Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Last Word

This book provided for review by The B&B Media Group
The Last Word by Kathy Herman is book #2 in her Sophie Trace Trilogy. Kathy Herman never disappoints and this is another fine example of her work. I hadn't read the first book in this series yet (The Real Enemy) but was able to follow the storyline without any confusion.

Police Chief Brill Jessup is being threatened by someone she helped put in prison several years ago, he's murdered several police officers and she's next on his list. Brill evades him while dealing with her pregnant-with-my-professor's-baby college age daughter who is home for the summer. Will Vanessa keep the baby or give him up for adoption? The professor has vanished from her life and from the school. Brill looks into his past and finds dead ends. Is he a threat to her family or is it something else?

When the bad guy finally catches up with Brill the story explodes with an unexpected twist that you've got to read to believe!

Fabulous winter reading. Kathy Herman does it again and I can't wait to read the rest of the series.

Click here for a video trailer of this book.

Here's an interview with the author:

Why do you consider your novels to be Bible studies without the homework?

I guess because my characters ask the hard questions that we all ask—and struggle until they find answers. Even though my books are exciting and entertaining, I weave the morality struggles through the storyline right along with the suspense elements to keep the reader turning the pages. I like to think of my books as “no guilt” reading. It’s fiction, but with a biblical, inspirational message that is relevant to everyday life.

For those who didn’t catch the first installment in the series, can you give us a little background about Sophie Trace and its main characters?

Sophie Trace is a fictional town in the shadow of the Great Smoky Mountains (not far from Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge). It’s pretty town of 13,000 and tourism is big. Many people who grew up here believe that a history of unexplained crimes is the work of the red shadows—the spirits of the departed Cherokee who roam the countryside seeking to do wreak havoc on the descendants of those who took their land.

In the first book, The Real Enemy, the main character, Brill Jessup, is the first female police chief in Sophie Trace. She took the position after a stellar eighteen-year career on the Memphis police force—mostly to escape some painful memories.

Brill and her husband, Kurt, are struggling through marital problems and are staying together to raise their youngest child, nine-year-old Emily. Their two oldest children, Ryan and Vanessa away at college.

While Brill is trying to cope with her unrelenting bitterness and un-forgiveness, she is faced with a series of bizarre disappearances in Sophie Trace—the biggest crime in the town’s history. She has to come to grips with the superstition around the red shadows legend and how it affects the community’s thinking—and figure out the truth of what’s going on.

Meanwhile, Kurt commits to winning her back by taking seriously the words of Romans 12:21, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” He strives to overcome the very evil he has created and put his family back together.

Tell us about the Scripture verse upon which The Last Word is based. Why is this theme so important to you?

The Last Word, the second book in the series, is based on Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes…”

I chose Romans 1:16 and built a story around it because there’s never been a time in history when believers have had a greater chance to make an impact on lost and dying world. With the Internet all the social networking venues, each of us has a chance to share our faith in ways never before possible. But so often, we don’t speak up. In fact, we don’t look or sound any different than the world. It’s as though we’ve lost our zeal for the Great Commission or simply don’t feel comfortable acting on it. My hope is that this riveting story will inspire believers to be ambassadors of the faith as we’ve been empowered to be.

Full of suspense, The Last Word follows Police Chief Brill Jessup as she tries to catch a killer on the loose. Can you describe Brill for us?

To quote her detective captain, “She’s a redheaded spitfire.” Brill’s intuition has served her well, and she can crack open a case faster than almost anyone. She’s an honest cop who brings a lot of experience to this town that is starting to experience big city crime. She’s principled. Fair. Tough. And prayerful. Her faith has been tested many times, not just on the job, but in her marriage. For Brill, law enforcement is much more than a job—it’s a calling. Though she doesn’t wear it on her sleeve, Brill strives hard to honor God in the way she treats her officers and the way she protects the community.

What dilemmas does Brill’s daughter, Vanessa, encounter during the book?

