Friday, October 30, 2009

The Last Word by Kathy Herman

When Vanessa Jessup returns home from her sophomore year of college, her mother, Sophie Trace Police Chief Brill Jessup, is stunned to see that she's pregnant-by one of her professors. While Brill is glad her middle daughter rejected the father's abortion ultimatum, she's also hurt that Vanessa ignored her upbringing and angry that the professor has disappeared without so much as a nickel of child support.

But that's not all Brill's got on her plate. One of her detectives has been killed, and the attacker has threatened to come for her next. When a second cop is wounded, public criticism mounts as Brill attempts to stay alive long enough to catch the perp. And she's trying to find that deadbeat dad, while Vanessa struggles to make decisions about her future.

My Review:
Thank you to The B & B Media Group, Inc. for my copy of this Christian fiction novel. This is the second installment of the Sophie Trace Trilogy series, and can be read without having read the first as the author nicely fills in all gaps.

The character of Brill is one I connected with in the first book. She's the first female police chief in the town's history. Working in a high pressure position, while being wife to Kurt and mother of three gives her depth. The layered story begins when her teenage daughter comes home from college seven months pregnant, shocking her parents. People begin dropping like flies as a murderer takes revenge, threatens that Brill is next. Talk about a stressful life!

However, there is too much repetition. This character tells that character about a circumstance, and later, the reader reads yet another conversation about the same topic being discussed between two others.

Nonetheless, the book is a worthy read, with a bit of romance and the suspense of tracking a slippery killer. Discussion questions are included.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wondrous Wordless Wednesday

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where a group shares new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading. Feel free to join by posting your new words, then leaving a comment for Kathy with your link at Bermuda Onion.

The object is to increase our vocabulary while having a bit of fun.

Here are some new words that I’ve discovered this past week from Let Darkness Come by Angela Hunt:

1. moue - a little grimace; pout.
Pronunciation: \ˈmü\

She makes a moue. "What if I don't want to deal with no overblown catfight?"(34).

2. chuffs - the sound of noisy exhaust or exhalations
Pronunciation: \ˈchəf\

Erin chuffs softly. "She was a drunk. We lived on food stamps and welfare, which probably explains why I was attracted to Jeffrey" (90).

3. skirling - to scream, shriek;
Pronunciation: \ˈskər(-ə)l, ˈskir(-ə)l\

The skirling wind skitters past Briley, tossing hair into her face and whippin her skirt around her legs (287).

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Walk with Christ to the Cross by Dawson McAllister

In Jesus' walk to the cross and His subsequent resurrection, Dawson McAllister says, Jesus paid for our sins and gave hope and meaning to our lives; but in order to fully appreciate and apply these exciting truths, Christians must grasp the full significance of Christ's life and ministry.

In looking more closely at the walk Christ took to the cross both literally and figuratively, readers will come to a dramatic and life-changing understanding of the great sacrifice Jesus made.

Offering readers a startling and powerful look at the Passion, this is a pivotal read: those who take it to heart will never be the same.

My Review:
I won this book in a giveaway, and it sat on my bookshelf for months, not because I didn't want to read it; I did, but because I simply did not hav the time with all of the other books I had to read and review. Finally, my schedule was caught up-to-date, and I opened the cover.

Written in a conversational tone with antidotes included, this volume goes into detail on the final fourteen hours of Christ.

It begins with an extensive examination of Judas. Another in-depth study centers on Peter. Many chapters conclude with "Lessons to Learn," a nice summary of points made. The reader follows the arrest and trials of Jesus step-by-step, with explanations of Roman and Jewish laws and traditions. A study of the name Jesus is included. This is a good source for anyone interested in the life and death of Christ.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Let Darkness Come by Angela Hunt

The murder trial promises to be the most sensational to hit Chicago in years. And attorney Briley Lester knows it could make—or break her career. The tabloid headlines are screaming that a long-mistreated society wife has killed her abusive husband—the scion of one of the city's wealthiest, most powerful, most dangerous families….

It seems like a hopeless, open-and-shut case, but Briley is becoming more and more convinced that her client truly is innocent. A tragic secret, almost too shocking to be believed, could be the key to proving it. But before she can bring the truth into the light, she'll have to face this woman's shadow-haunted past—and her own— and let darkness come….

My Review:
Thank you to Mira Publishing for my copy of this new legal suspense novel by my favorite author who once again produces a book with an unexpected twist. It's typical Angela Hunt: fantastic!

