Friday, August 18, 2017

Steal Away Home by Matt Carter, Aaron Ivey

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Steal Away Home
by Matt Carter,
Aaron Ivey


ISBN-13: 9781433690655
Paperback: 152 pages
Publisher: B&H Books
Released: Aug. 1, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Thomas Johnson and Charles Spurgeon lived worlds apart. Johnson, an American slave, born into captivity and longing for freedom--- Spurgeon, an Englishman born into relative ease and comfort, but, longing too for a freedom of his own. Their respective journeys led to an unlikely meeting and an even more unlikely friendship, forged by fate and mutual love for the mission of Christ. Steal Away Home is a story set in the 1800s about an African-American missionary and one of the greatest preachers to ever live.


My Review:
Steal Away Home is a Christian historical novel set in 1841 to 1892 in England and America. It's a novel, not a biography or history book. According to the authors, they often used quotations from Spurgeon's or Johnson's own writing and most of the persons, places, and dates were based on real events.

I think I'd have preferred a nonfiction account so I'd know what Spurgeon actually thought versus what parts were the authors' take on the situation. This story just left me with questions. For example, Spurgeon's grandfather was portrayed as good preacher whom Spurgeon frequently heard preach. Yet their young Spurgeon thought of God as angry, condemning, and disgusted with him until a guest preach explained how much Jesus loved him. At the end of his life, they have Spurgeon preach that God's "service is life...peace...joy" yet we're repeatedly told that throughout his life he felt lost, more dead than alive, was crippled with depression and sorrow, and wished he was dead. I can understand why he struggled with depression, but it just came across like he preached a hope that he didn't feel in his own life.

Anyway, the story followed Charles Spurgeon and Thomas Johnson from their youth until Spurgeon's death, showing the defining incidents in their lives. The story took a few chapters before it started moving smoothly forward (as the beginning was description-heavy and jumped around in time). At that point, it was interesting and moved along pretty quickly, but it was still narration-heavy. This book made me want to read a real biography of these two men.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Soldier Who Killed a King by David Kitz

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The Soldier Who Killed a King
by David Kitz


ISBN-13: 9780825444852
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications
Released: July 25, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Watch the triumphal entry of the donkey-riding king through the eyes of Marcus Longinus, a centurion charged with keeping the streets from erupting into open rebellion. If you've heard the story of Passion Week so often it's become stale, now is the time to rediscover the terrible events leading from Jesus's humble ride into the city to his crucifixion.


My Review:
The Soldier Who Killed a King is biblical fiction set during Jesus' triumphal entry to resurrection. Our point of view character is Marcus Longinus, a centurion in charge of a gate near the Temple but who ended up present at every significant event. He struggled with profound guilt over his part in Jesus' scourging and crucifixion.

The characters used modern phrases like "wow" and "yeah," and the main characters had modern sensibilities about the value of human life. The Romans clearly saw who Jesus was while the Jews didn't. All of the religious leaders were called Pharisees, and every report we got about them painted them all as horrible, cruel hypocrites. The chain of command seemed meaningless as Pilate's soldiers were ordered about by anyone of superior rank. A visiting ruler (Herod) threatened to kill Pilate's centurion if the centurion didn't follow his orders, and the priests held four of Pilate's soldiers captive for a while without Pilate taking any action.

While the author generally stayed true to the gospel accounts of Jesus' Passion Week, he did change some things. He didn't have Jesus preaching every day in the temple. He had Herod order one of his soldiers to put the crown of thorns on Jesus when it was Pilate's soldiers who later did this. Herod and Pilate became friends before Jesus' trial. So Herod was sleeping at Pilate's place (unclean!) when Jesus was brought to trial, and Herod ended up judging Jesus in a bedroom while practically naked (not to mention demon-possessed). Jesus even paid a bodily visit to a boy during the period when he's dead and in the tomb.

The author provided great detail about the soldier's armor, the scourging, and the crucifixion. The scourging and crucifixion were described in such gory, drawn-out detail that I ended up skipping over it. There was a minor amount of British bad language. There were no graphic sex scenes. Overall, it was a decent story, but I'd expected a higher level of accuracy based on the subtitle.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Hunting Hour by Margaret Mizushima

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Hunting Hour
by Margaret Mizushima


ISBN-13: 9781683312772
Hardback: 320 pages
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Released: Aug. 8, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Deputy Mattie Cobb is working through issues from her past and has withdrawn from Cole Walker and his family to focus on herself, when she and her K-9 partner Robo get called to track a missing junior high student. They find the girl on Smoker's Hill behind the high school, dead. But that's only the start of trouble in Timber Creek, because soon another girl goes missing--and this time it's Sophie Walker.


