Fab Four Book Picks

Book reviews by the Fab Four and our Fab Friends

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Journeys


by Tamela Hancock Murray


Lady Dorothea Witherspoon is desperate. After her mother died, her heartbroken father squandered the family fortune on gambling, leaving Dorothea destitute. As a last resort, she visits a distant cousin to ask for ten thousand pounds so she can avoid debtor's prison.
Lord Stratford Brunswich is taken by Lady Witherspoon's beauty and nature, but it's Baron von Lunenburg who presents himself as Dorothea's knight in shining armor when he offers to pay her debt in full. Only Dorothea doesn't know that his proposal comes at a great price.
Stratford knows of the treacherous game Lunenburg is playing, but how can he expose Luneneburg and rescue Dorothea, the woman he has grown to love, before it is too late.

Pamela here: I will admit to being a huge fan of Tamela's work. In this book, she really shines. As soon as I met Dorothea, standing in her cousin's foyer, I immediately became engrossed in the tale. I read the bulk of this book in one sitting. I didn't want to stop. I fell in love with Stratford, he was so romantic and who cannot love such a devout Christian. Tamlea knows how to do settings too. I felt like I was there, but was not aware of an overbearing amount of description. There is a bit of suspense with the tension carefully built, you will find yourself sitting on the edge of your seat rooting for the couple in love. A beautiful love story with a happily ever after ending. Get this book, you won't regret it. Bravo, Tamela!

Monday, May 29, 2006

THEODORA’S DIARY by Penny Culliford


THEODORA’S DIARY by Penny Culliford

From the back cover:

Saturday 8th May. Emergency!

It is 11:30 p.m. and I am suffering from an incredibly intense chocolate craving that will not leave me in spite of prayer, distraction activities and half a loaf of bread and butter. Got out of bed and searched the flat. No luck. Not even a bourbon biscuit. Not even a cream egg left from Easter. All the shops are closed so no nipping out to replenish supplies. Nothing else for it. I’m reduced to the chocoholic’s equivalent of meths—cooking chocolate.

It’s been one of those days for Theodora. Her mother has become the Greek equivalent of Delia Smith, her boyfriend would rather watch 22 men kick a ball around a field than go shopping with her, and chintzy Charity Hubble wants to pray for her. And of course, the crowning insult is her utter lack of chocolate. Join in her daily life with all of its challenges and joys, tears and laughter.

Camy here:

This is truly a five-star winner. Witty writing without being overly sarcastic, clever characterization that keeps each person rich and intriguing in the reader's mind.

Theodora is refreshingly realistic. She is not smart, beautiful or even particularly spiritual at the start of the book, but she is likable and her adventures are fun to follow. She is a colorful personality, and the people surrounding her are equally interesting--her Greek-obsessed mother, football-crazed plumber boyfriend, the Aussie Reverend "Digger" Graves, and maternal Pollyanna Mrs. Hubble. Each of them makes the plot vibrant and fast-paced. They are all consistent, and any emotional and spiritual changes are both believable and satisfying.

The faith element is handled with tongue-in-cheek, but also with a skilled painter's brush. The Christian stereotypes are all present, and somehow they are both endearing and laughable. This comical backdrop, however, only enhances the brilliance of characters like Miss Chamberlain, who radiate Christ.

The pun-ny writing is laugh-out-loud (or groan-out-loud) funny, reflecting dry British humor. I loved the way the prose rambled along, interspersed with moments of cheekiness that almost took me by surprise. I loved the lack of jaded sophistication, the absence of the kind of biting sarcasm that seems to always be putting someone down.

I can't recommend this book enough. I have to mention, however, that there are several references that are purely British in nature, and may not seem that funny to an American reader. My husband had no idea what a "bloke" was, while I found reference to a "Bible for Blokes" uproarious.

