Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Reluctant Entertainer Review

Book: The Reluctant Entertainer
Author: Sandy Coughlin
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0750-1
Genre: Women, self help

I recently read The Reluctant Entertainer and was very impressed.  First impression: it was very well presented. The book has sections in which Sandy talks about her experiences with entertaining and how we need to change our mindset towards hospitality. It is broken up with recipes at the bottom and full of practical tips along the way. If you struggle with being reserved or afraid to entertain, this book will set you free.

What I loved about this book: No pressure! In fact, Sandy states that "One of the main reasons we remain reluctant and isolated is that we have bought in to the thinking that perfection is required in order to be hospitable" (pp.1). I loved the way it was presented, how it was broken up with recipes. And I LOVED how it was full of practical, useable ideas to make entertaining a more "entertaining" idea :)

What I didn't like about this book: There is very little in this category. If I could come up with any criticism I suppose it would be that most of the recipes are a little complicated for me. In a way, this is nice because it means that you will be able to create that perfect, unique masterpiece for your guests. But on the other hand, if entertaining is already a challenge for you, trying to create something complicated will only add more stress to the situation. I believe that it is possible to just throw together a chicken and rice casserole and make your guests feel like the king of the castle.

Who this book is good for: This book is good for ANY woman! Especially good for a wedding gift or new mom. Anyone who is new to the world of entertaining and really any woman who has been doing it for years. We don't ask people over because we are afraid of judgement, however we miss out on so many friendships and blessings along the way. If you struggle with insecurity in the area of entertaining or just want to check out some great recipes, than get this book: you won't be disappointed.

For more information on the book, The Reluctant Entertainer, or to purchase your favorite Christian fiction, check out

**I received a complimentary copy of this book through Bethany House

Touching the Clouds Review

Book: Touching the Clouds
Author: Bonnie Leon
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3359-9
Genre: Historical Romance

I recently received Touching the Clouds by Bonnie Leon through Baker Publishing Group. My first impression was positive. Although it was a dreaded "historical romance" it had very little cliche about it. Bonnie's characters were believable and interesting and the storyline was intriguing. Other than one or two small references to the depression and the sexist culture, the book could have easily been in the present day.

The storyline: This is the story of "Fearless Kate". A pilot since she was little Kate is running away to the great north of Alaska to find adventure and escape her past. Once there she discovers that the glamorous stories she heard of life as a bush pilot are exaggerated. It is dangerous territory, fraught with winds, storms, and deadly winters. However, Kate also finds love and friendship. She finds a sense of community she has never felt elsewhere. And she finds the adventure her heart so desperately seeks. Will she be able to escape her past or must she face it before it threatens to destroy her?

What I liked about this book: My favorite part of this book was the timeline. For once, romance and love took longer than 5 minutes to develop! Bonnie portrays the story over a year of more and because of that when Kate finds love in the end, it is not so unrealistic. The story is interesting, the romance is satisfying, and the characters are believable.

What I didn't like about this book: All right, any good romance has some cliche right? Kate is the typical damsel in the distress. She is just the one who doesn't know it yet! She is cliche. She is stubborn and headstrong, always getting herself into trouble that warrant a rescue, or some man to look out for her. At the same time, none of the situations are unbelievable and she doesn't swoon at them, so they aren't quite so sickening as some :)

Who this book is good for: I really enjoyed this book. It is a great book for a rainy day. It is not a thriller or suspense, you can put it down and read it when you have the time. Most women would most likely enjoy this book. It is an easy read but not too short. Overall, very satisfying.

For more information on the book, Touching the Clouds, or to purchase your favorite Christian fiction, check out

**I received a complimentary copy of this book through Baker Publishing Group

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Masquerade Review

Book: Masquerade
Author: Nancy Moser
Publisher: Bethany House
Genre: Historical Fiction
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0751-8

Masquerade by Nancy Moser is a mixture of interesting and cliche. In a literary world where romance takes the blue ribbon, competition is fierce and creating something original is nearly impossible. That being said, I am generally tougher on romance because of that. Don't write it if you can't make it unique, no one will remember it if it is not set apart... different. Masquerade is a good book,  interesting, good character development, a nice plot. But it is just that, nice. It is not set apart and because of that it will go on my bookshelf as yet another book I will soon forget.

