This is the view through just about any window in the Northwest this spring. And pretty much all you'll hear about it is this: "Well, that's why it's so green around here." Uh-huh. Well, as for me and my house, it would be green anyway without quite so much moisture. Sigh. Ready for summer!
Father, and yet thank you for the rain which you cause to fall on the righteous and the unrighteous - rain being a great thing in the desert. You made this place where we live beautiful, and I know part of that comes from the rain. Thank you for the beauty of every season. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
A stunning cover that conveys the elegant wealth of the Theodore "Tuck" Massey fortune built on betrayal. After a stark Prologue, Kellie Coates Gilbertpresents the Massey family in all of its glitz, glory, and attitudes to open the story of A Woman of Fortune.
A Woman of Fortuneis an interesting tale of greed, fraud, ignorance, wealth, privilege, snobbery, and the pressures to maintain a certain elegant lifestyle leading to terrible actions and betrayals. Capturing the sudden demise of a Texas cattle brokerage empire with shock and awe of the devastating kind, Kellie paints a quick jolt of judgment in a powerful and debilitating chain of events.
While it's a story of betrayal, it primarily focuses on the love between Claire and her cattle baron husband Tuck and how his crimes tear their family's lives apart and nearly destroy that love. Prior to the destruction of everything they'd gained, faith is merely an exercise in dutiful church attendance while redemption and forgiveness lurk unnoticed in their lives.
The problem for me was I didn't like the primary characters although I preferred Tuck over Claire in spite of his terrible choices. Their two older of three adult offspring, spoiled and "entitled", garnered no sympathy from me as the youngest stepped up in the crisis and grew up in the process. I loved their housekeeper Margarita and vacillated over Claire's best friend Jana Rae. When a male "friend" meets Claire, her shallow me-centered life becomes all about her "deserved" happiness.
Claire isn't a bad person and learns some painful things about herself and her family in the heartbreak of the downfall. Ultimately she makes the choices she needs to make and finds true fortune in her decision.
Father, you know Kellie's heart and exactly what she needs. Please provide those things which fill her up with your inspiration to continue to do just what you have for her to do. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the Lord's command. So the Lord said to Solomon, "Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates. Nevertheless, for the sake of David your father, I will not do it during your lifetime. I will tear it out of the hand of your son. Yet I will not tear the whole kingdom from him, but will give him one tribe for the sake of David my servant for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen."
This was one of the many very good novels by Alton Ganskyreviewed back in 2013.
(For the CFBA Tour; free for review)
If you've read some of my posts, you know one of my complaints about Christian fiction is that so often we get more of the same without much variety or imagination. This occurs primarily in the romance and romantic suspense genres, but predictability can show up anywhere. That's why it's so utterly enjoyable to review a novel which is written incredibly well with a fascinating plot that allows for immense satisfaction even if or when the dots can be connected early.
Alton Gansky's latest release aptly titled Wounds and published by B&H Publishing Group is an exceptional crime novel with well-defined characters, two of which are uniquely connected by a single tragedy which has severely altered their lives for nearly 30 years even though they aren't introduced until a murder unites them. Their still open wounds have been festering and healing seems incongruous but an absolute need.
Detective Carmen Rainmondi lost her sister to what she's convinced was a murder many years ago. She's never given up on finding out who took her sister's life although officially attributed to a car wreck. It's a cold case that simmers in her psyche and never cools off. She's walled up her heart to control the emotional breakage caused by the unresolved loss of her younger sister.
Dr. Ellis Poe is shocked and saddened to learn that a student at the seminary where he teaches has been murdered but equally shocking is the deliverer of this news. Recognizing the female detective from a distant past that haunts his everyday existence with guilt and remorse, Dr. Poe must find a way to reveal his secret to Detective Rainmondi and suffer the inevitable consequences.
A series of grotesque murders begins in the San Diego community while detectives attempt to figure out if, how, and why they're connected. A purposeful Dr. Poe visits the police department to see Detective Rainmondi and is literally sickened by the murder board pictures in the room where she agrees to talk with him. Distracted by the heinous photographs, the professor is able to see the one thing that ties the murders together and insinuates there are more to come.
Carmen is an intentionally lonely soul with a hard edge. Dr. Poe chooses his loneliness as a deserved punishment and allows depression to rule his soul. His faith is strong, but his practice of it is shallow and plagued with guilt. In different ways both are pitiable. Their connection proves to be intense and climactic.
The only enhancement to the story, for me, would've been some bona fide spiritual warfare at the end, but it would've been out of character for Dr. Poe's faith so the conclusion works perfectly.
