Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Brotherhood by Jerry B. Jenkins

From the Publisher
Boone Drake has it made. He’s a young cop rising rapidly through the ranks of the Chicago Police Department. He has a beautiful wife and a young son, a nice starter house, a great partner, and a career plan that should land him in the Organized Crime Division within five years. Everything is going right. Until everything goes horribly wrong. His personal life destroyed and his career and future in jeopardy, Boone buries himself in guilt and bitterness as his life spirals out of control. But when he comes face-to-face with the most vicious gang leader Chicago has seen in decades, he begins to realize that God is a God of second chances and can change the hardest heart . . . and forgive the worst of crimes.
My Take
Thought provoking!! Powerful life lessons! Unexpected plot resolution!
Jerry B. Jenkins has started a new police thriller series in the Precinct 11 novels. The first installment, The Brotherhood, introduces us to Boone Drake as a young go-getter cop who wants to impede gang activities on his beat. He and his partner, Jack Keller, work the night shift and put their lives on the line each and every night. When he’s moved to the day shift, he’s not home when a tragic accident hits his family.
Boone has to make the unimaginable decision to keep his wife alive or let her go. His guilt and sorrow so deeply affects him that he questions his life and faith. How can God allow such bad things happen to such good (and devoted) people? While he questions God’s actions, his bitterness grows. Jenkins asks the hard questions and makes the reader really think about their own faith—he doesn’t provide a clichĂ© explanation like so many other Christian novels do. The lesson I took from this is to cherish each and every day with your loved ones because you never know when God will call them home.
Fast forward to a year later……Boone’s partner is up for promotion in the Organized Crime Unit and Boone wants to follow him to bring down the gangs, drug lords, and the “mob”. Why should these lowlifes live to kill while his faithful family is destroyed? Why should these criminals be rewarded for their evil ways? Again, Jenkins allows the reader to dig deep and reflect on their own beliefs without providing a pat answer.
The Brotherhood dives right in to gang and mob activities that are probably more real-life than we care to admit. Boone works with one of the high ranking gangbangers who has turned his life over to God and wants to atone for his sins. Seeing the change in this criminal helps lead Boone back to the Father he once knew. Although Boone is skeptical about God’s plans, he realizes there’s a reason for those plans and a reason that certain people come into your life. A second lesson I learned is that God knows what he’s doing and it’s not our job to question His plans for us.
The book has an interesting plot and Christian theme. I’ve never read any of Jenkins’ other works (Left Behind series in particular) so I didn’t quite know what to expect. I liked the way he integrated Christian beliefs without being cheesy or preachy. It was also kind of an eye-opener to frightening organized crime activities that are out there.
That said, I did have a couple issues with the book. Not that I want to discount the tragedy with Boone’s family, but it took up the first 200 pages of the book. Personally I thought the organized crime case should have been more developed. Also, there was a jump in the time line that I thought should have been included—the year between the tragedy and the beginning of Boone’s move to the organized crime division is pretty well glossed over. However, even with those issues, the book was still interesting and unexpected (no spoiler here!). I couldn’t wait to get through the last few chapters just to see how it all ended!
I give The Brotherhood 4 out of 5 stars!

Would you like a copy of The Brotherhood? Leave me a comment & you can have a chance to win a gift certificate for your own free copy!
I received this book free from Tyndale Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (January 24, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1414309224

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Save the Date by Jenny B. Jones

