Monday, August 30, 2010

New Releases August 23-27

These are the new book that hit the shelves this past week.

A Time to Love - Barbara Cameron

Making Waves - Lorna Seilstad

A Hope Undaunted - Julie Lessman

A Memory Between Us - Sarah Sundin

The House on Malcom Street - Liesha Kelly

For Time and Eternity - Allison Pitman

A Season of Miracles - Rusty Whitener

Faithful - Kim Cash Tate

 The Falling Away - T.L.Hines

 Where Hearts are Free - Golden Keyes Parsons

  A Hand to Hold - Kathleen Fuller

Thursday, August 26, 2010

John Aubrey Anderson

Dear Readers,
This has been a bit of a different and difficult review for me. I actually started The Cool Woman by John Aubrey Anderson on my mission trip and was not enjoying it at all. I in fact stopped reading it and went so far as to tell one of my loyal customers that it was not a good book. Well I am here to tell you that I am eating crow now. It is a good book and I understand why the character had to be the way the author wrote him to make the rest of the story make sense.

I think the thing that I liked best about this book is that there is no bashing of the military for the job they did in Vietnam. They were there on the orders of a bunch of people who didn't let them do their jobs. They were analyzed over and over for every little thing that happened. They were judged by standards that no civilian could understand. The media didn't help by publishing and showing the worst of the stories on TV and movie screens.
The Cool Woman is instead about the guys who willingly sacrificed everything to fight in a war that we didn't understand and then blamed them for. The best part about this book, except for a few references to the politicians who are trying to run the war, it is just not part of the story.
Bill Mann has always dreamed of being a pilot in the Air Force. He could hardly wait to follow in his father's footsteps. He comes with loads of baggage, but is still able to accomplish all his dreams, included meeting and marrying the girl of his dreams. When Bill is fighting in Vietnam his life begins to unravel. He isn't sure it is worth it any more and he blames himself.
Like I said before, this is the story of the guys that were fighting a losing war. They were doing what they were called to do and doing it with honor. That is what I so appreciated about this book, it made these guys human with human emotions. They loved their family, country and fellow pilots. They didn't always see eye to eye with each, but when push came to shove they would give their lives for each other.
It is a war time book, but it is so well worth the read. Enjoy.
Happy Reading

Monday, August 23, 2010

Stephen Lawhead

Dear Readers,
I love Stephen Lawhead's books. They are not everyone's cup of tea, but I hope he never stops writing. He is a great mixture of historical and fantasy. It seems like he is always wanting to change history. He does write the more straight forward historical novels like the King Raven series. It was about Robin Hood and the history behind his legend. With his new release, The Skin Map, he is going back to the mixture. There is time travel mixed in with space/dimension travel. I am not sure I can explain it all here, but Stephen does a good job of making it make sense in the book.
One day while taking a short cut through an alley in modern London, Kit experiences a very intense, but short storm. When he staggers out of the storm he meets a stranger that introduces himself as Kit's long lost great grandfather. Now Kit's great grandfather ran out on his wife and small son many years before, never to be heard from again. So if this guy is telling the truth he would have to be very old by now. Why doesn't he look it?
Cosimo tells Kit a crazy story about time travel but using other dimensions in time than just the one we are familiar with. Kit thinks the old man is crazy and that some how he has managed to lure poor Kit on to a movie set to enforce his story.
So starts this strange and interesting story. I have to admit for a book #1 in a Stephen Lawhead series it moves right along. I am more used to the series where Stephen takes his time doing character development in book one so this one took me a bit by surprise. I know that I am looking forward to book number 2 and I am not even sure when it will be released.
Happy Reading

