Friday, February 26, 2021

Death by Gravity by Sharon Linnea

This is the second book in The Bartender's Guide to Murder series and one I enjoyed. (Read my review of the first book in the series, Death inTranquility.) I like the setting of the Olympic snow training center (Lake Placid) and the plot revolving around gold medals and frustrated potential Olympian athletes. We readers are thrust onto zip lines and luge runs in the midst of deadly suspense.

I like Avalon, a reluctant sleuth and accomplished bartender. It was interesting to have some of her walls come down in this novel as we find out a bit more about her family history. Linnea provides a good balance of character development and murder investigation, periodically interrupted with a potentially ghostly appearance.

A decades old unsolved kidnapping is also part of the plot. Avalon works to solve that mystery alongside what appears to be two current murders. While doing that, Avalon also helps those she is getting to know better, maybe actually becoming a friend to others.

I don't drink alcohol but the cocktail recipes included look delicious. While Linnea is an accomplished bartender, the recipes are from someone else and you can see videos of them being made at https://bartendersguidetomurder.com/.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Sharon Linnéa is a TIPS certified bartender and wrote the bestselling Eden Series (Chasing Eden, Beyond Eden, Treasure of Eden and Plagues of Eden) with B.K. Sherer, as well as the standalone These Violent Delights, a movie murder series. She enjoyed working with Axel Avian on Colt Shore: Domino 29, a middle-grade spy thriller. She is also the author of Princess Ka’iulani: Hope of a Nation, Heart of a People about the last crown princess of Hawaii which won the prestigious Carter Woodson Award, and Raoul Wallenberg: the Man Who Stopped Death. She was a staff writer for five national magazines, a book editor at three publishers, and a celebrity ghost. She lives outside New York City with her family. In Orange County, she teaches The Book Inside You workshops with Thomas Mattingly. You can find out more at www.SharonLinnea.com.

Arundel Publishing, 239 pages.

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

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

Thursday, February 25, 2021

The ABCs of Global Warming by Charles Siegel

There is a great deal of misinformation about climate change being circulated today. This book offers readers an understandable exploration of the science behind climate change, the dangers of not dealing with it, and suggestions for approaches to developing a stable climate.

Siegel's book is very understandable. He has many charts and graphs to visualize his information. And the book is well documented with nearly the last quarter of the book listing the footnotes.

I was impressed with some of the facts he gives, such as arctic ice now covers only half as much area after the summer melt as it did in 1979. (154/1256) The last four decades have seen successive new records for the hottest decade in history. (175/1256)

I like his insights into the current effects of global warming. There is evidence the warming arctic is making the jet stream less stable. A meandering jet stream allows cold air to move much farther south than usual. We have seen this just recently with the freezing temperatures in Texas.

His section on possible solutions is informative. Those unsure of what cap and trade or emissions taxes are and how they would work will find answers here. And, as a bonus, Siegel addresses deniers and reveals their lack of knowledge and understanding of the facts.

I recommend this book as a readable, short, yet very informative book for those who want to understand global warming, the science, the future dangers, and possible solutions.

You can read portions of the book here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Charles Siegel is the author of a number of books on various topics, from urban planning to politics to computer programs to Christian biblical texts.

Omo Press, 106 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, February 24, 2021

Murder in the Churchyard by Catherine Coles

I grew up reading Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers. This novel is a fond reminder of Lord Peter Wimsey. Evelyn and Tommy are fun characters as newly designated lord and lady. Evelyn had been a police woman during WW I and it is hard for her to not investigate the latest murder. She loves the puzzle of a murder even if she does not like the unpleasant human aspect of it.

This is a village murder so we get to enjoy the subtle method of Tommy and Evelyn questioning the villagers, listening to gossip as they probe for the truth. The suspects are people they know so the investigation must be done well, without alienating friends.

I like how Coles explores the personalities of the village characters as secrets are revealed. We learn a bit about the effects of shell shock for those in WW I. We also experience the pleasant husband and wife relationship of Tommy and Evelyn. I like their dialogue and the quips Coles has crafted.

