Category Archives: 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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Filed under ***** Great - A Keeper, If You Borrow It, Give It Back!, Business / Money / Education, Childrens, Fiction

The Reluctant Belle

A Reluctant Belle (Daughtry House Book #2) by [White, Beth]Title: Reluctant Belle
Author: Beth White
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-2690-4

“What do you want from me? We can’t be confidants any ore. We can’t even be—argument mates anymore,” Joelle is told in Beth White’s novel, Reluctant Belle.

~ What ~
The second in the Daughtry House series, this three-hundred-and-sixty-eight-page paperback targets those interested in a historical romance set in the South during the middle of the Reconstruction Era. With no profanity, topics of abuse, torture, and murder may not be appropriate for immature readers. The ending includes a note to the reader, an excerpt of another novel, acknowledgments, and the author’s biography with advertisements.

In this tale set in 1870 in Mississippi, twenty-two-year-old Joelle Daughtry has her hands full being betrothed to the local pastor while she helps run a resort hotel and writes under a male pseudonym newspaper articles that promote helping former slaves. However, knowing she rushed into accepting her marriage proposal due to the ongoing frustration with Schuyler Beaumont, a hotel investor she has known since childhood, their love/hate relationship has to be put on the back burner to uncover who murdered his father.

~ Why ~
I enjoy novels where I learn about America’s history, especially when slavery was abolished. I appreciated the details of the Southern culture. The story focuses on how freedom started spread among slaves and lines were drawn between the Lincolnites, Union League, and Ku Klux Klan. The bantering between the two protagonists was charming and engaging at times.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like stories of the persecution of freed slaves may pass on this book. Others may wish some of the characters were not stereotypical and the romance predictable. I found Joelle to be a bit too flawless as a teacher, journalist, and hotel manager who seemed wishy-washy when it came to love.

~ Wish ~
Since this is a part of a series and I did not read the first book, I wish there were a list of characters since there is a plethora of people mentioned. I prefer all pronouns of God capitalized for reverence.

~ Want ~
If you like a historical novel of the South’s conflict over race and politics, this is a quick and cozy read of romance that includes solving a murder.

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

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/2KfLy6D

 

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

Wooing Cadie McCaffrey

Title: Wooing Cadie McCaffrey
Author: Bethany Turner
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3522-7

“Well then, Cadie McCaffrey,  I think that’s just about the most romantic thing I have ever heard in my entire life,” the confused protagonist is told in Bethany Turner’s novel, Wooing Cadie McCaffrey.

~ What ~
This three-hundred-and-thirty-seven-page paperback targets those interested in contemporary Christian romance. With no profanity but the use of slang words such as heck and crap, topics of premarital sex may not be appropriate for immature readers. The ending includes an excerpt of the author’s prior book, acknowledgments and the writer’s biography with advertisements.

In this quirky romantic tale, millennials Cadie and Will have been dating for four years without the promise of marriage to Cadie’s chagrin. Thinking that he is her one and only, she starts to question their relationship as she considers he no longer is in love with her as he climbs the corporate ladder where they both work. One who expects a happily-ever-after based on romantic movies, she misunderstands his intentions after they break the rules and she rejects him. With the help of his work cohorts, it is up to Will to win and woo her back, even if he is forced to look like a love-craved fool.

~ Why ~
I enjoy stories that are written in first person, and this one is partially from Cadie’s perspective. I like the author’s breezy writing style and references to movies, books, and songs of her generation (and some of mine). The book deals with love, sex, marriage, and relationships in a carefree platform that sometimes mention Christ and His forgiveness.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like stories of how unmarried Christians deal with disagreements, romance, and premarital sex may not like this read. Others may feel it does not focus enough on relying on God or going to Him for answers and help as there are no references to Scripture, just quick prayers to resolve ones’ problems. I found Cadie to be somewhat of a spoiled brat who was self-absorbed, never realizing many of the misunderstandings were her fault.

