Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Review of Lip Reading by Harry Krause

This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, you may be helping to support a voracious curriculum buying habit. Be warned. And thank you for clicking through to purchase.

I've been a fan of books from Harry Kraus for a while now. Harry Kraus writes novels featuring characters who are in the medical field or who are patients. They are books with some sort of mystery or suspense and medical drama.


Lip Reading was another great one. The characters were interesting and well-developed. And the story was so compelling I didn't want to put it down. Even though it was a longer read, I finished it pretty quickly because it was so good. Like the other Harry Kraus books, the main character works in the medical field- a pharmaceutical developer. She is also a patient in this story. And there is a mystery to solve and some suspense.

Kraus's books are Christian fiction but aren't "preachy" at all. So, although the characters mention their relationship with God, and that's an element of the story development, the books appeal to Christian and secular audiences alike.

Lip Reading was another enjoyable Harry Kraus novel. I give it 4 stars (for an ending I won't spoil!) and a PG rating.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.




This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Lip Reading
David C. Cook (March 1, 2014)
by
Harry Kraus


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A Word from Harry:

I started writing my first novel during my last year of surgery training at UK. I was a chief resident, and started writing Stainless Steal Hearts in a call room at the Veteran's Administration Hospital in Lexington. It was a crazy time to write! I had a very demanding schedule, often spending days and nights in the hospital. I had two sons at that time, and I recognized the wisdom in my wife's urging: "Now doesn't seem the right time for this dream."

My experience as a writer is far from typical. Having received my formal training in biology and chemistry and medicine, my only preparation for a writing career was a love for reading. The longest thing I'd written before my first novel was a term paper in undergraduate school. My first novel was accepted by Crossway Books and published in 1994, and it wasn't until after I had FOUR published novels that I even opened a book of instruction about the craft of writing fiction. This is not what I recommend to others! Yes, I was successful, but I was bending the "rules" without knowing it. I had a natural talent for plotting, but I realize my initial success may have stunted my growth as a writer. I'd have made faster progress if I'd have gone to the fiction teachers sooner.

I have three sons: Joel, Evan, and Samuel. Look closely in all of my books and you'll see them there. My lovely wife, Kris, provides the basic composition for all those beautiful, athletic, dedicated women in my novels.

ABOUT THE BOOK

She Could Save Millions, or Save Herself

She just needs a little longer. She’s really close. Dr. Rebecca Jackson, a medical researcher, stands on the verge of a breakthrough that will transform medicine. But she soon discovers the reason behind the miraculous progress in her research, and it leaves her with a nearly impossible choice . . . and little time to decide. More than her research is at stake. And more threatens it than this latest revelation. Something she’s tried hard to cover up. There is a high cost to some things in medicine and it’s not always the patient who pays. Can Rebecca find the faith and wisdom she needs to make the right call? The clock is ticking and the pressure is on.


If you would like to read the first chapter of Lip Reading, go HERE.


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Monday, April 14, 2014

Review of Canyon of Danger and River of Peril by Susan K. Marlow: Books 3 and 4 of the Goldtown Adventures

This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, you may be helping to support a voracious curriculum buying habit. Be warned. And thank you for clicking through to purchase.




Susan K. Marlow is the author of several series of quality books for kids. Her newest series is the Goldtown Adventures. I reviewed book 3 and 4 in the series- Canyon of Danger and River of Peril.

The books feature young Jem Coulter. The books are set in the Old West, and Jem's father is a sheriff. In Canyon of Danger Jem is left to be the man of the house while his father is transporting a prisoner. Unfortunately things don't go very smoothly for Jem and he is plunged into adventure trying to do everything not to let his father down. In River of Peril Jem and his family are headed to Sacramento when the stagecoach is ambushed. Jem finds out his father has a secret. And Jem, his sister, and his cousin stumble into a smuggling operation.

The stories are interesting and wholesome reads filled with good values and good, clean adventure. I think the stories of Jem will appeal to young boys who have a hard time finding books they find interesting. I know as the mom of a boy that many books seem more geared toward girls, and it is sometimes difficult for boys to find books that appeal to them. Jem and his adventures will interest young boys.

