Diagnosis Death

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Title: Diagnosis Death
Author: Richard Mabry
Series: Prescription For Trouble
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Pages: 288
Released: April 27, 2011

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After her husband dies, Alena Gardner’s main concern is to get away from the hospital that she sat in for months. If only the calls would stop. Calls come every Tuesday night at midnight and remind her of her husbands death.

With her residency almost up and another person who dies, same circumstances, same illness. Now a cloud of doubt is hovering over her and her ability to practice. When she gets a job practicing with Cathy Sewell, she hopes this is the move she needs to get rid of all the memories and her midnight caller.

When that doesn’t work, will she be able to catch the person, or will her career end before it ever really get started?
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Having read a book by Richard Mabry before, I was prepared for how this book was going to go. I was looking forward to reading a medical drama suspense and wasn’t disappointed about what I got. Richard Mabry’s books just get better and better with experience. He writes a great medical suspense that really grips readers.

Mr. Mabry writes a book that shows how difficult and demanding a doctor’s job really is and how long they work. He also writes a realistic and believable and one where it’s near impossible to guess “whodunit”. That’s right, I didn’t guess it. The author makes the smart decision of little to no hints or clues as to who is doing this to our main character. Leaving you as much in the dark as the character is.

There’s also a touch of romance in this book. Just enough to get a taste but not so much as to distract from the main story line or to override the organized feeling that this book has. When I say a touch I mean about five percent of the book, at the absolute most, was romance. Normally I’d be disappointed that that was all that there was, but in this case, I actually feel like it was unnecessary. The author could’ve scrapped the whole romance idea and it wouldn’t have changed the story line or the quality of the book.

Because this author is a doctor himself, his novels are realistic and accurate in their portrayal of doctors and I learn something new every time I read one of his novels. It’s nice to learn all you can about your choice of career, or something similar to it. This author is truly a unique one.

Overall, this book is unique and perfect for people who love medical suspense or medical dramas. I give this book a three and a half out of five.

I received this complimentary galley from the publisher and Net Galley specifically for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Heart’s Sacred Song

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Title: Love’s Sacred Song
Author: Mesu Andrews
Publisher: Revell
Pages: 448
Published: March 1, 2012

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After his famous father dies, young King Solomon is now left standing in his shadow. As he maneuvers threats of war and to his throne, he has to use every ounce of the wisdom that Jehovah promised him. With his bravado in hand he accepts a treaty bride contract from a farmer in Shunem. His new bride has captured his heart in ways that he didn’t think existed and he now wonders if his little shepherdess will last in his hostile harem.

All Arielah wants is Solomon’s heart and is glad that she gets to show him what true love really is. The dangers of going into Solomon’s harem are many, not only are the other wives hostile but so are some of his very close advisers. She’s willing to risk her life for Israel and to show Solomon what Jehovah can do.

Can Solomon protect Arielah from the danger coming in from all sides? Can Arielah gain Solomon’s whole heart despite his other obligations to his other wives? Or will everything they’re working toward to crumble from the scheming of those jealous of them?
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This book isn’t exactly what I expected. I expected a water-down or sugar-coated biblical romance, but this book is the complete opposite of that. Mesu Andrews made sure her book was brutally honest in the dangers surrounding this time in Solomon’s reign, as well as the life and obligations of a king.

Taken from the Song of Solomon I also expected to be a sweet and romantic courtship, I never got that. The romance in this book isn’t the stuff of dreams and is full of struggles and conflicts on both Arielah’s and Solomon’s side. However, it paints an honest picture of what a romance between a king and a shepherdess might have been like. Making this book memorable.

I noticed that for a lot of the book, Solomon acted more like a petulant child than a grown king. He’s so used to getting his way that when Arielah denies him, he doesn’t quite know what to do. So he stomps off and goes and marries ten or twenty brides to get her out of his head, which doesn’t work. I found that it didn’t really help my opinion of Solomon and didn’t make his character likable until he did something that showed who he could’ve been if he wasn’t king.

The dangers and suspense of the story was really well written. The author doesn’t attempt to conceal who is the deceptive ones in Solomon’s kingdom, but she does use suspense well in making the reader wonder if Solomon and Arielah will fall for their tricks and whether or not they will get away with it. Making a new kind of mystery that I enjoyed.

