Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Book Review: "Naomi and Her Daughters" by Walter Wangerin Jr.

Melding biblical accuracy with imaginative detail, Wangerin explores themes of love, faith, grief, and community. While the widow Naomi mourns the deaths of her two adult sons and the shocking murder of a beloved adopted daughter, she ponders the plight of her Moabite daughters-in-law---and makes a decision that will change the course of history.

I adore Biblical Fiction stories. I know that there are a lot of people that don't like them but I personally do. This is because, while yes I do believe the Bible is true, I also see it as a partial history book. There is only part of the story that is told in the Bible. Obviously there is more that took place than what is recorded but since we don't have that on record, we can only speculate on what happened.

The story of Ruth, Naomi and Boaz is one of the most popular stories in the Bible. If you went to Sunday School you know their story. If you've been to a wedding, you might have heard Ruth's vow to Naomi of "wherever you go I will go" used during the ceremony. What I loved about this book is that it takes that familiar story and adds to it but not in a way that compromises the main focus of the story.
I'm not up to par on my biblical history so I'm not sure of the exact research that went into writing this book. However, I did enjoy how the story takes historical events mentioned in the Bible and adds them into the story and wraps them around the familiar story.

The characterizations of Naomi, Ruth and Boaz are different from what is normally portrayed. Naomi is a sad bitter woman who has seen many hardships in her life. Boaz is the same way. I never thought of Ruth being black but apparently that's what the Moabs were so that actually gave a whole other perspective on the story. In all the illustrations of her that I was subjected to in Sunday School, she's always shown as a really pretty Jewish type woman. If you are not familiar with the story of the Levite and his Concubine from Judges 19, I would highly recommend it. It's probably one of the most interesting passages in the Bible. Anyways, that story is used a frame for this story as it connects the characters to that passage of the Bible. It's really fascinating how it all comes together. The scene where Ruth goes to Boaz at night is quite racy, a different change from the sanitized Sunday School version.

I will make note that there are several uses of language throughout the book. While this wasn't a problem for me, for a more conservative reader this could potentially be offensive. I am curious as to why Zondervan did decide to publish a book that could and probably will offend their target audience.

Overall, I really enjoyed this story. As my middle name is Ruth, I've always found a connection with her. Plus her son's name is Obed, which is Debo spelled backwards! The Book of Ruth is also one of the most readable books in the Bible because it actually has a plot and reads just like a story. This book has helped to flesh out the story and give new life to a familiar read. There's lots of discussion to be had after reading this book.

Naomi and Her Daughters
by
Walter Wangerin Jr. is published by Zondervan (2010)

This ARC was provided by the publisher

Monday, November 29, 2010

Book Review: "Faithful" by Kim Cash Tate

Cydney Sanders thought she knew God's plan for her life. She'd marry, have kids, and then snap her body back into shape by doing Tae Bo. But she's celebrating her fortieth birthday as the maid of honor at her little sister's wedding...and still single. Now her life is suddenly complicated by the best man. He's the opposite of what she wants in a husband...and yet, he keeps defying her expectations. Starting with a lavender rose--symbolizing enchantment--each rose he sends her reflects his growing love for her.

Cydney's best friend Dana appears to have the perfect marriage--until she discovers her husband's affair and her world goes into a tailspin. Then there is Phyllis--who is out of hope and out of prayers after asking God for six long years to help her husband find faith. When she runs into an old friend who is the Christian man she longs for, she's faced with an overwhelming choice.

Life-long friends with life-altering struggles. Will they trust God's faithfulness...and find strength to be faithful to Him?

In Christian fiction, the ratio of POC (Person of Color) characters to Caucasian colors is painfully skewed. Therefore almost anytime that I do see a book that focuses extensively on POC characters and is written well, I usually am on it like a hot potato. It doesn't matter to me if the characters are the main focus or if they are part of an ensemble cast. Their culture or lifestyle doesn't even need to be described. All I want is for Christian fiction to accept and realize that there are a lot of POC readers who would love to read more about POC characters in CBA/ECPA fiction.

I haven't read any of Kim Cash Tate's books before but after this one I'm definitely going to have to. Her style of writing is fun to read yet packs a lot of questions to think about after you are done with the book. As the title states, this book is all about the concept of what being faithful really is about. Through three different stories that are connected, the reader discovers the concept of faithfulness in relationships. All three feature women in different stages of relationships and how they maintain a sense of being faithful in each one.

While Cyd's story involving the beginning of a relationship is interesting, the one that caught my attention the most is Phyllis' relationship. Her husband is a non Christian and refuses to share anything with her faith. He tries to discourage her from going to church and raising their children in the same way. Because of this, Phyllis felt like she couldn't really have a true relationship with him. Therefore she finds what she wants in another man. Her scenario brings the question of can a man and woman really be friends without any sexual tension. According this book, it appears to be no but it's a good discussion topic.

The only part of the book I didn't like was Dana's ultimate decision with her husband. This includes a spoiler but I was not very happy with her decision. I felt that she was WAY too easy on him for cheating on her. I could understand if they had counseling for awhile before getting back together but it just happened so fast! And this was AFTER she had reason to suspect him for a second time! Even if I loved my husband that much, I don't know if I could trust him again after that. At the very least I would demand counseling before letting him back into my life completely the way Dana did. This does not mean that my faith in God is any less however. I also wished that something had been done with the woman Scott cheated with. She goes to the same church but apparently does not care at all that everyone knows about what she did. She's very haughty, not sorry and appears to just walk away with nothing on her conscience.

I did find it interesting that as one of the few multicultural fiction books published by Thomas Nelson this is one of the few women's fiction books that did not have any faces on the cover. I don't know what the reason is but I wonder if it was to not alienate any of the readers because it is a POC read. Just an interesting observation. Other than this I really enjoyed this book. As I said the writing is crisp and engaging. I really felt as if I could relate to the characters and I was genuinely interested in them. All in all a great read.

Faithful by Kim Cash Tate is published by Thomas Nelson (2010)

This review copy was provided by the publisher

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Book Review: "The Snowflake" by Jamie Carie

In the wilds of the Alaskan gold rush, 1897, Ellen Pierce discovers a man she didn't know existed and a renewed dependence on God in a place called loneliness. She'd lost everything-family, her closeness with God, her heart - until the crystal blue eyes of a leader of men stepped up and asked her one question. Will she join the trek to Dawson or stay the winter on an ice-locked steamship full of strangers? Buck Lewis is folk lore in the flesh, but his heart has been rendered asunder. In the land of snowflakes two roads converge. Will he choose the road less traveled?

