Thursday, January 21, 2021

Wonderful Names of Jesus - A Review


Wonderful Names
of Jesus

Marilee Parrish

Marilee Parrish has prepared a wonderful collection of 52 devotionals focusing on the various names given to Jesus in Scripture. Though intended (as per the publisher) for children age 8 and above, this senior adult with a graduate school education found encouragement in the comments offered.

Each devotional begins with a decorative “title page” offering a quote where the name is used in Scripture. The devotionals are two pages in length - each ending with a brief

one or two-sentence prayer and a question that aims to help the reader apply that days reading. A “Table of Contents” will help the reader find readings on a specific topic. Given that each devotion quotes two, three, or more, Scriptures, I was disappointed in the lack of a more complete “Scripture Index” being included as an appendix. For this reason, I can only give this book four-stars.

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

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Hope, Faith, & A Corpse - A Review


Hope, Faith,
& A Corpse


Laura Jensen Walker

A Review

Rev. Hope Taylor had arrived for her first day at her new parish where she had been assigned as Pastor of Pastoral Care at Faith Chapel Episcopal Church. She learned two things that first day. First, she learned that it would be difficult as a woman to serve as a pastor at the small church located an hour east of Sacramento. Second, she would learn that there was a dead body in the small worship center located off the main sanctuary - a dead body that was not supposed to be there and who was still laying in his own blood.

I was surprised that a more liberal church would have the same kinds of problems with a female pastor as the conservative churches I am familiar with - people walking out when she started to preach, having doors closed in her face when visiting parishioners, or being accused of Stanley King’s murder by church members.

Nobody was terribly upset that Stan had died, he was not a likable man; but none of the many suspects would confess to his murder either.

Matters got worse when a skeleton was dug up by Bogie, Hope’s dog, in her backyard. Things were going from bad to worse for the new pastor.

The church had its normal mix of jealousies, secrets, and control issues. I felt at home. At the same time we get a glimpse of God’s grace at work as Hope and her new friends zone in on solving, not one, but two murders. With a combination of honesty, humor, and history, the author has crafted a delightful weekend’s reading. Music from the 60s and 70s and black and white movies added color to the book. I give the book five-stars.

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

Thursday, January 14, 2021

A Curious Incident - A Review


A Curious Incident


Vicki Delany

A Review

This is the second book I have read by this author - I have previously reviewed Read and Buried (written using the pseudonym Eva Gates). As before, I appreciated the book - the plot, characters, and setting all seem to go well together.

Gemma Doyle is the “part-owner, manager, and general dogsbody of the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium” located in West London MA, along the shores of Cape Cod. And as she often proclaims, SHE IS NOT A CONSULTING DETECTIVE - now if she could only convince her friends of that fact.

Irene Talbot, an employee at the tea shop connected to the Gemma’s Emporium, had now convinced Lauren, a precocious eleven-year-old, that she could find her missing cat. After all she was an even “better than the police.” Even though Gemma refused, later that night she did find the cat. Things got tougher the next week. Lauren again showed up on her door step asking for Gemma to prove that her mother had not murdered a neighbor. Again Gemma refused, but she was curious and got herself involved. Too involved; she almost became a victim as well.

Gemma and her friends made a nice team of amateur detectives. I really thought Donald was a pain - he could do little right. Though not a typical pet mystery, even the dogs (Violet and Peony) and cats (Moriarty and Snowball) had a place in the story. Detective Louise Estrada was more of a nuisance than anything,

Once I started the book, I could not wait to finish it - it was a worthwhile wait. I will want to read more of Gemma Doyle and her gang.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions are mine alone.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Active Defense - A Review


Active Defense


Lynette Eason

A Review

Good plot, less well written. I generally like Lynette Eason’s books, but this one less so. The story begins in Afghanistan when heather tries to save the life of a young bomber. He dies but his story does not die.

Heather, back in America, begins to be followed by a stalker. And her life begins to be threatened with home invasions, car wrecks, and kidnappings. It would take the combined work of Heather and her friends to discover the truth behind it all. In the process Heather will need to learn to trust and depend on others. She is not on her own, but it will take effort to overcome her past.

