Tuesday, September 29, 2020

The Red Ribbon by Pepper Basham

This novel is one in the True Colors series, novels based on actual historical crimes. This one takes place in the Blue Ridge Mountains and centers on the Hillsville Courthouse Massacre of 1912.

Some of the other novels in the series have a number of events, such as murders or kidnappings. This one has just one event, the courthouse massacre, and it does not happen until late in the novel. Most of the novel is about Ava, her back story and her romance. This fictional character does have interactions with significant people involved in the massacre, however, they are somewhat minor and not very character revealing. I do wish more of the novel would have been about the actual people involved in the massacre. The massacre could have been more central in the novel with more about the culprits hiding out for days. Also, Basham brings in a whole other fictional group of nefarious men who are involved in the courthouse event. I felt that really muddied the waters, so to speak. I would have rather the novel been about the historical people with fictional ones supporting the plot but not being the central aspect of it.

All that being said, it was an interesting novel and I learned some things about an event the author, a native of the area, had heard about since childhood.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor. She is a native of the Blue Ridge Mountains where her family have lived for generations. She is a speech pathologist and the mother of five. You can find out more at https://pepperdbasham.com/.

Barbour Books, 256 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.)

Monday, September 28, 2020

The Light of His Presence by Anne Graham Lotz

Like many of us, Lotz often found prayer to be difficult. She had problems with concentration and consistency, often being distracted. And she had trouble with content. How could she pray day after day without being repetitive?

Lotz discovered that setting her alarm for an earlier time and writing out her prayers were keys to a deeper, more intimate conversation with God. She has included forty of those prayers in this book. She has tried to include the four elements of worship, confession, thanksgiving, and intercession, in each of these prayers.

In case we run out of content for our own prayers, Lotz has included a couple of excellent Appendixes. One identifies our blessings, food for praising and thanking God. The other is on sins, helping us identify our own for prayerful confession.

I am happily impressed with Lotz's prayers. She beautifully weaves into them Scriptures and phrases from well known hymns. She expresses heartfelt desires praise God, to see friends and family saved, to see the nation healed, to be stripped of pride, to show God's love to others, and much, much more. Each prayer is a lesson in spiritual transformation.

I highly recommend this book. If you've struggled with prayer like I have, you will find example, inspiration, and encouragement to develop a more consistent and deeper prayer relationship with God.

Lotz writes, “My prayer for you...is that God will use my struggle with prayer to help you overcome yours. And that, as a result, you will be drawn nearer to the heart of God.”

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Anne Graham Lotz – called “the best preacher in the family” by her father, Billy Graham – is an international speaker and the bestselling and award-winning author of numerous books, including Jesus in Me and Just Give Me Jesus. She is president of AnGeL Ministries in Raleigh, North Carolina, and the former chairperson for the National Day of Prayer. You can find out more at https://www.annegrahamlotz.org/.

Multnomah, 224 pages. This book releases October 6.


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.)

Sunday, September 27, 2020

The End of the Day by Bill Clegg

This novel is certainly of a different kind and one not particularly to my liking. It is basically a collection of character vignettes, like character studies an author would create as background for writing a novel containing much information the author would ultimately never include in the actual novel. The vignettes bounce around from current time to years ago to some time in between back to the current time. Sometimes it seemed like there were flashbacks in the midst of flashbacks.

There are a number of new characters introduced by such vignettes. Well into one, I would find out this character has had dealings with someone who is a good friend of a previously introduced character. I painfully exercised patience to see how the lives of all of these people would intersect. I have to admit I found myself skimming over lengthy descriptions of places and events from the past that seemed to have no vital relationship to what was happening in the present.

And I found none of the characters engaging. All of them were deeply flawed and either died during the course of the narratives or were just as dysfunctional at the end of the book as they were at the beginning.

I did not appreciate the writing style. The novel is a prime example of lengthy passages of prose describing what people were doing or saying rather than actually having the people act or speak. There were no dialogue quotation marks, for example, but rather italicized sentences to indicate words spoken. Or were they words thought and not actually spoken? It was hard to tell and too confusing to take the time to figure it out.

