Friday, May 29, 2009

Candace Calvert's Critical Care ~ Reviewed

Critical Care
By Candace Calvert
Published by Tyndale
ISBN# 978-1-4143-3543-9
293 Pages

Back Cover:

After her brother dies in a trauma room, nurse Claire Avery can no longer face the ER. She’s determined to make a fresh start—new hospital, new career in nursing education—move forward, no turning back. But her plans fall apart when she’s called to offer stress counseling for medical staff after a heartbreaking day care center explosion. Worse, she’s forced back to the ER, where she clashes with Logan Caldwell, a doctor who believes touchy—feely counseling is a waste of time. He demands his staff be as tough as he is. Yet he finds himself drawn to this nurse educator…who just might teach him the true meaning of healing.


This book reminds me of ER the TV show and/or Grey’s Anatomy without all the sexual content. The author, Candace Calvert, was an ER nurse. She takes you into the heart of the Emergency Room drama where hurting people are brought for help; where decisions are made to save a life from death.

Nurses and Doctors are real people working hard, trying to do the best job they can under very stressful conditions. Not everyone is cut out for the stress level of the ER room.

Logan, whose head of ER says to a nurse in his dept; “This is what we do, Erin. Tough comes with the territory. And death is always a factor. Do you see me crumbling here? The only kind of help we need here is more staff, more warm bodies. Real nurses. Not administrations’ attempt at some touchy—feely counseling.”

Sarah says to Claire, “I’m a nurse… I do what needs to be done. Then I come back the next day and I do it all again. Except for those lucky days when I get to do it for two shifts in a row… that’s today.”

Claire Avery has this to say about her struggle about working in ER, “… couldn’t shake the irrational certainty that the very new ambulance stretcher would be carrying someone she loved, some one she’d be unable to save…”

Where does God fit in all of this? Many of the characters in the ER are asking themselves that very question. Logan says, “What was he supposed to do when everything around him tumbled into chaos? Pray? Let God handle it? Right! “He couldn’t do that.

Then there is the humorous side of ER. Erin the head nurse says this to her nurses, “I’m giving myself permission to feel lousy to the tune of a Zillion calories. Anyone what to join me?” Sometimes you just have to laugh.

Candace gives you a behind the scenes look from her perspective as an ER nurse - its eye opening! Nurses are not perfect they are real people with real struggles, who put themselves on the line to save lives every day. Often times it’s a thankless job that demands more than they have to give. I really loved how the author shows real people struggling with God even in the face of death.

This is such an action packed, heart-felt, really gripping story. I just couldn’t put it down. It’s not easy for a Dr. to give family the heads up about their loved ones condition in the hospital. Not every story has a happy ending.

I really look forward to more stories from Critical Care unit. You will to.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
Book Club Servant Leader

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Brenda Janowitz's Jack With a Twist ~ Reviewed

Jack With A Twist
by Brenda Janowitz
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Red Dress Ink (June 24, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0373895550

Book Description:

Planning a wedding can be a trying experience…
A little prewedding anxiety is normal for every bride, and Manhattan attorney Brooke Miller isn't worried. She's got the loving support of the world's greatest guy, so planning her nuptials should be a piece of cake.

But that was yesterday.

Today, Brooke's landed her first big case and has just discovered that the opposing attorney is none other than her fiancé, Jack. But that's okay. These two professionals aren't going to let a little courtroom sparring get their legal briefs in a bunch.… Right? Wrong! Now Jack's pulling every dirty trick in the law books, and Brooke's starting to suspect that maybe he isn't the man she thought he was. Warring with her fiancé at work and at home, Brooke realizes that she'll have to choose between the case of her life, or actually having a life.


Charming voice, fun characters, crazy scenarios…exactly what I want in my chick-lit.

Brooke takes on her fiancé and his parents, her parents and a few assorted other characters in an attempt to dominate in a legal battle, get what she wants for her wedding gala, and still appear to be a sweet, glowing and enviable bride.

Is that too much to ask? Surely you don’t know Brooke if you think it is.

Reads a bit like a blend of fashion magazine, Idiot’s Guide to a Trial, gossip rag, young Jewish New Yorker’s guide to wedding kosherosity and angsty diary. Fun. Fun. Fun.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Eva Marie Everson's Things Left Unspoken ~ Reviewed

Things Left Unspoken
By Eva Marie Everson
Published by Revell
ISBN 978-0-8007-3273-8

Every family--and every house--has its secrets.

