Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The Value of Wrinkles - A Review

Isabel Tom grew up with grandparents living right next door to her - literally, they shared a bedroom wall in the same house. Her chosen ministry while attending Houghton College was to serve the senior adults in her community by making weekly visits to their living facilities. Her first “real” job out of college was an opportunity to explore the various ways care was provided to the elderly (defined, for the sake of the book, to be those aged 65 and up). Now, 15 years later, she writes about her experiences, what she has learned, and what others can value when spending time with the elderly in our communities. Ms. Tom continues to work with the elderly even as she raises her own children.

The book is about ministering to those 65 and older. How to listen to them, how to learn from them, and how to value them. She allows the reader to appreciate those who are sometimes left out of modern western society and under-valued by a world that can quickly pass them by. The book is not a “how-to” book, but it is practical. It comes full of hints on how to begin conversations, how we (at any age) can empower them in age-appropriate ways, and encouraging the reader to learn from those who have lived life before us.

The book is a must-read for all those who will interact with their elders - whether on the job, in a faith community, or within our families. The book would be of value to teens trying to navigate their grandparents - whether they are physically present or living some distance away. The Value of Wrinkles will provide hints to youth leaders on ways that their charges can minister to and learn from those at the other end of life’s spectrum. Pastors will find new ways to interact with their aging congregations. Parents will find suggestions for encouraging their children to discover the lives of their grandparents and great-grandparents.

The bottom line is that “if you interact with the elderly, this book will support your contact with them.” It belongs on the shelves of public libraries, church libraries, and on the desk of ministry professionals.
It should be noted that this book is written by a graduate of the nearby college supported by my denomination. This being said, I do not know or had contact with the author. 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 25, 2020

Past Deeds - A Review

Past Deeds

Carolyn Arnold

Past Deeds is a well-written police procedural featuring the Behavior Analyst Unit of the FBI - easily compared to the BAU team featured on the CBS drama Criminal Minds. Sadly, both for the reader and the BAU team, Zach (the counterpart to Spencer Reid from the TV series) has departed the team for other tasks. Kelly is the new member of the team - but she is no replacement for Zach. Though an experienced Florida homicide detective, she will need to find her voice among the talented and experienced members of the BAU.

A murder in Arlington VA has caught the attention of the BAU - the team quickly discovers that the murder is not one, but four, with connections from California to Baltimore MD. Half of the team will go each direction in order to put together the pieces of the puzzle that will point to their unknown suspect (the unsub). The team finally regroups to trap the unsub in the midst of a final crime.

I enjoyed the plot and rhythm of the novel, but the awkward switches the author makes between first-person narrative and a third-person observer is sometimes difficult to understand. Given that the team split, the change in writing style might be needed at times; but at other times the book continues with a third-person perspective, though the reader might be better served by a return to the first-person narrative

For the reader who was a fan of Criminal Minds (which has already aired its final episode even as I read Past Deeds), this series might fill a hole in their desired entertainment needs. This book is the eighth in the series from this author, but I never felt lost having read none of the earlier 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.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

The Basic Bible Atlas - A Review

The Basic Bible Atlas 

John A. Beck

A nicely done beginner’s Bible Atlas. The maps are slightly better than I might expect to find in a good study Bible, but the accompanying discussion adds significant value to the entire text for the lay student of the Bible. The book is not suitable for a scholars use, but it would be of significant help to a lay audience. 

In addition to being helpful for the lay believer’s library, it would make a good addition to a church or public library collection. It is small enough that it could fit into a briefcase or satchel along with the reader’s Bible. Keeping in mind the audience, the book easily deserves 5/5 stars.


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.

My Fair Latte - A Review

My Fair Latte

Vickie Fee

Vickie Fee gives us a fun cozy mystery with lots of friendly characters and enough suspects to keep the reader busy trying to solve the crimes before the author reveals the guilty parties.

Halley Greer has just inherited her Uncle Leon’s single-screen movie theater. The theater had seen better days - and now needed some work if it was to return as a functioning business. Halley Greer and the community of Utopia Springs AR were willing to invest their time and energy cleaning, painting, and re-modeling to make the space useable, if not quite up to its former glory. Along with classic films, Halley chose to make the theater a showcase of local cuisine - coffee, wine, bread, and pastries.

