Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 Favorites

Bookvisions was created in April of 2009.  Not in any special order, here is a list of my top ten favorite books received for review this year with links to my reviews.  Be sure to leave a comment if you have read any of the books and let me know what you thought of them.

















The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths









Midnight in Madrid by Noel Hynd
















Silent Desperation by Jeffrey M Bryan




The Apostate Theory by Patrick J. Roelle





The Light, The Dark, & Ember Between by J.W. Nicklaus






When God Turned Off the Lights by Cecil Murphey





Thursday, December 24, 2009

Annie's Second Wind by Wally Carlson

Amazon.com  link for Annie's Second Wind


Book Description:
Abruptly the wizened figure that had been in a coma for three weeks sat up and pointed a gnarled finger at her sister. "Annie, the island farm is yours now. It is your legacy to guard." Annie winced, A DEATH BED PROMISE. A debt ridden farm in the middle of nowhere. How could it get worse? And then it did.... As the sole surviving relative to twin great-grandbabies, Annie is game, but the state says she's too old, too weird, and the farm still uses an outhouse. Annie needs a little help from her friends, a host of very eccentric aging American heroes with plenty of spunk to burn.

My Review:
Annie’s Second Wind by Wally Carlson started out well, but at some point the characters started to become annoying instead of quirky. There were a few interesting story lines, but the book just didn’t seem to focus anywhere. Starting out strong, the characters come together to revive the family farm on a rustic island. At some point word of mouth creates a desire by the terminally ill to come to the island to live out their last days. The stated plot of the book, which is the adoption of the twins by 78 year old Annie, doesn’t occur until the second half of the book. The behavior of Annie before and following the custody conflict made me want to root for DCFS to take the babies as far away as possible.


I think Annie’s Second Wind will appeal to readers who like numerous off-beat characters and cheering for the underdog. While it was not what I like or prefer, others may enjoy the humor and the story of friends coming together for a purpose. There are some interesting recipes at the end of the story, and several are a must-try!

About the Author:

Wally Carlson lives minutes away from Seven Sisters island in the Pacific Northwest with his wife, Vicki, close to his four adult children, his last "only child" Taylor, a chubby Jack Russell named Pal, a breast-cancer survivor wiener dog, Mindy, and twenty-five Rhode Island Reds.

I Used to Know That –Stuff you Forgot From School by Caroline Taggart

Amazon.com Link for I Used to Know That

Book Description:

This small but mighty collection will trigger your memory with fun facts you learned in school-from adverbs to the Pythagorean Theorem. Witty, engaging, entertaining-a book you'll pick up again and again.

Author Caroline Taggart discovered two things while researching this book and talking with other people: One, everybody had been to school. And two, they had all forgotten entirely different things. Contained in this handy little book are the facts that you learned in school, but may not remember completely or accurately. Covering a variety of subjects, this book features all the most important theories, equations, phrases, and rules we were all taught years ago.

Rediscover:

* History: The first president to occupy the White House was John Adams in 1800

* Religion: The seven deadly sins and the names of the twelve apostles

* Literature: In which Shakespearean play "The quality of mercy" speech appears

* Science: The periodic table of elements devised by a Russian chemist in 1889 includes the symbol for lead (Pb), silver (Ag), tin (Sn), and gold (Au)

* Nature: How photosynthesis works

The information-presented in easy-to-retain, bite-sized chunks-is accurate and up-to- date. It will touch a chord with anyone old enough to have forgotten half of what they learned at school. Here is a perfect gift for every perennial student.

My Review:
It was as I feared! Some of the information in this book I never did learn in school as a product of the Louisiana school system many years ago. That said, I Used to Know That is a fun and interesting book with many tidbits of information that can be used for a quick reference guide or to brush up a little on the major subjects of Math, Literature, English, Science, History, Geography, and General Studies.

Authors of classic literature, fractions, geometry, algebra (eek),the skeletal system, periodic table, U.S. presidents, countries and their capitals, and planets are just a few of the topics covered in this jammed packed little book. This is an entertaining book for those interested in trivia. It would also be good for quizzing school-aged children or to just remember facts that haven’t been needed for a few years.

About the Author: Caroline Taggart has been an editor of non-fiction books for nearly 30 years and has covered nearly every subject from natural history and business to gardening and astronomy. She has written several books and was the editor of Writer's Market UK 2009.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Think and Make it Happen by Dr. Augusto Cury

Amazon.com link for Think and Make it Happen


Book Description:

Take control of your past, your memory, your emotions, your life!


While in medical school, Dr. Augusto Cury became fascinated with the impact a healthy mind can have on emotions and life. After many years of research and founding The Intelligence Institute, he concluded:

• Every person is a genius because everyone has the power to think.
• Harnessing "mind power" has been scientifically proven to enhance a person's physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.
• The human act of thinking is the greatest wonder of the universe.

In Think, and Make It Happen, Dr. Cury unveils the multifocal intelligence process showing readers how to master their emotions, stress, thoughts, and relationships, as well as how to become creative thinkers and revolutionary leaders. Complete with a 12-week program, participants will learn to apply the universal laws for quality of life to their own lives: authorship, beauty, creativity, sleep, thoughts, emotions, memory, listening, dialogue, drive, and spirituality and celebration and start experiencing the life they desire.

My Review:
Think and Make it Happen was not at all what I expected. The title makes the book sound as though it is a fluffy self-help book to make all your dreams come true. In fact, I found the book to a serious and powerful book, intricate in detail, to assist the reader to become emotionally whole with the ultimate example of a healthy psychological image. Using Jesus Christ as the perfect role model for emotional health, the author gives the reader tools needed to begin to work on learning to think in a different way.

While this may not be an easy book to read, the insight gained from the suggestions could potentially change a life of fear, anxiety, or grief to one of freedom and joy. Each thought-changing step is explained with suggested actions or examples. One section that I especially enjoyed was the “Finding Serenity” which contains five steps to improve our mindset.


I highly recommend this book for anyone struggling with lack of control over emotional issues. Think and Make it Happen would be a good book for individuals, small groups, Christian psychologists, and church libraries.

About the Author:
Dr. Augusto Cury is a psychiatrist, psychotherapist, scientist, and best-selling author. He developed the Intelligence Academy Quality of Life Program and created the theory of multifocal intelligence.

Monday, December 21, 2009

My Impossible Dream by Chuck Randall

Amazon Link for My Impossible Dream



Book Description:
My Impossible Dream is a testament to the impact one person has on the lives of many, to the tremendous good one can bring about whatever the chosen path, to the responsibility each of us carries to make a positive difference in this world. Do they still make men like Chuck Randall? He was a solid strength of character, holding to his principles, enforcing no drinking and no smoking among his players. His rules were as much a challenge then as they are now and contributed to his incredible wins on the basketball courts. But what mattered most was the respect he gave his players as individuals and as equal partners on the team. They were all one, working toward the same goal, no one more important than another, each fully supporting the other and giving his all. It is no wonder that the respect he gave returned to him a hundredfold.

