Book Review: Joni&Ken

Joni and KenKen & Joni Eareckson Tada With Larry Libby

Subtitle: An Untold Love Story

Publisher: Zondervan

Pages: 192

Price: $18.99

ISBN: 978-0310314691

Publication Date: April 2, 2013


An athletic seventeen-year-old girl broke her neck while diving, changing her life forever. Over thirty years later, she still lives in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the neck down. She has also traveled throughout the US and the world advocating for the disabled. Few of us haven’t heard of Joni Earekson Tada, singer, writer, and artist who does oil paintings by holding the brush in her teeth. 

Ken Tada is the amazing man she found, married, and has loved for thirty years. When he married her, he knew there would be challenges. But he discovered the extent of those challenges on their wedding night. They had periods of near-estrangement as he struggled through the inescapable dailiness of it all.

Ken became depressed. Then Joni’s physical disabilities increased. She went from no feeling in her body, to terrible pain, breast cancer, and pneumonia.  

The Lord took them through the turbulence to a place of deeper-than-ever love for each other and Him. There is a cute set of pictures on the back flap of the two of them laughing together. 

The authors of Joni&Ken tell the story in personal narrative, leading the reader into the action as though walking along with them. Neither Joni nor Ken are perfect, though talented and spiritually sensitive. What might be too depressing to read, becomes a journey with two nice people that we like.

Book Review: Daughter of the King

Daughter of the kingCarlene Havel/Sharon Faucheux

Publisher: Prism Book Group

Pages: 256

Price: $12.99

Publication Date: December 12, 2012

ISBN: 978-0615740614 


Saul gave his daughter, Michal, to David. But when she saves David from Saul, he gives her to Phaltiel, a hateful drunk who shamelessly uses his wives and their servants to satisfy perverse desires. 

When Saul dies, troops come to take Michal away. She doesn’t know whether she is going to her death. Did David believe she willingly went with another man? However, she finds herself back with David whom she loved from the beginning. By now, David has gone from musician to king of Judea.  

Happy at first, Michal evolves from David’s cherished and loved first wife to one of many in his mansion full of wives and concubines. The politics of dwelling with a city of wives gives us a glimpse of that unpleasant situation. We see the extent of her pain when she gives permission for her handmaid to marry a poor man. She longs for a poor man who could afford only one wife. 

The book stays true to the book of Samuel and Biblical times. It answers plausibly the question of why she became angry when she saw David dance. It departs from the Bible slightly. Michal’s outburst came after David went home—Samuel 16:20-22.  

This book is well paced and keeps you reading. We like the good guys, though the bad guys are unforgivably bad. In about three places, I found the descriptions too graphic.

Book Review: Sandwich with a Side of Romance

SandwichKrista Phillips 

Publisher:  Abingdon Press 

Pages: 304 

Price: $14.99 

Pub Date:  September 01, 2012   

ISBN:  9781426745928 

Back Cover 

“Sandwich represents hope for twenty-year-old Maddie Buckner and Kyle, the eleven-year-old brother Maddie wants to spring out of foster care. Then she loses her new job after less than a day. It’s all Reuben-the-jerk’s fault and she’s determined to make him right the wrong. 

He does so, reluctantly, by giving her a job in his restaurant, The Sandwich Emporium.” 

New Christian, Maddie, comes from a background she regrets. She must prove herself to get custody of Kyle, and with two lost jobs in two days after she accidentally dumps dinner on the mayor, she convinces Reuben that he needs an assistant in the office. Thus begins an unwelcome attraction between them—because of painful (literally) liaisons with men in the past, she wants to forget about romance. 

Sandwich with a Side of Romance is just that—a romance. This book provides a pleasant diversion on a Sunday afternoon. Likeable characters walk through these pages, and the Christians who people it seem genuine: no “we’re too perfect to be real”. It maintains a steady pace to keep the reader reading. 



Book Review: Icejacked


Adrian L. Hawkes 

Publisher: iUniverse Publishing 

Pages: 220 

List Price: $15.95 

ISBN: 978-1462047116 

Icejacked is Rip Van Winkle sleeps for 2000 years. Gerhardt, graduate student and historian, believes he can further his education concerning prehistoric man when he learns of a man preserved in ice. He plans to join the study. But when he arrives at the morgue, he discovers that the man had a heartbeat and that morgue personnel transferred him to a hospital. Gerhardt thinks they have mistaken a recent tourist for a man from history.

