Sunday, July 31, 2011


Story Description:

Light from a Distant Star is a gripping coming-of-age story with a brutal murder at its heart and a heroine as unforgettable as Harper Lee's "Scout."

It is early summer and Nellie Peck is on the cusp of adolescence - gangly, awkward, full of questions, but keenly observant and wiser than many of the adults in her life. The person she most admires is her father, Benjamin, a man of great integrity. His family's century old hardware store is failing and Nellie's mother has had to go back to work. Nellie's older half-sister has launched a disturbing search for her birth father. Often saddled through the long, hot days with her timid younger brother, Henry, Nellie is determined to toughen him up. And herself as well.

Three strangers enter Nellie's protected life. Brooding Max Devaney is an ex-con who works in her surly grandfather's junkyard. Reckless Bucky Saltonstall has just arrived from New York City to live with his elderly grandparents. And pretty Dolly Bedelia is a young stripper who rents the family's small, rear apartment and becomes the titillating focus of Nellie's eavesdropping.

When violence erupts in the lovely Peck house, the prime suspect seems obvious. Nellie knows who the real murderer is, but is soon silenced by fear and the threat of scandal. The truth, as she sees it, is shocking and unthinkable, and with everyone's eyes riveted on her in the courtroom, Nellie finds herself seized with doubt.

No one will listen. No one believes her, and a man's life hangs in the balance. A stunning evocation of innocence lost, Light from a Distant Star stands as an incredibly moving and powerful novel from one of America's finest.

My Review:

Thirteen-year-old Nellie Peck is a tall, thin girl whose observation skills are better than most academics.  Nellie is inquisitive and questions and analyzes everything.  The bane of her existence is her younger brother, Henry, whom she sees as too immature and takes on the task of toughing him up.

Nellie’s father, Benjamin, owns a fourth-generation hardware store that is failing making it necessary for his wife, Sandy to return to work at the hair salon.  They also have the added income from Dolly Bedelia who rents their small apartment at the back of their house.  Dolly makes a very interesting character in the story as she is a stripper who works at the local strip club.

Ruth, Nellie’s half-sister decides to launch a rather disturbing search for her birth father which only adds to the family’s myriad of problems.

Then there is a murder as violence breaks out in the Peck house and Nellie knows who the real murderer is but is “…silenced by fear and threat of scandal.”  When Nellie finally takes the stand in the courtroom, everyone is sitting at the edge of their seats with their eyes glued on poor Nellie.  But no one will believe her and a man’s life is on the line.

This was a riveting story, a coming-of-age story that I wouldn’t want to have lived, but then again, my name isn’t Nellie Peck.  No one could live this coming-of-age but Nellie and I see her as a heroine.  This was a novel that will make you laugh, worry, weep, and wonder.  My favourite character is Nellie and I wouldn’t mind having her as a sister for she’d drive you crazy on the one hand and make you want to love her all the more on the other.  This is one book well worth reading!

***Preview courtesy of Netgalley***

Friday, July 29, 2011


Story Description:

Deliver Me from Evil introduces readers to Mara, an eighteen-year-old girl who has been enslaved for nearly ten years, having been sold by her parents in Mexico and then smuggled across the border into San Diego where she was forced into sexual slavery. Readers will also meet 18-year-old, Bible-college-bound Jonathan and his 16-year-old sister, Leah, whose paths cross Mara's and who become involved in her dramatic rescue.

Interwoven between the stories of Mara, Jonathan, and Leah is the heartbreaking story of another young woman in captivity in the Golden Triangle of Thailand, whose past life mysteriously connects to the young people in San Diego.

My Review:

The story opens with Mara in a closet, lonely, afraid and beaten.  Her own father had sold her into a life of degradation, perversion, torture and abuse.  She arrived into the clutches of ‘Jefe’ and his two goons, the Enforcer and the Destroyer, at the tender age of 8 and she is now 18-years-old.  She has spent a decade suffering unimaginable agony and suffering.   Being meted out like a dog to men to do what they wish with her for a price.  If Mara dare be uncooperative in any way, she will suffer and writhe with pain by Jefe or his two goons far beyond what she suffers with the men in hotels. 

