Monday, October 31, 2011

New Releases - Christmas 2011

Dear Readers,

Happy Halloween, 54 shopping days until Christmas.  YIKES!!!  I am not ready for that and I am not ready for November.  Less than 2 months to Christmas.  Let the rioting begin. 

Ok just kidding about the rioting, but the holidays are just around the corner and I haven't started yet.  Good grief.  Maybe I will just give everyone on my list a book and call it good.  Of course the books would all be used as I would have to read them first.

I wanted to let you all know about the new Christmas fiction for this year.  Many beloved authors are back with a Christmas book and there are some new authors wading into the waters of the Christmas novellas.  You have many titles to choose from to read and then share to pass on the Christmas spirit.

Happy Holidays er umm.  I mean Reading.

Blame it on the Misltetoe - Joyce Magnin
Christmas Memories at Grace Chapel Inn - Tales from Grace Chapel Inn series.
Log Cabin Christmas - Various authors
Naomi's Gift - Amy Clipston
A Lancaster County Christmas - Suzanne Woods Fisher
Remebering Christmas - Dan Walsh
The Christmas Shoppe - Melody Carlson
A Marriage Carol - Chris Fabry/Gary Chapman
The Christmas Singing - Cindy Woodsmall
The Snow Angel - Glenn Beck
Christmas in Sugarcreek - Shelly Shephard Gray
On Christmas Eve - Thomas Kincade/Katherine Spencer

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Alton Gansky & Grant Jeffrey

Dear Readers,
I am not a big fan of 'end times' books & I did go into this book knowing who Grant Jeffrey is and what he studies and writes about.  But since I love Alton Gansky I decided to read this book anyways. I am glad of that and for the most part I liked this book, but it is also what I expected.
What if Israel had plans to rebuild the temple?  What kind of response would that ignite around the world?  What if the only thing holding them back is that they don't have any of the temple artifacts? 
This is idea behind The Scroll by Grant Jeffrey and Alton Gansky. 
Dr. David Chambers has walked away from the career that made him who he was.  In fact it was a career that he loved until he lost his faith in God.  So who or what can draw him back into biblical archeology?
Only one person, David's mentor, Abram Ben-Judah and only if he was offering something very very big.   When David and Abram meet, David is sure he knows what he will say to Abram about his offer, that is until Abram explains that they believe that they have found the 'map' to the temple artifacts.  Is David interested in helping Israel recover their lost treasures? 
So begins this archeology book. It has some very good parts.  Parts that are fast paced, parts that taught me something about the history of the treasures of the temple, and parts that taught me about different prophecies in the Bible.  All which make for a good read.  The only problem I really had with the book was the last few chapters and the Epilogue.  They feel like they were just stuck on the end for no real reason.  They didn't fit with the rest of the story at all.  To me it feels like Grant wanted to make sure we knew about the prophecies in the Bible about the rebuilding of the temple. Which is actually too bad, because until that point this is a pretty good book.
Happy Reading.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lynn Austin

Dear Readers,
Lynn Austin is one of my go-to authors.  When I need just a good story I love picking her books up and reading them.  The only problem is I have read all her books now and have to wait for a new one to come out.  Wonderland Creek by Lynn just released and it was so nice to be able to read it. 
Set towards the end of the depression, it focuses on a need that was created by one of the programs Roosevelt started.  He started funding for libraries all over the country in communties that hadn't had them before.  The problem was, there wasn't enough funding for more books.  Alice hears about the need for books in Kentucky and decides to do a book drive and then bring the books herself.
 Wonderland Creek, Lynn Austin, 978-0-7642-0498-2
It all sounds like a great idea except Alice is just a bit obsessed with books and reading.  It is the only thing that is important to her.  More important than her family, more important than her boyfriend and more important than her friends (I was a bit shocked when she got a book out at a funeral and started reading).  So when she loses her job and boyfriend all in one day she decides to head to Kentucky univited to deliver the books she had collected.
This starts an adventure that Alice was not expecting. She is asked to do things she has never done before.  She learns to cook over a woodburning stove, she survives without electricty, she learns to ride a horse and she learns that reading is not the only thing that is important in the world. 
I really liked this book for several reasons.  It was a good read and I learned about a part of the country that I have visited several times and find just beautiful.  The book is also set in a time period that, in Kentucky, isn't written about much.  It was a difficult place to live anyways and the depression made it even harder.  To learn about the people of that area and what they did to survive, but also help each other, is amazing. 
Now when I read books like this I know God knew what he was doing setting me in this time in history.  I really like running water, indoor bathrooms and electricity.  Cars are great and being able to just get any book I want is awesome.  So there was nowhere in this book I said, "Boy do I wish I lived there/then."  But it was good to read about it.
Happy Reading

