Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Martha Ockley

Dear Readers,
There are times when I am handed a book by a company and asked to read it, I am just sure that I won't like it.  The Reluctant Detective by Martha Ockley was one of those that I was sure I wasn't going to like.  Well thankfully I was wrong.  I enjoyed it completely.
The book itself is not only set in England, the author lives there and I am sure that was part of the appeal for me.  The culture comes through strongly which does make for a lovely read.
Faith has followed her faith and became a priest in the Church of England.  She was a policewoman before that and when a case lands almost literally in her lap, she is forced to confront the ghost of her past.  Her former partner and boyfriend is the detective that is in charge of the case.  Which makes Faith question whether or not she made the right choice.
Faith is going to check out a parish whose priest is thinking of retiring.  While she is there the priest is murderd by poison right in front of everyone while preparing the Lord's Supper.  When rumors start to fly as to who it could be and who was last seen where, Faith knows she is going to be more involved with the parish than she planned on. 
The mystery itself is interesting enough that it kept me guessing and then second guessing the choice I made for the guilty party.  I was right in the end, but it took me a bit to get there.  (In my defense Martha doesn't release all the clues right away.)
The book itself sets up for a series very well.  I don't know if it is going to be or not, but it seems to be headed that way.  I really started to enjoy the fun and quirky town people, and even Faith became someone I was beginning to enjoy getting to know.  I will be interested to see if there will be a book #2.
Happy Reading

Monday, March 28, 2011

New Releases March 21-26

Dear Readers,

With nice weather coming in going in this part of the country, I get more and more ready to be outside as much as possible.  I have a couple really nice corners on my porch so I can quite often sit in the sun and out of the wind.  Of course wrapping a large blanket around me does help, but each new books makes me want to go and enjoy the sun.

Happy Reading

Delivered with Love - Sherry Kyle
Leaving - Karen Kingsbury - #1 in Bailey Flanigan Series
An Ocean Away - Lisa Harris
Sarah's Gift - Marta Perry - #4 Pleasant Valley
Griselda Takes Flight - Joyce Magnin
Diagnosis Death - Richard L. Mabry

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Dan Walsh

Dear Readers,
Deepest Waters by Dan Walsh is based on a real shipwreck.  There really was a paddle-wheel steamship that sank in 1857 off the East coast.  All the woman and children were rescued but most of the men were lost.  There are several other parts of the story that Dan included in his work of fiction, but I don't want to include here as it is much more interesting to find them out as you are reading. 
Deepest Waters, The: A Novel, , bpg9780800719807John and Laura decide to take their honeymoon by traveling back to John's home in New York from California by boat.  He wanted to try to reconcile with his family and to introduce them to his new wife.  He just leaves that little part out when he tell Laura he wants her to meet them.  This isn't a problem when he was going to be there to introduce them to each other, but when their ship runs afoul and they are separated, then it becomes a problem.
Laura must now try to reach John's family and they are not expecting John, let alone a wife they didn't know about.  John tells her this in a note he gives her when they know that their ship is going down.  Will John's family accept her?  Will they believe that she is John's wife?  Laura must continue on her journey as she has nowhere else to go.
Over all this was an interesting story because it is based on a true story and I encourage you to read the author notes, but after reading the book as several of the notes should have a spoiler alert on them.  I also found the outreach from the cities and town where the rescued survivors arrive amazing.... okay I hear you, I won't say any more as you can enjoy that for yourself.
Happy Reading 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