This is a fun novella in the British cozy mystery genre. It makes for a fine read of an evening. While it is part of a series, it does read well on its own.

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, 130 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.)

Journey of the Soul by Drs Bill and Kristi Gaultiere

I think Christians want to thrive in their spiritual lives. But there are obstacles and pitfalls that make growing spiritually at times difficult. Sometimes experiences are hard to understand and we wonder where God is in our lives. Sometimes we are just at a loss as to the next step in spiritual and emotional growth.

The Gaultieres have developed a model of the stages of faith, drawing from their years of providing therapy and spiritual direction, along with extensive research and field testing. They give the characteristics of and insights into each stage, relating personal experiences and information from other authors. They suggests steps to grow, soul care practices, and spiritual disciplines to help move to the next stage. They provide questions so readers can identify what stage they are in.

I appreciate this book. It helped me identify my spiritual stage and explained many of my past spiritual experiences and current spiritual longing. I appreciate that spiritual growth is not linear but moves like a spiral, going through the various phases at a deeper level each time.

The insight I appreciated the most was distinguishing desolation (spiritual experience of feeling God's absence) and depression (a psychological problem). While they can affect each other, I appreciate that they are not the same. Those who have experienced the Dark Night will also appreciate the distinction. Another appreciated insight was about the last stage and the information on being a mystic. The Gaultieres draw much from classic devotional authors, like Madame Guyon, Teresa of Jesus (Avila) and Frank Laubach who wrote about the deep experience of union with Christ.

This is a good book for Christians who want to understand their own spiritual life while gaining insights on the spiritual lives of others. There are resources available, such as small group leader's guide and free videos at https://www.soulshepherding.org/.

Read an excerpt here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Drs. Bill and Kristi Gaultiere have been counseling and ministering to people for thirty years. Bill is a psychologist who has served in private practice, co-led a New Life psychiatric day hospital, and pastored churches. Kristi is a marriage and family therapist who has also served in private practice and church ministry. Together they are the founders of Soul Shepherding, a nonprofit ministry to help believers discover their next steps for growing in intimacy with Jesus, emotional health, and loving relationships. Bill and Kristi live in California. Photo credit: Briana Gaultiere

Revell, 240 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.)

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

The Lady in Residence by Allison Pittman Blog Tour and Giveaway


About the Book

Book:  The Lady in Residence

Author: Allison Pittman

Genre: Christian Historical

Release date: February 2021

  

Can a Legacy of Sadness be Broken at the Menger Hotel?

Visit historic American landmarks through the Doors to the Past series. History and today collide in stories full of mystery, intrigue, faith, and romance.

Young widow Hedda Krause checks into the Menger Hotel in 1915 with a trunk full of dresses, a case full of jewels, and enough cash to pay for a two-month stay, which she hopes will be long enough to meet, charm, and attach herself to a new, rich husband. Her plans are derailed when a ghostly apparition lures her into a long, dark hallway, and Hedda returns to her room to find her precious jewelry has been stolen. She falls immediately under a cloud of suspicion with her haunting tale, but true ghost enthusiasts bring her expensive pieces of jewelry in an attempt to lure the ghost to appear again.

In 2017, Dini Blackstone is a fifth-generation magician, who performs at private parties, but she also gives ghost walk tours, narrating the more tragic historical events of San Antonio with familial affection. Above all, her favorite is the tale of Hedda Krause who, in Dini’s estimation, succeeded in perpetrating the world’s longest con, dying old and wealthy from her ghost story. But then Dini meets Quinn Carmichael, great-great-grandson of the detective who originally investigated Hedda’s case, who’s come to the Alamo City with a box full of clues that might lead to Hedda’s exoneration. Can Dini see another side of the story that is worthy of God’s grace?

