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Archive for book reviews

Michelle Sutton’s Surprise Love

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Surprise Love by Michelle Sutton is a contemporary romance from Desert Breeze Publishing. Kami Garrett, ex-rodeo star and current riding coach meets Bryan Miller, would-be professional baseball player and Aston Kutcher look-alike, and finds herself instantly attracted after years of keeping to herself.  Spice is added to the mix through Kami’s cousin, Mindy, a bipolar woman who finds her worth in sexual conquests, and Bryan’s roommate for baseball tryouts, Will.

Kami and Bryan’s love develops at a reasonable rate through outings that didn’t turn out the way our couple intended and a few dates which allow for some conversation of family, pasts, interests, and future goals.

Michelle adds plenty of action to keep the reader engaged in the plot and guessing about how things will turn out, particularly for the secondary characters.

Surprise Love has Michelle’s unique expression of young characters trying to figure out who God is and He is to them. But there are spiritual depths to be found when we read that Kami has vowed, “Never again would she allow her heart to be manipulated.” And Bryan brashly claims, “He wanted more out of life than just baseball.  So much more.”

Of course, he gets what he desires – Michelle Sutton writes true romance where the reader can count on this one staple: the guy gets the girl at the end.  The rest is a surprise.  Surprise Love.

Scouts’ Pride by Michelle L. Levigne

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Okay, folks, this is my last review written from the writer's retreat at Keuka Lake. I finished reading Scouts' Pride this morning and I'm reviewing it this noon, and that catches me up from reviews since February.

The scout in Scouts' Pride are Ian Fieran, protagonist from Azuli Eyes. The pride in Scouts' Pride is Kay'li Fieran, Ian and Miranda's daughter. The book covers some 16-20 years, depending on if we measure in standard years, the growing years of Kay'li.

Because of the time period covered, the story is presented in highlighted snippets of the important parts of Kay'li's life. The plus of that was there weren't dull moments, the negative was that certain aspects felt unfinished because the reader didn't get to hear about the follow through. (One example that sticks in my mind is the stolen leaper ship and what became of it.)

But by the end, I am fully committed to Kay'li's life and her purposes and the task before her for book 3.

This book is spiritually lite in how the characters express their faith, with only a passing nod to Fi'in (Creator God), but has enough issues and topics presented for the reader to see real, spiritual ramifications played out in a science fiction world.

Azuli Eyes by Michelle L. Levigne

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Azuli Eyes is science fiction/adventure from Oak Tara Publishers. Michelle Levigne opens with a quick foreword to orient a new reader into her Commonwealth Universe, then jumps into the Chorillan Cycle series by introducing Scout Captain Ian Fieran and a bit of his world among the scouts and leapers.

Michelle's world stays one step ahead of me until we settle on the planet Chorillan and I meet teacher, Miranda Rialton. I engage with her and immediately the things that are important to her become important to me. Understanding Wildings. Saving them. Saving individual children. Uncovering the plot that's in play to keep the planet from being settled as it should.

And then the Azuli, sentient wolves, are introduced.

Since I love fantasy, the hard spots in this novel were the science fiction aspects rather than being in a new world. But Michelle didn't make them so important that a non-tech wouldn't be swept into the emotion of the mission.

I happily move on to book 2, Scout's Pride.


Gone South by Meg Moseley

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Gone South by Meg Moseley is contemporary Christian fiction from Multnomah Books. I read this book for ACFW book club last month and enjoyed it in a lot of aspects, considering, as you all know by now, women's fiction is not my favorite.

Tish McComb was a delightful character and she carried this book for me.  I wanted to see her find happiness and acceptance and contentment. The male lead, George Zorbas, grew on me as he stepped out and challenged himself to live out his faith. The heart-breaker character was young Mel, homeless, sincere, and in desperate need of help from someone who could forgive her past choices. But as the story progresses, the reader realizes that Mel was simply doing the best she could in a world that didn't live by the same code she did.

I wanted to mother and mentor Mel, and perhaps that made me dislike Mel's parents all the more. Truly nasty characters, though I did dredge up some compassion for the mom.

This book was a lot about life in the south, ancestors, expectations, misunderstandings, slander, appearances, hoping for something different but finding your same self in the new place.  It was about prodigals and God's amazing love. It was about trusting God in uncontrollable situations.

I would have liked to have seen characters play out their faith on the page a little more than this story offered, but the spiritual truths lie in the storyline if you're game to seek them out.


Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Against the Tide is historical fiction from Bethany House. It's a well written, engaging story. I loved the female lead, Lydia Pallas, from the moment she stepped on the page as a child.

This story may have been categorized as historical romance because the romantic thread played a huge role throughout the story, but the historical aspects, particularly Mrs. Winslow's Soothing Syrup added depth to an exciting storyline.  I enjoy learning historical facts and the legality of opium in children's "over the counter" drugs wasn't something I was aware of.

Lydia works for the Department of the Navy as a translator in an office of men. Her boss, Admiral Fontaine, appears first on the page larger-than-life as her protector and guide, but Elizabeth Camden reveals him later as human as the rest of us in his weaknesses.

Bane (Alexander Banebridge) has some bad boy mystique when he shows up, tweaking Lydia's need for order and preciseness, and because the Admiral was so admirable I wasn't immediately sure who the romantic lead was going to turn out to be. Just as a fun aside — the moment I knew Bane was going to win Lydia's heart was when I found out Bane's heart already belonged to the Lord.

