Saturday, March 31, 2012

Abby Finds Her Calling: Home at Cedar Creek - Book One by Naomi King

Abby Finds Her Calling: Home at Cedar Creek - Book One. Naomi King. New American Library Trade Paperback, Penguin Group. March 2012. 320 Pages. ISBN #: 9780451235732.

Welcome to a new series about the Amish community in Cedar Creek, Missouri. It's a beautiful fall day which bridegroom James Graber is relishing as he watches the carriages of Amish from surrounding and far away communities converge on Cedar Creek for James's wedding that day.  Watching them arrive, James is contemplating his future wife, Zanna, whom he loves and is determined to cherish for the rest of their lives. Things seem to go completely awry a few minutes later when Zanna's sister, Abby, comes to tell James that Zanna is nowhere to be found.  What a disaster - embarrassment galore, shame, anger, fury, confusion and so much more are felt and expressed.  The Bishop who was to marry them decides they will worship and celebrate life in spite of the lack of a bride and groom.

So begins a story in which Zanna does reappear but in a condition that all blame her and James for, which was really caused by a secret other.  Because of her sin, Zanna is "banned" (or shunned) for six weeks by her community, but it takes a lot longer than that for the community to heal and begin to treat her civilly.  

During that time, secrets will be revealed.  A lost son will return through a terrible tragedy and the unexpected will happen to both Zanna and Abby, who has mentally nurtured a hidden love of her own she's had for eons it seems.    It may seem a bit stretched the way it all turns out, but that happens in a very nice way that the reader will definitely enjoy.  

Naomi King has a very unique gift of presenting a simple romance with a few twists and turns.  Her unique talent is making sure every possible point of view is expressed in a credible, real way that is quite edifying and electric with tension.  Not many authors who write this type of fiction have such a balanced perspective.  It's not a touchy, feel good book, just a very honest story about love and grace gone amiss and the honestly difficult but determined journey it takes to come truly "home."

Very nicely done, Ms. King!

The Way by Kristen Wolf

The Way. Kristen Wolf. Crown Publishing Group. July 2011. 368 Pages. ISBN #: 9780307717696.

The Earth is the Mother's and all that flows from there. Staying one with the Mother through meditation and respect for creation yields right relationships and blessings in the fruits of creation. These are some of the fundamental beliefs that the followers of the Way have followed for centuries, but now it is women who live these beliefs as the religion of men has grown in order to justify male domination. The latter is now determined to eradicate the Way and all of its followers by whatever means possible.

This is the world into which Anna is born. Her mother may have been a follower but is weakened by a domineering, abusive husband. After her mother bears a stillborn child and then dies herself, Anna's father sells her to traveling shepherds, but not before a wise woman protects Anna from worse.  A mysterious necklace is all Anna has to remind her of a sacred, healing power existing somewhere in the world. Anna, one realizes is a girl but has the facial features of a boy for which she is despised and feared as an emanation of something evil.

After she has learned the work of shepherding, she hears more of this Way briefly but is more preoccupied with the male role she is constantly living and making friends with the leader and another man, Peter, who has secret feelings for this young boy now known as Jesus. The story gradually changes to the point where Jesus is sent on a mission to get supplies and comes upon those women living in a cave in the secret area known as "The Narrows." Here Jesus' real identity is uncovered and she gradually becomes trusted enough to learn of the Way and the troubles that threaten its very existence.

Jesus begins to travel and the story unravels to the point where events occur that defy most readers' expectations on their own religious upbringing and education. Surprises and agonizing attacks and more loom on every page.

The Way is quite simply an astonishing story that is both credible and incredible. It stretches the imagination, one's doubts, wonder, beliefs over and over again, leaving one with questions and answers galore! Fascinating fiction!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Against the Night: The Raines of Wind Canyon by Kat Martin

Against the Night: The Raines of Wind Canyon. Kat Martin. Mira Books. February 2012. 400 Pages. ISBN #: 9780778313199.

Former Army Ranger and now Private Investigator, Johnnie Riggs is hanging out in a strip joint looking for a crook who's skipped his bail. But his attention is very distracted by a sexy gal who's an exotic pole dancer. Finally, he sees his prey and grabs him, but Johnnie returns to ask the dancer out. This is the first in a series of novels called The Raines of Wind Canyon, and it strikes a new pose for Kat Martin!

Angel is not the loose woman she appears to be; apparently, she's (Amy) come to the big city, Los Angeles, from Michigan to find her missing sister. She'd love to ask Johnnie to help her after she finds out who he really is, but she's sure she can never afford what she believes is probably an exorbitant fee. The sparks are definitely flying between these two and at first it takes all their inner strength not to fall into bed immediately. The story progresses when Johnnie at first is annoyed that she wants his help instead of just providing some action, but he just can't resist being with her!

Both the romance and the criminal side of the story rapidly progress with the search for Rachel, a beautiful woman as well who came to the city to become a star but got caught up with a creep making huge promises but with other nefarious ideas in mind for employing her. When Johnnie and Amy set out on their mission, they have no idea how their search will threaten their own lives and their passion as well!!!

Kat Martin has done a fine job again with this latest romance/crime thriller novel. The characters in this new first novel in a series are edgier in one sense, which gives them an air of unpredictability that adds to the suspense of the story. Trusting and love are sometimes part of a perilous journey, and Johnnie and Amy bring the form to the top of the game! Very nicely done, Kat Martin!

All He Saw Was The Girl by Peter Leonard

All He Saw Was The Girl. Peter Leonard. The Story Plant. May 2012. 290 Pages. In Paperback and E-Book Formats. ISBN #: 9781611880424.

Two college students, McCabe and Chip, are students out on the town who've had a wee bit too much to drink. Chip gets the bright idea to steal an Italian taxi and enjoy a joy ride. But things don't turn out so well for McCabe. Chip's very wealthy and powerful father saves the day by rescuing his son and giving him one tongue lashing. He does succeed, however, in infuriating some mob characters in prison over a pack of stolen cigarettes. McCabe, meanwhile, is warned by the College Dean that he will be dismissed if there are anymore unruly and troubling antics, a threat that would mean the end of his scholarship.

It seems the mob characters have bad memories and decide that kidnapping Chip, getting some knocks back, and demanding ransom money will even the scales of justice. The only problem is that they mistake McCabe for Chip and kidnap the wrong victim. Now the hunt is on to save McCabe (and his scholarship), who has been sucked into the scheme by a very sexy lady.

The scene just as quickly shifts to Detroit, the home of the mob characters holding McCabe. It seems the husband of our sexy gal has quit the Secret Service and is looking for his absent wife. He's got some competition, though, from the mob boss. To say more would ruin the story but it's non-stop action, truth, lies, battles, death threats, and high-stake scenes that keep one flipping the pages (or buttons in e-book form) and unable to figure out how it will all come down in the end.

Peter Leonard definitely knows how to craft and pace an international and domestic crime thriller. This second novel read by this reviewer is just as thrilling as the first. Readers who want to get engrossed in a fast-paced, unpredictable story will love this novel!!!