Friday

Review: The Arrival

The Arrival The Arrival by J.W. Brazier
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I really tried to get into this book. I thought the premise was very intriguing, yet the delivery fell a bit flat.

The story line just could not overcome the shortcomings. For one thing, the thought that the most evil character to ever come into this world could be genetically engineered is not biblical. When I realized that this is where the author was going, I couldn't finish it. The story was no longer plausible. Advice to that author -- either stay in the Christian genre by being more biblically plausible or shift over to true horror and gallop down that path. Don't try to mix the two.

Science definitely has its place, and can certainly be used for evil purposes. (More people in America have been murdered through abortion than what Stalin and Hitler did combined.) Science also has a definite place in the Bible...

This is not a very well organized story. Some thing happen that are actually in the back story and just take up space without moving the story along. The dialogue is strained and forced at times. Head hopping happens seemingly randomly; there are no transitions. Therefore the reader is jerked about willy-nilly.

I do not recommend this book.

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Review: The Cactus Creek Challenge

The Cactus Creek Challenge The Cactus Creek Challenge by Erica Vetsch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a fun book!

I loved the characters. Vetsch developed all with such fine skill and a delicate refining brush. Well done. No head jumping without skilled transitions. The story may be a tad improbable, but it is crafted in such a believable way.

I highly recommend this book! It is a keeper, and you'll probably want to read it again in a year or two. It is well worth your money!

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Review: The Lost Heiress

The Lost Heiress The Lost Heiress by Roseanna M. White
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is quite an interesting novel, not the usual fare. It has a faint flavor of Gothic romance where the villain is most wicked and vile, and the hero and heroine are good and kind with imperfections. They are very believable characters, which makes this an excellent read.

The story line is very good. Beginning in Monaco and moving to early Edwardian England's high society with Earls and Dukes and Baronesses. These are treated accurately. Justin discovers who Brook's father is, and is delighted she is a baroness so he can marry her.

But life is full of wickedness and greed. There is one who is counting on wealth, but the sudden appearance of Brook changes the direction of this pursuit of wealth. It is a lively story, but there is a hint early in the story that not even Sherlock Holmes would be able to catch. From an editor's point of view, this hint should have been developed earlier rather than waiting until the middle of the book to find out what the wicked person is trying to steal. That part was rather annoying.

I quite admire her development of the wicked Pratt. White drew this character exquisitely so that any mention of his name made hairs stand up on my neck.

There are some historical flaws, though, in the book. The era is 1910's England and Monaco. Society had not quite shaken off the Victorian era, and hemlines had not risen above the ankles. British society was still gridlocked in societal norms such as straight backs, no slumping, no outward displays of emotions such as man-hugs or tight pants for women lest the person(s) be ostracized. Rigid etiquette was absolute.

The friendliness displayed between the servants and their employers is depicted with a bit of a heavy hand. Again, with so much attention to getting the details correct, this slight variation stands out starkly. Kindnesses shown to servants were not uncommon, but a Lady would not drive her servant to a train station. Perhaps after the War, but certainly not before.

To be fair, White did have someone read the novel to catch and delete any Americanisms. Unfortunately, her penchant for nicknames detracts from this elegant story. Nick names were not something the Brits were prone to bestow in Edwardian Great Britain. Last names were used between the men. No one ever addressed a person by their given name except in private. It was always My Lady, or My Lord, Lord So-n-So, and so forth. The use of nick names in this book is jolting. Especially the shortening of names was a faux pas in the extreme. Whitby would never have been shortened to Whit. In extreme emotional situations, a man might address a nobility equal with his last name, but never a shortened version. Etiquette was so stringent you could smell the vinegar in it.

The fact that a book follows so closely the etiquette, dress, and addresses of the day, but allow some of these errors makes the errors stand out all the more.

I particularly love the way White braids faith into the story. Each character has a different expression of faith, and it makes the story and characters all the more real.

Another good character development is that White highlights the Earl's emotional constraints with his daughter, Brook. It is so delicious when he finally gives her a fatherly hug. There are many other jewels in this novel that not only move the story along, but draw the tension so tight one could walk upon it. Story telling done very, very well.

