Review: The Honorable Heir

The Honorable Heir The Honorable Heir by Laurie Alice Eakes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Four stars because the research is excellent and no modernism!

Enchanting story. Of course, the story has been told before countless times, but Eakes gives this one a nice flair. The story has a bit of mystery, a handsome love interest who just happens to be part of the family of Catherine's late husband.

Intriguing supporting characters are cousins, the wronged fiancee, and Catherine's sister. Eakes weaves the stories together beautifully from Catherine's point of view for the most part. She doesn't take long, backstory trips that clog the story flow. The research is wonderful. However...

Writing problems plague this story. There are a lot of character introduced without developing them so that you really don't know who Tristram is and who Ambrose is and where did Florian come from? The plotline drags in the middle with too much redundancy. You can only wonder about a person being a thief so much before you just have to move along. The huge problem remains that once Catherine fell in love with a pretty face along with a bit of lust, it looks like she'd be on her guard and less likely to fall in love with another pretty face and pack of muscles. That part seems very unrealistic to the point of unbelievability.

To make this novel work well, take out about 9,000 words, tighten the 1st half, and focus on giving each main character reasons to fall in love with each other. Also coerce the villain to confess, don't just let a confession fall on the floor like a broken plate.

Received the ARC from Netgalley.

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Review: Passages Across Time

Passages Across Time Passages Across Time by Bonnie Howell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an interesting read if you like a lot of retrospection. At least CJ has a good outlook on life, and it's got a lot of positive prose in it. Except...

CJ has this idea that she missed so much because she didn't take the right turns or make the right decisions in life. But a windfall lands in her lap so she gets to take that trip she never did, and buy everything she saw that she just might like. I have to wonder why is it that people have to swing on a pendulum to find out what they think they want, they really don't want.

Anyway that the kind of story this is... however

Description is really good, and small town living is very well depicted. You get a great feel for the sights, sounds, and smells in CJ's world. Riding with CJ happens to be a worthy ride.

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Review: And Then She Was Gone

And Then She Was Gone And Then She Was Gone by Christopher Greyson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Apparently, this is not the first in the series, but it goes back to Jack Stratton's teen year's and his first solved mystery. I was intrigued from the first page. Then when I realized it was about a 17-year-old, I thought oh, it's a YA. in a series. But, the beginning is quite chilling. Well, it was good all the way through. I especially liked how the characters were developed from their actions and responses to situations. I will most likely read all the other books.

Good mystery with plenty of twists and turns. I'm rarely surprised in whodunits because I analyze so deeply. I love to solve puzzles. But this one was a surprise because it turned out it wasn't who I thought it was. Greyson lays down a great puzzle to analyze. I got really annoyed with Jack Stratton because he kept doing things that were stupid, and then he put his dad in a situation that was quite dangerous although the dad walked right into with eyes wide open. But that's at the end and no spoiler.

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Review: Slender Reeds: Jochebed's Hope

Slender Reeds: Jochebed's Hope Slender Reeds: Jochebed's Hope by Texie Susan Gregory
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I am ever hopeful that a really good biblical fiction will burst forth from a Christian fiction writer... something like Ben Hur or The Robe. Maybe someday...

But not today.

The problem with most fiction that tries to be biblical is the lack of research on the author's part. Not only lack of research, but lack of biblical knowledge. I tried really hard to believe that what was unfolding in this story was possible and plausible. However, the author did not know that Joshua and Caleb were not the same age. Caleb was years older than him. Joshua's name was Hosea when he was in Egypt. Moses changed his name when he ordained him as his assistant to follow him in leading the people.

I have enough of the spiritual gift Teacher in me that once someone has veered off the plausible path in a book, it is hugely difficult for me to continue. Within just two pages the above wretched mistakes appeared. I gave up because it was such a story-stopper for me.

Received this from Netgalley.

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Review: Crowded in the Middle of Nowhere

Crowded in the Middle of Nowhere Crowded in the Middle of Nowhere by Bo Brock
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I haven't enjoyed a book so much since I read James Herriot's series All Things Great and Small and the other 3 after that.

I think a person has to have a true sense of humor to be a vet. Bo definitely does. He started writing columns for the local newspaper and a vet magazine picked up one... people made so many great comments the magazine asked him to keep writing. This book is the culmination of several of those columns. I'm so glad he got the idea to publish them.

Great read. So funny and poignant. Not exactly like James Herriot, but pretty close.

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Review: Sofi's Bridge

Sofi's Bridge Sofi's Bridge by Christine Lindsay
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Great book!

Exquisite research into the era, and deftly written into the story. Character development was very good, albeit a little see-through in places. I got first annoyed and then lost patience with Sofi's sister and mother. But then, there really were women like that back then.

Very good storyline but with too many story fronts. Two main characters who have their stories, then the sister's story, and then the mother's story. Amazingly, they did not get tangled into a confusing mess. However, we have a delicious villain who you just keep screaming at Sofi to quit listening to.

Love the scenery descriptions. You can smell the must in the old cabin, see the dust motes dancing in the sunbeams, and hear the whispering trees as the breeze rustles the leaves.

The descriptions, the deft transitions into each story, the research into bridge building of the early 1900s, the quality character development make this a 5-star reading treat.

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Review: The Return of Sir Percival: Guinevere's Prayer

The Return of Sir Percival: Guinevere's Prayer The Return of Sir Percival: Guinevere's Prayer by S. Alexander O'Keefe
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was quite intrigued with Sir Percival. I can see a lot of merit in the story, and great attention to researching the times of medieval England.

There is a LOT of telling story instead of showing story, although I'm not a fan of flashbacks so I'm grateful there was a telling not a showing around the campfires with the back story--but, there is way too much back story that does NOT move the story along. The reader gets bogged down in back story. Maybe this story should have started in the back story since the author is so interested in it.