Vanessa has to decide whether or not to keep the baby she’s carrying or give him up for adoption. She’s single and still in college. The baby’s father is her psychology professor. And after she told him she was pregnant and then refused his ultimatum that she get an abortion, he disappeared without a trace. Vanessa is heartbroken but is crazy about the baby. She has no way to support him.

As if that weren’t enough, Vanessa is also friends with an old man who is dying—and she’s forced out of her comfort zone by some of his taunting spiritual questions and must decide whether she’s willing to stand up for her faith and tell him he needs Jesus. Especially when she knows she’s not a shining example of what a Christian should be.

Ultimately, Vanessa must confront the affair she had with her professor and admit to herself that it was sinful—and allow God to take away the guilt she doesn’t realize has crippled her relationship with God.

What we can expect from the last book in the trilogy?

More of the same fast-paced suspense! The final book, The Right Call, is based on 2 Peter 2:19, “For a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.” It features a character from book two that everyone is going to be wondering about, and who will be a prominent character in my Langley Manor Trilogy coming in 2011. This is a story about choosing whom we will serve—and it’s serious business!

You can purchase this book at Amazon.

Friday, December 25, 2009

My Favorite Books of 2009

So far I've read 101 books in 2009. I'm hoping for more than that in 2010. I kept track of them all on here so I printed the list out and then narrowed it down. These are in no particular order:

Get Cozy Josey by Susan May Warren (final book in the series)
Ruby's Slippers by Leanna Ellis (I swear this book was written for me!)
Sky Blue by Travis Thrasher
Dear Mom by Melody Carlson (if you have a teen-ish daughter then you need to read this book)
Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Pattillo (fun story)
For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn (I try to read this at least once a year!)
Kiss Me if You Dare by Nicole Young (final book in the series)
She's In A Better Place by Angela Hunt (final book in the series)
Limelight by Melody Carlson (LOVED the main character!)
On A Someday by Roxanne Henke

And as an honorable mention, my choice for my favorite new author "find" of the year: Jenny B Jones. I LOVE her books!
The Katie Parker Production series (In Between, On the Loose, The Big Picture) and A Charmed Life series (So Not Happening and I'm So Sure) are great YA novels that this 40 year old mom adored. Just Between You And Me is her "adult" novel which was just as good.

My other surprise was discovering Travis Thrasher. If you haven't read Sky Blue you need to. AMAZING book!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Cottonwood Whispers

Cottonwood Whispers by Jennifer Erin Valant is the sequel to the award winning debut Fireflies in December. In this volume we return to 1936 with Jessilyn and Gemma to explore more of their segregated world.

I found it interesting to read about the friendship between the white Jessilyn and the black Gemma, who they were allowed to be seen with or talk to. The story quickly takes a turn when a little girl is struck by a car and a friend of the girls is accused of this crime which he insists he didn't commit. Jessilyn is concerned with Gemmas reaction to the crime and finally the shocking truth comes out.

This story captivated me and whisked me back to a time when life was slower and a little more simple. Made me yearn for a long summer afternoon with nothing to do but sip some lemonade on a big porch.

Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Green by Ted Dekker

Guest review by my sweet husband.

This book was provided for review by Thomas Nelson.

Green, by Ted Dekker, is the beginning and the end of the Circle Series. Book 0.

How can one book start and finish a series? I’m still not exactly sure, but Green did! Picking up where White left off and leaving off where Black picks up, Green completes the series. It pulls in the Circle Series and the Paradise Series, and answered a lot of questions that I had in reading the other books.

It has been ten years of running and hiding for the Circle of albinos. The Horde has relentlessly threatened them and even killed people to prove their hatred for Elyon’s lovers. Samuel of Hunter, Thomas Hunter’s son, is ready to wage war on the Horde. Thomas and his wife Chelise try to convince the dividing Circle that killing Horde goes against all that Elyon has shown them and would only bring more violence. Thomas issues a challenge to the Horde leader and Dark Priest, hoping to end the debating, but things spin out of control. Samuel allies with the Half-breeds and nearly half the Circle follows him.

