Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Review of Refuge on Crescent Hill

Refuge on Crescent Hill by Melanie Dobson is an exciting mystery/adventure story. Camden Bristow is at a crossroads at her life. She's just lost her job, has no money, and has nowhere to go. However, she remembers that the bright spots in her past were the times she spent with her grandmother who she hasn't visited in years. Her visit soon turns bittersweet when she discovers that her grandmother has passed away and left her historical home on Crescent Hill to Camden. Soon, strange occurrences lead Camden to believe that someone may be lurking around her new refuge. She rekindles her friendship with a childhood playmate Jenny, who seems to have something that Camden lacks- security and love. She also has to deal with her half-sister, Liza, a greedy woman who only wants Crescent Hill for the money. Her desire to sell the home to responsible owners who will restore Crescent Hill leads to Camden to meet Alex Yates, who seems to understand Camden's situation and wants her sell her home to the city. Yet could there be something more in his willingness to help?

Stories of runaway slaves, the Underground railroad, and the possibility that her new home was once a stop on the route, begins to become more and more real as Camden discovers a shocking secret kept hidden for generations. A secret that will not only change her life, but the life of the whole town.

Excellently written! I loved the mystery and history in this book. Camden was an extremely likable character, and the additional characters brought true depth. Jenny brought warmth and humor, Liza brought conflict, Alex brought romance, and the additional characters added beautifully. I enjoyed the idea of the past impacting the future, and I loved how the mystery tied together in the end. I thought I had it fairly figured out, but the author has a big surprise in the end. The main villains in the story are apparent from the beginning, but the author still manages to keep some surprises until the end. Loved it!

Some things to be aware of are mentions of domestic abuse and unwed mothers. However, all are portrayed in light that leads to restoration and hope.

All in all, I rate this book five out of five stars.

Specifics (from amazon.com):
~Paperback: 272 pages
~Publisher: Kregel Publications (March 11, 2010)

Note: Thanks for the publisher for providing me with a free copy of this book for reviewing purposes.

Special Note: So, you like free things, right? Well, Refuge on Crescent Hill will be available on Amazon Kindle FREE for one week starting October 31! Be sure to get your free e-copy! 


Monday, October 24, 2011

Review of Wings of a Dream

Wings of a Dream by Anne Mateer is the story of a woman who finds true love even in the midst of chaos and pain. Rebekah Hendricks is on her way to her dream. She has a handsome suitor, Arthur,who is an aviator who promises a life of adventure far away from her life in Oklahoma when they get married. However, war calls, and Arthur is sent to prepare to fly. Rebekah soon gets word that her aunt is very ill, so she reluctantly goes to help as it helps her be nearer to Arthur and her dream of a glamorous, adventurous life.

Her world is soon shaken with surprises and the terror of the Spanish flu. As the epidemic ravages the population of her aunt's town, Rebekah is forced to grow up and take care of four motherless children. She soon discovers the truth and a love that may be the wings of a dream she never would have imagined.

The threads of history and fiction were beautifully balanced in this book. I enjoyed how the aspects of history affected Rebekah in direct and indirect ways. The characters are distinct and bold, and I loved the idea that the heroine gets to choose who she marries. The children were an interesting aspect to the story. Their presence and need of Rebekah caused her to really mature in the story, and I appreciated that. The raw emotion of loss, confusion, and bravery is clearly and beautifully portrayed, yet the romance was slow-moving. It was nice to see a progression of true love instead of a WHAM, it's attraction! sort of thing.

I am so happy to say this book was clean. My only tiny disappointment was that the book seemed to end really quickly.

All in all, I rate this book four out of five stars. Well done!

Specifics (from amazon.com) :
~Paperback: 319 pages
~Publisher: Bethany House (September 1, 2011)

Note: Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a free copy of this book for reviewing purposes.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Review of Southern Fried Sushi

Southern Fried Sushi is the first book in a series by Jennifer Rogers Spinola. Shiloh is the epitome of successful. She's got a ritzy job with the Associated Press in Japan, has all the designer goods she wants, and is engaged to a Latin hottie. However, she soon finds her carefully constructed world shattering to pieces. When she finds out her estranged mother passed away, her fiance's female roommate begins to win his heart, and that she's been caught for plagiarizing, Shiloh is left penniless and lost in rural Virginia. She soon meets a group of people who are as Southern as they come. Her culture shock leads to a series of misadventures and life-changing experiences.

