Friday, September 30, 2011

Echoes of Savanna - a Media Guests review

Echoes of Savanna, written by Lucinda Moebius, is the story of a young doctor in the year of 2036 and thereafter. She is a child prodigy, and at the age of 19, has proven herself to be a competent doctor. When a terrorist attack threatens the calm and safety of the United States, Savanna Taylor finds herself absorbed in the effort of preparing vaccines to thwart the efforts of biological warfare, namely against smallpox, tuberculosis, bubonic plague, and others.

This book is a sci-fi/dystopia novel with a medical fiction twist.

The first half of this story confused me from time to time. I take notes when I do my reviews, and I'm glad I did because this one was a very involved story.

Savanna Taylor, main character, deals with some of the following topics: biological warfare, the genetic alteration of humans (including the insertion of animal genetics), martial law, fetal adoption, rape, female circumcision, the microchipping of the population, and dealing with sects and militant groups. Because there were so many big topics, I felt overwhelmed at times while I read. It's not uncommon for writers to hit on some controversial topics once in a while, but Lucinda touched on several.

The story begins with Susanna's struggle to calm a pandemic. Then she's swept into a situation where she's dealing with a 14-year-old Navajo girl requesting that Susanna adopt her unwanted embryo. Then the pandemic situation seems to go away, leaving me thinking that the author's going to hit the topic again in a chapter or two. However, it seems to be a background situation that just pops up at random. In fact, it seemed like the author got tired of talking about one topic and would hit another here and there. There was a feeling of underdevelopment that I had.

The secondary characters at first seemed to be faceless to me. As I was reading the first quarter of the story, I couldn't help but wonder if there was a book that preceded this one, because the way Lucinda wrote, it felt like I should already know who some of the characters were.

Also during this first quarter, four or five years pass with too little "activity". In a few lines, six months of pregnancy pass, and then years pass in a few pages. It wasn't until I hit about the 60% point in the book that the story seemed to pick up my interest.

Throughout this story, I kept asking myself: "what is the purpose of this story?" and "what does the main character learn?" I was finally able to answer that question during the last chapter of the book. You'll have to read it to find those answers yourself! ;)

I think Lucinda did a good bit of research in writing this story, and I appreciate that greatly. However, there were times when I had to go and search some things to find out what she was talking about. I'm not familiar with a lot of medical terminology. For example, there was mentioned ACL, and I was waiting to see if there was an explanation of ACL and didn't see it. Maybe I missed it, but I didn't see it and ended up looking it up.

As a reader, I'm mildly interested in telling. That's a good thing, but there's a point where too much telling is a bad thing. There was a lot of narration in this story and a lot of year-jumping. For example, one character named Raven was 9 in chapter 31, and then all of a sudden in chapter 33 I read that she's 14. Whoa! This book includes a span of probably about 20 years or so, and that just seems to be too much for one book. I felt like I was reading a lot of "backstory" to get to the good stuff. Once I got past the halfway point, the story finally started, and as a busy mom, I felt a little robbed by all the narration I had to go through to get to the good stuff. I think this book could've easily been made into two or three books, and as a result Lucinda could've really fleshed out some of the topics, the characters, (and backstory) and kept my attention a lot easier.

Ultimately, what I as a reader want is some showing. Don't tell me about the people trying to get into Haven; SHOW me who they are. I want to be able to see their expressions, know their frustrations. Give me some more description, and some dialog.

The last quarter of the story was very moving. I was satisfied with how it ended, and I was pleasantly surprised to find I was wanting to know what happens to the rest of the characters. Hopefully Lucinda will keep writing this story but take it a little slower with the next books. :)

The copy that I received was an e-book version. I was given the opportunity to read and review this book for free for Media Guests. My comments and opinions are my own; I was not required to give a positive review.

To read more reviews of Echoes of Savanna, click the button below.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Shadows on the Sand - a Multnomah Review

Shadows on the Sand by Gayle Roper was such a great book! At 309 pages, this book flowed smoothly and was one that I had trouble putting down!

The characters in this story felt very real. I was able to feel the characters' frustrations, fears, and joys.

This novel is a romantic suspense. The main character Carrie Carter had had a rough childhood. She and her younger sister Lindsay had run away from a bad home when they were just sixteen and ten. Carrie, as an adult, ran her own successful cafe in Seaside, New Jersey, with her sister as co-owner.

Every morning, she served Greg Barnes breakfast. Greg was an ex-cop, a widower who'd lost his wife and children in an explosion that had been meant for him. Carrie found herself drawn to Greg and attracted to him, but he seemed to never notice her beyond the perfunctory nod, order, and payment.

Carrie and Greg were soon joined in an effort to find out who killed Carrie's dishwasher Jase. Greg found himself drawn to Carrie's life. But when Carrie had an accident in Greg's presence, his panic made him question whether Carrie deserved him. He made the difficult decision to pull away from her, feeling as if she deserved a stronger man. When Carrie's employee Andi disappeared and Carrie found herself in danger, Greg couldn't deny his feelings; he put himself in harm's way to save the lives of Carrie, Andi, and Lindsay.