On the other hand, the author has done a really good job with creating the life and times of medieval England. There were tons of nuances throughout that paints almost photographically clear pictures of what it was like to live during that time (both those with money and those without), except the ability to read and write. There is a network of spies for the Queen that can read and write, and that just wasn't the case back then. Character development is subtle, and that is exactly how I like it. You get a feel for what each character cares about through their actions and their words. Great development, except there is too much back story.

The story, on the other hand, is full of rehashes as if the reader can't remember from one chapter to the next the character motivations. There are zero transitions when head jumping happens (that's jumping from one character's viewpoint in one part of the story to another character's viewpoint in a different part of the story). This results in jerky, stop/start story flow, which deflates story momentum and tension. Leaving a character in "dire straits" does not create story flow tension that would amplify white-water story flow; it dilutes it into confusion. If you are going to jump from one character to another (this story has basically three POVs), then you really need transitions from one section to another. Transitions are a primary tool in writing that are rarely used correctly. When used to best advantage, the reader never notices. The reader gets to that holding-breath, edge-of-seat reality, and he/she can't put the book down. That's the kind of writing that can pull off more than one point of view. Unfortunately, O'Keefe needs a lot more practice before she can pull off that kind of story.

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Review: Slave Queen

Slave Queen Slave Queen by H.B. Moore
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Normally, I don't care for two intertwining stories. It's usually makes the story flow all jerky and hard to follow. But this one is rather intriguing. Reader beware, there are zero transitions. Zero flow from one to the other so it is definitely stop/start reading and most of the time jarring. Yet, the stories are compelling. You can't help but turn the pages, and then you think about it all wondering what to do like you are in the story. That hasn't happened to me in a very long time!

Wonderful writing. Superior character development. You can feel the dry heat, smell the dust, hear the harem sounds, and get a glimpse into ancient Turkey. The research is superior as well. All in all this is a very satisfying read.

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Review: A Time of Torment

A Time of Torment A Time of Torment by John Connolly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was my first Charlie Parker book. I was lost at first, but everything fell into place sort of. After I realized there were so many before, I thought there would be no way to catch up. However, Connolly writes in such a way that draws the reader into the story with finesse and subtly. He compels you to turn the pages; you just can't help yourself. This book does have some foul language, some sexual references, and some deeply graphic violence.

Got this from Netgalley and I'm so glad I did.

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Review: Sewn with Joy

Sewn with Joy Sewn with Joy by Tricia Goyer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I don't know how I missed that this was an Amish story. I don't have anything against Amish romance, but I was just not in the mood for an Amish romance. The trouble I had with this novel wasn't that I wasn't in the mood for it, though. The writing was very good, the story line was intriguing, and faith played an important role throughout the story. But since it was the 3rd book in a series, I had a terrible time trying to catch up. That's the trouble with a series. How does one write it without double tracking and backing up all the time? So.. I was lost. I couldn't do a review justice without all the background from the first 2 books.

Got this from Netgalley.

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Review: Forsaken Skies

Forsaken Skies Forsaken Skies by D. Nolan Clark
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Love Sci-Fi! Love it. This offering is along the lines of fantasy more than science, but still is a good offering.

If the author and editor would remove about 200 pages, this would be an excellent offering rather than just good.

I like the idea of getting to know Lanoe and the other characters through their actions and their thoughts, but with no transitions between head hopping, it makes for disjointed and rather jerky prose instead of a smooth flow.

This is a good story, with good writing, and an empathetic outlook for a lonely planet on the edge of nowhere. One thing that is not brought out is the danger to civilized space. The blase' reaction to a planet's invasion is not believable. Especially because of the mining operation on the planet and possible precious ore on another planet in the system. So there are some problems with this novel that do not allow complete satisfaction with the whole.

Each character is well developed, even the minor characters have some depth to them, which is a bit unusual. However, for this book, perhaps there are too many character viewpoints. To move the story along, an author should keep story flow in mind rather than bogging down in way too much backstory. I think that's why this story is too long. Another thing is that the build-up to the climax is way too long. Because the engineer is such a minor character, the whole "romance" thing between her and another character is unnecessary and a story blocker. It's like Clark threw in this "interlude" just to have some sex-spice to the story. We already know this other character is a rat... why over emphasize that?

For some reason, sci-fi and fantasy authors have a tendency to put too much backstory in (myself included) to develop characters. It is a bit overwhelming to readers, and a great deal of work that is unnecessary for authors.

All in all, though, this is a good story. Great space battles that are very easily followed. Complex, but not unfathomable as described, and that is hard for an author to achieve! Intriguing end. Overall it gets 4 stars from me. Especially because I'm hungry for good space operas!

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Bad Writing Habits You Can Break Today!

5 Bad Writing Habits You Can Break Today (Infographic)

Review: The Good Spy Dies Twice

The Good Spy Dies Twice The Good Spy Dies Twice by Mark Hosack
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The main character, whose head the reader is in most of the time, is one of those guys who has bad judgement, a lot of eccentricity, and is very uncomfortable in this story. It seemed to me that he was forced by the author to act in certain ways so the plot could move along. Frankly, I did not care for all the foul language, and I did not get exactly why this girl fell in love with him and married him. When I read that, I was appalled... especially when he's all stressed out about her being late after skiing. When I read that they were supposed to meet someone at a particular time, I completely lost patience with the whole story. This just read like a rush job without a lot of thinking the plot through and without really getting comfortable with the characters. Just my opinion.

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Review: Forgiving My Daughter's Killer: A True Story of Loss, Faith, and Unexpected Grace

Forgiving My Daughter's Killer: A True Story of Loss, Faith, and Unexpected Grace Forgiving My Daughter's Killer: A True Story of Loss, Faith, and Unexpected Grace by Kate Grosmaire
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I am deeply touched that this mom was able to tell this story. What amazing courage it must have taken!

I was glad I ordered this book. It gave me a lot of insights into the emotional roller coaster people ride when facing this kind of tragedy. I can't imagine anything worse. I appreciate the candor and courage this story pours all over the reader.

The story is gripping, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. I am not a fan of flashbacks and this book is nothing but flashbacks. First, we're here and then we're there, and it is so exhausting trying to keep up.