This book was great. I loved Shiloh's character and her experiences in adapting to Virginia after living in Japan for a long time. The humor was excellently written and the emotion scenes are moving. I really loved the spiritual truths in this book and how Shiloh learned of the Christian faith. This book isn't overly preachy, but it exposes a reader to what Christianity really is in a poignant way. The characters seemed like real people genuinely expressing their faith. The residents of Shiloh's new town were definitely endearing. Although I had a feeling some of the aspects of the book were exaggerated in the extent to country people, the storyline was really sweet and expertly dealt with some tough topics.

All in all, I rate this book five out of five stars. Highly recommended!

Specifics (from amazon.com):
~ Paperback: 384 pages
~ Publisher: Barbour Books (October 1, 2011)

Note: Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a free e-copy of this book for reviewing purposes.


Friday, October 7, 2011

FIRST: Review of Maggie's Journey!

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Realms (October 4, 2011)
***Special thanks to Kim Jones | Publicity Coordinator, Charisma House | Charisma Media for sending me a review copy.***


Lena Nelson Dooley is an award-winning author with more than 650,000 books in print. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers—where she received the Mentor of the Year award in 2006—DFW Ready Writers, and Christian Authors Network. She lives in Hurst, Texas, with her husband of over 45 years.

Visit the author's website.


A girl who’s been lied to her whole life…

On her eighteenth birthday, Margaret Lenora Caine finds a chest hidden in the attic containing proof that she was adopted. The daughter of wealthy merchants in Seattle, she feels betrayed both by her real parents and by the ones who raised her.

Maggie longs for a place where she belongs. But her mother’s constant criticism and reminders that she doesn’t fit the mold of a young woman of their social standing have already created tension in their home. With the discovery of the family secret, all sense of her identity is lost.

When Maggie asks to visit her grandmother in Arkansas, her father agrees on the condition that she take her Aunt Georgia as a chaperone and his young partner, Charles Stanton, as protection on the journey. Will she discover who she really is and, more importantly, what truly matters most in life?

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Realms (October 4, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616383585
ISBN-13: 978-1616383589

September 1885

Seattle, Washington Territory

Margaret Lenora Caine sat in the library of their mansion on Beacon Hill. Because of the view of Puget Sound, which she loved, she had the brocade draperies pulled back to let the early September sunshine bathe the room with warmth. Basking in the bright light, Maggie concentrated on the sketch pad balanced on her lap. After leaning back to get the full effect of the drawing, she reached a finger to smudge the shadows between the folds of the skirt. With a neckline that revealed the shoulders, but still maintained complete modesty, this dress was her best design so far, one she planned to have Mrs. Murdock create in that dreamy, shimmery green material that came in the last shipment from China. Maggie knew silk was usually a summer fabric, but with it woven into a heavier brocade satin, it would be just right for her eighteenth birthday party. And with a few changes to the design, she could have another dress created as well.

Once again she leaned forward and drew a furbelow around the hem, shading it carefully to show depth. The added weight of the extra fabric would help the skirt maintain its shape, providing a pleasing silhouette at any ball. She pictured herself wearing the beautiful green dress, whirling in the arms of her partner, whoever he was. Maybe someone like Charles Stanton, since she’d admired him for several years, and he was so handsome.
“Margaret, what are you doing?”

The harsh question broke Maggie’s concentration. The charcoal in her hand slipped, slashing an ugly smear across the sketch. She glanced at her mother standing in the doorway, her arms crossed over her bosom. Maggie heaved a sigh loud enough to reach the entrance, and her mother’s eyebrows arched so quickly Maggie wanted to laugh . . . almost, but she didn’t dare add to whatever was bothering Mother now. Her stomach began to churn, a thoroughly uncomfortable sensation. Lately, everything she did put Mother in a bad mood. She searched her mind for whatever could have set her off this time. She came up with nothing, so she pasted a smile across her face.

“I’m sketching.” She tried for a firm tone but wasn’t sure it came across that way.
“You don’t have time for that right now.” Florence Caine hurried across the Persian wool carpet and stared down at her. “We have too much to do before your party.”

Of course her mother was right, but Maggie thought she could take a few minutes to get the new design on paper while it was fresh in her mind. She glanced toward the mantel clock. Oh, no. Her few minutes had turned into over two hours. She’d lost herself in drawing designs again. No wonder Mother was exasperated. She jumped up from the burgundy wing-back chair. “I didn’t realize it was so late. I’m sorry, Mother.”
Florence Caine took the sketch pad from her hand and studied the drawing with a critical eye. “That’s a different design.”

