Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Big Sky Christmas

Title:  A Big Sky Christmas
Author:  William W. Johnstone with J. A. Johnstone
Pages:  416
Year:  2013
Publisher:  Pinnacle
J. A. Johnstone has authored, The Big Sky Christmas, with as much heart as the previous tales titled, A Rocky Mountain Christmas and Lone Star Christmas.  Each novel is thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable with a mix of adventure and romance.  Here, in the latest Christmas book, A Big Sky Christmas, readers are introduced to characters with a true moral or spiritual compass and others with evil intent along with a host of surprises in the story line.
In the fictional tale, Johnstone uses flashback as a way to tell the story of a set of elderly twins and their experiences growing up on a wagon train bound for Montana.  McAllister is a mountain man whose years were originally filled with locating those who took the life of his beloved wife Katie.  When a brawl causes the original wagon master to sit this trip out, McAllister feels duty-bound to lead them safely to their new homesteads before the harsh winter snows begin.
Each page is filled with action, adventure, danger, romance and more that will keep the audience entertained for hours in the setting of the Old West.  Time flew by as I kept reading and seeing the novel’s climax build then come to a place of resolution when all of a sudden the story took off again on another fight to live through more perilous moments.
It was easy to form the picture of the story in my mind.  At times, I felt like I was watching the action play out through the eyes of one player or another.  The risk pioneers took to start new homesteads and raise families is something that intrigues my imagination for hours on end.  I thought it was a brilliant stroke of the author’s pen when an unexpected character from another of the western series appears here in the story.
The gift of family, faith and friends through life’s adventures was the main theme of the whole novel.  Banding together to care for each other, to fight to stay alive and learning new skills for life on the prairie were other added pieces of the tale that kept me reading well into the wee hours of the morning.  No matter when you read this novel, I guarantee it will be time well spent.  I also suggest reading the other two Christmas novels mentioned above as they are unique unto themselves.
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

Monday, December 30, 2013

A Date with Death by Ace Collins (Installment #1)

Title:  A Date with Death (In the President’s Service)
Author:  Ace Collins
Pages:  155 pages
Format:  Electronic
Year:  2013
Publisher:  Elk Lake Publishing
Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book from www.bookfun.org
There are some people who make impressions with their words or phrases, maybe even the sound of their voice.  For example, who would broadcast the following phrase:  “Holy cow!  It’s a home run?”  If you said Harry Carry, who was the broadcaster for Chicago White Sox, your answer was correct!  Ace Collins has made an impression on me with the many works he has authored that reach out and grab the reader’s attention from the first moment one’s eyes are on the page.
In the beginning of a new series, Helen Meeker works for the President of the United Sates in 1942.  The President is Franklin Roosevelt and he has known Helen Meeker her whole life.  Ace Collins begins this story with time running out to locate a woman in order to stay an execution; however, that is not the end of it.  Helen is also trying to locate a spy working for the Nazis who is in a position of passing on confidential and highly damaging secrets.
Her job is one filled with danger, action and using her intellect to find the pieces to puzzles most can’t solve to stop a crime or to stop a spy.  Helen’s faith is at low tide.  When she attends service, her mind is so occupied with her assignments that the service is over before she is aware she is left alone sitting in the pew.
Thus begins a tale that will keep anyone’s attention and hungering for the next installment!  Each month another episode will be sent to your electronic device once you have signed up for a subscription at http://www.bookfunmagazine.com/i/226017.  Subscribers sign up for a cost of $9.95, which gives one-month access to the site or for $60 subscribers get 12 full months’ access to the site that has extras available to subscribers. Leave a response to this post with your email for an opportunity to win a year subscription for free!
My rating of this first installment is 5+ stars.
Note: The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  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

Ace Collins Interview

1.        Being a prolific author, where do you get ideas for your many books?

I literally get them from everywhere! They come from television, from classic radio programs, from everyday conversations to reading history. Whenever the ideas come, I write them down in either logbook or on whatever paper I can find. I have more than fifty church bulletins with book ideas jotted down them. So the ideas come easily, but it is the actual writing that is the tough work.

2.       As busy as you are, what activities help you relax, reenergize or refresh?

Being around college kids, we have two universities in our town, really gets me fired up. I read a lot, restore antiques like jukeboxes and classic cars, I watch college sports (even do play by play for basketball), like to hike and run and we have dogs and cats. Two nights a week my wife and I have date nights.

3.       How long have you been married and do your sons plan to follow in your footsteps?

I have been married thirty-eight years. Kathy is a professor in the education department at Ouachita Baptist University. I doubt either of my sons will end up in this business. For starters they have seen how demanding it is and that would likely scare of them off. Plus it is just not one of their interests. One of our sons has never even read one of my books, so that kind of shows that he is not inclined to follow in my footsteps. The other one reads my novels but has a much different vocational bent.
4.       What writing projects are you currently working on?
Well I am constantly working on the different episodes that are required for the In The President’s Service series. I also have two regular novels, one a romance and the other a comedy whodunit I am writing for Abingdon. I have a devotional book that just came out and we will be doing a sequel to that. I have novel with a legal theme that comes out in 2014 and a nonfiction book on dog heroes. Who knows what else will fall into my lap?
5.       Do you have a favorite classic car?  How did you begin in this hobby?

I have had an old car dating back to the first year of our marriage. Our first two were a 1954 Chevy pickup and a 1941 Ford Club Coupe. The two that I have now, a 1965 Mustang Fastback and a 1934 Auburn 652Y sedan, are very special to me. The Mustang has been in our family for a long time and both of our sons drove it during their high school years. The Auburn is a largely unrestored car that I drive a couple of times a week. To be into its eighth decade it is an amazing vehicle. It runs so well and the art-deco styling is simply perfect. To me it is like rolling sculpture.