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Nancy Mehl

Dear Readers,
There is a genre in the fiction dept. called cozy mystery. I really enjoy reading them as they usually make me laugh and I can relax and enjoy a light read. Missing Mabel by Nancy Mehl fits that category perfectly. It is light yet fun and almost silly, but in a good way. I guess if your main character is a hair dresser for the local funeral homes you will have to believe that it will have its less than serious moments.
Hilde Higgins' mom had such high hopes for her. Hilde dropped out of college to go to Beauty school. After landing a job at one of the premier salons in town, she is sure this is not what she wants to do but isn't sure what else to do. That all changes when she is asked to do a lady's hair at a local funeral home, suddenly she has found her niche in life.
That is why, when Hilde is accused of stealing a diamond ring belonging to one of her "clients," she worries that she may lose her business also. Hilde is also convinced that the ring that is stolen is only taken to cover up a real crime. She believes that the person whose hair she just took care of is not the person the funeral home says it is. Why would they want to switch bodies? How will Hilde be able to prove her innocence? And what is it with the creepy guy next door?
This was a perfect read for those last few hot nights we had here in Michigan. It was nice to be able to sit and enjoy a fun little mystery and sip a glass of iced tea. Yes sweet of course. :-) If you liked Lorena McCourtney's series the Ivy Malone series you will probably like this book. Yes the main character isn't a little old lady, but it has the same quirky feel to it and I enjoyed it as much.
Happy Reading

Friday, August 13, 2010

Kathi Macias and Susan Wales

Dear Readers,

This has been a harder review to write, not because I didn't like the book, but because there are so many things I want to mention that I can either talk about everything, or talk about only some things and confuse you a bit. So I am going to do my best to let you know what this book is about without giving too much of the plot away.

Valeria's Cross by Kathi Macias and Susan Wales is set in Roman times about 280ish years after Christ's death and resurrection.
Valeria is an actual historical figure. She is the daughter of Emperor Diocletian and Empress Prisca. There is no actual proof that she or her mother became Christians, but details like that never stop good fiction writers. If she was a Christian there was probably no proof of her beliefs or lack thereof as during that time in history she would not have made a big deal out of it.
It was a time of great growth for the new church, but it was as we all know a time of great persecution. Christians were usually tolerated by Romans at that time, but if anything went wrong they were the first blamed. They were easy scape goats as they refused to bow down to the Roman gods and people would point out that was what was angering the gods and causing the problems.
In the book Foxe: Voices of the Martyrs on page 63-64 there is a Roman legion mentioned as a group that was slaughtered by the emperor because they refused to take an oath of loyalty to him. The story goes that first 660 of them were killed to get the rest to bow and worship him and then 600 more and yet they refused to denounce God. It is an amazing story and is woven into this story also. It all makes for an interesting read. It is a time in history that I find very few Christian fiction books written about. I guess that surprises me as it is a time that is interesting and really sets the stage for the growth and spread of the church.
The plot of the book is Valeria falls in love with the leader of the Theban Legion. When he is martyred she is forced into marriage to the man who instigated his and his troops' murders. Will she be able to live with him? Will she ever forgive him? Will she ever be able to love him? With God's help all things are possible. Maybe she is called to be the Esther of her time. Will she be able to stand up for what is right?
Happy Reading

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Francine Rivers

Dear Readers,Usually I keep you up to date on what I am reading by updating my "what's Chris reading..." column.  Well I just wanted to let you know that I am reading Francine Rivers second book in the Marta's Legecy series.  Her Daughter's Dream is so very very good.  I can safely say that if you liked book one Her Mother's Hope then you are sooo going to love this one. 

You are welcome to contact me at the store and I can put your name and phone number on one and we will call you when it releases in Sept.  I don't want to give to much away yet, but it is not just the Marta/Hildamare story.  It goes on the next generation also.  It is a story of Marta's family  but also a wonderful look at American history.

Happy Reading

Jerry Jenkins

Dear Readers,
First you need to know this book is a re-release of a book Jerry Jenkins wrote back in the 70's. It was originally called The Operative. Second, The Last Operative is not Jerry's best book. I, personally, had a terrible time connecting with the main character, Jordan.

