Sunday, July 31, 2016

Salvation Lake by G. M. Ford

I've read several of the Leo Waterman series by Ford and have enjoyed them. I like the Seattle setting and the quirky characters he includes. As in the other novels, he uses his friends (when they're not in jail) to help him in his inquiries.

Leo gets involved in a double murder investigation when the ugly tweed coat belonging to his father is found with two dead men stuffed in the trunk of a car. Leo's interest is piqued as he hadn't seen that coat since his father died years ago.

This is a complex mystery as there are layers upon layers Leo has to uncover. Central in the investigation is a church with a very popular preacher at the helm. There are also a couple of tough guys involved and Leo suffers some bruising for his detecting efforts.

I found the church angle very interesting. At one point Leo finds boxes and boxes of the pastor's book that was advertised as a bestseller. A similar situation actually happened with a Seattle pastor.

I enjoyed the plot of this novel as Leo uncovered the layers of deceit. I felt the ending was a little unrealistic, wrapping up a loose end a little too conveniently.

To my regular blog readers, this novel contains sex scenes, violence, and vulgar language.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

G. M. Ford has written eight other novels in this Leo Waterman series, as well as the Frank Corso series and some stand alone fiction. He lives in Seattle, Washington.

Thomas & Mercer, 224 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

A Different Kind of Happiness by Dr. Larry Crabb

I have good news and bad news about this book.

First the good news. This book contains much good information and teaching. Crabb draws from his seventy plus years of experience and ministry to encourage a new way of living. He argues that the best kind of happiness comes from our doing what Jesus wants of us, giving ourselves to others. He calls on us to recognize how we don't love like Jesus does. He writes that this love is deeply relational, is sacrificial, and is not just doing good deeds. It develops, he writes, “when we struggle to love others with a costly love that is possible only if we have a life-giving relationship with Jesus that is grounded entirely in His love for us.” (20)

There were a couple of sections in this book that I found particularly interesting. One was Crabb's exploration of happiness and joy and the difference between the two. The other section was on prayer. Crabb writes about asking in faith and receiving, based on Matt. 21:22. He shares his own disillusionment with that concept and clarifies what he believes Jesus was really saying. He adds that Jesus Himself practiced conditional prayer, “If it be Your will.” Crabb realized, “Jesus taught one kind of prayer and practiced another.” (60) His continuation on the topic was very enlightening, including identifying the prayer God always answers.

Now the bad news. I found Crabb's writing style hard to follow. Many of his sentences are very long, with a couple of dashes and with lots of commas. I often had to read a sentence several times to try to understand what he was communicating. And why did he ask all those questions? (A random count on pp. 176-177 yielded fifteen question marks.)

I almost felt like I was reading along as Crabb himself tried to understand what he was saying, clarifying his own thinking. He makes these revealing statements: “I did not begin writing this book with a well-worked-out set of ideas that I wanted to teach you about what it means to live your life on the narrow road. I rather began with questions I felt were important enough to explore, and as I do so I'm feeling a few familiar truths coming freshly alive in my mind. The fog is lifting from two truths . . .” (90-91) And, “This book is a story unfolding. I did not begin writing with a well-developed message that I was confident I could articulate. I expect to complete the last chapter with more loose ends hanging in my mind than in yours.” (185)

It seems this is a personal account of Crabb trying to understand his own spiritual condition. He asks, for example, “Am I a spiritual man, a Spirit-filled disciple of Jesus? Ask me that question and most often I will feel immediate discouragement.” (193) He goes on to question whether he has been receiving evil lies about what a Spirit-filled disciple is like as spiritual truth. That was disconcerting to me. I would hope that Crabb, in his seventies, would no longer be questioning such things.

If reading a book where the author is thinking through his message as he is writing appeals to you, then you may like this book. If you would rather read an organized and well thought out message that has been edited for clarity and comprehension, you may need to look elsewhere. There is a great deal of good material in this book about relational sin and what God desires of us. I just wish it had been presented in a more cohesive manner.

