Friday, February 25, 2011

"A Billion Reasons Why" by Kristin Billerbeck - FIRST WildCard Tour

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:

A Billion Reasons Why

Thomas Nelson; Original edition (February 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Kristin Billerbeck was born in California to an Italian father and a strong Norwegian/German mother. Her mother tried to teach her to do things right, how to cook, clean, sew, and budget accordingly—all the things a proper girl should know in order to be a contributing member of society. Yet Billerbeck said she “failed miserably,” although her grandmother must still hold some hope since she gave her a cookie gun for her 40th birthday.

Billerbeck has authored more than 30 novels, including the Ashley Stockingdale series and the Spa Girls series. She is a leader in the Chick Lit movement, a Christy Award finalist, and a two-time winner of the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year Award. She has appeared on The Today Show and has been featured in the New York Times. She lives with her family in northern California.

Visit the author's website.


There are a billion reasons Kate should marry her current boyfriend.

Will she trade them all to be madly in love?

Katie McKenna leads a perfect life. Or so she thinks. She has a fulfilling job, a cute apartment, and a wedding to plan with her soon-to-be fiance, Dexter.

She can think of a billion reasons why she should marry Dexter…but nowhere on that list is love.

And then in walks Luc DeForges, her bold, breathtaking ex-boyfriend. Only now he's a millionaire. And he wants her to go home to New Orleans to sing for her childhood friend's wedding. As his date.

But Katie made up her mind about Luc eight years ago, when she fled their hometown after a very public breakup. Yet there's a magnetism between them she can't deny.

Katie thought her predictable relationship with Dexter would be the bedrock of a lasting, Christian marriage. But what if there's more? What if God's desire for her is a heart full of life? And what if that's what Luc has offered all along?

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson; Original edition (February 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595547916
ISBN-13: 978-1595547910


A Fine Romance

Katie McKenna had dreamed of this moment at least a thousand times. Luc would walk back into her life filled with remorse. He’d be wearing jeans, a worn T-shirt, and humility. He’d be dripping with humility.

That should have been her first clue that such a scenario had no bearing on reality.

“Katie,” a voice said.

The sound sent a surge of adrenaline through her frame. She’d forgotten the power and the warmth of his baritone. A quick glance around her classroom assured her that she must be imagining things. Everything was in order: the posters of colorful curriculum, the daily schedule of activities printed on the whiteboard, and, of course, the children. All six of them were mentally disabled, most of them on the severe side of the autism spectrum, but three had added handicaps that required sturdy, head-stabilizing wheelchairs. The bulk of the chairs overwhelmed the room and blocked much of the happy yellow walls and part of the large rainbow mural the kids had helped to paint. The room, with its cluttered order, comforted her and reminded her of all she’d accomplished. There was no need to think about the past. That was a waste of time and energy.

Her eyes stopped on her aides, Carrie and Selena. The two women, so boisterous in personality, were usually animated. But at the moment they stood huddled in the corner behind Austin’s wheelchair.

Carrie, the heavyset one in the Ed Hardy T-shirt, motioned at her.

“What?” Katie pulled at her white shirt with the delicate pink flowers embroidered along the hem and surveyed the stains. “I know, I’m a mess. But did you see how wonderfully the kids did on their art projects? It was worth it. Never thought of the oil on the dough staining. Next time I’ll wear an apron.”

Selena and Carrie looked as though there was something more they wanted.

“Maddie, you’re a born artist.” Katie smiled at the little girl sitting behind a mound of colorful clay. Then to the aides: “What is the matter with you two?”

Selena, a slight Latina woman, shook her head and pointed toward the door.

Katie rotated toward the front of the classroom and caught her breath. Luc, so tall and gorgeous, completely out of place in his fine European suit and a wristwatch probably worth more than her annual salary, stood in the doorway. He wore a fedora, his trademark since college, but hardly one he needed to stand out in a crowd.

As she stared across the space between them, suddenly the classroom she took such pride in appeared shabby and soiled. When she inhaled, it reeked of sour milk and baby food. Her muddled brain searched for words.

“Luc?” She blinked several times, as if his film-star good looks might evaporate into the annals of her mind. “What are you doing here?”

“Didn’t you get my brother’s wedding invitation?” he asked coolly, as if they’d only seen each other yesterday.

“I did. I sent my regrets.”

“That’s what I’m doing here. You can’t miss Ryan’s wedding. I thought the problem might be money.”

She watched as his blue eyes came to rest on her stained shirt. Instinctively she crossed her arms in front of her.

“I came to invite you to go back with me next week, on my plane.”

“Ah.” She nodded and waited for something intelligible to come out of her mouth. “It’s not money.”

