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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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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Review: Ashley Bell

Ashley Bell Ashley Bell by Dean Koontz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm not sure this book was actually ready to be read. There are about 10,000 words that need to be edited out, only then will it make a fine suspense thriller. This isn't in the literary category that The City was in, it's just plain too wordy.

Although, the character development is superb. I would know these people if I met them on the street. The dialogue is natural, and everyone talks in their own character. Even the supporting characters are well-developed. That takes tremendous skill. But there are some paths that Koontz takes the reader down that truly bog down the story flow. Koontz does do very well with description, but somehow this book doesn't coalesce into his regular tale-weaving style.

If Random will toss this to an editor that can do the story justice rather than taking it raw from the author, this could be a best seller, or at least make a good showing. As it is now, that won't happen.

Advance copy from Netgalley...

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Lightless by C. A. Higgins


Riveting to the very end, real science fiction with lots of science. But the science doesn't boggle the mind, or dam up the story flow.

With that said, I have to say the ending falls flat. The author builds such a crescendo, and there's this little pop at the end instead of a huge BOOM. 

Character development is superb. I really understood all the characters and their motivations. Just a marvelous character-driven story. First, the author uses just two points of view, until an unexpected third character enters the story flow and drives the story in turbo gear. An amazing job. Every character is changed in some way by the events, or their motivations. That is classic storytelling at its best.

There is enough description given for the reader to build this ship-world in his or her imagination. That is superb story development. Your don't have to back track or reimagine something because the author slips in overmuch description after you've decided on the color of the walls and the carpet. It is just enough so you get the idea without bogging down the story flow with superfluous description. 

One other thing, though. The editor could have removed at least 5,000 - 7,000 words and made the writing much tighter and the story much more tension-filled. If only the ending was a bit different this would have been a whip-crack of a novel.


The deeply moving human drama of Gravity meets the nail-biting suspense of Alien in this riveting science fiction debut. With bold speculation informed by a degree in astrophysics, C. A. Higgins spins an unforgettable “locked spaceship” mystery guaranteed to catapult readers beyond their expectations—and into brilliantly thrilling new territory.

Serving aboard the Ananke, an experimental military spacecraft launched by the ruthless organization that rules Earth and its solar system, computer scientist Althea has established an intense emotional bond—not with any of her crewmates, but with the ship's electronic systems, which speak more deeply to her analytical mind than human feelings do. But when a pair of fugitive terrorists gain access to the Ananke, Althea must draw upon her heart and soul for the strength to defend her beloved ship.

While one of the saboteurs remains at large somewhere on board, his captured partner—the enigmatic Ivan—may prove to be more dangerous. The perversely fascinating criminal whose silver tongue is his most effective weapon has long evaded the authorities' most relentless surveillance—and kept the truth about his methods and motives well hidden.

As the ship's systems begin to malfunction and the claustrophobic atmosphere is increasingly poisoned by distrust and suspicion, it falls to Althea to penetrate the prisoner's layers of intrigue and deception before all is lost. But when the true nature of Ivan's mission is exposed, it will change Althea forever—if it doesn't kill her first.


The Most Famous Illegal Goose Creek Parade by Virginia Smith


I live in a small town. I know these characters! But... You don't have to live in a small town to enjoy this story. However, having visited a small town or at least having watched the Andy Griffith show will heighten your enjoyment just because you'll pick up on all the nuances.

I loved this book. The characters are wonderful. This is the kind of story that makes reading such a joy, and makes you want to leave everything else undone so you can fly away to Goose Creek! I'm still chuckling just thinking about it ... a true, sparkling jewel!

Millie has has decided that Al will need something to do when he retires. She's been married to him for ever so long and knows better that he what is good for him. I have watched many men retire thinking they will finally have time to do all those round-to-its, but only to find out there was way to much time in the day. Depression sets in, and that can lead to all sorts of problems. Anyone thinking to retire should take note... God did not call Abraham until he was 75!!

There's no preaching or even a lot of on-your-sleeve faith in the book. Yet, the wisdom shines, the patience glows, and dealing with frustration helps our souls to stretch especially when our lungs are exercised with a few belly laughs. Reading this book is good exercise.

Make sure you put this book on your reading list. Buy one for your mother, too! Make sure you put one in your church library, too! 