Food for thought: “God is right now devoting His unlimited resources of power and wisdom and love to forming those who receive the gospel into disciples who relate like Jesus. He has not promised to smooth out life's bumps with new or restored blessings.” (153)

You can download an excerpt here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Larry Crabb is a well known psychologist, conference and seminar speaker, Bible teacher, popular author, and founder/director of New Way Ministries. He is currently scholar in residence at Colorado Christian University in Denver and visiting professor of spiritual formation for Richmont Graduate University in Atlanta. He and his wife live in the Denver, Colorado area. You can find out more at

Baker Books, 256 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Blue Moon by Wendy Corsi Staub

This is the first book I've read by Staub and it won't be the last. Be prepared to give a few days for reading as the book is long but very engaging. It would make a good beach or vacation novel. Just don't read it right before you go to bed.

The plot is a little complex. There had been three murders one hundred years ago in Mundy's Landing. The victims had remained unidentified and the killer never captured. This novel centers around a couple buying one of the houses where one of the murdered young women was found. What they don't know is that someone is going to replicate the murders.

This novel is a good combination of character revelation and suspense. It is written from a number of viewpoints. Annabelle is the wife and mother who now lives with her family in the murder house. Their son, Oliver, suffers from an anxiety disorder. Even though he's twelve, he is terrified of many things. Holmes is the name the would be killer has given himself. We follow him too, obsessed with the murders of 1916. He's got three young women chained in an old ice house, just waiting for the exact day. Another character's viewpoint is that of the elderly woman who is caretaker of the museum containing the murder history. We also read entries from the original murderer's journal. Sully, from the first novel in this series, is vacationing in Mundy's Landing and we experience some from her viewpoint too.

Along with multiple viewpoints, the narrative frequently changes from current events to those of the past. That might sound a bit confusing but actually it came off quite well. The different viewpoints are clearly identified and are written in the present tense. The historical parts are written in past tense and were easy to identify.

I recommend this novel to those who enjoy getting caught up in a rather complex plot with lots of character development and a good amount of suspense. I really got caught up in Annabelle's life as she came to grips with living in a “murder house” with a very busy husband and a son demanding much emotional attention. I really liked the way the secondary characters were presented too. All in all, an enjoyable read.

I'm taking part in a blog tour of this book. Click here to view the Blue Moon by Wendy Corsi Staub Tour Participants.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Wendy Corsi Staub is an award-winning, USA Today and New York Times bestselling author of over seventy novels. She has twice been nominated for the Mary Higgins Clark Award. She lives in the New York City suburbs with her husband and their two children. You can find out more at or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Genre: Thrillers, Suspense
Published by: William Morrow, mass market
Publication Date: July 26th 2016
Number of Pages: 448
ISBN: 0062349759 (ISBN 13: 9780062349750)
Purchase Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, GoodReads.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel through Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

A Woman's Place by Katelyn Beaty

It's a dilemma that many Christian women face. They are taught the traditional Christian family model of women staying home, yet they sense a call to a professional job outside the home. What's a woman to do with her God given gifts, talents, and abilities if God had no intention of her using them for His glory?

Beaty addresses that very issue with a great deal of wisdom and insight. She explores a theology of work, that we were created to work in order to live into God's purposes for us. “...[W]e work in order to properly bear the image of God.” But the issue arises with gender differences and what those differences might mean. Beaty wrote this book to deal with those kinds of issues.

I was surprised and impressed with her review of the history of men and women and work. Unlike our current Western culture, women traditionally worked hard, right alongside the men in the fields. Then there was the hard work of food preservation and storage. Beaty writes, “...attaching manhood to work and womanhood to the home is a perfect example of well-meaning Christians confusing deeply bound cultural norms for biblical duty.” Her review of the history of how women have been treated and where ideas about such treatment originate is very enlightening.

I appreciated her exploration of God's image in humans. Women are often taught that they are somehow lesser beings than men. Beaty encourages women to see themselves as a reflection of God's image as a human being. Period.

Beaty includes great examples of women in places where they are fulfilling their calling. These are places of authority, influence, and compassion. She also emphasizes why women are needed in such places. “And what women bring to the table is not simply a feminine touch but half of humanity's gifts, passions, and experiences.”

Some other aspects of women and work that are addressed include family responsibilities and the role of fathers, and women remaining single.

I am impressed with this book and highly recommend it. Women who sense a calling from God to influence their communities through work need to read this book. Men who want to understand such desires in women and help them fulfill their callings need to read this book. It would also be a good book for church board members to read and discuss.