Note to editors: Please, please guide your authors to tell their stories with fewer plot ploys and more good story telling. There's no need to go back and forth with no transitions just jerking the reader from one place to the next. Transitions would have made this read a lot more bearable!

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Review: Crossing Into The Mystic

Crossing Into The Mystic Crossing Into The Mystic by D.L. Koontz
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book started out pretty good. The dialogue was snappy, and you learned a lot from it. But it's hard to know if Grace really doesn't like her aunt or if it's just some back and forth thing.

It is very unbelievable that a 16-year-old is allowed to go to a different state to stay by herself in an old mansion. I just couldn't swallow that. Grace doesn't talk or act like a teenager. Her thoughts are on the plain of a 20 something.

Although the characters are well-developed, and the small town characters are your usual line up, the author does make the small town come alive. But, what does a 16-year-old know about love anyway? The whole thing just didn't ring believable to me, so 2 out of 5 stars.

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Review: Through Raging Waters

Through Raging Waters Through Raging Waters by Renee Blare
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed reading this book, although I seriously recommend you read the first book first. I was a bit clueless in the beginning because I didn't know who was who... and there just isn't much character development in this one. So take your chances.

I realize there is a tendency to groan when a person has read the first book and then has to plow through a rehashing of characters before the story takes off. However, there is a way to write that will make it easier reading for everyone, but that isn't done here.

Characters seem a bit cardboardish at times, but the scenery descriptions are top notch. You are there in the middle of the floods with raging water all around. You feel the cool air, and smell the fireplaces, and you hear the little ding of the bell over the pharmacy door. No question that Blare has a knack for descriptive writing.

She has a tendency to write cryptically. There are some jumps in conversations, and some head hopping without transitions that make for a bit of a "jerky" read rather than a swift story flow which is what Blare is striving for, I'm sure. She's got the talent, for sure. I expect her books to get better and better as her writing skills develop.

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Review: Saving the Marquise's Granddaughter

Saving the Marquise's Granddaughter Saving the Marquise's Granddaughter by Carrie Fancett Pagels
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The story is well written for the most part. However, there are so many places where Pagels lost me, or switched things around. At first Suzanne could understand German, then she had lots of trouble piecing together what Johan and family were saying. Other places, the story had a breakneck flow, and then suddenly bogged down. I sort of like that (in limited quantities) because it gives me time to think about everything. But even so, this was more bogging as in a soap opera rather than a deeply moving romance. While most was well written, this is not actually a historical romance. That would mean there should be some actual, history.

[Insert a wailing whine here.] Why doesn't someone teach writers how to do research before writing novels? Why don't publishing house editors insist on real research from the authors, and why don't publishing houses require editors to have education before they hire these editors? And WHY don't publishing houses have fact checkers???

I was so excited to see this book on my Netgalley shelf. Finally, a great 16th or 17th century historical romance. Nope... it's supposedly taking place in 1742. That's about 75 years after the religious wars and Catholic terrorism against Huguenots happened which began in the early 1500s through the middle of the 1600s, then it became more of a political war. My 8th great grandfather was a Huguenot and immigrated to Virginia from France in 1625. I do not know his story, so I was hoping to glean a bit of history at the same time enjoy a good romance.

Well, the romance was fairly good... the history, not so much. Besides the timing of the novel, there wasn't a whole lot of costume discussion, although there was a lot of powdered wigs in the royal court (which was true in the 1700s (18th century), not the 1600s.

Here's another question. Johan's family were supposed to own a lot of land, but their farm couldn't sustain two families, which is a plot ploy that requires Johan to take Suzanne to America. In places the plot seems forced, not a natural flow where the characters are not well developed. Sometimes Johan's brother is portrayed as an okay fellow, other times he's a dirty, rotten scoundrel. Which is it? Suzanne has a terrible habit of agonizing over some things, and just letting other things flow around her without notice. That was annoying for me.

I have this 2 stars. It has such tremenous potential, but it fell flat for me. I'm not a fan of soap operas, and I think that is probably it. On the other hand, I read this off Netgalley, and publishers have a really bad habit of submitting undedited (I mean really RAW stuff) on there. So take this honest review with a grain of salf.

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Review: DawnSinger

DawnSinger DawnSinger by Janalyn Voigt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I highly recommend you NOT get the eBook version. I did not know there was a glossary at the end that would explain SO much about things I was clueless about. I wondered the whole way through why didn't the author write in such a way to explain some things. Why were all these creatures named these weird things that had a Celtic ring with no explanation. However, I really liked the way the wingabeasts were explained with nothing more than that the creature whinnied. Ah! Pegasus!

Ah well, the writing was pretty good, and the story line and premise was also good except for the fact that two people fall in love that shouldn't fall in love did. (view spoiler)

Please remember this is the eBook format that is getting the 3 stars. When you read something that doesn't make sense, it is very hard to keep going. When I read the part mentioned in the spoiler alert, I quit reading. For fantasy fans, this would probably be a great read. But the two things worked together for me to spoil my enjoyment. That's just me.

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Review: Spaceport West

Spaceport West Spaceport West by Giles Chanot
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think it is rather unfair to compare this to Hitchhiker's Guide. It's a different premise as in colonizing Mars, and politics of Earth. Quite different. I love the inserts of the UK's Space Guide; they are quite amusing.

The characters are a bit whacky, and that is what makes this story work. What's scary is the "big reveal" at the end, which is technologically frightening. I don't think we're there, yet, but then doors that open by themselves, men walking on the moon, cell phones, wireless computers, and flat screen TVs were all science fiction at one point in time.

This is a breezy read, and I liked it a lot. But then, I get British humor and love it.

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Review: My Sister's Prayer

My Sister's Prayer My Sister's Prayer by Mindy Starns Clark
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My Mom loved this book... I was not a huge fan, so the book gets 4 stars.

