Sunday, August 1, 2021

Consider Your Counsel by Bob Kellemen

Kellemen wrote this book as a result of questions asked of him by his students. He identifies areas of biblical counseling that may be blind spots, needing assessment and correcting. This book is by no means a critique of biblical counseling but rather an encouragement to grow in the technique to be the best counselors possible.

I really like Kellemen asking counselors to not rush to use Scripture as an antidote before listening to one's whole story. He notes we are to be both parakaletic, coming alongside to help, and nouthetic, confronting sin out a concern for change. (595/1858) When a client mentions fear, for example, rather than jumping to the verse describing the faith cure for fear, listen to find out why the client has fear, such as a physically abusive spouse. God gave us emotions for a reason. They should not be ignored nor discounted out of hand.

I also like Kellemen's suggestion for a trialogue. Rather than just you and me in dialogue, we also include God's Spirit. We can both listen to the Spirit, the divine comforter and helper. The Spirit will come alongside, helping us to comfort others in their suffering rather than just focusing on correcting a sin or spiritual misconception or identifying an idol of the heart.

This is a good book for biblical counselors, encouraging them to take a look at their work and asses it and themselves. Kellemen adds great assessment questions at the end of each chapter as well as good examples of the problems and practical ideas to grow through them. There is a good deal of helpful information in this book for every biblical counselor to consider and implement in their counseling journey.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Bob Kellemen , ThM, PhD, is Academic Dean, Dean of Students, and professor of Biblical Counseling at Faith Bible Seminary in Lafayette, Indiana. He is also the Founder and CEO of RPM Ministries, through which he speaks, writes, and consults on biblical counseling and Christian living. He served as the founding Executive Director of the Biblical Counseling Coalition and is the author of twenty books. He and his wife have two adult children and three granddaughters.

New Growth Press, 112 pages.

I received a complimentary digital 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.)

Saturday, July 31, 2021

A Good Day for Chardonnay by Darynda Jones

About the Book:

Running a small-town police force in the mountains of New Mexico should be a smooth, carefree kind of job. Sadly, full-time Sheriff—and even fuller-time coffee guzzler—Sunshine Vicram, didn’t get that memo. 

All Sunshine really wants is one easy-going day. You know, the kind that starts with coffee and a donut (or three) and ends with take-out pizza and a glass of chardonnay (or seven). Turns out, that’s about as easy as switching to decaf. (What kind of people do that? And who hurt them?)

Before she can say iced mocha latte, Sunny’s got a bar fight gone bad, a teenage daughter hunting a serial killer and, oh yes, the still unresolved mystery of her own abduction years prior. All evidence points to a local distiller, a dangerous bad boy named Levi Ravinder, but Sun knows he’s not the villain of her story. Still, perhaps beneath it all, he possesses the keys to her disappearance. At the very least, beneath it all, he possesses a serious set of abs. She’s seen it. Once. Accidentally. 

Between policing a town her hunky chief deputy calls four cents short of a nickel, that pesky crush she has on Levi which seems to grow exponentially every day, and an irascible raccoon that just doesn’t know when to quit, Sunny’s life is about to rocket to a whole new level of crazy. 

Yep, definitely a good day for chardonnay.

My Review:

I really like Jones' writing. She has great dialogue with snappy comments and comebacks. She has great humor that made me laugh. There is a good balance of character thought and development and suspenseful situations. I like Sunshine as a character and was happy to see more about her abduction revealed in this book. The plot is a little complex but that is because there is so much going on in Sheriff Sunshine's life. Her daughter is a pistol and adds lots of fun to the novel. Family relationships plays a big part in this novel, both good, on Sunshine's part, and not so good, on the Ravinder family part. And what an interesting and surprising twist at the end.

The only aspect of this novel I did not like and felt marred an otherwise great novel was the very graphic sex scene near the end. And I mean graphic. While it had a part in Sunshine's character development, I'm of the old school where I find allusion much more interesting and appropriate than graphic description.

Other than the graphic sex scene, this is a very enjoyable and entertaining book. I hope there are more planned for the series as I'll be watching for them.

You can read an excerpt here.

You can read my review of the first book in this series, A Bad Day for Sunshine.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

 

About the Author:

New York Time and USA Today bestselling author Darynda Jones has won numerous awards for her work, including a RITA, a Golden Heart, and a Daphne du Maurier, and her books have been translated into 17 languages. She penned the international bestselling Charley Davidson series and is currently working on several projects, including the Sunshine Vicram Mystery series and the Betwixt and Between series of paranormal women's fiction. She lives in New Mexico with her husband and two sons. Photo by Donita Massey.

St. Martin's Press, 416 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.)

Silence in the Library by Katharine Schellman Blog Tour and Giveaway

Silence in the Library

by Katharine Schellman

July 12 - August 6, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

Regency widow Lily Adler didn't expect to find a corpse when visiting a family friend. Now it's up to her to discover the killer in the charming second installment in the Lily Adler mysteries.

