Friday, April 30, 2010

Book Review: "Romancing Hollywood Nobody" by Lisa Samson


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 movie which Charlie is working on. As the title says, there's romance in this book but surprisingly the main focus of that subplot does not involve Scotty. While she's still contemplating her feelings about Seth and discovering the new local boy Angus, the spotlight of romance falls to Charlie. Her relationship with actor Anthony Harris was so fun to read. And then there was the little triangle with her former boss director that just made things even more intriguing. It's good to know that romance doesn't have to end when you become older.

Scotty's relationship with Seth takes a dramatic turn in this book. He just went totally wild and really wants to live up to the bad boy Hollywood lifestyle. I couldn't believe how selfish and reckless he was especially when it came to his mother. I was really glad that Scotty put him in his place even though she's younger than him and not in the business. I found it also interesting that because of this Scotty loses interest in her blog about the Hollywood society. I totally understand but at the same time I was a bit sad because I really enjoyed her blog and how she incorporated a real opinion mixed with the gossip.

There's lots of fun stuff in the book like Scotty being able to eat all the cheese she wants and her discovering the small town where the movie is being filmed. Once again, I loved the mixing of real life celebrities with the characters in the book. Samson has really outdone herself with this series. I hope that more people will discover about this Hollywood Nobody and make her a Somebody. HIGHLY recommended.

Romancing Hollywood Nobody by Lisa Samson is published by NavPress (2008)

This review copy was provided by a publicist

Thursday, April 29, 2010

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

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 Amish. They are always good reads and just very comforting.

In this story, we meet up with schoolteacher Clara who has the unfortunate fate of being scarred from an accident when she was young. She lives with her mother who seems to overly depend on Clara almost to the point of suffocation. There seems to be no hope for a better life and as the years go by and she gets older, Clara resigns herself to this life. Then Tim, a young man trying to find himself, arrives in their town and everything begins to change. While I found myself liking Clara immediately from the beginning, it really took me a while to bond with Tim. He just got on my nerves at first, I think it might be due to maybe the community he was from being a bit stricter. As it stood, I felt that Clara had a lot more daring in her and was more outspoken. Which is more than I could say about Tim's annoying girlfriend Ruby. Woo, what a...well let's just say there are choice words I could have said about her that aren't very nice.

The story focuses on Clara and Tim's relationship as well as their own personal lives. There's a bit of a drama scene at the end but it ties things together nicely. Also part of the story and returning from the first book in the series is pregnant teen Lilly. I was a tad disappointed at the way her story started off in this book. I just felt that after all the buildup from the first book, it felt like this book was such a downer. Still though, I do like Lilly and I am looking forward to reading more about her in the series. Reading about the Amish culture was lots of fun as well. There's lots of talk about food which I like very much and I would love to go visit the restaurant where Lilly works. I really enjoy Gray's books and I am eager for the final book in the series. If you like Amish fiction and are in the mood for a sweet read, this is a great series.

Spring's Renewal by Shelley Shepard Gray is published by Avon Inspire (2010)

This review copy was provided for a blog tour with the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Book Review: "Rumor Has It" by Jill Mansell

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, something about British chick lit is just the icing on the cake.

This was my first read by Jill Mansell so I wasn't sure what to expect. Even though I have had great success with other British chick lit authors, I was afraid that this might be the doozy. Boy was I was wrong! This book was FABulous. It has all the elements of a chick lit novel but uses them in such a fun way to read. There are several different stories with all the characters but you never get mixed up and everything just flows together. I never felt lost and never got bored with one story. While Tilly and Jack's relationship is the main focus, Erin and Kaye's stories were enjoyable and equally fun to read.

What I really enjoyed is how likable all the characters were. Well, it took me a while to warm up to Stella but I totally understood why she acted the way she did. But all the other characters were just so fun to read about and gave me no reason at all to NOT like them. I liked Tilly's character. I would have adored to have that Girl Friday job and work for Max. He was just a really nice guy and what him and his daughter were offering Tilly for her job was like a dream come true. I also liked how even though he was gay, nothing was stereotyped about him, he just happened to be a guy that was gay and was a dad as well. Also Jack's character had such depth to him, he isn't just the typical playboy.