You will not find attempts to explain those puzzling passages in the Bible that seem to forbid women from active involvement in ministry. What you will find is a theology of work that restores women to their rightful place of being God's image bearers in the world.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Katelyn Beaty is managing editor at Christianity Today. She is the youngest managing editor in the magazine's history, as well as the first woman to serve in that capacity. She is the cofounder of Her.meneutics, a daily website covering news, cultural trends, and theology from a perspective of Christian women. A graduate of Calvin College, she lives outside of Chicago, IL.

Howard Books, 272 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Uneasy Alliance: In The President's Service Episode 10 by Ace Collins

As this episode ten opens, Reese is in a U-boat on its way to Mexico, playing the role of a Brit who sold out his country for money. The U-boat commander reveals a devastating fact about Hitler and December 7, 1941.

Meeker has just met Sgt. Wavel of the British Women's Auxiliary Air Force. She's brought an assignment for Meeker. They are to pick up Reese and capture the sub commander, the most effective killer in the Nazi navy.

We also follow Bauer as he continues his nefarious plans. We get into some mob action too that derails Meeker for a while.

There is not as much action in this episode as there has been in some others. There is much more thinking and conversation by the characters. I was a little surprised that this far into the series we have a couple of new characters and stories. I would have thought that by this episode and around a thousand pages of story that the author would be winding up loose ends, not adding more.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Ace Collins is the author of more than sixty books. He has also appeared on a number of television shows. He is based in Arkadelphia, Arkansas.

Elk Lake Publishing, 137 pages.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this episode through The Book Club Network for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

Evilution by Ace Collins

As this episode nine opens, Bobbs and her cohorts are on a stakeout in St. Louis. She is playing the role of a cabbie and Barnes is in the trunk, playing the part of a spare tire. Meeker is in the dangerous situation of being in a warehouse with Carfono. Carfono was certainly shocked, thinking Meeker was dead, having died in a plane crash. Bobbs wonders, what would a spy caught by M16 have that was so important? Why would Hitler want to abduct four polio victims, even if they were friends of the president?

Suddenly, a loud blast, shaking ground, and smoke pouring from the warehouse. It turns out Meeker is safe, if a little worse for wear. Carfono is dead. Meeker insists Carfono was not behind the abductions. She suggests they go through what they know so far once again. They are missing something and if they don't spot it, that will mean death for the abducted.

Meanwhile, ex-FBI agent Reese and the Dutchman Holsclaw are behind the German lines, dressed as SS officers, still trying to find Armstrong. If they could only find out what others had missed. They are ready to head back to England but face many obstacles on the way.

And then there is the nefarious person who has infiltrated Hoover's office and the wealthy American businessman being blackmailed by the Nazis.

Attention to period phrases in the dialog, descriptions of cars, songs and other features of the era make this series fun to read. There continues to be a good bit of action both in America and in Europe as the novel alternates location. We also get a good sense in this episode of the price some had to pay.

We're left hanging, knowing there is more unfinished business for Meeker. And there is still that mole to find and reveal.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Ace Collins is the author of more than sixty books. He has also appeared on a number of television shows. He is based in Arkadelphia, Arkansas.

Elk Lake Publishing, 129 pages.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this episode through The Book Club Network for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Shadows of the Stone Benders by K. Patrick Donoghue

I liked this novel, a combination of archaeology and science fiction. I had read other books suggesting an advanced civilization flourished before Noah's world wide flood so this one was appealing.

Anlon is our hero, a wealthy and accomplished scientist. He received word his eccentric uncle has died and goes to take care of the estate. Before long he is involved in his uncle's archaeological research involving mysterious stones from a civilization long ago. But others are after them too. The death toll mounts as Anlon tries to solve one mystery after another.

I've enjoyed the novels by Preston and Child and this one fits into that genre. There are stones that contain visions and others that can forcefully move people. There is suspense as several nefarious people are trying to find all of the artifacts before Anlon does.

The character development is good. Anlon has a sidekick, a young woman he has helped to regain her self esteem. She's a scrappy young woman and it was fun to see her grow and mature as the novel developed.