I had the opportunity to ask author Susan K. Marlow some questions about the Goldtown Adventure books:

Q:How did you develop an interest in the Old West time period? 

A: I grew up in the ’60s, when TV westerns were a childhood staple: Rawhide, Bonanza, Big Valley, Wagon Train, and Rin-Tin-Tin, to name a few. They left me with a sense of adventure, and I always wanted to live back then (although now after much research, I realize that in many respects “the good old days . . . they were terrible”). I taught U.S. history in our co-op, and the Old West and the Gold Rush were favorite topics of ours.    


Q: What has been your favorite thing that you've learned while writing these books? 

A: I love exploring the California gold country and the old gold towns and mines. But learning about the Knights of the Golden Circle and riverboats on the Sacramento River was my favorite discovery. When I heard “paddlewheel steam boat,” I always pictured the Mississippi and Missouri rivers and Mark Twain. I never thought about paddle wheelers churning the rivers of the West. It was the catalyst for what I thought would be a very different kind of “gold” story. The best part is that it was drawn from true events. California gold did support the War effort, a fact often overlooked in Civil War history books.


Q: What do you hope kids learn from the adventures of Jem and his friends? 

A: I want kids to enjoy an exciting adventure that helps them imagine what life was like during the waning years of the California Gold Rush. More importantly, I want them to realize that God can be an integral, natural part of our lives, not Someone tacked on once a week at church. I think a good number of folks had that realization in the 19th century. I hope we can keep that alive in our children’s hearts in the 21st century.    


The greatest things I found about these books as a homeschool mom were the additional resources available. There are free study guides offered on the site (and printed, bound study guides to purchase). And there are lapbooks offered in conjunction with A Journey Through Learning. So there are many ways to use these books- as pleasure reading or as an educational unit study.

I enjoyed these two books from the series and look forward to reading some of Susan's other books from this series and others. Look below for a special deal on the ebook version of these books during the blog tour!



Disclosure: I received a free copy of these books from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.


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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Review of Hands of Darkness by Heather James

This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, you may be helping to support a voracious curriculum buying habit. Be warned. And thank you for clicking through to purchase.


Hands of Darkness (Lure of the Serpent)Last year I read and reviewed Unholy Hunger by Heather James. It was a psychological thriller about a lawyer - Evelyn Barrett- who had lost her daughter to a pedophile. Evelyn ends up on the trail of her daughter's killer with a police detective- Thatcher.


Hands of Darkness continues Evelyn's story. As it opens she is due with her second child. But it doesn't prevent her from becoming a consultant to Thatcher with whom she worked to search for the pedophile who killed her daughter in the first book. This time she's helping with an investigation to find a serial killer.

I continue to like Evelyn's sarcastic tone and dry sense of humor. She's a great character. As in the other book, she narrates most of the story with occasional glimpses into the mind and thoughts of the killer.

Like Unholy Hunger, this is a really dark book. The subject matter is difficult to read about. And any time that I take a look at the mind of a killer, it's a dark place. But the book is a very compelling read. I grabbed on at the beginning and didn't want to stop until I knew how it would come out.

I give this one 5 stars and an R rating for content.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.

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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Review of Take This Cup by Bodie and Brock Thoene

This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, you may be helping to support a voracious curriculum buying habit. Be warned. And thank you for clicking through to purchase.


I became a reader of the Thoene's historical fiction many, many (many) years ago when I was in high school. I read a series that took place when Israel became a nation state after World War 2. And then I read a series that surrounded a Jewish family during World War 2. I've read a series that took place during the Depression and a series in old Ireland. Most recently I've read the first book in the Jerusalem Chronicles- When Jesus Wept. As I looked up the Thoene's website I realized that there are some others I've missed or only read a few of.


So I was thrilled to review the second of the Jerusalem Chronicles- Take This Cup.

