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Notable books

Notable Books | Four novels from Christian publishers reviewed by Susan Olasky

The Secret

True confessions: I had never read a novel by Beverly Lewis, but now I understand their charms. In this first in a new series, Lewis introduces members of the Bylers, an Amish family being torn asunder by father Judah's silence and mother Lettie's erratic behavior. All this happens when eldest daughter Grace most needs her mother's advice about love. Meanwhile in Virginia, 24-year-old Heather Nelson has just been diagnosed with advanced cancer of the type that killed her mother. Lewis loosely ties these plot threads together and leaves enough hanging that readers will want to come back for Book Two.

Things Left Unspoken

An interior designer has the chance to renovate an old family home in a dying Southern hamlet, but taking the job means leaving, at least temporarily, her home and husband in Atlanta. She's eager for the change, because her marriage is unhappy and she's going through a mid-life crisis. She hopes the project will give her a chance to establish her own identity. While rebuilding the house she uncovers long-buried secrets that some want kept hidden. The book combines mild suspense with a multi-generational family drama rooted in modern Southern history and culture.

Sweet Waters

The book begins at a wedding, with the widowed mother of three 20-something daughters marrying a much younger man and heading to Europe. Tara, the oldest and most responsible daughter, decides to pursue her dream of returning to her birthplace in California. She takes her youngest sister with her-and hopes the middle one will follow. Once there she gets a job, they get a cute cottage on the ocean, and they discover that their father wasn't always the super man they remembered. Since this is Christian chick lit, Tara finds love but its path is crooked. She discovers faith and learns to trust and forgive.

Marine One

From the moment in the first chapter when Marine One crashes during a thunderstorm, killing the president as he heads to a mysterious meeting at Camp David, this fast-paced courtroom/techno/political thriller doesn't let up. Was the crash due to the lousy weather, an assassination, pilot error, a defect in the helicopter? The helicopter's French manufacturer hires attorney Mike Nolan to defend it against a lawsuit brought by the widows of the men killed in the copter. He has to fight in the courtroom and the court of public opinion, where ambitious politicians and lawyers hope to cash in on the president's death.

Spotlight

Tricia Goyer's Blue Like Play Dough (Multnomah, 2009) is a memoir of her life as a mom. It isn't a how-to of being a good mom with lists of action steps to take, but the story of a gracious God using motherhood to shape the author into the image of Christ. Goyer shares joys and trials from her own life, beginning with her becoming pregnant as an unwed senior in high school. From that difficult beginning, through bouts of perfectionism, busyness, and illness, Goyer realizes that "only when I depend on my connection with Jesus can I do the things he asks." She shows through revealing anecdotes that "the perfection I long for will never be found in the place I live and parent and strive," but in Christ.

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