I think this novel is a good debut effort. The plot is a little complex but I enjoyed its over all movement. We are left with hints of a sequel and I will be watching for it.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Kevin Patrick Donoghue is the author of The Anlon Cully Chronicles, including this, his debut novel. He lives in the Virginia suburbs of Washington D.C. with his wife and two sons. You can find out more at

Leaping Leopard Enterprises, LLC, 316 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

Monday, July 25, 2016

When There Are No Easy Answers by John S. Feinberg

Free Kindle download today.
Feinberg is an academic and had intellectually studied the problem of evil. Then his wife was diagnosed with Huntington's chorea. In shock, surprise, and pain, he found his intellectual work was of no comfort. What he shares here is his personal story of how he came to still love and serve the God who allows the suffering.

We would like to think that if we are really trying to seek God's will and be obedient, evil will not befall us. When it does, we wonder if we really want to still worship a God who rewards faithfulness with severe affliction. (17) A crisis of faith often results.

That is the kind of raw honesty with which Feinberg writes. He shares the stages he went through after his wife's diagnosis. I was interested to read that he realized intellectual answers were of little value for him. This was an emotional problem. A personal experience of affliction, he says, requires pastoral care, not an intellectual discussion.

The issue, Feiberg writes, is how to live with a God who doesn't prevent or stop the suffering. In helping others live with this reality, he gives good suggestions on what not to say. He lets us know what helped him, such as others allowing him to talk and really listening to him.

He honestly attacks questions like why some Christians have to suffer so much and others do not. He reveals the error of our expecting God to treat everyone the same, extending the grace of pain free living to all instead of just some. He does explain that affliction is part of living in a sinful world and that the more we follow God, the more we can expect attacks from Satan.

I recommend this book to those who minister to the afflicted. You won't find any cold intellectual writing about why Christians suffer. You will find an honest account of how one man came to grips with his relationship to God in the midst of affliction. You will receive some good insight into what the afflicted need in the way of ministry. You will also have some good information with which you can think and talk about God and suffering, as an Appendix includes several goals God may want to accomplish in the suffering.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

John S. Feinberg is professor of biblical and systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He has also been a pastor, a staff member for Chosen People Ministries, and has taught at Western Seminary and Liberty University.

Kregel, 160 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Sense of Humor by Max Elliot Anderson

While this book contains hundreds of jokes and funny stories, it is also a book about understanding humor and what it means to have a sense of humor. Anderson relates the benefits of humor, such as aiding in the healing process. It can help with stress and depression too.

Anderson says reading this book and putting into practice the principles it contains will help your communication skills, help you develop a positive attitude, and be a better friend and work associate. Life will be more enjoyable in your circle of influence.

He takes about the first third of the book to discuss humor. He writes about doctors and dentists using humor, its role in the family, what's appropriate humor, the styles of humor, the use of humor in education, at the workplace, as a tool of management, in relationships, and in ministry. He has a chapter about humor in translation and how sometimes a joke will not work in another language or culture. He includes a section on how humor can hurt others (such as sarcasm).

I learned some interesting concepts about humor. It involves the whole brain, integrating and balancing activity in both hemispheres. Even though pastors love to use jokes, “Interestingly, there are no jokes in the Bible.”

The last two thirds of the book contains jokes. Lots of jokes. Some made me groan while others had me laughing until the tears ran. Anyone who wants a good source of jokes will find plenty of material in this book.

While I was tempted to skip right to the collection of jokes, I'm glad I read the material about humor. It's a good idea to know how and why humor works as it does before rolling out the jokes. It will help me make good use of the jokes found in the rest of the book.

Food for thought: “Laughter is one of the most powerful tools we have for coping with the serious issues in our lives.”

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Max Elliot Anderson has spent most of his life in the production of documentary and dramatic films, client videos, and TV commercials. He observed the important role of humor in his work and wrote this book as a result. He and his wife have two children and four grandchildren. You can find out more about him and his books for young readers at

Elk Lake Publishing, 332 pages.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through The Book Club Network for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

Friday, July 22, 2016

A Transformed Mouth by Tracy Wainwright

We know our words are powerful (Prov. 18:21). We know we need to be conscious and intentional about what we say. We want to build up and inspire. We need to transform our mouth.

