The three most important parts of a book are: a well constructed plot, compelling characters, and a satisfying conclusion.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk KiddPublisher:  Viking Adult
Release Date:  January 7, 2014
Pages:  373
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Reviewed By WC

About the Book:  Hetty "Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid.We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty-five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.
As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.

Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better.

This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved.

WC's Review:  The well bred Grimke sisters of Charlestown, during the decades preceding the War of Southern Liberation, discover they have a profound calling to free their impressed Negroes from the shackles of slavery. Sarah and and her younger sister Nina face ridicule, persecution, and ostracism in their mission to gain equality for their beloved sister slaves.

They also face shunning from the ranks of their chosen faith of Quakerism.

The sisters' lives are spiced and made whole through their affectionate involvement with the young slave, Hetty, whom they affectionately call "Handful", and Hetty's courageous mauma, "Charlotte". The love here is simple and pure, the love that only comes from a relationship with God.

These three, along with Hetty's teenage slave sister, "Sky", make a formidable group as they pursue freedom with the aid of prominent abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, early feminist Lucretia Mott, and free slave Sarah Mapps Douglass. Thee four further tread into the brackish waters of women's' rights.

Sarah's publication of "American Slavery As It Is", had a profound impact upon American society 15 years before the publication of "Uncle Tom's Cabin."

This historical enlightenment, by author Kidd and her daughter Ann, flows, many times unpredictable, but never failing to inspire and invoke a desire to know more, to slake the innate thirst in all of us for true independence and freedom.
Sue Monk KiddAbout the Author:  SUE MONK KIDD was raised in the small town of Sylvester, Georgia. She graduated from Texas Christian University in 1970 and later took creative writing courses at Emory University and Anderson College, as well as studying at Sewanee, Bread Loaf, and other writers’ conferences. In her forties, Kidd turned her attention to writing fiction, winning the South Carolina Fellowship in Literature and the 1996 Poets & Writers Exchange Program in Fiction.

When her first novel, The Secret Life of Bees, was published by Viking in 2002, it became a genuine literary phenomenon, spending more than 2½ years on the New York Timesbestseller list. It has been translated into 36 languages and sold more than 6 million copies in the U.S. and 8 million copies worldwide. Beeswas named the Book Sense Paperback Book of the Year in 2004, long-listed for the 2002 Orange Prize in England, and won numerous awards.

The Mermaid Chair spent 24 weeks on the New York Times hardcover bestseller list, reaching the #1 position, and spent 22 weeks on the New York Times trade paperback list. She is also the author of several acclaimed memoirs, including the New York Times bestseller Traveling with Pomegranates, written with her daughter, Ann Kidd Taylor. Kidd lives in Florida with her husband. 

Please visit for more information. Follow Sue on Twitter @SueMonkKidd and Facebook


The Beverly Lewis Amish Heritage Cookbook by Beverly  LewisPublisher: Bethany House
Release Date:  2004
Pages:  301
Genre:  Cookbook

About the Cookbook:  A homespun, authentic collection of Amish recipes collected over the years by Beverly Lewis. Many are from her grandmother and other family members as well as dear friends from the Amish world she writes about with such power and authenticity. Now she lovingly shares these with her millions of readers who have come to treasure her ctional insights into Amish life. The additional Amish sayings and line drawings make for an appealing gift. 

Wanda's Thoughts:  These delicious recipes will help you put good wholesome meals on the table without a lot of fuss - so easy to prepare. The recipes are organized by category, making it easy to find your favorite mouth watering recipes.

I've been using this cookbook for about 2 months and already have a few favorites: 
Pumpkin Bread - The best I've ever eaten.
Morning Glory Muffins - Makes a lot of muffins and the extra batter will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.
Amish Meat Loaf - Just superb!