Jamie Carie is always good with combining romance and passion into her stories that make them well written and believable. I have enjoyed her previous books that take historical fiction and put a good love story in them. This book is another wonderful addition to the rest of her works. The focus in this book is on Ellen and Buck, two souls who are joined together by the Alaskan frontier. The romance, while short due to the length of the book, is a highlight of the story as the characters have great chemistry together. I enjoy books set during the Alaskan gold rush especially during winter time. I feel that I can relate to the story better when I read it while freezing.

Ellen's relationship with her brother is a bit frightening. Her brother appears to be either bipolar or at least having severe depression. He doesn't want Ellen to leave him but he hates her as much as he loves her. She refuses to leave because of a promise she made to her mother on her deathbed. Therefore she has prepared herself for a lifetime of unhappiness even though she is very young. I was going to be very sad if this had been the entire plot of the book because 1) I didn't want a guy to come and rescue her and 2) her life sounded miserable and I don't think that I wanted to dwell on that the entire time I was reading. Luckily this situation is taken care of in a way that made me satisfied.

I really enjoyed the dancing girl plot. Every other Christian fiction book I have read that's set during this time condemns these women as "fallen women" so it was really nice to see them in a different light. It's good to see that not everything has to be portrayed as sinful until you get saved.

Overall this was a really nice romantic story. It's not very Christmas-y, more winter-ish if anything. So if you're looking for a holiday story, except for the ending it's not really there. Even though this was a novella, I felt like the characters were fully developed and the story didn't feel as if it was cut short. If you're in the mood for a wintry romantic story that has a lot of depth and heart, this is the perfect read for you.

The Snowflake by Jamie Carie is published by B and H Publishing (2010)

This ARC was provided by the publisher

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Book Review: "Facelift" by Leanna Ellis

Single mom Kaye Redmond is a can-do woman who runs her own business. But her ready smile hides a reservoir of pain. When her ex-mother-in-law, who broke up her marriage, begs to stay with her after a botched face-lift, Kaye relents---and discovers that true healing goes deeper than tacking on a happy face.

You don't read a lot about plastic surgery in Christian Fiction. I guess unless it's absolutely necessary, it appears to be a taboo subject or either it happens to someone who doesn't have a lot of faith. In this book, while having the procedure done is a central part of the story, it is both the person who does gets the work done AND a person who didn't who both become affected by this act.

To be honest, I got annoyed A LOT at Kaye during this book. I can understand that there may have been a part of her that still loved her ex husband and was hoping that he would come back. However there were some scenes that had me wanting to scream at her. I could not understand exactly why though she wanted Cliff back in her life. Every scene that he was in just screamed of obnoxious and uncaring. I mean he dumps his own mother on his ex-wife and then has the gall to get annoyed with her for dating someone else even though he had cheated on her! Marla, the mother in law, is a whole other story. The part about her and Kaye that I did not like, is that Marla insults Kaye and apparently has been doing this for years. Kaye seems to be a doormat and just takes it even though she's 1) not her daughter in law anymore and b) she's taking care of her when no one else would!

The character that I did like best was Kaye's daughter, Izzie. She's very frank with her feelings about her father and while she has to have a relationship with him, neither does she try to excuse what he has done. She's the same about her grandmother as well. While she does have one drama moment involving her hair, for the most part I wish that Kaye would take lessons from her daughter. The swim-athon was a wonderful and touching idea and even more so that the idea came from teenagers.

Overall, except for Kaye, I did enjoy this book. I've heard good things about Ellis' writing so I was excited to read it. I was happy that this was a Christian fiction book that did not condemn a person who was divorced from remarrying or making them wait until their ex-spouse had died. The romance that is presented here is sweet and I did enjoy seeing Kaye's and Jack's relationship spark and grow. Maybe I'm not the target audience for this book so that might be why this one did not hit the mark, but it won't turn me away from reading more of Ellis' books.

Facelift by Leanna Ellis is published by B and H Publishing (2010)

This ARC was provided by the publisher

The Lightkeeper's Bride by Collen Coble


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Lightkeeper's Bride
Thomas Nelson (October 19, 2010)
by
Colleen Coble


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Author Colleen Coble’s thirty-five novels and novellas have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Romance Writers of America prestigious RITA, the Holt Medallion, the ACFW Book of the Year, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers’ Choice, the Booksellers Best, and the 2009 Best Books of Indiana-Fiction award. She writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail and love begin with a happy ending.

A word from Colleen: God has been faithful, though the path has not been easy. Nothing worth doing is ever easy. God wouldn’t let me give up, and I like to think the struggle made me stronger. God has given me so much in my life, most importantly my great family, a loving church family at New Life Baptist Church, and my wonderful publishing family at Nelson Books.

ABOUT THE BOOK

A thrilling romantic mystery set in the lush Victorian age.

Central Operator Katie Russell's inquisitive ways have just uncovered her parents' plan for her marriage to wealthy bachelor Bartholomew Foster. Her heart is unmoved, but she knows the match will bring her family status and respectability.

Then Katie overhears a phone conversation that makes her uneasy and asks authorities to investigate. But the caller is nowhere to be found. Mysterious connections arise between the caller and a ship lost at sea.

Against propriety, Katie questions the new lighthouse keeper, Will Jesperson. Then a smallpox epidemic forces their quarantine in his lighthouse. Though of low social status, Will's bravery and kindness remove Katie's suspicion and win her love. Katie and Will together work to solve the mystery of the missing girl and the lost ship as God gives the couple the desire of their hearts.

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

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Book Review: "Hatteras Girl" by Alice Wisler

There are two things twenty-nine-year-old Jackie Donovan asks God for: an honest, wonderful man to marry, and to own a bed-and-breakfast in the Outer Banks region. In the meantime, Jackie works for Lighthouse Views magazine, writing articles about other local business owners, and intrepidly goes on the blind dates set up by her well-meaning but oh-so-clueless relatives.

There's one specific property Jackie dreams of purchasing: the Bailey Place, a fabulous old home where Jackie spent many happy childhood afternoons, a place that has now fallen into disrepair because of its outrageous price tag. When Jackie meets handsome Davis Erickson, who holds the key to the Bailey Place, Jackie is sure God has answered both her prayers. But as Jackie learns some disturbing details about Davis's past, she begins to question her own motivation. Will she risk her long-held dreams to find out the truth?

