Sunday, June 9, 2019

The Killing Tide - A Review

The Killing Tide

Dani Pettrey

Dani Pettrey has a knack for writing faith-based suspense that draws her readers to wanting more. The Killing Tide once again accomplishes this task.

Gabby Rowley was a top-notch investigative reporter for the Raleigh (NC) Gazette. Her stories on Xavier Fuentes had assisted local enforcement in bringing down the major drug-kingpin and the seizure of $30 Million in cocaine by the DEA. Now Fuentes’ gang would stop at nothing to take Gabby down - permanently. Members of the Raleigh PD, her supervisor at the Gazette, and her brother, a member of a Coast Guard Investigative Service team, agreed she needed time to recuperate Wilmington West Virginia. Gabby was not quite ready for Finn Walker, her former boyfriend, to be a part of that same CGIS team.

While staying in Wilmington, Gabby stumbles into another smuggling crew. To get her story she would need to follow the CGIS team as they track down the smugglers and avoid the dangers presented by Xavier Fuentes as he escapes from prison.

Gabby and her family’s faith will provide guidance as they move ahead day by day. There are some who do not yet understand this thing called faith, but prayer may be able to move them forward.

Whether a reader’s personal library, a local church library, or a public library, The Killing Tide could easily find a home. If Dani Pettrey follows a similar pattern to her earlier works, we will be seeing additional using the same characters - this reader will be looking forward to those books.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Murder in the Balcony - A Review

Murder in the Balcony

Margaret Dumas

Given one theater manager, a 80-year-old ghost, and a motley crew of theater employees, how do you find the person responsible for the murder of two real estate professionals? Carefully.

Nora Paige wore many hats. She managed The Movie Palace, an 80+-year-old movie theater in San Francisco that showed only oldies but goodies on the silver screen. She is separated from her two-timing, scheming husband, a film star in his own right. She is also the anonymous movie reviewer Sally Lee - a secret that she is hesitant to let others know. Finally, she is the only person who can see Trixie, the friendly ghost of a young usherette who had died in the early days of the theater’s history that had forgotten to leave after her death. Now Trixie spends her days assisting Nora (and indirectly, the police) find murderers associated with The Movie Palace.

In this second book based around The Movie Palace has a young student, Warren, who has graduated from The Movie Palace to work with June Howard’s real estate firm as an intern with a promising career ahead of him. Except he has disappeared - at least his body turns up at home apparently killed by a home intruder. It would take Nora’s skills as an amateur detective and Trixie’s skill as an unseen spy to find the person responsible for his death.

What makes these books special is that the author weaves Sally Lee’s reviews into the book - inviting even this modern moviegoer to watch some classic films from an earlier time. Sadly these films are so old that they are rarely found on the Amazon or Netflix subscription services. They can be rented - but who wants to rent when hundreds of movies are available from the traditional services.

For the fan of Turner Classic Movies, Murder in the Balcony will fill a whole while they wait for their next favorite movie to make its way to cable. Libraries may want to take Margaret Dumas’ books and build a movie collection around each one - the reader and the film buff will have a field day. And those who enjoy a cozy mystery will find The Movie Palace a good place stop.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

10 Minutes in the Word : John - A Review

10 Minutes in the Word
A nice devotional focused on the Gospel of John. Though it does not cover every verse of the book, 48 entries provide comment and insight to most sections of the gospel. Each entry consists of four parts:

  1. A verse or two of the current text is quoted.
  2. A 1-½ page devotional is included - reflecting on the passage and its meaning in context.
  3. A brief prayer 3-4 sentence prayer related to the content of the devotional is available.
  4. Each entry concludes with a reflective question or two allowing the reader to apply the passage to his or her life.

Though no specific author is credited, the material is helpful. The only concern that I have is that the chosen font is not suitable for senior citizens, my target audience. A larger and bolder font would have been preferred - especially given the amount of white space on each page.
This review is based on a free copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Tell Me No Secrets - A Review

A well-written mystery taking place in the Blue Ridge Mountains and along the Appalachian Trail in northern North Carolina and southern Virginia near the highest mountain peak in Virginia (Mt. Rogers which stands 5,728 feet above ground level). The scenery is beautiful (and inviting a visit, in better days), standing in dark contrast to the gruesome murder of Scott Curry.

The young gay man’s body was found at the most inappropriate time - as Ava Logan’s 12-year-old daughter was about to be baptized in the muddy waters of Jackson Creek. The discovery would put an end to the day’s celebration and force Ava Logan, publisher of the Jackson Creek Chronicle and Scott Curry’s employer, and her boyfriend, Jackson County Sheriff Grayson Ridge, to follow the clues to find more about the victim and the murderer.

The story moves along quickly including a couple of brief visits to Mary McCarter, one of several women in the area who were said to have “the gift”. We also get to visit the “Higher Heavens Holiness Church”, located along the slopes of Mt. Rogers, along with a glimpse at its Sunday morning snake-handling service.

