Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Cross Shadow by Andrew Huff Blog Tour and Giveaway


About the Book:

All journalist Christine Lewis wants is the truth. All pastor John Cross wants is to avoid it.

Former CIA agent turned evangelical pastor John Cross is busy caring for the small community of believers he ministers to in Virginia. Journalist Christine Lewis is busy with the demand for her talents from top news agencies in New York City. Neither has any time left for their relationship, which began eight months before when they paired up to prevent the detonation of a chemical bomb in the nation's capital.

But when Christine hears that her stepbrother has been arrested for murder in Texas, they team up again to discover the truth about the crime. Untangling a web of conspiracy, the couple finds themselves in the center of another dangerous situation-and in trouble far deeper than they expected.

With an assassin on the loose, a trusted colleague acting as a double agent, and unreliable artificial intelligence connected to mercenaries who have Cross on their hit list, these two may not get out of the Lone Star State alive.

You can watch the book trailer here.

My Review:

I liked this suspense filled second book in the John Cross series. This one involved some high tech deception as two plot lines are intertwined. The initial plot involves Christine helping her stepbrother accused of murder. He supposedly killed a fellow worker, both employed by a high tech company. That introduces the second plot line. Something is very off at that company. John and Christine team up to deal with both concerns.

I like how Huff blends the potentially budding relationship between John and Christine with lots of action. The high tech company has won a lucrative contract from the government to build a robotic warrior, a scary possibility I've seen in other novels of suspense and international intrigue. When John gets an idea of the company's deception, his life is in danger and soon so is Christine's. The suspense is over the top. Huff knows how to write a chase scene and there is another great one in this novel.

This is a good novel for readers who like lots of suspense and action. The action is well paced and the body count is high. John usually gets through the deadly suspenseful scene but is sometimes too conveniently rescued by old CIA friends. I definitely like the Christian message that comes through John. And I like that we are left with a hint of John's next suspenseful adventure.

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

My rating: 4/5 stars.


About the Author:

Huff spent ten years in local church ministry as a youth pastor and creative arts pastor before pursuing God’s calling into creative storytelling and media production as the product director at Igniter Media, a church media company (ignitermedia.com).

He is a two-time finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Genesis Contest for unpublished authors (2014, 2017) and also won the best screenplay award at the 2015 48 Hour Film Festival in Richmond, VA. A Cross to Kill and Cross Shadow in the Shepherd Suspense series are his first releases.

Huff holds a bachelor of science in religion degree from Liberty University and a master of arts in Christian education from Dallas Theological Seminary. He resides in Plano, TX, with his beautiful wife, Jae, and their two boys.


Learn more Andrew Huff and the Shepherd Suspense novels at www.andrewhuffbooks.com. He can also be found on Facebook (@huffwrites), Twitter (@andrewjohnhuff) and Instagram (@andyhuff).


Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway


I received a complimentary copy of this book through Read With Audra. 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.)

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Stories That Bind Us by Susie Finkbeiner

Finkbeiner knows how to write a touching story. This one includes losing a spouse, family relationships, local and national racial issues, a small business surviving a chain store moving in, mental illness, and more. For a senior reader like me, it was a journey down memory lane, remembering the music, fashions, and headlines of the early 1960s. The characters are engaging, regular people living life as they face great challenges in life. My favorite was little Hugo. He was a darling.

Perhaps a warning to potential readers is in order. Betty, the main character, loses her husband when she is just forty years old. Potential readers who have recently lost a spouse may find this book painfully emotional. The same goes for readers who struggle with depression or have helped a family member struggling with depression and suicidal desires. Finkbeiner does a good job covering both of these situations but for some, it may be too hard to remain unaffected by the deeply emotional story.

I enjoyed this novel. It took me a while to get the historical setting as a date was not given at the beginning. And the ending, while touching, I felt was unreasonable. Everything just doesn't turn out so well so fast in real life.

