Monday, November 30, 2020

Infernal Gates by Michael Jack Webb

Webb's novel take readers into the spiritual world of angels and demons and how they might interact with humans. The novel begins with a deadly airplane crash. While all appear to have perished in the crash, one man survived. Ethan was mysteriously saved from death and transported back to his home. He and an agent from NTSB work together to unravel the cause of the crash and soon are facing evil supernatural beings.

The major theme running through this novel is spiritual warfare. Webb explores the concept that the warfare has been going on for millennia. God has gifted certain people to fight the evil forces and it seems the ongoing battle is coming to a climax.

There is a great deal of information included in this novel. There is much about the legends of Native Americans. There is an exploration of the history of the Hmong people and the cause of airplane crashes. There is some information about creationism and evidence for a young earth. Perhaps most interesting of all is a possible explanation for that strange passage in Jude 6 about angels being bound in chains until judgment day.

This is an earlier novel of Webb's. While there is plenty of action, I found the information packed sections did not flow as well as they do in his later novels. Nonetheless, it is an engaging novel and thought provoking for Christian readers.

I have also read the sequel to this novel, Devil's Cauldron, and you can read my review here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Michael Jack Webb has a BA in History from the University of Florida and obtained his J.D. from the same university. Then he went into the business world, where he has been ever since. Webb is an eclectic reader, exploring topics like quantum physics, forbidden history, angels and demons, paleontology and archaeology, science fiction, and fantasy. He has traveled extensively, often setting his novels in places he's been. He and his wife live in North Carolina. You can find out more at https://www.michaeljackwebb.com/.

Michael Jack Webb Books, 420 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.)

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Ghost by Michael Jack Webb

It's hard to describe this novel. Spiritual warfare on steroids might be appropriate. It is not for the weak of heart yet Christians could certainly benefit from reading it. Webb highlights the reality of spiritual warfare and how evil spiritual beings might have been active for centuries.

The story got off to a rough start for me with a prologue event and then a plunge into current time. It took me a while to figure out what was going on. When I did, I was hooked. Kate is a troubled heroine being pursued by God and an ancient evil spirit. She is an unusual FBI profiler with the special gift of being able to make connections between seemingly unrelated facts. Chris is a police detective who comes alongside Kate. He seems to be a knowledgeable Christian yet also seemed to be ignorant of what a Christian can do and the authority one has when confronted with evil beings.

There is a ton of interesting information in this novel. Readers will learn about antique cars, histories of communities, facts about serial killers, and more. Most of the information fit well within the context of background revelation. Webb did a good job with the setting, grounding locations with good descriptions. Webb's narrative style is fascinating and kept me engaged in the story that flowed well.

Some of the content of this novel may surprise regular readers of Christian fiction. You'll meet shape shifting beings, skinwalkers, ghost hunters, the demon possessed and a slew of spiritual beings, good and evil. There is an exploration of spiritual legends from a number of religions, stories and experiences that may contain elements of spiritual reality. Traditional Christians may find their understanding of Christian spiritual experiences stretched a bit. I've not seen a novel challenge my Christian thoughts about the reality of the spiritual realm since the ground breaking books by Frank Peretti decades ago.

I recommend this book to Christians. It may well unsettle your life as you are faced with the exploration of the possible actions of evil spiritual beings in the past and today. Webb leaves readers hanging as the spiritual issue is not resolved at the end of this novel. I'm impatiently waiting for the sequel.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Michael Jack Webb has a BA in History from the University of Florida and obtained his J.D. from the same university. Then he went into the business world, where he has been ever since. Webb is an eclectic reader, exploring topics like quantum physics, forbidden history, angels and demons, paleontology and archaeology, science fiction, and fantasy. He has traveled extensively, often setting his novels in places he's been. He and his wife live in North Carolina. You can find out more at https://www.michaeljackwebb.com/.

Michael Jack Webb Books, 382 pages.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from the author through NetGalley. 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, November 28, 2020

Snuffed Out Blog Tour and Giveaway


About the Book

Book: Snuffed Out

Author: Barbara Cornthwaite

Genre: Christian cozy mystery

Release Date: July 24, 2020

Picnics can be murder… scenes.