The characterizations are quite good in the modern day story, and the characters are very believable in the historical love story. I really hate the ploy of dual storyline. I learned from my writing professor that you should tell one story at a time so you can tell that story really well. I wouldn't say that these stories are not done well, because they are captivating. However, if you are like me and would rather read one story at a time and not be jostled about by switching from head to head and character to character, then this book is probably not for you. The problem I have with it is that there are no transitions from modern to historical. There should at least be a reason to revert back and forth. Perhaps, I didn't get far enough into the book to realize a reason. I got too fed up with the flipping back and forth.

I received this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Unholy Code

Unholy Code Unholy Code by Thomas Waite
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Lana rings true as a character. She's believable if a little bit un-girly. I can certainly identify with her terror about her daughter being threatened. I really don't agree with the laize faire of the parents giving their daughter plenty of time to have sex with her boyfriend in her bedroom upstairs. Call me old fashioned, but that is just wrong in my book.

However, the action-packed thrill ride of jihadists, terrorists, cyber-savvy villains, and seemingly a one woman shield between them and the demise of the US... that's still a riveting read.

Reader beware, there's plenty of foul language, sex, murder, and mayhem in this book.

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: An Essential Guide to Interpersonal Communication: Building Great Relationships with Faith, Skill, and Virtue in the Age of Social Media

An Essential Guide to Interpersonal Communication: Building Great Relationships with Faith, Skill, and Virtue in the Age of Social Media An Essential Guide to Interpersonal Communication: Building Great Relationships with Faith, Skill, and Virtue in the Age of Social Media by Quentin J. Schultze
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This book is BRILLIANT. Schultze and Badzinsky have taken the interpersonal communication theories and practically applied them to Christian living. But don't let that scare you non-academics off. If you are blessed enough to be teaching a regular Bible study class and you happen to be looking for something to study next, then you've found it in this book. If you are teaching interpersonal communication in college this is also a must read. The whole foundation of communication rests in the One who created it, and who gave us a multitude of practical examples in the Bible.

Truths such as "We can't really separate ourselves as person from our own messages; we are part of the message not just messengers," are expounded upon in each chapter drawing from biblical teaching without being preachy. Our character is part of our message. Schultze and Badzinsky use this theme throughout as well as the basic premise that good interpersonal communication "ultimately flows from our hearts."

From Chapter 1 about being grateful to Chapter 8 about restoring relationships this book is packed with wise counsel, intriguing tidbits, and enduring, biblically-based concepts. The authors use illustrations such as Jackie who so deeply desired community that she put an ad on Craig's List to hire a family for the holidays, practical advice such as How to Avoid a Hellish Boss, debunked myths about conflict, and invigorating truths about living in mutual forgiveness.

You may not find all the technical terms for interpersonal communication theory, but the practical applications are all there and exceptionally good. You will find a discussion in some aspect of each interpersonal communication theory, but none are academically explained. It isn't needed.

The faith aspect of communicating is the foundation of this book after all God created communication when He first created beings. Although, God's type of communication is in the spiritual realm as well as the physical realm. Schultze and Badzinsky note that to enable that kind of communication, one must participate with soul listening. Not even Em Griffin got so specific with listening. It is not only physically with ears and eyes, but emotionally and spiritually listening, too.

One particularly quintessential key is their slight twist on the Golden Rule of Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, is found on page 83: "Seek friends who are the kinds of persons you would like to be--namely, a blessing to others." Each blessing is outlined in each chapter of the book: Grateful, attentive listener, single task oriented, knowing self, relating openly, encourager, promoting peace, earnest relationship restorer. These are those essential things that promote good, clear, interpersonal communication. How succinct!

I have not been as academic as I could have been with this review because it is written so plainly and so effectively it reminds me of God's admonition to Habakkuk in Chapter 2: Then the LORD told me: "I will give you my message in the form of a vision. Write it clearly enough to be read at a glance. Habakkuk 2:2

I don't see how this message could be made any more clear than what Schultze and Badzinsky have written here. Don't waste anymore time, Christian, purchase this book and invest the time to read it. Along with your Bible study, it will change how you communicate with those around you.

Virtually every human endeavor involves interpersonal communication. Leading Christian scholar and media commentator Quentin Schultze and respected professor of communication Diane Badzinski offer a solid Christian perspective on the topic, helping readers communicate with faith, skill, and virtue in their interpersonal relationships. Designed as a companion to Schultze’s successful An Essential Guide to Public Speaking, this inviting book provides biblical wisdom on critical areas of interpersonal communication: gratitude, listening, self-assessment, forgiveness, trust, encouragement, peace, and fidelity. Given the rapid rise and widespread use of social media, the book also integrates intriguing insights from the latest research on the influence of social media on interpersonal relationships. It includes engaging stories and numerous sidebars featuring practical lists, definitions, illustrations, and biblical insights.

I received this book from the authors in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: No Other Will Do

No Other Will Do No Other Will Do by Karen Witemeyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great story telling! I was entranced until I ran into some not so great fact checking/modernisms. Just be prepared to be jerked out of the 19th century every once in a while. Plus the dialogue sometimes falls a little flat. I really expect a lot from established writers; they are experienced and supposed to know what they are doing. I also give just as much expectation of experienced editors. Fact checking is one of the must dos. Weeding out modernisms is a must do. I expected a lot more from Bethany House. One other problem that a good editing job would have taken out all the rehashing of problems that the characters do. This rehasing took up at least 8,000 words, and the story would have been much tighter and moved along a lot faster if this angst of the two main characters had been capsuled rather than dragged out.

However, this book is really great story telling summed up in one delicious word: Anticipation! Witemeyer is a genius with anticipation. The mystery part of who is doing the threatening is a sidenote in the story, not the main storyline. I think that part could have been woven in a bit better.

I'm quite sure there were plenty of women who hated men because of what they suffered at their hands. That was a really neat premise. I love strong women characters, but characters that have weaknesses as well make the best and most interesting characters. Witemeyer does a wonderful job with this. She also does a great job with giving the reader several different characters to chew on about the mysterious helper.

Weighing all the pros and cons, this comes out a satisfying read.

