Friday, December 31, 2010

A Daughter for Christmas


DALEY, MARGARET
A DAUGHTER FOR CHRISTMAS

Dr. Max Connors had no idea he'd fathered a child thirteen years ago. Or that his baby girl had been given up for adoption. He locates his daughter in a small Oklahoma town and moves there, hoping to become a part of her life. But when he meets her widowed mother, Max is unsure how to reveal his identity. As he helps Rachel Howard with her plans to homeschool the girl, he's welcomed into the family. But with the holidays approaching, Max must tell Rachel who he really is. Can he make his dreams of family come true by Christmas?

MARGARET DALEY HAS DONE IT AGAIN -- PICKED THE MOST EMOTIONALLY COMPLICATED SITUATION SHE COULD THINK OF AND THEN PLUNKED HER CHARACTERS INTO THE MIDDLE OF IT! EMOTIONS RIDE HIGH WHEN YOU READ THIS BOOK BUT DALEY DOES A GREAT JOB OF BALANCING THE ANGST WITH HEARTWARMING MOMENTS. I PARTICULARLY ENJOYED MAX BEING INITIATED INTO THE JOYS OF CHRISTMAS CELEBRATIONS BY RACHEL AND HER LITTLE FAMILY.THIS IS A WONDERFUL HOLIDAY READ.

The Unfinished Gift


WALSH, DAN
THE UNFINISHED GIFT

Set at Christmastime in 1943, The Unfinished Gifts in the engaging story of a family in need of forgiveness. With simple grace, it reminds us of the small things that affect powerful change in our hearts -- a young boy's prayers, a shoe box of love letters, and even a half-carved solider, long forgotten. This nostalgic story of reconciliation will touch your heart.

A DEFINITE KLEENEX ALERT NEEDED BEFORE YOU OPEN THIS BOOK AND DELVE INTO AN EMOTIONAL READ THAT EMBRACES THE TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS. WALSH TELLS HIS STORY FROM MULTIPLE POINTS OF VIEW BUT THE CONTINUITY IS INCREDIBLE. AND HE'S A MASTER AT CREATING AUTHENTIC VOICES WHETHER THEY BE A SEVEN-YEAR-OLD BOY, A DOUR GRANDFATHER, AN ELDERLY ITALIAN NEIGHBOUR, A FIGHTER PILOT, AN EMOTIONAL SOCIAL SERVICES WORKER OR EVEN A DOWN AND OUT AFRICAN AMERICAN. WALSH CAPTURES THEM ALL TO PERFECTION AND THE UNFINISHED GIFT IS DESTINED TO BE A CHRISTMAS CLASSIC. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED ANY TIME OF THE YEAR!

Rocky Mountain Hero

X
HARDERS, AUDRA
ROCKY MOUNTAIN HERO

With a broken-down truck, miles to go and little money, single mother Melanie Hunter needs help. It comes in the handsome form of rancher Gabe Davidson. He'll pay for the three-week repair job and provide lodging for her and her boy -- if she'll take coordinating the town barbecue off his busy hands. Melanie accepts, figuring she'll soon be on her way to her new life. But as she gets to know the kinds townspeople -- and the hardworking cowboy her son adores -- she realizes she's found her home. Now if only her Rocky Mountain hero will ask her to stay.

THIS AMAZING DEBUT NOVEL IS PACKED WITH SIZZLING ROMANCE! IT'S IN THE GESTURES, THE COVERT LOOKS, THE FLASHES OF INSIGHT, THE GROWING AWARENESS....SIGH...AND THE ALPHA-MALE HERO DOESN'T HURT EITHER! LOL.

LOVED THE FLOW OF THE STORY. HARDERS PACKED A LOT INTO THE PLOT BUT I DIDN'T FEEL HURRIED. HER PACING IS DEAD ON AND SHE TAKES THE TIME TO DEVELOP HER CHARACTERS -- INCLUDING SECONDARY ONES -- SO THAT THEY ARE MEMORABLE. IN FACT, I THINK SHE HAS SET US UP FOR THE SEQUEL...AT LEAST I HOPE SO.

THINGS I LOVED ABOUT THIS BOOK:

LOVED THE CIRCLE D RANCH: HARDERS HAS A MAGIC WAY WITH DESCRIPTION. IT DOESN'T BURDEN THE STORY, BUT RATHER ENHANCES IT. I'VE NEVER BEEN WEST OF TORONTO BUT I'D SWEAR I'VE WALKED THE ENTIRE ACREAGE OF THE CIRCLE D.

LOVED THE TOWN COMMUNITY HARDERS CREATED. WE'RE ACTUALLY INTRODUCED TO A NUMBER OF TOWNSFOLK AND YET IT DIDN'T FEEL CONFUSING OR TAKE AWAY FROM THE MAIN CHARACTERS STORIES AT ALL. I GUESS THE KEY IS THAT THESE SECONDARY CHARACTERS WERE IN PLACE TO HELP DEFINE THE HERO AND HEROINE.

LOVED GABE'S GENTLEMANLY MANNERS. SIGH. IT'S A DYING ART THAT REALLY SHOULD BE RESURRECTED. HERE'S A GLIMPSE FROM PAGE 39:

GABE PULLED INTO A SPACE DOWN A SIDE ROAD. HE SLIPPED OUT OF THE TRUCK, CIRCLED AROUND TO HER SIDE AND OPENED THE DOOR BEFORE SHE HAD HER SEATBELT OFF. UNACCUSTOMED TO THE COURTESY, MELANIE STARED AT HIM.

"WHY'D YOU OPEN THE DOOR?" JASON PUSHED AGAINST THE BACK DOOR AND HOPPED OUT. "WAS THE LOCK STUCK?"

GABE HELD THE DOOR. "A LADY NEVER OPENS HER OWN DOOR."

"MOM ALWAYS OPENS HER OWN DOOR. EVEN WHEN SHE'S SICK."

UNCOMFORTABLE BEING THE TOPIC OF DISCUSSION. MELANIE GRABBED HER PURSE AND ANGLED OUT OF THE CAB. "I'M MADE OF STURDY STUFF."

GABE CLOSED THE DOOR BEHIND HER AND INDICATED THE SIDEWALK. "BUD, A MAN'S GOT CERTAIN OBLIGATIONS, AND SHOWING RESPECT TO A LADY IS THE BIGGEST ONE."

LOVED HOW FIERCELY PROTECTIVE MELANIE IS OF HER SON, JASON, AND HOW VULNERABLE THAT MAKES HER.

LOVED WATCHING THE GENTLE FAITH-THREAD GROW STRONGER THROUGHOUT THE STORY. ADORED GABE AS A SPIRITUAL LEADER.

LOVED THE FACT THAT I COULD SEE EVERYTHING SO CLEARLY. IT WAS LIKE WATCHING A MOVIE. I COULD FEEL THE SULTRY HEAT OF SUMMER, SMELL THE BARBECUE COOKING, HEAR THE RANCH SOUNDS, SMELL THE BARN...DEFINITELY A MULTI-SENSORY READ.
AS YOU CAN SEE THERE'S LOTS TO LOVE ABOUT ROCKY MOUNTAIN HERO. IT'S A DEFINITE MUST READ.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Rancher's Reunion


RADCLIFFE, TINA
THE RANCHER'S REUNION

Will Sullivan's reason for refusing marriage is his biggest secret. To Will, it's part of his legacy, like the family's ranch. But then the woman he has secretly loved since childhood returns home after two years. Abandoned as a child the way he was, Annie Harris understands him. But she doesn't know the real reason keeping him a bachelor. A missionary nurse, Annie is planning to leave soon. Especially when a senseless scandal involving her threatens the ranch—and Will's future. But can he trust in rekindled love to see that Annie just might be his future?

THIS STUNNING DEBUT NOVEL HAS ALL THE ELEMENTS OF A BEST SELLER -- ROMANCE, CONFLICT, HUMOUR AND A PLOT THAT KEEPS A READER ON HER TOES. RADCLIFFE'S DISTINCTIVE VOICE IS LACED WITH HUMOUR WHICH MAKES READING A PLEASURE. IN PARTICULAR, I LOVED THE SNAPPY DIALOGUE BETWEEN WILL AND ANNIE RIGHT FROM WILL'S INSPIRING WORDS IN THE FIRST SENTENCE OF THE BOOK. "YOU LOOK AWFUL."

I AM AMAZED AT THE EMOTIONAL DEPTH , THE ISSUES DEALT WITH AND THE IMMENSE FEELING OF SATISFACTION I GOT AT THE CONCLUSION. THE WRITING WAS TIGHT BUT VIVID ENOUGH TO TRANSPORT ME INTO ANNIE AND WILL'S WORLD AND ONCE I WAS THERE, I DIDN'T WANT TO LEAVE. RADCLIFFE HANDLED THEIR INDIVIDUAL ANGST WITH COMPASSION AND UNDERSTANDING AND THE GOSPEL MESSAGE REALLY SPOKE (NOT PREACHED) TO ME.

THINGS I LOVED ABOUT THIS BOOK:

LOVED TO HATE MARGARET

LOVED THE INTIMATE CONNECTIONS RADCLIFFE BUILT BETWEEN WILL AND ANNIE -- LIKE THIS ONE:

"ANNIE?"
WHEN SHE TURNED HER HEAD THEIR EYES MET IN THE MOONLIT TRUCK.
"I WANT YOU TO KNOW I'M PROUD OF YOU."
SHE BOWED HER HEAD, LOCKING THE WORDS AWAY TO BE SAVORED LATER.
(P.14)

LOVED THE YEARNING - ACHINGLY EVIDENT IN BOTH OF THEM AND YET DETERMINEDLY PUSHED ASIDE THROUGH MOST OF THE BOOK.

LOVED ROSE!!!!!! A PERFECT SECONDARY CHARACTER WHO KNOWS ALL AND IMPATIENTLY BIDES HER TIME AS SHE WATCHES WILL AND ANNIE DANCE AROUND ONE ANOTHER.

LOVED THAT WILL AND ANNIE WERE CONNECTED FROM THEIR PAST. GROWING UP TOGETHER PROVIDED A CLOSENESS THAT HELPED PROPEL THE ROMANCE REALISTICALLY

LOVED WHAT I THINK IS A HINT ABOUT THE NEXT IN THE SERIES WHICH WILL BE OUT LATE 2011.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Shoebox : A Christmas Story


RIVERS, FRANCINE
THE SHOEBOX : A CHRISTMAS STORY

This tender Christmas novella tells the story of Timmy O'Neil, a foster child who arrives at his new home with a very mysterious shoe box. At first glance, it's nothing special -- just an ordinary box with a red lid and the words Running Shoes printed on the side.

But Timmy carries it with him wherever he goes, and when people ask him what's inside, he smiles and says, "Just things."

As Timmy settles into his new, loving home, he remains unwilling to share the secrets of his shoe box...until the beauty of the church Nativity pageant inspires him to open his heart and give the most precious gift of all.

THIS HEARTWARMING READ DOESN'T TAKE LONG BUT IT PACKS AN EMOTIONAL PUNCH AND IS PEPPERED WITH PERSONAL NOTES AND RECIPES FROM FRANCINE RIVERS ABOUT THE TRADITIONS SHE AND HER FAMILY CELEBRATE AT CHRISTMAS TIME. DEFINITELY DESTINED TO BE A CHRISTMAS CLASSIC AT MY HOUSE!


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Yuletide Cowboy


CLOPTON, DEBRA
YULETIDE COWBOY

After three years in Mule Hollow's women's shelter, single mother Lynn Perry is finally spending the holidays in her own house. And then the town's matchmakers send over a hunky cowboy to hang Christmas lights…Lynn hopes there's no mistletoe around. With her painful past, how can she trust another man? Especially former bull rider and current pastor Chance Turner, who isn't planning on sticking around—or ever preaching again. Unless Lynn, twin boys and the matchmakers help her yuletide cowboy see he's the answer to a family's—and a town's—Christmas prayers.

I ABSOLUTELY LOVE CLOPTON'S 'VOICE'. HER DESCRIPTIONS AND DIALOGUE ARE RICH WITH LOCAL DIALECT AND TRANSPORTED ME INTO THE STATE OF TEXAS -- AND COWBOY COUNTRY. AND SHE INTRODUCED ME TO THE WONDERS OF SMALL TOWN LIVING AND THE CRAZY MIX OF MULE HOLLOW RESIDENTS. ALL OF THIS ADDED DIMENSION TO THE STORY AND ENHANCED THE ROMANCE.

CHANCE TURNER IS A HERO DESTINED TO SEND SHIVERS UP YOUR SPINE. HIS EASY GOING DRAWL, THE WAY HE CARES ABOUT PEOPLE -- LYNN AND HER TWINS ESPECIALLY -- THE OLD-WORLD CHARM THAT IS FAST FADING IN TODAY'S MODERN SOCIETY -- HIS DELIBERATE DETERMINATION TO WIN LYNN'S TRUST -- ALL CONTRIBUTE TO SUPER HERO STATUS AS FAR AS I'M CONCERNED.

LYNN'S SITUATION AND SUBSEQUENT STRUGGLES ARE REALISTICALLY AND COMPASSIONATELY PORTRAYED. HER STRENGTH AND DETERMINATION COMBINED WITH HER STUBBORNNESS MAKE HER EASY TO CARE ABOUT -- BOTH FOR THE READER AND CHANCE!