My Review:
Hunting Hour is a K9-detective mystery. It's the third in a series. You can follow this book without reading the previous ones, and this book didn't spoil the previous mysteries.

Robo is a talented, well-trained working dog, and it's fun to see him "on the job" with Mattie. The main characters were likable and had depth and complexity. Events have had a realistic impact on them, and they dealt with personal struggles at the same time they're dealing with crime. Events hit a little close to home for Mattie, and she struggled to stay objective during the investigation.

The crime was a clue-based, puzzle mystery. I guessed whodunit based on those clues, yet it wasn't obvious. There was also the suspense of finding the kidnapped girl before something bad happened to her, as bad things have happened to reoccurring characters in these books.

There were no sex scenes. The was occasional use of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting and exciting mystery.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Wedded for the Baby by Dorothy Clark

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Wedded for the Baby
by Dorothy Clark


ISBN-13: 9780373425341
Mass Market Paperback:
288 pages
Publisher: Love Inspired Historicals
Released: Aug. 8, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from NetGalley:
For widower and ex-doctor Trace Warren, a fresh start in Whisper Creek comes with a catch: to save his home and apothecary shop, Trace must remarry. While making Katherine Fleming his wife is simple enough, he refuses to fall in love again. But keeping his distance from the kind, beautiful woman and the infant she brings with her is dangerously difficult…

Katherine promised to protect the baby left in her care, and a marriage of convenience to Trace is the only way to do that. But all too soon, Trace possesses Katherine's heart, even as he still carefully guards his own. With hopes of turning their arrangement into a true love match, can Katherine convince Trace to forgive himself for his past mistakes and embrace his new family?


My Review:
Wedded for the Baby is a Christian romance set in 1868 in the Wyoming Territory. This is the second book in the series. You don't need to read the first book to understand this one. However, the couple in the first book were also major characters in this one, so you may wish to read the books in order.

Katherine helps a fatality ill woman while on a train trip to visit her sister and ends up responsible for an orphaned, unwanted baby. Trace is named the guardian of the child, but he needs to marry or he'll lose his livelihood--the only way to support the child. Katherine agrees to an "in name only" marriage and to care for the child until Trace can find an alternative. Trace treats her with kindness but tries to minimize his time with her as he still mourns his dead wife and child.

Katherine has no idea how to care for a baby, though, so Trace has to show her. They keep getting thrown together and discover they share interests and admire each other. The main characters were nice people, and I understood the reasons behind their actions. They both heal from past hurts. The historical details about everyday things, what was happening in the territory, and even some of the medical debates of the time were woven into the story. I suspect the author got her hands on a catalog of baby furniture from that time, as Trace ordered a lot for his house.

There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this sweet romance.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Chasing Secrets by Lynette Eason

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Chasing Secrets
by Lynette Eason


ISBN-13: 9780800723910
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: Aug. 1, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from NetGalley:
Elite Guardians bodyguard Haley Callaghan may be in South Carolina, but when a photo leads investigators in West Ireland to open a twenty-five-year-old cold case, her life is suddenly in danger. Haley knows how to take care of herself; after all, she's made a career out of taking care of others. But after an uncomfortably close call, Detective Steven Rothwell takes it upon himself to stay with her--and the young client she has taken under her wing. A protector at heart, he's not about to let Haley fight this battle alone.

In a sweeping plot that takes them into long-buried memories--and the depths of the heart--Haley and Steven will have to solve the mystery of Haley's past while dodging bullets, bombs, and bad guys who just won't quit.


My Review:
Chasing Secrets is a Christian romantic suspense novel. This is the fourth book in a series. You don't need to read the previous books to understand this one, and this story didn't spoil the previous novels. It didn't pay to stand too close to Haley as her enemies didn't care who got hurt in their attempts to kill her. The suspense was created by the repeated attempts to kill Haley, the uncertainty about who's trying to kill her, and some medical emergencies.

I liked the main characters as they where kind, thoughtful people who cared for others in addition to being good at their jobs. I enjoyed how Steven supported Haley and showed his friendship and caring (and all before they kissed! So many authors have people kissing before they even know each other). I found the ending a bit...extravagant and containing some unnecessary complications, but I suppose "bigger is better" in suspense. And it was exciting.

