The September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre in New York reverberated around the world and on that the afternoon of that same day, God placed a story in author, Karen Kingsbury's heart. She went on to write that story in honour of those lost on that fateful day.
Jaime Bryan is happily married to her firefighter husband Jake and living in New York with their young daughter, Sierra. The only concern for Jake is that Jaime doesn't share his faith and for Jaime, the fear that when Jake heads off to work, he may not return. Jaime faces that fear as the Twin Towers collapse, with the knowledge that Jake would have been leading the rescue effort. When an injured man is pulled alive from the destruction, Jaime and Jake's colleagues are ecstatic that Jake has survived and despite his failure to remember his name, the explosion or his wife, they know he will heal and pray his memories will be restored.
Jaime puts aside her disinterest in spiritual matters, believing if Jake can rediscover what was most important to him - his faith in God - then his complete healing would be not be far away. Reading aloud to Jake from his well worn Bible, Jaime starts her own journey towards discovering the joys of God's faithfulness.
Despite the premise of the book being somewhat far-fetched, the book is beautifully written and provides a glimpse of the dedication and sacrifice made by the rescue crews who ran into those burning buildings without hesitation and the heartache of the families whose lives were changed forever.
Friday, 29 September 2006
4 1/2 stars
In this riveting sequel to One Tuesday Morning , Karen Kingsbury delves further into the raw issues of tragedy, loss and grief and the difficult process of moving on with life. On 11th September, 2001 firefighterJake Bryan was in one of the twin towers as part of the rescue mission, when it collapsed. Three years have passed since the tragic circumstances that almost destroyed Jaime Bryan and their young daughter, Sierra, yet propelled her into the arms of her Heavenly Father, a prayer Jake had throughout their marriage. Jaime is now a volunteer at St Paul's Chapel at Ground Zero, a place to reflect and remember, a place for family and friends to seek comfort in light of their loss. Her faith has grown but Jaime is afraid of moving on and puts aside her own grief to comfort those seeking healing by visiting St Paul's.
A shock assault at a train station is thwarted by a visiting Los Angeles police officer who is immediately attracted to Jaime but senses her fragility and the grief she tries to hide. For Jaime, the thought of loving another man fills her with confusion and guilt and she is unsure how to deal with feelings she never thought she would experience again. Just as she opens her heart to this man her world is once again shattered by news so devastating she questions her ability to go on.
Karen Kingsbury's writing engenders empathy and emotion and this book is no exception. Her characters experience feelings and thoughts that are genuine and compelling. Her spiritual perspective is woven seamlessly into the story and as you read the last page you feel uplifted and encouraged.
Thursday, 28 September 2006
I have been awaiting the release of Dee Henderson's THE WITNESS with much anticipation, having been enthralled by both her O'Malley and Uncommon Heroes series. This release, through a new publisher Tyndale, is the first for Henderson in three years and my expectations were high. While this book is quite different to her previous series, many elements remain the same and I was not disappointed.
The story revolves around three sisters, two of whom discover the mixed blessing of inheriting millions, together with shocking secrets about their father that are publicly unveiled. Amanda Griffin, the oldest sibling, is believed dead by her sisters after witnessing a murder and going into hiding eight years ago. However, the man who wants Amy dead now sees her sisters as a way to lure her out of hiding. Fortunately, Amanda has a chance encounter with the compassionate and meticulous Police Chief Luke Granger and his dedicated homicide detectives, Connor Black and Caleb Marsh. The lives of these detectives quickly become entwined with the three Griffin women and the mystery and trouble surrounding them. When will they discover the threat that consumes them may overshadow a danger they never expected.
Henderson has penned another first-rate suspense novel which draws the reader into the story completely from the first page. She releases clues with a deft hand, subtly enticing the reader into the tension of the mystery and the emotions of the characters. Although the reader's connection with the characters is not as strong as in her previous books, her character development remains a highlight of her work, portraying genuine people being tested to their limits - emotionally, physically and spiritually. Her minor characters are also well developed and add to the power of the story rather than being a distraction.