Fun reading. I can't help thinking that fans of Betty Neels would enjoy this book.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Heather's Sarcastic Saturday

Technology it’s a wonderful thing. If I don’t have my fingers on a keyboard most likely there is a cell phone in my hand. Yes, I admit, maybe I am a little pathetic, always checking my email, getting text messages or phone calls. I can’t remember what it was like before I got the laptop and cell. Frankly, it’s a tad scary to think about. LOL

I will admit though, there are times when I find technology annoying. You’re in a movie theater and someone’s cell rings… its not a normal ring, oh no, it’s the latest hit on the radio that goes off. I don’t know about you but when I’m somewhere like that I will hit the button to silence the ring… and oh I don’t know, NOT ANSWER IT! But no, they answer it. I get to hear all about how Sue Ellen’s husband is a jerk and is cheating on her. So when I get out of the movies and someone asks me about it I say something about I just didn’t get the part where Sue Ellen’s husband messed around on her, what was that in there for? Here is where I get strange looks and I’m asked if I was even in the same movie theater.

The worst by far though is in church. Last Sunday there were at least six cell phones I heard go off. My church is big enough, there could have been rings on the other side and I would have never heard them. And I don’t know about you but just because the ringer is a worship song, DOES NOT make it right.

What I really love is the people that are so embarrassed by their phone going off, they won’t answer it. As if the ringing from their purse isn’t a dead give away. Like if they don’t answer it we would never know it was theirs.

How about going to the grocery store… and not knowing the price of something, because hello they don’t put price tags on everything anymore, so you have to find one of those scanner things, that nine times out of ten don’t work. So you take it with you when you check out. As she rings up everything else, you watch the read out like a hawk to see what it costs, of course by the time you see the price she’s already hit total and you are too embarrassed to tell her you don’t want it for that price.

So sound off, what’s your most annoying thing about technology?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Dark Star by Creston Mapes


Dark Star by Creston Mapes
Our lovely fabfour member, Pammer, is on vacation (bum went without me!) this week, so it comes to me to post a review today. Only I don’t write reviews. But I read this book recently and loved it and wanted to feature it. Fab Friend Dineen Miller did a review of it... lucky me...

Dineen Miller:
Bad boy and rock star Everett Lester has become an unwitting tool of the enemy. His fame and fortune are vast, but they mean nothing to a man struggling to make sense of a life grounded in pain. Only the soft voice of one young woman can break though Everett's dark despair and show him the light of God and the love of Jesus. Yet the dark forces of evil will do anything to keep Everett in its grasp.

Dark Star is an amazing and suspenseful story of one man's journey from darkness to light and the messengers put in his life to help him along the way. The salvation message is clear and simple--not a sermon, just the truth.

I loved the way the book is written in two simultaneous parts—as a memoir recounting Everett’s life as a rock star and in current time chronicling his ongoing struggle.

Creston Mapes does a great job putting his characters to the test and showing evil in a very realistic manner. This book is an intense read with a fantastic sequel. Be sure to check out Full Tilt once you’re done rocking through Dark Star.

Heather: Creston brings a very fresh voice to the CBA market. As well as subject matter that is usually shied away from and handles it in a way that isn’t offensive. I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel Full Tilt.

Check out Dineen’s blog here.

Creston has a contest on his website every month.

Monday, May 22, 2006

SAHM I AM by Meredith Efken

SAHM I AM by Meredith Efken

From the back cover:

For the members of a stay-at-home-moms' e-mail loop, lunch with friends is a sandwich in front of the computer. But where else could they discuss things like...

Success: Her workaholic husband is driving Dulcie Huckleberry around the bend. It's hard to love someone in sickness and in health when he's never home!

Art: Let the children express themselves, opines artistic Zelia Muzuwa, and then her son's head gets stuck inside a kitty scratching post . . .

Health: Surely aches and pains are normal in an active little boy, yet those of soccer-mom Jocelyn Millard's son don't seem to be going away.

Motherhood: Teen-mom-turned-farmer's-wife Brenna Lindberg can deal with the mud and the chickens, but what about her husband's desire for a child of his own?