The ending to this book is one that left me emotionally confused. I don’t really know what to think of it. It’s one that I want to know how others reacted to it and ask that people tell me. It one that is probably best read alone and processed, then shared. It threw a monkey wrench in my view of this book and left reeling, I don’t really know what I should rate this book anymore.

This book is a gritty, realistic view of biblical times and isn’t a frilly romance. It is well written but the behavior of Solomon and the ending make this book hard to really categorize. It’s perfect for anyone who enjoys biblical fiction. I give it a four out of five.

I received this complimentary copy of this book from Revell for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Interview w/ Mesu Andrews

In honor of Mesu Andrew’s new book release, Love’s Sacred Song, I was blessed with the opportunity to use my first author interview on her. This is her second book and Revell has signed on two more for March of 2013 and 2014, so if you like her work it’ll be a long wait but completely worth the wait.

Here’s the interview with Mesu:

What made you want to write a historical fiction novel set in Biblical times?
My first love has always been Bible study, and I first tried to publish an allegorical study on Song of Songs but ran into repeated roadblocks because I have no formal credentialing. My friend suggested (dare I say nagged) that I write the allegory in biblical fiction style, and a wise editor suggested I started reading heavily in the genre if I planned to write in it. I accepted both tidbits of wisdom and am forever grateful.
Is there anything that you want readers to grasp from this book?
Absolutely! But my agenda for the book may be different than the Spirit’s still, small voice. It’s my prayer that everyone who reads Love’s Sacred Song will be stirred by the overwhelming power of God’s love, but the greater goal is that readers will be driven back to God’s Word. As a Bible teacher at heart, I long for Scripture to speak to people as they read it. The Bible is God’s personal love letter to each one of us, and it’s my desire that reading Love’s Sacred Song will in some way open a new dialogue between the reader and the Beloved.
How much of this book is realistic?
My standard answer is: As much as possible! I maintain the details of Scripture; then work in the historical data; and lastly, I fill in with imagination. The names of Solomon’s advisors, the concept of twelve new districts, Solomon’s Ammonite wife and firstborn son—all these are scripturally accurate. Solomon’s blotting out the tribal divisions and some of King Hiram’s involvement was gained through historical research. The Sons of Judah, the Daughters of Jerusalem (as individuals rather than a non-descript chorus), a secret conspiracy—these were fiction. Pulling all three levels of information together in a believable story is accomplished through much prayer and trembling!
Are there any new authors that have captured your interest?
I still feel “new” on my second book, so if it’s okay, I’ll mention a couple of other authors who have only two biblical fiction releases out. Roseanna White and Sandi Rog have recently published their second books in this genre and have done a fabulous job. White’s Jewel of Persia gives an amazing twist on the Queen Esther story, writing from the perspective of another Jewish girl taken as Xerxes wife before Esther. Rog’s second novel, Yashua’s Bridge, is a wonderful story about the early church, a sequel to her debut novel, The Master’s Wall. Both are excellent writers and good friends.

Do you have any tips or advice for prospective writers?
Keep writing. Do it because you must, not because you want to get rich or be famous. I can testify that even after you’re published, the rich and famous thing is a long-shot! Ha!

When I stopped writing to get published, and started writing because I loved writing, my writing changed. I changed.

As Christ followers, we ultimately write for an audience of One. Granted, we must write to the market trends, but as I look back on that writers’ conference when my original manuscript was picked up, I realize it was more of a timing thing than a talent thing. Revell was looking for a biblical fiction manuscript at that conference. God knew I’d been working on it for seven years. If I had stopped after six years, another biblical fiction author would have gotten that contract. Christ-followers can rest in the knowledge that our future is guided by the loving Shepherd of our hearts.

Thanks so much for giving me the opportunity to share a bit with your readers! If anyone would like to keep in touch, they can visit my website @ http://www.mesuandrews.com/. Or sign up for free weekly e-devotionals @ http://www.mesuandrews.com/deep-o-tionals-2/acts-of-the-apostles/. Also, I’ve added pictures of a potential “Solomon” and “Arielah” to my Pinterest Board for Character Faces…check it out and leave a comment! Or give your own suggestions!

