Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Chris Fabry

Dear Readers,

June Bug by Chris Fabry is the second of his Dogwood West Virginia books. The best thing is this is not a series. Some of the background characters will show up in them all, but that is it. I have no problem saying you could easily read them in any order.

I have started this review twice now and am still wondering what to say. I really liked this book, but felt like I had read it before. It is a very strange feeling, mostly because I knew I hadn't read this book before. :-) Oh well, it still is good.

June Bug sees her face on the wall at Walmart under the missing kids pictures. So starts a strange ending to a long journey for her and her dad. She doesn't remember anything except driving around the country with her dad and being taught in "RV" school. She is a great reader and knows things about America that not many people know. She has been from coast to coast and all the points in between. She loves her daddy and her life, even though she wouldn't mind a house and maybe grandparents and knowing her mother. All things that her dad can't give her.

This was a very enjoyable book. I fell in love with June Bug right away. She is a very precocious 9 year old who isn't afraid to ask questions but is terrified of crossing bridges. She will quickly win your heart also. As I read and knew the ending that had to happen, I just didn't want her to get hurt. It was an ending that fits the story, I just wish it had ended a little different. :-)

Happy Reading

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Steven James

Dear Readers,

I am officially a fan of Steven James. I joined his Facebook page - Fans of Steven James- last week, but I am also a huge fan of his books. I have waited so patiently for his third book in the Patrick Bowers series. I didn't bug anyone for an advanced copy, I didn't call publishing ... ok that isn't true, but now you all can read The Knight.

I always worry when authors take on a series, eventually, sooner or later, they follow a formula and I can figure out the mystery by the other books he/she has written. Which in turns means I don't enjoy them as much as the early few.

I am very happy to report that that is not true in this case. I started reading it on a Friday and finally came up for air on Sunday night. I really didn't want to put it down and when I had to I found myself going right back to it at the first possible chance I could.

Patrick is once again on the trail of a serial killer, this time in Denver. He has been asked in by the local police department. He isn't sure how to fit this all into his schedule, as he needs to testify in Chicago at a retrial of a serial killer he helped put away years ago, he's leaving for Washington DC in a couple weeks to teach a class for the summer, and he needs to spend time with Tessa.

When the trial is just getting started, a family member of one of the victims tries to kill the defendant. Patrick becomes an accidental hero when he saves the killer's life, someone he truly hates. The chaos that follows the shooting sets off a chain of events that has Patrick on the trail of a killer that is leading them on a merry chase.

Fast-paced, heart stopping and a hard to lay down read, this is a book that anyone who loves mystery/psychological thrillers will totally love. I kept thinking, I shouldn't read this so fast I need to savor it and enjoy it, but I couldn't, I had to know.

I know that some people are saying that these books don't belong in a christian bookstore. They are too violent, graphic and don't have any overt christian themes. I just want to say, yes, but... They are not for everyone. They don't have the plan of salvation. Patrick does wrestle with issues that we may not all struggle with, but in some small ways do happen to us. He also encounters many Christians during his many travels. They are all giving him a different perspective on Christians, one of the most intriguing is the Christian serial killer. Can anyone be saved from their sins?

For those wondering, yes Tessa is back in all her gothic glory. I will admit, she is probably my favorite character. She adds so much to the storyline and Patrick's character. It makes him so much more believable and endearing.

If you haven't yet read the Pawn or the Rook, do that first, then you can indulge with the Knight.

The Bishop - summer 2010. (do I sound like a groupie yet?)

Happy Reading

P.S. A fellow employee wrote on his blog about this book also. First let me warn you he does give away a couple aspects of the story. Secondly, he doesn't normally read fiction, Theology is more his speed. So it is very interesting to read his perspective on it.

Friday, July 17, 2009

T.L. Hines

Dear Readers,

Faces in the Fire by T.L. Hines has to be one of the strangest books I have ever read. I spent most of the book trying to figure out what was going on and why the chapter numbers were completely out of order (I still haven't figured that out completely).

If I had to sum this book up in a short sentence, it is a "pay it forward" book, sort of. It is about how even the littlest thing that we do for someone else can effect them in way we may never know. I really can't say much about this book or I will give something away, even more so than a mystery. With a mystery I really only have to worry about telling you the "who-done-it" part. With this book, every part is part of the rest of the story, so I can't really share it. (confused yet?)

You will meet 4 very strange and unique characters. I don't know if you will like any of them, I struggled with them all. T.L. doesn't write them to be sympathetic. He writes them, I believe, for the sole purpose of driving the reader nuts. They were one of the most frustrating groups of people that I have read about in a long time.

If you are still reading this review, you may be wondering if I liked this book. Yes I did. It did take me a bit to write this review because I wasn't sure how or what to write. I don't know if this is the right one, but it is what I got. :-)

Kurt is a truck driver with no memory of his past. Corinne has lymphoma. Grace is a tattoo artist and Stan is an assassin with a strange gift. Now the trick is to figure out how these very different people can help and influence each other. It is part of a book that is just a bit, ok a lot, off center. Have fun reading it.

Happy Reading

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Dear Readers,

Argh... This review is driving me nuts. I feel it should write itself as the book, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, is such a neat read. I am having trouble only because I don't want to say too much, but I am not sure how to while still making this sound like a good book.

Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows put together a delightful story about post World War II England. This book is set in Guernsey, a small island just off the coast of France, but it belongs to England. The story itself is written in letter form, which is not always the easiest way to read a story, but it really works in this book. It all starts when Juliet Ashton receives a letter from a stranger on the island who is interested in finding more about Charles Lamb. It leads to the discovery of a wonderful and interesting group of people who started their book club to explain to the Germans why they were out after curfew one night.

I enjoyed meeting the people of Guernsey and learned a bunch about the island. I knew that they were the only part of England that the Germans occupied during the war. The idea was that they would be able to launch their attacks from there. I didn't know that they had just enough time to send their children away before the Germans arrived. They had no contact with the "outside" world or their kids for 5 years. I can't imagine it. They were down to burning parts of their house for fuel and were mostly surviving on potatoes and turnips.

Okay I am going to quit there as I feel like any more will just drag on and really not help. I will say if you haven't already read this book, it is one of the perfect books for just relaxing with.

Happy Reading

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Randy Singer

Dear Readers,

Last Year Randy Singer started a very different book, one that the readers were going to decide the ending for him. He had a video where you got to listen to both sides of the case. You got to render your verdict and he would use the winning verdict in his book.

The result of this unique idea is The Justice Game. A story that is close to his heart. His wife taught and his children attended Atlantic Shores Christian School. They were all in attendance on the day that Nicholas Elliot walked in the building and opened fire, killing one teacher before moving on to a Bible class. His gun jammed and he was stopped, but who knows how much horror he would have unleashed if his gun hadn't failed. Nicholas' gun was purchased at a local gun store through something called a straw purchase, which thanks to this book, I know more about than ever before.

Rachel Crawford is ready to do her newest news story, Human trafficking. She can't wait to break the story. It is the biggest of her career. As the news starts Larry Jamison, the man behind the news story, storms the studio with the intent of clearing his name. He kills Rachel live on air before he is killed by the S.W.A.T. team.

Two months later Rachel's husband decides to sue MD firearms, the gun manufacturer. He is claiming that they knew all along that the gun store, Peninsula Arms, was selling guns through illegal straw purchases. (I am not going to go into detail on this, but you can read the book to find out.:-) They must be held responsible for their actions and should be taught a lesson.

This was an interesting read and I knew that this book might not "agree" with me. It makes a great argument for both sides of the issue. Neither side sounds like total radicals and yet both sides have those. I won't tell you what the verdict of the book is, but I did vote for the defendant. I believe these companies must be fined and the stores closed or at least stopped, but I also believe that suing the manufacturer of anything because a human decides to use their item illegally is just plain silly. We as a country have made a practice of always blaming someone when things happen. Not everything is someone's fault, people make horrible and terrible choices everyday.

I can easily say that if you like Randy's other books you will like this one. I also think that fans of Robert Whitlow will enjoy these as you wait for his next one to come out. I found it an easy read and I also found it fun to argue with the lawyers and all the stuff that was going on in the book. It was a good, interesting, and fun read.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Cheryl Moss Taylor

Dear Readers,

And You Invited Me In by Cheryl Moss Tyler is a simple story of when AIDS came to Mid-West America. It is set in the late 80's when it was still all new to most of us.

Alex leaves Hallton, Wisconsin suddenly. No one really understood why. He takes up the gay lifestyle and lived a very promiscuous life until he meets Scott and settles in Alanta.

Annie, Alex's sister, refuses to have anything to do with Alex until he gives up his life choice and repents and comes back to Jesus. That is until the day Scott calls and tells her that Alex is dying. Can she come help?

If you are looking for the next great American novel, this is not it. If you are looking for something that just may cause you to think a bit about the issue covered here, then you might want to take the time to read this little book.

It is simply written and even in some parts... well, for a lack of a better word... hokey. Too many of the things that happen are way too quick and "pat." They want someone to do something and they do it after hearing from God. Those disagreeing are painted as only very hostile and bigoted. Those that do change their mind do so too "freely." I don't know how else to explain it, it to me just seemed too perfect. Too sugary. So as a fiction book, it just doesn't make it.

That said the reason I am writing this review is not to trash the book, but to recommend it. It is one that made me think a bit. I don't agree with the gay - lifestyle in any way, shape or form. I don't believe that AIDS is a curse from God. I do believe that gays are God's children who are very willfully continuing in sin. To me they choose that sin/lifestyle the same as a church member who loves God, serves the church and yet watches porn. I wouldn't elect him or her as a leader in my church or have him be a pastor either.

I did need to think about how I would treat or have treated the homosexual community. Yes, even in my little hometown we have gays. Are my actions right? What about hate the sin and love the sinner? Where is the line where you are condoning a sin by seeming to tolerate it? I don't want to say I support them, but I must, as commanded by God, love them. All hhhmmm questions and ones that I will struggle with until the day I die. Judgment & condemnation of people is just as sinful. So who, if their sin is confessed, will be in hell or heaven. Hhhhmmm....

I am going to admit I was not even sure if I was going to review this book and now look it is turning into one of my longer ones. This is not a topic that will go away anytime soon. The gay community is vocal and pressuring society to accept them more and more. The church in general needs to work on the loving, not condemning part. Difficult but very doable.

See now you know what I have been wrestling with the last few days and who says fiction doesn't make you think. (lol)

Happy Reading