These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer

I read this one second because I had never read it before and because it is the sequel to The Black Moth. Of course all the character names have been changed, but voila! They are the same characters.

This is what I mean about Heyer's character development. We can see that Devil Andover is the same person as Satanas the Duke of Avon. Andover sails away to Paris at the end of the Black Moth, and the Duke of Avon is residing in gay Paris in the opening of These Old Shades. It doesn't take long to settle into the story.

The reader says, "Good riddance" with hardly a hope for The Devil, but then as the reader is drawn into the plot of of These Old Shades the Duke of Avon thinks himself beyond hope. But for the ever optimistic reader, a soft spot grows and blossoms into hope for the soul of Satanas in the small form of Leon. (This is not a spoiler) When we find out that Leon is really Leonie a woman who steals the Duke's heart, we start cheering for our unlikely hero and hissing the most vile character Henri Saint Vire.

This novel receives a five of five stars.

Also available in ebook form.

The Black Moth by Georgette Heyer

I have embarked on a journey to reread all the Georgette Heyer books. This will be the third journey. I became a fan when I was just thirteen years old spending my whole allowance on books that I'd devour before I'd get my next allowance.

The Black Moth was written to entertain Georgette's brother who was ill, and it was the first novel she wrote. At nineteen, Heyer was a master story-teller with character development so delicate you need hardly read the character's name, you just knew who was speaking.

The dry humor is superb, but not as well developed as in her later writings. An excellent read and study in 18th century society, dress, and speech. She intertwines high drama within polite society, adding in some excellent humor in all the right places for a fascinating read.

I rate this five of five stars!

It is available in ebook format, and I enjoyed reading it on my Kindle.


Upside by Bradley R.E. Wright, PhD


I believe Dr. Wright is one of the most ingenious professors because he takes all the surveys, polls, questionnaires, and other information gathering results to expose the true facts rather than the agenda-driven half-truths reported out there in media land. 

One extraordinary fact that shines clearly is that we humans tend to dramatize and negativize (made up word) our environment. Pick up a newspaper and see what I mean. Wright has sprinkled through his book "Christians Making A Difference". Quite unusual little tidbits of what Christians are doing to reach out to other to literally make a difference in lives and in our world. 

This is non-fiction, and I would that every journalist had it on his/her shelf to give perspective before repeating a half-truth or even an outright lie because some analyzer did not understand the poll or questionnaire results. You don't have to read it straight through, but use it as a reference book. You'll be glad you did. 
I rate this 5 out 5 stars for non-fiction.


What If the doomsayers have it all wrong?
It's easy to get discouraged or feel paralyzed by what you hear about the terrible state of the world. But what if the media and other prophets of doom have misled us? Could the world actually be getting better?
The answers... and the facts behind them... may surprise you:
  • Extreme poverty has been cut in half since the 1980's, in developing countries
  • Life expectancy has doubled around the world over the last 100 years
  • Literacy rates have soared from 25% to over 80% over the same period
Sociologist Brad Wright uses the best available data to uncover the truth about the world's most important issues, including poverty, sickness, education, morality, and the environment. While admitting there is still work to be done, he shines a light on why so many things are improving and why no one is talking about it.

Surviving Your Serengeti by Stefan Swanepoel

I survived the jungle of Corporate America, it isn't too much different than the Serengeti, however I do believe it is much harsher. I believe a study of Nehemiah would do much more for teaching leadership, and a study of Judges would do wonderful things for teaching principles, just as Joshua would teach warfare. I didn't get as much from this book as I'd hoped to get. Perhaps I wasn't in the mood for it, or my heart wasn't prepared for it. Mayhap the lessons taught were ones that I have already learned. It is high quality presentation, and the contents easily digested so I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

As a brutal business environment meets a soft economy, business leaders and managers are looking for sources of both inspiration and survival. This compelling new business fable offers a riveting tale of life in Africa’s Serengeti and what lessons it holds for today’s beleaguered business people and struggling society.
The wisdom of Surviving Your Serengeti reveals that no journey is ever too long, too far or too difficult. It reassures us that nothing is impossible, that we can overcome any obstacle and survive our own serengeti. The 1.5 million wildebeest rely on stubborn endurance and support from the herd to survive; the alligator is opportunistic; the cheetah ruthlessly effective; the giraffe embodies grace, the lion a master strategist, the mongoose is a risk-taker, the elephant is an excellent communicator.
So which animal are you?
What's your survival strategy?

Stefan Swanepoel's life has been a “Serengeti journey”—from his birth in Kenya to schooling in Hong Kong and South Africa eventually, running a New York-based global franchise network with 25,000 sales associates in 30 countries. In all he has served as president of seven companies and two non-profit organizations.
Now for the first time.... read more


Pattern of Wounds by Mark Bertrand

The best advice I can give is don't read the last page. It will infuriate you.

This story is the second in the Roland March series. March is a detective in the Houston PD, and rather reviled by his co-workers, and his bosses. But, much loved by his wife. I find it difficult to swallow that he is still struggling to overcome something bad in his past, when he's so good at solving murders that have stumped everyone else.

The story flow is much like The Closer, if you like that TV Show, you'll like the Roland March stories. While I truly detest present tense prose, Bertrand does an excellent job of doing that kind of prose so that you don't feel breathless or short of breath while reading. It flows well.

Bertrand's brand of storytelling is in the same vein as James Scott Bell's mysteries. The protagonist is not a believer, but is drawn ever closer to God as he faces how cruel and crummy the world can be. It is an interesting perspective, and quiet an unusual way to reach the lost through fiction.

