Sunday, February 26, 2017

A Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison

A beloved American corporation with an explosive secret. A disgraced former journalist looking for redemption. A corporate executive with nothing left to lose.

In Dhaka, Bangladesh, a garment factory burns to the ground, claiming the lives of hundreds of workers, mostly young women. Amid the rubble, a bystander captures a heart-stopping photograph—a teenage girl lying in the dirt, her body broken by a multi-story fall, and over her mouth a mask of fabric bearing the label of one of America’s largest retailers, Presto Omnishops Corporation.

Eight thousand miles away, at Presto’s headquarters in Virginia, Cameron Alexander, the company’s long-time general counsel, watches the media coverage of the fire in horror, wondering if the damage can be contained. When the photo goes viral, fanning the flames of a decades old controversy about sweatshops, labor rights, and the ethics of globalization, he launches an investigation into the disaster that will reach farther than he could ever imagine - and threaten everything he has left in the world.

A year later, in Washington, D.C., Joshua Griswold, a disgraced former journalist from the Washington Post, receives an anonymous summons from a corporate whistleblower who offers him confidential information about Presto and the fire. For Griswold, the challenge of exposing Presto’s culpability is irresistible, as is the chance, however slight, at redemption. Deploying his old journalistic skills, he builds a historic case against Presto, setting the stage for a war in the courtroom and in the media that Griswold is determined to win—both to salvage his reputation and to provoke a revolution of conscience in Presto’s boardroom that could transform the fashion industry across the globe. 

My review:

  I had been wanting to read one of Corbin Addison's books for a while. I am hesitant to buy a book by an author I have never read, but then this came up for review from Thomas Nelson/Zondervan, and that gave me the chance to read  and review it.

  My first thought after finishing the book was "I'm never buying clothes again." This is more than a fiction novel. It is an expose' on the fashion industry and what goes on behind the scenes. The story in the book is based on something that did happen, and the author took that news story and built his fictional novel around it.

 The book is very educational. Though the people in the book are fictional, what goes on in these factories and sweat shops is not fictional. Even as I was entertained by the drama of the book, I was sickened to realize what goes on in these factories around the world so we Americans can have nice clothing to buy. As I walked through the men's department at Walmart this past week, I found myself wondering how many of the clothing there were made under conditions described in the book. I wondered how many people would even care if we did know.

  Though that part of the book is disturbing, this is a very entertaining read. It takes the reader all over the world, and introduces all sorts of characters living in all sorts of conditions. From the wealthy Americans running a business that turns a blind eye to what is going on in their factories across the sea, to the people living in deplorable conditions and making deplorable money to make expensive clothing for Americans. I found myself liking a lot of the characters, and rooting for justice to happen for those who had been wronged and were suffering because of poor work conditions.

 The book had a surprising ending. I would have liked to have had it end a different way, but it still had a good ending. Addison's writing style is nothing short of brilliant, and I read the book much quicker than I figured I would. It is a book that entertains while opening your eyes and making you think.

  And though I gave it my "read-in-one-sitting" label, I did read it over the period of a few days, mostly on lunch and other breaks at work. I is the kind of book that is hard to put down, so I gave it that label.

What I didn't like:
  This is by no stretch of the imagination a Christian fiction title, even though a Christian publisher published it. It is a story of good vs evil, and Christian principles are found in the book and some of the characters' actions, but it not Christian. That doesn't bother me. What does, is the language. There are several occurrences of curse words throughout the book. Nelson was doing pretty badly in that area for a while, but I thought they had backed away from that..... but this book shows they did not. I won't spell the words out, but they did thankfully stop short of using the "F-word", but pretty much everything else was allowed. I remain steadfast in my belief that a Christian publisher should have no curse words in a book, so I was very bothered by the language. That is one reason I primarily read Christian fiction. Maybe they were so happy to snag an author as this, that they decided to go back in the gutter and allow curse words again. I hope they don't continue the practice.

