Monday, May 31, 2010

David Gregory's The Last Christian ~ Reviewed

By David Gregory
Published by: WaterBrook
ISBN# 978-1-4000-7497-6
407 Pages

Back Cover:

When missionary Abigail Caldwell emerges from her jungle village in A.D. 2088, she arrives in America to find Christianity has disappeared---and brain transplants promise eternal life! Determined to restore the nation to God, Abby joins forces with historian Creighton Daniels. What will they do when a powerful conspiracy threatens humanity's spiritual future---and their own lives?


I’ve read Dinner with a Perfect Stranger, Day with a Perfect Stranger and The Next Level by David Gregory and jumped at the chance for a review copy of his newest book. I had a feeling it would be something special. I wasn’t disappointed.

After reading the prologue, dated April 2088, I knew I was on a completely fresh, incredible, serious journey with David as he whisked me into this Sci/Fi thriller. I buckled up, regrouped and tuned into this high-tech scenario. David reveals amazing computer gadgets, a mainstream super highway, and the absence of the Christian influence in the world.

I could imagine this incredible high tech world with the help of seeing movies like the Star Trek and The Matrix. This author shows how technology can change the world and do great things, but along with the benefits there are serious ethical and moral consequences. Neuron implants are put into people in the form of a chip that allow them to surf the grid (much like the web-but more remarkable) so they can spend most of their lives in VR (a virtual reality world of their making).

This is not a comfortable, warm fuzzy read with a happily ever after ending. It’s a book that made me think about life, in relationship to Christ and the people around me. I knew that after I finished the last page of The Last Christian, I would keep whirling the characters dilemma and the deep message David gave over and over in my mind, heart and soul. David’s books do that to me. .

Abigail Caldwell was the only one to survivor a virus that wiped out her whole village. She’s an American Missionary trying to make sense of a sixteen year old message recently received from her Grandfather in America.

When Abby arrives in the USA she discovers Christianity is gone. Not because the government stripped it from society but humanity had changed. Science and technology became more important to them. It replaced the need for God and Christianity. Abbey thought, Could one person make a difference? She soon found out people weren’t interested in the message of forgiveness through Christ in this foreign land.

Someone says to Abbey, “I found that out long ago. That’s because they no longer sense their need to be forgiven. People didn’t believe in absolutes anymore, in right and wrong. So what is there to be forgiven for?”

This author challenges everyone to evaluate how they are living this Christian life and how they share Jesus. I have to say I was pierced by the Holy Spirit to re-evaluate some things in my own life. Wow, what a story. You’ll definitely have to check this one out!

Reviewed by: Nora St. Laurent
ACFW Book Club Coordinator

Bonus Review:

Once I started this book, I couldn't stop. The events taking place in it were so imaginable that it was scary. Basically the world (the United States especially) has been given over to technology and selfish sinful desires; to the point where one 'person' or 'transhuman' rather has supposedly figured out how to eliminate one's soul. Everyone can know everything, people rarely meet in person, marriage is obsolete,....and the list goes on. Throw into the mix Abby, a Christian missionary from the jungle whose parents and village have been killed. This is her first time in the states and she unwittingly breaks the law while sharing her faith. In this action packed almost to close to potential reality thriller, you'll find Biblical truths and face the question-would I gain the whole world and lose my soul?

Reviewed by: Rachael Schnitker

Friday, May 28, 2010

Travis Thrasher's Broken ~ Reviewed

Travis Thrasher
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: FaithWords (May 25, 2010)
Language: English
10: 0446505552

Back Cover Copy:

Laila had it all--love, family, wealth, and faith. But when her faith crumbles, her world falls apart and Laila finds herself living an empty, dangerous life as a call girl in Chicago.

When she is threatened, Laila shoots and kills a client in self-defense, sending herself into a spiral of guilt and emptiness. Six months later, she is trying to move on, but she's haunted by the past. She hasn't told anyone about the man she killed, and she's still estranged from her family.

When she is approached by a stranger who says he knows what she did, Laila has no choice but to run. But the stranger stays close behind, and Laila begins having visions of the man she killed. Little does she know she's being hounded by something not of this world, something that knows her deepest, darkest secret.

Scared and wandering, will Laila regain her trust in God to protect her from these demons? Or will her plea for salvation come too late?

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


Broken is one of the few novels I've read in a horror genre so read my comments in that light whether you are a horror fan or not.

Travis Thrasher writes complicated characters with page-turning tension. Broken is written in the 3rd-person-present-tense point-of-view that is at times difficult to read but one that amps up the tension. As with the other horror books I've read, there are several moments within Broken that had me looking over my shoulder or responding to hair-raising shudders.

I was intrigued with Thrasher's creative twists and turns and feel the need to check out more of his novels. The themes of ghosts, redemption, demons and hope in Christ are a blend that works, especially for folks who don't mind feeling creeped-out a few times. There is low key language and there are some difficult adult themes so I don't recommend it for children or young teens.

I did struggle with some confusion as the story played out. Each chapter opens with a page or two of the main character's journal. These were my favorite sections of the book because I felt they fully fleshed Laila out and made me feel involved in her story. In between the journal pages were scenes that either played off the journal section, added more details or twisted/contradicted it.