THIS IS THE THIRD IN THE MEN OF MULE HOLLOW TRILOGY. I HAVEN'T READ THE FIRST TWO, BUT WILL HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY IN MARCH WHEN HARLEQUIN RELEASES TWO BOOKS IN ONE. I'LL DEFINITELY BE ORDERING THAT CLASSIC!

Hidden in the Shadows


WHITE, HOPE
HIDDEN IN THE SHADOWS

An intruder in her house? But why? Tea shop owner Krista Yates has nothing worth stealing, and Wentworth, Michigan, is hardly a danger zone…or is it? DEA agent Luke McIntyre warns Krista that the prowler has some dangerous connections, and that she needs around-the-clock protection. Luke's presence in her life is a bit too easy to get used to—and his growing presence in her heart makes her dread saying goodbye. But her nonstop defender can't hide Krista away forever. And there's more than her safety—or her love—at risk when the threat steps out of the shadows again.

WHAT A GREAT FRESH SPIN ON A BOOK IN THE LOVE INSPIRED SUSPENSE LINE! IT HAS A TWISTY MYSTERY THAT NEARLY SPINS OUT OF CONTROL UNTIL ALL THE PIECES ARE PUT TOGETHER -- AND THIS READER FIGURED IT OUT JUST BEFORE THE HERO. TALK ABOUT ANGST!

KRISTA AND LUKE ARE SUCH POLAR OPPOSITES THAT IT MAKES THE ROMANCE REALLY INTERESTING. BUT THEY ALSO EACH HAVE CHARACTERISTICS THAT THE OTHER NEEDS IN ORDER TO BE COMPLETE. WATCHING THEM DANCE AROUND THEIR ATTRACTION AND EVENTUALLY SUCCUMB TO IT MADE FOR VERY SATISFYING READ.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Bodyguard


DALEY, MARGARET
CHRISTMAS BODYGUARD

Someone's after wealthy Texan Slade Caulder's daughter. Desperate to keep her safe while he determines the motive, the widowed father hires a bodyguard for Abbey. A female bodyguard, with the training to protect the girl—and an understanding of a willful teenager who keeps trying to outsmart her. Elizabeth Walker is the perfect combination of caring and toughness for her job. But as the holidays approach, the stalker's threats escalate. And Slade finds himself willing to risk everything to keep his Christmas bodyguard by his side…forever.

THIS IS A PERFECT BLEND OF SUSPENSE AND ROMANCE -- AND THAT'S A HARD BALANCE TO ACHIEVE IN A SHORT NOVEL. DALEY MADE EVERY WORD COUNT AND EXPERTLY FED SUBTLE CLUES AND MULTIPLE RED HERRINGS THAT KEPT ME GUESSING RIGHT TO THE VERY END. I LOVE HOW SHE WOVE THE ROMANCE INTO EVERY SCENE, SLOWLY BUILDING THE ATTRACTION WHILE REVEALING PIECES OF BOTH THE HERO AND HEROINE'S PAST. OF COURSE THAT PAST LEADS TO OBSTACLES BUT THEY ARE REALISTICALLY DEALT WITH BY THE END OF THE BOOK. I ALSO LOVE DALEY'S WRITING STYLE -- SHE MEASURES HER WORDS AND EVERY ONE OF THEM COUNTS IN A SHORT BOOK LIKE THIS BUT I NEVER FELT RUSHED OR THAT ANYTHING IN THE PLOT WAS LACKING. THIS IS A WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS READ.

Friday, December 17, 2010

One Special Christmas and Home for the Holidays


HANNON, IRENE
ONE SPECIAL CHRISTMAS AND HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS

Irene Hannon explores the gift of love in these holiday stories.

One Special Christmas

It started with her daughter's tummy aches. But Dr. Eric Carlson has more than medicine to offer Kate Nolan. First, he finds a babysitter for the single mom's little girl. Next, he'll mend Kate's tattered heart -- just in time for Christmas.

Home for the Holidays

Sparks fly every time Nick Sinclair encounters Laura Taylor, yet the skittish widow holds Nick at arm's length. Her past has shaken her trust in God…and in love. But a leap of faith could win her a Christmas treasure—a lifetime of Nick's devotion.

THESE REISSUED STORIES FROM THE LATE NINETIES MADE FOR A FANTASTIC HOLIDAY READ. THERE'S NOTHING LIKE THE SMOOTH STORYTELLING SKILLS OF IRENE HANNON. SHE KNOWS HOW TO PACE A STORY, ALLOWING IT TO UNFOLD IN AN UNHURRIED MANNER AS SHE BUILDS TENSION AND DRAMA AND ROMANCE. AND OH MY -- THE ROMANCE -- DEFINITELY TOE CURLING AND SPINE-TINGLING. (BLISSFUL SIGH.) SHE'S A MASTER ARTIST AND I ADORED BOTH BOOKS.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Legacy of Lies


NELSON, JILL ELIZABETH
LEGACY OF LIES

Secrets buried deep...

Evidence from a decades-old murder is the last thing Nicole Keller-Mattson expected to find in her grandmother's backyard. The finger-pointing and accusations aimed at her family were easier to predict. Everyone in Ellendale is eager to blame the Kellers -- but after an attack leaves Nicole's grandmother in a coma, only Nicole can clear the family name. With the assistance of police chief Rich Hendricks, she stands a chance of solving the mystery...if she's willing to accept Rich's help. Nicole lost her husband in the line of duty -- trusting another cop is too painful. But not trusting rich could be deadly.

NELSON DID A FANTASTIC JOB OF WEAVING A TAUT MYSTERY. I DIDN'T PICK UP ON SOME OF THE CLUES SHE HID WITHIN THE TEXT UNTIL THE 'AHA' MOMENT AT THE END. I LOVE IT WHEN A MYSTERY GETS THE BETTER OF ME! OF COURSE, I DID REALIZE THE IMPORTANCE OF OTHER CLUES BUT COULDN'T QUITE CONNECT THE PIECES TOGETHER. LEGACY OF LIES WAS MYSTERIOUS RIGHT TO THE VERY END.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Cowboy Christmas


CONNEALY, MARY
COWBOY CHRISTMAS

A secretive singer reawakens a cowboy's wounded heart at Christmastime.

Singer Annette Talbot used her voice to spread the gospel with a traveling missionary troupe. When the Latrells take over and want Annie to dress provocatively and give up singing her beloved hymns, Annie flees to Ranger Bluff, Wyoming, dreaming of reuniting with her father for Christmas. But trouble chases her -- right off the edge of a cliff!

Elijah Walker's heart turned as cold and barren as the high plains in December after his ex-fiancee betrayed him and caused his father's death. But when he rescues Annie out of a freezing river, Walker's instincts tell him he must help a stranger in need.

With her hermit father retreating to the high country and the Latrells intent on kidnapping her to make money off her singing, Annie may have no way out.

Has Annie hidden the truth about wanted posters bearing her face too long for anyone to believer her now?

Can Elijah overcome the painful past and learn to love again?

Will there ever be peace in their hearts in time for Christmas?

DISASTER STRUCK MY HOUSE THIS WEEK. I RAN OUT OF BOOKS TO READ! MY LIBRARY HOLDS WERE STILL IN HOLDING PATTERN AND I'D FINISHED THE LAST OF THE BOOKSTORE STACK BESIDE MY BED! WHAT'S A READER TO DO? DELVE INTO HER KEEPER SHELF OF COURSE (OR IN MY CASE 'SHELVES'.) AND I COULDN'T RESIST REVISITING WITH ANNIE AND ELIJAH IN COWBOY CHRISTMAS -- THE VERY FIRST MARY CONNEALY BOOK I EVER READ! BUT NOT THE LAST.

I LOVE HER UNIQUE STYLE AND QUICK WIT. HER DEADPAN HUMOUR CATCHES THE READER UNAWARES AND LEAVES YOU LAUGHING OUT LOUD (WHICH CAN BE EMBARRASSING IF YOU'RE READING ON THE BUS...WHICH I DO FREQUENTLY!)

HER CHARACTERS COME TO LIFE AND WRAP THEMSELVES AROUND YOUR HEART AND YOU GROW TO LOVE THEM SO MUCH YOU WANT TO REACH THROUGH THE PAGES OF THE BOOK AND GRAB THOSE DARLING CHARACTERS BY THE SCRUFF OF THEIR SORRY NECKS AND THWACK THEIR HEADS TOGETHER IN THE HOPES THAT YOU CAN UNSTICK SOME OF THAT PERSISTENT STUBBORNNESS!

I DON'T THINK I'VE EVER MET TWO MORE STUBBORN CHARACTERS IN THE PAGES OF A BOOK. OR MORE DASTARDLY VILLAINS OR THE BEST TOUGH-AS-NAILS-WITH-A-HEART-OF-GOLD MA. HOW MUCH DID I LOVE MY RE-READ? LET'S JUST SAY THAT COWBOY CHRISTMAS MIGHT HAVE BEEN MY FIRST CONNEALY READ THIS TIME LAST YEAR BUT SINCE THEN I HAVE READ EVERYTHING SHE HAS IN PRINT...OWN MOST OF THEM TOO.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Code Triage


CALVERT, CANDACE
CODE TRIAGE

Dr. Leigh Stathos likes her ER shifts fast, furious and adrenaline-infused -- "Treat 'em and street 'em" -- with no emotional complications. Life's taught her a soul-rending lesson: nothing lasts forever, including marriage. And the clock is ticking toward the end of hers. Then an unwelcome confrontation with 'the other woman' beings a whole new set of lessons.

San Francisco police officer Nick Stathos never gives up, whether protecting his patrol neighbourhood, holding fast to faith, or trying to save his marriage. Seven days is all he has to reach Leigh's heart. But when a desperate act of violence slams Golden Mercy Hospital into lockdown, it starts a chain of events that will change lives forever.

THIS WAS A HARD READ FOR ME...A MAGNIFICENT ONE, BUT HARD JUST THE SAME. LEIGH'S EMOTIONS WERE SO RAW...NICK'S TOO FOR THAT MATTER AND THEY SEEMED TO BE SO FAR APART IN ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING. IT HURT TO READ CODE TRIAGE. MY STOMACH WAS IN KNOTS -- I EVEN FOUND MYSELF GRINDING MY TEETH AT NIGHT AND YES, I WOKE UP IN THE MORNING WORRYING ABOUT THEM. LUCKILY I DIDN'T SUFFER FOR TOO MANY NIGHTS SINCE IT WAS HARD TO PUT THE BOOK DOWN. SOMETIMES I PICKED IT UP WITH A FEELING OF DREAD BUT I COULDN'T STOP READING DESPITE THE EMOTIONAL ROLLER COASTER RIDE.

CALVERT HAS AN INCREDIBLE GIFT OF WRITING DEEP POINT OF VIEW. I FELT EVERYTHING EACH CHARACTER FELT -- AND SHE DOESN'T LIMIT THAT TALENT TO JUST THE HERO AND HEROINE. EVEN THE 'VILLAINS', THE PEOPLE I WANTED TO HATE WERE MULTIDIMENSIONAL, WITH A HISTORY THAT MADE ME RELUCTANTLY SYMPATHETIC.

THIS IS A BRILLIANTLY CRAFTED BOOK AND I AM BEREFT NOW THAT IT'S OVER. WHAT AM I GOING TO DO NOW THAT I'M ALL CAUGHT UP WITH THE SERIES? ANXIOUSLY WAIT FOR HER NEXT RELEASE. I HOPE IT'S ABOUT RILEY.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Suitor for Jenny


BROWNLEY, MARGARET
A SUITOR FOR JENNY

Jenny Higgins is certain falling in love and finding a husband are matters of the mind. Her heart has other plans.

After their parents died, Jenny felt responsible for seeing that her two younger sisters were well-taken care of. Tipped off by an article naming Rocky Creek the town with the highest number of eligible bachelors, Jenny rolled into this Texas town with a clear objective: find suitable husbands for her two sisters and then start fresh somewhere far, far away.
Jenny believes that women who fall in love at first sight often wish they'd taken a second look, so she diligently begins to follow all the rules set forth in her handy manual on how to land a husband.

But while Jenny is interviewing the less-than-promising candidates, her sisters are falling in love the old-fashioned way -- with men of their choosing. And the longer Jenny stays, the more her sense of control slips away. The town isn't living up to her expectations, her sisters are rebelling against her practical choices, and soon her own heart starts to betray her, as US Marshal Rhett Armstrong stirs up emotions in her that weren't part of her plan.

To relinquish her control to God and calm her restless spirit, she'll need to give up her foregone conclusions about marriage, love, and faith.

I HAVE BEEN ANXIOUSLY AWAITING THE NEXT RELEASE FROM MARGARET BROWNLEY. IT FELT LIKE AN INTERMINABLE WAIT SINCE I ENJOYED A LADY LIKE SARAH SO MUCH. BUT MY IMPATIENCE WAS WORTH IT! A SUITOR FOR JENNY IS JUST AS CAPTIVATING AND THERE'S THE ADDED BONUS OF GETTING REAQUAINTED WITH SARAH AND JUSTIN WITHIN THE PAGES OF THIS SECOND NOVEL.

