Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"When Sparrows Fall" by Meg Moseley

Miranda is a widow with six children who is trying to keep things together on her family's remote property in GA. Suddenly, her pastor tells the congregation that God has told him to move everyone to NC. Miranda tries to stand up to him but is told she "shouldn't make waves" and should get ready to sell her property and move. To say that the pastor is legalistic, ultra conservative, and controlling is putting it mildly! Before Miranda can do much about staying put, she has a horrible fall and ends up hospitalized. Enter Jack, her brother-in-law. Jack comes to take care of the children and finds that while they while they are well-mannered and are being home schooled well, much is missing from that education and life. (i.e. computer, freedom in books) He wants to help the children and Miranda as well. Together Miranda and Jack work for the best of the children, disagreeing many times, and find more is in store for themselves. Can Jack help Miranda move from the ultra conservative life she is living enough to breathe? Will she ever get past the ghosts of her past? Can they find peace and love together? And what about Pastor Mason - will he move the group away?

This is the type of book that has me yelling "Run!" to the characters. It is hard to believe that these harsh belief systems still exist today, and Meg Moseley writes about it with compassion and clarity. I loved the characters, especially the children, and loved watching them as the little, subtle changes occurred. Trust was one thing that I watched grow through the story. This book will make a wonderful gift for an individual reader, but groups will also find this book has a wealth of discussion topics. Thank you to the Blogging For Books program for the opportunity to read and review this book.

Monday, May 30, 2011

"The Seraph Seal" by Leonard Sweet and Lori Wagner

"Then, really knowing something, being aware of something, means simply to be open to God's possibilities..." pg. 391

"The Seraph Seal" by Leonard Sweet and Lori Wagner is an apocalyptic thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat as you wait for the next shoe to drop. 21 December 2012, the date eight special people are born, each with a special birthmark. Thirty six years later, the earth is dying and the eight find they have choices to make. Two groups of four must come together, one group wanting to lead people to safety, the other desirous of power and glory. Paul Binder is the catalyst. As the earth quakes, seas cover the land, and the sun breaks through the atmosphere burning everyone in its path, Paul and his small group of new friends race against time to uncover the hidden truths of history. Will they be in time? What happens to the other four? Can the world truly be coming to judgment at God's hands?

For me, this book is a cross between the "Left Behind" series and "The DaVinci Code." I loved the fast paced story line and the movements between locations in the world. The quotations at the beginning of each section gave hints to what was coming. It was a good thing that I was on vacation when I got my free copy from the Book Sneeze program, because I couldn't put it down! The story raced to an unexpected end. Well done! This book is great for individual readers, but will also work for groups because the discussion opportunities are limitless. Thank you, Book Sneeze for the opportunity to read and review this book!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

"The Samaritan" by Stephen Besecker

What would you do if the person you loved was suddenly murdered and you had the "power" to track the killers down? Would you look to be the exacter of justice, or would you let the police take care of things? Kevin Easter is in that spot. His wife has been murdered and he wants revenge. He is a tracker with superior skills, but is it Kevin who roams the streets looking for the guilty? Or, is that what the killer wants the police to think? As their city continues to be embroiled in violence that threatens to overtake it, the police need to find the answer to the question, and fast!

This book gives the reader quite a ride. It is action and suspense from beginning to end, and you will find yourself questioning your own thoughts as you go along. The story is well told with vibrantly alive characters. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys crime/suspense/thriller books! Thank you to Net Galley for the copy I read on my Nook. I can't wait to read more by this author.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

"Keys to the Kingdom" by Senator Bob Graham

John Billington, a former Senator, is murdered on the eve of his meeting with Tony Ramos, a State Dept. analyst and former member of Mr. Billington's staff. The who and why of that murder is pivotal in this novel by Senator Bob Graham. "Keys to the Kingdom" is an international, political thriller dealing with Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Switzerland, the United States, and more; and what any of them had to do with 9/11. Tony is given information from the former Senator and finds that he is tasked with finding out who knew what about 9/11 and when they knew it. An unlikely partner for Tony is Laura, Senator Billington's estranged daughter.  The mystery and plot thicken as the reader turns each page, ultimately leading to information about nuclear devices. Why did Senator Billington trust Tony so much? Who was behind his murder? Will Laura help solve the puzzle and get back on solid footing with her family? Who has the nuclear devices and where do they want to detonate them?