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: The Tank Man's Son: A Memoir

The Tank Man's Son: A Memoir The Tank Man's Son: A Memoir by Mark Bouman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My heart broke for Mark Bouman as I read this book. I had a wonderful father, but my husband dished out verbal abuse almost everyday. I could identify with what was going on in this family, and see the thoughts that must have been going through my teenage girls heads because I didn't have the know-how to stop the verbal abuse.

The story telling had a few flaws. Sometimes the worded illustrations didn't quite click into place, but other times the word paintings were quite vivid with emotions and pain as well as fun times. I really liked that Bouman shared some of those good times with his readers.

One thing that didn't gel as well as other things were the characterizations of brother, sister, and mother. Mother was better than the other two, and I understand why. The siblings were too afraid to open up because it was too painful, and it almost always backfired when the Tank Man used those things against them. So what is not said is just as important to the story as what is said. That is a hard way to write.

As I said earlier, I have suffered abuse. I know how hard it is to forgive the abuser. This is why I know that Mark Bouman could not have forgiven his father without God's help. Years and years of abuse take a deep toll on a person's mind, body, and especially the soul. I was deeply touched by the soul cleansing Mark received, and recognize the same soul-stretching God did for him that he did for me.

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Review: An Elegant Facade

An Elegant Facade An Elegant Facade by Kristi Ann Hunter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I very much enjoyed the first book in this series, A Noble Masquerade (Hawthorne House, #1). Hunter points out in the beginning that you don't need to read the first to enjoy the second, and she is absolutely correct. This is a great stand alone book. I enjoyed getting better acquainted with the characters that were in supporting roles in the first book.

Hunter did an excellent job in writing these two books the way she did. It had to be incredibly hard to mingle and entwine them, but to also make them stand-alones. It takes an incredible writer to be able to do this, and Hunter is superb at it.

The characters are fascinating, and the research is spectacular. You'll understand and appreciate that understatement when you get to know Georgina, and Colin, and all the others.

This is an excellent Regency novel with all the fol-de-rols of society that are melded so believably with the characters. No modernisms at all, praise the Lord. And the faith factor is ever so tenderly applied. What I find so wonderful is how masculine Hunter makes Colin's faith, and Griffith's, and the others. No namby-pambies here. It is solid reading pleasure.

Another pleasure is there are no ad nauseum repetitions or character agonizing over some problem. Yes, the problems are agonized over, but in such different ways that it seems so fresh like a fresh, sweet orange peeled--nothing dried out, but fragrance surrounding you--ready to be enjoyed.

Five of five stars. Definitely one of the best reads this year.

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Review: A Haven on Orchard Lane

A Haven on Orchard Lane A Haven on Orchard Lane by Lawana Blackwell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have loved every Lawana Blackwell book I've read, and this one is no exception. I could fill this review with all the positive splendepherous words to describe it and it still would not be adequate. This is an amazing slice of life in 1880s rural England. The culture shines. The research is top notch. The care for characters is quite tender. The best read this year.

I love the community, and small town rendition. I think these people already exist somewhere and Blackwell met them, fell in love with them, and wrote about them. They are all 4-dimensional characters (even the supporting roles). Everyone was in character both in actions as well as dialogue. In fact, the dialogue is quite sparkling. The romance reminds me of Jane Austin.

As I get older, I appreciate older characters more and more. Charlotte is a gem, and I can so much empathize with her. Great faith lessons, too. I'm putting this one in the must read column!

I received this book from the publisher at Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

In difficult circumstances, Charlotte Ward, once a famed stage actress, tries to restart her career--only to experience disaster. Against her better judgment, her estranged daughter, Rosalind, comes to her mother's rescue and moves her to a quiet English coastal village.

Charlotte is grateful to get to know Rosalind after years apart. As one who has regrets about her own romantic past, it's a joy for Charlotte to see love blossom for her daughter. For Rosalind, however, it's time away from teaching--and now she must care for the mother who wasn't there for her. And what could be more complicated than romance?

Together, mother and daughter discover that healing is best accomplished when they focus less on themselves and more on the needs of others.

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Review: Common Stones: A glimpse into several different worlds, in an effort to become more acquainted with our own

Common Stones: A glimpse into several different worlds, in an effort to become more acquainted with our own Common Stones: A glimpse into several different worlds, in an effort to become more acquainted with our own by Alicia M. Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I eventually realized that every day was a choice: A choice to get out of bed, a choice to decide to take one minute, one hour, one day at a time; a choice to brighten my surroundings for myself and for those whom I love; a choice to enjoy life despite any guilt, fear, or void that may still remain; a choice to trust God fully knowing He holds the entire puzzle in His hands while I only see a handful of pieces.

This is the crux of Common Stones, the thesis if you will. Alicia Smith has gathered several stories (including her own) about some blindsiding events that people face during life in this fallen world. She walks with you through several horrific events (such as her beloved father's war with cancer), and then gives you a nutshell filled with succulent seeds of growth. After we hear Ben's story (in his own words, mind you) -- a young man's fight after a debilitating car crash -- Alicia points out some wonderful truths. Surround yourself with good company! And then she outlines characteristics of a true supporter: listens, speaks with respect, supports the need for laughter.

The book is packed with the marvelous life lessons that would help us over those troublesome stumbling blocks that cobble our maturing faith if we'd only take them to heart. I don't know about you, but I'd much rather learn from someone's mistakes rather than stubbing my own toe. Pain is a great teacher, but why must we bear repeated pain when someone else has graciously shared his or her life changing event?

We absolutely should bear each other's burdens. God declares this. One reason is so that the burden does not weigh down our sibling in Christ. Another reason is so that we learn from their mistakes... or hardships... or accidents... or we learn compassion. Whatever the lesson, we grow.

Just as Chappy learned that there were blessings for him and his family from Hurricane Katrina. He just had to stop and listen for the Holy Spirit's urging. Listening to God a few men were able to build a ministry that had far reaching effect on "un-accepting" people. People who found Christ in a coffee shop rather than a formidable church setting.