Some of the secondary characters crossed over into stereotypical or cheesy a few times and I don't know that they really added the element of fear because of it.

I can't say I loved this novel. It was an interesting read, definitely, and a page-turner most of the time. But.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Robert Liparulo's Frenzy~ Reviewed

Frenzy (Dreamhouse Kings)
Robert Liparulo
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (May 18, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595548165

Book Description:

Their destiny is to fix history. Their dream is to get home.

When you live in a house that's really a gateway between past and present, you have to be ready for anything. It's a painful fact the Kings have faced since moving to Pinedale eight days ago. Desperately trying to rescue their mother from an unknown time and place, brothers Xander and David have lunged headlong into the chaos of history's greatest--and most volatile--events. But their goal has continually escaped their grasp.

And worse: Finding Mom is only a small part of what they must do, thanks to the barbaric Taksidian. His ruthless quest to sieze their house and its power from them has put not only the family, but all of mankind, in grave danger.

Somehow, the key to it all hinges on Uncle Jesse's words to the boys: "Fixing time is what our family was made to do." But how can they fix a world that has been turned upside down--much less ever find their way home?

At long last, the secrets of the house and the King family are revealed in the stunning conclusion to this epic series.

If you would like to read the Prologue and first Chapter of Frenzy, go HERE.


Frenzy was an exceptional conclusion to the Brilliant Dreamhouse Kings series. I wouldn’t have changed a thing about it. It kept me guessing till the very end. The Kings had been through enough struggles to drive anyone insane, and they still haven’t gotten any closer to finding there mom. They’re all on there last life and they need a miracle. And no one provides miracles like Jesus Christ! Action, suspense, adventure, and fantasy are all served in great quantity in this book. This book was impossible to put down. I had high expectations for this book, and it didn’t disappoint. 11 on a scale of 1 to 10!

Reviewed by Reid A. (Teen Reviewer)

Bonus Review 1:

“Let’s do it!” (Xander and David – at a critical moment in the story)

Robert Liparulo has written the PERFECT ending (or is it?) for his Dreamhouse King series! Frenzy starts out with a terrifying scene, and doesn’t let up the ENTIRE novel! In the last book, Whirlwind, readers learn some key information about the King’s house and how it functions. Frenzy opens the reader’s mind even further as Xander and David discover even greater details about the ebb and flow of time and how the house serves to channel the flow. They also learn the significance of their family’s role within the time continuum, and that theirs is a role which they must choose to embrace. It is a WILD ride, readers! The search for the King’s mother becomes quite desperate as does Xander and David’s will to simply survive! You DO NOT want to miss this book!!

Xander and David take their lives in their own hands in Frenzy. These boys are determined to find their mother and rescue her from Taksidian and Phemus. What they discover in this novel, is that Taksidian is far more dangerous and evil than they ever imagined, and his plans for mankind…well, let’s just say he doesn’t care about much except his own sorry self. I don’t think he realizes the depth of the King family’s love for one another and the sheer determination they each hold in their hearts to protect and defend one another amid this bizarre assault from Time itself. It’s hard to imagine that Liparulo could possibly raise the stakes any higher, but he does indeed take suspense to an entirely new level!

As a mom, my heart wrestled with this story. I wanted to protect Xander and David so badly I could hardly contain myself! Yet as the novel went on, I found myself cheering them on, proud that they wouldn’t give up no matter the cost, and I loved the way their love for one another matured and deepened. But you know what I loved most about this book? Liparulo showcases the faith element in this story in a bold and dramatic way that readers will NEVER forget! He hasn’t done that up until now, but when he decides to share his heart – watch out! He does it in a way that only he can do, and it just blows me away!!

Frenzy…read it! Savor it! Buy the entire series for the teens in your life and give them the grandest adventure reading has to offer! What an AMAZING ride!!

Reviewed by: Kim Ford

Bonus Review 2:

With more twists and turns than the crazy Dreamhouse, Robert Liparulo whips, yanks and stretches the complex storyline to a close...well...not exactly. How about a rest? Kind of.

The six book series span a week in real time and centuries in time travel. The King family is stretched to breaking during their adventures that made me weak in the knees more than once.

Frenzy pulls loose ends tight and reveals more pieces of the Dreamhouse puzzle. Liparulo played out the tiny Christian element beautifully and the book series ended on a satisfying note. There are elements that would be a lot scary for easily disturbed kids so keep that in mind. Otherwise this series is a terrific, page-turning read.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Monday, May 24, 2010

Vicki Hinze's Forget Me Not ~ Reviewed

By Vicki Hinze
Published by Multnomah
ISBN# 978-1-60142-205-7
335 Pages

Back Cover:

A mysterious incident leaves Susan Brandt dead---and her husband, Ben, devastated. Three years later, a similar accident occurs. The victim looks exactly like his late wife and carries Susan's name on a crisis center's card---but this woman survives. When somebody wants her dead, will Ben risk his life and his heart to save her?


Buckle-up as you prepare to read Vicki Hinze’s first Christian Fiction suspenseful adventure, Forget Me Not. I was so thankful to receive a review copy of this book.