Maggie couldn’t tell if she liked the dress or not, but it didn’t matter. Designing was in Maggie’s blood. Her grandmother was a dressmaker who came up with her own designs instead of using those in Godey’s Lady’s Book or Harper’s Bazar. And, according to Mother’s sister, she never even looked at a Butterick pattern. Aunt Georgia had told her often enough about all the society women who wouldn’t let anyone but Agatha Carter make their clothing. They

knew they wouldn’t be meeting anyone else wearing the exact same thing when they attended social events in Little Rock, Arkansas. Not for the first time, Maggie wished she could talk to her grandmother at least once.
With the news about people being able to converse across long distances with something called the telephone, someday she might talk to her that way. But Maggie wanted a face-to-face meeting. Knowing another dress designer would keep her from feeling like such a misfit. Mother kept reminding her that she didn’t really fit the mold of a young woman of their social standing in Seattle. At least, Daddy let her do what she wanted to. She didn’t know what she’d do without him to offset Mother’s insistence, which was becoming more and more harsh.

According to Aunt Georgia, the business Grandmother Carter started was still going strong, even though her grandmother had to be over sixty years old. Maggie planned to go visit her relatives in Arkansas, so she could tour the company. She hoped her journey would happen before she was too late to actually meet Agatha Carter. Her deepest desire was to follow in her grandmother’s footsteps, since she had inherited her talents.

The sound of ripping tore through her thoughts. Aghast, she turned to catch her mother decimating her sketch. She lunged toward the paper, trying to save it, but Mother held the sketch just out of her reach.

“What are you doing?” Tears clogged her throat, but she struggled to hide them.
Dribbling the tiny pieces into the ornate wastepaper basket beside the mahogany desk, her mother looked up at her. “Just throwing it away. You had already ruined it anyway.”

Anger sliced through Maggie’s heart, leaving a jagged trail of pain. She still wanted to keep the sketch. She could use it while she created another. Her plan was to ask her father to help her surprise Mother. The design would set off her mother’s tall stature and still youthful figure. She planned to ask him for a length of the special blue satin brocade that would bring out the color of Mother’s eyes. The dress would make Mother the envy of most of her friends when

the winter social season started in a couple of months. Now she’d have to begin the drawing all over again. So many hours of work and her dreams torn to shreds.
“Darling.” That syrupy tone Mother used when she was trying to make a point grated on Maggie’s nerves. “When are you going to grow up and forget about your little pictures of dresses?” Little pictures of dresses? The words almost shredded the rest of Maggie’s control. She gripped her hands into fists and twisted them inside the folds of her full skirt.
They’d had this discussion too many times already. She gritted her teeth, but it didn’t help. In a few days she would be eighteen, old enough to make decisions for herself—whether her mother agreed or not.

She stood as tall as her tiny frame would allow her. “Those aren’t just ‘little drawings,’ Mother. I am going to be a dress designer.” The icy disdain shooting from her mother’s eyes made Maggie cringe inside, but she stood her ground.

“Margaret Lenora Caine, I am tired of these conversations. You will not become a working girl.” Mother huffed out a very unladylike deep breath. “You don’t need to. Your father has worked hard to provide a very good living for the three of us. I will not listen to any more of this nonsense.”
Maggie had heard that phrase often enough, and she never liked it. Mother swept from the room as if she had the answer to everything, but she didn’t. Not for Maggie. And her sketches were not nonsense.

She tried to remember the last time she pleased her mother. Had she ever really?
Her hair was too curly and hard to tame into a proper style. And the hue was too red. Maggie wouldn’t stay out of the sun to prevent freckles from dotting her face. She could come up with a long list of her mother’s complaints if she wanted to take the time. She wasn’t that interested in what was going on among the elite in Seattle. She

had more things to think about than how to catch a husband. Maggie wanted to get married someday. But first she would follow her dream. Become the woman she was created to be. That meant being a dress designer, taking delight in making other women look their best. If it wasn’t for Grandmother Carter, Maggie would think she had been born into the wrong family.

The enticing aroma of gingerbread called her toward the kitchen. Spending time with Mrs. Jorgensen was just what she needed right now. Since she didn’t have any grandparents living close by, their cook and housekeeper substituted quite well in Maggie’s mind. She pushed open the door, wrinkling her nose and sniffing like the bunny in the back garden while she headed across the brick floor toward the cabinet where her older friend worked. “What is that

heavenly smell?”

