Monday, April 19, 2021

Paint the Desert by Dawn V Cahill

About the Book:

When violence visits an ordinary college campus one day in San Rafael, California, it threatens to shatter a community, and a family, in its aftermath.

Newlyweds Jon and Meg Paulson are honeymooning in Hawaii when they receive the news that Meg’s son Richard was seriously injured in a seemingly random school shooting. When they return home, they find him in a deep coma, with the doctors uncertain if he will ever recover. Meg struggles to find answers and to understand why God allowed this to happen.

With the investigation into the shooter’s motives ongoing, Meg seeks support from a local grief group, where she finds that helping another grief-stricken mother helps speed her own journey from despair to hope. But her distress is creating strain in her brand-new marriage. She also finds herself at odds with her daughter when Linzee’s gun control activism pits her against her own mother.

Meanwhile, Linzee fears the new man in her life will find out the one thing from her past she never wants him to know. Can she give her fear over to God and open her heart to love?

My Review:

Cahill writes about Christians in difficult contemporary situations and this novel is a very timely one. She explores the feelings of parents and sister when one in their family is severely injured in a school shooting. In addition to that heart breaking issue there are others covered in the book. One issue is a young gay woman changing her ways. Another is the hot topic of gun control, opposing opinions presented. We also see the ramifications of hiding sins from the past and how they generate events in the present. We also find out a bit about art therapy.

There is a great deal of thought provoking material packed into this novel. While an author generally tackles one difficult issue, Cahill went for several. Potential readers should know that there are several trigger issues in this novel. And, if you are like me, you'll not agree with some of the opinions expressed by the characters. And sometimes, it seems, Cahill expresses her own opinion, such as through the mother's blog. Nevertheless, the plot is well done and the characters are well developed. I recommend this novel if your are ready to think about some tough issues Christians are facing today.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

 

About the Author:

Dawn V Cahill writes stories of victorious faith for the 21st century, dealing with situations unthinkable for previous generations. She created Hot Topics Fiction, an intensive four day writers conference, help writers create stories of ordinary Christians following hard after Christ in an upside-down world. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Her novel Sapphire Secrets was a finalist in the 2015 First Impressions Contest. You can find out more about her and read her blog at https://dawnvcahill.com/.

Spring Mountain Publishing, 247 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 18, 2021

The 30 Day Praise Challenge by Becky Harling

We Christians know we are to praise God. Sometimes it is hard to know how to do that, much less establish a habit of daily praise. This book provides thirty days of already created praise statements. Each day also includes a lesson from Harling, a song or two for listening, a prayer reflecting that day's praise topic, and a thought provoking suggestion for journaling.

In addition to the days of devotions, Harling has added good resources to continue the habit of praising God. Many passages from the Psalms are listed in one section. Another gives suggestions from the book of Revelation. She also has information for praising God with specific intent, such as defeating the enemy or when you are grieving or feel depressed.

I like the material in this book. I appreciate the many attributes for which we can praise God. Some of the praise suggestions were a surprise to me, giving me a much broader idea of what it means to praise God consistently. This is a good book for anyone who would like to establish the daily habit of praise.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Becky Harling is a popular speaker and author of several books. Her degree in biblical literature, as well as her experience as a missionary, women's ministries director, and survivor of breast cancer and sexual abuse, bring depth to her message. Her husband is pastor of Foothills Community Church in Arvada, Colorado. She and her husband have four grown children and four grandchildren. You can find out more at www.beckyharling.com.

David C Cook, 208 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.)

Saturday, April 17, 2021

The Recipient by Audrey J Cole

Cole is a new author to me even though this book came out in 2017. I read it because it was a thriller set in Seattle. Living in the Pacific Northwest, I enjoy novels set in the area.

I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the writing and the good plot. The hero is a detective with the Seattle Police Department who investigates an increasing number of gruesome murders just like ones from years ago. But the murderer had been caught and convicted. How could there be a copy cat murderer, down to never made known details?

We get to experience the frustration of the police as the investigation stalls. We readers are privy to who the current murderer is. We are treated to a good deal of suspense at the end and a twist that wraps it all up.

I like the exploration of transplants and the possible ramifications on the recipients. I've read about heart transplants but this novel includes the relatively new procedure of brain cells being transplanted. It is thought provoking.

This is a good novel for readers who like a good thriller. And really, it doesn't always rain in Seattle.

My rating: 4/5 stars

Audrey J Cole is a registered nurse and a USA Today bestselling author of thrillers set in Seattle. A Sequim native, Cole lived in Australia for five years before returning to the U.S. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two children. You can find out more at https://www.audreyjcole.com/.

Rainier Publishing, 304 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.)

Friday, April 16, 2021

Promises of the Heart by Nan Rossiter

Be sure to have a box of tissues nearby as you finish this touching novel. It opens as Macey is experiencing yet another miscarriage. She and Ben wanted children so badly but it seemed it was not meant to be. And then her sister mentions adoption yet again. Macey is not ready to take such a chance on the possibility of more deep heartache. In the meantime, we readers get a glance at Harper, a nine year old girl being shuffled in the foster care system. She is so in need of a loving parent.

Rossiter has done a good job exploring the feelings of young Harper, deeply hurt and feeling so unwanted. Rossiter also portrays well the character of Macey, another with deep hurt and struggling with feelings of inadequacy and defeat. This novel is a good example of the transformation love can bring to pass.

My only complaint is that there are two token sex scenes in the novel. Granted, the sex is between husband and wife but were just a bit too graphic for me and I thought totally unnecessary.

Nonetheless, a fine novel of faith and love and being open to what God has planned for life.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Nan Rossiter is the award-winning and bestselling author of eight novels. Her seventh novel, Summer Dance, was the 2018 winner of the Nancy Pearl Book Award. Rossiter and her husband are the parents of two adult sons. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and a black Lab. When not writing she enjoys hiking and curling up with a good book. You can find out more at www.nanrossiter.com.

Harper Collins, 382 pages.

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

Thursday, 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.)