I was hooked from the very first chapter as a murder, then a carjacking takes place and the main character is left for dead. The main character is running for her life and wakes up in the woods, badly beaten. A Good Samaritan arrives and helps her to the Crossroads Crisis Center. One problem - this isn’t a medical facility and the woman doesn’t know who she is! Weirder still...she discovers at the center that she looks very similar to Susan Brandt, founder of the Crossroads Crisis Center.

“The main character says to Ben Brandt, (the founders husband)—who hasn’t treated her nice, “Someone wants me dead and I have no idea why!...I intend to find out who I am and I hope that includes insight into your wife and son’s murder…If you want me to share what I learn, then you need to adjust your attitude toward me, because I’ve tolerated all the indignity and disrespect from you I’m going to.”

Vicki’s characters grabbed my heart and attention from the start. I could feel the main character's pain, relate to their spiritual struggle and followed the plot twists closely as she revealed surprising details and turns that shed light into her situation. I had no idea how all the pieces would be put together; it definitely kept me reading!

The author writes the story from the view of the young woman who has amnesia. The reader discovers, along with the girl, about her life has it unfolds. This story is full of intriguing plot twists that got more intriguing with every page I read. Vicki is a master at weaving a surprising plot, with rich characters you instantly care about—I enjoyed the main character’s spiritual journey and how she listened to the Holy Spirit to guide her.

Reviewed by: Nora St. Laurent
ACFW Book Club Coordinator

Friday, May 21, 2010

Colleen Coble's Lonestar Homecoming ~ Reviewed

Lonestar Homecoming
Colleen Coble
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson; Original edition (April 13, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595547347

Book Description:

With nothing but five dollars and the wedding dress she’s wearing, Gracie Lister flees with her daughter by train to West Texas, to the town she ran away from so long ago. There they find refuge in the home of Michael Wayne--devoted single father, seasoned soldier--who gives Gracie a job caring for his two children and the hiding place she needs from her former fiance.

Michael and Gracie aren’t looking for love, but it finds them right away. And then trouble comes to call in the form of Gracie’s ex-fiance who is now on the FBI’s most-wanted list. Together, Michael and Gracie must find the strength they need to protect their newly forged family.


Colleen Coble returns with another installment in her contemporary marriage of convenience series, providing her readers with likable characters, engaging romance and a suspense twist. Colleen's experience as a writer ensures she provides her readers with what they love and Lonestar Homecoming delivers. Both Gracie and Michael are vulnerable from past traumas and their hesitant steps toward something more than convenience in their relationship takes time and keeps you invested in their journey. While the premise of this story is a little unlikely, Colleen's blend of suspense, romance and faith always provides a pleasing result.

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Julie Cave's Deadly Disclosures ~ Reviewed

By Julie Cave
Published by Master Books
ISBN# 978-0-89051-584-6
285 Pages

Back Cover:

FBI agent Dinah Harris now has a missing person's file to go along with a bad case of alcohol abuse and the depression she cannot seem to shake. Fighting to keep her focus, she struggles to find answers for why Thomas Whitfield. Whitfield's body is eventually found, and Dinah is drawn into a frightening conspiracy, as more people begin to die, and Whitfield's faith is revealed as part of the motive behind his murder. Can she reveal the truth before she finds herself the next silenced victim of a ruthless, unseen enemy?


I’m so thankful to have received a review copy of this compelling, enlightening, mystery. I’d watched Expelled by Ben Stein. He interviewed scientists who believed in creationism and scientists who believed in Darwinism. I didn’t fully understand the conflict he described. Julie Cave made this matter clear and helped me understand the huge battle raging in the science world. Julie’s passion for defending the bible’s account of creation spilled out into the pages of this book.

Thomas Whitfield, secretary of the Smithsonian, says to a fellow scientist Andy Coleman, “Okay, I can understand your arguments but I’ve just never been able to take God seriously. Science has the answers for so many problems. Look at what we’ve achieved in the medical field.”

“Believing in God and being a scientist are not mutually exclusive, Thomas. While I agree with you that science has found answers for many things, it falls short in many ways. For example, can science explain why that young man put on a mask and gunned down his fellow students?....Science can’t really explain the essence of our humanity, or our spirit and soul.”

I was gripped at the debates these two gentlemen had throughout this novel; above is just a snippet of things they discussed. Julie penned such a compelling story on many levels. Her characters are believable. I had compassion in my heart as each struggled to get answers to Thomas Whitfield’s murder and the meaning of life.

FBI Agent Dinah is fighting demons of her own, as she tries to drown them and numb the pain she can’t seem to get over. Ferguson, her partner, went out on a limb to get her on this case. She didn’t want to let him down, but she can tell he’s exasperated with her. He could smell the alcohol on her breath and could tell she has a hung over. He rolled his eyes and wondered where the brilliantly minded Dinah he knew was? She wondered the same thing. She had to find a way to get her act together and find the murderer.

Among all the FBI drama, police raids and finding clues to catch the murderer, there are some funny scenes with the guy who runs the forensic tests. Julie has the perfect blend of humor, drama, mystery and debates, as well as her characters dealing with issues of the heart.

I liked how this author had Dinah or Ferguson ask a question or discover something new about the case and wonder why he or she would do that, then the author would flash back to the event and you got to see first hand what exactly happened. This was very effective. I learned so much from this story. I was drawn into it hook, line and sinker. I can’t wait to read another book by this author.

