Friday, July 21, 2017

Healing Love by Jennifer Slattery

Slattery has crafted an entertaining, informative and thought provoking novel. The plot centers around the short term mission trip a youth group makes to El Salvador, a developing country still recovering from a devastating hurricane and a bloody civil war.

I liked the main character, Brooke. She goes on the trip as an adult chaperone with her teen sister's church youth group. What Brooke experiences in El Salvador changes her life forever.

There are many great aspects to this novel. One is that it really gives the reader an idea of a short term mission trip. We read about the feelings some El Salvadorans may have regarding the visitors, that they come with money and a save-the-world attitude and leave making promises they never keep. On the other hand, we read about the sacrifices the teens are willing to make to go on this mission trip.

Another aspect of the novel is the exploration of feeling called by God to do a certain task or ministry. How does one know for sure? How does one respond to the critical comments of others who do not understand? How does one evaluate a profitable career against the call of God?

There are other issues for readers to think about too. What is the purpose of a short term mission trip, to change the person going or change the people being visited? What about dating someone from an entirely different culture? How do we feel about our extravagant lifestyles when others live in hovels with not enough food to eat?

The only thing missing in this novel was more description. I would have liked to be able to better visualize people and places in El Salvador.

I recommend this novel to teens and young adults who are interested in the impact of short mission trips. The characters you meet will tug at your heart. While you may not be able to change the world, you will be challenged with the possibility of changing one life.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Jennifer Slattery is the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, helping women embrace and live out who they are in Christ. She is a frequent speaker on topics women face in our busy world. She is the author of several novels and is a regular contributor to Crosswalk.com. She serves as the managing and acquiring editor for Guiding Light women's fiction, an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. You can find out more at https://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com/. You can connect with Slattery on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 306 pages.

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

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Crazy About Alaska by Shannon L. Brown Giveaway



Click here to purchase your copy.

About the Book


Book title: Crazy about Alaska  

Author: Shannon L. Brown  
Release date: June 30, 2017  
Genre: Sweet Contemporary Romance  

Can she trust love? Holly has her eye on a handsome state trooper. Not on her boring, oh-so-serious, former professor, Adam. Having her toes curl when she’s near Adam must be ignored. Holly just wants a great dad for her twin girls. She’s going to find one, write a novel to fulfill her dreams, and create a happy life. Falling in love isn’t part of her plan.

My Review:


Brown has given readers a fun romance set in Alaska. The characters are not complex, nor is the plot. I appreciated Holly's plight, trying to make a living as the single parent of twins. She had been abandoned by the man she thought would be a lifelong spouse so she is hesitant to love again. Adam is an okay character put his personality is not strongly developed. He did not have any great obstacle to overcome to love. By far, my favorite characters were Holly's preschool twins. They added life to every scene they were in and I wish there had been more of them.

The typical romance plot is girl and guy fall in love. A huge obstacle appears. Girl and guy overcome obstacle to have lasting love. There were little obstacles in this novel but nothing major. In that respect, I didn't feel Holly and Adam really had to work much to achieve their love.

I liked the Alaska setting. Readers travel along by land, water, and air and get a sense of the scenery of the southern region of the state. Brown's descriptions of the area were not captivating but did give an idea of why people love to live there.

I recommend this novel to readers who enjoy a straightforward romance. You'll meet some good characters living in a beautiful state. You'll get a little drama and a little humor but mostly pure romance. This is the only book I've read in this series and think it can be easily read and enjoyed on it's own.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Author


Writing books that are fun and touch your heart Even though Shannon L. Brown always loved to read, she didn’t plan to be a writer. She earned two degrees from the University of Alaska, one in journalism/public communications, but didn’t become a journalist. Years passed. Shannon felt pulled into a writing life, testing her wings with a novel and moving on to articles. Shannon is now an award-winning journalist who has sold hundreds of articles to local, national, and regional publications. Shannon was born and raised in Alaska so she enjoyed writing the books in the Alaska Dream Romance series. “The Feather Chase” was her first published book and began the Crime-Solving Cousins Mystery series. The eight-to-twelve-year-olds in your life will enjoy this contemporary twist on a Nancy Drew-type mystery. Shannon lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her professor husband and adorable calico cat.

