Monday, April 30, 2018

God’s Book of Proverbs (Biblical Wisdom Arranged by Topic)

Title:  God’s Book of Proverbs (Biblical Wisdom Arranged by Topic)

Author:  B & H Editorial Staff

Pages:  224

Year:  2018

Publisher:  B & H Books

My rating is 5 out of 5 stars.

This is a very unique way to arrange the Proverbs that are handy to find words of wisdom from the book of Proverbs that focus on many topics.  The Bible version used is the Christian Standard Bible that is very easy to read and helps to meditate on the topic.  Readers are encouraged to be mark key words, and can write notes and thoughts that God brings to mind.

I believe this would be a very useful tool for lay counselors and mentors, pastors, professional counselors and new believers or even seekers of the truth.  The small compact size makes carrying around the book quite handy when a person finds a few minutes or hours to read the Word of God in their daily life.

I am thinking the verses are just a beginning place to start understanding Proverbs by topic, but I hadn’t seen this format done before and found it a handy book to keep close for wisdom.  The book can be given for any reason, to any person close by or sent to someone who lives far away as it encourages and exhorts us to live our lives in a way that brings God glory.

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.”

Friday, April 27, 2018

Storm Front (Montana Rescue #5)

Title:  Storm Front (Montana Rescue #5)

Author:  Susan May Warren

Pages:  336

Year:  2018

Publisher:  Revell

My rating is 5 out of 5 stars.

The astounding thought about this series is that from book one through book five, I have never lost interest.  The author writes exceptionally well as to keep readers like myself wanting more!  Usually, writers keep to stand-alone books or maybe a short series of novels, but here is an author who defies the usual.  Book six will be out later this year to conclude the series.

If you haven’t been aware of the series, here is the order in which they need to be read as it is a continuing story line from book to book.  The titles are Wild Montana Skies, Rescue Me, A Matter of Trust, Troubled Waters, Storm Front and in November 2018 the final installment titled, Wait for Me.

Each novel focuses on a couple of the characters and their unique situations that might conclude in the book or go on to the next one.  In this novel, we see the beginning of the story between Ty and Brette, as well as the unique and climactic conclusion of Ben King and Kacey’s story.  But that isn’t all, each novel has other rescues that are happening by the PEAK team and other people who have been part of the main story since book one.  What really grabbed my attention in the books is how Susan has her various people in the plot that were in the background come to the forefront in a very exciting way!

Each player has unique strengths, weaknesses, struggles with their faith, working well together or leaving the PEAK team, etc.  In one of the books mentioned above, there is still a murderer on the loose.  Now, he has returned to finish what he left undone.  When that moment comes in the story, it will really grab your heart and leave you white-knuckling the book to see how it concludes!

So, if you haven’t read the novels, please start now so you are ready with me for the exciting conclusion to a very enjoyable and hope filled series!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Taken Author: Lisa Harris

Title:  Taken

Author:  Lisa Harris

Pages:  218

Year:  2015

Publisher:  Love Inspired Suspense

My rating is 4 out of 5 stars.

This is a story about a woman whose sister is murdered and niece kidnapped.  Kate Elliott doesn’t live in the city, but out in the “burbs”.  Nothing in her life has prepared her for the sudden death of her sister.  She now is determined to find her niece, but has no idea who is on her side and who might be practicing deception.  She refuses to leave the case in the hands of the authorities and pursues her own agenda to find and rescue her niece.  The police make it known that Kate needs to keep her nose out of the case and leave the investigating to the authorities.  Kate disagrees much to the annoyance of FBI agent Marcus O’Brian.

Kate is able to track her niece to Paris and Marcus, an agent with the FBI, goes with her as he is trying to discover a diamond smuggling ring with military weapons as part of the deal.  Unexpectedly, Kate is grabbed off the street and Marcus rescues her.  A ransom demand is made, but Kate can’t deliver.  Marcus agrees to help Kate due to his experience and connections.  Kate has just lost her sister and she can’t lose her niece too.  Danger abounds for these two everywhere they turn.

This is a fast-paced story with plenty of tension, action and a clean romance.  I liked all the details of the setting, the sites visited in France.  The two main characters interact well together and the romance was believable.  The twisting plot held my interest from page one to the exciting ending.  I am a fan of the writing of Lisa Harris and have read several of her other novels, which are also definitely worth reading.  The Love Inspired Suspense stories are great for quick reads on rainy days or sitting out in the sunshine on a spring day!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

A Loyal Heart

Title:  A Loyal Heart

Author:  Jody Hedlund

Pages:  305

Year:  2018

Publisher:  Northern Lights Press

My rating is 5 out of 5 stars.