Dee does not shy away from tragedy and explores the impact of injustice, fear and grief experienced by the Griffin women and their protectors. The developing romances in the story are engaging and add depth and joy to the story in true Dee Henderson style. This is a stand-alone title however there is clearly scope for a sequel in the future.
Tuesday, 26 September 2006
Monday, 25 September 2006
3 1/2 stars
If you enjoy romantic comedies at the cinema, try the literary version and grab Linda Windsor’s Paper Moon, the first book in her Moonstruck trilogy. Linda’s writing has that rare laugh out loud quality so be careful where you read it! Linda has travelled to Mexico on a numerous occasions and some of the weird and wonderful happenings in the story are her personal experiences which adds to the credibility and humour of the book. The scenery and traditions of Mexico are enticingly written giving you the experience of a trip to Mexico from the comfort of your own home!
Paper Moon is the story of Caroline Spencer and Blaine Madison, single parents roped in to chaperoning their teenage daughters’ class trip to Mexico. While the storyline is of a predictable nature with Blaine and Caroline having to overcome the scars of their previous marriages, their attraction to each other is entertainingly written and has enough quirks to keep the reader entranced. Linda weaves intrigue into the story with Blaine and Caroline facing their worst fears as their daughters become innocent pawns in an international smuggling ring. Caroline's accepting faith is tested and Blaine's waning faith challenged.
If you are looking for a fun and easy read this is the book for you . The sequels, Fiesta Moon and Blue Moon tell the stories of the other Madison siblings, Mark and Jeanne, who make brief appearances in Paper Moon.
The second book in the These Highland Hills series by Kathleen Morgan reintroduces the reader to Iain Campbell, Scottish laird and warrior, who was thwarted in his love for Anne in Child of the Mist, the first book in the series. He has returned to his home, Balloch Castle, and is leading a peaceful, if somewhat lonely life, far from the intrigue of the Scottish court. Searching for cattles reivers on his land, Iain stumbles across a gravely injured woman who cannot remember her own name and brings her home to be cared for by his mother. Iain's kindness has unwittingly exposed his home and heart to treachery and betrayal, the like of which he has not experienced before.
Iain feels a strong and immediate attraction to Regan despite his concerns about her identity and she finds in Iain and his mother, a care and concern that feels foreign from the tiny remnants of memory she posseses. They are unaware of the danger posed by Regan's relatives who soon find out where she is and begin plotting to use it to their advantage.
Set in the Scottish Highlands in 1566, Kathleen Morgan breathes new life into a well worn tale of murder, amnesia and misunderstanding with appealing characters and detailed descriptions of the fascinating culture and scenery of Scotland. While the storyline is predictable, the writing is strong and will appeal to those seeking a gentle romance and a reminder of God's love and guidance in times of hardship and loss.
Chris Well has provided another genre for the ever burgeoning Christian market by writing a feisty crime novel, complete with quirky characters, great dialogue and the detestable Evelyn Blake.
The sequel to Forgiving Solomon Long continues the story of Detectives Tom Griggs and Charlie Pasch as they focus on the mysterious disappearance of Evelyn Blake's billionaire husband. At the same time an anonyomous employee of Blake Media is posting tell all blogs regarding the erratic and dictatorial Evelyn and a religious con artist is cooking up a scheme to line his pockets with contributions from the faithful.
The merging of these storylines is a crime reader's delight - surprising, satisfying and humourous! Chris Well's Griggs and Pasch are earthy, appealing and deserving of more criminal hijinks in the future!
Debra White Smith continues her series of contemporary retellings of Jane Austen novels with a fresh look at Persuasion. Possibilities tells the story of wealthy Allie who regrets her decision of a decade past to reject the proposal of the family's yardman Frederick Wently on the basis of social prejudice.