Jo-Lynn Hunter is at a crossroads in life when her great-aunt Stella insists that she return home to restore the old family manse in sleepy Cottonwood, Georgia. Jo-Lynn longs to get her teeth into a noteworthy and satisfying project. And it's the perfect excuse for some therapeutic time away from her self-absorbed husband and his snobby Atlanta friends.

Beneath the dust and the peeling wallpaper, things are not what they seem, and what Jo-Lynn doesn't know about her family holds just as many surprises. Was her great-grandfather the pillar of the community she thought he was? What is Aunt Stella hiding? And will her own marriage survive the renovation?

Jo-Lynn isn't sure she wants to know the truth--but sometimes the truth has a way of making itself known.


I emailed Eva when I first started reading Things Left Unspoken, and she asked me what I thought of the book. Reading it was like sitting down with a good friend, listening to her reveal a family secret. When I read what Ann Tatlock said that she didn't read it but lived it, I thought that says it best.

Eva has a lyrical voice in writing, one that sings a haunting melody. You know the kind. They're the ones that linger, playing through your mind. Things Left Unspoken and the characters within will remain with you long after you turn the last page.

As the blurb on the back of the book says: Every family--and every house--has its secrets, these secrets may just surprise you with unexpected twists. Eva Marie has indeed grown into adulthood, writing-wise. I'm looking forward to the next book in her Southern series.

Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan

Monday, May 25, 2009

Mark Mynheir's Night Watchman ~ Reviewed

The Night Watchman (Ray Quinn Series, Book 1) (Paperback)
by Mark Mynheir
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Multnomah Books (May 5, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1590529359

Book Description:

Ray Quinn is a tough, quick-witted homicide detective in love with his partner, Trisha Willis. She gives Ray something to live for—something to hope in. Until a barrage of bullets leaves Trisha murdered and Ray crippled.

Struggling with his new physical disability and severe depression, Quinn turns to whiskey, scorn, and a job as a night watchman to numb the pain. But when a pastor and dancer are found dead in an apparent murder-suicide, the pastor’s sister approaches Quinn for help.

Reluctantly, Quinn takes the case and is plunged into the perilous Orlando. Soon he discovers that, not only was the pastor murdered, but the case may be linked to his and Trisha’s ambush. Torn between seeking revenge or responsibility, Quinn is thrust into the case of his life.

Author Mark Mynheir gives readers his most profound police thriller to date with The Night Watchman(first book in The Night Watchman Private Detective Agency Series). Readers of all ages will devour this gripping murder mystery that bristles with tension and intrigue. In a taut cop-style all his own, Mynheir delivers an inside look at the thoughts, feelings, fears, and challenges police officers experience while investigating violent crimes and the lost souls who commit them.


I love that Mynheir is a real-life detective. His latest novel contains a bit of teaching element as his anti-hero, Ray Quinn, schools the ultimate anti-hero Crevis Creighton on the details of real life crime solving vs. what you see on television.

Ray’s best friend, Jim, lives with him and helps his deal with pain from a recent debilitating shooting and the death of his partner. Jim helps with the aftermath of the forced retirement, the new job as night watchmen, and chronic physical pain. Unfortunately, that friend, Jim, is Jim Beam of the whiskey family and Ray is not dealing well at all.

While going through the motions and countless Sudoku puzzles at a small apartment building, Ray spends his down time avoiding Crevis or sending him on wild goose chases. Until a body is discovered, and Ray finds himself in the midst of a tangled mess that is hard to resist.

The mystery is satisfying. Plenty of humor and quirk. A solid but not overdone faith thread runs throughout the novel. Loads of police procedure but not overly technical. Mynheir has a solid and engaging voice.

I love Ray and Crevis and hope to see much more of them in future books.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Friday, May 22, 2009

Lis Wiehl's/April Henry's Face of Betrayal ~ Reviewed

By Lis Wiehl w/April Henry
Published by Thomas Nelson
310 Pages

Back Cover:

Fox News legal correspondent and former Federal Prosecutor Lis Wiehl has created a suspense novel that's as timely as tomorrow's headlines.

While home on Christmas break, a seventeen-year-old Senate page takes her dog out for a walk and never returns. Reporter Cassidy Shaw is the first to break the story.

The resulting media firestorm quickly ensnares Federal Prosecutor Allison Pierce and FBI Special Agent Nicole Hedges. The three unique women are life-long friends who call themselves The Triple Threat--a nickname derived from their favorite dessert and their uncanny ability to crack cases via their three positions of power.
Though authorities think Katie might have been kidnapped or run away, those theories shatter when Nicole uncovers Katie's blog. They reveal a girl troubled by a mysterious relationship with an older man. Possibly a U.S. Senator.