6.       What would someone experience if they were to shadow you during a “typical” workday?

I usually edit and rewrite in the morning, as well as do my office work, then in afternoon I actually write. I quit for the day when I burn out. That might be five or it could be two in the morning. In truth, when I am in the writing mode I am rarely aware of the passage of time. I will write a chapter and then rewrite it a few times then move onto the next.  I do break from time to time and when I do I usually listen to a classic radio program from the 1930s or 1940s. The writing in the mysteries and detective shows is so sound, driven and on pace that it inspires me to get back to work.

7.       Do you read or study the Bible daily?

As I write and give a lot of devotionals I have to, but usually the study comes not when I read a selection, but when I am driving or walking. That is when I put what I read into perspective.

8.       What is your favorite time of day for quiet time?

It is whenever I am in my car, so it varies. When I drive I rarely turn the radio on and just kind of tune into my thoughts and search for my calling and the wisdom needed for that day.  When I drive I also think about (pray) for those I know who are struggling

Saturday's Child by Clare Revell

Title:  Saturday’s Child
Author:  Clare Revell
Pages:  322
Year:  2013
Publisher:  White Rose Publishing
Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book from www.bookfun.org
When I began reading this novel, I sensed the story was not going to be what I expected and it was not even close to what I had imagined.  When I was growing up, my mother would tell us the following rhyme by an unknown author:
Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace,
Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go,
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child must work for a living,
But the child that's born on the Sabbath day,
Is fair and wise and good and gay.
Clare Revell has taken this theme and changed it to the following on which each of the novels in this series are individually based:
Monday’s child must hide for protection,
Tuesday’s child tenders direction
Wednesday’s child grieves for his soul
Thursday’s child chases the whole
Friday’s child is a man obsessed
Saturday’s child might be possessed
And Sunday’s child on life’s seas is tossed
Awaiting the Lifeboat that rescues the lost.

Some of the threads that weave this tale are mystery, romance, forgiveness, and spiritual warfare that is seen and felt by various characters.  Meggie is the main female protagonist whose life experiences are at times very hard, but who loves the Lord.  Aaron’s faith has been flat-lining since he lost his wife and unborn child, which he suspects was something other than what the medical examiner concluded.  Currently, Aaron is close to losing his farm because it isn’t generating income which it must according to his father’s will.  What also begins to escalate is some presence which causes items to fly across a room, physical injuries and other uncomfortable happenings especially when Aaron begins to show an interest in Meggie.
What begins to happen in the novel might seem like a horror film or book, but I think the author is attempting to show that there really is a devil.  The demons can do things in the physical realm because the Bible tells us the devil prowls around like a lion seeking to devour.  Normally, if there is anything horror wise on TV, radio or a book, I have to leave the room, turn it off, etc…  This novel didn’t cause any of those reactions because in the end, just like the Bible tells us, Satan is doomed and the Lord has already won the battle.
The novel shows the battle that wages within our hearts and minds with the choice before us of Who to love, worship and follow.  The characters in the story are presented in a way that a reader can actually forget that this is a work of fiction.  Perhaps, too, if we took the spiritual warfare more seriously, we would cling more to the Lord and in earnest pray for those who don’t yet have the Lord as their personal Savior.
In the back of the novel, the author shares a recipe followed by a prayer.  The prayer itself I cannot subscribe to.  While I believe in the Lord and prayer, the author’s prayer isn’t doctrinally or biblically sound.  So, I challenge readers to search the Scriptures and see for themselves if what the author has included is biblically sound or not.  As for the work of fiction, it has some merit and is for the most part well written.
My rating is 3 stars.
Note: The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  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

Sunday, December 29, 2013

His Wounded Heart

Title:  His Wounded Heart
Author:  R. L. Syme
Pages:  218
Year:  2013
Publisher:  White Rose
Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book from www.bookfun.org
His Wounded Heart is a novel to enjoy in an afternoon, filled with romance and more.  A young man disillusioned about God, faith and church is seriously injured.  He is so angry no one person stays to help with the long term care.  Of course, Sean wasn’t helping matters any the way he would treat the help even when his friend took time off to help him with learning; Sean wasn’t willing to bend.  One thing he kept holding onto was his pride….until.
The doctor has been working with him, and since her past heartache, she made a vow to keep a distance from any man who showed her affection.  Jaclyn had a dream shattered too, so she was trying to still fill that longing through obtaining a job to be near her love of sports.
While Jaclyn and Sean are the main human characters, the novel really speaks to the readers about God being the One who loves us.  In the pages, is a reminder of how people view God as watching others whether life is good or hard.  I loved how the truth that the people, the church, can be an instrument of mirroring Him and are also faulty humans.  When Jaclyn shows Sean an example he has never witnessed before, something stirs deep within Sean.
Jaclyn needs God to do a work in her heart too, and she submits to His loving hand.  Here is an example of choosing to let God do work in us, for us and through us.  While pain on the earth won’t last forever, our relationship with Him through Jesus will and it anchors us through the tempests.  During times when we are overwhelmed by our emotions or life experiences even what we see others going through, God speaks still.
His Wounded Heart contained pages that were filled more with God’s romance and love for us than mankind can ever really understand.  He reaches out to us, shows us the way to come to Him, speaks through the Holy Spirit to our hearts or minds; this is what makes God so amazing!  Read and share this wonderful tale with anyone God leads you to, perhaps it will stir their hearts too!
My rating is 5+ stars.
Note: The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  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