Sunday, December 4, 2022

The Ghost in Your Christmas Present by L G Nixon Book Review

About the Book

There are perils in your Christmas carols; when you’re a Hornberger . . .

Lucy Hornberger’s Christmas is about to come unwrapped. Two ghosts are threatening her holiday joy. One ghost, with a brutal temper and unbelievable strength, is creating bedlam everywhere. The other ghost seems benign, but her methods leave Lucy’s mom empty, scared, and lonely. Lucy will do whatever it takes to defeat the forces menacing her loved ones and bring joy back to Christmas.

And you thought Santa was a jolly ol’ soul.


You can watch the book trailer here.


My Review


Nixon has given young readers another exciting adventure into the spirit realm. This is a story taking place near Christmas and is a novella so is good for readers who aren't quite ready for a full length novel.

Nixon's setting is one combining fantasy and Christian truth. Lucy uses magic stones, for example, but the stones are actually Bible promises. There are ghosts but they are actually beings from the spirit realm, angels and demons. The battles waged are very representative of the spiritual warfare Paul describes in the New Testament.

This novella highlights the battle waged in the spirit realm to see a person become a child of God. Lucy's mother finds freedom from her past in an exciting battle for her very soul. There are lessons learned too as Lucy comes to understand the difference between relying on her own strength and the strength and power of the High King.

Forces for good and evil exist in the spirit realm and this novella really brings out that reality. Nixon adds a note identifying the spiritual lesson to learn and the many Bible verses referenced in the novella. These are a great help to parents as they explain the truth behind the exciting adventure.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

You can read my reviews of the earlier books in the series: The Ghost of Darwin Stewart and The Ghost Writer


You can get an idea of Nixon's writing style and the Christian basis for her books by reading the Ascalon Chronicles.

About the Author

L. G. Nixon grew up hoping to be a writer. After a long career in office management, she began writing. Growing up in a creaky old house where relatives told ghost stories, she now shares stories God lays on her heart. She lives in Michigan with her husband and enjoys outdoor activities. You can find out more at www.lgnixon.com.


Fitting Words, 128 pages.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from the author. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Christmas Crime Cover-Up by Dana Mentink Book Review

About the Book

Book: Christmas Crime Cover-Up

Author: Dana Mentink

Genre:Inspy Suspense

Release date: November 29, 2022

From USA TODAY bestselling author Dana Mentink…

A violent attack

Isn’t the homecoming she expected.

When an ATV tries to run her down in Death Valley, animal rescuer Nora Duke knows it’s a sign she never should have returned. Now she’s stuck on Seth Castillo’s ranch until Christmas with a pregnant donkey—and a criminal desperate to silence her. Facing her past is as terrifying as uncovering a killer’s twisted plan. But can Seth convince her to stay…if they live through the holidays?

From Love Inspired Suspense: Courage. Danger. Faith.

Desert Justice

Book 1: Framed in Death Valley
Book 2: Missing in the Desert
Book 3: Death Valley Double Cross
Book 4: Death Valley Hideout
Book 5: Christmas Crime Cover-Up
Book 6: Targeted in the Desert

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

While this is part of a series and characters in this novel have appeared in previous ones, it reads well on its own. The plot provides a good deal of suspense as someone is out to kill Nora. There is a good deal of relationship tension as Nora returns to the area of her family from whom she has been alienated for years. It is good to see forgiveness and relationship restoration as part of the plot. There is also the possibility of romance with suitable tension and obstacles along the way. I did think the romance, in the end, went way too fast.

The setting continues to be the desert of Death Valley. I liked the idea of capturing wild burros and placing them in a rescue location. That was an interesting side to the main plot.

The characters are done well. The identity of the villain was not a surprise as we are set up for it. There is a twist at the end we were also set up for but it just did not seen reasonable to me.

This is a readable and entertaining mystery with some elements of faith and a quick romance.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

You can read my reviews of the earlier books in the series: Framed in Death Valley, Missing in the Desert, Death Valley Double Cross, and Death Valley Hideout.