BROWNLEY HAS A REAL TALENT FOR BLENDING HUMOUR AND DRAMA. SHE FOUND THE PERFECT BALANCE THAT KEPT ME BETWEEN ANGST AND LAUGHTER THE ENTIRE READ!

I LOVE HOW SHE SET UP EACH CHAPTER WITH A QUOTE FROM "MISS ABIGAIL JENKINS", 1875 -- HELPFUL HINTS ON COURTING. SUCH SAGE ADVICE THAT IS AS SOUND TODAY AS IT WAS THEN. GEMS LIKE:

WOMEN WHO FALL IN LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT OFTEN WISH THEY'D TAKEN A SECOND LOOK.

OR HOW ABOUT

IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHETHER OR NOT TO KISS A HANDSOME MAN, GIVE HIM THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT.

JENNY IS A COMPLICATED WOMAN AND BROWNLEY HINTS AT A DIFFICULT PAST THAT HAS TEMPERED HER JOY IN LIFE AND HAS LEFT HER WITH VERY LITTLE HOPE FOR HER OWN FUTURE. SHE IS WEIGHED DOWN BY GUILT AND HAS TURNED AWAY FROM GOD BECAUSE SHE BELIEVES SHE DOESN'T DESERVE HIS ATTENTION.

RHETT (SIGH, ISN'T THAT A LOVELY NAME FOR A HERO?) ALSO HAS A TRAGIC PAST AND THOUGH HE HAS TURNED TO GOD TO SEE HIM THROUGH IT, HE HASN'T ALLOWED ANY HEALING TO TAKE PLACE. IN SPITE OF THEIR HURTS, RHETT AND JENNY ARE ATTRACTED TO EACH OTHER AND THEN CONFLICTED OVER THAT ATTRACTION. BROWNLEY PULLS THE ROMANTIC TENSION TIGHT AS THEIR STORY PLAYS OUT AND IT DEFINITELY KEPT ME TURNING PAGES.

BROWNLEY ALSO EXPLORES THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN 'GRIEF' AND 'GUILTY GRIEF' AND WEAVES A POWERFUL MESSAGE AND WITNESS OF GOD'S LOVE FOR HIS CHILDREN THROUGHOUT THE BOOK.

I THOROUGHLY ENJOYED MY TIME SPENT IN ROCKY CREEK, TEXAS IN THE COMPANY OF JENNY AND RHETT AND THE REST OF THE CHARACTERS IN A SUITOR FOR JENNY. IT HAS DEFINITELY EARNED A SPOT ON MY KEEPER SHELF!

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Rush of Wings


HEITZMANN, KRISTEN
A RUSH OF WINGS

Though her panic is real, Noelle St. Claire is uncertain what danger she is fleeing. Fragmented images and slivers of memory have driven her to abandon her wealthy, sheltered life for the hope of a haven -- remote and safe.

Noelle's arrival at the Rocky Mountain horse ranch owned by Rick Spencer and his brother Morgan causes more than a little stir. Beautiful, vulnerable, yet strangely secretive, Noelle is an enigma the two contrasting brothers seek to unlock. Is her impenetrable shell protecting her from true danger -- or imagined fears?

ANOTHER EXCEPTIONAL READ FROM HEITZMANN. SHE IS QUEEN OF COMPLEX CHARACTERS AND TWISTY TALES. I LOVE HOW SHE DRAWS OUT THE SUSPENSE, DOLING CLUES OUT PIECEMEAL. IT MAKES ME LEAP TO CONCLUSIONS THAT ARE ONLY HALF-RIGHT AND I'M ALWAYS REFORMULATING MY THEORIES AS I READ.

NOELLE IS A PARTICULARLY COMPELLING CHARACTER. THIS IS ALMOST A SLEEPING BEAUTY TALE AS WE WATCH HER COME AWAKE IN SO MANY WAYS -- THE MOST POWERFUL BEING HER FAITH STORY. YOU HAVE TO ADMIRE HER STRENGTH AND TENACITY WHICH ARE IN STARK CONTRAST TO HER VULNERABILITY. THERE'S A MAGICAL QUALITY ABOUT THE WAY HER STORY UNFOLDS, IT'S PARALLELS TO DESTINY THE HORSE RICK IS TRAINING. AND I LOVED BEING 'PRESENT' AS THE PIECES FELL INTO PLACE.

HEITZMANN TOOK A GAMBLE AND CREATED TWO INTRIGUING POTENTIAL HEROES. IT WAS CLEAR NOELLE WAS GOING TO END UP WITH RICK, BUT MORGAN TUGGED AT MY HEART STRINGS. HE NEEDS A LOT OF WORK, A FEW LIFE-ALTERING MOMENTS AND A DEFINITE REACQUAINTING WITH GOD, BUT HE'S A HERO IN THE ROUGH AND I'M PLEASED TO SEE THAT HE TAKES CENTRE STAGE IN A COMPANION TO THIS BOOK -- THE STILL OF NIGHT.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Head in the Clouds


WITEMEYER, KAREN
HEAD IN THE CLOUDS

When a recovering romantic goes to work for a handsome ranch owner, her heart's not the only thing in danger!

Adelaide Proctor longs to find a real-life storybook hero to claim her as his own. But when a husband-hunting debacle leaves her humiliated, she interviews for a governess position on a remote Texas sheep ranch and vows to leave her silly romantic yearnings behind.

Gideon Westcott left his privileged life in England to make a name for himself in America's wool industry, never expecting to end up with a child. To his dismay, five-year-old Isabella hasn't uttered a word since she lost her mother. The unconventionality of the new governess concerns Gideon -- and intrigues him at the same time. But he can't afford distractions.

When Isabella's uncle comes to claim the girl -- and her inheritance -- Gideon and Adelaide must work together to protect Isabella from the man's evil schemes. Soon neither can deny their growing attraction. But after so many heartbreaks, will Adelaide be willing to get her head out of the clouds and put her heart on the line?

THIS BOOK HAS EVERYTHING! HUMOUR, ROMANCE, A DASTARDLY VILLAIN AND ENOUGH SUSPENSE TO KEEP A READER WORRIED UNTIL THE VERY END!

THE ROMANCE BETWEEN GIDEON AND ADELAIDE IS SOME OF THE BEST I HAVE EVER READ. WITEMEYER STRIKES A SPARK FROM THEIR VERY FIRST MEETING AND THEN LETS IT SLOWLY SMOLDER BEFORE FANNING IT TO FULL-FLAME. DELICIOUS!

LITTLE BELLA IS ENCHANTING. I LOVE THE WAY ADELAIDE DRAWS THE CHILD OUT OF HER SHELL AND THE EFFECT THAT HAS ON GIDEON. SIGH. SUCH A DOTING PAPA EVEN THOUGH HE HAS BEEN SUDDENLY THRUST INTO THE ROLE. (SOMETHING THAT INCREASES HIS ATTRACTION TENFOLD!)

DEFINITELY HIGH ON MY RECOMMENDATION LIST.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Protective Custody


EASON, LYNETTE
PROTECTIVE CUSTODY

Guarding witnesses? All in a day's work for deputy U.S. marshal Carly Masterson. Protecting the judge who was indirectly responsible for her mentor's death? That's another story. Still, she won't let harm come to Judge Nicholas Floyd, or the niece and nephew in his care. She's determined to do the job right, and not let her emotions take over—no matter how wonderful it feels to be accepted by the little family. Can she let go of the past and learn to trust again before danger finds them once more?

I HAD NO IDEA THAT LYNETTE EASON WROTE FOR THE LOVE INSPIRED SUSPENSE LINE BUT APPARENTLY SHE'S WRITTEN QUITE A FEW AND THIS IS ONE OF THEM. I FIRST 'MET' EASON THROUGH HER WOMEN OF JUSTICE SERIES WHICH ARE LONGER SUSPENSE NOVELS SO I WAS INTERESTED TO SEE HOW SHE HANDLED THE SHORTER WORD COUNT IN THE LOVE INSPIRED LINE. IN A WORD...AMAZING...

I LITERALLY GASPED OUT LOUD IN HORROR ON A NUMBER OF OCCASIONS AS I READ PROTECTIVE CUSTODY. THIS BOOK HITS YOU WITH ONE CLIFF HANGER AFTER ANOTHER UNTIL YOU DON'T KNOW WHICH WAY IS UP.

AND THEN SHE BLINDSIDES YOU WITH THE ROMANCE. THERE'S A GREAT CONNECTION BETWEEN NICK AND CARLY FROM THE VERY FIRST PAGE. THEY HAVE A BIT OF A PAST AND EASON USES THAT AS A REALISTIC STARTING POINT FOR THAT SPARK OF ATTRACTION.

THERE'S A NEAT TWIST WHERE CARLY IS THE PROTECTOR -- A U.S. MARSHAL -- AND NICK IS THE PERSON SHE IS ASSIGNED TO PROTECT. THE ROLE-REVERSAL IS REFRESHING.

ONE OF THE MOST MOVING PARTS OF THIS BOOK IS THE SPIRITUAL THREAD WHICH IS REALISTICALLY DEVELOPED AND VERY TOUCHING. CARLY'S STRUGGLE WITH TRUSTING GOD IS EXPERTLY WOVEN THROUGH THE PLOT AND A STARK CONTRAST WITH NICK'S UNWAVERING FAITH.

I LOVED PROTECTIVE CUSTODY AND HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT TO ANYONE WHO LOVES A GOOD INSPIRATIONAL SUSPENSE.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Disaster Status


CALVERT, CANDACE
DISASTER STATUS

ER charge nurse Erin Quinn escaped personal turmoil to work on the peaceful California coast. But when a hazardous material spill places Pacific Mercy Hospital on disaster status and stresses staff, she’s put to the test. And thrown into conflict with the fire department’s handsome incident commander, who thinks her strategy is out of line.

Fire captain Scott McKenna has felt the toxic effects of tragedy, he’s learned to go strictly by the book to advance his career, heal his family, and protect his wounded heart. When he’s forced to team with the passionately determined ER nurse, sparks fly. As they work to save lives, can they handle the attraction kindled between them…without getting burned?

SO I DO A LARGE PART OF MY READING WHILE COMMUTING TO WORK. IT MAKES THE BUS RIDE SO MUCH MORE ENJOYABLE…AND SOMETIMES EMBARRASSING BECAUSE I GET SO ENGROSSED IN MY BOOK THAT I FORGET TO GET OFF…OR ON…THE BUS. THAT WAS THE CASE TODAY WHEN I ATTEMPTED TO GET TO WORK AND READ DISASTER STATUS AT THE SAME TIME.

I WAS NEAR THE END…AT THIS SURPRISINGLY SUSPENSEFUL, NAIL-BITING, GUT-WRENCHING PART AND I WAS SO WRAPPED UP IN THE READ THAT I STOOD AT THE WRONG BUS STOP FOR NEARLY HALF AN HOUR! THERE’S A DETOUR ON ONE OF THE BUS ROUTES BECAUSE OF ROAD CONSTRUCTION AND I WAS HAPPILY READING AWAY AT THE BUS STOP NO LONGER IN USE. SOME KIND PERSON FINALLY CLUED ME IN. SO I ARRIVED LATE TO WORK, BUT I FINISHED THE BOOK!!!!!

I DON’T THINK I CAN QUITE DEFINE WHAT IT IS ABOUT CALVERT’S APPROACH TO STORYTELLING THAT CAPTURES ME TO SUCH LENGTHS. HER WORDS JUST PULL ME IN AND WON’T LET GO AND I’M WRAPPED UP IN A WHOLE NEW WORLD AND PEOPLE I JUST MET BUT IT SEEMS LIKE I’VE KNOWN THEM FOREVER AND I CAN FEEL IT AND TASTE IT AND SMELL IT AND SEE IT ALL HAPPENING RIGHT IN FRONT OF MY EYES. IT’S LIKE I STOP READING IT AND START LIVING IT.

CALVERT EXCELS AT CHARACTERIZATION…SHE GOES DEEP AND HAS TAKEN CARE TO CRAFT PEOPLE WHO THOUGH FLAWED ARE EASY TO IDENTIFY WITH. BUT SHE DOESN’T STOP THERE. SHE TWISTS THINGS AROUND IN THEIR GRITTY LIVES AND MAKES THEM FACE THEIR GREATEST FEARS IN THE EYES OF THE VERY PERSON WHO HAS COME TO MEAN SO MUCH TO THEM.

ERIN AND SCOTT COULD BE A PERFECT COUPLE IF THEY DIDN’T TRIGGER DEFENSIVE REACTIONS IN EACH OTHER OVER UNRESOLVED ISSUES FROM THEIR PASTS. THEY CLASH…BUT THEY ALSO CONNECT AND CALVERT EXPERTLY WEAVES TO THE TWO EXTREMES TO AN EMOTIONAL CLIMAX. HER ROMANCE IS TOE-CURLING!