My Review:
My Impossible Dream is a very nice story about an even nicer man. Coach Randall’s accomplishments in basketball are nothing compared to the impact he had on those he coached. His honesty, his integrity, and his love for those boys and men he coached are his true legacy.

If you are not a basketball fan, you will still enjoy the story of the coach’s life. If you love basketball, you will relish the story of his ups and downs with the places and people he coached. The author introduces the reader to the family, friends, and players of Coach Randall with stories, photos, letters, and even lists of players for the real basketball fans.


The story of how the coach was cheated out of the royalties for his slam-dunk rim invention is sad, but Mr. Randall’s real treasures are being stored up in heaven for him. We need more coaches like Chuck Randall in sports today.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Countdown in Cairo The Russian Trilogy by Noel Hynd

Amazon.com link for Countdown In Cairo

Book Description:

When federal agent Alexandra LaDuca travels to Egypt to investigate the possible sighting of a former mentor, she is thrown into the deadliest game of double cross in her career. An American woman working alone, she must rely on her wits, her training, and her skill with lethal weapons not just to succeed, but also to survive.

A CIA agent whom she believed to be dead appears to be alive; and why is he dressing like an Arab and speaking Russian? Tough, savvy, and cool under fire, Alex pushes herself to the limits as she puts her life on the line once again for her faith and her country—all while working with a mysterious new partner who may or may not be trustworthy.
My Review:

Countdown in Cairo is the third of the Russian trilogy series. You can read my review of Midnight in Madrid (the second in the series) here: Midnight in Madrid


Of course, like most things I do – I am reading them out of order, but that did not take away from the stories as they can each stand alone perfectly well.

Countdown in Cairo starts out with a dramatic beginning with the morgue as the backdrop and then drops back to the beginning of the story. The set up to the main story was slow at times, but that is because the story is rich in detail of locations and background. It is certainly worth the wait! There are a number of background facts about the Russian events mixed in with the fiction creating an interesting blend.

All three of the books feature Alexandra LaDuca, a strong female character that is smart, formidable, and a woman of faith. There were more spiritual elements to this story than the other books as Alex has struggles with moral consequences in her employment and with forgiveness.  This is another GREAT book by this author.


About the Author

Noel Hynd lives in Culver City, California. He has over four million books in print throughout the world and is the bestselling author of the highly acclaimed novels The Enemy Within, Flowers from Berlin, and Cemetery of Angels, and the previous titles in the Russian Trilogy, Conspiracy in Kiev and Midnight in Madrid.



A copy of the book was provided for the review

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

40 Loaves by C. D. Baker

Link for  40 Loaves – Breaking Bread with Our Father Each Day by C.D. Baker at Random House

Book Description:  There are many questions we’re not supposed to ask when playing by the religious rules. It makes people uncomfortable. So why is it that Jesus invited questions and even asked some of them himself? What is it that you’re afraid to ask God? It’s a risky prospect to begin asking–but far riskier to continue simply trying to get by without knowing. Author C. D. Baker asked himself 40 soul-searching questions which started a conversation in his heart and ultimately showed him more about God than He ever expected.


Can we become more honest with who we really are and find who God says He really is at the same time? Come indulge yourself in daily readings with an honest exploration of your secret fears and thoughts, and know that you will always be welcomed in God’s unconditional love.

My Review:
I absolutely loved this book. 40 Loaves is a devotional type book that asks and answers questions Christians are afraid to ask. The book begins with a “Dear Reader” where the author illustrates his compassion and understanding of struggling Christians and those who need to know they are not alone with their questions.
Just a few of the 40 Loaves are:

• Why am I so uncomfortable with doubts?

• Why don’t I have more faith?

• Why am I so afraid of death?

• Why are some Christians so hard for me to like?

• Why can’t I relax around God?

Each chapter also has a short “Food for Thought” and a prayer or scripture.

40 Loaves is both encouraging and challenging as the author explores the thoughts and questions we have about Jesus, faith, and feelings. For this review I read through the book as a whole, but I am going to go back and read it as a devotional with reflection and prayer. This is a book that came to me when I needed it most, and I was truly affected by its message.

The author’s website is here: C.D. Baker

About the author:
C. David Baker founded an award-winning business before redirecting his career to write full-time from his small farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He is the author of eight books, including six novels, one of which was nominated for a Christy Award. He has contributed articles to the Christian History Institute’s international publication Glimpses, and to Christian Singles magazine. Baker has a Master’s degree in theological studies from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.
 
 
Thank you to WaterBrook Mulnomah Publishing Group for the review copy.

Primal by Mark Batterson

Link for Primal

The premise of Primal is that we should strip away religiosity and worship in a pure basic way by showing compassion, be in awe of God, and love God with your all. There are several nice examples of how one person can make a difference by making small contributions. The author describes experiences that he has had in his work with missions, even a coffee shop purchased by his church with all of the profits going to missions.

The first part of the book was about compassion which the author translates into giving money sacrificially to help the poor and starving in third world countries. This is a noble goal, but corrupt governments of those countries stand in the way. The author also encourages the reader to join the Junky Car Club website and describes his own membership in the club so he can live frugally and give more. Unfortunately, he also talks about his “First” African safari, boating to Blue Grotto on Capri Island off the coast of Italy, condo vacations in Colorado, helicopter trips over Grand Canyon, and living on Capitol Hill. Of course every Christian should give sacrificially and will be blessed by it, but in today’s economy too many people are struggling to support their own families. They have already given up vacations and fancy cars. 

I was totally enthralled at the beginning of the book, but in my opinion, the book did not deliver what it promised.

This was book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Silent Desperation by Jeffrey M. Bryan

Amazon.com link for Silent Desperation





Book Description:  Written through the emotional rollercoaster of decades, each story and poem captures the human condition in convincing detail, from the greatest love to unalloyed hurt. Yet throughout, the writing is entertaining, offering characters and situations that expand the imagination and pass along the conceptual epiphanies that inspired them. Like a silent cry from the depths of personal experience, the stories and poetry in Silent Desperation capture the greatest life has to offer.


My Review: Silent Desperation by Jeffrey M. Bryan is a wonderful collection of short stories and poetry. The author has produced a creative blend of futuristic tales and, as the title describes, stories of silent desperation. My favorite stories were Eyes of Echo with its fascinating description of actions concerning a crisis in space, and One Dark Night with its armed robbery with a twist. I admit that I am probably not competent to judge poetry, but I was quite moved by Mr. Bryan’s poems, What I have Seen and World of Evil, World of Hope.


The entire book shows great emotion while still being entertaining. Silent Desperation is an interesting, emotional, and quite remarkable collection of stories that conveys emotions that honestly touched my heart. I highly recommend this book.

