Friday, September 10, 2010

Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie

What a magnificent book! It has love ghosts, lost kids, weird housekeeper and second chances.

Andie Miller-Archer and North Archer are divorced and haven't seen one another for ten years. The past is dead and done - she is engaged to Will Spenser the famous writer. Andie's life couldn't be better, she has come to see North to return tens years of alimony checks and to say good-be.

North is the legal guardian of two children, Alice and Carter, who live in an alleged haunted house in a remote area in the south of Iowa. The children are orphans and being taken care of by Mrs. Crumb, the elderly housekeeper. North has been unable to keep Nannie because they believe the house is haunted , the children are weird and Mrs, Crumb is downright evil. In desperation North hires Andie to fix the children and see what is actually going on at the house.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Becoming A Woman Of Destiny by Suzan Johnson Cook

Wow - what a book! Dr. Cook or Dr. Sujay as she is known to thousands is an excellent writer and truly a Woman of Destiny. She has patterned her book and her life after the most prominent woman in biblical history - Deborah of the Old Testament, a woman who has no peer, the Prophetess-Judge-Warrior-Wife.

Dr, Sujay uses Deborah's Four-Pillared Model to illustrate how we can become A Women Of Destiny. These are:

-Intelligence - pursue new goals with clarity, decisiveness, and thoughtful strategies.
-Spirituality - a path of nurturing your sacred self through prayer and trust in God.
-Action - perform every action with the fruits of your new wisdom.
-Community - form your Destiny Circle.

Now more than ever the world needs women who aren't afraid to walk the talk about doing the right thing. A woman of Destiny, like Deborah, can listen to God's voice by showing reverence for their intuition, their God-given connection to the Holy Spirit.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Once Wicked Always Dead by T. Marie Benchley

Molly Madison has it all - Country Clubs and the luxury of city life in Florida. Her husband , Phillip, is a successful attorney - her world is almost perfect. Suddenly everything comes crashing down. Her parents are killed in a fierily automobile and she learns Phillip is gay. After hearing all the gory passionate details from his lover, she leaves everything behind and heads to Montana and her family home - The Ghost Bear Ranch. She plans to divorce Phillip and start a life. Molly is unprepared for her instant attraction to Clayton Leatherbe, the ranch foreman.

Molly is unaware of the sociopath creating havoc with a sense of her own justice. Phillip want her to sell the ranch so he can further his political ambitions. Her refusal causes a riff in their relationship. Molly's ranch falls prey to an unscrupulous land developer determined to get the ranch and he will stop at nothing to obtain his goal.

Everything seems to go wrong at the ranch since Molly took over as owner. Several murders have occurred - Phillip's ex lover is out to exact his revenge on Molly - Clayton is questioned by the local police.


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Sixteen Brides by Stephanie Grace Whitson

This is an amazing book - a delightful interesting read. Sixteen women leave St, Louis, Missouri en route to the Nebraska Territory. They are Drake's Ladies Emigration Society. The ladies have been promised free government land in their own name, the only stipulation - they must homestead the land and live on it for five years. Mr. Harold Drake is really an unscrupulous con artist who has an entirely different agenda that the one presented to the ladies.

Upon arriving in Plum Grove, Nebraska they learn Drake's true purpose in bring them to Nebraska. They are to be brides for the men in Cayote. Eleven of the woman decide to take Drake's offer and go to Cayote. Five stayed in Plum Grove. The book is five womenfolk's story in one - Sally, Caroline. Ellie, Hattie and Ruth. They would obtain the promise land and make a home for themselves.


Friday, August 6, 2010

She Walks In Beauty by Siri Mitchell

The book takes place during the late-Victorian area. An area where money and appearance means everything and one would do anything to obtain. The women were put through a training regimen to take on a role in society. The story mainly is about two young girls - Clara and Lizzie. This is the season they will make their debut. The objective is to either be engaged or married at the end of the season. The catch of the year is Franklin De Vries, heir to the De Vries' fortune. Both girls are in competition to win Franklin as their husband.

Lizza is really cut out for this kind of life. She doesn't resent her mother pushing her towards the final goal. She whole heartily embraces the balls, dancing, flirting, etc. Her main goal is to become Mrs. Franklin De Vries.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Humanitarian Jesus by Christian Buckley & Ryan Dobson

This is an amazing thought provoking book. I liked it, but I didn't at the beginning. I thought this is another one of those books where the authors tell you all the good things they and their organization is doing for the poor and the environment. As I turned the pages I begin to understand how all the organizations are working throughout the world helping to alleviate some of the poverty. I did not always agree with their views or those of the interviews, CEOs and President, of various humanitarian organizations. You probably won't either, but they will get you thinking about the world's problems.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Shut Up And Kiss Me by Christie Craig

This is an exciting, fast-moving story with intriguing characters and a little mystery and murder thrown in for good measure. The story is about love, regrets, secrets, stalking and Native American culture. The culture of an almost forgotten society - the belief of Council Elder Redfoot Darkwater and his spirits. Shala Winters is a photojournalist, living in Houston, Texas who has been hired by Major Johnson of Precious, Texas to put it on the map - bring tourism to the town. There are some that are not too thrilled that she is coming to their town and are very vocal in their protest.

Shala arrives in Precious just at the time the Native Americans are holding their annual powwow. The sign clearly states no cameras allowed. She is reluctant to leave her expensive Nikon camera at the gate and takes it with her, as it always happens when we disobey the rules, something goes wrong. A woman in the crowd takes a picture. Sky Gomez, one of the dancers, believes Shala has taken the picture and snags her camera and refuses to return it. After talking to the Tribal Council, she is told Sky has the camera and will return it in a week if she pays the asking fine - whatever it may be.


Friday, July 23, 2010

No More Christian Nice Girl by Paul Coughlin & Jennifer D. Degler Ph.D

This is an amazing book! Did you know that Jesus had a nice side and a salty side? He was not nice 100% all the time. He rebuked people, but always in love. Have you been taught the watered down version of Jesus or the 360 degree Jesus? Today's Pastors only want to teach the one-sided Jesus. They tend to skip over the scriptures where Jesus was assertive. They want you to believe that Jesus was/is always gentle, meek and mild. That is not true - Jesus could and was assertive when it became necessary for him to do so.

Girls are taught from a early age that they should be "sugar and spice and everything nice". In other world be passive, keep silent.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Cast of Characters by Max Lucado

This is a very intriguing and thought provoking book. Who are these characters? They are Moses. Esther, Paul, Peter, Job, the rich young ruler, Lazarus - to name a few. They are you and me. They were not a list of "Who's Who in Purity and Sainthood." Their live were marked by scandal and intrigue. These are people of the Bible - famous biblical characters. They had problems just like you and me. They were very human and imperfect just like you and me. Guess who was there to make everything right. Jesus - that's who. He will make everything right for you and me -all we have to do is ask and believe. Jesus (God) is the hero of all.


Monday, July 19, 2010

The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, June by Robin Benway

April/May/June are sisters. Their parents have recently divorced and their dad has moved to Houston, Texas. They, with their mother, have moved to a new town and school. April is the oldest, May is the middle child and June the youngest.

April is the studious type - she actually likes school. May is a loner - she doesn't make friends easy, and June wants to be popular and fit in with the in-crowd. May is having problems with European History and is assigned a tutor. Henry. This seems ironic to her since most the Kings of Europe have been named Henry. Henry is very serious about his studies and hopes to go to Stanford after graduation. He wears everything with the Standford name on it even down to his shoe laces.