Now that I've gotten my first taste of Mansell's books, I am so glad that I have several other of her books in my TBR pile. If they are half as enjoyable as this book, I know that I will enjoy them. Chick lit fans will devour this book as I did. It was just a fun way to spend an afternoon when you need a light read to escape the worries of your day. Note: there is some sex and language but nothing is too overly graphic. HIGHLY recommended.

Rumor Has It by Jill Mansell is published by Sourcebooks Landmark (2010)

This ARC was provided by the publisher

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

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

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 reluctantly stitched into their lives, the women discover the possibility that even in sleepy Sweetgum, Tennessee, they can still be the heroines of their own stories.

I have been getting in a knitting craze lately. Not actual knitting mind you (I can't even thread a needle to save my life) but reading about it in books. I've found that a lot of books use knitting as a way to tie together a group of women and tell their stories. The knitting metaphor is used as a way to combine them all together, otherwise separate they just unravel and get destroyed.

This book features six different female characters - all at different stages in their life. Even though they meet once a month for knitting, reading, and fellowship they all have secrets that they are keeping from each other. Some of the secrets are small, while others will destroy relationships. I found Ruth and Esther's stories fascinating as they deal with a woman who is love with a man who loves her back, but is married to her sister who only wants him for status and money. The whole plot line revolving around them was very intriguing as it was a story that had gone on for years and involved betrayal, deceit and misunderstood intentions. Connected loosely to that tale is Camille's story which involves a secret affair where there can never be true happiness. The other stories are woven together beautifully as well. The only thing I was a bit annoyed at was Merry's daughter and how she treated Hannah. I just got annoyed with her throughout the book. I know that Merry was going through her own problems but I was dismayed that she took forever to notice what was going on between the two girls.

I was a bit worried that some of the stories would end up with cliched story lines but was pleasantly surprised at the unexpected resolutions. This book is not your typical Christian fiction book. Not all the characters are Christian. In fact, even with subtle mentions of faith and church issues, this book is comparable to general market women's contemporary fiction. The characters are intriguing and their stories keep you drawn in. I also love books that feature book clubs and it was fun reading about all the great children's classics. I wish I could be a part of the group, except that I would probably have to get someone to knit my stuff for me or just learn really fast. I couldn't put the book down and am eager to read about the group's next adventures, both in reading and knitting.

The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society by Beth Pattillo is published by Waterbrook (2008)

This review copy was provided by the publisher

The Anonymous Bride by Vickie McDonough

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Anonymous Bride
Barbour Publishing, Inc. (April 1, 2010)

by
Vickie 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 right woman ever came along. But then he discovers that the woman who betrayed him is now a widow, and all his plans fall at his feet.

Rachel has carried her guilty shame for eleven years. Her marriage to James Hamilton was not what Luke or the town thought it to be. Now James is dead, and her long-time love for Luke is reignited with his return to town. So when three mail-order brides appear, she panics.

Could they possible find love a second time?

Rachel begs his forgiveness, but Luke finds he has none to give.

And then the brides arrive. Three of them--ordered for Luke through newspaper ads by his incorrigible cousins. The only place in town for them to stay is Rachel's boardinghouse. And none of the ladies is willing to let Luke go. When choosing a bride becomes a contest, the chaos that ensues is almost funny.

When the mayor forces Luke to pick a bride or lose his job, will Luke listen to his heart that still longs for Rachel or choose one of the mail-order brides?

Will Rachel find the courage to tell Luke that she loves him? Or take an anonymous part in the contest for his hand?

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Anonymous Bride, go HERE.

Monday, April 26, 2010

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

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 the "in crowd" and all those silly boys. Plus there's all the worrying about what you're going to do next in life, trying to get into the right college, and choosing the right path so that you will have a good job and career. It's a rough time and I have felt that the Miracle Girls series have perfectly portrayed this tough and memorable point in one's life.

In this book, we finally get the story from Riley's POV. She's been a character that I've found intriguing since the beginning of the story. Outside she puts up a front as a cheerleader who has it all together with her looks, her smarts, and her boyfriend. Inside however she's weak and fragile and worrying about her younger brother who has autism. Throughout the book is Riley's struggle between the two worlds and how she tries to fit in both of them. There is a great deal about dealing with a child with autism in the book which I found educational and enlightening. Also as well is the four friends trying to figure out their future. I could easily relate to trying to keep the old gang together and the finally realizing we have to all split up and go our own ways.