Reviewed by: Nora St. Laurent
ACFW Book Club Coordinator

Monday, May 17, 2010

DiAnn Mills's A Woman Called Sage ~ Reviewed

A Woman Called Sage: A Novel (Paperback)
DiAnn Mills
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Zondervan; Original edition (April 13, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310293294

Book Description:

Sage Morrow has everything---an adoring husband and a baby on the way---until five ruthless gunmen change her life forever. Now accompanied only by her magnificent hawk, she's a Colorado bounty hunter bent on retribution! But the stakes are raised when two young boys are kidnapped. Will the hunter become the hunted?


DiAnn Mills' contemporary suspense novels have been favourites of mine for sometime. I wondered whether I would feel the same draw to an historical story, even though it was written by DiAnn. I should have know she could pull it off!

While it is DiAnn's blend of suspense and romance that usually draw me in to her stories, it was her unique character Sage Morrow that made the story for me. Trauma and tragedy have created in Sage a ferociously independent woman bent on revenge for her husband's slaying. DiAnn's trademark suspense is present along with a forbidden attraction that the upright Marshall Parker Timmons feels for Sage, her heritage and occupation destined to ensure political suicide for his future plans. A Woman Called Sage is a satisfying and enjoyable read.

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Bonus Review:

Sage is an inspiring Native American woman in the old west. Her strength and determination won my admiration. The numerous obstacles to her goals include prejudice (from other people), emotional barriers, spiritual hardness-of-heart, multiple gunshot wounds and ignorance of what happened in the past that set murderers against her.

Sage turns her back on God and sets out to bring outlaws to justice herself, as a bounty hunter. When she finally finds her husband’s killer’s, she’s forced to work with a US marshal.

Marshal Parker Timmons is a strong character as well. He’s a man of strength and integrity. He has faced his own set of difficult circumstances including a brother and a couple of friends who were murdered. He demonstrates his character under adversity.

Mills writes a captivating story, which I could imagine watching on TV as an old Western. I enjoyed the tight spots the got in to—some dangerous—as well as the interaction between the two. I’m a fan of Native American culture so that aspect of the story intrigued me as well.

A Woman Called Sage has an interesting plot and Mills keeps it clear for the reader. Her description is good and not overdone. Her characters are well-defined and grow as they journey toward their goals. A Woman Called Sage is not deeply life-changing, but it is a good romance novel with interesting aspects to the story, which are uncharacteristic of simple romance novels.

*I received a copy of A Woman Called Sage for the purpose of review.

Reviewed by: Terri Thompson

Bonus Review:

Sage is a woman who is half white and half Native American. Her husband, an undercover Marshall, gets killed by outlaws, so she becomes a bounty hunter to try to find the men that murdered him. In the mean time, she meets another Marshall, named Parker Timmons, who lost a brother to these same outlaws. Together, they join forces to seek justice.

I really enjoyed this book. Sage was a very strong woman, and though her faith faltered when her husband was murdered, she comes out stronger in the end. I also enjoyed seeing how she was able to take care of herself and live off the land, based on what she learned from her Ute relatives. She also had wild animals as pets, which I thought was interesting – a hawk and a wolf.

If you love adventure books with a Christian theme, you will love this book.

Reviewed by: Laura Porter

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Michael Zadoorian's The Leisure Seeker ~ Reviewed

The Leisure Seeker
by Michael Zadoorian
Pub. Date: February 2010
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Paperback, 272pp
ISBN-13: 9780061671791

Premise :

John and Ella Robina have shared a wonderful life for more than fifty years. Now in their eighties, Ella suffers from Cancer and has chosen to stop treatment. John has Alzheimer's. Yearning for one last adventure, the self-proclaimed "down-on-their-luck geezers" kidnap themselves from their adult children and doctors who seem to run their lives. They steal away from their home in suburban Detroit for a forbidden vacation of rediscovery.

With Ella as his vigilant copilot, John steers their '78 Leisure Seeker RV along the forgotten roads of Route 66 toward Disneyland in search of a past they're having a hard time remembering. Ella is determined to prove that when it comes to life, a person can go back for seconds while sneaking a little extra time and grabbing a small portion more, even when everyone says you can't.

Darkly observant, told with humor, affection, and a touch of irony, The Leisure Seeker is an odyssey through the ghost towns, deserted trailer parks, forgotten tourist attractions, giant roadside icons, and crumbling back roads of America. Ultimately it is the story of Ella and John, the people they encounter, the problems they overcome, the experiences they have lived, the love they share and their courage to take back the end of their own lives.


When you were growing up, did you and your family go on vacation across the country? My family did in a car. It was a great time for the most part. I felt free and happy while doing it on the open road. If I had been old enough, I would probably have thought of it as an escape from the everyday routines and mundane, unpleasant realities of life. As I decided to read this book, I wanted to read a story filled with adventure, funny stories and dealing with tough subject matter that was not too depressing. With the premise above, I felt “The Leisure Seeker” was a first person account of adventure filled with a lot of comedy, a little sadness and just the right amount of realism. Michael Zadoorian tells an amazing story told from Ella Robina’s point of view. You felt like you were riding along with them in their Leisure Seeker RV experiencing what they were doing at every turn. This story is “Fried Green Tomatoes meets “Driving Miss Daisy” meets “The Notebook” all rolled into one story.