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

I found this time slip novel to not be what I expected. The Christian aspect was rather obscure. The contemporary female lead, Dini, is a magician with basically no Christian influence in the novel. The contemporary male lead, Quinn, is a Christian but with little faith impact in the story line. I found it rather unbelievable that the two of them would experience an intense budding romance. I did not really find them nor the ones in the historical part of the story to be engaging characters.

I was pleased to find out a bit about Sally White, a chambermaid at the Menger Hotel, and her murder in 1876. I do wish there had been more about her, however. Residents of the Menger claim the hotel is haunted by White so Pittman aimed to write a novel with a haunting in it. She created Hedda, a character staying at the hotel a century ago and who has what appears to be haunting experiences. Currently, Dini and Quinn seek to explain the seemingly historical paranormal events as well as solve the theft of Hedda's jewels.

I was disappointed that there wasn't more historical information and description contained in the narrative itself. Pittman's historical note at the end helped clarify fact from fiction. I do hope future books in this series have more information about the actual event around which the fiction is developed.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

 

About the Author

 

Allison Pittman is the author of more than a dozen critically acclaimed novels and a four-time Christy finalist—twice for her Sister Wife series, once for All for a Story from her take on the Roaring Twenties and most recently for the critically acclaimed The Seamstress which takes a cameo character from the Dickens’ classic A Tale of Two Cities and flourishes her to life amidst the French Revolution. She lives in San Antonio, Texas, blissfully sharing an empty nest with her husband, Mike. Connect with her on Facebook (Allison Pittman Author), Twitter (@allisonkpittman) or her website, allisonkpittman.com.

More from Allison

From Haunting to Healing: How Stories Bring New Life to Old Ghosts

If you really think about it, every story is a ghost story. Not the floating spirits of the dearly departed kind, not bumps in the night or mysterious howling in the darkness—but the best stories come from examining a haunted heart. Memories that pursue the present.

A few years ago I took the walking tour of haunted San Antonio. It was a lark, a fun tourist-y thing to do with some visiting friends. I’m not a believer in ghosts, but I am a collector of stories. The tour opens at the Alamo—sacred ground of slain soldiers. The second stop is the Menger Hotel, listed as one of the most haunted hotels in the United States by those who measure and evaluate such things. And while the tour guide waxed on about the guests’ litany of haunted experiences (including Teddy Roosevelt raging through the lobby), my mind stuck with the story of Sallie White. Sallie White is the Menger Hotel’s most famous ghost—a chambermaid whose apparition is reported to be seen walking the halls, towels draped over her arm, or to be heard as an efficient two-rap knock on your door late at night. My mind, however, didn’t dwell on Sallie the ghost, but Sallie the woman—just a normal, hard-working, poor woman, murdered in the street by a man who claimed to love her. But for that, she would have passed into history unknown. Instead, her story is told every night as strangers gather on the very sidewalk where the crime took place.

Years after first hearing the story of Sallie white, I stayed in the Menger for a few days to gather details for The Lady in Residence. I booked what they call a “Petite” room—meaning it is a room that maintains its original structure. Read: tiny. Exposed pipes, creaky wooden floors, antique furniture—the only update, the bathroom fixtures. As it turned out, my room was directly above the place where Sallie White was murdered. One night I pressed my ear against the glass and listened to the ghost tour guide tell her story. The next morning, I stood in the exact spot with a fancy Starbucks drink, thinking about her. She lives on, not because people claim to see her walking and hear her knocking in the dead of night, but because she is a woman remembered.

So, is that beautiful? Is it ghoulish? Maybe it’s both, but when I was given the chance to write a story set in and around the Menger Hotel, I was determined to make Sallie White’s story a part of it. I didn’t want to write her story—that would have required embellishment beyond those few historic, factual tid-bits that such a woman left behind. Sallie White didn’t have correspondence to catalog or a journal to give us insight to her thoughts. Instead, I wanted to tell it to readers everywhere who might never make it to San Antonio to hear it for themselves. When you read The Lady in Residence, you are going to hear the true story of Sallie White, all of it taken from a newspaper account of the time. And then, I did what all historical writers do…I folded it into my own tale and folded that tale into another.

