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Christian Fiction: General / Special


Finding Mr Goldman

- A Parable

by David Rhodes


What a novel read! I really enjoyed this modern day parable.  It was creative and thought provoking.

Rhodes has a really readable style. The chapters were nice and short and the story was easy to follow and in places it made me laugh and in places it reminded me of what a horrible place this world has become.

It is written in today's society, and that is reflected in the rawness of the topics covered and the prophanities used by GOLDMAN and his hedonistic desires and what he sees as his right to take regardless of its consequences or who it affected and hurt.

I like the way Goldman's companion for his journey is the very unlikely tramp who he had seen fit to ignore before, but when reality struck he came to see past the lack of wealth and cleanliness but found instead acceptance and love.

I would highly recommend it especially as an evangelistic tool



Review by Zoë Stevenson  (21/09/15)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: February 2015
ISBN: 978-0-281-07332-0
Paperback
Price: £10.99

Taking The Hight Road

- Fiction Shorts

by Harry Hunter


I found this to be a very readable and cleverly penned book of short stories,  written and linked so that they can, to good effect, be read as a continuum.

The stories are based on a fictitious career-minded couple who move from the South of England to a remote small town on the West coast of Scotland. One of them, newly accepted for lay reader training is keen to move to further their career prospects, but the other, who feels called to full time ordained ministry is dismayed at the prospect of such a change in lifestyle.

Each 'stand alone' chapter, centred on the church, congregation and community in which they relocate, shows God's hand at work often in most unexpected ways. The author has obviously had first hand  experience of parish life. To me, a Priest's wife for over 50 years, the authenticity rings true. I would happily give this book to anyone starting out in 'Ministry' as it deals imaginatively and sensitively with a host of issues and scenarios they are likely to encounter.

Despite a minor irritation of the use of rather too many italicised foreign words or phrases, I heartily recommend this attractive book which can be read either as an interesting collection of short stories, or as a coherent story in its own right. Either way it could also be seen as an easily-digestible, but valuable teaching aid.



Review by Margaret Walker  (07/08/15)
Jacket
Publisher: Highland Books
Published: December 0013
ISBN: 978-1-897-91391-8
Paperback
Price: £6.99

Archbishop



by Michele Guinness


Guinness melds her skill as a journalist and a storyteller to good effect, producing something of a thriller... From the dramatic opening paragraph it hooked me... Throughly enjoyable.

Review by Clem Jackson  (27/01/15)
Jacket
Publisher: Hodder
Published: 12 February 2015
ISBN: 978-1-444-75337-0
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Bridge to Haven



by Francine Rivers


To those who matter in 1950s Hollywood, Lena Scott is the hottest rising star to hit the silver screen since Marilyn Monroe. Few know her real name is Abra. Even fewer know the price she's paid to finally feel like she's somebody.

To Pastor Ezekiel Freeman, Abra will always be the little girl who stole his heart the night he found her, a wailing newborn abandoned under a bridge on the outskirts of Haven. Zeke and his son, Joshua - Abra's closest friend- watch her grow into an exotic beauty. But Zeke knows the circumstances surrounding her birth etched scars deep in her heart, scars that leave her vulnerable to a fast-talking bad boy who proclaims his love and lures her to Tinseltown. Hollywood feels like a million miles from Haven, and naive Abra quickly learns what's expected of an ambitious girl with stars in her eyes. But fame comes at an awful price. She has burned every bridge to get exactly what she thought she wanted. Now, all she wants is a way back home.

In this riveting and highly anticipated tale of temptation, grace, and unconditional love, New York Times best-selling author Francine Rivers delivers big-canvas storytelling at its very best.



Review by x  (17/09/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers from TMD
Published: April 2014
ISBN: 978-1-414-39139-7
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Billy Fidgets Family Fortunes

- The Continuing Adventures Of Billy Fidget

by Nick Battle & Eric Delve


The adventures, actually common to many of us, are explored with honesty and humour through the imaginary correspondence between God and Billy Fidget (plus a few others), which we first met memorably in The Billy Fidget Letters. The issues include grief and loss, healing (and its absence), the challenge of reconciliation, the upsets and unpredictability of family life, and the sheer determination of love, God's above all. So suspend disbelief, enjoy an entertaining and imaginative read, and see how your own experiences take on fresh meaning in the light of God's fatherly love for you.

Review by Barry Vendy  (05/07/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Hodder
Published: February 2014
ISBN: 978-1-444-70364-1
Paperback
Price: £8.99

The Shepherd's Song

- A Story of Second Chances

by Betsy Duffey & Laurie Myers


I'm giving you fair warning that you may well need a hanky or two before you reach the end of the book, actually before you reach the end of the first chapter if you are anything like me!

This is an amazing novel, a series of short interconnected stories all based around a handwritten copy of the 23rd Psalm—the Shepherd's Song—that was a gift and a prayer of a mother to her doubting son, and that through tragedy and accident is passed around the world and touches the lives of a series of people.

