Thursday, April 15, 2021

Who Put the Vinegar in the Salt by Linda Wood Rondeau Blog Tour and Giveaway


About the Book

Book:  Who Put the Vinegar in the Salt

Author: Linda Wood Rondeau

Genre: Nonfiction/Christian living/Bible study

Release date: December 31, 2020

The world offers much beneficial self-help advice. Shouldn’t the Christian seek to be the best possible version of themselves? Aren’t we supposed to be good people?

Why not look to the world to solve life’s problems?

Because God has called us to be salt.

While there is much good to be found, like vinegar, the world’s best advice falls short of God’s recipe to live a victorious Christian life.

In a down-home, friendly manner, the author provides analogies, inspirational stories, anecdotes, a wealth of Scripture, and optional study guides for both individuals and groups, inviting the believer to discover God’s desires for his salt.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

Christians are called to be salt in this world. Rondeau has written this book for those who have wandered from being salt, patterning themselves after the world's wisdom. Many good lessons have been included from life experience. The one that struck me the most referenced FOMO, the fear of missing out. We get caught up in the things of this world. “We miss out on God's blessing because we fear we might miss out on something else.” (3073/4072) We settle for so much less than what God has for us.

The strength of this book is in the extensive section for further study and group discussion. Rondeau has suggested several Scripture verses to read and discuss after each chapter. Thought provoking questions are included.

This is a good book for readers who like teaching from life experiences.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Author

By the author of I Prayed for Patience, God Gave Me Children.

A veteran social worker, Linda Wood Rondeau’s varied church experience and professional career affords a unique perspective into the Christian life. When not writing or speaking, she enjoys the occasional round of golf, visiting museums, and taking walks with her best friend in life, her husband of over forty years. The couple resides in Hagerstown, Maryland where both are active in their local church. Readers may learn more about the author, read her blog, or sign up for her newsletter by visiting www.lindarondeau.com.

More from Linda

Empty Nets

Part of my job as a point-of-sales associate at a Jacksonville department store was to solicit store credit. Right or wrong, my employee evaluation was based upon how well I convinced customers that a credit account is just what they needed. Every store had its quota, and management kept close tabs on credit totals. Most days, I met my expectations and maintained a top-ten score.

But not that day.

Due to special sales promotions, the store was hopping with customers. Associates were sounding their successes all around me. Congratulations went over the com system to everyone, it seemed, but me. I felt worthless. I’d done all I knew how to do and my nets were empty. To make matters worse, a supervisor came to my register. “Let me show you how to get credit.”

I wanted to quit … to close out my drawer and go home.

Then a little girl came by the register. She looked at me and smiled. The joy I felt through interacting with her reminded me of the many blessings my job offered … a chance to minister, to lighten a load with a smile, and a promise to pray. God reminded me that my worth in his eyes had nothing to do with quantity, but rather availability. My spirits soared with the thought. Had I not been down, I would not have known the joy of being lifted up.

God reminded me about the apostle Peter’s bad fishing day. I imagine Peter was a fisherman among fishermen … noted for his big hauls. Not this day.  In Luke’s account of Peter’s call, Jesus saw the two boats. Perhaps other fishermen made fun of Peter’s empty nets.

Then Jesus came and a large crowd followed him. He asked the fishermen to put the boats out a little from shore where He preached to the throng. Then he asked them to go to deeper waters and cast their nets. I suppose Peter thought the request was absurd. “We’ve been fishing all day and have caught nothing.”

But, because it was Jesus who asked, Peter reluctantly set a course as directed. Imagine his surprise when he caught so many, the boat nearly sunk from the weight of his haul. Then Jesus said something even more amazing. “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” Peter realized his worth to God did not equal the number of fish in his net. God had a more important role for Peter. And he dropped his nets and followed Jesus.

The thought occurred to me, that if it had not been for empty nets, Peter would not have known how wonderfully God can fill them.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV).

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, April 15

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, April 16

Texas Book-aholic, April 17

Inklings and notions, April 18

For Him and My Family, April 19

deb’s Book Review, April 20

Locks, Hooks and Books, April 21

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, April 22

Simple Harvest Reads, April 23(Spotlight)

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, April 23

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, April 24

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, April 25

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, April 26

Godly Book Reviews, April 27

Artistic Nobody, April 28 (Spotlight)

Mary Hake, April 28

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Linda is giving away the grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card!!