I believe that if you are looking for a raw honest assessment of life through the mind of an elderly woman you will enjoy this book. Ella curses sporadically throughout their adventures. She uses G. D. the most often. If you are looking for a Christian story with no salty language this is not the one for you. But if you do, I believe you are missing out on an unforgettable story and quite possibly a life changing one because of how it looks at a Cancer victim and her prince with Alzheimer’s.

While I did not like the predictable ending and the unnecessary cursing, I believe this is a great adventure story filled with truths learned when dealing with elderly parents who escape to live and breathe. I can understand this story from the older children’s prospective also because I have had several family members who also had Alzheimer’s. I also have felt the fear and smothering effects of Cancer told by friends and family who have now died or still are survivors of a powerful disease.
I am glad that I read The Leisure Seeker and give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Be blessed!

Reviewed by: Bradley

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Shawn Lamb's Allon ~ Reviewed

Shawn Lamb
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 287 pages
Publisher: Creation House (January 5, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1599798913

Book Description:

ALLON is a fantasy tale about a kingdom groaning under the oppressive rule of King Marcellus. Yet the King is also enslaved - to the evil spirit Dagar. The entire citizenry of ALLON holds fast to the prophecy that a new ruler will come, brought by the Guardians. He will bring peace. He will bring justice. He will bring love.

"He" is teenager Prince Ellis, an exile from ALLON who faces trials to prove himself able to rule ALLON and return it to glory. Ultimately, Prince Ellis must defeat Marcellus and the power behind the throne before ALLON can be restored.

ALLON - a magical tale of adventure, destiny, and faith.


Shawn Lamb's Allon has all the ingredients of a fantasy adventure ~ a heroic prince, an evil power, mythical creatures, a perilous journey, romance, danger and faith parallels. I appreciated the effort put into this story but a more simple approach would have made for an easier to follow story. A multiplicity of characters and overly complex storyline left me feeling a little confused in the first half of the book. The second half picked up the pace and the loose ends are brought together in a climactic finish. Aimed at a young audience, I hope the subsequent stories flesh out many of the positive themes introduced in Allon, with a less complicated approach.

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Monday, May 10, 2010

Janice Thompson's It Had to Be You ~ Reviewed

It Had to Be You
By Janice Thompson
Published by Revell
ISBN 978-0-8007-3344-5


Bella couldn’t be happier that two of her long-feuding relatives have finally admitted their love for one another and are getting married. Their forties-style wedding is sure to be a night to remember. But when the Rossi house begins to fill up with family from Italy—and an old mobster from New Jersey—life starts to get complicated. Will a friend from the past drive the happy couple apart once more? And will Bella ever have time to think of her own rapidly approaching wedding amid the chaos?


Janice Thompson is a master wordsmith and It Had to be You is romantic comedy at its best. You'll fall in love with Rossi clan and laugh your way through their misadventures, including the evangelizing parrot, Guido. Thoroughly entertaining, reading It Had to Be You is a cinematographic experience. Novel Journey and I give It Had to Be You a high recommendation.

Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan
Editor, Novel Journey


Love is in the air, and not just for Bella the wedding planner, and her boyfriend DJ, in It Had to Be You. Love brings families together with Italian passion and food. The family is celebrating the marriage of Rosa and Lazarro. Bella grew up with her favorite Aunt Rosa and Uncle Lazarro, and since this is such a huge event, everything has to be just right. Bella hopes to bring Aunt Rosa’s dream wedding and reception come true. Of course, Aunt Rosa has to help and can’t keep out of the kitchen. By the sounds of the reception menu, I would love to attend this wedding with the great food and big band swing dancing.

Sparks start to fly - not only in the love department and in the planning of Rosa and Lazarro’s wedding, but between family members as they start arriving from Italy to join the celebration. There are many surprises and things to catch up on!

It Had To Be You is the third book in the 'Wedding by Bella' series. Janice Thompson has captured the essence of the Italian-American family in this series full of love, respect, fun, food and music. Thanks to your books Janice, I've been taken away from the worries of the day and swept me into Bella's world, with her and her family, and all the incredible weddings she was contracted to do. It can’t get any better than, family, food and dancing. I’m there!! Thanks for the memories Janice, great R&R and the spiritual thread that ran through all three books. Janice talked about God, how to love well and how to get close to Him and each other. This spiritual thread radiated in a fun but powerful way in this series. I had so much fun. I can’t wait to see where Janice Thompson will take me in her next series.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
ACFW Book Club Coordinator

Bonus Review:

This book is absolute fun from start to finish! I have a few words of caution though; this book may make you start singing and dancing due to vivid descriptions of swing music and dancing and also WILL make your mouth water with description upon tantalizing description of authentic Italian food. The story is cute and lighthearted. A story of friends, family, true love, and (as I mentioned before) food. You’ll fall in love with the quirky Rossi family, particularly Bella as she juggles her job as a wedding planner with family life and living out God’s will. Another thing I liked was that the author uses Frank Sinatra songs as book titles and swing music song titles as chapter names. This is an amazing tale, third in the series “Weddings By Bella” and I am definitely going to read the other three books!