The book tells of '12 lives changed forever' but actually there are many more than that because those people all connect with others and though they may not always be the focus there are some ways there lives are changed to, albeit more gently or less obviously perhaps.

Then of course there's us the readers that are going to share the book and story and pass it on too—because it really does have that effect, along with the tears and sighs—it's definitely going to be the book I'm recommending and hand-selling in my shop for the next few months!

It's not a long book at all—200 pages of large print—and it reads so smoothly that I finished it in an evening (I had to, I just couldn't put it down!) with each story quite seamlessly blending into the next. And yet each story very much stands up under it's own weight, so in some ways it's like reading a series of individual short stories rather than one novel, but it is one novel and at the end we return to the place we began, just further on in time—a fitting place to come back to with our original characters ... and is that less one or plus one? You decide.

A wonderfully crafted story—but don't forget to have a hanky or two handy just in case.

The only negative point about this book for me is that it's been released in this trade paperback size and at such a high price point. Had it been cheaper it would almost certainly be a best seller and one people would buy an extra copy or copies of to give to others... but at £13.99 I'm not sure that will happen which is a great tragedy to my mind.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (27/03/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Published: November -0001
ISBN: 978-1-444-79296-6
Large paperback
Price: £13.99

Angelguard

- Not All The Spirits Are Good

by Ian Acheson


When I first looked at the front cover for this book I thought 'No way this book is gonna freak me out'. But it didn't. Whilst the eyes on the cover are a bit off putting from the very first chapter I was hooked.

Acheson very cleverly writes this book simultaneously on two levels - the earthly realm and the heavenly realm. It is a story of power struggles and ultimately the love of money, which Acheson demonstrates here, is really the root of all evil.

Written in the modern day it follows the lead character Professor Jack Haines across the world as he uncovers and tries to foil a most heinous plan. The story is fast moving and thought provoking and it certainly left me thinking could this type of thing really be happening in the world today and if so why am I not doing as the Bible tells me to and praying for the authorities more.
I highly recommend this book - a very good read - and I hope that this author writes some more novels. This is an aussie Ted Dekker.



Review by Zoë Stevenson  (17/01/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Lion Hudson
Published: March 2013
ISBN: 978-1-782-64002-8
Paperback
Price: £7.99

Magnificent Malevolence

- Memoirs of a career in hell in the tradition of The Screwtape Letters

by Derek Wilson


If you like the Screwtape Letters you are very likely to enjoy this book. In some ways it is an updating of the Screwtape Letters, that is to say that the original material, tone and intent remain in this book and therefore do make it fun to read. The book picks up in effect at the time when Screwtape left off to a degree - indeed if anything this book is a lovely little "church history" book told from the other side, a guide through the intervening years up to the modern day of the changing movements within the Christian faith in those years - their successes and their failures! It's an intriguing and enjoyable take on the modern church that, just as the original did, is likely to sting a little bit at times. Overall an enjoyable read and a nice gentle homage to C S Lewis.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (06/08/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Lion Hudson
Published: March 2013
ISBN: 978-1-782-64018-9
Paperback
Price: £7.99

The Homeless Bishop

- A Novel

by Joseph F Girzone


If you prefer your fiction gritty and realistic, this is not the book for you; if you'd rather escape to a parallel universe where the poor are always grateful, wrongdoers always repent and the good guy always wins, then you will enjoy the Homeless Bishop. Carlo Brunini, the eponymous hero, is a saintly man, unfailingly wise, generous, shrewd and courageous, whose only human weakness is one of love. He lives with the homeless for a year and a half in order to become a better shepherd then, returning home, he becomes a father figure to his local homeless community, adopts a family, defeats the Mafia, rises in the Catholic Church, and then takes on ambassadorship to Iran. By the time he has that country enthusiastically accepting cross-faith ecumenism and is respected and revered by ayatollahs and politicians alike, even the least demanding of readers may be finding the story rather difficult to swallow. His subsequent rise to cardinal and then pope will come as no surprise, nor will his brisk approach to reforming the Vatican. A pleasant exercise in wishful thinking and an excellent holiday read for the sweet toothed.

Review by Diane Morrison  (30/07/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Orbis Books from Alban Books
Published: May 2013
ISBN: 978-1-626-98008-2
Paperback
Price: £12.99

Babe's Bible

- Sister Acts

by Karen Jones


A sequel to Babe's Bible: Gorgeous Grace, this instalment features many of the same characters but is somewhat darker in tone, dealing with contemporary themes of human trafficking, addiction and modern Anglican politics alongside the parallel Biblical narrative of the struggles and persecutions of the early church. I suspect it would be quite difficult to follow for anyone who had not read the first book and, in truth, I found it a difficult read anyway. Light touches are few and far between ­- this is "real life" at its bleakest. Having said that, in this second work the writing style of the present-day segments is much smoother than before and the author now seems equally comfortable in both timelines. Grace, the main protagonist, is very human to the point where the reader wants to shake her sometimes! ­But, as she deals with serial crises and tries to determine where and how God wants her to serve, once again there is a compulsion to keep reading to know how things turn out. A third in the series, Babe's Bible - Love letter will be out in March 2014.