And at the end, I found myself saying, so what? Relationship issues were not resolved. Dysfunction and troubled people were still that way. I didn't learn anything interesting about some industry or occupation or geographical location. The prose was not particularly memorable. The novel wasn't terrible but rather just blah. I do not anticipate reading anything else by this author.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

Bill Clegg is a literary agent in New York and the author of the bestselling memoirs Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man and Ninety Days. The author of the novels Did You Ever Have a Family and The End of the Day, he has written for the New York Times, Lapham’s Quarterly, New York magazine, The Guardian, and Harper’s Bazaar. Photograph by Van Scott-Clegg

Simon & Schuster, 320 pages.

I received a complimentary egally 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, September 26, 2020

Monotasking by Staffan Nöteberg

“Monotasking is about doing the most important task,” Nöteberg writes, “and focusing only on that single task.” (Loc 1981/2606) It is a much better way of efficiently working rather than the supposed multitasking. Studies have shown multitasking is a myth and what is actually happening is task switching. Such switching of tasks consumes productive time, induces errors, reduces emotional intelligence, raises cortisol in the brain and is energy intensive. Trying to do everything at the same time yields the same results as doing nothing.

Monotasking, Nöteberg says, is the answer. He provides the practices and tools to conserve brain energy and put it to better use. He writes about prioritizing, time boxing, the importance of taking breaks, eating right, getting enough sleep and much more. He suggests setting an alarm and focusing on the most important task for at least 25 minutes. Then you take a panorama break, looking over the five tasks you've listed, identify the most important and set your alarm.

I like how Nöteberg presents his material. Each chapter starts with a synopsis, then the teaching material, then a summary. His material is in small bits and could be read almost in an inspirational way, one a day.

He includes tons of practical suggestions on how to deal with issues interfering with the ability to monotask, such as interruptions to meetings, breaking down large projects, taking walks, mind mapping and more. My favorite aspect of this book is his repeated emphasis on the question, what is the best use of my time right now? I have to admit, his cute drawings came in a close second.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Staffan Nöteberg is an enterprise coach, author of productivity books and a professional soccer coach. You can find out more at https://staffannoteberg.com/.

Skyhorse Publishing, 192 pages. This book will release in March, 2021.

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.)

Friday, September 25, 2020

Two Reasons to Run by Colleen Coble Blog Tour and Giveaway

Two Reasons to Run

by Colleen Coble

on Tour September 21 - October 23, 2020

 

Synopsis:

Two Reasons to Run by Colleen Coble

Gripping romantic suspense from USA TODAY bestselling author Colleen Coble.

A lie changed her world.

Police Chief Jane Hardy is still reeling from the scandal that rocked her small-town department just as she took over for her retired father—the man who wrecked her life with one little lie. Now she’s finally been reunited with her presumed-dead fifteen-year-old son, Will, and his father, documentarian Reid Bechtol.

A crisis looms.

When a murder aboard the oil platform Zeus exposes an environmental terrorist’s plot to flood Mobile Bay with crude oil, Jane and Reid must put their feelings for each other behind them and work together to prevent the rig from being sabotaged.

A killer targets her son.

Then the terrorist puts her son Will’s life on the line. Protecting him could be the common ground they need . . . but then ghosts from the past threaten to ruin Jane and Reid for good. She’s got plenty of reasons to run. But what if she stays?

My Review:

This is the second book in a series. While it reads relatively well on its own, the first in the series should be read first to enjoy the full impact of this one. You can read my review of One Little Lie here.

There is a mystery involved in the plot in the form of an attack on an ocean drilling platform. Jane and Reid, their back story revealed in the first book in the series, work together to find out who wants to damage the deep water facility. Another aspect of the plot is an attempt to harm their son with the goal of getting them to stop their investigation.

Like the first novel in this series, the largest part of the plot deals with the relationship between Jane and Reid. They deal with past issues as romance is rekindled. Also a large part of the novel deals with both Jane and Reid as they continue to try to unravel the truth of their family's involvement in a cult.

There is much suspense in the latter part of the novel. I thought the plot to destroy the drilling platform was a little overkill for what the nefarious person wanted to accomplish. I also thought the continued pursuit of family history in the midst of a potentially devastating event was a little odd. I did appreciate the continued development of Jane's spirituality. We are definitely left hanging with respect to relationships so will be waiting for the next in the series.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


Book Details:

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Published by: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: September 8, 2020
Number of Pages: 352
ISBN: 0785228489 (ISBN13: 9780785228486)
Series: Pelican Harbor #2
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ChristianBook.com | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Was anyone watching?

