Thursday, October 30, 2008

Diamond Duo by Marcia Gruver

Marcia Gruver is a new voice to Christian fiction. Her book, Diamond Duo, a Barbour imprint, released October 1, 2008.

Here's the back cover copy:

Murder strikes Jefferson, Texas, putting love and faith on trial. Bertha Biddle is desperately in love with Thaddeus Bloom... Trouble is, she's not sure he returns her affections. When a stranger named Annie Monroe comes to Jefferson, charming every man in town, Bertha is determined to learn her beguiling secrets. But just how far will she go to win Thad's heart? Thad is more than smitten with Bertha. But his father plans to send him away to military school. Will Thad follow his father's dream at the cost of losing Bertha's love forever? When Annie's unsavory companion enters the scene, foul deeds are afoot, testing faith and hearts. Will a murder provoke a startling twist of fate--in this world and the next?

Here's my review:

This historical hosts an ensemble cast of mixed characters, which the author skillfully distinguishes. Marcia adeptly incorporates dialects into well-penned dialogue. She keeps the reader in suspense about the mysterious newcomer, Annie Monroe, while growing a romance between her lead characters. Marcia believably paints her old west setting, and for the sake of escape and entertainment, readers will enjoy going along for the ride. This new author has lots of potential, and I wish her all the best in her writing.

For more information about Marcia, visit her website at: or her blog at: To find the book on amazon, click here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Passion Redeemed by Julie Lessman

Julie’s second novel is just as passionate and bold as her first novel (“A Passion Most Pure”). Again, she took risks in portraying real-life characters facing temptation or giving in to sin. While this story stayed within the Christian fiction boundaries on a large scale, there is one scene which may offend some readers’ sensibilities.

On the whole, though, this book is fantastic. Again, Julie's prose shines. She is masterful at creating new phrases, and my copy of her book is filled with sticky notes where I made notes to myself about her writing. (I read as a student, as well as for review and entertainment.)

There are plenty of surprises in this novel, large and small. I could predict some of the larger surprises, but the occasional small surprises were delightful to run into. When you hold this 477-page novel in your hands, you know you’re in for a treat. Julie’s plot kept me turning pages. I never felt uninvolved with the story. She kept the plot moving in interesting ways that were unexpected and made me wonder if she was a seat-of-the-pants writer. (As opposed to one who outlines the entire story before writing.) I wondered if some of the plot elements were a surprise to her as well.

If you enjoy well-written, edgy Christian fiction, you’ll enjoy this story. Julie has again delighted her readers. When I met her face to face in Minneapolis last month at the ACFW conference, she said, “You’ll have to tell me if I redeemed Charity” (the lead female character in the book). Yes, Julie, you certainly did. She not only turned to God with her words, but also with her entire life. This hurting, conniving character learned to let God work out the details of her life.

Great novel. I look forward to Julie’s next offering, book three in her Daughters of Boston series: “A Passion Denied” coming in the spring of 2009.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Duchess and The Dragon by Jamie Carie

What will it take to tame a dragon? And what will become of a Quaker turned Duchess when she learns of her husband’s deceit? This dragon knew no other way. He feels his only option is deception. But some time in the king’s tower might prove the sort of motivation he needs to reconsider, that and his newly embraced understanding of God and His ways. But can his wife hang on, knowing the future of her and their baby is at stake?

Jamie’s sophomore offering is just as intriguing and engaging as Snow Angel. Again, readers will notice this is not an inside-the-box sort of inspirational fiction. She took risks, especially where passion is concerned. Yet, boundaries are kept, making this novel a true work of Christian fiction. Yes, she pushes the envelope again, but not without the witness of God’s work in the lives of some very real characters. Though they face realistic situations of temptation and fear, mistakes and their consequences, they also grow to understand where God is in all the turmoil. The genuineness of Jamie’s faith is always apparent in her fiction.

Here's the back cover copy:

Two Worlds, One Destiny. Drake Weston, duke of Northumberland, is heir to wealth, prestige, and power. But when his rage pushes him to a tragic mistake, he must leave everthing behind. Not just his home, but England herself. Cloaked in a false identity, Drake slips aboard a ship bearing indentured servants to America.