Review by Diane Morrison  (05/07/13)
Jacket
Publisher: DLT (Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd)
Published: March 2013
ISBN: 978-0-232-52980-7
Paperback
Price: £8.99

The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow



by Olivia Newport


This is the follow-up to Newport's debut novel The Pursuit of Lucy Banning. Although you can read this book as a standalone story, I'm glad that I had read the first novel beforehand. It gave me a better backdrop to the family and the circumstances of Charlotte, the main character and housemaid.

This novel is as charming as the first and I really enjoyed the read. Newport has captured the right feel for the struggles serving house-staff encountered in the 1890's and again she brings faith and trust in God into the story in a real and living way. This is a story of a mother's love so strong for her child that she would do anything to see that child flourish and of course for the romantics in us there is a little love story too.
I hope there will be more novels from Newport and that you will enjoy this story as much as I did.



Review by Zoë Stevenson  (21/05/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Revell imprint of Baker Pub from Lion
Published: February 2013
ISBN: 978-0-800-72039-1
Paperback
Price: £8.99

The Reunion

- A Novel

by Dan Walsh


The Reunion is a beautifully gentle novel with a considered pace and flowing words that really takes you along in this story ultimately about love and redemption, but also including loss, change, doubt, heroism and above all quiet lives of unexpected worth. How much do we know our neighbours, how do we really see ourselves, how easy is it to lose yourself or indeed to find yourself? To me, this gentle novel brought all these questions and thoughts to mind.

It's the story of Aaron, a Vietnam veteran, profoundly affected by war, and now in his 60s a simple handyman at a trailer park. It's also about his daughter who never really knew her father, and a journalist whose father died in the Vietnam war and all the other people who intersect with these lives. The story has its base in war, but more importantly it's a story of what happens after a war and the longer term consequences.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (20/02/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Revell imprint of Baker Pub from Lion
Published: October 2012
ISBN: 978-0-800-72121-3
Paperback
Price: £8.99

October Baby




This film covers the issues of abortion, adoption, twins, sibling rivalry, rejection, parental anguish and control, friendship groups, faithfulness and unfaithfulness. October Baby packs a hard punch but at times is a bit slow moving.

There is a lot of 'growing up' as the girl goes off with college friends for a weekend, but with a secret agenda to find her birth mother, having recently found out that she was adopted. After much heartache it all turns out all right in the end - with God having a part to play in the final outcome.

October Baby stars Rachel Hendrix as Hannah, Jason Burkey as her handsome boyfriend Jason, Jasmine Guy and John Schneider as her passive but loving father.

The DVD has its own website:octoberbabymovie.net/

Review by Guy Marshall  (11/02/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Provident Music Group from Authentic Media
Published: September 2012
ISBN: 9-990-00056-5
DVD
Price: £14.99

Troubled Waters



by Rene Gutteridge


Troubled Waters is set in modern day Kansas, USA. Macey Siegel, the main character is an only child who was brought up on a farm in what appears to be a fairly strict household and her father was a leading person in the church. Macey and her dad had a close relationship, that is until something happens and Macey feels forced to leave which she does and breaks ties with her parents and friends.

Troubled Waters starts when Macey has to face her hometown 17 years later when she returns for her father's funeral. The past that Macey has kept buried has eaten away her peace and she is on the edge all the time.

Gutteridge's main theme of the story is relationship restoration and I loved to see God working in Macey's life and seeing other people working with her to bring her to a place where she forgives herself and others and in return receives the peace that she has so desperately needed.

I really enjoyed this book, for me it offered God moving in a situation, a good storyline and a bit of romance. What I did find frustrating was sensing that there was going to be an horrific past incident and would Macey just get on and tell us about it so she can move on. When Macey does eventually disclose her hidden secret - yes it was tragic but I didn't feel like that travesty was really made realistic enough and the deep rooted effects it had had on her life. For me it wasn't emotionally upsetting enough. Overall though it was a good read and please don't be put off by how insensitive I can be and it might make you weep and therefore get the box of tissues ready.

Review by Zoë Stevenson  (28/01/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Hendrickson from Alban Books
Published: 2012
ISBN: 978-1-598-56928-5
Paperback
Price: £9.99

The Air We Breathe



by Christa Parrish


A strange story that stays in your mind for a long time. It has taken me several weeks since reading this book to get round to writing these notes but a quick look at the cover and I was back into the midst of it.