About the Author:

Jeff Bryan lives in sunny Florida with his wife, Arlene. Both from Illinois, and having attended High School together, they had the good fortune to share homeroom class for all four years. Five years after High School graduation, the couple met quite coincidentally in the frozen foods section of a local grocery store. They were married the following year. Now, after more than 22 years of marriage, they have three beautiful daughters, three cats, and one dog.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Mommy’s Black Eye - Children Dealing With Domestic Abuse by William G. Bentrim


Amazon.com link for Mommy's Black Eye

Mommy’s Black Eye is a book that we wish would never need to be written. Unfortunately there is a need, and one that continues to grow. The author, William G Bentrim, is a former teacher and guidance counselor. In his calm and understanding approach, he explores this topic for children in a household where abuse has happened. Using a mama bear with a black eye and answering questions asked by the children, the author leads the conversation so that the children will not feel any blame or fear. There is also additional information for the parent on coping and for additional resources. This is an amazing children’s book that should be in every library or a special book for a child in an abusive household.

Mr. Bentrim is also the author of:

I Like to Whine, Dealing with Whining Children


Daddy Goes on a Trip, Dealing with Travel and Deployment


The Adventures of Hardy Belch: The Hardy Belch and Tiny Adventures

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ciao Italia Five Ingredient Favorites - Quick and Delicious Recipes from an Italian Kitchen

Amazon.com link for Ciao Italia Five-Ingredient Favorites

Website: http://www.ciaoitalia.com/



About the Book:  Preparing delicious Italian cuisine at home does not have to be difficult.  Quick, easy, economical, and tasty - it's all possible with the help of Mary Ann Esposito, celebrity chef and host of Ciao Italia with Mary Ann Esposito television's longest running cooking show.  With 75 recipes, accompanied by 16 color photos of heavenly dishes, Esposito makes authentic, traditional Italian cuisine accessible and easy.

About the Author:  Mary Ann Esposito is the creator and host of the long-running PBS series Ciao Italia, celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2010.  She is the author of eleven successful cookbooks, including Ciao Italia Slow and Easy and Ciao Italia Pronto!  She lives in Durham, New Hampshire.  For information about all of her books visit Ciao Italia.

My Review: I only enjoy cooking a meal if it is easy enough that I can enjoy the process and the end results. Ciao Italia Five-Ingredient Favorites has recipes for hearty Italian cusine that are inexpensive and easy to prepare. She begins the cookbook with a wonderful introduction to the basic ingredients to keep on hand. Of course, five ingredients for the pantry, five for the refrigerator, and five for the freezer. Each recipe section begins with a clever introduction and five tips for that food type. For example, the Pasta section begins with her introduction, "Pasta Police", an amusing comment on incorporating pasta in your diet in a healthy way.


My first-to-try recipes include Zuppa di Paradiso (Paradise Soup), Cheesy Stuffed Meatballs, Coal Miners’ – Style Spaghetti and Tortine di Gianduja e Banana (Chocolate, Hazelnut, and Banana Tartlets). Mmmm- Nutella is one of the ingredients!

As in my other cookbook reviews, I always consider the ingredients needed and whether I will be able to easily find them in my small-town area. There were a few cheeses that I am not familiar with, but even in the two small towns around here, there is a good cheese selection.  I don't think I will have any problem finding them.  One of the towns has a large Italian heritage population, and the local grocery store reflects that in its selection of products. 

This is definitely a great gift for a bridal shower gift, Christmas gift, or an addition to your own cookbook collection. A great everyday book!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Decoding The Lost Symbol by Simon Cox

Amazon.com link for Decoding The Lost Symbol


Book description:

Based on extensive research, this A-to-Z guide lists the real people, organizations, and themes featured in Dan Brown's latest novel, explains their histories and their meanings, reproduces and analyzes the symbols themselves, and provides insider knowledge gleaned from years of exhaustive study. From the monuments of Washington, D.C., to the secrets of Salt Lake City and the hidden enclaves in Langley, Virginia, Cox knows where the facts are hidden about the Freemasons, Albert Pike, the Rosicrucians, the Founding Fathers, and more.

My Review:
Decoding The Lost Symbol by Simon Cox is the go-to book for those who want to read The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown. If you have read Dan Brown’s books, you know that they are filled with symbolism, conspiracy theories, secret societies, and historical oddities. The author has created a book that gives an insight to some of these references in The Lost Symbol. There is quite a bit of information about Freemasons, Thomas Jefferson and buildings in Washington DC. Some of the other topics are Ancient Mysteries, some Biblical references, historical figures and even one of my favorite artists, Albrecht Duer.  A fun book whether you read Dan Brown's book or not!  Here is an article  and some photographs from the book reprinted by permission:

An article by author, Simon Cox:
I don't read much non-fiction. I simply don't have the time, and when I do, its not generally from the "thriller" genre. So how come I have written three guide books to three thrillers? The answer is simple. Dan Brown. What Brown has managed to do brilliantly within the framework of his novels, is weave facts and fiction seamlessly together in a coherent and logical way, the like of which is rarely seen. I'm not saying its all perfect -- indeed, as I point out in my guide books, some of his factual research leaves much to be desired -- but he does have an uncanny knack of being able to hit the zeitgeist of the moment when it comes to historical themes and ideas.

Brown seems to follow certain pre-set rules within his Robert Langdon based novels. Generally there is a religious element and this element is stacked up against a scientific element. Then there are the codes and clues -- mainly left within an historical framework -- mathematical conundrums being a favorite of Mr Brown. Finally there are the secret societies that seem to be the glue that holds the stories together. In The Da Vinci Code, we see an exploration of the sacred feminine and an alternative life of Christ. In Angels & Demons, the very heart of Christendom, the Vatican is central to the story and in The Lost Symbol Brown takes it all a step further as he espouses the ideals of deism and universal godhead. Essentially what Brown has written are three books that have woven between them a central theme of tolerance to all faiths, but above all, an acknowledgement that faith plays an essential role in the development of mans consciousness and being. As a historian, I can attest to the fact that this mantra was crucial to most if not all ancient cultures. In this respect Dan Brown is carrying on a long standing tradition.

The Lost Symbol is at first glance a less remarkable book than its predecessor, The Da Vinci Code. It seems to lack the one major hook, the heart in mouth fact that suddenly makes gasp out loud as you read the page. However, this book is a slow burner. Its message of tolerance and universality is not at first obvious -- but the more you read and digest the message within the pages, the more you realize that this time 'round, Brown has a clear and decisive meaning that he is trying to get across. When I first saw this I was aghast. A novelist trying to change the way the world thinks from inside a story of chases and code breaking. But then, think about it. Brown has an audience unlike any novelist ever has. The Lost Symbol was awaited as if it were the harbinger of a new messiah after the enormous success of The Da Vinci Code -- some eighty million people the world over had become instant fans of his writing -- he had an audience who patiently waited for every word on every page. What better way to change the world.

