Thursday, December 2, 2021

A Lie Don't Care - A Review

 A Lie Don't Care

by

J C Anderson

I have very mixed reactions to J C Anderson's novel looking at dysfunctional families and churches. Some of the book borders on pornography, other parts are illustrative of God's grace toward very hurting people. The two pictures do not mix well; I have a difficult time recommending this author's attempt to blend these images. There may be an audience for which this book would be a good match, I cannot think of one.  I give this book one-star.
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This review is based on a free copy provided by the publisher - the opinions are mine alone.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Feel Your Way Through - A Review

 



Feel Your Way Through




by

Kelsea Ballerina

A Review

like a dandelion can bloom
through a crack in granite

you can become something beautiful
wherever you’re planted

Kelsea Ballerina, country star, has published a set of 52 poems designed to be read and thought over. She touches on helpful subjects (as demonstrated by the example above) and some very difficult subjects (eating disorders, gun violence, and suicide). These obviously come from a heart that has experience brokenness and found relief from her pain.

I was touched by the authenticity the author brought to her work. Though each poem did not touch my pain points, they did touch me as I moved through the collection. Many were meaningful to this reader and forced him to re-examine his own walk through recovery.

I may have met Kelsea Ballerina through her music; but I will remember her because of her poetry. I give this collection 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.



Thursday, November 25, 2021

Deadly Target - A Review

 



Deadly Target




by

Elizabeth Goddard

A Review

Her life was threatened on Puget Sound in Washington by an almost tragic accident. Her life was threatened while visiting Cooper Hill Burying Ground in Boston while working with a Big Rapids, MT, police detective on a decade old cold case. Her life was again threatened while helping the same police detective follow-up on an attempt to kill his father near the Casper Creek Dam. She was tired of it.

Criminal Psychologist Erin Larson would spend the next few weeks running from trouble as she sought to discover who was doing the threatening and why. The plot is attention grabbing and movie worthy. Erin’s history is dramatic and will bring danger to her mother, sister, and community. The author presents a tale worth spending late nights reading - this reader wanted to finish as quickly as possible to see how the pieces of the puzzle went together.

For the reader looking for a Rocky Mountain thriller, Deadly Target will fill the bill. I easily 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.




Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Dead Fall - A Review

 



Dead Fall



by

Nancy Mehl

A Review

I reached out to the only Person 

who could show me who I was truly meant to be. 

I found God. Without Him, 

I have no idea where I’d be right now. 

You see, positions, success, praise from people

— none of that lasts. 

If you judge yourself by human standards, 

you’ll fail. The only way to truly know yourself 

is to know the One who created you. 

Without Him, we’ll never find our way. 

No matter what happens, 

nothing will ever rob me of my identity again.

                                                                       -- Nancy Mehl


They were retired FBI Special Agents - and somebody killed them. Now the same UNSUB was trying to kill active FBI Agents. Somebody will have to stop the murders or the BAU will be gone.

It would not be easy and the active members of the BAU would find their lives in danger. Following the themes and practices known to fans of Criminal Minds, the story kept this reader awake as the members of the BAU follow the evidence to identify and apprehend the UNSUB.

The characters are real, with strengths and weaknesses they each have to use and overcome. The ending was a surprise (almost), but worth waiting for. 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.



Monday, November 15, 2021

Lights Out - A Review

 



Lights Out



by

Natalie Waters

A Review


The President is traveling to Egypt, terrorists are on the lose throughout America, and private defense contractor SNAP is stymied in it search for those out to destroy the country before the President walks into his own assassination.

Brynn Taylor, CIA Analyst, finds herself unexpectedly assigned to work with SNAP. She would prefer to work the case in Egypt, but Director Frank Peterson has made his decision - now she will need to work alongside her ex-boyfriend or not work the case at all. The story will take the reader from Washington DC to Houston to California to Guam to Egypt. This well-written faith-based thriller will keep the reader’s attention from beginning to end.