Guest Post from Shannon Brown


Open Doors When a character opens the door and steps from her world into mine, writing about her is easier. Holly Harris in Crazy About Alaska is a real estate agent, and I was once one. I’ve driven clients around and shown them houses only to have them go a different direction. My husband and I bought a new house a few years ago, so I have tales to tell from that experience too. (Readers may think the purple shower is made up. Think again.) I chose to bring a college professor into her life as a love interest. I’m married to one. Some of myself always finds its way into a story. Sometimes, it’s just something I might like to do. Holly’s sister Jemma rehabs furniture in Falling for Alaska, book one in the series. The idea for her business came while I was watching HGTV’s Flea Market Flip. Taking trash and making it beautiful sounds like something I’d like to try. Jemma also dislikes coffee and drinks tea. (Here I am again.) But she is not exactly me. She’s cooking challenged, and I’m a good cook. Does the story become about the author when she inserts herself into it? Reality is only a fun fraction of the book. Holly has two men vying for her affections. That never happened. (It might have been fun if it had!) She also has five-year-old twins. I never experienced that. By far the most challenging of the sisters in the series was Bree in book two, Loving Alaska. She’s a doctor, and my knowledge of the medical profession comes from sitting on the exam table, not from doing the exam. I spoke with doctors I knew and brought her to life. But Bree isn’t all made up either. She despises being in nature, especially camping. I’ve camped on a frozen river, beside a lake after canoeing or boating in, and many more places, but I’m with Bree and hotels are greatly preferred. There I am in the story again. Reading the books I’ve written helps you know who I am. I’m a woman with a big imagination who enjoys bringing stories to life. Oh, and that slightly sarcastic sense of humor you may notice with Jemma and Holly? That might be from me as well.


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Giveaway

To celebrate this tour, Shannon Brown is giving away a grand prize of a book lovers gift basket – a basket filled with book-related things!! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/bb35


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

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Cover Story by Deb Richardson-Moore

I enjoyed this mystery centering around the Greek row activities of a southern elite college in Georgia. The stage for the mystery is set when two college girls on their way home for Christmas break are forced off the road. One is killed. Why someone would want to harm these women requires an extensive investigation. The resulting plot is complex but interesting.

I like Branigan, a local newspaper reporter with a bent to solving mysteries. She is friends with the family of the surviving girl and is determined to find out who caused the tragedy. My favorite character by far was Malachi, a homeless man with excellent observation skills. He has frequent insight into the behavior of people. Being homeless, he is somewhat invisible and often gets into investigative situations others could not.

I learned quite a bit about sororities and fraternities. Some of the sororities in the south are something, maintaining a fancy dress code. There was lots of partying going on and sometimes it got out of hand.

I also learned quite a bit about the homeless and how they live. I do appreciate the emphasis on the homeless community in these novels featuring Branigan. There is mild swearing but I felt it fit the situation.

I did enjoy this mystery. It is the second novel featuring Branigan but reads really well on its own. You can read my review of the first in the series, The Cantaloupe Thief, here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Deb Richardson-Moore was a reporter for a Greenville newspaper for 27 years. When she received the religion beat, she enrolled in a seminary to learn about her subject, left the newspaper and earned a master of divinity degree. She became pastor of a nondenominational inner city mission to the homeless. Her first book, The Weight of Mercy, tells of her first years in that ministry. She and her husband have three grown children. You can find out more at http://debrichardsonmoore.com.

Lion Fiction (distributed in the U.S. by Kregel), 288 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Kregel. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

66 Metres by J F Kirwan Giveaway

66 Metres

by J F Kirwan

on Tour July 17-31, 2017

Synopsis:


A chilling and utterly compelling thriller that you won’t be able to put down!

The only thing worth killing for is family.

