Amish fiction, Christian fiction, cover design, Uncategorized

Book & Cover Review of "Still Life in Shadows" by Alice J. Wisler

Cover for book Still Life in Shadows

Book Review

Still life in Shadows is definitely a unique perspective on the Amish life. Among the many genres of Christian fiction that I read is Amish fiction. In most Amish fiction novels, their lifestyle is depicted as unyielding on the one extreme, but overall as an enjoyable simpler lifestyle. It is generalized frequently that the popularity of Amish fiction is due to readers using it as a form of escapism. Still Life in Shadows, however, shines a light on the fact that, just like every other lifestyle or religious choice available – there are people for whom an Amish lifestyle fits, and people for whom it does not. The main character, Gideon, has chosen to escape that lifestyle, and to help others escape from it. Additionally, the novel points out that anger and abuse can surface in even the most peaceful of societies – which is why Gideon made his choice to leave. The author also chose to cover the subtopics of autism and hoarding within the confines of this novel. All of these topics are handled with care and respect.

Unlike most Amish fiction novels I feel this one would appeal to both men and women. It isn’t an action novel, and there is a love story there, but it is handled in the male point of view and in a realistic manner (in other words, full of natural road blocks and confusion).

Book Cover Review

Even before I read the marketing copy I was intrigued by this cover. It is obvious by the choice of clothing on the main model that he is not Amish (or at least not anymore). And due to the grunge textures and choice to use black and white as the primary color scheme it has a rather dark and mysterious quality to the design. I also like the choice to use the bright red circle around the word ‘in’. As a potential reader it forced me to see that there were many potential directions to take the meaning of the title. (Or maybe that’s just me? LOL)

The one piece of the cover design I am not fond of is the checkerboard pattern above the black bar at the bottom of the cover. I think using a dusty/grungy speckled fade of some sort would have been more in keeping with the tone of both the rest of the cover design as well as with the book’s tone.

* This book was provided by the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance for review.


This week, theChristian Fiction Blog Allianceis introducingStill Life in ShadowsRiver North; New Edition edition (August 1, 2012)byAlice Wisler





Alice was born in Osaka, Japan in the sixties.  Her parents were Presbyterian career missionaries. As a young child, Alice loved to walk down to the local stationer’s store to buy notebooks, pencils and scented erasers.  In her room, she created stories.  The desire to be a published famous author has never left her.  Well, two out of three isn’t bad. She’s the author of Rain Song, How Sweet It Is, Hatteras Girl and A Wedding Invitation (all published by Bethany House).


Alice went to Eastern Mennonite University after graduating from Canadian Academy, an international high school in Kobe, Japan. She majored in social work and has worked across the U.S. in that field.  She taught ESL (English as a Second Language) in Japan and at a refugee camp in the Philippines.  She also studied Spanish at a language institute in San Jose, Costa Rica.


She has four children–Rachel, Daniel, Benjamin and Elizabeth.  Daniel died on 2/2/97 from cancer treatments at the age of four. Since then, Alice founded Daniel’s House Publications in her son’s memory.  This organization reaches out to others who have also lost a child to death. In 2000 and 2003, Alice compiled recipes and memories of children across the world to publish two memorial cookbooks, Slices of Sunlight and Down the Cereal Aisle.




It’s been fifteen years since Gideon Miller ran away from his Amish community in Carlisle, Pennsylvania as a boy of fifteen.  Gideon arrives in the Smoky Mountains town of Twin Branches and settles in at the local auto mechanic’s garage. He meets a host of interesting characters -the most recent acquaintances are Kiki, an autistic teen, and her sister Mari. Known as the “Getaway Savior” he helps other Amish boys and girls relocate to life in modern America.


One day the phone rings. On the other end is his brother Moriah calling from Florida. Of course Gideon welcomes his brother to stay with him and offers him a job. But Moriah is caught in a web which ends in his death and forces Gideon to return to the town of his youth, with his brother’s body in the back of a hearse and Mari and Kiki at his side. He must face not only the community he ran away from years ago but also his own web of bitterness. Will he be able to give his anger over to God and forgive his father?


If you would like to read the first chapter excerpt of Still Life in Shadows, go HERE.