Five of five stars


In this first book of the Tales from the Goose Creek B&B, you’ll fall in love with a small town that feels like coming home. Its quirky characters and their many shenanigans will make you laugh out loud as they touch a place in your heart.
Even though retirement is still three years away, Al Richardson is counting the days. He anticipates many enjoyable years in which every day feels like Saturday. But Al’s wife, Millie, has different plans for their retirement. When she learns that a Victorian-era home is up for sale, Millie launches a full-blown campaign to convince Al that God’s plan for them is to turn that house into a B&B.

But a B&B won’t be the only change for the small Kentucky town. A new veterinarian has hung up her shingle, but she’s only got one patient—the smelly dog belonging to her part-time receptionist. And sides are being taken in the issue of the water tower, which needs a new coat of paint…but no one can agree who should paint it.
The situation is coming to a head. Who could have imagined a town protest over a water tower? And who would believe it could culminate in an illegal parade?

Get lost in a novel that reminds you why you love reading.

Chilvalrous by Dina Sleiman



I enjoyed this sequel much more than I did the first one. The first one was too much "the end justifies the means" and way too much adult motivations and actions from children, so it didn't come across as real.

This book is much better done, more believable. However, there is still very much of a fantasy about it. Except for Joan of Arc, history never records a woman being all about fighting. So Gwendolyn is in a class all by herself. However, the writing is so good you never really notice it.

Character development is very well done. Sleiman has two points of view, and they are so smoothly done the story flow is very good. Page-turning action along with heart-rending emotional challenges of the Middle Ages makes this a wonderful keeper.

I liked the way Sleiman weaves faith into the story line. I especially like how the characters grow and mature as the story unfolds. Most authors these days think that a series of happenings is enough, but to weave happenings with faith and character development is a talent that Dina Sleiman exhibits beautifully in this novel. 

Four of five stars!



With Her Future In Jeopardy, This Unforgettable Heroine Won't Go Down
Without a Fight!

Strong and adventurous Gwendolyn Barnes longs to be a knight like her chivalrous brothers, but her parents view her only as a marriage pawn. When her domineering father makes plans to see her wed to a brutish man, Gwendolyn must fight for her future.

She's surprised, however, for that clash to include a handsome, good-hearted newcomer. Allen of Ellsworth arrives in Edendale searching for his place in the world, but he finds in Gwendolyn the most unexpected of women.

Tournaments, intrigue, and battles--along with twists and turns aplenty--await these two as they struggle to find love, identity, and their true destinies.

Advance Praise

Praise for Valiant Hearts series!"Sleiman launches an action-packed, historical series of adventure and romance, starring a strong, intelligent female Robin Hood who lives up to the famous outlaw's reputation. This fun read makes a great adult-YA crossover for Robin Hood fans who enjoy a twist to a classic tale."
--Library Journal starred review of Dauntless

Review: Bathsheba: Reluctant Beauty

Bathsheba: Reluctant Beauty Bathsheba: Reluctant Beauty by Angela Elwell Hunt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I adore Angela Hunt's novels. The way she writes puts in right inside the life of her characters. Sometimes, I've even found myself praying for one of her characters...

But this book, not so much.

I guess in well-known Bible stories I have already built a "vision" of what went on so being faced with something different is a bit shocking.

However, the book is extremely well written. The characters come to life right out of Biblical pages. Hunt has done a superb job in research, and you can almost taste the dust raised by the feet of the people in this novel.

I do recommend it, especially for anyone who would like to better understand the society and times of David's day.

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The Lion and the Rose by Ricardo Bruni



I love stories set in times gone by. It doesn't matter what age, either. 

This one is set in the 1500s, and was originally written in Italian. Add to it that its a murder mystery, and how good can it get?

 Well... as it turns out the book is just a little bit on the tedious side. Character development is not as good as it should be, the mystery/tension is basically put on the back burner while the reader tries to understand the motivations of a monk called to Venice to solve the mystery. 

Instead of one mystery, you've got three to unravel, and because of that, none of them are done well.

I think the potential for a great book is here especially with all the ingredients, but the editing was not good so the story fell flat. Terror hovers just beyond reach, and with the number of characters the reader must keep up with make the book rates just 2 stars.



Translated by Aaron Maines
In sixteenth-century Venice three bodies surface in the dark waters of the Canal Grande. Entrenched in a terrible war with the Turks and caught in a political struggle between power-hungry Pope Alexander VI and the newly elected Doge Loredan, the people of Venice fear that a demon has come to exact divine punishment for their sins.
Doge Loredan is determined to find the real culprit before the Pope can turn the people against him. To do so, he hires unorthodox German monk Mathias to investigate the murders. Soon Lorenzo Scarpa, a young printer and nephew to one of the victims, joins in the search. The mystery leads them into Venice’s underground printing industry, where they learn of a dangerous book hidden somewhere in the city, a book whose secrets could determine the destiny of the Republic—a book that others are more than willing to kill for.


