Sunday, May 30, 2010

Present Perfect by Gregory A. Boyd

I don't often review non-fiction, though I do read it. I couldn't resist this one.

Here is the summary:

Finding God's presence in everyday moments is fundamental to every Christian's life---but is often a constant source of struggle. As a fellow pilgrim on the journey, Boyd offers practical suggestions for instilling God into daily living and insights from classical spiritual leaders including Brother Lawrence, Jean-Pierre de Caussade, and others. 166 pages, softcover from Zondervan.

And now, my review:

Are you awake?

With those words I am launched back to the years when I read Brother Lawrence’s book “Practicing the Presence.” A phenomenal concept—staying in tune with God every conscious moment. I like how Boyd is genuine, real about how challenging this goal can be. I could relate with his efforts. I also appreciated his wisdom. Because experiencing the presence of God isn’t about yesterday or tomorrow. It’s about the now.

Are you awake?

He ties this idea into surrendering our lives to God. You can’t actively give God your past in the sense of going back there and giving it to Him. But you can give Him your life, your decisions, your plans, your heart in this moment. Now. What an eye-opening concept.

So, I’m going to move forward with this concept and hang onto the lessons of this insightful book, continue giving myself grace as I strive to practice remaining aware of God’s nearness in the present moment. It’s really all about God and His goodness and enjoying the relationship He died to give us—one of love with Him.

I hope you’ll read a copy. Highly recommended.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Reluctant Cowgirl by Christine Lynxwiler

Today, I'm stretching back to last year with a review of a book which released in April, 2009. I saw some buzz about this book somewhere and couldn't help grabbing a copy myself.

As always, we'll begin with the summary:

For the past eight years, Crystal McCord has believed the old saying that you can't go home again. Will she give herself a chance to be proven wrong? New York actress Crystal McCord puts her career on hold to return home to Arkansas to help take care of her family's ranch. When she meets cowboy neighbor Jeremy Buchanan, sparks fly. But when Jeremy's never-before-mentioned family appears on the scene, he drops out of the picture. Will Crystal's country road home turn out to be a dead end? Is it time for a U-turn back to the Big Apple? Or will Jeremy manage to book her for an unlimited engagement?

And now, my review:

I love Christian books about actresses and their lives. Christine Lynxwiler lets us dabble in New York’s acting scene and root for an actress to achieve her dreams. Yet, most of the story is held on a farm in Arkansas, so you get the cowboy/ranch experience, too. What’s not to love about that in a romance? Lynxwiler skillfully takes readers into both worlds while tackling some painful family issues—the abduction of a daughter and the death of a twin sister. But, somehow, the author doesn’t let the reader get bogged down too low to enjoy flipping the pages. Loved the barn scene where the leads portrayed “Sleeping Beauty.” A lovely romantic moment I wished Lynxwiler would’ve milked just a bit more (sorry). This romance goes a little deeper with those aforementioned issues, but I believe the author handles them well, giving us an HEA ending readers will like. (happily ever after) I’ll be on the lookout for more of Lynxwiler’s books.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

It Had To Be You by Janice Thompson

This third book in the Weddings by Bella Series is lots of fun!

Let's begin with the summary:

Bella couldn't be happier that her long-feuding Aunt Rosa and Uncle Lazarro have finally admitted their love for one another and are getting married. Their forties-style wedding is sure to be a night to remember. But when the Rossi house begins to fill up with family from Italy--and an old mobster from New Jersey--life starts to get complicated. Will Lazarro's friend from the past drive the happy couple apart once more? And will Bella ever have time to think of her own rapidly-approaching wedding amidst the chaos? Full of laugh-out-loud humor, plenty of Italian passion, and a bit of Texas gumption, It Had to Be You is the satisfying conclusion to an entertaining series.

Do you enjoy romantic comedies? This is just the series for you.

Just when you think this novel is going to center around the older couple, you find our heroine, Bella, waxing romantic about her dreamy cowboy fiancĂ©. The author’s wit and skill in writing let readers know they’re in good hands, and they can relax and enjoy the ride with her quirky characters.

