Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Book Review: The Justice Game by Randy Singer/5 Stars

About the book:

After the target of an investigative report storms a Virginia Beach television station, he kills one of the anchors before the SWAT team takes him down. Following the victim’s funeral, her family files a lawsuit against the gun company who manufactured the killer’s weapon of choice. The lawyers for the plaintiff and defendant—Kelly Starling and Jason Noble—are young, charismatic, and successful. They’re also easy blackmail targets, both harboring a personal secret so devastating it could destroy their careers. Millions of dollars—and more than a few lives—are at stake. But as Kelly and Jason battle each other, they discover that the real fight is with unseen forces intent on controlling them both.

My thoughts:

It is so enjoyable to read books that can be paralleled to real life. Not that reading books as a way of escaping real life is bad, but sometimes, it’s a big help to have things put in real-life perspective. Randy Singer’s newest book, The Justice Game, is such a book. He deals with an issue that I have never before read in any other Christian fiction book—guns. And I don’t mean, someone dies from a gunshot wound and that’s the only place the gun is mentioned. No, this book is all about the gun debate, and it looks at the whole picture.

I was not raised in a home with guns. My husband, on the other hand, was. Growing up, I had an irrational fear to guns simply because I had never been exposed to them. In the last couple of years, thanks to my husband’s patience and teaching, I’ve become more comfortable holding one and firing one. In spite of my personal history, I found myself going back and forth between sides throughout this book. It’s somewhat hard to explain that without giving away something crucial. Even though going after a gun company to seek restitution for a death caused by one of their guns sounds a little crazy, I have to admit that I probably would’ve thought to do something similar. But on the other hand, how in the world can a gun company be held responsible for people’s actions? Mr. Singer explores both possibilities, and he tells the story from both sides of the argument very well.

There is no doubt in my mind that I will be looking for more books by this talented author in the future. I will admit that it was a little slow through the first 100 pages or so, but hold on to your hats for everything else that follows. You will not be able to put this book down!

5 Stars

Southern? Yes
Sass?  No

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Book Review: This Side of Heaven by Karen Kingsbury/4 Stars

About the book:

Annie Warren always wanted the best for her son, Josh. But years of failure and bad choices created a heartbreaking distance that has grown far worse since the day Josh was hit by a drunk driver. Now on medical disability, Josh has put his life on hold for years, waiting for the insurance company to send a settlement that never seems to come. Worse, he believes the story of a scheming woman who claims they have a seven-year-old daughter named Savannah.

Despite the unlikelihood and complete lack of evidence, Josh dreams of being a father and is determined to one day claim the child. His family doesn't know the full story. They don't know what happened the night of the accident that was worth the chronic pain Josh suffers every waking minute, or that his is turning his life around. They haven't seen that Savannah's eyes are his, and they don't know how desperately the little girl needs her family.

When the settlement that rightly belongs to Josh is threatened, Annie sets out to defend her son. But she might find a treasure more valuable than money, one she never expected, one that is the greatest gift her son could ever give her...this side of heaven.

My thoughts:

I have very mixed feelings about this book. For one, I've grown a little weary of Karen Kingsbury's lack of new material. Everything she writes anymore seems to be identical. When she wrote the Redemption series with Gary Smalley, I was so impressed that I couldn't stop talking about her books to anyone and everyone. But since then (and I've read all but maybe 5 or 6 of her books), I just get bored. Where it used to only take me a couple of days to read one of her books (I won't leave a book unfinished), it now takes a week or more simply because I lose interest.

But on the other hand, God must have known that I needed to read this book right now. (Stop reading now if you don't want to read any spoilers.) Halfway through this book, the main character, Josh, dies. And it was just so unexpected that I was truly shocked that the story was about to take that turn. The strange thing is that I read that portion of the book a couple of days before my husband's family got a terrible phone call. It turned out that my husband's cousin, Justin, was killed in a car accident. Even more unusual was that Justin and his family had just been up to our town for a visit a week before his death. When I heard the news, all I could think of was that I'd just seen him. Even more heartbreaking is that he leaves behind a precious 5-week-old baby girl, Palyn. Personally, I didn't know him that well, and only got to see him a couple of times a year, but I knew him to be a sweet guy who cherished his family and would do anything he could to help you out.

