Friday, August 31, 2012

Night Flight by Diane & David Munson

Title:  Night Flight
Author:  Diane & David Munson
Pages:  224
Year:  2012
Publishers:  Micah House Media
Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988
Guest reviewer:  Tim Johnson
The story starts out with this girl and her father driving home from grocery shopping. The girl is 16-year-old Glenna Rider.  She and her brother Gregg and their family have adopted an old dog named Blaze.  They soon discover that he’s a retired search dog for Homeland Security; trained to smell out money being smuggled for drug cartels and other crime or terrorist organizations. When Blaze sniffs out illegal money in a warehouse, the Rider kids alert authorities, who then arrest the criminals.  As the trial is being scheduled, the Rider family visits Florida to spend Christmas with Glenna and Gregg’s grandparents.  While they are there, a friend named Mason develops a type of cancer called leukemia and needs a bone transplant at a cost of $200,000.  In order to raise the money, Glenna, Gregg, and Blaze work together to catch criminals to receive rewards and fund Mason’s surgery.  Many interesting things happen during their adventures such as meeting a homeless girl named Krystal whose mother is suspected of being kidnapped and sold off to Columbians.  Glenna and the Rider family are praying for God to help Mason and Krystal. Will God answer their prayers?  Will the Rider kids learn what type of work their father does?
Rating:  4 out of 5 stars.
Main characters:  Glenna Rider, 16-year-old girl learning how to drive.  She gets anxious unless Blaze is with her.  She likes having adventures and has great faith in God, always praying to Him and thanking Him for His blessings.
Gregg Rider, 13-year-old boy whose hobby is to look for valuable metal objects with a metal detector he named Klondike.  Like his sister, he likes having adventures. He runs like crazy when really mean people threaten him.  He believes in God, but doesn’t pray to Him much.
Julia Rider, mother of Glenna and Gregg.  She worries a lot about her kids and husband getting into dangerous situations, but she loves them very much.
Bo Rider, father of Glenna and Gregg Rider and husband to Julia Rider.  He’s away from his family a lot in the story, working a mysterious job that takes him to places far from home.  His kids suspect he is a spy working for the government.
Sheryl and “Buck”, aka Grandma and Grandpa, are grandparents to Glenna and Gregg and mother and father to Julia.  They love their family very much and like to spend a lot of time with them.
Mason Lockridge, the friend who develops leukemia.  He’s a football player and surfs a lot on the internet.
Eva Montanna, ICE agent and mother of two kids, Kaley and Andy. She is a friend to the Riders and arrests criminals printing illegal money.
Krystal, homeless child abandoned by her mother who is addicted to cocaine and crack (illegal drugs).  She’s brought in to live with the Riders temporarily, and she helps them catch the criminals she believes are responsible for selling her mother to Columbians and selling drugs.
The authors:
Diane and David Munson are a married, Ex-Fed team who have written several adult, family, and suspense thriller books that are pretty much based on the type of work that they did when they were federal agents.  David worked for the NCIS and DEA, and Diane worked as an attorney and Federal prosecutor as well as serving in the U. S. Department of Justice.  They currently travel a lot and write stories as well as thank God for the many blessings of family and friends He has given them.
I liked the story and highly recommend it because it shows what people do when working for Federal agencies such as the FBI to protect our country and its citizens.  I liked the story also because it shows, in my opinion, what God can do for Federal agents like the authors who put great faith in Him like when they ask Him to bring them home to their families and keep their country safe.  Of course, not everyone comes home like that; many have paid the ultimate price for our country’s freedom.  Because of that, I’m proud of them and I thank God for giving them the courage and dedication to make such sacrifices for our country and their loved ones.  My thanks also goes to the operatives currently working for the CIA, FBI, DEA, and all other crime and terrorist-fighting organizations.  Amen and may God keep you safe.