Serena Winter lives out her Quaker beliefs tending that sick who arrive on ships in the Philadelphia harbor. But never before has she seen such squalor and misery as she finds on the latest shop from England. Nor has she ever met such a one as the half-conscious man with the penetrating eyes and arrogant demeanor. Though she saves his life, even taking him into her family home, there is little gratitude or humility in this man. And yet Serena is certain that beneath the brash exterior is a heart in search of peace.

Against the rich backdrop of Regency-era England and a young America, two passionate, seeing hearts find in each other the strength to face hard truths – and confront an insidious web of deceit that may destroy all they hold dear.

I highly recommend Jamie's fiction novels and look forward to "Wind Dancer," her winter release.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Snow Angel by Jamie Carie

There I was shopping on-line and this book cover popped up in the recommendations. Nice cover. I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but I do, sometimes. Since it was through B&H's newer fiction line, and because I liked the story synopsis, I decided to check it out. I'm glad I did.

Here's the back cover copy:

When Noah Wesley heard the faint sound outside the door of his remote Alaskan mountain cabin during a violent nighttime blizzard, it was no less than the voice of God that urged him to take a closer look, soon to discover his snow angel. Unconscious and more than half frozen to death, her name, as Noah would later learn after boldly saving her life, was Elizabeth, a beautiful young woman, fragile yet fierce, and intent on discovering gold like so many others in that region during the late 1800s. But why Elizabeth was so drawn to the gold, and why she would chase it even through a pounding storm that no man would dare face, was a secret to be shared with no one else, not even at the invitation of Noah's deep blue trusting eyes. First time novelist Jamie Carie pens a can't-put-down debut in Snow Angel, a masterfully romantic story wherein cold and lonely hearts risk everything to be forever warmed.

Intriguing, huh?

Jamie took some risks with this story. At times, it reads more like a secular romance novel. To some, she may have crossed a few lines in regards to passion or violence. Yet, the story is so compelling you are involved before you can resist. I liked the setting of this story, which she realistically painted with her words. Her characters were well-drawn and her plot pacing kept me turning pages. I highly recommend this award winner, though it's not for everyone. If you enjoy edgy Christian fiction, this one's for you. Jamie is a fresh voice in Christian fiction who writes original prose and great stories.

Look for my review of her second book "The Duchess and the Dragon" later this week. This winter, her book "Wind Dancer" will be released. Can't wait.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Cursebreaker by Nancy Wentz

Several weeks ago, I received an envelope with new fiction coming out from Whitaker House in January, 2009. One of the books was "Cursebreaker" by Nancy Wentz. Since the genre interested my husband more than me, I asked if he'd review it.

Here's the back cover copy:

A ten-year-old boy escapes from an abusive father and is taken in by a local pastor—only to discover that the boy is a prophet with a powerful anointing from God. Known as “Luke,” the boy’s gift of prophecy leads him into direct conflict with the Fratellis—a powerful mafia family with a generational curse of demon possession dating back to the sixteenth century.

As he navigates the spiritual world and the streets depression-era Colorado, Luke is befriended by three unlikely people: a member of the Fratelli family; the crusading attorney trying to take down the family; and Clara Crawford—an intriguing woman who is c
aught between the two sides. Will this small boy and his gift be enough to save lives—and souls—before the cycle of revenge and demonic possession destroys everyone he knows? His only weapon is the all-powerful name of Jesus…

Author Nancy Wentz’ drama unfolds in both the physical and spiritual realms, treating the reader to a thrilling tale of mystery, passion, and historical intrigue.

And here's my husband's review:

"As a reader of Christian suspense I enjoyed reading Cursebreaker by Nancy Wentz. This book offers a unique mix of authentic historical settings, suspense and supernatural thrills. The story centers around a 10-year-old boy with the gift of prophesy, and a mafia family during the prohibition era of the 1930’s, which has a generational curse of demon possession. The action is realistic and the pacing strong. Characters are well developed and the dialogue is believable. The Christian evangelical angle is well done and not preachy or overly sentimental. The book is not for those who desire lighter reading; it has all the corruption, violence and bloodshed you might expect from a leading gangster family and their activities controlling a major city. But it also shows that ultimately God is in control; He leads men to change their hearts, and He provides protection for His children. Those who love the style of Frank Peretti should enjoy this work because the elements of grand conspiracies and intrigue, demon possession and spiritual warfare are strong and contribute substantially to the overall appeal and readability of the novel. I look forward to reading upcoming books in this series."