Review: Broken Windows

Broken Windows Broken Windows by Deb Brammer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is definitely a good teen read. The characters struggle with real-life challenges. That is good. While some answers naturally appear, others hover just out of grasp, and that is very much like real-life.

I liked the way these young Christian adults wrestled with faith challenges and questions. I liked the way they finally understood that Christians are family. Character development was good. Some were strong, others became stronger, but the main characters were developed well. The children were so much like today's kids that have never lived in Christian homes. I could feel their pain.

The dialogue is teenage level. It isn't snappy, or all that real-feeling. Brammer should focus on honing the dialogue in her next work.

Plot is good, but takes a little while to get moving. The head jumping is a bit jolting as the reader is jerked from one character to another without a well-plotted transition. Although, I have to qualify my remarks with the fact that I really hate head jumping. The mystery is actually a subplot. The book is not a mystery, but more of a Christian life study. It does not come across as preachy, which is well done. The situations and actions may be a bit heavy-handed, but that is so that the reader can easily see the problems and where the character should grow. That is also well done.

I liked the book. If the dialogue were better I would give it 4 stars, as it is, I give it 3 stars.

I am grateful to Deb for being in the Christian Books Only group and allowing me to read her book for my honest review.

Engraved in His palm,

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Review: Nirvana

Nirvana Nirvana by J. R. Stewart
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

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

I do love science fiction and this promised to be good. Well, it has a great deal of potential to be really good, but the actual delivery is not quite there, yet.

This story is not very well organized. I was being jerked hither and yon, and I was constantly trying to figure out what was going on. I have a vivid imagination, and can keep up with a fast paced novel, but this was too disjointed and jumped between characters without any transitions so readers are left wondering where they are in the story.

The character development was great at first, then dwindles into two-dimensional versions that are moved about like chess pawns rather than driving the story themselves. I think it is supposed to be a series of scenes that tell the story, but it doesn't quite mesh correctly so it reads like grinding gears. The journal entries read better...

If this story had some really good editing, it would be excellent. Without the editing, it falls flat and does not fulfill all the description promises. It isn't typos, it is story flow that has a major problem.

I realize this story may have great impact on something that is very close to reality... virtual reality. It is scary what is being done and is being considered. This story shines a bright light into this rather dark industry. Kudos to the author for that!

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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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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

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In Good Company by Jan Turano


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


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.


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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Creole Princess by Beth White


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.


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.


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.


Beast of Stratton by Renee Blare


There is a lot in this story to like. At times the story whooshes along so fact you barely hear the railroad crossing warning before the train has passed. However, other times it moves really slow, but the prose is staccato like high heels clacking along a cement platform.

Character development is nicely done. You meet a young woman who has a mission to find out where her father is. You have to figure out that she's going undercover to the job where he was last seen. She's and architect, but is pretending to be a secretary (she was one a long time ago, so it's okay, she knows what to do). We get a good feel for Aimee, we know she's a firecracker, and that she's good at what she does. We also know that she loves her father AND she loves him for good reasons: He's faithful, true, honest, etc. so the characters are very believable.

I like the way we meet the Beast of Stratton; in your face and sort of growling. It's a long time into the story before you figure out what his problem is, and why he's so grumpy.There is one character, I think it's one character who is usually called Ian, but something Sebastian. That part was very confusing, so I'll tell you that he's the head of security and he really is a good guy.

About style...
Blare makes a lot of points in the narrative without a lot of care that the reader truly understands what is going on. I get this kind of writing because I wrote this way a long time ago. It's to be efficient with words so that the words carry a lot of impact. However, the word economy here is very distracting to the storyline. The reader has to waste time trying to figure out exactly what is going on, and sometimes who is doing the action. That dams up the story flow, and can actually keep the reader from enjoying the suspense. This is the fault of the editor mostly, not the author. Authors tend to get caught up in story telling and frequently we leave out words and sentences because our brains are working faster than we can type. The editor on the other hand must make sure the story flows fluidly so the reader can shoot the rapids as well as savor the deep, quiet waters. That is what makes a good story a great novel.

Dialogue needs some work as well. Sometimes it's hard to tell who is talking to whom. Although, what the characters say to each other is believable.

