Category Archives: Fiction

Isaiah’s Legacy

Title: Isaiah’s Legacy
Author: Mesu Andrews
Publisher: Waterbrook
ISBN: 978-0-7352-9188-1

“I thought we wanted to make Judah better. Teach Nasseh about the true gods that could make him the greatest king in Judah’s history,” a confused Shulle considers in Mesu Andrew’s novel, Isaiah’s Legacy: A Novel of Prophets and Kings.

~ What ~
The third book in the series, this four-hundred-page paperback targets those who enjoy Biblical historical fiction involving King Manasseh, Israel’s Old Testament king whose reign of terror forced Jews to worship and sacrifice to other gods. Containing no profanity or explicit sexual situations, its topics of sorcery, physical abuse, torture, child sacrifices, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. A chart of characters, reader’s note, map, and prologue is at the beginning, while the ending includes an epilogue, acknowledgments, and author’s note. Corresponding Bible verses are written out at the beginning of each chapter with references.

Written mostly in first person, this comprehensive story covers over fifty-years of Judah’s history when King Hezekiah dies and his smart but troubled and dysfunctional son takes his place and turns from trusting Yahew, the God of his father, to worshipping foreign idols. Told mainly through the eyes of Shulle, the child, friend, and lover of the young king, she learns slowly how trusting in the Almighty no matter what the cost is the only answer to the evil, tragic, and cruel ruling of her husband, Nasseh.

~ Why ~
Having read the Bible cover to cover yearly, I was extremely impressed with the detail Andrews divulges in this rewritten story. With the tale’s focus on dark arts of curses, cures, and charms, it shows how demonic planning and plotting to take our eyes off the Lord can never be overshadowed by God’s eternal plan, even when we do not understand what it is. The writer’s characterizations are flawless of a protagonist, young king who becomes a ruthless dictator, and family members who either religiously follow or blatantly disregard God’s Word.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ may not appreciate the beliefs and prayers to Him for help, support, and peace. Others may not care for the ample liberties taken to enhance the storyline, but they are well written and believable. A couple of times I had to check the Bible verses or research historical facts (example: Isaiah’s death by being sawed in half is not in the Old Testament but documented in ancient manuscripts).

~ Wish ~
Although the author’s note explains vaguely what portions are historical or fictional, it would be helpful if Hezekiah’s demise, Manasseh’s release from prison, and the royal family’s extensive background were verified. I had always thought cats were the only domesticated animal never mentioned in the Bible.

~ Want ~
If you love Old Testament historical fiction about forgiveness, love, and redemption, this creative, imaginative read will not only educate you about a wicked time in Hebrew history, but it may also captivate your heart as what is your eternal legacy when you leave this earth.

Thanks to the Waterbrook & Multnomah Launch Team for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

#MesuAndrews #Isaiah’sLegacy #Israel’sKingManasseh #WaterbrookMultnomah

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/2NhCBcG

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Filed under ***** Great - A Keeper, If You Borrow It, Give It Back!, Book Review, Christian, Fiction

Darling Hedgehog Goes Down a Foxhole

Title: Darling Hedgehog Goes Down a Foxhole
Author: Auralee Arkinsly
Illustrator: Julia Swezy
Publisher: Capture Books
ISBN: 978-1-951084-06-6

“We’ve each learned a lesson about the nature of things … Not every stranger can be a friend,” the little critter is told by her father in Auralee Arkinsly’s children’s book, Darling Hedgehog Goes Down a Foxhole.

~ What ~
This numbered forty-four-page paperback targets four to nine-year-old children who like stories about animals and befriending strangers. Being a three-chapter book, it would best be read out loud to beginner readers due to some complicated wording. Colorful but rudimentary illustrations are on each page.

In this short tale, a little hedgehog named Darling wakes up to find her parents missing so goes on a search to find them. When she falls down a hole and meets a fox, she tries all she can to friend the animal by helping out or doing exactly what it says. Only when the small spiny animal finds her parents in a precarious position does she realize that friendships may have the wrong intentions.

~ Why ~
This is a story about an innocent, naive creature who is beguiled by a fox for ulterior motives. The chapters are short and direct; the illustrations are easy to understand without providing too much detail.

~ Why Not ~
Children who are leary of strangers may become more fearful of them as the learn what intentions the fox has for the hedgehog. Some may get scared when it is discovered that the fox captures and imprisons small animals, later planning to eat them.