“Come home with me, Katie.” He reached out his arms, and she moved to the countertop and shuffled some papers together.

If he touches me, I don’t stand a chance. She knew Luc well enough to know if he’d made the trip to her classroom, he didn’t intend to leave without what he came for. “I’m afraid that’s not possible.” She stacked the same papers again.

“Give me one reason.”

She faced him. “I could give you a billion reasons.”

Luc’s chiseled features didn’t wear humility well. The cross-shaped scar beneath his cheekbone added to his severity. If he weren’t so dreaded handsome, he’d make a good spy in a Bond movie. His looks belied his soft Uptown New Orleans upbringing, the kind filled with celebrations and warm family events with backyard tennis and long days in the swimming pool.

He pushed through the swiveled half door that separated them and strode toward her.

“That gate is there for a reason. The classroom is for teachers and students only.”

Luc opened his hand and beckoned to her, and despite herself, she took it. Her heart pounded in her throat, and its roar was so thunderous it blocked her thoughts. He pulled her into a clutch, then pushed her away with all the grace of Astaire. “Will you dance with me?” he asked.

He began to hum a Cole Porter tune clumsily in her ear, and instinctively she followed his lead until everything around them disappeared and they were alone in their personal ballroom. For a moment she dropped her head back and giggled from her stomach; a laugh so genuine and pure, it seemed completely foreign—as if it came from a place within that was no longer a part of her. Then the dance halted suddenly, and his cheek was against hers. She took in the roughness of his face, and the thought flitted through her mind that she could die a happy woman in those arms.

The sound of applause woke her from her reverie.

“You two are amazing!” Carrie said.

The children all murmured their approval, some with screams of delight and others with loud banging.

Luc’s hand clutched her own in the small space between them, and she laughed again.

“Not me,” Luc said. “I have the grace of a bull. It’s Katie. She’s like Ginger Rogers. She makes anybody she dances with look good.” He appealed to the two aides. “Which is why I’m here. She must go to my brother’s wedding with me.”

“I didn’t even know you danced, Katie,” Selena said. “Why don’t you ever come dancing with us on Friday nights?”

“What? Katie dances like a dream. She and my brother were partners onstage in college. They were like a mist, the way they moved together. It’s like her feet don’t touch the ground.”

“That was a long time ago.” She pulled away from him and showed him her shirt. “I’m a mess. I hope I didn’t ruin your suit.”

“It would be worth it,” Luc growled.

“Katie, where’d you learn to dance like that?” Carrie asked.

“Too many old movies, I suppose.” She shrugged.

“You could be on Dancing with the Stars with moves like that.”

“Except I’m not a star or a dancer, but other than that, I guess—” She giggled again. It kept bubbling out of her, and for one blissful moment she remembered what it felt like to be the old Katie McKenna. Not the current version, staid schoolmarm and church soloist in Northern California, but the Katie people in New Orleans knew, the one who danced and sang.

Luc interrupted her thoughts. “She’s being modest. She learned those moves from Ginger and Fred themselves, just by watching them over and over again. This was before YouTube, so she was dedicated.”

Katie shrugged. “I was a weird kid. Only child, you know?” But inside she swelled with pride that Luc remembered her devotion to a craft so woefully out-of-date and useless. “Anyway, I don’t have much use for swing dancing or forties torch songs now. Luc, meet Carrie and Selena. Carrie and Selena, Luc.”

“I don’t have any ‘use’ for salsa dancing,” Selena said. “I do it because it’s part of who I am.”

“Tell her she has to come with me, ladies. My brother is having a 1940s-themed wedding in New Orleans. He’d be crushed if Katie didn’t come, and I’ll look like a hopeless clod without her to dance with.”

Katie watched the two aides. She saw the way Luc’s powerful presence intoxicated them. Were they really naive enough to believe that Luc DeForges could ever appear like a clod, in any circumstance or setting? Luc, with his skilled charm and roguish good looks, made one believe whatever he wanted one to believe. The two women were putty in his hands.

“Katie, you have to go to this wedding!” Selena stepped toward her. “I can’t believe you can dance like that and never told us. You’d let this opportunity slip by? For what?” She looked around the room and frowned. “This place?”

The cacophony of pounding and low groans rose audibly, as if in agreement.

“This may be just a classroom to you, but to me, it’s the hope and future of these kids. I used to dance. I used to sing. It paid my way through college. Now I’m a teacher.”

“You can’t be a teacher and a dancer?” Selena pressed. “It’s like walking and chewing gum. You can do both. The question is, why don’t you?”