Everyone said she had her father’s eyes. A killer’s eyes. Nadia knew that on the bitterly cold streets of Moscow, she could never escape her past – but in just a few days, she would finally be free.
Bound to work for Kadinsky for five years, she has just one last mission to complete. Yet when she is instructed to capture The Rose, a military weapon shrouded in secrecy, Nadia finds herself trapped in a deadly game of global espionage.
And the only man she can trust is the one sent to spy on her…

My review:


This gritty novel captured me after the initial set up of the many characters. Set in the realm of the world's power thugs, it has believable characters and a plot that could be out of today's newspapers.
I liked Nadia. She is a tough woman, pitting loyalty to her sister against the vow she made her mother to never kill. I felt for her, getting caught up in the world of ruthless power mongers. She has to overcome deep pain to succeed in her task.
The plot is fascinating, with several groups wanting the technological device that could change the power balance of the world's nations. I really liked the emphasis on diving and the under water suspense.
I recommend this novel to those who enjoy a gritty story of international intrigue. The power mongers are ruthless so there is plenty of violence and this novel is not for the cozy mystery reader. It contains a good balance of character development and plot movement. And the ending, please tell me the sequel is coming soon. I'll be looking for it.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: Carina
Publication Date: August 25th 2016
Number of Pages: 232
ISBN: 9780008207748
Series: Nadia Laksheva Spy Thriller #1
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

‘Let’s see if you can really shoot. Give her your pistol,’ Kadinsky said to one of the henchmen, the one with a pockmarked face – Pox, Nadia named him – who immediately lost his sense of humour.
She took the weapon from his outstretched hand, weighed it in her palm. An old-style Smith & Wesson. God knows why the guy had it. Most blatnye preferred semi-autos, Makarovs or the older but higher-velocity Tokarevs. She checked that it was loaded, all six bullets nestling in their chambers. She glanced at Kadinsky, thought about killing him. But the other henchman, the fat one with slicked black hair – hence, Slick – had his Glock trained on her, his lopsided leer daring her.
Kadinsky waved a hand towards Katya, five metres away. He tilted his head left and right, then settled back against the soft leather, took a gulp of whiskey, and smacked his lips. ‘The red rose in the bowl of flowers behind her left ear. Shoot it. From where you stand.’
Slick’s eyes flicked toward Katya, gauging the angles. His leer faded.
Nadia stared at her sister and the rose. Most of it was behind her head. Only one leaf of the scarlet blossom was exposed. She swallowed, then lifted the revolver, and took up a shooting stance like her father had taught her. Right arm firm, elbow not fully locked, left hand under the fist, prepared for the recoil. She had to do it before anger built and disrupted her concentration. She cocked the hammer, lined up the shot, then spoke to Katya’s serene, trusting face: ‘Love you,’ she said. Then she breathed out slowly, as if through a straw, and squeezed the trigger.
Masonry exploded behind Katya. The crack was so loud that three other men burst into the room, weapons drawn. Kadinsky waved them back as Pox peeled the revolver from Nadia’s stiff fingers. Petals fluttered to the floor amidst a plume of white powder from the impact crater in the wall. Katya sat immobile, pale, the hair on the left side of her head ruffled as if by a gust of wind. A trickle of blood oozed from her left temple, and ran down her cheek.
Katya, lips trembling, beamed at Nadia. ‘Still alive,’ she said, her voice hoarse. She touched the graze with an unsteady forefinger.
Nadia began to shake. She folded her arms, refusing to give Kadinsky the satisfaction.

Excerpt from 66 Metres by J F Kirwan. Copyright © 2017 by J F Kirwan. Reproduced with permission from J F Kirwan. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Barry (JF) works by day in aviation safety, and writes at night. He is also a diving instructor and has dived all over the world. He got hooked on writing when people started arguing about his characters as if they were real people. He is married and lives in Paris, because the coffee is better there, and he needs coffee to write.

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Tour Participants:

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Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for J F Kirwan. There will be 4 winners of one (1) $10 Amazon.com Gift Card! The giveaway begins on July 16 and runs through August 2, 2017.
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 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 Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Wisdom of God by A W Tozer edited by James L Snyder

The material in this book has been collected from sermons Tozer preached in the early 1960s. (He died in 1963.) The message is needed today, perhaps even more so than a generation ago.

Tozer concentrates on the Hebrew understanding of wisdom in the first part of the book. I did not find that section particularly interesting. Tozer begins to explore godly wisdom and its necessity about a quarter of the way into the book. That material is dynamite.

Tozer believed that the “compelling need” was for Christians to receive the divine illumination of wisdom from God. “Lacking that,” he said, “the church is blind.” (Loc 521/2038) He distinguishes wisdom and scholarship. He shares the characteristics of a wise person. He reminds us it is a gift from God through the Holy Spirit into the heart of a humble person.

