Fiction, YA fiction

Review of “The Bone Thief” by Alyson Noel

The Bone ThiefFC

Book Review

“The Bone Thief” is a young adult, general market fiction novel. It is set in a fantastical world, where the only thing normal is that everything is always weird – well, everything except for the novel’s main character, Grimsley Summerfield, who is a seemingly average boy for having lived in such an unusual atmosphere all of his life.

The book deals with typical tween/teen issues of insecurity and the desire to fit in, as well as stronger topics such as bullying by both peers and those in authority. What I enjoyed was that this novel handles these topics in a way that is driven by the plot of our young hero’s journey and that of his unusual friends – both old and new.  The message of the story comes about very organically and not in a forced way. The book is not what I would categorize as a Christian novel, yet the theme of light triumphing over darkness is still definitely present.

“… there’s always a great deal of value to be found in the contrasts. If not for the dark, you wouldn’t recognize the light. If not for hate, you wouldn’t know love. If not for evil, you’d fail to recognize goodness. It’s the opposites of things that are most defining.”

I would recommend this book to readers primarily age 11-14. It features shorter chapters, strange characters, intriguing mystery, and a lot of action to keep them turning pages.

I’m rating this one 4.5  bent-spoons out of 5.

Cover Review

This cover was full of such whimsical imagination. As a life long lover of mysteries and fairy tales the misty vines, odd colored rabbits, and text made creatively out of bones had me guessing as to what kind of story this could be … from the very first glance.

Even the choice of font used to display the author’s name is no accident. It’s first impression is one of creative, rule-breaking mischief. A trait not unlike the personality of the main character.

The bone text is quite frankly a bit creepy, but paired with the fairy-tale like top half of the cover we are reassured that this novel won’t be one of complete gore. Although there is darkness in the novel, it is just enough to let the light shine through by contrast.

I’m rating this cover 5 out of 5.

Please note: I checked this book out of my local library simply because the cover caught my eye, and the marketing copy on the inside jacket confirmed that it should be everything the cover design promised.

Christian fiction, Christian historical, cover design, historical christian fiction, Historical Fiction, historical romance

Book & Cover Review of "Betrayal" by Robin Lee Hatcher

Special thanks to Zondervan and author Robin Lee Hatcher for providing me with not only the second title, “Betrayal”, in her Where the Heart Lives series, but also book one too! The first book, “Belonging”, sucked me in so deeply that I think I read through both books within three nights’ time. (Yes, they are that good!)

And the even better news is that they provided me with a second copy of each to give out to a lucky reader!! Comment on this post for a chance to have both of these great books mailed to YOU. 🙂

9780310411857Book Review

In the first book of the ‘Where the Heart Lies’ series we are introduced to a set of three siblings who, upon the death of their mother and knowing their father is a rarely present drunkard, have been sent out on an orphan train to find new homes. Unfortunately, all three were placed in different families and towns along the route. The first book is about the middle child, the eldest daughter. This second book is about Hugh Brennan — who unfortunately didn’t get far enough away from the influence of their father. As the eldest, and only boy, Hugh was kept by the first available family needing a worker, and later was retrieved by their father. With his father drinking up most of his money and rarely a steady home to stay in, Hugh ends up in prison for a short term for something his father actually did. This story starts once he is released. Determined to better himself, he has become a drifter in search of reuniting with his lost sisters.

Along the way he happens upon a widow named Julia Grace. Julia’s late husband was so abusive she does not ever want to marry again. However, with her late husband’s brother doing all he can to take her late-husband’s ranch from her, she may have to. Having been a bit of a ‘street rat’ thanks to his father’s influence, Hugh is surprised when he finds ranch life appealing, and the widow too.

This book is a sweet romance, featuring two main characters with pasts they would both rather forget. I feel it will appeal to both men and women who enjoy American historicals from the late 19th century – though slightly more to women.

Book Cover Review

The romantic cover photo of a fashion-model-level handsome drifter/cowboy in a small town depot setting will definitely appeal to women more than men, but it is very well done. Since Hugh is actually a city boy instead of a farm-raised cowboy his clean cut looks and the whiteness of his shirt ‘might’ be explainable? This cover follows well the ‘look’ of the series set by the first cover, so that even though it features a young man instead of a woman, it is obviously part of the Where the Heart lives series. Robin Lee Hatcher’s name is prominently displayed in the same manner, the color scheme is within the same pallet, and the handling of the one word title is also in keeping with the style of the series. I do wonder why the designer chose to use all lower-case letters for the titles, but they have called it out enough that you aren’t left wondering if it is indeed the title or not. Well done! It will reach the right readers, and matches the tone and story well.

Book Description

It’s the turn of the twentieth century and drifter Hugh Brennan is a man well acquainted with betrayal. Hugh finds himself drawn to the attractive widow, Julia, yet when he looks into her eyes, he recognizes the same hurt that haunts him.

Julia Grace has little reason to trust men, but she’s going to have to trust someone if she’s to keep her ranch from the clutches of her dead husband’s half-brother. Is it possible God had a hand in bringing Hugh to her door?

The latest historical romance from award-winning author Robin Lee Hatcher and the second book in the Where the Heart Lives series, Betrayal will take you to the high desert of western Wyoming, through the crags of the Rocky Mountains, and into the hearts of two seekers learning to trust God’s love no matter the circumstances.

