Friday, October 23, 2009

Athol Dickson

Dear Readers,

I am always fascinated by what and how Athol Dickson writes. He never writes like any other author I read. He is very different from the "norm." He can take a simple Spanish Mission and tie it in with a modern day tale as he does in Lost Mission.

We first meet Fray Alejandro when he is receiving his call to go to the new world. He feels lead to help "convert the heathens" in New Spain. His travels take him to Alta California. It is a dry place and a place ready to hear about the Lord. But that is where all the plans go wrong.

In the modern times part of the story, Lupe sees what she believes is a sign from God that she must go to the U.S. in order to help lead the heathens of the great country to the north to God. That is where she first meets Ramon who helps her come across the border. She is rescued by Tucker and finally goes to live and work with Delona.

Each of these stories intertwine through the entire book, which in and of itself is done really well and very uniquely. It is one of those tales that leaves you wondering where you would fit into it. I know it is set in California and yet it is one that could be happening anywhere.

You are left to wonder who is the "bad" person here. There is the Christian guy who is helping people by stealing from the rich people. There is Lupe who thought she would lead thousands to Christ and yet has "saved" no one. What about Ramon who is here illegally and yet is sending his money home for his family to survive and some day save enough to buy their own restaurant.

No one is wholly good and yet not one is completely bad. It is all very interesting and leaves you wondering if you are really a failure or are you looking at all you have done through the wrong eyes.

Happy Reading

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Dear Readers,

I wanted to let you know that the reason that there hasn't been many reviews is I have been preparing for Librarian's Day here at the store. That was last week and then this Saturday Iwill be teaching two workshops at the ECLA annual Librarian's conference in Wheaten IL.

I will be doing reviews of books that have released in the last year. If you are interested in coming check out their website at You don't have to pre - registar so come join us for a good learning experience.

I will get back to reading and reviewing this weekend, I hope. :-) Thank you all for your support over the last year.

Happy Reading

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Karen Kingsbury

Dear Readers,

I just wanted to let you know that Shades of Blue by Karen Kingsbury is available today. I know I had been telling people that it didn't come out until Nov. 1st. Well that seems to have changed and it arrived today.

If you placed a special order at the store for one, then you should be recieving our call soon to come get your copy.

Happy Reading

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Yeah Author visits

I have just recieved information that Steven James (The Pawn, The Rook and The Knight) is going to be in our store on November 6th at 7:00p.m. He will be speaking and signing his books for us. I know I have a couple of questions for him.

To make the news even better, Melody Carlson is also coming. She will be here on November 20th at 7:00p.m. She has several series and books out for both adults and teens. She is best known for her Diary of a teenage girls series, but I have enjoyed several of her books. She will also be speaking and signing her books.

I hope you can join us for one or the other or both authors. I know I am looking forward to both of them coming.

Happy Reading

Tim Downs

Dear Readers,

I think one of my favorite characters in books is Nick Polchak. If you haven't meet the Bug Guy yet then you need to read any one of his books. Ends of the Earth by Tim Downs is the 5th one in the series (without counting Plaguemaker where Nick only had a cameo spot). They are all great fun and he has me chuckling at him and how he has a knack for irritating his fellow Professors.

In "Ends" an old friend calls out of the blue asking Nick to help her. Kathryn's husband is murdered and she knows that Nick can help the police find the answers. He arrives not knowing that she is the reason for the call. He in turns calls Alena thinking he would need her help and the help of her dogs. Of course you remember Alena if you read Less than Dead and Kathryn is from Shoo-fly Pie.

The clues and other creepy crawleys don't add up and Nick is unsure who really did murder Michael. Little does he know how close the murderer is to him.

So in typical fashion Nick is clueless about other people and their feelings. He has no idea what to do with one woman who likes him let alone two. He is just so him in how he treats "us humans." Which I am sure is some much a part of the appeal of these books for me. He is someone who if I knew him in real life would drive me completely bonkers, but reading about him as he "tortures" other people is funny.

I have one complaint. Tim doesn't complete the book. I can't tell you what he doesn't complete but you need to go on line to finish it. I really felt like that was a bit lazy on his side of things, but I did go on line and finish it. It is something you will want to do, but I still felt a bit cheated by it all. But don't not read the book for that reason, the mystery is solved by the end of the book so you don't have to worry about not knowing the ending if you don't like going on line.

The Bug Man will be forever changed by the ending of the story. :-)

Happy Reading

Monday, October 12, 2009

Irene Henderson

Dear Readers,

One question I get asked over and over in the fiction dept. is "When is Dee Henderson going to write a new book?" I use to have to answer just, "I don't know." Now I can say, "have you read Irene Hannon?"

An Eye for an Eye is #2 in the Heroes of Quantico series. The first, Against all Odds, was about Coop, this one is about his partner Mark. Mark has been temporarily transferred to St. Louis. He needs to recover physically and emotionally from an accidental shooting.

While in St. Louis Mark has a chance meeting with an old flame. While he is visiting a lone gun man opens fire, wounding Emily. It is up to Mark and his partner Coop to find the shooter before he strikes again. Mark isn't sure that he was the target, but that Emily is.

As they race to find the shooter, things heat up between Emily and Mark again. They were sweethearts one summer long ago. Emily isn't ready to love again and Mark isn't sure he wants to be tied down.