Briley Lester, a frustrated criminal attorney who once envisioned making a positive difference in the world, has become weary of defending guilty criminals. Now she has a huge first-degree murder case dropped into her lap. To make matters worse, she has never tried a murder case; indeed, all of her cases have been low level ones. Does her firm want her to lose?

Erin Tomassi, the widow of a state senator, stands accused of his murder. All the evidence is stacked against her, and everyone--even this reader sees her as guilty. Yet as the plot unfolds, opinions change. Could she be innocent?

Angela Hunt takes this impossible case and creates some courtroom drama. This is no Perry Mason novel; this is based on potential possibilities. This author always educates.

The writing is first-person narrative and flows. Pages almost turn by themselves. I would enjoy staying in touch with the characters. I do hope to see Briley Lester in another novel. Be sure to grab this one for a good read.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Giveaway! Angels: A Pop-Up Book by Chuck Fischer

Whether you consider angels to be divine messengers, spiritual guides, or the stuff of legend, you will find something to marvel at in this awesome book.

Fischer's original art, inspired by classic images from art history, is crafted into astoundingly intricate three-dimensional pop-ups with fold-outs and moveable parts. Angels brings to life the most captivating stories of these celestial beings, from the angels of the zodiac to Biblical angels to angels in the arts and popular culture.

Chuck Fischer's paintings hang in some of the finest residences in the world. His designs have been reproduced on holiday ornaments and home furnishings, including wallpaper and fabrics in the permanent collection of the Cooper-Hewitt Museum. He is the author of five previous pop-up books: The White House, Great American Houses and Gardens, Christmas in New York, Christmas Around the World, and the forthcoming In The Beginning. He lives in New York and Florida.

My Review:
Thanks to Hachette Book Group for my copy of this colorful pop-up book. No one does pop-up books as well as Chuck Fischer!

Although children will enjoy it, in no way is this a children's book; it is created for adults and is a comprehensive study of angels arranged into three sections: "Messengers," "A Hierarchy of Angels," and "Secular Angels." Text is interspersed throughout the book by inserting booklets--themselves tiny works of art. A good idea is having the "Acknowledgment" and the "Image Credit" pages as pull-outs.

This volume is smaller than other works of the author; perhaps because the price is less than the others. Nonetheless, it is large enough to do the job. I would encourage careful handling to preserve this treasure. This would make a marvelous gift.


The generous folks at Hachette Book Group are allowing me to host this book giveaway for ONE (1) copy of this special book!
  • Winners are restricted to the US and Canada. No PO Box mailing addresses, please.
  • Leave your email address in code in your comment Example of email in code: you[at]yourmail[dot]com
  • I'll close the comments at 6 PM EST November 3rd and pick the winners. I will contact the winners via email to get their mailing information. The winners will have three days to respond. If I do not hear from a winner within three days, I will select another winner(s).
  • If you're interested, just say so in a comment with that all-important email address in code.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ansel Adams in Color by Ansel Adams

Edited by Harry M. Callahan with John P. Schaefer and Andrea G. Stillman.

Toward the end of his life Ansel Adams wrote, "People are skeptical about my thoughts on color. I do not blame them, as I have protested it and have not shown color pictures. I feel the urge now and only wish I was sixty years younger!"

Adams began to photograph in color in the mid-1930s. He did significant personal or "creative" photography in color, and his distinctive visualization of a scene and technical mastery is immediately evident in his color photographs. Overall, he made nearly 3,500 color images, but only a small fraction have ever been published.

Adams thought seriously about publishing his color images, but the task was not accomplished during his lifetime. The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust--with advice and counsel from John Szarkowski, former Director of Photography at New York's Museum of Modern Art; David Travis, Curator of Photographs at the Art Institute of Chicago; and James Enyeart, former Director of the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House--asked the distinguished master photographer Harry Callahan to select the best of Adams' color work for publication in this book.

Accompanied by an introductory essay by Enyeart, and a selection of Adams' fascinating, often contradictory writings on color photography, these magnificent color images add a new dimension to Adams' enduring legacy.

My Review:
Thank you to Hachette Book Group for my copy of this wonderful book. Everyone's heard of Ansel Adams, America's foremost landscape photographer. In fact, whenever I spot a black and white landscape, I think of him. However, this eye-opening collection of spectacularly detailed color photographs expands my admiration of his work.