Robin Lee Hatcher

Robin Lee Hatcher is the bestselling author of over sixty-five books. Her well-drawn characters and heartwarming stories of faith, courage, and love have earned her both critical acclaim and the devotion of readers. Her numerous awards include the Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction, two RITA Awards for Best Inspirational Romance, Romantic Times Career Achievement Awards for Americana Romance and for Inspirational Fiction, and the RWA Lifetime Achievement Award. Robin currently resides in Idaho.
For more information, visit
Write to Zondervan authors or their estates in care of Zondervan. Your mail will be forwarded as soon as possible, but please note that the author might not be able to respond personally. Email or send postal mail to:
Robin Lee Hatcher
c/o Zondervan
ATTN: Author Care
5300 Patterson SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49530



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?


Best Christian book covers of 2011

Today I saw a friend on FaceBook post the announcement for the ECPA’s (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association) list of final nominees for the best book covers of 2011. If you’d like to see their full report check out this press release . I noticed something interesting about the covers they chose.  The first, being that the three covers they chose as winners for the best covers by small publishers are stronger covers than those by the ones chosen as winners for mid-sized publishers, and possibly two out of three of the larger publishers.  Why are these smaller publishers pulling off covers that are equal to or better designed than the larger publishing houses?

Which leaves me wondering two things: a) Did the larger houses not submit covers for consideration? And, b) Did it matter more to the smaller publishing houses to be in such a contest and therefore they had more submissions to choose from?

I plan to investigate! I’ll also try to include a post in late December or January on my favorite covers for 2011. (Details yet to be determined.)

I’d enjoy your comments on the ECPA nominees if you’d care to share them?


Book & Cover Review of "A Measure of Mercy; Home to Blessing Series #1" by Lauraine Snelling

Ever turn on your TV about 15 minutes too late to catch the beginning of what seems to be a great movie?  This book is very much like that.  You get the impression that Astrid Bjorklund was once more “spirited” and impulsive in her past … mostly through references regarding a smaller cousin, Inga, who keeps getting herself and another cousin into trouble – including a broken arm.  However, the Astrid of this book is very controlled and comes across as much older than the age of 18.

Astrid has unexplained feelings for a gentleman who has just returned to Blessing after being away for two years.  Not enough of the previous book is recapped for us to understand why Joshua feels the way he does for Astrid, or why Astrid seems to feel that way in return.  Just as the relationship starts to even seem like it could be a “relationship” Astrid leaves for medical training in Chicago and no declarations of care have ever been exchanged between the two.  So … Joshua hasn’t really even dated her or spent much time with her, but starts building a house with marrying her in mind?  And Astrid thinks about him a lot, but doesn’t really know anything about him or whether he really cares for her?

The real story of this book is not the relationship – which falls a little flat – but rather the struggle Astrid wages against continuing her medical studies despite a frustration with God that he would allow good people to die despite all their efforts and prayers.  After the death of two patients, a young man and a newborn, Astrid is angry with God and has an irrational fear of putting her hands inside someone to do surgery or delivery for fear they will die too. The realism of these observations, and the spiritual struggle they bring to a young medical student are heartfelt and well covered by Snelling in this novel.  She is too scared of letting down her family and community to back out of continuing her medical training in Chicago, but continues to be terrified even after her arrival.  Her years of experience and training kick in on multiple occasions and God grants her experiences in Chicago that verify that she will also save lives when He wills it to happen. Including a young boy who becomes her first experience with double amputation.  Astrid’s strong heart shines through when she steps in to find Benny a home among friends in Blessing rather than leaving him on the streets of Chicago to struggle.

The additional turmoil Astrid experiences over deciding whether she is meant to spend time doing mission work in Africa, before returning to Blessing, adds even more emotional tension to this story.  There is some satisfaction when she decides to take God’s lead, one day at a time, with the first step being to attend the missionary training.  But the copy on the back cover had eluded that we would find out in this very book if she would regret making that choice?  Apparently that was just a summary of the entire book and we won’t really find that out until book two (or maybe three?)

What can we tell by the book’s cover?

206092_1_ftc 206092_99_bkc

Well, the knotted blonde hair and blue eyes do hint at a possible
Norweigen background, but not blatantly.  The two-story white house,
wheat fields and the style of her dress (with the high collar) elude
that this is probably a historical book in a rural community.  Although
this cover is of an appealing design, it doesn’t help you to understand
anything about Astrid.  I would have recommended that she at least have
a stethescope or medical bag in her hands … or show a scene with her
caring for a patient, rather than staring across a wheat field.  This
cover is beautiful, but possibly a little too generic to the genre to
stand out?

The copy on the back cover is misleading.  The romance is not as
clear cut as the back eludes … and disappears before the end of the
book, (not to be discussed again until the next book I assume?) And
I’ve already mentioned that the decision regarding Africa happens at the very end of the book.

Overall, this book is very well written, but is not a stand alone
piece.  Although marketed as Book #1 of a series – it is a continuation
of another Blessing series that needs to be read first to thoroughly
understand several of it’s main characters.  I think this cover’s copy
should have been less of a synopsis of the whole book and more of a
teaser to get the reader to pick it up off the shelf.  Too much of the
plot is given away by the back cover copy, and some of the questions it
brings to mind aren’t answered in this book.

***Note: I was given this book to review by Bethany House. If you are a publisher and would like an honest review of one of your latest publications, please contact me at for addressing.