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/10ace/who-put-the-vinegar-in-the-salt-celebration-tour-giveaway

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

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

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Coffin Cove by Jackie Elliott

I enjoyed this mystery set in a fishing town on the west side of Vancouver Island. I felt the beginning sections were a bit confusing, Elliott giving detailed backstory as each character was introduced in the narrative. I came to like the technique, however, as I realized we readers were being given each character's history so we could understand why the characters acted as they did. Coffin Cove is the kind of town where everybody knew everybody's history and readers are given the same privilege. Therefore, the character development is done well.

The plot is good. An unsolved murder from years ago is again a concern when a suspect returns to town. Then he is murdered. Andi, our heroine, is on the case. She is a disgraced journalist relegated to a small town newspaper and is bent on redeeming her reputation.

I appreciate learning a bit about the fishing industry and the impact of clear cut logging. I do wish Elliott had been a little clearer on the descriptions of her locations and the getting to and from them. Harry going from Coffin Cove to the Fraser River, for example, would have required hours, having to go through the Strait of Juan de Fuca and then north to Vancouver.

This is a good mystery for readers who like to understand the motives of those involved. It seems this is the debut novel from Elliott. I liked it and will be looking for more from her.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Jackie Elliott is from the UK but now lives on Vancouver Island with her commercial fisherman husband.

Joffe Books, 248 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, April 13, 2021

The Secret World of Weather by Tristan Gooley

This is a fascinating book. I check the weather forecasts frequently but the nearest weather service is over sixty miles away. I live in the rain shadow of mountains and at the east end of a strait bounded by mountains on the north and south. My weather is frequently very different than that forecasted for the general area.

This book helped me understand microclimates and the weather produced in small areas. I learned how weather condition differ because of land characteristics. I now know why it is often raining at my cousin's house but not mine when we are only a few miles apart. I have learned how to listen to the wind, noticing the changes in sound as it changes direction and intensity. I understand now why there is frost on the shed roof when my outside thermometer registers an above freezing temperature. I know what the red and green on apples mean. I know why fir trees are better to be under during a rainstorm than broad leaf trees.

My favorite section was on rain. I do live in the Pacific Northwest and we get our fair share of rain. I had no idea rain had different tastes and smells. I learned about the variety in the size of raindrops and the speed at which they fall. Now I listen to the rain, noting its various sounds.

This book contains a wealth of information for readers who want to know more about their weather and what causes it. Gooley has a fun writing style, frequently adding personal stories to illustrate his weather revelations. I never realized how much I missed and will now be looking closer, paying better attention to weather indicators on the ground and in the air.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Tristan Gooley is the New York Times best-selling author of How to Read Water, How to Read Nature, The Lost Art of Reading Nature's Signs, The Natural Navigator, and The Nature Instinct. He is a leading expert on natural navigation. He has led expeditions in five continents, sailed boats across oceans, and pilots small aircraft. He is a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Navigation and the Royal Geographical Society. He is currently vicechairman of Trailfinders and he runs the world's only school of natural navigation. You can find out more at naturalnavigator.com.

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, April 12, 2021

The Magdalene Veil by Gary McAvoy

McAvoy is a master at taking actual historical events, real historical people, legends and traditions, and using them all to create exciting and informative plots. This novel revolves around the legend of Veronica's veil, a veil said to be used to wipe the blood and sweat from Jesus' face as he carried his cross.

McAvoy takes that legend and combines it with Heinrich Himmler's obsession of obtaining valuable archaeological artifacts, including religious relics. A contemporary neo-Nazi group in Argentina is determined to carry out the original Nazi plan of developing a pure Aryan race, using the ancient relic. A Jesuit priest and a journalist are just as determined to deliver the relic to the Vatican.

I really enjoyed this action packed novel. McAvoy has crafted a realistic plot that is full of historical and contemporary details. A great deal of research lays the foundation for the narrative. McAvoy provides amazing descriptions of the settings and does very well with character development. His writing style is captivating. That writing style and the extensive research and attention to detail make this novel engaging as well as informative.

I highly recommend this novel to readers who enjoy a plot based on actual events and people, then projecting them to possible contemporary events. The neo-Nazi connection is very timely considering recent political turmoil. I really like McAvoy's Author's Note where he informs us what is history and what is fiction.