I KNEW I SHOULD HAVE BOUGHT THE THIRD IN THE SERIES LAST SATURDAY WHEN I BOUGHT THIS ONE BUT I TRIED TO EXERCISE SOME SELF-RESTRAINT. PFFFFT. NOW I HAVE TO GO BACK TO THE BOOKSTORE THIS SATRUDAY BEFORE WORK BECAUSE MY SELF-RESTRAINT IS ALL USED UP. I JUST HAVE TO FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENS TO DR. LEIGH IN CODE TRIAGE. THIS SERIES IS A DEFINITE MUST READ.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sabotoge


WILLINSON, KIT
SABOTAGE

Olympic hopeful Emilie Gill is beautiful, rich, successful -- and in danger. Someone is targeting her stable, her friends, her life...and there's nowhere for her to turn. The police? They've charged her with murder. Her father? Out of town - again. Her best friend? He's the man she's been accused of killing. There's no one to count on -- until Derrick Randall rides into her life. The stable manager's support encourages Emilie to open up her carefully guarded heart. But just as she's learning to trust, it all comes apart. Her faith -- and newfound love -- are all she'll have when the sabotage turns deadly once more...

GREAT UNIQUE PLATFORM FOR A SUSPENSE. I REALLY ENJOYED THE PRE-OLYMPIC TRIALS ASPECT OF THE STORY. THE WHOLE BEHIND-THE-SCENES LOOK AT SHOW JUMPING WAS FASCINATING AS WELL. AND THE SUSPENSE IN SABOTAGE IS SOLID AND BUILDS TO A GRIPPING CLIMAX. THAT PAIRED WITH THE DEVELOPING ROMANCE BETWEEN DERRICK AND EMILIE MADE FOR A PAGE-TURNING READ.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Missing Mabel


MEHL, NANCY
MISSING MABEL

"Miss Higgins, Druther's Funeral Home is not in the practice of mixing up bodies."

Hilde Higgins knows hair, and she knows the hair on her client doesn't match that of the person originally identified as Mabel Winnemaker. How can she make the funeral home director acknowledge the mix-up when they think she is creating a distraction to cover for stealing Mabel's diamond ring? Now her reputation and career are on the line. The only way to salvage her future is to find the missing Mabel. Can an old boyfriend be of help, or will he just add to the complications in her tangled life?


THIS IS ANOTHER COZY MYSTERY FROM BARBOUR PUBLISHING. A GREAT MIX OF HUMOUR AND INTRIGUE! HILDE IS AS QUIRKY AS THEY COME. SHE'S A CONNIESSOUR OF SPAM RECIPES, A PEN KLEPTOMANIAC AND SHE ADORES HER PET GOLDFISH, SHERLOCK. AND DID I MENTION SHE STYLES THE HAIR OF DEAD PEOPLE?

MISSING MABEL IS TOLD IN FIRST-PERSON AND I LOVE HILDE'S VOICE. IT'S FILLED WITH SNAPPY WISE-CRACKS AND LOTS OF HUMOUR BUT IS TEMPERED WITH A SOFT, SPIRITUAL SIDE AS WELL. IN FACT, I ENJOYED ALL THE CHARACTERS' EASE WITH THEIR FAITH AND HOW THIS IS SIMPLY A REALLY GOOD MYSTERY THAT HAPPENS TO HAVE CHRISTIAN CHARACTERS.

MEHL'S CAST OF MEMORABLE SUPPORTING CHARACTERS FLESH OUT THE PLOT AND MAKE THIS BOOK A JOY TO READ! IF YOU LIKE A GOOD MYSTERY SPRINKLED WITH HUMOUR AND LIGHT ROMANCE THEN MISSING MABEL IS THE BOOK FOR YOU!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Critical Care


CALVERT, CANDACE
CRITICAL CARE

After her brother dies in a trauma room, nurse Claire Avery can no longer face the ER. She's determined to make a fresh start -- new hospital, new career in nursing education -- move forward, no turning back. But her plans fall apart when she's called to offer stress counseling for medical staff after a heartbreaking daycare centre explosion. Worse, she's forced back to the ER, where she clashes with Logan Caldwell, a doctor who believes touchy-feely counseling is a waste of time. He demands his staff to be as tough as he is is. Yet he finds himself drawn to this nurse educator...who just might teach him the true meaning of healing.

I'M KICKING MYSELF FOR WAITING SO LONG TO READ THIS. I'M NOT A GREAT FAN OF MEDICAL DRAMAS ON TELEVISION AND I WAS CONCERNED THAT THE MEDICAL JARGON WOULD BE TOO DETAILED AND PULL AWAY FROM THE STORY.

I WAS SO WRONG!

CRITICAL CARE IS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS I HAVE EVER READ! I LOVE CALVERT'S STYLE -- HER WRITING IS SMOOTH, DESCRIPTIVE AND COMPELLING. HER WORDS ENTICED ME TO READ MORE...AND MORE...AND MORE. I HAD A HARD TIME PUTTING THIS BOOK DOWN.

THE PLOT WAS SOLID -- AND YES THERE WERE ER SCENES, BUT THEY WEREN'T WEIGHTED DOWN WITH TERMINOLOGY. IT WAS THERE, BRINGING A SENSE OF REALISM TO THE SCENE, BUT CALVERT ALSO LET US INSIDE HER CHARACTERS' MINDS SO WE COULD FEEL THEIR EMOTIONS AS WELL. IRONICALLY, THE ER SCENES BECAME SOME OF MY FAVOURITES.

I LOVE THE WAY THE ROMANCE BETWEEN LOGAN AND CLAIRE IS DEVELOPED AS WELL. CALVERT DID A WONDERFUL JOB OF PORTRAYING THAT AWKWARD RELUCTANCE TO AN ATTRACTION YOU'RE NOT SURE YOU'RE READY FOR. BUT SHE DIDN'T BELABOR IT AND THE ROMANCE BUILDS INTO SOME INCREDIBLY ROMANTIC SCENES.

THE ONLY GOOD THING ABOUT ME WAITING SO LONG TO PICK UP ONE OF CANDACE CALVERT'S NOVELS IS THAT I CAN NOW RUSH OUT AND READ BOTH THE SECOND AND THE THIRD IN THE MERCY HOSPITAL SERIES.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

An Amish Christmas : December in Lancaster County


CAMERON, BARBARA
FULLER, KATHLEEN
WISEMAN, BETH
AN AMISH CHRISTMAS : DECEMBER IN LANCASTER COUNTY

December in Paradise - a time of hope, redemption and new life.
A Choice To Forgive by Beth Wiseman.

After Daniel disappeared that long-ago Christmas Eve, Lydia built a life with his brother. But now she's a widow and Daniel has reappeared, asking for forgiveness. But can she go back to her normal life with her long-lost love as her neighbor?

A Miracle for Miriam by Kathleen Fuller.

Seth is no longer the arrogant young man who shattered Miriam's confidence and broke her heart. But can he convince "plain" Miriam that she is truly beautiful to him?

One Child by Barbara Cameron.

The birth of one child forever changed the world two thousand years ago. On a snowy Christmas night in Lancaster County, another child changes the world for two very different couples.

THIS IS A GREAT SET OF NOVELLAS TO BRING THE SIMPLICITY OF THE CHRISTMAS MESSAGE INTO YOUR HEART THIS HOLIDAY SEASON. EACH STORY CONNECTS WITH THE OTHERS, SHARING CHARACTERS AND SETTING BUT DELIVERED IN EACH AUTHORS' UNIQUE STYLE. A PERFECT BLEND THAT MAKES A VERY SATISFYING READ. I WAS ESPECIALLY IMPRESSED BY HOW COMPLETE AND ENTHRALLING EACH INDIVIDUAL NOVELLA WAS. AN AMAZING ACCOMPLISHMENT GIVEN THE SHORTER WORD COUNT. THIS WAS DEFINITELY A FEEL GOOD BOOK (THOUGH IT DIDN'T LACK ANGST) AND A GREAT WAY TO USHER IN THIS SACRED SEASON.

Friday, November 5, 2010

One Imperfect Christmas


JOHNSON, MYRA
ONE IMPERFECT CHRISTMAS

Christmas is the season of miracles, but when blame and guilt keep two people apart, sometimes a miracle needs a helping hand.

Natalie Pearce loves Christmas so much she'd gladly make it a year-round celebration -- until her mother suffers a massive stroke while taking down the Christmas decorations. Natalie's guilt over not being there to help her mom soon builds a wall that separates her from the rest of her family, including her husband Daniel and their teenage daughter. As the next December approaches, the last thing Natalie wants to be reminded of is another Christmas season.

Will her family's tenacious love and an unexpected Christmas gift from her mother help Natalie mend the broken pieces of their lives?

NATALIE PEARCE IS 'REAL' -- A FLAWED WOMAN STRUGGLING TO DO HER BEST IN THE FACE OF MANY STRESSORS. SHE'S LIKE ALL OF US, TRYING TO FIND A BALANCE FOR THE MANY ROLES SHE PLAYS. SHE'S AN ARTIST THAT NEVER SEEMS TO FIND ENOUGH TIME TO PAINT, A WIFE WHO STRIVES TO MAKE TIME FOR HER LOVING HUSBAND, A MOTHER WHO IS NAVIGATING THE UNCHARTED TERRITORY OF THE TEENAGE YEARS, A DAUGHTER ANXIOUS TO HELP HER AGING PARENTS AND THEN, OF COURSE, THERE'S TRYING TO JUGGLE HER PART-TIME JOB AS A FREELANCE GRAPHIC ARTIST INTO THE MIX.

NATALIE THINKS SHE IS MANAGING JUST FINE UNTIL HER MOTHER SUFFERS A DEBILITATING STROKE. IT HAPPENS ON THE ONE DAY NATALIE REFUSES TO COME OVER AND HELP HER MOM. NOW SHE IS RIDDLED WITH GUILT, HAUNTED BY 'WHAT IFS' AND AS HER MOTHER LIES WASTING AWAY IN A HOSPITAL BED, NATALIE BEGINS TO CLOSE HERSELF OFF FORM THE VERY PEOPLE WHO LOVE HER MOST. IT ISN'T LONG BEFORE NATALIE STARTS LOSING GROUND -- FAST -- AS HER WHOLE WORLD FALLS APART.

ONE IMPERFECT CHRISTMAS COVERS THAT HORRIFIC YEAR SANDWICHED BETWEEN CHRISTMASES. THE YEAR NATALIE LOST EVERYTHING BECAUSE OF HER UNWILLINGNESS TO ACCEPT THE COMFORT OF LOVE FROM HER FAMILY, HER HUSBAND AND EVEN HER FATHER IN HEAVEN. BECAUSE NATALIE IS CONVINCED SHE'S NOT WORTHY OF THAT LOVE.

IT'S A HARD READ AT TIMES AND A PAINFUL ONE. I CRIED, MY STOMACH FILLED WITH KNOTS OF DREAD. I WANTED TO SHAKE NATALIE SENSELESS AND THEN SHAKE HER SOME MORE UNTIL HER SENSE RETURNED. IT WAS SO EASY TO STAND ON THE OUTSIDE AND SEE WHERE SHE WENT WRONG -- HOW ONE MISTAKE BEGOT ANOTHER AND THEN ANOTHER AND THEN ANOTHER UNTIL SHE HAD BOXED HERSELF IN AND HER STUBBORN PRIDE AND IRRATIONAL FEAR AND FEELINGS OF WORTHLESSNESS SEALED THAT BOX SHUT.

BUT WHAT WOULD A CHRISTMAS STORY BE WITHOUT HOPE? WITHOUT THE STRENGTH AND THE SUPPORT OF OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN? WITHOUT THE GUIDANCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT? MYRA JOHNSON HAS CREATED A REALISTIC CONCLUSION THAT DELIVERS HOPE. IS THERE A HAPPY ENDING? I'LL LEAVE YOU TO READ AND DECIDE FOR YOURSELF.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Embers of Love


PETERSON, TRACIE
EMBERS OF LOVE

After being educated in the East, Deborah Vandermark returns to Perkinsville, Texas, where her family is part of the thriving logging industry. She brings along an unexpected companion -- her best friend, who is fleeing a wedding and groom she has no interest in. A determined matchmaker, Deborah sets her sights on uniting her brother and friend in what she hopes will be a true love match.

Then Deborah meets Christopher Clayton, the town's new doctor -- and quickly realizes she has a much greater interest in medicine and science than the bookkeeping she studied at college. Soon Deborah is caught between her fascination for doctoring and her obligation to her family. And in the midst of her warring emotions is the doctor himself. Are her tumultuous feelings for the man, or for what he can teach her?

HAVE YOU EVER OPENED A BOOK AND IMMEDIATELY LOST YOURSELF IN ANOTHER WORLD?

HAS AN AUTHOR EVER MANAGED TO TRANSPORT YOUR BACK IN TIME SO THAT YOU ARE STARTLED BY THE 21ST CENTURY WORLD YOU SUDDENLY FIND YOURSELF IN WHEN YOU LOOK UP FROM READING THAT BOOK?

DID YOU EVER REACH 'THE END' WITH A JOLT AND A SUFFER A SENSE OF LOSS?

IF YOU CAN ANSWER 'YES' TO ANY OF THESE QUESTIONS THEN YOU HAVE AN INKLING OF JUST HOW GOOD EMBERS OF LOVE IS.

