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Showing posts from April, 2010

Book Review: "Romancing Hollywood Nobody" by Lisa Samson

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Scotty and Charley find romance in the Highlands when a couple of cute guys in kilts look their way. How will Seth and Jeremy react when they realize the ladies who were interested in them have captured the hearts of a young bagpiper and a Scottish actor?Meanwhile, as Scotty and her dad look for answers to their questions about faith, they also look for Scotty’s mom. The search takes them deep into mob territory, where someone will go to any length to keep the past a secret. Will Scotty lose everything that’s become important to her? I really adore this series. Scotty is one of the most refreshing and likable YA characters I have ever read. She's just so incredibly mature and responsible for her age yet still can be giddy and excited when she needs to be. Actually she totally could be the spokesperson for the term Young Adult because that's actually what she is.

This book takes Scotty, Charlie and her new found dad into Virginia as they are on location for a new mov…

Book Review: "Spring's Renewal" by Shelley Shepard Gray

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Scarred from a fire when she was small, Clara has resigned herself to living alone and caring for her mother. Believing that no man will be able to see past her scars, Clara has taken up teaching to support herself and her mother. When Tim Graber arrives in Sugarcreek, he doesn't fit in. But everything changes when he meets Clara. He appreciates her quiet nature and her loving way with children. When tragedy strikes, will Tim and Clara have the faith to risk everything for a chance at true love?

I know I have said this before but I really am a fan of Amish fiction by Shelley Shepard Gray. Unlike other Amish books, her stories do not involve conflict between the Amish world and the outside world. There are no main stories about Amish teens struggling between their world and the new things they discover during their Rumspringa or drama about the church and ways of belief. Instead her books just embrace the culture and just let the characters do their own thing and just be A…

Book Review: "Rumor Has It" by Jill Mansell

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Newly single, Tilly Cole impulsively accepts a job offer in a small town as a “Girl Friday.” Fun job, country house, fresh start, why not? But soon she finds herself in a hotbed of gossip, intrigue, and rampant rivalry for the town’s most desirable bachelor—Jack Lucas.

Rumors of Jack’s “love ’em and leave ’em” escapes abound, and Tilly decides to do the mature, sensible thing... avoid Jack at all cost. But the more time Tilly spends with Jack, the more the rumors just don’t make sense. Tilly doesn’t know what to believe... and Jack’s not telling.

I sometimes think I was born in the wrong country. I absolutely adore anything British. From the accents, to the royalty (woo Prince Harry!), to the music (Beatles!), to the actors (too many to list), to the literature (home of Harry Potter AND Jane Austen), the Empire just has it all. And one thing they have done to a tee is chick lit. British Chick Lit is SO good. I just can't explain it but even though I really like American chick lit, s…

Book Review: "The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society" by Beth Pattillo

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On the third Friday of each month, Eugenie, Ruth, Esther, Merry, and Camille meet at the Sweetgum Christian Church to enjoy the two things that connect them: a love of knitting and a passion for books. Their camaraderie remains unthreatened until Eugenie, the town librarian, introduces an angry teenager into their midst. Eugenie also gives them a new reading list: the classic novels of girlhood that young Hannah has never read. Little Women. Pollyanna. Heidi. Books that remind the women of the hopes and dreams they have lost along the way.

With each click of their needles, the ladies of the Knit Lit Society unravel their secrets: A shadow from Eugenie’s past haunts the controlled order of her life. Merry’s perfect little family is growing again–but will she continue to feel her identity slip away? Camille dreams of leaving town but is bound by ties of love. And the sisters, Ruth and Esther, must confront a lie they have lived with for over thirty years.

As Hannah is reluct…

The Anonymous Bride by Vickie McDonough

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This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Anonymous BrideBarbour Publishing, Inc. (April 1, 2010)
byVickie McDonough



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Award-winning author Vickie McDonough believes God is the ultimate designer of romance. She loves writing stories where the characters find their true love and grow in their faith.

Vickie has had 18 books published. She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers, and is currently serving as ACFW treasurer. Vickie has also been a book reviewer for nine years.

