If I Live by Terri Blackstock – You Won’t Want to Put It Down

I love reading Christian mysteries and suspense novels and Terri Blackstock is one of my favorite writers.  That’s why I jumped at the opportunity to read her newest book, If I Live, which is being released March 6, 2018.

This is the third book, in the If I Run series, which tells the story of Casey Cox who has been on the lamb since her friend Brent Pace was found brutally murdered.  She is the chief suspect because her DNA was found all over the crime scene.  Dylan Roberts, who was hired by Pace family to bring Casey to justice, now believes she is innocent.  So much so that he has been working with Casey to compile evidence that will break open this case wide open and allow the guilty to be exposed.

From the opening chapters of If I Live, the reader had better be strapped in because it takes off and doesn’t let up until the very end.  Each chapter in the storyline is told from a different character’s perspective.  It’s a different technique and almost makes you feel like you are in the character’s head and seeing things from their point of view.

I really liked If I Live, it’s full of suspense and intrigue.  It’s fast paced.  I appreciate how the Christian faith has been woven in to several characters.  Casey become a Christian during the course of this book and it’s interesting to see all that happens to her from the point of view of a new believer.  I especially liked how Casey recognized that though it was tempting to be angry and unforgiving towards those who had done evil, the Holy Spirit was showing her that a Christian doesn’t respond the same way as the world does.  I liked the developing relationship between Casey and Dylan.

As a Christian, I appreciate how author Terri Blackstock tells a good story without including sexually explicit scenes, filthy language and shows the Christian faith in the lives of characters.

After everything that Casey has been through, will it all be for naught?  Will she make it out of this alive?  Will she be free or spend the rest of her life in jail?  Just how much evil can one person get away with?  How widespread is this corruption and how many lives have been affected?  Who is clean, who is dirty and most importantly who can be trusted?

Well to find out the answers to those questions and more, you’ll need to read Terri Blackstock’s newest book, If I Live, which I highly recommend.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Zondervan Publishers for the opportunity to read If I Live in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

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Sandpiper Cove by Irene Hannon – A Story of Grace and Redemption

Sandpiper Cove was the first book I’ve read by author Irene Hannon.  I hope to read other books by this gracious and gifted author.

I loved reading this book.  It was a real treasure with stories of grace and redemption in the lives several characters who live in Hope Harbor.  This book is an example of why I like to read books by Christian authors who write about faith and show it lived out in their characters and everyday life.

Sandpiper Cove tells the story of Adam Stone, an ex-con who moved to Hope Harbor with the hopes of starting a new life for himself.  He’s quiet and a bit of a loner.  However, crime which he was hoping to get away from, comes to his doorstep, not once, but twice.  Getting to know the police chief, Lexie Graham, was not on his list of things to do.  However, providence was at work in the lives of these two people and their friends, family and co-workers.

I really liked the characters in this book, both the main characters and supporting characters.  It felt like I could walk into Hope Harbor and meet these people and feel welcome.  They were people I would want to know.  I liked the relationships in this book and how it showed people can impact others for good or bad.

I appreciated that Sandpiper Cove was a safe book, one that did not assault me with vulgarity, profanity, sexual immorality and violence.

I highly recommend Sandpiper Cove by Irene Hannon.  This book was a pleasure to read.  The only problem I encountered was that it ended.  I look forward to reading more of Irene’s books.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Revell publishers for the opportunity to read Sandpiper Cove.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

Close to Home by Deborah Raney – Interesting Characters and Relationships

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Close to Home is the first book I’ve read by author Deborah Raney.  Even though it’s fourth book in the Chicory Inn Series, I didn’t feel like I had to start with the first book to enjoy it.  Enough background information is woven into the storyline, so even a reader new to the series won’t be lost.

Close to Home tells the story of Bree Whitman, who has been widowed for five years.  Since her husband Tim was killed in Afghanistan, she has remained close to her in-laws and extended family, who have shared a common bond of grief.  But there is a desire stirring in Bree.  She is still young and now contemplates marrying again and starting a family.  Those feelings are intensified when Aaron from work starts showing an interest in Bree.  How will romance with a new man affect her relationship with people who have been her family these past five years?  Will she have to cut off those ties?  Will those feelings of betraying her husband and his memory ever fade?  Is Aaron the right man or has the Lord planned someone else for Bree?  To find out, you’ll want to read Close to Home by Deborah Raney.

I really enjoyed the relationships between Bree and the other characters.  I thought the author had some good insights into people, emotions, what’s going on under the surface.  I liked the characters, with the exception of one person who seemed rather narcissistic, but that’s probably why I didn’t like him.

There were a few times that the book seemed a little slow and dragged a big.  Especially when it came to Bree getting a clue on what she needed to do about a relationship.

There was a little bit of faith woven into the book, but it was very minimal with a couple of references to prayer and church.  There was one point in the book when Bree and Aaron were having lunch and they independently bowed their heads to pray.  That just seemed really odd.  Why wouldn’t they pray together?

Personally, I think the book would have been richer and fuller if the author would have done a bit more with faith.  Have a person pray out loud, or even show how they are impacted from reading the Bible, hearing a sermon at church or through relationships with other believers.

I did appreciate that the book is clean.  There are no sexually inappropriate scenes or language, nor situations that are offensive.

All in all, I really liked Close to Home by Deborah Raney.  She is gifted in developing characters and relationships and is insightful.  I recommend this book and I would like to go back and read the first three books in the Chicory Inn Series and look forward to future books by this author.

