Monday, May 23, 2022

The Diva Says Cheesecake - A Review

 




The Diva Says

Cheesecake



By

Krista Davis


Do you like cheeecake? Do you like cozy mysteries? If the answer to these two questions is “Yes”, then you will likely enjoy this book.

Tate Bodoin has died. Sophie Winston, owner of Old Town’s most well-known cheesecake store, had found the body. Now Sophie was a suspect. To clear her name she would need to “help” find the real culprit.

Besides being a very readable cozy, the author also includes excerpts from two local advice columnists within the story and some tasty recipes (both cheesecake and more) at the end of the book. This reader would not try them all, but several are eye-catching and worth considering for a future treat. Between the cozy and the recipes, I give this book four 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, May 15, 2022

A Disturbing Nature - A Review

                                                   A Disturbing Nature



by

Brian Lebeau

A Review

Though I was looking forward to reviewing this book, I found myself discouraged as I read. The discouragement began with the lengthy “Acknowledgments” (3 pages). This was followed by a one page “Author’s Note”. The author’s note seems mostly unnecessary in that it focuses on the setting and timing of the novel - elements clearly covered within the body of the book.


The book itself was more a set of character studies than mystery - this reader found himself quickly losing interest. The well-written story may be of interest to some, but I can only give the book two-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.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Buried In A Good Book - A Review

 



Buried In

A Good Book



by

Tamara Berry

A Review


Sometimes an author does it exactly right. Tamara Berry has done just that. With the right amount of humor, the right amount of suspense, the right amount of romance, and the right amount of clues, Ms. Berry has put together a perfect cozy mystery.

Famous mystery writer, Tess Harrow, has come home for a change of pace with her teenage daughter to Northern Washington - Bigfoot country. She is struggling with her divorce, writer’s block, and teenage angst - would she survive the summer? Before the end of her first day home, she has to deal with body parts (literally) raining down on their temporary home.

As the back-page book blurb says, “... solving a real crime is a lot more difficult than writing about it …” Tess, her daughter, the local sheriff, and the town librarian, would have their hands full as they deal with an evil criminal, suspicious characters, and their own relationships. Here’s hoping for more in the series, the book receives five 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.



Friday, April 29, 2022

Killer in the Court - A Review

 



Murder She Wrote:
Killer on the Court



by

Jessica Fletcher
Terrie Farley Moran

A Review

Jessica Fletcher is visiting her nephew, Grady, his wife, Donna, and son, Frank. It is supposed to be a relaxing break at the beach in Rockaway NY. And it is until Donna discovers her boss’s body lying on a tennis court - her boss’s dead body.

Though there is some initial suspicion that the Fletcher clan may have been involved. That is quickly resolved, but then it falls on Jessica working with the NYPD to eliminate the suspects and identify the guilty party.

The result is a relaxing cozy mystery that moves quickly to a satisfying conclusion. It did leave this reader with two concerns. First, Frank is the most well-behaved, well-mannered, ten-year-old I have ever met - somewhat uncharacteristic for a young man his age. Second, the book’s resolution comes about unexpectedly with few hints provided to the reader as to the guilty party. Even with those flaws, the book was an enjoyable story and well-worth four stars I am giving it.
_____________
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, April 22, 2022

Fatal Code - A Review

 



Fatal Code



by

Natalie Walters

A Review

The space race meets Los Alamos meets pseudocode in this modern faith-based thriller. Theoretical physicist, retired Iowa State professor, and grandfather of Elinor Mitchell has died - the book opens with his funeral. Unbeknownst to Elinor Mitchell, her grandfather has left behind the secrets to a decade old, unfinished, experiment from Los Alamos NM. Elinor had her own secret projects as well. And there were Russian, Chinese, and Industrial spies willing to kill for both.

Into the middle of this steps Kekoa Young, an Hawaiian cyber-expert working with SNAP, a defense contractor assigned to monitor the deepest secrets within the US and other Western governments. His current assignment is to build a relationship with Elinor to determine her commitment to the secrets she has access to - and the evidence suggests she is not as committed as she needs to be.

While most of the story takes place along the streets and areas around Washington DC, the story ends with a distant trip to Hawaii. It will be a difficult journey from the streets of the nation’s capital to the beaches of Hawaii - one that will threaten the lives of both Elinor and Keoka as well as their colleagues.

The book provided the suspense and thrills needed for a few Spring evenings. It deserves the five-star review I am giving it.

______________
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.



A Margin for Murder - A Review

 



A Margin for Murder



Lauren Elliott


A Review

What do you get when you mix a used bookstore owner, a dying library, and a crooked mayor? You get a dead body and a wrecked bookmobile inside a cozy mystery with a twist.