I grew up in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia,which includes Virginia Beach. The Outer Banks is about an hours drive away. Interestingly though, I have been to the Outer Banks more times than I have Virginia Beach. I would go with friends and either stay at their parents houses or when we got older we would rent houses ourselves. It's one of the most relaxing ways to be spend a week in the summer. This is part of the reason why I enjoyed reading this book so much. I knew where Jackie was and I could relate to the entire experience because I've done it myself.

Most of the story is devoted to Jackie's quest to finding the guy of her dreams and acquiring the house of her dreams. Throughout the story she finds herself in different situations trying to fulfill both these conquests. Along the way she also has to encounter helping out her friends. I love how she's very realistic about some things. For example, she gets really annoyed at her friend's young son at times. It's nice to know that not everyone loves children 24/7 and that yes sometimes kids do get away with things they aren't supposed to and adults just let them. Another situation happens near the end of the story when Jackie gets very irritated with a guy and just barely resists hitting him because he was incredibly obnoxious. There were times though when I wanted to scream at Jackie because it seemed that she was ignoring the warning bells that were kinda obvious involving one of the guys she liked. But it happens to almost all of us so it's forgivable.

Something that I found very interesting about this book is that Jackie is half Asian, Korean to be specific. I found this interesting because none of this is indicated on the cover or in the description. Jackie's last name is not Asian and the girl on the cover looks like she is Caucasian. During the story it is brought up several times. I think only once it mentions her appearance, the other times it is because of her mother. While I greatly appreciated that Jackie's ethnicity is not a main focal point and is treated as just an every day thing, the only qualm I had was the treatment of her mother. Jackie's mom is Korean and is shown talking with a typical Asian accent. This means saying stuff like "Why this no good for you?" Personally I HATE it when characters talk like this. While it might be true that some Asian immigrants do talk like this, I find it very annoying. To me it's almost like the exaggerated "slave talk" during the Civil War. Sometimes it gets very stereotypical.

Other than this I enjoyed this book. It's a good relaxing romantic beach read. While it's not as "literary fiction style" as Wisler's previous books, I did enjoy how she's able to write well in this genre. This is a great book to read during cold winter days as it will take you far away, to the warm days of summer and to imagine you are back on the beach.

Hatteras Girl by Alice Wisler is published by Bethany House (2010)

This review copy was provided by the publisher

Monday, November 22, 2010

Book Review: "City of Tranquil Light" by Bo Caldwell

Will Kiehn is seemingly destined for life as a humble farmer in the Midwest when, having felt a call from God, he travels to the vast North China Plain in the early twentieth-century. There he is surprised by love and weds a strong and determined fellow missionary, Katherine. They soon find themselves witnesses to the crumbling of a more than two-thousand-year-old dynasty that plunges the country into decades of civil war. As the couple works to improve the lives of the people of Kuang P'ing Ch'eng— City of Tranquil Light, a place they come to love—and face incredible hardship, will their faith and relationship be enough to sustain them?

I absolutely adored reading this book. When I first started reading this book, I could have sworn it was a non fiction memoir. It was hard to believe that it was a fictional account. It is inspired on the lives of the author's grandparents but it's written so convincingly that I could have sworn I was reading the actual accounts of Will and Katherine.

The story is written from Will's point of view with excerpts from Katherine's diary inserted to flesh out the entire story. The reader is taken along for the journey of a lifetime - from Will and Katherine's decision to become missionaries, their journey to China, the beginnings of their mission work, their falling in love, expanding their mission work and all the hardships and celebrations that happen along the way.
Because we see the two different points of view, it's interesting to see certain scenes from both sides and the different reactions and feelings the couple had.

I also loved reading about China during this time period. It is before communism takes over and we get to see the country change. It's very refreshing to read about the culture and lifestyle from an American point of view that doesn't want to change the Chinese people. China becomes a part of Will and Katherine's life to the point that when they come back to the US for a furlough they feel uncomfortable and longing for the simple life back in China. When they do come back for good, they find a Chinese church where they can continue to speak the language and be with those they are most comfortable with.

Even though this book talks about faith and Christianity, as it is published under a general market publishing imprint, it's not a Christian fiction book. I find this interesting because reviews for this book seem to be mainly positive from people that don't normally read Christian fiction. Somehow though, I have a feeling that if the book had been published by a Christian publisher and general market readers read it, the response might not have been so positive. Either way, it shows that readers DO enjoy reading stories about faith. It never feels preachy at all. While the two are passionate about their faith, it never feels as if they are inflicting any of it to the reader intentionally.

This book was an absolute joy to read. It skillfully combines a love story, historical fiction, international culture and a story about the power of faith. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys any of those factors. It's a beautiful read and I applaud Caldwell for bringing the story to life. HIGHLY recommended.

City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell is published by Henry Holt and Co. (2010)

This review copy was provided by the publisher

Sunday, November 21, 2010

My Library Reads No. 1

Twitter is the be all and end all when it comes to finding inspiration. Today I mentioned on Twitter that I read more YA than most people think. While I do review some YA books on my blog, I normally don't get a lot to review. However I am a YA fiend and I constantly am borrowing them from the library. But since I don't review library books, no one ever knows that I read them. I think over the course of the year I've probably read at least 150 YA books. That's just a guesstimate, I'll do a year end post later with final stats and findings.

Anyways as I was saying, I posted this on Twitter and then Amy from My Friend Amy came up with the brilliant idea that I should do posts to highlight my library reads since I don't review them. This was mainly due to the fact that until I actually told her this, she had no idea that I had read some of the Blue Bloods series by Melissa de la Cruz. While I write up all the titles on my 2010 reads, I realize that not everyone checks that list on a regular basis. So thanks to Amy, I think I will do these posts. They will probably be weekly depending on if I do get to read anything from the library that week. I should have thought of this ages ago but it's better to be late than never. These won't be reviews, but just brief comments on whatever I read.

So without further adieu, the first installment of My Library Reads:

Spotlight by Melody Carlson (Zondervan, 2010)

Christian Fiction - YA: 4th book in the On the Runway series. Have enjoyed this series very much. Really love how Carlson uses actual fashion designers in these books. Got a bit annoyed with Paige but still looking forward to rest of books in series.



Fundraising the Dead by Sheila Connolly (Berkley Prime Crime, 2010)

Cozy Mystery: First book in Museum Mystery series, since I am a history major who focuses on museums and archives this book was right up my alley. Loved all the details about what goes on behind the scenes in the archives. Mystery was good. Although a bit bothered in the book that a recent undergrad graduate can get a job in a museum very quickly and I still can't.


