Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"The Koala of Death" by Betty Webb

Are you looking for a fun, interesting murder mystery? Well, I have one for you in "The Koala of Death" by Betty Webb. Teddy Bentley lives on the "Merilee" and works at the Gunn Zoo. After finding the body of Koala Kate in the water next to her boat, Teddy is thrown into the mystery of who killed her and why. Along the way, Teddy learns to do a television show, finds another body, does some investigating on her own (much to her boyfriend's chagrin), discovers a family secret, and is almost killed. Come meet Teddy, her boyfriend Joe (the Sheriff), Aussie Outback Bill, Teddy's rich mother Caro, Speaks to Souls, and the animals from the zoo. They will all keep you entertained as you solve the mystery.
I really enjoyed this book. It was a quick read and kept my interest all the way through. I will be looking to read more books by Betty Webb, including the first Zoo Mystery, "The Anteater of Death."

"Flight of Shadows" by Sigmund Brouwer

Caitlyn is a "freak" even in this post-apocalyptic society. She is being chased by Mason, an evil man bent on killing her. The ones he works for want what made her "special" or "freakish." The product of a scientific experiment, Caitlyn has been hiding "Outside" for a while making it however she can, but after being caught up in a night battle, finds herself linked with Razor. While initially stand-offish and nervous, Caitlyn partners with Razor for safety. Through their investigation into Caitlyn's past and what makes her special, they form a bond that is almost unbreakable. What does the hump on her back signify? What does the black microfabric hide? Which type of person would you be - Influential, Industrial, Invisible, or Illegal?

I had a hard time getting into this book, and that may be because I haven't read the first one, "Broken Angel." At points the book is very dark and difficult to read, but most post-apocalyptic books are. I did like the characters and will be getting the first installment of this series and then will reread this one. I recommend it to anyone who likes post-apocalyptic books (like "The Road") and also think it would also make an interesting choice for book group discussions.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"The Secrets Beneath" by Kathleen Fuller

Becky Yoder lives in Middlefield, Ohio; a community inhabited by both the Amish and the "Yankees." She is thirteen and very inquisitive. The house next door to her home had been empty for some time, when suddenly odd things start happening. First, there is an old man with a van and then a scary looking man with lots of tattoos. Becky's curiosity is peeked when she sees the old man digging in the backyard at night. What is he doing? Is he burying something or looking for something? Another mystery drops into Becky's lap as her cousin Amanda arrives from Paradise, PA. Becky is very surprised to learn that Amanda may stay with her for the entire school year. She knows she shouldn't spy or but into another person's business, but questions pop into her head anyway. What has happened to Amanda's mother? Will she be able to make Amanda feel welcome and safe? Throughout the story, Becky learns that secrets are secret for a reason. Sometimes you just need to pray for a good outcome even when you don't know everything.

Kathleen Fuller writes about the Amish with knowledge and skill. Her research and love for the people is evident. I have read "adult" books by Ms. Fuller, and was pleased to have the opportunity to read this YA novel, which is the second in her "Mysteries of Middlefield" series. The characters are realistic and the mysteries will keep you guessing until the end. This book will make a great gift for any teenager, and is a wonderful read for adults as well. I received my free copy through the Book Sneeze program and am very happy to write a review for the book. I also recommend any books by Kathleen Fuller to you.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

"Vixen" by Jillian Larkin

The Roaring 20's, radically different from today. Really? Are people or their choices really different today, or is it the day in which we are living. Seventeen seems to be the age of stretching and reaching beyond the bounds, and that is true for Gloria Carmody, Lorraine Dyer, and Clara Knowles. While Gloria and Lorraine come from the privileged life of Chicago, Lorraine grew up in PA, but ran away to NYC. The three are brought together for the upcoming wedding of Gloria to Sebastian Grey. But when illegal activities like drinking and the speakeasy life beckon; or unheard of relationships like those between a black man and a white woman or the opportunity for a relationship with a gangster come into focus, what will their choices be? "Vixen" will keep you on the edge of your seat and leave you wanting more!