Alton Gansky is a veteran writer of exciting and innovative adventure and mystery novels, and this story joins the mix with outstanding prose which gives his characters a clever combination of wit, sorrow, and tenacity. An interesting story with plenty of tension, Wounds gives lovers of crime novels a genuine treat to read. I loved this book.
American AssassinTo Appear In Theaters In September 2017, debut scheduled for September 15th!
Father, thank you for Vince Flynn. He honored you in his lifetime and gave us honest novels about hard things. Please let him know how deeply he was loved by those of us who understood his patriotism and love of justice. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
No Man's Land is David Baldacci's fourth book in the John Puller Series. The prolific lawyer turned NYTimes bestselling novelist has a plethora of series novels in his impressive collection.
CID Special Agent John Puller Jr., younger son of the well-respected and equally feared retired 3-star General John Puller Sr., is visiting his father slipping deeper into Alzheimer's when he's informed that 30 years after his mother, the general's wife, mysteriously disappeared one evening that the general is a suspect in her murder. No trace of her has ever been found.
A dying friend of his mother's, married to a man devoted to the general after serving under his command, has mailed a letter to the Army to inform them of her suspicions much to her husband's complete disagreement. John Puller Jr. sets off to talk to the woman to discover why she has accused his father this many years later. This visit is the beginning of a harrowing investigation for which John Jr. can be prosecuted and lose his career. It doesn't take his keen investigative skills long to turn up an intense effort to cover up everything to do with his missing mother.
Along the way he's joined by a former friend and a US Intelligence organization investigator Veronica Knox but is secretly told by a politically powerful government official to trust no one as he delves into this search for truth. Cleverly and carefully aided by his Air Force Major brother Robert, who was imprisoned but cleared of all charges, John presses on under strange circumstances that involves a building at Fort Monroe and the infamous DARPA.
Simultaneously, a man who goes by Paul Rogers is released from prison after his successful third parole hearing having served 10 years for manslaughter. He has one mission in mind and after stealing a car, he sets off across the country to Building Q to remedy what's been done to him. Unfortunately, a few people get in his way and suffer the consequences.
What John Puller learns about his mom and dad while seeking to find out what really happened to her leads him and Knox to near death and bizarre connections to what was perceived to be the serial killings of three young women. Making the connections in their deaths takes them to a bar called "The Grunt", a palatial estate of a patent kingpin, and back again to DARPA. Amidst major cover-ups, they struggle to connect the dots and link what they gather to provide the truth and final information they desperately need.
David Baldacci puts together a complex tale of abject psychopathic cruelty, unfortunate timing, sorrowful results, and a seemingly unsympathetic and vicious antagonist who turns out to be an unfortunate victim in a state of no man's land. This is my first Baldacci novel. I suspect it won't be my last.
Father, please continue to bless David's life with more stories you have just for him to tell and allow him to realize where his talent originated. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Five of my favorite things (note: things - not the Lord, family, friends, pets, etc. - things):
Dawn or just before dawn
Coca Cola (of course) and Milk (yes, cow milk 2%) but not mixed together
Writing and reading novels of certain genres
Sitting in the sun reading novels
Lord God, thank you for the great beauty in my life. It takes me away from the sorrow of the world. Thank you for rescuing me and teaching me how to love life. Please continue to help me to be the one you created me to be. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
(Tentatively planning on making Thursdays "Older Reviews Day". Here's one for you from April, 2012.)
There's just something divine about reading another novel by a favorite author. Recently here I reviewed The Thirteenth Tribe by Robert Liparuloand what a pleasure it was to once again partake of his imagination, voice, story, and words. And so it was with great anticipation - okay, and just a touch of fear - that I opened the cover and began the first page of Illusion by Frank Peretti. The fear nagged in the background of my expectancy only because Frank's last effort Monster was the least favored in my collective reading of Peretti novels. No need. I loved this novel.
Possibly if anyone else had written the story I might not have liked the book. It's an odd thing to say and, as it stands, a moot point. The reason I say this is because Illusion tells a complex tale of magic and illusion and quantum physics/interdimensional displacement/secondary timelines using Stanford brainiacs and a weird machine planted in the bowels of a Nevada hospital where only certain personnel are allowed to go. Guess what? These factors put the story right smack dab in the genre of speculative fiction, a place I rarely visit. But at its core, Illusion is a love story (and I don't need to tell you how much I favor a good love story). This very important layer transforms all other elements of the story, taking the reader on an impossible journey with a scant thread of hope dashing between illusions.