JIll Eileen Smith

Dear Readers,
I have been looking forward to reading Jill Eileen Smith's Bathsheba since I found out Jill was writing about her.  I have to say that I actually like book 1, Michal, better.  I had a terrible time warming up to Bathsheba's character.  I am not sure what I wanted but I feel like she is a bit of a milktoast kind of person. 
 Bathsheba: A Novel, , bpg9780800733223
She seems to not be able to make up her mind about anything.  She is excited to be invited with her family to the palace and then spends the entire time wishing she hadn't come.  She says she loves Uriah but finds herself looking for and trying to meet the King.
She is held captive by the rules of ancient Isreal and I do understand that.  She can't just go out on her own, she can't just say things or do things that modern times allow me to do.  But she just doesn't seem to have an opinion about anything at all.  Which is a personality I struggle with no matter where and how I meet it.
That said, it is an interesting look at one of the most familiar stories in the Bible.  You can ask just about anyone and they know who Bathsheba is and why she is famous or infamous.   But she is also not presented in the Bible as a person of great importance, she is just a bit character in David's most famous fall.  She isn't given any choice in her part.  She has no words to say and I think that is one of the reasons why she is a woman many people are intrigued with, especially fiction authors.
Bathsheba is married, but has yet to produce a child.  She struggles with her barrenness and blames it on her husband's job.  Uriah is a soldier in David's army and is away at war for months at a time.  He is constantly called to the palace to attend meetings and spends nights away at the barracks.  Bathsheba is frustrated with it all and doesn't understand why he always puts his job before her.  Does that sound familiar to anyone? I have heard that complaint from woman in modern times quite a few times.
David is restless and bored with his new wife.  He has suffered great loss, and he just doesn't feel like going to war with his men, so he stays home.  Which turns out to be a recipe for disaster.  When he spots Bathsheba he knows he wants to make her his wife, the only thing standing in the way is that she is married.  He decides that won't stop him and calls her to the palace anyways.
We all know the end of that story, but Jill's book doesn't end there.  We know that David does make her his wife, but is she happy?  Did she go as a willing partner in crime or does she grieve the loss of her husband?  These are all questions that I asked about this story.  I won't tell you whether or not I got them answered as I am afraid it will give away the story. 
Jill does mention at the end of the book that she hopes that if nothing else this book will remind us that God loves us and is ready to forgive us no matter our sin, when we ask. 
Happy Reading

Monday, March 21, 2011

New Releases March 14-19

Dear Readers,

This list includes one of my favorite authors.  She was actually a favorite before she started writing fiction.  Liz Curtis Higgs is someone if you haven't read her books, ficton or non-fiction, I strongly recommend them.  If you get a chance to hear her speak, go.  You will love ever minute.

Happy Reading

Mine is the Night - Liz Curtis Higgs
Faith's Reward - Tammy Barley
A Penny for Your Thoughts - Mindy Starns Clark - Releease of a wonderful series.
Don't take any Wooden Nickels - Mindy Starns  Clark - Releease of a wonderful series.
The Alarmists - Don Hoesel
Wolves Among Us - Ginger Garrett

Friday, March 18, 2011

Mindy Starns Clark

Dear Readers,
Those of you that have followed my reviews for years know this series well.  The Million Dollar Mysteries is where I first fell in love with Mindy Starns Clark.  The series went out of print a few years ago, much to my sorrow. 

A Penny for Your Thoughts
old cover

I am happy to report that they are coming back with wonderful new covers.  I can honestly say if you like Mindy's other books, you will like these also.  The unique thing with this series is, not only does each book have its own mystery, they are all answers to a mystery that runs through the whole series.
Callie is an investigator for an non-profit group that gives out grants to people and organizations that are deserving of them.  Her job is to go and check out the organizations to see if they are on the up and up or if there is a problem. 
Of course this is what leads to her adventures.  Most of the time things are what they seem, but sometimes they aren't and that is usually where the trouble begins. 

Don't Take Any Wooden Nickels
old cover
I remember it took me a little bit to warm up to Callie and I believe that Mindy wrote her that way on purpose, then you can listen to her and get to understand who she really is.  I know by the end I felt like she was an old friend and I hated to see the series end. 
The 5 book series startes with A Penny for Your Thoughs, #2 is Don't take any Wooden Nickels, #3 is A Dime a Dozen, #4 is A Quarter for a Kiss and #5 is The Buck stops here.  They are not all out yet, but over the next few months they should all be on the shelf again. 
Happy Reading