She is a wife of thirty-five years, mother of four sons, and grandmother to a feisty four-year-old girl. When not writing, she enjoys reading, watching movies, and traveling.


ABOUT THE BOOK

How many brides does one man need?
It's been years, but Luke Davis is back--older and wiser--and still alone. Returning as Lookout's new town marshal, Luke is determined to face the past and move on. He flippantly tells his cousin he'd get married if the ri…

Book Review: "Love Will Keep Us Together" by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt

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Riley McGee has the whole world open before her. She could get into any college, major in any subject, become whoever she wants to be. . . . But the truth is, Riley has no earthly idea what to do. She's paralyzed by indecision, afraid of the changes she faces, and as graduation day inches closer, it feels more and more like a threat.

Meanwhile, her autistic brother, Michael, is struggling to fit in at Marina Vista and stay on top of his classes. Riley tries to keep an eye out for him, but when Ms. Moore suggests pulling Michael out of school, Riley has to fight for her brother—and against her favorite teacher. And things take another turn when her ex-boyfriend, Tom, arrives, hoping to give their relationship one more try. On top of that, an ambitious new pastor makes her question everything she thought she knew about faith.

Oh high school. Boy am I glad those days are over. There was so much I hated about high school - the drama, the worrying about whether I was part of…

Shelf Discovery Challenge Report: Stranger With My Face by Lois Duncan

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Have you ever been haunted by the feeling that someone is spying on you, lurking around your house and yard, even entering your bedroom? Are your friends plotting against you when they say they've seen you do things you know you haven't done? What's going on — and does Laurie really want to find out?

This was actually the creepiest Lois Duncan book that I read for the Shelf Discovery challenge. More so than all the other books (except maybe A Gift of Magic but that one wasn't scary at all) this book uses supernatural elements that make things unexplainable. Without spoiling the story, Laurie's double creates a lot of trouble for her especially when she discovers the truth about her identity and her past. She's not sure what on earth other people are seeing but soon becomes suspicious as she starts to feel a presence she can't explain. It's quite spooky as it involves elements such as mind control and taking over other's bodies. It's reall…

Book Review: "In Harm's Way" by Irene Hannon

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FBI special agent Nick Bradley has seen his share of kooks during his fifteen years with the Bureau. But Rachel Sutton is an enigma. She seems normal when she shows up at the FBI office in St. Louis--until she produces a tattered Raggedy Ann doll she found and tells him she thinks something is wrong because of a strange feeling of terror it gives her when she touches it. Nick dismisses her, only to stumble across a link between the doll and an abducted child, setting in motion a chain of events that uncovers startling connections--and puts Rachel's life on the line.

I have really enjoyed the books in this series. Normally romantic suspense dealing with the military or law enforcement doesn't really appeal to me. It's mainly because there's always this jargon or insider information that I just don't get because I'm not associated with anyone involved in either field. This series however has brought both fields to a more accessible level and has allowed …

Book Review: "Wish" by Alexandra Bullen

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For broken-hearted Olivia Larsen, nothing can change the fact that her twin sister, Violet, is gone... until a mysterious, beautiful gown arrives on her doorstep. The dress doesn't just look magical; it is magical. It has the power to grant her one wish, and the only thing Olivia wants is her sister back. With Violet again by her side, both girls get a second chance at life. And as the sisters soon discover, they have two more dresses-and two more wishes left. But magic can't solve everything, and Olivia is forced to confront her ghosts to learn how to laugh, love, and live again. I have been reading a lot of YA fiction lately and I've been noticing that there seems to be trend involving wishes being granted either from genies, fairy godmothers or other magical sources. It might sound like a repetitive trend but it's always interesting because who doesn't wish that they could have the opportunity like that? It's always fascinating to read about what p…

Blood Ransom by Lisa Harris

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This week, theChristian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Blood RansomZondervan (April 1, 2010)
byLisa Harris


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Award-winning author Lisa Harris has been writing both fiction and nonfiction since 2000 and has more than fifteen novels and novellas in print. She currently lives with her family in Mozambique, Africa, where they work as missionaries.