The storyline: The story focuses on Charlotte Gleason and her maid Dora. Charlotte, a woman of standing in England is being sent to marry a man she has never met. Determined to make a new life for herself and not follow the arranged marriage that made her mother miserable, Charlotte swaps identities with her maid, Dora. Will their decent catch up with them on their journeys to find true love and happiness?

What I liked about this book: I enjoyed the story. It was well written and informative. I felt bad for the thousands of immigrants who came to America to find a better life and discovered just how difficult that would prove to be.

What I didn't like about this book: As I said before, it is not memorable. I found Lottie's (Charlotte) character to be naive and unrealistic. At the same time, I suppose if a young girl were living in those times, surrounded by servants and wealth, perhaps this wouldn't be so far from the truth. Nevertheless, it annoyed me and I found it very difficult to associate with her character.

Who this book is good for: If you like historical fiction and enjoy romance novels, there is no doubt you will enjoy this book. However be prepared that its lack of substance will perhaps leave you unsatisfied.

For more information on the book, Masquerade, or to purchase your favorite Christian fiction, check out

**I received this complimentary book through Baker Publishing Group

The Constantine Conspiracy Review

Book: The Constantine Conspiracy
Author: Gary E. Parker
Publisher: Revell
Genre: Fiction-suspense
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3327-8

I recently received The Constantine Conspiracy by Gary E. Parker and couldn't put it down. It was refreshing to get out of the cliche romance novels for a bit and experience something with a bit of suspense and action. This book isn't as intense as some suspense novels that I have read, but it keeps you guessing and the plot is full of twists and turns to captivate its reader.

The Storyline: The story begins with Rick Carson, a man from one of the richest families in the world. His life is comfortable and exciting. He lacks for nothing and everything is going his way. However, when a disturbing murder invades his comfortable home, Rick's sense of security is shaken. Shannon Bridge, a simple park ranger, is the first responder to the murder scene and Rick senses there is more to her than meets the eye. When circumstances continually push Shannon and Rick together, Rick is forced to trust her despite the many secrets that cloak her identity. As they run from police, a dangerous assassin, and try to solve the mysterious murder, Rick and Shannon form a bond of trust and understanding.

What I liked about this book: I love a good thriller, and this one was no disappointment. Interesting, fast-paced, and unique, this has all the makings of a great story! My favorite aspect of the book was probably the assassin, of all people! I don't know if I have ever read a character quite so interesting. Nolan was a mixture of a well-mannered, disturbed, and yet civilized character. I found him intriguing and his character development was impeccable. He was definitely not your typical "bad guy" and I appreciated Gary's ability to make him unique and different. He is a character to be remembered.

What I didn't like about this book: There isn't much to say here. I found the end action scene to be a little bit corny and yet I don't think there was a way around it. It was just straight action for over a paragraph. I guess I felt it would have been stronger if it hadn't been as long-drawn out.

Who this book is good for: ANYONE! Really, this is a great gift for man or woman alike. It is a fantastic book for a rainy day or vacation. My only recommendation is to make sure you actually have the time to sit down and read it, because this is one book you won't want to put down!

For more information on the book, The Constantine Conspiracy, or to purchase your favorite Christian fiction, check out

**I received a complimentary copy of this book through Baker Publishing Group

Friday, August 13, 2010

David and Goliath Review

Book: David and Goliath
Author: Bryan Hathaway
Publisher: WinePress Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-60615-015-3
Genre: Religious Fiction

I recently received David and Goliath by Bryan Hathaway. This book was definitely not what I expected. I am not sure what I expected, but this fell far from the tree. If you were addicted to Touched by an Angel, then this book is for you. For the rest of us, the stories were short and sweet and corny and theologically incorrect. I suppose after realizing that this book is not targeted as "Christian" but rather religious, I have a little bit more grace. However, it follows the Christian beliefs so closely that the few errors really caused me to pause and I think could truly lead someone astray. Because of this, I strongly disagree with this book not because of its stories or the way it was written but rather its entire philosophy.