As the three women race against time to find Katie alive, their increasing emotional involvement brings out their own inner demons and external enemies. There are many faces of betrayal, but they must find one face in a crowd of growing suspects before they become the next victims.

In Face of Betrayal, Lis Wiehl's expertise in law, politics, and criminal investigation merges with April Henry's narrative genius to create a gripping mystery filled with rich characters, real danger, and a shocking yet satisfying final twist.


Move beyond the cover of this book and discover a story taken from today’s headlines. Who better to tell this story than author Lis Wiehl. Her father was an FBI agent, she was a prosecuting attorney and news anchor woman on TV.

The story is set up very much like the TV show Law and Order, I loved that. At the top of each chapter, the location and date are given to set up the scene before you start reading. What I enjoyed most about this story is the Triple Threat club whose members include Nic, is a single black mom who works for the FBI, Cassidy, who is a news reporter striving to achieve an anchor position at her station, and last but not least is Allison, the prosecuting attorney who is professing to be a Christian.

Here’s what Cassidy has to say about religion, “I don’t think there’s only one answer, like Allison. And I don’t think there are no answers, like you do, Nic. You won’t admit that there are things we can’t see to touch, but that still exist. You don’t leave any room for magic or serendipity.”

Here’s Nicole’s spin on life, “I believe if you think the universe is looking out for you or that God is watching over you or whatever, then life’s going to come around and bite you in the butt…”

It’s fascinating to see this team work and socialize together at their Triple Threat club meetings. What intrigued me about this book was the behind the scenes look at TV news from the other side of the camera. For example:

“The media can be on your side,” Nic said, “but you have to be careful. Because finding Katie isn’t their priority.”

“Ratings… are their top priority,” Valerie said flatly.

Nic nodded, …”Right. So, if they can turn your life upside down and shake out some scandal, they’ll do it. Anything for a new angle. Thanks to the Internet and CNN, we live in a twenty-four-hour news cycle. The only problem is that there aren’t twenty-four-hours’ worth of news. So, if there isn’t anything new, they have to make something up.”

Lis takes you through the process of how the FBI starts an investigation and how they get their clues in a case. Also how they determine which leads are legit and which are bogus. I will tell you that the forensic side of this story was not too detailed but it did creep me out a little. Although I found the forensic conclusions about the victim’s death fascinating.

The Triple Threat club is a female crime fighting team, one I’ll want to read more of. I liked the way Lis Wiehl stays on the edge of not being too graphic with this true to life story. The author shows just enough of what each of these women go through and see day-in and day-out, to grip your emotions and then move on. I loved the insight this book gave me and how the author describes real women I’d like to meet. You will too, I’m excited about the next installment of this series called Hand of Fate.

Reviewed by: Nora StLaurent -Book Club Servant Leader

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Kathleen Y'Barbo's Beloved Counterfeit ~ Reviewed

Beloved Counterfeit: Fairweather Keys Series #3
by Kathleen Y'Barbo
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc (May 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602603421

Book Description:

When the less-than-reputable Ruby O'Shea washes up on the shores of Fairweather Key, she's determined to bury her past and make a new life for herself and her three nieces. But doing so will entail secrecy and deception. Is that any way to start anew? When Micah Take, a wrecker, widoer and soon-to-be preacher, falls for Ruby, it seems a wedding is certain and her past uninportant. But as Ruby's secrets are uncovered, Micah finds himself falling short of the grace of forgiveness. Will Micah abandon the heart that God has won? Or will he stand by his woman against all odds?

Rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I was in college, I had a conversation with a friend about how I knew God had forgiven me for my sins, but for some things it would take me longer to forgive myself. He responded that by refusing to forgive myself once God had forgiven me was as if I were saying that God's forgiveness was not enough. That is something that has stuck with me for many years, and probably will for years to come. The point in that message of forgiveness and moving forward with a clean slate is what "Beloved Counterfeit" is all about using the key scripture of Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be of scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

This book is the third in the Fairweather Key series. It can be read alone, or as I did out of order, and when you go back to read the others it will be like learning deeper into a character's heart and past. Having read one, as a reader one will definitely want to experience the others. The main characters have a lot to learn about each other as well as themselves. This is a story about forgiveness, real forgive and forget forgiveness and going forward in life. It may be a message easily taught, but an even more difficult one to live.

I highly recommend this series and cannot wait to read more from Barbour and especially Kathleen Y'Barbo in the future.