It remains to be seen if the book will have any effect at all. Its early days yet and the response, though swift in sales, has been less than that of The Da Vinci Code. However it is to be remembered that The Da Vinci Code itself was very much a slow burner of a book at first -- not really exploding until some time after its launch. I have attempted to give a clear and easily understandable view of where Mr. Brown researched his facts and what parts of his book are fact and what fiction. It was a writing exercise that I really enjoyed, just as I had with the other guides. Decoding The Lost Symbol is a book that I am very proud of, especially given the incredible time constraints that I was under -- it was fun to do and fun to write. I hope you will enjoy it too, should you choose to pick it up and should you choose to explore some of the themes and ideas within The Lost Symbol itself. I encourage debate and criticism and can be contacted via my website at: www.decodingthelostsymbol.com.

Copyright © 2009 Simon Cox, author of Decoding The Lost Symbol: The Unauthorized Expert Guide to the Facts Behind the Fiction

Author Bio
Simon Cox, author of Decoding The Lost Symbol: The Unauthorized Expert Guide to the Facts Behind the Fiction, was the founding editor in chief of the successful newsstand magazine Phenomena. Having studied Egyptology at University College London, he went on to work as a research assistant for some of the biggest names in the alternative history game, including Graham Hancock, Robert Bauvel, and David Rohl. He splits his time between Britain and the United States.



Monday, December 7, 2009

Tea Party Revival, The Conscience of a Conservative Reborn by Dr. B. Leland Baker

Amazon.com link for Tea Party Revival


The Tea Party movement has been in the news for some time now, but what exactly is the Tea Party movement and who is involved? Their purpose has been so distorted by the news media, that it is interesting to finally read what seems to be an accurate account of this movement and its purpose.

The author describes the movement as fiscal conservatives who believe in constitutional compliance, smaller Federal government, state’s rights, less spending, lower taxes, and individual rights, responsibility, and integrity. As our country hemorrhages money, it is difficult to argue with these very basic requests. The author discusses why the checks and balances in the U.S. Government are important and how they have stopped working. The book also lists some of the Federal departments that are unconstitutional and why they should be eliminated. The last part of the book is a copy of the United States Constitution.

The book is informative and thoughtful. It has captured the essentials of this new grassroots movement that has caused such uproar with our politicians. My only criticism of the book is with the first page in which author lists twelve specific changes in the government that the tea party revival requests. The book clearly states that the Tea Party movement is not an organized political party, so there cannot be an agreed upon specific list of demands. The movement is just Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and even non-political Americans who want a fiscally conservative government and the ability to keep more of the money they earn.

The Tea Party Movement individuals have been subjected to ridicule and disparaging remarks. Even a former President of the United States called the group's participants a vulgar sexual slang term. The citizens of this country do not deserve that type of treatment. I hope those who are not familiar with this movement will take the time to read Tea Party Revival.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Not So Common Courtesy – The Owner’s Manual by Mitzi Taylor


Book Description:
Where in the world did Common Courtesy go?! I don't want to ruin this story for you, but I found out Common Courtesy is dying a slow and painful death. I want it back, so welcome to my journey.

My Review:
Not So Common Courtesy is a very funny look at what seems to be a behavior that is disappearing in today’s society – common courtesy. Rude and discourteous behavior is almost a badge of honor these days. With her delightful sense of humor the author covers courteous behavior in: drive-through lines, communication, personal, public places, traveling, driving, and pets. The book is written in an interactive style with pages for the reader to enter their own information. There is a “Pay it Forward” page to sign and then pass the book to someone else. There are also pre-printed note pages to pass along to others and some blank ones to fill out.


I enjoyed the book very much, and I think this would be a perfect gift not only for adults, but also for older teens. I would also like to see Not So Common Courtesy  in every library. Meet the author on her website here: Mitzi Taylor



My pet peeves?

1. People having personal conversations loudly on their cell phones in public.

2. Those who do not respect personal space-Please do NOT touch my hair, and do not ask me to cut my hair and donate it to a “charity”

Once in a Blue Moon by Leanna Ellis


Amazon link for Once in a Blue Moon

Book Description:

Bryn Seymour was nine years old when her mother died under mysterious circumstances on the same day Apollo 11 made its historic lunar landing. Forty years later—divorced, working as an obituary writer, and duly cynical—she meets Howard, a conspiracy theorist who knew her mom and believes a small Texas town may hold clues to what really fueled her demise. Seeking closure, Bryn goes along for this men-in-black ride. But upon meeting Howard’s son Sam, an outspoken Christian, she can’t decide whose beliefs are more pie-in-the-sky.

The gravity of life has pulled Bryn down for decades. But a perfect love could be her first step to soaring. It only happens once in a blue moon.

My Review:

Everyone has their secrets. Bryn Seymour has a life-long heartbreaking secret and a heart that has been broken too many times. Howard believes there are conspiracies going on all around him.  There is a loving but distant relationship with his son, Sam and the emotional issues that crossed generations are obvious.

Leanna Ellis has created a fun, smart, mysterious, and quirky novel that just may be my favorite book this year. It has such an interesting storyline with eccentric characters, a unique mystery, an emotional spiritual struggle, and a truly romantic love story. Each of the well developed characters touched my heart, and I could feel their life struggles. I loved everything about the book and I hope there is a sequel in the works!

Runt by Ray Shoop

Amazon.com link for Runt: Memories of a Dyslexic Bastard.



Book Description:
Runt knows there are things within him that makes him different; just what they are is not clear. His dad calls him a 'runt bastard', his teacher calls him a 'defiant brat', and his mother doesn't call him at all. His brother skips grades, while he has to repeat them. The only good thing in his life is Bee, his slightly older niece.

My Review:
Runt is a view of life from the eyes of a child of a backwoods mountain family. It is a wonderfully vivid tale of the family in times of financial hardships, war, and losses. Runt knew he was different and could not learn in the way his brothers did, but he was unique in his own way and learned to work around the abuse and neglect he received at the hands of his family. His one constant pillar is Bee.

An excerpt from the book:
Both his eyes glared at me. I said nothing; he didn’t expect an answer. I hoped. It was difficult at times to tell what he wanted. Sometimes he backhanded me for not answering and sometimes for answering. Most of the time, I kept quiet.

I was hesitant to read this book as it is difficult for me to read about children being abused, but this book was so compelling and the character of Runt was so resilient, that the book was a joy to read. The author’s humor also comes through in the story.  Here is the author's home page Ray Shoop.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Angel Fall by Coleman Luck

                                                                 Amazon.com link for Angel Fall

Description:   The wind we know is only a shadow of something far greater. Lightning is falling in sheets. A wind is blowing that is larger than this world. In the middle of the strangest storm in history, an airliner crashes into the ocean and only three young people survive—a brother and his two sisters. But they are not together and the ocean is not on earth.