I am so glad that Anna finally mellowed out in this book. While I like her character, she has just drove me nuts throughout the series about her grades. I totally understand her drive to be no. 1 in the class and to get good scholarships, but it was ruining her relationship with her friends. Riley's final outcome, while a bit unexpected considering where she stood in the class, is something that is quite normal in high schools these days. Sometimes you just need a couple of years to figure out what you want next in life.

While I really enjoyed the book, I'm not sure I'm a fan of the cover. I only say this because the girls represented on the cover don't seem to match up with the descriptions of the characters throughout the books. The girl that is supposed to represent Riley seems shorter and more muscular than what I expected a cheerleader like Riley to be. Other than this little qualm, I loved the book. I have enjoyed the series from the beginning and am really sad to see the series end. I know I say this about a lot of books but I really felt as if I connected with the characters and have watched them grow. Reading this series brought back many memories of high school (both the good and bad) and made me wish that I could either relive or change things I had done back then.

I really hope Anne and May will have a new book coming out in the future. As a huge fan of their writing I have read all their books and won't know what to do now that there is no new book in the future! If you are a fan of YA lit and of Christian fiction that tells things like how they really are or even want a trip back to your high school days, the Miracle Girls series are the perfect books for you. This is a series I always recommend and will probably always will. HIGHLY recommended.


BTW when you read the book, be sure to check out the acknowledgments page. I was SOOO geeked to see it!

Love Will Keep Us Together by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt is published by Faithwords (2010)

This ARC was provided by the publisher

Saturday, April 24, 2010

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


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 really quite a good read that will tingle the spine.

What drove me a bit nuts at times was the fact that people were getting mad because they thought they saw her when she said she wasn't there. Interestingly, all the people who thought they saw Laurie never actually talked to her, so I saw no reason as to why they should get mad at her. Just because you think you saw something, even if it was with your own eyes, can't be proven unless you have more concrete evidence.
What I found interesting is that the book ends rather abruptly, in fact in the middle of a sentence. I personally am not sure if that meant the Laurie, as the narrator was just trailing off for dramatic effect or if something happened to her to cut her off. Either way, it's an ending that grabs your attention.

This is another Lois Duncan book that was made into a movie, as this one was just made into a Lifetime movie last year. But from reading the synopsis, it appears that they changed the plot significantly so I'm not sure how true to the story the movie is. However I still would be looking forward to watching it. After reading all these books and catching up on Duncan's novels, I still have to say that Locked in Time is still my all time favorite of her books, but the ones I read for the challenge were all enjoyable. It was really cool going back and discovering one of my favorite authors again.

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Friday, April 23, 2010

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


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 me to really get into the story and understand what these men and women go through every day. The stories are filled with top notch suspense with a touch of romance to make for an exciting read.

I was a bit wary at first about the whole psychic aspect in the story. Not that I don't think that Christians can't have visions about the future, but usually in Christian fiction this plot line can get very cliched. Thankfully, Hannon handles it quite well here. Rachel doesn't normally get these sort of visions and even she has trouble accepting why she's having the experiences. Also they don't seem to something that will plague her for the rest of her life.

This is another book which involves a character who has mental health problems. Debra wants a child so bad that it has affected her thinking to the point where she will kidnap a child. Even though she pretty much creeped me out and drove me nuts with her actions, I felt bad for her especially after finding out how her father treated her. It's sad that she didn't get the help she needed until it was too late. The reporter, Claudia, really got on my nerves because she just sort of showed up in the story and did nothing but cause annoyance for everyone. Plus the fact that she was writing for a tabloid newspaper got on my nerves because she didn't bother to get the facts before publishing her articles. If she really wanted to speak with Rachel or the others she could have handled it a lot better than acting like news craved paparazzi.

The story does get a bit soap opera-ish at a few places because of the dramatic twists and turns that happen. Nothing is over the top but I definitely got the feel of trying to cram a bunch of dramatic elements at one time. My only qualm is that I felt that things were a bit rushed between Nick and Rachel's relationship. It just seemed like they met and then started dating within a few weeks and then things get really serious by the end of the book. I just would have liked more growth between the two. Still though, I really enjoyed the book as I have the others in the series. I felt everything has been tied up in the three books as all the lead men now have found a special someone. I wish there were more but I can settle with waiting for Hannon's new series that comes out next year.