Indiscretions: However youthful, they can come back to haunt you, learns pastor's wife Phyllis Lorimer.

Amends: These could stand to be made between officious list moderator Rosalyn Ebberly and her pampered sister, Veronica. Perhaps the other SAHM I AMers can teach these two something about sisterhood.

Camy here:

This has got to be one of the funniest books I've read this year. That says a lot because I don't even HAVE children, and I tend to dislike books about moms since I can't really relate. But this book about stay-at-home mothers struck a deep chord with me.

The book isn't just about stay-at-home moms, although the heroines are SAHMs. The funnier, sassier theme is hypocrisy within the church. These Christian mothers connect via the internet, but their deeper characters come through despite the "impersonal" medium of emails. The things that happen to these SAHMs aren't as hilarious as the kinds of people they interact with on their email loop and the way they relate to each other.

The Christian stereotypes are all there, three-dimensional and easily recognizable. Those of us deeply involved in ministry and serving in our churches will recognize the different types of "Mary"s and "Martha"s and "Jezebel"s, but sometimes with an unexpected twist. The vibrant characterization made me laugh at my own preconceived notions but also think about my perceptions of my local family in Christ.

I spend a lot of time on email with my friends and family, so the email format was both familiar and a clever fictional tool. There is a wealth of rich, hilarious subtexting going on--things NOT said versus the things actually written in the email. There's also an incredible amount of tongue-in-cheek sarcasm that had me rolling.

The humor reminded me of Penny Culliford's British best-seller "Theodora's Diary." "SAHM I Am" has the same type of dry, clever wit that I love, moreso than the more common, obvious humor in slapstick.

The book is like many other Chick-Lits in that it's more character-driven (strong spiritual threads) than plot-driven by a single thread of action. However, there are five clear subplots interwoven together, taking the place of one main one, with Dulcie's plot taking precedence over the others. It wasn't difficult for me to follow them.

The heroines are relatively young (twenties to thirties) so young mothers will definitely relate. I also think this will appeal to singles, because the humor is not centered around motherhood as much as it's a commentary on Christians in the church.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Heather's Sarcastic Saturday

Work or a lame attempt to stay at home and be lazy?

What is it about others (you know the ones I speak of, those people t-t-that...that don’t write) who seem to think writers don’t have a real job?

“What do you do for a living?” With a hopeful expression, as if y’all can share war stories from around the water cooler.

“I’m a writer.” With a little pride and trepidation.

“Ooooooh.” Raised eyebrows and a curled lip, with an all-knowing look that says, ‘oh in other words you don’t have a job.’ Snort. Lazy.

“...” Uncomfortable pause.

Ahem, um, anything I might have read?” With a little hope that the convo can be saved or they can catch you in all your lazy glory.

Now here the conversation could go two directions depending if you are a published author or not… but since I’m not we’ll go with just a writer’s response. (For the published author convo, we’ll have to ask the soon to be pubbed CAMY TANG!!!)

“Um, a few devotionals, couple articles online.” Refraining to mention it was nonpaying gigs, but Hey! You got a publishing credit for it! Screaming inside your head, ‘I am a writer! And a good one! It is too a real job!

“So, um, you write novels too?” Slight bored expression. Eyes shifting from side to side trying to find the nearest exit.

“Yes.” Big cheesy grin. “Christian fiction.” Another cheesy grin.

“C-c-christian fiction? Oh, how...interesting. I didn’t know they had that.” Scratching head. “So, like made up stories of the bible?”

Cough-idiot-cough. “No, real life. Romance, suspense, sci-fi, we have it all. Just with an added element of the Christian walk.”

“...” Glazed over eyes.

Houston, we have a problem...

