Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

Dear Readers,

I want to wish you a Happy New Year.  May you be blessed is ways you never expected. 

Happy Reading

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Richard Paul Evans

Dear Readers,
Most of you will be very familiar with Richard Paul Evans's name from a little book called the Christmas Box.  It was turned into a movie and he sold lots of them.  That one was followed by several others, with some turned into movies and some not.  They all ran along the same lines - very sentimental and tugging at the heart strings.
The Walk in some ways is the same as his others and yet is a bit different.  It is the start of a series of books for Richard.  The story line follows Alan who in a very short 6 weeks loses everything.  He decides in a short moment that he will walk from his home in Seattle Washington to Key West.  Which is as far as he can go and still be in the U.S.
In The Walk you go with Alan through all of the state of Washington.  When Alan sets out he doesn't really know what to expect, he just knows he has to get away.  He is angry at God, he is angry at his wife, he is just angry. 
The Walk: A Novel, , n9781439187319What I found the most interesting in the book was the different people that Alan meets along the way.  There are good people and not so good people.  There are ones who help him on his journey and there are othes that don't.  It is a bit like life that way.  We are either a help to other people or not.
Now I haven't suffered loss in as big of proportions as Alan, but I can relate to his wanting to just walk away from it all.  I think most of us have thought that at one time or another.  This story does not encourage that you run away from your problems, in fact it makes a good case that your problems actually just follow you. 
I am looking forward to his next book in the series, Miles to Go, due out April 5, 2011.
Happy Reading

Monday, December 27, 2010

New Releases Dec, 20-24

Possession, , n9781414324340The Search - Suznna Woods Fisher - #3 in the Lancaster County Secrets
Michigan Brides - Amber Stockton - 3 stories set in Michigan
Possession - Rene Gutteridge
A Place of Peace -Amy Clipston - #3 in the Kauffman Amish Bakery Series
Softly & Tenderly - Sare Evans/Rachel Hauck
Love on Assignment - Cara Lynn James

A Place of Peace (Kauffman Amish Bakery Series #3), , n9780310319955

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Dear Readers,

I want to take time on this post to wish you a Merry Christmas.  I pray that each of you can take time during this busy season to remember and reflect on that one perfect gift given so many years ago. 

Take time with your friends and family and enjoy them.  Take time to rest and relax and of course read a good book

Merry Christmas and
Happy Reading

Monday, December 20, 2010

New Releases for Dec. 13-18

Dear Readers,

I have gotten some new books in and am very excited to pass their titles on to you just in time for that last minute Christmas presents.

Fatal Judgement - Irene Hannon
Fatal Judgment, Irene Hannon, 978-0-8007-3456-5The Damascus Way - Bunn/Oke
Courting Miss Amsel - Kim Vogel Sawyer
Paradise Valley - Dale Cramer
Bake Until Golden - Shepherd/Everson
Stars Collide - Janice Thompson
The Girl in the Gatehouse - Julie Klassen
Serendipity - Cathy Marie Hake

Serendipity, Cathy Marie Hake, 978-0-7642-0321-3

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Donita K. Paul

Dear Readers,
I hate to sound all humbuggy but I am not a big fan of Christmas books.  I find them overly sappy and way too short for my taste.  I want a book that I can sink my teeth into.  One where I fall in love with the characters and learn to dislike the bad guys.  Christmas books are usually not long enough for me to do that.

With that said I was asked to read and review a Christmas book for the radio spot I am doing now. I chose Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball by Donita K. Paul and I am glad I did.  There isn't any real reason I chose it other than she hadn't written a Christmas novella before and I was interested in seeing what she would do with it as her normal genre is fantasy/speculative fiction with dragons. Of course dragons in a Christmas story might be interesting.
Cora Crowder is making it through life.  She is content in her job, her apartment and her arrangment with her family.  She lives several states away from them and she is good with that. 
Simon Derrick is making it through life.  He is content with his job, his home and his arrangement with his family.  They all live together and take care of each other and he is good with that.
The mischievous matchmakers in charge of the annual Christmas Ball are not so happy with Simon's and Cora's lives.  They are not happy that each of them is settling for a life with little or no true love. 
When Cora and Simon meet at the unusual bookstore on a very unusual street, they are both given a ticket to the ball.  They really have no reason for going until Sandy, Simon's younger sister, invites them both to go with her.  Things become more and more interesting as the time for the ball draws near. It seems more and more likely that Cora will not be going to the ball.  A family member shows up just in time to ruin Cora's plan of going.  Will she make it to the ball in time or will she find an excuse for not being there?
This was a fun, quirky, little story.  I enjoyed it and it reminded me that we are all works in progress and God is never content with were we are.  He accepts us the way we are, but wants us to draw closer to him.  This is a good read for the holidays as it is a story that can slow you down a bit during this busy season and help us remember what all the hustle and bustle is about.
Happy Reading &
Happy Holidays

