Next Chapter Book Reviews

Discover Your Next Favorite Book!

The Guest Cat

Product Details

The Guest Cat
by
Takashi Hiraide
New Directions
Retail Price $14.95
Amazon Price: $12.30

Book Description: 

A wonderful sui generis novel about a visiting cat who brings joy into a couple’s life in TokyoA bestseller in France and winner of Japan’s Kiyama Shohei Literary Award, The Guest Cat, by the acclaimed poet Takashi Hiraide, is a subtly moving and exceptionally beautiful novel about the transient nature of life and idiosyncratic but deeply felt ways of living. A couple in their thirties live in a small rented cottage in a quiet part of Tokyo; they work at home, freelance copy-editing; they no longer have very much to say to one another. But one day a cat invites itself into their small kitchen. It leaves, but the next day comes again, and then again and again. Soon they are buying treats for the cat and enjoying talks about the animal and all its little ways. Life suddenly seems to have more promise for the husband and wife — the days have more light and color. The novel brims with new small joys and many moments of staggering poetic beauty, but then something happens….As Kenzaburo Oe has remarked, Takashi Hiraide’s work “really shines.” His poetry, which is remarkably cross-hatched with beauty, has been acclaimed here for “its seemingly endless string of shape-shifting objects and experiences, whose splintering effect is enacted via a unique combination of speed and minutiae.”

Review

This book really makes you think outside the box.  I have never really read anything like it before.  The prose were touching and the plot was something that ever married couple can relate to.  The ending surprised me and though I may not have wanted to see it end the way it did, I see why the author wrote it that way.  It was a challenging, but satisfying read.

~Reviewed by Audra A.

 

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    Stories Around the Table

    Stories Around the Table
    by More than 40 Military Family Writers and Terry Barnes
    Elva Resa Publishing
    Retail Price $14.95
    Amazon Price: $12.59


    Book Description: 

    Conversations are the heart of a gathering among friends. In Stories Around the Table, military spouses, parents, children, and service members gather together to laugh, cry, lend perspective, and share personal stories from their military life experience. From poignant to practical, tragic to humorous, these candid conversations shed heartfelt insight on many aspects of military life: friendship, depression, romance in military marriage, caring for children with special needs in a mobile lifestyle, renewing relationships after deployment, career challenges for spouses, changing schools, post-traumatic stress, faith, grief, and so much more.Menu

    Let’s Do Lunch! ~ Military Friendship
    “Write in Pen” ~ Diana Hartman
    “Dot to Dot, Friend to Friend” ~ Stacy Allsbrook-Huisman
    “Something’s Rank” ~ Amy Bushatz
    “The ‘Ain’t It Awful?’ Club” ~ Holly Scherer
    “Better With Battle Buddies” ~ Tara Crooks
    “Stick Your Neck Out There” ~ Lori Hensic

    A Moveable Feast Is No Picnic ~ Transitions
    “First, You’re Gonna Hate It” ~ Terri Barnes
    “Challenging My Normal” ~ Starlett Henderson
    “The Perfect Move” ~ Brenda Pace
    “Drawn and Quartered” ~ Janine Boldrin
    “Why I’m Off Base” ~ Chris Pape
    “Seven Things on the Table” ~ Starlett Henderson

    Health & Soul Food ~ Mind, Body, Spirit
    “Alive Day” ~ Kristin Henderson
    “Taking My Medicine” ~ Sarah Smiley
    “Where My Strength Comes From” ~ Sara Horn
    “Growing Our Family” ~ Samantha Andrew
    “Loving My Sister” ~ Briley Rossiter
    “Rules of the Road Less Traveled” ~ Jeremy L. Hilton
    “Coping With Serious Illness” ~ Janine Boldrin
    “The Day Before the Wedding” ~ Anna Alexander

    Bread of Sorrows ~ Grief
    “Secondary Losses” ~ Artis Henderson
    “Living for Griffin” ~ Kristine Schellhaas
    “Star Light, Star Bright” ~ Karen Pavlicin-Fragnito

    A Piece of (Wedding) Cake ~ Military Marriage
    “Marriage Pig Latin” ~ Lori Volkman
    “Moving the Lighthouse” ~ Thomas Litchford
    “Smokin’ Hot Romance” ~ Jacey Eckhart
    “Locations: Yours, Mine, and Ours” ~ Sarah Smiley
    “Speaking the Same Language” ~ Jocelyn Green
    “Love’s Tide Stronger Flows” ~ Chris Stricklin