Keith McDonald sat at the computer and glanced around the oil platform’s rec room, but the dozen or so workers were engrossed in watching the final game of a Ping-Pong match. He hesitated,
then hovered his cursor over the Send button. Clenching his teeth, he sent the emails. Maybe it was nothing, but if anyone could decipher the recording, it was Reid Dixon.

The back of his neck prickled, and Keith looked around again. The room felt stifling even with the AC cooling it from the May heat. He jumped up and headed for the door. He exited and darted into the shadows as two men strolled past. One was his suspect.

Keith stood on a grating suspended three thousand feet over the water and strained to hear past the noise of machinery. The scent of the sea enveloped him, and the stars glimmered on the water surrounding the oil platform that had been his home for two years now.

“Scheduled for late May—”

A clanging bell drowned out the rest of the man’s words.

“Devastation—”

The other fragment of conversation pumped up Keith’s heart rate. Were they talking about the sabotage he feared, or was he reading more into the words than were there? He couldn’t believe someone could be callous enough to sabotage the oil platform and destroy the coast on purpose. He’d seen firsthand the devastating effects from the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe. And what about the people living on the platform? Deepwater Horizon had killed eleven people and injured another seventeen.

He had to sound a warning and stop this, but he had no real evidence. If Reid Dixon blew him off, who would even listen? Maybe Homeland Security would pay attention, but who did he even call there? He could tell them about the pictures threatening Bonnie, but what did that prove? They might just say she had a stalker and he was chasing shadows.

He couldn’t say they were wrong.

He sidled along the railing, and the breeze lifted his hair. A boat bobbed in the waves far below, and in the moonlight, he spotted a diver aboard. Must be night diving the artificial reef created by the concrete supports below the platform. He’d done a bit of it himself over the years.

For an instant he wished he were gliding carefree through the waves without this crushing weight of conscience on his shoulders. When he was sixteen, life was so simple. School, girls, football, and good times. He’d gone to work at the platform when he was nineteen, after he’d decided college wasn’t for him.

It had been a safe place, a good place to work with fun companions and interesting work.

Until a few weeks ago when everything turned sinister and strange. He’d wanted to uncover more before he reported it, but every second he delayed could mean a stronger chance of an attack.

If an attack was coming. He still wasn’t sure, and he wanted a name or to identify the organization behind the threat. If there was a threat. Waffling back and forth had held him in place. Was this real, or was he reading something dangerous into something innocent?

Though he didn’t think he was overreacting.

He turned to head to his quarters. A bulky figure rushed him from the shadows and plowed into his chest, driving him back against the railing. The man grabbed Keith’s legs and tried to tip him over the edge.

***

Excerpt from Two Reasons to Run by Colleen Coble. Copyright 2020 by Colleen Coble. Reproduced with permission from Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble is a USA TODAY bestselling author and RITA finalist best known for her coastal romantic suspense novels, including The Inn at Ocean’s Edge, Twilight at Blueberry Barrens, and the Lavender Tides, Sunset Cove, Hope Beach, and Rock Harbor series.

Catch Up With Colleen Coble:
ColleenCoble.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!


Click here to view the Two Reasons To Run by Colleen Coble Participants.

 

Giveway!!

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Colleen Coble. There will be 3 winners, each winning ONE LITTLE LIE by Colleen Coble (Print). The giveaway begins on September 21, 2020 and runs through October 25, 2020. Open to U.S. addresses only. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

 

I received a complimentary egalley 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.

(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, September 24, 2020

The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus by Jaime Jo Wright

Wright is a master of the dual time novel. This one combines events of a wintering circus in 1928 with those of present day at the same location. Wright alternates time periods as she reveals the relationships between the historical events and current ones. The actions of a serial killer from nearly a hundred years ago still impact his descendants today.

Wright always seems to include a sense of the other worldly and it is quite prominent in this novel. Haunting in the title is right as there are mysterious noises and happenings, a definite creepy atmosphere. One of the minor characters is a spiritualist of sorts. The woman never uses her supposed abilities and there is a bit of a discussion of the possible demonic origin of the ability.

There is mystery and suspense and romance in both of the story lines. It takes quite a while, however, for those plot aspects to appear. I had a little difficulty finding the main characters engaging. Both the historical character, Pippa, and the contemporary one, Chandler, have issues of family acceptance and feelings of not being loved. I felt the character arcs on both were flat as I did not see them voluntarily grow through those issues. There were also examples of family expectations and shame in the stories, centering around who the characters understood themselves to be.