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cynthia Ruchti

Dear Readers,
I had a review almost completely written about this book.  I didn't like it because it didn't seem to do the book justice.  Cynthia Ruchti writes an interesting story in They Almost Always Come Home.  It isn't your normal story of a husband that goes missing and the wife is moving heaven and earth to find him.  It isn't even a typical storyline of a husband who had a second life that his wife and family didn't know about. 
Releases May 1, 2010Libby is waiting for Greg to return home after his first solo trek into the wilderness.  He has gone many time with others, but he wanted to go by himself this time.  Libby isn't sure how she feels about his not being home on time.  She wonders if it is normal for a wife to start planning a funeral as soon as he doesn't come home.  She would never dream that he was having an affair, but maybe he didn't want to come home. 
To say that they are having problems with their marriage is a understatement.  They lost touch with each other years ago when tragedy struck their family.  They can't seem to find each other back and neither one seems to want to make the effort.  So when Greg is listed as missing Libby just isn't sure how she feels about it.
This was such a different look at this storyline.  So often this type of story is about a wife's grief and loss, but this time, what if a wife isn't grieving that he is gone?  What is she was going to leave him and just hadn't gotten around to it yet?  What if she was more upset that he beat her to the punch than she is about his going missing?  
This book isn't the regular story of a husband and wife deciding to work through their differences and (happily) refocusing on their marriage.  This is a couple who have taken a couple of huge blows to their relationship and have no idea how to find their way back.  They are tired of struggling and are just done with it all.  
It is a good reminder to us all that the biggest casualty in a stressful family situation is actually marriages.  People survive things, but marriages don't always.  We need to remember that so we are willing to walk alongside the couples and help them and their marriages.  
Happy Reading

Monday, December 13, 2010

I was a judge for Speculative Fiction

Dear Readers,

I thought you all might be interested in this list of winning books.  I was asked to help judge the list for Speculative fiction, which is sci-fi and fantasy.  I enjoyed the process and it is always interesting to learn what other readers are thinking. 

Happy Reading.

INSPY Winners Announced 
December 13, 2010—The INSPY Advisory Board announced today that the following books have been awarded the inaugural INSPYs in their categories. Recognizing the need for a new kind of book award, the INSPYs — — were created by bloggers to discover and highlight the very best in literature that grapples with expressions of the Christian faith. 
The INSPY Award winners are:
Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes, General & Literary Fiction (Tyndale House)
Evolving in Monkey Town by Rachel Held Evans, Creative Nonfiction (Zondervan)
She Walks in Beauty by Siri Mitchell, Historical Fiction (Bethany House)
The Knight by Steven James, Thriller/Suspense/Crime Fiction (Revell)
Green by Ted Dekker, Speculative Fiction (Thomas Nelson)
Plain Paradise by Beth Wiseman, Amish Fiction (Thomas Nelson)
Sons of Thunder by Susan May Warren, Romance/Romantic Suspense (Summerside)
Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr, Young Adult Fiction (Little, Brown) 
The 2010 INSPY Awards cover books published from July 2009 through June 2010. 
"We on the Advisory Board are really pleased with this year's winners," said Amy Riley, who spearheaded the INSPY's creation. "We're looking forward to building on this year's success in the future." The winner in each category was collectively chosen by a panel of blogger-judges, who were working from a short list of five books.  
The Advisory Board collectively expressed their appreciation for the volunteer judges. "We really want to thank our judges for all their time and hard work," Riley said. 
The judges in each category explained why they chose the winner they did: 
• "Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes focuses on issues we all must face, such as life, death, relationships, and the choices we make when faced with our mortality.… Holmes leaves her characters flawed and human, which makes them extremely relatable." 
• In Evolving in Monkey Town, "[Rachel Held] Evans' honesty in telling her faith journey impressed us along with how much her love of the Lord imbued the entire narrative. Interweaving her own tale with the views of people she meets, Evans juxtaposes all of the voices about God in her life."  
• In She Walks in Beauty by Siri Mitchell, "a steadfast faith is embedded into the plot seamlessly and not, instead, centered out as a forceful plot device. The novel's inspirational resonance will reach Christian and non-Christian readers alike."  
• "The literary skill employed by Steven James creates a story" — The Knight — "that steals the reader’s sleep while also stealing their breath. Creating an unforgettable set of characters who face an unimaginable and escalating series of terrifying crimes, James captures both the imagination and heart of the reader as he spins his tale."  
• "The brilliance of Green by Ted Dekker is the fact that it is both the beginning and the end of the series. He did something completely unexpected with the ending of his book, while tackling the Christian faith from a different angle." 
• Plain Paradise by Beth Wiseman "is perfect for people who have never read Amish fiction before. The story line was interesting and it was easy to get involved with the characters. This book dealt with subject matter not normally found in Amish fiction, which made it a refreshing change."  
• "Sons of Thunder by Susan May Warren is an epic story that spans a couple decades and takes place on several continents. Warren took us from the Greek Isles to Prohibition-era Chicago, and back again, with enough description to make us feel like we'd lived in both places; she filled the book with rich detail, multi-layered characters, and plot twists we never saw coming."  
• In Once Was Lost Sara Zarr "authentically portrays Sam, a pastor’s daughter, grappling with her faith in the midst of personal upheaval and uncertainty. Teens will relate to this excellent and very real book that goes beyond a surface-level exploration of what it means to follow God."  
The innovative INSPY Award is designed to help readers in their search for the preeminent faith-inspired literature of today. The INSPYs were created to select and showcase books with the highest literary standards that grapple with the Christian faith. To find these works, the INSPYs net is cast wide, accepting nominations of books aimed at the Christian bookstore market as well as those from the general market. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Candace Calvert

