Psalm 27:1

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Lonestar Angel Book Review

SUMMARY: Eden's hope is rekindled when Clay delivers astounding news:  their daughter has been found.
     Five years ago Eden and Clay Larson's baby was stolen and never found.  Eden blamed herself, Clay lost himself in work.  Their young and rocky marriage ended.  Or so Eden thought.
     Now Eden's moved to a new town.  She's found faith and is trying to rebuild her life.  She's even dating again - a sweet guy who plans to marry her someday.  But then Clay arrives out of the blue and delivers shocking news: they are still married.  What's more, Clay has been searching for Brianna all this time.  And he believes he's found her:  their daughter is in Bluebird, Texas, at a youth ranch.
     To uncover the truth, Eden and Clay sign on as counselors at Bluebird Ranch.  Working together, they rediscover their love for each other.  But danger is closing in - Eden, Clay, and their young charges are in jeopardy.  As they fight to save their family, Eden realizes that God has been fighting for them all along.  And His plans are for a more abundant life than they've dared to hope.

REVIEW:  As Eden searches for her daughter, her past comes back looking for her.  The closer she and Clay get to figuring out which of the girls belongs to them, it looks like someone from her years in foster care or her "new-found" family is involved in her daughter's kidnapping and disappearance.  The story's ending is not predictable.  About the time I thought I had everything figured out, something changed.  The book ended in a surprising but awesome way.  This is a great book and one that kept me turning the pages, not wanting to put it down.

This book was provided by Thomas Nelson Publishers/Booksneeze for review without compensation.

RITA-finalist Colleen Coble is the author of several best-selling romantic suspense series, including the Mercy Falls, Lonestar, and Rock Harbor series.  She lives with her husband, Dave, in Indiana.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

God Makes Lemonade Book Review

True Stories That Sweeten & Inspire

SUMMARY:  Do you know someone who needs some encouragement.?  Perhaps that someone is you.  In God Makes Lemonade you'll read stories from everyday folks - people like you and me who discover unexpected sweetness in the midst of sour circumstances.
     Some of these real-life stories are laugh-out-loud funny, others are sobering, and more than a few will have you reaching for a tissue.  But these true stories all have one thing in common: hope.
     There's no question that life gives us "lemon," like issues with health, employment, and relationships - truly sour circumstances we wouldn't wish on anyone.  But when those lemons become lemonade, it's as refreshing as an ice-cold drink on a hot summer day.

REVIEW:  This book is made up of a bunch of short stories and is very similar to the popular Chicken Soup series.  Like the summary mentions, all of these stories have one thing in common:  hope.  You see the struggles families and individuals go through with the death of a family member, a serious injury or illness, the birth or death of a child, etc.  You also see how God comes through the sour spots in life, when you feel like you can't be squeezed any more and makes something completely sweet and refreshing.  This book is good to read all at one time or in short snippets and is very enjoyable.

This book was provided by Glass Road Public Relations for review without compensation.

Don Jacobson's twenty-five years in publishing included serving as the president and owner of Multnomah Publishers, where he oversaw the production of more than 1000 titles and the sale of more than 100 million books.  Now Don and his wife, Brenda - who has been mentoring mothers for more than a decade - are excited to encourage readers everywhere with God Makes Lemonade and support single moms through the LemonAid Foundation.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Jefferson Burke and the Secret of the Lost Scroll Book Review

SUMMARY:  Can a 2,000-year-old manuscript change the course of the world?
     Does a scroll written by Joseph - the earthly father of Jesus - reveal evidence that Christ's birth was not divine?
     History professor Jefferson Burke is skeptical, but his intellectual curiosity and a murder charge force him into a dramatic chase that tests his body, mind, and heart.  The former-college-athlete-turned-college-professor is dogged every step of the way by billionaire Bruno Krueger, whose ultimate desire is to destroy the nation of Israel.  And Krueger is sure the scroll is the key.
     In this battle of good versus evil, Burke finds a remarkable ally in FBI agent Lisa Marie Cho.  Their life-or-death trek takes them from an Illinois prairie to an ancient monastery in war-torn Afghanistan.  As Burke and Cho dodge bullets, they unravel a myriad of clues that date back to the beginning of Christianity, linking a long-dead monk, King Henry VIII, Thomas Jefferson, and Adolph Hitler to the words written by a first-century carpenter - words the Vatican feels might transform the Christian faith from a religion to a philosophy.
     Will these words that the ancient church tried to destroy, Thomas Jefferson once hid, and Hitler wanted to reveal change your view of the Christian faith?  You won't know until you've turned the final page!

