Monday, June 10, 2019

Living Lies, Harbored Secrets #1 by Natalie Walters

Book description:


In the little town of Walton, Georgia, everybody knows your name--but no one knows your secret. At least that's what Lane Kent is counting on when she returns to her hometown with her five-year-old son. Dangerously depressed after the death of her husband, Lane is looking for hope. What she finds instead is a dead body.

Lane must work with Walton's newest deputy, Charlie Lynch, to uncover the truth behind the murder. But when that truth hits too close to home, she'll have to decide if saving the life of another is worth the cost of revealing her darkest secret.

Debut novelist Natalie Walters pulls you to the edge of your seat on the first page and keeps you there until the last in this riveting story that will have you believing no one is defined by their past.


My review:

  Natalie Waters is a new author to me, and I believe a completely new author, if I am correct. I like trying out new authors, and this is one to keep your eye on if you like Christian suspense. Living Lies is an excellent read, and Walters is off to a great start with this entrance into the Christian fiction world.

  What I liked:
1) Setting: I'm not picky about settings, but I do like small town settings where everyone knows everyone. I found the setting for Living Lies attractive and ideal.

2) Characters: They can make or break a story. The author created some great and very likable ones for this book and series. At the center is Charlie and Lane. Charlie is former military, and the new deputy on the force. We fiction lovers get attached to characters, and I found myself really liking him..very cool dude for a fictional character.

  I found myself identifying some with Lane. I like it when an author tackles tough issues, and depression is the one in this book. Depression is still something many people don't understand, especially Christians. Many think it is a spiritual issue and a trip to the altar will fix it. As someone personally dealing with severe depression, I can attest otherwise. I feel Walters did a great job of portraying the realities of it, and the shame that accompanies it.

 Books with kids/families in are always ones I enjoy, so of course I liked Noah.

 And last, but not least: Deputy Frost, who will star in the next book. A bit geeky, but an expert on computers and eager to prove himself.

3) Suspense. The plot and suspense were great in this book. I had my suspicions fairly early as to the who, but it was fun getting to the reveal point and the "why".

4) Romance. I'm a guy, single for life, but I do enjoy the romantic aspects of this book. I liked how it was done, and kind of wished it had gone faster, but also felt it was more realistic the way it did go.

 What I didn't like: Well, nothing.....to be honest. I found this a great Christian read, and am looking forward to more from this author.

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

About the author:


Natalie Walters is the author of Living Lies and Deadly Deceit. A military wife of 22 years, she currently resides in Hawaii with her soldier husband and their three kids. She writes full-time and has been published in Proverbs 31 magazine and has blogged for Guideposts online. In addition to balancing life as a military spouse, mom, and writer, she loves connecting on social media, sharing her love of books, cooking, and traveling. Natalie comes from a long line of military and law enforcement veterans and is passionate about supporting them through volunteer work, races, and writing stories that affirm no one is defined by their past. Learn more at www.nataliewalterswriter.com.

Living Lies is available from Revell, part of the Baker Publishing Group.

Thanks to Revell for the review copy.

Brimstone by Tony Ross

Book description:

Sunlight City is burning.

A religiously motivated arsonist, identified only as Brimstone, has used a brutal murder to make one emphatic statement: repent or perish. Nearly six million people in this city that champions choice and tolerance must now decide what they will do. But Brimstone will not wait long to strike again. He has declared himself the judgment of God on a sinful city, and he will continue to escalate until his demands are met.

Behind the scenes, the Granters who rule Sunlight City are faced with their own impossible decision. The key they have long searched for has unexpectedly been offered to them, and their greatest fear can now be conquered if they are willing to move swiftly and boldly… but the price may be higher than they are willing to pay.

David and Mona Johansen are brought back to Sunlight City at the request of the Granters. David finds himself working with a team of government agents as he tries to predict Brimstone's next moves and save countless lives. Mona's assignment may be of even greater importance. But time is critically short.

In fact, it may already be too late.

"Brimstone" follows "Victor" and "Orion" in a series of fast-paced thrillers that combine action, adrenaline and spiritual insight. "Brimstone" looks closely at questions of justice and takes the readers on a non-stop race against two mad agendas, building relentlessly to a shocking conclusion that will leave you breathless.
 


My review:

   This is the third book in this series, and I have read and reviewed the other two. As much as I enjoyed them, this third book is by far the best.

 Set about twenty years in the future, Brimstone shows the depths human beings can go to do away with God, and make sin undeterred. Though the author writes nothing graphic, the book does show that the world could be even more evil and godless than it already is.

 Brimtone also shows that those who believe in the Bible and good, can take drastically wrong actions in fighting evil, as the man named Brimstone does in the book.