From Lisa:

Have you ever noticed how God often uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things? In writing Blood Ransom, I wanted my heroes and heroines to be ordinary people, faced with extraordinary circumstances. Chad and Natalie’s lives were changed not only through the challenges they faced, but also through their reliance on God. And when they set off on their journey to the capital to save Joseph’s family, they never imagined that God would call them to a task that was beyond the scope of their own power.

But while this story is fictional, the issue of a modern day slave trade is very real. It is estimated that …

Book Review: "Plain Paradise" by Beth Wiseman

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Josephine Dronberger was a scared teenager when she left her baby in the care of an Old Order Amish couple. But seventeen years have passed and Josie longs to reconnect with her daughter.Linda--as the couple named the child--is promised to Stephen Ebersol, the bishop's grandson. They plan to marry in the fall. When her birth mother comes to Paradise, Linda is drawn to a world she's never known. Will the direction she's been heading since birth be suddenly derailed, and who will stand by her convictions--mother or daughter?

Adoption stories tend to be very predictable in Christian fiction and they seem to be prevalent in Amish fiction. Usually what happens is a kid who's birth parents were not Amish, grows up in an Amish household, meets birth parents who are totally the opposite of what they grew up with and then get tempted to leave the Amish world. I could usually tell you the ending of the book by the end of the first chapter. Luckily, this book is not …

Book Review: "The Bride Collector" by Ted Dekker

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He loves them because they are beautiful. He kills them because he loves them.

A virtuoso killer is carving a path of death across the west, intent on killing only the most beautiful women, all in the name of love. He has claimed six victims and slipped through the FBI’s fingers, each time leaving behind a hand written note and a bridal veil.

Full of surprising wit and hair-raising twists that will keep you riveted to the end, The Bride Collector will haunt you with a new way of looking at beauty, love and the world in which you live.

It took me a while to finish this book. It's not because I hated the book or the author. I adore Ted Dekker's books. And I enjoyed the story. I was just completely creeped out by the story. Not in a scared to death that I can't go to sleep way but in a "Blargh, I want to throw up because I feel creepy crawlies running up my arm" way. I have discovered that I really don't like stories that involve psychotic killers who have mental p…

Book Review: "Greater Love" by Robert Whitlow

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As a result of her first-rate work as a law clear, Tami Taylor's been offered a coveted position as associate partner in one of Savannah's oldest and most prestigious law firms. Though her strong faith and convictions are valued by the firm's partners, Tami struggles to discern if God's will for her career is elsewhere.

Meanwhile, Tami must protect a young client named Jessie who is on the run from some shady characters. Her association with Jessie puts Tami in mortal danger. With her life on the line, Tami falls in love and discovers the power of romantic love forged by the activity of the Holy Spirit.

Normally I don't like novels about lawyers and law practice. Half the time it's because the characters use so much jargon that I don't understand or the lawyers are so incredibly stereotyped that they are either laughable or unlikeable. The Tides of Truth series however has been perfect for me. There's a likable main character who explains everything about…

Blog Tour with Francine Rivers

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Yesterday I posted my review of Francine River's new book, Her Mother's Hope. Today, as part of the blog tour, here is a short interview with Francine.

Christian fiction continues to boom. What would you like to see happen in the field?I want to see Christian fiction speak to the hard and real issues that tear people’s lives apart. We need writers who are willing to ask the hard questions and go through the soul-searching and agonizing to find answers – and present these stories with skill that surpasses the general market. Some of the greatest works or art and literature were rendered by Christians. I believe God is at work in these areas now. I would also love to see more Christian stories make it to the big screen and into the world of television, and to have the Christian worldview presented fairly. Much of what comes out of “Hollywood” appeals to the basest side of mankind and crushes the spirit. Right now, with war and a failing economy, people are…

Book Review: "Her Mother's Hope" by Francine Rivers

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The first in an epic two-book saga by beloved author Francine Rivers, this sweeping story explores the complicated relationships between mothers and daughters over several generations. Near the turn of the 20th century, fiery Marta leaves Switzerland determined to find life on her own terms. Her journey takes her through Europe and finally lands her with children and husband in tow in the central valley of California. Marta's experiences convince her that only the strong survive. Hildie, Marta's oldest daughter, has a heart to serve others, and her calling as a nurse gives her independence, if not the respect of her mother. Amid the drama of WWII, Hildie marries and begins a family of her own. She wants her daughter never to doubt her love-but the challenges of life conspire against her vow. Each woman is forced to confront her faulty but well-meaning desire to help her daughter find her God-given place in the world.