For the ending to have the kind of huge impact that I know the author is going for, more time should have been spent on the mother. It's great what happens in the end, but frankly I didn't get to know the mother so I really didn't care if she was forgiven or not. Maybe you will feel differently about it. Maybe I'm just getting old and I don't like the sound of high heels walking across a concrete platform. I like the sound of steady rain on the roof, and splashes of puddles, and white water rivers because it's all going somewhere with a purpose that is clearly discerned.

 I liked the book. It is interesting and a very good premise, so I give it 3 stars out of 5.


 He appears the beast, but she sees the man...

Architect Aimee Hart, determined to locate her father, infiltrates Miles Stratton’s engineering firm as a secretary. Her presence wrenches the shaggy, wounded man from his penthouse, and the quest begins.

Betrayed by his best friend, Miles would rather hide than help, especially from the man's daughter. But something's not right. Someone’s trying to destroy Stratton Industrial. A decorated war veteran, he's defended his own before and the Beast of Stratton can do it again.

Even with the enemy at his side.

The Search for Reason by Michael E. Dreher


There are many things that are very good about this book. I think all Christians who have been believers for a while should read this book or at least one similar. We often take our faith for granted never doubting God's existence or His grace. But we do often doubt His mercy else why would we constantly beat our head against the walls for our past sins?

This is a refreshing walk down a path searching for faith in a very reasonable world. Everyone needs to remember what faith is all about, and to know that regardless of our beliefs God really does have our best interests at heart. He's real, and personal, and intimately involved in our lives. This book reminds us of those things, and that is a very good thing.

The beginning is done very well. We have a brief look at what Matthew's life is like; without graphics we get the picture. Then we slip into his thought processes as he muddles about trying to make sense of a gut wrenching blow to his equilibrium when his friend dies. Matt comes face to face with how God can change a person inside out. All this is written very well, and to the point. The character development is excellent, and he's fully believable as a 30-something.

The other characters are drawn with a deft pen as well... the bad influences are really bad, and the good ones are not preachy or prudes. They are just average Christians who have a noticeable heart for God, and are not ashamed of saying so. Michael makes good use of prayer as well.

There is a lot of background story that bogs down the story flow, though. The quest is all about Matthew, not the psychologist so we don't need to go down any side roads with him. That is very distracting and it does not move the story along. Although, the psychologist does help Matt to understand somethings, and Dreher uses that character to tackle some hard questions. The story would move along at a much better pace if all that back story was removed and used in a different book that tackled some of those things that long-time Christians face every day.

Another drawback is that the story is very wordy, and Dreher uses a lot of passive voice verbs instead of action verbs. In his next book, he needs to pay closer attention to verb tense as well. All that said, this is a good first endeavor for a new author. I look forward to more from him.

This book gets 3 stars out of 5. I liked it. If the writing were tightened up quite a bit, and some of the characters' back stories were trimmed, it could get 5 stars.


 Matthew Edwards thought he was living the dream. He was young, successful, and had his sights set on a bright future. Then, out of the blue he received a phone call that turned his world upside down. His childhood best-friend that he had not seen in 15 years, died suddenly, and the news rocked him to his core. After receiving the news, a series of “coincidences” had him searching for answers. Trying to deal with the death of a friend was hard enough, but then he found out that his job might be on the line, as well as the partnership he dreamed of. Nightmares of a faceless child haunted his sleep, and the peace he thought he had in his life had all but vanished. “How much could one person take,” he would wonder, as he tried to piece things together before his life fell apart.

After the funeral, the questions that plagued him left him restless and void. “What’s the reason to all of this? How could God allow this to happen? If he was a God of love, how come there is so much pain and suffering?” More and more, he tried to find the meaning in all of it. “I need to know,” he would think. So at the behest of his mother, he sought answers in a place that he never thought he would; a psychologist. While he found answers to some of his questions, he still felt as if he had a hole in his soul. Without knowing what to do next, or where to find the peace he so desperately needed, he took a step in the direction that he ran from many years before.

Will he be able to find the peace or reason he seeks?


Art of being Broken by Aaron Mark Reimer


There are some sparkling gems of wisdom in this book. Reimer has a beautiful way of telling his stories in a style that is truly down to earth, and very human, and very open about his brokenness. You can tell that some of life's kicks bruised him deeply, but he is positive about how God is the great Healer.