Mrs. Jorgensen turned with a warm smile. “As if you didn’t already know. You’ve eaten enough of my gingerbread, for sure.”

Pushing white tendrils from her forehead, the woman quickly sliced the spicy concoction and placed a large piece on a saucer while Maggie retrieved the butter from the ice box. Maggie slathered a thick coating on and watched it melt into the hot, brown bread. “Here’s something to drink.” Mrs. Jorgensen set a glass of cold milk on the work table in the middle of the large room.

Maggie hopped up on a tall stool and took a sip, swinging her legs as she had when she was a little girl. Mother would have something else to complain about if she saw her. That’s not ladylike and is most unbecoming. The oft-spoken words rang through Maggie’s mind. But Mother hardly ever came into the kitchen. Mrs. Jorgensen met with

Mother in her sitting room to plan the meals and the day’s work schedule.
“This is the only place in the house where I can just be myself.” Maggie took a bite and let the spices dance along her tongue, savoring the sting of spices mixed with the sweetness of molasses.

“Ja.” The grandmotherly woman patted Maggie’s shoulder. “So tell me what’s bothering you, kära.”
Tears sprang to Maggie’s eyes. “Why doesn’t Mother understand me? She doesn’t even try.”
She licked a drip of butter that started down her finger, then took another bite of the warm gingerbread. Heat from the cook stove made the enormous kitchen feel warm and cozy, instead of the cold formality of most of the house.
Mrs. Jorgensen folded a tea towel into a thick square, then went to the oven and removed another pan of the dessert. “What’s the bee in her bonnet this time?”
Maggie loved to hear the Scandinavian woman’s quaint sayings. “She won’t consider letting me continue to design dresses.”

Maggie sipped her milk, not even being careful not to leave a white mustache on her upper lip. “I’ve drawn them for our seamstress to use for the last five years. As many of them have been for Mother as for me. And she’s enjoyed the way other women exclaimed over the exclusive creations she wore. I don’t understand why she doesn’t want me to continue to develop my artistic abilities.”

“Your father is a very wealthy man, for sure.” The cook’s nod punctuated her statement. “Your dear mother just wants what is best for you.”
“Why does she get to decide what’s best for me?” Maggie felt like stomping her foot, but she refrained. That would be like a child having a tantrum. She would not stoop that far now that she was no longer a child. “Soon I’ll be eighteen. Plenty old enough to make my own decisions.”
“Yah, and you sure have the temper to match all that glorious red hair, älskling.” She clicked her tongue. “Such a waste of energy.” After enjoying the love expressed in Mrs. Jorgensen’s endearment, Maggie slid from the stool and gathered her plate and glass to carry them to the sink. “You’re probably right. I’ll just have to talk to Daddy.”

The door to the hallway swung open. “Talk to me about what?” Her tall father strode into the room,

filling it with a sense of power.

“About my becoming a dress designer.”

A flit of pain crossed his face before he smiled. “A dress designer?” Maggie fisted her hands on her waist. “We’ve discussed this before. I want to go to Arkansas and see about learning more at The House of Agatha Carter.”
Her father came over and gathered her into a loving embrace. “I said I’d think about letting you go. There are many details that would have to be ironed out first. But I didn’t say you couldn’t go.”

Maggie leaned her cheek against his chest, breathing in his familiar spicy scent laced with the fragrance of pipe tobacco. “I know. But Mother won’t let me. Just you wait and see.”

He grasped her by the shoulders and held her away from him. “Maggie, my Maggie, you’ve always been so impatient. I said I’d talk to her when the time is right. You’ll just have to trust me on this.” His eyes bored into hers, and his lips tipped up at the ends. She threw her arms around his waist. “Oh, I do trust you, Daddy.”

“Then be patient.” He kissed the top of her head, probably disturbing the style she’d worked so hard on this morning.

Mrs. Jorgensen stopped slicing the gingerbread and held the knife in front of her. “I thought you weren’t going to be home for lunch, Mr. Caine.”
“I’m not. I’ve only come by to pick up my beautiful wife. We’ll be dining with some friends at the Arlington House hotel downtown.” He gave Maggie another hug and left, presumably to find her mother.

“Would you be wanting another piece of gingerbread, kära?”

Maggie shook her head. “I don’t want to ruin my lunch. I have some things I need to do. Can I come back to eat a little later?” She hoped her father could prevail against Mother’s stubborn stance on the question of a trip to Arkansas.