I have been waiting FOREVER for a new full lengt…

Book Review: "Through Thick & Thin" by Sandra Byrd

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Savvy Smith, 15, sees her chance to write a full column in the paper, making her name and making her way in her new hometown near London, England. But the choices she faces when given the chance to choose between friends, family, and fame may turn her dream into a nightmare.

As I said with the first book in the series, this book really makes me want to move to England or at the very least go for a visit. I honestly think that Savvy has THE life. I was really glad that she's adjusted so well to living in a foreign country and that she was open to the changes. It can get a bit annoying and cliched in other books where teens hate having to leave everything behind instead of embracing what could be an awesome new adventure.

I really love how this book combines teen life with British culture yet still makes it all very easy for readers to relate. Fashion Week sounded really fun and I wish I could have been there to experience it myself. I was really glad how the In Crowd girls …

Forget Me Not by Vicki Hinze

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In Forget Me Not, Crossroads Crisis Center owner Benjamin Brandt was a content man—in his faith, his work, and his family. Then in a flash, everything he loved was snatched away. His wife and son were murdered, and grief-stricken Ben lost faith. Determination to find their killers keeps him going, but after three years of dead ends and torment, his hope is dying too. Why had he survived? He’d failed to protect his family.

Now, a mysterious woman appears at Crossroads seeking answers and help—a victim who eerily resembles Ben’s deceased wife, Susan. A woman robbed of her identity, her life, of everything except her faith—and Susan’s necklace.

The connections between the two women mount, exceeding coincidence, and to keep the truth hidden, someone is willing to kill. Finding out who and why turns Ben and the mystery woman’s situation from dangerous to deadly. Their only hope for survival is to work together, trust each other, and face whatever they discover head on, no matter …

Book Review: "Too Close to Home" by Lynette Eason

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Samantha Cash is the FBI's secret weapon. Her methods are invisible, and she never stops until the case is closed. When missing teens begin turning up dead in a small Southern town, Samantha is assigned to help local chief Connor Wolfe find the killer. And he has two problems with that. There's her faith--in God and herself. And then there's the fact that she looks exactly like his late wife.

As they get close to an answer, the case becomes personal. The killer seems to be taking an interest in Connor's 16-year-old daughter, who thinks her dad is getting way too protective. Can't a girl just have some fun?

I've enjoyed reading Lynette's books in the Love Inspired Suspense series so I had been looking forward to this release. Those books are shorter so I was really looking forward to seeing how she would do with a longer story.

The story is suspenseful without being too cliched or soap operish. It read like a crime drama from TV but since it's …

Wildflowers of Terezin by Robert Elmer

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This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Wildflowers of TerezinAbingdon Press (April 2010)by
Robert Elmer


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Robert Elmer is a former pastor, reporter and as copywriter who now writes from he home he shares with his wife Ronda in northern Idaho. He is the author of over fifty books, including eight contemporary novels for the adult Christian audience and several series for younger readers. Combined, his books have sold more than half a million copies worldwide. Like his popular "Young Underground" youth series, Wildflowers of Terezin was inspired by stories Robert heard from his Denmark-born parents and family. When he's not sailing or enjoying the outdoors, Robert often travels the country speaking to school and writers groups.



ABOUT THE BOOK

When nurse Hanne Abrahamsen impulsively shields Steffen Petersen from a nosy Gestapo agent, she’s convinced the Lutheran pastor is involved in the Danish Underground. Nothing could be furth…

Book Review: "Finding Hollywood Nobody" by Lisa Samson

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Scotty and Charley are headed for Marshall, Texas, with Biker Guy once more close on their trail. As Scotty tries to come to terms with the reality of her parents’ deaths, she grows friendly with the locals. That makes staying hidden challenging.