As new and younger girls are brought into this twisted and perverted society, Mara is to teach them the ropes and must ensure that all Jefe’s rules are followed by them for not only will they suffer, but Mara even worse.  They will be battered, bloodied and bruised beyond recognition.

We also meet a wonderful Christian family, the Flannery’s.  Dad is the Associate Pastor at their community church, Mom is a stay-at-home, and the kids, 18-year-old Jonathan and 16-year-old Leah are good kids who have a deep faith and a belief system that allows them to function in their daily lives as responsible and respectable citizens.

Jonathan works as a pizza delivery boy and is about to graduate high school in two weeks.  In his job he delivers pizza orders to homes, apartments and even hotel rooms where he has his first encounter with Mara.

Meanwhile, we are introduced to Chanthra who lives in the Golden Triangle Region of Thailand and has a connection to Mara and the others.  Her story is absolutely wretched and heartbreaking. 

Ms. Machias has done an unbelievable job in presenting this story in a clear-cut and concise way.  Her writing is flawless and keeps you turning the pages.  Her ability to portray compelling characters that grapple with challenges to the extreme is remarkable.

The emotion this story elicited in me was gripping.  There are a lot of issues to grapple with in this novel that we all need to think about and its novels such as this one that often brings our attention to the plight of people around the world and in our own communities.  I would highly recommend this book for everyone.

***Thank you to netGalley for the preview copy***

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Story Description:

Take a trip to Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania, where you'll meet the women of the Kauffman Amish Bakery in Lancaster County. As each woman's story unfolds, you will share in her heartaches, trials, joys, dreams ... and secrets. You'll discover how the simplicity of the Amish lifestyle can clash with the "English" way of life-and the decisions and consequences that follow. Most importantly, you will be encouraged by the hope and faith of these women, and the importance they place on their families.

Naomi's Gift re-introduces twenty-four-year-old Naomi King, who has been burned twice by love and has all but given up on marriage and children. As Christmas approaches-a time of family, faith, and hope for many others-Naomi is more certain than ever her life will be spent as an old maid, helping with the family's quilting business and taking care of her eight siblings. Then she meets Caleb, a young widower with a 7-year-old daughter, and her world is once again turned upside-down.

Naomi's story of romantic trial and error and youthful insecurities has universal appeal. Author Amy Clipston artfully paints a panorama of simple lives full of complex relationships, and she carefully explores cultural differences and human similarities, with inspirational results.

Naomi's Gift includes all the details of Amish life that Clipston's fans enjoy, while delivering the compelling stories and strong characters that continue to draw legions of new readers.

My Review:

Caleb Schmucker and his eight-year-old daughter, Susie, return home from Ohio to Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvannia for the Christmas holidays.  Caleb’s wife, Barbara, who he’d been married to for 10 years had passed away two years ago from an accident.

Susie is such precocious and vivacious little girl and she enjoys befriending people and she did just that at the mall she and her Dad went to.  Susie saw some Amish quilts she liked and ran over to the display and struck up a conversation with a woman named Naomi who was quite attractive and had beautiful eyes.  Naomi, even in those few moments that she spoke with Susie, adored the child.  Susie had told Naomi that her Mamma was going to teach her how to quilt one day but she died and was now in Heaven.  Naomi was deeply saddened for Susie and the news tugged at her heartstrings.

A few days’ later Caleb runs into Naomi at a family function and they struck up a friendly conversation but Caleb’s nosy and interfering sister, Sadie, had other plans for Caleb.  She wanted Caleb to strike up a conversation with Irene Wagler and perhaps end up courting and marrying her one day as she felt that he was too young to stay a widow forever and little Susie needed a Mom.  However, Caleb made it quite clear to Sadie that he was not in the market for a new wife and couldn’t betray his beloved Barbara.

Naomi had lost two previous loves and now believed God meant for her to take care of her parents and never find love again.

Both Caleb and Naomi are struggling with different aspects of love.  Caleb doesn’t feel he can love someone else after Barbara and Naomi feels she’s already been given two chances and failed at both so there was no further hope for her.  Perhaps they both need to give it up to God and let Him decide what is right for these two lost souls.

