Saturday, February 12, 2011

Murder on an Alaskan Cruise Ship

Raleigh Harmon, FBI agent and forensic geologist, is on a working vacation with her family on a cruise to Alaska. Her aunt Charlotte has been hired by a film company to provide crystals to enhance the performance of the actors. Raleigh is the consultant on FBI matters. Almost immediately the vacation turns deadly when the wife of the star is murdered.

Complications arise when Jack Stephenson, her nemesis from her days at the Seattle office, arrives to help with the murder investigation. When her mother discovers that Raleigh is an FBI agent, she has a mental collapse. Claire, the clairvoyant, provides comic relief, and the film company is filled with characters, as is the ship's personnel.

The Alaskan scenery is beautifully described, and we learn a great deal about the geology of the area and about gemstones. The mystery is intertwined with the characters and the setting, but little information is given to allow the reader to participate in the solution. I would call this book more of a thriller than a traditional mystery.

The pace of the novel is good, but I found the main character unlikable. She seems far too angry and disturbed. The minor characters are well drawn, particularly Jack Stephenson and Geert, the officer in charge of ship security. Although the book is billed as Christian fiction, I found the ties to Christianity rather tenuous and primarily related to Raleigh feeling bad about what she's doing, but not changing her behavior. Therefore, I can't really recommend it as Christian fiction.

The scenery and setting on a cruise ship are the most attractive features of the book. If you like the thriller genre, this could be an enjoyable book.

I reviewed this book as part of the Thomas Nelson Book Sneeze Program.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Time to Write a New Story

Getting stuck in the story of your life is easy. It's change that's hard. In fact, it's not possible until you realize that you can rewrite your life story. All it takes is changing your perspective and thinking about your life in new ways.

I thoroughly enjoyed Same Life, New Story. While the book isn't a traditional self-help book, giving step by step instructions for changing your life, it is a book that makes you think. The author uses the Bible stories of Naomi, Leah, Deborah, Hannah and others to illustrate the theme of looking at your life and with God's help realizing that the old story is not the one you have to have for eternity. Reading about the lives of these women gives concrete illustrations of the challenges in the book: playing it safe, dealing with widowhood, finding self-worth.

The book contains material for group discussions and questions to ask yourself to jump start an analysis of your life. Even if it isn't time for you, personally, to write a new story, the questions are well thought out and will act as a guide when you do think it's time to evaluate your life.

I reviewed this book as part of the Thomas Nelson Book Sneeze program.