You can read an excerpt here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Susie Finkbeiner is a CBA bestselling author, serves as the Fiction Readers Summit planning committees, volunteers at Ada Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and speaks at retreats and women's events across the country. She and her husband have three children and live in Western Michigan. Photo Credit: Bree Rose Photos

Revell, 384 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.)

Monday, June 1, 2020

Danger in Plain Sight by Burt Weissbourd Blog Tour

Danger in Plain Sight

by Burt Weissbourd

on Tour June 1-30, 2020

Synopsis:


It took fourteen years to construct a safe world for her and her son--and only one night for her ex to unravel it.

Celebrated Seattle restaurateur Callie James is more than a little thrown when her ex-husband, French investigative reporter Daniel Odile-Grand, shows up after fourteen years asking for her help. Even more disturbing: as she throws him out, Daniel is deliberately hit by a car, hurled through the front window of her restaurant--broken, bloody and unconscious. He flees from the hospital and breaks into Callie's apartment, where he passes out. Reluctantly, Callie hides him. When she gets back to her restaurant, two assassins walk in, insisting that she find Daniel for them by tonight or pay the consequences.

Overwhelmed and hopelessly out of her depth, Callie hires the only man she knows who can help her: Cash Logan, her former bartender, a man she had arrested for smuggling ivory through her restaurant two years earlier, and who still hasn't forgiven her.

The assassins blow up her restaurant. It's Callie's nightmare. And the worst is yet to come as she and her unlikely, incompatible ally discover that the most perilous dangers are far closer to home than they'd imagined.


My Review:


This novel got off to a slow start for me but I liked it in the end. It is a novel for readers who like suspenseful scenes interspersed with long passages of description, back story or character thoughts. As a new character arrives on the scene, there is up to a page and a half of back story, even when the last scene ended in dire circumstances. At one point a character was reminded of a long buried memory of when he was twelve. (153) I don't really like that writing style but there was enough action included to ultimately move the plot along at a steady pace.

Because of all the character back story and thought, the characters are well developed. The character transformation in Callie was well done. The plot is complex, involving high money stakes, international trade in armaments, and very powerful men who can have life threatening or life saving action instigated with a phone call. That latter aspect of the plot made the resolution of the suspense a bit more than believable.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Book Details:


Genre: Thriller
Published by: Blue City Press
Publication Date: May 5th 2020
Number of Pages: 224
ISBN: 1733438211 (ISBN13: 9781733438216)
Series: A Callie James Thriller, 1
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