After all this has happened, and while reading this book at the same time, I have not been able to get over how precious our lives are, and how much that I want to make of the time that I have left on this earth. God has not promised us tomorrow, and even though all of us won't have a "hero" label attached to us like Josh does in this book, we need to do our best to make sure that every day counts. I was so touched by the things that Josh did in this book, things that no one knew about until after his death. He was friends with a neighbor with Down Syndrome, and he bought groceries for an elderly neighbor who was homebound. Reading that just put the urge within me to find ways to make a difference for others. I don't know how I'll do it yet, or what I'll do, but I do know that I don't want to leave this world one day and have regrets.

4 Stars

Southern?  No
Sass?  No

Booking Through Thursday: Preferences

Booking Through Thursday is a weekly bookish meme held every Thursday. I've missed out on the last couple of weeks, so I'm jumping back in... This week’s question asks:

Which do you prefer? (Quick answers–we’ll do more detail at some later date)
  • Reading something frivolous? Or something serious?
  • Paperbacks? Or hardcovers?
  • Fiction? Or Nonfiction?
  • Poetry? Or Prose?
  • Biographies? Or Autobiographies?
  • History? Or Historical Fiction?
  • Series? Or Stand-alones?
  • Classics? Or best-sellers?
  • Lurid, fruity prose? Or straight-forward, basic prose?
  • Plots? Or Stream-of-Consciousness?
  • Long books? Or Short?
  • Illustrated? Or Non-illustrated?
  • Borrowed? Or Owned?
  • New? Or Used?
    (Yes, I know, some of these we’ve touched on before, and some of these we might address in-depth in the future, but for today–just quick answers!)
So, here are my answers.....
  • Reading something frivolous? Or something serious? A little of both
  • Paperbacks? Or hardcovers? I own more paperbacks than hardcovers, but it doesn't matter what they are when it comes to reading them.
  • Fiction? Or Nonfiction? fiction, all the way
  • Poetry? Or Prose? prose
  • Biographies? Or Autobiographies? don't read too many of either
  • History? Or Historical Fiction? historical fiction (quickly becoming my favorite genre)
  • Series? Or Stand-alones? both
  • Classics? Or best-sellers? best-sellers
  • Lurid, fruity prose? Or straight-forward, basic prose? straight-forward and basic
  • Plots? Or Stream-of-Consciousness? plots
  • Long books? Or Short? either
  • Illustrated? Or Non-illustrated? non-illustrated
  • Borrowed? Or Owned? I visit the library about as frequently as my own bookshelf, which is quite often.
  • New? Or Used? doesn't matter

Friday, July 10, 2009

Book Spotlight: Across the Wide River by Stephanie Reed

This week, the Christian Fiction Review Blog is featuring 2 books by Stephanie Reed--Across the Wide River and The Light Across the River. Today, I'll be giving you some info about the first book, Across the Wide River, as well as some info about the author.

About the book:

Freedom- Some take it for granted. Others consider it worth dying for. Lowry Rankin knows all too well the cost of freedom; after all, his family's red brick home is the first stop on the Underground Railroad north of the Ohio River. He's seen friends beaten for the color of their skin. He's watched simple farmers make a difference. He's even risked his own life transporting escaped slaves. But will Lowry be able to conquer his greatest fear when he's called to speak out?

'This novel captures the excitement of the period, its dangers and moral dilemmas. There is romance and adventure. And, essential to the traditions of the Rankin family, there is witness to the role of God in mankind's affairs, both great and small.' -James B. Powers a Rankin family descendant

'Across the Wide River plunges young readers into the life and death drama of the pre-Civil War Underground Railroad.' -Peter Marshall Author, The Light and the Glory and From Sea to Shining Sea

During her childhood, Stephanie Reed's family would often pass through Ripley on their way to her grandparents' home. The signs she read there about the Rankin house were what prompted her to write this story. After working for nearly a decade with the Dayton and Montgomery County Public Library, Stephanie is currently a volunteer spotter for the National Weather Service. She lives with her husband and two children in Dublin, Ohio.