“Maybe I should bring more music and dancing into the classroom. Look how the kids are joining in the noise of our voices, not bothered by it. I have to think about ways we could make the most of this.”

But she hadn’t succeeded in changing the subject; everyone’s attention stayed focused on her.

“You should dance for the kids, Katie. You possess all the grace of an artist’s muse. Who knows how you might encourage them?”

Katie laughed. “That’s laying it on a bit thick, Luc, even for you. I do believe if there was a snake in that basket over there, it would be rising to the charmer’s voice at this very minute.”

Luc’s very presence brought her into another time. Maybe it was the fedora or the classic cut of his suit, but it ran deeper than how he looked. He possessed a sense of virility and take-no-prisoners attitude that couldn’t be further from his blue-blood upbringing. He made her, in a word, feel safe . . . but there was nothing safe about Luc and there never had been. She straightened and walked over to her open folder to check her schedule for the day.

Tapping a pencil on the binder, she focused on getting the day back on track. The students were involved in free playtime at the moment. While they were all situated in a circle, they played individually, their own favorite tasks in front of them.

“Carrie, would you get Austin and Maddie ready for lunch?”

“I’ll do it,” Selena said. “And, Katie . . . you really should go to the wedding.”

“I can’t go to the wedding because it’s right in the middle of summer school.”

“You could get a substitute,” Carrie said. “What would you be gone for, a week at most? Jenna could probably fill in. She took the summer off this year.”

“Thanks for the suggestions, ladies,” Katie said through clenched teeth. “But I’ve already told the groom I can’t attend the wedding for professional reasons.”

The women laughed. “I’m sorry, what reasons?” Carrie asked, raising a bedpan to imply that anyone could do Katie’s job.

It was no use. The two women were thoroughly under Luc’s spell, and who could blame them?

“Maybe we should talk privately,” Luc said. He clasped her wrist and led her to the glass doors at the front of the classroom. “It’s beautiful out here. The way you’re nestled in the hills, you’d never know there’s a city nearby.”

She nodded. “That’s Crystal Springs Reservoir on the other side of the freeway. It’s protected property, the drinking water for this entire area, so it’s stayed pristine.”

“I’m not going back to New Orleans without you,” he said.

Apparently the small talk had ended.

“My mother would have a fit if I brought one of the women I’d take to a Hollywood event to a family wedding.”

Katie felt a twinge of jealousy, then a stab of anger for her own weakness. Of course he dated beautiful women. He was a billionaire. A billionaire who looked like Luc DeForges! Granted, he was actually a multimillionaire, but it had been a long-standing joke between the two of them. Did it matter, once you made your first ten million, how much came after that? He may as well be called a gazillionaire. His finances were too foreign for her to contemplate.

“And who you date is my problem, how?”

“If my date tries to swing dance and kicks one of my mother’s friends in the teeth, I’ll be disinherited.”

“So what, would that make you the fifth richest man in the United States, instead of the fourth?”

“Katie, how many times do I have to explain to you I’m nowhere near those kinds of numbers?” He grinned. “Yet.” He touched his finger to her nose lightly. “My fate is much worse than losing status if you don’t come. My mother might set me up to ensure I have a proper date. A chorus line of Southern belles. And I guarantee you at least one will have the proverbial glass slipper and think her idea is so utterly unique, I’ll succumb to the fantasy.”

“Wow! What a terrible life you must lead.” She pulled a Keds slide from her foot and emptied sand out of her shoe. A few grains landed on Luc’s shiny black loafer. “To think, with courtship skills like that, that any woman wouldn’t be swept off her feet—it’s unfathomable.” She patted his arm. “I wish you luck, Luc. I’m sure your mother will have some very nice choices for you, so go enjoy yourself. Perk up, there’re billions

more to be made when you get back.”

“Sarcasm doesn’t suit you, Katie.”

e was right, but she didn’t trust herself around him. She’d taken leave of her senses too many times in that weakened state. Since moving to California, she’d made it her goal to live life logically and for the Lord. She hadn’t fallen victim to her emotions since leaving New Orleans, and she’d invested too much to give into them now.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I only meant that I’m sure there are other nice girls willing to go home and pretend for your mother. I’ve already done that, only you forgot to tell me we were pretending. Remember?”

He flinched. “Below the belt.”

A pencil fell from behind her ear, and she stooped to pick it up, careful not to meet his glance as she rose. “I’m sorry, but I’m busy here. Maybe we could catch up another time? I’d like that and won’t be so sidetracked.” She looked across the room toward Austin, an angelic but severely autistic child in a wheelchair. He pounded against his tray. “The kids are getting hungry. It’s lunchtime.” She pointed to the schedule.