I WAS IMMEDIATELY STRUCK BY THE HISTORICAL DETAIL AND HOW PETERSON EXPERTLY WOVE THE STORY AROUND IT. IT JUST FELT AUTHENTIC -- LIKE THE KIND OF BOOK A TURN OF THE CENTURY WOMAN MIGHT HAVE PICKED UP AND READ. THAT DETAIL MADE THE ERA AND THE SETTING COME TO LIFE FOR ME.

I WAS INTRIGUED BY THE MULTIPLE VIEWPOINTS PETERSON USED TO TELL THIS STORY. MOST ROMANCE AUTHORS WRITE FROM ONLY TWO PERSPECTIVES -- THE HERO AND HEROINE -- BUT WE ARE TREATED TO MULTIPLE POINTS OF VIEW -- FROM LIZZIE (DEBORAH'S FRIEND), G.W. (HER BROTHER), AND EVEN OCCASIONALLY HER MOTHER! ALL IN ADDITION TO DEBORAH'S AND CHRISTOPHER'S. I ENJOYED THIS OMNISCIENT VIEWPOINT AND FOUND THAT EACH CHARACTER'S STORYLINE WOVE SEAMLESSLY AROUND THE OTHERS.

EVEN THOUGH DEBORAH IS GIVEN 'TOP BILLING' AS THE HEROINE OF EMBERS OF LOVE, IT FEELS LIKE HER STORY ISN'T FINISHED YET AND WILL CONTINUE WITH THE NEXT BOOK IN THE SERIES. IN A WAY, LIZZIE'S STORY TOOK CENTER STAGE AS DID HER ROMANCE WITH G.W. AND I LOVED EVERY WORD OF IT.

I'M DEFINITELY LOOKING FORWARD TO HEARTS AGLOW, NEXT INT THE STRIKING A MATCH SERIES WHICH WILL BE ON BOOKSHELVES IN MARCH 2011

Friday, October 29, 2010

Don't Look Back


EASON, LYNETTE
DON'T LOOK BACK

One man lives to see her dead -- the other is fighting to keep her alive.

Twelve years ago, forensic anthropologist Jamie Cash survived a brutal kidnapping. After years of therapy, she has made a life for herself -- though one that is haunted by memories of her terrifying past. She finally lets herself believe that she can have a close relationship with a man, when signs start appearing that point to one frightening fact -- her attacker is back and ready to finish the job he started all those years ago.

Can she escape his grasp a second time? And will she ever be able to let down her guard enough to find true love?

Filled with heart-stopping suspense, gritty realism, and a touch of romance, Don't Look Back pulls you into its twists and turns to hold you there until the very last page.

THERE IS NO TURNING BACK ONCE YOU START READING THIS NOVEL! IT IS DEFINITELY RIVETING. EASON HAS REALLY SURPASSED HER GIFT FOR WRITING SUSPENSE IN DON'T LOOK BACK. I HONESTLY COULDN'T PUT IT DOWN, THOUGH THERE WERE TIMES I WANTED TO BECAUSE I WAS GETTING CREEPED OUT.

'GRITTY REALISM' IS AN UNDERSTATEMENT AND IT'S NOT SO MUCH WHAT EASON SAYS BUT HOW SHE SAYS IT, LEAVING LOTS OF SCOPE FOR OVERACTIVE IMAGINATIONS LIKE MINE. I KNOW FOR A FACT THAT MY HEART POUNDED FASTER AS I REACHED THE CLIMAX OF THIS BOOK AND I CHECKED ALL MY WINDOWS UPTEEN TIMES WHILE I WAS READING IT!

THE 'TOUCH' OF ROMANCE WAS A DEFINITE THREAD FOR ME. IT WAS FULL OF RESPECT AND UNDERSTANDING; UNHURRIED, GENTLE -- MORE A UNION OF THE MINDS AT THE BEGINNING AND THEN DEVELOPING INTO SOMETHING MUCH DEEPER. THE PERFECT PACE GIVEN THE CIRCUMSTANCES JAMIE AND DAKOTA FIND THEMSELVES IN.

THERE IS A SPIRITUAL THREAD WOVEN SECURELY AMONGST THE ANGST. IT FLOWS SEAMLESSLY THROUGH THE PLOT; UPLIFTS AND COMFORTS THE CHARACTERS IN THE MIDST OF THE DARKER REALITIES THEY ARE FACING. AND IT EVEN DEALS WITH THAT DIFFICULT QUESTION CHRISTIANS ARE ALWAYS ASKED: WHY DO BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE?

EASON'S WRITING IS SOLID -- FLAWLESS REALLY, WHICH MAKES THE READ ALL THE MORE ENJOYABLE...AND TERRIFYING. DEFINITELY NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART BUT IF YOU LIKE A LITTLE EDGE IN YOUR SUSPENSE YOU WILL LOVE DON'T LOOK BACK!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Nipped in the Bud


SLEEMAN, SUSAN
NIPPED IN THE BUD

Paige Turner has secured her first landscaping contract, sprucing up the city park for the upcoming Pickle Fest. But the day after a confrontation with the city manager, she finds him dead in a mound of mulch. With no alibi for the time of death and, according to the police chief, with plenty of motive to carry out the murder, Paige must dig her way out of the mess by finding the real killer. Attorney Hayes aids in her search as he works hard to keep her out of jail -- and his heart.

THIS COZY MYSTERY IS A LIGHT AND FUNNY READ. SLEEMAN DID A GREAT JOB OF SETTING UP THE MYSTERY, INTRODUCING A VARIETY OF CHARACTERS IN THE FIRST CHAPTER BUT ALL WERE SO UNIQUE IT WAS EASY TO KEEP TRACK OF THEM.

THE ROMANCE IS A SECONDARY THREAD, JUST HINTING AT DEVELOPING INTO SOMETHING WONDERFUL. BUT IT'S THE MYSTERY AND PAIGE TURNER'S (HER MOM WAS A LIBRARIAN -- GET IT?) DRY WIT THAT TAKE PRECEDENCE THROUGHOUT NIPPED IN THE BUD.

I LOVE PAIGE!!!! HER QUIRKINESS KEPT ME SMILING EVEN THOUGH SHE WAS INVESTIGATING A MURDER. PAIGE COMPARES EVERY PERSON SHE MEETS TO A PLANT:

TO ME, RACHEL WAS A PETUNIA, PRETTY AND INNOCENT ON THE OUTSIDE. WHEN YOU GOT CLOSE AND NIPPED OFF THE FLOWERS, YOUR FINGERS CAME AWAY STICKY AND HARD TO CLEAN. WHEN YOU CAME AWAY FROM BEAUTIFUL RACHEL, NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU TRIED TO GET RID OF THE PAINFUL THINGS SHE OFTEN SAID, THEY STUCK TO YOU FOR THE REST OF THE DAY.

HOW FUN IS THAT??????

EACH CHAPTER IS INTRODUCED FROM AN EXCERPT OF PAIGE'S RADIO SHOW, THROUGH THE GARDEN GATE. THESE ARE HYSTERICAL 'AMELIA BEDELIA' STYLE SNIPPETS WITH PAIGE'S AVID LISTENERS WHO ALL SEEM TO TAKE HER MUCH TOO LITERALLY.

NIPPED IN THE BUD IS A FUN ESCAPE READ AND DEFINITELY A GREAT CHRISTMAS GIFT FOR THE GARDENER/READER ON YOUR LIST!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Time to Love


CAMERON, BARBARA
A TIME TO LOVE

War correspondent Jennie King thinks she’s just a temporary guest in her grandmother’s Amish community while she recuperates from the devastating injuries sustained in a car bomb attack that changed her world. But when she meets Matthew Bontrager, the man she had a crush on as a teenager, she wonders if God has a new plan for her. Jennie has emotional and physical scars and though she feels she has come home to this man and this place, she's not sure she can bridge the difference between their worlds.

IF I HAD TO DESCRIBE BARBARA CAMERON'S WRITING STYLE I WOULD SAY THAT THE WORDS FLOW -- SMOOTH, FLUID AND SEAMLESS. HER WORK IS A JOY TO READ AND I WAS THOROUGHLY CAPTIVATED BY THE FIRST IN HER QUILTS OF LANCASTER COUNTY SERIES.

I THINK ONE OF THE THINGS THAT MADE THIS BOOK SUCH A SUCCESSFUL READ FOR ME WAS THE CONTRAST BETWEEN THE CHAOS AND VIOLENCE THAT JENNY LIVED THROUGH AND THE PEACEFUL CALM OF THE AMISH COMMUNITY SHE RECUPERATES IN. HER BRUSH WITH DEATH HAS HER RE-EVALUATING SOME OF HER CHOICES IN LIFE, AND WHILE SHE'S ALWAYS BEEN A BELIEVER, SHE LEARNS ANEW HOW TO TRUST IN GOD'S WILL. HER STORY IS A POWERFUL ONE, AND CAN EASILY BE IDENTIFIED WITH BY ANYONE WHO HAS FACED A CRISIS THAT HAS FORCED THEM TO MAKE SIMILAR EVALUATIONS.

THE DEVELOPING ROMANCE BETWEEN JENNY AND MATTHEW IS SLOW AND STEADY, GROWING OUT OF A RENEWED FRIENDSHIP AND GROUNDED BY MATTHEW'S THREE CHILDREN. THERE WAS SUCH JOY AND REVERENCE IN THE FAMILY SCENES! I LOVED READING ABOUT THE CHILDREN ALMOST AS MUCH AS I LOVED READING THE ROMANCE.

CAMERON'S CHARACTERS -- ALL OF THEM FROM LITTLE ANNIE BONTRAGER TO ELDERLY PHOEBE KING -- WERE WELL-DEFINED AND MEMORABLE. I FELT A CONNECTION AND THE FEEL OF COMMUNITY -- ALMOST AS IF I HAD VISITED THE AREA AND MET THE PEOPLE.

IN SOME WAYS I THINK JENNY'S GRANDMOTHER STOLE THE SHOW. THE BOOK IS PEPPERED WITH HER SAGE WISDOM, AMISH STYLE. SUCH WISE, SOUND COUNSEL THAT INSPIRES ME TO APPLY IT IN MY OWN LIFE.

THIS IS MY FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH A BARBARA CAMERON NOVEL BUT IT WON'T BE MY LAST! IT'S DEFINITELY HEADED TO MY KEEPER SHELF!!!!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Wrangler in Petticoats


WRANGLER IN PETTICOATS
CONNEALY, MARY

Tough Texan cowgirl, Sally McClellan, heads to Montana to visit her pregnant sister, Mandy. But when her traveling party is attacked, Sally is left for dead. Will the handsome rescuer who bound up her wounds give her the motivation to mend her manly ways?

Logan MacKenzie is a fine artist, but the beauty of the Rockies is not the only thing he is passionate about. He can't help but be attracted to Sally, a cowgirl who prefers riveted jeans over ribbons and lace. Is there any way he will be able to heal and tame this wild wrangler?

Danger prevails when outlaws return to permanently silence Sally, the only witness to their treacherous deeds. Will this fractured female survive long enough to capture the artist's love -- or find herself lost in a dreamscape rendered by her lonely heart?

JOHN WAYNE WOULD HAVE APPROVED OF SALLY MCCLELLAN. SHE'S A WOMAN AFTER ROOSTER COGBURN'S HEART -- A WILD WEST HEROINE WITH TRUE GRIT. WRANGLER IN PETTICOATS STARTS WITH A BANG...LITERALLY. ITS FAST PACED AND NAIL-BITING OPENING LEFT ME BREATHLESS AND MORE THEN A LITTLE MORTIFIED! DEFINITELY NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART! I COULDN'T BELIEVE THAT EVEN CONNEALY WOULD DO ALL THAT TO HER HEROINE IN THE FIRST CHAPTER! BUT SALLY ROSE TO THE OCCASION, AS ONLY A LEGENDARY WILD WEST WOMAN COULD AND SO BEGINS ANOTHER INCREDIBLE TALE FROM CONNEALY.

I LOVED SALLY -- THE CONTRAST IN HER PERSONALITY WAS INTRIGUING. HER NEED TO ASSERT AND BE STRONG; HER FEAR OF SHOWING ANY WEAKNESS ALL WAR WITH THE WOMANLY DESIRE TO BE CARED FOR, ADMIRED AND LOVED. SHE CAN'T SEEM TO MARRY THE TWO EXTREMES TOGETHER AND WATCHING AS SHE PUZZLES IT OUT ALL THROUGH WRANGLER IN PETTICOATS WAS A REAL REVELATION.