Mrs. Jorgensen waved her out the door. “You’re probably not very hungry after that gingerbread.”
Maggie went into the library to retrieve her sketch pad, then headed upstairs to her bedroom. She wanted to get the drawing on paper again before she forgot any of the details. She pulled her lacy panels back from the side window and scooted a chair close. With a few deft strokes, she had the main lines of the dress on the thick paper. Then she started filling it in. As each line appeared on the drawing, she felt an echoing movement in her spirit. Deep inside,

she danced through the design as it took shape, much faster than the first time. She was so glad she could recall every detail.

While she drew, her thoughts returned to Grandmother Carter. Everyone said she took after her grandmother . . . everyone except Mother. Why isn’t she happy about my talent?

Maggie wandered through her memories, trying to recapture how it was when she was a little girl. She remembered Mother playing with her when they lived in the smaller, but comfortable house in Oregon City. They didn’t have servants then, but the three of them laughed and enjoyed life together. Then for some reason, her mother had started talking to her father every chance she got about moving to a larger place. Now that Maggie looked back on those memories, she realized that her mother seemed almost frantic to get away from where they lived, as if something were wrong with the town. Maggie never understood why.

She couldn’t have been more than five years old, but some of the events stood out. The hurry to leave town. The long trip. For quite a while after that, she missed playing with her friends. And she didn’t make new ones when they arrived. No other small children lived in the neighborhood. Even when she started school, she stayed to herself. She had been shy as a young girl.
After they moved to Seattle and her father bought one of the empty buildings and opened Caine Emporium, Mother changed. She became more distant, almost cold. She was no longer the laughing woman. If Maggie didn’t know better, she’d think something made Mother bitter. Maybe that was one reason she wanted to design this special dress. To brighten her mother’s life. Bring back the woman who sometimes flashed through her memory at odd times, making her long for the warmth she had luxuriated in as a small child. Finally, the drawing met her approval. Just in time to eat lunch. Maybe this afternoon she could finish the other sketch with the changes to make the dress more appropriate for her mother than herself.

Once again the kitchen welcomed her, and she enjoyed eating there with Mrs. Jorgensen. If Mother had been home, they would have had the meal in the formal dining room, complete with china, crystal, and silver. Such a fuss for an ordinary day.

“Margaret.” Her mother’s voice rose from the foyer below. “I’m home.”
Looking at the names of people she’d placed on the invitation list, Maggie finished writing Charles Stanton’s name and put the pen down. “Coming, Mother.”
She rushed out of her room and stood at the top of the staircase. “Did you want me?”
“Yes, dear. I thought we could get some shopping done this afternoon.” Her mother still wore her gloves and cape.

“Is it cold?”
Mother nodded. “It’s a bit nippy, so wear something warm.” “I’ll get my things.” Maggie hurried back to her room and gathered a light jacket, a handbag, and her gloves. When she arrived in the foyer, Mother stood tapping her foot

impatiently. “I had hoped we could buy most of the things we’ll need today.”
Maggie bit her tongue to keep from reminding her that she wasn’t the one who had frittered away so much of the day. If Mother wanted to go shopping, why didn’t they do it earlier? She could have gone along for the lunch with Daddy. But evidently Mother preferred spending time with Daddy instead of her. She took a deep breath and followed her mother to the coach sitting in front of the house. Mrs. Jorgensen’s son, who was their driver, stood beside the open

door, ready to assist them into the conveyance.

“Erik, please take us by the Emporium.” Mother took hold of his hand as she stepped up into the vehicle.

Maggie followed suit. “Why are we going to the store? Are we going to shop there?”
The door snapped shut, and Erik climbed into the driver’s seat. “I forgot to get money from your father when we were at lunch.” Mother settled her skirts as the coach lurched forward. “I believe your father is signing papers with young Charles Stanton this afternoon. It will be nice to see him again. Did you add him to your guest list?”

Maggie nodded, a faint blush coloring her cheeks. She hadn’t seen Charles since she was about sixteen, but she still remembered the girlish secret infatuation she’d had when she was younger. He’d been so handsome, and kind too. Would he be changed since he’d graduated from university? She would soon find out. She settled back into the carriage seat, suddenly looking forward to the afternoon’s events.

Prism's Corner:

I absolutely loved this book. The characters were well done, and I like books where they are imperfect, but genuine. The storyline was flawless. I never lost attention, and I had the suspense of wondering what was going to happen next. The premise of the story is well though out and the historical elements made me feel like I had taken a trip back in time!