The Storyline: The story is about David Liberty, an old man who is unable to move or speak. His body has failed him and he just wants to die in peace. When an angel, Joelle, comes to see him and offers him a second chance at salvation, David takes her up on her offer. He is put into a coma in his old body and awakens in a new one where he has a mission to help various people along the way.

What I liked about this book: I did enjoy the stories. It was well written and interesting. One of those inspirational pick-me-ups that leaves you with a good feeling after it is all said and done.

What I didn't like about this book: The first thing that threw me off in the book was the general idea behind David's "commission" if you will. David followed God and yet he made some mistakes in his life. He divorced his wife and slowly cut himself off from his family in depression and disappointment. Joelle tells him that he has failed God, however God is willing to give him one more chance to gain his salvation. The whole theology behind this is wrong, wrong, wrong. There is nothing we can do to earn our salvation. And although David argues this point, Joelle tells him not to question God's ways. The second issue of contention for me is on page 196, "Scripture also tells us that if two of you agree about anything for which you pray, it shall be granted by God." This is completely incorrect. Scripture tells us that if two or more of us gather in His name He will be there with us, not grant us our wishes like a genie. Basically, the whole philosophy of the book is that through doing things we can gain our salvation, that faith without works is dead. Which I understand to a point, I mean, it is in the bible. But works alone cannot GAIN salvation or redemption.

Who this book is good for: As I said before, if you enjoy inspirational stories, you might enjoy this book. However I am hesitant to suggest it to anyone as I believe it could really confuse someone in their faith or in their ideas about Christianity. Therefore, I will not be putting a link to purchase this book as I feel very strongly about this.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Back On Murder Review

Book: Back on Murder
Author: J. Mark Bertrand
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0637-5
Genre: FICT Suspense

Back on Murder is a book that will keep you guessing. As with any mystery novel, the key is to never be predictable. And the more books that are written, the harder it is to be original. I found this book to be a mix of originality and "been there done that". It was a little hard to get into at first, definitely not a book that has it's hooks in you from the very beginning. But overall, I was impressed with the storyline.

The storyline: The story begins with Roland March, an out-of-favor homicide detective. After a life-altering event (to which the book refers but keeps you guessing until the end), Roland was never the same as a detective. He slowly fell from the top to the very bottom and is now verging on the precipice of unwanted. A simple discovery makes him realize that he loves his job and he is given one last chance to save his career. Gambling on hunches and instinct, Roland steps out on a limb and follows a lead that no one else believes in. "Battling a new partner, an old nemesis, and the demons of his past, getting to the truth could cost March everything. Even his life."

What I liked about this book: I enjoyed the overall storyline of this book. Despite the slow tempo, it was interesting and provocative. I appreciated the relationship as portrayed between Roland and his wife. Although it depicts problems between them, their marriage remains strong. I enjoyed the mystery and sense of reality that came with it. It is obvious that Bertrand is familiar with the mechanics of the homicide department and this gave the book an essence of truth.

What I didn't like about this book: If Bertrand could have increased the tempo and made this book more suspenseful, it would be far superior. I thought it didn't really succeed in being a suspense. There was mystery to it as Roland searched to solve his case, however there was not really an element of nail-biting suspense. I thought Roland's character could have been developed a bit more. I believe the intention of leaving his story a secret until the end was meant to draw the reader in, however it had nearly the opposite effect. Too much mystery makes a story boring and I found it hard to relate to and understand Roland until the end.

Who this book is good for: Anyone who enjoys a good book really. This book is a great gift for man or woman alike. It is a fantastic read for any day and the slower tempo makes it possible to put it down and save it for another time. I appreciate that aspect as a mother who rarely has time to read as I was drawn to it but not controlled by it :)

For more information on the book, Back on Murder, or to purchase your favorite Christian fiction, check out

**This book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc
Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group