A little girl witnesses a bank robbery and her father being shot. She is kidnapped by the robbers who fear she could indentify them. She does escape but the damage is done and she is locked in fear, not speaking to anyone.

The story develops from there. Other characters are drawn in, the scene changes as mother and daughter escape from the robber who has found them and they flee to family and then flee again.

It is unsettling and compulsive reading and it is many years later that the story unfolds in the odd surroundings of a tiny tourist town museum that mother and daughter look after. An original character re-appears and together with the boy accross the road who persists with his friendship with the girl, unlocks mother and daughter from their self imposed 'imprisonment'.

Having remembered all this, I shall now read it through again!

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (08/01/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Bethany House imprint of Baker Pub from Lion
Published: 21 December 2012
ISBN: 978-0-764-20555-2
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Cross Roads



by Wm Paul Young


Anthony Spencer, Tony to his friends, or those who toadied up to him, was a hard-bitten and ruthless businessman with many secrets: secrets locked away in his special hideaway. In fact he had become paranoid about them; sure that someone was after them. In reality he had developed a brain tumour and this is what then found him in a coma, near to death, and having an out-of -body experience like no other!
He finds himself in a forest, dressed in familiar hiking gear from his country retreat, (How’s that?) and walking along seemingly endless paths between the trees. Finally he comes to a solid rock face which appears to have a door carved into it. When he hears a knock from the other side, he sees a clasp with which he pulls the door open, and there stands a man who later says his name is Jack.
Jack is friendly enough, but within what turns out to be a solid wall, not just a single rock face, it is wasteland. ‘His’ wasteland. As the story unfolds, a Down Syndrome young lad kisses the Tony in the hospital bed and Tony immediately finds himself, not in the wasteland but in Cabby. Thence we are drawn into a family regularly visiting the hospital to see Cabby’s young sister desperately ill with a form of leukaemia. From now on the story moves from this family back to the ever improving ‘wasteland’ where ‘Jesus’ and the ‘Holy Spirit’ in the form of an old lady, help Tony understand what is going on.
If you enjoyed The Shack by this author you will love this book. If you did not, then why not give it a go? You might be surprised.

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (07/11/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Hodder
Published: November 2012
ISBN: 978-1-444-74597-9
Hardback
Price: £17.99

The Reason



by William Sirls


I can honestly say that I found this book to be an incredible read, which surprised me as often books hyped pre-publication and compared to incredible best sellers (The Shack) sometimes fail to live up to the words - this one did not.
In fact if I'm honest I'd say comparing this book to The Shack did it a dis-service, if I had to compare it to anything out there already published then it would be a blend of Frank Peretti for the mystery and intrigue elements and Joseph F Girzone for the romance and gentle beauty of his Joshua series - because in this book you really do find elements that read like both and it makes it a joy to read.
A small town, a blind pastor, his large,gentle and mute son, a single mother, a child with a serious illness, and above all a mysterious carpenter and a re-occuring theme of three animals appearing at times, a repeating refrain of 'only believe', and a series of impossibilities (aka miracles) makes this an intriguing story of faith, doubt, love, loss, and family - and that doesn't even touch the heart of the book or cover half the characters you will meet in it.
Somewhere in this book you will find an image, a glimmer of your own doubts and fears, losses and loves, or you will witness someone elses fear, pain and grace in a way you hadn't seen it before.
It's got a gentle flowing style to it, with a hint of otherness that holds your attention to the page from the beginning right through to, in my mind, it's very unusual and slightly disturbing end.
One warning - you will probably need a hanky before the end of the book.
There is at the end of the book a reading group guide and an interview with the author - but I don't think you'll need the reading group guide because the book leaves you wanting to talk about it and with lots of throughts, idea's and questions anyway.

Visit the author's website:www.williamsirls.com

Review by Melanie Carroll  (29/10/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Thomas Nelson From TMD or Joining the Dots
Published: 08 August 2012
ISBN: 978-1-401-68736-6
Paperback
Price: £10.99

Babe’s Bible

- Gorgeous Grace

by Karen Jones


The title, with its shallow, chick-lit flavour, is very misleading, as this book is a genuine, engaging and compassionate exploration of the burdens and temptations of church leaders, both male and female, as well as those common to us all. The main story of a woman curate and her youth-leader friend is interleaved with fictional accounts of a woman of Jesus’ time and her interaction in stories from the gospels, mirroring in some ways the struggles and disasters of the modern-day protagonists. While not a light read, after a shaky start it holds the interest. The Biblical narratives do come over more smoothly and the modern ones slightly more awkwardly – either in spite of the author’s real-life position as an ordained church-of England minister or maybe because of it. Still the reader is carried along with both stories, wanting to know the outcome for the characters, who are very well drawn. Maybe all of the endings are tied up a bit too neatly – but this is fiction after all!
A book to get your teeth into, and one which will repay the experience.