Friday, May 19, 2006

SOONER OR LATER by Vickie McDonough


SOONER OR LATER by VICKIE MCDONOUGH
Publisher: Barbour's Heartsong Presents HP # 671
ISBN # 1-=59310-850-8
COPYRIGHT 2005


www.vickiemcdonough.com

Taken from back cover:
Rebekah's dreams have become a nightmare.

For years, her mother told her, "Sooner or later, some handsome man is going to sweep you off your feet and make you his wife." But that was before her mother and brother died and before her stepfather agreed to marry her to a repulsive neighbor in exchange for liquor and a side of beef.

Mason Danfield has no interest in a wife. He's focused on his motherless niece and nephew. But when Rebekah flees her home in the middle of the night, Mason must intervene or see her suffer, maybe even die, on the prairie.

Will God lead Rebekah to the love she yearns for sooner, rather than later? Will Rebekah and Mason allow God's direction to fulfill their dreams?




Cheryl Here:

You know, it took me until the end of the book to realize there is a pretty significant tornado on the cover! LOL! Really cool. Check it out...in the background. See it? I live in Tornado alley, and on the New Madrid Fault so this story was of particular interest to me. The opening hook jerks you in and the plot shoves you through the book at break neck speed. Really connected with the heroine, like in the first few paragraphs. Vickie's dialogue was unique and snappy and I just loved it. Really strong verbs and active writing. Page 62 will squeeze emotion from your eyes and throat. The conflict was really strong in this story, both between Mason and Rebekah, and between Mason and God, and I love how Vicke worked it all out in the end. I could picture the gestures of the characters, and the landscape as if I were standing right there with them. This would be a wonderful book to study if you are an aspiring writer and want to see a great example of an author who did a fabulous job of tugging, then keeping the reader deep in the story. The children are charming, and really add to the suspense and heart of this romance, especially when the twister comes spiraling around. This story will spin in, pick you up, and whirl you away into oblivion without warning. Excellent read!!!

Cheryl Wyatt

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Pink


by Marilynn Griffith

Raya Joseph wants to break free from the beige world around her and celebrate the color of the city. With a sassy pink style and a radical change of hair, she's off to conquer the design world. But it doesn't take long for Raya to meet her match--in style and flair. Flex Dunham, a personal trainer and one of Raya's clients, has got it going on.
As much as Raya would like to pursue a relationship with Flex, she has other matters on her mind--and on her heart. then a blast from the past comes back to haunt her, and Raya can't help but wonder if she made the right decision in keeping her past a secret. Flex seems to be hiding something too. But what?
Woven with humor, heartache, and hip friendships, Raya's new life has a lot of colorful threads. But will the end result be a beautiful design? Or will it fall apart at the seams? Join Raya andher friends Lily Chau, Jean Guerra, and Chenille Rizzo as they untangle the threads in the Shades of Style series.

Pammer here:
Maryilyn is a wonderful storyteller. She touches on issues that face today's women and shares Christians truths without shoving them down your throat. In that way I feel her stories are timeless.
You'll need a few things to read Pink. First you'll need a quiet place because you won't want to be interupted, but also people tend to look at you funny when you hoot with laughter while gazing in a book. :0)
You'll need tissues because you'll cry. The characters are so well rounded and real that you'll feel their pain.
You'll need a fan because her hero is hot. He'll make you melt into a puddle. I'm happy to say he is also real and makes mistakes like the rest of us, but he's just so lovable.

A definate must read!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Expect the Sunrise by Susan May Warren


Okay, I know I don’t do reviews on our blog but Camy has this really great problem, called a deadline. LOL So she can’t post today. So, I thought I would post a review to help my friend out.


And what better book than Expect the Sunrise by Susan May Warren.

Summary
Book three in the compelling Team Hope series by Susan May Warren, the name to watch in romantic suspense. Alaskan bush pilot Andee MacLeod has spent her life searching for the one thing that can stop her running--a family. Now Andee has one last flight to make before she heads down to the Lower 48 for the winter. But she has no idea one of her passengers is a terrorist. And another passenger is FBI agent Stirling “Mac” McRae. Mac and Andee are about to discover what it means to put their hope in eternity and God's plans, even in the darkest moments.