  Brimstone is different from the average Christian fiction novel. It deals with cloning, nano tech, and other futuristic things that may or may not be developed. Interwoven throughout it is the Gospel and the fact that God is so much better than what the world is offering.

  Characters from the other books came back in this one, and things were not looking too good for one of them at the suspenseful and cliffhanger ending.

 Brimtone was a great suspenseful read that also remained Christian and Biblical. Looking forward to the next book.

About the author:



Tony Ross is an author who's not afraid of the dark.

In his first book, The Ugly Duckling's Revenge, he opens the door to his own past struggles with alcoholism and depression. He shares what God did to pull him out and offers a message of hope to readers: "If God can do it for me, He can do it for you!"

His next few are what Tony defines as "thrillers for thinkers," stories filled with action, adrenaline and deep spiritual meaning, stories that look into the deepest darkness of man to shine a brighter light. Victor won a silver medal for Christian Fiction in the Readers Favorite 2013 International Award Contest.

Melody's Memory is a departure from thrillers; it's a novella focusing less on suspense and action and more on the condition of the heart. Tony invites readers to open the long-locked doors of their own hearts, shine the light on what may be hidden there, and allow healing to come.

Tony is now revisiting the world he created in Victor and Orion in The Black Cat Chronicles, a series of short novellas set before Victor. 


When he's not writing, Tony enjoys country living, backyard campfires, recreational reading and outdoor sports. He has been a member of the ministry team at Calvary Apostolic Church in Clintonville, WI since 2004. Tony is happily married and has five children.
  

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Guy's Guide to Four Battles Every Young Man Must Face: a manual to overcoming life’s common distractions by Jonathan McKee

Book description:

Honestly?. . . 

"Why wait for something when I can enjoy it now?"

“These images don’t really affect me. . .do they?”

"How could smoking a little weed really be that bad when it's becoming legalized everywhere?”

“I’d like to tell you I don’t care what others think, but honestly, I want to be liked."


Maybe you're thinking, "I've had one. . .maybe even a few of these thoughts, and I don't know how to even begin to deal with them."

The good news? You're not alone. And there is a way to fight these battles head-on, overcoming the past, pressing forward, and becoming the person God designed you to be.

So what's a guy to do? . . .

Join youth culture expert and author of the popular Guy's Guide to God, Girls, and the Phone in Your Pocket, Jonathan McKee, as he gets real about the four common battles every young man will encounter in his life:

1: Sexual Temptation
2. Screens
3: Controlled Substances
4: Self-Esteem


With humor and honesty, McKee offers up practical, spiritual advice filled with real-world application helping you face today’s distractions.

My review:

  This book is written for and geared towards teenage boys, which I am obviously not. However, I do review books occasionally that don't apply to me. What the author covers in this book could still be beneficial to guys out of the age group it is for.

  The book is well put together, and the author presents his facts and case very well. I found it even more interesting when he used real life examples of young men and adult guys.

  When I requested the book, I was puzzled by the one battle - screens. That involves cell phones, computers, video games....pretty much anything that is electronic and has a screen.

  I found the book an interesting read. The author knows what he is talking about, and gives a lot of invaluable advice for young guys in the 4 areas mentioned.

 One section that stuck out to me was in the controlled substances section where he discussed marijuana. There are a lot of people, even Christians, who want it legalized. Those people deny it is a gateway drug, and that there is any danger. However, McKee shows the dangers of it, and that it is indeed a gateway drug.

 This is not the first book of this kind on the market, but I do believe it is one of the better ones. It is something a teenage boy should read, and hopefully learn from.

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

About the author:


Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new IF I HAD A PARENTING DO OVER; 52 WAYS TO CONNECT WITH YOUR SMARTPHONE OBSESSED KID; and the Amazon "Best Seller," THE GUY'S GUIDE TO GOD, GIRLS AND THE PHONE IN YOUR POCKET. With over 20 years youth ministry experience, Jonathan speaks to parents and leaders worldwide. You can follow Jonathan on his blog at JonathanMcKeeWrites.com, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife, Lori, and their three kids live in California.


The book is available from Shiloh Run Press, an imprint of Barbour Publishing.

Thanks to Barbour for the review copy.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

The Golden Bride, Daughters of the Mayflower #8 by Kimberly Woodhouse

Book review:


Can Olivia survive the crime and Gold Rush fever of 1849...and the countless marriage proposals?
A series for fans of all things related to history, romance, adventure, faith, and family trees.

The Daughters of the Mayflower series continues when Olivia Brighton finds herself widowed and working her brother’s restaurant in San Francisco during the height of the rush for gold. Even though she receives at least twenty marriage proposals a day, she will never marry a gold miner. Her brother’s friend Joseph Sawyer has gotten caught up in local politics and the plight of Chinese in forced labor. The more Joseph gets pulled into investigating crime in the city, the less Olivia sees of the compassionate man. And just when she thinks she could love again, a fire threatens to steal all hope.