Christian fiction, Christian historical, Christian romance, cover design, Historical, historical christian fiction, Historical Fiction, historical romance, inspirational fiction, Uncategorized, WWII historical novel

Book and Cover Review of "With Every Letter" by Sarah Sundin


Book Review

In book one of her new Wings of the Nightingale series, Sarah Sundin has delivered yet another WWII era classic piece of fiction. An unlikely friendship develops between a seemingly friendless flight nurse and an equally friendless Lt. in an Engineer core.  The anonymity of their relationship via mailed letters appeals to them both in the beginning.  Sundin has done her research, weaving her knowledge of WWII history, medicine and the human spirit into a beautiful story celebrating life, friendship and the beauty of a romance that defies the odds.

This book gave you an inside look at what it was like to be among the first trained flight nurses during WWII. Just like in the work places back home, they were not always welcomed into routines previously fulfilled only by men. It additionally covers the fears involved with taking on leadership roles in a time of war – even by talented and capable men.

This book will likely appeal more to women than men, but anyone who is a WWII history nut will find it to be an entertaining read.

Cover Review

I have noticed an emerging trend of dividing the book cover into two sections, either with the title area or a hard edge. I’m personally hoping it’s a passing craze. It bothers me a little that the heroine seems to be floating in the sky looking down on the serene scene of the bridge below the title area. The model is beautiful, though slightly less of mixed international heritage than I pictured when reading the story, but her dress medical nurses uniform would attract historical readers to the novel when spotted on the shelf.

The red area around the title does draw attention, but clearly separates the two areas and does not tie into any other element on the cover. In my opinion, this new style of cover lacks unity/harmony compared to previous cover trends. The clouds in both photos on the front cover, and on the back cover is the only harmonious element uniting it as a whole. However, I do feel the cover will carry out its goal. It will appeal to historical romance readers – particularly women who are fans of reading stories of the WWII era.

*Available September 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. The additional information below was provided by the publisher.


With Every Letter

By Sarah Sundin

Combining excellent research and attention to detail with a flair for romance, Sarah Sundin brings to life the perilous challenges of WWII aviation, nursing, and true love.  In the first of the Wings of the Nightingale series, Sundin introduces us to some of those who courageously served in this dangerous time.

Lt. Mellie Blake is a nurse serving in the 802nd Medical Squadron, Air Evacuation, Transport. As part of a morale building program, she reluctantly enters into an anonymous correspondence with Lt. Tom MacGilliver, an officer in the 908th Engineer Aviation Battalion in North Africa. As their letters crisscross the Atlantic, Tom and Mellie develop a unique friendship despite not knowing the other’s true identity. When both are transferred to Algeria, the two are poised to meet face to face for the first time. Will they overcome their fears and reveal who they are, or will their future be held hostage to their past? And can they learn to trust God and embrace the gift of love he offers them?

Sarah Sundin is the author of A Distant MelodyA Memory Between Us, and Blue Skies Tomorrow. In 2011, A Memory Between Us was a finalist in the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Awards and Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, she works on-call as a hospital pharmacist. During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist’s mate (medic) in the Navy and her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force in England. Sarah lives in California with her husband and three children.

Praise for Sarah Sundin and With Every Letter:

“I love the nostalgia and drama of the WWII era. No one takes me back there better than Sarah Sundin. With Every Letter is a beautiful love story and has everything you want in a novel: romance, suspense, and characters you care about from the very first page. A marvelous beginning for her new series. I can’t wait to read the next book.”—Dan Walsh, award-winning and bestselling author of The Unfinished GiftRemembering Christmas, and The Discovery

Praise for Blue Skies Tomorrow:

“A great read for those who love romance, WWII-era settings, or just satisfying stories.”—RT Book Reviews on Blue Skies Tomorrow

“A captivating story that offers an unflinching look at the ‘good old days’ that weren’t always so good—and assurance that even when times are hard, God is faithful.”—Crosswalk on Blue Skies Tomorrow




Book & Cover Review of "Choose Joy: Because Happiness Isn't Enough" by Kay Warren

Book Review
I was unfamiliar with Kay Warren and her ministry, but I had previously participated in a small group that read through her husband Rick Warren’s well-known book “Purpose Driven Life”. I believe this book “Choose Joy: Because Happiness Isn’t Enough” would also be best suited for a small group discussion environment. When I attempted to read it straight through in order to review it, I realized that this book would be much more effective if I had others to discuss the end of chapter questions with. Without that environment, some of the information seemed a little repetitive – but if it were broken up into separate readings over an extended period of time it would be more of a review, where one idea built upon another to complete the whole.

Kay is very up-front about her own struggles to be joyful even during life’s difficult periods. She doesn’t pretend that it isn’t hard – that we can just mark ‘yes, I want joy’ and it will be ours and we will never face further difficulty in our lives. That would be mistaking happiness for joy … Hardships will always come along, it’s our choice how to receive them.

