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?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Noble Groom Book Review

SUMMARY:  Annalisa Werner's hope for a fairy-tale love is over.  Her husband failed her in every way, and now his death has left her with few options to save the family farm.  She needs a plentiful harvest.  That, and a husband to help bring it in.  Someone strong, dependable.  That'll be enough.  A marriage for love . . . that's something she's given up on.
     So her father sends a letter to his brother in the Old Country, asking him to find Annalisa a groom.
     Then a man appears:  Carl Richards, from their home country of Germany, and a former schoolteacher - or so he says.  He's looking for work and will serve on the farm until her husband arrives.
     With time running out, she accepts Carl's help, but there's more to this man than he's admitting.  He's also gentle, kind, charming - unlike any man she's ever known.  But even as he is shining light into the darkness of Annalisa's heart, she knows her true groom may arrive any day.

REVIEW:  The concept of a mail-order groom is unique and interesting.  The idea of marrying a total stranger, especially when you have no choice in the matter, is a foreign idea to us nowadays but in 1881, it was acceptable.  Annalisa's husband died and she needed help with her farm.  Since there were no eligible men in their area, her father suggested seeking one from home.  Annalisa did not get to pick who her husband would be.  She just hoped he wouldn't beat her like her sister's husband did and steal from her like her own husband had done. 
     The contrasts in Carl's life are numerous.  He goes from having the best of everything to working in the fields from sunrise to sunset while also helping with the other farm chores.  He goes from having plenty to eat at every meal to having to shoot wild game himself and hoping there would be enough food to feed him, a pregnant Annalisa and her daughter Gretchen. Used to having money readily at his disposal, Carl now faces the threat of watching Annalisa lose her farm to a local thug or to the banker if they don't harvest enough crops to pay off her loan.
     This is a wonderful book.  It made your heart go out to both Carl and Annalisa with the troubles they face.  This is one to put on your "must read" list.

This book was provided by Bethany House for review without compensation.

Jody Hedlund is the best-selling author of Unending Devotion and The Preacher's Bride, which won the 2011 Inspirational Reader's Choice Award and the 2011 Award of Excellence from the Colorado Romance Writers, and was a finalist for Best Debut Novel in the 2011 ACFW Carol Awards.  Jody loves hearing from readers on Facebook and on her blog at

Gone South Book Review

SUMMARY:  The charm of the South drew her back to her family's roots.  But when the town's old resentments turn the sweet tea bitter, can Tish find a welcome anywhere?
     Leaving frosty Michigan for the Deep South was never a blip in the simple plans Tish McComb imagined for her life, dreams of marriage and family that were dashed five years earlier in a tragic accident.  now an opportunity to buy her great-great-great-grandparents' Civil War-era home beckons Tish to Noble, Alabama, a Southern town in every sense of the word.  She wonders if God has given her a new dream - the old house filled with friends, her vintage percolator bubbling on the sideboard.
     When Tish discovers that McCombs aren't welcome in town, she feels like a Yankee behind enemy lines.  Only local antiques dealer George Zorbas seems willing to give her a chance.  What's a lonely outcast to do but take in Noble's resident prodigal, Melanie Hamilton, and hope that the two can find some much needed acceptance in each other.
     Problem is, old habits die hard, and Mel is quite set in her destructive ways.  With Melanie blocked from going home, Tish must try to manage her incorrigible houseguest as she attempts to prove her own worth in a town that seems to have forgotten that every sinner needs God-given mercy, love, and forgiveness.

REVIEW:  Old hurts run deep in Noble, Alabama and forgiveness is hard to come by, even for a newcomer like Tish.  The town holds the actions of Tish's great-great-great-grandparents against her, even though she only knows them through letters and an old picture.  Melanie Hamilton made a lot of mistakes, some with good intentions, and the town and her parents aren't quick to forgive and forget.  I like how Tish looks past Mel's appearance (she's been homeless and on the road for weeks) and her past and offers her a place to stay, friendship and a chance to redeem herself.  I like how George steps out of his comfort zone at the risk of his business to help Tish and Mel by offering friendship and a job.  Most of Tish's neighbors seem unfriendly, but, after she steps out of her comfort zone to try to meet them, they are actually friendly and accepting.  One of my favorite parts is when Tish tries to help Melanie by giving back a watch that she allegedly stole from her dad.  When it looks like it backfires, Tish's actions actually helps Melanie mend the broken relationship with her brother.
     This is an excellent book showing the reader that the past can be overcome, even if it isn't yours.  This book would be a good one to put on your summer/vacation reading lists.

