Sunday, August 30, 2009

Tea & Read: The Watchers

Title: The Watchers
Author: Mark Andrew Olsen
Rating: Spend the Day Sleepy

Sometimes a book calls to me. It seems like I see it in every time I go in a bookstore or someone is talking about it. This was one of those examples. I had seen this book several times and had even told my husband that I wanted the book. I am so glad I finally got it.

This novel is the story of Abby Sherman, a girl having some very strange visions. When she posts the visions on her social network site, it throws into danger from forces she never dreamed. Dylan Hatfield is the man hired to stop her from sharing her message. But as he tries to accomplish his mission, he realizes that things are not what they seem.

This is an excellent spiritual warfare book. I've read many through the years; some hit the mark and some didn't. If I had to rank this book in my top five spiritual warfare books, it would come second behind This Present Darkness, This Piercing Darkness by Frank Peretti. The Vertis Conflict by Shaunti Feldhahn, and Isolation by Travis Thrasher (see previous post) would round out the top five, respectively.

Mark Andrew Olsen does a wonderful job of making the spirit world believable and tangible. He has proven himself to be a repeat-buy author with Hadassah and The Hadassah Covenant, books he co-authored with Tommy Tenney. I can't wait to start the second book in this series, The Warriors. If you love spiritual warfare books, I highly recommend these.

Clearance Charms: Chop Shop

Title: Chop Shop
Author: Tim Downs

This is another book I purchased at the Going-Out-of-Business Sale.

Chop Shop is the second book of the Bug Man series. Dr. Nick Polchak is contacted by Riley McKay a fellow at the Allengaeny County Coroner's Office. She suspects her supervising pathologist of hiding something. She asks Nick to get involved, which always ends in adventure.

I have read several of Downs' books outside the Bug Man series. The Plague Maker earned Downs a permenant place on my bookshelf. I also like the fact that the Bug Man series still has steam. And I appreacate the research Downs put into the novel.

Clearance Charms: The Incumbent

Title: The Incumbent
Author: Alton Gansky

I bought this book during a Going-Out-Of-Business sale at a Christian outlet bookstore (I bought several during this trip). This is also the first of hopefully many books I'll read by Alton Gansky.

It's the story of Madison "Maddy" Glenn, the mayor of Santa Rita. When a series of disappearances happen in her town lead back to her, she finds herself trying to connect the pieces before the abductor strikes again.

I think the most amazing part of this book is how well Gansky write from a female’s point of view. So many writers find it a challenging to write from the prospective of the opposite sex. But Gansky did an amazing job.

Another thing about this book about is that I didn't figure out who the villain was until the end of the book. I love it when that happens! I did have my suspicions, but I was pleasantly surprised in the end.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tea & Read: Menu For Romance

Title: Menu For Romance
Author: Kaye Dacus
Rating: Two cups of tea

If I had to name an author who is quickly earning the right to be listed as one of my favorites, it has to be Kaye Dacus. I read her first book, The Stand-in Groom and was quite impressed. I love the fact that she brings freshness to the Christian fiction.

Menu for Romance is the continuation of the Guidry sagas and the story of Meredith Guidry, a successful event planner. She desperately wants to find love and make a New Years resolution to find someone. It's also the story of Major O'Hara (cute man with extreme name), an Executive Chef who feels his life is to crazy for love.

Dacus creates a realistic look into the "behind the scenes" world of food service. She puts the reader right in the world with all it's tastes and smells. The novel also depicts the thrills of secrets: both secret love and secret issues.

Another very strong theme in the novel is family. The Guidry family is a loving bunch, but their inter-family dynamics always makes for exciting reading. I love the way Dacus makes me feel like I could be reading about my family of four sisters.

I suspect that Dacus will be making waves in the Christian fiction world for a long time to come.

Tea & Read: Before the Season Ends & The House In Grosvenor Square

Title: Before the Season Ends & The House in Grosvenor Square
Author: Linore Rose Burkard
Rating: Spend the Day Sleepy

Two years ago two of my friends dared me to read Pride & Prejudice. Actually, they told me I was uncultured. And of course, being the type of person that I am, I accepted their challenge. It took me two years to do it, but I finally finished Pride & Prejudice and I'm glad I did. I felt a sense of accomplishment, but didn't feel excited about reading anymore of Austin's book. So when I got Linore Rose Burkard's book, whose tag line is "Inspirational Romance for the Jane Austen Soul", I straightened my shoulders and said "If you can read Austin, you can read this."