Reviewed by: Rachael Schnikter

Thursday, May 06, 2010

2010 Christy Award Nominees: Congratulations to All of You!

The 2010 Christy Award nominees are:


Breach of Trust by DiAnn Mills • Tyndale House Publishers

How Sweet It Is by Alice J. Wisler • Bethany House Publishers: a Division of Baker Publishing Group
Stand-In Groom by Kaye Dacus • Barbour Publishing


Who Do I Talk To? by Neta Jackson • Thomas Nelson

The Hope of Refuge by Cindy Woodsmall • WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group
Daisy Chain by Mary DeMuth • Zondervan


June Bug by Chris Fabry • Tyndale House Publishers

The Passion of Mary-Margaret by Lisa Samson • Thomas Nelson
Veiled Freedom by Jeanette Windle • Tyndale House Publishers


The Familiar Stranger by Christina Berry • Moody Publishers

Fireflies in December by Jennifer Erin Valent • Tyndale House Publishers
Scared by Tom Davis • David C. Cook


A Flickering Light by Jane Kirkpatrick • WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group

Though Waters Roar by Lynn Austin • Bethany House Publishers: a Division of Baker Publishing Group
The Swiss Courier by Tricia Goyer & Mike Yorkey • Revell Books: a Division of Baker Publishing Group


Beyond This Moment by Tamera Alexander • Bethany House Publishers: a Division of Baker Publishing Group

A Bride in the Bargain by Deeanne Gist • Bethany House Publishers: a Division of Baker Publishing Group
The Inheritance by Tamera Alexander • Thomas Nelson
The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen • Bethany House Publishers: a Division of Baker Publishing Group


Intervention by Terri Blackstock • Zondervan

Lost Mission by Athol Dickson • Howard Books: a Division of Simon & Schuster
The Night Watchman by Mark Mynheir • WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group


By Darkness Hid by Jill Williamson • Marcher Lord Press

The Enclave by Karen Hancock • Bethany House Publishers: a Division of Baker Publishing Group
Valley of the Shadow by Tom Pawlik • Tyndale House Publishers


Beautiful by Cindy Martinusen-Coloma • Thomas Nelson

The Blue Umbrella by Mike Mason • David C. Cook
North! or Be Eaten by Andrew Peterson • WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Mary Connealy's Wildflower Bride ~ Reviewed

Wildflower Bride
Mary Connealy
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (May 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602601445

Product Description:

Welcome to the wilds of Montana, where humor, romance, and suspense ride the range. Glowing Sun, a white woman raised by the Flathead tribe, has vague memories of her former life, including a name—Abby Lind. When she’s forced to sever all links with her adopted family, Abby wonders if she’ll ever find a home again. Tenderhearted Wade Sawyer, responsible for Abby’s survival during the village massacre, convinces the knife-wielding woman to return with him to the Sawyer Ranch, never realizing danger lurks behind every corner. Can they survive long enough to fall in love?


“What kind of Christian would I be if I was forgiven so much and then I wouldn’t forgive you?” (p. 314)

Wildflower Bride is a book filled with cantankerous characters and dangerous situations, yet Mary Connealy is able to lasso these wild situations with God’s mercy and grace, and the outcome is truly entertaining! Wade Sawyer and Glowing Sun (aka Abby) knew each other in a previous story, and now it is time for them to take center stage in Connealy’s Montana Marriages series. The story begins in a very difficult and dangerous situation for both the main characters, and it isn’t long before they enter into even more uncertain circumstances. The road that Wade and Abby must travel – the direction God has indeed ordained for them alone – is not an easy one. Wade must go back to a father who has hated and abused him, and he takes Abby, already wounded and broken, into this very dysfunctional household. Once there, they begin to discover that a greater evil is at work around them, and they must truly fight to survive.

I’ve read several of Mary’s stories at this point, and Wildflower Bride brings out what I love most in her writing. Wade and Abby - especially Abby – are just hurting, stubborn, newly born Christians who are trying to cling to God with a fragile faith that is full of questions. Wade’s dad is just plain mean, but he too has been broken and tried, and Wade must choose whether or not he will be faithful to be salt and light to his father or whether or not he will leave as he’s done in the past. Wade is also drawn to Abby, but she is as likely to pull a knife on him as speak to him, so he is never certain where he stands with her. Add to this the humorous, cantankerous relationship between Red and Cassie, the rebellious but loving Belle and Silas Harden, and a mean group of rustlers and this book takes you on a wild bronco ride straight to the heart of grace!

Mary doesn’t hold back when she has her characters discuss and explore their faith. She is generous with her humor, and I just about rolled reading about Cassie and her knife throwing lessons! Belle is still as ornery as ever, and is doing a great job teaching all the women in her life to be independent even though her own heart has been lassoed and hog-tied by her latest husband! To be honest, there is a lot of human nature that everyone will recognize and identify within the story. The broken relationship between Wade and his dad is eerily similar to the relationship I have observed between two men in my own life, and is very realistic. More than anything, what rings true is the fact that God loves us, even in our brokenness, and is faithful to bring us through trials and straight into His loving arms.

Wildflower Bride is a jewel in Mary Connealy’s writing crown, and I highly recommend it to you! Jump in and hang on! It’s a wild ride!