Regency widow Lily Adler has finally settled into her new London life when her semi-estranged father arrives unexpectedly, intending to stay with her while he recovers from an illness. Hounded by his disapproval, Lily is drawn into spending time with Lady Wyatt, the new wife of an old family friend. Lily barely knows Lady Wyatt. But she and her husband, Sir Charles, seem as happy as any newly married couple until the morning Lily arrives to find the house in an uproar and Sir Charles dead.

All signs indicate that he tripped and struck his head late at night. But when Bow Street constable Simon Page is called to the scene, he suspects foul play. And it isn't long before Lily stumbles on evidence that Sir Charles was, indeed, murdered.

Mr. Page was there when Lily caught her first murderer, and he trusts her insight into the world of London's upper class. With the help of Captain Jack Hartley, they piece together the reasons that Sir Charles's family might have wanted him dead. But anyone who might have profited from the old man's death seems to have an alibi... until Lily receives a mysterious summons to speak with one of the Wyatts' maids, only to find the young woman dead when she arrives.

Mr. Page believes the surviving family members are hiding the key to the death of both Sir Charles and the maid. To uncover the truth, Lily must convince the father who doesn't trust or respect her to help catch his friend's killer before anyone else in the Wyatt household dies.

Praise for Silence in the Library:

“Schellman’s gracefully written whodunit is equally a tale of 19th-century female empowerment and societal conventions…More than a clever murder puzzle, this is an immersion in a bygone era.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“The fast-paced, engrossing story has a climactic confrontation worthy of Rex Stout or Agatha Christie.”
Library Journal, starred review

My Review:

I enjoyed this entertaining and informative historical mystery. It did get off to a slow start as the murder does not happen until well into the story. Then there is a good balance of reflecting the society of the day and the amateur sleuth investigation. Lily is an interesting heroine, an unusual woman for her day, determined to solve the mystery. I was a bit surprised that, while she was determined to be involved in the murder investigation, she felt ill when the murder blow was described. (1548/4516) But then, it was a time when women took to their bed when hearing disagreeable news. Schellman did a good job showing how women were thought weak and pretty much mindless during that time. The view was exemplified by Lily's father, my least favorite character in the novel. I was glad to see the reasonable Constable Page willing, although reluctantly, to let Lily help in the investigation. He was not afraid of a competent woman.

Schellman also gave us a good idea of how the upper class felt about policemen and how they should be above being questioned by such lowly people. I also appreciate Schellman creating a character we would now say was on the autistic spectrum. It was sad to see how the condition was misunderstood and how families would hide such a person, concerned more about the family's public image than the afflicted person.

The plot was crafted well. There were a number of suspects presented which kept me guessing. This is a good mystery for readers who like a deep dive into the society of the day along with their mystery.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Mystery
Published by: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: July 13th 2021
Number of Pages: 352
ISBN: 1643857045 (ISBN13: 9781643857046)
Series: Lily Adler Mystery #2 | The Lily Adler series are stand alone mysteries but even more fabulous if read in sequence
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Given the way she hadn’t hesitated to interfere in the Wyatt family’s affairs, Lily expected Lady Wyatt to politely rescind her invitation to ride the next morning. But she had insisted, saying her arm was sure to be better by morning. So after breakfast, Lily instructed Anna to lay out her riding habit.

Though she had forgone her usual routine of breakfasting in her own room and instructed Mrs. Carstairs to lay breakfast in the parlor, Lily hadn’t seen any sign of her father. She didn’t mind. If she couldn’t be cozy while she dined, she was at least happy to be alone. And it gave her the opportunity to go over the week’s menus with her housekeeper and offer several suggestions for managing her father’s requests while he was with them.

“And do you know how long might that be, Mrs. Adler?” Mrs. Carstairs asked carefully. “Mr. Branson was unable to say when I spoke to him last night.”

Lily pursed her lips. “For as long as he needs, Mrs. Carstairs. Or as long as I can bear his company. My record on that score is fifteen years, however, so let us hope it will not come to that.”

The housekeeper wisely didn’t say anything else.

Lily’s pleasant solitude lasted until she was making her way back upstairs to change, when she found her path blocked by her father’s belligerent frame. Unwell he might be, but George Pierce was still a solid, imposing man, and Lily had to remind herself to square her shoulders and meet his scowl with a smile as he did his best to tower over her from the step above.

“Good morning, Father.”

He didn’t return the greeting. “I am going to breakfast,” he announced, eyebrows raised.

Lily waited for a moment and then, when no more information was forthcoming, nodded. “I hope you enjoy it. Mrs. Carstairs is an excellent cook.”

He sniffed. “And I assume your excessively early rising is an attempt to avoid my company?”