My review:

  I ran across Kimberly Woodhouse some years ago when I reviewed two suspense novels she wrote for Broadman & Holman with her daughter, Kayla. Suspense is my favorite genre', so I was hooked. However, not all of her books are suspense, though many do have some element of suspense in them. I blame this author for my foray back into romance novels. As a guy - and for other reasons, I have steered clear of romance books, other than romantic suspense for years. However, when you really like an author, you read whatever they write. So here I am reading romance novels. (Smile)

  This is the eighth book in the Daughters of the Mayflower series. Woodhouse has written three books in this series: The Mayflower Bride (#1), The Patriot Bride (#4), and this one. I really enjoyed the previous two, especially Patriot Bride, but I enjoyed Golden Bride even more. Many of Woodhouse's books are historical, and she excels at historical accuracy, and I have learned a lot by reading her books. I am one of those readers who will Google things to see if it really did happen or exist, and she never disappoints.

 The Golden Bride is such an example. I have read about the Gold Rush before, but she focused more on the city of San Francisco and what it was like at that time. This book was more suspenseful than her other two in this series, and had bad guys who were more evil and unlikable than the other two books. I did find the descriptions of life there in that time fascinating, and liked the three main characters: Olivia, Joseph, and Daniel. There was a lot to like and find interesting, including the running of a restaurant in that time and setting.

 The illegal slave trade brought the reminder how evil can be, and how evil is not bound to any time or place. The secondary character Julia was a reminder that God can reach, save, and change any individual, no matter how wicked and sinful they are.

 I try not to give spoilers away, but will say I also liked the minor character Luke, and how that played out.

 The romantic element of the story was well done....not gushy or overdone, and I was rooting for it throughout the book.

 The Golden Bride had a very satisfying and suspenseful ending, and I only wished it had gone on a little longer....a normal feeling when a good book ends.

 This series can be read out of order, and each book stands independently of each other. I have only read the three by Woodhouse, and definitely recommend them....especially The Golden Bride...but I am sure the whole series is good and worth reading.

 The Golden Bride is available from Barbour Publishing. I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the author:


Kimberley Woodhouse is the best-selling author of more than twenty books who loves the JOY of story. A lover of history and research, she often gets sucked into the past and then her husband has to lure her out with chocolate. She's spoken to more than 800,000 people at more than 2,000 venues and has taught the craft of writing around the country. Married to the love of her life for twenty-five plus years, she makes her home in Montana. You can connect with Kimberley at: www.kimberleywoodhouse.com www.facebook.com/KimberleyWoodhouseAuthor

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Character Carved in Stone: The 12 Core Virtues of West Point That Build Leaders and Produce Success by Pat Williams and Jim Denney,

Book description:

Overlooking the Hudson River on the campus of the United States Military Academy at West Point are 12 granite benches, each inscribed with a word representing a key leadership virtue: compassion, courage, dedication, determination, dignity, discipline, integrity, loyalty, perseverance, responsibility, service, and trust. These benches remind cadets of the qualities that lead to victory and success, not just on the battlefield, but in all of life.

With his signature enthusiasm and insight, Pat Williams shares the incredible stories of West Point graduates who exemplified these traits, from the Civil War to the War on Terror. He shows readers of all backgrounds how to develop these 12 essential virtues in their lives, whether they are in the corporate world, the academic world, the military, the church, or in some other sphere.

My review:

 I really don't know much about Westpoint, but this book intrigued me, so I requested it for review. It is more of a deep read than my average reading material, but it was an interesting read. There is a lot of history in it, as the authors go as far back as the Civil War to relate stories of graduates who portrayed the characteristics well.

 There are people in the book I have heard and read a lot about, and others I had no clue who they were. The author did a great job of finding the information and compiling it in a book like this. Since I don't know a lot about Westpoint, I had no idea that they had leadership virtues, or what they were. I enjoyed learning about them, as well those who exemplified those virtues down through the last couple hundred years.

 In addition to learning about these people, I also walked away with a greater appreciation for our military and what they do to keep our country safe. Along with that, I also learned more about these virtues and how important they are for all of us, not just the military.

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

About the authors:
Pat Williams is senior vice president of the NBA's Orlando Magic. He has more than 50 years of professional sports experience; has written more than 100 books, including the popular Coach Wooden, The Difference You Make, and The Sweet Spot for Success; and is one of America's most sought-after motivational speakers. He lives in Florida. Find out more at www.patwilliams.com.

