Monday, October 29, 2012

The Sanctuary by Ted Dekker

Danny Hansen is a former priest serving a 50 year sentence for murder. Determined to serve his time and live his life in non-violence Danny is transferred to Basal Institute of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Basal is run by Warden Marshall Pape who’s philosophy is An Eye for an Eye. Pape sees his job as Warden of his Sanctuary to rehabilitate the members of Basal by using a rewards and punishment system. Danny has his first taste of punishment the first day he arrives-he is thrown naked into a cell with only concrete for a bed and fed only once a day. It doesn’t take long for Danny to understand that the Warden has a special reason for torturing him. Danny is determined to endure the punishments of Basal in order to keep his girlfriend Renee Gilmore safe on the outside. 

Renee Gilmore loves Danny Hansen with every fiber of her being. After all, he took the blame for the murder of 2 men that she committed. When she receives a severed finger in a shoebox she panics thinking it is Danny’s finger. This is the beginning of the game that a mysterious person that she labels as “Sicko” pulls her into. Afraid for Danny’s life and determined to help him in prison Renee enlists the help of a former lawyer named Keith. Together they must follow “Sicko’s” directions in order to save themselves and Danny. At what cost will they pay? And will they be able to save Danny before it is too late?

The Sanctuary is a companion novel to Ted Dekker’s novel The Priests Graveyard which I haven’t read. I don’t think it is necessary to have read The Priests Graveyard in order to follow the story of The Sanctuary. But I am definitely going to have to read it now that I have finished The Sanctuary. But first I need to read something a little less stressful! The Sanctuary is not for the faint of heart that is for sure. There is violence, there are uncomfortable scenes of torture and some crudity. Danny’s character was a former vigilante priest that performed multiple murders as an avenging angel of the weak. He has now turned to non-violence and is serving his time, but he is thrown into a situation where the Warden is now the avenging angel determined in his own twisted logic to punish Danny for his sins. The Sanctuary kept me on the edge of my seat and my fingers turning the pages late into the evening. Definitely The Sanctuary is a story that will stay with me for a long while.

Thanks to FaithWords for my copy of The Sanctuary to review. 


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Christy by Catherine Marshall

Christy is one of my all-time favorite books. I read it as a young teenager and it captured my heart then as well as now after re-reading it. I find it so hard to write a review of a classic for some reason so I'm going to go a little different than normal and just introduce the characters:

Christy Huddleston: A 19 year old full of idealism goes to Cutter Gap to teach the mountain children of the Cove. She has never taught before but doesn't realize how difficult her job will be. Over 60 students in all grades would challenge even a seasoned teacher. She is shocked by the poverty of the mountain people. Children who walk to school barefoot in the snow, no running water in their cabins, very few outhouses. But yet full of so much pride that feuds are common among them.

Miss Alice Henderson: A Quaker woman who has settled among the people and has started a couple of schools for the mountain children. Christy admires her peace and her ability to maintain a Quaker silence in order to listen for God's voice in her heart. Miss Alice has come to be respected in the Cove and they value her presence and example.

David Grantland: The young preacher who struggles with the stubbornness of these mountain people. He like Christy finds himself kicking at tradition that has been in place for hundreds of years. And like Christy he too is struggling with who he is. A pastor that cannot offer people an assurance of an afterlife because he has no idea if there is one. Pushed into seminary by his mother and sisters, David questions faith but yet has a true desire to help the mountain people.

Dr. Neill MacNeill: The doctor who was born and raised among the mountain people but yet is still apart from them because of his education and position. Also a man that confuses and angers Christy. He challenges her to think for herself and to form her own opinions.

Fairlight Spencer: The first adult that Christy teaches to read. Also Christy's first friend among the mountain people. She has a grace and beauty that transcends the poverty in which she lives. Fairlight teaches Christy how to enjoy the beauty around her.

Bird's Eye Taylor and his son Lundy: Bird's Eye is part of a blockade running gang. Lundy is one of Christy's students. Both examples of the pride and anger that the mountain men carry with them in maintaining their feuds.

Opal Machone: Her new discovery that God actually loves her helps her to be the first to extend forgiveness to someone who seems unforgivable.

Such a great great book! I came to love all of the people in the story just as the young Christy learns that really looking at someone and investing in their lives can help you look beyond the dirt and squalor to see the real person and love them where they are at.

This is my last book in the Contentment Reading Challenge. I set a goal as Wading which was to re-read 10 books this year. It's nice to finish a goal!

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Light in the Window by Julie Lessman

 Marceline Murphy has had a crush on her best friend Julie’s brother Sam since she was 8 years old. But Sam and his best friend Patrick O’Connor are known to be rogue’s when it comes to women and alcohol. No heart is safe when they are around.

Marceline is an only child that has always wanted a large family. She has envied her best friend’s large family for years. When both Patrick and Sam set their hearts on Marcy she is determined to not be their next conquest.
Marcy is the first girl that has ever made Patrick and Sam want to change for the better. Both determined to win her heart, they join in helping Marcy with the fundraising play for the parish. At first they join only to gain Marcy’s interest, but one heart is changed forever. Will Marcy choose Sam whom she has had a schoolgirl crush on for years or his best friend Patrick whom she continually under estimates?