REVIEW:  This book is like Indiana Jones meets Robert Langdon (from The Da Vinci Code) meets Jonathan Weber (from The Constantine Codex).  Action, suspense, mystery, and history (plus a little romance) - this book has it all.  The chapters are short but they are packed full.  The story moves quickly but not too fast so the reader doesn't get lost.  The author keeps the reader in suspense until the very last page about the contents of the mysterious scroll (and it is SO worth it!).  This is a great book.  I would recommend this for anyone and everyone!!

This book was provided by Zondervan for review without compensation.

Ace Collins is the author of more than sixty books, including several best-sellers:  Stories behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas, Stories behind the Great Traditions of Christmas, The Cathedrals, and Lassie: A Dog's Life.  Based in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, he continues to publish several new titles each year, including a series of novels, the first book of which is Farraday Road.  Ace has appeared on scores of television shows and networks, including CBS This Morning, NBC Nightly News, CNN, Good Morning America, The History Channel, A&E, and Entertainment Tonight.

The Opposite of Art Book Review

SUMMARY:  A great artist is cast into the icy Harlem River by a hit-and-run driver.  His heart stops, and he sees something that defies description.  Presumed dead by all who knew him and obsessed with the desire to paint the inexpressible, he embarks on a pilgrimage to seek help from holy men around the globe.  But is it possible to see eternity without becoming lost within it?  After a quarter of a century, when the world begins to whisper that he may be alive, two people come looking for the artist:  the daughter he never knew existed and the murderer who hit him on the bridge all those years ago.

REVIEW:  Ridler's pursuit of painting "Glory" takes him all over the world, talking to holy men and trying to understand the different religions in hopes he can capture what it was he saw while in the river.  After many years of study and questions, each times he becomes disillusioned and is still unable to put this image to canvas.  While he is off in his pursuit, his daughter becomes a famous art critic concerning his previous paintings (in his death, his painting from before have become major and very expensive collectables).
    The way the author shows the depth of Ridler's religious study in his pursuit of the unattainable and how each time the "religion" fails him is different from anything else I've read.  One thing I found troubling was when Ridler chose to study Christianity, no mention of Jesus is made except in reference to the Shroud of Turin.  His focus was on the art of the images of God, not the study of Christianity itself.  I like how the author brought the people in the story full circle.  This was an interesting book, not one I normally read but good.

This book was provided by Glass Road Public Relations for review without compensation.

Athol Dickson is the author of seven novels and the bestselling memoir The Gospel According to Moses.  His novels of suspense and magical realism have been honored with three Christy Awards and an Audie Award and have been compared to the work of Octavia Butler (by Publishers Weekly) and Flannery O'Connor (by The New York Times).  He and his wife live in Southern California.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Shadows on the Sand Book Review

A Seaside Mystery

SUMMARY:  She serves him breakfast at her cafe' every morning ... but he never seems to notice her.  
     Carrie Carter's small cafe' in Seaside, New Jersey, is populated with a motley crew of locals ... although Carrie only has eyes for Greg Barnes.  He's recovering from a vicious crime that three years ago took the lives of his wife and childern - and from the year he tried to drink his reality away.  While her heart does a happy Snoopy dance at the sight of him, he never seems to notice her. 
     When Carrie's dishwasher is killed and her young waitress disappears, Greg finds himself drawn into helping Carrie solve the mysteries ... and into her life.  But when Carrie's own painful past becomes all too present, her carefully constructed world begins to sink.  
     Will the fragile relationship she's building with Greg implode from the weight of the baggage they both carry?

REVIEW:  This is a good book.  I like Carrie's character.  As a sixteen-year old, she runs away with her ten-year old sister from a drunk mother and her horrible boyfriends to Seaside.  She takes full responsibility for Lindsay, working as a waitress then becoming owner of Carrie's Cafe'.  She is strong but loving towards her customers and friends.  I like how the author shows Carrie's faith towards others, a quiet but secure faith that she relies on when things get tough.  Even though the relationship between Carrie and Greg seems to take off abruptly, I like how it evens out in the end. 
     The only problem I had with this book is that it switches from first person to third person quite often.  When the author is writing for Carrie, she writes in the first person and you can see her thoughts and concerns.  When the author switches to Greg, Harl or one of the other characters, it is written in the third person.  It took me a bit to get use to these changes.  In my opinion, it would have been better just to write all of it in the third person with insights to the character's thoughts, feelings, and ideas instead of switching back and forth.
This book was provided by Waterbrook Multnomah for review without compensation.

