Hurricane Season by Lauren K Denton – A Simple Treasure

One of my favorite things is finding new authors whose books I love.  I found a wonderful book and author when I read Hurricane Season by Lauren K Denton.  Wow…loved this book!

The storyline is what first caught my eye.  A couple, Betsy and Ty, own a dairy farm in Alabama and they are always busy with the day to day operations of the farm.  In recent years they’ve struggled with infertility and it’s taken it’s toll on Betsy and Ty’s relationship.  Entering into the equation is Jenna when she suddenly springs a surprise on her sister, watching her two young children, while she heads off to Florida to work on photography as part of a mentorship program.  It’s something she’s longed to get back into for years.  The threat of a hurricane may not be the only storm brewing on the horizon.

Hurricane Season was simple, yet deep.  It was beautiful but dealt with the difficult and hard things of life.  It showed the beautiful and extraordinary things about ordinary lives.  I loved the characters, their relationships and looking back at what’s shaped them.  I loved the beauty of the farm and the retreat in Florida, captured so beautifully by the author.  The characters were decent good people who I would want to know.  There were some profound thoughts and observations shared throughout the book that made me think about my own life.

I loved reading Hurricane Season by Lauren K Denton and I look forward to reading her future books.  I want to go back and read her first book, The Hideaway.  I would describe Lauren as a safe writer.  What I mean by that is that she takes the time to develop a story and lets the readers get to know the characters.  She doesn’t manipulate the storyline and characters don’t make stupid thoughtless decisions, just to advance the story or grab the reader’s attention.  Lauren knows how to make the ordinary both interesting and beautiful.

It’s with pleasure I highly recommend Hurricane Season by Lauren K Denton.  I would like to thank Thomas Nelson Publishers and BookLook for the opportunity to read Hurricane Season in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

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The Candidate by Lis Wiehl – A Mixed Bag

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Since I like books with mystery and intrigue, I decided to read author Lis Wiehl’s new book The Candidate – A Newsmakers Novel written with Sebastian Stuart. I’ve watched Lis on Fox News and like her keen legal analysis and hoped that would translate into a good book. Unfortunately, I found The Candidate to be a mixed bag.

What’s good? I found the plotline intriguing. Is top Presidential candidate, Mike Ortiz, as good as he seems at first glance? Or will Erica discover there is something nefarious going on behind the scenes when she takes a closer look? Coming on the heels of a very contentious election cycle this should be a very interesting book.

The story is action packed and the main character, Erica Sparks, is somewhat interesting. Her background is revealed during the course of the story but there was not a lot of depth to this character. I liked her fiancé Greg, while not perfect, he showed himself to be there for Erica in the end. But overall I found the characters were not well developed. What the reader learns about the characters is very surface level details, some action of course, but there seemed to be an obsession with physical appearance. In fact, it was almost to the point of distraction.

What’s not so good? The story was predictable. After the first big event in the book, I found myself guessing what the next plot development would be throughout the book.

While somewhat veiled, there were some rather sick sexual relationships in this book that cross the line in a book released by a Christian publisher. While not described in detail, enough is said that makes it clear what’s happening. Also, Lis took a swipe at Donald Trump by including a nasty comment from one of the characters about him. It was unnecessary to the story and not value added. My overall impression was Lis tried to be edgy.

If this book had been published by a secular publisher, I would only put a cautionary note about some of the content which may be offensive to people of faith.

I have higher expectations from Thomas Nelson Publishers. On their website, this publisher is self-described as, “Thomas Nelson is a world leading publisher and provider of Christian content and has been providing readers with quality inspirational product for more than 200 years.”

There was nothing whatsoever Christian about this book. There was nothing about faith. There was one curse word as I recall and I appreciate that there was very little profanity. But some of the content of this book was not fit material from a Christian publisher.

I would like to thank BookLook for the opportunity to read The Candidate by Lis Wiehl. I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

The Witnesses by Robert Whitlow – A Gifted Storyteller

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I’ve read some of Robert Whitlow’s previous books and was thrilled at the opportunity to read his newest release, The Witnesses. While reading this book, I was reminded why Robert Whitlow is one of my favorite authors. This man is a gifted storyteller and he knows how to weave a story together with intrigue, mystery and characters you want to get to know better.

The Witnesses tells the story of two generations of the House family. Frank is from Germany, a former Nazi and grandfather to Parker who is an attorney in a small town in North Carolina. Both men have a unique gift that they can use for good or evil. How will Frank reconcile his past participation in unimaginable horrors? Will he ever find rest and peace for his soul? Parker’s career is just beginning, he’s the new man on the totem and working long hours. How long will he have to wait to sink his teeth into some weighty cases and prove himself as an attorney?