Alex, Amanda and Tori Lancaster have entered Boreth, a world of ancient devastation and deep evil ruled by the Worwil—seven creatures of immense power who existed before any world began. Through this world they must travel, into terror and temptation, every choice taking them closer to endless night. Scarred with the fires of hell and Heaven, their pasts are torn from their souls.
But shadowing each of them is a mysterious Being covered in scars who has faced ten-thousand battles. A being filled with the longing of ages. A longing to heal the broken-hearted.

With dark, glistening strands from Lewis, Lovecraft, and Tolkien, the cloth of Angel Fall has been woven. But the journey it weaves is not just for Alex, Amanda, and Tori … it is for all those who cannot find their way home.

My Review:
The was an unusual book for me as fantasy is not one of my usual genres, but the story drew me in and held my interest to the end.  I looked forward to each chapter as the next stage of the story presented itself and new adventures were presented to each character. I found the book well written, intelligent, and with spiritual images that were interesting and thought provoking. Some were obvious spiritual messages; others were a little more obscure (at least for me). Although the book is about three children, this is not a book for small children. Its detailed descriptions are horrifyingly scary and dark.


Overall, the story is very much like the struggles we have every day. We daily strive for with good, which can be hard to find, but all too often find greed and desires which can look so inviting. We suffer consequences of our decisions, but redemption is always in reach.


I am surprised that this is the author’s first novel. Angel Fall can easily compete with the works of more well known authors of this genre, and I look forward to the author's Mentalist Series. Be sure to visit the Coleman Luck's website listed below. His biography is interesting and there are really fun and quirky things to click on the main page.

About the author:
Coleman Luck is a Hollywood writer/producer whose credits include television series such as The Equalizer, Gabriel's Fire and The Burning Zone. A native of Wheaton, Illinois, Coleman is a Life Member of the Writers Guild of America, West. Angel Fall is his first novel. His second, to be published is 2010, is entitled Dagon's Illusion and is the first in what is projected to be a trilogy called The Mentalist Series. Coleman lives in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of central California near Yosemite National Park. His official website is:
Coleman Luck.com

A quote from Angel Fall:
“Out of the woman’s body streaked a thousand twisted limbs that writhed, splitting and branching into the air. Higher and higher, she towered over the girl. But as Amanda stared at her, she was changing too. A blazing strength shone in her eyes. In that terrifying moment her childhood ended, and she became all that she was meant to be. Calmly she said, ‘This isn’t the Mountain. My journey isn’t finished. I still have to take the baby home.’”

Sunday, November 29, 2009

God Gave Us Christmas by Lisa Tawn Bergren and David Holm, Art work


Purchase Link for:
God Gave Us Christmas

Book Description:  In God Gave Us Christmas, as Little Cub and her family prepare to celebrate the most special day of the year, the curious young polar bear has something on her mind: “Who invented Christmas?” she asks. “Is God more important than Santa?” 
Her questions reflect the confusion of so many children during the holiday season. And this heartwarming story takes them on a wonderful journey of discovery—right to the heart of Christmas. 
Through Mama’s gentle guidance, Little Cub learns that God loves her and everyone— polar bear, moose, or human—so much that he gave us Jesus, the very best gift of all.


My Review:
Little Cub is excited about Christmas and when Mama mentions God, little cub asks the type of questions our own children would ask about God, Jesus, and Santa.  Mama Bear and Little Cub set out for the mountains to learn about God and His gift to us. Mama Bear teaches Little Cub about God by using God’s masterful creation surrounding them. With the beautiful artwork and gentle teachings, this book is a perfection in its simplicity. Who could resist the cute smiling bears! More importantly, is the clear message of God’s gift of Jesus as the real meaning of Christmas. Santa is given the lower position of a reminder of Christ’s love. This would be a wonderful gift book for children, Sunday School classes, church nurseries, or day care groups.

Lisa Tawn Bergren is the award-winning author of nearly thirty titles, totaling more than 1.5 million books in print. She writes in a broad range of genres, from adult fiction to devotional. God Gave Us Love follows in Lisa’s classic tradition of the best-selling God Gave Us You. She lives in Colorado, with her husband, Tim, and their children, Olivia, Emma, and Jack.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Treasured by Leigh McLeroy

Link to purchase Treasured


Book Description:  In Treasured, Leigh McLeroy considers tangible reminders of God’s active presence and guides readers in discovering evidence in their own lives of his attentive love. “The idea for the book came from a cigar box filled with odds and ends of my grandfather’s life that arrived a few months after his death. Sifting through the objects in the box, I experienced him in a fresh new way. This made me wonder what treasures might be tucked away in Scripture that could frame God for me in an equally intimate, tangible way. This process also helped me uncover my own “treasures” of my walk with the Lord: objects that remind me of my history with him and his faithfulness to me,” says McLeroy.

Drawn from the pages of Scripture, the author considers twelve such treasures and personalizes their meaning for readers, such as a green olive branch that offers proof of God’s “new every morning” mercy and a scarlet cord that demonstrates his willingness to adopt “strays” of every sort. Weaving these treasures together with scenes from her personal history, Leigh McLeroy invites readers to discover God’s heart for them and embrace their unique role in his redemptive story. Treasured offers readers a guided experience of God’s love and character and invites them to consider their own treasures that point to their part in God’s ongoing story.

My Review: 
In Treasured, Leigh McLeroy begins this devotional style book with a story of receiving a box of keepsakes that belonged to her grandfather. As she looked at the Bible, she began to see a spiritual aspect and considered the small things, or God’s keepsakes, that would demonstrate His heart and love for us. The author has a unique insight as she compares her life and circumstances with those individuals whose stories are told in the Bible. How often do we read the Word of God without seeing the small hints of wisdom placed there just for us? The story that the author tells is deeply personal look at God’s provisions for her needs and desires. She also tells of those deep and sometimes painful desires that have not yet been fulfilled. Each chapter begins with a Bible verse and an explanation or application.

Just an example of the chapters:
A Fig Leaf: The God Who Covers Me
Abraham’s Knife: The God Who Provides
A bloodstained Piece of Wood: The God Who Defeats Death


 I especially enjoyed her account of a gathering she attended. It was a meeting of Christian Retailers with publishers, writers, agents, etc. in attendance. The author gave some interesting contrasts between individuals while watching authors interact with the public at a book signing and another incident in the lobby of the hotel.


Treasured can be read in one sitting, or as a devotional style book. There is also a “Personal Reflection and Group Discussion Guide” at the end of the book, which is an important self-examination of our own hearts and desires. What do you collect and why?