A Light in the Window is the prequel to the O’Connor family story. If you have read any of The Daughters of Boston series or The Winds of Change then you know how A Light in the Window turns out. But as with all of Julie Lessman’s books it is not without its twists and turns to get to the final outcome. A Light in the Window has become my favorite of the O’Connor stories! Even though this story is “lighter” than the other books in the series I found that there is still enough passion and angst to keep me on the edge of my seat! One of the things that I definitely love about the whole series is the faith interwoven through the characters lives. Each book shows how surrender to the Savior can change the most hardened heart. 

Julie Lessman is having a contest on her blog. Check it out:

 Here are my reviews of the other O'Connor books in the series:

A Passion Most Pure
A Passion Redeemed
A Passion Denied
A Hope Undaunted
A Heart Revealed
A Love Surrendered

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Cast of Characters by Max Lucado

My cousin gave this to me for my birthday this year. I really enjoyed it. The cast of characters included:

The Woman caught in adultery
Ananias and Saul
The Gadarene Demoniac
The Thief on the cross
And many more!

Each of their stories were told along with how we can relate with their lives today. I like what a paragraph on the back of the book said:

"The Bible is filled with a cast of characters who was lost. The crippled man at the Beautiful Gate. The leper. Even king David, whose colossal collapse turned him into a liar and murderer. These are the hopeless, hapless, and hurting faces that fill Scripture. These are also the faces we see when we look in our own mirrors."

I really enjoyed how Max Lucado was able to relate so many Biblical characters lives to our lives today. We may not literally be blind, we may not have committed adultery, we may not have lost everything we have, but we all were lost until we met the Savior.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Double Blind by Brandilyn Collins

Lisa Newberry has spiraled into a depression that she cannot get out of. She has suffered multiple miscarriages and now her husband has passed away. She despairs of ever being normal again. When given the opportunity to participate in a new Empowerment Chip trial Lisa sees this as a way out of her depression. Cognoscenti is testing their new chip that promises to relieve patients of depression.  

The study is a blind study in that the patient and the doctors do not know whether the chip that is being placed in the brain is a placebo or an actual Empowerment Chip. When Lisa wakes up from surgery she is sure that she received the actual Empowerment Chip as she feels better than she has in months. She feels lighter and it seems the depression is gone. Before Lisa even leaves the hospital she starts having visions of a murder taking place. Convinced she is going crazy Lisa goes to Cognoscenti to insist that they remove the chip from her brain. 

Cognoscenti denies that the chip in Lisa’s brain is defective and insist that she needs psychological counseling. Lisa continues to have more detailed visions of the murder and sets out to find the woman murdered and to find the killer. But the murderer does not want to be found and takes steps to warn Lisa to stop her search.

I’m a huge fan of suspense and psychological thrillers! I enjoyed Double Blind very much. The story never seemed to lag and each page kept me turning until the very end. The outcome was a surprise to me and didn’t seem predictable. I’m truly a fan of Brandilyn Collins!

I received my copy of Double Blind from NetGalley. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Kiss of Death by Debbie Viguie

Raphael and his sire Gabriel must go on the hunt for Richelieu and his army of vampires. Richelieu is searching for any artifact that may have the blood of Christ on it. The blood of Christ will give him power to win the coming battle. Raphael and Gabriel must stop him before it is too late.

Meanwhile Wendy has returned to Prague from America. She and Susan are staying in Prague to help David recuperate from his last encounter with vampires. Gabriel has given Wendy and Susan their great great etc.  ancestor Carissa’s diary. While waiting for Gabriel and Raphael to return, Wendy translates it from French. Written in the twelfth century the diary tells of heartbreak and betrayal. Carissa’s story is of how the vampires came to be connected to Susan and Wendy’s family. 

Throughout the story Susan and Raphael are separated so there isn’t much romance between them like in the first book. The part of the story that interested me the most was the excerpts from Carissa’s diary telling of her life and how her family became connected to the vampire world. As in Kiss of Night where all of the chapters began with a verse of scripture about blood, Kiss of Death began each chapter with a verse on death. I found that the transitions from the present with Susan and Raphael to the past with Carissa and her vampire were done seamlessly. There were lots of tense moments in both the present and the past that kept me turning the pages. I don’t know when the next book Kiss of Revenge comes out, but I must get my hands on it! The Kiss novels are marketed as Christian vampire stories; I will let someone far more adept at argument than I tackle that aspect of the books. The need for redemption could apply to any person, the characters in need of redemption in the Kiss novels just happen to be vampires. 

My Rating: 

Thank you to FaithWords for my copy of Kiss of Death for review. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Pioneer Woman Black Heels to Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond

Have you ever seen The Pioneer Woman cookbooks? Or checked out The Pioneer Woman website? If you haven't you are missing out on some great recipes and some great real-life stories of a city gal who married a handsome cowboy. This is their love story from the time they met and fell in love through their first year of marriage. I enjoyed every bit of it. It made me laugh and it made me cry. If you like a good romance story then check this out!

Check out both cookbooks. I have made many of the recipes in both. Each filled with fully color photo's taken by Ree with step by step instructions for each recipe. These have become my favorite recipe books!

Check out Ree's blog The Pioneer Woman Cooks

Weekend Report

The Weekend Report is hosted by Melanie at Christian Bookshelf Reviews. It is an opportunity to wrap up our week of reading. Check out her blog!


Non-fiction, but her story reads like a romance novel! Love it!


The last of the Daughters of Boston series. I really liked it.

My favorite O'Connor book of the series! Review to come later in October!

Wow, I read 3 Julie Lessman books in a row! They were GREAT!

What I plan to read soon:

How was your week in reading?