Category Archives: 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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Dangerous Relations

Title: Dangerous Relations
Author: Carol J. Post
Publisher: Harlequin
ISBN: 978-1-335-23232-8

“She’d neglected her niece, ignored her sister and fought him for Chloe. But there was no way he’d leave her at the mercy of a ruthless killer,” Ryan determined in Carol J. Post’s novel, Dangerous Relations.

~ What ~
Part of the Love Inspired Suspense series, this The Baby Protectors novel is two-hundred-and-twenty-four-page pocket-sized paperback targets those who enjoy inspirational suspense while dealing with dysfunctional families, caring loved ones, and dying. With no profanity or sexual content, topics of physical abuse, murder, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The book promotes that God is always there for us. An author’s note and insert of other Love Inspired series books are at the end.

In this current-day story based in the state of Washington, Shelby Adair is once again picking up the pieces from her dysfunctional family, but this time it is because her sister has been murdered and she is left taking care of a fifteen-month-old child. When Ryan McConnel demands custody of the little girl because he is her uncle, Shelby relies on Addy, the nanny who has been taking care of the girl since birth.

After several attempts on her life, Shelby has to learn to trust Ryan, even though his father is a powerful man with a shady past who always gets what he wants. The two protagonists try to find out why the baby’s mother was killed as they get caught up in a cat and mouse game, trying to stay alive.

~ Why ~
This fast-paced drama focuses on protecting an innocent child while searching for a killer. I appreciate how the relationship between Shelby and Ryan advanced from one where both were on guard to becoming friends and then falling in love. The detailed locations and scenery were entertaining, especially since I live in the Pacific Northwest.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not know Jesus Christ personally may not appreciate the concept of being a relationship with Him, who is always there by our side. Some may not care for the topic of a child left parentless with relatives fighting over her guardianship.

~ Wish ~
Having guessed the killer in the first chapter, I wish it was less obvious. While I like the smallness of the book, I found the tiny print hard to read.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for a suspenseful fiction that shows how love conquers bad family connections, trying emotional setbacks, and the search for a murderer, this will keep your attention for a few hours.

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

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/2KixAj8

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

Vow of Justice

Title: Vow of Justice
Author: Lynette Eason
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-2720-8

“Just remember, justice and revenge are two very different things,” Linc tells Allie in Lynette Eason’s novel, Vow of Justice.

~ What ~
The fourth and final book in the Blue Justice series, this three-hundred-and-thirty-six-page paperback targets those who enjoy crime suspense with Christian undertones and light romance. Containing slang words such as heck and schmuck, the topics of physical abuse, torture, and murder may not be appropriate for immature readers. The book ends with the first chapter of the writer’s next book of novellas, acknowledgments, author’s biography, and advertisements for other Revell books.

Allie Radcliffe has done all she can to deal with her past by becoming an FBI special agent, even keeping some of it private and hidden from her partner, Lincoln St. John. But when she appears to have died in an explosion, she tries to keep one step ahead of the game by locating the murderer who killed her family years ago. Meanwhile, when Linc learns the woman who has captured his heart is alive, he tries to protect her even when it seems impossible. As they work together, they learn that justice is more important than revenge, especially if you know who is involved.

~ Why ~
This romantic suspense not only includes layered murder plots that happened almost two decades ago, but also it has the reader questioning who is loyal versus out for revenge. I like the relationship between the two main protagonists and how they work out their differences and issues.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ may not like the prayers to God or calling on His name for protection. Others may not like a story that contains the help of Linc’s family, especially if they have not read the prior books in the series. However, the main story can stand alone.

~ Wish ~
Since I had guessed the outcome of the tale about half-way through, I wish Linc’s family was not part of solving the story since I had not read any prior books. I prefer the capitalization of all pronouns of God for reverence.

~ Want ~
If you have read the prior three books in the series and want to know what happens to Linc and his family, this does a thorough job explaining a murder mystery. If you only read this one, you will see how pretending a death helped uncovered more than the truth.

