Monday, January 21, 2008

Return to Me by Robin Lee Hatcher

Most of us know the familiar Bible story of the prodigal son. In Return to Me, Hatcher tells the story again but with a bit of a twist... the prodigal son is a daughter. Roxy Burke is determined to leave her home and its rules and the boring life there. She is headed to Nashville to become a star and she won't come back until she succeeds!

Strong words.... words that come back to haunt Roxy as she returns home seven years later with no success, no money, desperate and ashamed. Will her family take her back? Will they close the door and refuse to see her? Roxy has no idea what lies ahead, but it has to be better than what lies behind.

Jonathan Burke has prayed fervently for his younger daughter for 7 years and God has heard those prayers. He is overjoyed to see Roxy, despite her haggard appearance. She is alive and she is home. But Roxy's sister, Elena, is not so happy. Yes, she is thrilled to know Roxy is alive but her return home causes Elena to have thoughts and feelings she would rather keep buried.

As each member of the Burke family works through this new season in life, they each face a crisis of faith and a turning point in their walk.... and each learns a valuable lesson concerning God's amazing grace.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sabrina - by Lori Wick

Sabrina is book two of Lori's Big Sky Dreams series. Book one is Cassidy (great book!). I am a bit biased when is comes to Lori Wick's writings. Her novel, Sophie's Heart, was my first step into Christian fiction. I thoroughly enjoyed that book and scoured the library shelves for any other Wick books they had. I cannot think of any book of hers I have read that I did not enjoy.

Sabrina is a wonderfully moving story that illustrates 2 Cor. 5:17 beautifully..... "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"

Bri Matthews is miserable. She feels trapped in a life of prostitution with no where to turn and no one to help. Then a strange thing happens. A man is murdered and Bri is taken away by a police officer. Certain that her life is taken a turn for the worse, Bri is resigned to what lies ahead. What she doesn't know is that Danny Barshaw and his wife, Callie, have a special calling on their lives... and they are about to share it with Bri.

Through their kindness and love Sabrina is able to walk away from the life she detests and to find new life in Christ. Sadly, her old life doesn't want to walk away from her. Men from her past come looking for her... unwilling to accept her change. Bri must leave Denver, the only home she has ever known, her new church family and most of all Callie and Danny, but where will she go? Danny suggests Token Creek in Montana territory. He knows of the church there and feels she will be safe and welcome.

Once there, Bri finds employment, a place to live, a church home, new friends and a special calling on her life. She is draw to the women of the night in Token Creek. Understanding their plight better than most, she reaches out to them.... aching for them to know the freedom they can have in Jesus.... an along the way she finds an unexpected ally. As friendship turns to love, Sabrina fears the secrets of her past may rise up and cause her to once again have to leave a place she now calls home.

If you haven't read book 1 in this series (Cassidy), please do! There is much started in that book and continued in this one.

I am looking forward to book 3...


Friday, January 18, 2008

The Parting by Beverly Lewis

Beverly Lewis is an author who rarely disappoints me and she certainly didn't with her latest book. The Parting is book 1 of Lewis' new series - The Courtship of Nellie Fisher. As is often the case, this story is set among the Amish. Nellie Fisher is a young girl with mixed emotions... sadness as she continues to grieve over the death of her younger sister, Suzy, and anticipation as she finds herself drawn to Caleb Yoder and he to her. How can her heart be happy and sad at the same time.... and confused? Are the rumors about Suzy true? Was she too much of the world and is she now in a dark place because she died before making her vow with the church?

Nellie isn't the only one pondering Suzy's fate.... her mother Betsy functions daily as her heart aches at the loss of child.. and her father takes a chance to seek answers by searching into the Scriptures.. into areas his faith forbids him to go. But there he finds his answers... his peace... and he is unable to contain his joy.

And so the struggle begins between tradition and grace... families are torn apart... friendships destroyed... the promise of love endangered... and Nellie learns that she may have to forsake more than she imaged for her new found faith.

Mum's the Word by Kate Collins

I read what I thought was book 1 of the Flower Shop Mysteries a few weeks ago.. Slay It With Flowers. When you go to Kate Collins site and look at her list of books in this series, Slay It is first in line followed by Mum's the Word. Well either the site has them reversed or she decided to write a prequel... I am betting she didn't write a prequel! LOL!

SO if you decide to read this series.. which I highly recommend!.. start with Mum's the Word first and then Slay It With Flowers.