LOGAN IS ANOTHER OF CONNEALY'S UNLIKELY HEROES. IN MANY WAYS HE'S THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT WE'VE COME TO EXPECT FROM A WILD WEST HERO, BUT THAT DOESN'T MAKE HIM ANY LESS OF ONE. IN FACT I LOVED THE TWIST AND THE WHOLE ARTIST ANGLE MADE MY HEART SING. I HAVE A REAL ADMIRATION FOR ARTISTS -- ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO CHRONICLED THE SETTLING OF THE NORTH AMERICAN WEST IN PAINT AND CHARCOAL SO IT WAS A THRILL TO READ ABOUT ONE SUCH ARTIST.
THE ONLY THING I'M NOT PLEASED ABOUT IS WHAT CONNEALY DID TO POOR MANDY (SALLY'S SISTER). I'M GLAD THAT I ONLY HAVE TO WAIT A FEW MONTHS BEFORE SHARPERSHOOTER IN PETTICOATS COMES OUT...JUST LONG ENOUGH FOR ME TO GROW MY NAILS OUT TO BITING LENGTH!!!!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

In Search of Love


LYNXWILER, CHRISTINE
IN SEARCH OF LOVE

Winner of 2003 ACRW Book of the Year award in the Short Contemporary Romance category

Annalisa Davis has lost much - her father deserted the family, her mother died of cancer, and her infant sister was taken away from her by social workers. Now, after seven years of frugal living on a bookkeeping job salary, Annalisa has saved a tidy sum of money in hopes of gaining her sister back.

Cade McFadden is taking a leave of absence from his PI business and building a ranch for troubled boys. When Annalisa hires on as cook for the ranch, Cade has no idea of her motivation to involve him in a missing child case.

Cade is quick to find a lead on Annalisa's sister, but will he be able to reveal any information to Annalisa?

BONUS: This book is available free online at: http://www.heartsongpresents.com/read/in-search-of-love/ I just discovered that by accident when I was searching for a cover image for the book. I got my copy (and the other three in the series) at a HUGE discount at my Christian bookstore.

THIS IS THE FOURTH BOOK I HAVE READ BY CHRISTINE LYNXWILER AND SHE HAS PERFECTED THE ART OF WRITING ROMANCE. HER PLOTS ARE COMPELLING, HER CHARACTERS ENGAGING AND HER PACING IS SUPERB! AND LYNXWILER'S WRITING STYLE IS SMOOTH AND EASY TO READ. IN SEARCH OF LOVE CERTAINLY LIVED UP TO MY EXPECTATIONS.

LYNXWILER HOOKED ME IN FROM THE VERY FIRST PAGE -- A PROLOGUE FEATURING THE HEROINE, ANNALISA, AS A YOUNG TEEN. HER STORY IS HAUNTING, AND HER STRUGGLE TO COME TO GRIPS WITH THE PAST SO THAT THE FUTURE CAN BE BETTER FOR EVERYONE SHE LOVES -- INCLUDING HERSELF -- STIRRED THIS READER'S EMOTIONS. AND I LOVE GETTING EMOTIONALLY INVOLVED WITH MY CHARACTERS!

CADE HAS HIS OWN HISTORY THAT CLASHES WITH ANNALISA'S NEEDS AND YET I FELT SYMPATHY FOR THEM BOTH. THE TENSION BETWEEN THE TWO AS THEY FIGHT THEIR GROWING ATTRACTION WHILE HOLDING FAST TO THEIR BELIEFS IS PALPABLE.

IN SEARCH OF LOVE IS AN EMOTIONAL-ON-THE-EDGE-OF-YOUR-SEAT READ THAT I WOULD DEFINITELY RECOMMEND TO ROMANCE LOVERS.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Healer's Apprentice


DICKERSON, MELANIE
THE HEALER'S APPRENTICE

Rose has been appointed as a healer's apprentice at Hagenheim Castle, a rare opportunity for a woodcutter's daughter like her. While she often feels uneasy at the sight of blood, Rose is determined to prove herself capable. Failure will mean returning home to marry the aging bachelor her mother has chosen for her -- a bloated, disgusting merchant who makes Rose feel ill.

When Lord Hamlin, the future duke, is injured, it is Rose who must tend to him. As she works to heal his wound, she begins to understand emotions she's never felt before and wonders if he feels the same. But falling in love is forbidden, as Lord Hamlin is betrothed to a mysterious young woman in hiding. As Rose's life spins toward confusion, she must take the first steps on a journey to discover her own destiny.

I HAVE BEEN ANXIOUSLY (AND IMPATIENTLY) WAITING FOR THIS BOOK TO COME OUT FOR MONTHS! I HAVE A REAL PASSION FOR FAIRY TALE ADAPTATIONS AND HAVE NEVER READ A CHRISTIAN ONE. MELANIE'S DEBUT IS A STUNNING RENDITION OF SLEEPING BEAUTY.

THERE ARE SO MANY LAYERS TO THIS STORY AND TONS OF DISCUSSION OPPORTUNITIES FOR BOOK CLUB CHATS. IT IS CLASSIFIED AS A YOUNG ADULT NOVEL, BUT ANYONE WHO LOVES A FAIRY TALE ROMANCE WILL WANT TO DELVE INTO THE PAGES OF THE HEALER'S APPRENTICE. AND THIS WOULD BE A GREAT PICK FOR A MOTHER/DAUGHTER BOOK CLUB FOR MOMS AND THEIR TEENS.

RICH WITH DESCRIPTION, DICKERSON'S WORDS FLOW, CREATING A TANGIBLE WORLD THAT COMES ALIVE IN THE PAGES OF HER BOOK. AND THE CHARACTERS ARE EXCEPTIONALLY CRAFTED. THE HEROINE AND THE HERO BOTH HAVE NOBLE QUALITIES, BUT DICKERSON HAS DOUSED THEM WITH ENOUGH QUIRKS AND FAILINGS TO MAKE THEM REAL AND THEIR STRUGGLES BELIEVABLE.

THIS IS THE KIND OF BOOK YOU CAN LOSE YOURSELF IN. THE KIND OF BOOK YOU WANT TO READ ALOUD JUST TO HEAR THE FINELY-CRAFTED WORDS. IT'S THE KIND OF BOOK THAT UPLIFTS AND ENTERTAINS AND IS DEFINITELY THE KIND OF BOOK THAT SHOULD FIND IT'S WAY ONTO EVERY LIBRARY SHELF.

A HEALER'S APPRENTICE IS A BRILLIANT DEBUT NOVEL.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Blessings


SAWYER, KIM VOGEL
BLESSINGS

For as long as she can remember, Trina Muller has had a special affinity with animals. When the local vet, Dr. Groening, recognizes Trina’s passion and abilities, he assures her that she can take over his practice when she becomes a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. But that’s a career of which her parents heartily disapprove. Can God be so cruel as to give Trina the gift of healing without also giving her the avenue to use it?Graham Ortmann loves Trina, but when he finds out about her plans to attend college, he’s outraged. How can he marry someone who is determined to step outside the dictates of the Old Order Mennonite fellowship?

When a young man with a D.M.V. in hand approaches Dr. Groening about purchasing his practice, Trina’s dreams seem to be crumbling right in front of her. Is this a sign from God that she isn’t meant to be a vet after all?

SAWYER HAS A GIFT FOR CREATING CHARACTERS THAT MATTER. I WAS INVESTED IN TRINA FROM THE FIRST TIME I MET HER. BRIGHT, VIVACIOUS, FULL OF LIFE AND HAPPINESS. SHE IS LEADING THE PERFECT LIFE FOR AN OLD ORDER MENNONITE YOUNG WOMAN...OR SO IT SEEMS. BUT SAWYER CAREFULLY DIGS BENEATH THE LAYERS OF TRINA'S LIFE UNTIL WE CAN FEEL HER HEARTACHE AND CONFUSION. CAUGHT BETWEEN A GOD-GIVEN TALENT AND THE STRICT DICTATES OF HER GOD-FEARING RELIGION SHE IS AT ODDS WITH EVERYONE SHE LOVES...INCLUDING GRAHAM.

THOUGH THIS BOOK DEALS WITH THE OLD ORDER MENNONITE FAITH, IT WAS EASY FOR ME TO MAKE CONNECTIONS BETWEEN TRINA'S STRUGGLE TO LIVE TRUE TO HERSELF AND HER FAITH.

I FOUND GRAHAM A PARTICULARLY COMPELLING HERO. I ENJOYED THE GROWTH IN HIS CHARACTER, HIS WILLINGNESS TO EXPLORE ALTERNATIVES, TO NOT ONLY PRAY ABOUT PERSONAL PROBLEMS BUT TO LISTEN FOR ANSWERS -- AND RECOGNIZE THEM WHEN THEY COME.

SAWYER THROWS SOME CURVE BALLS INTO THE PLOT TO KEEP HER READERS TURNING PAGES. IN FACT, BY MID-BOOK I COULDN'T FIGURE OUT HOW SHE WAS GOING TO BRING IT TO A SATISFACTORY CONCLUSION. AND ONE MAJOR HAIRPIN TURN TOOK ME COMPLETELY BY SURPRISE!

THIS WAS A VERY ENJOYABLE AND THOUGHT-PROVOKING READ.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Autumn Rains


JOHNSON, MYRA
AUTUMN RAINS

Healy Ferguson knows all about prisons, both the physical one he's been released from and the emotional one he keeps himself trapped in. He knows paying dues to society doesn't always mean you've paid dues to yourself, and often the price you exact on yourself far exceeds the crime.

Valerie Bishop is caught in the emotional prison of post-traumatic stress disorder, unable to venture more than a few feet out her back door. Shadowy moments from a night she can't fully remember bombard her without warning, keeping her trapped between the painful past and a future that seems hopeless.

But God promises to repay the years that have been lost; for those who trust in Him. He promises refreshing, life-giving rain. Will Val and Healy trust to see God's perfect plan, or will they choose the chains that hold them back?

I WAS EXCITED TO FIND THIS AT MY CHRISTIAN BOOK STORE AS, LIKE THE STEEPLE HILL LINES, I DON'T THINK HEARTSONG PRESENTS TITLES HAVE A LONG SHELF LIFE. THIS IS MY FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH THIS PUBLISHER AND AUTHOR AND I HAVE TO SAY I AM IMPRESSED.

MYRA JOHNSON DID A MASTERFUL JOB OF TELLING A HEART-TUGGING STORY WITH SUCH A LIMITED WORD COUNT. (THIS IS A SLIM VOLUME THAT WOULD EASILY FIT IN MY PURSE -- 172 PAGES.) CAREFULLY CRAFTED CHARACTERS WITH DEFINITE FLAWS AND HUMAN STRUGGLES SET THE TONE FOR THIS ENDEARING LOVE STORY ABOUT FORGIVENESS, HOPE AND LETTING GO IN ORDER TO GRAB ONTO SOMETHING EVEN GREATER.

JOHNSON MADE EVERY WORD COUNT AND I IMMEDIATELY FELT A CONNECTION WITH BOTH HEALY AND VALERIE. THEIR PARALLEL STRUGGLES FOR FREEDOM FROM EMOTIONAL ISSUES, THEIR PERSONAL GROWTH AND THE WAY THEY COMPLIMENTED AND ENCOURAGED ONE ANOTHER MADE FOR AN INSPIRATIONAL READ. BUT THE STORY WASN'T SUGAR-COATED. AUTUMN RAINS DEALS WITH GRITTY, REAL-LIFE ISSUES BUT IT ALSO DELIVERS TIMELESS GOSPEL TRUTHS THAT BRING HOPE.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Heart of a Cowboy


DALEY, MARGARET
HEART OF A COWBOY

Ten years ago Jordan Masterson left her hometown heartbroken -- and pregnant. Now, yearning for connection with her family, the single mother returns to Tallgrass, Oklahoma. But she's shocked to find her son's father -- unaware he has a child -- a vital parat of the community. Zachary Rutgers owns the ranch that the local homeschoolers use for riding and recreation. Which means little Nicholas, Jordan and Zachary will be spending a lot of time together. Jordan must tell Zachary the truth about their son -- and ask for answers herself. Hoping the heart of her cowboy will be hers for the taking.

Part of the Helping Hands Homeschooling series.

MARGARET DALEY KNOWS HOW TO PULL EMOTION OUT OF HER READERS...AT LEAST OUT OF THIS ONE. SHE DID AN AMAZING JOB OF HITTING FAST AND HARD WITH THE PLOT IN HEART OF A COWBOY.

I KNEW IT WOULD TAKE A LOT FOR ME TO FEEL CONNECTION WITH A HEROINE WHO HAS KEPT THE EXSISTENCE OF HER CHILD A SECRET FROM HIS FATHER FOR TEN YEARS. MY MIND WAS ALREADY CONJURING UP THE WHAT IF'S A FEW PAGES IN BUT DALEY DID AN EXCELLENT JOB OF GARNERING MY SYMPATHY FOR JORDAN'S PREDICAMENT...AND FOR ZACHARY'S. IN FACT I WAS PULLED BETWEEN THE TWO THE WHOLE BOOK WHICH MADE FOR A COMPELLING READ!

THIS IS A STORY ABOUT FORGIVENESS AND LOVE...AND MOST OF ALL, SECOND CHANCES.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Love Remains


DACUS, KAYE
LOVE REMAINS

Can the historian learn to leave the past in the past?

Zarah Mitchell, who's worked at the Middle Tennessee Historic Preservation Commission for more than a decade, is about to face a piece of history that could ruin the life she's built in Nashville: Bobby Patterson -- her first love and the reason her father kicked her out fourteen years ago.

Nashville native Bobby Patterson has just returned home after many years away to take a position with the Tennessee Criminal Investigations Unit. His new job: lead a task force investigating potential real estate fraud connected with the Commission.

When Bobby realizes Zarah is part of his investigation, he is tempted to use his grandmother's not-so-subtle setup as a way to learn if Zarah is involved in the fraud.