~ Wish ~
Although I enjoyed the author’s easy-breezy writing style, I found the main’s characterization often grating, where she is considered too perfect and wonderful by others. I prefer that all pronouns of God capitalized for reverence.

~ Want ~
If you like a romance between two young people in love who must mature by stepping back and reevaluating their relationship through mistakes and promises, this may be an innocuous read that is predictable.

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

#WooingCadieMcCaffrey #WooCaM

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/2Q6gB4O

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

Living Lies

Title: Living Lies
Author: Natalie Walters
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3532-7

“But believing she deserved someone like Charlie–that he could love someone like her–was just another lie she wasn’t willing to live,” Lane tells herself in Natalie Walters’s novel, Living Lies.

~ What ~
The first in the Harbored Secretes series, this three-hundred-and-thirty-four-page paperback targets those interested in the struggles of dealing with depression while trying to move ahead with life. Using slang words such as heck and crap, topics of bullying, PTSD, murder, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The ending includes acknowledgments, the author’s biography, and an advertisement.

In this story, Lane Kent has been fighting her demons of depression for years, trying to keep them at bay by pretending she is fine. When she moves back to her hometown with her young son, she hides her biggest secret until she meets Charlie, the new deputy who lives next door. After Lane accidentally discovers the body of a young teenager, she must find her purpose of life while Charlie races to find the killer.

~ Why ~
As a debut novel, the author writes with detail and excitement as she keeps the reader wanting to turn the pages to find out if Lane will be able to accept the past and move on in her relationships, especially with Charlie. The murder of a young girl, confusion of a Vietnam veteran, and regret of the protagonist show how people learn to deal with tragedy while accepting God’s love and purpose.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like romantic suspense with a touch of Christianity and praying to God may not appreciate this read. Others may not like a book that shows how depression and anxiety can overtake and debilitate a life or lives.

~ Wish ~
Adding discussion questions at the end would be thoughtful for book clubs to discuss its important topics. I wish more references of trusting in God were included and all pronouns of God were capitalized for reverence.

~ Want ~
If you like a book that shows the problems and issues of depression and how it should not be ignored or made fun of, this is a good read that adds the redemption of romance and suspense.

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

#LivingLies #HarboredSecrets

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/2Yx2Hvu

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

Rise of the Mystics

Title: Rise of the Mystics
Author: Ted Dekker
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3599-9

“I was the 49th Mystic, and I was searching for the Five Seals of Truth before the Realm of Mystics could be destroyed,” Rachelle remembers in Ted Dekker’s novel, Rise of the Mystics.

~ What ~
Part two of two in the Beyond the Circle series, this four-hundred-and-eighteen-page paperback targets those who enjoy futuristic mystical fiction with other-worldly characters and analogies to Christianity. Using slang words such as crap and heck, topics of dream-control, imprisonment, torture, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The ending has the author’s biography and advertisements plus Talya’s Journal on the Forgotten Way. Using mainly the New American Standard Bible, the ABPE, BLB, ESV, HCSB, ISV, KJV, NHEB, and NIV are also referenced.

In this sequel to the first book that is set in the future on two worlds that are two-hundred years apart, Rachelle continues to travel between the Earth and Other Earth whenever she dreams to overcome Vlad Smith and his evil plans. As she deals with two worlds of polarity, she surrenders herself to loving without judgment as her memory gets wiped in one world and she turns into one she abhors in another in her quest to uncover the fourth and fifth seal to save the Realm. It is only until she learns True Love that she can save those around her and herself.

~ Why ~
This is a sci-fi fantasy complete with good and evil, love versus hatred, and acceptance with understanding. The author writes with vivid detail, often in first person from the protagonist’s view of having forgotten who she is and what she needs to do. It promotes that true love holds no record of wrong and how hatred is devastating. I appreciated it contains a recap of the first book at its beginning.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like futuristic fiction that involves mysticism, allegory, and fantasy will pass on this read. Some may feel the book gets complicated with two ongoing worlds that do not track as well as the first book. Others may find its connection to Scripture not completely Biblical, sometimes confusing and conflicting.