Thanks again to Mesu Andrews, who took time out of her hectic, deadline filled day to answer my questions. If you guys want get in touch with Mesu Andrews please follow the links above and be sure to check those “Solomon” and “Arielah” pictures and state your opinion.

My review for this book should be up in a few days so stay tuned for that. Thanks for reading this interview.

First Date

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Title: First Date
Author: Krista McGee
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Pages: 336
Released: January 10, 2012

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Addy Davidson just wants to get a scholarship at an Ivy League college and she doesn’t want anything to get in the way of that. The last thing she wants is to be on a reality TV show where the prize is a prom date with the President’s son. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happens when she is chosen to be one out of a hundred girls to compete to catch the eye of Jonathan Jackson.

Now, she’s competing in a competition she never auditioned for and never would’ve. She just wants to go home and have her first date with someone she knows well. Thankfully, she finds a friend, if only the other girls were as friendly as Kara. And if only they made it easy to share her faith with them. Will she win the competition? Or will she do more important things?
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This book is a fun teen book with a good amount of cheese. It’s cheesy, however, I think that life needs a bit of cheese every now and again and as long as it isn’t a constant thing I enjoy a cheesy book every once in a while.

Though it’s a tad cheesy, the author comes up with a great reality TV idea: a mixture of America’s Got Talent, Survivor, and The Bachelor. It probably won’t become an actual TV show, but it was a fun idea that was the reason for the book’s cheesiness. It allows the reader to see just how much the girls aren’t well-rounded, unlike what the producers want. It’s a physical and mental challenge for everyone involved and not necessarily because of the challenges in the show; when you put a hundred girls in close quarters and have them fight over a good-looking guy, it’s surprising that at some point there wasn’t a hair pulling, screaming fight.

Despite the cheesy reality show, this book is actually really good. It’s a story about a girl who grows in her faith and comes out of her shell. There are things in this story that are mixed up. Some things are too hard on her and some things are way too easy on her. The other girls and host of the show are way too hard on her and sharing her faith, particularly with Christian hater, is just way too easy. However, the author makes it work well and you put down the book with a feeling that the author understood teens completely.

This author really did write a book that understood teen perfectly. She wrote a fun book that deals with the fears and insecurities of Christian teen girls. Will that push this book onto my favorite list? Probably not. It did make it onto my keeper list though. It also made me look forward to her next book, Starring Me, with Kara as the main character.

Overall, though it’s cheesy, it’s a fun read for any Christian teens and possibly preteens. I recommend it for preteens, teens, and even adults who want to learn how teens think. I give this book a three out of five.

I received this complimentary copy of this book from the Booksneeze program for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Sarai

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Title: Sarai
Author: Jill Eileen Smith
Publisher: Revell
Series: Wives of the Patriarchs
Pages: 320
Published: March 1, 2012

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When Abram finally requests the hand of his beautiful half sister Sarai, she asks only one thing- that he not take another wife. Her father finds this promise restrictive and only agrees if she makes a promise as well. She has to procure Abram a son and heir or else Abram’s promise is null and void. Sarai is confident that she can keep up her end of the deal, so she agrees.

As years pass and Sarai has yet to give birth even once, she becomes desperate to fulfill her end of the bargain, lest Abram decide he no longer has to keep his. How far will Sarai go to bear a son? And how long will Abram’s patience last?
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This book takes a Bible story every Christian knows well and makes it into a story that tugs your heart and makes the magnitude of that time for Sarai evident in every turn of the page. Jill Eileen Smith has such insight into her character development and historical and biblical accuracies. She makes her stories come alive in a way that I’ve very rarely had happen before. It makes your heart twist every time the characters’ doubts and fear override their faith, because you know that God never forgets a promise.

Though I know this story well, this book adds new perspectives into my knowledge of the story, it makes the pain and feeling of failure on Sarai’s part all the more real. It made my perception of this story change in ways I never thought possible. This author is so much more than I expected; this book is so much more than expected. This book is slathered in drama and faith that it’s hard for any reader to come out untouched by this story. This book definitely reawakened my want to read this biblical story again.