Sadly, the first ⅔ of the book are a bit slow-going; the last third picks up speed and becomes a more satisfying read. Was the book worth my time - yes, but it took a while to get there. The book barely gets 4-stars.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions are mine alone.

Friday, January 1, 2021

The Thief of Blackfriars Lane - A Review


The Thief of  Blackfriars Lane

by Michelle Griep

A Review

 “Measuring God by how people
—even godly people—
have mistreated you is 
not a good measuring stick.
Man will always betray, forget, malign, 
misjudge, abandon—but God remains steady and dependable.
Of course that requires you depend upon Him to begin with.
Do you?” (p. 123)

If an author wanted to combine the sleuthing of Sherlock Holmes, the culture of Charles Dickens, and the charity of Robin Hood, the resulting book could very well be The Thief of Blackfriars Lane.

Michelle Griep has written one of the most satisfying faith-based mysteries that I have read. As I finished reading late last night, I was able to lay down knowing that all was right with the world. Kit was a lady of the streets who had spent years building her reputation. Jackson was a newly hired constable that appeared to be a massive failure as he was dismissed from the constabulary and told to never return to London. The book weaves together the story of these two broken people who must work together to find the four very different men who had gone missing from the streets of late 19th century London. The author has done a marvelous job of building a story of grace, mercy, and love, that will speak to the souls of many.

I appreciate the brief appendix that the author includes highlighting the historical context of the book and the bibliography the author used to describe 150-year-old London. The book easily has a place in the church and public library, both for its literary appeal and its historical perspective. I easily give it 5-stars and wish I could give it more.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions are mine alone.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

The Quick-Read Bible - A Review


The Quick-Read Bible


Janice Emmerson

A Review

The introduction begins by quoting the oft-stated notion, “All of Scripture is inspired, but some parts are more inspiring than others.” If the author’s goal in putting this book together was to make the Bible more inspiring - she has failed. In fact the most inspiring parts of Scripture are sometimes lost in translation. To give one example, the book of Philippians, including the wonderful hymn found in Philippians 2:1-11, is summed up in two paragraphs. It seems like something is lacking.

But that is not the whole story. This book does have a place in the home, church, or seminary library - much of the scripture is written as if it might be for a children’s Bible without the illustrations. Thus, it would make a great book for parents to read to their children as they get ready for bed. It would also make a great introduction for the new believer who has had zero to little introduction to the Bible. This Bible would also make a good introduction for new readers (i.e. someone who is learning English or learning to read for the first time).

The other role this book could have in the church would be in seminary. Fifty years ago, as I first entered seminary, it was suggested that students who had not been brought up in the church read a children’s Bible to become familiar with the Biblical story in a broad sweep. This Bible summary might easily be required reading for every first semester seminary student.

Though the book may miss its initial goal, it definitely has a role to play in the church for years to come. I easily give it 4-stars.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions are mine alone.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

The Price of Valor - A Review


The Price of Valor

Susan May Warren

A Review

The story gets interesting as Hamilton Jones arrives in a small town in Sicily. In the distance can be seen one of the world’s more active volcanoes, Mt. Etna. It had been quiet for the last couple of years - that day was not going to be one of them. In the midst of an erupting volcano, Hamilton (aka Ham) would need to find his wife and discover where she had been for the last 10 years. Her story was that she was deep undercover with the CIA - but was she working for or against the American government. The lives of Ham, his wife, their friends, and the newly elected President, would depend on the answer.

Susan May Warren has done a marvelous job of combining the thrills of a natural disaster, the excitement of working a CIA op, the dangers of protecting the President, and following the progress of two romances about to go south. Along with this, she has woven the wonderful love of Jesus as He impacts the lives of people’s lives.

The book could easily find a place on the shelf of the church library; I would like to see it on the public library shelf as well - though some public librarians would disagree. Any reader looking for an international thriller that moves from both rural and urban Minnesota to Sicily to Washington DC would find the book satisfying. Though no hint was given, more books with this set of characters would be welcome.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinion are mine alone.