I highly recommend this book to church leaders. Even in Tozer's day, he called the new ideas and programs “religious claptrap and modern entertainment.” (Loc 690/2038) He would rather have the fire of God and the presence of the Holy Spirit, he said. I also recommend this book to all Christians who desire to know more about wisdom from God, the humility needed to receive it, and the life one leads with it.

My rating: 4/4 stars.

A. W. Tozer (1897-1963) was a self-taught theologian, pastor, and writer. He authored more than forty books. The Pursuit of God and The Knowledge of the Holy are considered modern classics. Information and quotes can be found at www.twitter.com/TozerAW.
James L. Snyder is an award-winning author whose writings have appeared in more than eighty periodicals and fifteen books. He is recognized as an authority on the life and ministry of A. W. Tozer. He was given the rights from the A. W. Tozer estate to produce new books derived from over 400 audiotapes. He and his wife live in Ocala, Florida. You can find out more at www.jamessnyder.com.

Bethany House Publishers, 192 pages.

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

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Weekly Prayer Project by Scarlet Hiltibidal

The aim of the author is to provide readers a way to intentionally be quiet and hear God better. There are 52 devotions divided into seven sections representing the different types of prayer found in the Bible. Each devotion has a Scripture, a short devotion, and two journal prompts with plenty of space given for thoughtful writing. Some of the responses are involved and may take a few days to complete, such as finding three truths about God's character and relating them to burdens. (53)

There is much I like about this book. I like that space is given right after the devotion for journal entries. No extra notebook is needed. I like that Hiltibidal included lament as one of the sections. That is a valuable spiritual discipline we often ignore.

There are also a few things I don't like about the book. It is somewhat shallow. For example, when writing about God's mercy, she says, “When you are sick and suffering, He is sad. He cares. He heals.” (24) There is nothing about the purposes of God, such as His discipline or the lessons that may be learned in such a situation.

She uses at least one verse out of its context. John 16:20, about sorrow turning to joy, records what Jesus specifically said to His disciples about His death and resurrection. Can we really take that verse and make it a universal truth for Christians? Perhaps another verse would have been a better choice.

The book also contains some sloppy theology. When writing about the feelings as a follower of God after sinning, she concludes, “...your feelings should compel you to repent, to turn from the wrong you've done. This change ultimately leads to salvation.” (112) This might give a reader the wrong impression, that changed behavior must come before salvation.

I also had an issue with some language or sentence structure. She writes, “Try to identify an area of your life where God isn't as present as He should be.” (89) God is present. Period. There is no “should” about it. Perhaps she could have asked readers to identify areas in life where God's presence is not sensed or felt. That puts the responsibility to experience God's presence on us, where it belongs.

I like the style of the book, a Scripture, a devotion and journal prompts. Unfortunately, it suffers from issues that could have been corrected by careful editing.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

Scarlet Hiltibidal is a curriculum writer and blogger. She has a degree in biblical counseling and worked in a Christian elementary school before she started writing. She is mother to three girls, one recently adopted. She lives in the Nashville area. You can follow her blog at https://scarlethiltibidal.com/.

Zondervan, 144 pages.

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

Friday, July 14, 2017

His Guilt by Shelley Shepard Gray Giveaway

His Guilt

by Shelley Shepard Gray

on Tour July 10 - August 10, 2017

Synopsis:


New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray delivers the next novel in her Amish of Hart County series—a suspenseful tale of an Amish man who will risk all to protect the woman he loves.

Mark Fisher has returned home to Hart County, determined to put the past behind him. Two years ago, after being wrongly accused of assault, he left the Amish community, though never forgot his home. When the one person who had helped him through his rough times asks for help, Mark returns. But it is pretty Waneta Cain who makes him want to stay…
Neeta is one of the few people in Hart County who doesn’t believe Mark is guilty of hurting anyone. However, his worldliness and tough exterior do make her uneasy. As she begins to see the real man behind all the gossip and prejudice, she wonders if he is the man for her.
Just when Mark starts to believe a new life is possible, a close friend of Neeta’s is attacked. Once again, everyone in the community seems to believe he is guilty. But what hurts most is Neeta’s sudden wariness around him. When another woman is hurt, a woman who is close to both Neeta and himself, Mark fears he knows the real culprit. And time is running out. Will Mark be able to find him before Neeta becomes his next victim?