Zarah, at her grandmother's suggestion, tries to put the pain from the past aside to see if any love remains between her and Bobby. But when she learns he's been investigating her, will she be able to forgive him a second time?

I FOUND THIS BOOK FULL OF REFRESHING SURPRISES. KAYE DACUS HAS TAKEN CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE TO A NEW LEVEL WITH LOVE REMAINS.

THINGS I LOVED ABOUT THIS BOOK:

I LOVED THE SLOW BUILD...SHE TAKES THE TIME TO LET US GET TO KNOW THE CHARACTERS AND SETTING. BESIDES THE HERO AND HEROINE THERE ARE A NUMBER OF OTHER KEY CHARACTERS AND YET I NEVER FELT LOST OR HAD TO CHECK BACK TO REMEMBER WHO SO-AND-SO WAS. EVERY ONE WAS A UNIQUE INDIVIDUAL FROM THE MOMENT I 'MET' THEM.

I LOVED THE PACING. DACUS IS A MASTER AT DEVELOPING CHARACTERS THAT READERS CAN CONNECT WITH. SHE KEEPS OUR INTEREST BY REVEALING BITS OF INFORMATION OVER THE COURSE OF THE BOOK. WITH EACH NEW 'REVEAL' WE UNDERSTAND THE CHARACTER AND HIS/HER MOTIVATION JUST A LITTLE BIT MORE. IT'S VERY MUCH THE WAY A REAL FRIENDSHIP DEVELOPS AND MAYBE THAT'S WHY I FEEL LIKE I'VE JUST MET A GROUP OF NEW FRIENDS BY THE END OF THE BOOK!

I LOVED THE CHURCH SINGLES ANGLE! FULL OF SOME HARD TRUTHS, IRREVERENT HUMOUR AND THE PAIN OF CHANGE. DACUS GOT THE DYNAMICS -- AND THE EMOTIONS THEY CREATED -- JUST RIGHT.

I LOVED THE PREMISE TO THE WHOLE SERIES -- MEDDLESOME GRANDMAMMAS OUT TO MATCHMAKE THEIR GRANDCHILDREN. AND DACUS GIVES US GLIMPSES INTO THE LIVES OF THESE CLASSY WOMEN AND THEIR RELATIONSHIPS WITH THEIR GRANDCHILDREN.

I LOVED THE DEVELOPING CONNECTION BETWEEN THE HERO AND HEROINE. THIS IS WHERE DACUS SURPRISED ME THE MOST. SHE COULD HAVE GONE IN A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT (AND PREDICTABLE) DIRECTION A NUMBER OF TIMES BUT SHE DID THE UNEXPECTED AND THAT MADE THE ROMANTIC ELEMENTS SOAR.

I LOVED HOW IMMERSED I BECAME IN THE WHOLE READING EXPERIENCE. I FELT LIKE I HAD BEEN DROPPED RIGHT INTO THE MIDDLE OF THAT SINGLES GROUP AND WAS AN AVID SPECTATOR STRAIGHT THROUGH TO THE CONCLUSION OF LOVE REMAINS. AN EXCELLENT READ AND I AN ANXIOUSLY AWAITING THE SECOND IN THE SERIES WHICH WILL BE OUT IN THE SPRING.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Formula for Danger


TANG, CAMY
FORMULA FOR DANGER

Someone wants dermatologist Rachel Grant's latest research, and they'll do anything to get it, including trashing the plants needed for her breakthrough scar-reducing cream -- and trying to run Rachel down. Desperate for help, she turns to Edward Villa, the only man she trusts. But the greenhouse owner knows too much about Rachel's research, and now he's a target too. Break-ins, muggings, murder...the would-be thief is getting desperate -- and getting closer. Edward vows to protect Rachel at all costs. Yet with time ticking away, Edward knows they have to uncover the madman shadowing Rachel before their chance for a future is destroyed.

THIS LOVE INSPIRED NOVEL HAS SUPENSE WITH A CAPTIAL 'S'! FROM THE ACTION-PACKED OPENING SCENE TO THE NAIL-BITING CONCLUSION, FORMULA FOR DANGER IS PACKED WITH NERVE-RACKING SUSPENSE.


THE INNOVATIVE PLOT WAS VERY DIFFERENT FROM OTHER LOVE INSPIRED SUSPENSE THAT I HAVE READ AND I ENJOYED THE FACT THAT THE HERO WASN'T IN LAW ENFORCEMENT -- ANOTHER THING THAT MAKES THIS BOOK UNIQUE.

AMIDST ALL THE ACTION AND ANGST, TANG STILL MANAGES TO WEAVE A TOUCHING INSPIRATIONAL THREAD THAT, COMBINED WITH THE SUSPENSE, MAKES THIS A SATISFYING READ.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Hope Undaunted


LESSMAN, JULIE
A HOPE UNDAUNTED

What happens when the boy she loved to hate becomes the man she hates to love?

The 1920s are drawing to a close, and feisty Katie O'Connor is the epitome of the new woman -- smart and sassy with goals for her future that include the perfect husband -- good-looking, well-connected, wealthy and eating out of her hand. But when she is forced to spend the summer of 1929 with Luke McGee, the bane of her childhood existence, Katie comes face-to-face with a choice. Will she follow her well-laid plans to marry Jack? Or will she fall for the man she swore to despise forever?

A HOPE UNDAUNTED IS THE FIRST IN THE SECOND SERIES ABOUT THE O’CONNOR FAMILY. EACH BOOK HIGHLIGHTS ONE OF THE O’CONNOR SIBLINGS BUT LESSMAN MAKES SURE TO ADD LIBERAL DOSES OF THE REST OF THE CLAN TO LEAVE DEVOTED FANS SATISFIED…OR CLAMORING FOR MORE…DEPENDING ON HOW INSATIABLE A READER YOU ARE.

ONE OF THE THINGS I LOVE BEST ABOUT LESSMAN’S WRITING IS THE UNHURRIED WAY SHE LAYS OUT A STORY. SHE DOESN’T SCRIMP ON DETAILS AND TAKES THE TIME TO BUILD THE PLOT AND ALL THAT LOVELY TENSION. IN FACT SHE DID IT SO CAREFULLY IN THIS BOOK THAT I WAS ALMOST LULLED INTO A FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY!

“WOW, THIS ISN’T SO BAD,” I THOUGHT TO MYSELF A TIME OR TWO AT THE BEGINNING OF THE BOOK. KATIE HAD SOME GROWING UP TO DO AND THE ANTAGONISTIC SPARKS FLYING BETWEEN LUKE AND KATIE WERE A LITTLE DAUNTING TO BE SURE, BUT THEY COULD BE OVERCOME…EVENTUALLY. OR SO I THOUGHT.

LESSMAN KEPT THE PLOT TWISTS TIGHT AND SHARP IN A HOPE UNDAUNTED. I GAVE UP TRYING TO SECOND GUESS HER SOMEWHERE AROUND THE MIDDLE OF THE BOOK. THINGS THAT I COULD NEVER IMAGINE HAPPENING DID. ONE SUB-PLOT WENT FROM ME DREADING THE WORSE TO BEING RELIEVED WHEN IT DIDN’T HAPPEN ONLY TO BARELY SURVIVE BEING SUCKER PUNCHED BY THE AUTHOR WHEN THAT WORST FEAR WAS REALIZED AFTER ALL!

IN FACT, LESSMAN SURPRISED ME A LOT IN THIS BOOK AS SHE TOSSED PREDICTABILITY OUT THE WINDOW AND WENT FOR THIS READER’S JUGULAR TIME AND TIME AGAIN! I RAN A FULL GAMUT OF EMOTIONS ALL WEEK AS I READ, DIGESTED, READ SOME MORE AND ALMOST TOSSED THE BOOK ACROSS THE ROOM. I CLOSED IT INSTEAD, VOWING I WOULD NEVER READ ANOTHER SENTENCE AND THEN PROMPTLY OPENED IT AND STARTED READING AGAIN!

I READ THE EMOTIONALLY CHARGED ENDING ON THE BUS RIDE HOME AND MANAGED TO MAKE IT TO THE SAFETY OF MY BEDROOM BEFORE I BURST INTO TEARS AND CRIED MY HEART OUT FOR HALF AN HOUR. PHEW! TALK ABOUT EMOTIONALLY DRAINING! AND I LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT!

IF YOU LIKE TO BECOME EMOTIONALLY ENGAGED IN A GOOD BOOK, IF YOU LIKE DEPTH IN YOUR CHARACTERS, SURPRISE IN YOUR PLOTS, ROMANCE THAT CURLS YOUR TOES AND PUTS BEADS OF SWEAT ON YOUR BROW, THEN I GUARANTEE YOU WILL LOVE THIS FIRST BOOK IN THE WINDS OF CHANGE SERIES

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Bridge of Peace



WOODSMALL, CINDY
THE BRIDGE OF PEACE

Lena Kauffman is a young Old Order Amish schoolteacher who has dealt all her life with attention raised by a noticeable birthmark on her cheek. Having learned to move past the stares and whispers, Lena channels her zest for living into her love of teaching. But tensions mount as she is challenged to work with a rebellious young man and deal with several crises at the schoolhouse that threaten her other students. Her lack of submission and use of ideas that don't line up with the Old Order Ways strengthen the school board's case as they begin to believe that Lena is behind all the trouble.

One member of the school board, Grey Graber, feels trapped by his own stifling circumstances. His wife, Elsie, has shut him out of her life, and he doesn't know how long he can continue to live as if nothing is wrong. As the two finally come to a place of working toward a better marriage, tragedy befalls the family.

Lena and Grey have been life-long friends, but their relationship begins to crumble amidst unsettling deceptions, propelling each of them to finally face their own secrets. Can they both find a way past their losses and discover the strength to build a new bridge?

HAVE YOU EVER PICKED UP A BOOK THAT YOU COULDN'T PUT DOWN BUT HAD TO BECAUSE YOU COULDN'T BEAR TO READ ANY MORE BUT THEN YOU PICKED IT RIGHT BACK UP AGAIN BECAUSE YOU CAN'T BEAR NOT KNOWING WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN? LOL. MAYBE I'M THE ONLY ONE WHO GETS SO EMOTIONALLY INVOLVED WITH THE CHARACTERS THAT SOMETIMES IT JUST PLAIN HURTS TO READ. ANYWAY, THE BRIDGE OF PEACE WAS THAT KIND OF BOOK FOR ME.

IT'S THE SECOND IN THE ADA'S HOUSE SERIES, AND WHILE READING THE FIRST BOOK, THE HOPE OF REFUGE, ISN'T COMPLETELY NECESSARY, IT WOULD ENRICH YOUR ENJOYMENT OF THIS ONE. BE PREPARED FOR AN EDGY READ, THOUGH. THIS ISN'T YOUR TYPICAL AMISH ROMANCE AS WOODSMALL HAS INTRODUCED A DARKER ELEMENT TO THE THE PLOT, MAKING THE BRIDGE OF PEACE A DEFINITE PAGE-TURNER.

LENA IS SO MUCH FUN! I REALLY ENJOYED HER CHARACTER, HER MISCHIEF-MAKING AND DELIGHT IN SHARING LAUGHTER WITH THOSE AROUND HER. SHE'S DEFINITELY A DIFFERENT IMAGE OF WHAT YOU MIGHT THINK A STEREOTYPICAL AMISH WOMAN WOULD BE. AND I ADORED THE RELATIONSHIP SHE HAS WITH HER FATHER. SO LOVING AND GENTLE, WITH LOTS OF TEASING THROWN IN. HE WAS SUCH HAVEN FOR HER AS MORE AND MORE DIFFICULTIES AROSE.

I ALSO APPRECIATED THE RECURRING ROLES OF FAVOURITE CHARACTERS, CARA, EPHRAIM, ADA AND DEBORAH (NOT TO MENTION BETTER DAYS) FROM THE HOPE OF REFUGE. WOODSMALL DEFTLY WOVE THEIR STORIES IN AND AROUND LENA'S MAKING THIS BOOK A RICH AND SATISFYING READ. I AM NOW ON TENTERHOOKS WAITING FOR THE THIRD IN THE SERIES. NO IDEA OF TITLE OR PUBLISHING DATE YET, BUT I CAN'T WAIT!!!!!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Making Waves


SEILSTAD, LORNA
MAKING WAVES

When spunky Marguerite Westing discovers that her family will summer at Lake Manawa in 1895, she couldn't be more thrilled. It is the perfect way to escape her agonizingly boring suitor, Roger Gordon. It's also where she stumbles upon two new loves: sailing, and sailing instructor Trip Andrews. But this summer of fun turns to turmoil as her father's gambling problems threaten to ruin the family forever. Will free-spirited Marguerite marry Roger to save her father's name and fortune? Or will she follow her heart -- even if it means abandoning the family she loves?

