Thursday, April 30, 2020

Shell Games by Craig Welch

I would never have imagined the amount of money that could be made from illegal harvesting of clams in Puget Sound nor the resulting long term damage. The profit could be in the millions of dollars and the time necessary to restore the marine beds about four decades. Welch gives a good account of agents from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as they completed undercover operations to catch those illegally harvesting Dungeness crab and goeducks.

While the action in this book took place nearly two decades ago, the tales told are relevant today. Welch gives several examples of illegal trade in animals that resulted in deadly sickness from viruses. Some of the shellfish were harvested illegally during algal blooms. Such blooms can poison the shellfish and cause harm to humans.

Illegal animal and plant trade is big business worldwide. Welch's book is a good account of agents capturing and seeing the conviction of one man who stole wealth from the bottom of Puget Sound and called himself “The Goeduck Gotti.”

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Craig Welch is an environmental writer at National Geographic. When he wrote Shell Games, Welch was the environmental reporter for The Seattle Times, where he worked for fourteen years. His award winning articles have appeared in several publications. He was part of the team that won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the deadliest landslide in U.S. history. He lives in Seattle with his wife and daughter. You can find out more at Photo: Meryl Schenker.

Harper Collins, 291 pages

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

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Return to the Fierce Land Blog Tour

About the Book

Book:  Return to the Fierce Land
Author: N.C. Bolton
Genre: Christian Fantasy
Release Date: March 31, 2020

The Fierce Land…

His escape from there still haunts his dreams with snatches of terror and the smell of blood. Dreams that jolt him awake, his heart pounding a frantic pace in his chest.

No longer a frightened, grieving child, Rikk has a duty—a mission. Myla, Rikk’s little sister, now grown herself, remains trapped in that harsh land.

Can she possibly know he survived his escape, and now, years later, prepares ready to travel back to find her? The village elders and the rest of his adopted people have such confidence in his ability to make the journey. Yet his heart is still divided, and fearful.

He should have faith, as they do.

But dread lurks below the surface of the calm face he shows.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

I enjoyed this novella. While it is in the fantasy genre, it contains many examples of spiritual truths such as forgiveness and compassion. The characters exercise spiritual gifts like healing, visions, and and receiving leading from God. There is a good exploration of nonviolence and what might happen when evil attacks. My favorite issue explored in this short work was concerning the willingness we must have to allow God to work through us.

This is a good novella for lovers of Christian fantasy. You'll get adventure and suspense as well as some issues to think about. You'll be left in suspense at the end, however. Like me, you'll be waiting for the next novella in this series.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Author

N.C. Bolton is a wife, mother, grandmother, jewelry maker, crochet crafter, and of course: a writer! She lives in upstate New York in a lovely scenic region known as The Fingerlakes. Widowed last year, she is comforted by her five sons, two grandchildren and a marvelous array of family and other loved ones. She loves the creative process, and puts her whole focus into the stories she writes. May you be entertained and uplifted by them!
You visit her website here.

More from N.C. Bolton

I’ve always been drawn to the miraculous aspects of life and creation. I think almost all children experience this, but over time we become so busy and distracted that we lose the awareness of how miraculous life really is. I’m no different. Modern life is pretty demanding!
I love good movies, and I realized over time that there were a great many super-hero movies and movies with Messianic-themed heroes. It made me aware of how human beings hunger to reconnect with that sense of awe we had as children. We all need a relationship with God, not just for His abiding love and hope, the promise of eternal life, and help with the challenges of this mortal life, but to be connected to the Author of the miraculous.
That’s what inspired me to write the Fierce Land series. The scriptures are full of miracles and interventions as well as the heartfelt prayers of humans trying to learn God’s ways and overcome their own internal struggles. And that’s what this series explores, within the framework of a world that is not modern but faces many of the same issues people have always faced. I hope the story is a blessing to those who read it, and that it helps to remind us that our lives are full of miracles.

Blog Stops

For the Love of Literature, May 1 (Author Interview)
Through the Fire Blogs, May 3 (Author Interview)
Tell Tale Book Reviews, May 7 (Author Interview)
Wishful Endings, May 9 (Author Interview)
Artistic Nobody, May 12 (Author Interview)

I received a complimentary digital copy of this novella through Celebrate Lit. My comments are an independent and honest review.