In Harm's Way by Irene Hannon is published by Revell (2010)

This review copy was provided by the publisher

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Book Review: "Wish" by Alexandra Bullen


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 people's true desires really are and see if they use those wishes wisely. I was delighted to read this book because there's another twist to the wish granting story as this time it is a due to a dressmaker who gives the dress wearer wishes through her dresses.

The story also starts off on a sad note as a family is recovering from the death of a daughter and twin sister. Olivia is starting a new life without her sister Violet as her parents have moved to escape the pain and loss of her death. In her new school, Olivia tends to stay in the background not wanting to mingle without her sister by her side. Then due to a party she has to attend for her mother, she discovers a dress shop where she's given a special dress. Unknowingly, she wishes her sister back to life. The majority of the book focuses on Olivia and Violet being reunited but it's not in a spooky ghost way. In fact, it's almost like the Violet there is just a shadow of the Violet who used to be. The girls don't have the adventures that I thought they would have but at the same time what they did do was fun to read. The book does take on a more serious tone than other novels with the same subject matter.

I liked the story but at the same time I felt that there was something missing. I think for me there wasn't much information about the dresses themselves or the dressmaker. It almost seemed like the dresses were just objects in the background and were only mentioned when it came time to perform a wish. The story is not even really about the wishes but more about Olivia finally coming to terms that Violet is dead. And even that, I felt like the storyline between the two of them just got cut off really short. Ironically so was Violet's life so I can understand but at the same time, since it was the main focus of the story I just wish there had been more. Overall I did enjoy the book. For someone who's lost a loved one, these are the wishes that they want, to bring back someone from the dead. The story also shows that one cannot live in the past and be truly happy. You have to live in the present and get on with your life. I'll be looking forward to future releases from the author.

Wish by Alexandra Bullen is published by Point (2010)

This ARC was provided by the Amazon Vine program

Blood Ransom by Lisa Harris

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Blood Ransom
Zondervan (April 1, 2010)

by
Lisa 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 there are currently more than 27 million slaves on the world today from Africa, to Eastern Europe … to the United States of America. The fact is, we don’t have to travel around the world to see people hurting and exploited. They’re real people we pass every day, living in our neighborhoods, and attending our churches and schools. They’re empty and broken, searching for freedom and hope in an often hopeless world.


ABOUT THE BOOK

Natalie Sinclair is working to eradicate the diseases decimating whole villages in the Republic of Dhambizao when she meets Dr. Chad Talcott, a surgeon on sabbatical from a lucrative medical practice now volunteering at a small clinic.

Meanwhile, things are unraveling in Dhambizao. Joseph Komboli returns to his village to discover rebel soldiers abducting his family and friends. Those that were too old or weak to work lay motionless in the African soil. When Chad and Natalie decide to help Joseph expose this modern-day slave trade---and a high-ranking political figure involved in it---disaster nips at their heels.

Where is God in the chaos? Will Chad, Natalie, and Joseph win their race against time?

Romance and adventure drive Blood Ransom, by Lisa Harris, a powerful thriller about the modern-day slave trade and those who dare to challenge it.

If you would like to read the prologue and first chapter of Blood Ransom, go HERE.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Book Review: "Plain Paradise" by Beth Wiseman

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 that predictable and doesn't fall into the cliche of most adoption stories and most Amish stories for that matter. That has been the case with the books in Beth Wiseman's series. They are Amish but enjoyable to read.

There are three main characters in this story who are all closely knit together. Linda is the daughter that binds Josie and Mary Ellen together from two different worlds. I liked Linda's character very much. Throughout the book she shows that she is still faithful to her Amish family and roots but she's willing to see what the outside world is like. She's down to earth and respectful yet is giddy to try out things like taking a bath in a jacuzzi. Josie is her birth mother who is coming to terms with what she did 17 years ago as well as trying to hide a secret of her own. I really appreciated that she did NOT want to take Linda away from the home she grew up in and to leave her faith. Mary Ellen, understandably, is very wary of Linda meeting Josie and is scared that Linda will leave her. I was glad to see both her and Josie grow closer and change character throughout the book.

There's more to the story than just Linda's adoption. Also at hand is her relationship with with her boyfriend who, while a bit wary of her going into the outside world, still has faith that she will remain true to her roots. I was pleased that there was no condemnation or backlash for Linda's decisions. I was a bit surprised at the swimming scene. It seemed very risque to me compared to other books I've read involving the Amish. If they weren't Amish, I wouldn't have batted an eye but seeing how strict they are about other things it's rather surprising.

