Monday, June 30, 2014

Black List

Wow!!  You gotta read this book!  It’s scary to the point of paranoia.  It could so much be real!  Scott Harvath, a counter terrorism operative has just been added to the black list.  Through a well orchestrated plan, his entire company has been targeted for treason, and most of them eliminated.  His trip from normalcy to fight for life status, is absolutely the stuff that the best thrillers are made of.  New York Times bestselling author Brad Thor has given us a story that is, to borrow from the flyleaf, “action-packed and frighteningly real.”  I honestly was on the edge of my seat through almost all of this read.  The first few chapters are introducing all the characters and bringing their relationships together, which is never my favorite part.  However, I have learned to hold on for the story that almost always comes together after the “character connections” are made.  This book does not disappoint; in fact, it exceeds my expectations.   This is my first time to read a novel by this author.  I had never heard of him before I saw this book.  And, as I say, some of my reviews are of little known but great reads.   I think this is one of those.  I suppose it is possible that he is very well known and I missed that, he has written a dozen or so books.  I happened across this in the bargain bin of my local grocery store, marked way down for sale. Of course, any author’s book can eventually get there!  This came out in 2012, so it is not brand new.  The plot of Black List is so well woven into a convoluted ball of wax, that alone is a puzzle to solve.  And solve it, he does.  I just cannot say enough good about this book.  I especially appreciated reading a book for its story, and not one that grabs you with its graphic content, sex, violence, etc.  It is hard core thriller for engaged minds, no cheap thrills here.  Find it, buy or borrow it, read it.  You will be glad you did!  This is the stuff of blockbuster movies and I would love to see one of his books on the big screen, which I think may be happening soon.  Check it out.  By the way, make sure you read the Epilogue.
Read more about Brad Thor at: 

Up next-DiANN Mills newest offering "Firewall" including a special guest post from DiANN with pics--don't miss it!  See you next time!  


Monday, June 23, 2014

Gardenias For Breakfast

Gardenias For Breakfast is a change of pace for author Robin Jones Gunn.  You may know her from her "Sisterchicks" series of books.  This novel is a break from the typical story of grown-up girlfriends and their adventures, which Robin writes well.  It is the story of a cross-country trek to Louisiana with Abby and her daughter Hannah, staying with relatives all along the way.  That should be enough to wear you out, in itself.  It comes with it's share of relative awkwardness, the result of old issues that Abby thought she had put to rest.  Grand Lady is the family matriarch and Abby has a lifetime memory of one magical summer spent with her. Abby was 12 yrs. old when her mother sent her there. Her father was dying and her mom did not want her to be in the house with all the grief hanging over it.  She hopes that Hannah will find that same magic in the week that they spend there, as she found in her grandmother's house as a child.  When Abby arrives this time, she finds the house not as big as she remembers it and the town sleepier and smaller than she recalls.  She begins to think you can't go home again, or, in this case, back to Grandma's again!  Grand Lady is not as grand as she remembers, but still a wonderful grandmother.  Hannah does not make an immediate connection with Grand Lady and this is a source of disappointment for Abby.  Hannah did make a connection with Abby's mother, whom they stayed with on the way to Louisiana.  Abby is estranged from her mother and she wonders that her daughter feels a connection to her.  As it happens, Hannah and her grandma share a love of art, and a talent for painting, which makes them friends from the start.
As the week goes by, Abby confronts her past and finds answers to long held questions, mostly through her interaction with her aunt and uncle and with Grand Lady, herself.  It is all about finding your story.  Grand Lady tells her that her story will come find her when the time is right.  It does, and Hannah also has a beginning to her story with this visit.  This is a story of the love and complications that sometimes plague a mother and her relationship with her daughter.  I enjoyed reading this and appreciated Ms. Gunn's insight into the relationships that form our views on female interactions in a family.  I give it four stars.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