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

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Being Known by Robin Jones Gunn

Gunn has written an enjoyable novel for women, especially those who like getting together to talk about fashions and pedicures. Underneath the framework of women socializing are several serious issues dealing with marriage. The issues are confronted and worked through in the context of supporting women.

This novel is part of an ongoing series by Gunn but reads well on its own. The featured character in this story is Jennalyn as she struggles in her relationship with her overworked and often absent husband. The struggle becomes harder when Jennalyn runs into an old flame from her younger years, a man who seems intent on reigniting the flame they once had.

Readers of Gunn will recognize familiar characters in this novel, like Christy and Sierra. They, Jennalyn and others get together frequently to socialize, sharing lives and faith. Experiences of insight and healing are shared, most often often one on one. Lessons revealed in this novel include honesty between spouses, even when it requires hard work. Trusting dear friends with your struggles is another lesson the women learn. As Christy says, “Having friends in your life who are willing to take the time to know you by heart is a gift.” (Loc 3598/3804)

This is a delightful novel for readers who enjoy the interactions of Christian women as they help each other become more of who God designed them to be.

My rating: 4/5 stars

Robin Jones Gunn is the bestselling author of nearly 100 books with more than five and a half million copies sold worldwide. She is well known for her Christy Miller series, the Christy award-winning Glenbooke and Sisterchicks series, and several nonfiction titles. Three of her novellas have been made into movies for the Hallmark Channel. She has spoken at events around the world. She and her husband have two grown, married children and live in Hawaii.

Multnomah, 320 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, April 27, 2020

The Wait Will Not be Wasted Blog Tour

About the Book

Book:  The Wait Will Not Be Wasted
Author: Lauren Lianne
Genre: Non-fiction/Christian Living
Release Date: February 14, 2020

You’ve probably imagined the job, the spouse, the kids—and you knew what age you wanted it all to happen. However, all too often such plans go up in smoke, and you may feel confused and forgotten when reality doesn’t match your expectations. When life doesn’t go like you planned, can you still trust that God knows how to write the best stories? Instead of taking the pen to your own story, author Lauren Walton suggests refocusing on your Creator.

After spending years frustrated because life wasn’t going according to her plans, Lauren decided to give up control. It was then she learned God’s graciousness wasn’t based on getting what she wanted and that God’s perfect plan included an unexpected season. She wrote The Wait Will Not Be Wasted to help other single women during times of unfulfilled hopes. Lauren shares how self-reflection, journaling, and practical experience have led her to find deep fulfillment and a God-given purpose while she waits. It is her hope that her journey will help others see God’s goodness even during the most difficult times.

Though directed at single women, the concepts apply to any woman waiting for God to move in her life.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

This is an emotional filled memoir of Lauren's struggle with a deep desire to be married. Believing it is God's plan for her life, she has struggled with the wait and in desperation has made unwise decisions. She shares more of what she has learned from her experiences than she does on lessons learned from Scripture.

While she still struggles greatly with her longing to be married, she knows in her head there is nothing she will ever need she cannot find in Jesus. (Loc 2033/2310) While she says only Jesus can fill that gaping hole, she also confesses she still struggles with the longing for marriage. (Loc 2033/2310) Nonetheless, she admits that if one is not content now, one would not be content in marriage. (Loc 2084/2310) She says she has submitted her desires to God, yet she still asks God for a husband, still believing she is in a place of waiting for the dream to come true. (Loc 2117/2310)

Lauren touched briefly on her counselor's question of whether she could be content if it was God's will for her to remain single. I wish Lauren had given more space to an exploration of that possibility, especially in light of Paul saying that the single life is preferable. One is less concerned about earthly affairs and can serve the Lord with more devotion. (1 Cor. 7:32-35)

This is a good book for single women obsessed with marriage and frustrated at the wait God has planned. It reveals the thoughts and actions of a deeply emotional woman still struggling with her dream of marriage. (Loc 1931/2310, 1562/2310, 1677/2310)

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Author

Lauren Walton is a native Floridian who now calls Nashville home. She loves traveling, dancing, staying active with her church community, and cheering on her Auburn University Tigers. Lauren’s faith has carried her through some tough times, and it is now her life goal to help others see God’s goodness even during the most difficult times.

