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tyoramoody

tyoramoody

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Mirrors
Ted Dekker
Truth Stained Lies
Terri Blackstock
Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World
Gary Vaynerchuk
Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World
Michael Hyatt
Eyes of Elisha
Brandilyn Collins

Snatched

Snatched - Karin Slaughter I enjoyed this suspense novella. Fast-paced and lots of great behind the scenes info about the Atlanta airport. I need to check out more of this author's novels with Agent Will Trent. This was just a taste.

Divas of Damascus Road

Divas of Damascus Road - Michelle Stimpson When Dianne learns about her beloved Aunt Gloria’s upcoming nuptials, she must make a difficult decision. Dianne has lived away from Dentonville for over twenty years avoiding the woman who has brought her the most pain in her life, her mother. Besides staying away from Dentonville, Dianne has covered up her pain by seeking love in too many of the wrong arms.

While Dianne avoids her past, her two cousins, Yolanda and Regina have their own issues. Regina has the “perfect life” which includes a wonderful husband, a brand new baby and a thriving career. Unfortunately, Regina secretly continues to struggle with an eating disorder. With the “baby fat” not going anywhere, Regina kicks into overdrive with her weight obsession.

Yolanda, the overachiever, works in a career designed specifically for her passion for perfection. The pharmacist has one area of her life that she can’t get a handle on – her insecurities about men. When Kelan, a fellow bible study group member starts showing more than a friendly interest, Yolanda must face her fears or lose her chance at real love.

Dianne’s mother, Joyce Ann, is at the center of all the family issues or so it seems. Known as the black sheep, Joyce Ann has been really good at causing trouble and chaos for her sister Gloria all their lives. Now that Gloria is finally remarrying, Joyce Ann can’t tolerate the idea of letting go of her dependence on her older sister. With a new husband, Gloria will find her secrets she once kept so well hidden, no longer want to remain in the dark.

This was a really deep novel. Each woman had issues or secrets embedded so deep down, none of them realized on the surface how these issues affected their daily lives as well as each other. Readers are bound to be able to relate to one of these characters as the author touches on several detrimental issues like mental illness, eating disorders, drug abuse and grief. The mentality where a woman has to be strong, independent and not need a man can wind up leaving some mind-numbing effects especially when the woman forgets the importance of God’s role in her life.

Despite the deep issues, the author provides humor and blunt, but much needed wisdom through the character Aunt Zoe. This family matriarch didn’t play and her prayers were influential across the entire family as walls were broken and lives were healed.

Divas of Damascus Road is worthy reading material to pass on to friends, especially those in need of encouragement due to lost or broken relationships. Readers will walk away with the reminder that a life transformation is indeed possible despite the dimmest of circumstances.

Over Her Head

Over Her Head - Shelley Bates Over Her Head
Shelley Bates

During her morning run, Laurie Hale discovers the body of young girl. She becomes more shaken later when she finds out the dead girl’s mother is the newest member of her bible study group.

People around town are growing uneasy as the events of the girl’s last night alive come to light. Several teens were in attendance when the girl either fell or was pushed off the bridge. No one is talking or those that are talking seem to want to point the finger at Laurie’s daughter, Anna. According to Anna, she was no where near the bridge that night. Laurie chooses to believe her daughter despite their strained relationship.

When Anna becomes more of a suspect, Laurie begins to question her own daughter. Laurie soon finds her relationship as the bible study group leader becoming more and more awkward when she must face the fact someone is lying. What if Anna did have something to do with the girl’s death? Laurie must deal with these disturbing questions as her perfectly orchestrated life, family, marriage and church service begins to crumble.

This was a well written, well executed suspense. At times I disliked the protagonist. If the author wanted to paint Laurie Hale as a control freak, she certainly nailed the character development. Laurie had a tendency to be self-absorbed and controlling at the most awkward times. This weakness was upsetting, but at the same time represented human behavior as a whole. Humans tend to want things there way and nothing bad to ever touch them.

There are quite a few themes that run through this novel like the relationship struggles between parents and teenagers, single parenting, marriage struggles, grief, judgmental attitudes and forgiveness. Over Her Head offers something for readers of women’s fiction or suspense in one emotional fulfilling package.