Steamed by Jessica Conant-Park and Susan Conant (Berkley Prime Crime, 2007)

Cozy Mystery: First in Gourmet Girl mysteries. Read as part of Fall Reading Challenge. Good mystery, lots of talk about food which is always a plus.


Yuletide Protector by Lisa Mondello (Steeple Hill, 2009)

Christian Fiction - Romantic Suspense: Actually pretty good for LI Suspense. Not the best but the characters were realistic and the romance believable. The plot involving ex husband who hires to kill ex wife was very interesting. Read as part of Fall Reading Challenge.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Book Review: "Nightingale" by Susan May Warren

Esther Lange doesn’t love her fiancé—she’s trapped in an engagement after a mistaken night of passion. Still, she grieves him when he’s lost in battle, the letters sent to her by the medic at his side giving her a strange comfort, so much that she strikes up a correspondence with Peter Hess, an Iowa farmboy. Or is he? Peter Hess is not who he seems. Indeed, he’s hiding a secret, something that could cost them both their lives, especially when the past comes back to life. A bittersweet love song of the home front war between duty and the heart...a battle where only one will survive.

While reading this book, the first thought that came to my mind was that it reminded me of the book Summer of My German Soldier. As far as I can remember this is one of the other few books that dealt with the subject of German POWs working in the fields of the US. Therefore I found it very interesting and wanted to learn more about the subject. Esther and Peter's story is bittersweet. Both of them have histories that are not pleasant to talk about and ones that they would rather forget. Unfortunately due to choices made from their history, they find themselves in the situation they are in today.

While Esther's story is worth telling and intriguing, I personally found Peter's to be the more standout of the two. This is mainly because he was unwillingly placed in his situation. Some of the choices he made were his alone, but others were due to his parents or being swept up with the general public. The circumstances that brought the two together were nothing but providential and seeing how much they had to go through to meet is worthy of a romantic story.


While I enjoyed the book for the most part, I was slightly disappointed with the ending. Call me cynical but sometimes I don't need a completely happy ending. Life isn't always going to end up the way we want it to and it always feels a bit forced to me when a happy ending is tacked on at the end. Therefore that's how I felt when I finished reading the book. I was actually almost hopeful that things weren't going to turn out the way I thought they would be but alas the very last pages ruined my theory. I also got a bit frustrated by Esther in the beginning of the story. I was annoyed that she would not open the letter from Linus. Instead she just kept coming up with theories and worrying herself instead of finding out the actual truth. I just wanted to rip open the letter myself.

Even though this is the second book in the Brothers of Arms series, there is absolutely no connection as far as I could tell, therefore this book is a complete standalone. I enjoyed the book very much despite some things I had problems with throughout the story. It's a good World War II read and gives a different perspective and topic from most other novels of the same time period. While it's not my favorite Susan May Warren read, I still recommend it for her fans as it's a great blend of history and romance.

Nightingale by Susan May Warren is published by Summerside Press (2010)


This review copy was provided for a blog tour with LitFuse Publicity


For other stops on the blog tour, click here.

Contest: Nightingale is about letters, the power of written correspondence to convey thoughts and emotions to those far away. And sometimes near. Letters are forever, they are something we savor and pull out to read again and again. They are often cherished and kept in a special place.

To celebrate the release of Nightingale, Susan would like you to write a letter. One grand prize winner will receive a Flip HD Camcorder. 5 runner's up winners will win a signed copy of Nightingale.

There are two ways to enter the contest by writing letters.


1. Write a letter to a soldier. At the end of the contest we’ll print out and mail your letter for you.


2. Write a letter to a friend, loved one, family member, enemy. Tell them something you wished you’d told them before. Tell them you love them, or maybe how they touched your life. Perhaps an apology is in order or a thank you. Or perhaps you'd like to relate a funny tale or just share life. Whatever it is, submit it here along with your email address and we’ll send it for you.


Enter
here or at the SHARE page on the Brothers in Arms website.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Book Review: "The Silent Order" by Melanie Dobson

When his partner is murdered, 1920s detective Rollin Wells goes into hiding. Taking refuge in an Amish home in Sugarcreek, Ohio, he works to discover who in the police force is collaborating with Cleveland's notorious mob. But when he befriends a young Amish mother named Katie, will he unearth an even more shocking secret?

This is not your average Amish book. In fact, I really don't consider this an Amish book at all. Yes one of the main characters is Amish and lives in an Amish community. However the main focus of the book is on the 1920s Italian American gangster crime families so prevalent during this era. It's an absolutely different look at the Amish culture than most other books are focusing on and it was greatly appreciated by this reader.

The story focuses on Rollin Wells who is a detective that finds himself among the Amish at Sugar Creek in Ohio. He soon finds out that there is a connection between the family he is staying with and the Cardano family, well known for their gangster activity. Wells finds this even more intriguing because of a personal connection he had with the daughters of the Cardanos. Katie is a young Amish mother who carries a secret and is surprised with Rollin comes into her life. Their interaction and relationship throughout the story was done very well. I could see the mystery and intrigue between the two of them as well as a growing chemistry. I thought I knew the secret but I was wrong. The eventual outcome of the story is sad. All I will say is that crime is not the way to go and will never lead to a happy ending.

This book included a line that I wish either every Amish book would realize or even the Amish themselves would come to understand. There's a scene in the book where Rollin gently confronts one of of Katie's Amish relatives for not wanting to help protect and defend his family from evil men but he will use a gun to protect his sheep from wolves. Rollin tells him that "God gave us the ability to protect our women and children from men like the Cardanos, and I believe it's more important to keep them safe than to keep coyotes away from chickens or cows." Reading that line literally made me stop reading and cheer. What he said is so true. I totally understand the Amish way of life that they are passive and don't want to seek revenge and I respect that. However I have read accounts where they would rather allow their families to be hurt physically but they will save their own livestock. If they are doing this in accordance to God's word, then didn't God say that humans were more important than animals? I just though this section of the book was so interesting and I wish more Amish books would incorporate this thinking in their stories.

Overall this is a really good historical fiction story with some romance added to it. Dobson has taken a unique spin on the Amish fad and put it in a time period that I personally am fascinated with. I really enjoyed learning while reading this book about the history of area and of the crimes that were taking place during then. It's an absolutely fascinating read and I would love to read more stories that are like this. Summerside Press has a winner with this historical read.

