Saturday, July 30, 2016

Blue Moon by Wendy Corsi Staub GIVEAWAY

Enter the GIVEAWAY at the end of this post.
This is the first book I've read by Staub and it won't be the last. Be prepared to give a few days for reading as the book is long but very engaging. It would make a good beach or vacation novel. Just don't read it right before you go to bed.

The plot is a little complex. There had been three murders one hundred years ago in Mundy's Landing. The victims had remained unidentified and the killer never captured. This novel centers around a couple buying one of the houses where one of the murdered young women was found. What they don't know is that someone is going to replicate the murders.

This novel is a good combination of character revelation and suspense. It is written from a number of viewpoints. Annabelle is the wife and mother who now lives with her family in the murder house. Their son, Oliver, suffers from an anxiety disorder. Even though he's twelve, he is terrified of many things. Holmes is the name the would be killer has given himself. We follow him too, obsessed with the murders of 1916. He's got three young women chained in an old ice house, just waiting for the exact day. Another character's viewpoint is that of the elderly woman who is caretaker of the museum containing the murder history. We also read entries from the original murderer's journal. Sully, from the first novel in this series, is vacationing in Mundy's Landing and we experience some from her viewpoint too.

Along with multiple viewpoints, the narrative frequently changes from current events to those of the past. That might sound a bit confusing but actually it came off quite well. The different viewpoints are clearly identified and are written in the present tense. The historical parts are written in past tense and were easy to identify.

I recommend this novel to those who enjoy getting caught up in a rather complex plot with lots of character development and a good amount of suspense. I really got caught up in Annabelle's life as she came to grips with living in a “murder house” with a very busy husband and a son demanding much emotional attention. I really liked the way the secondary characters were presented too. All in all, an enjoyable read.

I'm taking part in a blog tour of this book. Click here to view the Blue Moon by Wendy Corsi Staub Tour Participants.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Wendy Corsi Staub is an award-winning, USA Today and New York Times bestselling author of over seventy novels. She has twice been nominated for the Mary Higgins Clark Award. She lives in the New York City suburbs with her husband and their two children. You can find out more at http://www.wendycorsistaub.com/ or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

BOOK DETAILS:
Genre: Thrillers, Suspense
Published by: William Morrow, mass market
Publication Date: July 26th 2016
Number of Pages: 448
ISBN: 0062349759 (ISBN 13: 9780062349750)
Purchase Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, GoodReads 

GIVEAWAY: 

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Wendy Corsi Staub and William Morrow. There will be 1 US winners of one (1) eBook copy of Blood Red, the 1st Mundy's Landing novel, by Wendy Corsi Staub. The giveaway begins on July 22nd and runs through September 3rd, 2016.


a Rafflecopter giveaway
I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel through Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

A Woman's Place by Katelyn Beaty

It's a dilemma that many Christian women face. They are taught the traditional Christian family model of women staying home, yet they sense a call to a professional job outside the home. What's a woman to do with her God given gifts, talents, and abilities if God had no intention of her using them for His glory?

Beaty addresses that very issue with a great deal of wisdom and insight. She explores a theology of work, that we were created to work in order to live into God's purposes for us. “...[W]e work in order to properly bear the image of God.” But the issue arises with gender differences and what those differences might mean. Beaty wrote this book to deal with those kinds of issues.

I was surprised and impressed with her review of the history of men and women and work. Unlike our current Western culture, women traditionally worked hard, right alongside the men in the fields. Then there was the hard work of food preservation and storage. Beaty writes, “...attaching manhood to work and womanhood to the home is a perfect example of well-meaning Christians confusing deeply bound cultural norms for biblical duty.” Her review of the history of how women have been treated and where ideas about such treatment originate is very enlightening.

I appreciated her exploration of God's image in humans. Women are often taught that they are somehow lesser beings than men. Beaty encourages women to see themselves as a reflection of God's image as a human being. Period.

Beaty includes great examples of women in places where they are fulfilling their calling. These are places of authority, influence, and compassion. She also emphasizes why women are needed in such places. “And what women bring to the table is not simply a feminine touch but half of humanity's gifts, passions, and experiences.”

Some other aspects of women and work that are addressed include family responsibilities and the role of fathers, and women remaining single.

I am impressed with this book and highly recommend it. Women who sense a calling from God to influence their communities through work need to read this book. Men who want to understand such desires in women and help them fulfill their callings need to read this book. It would also be a good book for church board members to read and discuss.

You will not find attempts to explain those puzzling passages in the Bible that seem to forbid women from active involvement in ministry. What you will find is a theology of work that restores women to their rightful place of being God's image bearers in the world.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Katelyn Beaty is managing editor at Christianity Today. She is the youngest managing editor in the magazine's history, as well as the first woman to serve in that capacity. She is the cofounder of Her.meneutics, a daily website covering news, cultural trends, and theology from a perspective of Christian women. A graduate of Calvin College, she lives outside of Chicago, IL.