    Eat It. It’s Good for You! ~ Military Parenting
    “Strength of a Little Warrior” ~ Jacqueline Goodrich
    “Our Hearts Are Big Enough” ~ Julia Gibbs
    “Ready-Made Family” ~ Sarah Holtzmann
    “School Choices and Changes” ~ Amanda Trimillos
    “Home, Sweet Homeschool” ~ Benita Koeman
    “My Son’s Battle” ~ Judy Davis
    “Military Kids in a Civilian World” ~ Randi S. Cairns
    “Manners Still Matter” ~ Marna Ashburn
    “Our Roots: Not Deep but Far and Wide” ~ Susan A. Phalen

    Orders to Go ~ Deployment
    “Don t Forget the Kids” ~ Julie LaBelle
    “Tale of the Meat Man” ~ Mollie Gross
    “My Oxygen Mask” ~ Alison Buckholtz
    “Buy More Underwear” ~ Karen Pavlicin-Fragnito
    “What Strength Looks Like” ~ Angela Caban
    “Friends in Need, Friends in Deed” ~ Benita Koeman

    Check, Please ~ Careers & Finances
    “Secrets of My Success” ~ Lisa Smith Molinari
    “Having It All” ~ Tanya Biank
    “Smart Money” ~ Adrianna Domingos-Lupher
    “Dare to Dream” ~ Kathie Hightower
    “What’s Missing?” ~ Janet I. Farley
    “With a Little Help From My Friends” ~ Sue Hoppin

    Coffee & Dessert ~ Sweets for the Journey
    Always Time for Coffee, Always Room for Dessert

    Review

     

    This was a very interesting book that is basically a collections of personal stories from military families describing what it is like to live in that culture..  Since each essay is written by someone different, you get a well-rounded look into the lives of those who serve our country at home and abroad and their families.  Your emotions will run the gamut as you find your self laughing and crying intermittently.  While some stories were lighthearted, others stayed with me for days and some I still think about.  The book was heartwarming and touching and it really did feel like you were gathered around the table with these families sharing their lives.  I found the book very appealing.

    ~Reviewed by Shari K.

     

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      The Ones They Left Behind

       

      The Ones They Left Behind
      by Antonio Elmaleh
      21 Cent Imprints
      Retail Price $19.95
      Amazon Price: $16.65

      Book Description: 

      The Ones They Left Behind is a sweeping, riveting, historically accurate account of post-Civil War America told through the journey of Harriman Hickenlooper, a Union veteran who sets off on a one-man peace march to heal the wounds of a bitter and divided country by retracing his steps on Sherman s March to the Sea. This time, instead of carrying a gun, he will carry a flag. Instead of marching for war, he will march for peace and find a reason to live and love again.

      Review

      This is a very well-written historical novel that takes you back in time to post-Civil War America during the Reconstruction period.  The story has many plots and sub-plots and there are many twists and turns to keep you interested and your emotions will run the gamut.   At first sight you think this book is merely about one man’s journey in search of personal redemption, but the novel acutally encompasses so much more.  The author did his research and describes the period well.  It was a very enlightening and enjoyable read.

      ~Reviewed by John C.

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        The Tree of Water

        The Tree of Water
        by Elizabeth Haydon
        Starscape
        Retail Price $17.99
        Amazon Price: $13.71

        Book Description: 

        The epic voyages continue in The Tree of Water, the fourth adventure in bestselling author Elizabeth Haydon’s acclaimed fantasy series for young readers, The Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme.As Royal Reporter of the land of Serendair, it is the duty of young Charles Magnus “Ven” Polypheme to travel the world and seek out magic hiding in plain sight. But Ven needs to escape the clutches of the nefarious Thief Queen, ruler of the Gated City, whose minions are hunting for him. His friend, the merrow Amariel, has the perfect solution to his dilemma: Ven and Char will join her to explore the world beneath the sea.As they journey through the sea, Ven finds himself surrounded by wonders greater than he could have ever imagined. But the beauty of the ocean is more than matched by the dangers lurking within its depths, and Ven and his friends soon realize that in order to save thousands of innocent lives, they may have to sacrifice their own. For everything in the ocean needs to eat…“A delightful epic fantasy that will attract a readership both older and younger than the target audience.” —Booklist (starred review) on The Floating Island

        Review

        This is a magical fantasy novel geared toward ages 10-14 and the author surely knows how to keep the attention of this age group.  The  story had internal logic which flowed and while there are twists and turns, they weren’t what you would have expected.  Along with hair-breath escapes from fantastical creatures you will find beautiful descriptions of undersea life.  The characters are well-developed and were consistent with their personalities  and they did not make any silly or foolish choices.  While I feel it can stand alone, this is the fourth book in the series, so I do recommend that you read the first three before delving into this story entire series is well worth the investment of time and money.

         

        ~Reviewed by Tim H.

