Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Hope Rides Again - A Review

Andrew Shaffer has written another fun political thriller starring Joe Biden and Barack Obama. The parody centers on Obama’s old hometown of Chicago. We see a host of characters that are part of Chicago’s and Obama’s history - Rahm Emmanuel (Chicago mayor) and Michelle Obama. At the center of the plot is the attempted murder of a young man who is attempting to break away from the gang lifestyle Biden and Obama task themselves with tracking down the person who pulled the trigger and the person responsible for ordering the hit. The plot has more twists and turns than a sidewinder living in the desert, taking the reader from rail yards in the city’s southside to the top of the huge Ferris wheel on Navy Pier. Not a politically motivated book, the story is set in the weeks preceding Biden’s deciding to run President for the third time.

For the reader looking for some light reading during the summer months, Hope Rides Again may just fill the bill.
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.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Mind Games - A Review

Mind Games

Nancy Mehl

Which of your most trusted family, friends, or associates, is trying to kill you? That is the question that Kaely Quinn and her colleagues must answer before more people die. They have clues - a poem, the timing of the messages, the choice of victims - but it would take the combined work of the FBI, the BAU, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, and a variety of concerned citizens to arrive outside the warehouse where they would find Kaely’s phone, but not Kaely. Could they find her in time?

The author has created a thrilling story that could easily compete with Criminal Minds for my TV viewing time or for my weekly movie watching dollars. Whether the reader is looking for a well-written FBI thriller or a faith-based novel woven into the fabric of the 21st-century world, Mind Games may easily fill the bill. This reader could not put it down. The characters will be forced to examine their own faith (or lack thereof). The questions are not easy and the answers will only partially be answered in this book. Hopefully, the sequel’s Fall 2019 release will provide more answers.
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, July 2, 2019

Read and Buried - A Review

Eva Gates

A nice and friendly library mystery with a library cat to boot filled my days at the beginning of summer. The sixth book in the series, it is easy to read without the background material that may have been present in earlier books. The lighthouse housing the library actually exists in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, though the author has added a full-service library and a fourth story apartment to the contents of the actual building. The author compares the library to Dr. Who’s Tardis - larger on the inside than it is on the outside. The lighthouse/library is supposed to be haunted - but only one rather strange library board member really believes that story.

The mystery begins with the discovery of a strange tin box containing a diary, a hand-drawn map, and a cryptic note. Dating from the time of the Civil War, no one is sure whether the contents are significant or just the result of a young boy’s imagination - but, regardless, it leads to murder.

The story is a great cozy mystery with enough history woven in to allow the reader to follow his or her own research path if they choose to do so. Though understanding the history is not critical to following the story, it meant spending a few extra minutes in Google in order to better understand the history of the Outer Banks.

Whether the reader is a cozy mystery lover, a civil war buff, or library connoisseur, the book will be a fun read for a couple of days and nights.
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.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

A Theory of Everything (That Matters) - A Review

I am not a physicist. But like many physicists, I barely understand Einstein and his theories if Special Relativity and General Relativity. And like most physicists, I know/knew even less about Einstein’s ideas about God. Alister McGrath has written a great introduction to Einstein’s contributions to science and his concepts of God. He also explores how Einstein’s thinking about God can help the Christian believer (Einstein was a non-observant Jew) understand the relationship of science and faith.

The first half of the book is a textual summary of Einstein’s contributions to the world of physics. The next 25% of the book introduces the reader to Einstein’s understanding of God. The book ends by asking how Einstein’s methodology - both in science and in his understanding of God - can provide a framework for the believer to understand the relationship between science and religion. The author makes clear that the reader does not need to reach Einstein’s conclusions in order to appreciate and make use of his methodology as he or she seeks to weave together the two seemingly disparate worlds of knowledge.

Well-referenced, using Einstein’s own words and those of his contemporaries, citations are frequent and helpful as they refer the reader to the author’s source material. The author uses no mathematics other than a half-dozen references to Einstein’s most famous equation, E=mc2. The Advanced Readers Copy I received contained no pictures, but throughout the book are notations that “ILLUSTRATIONS TO BE PROVIDED IN THE FINAL BOOK”. The illustrations may help with understanding the author’s points, but the text itself is easily read and understood by the non-scientist.

For the scientist, philosopher, Christian, or seeker, attempting to better understand Einstein or the interconnectedness of science and religion, this book provides essential reading. College libraries and church libraries wanting to meet the needs of a diverse set of patrons will want to add this book to their collections. My geekish and nerdish friends will want to devour this book as well.

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, June 25, 2019

State of Lies - A Review

Georgia Ann Brennan’s husband had died in a horrendous hit-and-run car wreck six months ago, now her father had been nominated for the position of Secretary of Defense by the President - he only had to be approved by the Senate. And then her world turned upside down.

This political thriller held this reader’s attention from page one to the very end. Though we meet no politicians in this 350+ page book, the events described have the potential of disrupting the very core of the American government. In the course of telling the story, we examine the nature of grief, the cost of integrity, and the result of honesty. Georgie, as she was known to her friends, would experience a very difficult ride as she interacted with the CIA, FBI, and other government agencies. Into the midst of this mess stepped a Russian spy network that had roots into the deepest parts of the US government. Georgia Ann, her son Sam, and Alice, the family dog, would have to dig themselves out of the hole in which they found themselves.

Though published by Thomas Nelson, “a registered trademark of HarperCollins Christian Publishing”, I would have a difficult time calling this a faith-based book. There is nothing offensive within the story, but also little about faith. Would it appeal to Christian readers? Definitely, but because it is a well-written thriller with a story that, sadly, could be torn from the pages of today’s newspaper. For the same reason, it would appeal to any reader interested in finding a captivating thriller rooted in the world of 21st-century politics.
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, June 18, 2019

Better Watch Out - A Review

Better Watch Out

Christina Freeburn

Merry Winters was finally beginning to learn that her hometown of Season’s Greetings was not as full of the holiday spirit as she thought - both before and after the death of Jenna Wilcox. In fact, Jenna was part of the problem and her death did not improve the picture.

Christina Freeburn introduces us to more of her town in this newest novel - much of the first novel in the series focused on a craft show where she found her ex-husband’s (or, so she thought) body found inside her new RV, soon to become Merry’s mobile craft shop. As this reader became familiar with Season’s Greetings, I decided that the Harmony Baptist Church would not become my new church home, though the book store might become a friendly place to plant myself on a warm afternoon.

But it was not just Merry Winter’s hometown that presented problems, but so did her family. Her step-daughter had boyfriend problems, her ex-husband’s mother was dying, her ex-husband’s new wife was not sure if her marriage was legal (hey, it was not clear if Merry’s divorce was final). Lots of problems and murders as well. They all contribute to a well-written cozy mystery that will satisfy a variety of readers. For the reader looking for a holiday read, whether Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, or Christmas, Better Watch Out might just fill the bill.

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.

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.