Howard Books, 272 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Uneasy Alliance: In The President's Service Episode 10 by Ace Collins

As this episode ten opens, Reese is in a U-boat on its way to Mexico, playing the role of a Brit who sold out his country for money. The U-boat commander reveals a devastating fact about Hitler and December 7, 1941.

Meeker has just met Sgt. Wavel of the British Women's Auxiliary Air Force. She's brought an assignment for Meeker. They are to pick up Reese and capture the sub commander, the most effective killer in the Nazi navy.

We also follow Bauer as he continues his nefarious plans. We get into some mob action too that derails Meeker for a while.

There is not as much action in this episode as there has been in some others. There is much more thinking and conversation by the characters. I was a little surprised that this far into the series we have a couple of new characters and stories. I would have thought that by this episode and around a thousand pages of story that the author would be winding up loose ends, not adding more.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


Ace Collins is the author of more than sixty books. He has also appeared on a number of television shows. He is based in Arkadelphia, Arkansas.

Elk Lake Publishing, 137 pages.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this episode through The Book Club Network for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

Evilution by Ace Collins

As this episode nine opens, Bobbs and her cohorts are on a stakeout in St. Louis. She is playing the role of a cabbie and Barnes is in the trunk, playing the part of a spare tire. Meeker is in the dangerous situation of being in a warehouse with Carfono. Carfono was certainly shocked, thinking Meeker was dead, having died in a plane crash. Bobbs wonders, what would a spy caught by M16 have that was so important? Why would Hitler want to abduct four polio victims, even if they were friends of the president?

Suddenly, a loud blast, shaking ground, and smoke pouring from the warehouse. It turns out Meeker is safe, if a little worse for wear. Carfono is dead. Meeker insists Carfono was not behind the abductions. She suggests they go through what they know so far once again. They are missing something and if they don't spot it, that will mean death for the abducted.

Meanwhile, ex-FBI agent Reese and the Dutchman Holsclaw are behind the German lines, dressed as SS officers, still trying to find Armstrong. If they could only find out what others had missed. They are ready to head back to England but face many obstacles on the way.

And then there is the nefarious person who has infiltrated Hoover's office and the wealthy American businessman being blackmailed by the Nazis.

Attention to period phrases in the dialog, descriptions of cars, songs and other features of the era make this series fun to read. There continues to be a good bit of action both in America and in Europe as the novel alternates location. We also get a good sense in this episode of the price some had to pay.

We're left hanging, knowing there is more unfinished business for Meeker. And there is still that mole to find and reveal.


My rating: 4/5 stars.

Ace Collins is the author of more than sixty books. He has also appeared on a number of television shows. He is based in Arkadelphia, Arkansas.

Elk Lake Publishing, 129 pages.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this episode through The Book Club Network for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Shadows of the Stone Benders by K. Patrick Donoghue

I liked this novel, a combination of archaeology and science fiction. I had read other books suggesting an advanced civilization flourished before Noah's world wide flood so this one was appealing.

Anlon is our hero, a wealthy and accomplished scientist. He received word his eccentric uncle has died and goes to take care of the estate. Before long he is involved in his uncle's archaeological research involving mysterious stones from a civilization long ago. But others are after them too. The death toll mounts as Anlon tries to solve one mystery after another.

I've enjoyed the novels by Preston and Child and this one fits into that genre. There are stones that contain visions and others that can forcefully move people. There is suspense as several nefarious people are trying to find all of the artifacts before Anlon does.

The character development is good. Anlon has a sidekick, a young woman he has helped to regain her self esteem. She's a scrappy young woman and it was fun to see her grow and mature as the novel developed.

I think this novel is a good debut effort. The plot is a little complex but I enjoyed its over all movement. We are left with hints of a sequel and I will be watching for it.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Kevin Patrick Donoghue is the author of The Anlon Cully Chronicles, including this, his debut novel. He lives in the Virginia suburbs of Washington D.C. with his wife and two sons. You can find out more at http://www.kpatrickdonoghue.com/.

Leaping Leopard Enterprises, LLC, 316 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

Monday, July 25, 2016

When There Are No Easy Answers by John S. Feinberg

Free Kindle download today.
Feinberg is an academic and had intellectually studied the problem of evil. Then his wife was diagnosed with Huntington's chorea. In shock, surprise, and pain, he found his intellectual work was of no comfort. What he shares here is his personal story of how he came to still love and serve the God who allows the suffering.

We would like to think that if we are really trying to seek God's will and be obedient, evil will not befall us. When it does, we wonder if we really want to still worship a God who rewards faithfulness with severe affliction. (17) A crisis of faith often results.

That is the kind of raw honesty with which Feinberg writes. He shares the stages he went through after his wife's diagnosis. I was interested to read that he realized intellectual answers were of little value for him. This was an emotional problem. A personal experience of affliction, he says, requires pastoral care, not an intellectual discussion.