This fast-paced political thriller held my attention all the way through. I had to keep reminding myself that it is a novel and the characters fictitious. If you enjoy political thrillers, this is a book you will enjoy. It could also make for some interesting book group discussions. Thank you to FSB Media for my copy and the opportunity to review this book.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

"The One Day Way" by Chantel Hobbs

"Don't get stuck in guilt or regret or blame. Choose to be extraordinary, and learn how to see each day's trials and disappointments as serendipity instead of setbacks." pg. 84

Weight loss is a struggle for many of us. In this book, Chantel Hobbs lays out some practical suggestions to help us on our way. It isn't about dieting. It isn't about blame. It is about change and the process of building what you want. Nothing worth doing is easy, but the suggestions and principles in this book encourage the reader that they are not alone and that they can do it. The three essential building materials of this book are faith, food, and fitness. The faith section deals with believing that you can make things happen. The food section has some wonderful meal plans. The fitness section is filled with exercises laid out in easy to follow instructions and photographs. The three building blocks will help you reach, and maintain, your goal of a healthy life.

I enjoyed reading this book and look forward to continuing with the principles. I found the exercises challenging, but easy to follow; and the meal plans were realistic. I also liked her "Ten Commandments" - boy, do they make sense! If you have had a hard time losing weight or even believing that you can, this book will be worth your time and energy. Thank you to the Blogging for Books program for my copy of the book!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

"The Skin Map" by Stephen R. Lawhead

Kit Livingstone leads a very boring life and you can see that clearly in his choice of his boring girlfriend, Wilhemina. Boring until the day Kit meets his great-grandfather, Cosimo, (supposedly long dead) while on his way to see Mina. This meeting changes his life completely. Kit begins to learn about "Ley Lines", parallel universes, and travel portals. He tried to explain this to Wilhemina; he even tried to take her with him. All that did was result in Wilhemina landing in another place and time; a place where she needs to find a way to survive. Kit and Cosimo begin to look for her, but their most important task is finding the "skin map." This powerful map was created by a man who mapped out all of the ley lines on his body. But, they are not the only ones looking for the map. Who will find the map first?  Will they find Wilhemina? What will happen between Mina and Etzel? Is it alright to move around in time and tweak events?

I had a hard time getting into this book, although I now want to read the rest of the series to find out how it ends. The story is set in England and jumped around too much for me. I did, however, get the hang of it about half way through. I recommend this book to those who love fantasy/sci-fi books. Thank you to the Book Sneeze program for my copy of the book! I loved reading it on my Nook.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

"#1 Ghost Diamond" by Michael Broad

Amelia Kidd fancies herself a secret agent. As such, Agent Amelia is always inventing new things to help her solve suspicious cases. She is always on the look out for things that are odd and out of the ordinary, as well as people who are acting funny. In this book, Amelia solves three cases: "The Case of the Ghost Diamond," "The Case of the Catnappers," and "The Case of the Whispering Weeds." Amelia's disguises and gadgets enable her to figure out who might want to steal the ghost diamond, who is stealing all the neighborhood cats and why, and the why and how of someone wanting weeds to take over the land. The pictures included in my "uncorrected proof" were a great addition to the story, and I hope they will be in the final edition.

This book is designed to hit the imagination and detective skills of children from the age of about seven to ten or eleven. It will make a great book for either parents to read to their children, or for children to practice their reading skills. It will also help children use their imagination as they put themselves in Amelia's shoes to solve the case before she does. This book will make a great gift for the children in your life when it comes out later this year. Thank you to Net Galley for my copy!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

"A Conflict of Interest" by Adam Mitzner

A story ripped from the headlines: "Brokerage firm bilks seniors out of life savings with worthless stock." Or is it as simple as that? Could the prosecution have an ulterior motive? Adam Mitzner takes his readers on a page-turning, winding road to get to the ultimate truth. Alex Miller is an important lawyer who always wants to believe in the innocence of his client. Michael Ohlig is an old friend of the family who needs help, but, he doesn't want Alex to tell his parents that he will be representing him. Why not? What possible harm could come from telling his family? From the beginning, the relationship between Adam and Michael has its secrets. Secrets that could either free or convict Michael; secrets that could shake Adam to his core. Is Michael the corrupt swindler the prosecution claims? Is he innocent? Or does the truth lie somewhere in the middle.  This legal thriller will grab you from the beginning and leave you wanting more from this author at the end.