This book would have been much better if it had an introduction telling the reader where he was going, and what his purpose was for writing the book. You don't get a feel for the purpose until you are almost finished reading. Each chapter does have a purpose. But if you are like me, you rarely read the chapter headings, so you miss the purpose of the chapter. I don't have to have things spelled out for me, so I figured out that the book is basically an autopsy of brokenness, or maybe a better term would be anatomy of brokenness. The fact that every person is broken because every person is human is discussed thoroughly. The fact that God heals brokenness when the person is willing to allow Him to, is also explored thoroughly. This goes without saying, but so many people never acknowledge the truth humans are broken and need God to be healthy souls.

This book would be great for small group discussion (and only a 14-week length if you take a chapter each week). You may be able to study 2 chapters a week because the first chapter Fine is followed by Broken Things Are Broken, which is a natural flow. I would suggest highlighting those things that strike your heart with a true resonance, and then discuss those things.

You can't read this book fast, because each chapter needs to be savored as well as pondered. However, you can read it on many different levels. As a devotional type reading a chapter a day, or on a much deeper level if you really want to learn something that will stick with you for longer than a month. I strongly urge youth pastors to consider using this book as a summer study for youth groups. The wisdom imparted here is priceless if you learn it earlier rather than later.

For adults there is a lot of humor, tongue-in-cheek, and tremendous amount of honesty that begs the reader to be honest with himself or herself. So reader beware.

I have to tell you that the book is a bit wordy and takes a little while to get to the point. The chapters do not have a thesis statement at the beginning nor do they have a conclusion statement at the end, so it is a bit difficult to key in on the author's points unless you dig for them. Because of this, I give it 4 of 5 stars.

What if everything isn't fine?
What if there is life outside of our shells?
What if there is beauty underneath our masks?
What if there is healing beyond our brokenness?
What if we could see the image of God in ourselves?
What if God's best art is made from our broken pieces?

In The Art of Being Broken, Aaron Mark Reimer opens up an authentic, sometimes awkward, occasionally hilarious, one-way conversation about our brokenness, the things we use to cover it, and the healing that can come through exposing it.


Review: God's Crime Scene: A Cold-Case Detective Examines the Evidence for a Divinely Created Universe

God's Crime Scene: A Cold-Case Detective Examines the Evidence for a Divinely Created Universe
God's Crime Scene: A Cold-Case Detective Examines the Evidence for a Divinely Created Universe by J. Warner Wallace

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book won't hit the shelves until August 2015, but I read an ARC, and am quite impressed. The perspective is unique, from the point of view of a homicide detective. Looking for all kinds of clues relating to why God is, and why only God could create the universe. If you have ANYone in your family that is agnostic or atheistic, if you have anyone that believes science is above all and end all, then you must get them to read this book.

Wallace presents a wall of evidence that cannot be denied. Step by step, or maybe I should say, brick by brick he builds a solid case for the Intelligent designed, and God-created universe. Everything leads to Christ. You can't go wrong with this book.

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Dead Dog Like Me by Max Davis


Max Davis writes from the heart. He certainly creates characters that are believable and real, especially describing what it's like to topple from an ivory tower. What I like about this journey this novel is that it isn't preachy, and doesn't take you down a lesson-plan path. You get engrossed in the story, and perhaps feel a lot of sympathy for the main character, Nick Gregory. You feel compassion for his wife as well. During the whole book you may not completely understand why you are feeling this compassion for Abbi until the last few chapters. Because...

In the first three or four chapters, a lot of questions are raised. Who is Philip? Why and how did he die? Why did he write a letter and what did the letter say? It takes a long time to clear up this mystery. This novel doesn't need that kind of mystery. There is enough tension and strain and strife without it. All the characters in the book know the answers, and that made me feel like an outsider. When reading a book, I don't like being an outsider at all. That tactic alienates readers. We like to find out things along with the main character. I think the book would do much better without that ploy, so forewarned is forearmed. There are also a ton of flashbacks. Personally, I detest flashbacks. Although this makes the story flow disjointed, it doesn't distract too much or take you out of the story. For me it doesn't work. Again forewarned is forearmed.

It is interesting how this one character, Philip, who is dead, seems to dominate and orchestrate the actions of the characters. We tend to do this in the real world as well. We tend to live in the past allowing past actions, past beliefs, and past thoughts dictate how we act in the present. Davis used this very well in his novel. He explores how we use anger as a shield, and how we Christians hear God, but tend to try to obey under our own power. This book will keep you thinking long after you've read the last page.