Luc scooped a hand under her chin and forced her to look at him. “Where else am I going to find a gorgeous redhead who knows who Glenn Miller is?”

“Don’t, Luc. Don’t charm me. It’s beneath you. Buy one of your bubble-headed blondes a box of dye and send her to iTunes to do research. Problem solved.”

He didn’t let go. “Ryan wants you to sing at the wedding, Katie. He sent me personally to make sure you’d be there and sing ‘Someone to Watch Over Me.’ I’m not a man who quits because something’s difficult.”

“Anyone worth her salt on Bourbon Street can sing that. Excuse me—”


“Luc, I asked you kindly. Don’t. I’m not one of your sophisticated girls who knows how to play games. I’m not going to the wedding. That part of my life is over.”

“That part of your life? What about that part of you? Where is she?”

She ignored his question. “I cannot be the only woman you know capable of being your date. You’re not familiar with anyone else who isn’t an actress-slash-waitress?” She cupped his hand in her own and allowed herself to experience the surge of energy. “I have to go.” She dropped his hands and pushed back through the half door. “I’m sure you have a meeting to get to. Am I right?”

“It’s true,” he admitted. “I had business in San Francisco today, a merger. We bought a small chain of health food stores to expand the brand. But I was planning the trip to see you anyway and ask you personally.”


“We’ll be doing specialty outlets in smaller locations where real estate prices are too high for a full grocery outlet. Having the natural concept already in these locations makes my job that much easier.”

“To take over the free world with organics, you mean?”

That made him smile, and she warmed at the sparkle in his eye. When Luc was in his element, there was nothing like it. His excitement was contagious and spread like a classroom virus, infecting those around him with a false sense of security. She inhaled deeply and reminded herself that the man sold inspiration by the pound. His power over her was universal. It did not make her special.

“Name your price,” he said. “I’m here to end this rift between us, whatever it is, and I’ll do the time. Tell me what it is you want.”

“There is no price, Luc. I don’t want anything from you. I’m not going to Ryan’s wedding. My life is here.”

“Day and night . . . night and day,” he crooned and then his voice was beside her ear. “One last swing dance at my brother’s wedding. One last song and I’ll leave you alone. I promise.”

She crossed the room to the sink against the far wall, but she felt him follow. She hated how he could make every nerve in her body come to life, while he seemingly felt nothing in return. She closed her eyes and searched for inner strength. He didn’t want me. Not in a way that mattered. He wanted her when it suited him to have her at his side.

“Even if I were able to get the time off work, Luc, it wouldn’t be right to go to your brother’s wedding as your date. I’m about to get engaged.”

“Engaged?” He stepped away.

She squeezed hand sanitizer onto her hands and rubbed thoroughly.

“I’ll give a call to your fiancé and let him know the benefits.” He pulled a small leather pad of paper from his coat pocket. “I’ll arrange everything. You get a free trip home, I get a Christian date my mother is proud to know, and then your life goes back to normal. Everyone’s happy.” He took off his fedora as though to plead his case in true gentlemanly fashion. “My mother is still very proud to have led you from

your . . .” He choked back a word. “From your previous life and to Jesus.”

The announcement of her engagement seemed to have had little effect on Luc, and Katie felt as if her heart shattered all over again. “My previous life was you. She was proud to lead me away from her son’s life.” She leaned on the countertop, trying to remember why she’d come to the kitchen area.

“You know what I meant.”

“I wasn’t exactly a streetwalker, Luc. I was a late-night bar singer in the Central District, and the only one who ever led my reputation into question was you. So I’m failing to see the mutual benefit here. Your mother. Your date. And I get a free trip to a place I worked my tail off to get out of.”

She struggled with a giant jar of applesauce, which Luc took from her and opened easily. He passed the jar back to her and let his fingers brush hers.

“My mother would be out of her head to see you. And the entire town could see what they lost when they let their prettiest belle go. Come help me remind them. Don’t you want to show them that you’re thriving? That you didn’t curl up and die after that awful night?”

“I really don’t need to prove anything, Luc.” She pulled her apron, with its child-size handprints in primary colors, over her head. “I’m not your fallback, and I really don’t care if people continue to see me that way. They don’t know me.”

“Which you? The one who lives a colorless existence and calls it holy? Or the one who danced on air and inspired an entire theater troupe to rediscover swing and raise money for a new stage?” Luc bent down, took her out at the knees, and hoisted her up over his shoulder.

“What are you doing? Do you think you’re Tarzan? Put me down.” She pounded on his back, and she could hear the chaos he’d created in the classroom. “These kids need structure. What do you think you’re doing? I demand you put me down!”