Adam Mitzner has a hit on his hands! His characters and storyline kept me reading and guessing. I enjoyed the bantering in the law office, but also the description of the toll it takes on families and lives when someone forgets that there is more to life than a career. I love psychological legal thrillers, and this one didn't disappoint me. I can't wait to read more by this author. Thank you  FSB Media for the opportunity to read and review this book!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

An excerpt from "A Conflict of Interest" by Adam Mitzner

EXCERPT - A Conflict of Interest
by Adam Mitzner

The first time I set eyes on Michael Ohlig I was beside my father’s casket and he was standing toward the back of a group of mourners comprised almost entirely of my father’s extended family. Ohlig was a good half foot taller than everyone else, and unlike my paternal relatives, his head was covered with his own hair, a shade of silver usually reserved for much younger men anchoring the evening news. He wore it a little long, almost to the base of his collar, just enough to say that he fancied himself a nonconformist. I likely wouldn’t have noticed him at all if he hadn’t seemed so out of place. To be blunt about it, he looked too good to be associated with that crowd.Ohlig was twice my father’s closest friend—at the beginning and the endof his adult life. As far as I know, he was my father’s only friend, the thirty-some year gap in their contact seemingly occupied only by my mother and his hardware store.
The story I heard growing up was that Ohlig and my father were playing tennis at the courts in Central Park on the same day my mother was on a good Samaritan mission to keep a girlfriend company on the train from Queens to Manhattan, so her friend could watch her boyfriend play. My parents disagreed about which one of them approached the other, but the one part that never varied in either of their renditions was that it was love at first sight. They were married less than six months later, and I arrived in November the following year.
I don’t know why it never seemed odd to me that, in all the subsequent retellings, my parents provided little detail about Ohlig. I never knew what he did for a living or whether he was married or had children. If I had ever been told how he and my father came to be friends, or why they lost touch, it went in one ear and out the other. For me, he just seemed like a historical figure, no different from Caesar or John F. Kennedy; someone who I took on faith had actually existed, but who had no relevance to my life. Even when my father shared with me the coincidence of running into Ohlig at a bookstore shortly after my parents moved to their retirement community in Florida, and that he was now living in a neighboring town, I had little curiosity about Ohlig’s life.
Three times Ohlig poured a shovel full of dirt on my father’s casket, fulfilling the ritualistic last act of a Jewish burial. Each motion was deliberate, as if his movements were intentionally drawn out to prolong his time to say good-bye. But it was the powerful way he approached the shovel, and the force with which he yanked it from the dirt, that most caught my eye, stating unequivocally that he was not someone to challenge.
Watching this I had no inkling that Michael Ohlig would become the central thread in all that followed. Even now I can hardly fathom how it came to be that a man who had never been anything more than a minor character in the story of my life would come to dominate its plot.
Perhaps stranger still, Michael Ohlig would undoubtedly say the same thing about me.
Copyright © 2011 Adam Mitzner, author of A Conflict of Interest
Author Bio
Adam Mitzner is an attorney in New York City.
For more information please visit http://www.adammitzner.com and Amazon, and follow the author on Facebook

"The Moment" by Douglas Kennedy

Berlin, the Cold War and love. Present day Maine, a redone house, and divorce. These are the backdrops for this novel about love and choices by Douglas Kennedy. Thomas Nesbitt writes travel books and while doing so, isolates himself from his family. Divorce papers arrive on his doorstep intensifying his already tense mid-life crisis. Then, just as he is settling in to his new life, a box arrives with the name "Dussman" on it. The name brings with it memories of a very special love affair from the past. Ignoring the box and its contents only works for a while. Petra Dussman was Thomas' true love, the woman who stole his heart amidst the tragedy of a divided Berlin. As Thomas confronts the memories and the consequences of the choices that were made, the reader is completely drawn into the story of the two lovers. Douglas Kennedy uses this complex story to explore why people fall in love and how choices can totally change the lives of those involved. Is it really true that love conquers all? When is "the moment" that changes a life?
This intense novel was hard to put down. There were so many moments when I couldn't figure out why Petra and Thomas had separated, yet at the same time, I knew. The story has many twists and turns built around believable characters and settings. Not only is this a great book for historical fiction lovers, but will lend itself nicely to book club discussions. There is even a discussion guide available! Thank you to Simon and Schuster for my advanced reader's copy and the opportunity to review the book.