Nonfiction: The Searchers

Title:  The Searchers
Author:  Joseph Loconte
Pages:  207
Year:  2012
Publisher:  Thomas Nelson
Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988

The Searchers is a nonfiction book supposedly following the two men on the road to Emmaus after the crucifixion of Christ.  The author has a background in journalism and history.  He seems to have a wide variety of knowledge in history and modern entertainment that he puts to use in this book.
Each chapter begins with a portion of the text of this event taken from the Bible in the book of Luke.  This is followed by a scene from a movie or a few short paragraphs of an event from history.  Then, the author begins the exploration of the portion of text from the book of Luke.  However, instead of exploring Scripture, the reader is introduced to a host of other subjects ranging from Elvis, Darwin, Isaac Newton, a freak car accident, John Lennon, and a brief look at a time in history of the country of Turkey.  This list is by no means inclusive.  There are a lot of other tangents presented by the author that do not seem to have a lot to do with the subject of the book.
There is a brief “Preface” at the beginning that sets the stage for what I thought the book was to be about very nicely.  The book also includes an extensive “Note” section at the end, citing the sources of the content of the many tangents.  The chapters are long, and I found them difficult to read and follow.  There seems to be so much jumping from one place to another it was hard to find my way to what the chapter was supposed to be about.
The author did make some valid statements about how, over time, God is being taken out of the scientific quest, the poison of “religion”, and Christian hypocrisy.  However, I did find a tendency to put all Christians or Christian leaders in the same boat.  While there are examples of Christian hypocrites, there are also many Christians who are not hypocrites.
All-in-all, I found this book to not be one of my favorites.  Maybe the author uses so many modern references to try and draw in non-believers or younger readers.  I do not know the author’s intent.  I was left searching for a uniform, cohesive explanation as to why this event is Scripture is so important.
My rating is 2 stars.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

House of Mercy

Title:  House of Mercy
Author:  Erin Healy
Pages:  384
Year:  2012
Publishers:  Thomas Nelson
Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988
                As I was beginning this book, like all other books I read, I was wondering what the point of the story is.  What is it that an author is trying to communicate to his/her audience?  We readers, reviewers or bloggers are part of that audience and we are as varied in our opinions as authors are when they write a story.  Have you read about a particular event in history in a novel by one author, and then found another author who wrote fiction based on the same event, but the stories are vastly different?  The more authors I am getting to know and books I am reading, the more my eyes are opened to the variety of stories published.
                House of Mercy is a novel that actually captured my attention by the picture of a horse running free at the beginning of a new day.  As the story begins we find a family running a nonprofit ranch for the glory of God.  The name of the ranch is the Blazing B, which has been in the family for five generations.  Abel is the father of three children with his wife Rose.  Were there other children?  The men working on the ranch seem to Beth to have been there since she was born.  Her older brother, Levi, dislikes her immensely as well as the way his father runs the ranch.  Levi wants it to be profitable instead of working long hours for what he considers nonsense reasons.  Beth’s younger brother, Danny, is tenderhearted like their Dad and is closer to Beth than Levi.
                Thoroughbred horses are being boarded temporarily at a nearby ranch.  Beth takes a saddle from a ranch hand so a family can try and save their horse by selling the silver on the saddle.  There is a gift of healing that runs in Beth, but where did the gift come from?  Roses’ dad returns to her life, yet you wouldn’t believe how it comes to be!  Many will read this well-told story and get out of it different ideas or themes, liking the fictional story or not.  I came away with an understanding of the God who knows my name for real.  Through all that the characters experience, one theme presents itself strongly:   God knows us well.  His goodness comes in ways we may never understand or be able to explain.  Our ways of “fixing” wrongs in our lives aren’t necessarily His.  Why?  I believe as the author paints the picture through this novel that His ways include more than we will ever comprehend.
                What will grab your heart and mind as you read it?  Well, the only way to answer that question is to read this for yourself and find out!
My rating is 4 ½ stars.