I enjoyed the characters in this novella and delighted in the traditions of the Amish, but one thing stuck out for me in this story and that was “gossip”.  In my opinion, Christians in general believe that the Amish with their strict orders are immune to gossip and rumour but that is apparently not true.  They are just as susceptible to gossip as the rest of us Christians.  Christian or not, none of us are exempt from this unappreciated quality and it unfortunately harms and hurts people, congregations, and communities, but we’re not a perfect society.

Amy Clipston has written a lovely novella that will tug at your heart strings and make you realize that our life doesn’t always go the way we want it to go because there is a higher power at work.  I would definitely recommend this to everyone.

****Thank you to  netGalley for the preview.****

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Story Description:

A widow with two small children, Amelia is struggling to make ends meet. She is running her late husband's business, but it's not what she was raised to do, which is run a home. When she gets an offer for the business from Eli Fischer, she's only too relieved to consider it-especially when it looks like Eli's interest might include more than just the shop. But when she begins to experience strange physical symptoms and is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, it's difficult not to question God's will. Because how fair would it be to allow a man to marry her when she may not be able to be a wife to him for long?

My Review:

Amelia Beiler was married to her beloved husband, Enoch, for 10 wonderful years before he passed away eleven months ago in a buggy accident. The had two boys together: Matthew, 8 and Elam, 6. Amelia is still wearing her black mourning clothes and Kapp to respect her husband’s death. She is busy trying to run her husband’s business, keep up with duties at home, take care of her children, attend her regular quilting bee with her best friends since childhood, Carrie and Emma. Amelia isn’t cut out for business but when she is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis her world turns upside down. Offers for the business pour in and she doesn’t want to offend anyone by choosing one person’s offer over another.

Amelia struggles with thinking on her own inside a community that is strict about its rules and frowns on independence but praises obedience. When the Bishop and Deacon tell Amelia that she cannot do something she put in a request for, her independent thinking just might get her into trouble.

The story was beautifully written and I loved the closeness of Amelia, Carrie and Emma. I felt like I was with them on the days they got together to work on their quilt. I would highly recommend this novel to anyone.

A great feature of the book is that each novel in the series has instructions in the back on how to make the same quilt they are making in the story. You are provided with step-by-step instructions and drawings so you can’t go wrong. Pick up a copy, read the story and start making the quilt with Amelia, Carrie and Emma!

***Thank you to netGalley for the review copy***

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


                        ***Note:  Book will be out on store shelves October 1, 2011***

Story Description:

Ride the rollercoaster of Shiloh Jacobs’s life as her dreams derail, sending her on a downward spiral from the heights of an AP job in Tokyo to penniless in rural Virginia. Trapped in a world so foreign to her sensibilities and surrounded by a quirky group of friends, will she break through her hardened prejudices before she loses those who want to help her? Can she find the key to what changed her estranged mother’s life so powerfully before her death that she became a different woman—and can it help Shiloh too?

My Review:

I totally fell in love with the characters in this story.  The Southern charm, good wit, humour, kindness and deep belief in God make these people your next best friend!  Shiloh’s landing in Staunton, Virginia was the best thing that could ever have happened to her.  Not only does she gain a wild, unusual group of friends, but she discovers something about herself, her family and God along the way.  The writing was flawless, the characters well-developed and you’ll find yourself lost in the world of Shiloh and her new friends.  You’ll be doing yourself a great injustice if you miss this one!

***Thank you to netGalley for sending me the copy to review***

Saturday, July 23, 2011


ISBN:                      13:978-0-7783-2866-7
PUBLISHER:        Mira

This lovely novel contains 3 classic stories from bestselling authors.

 Story #1 – The Way Home by Linda Howard

Story Description:  Anna Sharp risked her heart on a man who told her upfront he would never be more than her lover.  But when Saxon Malone learned she was pregnant with his child, he found himself suddenly a father…and wanting more of Anna than he had ever imagined possible.”