Monday, October 24, 2011

New Releases

Dear Readers,

We are experiencing some yucky fall weather here in Michigan.  It is raining, windy and cold.  Now it is not middle of the winter cold, but considering little over a week ago it was 80 out this is cold.  All I ever want to do in this type of weather is stay home under the covers or if I do venture out it would be no farther than the couch in the living room by the fireplace with a great big quilt and a hot cup of tea.  My boss here at the store never agrees with it other than to say she would be coming over also.  I think she misses the point. 

No matter what kind of weather you are having there are a couple of titles this week really interest me.  Brian Davis and his daughter Amanda were in our store this past Friday.  They both write the Spec fiction genre.

The Tehran Initiative - Joel Rosenberg
Love's Surprise - Karen Ball
The Scent of Water - Elizabeth Goudge
The Third Starlighter - Bryan Davis
Lost Melody - Lori Copeland/Virginia Smith
Lonestar Angel - Colleen Coble

Friday, October 21, 2011

Susan Meissner

Dear Readers,
What if the walls of your house could talk?  Would they remember only the tragedies that happen there?  Would they only remember the happy events?  Or would they tell of a wonderful tapestry of both that make up our histories. 
A Sound among the Trees by Susan Meissner takes on that storyline.  Holly Oak is a home that has lots of tragedy but also lots of happiness.  Adelaide, the matriarch of the family, is sure the house is holding a gruge on her family because it was not allowed to do what houses do best, which is to offer safety and comfort from the storms outside its walls, namely the Civil War. 


Marielle is a new bride brought to the house by her husband, who was made a widower by tragic events.  She knows it will be a difficult adjustment for her and the family, but she doesn't expect to meet with resistance from the house.
Now you need to know that this is not a creepy book.  It is not a horror story like Amityville horror, but it is the story of how the past can sometime not let you go so you become stuck in that rut. 
Holly Oak is set in Virginia near Fredricksburg.  Some of the storyline takes place during the Civil War times and tells the tale of a house and its family caught between two armies and trusted by neither.  It is also the story of love and forgivesness.  It is the story of people trying to do what they think is right and true as the time and circumstances dictate. 
Happy Reading

Bryan and Amanda Davis

Dear Readers,
I am not sure where the time has gone, but I lost a week in there somewhere.  Maybe it was the 80 degree weather we were having in Oct. or maybe it is that I don't really want it to be the end of Oct. already, but I had this post ready to go for next week, oops. 
Brian Davis has long been a favorite author at my house.  My son and youngest daughter have both read his books and enjoyed them.  Brian's Dragons in our Midst series was read as fast as the books Third Starlighter (Tales of Starlight), , n9780899578859hit the shelves and both kids were looking for the next one.
When he started writing books for older teens and adults my daughter was glad to continue reading him.  I personally have not read all of his books, but the ones I have read I have enjoyed.  They are interesting and are written with a certain intrigue to them that keeps the readers completely involved.  
I love supporting youth and teen authors who have a wonderful Christian message woven into a good story.  So when I heard that Bryan with his daughter Amanda was coming to visit here at the store I was very excited.  I encourage you to come see them and get to know them a bit.  I meet Bryan years ago at our Holland store and I was stuck at how passionate he was to writing good fiction for teens.  One of his daughters was along and I believe it was Amanda, but I am not 100% positive, and she was in charge of his website at the time.  It really was and obviously still is a family affair for him and his writing.
Precisely Terminated (The Cantral Chronicles), , n9780899578965
Come meet Bryan and Amanda here tonight at 7:00p.m. and listen to them both share about their writing experience. 
Happy Reading

Monday, October 17, 2011

New Releases Oct. 10-15

Dear Readers,

This weekend was a year end time for me.  Each year for the past 5 or so years I have lead workshops to a group of church librarians from around the midwest.  It is loads and loads of fun.  I am getting to know many of them that I only get to see once a year, but that is what makes is so fun. 

