Archive | Christian fiction RSS feed for this section

Protection for Hire

7 Oct

Protection for HireCamy Tang

Publisher: Zondervan

Publication Date: 2011

Paperback: 366 pages, though this was one of those Kindle deals for me.

Book Blurb:

Tessa Lancaster’s skills first earned her a position as an enforcer in her Uncle Teruo’s Japanese Mafia gang. Then they landed her in prison for a crime she didn’t commit. Now, three months after her release, Tessa’s abilities have gained her a job as bodyguard for wealthy socialite Elizabeth St. Amant and her three-year-old son. But there’s a problem or two … or three …. There’s Elizabeth’s abusive husband whose relentless pursuit goes deeper than mere vengeance. There’s Uncle Teruo, who doesn’t understand why Tessa’s new faith as a Christian prevents her from returning to the yakuza. And then there’s Elizabeth’s lawyer, Charles Britton, who Tessa doesn’t know is the one who ensured that she did maximum time behind bars. Now Tessa and Charles must work together in order to protect their client, while new truths emerge and circumstances spiral to a deadly fever pitch. Factor in both Tessa’s and Charles’s families and you’ve got some wild dynamics—and an action-packed, romantic read as Tessa and Charles discover the reality of being made new in Christ.

Stand alone or series: One of two (that I know of/have yet been written)

Why I read this book: To be honest, it first caught my eye cause the cover looked cool. It’s even better!

Review:

I think the blurb sells this book a little short. Not because all those things aren’t true, but because the blurb writing isn’t nearly as gripping as the novel. I didn’t want to put this book down. I would go to sleep thinking through all the crazy things that happened, and I would wake up and think about the story some more.

Tessa Lancaster is one kick butt kind of girl. It’s all she’s known how to do ever since her early school days. Now out of prison and applying to every job she sees, she can’t seem to land any gig except a position as a bodyguard. Her new friend and protectee, Elizabeth, throws her right in the path of the family she’s trying to avoid and a family unlike one she’s ever known. Charles Britton and his mom and brother have the kind of bond Tessa doesn’t dare dream of. But even she, who’s turned into a sort of detective, has no idea of the dark past that glues this gleaming family together. Will their pasts drag them under or will they emerge stronger? Just read to see.

While the plot is nail-biting, the characters are loveable and layered. Just as in life, no one is truly good or evil, even the ones you’d expect to be… Cough, cough—mafia boss—cough, cough. It’s fascinating to see the light and the dark tugging at each heart. And I must say one of my favorite characters is Vivian Britton. This woman is as fiery as her new cooking concoctions and as sweet as her homemade cannoli. Yum! You want to wrap her up in a hug and take her to the craziest place you’ve ever eaten. Strange combination, I know, but that’s just one of the reasons Vivian and all the rest of the cast are larger-than-life.

Hmm… Now who is this book for? Gee that’s a tough one.

If you like action, this is for you.

If you like mystery, this is for you too.

If you like a little romantic tension, I’d point you this way.

If you like damsels in distress… Well, this damsel will distress anyone who stands in her way.

If you like strange families, Raman, California, car chases, or dancing, would you pick this up already?

Seriously, go pick it up! I know I can’t wait to lose more sleep over this awesome series.

Par for the Course

11 Mar

Par for the CourseRay Blackston

Publisher: FaithWords

Publication Date: 2008

Paperback: 241 pages

Book Blurb:

Golf, politics, and romance collide as golf-range owner Chris Hackett meets an attractive political correspondent who turns his world upside down.

Chris Hackett owns and operates Hack’s Golf Learning Center, an eccentric golf range in Charleston, South Carolina. Chris jumps at the chance to step up his game when an attractive new student and political correspondent, Molly Cusack, suggests that Chris capitalize on the highly polarized presidential election. His pitting of Right versus Left means even more income, plus a sharp new girlfriend, and soon Chris, his sidekick, Cack, and their unique golf range are the talk of the town… until someone takes the political insults too seriously.

The question is, will Molly, stick around long enough for Chris to learn the true meaning of “playing politics”? Or is she just another “moving target”?