And oh boy, here’s a little advice—be prepared to crave Italian food as you read. I found myself longing to cook up an Italian dish I’ve never attempted before just because of the characters and their cooking. Yum!

One of the elements I enjoyed about this series is the same hero and heroine through all three books. Yet Thompson keeps the books interesting by mixing up her cast of characters. First person point of view is one of my favorites, so I loved reading Bella’s story as if I were her. *grin*

If you read for entertainment, escape and fun, you’ll enjoy this series. I did.

Available May 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Highland Blessings by Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Do you enjoy books that whisk you away to another setting so skillfully you don't realize you've been transported until you have to put the book down? That's what this debut novel does for readers. That and much more.

First, a summary:

Kidnapped on her wedding day

Scottland, 1473. Bryce MacPhearson, a highland warrior, kidnaps Akira MacKenzie on her wedding day to honor a promise he made to his dying father. While Akira s strength in the Lord becomes a witness to Bryce, she struggles to overcome her anger and resentment when he forces her to wed him, hoping to end a half-century-old feud between their clans. While Akira begins to forgive, and Bryce learns to trust, a series of murders leaves a trail of unanswered questions, confusion, and a legacy of hate that once again rises between their families. Clearly, a traitor is in their midst. Now the one man Akira loves no longer trusts her, and her own life is in danger. Can Bryce look beyond his pain and seek the truth? Will Akira discover the threat against her before it s too late? How will God turn a simple promise into bountiful Highland blessings?

And now, my review:

From the beginning, I felt immersed in the setting of 15th Century Scotland. From the characters' Scottish brogue to the clan wars, the author engages the reader in her story. It’s obvious the author conducted a lot of research. (*applause*) The novel has a strong hook (a bride kidnapped on her wedding day), and readers are yanked into an action-oriented story from the start.

As a reader of romance, I expected to see more tie-ins to the genre. The cover doesn’t indicate this is a romance, so that may be unfair. What I noticed is that once the hero and heroine are married, the reader is never clued in (well at least through the first half of the story) about their intimacy. For a romance to work, that romantic tension has to remain. Otherwise, what is there to aim for? Because that aspect wasn’t clear or strong, I found myself losing interest in finishing the story.

The portions of the romance I did enjoy, though, were the obvious spark between the hero and heroine. And the tenderness of the hero from the very beginning. A warrior with strong convictions about caring for women seemed too delicious to overlook. The author brought them together immediately and what’s not to love about that? (Which element, by the way, made this historical read like a romance.)

If you enjoy romance, history, castles, Scottish tales and/or warriors, you’ll enjoy this book.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Christian Fiction Releases: May, 2010

Here is the list of new Christian fiction releases as compiled by American Christian Fiction Writers. Happy reading!!

1. A Quiet Place; A Tabor Heights Novel by Michelle Levigne -- A Romance from Desert Breeze. Tabor Heights -- A friendly little town on Ohio's North Coast, where the members of one church help each other in their journeys of faith, learning, and love.

2. Betsey's Return; Book 2 in the Brides of Lehigh Canal series by Wanda E. Brunstetter -- An Historical from Barbour. After being left once at the altar, Pastor William vowed to serve the Lord alone. But that was before Betsy's Return.

3. Black Hills Blessing; A 3-in-1 Collection by Mary Connealy -- Three Contemporary Romances from from Barbour. Buffalo owner butts heads with an ornery cattleman; a lady rancher has a cantankerous neighbor; A doormat wife stands up to her tyrant husband. Who will survive when worlds collide?

4. Clara and the Cowboy by Erica Vetsch -- A Romance from Heartsong Presents. Alec takes on robbers, rustlers, and kidnappers, but his greatest challenge will be taking on Clara, his boss's daughter.

5. Finding Jeena; Book 2, Homecoming Series by Miralee Ferrell -- Women's Fiction from Kregel. Shaken to the core at the threat of losing everything, Jeena is confronted with her prejudices and with a God she had long forgotten.

6. In Harm's Way; Heroes of Quantico, Book 3 by Irene Hannon -- A Romance from Revell. An abducted infant, a tattered Raggedy Ann doll, a terrified woman and a skeptical FBI agent come together in what Publishers Weekly calls "an ever-climactic mystery."