What makes it a year end for me is what I speak on.  I do reviews on all the books I have read in the past year.  Every year I start my list for next year the day I get back.  It helps me see what I am reading and if I am trending to one certian genre and then I can make sure I read from other genres.  It also helps me to know if I am reading or not reading enough new authors.  So really this has been a great thing for me.  It also makes me laugh because of the number of books I read a year is very very evident. 

This year I brought a list of 61 books.  I never get through them all, but it does make me realize how many books I read a year.  This does not include books that I have read but haven't released yet, ones I didn't like or I don't think would be good for most church libriaries.  It is stil amazing to me how many I do read and I just don't feel like I am a fast reader.  I don't read until 3 in the morning any more - to old, I need my sleep. LOL - but I still seem to find the time to read.  I guess it really is like breathing to me.

Happy Reading

Valley of Dreams - Lauraine Snelling
A Lasting Impression - Tamara Alexander

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Janice Thompson

Dear Readers,
Swinging on a Star by Janice Thompson is a book that I was asked to read.  Romantic Comedies are great for movies, but for me, not in a book.  Not that this is not a fun little book, just not my favorite genre.
Bella wonders what a normal family would be like.  You know the kind, one that quietly eats dinner together.  One that discusses differences and logically agrees to disagree sometimes.  One that is well ... normal.
 Swinging on a Star, Janice Thompson, 978-0-8007-3343-8
Her family is far from that.  Whether it is the running arguement her Uncle Laz and Aunt Rosa have about who is the better singer, Dino or Old Blue Eyes, a singing bird or just general chaos, her family is not normal.
Throw in a visit from the Food Network, a visiting Hollywood star and a Renaissance wedding, complete with castle and knights in shining armor, and Bella wonders, is anyone going to escape with their sanity intact?
This is book #2 in the Weddings by Bella series and a delight to read.  I do recommend starting with Fools Rush In and follow it with #3 It had to be You.   It wasn't hard to figure out what was going on in book two, but why miss out on the adventure of those other stories, and I can only imagine the adventures that Bella gets into.
Happy Reading

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bob Hamer

Dear Readers,
The one type of book I get asked about the most is 'guy' books. In the Christian market they were sadly somewhat lacking for many years.  If you didn't like history or westerns you were completely out of luck.  

That started to change a few years ago.  It was a slow change as some of the ones that were coming out were just a bit cheesy, but there have been some really good stories.  Steven James, Joel Rosenberg, Ted Dekker, to name a few that have written books that seemed to have the guy reader in mind.

Maybe one of the fastest growing genres in Christian fiction right now is the spy novels.  I haven't done any real research on it, but to me it seems that more and more publishing houses are presenting those type of books.  It probably started with the end times and how you can tie the end of the world in with the hero racing to stop some evil plot.  Those are good, but not exactly what I and most readers were looking for. 
Targets Down by Bob Hamer demonstrates the new type of book that is coming out now.  Spy novels that have the hero racing to save the world without it having anything to do with the end times.  Yes I know this genre has been out for many years, but they seem to be getting better and better at it than before. 
Targets Down is actually the second in the Matt Hogan series.  Enemy Among Us is book number one.  I did not get to read book one, but if I get a chance I would like to.   
Matt goes undercover to figure out who is responsible for the shooting of a wife of a fellow agent and the death of a local pastor.  His investigation leads him to the dark underside of life in Hollywood and Los Angeles.  Drug and human trafficing, Russian mafia and a group of Neo-Nazis make this undercover job harder than any he has been on before. 
Matt needs to be able to balance his family life and his job, which he loves.  He is one of the best, but is his job the best thing for his relationship with his wife?  He may have to decide soon.
I liked this book for its fast pace and how it didn't all always fit neatly into the quick-answer book.  Bob does a good job of leading us down paths where we think are going one way, but actually it's just a smoke screen. 
Ok that is enough of that, I don't want to give away too many clues or you will be able to figure it all out before you even get into the book.  That would be no fun what so ever.  So if you are looking for a good 'spy' novel or a good book for that guy in your life, I strongly recommend Targets Down.
Happy Reading

