Monday

Review: The Confession

The Confession The Confession by Robert Whitlow
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I think this was one of Whitlow's best offerings. I was a bit put out with the prologue, and that made me uneasy to find out that the main character was a prosecuting attorney in the D.A.'s office. But as the story progressed, I became more and more intrigued.

The writing is excellent, the characters are extremely well developed and complex with all the sloppy emotions of hurt and unforgiveness. Whitlow examines this theme from several different angles in the lives of each character. There doesn't seem to be any "minor" characters in this story because each character has a wonderfully crafted purpose that unfolds as the story unfolds. Quite a marvelous accomplishment for any author to achieve.

Whitlow leads the reader down a path that is full of shadows and innuendos so the cat has no idea what motivates the mouse. I highly recommend this story.

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Review: The Wedding Chapel

The Wedding Chapel The Wedding Chapel by Rachel Hauck
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you are looking for a synopsis, then read the back cover info provided by Amazon. I think that kind of information is a bit redundant.

I am not keen on flashbacks as a way to tell a story. Flashbacks and flashforwards are very confusing and hard to keep the story straight. I got bored with it after halfway into it. Normally, Hauck tells a great tale in great fashion. I was sadly disappointed with this one. While the actual story premise was excellent, the execution left a lot to be desired. However, Hauck did develop the characters well for the most part. I think she had a great deal of trouble getting inside the heads of so many different characters, though. I definitely had to work hard at keeping track of whose head I was in and why there were so many different points of view.

The young ad executive (I've forgotten his name) had a struggle with what he felt inside and how he acted. While his emotional problem seemed real enough, it didn't ring true in the story as his actions toward his wife were really horrible. Perhaps it rang too close to home for me. Maybe the problem was the character portended a complexity that was not explored efficiently, or perhaps he just needed a story all his own. Anyway, the mix did not work for me.

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Friday

Review: 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened In Benghazi

13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened In Benghazi 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened In Benghazi by Mitchell Zuckoff
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A MUST READ

I heard part of the interview with these men on Fox News. It was so moving and telling, I had to get the book. Then I went to Amazon.com to purchase it and it was out of stock. Seeing the number of reviews on Goodreads I can understand why. What an amazing and hair raising true story. I am so humbled that men such as these are risking their necks for the safety of our country! Thank you!

(Be advised: There are some foul words used. If you are allergic to them, then try to filter them out. I'm thinking I'd probably use those words in the same situation.)

The account is moment by moment, hour by hour of what happened in Benghazi from the men who were there on the ground, inhaling the smoke, and dodging the incoming.

The author did an excellent job with providing the men's backgrounds, their character, and their life outlook. You get to see part of history as if you were right there in the midst of it all. Of course, no words could possible express the deep pain, agony, and lightening quick responses to the danger there. Also, you can understand how the actions of just a few impact a whole nation who may not agree with the ideology and methods of the few. It brings it home that these are real people.

I highly recommend this book and believe that every American should read it from cover to cover.

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Review: The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle The Glass Castle by Trisha Priebe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thought this would be more like Narnia... but then nothing is like Narnia.

Intrigue, mystery, suspense, and a sprinkling of sweetness are well blended into a great story for teens, and maybe even younger. I read all kinds of stories just like this when I was 10 (Narnia and Trixie Belden mysteries plus!)

I like the way Biblical values and principles are shown rather than talked about. I think children get those kinds of lessons better through illustrations, much like Jesus' parables. This is good fare for Christians, and could be a great door opener for unbelieving teens. Excellent for a "read to" nighttime story for the family. Thanks Trisha Priebe and Jerry Jenkins!

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Review: The Preacher's Lady

The Preacher's Lady The Preacher's Lady by Lori Copeland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

MY REVIEW
An enjoyable, quick read. The characters are well developed, and I expect no less from Lori Copeland. I'm particularly enchanted with Bo, the young guy who needed to spread his wings, but found stench and foulness instead. Then God jerked him back to Himself, and Bo became a preacher.

