Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sandra Bricker's Always the Baker, Never the Bride

Always the Baker Never the Bride
By Sandra D. Bricker
Published by Abingdon Press
ISBN 978-1-4267-0762-9


They say you can have your cake and eat it too. But who would want a cake they couldn't eat? Just ask Emma Rae Travis about that. She's a baker of confections who is diabetic and can't enjoy them. When Emma meets Jackson Drake, the escapee from Corporate America who is starting a wedding destination hotel who fulfill a dream that belonged to someone else, this twosome and their crazy family ties bring new meaning to the term "family-circus." The Atlanta social scene will never be the same.


With a cast of zany characters, Bricker serves up another rollicking read in Always the Baker Never the Bride. She's a master at weaving humor and romance into some of the most unlikely characters you'll ever fall in love with.

Talk about dysfunctional families, Emma's mother and father are hilarious yet somehow endearing. Her sidekick and assistant baker is Goth Fiona, whose self-appointed mission in life is to keep Emma healthy. Add in Jackson's three sisters who run his life and his hotel, and you have a recipe for pure entertainment. Novel Journey and I give it a high recommendation.

Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan
Editor, Novel Journey

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Kaye Dacus's Ransome's Crossing ~ Reviewed

Ransome's Crossing (Ransome Trilogy Series #2)
by Kaye Dacus
Pub. Date: July 2010
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
Format: Paperback, 336pp
ISBN-13: 9780736927543


Maybe it is because Charlotte is my daughter's name. Maybe it's because Charlotte Doyle is the first character is a book that made me love reading and become a book-a-holic from age twelve. Maybe it is because Charlotte Ransome also known as Charles Lott is just an incredible character. Whatever the reason, I thoroughly enjoyed my adventure through this second journey in the life of the Ransome family and cannot wait for the third book in the series, Ransome's Quest coming July 2011.

I was about twelve years old when I discovered The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi. I was swept away on an adventure in the life of a teenage Charlotte to be working as a boy on a ship across the ocean. Now true that was not exactly the plot, but that is what I remember. Yet in this story, we truly get a Charlotte who purposefully pretended to be a male Charles Lott to get herself across the ocean to Jamaica. Different destination, but oh such a delightful story. (So much better than my childhood favorite).

Through out the entire tale, I could not turn the pages fast enough. I struggled with what I would do in the situations that were faced by both Charlotte and Julia. I became nervous during the storms at sea and held out hope for romance. Each chapter was a delight and entertaining. What an adventure and beauty on the page. I love just about everything I have read from Kaye Dacus and I'm always eager for more!!

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Mary Connealy's Doctor in Petticoats ~ Reviewed

Doctor in Petticoats (Sophie's Daughters)
Mary Connealy
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books; Sophie's Daughters Series edition (July 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602601461


In the wake of a stagecoach accident, doctor Alex Buchanan and nurse Beth McClellan discover that they're both skilled healers who work well together. Other than that, they have nothing in common! She's an idealist and he's a jaded army deserter fleeing a bounty hunter. Surely their alliance ends here . . . or does it?


Mary Connealy always serves up an appealing story, where love and laughs abound. Sophie's Daughters is her newest series centered on the lives of the young daughters of her lead character in a previous novel, Petticoat Ranch. You will not find wilting wallflowers in Mary's stories, and Beth McLennan epitomizes a Connealy heroine, feisty, independent and disdainful of most men. Enter a dirty, slightly crazed, army deserter and there is plenty of fodder for fun and emotional conflict and even a serious twist with a look at post traumatic stress disorder before it even had a name. Doctor in Petticoats is sure to add spunk and colour to your day!

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Bonus Review:

Every time I finish reading a new book from Mary Connealy I am astonished at how well I have been entertained. I giggled, I cried and I had a desire to throw the book across the room in response to the "bad guys". Doctor in Petticoats is no different on that line of thinking. I was not disappointed and nor will any reader of Mary Connealy be unhappy with this novel.

This is the first book in the Sophie's Daughter series, it comes after Lassoed in Texas series and the Montana Marriages Trilogy. While I was reading I knew that it was to be a continuation of the Lassoed in Texas series as the first book there, Petticoat Ranch is Sophie's story. I was not prepared to find an interwoven continuation of the Montana Marriages Trilogy, I literally cried with happiness. :) In part this was a story about the oldest daughter Beth, but it was also about the next daughter Mandy. So many personalities on the page and full on entertainment.

Beth McCellen finds a groom and way to be a real Doctor in Alex Buchanan. Mandy follows her heart into a marriage that might be the biggest mistake she ever made. I love this book and start of a new series, I cannot wait for the second book in Wrangler in Petticoats and then especially the third in the series Sharpshooter in Petticoats to continue Mandy and her sisters' stories.

*Thanks to Shalyn Sattler of Barbour Books for providing a copy for review.*

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Monday, September 27, 2010

Teryl Cartwright's Courting Constance ~ Reviewed

Courting Constance
By Teryl Cartwright
Vintage Reflections Publishing 2010
ISBN 978-0-9819896-9-3

Review by Michelle Griep

“I will make him love me again.”

With this vow, Constance Alford, realizing she may have lost the only love of her
life, pursues her former fiancĂ© relentlessly. She isn’t surprised to discover Sir Geoffrey isn’t at all interested in his not so ‘secret’ admirer. And when her creative attempts to win him back fail, Constance begins to think that her best, most daring plan of all still won’t be enough.

Still suffering from the sting of Constance’s earlier rejection, Sir Geoffrey also
has a plan for the resourceful Miss Alford, although his ideas revolve more around
revenge. She would pay for trifling with the love he once offered her. He would make her truly love him and then walk away from her, finally and forever. But his heart gets in the way of his ideas, and he soon finds himself at the mercy of his own plans.

What I liked most about Courting Constance is the setting. Author Teryl
Cartwright takes the reader on a lovely visit to Bath, England. Her attention to detail has you tasting the awful medicinal waters and biting on a Sally Lunn bun right along with the characters.

If you’re looking for a sweet read on a rainy day, this is the book for you.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

John Aubrey Anderson's The Cool Woman ~ Reviewed

The Cool Woman: A Novel [Paperback]
John Aubrey Anderson
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Fidelis (July 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0805464808


In 1970, Bill Mann, a pilot who sought to make aerial combat his guiding star, is already lost whether he knows it or not. Although he's at the top of his Air Force class and marries a beautiful girl, his life is centered on drinking and partying-perhaps a way to escape the haunting memory of having to kill two white men who beat his black mother to death when he was ten years old. Upon leaving to spend a year in Vietnam flying combat missions aboard his aircraft, The Cool Woman, Bill remains confident and considers himself "the envied of the envied." But soon enough his wife is leaving him, and a downward spiral of Mann's heart, soul, and survival odds has begun.


War is brutal, devastating and soul shattering yet it can also be a baptism of fire that refines an ordinary man into a courageous warrior willing to sacrifice his life for another. From personal experience, John Aubrey Anderson exposes the harsh realities of the Vietnam war through the heroic journey of Lieutenant Bill Mann, a young fighter pilot with all the swagger and confidence that comes with a man who believes he was born to fly.

John's writing is riveting and authentic, with brilliant pacing and intensive characterization. The combat scenes are so visceral you will feel every bullet, explosion and heartbeat and will be left breathless. The deep, emotional scars of violent conflict and methods of escapism are honestly explored both amongst the pilots and their families back home. Heart wrenching, evocative and powerful, covering the barbaric to the sacrificial and the catastrophic to the miraculous, The Cool Woman is a unique and challenging story, with an unashamedly direct message of faith. With this epic military adventure, unlike anything else you will find in Christian Fiction, John Aubrey Anderson continues to impress me with his compelling and ingenious storytelling. If you are looking for an authentic, gritty and evocative read, The Cool Woman is a sure fire hit!

