Thursday, July 22, 2021

Escape From The Everglades - A Review

 



Escape From The Everglades



by

Tim Shoemaker

A Review

A nicely written thriller featuring three teens who live in the Everglades in Southern Florida. They are close friends, but each is at a different point in their journey of faith. They challenge each other - both for good and bad - as they search for the older sister of one of the teens, but each of them does grow in the process.

Focus On The Family suggests the book is aimed at a 9-15 year old audience. Given the amount of graphic violence and the issues discussed, this reviewer would suggest that the book is better aimed at a 15-year-old to adult audience. The reader will be drawn in and will not want to put the book down till the final chapter is finished.


With the exception of the violence, this reader was reminded of the Hardy Boys adventures from the 1950’s and early 60’s. I would like to see sequels written - maybe in Boston (where two of the friends are moving) and. later, in whatever college town they choose to attend. I give the book four-stars.
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This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are mine alone.



Friday, July 16, 2021

Off The Pages - A Review

 



Off The Pages



by


Alejandro Gonzalez


A Review


Off the Pages is one of the few books I have reviewed that I have a hard time recommending. Its language and violence would require an ‘R’ rating if transformed, as is, into a movie. Though written for a teen audience, I would have a difficult time offering it to the teens in my life. The characters were sometimes hard to follow - at times, making me wonder whether the story was covering the good guys or the bad guys.

The one redeeming quality was as a commentary on the 2016 or 2020 elections - where Obama had a literal role in the plot and Trump had a virtual role, though never being named specifically. I can only give the book two stars.
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This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are mine alone.


Monday, July 5, 2021

Breach Of Honor - A Review

 



Breach of Honor



by

Janice Cantore


A Review

I can’t change anything that has already happened.
Blame is irrelevant. It will change nothing.
I have to move forward and make better choices.
I need to remember what it felt like to walk with God,
not away from Him.
(Chapter 22)


The Table Rock, OR, police department has a problem - only no one knows it. It occasionally raised its ugly head throughout the years, but it became more obvious when Leah Radcliff, a member of the Table Rock PD, shot and killed her husband, another Table Rock Police Officer. The jury found her guilty and the judge sentenced her to 25 years to life. That was the published version of the story.

But that version of the story did not include the clandestine meetings her husband had late at night, it did not tell the years of violence that had defined much of Leah’s marriage, and it did not include the vicious attack that occurred the night she shot him. It would take five years, a new lawyer, a new trial, and the cooperation of the Table Rock PD, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, the Oregon State Police, and the FBI, to follow all the leads and bring the truth into the spotlight.

The result is one of the best faith-based thrillers that this reviewer has read. Though much of the story focuses on the corruption present in the Table Rock PD, it also exposes the pain and grief associated with domestic violence. I appreciate the fact that the author has chosen to include the phone number and website for the National Domestic Violence Hotline at the beginning of the book. Much Christian fiction deals with difficult topics, but then offers no sources of help for those in need. A major plus for this book. I give the book five stars.
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This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are mine alone.




Saturday, July 3, 2021

The Chase - A Review

 



The Chase


e


by

Lisa Harris

A Review

Lisa Harris has written a faith-based novel that follows two US Marshals who are trying to track down four bank robbers that have “hit a least a dozen banks” in the Seattle area. though a motive is difficult to track down, the robberies are well-planned and with solid escape plans in place.

Whereas the first book in this series, The Escape, covered a half dozen states as the duo tracked down escaped criminals; this book focuses on Seattle and the surrounding area. The setting is gorgeous, giving this reader more reasons for vacationing in the area - maybe without the crime.

The book focuses on two themes as the Marshals do their work - loss (with its accompanying grief) and the need many feel to fix the people around them. These are important issues. Much of the book takes place as conversation (too much conversation?) between the two main characters as they evaluate how they have personally dealt with these issues. Though I would not expect a fictional book to provide answers to these kinds of problems, it would have been helpful to suggest places (as an epilog?) where those struggling with these issues could reach out for support. I give the book 3-½ to 4 stars.
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This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are mine alone.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

The Scarlet Pen - A Review




The Scarlet Pen



by

Jennifer Uhlarik

A Review


The Scarlet Pen is a bit of history wrapped up into a gritty mystery.