Add a biased cop and a romantic triangle and things get interesting really quick. Lauren Elliott has written an interest-holding story that takes the reader through the different communities of Cape Cod where we meet a world famous author as well as a number of eccentric characters that make the Cape home.

I could not put this five-star cozy down and recommend it to anyone looking for good clean fun and murder.
______________
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, April 17, 2022

Quantum Physics for Beginners - A Review

 



Quantum Physics
for Beginners




by

Sean Lawson

A Review



This book purports to be an introduction to quantum physics - it might better be described as an introduction to the vocabulary of quantum physics. The closest it comes to actually giving details on the subject is an equation on page one:

s-h/2p eV/h

But the author gives no explanation of its meaning or of the terms used.

At one point the author suggests that there are “plenty of free resources available … This essay will explore some of these sites …” but then does nothing to fulfill that promise. No citations, no web sites, no suggestions for further reading.

The feeling I had was that the author wanted his book reviewers to serve as editors, writing,

Dear reader, despite the efforts made in producing an acceptable draft of this manuscript, I would like to warn you that you may find some spelling errors, grammar and even some sentences that may be improved following your advice. I therefore ask you, if you find some errors, to let me know through the ********** app or by contacting me at ***********@gmail.com.

It is not my task as a reviewer to edit an author's work - a disappointing expectation.

Given the quality of writing and the usefulness of the book, this book is not recommended and is being given only one-star.
______________
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, April 12, 2022

Indigenous Theology and the Western Worldview - A Review

 



Indigenous Theology
and the Western Worldview


by

Randy Woodley

A Review

Several years ago I learned that religions, all religions, got their start in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” From this simple beginning all religious movements had their beginning. Thus, I am not surprised that we find remnant. Robert Woodley takes the stories handed down through Indian Culture to share their understanding God and His Creation, in much the same way that Jesus used Parables to share truth with his followers.

I was first drawn to the work of Dr. Woodley after noting his affiliation with George Fox College and Portland Seminary in Oregon. I was further drawn to this book when I found Dr. Woodley earned his PhD through Asbury Seminary, Wilmore KY. I felt less comfortable with the author's attempt to merge his Christian faith with his Native American background, though I appreciated his attempts to do so.

The book is a compilation of the 2019 Hayward Lectures made at Acadia Divinity College in 2019. The written lecture series is composed of three lectures and a set of interview questions following the lecture itself. Though I do not agree with all that I read, I did find the book readable and understandable. Writing as a Native American, this reader gains insight into an unfamiliar culture that has shaped much of American history - for that he is grateful. I recommend the book to pastors and others who work regularly within the indigenous population of the North American continent. I give the book four 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.




Friday, April 8, 2022

Relative Justice - A Review

 



Relative Justice



by

Robert Whitlow

A Review


To those who are willing to look beneath the
surface in the search for truth.
Your perseverance will be rewarded.

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,
to search out a matter is the glory of kings.
(Proverbs 25:2)

Robert Whitlow’s latest faith-based legal thriller is also a medical thriller. David Cobb and his father, Carter Cobb, have a small law practice in Raleigh NC. David’s sister-in-law, Katelyn Martin-Cobb, joined a large DC law firm after graduating from law school. She finds herself in the midst of a major career change at the same time as Carter’s health takes a turn for the worse. Arriving home to support her father-in-law, the Cobb family of lawyers find themselves handling a medical patent suit.

David and Katelyn are exploring the place faith will have in their lives - both personally and professionally. Emerson Chappelle, the antagonist in the story, will be facing similar decisions before the story ends.

This reader found the story intriguing - worthy of my time. The author weaves in themes of spiritual obedience, grace, forgiveness, and family; and he does it well. Robert Whitlow lives up to his reputation in this 5-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 mine alone.




Sunday, April 3, 2022

The Catch - A Review

 



The Catch



by

Lisa Harris

A Review

The judge’s wife has been killed, a courtroom has been ambushed, a protected WITSEC witness has disappeared. And it is all connected.

Madison James and Jonas Quinn, US Marshals, are assigned to one case, but find that they are working on all three. The plot takes us from Seattle’s inner city to the rural forests surrounding the ciTy to the waterways that define the city’s western boundary. Murders, kidnappings, and chase  scenes define the crimes - even as we learn to appreciate the courage and strengths of the Marshals and the victims.

The result is a satisfying faith-based thriller that will hold the reader’s attention from the beginning to the end. Speaking to faith, courage, and grief, the book will be of value to many readers. Though not the author’s best work, it was worth the time I spent reading it. I give the book 4-½ 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.