My Review:



This novel might be a bit of a twist in the Amish genre. Not all is well and peaceful in this Amish village. While I would describe it as a cozy mystery as there is little violence described, this novel clearly portrays the prejudice and violence that can arise in an Amish community.

Gray's novel is driven by character issues. The community must face their attitudes toward Mark, a man who has been cleared of past accusations of violence. I was surprised at the prejudice many retained toward him. Mark has difficulty overcoming his troubled past to make a relationship in the present. He also faces the cost of his own family loyalty.

I recommend this novel to those who enjoy the Amish genre and novels concentrating on character development. You'll have the opportunity to think about how one faces his past to live in the present. You'll be challenged to think about forgiveness and restoration. You'll get a little suspense and a little romance too.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Book Details:

Genre: Fiction, Amish Fiction
Published by: Avon Inspire/HarperCollins
Publication Date: July 4th 2017
Number of Pages: 304
ISBN: 0062469134 (ISBN13: 9780062469137)
Series: The Amish of Hart County #2 | It is a stand-alone novel
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1
Horse Cove, Kentucky
August 4

He was watching her again.
As she handed her customer change across the counter of the Blooms and Berries nursery, Waneta Cain did her best to pretend that their newest employee was not inordinately interested in everything she did. He was simply observant.
Surely, it was just her imagination playing tricks on her anyway. Mark Fisher was probably trying to see how she handled the checkout counter. She used to watch Mr. Lehmann all the time when she’d first started at the nursery.
That had to be the reason.
“Thanks for your help, Neeta,” Mr. Killian said, interrupting her thoughts. “I’d be lost without you.”
“I’m simply glad I could help ya,” she told the Englisher with a bright smile as he lifted his box of seedlings from the wide well-worn countertop. “See ya soon.”
The man tipped his ball cap. “You sure will if I can’t get these to bear fruit. Wish me luck.”
“Good luck and good blessings, too.” After helping him with the door, she let it close behind her with a satisfying thunk.
She chuckled to herself. That Mr. Killian was a terrible gardener but a frequent customer. She sincerely hoped that one day he would develop that green thumb he wanted so badly.
“Do you always act that way?”
A shiver coursed through her as she turned.
Meeting Mark’s dark-brown eyes, which seemed to be studying her intently, she struggled to appear calm. “Like what?”
Mark stepped away from the row of metal shelves located in the back of the store. He’d been unpacking boxes and restocking shelves for the last hour. Methodically sorting and organizing merchandise while she helped customers. “Like they’re your friends,” he replied. “Like you’re so happy to see them.” Stepping closer, he lifted his shoulder. “Is that how you really are… or is that just an act?”
She didn’t care for the way he seemed to be insinuating that she wasn’t genuine. “It’s not an act. Mr. Killian is in her a lot. He’s nice. We are friends.”
“He’s English and must be fifty years old.”
“I don’t see how that matters. I can like people who are different than me.”
“Maybe you can. But you were sure smiling at him a lot. Or do you do that on purpose? To make sure that he will return?”
His question made her uncomfortable, but his sarcastic tone made her angry. “I don’t know why you are asking such things. I really don’t like what you are suggesting. I’m not doing anything out of the ordinary or smiling at customers in any special way. I’m just being my regular self.”
“Huh. So you treat everyone with smiles and kindness. You are friends with all sorts of people. Even people who are different from you. Except me.”
“I’ve been perfectly amiable to you,” she retorted. Except, of course, that was a lie.
“I don’t think so,” Mark murmured. “I’ve been her seven hours, four of them barely six feet away from you.”
She knew that. She’d known exactly where he was every moment they’d been together. “And?”
“And during all that time you’ve hardly said ten words to me. You sure aren’t smiling at me.”
She opened her mouth, closed it again. What could she say? He wasn’t wrong.
Mark stepped closer, invading her space. She could see the fine brown hairs on his forearms now. Noticed that he hadn’t shaved in a day or two.
“Is it because I was taken in for questioning?” he asked quietly, his dark-brown eyes watching her, as if he feared she would run. “Or, is it just me? Do you not want anything to do with me, Waneta?”
Her palms were sweating. She fisted both as she tried to come up with an answer. He was right on all accounts. She was uneasy around him.
Fact was, Mark Fisher was a large man. Tall and well-muscled. He had a rough way about him, too. It was disconcerting.
Of course, she’d always felt uneasy around him. He’d been an angry teenager, always glaring and short-tempered with most everyone. After he finished school, he’d worked for a few people around town. Rumor had it that his brother, Calvin, had taken off as soon as their mother did. Mark had even lived in Mr. Lehmann’s home for a time, until he was taken in for questioning about Bethany’s assault.
