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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Steal Away Home by Matt Carter and Aaron Ivey - A Book Review

Steal Away Home: Charles Spurgeon and Thomas Johnson, Unlikely Friends on the Passage to Freedom? by [Carter ,  Matt,  Ivey, Aaron]    

     This book lovingly tells the story of well-known Pastor Charles Spurgeon of England and his friendship with less well-known Pastor Thomas Johnson, a former slave in the United States. It is a story based on real events, one that includes many word-for-word quotations. However it is a somewhat fictionalized account of these two men’s lives that holds very close to the truth. The book is well-researched and beautifully told.
     Susannah Spurgeon and Henrietta Johnson, wives of the two pastors, play a key role in the story and in their husbands’ spiritual growth and ministry. Another whose role is key in the spiritual life of Charles Spurgeon, one who was so present he seemed like a real character, essential to the telling, was the depression that hung over Charles from childhood and long into adulthood. His and Susannah’s stories more fully explain the purpose of suffering and why God allows it than anything I’ve read or heard prior to reading this novel.

     The reader of Steal Away Home cannot help but be changed, at least a little bit, by the experience. This book is time-worthy for even the busiest person. I most highly recommend it. I wish to thank NetGalley and B & H Publishing Group for providing me with a copy of Steal Away Home in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation.  

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

A Time to Stand by Robert Whitlow - A Book Review

Product Details    Robert Whitlow

     This is truly a book for this time in America. Robert Whitlow takes on the topic of racial unrest, and sets it in the deep south where it has the deepest roots. He works his plot around the shooting of an unarmed, black teenaged male by a white policeman. Whitlow surrounds the story with strong, Christian characters on either side of this legal drama. Right in the middle he places a young, black female attorney who is part of the police officer’s defense council.
     Whitlow deals with the difficulty humans of any color have distinguishing between their idea of how they view the world, and how they are truly seeing it through their personal lens, a lens formed by personal experience, collective experience, the media, and the depth of their relationship with the Author of love. He places this hand in hand with the assumptions each person makes about how others see them. Ultimately through the acts of love of mature saints, the reader comes to realize the impact of seeing ourselves and others through God’s eyes. Well-known pastor Chip Ingram would say we need an accurate view of God and an accurate view of ourselves.
     A Time to Stand would be a great book club book, and provides thoughtful questions for discussion. It is also a great book for individual reading and personal reflection. It is one of those stories that can be enjoyed on a surface level for the entertaining, legal thriller that it is, but begs not to be read on such a shallow level. It is a story that won’t be forgotten once the covers are closed for the final time. While readers will be reminded of Deshaun Hamlin and Luke Nelson as they watch the evening news, I hope that A Time to Stand will be a catalyst to taking a stand of their own, a stand for love, forgiveness, reconciliation and unity.

     I thank NetGalley and Thomas Nelson for providing me with a copy of A Time to Stand in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation for providing this review.  

Friday, September 8, 2017

Cherished Mercy by Tracie Peterson - A Book Review

Cherished Mercy (Heart of the Frontier Book #3) by [Peterson, Tracie]    Tracie Peterson

     Mercy Flanigan was aptly named. Her ability to show mercy to others amazes those around her, but she realizes that when you embrace bitterness and grudges there isn’t room for the things you’d rather embrace. A lesson we can all benefit from. Mercy is the youngest of the three Flanigan sisters, and the main character in this third and final installment of the Heart of the Frontier series. To truly appreciate her story, the reader would greatly benefit from having read the series in sequence. The sisters’ travels along the Oregon Trail and the presence of two of them at the Whitman Mission Massacre lead up to Mercy’s finding herself in the middle of the Rogue River War as the year 1855 draws to a close. Tracie Peterson’s storytelling skills are backed up by her diligent research when placing her characters in true historical events.
     As part of Mercy’s story, readers will meet seven-year-old Faith Browning whose parents and uncle are missionaries among the Tututni. Faith is a precocious child who learned to read at the age of two.  Unfortunately, the life she knew among a loving family and supportive community spins into chaos with the increased volatility between an army and volunteer militia supported by a government that favored extermination of Oregon’s native population and the Rogue River Indian tribes. Faith proves herself to be a strong young lady, remaining faithful to her Lord and to her family’s instruction. Readers will hope that Faith may make an appearance in a future Peterson series.

     Fans of historical fiction and romantic fiction alike will enjoy Cherished Mercy and the Heart of the Frontier series. I am appreciative of NetGalley and Bethany House for providing me a copy in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation for this review.  

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

These Healing Hills by Ann H. Gabhart - A Book Review

These Healing Hills by [Gabhart, Ann H.]   Ann H. Gabhart
     Do you remember reading Christy, Catherine Marshall’s 1967 novel about a young woman who moved to the Smokey Mountains in 1912 to teach school, and who came to know and love the people who lived in that region, people whose culture was much different than the one in which she was raised? It is a story that once read will live in your heart forever. Ann Gabhart’s 2017 novel about a young woman who moved to the Appalachian Mountains of Eastern Kentucky as World War II was ending to join the Frontier Nursing Service resonates in one’s heart in much the same way, as she too comes to know and love the mountain people. Gabhart’s writing reflects her own love of the people of her home state, both in These Healing Hills and many of her previous novels set in small town, Kentucky.
     Francine Howard, stifled by an overbearing mother, and jilted by the man she expected to marry, sees the opportunity to join the Frontier Nursing Service and to train at its midwifery school as a way to not only escape an uncomfortable situation, but also as a way to discover herself. She did not foresee the love she would experience for the people who lived in the Eastern Kentucky mountains, nor for the very mountains themselves. A love that would far outweigh the pleasures of the modern conveniences which she would leave behind. Francine is one of those rare people who sees past stereotypes into the hearts of people, a trait we sorely need in today’s society.