June, a freshman, becomes friends with Mariah, a sophomore. Mariah is a little wild and persuades June to ditch school, attend drunken parties and lie to her family. April/May/June are extraordinary girls - they have special powers. April can see the future - May can literally disappear - June can read minds. Will they realize that they need each other before it is too late?

Highly recommended! This is a funny, well written book. You will be amused at the antics the three sisters go through trying to keeps their powers secret. Read how they cope with being teenagers in high school, their first boyfriends and their parent's divorce. You will learn that there is nothing stronger than sisterhood!

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Spaceheadz: SPHDZ Book #1 by Jon Scieszka and Francesco Sedita

This is a cute children's book about a fifth grader named Michael K. He is the kid in a new school. (P.S. 858 - Room 501), new town (Brooklyn, New York) and it is the first day. In his class are two other new kids - Bob and Jennifer. and a talking hamster - Major Fluffy. Their teacher is Mrs. Halley. Michael K. thinks the new kids are weird and doesn't want anything to do with them. Bob tells Michael K. they are spaceheadz from another planet. He tell Michael K. that he must become a SPHDG and save your world. This is really weird and what did he mean "save your world"? They need three point one four million (3.14M) Earth persons to become Spaceheadz or the Earth will be turned off.

Agent Umber is a special agent working for AAA. He receives a call on his AAA Pickle phone from his chief. There is a possible AEW (Alien Energy Wave) in his sector. The coordinates are D-7. - P.S. 858. He tells the chief he won't let him down. Umber's motto is to Protect and to Serve and to Always Look Up.

Bob and Jennifer has seen all the major Earth commercials and believes them all. They don't use spaceships, but change channels - or adjustment of wave forms, They have seen Michel K's eating Super Crunchies and believes he can do anything.

Recommend the book for children kindergarten through fifth grade, they will find the book funny, and intriguing. Their imagination will run wild as they read to see how Michael K. and Agent Umber will handle the problems associated with Bob and Jennifer. If they fall short of their goal - the Earth will be turned off.

Highly recommended.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Somewhere To Belong by Judith Miller

Johanna Ilg has lived in Main Amana Colonies, Iowa her entire life. New Amana is one of the settlements that the devout Christians of German descent settled after leaving New York. There is approximately 500 people living in the settlement. More than one family live in a house and all share several communal kitchens. The elders or the Bruderrat of the settlement has assigned Johanna to work in the Kuche (kitchen) under the direction of the Kuchebaas (boss) - Sister Thekla Muhlbach. Each village has the Bruderrat who appoint the foreman for their industries and such. They also have the Grossebruderrat who oversee all matters that affect the colonies.

Berta Schumacher is the spoiled daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Schumacher from Chicago. They have come to live in Amana where Dr, Schumacher will be the doctor in Main Amana. Berta is unaware that her family plans to remain in Amana and pitches a fit. She does not want to stay in Amana or live in the same house with the Ilgs. Berta has been assigned to work in the Kuche and it is Johanna's job to train her.

Berta is an unruly seventeen year old child who flaunts authority and is always getting into trouble. She resents her family moving to Amana, defies Sister Muhlbach's authority and pretty much does as she pleases. Johanna is a well mannered twenty-one year old woman who always obeys the rules and never gives anyone any trouble. She secretly dreams of visiting Chicago and seeing something of the outside world. Her brother Wilhelm left the colonies a number of years ago. He is now married to Larissa and have an elaborate home in Chicago.

On one of Wilhelm and Larissa's visit to Amana, Johanna learns a troubling family secret that changes her life. She is devastated - has her whole life been a lie. Johanna is permitted by her parents to accompany Wilhelm back to Chicago for visit. Her mother is afraid she will not return and blames Larissa for Wilhelm living in Chicago. Will she return to Amana or stay in Chicago? Will she forgive the people who have keep this secret from her?

During Johanna's absents Berta gets into deeper trouble and runs away. She goes to Chicago to find her father (who is attending a medical conference) and Johanna. What happens to Berta in Chicago?. Will she return to Amana. Will the people forgive her?

The people of Amana live a life similar to the Amish. The people in Amana are Germans where the Amish are Dutch. Both the Amish and the Amana people are devout Christians and wish to live a life secluded from the outside world.

I highly recommend the book. You will read how the people in Amana live their daily lives, the hard work they endure and their faith in God.

Judith Miller is an excellent author of historical fiction.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Hear No Evil by Matthew Paul Turner

This is a very confusing book. Is Turner a christian, an atheist christian or what. The book appears to be part theology, part personal devotion and part rambling of a not so good Baptist who had a crush on Amy Grant. He is forbidden by his parents to attend contemporary concerts, but does so anyway. He is forbidden to listen to certain music, but defies his parents and listens to whatever he chooses. He dreams of becoming the Michael Jackson of christian music, but doesn't have enough talent. The book is suppose to be funny, but I found it more pathetic than funny. I did not care for Turner's brand of humor.

Turner's story is supposedly of innocence, music and the Holy Ghost. Where is the Holy Ghost? I did not sense His presence as I read the book. He is a blogger, speaker and has written other books, which I sincerely hope are better than this one.

Cannot recommend.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Hole In Our Gospel by Richard Stearns

Richard Stearns is President of World Vision U.S. He came from a poor beginning. With proper education and hard work he quickly climbed the corporate ladder to become CEO of several companies - the last being Lenox - the china company.

With a single phone call Stearns' life changed drastically. God had a purpose for his life and it wasn't selling china. After much prayer in which he asked God if He was sure, he accepts the position of President of World Vision.

Stearns explains why there is a hole in our christian belief. We are responsible for our choices. Stearns is an hero. The book challenges all Christians to move out of the cloister and into the world for God's sake. God has the power to transform the world through us. He expects more from us. Stearns points out that thousands of children die daily from lack of fresh water. AIDS is rampant in Africa - parents dying and leaving children as orphans to care for themselves. What are we as Christians doing about world hunger, human trafficking, etc. He points out that churches need to get involved - individuals need to get involved. Sponsor a child - pay for a well, etc. Tears will stream down your face as you read about the suffering in the world that we Christians ignore.

Read the book to discover the full power of Jesus Christ and change your life. The whole gospel is a world changing revolution that begins with you and me. What are you going to do about world hunger, AIDS, etc? When you finish the book, ask your self the question - How can I help - what am I doing to do? Will you plug the hole in our gospel? What does God want you to do?

Highly recommend this book. It will change your life in ways you can't imagine Stearns keeps you turning the pages. A hard book to put down.

To learn more visit

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Lost Summer Of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Connor McNees

Louisa Alcott is the well known author of Little Women, a classic novel that has never been out of print since first published in 1868. Louisa had not always been famous. Ms. McNees takes the reader back to Louisa's life before she became a recognized writer. Reading the book, one must remember this is only the writer's imagination, and not all actual fact.

Louisa is the second oldest in as family of four daughters, Her father, Bronson, is a philosopher who believes holding down a job is beneath him - it would tarnish his image should he sully himself with economic affairs like providing for his family. However, he is not adverse to accepting charity. Abba (or Marmee as she is called) and her daughters have to depend on the charity of friends and family. Things are rough for the family, but financial mercy comes from her brother-in-law who offers the family a house in Walpole in New Hampshire. This is where the author really begins to get into Louisa's life.

Louisa has always dreamed of being an independent woman, a famous writer and living in Boston - a city she dearly loves. She has sold a few articles and had one small book published, but nothing spectacular or anything that has gained her recognition. During the summer in Walpole she meets Joseph, a young man running his father's store. They fall in love, but a happy ending is not to be.

