Friday, December 21, 2007

Distant Heart Review

4 stars


Distant Heart

Tracey Bateman

Avon Inspire

Toni Rodden, a prostitute, has lived a life of sorrow and unhappiness until she is rescued by Sam Two-Feathers. She comes to know Jesus and accepts Him as her personal Lord and Savior. She joins the band wagon heading to Oregon. But along the way there is betrayal, suspense and heartache. Can she survive this trip? Will she be able to show others around her that she is a changed woman?
This story was a wonderful read. The characters are very lively and human. Many times, when we think about the olden days, we believe that the worst thing that they might have done was say a bad word or something minor like that. We often forget that people are still humans and prone to sin, despite the era they lived. We often glorify the past when we think of the misdeeds and society of the present. This story reminded that everybody needs Jesus to save them, even if they lived in the 1800s! I would have like the story to be a bit longer. However, in the space that the novel was written in, the main character does become closer to God and the readers are able to see her change. Also, since this is the second book in the series, there were references to the first book that made me think that I was missing something about the overall story; but this does not detract from Toni’s story. Other than these two things, this is a story I would recommend to anyone!

Distant Heart, #2 Westeared Hearts Series

In the second book in the Westward Hearts trilogy, will the promise of a new life out west heal the scars of Toni's past?This series tells the stories of three strong women as they struggle to survive on the rough wagon train and lose their hearts to unlikely heroes along the way/ Thin Little House on the Prairie meets Francine river's Redeeming Love and you begin to get a sense of the riveting historical series that Tracey Bateman has created.In this second installment, we follow Toni Rodden, a former prostitute who sought to escape her past and build a new life, and a new reputation, when she joined the wagon train. Despite much resentment and distrust from the other women, Toni has finally earned a place on the wagon train and found a surrogate family in Fannie Caldwell and her two siblings. For the first time in her life, Toni actually feels free.But while Toni once harbored dreams that her new life might include a husband and family, she soon realizes the stigma that comes with her past is difficult to see beyond and that she'll never be truly loved or seen as worthy. As the trip out west begins to teach her to survive on her own, she resolves to make her own living as a seamstress when the train finally reaches Oregon.But despite Toni's conviction that no man will be able to see beyond her marred past, Sam Two-feathers, the wagon scout and acting preacher for the train seems to know of a love that forgives sins and values much more than outward appearances. Will Sam have the confidence to declare his love? Will Toni be able to trust in a God that can forgive even the darkest past? Faith, love, and courage will be put to the test in Distant Heart.

To get this book:

About the Author: Tracey Bateman

Tracey Bateman is the award-winning author of more than twenty-five books, including Defiant Heart, the First in the Westeard Hearts series. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and recently served on the board as President. She loves in Lebanon, Missouri, with her husband and their four children.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

What Lies Within Review

5 stars


What Lies Within

Karen Ball


Kyla Justice outwardly has it all – a very successful construction business, a good, steady boyfriend, a Christian faith – she has everything to lead a good life. However, she always feels something is missing in her life. She can’t seem to agree to her boyfriend’s request to marry him. She can’t seem to find her place in life. Filled with questions and doubts, and struggling to let go of her guilty secrets, she finally agrees to help a church build a centre for inner-city kids. She believes that the Lord is leading her to do so. However, as soon as she starts work on the new building problems arise in the form of gang violence. Somebody does not want the center to be build and they are instigating the gangs to stop the building process. Added to that Rafael Murphy, a marine-turned-coffee-barista, is offering protection against the gangs. However, he seems oddly familiar. When she comes to know who he is, she realizes that the secrets he knows about her past could jeopardize her current relationships.
This is the first time I am reading Karen Ball and I was riveted to the pages of the book. The story of Kyla as she finds the strength and courage to face her past and the gang trouble is something that most people can identify with. The characters had depth to them and solutions were not hit upon easily. The idea that even if you know God and Jesus life is not easy, life is not a bed of roses was portrayed clearly. Knowing God is not a ticket to blissfulness and no difficulties. The second-chance giving nature of God can be seen throughout this novel as Kyla struggles not only with her newly found friendships but also with her relationship with God. This book is an excellent read! I am definitely going to read the first two books in this series.