Wednesday, March 30, 2022

The Souls of Lost Lake - A Review

                                    


The Souls of Lost Lake




by

Jaime Jo Wright

A Review


Two women living 90 years apart are searching for their past. They both reside in Tempter’s Creek, a rural community located near Lost Lake in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. Both are victims of serious crimes and almost become victims of a more serious crime except for the grace of God.

This faith-based novel intertwines two mysteries, two romances, and two complex lives, into a interest-holding story that was difficult to put down. We see God working in the lives of broken people and the results when those people rely on God and they reject that grace and mercy offered to them during the dark times of their lives. The reader also sees the cost that people will pay for making difficult choices.

The result is a book that is perfect summer reading around the campfire or in the days leading up to Halloween. Though Ava Coons may still be roaming the woods around Lost Lake (as the rumors say), the book receives 5-stars from this reader.
______________
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, March 24, 2022

The Heart of American Poetry - A Review

 



The Heart of
American Poetry



by

Edward Hirsch

A Review


Edward Hirsch has compiled an eclectic collection of poetry written by Americans, some well-known and some less so. The poems are accompanied with essays which help the reader understand the environment within which the authors were writing.

Though I only recently found a new appreciation for poetry, I think if this book had been the first I had stumbled upon to refresh my exposure to this genre, I would have said, “No, thank you.” There is little to unite the pieces included except (as indicated in the title) it is American Poetry. As I read, I felt as if I were back in my very unsatisfying freshman literature class. As I did, so many years ago, I would walk away and say, “No more!”

Some of the poems were engaging, but many were not. The result is a collection, a book, that receives only three stars from this reader.
______________
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, March 21, 2022

Mining for Murder - A Review

 



Mining for Murder



by

Mary Angela

A Review

Spirit Canyon SD was located in the middle of a tourist destination surrounded by Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, and Devil’s Tower. It was also an antique hunter's dream. That is what brought Zo (aka Zoelle) to Mountain View Manor and Vera Dalrymaple’s estate sale. Vera had been a professor at Black Mountain College before her passing. Zo’s interest was in the trinkets she had collected over the years, but the most exciting item was an extremely rare book, My Journey West. Though it sold for $16,000 at the estate sale, it was worth so much more - maybe even a man’s life.

Zo’s interest in the book was two-fold. First, she did want to find the person responsible for the murder. She also wanted to see what the book might say about her own heritage. But with the murder, the book had disappeared.

The result is a nice cozy mystery that occasionally had this reader searching for the very real history that lay beneath the legends that provided a foundation for this work of fiction. I give the book 4-½ 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, March 20, 2022

Quest 52 - A Review

 



Quest 52



by

Mark E. Moore

A Review


Quest 52 is a year-long look at the person of Jesus using a set of 52 devotions including daily readings for throughout the year. The book divides itself four groups of 13 studies based on four different themes:

  1. The Person of Jesus
  2. The Power of Jesus
  3. The Preaching of Jesus
  4. The Passion of Jesus
Each of the 52 studies consists of an extended essay (ca. 10 pages), 5 daily devotional exercises, and a collection of “bonus material” available on-lkine. These include videos and PDFs of helpful resources.

The book stands out for a variety of reasons. it is fully grounded in scripture. Scripture permeates both the essays, the daily devotions, and the bonus material. The reader will find himself or herself seeing Jesus in the Old and New Testament. This reader was also appreciative of the interactive nature of the study. The reader is guided as he or she takes a journey through the person and work of Christ - though the author does provide some explicit lessons, the reader is provided questions and material to work through on their own. Finally, the author recognizes that different people learn in different ways. There are plenty of opportunities for the reader to practice visual, aural, and tactile learning styles during each weeks study.

The book could be used as a stand alone study by an individual or as the basis of a small group or classroom study. The resulting volume is well worth the five-stars I am awarding it.

______________

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, March 11, 2022

Dark Angel - A Review

 



Dark Angel




by

Brian Andrews & Jeffrey Wilson

A Review

Andrews & Wilson have taken the common concept of spiritual warfare and embedded it into the physical realm where demons are fought by former military special forces and adolescent “watchers” who have the unique ability to enter into the minds of humans and/or demons, The result is a faith-based fantasy that weaves the world’s spiritual life into a real-world context.

Though the genre is not one I especially appreciate, I did find myself increasingly wanting to see how the story ended the further I read. Not coming to this story with a military background, I appreciated the appendix that included a glossary of terms used within the book. This may not have been my favorite book; but I did find it hard to put down, wanting more and more. The book ends with a brief glimpse of what future volumes hold as the authors continue to write pieces of this story.

I give this book 4-stars while looking forward to what is to come.
______________
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, March 2, 2022

Six Word Stories - A Review

 



Six Word Stories




Edited By

Doug Weller

A Review

Review:
Six Word Stories -
Imagination Starters

Doug Weller has provided a fun collection of stories - each six words long. The first half of the book contains 200 (?) stories consisting of six words each. Some are funny, some are serious, some are thoughtful, all are current - with one exception. The oldest story included in this collection comes from William Shakespeare, “To be, or not to be.”