Words of wisdom abound in this book. Notice the miracles... Let God hold you up... Celebrate the milestones no matter how big or how small... However, one thing that shines throughout this book is that faith is our binding cord and common stone that solidly holds siblings in Christ together. Together we bring Him glory, and together we hold each other up. There's nothing as satisfactory as the family of God.

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Review: Sidney Chambers and The Dangers of Temptation

Sidney Chambers and The Dangers of Temptation Sidney Chambers and The Dangers of Temptation by James Runcie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Oh, my goodness... I can see most of the reviewers, like me, have watched the series on PBS so are familiar with Sidney as a young priest. I can also see that most did not have a problem with Leonard and Sidney's "explanation" how homosexualism is an accepted kind of "love".

I had a problem with it. I had a problem with the last show that I watched in the TV series where all the strong hints about Leonard's angst about his tendency toward other men. Oh, everything is quite ok because the Church of England doesn't require priests to never marry. You would think that a person who reads his Bible would have come to terms with what God says about that kind of lifestyle, and recognize how the Church's position was a bit more aligned with the Bible than his skewed view of it.

Sidney's problems have never been resolved. As we grow and mature, our problems are resolved and we acquire other problems. That is what's so uncomfortable about this series. The underlying problems are never wrestled with and just fester undercover of the idyllic life.

I enjoyed the references of pop culture because I grew up during the period of the late 60s and early 70s. However, Sidney's old girlfriend, Amanda, said she wore a black and white dress because that is what he is, no gray, all black and white. She doesn't know him at all, because Sidney is all gray taking justice in his own hands by not revealing the culprit who stole the necklace, just as he did not reveal who murdered who in the last TV show. Who set him up as judge and jury?

The whole thing skates along the edge of a dark pit, and I keep seeing that for everything to turn out righteously correct, the whole thing needs to tumble into the pit.

The mysteries were light, fluffy things. They didn't even seem to be well thought out, especially the one in Germany where Gunter was killed. If you enjoy the TV series, just keep watching the series and don't waste your time with the books. They really do not give you any greater insight into this complex character of Sidney Chambers.

I am glad I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review because I'd be really angry if I'd spent so much money on it. If you are a stickler for biblical principles in your spiritual leaders (archdeacon, priest, pastor, friend) then you probably won't enjoy this book.

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Review: Saving My Assassin

Saving My Assassin Saving My Assassin by Virginia Prodan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of the absolute best non-fiction reads this year!

When you think of communism, you think of Russia or North Korea or East Germany. I just never thought of Romania. Virginia points out so many hurtful things about communism, and these things are in such stark contrast to how wonderful we have it here in America.

She says, "I should be dead. Buried in an unmarked grave in Romania. Obviously I'm not. God had other plans." Then she tells you all about her childhood; how she was left at home at the tender age of six years while her family went to visit a favored aunt. There is something entirely wonderful about that aunt, but I won't tell you. I'll let you find that out on your own.

Amazing things happen to Virginia, and she gives God all the glory for each one. In her story, she tells you exactly how God touches lives in the most treacherous places. The story is gripping, uplifting, engrossing, and enlightening. Well worth every penny you spend on it. It's definitely a keeper. It is a super read for all ages, but I think teens would be enthralled to read and discuss this book as a group. In our society, Christianity is is easy. This book shows how hard it can be in other societies. It would be an excellent challenge for teens to hold fast to their faith.

I am so glad I got this book from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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Review: Supernova

Supernova Supernova by C.A. Higgins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My review...
Well, first thing is that this book is buried among numerous books with the same title. Frankly, I think that should be changed, but I'm just the reader not the editor.

Secondly, unless you have just read (as in finished Lightless last night), you might find yourself in a bit of a quandary because this book starts up right where the last ends. Thirdly, because of this, there is little care taken to make the reader have any empathy for the revolutionaries cause nor for the revolutionaries. There is little character development because it's all been done in book 1. The first book moved a bit slower building up an intense dislike for The System. This one does none of that, so you can't just pick up this book and expect to know what's going on.

Because of the lack of care taken to create empathy for the characters, this book doesn't click well with me. I loved the first one, but this one left me cold as space itself. I may try to read the last few chapters of Lightless again and then come back to this one. I did not care for the Constance character in the first one, so her character leaves me cold in this one. She seems very cardboardish to me.

However, Ananke and Althea's story line provoked an intriguing thought line for me. Super intelligence from a super computer that has planet-destroying capabilities is not only daunting, but highly threatening to secure living. Perhaps humans will attain that kind of creation, but I doubt it. If we did... This part of the story delves into all kinds of practical problems and stretches the imagination into the scary reaches of human/machine relationships.

About the book ...
C. A. Higgins's acclaimed novel Lightless fused suspenseful storytelling, high-caliber scientific speculation, and richly developed characters into a stunning science fiction epic. Now the dazzling Supernova heightens the thrills and deepens the haunting exploration of technology and humanity—and the consequences that await when the two intersect.

Once Ananke was an experimental military spacecraft. But a rogue computer virus transformed it—her—into something much more: a fully sentient artificial intelligence, with all the power of a god—and all the unstable emotions of a teenager.

Althea, the ship's engineer and the last living human aboard, nearly gave her life to save Ananke from dangerous saboteurs, forging a bond as powerful as that between mother and daughter. Now she devotes herself completely to Ananke's care. But teaching a thinking, feeling machine—perhaps the most dangerous force in the galaxy—to be human proves a monumental challenge. When Ananke decides to seek out Matthew Gale, the terrorist she regards as her father, Althea learns that some bonds are stronger than mortal minds can understand—or control.

Drawn back toward Earth by the quest, Althea and Ananke will find themselves in the thick of a violent revolution led by Matthew's sister, the charismatic leader Constance, who will stop at nothing to bring down a tyrannical surveillance state. As the currents of past decisions and present desires come into stark collision, a new and fiery future is about to be born.