More from Lauren

All I have ever wanted was to be a wife and a mom. In the life I had always imagined there were no other options. But then college came and went, moving to a new city and finding my first job came and went. And so many other milestones came and went, including my 35th birthday. As the years kept passing, I found myself still waiting. My heart felt confused and forgotten. I didn’t understand why God would give me this desire and then withhold it from me.
About eight years ago a friend wrote a verse in my journal. I loved it at the time but didn’t realize it would become my anthem in the future. She wrote Psalm 94:17, which says, “Unless the Lord had been my help, my soul would soon have settled in silence”. I can’t tell you how many times I almost settled in silence but turns out God had other plans for me.
Many times I started to wonder if God really was the good God I had always thought He was. I grew up in church and had been taught from a young age to believe God was good no matter what. But as the wait got longer and longer He didn’t seem to be very good. At that point, I started questioning so many things as I felt my faith beginning to crack. I was terrified of what I might find if I dug into the pain so I pushed it aside, or at least tried to. I began to believe the lie that having doubts would make me a horrible Christian so I kept silent.  I was so afraid to ask the tough questions and was afraid of what those questions might say about me. Ignoring those concerns ended up being a breeding ground for all my doubts, which eventually led me to make decisions I normally would never have made. I lost sight of God’s goodness and found myself solely focusing on what I didn’t have… a husband and a family. This was a season filled with sadness and so much bitterness. I was so over being single and so frustrated with the way my life had turned out. But somewhere in the middle of all that hurt, and despite all my mistakes, God still came for me. He started teaching me all over again who He was as my Father. And how much He loved me.
As I started walking towards healing, I began to ask God the really hard questions my heart couldn’t make sense of, and I believe He started to answer me. So I started to write it all down. I kept a running note in my phone and I always felt like the things God was showing me and encouraging me with were not just for me. If God had me still waiting, there must be a reason and I was determined to figure out what that was. I eventually took a next step and went away for the weekend to write. I found the perfect Airbnb tree house and 7 chapters came spilling out.
At that point it became very clear this book needed to be written and I felt very strongly it needed to be written now… while I am still waiting and not when I am on the other side of my singleness. It’s my hope this will cause other women to lean into what I am saying, or better yet what God has to say. I believe these are His words and not mine anyway.
The Wait will not be Wasted is my “yes” to the Lord and my thank you for how far He has brought me. It’s my whole heart in written form, and the story of my victories and struggles while walking through my singleness. It’s not the pretty or cleaned up version of my story. It was very purposely written that way so we could all take a deep breath and know it’s okay, that it’s hard and it’s okay to make mistakes. I know I’ve made plenty.
I’m praying as women read these words they will discover this life is never going to be void of the hard but there is a very real and very big God who is bigger than anything we go through. I hope together we can begin to see our singleness through a new filter, as we began to shift our attention and see things more from God’s perspective instead of our own. Knowing this doesn’t mean the wait will all of a sudden be easier. But also seeing even through the pain there is a purpose to this season. And God is working all of it together for our good.
He’s always making sure not one minute of our pain is wasted.

Blog Stops

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.)

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Love to Eat Hate to Eat by Elyse Fitzpatrick

Fitzpatrick brings us squarely to the spiritual truth about our eating. While she reminds us that God loves us no matter our size, she also reminds us God's plan is for us to glorify Him in all we do, including eating. I like her emphasis on God's desire to transform us on the inside, a much deeper transformation than our outer appearance. I really like her teaching that we will ever only find satisfaction when our life is centered on God. She admonishes us to remember that our focus should be on pleasing God, not our bellies.

There are many helpful issues addressed in this book, such as the truth about our outer appearance. Yes, we are to care for our bodies because they are created in God's image, but we are to also have a proper view of beauty and what beauty is in God's eyes. I really like her emphasis on the role of our thoughts and her good ideas on how to conform them to God's Word.

I had not thought of transforming my eating as a spiritual discipline. Fitzpatrick suggests a practical plan of admitting our sin, seeking to conform our thoughts to God's thinking, and persevering in the practice of disciplined eating. She has added a number of pages at the end of the book for recording the daily act of discipline.

While information on food, nutrition, exercise, etc. is included, the emphasis of the book is on the spiritual nature of our food consumption. Questions for discussion and reflection are included at the end of each chapter so this would be a good book for a small group. You'll find helpful information, inspiring encouragement and good suggestions for transforming your life with respect to food.