As for characters, the author defined each character differently making wants, desires, and needs all different for each character. The biblical version didn’t really delve into the personal lives and feelings of the characters and the author changed that with incredible insight into the lives of women in this situation and women living in biblical times. This author took a well known Bible story and expanded it into a glorious fictitious story.

Taking a Bible story and remaking it into a fiction book probably isn’t easy. There’s so much to take into consideration, there’s the biblical accuracy as well as historical accuracy to take into account and this author balances it really well, she uses a little bit of modern language but it makes the story more readable and isn’t noticed overly much. The author mixes history and her imagination very well in this book and it makes this story believable. The way this book was written shows the author’s passion for her subject matter.

There isn’t really romance in this book, like I originally thought, but the love that is evident in Sarai and Abram after over fifty years of marriage is the stuff of dreams. Passion is the last thing Sarai and Abram’s marriage is lacking. There is sex mentioned in this book, naturally due to the contents, however, it’s discreet and talked about in biblical lingo. Seduction is also something handled in this book, again discreetly and again in biblical language, making hardly something to worry about.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this biblical remake and I think it’s perfect for those that love biblical fiction. It’s probably not best for younger readers or young teens, but I’d say it’s perfect for a late teenager and any adult. I give this book a four out of five.

I received this complimentary copy of this book from the publisher specifically for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

A Sound Among The Trees

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Title: A Sound Among The Trees
Author: Susan Meissner
Publisher: Waterbrook Multnomah
Published: October 1, 2011
Pages: 336

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When Marielle Bishop marries into a family that lives in a house filled with history and shrouded in secrets. She is soon led to believe that the house she now lives in is haunted by the ghost of Susannah Page and brings misfortune upon every woman that lives there. She now finds that in order to find the truth she has to sift through the rumors and discover what’s really up with this house.

Susannah Page was rumored to be a Civil War spy for the North, a traitor to her Virginian roots. After all that people believe that she’s done, it’s no surprise that people will believe that the house is haunted by Susannah’s ghost, looking for retribution for her sins. But is it all just rumors or is it true and is Marielle put in danger?
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I don’t really understand what this book is really supposed to make me feel. It’s about a ghost that may or may not exist and a whole host of characters with backstories that I would have loved to read about, but that doesn’t happen. The whole story revolves around this spirit that supposedly haunts this house, but Marielle’s new grandmother-in-law, Adelaide, thinks that the house itself has a grudge, not Susannah’s ghost.

This author tried really hard to refute all the rumors and ideas about the ghost, but I can’t help but feel that she didn’t fully succeed. Also, this whole book revolves around the idea that a house can control what happens to the people in it, Adelaide thinks that the house is holding a grudge and another character believes that it’s the complete opposite the, house wants to bless and help and heal people. The whole idea is just ridiculous, house do not define our futures.

The story kind of chugs away at a snail’s pace for about half the book and then we finally get to a really good part, Susannah’s part. You finally get to read the elusive letters by Susannah that shows what really happened during the Civil War. It’s somehow supposed to show the connection of the house and show that she’s not haunting the house but the connection is weak and disappointing. I would’ve loved, however, to just edit Susannah’s letters into novel form and added some detail and read that without the whole ghost in house thing.

This book touches way too much on the supernatural, the book includes the clairvoyant and creepy feelings that supposedly mean that there is a ghost in the house. A part of me wonders how this book made it into the Christian market and then I realize that, like every market, the Christian market is changing as well, which most of the time I like, but if it allows books like this and books with werewolves and vampires to come to fruition then I feel like it needs to come to a screeching halt.

This book was a huge disappointment for me. I jus feel like it was a book that shouldn’t have been touched unless the storyline was airtight and solid. This book really wasn’t that, it was jumbled and left me feeling like it was 336 pages of nothing, it was full of words but didn’t really say anything. Maybe someone else liked it. If you did please tell me.

Overall, not a very good book for a traditional Christian, but maybe for a more liberal Christian. I recommend this book for someone who has read books similar to this and liked them. I give this book a two and a half out of five.

I received this complimentary copy of this book specifically for this review. All opinions expressed were my own.