If you enjoy comfort food you will be delighted with this cook book. My rating is 5 stars.
Beverly  Lewis
About the Author:  Beverly Lewis, raised in Pennsylvania Amish country and both a schoolteacher and an accomplished musician, has been an award-winning author for over a dozen years. Her acclaimed novel, The Preacher's Daughter, was a 2006 Quill Book Award finalist in the romance category. Her books have appeared on numerous bestseller lists, including USA Today and The New York Times. She and her husband, David, live in Colorado."


The Indescribable Gift by Richard ExleyPublisher:  New Leaf Press
Release Date:  1st published 1997
Pages:  112
Genre:  Religion

About the Book:  One of the most elegant Christmas gift books ever Based on the gospels of Matthew and Luke, it relates the Christmas story as seen by each person who was there Explores the emotions, thoughts, and interrelationships of all of the people in the Christmas story What a great gesture of compassion for God to give His only Son to fallen man. The arrival of our Lord was not in a fitting location for a king, but He began changing lives immediately. Richard Exley has crafted this mosaic of ten vivid and charming vignettes of the very real and human people whose lives were first touched by the Savior: Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, the shepherds, the wise men. The vibrant, profoundly moving artwork brings the stories to life, and makes this book an instant heirloom. 

Wanda's Thoughts:  I received this lovely book a number of years ago as a Christmas gift, and always enjoy reading it over the Christmas season. It is a collection of beautifully written vignettes that will lead you through the Nativity. Based on Scripture, it is written in such a way that will allow you to share the thoughts and feelings of Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, the innkeeper, and so many more, who were there before and after the birth of Jesus.

I highly recommend this truly beautiful book. It would make a special gift for the Christmas season. 5 stars.

About the Author:  Richard Exley is a man with a rich diversity of experience -- pastor, author, radio host, conference and retreat speaker. After serving churches in Colorado, Texas, and Oklahoma for the past twenty-six years, he now devotes his time fully to writing and speaking. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Monday, November 24, 2014

I, Saul By Jerry B Jenkins

I, Saul by Jerry B. JenkinsPublisher:  Worthy Publishing
Release Date:  August 2013
Pages:  400
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Reviewed By WC

Book Description:  Told from the point of view of the disciple Luke, the apostle Paul and "Auggie," a modern-day scholar, I, Saul, is a fast-paced story of intrigue and mystery. Readers will be reminded of Indiana Jones and the DiVinci code as they become absorbed in this page-turner by a master storyteller. Along the way they will learn of the fictionalized but plausible story of the life of Saul who relentlessly persecuted Christ's followers prior to his conversion when he became known as Paul. 

WC's Review:  Author Jerry Jenkins has cleverly juxtaposed the story of God's anointed apostle Paul with the present day discovery of well-preserved papers documenting the complete story of Paul's devotion and thoughts during his final imprisonment in Rome.

Scholars encourage the revelation of Paul's autobiography as the most important discovery since the advent of the Dead Sea Scrolls. 

Indeed, the suspenseful events surrounding this discovery reveal a maze of intrigue and danger, highlighted by an American theological professor in his efforts to obtain these documents, aided by his resourceful confidant in Rome and his beautiful fiancee, who has ties with the nefarious masterminds who plan to make millions from Paul's writings.

Truly a fascinating read. Highly recommended.

About the Author:  Jerry Bruce Jenkins is an American novelist and biographer. He is best known as co-author of theLeft Behind series of books with Tim LaHaye. Jenkins has written over 180 books, including mysteries, historical fiction, biblical fiction, cop thrillers, international spy thrillers, and children's adventures, as well as non-fiction. His works usually feature Christians as protagonists. In 2005, Jenkins and LaHaye ranked 9th in's 10th Anniversary list of Hall of Fame authors based on books sold at during its first 10 years. Jenkins and his wife Dianna have three sons and eight grandchildren. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

GOOSEBERRY ISLAND By Steven Manchester

Gooseberry Island by Steven ManchesterPublisher:  The Story Plant
Expected Release Date:  January 6, 2015
Pages:  300

Book Description:  They met at the worst possible moment...or maybe it was just in time. David McClain was about to go to war and Lindsey Wood was there at his going-away party, capturing his heart when falling for a woman was the last thing on his mind. While David was serving his country, he stayed in close contact with Lindsey. But war changes a person, and when he came home very little had the same meaning that it had before – including the romance that had sustained him. Was love truly unconquerable, or would it prove to be just another battlefield casualty?