This is another wonderful medieval romance with knights, castles and a damsel in distress.  Okay, so maybe this damsel courts distress as she is adept at wielding a sword and wearing armor and enjoys a good fight.  Lady Olivia is the oldest of three children and her father is an earl.  Her father has always preached that loyalty to family comes first.  As a young child, Olivia held her father’s favor and love in her view.  When her baby brother was born, her father spent less and less time with her.  Olivia felt the loss keenly.  Now, her father is living at another of his homes while Olivia and her younger sister Isabelle live at Ludlow Castle.  With her father away, the castle is vulnerable to attack.  Lord Pitt attacks the castle because her father has not paid a debt Olivia thinks, so she and Isabelle are captured and held for ransom.  Instead of sending a ransom, her father secretly sends her a note to steal a valuable relic in Lord Pitt’s possession.  Olivia knows if she can do this, she will earn his love.  The only problem is the handsome knight who captured her refuses to leave her side for fear she will try to escape.

Aldric of Windsor has captured Lady Olivia and taken possession of her castle’s wealth.  He is plagued with her constant escape attempts on the journey back to Lord Pitt’s land.  She has skill with a sword he learns, but she is also fiercely protective of her younger sister.  When they arrive at Lord Pitt’s, Aldric secretly keeps an eye on Olivia and knows she is searching for something as they await the ransom payment.  Aldric doesn’t know that the ransom payment won’t be arriving.  Lady Olivia is feisty and strong-willed.  She won’t act the docile lady for anyone.  She challenges him at every turn.  He is captured by her beauty and spirit, but he can’t release himself from the guilt of his past to free his heart.  Besides, she would never be interested in him, right?

I have read most of these stories set it the medieval times and thoroughly loved every one of them!  There is a happily ever-after ending to each one, but the journey to get there isn’t easy.  Excitement and tension along with a faith element are involved as well as traits like honesty, honor, respect, determination and much more.  These are quick reads, but packed with great examples of characters to emulate and stories to treasure!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Deadly Additive: A Jeb Sledge Mission

Title:  Deadly Additive:  A Jeb Sledge Mission

Author:  Donn Taylor

Pages:  316

Year:  2012

Publisher:  Harbourlight Books

My rating is 5 out of 5 stars.

Kristin Halvorsen is in the middle of a remote Colombian village in pursuit of the story of her career.  What she finds instead will be the story of her life and may be a life cut short by the guerillas who control the area.  She has seen something she wasn’t supposed to and now she has been kidnapped by said guerillas.  She and her friend from college, a rich daughter of a powerful businessman, have traveled to Colombia together and now her friend’s father must pay a large ransom to free them.  What happens next, they don’t expect and soon they are fleeing for their lives in the dense countryside of remote Colombia where whoever has the most guns wins.  Can she make it back to civilization to tell the world her story?

Jeb Sledge is an independent contractor who performs tasks or missions for people with money who can afford his services and need things done quickly.  He is a former soldier and is looking to retire after this last mission to listen to soft music, read books and maybe be trained as a PI.  He is determined, battle ready and a high success rate on his missions.  He thinks this mission is over once he makes a delivery to his current boss, but soon discovers there is much more going on.  He is pulled in again to another aspect of his first mission and then thinks he is finished, but he isn’t.  Now, he is tasked with tracking down a chemical weapons expert and his deadly cargo before it gets in the hands of terrorists.

This is an action-packed, exciting story with espionage, subterfuge, gun fights, kidnapping and more!  I was involved with the characters and their stories throughout the novel and couldn’t wait to turn the next page to see what was going to happen.  Kristin is a woman with a lot of guts and determination.  Sledge is a protector and mission driven former soldier.  Both are trying to fill an emptiness in their lives that can only be filled by the One who made it.  Both realize what they are searching for, but will they have time to find it before they lose their lives?  I liked the character of Roger Brinkman, the former CIA member, who is still active and going strong at work while in his nineties!  I am looking forward to reading more from this author as I like his writing style, story line and plot development.  This is one I thoroughly enjoyed!

Monday, April 23, 2018

My Heart Belongs in Glenwood Springs, Colorado (Millie’s Resolve)

Title:  My Heart Belongs in Glenwood Springs, Colorado (Millie’s Resolve)

Author:  Rebecca Jepson

Pages:  256

Year:  2018

Publisher:  Barbour Books

My rating is 5 out of 5 stars.

Each novel in the “My Heart Belongs” series is a stand-alone with unique tales, characters, faith and romance.  The books in the series are as follows:  My Heart Belongs in Fort Bliss, Texas; My heart Belongs in the Superstition Mountains; My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho; My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island; My Heart Belongs in the Shenandoah Valley; My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah; My Heart Belongs in Niagara Falls, New York; My Heart Belongs in San Francisco, California, with the latest being My Heart Belongs in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

Each book is published by Barbour and written by various talented authors.  Therefore, readers can pick any of the above titles and delve right into a wonderfully captivating story.  I should tell you that two more books will be added to the series this summer and winter.

