Thursday, October 29, 2015

On This Foundation

This is the third and last installment of The Restoration Chronicles, by Lynn Austin.  This story is about Nehemiah rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.  Beginning with the petition by Nehemiah to King Artaxerxes to return to his homeland and supervise the rebuilding of the walls (Nehemiah 2:5).  God is mighty and he moves Artaxerxes to grant Nehemiah's petition.  The story moves forward from there with the king even writing letters to the kings of the region, to let Nehemiah get all the wood he needs from the forest in the region to rebuild.
Ms. Austin fills in the small details of daily routine and gives life to the characters as Nehemiah sets out to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls.  As Nehemiah approaches Jerusalem, you feel his elation at seeing his city, but also his disappointment at the sight of it laying in ruin.  "...Jerusalem, city of his ancestors, lay below him.  His breath caught at the wonder of it--and also at the desolation of it.  Piles of rubble and burnt stones lay scattered everywhere."  
This novel, based on Biblical events, draws a compelling picture of the opposition that Nehemiah and his workers are up against when Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem get wind of it; they set out to stop the construction.  The author gives an excellent depiction of God's work in favor of Nehemiah and the faithful when they are able to stop the attacks and finish the rebuilding.
This is a well written book and a fitting end to the series.  Lynn Austin is a bestselling author and and eight-time Christy award winner for her historical novels.  Her books have sold more than one million copies worldwide.  The first two installments in this series are Return to Me and Keepers of the Covenant.   These books take the reader from the beginning of the return of the Jews from exile, to the finish of rebuilding Jerusalem.  I read the second installment but not the first.  I plan to read it and I recommend that you read the series.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, Bethany House, in exchange for an honest review.  These words are my opinion.

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Friday, October 9, 2015

Murder at the Courthouse

A.H. Gabhart pens a new story in the Hidden Springs Mysteries series.  The story begins with a dead man propped up on the courthouse steps, first thing in the morning before there is any stirring in the little town of Hidden Springs, Ky.  The body is found by Miss Willadean Dearmon as she approaches the courthouse to make her daily round of the offices there to make sure her duly elected officials are at work and using her tax dollars wisely.  She passes by thinking the dead man is drunk and rude, not speaking to her.  No clue on her part that he is dead.  A drunk on the courthouse steps is her first complaint of the day.  You can imagine what happens when she insists that the Sheriff go out there and do something about that!
As the story unfolds, they determine he has been shot in the back and begin to conjecture about who could have caused his death.  As the Sheriff works to identify the man and find the perpetrator, a mystery begins to unravel.  Of course I will not tell you who "dunnit."  I am no spoiler.  As you read you will see several characters that could have done the murder.  The disappearance of a prominent member of the community makes it look like that person may have committed the act, as well as others who seem to behave suspiciously.  It does have a surprise ending, because you may not suspect who the killer is and the unwanted strings that tie these people together.
This novel is well written.  That is because the words flow from page to page and the story is interesting.  It makes it easy to read.  The grammar and sentence structure add to the quality of the work.  It's all good.  It is a light read and as I have said in the past, a light read is sometimes exactly what you need to relax with.  This could be considered a cozy mystery but it has too much depth and enough character development to take it out of that genre. I enjoyed it and recommend you give it a shot!  Get that?  Give it a shot?  Anyway, I give Murder at the Courthouse five stars!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, Revell, in exchange for an honest review.  These words are my opinion.
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Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Memory Weaver

This newest fiction release from Jane Kirkpatrick is based on the life of missionaries Henry and Eliza Spalding.  They served the Nez Perce Indians in the Pacific Northwest.  More accurately, it is based on their oldest child Eliza's (named for her mother) life after the Whitman Massacre in 1847. The Whitmans were fellow missionaries at a mission farther west.   Eliza was witness to the massacre as a child and dealt with those memories much of her adult life.  She happened to be at the Whitman mission when it occurred.  She was taken hostage and as the only survivor who spoke the Nez Perce language, she was made to serve as interpreter between the indians and the missionaries.  The attacking tribe was Cayuse but spoke the Nez Perce language.
The memories Eliza has are not all accurate, only the way she remembers them and much of her life after that was influenced by those memories.  She grows into a strong independent young woman but struggles with her husband's desire to take his cattle to range in the area close to where the massacre happened.
From the back cover:
 "Haunted by memories and hounded by struggle, Eliza longs to know how her mother dealt with the trauma of their ordeal.  As she searches the pages of her mother's diary, Eliza is stunned to find that her own recollections tell only part of the story."

This is a well written novel with good dialogue and picturesque descriptions of the Pacific Northwest.  I appreciated the care taken to ensure the grammer and sentence structure were accurate.  It is told in the first person by Eliza with every few chapters being interspersed with pages from her mother's diary.  It took me a few chapters to understand that all the diary writings are from Eliza's mother, with the bulk of the story being Eliza's telling of her life.  Mother and daughter both named Eliza required a little more attention than I normally give. That's not a bad thing, though.
This is my first time to read a Jane Kirkpatrick novel.  I was impressed with the talent and skill that is evident in her writing.  It is difficult to write about history, making it a novel and still keeping the accuracy of the events, while fictionalizing some of the daily life and characteristics.  Mrs. Kirkpatrick does a good job with that.  I recommend The Memory Weaver  and give it five stars.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell for the purpose of an honest, unbiased review.  These words are my opinion.
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Monday, September 14, 2015