My Thoughts

I never had the pleasure of reading anything by Kristin Billerbeck before, and wish someone had warned me that I would not be able to put this fun and quirky romance down. Before you sit down to read this novel, create yourself a nice cozy spot complete with a cup (or rather a thermos) of your favorite beverage and a snack or two, along with your favorite afghan to curl up with - all where you won't be disturbed, because once you start reading, you won't want to stop!

"A Billion Reasons Why" is one of those fantastic stories where humor is mixed with a very serious side. True to life - all the characters have a flaw or two - no matter how perfect they seem at first. The main characters, Katie and Luc, are well developed that will sweep you off your feet and have you itching to rent a few of Humphrey Bogart's and Katharine Hepburn's movies by the time you turn the last page.

Everything about this novel worked for me. Not only did it transport me to New Orleans where I could hear that southern drawl and smell crawdads cooking, but it had me practically dancing along with them through the 1940's! If there was ever a "perfect" romance or chick lit, this would have to be it. The only thing that made it even better was the wonderful Christian message that it delivered!

Make sure to add "A Billion Reasons Why" to your must read pile. It comes highly recommended!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"Angelfire" by Courtney Allison Moulton - Book Review

Author: Courtney Allison Moulton
Publisher: HarperCollins
Imprint: HarperTeen
Pub Date: 02/15/2011
ISBN: 9780062002327
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, fantasy, paranormal

About the Book:
When ordinary seventeen-year-old Ellie starts seeing reapers-monstrous creatures who devour humans and send their souls to Hell-she finds herself on the front lines of a supernatural war between Angels and the Fallen, and faced with the possible destruction of her soul.

A mysterious boy named Will, who has been waiting sixty years for her return, reveals she is the reincarnation of an ancient warrior, the only one armed with angelfire, and capable of fighting the reapers. He is animmortal sworn to protect her in battle. Her soul has been reborn again and again over the centuries to fight the reapers, and he's been there for five hundred years to protect and fight alongside her. Now that Ellie's powers have been awakened, a powerful reaper called Bastian has come forward to challenge her. He has employed a fierce assassin to eliminate her-an assassin who has already killed her once. At the same time, Ellie is falling in love with Will, even though they know their relationship should be impossible.

While balancing her dwindling social life and reaper-hunting duties, she and Will discover Bastian is searching for a dormant creature believed to be a true soul reaper. Bastian plans to use this weapon to destroy Ellie's soul forever, not to mention the devastating ramifications for human souls. Now she must face an army of Bastian's most frightening reapers, prevent the soul reaper from consuming her soul, and uncover the secrets of her past lives-including truths that may be too frightening to remember.

Click Here to read online and learn more about "Angelfire".

My Thoughts:

Finally! A novel that has an extremely strong female main character. Say goodbye to the needy Bella Cullin type and usher in the empowered Ellie Monroe. Ellie is far from needy and doesn't rely on a man to take care of or rescue her. She is strong and can really kick some serious butt! Her side-kick, Will, has the title "Guardian" but don't let that fool you - as Ellie and Will are a team. A team that fights soul snatchers from the "Grim".

The storyline is fast-paced and full of descriptive fighting - usually hand-to-hand combat with sword play. It's good vs evil theme is classic but it has a nice paranormal twist dealing with angels and those that had fallen from God's grace. It was truly a novel that keeps one on the edge of their seat, and a true page-turner. I kept wanting (more like needing) to know what would happen next.

I did find that I had one problem with the storyline: it used Biblical events, characters, angels and God. Mind you, there is nothing wrong with using them in a fictional tale, but in this case, they or their stories were changed some. I found the changes interesting, but at the same time, uncomfortable. Taking something so well known and minutely change it, may cause some confusion in one that is not grounded well in Scripture.

"Angelfire" is a very good read, but I recommend it more for the older teen through adult. It is scary, violent and contains some offensive language.

About the Author:

Courtney Allison Moulton lives in Michigan, where she is a photographer and spends all her free time riding and showing horses. She has always loved reading about ancient mythologies, studying dead languages, and telling scary, romantic stories. Angelfire is her debut novel.

I want to thank the publisher and Net Galley for providing a copy of this book for me to honestly review.

Friday, February 18, 2011

"Angel Burn" by L.A. Weatherly - Review

Angel Burn
Author: L.A. Weatherly
Publisher: Candlewick Press
ISBN: 9780763656522
Genre: Young adult, fiction, fantasy, paranormal
Available: May 2011


Alex is 17 and one of the best assasins the CIA has. His job is to travel anywhere in United States and take out his target as quickly as possible.