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Liz Curtis Higgs

Dear Readers,
Over the weekend I finished Mine is the Night by Liz Curtis Higgs.  It is the sequel to Here Burns my Candle.   I so enjoy Liz's books and her writing style is so perfect for immersing yourself into.  I had a busy weekend, but I still was able to find the time to finish the book. 
This book picks up right where the other one leaves off.  Bonnie Prince Charles has been defeated and there is an all out hunt for the Jacobites.  As Elizabeth and Marjory flee for their lives, they are hoping to find a welcome in Selkirk, as it might be their only option for a place to live.
With this being based loosely on the Book of Ruth, you can kind of guess what is going to happen, but to be honest with you it doesn't take away from the story at all.  For those that read the "Thorn" series you know Liz's style of intertwining Bible stories with a lovely fiction story.  She doesn't change the Bible story or even present her books as Biblical fiction, but using a story to show that stories in the BIble are relevant to today and also able to happen at any time of history.
If you haven't read book #1 please do and then you can move on to Mine is the Night.  It is a great way to spend the week in the midst of a wonderful story.
Happy Reading

Monday, March 14, 2011

New Releases March 7 - 12

Dear Readers,

We here at the store are all such book nuts it is funny to watch.  When a cart of new product comes out you would think it was Christmas morning.  We all flock around to see what is new and exciting.  Each one of us gets excited about different books, but our excitement isn't much different if it is a new fiction book or childrens book or even a theology book.  I hope there is books on this list that gets you excited.

Happy Reading

Tomorrow's Garden - Amanda Cabot - #3 in the Texas Dream Series
The Dawn of a Dream - Ann Shorey - #3 At Home in Beldon Grove series
The Deepest Waters - Dan Walsh.
A Cowboy's Touch - Denise Hunter
Lilly's Wedding Quilt - Kelly Long
Abigail's New Hope - Mary Ellis
Homemade Haunting - Rob Stennett
The Dashwood Sisters tell all - Beth Pattillo - #3 of A modern day Novel of Jane Austen

Friday, March 11, 2011

Ann H.Gabhart

Dear Readers,
Angel Sister by Ann Gabhart lived up to my expectations.  It is a wonderful story set during the Depression about a 14 year old girl who is trying to keep her family together. Ann has such a rich and pleasent writing style that it is just a great reading experience.  I know that sounds a bit over the top, but I so enjoy reading her.  I looked forward to reading this book from the minute I heard about it.  I first fell in love with her writing when I read her 3 book series set in the 60's.  I hate to say it is out of print now, but you can still pick up the series in our used book department.
Angel Sister: A Novel, , bpg9780800733810Kate's father is slipping away from his family as he becomes more and more dependent on alcohol.  He is fighting nightmares of World War I and the feeling of never measuring up to his family.  Kate herself is trying to do everything in her power, including prayer, to make her father want to come home at the end of the day instead of going out drinking. 
When Kate finds a little girl abandoned on the church steps, she thinks maybe things are turning around.  Lorena believes that Kate is the angel that God sent to take care of her until her mother comes back for her.  Kate knows better, but decides that if God wanted her to take care of Lorena then she will.  There are forces in town that don't think she should though, mostly both of her grandfathers.  How does a 14 year old fight against the two guys who run their little town?  With a lot of grit and gumption.
I found myself rooting for Kate the whole way through out this book.  She is a very likable character and has more spunk than most of us have our entire life.  She sees everything in black and white and doesn't completely understand the adult world yet, but she is learning fast as things in her family and town force her to grow up fast.  She is just one of the kids you wish you had been when you were younger. 
The story itself is very satisfying when you get to the end of it.  Because of being on vacation and my foot in a big boot I read this book in one day.  Which of course is probably the best way to read it, but I also know that it isn't always realistic.  You can take longer to read it, but read it you should, with a wonderful cup of coffee.
Happy Reading