Food for thought: There is no Scripture that commands or even commends thinness. (Loc 498/2736)

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Elyse Fitzpatrick is the head of Women Helping Women Ministries and holds an MA in Biblical Counseling from Trinity Theological Seminary. The has written more than two dozen books and is a frequent speaker at women's conferences. She and her husband have three grown children and six grandchildren. You can find out more at

Harvest House Publishers, 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.)

Saturday, April 25, 2020

When I Meet You by Olivia Newport

I have enjoyed the novels in this series. They are pleasant to read. The main characters are just nice people, people you'd like to have as neighbors. The community events are the kind you'd imagine for a small town. The relationships between the people involved are the kind that make you want to be a part of them.

There's no suspense but there is a mystery to be solved. It's a genealogical one. As in previous novels in the series, Jillian is out to solve the mystery. In this case it is a trunk left at a railroad depot over a hundred years ago. Who was the trunk's owner and what happened to her?

There are some interesting issues that arise in the novel. Do we sometimes hide from what we are afraid to find about our ancestors? Is it even important or worthwhile to find out about those who came before us? And from Jillian's father, when should we stop being obsessed with our investigation?

I recommend this nice, pleasant novel. You'll enjoy the family and community relationships and maybe just a hint of romance for Jillian. I look forward to reading the next in the series.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Olivia Newport is the author of several novels. She and her husband live in Colorado. You can find out more at

Shiloh Run Press, 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.)

Thursday, April 23, 2020

American Bloodline by Bob Nienaber

This book is described as a mixed-genre alternative history science fiction novel. The concept is that Charlie Benjamin, an American fellow, determines he is of royal British lineage, a descendant of the tribe of Benjamin. The book consists of fictional vignettes of Charlie's unusual life in the midst of vast sections of, I assume, actual history.

I have issues with Nienaber's theological foundation for the story. He says Saul's betrayal ended God's covenant with eleven of the tribes, the result being the eleven tribes had no covenant with God and “only the twelfth Tribe of Benjamin and their descendants were the Chosen People.” (Locs 295/4069, 279/4069) He references 2 Samuel 7:14 as God establishing His covenant with the Benjamins. (Loc 279/4049) He later attributes the staying power of the tribe of Benjamin to the “power of the lineage of David, the king of the Jews...” (Loc 357/4069) He also says Jesus was a Benjamin. (Loc 403/4069) This could be part of the alternative history concept as I have absolutely no idea how he came to those statements. The covenant made in 2 Samuel 7:14 was with David and his descendants. David was from the tribe of Judah. (Matt. 1) Jesus was from the tribe of Judah. (Matt. 1) The actual biblical account tells us Saul was from the tribe of Benjamin and his betrayal resulted in God transferring leadership to David, of the tribe of Judah. Nienaber's whole concept of the Benjamins being the Chosen People has no biblical basis. If any one tribe could be considered as Chosen, it would have to be the tribe of Judah, not Benjamin.

There is a ton of history presented in this book and I assume most of it is accurate. Nienaber suggests members of the tribe of Benjamin migrated north and became the Barbarians of the fourth century and, continuing north, the Merovingians. Benjamite descendants became kings and rulers but ultimately were swindled out of their proper rule. Hence, Charlie restoring the rightful ruling lineage. I have no idea how much of that idea is accurate or if that is part of the alternative history concept. Nienaber frequently writes of scholars believing this or that but includes no footnotes.

I feel the book could have used some additional editing (it is self-published). There is repetition. Charlie has unusual abilities. Nienaber says the abilities showed up “about every fifth or sixth generation...” (Loc 101/4069) He repeats that just two paragraphs later (Loc 117/4069) and then again near the end. (Loc 3644/4069) Another evidence of needed editing is a doctor having an “emergency stint procedure” instead of a stent procedure. (Loc 3866/4069)

This might be a book for readers who like history. There is lots of it in this novel. I did not find the book entertaining nor engaging.

You can watch the book trailers here and here.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

Bob Nienaber was born in a suburb of Chicago and grew up in Danville, California. He earned a BA from California State University. He has traveled the world many times for business and pleasure. He and his wife live in Nevada City, where they love outdoor life. You can find out more at

iUuniverse Publishing, 224 pages.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Lavidge. My comments are an independent and honest review.