~ Wish ~
With this being a discouraging book about a fox tricking a hedgehog into doing what it wants, it did not address how the little animal easily forgot about its parents and never considered freeing the other imprisoned animals. Although the writer’s purpose may have been to be careful of strangers by stating not everyone can be a friend, it may establish insecurity and fear in trusting others.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for a kid’s book that is about a hedgehog learning to be cautious when meeting strangers, this may work, but I think it could potentially frighten some children.

Thanks to BookCrash and the author for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

#DarlingHedgehog #AuraleeArkinsly #CaptureBooks #Bookcrash

This book can be found at https://amzn.to/30LIxik

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Filed under *** OK - Don't Love It, Don't Hate It, Animals / Pets, Book Review, Childrens, Fiction

Unscripted

Title: Unscripted
Author: Davis Bunn
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-2787-1

“Despite the fact that you were arrested for fraud, everyone I spoke with declared you were both honest and good at your job,” Danny is told in Davis Bunn’s novel, Unscripted.

~ What ~
This three-hundred-and-sixty-eight-page paperback targets those who enjoy a fictional story about the movie and film industry. With no profanity, topics of depression, abandonment, and drug abuse may not be appropriate for immature readers.

In this tale based in Southern California, up and coming Danny Byrd finds himself in jail, broke and with a ruined reputation due to his business partner and once-best-friend absconding all funds from their two-bit movie production company. Mysteriously, Danny is freed from jail and given part ownership in a hotel in San Luis Obispo. Offered a chance to redeem his career by revamping a television movie script, he meets lawyer Megan Pierce, who would do anything to protect him, her newfound client. While dealing with the shame, rage, and deep-setted scars from the past, the man who wants to make his mark in the industry has to open up and realize he is not in control to move on with his life, work, and love.

~ Why ~
Having been born and raised in the San Fernando Valley and my husband was a child actor, I immediately related to the storyline of the Hollywood “climbing the ladder no matter who you trample on” scene. I enjoyed the two main characters’ roles and how they related to each other as they worked through their struggles and pain. The young new actress was genuine and realistic in how she consistently tried to please Danny.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like in-depth novels about the movie industry’s behind-the-scenes, legal issues, and sometimes underhanded deals may not be interested in this read. Others may get confused in the many individuals playing their parts so a list would be helpful at the beginning of the book.

~ Wish ~
With this being a technical novel regarding the LA film industry, it rarely mentions how God can heal and redeem those deep, hurtful of the past. I feel Bunn missed the perfect opportunity to have Megan’s father show Danny a Bible verse or two about dealing with pain and learning to trust God.

~ Want ~
If you want to know more about the ins and outs of corporate wheeling and dealing when it comes to film production, this story of a man’s unscripted path to redemption, hope, and acceptance will keep your attention.

Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars

Thanks to Revell for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

#Revell #DavisBunn #Unscripted

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/2m0u2sJ

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One More River to Cross

Title: One More River to Cross
Author: Jane Kirkpatrick
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-2702-4

“That however we are separated, our Father will watch over us and unite us all in this land before the one beyond,” a prayer is offered in Jane Kirkpatrick’s novel, One More River to Cross.

~ What ~
Based on a true story, this three-hundred-and-fifty-two-page paperback targets those interested in a group of wagoners crossing the snowy Sierra Nevadas in 1844. With no profanity, topics of injury, starvation, illness, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The beginning includes a map and list of characters while the ending has the author’s notes and acknowledgments, eleven discussion questions, biography, and advertisements.

In this tale, a group of Irish Catholics is on course from Missouri to Alta California when they run into trouble in the snowy Sierra Nevadas. Deciding to divide the large wagon train into three groups to survive, some continue on horseback while mostly women and children are left behind in a makeshift cabin and a few men stay with their discarded but valuable wagons. Focusing mainly from several married and single women’s perspectives of waiting for provisions and overcoming their arduous situations, they rely on God and each other to live another day.

~ Why ~
This is a gut-wrenching story of what men, women, and children had to sacrifice to come into a new land. Since my husband and I were born and raised in California and live in Oregon, I enjoyed reading about the places and terrain I have been. I appreciated the many-faceted characters as well as their strengths and weaknesses. The author’s arduous attention to detail shows her tender love of the topic.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like stories of the hardship of traveling when there were no roads and lots of snow will avoid this book. Although Biblical references are mentioned throughout the read, it may not be of interest to those who do not believe in God. Some may think there are far too many characters, but the list and map at the beginning of the book can be referred to often.

~ Wish ~
As with other books by the author, sometimes there is too much information or side subjects intertwined in the story. I often got confused of the many women and their roles, finding there were too many mentioned. I also wish all pronouns of God were capitalized for reverence.