And after he was questioned, then let go for insufficient evidence, he disappeared for two years.
Now he was back.
Mr. Lehmann assured her that Mark hadn’t done anything wrong, but a lot of people in the community still believed that he was the masked man who’d beaten Bethany Williams. It wasn’t much of a stretch. Bethany had told lots of people that her assailant was over six feet tall and was very strong. But she also said she wasn’t able to identify the man.
Few other details had circulated after that. Then Bethany and her family moved up north, practically the moment she was released from the hospital.
Realizing Mark was still waiting, Waneta said, “I haven’t spoken to you much because we don’t’ know each other.”
His eyes narrowed. “But that’s not really true. We knew each other once. We did go to the same Amish school.”
“You were ahead of me in school. We hardly talked then.” He was only three years older than herself, but they were miles apart in terms of how they’d lived their lives. He’d also been the kind of boy she’d been a little scared of. He was rough and always seemed so angry.
For a second, he looked dumbfounded. “So, you do remember.”
“Of course I remember you and your brother, Calvin. Our school wasn’t that big, Mark.” Feeling pretty good about how self-assured she was sounding, Neeta folded her arms across her chest. “But that was a long time ago. Years have gone by.”
“Yeah. You’re right,” he said slowly. “Years have gone by. Practically a whole lifetime.”
He sounded so sad. She wondered what was going through his head. Did he regret hurting Bethany? And what had been doing for the two years since it all happened? Why had he even come back to Horse Cave? Surely, there were other, far better places to start over.
The door jangled as a couple came in. Like Mr. Killian, they were regular customers. James and Katie Eicher were Amish and lived on a large farm on the outskirts of town.
Glad for the reprieve, she smiled at them. “Hiya, Katie. James. How can I help you?”
Just as Katie was about to answer, her husband put a hand on her arm. “Go wait in the buggy, Kate.”
Katie looked at her husband in confusion, then blanched when she caught sight of Mark. Without a word, she turned and walked back out the door.
When it closed again, James glared at Mark. “What are you doing here?”
Mark lifted his chin. “I work here.”
“Is that true, Neeta?” James asked. “Did Henry actually hire him?”
“Jah. Today is Mark’s first day.” Unsure how to handle his anger, she cleared his throat. “Now, um, how may I help you?”
“Where is Henry?”
She looked around the room, which was a ridiculous exercise, seeing as it was perfectly obvious that Mr. Lehmann was not there.
“He’s out back,” Mark said, pointing to one of the four large greenhouses behind the retail store. “You want me to go get him for ya?”
“I don’t want you to do a thing for me,” James said. “I’ll go find him myself.”
Mark rocked back on his heels. “Suit yourself.”
Neeta winced at his flippant tone.
James, however, looked irate. Pointing a finger at him, James said, “I’m telling you now, Fisher. You stay far away from my wife. Don’t talk to her. Don’t even look at her.”
Instead of looking cowed, the corners of Mark’s lips lifted. “Or what?”
“Or I’ll do everything I can to ensure that you leave here for good.”
Mark narrowed his eyes. “Are you threatening me?”
Ignoring Mark again, James turned to her. “I can’t believe you are working in here with him. Do your parents even know?”
Before she could say that they did not, James strode out the door. It slammed in his wake.
For a good couple of seconds, Neeta stared at the door. She tried to calm herself, especially since she’d just realized that her hands were shaking.
Why was she so rattled? Was it because she was afraid of Mark Fisher?
Or because James’s anger had been so scorching?
“You never answered him,” Mark said from behind her, startling her out of her dark thoughts. “Do your parents know that you are working here with me?”
“Nee.”
“Why not?” he asked. “Is it because you’re afraid that they’ll want you to stay far, far away from the dangerous Mark Fisher, too?”
Before she could answer, the door opened again. This time it brought in Mr. Lehmann.
He looked from Mark to her and signed. “I came to check on how you two are doing after James Eicher’s visit. It doesn’t look like you’re doing too gut.”
“I’m fine, Mr. Lehmann,” she said. “But, um, well, it’s four o’clock.”
“Which means it’s time for you to get on him,” he said with a kind smile. “Grab your things and get on your way. We’ll see you tomorrow.”
She smiled weakly as she turned toward the back storage room, where her belongings were stowed. For the first time since she’s started working at the nursery, returning to work filled her with dread.
She didn’t trust Mark. Worse, she didn’t trust herself when she was around him.
Excerpt from His Guilt by Shelley Shepard Gray. Copyright © 2017 by Shelley Shepard Gray. Reproduced with permission from HarperCollins. All rights reserved.
   