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Rick Acker's When the Devil Whistles ~ Reviewed

When the Devil Whistles
Rick Acker
ISBN-13: 978-1426707674
Pub. Date: October 1, 2010

Back Cover:

Allie Whitman is a professional whistleblower with a knack for sniffing out fraud in government contracts. Conner Norman is a gifted litigator and together they form Devil to Pay, Inc., a shell corporation that files lawsuits based on Allie s investigations. They soon find themselves fighting potentially fatal battles in and out of the courtroom, going great lengths to protect secrets that could ruin them both.


The cover and title of Rick Acker’s latest novel, When the Devil Whistles, intrigued me. I wanted to know what that meant, what that sounded like, felt like. To dance on the edge of sin, tottering between doing what was right even if it felt totally wrong and giving in to our innate desire to protect self at all costs.

When The Devil Whistles is your typical conspiracy theory with a romantic twist. A handsome, wealthy, and extremely honest (sounds like an oxymoron, I know.) lawyer is out to save the world from high-dollar fraud and the beautiful Allie Whitman is more than happy to help him. Acting as his whistle blower, she jumps from one job to the next, uncovering Enron-like scams, all the while filling her bank account with proceeds from the lucrative settlements. With every case won, she sends a portion of her cut to her widowed mother. But don’t be fooled, Allie Whitman is far from the doting daughter, scam-breaker she would have us believe. Dodging shameful secrets from the past and present, whatever good lies within her is twisted into a mess of obligation, shame, fear, and confusion. Torn between two loves—her twisted attachment to the meth-addict rock star she lives with and her deep longings for the choir-boy lawyer she works for—she finds her boundary lines beginning to fade.

And what about her righteous lawyer friend, the one out to save the world toting his super-hero cape covered in boy-scout badges? It doesn’t take long for his black and white world to turn various shades of gray, reminding him of the phrase spoken by his grandfather: “You are what you are when the devil whistles.”

Although this novel was jam-packed with conflict—from big-business conspiracies, to threats of nuclear war—it left me with mixed emotions. Rick Acker did a wonderful job of demonstrating what life is like for whistle-blowers, their lawyers, and investigators at the Department of Justice, but at times, probably largely due to my ignorance of such matters, I was confused by the events and descriptions presented. There were also times I found the information to be slightly redundant. And yet, having read When The Devil Whistles, I learned a great deal about company fraud and the resulting government investigations.

It was clear a lot of research went into the making of this book. The reader learns a little bit about warfare, piloting, law, courtroom procedures, whistle-blowing, the Department of Justice, and underwater tracking equipment. Those who like to learn while they read will find this novel very fulfilling. And for the rest of us on the look-out for a pleasant read, it was nice to see a good, clean thriller that was able to accurately portray the darker side of society without dragging the reader through the mud. And I found the discussion questions, explanations, and information Acker provided at the end of the book to be very interesting.

Reviewed by: Jennifer Slattery

Bonus Review:

I was thrilled to receive a review copy of a book with such an intriguing subject. This author weaves a suspenseful and dramatic story I stayed up late reading to find out what happened next. Rick Acker gives us a sneak peek into his day job as a deputy attorney general in California Department of Justices Department. This author takes the reader inside and out of a high profile criminal case. It was captivating and chilling.

Rick says, "I try to put as little fiction as possible into my novels. Partly because I owe it to readers like you to get my facts right...I also enjoy the research, talking to fighter pilots and scientists, … visiting museums and labs.." Not only does Rick Acker pen a suspenseful, legal drama but I learn so much when I read his books. He takes the reader places we normally wouldn't go. I like that.

This book reminded me of the movie Duplicity with Julia Roberts and Clive Owen. I had to pay close attention to the set up in the beginning so I would catch the sting. Rick does the same with this book. He doesn't bog you down with too much but just enough to peek inside this fascinating and scary subject. I had no idea a devil whistle blower existed and how they function in an actual case. This author states he has prosecuted corporate fraud law suits like those described in this novel.

The main female character is Allie, a young smart business woman who knows what she wants and goes after it. Allie says this about her temp work with large companies, "The first day of a new temp job was normally an exciting time. She was a spy setting foot in an energy country for the first time - an undercover Jane Bond who had tricked her way into the heart of a malevolent conspiracy to steal taxpayer dollars. The contrast and between her blah cover and her secret mission - spiced with just a touch of danger - was absolutely delicious."

I enjoyed Allie and felt compassion for the guilt that plagued her. Allie’s partner, Connor, was a brilliant attorney who prided himself on bringing in the bad guy. He says to Allie, "We really do get to fight crime. I love that - I wish everyone took the law as seriously as we do. If you commit a crime, you should pay the price. Every. Single. Time. No excuses, no compromises.

They were a great team until Allie gets caught in a serious situation she can’t share with anyone. She didn't want to hurt Connor. But the hand was dealt. She had no control over what happened next! It’s a deadly game they played especially if the whistle blower is caught. The walls of Allie's perfect little world start to crumble when she starts to take matters into her own hands!

I took this book with me everywhere I went. I was mesmerized by this unusual story, and his wide array of characters! You won't want to miss this author’s new book, it’ will make you want to check out his others!

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network

Bonus Review:

Alongside Randy Singer, Rick Acker is my favourite writer of legal thrillers and he does not disappoint with his latest novel, When the Devil Whistles. This is an intriguing and well paced novel that exposes the difficult and dangerous role professional whistleblowers play in unearthing corruption in companies. Connor Norman is a typical Acker character, decisive and honest yet with a weakness that makes him vulnerable and Allie is a good foil for him, a woman searching for meaning and purpose and so not your typical heroine in a Christian novel. With fascinating insight into the legal implications, excellent suspense and imminent danger, When the Devil Whistles is an engaging and entertaining read. More please, Rick!

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Lorna Seilstad's Making Waves ~ Reviewed

Making Waves: A Novel (Lake Manawa Summers) [Paperback]
Lorna Seilstad
Paperback: 363 pages
Publisher: Revell (September 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0800734459


When spunky Marguerite Westing discovers that her family will summer at Lake Manawa in 1895, she couldn't be more thrilled. It is the perfect way to escape her agonizingly boring suitor, Roger Gordon. It's also where she stumbles upon two new loves: sailing, and sailing instructor Trip Andrews. But this summer of fun turns to turmoil as her father's gambling problems threaten to ruin the family forever. Will free-spirited Marguerite marry Roger to save her father's name and fortune? Or will she follow her heart--even if it means abandoning the family she loves? Author Lorna Seilstad's fresh and entertaining voice will whisk readers away to a breezy lakeside summer holiday. Full of sharp wit and blossoming romance, Making Waves is the first book in the LAKE MANAWA SUMMERS series.


Once I found out this novel was set in my hometown I could not resist it. But, romance isn't my favorite genre and I was worried that my thrill over learning some historical information in my back yard would be bogged down in annoying boy girl drama.