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

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Anchored by Death Blog Tour

About the Book

Book:  Anchored by Death
Author: Catherine Finger
Genre:  Christian Mystery/Thriller
Release Date: June, 2017

Police Chief Jo Oliver needed a little time to herself. But when her escape to Wisconsin turns deadly, she teams up with FBI agent Nick Vitarello, hoping to catch the Bow Tie Killer. Their romantic past and complicated present leads them into uncharted territory as they match wits with a psychopath bent on destroying everything they hold dear.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

This novel revolves around the character of Chief Jo. Her thoughts and relationships are the major aspects of the story. This is a good novel for readers who like a character driven one. While Jo is aggressive in her pursuit of the murderer and works well with other law enforcement people, she does seem to be in need of rescue often. She is an emotional woman and we readers get a good dose of her thoughts. There was one “necking” scene that I thought was a bit much for a Christian novel otherwise the romance developed rather well.

This is the third in a series and I have not read the earlier books. While this novel can be read on its own, it would be best to read the previous books to fully appreciate the relationships in this one.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Author

Catherine Finger loves to dream, write, and tell stories. Retired from a wonderful career in public education, she celebrates the ability to choose how to spend her time in a new way during the second half of life. So far, she chooses to write books, ride horses, serve others, and generally find her way into and out of trouble both on the road and at home.  She lives in the Midwest with a warm and wonderful combination of family and friends.

More from Catherine

Thank you for your interest in the Jo Oliver thriller series. Today we celebrate Anchored by Death—book three in the series. The basic plot for this book came as a result of an FBI workshop I attended on how profilers track killers. A particular method was presented that really stuck with me. As I thought it over, I had the idea to combine a map of Wisconsin with the tracking technique I had learned, and I actually built the crime scenes around the theory. I then created a killer who would do the sorts of things I had mapped out, and in that order. This was a satisfying challenge for Josie and I enjoyed my research jaunts throughout Wisconsin while writing the chase and takedown scenes.
When Josie’s off the clock and spending time with family and friends, you can catch our heroine in the kitchen. Ever since her infamous Flourless Chocolate Cake appeared in Anchored by Death, fans have requested the recipe. For the epicurean readers, here is the recipe she used when preparing this special treat:
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 ½ sticks butter
¼ salt
6 eggs, room temp
1 ½ cups sugar (white granulated or brown will do)
Confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder for dusting top and cake stand
How To:
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare springform or regular round pans with nonstick spray or butter and flour.
Melt chocolate, butter, and salt—microwave will work in a pinch—or add all to heatproof bowl and place over small saucepan of simmering water to melt without burning. Set aside to cool
Beat eggs and sugar until light and thickened, around 6-8 minutes. Fold in melted chocolate mixture until completely combined.
Pour batter into buttered and floured cake pan—springform or regular round—and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 90 minutes, until a toothpick comes out wet but relatively clean.
Allow cake to cool completely before removing from pan. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and cocoa—Jo used a stencil for a quick and pretty design.
Thanks again for celebrating Anchored by Death—and know that I appreciate you. Readers are a special breed. As a lover of the written word and an author, I invite you to enjoy the read.

Blog Stops

Betti Mace, April 27
Holly Jo Morris, April 27
Older & Smarter?, April 28

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, April 21, 2020

Subversive by Raena Rood

This novel portrays a chilling time in the future when the government comes for every Christian who will not renounce their faith. First they went for the leadership but all too soon the life of every Christian was in danger. Small groups of believers hid in old mines and abandoned farmsteads.

Gemma was one of them. Her parents had been taken. She had known the government Task Force would come for her next. She had gone into hiding, leaving behind the love of her life, Taylor. He was the son of a pastor but had joined the forces now eliminating the Christians. Would she ever see him again?

This is an engaging novel. Rood has done a great job developing Gemma's character as well as the supporting ones. The plot is well thought out. I really got a sense of the intense hatred some had toward Christians. There were some really evil people bent on wiping out the faith, especially on the government Task Force.

This is also a thought provoking novel. It made me think of my own faith and what I would do if the same situation happened in my lifetime. I though about the Task Force leader who lied and manipulated people to inflame their hatred of Christians.

Though Gemma is a young adult and there is an element of young romance included, this is a well written novel for all ages. It will cause readers think about the depth and commitment of their faith and value the freedom to assemble for worship.

This is the first book in a series and I will definitely be looking for the next one.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Raena Rood lives in Pennsylvania. You can find out more about her at

One Foundation Publishing, 310 pages. This book releases June 16, 2020.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Book Sirens. My comments are an independent and honest review.

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