Mac’s Way by Reg Quist ~ Review

Macs Way pic

Mac’s Way by Reg Quist

Like many of the other books I reviewed for this author, this is a historical fiction Western. Because of the author’s background and family history, and the family lore he grew up with, much of what he writes is authentic and true to history. His books are a great read for their historical content. They are clean but realistic in their form. His stories do not focus on sensational events, crooked people or gore.

In this story we meet Mac. His actual name is Walker Samuel McTavish, born and raised on a small Missouri farm before the War Between the States. He was the eldest son of a hard-working family. Frustrated with his life and seeing nothing profitable in his future he set out to make something of himself. He experienced the life of a mule driver for a freight company which took him all over the country. He was involved in the Civil War. After the war, he worked with other men in Texas to drive cattle to northern markets for cash. This book is filled with his adventures on some of those drives.

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What I liked best in this particular book is the character development of Mac, as he was called during the war. His character was forged through tough times, making him a man I would be proud to call my ancestor. Through these rough times, he gained leadership abilities, gathered around him lifetime friendships and loyalty, and lead them straight on to success.

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In the end, it was fitting that he found not only a piece of land to call his own, but had collected his own herd, a large group of friends, including his family members and leads them to a fertile valley out West with enough land for them to spread out and begin their own lives over. Of this author’s books, this one is my favorite so far.

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The Crossroads: a Midtown Blue series book 2 by F.P. Lione ~ Review

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The Crossroads: a Midtown Blue series book 2 by F.P. Lione

This is the second book in the Midtown Blue series by the writing team of Frank and Pam Lione. The Crossroads follows The Deuce which is focused on Tony and Joe, partners with the NYPD. The events pick up right after the first book where Tony Cavalucci finds the Lord and begins to grow in his faith.

Because of the authors’ experiences in New York City with the NYPD and downtown missions, this book is filled with meticulous detail on the daily life of the New York City cops. We get a good sense of what it takes to do this job from day to day. In the first book we also discover that Tony’s family is dysfunctional and that his life is wrapped up in the drama they cause for him. Tony used to lean heavily on drinking to deal with this mess. But now, he is determined not to depend on drink to escape and must face his trials head on, with the help of his partner Joe Fiore, who is also a genuine believer in Christ.

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The first time Tony brings his new girlfriend to a family dinner, she and her little 4-year-old son are nearly roasted in family judgmentalism and disapproval. This causes a rift between Tony and Michele and leaves Tony wondering how he is supposed to handle his family in a way that reflect his newfound belief. This is a frequent topic between Tony and Joe as they work their beat day after day. When Tony feels all is hopeless, Joe assures him that God is working in his family. Sure enough, Tony is later astonished when his alcoholic mother contacts him and wants to make amends. At first he doesn’t believe she is changed, so he cautiously holds her at arm’s length and watches to see what happens next.

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The part of this story I like best was the detail describing how the city banded together to prepare for New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square. I was never aware of how much preparation it took to host this event and make it safe for everyone. Just that part of the book was worth the read.

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Another part I like about both the books in this series is the details of all the action the police officers carried out in a typical day. It reminded me of the very old police shows on TV with a little droll humor, some unremarkable events, some food for thought and a touch of strangeness. I found it fascinating. If you enjoy this type of book, then I highly recommend this for your reading.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from CKN Christian Publishing on behalf of the author. I was not required to write a review, positive or otherwise. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

 

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A Way in a Manger by Amy Brady ~ Review

A Way in a Manger pic

A Way in a Manger by Amy Brady

I really enjoy devotional books, especially when they have a theme or a central thought to them. In this case, this one focuses on the names of God’s Son assigned to Him by Scripture. The author’s theme comes from the Bible verse in Isaiah 9:6 which states that He shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace. With this as her outline, each week is dedicated to a series of devotionals focused on one of the above 5 names.