I do like these books. They don't give me the "thriller" fix like a Steven James, but they are a good read. The best thing for me though is now I can give a good read to those Dee Henderson fans.

Happy Reading

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Jackina Stark

Dear Readers,

Sometimes a book is just simply a good story. Things Worth Remembering by Jackina Stark is one of those books. There are no earth shattering events and yet I didn't want to lay it down.

Kendy and her daughter Maisey are very close. They seem like best friends, sharing secrets and enjoying each other company. Kendy was unable to have Maisey as a student in her 4th grade class, but they still were able to ride together to school and visit off and on during school days. Rainy days were best because then Maisey and her friends could come and hang out in Kendy's classroom. In fact they had been so close, Kendy was looking forward to shopping with Maisey for her wedding dress when Maisey started planning for her wedding, something Kendy's own mother hadn't had time to do.

That is why the phone call from Maisey that she already found her dress and bought it hurt so much. Kendy isn't sure what happened and why Maisey doesn't want to talk about it.

This is somewhat the story of mothers and daughters and their relationships, but mostly it is the story of turning points in our lives and the choices we make. Do we always choose well or not? Do our choices let us sleep in peace at night?

My own relationship with my mom isn't perfect, but we are close and very seldom does a week go by that I haven't talked to her at least once. She is one that I think of almost right away if I have extra time in a week or need to go out for a cup of coffee and talk. That may be why I was so drawn to this book, I always hurt for those people who don't have a good relationship with their parents. We need them whether we like to admit it our not. It isn't easy to always get along and they are the ones who can hurt us most.

I still am not sure why this book so captured my interest, but it might be mostly just because Jackina is such a good story teller.

Happy Reading

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Susan Meissner

Dear Readers,

I was so excited to hear Susan Messiner was releasing another book this year. I so loved The Shape of Mercy, in fact it was my pick as favorite book for '08. White Picket Fences is a very thought provoking book. I really liked it and yet struggled with some of the characters. It was hard to warm up to the main character and I am sure Susan wrote them that way. Which does make for a good and interesting read.

Tally needs a place to live. Her Grandmother just passed away and her dad is somewhere in Europe. When social services calls her aunt, Tally isn't sure what she is getting into. On the outside the Javnviers look perfect. Mom, Dad and the 2.5 kids every family needs. A nice home and everyone seems happy and very content, that is until you start living with them. Then you start to see the cracks.

Tally and her cousin Chase are able to bond over a project they are doing for school. They meet two Holocaust survivors and learn their story. While talking to them the teens realize that they themselves need help with their own stories. Not everything is as it seems.

I really liked this book, as soon as I read it. But, it has taken some talking with others to make me really appreciate some of the stories behind it all. It is one of those books that begs to be discussed. Susan had that great gift of writing books that make you think about things. She won me as a loyal reader with the first one of hers I read, Why the Sky is Blue. It is out of print, but if you can find it, read it. It makes you think about things you believe about rape and abortion.

Anyways back to this book, I am sure that book clubs would find this book very interesting, especially if there are several different generations in their book club. I found that everyone I talked to had something very different to say about the story. No one really agreed on why they liked the story and even the couple I found that didn't like it seemed to like the story itself and had more problem with the characters.

If you haven't read any of Susan's books this is a good place to start, if you have read her, this may quickly become one of you favorites.

Happy Reading

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Tracey Bateman

Dear Readers,

Tracy Bateman is one of those authors that I really enjoy reading, but I don't always remember to recommend her books. They are always interesting, but not earth shattering. I think she is trying to change that with Thirsty, but I don't know that she did.

Most of the reviews I do in this column are positive as I want you to know the good stuff out there, there are enough bad and negative reviews you don't need more. This isn't really negative, but ... I did like this book and I liked the subject matter, I just had a problem with one part of the story.

Thirsty is about Nina Parker, a recovering alcoholic. She has lost everything, her family, her job, her veterinary business, because of her drinking. She always figured she had the right to drink, her father was an alcoholic and her childhood wasn't the greatest. All issues and reasons for her leaving her hometown of Abbey Hills suddenly at the end of her senior year of high school.

Nina returns home and someone is waiting for her. She didn't know that years before a vampire fell in love with her and is now excited to see her home. OK this is where I have a problem with this book. I really have a hard time with story line. The murder mystery, even though it is not hard to figure out, is enough. I am just confused about why there had to be a vampire aspect of this story.

I am not against vampire books in the Christian market. I just would like a reason behind it. I just felt like the storyline of alcoholism was actually interesting enough. There were plenty of things that would have been enough to derail Nina's recovery. I thought that part alone would have made a very good book, but since the vampires kept popping up it seemed to take away from that part of the story.

Is it worth the read, yes. It is a good look at how hard it is to recover from something a difficult as alcoholism. When you have destroyed your family's trust of you, it is hard. When no one believes that you will be"better." How do you show them that you will, especially when things seem to be going so very wrong?

Nina has that. Her teenage daughter returns with her and Meagan no longer believes that Nina will be a "normal" person. She has heard it all before.Nina has promised before and failed before, why would this be any different?Tracey does a great job of writing that into the story. Why would her husband believe her? Why should her son not be disappointed in her? Her sister and parents have no reason to believe that she will not return to drink at the first possible moment.

Now maybe you can understand my frustration with the storyline. I just felt like Tracey wrote a vampire book because you need to write one now while it is popular. It just didn't feel like a natural part of the story.

Happy Reading