That was not the case. I ended up finding the story almost as intriguing as the history set around a large lake in my community. I've heard stories about Lake Manawa at the turn of the 19th century but haven't been able to picture life at that time. Council Bluffs resident Lorna Seilstad, brought life and breath into a fascinating era and three dimensional characters.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Bonus Review:

Lorna Seilstad's debut novel will have fans of Mary Connealy and Deeanne Gist sitting up and taking notice! Making Waves is a delightful novel, replete with wit, adventure and an attractive sailing instructor ahead of his time. Marguerite's newly found passion for sailing in an era where women were forbidden from such past-times is refreshing and Trip's willingness, despite his initial reluctance, to teach her makes for both a fun and interesting read. Roger's utter incompatibility with Marguerite is so obvious that her failure to end the relationship from the get go is a bit unrealistic, particularly given Marguerite's forthright and stubborn personality. That being said, Roger and the havoc he causes is essential to the storyline. With a good look at the consequences of untruthful behavior, Making Waves is an excellent beginning to Lorna's writing journey and I look forward to meeting more unique characters like Marguerite and Trip in A Great Catch, releasing in 2011.

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Charlene Baumbich's Divine Appointments ~ Reviewed

Divine Appointments
by Charlene Ann Baumbich
Published by WaterBrook Press, Sept 21, 2010
ISBN-10: 0-307-44472-4


Josie Brooks, at the age of 47, thought she was leading an enviable single life. A successful consultant, she calls her own shots, goes where the money is, and never needs to compromise. But her precisely managed world begins to falter during a Chicago contract when an economic downturn, a bleeding heart boss, and the loyalty and kindness between endangered employees ding her coat of armor.

Throw in hot flashes, a dose of loneliness, a peculiar longing for intimacy and unquenchable thirst—not to mention a mysterious snowglobe with a serene landscape, complete with a flowing river and lush greenery that seems to be beckoning her in—and Josie's buttoned-up sense of status quo is on the verge of coming completely apart.

It will take friends, a mystical encounter, and an unexpected journey to set Josie on her own path to "right-sizing" and making the life changes that really matter.


In a delightful coming-of-age story at 47, I found Josie to be a feisty character with a tough shell in need of cracking. The mystical snowglobe is an added speculative twist that tickles the imagination. With characters including a melodramatic wannabe writer, one cheerful encourager, and a "bleeding-heart" hero, I thoroughly enjoyed Divine Appointments. Snuggled up with a warm throw and a cup of hot tea, Novel Journey and I recommend it for a great Fall read.

Ane Mulligan,
Editor, Novel Journey

Monday, September 20, 2010

Julie Lessman's A Hope Undaunted ~ Reviewed

A Hope Undaunted
By Julie Lessman
Published by Revell
ISBN# 978-0-8007-3451-2
505 Pages

Back Cover:

The 1920s are drawing to a close, and feisty Katie O'Connor is the epitome of the new woman--smart and sassy with goals for her future that include the perfect husband and a challenging career in law. Her boyfriend Jack fits all of her criteria for a husband--good-looking, well-connected, wealthy, and head-over-heels in love with her. But when she is forced to spend the summer of 1929 with Cluny McGee, the bane of her childhood existence, Katie comes face to face with a choice. Will she follow her well-laid plans to marry Jack? Or will she fall for the man she swore to despise forever?


I was thrilled to receive a review copy of this moving, heart warming epic story. I had read all three books in her Daughters of Boston series and couldn’t wait to read this first book in the Winds of Change series. The authors character descriptions with their reactions, to each other and their situations made me feel as if I were watching them on the big screen taking in every detail hook, line and sinker.

Katie O’Connor is the main character who is the youngest and feistiest of the O’Connor sisters. It’s the roaring twenties and Katie has big plans to marry rich, go to law school and be the first woman to gain a seat in Congress. She wants to be in a position of influence to change the flight of women and children.

Jack, Katie’s boyfriend, adores her and fits all the criteria for her plan beautifully, that is until Katie is forced to work with Luke McGee in the summer of 1929. Sparks start to fly between then on all fronts as they butt heads at work. They’d known each other as kids, Luke was mean back then, and it didn’t appear he changed much. Why did Luke bother her so much now? Couldn’t she let her childhood memories go?

Luke says, “You know, Katie, you’ve always been a cold and callous little thing, but I actually believed it was just a front. You know a thin coat of steel to protect your fragile little heart? But I was wrong. Seems that steel is as thick as that stubborn head of yours when it comes to making life decisions…You’re a cold, cold woman, Katie O’Connor…your ‘plan’ is your god, and God help anybody who gets in your way.”

“Katie couldn’t believe his words. …I want to be a lawyer, mother- to blaze the way for women who think they need a man to take care of them, women like Mrs. Rhodes at church—everyone knows that tyrant she lives with beats her. But will she leave? Not on her life. And in the end, it will probably cost her hers….. Was it wrong to have a plan? She had her plan! God was some fairy tale for weak people right?”

I thoroughly enjoyed every second I spent reading this book. I got caught up in the characters and their drama. I couldn’t believe Katie and the lengths she would go to in the progression of her plan. And the fight inside her heart to do what was right.

I got a kick out of the family gathers, filled with games, conflict, resolve, love and great fun. I felt as if I were in the middle of it all. I smiled big at the satisfying ending and a book filled with an array of colorful characters and their situations. Julie included the entire O’Connor clan the reader got to know in her other books, with a few amusing additions. Julie is a master story teller. I love how she naturally wove their struggle with God and his direction for their lives in this novel. It wasn’t preachy but realistic. Julie’s writing touches all the readers’ senses and pulls on your heart strings as she makes the reader feel as if really know and care about these people. This books a keeper and I feel her best book so far. I’ll definitely be reading this book again, you will too!

Reviewed by: Nora St. Laurent
The Book Club Network

Bonus Review:

Since the end of the Daughters of Boston series, Julie Lessman's devoted readers have been eagerly awaiting the release of A Hope Undaunted, heralding the Winds of Change trilogy and the ongoing saga of the O'Connor family. Katie and Cluny's journey was bound to be fiery, intense and heartfelt as Julie always writes from the heart with authenticity and courage. The uniqueness of Julie's prose reveals itself in palpable emotion and an almost unmatched ability to create vivacious characters that step from the pages and into the reader's heart and mind. Family drama, human tragedy and tempestuous love provide an evocative and compelling read that is impossible to put down. A Hope Undaunted is a brilliant read and sets high expectations for A Heart Revealed, the story of Katie's older brother Sean, the only O'Connor man determined to remain a bachelor!

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Friday, September 17, 2010

Michael Connelly's Scarecrow ~ Reviewed

The Scarecrow
Michael Connelly
Paperback: 576 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; Reprint edition (February 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 044640120X

Book Description:

Forced out of the Los Angeles Times amid the latest budget cuts, newspaperman Jack McEvoy decides to go out with a bang, using his final days at the paper to write the definitive murder story of his career.

He focuses on Alonzo Winslow, a 16-year-old drug dealer in jail after confessing to a brutal murder. But as he delves into the story, Jack realizes that Winslow's so-called confession is bogus. The kid might actually be innocent.

Jack is soon running with his biggest story since The Poet made his career years ago. He is tracking a killer who operates completely below police radar--and with perfect knowledge of any move against him. Including Jack's.


The Scarecrow was my first Michael Connelly novel and probably not my last. A book that delves into the sick mind that relishes a specific torture/murder scenario should be fairly graphic. However, Connelly keeps the gore and horror fairly low-key, hinting at most of it, which was refreshing because it doesn't take much to hit overkill.

Crime scene aficionados, creepy bad guy collectors, fractured mind fans, police procedural junkies, cyber-crime masterminds, and lone-wolf, and outside-the-law-hero lovers should find something to devour in Scarecrow.

