“Come Eat at My Table” by Ruth O’Neil

 Karin Miller has a loving, Christian husband, beautiful twin daughters, and a reputation for feeding everyone who crosses her path.

She also has baggage from her unhappy childhood – baggage she’s resistant to unload.

This book unwinds slowly, but surely – so much so that I didn’t realize how deeply I’d been drawn until the very end. Continue reading

“The Collins Case” by Julie C. Gilbert

"The Collins Case" by Julie C. Gilbert — Kimia Wood — Christian Despite having a “Mystery/Thriller” cover and blurb, this book is actually a “Christian/Inspirational” story. If I had known better what to expect, and if the pacing had moved faster, I might have enjoyed this much more.

Slow Start

The story is ham-strung from the very beginning, where for the first chapter and a half, the only conflict is that Rachel Collins is unequally yoked – married to an unbeliever.

The scenes of the “happy little family” living their lives and unaware of the calamity awaiting them is a classic writer move to get readers to connect to the characters. Unfortunately, I had recently read the blurb and knew they got kidnapped – and I was aware of the author-ly tricks at work – and so was very un-invested.

If I was advising the author, I would suggest beginning with Mr. Collins coming home and discovering melted groceries on the counter, his wife’s car in the garage, her phone on the counter, and his family nowhere to be found. (This scene already exists, but is sapped of tension since we’ve already witnessed his family be snatched.) This kind of scenario is visceral enough to connect with readers without the lead-up…a lead-up that lost me before the plot even began. Continue reading

“Twisted Dreams” by Morgan Elizabeth Huneke

"Twisted Dreams" by Morgan Elizabeth Huneke — Kimia Wood This short story opens with about as classic a “Sleeping Beauty: Chapter 1” as you could wish, with the interesting trait of being written from the viewpoint of the infant princess being christened (Liesel).

Chapter 2 rips us from the fairy-tale world “played straight” and shoves us into a sci-fi world, in the head of an imprisoned girl who shares the name but none of the memories (apparently) of the Sleeping Beauty princess. Very disorienting, and a little irritating.

While heavy on the romance, this story blends fairy tale, amnesia, high-tech, aliens with super-powers, and faith into an interesting little tale that pulled me in. Continue reading

“Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card

"Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card — Kimia Wood Published in 1985, Ender’s Game has won Nebula and Hugo awards for best novel, been adapted to a movie, and has led to six sequels and related novels. It is regarded by the internet as a foundational entry in the sci-fi genre.

For the first half I wondered why anyone would praise it (and despaired for the culture that would). Then, somewhere in the second half, I acknowledged it had gained something worthwhile.

The Beginning

Aliens have attacked Earth. For over fifty years, the entire world has been held under the rule of a truce, focusing resources and manpower to preparing for the aliens’ return. One resource the military desires is a brilliant strategist to act as commander for their fleets.

So far so good, eh?

Then the first chapter almost made me put the book down; but I was stubborn, and love to write scathing reviews, so I kept going. Continue reading

“A Sidekick’s Tale” by Elisabeth Grace Foley

"A Sidekick's Tale" by Elisabeth Grace Foley — Kimia Wood — sidekick I wasn’t sure how to describe this book without spoiling it. So, I decided I could do worse than the author’s own book description:

Meredith Fayett needed to marry someone before the week was out or she would lose her ranch. It sounded simple, so ranch hand Chance Stevens agreed to take on the job, in spite of his friend Marty’s warnings that it could only lead to trouble. But even Marty, a loyal though opinionated sidekick, couldn’t have predicted the mayhem that ensues when his own eccentric relatives appear on the scene, dragging Chance, Marty, and Meredith into the latest skirmish in a long-running family feud. What follows is a hilarious tangle involving an emerald ring, a fearsome aunt, a scheming suitor, and a team of runaway mules—by the end of which Chance finds that even a marriage just on paper has its complications, and that it never hurts to have a good sidekick.