But there’s got to be more to life than fear, and through new friendships, Scotty learns that this prayer thing might work after all. Will prayer be enough when the situation is life and death? What happens when Biker Guy finally catches up to her?

I am going to have to say that this book is part of the probably the best YA series that I have read this year. The Hollywood Nobody series is a fresh step in the right direction for how Christian YA fiction should go into. It's funny, hip, able to talk about faith without being preachy and the author really knows how to speak like a teen and able to write in a way that relates to them.

As I said in the first book, what I really enjoyed about this story is how Scotty will talk about real life acto…

Book Review: "Hand of Fate" by Lis Wiehl with April Henry

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A suspected terrorist attack happens when outspoken radio talk show host Jim Fate is killed by poisonous gas while his show, "The Hand of Fate" is on the air. During the ensuing panic, downtown Portland is evacuated and FBI Special Agent Nicole Hedges is trapped in a high-rise building. Crime reporter Cassidy Shaw is the only journalist to report from the scene as chaos overtakes the streets. And federal prosecutor Allison Pierce ends up rescuing a toddler separated from her family and taking her to one of the city's overwhelmed hospitals. In the days following Fate's murder, the three colleagues and friends team up to uncover the secrets behind the attack - and reveal secrets of their own.

LisWiehl's connection with working in a major news network has given her great insight to writing a really good suspense novel. The story is very well written with a plot that is pretty much straight from today's news. News radio DJs carry a lot of influence i…

Shelf Discovery Challenge Report: A Gift of Magic by Lois Duncan

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When the old woman died, she left each of her grandchildren something very special. For Kirby, the gift of dance. For Brendon, the gift of music. And for Nancy, the most extraordinary gift of all . . . the gift of magic.

To be honest, I was a bit disappointed with this book. I think it has to do with how this book was marketed. It's labeled as a thriller, comparable with Duncan's other books like I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER or SUMMER OF FEAR. However nothing in this book is thrilling at all, at least not compared to the other books. The book is just not scary at all. There's some tense scenes but nothing that will put you on the edge of your seat. I finished the book and was like...that's it? The characters in this book are really young too. I was really surprised that this book is marketed as YA when the oldest sibling is not even in high school yet. I was thinking maybe that the characters would age throughout the book but they don't.

The one good …

Book Review: "Making Waves" by Nicole O'Dell

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Kate Walker joins the swim team and becomes obsessed with practice and making it through the championships with flying colors. What will Kate do when she s faced with pressure from her teammates to take an illegal substance that will help her swim multiple events in their championship meet?

This book was another major improvement in the series that targets an older audience. And it's a move I really appreciated. Kate is a regular teen girl who's looking to find something to fill her spare time and that thing happens to be swimming. She's a natural at it and even at her best is better than the top swimmers already on the team. However in this day and age of competitive pressure, your natural best is not good enough.

How Kate gets sucked into a downward spiral happened naturally. For the record, I don't drink energy drinks but that's purely because I can't stand the taste. I'll drink lots of coffee but I pass on the Red Bull. I liked how it was sh…

She Walks in Beauty by Siri Mitchell

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This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
She Walks in BeautyBethany House (April 2010)by
Siri Mitchell


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Siri Mitchell graduated from the University of Washington with a business degree and worked in various levels of government. As a military spouse, she has lived all over the world, including in Paris and Tokyo. Siri enjoys observing and learning from different cultures. She is fluent in French and loves sushi.

But she is also a member of a strange breed of people called novelists. When they’re listening to a sermon and taking notes, chances are, they’ve just had a great idea for a plot or a dialogue. If they nod in response to a really profound statement, they’re probably thinking, “Yes. Right. That’s exactly what my character needs to hear.” When they edit their manuscripts, they laugh at the funny parts. And cry at the sad parts. Sometimes they even talk to their characters.

Siri wrote 4 books and accumulated 153 rejections before signi…