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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Book Review ...

Licensed for Trouble by Susan May Warren


Author Susan May Warren's  recent release, Licensed for Trouble, is the third book in a series about PJ Sugar, the feisty young heiress to a questionable bequest and an aspiring private investigator. 

From the cover: 

PJ Sugar has no idea why she is the sole beneficiary of the town's wealthiest widow, a woman she barely even knew. But the timing couldn't be more perfect -- PJ has clearly worn out her welcome at her sister Connie's house. Even if there's barely enough in the inheritance to pay the real estate taxes on the Kellogg estate, at least it will be a roof over PJ's head.

Unfortunately, the place has seen better days, and PJ is short on cash to make the necessary repairs. Rescue comes in the form of Max Smith, a mysterious handyman who is willing to trade his skills for PJ's help in investigating his past.

But between trying to catch a bail jumper, working toward her PI license, and nurturing a budding romance with her boss, Jeremy Kane, PJ's caseload is full. If she's not careful, she'll inherit more trouble than she knows what to do with.


About the author:

Susan May Warren is an extremely prolific and versatile writer.  A complete listing of her books can be found  here. There you will see that she has written in many genres including romantic suspense, chic lit, and historical fiction.

Susan May Warren is the award-winning author of a number of novels and novellas with Tyndale, Steeple Hill and Barbour Publishing. Her first book, Happily Ever After won the American Fiction Christian Writers Book of the Year in 2003, and was a 2003 Christy Award finalist. In Sheep’s Clothing, a thriller set in Russia, was a 2006 Christy Award finalist and won the 2006 Inspirational Reader’s Choice award. A former missionary to Russia, Susan May Warren now writes Suspense/Romance and Chick Lit full time from her home in northern Minnesota.

My opinion:

Susan has a very engaging writing style that quickly draws the reader into the pages of her books. There is suspense and tension sprinkled with just the right amount of humor to let you relax and yet still keep you engrossed. The characters are well-contrived and likable. The plot is fairly basic but has enough twists and turns that you don't get from point A to point B without first following a very circuitous path.

Throughout the pages of the book, PJ, who was adopted by her family, often questions her roots and wonders about who she is and where she came from. When she becomes the heir to the Kellogg estate, questions whose answers  have remained hidden for years begin coming to light. Even though PJ is unsure of her earthly origins, she is solid in her belief in  the important fact; that she is an heir of Christ, and a child of the King.  This Biblical principal is displayed in the book of Romans, chapter 8, verse 17: "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together." (KJV)

Even though this was the third book in the series and I haven't yet read the first two, I was easily able to follow along with the plot without feeling that I was missing anything. True, there were numerous references to events in the earlier books that would have perhaps given me a greater understanding of the characters and their role in PJ's life; however, the deficit was not sufficient to make me feel that I could not follow along with the story.

When I look at the impressive list of previous books by Susan, I am astounded that this is the first book of hers that I have been privileged to read. However, from my experience with Licensed for Trouble, I can promise that it will not be my last. I will be on the lookout for past and future books by Susan May Warren to add to my collection. I heartily recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a fun, yet suspenseful, experience.

I received this book as a Goodreads First Read book. I was in no way obligated to provide a positive review and all statements contained herein are my honest opinion. I received no compensation in any form for providing my review. The book was provided by Tyndale House Publishers.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Children of All Ages...

Welcome to the Circus!

 by George W. Everett

Nearly everyone loves the circus and my initial reaction upon a first glance at this book was that everyone will love the book. Written for children between the ages of 4 and 8, it is an excellent story with several clearly defined lessons.

G.W. Frog and the Circus Lion begins with the sound of construction echoing through the confines of Frog Holler and Misty Meadow.  At first I thought it was going to be another environmental story about how man is tearing up the forests and countryside for his own selfish motives. However, I was happy to be proven wrong and discovered that it is a story about the circus coming to town. Larry the Lion is distraught because he can no longer perform due to the fact that he has no teeth; thus, he is not frightening enough to be a part of the circus parade. The story is about how the animals work together to find a solution to Larry's dilemma.

There is a page where the children can count to see how many critters are on the page. The last page of the book tells the moral of the story and includes a scripture that coincides with it. All of this is excellent and pleasing for small children. I feel they will enjoy the story and it opens the door for several age-appropriate discussions.

As I flipped through the pages, the colorful and extremely well-done illustrations immediately captivated me. I  quickly scanned the story and, while somewhat trite to an adult, I feel it will appeal to young children.

However, I was dismayed by several factors that I noticed when I read the text in a more comprehensive manner. The book is filled with misspelled words, incorrect word forms, grammatical and punctuation errors, and also contains vocabulary that is too advanced for the targeted age group. It was very disappointing to me to find these errors. I would think, from what I hear from published writers, that errors of this nature would be noticed and corrected long before the book was ever released for the retail market.

I had plans to read this book to kindergarten and first grade students at school. I planned to give a copy to my grandsons. However, I reluctantly concluded that, simply due to poor editing, I cannot feel comfortable in sharing this otherwise delightful book with others. Will I read it to the children? Perhaps. Will I purchase this book for others? Sadly, no. Can I recommend it to you? Again, no. This is sad because the book has so much potential. A little editing could have made this an excellent book for young children. Too bad someone didn't do their job a little more thoroughly.

I received this book from the author for review purposes. I was not obligated to give a favorable review and all opinions are my own. I received no compensation for this review.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Amy Inspired by Bethany Pierce (Review and Giveaway)

From the cover:  Amy Gallagher, aspiring writer, has an unabashed obsession with words. She gave up a steady, albeit unexciting, job to pursue a life of writing. However, two years and one master's degree later, she finds herself almost exactly right back where she started.  Discouraged by the growing pile of rejections from publishers and afraid that she has settled, Amy knows something has to change.
 