A romantic thread was a little lukewarm -- I didn't buy into the passion between the characters. Content warning: Scarecrow is less graphic than I expected but the creepy guy is truly creepy and there are some disturbing "images." Also the F-Bomb makes lots of appearances, not on every page, but several scenes are riddled with it.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Kim Vogel Sawyer's Katy's New World ~ Reviewed

Katy’s New World
By Kim Vogel Sawyer
Published by
ISBN 978-0-310-71924-3


“Katy’s New World” is a wonderful inspirational read for teens and young adults. The first in the series written from fifteen year old Katy Lambright’s point of view, we are given a window into life and faith through her eyes. In this book, Katy is entering her sophomore year of high school. Now, this may not seem like a very interesting occurrence…until you learn that Katy is Mennonite. The Mennonite education only goes through ninth grade. As the first in her Mennonite community to continue high school, or even desire to do so, she is treated as a stranger within her community and at Salina High. Will Katy press on to learn all the things she wants to know? Will she be able to make new friends without losing those she’s had her entire life? Can she do all of this while clinging to her heritage, family, and faith? These things and many more are found in “Katy’s New World”.


This book was extremely interesting and written in an easy to read conversational style. It is not only a good story, but gives a good introduction on the Mennonite faith as well. Those who like reading about the Amish and Mennonite life styles would especially enjoy it. I highly recommend this book!

Reviewed by: Rachael Schnitker

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Erynn Magnum's Latte Daze ~ Reviewed

Latte Daze: A Maya Davis Novel (Maya Davis Series)
Erynn Mangum
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: NavPress (July 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1600067123


Maya Davis' life is in a buzz! Her apartment is "Wedding Central" since her ex-boyfriend proposed to her roommate. Jen's obnoxious mom moved in to help plan---and now Maya's brother and sister-in-law have announced their pregnancy. And then there's the matter of Jack---is it love or just really good French roast?


Maya Davis, barista, beagle lover and fledgling girlfriend returns in Latte Daze, another hilarious adventure by the talented Erynn Mangum. As Maya negotiates her best friend's wedding preparations, the revelation she is to become an Aunt and her new relationship with Jack, laughter, love and life lessons abound. Tender, sweet and authentic, Latte Daze affirms relationships of integrity and purity are not only possible but well worth pursuing. I'm ordering Double Shot to go!

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Monday, September 13, 2010

Dawn Miller's The Prophecy ~ Reviewed

The Prophecy
Dawn Miller
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (April 9, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310714338


Remember these words well. It's only a thin veil that separates them from our world. As time grows near, they will return to make their war upon mankind. They will torment, attack, and cause destruction on this planet. They will never hunger; they will never sleep. They will walk amongst us unseen. Invisible to all but those born to see. And each generation of five that sees shall endure more than the last. But the final generation of Watchers will not only endure, not only watch... ...THEY WILL FIGHT.


On the cover of this book there is a sticker that states "Guaranteed Good Read". Well they got that right! Dawn Miller is a new author to me, but I am not disappointed. I am very much a fan now. This book was incredible. Everything was easy to visualize and I felt the action and emotions as if I were there right along with the characters. It reminded me partially of that TV movie based on a book Fallen-something. But it was so much better. On the back cover it says that she is working ...more On the cover of this book there is a sticker that states "Guaranteed Good Read". Well they got that right! Dawn Miller is a new author to me, but I am not disappointed. I am very much a fan now. This book was incredible. Everything was easy to visualize and I felt the action and emotions as if I were there right along with the characters. It reminded me partially of that TV movie based on a book Fallen-something. But it was so much better. On the back cover it says that she is working on making this into graphic novel and feature film and oh that just gives me chill bumps I am so eager for it.

This is a story of entertainment, but it is with a great topic that breathes through every page. This is a book about faith. Faith when it is difficult and hard. Listening for God in all situations and living your life accordingly to his word and will. I am surprised at just how much I enjoyed this book. Though it is marketed for young adults, I think anyone could appreciate the story. The characters are teens/early twenties and far from perfect. But faith is a budding things in progress and I can see plausible redemption for all of them eventually. Taking the broken and putting them into a form of healing, the prophecy will bring them together and possibly keep them together.

Oh what will come in the rest of the series!

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Francine Rivers's Her Daughter's Dream ~ Reviewed

Her Daughter's Dream
By Francine Rivers
Published by Tyndale
ISBN 978-1-4143-3409-7


In this dramatic conclusion to Her Mother's Hope, Carolyn Arundel struggles to navigate her shifting family landscape and the changing times. With her mother, Hildemara, quarantined to her room with tuberculosis, Carolyn forms a special bond with her oma Marta, who moves in to care for the household. But as tensions between Hildie and Marta escalate, Carolyn believes she is to blame.

College offers Carolyn the chance to dins herself, but family tragedy shatters hew newfound independence. Rather than return home, she cuts all ties and disappears into the heady counterculture of Sam Francisco. When she reemerges two years later, more lost than ever, she reluctantly seeks help from her family to rebuild a life for her and her daughter, May Flower Dawn.

Just like Carolyn, May Flower Dawn develops a closer bond with her grandmother, Hildie, than with her mother, causing yet another rift between generations. But as Dawn struggles to avoid the mistake of those who went before her, she vows that somehow she will ne a bridge between the women in her family rather than a wall that separates them forever,


Hauntingly beautiful, Her Daughter's Dream explores the bonds of love between four generations of mothers and daughters. Francine Rivers holds nothing back in often fragile, always emotional, and sometimes explosive relationships between Marta, Hildemara, Carolyn, and Dawn. Decisions are based on past hurts, and emotional scars separate mother and daughter. Peeling back the emotional layers is painful and often impossible. They love one another, yet fearing rejection renders them unable to say the words so badly needed.

Like a beautiful melody, Her Daughter's Dream will stay with you long after you turn the last page. Novel Journey and I give it our highest recommendation. A must have for your library.

Ane Mulligan
Editor, Novel Journey
One of Writers Digest's 101 Top Websites for Writers

Tyndale House Publishers provided a complimentary ARC for review.

Bonus Review:

I have been blessed to receive a review copy of the sequel to Her Mother’s Hope. This is a very personal story for Francine Rivers. She says, “I wanted to explore what caused the rift between my grandma and my mom during the last years of my grandmother's life. Was it a simple misunderstanding or something deeper that had grown over the years? Many of the events of this story were inspired by my family history that I researched and events I read about in my mother’s journals or experienced in my own life. You may have guessed that Carolyn is my alter ego…but only some of my life is interwoven through hers…”

Her Daughters Dream covers a time span starting at 1951 and is brought to 2010. The author describes events in the history of the world, how this family and others responded to Kennedy’s assassination, the Vietnam War, Woodstock, Hippies/Free Love, September 11th and others.

The first part of this story is told through Hildemara Rose’s point of view. She’s very sick and needs to ask the help of a person who’s hurt her deeply - her mother, Oma Marta.

Francine Rivers quickly changes to Hildemara's daughter Carolyn’s point of view for the majority of the book. Carolyn is a very studious child and is eager to please her parents. Her brother, Charlie, is the polar opposite of her, but they love each other dearly. Carolyn’s life is forever changed by the relationship developed between Oma Marta and Hildemara and herself, when Hildie was sick.

Carolyn does all the right things in school, learns how to blend in and gets amazing grades. But, things change in high school with Charlie now attending the same school. He becomes protective of her and Carolyn has to learn new rules and how to melt into this new crowd.