I'M SO THRILLED TO BE ABLE TO GIVE THIS REVIEW BECAUSE I KNOW LORNA AND HAVE READ SOME OF HER UNPUBLISHED WORK. WE BELONG TO A SMALL LITTLE GROUP OF 'WRITING ENCOURAGERS' AFFECTIONATELY DUBBED 'THE SCRIBBLERS' SO I'VE BEEN THERE (IN CYBERSPACE) FROM THAT FATEFUL ACFW CONFERENCE TO THE EDITOR/AGENT CALL AND THE WHOLE BIRTHING OF THIS WONDERFUL BOOK. I COULDN'T WAIT TO GET MY HANDS ON MAKING WAVES, IRRITATED BECAUSE IT HIT CANADIAN BOOKSTORES LATER THAN THE AMERICAN ONES. BUT IT HAS ARRIVED AT LAST AND I HAVE DEVOURED IT AND HERE IS MY REVIEW!

WORDS LIKE 'FRESH', 'WITTY' AND ENTERTAINING' HAVE BEEN REPEATED OVER AND OVER TO DESCRIBE LORNA'S WRITING STYLE IN REVIEWS AND BLOGS I'VE READ AND I HAVE TO ECHO THEM. THERE'S SOMETHING DIFFERENT ABOUT LORNA'S STYLE. MAYBE IT'S HER QUIRKY HEROINE, MARGUERITE WHO UTTERS THE MOST OUTLANDISH PRAYER REQUESTS THROUGHOUT THE BOOK. OR MAYBE IT'S LORNA'S COMEDIC TIMING OR THE SUBTLETIES SHE USES TO SHOW US THE INNER WORKINGS OF HER HEART-PALPITATING HERO, TRIP ANDREWS. IT COULD ALSO BE THE WAY SHE WEAVES AN IMPORTANT GOSPEL MESSAGE INTO THE MIX WITHOUT IT SEEMING FORCED OR PREACHY. NOT TO MENTION THE WAY SHE WRITES AN ACTION SCENE! OY, I COULD GO ON TRYING TO ANALYZE WHAT MAKES THIS BOOK SO UNIQUE AMONG OTHER HISTORICALS BUT NO MATTER WHAT I SAY, I FEEL LIKE I'M NOT QUITE GETTING TO THE HEART OF IT, SO I'LL SIMPLY TELL YOU WHAT I LOVED ABOUT MAKING WAVES INSTEAD.

LOVED THE SETTING -- DEFINITELY DIFFERENT, COMPLETELY FASCINATING. I ACTUALLY THINK I COULD ENJOY CAMPING IF I COULD BRING ALONG MY SERVANTS AND FURNITURE AS WELL! LORNA'S ATTENTION TO DETAIL FROM THE BATHING COSTUMES WITH THOSE ITCHY BLACK STOCKINGS (UGH) TO THE TECHNICALITIES OF SAILING BROUGHT THIS STORY TO LIFE.

LOVED THE HEROINE. 'FREE-SPIRIT' AND 'SPUNKY' ARE GREAT DESCRIPTORS FOR MARGUERITE. SHE HAS AN OUTGOING PERSONALITY BORNE OF A YOUNG WOMAN WHO HAS BEEN PAMPERED, BUT NOT SPOILED. HOWEVER, SHE IS NAIVE AS WELL -- ENOUGH TO THINK THAT IF SHE JUST WAITS LONG ENOUGH HER DADDY CAN FIX JUST ABOUT ANYTHING. AND SHE HAS A WAY OF TWISTING THE TRUTH JUST A SMIDGEN TO SMOOTH THINGS INTO GOING HER WAY. BUT WHILE THESE ATTRIBUTES CAN BE ENDEARING, THEY ALSO MAKE HER FALLIBLE WHICH KEPT ME ON THE EDGE OF MY 'READING' SEAT.

I DIDN'T JUST LOVE THE HERO, TRIP ANDREWS -- I FELL IN LOVE WITH HIM. FROM HIS DIMPLED SMILE TO HIS HONORABLE NATURE TO HIS PENCHANT FOR RESCUING MARGUERITE -- WELL, LET'S JUST SAY THAT HE IS DEFINITELY ON MY SWOONWORTHY LIST! OF COURSE, HE COULD BE INFURIATING AS WELL, SOMETIMES OVERLY FIXATED ON HIS SIDE OF THINGS, BUT -- HEAVY SIGH -- WITH A FLASH OF THOSE DIMPLES I WAS READY TO FORGIVE HIM ALL.

LOVED THE CONFLICT. ONE OF THE THINGS TRIP VALUES MOST IS HONESTY. HE HAS A PAST THAT MAKES HIM MORE SENSITIVE TO EVEN LITTLE 'WHITE' LIES -- THE KIND MARGUERITE HAPPILY INDULGES IN. AS I GOT DEEPER AND DEEPER INTO THE BOOK AN OMINOUS FEELING OF DOOM STARTED WEIGHING ME DOWN. GREAT MOTIVATION TO KEEP READING!

THE CHARACTER I MOST LOVED TO HATE: ROGER. EWWWW! I KNEW HE WASN'T THE MAN FOR MARGUERITE ON PAGE ONE...UNFORTUNATELY ROGER DIDN'T FIGURE THAT OUT UNTIL PAGE THREE HUNDRED AND SOMETHING! LOL. AND I HAVE TO SAY THAT MARGUERITE'S MOTHER, CAMILLE, CAME A CLOSE SECOND. WHAT KIND OF MOTHER COULD...WELL, I DON'T WANT TO GIVE ANYTHING AWAY. YOU'RE JUST GOING TO HAVE TO READ THE BOOK AND ENJOY EVERY SECOND OF IT LIKE I DID!!!!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Jane Austen ruined my life


PATTILLO, BETH
JANE AUSTEN RUINED MY LIFE

English professor Emma Grant has always done everything just the way her minister father told her she should -- a respectable marriage, a teaching job at a good college, and plans for the requisite two children. Life was prodigiously good, as her favorite author Jane Austen might say, until the day Emma finds her husband in bed with another woman. Suddenly, all her romantic notions a la Austen are exposed for the foolish dreams they are.

Denied tenure in the wake of the scandal and left penniless by the ensuing divorce, Emma packs up what few worldly possessions she has left and heads to England on a quest to find the missing letters of Jane Austen. Locating the elusive letters, however, isn't as straightforward as Emma hoped. The owner of the letters proves coy about her prize possessions, sending Emma on a series of Austen-related tasks that bring her closer and closer to the truth, but the sudden reappearance of Emma's first love makes everything more complicated.

In the end, Emma learns that doing the right thing has very little to do with other people's expectations and everything to do with her own beliefs. Laced with fictional excerpts from the missing letters, Jane Austen Ruined My Life is the story of a woman betrayed who uncovers the deeper meaning of loyalty.

SCHOLARS ESTIMATE THAT JANE AUSTEN WROTE OVER THREE THOUSAND LETTERS IN HER LIFE TIME. ALMOST ALL OF THEM WERE DESTROYED AT HER DEATH IN ORDER TO PROTECT HER PRIVACY...BUT WHAT IF MORE HAVE SURVIVED THE PASSAGE OF TIME THEN WE THINK? THE PLOT OF JANE AUSTEN RUINED MY LIFE IS BUILT UPON THIS UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE.

THE DELICIOUSLY MYSTERIOUS TASKS THAT EMMA IS GIVEN IN ORDER TO PROVE HERSELF TO THE FORMIDABLES, A SECRET JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY, TAKE THE READER ON A TOUR OF AUSTEN'S ENGLAND. BUT IT'S EMMA'S PERSONAL STRUGGLES THAT COME TO THE FOREFRONT DURING HER AUSTEN PILGRIMAGE THAT REALLY CAUGHT -- AND KEPT -- MY ATTENTION.

PATTILLO HAS CREATED MEMORABLE CHARACTERS -- INCLUDING THE FLAMBOYANT FORMIDABLE, MRS. PARROT. AND THEN THERE'S ADAM -- THE PERFECT, LONG-SUFFERING HERO. POOR ADAM, HE DOESN'T QUITE GET HIS HAPPILY EVER AFTER -- MORE HAPPILY EVER HOPE. I'D LOVE A SEQUEL THAT SORTS THAT OUT!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Halos


HEITZMANN, KRISTEN
HALOS

The halos she glimpsed around the sun was the first sign that this might be it -- the place she was searching for. Filled with hope and promise, Alessi Moore pulls into Charity amidst her first real snowfall. Enraptured by the pure, serene beauty of the little town, she just knows something good is coming.

But her almost heavenly impression is quickly dashed by an unforeseen loss. Left with nothing but the clothes on her back, Alessi is cast into the care of a reluctant party. Yet in a place where nothing could be wrong, darkness sometimes lurks.

WOW!!!! THERE IS SO MUCH I WANT TO SAY ABOUT THIS BOOK I'M NOT SURE WHERE TO START. FIRST OFF, IT WOULD MAKE A GREAT CHRISTMAS READ SINCE IT STARTS A COUPLE OF WEEKS BEFORE CHRISTMAS AND ENDS JUST AFTER CHRISTMAS AND THERE IS AN UNDERLYING MESSAGE OF CHRIST'S LOVE. IN MY MIND IT'S A CHRISTMAS CLASSIC WITH AS MUCH HOLIDAY IMPACT AS IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE. IT HAS THAT KIND OF FEEL TO IT. THE WRITING IS EXQUISITELY DESCRIPTIVE -- IT PLAYED LIKE A MOVIE IN MY MIND AS I READ. HERE'S AN EXAMPLE OF HEITZMANN'S SKILL AS A WORDSMITH:

"SO MANY LIVES HAD TOUCHED HERS AND MELTED AWAY, WALK-ONS IN HER MEMORY. BUT THESE PEOPLE WERE SINKING IN."

HEITZMANN IS ALSO SKILLED AT PACING BOTH HER CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT AND HER PLOT. SHE DOESN'T RUSH HER READERS OR OVERLOAD THEM WITH TOO MUCH INFORMATION. INSTEAD I FOUND MYSELF RELUCTANT TO PUT THE BOOK DOWN BECAUSE I WANTED TO KNOW MORE. WHAT MADE ALESSI AND STEVE REACT TO THINGS THE WAY THEY DID? WHY WAS THE SHERIFF ACTING SO STRANGELY? SOMETIMES THE WHOLE TOWN SEEMED LIKE SOMETHING OUT OF THE TWILIGHT ZONE. WHAT WAS GOING ON HERE? HEITZMANN MADE SURE HER READERS STUCK WITH HER TO THE VERY END BY ARTFULLY CRAFTING A BLEND OF FRIENDSHIP, LOVE AND SUSPENSE THAT CONTINUED TO DEVELOP OVER THE COURSE OF THE BOOK.

ALESSI IS OPEN AND LIKABLE AND VULNERABLE AND KIND...ALMOST TOO INNOCENT FOR THIS WORLD. I WAS IMMEDIATELY DRAWN TO HER CHARACTER AND ENJOYED PUTTING TOGETHER THE PIECES OF HER PAST SO I COULD GET TO KNOW HER BETTER. I LOVED HER FREE SPIRIT -- THE PULL SHE HAD TOWARD HALOS OF LIGHT AND HER SURETY THAT THEY FORETOLD SOMETHING GOOD. SHE CREATED A MAGICAL FEEL TO THE STORY -- A BRILLIANT CHRISTMAS SPIRIT THAT ANCHORS EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING ELSE.

STEVE IS A BEAR. GROWLING, CLUMSY, AWKWARD -- WITH A TALENT FOR SAYING THE WRONG THING. AND CYNICAL. HOW DID HE GET TO BE SO CYNICAL? HE IS CRIPPLED BY HIS INABILITY TO WORK THROUGH PAST HURTS. THEY HAVE WARPED HIS MIND, AND WHILE AWARE OF THAT, HE DOESN'T REALLY WANT TO CHANGE...UNTIL ALESSA COMES TO TOWN. AND EVEN THEN, IT'S NOT SO MUCH THAT HE WANTS TO, BUT THAT IT HAPPENS IN SPITE OF HIMSELF, A LITTLE BIT AT A TIME. AGAIN IN HEITZMANN'S WORDS:

"SHE HAD UNLOCKED HIS HEART AND HIDDEN THE KEY IN HER OWN."

THERE IS A POWERFUL CLIMAX THAT PULLED SO MANY EMOTIONS OUT OF ME. FURY, IMPATIENCE, HORROR, DISBELIEF...HOPE, IN JUST A SPAN OF A FEW PAGES AND THEN, ONCE AGAIN WITH SLOW DELIBERATION, HEITZMANN LEADS HER READERS TO AN EMOTIONALLY SATISFYING ENDING.

THIS WOULD MAKE A FANTASTIC BOOK CLUB CHOICE. THERE ARE SO MANY WONDERFUL THREADS WORTHY OF DISCUSSION -- FROM HOW WE VIEW OUR PLACE IN THE WORLD TO HOW LIFE'S HARSHER MOMENTS DEFINE US AS INDIVIDUALS TO EXAMINING CHRIST'S PURPOSE AND WHAT CAPACITY WE ARE SERVING HIM HERE. THERE ARE JUST SO MANY LAYERS TO HALOS, I THINK IT WOULD INITIATE A VERY ANIMATED DISCUSSION! PLUS, IT WAS PUBLISHED IN 2004 SO IT SHOULD BE EASY TO FIND IT AT YOUR PUBLIC LIBRARY TOO WHICH IS ALWAYS A PLUS FOR BOOK CLUB SELECTIONS.