7. It Had to Be You; the third and final novel in the "Weddings by Bella" series by Janice Thompson -- General Fiction from Barbour. Bella couldn't be happier that her long-feuding Aunt Rosa and Uncle Lazarro have finally admitted their love for one another and are getting married. Their forties-style wedding is sure to be a night to remember.

8. Kate's Philadelphia Frenzy; Camp Club Girls Series, Book 5 by Janice Hanna -- General Fiction from Barbour. The Camp Club Girls series introduces young readers to six friends who meet at church camp and solve mysteries together.

9. Legendary Space Pilgrims by Grace Bridges -- A Sci-fi/Fantasy/Futuristic from Splashdown. If Pilgrim's Progress were a space opera, it might look something like this: two young seekers on a journey of discovery, searching for freedom and a planet to call home.

10. Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico by Lena Nelson Dooley -- An Historical Romance from Summerside Press. Heroine in peril becomes a mail-order bride. . .gone awry

11. Love is Monumental; Book 2, A Walk in the Park by Annalisa Daughety -- A Contemporary Romance from Barbour. Finding love has become a feat of monumental proportions for a shy park ranger.

12. Morning for Dove; Book 2, Winds Across the Prairie by Martha Rogers -- An Historical from Realms, a Division of Strang Communications. Luke and Dove struggle against prejudice and a deadly natural disaster for their love.

13. No Other; Protecting the Witnesses LIS continuity series--book #3 by Shawna K. Williams -- An Historical from Desert Breeze. Jakob Wilheimer longs for healing after his family's internment during WWII, but will freeing Meri from the captivity of her upbringing heal them both, or tear them apart?

14. Nowhere Carolina; Book 2, Southern Discomfort Series by Tamara Leigh -- A Romance from Waterbrook. When Maggie Pickwick's teenaged daughter decides it's time she knew the identity of her father, Maggie's carefully balanced world begins to teeter.

15. Seeds of Summer; Book 2, Seasons of the Tall Grass by Deborah Vogts -- A Romance from Zondervan. When a former Miss Rodeo Kansas queen returns home after her father's death to care for the family ranch and her two younger siblings, what follows is a summer full of change, life-lessons and an unexpected romance with the new minister in Diamond Falls

16. So Over My Head; Book 3, Charmed Life Series by Jenny B. Jones -- General Fiction from Thomas Nelson. Newly single, stalked by a killer, and in desperate need of some chic clown shoes,˜ Bella is one mocha frapp away from a total meltdown.

17. The Heiress; New Jersey Historical Series Book 2 by Laurie Alice Eakes -- An Historical from Barbour. Desperate for money, Daire Grassick sells a family heirloom to a lady he doesn't know, only to discover it holds a secret formula for glass without which his family will be ruined.

18. The Narrow Path by Gail Sattler -- A Romance from Abingdon. When they must combine efforts for the most important event in Ted's church's history, can modern Mennonite Miranda Klassen and Old Order Mennointe Ted Wiebe find peace somewhere in the middle?

19. The Wedding Garden; Book 3, Redemption River by Linda Goodnight -- A Romance from Love Inspired. Join RITA and ACFW Award-winning author, Linda Goodnight, in "Redemption River", where healing flows.

20. The Weight of Shadows by Alison Strobel -- Women's Fiction from Zondervan. Kim has found a way to suffer for her sins and ease her guilt--but is her relief more important than her innocent daughter's safety?

21. They Almost Always Come Home by Cynthia Ruchti -- Women's Fiction from Abingdon. He was supposed to go fishing, not missing.

22. To Be a Mother by Ruth Axtell Morren and Cheryl St. John -- Romance from Steeple Hill. Two heartwarming stories of non-traditional families becoming families in a very traditional sense.

23. White Roses by Shannon Taylor VanAtter -- A Romance from Heartsong Presents. Can a heart-broken florist and a widowed pastor reclaim romance after their lives collide among the thorns?

24. Wildflower Bride; Book 2, Montana Marriages by Mary Connealy -- A Romance from Barbour. Glowing Sun, a white woman raised by the Flathead tribe, has never met a man she didn't want to pull a knife on, including the man determined to marry her.