 Other than  that, this was one of the best books I have read this year. Other than the cursing, I highly recommend it, though you may never look at buying clothing the same again.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the author:


Corban Addison holds degrees in law and engineering from the University of Virginia and California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. He began to experiment with writing at the age of fifteen, about the same time he developed an interest in international travel. His early works were mostly essays, reflections and travelogues, but his true love was fiction. For eight years he searched for a story with wings. In the end, the story found him.

In the summer of 2008, Addison’s wife gave him an idea that he found irresistible—a novel on the global trade in human beings. Despite the increasing demands of career and family, he embarked upon an odyssey that took him to India and Europe and into the corridors of power in Washington, D.C. In immersing himself in the world of modern-day slavery, he spent time with experts and activists in the field and went undercover into the brothels of Mumbai to meet trafficking victims firsthand.

Out of this journey, A Walk Across the Sun was born. It is a novel that brings together three of Addison’s great passions—storytelling, human rights, and the world and its cultures—in a narrative that enlightens while it entertains. Addison is a supporter of international justice causes, including the abolition of modern slavery, and he is committed to broadening this support through the publication of A Walk Across the Sun.

Check out his website at CorbanAddison.com


A Harvest of Thorns is available from Thomas Nelson Publishing.

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for the review copy.




  

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Still Life, Chesapeake Valor #2 by Dani Pettrey

Book description: 

Someone Is Out There. Watching Her. Waiting. 

Blacklisted in the photography business over a controversial shot, Avery Tate answered an ad for a crime-scene photographer. She expected to be laughed at, but crime-scene analyst Parker Mitchell hired her outright--and changed her life. But six months ago, when her feelings for Parker became too strong, she left his employ to sort out her heart.

Now, for the first time, Avery is facing the world that rejected her to attend the gallery opening of a photography exhibit for which her friend modeled. But the only image of her friend is a chilling photo of her posing as if dead--and the photographer insists he didn't take the shot. Worse, her friend can't be found, and so Avery immediately calls Parker for help.

As Avery, Parker, and their friends in law enforcement dig into the mystery, they find themselves face-to-face with a relentless and deadly threat.

My review:

   Dani Pettrey is still a fairly new author, this being only her second series. However, she quickly became one of my favorite authors when I wasn't very far into her Alaskan Courage series, which I highly recommend.

 This series is a lot different from her first series, but just as suspenseful, gripping, and as great of a read.

  It has been a year since I read the first book in the series, so it took me a awhile to get familiarized again with the main characters, who most of which were in the first book. The Alaskan Courage Series revolved around members of the same family, with each of the 5 books centering on a different family member. Chesapeake Valor revolves around a group of friends, all in some sort of law enforcement/crime solving. There is also the mystery of a missing friend that has gone on through both books so far, and I am guessing will continue throughout the whole series.

 Still Life centers on Parker Micthell, a crime scene analyst, and Avery Tate, a crime scene photographer. The plot was a bit morbid, centering on the photographing of a dead girl, but it did make for an interesting plot.

  My only complaint with the book was there were so many suspects that I found it a bit confusing, but maybe that was just me. I loved the characters, the plot, and suspense. Towards the end of the book, I found myself suspecting the person who did indeed turn out to be the guilty party, and enjoyed figuring it out before it was revealed.

 This was a book that was difficult to put down. Pettey did not disappoint, but delivered the kind of suspense and quality Christian fiction she has already become known for. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


And for those into the show, you may find it of interest that Kenneth McNickle from the latest season of Survivor, is the cover model for this book.

About the author:



Dani Pettrey is a wife, home-schooling mom, and the acclaimed author of the Alaskan Courage romantic suspense series, which includes her bestselling novels Submerged, Shattered, Stranded, Silenced, and Sabotaged. Her books have been honored with the Daphne du Maurier award, two HOLT Medallions, two National Readers' Choice Awards, the Gail Wilson Award of Excellence, and Christian Retailing's Best Award, among others.

She feels blessed to write inspirational romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things she loves--the thrill of adventure, nail-biting suspense, the deepening of her characters' faith, and plenty of romance. She and her husband reside in Maryland, where they enjoy time with their two daughters, a son-in-law, and a super adorable grandson. You can find her online at danipettrey.com.


Still Live is available from Bethany House Publishing, part of the Baker Publishing Group.