About the Author: 
Leigh McLeroy is the author of The Beautiful Ache and The Sacred Ordinary. An avid collector and recorder of everyday moments, words, and wonders, Leigh’s keen eye for God’s presence in ordinary life infuses her writing and living with a deep, insistent joy. A frequent conference and event speaker, the author makes her home in Houston, Texas, and posts often on http://www.leighmcleroy.com/
 and http://www.wednesdaywords.com/.




This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

God Gave us Love by Lisa Tawn Bergren and Laura J. Bryant art work

Link To purchase God Gave Us Love


























Book Description
In God Gave Us Love, Little Cub and Grampa Bear’s fishing adventure is interrupted by mischievous otters, and the young polar bear begins to ask questions like why must we love others . . . even the seemingly unlovable? Why is it easier to love those we like? Where does love come from? And why does God love her so much?

Grampa Bear patiently addresses each one of Little Cub’s curiosities by explaining the different kinds of love we can share: the love between friends, the love between families, the love between moms and dads, and the love for God.

He also assured Little Cub that because of the love God has given her through his Son, there’s nothing she can do to make God love her any more or any less. Through Grampa Bear’s encouraging Little Cub to love others with a “God-sized love,” children will be inspired to love others and to be patient, gentle and kind, so that in every way, they too can demonstrate God’s love.


My Review:
In God Gave us Love, Grandpa Bear teaches Little Cub about love. Grandpa explains about love between mama and Papa, the love among family members, and God’s love. When those pesky otters annoy Little Cub, he also explains that God wants us to always love others, even those who are difficult to love. God Gave us Love is a wonderful book to teach children about God’s perfect love for us and how to show love for others. This is another beautiful children’s book by Lisa Tawn Bergren with very loveable characters and delightful artwork.

The author’s website with information about all of her books is here: http://www.lisatawnbergren.com/home.html




This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Strictly Sundays by Joe Fitzpatrick

Amazon.com link for Strictly Sundays

Strictly Sundays is a unique and interesting new cookbook that presents the perfect blend of gourmet and everyday cooking. This is gourmet cooking that will not scare away the regular cook, and you will not need a dictionary to figure out the ingredients.


There are recipes for appetizers, main dishes, salads, soups, side dishes and salsas. No desserts, but you won’t miss them with the quality and variety of recipes presented. Because I live in a very small town, one of the most important things I look for in a new cookbook is availability of ingredients. These recipes contain easy to find ingredients that I would be able to pick up locally. The instructions for the recipes are clear and concise. Recipes for Portuguese Meatballs with Spicy Sauce, Crab Cakes with Dipping Sauce, Tenderloin Steaks with Brandy Cream Sauce, Cioppino, and Orange and Olive Salsa are just a few of the recipes that are on my list to try first.

The quality and look of the book is outstanding. The photography is beautiful and with the book printed on coated paper, it has a classy look and feel. It would make a thoughtful gift or a useful addition to the family cookbook collection.

From the Author:
How Dinner Time

Can Bring Families Together

Chef Reveals Why Sunday Dinners
Are So Important

It all starts at mealtime.
That’s what the statistics show, and at least one chef can attest to it. According to
a study released last week by The National Center on Addiction and Substance
Abuse at Columbia University, the family dinner is linked to everything from
better grades to teen use of alcohol. The study, called “The Importance of Family
Dinners,” said that teens who report typically receiving grades of C’s or below in
school are likelier to smoke, drink and use drugs compared to teens who typically
receive all A’s or A’s and B’s in school. Compared to teens who have five to
seven family dinners per week, those who have fewer than three family dinners
per week are one and a half times likelier to report getting mostly C’s or lower
grades in school.

Joe Fitzpatrick knows the value of family dinners, because it has become a
tradition in his household every weekend. Fitzpatrick, author of the gourmet
cookbook Strictly Sundays from Book Publisher’s Network
(http://www.strictlysundays.com/), believes his Sunday dinners are what help keep his
family close. It was part of how he was raised.

“Ever since I was a little boy I enjoyed helping my mother cook in the kitchen,” he
said. “She made it fun and I learned a lot. Of course that was in the 1960’s when
the only cook on television was Julia Child. There were no fancy spices or
sauces used in our house and all the meals were pretty basic, but that didn’t
matter. I remember the time we spent together, and it helped shape my attitudes
when I had children of my own.”
Fitzpatrick’s focus on mealtime evolved out of the experience most people are
having today – working hard with a tight budget, and not having much time for
family.

“I owned a business in the 1980’s and spent little time at home,” he said. “My
wife and I would make it a point to go out to dinner every Saturday night to spend
some time with each other. When the business went away so did the money.
But I still liked good food. I subscribed to Bon Appetite magazine and started to
make unique intimate dinners for the two of us on Saturday nights.”When the kids got
wind of the Saturday night dinners, they felt like they were missing out on something good.
They were right.

“Then our children got older, saw what we were having for our Saturday night
gourmet dinner and asked why they didn’t get special meals too,” Fitzpatrick
added. “So I started to explore and create both new and traditional dinners for
them on Sunday nights. When the kids had jobs, I made a rule that Sunday was
for faith & family, no exceptions. They almost never missed one of my Sunday
dinners. And as they have grown and established their own lives, they still come
home once a week to help in the kitchen and help me create these fabulous
meals. It used to be about the food. Now, it’s more about being together.”

About Joe Fitzpatrick
Joe Fitzpatrick is a family man who loves to cook. Though he has never owned a
restaurant or worked as a chef, he combined the lessons his mother taught him
with his love for the culinary arts to produce a cookbook of comfort foods that
look and taste like gourmet dishes. Author of the cookbook Strictly Sundays
(www.strictlysundays.com), Fitzpatrick realizes that gourmet meals can be
served any day of the week. His family simply prefers Sundays.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sorrowed Souls by Brenda Youngerman

Amazon Link for Sorrowed Souls



Book Description:

The eyes are said to be the window to the soul. Have you ever looked at someone whose eyes have no light? Follow the journey out of the darkness. In the space of a moment, Bryan Tines thought he had lost everything that was important to him. Waking up in a strange place with no recollection of where he came from, or who he was; lost, hungry and dirty, his life would have been over if not for the kindness of the invisible layer of society. Gus Hill was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and alcohol coursing through his veins. Living on the outside looking in, Gus goes down a path of self-destruction and finds that the harsh words of a true friend enable him to help himself and others who feel their lives have no meaning. Through this path, Gus finds what is really important. Amy Pickens was born into a working class family-a planned and difficult birth-her mother never let her forget how much of a burden Amy's life was to her. She became the unwanted child. Struggling with confidence issues, she accidentally finds happiness, which in one fleeting moment, appears to go awry.