In the tale I just finished, set in the year 1888, a young lady named Millie is learning how to be a nurse.  Millie believes she has left her past on the East Coast and has come to start afresh in Colorado.  She hopes the pain of the past doesn’t rear its ugly head, but alas it isn’t meant to be or is it?  John Drexler moved his mother from a smoky town to the mountains in hopes she will be more comfortable and less sickly with her asthma.

What neither character sees is that Millie and John might be meant to have a future together.  If Millie can care for his mother without the belittling the woman spews on Millie or if John can keep his brother taking care of his responsibilities without running off and leaving others in a mess.  Here is another book that I thoroughly enjoyed and easily got lost in while pulling for what I hoped would be a perfect ending.

If you are looking for a book with just the right flavor of faith and romance, not too long and not too short, and at the end you sigh with satisfaction, then look no further.  These are books to read, share with others and then grab the next one when it is released.  I hope you can catch up before the last two books are published, but even if not, read and thoroughly enjoy this one!

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.”

The Kremlin Conspiracy

Title:  The Kremlin Conspiracy

Author:  Joel Rosenberg

Pages:  480

Year:  2018

Publisher:  Tyndale

My rating is 5+ out of 5 stars.

For me, Joel Rosenberg’s novels have been not just entertaining thrillers, but also thought provoking!  If you haven’t read any of his writings, you truly are missing an author who weaves threads of various characters’ views along with action, intrigue and mystery to carry the reader away into a world full of suspense!

In the Kremlin Conspiracy, the author slowly introduces readers to the land of Russia, politics, military and the characters who inhabit the story that is beginning to be unveiled.  The story flips from that to what is happening here in America to a man known as Marcus Ryker.  He excels in military engagements and eventually ends up in the Secret Service.  Markus also marries, begins a family and meets a man by the name of Oleg who he crosses paths with later, but I am getting ahead of myself.  Plus, I can’t review everything or what would be left for the reader to discover?

Meanwhile, in Russia, there is man who is so multilayered others around him aren’t sure whether he can be trusted or feared.  President Luganov isn’t just running the country; the man sees himself as a Czar without boundaries and able to rule, manipulate others, get rid of his enemies and so much more.  Each page and turn of action in the book unveils another spiral, twisting further into the darkness of this current man and others who are afraid of him.  Where he is leading Mother Russia might be extremely dangerous and not just for the people of Russia!

Reading Joel’s books is a bitter sweet experience, because I enjoy them so much but know that as soon as I turn the last page, the countdown begins before his next book is published!  The novels are so well researched, written and crafted for people that they are worth the wait every time!  So, before another book comes out, read his novels and then share them with family or friends.  Tell them about these suspense filled, military, political thrillers that are sure to keep people turning pages for hours!

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.”

Friday, April 20, 2018

The Bishop’s Pawn (A Novel)

Title:  The Bishop’s Pawn (A Novel)

Author:  Steve Berry

Pages:  352

Year:  2018

Publisher:  Minotaur Books

My rating is 5 out of 5 stars.

The wonderful joy of reading a story never gets old for me.  In fact, there are many times one can find me scouring online retailers for my next book to read or add to my watchlist.  Steve Berry’s novels are some of the ones I love getting lost in because he takes historical facts and weaves a riveting novel.  At the end of his books, he kindly separates fact from fiction and sometimes I am amazed at what was real when I thought it was fiction.  Sometimes I read the facts of a historical place, event or person and am astounded by what I didn’t know!

Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a man I have admired for a very long time though there is much I am still learning about him, his life and his writings.  Steve Berry portrays J. Edgar Hoover’s actions that involved Rev. King along with some interesting characters.  What makes this Cotton Malone novel unique is that it goes back to the beginning of Cotton’s career with the Magellan Billet, and it is written entirely from Cotton’s point of view.

Cotton Malone was originally a Naval JAG Officer and is suddenly thrust into a world of spies, action, danger and more that he is totally unfamiliar with, and occasionally he remarks how he learned from his first mission’s mistakes.  The author does a supreme job of bringing the reader into the story and keeping them glued to the book all the way till the very surprising ending!

I appreciate the historical facts that Steve beings to his books and readers, as well as the excellent thrills he weaves into a novel.  I was totally unprepared for the ending of the novel let alone how many twists and turns the plot took.  How the author has some characters’ actions have dire consequences makes me wonder where he ever got the idea to write that part of the story.  The author along with his wife visited many of the places mentioned in the story that still exist.  I desire to learn more about Rev. King, Jr. and read his writings.