You'll be drawn into the story from the first page. As the mystery unfolds, you learn more about March from what he does't say rather than what he does. March is as big a mystery as those that he solves for a living. I'll keep reading these stories because in spite of myself, I've learned to love ole Roland March and I want at least one good thing to happen to him.

This is 4 out of 5 stars (except for the last page).

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Pattern of Wounds
Bethany House (July 1, 2011)
J. Mark Bertrand


J. Mark Bertrand lived in Houston, where the series is set, for fifteen years, earning an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Houston. But after one hurricane too many he relocated with his wife Laurie to the plains of South Dakota. Mark has been arrested for a crime he didn't commit, was the foreman of one hung jury and served on another that acquitted Vinnie Jones of assault. In 1972, he won an honorable mention in a child modeling contest, but pursued writing instead.


It's Christmas in Houston, and homicide detective Roland March is on the hunt for a killer. A young woman's brutal stabbing in an affluent neighborhood bears all the hallmarks of a serial murder. The only problem is that March sent the murderer to prison ten years ago. Is it a copycat -- or did March convict the wrong man?

Alienated from his colleagues and with a growing rift in his marriage, March receives messages from the killer. The bodies pile up, the pressure builds, and the violence reaches too close to home. Up against an unfathomable evil, March struggles against the clock to understand the hidden message in the pattern of wounds.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Pattern of Wounds, go HERE.


The Art of Insincerity by Angela Hunt


My apologies to Angela Hunt. I was to review this book last month and failed to do so. I am so very sorry!

This is such an interesting weaving of each sister's thoughts and how they react to the passing of their grandmother. They are certainly Southern Belles, and I relate to them on that level immediately. However, they have nine marriages among them. That is a slew of marriages to be sure.

I so much enjoyed how Angela developed each sister's personality and how they interact, how they scrape against each other, and how they are typical women trying to live their lives to the best within the circumstances they find themselves.

I do not like switching from one character to another in an abrupt manner, or being jerked from one interesting sister only to be plunked down in the middle of another sister's catastrophe. However, Angela Hunt does this in a most intriguing way you hardly notice the shift, and at least you have big letters announcing a new chapter and a different sister. That always keeps the story train from jolting to a halt.

Good story, great beach read. Spend some summer time with these sisters. I'm sure you'll recognize one of them as someone in your own family.

4 out of 5 stars

Three grown Southern sisters have ten marriages between them—and more loom on the horizon—when Ginger, the eldest, wonders if she’s the only one who hasn't inherited what their family calls “the Grandma Gene”: the tendency to like the casualness of courtship better than the intimacy of marriage. Could it be that her two sisters are fated to serially marry, just like their seven-times wed grandmother, Mrs. Lillian Irene Harper Winslow Goldstein Carey James Bobrinski Gordon George? It takes a “girls only” weekend, closing up Grandma’s treasured beach house for the last time, for the sisters to really unpack their family baggage, examine their relationship DNA, and discover the true legacy their much-marrying grandmother left behind . . .

Lion of Babylon by Davis Bunn


I am never disappointed with anything T. Davis Bunn produces. He is a master at draping suspense around his characters who are developed to a poignant degree. You care what happens to them, even the hardened criminals and the sleazy cafe' proprietors.

Bunn has jumped on the Middle East wagon with this tale of missing persons and manufactured evidence. I just love Semeh who precariously walks a thin line as a Christian Iraqi. The intricate thread of faith is woven with delicate hand in this story, but it is stronger than in most other stories I've read by Bunn. I love how faith and reality collide in the Middle East, how danger lurks, ever poised to strike like a cobra and just as deadly.

You will be pleased with this book. It is well worth the money and a definite keeper. But do hold on to your hat, and do have a tall iced tea at your elbow because the sand and heat will suck you dry.

5 of 5 stars!

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Lion of Babylon
Bethany House (July 1, 2011)
Davis Bunn


Born and raised in North Carolina, Davis left for Europe at age twenty. There he first completed graduate studies in economics and finance, then began a business career that took him to over forty countries in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Davis came to faith at age 28, while living in Germany and running an international business advisory group. He started writing two weeks later. Since that moment, writing has remained both a passion and a calling.

Davis wrote for nine years and completed seven books before his first was accepted for publication. During that time, he continued to work full-time in his business career, travelling to two and sometimes three countries every week. His first published book, The Presence, was released in 1990 and became a national bestseller.

Honored with three Christy Awards for excellence in historical and suspense fiction, his bestsellers include The Great Divide, Winner Take All, The Meeting Place, The Warning, The Book of Hours, and The Quilt.

A sought-after speaker in the art of writing, Davis serves as Writer In Residence at Regent’s Park College, Oxford University.


Marc Royce works for the State Department on special assignments, most of them rather routine, until two CIA operatives go missing in Iraq--kidnapped by Taliban forces bent on generating chaos in the region. Two others also drop out of sight--a high-placed Iraqi civilian and an American woman providing humanitarian aid. Are the disappearances linked? Rumors circulate in a whirl of misinformation.

Marc must unravel the truth in a covert operation requiring utmost secrecy--from both the Americans and the insurgents. But even more secret than the undercover operation is the underground dialogue taking place between sworn enemies. Will the ultimate Reconciler between ancient enemies, current foes, and fanatical religious factions be heard?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Lion of Babylon, go HERE.
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