From the Publisher
When the funding for Lucy's non-profit job is pulled, she is determined to find out why. Enter Alex Sinclair, former professional football star and heir to Sinclair Enterprises -- the primary donor to Lucy's non-profit organization.
Both Lucy and Alex have something the other desperately wants.
Alex has it all...except for the votes he needs to win his bid for Congress. Despite their mutual dislike, Alex makes Lucy a proposition: pose as his fiancée in return for the money she desperately needs. Bound to a man who isn't quite what he seems, Lucy finds her heart -- and her future -- on the line.
My Take
Jenny Jones is a new author to me and I love to read new authors on my bookshelf. When I began reading Save the Date, I thought it was going to be the typical “boy meets girl, boy gets girl” story line. But then the book took an unexpected turn—there is a deeper plot involved.  True Christian values are shown with Lucy’s heartfelt involvement with Saving Grace—the home she runs for homeless girls. But although Lucy does the right thing and is constantly talking to God to help her girls, she is by no means your perfect do-gooder. She’s a clutz, both physically and socially, and it’s so easy to relate to her antics. Lots of her unexpected activities made me laugh out loud.
Then there’s Alex—the wealthy, socially adept, and good looking guy who walks into Lucy’s life and literally sweeps her off her feet for a mutually beneficial partnership. They don’t really like each other but have to put up a good front to make people believe they are in love. Their conversations are  bantering interactions that have quite a lot of spunk to them. I always wished I had the ability to deliver good comeback one-liners. Lucy has that ability down to a science. Conversations between Lucy and Alex certainly aren’t boring!
Put Lucy and Alex together and you get a story of faith and overcoming life’s curveballs. Both of them have had challenges in their young lives---Lucy was dirt poor with a mom who cleaned houses and Alex was trying to live in his twin brother’s shadow. Although there is lots of discussion of faith and how God really does keep our lives on track, the book is never preaching religion. It makes you reflect on your own life and realize you ARE good enough to deserve a rich life.
This is one book I would highly recommend---it’s funny, touching, and totally believable. Any book that makes me both laugh and dig deep into my own faith is definitely worth reading. I give Save the Date 5 stars and look forward to more of Ms Jones’ books!

I received this book free from Booksneeze as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Search by Suzanne Woods Fisher

From the Publisher:
Fifteen years ago, Lainey O'Toole made a split-second decision. She couldn't have known that her choice would impact so many. Now in her mid-twenties, she is poised to go to culinary school when her car breaks down in Stoney Ridge, the very Amish town in which her long-reaching decision was made, forcing her to face the shadowed past.  
Bess Reihl is less than thrilled to be spending the summer at Rose Hill Farm with her large and intimidating grandmother, Bertha. It quickly becomes clear that she is there to work the farm--and work hard. The labor is made slightly more tolerable by the time it affords Bess to spend with the handsome hired hand, Billy Lapp. But he only has eyes for a flirty and curvaceous older girl.
Lainey's and Bess's worlds are about to collide and the secrets that come to light will shock them both.
Beautifully written, The Search is a skillfully woven story that takes readers through unexpected twists and turns on the long country road toward truth. Fans both old and new will find themselves immersed in this heartwarming--and surprising--tale of young love, forgiveness, and coming to grips with the past.

My Take
This has to be one of Suzanne Woods Fisher's best novels. Usually you get the typical Amish story--boy meets girl, boy/girl begin a relationship, challenges develop, boy/girl overcome & marry. However, in The Search there are a couple interesting sub-plots; sub-plots that I haven't seen before in Amish literature.
I found it compelling to read how decisions made a long time ago affect the lives of so many people. When only a couple people know the truth behind a secret, can they change the future? Can they push their loved ones toward a certain destiny? Or do they let life play out on its own and see what happens?
The main characters of Bess and Lainey aren't your typical Amish literature characters. They both have a mind of their own and aren't nearly as submissive as the typical Amish woman. I like that they aren't as passive as most characters and that they stand up for what they want. Is that typical in the Amish community? From what I've read, no it's not. But as a non-Amish individual, I like their personalities.
The Seach touched me with its subtle faith excerpts and discssions. There was nothing "preachy" about it at all in my opinion. The main story was entertaining and a nice, easy read. As always, I enjoyed Fisher's writing and The Search certainly kept my attention. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to curl up with a good story and interesting plot.

Available January 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books that bring the Christian faith to everyday life.  They publish resources from a variety of well-known brands and authors, including their partnership with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and Hungry Planet.

For more information, visit

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Ending Elder Abuse by Diane S. Sandell & Lois Hudson

From the Publisher
Nearly 1.6 million Americans now live in nursing homes. That number will double in the next twenty years, as medical science lengthens our life expectancies and the senior population grows. Inevitably, most of us will have to supervise the care of aging parents or grandparents, and every one of us faces the prospect of growing old and possibly frail. Thirty percent of elderly Americans say they would rather die than move into a nursing home. Their fears are well founded: Inspection documents show that more than a quarter of the nursing homes in the United States have been repeatedly cited for violations that caused serious harm or death to residents. In California, fully one third caused serious injury or death, and less than 2 percent of nursing homes had no violations!