The Silent Order by Melanie Dobson is published by Summerside Press (2010)

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

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Book Review: "The Double Cross" by Clare O'Donahue

Nell Fitzgerald and the Someday Quilts ladies are asked to lead a quilting workshop at a new bed and breakfast in upstate New York. However, the retreat quickly takes an unexpected dark turn. When a body is found in the woods, and one of their own is the chief suspect, the ladies must rely on their craftiest thinking as they embark on their most personal case yet.

With smart, sassy Nell leading the charge to clear her friend's name and find the real murderer, The Double Cross is sure to confirm Clare O'Donohue as a master of the mystery genre.

This was probably my favorite book of the entire series. This story takes the characters away from Archers Rest and to a quilting retreat workshop. I personally like it when characters are pulled away from their norm and set in a brand new environment. It gives the reader the chance to see if they will act the same or if a brand new personality will appear. I loved seeing the women interact with the new characters introduced. From old high school flames to trickster twins, the new folks add a lot of color to the story.

I had no idea who the killer was. I had several guesses while reading but I ended up being wrong! This was because there are so many red herrings that pop up that you think, Oh this is so easy to guess, and then you find out that you picked incorrectly. Unlike the last book, where I stopped caring about who the killer was, this time I was fully invested in the story. Another side plot that is crucial to the story is Jesse and Nell's relationship. I can't say I'm too happy with how things ended here. I'm hoping that things will change in future books but according to interviews with the author they probably will not.

I really loved this book and I can't wait to read more in the series. My interest in actually learning to quilt has not been piqued because of this series but I will say that learning about quilting has been very educational. I admire those who are masters of this craft and I greatly appreciate the beautiful work that that they do. This series has skillfully blended quilting and mystery together with a touch of chick lit. Looking forward to the next adventure!

The Double Cross by Clare O'Donahue is published by Plume (2010)

This review copy was provided by the publisher

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Book Review: "Christmas at Harrington's" by Melody Carlson

Christmas is approaching, and Lena Markham finds herself penniless, friendless, and nearly hopeless. She is trying to restart her life after false accusations landed her in prison, but job opportunities are practically nonexistent. When a secondhand red coat unexpectedly lands her a job as Mrs. Santa at a department store, Lena finally thinks her luck is changing. But can she keep her past a secret?

What's one of the ways I know that the holiday season is soon upon us? By reading a Christmas novella from Melody Carlson. For the last few years, she's written a new Christmas read each year to help readers get into the holiday spirit. They've all been different but all achieve the same goal: bringing a little Christmas cheer and letting the reader know what is the true spirit of Christmas.

This was a sweet Christmas story. I thought it was a nice spin to focus on people who play Mrs. Claus as opposed to reading about Santas all the time. Reading about former FEMALE convicts is also a topic I rarely see talked about in Christian fiction so that was a nice change of pace. I enjoyed reading Lena's story and seeing how she made an impact in people's lives. Starting from her meeting a new friend on the bus to those at the house she is staying at, to the diner she ate at and the children she meets while working, Lena manages to touch the lives of everyone she meets. Even though she thinks lowly of herself, it's obvious that others don't feel that same way.

I was actually a bit surprised of the outcome that happened to Lena's ex-husband. I was totally prepared for him to get away with everything and for Lena to just have to keep suffering for all the wrong doings that had been subjected to her. It made me sad that her parents died before ever discovering the truth about what really happened. Even if she had made peace with herself, I wouldn't be surprised if Lena will always feel some hurt that her parents chose not to believe their own daughter.

Overall, this book is a sweet read. While a little predictable at times, I still enjoyed it mainly because it's written very well and I found myself sucked into the story. I wish that there could be more to the story and we could find out out what will happen to Lena in the future. For now, it's a great way to get into the holiday mood and also a fun way to give Mrs. Claus her due.

Christmas at Harrington's by Melody Carlson is published by Revell (2010)

This review copy was provided by the publisher

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Book Review: "A Drunkard's Path" by Clare O'Donahue

In the sleepy town of Archers Rest, Nell Fitzgerald is finishing her first quilt and preparing for her first date- with Police Chief Jesse Dewalt. When Jesse stands her up, it turns out he has a good reason-the body of a murdered young woman has been discovered near the Hudson River.

Meanwhile the members of Nell's quilting circle encourage her to take drawing classes with the famous artist Oliver White. When Nell's professor meets her grandmother Eleanor, owner of the Someday Quilts shop, he seems instantly smitten. But once another woman's body is found outside her grandmother's home under a blanket of snow, Nell begins to patch together clues and follow a path of evidence that suggests her professor may also have a degree in the art of murder.

After reading the first book in the series, I was ready to return to Archers Rest and hang out with Nell and the rest of the Someday Quilts gang. I really had enjoyed my first adventure with them and I was looking forward to reading more about them and solving a new mystery. As this is the second book in the series, there is less introduction in the book and the murder for the mystery happens pretty much right away. There's a lot of twists and turns involving circumstances to the murder and the reader is completely clueless as to what is going to happen next.

Jesse and Nell's relationship is also a key part of the story. They seem like they are meant to be together but each finds out that there are major differences that could prevent them from having a healthy relationship. The reader also sees Nell try out an art class where she develops friendships with her fellow classmates as well as the renowned art teacher who finds sparks with Nell's grandmother. I really enjoyed reading these side stories in the book. The mystery is the main focus but the side stories really help to develop the characters.

While I enjoyed the story, near the end of the book I kind of lost interest in solving the actual mystery. The other stories in the book seemed more interesting to me. When the killer is actually revealed, I will be honest I could not figure out who they were and had to flip back in the book to find them. The buildup for the mystery was good but then I felt the resolution fell flat a little. However, the rest of the story is good. I really enjoyed the relationships that were introduced and those that continued in this book. This goes for romantic, friendship and family relationships. As in the first book, while quilting is a big part of the story it's not threatening to those who are non-quilters. I do like this series very much and am looking forward to more adventures with Nell in Archers Rest.

A Drunkard's Path by Clare O'Donahue is published by Plume (2009)

This review copy was provided by the publisher

Monday, November 15, 2010

Book Review: "Blood of the Prodigal" by P.L. Gaus

In the wooded Amish hill country, a professor at a small college, a local pastor, and the county sheriff are the only ones among the mainstream, or "English," who possess the instincts and skills to work the cases that impact all county residents, no matter their code of conduct or religious creed.