Don’t miss this novel as it is released near the anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination.  While there are parts of the story based on truth and other parts are fictional, it isn’t based on any conspiracy theories.  When I finished the book, I did think this an event that changed the face of America, politics and life.  I cannot help but wonder what will come next from the pen of Steve Berry.  I hate to wait a year, but I know however long it takes the thrills and suspense are so worth the wait!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Stranded (Military Investigations)

Title:  Stranded (Military Investigations)

Author:  Debby Giusti

Pages:  224

Year:  2015

Publisher:  Love Inspired Suspense

My rating 5 out of 5 stars.

The action and tension starts as soon as the reader opens the book!  The main character is Colleen who is attempting to locate the person responsible for taking her sister’s life.  While driving to meet a woman who says she has corroborating evidence, a dangerous storm is bearing down on the area and somehow the killer has located them both!

Both women are injured, one seriously.  Colleen is stuck in an Amish community that lovingly takes her in while she waits to get her vehicle repaired, if possible.  While there, she meets Special Agent Frank Gallaher who is with the CID, a division in the Army that investigates crimes.  While both are healing and helping care for the Amish who also lost much in the storm, tension between Frank and Colleen grows.  Their feelings for each other are growing, but can they get past their scars from the past to embrace the future before a killer stops Colleen’s actions for good?

This is an excellent novel that you will be able to read in a sitting, and you’ll want others to read it as well!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Plain Danger (Military Investigations)

Title:  Plain Danger (Military Investigations)

Author:  Debby Giusti

Pages:  224

Year:  2016

Publisher:  Love Inspired Suspense

My rating 5 out of 5 stars.

One of the advantages of reading Love Inspired Suspense books, for me, is they are short enough to finish in a day and they are very entertaining to read!  Another advantage is that even when in a series most of them can be read as stand alone.  Debbi Giusti is a new author to me and writes with one foot in the military and another in the Amish community.  Then, she weaves threads of her stories that connect both worlds.

In Plain Danger, the main character, Carrie York, arrives in a small Amish community to meet with her father’s lawyer to inherit a house and land.  The hard part for Carrie is she wasn’t allowed to connect with her father when he was alive, and her mother told her things about her father that are turning out to be lies.  Now, it seems that a killer thinks Carrie possesses a map that is supposed to lead to treasure buried on the land.

CID Agent Tyler Zimmerman is assigned to protect her when it becomes apparent that somehow the threat ties into her fathers’ life of service.  Tyler though isn’t sure he quite trusts Carrie because of the man she works for in Washington as a speech writer.  The past is coming to make both Carrie and Tyler face it with breakneck speed!  On top of that, the face a budding romance that neither of them wants one moment only to possibly desire it the next.

This is a very good thriller!  I love the weaving of Amish and military as Debbie crafts her books, which I highly recommend.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

You Raise Me Up (Live 2017)

Plain Truth (Military Investigations)

Title:  Plain Truth (Military Investigations)

Author:  Debbie Giusti

Pages:  224 (Not large print edition)

Year:  2016

Publisher:  Love Inspired Suspense

My rating is 5 out of 5 stars.

Dr. Ella Jacobsen is a pediatrician who takes good care of her patients and is building trust with the Amish people so she can provide medical care to them.  One night she is checking on a set of twins and a mother when the lights go out.  When she attempts to check on her patients, she’s attacked!  However, she isn’t the only one attacked.

Special Agent Zack Swain is assigned to investigate what happened at the clinic because the other woman attacked is the spouse of a soldier.  When the attacker realizes that the doctor is still around, more attempts are made on her life even when she leaves town to attend a dinner to honor her late husband.  Ella has built a wall around her heart because she doesn’t want to get hurt by falling in love with the wrong man again.  Can she help it when Zack seems to save her life repeatedly?

What about Zack?  Does he feel anything towards her that resembles love?  If Zack can’t catch the killer before they both are permanently put out of action, neither will have the chance to find out.  Where is the missing piece that would allow Zack to apprehend the killer and protect Ella along with her practice?  Here is another fun and fast-paced mystery readers will enjoy!

Grab a copy and sit back for a great ride or adventure awaits!

Monday, April 16, 2018

In Hidden Places

Title:  In Places Hidden (Golden Gate Secrets #1)

Author:  Tracie Peterson

Pages:  316

Year:  2018

Publisher:  Bethany House

My rating is 4 out of 5 stars.

Camrianne Coulter has arrived in San Francisco to find her brother, Caleb, who has been missing for three months.  He is a lawyer for a firm and has successfully defended a poor Irish man charged with murder.  Camri’s parents have been so worried about their son that their health has suffered and they both have been confined to their beds.  Camri discovers that there are very few clues as to what happened to her brother.  She works at a chocolate factory to support her brother’s household while questioning those who last saw her brother.  She also meets the Irish man who was found innocent of murder.  He also is searching for her brother as they both were trying to get proof of corrupt business practices, graft and other criminal activities of a wealthy and ruthless man.  Then, just as they were getting close to bringing their proof to light, Caleb disappears.