The Dead Whisper on

The Dead Whisper on - T.L. Hines Canada MacHugh’s life is interrupted on a garbage collection day. Moving along her route, minding her own business, Canada hears her father’s voice out of the shadows . The only problem. Her dad has been dead for eleven years. Not sure whether she’s losing her mind or really hearing her father’s voice, Canada reflects on her life after her father’s death. Is she really where she wants to be? What if the voice is her father? When she starts believing the voice really is her father, Canada trades her dull life for new adventures.

Canada soon finds herself on new missions that often lead her down scary and confusing paths. The people she encounter are intense and a little on the loony side as well. After one mission in particular, Canada starts to question her sanity. Is the voice really her father? If not, who’s guiding Canada. Soon Canada will find herself enlisting others to fight an evil force that has invaded life and her Montana home.

T.L .Hines debut novel, Waking Lazarus, was one of my favorite books from 2006. Both of his novels center around death, but Hines approached each plot with a totally different angle. I really liked the heroine Canada MacHugh. You don’t find many protagonist like her in Christian fiction. It was refreshing to see a woman in a leadership role. Canada could be vulnerable, longing to hear her father’s voice and on the other hand she was willing to fight in a "man’s world" to save others.

The spiritual elements of this novel centers on the presence of evil and how it invades our lives. The story is tight and fast paced. I am still not sure whether I like this book better than the first book. They both are really good reads. Hines is definitely an author to continue to watch for future thrillers that take Christian fiction to another level.

Finder's Fee

Finder's Fee - Alton Gansky A Martha Stewart type, Judith Find is a successful business woman at the top of the interior decorating market. Life as she knows it changes drastically when a special package is delivered to her office. Inside the package is a cell phone with a cryptic message for her. Someone knows something about Judith that could destroy her reputation and everything she has built over the years. She has no choice but to follow the instructions, not knowing who sent the package.

Soon Judith is on a strange mission along side a stranger, Luke Becker. Like Judith, Luke is being blackmailed based on a deep dark secret from his past. Together, they must learn to trust each other as their normal lives spiral out of control all in order to save a very special boy. As they struggle to uncover truths behind the boy’s existence, Judith and Luke must find out how far they would go to protect something far more extraordinary than either could have imagined.

As a fan of the Madison Glenn series, I looked forward to Alton Gansky’s Finder’s Fee. One phone call in the first chapter sets the reader on tightly woven path involving two very different lives intersecting for a common purpose. People will do just about anything to keep the skeletons in their closet hidden.

I really enjoyed how far the author stretched his imagination, spinning a believable plot which involves genetics and technology. The novel is suspense, but has a "science fiction" feel to it. The strongest theme throughout the novel centers around how far can science go before it’s too far. Within that theme, faith is interwoven as these two characters are pushed to the brink emotionally and physically. Very cool reading experience.

Crime and Clutter

Crime and Clutter - Cyndy Salzmann Chick Lit meets mystery. That's how I would describe Crime & Clutter by Cyndy Salzman.

The Friday Afternoon Club better know as FAC meet each week for encouragement, to fellowship, and share some spectacular recipes. This is the second novel in the Friday Afternoon Club series. The women are fun, comical and more than willing to support each other as well as solve problems. Liz, the protagonist and newspaper columnist, is a down to earth mother and wife who often ends up at the center of mayhem. This time around, Mary Alice, the one deemed to have-it-all-together has a secret. It doesn't take long for the good intentioned FAC members to pull the secret out of a very reluctant Mary Alice.

Mary Alice has never known her dad and out of the blue, she inherits her dad's old VW mini-bus. She is encouraged by the FAC to explore the old heap, but this becomes a bit more than Mary Alice can handle. The more Mary Alice finds out about her hippie dad's ventures, the more she resists forgiving him for abandonment. As the one they all depend on to be perfect goes through an emotional meltdown, Liz and the other FAC members are determined to support their friend and along the way learn a few things about forgiveness themselves.

If you're looking for a light read and have a fascination with the seventies, in particular the hippie era, this cozy mystery is for you. I found myself laughing out loud quite a few times. There are some serious topics mixed in with the humor making for a nice reading blend. The author schooled me with the historical detail of 1970's, where ordinary people fought to bring peace and end the Vietnam War in their own unconventional way.

Cyndy Salzman includes recipes which often show up in the chapter, with one of the FAC members making it or passing it around for others to enjoy. Most of the recipes seemed pretty unique to me. If I was more adventuresome in the kitchen, I might try them out.

