Fab Four Book Picks

Book reviews by the Fab Four and our Fab Friends

Monday, October 30, 2006

THE WEDDING CAPER by Janice Thompson

The Wedding Caper (Bridal Mayhem Mysteries, book 1) by Janice Thompson

When a $25,000 night deposit mysteriously disappears from the Clark County Savings and Loan, Annie Peterson has reason to be concerned and to assume the role of amateur sleuth. Her husband's job at the bank makes him a potential suspect, but knowing him to be a godly man, she can't imagine it.

Then again, there is that matter of the weddings to factor in. Twin daughters Brandi and Candy have just received proposals and two weddings are pending.

Sure, Warren occasionally jokes about robbing the bank to pay for the ceremonies, but Annie knows him better than that . . . doesn't she?

Just about the time Annie thinks she can wriggle Warren off the suspect hook, he mysteriously shows up with enough cash to cover the cost of both weddings. Annie dives into the investigation and the suspects pile up.

One by one they fall, leaving her with only one logical choice. Who will it be – a somber-faced loan officer, a security guard with a shady past, a drifter with local ties – or the man she loves?

Camy here:

This is a cute cozy mystery with quirky characters. It has all the fun of a farce and the strong spiritual thread that Barbour is known and loved for.

As I read, I couldn’t help thinking that fans of Diann Hunt’s Hot Flashes and Cold Cream will love this book. It doesn’t deal with menopause, but Annie’s character is every bit as fun, crazy, motherly, and determined as Maggie from Hot Flashes. Annie shares the same stage in life as Maggie, some of the same issues, and all of the same sense of fun.

I have to admit that I didn’t quite relate to Annie—the same way I didn’t relate to Maggie—because I’m just not in that stage of life at this time, plus I don’t have children. However, also like Hot Flashes, it’s a well-written novel that will be sure to entertain readers who share in the issues that give Annie’s life more angst.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Heather's Sarcastic Saturday

Nachos. All I want for Christmas is nachos.

I’m not talking fancy nachos with tons of stuff on them. I’m talking cheap, liquid cheese over the top of the chips, with some jalapeños for good measure. How hard can it be to find these things?

At the conference, Robin and I were jonesing badly for them. Could we get them anywhere? Noooooo. Then for a week in Little Rock we tried to find them and couldn’t. What’s up with that? Robin by the way has since had nachos and she took great pleasure in calling me and telling me all about it.

Is there a shortage on liquid cheese? Did they come up with new and improved uses for this type of cheese? Oh, let me guess… everyone is so dang gourmet these days that no one wants the old cheap thing.

Now I’m sure you can still get them at high school football games but come on. We all know how I feel about teenagers. That SO isn’t happening.

You can probably get them at a movie theater but I wouldn’t know seeing as I haven’t been to a movie in years. In this day and age why pay that much for a movie when you can have the DVD delivered to your door so much cheaper.

All I want are some freaking nachos.

What’s something you’ve been wanting lately that you can’t find anymore?

Friday, October 27, 2006

a mile from sunday by jo kadlecek

A Mile from Sunday by Jo Kadlecek
Publisher: Navpress
ISBN-60006-028-5
2006 release
From The Lightfoot Trilogy


From Back Cover:

SOMETIMES WOLVES PRAY IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING
The perfect hair product is out there for girls with uncontrollably fruzzy curls. So is the perfect piece of chocolate. So is the perfect man. And so is a good, warm, fuzzy, inspirational lead story. Jonna Lightfoot McLaughlin, religion reporter for the Denver Dispatch, knows all this to be true. She just can't find proof. For any of it. Then one day a series of mysterious messages appears on her voicemail, and she is thrown into a story that may drastically affect her career, and, if she's not careful, her life.

Clues from untraceable sources collide with duplicitous ministers, ambiquous monks, and one exceptionally good-looking community center director. With the help of her supportive editor and her savvy, fellow chocoholic colleague, as well as the protection of her big brother, she might break the biggest story of the year-and find some of that inspiration after all.