Author Bio:

Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail.
 

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 I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel through Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. My review is an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy for this blog provided by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

One by One by Gina Dalfonzo

Today's evangelical churches are overwhelmingly family oriented. Where does that leave singles?

Dalfonzo has written a book to help churches understand singles and create a welcoming climate for them. She reveals what the church looks and feels like to singles, sharing her own thoughts and her interviews with others. I was appalled at some of her quotes from books and preachers. No wonder singles feel awkward in a church culture that thinks singleness is a negative condition and that not being married precludes one from spiritual maturity. She also writes about the impact of the non-dating movement, the unchristian teaching about leaving a legacy, and more.

She also looks at what singles must endure in this sex saturated society. I was again appalled to learn that eighty percent of single evangelical Christians say they have had sex. I wonder if that is a result of lack and attention and support from the church.

This book is not a theological nor biblical exploration of singleness. While Dalfonzo does quote the passage around I Corinthians 7:8, she does not make a big deal about Paul later saying that singles can much better be concerned about the Lord's affairs. When was the last time you heard a sermon encouraging people to remain single so they could have undivided devotion to the Lord? (See I Cor. 7: 32-35) When was the last time singles were sought out in your church because of their unique gifts and abilities? Does your church look at singles as problems or opportunities?

Dalfonzo has some good ideas for church leaders and how they can incorporate and support singles in their congregations. This would be a good book for church leaders and board members to read. It would also be good for those sitting in the pew as Dalfonzo has many ways church members can incorporate singles into their lives and support them.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Gina Dalfonzo is the editor of BreakPoint.org (website of The Colson Center), as well as an occasional writer for BreakPoint Radio. She is the editor of Dickensblog and a columnist at Christ & Pop Culture. Her writing has been published in several print magazines.

Baker Books, 240 pages.

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

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble

Coble takes readers back to a location of previous novels. This is the first I've read of the series and felt it is a good stand alone novel.

The novel did get off to a rough start for me, however. The opening scenes are of a graphic spousal abuse nature. It hit so close to home that I almost did not read further. So a warning that there is a graphic trigger situation at the beginning. I would have much preferred the opening scene been deleted and merely referred to later.

After the initial difficulty, I did enjoy the mystery and suspense. The plot is a little complex as there are two villains. It took me a while to figure that out, since they both involve a type of spousal abuse. I felt the characters were developed relatively well, considering many of them were in previous novels. The setting of the cold Upper Peninsula of Michigan was well done.

There are several issues in this novel that would make for good discussion in a reading group and discussion questions are included. Wanting acceptance is a major one, going from one character being willing to endure harsh treatment from a doting boyfriend to another character concerned about horrible facial scars.

I recommend this novel to those who like an intense mystery with a good setting and likeable characters.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Colleen Coble is a USA Today bestselling author and RITA finalist best known for her romantic suspense novels. You can find out more at www.colleencoble.com.

Thomas Nelson, 368 pages.

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

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Love in a Time of Hate by Hanna Schott

Would we allow our lives to be interrupted and used by God, regardless of the personal cost? Would we protect others from an evil government planning their elimination?

That is the story of the Trocmes. Schott has done a good job of taking readers through the childhoods of Magda and Andre, their meeting, their marriage, and their service to others in the midst of danger.