Jim Denney is the author of Walt's Disneyland, Answers to Satisfy the Soul, Writing in Overdrive, and the Timebenders series for young readers. He has written many books with Pat Williams, including Coach Wooden, The Difference You Make, and The Sweet Spot for Success. Learn more at www.writinginoverdrive.com.

Character Carved In Stone is available from Revell, a division of the Baker Book Publishing Group.

Thanks to Revell for the review copy.

A Shift a Day for Your Best Year Yet: 365 Ways to Improve Your Life, Career, and Relationships by Dean Del Sesto

Book description:

Regardless of where you are in life, change is always an opportunity. The most immediate path to lasting positive change will always be found in how we think about things. We either frame the various areas of our lives to regress, remain stagnant, or accelerate forward, and a single shift in our thought patterns can change everything for us.

That's what A Shift a Day for Your Best Year Yet is all about. Small shifts that add up to dynamic new directions. With these 365 original quotes, readers will find themselves well on their way down the path to greater success in their work, relationships, and lives. Short, memorable, and to-the-point, each thought-provoking page is designed to interrupt thinking that doesn't work and replace it with thinking that does.

The perfect spontaneous gift for a friend or impulse buy for oneself. 

My review:

  This is a cool little book that anyone could use and benefit from. From the title, I assume the idea is to read one each day throughout the year. They are short enough though that a person could read several if they wanted.

 There are two per page, and after each way, there is a short paragraph expounding on the idea. The ways they give to improve your life cover a wide variety of topics, but they are well thought out and valuable ideas. The book is an interesting read, whether you do it daily or read several a day. It is definitely worth reading, and very helpful.

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

About the author:

Dean Del Sesto runs an award-winning branding and communications agency called Breviti (breviti.com) and is also a partner in Veracity Colab, a B2B and consumer-based video agency (veracitycolab.com). With over 25 years in marketing, Dean has been directly involved in the brand development of more than 800 companies, developing over $1.6 billion in revenue for his clients. He is a keynote speaker (deandelsesto.com), is the author of Shift Your Thinking and Shift Your Thinking for Success, and lives in Southern California with his wife, Kittrena.

The book is available from Spire, a division of Baker Book Publishing.

The Baggage Handler by David Rawlings

Book Description

In a similar vein to The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews or Dinner with a Perfect Stranger by David Gregory, The Baggage Handler is a contemporary story that explores one question: What baggage are you carrying?

“The Baggage Handler by David Rawlings is an extraordinary novel that lingered in my heart long after I finished it.”—Colleen Coble, USA Today bestselling author of The House at Saltwater Point and the Lavender Tide series

When three people take the wrong suitcase from baggage claim, their lives change forever.

A hothead businessman coming to the city for a showdown meeting to save his job.

A mother of three hoping to survive the days at her sister's house before her niece’s wedding.

And a young artist pursuing his father’s dream so he can keep his own alive.

When David, Gillian, and Michael each take the wrong suitcase from baggage claim, the airline directs them to retrieve their bags at a mysterious facility in a deserted part of the city. There they meet the enigmatic Baggage Handler, who shows them there is more in their baggage than what they have packed, and carrying it with them is slowing them down in ways they can’t imagine. And they must deal with it before they can leave.

In this modern-day parable about the burdens that weigh us down, David Rawlings issues an inspiring invitation to lighten the load.

My review:

 This was a book I wasn't sure I'd like, as it didn't sound like what I normally read. I decided to give it a try, and am glad I did. The book pulled me in, and I found myself completely enjoying it. I guess you could call this book a parable, as real luggage is used to show how we carry baggage around.

 This is a book that most people could probably relate to and enjoy. Most of us are weighed down by something. Topics of forgiveness, envy, and other negative things we need to let go of are dealt with....and if it isn't those things, there are other things that weigh people down that the book could help address.

 Although God and Christianity are not mentioned, I would still call it a Christian book, as there are  things we as Christians need to let go of if we are to live productive Christian lives.

 I found the whole plot quite genius, and especially when the three main characters were forced to confront their baggage.

 The book was a fun read, if a book that makes you say "ouch" and convicts you can be fun. I found myself relating to more than one thing addressed in the book, and am sure many others would have the same experience.

 If one were to take this book to heart, it could definitively help. I definitely recommend.

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

About the author:


David Rawlings is an Australian author, and a sports-mad father of three who loves humor and a clever turn of phrase. Over a 25-year career he has put words on the page to put food on the table, developing from sports journalism and copywriting to corporate communication. Now in fiction, he entices readers to look deeper into life with stories that combine the everyday with a sense of the speculative, addressing the fundamental questions we all face.

Website: www.davidrawlings.com.au; Facebook: David Rawlings – Author; Instagram: davidrawlingsauthor.


The Baggage Handler is available from Thomas Nelson Publishing.

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for the review copy.