Review: Broken Ground

Broken Ground Broken Ground by Val McDermid
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love the UK background and culture, and that makes this book quite good. The character development and environment is very good.

The book really isn't about the mystery so much as the characters and motivations. And that makes this book quite unique. I haven't read anything by Val McDermid before, but I definitely will check out more of her books.

The plot is intriguing, though, and the inheritance is surprising.

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Review: The Last Tourist

The Last Tourist The Last Tourist by Olen Steinhauer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This will be a short review because it was extremely hard to get into the book. I love spy thrillers, especially ones like Robert Ludlum and Alister MacLean wrote. Steinhauer doesn't write like them. Of course, this is 4th in a series so it's difficult to get into something that been going on and developing for 3 books.

I liked the fast pace, the foreign places, some transitions (needed a lot more to keep the pace from being so disjointed), and the brief descriptions to try to bring new readers up to date. However, in order to completely understand this book and not get lost in all the characters and the switching from first person to third person, one should read the first 3 books or at least a couple of them.

I didn't like the number of characters I had to keep up with, the switching from first person to third person, the lack of really good transitions to keep the pace a flow instead of jump, jerk, start, flow, stop, etc.

The writing was good, so I will check out another of Olen Steinhauer's books

3 of 5 stars

Thank you Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.

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Review: The Blue Cloak

The Blue Cloak The Blue Cloak by Shannon McNear
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I think Shannon McNear did an excellent job with this gruesome tale of two serial killers in 1784. I admire how she remained a bit vague with the gory details of each murder. My imagination is strong enough to have filled in the details and the murders were quite shocking and terrible.

I highly recommend this book for it's faith value and how McNear's characters focus on prayer to defeat the satanic forces at work in these two serial killers. I am appalled at their complete sociopathic and psychopathic lack of regard for human life.

I also agree with the author that the women these men owned were so co-dependent they could not leave. Two hundred years ago, people didn't understand co-dependency, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen regularly. It is a huge problem in some marriages even today.

Timing seemed a little off, though. She made it seem like letters and communications were really fast rather than taking weeks and months to travel from one part of the country to another. That is the ONLY thing I could fault.

This is 5-star writing on a subject that is quite dark. It may be too dark for some readers, and certainly the subject is not good for younger readers because it is so dark. However, McNear does an excellent job of differentiating man's free will of choice and God's control over justice.

Thank you Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.

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Dare to Live Greatly

Dare to Live Greatly is a wonderful book but has a several technical errors (the reason for the 4 stars instead of 5 stars). I can't help but read books as an editor because that's my day job :) so these typos, punctuation, and capitalization errors were distracting for me -- they probably won't be detected or be distracting to the general public except for teachers, and professors, and other editors :). For some reason, there were a lot of things missed, which can happen even to the best professionals.

The  content far exceeds and overcomes the annoyance. This is a super correlation between Navy SEAL training and living the Christian Life. Living Christian is hard and those who do it well do it well because they want to please God and be obedient to Christ. God gives us the ultimate training, and that is on the job training that we get in a nasty, dark world. Fowler gives you an amazing, clear vision of how to tackle living Christian.

The content is very good, very uplifting and encouraging. He not only tackles common challenges and opportunities that Christians face daily, but he also shows how to overcome them and capitalize on them. That is often times rare in these types of books. The examples are excellent, the quotes are very apropos, and the SEAL steps for dealing with anything in life are way beyond good. I can definitely tell that God was the guiding hand in this endeavor. A joy to read, study, hide in my heart. Fowler's biblical knowledge is a pleasure to read because the insight is clearly Holy Spirit led and God taught, not man-taught. Another rare thing in this type of book.

The rat sandwich and the Tijuana sludge bath were a bit hard to take. I have an excellent, overcharged imagination and I could taste that spoiled rat, and I could smell and feel that sludge. That is excellent writing. However, it is also stomach churning. My professional self is applauding and saying great job, but my personal self was gagging. It was a bit hard for me to stay focused, especially when he mentioned them while making another point or two in the narrative. I definitely appreciated the descriptions of events and places... I could feel the cold and the heat, and generally used most of my senses while reading. Excellent.

Fowler made living the Christian life come alive with purpose. This is a keeper.


Review: Home: Interstellar: Merchant Princess

Home: Interstellar: Merchant Princess Home: Interstellar: Merchant Princess by Ray Strong
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It took me awhile to realize why I wasn't getting into the story. The premise is really exciting, and the obstacles are intriguing. There is a conspiracy going on that is extremely far-reaching.

The technology is very light. I like real science in my sci-fi, so this was a tiny stretch for me.

So what was the deal? Why couldn't I care deeply for these misplaced children who were facing enormous psychological and physical problems?

The story was told in a style that had no passion. I read a newspaper and get more passion. I didn't feel like I was right there with the characters because it seemed the author didn't care all that much for the characters. The reader can't smell or taste or feel much of what's going on because the story is told from an atmosphere as antiseptic as space is a vacuum.

When the inciting incident of a story happens in the backstory, it is very difficult to get into the story.

All that said, I liked it but it didn't make me hungry for more.

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Review: Meow Matrimony

Meow Matrimony Meow Matrimony by Lisa Lickel
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked this story. I love cats, so the cat aspect was really fun. But something was sort of missing and then I realized this is book 2 of a series and I had missed book 1. That must be where the character development happened, right? Because there isn't much character development here.