In the Field of Grace

The Biblical story of Ruth and Boaz is beloved because it is a concise detailed description of the lineage of Christ that we can see clearly in history. The title of this book is descriptive of the grace that Ruth benefits from in the fields of Boaz, born of God’s love for her and personified in Boaz’s heart for God.   In the Field of Grace relates that story and transports the reader right to the heart of that history and the story and even to the heart of Judah.  It brings tears of joy that you share with Ruth when she is enveloped by delight from the realization that God loves her and does have provision over her, as well as sympathy for her sorrow when her despair of ever belonging or having a life of consequence washes over her; which comes as a result of her rejection in Bethlehem because she was a Moabitess.  I could have done without Ruth’s vision while she was in a death-like sleep (coma) after the birth of Obed, as it hearkens to the current fascination with stories about visiting heaven and God during a death experience, then returning to earth.  None the less, this does not detract from the beauty of the story and Ms. Afshar’s ability to relate to us the account of Ruth and Boaz.  The author is a natural story-teller and the ease with which she drew me in to the heart of the characters is a clear indication of that.  She uses just enough poetic license to bring everyday reality to the story which was certainly present in Bible times, via a glimpse of the culture, daily routine, and clear picture she paints of God’s law being followed, or not.  I was absorbed into this era from the beginning of the novel with the author’s descriptive narrative of the times, the place and the people.  It reads very easily and kept me turning the pages to see what beauty was in store next.  It is a comforting, reassuring account of God’s unfailing love for His people.  This is a book to be best savored sitting outside on a summer day with a tall glass of iced tea and an uninterrupted afternoon.  I give In the Field of Grace five stars and I think I will be reading Ms. Afshar’s other works, as well.  I was given an e-reader copy of this book from the publisher, Moody Publishers, free of charge in exchange for my honest review.  These words are my opinion.
Read more about Tessa and her writing at Tessa Afshar

In the Field of Grace   -     By: Tessa Afshar

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Fight

In honor of Father’s Day I am reviewing an especially good book for fathers and sons to read, and I have been able to include a Q&A session with the author.  I asked him several questions and I have those and his answers at the bottom of this post.  Enjoy!
Sam Pennington’s dad has died and his world has been turned upside down.  He and his mum have been forced to leave the farm where they lived with his father and are now settled in a public housing apartment in East London, hopes and dreams gone.  Sam is angry and his anger finds its way out through his fists.  He is on the brink of being kicked out of school when he meets Jerry, a trainer at a local boxing gym.  It turns out Sam has talent in the ring and he begins training for competitive boxing.  Sam trains well and advances in the field but Jerry holds back on sharing his faith with Sam.  This proves to have disastrous consequences for both of them until Jerry finally confronts the demons of his past which he has pushed to the very back of his mind.  The journey that Sam and Jerry take to their faith is filled with mishaps and complications until you are certain they are not going to get to God, after all.   In Luke Wordley’s debut novel, you find the expertise of one who has written many novels even though this is his first, his obvious talent for writing making it a gripping read.  The Fight is a compelling story of loss and victory, a first-rate story of fathers and children making their way to one another.  It is written in an easy to read conversational way; no flowery descriptions of the characters or the setting.  And yet, it has all you need to picture Sam’s circumstances and the despair he is feeling.  It flows from one word to the next, one page to the next, until you have finished the story. In other words, hard to put down!  This is a story for the heart in all of us, not just for men!  I give it five stars!  I received a copy of this book free of charge in exchange for my honest review.  These words are my opinion.
I am looking forward to Luke Wordley’s next novel which I understand he is getting started on now.   I had the opportunity to ask the author a few questions about his writing, which you can read below. 
       Was there a specific motivating factor that made you set your novel around boxing, as opposed to some other masculine theme?

The overall storyline for The Fight came to me in a matter of minutes, so it wasn’t really a planned, thought-through process. I’m always nervous of saying that I believe God gave me the story in case people think it’s awful, but it honestly felt like that. My over-riding desire as a writer though is to write books which appeal to men as well as women so, perhaps on a sub-conscious level, my interest in boxing as a young man may have had a part to play.

       Did you read as you were growing up and if so, did that influence your writing style and/or the type of writing you want to do?

As a child, I grew up reading authors like Wilbur Smith and Frederick Forsyth. When I came to faith aged 19, I naturally looked for similarly paced, adventure stories, but with a Christian theme to inspire me in my new faith. I didn’t find many, in the UK at least, and I think frustration at that gap in the market partly inspired me to begin writing myself.  

