Thursday, August 30, 2012

Michael Neale

Dear Readers,
Sometimes while I read a book I know that the review is going to be difficult to write.  The River by Michael Neale is that type of book.  I completely loved the book.  In fact there was a couple of times I just didn't want to put it down.  The thing is I can't put my finger on why I liked it so much, it wasn't the type of book that makes you want to turn pages and yet it is a book that makes you keep turning those same pages.  This is a quiet unassuming book that you will end up wanting to share with others.
The River, Michael NealeGabriel is 4 years old when he sees his father die while rescuing a kayaker from the River.  He is sent to live with his mother in Kansas after that and we then watch him struggle with the loss of his father and the fears and sadness that brought on.  He is a quiet boy that has days that fit into two different categories - good days or bad days.  The bad days are when he retreats to his safe place and is unable to find his way out for a bit.  His mother loves him and worries about him, but is unable to help.
When Gabriel goes on a camping trip after high school he has an experience that changes his life and where he was heading.  He goes white water rafting on The River.  He is both terrified to go and yet very drawn to it.  It takes a cute girl to talk him into going and once he does he knows he cannot live without living life on the River.
I guess you could call this book an Allegory without really calling it that.  'It is a storyline that has allegory leanings' might be a better way to put it.   I should also say that there are parts of this book that are very obviously first time author mistakes, but they are also easy to overlook.   I thought it would bother me more as that is a pet-peeve of mine because I think editors should take care of it, but probably because I was enjoying the book so much I just kind of ignored it. 
I was interested in reading the book because of the White Water Rafting part of the story.  I went for the first time a couple of years ago and I am thinking I may have to do it again.  There is nothing like it, with it both being scary beyond belief and yet so much fun.  It is kind of like the Christian life.
Happy Reading

Monday, August 27, 2012

New Releases August 20 - 25

Dear Readers,
I am so excited.  I just found a book online that I have been looking for to give to my mother.  Many years ago, I was about 15 or so when she recommended the book to me.  She said it was one of her favorites and thought I might like it, that was pretty much all she said about it. 
I have to admit when I asked for Ramona by Helen Hunt Jackson at the local library I wasn't overly impressed with the cover.  It was just a plain green cover and didn't have anything about the story line on it, but I do remember the librarian was excited that I was going to read it.  She said "not many people check that book out much anymore."  At the time I thought that didn't sound good for the book.
I was wrong, this is a good book and it has stuck with me over the years.   I have wanted to share it with my daughters and yet could never seem to find a copy when I was thinking of it.  I was reading different reviews on line about it and it talks about being as important as Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Othello.  I didn’t know anything about it back when I read it the first time, but it is one I recommend that if you haven’t had a chance to read it, pick it up.   Don’t let an ugly cover discourage you.   It is worth the read.
Happy Reading

A Heartbeat Away - Harry Kraus - Tori Taylor is a surgeon who needs a new heart.  What she receives is a heart with a memory of a murder.  Is it a real murder or is it just a hallucinating?

Sandwich with a Side of Romance - Krista Phillips - from the back cover - She moved to Sandwich IL, in search of a new life, but ended up in a giant pickle.  I thought that was cute.

The Road to Mercy - Kathy Harris - Josh and his wife Bethany need to make a life and death choice for her and the baby she carrys.  The choice they make will test both their faith and their marriage.

To Write a Wrong - Robin Caroll - #1 A Justice Seekers - Riley Baxter is eager to write a wrong and the man sitting in the State Penitentiary looks like the perfect person to help.  Especially when Riley feels a real connection to his daughter.

October Baby - Eric Wilson- Based on the screen play of the movie - Hannah finds out she is adopted and a survior of a failed abortion.   She sets out on a journey to discover who she is.

Mother of Pearl - Kellie Coates Gilbert - Barrie has wonderful life, great kids, wonderful husband and a respected job.  It all falls apart when her daughter starts to lash out. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Randy Singer

