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Friday, August 3, 2018

Auschwitz Lullaby by Mario Escobar - A Book Review

Auschwitz Lullaby: A NovelAn image posted by the author.

Recently I watched an interview with a twin who was subjected to Dr. Josef Mengele's experiments at Auschwitz. Her voice rang in my head as I read Auschwitz Lullaby by Mario Escobar. The atrocities of which Mengele was guilty were great, and he was never brought to justice on this side of eternity. In this book Escobar tells the story of Helene Hannemann, largely adhering to the actual facts of her time at Auschwitz with her five children. Helene, an Aryan, voluntarily accompanied her Gypsy husband and their children when the soldiers came to take them away. Her determination to care for her children and those of other Gypsy families in the camp improved the circumstances for many during their imprisonment. Hannemann worked under the direction of Dr. Mengele, running a nursery and school for the Gypsy children, some who were then taken to be included in his experiments. Her goal remained the same throughout her time there, to protect and care for the children.

Escobar's well-written, somewhat fictionalized account of her life allows Helene Hannemann to be an inspiration to another generation of parents, a generation that may be in need of a lesson in sacrifice. Helene could have spared her life, could have walked away from the filth, disease and death that was Auschwitz, but instead she sacrificed each hour, each minute, for the children.

I highly recommend Auschwitz Lullaby not only for fans of historical fiction, but for all who have a heart for children, and those in this generation who may need to be reminded of the gift they are. Received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The Patriot Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse - A Book Review

The Patriot Bride: Daughters of the Mayflower - book 4  

The Patriot Bride is the fourth book in the Daughters of the Mayflower series. Kimberley Woodhoue wrote the first and fourth books. In this most recent addition to the series, Faith Lytton, great-great-great granddaughter to William and Elizabeth Lytton, was orphaned at the age of ten and made ward of then twenty-year-old George Washington. Faith grew into a fine, Christian woman who embraced the Patriot's cause. Having been widowed after one week of marriage and having never remarried, Faith felt compelled to take on a dangerous mission as messenger between Patriot spies, sparing those women with husbands and children from the dangers involved. Matthew Weber, a close friend of Washington's and a thirty-six-year-old bachelor, was a Patriot spy among the Loyalists. It was to him that Faith carried coded messages while receiving messages in return. Neither anticipated the spark that became a flame growing between them, nor the consequences of the request of the Loyalists whom Matthew moved among that he spy on the Patriots.

Woodhouse provides her reader with an interesting historical romance with a dash of intrigue. While the book is one of a series, it works well as a stand-alone read. The book holds the reader's interest without a great deal of complexity; is is a simple, entertaining, quick read. For me books like this are akin to using a palate cleanser between courses.

I thank NetGalley and Barbour Publishing for providing me with a copy of The Patriot Bride in exchange for an honest review. I was under not obligation to provide a positive review and received no monetary compensation.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Dark Visions by James Byron Huggins - A Book Review

DARK VISIONS by [Byron Huggins, James] 

If you read Dark Visions you are going to want to learn the authenticity of the portrayal of a raven's behavior and intelligence. Well, I've done the research for you. Ravens are indeed reported to be as intelligent as dolphins and chimpanzees. They can mock human speech as well as other environmental sounds, and they do problem solve. They even display empathy. In Dark Visions the raven, Poe, is more friend and protector than pet to Joe Mac Blake. It is suggested that Poe has a personal connection to and mission from God.

After reading a couple of chapters of Dark Visions I got online to double check that this novel was actually categorized as Christian fiction, which it was. As such, I feel the need to alert readers that it does contain some profanity and that both the name of God and Jesus are at times used carelessly as exclamations. I know that there has been much discussion on various Christian reader social media pages about the use of such language in books labeled as Christian fiction, and just wanted readers to be aware as to be able to make decisions based on their prayerful perspectives.

As to the plot and writing style, Dark Visions is well titled, exciting, fast paced, and has believable dialogue. Joe Mac Blake is a retired NYPD detective who was blinded in the line of duty. He sets out with rookie Detective Jodi Strong to find a serial killer who has included Joe Mac's grandson among his victims. Evidence points to a member of a group of Druids as the prime suspect. Their investigation takes them into the dark underworld of the Druid culture and into a world of danger.

I struggle with rating this book due to the careless use of holy names. I was not terribly bothered by the profanity. If it were not for the misuse of holy names, I would readily give it five stars. I thank NetGalley and Wildblue Press for providing me with a copy of Dark Visions in exchange for an honest opinion. I was under no obligation to provide a positive review and received no monetary compensation

Called to Protect by Lynette Eason - A Book Review

Called to Protect (Blue Justice Book #2)  

Called to Protect is the second book in Eason's Blue Justice series featuring the St. John family comprised mostly of law enforcement personnel. This book focuses on the tragedy related to human trafficking, both the tragedy that leads to it and the tragedy that results from it. Eason graces her readers with cameo appearances by two characters from her Elite Guardians series.

For six months Penny St. John, teenage cousin to Officer Chloe St. John, had been missing. Law enforcement, including most of the St. John family, had been actively searching for her. Unlike Rachel MacCullum whose disappearance had gone unreported. Unreported because she was being held as a means of forcing her father, Deputy US Marshal Blake MacCullum, into killing the judge he was assigned to protect. The only place Blake had to turn was to his best friend, FBI Special Agent Linc St. John, and consequently Linc's sister, Chloe. Would the three of them be able to use their available resources in time to save Rachel and to find Penny?