“It is past nine o’clock, father,” Lily said. “Hardly excessive. And I have an appointment this morning, so if you will excuse me—”

“What is your appointment?”

He couldn’t curtail or dictate what she did with her time, Lily reminded herself. Even if having him in her home left her feeling as if her independence were being slowly stripped away once more, in practical terms he had no say in her life anymore. Answering his question was only polite. “An engagement with a friend—”

“That sailor again, I assume?”

Lily took a deep breath. “Captain Hartley was also invited, but no, the engagement is to ride with Lady Wyatt this morning. Which I assume you would approve of?” Seeing that she had momentarily surprised him into silence, she took the opportunity to push past her father. “You would like her, I think. She is charming and elegant.”

“And her husband’s a fool for marrying again,” Mr. Pierce grumbled, but Lily was already heading down the hall and didn’t answer.

Jack was coming just before ten to escort her to the Wyatts’ house, and Lily was in a hurry to dress and escape her father once again. Her room was empty when she walked in, but Anna had laid out her riding habit on the bed, pressed and ready, its military-style buttons glinting in the morning light amid folds of emerald-green fabric.

Lily stared at it without moving. She had forgotten that her habit wasn’t suitable to wear when she was in mourning.

She was still staring when Anna returned, the freshly brushed riding hat in her hands. When she saw Lily’s posture, Anna paused.

“You don’t have another, I’m afraid,” she said gently.

Lily nodded, unable to speak. One hand reached out to brush the heavy fabric of the habit; the other clenched a fold of the gray dress she wore. She had stopped wearing colors even before Freddy died—in those last months of his illness, she had traded all her pretty dresses for drab gowns more suited to nursing an invalid who would never recover. And even after full mourning was complete, she had lingered in the muted shades of half mourning long past when anyone would have required it of her, even Freddy’s own family. Laying aside the visual reminders of her grief felt too much like leaving behind her marriage.

But that had meant more than two years of sorrow. And in the last few months, since she had come to London and taken control of her life once more, something had shifted inside her.

“Yes, thank you, Anna,” Lily said quietly, her voice catching a little. She cleared her throat and said, more firmly, “I will wear this one.”

***

She managed to leave the house without encountering her father again. When her butler, Carstairs, sent word that Captain Hartley was waiting in the front hall, Lily felt a pang of anxiety. Jack had loved Freddy like a brother. And he had never given any indication that he thought her mourning had gone on long enough.

Jack was in the middle of removing his hat, and his hand stilled at the brim as he caught sight of her. Even Carstairs fell still as they watched her come down the stairs, the heavy folds of her green skirts buttoned up on one side to allow her to walk freely and a single dyed- green feather curling over the brim of her hat and flirting with her brown curls.

Lily felt exposed as she descended the final few steps, though she was bolstered by the approval that softened Carstairs’s smile. She had never considered herself a shy person, but she could barely meet Jack’s eyes as she crossed the hall to give him her hand.

For a moment neither of them spoke, and when she raised her gaze at last, Lily thought she saw the captain blinking something from the corner of his eye. “That was Freddy’s favorite color,” he said at last, his voice catching.

Lily nodded. “I know.”

Jack’s jaw tightened for a moment as he swallowed. But he smiled. “Well done, Lily,” he said quietly. “Good for you.”

***

There was a lightness between them as they made the quick journey to Wimpole Street. As Jack waved down a hack carriage and handed her in, Lily found herself laughing at all of his quips or droll pieces of gossip, even the ones she normally would have chastised him for repeating. And Jack kept glancing at her out of the corner of his eye.

“Do I look that dreadful?” Lily asked at last as he handed her down from the carriage in front of the Wyatts’ home.

“Quite the opposite,” he said, rubbing the back of his neck as he released her hand. “Did you know, you are actually quite pretty?”

“You mean you did not find me pretty before?”

“I think I had forgotten to consider it one way or another,” Jack admitted, grinning. “What a shame everyone has left London already; you would cause quite a sensation.”

Lily shook her head. “I know full well I am not handsome enough for that.”

“Surprise can cause as much of a sensation as admiration,” Jack pointed out.

“Captain!” Lily exclaimed in mock indignation. “You were supposed to argue with me!”

They continued bantering as they mounted the steps to Sir Charles’s townhouse, only to fall silent and exchange a puzzled glance as they realized that the door was half-open, the sounds of raised voices echoing from within.

Lily glanced at Jack, an uneasy sensation beginning to curl in the pit of her stomach. “Should we knock?”

He shrugged and did so, rapping firmly on the wood of the door. There was no response, but it swung open a little more. After hesitating a moment, Lily bit her lip and said, “Well, we ought to at least make sure Lady Wyatt knows we’ve come. If it is no longer convenient to ride, she can certainly tell us to leave.”