The Ex Files: A Novel About Four Women and Faith

The Ex Files: A Novel About Four Women and Faith - Victoria Christopher Murray The Ex-Files
by Victoria Christopher Murray

About two to three years ago, Victoria Christopher Murray released a book titled Grown Folks Business. This novel was perfectly time around the controversy of “down-low” men in the African-American community. The protagonist from Grown Folks Business, Sheridan Hart, returns in this book. Sheridan is still having difficulty committing to the younger man she’s been dating for the past three years. The breakup of her 17-year-old marriage is still painful and while Sheridan is in denial, she still has feelings for her bisexual ex-husband.

Sheridan’s pastor asks her to lead a new prayer group that consists of three other women.

Kendall Stewart is working her way through a divorce, but she is not about to get over finding her husband in the bed with her sister. Now that her ex husband and her sister are a cozy couple, Kendall is being torn apart inside by bitterness.

Vanessa Martin’s husband recently committed suicide. Vanessa seems to be the most spiritual of the group but she’s hiding something. Beneath her joyous countenance, there is deep pain and grief. Vanessa is consumed with being with her husband in death.

Asia Ingram has officially been dropped by the NBA superstar she’s been having an affair with for years. Now that Bobbi’s wife is moving out to LA, he no longer needs Asia to be his “surrogate” wife. Asia is steaming mad, especially since she and Bobbi share a five-year-old daughter. She’s not letting go easily and has a laid out a revengeful plan.

Sparks fly more than prayer when this group of women assemble. Sheridan is wondering if Pastor Ford had the right idea about forming this group. Soon as the weeks go by, the women start to trust each other. It is through this growing friendship that they all will make it through the hardships that will strike them individually and together.

This book has sat on my shelf for a while. It seems most books that sit around for a while are usually well worth the wait. I remember back in 2001, Sharon Ewell Foster, Angela Benson and Victoria Christopher Murray were my first introduction to Christian fiction. Well, in 2007, Victoria Christopher Murray does not disappoint. As a matter of fact, her novels get better and better. Her books are definitely edgy and push the drama envelope, but I have to say I cried at least two or three times. Victoria knows how to push your emotions through her characters. Very well written. This is one book you surely don’t want to miss.

Fearless

Fearless - Robin Parrish Fearless
by Robin Parrish

Recently on a mailing list, someone asked what were the favorite books from 2007. I chose Fearless by Robin Parrish. This book is the second book in the Dominion Trilogy Series. Last year, I read the first book, Relentless. The storyline matched the title perfectly because the novel was action packed from beginning to the end. I was so excited about this book I suggested it to a coworker. I didn’t think it would be the type of book she would normally enjoy, but being an avid reader, I knew she would be pulled into the action like myself. Well, after waiting a whole year for this second book to be released, I must say Fearless was well worth the wait.

The saga of Grant Burrows, now known as “The Guardian” continues. After a major catastrophe, Grant and his team of extraordinarily powered humans are trying to pick up the pieces. With natural disasters and rioting, the world as they know it is crumbling around them fast. Grant and his team try to save as many people as they can. But in the midst of the disasters “The Guardian” is still searching for the people behind his extreme powers. What frightens Grant the most is whether or not he’s responsible for what’s taking place in the world now. His team will travel all around the world to find out how they can save the world from totally self-destructing.

When I was younger, I loved reading my cousin’s comic books. Even if you’re not a fan of comic books or fantasy, readers will be drawn into these characters from the very first chapter. Now unlike some book series, you really do have to read book one of the Dominion Trilogy. There are explanations about events that occurred in the first book, but there are also quite a few new characters introduced in the second book. Some key, beloved characters from the beginning will lose their life, so background knowledge is very helpful. Essentially, this book is the middle of the story.

One of the reasons why I chose Fearless as my favorite book for 2007 was because the ending shocked me. It was one big cliffhanger and I have to admit I sat with my mouth hanging open for a good minute. Then I just got mad. So next summer, I’m will be looking forward to Merciless. I imagine Robin Parrish’s Dominion Trilogy will go down as a classic in years to come. It’s a phenomenal story.