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Review: In His Place: A Modern-Day Challenge for Readers of In His Steps

In His Place: A Modern-Day Challenge for Readers of In His Steps In His Place: A Modern-Day Challenge for Readers of In His Steps by Harry C. Griffith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My Review...
Would you like to take a peek inside today's churches (regardless of denomination)? Would you like to take a peek inside how Christians rationalize their thoughts and actions? This is an eye opening read. It is not designed to make you feel guilty, nor designed spur anger at church people. It is a very well written story that highlights what is wrong with the Bride of Christ today.

Some Christians are like Saul thinking that murderous attacks will purge the Bride into righteous action, some Christians are like the immature Mark who went home rather than face conflict head on, and others are like personified Jesus without prejudice and rancor just loving the believer and unbeliever alike.

Jesus' plan was for each believer to feed and care for His sheep with the right heart attitude. Griffith makes sure we become aware of our own righteous attitude because of seeing how the characters in this novel act and react and carry through the challenges that Jesus set before his disciples and thus to each one of us.

As the pastor begins to recognize where he failed, he tries lead his church in the right direction, but fails miserably at first. Not until he has his own Jesus-come-to-meeting is he able to rise to the leadership role that God prepared for him.

This is truly a wonderful, modern day parable in the same vein as Joshua, and In His Steps. Very well worth the money and the time invested to read. I am going to suggest this book for my Bible study group. I think it will open eyes, give hope, and spur us to be better, more Christ-like Christians.

About the book...
Charles Sheldon's WWJD? was a significant challenge in its time, but God calls us to do more than wait until we are facing a decision and then choose to do what we think Jesus would do. We are to incarnate Christ in our time, being conscious of the presence and power of God within us in all of our thoughts and actions. This is what pastor Steve Long wants his congregation to understand. When Long challenges his prominent but self-satisfied congregation to become a living force for Christ in their small North Georgia town, he is blindsided by personal trials. Responding to Christ's command “As the Father has sent me, so I send you,” Pastor Long tackles these difficult situations--and more--over a tumultuous week of trials and testing and ultimately learns (as he leads) what it means to walk In His Place.

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Review: Journey's End

Journey's End Journey's End by Renee Ryan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

True reading pleasure for the most part. One thing this book has that is deeply annoying is the rehashing of territory already covered. There is a difference between discussion for solutions, and discussion to remind of what's gone before. That is okay for a serial in a monthly magazine, but not okay in a novel length book that one might read in an evening or Saturday afternoon.

Introspection of characters is good and necessary for story flow, but rehashing the same thing over and over is an insult to readers' intelligence as if we can't remember what we've read two chapters ago. It is a wordy way to pack a story to an acceptable page length. If an author must do that, it would be better to add a character than to have character's never grow past their initial mindset. You keep reading, hoping something will happen to make the character grow up... and it does... but the character stays in the rut. That is not good writing.

However, the characters in this book are very well developed and quite interesting. Each character has a charming uniqueness that does move the story along (although a bit slowly). I do recommend this book, but buyer beware: It has a soap opera feel to it.

About the book...

Having grown up on the mean streets of nineteenth-century London, Caroline St. James is used to fighting to survive.

So when her beloved mother—abandoned and ignored by her wealthy family—suddenly dies, the scrappy twenty-two-year-old devises a plan to right this terrible wrong. With nothing to lose, she sails to New York to find the man who turned a cold shoulder to her mother’s suffering: Caroline’s grandfather.

To settle the family score, Caroline infiltrates her grandfather’s privileged world, hoping to sabotage his business from the inside. But as she sets her plot in motion, she meets Jackson Montgomery, a virtuous man who is struggling to recover from a family scandal of his own. As their friendship grows, and Caroline begins to piece together the motives that led her family to turn its back, she is forced to make a decision: Should she risk everything in the name of justice? Or can she look toward the future and let love and forgiveness guide her instead?

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Review: The Domino Game

The Domino Game The Domino Game by Greg Wilson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I tried. I really, really tried to get into this book. I loved Gorky Park, and some other Russian-based stories, but this one was difficult to get into because I couldn't establish a rapport with any of the characters. I just didn't care about anyone of them. As I started to grow close to one, the story would flip to another unknown. Then it all became a jumble because there were just too many characters to untangle. The story objective was unclear from the very first. Perhaps it is just me, and that I am used to better story organization. I gave it 2 stars because it does have potential for anyone who can assimilate all the characters.

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Review: Surveillance

Surveillance Surveillance by Reece Hirsch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an extraordinary thriller and suspense. It gives you an insight into just how invasive to our privacy the government can be, and that is scary. The story line is non-stop flood with a pace that makes it hard to remember to breathe.

The characters are very well developed; each one acting, talking, and responding in character. In fact, the whole story is very well written, and quite believable. I found myself quite sympathetic with the main characters. One of them does something very much within character, but it was hard to believed he'd do such a terrible thing. Then he was repaid for it, and it felt like a good justification for his deed. That, to me, is great writing.

The problem a lot of authors have these days is writing with the reader in mind so that what happens to the characters as a result of their actions is felt by the reader as a logical and just consequence regardless whether is it actual justice or not. Case in point would be a married person having an affair, and that results in the break up of his or her marriage. That is justice. Betrayal of trust results in breaking a relationship. Hirsch applies this kind of justice in this story, but it isn't the same scenario because I don't want to spoil the ending.

So you have, in this book, an excellent exploration of trust, betrayal, ingenuity, and triumph. This is well worth the money!

About the book ...

When former computer-crimes prosecutor Chris Bruen and retired hacktivist Zoey Doucet open their San Francisco law firm, it’s the best day of their professional lives. That is, until their first client walks through the door.

Ian Ayres is an “ethical hacker” who was hired by a company to test the security of its online systems. On the job, he uncovered some highly classified information: the existence of a top-secret government surveillance agency and its Skeleton Key, a program that can break any form of encryption. Now Ayres is on the run. And after government agents descend on Chris and Zoey’s office during their potential client’s visit—killing two employees—they, too, are forced to flee for their lives.

From California to Ecuador to Mexico, the trio must try to evade a hired assassin, a bloodthirsty drug cartel, and their own government. But how can they escape an adversary that can access every phone call, every email, every video feed?