So often Christians think finding God is the end all, and it's happy sailing after that. This novel highlights the kind of journey a young Christian might make when he or she succumbs to the snares of the world, and then how God had cleanse the worst foulness off His children and use them for His good purpose. It also illustrates how a young believer can get the wrong ideas about God when the young, budding faith is quashed by ignorant teaching. That just ramps up the responsibility for maturing Christians. Copeland has some great insights, and turns the light on a lot of possibilities.

Let's don't forget the wonderful love story that all this entwines in and through. Great job, Lori. A five star offering, for sure.

ABOUT THE BOOK
Acclaimed author Lori Copeland spins a tale of hope, understanding, and faith when God seems silent.

It's 1855, and Elly Sullivan works on her family cranberry farm in Wisconsin. She's pledged her unending love to Bo Garrett.

At seventeen, Bo rides off for a month--just a month--to see a little of the world before he settles down with Elly. He falls in with the wrong people and the wrong life. His promises to Elly and the Lord are forgotten in a misspent youth. Eight years too late, he returns, having come to the end of himself and having rededicated his life to God.

Can Bo convince Elly they were meant to be together despite all the bumps in their path?

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Review: A Covenant With Death

A Covenant With Death A Covenant With Death by Stephen Becker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a classic literary offering with all the delicious quandaries and insights. I love to read books written by men about men... they are so much more authentic than books about men written by women or vice versa. This has the same flavor that "A Prayer for Owen Meany" had.

The plot revolves around a small town beauty's murder, but goes so much deeper with moral dilemmas, small town gossip and politics with small town, bigger than life characters, and a generous sprinkling of young man ponderings from an old man's mind. Those shoulda-beens and why-nots play a big role in how the author draws the reader into this swirl of characters.

This is also classic because the characters are truly and delicately developed. The reader knows as muc about the Ben Lewis as his mother, his mentor, his neighbors, and the characters suspected of the murder. In fact, the murderer is no real surprise at the end.

But that is not the objective of this book. The objective is how a small town copes with something so shocking as one of their own being murdered and her husband being accused. It also delves deeply into race relations, prohibition, and intimate relationships all from a young man's perspective.

The only reason I gave it four stars instead of five stars is because it was very wordy in parts, and at time too introspective that did not move the story along. But then, that was the kind of story people liked to read in 1964.

Description
A riveting tale of love and death in a small New Mexico town that ranks alongside Anatomy of a Murder and To Kill A Mockingbird as one of the twentieth century’s most captivating courtroom dramas

On a sultry day in the spring of 1923, Louise Talbot spends the last afternoon of her life lounging in the shade of a sycamore tree in her front yard. Beautiful and vivacious, Louise is the talk of Soledad City—every man lusts after her; every woman wants to know her secrets. She is found strangled to death that evening, and when the investigation uncovers her affair with another man, the citizens of the frontier town draw the obvious conclusion: Bryan Talbot murdered his wife in a fit of jealousy and rage.

Presiding over the trial is twenty-nine-year-old Ben Lewis. Appointed to the bench as a tribute to the memory of his late father, he fears he is too inexperienced to sentence another man to death. All the evidence points to Talbot, however, and it is a magistrate’s sworn duty to see that justice is served. But when a last-second twist casts the question of the defendant’s guilt or innocence in a shocking new light, Judge Lewis must decide whether to uphold the law—or let a murderer go free.

A thrilling suspense story and a fascinating inquiry into human nature and the true meaning of justice, A Covenant with Death was a New York Times bestseller and the basis for a feature film starring George Maharis and Gene Hackman.

Received from Netgalley for my honest review.

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Saturday

Review: Drawing Fire

Drawing Fire Drawing Fire by Janice Cantore
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Great story. A good page-turner.

The characters are very well-developed. I'm not a fan of keeping the reader in the dark while the characters know everything... but that seems to be a trend these days that I wish publishers would kick out of the habit.

I think the fact the author was a policeman herself lends a great deal of realism to the story. Another thing that is good is that Cantore doesn't keep rehashing the story line in the thoughts of the characters. Plus the two main characters carry the narrative rather than jumping in the heads of numerous characters, and the mystery stays a mystery to both the characters and the reader (which makes up for the muddy waters the reader has to wade through at the beginning of the story.)