This was such a sweet story.  Intense in the beginning as the relationship between Anna and Saxon was full of sexual fire!  As the story moves along, the ever quiet, withdrawn Saxon begins to knock down the walls he built around himself when he learns of Anna’s pregnancy.  The protective walls he built were for good reason but as the impact of the impending birth of his child drew near, with Anna’s help Saxon begins to spread his wings and free himself of the ties that had bound him since he was a child.

 Story #2 – The Paternity Test by Sherryl Woods

Story Description:  The stick turned blue on Jane Dawson’s pregnancy test just in time to stop her biological clock from running wild.  But there was just one small problem – she’d unwittingly thrown her former flame into daddyhood!”


Ahhh, what a satisfying sweet love story.  I was so enamoured in the tale that I just had to read it in one sitting.  The story just goes to prove that “real” love does conquer all! 

Story #3 – The Stranger’s Son by Emilie Richards

Story Description:  Devin Fitzgerald was a talented, successful rock musician…and thinking about a change.  But he hadn’t planned on the biggest change of all: fatherhood.  Now he wanted to share the joys of raising his son – only, he’d have to convince Robin Lansing to let him into her life…and her heart.”


This was an amazing story and we learn that when we are honest and truthful about our feelings, great things happen.  When we try to blind ourselves to the deep truths we each hold inside, we become sad people.  Integrity is the key to a lot of our happiness.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

SUNSET BRIDGE (EMILIE RICHARDS) **A Happiness Key Novel - Book #3

ISNB #:      13:0778312380

Publisher:  Mira (June 28, 2011)

# Of Pages:    512

BOOK Description

Former socialite Tracy Deloche has nothing to her name but five ramshackle beach cottages and the unlikely friendships she's formed with her tenants. Wanda, wise waitress turned popular pie-shop owner. Janya, the young Indian wife whose arranged marriage surprises her every day. Alice, a widow raising her complex tween-age granddaughter. And Maggie, Wanda's daughter, a former Miami cop with a love life as complicated as Tracy's own.
The new man in Tracy's life hasn't mentioned love or commitment— and Tracy has just discovered she's pregnant. Janya longs to be a mother—and suddenly has two young siblings in her care. Maggie helps out at Wanda's Wonderful Pies…but is the kitchen big enough for both Gray women? And Alice may lose her beloved granddaughter to someone no one expected….

As a tropical storm brews, the wind carries surprises and secrets over the bridge to Happiness Key. Now, more than ever, five friends will discover just how much they need one another.


I was totally mesmerized by this story and it had me sucked in from beginning to end.  I loved all the characters and the story is so well written that I had a vivid picture in my mind of what the community of Happiness Key looked like.  I really felt like I was welcomed into the story by the characters and was right there with them.
Wanda’s pie shop was especially intriguing to me and I loved the bantering back and forth between Wanda and her daughter Maggie, it made for great entertainment!  Although you get the impression that Wanda seems to grate on Maggie’s nerves with her forthcoming attitude and verbal challenges, you also know that deep down, Maggie loves her mother very much.  I could picture perfectly in my mind one of those old-fashioned bakery shops and could almost smell the flavour of the pies Wanda was baking.  At one point, I even begged my husband to go to the store and at least buy me some butter tarts!  I’m not kidding, that’s how much the writing in this story affected me.
The mixture of ages and the different backgrounds of the 5 women involved played well in this story and the addition of 70-something Alice rounded out the cast quite well.  (I’m so partial to the elderly!)
As this wonderful group of women get together they share each other’s trials and tribulations always willing to pitch in and help with each other with their problems, and their concern was genuine.  Isn’t this the same type of caring we women seek from our own community of friends?
Finally, when a hurricane threatens their community of Happiness Key, this band of women will discover just how much they really do need each other.  Ms. Richards has written a novel filled with love, humour, caring and shows us the fantastic relationships we women carve out for ourselves.  We all strive for that best friend feeling, the people you can really count on and shows us that although there are many facets to a friendship and many ups and downs, true friendship will weather any storm and last forever.
This was my first Emilie Richards novel and I plan on purchasing the other 2 books in this Happiness Key series, plus all the novels in the Ministry is Murder series.
Thank you Ms. Richards for providing me with a few hours of friendship with the wonderful women of Happiness Key.  This story will stay with me for a long time to come.