Monday, October 10, 2011

New Releases Oct. 3 - 8

Dear Readers,

We are in the midst of two wonderful events in West Michigan.  The first has arrived in our city and spend 3 weeks exciting and entertaining the locals and many many tourist.  Art Prize.  It is held the last 2 weekends of Sept - the first weekend of Oct.  1,000 of pieces of art are placed all over the city and people from all over decsend on Grand Rapids to view art they would never go see other wise.   It is a fantastic chance to get out and enjoy downtown.

The second thing that we are in the middle of doesn't always come and almost never at the same time of year other than it is fall and that is Indian Summer.  It is suppose to be in the 80's this weekend.  Which of course requires all of us who live in the north to head outside and try to soak up as much sun and warm temps as we can to save for this winter.  In fact I was outside today for about an hour reading and just enjoying the sun.  

Enjoy the weather as much as you can and enjoy these new books

Happy Reading

A Sound Among the Trees - Susan Meissner
Book of Dreams - Davis Bunn
Kiss of Night - Debbie Viguie'

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Tracie Peterson

Dear Readers,
House of Secrets by Tracie Peterson has not been an easy book to review.  The story line itself was very interesting to read, but the subject matter is not one that is easy to talk about.  Mental illness and the effects it has on all those who are part of the family. 
Bailee, Geena and Piper have known a terrible secret about their father and they have finally come to the conclusion that they need to confront him about it.  They all meet in a cottage the family owns in Washington and that is where the secrets of their family come to light.  House of Secrets, Tracie Peterson, 978-0-7642-0618-4
This was an interesting look at a family dealing with a member's illness.  How it has gone on to affect them all into adulthood.  How it is not a solitary problem, but one that affects any and all that come into contact with the person. 
I think the saddest line that kept repeating itself in the story is "I was just trying to protect you."   The father says it, the older sisters say it and a couple of people say it that were part of the story when the girls were younger.  Secrets can be fun, keeping a secret about a surprise party is always exciting.  Not telling someone what Christmas presents you bought them makes for a memorable Christmas morning.  But other secrets are just harmful.  A child in a dangerous situation needs to tell someone who can help.  If a doctor knows that a patient has a terrible disease, they have to tell.  If a parent does suffer from mental illness a child needs to know when it is age appropreate.   We must also then make ourselves available to become someone who can be trusted with the information and help in anyway we can.
This is not a light read, but a very good one to help us understand what it is like to grow up in this situation.
Happy Reading

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Debbie Viguie'