Opening night appeared to be a success. The three-hour movie My Fair Lady was the opening show, the theater was sold out, patrons were indulging in the available snacks, and Halley was excited. At least until the intermission - that was when the body was found sitting in the auditorium, the dead body.

The story held this reader’s interest. Suspects ranged from Halley to the son of the family who owned the Chinese restaurant. The police kept searching for clues - but it was the work of Halley and her friends that would finally allow the pieces to fall into place. 

Though the community of Utopia Springs was nice, I was disappointed that the beverages of choice were beer and wine - though the theater had its own coffee bar and also served fountain drinks to those too young to imbibe. Coffee and soda were available, but we rarely see individuals drinking anything but beer and wine - lots of beer and wine. It would be enough to keep this reader from wanting to visit this tourist-centered village. And it is enough that this reader would not consider adding this book to his personal library. It is also why I would only give this book 3-½ stars.
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, February 13, 2020

British Murder - A Review

British Murder

Leslie Meier

This book felt like I hit the jackpot - I was able to read two books for the price of one. English Tea Mystery was originally published in 2011. British Manor Mystery was originally published in 2016. The publisher has now combined them into a single volume - making for a longer, but still enjoyable, read

The first book has the reader joining an academic trip to Britain. Much of the book reads more like a travel guide than a cozy mystery. Without the murders, the book could almost be used as the itinerary for a week-or-two visit to England. The country was beautiful. It would be nearly a perfect trip except when Professor George Temple, the group’s leader, died on the group’s flight from New York to London. Lucy Shaw and her travel companion, Sue Finch, would continue to question the death for the entire trip. It was not quite the experience they had signed up for

The second book arises because of a brief contact that Sue had made during that first trip. Lucy was depressed - her family was growing up and moving away. To pull her out of her depression Sue invites her to join her on a trip back to England to display portions of her hat collection in a curated display at Moreton Manor, the ancestral home of Perry and Poppy. It went well until bodies started popping up in unlikely places - the very center of a complex maze located on the property and behind the walls of a hidden room that could only be discovered by following the smell or counting the windows on the outside of the manor’s tower. Lucy was again going to discover that murder does not make a great vacation.

Two well-written cozy mysteries make for a fun week of reading. Unless the reader or library already has one or both of these books in their collection, this book would make a good addition to that collection.

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, February 3, 2020

5-Minute Bible Study for Men - A Review

5-Minute Bible Study for Men

David Sanford

A set of easily read Bible Studies designed for men. If I were reviewing the Bible Studies themselves, I could easily give book 4- or 4-½-stars - they are practical and are based on the text with sufficient depth to be of interest to men from a variety of backgrounds - pastoral, professional, blue-collar, etc.

My biggest concern, and the reason my review only gives 3-stars, is the lack of a table of contents or an index. A table of contents would provide access to the studies in the order found in the text. Indexes would allow the reader to find all studies referencing a specific scripture passage. A topical index would provide access to studies focusing on topics of interest to the reader. With neither a table of contents nor an index, much of the material is not easily accessible to the reader - except by stumbling upon it.

The book would make a good gift, but I would hesitate adding it to my personal library

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, February 2, 2020

Under the Radar - A Review

Under The Radar

Annette Dashofy

Annette Dashofy has written another fun cozy mystery with lots of twists and turns. Zoe is now engaged and she knows who she wants to build her wedding cake. Two problems present themselves. First, her baker is being charged with murder - not one, but three. Second, her mom has scheduled the wedding and reserved the venue 1500 miles away from where Zoe lives and without consulting Zoe. It was going to be an interesting month.

I think I knew Zoe’s mom - she was also my wife’s mother. Except, Zoe’s mom was worse. Specifics are not needed, but if you think you have a difficult mother or mother-in-law, you will want to read Under the Radar in order to really appreciate that special woman in your life. I can almost guarantee that she is an improvement over Zoe’s mother.

The plot moves from rural Southeastern Pennsylvania to Erie and back again before all the pieces come together for assistant coroner Zoe Chambers, her Police Chief fianc├ę Pete Adams, and Detective Wayne Baronick.

The book will provide an enjoyable weekend read for most cozy mystery fans.
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.