Gooseberry Island is the most nuanced, dramatic, and romantic novel yet from a writer whose ability to plumb the depths of human emotion knows few peers.

Wanda's Thoughts:  I’ve said it before – Steven Manchester has a very definite style of his own. His books all display beautiful descriptive writing, poignancy, and include an inspirational message, and this one will simply warm your heart. 

Gooseberry Island is the story of a love between Lindsey Wood and David McClain. It is a love that will make you smile and feel good for a short time, but eventually turns to sadness and heartache. It is a deeply moving story that has themes of love, joy, tears, and forgiveness. 

And the story unfolds from beginning to end with ease and at a moderate pace. It toggles between two relationships – David and Lindsey, and Lindsey and her father. 

The relationship between David and Lindsey felt real from the beginning, and I especially liked the mutual respect they had for each other. It was as though they had known each other their entire lives instead of just one evening together. David is portrayed as a victim of PTSD, and he is searching to find peace again. As a result of his service in Afghanistan, where he spent 12 long months, his anxiety level becomes so severe that he has problems functioning at a normal level. David’s mind is riddled with guilt and he is not in control of his life. 

Lindsey’s father, Denis Wood, had been an infantryman in the first Gulf War, so Lindsey had the utmost respect for men and women in uniform. Denis Wood was a decorated Operation Desert Storm veteran, but lived in a state of uncontrolled emotions since his return home. 

I highly recommend Gooseberry Island, a moving story from an author who never disappoints. My rating is 5 stars. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the Author and publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. 

Steven ManchesterAbout the Author: Steven Manchester is the author of the #1 bestsellers, Twelve Months and The Rockin' Chair. He is also the author of the award-winning novel, Goodnight, Brian, as well as the critically-acclaimed novel, Pressed Pennies, A Christmas Wish (Kindle exclusive), Wilbur Avenue (novella), Just in Time (novella), The Thursday Night Club (novella, released November 2014) and Gooseberry Island (novel, released January 2015). His work has appeared on NBC's Today Show, CBS's The Early Show, CNN's American Morning and BET's Nightly News. Three of Steven's short stories were selected "101 Best" for Chicken Soup for the Soul series. When not spending time with his beautiful wife, Paula, or their four children, this Massachusetts author is promoting his works or writing. Visit:

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

THE JOURNEY: Walking the Road to Bethlehem By Adam Hamilton

The Journey by Adam HamiltonPublisher:  Abingdon Press
Release Date:  September 2011
Pages:  137
Genre:  Religion

Book Description:  Journey with Adam Hamilton as he travels from Nazareth to Bethlehem in this fascinating look at the birth of Jesus Christ. As he did with Jesus' crucifixion in24 Hours That Changed the World, Hamilton once again approaches a world-changing event with thoughtfulness. Using historical information, archaeological data, and a personal look at some of the stories surrounding the birth, the most amazing moment in history will become more real and heart-felt as you walk along this road.
Read The Journey on your own or, for a more in-depth study, enjoy it with a small group. Also available:
The Journey: A Season of Reflections
The Journey: DVD with Leader Guide
The Journey: Youth Edition
The Journey: Children's Edition
“This book may be the greatest Christmas present of the year. Adam thoughtfully, movingly walks us through what really happened when God touched this planet. The richness of the full story will touch your life as well.”
John Ortberg, author of The Me I Want to Be: Becoming God’s Best Version of You 
“If you think you know the story of Jesus’ birth, think again!  This wonderful book sets us on a journey to the times and characters of Christmas so that we experience the birth of Christ in our lives in a new way.”
Joel C. Hunter, author of Church Distributed
“Adam is a pastor who has clearly walked in the footsteps of the Master.  This is a timely Christmas gift for a friend no matter where he or she is along ‘the journey.’”
Rich Nathan, coauthor of Empowered Evangelicals 
"Adam Hamilton is one of the finest pastors I know.  In addition, his books have long been favorites of mine.  The Journey: Walking the Road to Bethlehem will soon be a favorite or yours.  Complete with a 28 day devotional and videos filmed in the Holy Land this will add a new depth and joy to your Christmas season."
Bill Hybels
Senior pastor, Willow Creek Community Church
Chairman of Board, Willow Creek Association
Wanda's Thoughts:  I just completed a Bible study on this very informative book. The journey begins in Nazareth, where Mary learns that she was chosen to bring the Messiah into the world, and continues to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born. 

