Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Oath of Honor by Lynette Eason - REVIEWED

About the Book:
A murdered partner. A missing brother. Will Isabelle's silence protect those she loves . . . or delay justice?

Police officer Isabelle St. John loves her crazy, loud, law-enforcement family. She knows they'll be there for her when things get tough. Like when her partner is murdered and she barely escapes with her own life.

Izzy is determined to discover exactly what happened, and her investigation sends her headfirst into a criminal organization, possibly with cops on the payroll--including someone from her own family. With her dead partner's brother Ryan, a handsome homicide detective, shadowing her every move, Izzy's head is spinning. How can she secure justice for her partner when doing so could mean sending someone she loves to prison? And how will she guard her heart when the man she's had a secret crush on for years won't leave her side?

My Thoughts:

Eason never fails to deliver a book with a breakneck pace, and her Blue Justice installment Oath of Honor is no exception!  Eason is really effective at reminding her readers to appreciate and honor the law enforcement officers - at all levels - for their selfless sacrifice that they willingly make each day to provide public safety.  I have a couple of nephews and cousins who are law enforcement in their towns, so I can relate to Eason's respect for those upholding justice in a personal way.

I have to hope that families who have multiple members who serve never have to face the loss that the pages of this book contain.  While I know it is realistic, my heart felt a bit brutalized at the many hits taken by the Marshall family in this story.  Ryan's parents, while very minor characters, broke my heart!  But Ryan and Izzy put their own loss aside and did some stellar work to catch the bad guys!  And I know from the stories my nephew shares that the gang violence written about is a very real and present danger in many cities, regardless of size.

I dare say that the courage and non-stop pursuit of justice for a fallen officer isn't overstated either.  There were many moments that I didn't know how Izzy was going to survive her many close calls, but, well....she didn't come through unscathed.  It is a wild ride from first to last pages, and readers will be anxious to see the next book in the series, Called to Protect, hits the shelves this Summer!

About the Author:
Lynette Eason is the bestselling author of the Women of Justice series, the Deadly Reunions series, and the Hidden Identity series, as well as Always WatchingWithout WarningMoving Target, and Chasing Secrets in the Elite Guardians series. She is the winner of two ACFW Carol Awards, the Selah Award, and the Inspirational Readers' Choice Award. She has a master's degree in education from Converse College and lives in South Carolina. Learn more at www.lynetteeason.com.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse - REVIEWED

About the Book:
Isaac believed in luck. But from Pete's point of view, Isaac's luck had all run out.

When Pete McLean loses his father in the summer of 1962, his friend Isaac is one of the few people he can lean on. Though their worlds are as different as black and white, friendship knows no color. So when Isaac suddenly goes missing, Pete is determined to find out what happened--no matter what it costs him. His quest will lead him into parts of town that he knows only through rumors and introduce him to a girl who will change his life. What they discover together will change the small Southern town of Glory, Alabama--forever.

With vivid descriptions, palpable atmosphere, and unforgettable characters, debut novelist Valerie Fraser Luesse breathes life into the rural South of the 1960s--a place where ordinary people struggle to find their footing in a social landscape that is shifting beneath their feet.

My Thoughts:

Both of them were finally free.”  (p. 337)

Freedom…it is something that the characters in Valerie Fraser Luesse’s debut novel, Missing Isaac, long for.  For most of them, this longing remains unidentified, but the reader’s heart will recognize and resound with this longing throughout the book.  By the time you savor these last words your heart will be running over…and making tracks down your cheeks! 

Books that bring tears to my eyes remain dear to my heart, and they become friends that I come back to visit over and over again. Luesse has created characters that resound with Alabama native substance!  She has NAILED the culture here, including the dark underbelly of small town politics and shady legal practices.  She doesn’t shy away from the heartbreaking reality of stereotyping  that takes place across racial and socioeconomic boundaries.  Sadly, these remain strongholds in the lives of many people inhabiting rural Southern towns.

But I digress…this novel!  Pete and Dovey…the loss they’ve endured but the victory they find in loving each other well just blows me away!  And Lila and John…what a beautiful picture of mercy and grace and how tenderly they merge and bring new life out of the broken places….sigh!!  And Aunt Babe, Hattie, and Mama Paul and the Pritchett clan…I recognize these people!  Oh and let’s not forget Celeste and Sheriff Harley…those two!!  I shudder to remember their presence!  Geneva has their number though!!! I’m telling you now, these characters come to vivid life in your heart and you will laugh and weep and rejoice with them throughout the novel!

Please, Ms. Luesse, share more of your stories!! I eagerly wait for them!! I pray there are many to follow this one!  BRAVO!!!  (oh, and WAR EAGLE!)