Thanks to Bethany House for the review copy.

Justice Delayed, Memphis Cold Case #1 by Patricia Bradley

Book description:

It's been eighteen years since TV crime reporter Andi Hollister's sister was murdered. The confessed killer is behind bars, and the execution date is looming. But when a letter surfaces stating that the condemned killer didn't actually do it, Detective Will Kincaide of the Memphis Cold Case Unit will stop at nothing to help Andi get to the bottom of it. After all, this case is personal: the person who confessed to the crime is Will's cousin. They have less than a week to find the real killer before the wrong person is executed. But much can be accomplished in that week--including uncovering police corruption, running for your life, and falling in love.

With the perfect mixture of intrigue and nail-biting suspense, award-winning author Patricia Bradley invites her readers to crack the case--if they can--alongside the best Memphis has to offer.



My review:

  I have only read one series by Patrica Bradley, Logan Point. It is Christian suspense, my favorite genre', and I really enjoyed all 4 books in the series.

 Justice Delayed starts a new series, The Memphis Cold Case Series. I get a lot of book review offers, and some I think about before I request it. This book was one I immediately clicked on the link to request it. There were no doubts I wanted to read this book. With some authors, you just know.

 I managed to read the book quickly, in spite of mainly reading it on my lunch breaks at work. I seriously think this is the author's best book yet. I love the idea of cold cases being solved, and this one hit close to home to the main characters in the book.

 Speaking of characters, I loved the characters in Justice Delayed. Characters can make or ruin a book, and Bradley came up with some great characters for her book and series, and excelled with the interaction between those characters.

 The suspense aspect was very well done, and had me not wanting to put the book down.

 There was a great plot that had a lot of surprises, and was not too predictable.

 And then the romance....too often in Christian books, it goes like this: boy meets girl in trouble, they fall for each other, and the book ends with a marriage proposal, declaration of love, or both, and marriage. In this book, the two main characters were childhood friends...... and I won't give spoilers, but it does not end with any of the three ways I mentioned, though it does end on a promising note in the romance department.

 This was really one of the best suspense novels I have read for a while, and I have read several that were very good. This one though is one that stands out, and is one definitely worth reading.

About the author:


Patricia Bradley is the author of Shadows of the Past, A Promise to Protect, Gone without a Trace, and Silence in the Dark. Bradley has been a finalist for the Genesis Award, winner of a Daphne du Maurier Award, and winner of a Touched by Love Award. Bradley is cofounder of Aiming for Healthy Families, Inc., and she is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. Bradley makes her home in Mississippi. Learn more at www.ptbradley.com.


Justice Delayed is available from Revell, part of the Baker Publishing Group

Thanks to Revell for the review copy.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Life After by Katie Ganshert

Book description:

On the day of a late spring storm, in Chicago, Autumn Manning boarded an “L” train. A bomb explodes, killing everyone in the train car except for Autumn—the sole survivor. A year has passed and Autumn suffocates under a blanket of what ifs and the pressing desire to bring the victims back to life, every day, if only for her. She doesn’t want their stories to be forgotten. She wants to undo what cannot be undone. An unexpected ally joins her efforts, also seeking answers and trying to find a way to stumble ahead. 

But one victim’s husband, Paul Elliott, prays to let the dead—and their secrets—rest in peace, undisturbed and unable to hurt his loved ones. 

Caught between loss and hope, these restless souls must release the past to embrace a sovereign God.

My review:

   I didn't dislike this book, but I have to be honest and say I wasn't crazy about it. I do try to be as honest with my book reviews while also being as nice as I can about criticisms.

 What I liked:

The plot: The plot was very good. The book revolves around a woman who was the lone survivor of a train bombing, her guilt and how her life intersects with a family who lost their wife and mother in the bombing. It was an interesting look into how a lone survivor might react and feel.

The characters: Autumn comes off sounding like she needs a padded cell most of the time, but she was still an interesting character who I never got to like very well. I did like Paul and his kids, and they made the story more interesting.

The Christian aspect: God was definitely offered as the solution and hope for the issues people faced in the book.