I would like to thank Abingdon Press and Net Galley for the opportunity to read Close to Home by Deborah Raney in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

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Medical Judgment by Richard L. Mabry – Mixed Emotions

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I’ve read several of Richard Mabry’s novels and looked forward to reading his newest book Medical Judgment.  I like suspense and books where Christian writers include faith as part of the character’s development.  Richard Mabry includes the element of medicine which is drawn from his years of experience as a medical doctor.  Unfortunately, I have some mixed feeling on this book.

I liked and appreciated faith of not only the main character, Dr. Sarah Gordon, but also the several other characters including Detective Bill Larson who was investigating the threats against Sarah, her friend Kyle Andrews and Pastor Steve Farber.  I liked the character Connie, a nurse in the ER.  She seemed like solid Christian who truly cared about people.  She was honest and open with her faith.

The narrative at the end the chapters, from the perspective of the stalker, was effective in creating a suspense.  I also appreciate that the author doesn’t resort to filthy language or sexually inappropriate scenes.  Also, I really liked the character towards the end of the book veterinarian, Dr. Brad Selleck, he seemed like the most well-adjusted and healthy of the bunch.

Now to some of the things that I didn’t care for.

The main character Dr. Sarah Gordon got a little irritating after a while.  She seemed slow to admit she had a serious problem and that she needed to take steps to protect herself.  She whined about setting her security system just about every time she set it.  Enough already!  It was a little repetitive.  It surprised me that the security system did not include cameras.  At times Sarah seems scatterbrained which doesn’t really seem in sync with someone who is an emergency room physician.  It didn’t ring true to me that Sarah could have had a dog at home for less than a day and she misses him so much when he’s being treated at the vet’s office.

I struggled with the character Kyle Andrews who seemed very presumptuous, obsessive and bordered on creepy at times.  He talked about his faith, but not until the end did he seem to recognize that perhaps his actions were not done with the purest motives.  At times I wondered if Kyle was really a true Christian.  When he is obviously sinning he didn’t have the Holy Spirit reining him in.

Theologically, there were a couple things that were off.  On page 181, Kyle is recalling what Pastor Steve told him about grief and when bad things happen.  Specifically, I take issue with this sentence, “He’d assured Kyle that God didn’t cause bad things to happen, but after they did, God would provide the help needed to get through them.”  This doesn’t quite square with the sovereignty of God.  Also, on page 184, Detective Bill Larson prayed for someone who was dead.

I think this book could have been a little shorter and left off some of the repetitive actions and thinking of the characters.  The ending seemed to occur really quickly after a longtime getting there.  There were a lot of potential suspects and I couldn’t figure out who done it.  I would like to have seen the Pastor not included in the list of suspects, and instead just been a stable and good solid influence.

Medical Judgment by Richard Mabry is not great and not horrible, it’s okay.  While this book wasn’t his best, I still look forward to reading future books by author Richard Mabry.

I would like to thank Net Galley and Abingdon Press for the opportunity to read Medical Judgement by Richard Mabry in exchange for an honest review.

 

Waiting on God by Charles Stanley – Very Encouraging

Waiting on God 794037In Pastor Charles Stanley’s newest book, Waiting on God – Hope for Today Strength for Tomorrow, I found him to be very compassionate towards hurting people.  He’s realistic about the struggles believers face and encourages us to trust God no matter what.

Readers learn what it looks like to wait on God.  There are times when it may seem like what we are waiting for will never happen.  Even then, we are reminded that there is meaning and hope during the times of waiting and that the Lord has a purpose and plan He is working out in our lives.

One of the definitions Charles Stanley shared is that when we wait upon the Lord it’s demonstrated with a directed, purposeful, active and courageous attitude of prayer.  He shows examples from scripture what waiting on God looked like in the lives of King David, Abraham, Jacob and Joseph, what lessons they learned and the work that God was doing in their lives and behind the scenes.  Throughout this book he also shares experiences from his own life.

Charles Stanley goes in-depth to examine God’s character and who He is.  He helps us to look at: what our focus is on and potential idols; how we can discern God’s will; stand firm on God’s word and His promises to believers; how we can wait courageously; and experience joy and reap the rewards of waiting.

I especially appreciated the prayers at the end of each chapter.  They are beautifully written with an attitude of humility, thanksgiving, praise, confession of sin and weakness, reminders of God’s greatness, wonder and sovereignty and submission to God’s will and His purpose and plan.

Readers are challenged at the end of each chapter with Points for Active Waiting which included scripture memorization, taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ and questions to help us examine ourselves.

In chapter 5, Claiming God’s Promises, I wish that early on Charles Stanley had warned readers about taking verses out of context and claiming promises that were not intended for us.  In the chapter, he does go into understanding God’s promises and if they are limited vs. general and conditional vs. unconditional.  However, with the abuse of the name it and claim it mentality of some churches today, I think it is imperative for Christians to understand God’s word in context and not misapply it.

I would have also liked to have had smaller chapters.  There’s a lot of meat to chew on in each of the chapters.  Having smaller chapters would have helped break it down into bite size pieces to chew on.

I recommend Charles Stanley’s newest book Waiting on God.  I think it will help strengthen and encourage believers who are waiting on God or going through various trials.

I would like to thank Net Galley and publisher Howard Books for the opportunity to read Waiting on God in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.