Watch the book trailer
Visit Stephanie's Website
Purchase The Light Across the River at Barnes and Noble, Christianbook.com, and Amazon.
Check out these other member blogs this week for more info.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Booking Through Thursday: Unread

Here's this week's question:

“So here today I present to you an Unread Books Challenge. Give me the list or take a picture of all the books you have stacked on your bedside table, hidden under the bed or standing in your shelf – the books you have not read, but keep meaning to. The books that begin to weigh on your mind. The books that make you cover your ears in conversation and say, ‘No! Don’t give me another book to read! I can’t finish the ones I have!' "

Well, if I were to list all the books in my TBR pile, it'd take me a week to list them all, and months to read it all! (Not really...just joking.) My entire TBR pile has 1,262 books in it....hopefully, I can read all of those before I die! I do have a few that are stacked on my nightstand. Let's see if I can 'member them all:

Face of Betrayal by Lis Weihl
Boneman's Daughters by Ted Dekker
A Gathering of Finches by Jane Kirkpatrick
Drawing Marissa by Jessica Adriel (not physically on my nightstand but definitely a part of my current TBR)
Letter Perfect by Cathy Marie Hake
Your Chariot Awaits by Lorena McCourtney
The Road Winds On by Francena Arnold
Rich Like Them by Ryan D'Agostino

These are some of the ones I'm wanting to get tackled in the next few weeks. I'm anticipating some good readin'! :o)

Book Spotlight: A Gathering of Finches by Jane Kirkpatrick

Fiction lovers don’t need to budget to travel this summer with Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group’s eight full-length, historical novels by beloved Christian authors (WaterBrook, June 2, 2009). At the low cost of only $6.99, these well-read “get-aways” provide quality entertainment at a price that any reader can afford.

This week, Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group is featuring these eight books on various blogs, and I consider myself fortunate to feature two of these newly, re-released titles. The next book that I'll feature this week is A Gathering of Finches by Jane Kirkpatrick.

About the book:

Based on historical characters and events, A Gathering of Finches tells the story of a turn-of-the-century Oregon coastal couple and the consequences of their choices, as seen through the eyes of the wife, her sister, and her Indian maid. Along the way, the reader will discover reasons to trust that money and possessions can't buy happiness or forgiveness, nor permit us to escape the consequences of our choices. The story emphasizes the message that real meaning is found in the relationships we nurture and in living our lives in obedience to God.

My thoughts:

Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to get started on this one yet! Yikes! However, my appreciation for Jane Kirkpatrick's books has increased quite a bit lately. Earlier this year I read her entire Change and Cherish series, and was totally engrossed in each book. There's a great deal of research that goes into each one of her books since everything she writes is based on real events, and it just adds so much to each story. I vowed after reading All Together in One Place several years ago (which I didn't really like too much) that I wouldn't read Jane Kirkpatrick again, but I'm very glad that I've since given her another chance.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wondrous Words Wednesday

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by TheBermudaOnion where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading. Feel free to join in the fun....just click on the link at the beginning of this paragraph. I've been away from this meme for a couple of weeks, and I am so glad to be participating in it again. I wish I had more than 3 words, though...I can't seem to find the list of words that I'd been accumulating. :o(

fichu - n.
a woman's kerchief or shawl, generally triangular in shape, worn draped over the shoulders or around the neck with the ends drawn together on the breast.

surtout - n.
a man's close-fitting overcoat, esp. a frock coat.

fascinator - n.
a scarf of crochet work, lace, or the like, narrowing toward the ends, worn as a head covering by women.

(How very odd that all my words seem to be related to clothing!)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays are hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. The rules are pretty simple, if you decide you'd like to participate!

So, my teaser this week will be from page 43 of The Justice Game by Randy Singer. I plan to start on this one later on tonight, and I know it's gonna be fabulous! Watch for it to be released later on this month!

"As was his custom, Jason came bearing a large pizza--half meat-lovers and half cheese--an order of spicy chicken wings, bleu cheese, a six pack of beer and a bottle of Diet Coke. The beer, wings, and meat-lover side of the pizza were all for Lassiter, a string bean of a man whose metabolism was off the charts. Jason had never seen Lassiter exercise, but his brain cells alone probably burned more calories than most people entire bodies."

Also, be watching in the next few weeks for a review of this book here on my blog. :o)

Book Review: The Veil by Diane Noble/5 Stars

Fiction lovers don’t need to budget to travel this summer with Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group’s eight full-length, historical novels by beloved Christian authors (WaterBrook, June 2, 2009). At the low cost of only $6.99, these well-read “get-aways” provide quality entertainment at a price that any reader can afford.