Gayle Roper, a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America, is the multi award-winning, best-selling author of Fatal Deduction and more than forty other books.  She teaches and leads mentoring clinics at writers conferences across the country.  Gayle lives in eastern Pennsylvania.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Necessary Deception Book Review

The Daughters of Bainbridge House

SUMMARY: When young widow Lydia Gale helps a French prisoner obtain parole, she never dreams she will see him again.  But just as the London Season gets under way, the man presents himself in her parlor.  While she should be focused on getting her headstrong younger sister prepare for her entrance into Society, Lady Gale finds herself preoccupied with the mysterious Frenchman.  Is he a spy or a suitor?  Can she trust him?  Or is she putting herself and her family in danger?
      Discover a world of elegance and intrigue, balls and masquerades as Laurie Alice Eakes whisks you into the drawing rooms of London Society on this exciting quest to let the past stay in the past - and let love guide the future.

REVIEW:  Things I liked about this book were the mixture of spies, mysterious visitors, blackmail and London's High Society.  Having the storyline extend over a series of months instead of days made it seem more realistic.  The characters were likable and believable.  Lydia's struggles with her family were ones I could relate to - a headstrong sister who doesn't care about the rigid rules London Society and the era place on women; another sister's struggles with wanting to stretch her wings and problems with her fiance; an ailing mother and absent but overbearing father - all while trying to figure out her role in the spy game she was tricked into playing and wondering about her feelings for Christien. The ending was good and the spy was not at all who I suspected.
     This is the first book in "The Daughters of Bainbridge House" series.  It will be interesting to see what becomes of Cassandra and her fiance, Honore and her high spirits, and Lydia and Christien and how their stories play out.

Available October 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Laurie Alice Eakes is the author of Lady in the Mist as well as several other novels.  She won a National Readers Choice Award for Best Regency in 2007 for Family Guardian.  Laurie Alice writes full time from her home in Texas, where she lives with her husband and sundry dogs and cats.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

No Wonder They Call Him The Savior Book Review

Discover Hope in the Unlikeliest Place

SUMMARY:  The Cross.
It rests on the timeline of history like a compelling diamond ...
its tragedy summons all sufferers ...
its absurdity attracts all cynics ...
its hope lures all searchers ...
Far more than a gold-plated symbol of religious belief, the cross is the centerpiece of the Christian faith - the meeting place of time and eternity, where God and man encounter each other.
     Max Lucado leads you through the drama of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ ... bringing to life Peter's denial, Pilate's hesitancy, and John's loyalty.  Relive the events leading up to Jesus' crucifixion, from the foggy garden of Gethsemane to the incandescent room of the resurrection. 
     Jesus' darkest hours.  Mankind's highest hope.  They hang together on the cross for all eternity, leaving no doubt why they call him the Savior.

REVIEW:  Max Lucado has hit the ball out of the ballpark again.  I have the gift book copy of this book and was interested in the complete novel.  Infusing humor, seriousness, and stories that help you comprehend even the most complex ideas and problems, the author makes the cross and all its complexities easier to understand. He helps you make sense of why Jesus endured this horrible death and how those who followed Him found grace, hope and mercy when they failed miserably.  Get this book!!!  You will NOT be disappointed!!

This book was originally released by Multnomah Books in 1996 and has been re-released by Thomas Nelson Publishers.

This book was provided by Thomas Nelson Publishers (Booksneeze) for review without compensation.

With more than 100 million books in print, Max Lucado is one of America's most widely read authors.  He and his wife, Denalyn, live in San Antonio, Texas, where he serves the Oak Hills Church.  Visit his website at

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Diary of a Teenage Girl [Becoming Me] Book Review

Caitlin No.1

SUMMARY:  January 1, 2000  10 p.m.    "I used to think that being fifteen was bad...  Well, let me tell you, being sixteen isn't exactly a walk through the mall either.  And so far, I think today's been about the worst day of my entire life..."
     Follow Caitlin O'Conner, a girl much life yourself, as she makes her way from New Year's to the first day of summer -- surviving a challenging home life, changing friends, school pressures, an identity crisis, and the uncertainties of "true love."
     You'll cry with Caitlin as she experiences heartache, and cheer for her as she encounters a new reality in her life:  God.  See how rejection by one group can -- incredibly -- sometimes lead you to discover who you really are...