Much to my surprise, I plowed through both Burkard's books in two days! These books shocked me at how great they are, not because Burkard is a sub par writer (she isn't), but because I didn't think I would enjoy another Regency story. Burkard is a phenomenal writer. She has captured Austen's style enough to amaze me, but made it her own enough to keep me turning the pages.

The characters are well fleshed out and memorable. Thanks to Phillip Mornay, I realized I'm secretly in love with Mr. Darcy (shh, don't tell him). I also love Ariana's aunt. She definitely adds drama to the story. These books would make a great gift for all the Austen lovers in your life. Burkard lives up to her tag line a thousand times over!

Tea & Read: Return To Love

Title: Return to Love
Author: Betsy St. Amant
Rating: Two cups of tea

Return to Love is Betsy St. Amant's first novel and she's off to a good start. It's the story of Gracie Broussard, a girl who has her past come back and visit her big time, in the form of Carter Alexander. He broke her heart and years later, shows up at the aquarium where Gracie works as a penguin keeper.
I think one of the greatest part of this book is its themes. It speaks to grace and second chances. Haven't we all looked at our past with regret and wondered what our life would have been like if we'd made different choices? Gracie's story is a great example on how to handle our pasts (since we all have them) and how to have a clear perspective on the events of our lives. This novel shows that even though we have things in our pasts that we are not proud of, they shape us into the person we are.
Of course, St. Amant gets cool points for Carter being a cute musician (second in my heart only to a cute cowboy). Another twenty-four hour read. Looking forward to reading more of her writing.

Tea & Read: Love Thine Enemy

Title: Love Thine Enemy
Author: Louise M. Gouge
Rating: Two cups of tea

Good things come in good packages and I love it when I get a good little book. Love Thine Enemy is the story of Rachel Folger, a patriot sympathizer living in colonial Florida. She falls for Frederick Moberly, a man whose loyalties lay firmly with the crown.

One of the most impressive things about this book is its unique location. Most historical book about the American revolution are set in places closer to the north, like Virginia or Boston. But this story was set in Florida and gave a very enlightening picture of how states far removed from the fighting might have handled the Revolution. The book also had some great plot twists and great historical perspective on the war, prisoners and sympathizers.

Another thing I liked about this book was that the faith aspect wasn't overdone. Frederick's struggle with faith is realistic for that time. He is what most people would consider a "good" man, but finds that doesn't always equate to faith in God.

I read this little book in a few hours. Good clean romance and definitely a summer read.

Tea & Read: According to Their Deeds

Title: According to Their Deeds
Author: Paul Robertson
Rating: Two cups of tea
There are certain books that reward you for your diligence. According to Their Deeds is one of those books (Pride and Prejudice is another). I originally bought this book for my husband. When I'm in the bookstore I'm often looking for what I call Man Books. Little to no romance and lots of action. But when I got the book home, it called to me and I decided to read it before my husband did.

I'd only seen books by Paul Robertson before. I began the book with no expectations. The first thing that struck me was the book is almost all dialog! Sharp, powerful dialog that carries the story along. If you'd asked me before I picked up this book if it was possible to have a book full of dialog, I would have told you no.
The novel is the story of Charles Beale, an antique bookstore owner, who reclaims some books an estate auction. It is the estate of someone working for the justice department and a friend of Charles killed in a break-in gone bad. Charles finds that the books contain more than he expected.

Many Man Books I've read often are fast pace, the flow taking on the characteristics of the hero. This book does the same, expect it takes its pace of Charles, an aging man. The pace isn't stifling but refreshing. We walk through the book with Charles, following him down rabbit hole after rabbit hole.

Of course, there are several memorable characters in the novel. I think my favorite is Angelo. I love the way Robertson succinctly uses Angelo's dialog (and the rest of the cast for that matter) to show his personality. Angelo is a steathy character that says very little. Robertson reveals this in a brilliant way.

Also, the themes in this book come through loud and clear. Judgment and redemption are woven in every character and every situation. Robertson also gets props for quoting Immanuel Kant. I never thought that I would be glad that I studied Kant in Seminary.

This book was an enjoyed change from other Man Books. No young strapping heroes, trying to solve the mystery and win the girl. No, there is just Charles the reluctant adventurer, his wife, and his books. Great book.