“And you were already happy to interfere yesterday,” Jack pointed out, though she could hear the unease lurking beneath his playful tone. “We might as well do it again.”

“Very true.” Lily pushed the door the rest of the way open and strode in, Jack following close behind.

The front hall was empty, but they could still hear voices not far away, now low and urgent, and the sound of quiet crying from somewhere just out of sight. The uneasy feeling began to spread through Lily’s chest and arms, and she reached out her hand in blind anxiety. She was relieved to feel Jack take it and press it reassuringly into the crook of his arm.

She had just decided that they should leave after all when quick steps echoed down the stairs. A moment later Frank Wyatt came rushing down, checking himself at the bottom as he stared at them in surprise.

His face was pale and his eyes red as he gaped at them, his easy manner vanished. “Lily? And Captain . . . I’ve quite forgot your name. You must excuse . . . what are you doing here?”

“The door was open, and no one answered our knock,” Lily said, feeling a little ashamed of their hastiness in entering. “I apologize, Frank; we did not mean to intrude, but we had an appointment to ride with Lady Wyatt this morning. Is everyone well?”

“Is everyone . . . No. No.” Frank gripped the banister with one hand, his knuckles white. “I am afraid that Lady Wyatt will not be able to ride today. My father . . .” He swallowed. “My father has died.”

Lily stared at him, unable to make sense of his words. They had seen Sir Charles just the day before. If he had seemed a little older and weaker than she remembered, he had still been utterly vital and alive. “Died? But . . . how?”

“In point of fact,” a new voice said quietly from behind them. “It seems Sir Charles Wyatt has been killed.”

***

Excerpt from Silence in the Library by Katharine Schellman. Copyright 2021 by Katharine Schellman. Reproduced with permission from Katharine Schellman. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

Katharine Schellman is a former actor, one-time political consultant, and currently the author of the Lily Adler Mysteries. A graduate of the College of William & Mary, Katharine currently lives and writes in the mountains of Virginia in the company of her family and the many houseplants she keeps accidentally murdering.

Find her online:
katharineschellman.com
Goodreads
BookBub - @KatharineSchellman
Instagram - @katharinewrites
Twitter - @katharinewrites
Facebook - @katharineschellman

 

Tour Participants:

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

Click here to view Silence in the Library by Katharine Schellman Tour Hosts.

 

Don't Miss Your Chance to Enter the Giveaway!!

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Heather Redmond. There will be 1 winner of one (1) BookShop.org Gift Card (U.S. ONLY). The giveaway runs July 12 through August 8, 2021. 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.)

Friday, July 30, 2021

A More Christlike Word by Bradley Jersak Blog Tour and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: A More Christlike Word

Author: Bradley Jersak

Genre: Biblical Studies

Release date: June 29, 2021

The Scriptures are an essential aspect of the Christian faith. But we have often equated them with the living Word Himself, even elevating them above the One to whom they point. In doing so, we have distorted their central message—and our view of God. Tragically, this has caused multitudes of people unnecessary doubt, confusion, and pain in their encounters with the Scriptures. Author and theologian Bradley Jersak has wrestled deeply with such passages over many years. He has experienced the same questions, doubt, and pain. In A More Christlike Word, he offers a clarifying and freeing path forward, whether you consider yourself a believer, a doubter, or a skeptic, inviting you to a better and more ancient way to read the Scriptures. He calls this path the “Emmaus Way” because it focuses on Jesus Christ as the final Word on God. It demonstrates how all Scripture, by design, points to Jesus, revealing the true nature of the Father. Your journey on the Emmaus Way will open up to you the fullness of the Scriptures, and, most important, lead you to the God who deeply loves and welcomes you.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

Having read Jersak's book, here is my assessment of his strategy.

Principle 1: God is Love – period. (293/5776) God is love only. (968/5776) All other attributes are subservient. “There is no divine anger, judgment, or wrath as over against God's love.” (968/5776)

Principle 2: Jesus is the full revelation of the Father. “...Jesus revealed the fullness of God in the incarnation and, thus, he – not the Bible – is the only divine Word and our final authority for theology, faith, and Christian practice.” (4321/5776) “Everything said in the Bible about God submits to his revelation of the Father.” ((304/5776)

Principle 3: When reading the Bible, passages that portray God in a different way than as love and as revealed by Jesus must be understood as really something else, such as an allegory or an expression of anthropomorphism or just the rant of a cranky prophet.