Many have become familiar with serial killers through the television show “Criminal Minds”. Most will not realize that there is a long history of serial killers throughout history. This book follows the story of one who killed at least nine in the mid-1870s in Iowa and Nebraska. Stephen Lee Richards had become known as the Nebraska Butcher or Nebraska Fiend. The author wraps her story around this man using a fictional fiance and a Secret Service Agent who is tracking the counterfeit money that Richards is also passing as he travels from Ohio to Iowa to Nebraska.

The story is gripping and attention grabbing as Clay Timmons seeks to protect Richards’ fiance, Emma Draycott, and apprehend the “special kind of tetched” criminal himself. Having lived in the area described in the book, it was difficult to imagine the evil this man left along the Platte River and in Western Iowa

What is amazing is that the author and the murderer himself are able to communicate God’s grace to our broken world. History tells us that both in a final testimony and in written correspondence, Richards confessed faith in Christ prior to his being hanged. The fictional Clay Timmons summed up an appropriate response when asked, “Did he really believe?’

Part of me hopes he was tellin’ the truth, that God has welcomed him home -- because if God can forgive and receive the likes of him, there’s incredible hope for all of us.

With the mixture of history and grace, I give the book 5-stars,
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This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are mine alone.

 

Friday, June 25, 2021

The Big Idea Companion For Preaching And Teaching - A Review

 



The  Big Idea Companion

For Preaching

And Teaching



Edited By

Matthew D. Kim

Scott M. Gibson

A Review

In 1953 Dr. Henrietta Mears published her well-known handbook, What the Bible is All About. Over the yesrs the book has been republished and edited using different translations. This book follows in that tradition, but rather than being aimed at laymen and Sunday School teachers, this book is aimed toward Sunday School teachers and Preachers. That being said, the book goes a bit deeper and stresses teaching and preaching points rather than skimming each book of the Bible. Rather than choosing to cover the entire Bible in 52 weeks, it suggests teaching and preaching outlines based on the text. For example, rather than devoting one week to Mark’s gospel, this book suggests dividing the Mark into “nearly fifty preaching and teaching passages”.

Each Biblical book’s review is assigned to a single author - though some authors have been assigned multiple books. With a single exception, all the individual authors have earned PhDs from reputable schools. The single exception is a PhD graduate student at Wheaton Graduate School. Having said that, none of the authors were previously known to this reviewer. They do, however, currently hold positions at well-known institutions (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Gordon-Conwell Seminary, Dallas Theological Seminary, etc.).

Each book includes a brief introduction and then a paragraph or two on each preaching passage. Each preaching passage includes a sentence describing the passage’s “subject”, “complement”, “exegetical idea”, and “homiletical idea”. Each book’s entry concludes with three or four suggested resources that the reader may wish to consult for further study. I was disappointed that the entries did not include any suggested application points for each passage.

Though, for most preachers and teachers, the books are divided into too many teaching portions, the book will be one that many will want to keep handy for ideas and general planning. I give the book 4-stars.
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This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are mine alone.




Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Right Cross - A Review

 



Right Cross



by

Andrew Huff

A Review

Though it started slow, the book evolved into a nicely done faith-based thriller. Starting with a startling arrest in England, the setting moves quickly to Washington DC and its suburbs and on to Cheyenne Mountain, the former home, and now, of the alternate command center, of NORAD.

This is the third book in which John Cross finds himself fighting the terrorist organization going by the name of Forge. It was never clear what purpose and motivation drove Forge’s activity - but whatever it may be, they were set on destroying much of the US and its nuclear arsenal. John Cross and his team of allies (including a journalist, members of MI6 and the CIA, and members of the US Air Force) would need to fight hard to defend America as we know it.

At times the faith was a bit more of a distraction than I have found in many of the faith-based thrillers. The plot is riveting and full of the grit that many will expect in today’s suspense and thrillers titles. I give Right Cross 3-½ stars.
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This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are mine alone.