The Martian by Andy Weir

Wow!  White knuckle reading for sure.  But, it did take a while for me to get to that place.  It begins with the reader being made aware that astronaut Mark Whatney has been left behind on Mars by his crew.  They think he is dead. A hellacious storm is headed their way and the crew makes haste to get from the HAB to

 the MAV to abort mission and head back to their space station home, the Hermes.  On the running (as much as you can in a spacesuit) trek to the MAV "flying wreckage slammed Watney carrying him off into the wind."  This detail comes halfway through the book, which is ok.
The author starts this story with Astronaut Watney regaining consciousness and realizing that he has been left behind by his crew.  Not their fault.  Truly an accident.
Andy Weir tells the story of Mark surviving alone on Mars, in the MAV and HAB utilizing everything he can find.  I do mean everything.  He tells it with humor that gave me a laugh-out-loud frequently.  The protagonist is an extremely resourceful and intelligent individual.  He is an astronaut, after all.  His calling is botany with mechanical engineering thrown in.
This book is well written, grammatically correct and sentence structure is good.  I did find it a little dry during the time that Watney was into a daily routine doing all things he knew he needed to do to survive.  I read through that and it picked up when he established communication with earth.  It was pretty exciting from that point on.
I know this has been made into a movie, with Matt Damon playing the part of  Watney and I could see Matt as the character of Mark Watney from the first page.  My copy is the newly released movie tie-in version so it may not read exactly as the original-not sure about that.
This is a debut novel from Mr.Weir that was first published in 2011.  The movie tie-in version which I read just came out and the movie is due soon.  It is a good book, and I recommend you get a copy and check it out.  I give The Martian four stars.  I received a complimentary paperback copy of this book from Blogging for Books, in exchange for an honest review.  These words are my opinion.
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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Rare Earth

Let me begin by telling you this book was a 2013 Christy Award winner for "Best Suspense Novel".  In this story of suffering refugees which is really so much more than that, Marc Royce is thrown into a Kenyan refugee camp as a last minute hire for the United Nations, sent to replace the man who had trained extensively for this assignment.   He was to audit the organization that was providing relief and support to the refugees.  Davis Bunn wrote this about the greed for power and money that displaces people and nations.
Marc is pulled into the suffering and cannot help but look beyond that suffering to begin to put together odd pieces of a puzzle that do not fit the picture he sees.  Thus he finds the machinations of Lodestone, the relief organization that he is to audit.  He gets to know the Kenyans that are being evacuated and in time, gains their trust and respect.  They begin to tell him about how they are being evacuated because a volcano is erupting nearby.  Whole villages are being moved; a culture and way of life are being destroyed.  Wrapped up in all of this is the Christian/Islamic/Judeo conflict in that part of the world.
I was unfamiliar with rare earth minerals until I read this story.  In fact, I had never heard of them before this.  I researched the topic and found that they are real and they are used  in our cell phones and computers, tablets, smartphones;  all of that.  These minerals are only found in a few places in the world.  That fact, of course, makes for much competition in the rare earth market, worldwide.  They are irreplaceable to the technology industry.  China has the monopoly on the rare earth market and the world buys from them.  I had no clue, quite honestly.  The United States buys these minerals from China.
The author writes with such honesty and conviction that it brings the story to life.  He draws the characters realistically with their fears, secrets, all the humanity that is in us.  Davis Bunn writes Christian fiction and I appreciated the fact that God was a big part of the story and His working was evident.  When I am able to read a novel in which the author has included the faith of the main characters, and God's hand in the solution, that is a good book.  And yet, the realistic horror of war and the violence that takes place give the book authenticity. Mr. Bunn has other Marc Royce novels which I intend to read.  His writing reminds us that God truly is everywhere, even when He seems most distant.
 I highly recommend Rare Earth and give it five stars.  I pulled this book from my TBR stack to read and review for you.  It is the 2nd in a series of three.  Lion of Babylon is the first in the series; Strait of Hormuz is the last.  I will be reading both of these.
You can read more about Davis Bunn books and the Marc Royce series at Davis Bunn / Rare Earth.  
Read more about rare earth minerals at Rare Earth Minerals.  You may be amazed.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The English Girl by Daniel Silva

Once again, I started in the middle of a series!  This is the second book in Mr. Silva's Gabriel Allon series.  First came The English Assassin, published in 2002.  The English Girl was released in 2013.  This year the third book was published on June 30.  It hit the NYT best-seller list on July 19. You have probably seen it advertised.  If you are a fan, you may have already read it!  Gabriel is an art restorer who also is a spy, who also is an Israeli.  He is the good guy.
I was drawn in from about the first page.  It is an excellent example of an international spy novel, with murder thrown in.  Madeline Hart is the English girl and the story weaves around her kidnapping but more intriguingly the reason for that kidnapping.  She is snatched up while on holiday in Corsica with friends.  Gabriel is called in to find and rescue her and has seven days to complete the mission and bring her home alive, or the kidnapper will kill her.  There is so much more going on here, which makes this novel a hard one to put down.  What I love is when I am surprised by what happens and whom I didn't suspect was involved in those happenings.  That was this book.  Madeline is an up and coming young member of the UK political scene.  The kidnapping reveals Russian collusion with Britain and much more that I will not go into. I would end up telling you the whole story.  It is hard for me to tell you about a book I have read without telling you the whole thing!  I have procured a copy of The English Assassin, the first in this series and will be reading The English Spy also, which is the just published third book.  
Daniel Silva has been called a "master spy novelist" and I agree.  He has published 18 thriller and espionage novels.  I read The Rembrandt Affair a few years ago and it was an excellent read as well.  I think I will probably start reading through most all of his novels.  