About the Author

Dana Mentink is a USA Today and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author as well as a two-time American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award winner, and the recipient of a Holt Medallion. She’s written over fifty titles in the suspense, lighthearted romance and mystery genres. She is pleased to write for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense, Harlequin Heartwarming and Poisoned Pen Press. You can connect with Dana via her website at danamentink.com, on Facebook, YouTube (Author Dana Mentink) and Instagram (dana_mentink.) Her monthly newsletter features plenty of goodies, gab and giveaways. https://www.subscribepage.com/b8q0y5

More from Dana

Well here we go! Book five in the Desert Justice series features Nora (Chief Jude’s estranged sister), a wild donkey who needs rescuing, and a crime from the past that intrudes into the present. Twisty, right? I was inspired to write this story after visiting Death Valley and learning about the feral donkeys which inhabit the region. They’re cute, visitors love them, but the burros can encounter health problems and cause environmental damage if they aren’t settled into a safe area. It’s amazing to me that wild donkeys are adept at detecting underground water sources. They dig “wells” which can benefit many thirsty animals. Fascinating, right? Hope you’ll enjoy meeting Bubbles the donkey and the helpful humans who rescue her in this novel. God bless and thanks for reading!

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, December 3

deb’s Book Review, December 3

Through the Fire Blogs, December 3

Texas Book-aholic, December 4

Paula’s Pad of Inspiration, December 4

Betti Mace, December 5

Genesis 5020, December 5

Bizwings Blog, December 6

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 6

Bigreadersite, December 7

Inklings and notions, December 7

Daysong Reflections, December 8

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 8

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 9

Empowermoms, December 9

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, December 10

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, December 10

Pause for Tales, December 10

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, December 11

For Him and My Family, December 11

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, December 12

Holly’s Book Corner, December 12

Blogging With Carol, December 13

Vicky Sluiter, December 13

For the Love of Literature, December 14

Lily’s Book Reviews, December 14

Cover Lover Book Review, December 15

Simple Harvest Reads, December 15 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Blossoms and Blessings, December 16

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, December 16

Labor Not in Vain, December 16

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Dana is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

(If the winner is outside the U.S., then he or she will receive an eBook.)

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/22ec8/christmas-crime-cover-up-celebration-tour-giveaway

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Celebrate Lit.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Friday, December 2, 2022

Crime for the Books by Kate Young

About the Book:


Lyla Moody and her book club, the Jane Does, are hosting a Halloween party at Magnolia Manor, tailored after Agatha Christie’s 
A Murder is Announced, but when the lights come on after the staged murder, a real victim lies dead with a gunshot wound in her chest. The victim was an estranged relative of Elaine Morgan, operator of the B&B, who’d earlier been seen arguing with her about the fate of the property. Suspicion immediately falls on Elaine, and she’s arrested.

The Jane Does believe Elaine is innocent, and when they get the chance to team up with police officer Rosa Landry—a member of the club—they jump on it. But then, the club discovers that two more murders have been brazenly predicted online and in the Sweet Mountain Gazette—and that one of the intended victims is Rosa.

Lyla thinks she knows who the killer is, but the only way to find out is by laying a trap using Rosa as bait. But, like an Agatha Christie mystery, the truth is never what it seems. Lyla and her trusty book club will have to sleuth out the killer before Rosa meets her final chapter.

My Review:

I read lots of cozy mysteries and Young's Jane Doe Book Club Mystery series is a good one. Lyla is a capable sleuth. She's part of her uncle's private investigation business so she has the training and resources to get information the police may lack. She also has good support personnel in her friend Mel and the book club. I do like that they were brought into service in this novel.

Young gives readers a good balance of relationship issues and investigative action. Lyla seems to be growing into her investigative work. She seems a bit more self assured too, especially in her relationship with her boyfriend, resulting in some relationship drama. Rosa was a bit of an enigma in this novel. I am not sure we ultimately understand all of her behavior. Her character did not seem to ring true to me considering her actions in previous novels.

The plot might be a bit predicable as a murder occurs when the book club hosts a murder party. The villain was perhaps overly characterized. There is a little bit of suspense at the end but mostly just a very readable cozy mystery.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


This is the third novel in this series and you can read my review of the earlier ones: On Borrowed Crime and Reading Between the Crimes.

About the Author:


Kate Young
 writes cozy and Southern mystery novels. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and the Guppy Chapter. She lives in a small town in Georgia with her husband and their three kids. You can find out more at www.kateyoungbooks.com.

