Friday, July 29, 2011

Coming of Age and Finding Christ at Oxford

A year spent at on a scholarship at Oxford University gave Carolyn Weber more than she expected. She meets a fellow student who challenges her to become a Christian. Although a feminist and wary of men, because of her difficult relationship to the father who left the family, she can't quite put away the attraction of following Christ. As she progresses through the liturgical year, she finds it increasingly difficult to avoid believing and then equally difficult to feel comfortable in her new commitment. Haven't we all been there?

I found the memoir completely delightful. It made me feel young again, exploring great minds, falling in love, and finding a lifelong commitment. As Carolyn struggles with her new commitment to Christ, she has strong colleagues and friends to support and help her. It's particularly interesting to watch her struggle with the fact that being a committed Christian in academia is not easy either in this country or England. You have to admire her resolve.

This book is a gift to all of us who have been young, insecure, and searching. I was very sad to read the last page. It was an echo of my own lost youth.

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

Monday, July 25, 2011

Conclusion of the Life Support Story

In this sequel to Robert Whitlow's Life Support, Alexia Lindale is again trying to represent a client who is becoming more and more psychotic. Rena Richardson sees, Baxter, the husband she pushed off the cliff, with increasing regularity in her house, although Baxter is confined to a hospital bed. As Rena's mental state deteriorates, Alexia finds excuses for her and tries to act as confident as well as defense attorney. At the same time, Alexia's romance with the Ted, the music minister, is becoming more important to her. In spite of being Rena's attorney, she can't help but be impressed by the way Ted is able to help the paralyzed Baxter.

I love the setting of Whitlow's novels. He makes you see the Southern areas he's writing about. His premise is interesting, and he does an excellent job portraying the increasingly paranoid Rena Richardson. I was less impressed with his portrayal of Alexia Lindale. She still seems incredibly naïve for an attorney. There are numerous places where you want to shake her and say, 'How can you be so blind?'

Two major delights in the novel are the discussion of the music therapy, truly a marvelous treatment of a controversial therapy, and the presentation of Alexia's continuing response to Christ's teachings. These are, in my estimation. two of the best aspects of the novel.

I highly recommend reading Life Support before tackling Life Everlasing. The story really is one long book. I give Whitlow high marks for Christian fiction, but I wish his character development of Alexia had been more realistic.

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

Friday, July 22, 2011

Vivid Images -- Moving Poems

Deeper Into the Pond is another successful collaboration between Carolyn Howard-Johns and Magdelena Ball. I my estimation this collection is even more mature and moving than their previous work.

Vivid images in this collection of poems distill the lives of the women who wrote them. They speak to all the stages of life and our roles as women reminding us how far we've come and how much we have to be grateful for. They celebrate aging and our roles as wives, mothers and lovers. Whatever your age these poems will speak to you of times to look forward to or to remember. These are not poems to read once. They will stay with you forever.

If you enjoy poetry, I highly recommend this collection.

The Pineville Heist – Action Packed Thriller

During an argument with his father, Aaron is let out of the car and forced to walk to school. Taking a short cut through the woods, he witnesses bank robbers hiding the money from their heist of the Pineville Bank. When he and his friends decide to recover the money, a dangerous chase ensues that almost costs Aaron his life.

The Pineville Heist is an action packed thriller that will appeal to the young adult reader and to some older readers, too. The story is filled with plot twists that keep the reader turning the pages. The characters are well drawn and will appeal to young readers. The high school setting is one they can identify with. A good choice for teenage readers.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Maybe You Can Go Home Again

Tom Crane had a bad day. He lost his job at a prestigious Atlanta law firm. His girl friend deserted him and even took his cat. Tom goes home to his childhood home in Bethel, Georgia. He has work to do. His father died recently and he had to close down the practice, but when he arrives in Bethel, he realizes that things are not as simple as he'd like. His friends, the Pelhams, are very tense when he goes there for dinner. His uncle Elias is urging him toward the faith of his childhood, and there is a mystery in the files of his father's cases.

As usual with Whitlow, the setting draws you in. The main character, Tom Crane, is a likeable person. It's a comfortable feeling book. Almost like living in a small town. I love reading his books for the setting. It makes me want to go to rural Georgia.

The Christianity in this book is more pronounced than that in the Santee series. For some people, this will be a positive; others less so. On the negative side, I found the crime too easy to guess. This ruined the suspense in the remainder of the book.

I highly recommend this book for people who enjoy Christian fiction. It's well worth the read and you'll love Georgia.

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

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Fascinating Look at a Guilty Client and the Attorney Who Defends Her

On a hike in the mountains, Rena Richardson pushes her husband off a cliff hoping that he's dead. This is the start of an engrossing novel. Although we know Rena is guilty, her attorney doesn't. Alex is a young attorney who specializes in divorce cases, usually talking the woman's side. She's convinced that men are the problem and advises women to make sure they have all the documentation to take their straying husbands to the cleaners in a divorce case. Because of her orientation – the woman is always right – she's blind to the fact that Rena is acting in a rather bizarre fashion.

The interplay between the two women and the juxtaposition of them giving their sides of the story is a powerful presentation. We know who's guilty. We can't help rooting for Alex, but events keep piling on the tension to bring the women into an uneasy partnership.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Moving back and forth between the two characters definitely keeps you turning the pages. Well written, great suspense and a fascinating environment: all these make the book well worth reading.

I was a little disappointed in Alex, the attorney. I thought she was a bit too naive and trusting. I had trouble seeing an attorney who had been practicing for awhile act as she did. However, her specialty makes it understandable, if not completely reasonable.

Like other reviews, I was disappointed that the book had to be continued into a sequel. I thought it could have easily fit into one book. The cliff hanger at the end seemed contrived. Still, it was a great read. It was particularly interesting because of the Christian element using music to come to Christ. I thought that was an excellent treatment. Definitely a book to read.

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

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Inspirational Thriller for Teens

Charlie is in jail and terrified, waiting for the killer's he knows are there to silence him. His memory is coming back. This makes the violence in the jail that much worse, because having his memory come back is a painful process that rips his insides. Whatever happens, Charlie knows he can't give up and he isn't alone. God is walking with him in this dangerous quest to stop the Homelanders.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Charlie is a likeable and believable character, someone teens can identify with. The action is fast paced and thoroughly entertaining. You don't want to put it down.

I particularly liked the way the author brought Christianity into the story. It wasn't overwhelming, or preachy. Charlie exemplified good Christian ideals. He lived by his belief. This is the kind of story I hope teens are reading. It makes faith very real and important for survival.

I highly recommend this book, not only for teens, but for anyone who enjoys a great read!

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

Learning Survival Skills from the Animals

Sean unenthusiastically accompanies his wife, Ashley, on a trip to the Serengeti. He's unenthusiastic until he meets Zachariah, a friend form college. While exploring the Serengeti with Zachariah, Sean and Ashley, learn about the survival skills possessed by the animals. It changes their lives by showing them the importance of using their skills to survive, not in the Serengeti, but in the business world and in their family.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It's one of those books that even though you're familiar with all the ideas, it's put together in such a way that it sticks with you. I think it was brilliant to combine the descriptions of the Serengeti and the amazing animals with a discussion of business and life skills. The scenarios make you remember the points the author makes. 

The books is a quick read and draws you in from the first page. I highly recommend the book. You'll want to read it more than once.

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