I see some problems with Jersak's strategy. Regarding principle 1, who defines what the love God is looks like? If it is a human, such as Jersak, then other descriptions of God and records of His acts are being submitted to a human view. As Jersak writes, if God's essential nature is love (Jersak's definition of love), then the necessity of eternal torment, the wrath of God, etc., fall. (927/5776 )

Regarding principle 2, yes, Jesus fully embodied God. Does that mean there is nothing we can learn about God outside of Jesus' life? Is Jesus' revelation about God the same as all we can know about God or is Jesus' revelation a subset of all that can be known about God? And, how can we know what is said about Jesus in the gospels is accurate? If what Old Testament historians and prophets wrote can be designated as allegories or anthropomorphisms by Jersak, then how do we know what the gospel writers said aren't really made up stories and dialogue to promote their agenda? How do I know that when Jesus said He and the Father were one He was not speaking allegorically?

Regarding principle 3, what prevents me from arguing the reverse? Suppose I argue that God as portrayed in the Old Testament is a superior revelation to the gospel accounts and that the gospels must be read in that light? If I am encouraged to reconsider reading the Bible (specifically the Old Testament), shouldn't I also reconsider the gospels and what they say about Jesus? Jersak references rabbi Philo of Alexandria teaching that brutal descriptions of God, anywhere God is not described as good and merciful, must be anthropomorphic. (1840/5776) But who defines what is good and what is merciful? Me? Jersak? Also, in Luke 24, Jesus explained what was said in all the Scriptures about Himself. (2268/5776) He did not say He was all the Scriptures talked about. (I could say I explained what is said in all the books concerning weather. That does not mean all books written are about weather.) And there is no consistency in Jersak saying the resurrection is fact because it reflects eye witness testimony (2541/5776) yet discounting Old Testament historical accounts not to his liking as “fictitious history” even though recorded by eye witnesses like Isaiah. (2650/5776) That Jersak would absolutely trust the gospel writers to accurately portray Jesus yet question the accuracy of the rest of the Scripture writers is mind boggling.

Jersak has some ideas that are worth considering. One is our devotion to the Bible to the extent that it displaces Jesus and becomes our authority rather than Jesus. Jersak is critical of penal substitutionary atonement. While I did not find his argument compelling, it is worth reading. He also has an insightful exploration of translators and translations and what it means to read the Bible in its literary form.

Jersak admits that we all read the Bible with our own predispositions. (2382/5776) He just wants to convince you his predispositions are the best. I suggest reading the Bible will always be a fallible task as we are humans with limited intellect trying to understand communication from God with infinite intellect.

This is a good book for readers who desire the Bible portray God as a God with whom we can feel comfortable: kind, loving, good, gentle, etc. Readers who are willing to live with the Bible portraying God in all His wild, holy, consuming fire, non human understanding majesty, may find this book less than satisfying.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

You can read my review of his earlier book, A More Christlike God.

About the Author

Bradley Jersak is the Dean of Theology & Culture, a modular graduate studies program at St. Stephen’s University in New Brunswick, Canada. He is also the editor-in-chief of Clarion-Journal.com. Bradley and his wife, Eden, have lived in the Abbotsford area of British Columbia since 1988, where they served as pastors and church planters for twenty years. Bradley is the author of a number of nonfiction and fiction books, including A More Christlike God, A More Christlike Way, Her Gates Will Never Be Shut, Can You Hear Me?: Tuning in to the God Who Speaks, and The Pastor: A Crisis. He has an M.A. in biblical studies from Briercrest Bible College and Seminary, an M.Div. in biblical studies from Trinity Western University/ACTS Seminary, and a Ph.D. in theology from Bangor University, Wales. He was also a Visiting Scholar at the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom, for post-doctoral research in patristic christology.

More from Bradley

The book acknowledges and addresses people’s real struggle to harmonize hard passages of Scripture with their view of a loving God.

Have you ever felt that seemingly “toxic” texts in the Bible suffocate rather than strengthen faith? If so, then this book will help you find a way to hear the life-giving Word speaking through Scripture—even the tough parts. Bradley Jersak faces difficult passages head-on with honest, provocative, wise, and stimulating insights. Here is an accessible and informed guide to Christ-centered biblical interpretation.
—Rev. Dr. Robin Parry
Author, The Evangelical Universalist and The Biblical Cosmos

If you find the Bible heavy lifting rather than finding yourself carried by Jesus, the incarnate Word himself, and his indescribably good gospel of love, A More Christlike Word is for you. It will invite you to move from simply reading verses through an unexamined lens to always listening for the revelation of Christ, by Christ, who reveals what is true concerning the relentless, renewing love of God our Father, and, thus, what is true about us as his beloved ones.
—Dr. Cherith Nordling
Sessional Lecturer, Regent College, Vancouver
Author, Knowing God by Name

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, July 30

Debbie's Dusty Deliberations, July 31

Mary Hake, July 31

Texas Book-aholic, August 1

Inklings and notions, August 2

For Him and My Family, August 3

deb's Book Review, August 4

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 5

Artistic Nobody, August 6 (Spotlight)

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, August 6

Because I said so -- and other adventures in Parenting, August 7

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, August 8

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, August 9

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 10

Cats in the Cradle Blog, August 11

Writing from the Heart Land, August 12

Giveaway

To celebrate his tour, Bradley is giving away the grand prize package of a $20 Starbucks card and a copy of the book!!