Nick Gregory regains consciousness after a horrific car accident to find he’s been transported back in time and that he has become Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son and King Saul’s grandson. Aware that he’s experiencing another man’s life, he has to learn fast. When mega-church pastor, Nick Gregory, regains consciousness after a horrific car accident, he’s on the ground in agonizing pain. Nick realizes he is in a bizarre place – a foreign, parched, ancient land, having been transported back in time to 800 B.C. Unbelievably, he is in the body of a prince named Mephibosheth, a son of Jonathan and King Saul’s grandson. Nick is fully aware of who he is and that he’s now living in Mephibosheth’s body, strangely able to speak and understand Hebrew. This experience helps him see that he, like Mephibosheth, is a broken man desperate for God’s outrageous grace and healing (2 Samuel 9:8). Returning to present day, Nick’s experience motivates a changed life.

Max Davis is the author of over 20 published books and has been featured in USA Today and Publisher’s Weekly, and has appeared on The Today Show and The 700 Club. He holds degrees in Journalism and Biblical Studies and is a much sought-after speaker for churches and organizations worldwide. He and his wife, Alanna, live on 50 beautiful acres in Greenwell Springs, Louisiana.Dead Dog Like Me Website


Justified by Varina Denman


You can always count on David C. Cook to publish great reads. This one is no exception. Justified is Book 2, but you'd never know it if you read it. You don't have to have read Jaded because this one is a complete stand alone. You may be stepping into the middle of a story, but you have a full, satisfying, complete read in Justified.

There are three main characters that are so exquisitely developed you are captivated by the end of the first chapter. I have to admit, I wasn't particularly fond of Fawn in the beginning, then I understood why by the end of the second chapter. After that, I couldn't put the book down. I ached for her hurts, and rejoiced over her small triumphs. I warned her not to trust the rat who had gotten her pregnant, and rejoiced as she grew fond of and fell in love with a very good, Christian man. 

There is a reason why the reader is taken into the head of the antagonist, but I really detest head jumping. That kind of writing is lazy in my opinion. However, Denman does a good job with the transitions so the head jumping isn't such a reading shock. I still think there is no need for the head jumping into the baby's father's head. His motives and his thought processes are quite discernible by his actions. 

Fawn's character is quite poignant. As her faith grows from mere surface platitudes and actions into a deeply felt heart change, she becomes a tender, true-blue Christian rather than a brittle play-like Christian. I really like the way Coach points out her flaws in such a gentle, but firm way. Without believers being held accountable, believers never grow. This story illustrates that adage marvelously. 

Denman also illustrates certain characteristics that Christians are gifted with because we are children of God: Strength of character, willingness to change our attitude so that we align more correctly with God's will, tender mercies, forgiveness, discernment, and other more complicated characteristics. 

Several facets of human behavior are studied in this novel. One that really is not a biblical principle is forgiving one's self. No place in the Bible talks about this, however believers have a tendency to be harder on themselves than on others. They assume they must forgive themselves, when actually it is Satan that is using our past to kill and destroy our present peace and forgiveness from God. Other human behaviors are romance, need for comforting, motherly instincts, strength of character to resist others trying to direct our path. These characteristics are deftly infused into the storyline to make the story flow in river-like grace: smooth and deep, to white water rapids, then back to smooth and deep. It is a wonderful, exciting ride. The book is well worth the money, and is definitely a keeper. Five of five stars.


In a small Texas town ruled by gossip, Fawn Blaylock believes others are justified in condemning her untimely pregnancy. Stifled by guilt, she yearns for grace while the local football coach treats her with gentle respect.

Justified perfectly captures the rhythm and romance of life in a small town, telling the unforgettable story of a woman searching for renewal, a man looking beyond what others see, and a community torn between judgment and love. It is the unforgettable story of broken dreams, second chances, and relentless hope.


Together with You by Victoria Bylin


Fascinating study of how a father who determines to be a father travels from point A to final destination of being a father. As Carly says, "It's ... love."

The two main characters have so much in common in that they beat themselves up for what they did in the past. Frankly, this author, Victoria Bylin, seems to think there is merit in "forgiving yourself." I've studied that, and don't believe that is a biblical principle. When you self-recriminate you are buying into one of Satan's guilt tactics and that builds a wall keeping you away from God and His forgiveness. Whoever thinks something you have done is unforgivable is listening to a lie, and is being colossally arrogant thinking that you are better and bigger than God in this forgiveness business.

Setting that aside, I think Bylin did an excellent job with research. I commend her for highlighting the fetal alcohol syndrome to America's women. The lasting effects of it are devastating! Great job in weaving this storyline around a special needs child.