This is the third in a series but reads rather well on its own. You can read my reviews of the previous books in the series: The Magdalene Deception, The Magdalene Reliquary.  I'm sure there will be a sequel and I'll be looking for it.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Gary McAvoy is a veteran technology executive, entrepreneur, and author of And Every Word is True, a sequel to Truman Capote's book, In Cold Blood. The Magdalene Veil is the third novel in The Magdalene Chronicles series. McAvoy lives in the Pacific Northwest.

Literati Editions, 442 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, April 11, 2021

Night Fall by Nancy Mehl

This FBI suspense novel revolves around several psychological issues. The main characters, Alex and Logan, are with the behavioral unit of the FBI. They would generally provide a profile of the villain. In this novel, the identity of the villain is soon known so they work on understanding his actions and character with a view to preventing further murders. Another area of psychological exploration is cult involvement. Alex had been exposed to a weird cult as a teen. While she had escaped that situation, it all comes back on her when she realizes their villain is a member of that same cult. Alex also has PTSD from teen experiences she is still trying to manage.

Another deeply explored issue is the relationship between Christianity and cult belief. We find out how cults can begin and generate associated literature. Cult beliefs are frequently contrasted to beliefs of Christianity in this novel. There is a very clear Christian message included. It is not subtle as the gospel is explained several times.

Another interesting aspect of the plot is the possibility of killing many with an airborne virus. That is a timely subject as the world is still in the midst of fighting a pandemic.

While most of the novel deals with psychological issues, there is some suspense. I was a bit disappointed when the suspense was prefaced by a thought of Alex. “This might be the dumbest thing she'd ever done.” ((3332/3990) No surprise suspense followed. There are some good twists near the end and a revelation that was not surprising.

This is a good novel for readers who like an FBI plot centering on profiling and other psychological issues. I liked it and will be looking for the next in the series.

You can read an excerpt here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Nancy Mehl is the author of more than forty books and a Christy Award and Carol Award finalist as well as the winner of an ACFW Book of the Year award. She writes from her home in Missouri, where she lives with her husband and their puggle. You can find out more at www.nancymehl.com. Photo by Ginger Murray Photography

Bethany House, 336 pages.

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

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

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Cooking Up a Mystery by Gail Pallotta Blog Tour and Giveaway


About the Book

Book:  Cooking Up A Mystery

Author: Gail Pallotta

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Release date: April 24, 2020

Laney Eskridge worked to put her husband through dental school. Then he left with another woman. She’s on edge from the emotional scars and her parents’ deaths. Then she hears unexplained noises in her new tea house, and her anxiety is tripled. Add a budding romance with Eric—a guy with a fear of commitment—and it’s all too much to handle. She cuts ties with Eric and plunges into making her business pay off.

When Eric discovers that Laney’s in danger, he vows to protect her. But can he make a lasting promise? Will she trust him? . . .and when they overhear a threat that could cause national turmoil, will anyone believe them? There’s more brewing than herbal tea in Cooking up a Mystery.

Click here to get your copy!

 My Review

This is a mystery for readers who like a plot that is not complex and writing that is not overly sophisticated. The movement of the mystery is easy to follow and there are a limited number of characters to remember. Laney is a good damsel in distress. She has a ton of hurt and insecurity to overcome. It took me a while to like Eric but he overcame his character flaws to become a knight in shining white foot cast.

There is a good spiritual message contained in the plot, supplemented by a devotional at the end. And there is food, yummy food. I was so glad to see recipes were included. I enjoyed this cozy mystery, an easy read.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

 

About the Author

Award-winning author Gail Pallotta’s a wife, Mom, swimmer and bargain shopper who loves God, beach sunsets and getting together with friends and family. A 2013 Grace Awards finalist, she’s a Reader’s Favorite 2017 Book Award winner and a TopShelf 2020 Book Awards Finalist. She’s published six books, poems, short stories and several hundred articles. Some of her articles appear in anthologies while two are in museums.

More from Gail

In Cooking up a Mystery running a business with no background or formal training in accounting or management overwhelms Laney, the heroine. George, her assistant, tells her she has him and God, who knows her needs. Then he adds, “You … have your mom’s wonderful recipes and you whip them up like a pro.”