Cheryl here:

For someone who prefers category romance over single title stories, I have to say this book went fast. The first sentence hooked me, and the rest of the book just seemed to fly by. I don't care for first person stories, but honestly, first person made this book even more special. I loved the character of Jonna.

For those of you looking for fresh Christian fiction that's both lighthearted and REAL....I highly recommend this book. The plot really interested me, and I found the secondary characters delightful. I absolutely loved the unique writing in this book

As another writer...I'm totally impressed at how Jo put me right in the story and made me feel like one of the characters. I'm definitely eagerly awaiting her next book to come out, and this one's going on the keeper shelf.


Squirrel

Monday, October 23, 2006

VIOLETTE BETWEEN by Alison Strobel

Violette Between by Alison Strobel

Back cover:

Between here and the past, there lies a place…
…a place of longing for what has been rather than hoping for what could be.

A true artist, Violette is passionate and emotional. Climbing back into life after suffering a loss, she teeters on the precipice of a new relationship with Christian, a psychologist who not only understands her struggles but offers safety and his heart.

As Violette and Christian begin to feel something they both thought impossible, tragedy strikes again. Violette becomes trapped in a place of past memories–and she finds that she may not want to come back. What would it be like to choose a place between the past and the present?

Camy here:

This is a unique women’s fiction novel that put me in mind of Lisa Samson’s Tiger Lillie. It has the same free-flowing format of a story-within-a-story that gives deeper insight into each of the major characters.

Both of the major protagonists are widowed, so this will strike a strong chord in anyone who has lost a spouse—both recently or many years ago. This also explores the difficulties of learning to love again, of unfinished grief, of tenuous faith.

Violette and Christian (and Violette and Saul) are such different personalities that it was interesting to watch their interactions—their fights, misunderstandings, resolutions. I personally had a hard time relating to Violette because she’s completely opposite of my own personality, but other women who have that spontaneous, romantic streak will find much of themselves in her character and even her faith.

This is a wonderfully edgy novel in that the characters themselves are not strong Christians, although at points they believe themselves to be, while at other points they don’t care if they are or not. This blurred area of faith/not-faith is refreshing to see in a story.

I personally wouldn’t give this to a teenager to read because the mature issues of widowhood will probably not resonate with them, but any other older reader will find slices of Violette and Christian that they can relate to.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Heather's Sarcastic Saturday

How you know you’re broker than broke.

1.) When you jab a finger into the coin return of every payphone (do people even use those anymore??) you pass. Ahh, don’t forget doing the same with all the soda machines too.

2.) You walk into walls because your head is always down scanning the ground for loose change. (Or maybe you’re just a dingbat…I have a couple of those that read these posts regularly. LOL)

3.) When you can only buy peanut butter (full of protein!) or Jelly (fruitiness, rocks!) but not both. Aww, who needs stinking PB&J anyway??

4.) When people start using you as a charitable write off...

5.) If you’re a writer and don’t have a real job.

6.) When people start flipping quarters into your Starbucks cup while you sit at an outside table… me thinks you look pretty broke, hmm or maybe you just need a makeover.

7.) Instead of getting your own house, you become America’s Houseguest. (awww, such is my life. LOL)

What say you?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Danger Within


by Valerie Hansen

Part of the Faith at the Crossroads Series

TO: AL_CRANE@CSSENTINEL.ORG

FROM: COLLEEN_MONTGOMERY@CSSENTINEL.ORG

Boss,

My reporter's nose smells a story brewing at the Double V Ranch. Word is that rancher Michael Vance has already lost several cows to a mystery ailment. This isn't the first odd thing to happen there either--Michael's old foreman disappeared out of the blue, and his new one, Hector Delgato, is cagey. He bears watching. Meanwhile, Michael hired newcomer Layla Dixon as the housekeeper/vet while his injured housekeeper recovers, and the bohemian beauty is nothing like meat-and-potatoes Michael. I think romance might be in the air, but there is also something sinister starting up in Colorado Springs...