Dear Readers,
If you are looking for a good lawyer mystery, I recommend Randy Singer.  He has several really good books out on the market.  But I wanted to mention to you today one that is back on the market and is causing a bit of confusion. 
The Judge by Randy released in my bookstore just over a week ago and has gotten me in hot water almost from the start.  I didn’t list it on my new releases as it isn’t a new release, but a re-release, with a new title and cover, of a book Randy did about 6 years ago.  That book was titled The Cross Examination of Oliver Finney.  It had a companion non-fiction book titled The Cross Examination of Jesus of Christ.  They were an interesting combo of books.  I would recommend at the time to read both of them, the problem now is the non-fiction one is still out of print. 
But The Judge, as it is now known, is worth the read.  I wish I had a copy of my original review, but I can’t seem to find it.  I guess somewhere in the move from Holland to this store I must have thought I wouldn’t need it any more.  Sorry, but I will try to give you a feel for the book
Judge Oliver Finney is “invited” to defend his faith on a strange reality show.  A billionaire has decided he wants to put the world's biggest faiths on trial.  When things take an ugly twist, the Judge knows he needs to get word out that he needs help.
This was not only an interesting book for the mystery of it, but also for the information on the different faiths and how they compare to each other.   Because of how one of the main characters was written, Randy asked lots of the questions that people seemed to ask when they are wrestling with their faith.  Of course one of the main ones being how do you know which one is right or not?
The Cross Examination of Oliver Finney
If you didn’t read it the first time around, now is a great time to do that.  If you did read it, you can recommend it to others again, now that it is back in print.
Happy Reading

Monday, August 20, 2012

Sigmund Brower/Hank Hanegraaff

Dear Readers,

This series was one that I had always meant to read books one and two, but just never got around to it.  Sigmound Brower is an interesting author and I have read several of his books.  I was very interested in the historical part of this storyline.  When I found out that book three was not coming out as soon as originally thought I decided to wait and find out what happened to the series before reading the beginning if there was never going to be a conclusion to it. 

Tyndale decided to re-release The Last Disciple and the Last Sacrifice to generate interest in the Last Temple which was the conclusion to the series.  I have heard several people say they could hardly wait to finish the series as they enjoyed the first two so much. 

Being part of Tyndale's blog tour I decided to skip book 1 and 2 and just read the last to see if was necessary to read them in order.  I will say I recommend that you do read the first two to get a good basis for the story, but the authors do a good job a revisiting the storylines that happened before. Maybe that is what was my problem is with the book.  I really got sick of being reminded that if Nero found out Vitas was alive/in Rome then Vitas would be dead.  I was beginning to think two different things about that statement, first - I don't think Vitas could die.  In this series he had been a soldier that had survived several wars, crucifixion and being thrown in the arena.  Secondly - I wondered if the authors thought we readers couldn't remember that for more than 10 pages.

I have a feeling you can already tell where this review is going.  I was not overly impressed with it.  I found the storyline to be almost forced and light.  I kept thinking that Hank and Sigmund were trying to hard to teach us something instead of just telling us a story.  I wanted to like Vitas, but he seemed very shallow and only doing things because he was obligated to. Plus if a character in a book can sound arrogant, Vitas was it.  I never really warmed up to him.

There was a lot of repeating of details and skipping ahead in time.  It almost felt like the authors started the series too early and needed time to pass quickly so they would have Vitas go home and live with his wife for a while, until they needed him again for something.  It was just kind of a strange feel to the story.  I didn't enjoy it and it made for a tough read.  Nothing seemed to flow. 

I hated to say this about this book, but I won't be reading the other two as I am just not that interested. 

Happy Reading

Sunday, August 19, 2012

New Releases August 13 - 18

Dear Readers,

As Summer winds down I always feel like I need to squeeze as much in as possible.  Those last days of summer are the busiest and yet the most enjoyable.  They are usually a bit less hot and humid, at least in Michigan.  Sitting outside is just nicer. 

There are several books on the list below that are on my must reads.  MaryBeth Whalen's, Michael Morris', and I am interested in Geraldine Brooks'.  I don't think I will get them all read before Labor day so will need a few more nice evenings and weekends into Sept.  I hope that can be arranged.

Happy Reading

A Plain and Simple Heart - Lori Copeland/Virginia Smith - #2 the Amish of Apple Grove - 1884 Rebecca sets off to find her one true love.  Colin is ready to move onto the next phase in his life.  Can he convince Rebecca to forget her one true love.

The Guest Book - MaryBeth Whalen - Actually released several weeks ago, we didn't get our copies until this week.  Macy is back on Sunset Beach twenty one years after her first drawing in the guest book.  Will she find the boy who was drawing pictures to her?

Westward Hearts - Melody Carlson - #1 Homeward on the Oregon Trail - 1856 - When Elizabeth's husband dies she thought she would never make the move to the west.  Until her parents and brother tell her that they want to go also.

Caleb's Crossing - Geraldine Brooks - 1160 - Inspired by a true story.  Bethia is part of a small band of pioneering Puritans.  She meets and befriends Caleb, son of the chieftan, who becomes a prize between the two worlds.

Mortal Fire - C.F. Dunn -#1 Secrets of the Journal - Emma finds a journal that contain a secret.  It draws her into conflict with the present.