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

#LynetteEason #VowofJustice #RevellReads

This book can be found at https://amzn.to/2GKnLsg

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Deadly Intentions

Title: Deadly Intentions
Author: Lisa Harris
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8—7-2192-3

“But I believe that all three were working on the same project in the same lab. I believe their deaths are connected,” Caitlyn explains to Josh in Lisa Harris’s novel, Deadly Intentions.

~ What ~
This three-hundred-and-twenty-page paperback targets those who enjoy crime suspense with Christian undertones and light romance. Containing no profanity, the topics of alcohol, physical abuse, and murder may not be appropriate for immature readers. The book ends with the first chapter of the writer’s next novel, acknowledgments, author’s biography, and advertisements for other Revell books.

Set in Houston, Texas, Caitlyn Lindsey has been a research scientist for two years at her job and wonders if there is a connection between three people who have recently died. With the help of Josh Solomon, the husband of one of the deceased employees and a police officer, they try to uncover what was the link that caused all of them to die. As they learn about a potentially dangerous threat to the city, they begin to develop feelings for each other.

~ Why ~
This is a fast read that packs plenty of action and twists and turns as Caitlyn and Josh try to stay one step ahead of a cat-and-mouse game, trying to figure out who is after them and why people are being murdered. I liked learning the scientific background of the research lab and how a police department tries to follow protocol to protect their citizens.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ may not like the inserted prayers to God or calling on His name for protection. Others may not like a story of a woman who is being tracked down and a cop being set up.

~ Wish ~
While I liked the tale’s fast pace and protectiveness of the protagonists, I felt some of the scenarios were minorly far-fetched in how the two were continually being monitored.

~ Want ~
If you are into cop stories with suspense and a touch of romance, this may be a good weekend read that occupies your mind.

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

This book can be found at https://amzn.to/2YF8oHB

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

A Glitter of Gold

Title: A Glitter of Gold
Author: Liz Johnson
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-2941-7

“It don’t have to be gold or silver or nothin’ that glitters. Anything a man sets his mind on is his treasure,” Anne is told in Liz Johnson’s novel, A Glimmer of Gold.

~ What ~
The second in the Georgia Coast Romance series, this three-hundred-and-sixty-eight-page book targets those who enjoy contemporary Christian romance, sunken treasure, and relationship dynamics. With no profanity but the use of the word heck, adult topics of piracy, slavery, and murder may not be appropriate for immature readers. The ending includes an excerpt of the final book in the series, acknowledgments, and author’s biography.

Set in Savanah, Georgia, Anne Norris has moved across the country to forget her past – a past of making wrong decisions that changed her life. Overcome by shame, she avoids contact with men, the media, or anything thing that makes her feel like the walls are closing in again. When she finds a gold hilt believed to be two-hundred-and-fifty years old, she joins Carter Hale, a man who has no interest following in his family’s footsteps, to learn more about the old object. As they search for a sunken ship that holds the key to their survival, they must let go of the past to find God’s grace in the future.

~Why ~
With the theme of forgiveness, this is a romantic story of finding where one’s true treasures lie, especially if they have no monetary value. I enjoyed the realness and honesty of the two main characters and how they learned to trust each other, no matter what the outcome. The old letters from centuries ago were well written and an integral part of the story.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like Christian romances will pass on this story that promotes God’s grace and forgiveness while learning to forgive oneself. Although no eternal plan of salvation is discussed, it does have references to the Bible and sporadic prayers to God. With a twist at the end, the romance is somewhat predictable.

~ Wish ~
I found the role of one person unrealistic in how she found answers quickly and effortlessly. I wish all pronouns of God were capitalized for reverence.

~ Want ~
If you like a mystery of a sunken ship, women who hide their past, and a love story between two who must learn to trust each other, this is a light and breezy read.