Instead, he meets Leddicus, Roman citizen and member of the way—the earliest group to follow Christ—waking from a 2000 year sleep in a cake of ice. Gerhardt plans to become obscenely rich by presenting him to the world. 

Everything astounds Leddicus at first but he quickly learns to enjoy modern life. They travel around the country and world to tell Leddicus’s story. In the background, a group of sinister people makes plans to exploit Leddicus. 

The storyline would have benefited from more conflict. As demonstrated by UFOs and the moonwalk, people react in disbelief when something happens outside their experience. With one exception, no one questions that a man could live in ice for 2000 years. Newspaper stories all over the world would accuse Gerhardt and group of fraud. The British version of the FBI might visit (Adrian Hawkes lives in London) and investigate—especially considering all the money Leddicus makes for his sponsors. In addition, the bad guys should be woven in to the story instead of lurking in the background. I never know what connection the bad guys have to the protagonists. 

I believe Leddicus would have been physically more fragile after 2000 years in a huge ice cube. His physical condition could add to the conflict. And, where is the grief at the loss of his family and life? 

Leddicus and company are realistic and charming, and the daily life of their trips ring true. The story moves along smoothly, giving authentic hints of early Rome. Author, Adrian L. Hawkes did his homework.  

Book Review: Stolen but not Lost

Stolen but not lost FOR TYPEPAD

Janet Tombow

Publisher:  Carpenter's Son Publishing 

Pages: 224 

List price: $14.95 

ISBN:  978-0984977116 

Ms. Tombow journeys from a difficult childhood to finding and becoming a part of her birth mother’s life. She tells of the harsh treatment she received from her stepmother and her distance from her father. Then she delineates the steps in her search for her birth mother—valuable information for anyone looking for a birth parent—and the life and trials they shared after she found her. Both mother and daughter must grieve the lost years and learn forgiveness. 

I found the first chapter depressing and almost didn’t continue reading as it gives an unemotional description of her stepmother’s abuse. The writing is adequate but the writer writes in lists. She tells of the first step and then tells of the next step as though writing a travelogue. But anyone who wants to search for a birth parent will find concrete answers and organization names to help. The book warns of pitfalls that may accompany the reunion.

I received this book from NetGalley. It is an honest review.

Book Review: Cooking the Books

Cooking the books for TYPEPAD

Bonnie S. Calhoun 

SubTitle:  A Sloane Templeton Mystery 

Publisher:  Abingdon Press 

Pages: 304 

List Price: $14.99 

Pub Date:  April 02, 2012 

ISBN:  978-1426733888 

Sloane runs the bookstore, Beckham’s Books & Brews, specializing in antique books, left to her by her mother. Fifi, business manager, and her pistol-packin’ group, the Granny Oakleys, ably assist her. Two men want one book in particular. Each is angry that the other knows about it. Meanwhile, Trey, well-muscled example of Sloane’s bad taste in men, terrorizes her. Though she said goodbye, he still considers her his woman. But she has Andreas. She doesn’t understand why her mother didn’t like him. Fifi also dislikes him. 

Aunt Verlene, worst chef in history, constantly commandeers Sloane for food tests. One day, while Sloane tries not to eat Verlene’s latest culinary delight, they find a cookbook by a famous chef with a wealth-building recipe formerly believed lost. Verlene, sworn to silence, only tells her beauty shop early in the morning. Working girls use it then. Would they mention it to their boyfriends? 

Meanwhile the manager of the real-estate company Rob Landry works for instructs him to play dirty to get Sloane to sell the bookstore. 

Cooking the Books delivers constant suspense well mixed with eccentric characters and humor. I enjoyed it.

Book Review: Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus

Harriet beamer FOR TYPEPAD

Joyce Magnin 

Publisher:  Zondervan 

Pages: 320 

List Price: $14.99 

Pub Date:  May 01, 2012 

ISBN:  978-0310333555 

Seventy-two year old Harriet Beamer falls off a ladder. Her daughter-in-law, Prudence, makes a bet with Harriet. If the foot is broken, she must come and live with Prudence and Henry. “It was a suckers bet,” Harriet says as she plans her trip to California to join them. But she decides to take the long way by local transportation. A friendly stranger helps her find her Droid, Amelia, to plan each new course—deciding as she goes. 