1968 hits and Carolyn is at Berkley University gathering signatures to help protest the war in Vietnam. Carolyn’s world was changing quickly. Nothing made sense. She didn’t fit in anywhere. She didn’t know what to believe in anymore. Where was God in all this war and killing?

“God? They’d all been saying God didn’t care or God was dead. When had faith ever been enough?”

Not in Carolyn’s life anyway. Carolyn’s parents, Hildemara Rose and Trip’s world wasn’t the same either- they were both in pursuit of the American dream. They gave their best to the job, there was little time left for family and friends.

Then one day Carolyn hears from Jesus and he’s told her what to do, “She just didn’t think she could do it.”
Her grandma Oma said, “Nothing is easy Carolyn. Life isn’t easy. We do the best we can with what God gives us.”

“But I’ve made a complete mess of everything Oma.”

“It’s not about what you’ve done. It’s about what you’re going to do now...You lived through it. You’re a survivor. The past doesn’t have any power over you anymore…it only has the power you give it.”

Francine Rivers does an incredible job of allowing the reader to get in the skin of each of her characters. I was quickly drawn into their situation and could feel their pain. It was amazing to see the events of our world affect one family and the people around them.

My heart broke for the women in this story and how misunderstandings and the fear of confrontation caused them to be in so much pain when in each others presence. Francine Rivers’ story helped me look at my family and how we weathered events in history and how it shaped and molded us as a family unit and as a country. It showed me that God has plans for us even in the middle of the storm; He wants us to cling to Him and have faith.

I loved Carolyn’s favorite prayer, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Thy will, not mine, be done.” This is easier prayed than done, but so true.

A Daughters Dream is a tremendously moving story of a families struggle to overcome misunderstandings of the past, trust God to help them forgive one another, heal the hurts between them and have faith to carry them through the unknown events in the future. Francine Rivers is a master wordsmith bringing God, faith and family together in such an incredibly moving way. This story is personal for Francine and she describes how the characters and the story parallel her personal life and struggles in the back of the book. Fascinating! Get your tissues ready as you read. I found myself weeping near the end as I read of this family’s sad times and joy. I also saw God make a tremendous difference in their lives. This book is a keeper and one this reader will not soon forget. Either will you!

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network

Friday, September 10, 2010

Shawn Grady's Through the Fire ~ Reviewed

By Shawn Grady
Published by Bethany House
328 Pages

Back Cover:

Firefighting burns in Aidan O'Neill's blood. The son of a fireman, O'Neill has a sixth sense about fire and often takes dangerous risks. When one act of disobedience nearly gets a rookie killed, O'Neill is suspended. His weeks off are supposed to be a time to reflect, but instead he escapes to Mexico, where another rash act of bravery actually kills him. But only for a few minutes.


Wow, I just finished reading Through the Fire. I’m thankful for the review copy of this fascinating, enlightening book. I realized how clueless I was as to what firefighters go through day-in and day-out to save peoples lives and risk their own! It’s astounding!

Only someone who’s been in a firefighter’s shoes could show the realistic side of this demanding, sacrificial job that most of us take for granted. Shawn Grady’s been in the fire as a firefighter in Reno, for many years, which gives him a unique perspective. As I read, I felt as if I were in Aiden’s skin and the enemy he faced. Shawn describes fire, “The fire danced. It mocked. It shot from the room with wicked lit fingers, clawing and scratching, curling around my air bottle. It tugged at me, pulling me to it. Flame edges whipped down the walls, forming a sickle in the air, swinging in a slow arc down toward my sternum.” Now that’s a perspective only a firefighter on the scene could write. Shawn gives you a glimpse of fire gone crazy; it’s a horrifying, fascinating, terrible thing. The fire’s sole desire is to consume everything in sight. It’s surreal, chilling, and unbelievable.

This author pens a suspenseful, action packed story filled with intrigue as Aiden tries to track down the Arsonist that killed his father. Aiden’s obsession to right a wrong and his self-destructive lifestyle has everyone worried. His dad was good at what he did. He had to make sense of this tragedy.

Aiden was angry at God letting his dad die. Aiden knew his father trusted God and now he was dead! Aiden wasn’t going to go that route. He would stay far away from God. He would be in control of his own life, he didn’t need anyone. It was just him and the fire. Firefighters are a strange breed. While anyone in their right mind runs from fires. Firefighters, on the other hand seem drawn into the flame. In Aiden’s case, he got into the ring with the fire to win one more round. I learned how critical it was for a firefighter to be aware of his surroundings, use all of his senses and think quickly on his feet to save his life and the life of others.

What a fascinating, suspenseful, captivating story, with complex believable characters. I found myself rooting for them to save the victims and for both to live another day. I couldn’t put this book down until the mystery was solved. Can’t wait to read his new book Tomorrow We Die.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Gilbert Morris's When the Heavens Fall ~ Reviewed

When the Heavens Fall
Gilbert Morris
Number of Pages: 256
Vendor: Howard Books
Publication Date: 2010
ISBN: 1416587470



Brandon Winslow would rather gamble and frequent taverns than attend church. So how does he find himself at the forefront of the resistance to Bloody Mary's attempt to eliminate—at sword's point, if need be—the Protestant faith?

During the reign of Mary I of England—"Bloody Mary"—young Brandon Winslow (son of Stuart, protagonist of Honor in the Dust, the first book in the Winslow Breed series) finds himself in dire straits. After being flogged and then drummed out of the military for seducing the wife of his commanding officer, he sinks into a life of gambling and petty fraud along with Lupa, the fair gypsy woman who nursed him back to health.

After Mary weds Prince Philip of Spain, she begins to work in earnest to establish Catholicism as the only faith in England—and to execute Protestants. When Brandon sees several people burned at the stake in London for their faith, the experience changes him: Even though he has been only a nominal member of the Church of England, he finds himself compelled to stop those responsible for these outrages—and to do so before his uncle Quentin, a pastor, is himself burned at the stake. Unfortunately, the only way to save Quentin and so many others is to make Princess Elizabeth (who is herself in danger of dying at Mary's hand) queen. And that, of course, would be treason. Punishable by death.

But then, Brandon has always been a gambler . . .


Last year I eagerly read my first novel from Gilbert Morris the first in the Winslow Breed Series, Honor in the Dust: A Novel and enjoyed it immensely. This series is a prequel to the "famed House of Winslow Breed Series". Just this past week the second novel was released, titled When the Heavens Fall. First off let me tell you how much I love the covers from both of these books in the series so far. They are just hints of gorgeous. Even more attractive in person. Although, I do believ...more Last year I eagerly read my first novel from Gilbert Morris the first in the Winslow Breed Series, Honor in the Dust: A Novel and enjoyed it immensely. This series is a prequel to the "famed House of Winslow Breed Series". Just this past week the second novel was released, titled When the Heavens Fall. First off let me tell you how much I love the covers from both of these books in the series so far. They are just hints of gorgeous. Even more attractive in person. Although, I do believe that the back cover book blurb is misleading from the plot in the story this was a very entertaining book. Each page flew by and the characters kept me entertained. Much as was the case in Honor in the Dust, redemption was sought for a man which many would leave as a lost cause. Page after page the reader is left wondering if it might be found in the end. I was kept riveted and curious about all of the characters lives and found myself wanting to leave the story and delve more into my scriptures as well as the tides of history.

Easily I am eager for the third installment coming in 2011 "The Winds of God" dealing with a Winslow descendant in the medical profession. I'm also curious if the original House of Winslow Breed Series will be republished with new covers, that I am eager to see.