Patrick Murdock used to work with his father in the family’s construction business.  His father was approached by some shifty characters to accept some money in exchange for using inferior materials.  His father refused and soon after was found dead.  Patrick knows his father was killed and didn’t have an accident.  He also knows who is responsible, but he must have proof.  He agrees to work with his friend and lawyer, Caleb, to gather evidence.  Then, Caleb vanishes without a trace.  Patrick meets Caleb’s sister and agrees to help her try to discover what happened to her brother.  As they keep digging for the truth, they become more of a target for danger.

The beginning was slow, but it got more interesting.  I liked the setting as well as the three women agreeing to work together to help each other solve their problems.  They pooled their resources to support one another.  I also admired Camri’s ability to look at herself and see how pride and arrogance had been a part of her life without her realizing it.  She was able to admit this and apologize to those she offended.  She also had God as her center.  Patrick had anger toward God due to his circumstances and all that he had lost.  He had distanced himself from God.  He got to a low point and realized he needed God to be back as the focus of his life and not his anger.  Good life lessons for all!

Friday, April 13, 2018

The Escape Artist

Title:  The Escape Artist

Author:  Brad Meltzer

Pages:  434

Year:  2018

Publisher:  Grand Central Publishing

My rating is 5+ out of 5 stars.

When a friend told me about the latest novel that was coming soon written by Brad Meltzer, I quickly read a synopsis found online.  Ok, I was totally hooked!  I just couldn’t wait to read the novel that also has factual data inside the story, making the novel mesmerizing to say the least.  So, when I began reading, I couldn’t see where the connection was to the magic of Harry Houdini.  I plunged ahead and the further into the maze of mystery I explored, I occasionally wondered where the author was taking me.  Yet, by the middle of the book or perhaps sooner, I simply couldn’t put the book down until I was so tired I couldn’t see the words clearly.  The next day, when time allowed, again I opened the book to continue the exciting and thrilling story that was being slowly woven together right before my eyes.  As I went along, I forgot about trying to figure out where I was being led and simply became engrossed in the action taking place.

As I read the last chapter and page, I knew that the wait was worth it!  The author delivered one of his absolute best thrillers in a long time!  While magicians may use slight of hand, Brad uses his pen in the same way throughout each page and through each character.  Sometimes I was taken aback that what I thought was happening wasn’t and/or a totally unanticipated turn in the plot took place.

When you get a copy, be prepared to spend time in pure enjoyment, entertainment, and sharing of knowledge by the tale.  Don’t be surprised if you find yourself wanting your friends or family reading their own copy of the book as soon as possible, because you won’t want to share yours! 😊

Thursday, April 12, 2018

An Amish Heirloom (A Legacy of Love, The Cedar Chest, The Treasured Book, A Midwife’s Dream)

Title:  An Amish Heirloom (A Legacy of Love, The Cedar Chest, The Treasured Book, A Midwife’s Dream)

Author:  Amy Clipston, Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller, Kelly Irwin

Pages:  400

Year:  2018

Publisher:  Zondervan

My rating is 5 out of 5 stars.

Each novella is written to tug the heart of the reader and discussion questions for book clubs or others are included at the end of each story.  The tales are individual and not connected, which makes it fun to read the conclusion of one before starting a brand-new story.

These four ladies are well acquainted with writing stories in this genre.  Some of them I am a great fan of and read every book that is published.  A couple are new to me, so I look forward to reading more of their work.  A Legacy of Love is written by Amy Clipston and her unique style of writing shows us how important it is to follow God rather than knowingly make a wrong choice that would make for hearts filled with misery.  I also enjoyed watching the main character, Leon, learn to love again when he didn’t think it would ever happen.

The Cedar Chest is written by Beth Wiseman.  I enjoyed the tale that reveals God can take past mistakes or current ones and heal the broken hearted.  This is a very touching tale of legacy that unveils to the characters the unknown about themselves or others.  The tale showed how even though some may think no one has ever had hard times in their marriages.  What is cool is how the wisdom gained in the past is shared with the current generation to help build a marriage.

The Treasured Book by Kathleen Fuller tells of a man who is no longer happy in the English world and is searching for something.  One of his interests is books.  Years before he gave a miniature book to a girl as friends, one she treasured and kept with her.  The miniature book was a tiny Bible.  The man must choose how he will live, as an Amish man or English?  Does that include a possible budding romance?

The Midwife’s Dream by Kelly Irwin is the final novella in the collection.  Iris is a midwife who enjoys her work, but her heart wonders if there will ever come a time where what she desires most will be fulfilled.  While her friends are married and Iris is delivering their bundles of blessing, each birth challenges her to thank God for the baby’s safe arrival.  She prays He will bring a special someone to her at the right time.