But Bethlehem was not the end of this story. The journey continues from Bethlehem and then on to Calvary. Our lives are full of difficult journeys, but Scripture tells us that God will walk with us on these journeys and bring good from them. And these difficult journeys will never be the end of our story, just as Calvary was not the end of Christ's story.

Beautifully written, this book will certainly enhance the Advent season. 5 stars
Adam Hamilton
About the Author:  Rev. Adam Hamilton is the founding pastor of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas. He grew up in the Kansas City area. He earned a B.A. degree in Pastoral Ministry from Oral Roberts University and a Master of Divinity Degree from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University.

The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection has grown from four people in 1990 to more than 16,000 adult members with an average weekly worship attendance of more than 8,600 in 2011. The church was listed as the most influential mainline church in America in a 2005 survey of American pastors.

Adam has been married 30 years to LaVon. They have two grown daughters.

Monday, November 17, 2014


Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis by Barbara LeamingPublisher:  Thomas Dunne Books
Release Date:  October 28, 2014
Pages:  368
Genre:  Biography/American History

Book Description:  The instant New York Times and USA Today bestseller!

The untold story of how one woman’s life was changed forever in a matter of seconds by a horrific trauma.
Barbara Leaming’s extraordinary and deeply sensitive biography is the first book to document Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ brutal, lonely and valiant thirty-one year struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that followed JFK’s assassination.

Here is the woman as she has never been seen before.  In heartrending detail, we witness a struggle that unfolded at times before our own eyes, but which we failed to understand.

Leaming’s biography also makes clear the pattern of Jackie’s life as a whole. We see how a spirited young woman’s rejection of a predictable life led her to John F. Kennedy and the White House, how she sought to reconcile the conflicts of her marriage and the role she was to play, and how the trauma of her husband’s murder which left her soaked in his blood and brains led her to seek a very different kind of life from the one she’d previously sought.

A life story that has been scrutinized countless times, seen here for the first time as the serious and important story that it is. A story for our times at a moment when we as a nation need more than ever to understand the impact of trauma.

Wanda's Thoughts:  All her life Jackie had been a very proud woman and believed she should have things exactly as she wanted them. Life promised to be perfect after marrying John F Kennedy as she settled in comfortably with the Kennedy family. But two weeks after the honeymoon, perfection was only a memory. Years later, when Jackie thought about her early-married life, she remembered the velocity above everything else. “Life with him was just so fast.” JFK never stopped moving forward, but was always going on to something higher. And his health issues always shadowed their life. His back problems were very serious and always present, but the president learned to live gracefully with his pain. And then there were his sexual habits. Jackie had been told about this issue before the marriage, but failed to comprehend how serious it really was. Because of this she suffered a great deal of humiliation. Jackie was confronted with the same question over and over during the course of their marriage. “What shall I do?” 

Jackie grappled with tragedy and unbearable events all through her life and suffered from PTSD. There is a sadness that filters throughout the book as the writer takes us through that horrific day in Dallas, with the assassination of the president, and also his brother’s assassination, RFK, in 1968. It continues on with many more events, including Jackie’s marriage to Aristotle Onassis, and finally ends with her battle with lymphoma and death in 1994.

