Friday, February 27, 2015

The Trouble with Patience



Title:  The Trouble with Patience (Virtues and Vices of the Old West #1)
Author:  Maggie Brendan
Pages:  330
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Revell
Jedediah Jones is the marshal in Nevada City, Montana in the year 1866. There are a lot of miners in town due to the gold found nearby.  He has a big secret in his past that he hopes Patience never discovers, but he has made his peace with God about it and is trying to be a better man.  He is irritated with Patience when first they meet, but slowly realizes she is a very special woman and one he wants to get to know better.  She makes him want to be a more godly man and gives him insight or advice when he most needs it.  She also encourages him as their friendship deepens.
Patience Cavanaugh has recently moved to Nevada City to take over the run down boardinghouse left to her by her grandmother.  Patience will do just about anything to escape her controlling mother, so setting out by herself for a gold mining town seems like an adventure.  She has God at the center of her life, but that doesn’t mean she won’t have trials and troubles.  One of those trials initially is Jedediah Jones.  He is rude, brash and somewhat standoffish.  Patience has more run-ins with the marshal and discovers that she perhaps made a hasty judgment about him.  She begins to want to spend more and more time with him and thinks about him often.  Is this the man God wants for her?
This is a gentle romantic story that also has themes of betrayal, vengeance, forgiveness, love, mercy and compassion.  I really liked Patience’s focus on God throughout the entire story.  She reads her Bible every night and writes her thoughts down about what God is showing her or teaching her.  She guides some of those she comes in contact with toward God and His forgiveness.  Reading this heartwarming novel is a great way to spend an afternoon.  I look forward to the next novel in the series.
My rating is 4 stars.
Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/.  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Donn Taylor's: Lightning on a Quiet Night



Title:  Lightning on a Quiet Night
Author:  Donn Taylor
Website: http://www.donntaylor.com/
Pages:  330
Year:  2014
Publisher:   Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas
Donn Taylor brings to his audience a captivating mystery set in a small town named Beneficent in the mid-1940s and early 50s.  A widower working for a chemical company moves into town with his grown daughter to oversee the building of plant.  Stephen and Lisa Kemper feel like outsiders who work hard to be accepted by the small town.  Lisa is still considering what she will choose for her graduate degree while living with her father as he adjusts to a different normal.
Lisa meets Jack who is a farmer and a former serviceman, but instantly forms a dislike for him due to his utopia view of the town.  Many other characters living in the town aren’t just unique; they have secrets.  While most in the town attend the local church, Lisa senses they aren’t really paying attention to the sermons.  The whole town tends is self-sufficient and above others until an unknown receipt is discovered that climactically brings clear and present danger to Jack, Lisa and the small town.
This is a small town whose main challenge is speeding and boot-legging.  Now, there is a murder, which everyone believes it is the work of an outsider.  Wait until you unearth the reason for such a deep rooted belief by the townspeople.  No matter which of the characters sticks out to you, the message for everyone becomes obvious along with the challenge to be authentic.  I also came away from Donn’s work of fiction seeing that no one is immune from pain and all have the capability to make choices.  The choice I saw was how people could live life on past accomplishments, heartaches and/or failure or they could look up to God who knows them best.  So, in a way, the fictional world in the book reaches the real world by reminding us that God loves, knows, forgives and restores anyone willing to draw near to Him.  Lightening on a Quiet Night is the second novel of Donn’s that I have read, and if you have not had the pleasure of perusing his work, may I suggest strongly you do!  You won’t regret the choice!
My rating is 5+ stars.
Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/ .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457