My review:

Sorrowed Souls is a story of several people who grew up unloved and unwanted. The story breaks off in different directions as the reader travels along through each character’s life. Tragedy follows the characters as does their own self-destructive behavior. As their lives connect, the stories take some interesting twists that I never expected. Reading about that much sadness and tragedy was difficult at times, but recovery is always within reach for the characters.

Sorrowed Souls is an interesting and well-written story with interesting characters and plot lines, but can be overwhelmingly sad to read at times especially if sensitive to the suffering of others. When the stories and characters come together and connections are realized there is a satisfying and surprising conclusion.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Through the Triangle by C. P. Stewart


Amazon link for Through the Triangle
Book Description:

Jake Myers and his semi-estranged teenaged son Nathan were supposed to be on a healing jaunt: a Florida vacation spent deep-sea fishing and theme park hopping. But they and the three other passengers aboard Oblique View happened to be in the wrong place at the right time – in a storm within the Devil’s Triangle. On a deserted shore, they discover they are in the right place at the wrong time – the Florida coast nearly three-hundred years in the future. Then there’s the metropolis nearby that appears to be deserted … appears, that is...

Now, this group is about to confront a dangerous species - part animal/part human … that can see in the dark. Together with a loose association of other humans, fellow travelers cast off in this strange land and strange time, they’ll have to rely on instinct and cunning to survive. But something as deadly as the Devil’s Triangle they just passed through might be one of their own…

What follows is a journey of enlightenment as Jake discovers the shocking historical events leading to this new reality and the love lurking right under his nose. It all combines for a savvy time-travel thriller that will keep you guessing right up until the shocking finale.

My Review:

Through the Triangle is an interesting and thought provoking sci-fi thriller. No area brings to mind more mystery and fear than The Devil’s Triangle, and this book creates a unique story for this location. The character development in the book is outstanding. I confess that I can get lost if there are too many characters to keep track of, but the author was so thorough in exploring each character’s past and personality that the characters came to life. The author has a great talent for describing situations, locations, and creatures so that no matter how fantastical, they seem real.

The Time travel aspect interests me, and in Through the Triangle the author uses families from different times who have to adjust to the new time for which they have arrived. These situations along with non-stop thrills and action make this an outstanding read. I hope a sequel is in the works.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Very Special Interview!!!

There is a very special interview over on the blog Books Gardens & Dogs.
No it isn't an author or book blog interview, but it is a very special interview with my pooch Dusty.  Please take a look at my special pup.  Too much fun!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Social Security Immaculate Deception - A National Disgrace by Robert James Karpie

Amazon Link for Social Security


Book Description:


Four old codgers are sick and tired of the abuse and neglect which occurs daily in their old-folks-home. Max has a broken leg for getting involved as he tried to help his buddy Thomas with his bed pan. Unfortunately, Thomas is now in the intensive care unit at the county hospital. He's in a coma. Another resident, Marge Taylor; has been repeatedly beaten and raped and hasn't spoken a word since her tragic ordeal started. She was too afraid to report her cruel and inhumane treatment. They actually hire a lawyer, Chi, Clarence's grandson who sues the state as well as the owners of Hell. The residents go wild with the idea and unite as they pool their resources and purchase Prudent Paradise in the Name of Love. They change its name to Social Security and become one big family; with a bar, pool, hot tubs, pets, the O-zone, and a Laugh Room.

My Review:

What can I say? I suspect this is a book that you either love or hate. I didn’t love it. Basically, it is a series of rants against just about everything by foul-mouthed senior citizens obsessed with sex and bodily functions. Nursing homes/assisted living centers take a real hit in this book as places that routinely abuse and rape residents.

Near its end is where the real purpose of the book becomes clear. The author addresses his political agenda such as Amero, CFR-New World Order, UFO cover-ups, Aspartame, “swine flu”, hemp and his hatred for Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and George Bush. In the midst of the vulgarity there is even an attempt to bring about a spiritual message with misquoted Bible references. He directs the reader to several radical left-wing websites.

My view of the Federal government is that most of them are liars and thieves. Had the author written a non-fiction book with his world views with some references to back up his opinions, I may have been much more interested, but the book is just all over the place with disjointed ideas. The book ends on a low point when the author asked the country of Iran to forgive us Americans.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Exposure by Brandilyn Collins

Amazon.com link for Exposure


Book Description:

Someone is watching Kaycee Raye. But who will believe her? Everyone knows she’s a little crazy. Kaycee’s popular syndicated newspaper column pokes fun at her own paranoia and multiple fears. The police in her small town are well aware she makes money writing of her experiences. Worse yet, she has no proof of the threats. Pictures of a dead man mysteriously appear in her home then vanish before police arrive.

My Review:
As we expect from this best-selling author, Exposure is an interesting and tense mystery /crime drama. The character Kaycee Raye is overwhelmed with fear every minute of every day of her life, and as the reader, I couldn’t help but feel that fear with her all through the book. There were twists and turns in the story along the way, but in the end, all of it comes together until it is proven that even paranoids can have real enemies. I had no clue ahead of time to the twists in the storyline and the surprises added to my enjoyment of the book. Again Zondervan publishes a wonderful fiction book that demonstrates people who struggle with doubts and fears, but rely on their faith to get them through.

Brandilyn Collins is also the author of Always Watching, Violet Dawn, Coral Moon, Crimson Eve, Amber Morn, Brink of Death, and many more. Her website is: www.brandilyncollins.com and she has a blog at www.forensicsandfaith.blogspot.com.

Friday, November 6, 2009

She Had No Enemies by Dennis Fleming

Amazon.com link for She Had No Enemies


Book Description:


Dennis Fleming's 18-yr-old sister, Mickey, was murdered by serial killer Anthony J. LaRette, Jr. Through a combination of solid journalism and introspective reflection, Dennis weaves an intricate story filled with sadness, anger, and even humor about his attempts to cope with the greatest tragedy he'd ever known. A life-affirming story about one man's twenty-five-year search for meaning and fulfillment in the face of a devastating situation. It's also about keeping a promise to someone you love. From the shocking details of Mickey's murder and his subsequent suicide attempt to the mixed feelings he experienced as he witnessed LaRette's execution, Dennis delves deeply into the complex process of coming to grips with his sister's death and of eventually finding forgiveness in his heart for her killer.

My Review:

She Had No Enemies is a personal and touching true crime story about the death of the author’s young sister, Mickey, by a serial killer. At times it was difficult to read, but there is so much to this tragic story from his own family dynamics to the legal drama that came with the arrest of the killer. The story clearly shows how the death of someone so young damages those who love them physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Those who suffer through this type of loss have to make a decision at some point to go forward, and this book explains how the author took his loss and created something positive. The book takes some strange spiritual turns at the end, but it is the author’s story and part of his recovery. Finding peace is not easy when things in life are going well, but finding it in the midst of tragedy is truly an accomplishment.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Swope’s Ridge by Ace Collins


Amazon.com link for Swope's Ridge

From the back of the book:

September 12, 2001. Four members of the Klasser family are found dead outside Dallas, Texas. In the wake of 9/11, the Klassers’ neighbor, Omar Jones—an American citizen of Arab descent—is convicted of their murder.