Grab the book and enjoy each unique novella, and then tell others who might also like to read a good book!

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.”

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Birth of the Church: Matthew, Mark, Luke & Acts (Christian Living Bible Study Series)

Title:  Birth of the Church: Matthew, Mark, Luke & Acts (Christian Living Bible Study Series)

Author:  Trina Bresser Matous

Pages:  306

Year:  2017

Publisher:  Straight Street Books

My rating is 5 out of 5 stars.

In this study, before each of the books of the Bible, the author gives some background information along with an overview.  Following these couple of pages, the audience gets to read a short paragraph and then there are listed a couple of questions.  These can be used for personal quiet time, journaling, small groups or even to begin a discussion.

Bible study books like Trina’s are meant to spur us to further study of God’s Word and to be in daily communication with our Father.  Trina has done an excellent job of researching and putting it in concise and easy language people can digest and meditate on.  Studying the Bible should be a source of wisdom, knowledge and more.  Here is a tool to aid seekers in doing just that plus growing in their relationship with Jesus.

The only desire I have is to see more studies include bibliographies, so seekers can go deeper into any topic that God speaks to their heart.  I would use a study like this, especially with those new to the faith so as not overwhelm them in learning to spend daily time with God.  However, the well written study is for people who desire to ignite their walk with God!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Darkest Hour: How Churchill Brought England Back From the Brink

Title:  Darkest Hour: How Churchill Brought England Back From the Brink

Author:  Anthony McCarten

Pages:  336

Year:  2017

Publisher:  Harper Perennial

My rating 4 out of 5 stars.

What an enigma of a man!  I watched the movie, The Darkest Hour, and was struck by how much I didn’t know about Winston Churchill.  There were references in the movie about Churchill, his father and family that I wondered if they were matters of fact or fiction.  Personally, I agree with the author that Churchill prepared for this moment in history whether he knew it or not.  The man was loved by his wife and people even though others disliked and ignored him.

I found him to be a man who took learning in a school setting with little interest, but in the world as a young man he thirsted for knowledge.  Churchill would have his mother ship books to wherever he was, so he could read and learn.  The amount of writing Winston did is astounding let alone a lot of what he did was written at a young age.  The wealth of insight the man had and heart of a patriot is so deeply touching.

Clemmie, his wife, was a special woman who adored her husband.  This book didn’t talk a lot about his children, though he has many descendants.  There have been many books written about him and by him.  To me, that speaks of man who few can explain easily with a book.  Lord Halifax is definitely a man I wouldn’t have wanted to work with, and frankly Parliament is hard for me to comprehend.

I would recommend this book if you haven’t done much reading about the man Winston Churchill as this is a good place to start.  I found the information easy to understand and written to be very engaging.  I plan on learning more about this unique person.  Here is man Britain had at a time they truly needed him.  He withstood enemies, both within the government and without.  However, looking back we see a man who was brave and brought his nation back from the brink of extinction!

Monday, April 9, 2018

Yuletide Defender

Title:  Yuletide Defender

Author:  Sandra Robbins

Pages:  281 (large print)

Year:  2010

Publisher:  Love Inspired Suspense

My rating is 4 out of 5 stars.

Rachel Long is a reporter for the local newspaper with designs on landing a big story that will propel her up the professional ladder.  She needs this story so she can earn more money.  What most people don’t realize is that the money isn’t for herself, but for her special needs sister.  She has been writing a series of stories on the escalating gang violence between two gangs in the city.  There have been six deaths in the last two months, three from each gang.  However, Rachel has received information from an anonymous inside source that this violence isn’t being perpetrated by the gangs, but rather by a lone vigilante who has his own agenda.

Matt Franklin is a detective with the police force who has been called to the scene of these murders and is working to try to bring justice to the victims.  He is a Christian who volunteers at the city youth center for at-risk teen boys.  Matt comes from a wealthy family, but he downplays that as he wants people to see the man he is not the money or connections his family has.  He meets Rachel at the scene of one of the murders and they strike up a friendship.  Matt asks her on a date, but is wary she is after his money when she mentions she wants to work at a higher paying job than she has now.  As Rachel continues to be fed anonymous information, Matt feels she is putting herself at more and more risk.  He wants her kept safe, but she is determined to follow the story.  Suddenly, Rachel has a target on her back as the vigilante has her in his sights.  What happens next, you’ll have to read about!

I enjoy reading these stories full of suspense, action, love and faith.  Matt has a strong faith that helps him deal with the worst society has to offer sometimes.  He gives of his time to community service to try to improve the lives of young teen boys, which is admirable.  He sets an example of a fine Christian man.  This is a story that can be read in an afternoon, sitting outside enjoying the spring weather!