The Watchers

The Watchers - Mark Andrew Olsen thewatchers The Watchers
by Mark Andrew Olsen

Abby Sherman wakes up to an assassin in her bedroom. While Abby’s long time housekeeper and friend loses her life, Abby’s life hangs in balance as doctors scurry to find out how to cure Abby from whatever chemicals were injected into her body. After she decides to share an incredible dream on her MyCorner page, Abby becomes an instant Web celebrity from her hospital room. Abby’s rise to fame captures the attention of a popular talk show host. An unknown powerful group is not pleased with Abby sharing her dream to the whole world and want to shut the young woman up permanently.

Dylan Hatfield is the best assassin in the world and for the first time in his career, he’s questioning his employees. Why was he hired to kill young woman? All she did was share her crazy dream? Used to killing dictators and terrorists, a woman with a vivid dream of heaven hardly seems worth Dylan’s time. But the price is high and Dylan is ready to retire. When Dylan comes face-to-face with Abby, retirement goes out the window as he encounter the biggest transformation of his life. The two will cross the continent of Africa and eventually enter Jerusalem, all in pursuit of finding out more about the Watchers.

This story can only be described as enthralling. I wasn’t sure what to expect because at first glance it seemed like another terrorist book. Believe me, there is terrorism in this book, but on a higher level, a level the naked eye never sees, but definitely experiences.

There are quite a few books that tackle spiritual warfare but this storyline is definitely original. Blending current events with ancient Ethiopian and Jewish culture, this novel will takes readers on an extraordinary adventure. I think what I really like about this novel is it’s appeal to both men and women. There’s lots of action, but several tender moments providing a really great read and story.

The Watchers is the first book in a series, so there are more adventures for Abby and Dylan. Check out this book first and be on the lookout this spring for the next book, The Warriors, from Bethany House.

No Legal Grounds

No Legal Grounds - James Scott Bell When attorney Sam Trask receives an email out of the blue from someone he knew briefly in college, he has know idea how this blast from the past will affect his present day life. In no mood for a reunion, Sam chooses to ignore the message from Nicky Oberlin and concentrate on more important matters.

Currently, Sam must represent his client in one of the biggest cases his small law firm has ever agreed to tackle. The case pits Sam's against a high-powered lawyer representing a giant insurance company. If Sam loses the case, it could create a bad dent in his career and further destroy his young client's already damaged life.

To add to Sam's stresses, life on the home front has grown more difficult. After giving up old habits and turning his life over to God, Sam struggles with the changes in his life, especially the relationship with his daughter. Years of choosing career over family, has taken its toll as the father and daughter relationship continuous to spiral downward.

Against his better judgement, Sam finally agrees to meet with Nicky after the man doggedly pursues him for a face to face meeting. This meeting results in a series of events that may take Sam and his new found faith to a place he doesn't want to go.

This was the first book I've read by James Scott Bell and it definitely won't be the last. The suspense started from the opening sentence and doesn't let the reader up until the very end. At times the plot seemed a little out there, but Bell made it work with well-developed characters and several calculated twists in the story. The powerful spiritual message that lingers throughout the story should provoke the reader to ponder how much he or she truly trusts God, especially when the temptation to take matters into one's own hands seems to be the only solution. No Legal Ground is a well written, thought provoking thriller!

I'm looking forward to checking out James Scott Bell newest release, Try Dying. This novel will be released October 2007.

Coral Moon

Coral Moon - Brandilyn Collins Coral Moon is the second book in the Kanner Lake series. Months after the murder of Edna San, the normally quiet town is still reeling from the media circus that descended upon them as a result of the high profile murder. With a major lead on a breaking news story, the town’s ambitious reporter Leslie Brymes has benefited from the publicity more than anyone else. Unfortunately, Leslie’s boosted career move may have made her a target.

Leaving for work one morning, Leslie finds the body of a beloved Kanner Lake citizen in her car. As Chief Edwards, his officers and forensics work to find out whose behind the murder, the race to find a killer becomes more urgent — because it soon becomes apparent Kanner Lake has a serial killer in their midst. At the center, Leslie seems to be the main attraction.

I’m never disappointed with a Brandilyn Collins’ novel. Using short chapters and tight writing, the plot thickens and twists in all the right places. Coral Moon supports the author’s trademark "Seatbelt Suspense" head on and at times will send a chill down the reader’s back. Some parts of this novel can definitely be described as creepy. The faith message is not overt, but you also can’t miss the spiritual warfare element either.

