Thursday, March 23, 2006

Director's Cut, by Alton Gansky

Maddy Glenn does the mayor’s office proud. She is about to run for congress as well. However, she frequently finds herself in the midst of murder investigations.

When her cousin and budding Hollywood actress, Catherine Anderson, visits while starring at a local theater, trouble finds them both. As Catherine shows Maddy her extravagant new home, they discover something amiss. A dead body is floating in the swimming pool−the body of Catherine’s chauffeur. Is Catherine a suspect?

Then, to make matters worse, a new version of a movie script is delivered to Catherine with extra pages added in that chill her to the bone. They mirror a private conversation that no one should’ve heard and insinuate that there will be another murder.

Maddy’s protective instincts come to the forefront as she tries to find out who is terrorizing young Catherine, while dealing with another serious city problem. Will Maddy be able to solve both dilemmas before time runs out?

This third book in The Madison Glenn series is as delightful and intriguing as the first two. There’s nothing like a murder mystery to keep me turning pages. Maddy is a wonderfully flawed character who is finding her way in her spiritual walk, learning to share her faith, and sort through her own issues. I’m a little biased, since Gansky is one of my favorite authors, but I highly recommend this novel for it’s themes and entertainment value.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

When the Day of Evil Comes

Nightmares. Flies. Rotten egg smell. Suicide. Spiritual warfare. Whoa. And that’s just the beginning.

It is summer in Dallas and Dylan Foster, a university psychologist, likes her life. Until she meets a strange man at a faculty picnic. Who is he and what does he want?

Matters worsen when she and all her coworkers receive anonymous gifts, a former student says she harassed him, and the engagement ring that should be on her dead mother’s finger shows up once again. A friend of hers insists she has called and asked him out. What in Texas is going on?

Dylan’s life is spinning out of control, but what can she do to stop it? The forces at work prove powerful and mysterious as she searches for clues to the mysteries surrounding her. Thankfully, she is told to pray and to put on her armor. Sage advice. As one of her friends says: “The good news is that as a child of the King, you’re entitled to protection.”

Will she find the inner strength to fight the spiritual battle she now admits she’s involved in? Can she use her newfound knowledge to keep others from danger?

I can’t say enough glowing comments about this novel. It proved suspenseful, exciting, funny and a little creepy, which gives it high marks in my mind. Wells handles this weighty subject matter perfectly, balancing seriousness with levity. I absolutely adored Dylan Foster’s character. She catapulted herself into my reality and stayed there.

Bravo. I hope to see many more of Wells’ works soon. Check out Book 2 in the Day of Evil Series, Soul Hunter, coming in May.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

My Life as a Doormat, by Rene Gutteridge

We have all met the doormat type. These people avoid conflict like the plague, and 34-year-old struggling playwright Leah Townsend is no exception. She always lets her boyfriend order for her when out to dinner. Never would she tell her former senator father that she is a republican. Her mother is overbearing and her best friend needs advice, but no reply from Leah will rock the relationship boat. Even the main character of her play bullies her into submission. What she doesn’t know is that trying to make everyone happy just makes everyone unhappy, especially herself.

Leah has dated straight-laced Edward for two years, and although she longs for some spontaneity, she dare not tell him so. When she wears a color other than her regular black to a party they attend, he seems embarrassed, but she refuses to confront him about it. Edward decides she needs help, so he sends her to an all-expense-paid conflict resolution class. This, of course, is the worst thing imaginable to Leah, but she agrees so as not to make waves.

She grows more and more uncomfortable among the annoying attendees, who either bicker and fight or cower in fear. All the while, Leah’s trademark red splotches creep up her neck, threatening to take over her entire head. But will she understand herself better through the process? What kind of friendships will she strike up in such an unlikely place?

And what of her manuscript? Her play is going nowhere, and her agent lets her know in concise terms that this will be the end of her career unless she turns out a successful play.

A wide range of supporting characters weave their way through Leah’s life, each one bringing about different feelings within her. Will she learn to speak up for herself and state her opinion without being rude or breaking into a cold sweat?

I rarely cackle while immersed in a book, but this story had me doing it with startling frequency. My response alternated between laughing at or feeling deep concern for dear Leah throughout the book.

On the serious side, it takes extreme circumstances in our lives to highlight our character flaws. There is a point where we must decide to change because we can’t stay the same anymore. All of us must experience this at some point, but it was nice to see it happen to someone else via compelling and comical fiction.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Who are You?

My Bible reading today took me to a familiar passage. Most of us could quote this in our sleep or at least give a synopsis of the story. Luke 15 records the parable of the prodigal son.

As I read, I tried to think about the tale afresh, since it's often so easy to skip over something I think I already know. There are three main characters in this story: the father, the "good" son, and the "wayward" son. Many of us think of ourselves as being the son who ran off in sin and then crawled back later begging for forgiveness.

But what about the son who stayed home? He did everything right, always obeyed his father, was responsible. What else was he? Arrogant, unforgiving, unloving. How many times have we seen people we think have drug themselves through the muck and then finally come to the Lord and then responded with a self-righteous attitude? Or do we genuinely rejoice with them and love them as any other Christ follower?

The Father in the parable represents God, our heavenly Father. Some of us are parents as God is a type of parent to His children. Do we welcome back our repentant children with open arms, no matter what they've done? Or do we try to lord the mistakes over them and beat them down with guilt?

I've had to look at my own life in light of these questions and make sure I'm acting in a godly way in all of my relationships. In the end, I'm thankful God takes time to love each of us, and always gives another chance. Thank God He watches from afar off for us to come home to Him and take our rightful place in His family.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

It's March!

Whew. Time flies, as they say. Don't know if I'm having fun, though. I haven't had much chance lately to read or write, two of my very favorite things!

What's up with me? Not much worth sharing here. Look out for my review of ZOEgirl's greatest hits CD in Infuze coming soon. I'll also be reviewing a few books on this blog very soon.

Happy almost spring, everyone.