This volume is more than a collection of magnificent color photographs; in addition, it contains a comprehensive essay, "Quest for Color" by James L. Enyeart, photographic historian. The heavy volume concludes with "Selected Writings on Color Photography by Ansel Adams. This book would be a treasure for anyone interested in photography, art, and/or America. What a remarkable gift it would make!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Things Worth Remembering by Jackina Stark

Maisey asked for a bride doll the Christmas she was five, mesmerized by her aunt's wedding the fall before. Since then I've been dreaming of the day, or days, we would shop for her wedding dress. A mother helping her daughter find just the right creation for that momentous walk down the aisle strikes me as one of life's happiest endeavors. The night she called to tell us she'd bought her "dream of a gown," I sat beside Luke on the couch, a striking contrast to Maisey's exuberance.

My dejection seemed a tad inappropriate. "Being hurt because I wasn't included is silly, isn't it?" I asked.

"Not so silly," he said.

Will I ever quit longing for the Maisey who was once mine? Kendy Laswell and her daughter, Maisey, used to do everything together--until one fateful summer when everything changed. Now, Maisey is back home to get married, and Kendy is determined to reconnect with her daughter. But can a bond so long broken ever be restored?

My Review:
This is the second novel I've read by this author, and she is fast becoming one of my favorites. I got my review copy from Bethany House. If I had to describe the writing style of Jackina Stark in one word, it would be "tenderhearted." She manages to tell a deeply profound story with a delicate pen.

Relationships between mothers and grown daughters are complex, but the one depicted in this Christian fiction has the reader searching for clues as what could have caused their once-close relationship to crumble. The reader quickly discovers that there is a gulf between this mother and child.

Written in first person narrative in the voices of these two main characters: Kendy, the mother, who strives to regain the closeness she once enjoyed with her now grown daughter, and Maizey, the daughter who rebuffs all efforts to spend any alone time with her mother. As Maizey's wedding day approaches, memories surface that help shed light on the breach of that fateful summer.

The plot moves at a steady pace, urging the reader to read on--this is a hard book to put down. Characters are well rounded--flawed--believable. I found myself relating to both mother and daughter. Even secondary characters are fleshed out such that the reader can understand their motivations. I thoroughly enjoyed the novel and its theme of love and forgiveness. I trust that you will too.

If you would like to read the first chapter, click here.

If you would like to buy a copy, click here.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Giveaway! Simon's Cat by Simon Tofield

Simon Tofield's animations have taken YouTube by storm. Now, the feline Internet phenomenon makes his way onto the page in this first-ever book based on the popular animated series.

Simon's Cat depicts and exaggerates the hilarious relationship between a man and his cat. The daily escapades of this adorable pet, which always involve demanding more food, and his exasperated but doting owner come to life through Tofield's charming and hilarious illustrations.

My Review:
If you own a cat, (ahem!) I mean if you are owned by a cat, you'll love this book.

Although I do not have a cat currently living in my home, I have enjoyed the antics of cats. Simon Tofield accurately draws the joys and frustrations of Simon while his famous cat attempts to do battle with fish and birds, torment dogs, avoid cat collars, obtain a never-ending supply of food, and find a comfortable napping spot. I chuckled out loud with the trip to the veterinarian and again when Simon had to rescue the cat from the tree.


The generous folks at Hachette Book Group are allowing me to host this book giveaway for five (5) copies!
  • Winners are restricted to the US and Canada. No PO Box mailing addresses, please.
  • Leave your email address in code in your comment Example of email in code: you[at]yourmail[dot]com
  • I'll close the comments at 6 PM EST October 22nd and pick the winners. I will contact the winners via email to get their mailing information. The winners will have three days to respond. If I do not hear from a winner within three days, I will select another winner(s).
  • If you're interested, just say so in a comment with that all-important email address in code.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Though Waters Roar by Lynn Austin

Harriet Sherwood has always adored her grandmother. But when Harriet decides to follow in her footsteps to fight for social justice, she certainly never expected her efforts to land her in jail. Nor did she expect her childhood enemy and notorious school bully, Tommy O'Reilly, to be the arresting officer.

Languishing in a jail cell, Harriet has plenty of time to sift through the memories of the three generations of women who have preceded her. As each story emerges, the strength of her family--and their deep faith in the God of justice and righteousness--brings Harriet to the discovery of her own goals and motives for pursuing them.

My Review:
Lynn Austin can write! I completed this 428 page book and sighed with satisfaction. Her characters are well-rounded, flawed people; I make connections to each one and anxiously turn the page to find out what will happen next. The plot is a series of jigsaw pieces, carefully put into place until a satisfactory picture emerges.