Jordan Kirkwood was an experiment of NSA (National Security Agency). He was recruited specifically to spy on the the other spy organizations of the USA. He was a very specifically and patiently trained by Chuck Wallington. He gave up much for his career and his family is on the top of that list. He is finally getting to the point where he and his wife can finally take a vacation together.
When Rosemary is killed stepping off a plane to meet him, Jordan decides he has had enough and is ready to resign, but NSA tells him that the shooting in the airport was really a hit on him. They won't let him go until they know who called the hit and why. Jordon is not happy, but for his family's sake he stays and takes part in the assignment. It starts to look like someone inside is actually to blame for the attempt on his life. Will he be able to figure out who it is before they finally catch up with Jordan?
I do not like to write negative reviews. I figure authors get enough of that, if I don't like a book I just don't write a review. In this case, Tyndale sent me this book for free and asked me to post a review for it. They may not like it, but this is what I feel about this book. I am also going to say, I dd not read this when it first came out in the 80's as I wasn't reading Christian fiction at that time.
This book is a billed as a spy novel, but I would like to think there would be a bit more action and a lot less talking. There is way too much conversation between characters and the action is secondary. Don't tell me what happens, "show me." Several of the key incidents happen 'off page' and then are discussed by the characters. I would rather be part of the action than hear about it. That is why I read spy novels. I also have to admit several of the incidents that happen to Jordan I could see coming and yet he couldn't. Which surprised me as he is supposed to be one of the best in the business.
To be honest with you, as I was reading this I kept thinking, I hope that the real NSA, CIA, and FBI agents are more competent than Jordan and his fellow agents. Because if they aren't then our country is in big trouble. I was fairly disappointed in this book as Jerry is a much better writer than this. I guess I thought with a complete rewrite he would have improved this book to the level of some of his more recent books like Hometown Legend or Though None go With Me. Both of which are out of print, but well worth trying to get your hands on. I would pass on this one.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Patricia Hickman

Dear Readers,
Sometimes books hit close to home and sometimes they just touch a cord in your heart. The main character, Saphora, in The Pirate Queen by Patricia Hickman, touches that cord with me. So many of us know some one caught in an unhappy marriage. We either have personally experienced these feelings or have waked this path with someone.
Saphora is packed and ready to run away from home. Her marriage is a sham, Bender, her husband, has cheated for years. Her children are grown and on their own. Now is the time to go. Her plans are all thrown into a mess when Bender walks in the door early and announces to her that he has brain cancer. He wants to move to the beach house where she was going to hide out.
Saphora needs to figure out how she is going to survive all that is going on. Bender is starting to act so unlike himself. Her children and grandchildren are arriving to visit and make sure their father is ok. She has no idea what any of this means and she knows that she doesn't believe Bender when he says he has always loved her. The one question she has always wanted to ask him, "Why wasn't I enough?" seems to get stuck in her throat.
This is one of those wonderful southern genre books. It has a story that doesn't run to the end, it just gets there in its own pace. It keeps you involved the whole way and when you are done, you are sad it is done, but thankful for the chance to spend time with the families invovled. I know it is late in the season, but this would be a great summer read.
Happy Reading

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Sharon Garlough Brown

Dear Readers,
It is so much fun watching a new author get their book published. Sharon Garlough Brown is a regular shopper here and a local pastor, which makes the release of Sensible Shoes so much more exciting. With great pleasure and excitement we hosted her launch party on August 4th here at Baker Book House. We had a great turn out - 75 plus people- and got to a chance to hear Sharon's heart for her book.
This book was born out of Sharon's desire to take us all on a Sacred Journey. She belongs to a group that meets on Monday and they call themselves the Sensible shoes club (Now you understand the name). In the group they have watched God, through the Holy Spirit, heal and transform lives. Because of that experience Sharon wanted to teach others how to take a spiritual journey. She just didn't feel called to write a teaching book, she felt called to write a fiction book that would help readers learn how to go on a journey themselves.
In this wonderful story we meet 4 interesting women. Each comes with her own baggage that God has been trying to help her get rid of for years, but it takes a special invitation for them each to understand what he has been saying.
Meg - A widow who has never been allowed to grieve the loss of her husband. With her daughter moving to England and her domineer mother passing away, Meg is at loose ends and not sure if her life has meaning. Why would someone who has never been farther than 200 miles from her home need to go on a journey?
Hannah - Her congregation loves her. She is always busy always helping someone and always ... well ... tired. But if she is doing God's work, that doesn't matter. Keep working, or that is what she thinks until her congregation gives her a much unwanted sabbatical. What is she suppose to do for 9 months?
Mara - She has never been good enough. Slightly over weight and not from a good family, she was never wanted by her classmates. She was never really loved by the men she slept with when she was a teen and young woman and she is not really loved by her husband who just doesn't understand why she can't seem to move on. Why would God love her if she has never done anything right in her life?
Clarissa - She is driven to be the best, the brightest, the smartest and always to perfection. She takes no prisoners when she is trying to get something accomplished. No matter if someone gets in the way, whether husband, friends or family members. She has a plan and she is going to stick with it. The only reason she even goes to the first class is she needs it for a requirement in college. What can she be taught about anything, she knows it all already.
These are the woman of the Sensible shoes club. They could be any one of us. They are very human and very fallible. Which is probably what I did like about this book.
There is one very nice thing about this book, you can support the local economy and buy local when you read this book. :-)
Happy Reading