There is a lot happening in this story, which makes it feel like real life. But sometimes it felt like clutter clouding the issue of the mystery, and the mystery every so slowly was solved. Nothing fast paced here, and a lot of distractions. Distractions are not all bad, either. However, the main thing was character without much development so they seemed more cardboard rather than alive and lively. That is why it gets 3 stars instead of 4 or 5 stars.

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Review: A Perfect Silhouette

A Perfect Silhouette A Perfect Silhouette by Judith McCoy Miller
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Good story premise. Excellent historical read. Characters are fairly well developed and the romance is good. Trust issues, Faith issues, and Class Status issues are themed.

I really enjoyed this story and the historical depiction of the workings of a textile mill. After I read this book, I ran across a couple of seasons of The Mill, a BBC production inspired by true stories of an 1840-50s textile mill in England. The depiction was so similar to what I read in this book. I was further impressed.

The major thing that kept this from being a 4 or 5 star read is there are quite a few unresolved problems -- widowed sister and family-what happened to them? The hero gave up his pampered son place to find out from a worker's POV what working a textile mill was like and what needed changing - nothing was resolved here about the changes.

People are complex and, of course, meet Jesus in many different ways. One character gets tied up with Jesus in buttons and bows without any real reason why. We all have motivations and this woman's motivation of selfishness and snobbery was not addressed. Just too much fairy tale resolutions that kept this book from being a really good satisfying read.

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Review: The Noble Guardian

The Noble Guardian The Noble Guardian by Michelle Griep
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As a stand-alone, this story is top notch. While it may be a trilogy, it does not depend upon the previous books, very straight forward and quite an excellent read.

As a historical read, it left a lot to be desired.

There were far too many modernisms in dialogue ("save your drama," "suit yourself,") and narration that would jerk me back to the present. There were no rubber pants back in those days, so the sheer work of hygiene would be almost insurmountable on a road trip because diapers were rarely changed and the waste was not washed out. The smell would have been unbearable in a closed in coach. Historical readers care about this kind of thing.

This is the problem with today's historical romance. No one seems to care about historical accuracy and authenticity--such as an upper class lady going cross country without a lady's maid or companion. For Regency times, this would be enough to completely ruin a woman's reputation to the point of equating her with harlotry. Griep did a good job of making the reader believe going back was impossible and the only way was to go forward not matter what awaited. But--servants and the lower class innkeepers and merchants were just as snotty as the upper class. No innkeeper would allow a woman traveling by herself to have a room. That would ruin his reputation as a good place to stay.

Pardon my little rant here but no gentleman of those times would consider taking a gentlewoman on a trip like this without a maid or companion. Samuel is written as a gentleman and sharply compared to a born gentleman who doesn't act as such. This puts it in the realm of a fairy tale, but wait! Even fairy tales keep princes in their correct social status.

However, the storyline and the romance was pretty good. So if you don't care about authenticity, you'll enjoy the read.

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Review: A Silken Thread

A Silken Thread A Silken Thread by Kim Vogel Sawyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As a historical read, this one is top notch. Sawyer does excellent research. Each character has just enough backstory to broaden the culture aspect of the different classes and motivations of the characters. Very well done.

The settings and descriptions are also woven intricately into the narration adding to the overall interest aspect of the book.

However, there are so many characters with motivations to explore that it feels just a bit jumbled. Although, the main characters are very believable and act/react according to their traits. That part is satisfying. So all in all, it is a worthy read.

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Review: Synapse

Synapse Synapse by Steven James
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I have mixed feelings about this book.

I adore Sci-Fi. I grew up reading sci-fi and all the techy things that go with it. Almost no tech stuff to bite into in this story, but lots of stuff to think about. However, I couldn't get over the fact that an AI has no soul, therefore an AI doesn't need Jesus to save something he doesn't have. The question of who can and who can't believe is a non-sequitur. So when the premise of the book became a non-factor, I lost all interest because I just didn't care about the characters.

What irritated me the most was all the different points of view. That came off to me as a trick Just-To-See-If-I-Can-Do-It kind of trick. To me it spoiled the whole flow of the storyline and was the main reason I quit reading the book, not the content nor the lack of character development.

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Review: Breath of Joy!: Ah, Autumn

Breath of Joy!: Ah, Autumn Breath of Joy!: Ah, Autumn by Kathy Joy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Here are the best thoughts gathered in one enticing place that will bring back memories and spark new ones.

Quite an intriguing picture book. I am honored to have been chosen to review Kathy's book 2 in the series. What an amazing cache of beautiful Autumn moments. Perfect for your coffee table, to start conversations, or just to walk through and savor.

Highly recommend this book. It's a keeper!

5 of 5 stars

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Review: The Killing Tide

The Killing Tide The Killing Tide by Dani Pettrey
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Try as I might, I could not get into this story. I think it is because I really did not like Gabby at all. I've been a journalist and the things Gabby did are things that could have gotten me fired from my job. Recklessness as depicted here and in other things such as movies and TV is not admired in journalists and reporters. So be aware of that mindset when you see I gave this only two stars.

Please understand I really enjoy Dai Pettrey novels. She's a great writer and good researcher, but she fell down on this one. But then everyone has a right to fail at least once.

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