In Mum's, we meet law school drop out Abby Knight and her vintage banana colored Corvette. Abby has recently purchased Bloomers a struggling flower shop. Abby loves anything with leaves and she loves to meddle.. it is in her blood! No matter what her co-workers, Grace and Lottie, think she truly can't help herself. But someone has to... enter Marco DeSalvo... former P.I. now the proud owner of Down the Hatch Bar and Grill.

The mysteries in this series aren't mind boggling... most amateur sleuths can figure them out before the end of the book, but the journey is worth it. These books are more about characters than plot and they are certainly full of them.. characters that is!

I have been able to find these at my local library (number 3 is in my to-read pile... Dearly Depotted), so you might want to look at your own local library for this playful series.


When Christmas Comes by Debbie Macomber

I absolutely loved this book! It is a delightful story of mishaps... miscommunications... and how it all works out for good in the end. My one bit of disappointment is that Macomber's books are secular and the storyline in this one could so easily convey the truth of Romans 8:28.

I must add that while secular, Macomber's books are basically clean. There is an occasional "mild" word and she hints at intimacy, but no sex scenes and no vulgarity.

If you have seen and enjoyed the movie, Holiday, with Cameron Diaz, Jude Law, Jack Black and Kate Winslet, then you will like this story. It is very similar.
Emily Springer lives in Santa's Village.. ok that isn't the name of her hometown, but it should be! Christmas is big business in Leavenworth, Washington. So she surprises herself by going to Boston for the holidays to be with her daughter.
Charles Brewster hates Christmas and wants to be as far away from his mother and her matchmaking schemes as possible. In a rash moment, he finds an online site where people swap homes for the holidays and before he knows it he has agree to move to Leavenworth for the holidays while Emily lives in his condo. Problem is, Charles forgets that Leavenworth Prison is in Kansas.. so instead of the quite dull town he expects, this self-professed Scrooge finds himself right in the middle of Christmasland!

But the fun doesn't start there. Charles' brother shows up in Boston at Charles' condo to find an unknown woman there... Emily's daughter has gone out of town for the holidays with her new boyfriend, Emily's friend Faith fills sorry that Emily is alone at Christmas (she has no idea Emily went to Boston), so she flies to Leavenworth to spend the holidays with her only to find the Grinch has come to town! Loads of fun and hilarity ensue.. and of course romance blossoms.

This book is soo fun and soo cute... a really great pick-me-up read!


Christmas Mommy byTerry Fowler

This was a fun book to read over the holidays. It is one of the HeartSong Presents books. Some folks ignore them because they are small and remind them of cheap romance novels, but these books often pack a wallop. And the neat thing is a lot of the Christian artist who now have "real" novels started out writing HeartSongs.... Tracie Peterson comes to mind. I first read here 10 or more years ago through HeartSongs Presents! So don't sell these little books short!

Christmas Mommy is an adventure... not a typical adventure like mountain climbing or white water rafting, but for Julie Dennis just as harrowing! Julie is a wealthy career woman who has been tossed into the midst of motherhood for 2 weeks. Her brother and his wife have been given a well deserved trip, but someone has to take care of their 5 small children and Julie is elected. So off to a strange town on the other side of the US she goes.

Noah Loughlin is the associate pastor at Julie's brother's church and Julie's possible ex-boyfriend. Possible because they have each misinterpreted their relationship and don't really know where they stand now, but Noah's is determined to find out. He makes a point to help Julie as much as he can in order to spend time with her.... and precious little time it is.

Noah has 14 days to win Julie's heart back and convince her that God will make a way for the two of them and their dreams.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The Final Yada Yada book.....

Sigh.... the Yada Yada Prayer Group series by Neta Jackson has come to an end with the final book.... the Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Decked Out.
I absolutely LOVED this book.... as I have all the Yada Yada books! While I know this is the final book in the series, it doesn't feel like an ending. In fact, the book ends with many new beginnings... and so the Yadas will live on in my mind and heart. I suspect I will even imagine them doing various thing over the years to come! LOL!
Jackson does have a new series coming out in 2009 and she promises that we will see various Yada Yadas pop up now and then.
There is no way to share about this book without giving away all that happens.... it is one you definitely need to read yourself.. AND you must read them all in order... please! It is a series worth your time.
I know this will sound strange, but as fun as these books are they are also full of lessons. I have learned so much about the true body of Christ.... about friendships... accountability.... acceptance... and prayer! WOW! I love the way the characters in these books pray!
In Decked Out we get to celebrate birth... Christmas... a wedding.... a new year.... sisterhood... new seasons of life.... and so much more!