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sibella Giorello's The Rivers Run Dry ~ Reviewed

The Rivers Run Dry (Paperback)
by Sibella Giorello
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (March 3, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595545336

Back Cover:

When a routine case turns deadly, forensic geologist Raleigh Harmon finds her career on the rocks and her life at stake.

Special Agent Raleigh Harmon is good at her job, but not as good at bureau politics. As one of the few females on the team, she finds herself in a strange land when she's transferred from Richmond to drought-stricken Seattle. When a hiker suddenly goes missing and a ransom note arrives, Raleigh realizes there's no time for transitions. Vowing to find the missing college girl, she must rely on her forensic geology skills to uncover the truth, leaving no stone unturned.

Gritty and poetic, with an evocative sense of place, a quirky cast of characters, a fast-twisting plot, and a compelling, complicated heroine, this superbly crafted mystery will keep you reading compulsively as hope runs short, the clock runs down, and the rivers run dry.


“The day was bright, with clouds high and distant as wisps, and I decided the best way to deal with weather in the Northwest was to remember mood swings of a manic depressive.” (p. 87)

Sibella Giorello’s name is as exotic as her writing style. The word-pictures she paints in a reader’s mind are crisp – almost tangible. You can hear, feel, see, smell and taste everything taking place in the life of one very intelligent, very tough-as-nails FBI agent named Raleigh Harmon. Readers who enjoy suspense-filled mysteries…look no further! Sibella Giorello’s Raleigh Harmon series is top of the line entertainment in every way!

The rivers run dry is the second novel in the Raleigh Harmon series as well as Giorello’s second published full-length novel. She won a Christy award for her first novel, The Stones Cry Out, and I guarantee you it will be the first of many awards for this very talented writer! Raleigh Harmon is a fictional character that I admired immediately! Her faith has been tried by fire and has come through tougher and stronger than ever. Her relationship with God is more real than any human connection, yet she carries it in her heart as naturally as she carries the Glock strapped to her waist. Her intelligent, witty and often merciless perception of those around her provided many laugh-out-loud moments as well as poignant, and somewhat painful scenes. I have a new hero!

In the rivers run dry, Agent Harmon has been sent to Seattle on a disciplinary transfer, and her boss, Jack Stephenson, is a first-class jerk! I won’t spoil the fun of that relationship for you, but suffice it to say I found myself wishing painful things to happen to that man! Anyway, Agent Harmon brings her mom along on her cross-country re-location and they live with her very loony Aunt Charlotte. Both her female relatives provide a much-needed distraction throughout the story.

The first assignment – a missing rich girl. Her parents insist she’s been kidnapped, but evidence first suggests that a willfully deceitful child has run off to play. As the plot thickens some really evil bad guys begin to surface, and it isn’t long before Agent Harmon is pitted against a very wicked and demented perpetrator. Using her knowledge of geology (provided by our very intelligent author who happens to love the science), a gritty determination and incredibly strong faith, Raleigh Harmon finds herself among a very twisted spider-web and unable to identify the spider.

I adore a suspenseful mystery that keeps me guessing right up until the final pages! Giorello is VERY GOOD at this! You will be gasping, holding your breath, missing sleep and generally desperate to get to the end of her story. All along the way your mind is held tautly aware of every sensory and emotional stimuli in the life of the main character. The writing is crisp, succinct and powerful, and the ending…immensely satisfying without wrapping things up either neatly or predictably.

Reviewed by:
Kim Ford

Friday, May 15, 2009

Amy Wallace's Enduring Justice ~ Reviewed

Enduring Justice
By Amy Wallace
Published by Multnomah
ISBN# 978-1-6042-014-5
317 Pages

Back Cover:

A Painful Past – Hanna Kessler’s childhood secret has remained buried for more than two decades. But when the dark shadows of her past threaten to destroy those she loves, Hanna must face the summer that changed her life and the man who still haunts her memories.

A Racially Motivated Killer – As a Crimes Against Children FBI agent, Michael Parker knows what it means to get knocked down. Difficult cases and broken relationships have plagued his entire year. But when the system fails and a white supremacist is set free, Michael’s drive for retribution eclipses all else.

A Life Altering Choice – A racist’s well-planned assault forces Hanna and Michael to decide between executing vengeance and pursuing justice. The dividing line between the two is the choice to heal. But when the attack turns personal, is justice enough?


I’m so thrilled to discover in this third and final book of the “Defenders of Hope” series, all my favorite characters are back from Ransomed Dreams, Steven and Gracie and Clint and Sara,from Healing Promises. The stories of Hanna, Steven’s sister and Michael, Steven’s partner are told in Enduring Justice.