The greatest impact of the story is when the Trocmes are in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, a mountain village in the south-central region of France. Andre was a pacifist. It had been hard for him to find a pastoral position. In June 1940, German troops marched into Paris and an armistice signed. Le Chambon was more than one hundred miles south of Vichy and in the Free Zone. Refugees began pouring into the village. But then the order came. Beginning in October, all Jews were to be handed over to German officials. Andre and the villagers put their own lives in danger to protect Jews.

The story of Magda and Andre is inspiring. They are a good example of valuing the lives of others above their own as well as remaining true to the command of Christ to love our neighbor. Theirs is also a thought provoking story. What would we do, given the same kinds of circumstances?

I recommend this book to those who appreciate stories of sacrifice and heroism. You'll learn some about the Christian practice of the people of the area. Some were descendants of the Huguenots while others were followers of John Nelson Darby. You will be inspired and be challenged to think about the millions of refugees in the world today. Would we open our doors to strangers who asked for our protection as the Trocmes did?

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Hanna Schott is a German journalist, writer and editor who has studied literature, theology, musicology, and language.

Herald Press, 270 pages.

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

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Remarkable Faith by Shauna Letellier

Letellier has used her imagination in a godly way to draw readers into the stories of those who encountered Jesus. We get such a small glimpse of the people in the biblical story it is easy to pass them by. Here, Letellier has imagined their feelings and their desperation for a healing touch from Jesus. I like that she quotes the actual Bible passage before her imagined retelling of it. She adds an encouraging devotion on each story as well as a closing prayer.

I really like the insights Letellier has gleaned from these stories. For example, from the story of the woman with the issue of blood, we learn that she did not wait until she was well to go to Jesus. She went to Him broken, in need, and suffering. The devotional Letellier adds is a good encouragement for people who feel there is something keeping them from approaching Jesus or other Christians.

Letellier has done lots of research to create a realistic background for her stories. For example, in the story about the woman from Tyre, we learn about the murex sea snail and the purple die it emits. We also learn much about the worship of Melqart, the god of Tyre.

These are insightful stories of people desperate for a touch from Jesus. They showed remarkable faith and are good examples for us. We too can throw off our inhibitions and come with unabashed faith to Jesus.

I recommend this book to those who desire greater insight into the stories of Jesus and those He encountered. You'll get a good taste of bringing biblical stories to life through imagination.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Shauna Letellier has written for the Huffington Post, Dayspring's (in)courage blog, and MomSense Magazine (now Hello Dearest), a publication of MOPS International. She attended Focus on the Family's Focus Leadership Institute and is a graduate of Grace University in Omaha, Nebraska, with degrees in Human Development and Family Studies and Biblical Studies. You can find out more at http://shaunaletellier.com/.

FaithWords, 208 pages.

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

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Quantum by Dean De Servienti

This novel is full of science, adventure, and intrigue. I found it very entertaining as well as informative.

The adventure begins when a scientist working for an NGO uncovers an ancient artifact. The surrounding rock is millions of years old yet this object is a finely machined metallic cylinder. She enlists a co-scientist and they search out four scientists in other fields, hoping to run a variety of tests to understand what they have found.

Soon the mystery begins. The six scientists disappear and various countries assume the scientists are hiding a bomb or some other deadly device. Mossad and the CIA aim to find the scientists and recover the dangerous object, no matter the cost.

This novel has everything to captivate the reader. There is the mysterious object that may hold the secret to the origin of humans on earth. There are scientists that help readers understand lots of science. There are deadly assassins. There are clever maneuvers by the scientists to evade capture. There is even a little romance.

The characters are well done. The plot is great. I really liked how the intelligence agencies misconstrued what the scientists were trying to do. It gave me pause to think about how an agency like the CIA might assume something and go way off track.

There was a little too much filthy language for my liking and a few odd (nearly) sexual scenes. Other than that, this is an entertaining novel for those who enjoy the Indiana Jones variety. There is a twist at the end so I'll be waiting for the sequel.

This novel represents De Servienti's theory of the origin of life on earth. Readers must remember that this book is fiction.

You can watch the book trailer here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Dean De Servienti has written three highly acclaimed novels published in Italian. Quantum is the first to be translated into English. He began exploring West Africa as a Political Science university student. He has produced several independent travel-adventure documentaries. He followed some NGOs operating in Africa and South and Central America from 1991 to 1995.

Dean De Servienti, 301 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book through NetGalley. My comments are an independent and honest review.