Friday, March 27, 2015

Gabriel's Atonement by Vicki McDonough

Title:  Gabriel’s Atonement (Land Rush Dreams #1)
Author:  Vickie McDonough
Pages:  ebook
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Shiloh Run
Gabriel Coulter is a farm boy turned gambler who makes his living taking money from cowboys who visit the local Kansas City saloon.  He has never given a thought to those family members of the cowboys who were depending on the money lost at the gaming tables.  While walking home one evening, he is ambushed and kills someone.  He learns of a young widow and boy left behind and decides to help them anonymously if possible.  He thinks this will atone for the life he has taken.
Lara Talbot is barely surviving on the meager income she makes mending clothes.  Her young son, grandfather and sister all live off of what she earns.  She knows her husband likes to gamble and is grateful she hasn’t seen him in the last year.  Her grandfather tries to help as much as he is able, but suffers from frequent spells of malaria he contracted during the Civil War.  Lara’s sister helps grudgingly by doing as few chores as possible and is resentful of Lara, thinking she is too bossy.  Lara works herself ragged and often does without so her family has more.  Then she learns they have been evicted from their rental home, forcing them to take part in the Oklahoma land grab.  Along the way, Gabe is a constant presence and soon she falls in love with him.
The story didn’t have a lot of tension or suspense to build up to a climax, so the ending fell flat.  The story plodded along slowly, although the part where Lara was getting ready to ride out to stake a land claim was well done.  I did like Lara’s grandpa and his unwavering faith in God and in His provision no matter how dire circumstances appeared.  The next book in the series, Joline’s Redemption, is due to be released in the fall of this year.
My rating is 3 stars.

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Petticoat Detective by Margaret Brownley

Title:  Petticoat Detective (Undercover Ladies #1)
Author:  Margaret Brownley
Pages:  318
Year:  2014
Publisher:  Shiloh Run Press
Jennifer Layne is a Pinkerton Detective who has been assigned a case that involves her working undercover in a brothel.  Jennifer is a young, pretty, Christian lady so this assignment is especially difficult as she is required to keep her personal beliefs to herself or she will blow her cover.  She is on the trail of a bandit who has robbed several banks and in his last robbery killed a guard.  Some of the money from the most recent bank job was found on the body of Dave Colton.  Also one of the girls in the brothel deposited a large sum in her account with some of the marked money from the bank robbery.  Tom Colton, Dave’s brother, has come to town to clear his brother’s name and find his murderer.  Dave had indicated he was going to marry Rose, one of the working girls at the local brothel, but before Tom can find the girl she is killed.  Tom meets Jennifer at the brothel, hires her to spy for him and they work together to try to solve the case and bring a criminal to justice.
While there isn’t much tension or action in the story, there are some good life lessons put forth.  One of those lessons is to not judge people by their appearance.  The author did a very good job of depicting the life of a shunned person, the humiliation felt, the despair and hopelessness experienced, and the most violent offenders or perpetrators of inducing these feelings in the story were supposed Christians!  There were a few Christians in the story who realized their actions were not hand-in-hand with their words and began to draw alongside what most in the community might think of as “undesirables”.  There were a couple of humorous scenes as well.  The story just didn’t have enough strength to grab my attention and keep me fully engaged.  There is another book in the series due to be released this summer, and I plan on reading that book in hopes of more action.
My rating is 3 stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

At Any Cost by Lauren Nichols (Love Inspired Suspense)

Title:  At Any Cost (Love Inspired Suspense)
Author:  Lauren Nichols
Pages:  288
Year:  2012
Publisher:  Love Inspired
This is a very riveting, tense-filled story about Jenna Harper who fears her past is once again encroaching upon her present.  Jenna now runs a B & B with her aunt whom she holds dear.  While renovating the home, Jenna meets Beau who brings an uncanny sense of security when he is working.  Both Jenna and Beau knew each other years ago.  Living in a small town, the gossip mill constantly cranks out stories whether true or not.
Jenna’s character is a faith-filled woman who treasures family and her two girlfriends she has known since they were kids.  After surviving a vicious attack in the past, it takes lots of work not to let her imagination run wild.  I really enjoyed Jenna’s aunt in the story as this elderly woman is compassionate, a prayer warrior and dresses up in Victorian dresses, which is the same era in which the home was built.  Jenna gathers a lot of strength and compassion from this elderly woman.  Both Jenna and Beau have their hearts guarded from being hurt due to their past dating encounters.  I loved the story being centered on Jenna and the tension that is very palpable all the way through the book.  A great tale to curl up with and enjoy with your favorite hot drink!
My rating is 5 stars.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Transforming Bible Study

Title:  Transforming Bible Study (Understanding God’s Word Like You’ve Never Read it Before)
Author:  Bob Grahmann
Pages:  144
Year:  2003
Publisher:  IVP Connect (Inter-Varsity Press)
Decades back, the Lord led me to a campus group called Inter-Varsity where I met many people, but more importantly learned more about the Word.  One of the many facets of the group was learning to have quiet times alone with a Bible, pen, notebook and an open listening heart.  This is a way to glean more from the Word than any other way I have come across thus far with only one exception.  The manuscript study was new to me then and still lights a fire in my heart years later.  In the manuscript study, you read the word without anything else on the page, no paragraphs, titles, numbers, commentary just the Word!
Kay Arthur’s Precepts is a more involved, in-depth and expanded view, in my opinion, of the manuscript study.  The benefit of manuscript study is the in-depth treasures a person gleans that are really beyond description as it blows away all sorts of preconceived teachings or assumptions.  A word of warning though the in-depth manuscript study will ruin you for the packaged study.  I use other study guides once in a while, but 95% of the time it is in correlation with a manuscript study.
The whole purpose of manuscript study is to spend time in the Word with the Lord and hearing Him speak to you personally.  Reading from the Bible daily is wonderful, studying in a group 1-to-1 is beneficial no doubt about it as I can personally testify.  However, if you want to grow in the Lord, make time to do so.  I promise you will never regret making the decision!  The book gives helpful suggestions as to the “how” of the study and “why” with the author sharing his testimony of being transformed via Bible study and trust me the Word transforms.  I read the book looking to ignite the fire brighter in my own time with the Lord and in my life.  My sons have learned this approach as well because it is unequaled to any other way of drawing near to the Lord and having Him draw near to them and myself.
My rating is 4 stars.

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