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Mike Duran

Dear Readers.
I am not a big fan of horror books.  Stephen King has never been a favorite even though he is a very good writer.  To me it just puts bad images in my head and then I don't sleep well.  I like horror movies even less, in fact the few I did watch as a teenager still have certain scences that are completely stuck in my head.
So The Resurrection by Mike Duran was not high on my list of books to read.  Frank Peretti's books were hard enough for me to read, so I just wasn't sure.  I am glad I did read it though.  It isn't nearly as scary as Frank's books, but still an interesting read.
Ruby accidentally raises a boy from the dead.  She didn't mean to, but she did and now the world knows and someone is responsible.  What will she do? 
Ian is ready to give up the ministry.  He is not excited about being a pastor and just doesn't care anymore.  He is sick of the people and politics in the church and he isn't even sure if he believes in God anymore.  That is until Ruby does her little trick.  Then he finds himself in the middle of a spiritual battle for his little town and all the citizens in it. 
There were two parts of this book that interested me.  The first being the generational sin parts of the story.  There were people years before that were willing to do anything to make their town safe.  They were so willing to do just about anything even if it meant that they sell their souls and the soul of their town to the Devil, so to speak. 
The second was, where do I just let things be because that is the way they are.  Where am I not confronting things because it is easier to just leave things alone and not fight against something I see as evil or wrong.  Now I am not saying that we must join every protest or campaign, but there are times we must take that stand.
Like I said before this is not an edge of your seat read, but it does have moments of a bit of a "ghost story" in spots.  It does have its creepy moments but nothing that kept me awake at night.  It was a good read that was a bit different than what I had been reading.
Happy Reading

Monday, March 7, 2011

New releases Feb. 28 - March 5

Dear Readers,

It is 40 degrees out here today.  Spring is slowly making it's way into West Michigan.  I am very ready to be outside enjoying sunshine and reading on my front porch.   This week we have several titles that will be great spring break/summer reads.

Happy Reading

Plain Proposal - Beth Wiseman - #5 in the Daughters of Promise Series
The Inn at Angel Island - Thomas Kinkaid & Katherine Spencer - #1in their new series
Rugged and Relentless - Kelly Eileen Hake
The Perfect Match - Jancie Hanna
Surrneder the Night - MaryLu Tyndall
Keeping the Faith - Garce Chapel Inn
Never Give Up - Grace Chapel Inn
Antipas: Martyr - Sharon Dow
Caregiver - Shelly Gray - #1 of Families of Honor

Saturday, March 5, 2011

James Rubart

Dear Readers,
Most of you know that I was a judge for the Inspy awards for Speculative fiction.  One of the authors up for the award was James Rubart with his book Rooms.  You will also notice I didn't do a review for that book.  The concept of the book was good, I just felt like it needed a bit of work to make it a better book
Book of Days is James' second book and I think he is getting better at his craft. The idea behind the novel is that the Book of Days mentioned in the Bible is an actual book that exists on earth. You could use it to know the future, or to control things that are happening and will happen to you or your family, friends and/or enemies. 
When Cameron loses his wife to a tragic accident he is sure he will never forget her, but his memory isn't what it use to be and it seems to be getting worse and worse. He remembers a book that both his father and wife talked about just before they passed. They both said that the book held all his memories and then he would never forget. Cameron decides to go on a hunt for the book to see if it is real and if so he wants to use it to not forget the love of his life. 
Cameron is not the only one looking for this book. Others want to find it to use it for the wrong reasons. Others are wanting to protect the book. They know the problems that would arise if the book fell into the wrong hands. It is a race to see if Cameron can decipher the clues before he is stopped by the book's guardians and keep others from finding it before he does.
Like I said before, this book does need a bit of work, but over all it is an interesting read. It talks a lot about how God does know all of our days and how they are numbered by him, but also remembered and watched by him. We cannot escape from him, no matter how hard we try. 
This is also a book about grief and loss. About keeping the memories and love alive, but being able to move on. Sometimes we are so busy trying not to lose a loved one that has passed on that we forget to live our lives without them. 
Happy Reading

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Neta Jackson

Dear Readers, 
Here is a review I almost didn't write and it had nothing to do with whether I liked the book or not.  In fact I loved the book Who is my Shelter by Neta Jackson.  This is where the problem lies.  If you have read my blog at all you know I love Neta's book and have since I started reading the Yada Yada Prayer Group books.  So do I write you another review singing the praises of the book, or not. 
There is the other problem  Those of you that know me and talk to me know that I don't usually write negative reviews and if you know I read a book and don't see a review then I probably didn't like it.  I most certainly didn't want you to think that about this book.
So instead I am just going to say I really really liked this book and if you have read her other books and liked them you will like this one.  All our favorite characters are back and once again living lives that can be very similiar to our own and learning lessons we all need to learn. 
Take time waiting for spring to arrive and enjoy a visit with some dear friends. 
Happy Reading