~ Want ~
If you like historical fiction based on Irish Catholics and their wagon train transversing the mountainous Sierras during winter and how they did everything in their willpower to survive, this may be educational and entertaining.

Thanks to Revell for furnishing this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

#OneMoreRivertoCross #JaneKirkpatrick #Revell

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/31zaNG9

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Filed under **** Good - Will Be Glad to Pass On to Others, Book Review, Christian, Fiction

Christmas in Winter Hill

Title: Christmas in Winter Hill
Author: Melody Carlson
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3610-1

“December was right around the corner. And Winter Hill was not a place to shirk from Christmas,” Krista considers in Melody Carson’s novel, Christmas in Winter Hill.

~ What ~
This one-hundred-and-seventy-six-page hardbound targets those interested in a romantic Christmas story. With no profanity or too adult situations, topics of Santa Claus may not be appropriate for those who do not believe in the concept. The ending includes the writer’s biography with advertisements.

In this quaint holiday read, Krista and her eight-year-old daughter have moved to a small town in Washington where the single parent lands a job as the city manager. Since it is right at the beginning of the Christmas season, the mother dreads the upcoming holiday due to her lonely past while the daughter looks forward to it, even entering into a writing contest. Through newfound friends, especially contractor Conner, Krista not only learns not to be afraid of the holiday, but she finds how loved she is by the community.

~ Why ~
This is a quick read that shows how a small town bands together to celebrate Christmasville. I like how the residents all joined together to work on the project and were forgiving when they were in the wrong.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like stories about Christmas that focus on Santa may prefer to avoid this book that never mentions the Real Reason of Christ’s birth. Others may get irritated on the Hallmark happily-ever-after story and that prayer is mentioned as fleeting moments.

~ Wish ~
Although I liked the author’s writing style, I found the book rather disappointing in that Jesus was mentioned only one time – there was no nativity scene, wise men, shepherds – nothing that related to the basis of Christmas – only made-up, commercialized seasonal topics. When only half of Romans 8:28 is mentioned, the book misses the opportunity to explain that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”

~ Want ~
If you like a cutesy-wootsey Christmas tale with all the right fixings and favorites, this may be for you, but I cannot recommend it due to is total lack of the True Meaning of Christmas.

Thanks to Revell for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

#Revell #ChristmasinWinterHill #MelodyCarlson

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/30lC6Cm

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Filed under ** Think Twice - I Didn't Like It, Book Review, Christian, Fiction

The Girl Behind the Red Rope

Title: The Girl Behind the Red Rope
Author: Ted Dekker and Rachelle Dekker
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3653-8

“Please listen to wisdom, Grace. Don’t do this!” Bobbie begs the girl in Ted and Rachelle Dekker’s novel, The Girl Behind the Red Rope.

~ What ~
This three-hundred-and-thirty-six-page hardbound targets those who enjoy allegories of being the light in a dark world. With the words heck and hell used a few times, topics of physical abuse, torture, murder, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The ending includes both authors’ biographies and advertisements.

In this fast-paced read often written in first person, Grace has grown up only knowing that their community is protected from the evil Fury by the red rope that surrounds Haven Valley. Protected by spiritual leader Rose and her angel Sylous, the remote town must abide with all rules to survive. When outsiders cross over the red rope, Grace questions not only the required ways of living, but she wonders if the residents are following the wrong path to redemption. With her own spiritual guide to help her, she must have the wisdom and fortitude to understand the difference between fear and the light of love.

~ Why ~
Having read several of both authors’ works, I was pleased how well written this story was and that it focused on the Truth of Jesus while living in love without fear. The reader will immediately become engaged with the protagonist who is trying to listen to her heart and head while her subconscious of good and evil crave for her attention.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus may not have any interest in a book about how legalism can blind believers. Some who do not care for allegories about learning to overcome fear and cleave to the Light of Christ will pass on it. With the complicated back and forth of trying to figure out who is right and who is wrong when it comes to the Real God, the book often gets confusing. I found the theme repetitive of similar books written by Ted.

~ Wish ~
While I appreciate the connection of fear and guilt to encompassing one’s life as they struggle to relate to God, I question if the eternal plan of salvation was clearly stated for an unbeliever reading the book. I wish all pronouns of God were capitalized for reverence.

~ Want ~
If you like a story about overcoming one’s chronic fear and guilt of the constant rules of religion, this may be a good selection as it verifies that those in Christ are His light of the world.