The issue, Feiberg writes, is how to live with a God who doesn't prevent or stop the suffering. In helping others live with this reality, he gives good suggestions on what not to say. He lets us know what helped him, such as others allowing him to talk and really listening to him.

He honestly attacks questions like why some Christians have to suffer so much and others do not. He reveals the error of our expecting God to treat everyone the same, extending the grace of pain free living to all instead of just some. He does explain that affliction is part of living in a sinful world and that the more we follow God, the more we can expect attacks from Satan.

I recommend this book to those who minister to the afflicted. You won't find any cold intellectual writing about why Christians suffer. You will find an honest account of how one man came to grips with his relationship to God in the midst of affliction. You will receive some good insight into what the afflicted need in the way of ministry. You will also have some good information with which you can think and talk about God and suffering, as an Appendix includes several goals God may want to accomplish in the suffering.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

John S. Feinberg is professor of biblical and systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He has also been a pastor, a staff member for Chosen People Ministries, and has taught at Western Seminary and Liberty University.

Kregel, 160 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Sense of Humor by Max Elliot Anderson

While this book contains hundreds of jokes and funny stories, it is also a book about understanding humor and what it means to have a sense of humor. Anderson relates the benefits of humor, such as aiding in the healing process. It can help with stress and depression too.

Anderson says reading this book and putting into practice the principles it contains will help your communication skills, help you develop a positive attitude, and be a better friend and work associate. Life will be more enjoyable in your circle of influence.

He takes about the first third of the book to discuss humor. He writes about doctors and dentists using humor, its role in the family, what's appropriate humor, the styles of humor, the use of humor in education, at the workplace, as a tool of management, in relationships, and in ministry. He has a chapter about humor in translation and how sometimes a joke will not work in another language or culture. He includes a section on how humor can hurt others (such as sarcasm).

I learned some interesting concepts about humor. It involves the whole brain, integrating and balancing activity in both hemispheres. Even though pastors love to use jokes, “Interestingly, there are no jokes in the Bible.”

The last two thirds of the book contains jokes. Lots of jokes. Some made me groan while others had me laughing until the tears ran. Anyone who wants a good source of jokes will find plenty of material in this book.

While I was tempted to skip right to the collection of jokes, I'm glad I read the material about humor. It's a good idea to know how and why humor works as it does before rolling out the jokes. It will help me make good use of the jokes found in the rest of the book.

Food for thought: “Laughter is one of the most powerful tools we have for coping with the serious issues in our lives.”

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Max Elliot Anderson has spent most of his life in the production of documentary and dramatic films, client videos, and TV commercials. He observed the important role of humor in his work and wrote this book as a result. He and his wife have two children and four grandchildren. You can find out more about him and his books for young readers at http://www.maxbooks.9k.com/.

Elk Lake Publishing, 332 pages.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through The Book Club Network for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

Friday, July 22, 2016

A Transformed Mouth by Tracy Wainwright

We know our words are powerful (Prov. 18:21). We know we need to be conscious and intentional about what we say. We want to build up and inspire. We need to transform our mouth.

Wainwright begins her book by convincing us of those truths and others, such as our giving an account of our words at the judgment (Matt.12:36). But how do we transform our words? She gives us a practical strategy for doing that. Some of her tips include pausing, praying, deliberately lowering our voice, and surrendering our words to the Lord – sometimes moment by moment.

This is a convicting little book. Wainwright reminds us of the many Scriptures regarding our words. They are to be always gracious, seasoned with salt, and said in love. She helps us understand the right words to say and say them in the right way. She explores wise and unwise words. She reminds us that changing our words is our responsibility but God provides us with the Holy Spirit to help us.

In this day of volatile speech, we need to be reminded of the impact of our words. We can have a transformed mouth. It will take prayer and practice, Wainwright says. It may take surrendering our words to God all day, moment by moment. We'll never achieve complete control of our tongue but we can certainly aim for progress in doing so.

If you have any interest at all in having your words be uplifting and glorifying God, I highly recommend this little book. You'll find the Scriptures that are instrumental in understanding how important your words are and you'll be given a practical strategy to transform your tongue. It will mean a serious commitment and a conscious effort on your part. If you are ready to purpose in your heart not to injure others and be careless with your words, this book will get you on your way.

This is the second in the Transformed Series. You can read my review of A Transformed Mind here.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Tracy Wainwright is the director of the Abundant Life Conference for Women, a Stonecroft Ministries speaker, author, blogger, wife, and mother. You can find out more at www.tracywainwright.com and follow her blogs at http://surrenderedliving.blogspot.com and http://momsforgood.blogspot.com.

TLC Wainwright Publishing LLC, 75 pages.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from the author for the purpose of an independent and honest review.