I highly recommend The English Girl. It is a curl up and read type of novel.  Or, this time of year, a book to sit with under a shady tree and sip a large iced tea!
I give The English Girl five stars!  I took this book from my collection of TBR's.  
You can read more about Daniel Silva and his writing at Daniel Silva

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Friday, July 10, 2015

Island of the Red Mangroves

In a nutshell, this is the story of a mixed race young woman in Jamaica, 1753.  It includes a lot of historical fact woven into the story.  It is drawn from the history of Jamaica and the slaves who lived there.
Deirdre is the daughter of an Englishwoman and a slave.  Hence, there is your story.  She is raised by her mother and stepfather and grows up well-loved by both in a privileged environment.  Her parents have slaves but they are the best treated and cared for slaves on the island.  This leads to a little animosity on the part of the other plantation owners.  However, they are still well liked.  Deirdre comes of age and falls in love with a young doctor, Victor.  They marry and depart for Saint-Domingue on Hispaniola.  Their hope is that Deirdre can live a life free of the stigma that a mixed background brings her.  There is another protagonist in this story who also wishes for a new life.  She is not privileged and not cared for.  I will stop there, in case you are inclined to read this book.
I was not so much intrigued as I read this.  It did not have the character development that I look for to make the characters seem real and absorb my attention.  It is well written, though not deep.  It is one of many stories from history that are much the same.  If you love Caribbean history and are eager to always read fiction about it, then you will like this book.  I love settings in a tropical locale and I love history, but this just did not strike a cord with me.  In fact, I was not able to make myself read all the way through it.  I think when I saw the familiar story line taking place, my attention started to wander.  I am willing to say it is probably a good read for many but did not turn out to be my cup of tea.
This is my first read of a Sarah Lark novel and I am not sure I will try another one.  If you are a fan, you will want to pick up a copy of this and get started.
I give Island of the Red Mangroves three stars.  I received a free e-book copy of this novel from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  My opinion is my own.  My thanks to them for the opportunity to read and review.
You can read more about this book and author at NetGalley
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Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Fold by Peter Clines

So, this is pretty much my first foray into to the (soft) science fiction genre.  This is not true science fiction.  It is written in an easy to read style, with a basic scientific concept being the plot.  That makes it easy to read for those of us who want to read something different but are not sure if we want to read science fiction.  That basic concept centers around the ability to fold dimensions so to be across the world quickly by stepping through something called the Albuquerque Door.  It's distance travel, not time travel.  The Door opens up a whole Pandora's box of dimensional possibilities; ie; alternate realities, which are mostly not good ones.  Hence, the story unfolds upon nasty things (beings?) coming back through the Door.  Hmmm, is that a spoiler?  Sorry.  Our protagonist Mike, is offered the opportunity to travel to the lab the Door is in and observe the process of the scientific team fine tuning it, whom, by the way, have been traveling over and back from one site, or lab,to another on the same property for some time and logging their trips.  They say it is ready to go but are quite secretive and somewhat defensive.  Oh, and this is a Dept. of Defense funded project.  They are under the threat of maybe losing their funding.  Probably because they will not give out their secrets.  I mean, if you hold the purse strings, you want the scoop on what your money is buying, right?  So, Mike is offered a summer job (he is a school teacher by trade) to observe and determine if the Door should continue to get funded. He has a photographic memory and never forgets anything--that's a nervous breakdown right there!  That is why his long time friend Reggie, the head of the finances for the project, recruits him.  Mike accepts the job, makes observations, reports to Reggie, but--along the way he finds something wrong with the Door.  Before he can figure it out and decide to report it to Reggie, things start to happen.  At this point, you will be halfway through the book.  When the action finally takes off it is a pretty good read and I kept seeing it as a movie while I was reading it.  I think it may be a better movie than a book.
The characters are a good assortment of scientific types with their odd quirks and are pretty believable.  One character continuously replies with the "F" word which grows old pretty quick.  She uses it so much, I felt a yawn coming on every time she began to speak.  The grammar is good in this book, which is a pet peeve of mine, so that is at least one star.  I did find the author writing about Mike's injuries as "fishhooks" of pain and referring to it like it was a new thing several times.  If something is an ongoing presence it becomes "the fishhooks" so the reader knows the same problem is still showing itself.  This always leads me to wonder "where was the editor?"  At any rate, I will not tell you what the "something wrong" is that Mike finds.  That really would be a spoiler and I wouldn't do that.  Also when I read the part that reveals the reason behind the team not revealing their secrets I thought, "Seriously?!? That's what all the secrecy is about? A team of scientists, one who is famously published, is no smarter than that...!?"  What a letdown.
It is worthy of reading, but no blockbuster here.  I really linger between three and four stars on this.  Definitely not four, but not so bad as three, so I give The Fold three and a half stars.  Those stars are for ease of reading and good sentence structure, not so much for a fantastic story with a killer plotline.
None the less, pick it up.  Everybody has different tastes.
I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.  These words are my opinion.
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Monday, June 15, 2015

Sunshine Hunter (A Susan Hunter Mystery - Book I)

I am just discovering Chick-Lit, also known as cozy mysteries, from what I hear.  I have stayed away because I thought they were just so much fluff on top of a mediocre story.  I was wrong about that, I think.  Sunshine Hunter has good plot lines and the story-telling by Ms. Cochere is first rate. It had everything needed to keep me turning the pages to the end so that I could find out who was stalking whom (one of two central characters) and why.  I had no idea who the bad guy was until it was revealed near the end.  I could see the depth of character in Sunshine Hunter as I watched her battle back and forth with decisions and situations.  She attracts trouble like white on rice!  As I read, I could see trouble about to  happen but the author writes the character so well, I could tell she never saw it coming!  Susan works in a weight loss center by day and a racquetball club at night.  As the story goes, she takes off for Florida with a friend for a week after finding out that her boyfriend is married.  She just needs to get over him and clear her head.  See, this is why I have never read these kinds of stories!  Is that a cliche plot-line, or what?!  However, there is murder, stalking, accidents, car chases, mysteries abound.  She ends up in the Gulf of Mexico on a flaming fishing boat!  I am telling you, check this out. It is light and breezy, easy to read and the perfect beach read, too. Lots of laughs and also lots of surprises.  I give Susan Hunter five stars!  I loaded this as a free read on my Kindle app, it is not a new release.  
This is Book One--I am checking out the rest!   