Review by Diane Morrison  (24/09/12)
Jacket
Publisher: DLT (Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd)
Published: May 2012
ISBN: 978-0-232-52920-3
Paperback
Price: £10.99

Death Comes For the Archbishop



by Willa Cather with an introduction by A.S.Byatt


Originally published in the USA in 1927 by an American writer, this is a fascinating tale of missionary work. Classified by the current UK publisher as fiction, it would today in popular book parlance be called “faction” while the author described it as a “narrative” because it is an account of what really happened but with dialogue which is obviously fictional. It is set in New Mexico in the 1850's at the time when the territory has been taken over by the United States of America. Although the area had at one time been Spanish, when it became American the Roman Catholic Church decided to send French missionaries to reawaken the faith among the local population. This is the story of the Bishop and his missionary priest and their task. A stunning picture of the landscape and its varied peoples emerge, and “reawaken” is the feeling as villagers welcome their visitors and queue for mass baptisms. The priest goes on to work in areas much further afield and the Bishop's diocese expands, ultimately a success story. The writing is gentle but sharply defined, no waste of narrative or dialogue, and the style of missionary work might well be taken on board by people today, gentle, but firm when necessary, and alongside the people. A very different read but a worthwhile one.

Review by Carole Burrows  (12/05/36)
Jacket
Publisher: Virago from Gardners
Published: 07 September 2006
ISBN: 978-1-844-08372-5
Paperback
Price: £8.99

The Silence of Gethsemane



by Michel Benoît


A challenging novel. Firstly, how do you approach the story of the ministry of Jesus written in the first person when traditionally you have accepted the knowledge that Jesus never wrote anything? Then as you read, this is a story akin to the ‘historical Jesus’ not the Son of God. There is no acknowledgement of ‘I am the Son of God’, just a man identifying his relationship with the God of Israel, and what he has to do to express that knowledge to others in his role as a rabbi. I felt that this particular development of understanding gave pointers to anyone's development of a relationship with God because of its starting point of human rather than incarnate Christ. I also liked the explanations of Jewish society and religious laws which gave a greater understanding of the way Jesus changed the way of thinking from the strict Jewish laws to the new way of Christianity. The writing style is interesting as it somehow forces the reader into a slower pace of reading which assists both understanding, and the possibility of developing one's own thoughts on the matter described. Michel Benoît, originally a scientist, then a member of a Benedictine order until he left because of his ‘ideological non-conformity’, has not written a cosy ‘biography’ of Jesus. Only you, the reader, can decide whether you accept the challenge to look afresh at the man named Jesus.

Review by Carole Burrows  (27/03/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Alma Books from Gardners Books
Published: April 2012
ISBN: 978-1-846-88179-4
Paperback
Price: £12.99

Blame it On the Mistletoe

- A Novel of Bright’s Pond – The fourth Bright’s Pond book

by Joyce Magnin


Receiving this book gave me the opportunity to read through what I have said about the previous books. (No-one else gets the chance to review these, I love them too much!) I see I have used the word ‘quirky’ before so I looked it up in my Thesaurus and the list of words there includes eccentric, unconventional, unorthodox, unusual, strange and many more exactly describing many of the characters Joyce Magnin weaves into her stories, and yet if you look around your own communities the term could fit some people there too, and this is the joy of these tales, they are believable.
Griselda and her large sister Agnes play a major part in Blame it on the Mistletoe as there are odd happenings at Greenbriers the Nursing Home where Agnes now resides in an endeavour to loose weight. Griselda is still having flying lessons from Cliff, and Zeb, Griselda’s on/off boyfriend has decided at last that he is ready for marriage which puts Griselda in a spin.
Add in familiar friends from the Paradise Caravan Park, and the usual Bright’s Pond residents plus a family from the backwoods and you have another book that keeps you reading till the last page when you give a sigh of pure pleasure and long for the next story! Please keep writing Joyce!
You can read any Bright’s Pond book on their own but if you have read the previous titles you will enjoy each of them all the more.

Visit the author's website:www.joycemagnin.com

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (21/03/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Abingdon Press from Alban Books
Published: December 2011
ISBN: 978-1-426-71162-6
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Griselda Takes Flight

- A Novel of Bright’s Pond - The third Bright's Pond book.