If you love suspense and a little romance thrown in for good measure, you'll enjoy this book!

I received Shadows on the Sand as a complimentary gift in exchange for review from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers. My comments and opinions are my own.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Bombus the Bumblebee - a Creation Conversations Review

Bombus the Bumblebee, by Elsie Larson (illustrated by David Haidle & Elizabeth Haidle), is a story about Bombus, a bumblebee. At 40 pages, this Christian fiction book published by Master Books, is appropriate for preschool children through early elementary.

Since this was a children's book, I'm including my review and the review of my first grader son, who also has read this book.

Jami's Review
The story takes place shortly after Creation. Bombus makes the mistake of listening to the honeybees who insisted that bumblebees were not meant to fly. They jeered and made fun of Bombus' big body and showed off their abilities to fly easily. Bombus quickly became self-conscious of his abilities to fly and even decided to stop flying altogether until God had a talk with him. "I told you to fly," God said. "No matter what your shape or weight, you can fly because I gave you flight. Now, lift up your wings . . . and FLY."

At the end of the story are pages dedicated to information about bumblebees, some discussion questions for children and adults, and some activities to go along with the story.

This was a cute story, the illustrations were very colorful, and my son Jacob, a second grader, read and reviewed this book as well.

Jacob's Review
This book is about Bombus the Bumblebee. The other bees are trying to trick Bombus; they are mean. I like the book. It's very cool. I think you should get the book. I love, love, love the book.

I received Bombus the Bumblebee as a complimentary gift in exchange for review from Creation Conversations. I was not required to give a positive review; my opinions are my own.

Treasuring Emma - a BookSneeze review

Treasuring Emma, by Kathleen Fuller, was a nice Amish story. There were bits of romance and suspense laced throughout.

Main character, Emma, was an Amish woman who was unmarried at age 25. The young man that Emma had loved as a young girl had left the faith and gone to another state. When Adam left, Emma's heart went with him.

Having recently lost both of her parents, Emma and her grandmother Leona were forced to take care of the farm on their own. When Emma's sister Clara begins to make problems for Emma, heartache begins to ensue.

Shortly thereafter, Adam returns because of an illness that his mother seems to have, and Peter, Clara's husband, has a cousin show up at his and Clara's door. While Adam returns for a good reason, Mark King--Peter's cousin--arrives to wreak havoc.

I enjoyed this story, but there were a few things that left me a little perplexed. Mark's part in the story felt a little forced, as if the author felt like some action needed to be added to the story. His part seemed a bit jumbled to me, and I'd have been just as satisfied with his not being a part of the story at all.

Also, Clara and Emma had some issues that I felt needed to be fleshed out a bit more. There were problems between the two of them, and then the issues were resolved after Mark's situation was wrapped up. The mending of Clara's and Emma's relationship felt a little disjointed to me.

Otherwise, this is a great story to read, and if you like Amish stories, I'm sure this one will be a pleaser.

If you'd like to read other reviews I've done for Kathleen Fuller's books, check here and here.

I am a member of BookSneeze, a fabulous program through Thomas Nelson. BookSneeze sends members free books to read and keep in exchange for written reviews on a blog and on a major retailer's website (such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble).

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Coming Home

I was just sitting yesterday in my recliner wondering what I was going to blog about today for the blog chain. I sat down to begin writing, and something else came out instead. And unfortunately today my mind is just not focused, so I'm going to have to rely on the Lord to lead me through.

Some say you can always go home, but that's not always true.

A man named John Ed Pearce is quoted to have said, "Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to."

Poet Margaret Elizabeth Sangster said, "There's nothing half so pleasant as coming home again."

I think about the prodigal son who left his home where he was loved, accepted, and provided for. He wasn't happy with life at home. Perhaps he had to help his father, perhaps the meals weren't fancy enough, and maybe his parents were "stuffy". No matter what his reasons, the son left. He asked for his inheritance and took off (Luke 15:11-32).

You know what happened to him: he squandered all of his money. "Prodigal" means wasteful, so we know that he used his money in a way that was not wise. When all was said and done, he had nothing left. He knew that even his father's servants ate better than he. Recognizing his pitiful condition, he decided to set off for home.

I can only imagine his embarrassment though, can't you? Admitting defeat isn't something that most men are able to do easily. I'm not a man, but I can't imagine going home in the shape that that son did. No doubt he was ashamed and scared. I can imagine he might have wondered if his father would slam the door in his face. Or would he have to earn back his position in the family? I'd say that the trip home was not an easy one.

When he came in view of home, no doubt his pulse probably raced. Then something wonderful happened: his father spotted him in the distance. Did the father sigh and shake his head in disdain or murmur about his foolish son? No. The father RAN to his son, EMBRACED him, and KISSED him.

When the son told him that he was unworthy to be called his son, the father simply made his son welcome right back again, unconditionally. The son was given the best clothes, had a ring put on his finger and a celebration was on.