I commend Amy Wallace for being brave enough to talk about the subject matter in this book. Here’s what she says in the author’s note section,” It’s true that every book has some pieces of the author in it…For five years, I’d denied what happened or hid and blamed myself. When my walls of secrecy started to crumble, I felt alone, exposed and more terrified than I could handle. But God met me there.”

Amy and her characters learned that forgiveness sets the captives free. Forgiveness permeates this story. In the middle of a very personal situation for Hanna, another tough issue raises its ugly head - racially motivated killings. One of the characters has this to say,” I know not all white folks act like those I grew up around. But no amount of my stories will help you see what it’s like to grow up black in a white world.” So, it’s true, we can sympathize, but we can’t totally get the full affect.

The author busts through the lies her characters believe. It’s only then that the truth can set you free – forever. God’s truth and what He says about us is powerful. We just have to believe it. Walking in truth will affect every area of your life. You’ll see that in this story. You’ll definitely want to read Enduring Justice a suspenseful conclusion to this series.

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

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Julie Lessman's A Passion Redeemed ~ Reviewed

A Passion Redeemed
By Julie Lessman
Published by Revell
ISBN# 978-0-8007-3212-7
479 Pages

Back Cover:

No man can resist her charms. Or so she thought. Charity O’Connor is a woman who gets what she wants. Her stunning beauty and flirtatious ways have always succeeded with men. Until Mitch Dennehy, that is. Brilliant and dangerously handsome, Mitch is a no-nonsense newspaperman who wants nothing to do with her. Charity burned him once; destroying his engagement to the only woman he ever truly loved. He won’t play with matches again. But Charity has a plan to turn up the heat, hoping to ignite the heart of the man she loves. And she always gets what she wants – one way or another.

Or does she? Will her best-laid schemes win his love? Or will her seductive ways drive him away forever?


I liked this story of faith, discovery and love. I enjoyed the sense of family Julie Lessman creates in her books. There is a wide array of fun-loving characters inside Charity’s family unit, and Julie makes you feel a part of their interaction.

Mitch is a man Charity has set out to get, but he tells her, “This is exactly why it won’t work between us. I have no room in my life for a stubborn, calculating woman who I can’t trust. Not to mention one with questionable moral values.” Mitch would rather die lonely than to marry a women who doesn’t have a personal relationship with God and he didn’t trust. No matter how beautiful Charity was or how she made him feel, nothing could ever happen between them. He would wait for a woman of faith no matter how long it took!

Charity is on a mission and has this to say about a higher power. “God has never done anything for me. He’s only taken—first the life of my favorite sister, then my father’s love, and now the beauty and joy of my best friend.” Charity thought if Mitch could just get in touch with how she made him feel, it would prove his love for her, and the fact that they were meant to be together.

I love how Julie delves into “What’s love?—true love! What does love look like?” Love is not based on feelings alone. Lust isn’t love. Charity has to learn the hard way that some of her tricks to manipulate love are costly. Mitch also, has some issues he needs to clear up in his own life before looking at loving again. They both had to deal with the consequences of past choices. Some decisions they’ve made changed their hearts and souls forever.

Charity was not one of my favorite characters in the first book. She got on my nerves and she does the same in this book, but the twist is I really got to know Charity, in A Passion Redeemed, book two in the Daughters of Boston Series. I learned about the woman behind the manipulative games, the white lies, and what made her tick. I can’t wait to read the third and final book in the series A Passion Denied. You’ll want to read the third book too.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
Book Club Servant Leader

Monday, May 11, 2009

George Bryan Polivka's Blaggard's Moon ~ Reviewed

Blaggard's Moon (Paperback)
George Bryan Polivka
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (March 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736925376

Product Description:

From the author of highly praised Trophy Chase Trilogy comes this exciting swashbuckling tale of a pirate sentenced to die for the crime of mutiny.

As he awaits his fate, this pirate (none other than the delightful Smith Delaney from the Trophy Chase Trilogy) ponders his life and the events that have brought him to this fate.

In the process of remembering, and in grappling with mercy and justice as they have been played out in his life, a tale is spun, a tale of true hearts wronged, noble love gone awry, dark deeds done for the sake of gold, and sacrifices made for love. In the end, our pirate will come face–to–face with himself, with his own death, and with a God who promises grace where none is deserved.

Readers of Christian fantasy will once again be swept away by Bryan Polivka’s compelling storytelling abilities. As Publisher’s Weekly said of the author’s first book, “readers will be flipping pages eagerly.”