This story is made by the narrator. Humorous and deft with an apt turn of phrase, the first-person recitation makes this short story a breeze and a delight to go through.

Part of the fun is not knowing what could come next. In this regard, the Amazon description almost gives too much away. But as the narrator himself says, “It’s the little things.”

It’s the little social commentary on his family that Marty gives us while tied to a tree…or the grave advice he dishes out to everyone who doesn’t want it…it’s his descriptions of the fat, bald Justice of the Peace careening down a hill on horseback…it’s Marty’s voice that makes this book.

After all, as Marty observes, the story of a pretty young girl about to lose her ranch is as old as the hills. It’s the “sidekick” – and his rendition of events – that complicates this “marriage of convenience” story. And makes it more memorable in the process.

If you like laughing – if you like smart sidekicks, crazy families, and marriage arrangement complications…then this might be the perfect way to spend an afternoon or two.


DISCLAIMER: I received a free e-copy of this book by participating in the Indie Christian Authors Black Friday Sale. I was not required to write of review of any kind.

A Sidekick’s Tale can be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, or the Book Depository (free worldwide shipping).

Find out more about the author on her Amazon and Smashwords pages.

“Kate’s Innocence” by Sarah Holman

"Kate's Innocence" by Sarah Holman — Kimia Wood — innocence Can Kate prove she didn’t bomb her college campus? Can FBI agent Patrick trust God to reveal the truth as he tries to clear Kate?

For this indie Christian book, I’m going to front-load all my complaints, and then focus on what I liked.

That way, it’s like struggling to remove the sticky wax-paper wrapper on a chocolate toffee, then getting to eat the toffee! (I’m sure lots of people compare my reviews to chocolate toffee…) Continue reading

“The Racketeer” by John Grisham

"The Racketeer" by John Grisham — Kimia Wood — Grisham In the first few chapters, Malcolm Bannister plays his sympathy cards by explaining his situation as a guest of the federal government. In year five of ten for being unknowingly involved in a big-time racketeer’s money laundering, Malcolm has lost his wife and son to divorce and has a rocky relationship with his hard-nosed, lawful dad.

By the end of the book, I thought he deserved everything the FBI could stick on him, and finished reading partly to find out whether he was thrown in an oubliette.

Guess I’m not John Grisham’s target audience. [SPOILER ALERT] Continue reading

“Out of Their Faces and Into Their Shoes” by John Kramp

How to Understand Spiritually Lost People and Give Them Directions to God

"Out of Their Faces and Into Their Shoes" by John Kramp — Kimia Wood — lost The past year or two have been a period of growth for me. Specifically, God has been prodding me to be more gospel-oriented. While I’ve heard passages such as the “great commission” all my life, it wasn’t until a year-and-a-half ago I realized it could be directed at me. And then, every time I opened the Bible, there it was, staring me in the face: “Share Jesus. Talk about Jesus. Go to those who don’t know Him yet and let them know!”

The trick, as in so much of life, is balance. Out of Their Faces and Into Their Shoes is all about knocking off the pushy, plastic, tract-dependent type of evangelism and changing our thinking to looking at people as “lost”.

The author calls his new mindset “lostology” (the study of lost-ness and seeking the lost), and uses examples from his own life and the Bible to help us get away from the seminary courses and toward actually reaching out to people around us. Continue reading

“Vessels of Honor” by Virginia Myers

Showing Love to Everyone, from Teen Prostitutes to Legalistic Church-Ladies

"Vessels of Honor" by Virginia Myers — Kimia Wood Father Leffingwell should be retired. After serving the Episcopal church for forty years and losing his beloved wife he “deserves” a rest.

God, however, carries him across the country to Seattle to be temp pastor to a congregation and minister to his son dying of AIDS.

Stated like that it sounds pedestrian enough – but anyone who’s faced the struggle of honoring God in the trenches of life will find this book as captivating and challenging as I did. Continue reading