Ms. McNees puts you right in the midst of Louisa's life. You will feel her heartaches, frustration, first love, her dreams, the decisions she must make, and the hardship she endures because of her father refusal to care for his family.

The author is to be congratulated on a well written novel. It is a story of first love, sacrifices and a woman's determination to fulfill her dreams no matter the cost.

Highly recommended.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Shades of Morning by Marlo Schalesky

Marnie Wittier owns and operates a coffee house/book store known as Marnie's Books & Brew in California. Her life is just as she wants it to be. She has a box filled with slips of regrets-sins-sorrows. These are things from her past that she wants to forget, but can't really. Marnie has a secret that is keeping her from od's special healing. Marnie's world comes crashing down when she receives a letter from Taylor Cole. She has not seen or spoken to him for sixteen years. How had he found her? What does he want after all this time. Memories start to flood in. He is the man who helped her locate the mother that had abandoned her and her sister Rose. She had fallen in love with Taylor, but abandoned him due to the secret she carries. Taylor is Rose's lawyer.

Marnie opens the letter - Rose is dead and she is the legal guardian of a 15 year old boy she never knew existed. When Emmit arrives she disc overs he has Down Syndrome. She is unprepared to care for him. What was Rose thinking? She really needed to find a home for him - someone who knew how to care for him. Why didn't Taylor keep him? Emmit has a beautiful smile - he is gentle at times and very stubborn at others. Soon he has wormed his way into Marnie's heart.

The author keeps you turning pages - a book hard to put down. Recommend you read this very interesting story about a trouble women and a boy with Down Syndrome. Does Marnie find her way back to God? Does she let go of the past? How does Taylor fit into her future?

Highly recommended.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Fifteen Years by Kendra Norman-Bellamy

Josiah (JT) Tucker is a young African American male climbing the corporate ladder of success. He is employed by MacGyver Technologies (a fortune 500 company) as senior manager. He drives a Audi R8, has a large office and a budget to redecorate to his specifications. He has arrived - right? His life is a far cry from the life of that teen who had to struggle to keep the lights on in a shabby Chicago dwelling. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Inside JT is a very empty, troubled person. He is the product of an absentee father (he doesn't know who his father is) and a substance abuse mother. JT spent most of his formative years in foster homes and a ward of the state. He lived for several years with Thomas and Joanne Smith who loved him and took care of him. They gave him a sense of stability and religious upbringing. When he was 14, he is returned to his birth mother. Life was really hard living with a drug addict. The day after his graduation, he is informed by the police that his mother has been murdered. This is where JT's life become hectic. He does manage to graduate high school, carrying a 4.1 GPA and is valedictorian of his graduating class from Martin Luther King High School. His GPA earns him a full scholarship to University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

To all outwards appearance, JT has it all, but appearance is only hiding the truth. He is empty, broken and tormented with memories that won't go away. During a session with Bishop Nathaniel Lumpkin he breaks down and confesses all his hurts, fears and frustrations. Bishop Lumpkin suggest he find his "missing leg" - the Smith family - and reconnect with the people who truly loved him.

JT's journey to find the Smiths makes for an interesting read. Highly recommend you read the book to learn what transpires when JT reconnect with Thomas and Joanne Smith. They have not forgotten him and has prayed for him daily. Does he discover secrets about his past and the love he has always longed for? The ending will surprise and delight you. A lot can happen in Fifteen Years.

Ms. Bellamy is a best selling author and founder of KNB Publishers. Highly recommended.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Ransomed Dreams by Sally John

Eliot Logan Montgomery III and his wife Sheridan are living their dream life. He is US Ambassador to Venezuela and she is involved in helping abused and battered women start a new life. It is opening day of their new Women's Shelter in Caracas. Eliot is getting ready to cut the red ribbon. Shots rang out. At exactly 12 minutes 35 seconds past 10 o'clock in the morning Venezuela time Sheridan's world ceased to exist. Her best friend is killed and Eliot is seriously wounded. She is lying face down on the sidewalk, injured but it's not life threatening, something heavy is on top of her. She can't breathe and someone is screaming. The screams are coming from her. Finally the weight lifts and she is being pulled to her feet in the shelter of two strong arms. He is getting her away from the pandemonium. Her rescuer is none other than Luke Traynor whom she believes to be a spy for the US government. Luke is constantly protecting her through her long days at the hospital during Eliot's slow healing. Sheridan dubs Luke "Angel Gabriel" (or Gabe) after the famous Archangel Gabriel in the Bible.

The couple retreat to a small quaint village in Topala, Mexico, to hide from the world - a place far off the beaten path - no phone service or other modern amenities. Eliot is barely surviving - he has good days and bad days. He is withdrawn, moody, afraid and sometimes spaced out - not hearing or seeing anything. One day, out of the blue, Sheridan's Angel Gabe (Luke Traynor) arrives on their door step. How in the world did he find them and what does he want? No one is suppose to know where they are.

This is where the novel becomes interesting. Sheridan's sister Calissa has hired Luke to locate Sheridan and bring her back to Chicago. Her estranged father, Representative Harrison Cole, has suffered a severe heart attack, a stoke and is dying. Sheridan is reluctant to go with Luke. She doesn't want to see her father and doesn't care if he lives or dies. She cannot forgive him for his treatment of her. She is afraid to leave Eliot and her safe world. After much debate and probably such to spite Eliot (who does want her to go) she leaves with Luke for Chicago.

Ms. John is an excellent writer of general fiction. She puts the reader right in the midst of Elliot and Sheridan's world - you feel their pain, fear and their lost dreams. I found the book refreshing, intriguing, sometimes sad, sometimes uplifting. It is one you will stay up late reading so as not miss one minute in the daily lives of Eliot and Sheridan.

Highly recommended.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

GiGi, God's Little Princess: Gigi's Big Break by Sheila Walsh

This is a 2-episode Christian live action & animated DVD about GiGi - an only child.

In The White Lie, GiGi gets herself into trouble when she accidentally breaks her mother's vase and lies about it. She tells one lie to her mother and another to her father. When they inform her she needs to go to the police and tell them she saw a kidnapping, a burgery and how the cat broke the vase, she owns up to the lie. She asks her parent's forgiveness and also God's forgiveness.

In the Pink Surprise, when GiGi is told she is to be a big sister she is happy. However, she listens when one of her friends tells her that her parents will not love her as much, not have time for her and will spend all of their time with the baby. Thinking she will be second best, she decides to go live with her best friend. Her parents tell her there are other blessing in life than being first and there will only be more love in their home. Having a sibling is a blessing from God.

This is an excellent Christian video. Recommended for children of all ages. It can be used to teach a Sunday school class or just lessons about honesty and loving your siblings, as well as loving God. Lying is a sin, your heart will become heavy with guilt, but God will always forgive you - you only have to ask. Parents, as well as God, always have enough love for you. The video can teach our children to love God, their siblings and to always tell the truth.

This DVD was supplied by the publisher as a review copy.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Woman's Walk In Grace by Catherine Martin

The author has written this book especially for Christian women. Grace - given to us freely by God the Father. Grace is received not earned. The author wants you to believe it - receive it - live it. She wants you to enter the "land of grace". Have you ever walked in the "Garden of Grace"? Throughout the book. the author tells you about special people who not only received God's amazing grace, but walked daily in the Garden of Grace finding the secure love of Jesus.

In the Garden of Grace is where we grow spiritually. The author wants each woman to be a "SWOG" - A Super Woman of God. In your quiet time is where you walk in the Garden of Grace. In order to do this you must prepare yourself. How, you may ask, can I do this? The answer - PRAYER plan. What is the PRAYER plan?
  • Prepare your heart
  • Read and study God's word
  • Adore God in prayer
  • Yield yourself to God
  • Enjoy His presence
  • Rest in His love
The more you learn from God, the more you will grow. The author tells us to put on our royal garments as we want in the Garden of Faith. These are your royal garments.