I had the privilege to read "Vixen" as part of Barnes & Noble's First Look Group. Jillian Larkin has a hit on her hands with this YA novel, a novel that will appeal to readers of all ages. Her study of the time period and attention to detail transported me to the time of flappers and speakeasies. Her characters are real, as are the situations they find themselves in. I found myself cheering, booing, and becoming teary-eyed while reading. This is a great book for young adults, as well as those not quite "young" anymore, and for reading/discussion groups. There are three promised in The Flappers series, with "Ingenue" coming out in August 2011, and after that "Diva." Not only will it be difficult to wait for "Ingenue" to come out, but I hope there will be more than three in the series! Well done, Jillian!

Monday, November 15, 2010

"Heaven is for Real" - audio version - by Ted Bumpo

Writing this book, "Heaven is for Real," must have been a challenge for Ted Burpo. After all, he had lived it. He and his wife had almost lost his son. Colton was four years old when he was misdiagnosed after his appendix burst and poison spilled into his body unchecked for days. They thought they would lose him. Thankfully, God had other plans. Once, healed, Colton began to tell his parents about heaven and what he saw there. It came out at odd times and in short spurts. While everything was matter of fact to Colton - the "markers" on Jesus, the angels singing, meeting his great grandfather and unborn sister, etc. - it was anything but to his parents. This story should bring hope and wonder to everyone who hears it.

I had the privilege of reviewing this audio book through the Oasis Audio Review Program.As a listener, I was totally drawn into the story with its roller coaster ride of emotions. There is a difference between reading a book and hearing the characters in your mind, and actually hearing a participant in the events read it to you. It was easy for me to hear the pain and anguish of a parent, the wonder and amazement of a child, and the hope and spirit of a Christian whose view of Heaven is expanded and renewed. This audio book would be a wonderful choice for anyone who is traveling; a great choice for families to listen to and discuss together; and as a choice for book discussion groups.
"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this audiobook free from Oasis Audio as part of their Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sunday, November 14, 2010

"To Fetch a Thief" by Spencer Quinn

Chet and Bernie are on the trail of a missing elephant and her trainer, but much more comes to play as their investigation unfolds. There are exotic animals showing up in odd places, a circus going down in ruin, a soon to be ex-husband complicating their case with vengeance of his own, and then there is Suzie Sanchez; all pieces in this third installment of the hit series by Spencer Quinn. Chet, the canine member of the Little Detective Agency, narrates the story. The elephant goes missing and as the investigation heats up, Leda is stalked. Who is stalking her and what does it have to do with the case? How is Marvin Winkleman involved and what is his double standard? How will things end up for Bernie and Suzie? The many twists and turns in this story will keep you reading and asking for more. Come find out more about Chet, Bernie, Suzie, Popo, and Peanut as their story unfolds.

"To Fetch a Thief" is another hit from Spencer Quinn. I love reading the story from Chet's point of view. The writing in interesting and the characters are captivating. I can't wait for the next installment and recommend the entire series to anyone who loves animals and mysteries. The other two books out already are, "Dog On It," and "Thereby Hangs a Tail." You also might want to check out Chet's website at: http://www.chetthedog.com/

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

"Heaven is for Real" by Todd Burpo w/ Lynn Vincent

He's just a little boy, only four years old. Could he really have visited heaven and come back to tell us about it? Colton and his family had gone on vacation to try to relieve some of the stress of his father's illnesses. But Colton ends up in the hospital with an emergency appendectomy. It gets worse as he has to undergo another surgery a week later. Thankfully he recovers and the family is on the road again. Colton relays some interesting information to his family about angels singing to him and sitting in the lap of Jesus while his father was praying and his mother was on the phone. How could he have known that? He also talks about other things he sees in Heaven (like Jesus' red "markers," gem/crown colors, wings) leading the family to wonder just what happened to Colton during surgery. This story is amazing.

This wonderful story gave me goosebumps as I read it. Did Colton really experience these things? I don't know. Some people may say that he is just repeating things he has heard in Sunday School, church, and at home. But I do know this, Heaven is for real! I recommend this book to people who love inspirational tales and will be giving it as gifts. Thank you to the Book Sneeze program for the opportunity to review this book!