What was supposed to be a romantic picnic at “their spot” turns criminal when Katrina and Todd stumble—almost literally—over a body.

What’s the college chef doing under a bush up in the mountains? Other than being dead, that is.

Who killed him? Why?

All clues point to people who Katrina is certain didn’t do it. Especially the one who ends up dead himself.

Uh, oh.

Thanks to a slow-burning romantic relationship that can’t seem to get past chapter one, and a determination to save her friend from false arrest, Katrina joins Todd again as they riddle out bizarre clues, weed through unlikely suspects, and learn to communicate on a more personal level.

What do you get when you combine literary humor, sweet romance, and a practical helping of faith? A cozy mystery that’ll keep you guessing. Barbara Cornthwaite’s second Wilkester Mystery has everything you want for a cozy read.

Snag Snuffed Out today.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review 

This is another enjoyable cozy mystery featuring Katrina, amateur sleuth and literature professor. The murder aspect of the novel was good with a twist at the end I didn't see coming, though there were hints. This novel had a bit more about the relationship between Katrina and Todd, the police detective who is sweet on her. Katrina deals with some personal issues relating to falling for a divorced man.

I like how Cornthwaite adds several side issues to the plot. There is a realistic look at the potential difficulties in fostering troubled children. I like how Katrina suggests one can gain insights into the culture of a historical time better through the literature of the day than just through the historical facts given. The literature quotes and poems and exploration of Milton are a plus. And I am especially impressed with how Katrina expresses her Christianity. Cornthwaite did an excellent job there.

I liked this cozy mystery taking place in the Pacific Northwest, near Mount Rainier. I do wish Cornthwaite had included more description of the mighty mountain represented on the cover and the view Katrina and Todd saw from their rock. Other than that, an enjoyable novel. I will certainly be looking for the next in the series.

I've also reviewed the first book in this series and you can read my review of Brought to Book here.

My rating: 5/5 stars.


About the Author

Barbara Cornthwaite lives in the middle of Ireland with her husband and children. She taught college English before “retiring” to do something she loves far more; her days are now filled with homeschooling her six children, trying to keep the house tidy (a losing battle), and trying to stay warm in the damp Irish climate (also a losing battle). She is surrounded by medieval castles, picturesque flocks of sheep, and ancient stone monuments. These things are unappreciated by her children, who are more impressed by traffic jams, skyscrapers, and hot weather.

Teaser for Snuffed Out

Todd closed the folder with the Franklin case paperwork in it and laid it on top of the stack of folders waiting to be filed. He almost reached for the Delaney case notes again but resisted the impulse. There was no new information in there, and he’d gone over everything a dozen times in the last few days. He had promised Katrina he wouldn’t give up, but without any new leads to pursue, there wasn’t much he could do.

He shook his head, impatient with himself. He’d been doing so well at putting her out of his mind—hadn’t thought of her all day until this moment. Now he’d probably be struggling for the rest of the day.

John Ortega poked his head into Todd’s office.

“Hey, we just got a call from the librarian at Wilkester College about the theft of a manuscript. The chief said either one of us could go, but I thought you might like to take it.”

“Why?”

“Oh, come on,” said John. “You think I’m blind and deaf?”

“It’s no use. Nothing’s going to happen between Dr. Peters and me.”

John leaned up against the door frame and grinned at him. “’Dr. Peters,’ huh? She was ‘Katrina’ for weeks.”

“Well, that was before. Now that I know a relationship isn’t possible, I need to keep my distance.”

“She turned you down?”

“I didn’t ask, but trust me, I know what I’m talking about.”

“Hmm,” John said. “You don’t usually give up on things so easily. Well, do you mind handling this anyway? I’ve got that other robbery case to deal with, and I’m supposed to be interviewing that guy from Tacoma in a couple hours.” Todd hesitated and John added, “She’s an adjunct professor, right? She’s probably not even on campus now, and she certainly won’t be in the library.”

“Oh, okay.” Todd sighed. He pushed back his chair and stood up.