Only two concerns prevent me from giving this a five-star review. First is that though promoted as a faith-based book, it is only moderately so. This might make it more saleable to a secular book market, but not as appealing to a Christian audience. Secondly, the conclusion of the book seemed to sneak up on this reader - it was stumbled on rather than discovered through the usual deductive techniques one would expect in an international thriller. I am giving this 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, November 5, 2021

Crosshairs - A Review




Crosshairs


by

Patricia Bradley

A Review

After reading Patricia Bradley’s previous book in the “Natchez Trace Park Rangers” series, I had put the Natchez Trace on my bucket list. Given the number of murders and other events in the first five of 71 chapters of her most recent faith-based book, I am not so sure:
  1. Assault of a 94-year-old woman in her home
  2. Theft of a 150-year-old diary
  3. Death of a 16-year-old out behind the old Methodist church
  4. A tornado that swept through part of the county
  5. Illegal marijuana sales
Nope, not sure I want to visit.

Having said that, the crimes and writing did hold this readers attention. When the local sheriff, the Investigative Services Bureau of the National Park Service, and the FBI, are all involved in the mess that defined the Trace that week, things do get interesting. The mix of crimes, law enforcement agencies, and characters, easily make for a 5-star book.
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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.




Thursday, November 4, 2021

Her Daily Bread - A Review

 



Her Daily Bread




by

Kate Wood

Reviewing this book requires me to ask two questions First, would I purchase this book for myself?  Second, would I purchase this book for my wife or daughter-in-law?

This is a devotional book with one recipe substituted per week in lieu of the devotional. The devotionals are personal reflections on the author’s life. They each conclude with a Biblical reference or two, related to though not directly addressed in the daily devotionals.  The individual entries are not scholarly, but they are well-written thoughts offered for six days a week for a year. 

The recipes offered each week come from seven distinct categories: Snacks, Soups, “Sides, Salads, and Sauces”, Entrees, Breakfast, Beverages, and Desserts. The recipes, themselves, are a bit more high-end than I would expect at my daily family’s meals - perhaps at a special meal when entertaining guests.

 

Back to my two questions. Would I buy this book for myself: NO! Would I buy this book for my wife or daughter-in-law: maybe, as a birthday or Christmas present? They would find refreshment in the devotionals. I do not know how much use they would make of the recipes.  I will give the 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 mine alone.




Sunday, October 31, 2021

The Family Bible Devotional Volume 2 - A Review

 



The Family Bible Devotional

Volume 2

by

Sarah M, Wells


The subtitle describes this book well: “Stories from the Gospels to help Kids and Parents Love God and Love Others”. What the author has done is to compile a set of 50+ devotionals for parents to share with their children.

After briefly giving some brief suggestions on using the material found in the book, each of the 52 devotions follows a similar pattern:
  1. A one-paragraph description of the setting for the chosen text.
  2. The week’s scripture is quoted using The Message
  3. Some suggested Bible study questions and provide an opportunity for each member of the family to ask their own questions
  4. “A Closing Thought” summarizing the lessons that may have come from the passage
  5. A “Prayer Prompt” based on the lesson is provided
  6. A couple of activities are suggested to help all participants cement the lesson
  7. Each lesson concludes with a brief bit of trivia taken from scripture, history, culture, etc.
Though my kids are long gone from home, this year’s collection of studies is among the best I have seen for use in family worship. It would make a great gift for a church to make to families with middle school or junior high school students. With a bit of work and patience, it might even be used with a younger family. Though not designed for a church setting, it might also be used as the basis for the weekly study with a small youth group. I can easily give this 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 my own.


Friday, October 29, 2021

Your Words Your Worlds - A Review

 



Your Word Your World


by

Louise Bélanger

A Review 


Jesus wins

Against Satan

We know the outcome

We know the end

It is written in the Bible

“And they lived happily ever after”

Will happen


I’d rather have

That certainty

Than one wish granted

By a story book genie

Even three


Poetry is not often something I would jump at reading, but this book caught my eye - I was not disappointed. The author has composed a set of 28 pieces of Free Verse poetry speaking to the author’s and the reader’s relationship to God and the world. They are thoughtful and meaningful - often addressing real questions that are not simply answered. 

Each poem is two to four pages in length (the snippet above is a fraction of the entire poem), including colorful photographs that draw the reader in. Each poem has its own theme: creation, the Trinity, Fairytale Endings, etc. This thoughtful collection of poems is worth 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.  



Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Dark Intercept - A Review

 



Dark Intercept




Attributed To

Andrews & Wilson

A Review


The authors present a four-star plot with a two-star theme. The story is good and would make a great faith-based book except it attempts to embody spiritual warfare into real armies, both good and bad. The plot would work very well without the addition of the fictionalized creation of spiritual beings that can read people’s minds while also attempting to coerce them to act in ways that are against their best interest and the best interest of humanity. I felt like these “spiritual” elements were sometimes added because the authors did not know how to make the necessary transitions without their additions to the story.

The underlying plot - a young girl being kidnapped, and a former Navy Seal being asked to find and rescue her, would make a great thriller. But with addition of spiritual warfare, the story lost its thrill. Spiritual warfare is real, but not as personified in this book.

If written as a fantasy, rather than a faith-based story, it may have been more acceptable. I will look forward to reading more of these "fantasies"; however, as it is, I have to give the book three-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, October 19, 2021

Trace of Doubt - A Review

 



Trace of Doubt  



by

DiAnn Mills

A Review

Why do I remember

The sins that stalk my soul?

Why can’t I hold on to the

Forgiveness that makes me whole?

Ashes rise to steal my breath.

I choke from downing fear.

Help me, Lord, to cling to You

In never-ending prayer.

When I pick up a new book by DiAnn Mills, I expect to experience the best in Romantic Suspense. Trace of Doubt is no exception. Marissa is the epitome of evil; even the fifteen-year prison sentence had not changed her. Now she would kill her sister and her daughter and break her father’s heart.


Two narrators trade places throughout the book as Shelby Pearce and Denton McClure take turns telling their stories and how those stories interact with Marissa’s malignant behavior. It would not be easy as they each had to deal with lies and misconceptions that wounded their lives and the lives of those around them. They each would need to experience far more of God’s forgiveness and grace than they thought they needed. But He would provide.

The book was intense at places and held my attention. My only concern was the implication that a pastor can provide the level of counseling needed by two of the main characters. Unless the pastor had at least a MS in Counseling, the kind of support needed by Aria and Shelby should normally be done by a professional counselor. Seminary training is not sufficient for the consistent therapy these two women needed. I would suggest that an appropriate warning be added as part of the front matter or immediately following the book’s epilogue. Despite this oversight, the book is worthy of 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.


Thursday, October 14, 2021

Strawberries and Crime - A Review

 



Strawberries
and Crime



by

Elle Brooke White

A Review

A relaxing cozy mystery with a highly intelligent pig. The setting is Little Acorn, a rural town in Southern California among the hills of the Santa Barbara Mountains. Most of the action takes place on the Finn Family Farm or on the local farms owned by the murder victim or the various suspects.

I learned a great deal about farming, particularly organic farming. Assisting the human population in solving the murder/suicide of Linc Pierce are a variety of animals including Horse (a pig who ate like one), Mrs. Robinson (a ladybug), and Fred and Ginger (a pair of nesting barn owls). It was concerning when Charlotte Finn and the Chief of Police took much of the last chapter walking through the evidence to educate their audience and the reader as to how they solved the crime. One would expect a well-written cozy mystery not to require this kind of detail.

The book was a relaxing read and worthy of a four-star review.
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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, October 2, 2021

Labyrinth of Lies - A Review

 



Labyrinth of Lies




by

Irene Hannon

A Review

Cate Reilly, a detective for the St. Louis MO Police Department, and Zeke Sloan, an agent assigned to the DEA, have both gone undercover at the Ivy Hill Academy, an elite girls’ private high school. She to help locate two missing teens; he to investigate a drug cartel that seems to have connection to the same school.

Two problems immediately present themselves. First, the two cases appear to be interconnected. Second, Cate and Zeke have a years-old relationship that went bonkers eight years ago - a breakup that left both very disturbed. Working at a girls’ high school would seem like a cushy assignment except both Cate and Zeke will find their lives in danger. The story is well-written, though at times gaps appear in the story. For example, at one point Cate is out, lost, on a snowy road. The next time we see her, she is on the phone conversing with her handler. No explanation, no hint from where her help came.

The faith-based story held this reader’s interest and might easily appeal to anyone interested in suspense or romantic-suspense literature. I give the book 4-½ 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.


Wednesday, September 29, 2021

All That Is Secret - A Review









All That Is Secret


by
Patricia Raybon

A Review

“Because our gathering this morning,
my sisters and brothers, isn’t so much
about us —and why we’ve come here
—wearing our nice
clothes and our fancy
hats and our new shoes —”
...

