Archive for January, 2009

Books I’ve Read in January

January 28, 2009

The month isn’t over yet, but I feel like getting a jump on things.

1 At Grave’s End Jeaniene Frost
2 Magic and Other Misdemeanors Michael Buckley
3 The Accidental Human Dakota Cassidy
4 Tales From the Hood Michael Buckley
5 Annie’s Adventures Lauren Baratz-Logstead
6 Shopaholic Takes Manhattan Sophie Kinsella
7 Emily Ever After Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt
8 Left Behind Tim LaHaye and
9 In the Woods Tana French
10 Sleeping With Ward Cleaver Jenny Gardiner

These were all good, if not great reads.

At Grave’s End was a great way to start out the year. The Paranormal genre has been a favorite of mine for years, but it’s gotten rather stale. Too many series I used to love have become tiresome. Characters have been stretched to their limit and then some, or just cookie cutters with nothing original. I adore this series. I love the monogamous relationship the main characters share that seems to just make them stronger and more interesting. I can’t get enough of Cat and Bones. And the author thanks God in her acknowledgments. I find that so cool.

Magic and Other Misdemeanors is the 5th book from the series Sisters Grimm: Fairy Tale Detectives that my children and I share a love for. I listen to them on audio, and LJ Ganser is fabulous at creating a world of characters with his voice. I highly recommend the series for children and adults. My kids from 8 to 16 all love it. And so do I. It’s one of those unique books that transcends age.

The Accidental Human is a book I was fortunate enough to get an advanced review copy of. I have been looking forward to Wanda’s story and I’m so pleased to report that it exceeded expectations! I’ll make a prediction that the author, Dakota Cassidy, is on the cusp of a very long and successful writing career.

Tales from the Hood is 6th in the Sisters Grimm series. Although unavailable on audio, we had to have it. Michael Buckley continues to impress me and my children with his stories.

Annie’s Adventures is first in a new series for children about an extremely resourceful family of 8 sisters who are looking for their parents. My girls really enjoyed it!

Shopaholic Takes Manhattan has been sitting on my shelf for quite a while. Even though it’s a over 460 pages, it’s a fast enjoyable read. Escapism at it’s best without feeling too dumbed down. One of those books I feel silly for waiting so long to read.

Emily Ever After marks a new genre for me: Christian Chick Lit. A little deeper than your standard Chick Lit about facials, shopping and dating cute guys, this book made me think. I’ll be looking for more by these authors for a fun but thoughtful read that appeals to my spirit.

Left Behind is a book I read probably a decade ago. I enjoyed it again for a book group discussion. I can’t wait to read the next in this series. I’m not generally a fan of anything to do with The End Times. I find it depressing. Left Behind is suspenseful and theological without being frightening.

In the Woods is a police procedural suspense novel taking place in Ireland. That’s what made it more of a challenge to read, but it was definitely worth it. And it was so much fun to be emerged in another culture, even if the subject matter wasn’t always the most pleasant. Tara French is definitely an author I’ll be looking out for.

Sleeping With Ward Cleaver had me peeing my pants from laughing so hard. Honestly, I wasn’t sure about it being anything more than a few laughs. It was a little too realistic of a story about a marriage in trouble. The best part was how the main character fought for her marriage. Maybe she wasn’t graceful about it, but she got the job done. I loved that in a day and age where it’s easier to give up than work hard, they worked it out and were happier than ever. That’s the kind of book I like reading!

I’m almost through with The Ghost and the Dead Deb by Alice Kimberly. It’s the second in the Haunted Bookshop Mystery series. I love a good old fashioned mystery. A 1930’s private eye is a ghost stuck in a bookshop in a little New England town. Funny how so many murders occur in such a small town, but lucky for the bookshop owner, she’s got her ghost to help her find out who dunnit! Such a great series!

I’m listening to Inkheart by Cornelia Funke on audio and also reading Our Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts. I might be through with them by the end of the month, but probably not. So you can look forward to more about those soon!

Happy Reading!

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Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost

January 27, 2009

grave

Catherine “Cat” Crawfield is half vampire. The result of the rape by a creature of the night. Cat goes out each night to avenge her mother and hope the next vampire she kills is the one who ruined their lives. Her heritage has given her certain abilities that haven’t gone unnoticed. Which leads to her being kidnapped by a bounty hunting vampire named Bones who sees her potential. As they have the same ultimate goal, Cat reluctantly accepts Bones offer to train her and with her new partnership begins to suspect there might be vampires who aren’t completely evil. Her newly honed skills are quickly put to the test as a dangerous gang of vampires targets them for immediate assassination.

Halfway to the Grave reignited the love I have for paranormal fiction. In a popular genre in danger of growing stale with endless installments of sameoldsameold, Jeaniene Frost gifts us with a phenomenal debut series. It can’t be easy to create a unique story with engagingly feisty characters, yet Frost manages flawlessly.