Meet Author Donn Taylor



Author Donn Taylor 2015

1.        What is the reason you write books?
           For whatever reason, I'm just driven to do it. Yes, I would like readers to find a message in my books, and I'd like them to read with pleasure. But if those considerations were inoperative, I would still have to write. It seems to be part of my DNA. Some of my poetry has never come out of my study, but it has served its purpose because I got the words onto the paper.
2.       Is there a vision or hope you have when people read your novels?
          To be honest, I'm kind of hard-nosed on this. If a reader wants a message with proofs, he should read scholarly nonfiction. Fiction proves nothing. Beyond entertaining, it can only illustrate or inspire. But in my novels I invite readers to see the world as I see it, a continuing conflict of good and evil in which the individual strives for the good, makes mistakes, fails, and keeps on striving, redeemed in the end not by his own efforts but by God's grace. I find that an inspiring vision. There is always hope, but the ultimate hope lies beyond this world.
3.       Where were the concept, characters and plot for Lightning on a Quiet Night birthed?
                Odd that setting came first. My parents moved to Northeast Mississippi when I was seventeen, and I quickly came to appreciate the region's forested hills and its small, fertile valleys. I also appreciated the people—the small-town storekeepers, bankers, and farmers. I began with the idea of bringing in an outsider who has to learn what makes the local people tick. A romance seemed the natural way to develop that kind of dialogue. I'd like to say the Lord took over then, but that would be presumptuous. What I'm sure of is that, as I wrote, the story deepened and broadened to become something I hadn't imagined when I began: It became more than a small town trying to justify itself. It became a town of nice people grappling with the problem of pride in a world that remains fallen in spite of all that humans can do.
4.       Are there some life experiences which influence your writing?
Yes. On a surface level, my Army experience governed the flight scenes in The Lazarus File and the ground combat scenes in that novel and Deadly Additive. My years as a professor are reflected, remotely, in the campus environment of Rhapsody in Red. (But I would never represent any place or person directly in fiction because that isn't playing fair.) At a deeper level, I write about the kind of people I admire, people who persevere for the greater good when the deck is stacked against them and (as in Lazarus) even when they are betrayed by their own government. And through all of this, the Christian worldview dominates because, ultimately, I've found that it's the only one that answers the basic questions about life.
5.       Congratulations on being married for 61 years!  Can you share some words of wisdom that may help others reach this outstanding moment?
Yes, Mildred and I made it through 61 years, seven months, and four days of marriage before the Lord called her home. (She fought an eight year battle with ovarian cancer.) The words of wisdom came from my parents. Mildred and I thought they made sense, so we adopted them as our practice. Regarding the inevitable disagreements, we agreed never to speak to each other in emotion, but to wait till the emotion subsided and talk out the disagreement in rational discussion. We never quarreled, both through the practice of that rule and because neither one of us could stand to hurt the other.
6.       Do you have children or grandchildren? Share anything about them you like.
              Four children, eight grandchildren. We have it all covered with the children and their spouses: We have an engineer to build it, a CPA to cost it, an Air force officer to defend it, three lawyers for the legal implications, and a liberal arts major to say what it means.
7.       First, thank you for your service to this nation.  Second, care to share what you did in the service and what you drew from those experiences?
              I led an Infantry rifle platoon in the last months of the Korean War. Later, I completed Army flight training and instructed in tactical flying at The Army Aviation School. My most pleasurable assignment was command of an Army aviation company in Europe. In Vietnam I worked with air reconnaissance and continued with that in Europe afterward. All of this was unspectacular but satisfying. The most important thing I drew from these experiences was that "The commander is responsible for everything that happens or fails to happen in his command." That is the rule I have adopted for my own life. I am responsible, regardless of the circumstances. Needless to say, I'm often disappointed with myself.
8.       For me this is the second novel of yours I have read and thoroughly enjoyed.  I also saw a strong message in Lightning on a Quiet Night, what is the overall message you're putting forth for readers to examine or consider?
              It is best summarized in the novel's two headnotes. From Ezekiel 33:12: "The righteousness of the righteous man will not deliver him in the day of his transgression." No amount of prior virtuous conduct can justify us when we sin. (Only Christ's sacrifice can do that.) And from Shakespeare: "'Tis mad idolatry/ To make the service greater than the god." Although doing virtuous deeds is good, we can concentrate on those to the point that they become more important to us than the God who created virtue.
9.       Are you working on another project or something else?
              I've completed a sequel to Rhapsody in Red and begun a sequel to the sequel. There are a few other concepts bouncing around in my head like loose screws, but it's too early to try describing them.
        Do you have any hobbies or favorite things to do?
              In my younger years I loved competitive basketball and distance running. Later, Mildred and I enjoyed traveling, particularly in mountains. In recent years we settled for classic movies, though now I'm reduced mostly to reading. Studying Cold War history has been a favorite.
 Your novels aren’t just from one genre which I like and thought interesting.  Is there a particular way you brainstorm story ideas?  Does your wife assist in anyway?
              Regarding the three different genres, I just wrote what I felt compelled to write. Yes, Mildred and I talked extensively during the writing of my published novels. Actually, she came up with some of "my" best lines, particularly in Lazarus. She did much of the research behind Lightning. In absence, she still guides me, as I will not write anything that she would find offensive. (That doesn't mean I won't tackle tough subjects. It just means that I'll always be on The Side of the Angels.)
        Do you have a message on your heart to share with people?

              We live in a fallen world in which human perfection is not possible. Most of the world remains in the savagery that was world-wide in the time of Christ. But Christ said, "My Father is working until now, and I myself am working" (John 5:17). Through Their work, Christendom (and Christendom alone) has slowly, very slowly, risen above that state of savagery to the condition we now call civilized. This Christian civilization is always under attack from without and within. It is our duty as Christian warriors to engage in that constant spiritual warfare. As individuals, we may lose many of our tactical skirmishes. But through all of this we know without doubt Who wins the final battle. This gives us joy even in our darkest personal hours.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

By Your Side by Candace Clavert




Title:  By Your Side (Crisis Team #1)
Author:  Candace Calvert
Website:  http://www.candacecalvert.com/
Pages:  384
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Tyndale
A threat looms on the horizon.  Nobody can see him, but they know he is there.  Every time they stick their heads up they hear a shot.  A truck sideswipes a van.  When a nurse races to get there to help with any injured, there is a man with a BMW who thinks he is more important than the officer questioning him.  Add a compassionate ER nurse and a police officer who is taking care of his mother while his dad is in Alaska and what do you have?  A tale that keeps you turning pages long after the sun sets.
This was my first time reading Candace Calvert’s novels and this one is a thriller!  Romance blossoming along with lives constantly being threatened are just two of the ingredients that serve up a compelling story.  The characters that are searching to understand God when life throws some painful experiences seem all too real.  I love when characters are allowed to ask hard questions, face dangerous situations and finally come to the end of themselves and decide to consider God.
Plus I love how friendships are birthed and tested by fire.  The scenery described is amazing!  Throughout the novel, faith is a consistent and constant theme from the beginning till end.  How faith develops or grows is beautifully developed in the novel as well as how life’s trials can be handled with or without believing God.
Action, adventure, thrills and chills bring the heart to pounding when reading along with not knowing how the author is going to bring the action to a climax and eventual conclusion.  Candace Calvert is one author I am now going to be reading more and watching for her future books.  The sequel to By Your Side is titled, Step by Step and is due to be released in the spring of 2016.
My rating is 5+ stars.
Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/.  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457