Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Talking to the Dead

by Bonnie Grove
David C. Cook, 2009

When Kate's husband, Kevin, dies suddenly after they've been married only five years, Kate is devastated and lost. The pair had been high school sweethearts with shared dreams for the future. Dreams of a house filled with children, love, and laughter. And when Kate starts hearing Kevin's voice after the funeral, she is filled with both longing and despair. Is she going crazy? And why does Kevin seem to turn on her?

Kate's mother, whose own husband passed away eight months earlier, gives Kate the space that she needs. Her sister, Heather, and Kevin's best friend, Blair, are always there when she needs them. Maggie, an older woman from Kevin's church, wants to help. But there are gaps in Kate's memory - important things about the past and her marriage to Kevin that Kate needs to remember before she can move forward.

Counseling, group therapy, and medication for depression help, but aren't enough in and of themselves. Could she be "spiritually blocked" as one counselor suggests? As Kate recovers bits and pieces of her past, and learns of several betrayals, she turns to Jack Slater, a pastor/youth worker she met at a downtown community centre. With his friendship and insight come the beginnings of healing and forgiveness.

This is one of the best first novels I've had the pleasure to read. Bonnie is a gifted writer, who draws the reader into the story and doesn't let go. I literally had a difficult time putting this down, and eagerly anticipate Bonnie's next book.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Cream Puff Murder

by Joanne Fluke,
Kensington, 2009

This long-awaited installment in the Hannah Swensen culinary mystery series doesn't disappoint.

Hannah's mother, Delores, has penned her first romance novel, and Hannah has to prepare the refreshments as well as appear in a Regency costume Delores has ordered. Unfortunately, the dress is too small and Hannah goes on an intensive diet and exercise program in order to fit into it in time.

Meanwhile, Ronni Ward is doing her level best to lure every man she encounters and antagonize every woman. Her success leads to her untimely demise in the jacuzzi at the Heavenly Bodies fitness club.

Several of Hannah's male acquaintances are suspect, including her sometimes-boyfriend, police detective Mike Kingston. Hannah must investigate to clear their names and discover the real killer.

Along the way, she develops new insights into both Mike's character and the character of her other love interest, dentist Norman Rhodes.

While I figured out who-done-it fairly early on, I thoroughly enjoyed Fluke's latest dish, and am only sorry that I'm apt to have several more months' wait before the next title is released. I guess while I wait I'll just have to try all the wonderful recipes included in the book! Thankfully, a few lower calorie options are available.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The One-Minute Mother: the quickest way for you to help your children learn to like themselves and want to behave themselves

by Spencer Johnson,
William Morrow & Company, 1983

An expectant mother decides to consult the mothers around her in order to have a better understanding of good child-rearing methods. After speaking with many and becoming tired and discouraged, she finally hears of a woman who has simple and effective strategies. She visits this "one-minute mother" and her three adult children to find out the secrets of successful parenting.

Although this is an older title, the contents remain true for parents today. Told in story form, and just over 100 pages long, the book is a quick and easy read. When the techniques suggested are applied properly and consistently, mothers should discipline children effectively, and children should learn to like themselves and want to behave themselves.

A companion volume, The One-Minute Father, is also recommended.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes: Winner Announced!

While I would have liked to have copies to give everyone who entered my book draw, please join me in congratulating Sandra M, the winner of Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes by Robin Jones Gunn! Enjoy the book, Sandra, and keep on reading!

Sir Dalton and the Shadow Heart

by Chuck Black
Multnomah, 2009

Sir Dalton, a knight in training, seems to have everything going for him. Young, well-liked, and a natural leader, he has earned the respect and admiration of his fellow knights, and especially the beautiful Lady Brynn.

But something is amiss at the training camp. Their new trainer is popular but lacks the passion to inspire them to true service to the King and the Prince. Besides this, the knights are too busy enjoying a season of good times to be concerned with a disturbing report that many of their fellow Knights have mysteriously vanished.

When Sir Dalton is sent on a mission, he encounters strange attacks, especially when he is alone. As his commitment wanes, the attacks grow in intensity until he is captured by Lord Drox, a massive Shadow Warrior. Bruised and beaten, Dalton refuses to submit to evil and initiates a daring escape with only one of two outcomes–life or death. But what will become of the hundreds of knights he’ll leave behind? In a kingdom of peril, Dalton thinks he is on his own, but two faithful friends have not abandoned him, and neither has a strange old hermit who seems to know much about the Prince. But can Dalton face the evil Shadow Warrior again and survive?


The Disappearance of God

by Dr. R. Albert Mohler
Multnomah, 2009

More faulty information about God swirls around us today than ever before. No wonder so many followers of Christ are unsure of what they really believe in the face of the new spiritual openness attempting to alter unchanging truth.

For centuries the church has taught and guarded the core Christian beliefs that make up the essential foundations of the faith. But in our postmodern age, sloppy teaching and outright lies create rampant confusion, and many Christians are free-falling for “feel-good” theology.

We need to know the truth to save ourselves from errors that will derail our faith.

As biblical scholar, author, and president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. Albert Mohler, writes, “The entire structure of Christian truth is now under attack.” With wit and wisdom he tackles the most important aspects of these modern issues:

  • Is God changing His mind about sin?
  • Why is hell off limits for many pastors?
  • What’s good or bad about the “dangerous” emergent movement?
  • Have Christians stopped seeing God as God?
  • Is the social justice movement misguided?
  • Could the role of beauty be critical to our theology?
  • Is liberal faith any less destructive than atheism?
  • Are churches pandering to their members to survive?

In the age-old battle to preserve the foundations of faith, it's up to a new generation to confront and disarm the contemporary shams and fight for the truth. Dr. Mohler provides the scriptural answers to show you how.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Eyes Wide Open: See and Live the Real You

by Jud Wilhite with Bill Taaffe,
Multnomah, 2009

Having your eyes wide open means understanding who God is, and recognizing your true position and identity in Christ, as one who is loved and forgiven. It is this real you that Jud Wilhite invites you to discover in Eyes Wide Open .

Fluently written, the book is a kind of travel guide through real spirituality. Stories about following God in the messes of life, about broken pasts and our lifelong need for grace are relevant and inspiring. I know that I will have to read it multiple times in order to recall and retain all the valuable points that are made. Surprisingly simple cover art belies the importance and beauty of the contents within.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes (Review and Giveaway!)

by Robin Jones Gunn
Multnomah, 2009

Having read all of the Sisterchicks books to date, I was excited to see that Gunn had penned a new installment. Once again, she doesn't disappoint, but delivers a solid Christian chick-lit novel.

The story's protagonist, Summer, receives news that a mammogram test has revealed some abnormality. Given that her mother had died of breast cancer, the news sends Summer into a panic. To delay the biopsy, Summer decides on the spur of the moment to visit her pen pal, Noelle, for a week in the Netherlands.

As in all the Sisterchicks books, the main characters tour an exotic location (in this case, Holland), allowing the reader a vicarious travel experience. This is one of the things I enjoy about the books, since I have yet to travel outside of North America. The other thing I like is how Gunn weaves scripture and spiritual ideas throughout the text so that the characters come to new understandings and ways of thinking. She is not at all heavy-handed or preachy in her approach, the effect is subtle and natural. In Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes, Summer comes to realize that she can relinquish her own attempts to control and trust God for her future. Noelle also finds Summer's visit helpful in dealing with an unresolved issue from her past.

You can go to the Random House website to buy a copy of the book, or why not leave a comment on my blog before June 15? For the first time ever, I am offering a giveaway. I will make a random draw on June 16. Make sure you leave your e-mail address so I can contact you if you're the lucky winner!