Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Tell Her No Lies - A Review

Who does Nina Fischer trust? Her dad? Nope, he left before she was born. Her mom? No, she is an alcoholic with a history of lying. As an adult child of an alcoholic, she had learned her lesson well - you can’t trust anyone. And with the murder of her step father, the question becomes even more confusing.

Kelly Irwin has written a new romantic thriller that held this reader's attention from beginning to end - broken people are not all bad people, some are, but not all. Kelly would learn that as she sought answers to her step father’s death. At times more questions would arise than answers, but slowly, surely, Nina would find most of the answers and the God, that she needed; but some questions would not be answered - or would take even more time.

Though most of the book focuses on the homeless community, brokenness is found in all walks of life. Some people come out of it better people, others find themselves even more broken, and others are still seeking to find their way out of the hole they have built for themselves.

My biggest disappointment with the book is that there is clear path to a sequel - there is room for more character development as relationships continue to be built and cemented. Short of that, this book represents one of the best faith based books of the genre that I have read. In spite of this flaw, it is easy to give the book a 5-star review.

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, February 6, 2019

Oxford Illustrated History of the World - A Review

Oxford Illustrated History
Of The World

Felipe Fernandez Armesto

I originally chose to review this book because it looked like an easy read and a coffee-table book. I was wrong on both counts.

Most “illustrated” books that cross my desk are picture (not children’s) books with notes accompanying the pictures. This book is a history book with a few pictures, drawings, and charts, provided to support the historical narrative. Much of the narrative focus on the when, who, what, and why, of the events that define human history. Some events are well-defined (i.e. the use of individual lives to illustrate larger points); most are less so (i.e. the transition of early man following the last ice age) as we follow the movement of civilizations through history. Regardless, the writer and his contributors have created an interesting book with a compelling story.

This review is not written by an historian. His brief knowledge of history is derived from a 3-semester sequence of undergraduate world civilization completed 45+ years ago and 3-quarter sequence of graduate level Biblical and church history completed 40+ years ago. As such, it cannot be a critical review, but is an educated reader’s assessment of the book.

The book is written for an intelligent audience with an appreciation for history. It is not for the light of heart, but will be of interest to both the scholar and the lay reader. This reader intended to have a general overview before writing the review, but he quickly became interested in the material and now intends to complete the entire book with a more detailed review to follow.

The illustrations are mostly indicative of the culture being discussed — some are modern drawings attempting to recreate historical places and events, most are from the era being illustrated in the text. Most images are in color and well-defined. The writing is clear, to the point, and easy to follow. My only complaint is the lack of standard list of abbreviations used in the book. Though most of the abbreviations used are defined in the book, often times a significant number of pages separate the definition given in the text and their next use by the writer. This required unneeded time to flip pages to locate the original definition, a table of definitions would reduce the amount of time wasted on finding definitions. Since most abbreviations have several real-life meanings, a Google search is not helpful

The book has a place in most public libraries and undergraduate college libraries. Some graduate libraries will also want to include it in their collections. The book may also serve as a suitable text for some undergraduate world history/civilization courses — depending on the course outline and purpose. It could also find a home in many personal libraries.
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, February 5, 2019

Caught Up In It - A Review

Caught Up In It

David Burnsworth

Given Henery Press’s reputation for cozy mysteries, I was disappointed in this offering. The story is considerably more hard-boiled than most of the books published with this imprint - incorporating significantly more drinking, smoking and vaping, and violence. The story, moving from Asia to South Carolina to Las Vegas to Los Angeles, did hold my interest; but, at the same time, it was not my cup of tea. 

I suspect there would many that would find Blu Carraway’s lifestyle and friends to be interesting, so I need to be careful. A movie based upon the book, unless carefully edited, would quickly acquire a “R” rating. As I tend to avoid “R” rated movies, I should have avoided this book. Sadly, I did not.
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, January 30, 2019

As Directed - A Review

As Directed


Kathleen Valenti

Pharmacy Tech (nee Pharmacy Researcher) Maggie O’Malley was developing a bad habit of discovering unhealthy people on the pharmacy floor - some, dead; some, nearly so. This was not a part of her job description. And with four (or was it five) really good suspects, the police (who were only looking at one suspect) and Maggie would have a long week ahead of them.