This week, Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group is featuring these eight books on various blogs, and I consider myself fortunate to feature two of these newly, re-released titles. First up this week will be The Veil by Diane Noble.

About the book:

A shroud of secrecy cloaks a new nineteenth-century sect known simply as the Saints. But that veil is about to be drawn away. Amidst the majestic beauty of 1857 Utah, the members of one secluded religious group claim to want nothing more than to practice their beliefs without persecution. Yet among them are many who engage in secret vows and brutal acts of atonement…all in the name of God.

But one young woman, Hannah McClary, dares to question the truth behind the shroud. Soon Hannah and the young man she loves–Lucas Knight, who has been trained from childhood to kill on behalf of the Church–find themselves fighting for their very lives.

As a group of unwary pioneer families marches into Utah toward a tragic confrontation with the Saints at a place called Mountain Meadows, Hannah and Lucas are thrust into the most difficult conflict of all–a battle for truth and justice–even as they are learning for the first time about unconditional love, acceptance, and forgiveness.…

My thoughts:

Francine Rivers definitely got it right with her endorsement that's printed on the front of this book: "Prepare to burn the midnight oil." Just so you know...she was not kidding. I was awake past midnight the past 2 nights reading this fabulous book. :o) Even though I am a Christian, I am intrigued by the Mormon culture, and occasionally like to read something that gives me a better understanding of their history and lifestyle, and why they believe what they do.

While reading this book, I thought about what life must have been like back then. The events in the book take place just shortly before the Civil War, and it's just heartbreaking to think of how much killing took place back then. I don't understand how a society (the Mormons) could believe in blood atonement--a person giving up their own life to atone for their own personal sins to achieve a higher level of godhood when they make it to their own planet. There are some serious brainwashing issues there.

Of course, I don't even have to mention the obvious issues with some of the things that are the central basis of Mormon belief, although the multiple wives issue is no longer a part of the Mormon theology, just the FLDS (Fundementalist Church of Latter-Day Saints). There is one scene in the book where a wedding takes place, and the bride is given a new name just before the ceremony. When her groom leans to ask her new name, she gives it to him, and he explains to her that this new name will be hers after death when they get to their planet. She'll only be welcomed there once her groom calls her by her new name, not her old. The problem with this is the groom is the one who can get her into heaven (along with all his other wives), not God. More brainwashing issues....

The emotions in this book are all over the place, and I mean that in a good way. There were times when I was happy, sad, shocked, and in tears. I also loved that the story was told from both sides--the Mormons on one side, the people from the wagon train on the other--and even though I knew how things would play out, it helped to see everything from both sides. I couldn't help but grieve for both Ellie (from the wagon train) and Hannah (from the Mormon community)--Ellie because of the pregnancy that she had to live through while driving a rig across the country, and Hannah because of what she's forced into once she's an adult.

No doubt about it, this book will definitely be a keeper for me and loaned out many times, I'm sure! This is a 5-star book, hands down! (Now, must go and find out if Diane Noble has written anything else like this....)

5 Stars

Southern?  No
Sass?  No

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Booking Through Thursday: Celebrities

Thanks to Deb for hosting Booking Through Thursday every week!

Here's this week's question:

Do you read celebrity memoirs? Which ones have you read or do you want to read? Which nonexistent celebrity memoirs would you like to see?

I'm not much of a memoir reader, no matter if it's about a celebrity or a regular Joe. Probably the only book that would even remotely qualify as a "celebrity" memoir that I've read would be "My Sergei" by Ekaterina Gordeeva. That book was about her life as a pairs skater with her husband, Sergei Grinkov, who passed away about 10 years ago. The 2 of them were paired up as skating partners at a very young age, and what started out as just getting the job done on the ice one day blossomed into love. No doubt about it....this book will leave you in tears.

The only book that's out that I'm even remotely interested in reading in the future would be the newest book by Melissa Gilbert called Prairie Tale. I grew up watching Little House on the Prairie (have since purchased all the seasons on DVD), and I am just flat-out addicted to the show to this day. I read an excerpt online from the book, and just from that little snippet, I am very eager to read more. Just wanna wait until I can find it on sale somewhere.....$26 is a lot for a book, IMO, especially for someone who doesn't do memoirs. :)

What about you? Any celebrity memoir that you're interested in?