I have always been fascinated with Jacqueline Kennedy and think of her as being the epitome of elegance and grace. She experienced many devastating losses, but somehow always persevered.

The author’s style of writing is in great detail – much of it I found interesting, but much that I could’ve done without. But she certainly did her homework – the book was well researched. However, I would have liked more information on the children, Caroline and John, but that part of Jackie’s life was just briefly touched on. I also thought the last number of years in her life were rushed through.

But, all in all, this was a very informative read and I highly recommend.  My rating is 4 stars.

Barbara LeamingAbout the Author:  Barbara Leaming is a NY Times bestselling author. Three of her books have been NY Times Notable Books of the Year. Her most recent book is "Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: The Untold Story". Leaming’s previous book, "Churchill Defiant: Fighting On 1945-1955", received The Emery Reves Award from the International Churchill Centre. Her groundbreaking biography of America's 35th President, " Jack Kennedy: The Education of a Statesman", was the first to detail the lifelong influence of British history and culture and especially of Winston Churchill on JFK. Leaming's articles have appeared in the NY Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, the Times of London and other magazines.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

DREAMERS AND DECEIVERS: True Stories of the Heroes and Villains Who Made America By Glenn Beck

Dreamers and Deceivers by Glenn BeckPublisher:  Threshold Editions
Release Date:  October 28, 2014
Pages:  320
Genre:  American History
Reviewed By WC

Book Description:  The new nonfiction from #1 bestselling author and popular radio and television host Glenn Beck.


Everyone has heard of a “Ponzi scheme,” but do you know what Charles Ponzi actually did to make his name synonymous with fraud? Credit for inventing radio usually goes to Marconi or David Sarnoff and RCA—but if you’ve never heard of Edwin Armstrong or Lee de Forest, you know only half the story.

You’ve probably been to a Disney theme park, but did you know that the park Walt believed would change the world was actually EPCOT? He died before his vision for it could ever be realized. History is about so much more than dates and dead guys; it’s the greatest story ever told. Now, in this powerful follow-up to his national bestseller Miracles and Massacres, Glenn Beck brings ten more true and untold stories to life.

The people who made America were not always what they seemed. There were entrepreneurs and visionaries whose selflessness propelled us forward, but there were also charlatans and fraudsters whose selfishness nearly derailed us. Dreamers and Deceivers brings both of these groups to life with stories written to put you right in the middle of the action. You know that Woodrow Wilson was a progressive who dramatically changed America, but did you know that he was also involved in one of the most shocking national deceptions of all time? You know I Love Lucy, but the true story of Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball is much better than anything they produced for television. You’ve heard of Upton Sinclair, the socialist author who gained famed with The Jungle, but it was a book he wrote two decades later that proved the depths he was willing to go to maintain his reputation.

From the spy Alger Hiss, to the visionary Steve Jobs, to the code-breaker Alan Turing—once you know the full stories behind the half-truths you’ve been force fed…once you meet the unsung heroes and obscured villains edited from our schoolbooks…once you begin to see these amazing people from our past as people rather than just names—your perspective on today’s important issues may forever change. Find out why this series has become America’s new go-to history book.
WC's Review:  Excellent, just excellent. Anyone who has a remote familiarity with this country's evolution has got to read Beck's fabulous truths about folks who had brilliant ideas for the advancement of society and those who wanted to control and manipulate the masses.

Desi and Lucy, Alan Turing the code breaker, the visionary Steve Jobs and computers, and the inimitable Walt Disney fit the first category. Everyone knows that Desi truly loved Lucy, but suffered from the insatiable lust that dominates the lives of creative geniuses. And now for the rest of that story...