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Monday

Review: The Bible Teacher's Guide: Theology Proper: Knowing God the Father

The Bible Teacher's Guide: Theology Proper: Knowing God the Father The Bible Teacher's Guide: Theology Proper: Knowing God the Father by Gregory Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Gregory Brown has written a beautiful study on knowing God the Father. It is full of wonderful insights that are like sparkling jewels. The study is very well written, biblically grounded, and easy to absorb because it is very well organized.

He talks about knowing your self-value: "I have value because in some way or another, even though I sin, I bear the image of God. Having God as my maker and having been created in His likeness, give me innate value."

Too often we focus on how unworthy we sinners are. But when we study the big picture, we can see how valuable God created us.

When Brown talks about the first benefit of knowing God the Father, he says, "Life can never be what it was meant to be apart from the knowledge of God."

The study is packed with these kinds of jewels of wisdom. It is so true that people often think of prayer as pleading for good things. Brown points out this is very far from the truth, and that God pours out His blessings all over His children.

Brown also explores the other side of the coin in the chapter "God is Wrathful." He draws from Paul's letter to the Romans in the first chapter. Every day God hands people over to the sin that they pursue, and he allows them to reap the consequences.

The author tackles one of the hardest things to understand: The Trinity. I don't think I would have the courage to write about this. He discusses how God is truly one God, but in three persons.

These key factors for knowing God the Father are presented with plenty of biblical back-up. I highly recommend this study for groups and individuals, for youth to the older/mature Christians.

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Review: My Restoration Journey: The True Story of Erica Kramer

My Restoration Journey: The True Story of Erica Kramer My Restoration Journey: The True Story of Erica Kramer by Erica Kramer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an amazing journey to redemption of not only two souls, but redemption of a marriage.

I was delighted to read how one woman determined to restore her marriage following God's plan, and not her own. She did not give up even when it seemed the best thing to do. Amazing.

There were quite a number of typos, though. And it is completely narrative without dialogue. Since the book is full of conversation, the narrative gets a bit tedious at times. It would be much better to break the paragraphs up with dialogue.

The story is very well organized, and the fact that it is true gives it a wonderful testimony feel to it. The restoration story is powerful, uplifting, and filled with hope. I know that God allowed Erica to walk into that valley so that she could testify to how glorious He is toward His children.

If you are not an editor or an English teacher, you probably won't notice many typos. The book is worthy and is a keeper.

Engraved in His palm,
Gina Burgess
http://ginaburgessediting.com

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In Good Company by Jan Turano

MY REVIEW

This is one of the best romances I've read in a long time. Deeply fun, characters very well developed, in fact so fun you can find yourself counting them as friends and giving them advice.

The novel has just the right amount of humor, suspense, and abrasion between characters to make it one of the most interesting books of 2015.

Millie and Everett both have a lot of grown to do, and it is inevitable that they each feel the other needs to change the most. It is quite delightful how they manage to help each other become not only better persons, but also realize that when together they make a whole.

The children are delightful scamps, and Turano does an excellent job illustrating how children might behave when they've lost both beloved parents, and when they are trying to find an even keel in unknown waters without the undivided attention of their guardian. Millie comes along in a very unconventional way to help guide them in this turbulent time of their lives. But the fun starts literally when Everett and Millie bump into each other.

This is 5 of 5 stars. I will definitely be purchasing all of Jan Turano's books.

Irish Meadows by Susan Anne Mason





MY REVIEW

This is a pleasing period piece romp. Love abounds for two sisters who want to please their father, but their hearts just won't behave. It isn't the best Bethany House has offered Christian readers, but it ranks fairly high because it is fairly well written and interesting. I give it 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Character development relies mostly upon the looks of a person rather than upon actual character dynamics. It is difficult to truly develop a character when there are so many to develop. There are the two sisters, the mama and papa, a brother and two little ones not to mention the love interests. The novel gets slow in places where it needs to move quickly, and runs right past some spots that could be savored by the reader if the author had spent more time developing the characters. I particularly like the way Mason develops the pouty Colleen. Well done! She may be the most interesting character in the whole novel.

Faith plays out very well among the characters. It is softly done with a gentle touch, and that is so much better than the in-your-face kind.

The story line is very good, and the author uses humor in unexpected style with adds a great deal to interest. One great thing is that there are no startling modern-day references. But there is a lot of head hopping (remember this is where the reader is dragged from one character's point of view to the next in a willy-nilly fashion without well developed transitions, which is quite startling). When readers are jerked around like that, it makes the story flow seem more like stuttering rather than a smooth run through calm waters and a fast flow over white water rapids. When well done, it isn't even noticeable.