Some people like to read Advent material for the month of December. But when I read this devotional, I realized it wasn’t limited to Advent material. The contrast I think is that Advent is traditionally about the events of Christmas, the history surrounding it and the timeline, this book is more of a devotional with the intention of helping us view Christmas in a new and fresh way. The author provides more insights to the five characteristics mentioned in Isaiah as Jesus lives in us day by day as our Savior and Lord. It is not about the baby in the manger, but about the Jesus who rose from the dead and lives in our hearts and lives right now.

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The author’s conversational style makes this book’s pages easy to understand, as if it were two people carrying on a conversation in a small cafe over a cup of coffee. Each day there is a “Passage to Ponder,” some unique insights and some questions to make us think. I gained several different perspectives that gave me more to think about when I read this book. This is the type of material I will enjoy reading and re-reading for many years to come.

A Way in a Manger quote2

 

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The Deuce (Midtown Blue Book 1) by F.P. Lione ~ Review

The Deuce pic

The Deuce (Midtown Blue Book 1) by F.P. Lione

CKN Christian Publishing did readers a favor by bringing this book to our attention. Not too long ago I reviewed another book by F.P. Lione, which by the way is a writing team, not a single author. It’s apparent the team loves to use New York City as a setting. So first of all, if you are a country loving person like me, don’t turn away from the book because of this. Give it a fair chance. It is well worth it.

Second, if you are a person who easily gets lost in the trees for the forest, you may struggle a little bit with the beginning half of the book. There are a lot of details, but if you take a moment and look at the big picture, there is a good reason for this. The first half of the book sets the scene, the premise, and the background of the main character, Tony Cavalucci, a 10-year veteran NYPD cop. The reason I say this is because this writing team demonstrates a rare quality I do not find often in the writing industry, in my opinion. Wannabe writers often hear the warning, “show, don’t tell.” In other words, don’t just tell the reader what you want them to know, show them. Make it an experience. Most writers I know try really hard to do this, but it isn’t easy to accomplish. Well, if you want to see how it is done, then read this book. But you must read it all the way through to the end without judgment to understand the point of the story. I’m afraid many readers just won’t get it. The pace is not the breakneck speed we are used to when watching crime and cop shows on television. It tends to move more slowly at first, picking up the pace mid way. It could possibly be too easy to get lost in the details and miss the crux of the matter.

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Thirdly, if you love police procedurals, this is a story you’ll enjoy. At the very least, the first half of the book is about the daily life and matters during the main character’s patrol with his partner Joe. Just be aware this is not written to give you an adrenaline rush. What I appreciate about this part of the book is that it is gritty and nasty, but not crude or graphic. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s family reading, but it is a good clean read without filth. The point however in this first section is that you feel what Tony feels about his life. I think the authors did a remarkable job in portraying the despair and futility that hits Tony day after day. It is written in such a way that the reader is meant to feel this with him. If you don’t, you may miss the crucial turning point for this good cop in the second half of the book.

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I won’t say much about the turning point of this story except to say that it takes time and it’s subtle. It’s not as easy as turning Tony from sour to saint. Not at all. In fact, the way the story ends is much more true to life than most Christian fiction books I read. Instead of a definitive end, you could say that at the conclusion of the book you feel that this is just the beginning for Tony. I felt that way and thought to myself, “I would definitely want to read more.” So if the hints are true, and this is a series, then I’ll be very happy to read more. I hope you will too when you read this book.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from CKN Christian Publishing on behalf of the author. I was not required to write a review, positive or otherwise. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

The Deuce Quote4

 

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The Christmas Cowboy by Shanna Hatfield ~ Review

The Christmas Cowboy by Shanna Hatfield

Christmas Cowboy pic

If you are looking for a sweet and clean romance, slightly fluffy, but with no crudeness or sex, then this is the read for you. It is one of my favorite romances, with a western flavor, and Christmas related to boot.