Take This Cup is the story of Nehemiah- not the ancient Nehemiah, cupbearer to the king and returner to the promised land after captivity, but a young boy, born on the mountains of Eden and given a strange task. His task is to return an ancient cup to the new Messiah- Jesus- in Jerusalem. He learns of Jesus from his Rabbi who was one of the travelers from afar who came to worship the new Messiah at His birth. As Nehemiah goes on his journey, he has dreams and visions that teach him the history and the promises of the Messiah. When he finally reaches the Messiah, Nehemiah learns that He is not the King Nehemiah thought he was looking for- He is so much more.

Reading Biblical fiction makes me nervous. I don't want an author who is going to take great liberty and build a story that is not Biblically accurate. I want what I read to be true to Scripture. But often Biblical fiction writers are taking what may be a really short section of the Bible and building a whole novel. Obviously somethings come from the imagination of the author. The questions for me are this: Is the story that unfolds something that could be Biblically true? Are the portions of the story that come from direct Scripture and that surround known Biblical characters accurate?

The Thoene's books answer these questions with a resounding YES! With a wonderful Jewish perspective, the Thoenes take what is known from the Bible and weave beautiful narratives surrounding Biblical characters. With the stories that they create and the characters that they introduce the Bible is brought alive in a rich a meaningful way. Although they create quite a bit of story, every single Biblical person or incident or Scripture is portrayed with accuracy. Occasionally their characters will even address times is Scripture where words can have multiple meanings. The character- in this story Nehemiah- will think on what has been said and note that while some people thought Jesus meant one thing, Nehemiah thinks from the Hebrew word that Jesus really could have meant something else.

With the beautiful imagery and detailed descriptions of Biblical times and events, the Thoene's books make me want to know more Scripture, to know more about the Jesus in their stories. This is the mark of great Biblical fiction. It is accurate, it draws readers to want to know God's Word.

I can definitely give this one 5 stars- and indeed recommend all of the Thoene's other books. I give it a PG for content.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.






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Monday, March 24, 2014

Review of Maybelle in Stitches by Joyce Magnin

This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, you may be helping to support a voracious curriculum buying habit. Be warned. And thank you for clicking through to purchase.

I've enjoyed quite a few of the Quilts of Love series from Abingdon. And I've read quite a few books from Joyce Magnin such as The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow. So I was quite excited to see that she had written a book in the series.

Unfortunately this wasn't one of my favorite in the series. The style was something like that of other Joyce Magnin books but seemed more stilted somehow. Most of the other Quilts of Love books have been romances, and this one wasn't really. The historic time period- World War 2- was interesting. But I didn't really enjoy this read.

I give this one 3 stars and a G rating.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.




This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Maybelle In Stitches
Abingdon Press (March 18, 2014)
by
Joyce Magnin


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A word from the Author:

I am the author of seven novels. Five adult novels and two middle grade readers. I never wanted to do anything else but write and every day I wake up astonished that I get to do what I always dreamed about. My days are filled with words and images along with the usual family stuff. I have three children, Rebekah who is married to Joshua. They have three of the most adorable boys on the planet, Lemuel, Cedar and Soren. My daughter Emily Kate is a lovely young woman anthropologist and my son Adam is fourteen and a student--he's a genius who loves frogs and lizards and fish and plants. He amazes me.

I have never eaten a scallop. I love cream soda. Drink way too much coffee. I do not like elevators but I do enjoy needle arts and of course books. I prefer jazz over country (no offense), milk chocolate over dark, but not roller coasters although my life has often resembled a roller coaster ride.

One of my life's desires is to meet Amy Grant so I can tell her she saved my life.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Maybelle can’t sew. But when she finds an unfinished quilt in the attic of her mother’s house, she gets the crazy idea to complete it. At first, it’s just a way to fill the lonely nights while her husband, staff sergeant Holden Kanzinzki, is away fighting in World War II.