That’s really the joy of writing a split-time novel—being able to draw back and shoot a narrative-arrow straight through the hearts of two stories, threading them together, to bring a haunting to a place of healing.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, February 23

Artistic Nobody, February 23 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Fiction Aficionado, February 24

For the Love of Literature, February 24

Where Faith and Books Meet, February 24

Texas Book-aholic, February 25

Mia Reads Blog, February 25

Connie's History Classroom, February 26

Inspiration Clothesline, February 26

Locks, Hooks and Books, February 27

Books I've Read, February 27

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, February 28

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, February 28

Remembrancy, March 1

Bigreadersite, March 1

For Him and My Family, March 2

Hallie Reads, March 2

deb's Book Review, March 3

Blogging With Carol, March 3

By The Book, March 4

Debbie's Dusty Deliberations, March 4

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, March 5

The Write Escape, March 5

Life of Literature, March 6

Inklings and notions, March 6

Godly Book Reviews, March 7

Vicky Sluiter, March 7

To Everything There is A Season, March 8

Pause for Tales, March 8

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Allison is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of The Lady in Residence!!

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/1086e/the-lady-in-residence-celebration-tour-giveaway

I received a complimentary egalley 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.)


Monday, February 22, 2021

Brimstone 1 by Jason William Karpf

Mankind has been trying to find evidence of life elsewhere in the universe for decades. In Karpf's novel set a few years in the future, a Christian does exactly that. Starting some eighty years ago, Baxter Moore, founder of a Christian media empire, began sending Scripture recordings into the sky. Years go by and finally a reply. Some intelligence exists and is sending something to earth. Son and grandson of Moore make plans over the ensuing years, crafting a spaceship to capture whatever is coming.

This is a very interesting novel aimed at teen through college age readers. There is a good emphasis on science, such as a robotics contest. There are advanced drones and an exciting piloting of a jet caught in deadly turbulence. I appreciate that the Christians have no fear of science or of what might be found when sending the gospel out into space.

There is lots of action in the novel as a group of anti-Christians are trying to stop the work of the Moore media empire and specifically the success of the spaceship. The ruthless leader will stop at nothing, including mass murder.

This is a good novel for Christians who appreciate science fiction. Karpf's writing style is good, the characters are engaging, and the story maintains a good pace. We're left hanging a bit at the end of this novel so it will be interesting to see if more is revealed in a sequel.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Jason William Karpf grew up with storytelling. The son of a screenwriter, he was a child actor in the early 1970s, appearing on classic TV shows The Bold Ones, The Courtship of Eddie's Father, and Bonanza. Screenwriting became his calling from his teens to early thirties. In 1994, he wrote Anatomy of a Massacre, the true story of the era's worst mass shooting.

Today, Karpf is an author, speaker, college instructor, and marketing/fundraising professional. His blogging and nonfiction writing brings a Christian perspective to marketing and communication. His science fiction and thriller novels put Jesus first.

Karpf and his wife live in Minnesota and have three grown children. When he is not writing, speaking or teaching, he is making music, playing in the worship team of his church. A history and trivia aficionado, he was four-time champion on the TV game show Jeopardy.

Elk Lake Publishing, 225 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.)

From This Moment by Kim Vogel Sawyer

About the Book:

After losing his fiancée in a terrible accident, heartbroken Jase Edgar abandons Texas and all its troubling memories for the chance to start over as a youth minister in small town Kansas. But as someone who spent his entire childhood adrift in the foster-care system, he struggles with a sense of belonging and can’t seem to set aside his doubts long enough to fully embrace his new life. After all, how can a God who’s supposed to be good allow such awful things to happen?

Lori Fowler is battling her own challenges. Due to a strained relationship with her father and a hidden eating disorder, she’s never been sure she is worthy of love. She conceals her insecurities beneath her spunky personality, and even her best friend, Kenzie Stetler, a former Amish woman living apart from her family in the English world, doesn’t realize how desperate Lori is for change.