What I didn't like:

  A lot of the actions of the main character (Autumn) came off weird and bizarre to me, along with her interactions and conversations with the Elliot family.

  To be fair, the author writes well...... I just had difficulty getting into the story.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


About the author:


Katie (K.E.) Ganshert was born and raised in the exciting state of Iowa, where she currently resides with her family. She likes to write things and consume large quantities of coffee and chocolate while she writes all the things. She’s won some awards. For the writing, not the consuming. Although the latter would be fun. You can learn more about K.E. Ganshert and these things she writes at her website www.katieganshert.com.


Life After is available from Waterbrook/Multnomah Publishing.

Thanks to Waterbrook/Mutnomah for the review copy.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Stars In the Grass by Ann Marie Stewart

Book description: 

“The summer before I turned ten was idyllic—until August 3, 1970.  It perfectly describes a time when I thought the world was safe and good things lasted forever..." 

Nine-year-old Abby McAndrews has just experienced her greatest loss, and in its wake, her family is unraveling with guilt, grief, and anger. Her father, Reverend McAndrews, cannot return to the pulpit because he has more questions than answers. Her older brother Matt’s actions speak louder than the words he needs to confess, as he acts out in dangerous ways. Her mother tries to hold her grieving family together, but when Abby’s dad refuses to move on, the family is at a crossroads.

Stars in the Grass, set in a small Midwestern town in 1970, is an uplifting novel that explores a family’s relationships and resiliency. Abby’s heartbreaking remembrances are balanced by humor and nostalgia as her family struggles with—and ultimately celebrates—life after loss.

My review:

   My first thought upon finishing this book, was "man, that was a sad book." But don't let that stop you from reading the book...... it is worth reading.

 It isn't giving any spoilers away to say this: There is a death of a small child at the start of the book, and the rest of the book is about the remaining family dealing with that death. Though the book is fictional, I feel the author did a great job of presenting how different family members might deal with such a tragedy.

 I did find the book sad, but it was an interesting and entertaining read. I wish the author had wrapped up the end of the book a little better. I was left wondering about some things she didn't cover, and it also ended abruptly in my thinking.

 The author was new to me, but I liked the book well enough that I would read another by her.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

About the author:


ANN MARIE STEWART is the author of Preparing My Heart for Advent: A Spiritual Pilgrimage for the Christmas Season, and writes a bi-monthly column titled Ann's Loving "Ewe" for The Country Register. She is currently completing her first novel.

Her expertise as a vocal soloist and choral conductor help her incorporate music into each week's lesson, while her background in acting and scriptwriting add drama to her presentation of the gospel. Ann's ultimate purpose for this book is to encourage woman to meet, accept, and follow Jesus, as did so many New Testament Women.

Ann Marie graduated with honors from the University of Washington and also earned the top educational honor awarded by the school for female education majors. Ann later did graduate studies in film and television at the University of Michigan and taught English and music for several years at various grade levels ranging from preschool to college-level. With a background in acting and writing dramas, she excels at writing in an expressive, engaging style. Ann and her husband and two daughters run a small farm in Paeonian Springs, Virginia

Check out her website:AnnMarieStewart.com

Stars In the Grass is available from Shiloh Run Press, an imprint of Barbour Publishing.

Thanks to Barbour for the review copy.



Monday, February 13, 2017

The Dog Who Was There by Ron Marasco

Book description:

No one expected Barley to have an encounter with the Messiah. He was homeless, hungry, and struggling to survive in first century Jerusalem. Most surprisingly, he was a dog. But through Barley’s eyes, the story of a teacher from Galilee comes alive in a way we’ve never experienced before.


Barley’s story begins in the home of a compassionate woodcarver and his wife who find Barley as an abandoned, nearly-drowned pup. Tales of a special teacher from Galilee are reaching their tiny village, but when life suddenly changes again for Barley, he carries the lessons of forgiveness and love out of the woodcarver’s home and through the dangerous roads of Roman occupied Judea.