The Christian theme was about forgiving those who have hurt or wronged you. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this exciting story.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

As A Shield by Danny and Wanda Pelfrey

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As A Shield
by Danny Pelfrey,
Wanda Pelfrey


ISBN-13: 9781633570917
Paperback: 216 pages
Publisher: CrossLink Publishing
Released: March 24, 2017

Source: A free review copy from the publisher through BookCrash.

Book Description from BookCrash:
Davis Morgan, having left the ministry after the death of his wife, Julie, returns to his hometown where he operates a used and rare bookstore while being appointed chaplain of the small police department. He and Charley, a young policeman, after discovering the body of a tattooed man find themselves in a serious battle to bring to justice two strange villains who are threatening the safety of Davis’s daughter and future son-in-law. While all this is going on, Davis is struggling with trying to interpret his relationship with a young history teacher who happens to be his daughter’s roommate.


My Review:
As A Shield is a Christian suspense novel. It's the second novel in a series. While you can read this as a stand-alone, I'd recommend reading them in order. Some things seemed long (a wedding) or fast (a relationship) since I hadn't "seen" the whole story of their relationship.

Unfortunately, everyone in this story had silted, unnatural dialogue, and some of the details about what roads people took would only interest someone who lives in Adairsville. However, the characters were interesting, and we got to know a little about the main characters.

The bad guys repeatedly tried to harm people that Davis cares about. However, the Christian theme was that God acts as a shield to protect his children, so the criminals came across as bumbling fools. We knew who the goons were, but there were only clues about who hired them. Davis and Charley uncovered what's going on by asking questions and following up on clues. While you can guess who from the clues, most of the clues given by Davis at the end weren't shown to the reader when they happened. When Davis and the Bay Guy fight at the end, the author withheld the name until the fight was done. I'd concluded it was someone he didn't know, but he did. Kinda frustrating when you can't trust your POV characters.

The main characters often thought upon their favorite verses (which are written out for the reader), and we also literally get a short sermon. There was no sex or bad language.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Monday, July 31, 2017

The Captivating Lady Charlotte by Carolyn Miller

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The Captivating Lady Charlotte
by Carolyn Miller


ISBN-13: 9780825444517
Paperback: 310 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications
Released: June 27, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Lady Charlotte Featherington is destined for great things on the marriage market. After all, as the beautiful daughter of a marquess, she should have her pick of the eligible nobility when she debuts. She, however, has love at the top of her list of marriageable attributes. And her romantic heart falls hard for one particularly dashing, attentive suitor. Sadly for Charlotte, her noble father intends her betrothed to be someone far more dull.

William Hartwell may be a duke, but he knows he was Charlotte's father's pick, not the young lady's own choice. While she has captured his heart, he has no idea how to win hers in return--and the betrayal and scandal his first wife put him through makes it difficult for him to believe that love can ever be trusted.

Can a widowed duke and a romantically inclined lady negotiate a future and discover love beyond duty? Will they be able to find healing and hope from the legacy of grace? Poignant and charming, this is another beautifully written, clean and wholesome Regency romance from Carolyn Miller.


My Review:
The Captivating Lady Charlotte is a Christian romance set in 1814 in England. It's the second book in the series, but you can understand this book without reading the previous one.

When Marianne Dashwood is flattered by the attentions of Mr. Willoughby...oh, wait, different book. Charlotte, a romantic, is drawn to several charming, handsome young men (who are in need of her fortune). Her family wants her to marry a Duke, but he's older than Charlotte and so serious and boring. And those shocking rumors about his wife who recently died!

William is attracted to Charlotte's youth, beauty, and liveliness, but it's clear that she doesn't love him. He doesn't trust that she won't have an affair on him like his late wife. Her family is pushing them together, and Charlotte is grudgingly willing to give him a chance, but near-fatal accidents keep occurring around the Duke and make the courtship dangerous. The characters were likable, and they were better people for having met each other.

The author clearly put a lot of research into the clothing and protocol for certain events. The author apparently thought that a major duty of doctors at this time was attending to child births. While wealthy women might be attended by a surgeon, it's extremely strange that no midwives are mentioned at all. Midwives were used for most births, partly because female modesty precluded a male being involved and partly because surgeons had a reputation for killing or maiming the mother, child, or both (according to "A History of Medicine" by Lois N. Magner, pages 273-274).

There's a touching scene were a woman teaches Charlotte (by example) about praising God even in the midst of sorrow. There was no bad language or sex. Overall, I'd highly recommend this enjoyable story.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.