My one disclaimer is that it is strongly hinted that Maggie's mother and father have a physical relationship as married couples should, but I always get uncomfortable when a book gives time to the before and the after of it.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Review of Lost in Dreams

Lost in Dreams by Roger Bruner with Kristi Rae Bruner is the second book in the Altered Hearts Series. (Read my review for the first book here) Kim is on a spiritual high after her mission trip to Mexico. She is a new, changed person, and she can't wait to share her experiences with her parents. But then tragedy strikes. On the way to pick up Kim from the airport, Kim's mother dies in a car accident. Kim is left feeling lost, depressed, and guilty that everything was her fault. To help her heal, Kim's father and two best friends accompany Kim to help revive a prison ministry.

But will she be able to find true healing in the midst of a feud between her two best friends, feelings of guilt in her mother's death, and corruption in the prison ministry?

As I said in the last book, I love Kim's character. She is truly a well-written character. This book deals with issues like God's plan, guilt, death, divorce, depression, and serving others. I loved the dynamics of the prison ministry. It was actually quite charming. I was also a huge fan of Kim's dad. He was a caring father who wanted to do what was best for his daughter and in God's will. One of Kim's best friends, Jo, is also well-written. Kim's love for her moody and difficult friend is heartwarming, and I loved how she guided Jo to healing and she searched for it herself.

So there were good characters and just plain strange characters. One such character is Aleesha. This girl also struck me as odd in the last book, but it seemed that she got weirder in this one. Aleesha seemed to love bringing up racial difference and making fun of it (Aleesha is African American and Kim is not). Her sometimes obnoxious behavior was downright irritating at times. She seemed judgmental and huffy, and she blames another character of being racially prejudiced when nothing of the sort is happening. Yes, there were funny moments, but it was just too strange. I felt like this character botched the book. Also, the ending was great, but there was an epilogue that was just too unbelievable. It also seemed to harm the book's good points.

All in all, I rate this book three out of five stars.

Specifics (from amazon.com):
~ Paperback: 368 pages
~ Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc. (July 1, 2011)

Note: Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for reviewing purposes.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Review of Tomorrow's Sun

Tomorrow's Sun by Becky Melby is the story of two woman from different centuries learning about love, hope and healing. Emily Foster is broken. After utterly destroying a young woman's dreams in a skiing accident, Emily can only put her efforts in remodeling houses to eventually move to California, where she is determined to feel better. Yet, she soon finds that love doesn't depend on a place... it depends on people. Emily discovers with her hired contractor, Jake Braden, mysterious clues and echoes from the past that may show that the house Emily is remodeling is a stop on the Underground Railroad. Jake is determined to save his niece and nephew from an abusing stepfather, so he decides he has no time to fall for Emily. Emily is determined to move to California, so she decided she has no strength to build friendships...relationships with the people of her new town.

Will the adventure of uncovering the mystery of Emily's house pull the two together, or push them apart?

I loved how the author went back and forth with the new and the old with sections and Emily and Jake and about the Underground Railroad. The book is excellently written with characters with believable emotions and a real sense of humanity. I loved the character of Jake. He was willing to sacrifice anything to save his niece and nephew, and his strength of character was so endearing. The extra characters added perfectly to the story!

The story seemed to move slow sometimes, so I wish it had been more attention-capturing.

All in all, I rate this book five out of five stars.

Specifics (from amazon.com):
~ Paperback: 320 pages
~ Publisher: Barbour Books (January 1, 2012)

Note: Thanks to the publisher for giving me a free electronic copy of this book for reviewing purposes.


Review of Weddings and Wasabi

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

WinePress Publishing (June 7, 2011)
***Special thanks to Camy Tang for sending me a review copy.***


Camy Tang grew up in Hawaii and now lives in San Jose, California, with her engineer husband and rambunctious mutt, Snickers. She graduated from Stanford University and was a biologist researcher for 9 years, but now she writes full-time. She is a staff worker for her church youth group and leads one of the Sunday worship teams. On her blog, she ponders knitting, spinning wool, dogs, running, the Never Ending Diet, and other frivolous things. Visit her website at http://www.camytang.com/ to read short stories and subscribe to her quarterly newsletter.

Visit the author's website.


After finally graduating with a culinary degree, Jennifer Lim is pressured by her family to work for her control-freak aunty’s restaurant. But after a family blowout, Jenn is determined to no longer be a doormat and instead starts her own catering company. Her search for a wine merchant brings John into her life—a tall, dark, handsome biker, in form-fitting black leather, and Hispanic to boot. It would be wonderfully wild to snag a man like that!