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/110e2/a-more-christlike-word-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, July 28, 2021

Missing in the Desert by Dana Mentink Blog Tour and Giveaway

About the Book

Book:  Missing in the Desert

Author: Dana Mentink

Genre: Inspy suspense

Release date: July 27, 2021

Five years ago, her sister disappeared…
Now someone is coming for her.

Who would believe that Mara Castillo’s sister—missing and presumed dead—suddenly sent a one-word text? Now Mara wants answers, even if it means stepping into a killer’s sights with her brother’s best friend, rancher Levi Duke, as her only protection. But with someone who has everything to lose after her, uncovering a long-buried secret could save her life…or claim it.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

This romantic suspense starts off with a bang, literally, as shots ring out. The suspense is frequent as someone appears to want Mara dead. The suspense is well balanced with character back story and thoughts. The characters are developed well. Mara is a strong woman while Levi seems to be less forceful. I was disappointed at the change in his attitude about the desert ranch. I'd rather have a hero willing to fight for his dreams.

I appreciate the desert setting and Mentink convincing me people actually like living in such parched land. The resolution to the plot, the missing woman, seemed a bit beyond belief to me. It took lots of explaining to make it fit.

All in all, a good romantic suspense in an interesting setting with a maybe believable resolution to the mystery of the plot.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

 

About the Author

Dana Mentink is a two time American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award winner, a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award and a Holt Medallion winner. She is a nationa and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author of over forty titles in the suspense and lighthearted romance genres. She is pleased to write for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense, Harlequin Heartwarming and Poisoned Pen Press. You can connect with Dana via her website at danamentink.com, on Facebook, YouTube (Author Dana Mentink) and Instagram (dana_mentink.)

More from Dana

Hello, readers! Boy am I excited! Since the virus-that-not-shall-be-named is being brought under control, I am cautiously venturing out again and our first vacation spot will be a return to Death Valley. Papa Bear and I love the amazing diversity of Death Valley, from the salt flats, to the sand dunes, mountains, and everything in between. Writing this book allowed me to relive the incredible topography, as well as let my mind run loose imagining a cold case that warms up to fiery levels in this ferocious climate. Part of this story revolves around “Camp Town Days” which was inspired by the Encampment Days, an event held in November by a volunteer group called the Death Valley 49ers that aims to capture the pioneer spirit with their wagon rides, parade, poetry readings, a vendor show, and historical talks. I hope you can feel the desert wind in your face and hear the distant howl of the coyote as you dive into the second book in the Death Valley Justice series.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, July 28

Simply Susan, July 28

Debbie's Dusty Deliberations, July 28

Remembrancy, July 29

Inklings and notions, July 29

Locks, Hooks and Books, July 30

For the Love of Literature, July 30

deb's Book Review, July 31

Through the Fire Blogs, July 31

She Lives To Read, August 1

Batya's Bits, August 1

For Him and My Family, August 1

Pause for Tales, August 2

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, August 2

Because I said so -- and other adventures in Parenting, August 3

Genesis 5020, August 3

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, August 4

Bigreadersite, August 4

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, August 5

Blossoms and Blessings, August 5

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, August 5

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 6

Reviewingbooksplusmore, August 6

Older & Smarter?, August 7

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, August 7

Labor Not in Vain , August 7

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, August 8 (Author Interview)

Texas Book-aholic, August 8

Life, Love, Writing, August 8

Simple Harvest Reads, August 9 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Betti Mace, August 9

Daysong Reflections, August 10

Splashes of Joy , August 10

Blogging With Carol, August 10

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Dana is giving away the grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card and a signed copy of the book!!

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/110df/missing-in-the-desert-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.)

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Good Work by Dave Hataj

Many of us grew up in an era when the only valid “calling” a Christian could have was to full time ministry or the mission field. Hataj argues that some are called to be business owners, factory workers, baristas, etc. We must recognize the influence employers and employees can have for the kingdom of God. Every one of us can make the world a better place through our work, allowing God to work through us.

Hataj shares his own experiences as a business owner and as one who has read much and thought deeply on business and the Kingdom of God. He gives his insights on profit and greed and philanthropy, as well as pricing, how to treat customers, integrity, stress and more. He tells of his successes and failures and the lessons he learned from his mistakes.

Hataj says it is God's plan to influence all of society. That means God's people are needed in shops, businesses, libraries, offices, etc. God may very well be calling us to be a blue collar worker or a business owner.

This is a good book for those desiring to bring faith and kingdom principles into the world of business. You will gain insights from the bumps in Hataj's journey as a business owner, as well as the rewards he has experienced.