Wainwright begins her book by convincing us of those truths and others, such as our giving an account of our words at the judgment (Matt.12:36). But how do we transform our words? She gives us a practical strategy for doing that. Some of her tips include pausing, praying, deliberately lowering our voice, and surrendering our words to the Lord – sometimes moment by moment.

This is a convicting little book. Wainwright reminds us of the many Scriptures regarding our words. They are to be always gracious, seasoned with salt, and said in love. She helps us understand the right words to say and say them in the right way. She explores wise and unwise words. She reminds us that changing our words is our responsibility but God provides us with the Holy Spirit to help us.

In this day of volatile speech, we need to be reminded of the impact of our words. We can have a transformed mouth. It will take prayer and practice, Wainwright says. It may take surrendering our words to God all day, moment by moment. We'll never achieve complete control of our tongue but we can certainly aim for progress in doing so.

If you have any interest at all in having your words be uplifting and glorifying God, I highly recommend this little book. You'll find the Scriptures that are instrumental in understanding how important your words are and you'll be given a practical strategy to transform your tongue. It will mean a serious commitment and a conscious effort on your part. If you are ready to purpose in your heart not to injure others and be careless with your words, this book will get you on your way.

This is the second in the Transformed Series. You can read my review of A Transformed Mind here.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Tracy Wainwright is the director of the Abundant Life Conference for Women, a Stonecroft Ministries speaker, author, blogger, wife, and mother. You can find out more at and follow her blogs at and

TLC Wainwright Publishing LLC, 75 pages.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from the author for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Punishments by J B Winsor

As a Christian, I found this to be a thought provoking novel. I did not appreciate the graphic sex and torture scenes, however, and the vulgar language. But the plot gave me much to think about.

When the novel opens, some time in the future, fundamentalist Christians are already in control of the U.S. Government. We find out later in the novel that Americans had been living in fear of additional acts of terrorism. They had also been disgusted with the ineffective nature of government. Not wanting to be involved themselves, citizens allowed Christian fundamentalists to work their way into power, beginning at the county level then all the way to the presidency. The average American did not think the fundamentalists would carry through with their plans but now there is a very serious move toward theocracy and return to Old Testament laws. The fundamentalists even use the trump card that God's laws supersede man made laws.

Winsor has done a good job creating characters that propel the plot. The head of Virtues is a power hungry and, I think, evil man. I would like to say that is not possible, to preach morality, to enforce morality, but then to be so immoral. But we've seen it. He even claims to hear from God, thus claiming ultimate rule.

There are fundamentalists who insist on living to the letter of the law, including making women stay in the home and taking away their vote. There are a couple of senators who try to oppose the fundamentalist agenda but their life means little to those who hunger after power.

I think this novel is thought provoking because it deals with an issue higher than just that of fundamentalist Christians in power. The chilling reality could come to pass with any religion where extremists gain ultimate power. I would recommend this novel, except for the graphic sex and violence it contains. Nonetheless, the novel is very thought provoking.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

J B Winsor was a businessman, building a media network. He fought to preserve great ecosystems, founded an institute exploring new communication technology, is an outdoor enthusiast, and avid story teller. He and his wife split their living between Boulder, Colorado and a ranch in Wyoming. They have three children and eight grandchildren. You can find out more at

Boulder Digital Publishing, 308 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this novel from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Through Raging Waters by Renee Blare

This is the second book in the series about Timber Springs. While this book can be read on its own, I would suggest reading To Soar On Eagles Wings first. You can read my review of that novel here.

As the novel opens, the town is in danger of severe flooding. Steve, the local game warden we met in the earlier novel, takes charge of saving the town from total destruction. Even though the timber company was told to not have men in the mountains, there is a crew that got sent up and hasn't been heard from since. Paul, local pharmacist and Steve's brother-in-law, leads a group of four to find and rescue the loggers.

There is a great deal of action in this novel as the narrative alternates between the flooding town and the mountain rescue. The rescue team has a hard time going up the unpaved road that is flooded in many areas.

Even though there is lots of action, I think the novel is more about relationships. There is much going on between Paul and his siblings – lots of hurt and anger. There is a sudden romance that blossoms between Paul and Melissa, good friend of Steve's wife. It seems to go from nothing to intensity in a matter of hours.