Monday, July 18, 2011



Trapped by obligation, one woman longs for the freedom of true love.
It is 1844 and Lacey Bishop's life is a tangled mess. When circumstances move Lacey to a nearby Shaker village, she is not prepared for the new life that awaits her. In the midst of her deep loneliness, Lacey works to fit in with this odd group. But everything shifts when she finds herself drawn to a Shaker man in a village where such relationships are forbidden.
Can Lacey ever find true happiness in this mysterious place?


I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  The novel is set in 1844 and was filled with such precise emotion to the point I could almost feel what the characters were feeling.  Lacey especially had a big impact on me.  As a mother I could feel her crushing pain and aching heart at being separated from her four-year-old daughter, Rachel.  She was unhappy in the Shaker village but her arrival there was beyond her control.  Lacey had no choice but to follow her preacher husband to the Shaker village after two people from their village came to speak to him and convinced him that he needed to repent and beg for forgiveness.  She was terribly unhappy in her marriage as it was done strictly as a convenience and she has never been a proper wife to Reverend Elmer Palmer.  Lacey longs to feel a man’s arms around her, someone to love her, to understand her and to take care of her the way every woman wants to be loved and cared for.

 I also felt for Isaac Kingston because in a way, he and Lacey were both stuck in the same situation and both wanted the same things but their fight to achieve their goals was not an easy one.  They just couldn’t understand the way of the Shakers.  Both Isaac and Lacey arrived in the Shaker community of Harmony Hill under completely different circumstances. 

 Isaac carried an overwhelming amount of guilt after losing his wife, Ella, and this prevents him from moving forward in his life as quickly as the community around him believed he should.  Isaac also felt he didn’t deserve to laugh or to enjoy himself.  He shrouded himself in such feelings of doom and gloom and pulled those emotions even tighter around himself like pulling a belt tighter and tighter around his waist.  He too was looking for love again but was undecided in his thinking.  With the over-whelming guilt over Ella, stirring feelings for one of the women at the Shaker Village and the undeniable amount of guilt he feels prevents him from growing in his life and in his faith. 

 Both Lacey and Isaac were confused about the many rules and rituals of the Shaker society and often found themselves being called-out by one of the Elders for some wrongdoing.  There were several scenes that were emotion inducing and prodded me toward the tissue box on the table beside me.  The Shakers were a very odd and unique community of people.

 Will Lacey and Isaac ever find happiness again?

There was great character development, the pacing was right on and there is a wonderful moral to this story but you’ll have to find that out on your own when you read the book.  Don’t miss this incredible journey of love, understanding, faith and Lacey’s determination to find God’s truth and happiness.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

Friday, July 8, 2011


It's 1982 and thirty-two-year-old Danny Lim has returned to his parent's home after leaving at age eighteen to escape the constant demands of his father the continual questioning from his mother.  He has returned because his sister, Cindy, told him: "I can't do it by myself anymore...all they do is wonder where I am."  Danny felt he never really belonged.  He had been meeting Cindy for drinks once a week for the last thirteen years at various bars and restaurants in the Vancouver area. 
Danny enters the house where Cindy is waiting with a pair of slippers for him.  He immediately feels unwell and tells Cindy he thinks he's going to be sick.  He then tells her: "we could leave together.  Let's get the hell out of here...get your shoes, my car is right outside."  Cindy responds in a clipped voice: "they need me.  Maybe you've forgotten Danny I'm not you." 

Doug and Betty, Danny's parents each blame each other for Danny leaving.  Doug is not very welcoming when Danny steps into the living room and says hello to his father.  Doug retorts: "So, you're haven't visited once all this time.  What makes you think I want to see you?"

Danny works as a photographer during the day and is still waiting for that one photo that will make him famous.  At night he walks around Stanley Park where he harbours a secret.

Back in 1958 he met a burlesque dancer he formed a connection with.  Her name was Miss Val, a.k.a. the Siamese Kitten.  She had given Danny a green silk belt and he remembers the kindness and understanding she showed him.  He decides to find her.  It was Miss Val's easy acceptance of him so long ago that propels him to locate her.  Danny felt more accepted Miss Val in those brief few minutes than he ever did with his own parents.

