Saturday, January 2, 2010

Bookpile: December 2009

The Assassin's Touch - Yes, I should have been reading something set in ancient Rome since we were heading to Italy, but instead, I was back in 1695 Japan with Sano Ichiro. After the country almost came to civil war in the last book, Sano finds himself promoted to the number two position of chamberlain, theoretically only second in power to the shogun. Theoretically. He still walks a delicate political balance with his livelihood, life, family and honor always at risk. The murders this time involve a rumored practice of being able to kill with just a touch. No evidence, no leads and no hope - as usual - for Sano in solving this one. Great story as always, loved how Sano's wife Reiko is playing a more and more crucial role in solving the crimes.

Hunter's Run - Picked this up at the library just because it had George R.R. Martin's name on the cover. (Dang. That works. Boo.) Not sure I would classify this as entertaining science fiction, more the thought provoking kind. As in thoughts about what makes you you and the nature of humanity. Set on a "frontier" planet, the main character a prospector, wild West kind of mentality. He's on the run after committing a murder and discovers something bigger than precious metals out past the previously explored areas. And that's all I'm going to tell you. Worth a read.

The Jesus I Never Knew - Another from one of my favorite authors, Philip Yancey. And timely as we were working our way through gallery after gallery of Renaissance art in Italy and celebrating Christmas. Thought-provoking as always, Yancey takes a look at Jesus through the eyes of a journalist - walking us through the Gospels to see the real Jesus, not the serene blonde often depicted in artwork. He reminds us of Jesus' humanity, marvels at his restraint and points out the overlooked but obvious. The book walks you from start (the annunciation and birth) to the end (resurrection and early church) and provides much to think about. Much.

NOTE: the next three books were sent to me as a gift from a friend at Thomas Nelson. Just because she's my friend, markets Christian fiction and we got into a conversation about it. Since I do a review of everything I write, they're being reviewed. But they weren't sent with that as an expectation. Just to be clear. :-) Future months will include reviews of other books she sent.

Saving Cicadas - Sigh. Let me just say, this was a nicely written book. Loved the characters, interesting premise. But for some reason, fiction books that address abortion as a topic just turn me off. Pondering why that is. When I separate that out, it's really a great book, but the whole abortion thing makes me hesitate to recommend it to people I don't know. Why, when I'll recommend books about legalizing pot to anyone? Left me uncomfortable in more ways than one. Sigh.

Who Do I Talk To? - This book is the second in a series (House of Hope) that extends off the Yada Yada Prayer Group series by Neta Jackson. The House of Hope is a homeless women's shelter in Chicago where Gabrielle Fairbanks has suddenly found herself a resident. Oh, but she's also an employee of the shelter. Seems she came home one evening to find her stuff packed and on the doorstep and her husband absconded with their children. So she and her mother find themselves living at the shelter while Gabby tries to figure out what has happened to her life. The book wraps up with a semi-happy ending, although definitely not feeling like the story is complete in any way. I need to go back to read the first one and will be interested to read the next. All around good entertainment, particularly if you're a fan of chick-flick books. Raised some challenges for me about the easily forgotten needy in our country and am pondering what my role should be in helping.

Never Let You Go - First solo novel from Erin Healy and wow. We're mixing up the supernatural and real worlds and watching the battle between good and evil. Raises questions of free will, the role of evil in the world and just how involved God actually gets in what happens here on earth. Easy to dismiss if you don't believe in an active devil or the spiritual supernatural, although you could just approach it as fantasy and try to ignore that aspect. It's not overly religious in pushing the demon and angel thing. But definitely an example of how far Christian fiction has come in actually being excellent on the fiction front. (I remember the days when anything got published if you could stick Christian on it. Ugh.) Looking forward to reading more by Erin.

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