Henry worries as she calls to tell him about her ride on a helicopter and her adventure with the snake-handler. He can only wait as she makes her convoluted way to him. Harriett encounters good and bad people. She gains celebrity when she stops a purse-snatcher with a well-placed rolling suitcase as the incident goes viral. 

The reader will smile more than laugh aloud, though the book provides a few of those. If you enjoy old people, who don’t believe life ends when you reach “maturity” you will enjoy this book. It may provide a pleasant Sunday afternoon diversion.

Book Review: Discerning the Voice of God

Discerning Voice FOR TYPEPAD

Priscilla Shirer

SubTitle: How to Recognize When God is Speaking 

Publisher: Moody Publishers 

Pages: 224 

List Price: $14.99 

ISBN: 978-0802450128 

Too often, Christians fret concerning whether they know the will of God. No trumpets blow. No burning bush stops them in their tracks. No angel knocks on the door with a letter from God. Priscilla Shirer, daughter of Dr. Tony Evans and a minister, tackles the problem of  how we may recognize the voice of God with certainty. This version is the eleventh edition of this book (revised and expanded). 

The first chapter pace moves a little slowly, but it picks up as the reader goes to the later chapters. The author mentions her experiences to illustrate, though often in general language. She mentions “a new ministry” for example. I wanted to know what new ministry. 

Discerning the Voice of God would work well as a study guide for a group--probably its purpose. The reader will enjoy the book more by reading a chapter at a time which would fit well as a daily addition to devotions. Most Christians will find something new, and feel more secure in making decisions. 

 I received this book from Moody Publisher. It is an honest review.

Book Review: Downtown Green

Downtown Green FOR TYPEPADJudy Christie 

Publisher:  Abingdon Press 

Pages: 224 

List Price: $13.99 

ISBN:  978-1426708992 

Lois Craig, owner of the Green News-Item newspaper, new mother, and proud citizen of Green, watches the downtown businesses wane without customers. Zach Price, her ex boss, wants to acquire the newspaper to merge with his large one. Major Wilson, newly released from prison, and Jerry Taylor fight to bring an industrial development to replace the main streets. Meanwhile, the scenic lake becomes not as scenic as the weed, giant salvinia, doubles, rapidly covering it. 

Lois and concerned friends struggle to bring business to downtown. She and her husband, Chris, buy an ice-cream parlor to prevent Jerry Taylor from buying the land. The town gathers to fix the dilapidated building. 

The large cast of characters becomes confusing. The book would benefit by a who’s who index to keep track. It doesn’t help that the dog has a people name. The reader may wonder whose child is that. A few of the background stories resolve themselves too easily. Vince should have tormented them longer. 

Despite these flaws, the reader will enjoy the people and small-town ambiance of Green—the sense that the town belongs to all of them. The pace of the story moves well. Worth reading.

I received this book from NetGalley. It is an honest review.



Book Review: The Half-Stitched Amish Quilting Club

Half-stitched FOR TYPEPADWanda E. Brunstetter 

Publisher:  Barbour Publishing, Inc. 

Pub Date:  April 03, 2012

List Price: $14.99

Pages: 320

ISBN:  9781602608115

Amish Emma Yoder didn’t like depending on her children. To earn some money, she advertised that she would teach quilting. She didn’t expect the motley crowd who stood on her porch for the first class—all suffering invisible hurts. The bickering couple, the biker whose parole officer suggested he find a creative outlet, and the African-American minister’s wife have little in common. Emma feels she might have more to give than quilting lessons. 

Emma Yoder and Ruby Lee ring true. I believed Stuart and Pam. But Jan, the biker, and Star, the Goth teenager weren’t quite believable. They should have had a few rough edges. I don’t know any bikers except the Christian Motorcycle Club, who probably aren’t typical. However, my impression is that though they might love their dogs, they might also have to watch their language (for example), and troubled teens aren’t this wholesome. They suffer from cutting, Bulimia, disrespect for adults, or other symptoms of their pain. 

This book is a pleasant read for a Sunday afternoon when you don’t want the world’s problems to disturb you. It also gives a peek in to the Amish life for those of us who wish we could live that simply for God. A phone shack? My grandson texts in his sleep.

I received this book from NetGalley. It is an honest review.