I chose the food industry for Laney, a woman entrepreneur succeeding against the odds, because I have lots of cooking experience. I learned the skill at age ten. The reason, according to my father—I’d know how when I got married. I didn’t marry until I was thirty. By then, I’d received lots of instruction, so I knew how to prepare some pretty good dinners. My husband said, “You could start a restaurant.” I wanted to do other things instead, such as write, but I started one in this book.

Mt first woman entrepreneur appears in Hair Calamities and Hot Cash, a romantic comedy about a hairstylist. It’s set in Eve’s Clips, a salon in Triville, a fictitious town in the North Carolina Mountains where Laney opens Laney’s Delectable Delights.

A section in the back of Cooking up a Mystery, Laney’s Chefs in the Making, features over two dozen recipes. Only Laney’s Pineapple Rice is mine. The rest are from a book, Heavenly Delights, authored by my friend, Pam Nichols Griffin, as a fundraiser for Mission Love Seeds, a charity that helps children throughout the world and responds locally after disasters to demonstrate God’s love.

Laney’s Pineapple Rice

Ingredients:

Rice (can be instant, but not boil-in-the-bag)

Cooking oil or spray

One small onion (chopped thin)

Five cloves garlic (or minced gloves equaling five cloves)

One tablespoon fresh grated ginger

One cup fresh pineapple

Small amount of pineapple juice

One teaspoon sugar

One lime

Cook rice according to directions on the box, but substitute a couple of tablespoons to 1/4 cup pineapple juice (depending on taste) for part of the water.

Chill rice

Coat a heavy bottom skillet with oil. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, pineapple and sugar and stir. Add cold rice, break up, squirt with the juice of one lime and stir until heated and blended.

Blog Stops

Debbie's Dusty Deliberations, April 9

Blogging With Carol, April 9

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, April 10

She Lives To Read, April 11

Texas Book-aholic, April 11

Inklings and notions, April 12

Genesis 5020, April 12

For Him and My Family, April 13

deb's Book Review, April 14

Worthy2Read, April 14

Reflections From My Bookshelves, April 15

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, April 15

Locks, Hooks and Books, April 16

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, April 17

Godly Book Reviews, April 17

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, April 18

Because I said so -- and other adventures in Parenting, April 19

CarpeDiem, April 19

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, April 20

April Hayman, Author, April 20

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, April 21

Simple Harvest Reads, April 21 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, April 22

Labor Not in Vain, April 22

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Gail is giving away  the grand prize of a $40 Amazon gift card!!

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/10a4e/cooking-up-a-mystery-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.)

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Blessed and Transformed by Dr. Jeannine Bennett Blog Tour and Giveaway

About the Book

Book:  Blessed and Transformed

Author: Dr. Jeannine Bennett

Genre: Christian Nonfiction (Women’s Bible Study)

Release date: October 2020

What do you do when God answers your prayers, renews your mind, and transforms you?

Life does not always turn out the way we hope. It is often filled with tragedy, heartbreak, and loss, but make no mistake, God doesn’t abandon us during those times. Instead, God uses every experience we encounter to transform us so we can live the life He intended when He created us.

As Christians, we understand that we live in a fallen world. A world where dwelling on past failures or falling prey to the same sins seems normal. But what happens when God opens our spiritual eyes and shows us a different way to live? Do you run to Him and embrace the change? Do you find your calling and live out your purpose?

In Blessed and Transformed, Jeannine Bennett shares how much sweeter life is when you recognize God’s blessings and fully embrace His transformation of your life. She shows you there is no limit to what you can endure or accomplish by keeping God front and center.

Click here to get your copy!

 My Review

Bennett wrote this book to demonstrate how God's blessings transform us to live the life He desires for us. (93/1278) She shares her experiences of blessings from God in the first part of the book. It is impossible, Bennett says, to experience God and not experience some level of transformation. She shares her experiences of transformation in the second part of the book.

Bennett's book is a good example of how we are changed by God's involvement in our lives. She also includes good teaching on various issues like pride and being a people pleaser. She includes relevant promises from God, supporting Scripture, and reflective questions at the end of each chapter.

This book is a good one for showing how God is involved in lives and how those experiences transform people. This is the second book Bennett has written showing God's work and you can read my review of the first one, Broken to Beautiful, here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Author

Jeannine Bennett is a wife to Hayden, mom to four children, and grandmother to seven grandchildren. Her children are named Sandra, Brittany, Camryn, and Zachary. Her grandchildren are Colin, Lilyana, Willow, Savannah, Winter, and Hope. She is the founder and CEO of Vision to Purpose, located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, an adjunct faculty member in the School of Business for Liberty University Online, and an executive coach for The Honor Foundation.