About the Author:
Valerie Fraser Luesse is an award-winning magazine writer best known for her feature stories and essays in Southern Living, where she is currently a senior travel editor. Her work has been anthologized in the audio collection Southern Voices and in A Glimpse of Heaven, an essay collection featuring works by C. S. Lewis, Randy Alcorn, John Wesley, and others. As a freelance writer and editor, she was the lead writer for Southern Living 50 Years: A Celebration of People, Places, and Culture. Specializing in stories about unique pockets of Southern culture, Luesse has published major pieces on the Gulf Coast, the Mississippi Delta, Louisiana's Acadian Prairie, and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Her editorial section on Hurricane Katrina recovery in Mississippi and Louisiana won the 2009 Writer of the Year award from the Southeast Tourism Society. Luesse earned her bachelor's degree in English at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama, and her master's degree in English at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. She grew up in Harpersville, Alabama, a rural community in Shelby County, and now lives in Birmingham.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A Song of Home by Susie Finkbeiner - REVEIEWED

About the Book:
Pearl Spence has finally settled into a routine in Bliss, Michigan, far from her home in Red River, Oklahoma. Like all the other kids, she goes to school each day, plays in the woods, and does her chores. But there's one big difference: Mama is still gone, and doesn't seem to have a thought for the family she's left behind.

Escaping from her worries is another part of Pearl's new routine, whether that's running to Aunt Carrie's farm, listening to the radio with Ray, or losing herself in a book. In fact, a chair in the stacks, surrounded by books, might be her favorite place on earth--until she discovers swing dancing. The music transports Pearl to a whole other world.

When Mama unexpectedly returns, it isn't the happy occasion Pearl had imagined. Mama is distant and Pearl can't figure out how to please her. And the horrible way she treats Daddy is more than Pearl can bear. Seems life would be better if Mama would just stay away.

Finkbeiner's portrayal of both tragedy and everyday life in times of great change is charged with a raw beauty that will haunt readers. Fans of the two prior Pearl Spence novels won't be disappointed!

My Thoughts:
Somehow, she’d remember the way home.”  (p.163)

This thought passed through Pearl Spence’s mind long before her heart got on board with the reality of her longing.  Song of Home is the third book by Susie Finkbeiner and continues the revelation of life for the Spence family.  Told from the perspective of the now 11-year-old Pearl Spence, the reader is able to experience the innocent exposure of life’s often brutal realities through her eyes.  Finkbeiner writes with poignant prose, and readers will shed their share of tears as they take this journey through the Swing Era.

The author doesn’t spare her characters.  Rather, as a collective whole, they must deal with racism (Pearl’s dad is law enforcement in Bliss, Michigan), abandonment (both Pearl and her dear friend Ray must deal with absentee parents), and a host of other issues that surround the return of Pearl’s mother.  This is an emotional roller coaster, because the reader is able to experience every emotional gut punch in the character’s lives.  No book in this series has been without some very harsh realities, but this was an especially poignant book as it explores the longing for home in each of our lives, and the ache that ensues when there is no direct way back to what your heart perceives to be home.

It's hard to talk about this book without giving away spoiler moments, so I’ll just say that this book is a very clear reminder of what unconditional love can look like when we are trying to be obedient to Christ. I love the way that Pearl remembered her Meemaw’s wisdom throughout the story.  I am often thankful for the people God has placed in my life who faithfully spoke God’s truth into every situation.  I pray that I can be that voice to future generations!

This is a book of family, and community of commitment and integrity.  It is a novel that declares grace and mercy over the lives of every character and challenges readers to do the same.  I pray I am allowed a window into Pearl Spence’s life for years to come!  What a powerful series this is!!  Powerful!!

About the Author:
Susie Finkbeiner is a stay-at-home mom, speaker, and author from West Michigan. Her previous books include Paint Chips (2013) and My Mother's Chamomile (2014). She has served as fiction editor and regular contributor to the Burnside Writers Guild and Unbound magazine. Finkbeiner is an avid blogger (see www.susiefinkbeiner.com), is on the planning committee of the Breathe Christian Writers Conference, and has presented or led groups of other writers at several conferences.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Praying the Scriptures for Your Adult Children by Jodie Berndt

About the Book:
As parents of adult children, we often wonder: Will my children make good choices when they’re on their own? How can I let them go when I’ve held them for so long?

Parent and author Jodie Berndt understands what it’s like to release children into the world and still care deeply about them and everything they will face in life from relationships to career decisions and everything in between. In Praying the Scriptures for Your Adult Children, Jodie continues her Praying the Scriptures series with biblical prayers for your adult children, whether they are just leaving the nest, flying well on their own, or struggling to take off at all.

Each section focuses on a different aspect of adulthood, with encouraging stories from experienced parents who are praying their children through rocky marriages, health concerns, financial challenges and other real-life issues. At the end of each chapter, you’ll find personalized prayers for your children taken straight from Scripture. Each chapter also includes verses for you to pray for yourself as you take the challenging step of trusting God to care for your children in ways that you can’t.

With grace and wisdom, Jodie addresses cultural trends such as couples living together before marriage and young adults leaving the church, as well as the painful realities of loneliness, addiction, and mental health issues. With hope-filled words for the parents of the prodigal, she is particularly sensitive to the long-term prayers we offer, even as we doubt ourselves and grieve over our children’s choices.

