Psalm 27:1

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?

www.biblegateway.com


Monday, August 29, 2016

There Will Be Stars Book Review


SUMMARY:  "In a life full of lies, he finally settled for the truth."

     No one in Mattingly ever believed Bobby Barnes would live to see old age.  Drink would either rot Bobby from the inside out or dull his senses just enough to send his truck off the mountain on one of his nightly rides.  Although Bobby believes such an end possible - and even likely - it doesn't stop him from taking his twin sons Matthew and Mark into the mountains one Saturday night.  A sharp curve, blinding headlights, metal on metal, his sons' screams.  Bobby's final thought as he sinks into blackness is a curious one - There will be stars.
     Yet it is not death that greets him beyond the veil.  Instead, he returns to the day he has just lived and finds he is not alone in this strange new world.  Six others are trapped with him.
     Bobby soon discovers that this supposed place of peace is actually a place of secrets and hidden dangers.  Along with three others, he seeks to escape, even as the world around him begins to crumble.  The escape will lead some to greater life, others to endless death . . . and Bobby Barnes to understand the deepest nature of love.

REVIEW:  It's not often I don't finish a book or like one.  Usually, even if I don't like the story, I will finish it just to see if it gets any better.  No matter how many times I picked this novel up, I just couldn't finish it.  There were so many things I did not agree with in the author's writings that it just made it impossible to get very far.
     In There Will Be Stars, Bobby Barnes gets drunk, takes his sons with him on a midnight drive on a curvy mountain road looking for more alcohol when he crashes and dies.  But, instead of passing into either heaven or hell, he is in a purgatory of sorts where he relives his last day on earth, over and over again.  In this time in purgatory (or before the Turn), he gets the chance to make changes in his life, and possibly accepting Jesus as his Savior before his time there is over.  Hebrews 9:27 says "And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment" (ESV).  As this verse states, we don't get a do-over.  Once we die, we face our judgment, whether in heaven or in hell.  Also, in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells a parable about Lazarus the beggar and the rich man.  The beggar had nothing and begged for crumbs off the rich man's table, getting none, while the rich man had everything he ever wanted.  When he talks about their deaths, Jesus says the beggar is carried by angels to Abraham's bosom and the rich man goes to hell, each getting what they deserve.  There is no time to change your mind after you die.  The choices you make here on earth will determine your lot in the hereafter.  Jesus, Paul, Peter and other New Testament authors pleads with their readers to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior before it is too late.  None of them ever talk about getting a second chance after death.
     As much as I wanted to finish this book, this idea of a do-over after death just bothered me so much it was all I could see.

This book was provided by Fiction Guild and Thomas Nelson Publishers 
for review without compensation.

Billy Coffey's critically acclaimed books combine rural Southern charm wiht a vision far beyond the ordinary.  He is a regular contributor to several publications, where he writes about faith and life.  Billy lives with his wife and two children in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains.  Visit him at www.billycoffey.com, on Facebook at billycoffeywriter, or on Twitter at @billycoffey.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Sister Eve and the Blue Nun Book Review

 
Divine Private Detective Agency 
Mystery Series
Book Three

SUMMARY:  After a murder at the monastery, Sister Eve may need a miracle if she is to prove a dear friend isn't a cold-blooded killer.
     Sister Eve, a motorcycle-riding nun with a natural (or is it supernatural?) gift for solving murders returns to teh enclave she once called home and quickly finds herself confronting yet another mysterious death.
     Someone has poisoned Dr. Kelly Middlesworth - a researcher on the life and ministry of 17th-century's revered "Blue Nun" - and a set of irreplaceable historic documents have disappeared before they could even be examined. 
     When all evidence seems to point to the victim's brother, Sister Eve sets out to expose the killer and learn the explosive truth those missing manuscripts might contain.
     Chasing a killer is dangerous work, and as her two worlds collide, Sister Eve may need some heavenly help simply to survive.