Cat is a fairly complicated character. She wants to please her mother, and begins to troll for vampires in an attempt to make up for her own existence. She wants friends, and a chance at making something of herself in the world, but is torn by her desire to be accepted by her family. Something probably impossible because she’s half vampire. Enter Bones, who not only shows her what she’s capable of, but makes her thing that the prejudice she was raised with might not be what it seams. Bones is a fantastic character. I could almost see similarities between him and Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but that would be superficial. He does have Spike’s charisma though, in spades. He’s the perfect foil for Cat and her feistiness.

I’m so glad this is the beginning of a series. Although there are some cliffhangers, I closed the book and felt completely satisfied. Right before I rushed down to the book store to get my greedy hands on One Foot in the Grave!

A fantastic addition to urban fantasy, Jeaniene Frost is an author to add to your “must buy” list.

Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned Alaska’s Political Establishment Upside Down by Kaylene Johnson

January 27, 2009

**Note** I wrote this review before Sarah Palin became the GOP choice for Vice President

This is a biography of Sarah Palin, Alaska’s current and most popular Governor. It details her upbringing and shows the building of the foundation that made her the woman she is today. From her childhood in a small Alaskan town to becoming the state’s youngest and first female Governor.

Although I became familiar with Mrs. Palin and her grass roots effort in her run for Governor, I knew little of her family life before politics. This was a delightfully comprehensive telling of how she started out as a girl learning principles and ethics from her close-knit supportive family.

While there were interesting details new to me, the book was a bit of a lightweight from her time as Mayor of Wasilla to her current administration. Especially considering how Sarah turned the state on its ear as the title suggests. I was hoping for more substantial information regarding her ethics reform, her primary win against big incumbent Frank Murkowski and the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act (AGIA). It did give us good basic information and a good overall feel for who Sarah Palin was before she became Governor. She is so very much more than a pretty face, and this book helped make that point.

The pictures and quotes from people who knew Sarah way back when were a delight. It’s easy to see why she is so popular and well loved. This would be a fantastic addition to any school library and would be invaluable to Alaskan children in particular.

Deja Demon by Julie Kenner

January 27, 2009

demon

It doesn’t get any more challenging than keeping a teenager, a toddler in training pants, a first husband returned to life and a current husband’s political campaign all up to speed. Oh, did I mention the deamons? Moms are great at multi-tasking, but Kate Conner could give lessons!

In this novel, Kate is faced with more challenges than ever as every part of her life comes to the boiling point. Not only is her hidden life as demon hunter getting harder to keep from her husband, her first husband complicates things even more. Plus her daughter is desperate to start hunting demons herself. But that’s ok, this time, Kate will need all the help she can get as she fights a high demon and his army of undead.

In this fourth installment in Kenner’s Demon Hunter Soccer Mom series, I found myself caught up in the story even more than in previous novels. And trust me, I loved them all! This one seemed to really take off as so many events are pulled together.

One of my favorite aspects of this series is the realism of the characters. As a mother myself, most of Kate’s dialog could have come from my own mouth, as she quipped about the challenges of a rebellious teenager daughter, being a loving wife and getting a toddler to eat their breakfast.. I love that Kate’s world is familiar and at the same time a fun escape. She’s like a Mom’s answer to Wonder Woman. Who needs an invisible jet when you have mad skills with a cross bow?

The story and characters have continued to develop gradually, yet satisfyingly with each novel in the series. DEJA DEMON is a journey that brings a sense of closure with delicious tension on its way to that destination we call fulfillment. I love it when I can finish a book with a sigh and a smile.

I greatly look forward to the next installment in one of my favorite series! I hope Kate Conner goes on to slay many more demons in the future!

When the Day of Evil Comes by Melanie Wells

January 27, 2009

evil

It’s time again for Dylan Foster to shape young minds. A Texas psychology professor, Dylan has always enjoyed the respect of her colleagues. But one strange encounter with an oddly pale, bald man, could change all that. Soon, she finds herself wrestling with nightmares in a spiritual battle as her career, family and faith are put to the ultimate test.

I’m thrilled to discover this series! I love suspenseful books. Ones that keep you awake at night because you just have to find out what happens next. These kind of books are on my short list of favorite things. Discovering Christian suspense is a special treat and a story featuring a real character such as Dylan, with strong faith yet relatable short-comings is even more so. I never felt preached at, but rather uplifted as Dylan turned to scripture to equip her in her demonic battle. She is an intelligent, courageous, lovable rebel type I loved spending time with.

This was my first experience in the genre with a female protagonist and I found it extremely refreshing. The strange events at the genesis of Dylan’s investigation are the height of creepiness and it only escalates as the plot thickens. Arming herself with Ephesians six, her faith, and relentless determination Dylan never loses hope as she strives to put up a serious fight against a supernatural evil. The war Dylan fights would be almost too scary if it weren’t for her charismatic personality and resilience.