Frederick reenters Allie's life after sacrificial service in the war in Afghanistan as a pilot. Allie's family fortunes have waned due to the indulgent lifestyle sought by her father and sisters and Frederick harbours bitterness stemming from Allie's rejection of him in the past. Both Frederick and Allie must search their hearts to determine if forgiveness and acceptance will take precendence over heartache and disdain.
While traditional fans of Jane Austen's work may balk at reading such a book, Ms Smith will no doubt convert many with her emphasis on looking at the heart and rising above inane social restrictions that continue to influence us today.
Sally John has penned another novel with a poignant and challenging message. Kenzie's father, Drake Starr, is the pastor of an expanding church, her mother, Susan, the epitome of a submissive wife. Kenzie's announcement of her pregnancy to Adrian Carlucci, despite their unwed state, shatters the Starrs' world with Drake shunning Kenzie and demanding Susan do likewise.
With the encouragement of some precious friends, Susan embarks on a journey of self discovery risking all she has held dear in an effort to find her true self and reconnect with her unforgiving husband and defiant daughter.
This book is beautifully written, tackling the hard issues with sensitivity and integrity. The author contrasts the different attitudes of the Starr and Carlucci parents to a situation neither family condones, showing the results of both compassion and unforgiveness. The characters are appealing and their struggles real giving the reader plenty to ponder long after the last page is read. This series keeps getting better!
Trish Perry has written a delightful, contemporary story about life, love and trying to do it right!
Kara has sworn off dating after her last relationship went south when her boyfriend's true colours were revealed. Gabe is making a fresh start with a new city and business venture. Their humourous first encounter is filled with embarrassment and attraction and you can't wait to see where it will lead. Gabe is intrigued by Kara and her dating philosophy. Kara is regretting her philosophy as soon as she claps eyes on Gabe!
A road trip with three wayward teenagers, a forgetful geriatric and a woman on the prowl make for a laugh out loud read! The book is full of the fun, excitement and challenges which face those in the dating game and provides a refreshing look at an alternative approach. Gabe is perhaps a little too perfect but who can resist such a guy! Kara is genuine and lots of fun and the minor characters delightfully portrayed. Can't wait for the next book!
Susan Meissner has written an intriguing and inspiring story that was impossible to put down. Alexa Poole has spent a good part of her life finding meaning in supporting her older sister, Rebecca who has an aquired brain injury, resulting from a car accident.
The Poole family has been torn apart following the accident, emotionally and physically, dividing the family. When Rebecca goes missing from her residential centre, Alexa's search for her uncovers more than she ever imagined of past hurts, personal frailty and rediscovered hope. As the mystery of Rebecca's disappearance unfolds so does Alexa's budding relationship with Stephen, a man whose life expresses the healing power of hope.
This is a beautiful story, reminding us that a glimpse of hope and the generosity of forgiveness can bring joy to many a shattered heart.
Allison Pittman's debut novel TEN THOUSAND CHARMS tells an old tale but she infuses it with joy, hope and the power of God's forgiveness.
Penniless and awaiting the birth of her first child, Gloria seeks refuge with an old friend, Jewell, the proprietor of a fancy house in Wyoming Territory. Jewell takes pity on Gloria and allows her to stay in a small cottage, where she brings a son into the world, and befriends Jewell's girls and hears their own stories of heartache.
Nearby, John William McGregan mourns the loss of his devout wife and despairs about how to care for his baby daughter. Despite his revulsion at Gloria's prior lifestyle, John William asks her to nurse his daughter and in return, he agrees to be a father to her son, knowing Gloria's intention to leave both babies with him once they are weaned. Together the four travel to the Oregon Territory and give the appearance of being a family. Gloria is puzzled by John William's faith and confused by an attraction for which she feels unworthy. There they meet Maureen, a widow, who offers them a home in return for companionship and farm work, all the while expressing the love and forgiveness of God. When John William's life is again shattered by tragedy, Gloria's fledging faith is damaged in the face of his anger at God. This story is beautifully crafted and the characters are portrayed in a sensitive and realistic way.