When an Amish boy is kidnapped, a bishop, fearful for the safety of his followers, plunges three outsiders into the traditionally closed society of the "Plain Ones."

This is the first Amish book that I have read that is not faith based, meaning it's not from a Christian publisher. Therefore the story is a lot different from those that are from a Christian point of view. There were two main differences from what I could tell while reading. First off, while religion is a part of the story due to the Amish culture it is not a main focal point at all. The other is that there is no romance in this book. Almost all the Amish books in Christian fiction have romance as the core focus of the story, meaning it is really a romance story first and using Amish culture as the backdrop.

Because of the different perspective that this book had, I did not know what to expect while reading. I was very surprised that I was completely enthralled and sucked into the story. The characters were written very well and were not stock characterizations. I didn't feel the Amish to be stereotyped at all. In fact, from reading this book it made me want to learn more about the culture and gave me a different view of their way of living than I have from other Amish reads. The mystery was very good as well. Pastor Troyer and Professor Branden are the only English outsiders allowed to work on the case therefore they had to use different tactics that most mysteries would normally rely on. The whole story was actually rather sad as it involves a family matter that never really went the way it could have been. The ending seemed a little rushed
but it's a good mystery when everything is solved.

If you are interested in learning more about the Amish but don't want those that are faith-based or with romance in it, this book is a good starting place. Also if you are mystery fan, these are a good addition to your collection with the unique background and culture. I'm looking forward to reading the other books in this series and personally I think this is how I like my Amish fiction to be more like in the future.

Blood of the Prodigal by P.L. Gaus is published by Plume (2010)

This review copy was provided by the publisher

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Chronicle Books Giveaway


This just in: Chronicle Books is having an AWESOME giveaway. They are giving away a set of books up to $500 to a lucky blogger AND that same list to someone who comments on their blog! That's up to $1000 worth in books! Chronicle Books is an independent publisher of distinctive books and gifts. If you haven't seen any of their books before, check out their website. You will drool.

If you know me even a little bit, you will know that three of my biggest passions in life are Star Wars, The Beatles and pugs. And guess what? Chronicle Books has books about ALL THREE!!! Check out this insanely wonderful list below. If, by the grace of God, I happen to win there will be major shrieking heard for miles around across the DC Metro Area. And if I win, I hope the lucky blogger who wins likes all three as well because then you will be my best friend forever because apparently you have excellent taste as well. Some of these books have been on my wishlist forever or I've been drooling over them in bookstores.

Without futher adieu...the best list ever:

Star Wars Chronicles: The Prequels by Stephen J. Sansweet, Pablo Hidalgo

For the true Star Wars fan, it doesn't get much better than this mammoth compendium in its evocative die-cut slipcase: a companion to the volume that covered the original trilogy and a visual tour through the final three Star Wars films. Photographs, behind-the-scenes production stills, early sketches, computer renderings, outtakes, and more from Lucasfilm's archives deconstruct Episodes I, II, and III—every vehicle, character, planet, and plot line is examined. Featuring more than 3,000 out-of-this-world color images, an insider's-perspective text, and production specifications, this is a gorgeous tribute to the most successful movie saga of all time.

The Star Wars Poster Book by Stephen J. Sansweet and Peter Vilmur

One of the very first Star Wars posters had no images at all—just enormous block letters that announced, "Coming to Your Galaxy This Summer: Star Wars." The rest is history. Now, 28 years later, the 350 most amazing Star Wars movie posters are collected for the first time. This compilation spans the surreal to ultra realistic, the campy to darkly serious: Darth Vader's head exploding in a shower of camera parts; Anakin Skywalker casting an ominous Sith shadow; C-3PO and R2-D2 selling Star Wars shoes; Luke and Vader in mortal battle aboard the Death Star. Classic posters are joined with text by the world's foremost Star Wars collector, Stephen Sansweet, and poster collector Peter Vilmur, behind-the-scenes stories from artists and designers, a scarcity guide to over 2,000 posters, and a bootleg identification guide. Exploding with color, The Star Wars Poster Book illuminates an unexplored corner of Star Wars history.

Obsessed With Star Wars by Benjamin Harper

Even the most die-hard Star Wars fans will find themselves challenged by this entertaining new approach to the details of the saga. This fourth volume in the popular, addictive Obsessed With series again includes an innovative scoring module right in the book, so a player can select questions by number or at random and keep score. With 2,500 original questions covering little known facts, entertaining quotes, and tough trivia from all six episodes, Obsessed With Star Wars will have readers dominating the galaxy in no time.

The Art of Star Wars: The Clone Wars

The imaginations and passions of a whole new generation of Star Wars fans have been ignited by The Clone Wars—the new animated TV series from Lucasfilm; over 8 million viewers tuned in to watch the series' debut on Cartoon Network. This richly illustrated book is the only publication about the art and making of the popular series, giving fans a behind-the-scenes look at the immensely talented Lucasfilm Animation team and its groundbreaking work.


The Wildlife of Star Wars

Now in paperback, this deluxe field guide offers a unique look at the creatures that populate the Star Wars galaxy. Packed with hundreds of detailed and colorful illustrations of exotic entities in a wide array of habitats—from the ice fields of Hoth and the pastures of Naboo to the concrete jungle of Coruscant—this entertaining and comprehensive classic also provides information on the mating habits, feeding patterns, and defense mechanisms of these incredible beasts.


Wookie Cookies: A Star Wars Cookbook by Robin Davis

Boba Fett-Uccine and Princess Leia Danish Dos are just the beginning when the Force is with you in the kitchen. Wookiee Cookies is your invitation to fine culinary experiences in the Star Wars frame of mind. From C-3PO Pancakes to Jedi Juice Bars, this intergalactic Star Wars cookbook features healthy snacks, delicious dishes, sweet treats, and easy main courses no Rebel can resist. With hilarious photos and safety tips for cooking on Earth as well as in most space stations, Wookiee Cookies even includes a sheet of shiny Star Wars stickers. Age is no issue when it comes to Star Wars cuisine-kids as well as adults will have a great time with this book. Whether you drove to your first Star Wars flick or just had your fifth birthday, there's no reason you can't whip up some Crazy Cantina Chili at near light speed.