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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Choosing

In this debut novel from Rachelle Decker, we are transported to a future that is not one we would want to live in; but there is hope even in this for a better one.  We meet Carrington Hale, for whom life will be wonderful, every young woman's dream, if she is chosen.  If she is not, that will be her fault, as will the outcome of not being chosen.  She will spend her life as a Lint, the lowest level of this futuristic society, knowing that she is there of her own doing.  If you like dystopian stories, this is one for you.  I like them and I liked this book.  I knew from the time I held it in my hands that I would enjoy reading it.  The cover is a beautifully done satin finish heavyweight paper.  The inside is printed on quality paper, making it easy to hold in your hand.  It gave me that familiar feeling that I had a good read in my hands and I was anxious to start. I was not disappointed.  It is absent of multiple plot layers, which can be a refreshing change.  There is one story with multiple characters and Ms. Decker is able to keep the intensity going. Just when I thought I knew what was coming, I was surprised.   I would like to see more development of the secondary characters plot line and see that woven into the big picture with more depth. This novel does have that, but not to the detail that I think makes an even more intriguing read. The writing lacks the maturity that a seasoned author would provide but this author will come to that maturity as she writes, I feel certain.  It is easy to read, well written dialogue and narrative descriptions. My heart goes out to Carrington as she struggles to find her self-worth while having her unworthiness drummed into her psyche daily.  You know that I will not tell you more. You will have to read it for yourself!  I appreciate the references to God as our all loving Father and the assurance that we are worth being saved.  I would like to see a little more about humanities need for salvation, and the perfect sacrifice, Jesus.  I have a feeling that may be developed as these characters find their way.  None the less, this is an excellent debut novel, and is also a good book for young adults. It would be excellent even if it were not her first book;  it's that good.
I give The Choosing four stars!
I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Tyndale, in exchange for an honest review.  These words are my opinion.

I am pleased to include some Q&A from Rachelle Decker as well as a picture of her.  Enjoy reading some insight into her writing process.

 The Choosing is the first of a three-book series. What can we expect in the next two books?
More struggles with identity, but in different ways. Familiar characters dealing with fear and worry and forgiveness. We’ll walk with our characters as they continue to understand the true way of Aaron’s Father. More excitement, more romance (of course), and more self-discovery.

Did you discover anything about your own identity through the writing process?
I will steal a line from Ted Dekker on this one: “I write to discover.” They are one and the same. Even when I think there’s nothing left to discover, if I let myself be open to discovery, it almost always comes. So yes, I did. And I told my husband, if nothing ever comes of this book, it would still have been worth writing because of the way it impacted my life.

What do you hope readers will take away from the story?
I hope readers are filled with joy and power as they either realize for the first time who their Father is and what they are really worth, or as they simply remember this truth.

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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Shadow of the Mountain - Exodus

"Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are able to overcome it" Numbers 13:30.  You know the rest; giants inhabited the land and Israel let their fear keep them from trusting God to take the land of Canaan for them.
Joshua and Caleb were the only two original survivors left of those who made the journey of the Israelites exodus from Egypt.  In this Biblical history novel, Cliff Graham tells the story of Caleb as he makes ready to attack the city that will be his inheritance.  He is an old man, but refuses to sit idly by and let younger men take the city.  This novel is written as Caleb would tell the story and I found it very engaging.  The battle scenes are realistic and lend a genuine air to the book.  The author does a good job of writing characters that are real to the time they in which they live.  I felt like I was there watching this story take place rather than reading about it several thousand years later.  That is a satisfying read.  
This is a war story and it tells of Caleb's experiences and how his life was shaped by the wars he fought.  It is somewhat graphic but I was able to grasp what the author was saying and lay aside the battle descriptions as I read.  There is very little written about Caleb in the Bible and the author builds his life before meeting Yahweh in a manner that seems as it could have happened.  This is an excellent story for a man to read, as well.  
I won't divulge the details, you must read it. It's just good.
Cliff Graham is a former soldier and officer in the United States Army and he knows how to write about military maneuvers.  He also knows how to write in that nugget of wisdom and knowledge that is gained by a life lived with much experience.
This is the first in Graham's Old Testament Saga.  I will be looking forward to the upcoming volumes.
I give Shadow of the Mountain five stars.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.  These words are my opinion.

I am promoting a fellow blogger today.  You can read there another view of this novel.  I have included a link below;

Thanks for reading!  See you soon!