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Alison Strobel Morrow's The Weight of Shadows ~ Reviewed

The Weight of Shadows
By Alison Strobel Morrow
Published by: Zondervan
ISBN# 978-0-310-28945-6
316 Pages

Back Cover:

In The Weight of Shadows, by Alison Strobel Morrow, after a difficult childhood, Kim has built a successful life for herself ... but she'd leave it all if it meant being rid of the guilt she harbors over a tragic mistake she made years ago. When she meets Rick, she finds everything she needs---including a way to pay for her sins every time he hits her. Kim and Rick's new neighbor, Joshua, knows more than Kim realizes about Rick, but Joshua has battles of his own to fight. Soon to intersect Kim's and Rick's lives is Debbie, who has saved countless women from abuse through the shelter she runs, but Debbie might be as desperate for love as the women she serves. Meanwhile, as Rick's wrath extends to their baby, Kim must decide if her penance is more important than protecting that innocent life---and if she should dare leave Rick when he has the power to bring her hidden crime to light.


I just finished the last page of Alison Strobel Morrow’s new book and I’m glad I received a review copy of this realistic, haunting look at how each choice we make in life could take us takes us on an unexpected journey. This author shows how easy it is to get in the middle of a bad situation that might seem impossible to get out of.

Alison paints an unnerving but hopeful picture of a young orphan girl desperate for love. Kim hasn’t done anything about this deep desire because she’s kept busy going to school to be a hair dresser and then found a job in a salon. But one night at her roommates’ party, she notices a guy. He notices her too! She can’t believe her luck and on her birthday of all days. She hadn’t been looking for love, yet here it was! What a nice guy; they had so much to talk about - he even grew up in foster care like she did! What are the chances of that? Kim has finally found someone who gets her and someone she can be herself with.

Alison has another story line going in contrast to Kim’s - its Joshua’s story. He’s a young man who’s been in a healthy, loving relationship with his wife, but has lost her to cancer. He’s been a Christian for awhile and can’t understand why God has taken his young wife and left him to raise their pre-school daughter alone.

The author goes back and forth from Joshua to Kim’s story and you wonder if their lives will intersect. Then Joshua moves really close to Kim and the chances of them meeting are great! Both Kim and Joshua’s lives have been turned upside down and each is struggling to get their feet on solid ground.

This author writes a very sensitive, thought-provoking book about how women find themselves in the middle of an abusive relationship - one that didn’t start out that way. They had fun times. They had hopes and dreams for a happy life...then things turned dark. Little by little the relationship changed until they felt trapped. Then afraid and couldn’t see a way out.

Alison also reveals some of the lies that women like Kim believe about themselves that keep them in these relationships. Kim does realize that this is not right and then justifies staying because of what she believes about herself. She has a secret, she’s done a horrible thing, and she tells herself that this is the punishment for her terrible deed.

The author talks about statics of abused woman in the book; not all women who are abused come from the foster care system. Abuse happens all over the world and across all different class structures and social statuses. The abusers and manipulators have all different jobs and degrees; they are very convincing and often times will make the woman feel like she’s stupid, crazy, clumsy and/or she imagined the things that happened to her. The victim starts to believe these lies and works harder at pleasing the abuser so the pain will stop. They work harder to become perfect but they never arrive.

Kim highlights the aspects about her relationship with Rick that are healthy for her girls group, “…things they should be looking for in a boyfriend. Like how Rick watched out for her, always wanting to know where she was going and when she’d be back, so he’d figure out sooner if something had happened to her. Or how he tried to make life easier, in little ways – like how he ordered for her in restaurants or told her what to make for dinner so she didn’t have to come up with something on her own.” All these things were thoughtful at first but quickly turn into ways of controlling Kim’s every move. She rapidly becomes trapped.

This was not a pie in the sky walk with God. It’s gut wrenchingly honest and I like that about this story and the characters. I was thrilled when I heard Alison had a new book out but hesitated when I heard of the subject matter. I was afraid of where this book might take the reader. I was drawn into the story by the main character, Kim. She was likable, and a little different than the average bear. I’m happy that the violence in the book is not graphic or drawn out but definitely revealing and enough to show you what goes on behind closed doors and beyond in an abusive relationship. Some of the self talk and the lies Kim believed about herself I found chilling.

I also enjoyed Joshua and his daughter, Maddie. She was adorable and Joshua was a good dad, sticking to his boundaries with his in-laws, who want to draw him into an unhealthy relationship. He sticks to what is right for everyone involved. Joshua realizes that his in-laws are not Christians and they were blaming him for their daughters’ death and his lack of care for her. They felt that if Joshua had taken better care their daughter, she would be alive. They believed their own lies. How could he walk in his faith and not enter into an abusive relationship with his in-laws? I liked this about Joshua and the fact that Alison had included this struggle in the book. It contradicted the unhealthy relationship Kim found herself in.

I think this book gives an honest glimpse into a woman’s choices that get her into, and keep her in, an abusive situation. I have to say this is definitely not the book I expected it to be...for that I am thankful. It wasn’t graphic and depressing. Instead, the book showed ways to recognize someone being abused, how to offer help and how to set healthy boundaries with people, as in Joshua’s case. Alison helps the reader see how these abusive relationships start and how women can get help to leave. There is healing and love for their weary soul! Healing takes time and happens on so many levels. This is a powerfully moving story of hurt, hope, healing and forgiveness. It’s a tough subject matter but well worth the read.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Deeanne Gist's Maid to Match ~ Reviewed

Maid to Match
Deeanne Gist
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Bethany House (June 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0764204084


From the day she arrives at the Biltmore, Tillie Reese is dazzled--by the riches of the Vanderbilts and by Mack Danvers, a mountain man turned footman. When Tillie is enlisted to help tame Mack's rugged behavior by tutoring him in the ways of refined society, the resulting sparks threaten Tillie's efforts to be chosen as Edith Vanderbilt's lady's maid. But the stakes rise even higher when Mack and Tillie become entangled in a cover-up at the town orphanage. They could both lose their jobs...and their hearts.


Deeanne Gist once again offers up a treat to lovers of historical romance, bringing to light the opulence of Biltmore, the famous Vanderbilt mansion and the people that worked hard to maintain the image of wealth and prestige. All the elements of an engaging romance are present, the beautiful parlourmaid with ambition, a rugged mountain man roped into service, and the resultant sparks of a forbidden attraction. Deeanne's prose brings the mansion, the staff and the family to life with fascinating insights into the inner workings of such an estate. Dee's A Bride Most Begrudging and The Measure of A Lady remain the benchmark of her books and Maid to Match did not quite reach that high standard for me, but it remains an enjoyable read.

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Monday, September 06, 2010

Amanda Cabot's Scattered Petals ~ Reviewed

Scattered Petals
Amanda Cabot
Number of Pages: 400
Vendor: Revell
Publication Date: 2010
ISBN: 0800733258


Longing for adventure, Priscilla Morton leaves Boston and heads for Texas, never dreaming that the adventure she seeks will leave her badly injured and her parents dead. Priscilla is determined to rebuild her life and make a home for herself in the beautiful Hill Country. But the bandits who took her parents' lives also destroyed her hope for the future.Ranch foreman Zachary Webster knows what the future holds for him, and it's not a woman like Priscilla. She deserves a cultured East Coast gentleman, not a cowboy who's haunted by memories of his mistakes. The best thing he can do is leave her alone.


What a beautiful cover this book has, and an appropriate one at that with beauty and sadness of expression. Scattered Petals is the sequel and second book in a trilogy starting with Paper Roses, yet could easily be appreciated on it's own merit as a stand alone. Bringing together two very different yet painful pasts God uses different characters to allow healing and hope for a future. This story gives a great deal of visual insight into the mind of a madman as well as a hint of depression and pain. Through out the pages healing is found in ways unexpected and love and happiness is entirely possible.