Pammer here: A truly delightful read. Keeps you on the edge of your seat and the characters. LOVED Layla. Wasn't too sure about Michael at first but when I saw him with that new born calf, my heart softened right up. Very well written and fits right into the series, seamlessly.

I'd buy the whole series and read them one after another.

Monday, October 16, 2006

DARK HOUR (Serpent Moon trilogy, book 1) by Ginger Garrett

One of the darkest and bloodiest stories of all time comes not from a medieval battlefield but from inside one of the most opulent palaces ever built. The strageies come not from men eager to extend their influence but from women bent on exercising their wit and prowess in a kingdom not their own. Treason and murder are fair game. Marriage is manipulation, a means to an end. Children are the enemy. And the days of the House of David are numbered—unless one woman can find the strength to conquer them all.

Dark Hour is based on the story told in 2 Chronicles 21-23.

Read an excerpt here.

Camy here:

I don’t read many Biblical fiction stories, but there are a few which stand out and are truly entertaining, fascinating reads.

Dark Hour started off a bit gruesome and a little slow, but the storyline moves along swiftly after the first few chapters. I had read the passage in 2 Chronicles and knew the skeleton story, but the author weaves a colorful tapestry of events that kept me interested.

The dark queen Athaliah is rich, complex, vivid, magnificent even in her selfish ambition and occult beliefs. Jehoshebeth’s character arc is wonderfully satisfying as she changes from a spoiled princess to a strong, fierce handmaiden of Yahweh.

Many of the spiritual aspects—Athalia’s pagan rituals and experiences, Jehoshebeth’s prayers to God—have that mystical quality that brings to mind old fantasy books I read. It makes for both entertaining reading and also a strong reminder of God’s power. I think fantasy readers will like this novel—it’s a completely different culture and society, and it has those supernatural elements that make for unpredictable fiction.

Fans of Randy Ingermanson’s City of God series will enjoy this book immensely. It has the richness of ancient culture with the drama of human emotions, and a whisper of supernatural powers.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Heather's Sarcastic Saturday/Sunday

Effective birth control...

A party for a four year old and ten of their “best friends”.

The kid in the shopping cart in the grocery store screaming bloody murder because mom won’t buy them the cereal with the highest sugar content.

The scary one sitting in the corner rocking back and forth... either they’re plotting you bodily harm or they’re future writers plotting someone else bodily harm.

A child who clamps onto your leg, twisting back and forth like you’re some kinda maypole all the while with one finger stuck up their nose as far as it will go… which of course when they finally let go of your leg they will use you as their tissue for said finger.

We won’t even go into all the bodily functions, with things I would rather not identify coming out of their little bodies.

(And, yes, IF I ever have kids I know y’all will laugh your butts off at me.)

Monday, October 09, 2006

THE GUY I’M NOT DATING by Trish Perry

The Guy I’m Not Dating by Trish Perry

Book description:

Kara Richardson has finally suffered one breakup too many. She's decided to go the no-dating route to romance, although she's not quite sure how that works.

She couldn't have picked a worse time to meet Gabe Paolino. Gorgeous men hardly faze Kara. A personal trainer, she works with hunks every day. But Gabe, the handsome young deli owner in town, proves way too available and way too challenging for Kara's vow of friendship. How will she adhere to her new lifestyle without scaring Gabe away?

Enter matchmaking friends, a strange elderly aunt, three demanding teens, and one hard-to-take vixen with eyes for Gabe. Add an overcrowded road trip and plenty of God's blessings, and Kara may discover that the guy she's not dating is the best boyfriend she's ever had.

Camy here:

This is a sweet, funny novel that does a great job blurring the line between romance and chick-lit.

It’s in third person past tense point of view, which will appeal to romance readers who dislike the typical first person point of view of other chick-lit books. But this is definitely a chick-lit story because it’s All About the Girl.

The author tackles the tough issue of dating and how it fits into the Christian single’s life with a bit of tongue-in-cheek and a lot of slapstick humor. Chick-lit readers will immediately be drawn into Kara’s struggles and dilemma.