Stand alone or series: Stand alone

Why I read this book: The Flabbergasted series stole me away. I wanted to check out a new novel by him.

Review:

Blackston is at is again with another all-star cast of wacky, lovable characters. Chris Hackett has found his calling—he teaches golf lessons to beginners at golf range he owns. Cack is happy tending the grounds, telling passersby his views on what is wrong with the world, and insulting customers on a bullhorn every Tuesday during Wack the Cack. When Molly Cusack, a cute, single, outspoken political correspondent, learns of this unusual game she has a new idea. In an election year when temperature run high, why not take advantage of the wide dichotomy and make a little extra cash? On Friday night all the democrats come to take a wack at the right, with Cack shouting political insults at them from his high-powered, wire-mesh golf cart. On Saturday night republicans get the same chance. Soon Chris finds there’s a world of polarized issues—country fans and hip hop lovers, high school spirit teams wanting to wack the opposing team’s mascot and a round of wack the Baptists for eleven atheists (the Christians were given the chance but they didn’t think it would be quite right to Wack the Pagan). But with all this tension abounding, someone is bound to get their feelings hurt and maybe hurt a little more than just feelings.

I greatly enjoyed this book, though I have to say it doesn’t beat Flabbergasted. The cast of characters is as fun as ever. It’s complete with another men’s accountability group, which is always fun to witness. I would love to have seen Molly a little more rounded, we get a limited view of her as she flits about the country. Chris is excellently rounded, we understand him—what makes him tick, what gives him joy, what made him who he is today. Though we don’t have a backstory for Cack we don’t need one, we all know the type and Blackston uses him perfectly.

The book wasn’t as God-centered as the Flabbergasted series. Part of what I loved about that series was the unique insights into faith that it offered. This novel was definitely more golf-centered. I learned terms I didn’t even know existed. This was a fun read and I would recommend it to anyone looking for something light and enjoyable. I’m certainly going to check out other Blackston books, I’ll let you know more!

Green

12 Feb

GreenAuthor: Ted Dekker

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Publication Date: 2009

Paperback: 416 pages

Book Blurb:

As foretold by ancient prophets, an apocalypse destroyed Earth during the twenty-first century. But two thousand years later Elyon set upon the earth a new Adam. This time, however, he gave humanity an advantage. What was once unseen became seen. It was good and it was called…Green.

But the evil Teeleh bided his time in a Black Forest. Then, when least expected, a twenty-four year old named Thomas Hunter fell asleep in our world and woke up in that future Black Forest. A gateway was opened for Teeleh to ravage the land. Devastated by the ruin, Thomas Hunter and his Circle swore to fight the dark scourge until their dying death.

That was then. Now the Circle has lost all hope. And Samuel, Thomas Hunter’s cherished son, has turned his back on his father and is aligning dark forces to wage the final war. Thomas is crushed–but determined to rescue the Circle and his son even if he has to cross two worlds to do so.

Stand alone or series: Fourth in The Circle series, they also consider it book zero, but don’t listen.

Why I read this book: I loved The Circle series! There was no way I was not going to read this book.

Review:

So I like the theory behind having a book zero. It completes the circle, which is fitting for The Circle series. However, in actuality it doesn’t work. Please, I repeat, please do not read Green first. I know it says book zero so numerically that’s before one, but just don’t do it. The novel was written forth and should be read fourth. Here’s why: If you read this novel first and it will give away all the main plot points of the other three books. It will take the suspense away because you already know what is going to happen. Suspense is the fuel these books run on, plot is highly important. If you take those away, as you will by reading this book first, you will find your experience significantly lessened.

Also, if you take this book as it’s intended, that it completes the loop and the same story plays out over and over again, quite honestly that’s disappointing. It means nothing changes. And you’ll end this novel hoping that it does.

It’s difficult for me to focus on the content of this novel because I couldn’t get past how misleading this book zero could be. The first three novels worked seamlessly together as one piece. This novel stuck out like a sore thumb. While the characters are the same, the plot is entirely separate from the other three. Yet it references the plotline of the other three frequently, it also references the Lost Books series—the teen series Ted Dekker wrote that was set in this world. It seemed the story was often lost in its own complicated world plotting. I just kept thinking, I’m not sure how much of this would make sense if I hadn’t already read the 3 Circle books and the 7 Lost Books novels. And I’m sorry I’m being so vague and convoluted when it comes to the plot, but if I were clear I would give away important plot points from this novel and the previous novels.