Slay It With Flowers by Kate Collins

I stumbled across this one on Paperback Swap. I was browsing around and this name caught my attention. I love word play!
This is book 1 of the Flower Shop Mysteries... a series of secular mysteries.
I enjoyed this book thoroughly and look forward to reading the others in the series.
Abby Knight enjoys driving her vintage yellow 'Vette, working in her flower shop (Bloomers) and meddling! Her friends have tried to reform her, but they have given up. Abby is a meddler at heart and will be until the day she dies. Which could be sooner than later if she isn't careful!
Slay It With Flowers mixes together an upcoming wedding (not Abby's).... a budding romance.... a missing groomsman... a dead groomsman (not the same as the missing one!)...mysterious happenings at the new "massage" parlor... Chinese ladies sneaking in and out of the parlor and a local restaurant... odd sculpted creations by Abby's mother... and a hunky bar owner determined to keep Abby close.
This is a fun to read mystery that doesn't tax your brain, but does tickle your funny bone and warm your heart.

The Great House of God by Max Lucado

I am not a huge fan of Lucado, as many are, but I truly enjoyed this book and learned a lot from it. This is an older Lucado book, written in 1997. The basis of The Great House of God is the Lord's prayer. Max takes the prayer apart assigning each part as a room in a house. As we wander through each room, we see how God has created a home for our heart and meets all our needs as we pray His model prayer.

If you want to take your prayer time to a new level, this is a great place to start. I do recommend that you work through the study questions and activities in the back of the book. They add so much! There are questions of introspection, questions that basically review what you have read, digging into the scripture to go deeper and some practical application.

This would be an easy book to read hurriedly, but don't do that. Take your time. Work through a chapter at a time... reading... praying... doing the study portion... let God speak to your heart as you learn more about communicating with Him.

Christmas Wishes by Debbie Macomber

I love to read Christmas stories during the holidays and I have become a big fan of secular author, Debbie Macomber. Her books are light hearted and fun... and often funny! Christmas Wishes contains two stories -- Christmas Letters and Rainy Day Kisses.
Christmas Letters is a hoot! Katherine O'Connor has a problem. Her sister and brother-in-law have fallen under the spell of child psychologist and author Wynn Jeffries, who has written a book called The Free Child. Dr. Jeffries theories have turned K.O.'s once sweet twin nieces into living terrors! K.O. wants to find Dr. Jeffries and give him a piece of her frazzled mind.
And then it happens, she spots him walking in her neighborhood and she follows him only to find him entering her building! Further investigation reveals that he actually lives in her building and has for some time. How on earth did she miss that?
What begins as a confrontation turns into a humorous adventure as K.O. allows Dr. Whren to see his theories in action.. up close and personal.. and along the way they both learn a lot about snap judgments and love.
In Rainy Day Kisses, we get to step back a few years in time and listen as MichelleDavidson tells how she brought her career minded aunt, Susannah Simmons, together with her now husband, Nate Townsend.
Susannah has no desire to be a wife or mom. She is climbing the corporate ladder two rungs at a time! Her five year goals are right on track and she is ready to start working on her ten year ones. But all that changes when she hastely agrees to babysit her infant niece, Michelle. Susannah has no idea what to do, but her new neighbor, Nate, does... and he is more than willing to help.

The Heart's Forgiveness by Merrillee Whren

A sweet story about forgiveness (have you ever noticed that is a reoccurring theme in Christian fiction?) and beginning again... about opening up your heart to God's plans instead of holding on to your own.
Grady Reynolds' life isn't going as planned. He didn't plan to loose his wife and end up a single dad to two daughters... he didn't plan to have a surley teenager headed down the wrong path and a spoiled "baby" use to getting her way... and he didn't plan to lay eyes on Maria Sanchez again. As far as he was concerned, Maria and her church caused his wife's death and he wanted nothing to do with either!

But Grady needs a fresh start. He needs a safe place to raise his girls before he looses them. So when a position opens at a friend's charitable foundation, he takes it... even though he knows Maria works there and this will put him in close proximity with her. That's ok... he can handle it... but can his heart?