Crooked Lane Books, 336 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Laughter and Lament by Steve Brown Book Review

About the Book:

What do we do with the sadness and the joy that living in a broken world brings to our lives? Most try to avoid the tears and focus on finding happiness, but does that really work? Denial might help to alleviate pain for the short run, but eventually lament must be faced and expressed. In
 Laughter and Lament: The Radical Freedom of Joy and Sorrow (New Growth Press/October 24, 2022), Steve Brown shows how learning to lament honestly to God is the surprising path to learning about real joy.

When we experience or see tragedy, we expect tears, fear, and sometimes anger, and when we experience the good and pleasant, we expect joy and maybe even laughter. However, laughter and lament are often found together in unexpected places. How can we explain the opposite effect—laughter in the pain and tears in the joy?

We are created in the image of God. There is a surprising biblical reason why we laugh and lament. It’s because God is sorrowful and glad,” Brown explains. “With all due respect to the opposing views in theological circles about the emotions of God, the Bible portrays a God who feels deeply and acts passionately. His humor is everywhere and his tears, as it were, fall from the pages of the Bible.”

Brown shares that speaking honestly about the ways we have been hurt and the ways we have hurt others opens the door to the joy of God’s presence even as we grieve. Instead of pretending that everything is fine, going to God with all of our laments fills us with the freedom and joy of knowing his love and forgiveness. This is the surprising message of freedom that Christians have to share with a world where pain is almost always cursed and laughter is almost always cynical.

A good deal of depression and other emotional maladies we experience are simply because we have no place to take our honest feelings. I’m a man of prayer, not because I’m so spiritual, but because, frankly, I don’t have any other place to go with those feelings except God.” Brown writes. “I pray because it’s the only place where I don’t have to defend myself, pretend that I’m better than I am, or be religious. It’s a place of freedom.”

Of Laughter and Lament, pastor and author Dane Ortlund shares, “Vintage Steve Brown—earthy, honest, refreshingly self-deprecating, and relentlessly zeroed in on the good news of unearned divine favor. This book will fend off cynicism and foster joy as Steve coaches us all into a life of Christian realism—both happiness and anguish, both uproarious laughter and bristling anger. Healthy Christians experience both and knowing this fortifies us to live life well.”

 

My Review:

We are going to have tribulation in this world, Brown reminds us. John 16:33 promises it. But we will also have laughter because John 16:33 also promises Jesus has overcome the world. So how does a Christian live in both of these realms?

Brown is old enough and been a faithful believer long enough that he has no desire to impress anybody. He is just real. In fact, he writes, “God's gift to his people is the freedom to be real...” (239/2151) That means we don't put on a religious face. We have permission to be authentic and express our feelings, our frustrations, our anger. “Jesus didn't die to make us nice,” he writes. (625/2151) We miss out on deep intimacy with God when we fail to share with him the depths of our pain and our joy.

Brown says he is not interested in being particularly spiritual. He's been there, done that. He cusses. In fact, he teaches readers how to cuss in Latin. That way people will think you are terribly smart and not know at all you are cussing.

Some may think Brown irreverent but I see a man old enough to quit at playing the act religious game. He's real with God and he is real with us. Reading this book will give you the freedom to be real with God. It will give you the freedom to express pain and genuine lament, real repentance and the freedom of laughter. But be ready to be honest and real. No phony people will appreciate Brown's book.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

 

About the Author:

Steve Brown is the Founder of Key Life Network, Inc., the Bible teacher on the radio program Key Life and host of the talk show Steve Brown, Etc. A former pastor, he is also a frequent in-demand speaker and visiting seminary lecturer.

He has authored numerous books, including How to Talk So People Will ListenThree Free SinsHidden Agendas, Talk the Walk, and his latest release, Laughter and Lament. Brown has also written for publications such as LeadershipDecisionPlain Truth, and Today’s Christian Woman. He previously served as a member of the Board of Directors of Christianity Today and Harvest USA.

Brown and his wife, Anna, have been married for more than sixty years. They have two married daughters and three granddaughters. They make their home in Orlando, FL.

Learn more at www.keylife.org and follow him on Facebook (@Dr.SteveBrown) and Twitter (@DrSteveWBrown).

New Growth Press, 176 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Heaven Sent Miracles and Rescues by Andrea Jo Rodgers Book Review


About the Book

Book: Heaven-Sent Miracle & Rescues

Author: Andrea Jo Rodgers

Genre: Christian Inspirational

Release date: November 1, 2022

Do You Believe in Miracles?