        Giveaway

        If you would like a chance to win a free copy of this book email us by the end of the month.  Be sure to include the name of the book in the body of the email along with your name and address

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          Dying to Be Me


          Dying To Be Me: My Journey from Cancer, to Near Death, to True Healing

          Dying to Be Me
          by Anita Moorjani
          Hay House
          Retail Price $15.00
          Amazon Price: $12.33

          Book Description:  In this truly inspirational memoir, Anita Moorjani relates how, after fighting cancer for almost four years, her body began shutting down—overwhelmed by the malignant cells spreading throughout her system. As her organs failed, she entered into an extraordinary near-death experience where she realized her inherent worth…. and the actual cause of her disease. Upon regaining consciousness, Anita found that her condition had improved so rapidly that she was released from the hospital within weeks—without a trace of cancer in her body! Within these pages, Anita recounts stories of her childhood in Hong Kong, her challenge to establish her career and find true love, as well as how she eventually ended up in that hospital bed where she defied all medical knowledge. As part of a traditional Hindu family residing in a largely Chinese and British society, Anita had been pushed and pulled by cultural and religious customs since she was a little girl. After years of struggling to forge her own path while trying to meet everyone else’s expectations, she had the realization, as a result of her epiphany on the other side, that she had the power to heal herself . . . and that there are miracles in the Universe that she’d never even imagined. In Dying to Be Me, Anita freely shares all she has learned about illness, healing, fear, “being love,” and the true magnificence of each and every human being! This is a book that definitely makes the case that we are spiritual beings having a human experience . . . and that we are all One!

          Review

          The story of this author’s life is truly inspirational.  I myself have overcome cancer and going through that experience really changes you.  In this book Anita not only recounts her life story, but the lasting affects that cancer had on her life…the good, the bad, and the ugly.  As she shares her life’s journey, she will inspire you to look at your own life with fresh eyes and help you to find meaning and substance in your own life.  This book gives the reader hope for the future as well as helping you find contentment in the life we currently lead.

          ~Reviewed by Elaine W.

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            The Storied Life of A.J. Firky

            Product DetailsThe Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
            by Gabrielle Zevin
            Highbridge Audio
            Retail Price $24.95
            Amazon Price: $16.86

            Book Description: 

            A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner of Island Books, has recently endured some tough years: his wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and his prized possession–a rare edition of Poe poems–has been stolen. Over time, he has given up on people, and even the books in his store, instead of offering solace, are yet another reminder of a world that is changing too rapidly. Until a most unexpected occurrence gives him the chance to make his life over and see things anew.Gabrielle Zevin’s enchanting novel is a love letter to the world of books–an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.

            Review

            As a voracious reader, having read hundreds and hundreds of books over the past twenty plus years; I can honestly say that this book is one of the best that is out there. Never has a fictional book touched my heart as this has. The author gives an array of characters to love (or like, or not like so much!) and a sense of community as we se A.J. Firky grieve his losses, let go of bitterness, and move on and grow as a person.  This story is a testament to life-changing fiction, which I think this book is!

            ~Reviewed by Rosie B.

             

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              A.D. 30

              Product Details

              A.D. 30
              by Ted Dekker

              Center Street
              Retail Price $25.00
              Amazon Price: $25.00

              Book Description: 

              A sweeping epic set in the harsh deserts of Arabia and ancient Palestine.

              A war that rages between kingdoms on the earth and in the heart.

              The harrowing journey of the woman at the center of it all.

              Step back in time to the year of our Lord…A.D. 30.

              The outcast daughter of one of the most powerful Bedouin sheikhs in Arabia, Maviah is called on to protect the very people who rejected her. When their enemies launch a sudden attack with devastating consequences, Maviah escapes with the help of two of her father’s warriors–Saba who speaks more with is sword than his voice and Judah, a Jew who comes from a tribe that can read the stars. Their journey will be fraught with terrible danger. If they can survive the vast forbidding sands of a desert that is deadly to most, they will reach a brutal world subjugated by kings and emperors. There Maviah must secure an unlikely alliance with King Herod of the Jews.

              But Maviah’s path leads her unexpectedly to another man. An enigmatic teacher who speaks of a way in this life which offers greater power than any kingdom. His name is Yeshua, and his words turn everything known on its head. Though following him may present even greater danger, his may be the only way for Maviah to save her people–and herself.

              Review

              I am going to be honest here.  I am not usually a Ted Dekker fan. Most of his writings tend to give me the creeps.  I just don’t like that sort of thing.  This book is different than what he usually writes.  It is historical fiction set in the year A.D. 30 and the main character faces many struggles, one of them being what she should do with Jesus and His teachings. The book is very exciting and full of action and adventure. Dekker has a way with words and captures the each scene so fully with his words that you feel as though you are right there in the thick of things as Maviah faces her struggles as well as the biggest decision of her life.  I highly recommend it.

              ~Reviewed by Pam R.