When a donation to Kenzie’s weaving project leads to a puzzling mystery, the lives of these three people will intersect in ways no one ever expected. The journey will require courage…if they ever hope to release the past and move forward into a joyful future.


My Review:


Sawyer offers readers a gentle exploration of characters, how to heal from past tragedy, how to overcome dysfunctional relationships, and how to dare to share the good news to works oriented parents.

This novel takes us into the lives of several people and the narrative jumps from person to person. Each one has an obstacle to overcome. Jase is in a time of spiritual dryness, wondering where God is after the devastating loss of his fiancée. Kenzie is still trying to understand God's grace having grown up in a very restrictive Amish sect. Lori turns to food, trying to fill the emptiness she feels. And Merlin hides his medical condition from his loving wife. They work together to help each other as we see the importance of friends in healing and spiritual growth. They must wrestle with issues of trust and honesty while allowing others to be a part of their lives.

Readers who like tender novels about everyday Christians learning how to navigate the life God has given them will like this novel. There are discussion questions included and I can see a reading group having a lively meeting centered on this story. And you'll have to have brownies. Fortunately, the recipe for the best brownies is included in the book.

My favorite line in the book, from husband to wife: “When God designed you, He must've been showing off.”


You can read an excerpt here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Author:

Kim Vogel Sawyer is a highly acclaimed, bestselling author with more than one million books in print in several different languages. Her titles have earned numerous accolades, including the ACFW Carol Award, the Inspirational Readers Choice Award, and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence.

Kim lives with her retired military husband, Don, in central Kansas, where she continues to write gentle stories of hope. She enjoys spending time with her three daughters and her grandchildren. You can find out more at https://kimvogelsawyer.com/


WaterBrook, 352 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by the publisher.

(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, February 21, 2021

Talking With God by Dick Eastman

When reading Jesus' appeal to Peter in Matt. 26:40, Eastman was challenged to set aside an hour each day to be with the Lord, in His Word and in prayer. He wrote The Hour That Changes the World in 1978 and this book is an adaptation and abridged version of that one.

The purpose of this book is to give a plan for prayer. Eastman explains twelve elements of prayer, their biblical focus, and how to incorporate them into daily prayer.

An insight about prayer I really appreciate is seeking Him in silence. In the waiting, we surrender our soul. This is not listening as that comes later. The essential nature of this aspect of prayer is developing the relationship with God. I so often jump into talking to God I forget to lay a good foundation for that communication. This step helps me do that.

A surprise for me was the singing element. It is based on the Psalms and 2 Chronicles 20. Singing may seem awkward. It was for me. Eastman suggests asking the Holy Spirit to make new melodies in our hearts. He gives other practical ideas for singing too.

I really appreciate this book and it is one I will keep by me for my morning devotion time. I like the illustrated wheel as that is a quick reminder of the elements of prayer. Eastman has done a great job of explaining the aspects of prayer and giving practical suggestions for each one. This is especially a great book for Christians who have not read Eastman's original book on prayer or have let the ideas contained in it fall by the wayside.

You can read an excerpt here.

You can find out more about Every Home for Christ ministry and download free prayer resources at https://everyhome.org/.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Dr. Dick Eastman is the president of Every Home for Christ, a ministry that has planted over 4.5 billion gospel messages home to home worldwide since 1946. He has traveled around the world more than 100 times. He also serves as president of America's National Prayer Committee, a diverse group of evangelical leaders instrumental in planning America's annual National Day of Prayer. He is the originator of the Change the World School of Prayer, a multipart seminar that has trained more than two million Christians in 120 nations on the power and intimacy of prayer. He is also the author of numerous bestselling books on prayer and evangelism, including The Hour That Changes the World. He and his wife live in Colorado Springs and have two grown daughters and nine grandchildren.

Chosen Books, 160 pages.

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

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