The Star Wars Cookbook II: Darth Malt and More Galatic Recipes by Frankie Frankeny and Wesley Martin

Even the pickiest of Gungans will eat their fruits and veggies when Bubble City Salad and Boss Nass Broccoli are on the menu. With this exciting new sequel to the best-selling The Star Wars Cookbook: Wookiee Cookies and Other Galactic Recipes, Star Wars fans of all ages can cook up more out-of-this-world fun. From razor-toothed Opee's Sea Crunch (for fish fillets with a real bite) to Darth Double Dogs (doubling as a light saber you can eat!), this intergalactic Star Wars cookbook features healthy snacks, delicious dishes, sweet treats, and easy main courses no Rebel can resist. Featuring hilarious photographs and recipes and wipe-clean pages, The Star Wars Cookbook II even includes a shiny plastic stencil of Darth Maul to help decorate culinary creations. And age is no issue when the Force is with you-adults as well as kids will have a great time with this book.

I Me Mine by George Harrison

Cherished by fans and collectors since its first publication in 1980, I, Me, Mine is now available in paperback. The closest we will come to George Harrison's autobiography, it features George in conversation with The Beatles' spokesperson Derek Taylor, discussing everything from early Beatlemania to his love of gardening. The lyrics to over 80 of his songs, many in his own hand, are accompanied by his uniquely intimate and humorous commentary. Fifty archival photographs of George with The Beatles and solo capture a journey of creative and spiritual transformation. Brimming with the wit, warmth, and grace that characterized his life, and with an introduction by his wife, Olivia, I, Me, Mine is a treasured portrait of George Harrison and his music.

Lennon Legend by James Henke

Presented in a handsome slipcase, Lennon Legend is both an illustrated and an interactive biography of the creative genius - songwriter, artist, social activist - who changed his times. Created with the cooperation of Yoko Ono Lennon, who has opened her archives for this project, the book offers insightful details about every era of John's life, from his early days at art school to the height of Beatlemania to "Imagine." A live recording of that song is included, along with several interviews of John talking about his life and art, on the audio CD contained in this package. Throughout, the book features archival photographs and reproductions of John's handwritten song lyrics, drawings, memorabilia, and personal papers. In all, 40 removable facsimiles can be enjoyed by the reader, several previously unpublished, including an intimate self-portrait in pen and ink and a plea for world peace. It's been said that John Lennon's was the voice of a generation. Lennon Legend celebrates that voice's power to resonate across the generations.

Postcards From the Boys by Ringo Starr

Whenever John, Paul, or George went on a trip, they would send Ringo a postcard. Now, for the first time, Ringo Starr is opening his private archive to share this delightful and very intimate correspondence. Whether it's John advising Ringo to record a "great & simple" song like Blondie's Heart of Glass, Paul and Jane Asher dropping a note from Rishikesh to report on their meditation lessons with the Maharishi, or George writing from the Great Barrier Reef to confirm plans for Christmas dinner, each postcard is a warm and personal snapshot of life in (and after) The Beatles. The 51 postcards -- many of which are covered in whimsical drawings -- are colorfully reproduced, both front and back. Ringo's droll commentary fills in the blanks, though he does confess that at times he had to consult the Internet for details! Often funny, occasionally bittersweet, and always revealing, Postcards from the Boys is a must for Beatles lovers.

The Beatles Anthology by The Beatles

Created with their full cooperation, The Beatles Anthology is, in effect, The Beatles' autobiography. Like their music has been a part of so many of our lives, it's warm, frank, funny, poignant and bold. At last, here is The Beatles' own story.

Port-a-Pug

Port-a-Pug has all the perks and benefits of real dog ownership without the exhausting cleanup or the expensive upkeep. Easy to assemble, easy to transport, difficult not to adore.

One last item to add if non book-ish related items are allowed:

If my calculations are correct than the total of all this will come up to $499.72. Yes I wanted to get as close to $500 as I could. Is this not the most awesome list ever? *crossing fingers*

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Movie Review: "The Social Network"

Before I start my review of the movie, here are my brief thoughts about Facebook. When I was in college, AIM was THE thing. We were obsessed with creating the perfect away messages and listening to that DING! That was how we social networked back in the day. I didn't join Facebook until 2006. I was currently using MySpace at the time and didn't feel like switching. I didn't join earlier because I didn't want to do what everyone else was doing. When I did join, it was only open to college students. I'm sorry to everyone who uses it now, but I honestly miss those days. Now everyone is using Facebook, like my dad for example so sometimes I have to be careful about what I share.

When I heard about this movie coming out, I will admit that I didn't really have any desire to see the movie. Even though I am a Facebook user, did I really want to see a movie about Facebook? Therefore even pretty much until a few weeks before it came out, I was still skeptical about the movie. But then I was hearing raves from critics about the movie. And I knew that David Fincher's movies are always great. And even more outrageous? That Justin Timberlake's acting was Oscar worthy. Ok that alone sold me. So I went along with my usual partner in crime whenever I got to the movies, my younger sister who informed me that she was one of the early users of Facebook.

A bit of fluff here: The men in this movie are HAWT (well except for Jesse Eisenberg, sorry!). Andrew Garfield is hot...and he wears black a lot which is a good look for him. Justin Timberlake, well it's JT, no need to say anything else. But Armie Hammer who plays the Winklevoss twins (well another guy plays the body of one of them, more on this later) is drop dead gorgeous. Seriously, just drool worthy. Alas he is married (well so am I but you know) so to all the girls out there who developed instant crushes, their hearts will be dashed. I bring this up merely to point out that even though I know these people are actors, it's nice to portray smart guys as being attractive and not the nerd/geek stereotype Hollywood loves to normally portray them.

It's hard for me to explain at how good this movie is. I soon found out it's not a movie about Facebook but it's about the people who created Facebook and their relationships. It's an incredibly depth character study. The acting is superb. Andrew Garfield is the standout of this movie. His portrayal of Eduardo Saverin is outstanding. A movie review described him as the everyman who gets betrayed which is exactly how he acted. You could not help but root for him, feel his pain and then relish in his final say. Justin Timberlake is really good in his role as Sean Parker. He loses himself in the role which was good because at first I just kept seeing JT. Armie Hammer has the distinct role of playing The Winklevoss twins BUT he is only the head of Tyler Winklevoss. Josh Pence plays his body. There is some excellent CGI work going on there because you could not tell this at all. Favorite line of the movie from him: "I'm 6'5in, 220 lb and there are two of me!" Jesse Eisenberg also stands out in his role as Mark Zuckenberg. I have no idea if Zuckenberg is that way in real life but it appears that he seems to have Aspergers. Either way, throughout the story, I felt really annoyed with him but at the same time in awe of his genius. I hated the way he treated Eduardo but I could see why he was being lured to bigger things. Eisenberg is extremely effective in portraying him.