Do you have a favorite author or style of book you like to read and do you read for leisure (rest and relaxation)?

I actually mainly read biographies and true accounts – both Christian and secular. I love stories of faith, and testimonies of God changing lives, as well as political memoirs. I do like a good John Grisham though. What a story-teller!

I am increasingly reading to research for my next book projects too. The book I am currently writing is set in Africa, a continent I have visited many times. The story took an unexpected turn recently, with one of my minor characters being abducted into child soldiering, so I have started researching the subject. I have just finished reading War Child by Emmanual Jal – one of the most extraordinary accounts I have ever read. 

Read more about Luke at

Monday, June 9, 2014

A Moment in Time

When Alice Chesterfield’s family is broken apart and she suffers an attack in which her father is killed, her hope is also killed.  She carries a physical scar from the attack, but the emotional scars that she bears are traumatic.  Her father had secrets that brought ruin to them.  The attacker continues to pursue her, demanding what she does not have to give.  Left with nothing but memories and unanswered questions, she accepts the offer of a new life in Texas, in the hope that she can escape the assailant’s threats.  She boards a train with her friend Marty, who is moving back to her family’s ranch.  There she meets an intriguing man that may bring a life with everything she dreams of, but he is seemingly spoken for.  This story of tragedy and its aftermath is well written and realistic.  Tracy Peterson has spun a tale of hurt and forgiveness that pictures what happens when we get in God’s way and what wonderful things can happen when we step back and wait for our Heavenly Father to work in His most perfect time.  A Moment in Time is a gentle reminder that allows the reader to ponder the gift of grace and forgiveness and how we must give ourselves, as well as others in our life, those gifts.  It is easy to read and has enough depth that I was eager to keep reading.  This is Book #2 of the Lone Star Brides saga.  I think I should read the first book in this series!  I can highly recommend this and I give it five stars!
I received a copy of this book free of charge from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for my honest review.  This review is my opinion.

Please return the end of this week for a special Father's Day blog.  I will be reviewing a debut novel by a talented new author.  Hope you can make it!
Jeri ~

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Face to Face with Jesus - A Former Muslim's Extraordinary Journey to Heaven and Encounter with The God of Love

A story for the ages is Samaa Habib’s conversion experience and her trials in Christ.  She was a young Muslim girl when she converted to Christ after realizing that Allah was not answering her prayers.  When being nearly crushed during civil war in a mob that broke out while she was waiting in a bread line, she “cried out in desperation to the God of Abram, Isaac, and Jacob…”  She relates her gradual journey to the God of Love through being invited to a Ta kwon do class that was being held by missionaries in the gym of the local school.  At first glance, this is just too good to be true.  After reading her story I know that my hesitation is because I am not used to seeing God work in an intense and miraculous way.  I see the provision of God and His hand in the situations she encounters that only God can work in.  I have no doubt that her life experience has happened the way she relates it to us.  Samaa tells her story in somewhat basic conversational sentences which reflect her grasp of English as a second language, bringing a realistic feel to this book.  Her knowledge of the Scriptures is evident and her application of God’s Word to situations she encounters is enlightened.  Her trials and triumphs are real and bring to my mind the verse in 2 Cor. 2:14, “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.” (NKJV)  There are a few loose ends left in the narrative and she sometimes stretches a Bible verse a little beyond context.  Her death experience which took her to be “Face to Face with Jesus” is a reach for me.  However, I do know that if God wants her to speak with Christ, face to face, and return to earth to tell of it, He will make that happen.  I see nothing in the scriptures to tell me that anyone in present day, with the Word made perfect, will go to heaven and then return to tell about it.  The only thing for you to do is read her story and draw your own conclusion.  John 16:12-13 gives insight to this.  His ways are not our ways.  I give this four stars.

I received a free copy of this book from Chosen, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for my honest review.  This review is my opinion.

Thanks so much for being here, happy reading!

Face to Face with Jesus: A Former Muslim's Extraordinary Journey to Heaven and Encounter with the God of Love  -     By: Samaa Habib, Bodie Thoene