That's exactly what happens when God welcomes us into His Home after we've strayed away. None of us is perfect, and let's face it: in this world, temptation is all around. Television, newspapers, and the internet is full of stories of sin--sins committed by unbelievers and believers. Yep, believers are sinners, too. Just like sheep, if we're not listening to our Shepherd's voice, we can go astray.

The good news is, when we go off the path that God wants us to take, we can ALWAYS go Home again!! Just like the prodigal son's father, our Father God waits for us, ready to run to us, embrace us, and host a celebration.

Don't let fear or embarrassment keep you from going Home. God will accept you just as you are--filthy rags, penniless, or shameful. He doesn't care where you've been; He just wants you.

Fairer Than Morning - a Litfuse Review

Fairer Than Morning, by Rosslyn Elliott, was exactly the type of book that I LOVE to read! A romance set in 19th Century Pittsburgh and a farm in Ohio, this book was incredibly gripping. If you read this book, you'll find a story that tugs your heartstrings, keeps your nails short (because you'll chew them off in anticipation!!), and leaves you loving the main characters.

I love when I finish reading a book with a love of the characters, and this is exactly what has happened for me. Ann Miller, the heroine, lost her mother when she was just a young girl. As a teen, she finds herself smitten with Eli Bowen, a young romantic much like herself. However, when Eli proposes and Ann tells him that her father would never allow her to marry at 15, Eli soon has his head turned by another young lady.

A few years later when Ann, her minister/saddler father, and her sisters go on a trip to Pittsburgh where her father has been commissioned to make a saddle for a well-to-do lady, Ann finds herself in the middle of danger. To add to that, Will Hanby, a saddle-maker's apprentice, lives nearby where Ann and her family are staying in Pittsburgh. Will's and Ann's hearts are tied in a very tender way, and when Ann realizes that Will's master is a cruel man, she longs to find a way to help him.

When Ann's father finishes his task and Ann and her family go back to Ohio, Will makes the decision to leave his master, forsaking his contract for indenture, and follows the Millers.

Excellent story. Excellent drama. Excellent characters. The only thing more I could ask would be for the story to continue!!

This is definitely

About the book:
Ann dreams of a marriage proposal from her poetic suitor, Eli-until Will Hanby shows her that nobility is more than fine words.
On a small farm in 19th-century Ohio , young Ann Miller is pursued by the gallant Eli Bowen, son of a prominent family. Eli is the suitor of Ann's dreams. Like her, he enjoys poetry and beautiful things and soon, he will move to the city to become a doctor.

Ann travels to Pittsburgh , accompanying her father on business. There she meets Will Hanby, a saddle-maker's
apprentice. Will has spent years eking out an existence under a cruel master and his spirit is nearly broken. But Ann's compassion lights a long-dark part of his soul. Through his encounters with Ann's father, a master saddler, Will discovers new hope and courage in the midst of tremendous adversity.

When the Millers must return to Ohio and their ministry there, Will resolves to find them, at any cost. If Will can make it
back to Ann, will she be waiting? Read an excerpt here:
About Rosslyn:
Rosslyn Elliott grew up in a military family and relocated so often that she attended nine schools before her high school graduation. With the help of excellent teachers, she qualified to attend Yale University , where she earned a BA in English and Theater. She worked in business and as a schoolteacher before returning to study at Emory University , where she earned a Ph.D. in English in 2006. Her study of American literature and history inspired her to pursue her lifelong dream of writing fiction. She lives in the Southwest, where she homeschools her daughter and teaches in children's ministry.
For more about Rosslyn, visit her website:

To celebrate the release of her debut novel, Fairer Than Morning, Rosslyn Elliott is giving away two fabulous prize packages. The first is brand new KINDLE in her Fairer Than Morning Kindle Giveaway. Then on September 20th she's giving away a $200 gift certificate toward a Custom-Made Historical Reproduction Dress (from Recollections) during the Fairer Than Morning Book Club Chat Party on Facebook! Sigh...romantic.

Fairer Than Morning is receiving wonderful reviews - Library Journal said, "A well-written historical series debut…". Read more reviews here.

Be sure to join the fun and enter the Kindle contest -

One winner will receive:
* Kindle with Wi-Fi

* Fairer Than Morning (for Kindle)

To enter just click one of the icons below. But, hurry, giveaway ends on 9/19. Winner will be announced on 9/20 at Rosslyn's Book Club Facebook Party. Details and official rules can be found when entering the contest.

Then be sure to RSVP for Rosslyn's Facebook Party! During the party Rosslyn will be chatting with guests, hosting a book chat about Fairer Than Morning (don't worry if you haven't read the book yet - you could win a copy!) & historical Fiction, testing your trivia skills. She'll also be giving away that $200 gift certificate toward a FABULOUS custom-made period dress from Recollections!

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

I received Fairer Than Morning as a complimentary gift in exchange for review from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to give a favorable review; my opinions are my own.