“’Attaboy. Thanks for taking the call.” John turned to go and then looked back. “It will get easier, you know.”

“I know.” As long as I don’t see her again.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, November 28

Debbie's Dusty Deliberations, November 28

Texas Book-aholic, November 29

Nancy E Wood, November 29

The Avid Reader, November 30

Genesis 5020, November 30

For the Love of Literature, November 30

Sodbusterliving, December 1

Artistic Nobody, December 1 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, December 2

deb's Book Review, December 2

Remembrancy, December 3

Ashley’s Bookshelf, December 3

Splashes of Joy, December 3

Inklings and notions, December 4

21st Century Keeper at Home, December 4

For Him and My Family, December 5

Blogging With Carol, December 5

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 6

Emily Yager, December 6

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

Lis Loves Reading, December 7

Labor Not in Vain, December 7

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 8

Mary Hake, December 8

She Lives to Read, December 9

Sara Jane Jacobs, December 9

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, December 10

Godly Book Reviews, December 10

SusanLovesBooks, December 10

Daysong Reflections, December 11

Bizwings Blog, December 11

Giveaway


To celebrate her tour, Barbara is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a paperback of the book!!

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/103f2/snuffed-out-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, November 27, 2020

What Unites Us by Dan Rather and Elliott Kirschner

Frequently, during the last four years, I have been discouraged at the dysfunction of our national government. Rather's book is a gentle breeze of fresh air.

I take encouragement from some of Rather's final words. “I remind myself and others that we have been through big challenges in the past, that it often seems darkest in the present. The pendulum of our great nation seems to have swung toward conceit and unsteadiness once again, but it is in our power to wrest it back.” (259)

Rather shares a combination of memoir and stories reminding us of how our nation has risen to the challenge so many times before through inspiring leadership and selfless patriotism. He reminds us what has made this nation truly great: science, education, the arts, a free press. I was especially impressed with his chapter on dissent and how essential it is when the path of the nation gets derailed. We are a better and stronger nation, Rather says, for having such voices. (43)

This is a good book to read “as the nation has careened into an existential crisis. The order of the past, of how governments were meant to run and how presidents were supposed to behave, has cracked.” (265) But as Rather's father told him, “Steady.” Reach deep down, Rather writes, “deep into the soul of this nation and hold on to the central principles that have made us great.” (268) Wise words for a nation ready to pick itself up and make progress.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Dan Rather is one of the world's best known journalists. He has interviewed every president since Eisenhower and covered almost every important dateline around the world. He joined CBS News in 1962, and in 1981 assumed the position of Anchor and Managing Editor of the CBS Evening News, which he held for 24 years. His reporting helped turn 60 Minutes into an institution and launched 48 Hours as a newsmagazine program. Unpon leaving CBS, Rather created the Emmy Award-winning Dan Rather Reports on HDNet. He is the founder, president, and CEO of News and Guts, an independent production company that specializes in high quality nonfiction content across a range of channels.

Elliot Kirschner is an Emmy Award-winning journalist and film maker. After a career at CBS, he joined his long time collaborator Dan Rather as senior producer for Dan Rather Reports. He now develops film, television and digital project. He lives with his family in San Francisco.

Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 288 pages.

(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, November 26, 2020

The Well of Ice by Andrea Carter

I liked this mystery set in Ireland and featuring a female amateur sleuth. Solicitor Benedicta “Ben” had moved to the Inishowen Peninsula to escape her past and start a new life. But then she saw the man who had killed her sister ten years prior. He had recently been released from prison. And then things begin to happen in Glendara. A favorite pub burns and the barmaid is found murdered. And then strange things begin to happen to her.

This is not really a police procedural novel. It is more about how Ben talks to people, finding out about them and inquiring as to what they know. Histories and secrets are slowly revealed as Ben tries to figure out what is going on and who is behind the evil deeds.