Then she meets the mysterious, attractive, and unavailable Eli. Amy finds herself struggling to walk the fine line between friendship and something more with Eli, even as she tries to cope with the feeling that her friends and family are moving on without her. When the unexpected begins pouring in, Amy doubts the love and fulfillment she seeks will ever come her way. Forced to take a close look at who she has become, the state of her faith, and her aspirations for her life, she must make a choice: play it safe yet again or finally find the courage to follow her dreams.
About the author: After completing a master's in Creative Writing and working as a visiting instructor at Miami University in Ohio, Bethany Pierce now lives with her husband in Charlottesville, Virginia, where she is a member of the McGuffey art Center and continues to write. Her first book, Feeling for Bones, was one of Publishers Weekly's Best Books of 2007.

My opinion: I have to confess that I have struggled more with this book review than any other I have written thus far and, consequently, have dragged my feet about posting my review. I have read many glowing reviews of Amy Inspired, but I have to say that I just don't feel the same way.  I really struggled to read and become engrossed in the story line. The characters just didn't seem to come alive to me and the interaction between them seemed artificial.

There were elements in this book that just don't coincide with my perception of right and wrong.  Unmarried, unrelated, young men and women living in the same apartment goes against my sense of propriety. The Bible admonishes us, in 1 Thessalonians 5:22,  to "abstain from all appearance of evil." (KJV)   We are also cautioned, in Romans 14:16, to "let not then your good be evil spoken of."  In light of these two scriptures, I felt conflict over some elements of the story and that detracted from my overall enjoyment of the book.  Perhaps I must chalk it up to my advanced age and the fact that I am extremely conservative in my views.

I am vastly outnumbered in my opinion of Amy Inspired and that is fine because we all know that a book that one person loves, another will detest, and vice versa. Having given my honest opinion of the book, I am now offering you the opportunity to decide for yourself.  I am running a giveaway of Amy Inspired that will expire on March 5th.  Please leave a comment which includes your email address in spam-proof format; for example: name[at]emailprovider[dot]com.  Don't forget to mention if you are a follower for an extra chance to win.

A copy of this book was provided to me for review purposes by Bethany House Publishers. I was in no way obligated to provide a positive review and all statements contained herein are my honest opinion. I received no compensation in any form for providing my review.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Rush of Wings by Kristin Heitzmann (Book Review and Giveaway)

A Rush of Wings by Kristen Heitzmann is a re-release of the book, originally published in 2003. The cover is new but the story is every bit as good as it was the first time I read it.

Noelle St. Clair is on the run. She has lost her memory and has no idea who or what she is fleeing from but she knows that there is danger and she must escape.  In her flight, she leaves behind a loving but confused father and a frightened fiance.  Her flight leads her from the pampered confines of a luxurious home, away from a doting father, and from an errant fiance to the small secluded horse ranch in the Rocky Mountains.  It is here that she finds safety, respite, and refuge.
In her attempts to hide from a danger that she cannot identify, Noelle finds herself forming new relationships and friends of a totally different ilk than any she had ever known.   Bit by bit, her memories return until the day that she is forced to face head-on the very source of her fears.  

Kristen Heitzmann keeps the reader on pins and needles as she slowly reveals and unravels the tangled threads of Noelle's past.  Just when you think you have it all figured out, another twist is revealed that makes you question all that you thought you knew and understood. Noelle slowly learns to trust, not only in her new-found friends, but she also learns to trust in a God who had been an utter stranger until Rick Spencer introduced Him to her through the Word. 

I first read this book in April of 2004 and  enjoyed it just as much when I read it again in December of 2010.  Noelle's story is a story that tells of hope in the time of despair, peace in the time of turmoil, and safety in a time of peril.  It was a pleasure to watch as Noelle grew from being afraid to trust anyone to learning to trust in both God and others.  It was exciting to see how Noelle discovered the truths that are found in Psalms 91:2:  "I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust," and also in Psalms 46:1: "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." (KJV)

For more information about A Rush of Wings and other books by Kristen Heitzmann, visit her web site at http://www.kristenheitzmannbooks.com/.  You may also purchase her books at Amazon, Barnes and NobleChristian Book Distributors, other online book dealers, or your favorite local bookstore.

A copy of this book was provided to me by Bethany House Publishers for review purposes.  I received no compensation for this review nor was I under any obligation to provide a favorable review.  All comments are my own true and unsolicited observations. 

I am offering something just a little bit different than usual as a giveaway for this post.  Instead of giving away a copy of A Rush of Wings, I am offering  another book by Kristen Heitzmann.  The book I am giving away is titled The Still of Night and is yet another good book  by this author.  Amazon has this book labeled as Book #2 in The Rush of Wings Series.  However, on Kristen's web site, both of these books are listed as stand-alone novels, so I don't quite understand the Amazon label.  At any rate, I think that you will enjoy it and derive much pleasure from the time spent reading.

As always, be sure to leave a comment which includes your email address in spam-proof format; i.e., yourname[at]emailprovider[dot]com.  If you do not leave an email address, I have no way to contact you and another name will be drawn as the winner.  You can earn extra chances to win by doing the following:

1) Become a follower of Write About Now.  You MUST say you are a follower in your comment or you will not receive credit for the extra entry.

2) Visit Kristen Heitzmann's web site and tell me one thing you read on her site. This can all be put into one comment.  It is not necessary to put all of the information in separate comments.

This contest will run until February 28th.