Wednesday

The Tuning Station The Tuning Station by Chris A. Crawford

The Tuning StationThe Tuning Station by Chris A. Crawford
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A stunning moral for Christians today is tucked neatly in this unique, page-turner. Chris Crawford has delved into the minds of Ted the Christian and Ted the Unbeliever. There is a little twist with one of them having Asperger's syndrome which is a neat psychological touch.

The novel is well-written, with just enough twists and turns to make the story interesting, but not so much that it is convoluted. The conclusion of why one Ted went one way and the other went the opposite way is quite intriguing. It was one of those things that made me take a hard look at my own Christian walk to see if I could have caused this kind of conundrum. Since we can't change the past, but we can certainly determine the future I decided to change a couple of things. I don't know if this is what Chis was aiming for, but it sure did give me pause without listening to a sermon.

Character development is quite good. The point of view is in the first person, which I love! The author did a very good job with spreading just enough information on the bread to give it plenty of flavor, too. No information overload, in other words, and development of the story is an extraordinary, smooth flowing river. Some white water here and there, and one or two waterfalls that make your stomach lurch in that satisfying way good stories do.

This book is definitely a keeper. I think it would be a great read for new Christians and for older teen readers. The apologetics are good, and the atheist argument is also amazing.

I gave this book 4 stars because there's no way to give 4.5 stars. There are some grammar problems that made me have to reread a few paragraphs to understand them, and quite a few solecisms. Since both Ted-s taught college level courses, the solecisms were reading flow stoppers for me. However, these problems probably would not matter a hill of beans to most readers. I give the book 4.5 stars.



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Trouble At Leighton Hall: (KerryAnne Dawson) by Sherry Chamblee

Trouble At Leighton Hall: (KerryAnne Dawson) (KerryAnne Dawson Mysteries Book 2)Trouble At Leighton Hall: (KerryAnne Dawson) by Sherry Chamblee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a good story for the younger crowd. It has enough twists and turns to make for a good story flow. The target audience is 11-16 year-olds, and this offering has a lot to offer with a strong female character who actually admits when she's wrong.

Only one character is well-developed, which is the main character. The other characters (and there are a lot of them) are there for story content. That isn't an altogether bad thing when considering the target audience. With the story being about Bible college students, there isn't much love interest going on, but I suppose that will develop as each KerryAnne story progresses. I really like the way Chamblee highlights characteristics about Tim (the potential love interest for KerryAnne) that are not only likable, but also are reasons to love someone.

Far too many authors these days throw two people together and hack away at them until they fit together making them fall in love with no reasons for love to develop. That makes for a very awkward love story. Not so with this book.

This is a mystery series, and Chamblee never takes her eyes off the objective to solve the mystery. That is quite an accomplishment.

Good faith aspect without being preachy. There are several typos and grammatical errors, but they don't dam up the story flow too much. I'm taking 1 star off for that.

I recommend this book giving it a 4 of 5 stars.

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They're Rugby Boys, Don't You Know? by Natalie Vellacott

They're Rugby Boys, Don't You Know?They're Rugby Boys, Don't You Know? by Natalie Vellacott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

True story of a woman on a mission to help street boys in the Philippines.

I really liked this book. I love how God works in so many people is so many different ways to reach the lost souls in this ugly world. I think the most striking thing about the rugby boys is how invisible they were to most people. That made me cry.

Natalie Vellacott walks with you arm-in-arm while she tells you about her adventures with the rugby boys. These guys get high on solvents (rugby), and this is why they are called rugby boys. She introduces you to each young one as she tells their story. You find yourself falling for each one, and praying for them when you are not reading. I couldn't help myself. I know their stories unfolded from 2011 to 2013, but I couldn't help but worry over them. I recognized the demonic oppressions and possessions in these children's behaviors. That may be shocking to some, but it is what it is.

After reading this book, I feel like I have actually been to the Philippines. My neighbor down the street is from there, so I could hear the boys talk in her accent :)

Natalie makes sure that God receives all the glory. She shows how God works in His mysterious ways in how she made it back to the country after her commitment to Logos Hope was finished. How God provides for her ministry, how He led her to a new, but similar, ministry. After reading this, you'll want to log on to her Facebook page and keep track of these homeless boys that God ministers to through her.