The only bit I didn't like was at the very end involving Lillian and Samuel. I haven't been a fan of Samuel throughout the series so I wasn't too surprised at his brash decision without explanation. Unfortunately we have to wait until the new series that comes out in the summer to find out what happens to them. Overall, I have really enjoyed this series. This book was probably my favorite out of all four. It embraces both the Amish culture and the outside world and allows them to co-mingle without anyone switching sides or disagreements and without any preachiness or hidden agendas. Beth Wiseman has written a series about the Amish that I have grown to love and do find comfort in reading. I'll be looking forward to the new series.

Plain Paradise by Beth Wiseman is published by Thomas Nelson (2010)

This review copy was provided by the publisher

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Book Review: "The Bride Collector" by Ted Dekker

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 problems. My guess is that I don't like how there is no reason for their madness, no true explanation can be given for what they do. I felt this way about the Joker in The Dark Knight. I want a reason, an explanation, an understanding as to why they are acting this way. When the reason is due to an illness, even though this sounds harsh and unforgiving, I just can't justify it as an explanation.

The story revolves around a serial killer who uses a graphic and unique way to kill women. His justification is that he is killing them because they have become the favorites of God and he is essentially delivering the Bride of Christ. Reading the story from Quinton's point of view was just chilling. Yet to me that was the really interesting part of the story. It was like a car wreck, you can't stop looking even if you feel bad or uncomfortable. He did things I did not expect to happen. There were several scenes I was really surprised to see because I was just not expecting them to happen.

Equally enthralling were Brad's interactions with the mentally ill patients. The characters were all unique and really added to the story. Paradise is the one that stands out the most because she is the one that can really help out Brad. Her story is just as heartbreaking as Quinton's but in a different way. I can't begin to describe the emotions that went through me while reading this book but let's say it I felt like my eyes were being open.

If you can't handle gore or even hard core suspense, I would advise you to stay away from this book. It will probably give you nightmares and make you not want to ever leave you house. Overall, even with my quirks about the book and the fact it took me a while to finish, I really did enjoy this book. Dekker has shown again what a master storyteller he is. He completely kept me enthralled and sucked into the story. Faith is woven into the story but it's not as if it's being preached at you. It makes the story. Also for the record, this book is not classified as a Christian fiction book. If you are in the mood for a good suspense story that will tingle your spine (not trying to be cliched), this book is excellent for you. After reading this book, I can never look at my wedding veil in the same way again.

The Bride Collector by Ted Dekker is published by Center Street (2010)

This ARC was provided by the publisher

Monday, April 19, 2010

Book Review: "Greater Love" by Robert Whitlow

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 the law practice and the cases presented are really interesting. The story is not just about law but the people who create it and are affected by it.

Tami's family is strict and very conservative in their faith but throughout the series, it has been interesting to see her parents letting go of their control over their children. They are still strong in their beliefs but they understand that their children need to be trusted with going out in the world and sticking true to what they were taught. Out of all the books in the series, this is the book where I think they shine the most because Tami has proven that she is able to live in the world and not of it due to their teachings. This is especially true in her relationship with Mrs. Fairmont. I have enjoyed seeing the two of them grow closer throughout the series and I really liked their interactions in this book. I was glad that the book did not end on a downer with their relationship. Also of mention is the love triangle between Tami, Zach and Vance. While it was interesting, I didn't feel as if had as much zing as in the other books. The story involving Jessie was far more interesting as it is Tami's first case after she passes the bar and allows her showcase everything that she has worked hard for.

While I enjoyed most of the story, I did have several qualms. My biggest complaint is Sister Dabney. I did not like her in the second book of the series and I still did not like her in this book. While she may profess and have an actual relationship with Christ, I found her to be a bunch of hocus pocus in this book. Her visions seemed more like magic (especially having the color coded rocking chairs) and I found her to be extremely tact-less. I didn't like the way she treated Shannon especially since the reader never finds out what happened between her and her husband. Also I was very disappointed with how Tami's decision about which law firm to choose played out. She had talked with her parents, gotten outside advice and prayed about where to go when she made her decision. Then on a whim Sister Dabney tells her to do the other, and on that advice alone she changes her mind. It really bugged me because Tami kept saying that God was using Dabney to help her, but she didn't seem to consider what everyone else was saying. Plus for someone who had such strong faith, she never prayed AFTER Dabney told her what to do, just went along with the decision. This just got on my nerves which is sad because otherwise I really liked the book.