Shy engineer Edward tentatively tries out his birthday present from his winery-owner uncle—a Harley Davidson complete with the trimmings. Jennifer seems attracted to the rough, aggressive image, but it isn’t his real self. Is she latching onto him just to spite her horrified family? And if this spark between them is real, will showing her the true guy underneath put it out?

And what’s with the goat in the backyard?

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 124 pages
Publisher: WinePress Publishing (June 7, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414120591
ISBN-13: 978-1414120591


The goat in the backyard had just eaten tonight’s dinner.

Jennifer Lim stood on her mother’s minuscule back porch and glared at the small brown and white creature polishing off her basil. She would have run shouting at it to leave off her herb garden, except it had already decimated the oregano, mint, rosemary, thyme, cilantro, and her precious basil, which had been slated for tonight’s pesto.

Besides, if it bit her, she was peeved enough to bite back.

“Mom!” She stomped back into the house. Thank goodness the pots of her special Malaysian basil were sectioned off in the large garden on the side of the house, protected by a wooden-framed wire gate. Jenn was growing it so that she could make her cousin Trish’s favorite chicken dish for her wedding, which Jenn was catering for her. But everything in her backyard garden was gone. The animal was welcome to the only thing left, the ragged juniper bushes. Were juniper bushes poison? If so, the animal was welcome to them.

“Mom!” Her voice had reached banshee range. “There is a goat—”

“You don’t need to yell.” Mom entered the kitchen, her lipstick bright red from a fresh application and her leather handbag over her arm, obviously ready to leave the house on some errand.

“Since when do we own a goat?”

“Since your cousin Larry brought him over.” She fished through her leather purse. “His name is Pookie.”

Jenn choked on her demand for an explanation, momentarily distracted. “He has a name?”

“He’s a living being. Of course he has a name.” Her mother fluttered eyelashes overloaded with mascara.

“Don’t give me that. You used to love to gross me out with stories of Great-Uncle Hao Chin eating goats back in China.”

Mom sniffed and found the refrigerator fascinating. “That’s your father’s side.”

Jenn swayed as the floor tilted. You are now entering … the Twilight Zone. Her parent had evoked that feeling quite often in the past few weeks. “Where did Larry get a goat and why do we have it now?”

“They were desperate.”

Actually, Jenn could have answered her own question. That goat was in their backyard right now because everyone knew that her mom couldn’t say no to a termite who knocked on the door and asked if it could spend the night.

And outside of physically dropping the goat off at someone’s house—and she didn’t have an animal trailer, so that was out of the question—Jenn wouldn’t be able to get anyone else in the family to agree to take the animal, now that it was here. That meant leaving a goat in a niece’s backyard because no one else wanted to go through the hassle of doing anything about it.

Mom said, “You wouldn’t have me turn away family, would you?”

“Uncle Percy knows, too?”

“No, not Percy.”

“Aunty Glenda?” No way. Even if Larry were thirty-one instead of twenty-one, Aunty would still dictate to her son the color underwear he wore that day—how much more his choice of pet?

“No.” Mom blinked as rapidly as she could with mascara making her short, stiff lashes stick together, almost gluing her eyes shut.

The tiger in Jenn’s ribcage growled. “Mother.” Her fist smacked onto her hip.

“Oh, all right.” Mom rolled her eyes as if she were still a teenager. “It belongs to Larry’s dormmate’s older brother, but really, he’s the nicest young man.” Burgundy lips pulled into what wanted to be a smile, but instead looked hideously desperate.

Jenn tried to count to ten but only got to two. “I know Larry’s a nice young man. If an abundance of immaturity counts as ‘nice’ points.”

“Jenn, really, you’re so intolerant. Just because you’re smart and went to Stanford for grad school …”

The name of her school—and the one dominant memory it brought up—made her neck jerk in a spasm. It had only been for two years, but that was enough. Desperately lonely after spending her undergrad years living with her cousins, Jenn had only formed a few friendships among the other grad students, none of them close. There was only one she’d never forget, although she vowed she would every morning when she got up and saw the scar in the mirror.

“Why. Do we have. A goat.”

“It’s only for a few days—”

“We don’t know a thing about how to take care of—”

“They’re easy—”

“Besides which, this is Cupertino. I’m sure there are city laws—”

“It’ll be gone before anyone notices—”

“Oh, ho, you’re right about that.” Jenn strode toward the phone on the wall. “I’m calling the Humane Society. They’ll take it.” Although they wouldn’t provide a trailer to transport it. How was she going to take the goat anywhere, much less to an animal shelter?