I would recommend this book for a women’s small group – especially aiming to include Christians facing hard times, whether that be health issues, grief, financial struggles, a marriage in crisis, or any other life situation that can steal our happiness, but can be opportunities for growth and joy if we learn  to see it.

Book Cover Review
My first reaction to this cover, was that it reflected the possibility that the grass could not only be greener on the other side of the road, but actually golden! But after reading the book it has a far deeper meaning. Kay states in her book “. . . life is like a set of train tracks. The track of joy and the track of sorrow run side by side, inseparably throughout our lives.”

After reading that I wondered if the grass on the right was a little too green? If they could have put a more desolate looking desert on that side it might have made the point faster? But perhaps that is the point. Why settle for just green grass? We can have the golden fruits of heaven if we keep our eyes on the prize, instead of pining for the things that make us happy only on earth!

The use of gold embossing in the title is appropriate for a book that pursues heavenly joy. One small recommendation I would suggest would have been to put in small text under her name, something about her connection to Rick Warren, the author of the Purpose Driven Life. I wasn’t going to review this book until the publisher mentioned that connection. And due to the great experience I had in my small group discussing his book – I then felt compelled to see what his wife’s would be like. It was not because of the cover, or the author’s name that I was interested in reviewing the book.

This book was provided by the publisher for review. Available April 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Publisher’s Description

Ever wonder why some people seem to experience joy in their daily lives–even in the tough times–and others can’t seem to find it no matter how hard they search? Is a joy-filled life really possible? The answer is yes! And it’s possible for every woman, no matter what her circumstances may be. In this inspiring book, Kay Warren teaches women what joy really is, where to find it, and how to choose it in the good times and the bad. With compassion and wisdom, she shows readers–even those who live with the constant companions of discouragement and depression–that true joy is deeper, richer, and more accessible than they might think. Perfect for small groups or individual reading, Choose Joy will empower women who feel like their emotions and well-being are at the mercy of others by helping them understand the life-giving truth that joy is within their grasp–every day.

Author Bio

Kay Warren, cofounder of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, is also the founder of the HIV & AIDS Initiative at Saddleback Church. She is a Bible teacher, author, and international speaker. Warren frequently travels the globe to encourage HIV-positive men, women, and vulnerable children, and today she is a powerful voice on their behalf. In 2007, Kay authoredDangerous Surrender, and the revised and expanded softcover edition, retitled Say Yes to God, was released in 2010. She also coauthored Foundations, a systematic theology course used in churches around the world. She has three children and five grandchildren and lives with her husband Rick in Southern California. Learn more at, and follow her on Facebook (Kay Warren) and on Twitter (KayWarren1).

Author Bio

Kay Warren is a Bible teacher, an author, an international speaker, and the founder of the HIV & AIDS Initiative at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. Kay and her husband, Rick, founded Saddleback Church in 1980. She is the author of Say Ye
s to God
 and coauthor of Foundations, a systematic theology course used in churches around the world. She has three children and five grandchildren, and lives in Southern California. Find out more by visiting

Publisher Summary

Ever wonder why some people seem to experience joy in their daily lives – even in the tough times – and others can’t seem to find it no matter how hard they search? Is a joy-filled life really possible?
The answer is yes! And it’s possible for every woman, no matter what her circumstances may be. In this inspiring book, Kay Warren teaches women what joy really is, where to find it, and how to choose it in good times and the bad. With compassion and wisdom, she shows readers – even those who live with the constant companions of discouragement and depression – that true joy is deeper, richer, and more accessible than they might think. Perfect for small groups or individual reading, Choose Joywill empower women who feel like their emotions and well-being are at the mercy of others by helping them understand the life-giving truth that joy is within their grasp -every day.