Thanks to Revell for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/2NXpO0s

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Filed under **** Good - Will Be Glad to Pass On to Others, Book Review, Christian, Fiction

You Belong With Me

Title: You Belong with Me
Author: Tari Faris
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3647-7

“You can never really fix something shattered. But you can take the pieces and make something even better. Don’t leave the painful parts of your life in a box on the shelf. Figure out how to make something beautiful out of them,” Hannah is told in Tari Faris’s novel, You Belong with Me.

~ What ~
The first in the Restoring Heritage series, this three-hundred-and-sixty-eight-page paperback targets those interested in a contemporary romance in a struggling Midwest town. With no profanity, topics of abandonment and the foster care system may not be appropriate for immature readers. The ending includes an excerpt from the next book in the series, a dozen discussion questions, acknowledgments, the author’s biography, and advertisements.

In this story set in the small town of Heritage, Michigan, twenty-five-year-old Hannah Thornton is determined to fix everything and everyone, including her decades-old friendship with Luke, a once-foster child who still feels he does not belong anywhere. When she enters the town into a nationwide restoration contest, she tries to put the shattered pieces from their past back together her way, not realizing God has different plans. With the help of Luke, her brother, and other key players in the community, she not only accepts help from others, but she learns to trust and believe in them. In the meantime, Luke must process who he really is and that he is wanted.

~ Why ~
This is a fast, easy afternoon read of past loves that are reignited when lies are forgiven, misunderstandings are explained, and truths are confessed. I like the long-term friendship between the two protagonists and how they fight to keep it as it moved from platonic to romantic. Being the first in the series, many of the peripheral characters are important to the storyline.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not understand the charm of small-town living may not enjoy this read that focuses on working together to beautify their community while deepening relationships. Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ may not like the references of praying to God and allowing Him to be the decision-maker and guide in their lives.

~ Wish
While I appreciated the focus on prayer as an answer to all, I wished the story included the eternal plan of salvation. I found the main character to be a little shallow in her wishy-washiness, careless determination, and self-absorbed decision-making that could have affected the entire town negatively.

~ Want ~
If you enjoy a small-town romance with a bit of intrigue, forgiveness, and honesty, this is a lovely read that will make you want to know what happens in Heritage in the next book of the series.

Thanks to Revell for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/34kDW9x

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Filed under **** Good - Will Be Glad to Pass On to Others, Book Review, Christian, Fiction

The Words Between Us

Title: The Words Between Us
Author: Erin Bartels
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3492-3

“I promise I won’t tell a soul. You can trust me, Robin Dickinson,” the fearful young teen with a hidden past is told in Erin Bartels’s novel, The Words Between Us.

~ What ~
This three-hundred-and-eighty-four-page paperback targets those interested in a young girl’s struggle with identity, trust, and relationships. With no profanity but the use of slang words such as slut, hell week, and heck, topics of adultery, murder, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The ending includes acknowledgments, an excerpt of the author’s prior novel, her biography, and advertisements.

In this story written in first person in chapters that fluctuate between past and present tense, fourteen-year-old Robin tries to live a life of secrets when both her high-profile parents are sent to prison. Sent to live with her grandmother and persnickety African Grey parrot, she meets high school senior, Peter, and they develop a deep friendship based on famous authors. As the book progresses, Robin is eighteen years older and still stuck in a circle of regret, loss, and shame as she slowly unpeels her past while being protected by her financially-struggling bookstore.

~ Why ~
Writing from first person in both past and present tense with decades apart that grow closer toward the end, the author does a fine job describing a resilient protagonist who grows up untrusting, second-guessing, and assuming as she determinedly escapes her family’s past. The interwoven inserted novels shared between Robin and Peter are the glue of their relationship that gets torn apart due to misunderstandings. I appreciate that forgiveness is the key to accepting others.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like stories of a somewhat self-absorbed individual being forced to grow up due to unwitting circumstances and accepting one’s lot in life may not appreciate this book. Others may not care for the little references about God or eternal salvation that provides permanent peace and happiness. Some may feel disappointed the ending was rushed.

~ Wish
I wish more references of relying on God were included, all pronouns of God were capitalized for reverence, and no slang words were included. Adding discussion questions at the end would be thoughtful for book clubs.

~ Want ~
If you are an avid book reader of the classics and enjoy a coming of age story that is dealt with decades later, this is a lovely read that promotes honesty and forgiveness.

Thanks to Revell for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/2LcTlBs

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Filed under **** Good - Will Be Glad to Pass On to Others, Book Review, Christian, Fiction

Arcade and the Golden Travel Guide

Title: Arcade and the Golden Travel Guide
Author: Rashad Jennings
Illustrator: Alan Brown
Publisher: Zonderkids
ISBN: 978-0-310-76743-5

“He wants the Triple T Token. He’s not going to get it. It belongs to me,” Arcade emphatically tells his friends in Rashad Jennings’s young adult novel, Arcade and the Golden Travel Guide.