This book was provided by Waterbrook Multnomah for review without compensation.

Meg Moseley is still a Californian at heart although she's lived more than half her life in other states.  Holding jobs that ranged from candle maker to administrative assistant, Meg eventually contributed human-interest columns for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  Contemporary fiction remains her real love, and she's the author of When Sparrows Fall.  She lives with her husband in Atlanta near the foothills of the southern Appalachians.  

The Dog That Talked to God Book Review

SUMMARY:  Sometimes the least expected can be the most amazing.
     Recently widowed Mary Fassler buys a Miniature Schnauzer, Rufus, and her world is turned sideways in the midst of her grief.  It seems that Rufus speaks.  And not just to her.  He also talks to God.
     When Rufus begins sharing advice that could result in major life changes, Mary gets the feeling the pooch might not be steering her in the right direction.  Or is she just afraid to take a leap and discover something she desperately needs?  Only Rufus - and God - knows.

REVIEW:  This book was okay but not what I expected. Having read The Cat God Sent, I had an idea what Rufus might be like.  But he was nothing like Petey's character.  Where Petey seemed educated regarding people and social events and issues, Rufus was completely clueless and had to have Mary explain a lot of things which he still couldn't comprehend.
     The book was written in first person narrative, which was interesting but that may have been the most interesting part.  Rufus didn't seem to give advice as much as suggested in the Summary.  He often had questions for Mary but did make some suggestions when asked questions.  For example, after a friend of Mary's suggested she go out on a date (Mary has been widowed for about three years), Rufus agrees with the friend when Mary asked his thoughts.  He did help Mary from making a mistake when things started getting serious between Mary and her date one evening.
     This was an okay book and might be good for summertime or vacation reading.

This book was provided by Litfuse Publicity Group for review without compensation.

Jim Kraus is a longtime writer and editor who has authored or coauthored 20 books, both fiction and nonfiction.  His best-selling humor book, Bloopers, Blunders, Jokes, Quips, and Quotes, was published by Tyndale, sold more than 40,000 copies, inspired several spin-off books.  Jim and his wife, novelist Terri Kraus, have one son and live in the Chicago area.

The Cat That God Sent Book Review

SUMMARY:  Meet Petey, your not-so-average cat - on a mission from God.
     Disillusioned young pastor, Jake Wilkerson, has just arrived at his new assignment in the small rural church of Coudersport, Pensylvania.  Also new on the scene is Petey, a cat of unknown origins and breed - but of great perception.
     As Jake sets about doing the business of ministry, Petey's continued interference brings chaos to the community of curiously off and eccentric people - residents like the faith-avoiding veterinarian Emma Grainger and Tassy, a young runaway with a secret.  An expert at hiding his fears, Jake wonders if all this - and the cat to boot - is more than he can handle.  What is Petey's real "mission"?  Perhaps something larger than Jake - or even Petey - can possibly know.

REVIEW:  This was an interesting book.  Being that I'm not much of a cat person, I wasn't sure what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised.  The main human characters of the book - Jake, Tassy and Emma - were each hiding a secret that they did not want anyone to know about it.  Once the secrets are revealed, healing was able to finally take place.  I like how Petey bring about change in the small church Jake pastored, change that was desperately needed.  This change helped Jake discover his true calling and brought needed healing to many lives.  Petey's character was well written.  He did not speak directly to God but the Holy Spirit helped guide Petey in doing what needed to be done.  While he also did not speak directly to Jake with human words, Petey communicated in meows, growls, and purrs to make his ideas and wishes known and made it seemed totally believable. 
    This is a good book that is great for some summertime and vacation reading.  I highly recommend it.  A discussion guide is included for anyone reading this in a book club or just on their own.

This book was provided by Litfuse Publicity Group for review without compensation.