Friday, April 6, 2018

Red Sky over America (Ladies of Oberlin #1)

Title:  Red Sky over America (Ladies of Oberlin #1)

Author:  Tamera Lynn Kraft

Pages:  328

Year:  2018

Publisher:  Desert Breeze Publishing Inc.

My rating is 5 out of 5 stars.

This is a debut novel that readers won’t soon forget by a brand-new author!  The story begins in the year 1857 in Ohio where a young lady named America, called Merry, attends a college started by Albert Finney and considered liberal for its time.  Originally, America came from Kentucky, which had much less liberal leanings and expected people to stay in their station of life.  Yet, America feels called to go to China even if she must go alone.

William is following in his father’s footsteps, preparing to be a preacher and then go to China.  William’s father and mother are gone and being an abolitionist, he plans on preaching against slavery during winter break in Kentucky.  What he wants to preach about, and the various groups he encounters keeps the story extremely interesting.

America’s father is a former officer who makes future plans with or without Merry’s approval.  William and Merry both are attending the same college and will graduate the same year, but what their future holds is one question that continues during the tale.  I found the author’s ability to tell a story very engaging and filled with action, danger, adventure and twists!

I enjoyed how the author brings Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel into the book and how it was already being widely read or not read.  The antagonist is a man who is used to getting his way and running over anybody.  His rage is taken out on people who he sees as less than human, or even those who are undermining his plans.  His name?  Well, let’s see when you read the book if he doesn’t stand out quickly to you or if you think another character is the antagonist.

A good book to curl up and enjoy!

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.”

Thursday, April 5, 2018

The Gate Keeper

Title:  The Gate Keeper

Author:  Charles Todd

Pages:  307

Year:  2018

Publisher:  William Morrow

My rating is 5 out of 5 stars.

Wow!  This book was just stellar in my opinion.  I don’t know how the authors continue to produce such quality mysteries time after time.  I have read all the Ian Rutledge mysteries and this is one of the best.  This one is set in December 1920.  Ian’s sister Frances has just gotten married and Ian is feeling at loose ends.  He and his sister had become close after their parents’ deaths and now he is feeling a bit of a third wheel.  The wedding is over and the couple off on their honeymoon trip and Ian can’t sleep.  He decides to take a drive to who knows where to settle down.  He is driving down the road and comes upon a car stopped in the middle of the road with a woman standing over a man’s body and her hands are covered in blood.  Ian has literally driven into his next case.

As he begins his investigation, he lobbies to be given the case as he was the first on the scene.  There is some grumbling from other quarters, but Ian does land the case.  He questions the victim’s acquaintances and family.  He comes away with two very different pictures.  His acquaintances and friends reveal a well-liked man with no enemies.  His mother calls him a killer.  Ian can’t understand such hatred of a mother for her own son, especially one who returned safely from the war.  Another man is found murdered and he too apparently is well-liked with no enemies.  What is the connection between the two men?  Ian really must dig to find this answer and it is taking too long.  Another murder is soon reported in a nearby village.  Ian realizes that it is connected to his case as the victim was known to have contact with the other two victims after a fashion.  Ian is dogged in his questioning again and again of certain people who had contact or knowledge of the victims.  He questions until someone reveals a small detail that leads to another detail that breaks open the case, but he must have proof and that might very well cost him.

This is one of my favorite mystery series and I eagerly look forward to the release of each book.  The writing is descriptive and puts me right there in the story.  Ian is not without his own struggles, which makes him so much more human and not just a character on the page.  I would recommend reading the first couple of books in the series though before reading this one.  Those will give the reader some valuable history and background on the main character.  Readers also will enjoy another series by this author featuring Bess Crawford, a nurse during the First World War.  Thanks to the writing team of Charles Todd for another excellent Ian Rutledge mystery!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The Man Who Invented Christmas (The Movie)

Title:  The Man Who Invented Christmas (The Movie)

Year:  2018

Minutes:  108

Publisher:  Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

My rating 5 out of 5 stars.

The last couple of years has seen, in my opinion, an unprecedented number of good movies to view.  The genres are as various as the stories they tell, some worth seeing while others perhaps not on most top 10 lists to see.  However, here is a gem that got lost in the onslaught of movies this past holiday season.  With another Star Wars movie released at the same time, any other movie released seemed to get past up or ignored and that is a shame, especially regarding this movie.

I think the title wasn’t the best chosen as it really tells the story of the life experiences of Charles Dickens.  We watched how hard it was for the man to write another blockbuster right after the exceptional story titled, Oliver Twist.  I was mesmerized as the movie took me back to the late 1800s.  It showed what happened to Charles when he was young and how that really tormented his heart and soul.

As he wrote The Christmas Carol, what becomes apparent is the intricate way his life and heart were needing the hope the tale tells readers.  I didn’t realize the hardest part for Charles was facing who he was becoming, what happened to him as a child and how that inhibited his telling of Scrooge.