Willow Fields is a beautiful 16 year old who is considered somewhat strange under teen standards. She fixes cars, buys her clothes second hand (and quite outdated) and has an unusual ability. Willow is physic. She holds the hand of a person and sees their different paths they can take and usually tells that person about the best path she sees.

One day, Willow's classmate, Beth, has her do a reading - a reading that will change Willow's life forever. Willow doesn't see any bright paths that Beth can take, but instead sees something unbelievably horrible, putting Willow in more danger than she can ever imagine.

Alex receives his next target, which happens to be Willow. When he finds her, he is confused, as she's not like any of those in his past. He discovers Willow is the key to saving humankind as we know it, and keeping the evil at bay. Alex's job changes from killing Willow to trying to keep her safe. But can he? And will Willow be able to fulfill her destiny?

"Angel Burn" has an exciting and fascination storyline. Imagine angels as you know them - not being exactly like you were told, but instead, being something twisted and sometimes downright evil. Yet, when an angel appears to you, you haven't a clue that you are being used - but instead, you are thrilled and grateful that this wonderful being has visited you!

Alex and Willow are very well developed characters with a great amount of depth. They went from not trusting each other to having to rely on keeping each other alive. This relationship didn't develop overnight, which made their situation very believable. Their trust slowly forms into something more - a pure and innocent love, making the storyline even more thrilling and memorable.

This fast-paced, action packed story will keep you immersed in Willow's and Alex's world all the way to the end. Full of intrigue, suspense, and romance, this book will not only appeal to teens but to all ages.

"Angel Burn" is the US release of the UK book "Angel" by L.A. Weatherly. It is the first book in a new and exciting trilogy. The second novel, "Angel Fire" will be available in October 2011, and the final novel, "Angel Fever", will be out in October 2012.

About the Author:

Lee Weatherly, (pen name L.A. Weatherly) is a respected author of teen fiction, including the novels Child X and Missing Abby, and is the winner of the Sheffield Teen Book Award. She was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, USA. She now lives with her husband in Hampshire, England, where she writes, goes on walks, collects frogs and has a cat named Bernard.

Thank you to Candlewick Press and Net Galley for providing this ARC for me to honestly review.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"Wrinkles, Waistlines, and Wet Pants" by Jeanne R. Kraus - Review

Wrinkles, Waistlines, and Wet Pants: Improbable Scenarios of the Not-So-Rich and the Not-So-Famous
Author: Jeanne R. Kraus
Publisher: iUniverse
ISBN 9781450200851
Genre: Humor

About the Book:
Wrinkles, Waistlines, and Wet Pants is an irreverent look at aging. Fashion, self -improvement and social etiquette are thrown out the window in this hilarious book that disregards good taste and dignity. The author disproves the theory that fifty is the new thirty with anecdotes, some of them actually true.

Existence after fifty, according to Jeanne Kraus, is fraught with peril from lifethreatening underwear to homeowners' associations. Lifestyle activities are recommended, along with full schedules of doctor visits. Humiliation lurks at every corner with shotgun makeup interventions, bodily function failures, and swiss cheese memory. Condom trees, risqué photos found in a laundry mound, and DNA-tainted ornaments all have their part in this series of incidents.

Jeanne includes advice for those aging ne'er do-wells who hope to make it to the pearly gates eventually. And even though this book will not change you in any way, there is something for everyone in Wrinkles, Waistlines, and Wet Pants. Even self-help junkies will be delighted with the three insightful but useless surveys.

Wrinkles, Waistbands, and Wet Pants was wittily written by Jeanne Kraus, and illustrated by her sister, Diana Arneson, both having experienced wrinkles, expanding waistlines, and wet pants.

My Thoughts:

Targeted towards the Baby Boomer generation, "Wrinkles, Waistlines, and Wet Pants" humorously discusses and deals with the problems that most people face after the age of 50. Jeanne Kraus lays everything out on the line and hits some of the most embarrassing things in life with such a creative bluntness, that she is guaranteed to leave your sides hurting and your eyes watering.

Normally I read in bed while my husband sleeps, however while reading this book, I woke him up so many times that he snatched the book out of my hands and told me I was not allowed to read it in bed! Instead, I read in the mornings after he went to work, and it's a good thing, because there were times I laughed so hard I cried. Oh, yes, Mrs. Kraus can really put the humor in some of the most embarrassing moments... childbirth, disposing of a Christmas tree decorated with ....ahem... "things", incontinence...

Do yourself a favor and treat yourself to a copy of "Wrinkles, Waistlines and Wet Pants". It is truly a great read that will make your day better with a laugh or two. This one is staying in my permanent library, and I'm sure it will in yours as well!