  • put on a heart of COMPASSION
  • put on a heart of KINDNESS
  • put on a heart of HUMILITY
  • put on a heart of GENTLENESS
  • put on a heart of PATIENCE
  • put on a heart of ENDURANCE
  • put on a heart of FORGIVENESS
When you are clothed in these beautiful garments - one you will wear above all others is the love of Jesus.

The book is written for women, but I recommend it for all readers - believers and nonbelievers. For those who have already accepted Christ, you will grow more spiritually in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. For unbelievers, who have doubts, take time to have a "quiet time" with Jesus, practicing the PRAYER plan and you too will become a believer as you walk in the Garden of Grace.

Highly recommended. Ms. Martin not only "talks the talk but walks the walk". Ms. Martin, along with her other accomplishments, is a well know author and founder of Quiet Time Ministries. Recommend christian women read other books she has written to help you grow spiritually in the Lord.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Never Far From Home by Mary Ellis

Emma Miller is a young Amish girl turning sweet sixteen. At her birthday party she shocks her family by announcing she want to take her full Rumspringa. This is the time Amish boys and girls are allowed to experience the English (or Englischer as they are called) world before being baptized into the faith. Emma is a hard working young teenager with her own wool business. She sells her products to Mrs. Dunn who owns the "Stitch In Time" boutique. Emma has met James Davis Jr, a young Englischer farmer who often makes deliveries to the boutique. She has feelings for James, and feels guilty: the worlds of the Amish and Englischers are too far apart. Her father, would never approve of her courting James.

Emma is very close to her Aunt Hannah who recently married her Uncle Seth. They are both raising lambs, both are in the wool business, both selling their products to Mrs. Dunn. She longs to talk with Hanna about James, but doesn't want to put her in the middle. Emma's father is "Old World" Amish and a deacon. When he learns of her associated with James from an Amish harness maker, he is really upset and forbids her to see him. He cannot understand why his daughter would want to associate with an Englischer, let alone have feelings for him. This goes against all he believes in. There are several good Amish young men she can court when it is time.

Readers will enjoy living Emma's daily life as she agonizes over her feelings for James, the desire to obey her parents, her God, and not to bring shame to her family. You will cry, laugh and rejoice with the family as they cope with the debilitating illness of her mother, Emma's long recovery from a terrible accident involving her buggy and a truck. Does she reconcile her problems with her father? Does Emma leave her faith and become English or does James convert to Amish? Talk with the family as they live their daily lives. Hanna prays for a baby, Emma's mother prays for relief from her illness, and Emma prays for guidance and understanding. Is James the one person God has planned for her? Can she truly wait for God's timing and accept his will?

Ms. Ellis is an excellent writer of romance fiction. She seems to have a firm understanding of the Amish' beliefs and their way of life. Highly recommend for all readers.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Plain Jayne by Hillary Manton Lodge

Jayne Tate is a staff reporter writing for the "Oregonian" newspaper and residing in Portland, Oregon. When her boss calls her into his office, she is sure is getting the prime assignment to go to Miami. Instead she is told her work is slipping, too many rewrites, and he suggests she take a few weeks of vacation to get her act together. He has given the assignment to another reporter. Her father has recently passed away and her boss thinks she is still grieving. Jayne know this is not true. She is estranged from her family and has been for some time. However, she keeps quiet - he can believe what he wants. Jayne is devastated about missing out on the assignment though - what will she do with all that time? She can't relax on the weekends let alone for three weeks.

Jayne is a motorcycle riding gal. She owns a 2008 Triumph Bonneville. She fires up her bike and goes for a ride to clear her mind. She doesn't get far - she spots a bookstore and stops to browse. A magazine catches her eye - there is an article about the Amish. She buys the magazine and returns home. An idea - there is a story, here, or maybe a series, and she is the one to write it, proving to her boss she is still his best reporter. The Internet reveals an Amish community just outside of Albany.

Jayne tells her friends and boyfriend what she plans to do, cranks up her Triumph and starts out for the adventure of her life. Reaching Albany she picks the name Levi Burkholder, an Amish carpenter and owner of his own business, out of the phone book. Making contact with Levi, she tells him she is a reporter and wants to do a story on the Amish people. She wants to stay with an Amish family to learn their ways.

Levi is clearly smitten by Jayne and takes her to an Amish family who agrees to let her stay for a few weeks. Jayne is unaware this is Levi's family. He left home before being baptized into the faith, wanting something more than what the Amish community could provide. Wanting to be closer to his family, he left the corporate world, returning to Albany and started his carpentry business. He has kept in touch with his mother, but is shunned by his father who won't even speak to him. The longer Jayne stays with the family, the more she is convinced the plain and simply life of the Amish is for her. Maybe she should try to reconnect with her family. Perhaps they didn't hate her or blame her for all the problems.

I highly recommend you read the book to learn Jayne's fate. Does she become Amish? How does her boyfriend fit into her new life style? Does she cultivate a relationship with Levi? Does she reconcile with her family? Readers will thoroughly enjoy their journey with Jayne - a tea drinking, motorcycle rider determined to prove to her boss that she is still his best reporter.

Ms. Lodge is an excellent writer of romance fiction. She has a firm grasp of the Amish community and their beliefs. The book is certainly an eye-opener and one you will find hard to put down.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Hannah's Hope by Jennifer Saake

The book is written from the personal journal of the author as she experiences the heartbreak of infertility. Hannah's Hope is patterned after Hannah in the Bible. Hannah's story can be found in 1 Samuel, Chapters 1 and 2 of the Old Testament. (I suggest you read her story along with Jennifer's). Hannah too longed for a child to hold and nurture. She dearly loved her husband Elkanah, but was unable to give him a son. The Bible states she was barren. Jennifer loved her husband Rick. They had plans for a large family, but this didn't seems to be in God's plans.

The story unfolds as the author takes you through the heartache and agony of losing her babies through miscarriages, still born, failed adoptions and in vitro fertilization (IVF). You will feel her pain as she experiences one failed adoption after another, year after year of not getting pregnant, and the agony of losing her babies when she does become pregnant. As you read her story, tears will flow, you will find yourself praying for her, becoming angry as you ask the question - how can this happen to one who so desperately wants to be a mother? Jennifer never loses her faith in God, however - she is determined to wait on His timing and His plans for her life.

One must read the book to fully grasp the agony one goes through being unable to bear children. Does Jennifer and Rick ever have living children - the ending will surprise you. Through God everything is possible and He is with you no matter what you may have to endure. I found the book both soothing and heart rending as I made the journey with Jennifer and all the other women who are infertile.

Highly recommend for all adult readers. You will come away with a thorough understanding of what it means to be infertile and how it impacts your life.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron

Chase Falson is the founding pastor of the largest contemporary evangelical church in New England. After graduating from seminary, he headed east to start a church in Thackeray, Connecticut. Everyone thought he was crazy - New England is commonly called "the graveyard of preachers". He not only founded a new church, but saw it grow to a weekly attendance of over three thousand worshipers.

Things were going great - right. Not so, Chase had become disillusioned. He is reaching a spiritual crisis in his faith and asking the question - there must be something beyond the evangelicalism island he lived in. To top things off, behind his back his student ministries' pastor is aiming for his job.