It was also significantly darker than the other novels. The new characters, Janae and Billy, leave a bitter taste that made me not want to read this before bed. I was so lost in all of these things that I’m not sure if I enjoyed it or not. Perhaps if you don’t overthink it as I did, you might be able to enjoy the latest edition of the world Ted Dekker can’t seem to leave. Otherwise I would say take the Circle series as it was originally intended—as a trilogy.

The Island of Heavenly Daze

28 Jan

Island of Heavenly DazeLori Copeland and Angela Hunt

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Publication Date: 2001

Paperback: 272 pages

Book Blurb:

To a casual visitor, the island of Heavenly Daze is just like a dozen others off the coast of Maine. It is decorated with graceful Victorian mansions, carpeted with gray cobblestones and bright wild flowers, and populated by sturdy, hard-working folks-most of whom are unaware that the island of Heavenly Daze is not just like the other islands of coastal Maine. The small town that crowns its peak consists of seven buildings, each inhabited, according to divine decree, by an angel who has been commanded to guard and help anyone who crosses the threshold.

Unexpected hijinks and heart-warming results occur when mortals and immortals cross paths-and unaware visitors to the picturesque establishments of Heavenly Daze discover that they have been entertained by angels.

Stand alone or series: One of five and I was so glad there were more.

Why I read this book: In my ever-widening search for new and different Christian novels I ran across this series and it intrigued me.

Review:

If you’ve read Jan Karon’s Mitford series or Thomas Kinkade’s Cape Light series, you’ll find yourself on similar ground to the story set in Heavenly Daze. The main difference being that on the island of Heavenly Daze, angels don human flesh and walk among the mere mortals. I found this a fascinating premise and wanted to learn more.

There are twenty-nine residents on the small island off the coast of Maine—only twenty-two are human. For me, I can’t really tell who I like best. The humans, much like me, are flawed. So the conflict of the novel comes from them. But the challenges they face are not an ending world, an impeding hurricane, or other “great” misfortunes. They are problems that you and I would face—a stubborn garden, an unyielding maternal figure, a bald head. Not monumental in a total sum and yet, it mattered to me. And the lessons they learned were all the sweeter for being applicable to my own life.

The angels make up the other contingent of the island. These creatures have an insight I envy and a peace that so often eludes my grasp. Yet while I read of their lives here on earth and in heaven that peace crept into my own live. I used their joyous point of view as my own.

I grew quite attached to the inhabitants of Heavenly Daze and devoured the rest of the novels just like I gobbled up this one. I was sad when I finished, yet content that they’d touched my life in such a simple and intimate way. I encourage you to check out the Heavenly Daze series. In fact, I encourage you to buy them and pass them around as I have done. This is a wonderful series that’s got a little something for everyone and is a joy to read.

Have a lovely new year!

White

24 Dec

WhiteTed Dekker

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Publication Date: 2004

Paperback: 400 pages

Book Blurb:

Time Is Running Out In Two Realities.

In one world, a lethal virus threatens to destroy all life as scientists and governments scramble to find an antidote. In the other, a forbidden love could forever destroy the ragtag resistance known as The Circle.

Thomas can bridge both worlds, but he is quickly realizing that he may not be able to save either.

In this mind-bending adventure, Thomas must find a way to rewrite history as he navigates a whirlwind of emotions and events surrounding a pending apocalypse.

The fate of two worlds comes down to one man’s choice–and it is a most unlikely choice indeed. Life. Death. Love. Nothing is as it seems. Yet all will forever be transformed by the decisions of one man in the final hours of the Great Pursuit.

Stand alone or series: The third (at least that’s how I prefer it) in The Circle Series.

Why I read this book: I couldn’t not. It was all I could do to not pick up this one after I’d finished the last at three in the morning. It was, however, the first thing I grabbed when I woke up the next morning.