The Choice

Title:  The Choice
Author:  Robert Whitlow
Pages:  432
Year:  2012
Publisher:  Thomas Nelson
Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988
                This novel is broken in two major parts:  Part one takes place beginning in the year 1974, and part two jumps ahead into the year 2008.  In the first part of the story, we meet a teenager named Sandy who becomes pregnant, facing a multitude of decisions.  The second half of the novel opens on a courtroom scene where a young man named Dusty Abernathy is battling with his ex-wife about money.  While Dusty has been given good legal advice by his peers before his marriage, Dusty is not acting on it and this is now going to cost him more than he knows.
                In the first part of this work of fiction, we begin to see the multitude of choices presented to Sandy and her parents regarding the pregnancy.  Aunt Linda is her mother’s unmarried sister who opens her home t o Sandy as well as makes it possible for Sandy to continue her education and graduate from high school.  Sandy learns through many other characters that her choice for the outcome of her pregnancy is her decision.  Her family is very supportive.  The school she attends until a month before the birth helps her continue her education without interruption.  Sandy chooses not to abort the baby, which leaves only adoption or raising the baby as her other choices.  The father wants nothing to do with Sandy now, but what was he advocating her to do about the pregnancy?
                In the part two of the story, it is 2008 and we see Sandy has returned as an English teacher at Rutland High School, which is where Sandy attended before she became pregnant.  Sandy is more than an excellent English teacher.  Many students look to her because of her caring heart.  The ability to speak Spanish fluently helps a lot too as the school has widened its minority base from the days when Sandy was a student.  At the beginning of the school year, all teachers have been directed by the principal to send students in trouble directly to the counselors.  Will that rule show itself to be challenging to Sandy in ways that cause her to make yet again another choice?
                Maria is a teenager who looks to Sandy to guide her through the many decisions to be made now that she is pregnant.  Carol, being the school counselor, is pushing Maria down a path Maria isn’t sure she wants to choose.  Dr. Vale, the principal, is pressuring Sandy to stay out of the situation altogether and let Carol do her job.  Now, a lawyer for Maria is involved to help her and chooses to do so at no cost.  Is there a possible connection between Sandy and Jeremy Lane?  Will the school counselor consider the word “choice” to mean only one thing?  What about Dusty Abernathy’s situation as a lawyer who now is in Atlanta to focus on one set of possible cases?
                There is more to the story than meets the eye.  It grabs the heart of a reader right out of the gate.  At the end of the novel, Robert Whitlow shares his reason for writing this novel and his perspective of the word “choice”.  A magnificent work of fiction dealing with a real social issue people face today is one reason I highly recommend reading The Choice.  The other reason is because the writer’s characters present views and choices that make readers think.  Purchase a copy, read it from cover to cover, and enjoy the multifaceted storyline!
My rating is 5 stars.

The Haven

Title:  The Haven
Author:  Suzanne Woods Fisher
Pages:  314
Year:  2012
Publisher:  Revell
Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988
                Over the winter, Sadie Lapp has been in Ohio to help her sister and husband settle into their home.  When Sadie returns, unannounced, it is with a baby boy in tow.  In her Amish village, they hear about the baby and assume that is why Sadie has been gone all winter.  The real story of how Sadie came home with this little one has yet to be told outside the Lapp household.
                Amos is the father of Sadie.  He has had a heart transplant and takes many pills daily to keep his body from rejecting the new heart.  The heart belonged to his young son, Menno, who loved to watch and keep a diary of sorts of all the finds on the Lapp ranch.  Since his passing, Fern has lived there to take care of Amos and the household as well as the children.
                Gideon has become the local school teacher under compulsion because no one else can take the regular teacher’s place until she has healed.  Gid, as he is fondly called by some, has wanted to marry Sadie for many years.  When she went to Ohio he thought all was lost.  Now she is home, but with a baby?  Regardless of who the father is, in his mind, he believes he will forgive and marry Sadie to stop the town gossip.  What is it that Gideon doesn’t know? 
                There is a pair of rare falcons that decide to nest on the Lapp farm.  Since they are known by the Audubon Society, the game warden decides to protect the pair of falcons.  How does he do this?  Will Stoltz is the game warden’s assistant who comes to live on the Lapp farm in an old cabin to help protect the birds.  He is there because of the flack his boss got from a prior incident.  Will though is there for far more mysterious reasons than the Lapp family knows.  There is hope for Will while he lives among these simple people and is introduced into the lives of a family he never had growing up.  Will receives calls on his cell phone demanding updates.  Who wants updates and why?
                M.K., Mary Kate, is Sadie’s younger sister who fancies herself a detective of sorts because of what she learns as she reads books.  Mary Kate loves to tell others about anyone as well as any event that happens without thinking of the possible consequences to her sharing of events.
There is more to this work of fiction than I have revealed in this review.  I hope you take time to enjoy this book.  To say the least, there is much activity and mystery that occurs in The Haven.  Suzanne Woods Fisher does a wonderful job weaving a story that will keep readers turning page after page until the last one is turned. 
My rating is 4 stars.