Of far less character, if one can believe it, were terrorists Sacco and Vanzetti, the nefarious Charles Ponzi, communist ideologues Woodrow Wilson and FDR, of Richard Nixon and the despicable Alger HIss. Most folks don't remember who these anti-American heroes were. An understanding of the motives of these ne'er do wells is paramount to comprehending the utopian leanings of the present administration, under which our adolescent media continues to wallow in orgasmic frenzy.

Tom Brokaw should know better but doesn't. How can a man who writes about the greatest generation still breathe hatred for Nixon? Simple. Tricky Dick convincingly exposed the communist Trotskyism of the media savior Hiss. 

What to make of Upton Sinclair? Does anybody read "The Jungle" anymore? Whatever happened to his blockbuster, "Boston?"

Beck gets it, as he always does.
Glenn Beck
About the Author:  Glenn Edward Lee Beck is one of America's leading radio and television personalities. His quick wit, candid opinions and engaging personality have made The Glenn Beck Program the third highest rated radio program in America and Glenn Beck, one of the most successful new shows on the Fox News Channel. His unique blend of modern-day storytelling and insightful views on current events allowed him to achieve the extraordinary feat of having #1 New York Times bestsellers in both fiction and non-fiction. Beck also stars in a live stage show and is the publisher of Fusion magazine. 

Online, he is the editor of and the publisher of

Beck is the author of six consecutive #1 New York Times Bestsellers including his latest book, the thriller The Overton Window. When The Christmas Sweater, his first novel, debuted at #1 on the fiction list, Beck became one of a handful of authors to write books that reached #1 on both the fiction and non-fiction NYT lists.

Monday, November 10, 2014

EVERY VALLEY: Advent with the Scriptures of Handel's Messiah By Albert L Blackwell

Every Valley by Albert L. BlackwellPublisher:  Westminster John Knox Press
Release Date: September 26, 2014
Pages:  160
Genre:  Religion

About the Book:  Handel's "Messiah" is one of the most beloved musical works of the western world, playing an especially sentimental role in many people's Christmas traditions. The libretto of the work, taken directly from the King James text of fourteen books of the Bible, has turned many otherwise forgettable phrases into memorable, singable, cherished lines of Scripture.

This gift-worthy book will delight and inspire classical music fans and those for whom "Messiah" is a beloved Christmas tradition with essays exploring the theological, historical, and pastoral implications of the Scriptures that make up Handel's "Messiah."

Forty reflections journey in order through the oratorio, taking the reader deeper into less-often studied texts like Malachi 3:3 and bringing new light to oft-recited passages like Luke 2:9-14. Each reflection offers the libretto from "Messiah," the same passage in NRSV, and a brief commentary on the text, written by a respected scholar or pastor. Readers can peruse the book at leisure or examine one reflection per day throughout the Advent and Christmas seasons.
Wanda's Thoughts:  Handel’s Messiah is typically associated with the Christmas season, but it actually tells the story of Christ through many different phases – birth, life, death, atonement, resurrection, and glorification. 

There are 40 reflections included in this book, based on the Scriptures from the King James text, that comprise the libretto of Handel’s Messiah. The devotions can ideally be used from the start of Advent through the twelfth day of Christmas. I recommend listening to a recording of Handel’s Messiah, a masterpiece which is truly awe-inspiring, to enhance the readings of these devotions. 

I’ve been perusing Every Valley for the last few weeks, but plan to read it, in depth, during the Advent season. It is certainly a rich source of Bible study during the Advent season or throughout the year. I highly recommend this devotional and my rating is 5 stars.
From the book – After the first presentation of Messiah in London in 1743, Handel wrote to a friend, “I should be sorry if I only entertained them. I wish to make them better.” 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

THE THURSDAY NIGHT CLUB: A Tale of Christmas Spirit By Steven Manchester

Product DetailsPublisher:  The Story Plant
Expected Release Date:  November 18, 2014
Pages:  152

About the Book:  Five college friends, three men and two women, have been getting together every Thursday night to share humble meals and an abundance of laughter. But when tragedy takes one of them, leaving the others to question the fairness of life, the Thursday Night Club decides to embark on a contest in the memory of the generous spirit of their fallen brother. The objective of the contest is simple: whoever performs the kindest deed by Christmas night wins the pot – four quarters. And there are only two conditions: the benevolent deed must be anonymous, and it cannot cost a single penny to pull off.