Yet when Maybelle discovers that the quilt is made from scraps of material that can be traced back through her family heritage, the project is suddenly much more important. Then word comes that Holden is missing in action, and with little else to do, Maybelle clings to the quilt as much as to the hope that her husband is still alive. As neighborhood friends gather around Maybelle to help her through the unknown days and nights ahead, it is the quilt that becomes a symbol of her unflagging belief that Holden will return—to her, to their home, and to their quilt-covered bed.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Maybelle In Stitches, go HERE.


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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Review of A Godward Heart by John Piper

This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, you may be helping to support a voracious curriculum buying habit. Be warned. And thank you for clicking through to purchase.


A Godward Heart by John PiperI have long enjoyed reading the writings of John Piper. His writing style draws me in and makes me think about the subject matters. And I've learned much about living the life God would have me to live by pondering his writings.


A Godward Heart is a collection of short meditations from Piper. There are fifty here, so they could be read as a short devotional several times a week or for a month and a half as a daily devotional. The meditations aren't all based on Scripture like some devotionals (Scripture reading, explanation, application), but they are like short essays/meditations.

Topics range from explanation of particular Scriptures to modesty to God's glory and grace. Piper is good at explaining and at using Scripture to back up his thoughts and opinions.

The hardback copy is pretty and is small enough to make it easily portable. It makes a great little devotional book that would also be a good gift.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Review of Tide and Tempest by Elizabeth Ludwig

This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, you may be helping to support a voracious curriculum buying habit. Be warned. And thank you for clicking through to purchase.

This was a sweet and suspenseful romantic fiction novel. I loved the historical setting- New York in the early 1900s- and the primary characters who were Irish. This was the third book in a series, but I didn't have any trouble jumping in and following the story. I think the stories must be interwoven but feature different characters in each installment.

I loved the development of the characters and felt that I knew both of the main characters well. The developing romance was sweet but not predictable. There were obstacles thrown in the way, but they were realistic and helped the story development instead of making it drag on.

I enjoyed this one and will be looking for others in the series. I give it 4 stars and a PG for content.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.



This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Tide and Tempest
Bethany House Publishers (March 4, 2014)
by
Elizabeth Ludwig


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Elizabeth Ludwig is an award-winning author whose work has been featured on Novel Rocket, the Christian Authors Network, and The Christian Pulse. Her first novel, Where the Truth Lies (co-authored with Janelle Mowery), earned her the 2008 IWA Writer of the Year Award. This book was followed in 2009 by "I'll be Home for Christmas", part of the Christmas anthology collection, Christmas Homecoming.

In 2011, her second mystery, Died in the Wool (co-authored with Janelle Mowery) was nominated for a Carol Award. In 2012, the popular EDGE OF FREEDOM series released from Bethany House Publishers. Books one and two, No Safe Harbor and Dark Road Home, respectively, earned 4 Stars from the RT Book Reviews. Book three, Tide and Tempest, received top honors with 4 1/2 Stars.

Elizabeth is an accomplished speaker and teacher, often attending conferences and seminars where she lectures on editing for fiction writers, crafting effective novel proposals, and conducting successful editor/agent interviews. Along with her husband and children, she makes her home in the great state of Texas.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Two years ago, her fiance perished during their voyage to America.

Now she discovers it may have been murder...

Dreaming of a better life, Tillie McGrath leaves Ireland behind and, with her beloved fiance by her side, sets sail for America. But when illness robs her of the man she holds dear, she's left alone with only a handful of tattered memories. While forging on proves difficult, Tillie soon finds some new friends at her New York boardinghouse, and begins pursuing a new dream--to open a home for orphaned children.

Despite two years passing, Captain Keondric Morgan has never forgotten the lass who left his ship so heartbroken. When a crewman's deathbed confession reveals her fiance's demise was the result of murder, the captain knows he must try to contact her. But his attention draws the notice of others as well--dangerous men who believe Tillie has in her possession something that could expose their crimes. And to their way of thinking, the best way to prevent such an outcome is to seize the evidence and then hand Tillie the same fate as her naïve fiance.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Tide and Tempest, go HERE.

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