This is a truly heart rending novel and every page fills you with the good and bad of life, all encompassing the will of God through out and especially in the end. I do recommend it. I look forward for the end of the trilogy in the spring of 2011 as well as other titles from author Amanda Cabot to come.

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Friday, September 03, 2010

Tessa Afshar's Pearl in the Sand ~ Reviewed

Pearl in the Sand
By Tessa Afshar
Published by Moody Publishers, Sept 1, 2010
ISBN-13: 978-0-8024-5881-0


Can a Canaanite harlot make a fitting wife for one of the leaders of Israel? Shockingly, the Bible says yes. Pearl in the Sand tells Rahab's untold story. Rahab's house is built into the defensive walls of the City of Jericho. Other walls surround her heart as well—fear, rejection, unworthiness. A woman with a wrecked past; a man of success, of faith ... of pride; a marriage only God would conceive! Through the heartaches of a stormy relationship, Rahab and Salmone learn the true source of one another's worth ad find healing in God.


Pearl in the Sand, the story of Rahab the harlot who became an ancestor of Christ, delivers a very powerful truth within its pages: forgiveness, redemption, and the changing power of God. An unforgettable read, Novel Journey and I give a high recommendation.

Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan,
Novel Journey

Bonus Review:

Writing a book is daunting enough, choosing to write about a Biblical character ups the stakes even more. Debut novelist Tessa Afshar is more than up to the challenge in her beautifully rendered story of Rahab, the Canaanite prostitute named in the lineage of Jesus. Tessa acknowledges there is little known about Rahab and Salome, highlighting the Biblical references and encouraging readers to examine them, acknowledging her story is extrapolation. Her vivid storytelling brings the fall of Jericho into sharp focus, the fear of the Canaanites palpable as God's unusual plan unfolds as the Israelites march around the impenetrable walls. Rahab and Salome's love story is evocative and compelling while Rahab's journey from an idolatrous harlot to a believer in the one true God, is heartrending and inspiring. The spiritual threads are woven effortlessly throughout, from the consequences of Rahab's past and Salome's pride to the healing power of God's forgiveness and the hard reality of His justice. Pearl in the Sand is reminiscent of Tosca Lee's Havah and Francine River's Redeeming Love and I don't make such comparisons lightly. I trust this is just the beginning of many more books from such a talented author.

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Thursday, September 02, 2010

ACFW September Book Releases

1. Across the Cotton Fields; Mississippi Brides, book 1 by Diane T. Ashley and Aaron McCarver-- Romance from Barbour. Alexandra Lewis must find a husband before a family scandal follows her to Mississippi, but where does God fit into her plans?

2. A Door County Christmas; The Heart's Harbor by Cynthia Ruchti, Ride With Me Into Christmas by Rachael Phillips, My Heart Still Beats by Eileen Key, and Christmas Crazy by Becky Melby, A collection of four Christmas-themed romance novellas from Barbour. A Door County innkeeper guarantees four single women that her Christmas cactus gifts˜and love˜will bloom by Christmas. As December nears, will barren plants and romances blossom into holiday joy?

3. A Hope Undaunted; Winds of Change series, book 1 by Julie Lessman -- An Romance from Revell. While on a summer law internship, a sassy and modern woman of the Roaring 20s butts heads with her lawyer boss, a stubborn pest from her past.

4. A Memory Between Us; Wings of Glory, Book 2 by Sarah Sundin -- An historical from Revell. During World War II, B-17 pilot Maj. Jack Novak has never failed to meet a challenge - until he meets Lt. Ruth Doherty, a striking nurse with a shameful secret.

5. A Prairie Christmas Collection by Deborah Raney, Tracie Peterson, Tracey V. Bateman, and six others -- A collection of nine Christmas-themed romance novellas from Barbour. An instant holiday treasure, this fiction collection is penned by nine multi-published authors. Each novella promises a sweet Christian romance on the historical American Great Plains.

6. A Riverwalk Christmas by Elizabeth Goddard, Martha Rogers, Lynette Sowell and Kathleen Y'Barbo-- A collection of Christmas-themed romance novellas from Barbour. Four young women find love in the most unexpected places at Christmas.

7. A Very Private Grave; #1 The Monastery Murders by Donna Fletcher Crow -- A Suspense/Mystery/Thriller from Kregel. Felicity thinks she knows everything, until a brutal murder teaches her she doesn't know anything.

8. A Woodland Christmas by Janelle Mowery, Tamela Hancock Murray, Darlene Franklin and Ramona Cecil-- A collection of Christmas-themed romance novellas from Barbour. Experience a nostalgic Christmas in the Piney Woods of East Texas where a traveling wood-carver dispenses wisdom that brings four couples to realize the gift of love.

9. Alpha Redemption by P.A. Baines -- A Science Fiction/Fantasy/Futuristic from Splashdown Books. In man's pursuit of knowledge, artificial intelligence was created. In the pursuit of love, artificial intelligence found God.

10. Baby Makes A Match; Love Inspired/Chatam House Series by Arlene James -- A Romance from Steeple Hill. A rodeo cowboy rescues a stranded pregnant girl and with the help of three matchmaking aunties….well what else do you need?

11. Christmas Mail Order Brides by Vickie McDonough, Susan Page Davis, Therese Stenzel and Carrie Turansky-- A collection of Christmas-themed romance novellas from Barbour. Ride the transcontinental railroad as marriage arrives by mail-order-and just in time for Christmas.

12. Finding Becky; Book 3 Winds Across the Prairie by Martha Rogers -- An Historical from Realms/Strang. Rebecca comes home with a new attitude, but Rob wants to find the Becky he's loved since their youth.

13. Formula for Danger by Camy Tang -- A Suspense/Mystery/Thriller from Love Inspired Suspense. Dermatologist researcher Rachel Grant is pursued by an enemy trying to take her latest research and her life.

14. Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer -- A Romance from Bethany House. When a recovering romantic goes to work for a handsome ranch owner, her heart isn't the only thing in danger.

15. High-Stakes Inheritance by Susan Sleeman -- A Romance from Steeple Hill. Claiming an inheritance turns deadly when Mia Blackburn returns to her hometown.

16. In Every Heartbeat by Kim Vogel Sawyer -- An Historical from Bethany House. Three best friends, three cherished dreams, three searching hearts...

17. Judgement Day by Wanda Dyson -- A Suspense/Mystery/Thriller from Random House/Waterbrook. One reporter's love of sensationalism leads to a horrifying story and someone willing to kill her to keep her quiet.

18. Lily and the Lawman; Idaho Brides, Book Two by Erica Vetsch -- An Historical from Barbour. A wary woman has no choice but to join forces with a local lawman to rescue her kidnapped niece.

19. Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe by Anita Higman and Irene Brand-- A Romance from Summerside Press. Two heartwarming stories of Christmas past and present.

20. Lydia's Charm by Wanda Brunstetter -- A Romance from Barbour. Will the anonymous gifts left for Lydia bring her hope for a new life, and when tragedy befalls her yet again, will the mysterious gift giver be there to support her?

21. Making Waves; CHAIM series, Book Four by Lorna Seilstad -- An Historical from Revell. After Mr. Boring presses for an engagement, a witting debutante meets an intriguing sailing instructor who is everything her hum drum suitor is not.