Allison Pittman acknowledges the heartaches and tragedies in life which leave us bruised and broken; yet she also shows that God's forgiveness encompasses all our bad choices and offers the chance of new life.
Not many authors can strike the balance between a gritty tale of suspense with sensitive and interesting character development. Brandt Dodson has succeeded in both!
Colton Parker has become a private investigator after losing his job with the FBI in controversial circumstances. Recently widowed and attempting, with little success, to reconnect with his troubled teenage daughter, he struggles with his own sense of loss and guilt.
This sequel to Original Sin delves more deeply into the struggles of this flawed and thoroughly likeable man. As he deals with his personal issues, Colton must also solve the mystery of the disappearance of Claudia Cheek, wife of his client, Lester, a man with wealth but few friends and many more enemies. Hostile police officers, reluctant witnesses and a paid assassin make for a great read and leave you highly anticipating the third book in this great series. "
Siri Mitchell has crafted another beautiful story, as unique as it is
thoughtprovoking , interspersed with humour, delightful characters and the anticipation and heartache that characterises an attraction between and man and a woman.
Jackie Pert Harrision, a civilian working at the US Air Force Academy, has created a life for herself which is predictable and safe, protecting her emotions from the hurt of her mother's desertion. Jackie's security is disrupted when her office is divided forcing her to share with Lt. Col. Joseph Gallagher, a new Academy lecturer. In order to vent her frustrations with this new situation Jackie begins an anonymous blog and is surprised at the interest it creates among readers. As Jackie begins to experience conflicting feelings for Joe, her blog becomes the only way she can express the joy, fear and confusion he has caused. When she discovers Joe has been reading the blog she is terrified he will discover her true identity and all she has fought to hide will be laid bare.
Siri Mitchell's characterization is superb! You will easily relate to Jackie and the supporting characters as realistic people who could live next door. Even Joe's initial "perfectness" is tempered as more of his history unfolds. Written in the first person, you will literally laugh and cry with Jackie, her heartache palpable to the point of agony at times but I guarantee it is well worth the ride. Excerpts of Jackie's blog and other bloggers' responses make a fascinating end to each chapter. As with Siri's other books, the message behind Jackie's journey of discovery will stay with you long after the last page is read."
4 1/2 stars
The release of Angela Hunt's latest Biblical novel, Magdalene, is more than timely as the allegations concerning Miryam (Mary) Magdalene's relationship to Jesus as proposed by Dan Brown's, The DaVinci Code has confused and misirected many people. Angela Hunt has previously authored some exceptional novels surrounding the Biblical accounts of Joseph and his brothers and with Magdalene she has again triumphed by bringing Mary's story to life with thorough research and sensitive extrapolation.
The opening chapter finds Miryam in Rome, preparing to tell her life story to her judge, Flavius Gemellus, a requirement imposed on all prisoners facing execution for crimes against the Roman empire. Also present is centurian Atticus Aurelius, who spent many years as a soldier in Judea and whose life is inexplicably entwined with Miryam's although he is initially unaware of her identity. As the story unfolds we see Miryam's life in Magdala is prosperous and she shares it with her husband and two sons until her eldest, Avram, foolishly offends a Roman soldier with devastating results. Miryam's spiralling grief and heartache is chillingly told as she eventually succumbs to madness due to her overwhelming hatred of all things Roman and the desperation in her heart.
True to the Biblical account, Miryam meets Yeshua (Jesus)and is delivered of the demons possessing her, enabling her to be restored to the community and she chooses to follow Yeshua and his disciples. However, Miryam will not let go of the simmering anger against those who have wronged her and it boils over after Yeshua is crucified, as her dreams of him conquering the Roman foe in battle are destroyed. Despite her knowledge of his miraculous resurrection, Miryam embarks on a dangerous and misguided plan in the hope of finding justice by her own hand.