REVIEW:  This story was an intriguing one.  The murder of a professor about to show the world some missing manuscripts that could help "The Blue Nun" finally achieve sainthood was a new one for me.  When the evidence seems to point to the victim's brother, a monk who lives at the enclave, I like how Sister Eve does what she can to help clear his name.  I like how she was determined to find the real murder by risking her own life.  Sometimes the story seemed to drag and at others, repeat the same information. The discovery of the actual murderer seemed a bit of a stretch but, I like how the author tied in the stories of the Blue Nun with Sister Eve and the end of the story.
     This is the third novel about Sister Eve.  It does okay standing alone but sometimes I wondered if reading the other books would help fill in some of the gaps of her personal backstory.

This book was provided by Fiction Guild and Thomas Nelson Publishers
for review without compensation.
 
Lynne Hinton is the New York Times bestselling author of Friendship Cake and The Art of Arranging Flowers, along with sixteen other books.  She holds a Master of Divinity degree from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California.  She has served as hospice chaplain, church pastor, and retreat leader.  Lynne is a regular columnist with The Charlotte Observer.  A native of North Carolina, she lives with her husband and dog in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Visit Lynne's website at www.lynnehinton.com or on Facebook at Lynne-Hinton-Books.

Without Warning Book Review

Elite Guardians Series
Book Two

SUMMARY:  Intensity.  Skill.  Tenacity.  The bodyguards of Elite Guardians Agency have it all.
     Katie Singleton, a partner with the Elite Guardians Protection Agency, stumbles upon her next assignment quite by accident.  Spotting blue lights at a familiar restaurant, she stops to investigate, only to discover that owner Daniel Matthews has become the target of someone who will go to any lengths to put him out of business.
     Daniel might be concerned, but he's not convinced that a bodyguard - and a female one at that - is necessary.  A new attack and his niece's urgings are enough to make him reconsider.  He and Katie must figure out who's behind the intimidation and threats - before a would-be killer strikes again.

REVIEW:  Lynette Eason keeps up her winning streak with the second book in the Elite Guardians series.  This book starts off with a bang and keeps running until the end.  There is a lot of back and forth action that you can't just skim over.  You must take your time reading or you will miss something needed to solve the puzzles.  I like how both Katie and Daniel face their PTSD triggers and are able to work through the incidences where they occur.  The ending of this book was a surprise.  I thought I had the culprit figured out but was not expecting the final conclusion. 
     This is a fabulous book.  It is a great story that can stand alone.  Reading the first one in this series will help you understand this protection agency and some of the relationships better, though, it is not necessary.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Lynette Eason is the bestselling author of the Women of Justice series, the Deadly Reunions series, and the Hidden Identity series, as well as Always Watching in the Elite Guardians series.  She is the winner of an ACFW Carol Award, the Selah Award, and the Inspirational Readers' Choice Award.  She lives in South Carolina.  Learn more at www.lynetteeason.com.

Deadly Encounter Book Review

FBI Task Force Series
Book One

SUMMARY:  Is it mere coincidence, or part of a carefully orchestrated plan?
     Airport ranger volunteer Stacy Broussard expected a peaceful Saturday morning ride around the perimeter of Houston's airport.  What she encounters instead is a brutal homicide and a baffling mystery.  Next to the body is an injured dog, the dead man's motorcycle, and a drone armed with a laser capable to taking down a 747.
     Though FBI Specialist Alex LeBlanc sees a clear-cut case of terrorism, his past has taught him to be suspicious of everyone, even witnesses.  Even bleeding-heart veterinarians like Stacy.  But when her gruesome discovery is only the first thing in a string of incidents that throw her life into a tailspin, Alex begins to wonder if Stacy was targeted.  As a health emergency endangers Stacy's community and the task force pulls in leads from all directions, Alex and Stacy must work together to prevent another deadly encounter.

REVIEW:  This story kept me on my toes.  Trying to figure out how all the parts fit together to form an answer to the many problems was thought provoking and stimulating.  There were a few times I had to reread sections to remember what had happened, who was involved and why.  It was fascinating reading all the different ways the antagonist(s) plotted and schemed to get the results they wanted.
     Stacy's love for Whitt, her neglected and abused neighbor, was admirable.  She did what she could to show him not all adults were horrible people. I also like how she pursued trying to become his foster mom, and hopefully mom, and encouraged him to not let the past dictate his future.
     This was a marvelous story that kept me turning pages right to the end.