Dear Readers,
I have not read the Twilight books.  Not interested either.  I have read a couple of Ann Rice's books and enjoyed them, but they are pretty dark and creepy.  Eric Wilson's Jerusalem's Undead series was action packed and a fun read.  But over all Vampire books are not my thing.  Too creepy and why fall in love with the "ultimate" bad boy.  He is dead for Pete's sake.
Kiss of Night by Debbie ViguiĆ©Kiss of Night by Debbie Viguie' may have changed my mind, at least a little bit.  The description of the book includes the tagline, "What would happen if a vampire truly accepted God?"  That question alone made me want to read this book.
Susan travels to Prague with the thought of only burying her beloved Grandmother.  There is something about this city that seems comfortable, but Susan doesn't know why, she has never visited there before. 
When Susan's cousin's life is endangered by a guy she goes on a date with, Susan has a strange encounter with a man who tells her that she has to save her now. 
Raphael has been seeking a relic that was stolen from him during the Crusades.  He thinks he knows where it is and he is determined to get it back, but he will need Susan's help.  How do you tell someone that you are a 'good' Vampire?  How do you get her to trust you?
So if you were to place yourself in the character's shoes during this book, you would find yourself falling for a man that says he is one of the undead.  You would also find yourself in a battle for the world and the souls of all who live.  You must right away change how you do everything because there are creatures out there that a few short days ago you didn't believe in and they are now trying to kill you. I am not sure I would be able to do that.
That leads back to the question mentioned before.  Without giving anything away, can a Vampire become a "good" Vampire and what does that mean?  I know that in some other vampire books you do have good and evil vampires, but this approaches it from a bit of a different point of view.  What does or doesn't happen when someone who is considered evil becomes a believer.  Then also add the thought, can they be forgiven?  All interesting discussion questions, but ones I better stay away from a little as I don't actually want to give anything away. 
This is book #1 of what I am led to believe is going to be a three book series.  I am looking forward to book 2 and I know my daughter is ready to read the next one also. 
Happy Reading
P.S.  I still don't understand the attraction of falling in love with a vampire

Monday, October 3, 2011

New Releases Sept 26-Oct. 1

Dear Readers,

Did anyone else noticed that September went by at the speed of light?  I am still trying to figure out where summer went.  Of course with Oct comes two of my favorite times of the year.  Our full day Librarians Day here at the store and I also teach a couple of workshops at a large Librarian's gathering in Chicago.  I started doing that a few years ago and so enjoy it every year. 

It happens that they are both in the same week this year, so I will be over dosing on fiction books that week, but that is ok.  I can't think of a better thing to do to much of.   Talking fiction is one of those activites I could do all day long and still want to do it again the next day, which makes my job perfect for me.  I can't say which if my favorite, talking or reading fiction.  They are both good hobbies of mine.  How about you? Do you like to talk about fiction as much as read it?

Happy Reading

The Wonder of Your Love - Beth Wiseman
Highland Sanctuary - Jennifer Hudson Taylor
Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride - Sandra D. Bricker
Lethal Remedy - Richard L. Mabry M.D.
Bandit's Hope - Marcia Gruver
The Lady's Maid - Susan Page Davis
10 Plagues - Mary Nealy
Southern Fried Sushi - Jennifer Rogers Spinola

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Matt Mikalatos

Dear Readers,
Sometimes reviews write themselves.  Sometimes there are books the just beg to have a review written for them.  Those are the best, but then there are others books that are more difficult to write. Night of the Living Dead Christians by Matt Mikalatos is on the harder side.  It is a fun little read and I encourage you to read it, but it does not lend itself to an easy review. 
I am not sure how to discribe this book other than a cross between Monty Python, the Munsters and any 'B" horror movie.  It is funny, thought-provoking and snarky all at the same time.  It is just not your typical fiction
Now if you have read Matt's first book, Imaginary Jesus, you kind of know what to expect.  If you haven't read that one either, you are in for a nice surprise.  One of the complaints that I hear all the time is that Christian fiction is only either historical romance or Amish, well this book is definitely neither of those.  It is a horror story without ever being scary. 
Matt places himself as his own main character again.  I personally feel it is because he doesn't want to insult, um... err... I mean... point fingers at anyone in particular.   I have never meet Matt, but if he is anything like the guy he writes in his books... well I find myself praying for his long suffereing wife. :-)  He sounds like a wonderful, fun loving, but confused guy.  His character Matt is someone who seems to think he knows what is best, but is willing to learn from what is pointed out as his mistakes. 
Matt, the character, meets up with a Mad Scientist one night while on neighborhood watch and that leads quickly to his encounter with Zombies, a Werewolf and a Vampire.  All of which reside right in his own neighborhood.  Matt quickly tries to help his fellow neighbors in need, but how do you cure a monster of being a monster?
Like I said this book is not your average Christian novel, but it sure was loads of fun to read.
Happy Reading