Whatever you are praying for, you will find confidence and peace in these powerful prayers for your kids. Praying the Scriptures for Your Adult Children guides you to the bedrock of God’s promises as you release your children to God’s shepherding care.

My Thoughts:

Our adult children have different needs, but all of them can use the prayer of blessing.” (p. 27)

Jodie Berndt has ministered to me in profound ways as I read through her book, Praying the Scriptures for Your Adult Children. She had been faithful to share what God has taught her in her own parenting journey, as well as sharing the painful struggles that appear as our children grow up and leave our homes.  This book was very much a gentle hug from God, because it came to me during the beginning of my own empty nest season. 

There are many, many things that I love about this book, but chief among those is the honesty and transparency with which it is written.  Berndt tells readers from the first pages that God uses the lives of our children to draw us closer to Him, teaching us to trust Him, and only Him, with the lives of our children.  EVERYTHING regarding the lives of our adult children belongs to God.  As much as we love our children, their choices are their own as are the consequences of those choices.  That’s a very hard truth. That is why God gave us His word.  HIS words are LIFE and TRUTH, and His words are the only constant, unchanging foundation upon which we can walk the road of parenting throughout our lifetime.

Berndt divides the book into specific needs, and she encourages readers to go directly to that specific need.  She also encourages readers to read the entire book.  I will add a hearty AMEN to that, because even if you aren’t fighting that particular battle, I bet you know someone who is fighting, and you can come alongside them and strengthen them in the fight before them.  This is a book that will quickly be worn and dog-eared with use.  I’m already on my second time through!  What a gift this is for me!!

This book is a rich resource!  Dive it!  Share it!  Ask God to use it to strengthen your daily walk!  Thank you Jodie Berndt for this amazing resource!

About the Author:
Jodie Berndt is the author or co-author of nine books, including the popular Praying the Scriptures series, Generous Living, and a funny and touching memoir called The Undertaker's Wife. A speaker and Bible teacher, Jodie encourages people to pursue joy, celebrate grace, and live on purpose. Jodie and her husband, Robert, have four grown children and two sons-in-law. They live in Virginia Beach but can often be found up the road in Charlottesville, Virginia, cheering for their beloved U.Va. Cavaliers. Find Jodie writing at JodieBerndt.com, or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Deadly Proof by Rachel Dylan - REVIEWED

About the Book:
Standing For What's Right Could Cost Her Everything

Tapped as lead counsel in a corporate cover-up lawsuit against Mason Pharmaceutical, Kate Sullivan knows this case could make her career. What really drives her, though, is getting justice for the victims whose lives were ruined by the company's dangerous new drug. But when a whistleblower turns up dead, it paints a target on the back of everyone involved.

Former Army Ranger turned private investigator Landon James steps in to handle security for Kate. He's still haunted by mistakes in his past and is determined never to let something like that happen again. But it soon appears someone is willing to do anything--even commit murder--to keep the case from going to trial.

As danger closes in, Landon can't help but admire Kate's courage and resolve--but will her determination not to back down become too great of a risk?

Purchase your copy HERE!

My Thoughts:

She wondered if she’d ever be save as long as MPC had a target on her back – a garget that had just gotten bigger.”  (p. 249)

Kate Sullivan is in for the largest legal battle of her career – and her life – when she take on Mason Pharmaceutical in a wrongful death lawsuit.  If you’ve ever been one to question the motives behind all of the medication being prescribed these days, this book is going to add fuel to than mental fire.  Honestly, it left me a bit shaken.  You see, I’ve recently had a doctor prescribe something to me and then refer me to another doctor to treat the side effects of the prescription!  I wish I was kidding!

Kate Sullivan takes her legal career seriously, and she seeks justice about everything.  When her case against MPC shows begins to go in a dangerous direction, she is forced to turn to a private investigator – Landon James – for added security.  The relationship that blossoms between these two characters is both challenging and transformational to both Kate and Landon.  I enjoyed the way Dylan developed their relationship.  It was believable and transparent in every way.

This story is filled with very believable twists and turns, and readers will be held captive throughout the story!  I will warn you again, don’t let this make you paranoid.  Rather, allow this story – even in all of its fictional excellence – to be a tool that draws you to awareness.  Big Pharmacy is, unfortunately, a real danger that we live with in this current day.  Perhaps it isn’t as deadly as it proves to be in Kate Sullivan’s life, but awareness is always a good thing!

Happy reading!

Purchase your copy HERE!

About the Author:

Rachel Dylan was a litigator in one of the nation's most elite law firms for over eight years and now works as an attorney at one of the Big Three automobile manufacturers. She is the author of four Love Inspired Suspense novels and lives in Michigan with her husband. She is active on social media, and you can visit her website at www.racheldylan.com.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Happy New Year Readers!

I spent the holidays providing care for my parents, being there for my siblings and learning a great deal about self care during high stress situations!  I can say, with complete confidence that God alone provides the grace and strength we need for any and every situation we face!

There was no time for reading, so I will begin blogging book reviews, both fiction and non-fiction next week!  Thank you for your patience!  I'm excited to begin the New Year with you!!