God used Natalie and her shipmates to make a huge difference in these young lives. Although, she leaves you hanging about one young man, the story is extremely satisfying, well-written, and free of grammar/typos that made reading this a very pleasant experience.

(Americans need to get over the British spellings of certain words. I stumbled a bit until I realized that's just the way the Brits talk.)

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Tuesday

Creole Princess by Beth White



MY REVIEW...

This is an extraordinary and very interesting look into Southern society during the Revolutionary War era. White deals with the pain of slavery, and I believe her writing reveals quality research. She does not spout the same old stuff written for decades about relationships between masters and slaves.

White also explores the way families can splinter when fathers become too set and rigid to understand their children. The contrasts of thoughts, feelings and emotions in this book is gripping.

Characterizations are developed very well, and personalities sharpen each other rather than grating or blending into each other. Dialogue could use some tweaking, but White does incorporate the syntax of that period quite well in the dialogue.

All in all, I give this book 5 of 5 stars. A well told tale.

ABOUT THE BOOK...

On the colonial Gulf Coast, the beautiful young Lyse Lanier is torn between loyalty to her family and a handsome Spanish stranger with a secret mission.

Friday

Why does a great author need an editor?




You have a masterpiece all completed. It is a work of art. Until you have it in your hands in printed form and you start reading. There are mistakes all over the place. Misspelled words... How can that happen when you you spellchecked three times? What happened to that quirky character that in your writing seemed so funny and added so much spice? In the printed version, he comes off as lame and abrasive with no compassion. But what can you do? The book is in print, and that self-publishing company is going to charge you for making so many changes!

We need to rewind to the time before that manuscript ever left to brave the world.

Think of an editor as Coco Chanel or Christian Dior of the publishing world. But you don't have to pay fashion designer prices to get fashion designer quality in your writing. The investment in the right editing has a very high return of investment because you become a better writer. After you see the suggested corrections, and see how much better your work is, you can skillfully incorporate those changes and even apply them to your next work of art. That makes you a better writer.

Your work is a masterpiece because no one else could have told the story exactly the way you have. No one else thought of the story, or studied the subject like you did for that article. Yet, the clothes your work is wearing are not fashion designer quality. They are definitely serviceable, and enduring, but sending your work out into the world without dressing it up to the nines reflects badly on you and can tarnish your reputation.

In choosing an editor, everything depends upon what kind of editing you need. Every solid piece of writing can be tweaked and trimmed into excellent writing. An author is too close to the work to be able to see the whole clearly. An author needs to be married to the idea, but not to the words. A professional can give you on the job training in how to write more clearly, how to use active voice instead of passive voice, how to develop your characters into vibrant, lifelike humans instead of caricatures.  Your work will be like a river with white water rapids and still water depths.

How to choose an editor?

I completely understand about the sample edit thing. Five pages is hardly enough to display the skill of an editor, but it takes so much time to edit some things because of many reasons: a) the author has English as a second language; b) the author does not have the work perfected to be ready for a comprehensive edit because the author wants the work "cleaned up" so more writing can be done (as in only a first draft is complete; c) the author has no clue where the story is going; and d) the author does not know what kind of editing he/she needs.

I never knew that I was such a bad proofreader until I had a professional proofreader edit one of my books. I thought I had done a really good job proofing the thing. I received back a gold mine of corrections that saved me a lot of embarrassment because I self-pubbed that book. I am truly proud to market my book because I know it is a professional presentation of my thoughts and studies. That is priceless. I also realized that I was far too close to the work. My words were my deepest thoughts so I didn't realize I had so many common errors that writers make until I saw them highlighted by my worthy proofreader.

Another excellent benefit from having your work professionally edited is that it makes the author a better writer. There are many people out there with Bachelor's and Master's degrees who still can't put a really good fiction book together. An editor can see the big picture. An editor is far enough away from the author's work (both fiction and non-fiction) to identify the holes in story or thesis, give great advice on characterizations, make sure that dialogue is snappy and character-unique instead of all characters talking the same (as I've read many books with this problem).

What an author needs is more value-realizing of the great investment that editing is.
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