by Joyce Magnin


‘Now that her morbidly obese sister Agnes Sparrow, is comfortably dieting at the Greenbrier Nursing Home, Griselda learns to fly....’ so starts the résumé on the back cover.
Griselda is the town’s librarian but has a fairly relaxed attitude to opening hours and is enjoying the freedom now she is not at the beck and call of her sister Agnes, though she visits her frequently. On the day her friend Stella asks to go with her to Greenbrier to speak to Agnes, they see a light plane flying low over the town and landing on a nearby hilltop most unusual! Stella has been told that her estranged brother, Walter, is lying in a coma at Greenbrier. She needs to consult with Agnes, considered by the locals to be something of an oracle, as she feels a bitter resentment for her brother from an incident ten years before and doesn’t want him back in her life – but it appears that she is next of kin. Oh dear!
On their return to Bright’s Pond and the Full Moon Café where ’everyone’ seems to congregate, they hear about a newcomer to the town Gilda, who turns out to be the injured Walter’s lady friend. Throw in Griselda’s friend Zeb, the Café owner, Stells’a husband Nate and his hopefully prize-winning pumpkin Bertha Ann, a handful of other local characters and not forgetting the pilot of the mystery plane and you are all set for another thoroughly entertaining read. It won’t spoil your enjoyment of the story if you are not familiar with previous Bright’s Pond novels, but I did enjoy spotting familiar characters.

Visit the author's website:www.joycemagnin.com

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (06/03/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Abingdon Press from Alban Books
Published: April 2011
ISBN: 978-1-426-71157-2
Paperback
Price: £8.99

A Place Called Blessing

- Where Hurting Ends and Love Begins

by John Trent with Annette Smith


An orphaned boy’s story of loss, love, and eventual acceptance by the most unlikely people, is the core of a piece of fiction. The story chronicles the life of Josh, an emotionally abandoned little boy who loses his mother and father and is separated from two brothers. He is shuffled through the foster care system, unpacking his scant belongings at many houses, but never staying long due to his deep-seated fears and issues. At six years old, when it finally seems as though Josh might be forever reunited with his brothers, an unfortunate accident changes the course of his life.
Through adolescence Josh often acts out in anger and trusts no one, but through the first person narrative the reader gets to see a glimpse of the broken little boy who so desperately wants to be loved. As Josh turns eighteen he rents a room from a mother and son who turn out to be the family he is so desperately searching for. The journey they take together is painful and difficult, but Josh eventually finds the peace he seeks.
I very much appreciated the message of this book, especially the inside look at orphaned children and the foster care system. There is ache and honesty in this journey of themes surrounding foster care or adoption. It gives the reader a thoughtful portrayal, from a child’s perspective.

Review by Johnny Douglas  (16/02/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Thomas Nelson From TMD or Joining the Dots
Published: 03 May 2011
ISBN: 978-0-849-94618-9
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Christmas Stories

- Heartwarming Classics of Angels, A Manger and the Birth of Hope

by Max Lucado


Lucado pens in such a distinctive fashion. Here comes a compilation of Christmas stories by the prolific Max Lucado celebrating the joy and wonder of the Christmas season. Some of these titles have been previously published, but are well worth a re-read. They are sweet, indeed at times very sweet!
Max Lucado does write powerfully and with inspiration. It's no literary classic and yet it is engaging and emotionally a tear-jerker! Jacob's Gift was my personal favourite of the novellas amidst this brief tour. Pithy and of value, but alas it might have been so much more.

Review by Johnny Douglas  (19/11/11)
Jacket
Publisher: Thomas Nelson From TMD or Joining the Dots
Published: August 2011
ISBN: 978-1-401-68543-0
Hardback
Price: £11.99

Up Close & Personal

- What Helen Did Next

by Jeff Lucas


Jeff Lucas has done it again! – With a little help from Tamsin Kendrick and no doubt other females around him.
As you read, you are completely absorbed by the story; you can really believe that you are reading another volume of Helen Sloane’s Diary.
Helen’s Dad has been killed, knifed in a street robbery he was trying to prevent. Her beloved leaders at NWCF, New Wave Christian Fellowship, are moving to a new area, and her love life is non existent. She has some good friends, male and female, but life at the moment is pretty rocky. She has issues with her senior social worker and with more than one client; in fact she is a pretty average young woman with particular difficulties at the moment.
Helen writes so honestly – yes Helen, you forget this is fiction – she writes of her feelings, the happenings day to day, the saga of finding a new leader for the church (and that is not straight forward believe me!) her ongoing grief at her father’s death and so much more. I read till the small hours and settled to sleep with a smile on my face.

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (08/10/11)
Jacket
Publisher: Authentic Media
Published: Summer 2011
ISBN: 978-1-850-78888-1
Paperback
Price: £7.99

PlanetQuake

- The Year the Rainbow Broke

by Umoya Lister


Christian Fiction- General ? Or should I put this book into Climate Change? The book describes itself as ‘Geofiction’ and it really is quite a book!
A rich mixture of disaster in the not too far future, scientific research exposing climate change, weather patterns completely disrupted, panic among governments and people, food riots, fear of food hoarding, starvation in parts of Africa, criminal intrigue, and a young family caught up in it all. A young family with strong Christian beliefs, tried almost beyond their endurance by the evil surrounding a charismatic personality who is intent on ruling a united Africa free from Arabs and Whites, regardless of the suffering inflicted by his schemes.
The author’s name is disguised by a pseudonym, but they must surely be a very knowledgeable individual as the book is full of scientific talk, theological discussion and quotations from the Bible and much more of interest. Don’t be put off by this! It all enhances the story which is truly exciting in a scary way, as it could all so easily happen.
I did not start reading with any enthusiasm, but almost immediately was hooked, and wished I had the opportunity to read on and on. Nevertheless it didn’t take many days to finish it despite being quite a tome of 511 pages. Highly recommended.