Reviewed by: Kim Ford


As the third book in the Montana Marriages series, "Wildflower Bride" brings another comedic romance off the pages an into the imagination of readers. Although starting the novel knowing that this was a story of a character that I despised in the beginning of the series it was amazing how author Mary Connealy was able to bring a character's personality into favor for me. The first two books in this series are my favorite from Mary so far. I cannot wait for future stories!

Wade Sawyer, a man changed finds himself in love with Abby Linscott also known as Glowing Sun. Observing the changes in Wade's behavior and soul makes a painful yet hopeful example that anyone can change. Abby born to a white family yet raised by a Flathead Indian tribe after the early death of her birth family then finds herself alone again after the massacre of her tribe. Through the strength of God, Wade is able to return home to face his abusive father and Abby is given the opportunity to open her heart and trust that she will not be alone again. These pages provide a hopeful story of love that will entertain.

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Monday, May 03, 2010

Vickie McDonough's The Anonymous Bride ~ Reviewed

By Vickie McDonough
Published By: Barbour
347 Pages

Back Cover:

Luke Davis, marshal of Lookout, Texas, flippantly tells his cousin he'd get married if the right woman ever came along. When three mail-order brides are delivered to Luke a month later, he's in an uncomfortable predicament. How will he ever choose his mate? Rachel Hamilton's long-time love for Luke is reignited with his return to town. So when three mail-order brides appear, she panics. Will she find the courage to tell Luke that she loves him? Or take an anonymous part in the contest for his hand?


The Anonymous Bride is a fun filled Wild West adventure I couldn’t put down and didn’t want to end. I enjoyed every minute of this book - a book that gets to the heart and truth about forgiveness, what it is, what it looks like and how we can begin to forgive ourselves and others in our lives. This is the first book I've read by this author. I’m so thankful for a review copy of such a fun and meaningful book.

I instantly adored the author's characters. Their intetaction reminded me a little bit of how the Clampets related to one another in the show 'Beverly Hillbillies'—western style! I smiled whenever young Jacqueline, who insisted on being called Jack, spoke up. Here is what she says to the new Marshall, “You put that dog in jail? What did he do?”

“Stealing and being a public nuisance.” Marshall says forcing away a grin....“heard tell he snatched a pie right out of Myrtle Williams’ kitchen window.”

“Marshall, what’s gonna happen to the dog? You ain’t gonna hang’m are you?", Jack said in all seriousness.

I loved Jack’s zest for life, her innocence and how she wasn’t afraid to tell people what she thought. Rachael Hamilton, Jack’s mom, who’s lived in the town of Lookout most of her life, thought things were good until Luke Davis came back to town as the new Marshall. There were hurt feelings between the two of them and for good reason! Could Luke Davis ever forgive Rachael for her betrayal? Rachael didn’t think so—could she take his daily rejection?

Three young ladies show up in their little town, claiming to be mail-order brides for Marshall Luke Davis. Luke doesn’t know anything about these ladies and the whole town explodes in excitement trying to make sense of it all. The Mayor suggests a contest between the women to win the Marshall’s favor and create some fun for the town - and boy did the fun begin!!

This is the first book in the Texas Boardinghouse series by Vickie McDonough. The sequel "Second Chance Brides" will be released the Fall of 2010...I can’t wait.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent

ACFW Book Club Coordinator


I love this book. In the way that I absolutely adore the writing of Christian Historical Romantic Comedy Author Mary Connealy, I now feel the same about Vickie McDonough. This book had me gasp and inwardly scream. I laughed out loud and snickered to myself. I turned the pages without abandon and I am so eagerly excited for the next book in the series Second Chance Brides that I forget about the pile of to-be-read books waiting for my attentions.

There are many books and authors that ...more I love this book. In the way that I absolutely adore the writing of Christian Historical Romantic Comedy Author Mary Connealy, I now feel the same about Vickie McDonough. This book had me gasp and inwardly scream. I laughed out loud and snickered to myself. I turned the pages without abandon and I am so eagerly excited for the next book in the series Second Chance Brides that I forget about the pile of to-be-read books waiting for my attentions.

There are many books and authors that I like, but you have to be something really special for me to absolutely love it. And I love it. I recommend this book without fail. Read it, love it, and escape within the pages to a humorous situation in a historical time that will leave you laughing, giggling and sighing with satisfaction of a wonderful read.

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Sunday, May 02, 2010

ACFW May Book Releases

1. Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes. The day she left home Jenny Lucas promised herself she'd never look back. Now, nearly six years later, she returns determined to have a say in who will raise her little girl when she's gone. From Tyndale.

2. Almost Forever by Deborah Raney –– A Hanover Falls Novel. The survivors of five fallen firefighters band together to heal and try to understand the tragedy that took the lives of their loved ones.

3. A Quiet Place; A Tabor Heights Novel by Michelle Levigne -- A Romance from Desert Breeze. Tabor Heights -- A friendly little town on Ohio's North Coast, where the members of one church help each other in their journeys of faith, learning, and love.

4. Betsey's Return; Book 2 in the Brides of Lehigh Canal series by Wanda E. Brunstetter -- An Historical from Barbour. After being left once at the altar, Pastor William vowed to serve the Lord alone. But that was before Betsy's Return.