Book I of Old Testament Saga

Thursday, May 21, 2015

In Firefly Valley

Amanda Cabot has written Book II of the Texas Crossroads series.  Once again, I have dropped unknowingly into the middle of what I see is going to be a good series.  Book I is  At Bluebonnet Lake and I intend to read it to bring me up to date on this series.  I typically like novels with a little bit of edge to them, maybe an old issue that needs resolved.  Or, mysteries and crimes to be solved.  I don't usually read about "everyday people" and/or romance.  But, this one is so much more than that.  What happens when you take a downsized career girl who left home years ago because her father deserted her and her mother and she goes home against her better judgement because it just so happens that her skills can be used there in a paying job, then add in her anger, self-esteem issues and  romance genuinely portrayed (no Cinderella stories here!) ??  I know, run-on sentence but I had to get it all out to give you the full picture. The author's writing guides us to see that this is a story of everyday people with everyday issues that are not common when they are happening to you.  This is life!  Sometimes at its worst, but always at its most real. Add in that the characters have a faith in God that sustains through doubt, trial and fire.  Amanda writes with a clarity that gives ease of reading.  She portrays characters that have human emotions and flaws and makes them real.  I read this in just a few days because I was interested in seeing how it all played out.  It hooked me.  This book is light enough to be a break from harsher, more complex plots, but deep enough to draw the reader in.  What else do you need?!  Excellent book and I highly recommend it.  I give In Firefly Valley five stars.  I have nothing to criticize here, constructively or otherwise.  How refreshing!  Read it;  you'll be glad you did.  By the way, Book III is in the works and scheduled for release in the spring of 2016.
I received a copy of this new release from Revell in exchange for my honest review.  These words are my opinion.
Read more about Amanda Cabot and her novels at Amanda Cabot

Saturday, May 9, 2015


This new release by Eric B. Johnson gives his instruction for living out the reality that Christ is in you, as a believer, and you (we, us, me) should live like it.  His central theme is that God trusts you more than you trust yourself.  
I will tell you right up front, I see good ideas in this book about living like you know that Christ is in you and claiming the power of that knowledge, but I do not wholly subscribe to the author's thought process behind that fact.  This work is well written.  It is easy to read and is not a long book.  All good things for a reader who has a TBR stack and has this title in that pile.  My review of the book based on those things alone would be four to five stars.  
I will give you my thoughts on the subject matter and let you make your own decision about reading "Christ in You" which is what I always attempt to do on this blog.  
Mr. Johnson begins his introduction with the story of his own "rewiring" by God in a few areas of his life.  This took place over a period of about ten years.  He relates that it did not happen overnight but through a series of small instances such as a scripture that stood out to him, or a situation that he was in or an experience that he had.  This rewiring is what led to his writing of this book.  He states our need to love humanity as Christ did, not just as an obligatory action that we choose because the Bible instructs us to love others.  He states, "True love is not obligatory, rather, it comes from a deep place in your heart."  Love for humanity does not always come from a deep place in your heart.  Love for humanity, also known as having a burden for the lost, comes from God who plants that burden in your heart when you live from the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who indwells believers.  I say that to say this;  many times feeling follows action.  If we act out the love we know God wants us to have for our fellow human beings, He blesses that effort and in that blessing comes a genuine love for all human beings as He created us in His image.  That is the love of God, perfected in His children.  
The section on The Intent of Grace stresses the importance of our living not as "sinners saved by grace" which is a common thought, but to live as saved people, no longer sinners. Citing I Tim. I: 8-13,  he states (pp. 96) that "...I believe what Paul is saying is "I was a chief sinner, but because of Christ's death and resurrection, I am now a righteous person through Him."  Our righteousness is a work in progress, daily striving to attain that perfection in Christ.  Becoming a Christian does not cause God to instantly make us righteous. 
Mr. Johnson has a section in this work entitled "Co-Laboring with God" which is a good idea and a good goal.  He states (pp.116) "It is fun to see how God allows the ideas of His people to become part of His plan."  God does not take your ideas and make them part of His plan.  His plan was put in place before the creation of man.  The author quotes Ephesians 2:1-10 which says "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."  I am not seeing our ideas in that.  I do see God calling us to join Him where He is and do the works that He has prepared beforehand because they are the best work we can do.  
I am disappointed that this book only talks about being put on earth to do good.  We were first put here to be companions to God.  We blew that but our loving Heavenly Father put a plan in place for us to be able to have that companionship with Him once again.  Our charge is found in Matthew 28:19-20.  Reaching out to others with the love of God by serving the unlovely and sinners such as ourselves is what brings us the reality that Christ lives in us and that God trusts us more than we trust ourselves. 
These points I have mentioned are but a few from the book that stood out to me as I read. 
I give "Christ In You" three stars.  It is worth the cover price but must be read with discernment and an eye to scripture.  
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, Chosen, for the purposes of review.  These words are my opinion.
Thanks so much for being here!  See you soon!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Dreams of Joy

In Dreams of Joy, Lisa See continues the story of Pearl and May, with Pearl's daughter Joy.  Joy finds out a family secret that sends her reeling.  She is so angry with her mother and aunt that she runs away to Shanghai to find her father.  Her step-father has recently passed away (Pearl's husband) and they are all dealing with that grief and guilt.  You can read why when you read this book. The author takes us on a journey to China with vivid descriptions of the culture and people of Red China.  She writes with the detail that only someone who has been there and studied it extensively can do.  Pearl leaves for China to try to find Joy and repair their relationship in the light of newly uncovered information.  She does a good job of letting us see the worry and fear that Pearl has going back China after having left it 25 years ago.  And the innocence and naivete' of Joy as she strives to convince others that she can help rebuild China to become the "new" China.  I liked this book.  The story of Pearl and May begins in "Shanghai Girls" which I read a few years ago and liked it as well.  It is the story of Pearl and May growing up in Shanghai and their father's loss of fortune.  He sells them off as brides in arranged marriages to American men.  But that's another story!  I read reviews of Dreams of Joy to see what other readers thought and I found a mixture.  Some did not think it kept up the excellent writing that was in Shanghai Girls.  Others thought neither book was that great. Some liked one and not the other.  I happened to like both books and was caught up in the story so that I picked it up to continue as frequently as I could.  I recommend Dreams of Joy and give it five stars.  It is written so that you do not have to read Shanghai Girls first.  You can read either without the other and still get an excellent story from each one.  I am glad I read both.
Thanks so much for being here!


