Seek These Things

a blog discussing Celiac Disease, & the Gluten Free Diet, Books, Parenting, Politics, Religion, Pets, Product Reviews, and whatever else catches my interest

Rhea Jensen Novels – Book Series Review February 28, 2009

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Rhea Jensen Novels

  • by Sheralyn Pratt
  • self-published by Spectrum Books
  • 3 volumes, trade paperback (4th volume available only in PDF e-book format)

The Rhea Jensen novels are a series of fun mysteries with a Mormon audience in mind. Jensen is a great story teller and you will be engrossed enough in what is going on to ignore the prevalent syntax errors where two ways of saying the same thing get muddled into one sentence and were not corrected by an editor before printing. This flaw (ie: lack of sufficient editing) is most blatant in the second book where Rhea mentions that the stalker has access to the victims medical records 2 chapters before she decodes the message that reveals that the stalker has accessed the victims medical records.

Pratt weaves a great mystery and it is often difficult to tell where the case is going. Personal relationships (friendships and dating) abound in all the books. While they are easy to follow because they so closely resemble relationships in real life, it it that same true-to-life aspect that introduces suspense when the chords that bind the characters to one another are plucked.

This is a great series with great stories and great characters and I hope Pratt is able to print additional Rhea Jensen novels.

Spies, Lies & a Pair of Ties (2003)

  • 213 pages
  • $13.95 USD

Introduces our protagonist, Rhea Jensen. Trained in journalism, Rhea uses her unique talents, including a gut feeling that never leads her astray, to solve the cases no one else can touch, and she makes it all look so easy! However, this flawed female is hopelessly pining after her high school sweetheart/best guy friend. She competes withher best gal pal, the hottest reporter in the city, by tagging one another with career boosting news stories or leads that crack difficult cases wide open.

In this novel Rhea goes about finding the employee who embezzled 200K from Jock Stock. Will she forfeit her life to catch the villain?

Welcome to Stalk Lake City (2004)

  • 285 pages
  • $14.95 USD

Someone is stalking a well-known Salt Lake City anchorwoman. While on an extended vacation in Utah, recovering from her recent near-death experience, Rhea is compelled to take the case, as a favor to her friend Kay. This guy has had police detectives baffled for nearly a year, and Rhea will have to use all her skills to track him. But will she be able to overcome her new self-imposed limits on who she “should” be to save this anchorwoman’s life?

Idle Playgrounds (2005)

  • 239 pages
  • $14.95 USD

Back in Utah, Rhea is targeted by a secret society. Would they kill her and everyone she loves to keep their secret safe?

In this book Kay tells Rhea to reveal to her boyfriend how the two girls “met in college”. But Pratt doesn’t go into the details in this book. I assume that is included in book 4.

Kay’s Story

Is an online e-book (in PDF format). I haven’t read it yet. You can buy it from the author’s website for $7.50 USD (click the link above). I think the author should consider a new title for this one, it’s not nearly as catchy as the others.


Hit the Road – Book Review February 20, 2009

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Hit the Road

  • by Caroline B Cooney
  • published by Delacorte Press (hardcover), Laurel Leaf (paperback & ebook), website: Random House
  • 192 pages
  • US $15.95 / CAN $21, hardcover; US $6.50, paperback & ebook

Sixteen-year-old Brit is compelled by her grandmother, Nannie, to participate in a senior kidnapping so that Nannie may attend a college reunion with her college roommates. When one of “the girl’s” violent adult sons learns his mother has been removed from the Nursing Home he has bribed to drug her and make her incompetent, a suspenseful pursuit ensues across state lines.

This book discuses some great issues. Often Brit’s new freedoms, a driver’s licence, making her own decisions, are contrasted with the older ladies losing theirs. Because these freedoms are so new to Brit, she is acutely aware of the pain it causes the older women when their grown children intrude into their lives– sometimes with pure motives, and other times with covetous greed.

The story ends abruptly, like the author ran out of pages to fill. It’s hard for the reader to believe that the villian which so doggedly persuied his runaway mother would roll over in submission once she got the tiniest bit of leverage against him.

But I liked the book. I think most girls who has reached a certain level of maturity (middle school, jr. high), when they have been given some new freedoms from their parents, would be able to relate to the main characters feelings and would enjoy the book too.


Kevin Kirk Chronicles – Book Series Review February 19, 2009

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Kevin Kirk Chronicles

  • by Patricia Wiles
  • published by Covenant
  • 4 volumes, paperback

One thing I love about this series is that the conflict faced by the antagonist is always mirrored in the life of the protagonist, Kevin, and often in the lives of the supporting characters as well. All books are written in the first person. I think girls would enjoy this series more than boys. Although the protagonist is male, the female writer uses a feminine voice at times (ex: when describing wedding details, what kind of dress she was wearing, what color it was, what it was made of). The books should be read in order to fully appreciate the dynamics of the family. Wiles has a great sense of humor and you really feel for her characters.

My Mom’s a Mortician

  • 249 pages
  • $7.95 USA
  • out of print

Twelve- year-old Kevin Andrew Kirk is uprooted when his mortician parents buy a funeral home in another state. Faced with death for the first time in his life, Kevin searches for answers and finds them. Readers are confronted with themes of death, physical child abuse, and visions of ghosts.

Funeral Home Evenings

  • 241 pages
  • $8.95 USA
  • also available as an Audio CD Book
  • out of print

Now in eighth grade, Kevin makes new friends and learns humility by facing his trials, including death, jealousy, and racial prejudice.

Early-Morning Cemetery

  • 243 pages
  • $8.95 USA
  • out of print

In the ninth grade, Kevin is terrorized by Marcy’s birth mother, who has returned to claim her inheritance. Kevin learns the value of Character.  Some plot holes. Themes include lying, religious bigotry, and emotional child abuse.

The Final Farewell

  • 246 pages
  • $7.95 USA

Now a Senior in high school, Kevin must embrace Integrity while dealing with getting dumped at the homecoming dance, immodesty, religious intolerance, and a natural disaster.


Dear Jane Austen – Book Review February 7, 2009

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Dear Jane Austen: A Heroine’s guide to Life and Love

  • By Patrice Hannon
  • Published by Penguin
  • 176 pages, paperback and e-book
  • USA $12.00

Dear Jane Austen: A heroine’s guide to Life and Love reads like an imaginative term paper. It is full of literary insight and examples from Austen’s collective works to support Hannon’s main tenants. While the style makes this a somewhat dry read, Hannon succeeds in infusing the book with Austen’s stylized wit.

Unlike Austen’s novels, narrated from the third person point of view, this book is narrated from the first person, in Jane Austen’s own voice. In this fantastic tale, Jane answers letters from 21st century women, giving them advise on being proper Austen heroines today.

While the book itself may not appeal to the masses, the 23 “Saysisms”, or Heroine lessons, embodied therein are essential for every modern Heroine. Here are some examples.

Jane Austen Says:

  • When a Heroine is satisfied that she has exercised judgement with clear vision, moral principle and common sense, she need not acquiesce to opposing viewpoints.
  • A Heroine needs good friends as much as she needs a Hero.
  • A Heroine seeking marriage does not live with a Hero until he is her husband.
  • In a good marriage, husband and wife bring out the best in each other.

It is my hope that Hannon and Penguin extend the reach of these “Saysisms” by creating a coffee-table book where each -ism is illistrated by a piece of beautiful artwork celebrating the stories of Jane Austen. That book would make a beautiful gift for any Jane Austen fan.