Things come to a head one Sunday morning when he goes completely off script and loses it. He tells the whole congregation he has lost his faith and there must be a better way to serve God than the way the church is going. As a result, the Elders suggest he take some time off to get himself together. He is not allowed to speak with any of the members or his staff.

The question - now what is he to do? After three days of not leaving his condo, the idea comes to him to call his Uncle Kenny. Kenny not only had left the Conservative Baptist fold and became a Catholic but a Franciscan priest, living in Florence, Italy. Kenny suggested he come to Italy for a visit.

This is where the story becomes intriguing. Kenny is taking Chase on a pilgrimage through the teaching of Saint Francis of Assisi. Leaving Florence, they journey to Assisi where they meet up with Kenny's three friends who are Franciscan priests - Brothers Bernard, Peter and Thomas. (Brother Bernard reminded me of Hagrid in Harry Potter movies.) They are delighted to meet Chase and enthusiastically join in the pilgrimage. Their first stop is the Chapel of San Damino. This is the chapel where Francis heard Jesus speak from the cross. He told Francis to repair his church. Francis, a man of noble birth and wealth, left his family and his privileged life to live in poverty, and to do what Jesus had asked of him. With the help of the brothers, books, articles and places, Chase starts his spiritual journey in the footsteps of Francis of Assisi who was the first post modern Christian .

As you read the book, you find yourself going step by step with Chase as he experiences the teaching of Francis. Will Chase convert to the Catholic religion? What will happen to his church when he returns? Will he change the church's beliefs or be out of a job?

I found the book hard to put down, I could hardly turn the pages fast enough . The story held my interest and kept me enthralled and (I hope) brought me closer to God. I can't recommend this book too highly. Everyone should take this pilgrimage with Chase and Francis.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Cade is a bounty hunter, the town of Winterborn, Kanasas' most notorious citizen. He has a reputation of having the fastest draw, bringing a number of outlaws to justice. He left his own town fifteen years ago, leaving his sweetheart Zoe behind. He is only returning now due to the death of his sister and brother-in-law. His sister's dying wish is for Cade to return and make the decision as to whom will raise her four young children. Zoe is very close to the children and can't understand why Addy did not give her the children. Even though it goes against everything she holds dear, Zoe respects Addy's wish and sends for Cade.

According to Zoe, a bounty hunter is not a person to raise children or to make a decision as to what is best for them. After all, Cade has never been back since leaving and he won't stay this time. She will fight him for the children as they are all she has - Zoe's husband was killed in a bank robbery.

How will Cade's return affect her life and the children? She has loved Cade for so long, how will she cope with his return? Has he changed from the boy she knew or has he become hardened with the life he lives? Does Zoe get the children, or will Aunt Laticia get her way? What happens between Cade and Zoe?

One must read the book to see how things play out. The book is one you can't put down, keeping you in suspense to the last page. You will learn how the whole town helps Cade reach his decision. I highly recommend the book for all readers. You will be enthralled by Ms. Copeland's ability to put you right in the middle of the situation . You will laugh, cry and rejoice with Zoe and her friends, even experience an old fashion middle of the street gun fight. Ms. Copeland is an excellent writer of romance fiction.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

The Rewards of Simplicity by Pam & Chuck D. Pierce

The book is about simplicity in your life - both physical and spiritual. Simply put - getting rid of the clutter. What is the book, though - personal confessions, a sermon, a bible study, a daily devotional, or two people's unrelenting faith in Jesus Christ regardless of the circumstances and obeying His commands? It is all of the above. There are three keys to simplicity - faith, focus and function.

While the authors clearly outline how to simplify your life using the three keys, quoting scripture pertaining to each key and detailing personal experiences, I was not overly impressed. The book reads like a personal journal of two people trying to (or who have already) simplify their own lives, obeying God and strengthening their own faith. As such it is just not that interesting or deep. On the face of it, we all know that we live cluttered lives, but I found nothing here that surprised or added to what I already knew I should be doing.

The Pierces have served the Lord for many years, have written several books, and are well known. People will no doubt purchase this book because of who they are; however, it is one I would not. I cannot in good faith recommend the book.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

I Love God's Green Earth by Michael & Caroline Carroll

This book is written to be used as a daily devotional for kids and to make them aware of the need to protect God's creation. The devotional quotes daily scripture and touches briefly on the meaning and connection of the environment to the Bible. However, it seemed the book is more scientific than spiritual. The facts are interesting, the jokes cute, but in my opinion don't contribute enough spiritually. As a devotional it lacks substance.

I believe that this book is too detailed and deep for kids under the age of 10. Even after age 10, I question kid's ability to fully grasp the book's complexity. The book is colorfully illustrated with nice pictures, is for the most part cute, and is full of jokes, but is not something that will hold a child's interest for long. If used daily it is likely that kids would get excited about the environment and trying to take care of God's creation, but young kids, as a whole, are more interested in entertainment than in social responsibility. I applaud the authors for attempting to encourage the perspective that the earth as God's magnificent creation I have my doubts though as to their success. At the least, this devotional could be used as a reference book for some school projects as there are some interesting facts listed.

As for myself, I was challenged by the publisher to determine an action step that I could take to make my household more environmentally sound. My action step is to ensure that 95% of light bulbs in my home are compact fluorescent bulbs.

This book was supplied by the publisher as a review copy.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Beguiled by Deeanne Gist & J. Mark Bertrand

Rylee Monroe is a dog walker in Charleston. Her clients live in the wealthiest part of the city. Recently their homes are being burglarized by a person the police have dubbed the Robin Hood burglar. Items being taken have little or no value while item valued at thousands remain untouched. The thief is giving the items to the poor, just like the mythical Robin Hood.

Logan Woods, a newspaper reporter, is writing a book on crimes in general and the Robin Hood burglar in particular. As he digs into the recent burglaries, he finds that Rylee seems to be at the center of everything. He tries to get close to Rylee, but she doesn't trust him or anyone else. Her father left his family when she was a small child and her mother committed suicide, or so she has been led to believe. She only has her grandmother, who she supports, living in a nursing home.

As the burglaries escalate, the police suspect Rylee of the crimes as she has access to each of the homes being burglarized. She is arrested and put in jail. After being released on bail, she returns to her apartment only to find it has been trashed - everything has been destroyed. She turns to Logan for help. Their relationship is one of mistrust and secrets, but they really do need each other: Logan to find the ending to his book and Rylee to have someone to cover her back.

This is a very interesting romantic suspense novel. You will find yourself asking the questions - what really happened to Rylee's parents, who is living in her ancestral home, who is the Robin Hood burglar - why has he/she committed these crimes?

Highly recommend the book. This is a well written suspense novel. The authors did an excellent job of collaborating the story - leading the reader to a surprising ending.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Not a Sparrow Falls by Linda Nichols

The story centers mainly around three individuals - Mary Bridget, Reverend Alasdair MacPherson and Samantha MacPherson. Mary is a lost soul. After the death of her mother she went a little wild - running off with a local boy the town said was peculiar. She soon becomes involved in the making and distribution of drugs, and finds herself on the wrong side of the law. Reverend MacPherson is pastor of John Knox Presbyterian Church. MacPherson has been pastor of the church since its founding. McPherson is a widow with three children to raise on his own. The church elders and the Presbytery president are not pleased with the reverend, because they feel he is too involved with other activities, not taking care of his congregation and are asking for his resignation. Samantha is the Reverend 's daughter. After the death of her mother she went from a loving daughter to a secretive teen, skipping school and getting into all kinds of trouble.