The book is divided into three main sections:

  1. The first section is a collection of stories written by and submitted to the author.
  2. The second section is a tutorial on writing six word stories - included are more examples of this new art form.
  3. The final section is an invitation and instructions for entering a contest with prizes (including publication) for submitting original six word stories.

I enjoyed reading the many stories included in the first section - coming from around the world, they represent many of the details of life - from childhood to death. Several picked up the very modern theme of the COVID-19 virus. Each was a complete thought (though not always a sentence) that further inspired this reader's imagination. Section two serves as a set of instructions on writing six word stories. It could more easily have been offered as a web page or site, rather than occupying one-half of the book’s pages. It would seem that its purpose was more motivation, rather than instruction. The third section was an invitation for readers to submit their own stories for inclusion in a future volume of this series of books. The current book is the third in the series.

Many of the stories could stand alone, others served as open doors to the reader’s imagination. The result is a five-star book that I enjoyed sharing with my wife and son.

______________
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, February 28, 2022

Meteor Men - A Review

 



Meteor Men





by

Jeff Parker

Sandy Jarrell

A Review


The authors have combined science fiction and a graphic novel into an interest story of an alien visit to our planet. The story is well-written, the graphics are colorful and easily seen, and the lettering is easily read. My only concern is the slightly dystopian ending which leaves the future of humanity in question. I give the book four-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.  



Front Page Murder - A Review

 



Front Page Murder



by

Joyce St. Anthony

A Review


The United States had just committed itself to fighting Germany and Japan in WW II; the Duquesne Spy Ring had been captured, tried, and convicted. At the same time men were joining the war effort leaving women to work the factories and edit the local papers. It was true not only in the big cities, but in the small towns as well. Progress PA was no exception. Irene Ingram had assumed the position of Editor at the Progress Herald when her father departed as a war correspondent in the Pacific Front. Women were filling positions on all 22 lines at Tabor Ironworks.

But when reporter Moe Bauer was found dead, small-town Progress was shaken to the core. The police chief, Irene’s future father-in-law, was convinced it was an accident. Irene was not so sure. When more “accidents” occurred at the Tabor Ironworks’ plant, additional questions were raised. Irene and her staff of reporters would need to dig for the details as they began to report on the changes around town.

The resulting story, though fiction, gave this reader the opportunity to learn a bit about the history of America’s involvement in WW II - both at home and abroad. It provided an intriguing plot that made the reader guess who was fighting for and fighting against American interests. Each chapter begins with a headline from the news - some from history, some from the book itself. If I had any concerns about the book, it was its tendency to weave these stories into the text and then repeat them as a headline at the beginning of the next chapter. But even with that question, I give the book five-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.




Saturday, February 26, 2022

Poems of Faith - A Review

 



Poems of Faith



Edited By

Bob Blaisdell

A Review


Bob Blaisdell has republished his collection of 100 poems selected “from five hundred years of English verse”. Some of the authors are well-known (e.g. Charles Wesley and and John Donne), but many are less well-known. Coming from so many sources and over so many years, this collection of poetry seems less connected than other works that have crossed my path this past year.

Many of the selected works spoke to this reader; but it seemed, at times, easier to find pieces that were either so generic that they might apply to everyone or disconnected to this reviewer's life. I might be more likely to leave this book sitting on my coffee table than to use it as part of my daily spiritual reflections. I give this book three 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.



Friday, February 25, 2022

Murder at the Summer Fete - A Review

 



Murder at the
Summer Fete



by

Victoria Walters

A Review

Being a fan of BBC mysteries, I felt right at home in Dedley Endings, a small village set in the midst of the Cotswold countryside, and the scene for a new, interesting, and sufficiently complicated, cozy mystery. Though this story is set in the current day, it has its roots thirty years in the past.

The story is particularly interesting in that it takes two distinct phases. The first phase is discovering the person responsible for the murder of Michael Jones. Phase two involves exposing the criminal to an unbelieving world. Both parts of the story are intricate enough to hold the reader’s attention from the Prologue to the final pages of the book. The story becomes more complicated when Nancy Hunter and her family and friends must stumble on the truth while having little trust in the local police force.

While thoroughly enjoying the book, there was one (two?) concerns - the current book is closely tied to the previous (i.e. the first) book in this series and to the next book (i.e. the third) book in the series. From a publisher’s and writer’s perspective, this will encourage purchase of more books; from a reader’s perspective, this is distracting and unneeded for the enjoyment of the current story. For this, I give the book 4-½ 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.