I think that readers who love Steeple Hill Love Inspired romances and Heartsong Presents romances will adore this book. I thought that the tone of the narrative and the overall feel of the romance between Kara and Gabe was similar to what romance readers expect and enjoy, but with a splash of chick-lit flavor.

I would have no qualms about giving this book to even junior high school girls to read. The writing is clean and appropriate, and the romance will not only satisfy romance junkies, but it will also solidify a young girl’s conviction of purity.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Heather's Sarcastic Saturday

Them and You

Would you like fries with that? Did I order fries with that?

For an additional ten dollars, we can add on a super-duper gadgety thingie that you’ll never have any use for. I’m sorry, do I have fool stamped on my forehead?

Can I interest you in upgrading to our newest model? Okay. Did we not just have a long drawn out conversation where we decided this was the best model for me? Not two seconds ago, it was perfect for me and now you want me to UPGRADE? May I give you my first born, too??

You and Them

Can I have extra whip on that? Sigh, sucks air through teeth and rolls eyes.

Can I have the gravy on the side? “Um.” Twirls hair around finger and pops gum. “That’s not how we have it on the menu, so I’m not sure.”

Could you make those separate checks please? “Separate? But you’re all sitting at the same table, you aren’t separate.”

They offer what you don’t want and won’t give you what you do want. No fries, fool is not stamped on my forehead, no upgrade needed. Give me extra whip before I smack you, put the gravy on the side and separate the checks!

Friday, October 06, 2006

BY HER SIDE by Kathryn Springer


Publisher: Steeple Hill --Love Inspired Line
ISBN: 13:978-0-373-8736-9
10: 0-373-8736-7

From back cover:

The Davis Landing Observer Page 5
The Gossip Guru
…is back with more news. Seems intrepid reporter Felicity Simmons, at rival newspaper The Davis Landing Dispatch, is being threatened by someone who is not happy with her articles. Your faithful source hears that police officer Chris Hamilton, the only family member not working for Hamilton Media, is protecting her. Independent Ms. Simmons will bristle at being guarded, but she doesn't know how stubborn Chris can be -- or how determined he is to be by her side until her stalker is caught….



Cheryl Here:

By Her Side is book two in Steeple Hill's Davis Landing miniseries and released in August of this year...yeah, yeah I'm just now getting around to reading it! LOL!

Here's the rest of the Davis Landing series:

Book one: Butterfly Summer by Arlene James (LI#356, release date 7/06)

Book three: The Family Man by IreneHannon(LI#364, release date 8/06)
Book four: The Hamilton Heir (LI#368, release date 10/06)
Book five: Prodigal Daughter by Patricia Davids (LI#372, release date 11/06)
Book six: Christmas Homecoming by Lenora Worth (LI#376, release date 12/06)

About By Her Side:

This author really amazed me at how well she executed the romantic progression of the hero and heroine. Though the story timeline wasn't that long, it seemed there was a natural progression of Chris Hamilton (hero) and Felicity Simmons (heroine).

For those of you out there who are writers this would be a great book to study as far as the relationship arc. For those of you who are readers, I think you'll enjoy the journey of these characters. Kathryn uses some really cool prose...and unusual metaphors and word pictures yet the story didn't read to heavy on description or adverbs. I found myself instantly rooting for the hero especially. Felicity worked her way into my heart by chapter two and I liked her internal struggle though I would have liked to have had a clearer glimpse of it sooner.

I think my favorite part of this story was just how naturally the hero and heroine fell in love...felt like I was reading about real people and nothing felt contrived in the story. It also had me itching to read the rest of them in how the author dropped subtle hints of the upcoming characters in the book...who are the siblings of the hero in this book.

I enjoyed the setting of this book, and felt like I was IN that newsroom. Overall great read that left me smiling, as well as wondering how Kathryn weaves a seemless romance with one of the most natural progressions I've ever read in a category romance.