22. McKenzie; Montana Skies Series by Penny Zeller -- An Historical from Whitaker House. She wanted to change him and mold him into the man she was supposed to marry. Instead, she was the one whose heart was changed.

23. Medical Error; Prescription For Trouble (book two) by Richard L. Mabry, M.D. -- A Suspense/Mystery/Thriller from Abingdon. Identity theft isn't normally fatal, but this time it was.

24. More Than Words; Daughters of Amana #2 by Judith Miller -- An Historical from Bethany House. Will Gretchen Kohler's one impulsive decision cause tragic consequences for the entire Amana Community and cost her everything, even the love of her life?

25. Second Chance Brides; Texas Boardinghouse Brides #2 by Vickie McDonough -- An Historical from Barbour. When the man they came to town to marry weds someone else, two mail order brides must find a way to survive in Texas--or find another man to marry.

26. Secret of the Shroud by Pamela Billings Ewen -- A Suspense/Mystery/Thriller from B&H Publishers. A powerful Bishop reaches for revenge when he's suddenly confronted with the secret of the Shroud and a choice that can destroy him.

27. Tender Vow by Sharlene MacLaren -- A Romance from Whitaker House. When John Evans is killed in a skiing accident, his brother, Jake, reaches out to his widowed sister-in-law, but Rachel will have nothing to do with his charity, particularly since they have a "history" she'd rather forget--but God has other plans.

28. The Columns of Cottonwood; The Alabama River Heritage Series by Sandra Robbins -- A Romance from Barbour. When a handsome stranger purchases a woman's plantation for back taxes, she vows to recover her land, but they discover God has a greater solution--a compromise to benefit both.

29. The Doctor's Blessing; #2 in The Brides of Amish Country by Patricia Davids -- A Romance from Steeple Hill. A nurse-midwife to the Amish and the new doctor clash over her home deliveries.

30. The Healer's Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson -- A Romance from Zondervan. The Sleeping Beauty fairy tale comes to life when Rose, the apprentice to the town healer, falls in love with Lord Hamlin, the betrothed son of a duke.

31. The Newcomer by Laurie Alice Eakes -- An Historical from Barbour. Marigold sacrifices things precious to her, for the sake of her young charges and isn't willing to let their uncle take over when danger follows in his wake.

32. The Perfect Blend; The Tea Shop Series by Trish Perry -- A Romance from Harvest House. A jilted bride encounters chaotic jobs, overbearing society matrons, and charming suitors in her quest for love, independence, and the occasional glimpse of God's will.

33. The Wolf of Tebron by C. S. Lakin -- An Science Fiction/Fantasy/Futuristic from AMG/Living Ink. A young blacksmith goes in search of his missing wife, journeying to the four ends of the world and solving riddles with a faithful wolf at his side.

34. Where Hearts Are Free; Darkness to Light Series, Book #3 by Golden Keyes Parsons -- An Historical from Thomas Nelson. In the freedom and promise of the New World, Bridget Barrington and Philippe Clavell fall in love, but nothing about their love seems possible, apart from God's intervention.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Major Jeff Struecker and Alton Gansky's Blaze of Glory ~ Reviewed

By Major Jeff Struecker and Alton Gansky
Published By: B & H
ISBN# 978-08054-4854-2
379 Pages

Back Cover:

United States Sgt. Major Eric Moyer and his Special Operations unit have been called in to track down a wealthy Egyptian terrorist who is believed to have sordid ties to a sudden increase in female suicide bombers. Chasing El-Sayyed through Italy, they soon gain interconnected details about a Mexican drug lord who is plotting to kill the U.S. and Mexican presidents.

Now Moyer and his team must stop not one, but two madmen on separate continents. And with a new member of the unit hiding his struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder, a third problem begins to boil.


While reading Blaze of Glory, I developed a new appreciation for our military men. I’m thankful for the review copy, which gave me a glimpse into the hearts and minds of the men and women who risk their lives so that our country can be safe and free.

Blaze of Glory gives the reader a fascinating, suspenseful and realistic look at military operations from an insider’s point of view. I was clueless about the preparation for these top secret missions. Sergeant Major Eric Moyer is the leader of this six man Special Operations unit that heads off to try and stop suicide terrorists who want to blow up a hotel; the hotel where the United States and Mexican presidents, along with eighteen other world leaders, are staying.

Because of Major Jeff Struecker’s twenty years of military experience, the storyline is scary and believable. Some of his experience has been depicted in the movie Black Hawk Down. With Struecker’s trained eye and knowledge in the military operations and Alton’s writing experience, this team takes the reader places only a well-seasoned soldier could go. I really enjoyed the way these authors showed the human side of military life...the men, how they trusted one another, how they joked around and how they enjoyed each others laughter.

Soldiers,” They were a different breed of men, especially career warriors. They were complex beings that hid more than revealed.”, even with friends and family. I liked the beginning of this book; it starts off in a light-hearted atmosphere as the readers get to know the colorful cast of characters. I felt as if I were there watching the men give J.J. a hard time as he announces he’s engaged. They start ribbing him about dates and how he found someone. Engaged? How did that happen? “J.J. was used to exchanging ‘barb’s’ with the guys. It was one of the ways they dealt with the work they had to do!!” It also showed they cared for one another. Laughter was a gift they all cherished.

This writing team has the perfect blend of humor, suspense and action. The humor gave the characters in the story, and the reader, a welcome relief in some very dramatic action scenes! The reader is right in the middle of a military mission that could have been taken from headlines, “Concern today—the work of suicide terrorists’ – people willing to martyr themselves by driving a bomb-laden car or truck into a crowd. Or strapping on an explosive vest, or carrying an explosive stashed into a crowd.”

A new twist the increase in women suicide terrorists’ – even woman who are pregnant! What would make a woman do such a thing-especially when pregnant?

Captain Moyer gets his men ready and introduces them to a new member of their team. A member everyone knows- a war hero! They all know of Jerry Zinsser and are glad to have him aboard. Jerry’s a little embarrassed—likes to keep to himself for several reasons. The war hero has a few secrets he can’t tell his team or anyone else for that matter; he struggles with post traumatic stress disorder—PTSD. This was Jerry’s secret battle. The one he was slowly losing. Jerry dreaded sleep or anything that would trigger a flashback. Yet, he felt in his heart he could control mind for one last mission.

Zinsser's team leader, Eric Moyer, and the others were watching Jerry and wondered if they could rely on him in the thick of the battle. Captain Moyer shares what he felt about fear. “Moyer’s fear morphed into annoyance. There was not shame in fear. No soldier denied being afraid. Instead they took pride in conquering fear!”

Interesting way of looking at fear, don’t you think? Blaze of Glory is not just another war novel; these authors did a great job of having the reader instantly care about the men and their families. The reader gets to know the men on a very personal level, and saw how being a soldier 24/7 affects everything they do and every relationship they have - even with one another.

J.J. is a Christian and walks out his faith in the middle of the battle; he’s not preachy but honest. Jerry tries to avoid him because he’s afraid he’ll beat him over the head with a bible, but that’s not J.J. He says he preached once and no one listened, so now he just lives out his faith. When someone wants to talk, he’s there to listen. His team knows he’s a Christian and respects him; they even ask for prayer every now and again.

I highly recommend this book!! These authors take the reader on an exciting action adventure while maintaining there realistic nature of the story. This novel made my hair stand on end because I knew that most of the military drama, both on the field and off, and the scenes depicting how soldiers struggle with PTSD, are real; either Major Jeff Struecker experienced them or someone he knows did. This is the second book in a series...Certain Jeopardy was the first. I’ll have to read that one next.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network