5. Black Hills Blessing; A 3-in-1 Collection by Mary Connealy -- Three Contemporary Romances from from Barbour. Buffalo owner butts heads with an ornery cattleman; a lady rancher has a cantankerous neighbor; A doormat wife stands up to her tyrant husband. Who will survive when worlds collide?

6. Clara and the Cowboy by Erica Vetsch -- A Romance from Heartsong Presents. Alec takes on robbers, rustlers, and kidnappers, but his greatest challenge will be taking on Clara, his boss's daughter.

7. Finding Jeena; Book 2, Homecoming Series by Miralee Ferrell -- Women's Fiction from Kregel. Shaken to the core at the threat of losing everything, Jeena is confronted with her prejudices and with a God she had long forgotten.

8. In Harm's Way; Heroes of Quantico, Book 3 by Irene Hannon -- A Romance from Revell. An abducted infant, a tattered Raggedy Ann doll, a terrified woman and a skeptical FBI agent come together in what Publishers Weekly calls "an ever-climactic mystery."

9. It Had to Be You; the third and final novel in the "Weddings by Bella" series by Janice Thompson -- General Fiction from Barbour. Bella couldn't be happier that her long-feuding Aunt Rosa and Uncle Lazarro have finally admitted their love for one another and are getting married. Their forties-style wedding is sure to be a night to remember.

10. Kate's Philadelphia Frenzy; Camp Club Girls Series, Book 5 by Janice Hanna -- General Fiction from Barbour. The Camp Club Girls series introduces young readers to six friends who meet at church camp and solve mysteries together.

11. Legendary Space Pilgrims by Grace Bridges -- A Sci-fi/Fantasy/Futuristic from Splashdown. If Pilgrim's Progress were a space opera, it might look something like this: two young seekers on a journey of discovery, searching for freedom and a planet to call home.

12. Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico by Lena Nelson Dooley -- An Historical Romance from Summerside Press. Heroine in peril becomes a mail-order bride. . .gone awry

13. Love is Monumental; Book 2, A Walk in the Park by Annalisa Daughety -- A Contemporary Romance from Barbour. Finding love has become a feat of monumental proportions for a shy park ranger.

14. Morning for Dove; Book 2, Winds Across the Prairie by Martha Rogers -- An Historical from Realms, a Division of Strang Communications. Luke and Dove struggle against prejudice and a deadly natural disaster for their love.

15. No Other; Protecting the Witnesses LIS continuity series--book #3 by Shawna K. Williams -- An Historical from Desert Breeze. Jakob Wilheimer longs for healing after his family's internment during WWII, but will freeing Meri from the captivity of her upbringing heal them both, or tear them apart?

16. Nowhere Carolina; Book 2, Southern Discomfort Series by Tamara Leigh -- A Romance from Waterbrook. When Maggie Pickwick's teenaged daughter decides it's time she knew the identity of her father, Maggie's carefully balanced world begins to teeter.

17. Seeds of Summer; Book 2, Seasons of the Tall Grass by Deborah Vogts -- A Romance from Zondervan. When a former Miss Rodeo Kansas queen returns home after her father's death to care for the family ranch and her two younger siblings, what follows is a summer full of change, life-lessons and an unexpected romance with the new minister in Diamond Falls

18. So Over My Head; Book 3, Charmed Life Series by Jenny B. Jones -- General Fiction from Thomas Nelson. Newly single, stalked by a killer, and in desperate need of some chic clown shoes,˜ Bella is one mocha frapp away from a total meltdown.

19. The Heiress; New Jersey Historical Series Book 2 by Laurie Alice Eakes -- An Historical from Barbour. Desperate for money, Daire Grassick sells a family heirloom to a lady he doesn't know, only to discover it holds a secret formula for glass without which his family will be ruined.

20. The Narrow Path by Gail Sattler -- A Romance from Abingdon. When they must combine efforts for the most important event in Ted's church's history, can modern Mennonite Miranda Klassen and Old Order Mennointe Ted Wiebe find peace somewhere in the middle?

21. The Wedding Garden; Book 3, Redemption River by Linda Goodnight -- A Romance from Love Inspired. Join RITA and ACFW Award-winning author, Linda Goodnight, in "Redemption River", where healing flows.

22. The Weight of Shadows by Alison Strobel -- Women's Fiction from Zondervan. Kim has found a way to suffer for her sins and ease her guilt--but is her relief more important than her innocent daughter's safety?

23. They Almost Always Come Home by Cynthia Ruchti -- Women's Fiction from Abingdon. He was supposed to go fishing, not missing.

24. To Be a Mother by Ruth Axtell Morren and Cheryl St. John -- Romance from Steeple Hill. Two heartwarming stories of non-traditional families becoming families in a very traditional sense.

25. White Roses by Shannon Taylor VanAtter -- A Romance from Heartsong Presents. Can a heart-broken florist and a widowed pastor reclaim romance after their lives collide among the thorns?

26. Wildflower Bride; Book 2, Montana Marriages by Mary Connealy -- A Romance from Barbour. Glowing Sun, a white woman raised by the Flathead tribe, has never met a man she didn't want to pull a knife on, including the man determined to marry her.