I had difficulty liking the characters in the novel. Most of them seemed angry most of the time. I didn't like Melissa. She was so impulsive and thought she knew better what needed to happen than those in charge. I did not respect her at all.

I found Blare's writing style difficult. Her use of pronouns had me scratching my head often. Here's an example:
   “Steve ran a hand through his messy hair. 'Paul, come here please.'
   He stood over his sibling for a moment...”
The “he” is actually referring to Paul but I think with the rules of English, the pronoun should be referring to Steve, the subject of the earlier sentence. Here's another:
   Steve walked around the table and gripped his hand.” 
He gripped his own hand? No, the “his” is supposed to refer to another person and indicate a handshake.

I also found the hyped up language difficult. A comforter became “silk-encased feathers.” People did not turn their heads, their heads snapped. The pop of a fireplace was a crack that ricocheted off the room's walls. Here is one that really bothered me. The scene is the rescue men driving up the mountain, and remember this is a novel about lots of flooding. “Joshua rounded the next curve, and a wall of water met them.” A flash flood? No, just heavier rain so Joshua turned the wipers up to a higher speed and continued on.

I had difficulty with some of the lack of scene construction. For example, the town is flooding and there are sand bags at storefronts and a piece of heavy equipment just got swept away by the waters. But then two women get in a car and drive off. Was the car parked on a hill? I just could not picture how that could all take place in the same area.

Those who enjoy hyped up action and aren't bothered by lack of attention to detail may enjoy this novel. A touching romance is included and the gospel is clearly presented.

I am taking part in a blog tour of this book and you can find links to other reviewers here.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

Renee Blare was raised in Louisiana and Wyoming. She has been writing since junior high. She attended pharmacy school and still counts pills. She lives in Wyoming with her husband where she loves to fish, hunt, and play classical guitar. You can find out more at and follow her blog at

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 346 pages. You can purchase the book here.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Celebrate Lit for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Silent Takeover by Jacquelyn Sheppard

The mind and body are related. We might be familiar with how the mind affects the body, but what about the effect of the body on the mind?

Sheppard was inspired to investigate this subject because of her poor physical health, starting from childhood. She has included the fruit of her fifty years of study in this book.

She covers many, many subjects: effect of genetic inheritance, effect of diet on the mind, links between nutritional deficiencies and mental disorders, side effects and risks of antidepressants, the role of positive and negative ions, oxytocin and the mind, watching television and the effect on brain neuron development, and more.

She writes about taking steps to correct what is malfunctioning in the body, including choices and commitment. She notes it may take years for brain cells to rebuild. She includes the importance of sleep, how inflammation “is now considered the cause of most diseases” (110), the role of thoughts, sugar, chemicals in women's makeup and in cookware.

Sheppard includes a spiritual aspect to her book, noting the effects of prayer, music, worship, and the peace that comes from Christian belief.

Sheppard has done a massive amount of research. She has twenty five pages of footnotes. She says with the new understanding of how the body determines to a great extent how the brain functions, that what we know about mental illness and addictive disorders will be “completely revolutionized in the next decade.” (113)

I recommend this book to those interested in understanding the relationship of the body to the mind. I do wish there would have been bullet points at the end of each chapter highlighting four or five major points. This is the kind of book where you might want to take notes so you can put in to use the information that is given.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Jacquelyn Sheppard is a mother, grandmother, educator and writer. She and her husband live on a ten acre farm in Missouri. You can find out more at

Destiny Image, 250 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through The Book Club Network for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Cantaloupe Thief by Deb Richardson-Moore

This novel revolves around the homeless in a Georgia town. While invisible to many, they play a vital role in solving a decade old mystery of a murdered woman.

Branigan, a reporter for the town's paper, is the heroine. She's been asked to write a story about the unsolved murder on its ten year anniversary. Her pursuit of the story takes her to the local homeless shelter, introducing her to their culture.

I appreciate the author's emphasis on the homeless community. One can tell that she knows what she is writing about. She is the pastor of an inner city church to the homeless and she does a good job of taking us into their community. She was also a newspaper reporter and takes readers into the life of a small town newspaper.

This is a novel about relationships. Some of the relationships are among family members, such as Branigan and her brother and among the siblings of the murdered woman. Other relationships are among the homeless and those who minister to them.