“Instead,” Jack added, “we gather in this place
—this holy place—
to worship and praise our God.
So draw in the wanderings of your minds,
 turning from your concerns and worries,
and let’s turn our attentions solely on him.”

Yes! YEs! YES! Patricia Raybon has created a great piece of historical fiction that leaves the reader primed for more volumes in this series. Maybe not from the first line (as per the back cover) but certainly from the first page “readers will be hooked.” From the moment that Joe Spain finds the baby left on the frozen ground on a ranch outside the city of Denver CO, it is clear that somebody is up to no good.

A year later, in 1923, Joe’s daughter arrives in Denver to discover the truth about her father’s death. The home of the second largest KKK chapter in the USA, Colorado becomes a hotbed of anti-black activity and politics. It is in this environment that Professor Annalee Spain, Joe’s daughter, finds herself looking for his story. With the help of the help of the local AME Pastor, Rev. Jack Robert Blake, an orphaned white lad, Eddie Brown Jr,, and a retired Denver DA, Colonel Sidney Castle, she would seek the answers she sought. The KKK makes its presence known, but they are not the enemy that Annalee is really fighting. Families and politics are far bigger problems - holding secrets that even the best of people do not want revealed.

Intense at times, the book is one the reader will not be able to put down. I spent more than one night staying up to get it read. 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.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Brutal Justice - A Review

 



A Brutal Justice


by


Jess Corban

A Review


Some books don’t fit every reader. This is one that did not fit this reader. The author has created a dystopian story that leaves a world where women dominate, and men are demasculated at birth when they receive a “vaccine” that will turn them into “Gentles” that are essentially slaves. Not a pretty picture.

Much of the story focuses on saving the male population so they are allowed to grow into “Brutes”, their natural state. I found the story boring and slow moving - determined at several points to put the book down without finishing it. I would pick it up again to give it another try only to give up again. Eventually, I did not finish the book and moved onto my next book. I give “Brutal Justice” 2-½ 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.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Undercurrent of Secrets - A Review

 



Undercurrent of Secrets



by

Rachel Scott McDaniel

A Review

Two stories, two mysteries, two romances, separated by one hundred years, joined by the love for a paddle-wheeler that had its beginnings in 1914 and that is still plying its trade along the Ohio River serves as the backdrop for this well-told plot.The author weaves the stories together using two narrators, one from the past and one from the present. Together these two narrators allow us to follow the lives of Devyn Asbury and Hattie Louis and their loves and adventures. Bootleggers, kidnappers, arsonists, and murderers all add to this exciting tale.

There are few books that will bring tears to my eyes as I finish them - this one did. I give this piece of faith-based historical fiction 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.  




Wednesday, September 8, 2021

You Can Run - A Review

 



You Can Run



by

Karen Cleveland

A Review


I loved it. I hated it. I suppose that means it was a good book. From the first page to the last sentence, the author provides a compelling story of espionage, revenge, and corruption. The reader will leave the story with a gasp - satisfied and feeling punched in the stomach at the same time. 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.  



Monday, August 30, 2021

The Printed - A Review

 


The Printed



by

Cameron Fitzgerald

A Review

This book is a dystopian look at a post-democratic America where Christian beliefs have been deemed terroristic. Believers are interrogated and, if found guilty, “Printed”. Their fingerprints are painfully removed, and they are sent to rehabilitation centers.

The book follows the lives of Emmet, a believer who is “printed” and Jasper, partially responsible for determining the innocence or guilt of those undergoing interrogation. Emmett is “printed”, but Jasper is transformed as well as he spends time with Emmett. The first third of the book follow Emmett and Jasper as they attempt to escape the current regime; the middle third focuses on Jasper’s transformation as he better understand and accepts Emmett’s faith as his own; the final third focus on the efforts Emmett and Jasper spend on building a place of respite where believers do not need to fear the government’s repressive behavior toward Christians. The climax comes as the pair begin to rescue believers from the rehab centers to which they have been sent.

The author does a decent job of integrating elements of faith throughout the story - but to this reader it seemed a bit much. I never quite got gripped by the story - this reader felt this dystopian sci-fi was less than satisfying. I give the book 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.