In desperation to save his son and the Circle Thomas returns to the Histories. While there, Kara Hunter and Monique de Raison are asked by a mind-reading, red-headed, young man to reveal a guarded secret that could prove disastrous. Here in lyes the connection to the Paradise Series.

I did find it to be more violent then the other Circle books and some of the gruesome images of blood (Vampirism) were rather disgusting (just as a warning to younger readers and/or those with a light stomach.) I will say that Dekker’s delve into the whole Vampire rave was a bit disappointing.

Over all I would say it is a must read in the Circle Series. If you read it as book one it makes a bit more sense for the sake of Thomas’ son. If read as book 4 it really ties the whole series together.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Treasured by Leigh McLeroy is a delightful little book. The author weaves stories of her life and stories from the Bible together to remind us how God takes care of those He loves. In it she reminds us of what our true treasures are and shows us how some of her treasures came to be.

In Treasured, Leigh McLeroy considers tangible reminders of God’s active presence and guides readers in discovering evidence in their own lives of his attentive love.

The idea for the book came from a cigar box filled with odds and ends of my grandfather’s life that arrived a few months after his death. Sifting through the objects in the box, I experienced him in a fresh new way. This made me wonder what treasures might be tucked away in Scripture that could frame God for me in an equally intimate, tangible way. This process also helped me uncover my own “treasures” of my walk with the Lord: objects that remind me of my history with him and his faithfulness to me,” says McLeroy.

Drawn from the pages of Scripture, the author considers twelve such treasures and personalizes their meaning for readers, such as a green olive branch that offers proof of God’s “new every morning” mercy and a scarlet cord that demonstrates his willingness to adopt “strays” of every sort.

Weaving these treasures together with scenes from her personal history, Leigh McLeroy invites readers to discover God’s heart for them and embrace their unique role in his redemptive story. Treasured offers readers a guided experience of God’s love and character and invites them to consider their own treasures that point to their part in God’s ongoing story.

For more information or to purchase this book click here.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

God Gave Us.....

These books were provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

In God Gave Us Love, Little Cub and Grampa Bear’s fishing adventure is interrupted by mischievous otters, and the young polar bear begins to ask questions like why must we love others . . . even the seemingly unlovable? Why is it easier to love those we like? Where does love come from? And why does God love her so much?

Grampa Bear patiently addresses each one of Little Cub’s curiosities by explaining the different kinds of love we can share: the love between friends, the love between families, the love between moms and dads, and the love for God.

He also assured Little Cub that because of the love God has given her through his Son, there’s nothing she can do to make God love her any more or any less. Through Grampa Bear’s encouraging Little Cub to love others with a “God-sized love,” children will be inspired to love others and to be patient, gentle and kind, so that in every way, they too can demonstrate God’s love.

For more about this book click here.

In God Gave Us Christmas, as Little Cub and her family prepare to celebrate the most special day of the year, the curious young polar bear has something on her mind: “Who invented Christmas?” she asks. “Is God more important than Santa?”

Her questions reflect the confusion of so many children during the holiday season. And this heartwarming story takes them on a wonderful journey of discovery—right to the heart of Christmas.

Through Mama’s gentle guidance, Little Cub learns that God loves her and everyone— polar bear, moose, or human—so much that he gave us Jesus, the very best gift of all.

For more about this book click here.

These two sweet gift-able books would be perfect for the little people on your list! The pictures are warm and fun and the stories carry a message worthy of any season. I love how family plays a top role, the relationship with Grandpa is enduring.
Lisa Tawn Bergren is the award-winning author of nearly thirty titles, totaling more than 1.5 million books in print. She writes in a broad range of genres, from adult fiction to devotional. God Gave Us Love follows in Lisa’s classic tradition of the best-selling God Gave Us You. She lives in Colorado, with her husband, Tim, and their children, Olivia, Emma, and Jack.