The theme is one of relationships between mothers and daughters as well as husbands and wives, while the setting spans four generations of U.S. history. Read this one. You won't be disappointed.

If you would like to read the first chapter, click here.

If you would like to buy a copy, click here.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

How I Got to Be Whoever It Is I Am by Charles Grodin

Charles Grodin, looks back at the major events and private moments that have shaped his life. And, since he is one of the best storytellers around, he can't help but entertain while offering insight gained from a wealth of experience.

The combination of being impeached as class president by his fifth grade teacher (and then winning many school elections thereafter) with being thrown out of Hebrew School for asking too many questions (only to find a much better teacher as a result) informed Grodin's view of himself and made him adept at dealing with rejection--an important skill for an actor. Grodin's success in plays in high school and adventures in college theater led him to a career in acting, studying with the great teachers like Uta Hagen and Lee Strasberg.

Grodin shares behind-the-scenes tales of working on plays like Same Time Next Year and movies like The Heartbreak Kid and Midnight Run--even how close he came to playing the lead in The Graduate. His stories feature the many actors, directors, writers, and producers, with whom he's worked, such as Robert DeNiro, Dustin Hoffman, Johnny Carson, Orson Welles, Warren Beatty, and other colorful characters.

He has been an award winning talk show host and commentator on Sixty Minutes II, and he reveals insights about the political and personal side of journalism and some of the larger-than-life characters he's interviewed.

He shares intimate anecdotes of humorous dating experiences during the carefree 70s along with stories of what it was like to be a young actor then with friends and colleagues like Robert Redford, Gene Wilder, and Dustin Hoffman.

But it is Grodin's tales of the lives he's helped save with his relentless advocacy work that make you realize what a great guy Charles Grodin really is. We are lucky that the nice guy his friends call, "Chuck" brings us along to share a little of his journey of how he got to be who he really is!

The author is donating 100 percent of his royalties from sales of this book to Mentoring USA, a New York City based nonprofit that forges powerful, transformative connections for young people through the advocacy and involvement of mentors.

My Review:
This book demonstrates the dry wit of its author. If you "get" Charles Grodin, you'll enjoy this look at his experiences. Once I began reading, I had a hard time putting it down as his anecdotes are interesting.

Written in first-person narrative, Grodin comes across as an honest man as he tells of his own shortcomings and forgives most offensives directed toward him. However, he is human, and after being treated rudely, he cites his successes.

Rather than filling in details, he sometimes writes in snippets. Since he's usually verbose, I count this as a positive.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Giveaway! The Love Revolution By Joyce Meyer

Joyce Meyer is not satisfied with the status quo. She believes that we each need to become a revolutionary and practice love every day. And if Joyce has her way, the revolution will spread - person by person, house by house, town by town, until the old culture of selfishness and greed gives way to a new culture of concern for others.

The book is a revolutionaries' manual, a hands-on primer for bringing the Golden Rule to life in the twenty-first century. Meyer starts out by giving some stunning statistics. Right now...210,000 children will die this week because of poverty; 640 million children do not have adequate shelter; every day, 3,000 children are abducted into the sex-trafficking industry; every day, 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes. She goes on to say that although crisis is global, the solution is local. We can't solve the world's problems, but that isn't a reason to remain idle.

LOVE REVOLUTION focuses on personal behavior on the local scale. It's not just a call to action; it is a call to being: being the person who goes out of your way to encourage someone who's out of hope; being the one who smiles at a stranger; being the one who is willing to do something for nothing. The paradox: when we do something for nothing, what we often get is something far greater.

My Review:
Rather than complain about the ugly problems of the world, this book challenges the reader to be part of solutions. The author asks, "What have you done today to make someone else's life better?" This is a book that will challenge the reader to put Christian love into action by stepping outside comfort zones.

John Maxwell writes about an interesting concept called, "The Compliment Club." Joyce Meyer proposes a "pay it forward" style of blessing others with time, talents, thoughts, words, deeds, and money.

Fans of Joyce Meyer will not be disappointed with this one.


The generous folks at Hachette Book Group are allowing me to host this book giveaway for five (5) copies!
  • Winners are restricted to the US and Canada. No PO Box mailing addresses, please.
  • Leave your email address in code in your comment Example of email in code: you[at]yourmail[dot]com
  • I'll close the comments at 6 PM EST October 20th and pick the winners. I will contact the winners via email to get their mailing information. The winners will have three days to respond. If I do not hear from a winner within three days, I will select another winner(s).
  • If you're interested, just say so in a comment with that all-important email address in code.