Overall, this book is more than a law story and more than a religious story. I really like how Whitlow is able to write as a first person female and does it convincingly. Throughout the series, I have grown to like Tami and her struggle between her family's faith and her desire to fit in her new life. Even though I may not have agreed with everything she believed in, I admired her for sticking to her beliefs and not allowing herself to be put in compromising situations. I believe this is the last book of the series, but if another does come out , I will be anxious to read more about Tami's adventures.

Greater Love by Robert Whitlow is published by Thomas Nelson (2010)

This review copy was provided by the Amazon Vine program

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Blog Tour with Francine Rivers

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 hungry for stories that inspire them, lift them and give them hope. People need to know there are solutions and we can have peace and an abundant life -- even in the midst of trials.

Which is your favorite book of those you’ve written?

My favorite book is Redeeming Love. It was my first as a born-again Christian, my statement of faith, and the most exciting year I’ve spent writing anything. I felt God’s presence throughout the months of work, as though He were telling me His story through thousands of Scriptures as well as explaining the inner heart-ache and quest of each “my” characters.


Tell us about your current work.

I have just completed the second in a set of two books about mother-daughter relationship over four generations. This was intended to be one long novel dealing with the different ways generations have lived out their faith – but became so long it needed to be divided. Her Mother’s Hope was released on March 16, 2010. Her Daughter’s Dream will follow in September. There are numerous family and personal details woven into both books and I plan to share those things on my blog. You may find out more about my new book and more by visiting my web site at www.FrancineRivers.com.


PLEASE NOTE: A complimentary copy of this book was provided to the me as a blog tour host by Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for posting this interview on my blog. Please visit Christian Speaker Services at www.ChristianSpeakerServices.com for more information about blog tour management services.

Friday, April 16, 2010

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

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 length Francine Rivers novel. We've had several novellas that were really good but they just aren't the same as a thick novel from Rivers. Well the wait was worth it. First off this is an almost 500 page tome plus it's the first book in a series so there's going to be more to come.

Many of Francine's books deals with mother-daughter relationships and this book is no exception. In fact this book is about her own family's story, involving her mother and grandmother's tale. As a daughter, and especially the daughter of an immigrant, I could really relate to the story about a mother wanting her daughter to succeed in their new country. I really liked the historical aspects of the story. I felt swept up in the saga and couldn't stop turning pages. For the most part, the story flowed very well and I liked seeing the different viewpoints from Marta and then Hildie.

I did get annoyed with Marta throughout the book. I understand her background and why she acted the way she did. I know that she wanted the best for kids especially for Hildie. I get that she wanted her to be brave and strong and not be a pushover. However, I felt that the way she went about it was all wrong. Throughout the beginning of the book, I could not stand Marta's father and I really thought that Marta would have learned from that. But throughout most of the book, she would act that exact same way towards her daughter. To me it was like it started from the beginning as soon as she was born. It seemed as if Marta loved Hildie because she was her daughter, but she didn't like her. She just really got on my nerves at the way she treated her and the favoritism she would show to the other kids. The only time we get to see the true nature of Marta's actions is in her letters to Rosie and even then they are only little snippets and not very frequent. If she had just told Hildie this from the beginning it would have made everything a lot easier, but pride stood in the way and ruined what could have been a good mother-daughter relationship.

Overall, I still enjoyed the book. Even with my qualms, it's a really engrossing read and takes the reader from Europe to Canada to the US. The reader sees what it's like to be an immigrant family and the hard work that had to be done to see how a family survives. I was especially glad to see talk about the Japanese internment mentioned because as I've said before it's usually glossed over in Christian fiction. My mother is a big Francine Rivers fan as well and she read the book right before I did. She enjoyed it too despite a few problems but we both agreed how immigrants who come to this country have high hopes for their kids. I cannot wait for the next book and luckily we don't have to wait TOO long this time. I think Francine is a key figure in Christian fiction and this book definitely could make the crossover into general market literary fiction.