Dear Readers,
I will once and a while skip a book #1 in a series to see if you can read the books out of order.  WIth the Mercy Hospital series I ended up missing book 1, Critical Care, & 2, Disaster Status, and reading #3 Code Triage by Candace Calvert and enjoying it completely.  I had no trouble picking up the threads from the other books and following the storylines that had started in 1 & 2.  Candace does a good job of making sure the reader doesn't feel like something happen and they missed it. 
Leigh and Nick's marriage is on the rocks.  He committed adultery and she can't forgive him for it.  It was only a one night thing and he was grieving for his best friend who was killed.  Not a good excuse, but that is what happened. 
 Code Triage (Mercy Hospital), , n9781414325453
This is a fast paced book that reminded me a bit of the O'Malley series by Dee Henderson.  The storyline I talked about above isn't the only storyline, but I didn't want to talk too much about that as I didn't really want to give anything away. 
I recommend this book and the other two to anyone who liked Dee's books or Irene Hannon and Lynette Eason's books.  They are well written and researched, which makes them easy to read.  
Happy Reading

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas ideas for ... Her

Dear Readers,
Yes, I could hear you guy readers saying with my last post, "what about us guys buying for that wonderful woman in my life?"  Here is that list and bless you all for buying her that book she has been asking for.

While we were far Apart - Lynn Austin
Pearl in the Sand - Tessa Afshar
Always the Baker never the Bride - Sandra D. Bricker
Love, Charleston - Beth Webb Hart
The Pirate Queen - Patricia Hickman
Indivisible - Kristen Heitzman
Tender Vow - Sharlene MacLauren
Lady in Waiting - Susan Meissner
For Time and Eternity - Allison Pittman
Her Mother's Hope/ Her Daughter's Dream - Francine Rivers
Amy Inspired - Bethany Pierce

Thursday, December 2, 2010

T.L. Higley

Dear Readers,

I have been reading T.L. Higley's books for years now.  The first few I read I enjoyed, but yet thought they could be better.  I kept thinking that they read too much like a history book instead of a fiction book.   The characters left a bit to be desired. 

Then she started the Wonders of the Ancient World series and I was completely hooked.  I was waiting for the next one to come out and to my surprise Petra came first.  This is a stand alone that has nothing to do with the series even though it could fit in it very well.

Cassia flees her home in the hopes of giving her son and herself a future.  She just finds more than she was counting on.  When they arrive in Petra, Aretas' home town, she finds out more than she bargained for.  Aretas is the missing prince of Petra and Alexander will be the next in line for the throne.

Of course not everyone is glad to see Alexander and mother and son get caught up in a spiritual battle for not only their own lives, but the very souls of the city.  The tiny little church of Petra is asked to stand between the city and the dark forces that are trying to take control.  With persecution starting to get worse, will the people be willing to risk their lives and the lives of their families for the life of one little boy?

I have found the city of Petra an interesting place.  A few years ago there was a display of the city at Calvin College and my youngest daughter was able to go and view it for school.  She still talks about it and I wish that I had taken the time to go.  It is an interesting city in how it was carved out of the cliffs of stone. 

The book itself explains some of  it and how the people that lived there were very creative in how not only their houses and shops were placed in the walls of the canyon, but even their tombs were carved into the wall.   So not only did I enjoy the story, I enjoyed learning a bit more about Petra and going to T.L.'s website to learn even more.

Happy Reading