Friday, April 17, 2015

Georgia on Her Mind

Absolutely loved this book!  It is filled with the "life choice" uncertainty that we all feel at some point.  Macy Moore has just lost her job and her boyfriend!  She has spent her life staying away from her hometown of Beauty, Georgia in the years following her high school graduation.  She is determined not to return there to live, for any reason.  She has everything a young career woman wants;  status car, good job, girlfriends, boyfriends, nice apartment until it all falls apart in the space of one lousy day.  We see her faith deepen during the time she job hunts for a new position.  We see her stubbornness displayed when situations come together to lead her back home, but she will not give in.  I was surprised at the depth of this story and the thoughtful writing about her angst regarding her "failed life."  The author writes Macy's journey to a deeper relationship with God in a very genuine way.  This is not just a light and breezy read that you pick up to kill some time.  It speaks to our heart and our conscience.  I enjoyed it also because I am not always in the mood, or patient enough to dig into a big book with a deep story.  This novel had the depth and detail that kept me interested without the multiple layers of plot and countless characters.  I recommend "Georgia on Her Mind" and give it five stars!  This is my first Rachel Hauck novel and I will be checking out some of her other works.  

Thanks so much for being here, see you soon!


Rachel Hauck. Georgia On Her Mind

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Buried Secrets by Irene Hannon

I was excited to get this book and begin reading it.  I like the title and what it could mean for a murder mystery read. "Buried Secrets"-it sounds exciting! After I started reading it, I was disappointed with enough of the book that I did not finish it through, page by page.  I skimmed it and read the last chapter to see if it was brought to a satisfactory end. It was.  My first twinge of discontent began with chapter one, after an intriguing prologue.  The two central characters spent the first four chapters dancing around their attraction to each other.  The author gave us their every thought as they became acquainted and sized one another up out of the corner of the eye.  The buried secret is unearthed in Chapter 1, but it seemed to take forever to get to the identification of said secret, let alone solving the crime.  By the end of Chapter 4, I was beyond ready for the action to begin.  I like romance with mystery, but just that-mystery that has romance that happens during the mystery and is unveiled and discovered while the crime is being solved.  I did appreciate that the faith of the central characters was woven into the story and that prayer to God for guidance was evident.  If you lean more toward romance with a murder and mystery thrown in, you will probably like this book.  It was well written from the grammar and punctuation standpoint and the sentences did flow pretty easily.  All good things for ease of reading.  This was my first Irene Hannon novel and I am not sure I will check out others.  That remains to be seen.  I was given a complimentary copy of this book from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing, in exchange for my honest review.  These words are my opinion.  I give Buried Secrets three stars.
Stay tuned--lots of good reads coming up!  Thanks for being here!

Monday, March 30, 2015

An Appetite for Murder

Roberta Isleib, aka Lucy Burdette,  is the author of this mystery.  She lives in Key West as well as a couple other coastal states, dividing her time between.  This is the first book in the Key West Food Critic Mysteries.  I was on vacation in the Keys recently and found this series of books in a local bookstore.  Let me tell you about it.
Hayley Snow followed her boyfriend (she thought her soul mate) all the way to Key West from New Jersey.  She is somewhat impulsive which gets her into trouble; and passionate-she also tends to ramble in conversation.  These characteristics are what make it so much fun to read about her misadventures!  She gets to Key West, moves in with her boyfriend and things begin to fall flat.  She moves out of his apartment and in with a friend and that is when things begin to happen.  His new girlfriend, who is actually his old girlfriend, turns up dead, a victim of poisoning.  Hayley is the prime suspect and just happens to be a food critic who is writing a trial food review on, (what else?) the best Key Lime pie in Key West.  After all, she does need a job if she is to stay in town. After being taken to the police station twice to be questioned, she comes to the realization that she will have to be the one to prove her innocence.  The things that take place to get in her way are jaw-dropping.  What fun to read this murder mystery!  I enjoyed every page and the laughter it brought!  It is so well written that it flows from page to page, all ends tied together, no plot "unturned" by the end of the book.  I had no clue until the near end, who may have "dunnit!" What a find!  I will be reading and reviewing all five in the series but not back to back.  BTW, this book even includes a few of the recipes from the story.  An Appetite for Murder was published in 2012 and the other four have been published since then, so there is no waiting for the next in the series.  They are all written and available at bookstores and online.
Read more about the Key West Food Critic Mysteries at Lucy Burdette  or Roberta Isleib.  She is also on Facebook and Twitter.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Dauntless by Dina L. Sleiman

