Susan Karsten’s latest book review: “It’s Not Who You Know, It’s Who You ARE”, by Pat Williams

100_5846This book, jam-packed with anecdotes about famous people, would make a great gift for a man who doesn’t read a lot. Not to say that it’s exclusively for men. Each story is somewhat short, and very interesting.

The stories are grouped in the following categories: Success, Leadership, Family & Friends, Impact & Influence, and Becoming a Person of Excellence. Each category features 10-30 stories!

Some of the famous people covered include: Ted Williams, Amy Grant, John Havlicek, Pat Riley, Les Paul, Brooks Robinson, Louis Armstrong, Henry Aaron, Warren Wiersbe, Tony Dungy, Mike Shula and dozens more. Many sports figures round out a roster full of politicians, celebrities, etc.

Who would you like to read an inspiring story about? Please leave a comment.

Susan Karsten’s latest book review: “The Beekeeper’s Son” by Kelly Irvin

Irvin’s latest continues to place her in the top ranks of those authors writing Amish fiction. No rose-colored glasses here. The story was light-hearted in a way, even while dealing with some serious issues such as grief, loneliness, community upheaval, unmet needs, and physical disfigurement.


Irvin takes chances, too, with her story here. At least two of the male characters, one of which is one of the romantic leads, are quite grumpy/nasty. Somehow, it doesn’t spoil things and the reader doesn’t have to suspend her judgment to enjoy this fine, well-written novel. {In case you don’t recall, I am not normally an Amish fiction fan, but Kelly Irvin transcends the genre.)

Do you insist on novels’ heroes being nice, good guy types? Please comment with examples of either.

“Swept Away” by Vanessa Riley, a book review by Susan Karsten

You all know by now that I am an avid, book-consuming reader, across the genre spectrum. You may have also picked up on my special like/love for Regency romance. This lovely book, by my co-blogger over at Regency Reflections (check it out – there are Regency-themed blogs by me and some other writers, as well as some awesome free original short stories), is a treat.

Whoever writes as lyrically as Riley….I haven’t come across the author that has such a scintillating and original way with words. She is unique in her ability to cast one into the imaginary days of yore…fairy tales nipping around the edges of your consciousness as you rapidly turn the pages, thirsting for more delightful verbiage.

I shall neglect to regale you with the plot – for I’d like you to discover that on your own, but I can tell you that this is a special book in many ways. If you are reading this, Vanessa: kudos!


Stranded, by Don & Stephanie Prichard, a book review by Susan Karsten

Set in the early 1980s, this book defies easy categories…because it’s so strong in many of them.  Adventure (of course), romance, suspense, mystery, inspirational.  I was eager to read this since I so enjoy stories of survival. This one ‘brings it’ and get ready for shades of Robinson Crusoe! The castaways are endearing, flawed, and inspiring.  I don’t want to give any of the fun of the plot away, but rest assured, this one brings adrenaline into play.

I also enjoyed the numerous allusions found woven into the drama. For example, there’s a garden on the island. The garden reminds you of the Garden of Eden — not just by description, but because of some of the things that happen there. The spiritual element is strong, but inobtrusive, and the historical accuracy is amazing.

No doubt, this book will please with its incendiary plot, great characters, and gut-wrenching pathos. I’d love to sit down with the authors and ask them more about the book’s genesis, so watch this blog for a possible interview in the future. Pleas leave a comment if you’ve read any great survival stories. Thanks, Susan


Remember the Lilies ~ Book Review by Susan Karsten

100_5845I can’t remember, in all my vast reading, a book about the Philippine internment camps (prison camps) during World War II. You will be swept away by the thrilling and broadly sweeping scope of this novel. It begins in the dazzling world of nightclubs and bright lights of pre-war Manila. Slowly, one is dragged along to the prisons, survival, and an ultimate triumph that shows the hand of our mighty God, and how he works trials for good. Please do enjoy this just-released, riveting historical fiction by up-and-coming Wisconsin author, Liz Tolsma.

Make sure to leave a comment on your favorite all-time WWII fiction book.

Thanks, Susan Karsten

At Home in Last Chance, by Cathleen Armstrong (book review by Susan Karsten)

100_5537Ignore the freaky hairdo on the cover model. This is one excellent inspirational romance! I’d like to know how the author nails her characters so well? What do I care about a once-failure of a former beautician single-mother? Don’t ask me how, but I do – and so will you as you enjoy the gritty, realistic rise from the pit experienced by the heroine of this charming contemporary novel. If you read Christian fiction, don’t miss this one.

My latest book review: Romancing Your Better Half, by Rick Johnson

100_5540Is the woman always considered the “better half”? Is that fair? Is it true? Those questions aside, I find the title intriguing, and the contents worthwhile. Many thought-provoking sections include communicating with the other sex, love (as in falling into it), romance and intimacy, sexuality, and woundedness. The author finishes with a chapter “for Him”, and a chapter “for Her”. One exceptional aspect of the book (one of many) is that the author writes about young marrieds AND older couples. Much good, thought-provoking, realistic material here. I recommend it as a marriage-enhancing tool, as well as because it is so interesting.

Thanks for reading my review: Please comment with your favorite book on marriage.

Susan Karsten


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