Back Cover Copy
Is it an accident . . . or an ambush?
When their plane crashes high in the Alaskan forest, seven survivors face the challenge of a lifetime—freezing nights, mountain dangers, and injuries. And when suspicions arise about one survivor, they realize their greatest threat is each other.
Mountain rescuer Andee MacLeod and FBI agent Stirling “Mac” McRae must work together if they hope to survive. But will their secrets keep them apart? They’ll have to learn to trust each other if they want to expect the sunrise.

Heather here…
Susan is on my auto-buy list and has been since I picked up her first Romantic suspense title Happily Ever After. In my opinion, Susan is the best in her genre and Expect the Sunrise lived up to all my expectations.

I was hooked from the get-go! A yummy Scottish FBI hero, a mountain rescuer heroine, a terrorist, seven survivors of a plane crash trapped in the Alaska wilds, and past regrets all add up to learning to rely on God and even better a great read for us!

The spiritual element in this book was excellent, in my opinion because it spoke to right where I am in my life at the moment. Learning to trust and rely on God.

So go out and buy this book! Because… well because I said so! LOL!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Heather's Sarcastic Saturday

RUE and KISS scream in my head at times. Resist the Urge to Explain and Keep It Simple Stupid. Okay, you know, some sarcastic writer or editor made up those terms, right? Look at them. Can’t you just hear it with a sarcastic tone? Or is it just because I’m so sarcastic I’m jaded? LOL

I like to think an editor came up with these terms. Can’t you just see it? Picture with me, if you will, a really bad manuscript held in the hand of an over-worked editor. It’s the 20th she’s looked at that day. That isn’t counting the 50 or so query letters she had to slog through also. Bad query letters at that. So she’s reading this manuscript... and wishing she drank because if she did she would be swinging back a bottle right about now… and she just groans again over the tortures read. Thank God, she has a fireplace in her office because as she reads one more overdone description she flings that puppy into the fire and screams KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID!!!

And even better… can you imagine... what if they started putting that in their rejection letters without telling writers what it meant? Editors from all over, having lunch together and laughing their heads off when they talk of these terms. “Should we tell the poor souls what it means?” “Are you kidding me?? Let’s keep them in suspense, after all, we have to read that drivel!”

Ah, but lucky us, some poor, sympathetic editor decided to tell one pathetic writer what it meant. And the rest is history. That editor by the way, disappeared, never seen or heard from again...

Friday, May 12, 2006

HIS UPTOWN GIRL By Gail Sattler

HIS UPTOWN GIRL By Gail Sattler, from her Men of Praise series.
Publisher: Steeple Hill, Love Inspired line.
ISBN: 0-373-87319-0
Copyright 2005

From the back cover:
With long blond hair and painted red nails, beautiful Georgette Ecklington didn't look like a mechanic. But the latest hire at Bob's and Bart's Auto Repair could recognize a faulty coil in no time and fix it just as fast. Only problem was that Bob Delanio was attracted to his new employee. Luckily, he knew business and pleasure didn't mix. Besides, after meeting her weathy and controlling father, Bob realized he and Georgette came from opposite worlds. It was up to Georgette to she her handsome boss that a downtown man should take a risk on an uptown girl.