Set in England in 1216, this book is, simply put, a story of a female Robin Hood.  Or,  Robin of the Hode, as the English called him.  However, Merry Ellison is much more than that.  Formerly Lady Merry, she now resides in the woods with orphaned children and a few adults who were left homeless by the evil King John and his men.  They are called the "Ghosts of Farthingale Forest" since they rob without being seen, let alone caught, and cannot be found when hunted.  Merry's own family was murdered and her home burnt to the ground, along with the village and residents.  This is the result of her father's failed attempt to assassinate  the evil king.  He paid for that with his life and the lives of his family and villagers.
She now oversees the band of innocent children left behind and silently steals to support them. The goal being to keep them alive and safe from the evil king.  There are a few near adult male and female characters who support her efforts to care for these children.  She once believed in God but blames Him for her loss and no longer believes in a God who could take so much away from so many.  The interesting and refreshing part is that the two young men, Timothy and Allen, who are part of her life are believers and rely on the guidance of the Holy Spirit in their activities and the loving kindness of our Heavenly Father.  This is an excellent example for a young reader.
The story moves along as complications arise and the little band has to move from place to place to avoid detection and capture. In the process, she begins to see the possibility of God again and in the end...   well, I will not tell you which young man wins her heart, or how this ends.
It is well written and I like that the dialogue takes place with understandable English language instead of Olde English and does not detract from the manner of speaking that would have been used in the 13th century.
In the end, this is a story that we have heard of and read before.  It is a good read for young adults and mid to late teens.  It was absorbing enough to keep me reading and not boring.  I also appreciate that.  It is written for the Young Adult reader and for that group, I give it five stars.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the the publisher, Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.  These words are my opinion.
See more about this author and her novels at Dina Sleiman.

Stay tuned, I have some neat reads coming up for review!  See you soon!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Forsaken Dreams

Yes, it's a romance.  But, the dreams that have to be forsaken are not romantic notions.  The central character in MaryLu Tyndall's novel is a young southern woman who is a war widow.  I mean, that is a dream forsaken in itself. Eliza Crawford met her husband during the Civil War; he was a general in the Northern army.  No chance to even get to know him beyond the first bloom of passion, let alone have a life with him and children.  How, you ask, did she become so enamored of a Yankee general, being a genteel southern girl?  You must read.
Of course, she is ostracized by family and friends because of her marriage to the enemy, even though he is now dead. I guess the indignation of it all did not die with him! She sets out on a ship full of southerners headed for Brazil to start a new life in a new country.  They aim to leave the horrors and ravages of the war behind.  She hopes to keep her marriage a secret but is certain that her fellow passengers know and will reject her presence on the ship.
The voyage is fraught with weather and attacks from enemy ships.  The passengers also have their share of secrets to keep and agendas to push forward.
There is a new romance that slowly takes shape for Eliza and a gentleman on the ship.  Colonel Blake Wallace is also a southerner whose family was murdered by the Northern army.  His desire to start new is the catalyst for the journey.  He organizes the passengers who share his desire to start a new life in Brazil.  Thus, the journey begins.
This is an easy read.  It is well written and flows smoothly from page to page.  It has enough depth and layers in the characters' personalities to keep me reading.  This is my first novel to read by MaryLu Tyndall and I enjoyed it.  It is Book I of her Escape to Paradise series.  I look forward to reading Book II of this series and then Book III which is a new release this month.  It is not a blockbuster but you know I have said that not every book needs to be one to be a good read.  Good writing by a talented author goes a long way.  I am not overly fond of romance novels but when the romance is complicated and the story has multiple characters that play into the central theme, I am good with that.  I especially appreciated her inclusion of the characters' faith and the evidence of God at work in the lives of these shipmates.
I give Forsaken Dreams four stars and recommend you give it a read!

Stay tuned.  Up next, Dauntless, a new release by Dina Sleiman.
See you soon!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Interlude ~~

Hellooo, I am still here.  I have had some problems getting books delivered  (new releases) to read and review.  Since my blog is strictly a book review blog, I have not been posting while I was waiting for these issues to be resolved.  I have had some resolution and am looking forward to reviewing for you soon.  One of my publishers has had a book in "being shipped" status on my account since Christmas!  I have sent an inquiry on that one twice.  The second time I asked for status on this, I did not  receive a reply (still haven't) and still don't have the book.  I moved on from that.  Another publishing house that I review for had email server issues and not all reviewers received the email to choose a book for February.  I waited for ten days after the normal arrival time for that email.  I was afraid I had been removed from the list and I did not want to know if I had!!  I mustered up my courage a week or so ago and emailed an inquiry to which I received a prompt reply describing the issue.  Whew!  I am still a reviewer in good standing with that house! The list of books to choose from was emailed to me then and I chose a book which I received a few days ago and will be reviewing soon for you.
In the interim, I have exhausted my personal stock of books that I have read over the years.  The last two books I reviewed for you were from my personal bookshelf so you can see I have been dealing with this for a few weeks.    I did not want to check a book out of the library to review.  I thought the long awaited "being shipped" tome may arrive in the mail and I would not be able to read and review it in a timely manner if I was involved in another story.  Alas!! Out of desperation I did visit the library and checked out a book by an author whose work I have not read before.  I came across the name in an email newsletter describing new releases for March.  MaryLu Tyndall is the author and she is releasing the third book in her Escape to Paradise series.  So, I checked out Book 1 of this series, thinking it would be something to read and review.  No spoilers here;  you must return and read the review, which will be forthcoming by the weekend!
I also look forward to reading a new release from Bethany House entitled "Dauntless" by Dina Sleiman.  It looks promising and is a new subject matter for me.  I have included here an image of both books for your viewing.  My apologies if you are a regular reader of this blog and you have checked in and found nothing here.  I look forward to giving my opinions and recommendations again soon!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Honeymoon by James Patterson & Howard Roughan