Characters are very well done, While we are subjected to the inside thinking of a 13-year-old boy and a 16-year-old boy along with his girlfriend, Bylin does an excellent job of building their characters through the eyes of their father and the nanny, Carly. Superbly done. Joy to read. Brought back memories of my nephews. We do take a trip or two into the head of Ryan's special needs daughter. Quite interesting to get a view of how a child with FAS thinks and assimilates information. (Like I said, this chick did some excellent research.)

The two main characters' development is also well done. A bit on the whiny side when they keep beating themselves up over the past. I get the panic thing with Carly, and the guilt thing with Ryan's adultery, but seriously--enough already with the rehashing of information. There is just so many ways you can beat yourself up and Bylin did it all those many ways. I was black and blue by the last page. However, I did read to the last page.

Ryan's agnosticism was a good relief to Carly's faith. It was a good study in how a believing woman can touch the heart of an unbeliever setting attraction aside. I have seen men "see the light" just because they were attracted to a woman. But this was different in several ways. However, after reading hundreds of books where women authors try to really get inside their male characters' heads, I never sure they actually ring that bell correctly. Men depict male characters so differently than women do, and women depict women characters differently than men do... It's that Venus and Mars thing, I guess. All that to say that Bylin did a pretty good job inside the head of Ryan.

5 of 5 stars. Worth the money!


Ryan thought hiring Carly Mason as nanny was a key move in reconnecting with his children, but will the attraction between them send his plans into chaos?

Blood of a Stone by Jeanne Gassman


This is an excellent walk through some interesting biblical places following a couple of Roman slaves. They suffer quite a bit before one kills the master, and they both run away. [Not a spoiler because this happens early on.]

What happens next is similar to a camel ride. Up and down, round and round as the plot unfolds. People you meet are interesting including their own agendas, and with some key historical facts as well. The character development is very well done. The two main characters develop in different ways. The older slave (the Jew) seems to be one of the Sower's seeds out of Matthew 13. I won't say which one, that would be a spoiler. The younger one is also a seed. His character is so well woven, I almost prayed for him!

The storyline is well done. The flow is good and keeps the pages turning. There is a twist at the end that I should have seen coming, but did not. The book is quite good.

The book gets 5 of 5 stars. Well worth the money.


Set in the first century on the edges of the Roman Empire and the Jesus movement, Blood of a Stone is a sweeping story of murder, betrayal, love, and the search for redemption.
Faced with the brutality of slavery, Demetrios confronts his master and flees by the blood of a stone. Determined to escape his past, he struggles to create a new life and a new identity with his friend and fellow escaped slave, Elazar.
However, freedom has its price. Secrets cannot remain secret forever. A chance for love is lost. Elazar betrays Demetrios to a so-called prophet named Jesus of Nazareth. Fearing the Roman authorities and Jesus, Demetrios risks everything to silence those who would enslave him again. His quest leads him to startling discoveries and dire choices.
Demetrios must answer the question we all ask: Can we ever be free of our past?

Five Days in Skye by Carla Laureano


Top notch, A#1 love story. Gripped me from the very first page. There are places, though, that made me want to shake Andrea because of her thought processes. I get the fact that some people get hurt and that makes them put up walls. Sure, lots of people do that especially when they don't know God very well.

The faith factor in this book is interwoven very well, and because of the lack of faith the characters do some wallowing that is very believable. It makes me wonder how people live without God, and that thought makes me shudder.

The development and flow of the story is very good. Just the right amount of tension, humor, and add a few touches of self-recrimination then pour in some of God's redeeming love, and you've got a great recipe for a very good story.

No story flow barricades, no characters acting unbelievably, and that makes a wonderful story. One thing that made me jump for joy was the lack of head hopping. One or two places of head jumping from Andrea to James as very well done transitions from one scene to another. Mostly, however, the characters stayed in their own heads, not much speculation of what the other was thinking--superior writing. The story was from the two main characters point of view, and no head hopping to various supporting characters. Yea!

Very well done. 5 of 5 stars. Well worth the money. This one is a keeper.


Andrea Sullivan is so consumed by her hospitality consultant job that she's forgotten what brings her life. She travels the world yet shields herself from the exotic locales or another chance at love. She dreads her new assignment—a last chance to snag a high-profile client in Scotland. Yet the lush Isle of Skye transcends her preconceptions. As does the man she came to interview—the rugged, blue-eyed Scotsman James McDonald.