On the outskirts of Jerusalem, Barley meets a homeless man and petty criminal named Samid. Together, Barley and his unlikely new master experience fresh struggles and new revelations. Soon Barley is swept up into the current of history, culminating in an unforgettable encounter with the truest master of all as he bears witness to the greatest story ever told. 

My review:

  Prior to reading this, I read a similar book. It also was about a dog who met Jesus.....and I struggled to get through the book. It was OK.... and just OK. I picked this one up without very high hopes of enjoying it much, and found it to be a great read. I had no problem getting into it, and hated to put it down when constraints of time and work came up.

  The book is told completely through the eyes of a small dog, and it is a very entertaining tale. We have no idea how an animal thinks, but I thought the author did a great job of giving a dog's eye view of life in Jesus' time, and what it is like to be a dog.

 I like happy books, and there were some sad moments in the book. I don't want to give spoilers, but I'll just say the poor dog shouldn't have gotten too attached to any of his owners.

 Most moving were the moments of Jesus' walking to Golgotha and the crucifixion scene. I honestly feel it gave me a fresh and different look at the events of Good Friday.

 I'l be honest... I am not a dog lover, but I found myself really liking the dog in the story, cheering for him, feeling bad for him, and happy at the ending I was hoping for and that did happen. This is a very unique Biblical fiction novel, but is one worth reading and one that anyone will enjoy.

I was given a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

About the author:


Ron Marasco is a professor in the College of Communication and Fine Arts at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. His first book, Notes to an Actor, was named by the American Library Association an "Outstanding Book of 2008." For the past five years he has taught a very popular course on the subject of grief using film, theatre, literature and oral history as a way to study this often intimidating subject. He has acted extensively on TV―in everything from Lost to West Wing to Entourage -and appeared opposite screen legend Kirk Douglas in the movie Illusion, for which he also wrote the screenplay. He has a BA from Fordham at Lincoln Center and an MA and Ph. D. from UCLA. Brian Shuff is a writer from Mesa, Arizona, who now lives in Los Angeles where he is at work completing a book of short stories. His mother died when he was eight years old, giving him a life-long interest in the subject of grief. Along with Ron Marasco he has written a screenplay based on Louise Hay's groundbreaking book, You Can Heal Your Life that will premiere in 2011. He and Marasco are also working on a dramatic adaptation of John McNulty's book This Place on Third Avenue.


The Dog Who Was There is available from Thomas Nelson Publishing.

Thanks to Litfuse Publicity for the review copy.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Bible Studies on Mark by William Boekestein

Book description:

New Mark Bible Study Guide! Read and study about the person and work of Jesus Christ, who is the Gospel incarnate. You will grow in your knowledge, love, and desire to serve Jesus through these pages. "The Gospel of Mark is all about that—the Gospel. In this short guide through this shortest of Gospels, Bill Boekestein opens up for us the person and work of Jesus Christ, who is the Gospel incarnate. You will grow in your knowledge, love, and desire to serve Jesus through these pages.



My review:

  Ironically, the book that I have the same name as, is one I don't often read. I tend to read the other Gospels more than Mark. A Bible study on this book intrigued me, so I signed up.

  The book does cover the entire book of Mark, and is split up into 21 lessons. Each lesson has commentary on different sections of the chapter, and is followed by around 8-9 questions. To be honest, I haven't done many of these kind of studies.... my church just doesn't do that. That said, this seems to me to be a very well done Bible study....... and I am not just saying that because I am reviewing it. Seriously, it is. The author pulled a lot out of the book of Mark, and not only gives a lot of great insight, but asks some great questions to help the reader get more out of the book.

 It is also the type of Bible study that could be done as a group, or as an individual. As I went through it, I didn't run across any questions that I felt needed to be answered in a group, and it might actually be geared more for individuals.

 This is a Bible study definitely worth doing. It is the kind that will get help you get more out of this Gospel that is often overlooked by some people... like me.

About the author:

William Boekestein (M.Div., Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary) is Pastor of Covenant Reformed Church in Carbondale, Pennsylvania. He previously taught in a Christian School for several years. He and his wife have three children.


Bible Studies On the Book of Mark is available from Reformed Fellowship, Inc

Thanks to Cross-Focused Media for the review copy.