To those who know Jeannine, she is simply a woman who loves Jesus, is devoted to her family, and struggles with life’s challenges like the rest of us. She is not immune to bad hair days, shrinking clothes (weight gain), or sleepless nights. She loves learning and sharing the knowledge acquired to help others learn too. Her favorite ice cream is a toss-up between butter pecan and mint chocolate chip. And, although she has lived in Virginia for more than 30 years, she still calls a water fountain a bubbler. A term she grew up saying in her hometown of Racine, Wisconsin.

More from Jeannine

In my previous book, Broken to Beautiful, I shared my testimony. The first half of my story was filled with hopelessness, disappointment, heartache, and loss. The second half described accounts of undeniable blessings. I have chosen to continue my story in Blessed and  Transformed because I want to further the conversation about what happens when we receive all of those blessings.

Friends, we cannot have blessings without being transformed. Just as each trial, each struggle, each challenge changes us, each blessing is a gift that God uses to change us too.

I believe blessings are God’s way of showing that He loves us. I also think He uses those blessings to nudge us forward in pursuit of what He has called us to do.

I pray this book is a blessing to you!

In Christ,

Jeannine

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, April 8

Splashes of Joy, April 8

Library Lady's Kit Lit, April 9

Debbie's Dusty Deliberations, April 10

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, April 11

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, April 12

Because I said so -- and other adventures in Parenting, April 13

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, April 14

Lights in a Dark World, April 14

Texas Book-aholic, April 15

Inklings and notions, April 16

Locks, Hooks and Books, April 17

For Him and My Family, April 18

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, April 19

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, April 20

deb's Book Review, April 21

Mary Hake, April 21

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Jeannine is giving away the grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card!!

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/10a4d/blessed-and-transformed-celebration-tour-giveaway


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

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

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Fully Known by Mo Aiken

Aiken begins her book with a bold statement. “You were made to know intimacy with God.” (130/2664) Yet she noticed a lack of deep personal relationships with the Lord among professing believers. God has made the intimacy possible, making a way for us to know Him and be known by Him. We have everything we need: the finished work of Christ, the Holy Spirit, His Word. Why is intimacy so lacking in the Christian community?

Aiken explores the roots of why we do not pursue intimacy with God. Perhaps we are so focused on doing for God we have missed being with God. Perhaps we are not willing to count the great cost to that intimacy. Perhaps we are so focused on the world we don't take the time for such intimacy. Perhaps we are not willing to repent, to be quiet, to be small.

Aiken uses marriage as the framework to understand God's covenantal love for us and help us understand our response to Him. She frequently concentrates on the physical intimacy of marriage, such as likening a wife being too tired for her husband's advances to our being too taken by the cares of this world to respond to God's advances. (1692/2664)

There is a great deal of good admonishment and encouragement in this book. While there is no specific strategy to help us on the journey to intimacy with God, Aiken gives many suggestions. She admonishes us to true repentance, to live in an awareness of and submission to the Holy Spirit, and more.

I am not so taken with marriage as a useful example to our intimacy with God. Marriages in this sinful world are faulty. I cannot think of one marriage I know that I would say is a good example of a relationship with God. Just as many Christians have difficulty understanding God as Father because of their own fathers, I think many might have difficulty benefiting from a marriage example because of their own or of others. And then you have the single people.

If you desire deep intimacy with God, this book will give you encouraging suggestions. Just make sure you are willing to count the cost, to engage the Holy Spirit working in you, and to surrender what is required.

You can read an excerpt here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Mo Aiken is Mo Isom, the New York Times bestselling author of Wreck My Life and Sex, Jesus, and the Conversation the Church Forgot. She co-labors for the kingdom within BOLDLIFE INITIATIVE, a ministry that exists to challenge, encourage, and equip Christ followers to pursue holy and bold lives. The team maintains a thriving nationwide speaking ministry and facilitates a faith-centered blog that has garnered millions of views to date. They regularly share prophetic words on YouTube, as well as Instagram, and freely offer additional resources through https://www.moisom.com/. Mo and her husband live with their three children in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo credit: Lindsey Hansen Photography.

Baker Books, 192 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.)