Look for the book on eHarlequin since you may not be able to pick it up in bookstores.

Blessings!

Squirrel

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Pirate's Prize



by Lena Nelson Dooley

Is there any way to escape from a pirate ship?

Angelina de la Fuente Delgado, the pampered daughter of a wealthy merchant, is on her way home from a trip to Spain when her ship is attacked by pirates. The brigands captured her and her aunt and steal all the merchandise on the ship. After forcing most of the crew to walk the plank, they sink the vessel into the Atlantic.

Brian O'Doule, who is secretly in love with Angelina, is also kidnapped by the pirates. Driven by feelings of guilt for not preventing the disaster, he does everything in his power to protect the women and to find a way for them all to escape.

Will Angelina ever see her home and her beloved father again? Or will she be forced to marry the fierce pirate captain, Etienne Badeau?

Pammer here: Lena has done it again. A beautifully written intriguing tale of adventures on the high seas. Her descriptions are so wonderful you can actually smell the tangy air. Also captivating are the characters especially Angelina and Brian. I loved those two. They were so real and alive, you couldn't help cheering them on, even when they made mistakes. Aunt Elena reminds me of a favored aunt of mine.

For a sweet romance with a twist of adventure, I recommend this book. I would feel safe enough to give this to a teenager to read and a range of age groups would enjoy the tale.

I better stop before I give away a spoiler. But also, I found out at the ACFW conference, this book is in audio form too!

Well done, Lena.

Monday, October 02, 2006

THE SECRET LIFE OF BECKY MILLER by Sharon Hinck

THE SECRET LIFE OF BECKY MILLER by Sharon Hinck

From the back cover:

Faster than a speeding minivan, able to leap piles of laundry in a single bound. It’s a bird, it’s a plane. It’s Supermom!

Move over, Walter Mitty. Here comes Becky Miller. A young mother with grandiose daydreams and a longing to do “Big Things for God” searches for direction amid the chaos of daily life and the disappointment of failed opportunities.

Becky’s rich fantasy life helps her cope with the pressure to be a Wonderful Wife and Marvelous Mom. But she keeps hearing the tape play:

“Your mission, should you choose to accept it: support your husband when he loses his job, nurture an eccentric circle of friends, raise perfect Christian children, live a life full of grand Purpose, all while standing on your head and whistling Dixie. Your fantasy will self-destruct in five seconds.”

Camy here:

This was a funny and fun read. The Walter Mitty-style fantasy segments were both exciting and very apropos for each chapter, adding a new dimension to how the protagonist Becky thinks and feels. It added so much to Becky’s character and to the storyline.

I really enjoyed this book even though I don’t have children. Becky’s kids aren’t perfect, nor are they monsters, and the author drew me in with both their antics and how Becky handles them. I not only saw the humor, but also Becky’s angst over being a good mother. It was both entertaining and also poignant, because it reflected how I often feel in areas of my life where I think I’m failing.

The action and events move quickly—this book definitely doesn’t drag. The pace is quick-footed and light. It was a very fast, page-turning read.

I love Becky’s interactions with her Bible study friends. I think I liked it mostly because it was real. They weren’t all “bestest buds” in a rather unreal, Barbie-doll way, but their friendship was deep and yet flawed. There’s both love and tension between Becky and each of them, and between each other. Not tension in a bad way, but tension in a way that makes me as the reader want to know more about what’s going on between them, in their lives. Why are they like this? What’s going to happen next? I loved all the minor characters as much as I liked Becky.

I don’t know if teenagers would like this book—the subject matter and the protagonists might be out of their scope of interest—but I think that 20- and 30-somethings would enjoy Becky’s adventures. Or rather, mis-adventures! Older women will also appreciate Becky’s humanness and humor.

This is a fabulous read. Not to be missed!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Heather's Sarcastic Saturday/Sunday

I'm in Little Rock. Robin has hijacked me and she is being such a bad influence on me!! I should be back next week with more sarcasm...I'm sure being with Robin for a week will give me great sarcasm to use...