What Lies Within

Nothing’s going to stop Kyla…until the ground crumbles beneath her feet.
Kyla Justice has arrived. Her company, Justice Construction, is one of the most critically acclaimed, commercially successful companies in the Pacific Northwest. And yet, something is missing. Not until she’s called on to build a center for inner-city kids does she realize what it is: her sense of purpose. Now nothing can stop her, not the low budget, not supply problems, not gang opposition, not her boyfriend’s suggestion that she sell her business and marry him–and most especially not that disagreeable Rafael Murphy.
Rafe Murphy understands battle. Wounded in action, this Force Recon Marine carries the scars–and the nightmares–to prove it. Though he can’t fight overseas any longer, he’s found his place as a warrior in the civilian world. So he soldiers on, trusting that one of these days, God will reveal to him why Rafe survived the ambush in Iraq. That day has arrived.
Kyla and Rafe both discover that determination alone won’t carry them through danger and challenges. When gang violence threatens their very foundations, there’s only one way to survive: rely on each other, be real–and surrender to God. In other words, risk everything…

To Buy this Book:

About the Author: Karen Ball

Karen Ball , bestselling novelist, is also the editor behind several of today's bestselling Christian novels. Her love for words was passed down through her father and grandfather - both pastors who shared God's truth through sermons and storytelling. Blending humor, poignancy, and honesty, Karen's writing style is a powerful force for revealing God's truth. She lives in Oregon with her husband, Don, and their "kids," Bodhan, a mischief-making Siberian husky, and Dakota, an Aussie-terrier mix who should have been named "Destructo."

Friday, December 7, 2007

Bluegrass Peril Review

One warm, beatuiful day, Becky Dennison's life changed drastically: she stumbled upon the body of her dead boss. When she is suspected of the crime, she relies heavily upon the help of the manager of the neighboring horse ranch, Scott Lewis. Together they must unravel the mystery surrounding Becky's boss's death and make sure that they both come out alive.
This story was very well written but real-life characters. The plot line was engaging with twists and turns. However, this book was lacking an element of suspense. An element of suspense is what drives novels of this kind. And this story did not seem to have that. Otherwise, this is a great read. The importance of the love of God and the fact that he has a plan for our lives are portrayed clearly throughout the novel. This is a great, sweet read for one of those cold, snowy nights by the fireplace!

Bluegrass Peril

Local police had tagged single mom Becky Dennison as their prime suspect. But she'd only been in the wrong place at the wrong time...admittedly, with her boss's lifeless body. Sure it looked bad, but Becky had no motive for killing...even if she had opportunity.When the director of the retirement farm for thoroughbred champions is murdered, Becky Dennison teams up with the handsome manager of a neighboring horse farm, Scott Lewis, to find her boss's killer. Soon the amateur detective are hot on the trail of the murderer...even as their feelings for each other deepen.The amateur sleuths uncover a trail of clues that lead them into the intricate society of Kentucky's elite thoroughbred breeding industry. They soon find themselves surrounded by the mint julep set - jealous southern belles and intensely competitive horse breeders - in a high-stakes game of danger, money, and that famous southern pride.And for Becky and Scott, this race on the Kentucky tracks has the greatest stakes of all: life or death!

The book link is:

About the Author

Virginia Smith left her job as a corporate director to become a full time writer and speaker in the summer of 2005. Since then she has contracted eight novels and numerous articles and short stories.She writes contemporary humorous novels for the Christian market, including her debut, Just As I Am (Kregel Publications, March 2006) and her new release, Murder by Mushroom (Steeple Hill, August 2007). Her short fiction has been anthologized, and her articles have been published in a variety of Christian magazines.An energetic speaker, Virginia loves to exemplify God’s truth by comparing real-life situations to well-known works of fiction, such as her popular talk, “Biblical Truths in Star Trek.”

Saturday, December 1, 2007

America's future if Christians don't Pray - The Minor Protection Act Review

3 stars
Christian Fiction
The Minor Protection Act
Jodi Cowles
VMI Publishers

Lawyer Jack Stone has the opportunity to make history. The suicide of Jayla Jessup after listening to Nick, a Christian friend, talk against her lifestyle of homosexuality has made national headlines and Jack Stone is the lawyer prosecuting the case against the parents of Nick for teaching him to hate. He wins the case against the parents. This propels him to overnight stardom. Soon the President of the United States calls and assigns him the major task of implementing the Minority Protection Act – taking children away from homes where parents teach them to hate and where parents teach them Christianity is the only true religion. This act is put in place. But soon Jack Stone comes to realize that what he did is wrong and that it is causing more damage than it is helping America. Will he able to stop this slide into disaster, a disaster that he helped create? Can he redeem himself?
First time author Jodi Cowles writes a very scary novel. With the way things are in the United States of America, the scenario around which her whole story revolves is painfully possible. The truth of the novel and the possibility of it becoming reality are always in the back of the readers’ mind as they go through the novel. The writing is more description than dialogue. Hence, it is difficult to get into the story initially. But once the main characters are introduced and the story gets on its way, it was very attention grabbing. Also, the many characters in the book sometimes makes the reading confusing. But overall, it is an excellent novel with a new story line that pinpoints problems that North American Christians need to be aware of.

The Minor Protection Act

It is December 1st, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!