A bit about Nancy:

Born and raised in Colorado, award-winning author Nancy Wentz graduated cum laude from the University of Colorado. Two of her short stories, Henry Cushing and Babi Yar, were winners in the National Writers Association Short Story Contests. She has also written plays for the youth group to perform at her church, and has freelanced articles for her current employer. Nancy has a great love for history and English literature, and, in their pursuit, found her creative outlet by incorporating aspects of both into her writing. Her voice is unique in that it reflects a classic nuance not typically seen in modern writing. Nancy became a Christian in her childhood and for years has prayed for God's will in her life. Through trials of brokenness and faith, God has shown her that He uses the most insignificant, the most defeated, to bring about His will and glory. This theme was the inspiration for her first novel, in that God chooses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. Nancy is married and together they have a beautiful young son. She and her family are active members of Littleton Baptist Church.

Look for this book in early January, 2009, though its page is already up on Amazon. We wish Nancy all the best in her writing.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Healing Stones by Nancy Rue and Stephen Arterburn

Every now and then I get to read a book that simply comes across my path. This one caught my attention when someone quoted its first line in an e-loop. Check this out:

I sneaked down to the boat that night to say this couldn't happen anymore.

See? Riveting. Just like the rest of the novel. Layers so profound and well-scribed you'll wonder how you'll wait for book two in the Sullivan Crisp series. (Healing Waters is due out December 9, 2008, by Thomas Nelson.)

But you'll also savor the prose and tear up at the dilemmas these very real characters trudge through. Phenomenal. For so many reasons. Relatable. Beautiful. A true keeper.

Here's the back cover copy:

With one flash of a camera, Demi's private life becomes public news. She doesn't know it yet, but her healing has just begun.

Christian college professor Demitria Costanas had vowed to end her affair with a colleague. But she gives into temptation one last time...and a lurking photographer captures her weakness for all to see. Quite literally, she's the woman caught in adultery. And almost everyone--herself included--has a stone to throw.

Enter Sullivan Crisp, a decidedly unorthodox psychologist with his own baggage. He's well-known for his quirky sense of humor and incorporation of "game show" theology into his counseling sessions. And yet there's something more he offers...hope for a fresh start.

Reluctantly the two of them begin an uplifting, uneven journey filled with healing and grace. By turns funny and touching, this story explores the ways humans hurt each other and deceive themselves. And it shows the endlessly creative means God uses to turn stones of accusation and shame into works of beauty that lead us onto the path of healing.

An auspicious debut for a candid yet tender series about pain, healing, and God's invitation for second chances.

The ministerial value of this story is what sets it apart. It's life-changing. And that's what good fiction should be. I highly recommend this novel.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Siri Mitchell on other blog

Hey readers, we're holding a contest on my other blog just through today for a copy of A Constant Heart by Siri Mitchell. Leave a comment there (Net's Notes) for a chance to win. I'll have the drawing tomorrow!

After that, we'll commission this site with its first review. Can't wait!!

Read on,

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Hi readers and welcome to my new book review site! This weekend, while at a writer's retreat, it hit me---I need to have a place solely for book reviews since I'm doing so many of them now.

My previous site (Net's Notes) will continue to have past posts for all the books that have come before. Click over there and search the archives for reviews on these and more books:

"A Passion Most Pure" by Julie Lessman
"Taming Rafe" and "Finding Stefanie" by Susan May Warren
"A Constant Heart" by Siri Mitchell
"Searching for Spice" and "Out of Her Hands" by Megan DiMaria
"Sky Blue" by Travis Thrasher

But starting now, you'll find my latest reviews here. I may also talk about publishing and my life as a writer here, too, because this site is all about promoting Christian fiction.

I'm going to keep Net's Notes going with devotionals and life-related stuff. So, there's something for everybody.

Thanks for reading!