Cheryl:

One word to describe this book would be, "FUN!" I liked the set up, and how much time the hero and heroine spent together. Their relationship was a natural progression. I was anxious to find out who the heroine had lost and I love the twists. I didn't see most of them coming, and I'm usually great at figuring that sort of thing out. I LOVE the cover of this book, don't you? This plot idea sort of reminded me of the song, Uptown Girl, even had a mechanic in it, but the story was different than the song. But for some reason that song kept playing in my mind during the story. LOL! I can't remember who sang that. Can you guys? I can picture him. He was married to a model who he had children with. My mind is saying Billy Joel. Maybe that's it. Anyone know? Anyway, I loved that the heroine is a mechanic, as my father tought me mechanics growing up, and other than not being a rich heiress, this heroine reminded me of me. I'm vertically challenged like her and know more about car engines than cooking. Sigh. Our cars run well, but dinner sucks. LOL! Anyway, this was a really, really fun story, and I think the secondaries are getting their own stories too. YAY! I love revisiting characters. This church reminds me of our church, and the worship part, I'll bet is dear to Gail's heart because I've heard this author play....and she can jam! I love how the heroine stood up to her father and snooty Tyler. Fun read! It came out in July of 2005 so yo might have a hard time finding a copy. Try going to Gail's website, www.gailsattler.com. She might have more, or email me and I might consider giving up my copy. Amazon may have them too. On second thought, maybe I should keep my copy....the hero teaches the heroine how to cook several dishes, and I might try the recipes. Gail had my mouth watering!

Cheryl Wyatt

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Fireworks


by Elizabeth White


Susannah is out to prove that pyrotechnics genius Quinn Baldwin is responsible for a million dollar fireworks catastrophe during a Mardi Gras ball.

With her faithful black lab Monty, she moves to the charming city of Mobile, Alabama to uncover the truth. But this world-traveled military brat with a string of letters behind her name finds herself wholly unprepared to navigate the cultural quagmires of the Deep South.

Captivated by the warmth and joy of her new circle of friends, Susannah stuggles to keep from falling for a suspect who refuses to be anything but a man of integrity, compassion, and lethal southern charm. Fireworks offers a glimpse into the heart of the South and a cynical young women's first encounter with Christ-like love.

Pammer here:

I loved this book. It was funny, witty, charming, and also tugged at your heartstrings. It starts off with action that made me laugh. And then cringe. I immediately loved the characters. I so identified with Susannah. I fell hard for Quinn. I'm a southern gal and this book brought back so many fond memories. why I could just hear all them drawls. Sigh! I immediately connected with Susannah although we are not alike at all. The secondary characters were so real I felt like I'd been sitting on the porch with them sipping sweet tea. I loved Quinn and the pages just kept turning so I could find out what happened next. What's more it was all laid out in a way that I could totally follow.

Oh, and all Flybabies, you have to read this book. I won't tell you why, but you will love it.

Definately worth the read.

Monday, May 08, 2006

LAMBERT'S CODE by Rachel Hauck

LAMBERT'S CODE by Rachel Hauck

ETHAN AND JULIE'S DREAM ENDS...

After three years of medical treatment, Julie Lambert faces the irrefutable truth: She will never have children. Devastated, lost, and alone, she buries her pain by making several life decisions that threaten her relationship with her husband, Ethan.

Ethan Lambert can't imagine a life without Julie. Yet, his marriage is failing and he doesn't know how to save it. Urged by his grandpa, Ethan launches a journey to understand the Lambert Family Code--submit one to another.

Can Ethan and Julie overcome the loss of their dream and rediscover their love for each other? Will they learn to live by Lambert's Code?

Camy here:

I really like the fact that this book deals with a married couple. Their issues of communication and submission are applicable not just for married but also dating couples, because I was reminded of the kinds of fights my husband and I had before the wedding.

The stress of Julie's infertility brings out the worst in both characters, which is sometimes comical and sometimes heart-breaking. It was hard for me personally to completely relate to their desire for children, because I don't feel as strongly about bearing my own kids versus adoption. However, their conflict is something I think most women will be able to connect with.

I can't say I completely identified with Julie. I think her personality is just too different from my own. As a consequence, there were times I wanted to bop both her and Ethan over the head. But I also think that's an indication of how well the story drew me in, since I became invested enough to want to change the characters' choices!

Ethan's family are all Christians, and it's neat to see their intense spiritual support since I am the only Christian in my family. There are no long monologues of preaching. There's a lot of sage advice from grandpa and practical application of the spiritual truths he teaches.