Review:

Our world has come to a stop and Other Earth has just sped up.

Thomas is missing on our world. Kara and the government don’t know if he’s dead or alive. But Kara is on a mission to find him. Not in our reality but in the other. In that reality the Horde is closing in on The Circle. Though they number only sixty-seven against the hundreds of thousands of Horde, Ciphus and Qurong will not be satisfied until they are stamped out. Foreseeable action and an unforeseeable love, mark the ending of this thrilling trilogy.

This novel’s subheading is called “The Great Pursuit”. This refers to Elyon/Justin’s relentless pursuit of every life. There is much argument and discussion about what this means among The Circle. The once Supreme Commander of the forest guard now refuses to pick up a sword against his enemy. Thomas will not kill when he knows Elyon has called them to love. Elyon pursues the hearts of the Horde as much as he woos the Circle. The Circle has been given commandments to follow which are very similar to the Bible in our reality. Yet, this subtitle has a double meaning. It also refers to Thomas’s unlikely pursuit of a woman that shall remain unnamed.

As ever, this novel will keep you on your toes. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll race through to the end which is bittersweet. Oh, I’m not talking about the plotline. I’m talking about the mixed emotions I felt at the end. Happy that my heart could finally stop racing and sad that such an excellent trilogy had come to an end…. Then surprise, surprise it hadn’t quite. I’ve still yet to read White so I don’t quite know what to think of this novel written five years after the trilogy’s end. Tune in next month to find out. In the meantime read White

Worlds Collide

10 Dec

Worlds CollideAlison Strobel

Publisher: Waterbrook Press

Publication Date: 2005

Paperback: 384 pages

Book Blurb:

Some Decisions Change Your Day. Some Will Change Your Life.

While the headlines screamed “Hollywood Heartthrob Marries Girl Next Door,” the public relationship of Jack Harrington and Grace Winslowe never revealed the private struggles that threatened to pull them apart–and when celebrity biographer Jada Eastman starts digging, she discovers that there’s more to this couple than anyone could guess.

Their relationship began like a scene from one of Jack’s movies. Leaving behind a dead-end relationship and the bitter Chicago winter, Grace had moved to Southern California to start a new life. Meanwhile, Jack had established himself as an up-and-comer with considerable acting talent, and a private heartache. When a fateful accident pulled the two of them together, they couldn’t avoid their initial attraction or the vast differences in their values and lifestyles.

Now, against the backdrop of Beverly Hills and the 24/7 nature of the entertainment world, Jada grapples with her own beliefs as she encounters the spiritual chasm of this famous couple. Can Grace and Jack face the consequences of their own personal histories–and can the biographer avoid being affected? As the three of them examine the couple’s bittersweet story, it becomes clear that everyday decisions can carry lifetime consequences when individual worlds collide.

Stand alone or series: Stand alone. I love a good stand alone.

Why I read this book: Sounded good. Nothing more than that. It captured my attention from book flap to book’s end.

Review:

The novel begins several years into Jack and Grace’s marriage. They had managed to keep the press at bay when it came to their private lives, but now they are ready to reveal all to Jada Eastman for a book that they hope can change lives as their lives were changed.

You see, at the beginning of their stories neither of them were Christians. They begin in heartbreaking and heartbroken situations with little hope, only will power. They tell their stories through a frame tale, interspersed with Jada’s musings in the present. Jada is also a non-believer and is determined to stay so in spite of the couple’s warm suggestions otherwise. These are stories of hope, love and conversion. They are powerful tales and each start in dark places. But grow even stronger because of the adversities they face.

The novel deals with tough issues like sex, drugs, alcohol and AIDS. While it handles them well, this is not a novel for young ones. It is a powerful and an emotionally difficult read, but in my opinion well worth it.

The stories are woven seamlessly together  and the story they tell is excellent. I was pleasantly surprised by this new author (to me). And look forward to reading some of her other books… Though I’m not sure how they’ll compete with this one. It really was just that good.