It was 1:15 a.m. when Kelly and Gray returned. They must have been watching, because they came in as the last patron left. Will showed them to the bar, where Callie was waiting at her table. They sat facing her, different suits this time. Gray wore a thin gold square-link chain around his neck and a matching gold earring—stylish and expensive. Kelly wore a similar gold necklace with a floating diamond solitaire pendant. As Will was asking where their suits had been made, Callie interrupted. “A drink?”
“Another time,” Gray said, all business now. “Have you found Daniel Odile-Grand?”
“No, as I said before, I have no idea where he is.”
“That’s unacceptable,” he said matter-of-factly. He turned to his partner, who nodded, regretfully smiling her agreement.
Callie was prepared. Cash had told her to hit her “ice mode” button—a phrase he’d coined for her chilliness when irritated—at any sign of trouble. He’d recognize that and take it from there. “I beg your pardon?” she replied, classic subzero. She sipped her tepid San Pellegrino with lime.
“As I explained, urgent matters are at stake.” Gray waved his hand to include the dining room downstairs. “I’m told this fine restaurant is underinsured.”
“Yo, Callie.” Cash had materialized behind her, carrying chips and guacamole for the table. “I thought you said we were well insured.”
“We are, in fact, well insured,” she agreed.
Cash leaned in. His physical presence didn’t seem to faze these people. “So we don’t need insurance, then, we’re fine,” he pointed out.
Gray leaned in, too, measuring Cash, finding him wanting. “Listen carefully, cowboy, this is not your concern.” He said it slowly, advising a dim-witted child.
Kelly shook her head and spoke for the first time. “No, surely not.”
Cash’s eyes locked onto Gray’s. “Then this is your unlucky day, pardner. From now on, to get to the lady, you go through me.” He flashed a shit-eating grin. “Did you call me Cowboy?”
Gray grinned ever so slightly. Kelly smiled, picture perfect.
“Cowboy?” Cash repeated, frowning now as he emptied the bowl of guacamole on Gray’s cream-colored silk suit.
Gray was up, going for his gun. He fell to the floor, writhing, when Andre planted his metal prosthetic in the hit man’s groin. Cash already had Kelly’s arms pinned at her sides. Andre took her gun from its shoulder holster and trained it on Gray, who was on the floor, covered with guacamole.
“Let this go,” Cash told Gray. “You don’t want a war. Not with me.”
“Nice suit,” Andre added, and lifted Gray’s gold necklace with the black metal toe of his prosthetic leg. “Love the bling.”
More from Danger in Plain Sight
Cash closed his eyes. He had to do something to divert his mind from these horrific insects. He turned away, stretched his sore arms, flexed his tense back, focusing on Callie. Callie James . . . Okay, it was working. Picturing her face, the corners of his mouth turned up and his spirits soared.
Callie James . . . Why did he feel so wholly in love with her?
He stood, arms extended behind him, as he considered his on-again, off-again history with women.
Women found him attractive, and he’d been with many of them. His relationships, however, rarely lasted as long as he expected. There was some part of himself that he held back, and women sensed this and eventually moved on or asked for more of a commitment than he could make. Over time, he realized that it wasn’t a part — like a piece — but rather some portion of his unusual intensity. He understood that he was very accepting of other people and only offered as much as a woman looked for — some essential emotional minimum — to sustain the relationship. It wasn’t a conscious decision. It was a strong, keenly sensitive person’s way of protecting a partner from unwanted, possibly unsettling intensity. It’s who he was. Everything that he did, he did well but sparingly. So in some way he didn’t understand, he was choosing women who were less intense than he was.
Callie was the first woman he’d ever been with who demanded one hundred percent at all times. She was relentless, and even when she wasn’t aware of it, every bit as intense as he was. He didn’t hold anything back with her — yet she always wanted an explanation, an elaboration, an argument, or an answer to a difficult question. She’d never idealized him, that’s for sure. And he never pretended with her. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but the out-of-the-blue way this had happened between them, the strength of it, was something entirely new for him. Did he trust it? Yes, unequivocally. Did he know why? Yes, unequivocally again — it was because Callie James could never be untrue to herself.
Cash sat down, and turning back, he watched the horrible insects squirming in the jar.
No, he couldn’t lose her. Not now.
He opened the back door and then led Christy up the stairs to apartment 2D. Will opened the apartment door, held it for her. Christy came through the door into the living room. Will closed the door behind her.
“Christy,” Callie called from where she’d been standing behind the door.
When Christy turned, confused, Callie whispered, “You miserable bitch,” and she fired two barbed, dart-like electrodes from her Taser into Christy’s chest. The electrodes created a circuit in the body, essentially hijacking the central nervous system, causing neuromuscular incapacitation.
Christy fell to the floor, writhing in uncontrollable muscle spasms. When the writhing stopped and she’d curled into the fetal position, Callie and Will cuffed her hands behind her back.
When they were able to get her on her feet, Callie said, “We’re trading you for Cash Logan and Amjad Hasim.”
“What are you talking about?”
Callie slapped her, as hard as she was able. The blow tore Christy’s lower lip, drawing blood, and bruised her cheek. Callie hadn’t planned to do that—it was her second time, and she’d never hit anyone nearly so hard in her life—but red-hot rage was coursing through her veins. She was trembling, though her ever-present anxiety had receded, and she sure as hell didn’t feel helpless.