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (12/09/11)
Jacket
Publisher: Highland Books
Published: 2010
ISBN: 978-1-897-91384-0
Paperback
Price: £7.99

The Story Jar



by Robin Lee Hatcher & Deborah Bedford


A jar can be used for jam, or for collecting coins for charity, or, as in this inspirational book, as a container and preserver of precious memories.
This skilfully crafted novel blends the stories of three women and the mementoes which symbolised turning points in their lives. It would appeal particularly to mothers, and would also have resonance with anyone coping with cancer or finding difficulties with adolescent children.
Penned with vitality and credibility I found this book extremely readable, unusual and memorable. I could not help but be moved, occasionally to tears, by the warmth of God’s love embracing and suffusing the lives of the three very different women portrayed.
Two talented women writers have succeeded in producing a faith-enhancing book which you will want others to read.

Review by Margaret Walker  (30/08/11)
Jacket
Publisher: Hendrickson from Alban Books
Published: April 2011
ISBN: 978-1-598-56665-9
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Snitch



by Booker T Mattison


Written, surely, to appeal to young, black urban-dwellers, this fast-paced novel is set in the culture of gang warfare and the illicit drugs trade, in Jersey City, near New York. The characters are mainly men who are either deeply set in the gang life-style, have renounced it, or (like the protagonist) have fallen into the situation of being a reluctant, failed father and feckless would-be husband; added to this are the aggrieved grandparents, and a psychotherapist, who seemingly come from an African-American elite, who have raised themselves by hard work or education. Thus, the book presents a series of differing possibilities as to the alternatives and choices set before originally-underprivileged American black people, and the reality of Christian faith as the authentic route to those choices. At times I failed to understand the language entirely (“hood” is simply short for neighbourhood, I finally realised, not something to do with gangsters), but that, presumably, shows the book’s authenticity. Perhaps this is a suitable book for the church youth library - young people would surely get the language better than us oldies.

Review by John Thomas  (24/08/11)
Jacket
Publisher: Revell imprint of Baker Pub from Lion
Published: July 2011
ISBN: 978-0-800-73396-4
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Nana’s Gift

- and The Red Geranium

by Jeanette Oke


Two short stories first published in 1996 and 1995 respectively, by Bethany House Publishers.
Nana’s Gift is a heart warming tale of a lifetime of loving between a couple, and the husbands gift of a real pearl necklace, the result of scrimping and saving against all odds, to show his love and appreciation of his wife.
When she is widowed the pearls remain as a treasured memory of that love which Lizzie shares with her daughters and one particular granddaughter in a special way.
The Red Geranium is quite a short story, but equally poignant, about a small boy and his grandmother now living in a Home instead of the house he knew so well.
This little book would make an ideal present for anyone who loves short stories.

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (30/06/11)
Jacket
Publisher: Hendrickson from Alban Books
Published: 27 April 2011
ISBN: 978-1-598-56662-8
Hardback
Price: £9.99

Solomon’s Song



by Sarah De Carvalho


The rather drab cover does not immediately attract attention, but the contents are gold dust. The author is known for her work among the street children of Brazil: she knows what she is talking about.
Solomon is a young boy with a wonderful gift for music. He can play the piano with skill far beyond his age, and sings like an angel. He also has a lovely personality. From a very humble, farming family in a beautiful valley nestling below his beloved mountains there would appear that nothing could go wrong, but by a quirk of history, the land does not belong to his family and when a crook posing as a helpful lawyer cons his father, they loose everything. His drunken Uncle, with whom his grandfather lives, remains on his share of the land, while Solomon’s family have to move to the city, into the comfortless slum home of his Mother’s brother.
As this story plays out we are introduced to Keira from a wealthy ranching family. She has her problems too, quite different of course, but the way these two main characters lives finally join up makes for an absorbing read, highly recommended.

Related website:www.happychild.org

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (01/06/11)
Jacket
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Published: May 2011
ISBN: 978-1-444-70188-3
Paperback
Price: £8.99

The Triumph of Grace

- Grace in Africa Book 3

by Kay Marshall Strom


I was looking forward to this final book of the trilogy but it has not been comfortable reading from the start and this is no different. Compulsive yes, you have to keep turning the pages, but this is the raw telling of what slavery meant to all who were involved in the trading of African slaves to America, as if they were animals with no human feelings, just commodities to be treated however their white masters willed. Sadly it also brings into the light how Africans treated their fellow Africans.
Grace is working in the Foundling Hospital in London, when she is arrested on false charges on the direction of her friend Charlotte’s evil husband Lord Reginald. It is an exciting development that sees her on a ship bound for America, but the avarice of an evil white man enslaves her yet again.
The title of this book is what kept my hope of a happy ending alive, but so much happens to Grace and to her husband Cabeto before then. Their separate stories are told, as are the stories of those in England and Africa that we have come to know through the previous books.
Despite my reluctance to be confronted by the issues raised, I am so glad I read this trilogy and highly recommend it.