Jim Kraus grew up in Western Pennsylvania and has spent the last twenty years as a vice president of a major Christian publishing house.  He has written more than twenty books and novels, including the best-selling The Dog That Talked to God. He and his family live outside of Chicago with a sweet miniature Schnauzer and an ill-tempered Siberian cat named (of course) Petey.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Pastors' Wives Book Review

SUMMARY:  A riveting portrait of three women's lives set in America's private refuge of faith
     Pastors' Wives follows three women whose lives converge and intertwine at a Southern evangelical megachurch.  Ruthie follows her Wall Street husband from New York to Magnolia, a suburb of Atlanta, when he hears a calling to serve at a megachurch called Greenleaf.  Reeling from the death of her mother, Ruthie suffers a crisis of faith - in God, in her marriage, and in herself.  Candace is Greenleaf's "First Lady," a force of nature who will stop at nothing to protect her church and her husband.  Ginger, married to Candace's son, struggles to play dutiful wife and mother while burying her calamitous past.  When their lives collide during a fateful event threatens the survival of all that is precious to them, each will ask herself:  what is the price of loving a man of God?  Inspired by Cullen's reporting for Time magazine, Pastors' Wives is a passionate portrayal of the private lives of pastors' wives, caught between the consuming demands of faith, marriage, duty, and love.

REVIEW:  This book is not what I expected, but I'm not sure exactly what that was.  I have mixed views on it:  some things I really liked; others, not so much.  My favorite character was Ginger.  I like how she reaches out to some other pastors' wives at a conference.  With their support, help, encouragement, Ginger faces her past mistakes and starts a ministry to reach out to girls caught up in the same lifestyle she had been in.  Another thing I liked was how Candace, who did not approve of Ginger, goes out of her way to protect Ginger's reputation when she finds out about her past, without her knowledge.  I like how the book doesn't tie everything up in neat packages but shows it like real life, with issues that still need to be worked on between some of the characters.  Also, when two characters are faced with the opportunity to have an affair, they both choose not to and to keep their marriage vows.
     Items I did not like in this novel:  Ruthie often compares Catholicism to Protestant/Evangelicalism with the later often losing out even though she doesn't practice either one on a regular basis.  Even though she is a pastor's wife, Ruthie does it reluctantly and doesn't seem to want to give God a place in her life.  The author jumps around a lot with Ruthie's time with her mom, her thinking about past and present experiences of religion and her relationships with her family.  She also goes into great detail about some relationships but doesn't give enough information about others.  Also, the author makes Greenleaf a conservative church in it's views and functioning, but she has Ginger ask a liberal church with a lesbian pastor for help with her ministry to exotic dancers.
     In my opinion, this was an okay book.

This book was provided by Litfuse Publicity Group for review without compensation.

Lisa Takeuchi Cullen was a foreign correspondent and staff write for Time magazine.  CBS is currently shooting her drama pilot, The Ordained.  Cullen grew up in Kobe, Japan and lives in New Jersey with her husband and two daughters.  Her first book, Remember Me: A Lively Tour of the New American Way of Death, was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick.  Pastors' Wives is her first novel.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

When A Secret Kills Book Review

Deadly Reunions Series
Book Three

SUMMARY:  She's come home to put a killer behind bars.  But the killer plans to put her six feet under.
     Investigative reporter Jillian Carter knows it's time to put the past to rest.  She's tired of looking over her shoulder, letting the killer go free.  She's no longer the scared kid who changed her name and disappeared. Now, no matter what the cost, Jillian must do what she is trained to do - find the truth and expose it.  And the truth is that Senator Frank Hoffman committed murder ten years ago - and Jillian watched it happen.
     Didn't she?
     Get ready for the spine-tingling, nail-biting conclusion to this explosive series.

REVIEW:  Reading this book is like riding a roller coaster blindfolded - you never know what is coming up next.  This book kept me on the edge of my seat from the very beginning to the very end, staying up late to see what happens next.  Just when I think I had the ending figured out, the author threw a curve ball from left field.   My heart goes out to Jillian.  She has to keep on her toes and alert about everything and everyone around her because if she relaxes, she could be killed.  She has lived like this for ten years, with her guard constantly up.  Even though Jillian left everything and everyone behind without any explanation, her friends showed up when she needed them and stuck by her side, even when it puts their own lives in danger.  This is an awesome follow-up and conclusion to the previous two books.  To fully understand everything that happens to Jillian and the secret she is keeping, you really need to read the other books.  Everything will fall into place if you do.  
    This is an outstanding book and series.  I highly recommend it if you are looking for something to keep you on the edge of your seat, turning pages as fast as you can while guessing as to what happens next.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Available May 2013 at your favorite bookstore, retailer, or website.

Lynette Eason is the bestselling author of several romantic suspense novels, including When the Smoke Clears, When a Heart Stops and the Women of Justice series.  She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America.  Find out more at