REVIEW:  This book is written as diary entries, giving you a glimpse of Caitlin's personal thoughts and observations.  You see her struggles with friends and boyfriends, feel her anger towards her dad, and experience her confusion about doing the right thing and wondering exactly what that is.  She struggles with God and His role in her life; wrestling with her decision to follow Christ and how it impacts her actions (and how it doesn't).  Caitlin's "diary entries" reminded me of my struggles in high school and how I wished I had God in my life at that time to give me more direction.  This is a great book for teenagers and their parents.  I think it could open doors that might otherwise be closed between them.  This is the first book in the five book series on Caitlin O'Conner.  For a list of all the Diary of a Teenage Girl series (I've read one other but there are sixteen total), check out Melody Carson's website.

This book was provided by Glass Road Public Relations for review without compensation.

Melody Carlson is an award-winning author of more than sixty books for teens, women, and children.  She enjoys an active lifestyle of hiking, skiing, and boating in the beautiful Oregon Cascade Mountains with her husband, two sons, and a chocolate Lab.  For more information about Melody or her books, check out her website at

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Measure of Katie Calloway Book Review

SUMMARY:  Her heart seeks sanctuary in the deep woods.  But will trouble find her even here?
     The Civil War has ended, but in Katie Calloway's Georgia home, conflict still rages.  To protect herself and her young brother from her violent and unstable husband, she flees north, finding anonymity and sanctuary as the cook in a north woods lumber camp.  The camp owner, Robert Foster, wonders if the lovely woman he's hired has the grit to survive the never-ending work and harsh conditions of a remote pine forest in winter.  Katie wonders if she can keep her past a secret from a man she is slowly growing to love.
     With grace and skill, Serena Miller brings to life a bygone era.  From the ethereal, snowy forest and the rowdy shanty boys to the warm cookstove and mouth-watering apple pie, every detail is perfectly rendered, transporting you to a time of danger and romance.

REVIEW:  Katie is much stronger than she appears.  She and her brother Ned leave with the clothes on their backs, a little money and a horse when she finds a trap set by her husband to kill her.  Katie finds work as a cook at a lumber camp in the deep woods of Michigan, where she has to deal with a cantankerous cook and making numerous large meals to feed all the men, all the while praying her husband doesn't find her.  She stands up for herself when needed but quickly helps out those in need at the camp and a lone Indian woman and baby.  Katie is the type of woman we all need to strive to be:  strong but soft, generous but not willing to be run over.  This is a great book.

Available October 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Serena Miller is the author of Love Finds You in Sugarcreek, Ohio, as well as numerous articles for periodicals such as Woman's World, Guideposts, Reader's Digest, Focus on the Family, Christian Woman, and more.  She lives on a farm in southern Ohio. Check out her website at

Monday, October 3, 2011

Falling to Pieces Book Review

A Shipshewana Amish Mystery

SUMMARY:  In this first book of a three-book series, author Vanetta Chapman brings a fresh twist to the popular Amish fiction genre.  She blends the familiar components consumers love in Amish books - faith, community, simplicity, family - with an innovative who-done-it plot that keeps readers guessing right up to the last stitch in the quilt.
     When two women - one Amish, one English - each with different motives, join forces to organize a successful online quilt auction, neither expects nor wants a friendship.  As different as night and day, Deborah and Callie are uneasy partners who simply want to make the best of a temporary situation.  But a murder, a surprising prime suspect, a stubborn detective, and the town's reaction throw the two women together, and they form an unlikely alliance to solve a mystery and catch a killer.
     Set in the well-known Amish community of Shipshewana, Falling to Pieces will attract both devoted fans of the rapidly-growing Amish fiction genre, as well as those who are captivated by the Amish way to life.

REVIEW:  Callie just wanted to get away from the memories and stress caused by her husband's death, the loss of their child, and her job.  Going through and packing up the quilt shop her Aunt Daisy left her in Shipshewana seemed the perfect escape.  Deborah, Melinda and Esther needed Callie to keep the shop open and sell their quilts so they would have extra money for expenses caused by a husband's death and the illness of a child.  Instead, a murder causes the friendship of Deborah and Callie to develop, which will be needed when things get rough.  
     When I got this book, I wasn't sure what to expect.  An Amish Mystery sounded interesting and it was.  There is not a lot of gore that is so popular nowadays but a lot of suspense and trying to figure out who did it and if and when they would be caught.  I really enjoyed this book and, like it says in the summary, it keeps you guessing right up to the end.  If you like a good mystery and/or you like the Amish genre of books, I think you will be pleasantly surprised.  I can't wait to read the other two books.  I already have possible plot lines and relationships forming in my mind.

This Advance Reader Copy was provided by Zondervan for review without compensation.
Vannetta Chapman holds a BA and MA degree in English and has published over one hundred articles in Christian family magazines, receiving over two dozen awards from Romance Writers of America chapter groups.  She published an Amish novel with Abington Press called A Simple Amish Christmas.