At the end of the movie, we are told a few facts about the man and book.  When the last scene fades out, we were all touched to see how Charles became a better man or maybe a freer man.  No longer inhibited by hiding his past or from shame, and in turn helping others through his tale to find the same hope available should people chose to allow themselves to change direction in their lives.

Even if one should not desire to own the DVD, at least see this once and maybe consider adding it to your shelf of classics.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Paul was Not a Christian (The Original Message of a Misunderstood Apostle)

Title:  Paul was Not a Christian (The Original Message of a Misunderstood Apostle)

Author:  Pamela Eisenbaum

Pages:  336

Year:  2010

Publisher:  Harper One Reprint

My rating 2 out of 5 stars.

One of the reasons I wanted to read the book was hoping to gain insight into the Jewishness of Paul and his writings.  What I got was frustration and sadness.  The author isn’t a Messianic Jew nor does she believe that all the writings of Paul should be attributed to him for various reasons.  However, when someone takes bits and pieces of Scripture but not the whole that is wrong.  When the author accepts some of Paul while dismissing others for human reasons, that too is wrong.  For all Scripture is God-breathed; there is a holiness and height to which no mere writings of man can attain.

I don’t agree with excusing disbelief because of nuances of writings or one codex being used and ignoring others.  To me it is like when we eat certain meals where ingredients are mixed together, we pick out before eating it what we don’t like and consume what is left.  The Scriptures are by no means equal to any writings by man.  God’s ways and thoughts aren’t like ours.  God is high and lifted up, and His train fills the temple.  He is holy, holy, holy.  We aren’t.

I agree Paul wasn’t a Christian as stated in the title.  He was a Hebrew of Hebrews, a Pharisee of Pharisees, a man who learned to be content in all circumstances.  He was from the tribe of Benjamin, he was an apostle and frankly he was brilliant.  Even the apostle Peter tells us that Paul wrote things hard to understand, not impossible, but hard.  

When will mankind understand that being finite we can never fully comprehend the Infinite, nor explain the infinite God of heaven and earth?  The God who made us, knit us in our mother’s womb, whose words go forth and don’t return void!  We need to realize that faith is believing and must be exercised, especially when we come face-to-face with our inability to adequately understand the Word.  The problem with unbelief is that it keeps a person from seeing the spectacular God who is revealed in the heavens and in the Word of God.

Other reviews can be read as I read them, and one even pointed out the author’s misuse of Greek.  I am not in the world of academia, but others are like Ravi Zacharias who can far better defend faith and other issues with such warmth and understanding.  This book undermines Paul, God’s revelations to him, and the gospel to which Paul proclaimed to the Gentiles after doing so first to the Jewish people.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Mountain Homecoming

Mountain Homecoming

Title: Mountain Homecoming
Author:  Sandra Robbins
Pages:  304
Year:  2013
Publisher:  Harvest House
My rating is 4 stars.
Mountain Homecoming is the sequel to Angel of the Cove in Sandra Robin’s Smokey Mountain Dreams series.  In book 2 the year is 1914 and Rani has become a grown woman in search of what God has planned for her life as well as what He has gifted her to do.  Granny, everyone calls her that in the Cove lives with the Martin family.  At one time she was the midwife and doctor to many mountain folk in times past, now Anna Martin is the midwife and calls on the Dr for other medical needs of the people who live in the small secluded Tennessee Cove area.  Samuel Martin is the preacher and a man who adores his wife Anna and there grown living children. 
The railroad company has wanted to purchase the timber on the Cove land which has set Rani’s blood to boil because of her love for the land.  Matthew Jackson left twenty years ago with his mother and younger brother, he now returns alone in the hopes he can settle down and lives where his heart has always been.  With time passing Matthew believes himself to be in love with Rani, but George is fiercely jealous over any man giving Rani attention.  The path George takes is one that leads to heart ache and danger, will he return to the faith he once lived and find healing for his broken past?
One of the main ideas I came away with is how God longs to forgive us and love us but we seem to want to make coming toward Him harder than it is.  The other thought was how each person must learn to listen for the still small voice of God and follow where He leads.  I love stories like this that encourage the heart, and remind us of the truths the gospel holds out to anyone who would grab hold of them.
The story is very much like real life where there is heart ache, looking for love, discerning God’s voice compared to our own or others.  The scene of the novel is set in the Smokey Mountains and at times I could picture in my mind what the author was painting with words.  There is gratitude in the characters lives for how God works, provides, speaks and creates.  Some of the characters lives remind us to be thankful daily and enjoy what He has blessed us with.
Sitting back and enjoying a novel is a blessing I do enjoy and thank the author for sharing her gift with many people.  I am hoping there will be more novels coming from this series as the story ends with what is a new chapter in the lives of newlyweds.  There are also new lives among some characters, not all however end happily, another authentic point of the tale.