The author crafts a believable story, though its exploration of faith will leave some disappointed. It is clear that the author is convinced that faith can be expressed in a variety of ways, though there is no clear role model for the evangelical or, even, a mainline protestant believer. Though the book explores the nature of faith, the author makes no clear statement as to the nature of that faith. Though that was not the intent of the book, it was disappointing to this reader.

For the reader looking for a good summer read this book may fill the bill. A bit beyond the average cozy mystery, but still worth the time I took to read it.

This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Cold Aim - A Review

Cold Aim is a Faith based crime thriller set in the Rogue Valley outside Medford Falls, OR; it is an exciting sit-on-the-edge-of your-seat story focusing on the issues of international human trafficking and the work of national and local law enforcement’s to intervene in putting a stop to its evil.

With roots 25 years in the past, Police Chief O’Rourke and her small force, working with the county sheriff, the FBI, and the local pastor, Oliver Macpherson, would be responsible for rescuing two local women as well as a score of others located around the country and the world. The reader quickly learns that human trafficking is not just a problem elsewhere or on the international front, but will sometimes need to be dealt with in the local community as well.

But the solution would not come easy - the death of both the innocent and the guilty would provide milestones toward the arrest and capture of the crime family’s long time head. Their work would also lead to the freedom of many (both physically and spiritually) as they moved closer to apprehending those responsible for stealing the childhood of so many. In the midst of the story both Chief O’Rourke and Pastor Macpherson would be facing their own spiritual crisis as they sought to follow the path God laid out in front of them.

The only flaw I found in the book is that occasionally the main characters would reflect on events found in earlier books in the series. This in no way detracts from the current story or leaves the reader at a loss, but a footnote pointing the reader to the earlier books might alert the current reader that the earlier stories are available and can also be read.

For the reader looking for an exciting week of reading, Cold Aim might just fill that need. This book has a place on the shelf of the church library and the local community library’s shelves.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Fair Game - A Review

Fair Game

Annette Dashofy

The Monongahela County Fair was the perfect setting for the most recent cozy mystery from Annette Dashofy. With the midway, the 4-H Pony Barn, the show arena, and the many concession stands, would make those from rural America right at home. The county, being located in SE Pennsylvania, allowed this reviewer to feel like he belonged here.

Zoe Chambers had been raised with 4-H, but now was showing her Quarter Horse gelding, Windstar, for the first time in 20 years since leaving 4-H behind. But she felt at home as she moved in and out of the horse barn with the kids and teens who were showing their own work. Showing her horse was not her main assignment at the fair, she was part of the EMT Squad who stood on standby in the event of an accident or other injury. And like in the past, she found herself involved with murder.

It did not help that the local township Police Chief, Pete Adams, was her boyfriend. Her training as an EMT prepared her to wear one other hat - Assistant County Coroner. Together Zoe Chambers and Police Chief Adams and other members of the community would need to solve, not one, but two murders, that had roots in the events happening on the fair grounds that week.

The book is a fun read, one of the better cozy mysteries I have had the pleasure of reading this spring. For parents of 4-H kids or those with a history in 4-H, the book will bring back memories. The book will serve as a pleasant (mostly-hey, murder is murder) spring or summer read as one contemplates fair season in the coming months. It will fit well into the local county or town library - especially for those residing in non-urban spaces that fill much of America. Take off your shoes, put up your feet, and enjoy Fair Game.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

NIV Starting Place Study Bible - A Review

Designed to be the initial Study Bible for a typical new believer, the NIV Starting Place Study Bible would appear to accomplish that goal.

Borrowing from some of Zondervan’s most helpful Study Bibles, the NIV Starting Place Study Bible provides a wealth of information to the new Bible student. The six underlying resources are as follows:

  • The Essential Bible Companion
  • NIV Quest Study Bible
  • NIV Foundational Study Bible
  • NIV Archaeological Study Bible
  • NIV Student Bible
  • NIV Rock Solid Faith Study Bible
With the exception of the last, each of the above resources is well-known and appreciated by this reviewer. Having never the Rock Solid Faith Study Bible, I cannot comment directly on its value. Included are a variety of helps:
  • Book Introductions
  • Study Notes keyed to Biblical passages
  • Context Notes providing background material
  • Q & A Notes providing answers to key questions
  • Bible Character studies
  • Introductions to key Bible Truths
  • Subject Index
  • Dictionary - Concordance

Designed using a four color (black, white, yellow, and gold) layout, there is useful information on almost every page. I would recommend that pastors and others use the underlying Study Bible resources; but for the new student of the Bible, this Study Bible is a useful resource. It will not be the last Bible most students of any age will want, but it is a great place to begin.
This review is based on a free copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.