This book was provided by Tyndale House for review without compensation.

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author whose novels have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards, and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne du Maurier, and Carol Award contests.  When she's not writing, DiAnn is buy teaching and doing research through the FBI Citizens Academy.  She and her husband live in Houston, Texas.  Visit her online at www.diannmills.com. 

Fetching Sweetness Book Review


SUMMARY:  Standing between Stephanie and her dream is one hundred pounds of lovable trouble.
     It should have been so simple for Stephanie Pink:  Meet up with Agnes Wharton in a small town in California, retrieve the reclusive author's valuable new manuscript, and be promoted to a full-fledged literary agent.
     But Agnes's canine companion, Sweetness, decided to make a break for it before Stephanie can claim her prize.  Until Agnes has Sweetness safely back at home in Eagle Cliff, Washington, Stephanie will never set eyes on the manuscript she needs to make her dreams come true.
     When Stephanie tracks the runaway mutt to a campground, she meets Rhett Hastings - a man also on the run from a different life and a costly mistake.  Rhett agrees to help Stephanie search for the missing dog . . . thus launching a surprising string of adventures and misadventures.
     Once Sweetness gets added to the mix, it's a recipe for love and loss, merriment and mayhem, fun and faith in the backwoods of the Pacific Northwest.

REVIEW:  Fulfilling dreams is wonderful, but trying to fulfill the dreams of others will not end in the way you think.  Both Rhett and Stephanie are perfect examples.  Rhett broke his sister's heart after having her fiance' deported.  Stephanie's brother dreamed of having their own publishing company.  As each one tries to correct past mistakes and do what they think will make everything perfect, everything just falls apart. 
     I like Rhett.  His change from a "take no prisoners" mentality to one who prays over decisions and looks for direction from God is admirable.  I love how he sticks to his plan and doesn't run back to his company at the first sign of trouble with each.  His reliance on scripture is pleasing, too and his integrity, after leaving his business, is top-notch.  A person can change and Rhett is a great example.
     Stephanie seems to barge through without thought of the aftermath.  She assumes things, which wind up being wrong, and doesn't think about how it will affect herself or those around her.  I do like how she takes care of Sweetness and tries to take responsibility for him. 
     This was a decent story with some great parts but for some reason, I just had a harder time getting a feel for it.  Agnes's actions all the way around irritated me.  That, along with the ending, just made it more difficult for me to enjoy.  Sorry.

This book was provided by Litfuse Publicity Group and Harvest House Publishers 
for review without compensation.

Dana Mentink is a multi-published, award-winning writer.  When she's not clacking away on the keyboard, she busies herself teaching third grade.  Mostly, she loves to be home with her husband, two daughters, a rascally rescued terrier, a chubby box turtle, and a feisty parakeet.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

A Flight of Arrows Book Review

Pathfinders Series
Book Two

SUMMARY:  Hearts are divided.  Loyalties will be tested.  The fates of two families hang in the balance.
     Twenty years ago, during the devastating fall of Fort William Henry in 1757, a young Redcoat named Reginald Aubrey stole a newborn boy - the lighter-skinned of Oneida twins - and raised him as his own.
      No one connected to Reginald escaped unscathed from this crime.  Not his adopted daughter Anna.  Not Stone Thrower, the Native American father determined to get his son back.  Not Two Hawks, William's twin brother separated since birth, living in the shadow of his absence and hoping to build a future with Anna.  Nor Lydia, who longs for Reginald to be free from his self-imposed emotional prison and embrace God's forgiveness - and her love.
     Now William, whose identity has been shattered after discovering the truth of his birth, hides in the ranks of an increasingly aggressive British army.  The Redcoats prepare to attack frontier New York, and the Continentals, aided by Two Hawks and the Oneida warriors, rally to defend it.  As the Revolutionary War penetrates the Mohawk Valley, two families separated by culture but united by love and faith must find a way to reclaim the son marching toward them in the ranks of their enemies.