Angela Hunt has used the first person narrative to tell Miryam's story, with Atticus Aurelius's point of view interspersed throughout which assists in the reader's understanding of people and events. Ms Hunt sensitively uses Jesus' own words from the Bible as much as possible and her bibliography displays extensive research to ensure actual historical people and events are accurately portrayed. This book provides a solid Biblical basis on which to consider the life of Miryam, the extraordinary compassion and sacrifice of Jesus Christ and God's plan for us all to be forgiven and restored to Him.
ALLAH’S FIRE transports you to Panama City, Abidjan in the Ivory Coast, and Beirut, Lebanon – all in the first three chapters! This military suspense novel has something for everyone. Non-fiction author and first time novelist, Chuck Holton teams with prolific author, Gayle Roper to write an enthralling story of an Explosives Ordnance Disposal Unit (headed by Master Sergeant John Cooper) which travels the globe defusing explosives used in warfare.
In the first of a three-book series, John Cooper's EOD team is sent to Beirut after tragedy strikes their unit in the form of an unknown and deadly explosive device, following an otherwise successful mission. A suicide bomber devastates a hotel in the heart of Beirut utilising the same device and a new terrorist organisation, Ansar Inshallah, is implicated. At a function at the hotel with her Arabic husband, American Julie Assan disappears and her journalist sister, Liz Fairchild begins her own mission to locate her sister.
Familiar with Beirut having spent her childhood there, Liz is on assignment, investigating the condition of Palestinian women in the Sainiq Refugee Camp on the outskirts of Beirut. With her sister's disappearance she returns to the camp in search of clues, and instead finds death and terror. The storylines converge and John and Liz clash over his need to maintain the tenuous military and political stability in Lebanon, and Liz’s desire to launch a rescue mission for Julie in the hope she is still alive.
While initially the writing style is erratic as the location and characters change with each chapter, once that distraction is overcome readers can settle in and enjoy this intense and exciting ride. The military and weapons information is detailed and authentic, with Chuck Holton previously serving as an Airbourne Ranger for the United States Army and flying helicopters for the National Guard prior to commencing his writing career. The relationship between John and Liz is well developed, yet does not overpower the suspense and action of the story.
The remaining books will be written solely by Chuck Holton and the first sequel, to be released early in 2007, will revolve around Staff Sergeant "Rip" Rubio, a member of John's EOD team.
Siri Mitchell's character driven book tantalises the senses and challenges the mind with a beautiful portrayal of a women given a second chance at life and love in the picturesque north of France.
Frederique Farmer finds herself suddenly widowed while residing in Paris and in a desperate attempt to reinvent herself buys Chateau de Kertanuan, a fifteenth century castle in Brittany, which she painstakingly restores. She establishes an exclusive Bed and Breakfast, revelling in her newfound mastery as a cook of french cuisine and reclusive lifestyle. During the restoration process Freddie discovers a medieval chest containing journals written from 1459 to 1462 by a young woman, Alix de Montot, a former comtesse of the castle, which attracts the attention of celebrity author, Robert Cranwell. Cranwell wishes to write a book regarding the life of the comtesse while residing in the castle where she lived centuries before. Freddie has carefully constructed walls around her heart and despite fearing the intrusion of Cranwell and disbelieving the rumours of his recent conversion, agrees to a six month stay.
Freddie and Cranwell slowly become acquainted simply by their proximity but the relationship is hindered by Freddie's prejudiced view of his character and Cranwell's struggle to break free from his past self-indulgent lifestyle. A centuries old mystery surfaces and intrigue soon envelopes them as unexplained happenings and deliberate sabotage affect the Chateau, their fledgling relationship and faith journey.
The author lived in France for many years and her knowledge of the culture and cuisine give the book authenticity and fascinating detail. The excerpts of Alix's journal throughout the book are both enlightening and charming, giving the story a unique feel