is loosely based on her brother Dave's life, and the pain that he endured. She said her brother "developed a craving for God and His word, once he found the joy of singing worship songs to the Creator of the universe, Dave no longer talked about his pain. Oh, it was still there, I'm certain of that. But it no longer defined him the way his faith and hope for the future defined him."

Karen's statement describes what the main character Josh, experienced in this book. Josh's theme song was "I can only Imagine" by Mercy Me. Josh discovers God in a whole new way. A way which helps him deal with the tremendous physical pain that he's had since the car accident. He discovers the hope and peace that only the Lord can give him in the middle of a storm.

Karen shares her heart that the end of this book. It really tied things up for me and made me appreciate her so much more as a person living out this Christian life. She is a woman after God's own heart. Thank you Karen, for sharing your story.

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

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Jennifer Erin Valent's Fireflies in December ~ Reviewed

Fireflies in December
By Jennifer Erin Valent
Published by Tyndale
ISBN# 978-1-4143-2432-6 277

Back Cover:

"The summer I turned 13, I thought I killed a man." So begins the story of Jessilyn Lasiter, a young girl who never knew that hatred could lurk in the human heart until she turned thirteen in the summer of 1932.

When her best friend Gemma, loses her parents in a tragic fire, Jessilyn's father vows to care for her as one of his own,
despite the fact that Gemma is black and prejudice is prevalent in their southern Virginia town.

Violence springs up as a ragtag band of Klu Klux Klan members unite and decide to take matters into their own hands. As tensions mount in the small community, loyalties are tested and Jessilyn is forced to say goodbye to the carefree days of her youth.

I love the fresh voice of this powerful book. Author Jennifer Erin Valent takes you right into the world of Jessilyn from the very first sentence. Here it is, "The summer I turned 13, I thought I killed a man." That did it!! I was hooked and could not put this book down.

The story is told through the eyes of 13 year old Jessilyn, who is one curious, spunky girl. She reminds me of Curious George and how he got into so much trouble because he was just plain curious. Jessilyn made me nervous as she would get herself into so many things, just by being so curious. I loved how she talked things over with her best friend Gemma. Those two would go round and round. It usually made me laugh at their perspective on life!

I want to give you a little glimpse into Jessilyn's voice and her outlook on how things are. "If there was anything I know about the South, it was that everything in the South was slow. People ate slow, talked slow and walked slow. Heck, they even thought slow." Jessilyn just cracks me up with the innocence of the way she thinks. I just grew to love Jessily and her friend Gemma in this book.

This story shows you a slice of life in the summer of 1932, when segregation was enforced and the Klu Klux Klan was raging. It was a real eye-opener. I wasn't raised like this, so I can't imagine living this way every day. Jessilyn grows up really quick this summer when she realizes for the first time the battles that are raging around her.
Although this is Jennifer's first book, you don't want to miss the chance to read it! Wow! I can't wait to read what she writes next.

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

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Tiffany Warren's The Bishop's Daughter ~ Reviewed

The Bishop's Daughter
by Tiffany L. Warren
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pub. Date: January 2009
ISBN-13: 9780446195140

Back Cover:

From the author of "What a Sista Should Do", comes a heartfelt novel about a journalist and a not-so-perfect woman who find love and are torn by decisions that could affect her family and his career in "The Bishop's Daughter".

Darrin Bainbridge is your typical playboy, in need of love but not yet ready. A struggling freelance journalist, Darrin is trying to break his big story, and after a visit from his mother Darrin gets an idea. He has heard all kinds of stories about "Hollywood" ministers who hold their church services on television, live in nice houses, drive nice cars, and have lots of money and women. Darrin is disgusted by it all and intends on exposing Atlanta Bishop Kumal Prentiss whom his mother praises. However, Darrin never planned on finding himself torn between his newfound friend and his possible big break.


This was a refreshing, enjoyable and funny, yet honest story that I really enjoyed. Darrin Bainbridge is a man living life large. He's so full of himself and can't get enough of women. He doesn't want to get tied to anyone. He wants to enjoy them all. He's trying to prove to himself and his father that he is a writer so he doesn't have to work at his father's company - which is the last thing Darrin wants to do! But Darrin is running out of time and money. He has to get this big break soon so his rich father will keep paying his bills. Darrin gets an idea when he sees Bishop Kumal Prentiss on TV one day. Investigative reporting - that would be his big break. He will MAKE this happen one way or the other and Bishop Kumal was his ticket to the big time.

Little did Darrin know what was in store for him when he meets the Bishop. He didn't expect to meet the REAL DEAL. A man after God's own heart, a man that lives what he preaches and a man that lives within his means. This turns Darrin's world upside down. This wasn't supposed to be happening yet it was. He starts to notice the Bishop's daughter and she notices him. He has to stay far away from that girl; she was marriage material and he didn't want any part of that.

I appreciated the authors honesty in how she portrayed Darrin a man struggling with life on his own, making a name for himself and not wanting to need his father or his money. I also appreciate the honest approach to how Darrin responded to Bishop Prentiss and all the confusion he felt in listening to the preaching of the word. Darrin struggled with his feelings and what God was calling him to do. This is a
great story that illustrates the verse Romans 7:17 " is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me....For I have the desire to do what is good, but I can't carry it out." (by myself - we need God - scripture goes on to emphasis that). I loved Tiffany's portrayal of real people struggling with doing the right thing.

This is the first book that I have read by Tiffany and it won't be the last.