Choose Joy has changed my life. I have learned to live in joy no matter the season or circumstances.”
–Laura Sullivan
Choose Joy reminds me that my past is a cancelled check and God has given me a promissory note for my future. I choose to believe this promise from God which gives me joy unspeakable.”
–Tanya Hutchison
“Every minute of Choose Joy touched my heart with new light and perception of how joyful my life could be, can be, will be.”
–Airma LeGere
“God just showered me with blessings in friendships, my marriage, and as a mom as I choose joy. This gave me a refreshed perspective.”
–Sarah Donahou
Choose Joy was life-changing. To know that joy and sorrow go side by side and it’s our choice as to what side we will stand on empowers me to intentionally stand on the joy side.”
–Maria Hickman
Choose Joy saved my marriage.”
–Samantha Stewart


Book & Cover Review of 'The Discovery' by Dan Walsh

Book Review

I purchased and read a Christmas book written by Dan Walsh this past year and loved it. I loved it so much, that when the opportunity came up to review his latest book ‘The Discovery’ I could NOT pass it up. The new book did not disappoint! In this book, the protagonist (Michael Warner) is an aspiring novelist who has inherited the grand estate of his beloved grandfather – a grandfather who was also a writer, and whose work sold in the millions – but no one ever knew anything about his personal life; not even his family. When Michael finds an unpublished manuscript in his grandfather’s house, he is tempted to succumb to the pressures of his late grandfather’s agent and get it published … but that’s before he decides to read it. What he reads will change his life forever.

Full of suspense and intrigue, this book is also about sacrifice and the limits of what you will do for those you love. Dan Walsh has successfully taken a little known factoid from the WWII era and woven it into a beautiful love story; with a main character everyone can relate to. I believe men and women alike will equally enjoy this story. It is extremely well done.

Book Cover Review

Thought the cover is beautiful … I don’t believe it tells the reader anything about the story within? A gorgeous photo of a swampy southern area, it hints at being a photo of the painting described in the early pages of the book, but not quite. You have too look extremely closely to notice the crackled edges at the lower part of the photograph – and it would be completely overlooked by most potential readers. I did not see the cover when I chose the book. The back cover description and the author’s name were what secured my decision to read and review it. I realize that they don’t want to give any secrets away, but I’m not sure this cover will attract the wide array of readers this book would appeal to. A suspenseful photo of the estate, or possibly one of an aged manuscript in a dusty box would be more mysterious … perhaps with a photo in the background showing his grandparents from around WWII to give it a place in time? A harder cover to create, but one that would show intrigue, mystery and a love element to draw in the right readership … where this cover really does nothing but ground it in the south and makes it seem entirely contemporary.

Though a beautiful cover, I feel this one will not be as successful as it could have been if it matched the story better within.

*“Available April 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

Press Release from the publisher

The Discovery
By Dan Walsh
Laced with suspense and intrigue, The Discovery is a richly woven novel that explores the incredible sacrifices that must be made to forge the love of a lifetime. Author Dan Walsh delivers yet another unique and heartfelt story that will stick with readers long after they turn the last page.
The Discovery tells the story of Michael Warner, whose grandfather, literary giant Gerard Warner, leaves him his Charleston estate. An aspiring writer himself, Michael settles in to write his own first novel and discovers an unpublished manuscript his grandfather had written, something he’d kept hidden from everyone but clearly intended Michael to find. Michael begins to read an exciting tale about Nazi spies and sabotage, but something about this story is different from all of Gerard Warner’s other books. It’s actually a love story.
As Michael delves deeper into the story he discovers something that has the power to change not only his future but his past as well.
Dan Walsh is the award-winning author of The Unfinished Gift, The Homecoming, The Deepest Waters and Remembering Christmas. He lives with his family in the Daytona Beach area, where he’s busy researching and writing his next novel. Visit www.danwalshbooks.comfor more information.
Endorsements for Dan Walsh
“The Discovery is a masterful bit of storytelling. It is, above all else, a love story for the ages, one of sacrifice and devotion that will leave readers with a renewed passion for their loved ones.”
New York Journal of Books
“Walsh demonstrates that, like Nicholas Sparks, men are capable of writing romantic fiction.”
          RT Book Reviews
Thrilling, romantic and intriguing. In The Discovery, Dan Walsh takes a fascinating sidebar of World War II history and crafts a suspenseful, beautifully written, and deeply satisfying story. This is his best novel yet!”
          Sarah Sundin, award-winning author of the Wings of Glory series
“You don’t often find a novel that appeals to men and women alike–but Walsh delivers one here! Taking you on a scavenger hunt leading to mystery, romance and intrigue, this book-within-a-book will tug at your heart and keep you in suspense. You’ll get so caught up in the WW2 thriller you’ll forget it’s also a contemporary story. A feel-good read that commemorates the courage, integrity and sacrifice of the ‘greatest generation.”


Do Book Covers Matter in the Digital Age?

Author Jody Hedlund and her publisher, Bethany House, recently posted about the new complications they faced when choosing a cover design for her latest book in the still-blooming digital age – and whether or not cover design still matters to the digital reader. It’s well worth the read!

Do you agree?