With snappy dialog, a tight plot, and mysterious happenings, WHEN THE DAY OF EVIL COMES is every nightmare come true. And I mean that in the best possible way! I couldn’t recommend it more. THE SOUL HUNTER and MY SOUL TO KEEP, books 2 and 3 in the series are all I want for Christmas!

The Perfect Life by Robin Lee Hatcher

January 27, 2009

lifeKatherine Clarkson has it all. She has beautiful home, a fulfilling church life, two daughters in happy marriages both expecting their first baby, a loving husband with a successful career. Then Katherine’s perfect life is shattered when a reporter makes shocking allegations against her husband. Her marriage has always been solid, and she’s never had a reason to doubt her husband before, yet these accusations send her reeling. Katherine will need to recreate her perfect life.

Robin Lee Hatcher writes about every woman’s nightmare when Katherine’s husband is accused of embezzlement and having an affair with a former co-worker. Through these pages I felt as though I knew Katherine and her family. Her pain was real and palpable. Fortunately, so was the hope and quest for faith.

The journey we took with the characters was extremely realistic. I know I’ve stumbled in my faith during times of trial and Katherine was no different. It was inspiring to witness her developing strength as she came to God broken, on her knees. We’re tenderly reminded that faith is best when it’s more than skin deep.

This was my first book by Robin Lee Hatcher. I was encouraged by the way she created a non-Christian character as Katherine’s best friend. She was a friend respectful of her faith, and ironically encouraged her to follow it.

Life isn’t always tied up with a pretty bow, and even though there were rough edges in the story, the feeling of promise I was left with was heartening.

I am pleased to add Robin Lee Hatcher to my list of favorite authors.

Yada Yada Prayer Group by Neta Jackson

January 27, 2009

yadaJodi Baxter is on her way to her first Chicago Women’s Conference and she has no inkling how it will change her outlook on the rest of her life! Worshipping the Lord with 500 strangers isn’t something Jodi is used to. That experience will seem easy after she’s is placed in an intimate prayer group with a group of women that couldn’t be more different if they tried. In the end though, it’s not what makes these ladies different that matters, but what makes them the same that brings them together.

A friend told me I had to get this book as soon as possible. She’s yet to steer me wrong, so I happily complied. Now I’m the one telling people they have to go out and get this book as soon as possible!

A more diverse group couldn’t be found anywhere. The Yada Yada’s consist of an ex-con, a Messianic Jew, a former drug addict, a teacher, and women from Honduras, South Africa and Jamaica. Their commonality is prayer. Some need to learn how to pray, or when to pray, but they all pray and it’s a beautiful thing that brings these ladies together.

Usually, a book with so many characters can be confusing, but Neta Jackson found a great formula to focus on a few at a time, never overwhelming the reader.

This was one of THE most inspiring books I’ve read all year. As the main character learned we are all just sinners, saved by Grace, I felt the goose bumps rise on my arms.

The Yada Yada Prayer Group is the first in a series, and I can hardly wait to start praying and praising again!

New Home for Book Mama

January 27, 2009

You can now find me at Literary Mama.

The Christmas Sweater by Glenn Beck

January 27, 2009

sweater1Do you remember being twelve years old and wanting that one Christmas gift more than anything else in the world? A shiny red Huffy bike. You dreamt of it. You could almost feel it and touch it. You’ve made plans for all the things you could do to help out with that bike. Then on the big day, you don’t get your heart’s desire. Instead, you get an “ugly” handmade sweater.

Eddie had lost a lot by the time he was twelve. His father had passed away. His mother worked so hard to keep food on the table. Life wasn’t easy. He felt the least he deserved was a bike. His anger and resentment grows and then that night, on the way home from his grandparents, he has to face extreme loss once again. Eddie is on a difficult path to adulthood and has to face the storm clouds before he can appreciate the gifts he has been given and the life he wants.

In the tradition of It’s a Wonderful Life comes The Christmas Sweater, a touching, poignant and at times tear jerking story of love, loss and redemption. Glenn Beck has crafted a modern day parable that is classic, yet very relevant to the current life situations of today. Based on his personal story, thankfully, I can only imagine the real incidents that inspired it.

It’s a relatively simple tale, written in relatively simple prose, but carries a deeper message within. Glenn Beck is widely known for his radio talk show and television show, but you’ll find no politics, just a sweet story of redemption.

I want to give a copy to all my friends and loved ones. I want to read it to my kids and enjoy as a family. I personally think kids over the age of ten might enjoy the story and find a lot to relate to. They might even find some personal insight and inspiration along the way.

Although Christmas is in the title, and it would make a wonderful Christmas gift, it can definitely be treasured all through the year.