What I liked about Against the Tide: all the flirting scenes between Bane and Lydia, the bad guy creepiness, the Mrs. Winslow opium aspect, the translation work, the spy parts, the Notorious moment near the end.

About the only thing I didn't like was how long it took Bane to make contact with Lydia when she was undercover.

I recommend this book for all readers of Seek Truth. Read fiction. I'm sure you'll find something delightful within its pages.


Curse Bearer by Rebecca P. Minor

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Curse Bearer, Book 1 in the Risen Age Archive series, is Christian fantasy published by Written World Communications.

This is "an epic tale of curses and miracles, where headstrong ignorance creates bondage, and the desire to serve offers freedom." It's an engaging story with a lot of spiritual depth.  I enjoyed it immensely.

Danae Baledric, the eldest daughter of the local apothecary, lives in a town that has been overthrown by the enemy for so long that the people have little to no resistance left in them. After Danae's father is poisoned (in some fashion) by a knife creating a flesh wound that won't heal, Danae sets out on her quest to find answers and bring back a cure.

The journey contains Patrons and elves and an evil that hunts her. I particularly liked the spiritual depth and allusions in this novel.  The Creator God of this created world is called Creo which at least harkened my mind back to Creator every time I read a reference to him.  The fight of good versus evil showed the forces of darkness, and how Danae defaulted to darkness when she really thought she served herself.  I love to see such truths shown in fiction.

In true fantasy style, this is book one, and the story continues in the books to follow.  I intend to follow. If you read the Curse Bearer, I suspect you will too.


Hidden in the Heart by Catherine West

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Women's fiction, ACFW book club book, Hidden in the Heart by Catherine West focuses on a number of topics — adoption, addiction, depression, divorce, and a bunch of other relational issues in families.

Protagonist, Claire Ferguson was hard to like at first, but seeing her at her lowest, gave me greater joy in her rise. My favorite secondary characters were, of course, Claire's husband, a man of tender patience, Claire's grandparents, though I knew they wouldn't come out stainless, and Darcie, living out her faith with courage.

There is a lot going on in this book, plot-wise and spiritually. Cathy did a good job of engaging my emotions, and I think I cried every time Claire's husband stepped on the page for at least the first 150 pages.

I don't want to talk about the plot too much and give away the tangled ending, so I'll just say, if you like women's fiction, if you like to see the needy and broken rise and win, if you like to have hope that God works in all things, and you like to see God glorified, you will like Hidden in the Heart.

Chasing Christmas by Steven Hunt

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Chasing Christmas from Harbourlight Books is an issue book (which I would call women's fiction except that the protagonist is male). The issue: suicidal depression. The cure: try to kill yourself and then let God take over your life.

This story opens with a bang as Teddy Whitaker guns his classic sports car into Dead Man's Curve. But God has other plans for Teddy. Instead of dying, he begins a fantastical journey, e.g. A Christmas Carol or The Shack, to learn the lessons God has planned for him.

Short bits of this book read more like a report on depression than a story, but I liked Teddy's wife and wanted to see him succeed for her sake. The daughter grew on me. Teddy was still pretty much a whiner even after his amazing experiences, but I don't know how much of that was his personality or his depression.

I liked the clever word play at the end. I was okay with the spiritual lessons. I'm not sure I was convinced Teddy had experienced them and truly made them his own, but I would think such an experience would stick with a person and he would revisit it often enough to continue learning the lessons until they settled deep, so I bought the happy ending.

I liked the ambiguity of the title, Chasing Christmas. I give this a thumbs up for creativity and teaching.

Daughter of Light by Morgan L. Busse

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Daughter of Light by Morgan L. Busse is another great fantasy read from Marcher Lord Press.

There is so much going on in the plot of this novel that I'm not even going to try to sum up. Protagonist Rowan has my empathy and encouragement from the beginning. The secondary characters are likewise engaging.  The bad guys are bad, and yet presented in the complex plot as not necessarily the ultimate bad guys. The magic is powerful and spiritually acceptable in its allusions to the truth of the ways of God.

The writing is clean and makes it easy to get lost in the story.

Yes, I not only enjoyed this book, but I think I'll read it again before I start book 2, Son of Truth.

Hide and Seek by H. L. Wegley

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Hide and Seek by H. L. Wegley is a suspense novel from Harbourlight Books. I thought this was a great read and I thoroughly enjoyed the entire story.

Lee Brandt is a man of vision who sees his company making serious mistakes that could soon turn into disasters, but his supervisors aren't interested in his speculation. When a security breach occurs, Lee is called in to discover the culprit.  But he needs someone with a little more computer expertise. So enter Jennifer Akihara.

I know some readers love the everyday, warted, characters best, but I love larger-than-life, the best in their field characters, and I loved Jennifer from the get-go. She gets right on board with what Lee needs, perhaps too efficiently, and soon they are on the run for their lives.

I liked the tension of the chase.  I liked the fast-paced writing.  I liked the varied settings within the story. And, I liked the slow-burn romance of extenuating circumstances drawing two people together faster than normal. I liked Lee's faith and the quiet, spiritual moments of reflection.

I know that I didn't catch all the scientific stuff, the details of the industrial espionage, or the bigger picture ramifications.  But I understood the danger to the hero and heroine and thrilled with them as they again and again made good choices to keep themselves alive.

Definitely a fun read.  Give it a try and see what you think about H. L. Hegley's Christian suspense.