This month's feature author is:

and her book:

The Minor Protection Act
Musterion (December 1, 2005)


Jodi Cowles caught the travel bug when her parents took her on her first international flight at six months of age. Since then she’s been in over 30 countries. Along the way she’s gotten locked out of her cabin on an all night train to Kiev, helped deliver a baby in Indonesia, taught English in South Korea, gone spelunking in Guam, hiked the Golan Heights and laid bricks in Zimbabwe. Her interest in politics stems from hunting Easter eggs on the south lawn of the White House as a child. For her 30th birthday she ran the LA Marathon and promised to get serious about publishing. Jodi resides in Boise, Idaho and this is her first novel.


If the politically correct set was searching for a poster couple, they would need to look no further than Erik and Roselyn Jessup. In college they lit up doobies while attending passionate speeches about legalizing marijuana and freeing Tibet. Erik was even arrested once for helping break into an animal research center. Roselyn bailed him out. After five years of dating they decided to tie the knot. Seven years later, after Roselyn had enough time to get established in her career, she gave birth to their pride and joy, Jayla Lynn Jessup.

Both had satisfying full-time jobs that left them only enough time to pour themselves into Jayla. They attended every event at school, even if it meant working overtime and paying the after school program for a few extra hours. When Jayla made the principal's list or won a spelling bee, they were cheering, and filming, from the front row.

Jayla began junior high at a brand new school with a brand new curriculum. It was being called "progressive" in the papers; the first program of its kind implemented in California with plans for a nationwide rollout over the next 10 years. Praise poured in from around the country, applauding the straight talk about sexuality and focus on tolerance.

Erik and Roselyn were thrilled to have their daughter in this groundbreaking program. Granted, it took several phone calls to district authorities to accomplish the transfer and Roselyn had to drive an extra 30 minutes each morning to drop off Jayla, but it was quite a coup to brag about in their circle of friends.

Jayla turned 13 two years into junior high. For her birthday she told her parents she wanted to order pizza and hang around the house – there was something she needed to tell them. Over pepperoni and Coke, Jayla calmly informed them that she'd been discussing it with her friends and teachers and had decided she was gay.

Though she had never had a girlfriend, or a boyfriend for that matter, Erik and Roselyn were quick to affirm her decision and let her know she had their full support. Roselyn applauded her daughter's honest, courageous move and told Jayla how proud she was. Erik was also supportive and went so far as to tease Jayla about her best friend Sara.

There weren't too many lesbians in her junior high and Jayla had a pretty average experience, but she attracted attention when she entered high school wearing the rainbow buttons specially purchased by her mother. Soon she was 15 and seriously involved with Carla, the 17-year-old senior who was President of the Gay Pride Club. When Erik and Roselyn saw the relationship deepening they sat Jayla down and had a heart to heart "sex talk," encouraging her to be responsible and safe, and only to have sex if she was truly in love.

She was. However, when the year ended Carla left for college on the east coast and broke off the relationship in a letter.

Jayla was heartbroken. Erik and Roselyn were quick to comfort, as any loving parents of a shattered teenager, but their answers seemed hollow to Jayla, their comfort cold. At 16 she began dabbling in drugs - a first for her.

By the time her senior year began the family bond that was once so strong had disintegrated to the degree that she seldom spoke to her parents unless it was to strike out in anger. She had not entered into another dating relationship, as much as they encouraged her in that direction. Rather, she seemed withdrawn from the world and spent endless hours either locked in her room or suspiciously absent. Finally, Roselyn had enough and took her to a doctor who prescribed an anti-depressant for teenagers that had just been released on the market.

By Christmas the medication seemed to be working. Jayla was coming around, spending more time at home. She seemed calmer and more at peace. They were even beginning to talk about college. But New Year's morning they found her dead, her anti-depressant bottle and a quart of vodka laying empty in the trash and a mass of journals and letters scattered around her in the bed.

Erik and Roselyn were devastated. Jayla had been their whole life. They dove into the letters and journals, trying to make sense of it all. What they found only served to inflame their anger. Some boy named Nick had been telling their daughter that she was a sinner, quoting Bible verses that said her sexual preference was an abomination before God. Jayla's journal was full of self-loathing, page after page about her relationship with Carla, page after page of rambling, agonizing pain. Why was she made like this if homosexuality was a sin? Why would her parents have supported her if it were an abomination? Why had she listened to the seventh grade teacher who told her experimentation was the best way to determine her sexuality? What was wrong with her?

They could hardly stand to finish it but they read every word. In the end their grief found relief, as it so often does, in bitterness and hatred. The day after Jayla's funeral, attended by hundreds of students from Jayla’s school, Erik and Roselyn met with the District Attorney. A year later, bitterness not yet assuaged, they went to see a lawyer. In the culture of America, where there is rarely tragedy unaccompanied by litigation, they found a willing law firm. Someone would pay.