For more than three decades, Andrea Jo Rodgers has served her small-town community as a volunteer EMT. Over the years, the incredible events she’s witnessed have taught her that behind the scenes of every dark and dire situation waits a God capable of doing the impossible to help, protect, and save those He loves.

In Heaven-Sent Miracles and Rescues, Andrea shares tales of amazing and supernatural occurrences she’s seen from the frontline. From breathtaking water recoveries, to heroic battles against housefires, to astonishing interventions against medical crises, Andrea’s accounts of emergency rescues will have you reading at the edge of your seat while reassuring you of God’s awe-inspiring power over every circumstance.

Whether you’re searching for affirmation that miracles still happen, or you simply love reading exciting and inspiring true stories, Heaven-Sent Miracles and Rescues will leave you uplifted, encouraged, and on the lookout for God’s divine handiwork in your own day-to-day life.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

If you have ever wondered what the life of a volunteer emergency response person was like, Rodgers gives a clear picture. She relates a number of accounts of the calls she has been on, the condition of the patients, the treatment and results. I like that she frequently follows up and tells us what happened weeks or months following. Rodgers lives in a small town so she knows the people.

These are realistic accounts, some of them end with the person going to eternity. But most of them are wonderful stories of helping people in their greatest need and seeing a positive result. Reading her stories has given me a new respect for people involved in emergency response.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

 

About the Author

Andrea Jo Rodgers holds a clinical doctorate in physical therapy and has worked as a physical therapist for over 25 years. She has served as a volunteer emergency medical technician on her town’s rescue squad for 35 years and has responded to more than 9,000 first aid and fire calls. She lives on the east coast with her husband, two children, and two fur babies. At Heaven’s Edge, On Heaven’s Doorstep, Help from Heaven, and Heaven-Sent Miracles and Rescues include true inspirational stories based on her experiences as a volunteer EMT.  Her middle grade adventure novels, Saving Mount Rushmore and Saving the Statue of Liberty are fun yet educational books that teach faith, courage, patriotism, and friendship.

More from Andrea Jo

Coincidence or the Hand of God?

Have you ever wondered if someone is saved by pure chance? Is it just his or her lucky day? Or is more at play? I believe that people aren’t assisted by mere coincidence. I think the hand of God is at play, putting the pieces in motion to orchestrate miracles.

During my 35 years as a volunteer emergency medical technician with my local first aid and rescue squad, I’ve often witnessed the power of prayer and how God works to put the right people in the right place at the right time. For example, in my latest book Heaven-Sent Miracles and Rescues, I convey how a young woman who gets out of work later than usual sets in motion a dramatic rescue. In another case, a young man stops at a friend’s apartment just in time to alert 911 that she is unconscious and barely breathing due to a heroin overdose. At times, our patients overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to survive.

God’s loving hand doesn’t have to take the form of sensational rescues. It can be more subtle, such as having our squad volunteers be present to pour love on a dying hospice patient during his last hour on earth, or in another instance being available to tuck in a lonely woman grieving the loss of her mother. As a resident of a small town, I’ve been privileged to form strong bonds with some of my patients, and my life is immeasurably richer for it.

The next time you brush something off as just a coincidence, take a few minutes to consider the alternative. Perhaps you are witnessing the loving hand of our Lord at work.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, December 1

Texas Book-aholic, December 2

Mary Hake, December 2

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 3

Inklings and notions, December 4

Cover Lover Book Review, December 5

deb’s Book Review, December 5

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 6

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, December 7

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, December 8

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, December 9

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 10

Rebecca Tews, December 11

Just Your Average reviews, December 12

For Him and My Family, December 12

Spoken from the Heart, December 13

Cats in the Cradle Blog, December 14

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Andrea Jo is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon Gift card and a signed copy of Heaven-Sent Miracles and Rescues!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

 https://promosimple.com/ps/22ec6/heaven-sent-miracles-rescues-celebration-tour-giveaway

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Celebrate Lit.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Aberration by Cathy McCrumb Book Review


About the Book

Book: Aberration

Author: Cathy McCrumb

Genre: Science Fiction

Release date: November 15, 2022

Freedom Awaits, but the Consortium is Watching

When rogue drones threaten citizens and the ship’s crew falls ill, the Recorder answers their call for help, once again drawing scrutiny from the Consortium.