As a writer, I'm blown away by the elegance of the craft. I would recommend this book to any aspiring romance writer as an example of excellent overall story structure, compelling scene construction, and smooth pacing and flow. Dialogue has multiple layers, and it's never just meaningless arguments or chatter--each line has a point and a colored emotion beneath the surface.

I don't know if single women would appreciate this book as much, but any woman in a relationship (even teens) will find something meaningful in this story. A good, quick, light read.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Heather's Sarcastic Saturday...or not?

Bear with me folks, I’m having a really hard time being sarcastic or snarky at the moment. I’m in way too good of a mood. I’m on the coast. Gulf of Mexico. And it’s perfect. I sat out in a lounge chair for 4 ½ hours this evening. The breeze and salt air making for a perfect relaxing evening.

I’m on vacation. Technically it’s a writing vacation… ask me if I’ve written a word? Nope. Nada. Zero. Nothing. Zilch. In my defense… I did critique a chapter for a crit buddy. Speaking of this crit buddy… I don’t have internet access while I’m here on vacation unless I go to the coffee shop (which is how I will be posting this) but I check my email with my cell phone. From the time I left this afternoon (I’m writing this Friday late evening) til now this crit buddy has put 5 chapters in my inbox. What’s up with that?

Home all week, bored out of my ever-loving mind and my inbox stays empty. I go on vacation and it’s full. I repeat, what’s up with that?? Makes ya wonder how many chapters I will have by the time I get home Monday afternoon, doesn’t it?

So is this the whole a watched pot never boils theory coming into play? I wait. And I wait. And I wait, all week for chapters and I don’t get them. Go away and hope to not get any… I of course get tons.

Should we take bets? How many do you think I’ll have by the time I get home?

Note: I thought I could be slick and post this for Heather with non the wiser, but she pointed out that it says posted by Pammer, so I'll fess up. She wasn't able to post this so she sent it to me to post for her.

Friday, May 05, 2006

AN ACQUIRED TASTE by Susan K. Downs


AN ACQUIRED TASTE by Susan K. Downs
From Fresh-Brewed Love Anthology
Publisher: Barbour
ISBN #: 1-59310-603-3

Having a husband who's a musician, and being a coffee lover, and hanger-outer of bookstores and coffeehouses (Bring on the caramel latte!!!) I really, really loved this book. This hero and heroine seemed polar opposites, and I loved, absolutely LOVED their journey. This is one of the best Novella's I've read to date, if not my favorite. And you know it's wierd, because I can't really pinpoint what exactly it was about this book that kept my attention so much. I lost sleep and went without dinner to finish it...seriously...for me to give up food and sleep for ANYTHING...it HAS to be good. Times I laughed aloud, and other times I found my face hurt because I smiled through the entire thing. I was endeared to the heroine immediately, and felt her angst that she'd carried since childhood. There were times in this book where I literally had to remind myself she wasn't real so I could stop clutching the shirt near my chest and hurting for her. The hero was her perfect match, and his motivations and goals were so clear. The way he cared about this heroine, and put her above what his father thought of him was notable, though pleasing his father had been a life long goal I think. Okay if I say more I'll spoil it for you. A DEFINITE MUST READ!!!!!!

Cheryl

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Leather and Lace


By Diann Mills


It's a perfect time to ride out of here. They won't be back for hours, maybe not 'til tomorrow with this storm coming. A good rain will hide my tracks. . .make it harder to trail me. She could do it alone. She could stop the wishing and dreaming to change her sordid life. I will not become like them. Somewhere in this wide country was a place called home--and she'd find it.
Casey O'Hare forsakes the years she spent in an outlaw gang for a chance to start her life anew. But no one leaves Davis Jenkins and lives. Pursued by the gang, Casey is trapped by a mysterious stranger who takes her as a pawn to get to Jenkins. A strikingly handsome lawyer, could this Morgan Andrews be an angel sent to deliver her--or the devil setting her up for the kill?