~ Wish ~
Having read the prior book, I found this one even more of a challenge as it includes out-of-context Biblical theory and sometimes randomly. Some may question if it endorses an accurate plan of eternal salvation as there was no asking forgiveness of sin, Jesus shedding His blood on the cross, or His resurrection but more of a “follow your heart – all is love” concept. Although I liked some of both worlds’ characters, I found the conclusion baffling regarding universal redemption and the journal’s interpretations and applications sometimes misrepresenting. Due to stretching the Bible to accommodate the story and vice versa, I agreed with Vlad telling Aaron and David on page 68, “You must know by now that if you torture any scripture long enough, you can get it to say whatever you want.” I prefer all pronouns of God capitalized for reference.

~ Want ~
If you like a futuristic book about True Love in two dark worlds, this may interest you, but I found it too confusing, rambling, and perhaps distorted from Biblical theology so cannot promote it as Christian fantasy.

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

#RiseoftheMystics #BeyondtheCircle

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/2Yr3NsD

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

The Heart of a King

Title: The Heart of a King
Author: Jill Eileen Smith
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-2240-1

“Sometimes foolishness is overconfidence in one’s own wisdom. And pride had changed everything,” the Teacher writes in the Prelude of Jill Eileen Smith’s Biblical fiction novel, The Heart of a King: The Loves of Solomon.

~ What ~
This four-hundred-and-twenty-five-page paperback targets those who enjoy an enhanced version of the Biblical story of King Solomon and four of his many wives. Containing no profanity or explicit sexual scenes, topics of murder and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. An author’s note, acknowledgments, biography, and advertisements complete the book.

In this loosely retold story taken from the Old Testament, Solomon marries his first wife and childhood friend before he becomes the king of Israel. An Ammonite who believes in Solomon’s God, Naamah is in love with Solomon and wants to be his only wife.

When Solomon’s father dies and Solomon becomes king, he marries Abishag, King David’s young wife, a Hebrew shepherdess who takes care of him before he dies. The marriage is not only to establish Solomon’s kingdom but also one based on love for one another.

Factitious Siti, the daughter of an Egyptian pharaoh, becomes another wife of Solomon as a political pawn to control Gezer. Although Solomon struggles with his new wife’s pagan foreign gods, he slowly allows her to keep her idols outside the city of Jerusalem.

Years later, Solomon is fascinated by Nicaula, the Queen of Sheba, who desires a husband and child yet cannot give up her status and position in her homeland. The two devise a way to love while not putting their countries in jeopardy.

All four of the marriages test Solomon as he looks toward God for answers. When he focuses on what wisdom can do for him and those he loves, he forgets the One who gave him the wisdom, later realizing the meaning of life is to fear God and keep His Word.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like fictionalized Bible stories may pass on this one as the author has used ample liberties to enhance the story. With the Queen of Sheba marrying Solomon and multiple added characters, the story is fabricated. Some may find the romantic love the king had for these four women repetitive in conveying although he supposedly loved them for different reasons.

~ Wish ~
I liked the detailed descriptions of life in Israel in the Old Testament, I found Solomon’s hunger for love and lust not what I expected compared to the Scriptures and wish the novel was more accurate (which may be hard since the Bible contains little information about his wives). With a plethora of characters, it would be helpful having a list at the beginning of the book.

~ Want ~
If you enjoy learning about King Solomon’s love of women in a fictionalized setting based loosely on Scripture, this historical story shows how the man became caught up in his wisdom while disobeying God’s law about marrying foreign wives and allowing them to worship their gods in Israel.

Thanks to Revell for this complimentary book that I am not obligated to review.

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

#TheHeartofaKing

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