Monday, May 9, 2011

"The Girl in the Gatehouse" by Julie Klassen

Mariah has been sent away from her home and family to live in her aunt's gatehouse. Her only comfort is that her governess, Dixon, is with her. Knowing that no one in her family is to contact her, Mariah begins facing this new life with dread and loneliness. What could she possibly have done that would bring this banishment? She eventually meets her aunt, a seemingly harsh woman. When she dies, she leaves Mariah the key to a mysterious chest. But, her death also means that her step-son, Jack, is in charge. Immediately he begins charging Mariah rent, and she has to find a way to support herself or become homeless. Her love of writing (a huge taboo for women during this time) saves the day as her brother helps connect her with a publisher. During this time, Mariah also meets Captain Matthew Bryant, the man who is renting the main house to lift himself up in the world and win the hand of the woman he loves. Will he uncover her secret? What will happen between Matthew and Mariah?  How will Jack Strong play into this? The biggest question of all is, will she be able to keep her identity a secret while writing?
I enjoyed reading this book and highly recommend it to others. During the story, Mariah grows from being a timid, frightened woman to one who believes in herself and her talent for writing. I also enjoyed reading about the other characters in the book, especially the children living in the poorhouse. More secrets await the reader there. This book is great for historical fiction lovers and would make a great summer read. I received my copy from Bethany House and thank them for the opportunity to read and review the book!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

"Judgment Day" by Wanda L. Dyson

"...Because you see something, and you immediately make a judgment based on your own desire to be better than everyone else. You look for the worst, so you see the worst and condemn everyone you don't like." pg. 166

Suzanne Kidwell thought of herself as an investigative reporter, but the quote above was uttered about her and her show "Judgment Day." Suzanne wanted so badly to get the jump on others that she didn't always check the facts before destroying someone's life or reputation. Now, the shoe is on the other foot. Suzanne is accused of murder and with the evidence stacked against her, she turns to a former boyfriend and his PI partner. Marcus and Alex agree to find the real murderer and free her, setting in motion a series of events that they may be powerless to stop. Murder, extortion, deceit, kidnapping, organ harvesting, and more await the reader of this thriller! Come along as Marcus, Alex, and Jazz attempt to solve this case and make things right. Who will survive is anyone's guess!

This book was unputdownable for me! While I pegged the main murderer early on, the twists and turns kept trying to point me in a different direction and tell me I was wrong. This is a book I will read again and recommend to many of my friends and family. I think it makes a great read for an individual, but think groups would have a lot of fun dissecting it. I want to thank the Book Blogging program for my copy of the book! It was a pleasure to read and review.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

"The Atomic Weight of Secrets or The Arrival of the Mysterious Men in Black" by Eden Unger Bowditch

Science, invention, and mystery come together in this wonderful book by Eden Bowditch. Five children (Jasper, Lucy, Wallace, Noah, and Faye) find themselves in school together, away from their families and friends. Each has a scientific gift, and at first, none of them realized that each is part of an overall puzzle. As they work on their individual experiments, they worry about their families and what has happened to them. The children find enjoyment in each other and in their experiments, but they want to go home but they are watched constantly.  The "Men in Black" are interesting characters who are keeping the children against their will. Why are they being held away from their families? Will any of these talented young people escape the Men in Black and return to their homes and families? How long will it take for them to figure out that they are more powerful both as a team and in their inventions?
This novel wonderfully combines the love of science and math with youth and teamwork. It is geared for children and young adults, but everyone will enjoy the fun and intrigue this book brings. I highly recommend it for family libraries as it is a book that lends itself to being shared during family time. I will be buying copies for my grandchildren. Thank you to Net Gallery and Bancroft Press for the opportunity of getting a preview copy for my Nook! I can't wait for the next book in the series.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

"Invasion" by Jon S. Lewis

The Phantom Flyer, aliens of all types, people with red eyes, jet packs, flying motorcycles and more await the reader of this wonderful science fiction book! CHAOS is a secret government agency dedicated to closing the holes between our world and others, all the while dealing with threats as they develop. Colt is sixteen when everything in his world crashes around him. When he moves to Arizona to live with his grandfather, he comes to face to face with alien life forms. He steadily works to find out the reason behind his parent's deaths with the aid of his friends Dani and Oz, and what he uncovers could destroy the world as we know it. Will they uncover the plot in time? How does Hitler fit into the story? Who was the real Phantom Flyer? Who will survive the battle?

I really enjoyed this book. It is fast paced, and while geared for the young adult crowd, can be enjoyed by all. (It will remind many readers of times we would sit and read/imagine comic books with their heroes and villains.) There were moments of tenderness, suspense, thrill, and fear throughout the story that will keep you glued to the pages. Thank you to Net Galley for my copy. I read it on my Nook and thank them very much!