“Are you crazy?” Christy cried out.
“Don’t even try that. I know what you and Avi have done—to Daniel, to my restaurant, to my friend Doc. You almost killed us all on the boat. And now you have Cash, damn you!”
Christy’s face changed; she got it—Callie had somehow put it together. “You low-life skanky cunt, I’ll kill you myself.” Christy spit in Callie’s face.
Callie slapped her again, a fierce crack, astonished, yet again, by the rage she felt welling inside. And in that moment, she understood that her usual internal restraints—her rules and regulations—were no longer in place. It was as if an anvil had been cut loose from around her neck.
Blood dripped from Christy’s lip, her left eye was partially closed, and tears streamed down her face.
Callie stepped closer. “If anything happens to Cash, if you hurt him again, I’ll kill you, Christy Ben-Meyer. I swear that on my son’s life.”
Five minutes later Christy was standing on a stool in the center of the room. Her hands were cuffed behind her back. Her feet were bound. Her mouth was covered with duct tape. There was a noose around her neck that was tightly tied off to the pair of sturdy eyehooks that Will had screwed into the ceiling beam earlier. Christy’s head was tilted back and up; the rope was that tight. Another rope was tied to the leg of the stool. If the stool were pulled out from under Christy’s feet, she would hang.
Callie held a handgun to Christy’s kneecap.
Will was shooting a video with Callie’s iPhone.
Callie spoke to the camera. “Avi Ben-Meyer, I promise you that I will shoot out Christy’s left kneecap in fifteen minutes if you haven’t arranged the exchange with Itzac by then. In thirty minutes, I’ll shoot out her other kneecap and hang her. Believe me on this — if Cash Logan is hurt in any way, I’ll torture her without mercy before she dies.” Callie nodded, done. She walked to a corner of the room, fighting for breath. Dear God! What had she just said? Torture Christy? Damn it, if they hurt Cash . . . She gasped — she’d never even known that she could have feelings like that.
Will placed a calming hand on her back, and he gave her the phone. Callie noted the time, then sent the video to Itzac.
The martinis arrived, each one with an extra inch of refill in a glass tumbler. “The angel’s share,” Cash explained. He raised his drink, a toast. “To you, Callie, to what you could become.”
She clicked his glass with hers. “I’m not sure what you mean.”
“You have a shot at extraordinary.”
“You think so?”
“Possibly. But it’s an entirely different kind of extraordinary than turning-me-over-to-the-cops-for-smuggling-erotic-netsuke-into-your-restaurant extraordinary.”
“I deserve that. Jesus what an unforgiving, righteous gal I was.” She raised a palm. “Your words. And you were right. I’m sorry.” She touched his arm. “I was mean-spirited, foolish—just plain wrong — and I’ll always regret that.”
“Suppose we let that go.” Cash raised his glass again.
She touched her glass to his. “Thank you.”
“Speaking of regrets, honestly, I never anticipated that this past week would be so difficult—the anxiety, hiding Lew, the mace, the damage to your restaurant, the explosives on the boat . . . It was especially hard to lose Doc . . .” He let it drift.
She nodded, found his eyes. “I misjudged you early on . . . Conventional thinking sometimes blinds me—how you look, how you dress, what your job is. Long story short, you’re not at all what you seem. I listened carefully to you with Detective Samter today. You’re so smart, so able in the world. And in your way, though you’d never admit it, you try to get it right. Yes, you present whatever you’re proposing as practical, a calculated, opportunistic thing. What I’m learning, though, is that with you that’s also, as you see it—after carefully weighing pros and cons—the best for all involved. Or as I would say it, theright thing. How you get there is often confusing to me, but you do get there, way ahead of me, and, well, I admire you.”
“Thank you . . . That’s a two-way deal.” Cash watched her, surprised by her expressiveness. “Truthfully, this past week, I underestimated you. You’ve been right there, as hard as that must have been for you. You kept defying my expectations. Just when I was ready to give up on you, you did the smart thing, the hard thing, under protest, but you did it. And now, I’m watching you in the eye of a serious storm, just when I’d expect you to cave in, fall apart. But no, you manage. You even stand tall. Callie, you have a fine, strong heart.”
She smiled. “I’m a restaurateur. I never knew what to do outside my restaurant. I was always afraid.”
“I didn’t know that.”
“It took a lot of work and a huge amount of energy to accomplish that deception. I mean you can’t imagine what it was like for me to find you — ask for your help — at the Dragon. It was all I could do to look at you, to keep even a semblance of composure.”
“And that’s changing?”
“Yes, I think so. I hope so.”
“How did this happen?”
“It’s you, Terry.” She looked at him, eyes serious. “In your tenacious, patient way, you dragged me—kicking and screaming—out into the world, step by baby step, and though it’s every bit as frightening and even more unsettling than I imagined it, I’m okay with it. Yeah, I’m even getting my sea legs.”
“Bravo, then, Callie James. To both of us.”
She raised her glass. They toasted silently.
“Truthfully, Cash, at times I even like it out here.”
“Well, it suits you.” Cash watched her smile.
“I even like talking with you . . . And I was never a talker.”
“I’m guessing we have some great, contentious conversations ahead of us.”
“I like the idea of that.”
“Likewise.”
“Cash and Frosty, tête-à-tête.”
He took her small, delicate hands in his big, busted-up mitts.
Their kiss was tender, sweet, Cash thought. After, there were tears in Callie’s eyes.
***
Excerpt from Danger in Plain Sight by Burt Weissbourd. Copyright 2020 by Burt Weissbourd. Reproduced with permission from Burt Weissbourd. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:


Burt Weissbourd is a novelist and former screenwriter and producer of feature films. He was born in 1949 and graduated cum laude from Yale University, with honors in psychology. His book, Danger in Plain Sight, published on May 15th 2020, is the first book in his new Callie James thriller series. His earlier books include Inside Passage, Teaser, Minos, and In Velvet, all of which will be reissued in Fall 2020.

Catch Up With Burt Weissbourd On:
BurtWeissbourd.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook!


Tour Participants:


Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!
Click here to view the Danger In Plain Sight by Burt Weissbourd Participants

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours


I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Partner in Crime Virtual Book Tours.

(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.)

Sunday, May 31, 2020

The Green Dress by Liz Tolsma

This is another good novel in the True Colors series, novels based on actual criminal events from time past. It takes place in Boston in the 1880s. The heroine is Harriet who had been taken in by the Robinson family in 1882, when Harriet first arrived in Boston. Several members of the extended Robinson family have died from the same malady. As the novel opens, another Robinson is dying, Harriet's good friend, Lizzie. Harriet enlists the aid of a new doctor in town and the situation becomes quite dangerous for her.

Tolsma is an accomplished historical fiction author and she does a good job of taking us into the tragic situation. The Author Notes at the end of the book reveal that most of the aspects of the novel are based on recorded facts. Tolsma does a good job of fleshing out the story by crafting the characters and building a budding romance between Harriet and the young doctor.

This is a good novel for readers who enjoy historical fiction done well.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Liz Tolsma is a popular speaker and editor and the owner of the Write Direction Editing. She has written several WW II novels, several prairie romance novellas,and an Amish novel. She lives in Wisconsin with with her husband and their children, all adopted internationally.

Barbour Publishing, 256 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.)

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Before & After: a Christian Poetry Collection by Larissa Hinton

I rarely read poetry, thanks to a high school English teacher convincing me I couldn't understand it. I am so glad I read this collection of poems expressing the difference in life without Christ and with Him. They are overflowing with expression I easily embraced. Hinton uses words with stunning clarity, words that draw out emotion, words that elicit a response.

I love how her pairs of poems contrast life before and after Christ. Her two poems about waiting clearly show the frustration of waiting without Christ and the blissful, relationship building of waiting for God to act with Christ. Her contrasts of worldly love and divine love are breath taking.