Brandilyn tackled spiritual warfare in her Hidden Series books concentrating on the power of prayer. With the Kanner Lake series, she explores how clueless humans can open the door for demonic activity, not realizing the destruction that follows.

For readers who read book one, several of the characters are familiar from the Java Joint coffee shop. If the reader is picking up the second book first, it can be easily read as a stand alone. Look out for my review on Crimson Eve, book three in this series.

Night Light

Night Light - Terri Blackstock Terri Blackstock continues to shine and meet her fans expectations with Night Light, the second book in the Restoration Series. Life as the reader knows it today, has drastically changed for the Branning family. The world was unexpectedly thrust into a life without electricity, cell phone service, cars, and every technological luxury offered during the 21st century. Now months later after a grueling life of hard labor, this family continues to grow as a unit after almost losing the oldest daughter, Desi. Each family member has learned responsibilities far beyond their imagination. Not only must they work to keep an adequate food supply, but the family must protect their home in order to survive the chaotic environment.

When the Branning's home is invaded, they track the young thieves back to a poor neighborhood where four children under the age of ten have been living alone. With six mouths to feed already, the Branning family take in the children, whose mother, a known drug addict, is missing. The oldest boy, Aaron, proves to be more trouble than they realize as he fights the Branning's every step of the way.

The Branning family have no choice but to continue to guard the children's lives when their mother's body has been found. As the search progresses to find a murderer, unscrupulous people come forward to claim the children, especially since they are valuable commodities. The more people in a household, the more money is provided per household.

There are a host of characters in this novel besides the Branning family. Readers get to peek into the mind of the parents, a twenty-something woman and a nine-year old. Through these various points of view, the author does a great job drawing the reader into the struggles and fears these characters are currently facing. At times the pacing can be a bit slow, but there is quite a bit of action weaved into the book. There are definitely lessons to be learned about gratitude, sacrifice and God's grace.

Conflicts from the first book, Last Light, do arise again in the second book. The ongoing saga with Desi Branning's love life remain, along with the aftershocks of the last "murderer" in town. Reading the first book would probably help for background information, but Terri does spend time reviewing the past events that caused the major shutdown to civilization.

The third and last book in the Restoration Series, True Light, was released in July 2007. I'm looking forward to reading the final saga of the Branning family.

Like Sheep Gone Astray

Like Sheep Gone Astray - Leslie J. Sherrod Rev. Anthony Murdock’s story can be compared to Job, except in Anthony’s case, his sins have definitely come back to haunt him and he knows it. Driven by greed and ambition, Anthony accepted some unscrupulous offers all for the mighty dollar. Now that Anthony has turned his life around, working as an associate minister at a local country church, his conscience is driving him to redeem his past transgressions. With a wife determined to live the good life, Anthony’s decision to come clean could pose a problem. Not just for his marriage, but for several individuals.

Anthony’s wife, Terri is not pleased with her husband’s seemingly step down from the successes offered in the business world. She smiles and plays the part, but absolutely detests the church life. What she desires most is a life of luxury. When Anthony’s behavior becomes increasingly bizarre, Terri makes some self-centered decisions that not only place her marriage in jeopardy, but her life in danger.

Determined to redeem himself, Anthony sets off to find the one responsible for pushing his life out of control. His search will lead him to an unlikely area in his own past, a past filled with greed and deception prior to his birth.

If a reader tends to not to like keeping up with a lot of characters, just be prepared. There are quite a few characters in this novel and the author does a great job developing each character to stand on their own. With so many characters it would have been really easy to get folks mixed up, but most of them have pretty unique personalities. A few of the woman, in particular Terri, her best friend, Cherise and another woman named Nikki, really grated my nerves. I really, really wanted to see these women grow past their shallowness which came off painful at times to read.

Another painful area was Anthony and Terri’s marriage. Leslie absolutely nailed what happens when communication breaks down in a marriage. As a reader, I was wanted to throttle both of them at times for simply not talking to each other. I’m pointing out some of these storytelling aspects because they were authentic and kept me glued to the book. This is definitely a character driven book.

I must say another debut novelist from Walk Worthy Press has gained a fan. Leslie Sherrod has written a suspenseful novel with enough twists and turns to make a “sista” scream - in a good way though. Leslie will leave her readers scratching their head or biting their nails, wondering who is Anthony’s real enemy. By the end of this novel, I guarantee you will be surprised how well Leslie developed this “villain” right under the reader’s nose.