When the famous illusionist couple, Dane and Mandy Collins, decide to leave their act behind after 40 years of performing together, they set their sights on retirement in Mandy's hometown in the Idaho panhandle. Beginning their exodus from Las Vegas, a fiery car crash claims the life of Dane's beloved wife and partner, Mandy Eloise Collins.
However, we're soon transported to a place where a young Mandy in 1970 at the local fair with her friends waits under a tree while her friends choose where to eat. Her dad will show his llamas, and Mandy anticipates watching Marvellini the Magician. Something suddenly changes everything familiar into something strange and scary. Instead of enjoying the fair at 19 years of age, she's now in a hospital nightgown and it's 2010. This begins a disconcerting series of events which cause Mandy to adjust her name, accept a form of being "crazy", become a target for unknown assailants, and meet the great Dane Collins who is as achingly familiar to her as she seems to be to him.
To reveal more of this story would only confuse you, spoil the unique perspectives of both protagonists, ruin the imaginative twists underlying each new adventure, and expose the aims of the diabolical peripheral antagonists. Suffice it to say Illusion is not a simple story in any sense of the word. The faith thread is woven through the story like a discreet ribbon, necessary to hold it together but as illusory as the "magic" that Mandy performs.
Here's the foremost takeaway value for me, the one that surpasses the incredible spectacle of Frank Peretti's imagination and gift for storytelling. Within only a few pages I realized once again how captivating Frank's writing is, how much I love to read his words. I say that with complete surrender and abandon and with few tangibles to explain it other than his use of vivid imagery, the incorporation of all the senses, clever and real dialogue, both internal and external, and his powerful ability to "write a movie". I've always "watched" and pictured Frank's prose on the screen of my mind.
Illusion by Frank Peretti, published by Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., is an experience you won't soon forget. Unique. Emotional. Inventive. Consuming. Lingering. Frank is back with a flourish. And it's no illusion.
Father, you've guided and directed Frank's life from the moment you created him. He's honored you in many ways with all of the gifts you've given him. I pray your continued blessing and anointing on Frank's and Barb's lives together. May they experience your joy in all they do as well as your divine protection. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
There is no good in evil. The parallel opposites run infinitely into oblivion. On a daily basis humanity is asked to choose one behavior over another time and time again. It's not always an easy choice to make. We'd like to think it is. But it is not.
The human kind are incessantly lured into evil. In school we tend to think some of it is "cool", "hip", "whatever". Hopefully in adulthood we've learned some of the hard consequences of entertaining and/or practicing some evil. Because evil isn't always wrapped up in psychopathic personas with horrendous weaponry and vulgarity. Often it's portrayed beautifully, richly, elegantly, and softly beckons us to participate in its poisonous brew. If it was always so obvious, only the deviants would be captivated by it.
Yes, if you asked ten people to define evil, you might get ten different opinions and be startled by the responses. Evil has been modified over the passing number of years, eroding the starkness of its definition. The moral compass of acceptable conduct has stretched to an ugly length and tucked many into adopting its deceit.
The saddest part of the acceleration of evil is when Christians slide into it without reservation, accumulating habits and behaviors they initially rejected because of their resistance toward evil. Somehow, they've been beguiled by the master of evil into thinking much of what they formerly embraced and respected has become less attractive, too rigid, and not as much fun as the regression into who they once were before Jesus rescued them. It was once called "back-sliding" but now it's somehow covered by a human definition of God's endless love. Rather than the knowledge of what is encompassed in the declaration of God is love, they ignore the overall character of God's inclusion of discipline and judgment, enabling evil through pious exaltations of false grace and liberty while criticizing other believers who recognize the danger of "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil."
There is no good in evil. Dressed up or dressed down, evil will destroy us if we welcome it into our lives in any of its various forms. We play with it, we pay for it. Our God is merciful and full of grace, but He doesn't tolerate His saints embracing sin. Ultimately there is hell to pay. That Blood is too precious to be disregarded and forgotten in order to practice an evil of choice.
The decision to choose good or evil only matters when God's good is at the base of that choice. He is it. He defines it. His definition is the only one that counts.
There is no good in evil.
Father, help me to resist the various ways evil taunts me. Please continue to help me be the one you want me to be. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Becky Wade is a bona fide romance writer. If you're looking for "romance-lite", you won't find it in Becky's books. Huh-uh. And because she writes them so well, I read them. Her romance novels are a cut above most of those in the Christian fiction romance genre.