With no other option and under an Elder’s overbearing watch, she returns to Pallas Station where she nearly lost her life in the hope of finding something—anything—to save her friends and countless others. Her friends are determined to keep her safe, but for the Recorder, saving others comes first, no matter the cost.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

This novel is a sequel to Recorder and does not read well on its own. There is no synopsis of the first book nor enough back story early on to preclude the necessity of reading Recorder to fully enjoy this one. There are many references to people and events from the first book unexplained as they are mentioned in this one. Even I was a bit confused at the beginning with what was going on as it had been a year since reading the first book.

The focus of this novel seems to be one of character building. We see Recorder develop more and we gather insights into other characters and one of the Elders. We meet more recorders and finally have a confrontation with the villain. There are spurts of action in the novel and just a hint of possible romance.

While much of the action is based on morality, there is not a strong faith message appearing yet, although one character did wear a cross necklace. I loved the reference to Julian of Norwhich when Recorder says, “It will be well. All manner of things will be well.”

This novel is for science fiction readers who like an exploration of characters with the action settled in one location. We are left wondering what the future might have in store so I will be looking for the next in the series.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

You can read my review of the first book in the series, Recorder, here.

About the Author

Cathy McCrumb graduated from Biola University with a degree in English Literature and a love for stories. She and her husband, whom she met while writing letters to soldiers, have five children and currently live within the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. While writing is one of her favorite things to do, she also enjoys reading, long hikes and long naps, gluten-free brownies and raspberries, and crocheting while watching science fiction movies with friends and family.

More from Cathy

After I finished writing Recorder, my main character was stuck.

Or, more precisely, I was.

Don’t get me wrong, I knew where she was, roughly what was going to happen, and what was going on elsewhere. But after the rush of finishing the first book and even having a great opening line for the second, I was at a standstill. Starting there didn’t make sense, didn’t set the scene. I tried again. And again.

It bothered me for months.

Then, on my way into work, a phrase popped into my head. Eyes on the stoplight, I fumbled in my bag, grabbed the first pen I could find, and scrawled the words on my left forearm in large block letters: NEED HELP WITH THE BODIES.

And like that, I knew where to begin.

(Fortunately, my coworkers were more amused than not, though I did wear long sleeves to church the next day, since I figured no one would find my Sharpie-scrawl comforting.)

While some of the story fell into place as I had expected, it turns out anticipation of a few scenes didn’t dull the edge, and I cried for those. My characters didn’t always comply, and aside from the black block letters on my arm, Aberration had other surprises that made me laugh or cringe. Two of those twists shifted the book’s trajectory, and the Recorder still must deal with the repercussions.

Life is like that. Some things trundle along like they should, but when change rears its head, everything can go sideways. A move, a sickness, a loss, a gain, a promotion… The good things—smiles, laughter, friends, song, color—don’t negate the uncomfortable things—failure, disappointment, isolation. But for those who believe in Christ, sorrow doesn’t have the final word. There is a sudden turn of joy, a grace in an unexpected twist that reminds us that there is no universal defeat awaiting us, even when it feels like all hope is lost.

Writing frequently reminds me of a difficult child who doesn’t want to cooperate. Characters show up uninvited to reshape scenes, or the plot goes exactly as I expect, but carries a completely different meaning. Sometimes I have to pause and let the story wash over me.

A lot like life.

The reversal of sorrow to joy, of catastrophe to eucatastrophe, shows us a glimpse of the home that awaits. Light pierces the shadows of story and heart, illuminating the core of who we are as we journey further up and farther in.

When you continue with the Recorder on her search for a name, for meaning, for hope, I hope that in those sudden surprise turns, you, too, hear the silver trumpets calling you home, no matter where or when you might be stuck.

Because, really, you aren’t.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, November 30

Story Craft, November 30

Texas Book-aholic, December 1

Stories By Gina, December 2 (Author Interview)

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 2

Inklings and notions, December 3

deb’s Book Review, December 4

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 5

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, December 6

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, December 7

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, December 8

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 9

Lily’s Book Reviews, December 10

Blogging With Carol, December 11

For Him and My Family, December 12

Through the Fire blogs, December 13

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Cathy is giving away the grand prize of a signed hardback copies of Recorder and Aberration!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/22ec5/aberration-celebration-tour-giveaway

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Celebrate Lit.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)