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

Monday, January 05, 2009

Denise Hunter's Sweetwater Gap ~ Reviewed

Sweetwater Gap
by Denise Hunter
Published by Thomas Nelson
309 Pages

Back Cover:

A story of love and second chances. She wished she could go back and change things...but life doesn't give you do-overs. Could anything but good-byes be waiting on the other side of Sweetwater gap?

Josie Mitchell's sister, Laurel, thinks she's come home to pitch in with the apple harvest and save the family orchard. Her brother-in-law, Nate, thinks she's there to talk the overworked, very pregnant Laurel into finally selling the family business. The orchards new manager, Grady Mackenzie, just thinks she's trouble with a capital "T". They're all right...and all wrong. Because no one really knows what drove Josie from home in the first place. Why she's never come home before, even for her own father's funeral. Why she pushes herself so hard...and surprising new fruit she'll find on her last trip home.


Vows we make as children will run our lives if we let it. It's hard as a child to grasp the bigger things in life and not blame ourselves for things we don't fully understand. Denise Hunter takes a look at guilt. She says, "Guilt is a complicated emotion that can affect the things we do and our relationships with those we love." Christ wants to give us peace and set us free from our guilt. Through Christ we can be redeemed.

Josie reluctantly goes to help her very pregnant sister, Laurel, and Nate, her brother-in-law, to pick the apple harvest one last time. She hasn't been home in a long time. Not since the accident. Here sister Laurel was having complications with the pregnancy and needed to take care of herself; that was the only reason she was there. As soon as the harvest was over and Laurel's baby was born, she was gone. There were too many bad memories and more guilt than she could stand in this place. Then she met Grady. That guy just grated on her nerves. She was going to avoid him at all costs. She didn't need a guy to complicate her life. She was doing just fine, thank you very much! Who was she kidding? She had hoped everyone was buying this act of hers. Problem was, even she was having a hard time keeping up this front. PEACE!?! Grady says that God wants to love her through all her bad times - that He wants her to find peace!! Josie doesn't think she deserves peace. Could she stop fighting herself and surrender? What was the worst thing that could happen to her? What she has been doing lately really wasn't working and everyone was beginning to notice.

I really was drawn into the way Denise Hunter tackled the subject of guilt and self-worth in this story. Also, the fact that we don't have to be worthy to receive the greatest gift of all - God's love. Hunter takes us on Josie's journey as she realizes that she is ready to receive the love that God wants to give her. This is a story that will definitely touch your heart and give you hope.

I haven't read anything else by Denise Hunter, but I'm definitely going to check out her other stories, Surrender Bay and The Convenient Groom.

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

Friday, January 02, 2009

ACFW January Book Releases

A new year! So much to look forward to, so much promise! We've got 14 new releases to start us off on 2009's adventure. Check them out - and don't forget to visit my new Spotlight interview with author Lisa Harris.

1. Bayou Betrayal, Book 5 of the Bayou series by Robin Caroll from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. When a woman arrives in town to meet her relatives, an arsonist doesn't want her to stay!

2. Be Strong and Curvaceous, All About Us #3 by Shelley Adina from Hachette FaithWords. Carly Aragon's faith is tested when she takes on a crush crasher who comes accessorized with a stalker.

3. Before the Season Ends, Lights of London, Book One by Linore Rose Burkard from Harvest House. A Christian young woman must make her way through the treacherous waters of a Regency Season in London; while her worldly, wealthy aunt tries to marry her off for money.

4. Cursebreaker, Book One of The Order of the Scrolls Series by Nancy Wentz from Whitaker House. Author Nancy Wentz's drama unfolds in both the physical and spiritual realms, treating the reader to a thrilling tale of mystery, passion, and historical intrigue.

5. Fireflies In December by Jennifer Erin Valent from Tyndale House. A young girl comes of age amidst the racial prejudice of Depression-era Virginia.

6. Hannah Grace, The Daughters of Jacob Kane by Sharlene MacLaren from Whitaker House. A new century, a new sheriff, a new love...many things are about to change in the town of Sandy Shores.

7. Kiriath's Quest by Rick Barry from JourneyForth Books (a division of BJU Press). A YA Christian fantasy adventure that reaffirms the value of faith, family, love and loyalty.

8. Milk Money by Cecelia Dowdy from Barbour Publishing (Heartsong Presents). Can Frank find faith in Jesus, while battling alcoholism, as he seeks the love of Emily Cooper?

9. Mommy's Hometown Hero, Dalton Brothers Book 2 by Merrillee Whren from Steeple Hill. Ex-soldier Matt Dalton wants to bring his friend Rachel Charbonneau back to the Lord and win her heart as well.

10. No Place For A Lady, Heart Of The West Book One by Maggie Brendan from Revell. Can a Southern belle tame the heart of a rugged cowboy?

11. Paper Roses, Texas Dreams #1 by Amanda Cabot from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. There's only one problem when mail-order bride Sarah Dobbs arrives in Texas to greet her groom: he's been murdered.

12. Sweetwater Gap, (Women of Faith Fiction) by Denise Hunter from Thomas Nelson. A woman returns home to help save her family's apple orchard and must face the ghosts that chased her away so many years ago.

13. The Edge of Light, Book One in the At Home in Beldon Grove Series by Ann Shorey from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. It's 1838 on the Missouri frontier--how will Molly McGarvie keep her young family together after her husband's sudden death?

14. What Sarah Saw, Book One, Without a Trace Love Inspired Suspense continuity series by Margaret Daley from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. The tragic conclusion to a kidnapping case broke Sam and Jocelyn apart, but for a child's sake they must join forces to uncover what Sarah saw.

Happy reading ~