This book is fabulous. I don't know which genre to place it in. Historical, western, women's fiction, romance, suspense. It has a little of them all. The tale is riveting, the characters engaging. The story will keep you turning pages when you should be in bed (ahem!) I adored Casey from the moment I met her. You just gotta admire that kind of spunk. Morgan took a little longer because I wasn't sure I trusted him entirely until he up and did a totally romantic thing and saved her life a time or two. The secondary characters were also lovable. Especially Sarah Ranier.
I did think the conflict between Morgan and Casey carried on until I was impatient with them. I think it could have been cleared up a wee bit sooner. But the action sure picked up near the end. I needed tissues. Some parts will yank on your heart. You will also laugh outloud.
I would recommend this book to anyone whol loves a poignant tale of forgiveness and renewal through the blood of Jesus Christ.

Monday, May 01, 2006

SHE’S ALL THAT by Kristin Billerbeck

SHE’S ALL THAT by Kristin Billerbeck

From the back cover:

Contemplating life, love and the pursuit of the perfect pedicure.

Best friends since Johnny Depp wore scissors for hands, "The Spa Girls" live very separate lives, but stay in touch with regular--and sometimes emergency--visits to California's Spa Del Mar. There's diamond heiress Morgan Malliard, who's self-sacrificing to a fault; alternative healer Dr. Poppy Clayton, who can't meet a man without asking about his colon; and finally, up-and-coming fashion designer Lilly Jacobs, who thinks her bad hair is the root of all her troubles.

The first novel in the Spa Girls Collection focuses on Lilly, whose coveted promotion is given to a less-talented co-worker, and who then finds her boyfriend with another girl . . . all on the same day! Lilly needs a spa weekend and then some.

But it's going to take more than a facial and a massage to fix her problems: She's given herself just six months to succeed in her dream career. She's got abandonment issues from her childhood. And a nagging grandmother, an unpredictable roommate, a vixen boss and mixed signals from three very different men certainly aren't helping matters.

What does God have in store for Lilly and her friends? Lay back, kick up your feet and escape with the gals in this great new chick-lit series by acclaimed author Kristin Billerbeck.

Camy here:

This was so much fun to read. The story was quirky and fast-paced. I also liked the glamour-non-glamour aspect of fashion, which focused on the characters rather than the industry/career like in other secular chick-lit books.

I love how Lilly is so realistic, as are her friends (both Christian and non-Christian). The spiritual struggles are very seamlessly woven into the characters and the plot. It never turned into a preachy beating over the head except at one point, but the high emotions of the moment completely explained the character’s sudden spiritual tone, and it was very believable for me.

There were some points at which I didn’t quite follow the characters’ emotions during the dialogue. Often during her interactions with Nate, I think. The dialogue moves back and forth and then suddenly she’s mad as a cat. Then a couple lines later she’s depressed. It seemed a quick transition for me, maybe because the dialogue moved so fast. It made it hard for me to feel her emotional swings, and I just had a hard time getting the emotions in the scene.

There were a LOT of characters in the book. Maybe it was just that so many of them were introduced at once—Lilly’s ex-boyfriend, his new girlfriend, Sara, the guy who took Lilly’s promotion, Morgan, her father, Poppy, Kim, Nate, Max, Nana. All within the first quarter of the book. It was hard to figure out who was a major figure and who was not.

The storylines involving Lilly’s friends and her (almost) lovers are clear and easy to follow, but they seemed to resolve in a rather hasty, choppy way. I also didn’t quite buy some of the minor characters’ reasons for their actions.

The story itself was interesting and captivating. The last half of the book is non-stop action, and I couldn’t put it down.

I think that even teenaged girls would like this story—there’s nothing really age-specific that they wouldn’t get, and nothing objectionable for parents to worry about. This is a light-hearted tale that both singles and marrieds would enjoy.