Determined to make a new start, Mary takes on her mother's identity and escapes to Alexandria, Virginia where she becomes nanny to the Reverend's children. The reverend must come to terms with what is best for his family and the church. Samantha must learn to take responsibility for her actions and stop blaming others. Mary, or Birdie as she is now known, must learn to listen when God speaks to her and do his bidding. She thinks she can help this family.

One must read the book to experience the doubts, frustrations, cruelty of one person, and how each character overcame their own challenges. Do they come to realize that God has been with them each step of the way and he always keeps his promises? If God sees each tiny sparrow that falls, surely he will do even more for his children, right?

Linda Nichols is an excellent author of Contemporary Fiction. Highly recommend this book for all christian readers.

This book was provided by the publishers as a review copy.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Never Say Never by Lisa Wingate

Donetta Bradford and her two friends, Imagene and Lucy, are going on a cruise. They have never been on one before and have high expectations. They start the drive from Daily, Texas in high spirits to sail on the Liberation docked in Perdida. A hurricane named Glorietta is brewing out in the gulf, but they are unconcerned. After all, the hurricane is predicted to miss them altogether. The trio is having a high ole time with their movies, food and good conversation until they run into a traffic bottleneck. Seems all predictions of Hurricane Glorietta were wrong and the storm is fast approaching land. They join the row of cars trying to exodus to higher ground, and soon find themselves out of gas and stranded on the side of the highway. Things are not looking too good for the women and the storm is really bearing down.

Kai Miller lives in Perdida and works on the Liberation. She arrives at the dock on the departure date to find the ship has already sailed in the middle of the night due to the approaching storm. Not knowing exactly what to do, she returns home to pack a few belongings and to find higher ground. Her landlord is not to be found and she just can't leave his two dogs to fend for themselves. She load up the dogs in her van, joins the line of departing vehicles and hopes she can outrun the storm.

Kai is soon caught up in the stop and go traffic with no where to go, but follow the car in front of her. She sees the stranded van and stops to help. She loads the women, all their belongings in her van, with the dogs, and continues on her mad exodus. Everything is going fine until she has a flat tire. She is forced to pull out in the first available spot which is the driveway of an electric company station. Now what where they going to do? Suddenly they hear singing. Were they going crazy - who would be out on night like this - maybe there was a house close by. Soon a man emerges out of the darkness. He and the Holy Ghost Church congregation are stranded as well and he was trying to find a way out. He takes the women and the dogs to an abandoned church in the woods where his people are staying.

This is where the story become interesting. You will find yourself laughing, crying and right in the middle of the hurricane. What happens to this bunch of unlikely strangers makes a very heart warming story. I just couldn't put the book down until the final page.

One must read the book to appreciate Lisa Wingate's unique style of writing. She is an excellent writer of contemporary fiction. I can't recommend this book too highly. You will thoroughly enjoy her way with words. She has written two other books about life in Daily, Texas which I plan to read.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Eastern Stars by Mark Kurlansky

This is a very complex book! - Is it a history of the sugar mills and the town of San Pedro de Macoris ... or a history of baseball and its players? Yes to both.

San Pedro de Macoris is a small town in the Dominican Republic. For centuries their main industry has been sugar - exporting it to Europe and the United States. The great mills are no longer being operated, just abandon empty rusty buildings. The few left employ very few for four to six months per season. The town is extremely impoverished. Each ruling government party has bought in European and American developer to build large hotels to encourage tourism, but few tourist have come. San Pedro is one of the most ethnically diverse areas of the Dominican Republic and one of the poorest.

The main mill is controlled by the existing ruling government party and at the start of the sugar season, a big banner goes up over the mill which reads "Gracias Presidente por ina nueva zafra" - Thank you President for a new cane harvest, as if he has anything to do with the good or bad harvest.

The second industry in San Pedro de Macoris is baseball. "Baseball is not just a way of life - it's the way of life.," says the author. Make shift stadiums are everywhere - boys of all ages play baseball in dirt filled lots with sock balls and cane stick bats. Their dream is to make it in the United States big leagues - becoming rich and famous, returning to San Pedro to build big mansions and drive SUVs. The town is overrun with scouts from all leagues - sorting through all the promising candidates. Boys as young as 14 years are signed with a major US teams to be groomed to their full potential. Some never make it to even the A league, being released and sent home. But a select few have made it to the big leagues, keeping the dream alive for all the other boys.

Seventy-nine boys from San Pedro have made it to the Majors - Jose Cano, Alfonso Soriano, and Sammy Sosa to name a few. Sammy is the only batter to hit 60 or more home runs for three consecutive years. He is one of only five players to hit 600 home runs.

The book is a story of many who sought freedom from poverty through baseball. However,the total failures are almost the same as successes. When one asked the question - Why does the town of San Pedro produce so many baseball players? The answer - Because we don't have anything else to do and we aren't tall enough for basketball.

Good book for baseball fans and historians. They will thank this small impoverished town for turning out such great players in a sport that has become America's pastime. The Dominican Republic may be a challenged nation, but it sure turns out some great baseball players who have the dream of making it in the Big Leagues.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Mornings In Jenin by Susan Abulhawa

This is the story of a young Palestinian girl named Amal borne in the refugee camp of Jenin. Her family had been evicted from their home during the 6-Day war between Palestine and the soon to be State of Israel. One must read the book to follow her journey from Jenin to a Jerusalem orphanage to Beirut, Lebanon to America and her decision to return to Jenin.

Young Yasser Arafat had just formed the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the world would soon label him a terrorist. Tears will be streaming down your face as you experience her fear in being constantly under Israel's guns/planes/tanks, the watchful eye of the Israeli solders, and the war crimes of Ariel Sharon. You will hear the voices behind the headlines of the massacres in Lebanon. Who are the terrorists - Israel or Palestine - the PLO or Israel's Prime Minister. Will she survive her return to Jenin?

The author was born to refugees of the 6-Day War and has first hand knowledge of what it is like to be a Palestinian under Israel's thumb.

The story will keep you turning pages to learn how she survives the death of her family, her marriage, the birth of her child and the hardships she endures in America trying to fulfill her father's dream of getting an education. You will experience the family's struggles to survive through over 60 years of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

A must read book for all ages. When you have finished I believe you will come away with a different view of the Israeli government that is supposedly an ally of the United States.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni

This is a story of two misfits. Sebastian Pendergast who lives in a geodesic dome in the woods with his eccentric "Nana". He has been home schooled since the age of 4 by Nana in the teachings of the futurist philosopher Buckminster R. Fuller. Sebastian is being groomed to someday save the world. He has never been out into the real world as he is forbidden to leave the dome. Nana gives tours of the dome and Sebastian works in the gift shop. Peter Whitcomb is an angry, guilt ridden teenager who recently underwent a heart transplant. He is guilty because another young boy had to die so he could live. He is mostly confined to his home, rarely going outside, and really doesn't know what to do with himself.

Peter meets Sebastian by accident when he, his mother and sister take the dome tour. Soon Sebastian is leaving the dome at night and going to visit Peter. Nana catches him in a lie and asks him to leave. Sebastian goes to live with the Whitcombs. He doesn't really understand Peter or the family, but they all sort of become friends. Peter wishes to start a rap band as he thinks it would be cool - he would then become rich and famous. Neither he nor Sebastian have any musical talent or really know how to start a band.

What follows in the lives of these two unlikely friends makes for a very interesting story. One must read the book to learn if Peter actually forms a band. Does Sebastian return to the dome? What happens to Nana? Each of these questions and the superb writing kept me reading even though I felt the vulgar language was inappropriate. It did nothing to enhance the story.