But murder was not the only crime at play - the lives of children, of pharmacy staff and customers, and of community citizens were also on the line. Maggie had some help from her fianc├ę, Constantine. Two local detectives, Austin Reynolds and Gladys Wren, would occasionally listen to Maggie’s banter; but, sadly, would not always act on it - upping the level of danger.

I was feeling disappointed through the first half of the book. Much of the character development and some of the story depended on knowing the back story found in the two previous books of the series. This reader felt at a lose. The second half of the book developed a life of its own - knowing the back story may have helped, but was needed for the reader to enjoy and to be drawn into the larger story. It may have helped for the author to provide brief summaries of the earlier books, without destroying the story lines of previous books - this could have been done as brief advertisements inviting the reader to read the previous stories. Alas, only a list of all three books was included as an appendix.

For those looking for a nice (not great) Spring read, As Directed might fill that prescription - it may be just what the doctored ordered.
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, January 23, 2019

Bad Pick - A Review

Bad Pick

Linda Lovely

A goat farm, goat milk, goat cheese, and goat yoga (yep, it is a real thing: http://bit.ly/Goat-Yoga), along with a right-wing Christian cult that met near the Udderly Goat Farm, are combined to make the foundation for a lively cozy mystery. A series of murders appear at first glance to implicate Brie Hooker, the owner and operator of the Udderly Goat Farm, and the real culprit must be discovered before Brie becomes the next victim.

The story is readable and enjoyable - making for a great Spring read. As expected, Henery Press has commissioned another winner - glad I was able to read this ARC prior to publication.
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, January 22, 2019

Stratagem - A Review

It was a game. It ended up being a deadly game.

This corporate game was requested by Tim DuBois, CEO of Deets PR, in order to help his board work through an upcoming managerial promotion, from Game’s On You. The original request was made to Colton York, though he and Grayson Thibodeaux, the co-owner of Game’s On You, would both need to approve the contract before it was finalized. Grayson would design the game, Colton would administer it. And Grayson’s ex-wife, Anna Belle Thibodeaux would be dead before the game was over.

There were a number of suspects, but the evidence seemed to point to one person. It would take the work of Detective Brandon Gibbons and his partner, Detective Danielle Witz, and Grayson and his assistant, Pam, to independently stumble upon the guilty party. And the discovery came almost too late.

Robin Caroll has managed to weave together a bit of mystery and faith into a captivating story. Though at least one location is shared with previous books from this author, it is unclear whether this story is a sequel to those - and reads well as a standalone book.

Though Robin Caroll is an experienced writer, this was the first book of hers that crossed my path. I was satisfied - and will look forward to reading others. It easily is a five-star book.

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, January 15, 2019

Sparkle and Changed International Children's Bible - A Review

Sparkle and Change
International Children’s Bible

Tommy Nelson

With the exception of the cover and some of the colors chosen for trim on the inside, these Bibles are identical. Using reversible sequins, they would appeal to girls from 1st through 4th grade. The 24 pages of full color helps include short essays, suggested Bible memory verses, and maps. Important verses are highlighted - though the paper is so thin that highlighting from the reverse side often appears on the reverse side of the sheet:

The highlighting above actually is from the verse (Psalm 139:23-24) on the previous page. A quick glance of this whole page looks as if four verses are highlighted - all four are from the previous page. The thin pages might make the Bible difficult to handle for a child - it is difficult to turn back a single page and pages may be easily torn.

The translation reads easily:

16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son. God gave his Son so that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but have eternal life. 17 God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world guilty, but to save the world through him. 18 He who believes in God’s Son is not judged guilty. He who does not believe has already been judged guilty, because he has not believed in God’s only Son. 19 People are judged by this fact: I am the Light from God that has come into the world. But men did not want light. They wanted darkness because they were doing evil things. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light. He will not come to the light because it will show all the evil things he has done. 21 But he who follows the true way comes to the light. Then the light will show that the things he has done were done through God.”

I am not qualified to evaluate the translation, per se. But neither is a child - if the stones can deliver the Word of God (Luke 19:40), so can this translation.

The publisher suggests that both version of this Bible are aimed at a feminine audience - similar resources need to made available for the boys in the church.
This review is based on a free copies provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.