About the Author:

Jeanne R Kraus is a reading specialist in a south Florida elementary school. A lifelong writer, she enjoys writing and publishing poetry for children. Her two children's books were published by Magination Press. (Cory Stories:A Kid's Book About Living with ADHD and Annie's Plan: Taking Charge of Schoolwork and Homework)

Her short story "The Invitation" is published in The Ultimate Bird Lover by HCI Press. Jeanne Kraus is a frequent public speaker/ humorist.

To learn more about Jeanne, you can visit her website at: . Jeanne also has a blog located at:

Book was supplied through Bostick Communications for me to honestly review.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

"The Spoils of Eden" by Linda Lee Chaikin - Review

The Spoils of Eden
Author: Linda Lee Chaikin
Publisher: Moody Publishers
ISBN: 9780802437495
Genre: Fiction, Christian fiction

About the Book: 
Amid the looming spiritual and political crisis in Hawaii, Eden Derrington and Rafe Easton are  thrust into a conflict that will forever change their beloved Hawaii and threaten to derail their future marriage. When Eden, representing the Hawaiian Board of Health at Kalihi Leper Hospital is sent to Rafe’s plantation to take baby Kip  to Kalihi to quarantine him  indefinitely, an emotional volcano of  suspected betrayal threatens to turn their love relationship to ashes.

Someone has alerted  the Board that the baby Rafe saved and brought to Honolulu came from the Kalawao leper colony. 
Since the law strictly forbids children born of lepers from being adopted  Kip’s future seems destined toward tragedy. And what of  Eden and Rafe after their engagement is broken? When Eden’s father, Dr. Jerome, returns to open a  clinic at Kalawao, she joins her father, leaving Rafe to run for the legislature and attempt to change the children’s law. 

My Thoughts:

Many times when I'm in the mood for a good Christian romance novel, I find that after I'm finished reading the book I've chosen, I feel good, but also feel like I've missed something. Too many times the storyline is good, but the characters are not in-depth enough or the whole story is just too predictable.

I will be honest and expected the same from "Spoils of Eden". Instead, I found a book that took place in Honolulu in 1891 and was rich in the history of Hawaii, well before Hawaii was part of the United States. With the Islands being reigned by Princess Liliuokalani, the want of Hawaii to become part of the US, and all the rich descriptions of the island, I knew this book was going to be something much better than the typical romance! I found that once I started this novel, I couldn't put it down and was saddened to finish it. I so wanted it to continue!!

The main character, Eden and her "finance" Rafe, are both wonderful characters that try to live the Christian life. That doesn't mean their lives are perfect nor does it mean that they come from wonderful Christian families. Instead, they are very realistic, and come from families that struggle with some very dark backgrounds.

The romance part in this novel is interesting, as it comes from the side of the male. Rafe loves Eden and wants to be married, but Eden has made a promise to her father she intends to keep - even if it means alienating Rafe. It made the storyline more fascinating to me. The other family members and their side-stories were also interesting, because power and money dictated what would happen in their lives and happiness wasn't normally a consideration.

"The Spoils of Eden" is a fantastic beginning to a very promising series. I cannot wait for the next book in "The Dawn of Hawaii" series to be released! Linda Lee Chaikin is a "new to me" author, and after reading this novel, I have a strong feeling she will be making my favorite authors list. I'm putting all of her other books on my must-read list!

About the Author:

LINDA LEE CHAIKIN has written over thirty top selling books, including The Silk House series and For Whom the Stars Shine, a finalist for the prestigious Christy Award.  Two of her novels have been awarded the Silver Angel Award for excellence.  Linda is a graduate of Multnomah Biblical Seminary in Portland, Oregon, and taught neighborhood Bible classes for many years.  She and her husband make their home in Northern California where her favorite recreations are reading and taking vacations where the wind blows through lonely deserts and ghost towns.

Visit Linda’s website at You can also join other fans at

Book was provided by NetGalley for me to honestly review. 

Friday, February 4, 2011

"Diagnosis Death - Prescription for Trouble Series #3" by Dr. Richard L. Mabry, MD - Review

Diagnosis Death - Prescription for Trouble Series #3
Author: Dr. Richard L. Mabry, MD
Publisher: Abingdon Press
ISBN: 9781426710216
Genre: Fiction, Medical Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Release Date: April 2010

About the Book:
When her comatose husband dies in the ICU while on life support, the whispers about Dr. Elena Gardner begin. Another death during her training puts her under suspicion. When the pattern is repeated in the hospital where she is attempting to start over, the whispers turn into a shout: “mercy killing.”