Most of you know I hate short stories. Always have. That's certainly not to say those authors of short stories don't write well. On the contrary. However, because I don't like to read (or write) short stories and never will, I don't appreciate the mode or method. Same goes for novellas, although I'll concede I will read a very occasional novella. Very occasional.
Becky Wade's prequel novella Then Came You sets the stage for a series of romance novels to follow.
This little story focuses on journal entries, letters, and conversations from the hero and heroine. The journal entries are for their writers' private confessions, hopes, sorrows, and frustrations. Most of the letters are also private personal revelations and don't get mailed. Conversations consist of telephone communications either live or with left messages between the heroine and her well-meaning but overbearing and self-righteous mother or between the heroine and her best friend Rose.
Garner Bradford is the heir to his family's once prestigious shipping company which is in a financial freefall when he takes over. Prior to that point in his life, he falls hard for a touring French beauty who's a free-spirited (aka fast and loose) artist who sucks Garner into a romance he's ill prepared for and one that leaves him with unexpected consequences. Following the debacle of that liaison, he meets and marries a great girl that meets all of his needs, but, sadly, that ends badly and leaves him hollow with a new personal awareness and the intent to stay solo.
Dreaming all of her life about working in New York for the perfume/cosmetics leader Estee Lauder, Kathleen Burke is forced to take a job she really doesn't want at Bradford Shipping in Washington state. Far, far away from her dream, she diligently applies her skills to her job while continuing to apply at Estee Lauder - where she is rejected. She doesn't meet Garner for some time but finds she is acutely drawn to him when she does.
The journal entries, letters, and phone conversations develop the storyline about two people on an unintended collision course which puts them right where they need to be to discover the value of real meant-to-be love. Well-written in this venue with faith skirting the edges of it all, Then Came You is fun, real, and I wish it was longer.
Father, you've blessed Becky with her talent and keen perception of real romance. Please continue to provide those stories you have just for her to tell. She captures the beauty of romance and love with your heart in mind. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Youcan rave about the added daylight. You can even recite the history. You can exalt Daylight Savings Time all you want. Know this: I hate it. Arizona and Hawaii have it right by staying with standard time year round.
"Only two states -- Arizona and Hawaii -- have passed legislation to opt out of that act though legislators in other states including Texas, Alabama and Utah have considered following suit, the Arizona Republic reported. Members of the Navajo Nation who reside in one corner of Arizona do honor daylight time."
It takes me at least a month to adjust to the time change, and since I'm a morning person, I enjoy the early daylight. In the summer, it's not like it gets dark early so the "added daylight" is a mirage and dirty trick on the human body's sleep cycle.
However, I have come to the place where I would prefer standard time at all times, but I would defer to one time all the time. Changing the time is a cruel trick for working Americans whether they like it or not.
Thank you, Lord, for the beauty of dawn and dusk. Thank you for the seasons and the beauty in each of them. Thank you for your amazing creation. No words big enough to describe you or what you've done. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
This is the fifth chapter of a work in progress (WIP) titled . . . in a love song.
How the only woman who could give him a hitch in his normal attitude and response to her could appear almost bashful in thanking him for putting up her new screen doors baffled him. But she did. He saw tears in her eyes as she inspected them. But she recovered quickly and almost teased him with her remark, “Whenever the right one catches you, you’ll make a fine husband, Mr. Rivers.” And then it was his turn to feel embarrassed.
He cleaned up and set on his way to The Tavern to enjoy Pet’s cooking even if it would be just a cheeseburger and fries. Who was he kidding? He hoped to feast on her pretty face and get a warm reception from her stealth façade. Of all the local information the guys had pumped into him in the short time he’d been here, not one of them had mentioned this pretty gal who worked behind the bar. There’d been plenty of chatter about some other women in town, like Leann, one of the checkers at the supermarket who apparently had a fondness for construction workers.
It was 2:30 when he walked in, the jukebox playing rock ‘n’ roll tunes from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Not as loud as last evening. The place had a healthy crowd for a Saturday afternoon with several tables occupied. He strode toward the bar and straddled a stool next to his coworker Keith who looked like a hangover danced in his head.
“Bud, you look like you shoulda left when I did,” Dale kidded.
Keith looked over with a sly smile after taking a sip of his tomato beer. “And miss all the fun?” His smile turned into a grin.
“Hmm. Yeah, hard to pass up a little fun, huh? Gotta pay the price, though. You know it ain’t free.”
“Never is, is it?” And he laughed a bit like that much movement hurt.