Where Love Grows - Jerry Eicher - #3 Fields of Home - What will Susan decide?  The conclusion to Susan's story, will she decide to stay Englisha or will she return to the Amish ways?

The Reunion - Dan Walsh - Aaron Miller was once honored for his heroism, but now lives is obscurity as a handyman at a trailer park.  But God has a way of redeeming lost things and bring it to a life in the light.

Man in the Blue Moon - Michael Morris - Ella gave up her dream for love, now she is struggling to keep her family's land.  Can the stranger who mysteriously shows up help her or is he part of the problem?

Band of Sisters - Cathy Cohlke - 1910 - Maureen is desperate for a job after her and her sisters arrive through Ellis Island.  The problem is the department store is hiding a terrible secret.

The Breakthrough - Jerry Jenkins - #3 Precinct 11 - Boone finally seems to be getting ahead of the tragedy that struck him and his family.  Just a everything is looking up a case threatens him and his family.

The Romanov Conspiracy - Glenn Meade - Dr. Laura is about to unravel the mystery surounding the disapearnce of the Romanov family. 

For Such a Time as This - Ginny Aiken - A Women of Hope Novel - Olivia's family is struggling, their farm has had some pretty tough years.  Olivia thinks she has a solution, but even that comes with it's own set of problems.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

TIm Owens

Dear Readers,
What do you get when you put 7 very different people into a church van?  For author Tim Owens you get an interesting book titled The Search Committee. 
When their church’s pastor moves on, this small southern town church decides it must go on a search for a new pastor.  They don’t want to rely on the testimony of churches or the pastors themselves. They decide they must send their own search committee and start asking for volunteers.  What they get is a hodgepodge group of people that all have their own issues and yet don’t really want anyone else to know them.
Travis is a young husband who is struggling with becoming a father for the first time, Susie is a single mom, Bill is caring for his ailing wife, Joyce is a Yankee and nobody thinks she understand their ways, Matt is very socially awkward, Frankie keeps the peace and then there is Dot who is the church busybody.
I wasn’t sure I was going to like this book, but since my book club is reading it this fall I decide to jump in and see what it was all about.  I found myself liking it in spite of myself.  I found several familiar faces on the pages.  I think that Tim does a great job of representing many of the people who occupy our church pews and therefore wrote a book that we can all relate to.  The scary part is if you don’t recognize someone from your church on the pages, then you are the one that is missing.  YIKES!
I found this to be one of those books that might be hard to recommend to people, but that they will enjoy when they pick it up.

Monday, August 13, 2012

New Releases August 6 - 11

Dear Readers
I started a book yesterday that made me not want to put the book down.  I wanted to continue reading it and find out what happened to characters.  I wanted to go to the cities mentioned and explore them, meet the people in them and experience the stories.  

That is what makes a great book.  One that draws you into the story and makes you not what to come up for air.  There are place I want to visit, but reading a story like this adds a place to that list.  It is amazing to me when an author can transport me to a place I have never been, but yet when I get done reading, I feel like I have lived there for a time.  

I can't wait to share the story with you all.  The Girl in the Glass by Susan Meissner is due out in September. 

Happy Reading
Something Blue - Dianne Christner - #3 Plain City Bridesmaids - Megan has the job of her dreams working with Chance.  The problem is he isn't Mennonite.  The young man from her past is interested, but she only remembers him as an annoying, gawky person.

The Heart's Journey - Barbara Cameron - #2 Stitches in Time Series - Naomi isn't as excited about her upcoming wedding as she should be.  Her feelings for her fiance' are lackluster at best, is there a good reason?

Taming the Wind - Tracie Peterson - #3 Land of the Lone Star - Challenged by mounting hardships, can Carissa and Tyler preserve their fledgling love?

A Hidden Truth - Judith Miller - #1 Home to Amana - 1892, In the closed communities of the Amana Colonies hidden truths are about to change everything for two young women.

Unending Devotion - Judy Hedlund - Michigan 1883 - Lily is  determined to find her sister.  Connell is determined to increase his fortune.  Can these two different people change each other's goal?

With Every Letter - Sarah Sundin - #1 Wings of the Nightingale - Mellie and Tom have known each other for years, but don't know each other's real names.  Will a meeting change all that?

At Every Turn - Anne Mateer - 1916 - Alyce needs to raise $3,000 and quick.  She decides to enter a car race that her father's company is sponsoring.  But a woman can't drive in the race. Will she be able to compete?