A month before Jones’ execution, attorney Lije Evans searches for evidence that will prove the man innocent. But Evans’ quest goes deeper than solving one crime. He is determined to find the secret behind the dark history of sleepy Swope’s Ridge—and how it ties into his wife’s murder.

Interlocking mysteries lead Evans and his team to the battlegrounds of former Nazi Germany, the dirt roads of Kansas, and a rusty cargo ship in the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way, they discover a secret that offers the promise of great power—and the greatest temptation they’ve ever faced.

In the second book of the Lije Evans Mysteries series, bestselling author Ace Collins immerses readers in an intricate and deadly international plot. Racism, betrayal, and death-defying escapes compound an adventure that knows no bounds in this harrowing novel for suspense lovers everywhere.

My Review:
Swope’s Ridge is a fast-paced mystery loaded with political intrigue. The main characters are likeable and interesting. I do wish I had read Farraday Road, the first of the “Lije Evans Mysteries”, before I read this one. Still, it was an interesting and entertaining mystery, and I will catch up with the first one next. I enjoyed that the characters considered matters of faith openly and with honest feelings that many people experience especially after the loss of a loved one. The mystery behind a piece of property spans all the way to Germany and involve events in the past. It is all brought together to a tidy conclusion. Look for the next Lije Evans Mystery to come.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Arcadia Snips And The Steamwork Consortium by Robert C. Rogers

Link to author's site for info and to purchase Arcadia Snips
Read a chapter there, purchase the book or you can even purchase character bookmarks.

Amazon.com link for Arcadia Snips
ISBN: 978-0-984129-00-3



OK – I confess! I had no idea what steampunk fiction was when ARCADIA SNIPS AND THE STEAMWORK CONSORTIUM landed in my computer.


So what exactly is steampunk? From Wikipedia: “Steampunk is a sub-genre of fantasy and speculative fiction that came into prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s. The term denotes works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century, and often Victorian era England—but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date.”

Book Description:
In an era of bygone anachronisms and steam-powered ambulatory engines, a sharp-witted street-thief with a heart of semi-precious metal finds herself locked in a battle of wits against a secret plot to bring the city she loves to its knees. Arcadia will need to enlist the help of a reformed mad scientist, a stern suffragette, and a persnickety pigeon to unravel the mysterious past of the Steamwork Consortium - and stop the cabal of sinister mathematicians who would use that past to destroy all of Aberwick. Arcadia Snips and the Steamwork Consortium is both a cautionary tale against reckless mathematics and an accurate historical account all rolled up into one. In fact, the story is so accurate that you might consider it more of a history lecture than an illustrated novel.

My Review:
Arcadia Snips and the Steamwork Consortium by Robert C. Rogers is on the order of steampunk fiction. Just who is crazy and who isn’t will befuddle you in this delightful tale of developing steam powered machines and mad mathematics that leads to mad science. The brilliant and delightful Arcadia Snips is the main character encountering murder mysteries, kidnappings, air machines and all sorts of misadventures. Miss Snips and her cohorts must work together to save her beloved city of Aberwick. Highly detailed descriptions brings to life the characters and situations. The cast of characters are spectacular with their quirkiness and clever dialog.


The illustrations are wonderful, and if the purpose of the book is to make you smile at the clever back and forth dialog, then it does exactly what it sets out to do. If the giant mechanical spiders don’t amaze you, the probability engine will. This is a delightful story for young or old alike.

My favorite quote: “William Daffodil resembled what you would get if you dressed up a scarecrow and taught it to act polite; he wore his clothes as if they were an ill-fitting burden.”

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Midnight in Madrid by Noel Hynd


Zondervan link to purchase Midnight in Madrid
or Amazon.com link Midnight in Madrid

Description:


When a mysterious relic is stolen from a Madrid museum, people are dying to discover its secrets. Literally.

U.S. Treasury agent Alexandra LaDuca returns from Conspiracy in Kiev to track down the stolen artwork, a small carving called The Pietà of Malta. It seems to be a simple assignment, but nothing about this job is simple, as the mysteries and legends surrounding the relic become increasingly complex with claims of supernatural power.

As aggressive, relentless, and stubborn as ever, Alex crisscrosses Europe through a web of intrigue, danger, and betrayal, joined by a polished, mysterious new partner. With echoes of classic detective and suspense fiction from The Maltese Falcon to The Da Vinci Code, Midnight in Madrid takes the reader on a nonstop spellbinding chase through a modern world of terrorists, art thieves, and cold-blooded killers.

My Review:
I get so excited when I find a great book by an author I have not read before! Noel Hynd’s book Midnight in Madrid, one of The Russian Trilogy, was so good I didn’t want the book to end. The book has political intrigue, non-stop action, historical references, and descriptive locations. It is a political/spy thriller about international crime.

The story is wonderfully descriptive and includes information about art theft and historical references of Spain. The book is so well-written that the story just takes off and does not stop the suspense and surprises until the very end.

The main character of Alex (Alexandra LaDuca) is very likeable as she struggles with the moral and ethical decisions she has to make in the course of her high-stakes job. She relies on her faith, but also struggles with doubt and questions – as do real people of faith. This book is not a Christian book that preaches anything; it is a book by a person of faith who creates characters that struggle with faith and moral issues.

The other two books in this trilogy are Conspiracy in Kiev and Countdown in Cairo. Noel Hynd has also written the novels, The Enemy Within, Flowers from Berlin, and Ghosts.

I have read so many good books this year, but this is certainly one of my top favorites.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Vigil by Cecilia Samartin

Amazon.com link for Vigil

Book Description:
While Ana waits at her beloved's deathbed, she thinks back on her life and the incredible journey that brought her to this unlikely place. Ana's story takes her from war-torn El Salvador, to a convent in the United States, and finally to a wealthy California estate where she is employed as the nanny for a dysfunctional family caught up in the throes of a decadent life. Despite her own emotional wounds, she is able to bring love and healing to her affluent yet spiritually bereft employers -- gifts that no money could ever buy.

My Review:
Vigil is an interesting and beautifully written novel. Although you may think this would be a disheartening story, it was not. Yes, there is sadness, but is also a story about happiness, friendship, and family. Each character is carefully developed with Ana as the one moral constant in the family. Eventually she is influenced by the immorality of the family members and conflict occurs.

The story was captivating as Ana reflects back on her life starting as a child in El Salvador hiding from soldiers. As she tends to her dying love, she reflects on her memories of her mother and childhood friends to her life as a postulant. I enjoyed Vigil for its rich descriptions and interesting characters. It was a romantic novel without being a typical “Romance” novel.
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