     These Healing Hills is a heartwarming story, one that I would most highly recommend. I thank NetGalley and Revell Books for providing me a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation for providing the review. 

Justice Buried by Patricia Bradley - A Book Review

Justice Buried by [Bradley, Patricia]      Patricia Bradley

     Justice Buried, is the second novel in Patricia Bradley’s Memphis Cold Case series. While mention is made of events from the first book, this book works well as a stand-alone read, and not enough mention is made to spoil the reader’s possible decision to read the first book after the second.  
     Diminishing funding for the arts and humanities has caused Kelsey Allen to move from working as a museum conservator out of her love for antiquities to opening her own security company working out of her love of climbing and cyber security. These loves allowed her to test her clients’ physical and technological security, then to help them fill in the gaps. Unfortunately, Kelsey may have seen more than she was meant to when assisting Rutherford Security, and now she seemed to be a walking target, placing her own family at risk.
     Detective Brad Hollister kept women at arm’s length after being dumped by his fiancĂ© who could not handle his work in the Memphis Police Department’s Homicide Unit. He was skeptical to say the least when Elle showed renewed interest in their relationship after hearing about his transfer to the Cold Case Unit. Still, he was determined to keep a professional distance as he became more deeply and deeply involved in Kelsey’s case which somehow seemed link to her father’s disappearance twenty-eight years ago.

     Reader’s will find an abundance of suspects as they follow the clues in both past and current cases. Solving the mysteries before Brad and Kelsey do may not be so easy. Trying will keep them turning the pages and putting off other things. I thank NetGalley and Revell Books for providing me with a copy of Justice Buried in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Up in Smoke by Hannah Conway - A Book Review

Up in Smoke by [Conway, Hannah R.]     An image posted by the author.

     Hannah Conway is a gifted storyteller. There are so many things to love about Up in Smoke. Hannah’s characters, main and secondary, are endearing. Her themes of forgiveness and the joy found in a life lived in Christ are clearly communicated without being preachy. The plot of Up in Smoke is suspenseful, yet realistic; the story would play well on 48 Hours and would not seem farfetched in today’s newspaper headlines. Hannah portrays twenty first century small town life in Kentucky without making it seem hokey or relying on stereotypes. The romance in the story is touching without lustful embellishments. The pace of the story and the twist and turns are well designed to keep the reader’s interest.
     Following the untimely death of her parents, Leanna Wilson leaves her New York law practice to return to her hometown in Kentucky to become guardian to her much younger sister. Unfortunately, a will written before she reached full adulthood and a surprising amount of debt left by her parents for her to contend with might strip her hurting sister from her loving care. At about the same time, Leanna’s childhood friend and former sweetheart, Garrison Burke, is struggling to put together an appropriate family care plan for his son and aging aunt in preparation for his deployment to the Middle East. A widower, Garrison had stayed behind the last two times his unit deployed. He knew what staying behind again would mean to his military career, and it wasn’t good. Was there a way that Leanna and Garrison could be the answer to one another’s problems, and if so, would it be a God-honoring solution? Each time Leanna and Garrison seem to be gaining some element of control over their situations, the past in the form of Leanna’s former fiancĂ©, her aunt and uncle, and Garrison’s regrets and fears threw them into a tailspin. Might ceding control to God be a better choice?

     I received an advanced reader copy of Up in Smoke in exchange for my honest opinion. A favorable review was not required, and I received no monetary compensation for my review. I recommend this book to fans of both Christian romance and suspense novels. You won’t be disappointed. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Gone for a Soldier by Marsha Ward - A Book Review

Marsha Ward

     Marsha Ward is a new to me author, having only read one of her short stories prior to this book, and I was happy to be asked to read and review this Civil War novel as my reading has focused on this era a lot lately. Based on a wonderful monolog by a docent on a recent visit to the Lotz House in Franklin, Tennessee, I believe Marsha Ward did a marvelous job of capturing the horrors of the sights, sounds, smells and privations of the Civil War. I must admit, while not at all inappropriate in her word choice, the intensity and frequency with which Ward dealt with the desires of young, unmarried men was a bit over the top. Nevertheless, I did enjoy and would recommend the book with that caveat.
     The Owen family is blessed with both strong maternal and paternal characters, and a wealth of love within the family. Julia and Roderick Owen of Shenandoah County, Virginia have nine offspring, ages eight to twenty as the story begins. Father and five sons will serve on the side of the Confederacy during the war; not all are destined to return. Rather than focusing on the issues for which they fought, Ward concentrates on the toll military service in the Civil War took on relationships, on those on the front lines, on those left behind, and on the communities devastated by the invading troops.

     I thank Marsha Ward for providing me a copy of Gone for a Soldier in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation. I do look forward to reading her novella, That Tender Light, which tells the story of how Rod and Julia met.