James is passionate about cooking but after six restaurants, four cookbooks, and his own television show, he has no desire to be a celebrity chef. Andrea and James begin to sense these five days in Skye may just be God's wild invitation into deeper life ... and truer love.


Randy Ingermanson's craft advice

Research is one of my ALL-time pet peeves when reading. If the author has not done research, then there are all kinds of story-stopper "facts" that frustrate readers. It seems that Randy seems to agree with me in this article about asking questions...

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2) Organization: The Power of Asking for Help

A lot of people go through life afraid to ask for help when they have a question. They’re afraid they’ll look stupid. Nobody wants to look stupid. So they don’t ask. 

But there’s a way to ask for help that won’t make anyone think you’re stupid.

Ask Google. (Or any search engine of your choice. For simplicity in this article, I’m just going to talk about Google, but you can use whichever search engine you like.)

Let's look at a few examples of questions you can ask Google and the kinds of answers you can get.

How do you add more memory to a 2012 MacBook Pro? There’s a YouTube video that will show you how. 

What’s the difference between an S corporation and an LLC? There are many articles on this. Here’s one. 

How do you install a new plugin for your WordPress blog? WordPress has a page that discusses plugins, how to install them, and much more.  

If you’ve got a “how-to” question, Google almost certainly can find you an answer. Probably a whole page full of answers.

If you think about it, that’s pretty amazing. No matter what your question, no matter how stupid you feel, there’s a machine you can ask that will give you answers and will never try to humiliate you.

Some caveats are in order.

Caveat 1: Not All Answers Are Created Equal 

Some answers are better than others. Some of them are right. Some are almost right. Some are dead wrong.

Just because it’s on the internet doesn’t make it automatically true. You have to decide whether you trust the authority of any page you read. Which means you need the critical skills to determine who is trustworthy and who isn’t. But you’ve probably spent a lifetime developing your critical skills already, so this is nothing new for you.  

Caveat 2: You Might Not Understand the Answer

Some questions are hard. That means some answers are going to be complicated. If you don’t understand the answer, then try again with a question about the part you don’t understand. Google doesn’t get tired of answering your questions.

Caveat 3: Not All Answers Are Known

Of course there are plenty of questions that nobody knows how to answer. If you ask Google a hard question, you might get articles that claim to answer the question, but don’t. Or you might get articles that explain why the question is hard to answer. It can be useful to know that nobody knows the answer.

Caveat 4: Not All Questions Have Unique Answers

Which is prettier, red or blue?

How far is up?  

But Some Questions Google Can Answer

Despite the caveats above, Google can answer an amazing number of questions that come up in your writing. Here are a few examples:

What does your setting look like?
If your setting is on planet earth, Google Maps can show you a map of how it looks today. It can show you satellite images. It can show you pictures taken from ground level. Even if you’re writing a historical novel, this may be enough. It’s a lot cheaper than flying there.

Who was that company who just called you with an offer that sounds too good to be true? Are they a scam?

Check their Caller ID and enter it into Google along with the word “scam”. If there’ve been any complaints, you’ll find what people have said about them.

Is there anybody on the planet with the same unusual name as your villain?

Maybe you think your villain’s name could never belong to anyone real. Maybe you’re wrong. If it matters, you can find out pretty quickly. 

Is it plausible that your heroine could swim a mile in the open ocean in twenty minutes?

Look up the world record for a woman swimming a mile.

What’s the best way to disable a Ferrari and what tools would you need?

For extra credit: How long would it take? Could you hide the tools in your tuxedo? How quickly could the damage be repaired to make the car drivable?

If your hero breaks a leg in Chapter 1, how long will it be until he can run again? 

Sure he's tough, but he's not immortal. 

How far away can you plausibly kill your bad guy with a rifle if you’re a good shot?

For extra credit: What about with a 9-mm handgun? What about with a shotgun? 

If you’re trapped in a cave without water, what’s your best option while you wait for rescue?

For extra credit: Is it true you should drink your own urine, or is that a horrible mistake? How long can you survive in the absolute best case without water?

Build a New Habit

For the next 24 hours, keep track of the number of times you have a question. Don’t walk away from the question, even if it’s trivial. 

Ask the question. Ask Google and see what kind of answer you get. 

Get in the habit of asking Google whenever you have a question. It’ll make you a better writer. 

And you won’t feel dumb when you ask. You’ll feel smart when you learn the answer.
This article is reprinted by permission of the author.
Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, "the Snowflake Guy," publishes the free monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 12,000 readers. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit
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