Great read... I'll be recommending it to others

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Tuesday

Review: Mail-Order Marriage: 5 Historical Stories of Marriage Arranged by Letters Between Strangers

Mail-Order Marriage: 5 Historical Stories of Marriage Arranged by Letters Between Strangers Mail-Order Marriage: 5 Historical Stories of Marriage Arranged by Letters Between Strangers by Tracie Peterson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Admittedly, I was disappointed in this collection. The story by DiAnn Mills was the only one that I read all the way through. Tracie Peterson, whom I generally always enjoy reading, fell a little flat. The other three authors need to work really hard on their research. I found so many modernisms mentioned that I gave up reading. When reading a period story, I expect dialogue, story elements, and characters to all reside in that period. The story flow grinds to an abrupt halt when a modernism pops out, and that is disturbing to readers, at least it is to me. My Mom enjoyed reading every word of every story, so I guess it doesn't effect every reader.

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Review: Huckleberry Hearts

Huckleberry Hearts Huckleberry Hearts by Jennifer Beckstrand
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a sparkling star in a gloomy night of the Amish stories flooding the market. I deeply dislike the sickly sweet Amish stories. This book rises above the tide.

The characters are very well developed. In fact, maybe too developed in that the character motivations are repeated over and over. Other than that, though, the story is exceptional. Funny, heart rending, and very diverting describe this story. Dialogue is very good with just the right amount of Amish verbiage to make it all real without stepping over the line of incomprehensibility.

Great story. I highly recommend it.

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Review: Trial & Tribulations

Trial & Tribulations Trial & Tribulations by Rachel Dylan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Even the numerous grammatical errors could not rein in the story in this thrilling story about good and evil. I do not like cliffhanger endings, but this one is not exactly a cliffhanger... but there are numerous things unresolved. That's why this one gets 4 stars instead of 5.

I'm impressed with the story telling, but this story needs a good editor to really streamline the story, to tighten it up to help create more tension, and to make the dialogue a bit more believable.

The characters are fairly well developed, although there is very little back story. There is some trouble alluded to that happened to the protagonist early in her life. This tactic doesn't work here. It's like the wizard behind the curtain only it does not move the story forward. It just makes the reader wonder what happened and distracts from the story at hand.

Other than those few things, the story is great. I'll probably read the next installment.

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Review: Nirvana

Nirvana Nirvana by J.R. Stewart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Revised Advance copy via NetGalley... pub date Nov. 10. 2015.)

I am revising my review after I read the revised version of this science fiction novel.

Admittedly, I did not give it a great review after reading it the first time. I do love science fiction and this promised to be good. I had a great deal of potential to be really good, and now the delivery surpasses expectations!

This story is now very well organized. I was being jerked hither and yon in the story before, but now the story flow is wonderfully like a rushing stream. Tension builds to a nerve-wracking point as Andrew and Larissa's story unfolds. The story is told from mostly one point of view (hooray!). Larissa is on a mission to discover what happened to her beloved Andrew, and she discovers corporate intrigue can be deadly.

The character development is great.

I this story will probably have great impact on something that is very close to reality... virtual reality. It is scary what is being done and is being considered in this field of science. Nirvana shines a bright light into this rather dark industry. Kudos to the author for that! And Kudos for good story telling.

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Review: Star Wars Battlefront: Twilight Company

Star Wars Battlefront: Twilight Company Star Wars Battlefront: Twilight Company by Alexander Freed
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The story line is very good. You get a good feel for the weary soldiers fighting for freedom. You also get a better feel for the oppression of the Empire's system of domination.

The reader is given a timeline so you know where you are in this convoluted space opera. That's a very good thing.

While the story is good, the story telling is not top-notch. It seems rather more like a ramble than an action packed adventure. In other words, it is more a series of events rather than a story. While that can work for an experienced writer, Freed doesn't seem to be able to pull it off well.

Character development is choppy, and there are way too many points of view. Sometimes you have to read more than half a page to tell who's point of view you are reading. I hate that, therefore the 3-star review.

Advance copy from Netgalley...

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