REVIEW:  Lori Benton does it again and knocks the ball out of the park with this novel.  Having read all her other novels except for Book One in this series, The Wood's Edge, she carries on her distinct style and, with it, her readers.  The research she puts into each one comes out as you read about the battles, locations, lifestyles of both Native Americans and colonialists and the mindset of times.  I felt like I was right there beside the characters and could feel the depth of hurt, love, anger and other emotions each one went through.  There were times I was so caught up in the story that I had a hard time adjusting when I had to set my book down.  This is a novel you will want to read.
     This is the second book in this series.  I did not have the opportunity to read the first one.  The author did a great job explaining the first novel as she went along so that I did not feel I missed anything.  Some time in the future, I hope to read the first just to fill in the gaps and have a complete understanding of the events.
    This is one author that you need to keep on your radar.

This book was provided by Waterbrook Multnomah and Blogging for Books 
for review without compensation.

 Lori Benton was raised east of the Appalachian Mountains, where she was surrounded by three hundred years of American history.  Now her novels transport readers to the eighteenth century, where she brings to life the Colonial and early Federal periods of our nation's history.  She is the multiple award-winning author of numerous books including Burning Sky, The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn, and The Wood's Edge (Book one in the Pathfinders series).  Lori makes her home in Oregon.

Dawn at Emberwilde Book Review

Treasures of Surrey Series
Book Two

SUMMARY:  Isabel Creston never dared to dream that love could be hers.  Now, at the edge of a forest filled with dark secrets, she faces a fateful choice between love and duty.
     For as long as she can remember, beautiful and free-spirited Isabel has strained against the rules and rigidity of the Fellsworth School in the rolling English countryside. No longer a student, Isabel set her sights on a steady role as a teacher at the school, a safe yet stifling establishment that would enable her to care for her younger sister Lizzie, who was left in her care after her father's death.
     The unexpected arrival of a stranger with news of unknown relatives turns Isabel's small, predictable world upside down, sweeping her and her young charge into a labyrinth of intrigue and hidden motives.
     At her new family's invitation, Isabel and Lizzie relocate to Emberwilde, a sprawling estate adjacent to a vast, mysterious wood rife with rumors and ominous folklore - along with whispers of something far more sinister.  Perhaps even more startling, two handsome men begin pursuing Isabel, forcing her to learn the delicate dance between attraction, the intricate rules of courtship, and the hopes of her heart.
     At Emberwilde Isabel will discover that the key to unlocking the mystery of her past may also open the door to her future and security.  But first she must find it - in the depths of Emberwilde's Forest.

REVIEW:  This is a wonderful period piece set in England in 1817.  Isabel is a person to be admired.  She takes care of her half-sister Lizzie like a daughter.  She is protective of her and insists Lizzie be included when invited by distant relatives to come live with them.  She is not afraid to speak her mind and tries to think good of everyone. 
     The Emberwilde estate and people in the surrounding area are contradictory.  Everything is not always was it seems.  The state of disrepair around the house and grounds is conflicting in regards to the money being spent on a new wardrobe for Isabel and Lizzie.  While her aunt insists on a lavish lifestyle and elaborate parties, you wonder where the money is coming from to pay for it. The woods that surround Emberwilde is said to be haunted and none of the locals will enter but the local sheriff finds evidence of a recent smuggling operation there.  The young man who her aunt arranges for her to court is in charge of the local orphanage but doesn't seem to care about children or worry when they might be in danger.  The local sheriff lives in a boarding house in town but has a large estate that he doesn't know what to do with.
     The twists and turns the story and characters take kept me trying to figure out who all was involved in the smuggling ring and how events would play out.  I only figured out a portion and was pleasantly surprised with the ending.  Great book!
     This is the second book in the Treasures of Surrey series but it is a stand alone novel.  You don't even need to read it to fully understand this one.

This book was provided by Fiction Guild and Thomas Nelson Publishers 
 for review without compensation.

Sarah E. Ladd received the 2011 Genesis Award in historical romance for The  Heiress of Winterwood.  She is a graduate of Ball State University and has more than ten years of marketing experience.  Sarah lives in Indiana with her amazing family and spunky golden retriever.  Visit Sarah online at www.sarahladd.com; on Facebook at SarahLaddAuthor or Twitter at @SarahLaddAuthor.