You can watch a video of Hataj talking about business and blue collar workers here and here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Dave Hataj is the president and co-owner of Edgerton Gear, Inc., his second-generation family business, where he has worked for over 30 years. He completed his master's thesis of Systems Theory and Family Business from Regent College and his doctorate in Transformation Leadership from Bakke Graduate University. His innovative approach to business has birthed two small businesses, two charitable trusts, and a high school program to mentor youth in the trades.

Moody Press, 256 pages.

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

(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, July 26, 2021

Song of Grace by The Mosaic Collection Blog Tour and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: Song of Grace

Author: The Mosaic Collection

Genre: Christian Contemporary

Release date: July 7, 2021

How amazing is grace? Eight short stories trace the path of grace through the lines of a well-known hymn that was birthed in tragedy.

These characters each desperately seek a variety of prizes: relationships, hope, fame and fortune, security, eternal youth. All of them struggle through trials and troubles to stumble upon the same amazing answer.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

This is a fun collection of short stories and quite a variety too. The first one is not a complete story and is a cliff hanger, as author Monson acknowledges. It is actually a prequel to another novel so there is no resolution. Some stories contain a life altering encounter, showing character change because it. One, Reconstituted, got off to a confusing start for me as to who was visiting in Mexico and why. I was amazed by the references to the Guanajuanto mummies in that short story, however, and had to look them up. (Gruesome.) One is a story told entirely with receipts, news reports and other visual items. It's a way of telling a story without telling the story, Alexander says. We can let our imagination fill in the missing parts. Another story shows how life can come out of tragedy. Another reveals lessons we can learn from a 91 year old, even when there is a sudden twist to her reality. The last story about a bookstore was touching, especially to this retired bookstore owner. Where was Milton when I needed him?

A collection of stories by various authors often delivers a difference in quality. That is the case here. Nonetheless, the variety of authors and writing styles made for an interesting read.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

 

About the Authors

Johnnie Alexander

Johnnie Alexander creates characters you want to meet and imagines stories you won’t forget. Her award-winning debut novel, Where Treasure Hides (Tyndale), is a CBA bestseller. She writes contemporaries, historicals, and cozy mysteries, serves on the executive board of Serious Writer, Inc., co-hosts an online show called Writers Chat, and interviews inspirational authors for Novelists Unwind. She also teaches at writers conferences and for Serious Writer Academy. Johnnie lives in Oklahoma with Griff, her happy-go-lucky collie, and Rugby, her raccoon-treeing papillon.

 

Eleanor Bertin

In a fit of optimism at age eleven, ELEANOR BERTIN began her first novel by numbering a stack of 100 pages. Two of them got filled with words. Lifelines, her first completed novel, was published in 2016, followed by Pall of Silence in 2017, a memoir about her late son Paul.

Eleanor grew up on a Manitoba farm, spent 20 years in cities and towns, and in the past 16 years has come full circle to embrace country life again. She lives with her husband and youngest son, Timothy, amidst the ongoing renovation of a century home in central Alberta where she reads, writes, sweeps up construction rubble and blogs about a sometimes elusive contentment at jewelofcontentment.wordpress.com.

 

Sara Davison

Sara Davison is the author of three romantic suspense series, The Seven Trilogy, The Night Guardians, and The Rose Tattoo Trilogy. She has been a finalist for ten national writing awards, including Best New Canadian Christian author, a Carol, a Selah, and two Daphne du Maurier Awards for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. She is a Word and Cascade Award winner. She currently resides in Ontario, Canada with her husband Michael and their three children, all of whom she (literally) looks up to. Get to know Sara better at www.saradavison.org and @sarajdavison.

 

Deb Elkink

Deb Elkink lives in a cottage beside a babbling creek in rural Alberta, Canada, home base for exotic travels with her husband. She published her first bits of writing after graduating university, then married and spent twenty years as a homeschooling mom and ranch wife—rounding up cattle, earning her private pilot’s license, and cooking for huge branding crews. An MA in Theology led to publication of a literary study on the fiction of G.K. Chesterton (Roots and Branches), prepared her as an academic editor, and jettisoned her into her long-held dream of writing literary fiction with a theological twist. Her publications so far include multiple short stories as well as two award-winning novels (The Third Grace and The Red Journal). 

 

Chautona Havig

Author of the bestselling Aggie and Past Forward series, Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her at chautona.com and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.

 

Angela D. Meyer

ANGELA D. MEYER writes fiction that showcases God’s ability to redeem and restore the brokenness in our lives. She is the author of This Side of Yesterday, The Jukebox Cafe (a part of Hope is Born: A Mosaic Christmas Anthology) and the Applewood Hill series. Angela is a member of American Christian Fiction Authors and has served on the leadership team of her local writers’ group, Wordsowers. Angela currently lives in NE with her husband. They have two children, both of whom they homeschooled and graduated. Lucy, a green eyed, orange tabby who loves popcorn rounds out their family. Angela enjoys sunrises and sunsets, the ocean when she gets a chance to visit, and hopes to ride in a hot air balloon someday.