“Here ya go, Trouble. Hope it goes down easy cuz it won’t come up that way.” Pet turned to Dale after setting a plate full of sunny-side up eggs, hash browns, sausage, and toast in front of Keith. “What can I get for you?” Her smile was confident this afternoon.
“Cheeseburger, fries, and a Coke, please. Heavy on the onions.” He looked her in the eyes when he ordered, and she didn’t flinch.
“No reason not to,” he replied with a subtle smile. That comment got to her ever so slightly.
“Heavy on the onions it is then.” She turned to get his Coke and when she placed it in front of him, she said, “You got a name?”
“I’ve been called my fair share of them, but Dale Rivers is my given name.” He held out his hand to her.
“Patricia Edison. No relation.”
He smiled at her quip. Her grip was firm, and he didn’t let go for an extra beat. “Nice to meet you, Patricia.”
For that extra beat, her confidence wavered as it had last night. Her hand was soft, and it felt good in his. He let go. She disappeared into the kitchen.
“Whoa, dude. What’s up with that?” Keith seemed to have surfaced from his haze.
“Pet don’t talk to just anybody like that. She makes herself off limits to most everyone.”
“How come you guys never mentioned anything about her? You filled me in on all these other chicks around town but not her. Why?”
Keith stared at his eggs for a moment. “Pet’s different.” He took a forkful and shoved it in his mouth, chewed, and then downed a big swig of the red beer.
“She’s a Cadillac. Know what I mean? There’s some nice cars out there, but you know you got somethin’ special with a Cadillac.”
Dale could see Keith was dead serious. Respect in his tone. Keith kept eating, staring down at his food.
“Like an El Dorado?”
“Like a classic shiny red El Dorado only belonged to one owner its whole life.” Keith pushed his plate away and downed the rest of his drink. As he tugged his wallet out of his back pocket, he said, “Word of advice? Don’t go there. See ya Monday.” He put a twenty on the counter and walked out.
Dale turned slightly on his stool and watched him leave.
Father, help me with every written word, every story, to honor you. I thank you for all of them. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
If you need a fun escape during the final days of winter (let's hope they're the final days) - or anytime at all - I highly recommend this comedic but exciting fun-filled, glamorous lark of a film. This remake of The Touristis as good as a remake can be. I loved it!
Father, only you can save the lost. I pray you will . . . In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Nearly every age group in the USA can reminisce about "the good old days", but the "baby boomers" seem to indulge the nostalgia better than most. Growing up the in the 40s and 50s and experiencing the transformation that took place in the 60s and 70s, it's easy to say those years before the hippie movement and the Vietnam War were definitely the last remnant of so-called innocence.
Culture often portrays the notable - and not necessarily the best - elements of society during different years. The fluctuations of different politics, religion, morality, and business are reflected in film and music. Perhaps that's why today's version of Hollywood theatrics have given themselves more credit for influence than they truly possess. When producing political agenda driven movies which fail miserably at the box office, they fail to realize they're alienating a large portion of those who refuse to pay to see their opinions depicted on the big screen.
When I was in grade school in Seattle, Washington, for a period of time there was a curfew of 10 PM for kids under 18 to be off the streets. There was a "gang" known as the "Dukes" who wore letterman-style jackets and roamed the streets. I never saw one, and I never had any reason to be out of the house that late at night as an elementary school student. I had no idea what a "gang" was, and my life was fairly idyllic. My brother was nine years older than I so he probably knew all about the "Dukes". I knew no one who'd ever experienced any confrontations with this gang, and I don't remember when the curfew lapsed.
Maybe "the good old days" weren't really all that "good" since sin was rampant then just as it is now. However, in "those" days, most of it wasn't in your face as it is so blatantly today. On the big screen, the "small screen", every magazine rack at the grocery store, in song, in speeches, on Twitter, Facebook, and the other multitudes of social networks, pornography is available, flaunted, accepted, and passed along. We could spend literally hours making a list of depravity on the airwaves and in print. The irony will be when someone in the future refers to this era as "the good old days".
Here is a smattering of 50s' films for you to contrast what was offered during that time in our history.
God, you know many of these people have passed on and only you know their eternal dwelling place. I pray those who've been given your gifts today would come to know your Son and realize from whom their talent has been given. Only you. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Each trailer reveals more about the upcoming movie. The final installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean series. Hate for it to end. Dead Men Tell No Tales is advertised as the "final adventure". My favorite series of all time.
Father, you know the blackness of lost hearts. I pray for dramatic conversions and salvations. Only you can change hard hearts. Only you. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.