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Randy Singer

Dear Readers,
What if they put up a mosque in your sleepy little town? What if there was an honor killing in your sleepy little town? What if the evidence was pointing towards one man being the guilty party because he ordered the killing? What would you do? What if you were the lawyer that was asked to defend him? Would you do it? What if there was a hint that his mosque had connections to Hezbollah? Does he deserve a fair trial?
These are some of the questions that Randy Singer makes you think about in his newest lawyer novel, Fatal Convictions. His main character Alexander Madison finds himself in the middle of a trial that he wasn't really prepared to take on. Alex is a personal injury lawyer, not a criminal lawyer. However, when his client, Kahlid, is accused of calling for the killing of the wife of a member of his congregation, he needs a lawyer and he already trusts Alex. She had turned her back on her Muslim faith and become a Christian. Alex isn't sure he wants the negative publicity his firm will receive.
I like reading Randy's books because they are never easy-answer books. There is a lot of gray area in our world and lives and Randy uses those gray areas to write novels. He asked questions that some of us don't want to answer. The book before this one, Justice Game, made us look at gun control and who is responsible for the selling and even the use of guns. There are no easy answers to that question as there are no easy answers to these questions asked in this book.
Honor killings are a hot topic and one that most people will tell you that they are against. But some Muslims believe that they are okay if the honor of the family is at stake. That to me is a 'wow' thought as I can't imagine killing any one in my family because they disgraced us. I guess if I thought that way I would have to be the first one in line as I have done some embarrassing things myself. The questions we all should ask ourselves is whether we are willing to allow justice to work, and if we will wait for the courts to decide, and if we will hold the lawyers accountable for trying to do their jobs.
Happy Reading

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

MaryBeth Whalen

Dear Readers
I will admit that I wasn't really sure if I wanted to read this book or not. It didn't really interest me and it seemed to have the same theme as a recent movie did. But it keep bugging me from the pile by my bed and I finally picked it up. I did enjoy it in spite of myself. :-)
MaryBeth Whalen got the idea for The Mailbox from an actual mailbox that is on a deserted part of the North Carolina coast. You can go there any time and find papers, pens and even notebooks to leave your letters or thoughts in the mailbox. Then, the Kindred Spirit comes and takes them out of the box and reads them. No one really knows who the Kindred Spirit is, but the box never fills to overflowing. People leave all kinds of letters and stories. Ones of confession and ones that talk of problems or the happiest vacation they just finished. It is a local land mark and one featured on postcards for that area.
Lindsey and Campbell meet one summer vacation. There is an instant attraction for them both. When Lindsey returns home to a mother who doesn't want her home, they vow that they will write and love each other forever. Their relationship continues to grow in the next summers as they get together again. It looks like a love that will last a lifetime. That is until Campbell makes a mistake and Lindsey must pay the price.
When life brings them back together at a low point for each of them, the relationship blooms again. Is this what they really want again? Can Lindsey truly forgive Campbell and move on? What about their families, will they understand what is happening to each of them?
This was an interesting little read. It only took me a couple of days to read it, but it was worth it. There is no great mystery to it and yet I did find myself wondering what was going to happen next. I have been to the outer banks of North Carolina and I found myself wanting to go back to visit. When I visited it was in the fall and I would love to visit in the summer and to maybe visit the Mailbox.
Happy Reading