Smith Delaney is a man who is awaiting his demise. This is a novel, of Delaney remembering a story in vivid detail of how things went from one place to another in the world of vast pirating and pillaging where the townsfolk saw no end of terror. Polivka weaves an intriguing tale as a master storyteller that brings images easily to the mind's eye of a reader and keeps one ceaselessly thirsting for more.

Many a book can grab me and pull with the never-ending page turning drama to a finish. This book is different. I was drawn and curious and could not unravel the tale fast enough, but the way the story was told in vivid detail and description causes one to take the tale at a leisurely pace. As a scene unfolds, it is almost necessary to full let it soak in from the words on the page to the reader's eye and then the synapses of the brain. Each section brings a mini story and intrigues a bit further.

An adventure of pirates, murder, fights, romance, true love, revenge, and justice prevail. All through out, the story is enticing and pulls a reader to one way of thinking and then changes your mind to another. Mixed in the story in a very non-nagging manner is a fabulous undertone of what is coming... Where are your actions taking you and how will they affect the outcome of your life?

It is a thrilling ride filled with the sounds of splashing waves and crying gulls with the scent of salt water to one's nose and I recommend it to many for a leisurely yet full of adventure ride. I am grateful that I was able to start my reading adventures of the Nearing Vast world through this prequel to the Trophy Chase trilogy. Now I am even more grateful that I have the first and third of the trilogy on my shelves waiting for me, and now must find a way to acquire the second novel. Then my adventure will be complete!

Reviewed by: Margaret MJ Chind

Friday, May 08, 2009

Paul Robertson's According to Their Deeds ~ Reviewed

According to Their Deeds (Paperback)
by Paul Robertson
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Bethany House (March 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0764205684

Book Description:

A Deadly Game of Justice Versus Mercy Charles Beale lives outside the shadow of Washington, D.C. Politics and power matter only when a client crosses the Potomac to visit his Alexandria Rare Books shop.

But that all changes when a former client--a man deeply connected in the Justice Department--is found murdered after a break-in gone bad. When Charles reclaims at auction the books he'd once sold, he quickly discovers he's bought more trouble than he could have ever imagined.

Inside one volume are secrets. A collection of sins that, if revealed, could destroy reputations, careers--even lives. Charles soon learns he isn't the only who knows. Going to the police means ruining a multitude of lives. But staying silent puts a target on his shop, his wife--and himself. Charles must decide: Should one mistake really cost you everything?

If you would like to read the first chapter of According To Their Deeds, go HERE


When I opened Paul Robertson's latest book I wasn't sure what my final opinion would be. The characters, mainly Charles, reminded me of the type of character played by Woody Allen. Charles and his friends were a little odd, I love quirky, but these folks had to grow on me a bit. Charles, the POV character, considers books as his livelihood and his passion, after his lovely wife Dorothy, of course. Book characters, scenes, lines and titles become fodder for his many puns and descriptions.

The mystery within According to Their Deeds takes a few unexpected turns and is layered, involving past, and present, and I guess I could even say future because there are some snippets of theological conversation. Bibliophiles, especially antique/rare edition fiends and bookstore lovers should find this a satisfying read. Fans of mysteries will probably enjoy the twists. Of Robertson's three novels I'd say According to Their Deeds is my least favorite, but I'm glad I had the opportunity to read it.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Elizabeth Musser's Words Unspoken ~ Reviewed

Words Unspoken
By Elizabeth Musser
Published by Bethany House
ISBN 978-0-7642-0373-2


Lissa Randall’s future was bright with academic promise until the tragic accident that took her mother’s life—and brought her own plans to a screeching halt. Eighteen months later, she still can’t get back behind the wheel. A casual recommendation to Ev McAllistair’s driving school sets in motion a cascade of events . . . until Lissa begins to wonder if maybe, just maybe, life isn’t as random as she’s thought.

Set against the breathtaking backdrop of Lookout Mountain, TN, Words Unspoken weaves together a vibrant cast of characters whose intertwining stories of courage, choice, heartbreak, and hope will hold you captive until the final page.


Elizabeth Musser is one of my favorite authors, having penned works like Swan House, The Dwelling Place and Searching for Eternity. But she's outdone even herself. Words Unspoken unfolds like a rose, one layer at a time, revealing the beauty within. Filled with diverse, memorable characters, you meet one then another, until the cast grows to where wonder how all these people are connected. Then, when the first relationship is revealed, it's an Ah-Ha moment. I couldn't put it down. I had to keep reading to discover the next connection. And each one was just right—never "convenient" or contrived. Filled with twists and brilliantly written, Words Unspoken is a must read. As one of those books whose characters linger in my mind, it receives a five-star recommendation from this reviewer.

Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan, editor Novel Journey

Bonus Review:

4/5 Stars

When as a reader you approach a novel by Elizabeth Musser, one often knows not to expect a light read. Her books are full, filled to the brim with emotion and relatable experiences. As with another novel "The Swan House", that I also loved, this story deals with the difficult intricacies of depression. When speaking of her novel, she states it well, this book is about depression, but is not depressing. That is something very hard to come by. The topics are heavy, but necessary and relatable. As a reader who personally does not like to read contemporary fiction because of the realistic pain of stories involved I highly enjoy the "recent historical inspirational fiction" here. The negative aspects of reality are found within the pages of the novel, but the spiritual message peaks through and becomes a much stronger presence than all of the negativity with each continuous page and chapter. One can finish the pages of this novel with hope and going forward. As was stated in a press release,

(While this hard-hitting approach can be interpreted by some as negative, Musser disagrees, saying "I write what I call 'entertainment with a soul'. I want the reader to find not only a good story but also real characters and themes that touch their hearts and force them to think, to laugh and cry and hope. To be entertained way down in their souls." )

As an avid reader and reviewer, I can tell you that Musser made her goals with this novel.

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Monday, May 04, 2009

Greg Garrett's Shame ~ Reviewed

Shame: A Novel
by Greg Garrett
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition edition (May 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434767523

Book Description:

It's hard to appreciate the life you have when you're wondering about the one you might have had.

John Tilden's glory days are far behind him, and now it seems like all he has is the monotony of everyday living. He certainly thought there'd be more to it than his ramshackle Oklahoma farm and a mundane job coaching basketball at his old high school. He questions his fatherhood skills too: His oldest son won't speak to him, his younger son wants to quit the basketball team, and now his daughter wants to go out on dates. He loves his wife, but the marriage has settled into complacency.

With John's twentieth high school reunion approaching, he has agreed to play in an exhibition game with the old championship team. And his ex-girlfriend's back in town, newly single. What might have been now seems closer than ever.

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


I don't think my review can do justice to Shame. But I'm going to try. For starters, I was given the advanced reading copy via a pdf file and had to read it while attached to my computer. This is not my first choice, I like to be able to cradle a book and curl up wherever I chose. The computer is just not the same.

Even though this was an annoyance, I voraciously devoured this story.

The characters became so real to me that I wept. But before I wept, I wrestled along with the inner struggle of John, and the unknown that lay sprawled on his horizon and the ties that kept him at bay. There were moments, basketball details mostly, where I didn't hang on every word, but the struggles, the tension, the story of what-if and what-might-have-been and what's-the-point pulled on every one of my emotional strings leaving most of them taut and humming.

Garrett writes with poignancy and fluidity, words filled with visuals and other sensory experiences that paint scene after scene in the readers' mind. In Shame, he aptly tackles the common human conditions, the ones we all have to face, eventually. The things we try to medicate, drown, and subdue, the haunting specter of relationships and regrets, and the reality of whom we are being the sum of our choices.

Shame will be on my 2009 favorites list. Fans of authors like Tom Morrisey and Wally Lamb may want to look into it. Readers who can't handle slower moving narratives or introspection might want to read more reviews and a sample of the writing before purchasing. CBA only readers may balk at some of the scenes, this is PG-rated inspirational fiction. David C. Cook has been publishing novels that are real, gritty, envelope-pushing and thought-provoking, and they get a double thumbs up from me.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Bonus Review:

“…the past always seems to be sitting within easy reach of anybody that wants to pick it up.” (p. 30)

John Tilden is a character who chose to cling to his past and its mistakes, and he labored beneath the shame of his choices for twenty years, hence the title for Greg Garrett’s work – Shame. John Tilden is the main character and narrator of this story, and through his own mid-life crisis over “what could have been”, he explores his own thoughts and motives toward everyone in his life – his wife, his children, his sister, his parents – no relationship is left unexamined.

John is a farmer and a volunteer basketball coach living in rural Oklahoma. All outward appearances would indicate that even though he started his adult life on faulty premises, it would seem that everything has worked out just fine. On the inside, however, John labors beneath a load of guilt and shame that would crush anyone’s spirit no matter their circumstances. He doubts his faith, his marriage, his entire existence…and that, dear reader, makes for a dark story to read.