Surveillance is critically acclaimed author Reece Hirsch’s third book in the Chris Bruen series.

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Review: I Let You Go

I Let You Go I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Here is a novel with such an intriguing premise that you can't help but keep turning the pages to the end. I was fascinated to the end.

However, I was also betrayed by the author. (What follows is sort of a spoiler.) About half way through the book you suddenly find out that the first person prose is not who you have been led to believe she is. Then a little further on, and you get a whole different perspective from another first person point of view. All the while the perspective is shifted back and forth between the first first person and two detectives trying to solve the hit and run murder of a five year old boy. Then the second first person is inserted in the mix... Confused? Well, now you now how I felt while reading this book.

One thing to keep in mind, the writing is superb, but jumping into so many different heads is not well done. There are no transitions or even warnings that you are about to jump from Bristol to some rural, coastal village of Wales. So that brings the five-star writing down to three-stars. Then you must know that the characters are so well developed that brings the three stars up to four stars.

Frankly, the story is a roller coaster, and you just have to hang on, keep reading, and maybe you'll figure it all out by the last page.

I hate being betrayed by the author. It isn't a murder mystery that you must figure out who killed the boy. The author makes it plain that the guilty party admits her guilt ... or is she really guilty? Maybe she has been so abused and twisted by the second first person that she lies. Or maybe she isn't lying. Well, you'll just have to read the thing to understand what I'm talking about. I don't think hiding who the first person moves the story along or even creates any more suspense. It comes off as just what it is, a plot ploy that is just a trick. I just hate that. However, the roller coaster ride was pretty good so it almost made up for the betrayal.

On a rainy afternoon, a mother's life is shattered as her son slips from her grip and runs into the street . . .

I Let You Go follows Jenna Gray as she moves to a ramshackle cottage on the remote Welsh coast, trying to escape the memory of the car accident that plays again and again in her mind and desperate to heal from the loss of her child and the rest of her painful past.

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Review: PULSE

PULSE PULSE by L.R. Burkard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received this book from the author for an honest review. Well, I loved it!

The story is from the point of view of three teen girls. I cannot tell you how absolutely refreshing it is to read from a single point of view of one character with no head hopping, and the head jumping from one character to the next is done by chapters with clear headings. No confusion whatsoever. Wonderful!

How would you manage in the dead of winter to wake up with zero electricity, no transportation, and no hope of rescue for a very long time? When 15 miles is an all day trip one way, and money means nothing, but food and water is the most precious commodity, I think you would find yourself in the exact predicaments as these three girls. Except Lexie has the added luxury of living on a farm, and her family are preppers.

It's a wonderful story line premise, and Burkard's writing sizzles with tension. Her characters are developed in such a way that you think you'd recognize them when you passed them on the street.

Although, the teen girls seem to talk the same. Since they are friends, I imagine that would probably happen. Their situations are all different, but so are their backgrounds. I think they would have some unique idioms and/or speech patterns that would differ also such as filler words. But that is so minor, you don't really notice it.

It is a story about faith, and the strength faith gives you when you face adversity. It also has a strong foundation in ethics and moral issues that young people might be shocked into thinking about.

This is a story that moms and daughters should read together then talk about. It's a story that friends should read together and talk about. Dads and daughters should read it and talk about it. The story is that strong. After reading it, you'll find yourself pondering it days later. I would love to write a story that strong!

It well deserves five stars.

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Review: The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder

The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder by Rachel McMillan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked it. I definitely liked the premise of two young women interested in solving mysteries when it seemed to be a world only for men. It reminds me of the Canadian series Murdoch Mysteries or The Artful Detective. It definitely is not close to the Sherlock Holmes type of mysteries because the mystery is really only a side plot, not the plot.

Some scenes are quite funny such as when Jem has to wear pants that way to large for her and the fit misfires in front of the reporter, Ray. What a hoot.

There is a faint Faith aspect to the story. I am not keen on characters that are so 21st century that are placed in early 1900s. It is too jolting. An author needs to submerge herself in the era, forget about today's feminism, and deeply study women's issues of the era that she wants to write about. I can imagine this story taking place in the rebellious era of the 1930s or even the 1920s, but I don't think women had quite made it to this level of rebelliousness until then.

I give it 3 stars because the story doesn't seem to match the era and it made me uncomfortable. Also, I have read so many women detective novels that were written during that time, and this one has far too many modernisms. I suggest reading Mary Roberts Rinehart's Hilda Adams series (1914), Geraldine Bonner books about the switchboard operator Molly Morganthau Babbits, Agatha Christie's Tuppence Beresford, 1922, but most especially Loveday Brooke lady detective created in 1894 by Catherine Louisa Perkis to get a good sense of how women felt about the societal norms of the day.

What gets me is that authors today may set a story in history (no matter what era), but pay little to no regard for what society was really like during that time.

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Review: The Travelers

The Travelers The Travelers by Chris Pavone
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I tried, I really tried to get into this book. I just can't get into the head of an adulterer when he's only been married for a few years (4 I think). Perhaps I'm too sheltered, but this just doesn't seem believable to me. Character development took way too long. I found I really didn't care about the characters at all even when I found out Will and Chloe were trying to have a baby. They had way too many problems in their marriage to bring a child into it. Babies don't fix problems in a marriage.

The language is awful. I can actually tolerate a few shit's and damn's, but seriously taking God's name in vain is intolerable when it is just used as a filler in conversation. Why do authors try to develop a character by taking the lazy way through foul language in dialogue? When in Will's head, he doesn't think in that kind of language, so why does he suddenly speak that way? It doesn't make sense.

Just creating story is not enough. An author needs to create believable dialogue as well as believable scenes. I am thankful that I could use my imagination for the sex scene.

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Review: The Confession

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

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

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

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

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Review: The Wedding Chapel

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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Review: The Glass Castle

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

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

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

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

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Review: The Preacher's Lady

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Review: A Covenant With Death

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Received from Netgalley for my honest review.

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