Human trafficking is becoming a growing problem in our world today. According to the Polaris website, the International Labour Organization estimates that there are 40.3 million victims of human trafficking globally, and that it is a $150 billion industry worldwide. Force 4 Compassion's site says that 3,287 people are sold or kidnapped and forced into slavery every day, and that is just the reported cases. I appreciate Lynette Eason using her platform as a novelist to keep this issue in the public eye. Let us all seek to be informed of ways we can be part of the solution.

In addition to raising our social consciousness, Called to Protect is a good read. The characters are engaging the plot captivating and well-paced, and the dialogue believable. I highly recommend this book and this author. I thank NetGalley and Revell Publishing for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest opinion. I was under no obligation to provide a positive review and received no monetary compensation.

Caught by Surprise by Jen Turano - A Book Review

Caught by Surprise (Apart From the Crowd Book #3) by [Turano, Jen]  

I truly enjoyed the first twenty-eight chapters of Temperance Flowerdew's story from her kidnapping to finding those responsible for the threats on her life, from the difficulties of living with cousins who did not want her to the pursuit of her hand in marriage by someone who wanted her very much. I had anticipated the events that occurred early in chapter twenty-nine, but had been hoping the story wouldn't take that trite route. Then at the end of the chapter I found myself rolling my eyes. Although I actually would have embraced the end of chapter twenty-nine without the beginning. So, I chose to hold onto the wonderfulness, if that's even a word, of the first twenty-eight chapters and rewrite the ending in my head. Jen Turano provided me with some pretty fun characters to do that with, placed them in a delightful setting, and gave me twenty-eight great chapters to become involved in their lives. I thank her for that, and hope she doesn't mind my parting ways over the last couple of chapters.
I thank NetGalley and Bethany House for providing me with a copy of Caught By Surprise in exchange for an honest review. I was under no obligation to write a positive review and received no monetary compensation.

The Lady of Tarpon Springs by Judith Miller - A Book Review

The Lady of Tarpon Springs by [Miller, Judith] 

     I was excited to see this title because I love Tarpon Springs, Florida: the history, the close community feel, the absolutely amazing food, and the culture. Judith Miller captured it all in The Lady of Tarpon Springs. About a quarter of the way into the story I turned to the Author's Note in the back in order to get an idea of which characters were fictional and which weren't. It turns out they are all fictional, but the story gives the flavor of the time and place quite well, giving a down-sized version of the arrival of Greek sponge divers, an industry that continues to play an important role in the small town as it also sustains tourism in the area.
     Attorney Zanna Krykos and physician Lucy Penrose are taking on new roles for women in the early 1900's, not only in their chosen professions, but also in the ownership and management of a sponge company that fell into their hands with the death of Lucy's father. While Lucy owned the company,it was Greek-speaking Zanna who managed day-to-day operations along with Nico Kalos, the leader of the fifty Greek sponge divers. Lucy's father had left them ill-prepared, but Zanna proved herself up to the task. Once the daunting challenge of housing and feeding such a large group was met, other challenges continued to arise. While relying on Nico to help meet them, Zanna realized she was losing her heart to the seafaring man, something that would not set well with her own father.
     I have some other books by Judith Miller loaded on my Kindle. After reading The Lady of Tarpon Springs I am anxious to read those as well. I thank Net Galley and Bethany House for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was under no obligation to write a positive review and received no monetary compensation.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Dead Drift by Dani Pettrey - A Book Review

Dead Drift (Chesapeake Valor Book #4) Dani Pettrey

     I stepped into Dani Pettrey's Chesapeake Valor series with Dead Drift, the final book in the series. While it was obvious as I read that it would have been preferable to read the books in sequence, Pettrey provided just enough background information to inform a reader new to the series and to refresh the mind of a reader following the series without causing the story to drag.
     CI A operative Luke Gallagher was recruited by the agency fresh out of college. He walked away from friends, family and the love of his life, Kate Maxwell, for what he thought would be a short assignment and a big adventure. Now he was back for the first time after a seven year absence. The hunt for the terrorist Ebeid having brought him full circle, back to his hometown. Now he must find Ebeid with the help of Kate and their closest friends, each with their own special skill set for fighting crime, before Ebeid could carry out his plan to unleash anthrax on unsuspecting Americans. He must do this while facing the fact that Kate was still the only woman he had ever or would ever love, working with the friends he had abandoned, and coming to terms with the things he had done while working as an operative.
     Kate Maxwell, a private investigator and a federal consultant on the task force to bring down Ebeid, was shocked to have Luke walk back into her life after seven years; seven years in which she had never gotten over loving him or being betrayed by him. No way she was going to risk having her heart pummeled again, but would her resolve hold out? Danger has a way of defining priorities.
     I recommend Dead Drift, and do suggest reading the entirety of the Chesapeake Valor series in sequence. Pettrey can always be counted upon for a fast paced, adventure filled read, and this book does not disappoint. I thank NetGalley and Bethany House for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review. I was under no obligation to provide a positive review and received no monetary compensation. All opinions are my own.