I have read all of Wright's novels and think this one is not her best. My interest did pick up after what I felt was a slow start.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Jaime Jo Wright is winner of the Christy, Daphne du Maurier, and INSPY Awards and is a Carol Award finalist. She is also the Publisher's Weekly and ECPA bestselling author of three novellas. She works as a human resources director in Wisconsin, where she lives with her husband and two children. Find out more at jaimewrightbooks.com.

Bethany House Publishers, 400 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.)

Think Christ, Live Christian by Ignatius Fernandez

I have mixed thoughts on this book. Fernandez has a passion to see Christians live out their Christianity and has written this book as an encouragement to do so. The first part of the book he encourages readers to know and love Christ. He encourages us to live as Christians by knowing and loving others in the second part of the book.

Much of the book is good encouragement for Christians with many stories, examples and quotes from others. Some of this book is rambling teaching, however. An example is Fernandez on prayer. He writes, “Unless the four parts of prayer – adoration, praise, thanksgiving and supplication – are combined in surrender, our prayer is not complete. Our connection with Jesus is not made.” (Loc 1292/4544) Yet he also quotes another, “'A single grateful thought raised to heaven is the most perfect prayer.'” (Loc 1421/4544)

Fernandez is indiscriminate in his sources, something that will dismay evangelical Christians. He quotes Eckhart Tolle, for example (Loc 1092/4544), Deepak Chopra (Loc 2094/4544) and the vice-president of the Buddhist Society (Loc 2307/4544).

Evangelical Christians may also be puzzled by his reference to Veronica, the towel offered to Jesus as He suffered on the cross. (Loc 226/4544). Fernandez may be writing from a Roman Catholic perspective as he says James and Jude were Jesus' cousins, not brothers. (Loc 995/4544) He also references the actions of several Saints.

Some of Fernandez' theology will not be appreciated by evangelical Christians. He writes, for example, of attempts to be holy. “Holiness is not an event. It is a process that happens in stages and grows little by little.” (Loc 211/4544) He also writes, “...Jesus finds everyone lovable. Everyone is his child, whom he takes into his huge embrace...” (Loc 512/4544)

This may be a book reflecting Christianity from a worldwide perspective rather than Western evangelical Christianity. While the second half of the book contains positive example of Christian living and encouragement to live a life reflecting Christ's love to others, I did find parts of the book somewhat less than what I would recommend.

You can watch the book trailer here.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

Ignatius Fernandez is the author of twelve books, spanning the topics of religion, spirituality, relationships, parenting, management, and corporate governance. He has spent four decades in various leadership roles including General Manager, Director and Chief Executive. He went into academics as a professor of management studies for MBA and Executive MBA students. He is a post graduate in chemistry and Business Management. He and his wife have four sons. You can find out more at http://www.ignatiusfernandez.com/.

Four Craftsmen Publishing, 260 pages.

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

Two Reasons to Run by Colleen Coble

This is the second book in a series. While it reads relatively well on its own, the first in the series should be read first to enjoy the full impact of this one. You can read my review of One Little Lie here.

There is a mystery involved in the plot in the form of an attack on an ocean drilling platform. Jane and Reid, their back story revealed in the first book in the series, work together to find out who wants to damage the deep water facility. Another aspect of the plot is an attempt to harm their son with the goal of getting them to stop their investigation.

Like the first novel in this series, the largest part of the plot deals with the relationship between Jane and Reid. They deal with past issues as romance is rekindled. Also a large part of the novel deals with both Jane and Reid as they continue to try to unravel the truth of their family's involvement in a cult.

There is much suspense in the latter part of the novel. I thought the plot to destroy the drilling platform was a little overkill for what the nefarious person wanted to accomplish. I also thought the continued pursuit of family history in the midst of a potentially devastating event was a little odd. I did appreciate the continued development of Jane's spirituality. We are definitely left hanging with respect to relationships so will be waiting for the next in the series.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Colleen Coble has won or been a finalist in awards from the Best Books of Indiana, the ACFW Carol Award, the RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers' Choice, and others. She has over four million books in print. She and her husband live in Indiana. You can find out more at http://colleencoble.com.

Thomas Nelson, 352 pages.

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

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