Therefore, would not recommend the book for young readers or those who wish to avoid gratuitous vulgarity. An interesting read that ultimately left me disappointed.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Buried Alive by Roy Hallums

Roy Hallums is a retired U.S. Navy Commander working as a civilian in Iraq. His company, Saudi Arabia Trading, provides food for the American Army in Baghdad. With the collapse of Saddam Husein's regime, kidnapping becomes the growth industry in Iraq for anyone with a car and friends with AK-47s. Anyone is a target: foreign correspondents, wealthy Iraqis, foreign diplomats. In 2004 Roy Hallums is kidnapped by such terrorists and this book is his story told with his own words.

His family was not notified of his kidnapping for several months and only learn of the incident by seeing the video that aired on the Internet and Al Jazeera television. The family goes into denial - he is suppose to be in Saudia Arabia; not Baghdad. Since the US government does not negotiate with or pay ransom to terrorists, the government agencies, expecially the FBI, were not very helpful to the family, always citing national security.

One must read the book to learn how Hallums survives the beatings, starvation, filth, moves from safe house to safe house, the threat of being killed, promises of being released, all the while forced to make videos surrounded by hooded men with AK-47s, and always having his face covered so he couldn't see his kidnappers. For months Hallums is in total darkness, literally buried alive in a hole in the ground, covered over by concrete. And as Hallums see other captives come and go, some he is sure has been ransomed, others he is not sure if they were executed or freed, he is sure he will die any day, he thinks no one is really looking for him and he is doomed. He survives as he forces his mind to take mental trips, praying and asking God for his rescue.

The book clearly depicts the cruelty of one human being to another. The book keeps you turning pages to learn how he survives day to day, and how he survives the drama of when or if he will he be rescued, ransomed by his company, or be executed.

Recommended book for all readers, especially those interested in the Iraq war. As you read Hallums' ordeal, you will become sad, find tears steaming down your face, and most of all, you'll find yourself praying for his rescue.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Latter-Day Cipher by Latayne C.Scott

Journalist Solonnah Zee is assigned to cover the murder of Kristen Young, a young Utah heiress. The murder is not a ordinary murder, but one with strange carvings on the body and a note written in the weird symbols of the Deseret Alphabet of the early Mormon Church. This alphabet was designed by Joseph Smith with the writing of' 'The Book of Mormon'. The crimes soon escalate with the mutilated body of a long dead prostitute, the death of a hunter, a nameless man, a homeless old lady and the kidnapping of three men from a nursing home. Messages written in the Deseret Alphabet were left at each crime scene.

Who is behind these crimes? Are these incidents occurring to embarrass the LDS (Latter Day Saints) Church? What ties these crimes to the recent bombings of the Masonic Temples in Salt Lake City, Utah? Publicity like this is the last thing the LDS Church needs and it will do almost anything to protect themselves.

The author, an ex-Mormon, goes to great lengths to point out the differences between modern LDS doctrine, the Book of Mormon, and Joseph Smith and Brigham Young's Mormonism. She has first hand knowledge of workings of the Mormon Church, but it is clear she had never been a worker in the temple. The book can be very confusing and hard to understand as it is sometimes difficult for Christians to comprehend the acts and rites of the LSD members and their doctrines.

Fundamental and practicing Mormons will be offended by the book, no doubt. However, it is recommended for those considering joining the LDS Church or have questions or doubts about their faith. It is a true eye-opener.

This book was supplied as a review copy by the publisher.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Keeping The Feast by Paula Butturini

Paula Butturini and John Tagliabue, both foreign correspondents, met in Italy, fell in love, and married several years later. Shortly after their wedding they were given assignments in Communist Warsaw Poland. The time is at the beginning of the Polish revolution. John is critically wounded by a sniper's bullet and their happy carefree life they had known in Rome no longer existed plunging them into a horrible nightmare of events,

Paula, in her own words, tells of her struggles to overcome John's many surgeries, his bouts of clinical depression, his treatments by numerous psychiatrists,and the birth of their daughter. She is not only trying to survive John's illness, but also the death of her mother by her own hands. Love, food and Italy is the sustaining factor throughout the entire book. One must read the book to see how the simple daily selection of food, preparing the meals, her memories of family dinners and the ritual of eating three meals together each day at the kitchen table played such an important role in the healing of two people and stabilized their very existence. The love of Italy's countryside, good friends and good food healed a hurting family.

An enjoyable read, but lacked substance. One learns a lot about 'old world' Italian cooking and the role food plays in the lives of Italian families. The story clearly points how the simple ritual of selecting, preparing and eating food can become an important step in the healing process.

This book was provided as a review copy by the publisher.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sense and Sensibility, Insight Edition by Jane Austen

The story centers around two sisters - Elinor and Marianne Daswood. The love and loyalty between the sisters is astounding, but they do not understand each other. Elinor is a quiet, sensible and sensitive young lady cheerful and putting others first. Marianne is just the opposite. She has a quick temper, speaks before thinking, is often rude and is full of herself. Her wishes and desires come first regardless of who is hurt.

The family lives in late 18 century England where a person is judged by breeding and wealth, looking down on the working class. Circumstances change in the sisters lives and they are forced to move from the family homer to the country. Their half-brother has good intentions as to their welfare, but is overruled by his wife. Through the goodness of a distant cousins and friends, the sisters remain in polite society. Both have feelings for two gentlemen of the upper class, but whose feelings do not appear to be in their favor or any chance of marriage. What transpires in the lives of Elinor and Marianne along with their friends leads to some interesting conclusions.

Jane Austen has always been a favorite author of many. However, this is a reprint of the original book first published around 1811. The trivia and notes that highlight this "Insight Edition" in the right margin is very distracting, and at times I found the story rambling without anything worthwhile being said.

Jane Austen fans who want to reread the book will, no doubt, purchase the reprint for the interesting trivia, but I found it very hard to follow, due to the inserts in the margin, and to only hold my attention for short periods of time.

This book was provided by the publisher for review.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Fool's Gold by Melody Carlson

Hannah is a missionary kid (otherwise known as MK) from the island of Papua New Guinea north of Australia. She is visiting her Uncle's family in America for the summer while her parents crisscross the country raising money to return to New Guinea. Her cousin Vanessa and Aunt Lori are shopaholics - obsessed with the latest fashion, designers and brand names. They are embarrassed by Hannah's 'Aussie' clothes. Hannah feels lost and out of place with
Vanessa's friends and the whole shopping scene.

Hannah takes a job with her Uncle's company supposedly to earn money for her continued education in New Guinea. Soon her coworkers have her spending more money than she has, getting a credit card, and buying expensive clothes she neither needs or can afford. She becomes obsessed with fitting in with the crowd. She seems to have left her faith as well as her Bible behind in New Guinea as she strives to fit in with the other wealthy kids - living for the moment. Hannah is soon finds herself head over heels in debt and doesn't know how to cope with her situation.

A must read to learn how Hannah solves her debt problem and returns to her faith. Did she come to recognize what she valued most? Did she learn that all that glitters is not gold? Melody Carlson has a excellent command of the minds of teenagers, especially the rich, and what influence peers have on each other.

Highly recommended for teenagers and parents. You will become a fan of Ms. Carlson.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen

Olivia Keene, at a early age, has the ability to cipher sums. Her father, being proud of her ability, often took her to the local pub and racetrack, placing wagers on her ability to give the correct answers. Around the age of twelve, something happened and her father lost interest in her, drinking to excess, becoming very quarrelsome, and making Olivia's life miserable.

Coming home late one night she surprises a man trying to strangle her mother. She grabs a fire iron, striking him on the head and he falls to the floor. Thinking she has murdered the man, her mother encourages her to flee from the home and go to St. Aldwyns, a girl's school where she might obtain a position.