I really enjoyed this novel as I could relate to the non-acceptance that Danny felt.  His parents were not the loving and understanding parents that he so craved but he found that in just those few minutes with Miss Val.  It makes me feel terrible for Danny to think that a few minutes of someones undivided attention and easy going personality could make Danny feel accepted, something his own family couldn't achieve in thirty-two years!

Danny was a solitary soul who carried a secret that bothered him.  Something he couldn't understand himself.  I think it derived from the feeling of being unloved and non-accepted by his family.  How can you grow up without that safe, settled, accepted feeling and not turn out to be a loner?  I just think how deeply this non-acceptance has hit Danny that he would want to search out someone who accepted him for a few short minutes some twenty odd years ago. 

The writing was paced just right and delved into the life of the protagonist with precise timing.  A careful eye and profund ability to lead us on this journey with Danny makes you feel as though you are there, going through every step with him.  If I had to rate this book I would give it a five out of five.

July 8, 2011

Sunday, July 3, 2011


Mira Gallier is a stained glass artist making beautiful stained glass windows and panels. She knows how to mix colours well and produces the most brilliant or serene coloured pieces depending on what her client requests. One of her most beautiful pieces of work was the twelve glass panels that measured twelve feet by five feet that depicted a scene from the life of Christ on each panel. These were installed at Sisters of Mercy Catholic church.
Mira's husband Jeff, was killed during hurricane Katrina in New Orleans where they lived. It had been six years since Jeff's death but Mira still had a hard time coping and she was fighting a drug addiction to Xanax that helped her mask the pain of losing the love of her life.
Father Girod was near seventy-years-old and had been the long-time Priest of Sisters of Mercy Catholic church, but sadly, he was found lying dead, his head bashed in, at the front of the church. Who would have done such a thing? Along with a dead Priest, the police found the twelve stained glass panels desecrated with graffiti. Mira was almost sick when she heard the news about Father Girod and the damaged panels. As soon as the crime scene was re-opened, Mira and her assistants, Deni and Chris were allowed in to clean the panels. It was a gruelling task but a successful one after thirty-six hours of hard work!
After finishing up at the church, Mira and her assistants decided to stop at their favourite watering hole, The Corner Bar, for one drink before heading home for the night. On their way out of the bar Mira noticed a man huddled on the sidewalk, one of the city's many homeless. Mira felt sorry for him and gave him $20 dollars. The man started reciting bible verses telling Mira: "The Lord protects his Lambs." Mira agreed with him and made him promise he'd get something to eat with the money she'd given him.
The following day Mira was in her studio early getting ready to work on some stained glass pieces for a client when she heard someone moving through the retail area. Of course, she immediately thought it was her assistant Deni, and called out to her. She heard the pocket door slide open, turned and realized it wasn't Deni. It was the homeless man from the night before! He took a step toward her and she saw what looked like a knife and he was spewing terrible things about the bible. As she began to move away from him she realized he wasn't holding a knife but instead a long thin shard of glass. Suddenly, from outside they could hear voices, it was Deni and Chris. The man heard them too and in the next instant he lunged at her going for her throat. Mira screamed and his fingers, slippery with blood, clawed at her neck. She fell backwards into the worktable while the man was running toward the fire escape to get away. Mira was shaking when Deni and Chris reached her. Once on her feet she realized all the blood on her shirt and neck weren't hers, but that of the man's. He had cut his hands with the shard of glass. But, Mira did notice one thing, he had ripped from her neck the cloisonne cross necklace that Jeff had bought for her on their honeymoon in Portugal.
After thinking about the Priest being killed, the damaged stained glass panels and now the attack on Mira, she thought it perhaps might be the same person, namely, the homeless man. Mira immediately called the Detective in charge of the Priest's death.
It continues, one-by-one, the people in Mira's life are targeted, until it's clear that the killer has been saving her for last...and that there's nowhere left to run.
This is one unbelievable story!! Get ready to stay up all night with this heart-pounder. You won't be able to turn the pages fast enough.
July 3, 2011