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                Once Bitten, Twice Burned

                Product Details

                Once Bitten, Twice Burned
                By Cynthia Eden
                Kensington
                Retail Price $14.99
                Amazon Price: $11.35

                Book Description: 

                Ryder Duncan keeps his secrets. With a twisted scientist starving him in a 10 X 12 cell, it’s not easy to conceal the abilities that set him apart from other vampires, or his plans for escape. But survival – and revenge – are worth waiting for. Until the so-called doctor tempts his appetites with something special: a woman, with a soft Southern accent and a scent like flowers. Sabine. Sabine Acadia didn’t volunteer to be dinner. She was kidnapped and tossed into the cage of a monster. A monster with fierce green eyes, a body that speaks of ruthless power–but a touch gentle as a caress. Ryder knows things about her, secrets Sabine needs to learn fast. Because while they might soon escape this prison, she’s fighting an urge to set all her desires free…

                Review

                I really enjoyed this book.  I am a fan of the series and this was a nice addition.  This wasn’t an ordinary romance novel, but one that was full of twists and turns and plenty of suspense. The characters kept my interest piqued from the very beginning and they just got more interesting in this 2nd novel.  I felt like a part of their lives as the author walked me through their trials and triumphs. Ryder was my favorite character and was glad to get to know him better and was touched by his love story.  This was an exciting, fulfilling read.

                ~Reviewed by Rosie B.

                 

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                  Joyful

                  Joyful
                  By Shelly Shepard Gray
                  Avon Inspire
                  Retail Price $12.99
                  Amazon Price: $10.35

                  Book Description: 

                  A young Amish couple gets a second chance at love in New York Times bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray’s final book in her Return to Sugarcreek series.Randall Beiler is doing his best to put his family and the farm’s needs first, even forsaking love. But though he tries, Randall knows he needs help caring for his younger siblings and keeping the house together.When his brother offers pretty Elizabeth Nolt a job taking care of the house and cooking for the family, Randall is furious—and guilty about the way he once broke Elizabeth’s heart. But when he learns that Elizabeth and her grandmother are struggling to make ends meet, he knows the offer, no matter how painful, is the right thing for everyone.

                  Elizabeth wants to refuse—to stay far away from the man who hurt her—but she needs the money. Though she vows to protect her heart, spending time in the Beiler household makes Elizabeth realize that, while she’s older and wiser, her love for Randall still burns strong.

                  Randal, too, seems to want something more. But does he want Elizabeth because he truly loves her—or because he needs a housekeeper? If Randall sincerely wants something more, he must find a way to show Elizabeth—or risk losing his chance at love forever.

                  Joyful includes a P.S. section with a letter from the author, discussion questions, and a teaser from her next book.

                  Review

                   

                  This is another wonderful addition to the Sugarcreek saga and author Shelley Shepard does a fantastic job with this third novel in the series.  The impact of first impressions is well demonstrated by Shepard’s delightful collection of characters You will find healing of broken lives, miraculous transformations, faith and friendship in this book that can stand alone even without reading the two before it. While not a typical Amish tale, the heartwarming scenes, family values and convincing characters still make the reader a part of the story.

                  ~Reviewed by  Allie B.

                   

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                    Primus, Over the Electric Grapevine

                    Primus, Over the Electric Grapevine
                    By Primus and Greg Prato
                    Akashic books
                    Retail Price $24.95
                    Amazon Price: $19.23

                    Book Description: 


                    Usually when the “alternative rock revolution” of the early 1990s is discussed, Nirvana’s Nevermind is credited as the recording that led the charge. Yet there were several earlier albums that helped pave the way, including the Pixies’ Doolittle, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Mother’s Milk, Jane’s Addiction’s Nothing’s Shocking, and especially Primus’s 1991 album Sailing the Seas of Cheese.

                    This fascinating and beautifully curated oral history tells the tale of this truly one-of-a-kind band. Compiled from nearly fifty all-new interviews conducted by journalist/author Greg Prato–including Primus members past and present and many more fellow musicians–this book is sure to appeal to longtime fans of the band, as well as admirers of the musicians interviewed for the book.

                    Interviewees include: Tim Alexander, Trey Anastasio (Phish), Matthew Bellamy (Muse), Les Claypool, Stewart Copeland (The Police), Chuck D (Public Enemy), Kirk Hammett (Metallica), Larry LaLonde, Geddy Lee (Rush), Mickey Melchiondo (Ween), Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine), Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Matt Stone (South Park), Tom Waits, and many more.

                    Review

                     

                    This book is created from real interviews with band members of the rock ‘n roll group Primus.  It is an oral history of sorts that is well organized from beginning to end. Since most of the book is based on transcribed interviews, you get a first hand account of the group.  It was like having a conversation with Primus!  The book covers such things as the making of all their albums, how songs were inspired, and what it was like on tour.  The  pictures included were rare footage.  The entire book was well done and makes for great keepsake for fans.

                    ~Reviewed by Sonny E.

                     

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