Her Mother's Hope by Francine Rivers is published by Tyndale (2010)

This review copy was provided by the publisher

Thursday, April 15, 2010

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

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 aren't too mean in this series. In fact, Hazelle is worse than they are! While Savvy may not want to totally get in with their group, it's nice that they accept her as a friend and she's treated with respect. There are also the typical issues that teens deal with such as relationships with parents and respecting rules. It's all handled very well.

These books are targeted at the younger teen crowd but I think that older teens and even adults would enjoy this book. Savvy doesn't act the way other 15 year olds are portrayed in teen fiction. She's quite mature but still knows how to have fun. There's talk about faith in the book but it's not overpowering to the story. I really love this series and I can't wait until the next installments come out later this year. Teen anglophiles will devour this series as I did.

Through Thick and Thin by Sandra Byrd is published by Tyndale (2010)

This review copy was provided by the publisher

Forget Me Not by Vicki Hinze


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 how painful. But will that be enough to save their lives and heal their tattered hearts?

Vicki Hinze is an award-winning author of twenty-three novels, three nonfiction books, and hundreds of articles. Selected for Who’s Who in America in 2004 as a writer and educator, Hinze is active in Romance Writers of America and serves as a Vice President on the International Thriller Writers Board of Directors. Vicki lives in Florida with her artist husband, a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel. Visit www.vickihinze.com to learn more about Vicki’s books, blogs, and writing programs.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

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



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 in book form the story is more fleshed out and doesn't seem rush. I felt that the killer was creepy without being too cliched. The ending was one I didn't see coming and that made me really happy that I couldn't guess it beforehand. I really like the chemistry between Connor and Samantha. It's believable and realistic and they work very well together. As they work to solve the mystery, it's clear that they both need each other to work on the case. Samantha is a very strong woman and doesn't need a man to protect her.

The only problem I had was I wish that Connor had sat down and told Jenna everything that was happening so that way she could be aware of what was going on. Instead he just kept telling not to do this and not to do that, being vague. I understand he was trying to protect her but it would have helped out in the long run if he had been a bit more involved in her life. The book ends on a cliffhanger so be prepared to want to read the next book in the series. Overall I really enjoyed the story. It had the perfect blend of romantic suspense for me - thrilling suspense with just a touch of romance. I really like it when the ratio leans in favor of the suspense. A solid book from Eason and I'm looking forward to book 2!

To Close to Home by Lynette Eason is published by Revell (2010)

This review copy was provided by the publisher

Wildflowers of Terezin by Robert Elmer

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Wildflowers of Terezin
Abingdon 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 further from the truth.

But truth is hard to come by in the fall of 1943, when Copenhagen is placed under Martial Law and Denmark’s Jews—including Hanne—suddenly face deportation to the Nazi prison camp at Terezin, Czechoslovakia. Days darken and danger mounts. Steffen’s faith deepens as he takes greater risks to protect Hanne. But are either of them willing to pay the ultimate price for their love?

To read the first chapter of Wildflowers of Terezin, go HERE.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Book Review: "Finding Hollywood Nobody" by Lisa Samson


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 actors and actresses in her blog and and that she meets because of her grandmother. While there is a chance in the future that all the pop culture references could be dated, for now they really help out the story and allow the reader to really get into it. Scotty is the girl that I wish I could be. She's bold and daring yet still with a reserve quality that most girls her age don't have. I really love how she can be both starstruck and down to earth cool about the celebrities she meets and hangs out with. She's probably one of the most realistic teen girls I've read in fiction. There's no need for extra drama or worry too much about guys which is very refreshing.

There's also a mystery about Scotty and Charley's backgrounds that slowly gets unraveled. Bit by bit we learn more about their past and there are a lot of surprises that I didn't see coming. It's a fun journey that we get to share first hand with Scotty, through her journal, her blog and her diary. Even if you don't like Christian fiction, I really think you will enjoy these books if you are a fan of YA fiction. Great times will be had by all. HIGHLY recommended.

Finding Hollywood Nobody by Lisa Samson is published by NavPress (2008)

This review copy was provided by a publicist

Monday, April 12, 2010

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

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.

Lis Wiehl'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 in what they say and have the power to make the public mad or agree with their views. Jim Fate is one of those DJs and his reputation has build up a loyal audience of those who love and those who hate him. I was really amazed at the hatred that came out of the listeners. It's amazing how much hatred there can be in a person enough to cause harm to someone.