As the storyline develops, Robert slowly unveils the characters, layer by layer. He has keen, thought provoking and honest insights into people and their circumstances. His characters are very relatable. I especially liked the relationships: between Frank and Parker and their love and respect for one another, the friendship between Frank and his longtime friend Lenny and the instantaneous bond between Layla and Frank. As a Christian, I appreciate how Robert weaves the Christian faith into his character’s lives. He did a great job in presenting the Gospel message and showing the Christian faith lived out in everyday life. I would never have guessed that I would like a story that involves a former Nazi, much less like the character; but I did.

This book is well written, with interesting characters that will draw you in. I found myself thinking about the characters when I wasn’t reading, they kind of come alive. One thing I love about a book is when a character perfectly expresses what you’ve been feeling, but didn’t quite know how to put into words.

I highly recommend The Witnesses by Robert Whitlow, a tale of two men who have a unique gift of seeing what will happen in the future. One man is looking back on a life with some very ugly sins he can’t seem to get away from and the other just starting his career. Will he put his career over and above love? To find out what happens in the lives of these men you will want to read The Witnesses by Robert Whitlow.

I would like to thank BookLook and Thomas Nelson Publishers for providing me a free copy The Witnesses by Robert Whitlow. I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

Sister Eve and the Blue Nun by Lynne Hinton – Steer Clear, Don’t Waste Your Time or Money

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I hardly know where to begin my review about Sister Eve and the Blue Nun by author Lynne Hinton.  An alternate title for this book might be Sister Eve the Lying Nun.

This is the second book I’ve ready by Lynne Hinton.  I like mystery and suspense novels, especially by Christian authors that weave their Christian faith into the storyline and characters.  This book does not even come close to that.

My objections?  The first thing that caught my attention was that the main character Sister Eve lied; repeatedly lied throughout the story.  Purposeful and intentionally lying by a nun seemed rather incongruent with a character who is supposed to be a person of faith.  The character doesn’t express any grief or sorrow over her sin.  She doesn’t seem to acknowledge or be aware that lying is bad or that it’s a sin that Christ died for.  Not only does this character lie, she steals, compromises a crime scene and hopes that Father Oliver, the head of the monastery, will remain silent about her senseless and wrong actions.  Secondly, throughout this book Eve makes the stupidest decisions and she lacks common sense.  She needlessly puts herself in danger and refuses to accept help or seek help when she needs it.

For brevity’s sake I’ll wrap up my objections.  Eve, for no explained reason seems to have a serious mistrust of police.  She is prideful and arrogant in thinking she is the be all and end all in solving crimes.  So much so that she not only compromises the crime scene but she steals a key piece of evidence.  What didn’t make a lick of sense is that once she established that someone had been murdered she didn’t have a sense of urgency on calling the police or concern that there may be a murderer lurking about and she may not be safe.  That’s just the beginning for Eve’s stupid decisions.  This book was painful to read.  More than anything Eve was irritating and not someone I want to read about.

Obviously, when I read a book about a nun I know that there may be things from the Catholic faith brought up.  I found the differences between Protestant Christianity and Catholic faith disconcerting.  For example, when Eve was praying to the saints, but not to God.

It seemed as if the author was agenda driven about women and the church.  In this story Eve expresses thoughts that women are oppressed by the church.  Late in the story, another character concurs with her feelings.

There was nothing much of Christian faith shared in this book.  There was a scene that seemed reminiscent of new age philosophy when Eve is injured.  It doesn’t square with Biblical Christianity.

Was there anything likable in this book?  I did like Eve’s dad Captain Jack.  He seemed to care about his daughter and had some common sense.

All in all, I thought this book was bad, really bad.  Theologically, it’s out to lunch.  The main character does things that don’t make any sense.  I was sorely disappointed by this book.

Unfortunately, I can’t recommend this book.  Steer clear, don’t waste your time or money on Sister Eve and the Blue Nun by Lynne Hinton.

I would like to thank BookLook and Thomas Nelson Publishers for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

Parables by John MacArthur – An Excellent Read and Resource

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Pastor John MacArthur’s latest book is Parables – The Mysteries of God’s Kingdom Revealed Through The Stories Jesus Told. I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to read this book because of the solid Bible teaching it contains.

Before diving into the parables, Pastor MacArthur explains, from Matthew 13, why Jesus started teaching in parables.  He had specific truths He was trying to convey to those who had the ears to hear. It wasn’t to make it easy for the common people to understand what He was teaching. Instead, the symbolism used in the parables was to hide the truth from those who had no desire to know what Christ was saying.