I think that Greg Garrett has explored something that is a real crisis for most people when they realize that they have in all likelihood completed at least half of their life here on earth. No one is free from regret or from wondering what their life might have been like had they made different choices. However, for those of us who have a personal relationship with Christ and walk with Him through every life circumstance, I think that there is always peace and assurance that we are not alone, and there is strength to lean upon when doubt, temptation and shame come knocking. John Tilden seemed to be lacking in this very vital area of his heart, and thus his story was difficult to endure.

The author chose to allow his characters to take the Lord’s name in vain some eight or ten times throughout the story which, while believable for the characters, was not something I’d expect to find in a story of faith. And while the end of the novel wasn’t completely devoid of hope, it did not ring true to me. The main character, John Tilden, never once displayed any true faith in Christ and His power to redeem his past or his future, so I find it hard to believe that he would face his future with anything remotely resembling hope or thankfulness. Perhaps the fact that he did eventually gain some perspective on his life was the only tiny evidence of faith or redemption at all. Overall, I felt no more hope for him at the end than I did at the beginning.

This was a dark emotional book to read, and I’m glad I no longer have to endure the regrets and shame of a man who refused to grow up. The message of this book portrayed an impotent God who is powerless to save and redeem, and that is a lie that ensnares many lives today. When reviewing Christian fiction, I prefer the story to reflect the truth of God's redemptive power and not a "higher power" that sits in heaven saying "hang in there.” I find little to recommend here.

Reviewed by: Kim Ford

Friday, May 01, 2009

ACFW May Book Releases

Happy May! Check out all these new releases!

1. A Bride of Honor byRuth Axtell Morren from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical. An impoverished preacher from the working class falls in love with a young lady of the London ton and risks all including his reputation to save her honor.

2. A Prairie Romance Collection, by Lynn A. Coleman, Mary Davis, Lena Nelson Dooley, Susan K. Downs, Birdie L. Etchison, Linda Ford, Linda Goodnight, JoAnne A. Grote, Cathy Marie Hake, Judith McCoy Miller, Kathleen Paul, Janet Spaeth

from Barbour Publishing. Relive History On The American Great Plains.

3. Beyond Corista, Shadowside Series - Book 3 by Robert Elmer from Zondervan. In the last book of the trilogy, Oriannon and Sola set out to take the word of Jesmet beyond their planet, but are captured by traders, who hold the girl as a pawn in an interplanetary struggle.

4. Bittersweet Memories by Cecelia Dowdy from Barbour Heartsong Presents. Karen's fiancé has disappeared after embezzling money from their large mega-church; can she learn to love again?

5. Enduring Love, Sydney Cove Series, Book Three by Bonnie Leon from Revell. John and Hannah have lived by faith. When all seems lost they must continue to believe in a God who can do all things.

6. Lethal Lasagna, by Rhonda Gibson from White Rose Publishing. Lethal Lasagna is a cozy romantic mystery.

7.Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana, by Melanie Dobson from Sommerside Press. A Quaker woman risks everything to operate a station on the Underground Railroad in 1850.

8. Rose House, by Tina Ann Forkner from Waterbrook Press. vivid story of a private grief, a secret painting, and one woman's search for hope.

9. So Not Happening, A Charmed Life, book one by Jenny B. Jones from Thomas Nelson. Isabella Kirkwood had it all: popularity at a prestigious private school in Manhattan, the latest fashions, and a life of privilege and luxury. What's a girl to do when God gives you the total smackdown?

10. The Lyons Den , 3rd Book in The Shelton Heights Series by Kendra Norman-Bellamy from Urban Books. With his and his family's life placed in danger by a stalker who only identifies himself as "Dr. A.H. Satan," Stuart Lyons has to somehow maintain his faith in God.

11. Tour de Force, by Beth White from Zondervan. Gilly Kincade, rising star in a premier NYC ballet company, and Birmingham artistic director Jacob Ferrar wrestle with ordering the priorities of building a relationship, pursuing artistic dreams, and serving God.

12. Trail to Justice, by Susan Page Davis from Heartsong Presents. A police dispatcher and a veterinarian compete in a 100-mile horse race for fun, but find intrigue and romance, along with an injured champion and a wrecked airplane.

13. What the Bayou Saw by Patti Lacy from Kregel Publishing. Sally Stevens, Mary's Southern friend in an Irishwoman's Tale, grapples with her own memories, buried beneath the murky waters of a Louisiana bayou.

14. Wild Prairie Roses, by Lena Nelson Dooley and Laurie Alice Eakes and Lisa Harris from Barbour Publishing. Elusive dreams unite three couples.

15. Who Made you a Princess, All About Us #4 by Shelley Adina from Hatchette Faithwords. Will Shani Hanna choose the boy next door or a real-life handsome prince?

Happy reading ~