On the way, Olivia overhears a conversation revealing a secret she should not have heard. Lord Bradley, occupant of the Manor, and whose secret she had overheard, forces her to take a position in the nursery, caring for his two young cousins. This way he could assure himself of her silence. Keeping her own secret, Lord Bradley's secret, and his contempt for her makes for a very stressful life.

The story is moving, mysterious, and romantic as the writer keeps you focused on the life of a Governess in an English Manor where nothing is as it appears to be. Mrs. Klassen did a excellent job of holding my interest to the final conclusion. I strongly recommend you read the book to see if Olivia's and Lord Bradley's secrets are exposed, what impact the secrets have on the lives of those living at the Manor. A must read for those who enjoy historical fiction, you will become a fan of Mrs. Klassen and look forward to reading all of her books.

This book was supplied by the publisher as a review copy.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Hidden Flame by Davis Bunn & Janette Oke

The story begins in Jerusalem A.D. 33 just six weeks after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah. A group known as the Followers of the Way, led by Peter, a disciples of Jesus, is gathering believers by the thousands. This group is dedicated to peace and brotherly love, converting Jews and Greeks to the teaching of Jesus. A group known as the Zealots is dedicated to the overthrow of the Roman rule.

Abigail, a beautiful young woman, is one of the believers. She has two suitors desiring her hand in marriage. One is a wealthy Jewish merchant, with strong ties to the Sanhedrin, the council of Jerusalem's religious leaders, who is looking for a mother for his two young children. The other, a young Roman legionnaire, who only wants to possess her because of her beauty. Abigail doesn't want either one of the men, but fears she has no say in the matter as the ruling council and her guardian will decide what is best for her. She only wants to stay with the believers and do the work she feels the Lord has called her to do.

Jerusalem is in turmoil as the religious leaders and the Roman Governor wish to stamp out the fledging church. The cruelty, trials and death that Abigail and the believers face keeps the reader turning page after page. The authors clearly depict the uncertain times of first century Jerusalem along with the Roman cruelty and debauchery. Roman games play a part in the book as well, particularly the arenas where the final conclusion of one man's revenge and the conversion of another.

Highly recommended for readers of all ages - believers and non-believers. Bunn and Oke did it again. They are two of the best contemporary authors of religious historical fiction.

I received this book as a review copy from the publisher.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Vienna Secrets by Frank Tallis

The decapitated body of Brother Stanislav, a Piarist monk is found in the Maria Treu Kirche Church yard close to the school where he teaches. This is no ordinary decapitation - the head was literally torn from the body. Detective Inspector Oskar Reinhardt of the Vienna Security Police is baffled by this mode of decapitation. Who or what has the strength to commit this heinous crime? He calls in his friend, psychoanalyst Dr. Max Lieberman to help with the investigation. (This is the same Dr. Lieberman who is featured in several of Tellis' previous works.)

In the course of the investigation, the body of Councillor Faust is found at Maria Geburt church. He has been decapitated in the same manner as Brother Stanislav. The only clue at both crime scenes is a patch of black sticky mud. Dr. Lieberman uncovers that both Stanislva and Faust were vocal members of a shadowy anti-Semitic group. Could the Jewish population, especially the Hasidic community be responsible for these crimes or had the Jewish golem, a legionary figure, arisen?

The investigation soon becomes personal for Dr, Lieberman. His privileges at the local hospital are suspended and he is on the verge of losing his medical license. After the third decapitated body of Jeheil Sach, a local pimp, is found, Dr. Lieberman turns to the Hasidic Jews to find answers. The question is why had the Jews killed one of their own?

What transpired in the investigation as Dr. Libermann searches for answers leaves you in suspense. Tallis keeps you turning pages as he weaves his intrigue and brings the story to the final conclusion of who or what committed the crimes. However, it is very difficult to keep your focus as the plot jumps from subject to subject. Tallis has received many accolades for his work, and his fans will definitely want to read this one. However, I do not recommend Vienna Secrets for first time reader of Frank Tallis.

This book was supplied by Random House as a review copy.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Long Way Home by Andrew Klavan

Andrew Klavan writes The Long Way Home in the first person serving to bring home the personal turmoil that the main character lives with. Charlie West, a 17 year old high schooler, who previously lived in a small town with his parents and sister, is on the run. He went to bed one night and woke up one year later accused of murdering his friend Alex and being a terrorist in an organization called "The Highlanders".

Charlie was found guilty of murder and sentenced to prison. With the help of an unknown benefactor he excapes from prison and is running from the police and the Highlanders.
Charlie cannot remember what transpired duiring his lost year. He wonders if he really is a murderer and a terrorist. How can he prove his innocence and who is really behind all this? Was he framed, as his friends say, or did he really do these terrible things? Charlie returns to his home town, holing up in a vacant house called the "Ghost Mansion". He teams up with his friends Rick.Josh. Milner and his girlfriend Beth to discover the truth about the murder he can't remember and who is behind the Highlanders, a terrorist group. The author keeps you turning pages as you eagerly anticipate answers to these questions and to see if (and how) Charlie will evade the police and the Highlanders. The book is well written and interesting, and ends on a cliffhanger.

Overall, this is an exciting mystery novel that keeps the reader interested in the outcome partially due to the first person perspective and partially due to the constant chase that Charlie finds himself in. A fun book for mystery readers. If you are new to this series, you must read the first book of the series to see what transpired in Charlie's life to bring him to the situation he finds himself in at the start of this book, book 2 in the series. Charlie's story continues in Book 3 - The Truth of the Matter.

This book was supplied by Thomas Nelson Publishers as a review copy.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Rediscovering God in America by Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, takes us on a walking tour of the nation's capitol - Washington, DC. The touch begins with The National Archives, Washington Monument, the Memorials of Jefferson, Lincoln, Vietnam Veterans, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the Capitol Building, Supreme Court, Library of Congress, Ronald Reagan Building, The White House, World War II Memorial, and last but now least, Arlington Cemetery and the grave of President Kennedy with the eternal flame. Gingrich give a small dissertation of the history of each and the trials and tribulations encountered in the building of these historical buildings.

This book, in part, is a history lesson of America. Gingrich clearly describes our founding father's faith in God. From our first president, George Washington through George Bush II, God has played a mayor role in decisions made by these men, Washington at Valley Forge, Roosevelt's "fire side chats", Eisenhower's prayer on the beaches of Normandy on D-day, Kennedy's famous speech -"ask not what you country can do for you, but what you can do for your country".

Our country is founded on the principle that "all men are created equal with certain unalienable rights..." The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and Bill of Rights all stress the importance of the invisible hand of Almighty God. The novel is not written as political, but spiritual. Gingrich points out that our founding fathers knew that power came from God and that a nation cannot survive without God. Faith of our presidents and their devotion to God is clearly depicted in their speech3es, scriptures carved in and on all the monuments and buildings that make up our nation's capital. He also points out that our founding founders established our nation to be a nation "under God".

The secular Left's relentless effort to drive God out of America is succeeding at an alarming rate. The Supreme Court ruled we can no longer say "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. The writer points out that we are allowing five people to completely change the structure of America.

The book is not intended to be political, acknowledge any particular religion, but is spiritual in context. Ir clearly warns us that we must stand up for God and our believes or lose our rights as a nation under God.

Callista Gingrich's photography throughout the novel is outstanding.

I am reminded of Jefferson's immortal words in the Declaration of Independence that all " are men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights..." and the inescapable truth that freedom is strictly from God's grace. Don't let it slip away

Good read - will renew your faith in God. Gingrich did an excellent job.