This is the third novel in a series but it read well on its own. It is a good novel for readers who enjoy one concentrating on character interaction as the way to solve a murder mystery. You'll have to be interested in the lives of a variety of characters to remain engaged in this novel. You will get a very good sense of place in a remote location in Ireland. Carter does well with descriptions, setting the story securely in the remote and winter weather of the peninsula. I can't imagine Ben wanting to swim in the cold coastal waters. That alone made me shiver.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Andrea Carter grew up in Laois and studied law at Trinity College, before moving to the Inishowen peninsula in County Donegal where she ran the most northerly solicitor's practice in the country. In 2006 she returned to Dublin to work as a barrister before turning to write crime novels.

Oceanview Publishing, 352 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.)

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Things We Didn't Say by Amy Lynn Green

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this engaging and informative novel. What an interesting idea, to have the novel consist entirely of letters and other communications, such as newspaper articles and government documents. I liked the leading character, Johanna, who was crafted exceptionally well. And that her character was revealed through her letters and the letters of others was remarkable. I liked her wit and humor so often fully revealed in letters she wrote but then never sent.

In addition to being entertaining, the novel dealt with some serious issues. How we pray for the unsaved in view of a sovereign God is one issue included. Another was how Christians are to treat their enemies. There is much about prejudice in the novel as a small Minnesota community deals with a new POW camp nearby. Johanna, musing on her insights from translating and censoring POW letters reflects, “Maybe, I thought, if I were pen pals with everyone in the world, I would understand people better.” (Loc 2392/5593)

I highly recommend this novel. It is an engaging story of fictional characters facing serious issues during WW II – ones we still face today. Green is a very creatively talented writer and this is an amazing debut effort. Please, another novel soon!

You can read an excerpt here.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Amy Lynn Green is a publicist by day and a freelance writer on nights and weekends. She was the 2014 winner of the Family Fiction short story contest, and her articles have been featured in Crosswalk, Focus on the Family magazines, and other faith-based publications over the last ten years. This is her first novel. You can find out more at www.amygreenbooks.com. Photo Credit: © Roger Smith Photography

Bethany House, 416 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.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Murder at the Village Fete by Catherine Coles

I enjoyed this cozy mystery novella. Tommy and Evelyn are a charming couple and I like the relationship they have. Even though they are living into their new titles of Lord and Lady, he still goes out to help the estate manager and she still loves to bake. Their characters are refreshing in the otherwise stilted social atmosphere of the English countryside in the 1920s.

The mystery was done pretty well. The murder relates to previous accusations of crimes. Now there are new accusations and a threat of blackmail. I did not read the previous book in this series so I do not know if the previous novel contains details of the earlier incidents but this novel has enough back story that it reads well on its own.

This is a fun novella for readers who enjoy a cozy mystery set in an entertaining location and era and includes a couple of delightful amateur sleuths.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Catherine Coles has been a legal secretary, a night carer, in a bar while completing a law degree, a family law practitioner, a childminder, a foster carer, a home carer, a receptionist, facilitating car deliveries for online customers, and a PA/HR Manager. Now she writes full time and lives in the north east of England. You can find out more at https://catherinecoles.com/.

Independently Published, 169 pages.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Book Sirens. 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.)

Harness the Power of the Invincible Mind by Alex Neumann

Neumann shares wisdom from his life journey. When he was a young man, he wanted to change the world. Now, as “a bedridden sick older man,” he realizes if he had focused on changing himself, it would have had far reaching effects. (118/318)

He shares stories. Lots and lots of stories. For readers of personal improvement books, these stories will be well known. He explores the meaning of success. He investigates perceptions and thoughts and beliefs. I like his emphasis on the importance of the everyday decisions we make. They may seem small but they have an impact on the world.

The book contains lots of encouragement. For example: “Kick the obstacles; if they won't move, climb on them, if this is not possible, go around them, if that is not possible, rise above them.” (200/318) How you accomplish any of those tasks is left to you to figure out.

This is a good book for readers new to ones about personal improvement. It is good encouragement to be a lasting inspirations to others even if it is light on the practical means to do so.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Alex Neumann is an author, engineer, corporate mentor, and technology investor. He is a member of The Independent Book Publishers Association. He holds a BA in English Literature and an MSc in Computer Science. He lives with his wife, dog and cat. You can find out more at www.alexneumann.co.

Pearson Press, 193 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.)