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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

My review of Catching the Wind by Melanie Dobson

About the book:

What happened to Brigitte Berthold?
That question has haunted Daniel Knight since he was thirteen, when he and eleven-year-old Brigitte escaped the Gestapo agents who arrested both their parents. They survived a harrowing journey from Germany to England, only to be separated upon their arrival. Daniel vowed to find Brigitte after the war, a promise he has fought to fulfill for more than seventy years.
Now a wealthy old man, Daniel's final hope in finding Brigitte rests with Quenby Vaughn, an American journalist working in London. He believes Quenby's tenacity to find missing people and her personal investment in a related WWII espionage story will help her succeed where previous investigators have failed. Though Quenby is wrestling her own demons--and wary at the idea of teaming up with Daniel's lawyer, Lucas Hough--the lure of Brigitte's story is too much to resist. Together, Quenby and Lucas delve deep into the past, following a trail of deception, sacrifice, and healing that could change all of their futures.
My review:

Lately it seems I rarely finish a book because I tend to get bored with the story. I finished this one, so that tells me something. I wasn't bored. Nor was I on the edge of my seat. The author wasn't trying to create anxiety, but it was more like a tender longing and a deep need to understand the past and find healing in it. She did a great job showing the fear of abandonment and the wariness when it came to trusting anyone. I was intrigued with the story. It gave me a warm feeling in my heart rather than an anxious one. While nothing scary happened, it captured my heart anyway.
There is just something about Melanie's writing and characters that pulls me in. I have yet to come across a pathetic or annoying character in any of her books, and I have read plenty of them. Eleven so far (to be exact) and I have enjoyed them all. They are often quite different. It's not so much the subject matter that captures me (though I love WWII era fiction) but the author's voice that compels me to keep reading.  The first book I have ever read by Melanie was "Together for Good" and from that point forward I have been hooked. She never has tension in a story or a plot that feels contrived. Regardless of how far from my own experience the characters' experience tends to be, they always manage to speak to me and make me think about my life and my decisions. And like the author, her books have a sweet and calming tone to them despite how deep the story goes. None of her novels are fluffy and fake. All of them will pull you in. At least for me, that's how it is.
This book slips between the past and the present day. Both eras intrigued me and while a bit more was in the present day, at least a third of the book contained historical chapters. I tend to prefer the historical chapters but in this book I liked them the same. I felt some of the angst and fear that Brigitte had when she couldn't find her friend and was taken in by a man and woman who didn't like her and only used her for her knowledge of the German language. It was interesting how the twists and turns through her life caused her to develop a strong desire to help abandoned children feel loved. I also loved how the main character resisted feeling anything for the man in the story because she didn't want to get close to anyone lest they hurt her again. Well done!
I give this story five stars because of it's pull on me and my desire to finish it. I don't want to give any spoilers, which is why some of this review is a bit vague. Discovering things is half the fun of reading a good book so it ruins it for me if someone tells me the plot in the review.
Catching the Wind was published by Tyndale and released in May 9, 2017.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

My review of Jesus Is: Find a New Way to be Human by Judah Smith

About the book:

Jesus is ____. How would you finish that sentence?

The subject is there, and so is the verb, but what comes next? Your answer could shed light on the path to becoming who you were made to be. In these pages, Judah Smith fills out that sentence again and again, each time further revealing the character of Jesus. He writes as if to a friend, illustrating the importance of Christ’s message to modern men and women. This is a book for new believers, for lifelong followers, and for the merely curious. Judah Smith shows us the Jesus that somber paintings and hymns fail to capture. With passion, humor, and conviction, he shows that Jesus is life. Jesus is grace. Jesus is your friend. Jesus is a new and better way to be human.

My review:

My sister bought me this book as a gift. I am typically not a fan of non-fiction. But I decided to give this book a try just to see how readable and interesting the subject matter would be. I also tend to be a bit skeptical when it comes to the biblical foundation of any non-fiction book. The premise and content inside the pages are built on a solid foundation of biblical Christianity. There is nothing inside the book that would cause a reader to question their faith in a bad way.

While not complex, the message is still pretty deep. It's not written for scholars, but for everyday people. The message is clear...Jesus is everything. Without him, we are nothing. But the message is delivered with humor and good illustrations/examples to help readers understand what Judah is trying to communicate. I read the book in small chunks. It's not something I would recommend reading straight through. Some of the subject matter needs digesting and some you just need to chew on for awhile. All in all I found it to be a very well-written and relevant book that made me think more about my life and how I can have a closer walk with Jesus. That's the bottom line, and the author made me thirsty for more, which is always a good thing.

Jesus is: Find a New Way to be Human was published by Thomas Nelson Publishers and released in 2013.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

My review of Three Maids for a Crown; a novel of The Grey Sisters by Ella March Chase


About the book:

In the second novel from Ella March Chase, we meet sixteen-year-old Jane Grey, a quiet and obedient young lady destined to become the shortest reigning English monarch. Her beautiful middle sister Katherine Grey charms all the right people--until loyalties shift. And finally Lady Mary Grey, a dwarf with a twisted spine whose goal is simply to protect people she loves--but at a terrible cost.

In an age in which begetting sons was all that mattered and queens rose and fell on the sex of their child, these three girls with royal Tudor blood lived under the dangerous whims of parents with a passion for gambling. The stakes they would wager: their daughters' lives against rampant ambition.

My review:

I enjoyed this author's writing style and perspective. Normally I would read books like this in a day, or two at the most, but I've been pretty busy lately so I haven't had much time to read. That said, I would definitely recommend this book. I have always found the reluctance of Jane Grey to be appointed queen and being forced to marry at fifteen a bit of a travesty. Women had no rights and were used as pawns back then. And being of royal blood makes the issue that much worse, especially if people wanted you to help their family take over the kingdom. This story was told over time through the perspectives of the three sisters. They all experienced grief and loss. They were all used by their parents to further the family's ambition and power. None were truly valued for themselves. 

At any rate, I found the story tragically beautiful. The love stories of the two remaining Grey sisters, of Lady Mary and Lady Katherine, was emotionally moving. I felt their pain and the denial of true love by the crown. They had to marry in secret and hope to be forgiven, but Elizabeth was not a forgiving queen, at least from the perspective of the "sisters of royal blood". She always saw them as a threat and kept them imprisoned or in her service. I loved how Lady Mary Grey pitied Queen Elizabeth whose fear put her in a prison of her own making. Good story and worth the read for the take-away value alone. It made me think about the meaning of true love and commitment to family. I am glad I picked up a copy. 

Three Maids for a Crown was published by Broadway Books and released in 2011.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Radio Interview 2/21 at 7PM Eastern Standard Time

Check out my latest radio interview.
This one is for the Write Stuff radio program.
We'll be talking about some of my edgier books.
Here is a link!

I am also offering a promo on Amazon kindle!
Never Without Hope is free 2/21 and 2/22 only!

It's one of my best-selling books and once people read the first book they tend to read all four in the series. So go ahead and give it a try. If you don't like it then delete it - hey, at least it was free. But if you're like most reviewers, you will love it!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Playing at recording something myself

I listened to a sample on Audible and then read somewhere that you can do it yourself. So this is my novice attempt at reading and recording the opening scene of one of my books. It's not the entire scene, just part of one. I thought it was okay. What do you think?

Homemade records of me reading like Audible

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