Love's Reckoning - Laura Frantz - #1 The Ballantyne Legacy - 1784 - Silas is determined to finish his apprenticeship that is until his boss tells him he must complete one tradition, marry one of the master's daughters.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Lorena McCourtney

Dear Readers
Lorena McCourtney was writing cozy mysteries before it was popular.  I get asked about her Ivy Malone Mystery series all the time.  Unfortunately they are all out of print and we don't get them in the Used fiction department because libraries like to hang on to them. 
It has been 5 or 6 years since the last one released and I kept hoping she would write another book.  Dying to Read is Lorena's newest book that just released a couple of weeks ago.  I wanted to read it sooner, but just never got a chance until now.  What fun it was to read Lorena's quirky fun books Dying to Read, Lorena McCourtney, 978-0-8007-2158-9again.  Welcome back.
In Dying to Read Cate Kinkaid is having trouble finding a job, at least one that she is good at and likes.  Her life is in the dumps, her social life, her career, even her hair.  So when her Uncle Joe offers her a job as a PI working with him, she jumps at it.  How hard can a PI job be?  Well that is until the first job she has turns up a dead body. 
That is a short description of the book, but I really don't want to go into to much details of the story as I don't want to give too much away.  I think the only thing that I would 'complain' about is the Cate just seems a bit naive at times, but because of the people you meet and the mystery you solve she becomes an endearing character that makes the possibility of a series exciting. 
I can easily say that if you have been waiting for Lorena to write a new book you will really enjoy this one.
Happy Reading

Monday, August 6, 2012

New Releases July 30 - August 4th

Dear Readers.
As a reader myself, I hoped to raise readers of my own.  All three of my children enjoy reading.  I am very proud of that.  But something happened a few weeks ago that just warmed my heart.  My oldest told me that my two youngest granddaughters decided to have a book club.
You have to know they are 5 (almost 6) and 7.   So mom thought it would be just a silly thing they would do.  When Nicky asked them what they would do, they replied, (as if mom was kind of silly) "we will read a book and then discuss it with each other."  Well of course what else would you do in a book club? 
Again my daughter thought "this can't be that big a deal" and asked the question, "What are you going to discuss about the book?"  Their reply was again very matter of fact, “We are going to discuss characters, the setting and the problem/solution."  Of course again, what else would you talk about? 
Now I would love to be a fly on the wall or even join in the discussion of the heavy books they are reading, but I don't think my daughter has even caught them doing it.  They don't seem to have a set schedule of when they will be meeting, but if you are interested in a schedule I can ask.  I am not sure which book is on their list next but so far they have done the literary classics - Everyone Hide from Wibbly Pig and Barbie in a Mermaid Tale.
Happy Reading

Her Good Name - Ruth Axtell - LIes and secrets can spoil a woman's good name.  Set in Maine 1892

Still Life in Shadows - Alice J. Wisler - Gideon walked away from the Amish life and now helps Amish teens do the same.  But when he meets Kiki and she changes everything for him.

The Treasure of the Celtic Triangle - Michalel Phillips - Percy excepts his dying uncle's request and is going to restore the missing heir to Westbrooke estates.

Song of the Brokenhearted - Shelia Walsh/Cindy Martinusen Coloma - Learning what it means to lose it all is just the start of Ava's journey - as is the new song God is writing on her heart.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Tracy L. Higley

Dear Readers,
Most of us know the story of Daniel and the Lion’s Den or the fiery furnace or even that King Nebuchadnezzar actually did spend 7 years living as an animal.  But personally I have never thought about what happened during that time while he was running around, well who knows where he was living.   How did the kingdom run, who was running the kingdom and did he actually run around the country side or did they keep him hidden from people and pretend that everything was ok with the world.  And how did they get away with that for 7 years.
Garden of Madness by Tracy L. Higley addresses that part of the story.  What were those seven years like?  The story itself is written from the perspective of Tiamat, Nebuchadnezzar’s daughter, and it starts at the end of the 7 years. 
Within hours of Tia’s husband’s death she learns that she is to be given to her cousin in marriage to form a treaty with the Median kingdom.  There is treachery everywhere and there are several groups of people making a play for the throne with the absence of the king.   Tiamat is struggling to keep the secret of her father’s madness, while protecting him from anyone who may want to cause him harm or even reveal his secret to the world. 
This was one of those books that I read just for the knowledge I would get from it and found myself completely enjoying myself also.  I guess I should have known that as I really do like Tracy’s books.  She is so good at putting faces on history.  Her series, 7 Wonders, was so very interesting.  I found out things about several of the 7 wonders of the ancient world that I didn’t know.  It is what makes her books good, while reading a history book I am learning something new that makes me want to learn more about the topic.  I even find myself having to remind me that the person in the book may not be a real person, but I sure do want them to be.
Happy Reading