Pastor MacArthur brings clarity and helps the reader understand the truths contained in these stories. Unlike allegories, not everything in a parable has significance, but there is a profound truth to be understood. In this book a parable is defined as, “an ingenious simple word picture illuminating a profound spiritual lesson.”

This book covers select parables in ten chapters, including the parables of the soils/seed, the good Samaritan, and the rich man and Lazarus. Some of the parables are only a sentence or two long, but there’s a meaning that Christ wanted His followers to understand.

In this day and age, it is important for Christians to be wise and discerning and know when a pastor or teacher is accurately teaching God’s Word. This book will help you to be equipped as you study God’s Word for yourself. One of the benefits to the reader is that you will be able to take what you’ve learned and apply it as you study the Bible and read Jesus’ parables and teachings for yourself.

I greatly appreciate Pastor John MacArthur’s high view of God and Scripture. He is thorough in his study and exposition of the Bible. He is insightful and courageous as he speaks the truth about what’s happening in our culture and in today’s churches.

I highly recommend Parables by Pastor John MacArthur. This book is a great resource for anyone who loves to read and study God’s Word and for those who are new to studying the Bible. Whether you are a new Christian or mature, you’ll want to read this book.

I would like to thank BookLook and Thomas Nelson Publishers for the opportunity to read Parables by John MacArthur in exchange for an honest review. I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

Seven Women And The Secret Of Their Greatness by Eric Metaxas – An Interesting and Challenging Read

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After hearing author Eric Metaxas interviewed on several radio shows talking about his latest book, Seven Women And The Secret Of Their Greatness, I wanted to read about these influential women who impacted their generation, nation and beyond.  This is the first book I’ve read by this author.

The book focuses on the lives of Joan of Arc, Susanna Wesley, Hannah More, Saint Maria of Paris, Corrie ten Boom, Rosa Parks and Mother Teresa.  Eric did a lot of research and went into great detail about their lives and the culture in which they lived and the impact they made.  Other than Corrie ten Boom, I knew precious little or nothing about their lives and how they influenced the world of their day.

Eric Metaxas is a Christian who is intelligent and well-informed.  As such, I wish he had included a brief chapter telling why he selected these women.  Based on his choice of women, I don’t believe this book is apologetic in nature.

I really enjoyed the chapters on Susanna Wesley, Hannah More, Corrie ten Boom and Rosa Parks.  I found my faith was encouraged, challenged and strengthened by these women of great faith and strong conviction who endured much.  I struggling reading about Joan of Arc and Saint Maria of Paris, two very unconventional women, I think in part, because I was distracted by their theology and wondered how Biblical Christianity would respond them.  I knew of Mother Teresa, but didn’t know much about her life until I read this book.

This book is not a quick read, nor a light read.  But if you like to learn history through biographies, you will like this book.  This book gives the reader an appreciation for what women in the past had to endure, without the freedoms we have in this country that people fought for and the modern conveniences we can easily take for granted.

I would like to thank BookLook and Thomas Nelson Publishers for the opportunity to read Seven Women by Eric Metaxas in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

A House Divided by Robert Whitlow – A Compelling and Excellent Read

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I was privileged to read Robert Whitlow’s book A House Divided.  He is an excellent writer and knows how to write good fiction.  He skillfully and realistically weaves his Christian faith in to the storyline through the lives of the characters.  But he doesn’t beat you over the head with it.  Instead you see the Christian faith lived out in the lives of imperfect, hurting and broken people.

I’ll be honest with you there were times A House Divided was hard to read.  If you know an alcoholic or have seen how destructive alcoholism is you may also find this book painful to read.  Read it anyway.  There were times I found myself angry at the main character Corbin and wanted to yell at him so he would wake up and see that he was destroying his life, relationships and was endangering others.

Robert Whitlow has the ability to draw the reader in to the story from the beginning.  I found the characters very engaging and cared about them from the first page to the last, even when they weren’t so loveable.  It was interesting and challenging to see how each character, Ray, Roxy, Cindy, Billy and others, responded to Corbin and the situations and people they were involved with.  I loved seeing grace given when it was least deserved and unexpected.  I couldn’t help but wonder how I would have responded.

A House Divided is a book with characters that will stay with me.  If Robert Whitlow writes a sequel to this one I want to read it.

There are some authors whose work I want to read, whatever they write, because they are that good.  Robert Whitlow is one of those writers.  I highly recommend A House Divided by Robert Whitlow.  You will be challenged and grow as you read it.

I would like to thank the people at BookLook and Thomas Nelson Publishers for providing me a free copy of Robert Whitlow’s book, A House Divided, to read in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.