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

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

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

The String

Title: The Strings
Author: Caleb Breakey
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3507-4

“I am your conductor. And that’s what you will call me,” the sinister puppetmaster dictates to his strings in Caleb Breakey’s novel, The String.

~ What ~
The first in the Deadly Games series, this three-hundred-and-twenty-page paperback targets those interested in contemporary Christian suspense. With no profanity, topics of physical and mental abuse, dying, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The ending includes acknowledgments and the writer’s biography with advertisements.

In this dark drama that is sometimes written in first person, Mark Haas has kept his past hidden from his girlfriend while being a university cop. But when he is sequestered to be one of the strings in a murderous plot designed by a person who knows all about him and others, many are forced to make choices of who lives or dies. With fear driving normal people to madness, the one in control leverages and toys with the will of unsuspected participants who all have hidden sins.

~ Why ~
This fast-paced read has a devious character who seems to always be one step ahead of those he has chosen and punishes for anyone who causes a knot in his plans. The story moves quickly along while the reader is pulled into the symphony of choice versus will, evil versus morals, and right versus wrong. I liked the protagonist’s determination and fortitude to search and destroy his enemy at any cost.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like stories of torture, murder, and twisted minds will not appreciate this book that involves a person who wants to control others. Some may not like the disturbing beginning or the graphic video depictions.

~ Wish ~
Although I liked the author’s writing style, I thought the ending was rushed and the unveiling of the conductor a bit unrealistic. I wish all pronouns of God were capitalized for reverence. It would be ideal if the eternal plan of salvation were added.

~ Want ~
If you like a disturbing read of a person who would do anything to anyone to be in control, this one will keep you up at night, but it may not be for those who prefer innocuous, cushy, romantic suspense.

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

#DeadlyGamesTheString #CalebBreakey

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/2SwGc8p

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

Light from Distant Stars

Title: Light from Distant Stars
Author: Shawn Smucker
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-2851-9

“But especially, especially in regards to the death of my father,” Cohen pleads during his confession to his priest in Shawn Smucker’s novel, Light from Distant Stars.

~ What ~
This three-hundred-and-ninety-one-page paperback targets those interested in a Christian dramatic suspense. With no profanity, topics of abuse, adultery, dying, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The ending includes an excerpt of another book by the author, acknowledgments, and the writer’s biography with advertisements.

In this dark drama, middle-aged Cohen Marah is at a crossroads in life when he feels responsible for his father’s imminent death. After his ex-pastor dad is found in a pool of his blood at the funeral home where they work and live upstairs, the son must deal with the past to accept the future regarding dying. In reliving the unveiling of his parent’s sins and covering of his own, he spends days at his father’s hospital bedside, nightly escaping to a nearby church’s confessional, forcing him to face his fears and guilt.

~ Why ~
This book shows the heartbreak, emotional wilderness, and fear of death one goes through when losing a loved one. I appreciated the hymns of salvation, eternity, and Jesus’s love included that one can cling to for support. Since the book hones in on forgiveness of others and oneself due to life’s mistakes, it shows how guilt can eat away at the core of one’s soul.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like stories of dying or those that promote Christ is the answer to life’s complications may not like this book. Others may feel the story with Catholic undertones jumps around from past to present, including a strange Beast, two mystery children, and a dysfunctional family.

~ Wish ~
Although I liked the author’s writing style, I found the storyline somewhat confusing. It did not seem to answer all the questions, especially regarding Ava, a childhood friend who becomes a detective. It would be helpful if all pronouns of God were capitalized for reverence.

~ Want ~
If you like tender but disturbing tales of dealing with the passing of a loved one while confronting the good and bad in a relationship, this read shows the process of overcoming the pain of the past. However, I found it a bit confusing when reminiscing the protagonist’s true or make-believe childhood’s events.