 

Stacy Monson

Stacy Monson is the award-winning author of The Chain of Lakes series, including Shattered Image, Dance of Grace, and The Color of Truth, as well as Open Circle. Her stories reveal an extraordinary God at work in ordinary life. Residing in the Twin Cities, she is the wife of a newly-retired juggling, unicycling physical education teacher, a proud mom, and doting grandma.

 

Candace West

Candace West was born in the Mississippi delta but grew up in small-town Arkansas. She is a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Monticello. Ever since the age of twelve, she dreamed of writing inspirational fiction. Over the years, she has published short stories as well as poems in various magazines. By weaving entertaining, page-turning stories, she hopes to share the Gospel and encourage her readers.

 

More from The Mosaic Authors

 

It’s Never Too Late for a Heart Transformation… and Great Books

He stood at the pulpit, chains hanging from his wrists, one fist raised to the heavens, a pottery jug in the other hand.  With his teeth, he uncorked the jug (still don’t know how he did that) and took a swig of the “alcohol” within, allowing it to slosh over his mouth and onto the floor. Watching as he shouted his defiance to Almighty God, my thirteen-year-old self scooted back a little further in the pew, certain. Skit or no skit… Pastor Phillips was about to get struck by lightning.

In his characteristic style, he burst out laughing, wiped his brow, and stowed the jug under the pulpit.  A grin plastered to his face, he wiped that brow again.  “Almost felt the sizzle of lightning or something.”

See, I thought to myself. I’m not so crazy after all.

And from there, our beloved pastor went on to tell the story of John Newton’s conversion and how he eventually, after more years in the slave trade, renounced it for the vile nastiness that it is and worked to end it before he died. But one more beautiful thing came out of all of that ugliness—perhaps the most beloved hymn of all time. “Amazing Grace.”

The Mosaic Collection authors have joined for a summer anthology celebrating the joy and beauty found in God’s “Amazing Grace.” Each story in this collection was inspired by a stanza of that grand old hymn.

As one of the authors in the collection, I found myself humming and singing “my verse,” during the weeks before and during writing my offering.  My verse is,

“When we’ve been there ten thousand years,

Bright shining as the sun,

We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise

Than when we’d first begun.”

All four lines of my stanza play into my story, albeit some ambiguously.  From that ten thousand (dollars, not years) to the (desert) sun, to praising God for His goodness all our days, Spines & Leaves tells the story of God changing the goals and desires of three individuals, just like He changed those of John Newton.

As for how Sara used the stanza in her story, Sara says, “My portion of the hymn is the final two lines of the first stanza: I once was lost, but now I’m found. Was blind but now I see. In my story, I’d Like to Thank the Academy, Lizzy Cross travels to the City of Angels to seek fame and fortune. When she gets lost in L.A. and meets a blind man playing ‘Amazing Grace’ on his guitar, she realizes the song could be about them. Or is it possible that the words mean something else entirely?”

Angela says, “My stanza speaks of the joy and peace we gain in heaven, although we have them in full measure in this life. Jillian’s Refuge is about a young woman discovering these amazing gifts as she journeys through grief and finds healing in an unexpected place.”

Deb says, “In my story, aging expat Dolores, retiring alone in colonial Mexico and agitated over losing her youth, meets up for an afternoon cultural tour with her visiting granddaughter and new baby. Their mother-child vitality forces Dolores to face the fear that drove her from her family and the grace that calls her back to Christian faith.”

Join Stacy Monson, Sara Davison, Deb Elkink, Eleanor Bertin, Johnnie Alexander, Angela Meyer, Candace West Posey, and Chautona Havig as they introduce you to characters and stories that will fill your hearts with God’s grace.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, July 26

Rebecca Tews, July 26

Inklings and notions, July 27

For Him and My Family, July 28

Lighthouse Academy Blog, July 29 (Guest Review from Marilyn Ridgway)

deb's Book Review, July 29

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, July 30 (Author Interview)

Debbie's Dusty Deliberations, July 30

CarpeDiem, July 31

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, July 31

Because I said so -- and other adventures in Parenting, August 1

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 2

Mary Hake, August 2

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, August 3

Happily Managing a Household of Boys , August 4

Batya's Bits, August 4

Splashes of Joy, August 5

Through the Fire Blogs, August 5

Texas Book-aholic, August 6

Library Lady's Kid Lit, August 6

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 7

Pause for Tales, August 7

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, August 8

Giveaway

To celebrate their tour, the Mosaic Collection Authors are giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card, a paperback copy of the book, and a $10 coupon to Mosaic’s brand new Etsy shop!!

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/11032/song-of-grace-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.)