I realize that this is probably the flimsiest review I've done on here, but I really enjoyed this movie. I normally do not see dramas like this in theaters, especially one that is pretty much all dialogue. But I will have to say that this is the best $10 I have spent on a movie in a long time. When Oscar season comes, I am 95% sure this movie will be up for several awards - Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor for Andrew Garfield (I've heard talk that JT and Hammer might have shots at nominations as well) , Best Director and Best Picture. Almost everyone I've talk to that's seen the movie has said how much they liked it. It's the story of my generation.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Book Review: "Amy Inspired" by Bethany Pierce

Amy Gallagher is an aspiring writer who, after countless rejections, has settled for a career as an English professor in small-town Ohio just to pay the bills. All her dreams suddenly start to unravel as rejections pile up--both from publishers and her boyfriend. But just as Amy fears her life is stuck in a holding pattern, she meets the mysterious, attractive, and unavailable Eli.

She struggles to walk the fine line between friendship and something more with Eli, even as staying true to her faith becomes unexpectedly complicated. When secrets, tragedy, and poor decisions cause rifts in Amy's relationships, she must come to terms with who she's become, her unrealized aspirations for her life, and the state of her faith. Can she dare to hope that she will find love and fulfillment despite it all?

Sometimes I don't think I fit the targeted audience for a Christian fiction reader. I mean, I'm a 20 something Asian American recently graduated college student who lives in a big city. That's not usually who reads Christian fiction. In fact, I think I only know one other person who fits that bill. Hence, my view of what Christian fiction should be is drastically different from what the typical Christian fiction reader is. I regularly look for books that I feel I could introduce to a non Christian fiction reader and that they would enjoy. This usually means I end up liking books that don't explicitly or even talk at all about Christianity, Jesus, the Bible or church at all. I do want faith to be evident in the story, whether by actions or as an allegory but it doesn't mean that there has to be a sermon reading or preaching done at you everywhere you turn in the book.

Having said all that, I absolutely adored this book. Why did I love this book so much? Because this is one of those books that I honestly feel that someone who does not normally read Christian fiction would enjoy. The story is written extremely well, the plot I feel is totally believable and I felt that the characters were those anyone could relate to, no matter what their faith was.


Amy is a someone who I think almost everyone can relate to. She's a young 30ish professor who is only doing her job because she can't get into the profession she really wants which is writing. She went and got her master's degree specifically so she could get into that field but all she's getting back are rejection letters. Therefore to make ends meet, she's teaching English to budding writers. Reading her story made me feel like I was looking at my own life. I pretty much have done with Amy did. I got my master's degree in history so I could pursue a career as a historian but instead all it's gotten me so far are student loans and rejection emails from jobs saying I'm qualified but not qualified enough. I could relate to her frustration and her moods of feeling down about herself. I also appreciated her willingness to get out of the funk and live even though it wasn't what what she wanted to do.

The other characters in the book really add zeal to the story. Amy's roommate Zoe got on my nerves sometimes (as well as Amy's) but she has another side to her as well. I liked Amy's mom, with her mixed up words and penchant for caring for Amy. The other very interesting character is Eli, whose story is one to feel for after reading. I really liked his character and could have read a book just on him alone. Other smaller characters like Amy's students contribute to the plot as they all come together to help to describe Amy.

This is not your typical Christian fiction book. There are scenes in the book that conservative readers will probably not like. I found them rather tame compared to the stuff that's in general market fiction but others might see them as offensive. I instead saw it as realistic and something someone in our age group, whether they are Christian or not, could be doing. There is one scene involving Amy and Eli that I did find a little questionable simply because I thought it was a little out of place but I can see why it's included in the story in regards to how their characters were

This was my first book from Bethany Pierce and I want to go back and read anything else that she's written as well as any future books from her. Her writing has totally re-energized me and I really want others to read this books. There's something for everyone in here: aspiring writers, contemporary fiction fans, and those of faith based literature. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Amy Inspired by Bethany Pierce is published by Bethany House (2010)

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

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Book Review: "The Lover's Knot" by Clare O'Donahue

Nell Fitzgerald is thrilled when she receives a gorgeous handmade quilt in a lover's knot pattern from her grandmother Eleanor as an engagement gift. Her joy is short-lived, however, when her fiancé announces he's calling off the wedding. Heartbroken, 25-year-old Nell flees New York City for her grandmother's home in quaint Archers Rest. In this small town Eleanor's life revolves around her quilt shop, Someday Quilts, and the members of the shop's quilting circle.

When the body of a local handyman known for his flirting is found in the quilt shop, murdered with a pair of quilting scissors, Nell finds herself drawn into the case— and drawn to the handsome police chief. As a pattern of clues begins to emerge, one of the prime suspects is Nell's ex-fiancé, whose arrival in Archers Rest seems suspicious. The ladies of the quilting circle continue to piece together their quilts as Nell unravels the mystery.

This book was different from most other cozy mysteries that I have been reading this past year. For one, the main character is a lot younger, more professional and not as bumbling. The mystery doesn't even come into play until about halfway into the story. It's refreshing to instead read more about the characters and not immediately dive into trying to find out whodunit. The town of Archers Rest sounds like a wonderful place to visit. It's just the type of refreshing location that Nell needs to heal after her fiance deals her the words no one wants to hear.

While the other focus of the book aside from the mystery is quilting, it's not really a quilting book. If you know nothing about the craft, you won't feel lost while reading. There's talk about quilting but it's nothing that will go over the head of a beginner or a non fan. I was worried that there would be technical jargon that I wouldn't understand but luckily there isn't.

The only part of the story that I didn't like was Nell and Ryan's relationship. I didn't like the guy from the start of the book and when he reappears later in the story my opinion hadn't improved at all. In fact it got worse and as the story went on, my feelings were justified. I just didn't like how Nell handled herself around him. I understand her actions due the situation she had just gotten out of but that doesn't mean that I thought they were smart actions.

Other than this, I really enjoyed the story. It's a nice change of pace from your typical cozy mystery with mostly likable characters and a really intriguing plot. The mystery is very well done and I didn't know who it was until right before the killer was revealed. Nell is my age so I felt at times that I could relate to her. I really like her grandmother as well as the other women in the quilting club. I'm looking forward to more adventures with these new friends as well as learning more about quilting.

The Lover's Knot by Clare O'Donahue is published by Plume (2008)

This review copy was provided by the publisher