My Take 
Bessie Lane Jarvis had lived a full and fulfilling life. She had survived the Great Depression, bore three children, watched her son go off to war, lost a son too soon and a husband after more than 60 years of marriage. She was a survivor. That is until she was moved to a nursing home. Here she was abused and beaten by a facility employee. Her family had thought she was supposed to be safe here. Bessie’s family quickly moved her to another facility after the beating but she died only six weeks later.
Ending Elder Abuse tells the story of Bessie Lane Jarvis—the mother of author Diane Sandell. In the first half of the book, Sandell discusses her own personal experience with her mom’s situation and tells us about her mom. The second half is more for the doctors, families and administrators.  There are also chapters called “Attention” directed to various groups asking them to put themselves in the elder person’s place and how the group is treating the elder. The most informative chapter, in my opinion, were the last couple chapters on evaluating and coping care concerns.
I am a caregiver for my mother and there will be a assisted living or nursing home in our future. When I had the opportunity to review this book, I was very excited thinking I was going to get some concrete assistance. Then I read the disclaimer in the book indicating “the information herein is derived from the authors’ personal experience” and that it “is not the purpose of this book to reprint all the material that is……on the subject of elder abuse prevention”. With a title of Ending Elder Abuse, a family guide I think I was expecting more than just personal experience. I wanted some guidance on how to end elder abuse or at least how to avoid it.
Overall, this was a sad, although interesting, book about Mrs Jarvis’ situation. There were a couple of short chapters that gave me information regarding our foray into elder facilities but not enough to call it a “family guide”.
I would give this book a 3 out of 5 for being a guide for families.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Fatal Judgment by Irene Hannon

From the Publisher
U.S. Marshal Jake Taylor has seen plenty of action during his years in law enforcement. But he'd rather go back to Iraq than face his next assignment: protection detail for federal judge Liz Michaels. His feelings toward Liz haven't warmed in the five years since she lost her husband--and Jake's best friend--to possible suicide. How can Jake be expected to care for the coldhearted workaholic who drove his friend to despair?

As the danger mounts and Jake gets to know Liz better, his feelings slowly start to change. When it becomes clear that an unknown enemy may want her dead, the stakes are raised. Because now both her life--and his heart--are in mortal danger.
Full of the suspense and romance Irene Hannon's fans have come to love, Fatal Judgment is a thrilling story that will keep readers turning the pages late into the night.

My Take
Irene Hannon, author of the Heroes of Quantico series, has done it again! She has taken the mystery & romance together to make the start of another excellent series—Guardians of Justice.  The story dives right in at the beginning to get the reader hooked.
Federal Judge Liz Michaels’ sister is shot in the judge’s home and it soon becomes apparent that bullet was meant for the judge. In walks, US Marshal Jake Taylor, straight from another case. He had no clue that the Judge was actually the widow of his best friend. With all the unflattering stories Jake had heard about the Judge from his embittered best friend, how was he going to protect her with unbiased professionalism?
Hannon develops the characters a little at a time to keep the reader’s interest in their developing friendship. Both the Judge and Marshal Taylor have their demons they have to work through.  But it’s those demons that have made them who they are and gotten them to this point in their lives. They each have preconceived notions of each other and, as they spend time together, they realize those notions are wrong.
This is one of those books you just “need” to keep reading---that you “need” to know what’s going to happen next. The characters draw you in so you have a hard time putting the book down. There is a faith-based undertone, but you know both characters rely on God to guide their way. I really liked this book and would highly recommend it! Hannon does it again!

About the Author
Irene Hannon is the author of more than 25 novels, including the CBA bestsellers Against All Odds, An Eye for an Eye, and In Harm’s Way. Her books have been honored with the coveted RITA Award from Romance Writers of America, the HOLT Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier award, and the Reviewer’s Choice Award from Romantic Times BOOKreviews magazine. She lives in Missouri.