Mom plopped onto a stool and sighed. “That boy was so cute. His name was Brad.”

There went her neck spasming again. But Brad was a common name. She grabbed the phone.

“Such a nice Chinese boy. Related to the Yip family—you know, the ones in Mountain View?”

The phone slipped from her hand and bungee-jumped toward the floor, saved only by the curly cord. She bent to snatch it up, but dizziness shrouded her vision and she had to take a few breaths before straightening up.

“Oh, and he went to Stanford. You two have something in common.” Mom beamed.

No. He wouldn’t.

Yes, he would.

“Brad Yip?”

Mom’s eyes lighted up. “Do you know him?”

Sure, she knew him. Knew the next time he came for his goat she’d ram her chef’s knife, Michael Meyers style, right between his eyes.

So, welcome to Prism's first go 'round of a FIRST tour! As this is new to both me and you, I'm changing and forgoing some of my usual routine. It's fun to shake things up once in a while, no? Let's call it "Prism's Corner"

As the book has been already summed up, I'll add my quick review.

I absolutely love the author's sense of humor. That, paired with an Asian culture I can relate to so well. Brilliant. My only complaints were 1. it was short and 2. because it was, short, the romance was speedy. I missed some of the flair I've gotten from other books like Sushi for One? and others. But it was great seeing some of the "cast" back and reading a new adventure!


Review of Hello, Hollywood!

Hello, Hollywood by Janice Thompson is the story of a screenwriter, Athena Pappas, who discovers that love can be found in ways even she can't script. It is the second book in the Backstage Pass series. Athena Pappas is the head writer on Stars Collide, a very popular family television sitcom. However, the dynamics of her team is change when a Vegas comedian, Stephen, is brought to liven things up. The tension begins to build between the two writers and ideas- and hearts- collide. Athena  discovers that God's script is often better than anything she could ever imagine.

LOVE. This book is a perfect blend of comedy, charm. drama, and aspects of real life in Hollywood. The Pappas family is so unique and well-written. I felt as if I were spending time with a real Greek family. The subplot of "evil" Aunt Athena also added some extra zest to the story that made it absolutely wonderful. The author expertly builds the characters and the unique setting of a TV show. I didn't think she could top Stars Collide, but obviously I was wrong. Bravo!

My only confusion is that the book mentions several times about Athena's troubles with a former fiance, but it never goes into detail. I felt as if I were missing out on the background of Athena's life.

I highly recommend this book! Awesome. Five out of five stars!

Specifics (from amazon.com):
~Paperback: 278 pages
~Publisher: Available September 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group

Note: Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a free copy of this book for reviewing purposes.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Review of There You'll Find Me

There You'll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones is the captivating YA Christian fiction about a girl who finds healing through God, Ireland, and... a vampire. Okay, okay, let me explain. Finley Sinclair is a driven eighteen year old who is determined to get accepted into the Manhattan music conservatory. However, she is still recovering from the tragic death of her older brother Will. Determined to discover creativity to fuel her drive to succeed, Finley heads to Ireland as an exchange student, to the same town where Will traveled as an exchange student. To write "Will's song", Finley is determined to travel to all the places Will had gone and find peace at last.

Finley soon meets Beckett Rush, a famous teen bad boy and the star of the latest vampire movie. Beckett's curiosity is peaked as he meets this strange girl who seems immune to his charms and so genuinely real. They soon develop a grudging friendship, and Beckett convinces Finley to work as his assistant. The undeniable attraction begins to build between the two but Finley's past, bullies at Finley's new school, and the pressure to finish Will's song in time for her audition begins to move Finley towards a destructive behavior.

Will she still be able to find healing in the midst of her personal turmoil? Could God still be present in her life even though she's gone through so much?

This book was something new from the author. I'm a huge fan, and I loved to see the humor she has shown in her other books with a deeper poignant feel that makes a reader really connect with the characters. I especially loved the quips about Beckett's career as a vampire. Great stuff. Also, the story of an elderly woman Finley is assigned to be a "granddaughter" for is so beautiful and meaningful. It's truly an excellent blend of funny and meaningful emotion.

All in all, I rate this book five out of five stars.

Specifics (from amazon.com):
~ Paperback: 320 pages
~ Publisher: Thomas Nelson (October 4, 2011)

Note: Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a free copy of this book for reviewing purposes.

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