Here is one of my favorite sections of the Divine Love poem:

Despite the flaws
Love still reaches out with a single touch
And heals the brokenhearted
Cradles the tender heart
Hears the wounds of years of darkness
And yet still pours into them anyway. (35)

Here's a section from her poem about Evil::

You can never buy
Swindle
Hoodwink
Your way out of darkness.

Only a sacrifice will do. (19)

I think you'll want to have a journal with you when you read these poems. Her poems about weight and eating and the experience of fasting could well be life changing for you. Her poems challenge. They encourage. They invite you to feel, to think, to react.

I highly recommend this collection of well crafted poems of life before and after Christ.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Larissa Hinton is a young adult fantasy and paranormal romance author. She lives in northern Virginia.

Amazon Services, 73 pp.

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.)

The Neglected C S Lewis by Mark Neal and Jerry Root

I thought I was familiar with the works of C. S. Lewis. I'd read all his fiction and a few of his popular nonfiction books, like Mere Christianity and The Problem of Pain. I now realize I was familiar with only a portion of Lewis's works. Lewis was a fellow at Oxford University and later Professor of Medieval and Renaissance English Literature at Cambridge University. He wrote a number of academic books, often bringing attention to neglected works of others he felt were of significance. He felt the knowledge gained from reading historical works was important and prevented what he called “chronological snobbery.”

Lewis's academic works are hard going and I wondered if they were worth pursuing. Neal and Root go through eight of the fifteen academic works Lewis wrote, highlighting major ideas. In An Experiment in Criticism, Lewis wrote about readers. He distinguished the few who totally immerse themselves in the literary experience. They need little detail because of a fertile imagination. On the other hand are the many. They require lots of action and are not changed by what they read. The concepts in the chapter on this book convinced me reading hard books is worthwhile.

Here are some highlights from the other Lewis books reviewed in this one. Lewis gave an example of an academic dialogue without rancor in The Personal Heresy. Another chapter includes Lewis's thoughts on poetry as well as interesting comments on Bible translations. Yet another includes Lewis on imagination and its use in comprehending reality. The chapter on The Allegory of Love, reveals the development of passionate love. Yet another chapter deals with how language changes over time.

Lewis drew the attention of his contemporaries to important works he felt were valuable but being neglected. Neal and Root have done the same for Lewis here. Whether one ultimately decides to read these obscure works of Lewis or not, reading this book will help gain insight into Lewis's ideas that formed the basis for much of his works with which we are familiar, such as his fiction.

I like how these authors glean lessons out of Lewis' more obscure books. They assure us that Lewis's writing, though academic, still holds readers' interest because of his writing style and humor. Reading the academic works of Lewis will give us windows onto a greater world, the authors say. Our perspective will be broadened.

I recommend reading this book to get a greater understanding of the writings of Lewis. It might be hard going for the general lay person but it is worth the effort to understand Lewis better and be introduced to concepts in his academic works.

You can read an excerpt here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Mark Neal has lectured, taught and published internationally on Lewis for the last ten years. He is the co-author of The Surprising Imagination of C. S. Lewis. He works as the VP of a Chicago-area marketing firm. He is married with two children.
Jerry Root is a Professor at Wheaton College and visiting Professor at Biola University. He has a MDiv from Talbot Graduate School of Theology and a PhD through the Open University at the Oxford Center for Mission Studies. He has been studying C S Lewis for 50 years and teaching about him for 40 years. He has lectured on Lewis in various universities world wide.

Paraclete Press, 196 pages. This book releases June 18.

I received a complimentary digital copy 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.)

Friday, May 29, 2020

Killer Chardonnay by Kate Lansing

I really liked this cozy mystery set in Colorado wine territory. I like Parker, who is desperate to make her new winery a successful enterprise. She turns into an amateur sleuth when a food critic is poisoned drinking her chardonnay on opening day. I have a bent toward amateur sleuths and liked the whole investigative process. The villain was no surprise to me as there were plenty of hints to this character along the way.