Perfecting Kate

3 Dec

Perfecting Kate

Tamara Leigh

Publisher: Multnomah Publishers

Publication Date: 2007

Paperback: 404 pages

Book Blurb:

Kate’s Creed: Thou shalt embrace singledom and be unbelievably, inconceivably happy.

Yeah, right.

Kate Meadows is a successful San Francisco artist looking for a nice, solid Christian man. So when not one, but two handsome men bachelors enter her orbit in rapid succession, her head is spinning just a bit. Michael Palmer is a hunky and famous makeup artist who actually seems to be flirting with her—rather than her physically flawless roommate, Maia. Trouble is, he keeps handing her business cards from various beauty professionals and plastic surgeons. Is he trying to stamp out every last but of self-esteem she has?

Then there’s Dr. Clive Alexander, good-looking enough to be mistaken for Brad Pitt, who sends Kate’s pulse skittering every time he comes near. Too bad he’s only interested in her work—and doesn’t think she’s much to look at. It’s enough to send a girl running for her paint-spattered, relaxed-fit jeans and swearing off mean altogether! But after undergoing a makeover from Michael’s staff,  Kate can’t be oblivious to the admiring glances men throw her way. Maybe she should try contacts…consider some fancy dental work…and you know, that mole really could stand to go. The question now is, what kind of work will Kate do on herself…and who exactly is she trying to please?

Stand alone or series: Stand alone. Tamara Leigh’s first four books out in the inspirational/Christian fiction world are stand alones. I’ve read three out of the four and have the last sitting upstairs in my office, waiting for me. I’ve loved every one so far. Since then she’s written two series: Southern Discomfort, a modern tale that looks in line with her first four in Christian fiction, and the Age of Faith series, a medieval time travel romance that hearkens back to her pre-Christian romance days as a medieval romance writer for Bantam books.

Why I read this book: If you couldn’t tell from above. I love this author! Her character’s are funny, strong women who develop in faith and become much stronger, really just rockin’ women by the end. And of course, she’s got some great, skin-tingling heroes to sweep them off their feet.

Review:

Most women, at least my girlfriends and I, have things we’d like to fix about ourselves. For example, I could really use some extensions and a miracle treatment to make my unruly waves fall into place and if that constellation of zit scars on my forehead would go away that would be just peachy. But Kate takes self-improvement to a whole new level. As of late, she’s let herself go a bit, but a few too many stinging comments about her appearance send her rocketing off in the wrong direction. Once she gets a taste of the positive reaction she receives for her jazzed up look, she goes a bit nutty with self-improvement “quick fixes”. But the zipping and zapping isn’t done to please herself, it’s done for her makeup artist, constantly-surrounded-by-gorgeous-women boyfriend…ish. But for every one procedure she does he give her three more business cards for others, that would make her the “perfect woman”.

If that’s not bad enough, emotionally unavailable Dr. Hotness in the form of Clive Alexander is constantly showing up and setting her off balance. Sometimes quite literally. She fights her attraction for the good doctor while working alongside him to pull of the biggest job she’s yet hand in her artistic career: the new wing of the children’s burn unit. While she’s happy to help children like Jessica, who tug at her heartstrings, being around so many little ones brings its own issues. Kate cannot have children.

If finding Mr. Christian Right wasn’t hard before, try doing it with being able to provide a “little Junior”. Having been rejected again and again in the past for what she couldn’t give she’s reluctant to open up again for the pain it could cause, but the pain if she waits threatens to be greater. Kate struggles to trust God to bring the right man to her, a man that could forego biological children. In fear of what He’ll say, she’s stops asking about the boys because she doesn’t want to know the answer.

I know I’ve done the same. I didn’t want to know the answer, I wanted to do it my way. But I learned, as Kate learned, that God knows best. Trust and faith are at the center of the novel and parallels she draws between herself and God are fresh and altered at least my view on the subject.

As ever, I loved the spunky, slightly nutty main character. The writing was quick and snappy. The beginning didn’t grab me quite as much as Faking Grace, but once the ball got rolling I had trouble putting it down. The plot is fairly predictable… just by the back cover who do you think she’s going to end up with? But with Leigh the journey is always worth the read. I would, as with her other books, recommend this to any girlfriend. Enjoy!