I really liked the book and didn't have any complaints with the story. It's edgy in that it keeps with reality and shows what really happens in the world. The story doesn't shy away from the hard life that is out there and doesn't sugarcoat things to make a happy ending. The characters in this book are flawed because they are human beings. They might do things that others don't approve of but in no way does it detract from the story. There's no talk about faith at all until the very end, and it feels like it was tacked on to show that this is indeed a book published by a Christian publisher. I just didn't feel that vibe from any of the characters throughout the book so it did feel a little fake at the end for it to randomly show up.

Actually the only really big qualm I had was with the endorsements. I totally understand that Lis Wiehl work on Fox News, hence all the endorsements from fellow co-workers, but I totally didn't get the Michael Bolton endorsement? I'm just saying, it would have been nice to have seen some from other authors or readers and not just people that you are friends with. Also this sounds very snarky of me, but I'm curious as to what April Henry's role as co-writer. I just wonder how much of the book she wrote, and how much Wiehl contributed. Other than this, I really liked the book and I'm looking forward to reading the third book in the series.

Hand of Fate by Lis Wiehl with April Henry is published by Thomas Nelson (2010)

This review copy was provided by the publisher

Saturday, April 10, 2010

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

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 scene that involved Nancy's gift was just too short IMHO. I really felt that it could have been expounded on and if it had kept going it would have been really interesting. What is there is really good, it just cuts off. Brendon's gift of music is totally wasted as we barely see any of it in the book. Kirby's gift of dance is there, but it just doesn't make much of a statement to me. I didn't really feel as if I got close with any of the characters.

I was going to write off this book as probably my least favorite of all Duncan's books. I really felt that it could have had really good potential especially with the powers the three had. It just felt that it never really picked up and sorta stalled at the end. However, there was something at the end of the book that I really liked. And it's hilarious about how I didn't catch onto it beforehand. I don't want to spoil it for you but let's just say take note of the family's last name and there's going to be another power. Overall, I think this is good for younger teens as it's not that scary yet there's still some good suspense and a bit of magic as well.


Friday, April 09, 2010

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

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 shown that while it's probably not smart or healthy for Kate or the other teens to drink the energy drinks constantly, they are not really condemned for drinking them. I say this because drinking the energy drinks are not illegal, anyone can get that and they were used for what they were intended for. However, it is good to show that drinking too much of them can be dangerous and it is not healthy to skip meals just to get the best jolt of energy buzz. I also liked how Kate points out to her mom that drinking coffee is just the same as drinking energy drinks and her mother reluctantly agrees.

Again the choice that Kate (and the reader) has to make to determine the outcome is realistic. First, I was actually really pleased/surprised that Kate knew what was being offered to her. I say this because I get so tired of people being clueless when offered things like that. I luckily never had to go through what Kate did but O'Dell makes it easy to see why Kate would be tempted with that decision. We place a lot of pressure on student athletes to do well even more so with scholarship hopes on their shoulders. Luckily the swim coach is not a monster who expects perfection, she just wants the team to do well and work hard. Overall this was another one I enjoyed out of this series. It targets an older audience and gives an example of something that they might face in their life. The book does insert a faith based message near the end, but it shouldn't feel like a sermon. Kudos again to O'Dell for a great addition to the series.

Making Waves by Nicole O'Dell is published by Barbour (2010)

This review copy was provided by the publisher

She Walks in Beauty by Siri Mitchell

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

She Walks in Beauty
Bethany 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 signing with a publisher. In the process, she saw the bottoms of more pints of Ben & Jerry’s than she cares to admit. At various times she has vowed never to write another word again. Ever. She has gone on writing strikes and even stooped to threatening her manuscripts with the shredder.



ABOUT THE BOOK

For a young society woman seeking a favorable marriage, so much depends on her social season debut. Clara Carter has been given one goal: secure the affections of the city's most eligible bachelor.

Debuting means plenty of work--there are corsets to be fitted, dances to master, manners to perfect. Her training soon pays off, however, as celebrity's spotlight turns Clara into a society-page darling.

Yet Clara soon wonders if this is the life she really wants. Especially when she learns her best friend has also set her sights on Franklin De Vries.

When a man appears who seems to love her simply for who she is and gossip backlash turns ugly, Clara realizes it's not just her marriage at stake--the future of her family depends on how she plays the game.

If you would like to read the first chapter of She Walks in Beauty, go HERE.