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

#ShawnSmucker

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/2JT9t9o

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

Yours Truly, Thomas

Title: Yours Truly, Thomas
Author: Rachel Fordham
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3538-8

“No one should have to live with regrets. I understand about life going differently than we want it to. In a small way it’s as though I can feel his pain,” Penny admits in Rachel Fordham’s novel, Yours Truly, Thomas.

~ What ~
The second novel by the author that is based in fictitious Azure Springs, Iowa, this three-hundred-and-seventeen-page paperback targets those interested in a historical romance set in the midwest in the late 1800s. With no profanity, topics of arson, abuse, and injury may not be appropriate for immature readers. The ending includes twelve discussion questions, acknowledgments, and the author’s biography with advertisements.

In this tale that begins in Washington D.C. and travels to Iowa, twenty-two-year-old Penny Ercanbeck works as a clerk at the dead letter office, opening undeliverable mail. When she reads a letter from a man named Thomas to a woman named Clara, she is determined it gets delivered to its intended recipient.

However, life has a way of going on different roads than expected when Penny makes the decision to go to the midwest in search of Thomas. What she finds is not only a broken man who is desperate to forget the past but the yearning to step out on her own, making life-choice decisions.

~ Why ~
I enjoy novels where I learn about America’s history, especially how the U.S. Post Office used to handle undeliverable mail. I appreciated the details of small-town living where everyone knows everyone’s business yet are the first to help someone in need. The author’s dealing with forgiveness, redemption, and hope is well written and tender while a thread of mystery weaves through the protagonists’ relationship.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like stories of an impulsive, dreamy woman crossing boundaries to find an answer to love may not enjoy this read. Some may wish some of the characters were not stereotypical and the romance predictable. While others may not care for the religious undertones, I found there was little reference to relying on the Lord for answers.

~ Wish ~
I prefer all pronouns of God capitalized for reverence. I hope the writer has a sequel to this read as she has written a book previously about some of its characters.

~ Want ~
If you like a historical novel of the blooming romance between two individuals who are drawn together through sorrow and pain, this is a lovely story that brings resolve, determination, and peace to several of its characters.

Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

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

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

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

The Day Punctuation Came to Town

Title: The Day Punctuation Came to Town
Author: Kimberlee Gard
Illustrator: Sandie Sonke
Publisher: Familius
ISBN: 978-1-64170-145-7

“We’re the Punctuation family, and we all work together to help letters and the words they make,” the Period explains in Kimberlee Gard’s children’s book, The Day Punctuation Came to Town.

~ What ~
The second book in the Language is Fun series, this thirty-two-page hardbound targets children five to eight years old who want to learn about using punctuation with writing sentences. With no scary scenes but colorful illustrations, it is about a family of four punctuation symbols who come to town and go to school with alphabet letters that make words. Its jacket cover includes a synopsis of the book, nine habits of happy family life, and biographies of the author and illustrator.

In this charming story, the Punctuation family moves to town and goes to school with a bunch of letters. As each introduces itself to the class, it explains what it does. While the exclamation point explains it adds excitement, the question mark asks questions; the period ends sentences, and the comma keeps the words organized. As the day progresses, the comma feels left out so sneaks out of the room, and the other punctuation marks find it, showing how important it is to letters when making words and sentences.

~ Why ~
I am fanatical about punctuation and sad to see so many people today do not know the correct rules, so it is important to teach young ones the proper way to use the exclamation point, question mark, period, and comma. I appreciate that this story is fun and interesting while educating first and second graders how and when to use them.

~ Why Not ~
The book contains many multi-syllable words that may frustrate beginner readers, but it also is a way to learn new words. The comma is not thoroughly explained, but its simplification makes sense based on the age group targeted for the book.

~ Wish ~
I found the rudimentary illustrations with limited backgrounds may not engage some readers. I hope more books are added to the series that is focused on language.

~ Want ~
If your child is starting to understand the need and purpose of using punctuation, this is an excellent way to teach them about the four symbols in a cute, clever way.

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

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

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