What is the dark secret that keeps Allison’s lips sealed when she should be defending herself? Despite her move to a new city, the midnight phone calls that started after her husband’s death follow Elena. Who is the woman who sobs out, “I know what you did?” What does she mean by “You’ll pay?” And what can Elena do to prevent it?

Two physicians, widowers themselves, offer support, telling Elena they know what she is going through after the death of her husband. But do they? And is it safe to trust either of them with her secret?

My Thoughts:

Dr. Mabry has done it again with "Diagnosis Death"! I swear with each book in the series, they just get better and better!! I love Dr. Mabry's prose and style. He creates characters that are real and what I find most fascinating is that he writes from a woman's point of view (and does it very well I may add).

"Diagnosis Death" centers around a young doctor, Dr. Elena Gardner, who's training is just about to complete when a patient in a coma suspiciously dies. She has been rumored to have "helped" her husband who was also in the same situation a few months before and is now under suspicion for this death as well. She knows she didn't do it - or at least cannot remember doing it, and needs to find out the truth. This story is full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing all the way to the end!! Truly a page-turner, this book kept on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen next.

"Diagnosis Death" is the third novel of the series, and it was said to be the last. I have since heard that Dr. Mabry has signed on to do a fourth book called "Lethal Remedy" that is due out in September. To say that I'm excited with this news is a tremendous understatement!

If you love medical thrillers, mysteries - especially cozy mysteries, then you'll love Dr. Mabry's books. Make sure to mark you calendar for the release of this exciting book in April 2011. While you are waiting, treat yourself and pick up the first two in the series , "Code Blue" and "Medical Error" - you won't regret it!

About the Author:

Dr. Richard Mabry built a worldwide reputation as a clinician, researcher, author, and teacher before retiring from medicine. He entered the field of non-medical writing after the death of his first wife, with the publication of his book, The Tender Scar: Life After The Death Of A Spouse.

Richard describes his work as "medical suspense with heart." Diagnosis Death is his third novel. His first novel, Code Blue, was published by Abingdon Press in April of 2010 and was followed by "Medical Error" in September of 2010.
He and his wife, Kay, live in North Texas.

Visit the author's website.
Visit the author's blog.

This book was supplied through NetGalley for me to honestly review.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Review of "Wanda E. Brunstetter's Amish Friends Cookbook Volume 2"

Wanda E. Brunstetter's Amish Friends Cookbook Volume 2
Author: Wanda E. Brunstetter
Publisher: Barbour Books
ISBN: 9781602603455
Genre: Non-fiction, Cookbook, Amish

About the Book: (from Amazon)

Bring home-cooked dishes from the heart of Amish country into your kitchen with Wanda E. Brunstetter’s Amish Friends Cookbook Volume 2. With recipes divided into sections including breads and rolls, desserts, main dishes, salads and sides, jams and jellies—and more!—you’ll find only the best of home cooking between the pages of this delightful book.

My Thoughts: (Please note that I'm commenting on the e-book version)

The first thing I notice about this book was the absolutely stunning photography and beautiful design of the pages. Each recipe section starts with a Biblical quote (taken from the King James Bible) and every other recipe section has information about an Amish community and their locations, why they relocated to that region, and how they differ from each other.At the end, there is a subject index and a few pages for notes.

The recipes are on bordered pages with a beautiful mottled background creating an instant "country" feeling. The photography that accompanies some of the recipes are downright mouthwatering and demands that you need to recreate one of these recipes immediately! I know I couldn't resist and whipped up a batch of French Dressing (pg. 199) for dinner the same day I received this book.

Growing up in Amish country, I found many of the recipes that I not only recognize but still make today, and was thrilled to see some that I have not had since I was young. The Ham &; Bean Soup (pg. 159) tastes like the exact same recipe that my friend's mother used, and when she passed away, we thought we'd never have it again! The Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies (pg. 93) are much better than that found on the back of the chocolate chips bag and the Scotcharoos (pg. 126) are not only easy, but delicious.

This book is a treasure that needs to be added to your permanent cookbook collection. It is guaranteed to award tons of compliments and many, many recipe requests! 

About the Author:

Award-winning, best-selling author, Wanda E. Brunstetter, became interested in writing about the Amish when she married her husband Richard who grew up in a Mennonite church in Pennsylvania. Wanda and Richard have many Amish friends in several Amish communities across the country. In addition to Wanda's many novels about the Amish, she's written several Amish-themed children's books, two Amish cookbooks, and an Amish devotional. She's also written hundreds of short stories, articles, poems, and puppet scripts. Wanda and her husband have two grown children and six grandchildren.

E-Book was supplied by Net Galley for me to honestly review.