Wow!!  Nora Sinclair is a mean lady!  That is the name of the central character in this murder mystery.  Written from the viewpoint of the FBI agent investigating her, this story takes off on the first page and doesn't stop until it's over.  You know from the start that she is the murderer;  what remains a puzzle and forms the meat of the book, is how she gets away with it and continues on from man to man.  She is beautiful and sophisticated.  She designs home interiors.  That is where she gets her victims.  Life with her is no honeymoon in the end.  She is a black widow serial killer.  The storyline takes us all over the east coast, up and down and to the Caribbean as well.  For me, this is a well told story because it kept me turning the pages and kept me in suspense.  The kicker is that she almost gets to murder John O'Hara, the agent watching her.  He watches a little too close and gets pulled into her web, adding a layer to the plot and adding to the suspense.  I had to lay it down now and then just to take a breath!  And, how refreshing to read a book that has been edited well enough to have good sentence structure, grammar and spelling.  This was published by Warner Books in 2005.  A friend loaned me this copy and I am on the hunt for more of this author's books.  Good read!



Friday, January 30, 2015

Frozen Heat

Follow up to NY Times bestseller "Heat Rises," this book does not disappoint.  "Frozen Heat" continues on the trail of Nikki Heat to solve her mother's murder, now a frozen case, ten years old.  Hence, the title. A new murder has clues which seem to connect it to her mother's case.  I cannot give you a synopsis on this because that would really ruin a good story for you.  Suffice it to say, Nikki is still chasing leads that seem to lead to good places, but turn up empty, or mostly leading to another possible clue which has to be deciphered before she can follow that lead.  She is again teaming up with Jameson Rook to investigate said leads.  Enough of leading--this is well written, which to me means that it flows so smoothly that you forget you are reading, so caught up you are.  Another great characteristic is not being able to figure out "who dun it" a few chapters in.  Frozen Heat kept me guessing until almost the end and then surprised me with who actually had done it.  However, the satisfaction of finding the murderer still leaves plenty of room for other discoveries in future novels. I am a fan of the TV show "Castle" which is the embodiment of these novels, or vice versa; not sure which, there.  If you have any viewing/reading history on this author, then you will know that Richard Castle is really Nathan Fillion, Beckett's (Nikki Heat) sidekick in the TV series.  Confusing, I know.  The big question has been for some time, who really writes these books?   My money is on the screenwriter for the show.  In the end, I really don't care. I am (generally) not one to make a personal connection to my favorite authors.  I pick my reads first by the flyleaf, or word of mouth from friends/relatives, then go back for more if I like what I read.  I mean, the book was good and I enjoyed it.  For me, a good book is a great escape.  It is that simple.  This is my first Castle novel.  I picked this up at a bookstore, and I will be going back for more.  Five stars, in my opinion.  I highly recommend it.
Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Mark's Story - The Gospel According to Peter

This is written as a novel but is still the narrative from the Gospel of Mark.  Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins wrote this as it would have been Mark telling the reader the events in his life that brought him to his belief in Christ and his subsequent missionary journeys.  It is an easy read and flows well from page to page.  It begins with Mark as a young teen, about 14 I think, when the Apostles and Christ met in the Upper Room.  It has been set as a room on the second story, or roof, of Mark's mother's home.  It reads as if Mark is giving you his first-hand account of what took place.  It gives us a view of his listening to the beloved Teacher as He brought the Word to the Apostles and his wonder and sometimes confusion at the deep spiritual truths that are laid out in those gatherings. The book ends with Peter's death in which he was hung upside down on a cross-not feeling himself worthy to be hung in the same manner as Christ.   The Epilogue tells of Mark's death in Alexandria.  It describes his being drug through the streets of that city with a rope around his neck, choking to death.  This is a book that a friend loaned me.  It was written in 2007 as Book Two in the Jesus Chronicles.  The first in this series is John's Story: The Last Eyewitness.  I like that the book includes the Book of Mark in the back, NKJV version.  It makes it nice to turn to the Scripture and find some of the incidents and story that are in the novel.
I would recommend this as a good read of the book of Mark explained as it happened for those present.  It was published in 2007 so you may find it in your local library.  It was a best seller when it came out.  Or, you can probably purchase it at the Christian bookstore or online.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Beyond All Dreams

Simply put, Ms. Camden has done it again!  I know it is cliche' for me to say that, but if the shoe fits...  

Elizabeth Camden has written another story that grabs the reader's attention and also her heart!  Not a bad thing when you add in an expert effort at plot twists and depth of personality in the characters she writes to populate her novel.  Anna O'Brien is shy, quiet, intelligent and passionate for her beliefs. She works for the Library of  Congress as a map librarian.  When she finds an error that is too "off the map" to be innocent, she begins to investigate. The error is personal to her, involving her dead father and a mapping mission he was on to map the bottom of the ocean.   Senator Luke Callahan is stricken with love for her at first site.  He has his own demons to slay that go all the way back to his birth.  With no complications, their liaison would be tempestuous; but with each having their own history to battle, it may be impossible.  The author takes us on a journey that is at once intriguing and exhausting.
I appreciate Ms. Camden's grasp of history. Being a research librarian, she is a stickler for detail and she gets that right, which adds to the depth and meat of this book.  Indeed-all of her books!  This novel is well written in that hard-to-define manner that keeps me turning pages to see what will happen next.  She has a firm grasp on grammar and sentence structure which adds ease to the reading.  This is my second Elizabeth Camden novel and I am becoming a fan.  It's just good and you need to read it.  Period.  It also includes a discussion section that works well for a book club.  This would be an excellent choice for that.

 I give Beyond All Dreams five stars.  Read more about Elizabeth Camden at Elizabeth Camden
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, Bethany House, in exchange for my honest review.  These words are my opinion.