Website:www.stopthetraffik.org

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (27/04/11)
Jacket
Publisher: Abingdon Press from Alban Books
Published: March 2011
ISBN: 978-1-426-70213-6
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Charlotte Figg Takes Over Paradise

- A Novel of Bright’s Pond - The second Bright's Pond book

by Joyce Magnin


Quirky characters and a delightful plot with unexpected twists and turns – Joyce Magnin has done it again!
Paradise Trailer Park has a mixed collection of residents who although they live in close proximity to each other lead very separate lives, that is till Charlotte Figg and her dog Lucky come on the scene.
Charlotte’s arrival in Paradise does not bode well for the future! Recently widowed, she has sold up her home to make a fresh start, expecting to find that she has bought a delightfully attractive mobile home although ‘sight unseen’. The reality turns out to be a squalid dump of a place; she has been conned by the seeming owner of the park, an obnoxious individual named Fergus Wrinkel.
She attracts the attention of Rose, another resident, and things start to change. Charlotte, who played in a Softball team as a young woman, is persuaded to start a Softball team with the women of the park. That’s when the fun starts.
A truly original story and a joy to read.

Visit the author's website:www.joycemagnin.com

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (16/04/11)
Jacket
Publisher: Abingdon Press from Alban Books
Published: December 2010
ISBN: 978-1-426-70766-7
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Stretch Marks



by Kimberly Stuart


The strap line for the book is… “When a daughter becomes a mother, can she learn to accept her own?” I was hoping this was going to be a fun Bridget Jones style book as the cover kind of gave it that impression, but actually what it is was a disappointment for me. I think the cover was trying to illustrate mum and daughter but I felt that it failed. Shame that, because with the right cover it could have altered the feel of the book.
That aside I didn’t find it a chore to read. It was quite short and the story flowed, I just felt something was missing and I wanted more. There was some humour in it but not enough for me. I know that this was set in the multi-cultural city of Chicago and the story was highlighting the difference between the daughter’s new life and her upbringing but I felt it was over emphasising these differences too much for me.
Don’t let me put you off, because if you want some by the pool reading then I would suggest this book and then leave the book behind because unfortunately I didn’t find this a keeper.

Review by Zoë Stevenson  (16/03/11)
Jacket
Publisher: Xlibris distributed by Gardners
Published: 29 May 2009
ISBN: 978-0-781-44892-5
Paperback
Price: £11.99

The Reluctant Prophet



by Nancy Rue


I really enjoyed this one. I didn’t know whether I was going to get into it from the beginning as the introduction to a Harley Davidson motorbike put me off a little, but I was interested to see just what the story was about. And I’m glad that I persisted with the first few chapters because by about a quarter of the way through I was hooked.
Allison the main character who has the Harley, is like Joe Bloggs, a run of the mill Christian but I identified with her. Her desire is to not settle for less in life and this includes her walk with God and it is through her dissatisfaction with the complacency of church that she steps out in faith when she hears God’s voice and then amazing things happen. I found myself quite envious of Allison as she had the guts to do what I would like to do but I haven’t yet learnt to let go and let God in. What Allison does is real church. Hopefully you too will be challenged and encouraged when you read this novel.

Review by Zoë Stevenson  (16/03/11)
Jacket
Publisher: Xlibris distributed by Gardners
Published: 15 November 2010
ISBN: 978-1-434-76496-6
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Long Time Coming



by Vanessa Miller


A wonderful story that when I started reading didn’t expect to like!
Two women from very different places in their lives, come together around the person of a bright lad, Jamal. Deirdre is the childless Head Mistress of a school in a US city, but it could as easily be set in the UK. She has never told her loving husband, an army sergeant, that she knows she is unlikely to have the children they both long for. Kenisha is the mother of three children by different fathers, struggling to bring them up in a spotless home, giving them love, teaching them and encouraging them to be upright citizens, against heavy odds – her family are dysfunctional to say the least.
Kenisha has not been feeling well and when she goes to a doctor is diagnosed as having terminal cancer.
This sets the scene for what follows. A complicated weaving together of two families lives, beautifully and movingly described without avoiding any of the serious issues.

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (09/03/11)
Jacket
Publisher: Abingdon Press from Alban Books
Published: December 2010
ISBN: 978-1-426-70768-1
Paperback
Price: £9.99