The novel is constructed with flashbacks to the days surrounding the murder interspersed into that of contemporary events. I found that I was reading about the same event repeatedly, such as the pancakes with faces. There would be an actual flashback and then retelling of the scenes by people as Branigan interviewed them. The flashbacks are crafted so that each time we understand a little more of the circumstances leading up to the murder even as Branigan uncovers similar information.

Readers should be aware that there is a scene where psychics are shown in a relatively positive light. There is also mild swearing but nothing that does not fit the situation.

I recommend this novel to those who would enjoy a somewhat complicated plot surrounded the solving of a murder that has gone unsolved for a decade. You'll learn a bit about the homeless and ministry to them too.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Deb Richardson-Moore was a reporter for a Greenville newspaper for 27 years. When she received the religion beat, she enrolled in a seminary to learn about her subject, left the newspaper and earned a master of divinity degree. She became pastor of a non-denominational inner city mission to the homeless. Her first book, The Weight of Mercy, tells of her first years in that ministry. She and her husband have three grown children. You can find out more at

Lion Fiction (distributed in the U.S. By Kregel), 300 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kregel for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Kill Devil by Mike Dellosso

This novel is a continuation of the story begun in Centralia. If you have not read that book, I do recommend you do so before reading this one. Jed thinks he and his family are free from the secret government operation, living in seclusion in the mountains. He soon faces the truth that his location is known. His daughter is abducted and used as leverage to make him use his assassination skills.

Dellosso's writing expertise lies in creating a virtual reality that is so realistic we are not sure if what we are reading is supposed to be actual events happening or only the impression of them. We are swept up with Jed in trying to separate the real from the created. This links with the purpose of the Centralia project of mind control.

I have liked Dellosso's books. Unfortunately, this is my least liked so far. I found the action repetitive. Jed is made to go to this place to get directions to go to that place to finally end up in another place. Each stop finds action similar to the one before. Battered and bruised, Jed yet again outwits and outfights another enemy. The action and facilities at Alcatraz were just beyond reasonable belief.

There were other scenes I found beyond belief. The worst was the assassination location with the assassin inside left approachable. You mean with all the resources Centralia had they would leave such a crucial location unguarded? I don't think so. There was also a scene just for effect that was not tidied up – Karen being stopped by the state patrol.

I appreciate Dellosso's writing and I will continue to read his novels, trusting that future ones will have tighter action and scenes that adhere to a greater sense of possibility (the scenes representing actual reality, not virtual reality).

My rating: 3/5 stars.

Tyndale House Publishers, 416 pages.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Second Half by Lauraine Snelling

We see it often. Grandparents are raising children for the second time – their grandchildren. Vacation plans, long awaited hobbies, and sleeping in all bow to the new responsibility of child care.

Snelling has created a novel that gives us a good idea of what might happen when grandparents are called upon to take over the care of their grandchildren. In this case, it is a son who is in the army. His wife had walked away from the family and now he was being deployed over seas.

This novel takes a deep look at the personalities of the grandparents at this time of transition. Mona is trying to do a good job at building her event planning business. Ken is retiring from his job as the dean of students at a university. Both of them are facing difficult obstacles when their son calls with the child care request.

There is quite a bit of character study in this novel. Mona has suffered from depression before and it threatens to rear its ugly head again. Ken is seeing his legacy of student support destroyed by a faction of the university leadership. The grandchildren are in the midst of a turbulent time too. They are reeling from the abandonment of their mother and now their father is leaving.

This is definitely a character driven novel. Facing depression is a significant theme. Mona may come by depression because of chemical imbalance but Ken finds out he must fight it too. His struggle with the university gives him a new appreciation for his wife's battle with depression. That reveals another theme, the legacy one leaves upon retirement. How is one to face the possibility of the destruction of a lifetime of work? Then there are the children, facing the reality of losing another parent.

There is a great deal in this novel that is food for discussion. There is a Reading Group Guide included so this would make a good choice for a reading group, especially of the members are at or nearing retirement.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Lauraine Snelling is the award-winning author of more than 65 novels. She also writes for a wide range of magazines and teaches at writers' conferences across the country. She and her husband live in the Tehachapi Mountains. You can find out more at

FaithWords, 350 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.