~ What ~
The second in the Coin Slot Chronicles, this two-hundred-and-forty-page paperback targets those who enjoy magical time-traveling mysteries that contain Christian morals. With no profanity, the book is geared toward ages eight and older, especially tweens and preteens. The ending has fifteen discussion questions, acknowledgments, an excerpt from the next book in the series, and advertisements.

In this story based mainly in Virginia, young Arcade continues to time-travel with his sister using the Triple T Token. When they stumble on their parents being young and in love at a mini-golf course, they visit their previous hometown, trying to figure out why the entertaining location has fallen apart. With the help of Arcade’s friends, they travel to Egypt, Holland, India, the Golden Gate Bridge, Niagra Falls, and a hospital as they secretly repair the fun facility and are followed by someone who wants the magic token.

~ Why ~
This is an engaging, entertaining series that many third and fourth graders will enjoy and appreciate. I loved the way the author inconspicuously introduced topics such as choice, control, humility, generosity, and forgiveness without being preachy. The relationship dynamics between the kids are endearing and charming as the siblings watch out for each other and friends pitch in and help solve dilemmas.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like books that mention God, Jesus, praying, and the Bible may not like this read. While the book has references to Christianity, it does not offer the simple plan of eternal salvation. Others may find inconsistencies in some of the facts or the concept of time traveling through a glittered elevator unrealistic, but it is innocuous.

~ Wish ~
I thought the writer did a wonderful job connecting to his audience through the “dope” dialogue and interests of the age group targeted, but I was disappointed when he repeatedly used the supposedly cool word “namaste,” perhaps not realizing that its literal translation means “the divine in me bows to the divine in you,” which is based on Hinduism. Vulnerable young readers may now repeat the word, unaware that they are acknowledging false gods, not the One True God. I prefer all pronouns of God capitalized for reverence.

~ Want ~
If you like a series for young tweens and preteens who enjoy adventures, time-travel, and mysteries with an undertone of Christian morals, this would be appreciated by the young adult market, but I have marked it down a full point for possibly misleading others about false gods.

Thanks to Z-Blog Squad for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/2Hc35tp

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Filed under *** OK - Don't Love It, Don't Hate It, Book Review, Childrens, Christian, Fiction

The One & Only Wolfgang

Title: The One & Only Wolfgang: From Pet Rescue to One Big Happy Family
Authors: Steve Greig & Mary Rand Hess
Illustrator: Nadja Sarell
Publisher: Zonderkidz
ISBN: 978-0-310-76823-4

“It makes no difference that Waylon can’t hear, or that Stuart is a rabbit, or that Bikini is a pig, or that Betty is a chicken, because … Family is Acceptance,” Steve Greig and Mary Rand Hess write near the end of their book, The One & Only Wolfgang: From Pet Rescue to One Big Happy Family.

~ What ~
This thirty-two-page over-sized hardbound targets children ages four to eight years old who like stories about pets, especially those that have been rescued.  With no scary scenes, it is about a group of older or handicapped animals that may seem like misfits but are perfect as a family.

In this short tale, a dozen animals with different personalities and characteristics live in a large house. Whether they have disabilities such as no teeth or being hard of hearing, are small or huge, or like to eat cheese or watch movies, they enjoy each other and are thankful for family and friendships.

~ Why ~
This is an adorable book about a bunch of mangy critters from tiny 18-year old Eeyore the Chihuahua and tea-cup size Englebert to the gargantuan horse-sized Enoch and fashionista Edna, along with more dogs, a pig, chicken, and rabbit. I like how the illustrator combined photographs of the rescued animals with hand-drawn backgrounds.

~ Why Not ~
Some may not like the idea of rescuing abandoned, unadoptable pets, but these have a special charm of their own as they live happily with each other. Beginner readers may have trouble with the more complicated three- or four-syllable words.

~ Wish ~
I think the concept of this book is important and needed in a society that discards or cannot take care of pets for different reasons. I did not like the use of the word “ain’t” in one of Bikini’s quotes as it is not helpful as a new reader may consider it acceptable to use.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for a book about how rescued animals become one big, well-loved family, this is a good read that would be appreciated by the Humane Society and other animal shelters.

Thanks to Z-Blog Squad for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/2ZagOH0

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Filed under **** Good - Will Be Glad to Pass On to Others, Book Review, Childrens, Fiction