The strength of this cozy mystery is the information about wine. I had no idea, for example, that grapes take on the flavor of plants growing around them, such as peaches or apples. And I never understood the big deal of pairing food with wine. Lansing explained how the flavors compliment each other, bringing out the best but not overpowering the taste experience.

My favorite part of the book, however, was the life lesson it contained. It's the imperfections that give wine tannins, ultimately adding flavor and texture to the wine. Just like life, imperfections challenge us and make us better people.

I enjoyed this cozy mystery and Lansing's first full length novel. She's off to a good start on this series. I'll be watching for the next one. I liked the recipes included in the book too.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Kate Lansing is an award-winning short story author with her work appearing in anthologies. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. She and her husband live in Denver, Colorado, with their three year old daughter.

Berkeley, 304 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, May 28, 2020

Comparison Girl Blog Tour and Giveaway



About the Book:

Women compare constantly – on social media, in their neighborhood, at church, even in the school drop-off lane. They glance sideways and ask themselves, “How do I measure up?” All this assessment feels like a natural way of finding a place in the world. But it pulls them into feelings of inferiority or superiority, guiding them into a trap of antagonism by the enemy.

Satan would like women to strive to measure up, constantly adding to a tally sheet that can't ever be balanced. The way of Jesus is completely upside down from that philosophy. Instead, he says the last shall be first--and the greatest are those who empty themselves, lay down their lives, and serve each other.

Through conversations Jesus had and parables he shared, Shannon Popkin has created a seven-week Bible study to address this tendency to compare and judge ourselves and others. Each chapter is divided into lessons, allowing women on a time budget to read a Bible passage, engage in a complete train of thought related to the topic, and then make the content personal--all in one sitting. And the informal teaching tone will make women feel like they're meeting with a trusted friend.

Suited for both individual and group study, Comparison Girl will guide women to leave their measure-up ways behind, connect with those around them, and break free from the shackles of comparison!

You can read an excerpt here.

My Review:

I am impressed with this study. I found it well written and very challenging. I liked the format. There are six chapters but a total of 25 lessons. One could do a chapter a week for a six week study or do a lesson a week for a longer study. Each lesson contains a Bible reading, a story illustration, a teaching from Jesus, a meditation on lesson truths, and questions for application. I would suggest having a journal near by to write down thoughts and answers to the questions.

My favorite section was the lessons involving church. One explored the gifts we are given to use in ministry. Popkin reminds us that the gifts are differences meant to unify us. Another whole chapter was devoted to women's ministries. She uses the parable of the workers coming at different times yet all getting paid the same. She notes that equality is one of the wrong assumptions we have about the Kingdom. Wow. Those were hard hitting lessons.

This is a good study encouraging us to live by kingdom standards, not the measure of the world. Popkin encourages us to get the focus off ourselves and rather focus on helping others. This is a good study and I highly recommend it.

Food for thought: “Instead of measuring ourselves against each other, let's exalt God and serve one another.” (23)

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Author:

Shannon Popkin is a writer, speaker, and Bible teacher who loves pointing others to the truth of God’s Word. She combines her gifts for humor and storytelling with her passion for Jesus. She regularly speaks at Christian women’s events and retreats, encouraging women of all ages to put their hope in God.

Popkin is also a regular contributor for the Revive Our Hearts True Woman and Leader Connection blogsHer articles have been published by Family Fun, Focus on the Family Magazine, MOMsense and others. She is the author of several books, including Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control from Seven Women in the Bible, Influence: Building a Platform That Elevates Jesus (Not Me), and Comparison Girl: Lessons from Jesus on Me-Free Living in a Measure-Up World.

Popkin and her husband, Ken, have been married for more than twenty years and live in West Michigan. They have three children—one in high school and two in college.


Connect with Shannon Popkin by visiting www.shannonpopkin.com, following her on Facebook (shanpopkin), Instagram (shannonpopkin), or Twitter (@ShannonPopkin).

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

(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.)