As the four friends undertake the contest, the healing begins and they become inspired beyond their expectations. There might be a winner in this competition, but it is very clear there will be no losers.

A story of Christmas spirit that will strike a chord in your heart any time of year, The Thursday Night Club will make you look at the holiday season in new ways.

Wanda's Thoughts:  Five college friends, who have formed a lot of history together, are settling in, after their final college moves.  They gather each week for their “Thursday Night Club” and are ready to begin their last year of school when the unthinkable happens – one of them dies tragically.  And the story unfolds ---

A contest is planned, to honor the memory of their friend, and whoever does the greatest or kindest deed wins.  They soon discover that when they are helping other people there is no time to dwell on their own troubles, and their worries just melt away.  The friends find that having a life that is filled with compassion and caring help them to deal with their loss.

Taken from the book –
“Giving more than you take --- now that’s how you build a life worth living.”
“A test of endurance.  Nope, life is just a never-ending series of choices.”

Steven Manchester has crafted a beautiful novella, writing in a comfortable and well-crafted style.  I’m never disappointed in the author’s books and always look forward to the next one.  The Thursday Night Club has themes of friendship, loss, and sadness.  It is a feel good read with an uplifting conclusion.  My rating is 4+ stars.
 I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author:  Steven Manchester is the author of the #1 bestsellers, Twelve Months and The Rockin' Chair. He is also the author of the award-winning novel, Goodnight, Brian, as well as the critically-acclaimed novel, Pressed Pennies, A Christmas Wish (Kindle exclusive), Wilbur Avenue (novella), Just in Time (novella), The Thursday Night Club (novella, released November 2014) and Gooseberry Island (novel, released January 2015). His work has appeared on NBC's Today Show, CBS's The Early Show, CNN's American Morning and BET's Nightly News. Three of Steven's short stories were selected "101 Best" for Chicken Soup for the Soul series. When not spending time with his beautiful wife, Paula, or their four children, this Massachusetts author is promoting his works or writing. Visit:
Image of Steven Manchester

Thursday, November 6, 2014

THE AFTER HOUSE By Michael Phillip Ash

The After House by Michael Phillip CashPublisher:  Chelshire Publishing
Release Date:  September 30, 2014
Pages:  194
Genre: Paranormal, YA

Book Description:  Remy Galway and her daughter Olivia are rebuilding their life after a failed marriage in a 300 year old cottage in historic Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island. Little do they know, another occupant is lurking in the haven of their own home. Will the After House be their shelter or their tomb?

Wanda's Thoughts: I had problems becoming invested in this book – I was never excited about picking it up to read on. But, I did find the adventures of the whale hunting to be quite interesting. The author did a superb job portraying that part of the storyline, which was totally new to me. 

Remy and her daughter, Olivia, are about to embark on a new life. Remy is trying to recover from a bad marriage and she and Olivia move into an old cottage in Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island. But, Captain Eli, a lost spirit, already occupies the house. And the story unfolds as Captain Eli is revealed and other characters are introduced. 

I liked the paranormal aspect of the book, but I never found it to be haunting or suspenseful – just an easy relaxed read, with subtle humor interjected. This book would certainly be appropriate for a YA. I found the After House to be just lukewarm. My rating is 3 stars. 
I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Michael Phillip CashAbout the Author:  Born and raised on Long Island, Michael has always had a fascination with horror writing and found footage films. He wanted to incorporate both with his debut novel, Brood X. Earning a degree in English and an MBA, he has worked various jobs before settling into being a full-time author. He currently resides on Long Island with his wife and children.