Tate Morgan grew up on a ranch; it’s his way of life. On top of that, he is a talented bronc rider taking awards on the rodeo circuit. As you read this story, you are either going to think to yourself, “Is this guy real? He’s too good to be true” or “Ok, what’s his game?” But it turns out that he’s a genuinely nice guy who loves life and people. He’s surrounded by women fans. Sometimes they get on his nerves because of their aggressiveness. He would rather do the chasing when it comes to finding one that would fit into his life. So far, he hasn’t found one he can picture living with and having a family with. Then he meets Kenzie Beckett.

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Kenzie Beckett is a little shy when it comes to cowboys. She’s had some bad experiences. But secretly she really likes Tate Morgan once she gets to know him. The problem is she believes all cowboys are players. So when she thinks she sees evidence of that in Tate, she runs. The best part of the story is how they resolved this issue.

There’s a lot of great humor in this story. That’s one of my favorite parts of this book. I enjoy laughing, and the give and take Tate and Kenzie share is wonderful. And Tate’s friends are great guys too. That’s good writing on the part of the author.

Christmas manger

From time to time I enjoy an uncomplicated plot, especially around the holidays. I find it enjoyable to read a more simple story between larger novels with complex plots and scenes, and non-fiction books. This fits very well in that category. If you enjoy a great, clean story with a feel good romance, a clear cut hero and heroine, a happily after, (and yeah, it’s formulaic) then I recommend this book for you.

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Keeping Christmas by Dan Walsh ~ Review

Keeping Christmas pic

Keeping Christmas by Dan Walsh

For many folks, Christmas is a happy time of year. It’s filled with warm cozy memories, family, food and fun. But it is not that way for everyone. For some people this holiday only brings them pain and emptiness. There may be bad memories or a lack of good memories. What then? Keeping Christmas by Dan Walsh is all about one couple dealing with the emptiness of loss at one of the most family oriented times of the year.

Stan and Judith Winters are empty nesters. And this year it was painfully obvious. Their three children are grown, married, with families and good jobs. And they are scattered all over the US. None were able to come home for Thanksgiving, and Judith has just learned that none of them will be able to afford to come home for Christmas either. This has put Judith into a deep depression which she has been unable to shake. Stan and Judith’s best friends, Barney and Betty (I don’t know their last names, but it probably isn’t Rubble!) even tried to cheer Judith up. Nothing seemed to work. Stan knew there had to be a solution to the problem, but he just couldn’t think what it could be.

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There were so many poignant moments in this book. Judith’s feelings are understandable and very true for many other people dealing with the empty nest. It drew me in, made me feel a little sad as I read her plight. But even though the predominant problem is sad, there were still plenty of funny and even feel-good moments. I enjoyed the book so much, in fact, that I have read it several times in the past couple of years.

My favorite part of the story was a discussion between Judith and Betty about their husbands. Keep in mind that this book is written by a male author, so it was so surprising to read their discussion about how men seem to have switches on their feelings, and how often they can switch off those feelings while the wife just can’t do that. The discussion was precious. I found myself agreeing, “Yeah, how is that possible?” The author nailed that conversation.

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The second most favorite part about the story was the description of the ugly ornaments and their significance. Again, I felt a heart tug here because our children and I used to make ornaments when they were younger. There were a lot of fond memories wrapped up in those years. As it turns out, those ornaments play an important part in the resolution, which was a perfect way to end the book. Even if you’re not an empty nester, I believe you’ll enjoy reading this story.

Christ died for you individually Santa kneels

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from NetGalley on behalf of the author and Revell. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Cries of Innocence by Angela Beach Silverthorne ~ Review

Cries of Innocence pic

Cries of Innocence by Angela Beach Silverthorne

This is the type of book that readers will either love or it will step on toes. In any case, it may elicit a strong response from anyone reading it. The premise behind the story in this book is spiritual warfare. It’s not your usual idea of spiritual warfare which we often tend to view in theoretical terms, philosophically discussing things without getting emotionally involved. Instead, you will find spiritual warfare involving people personally from the very beginning.

The main character is Brenda Sue Parrot and her mom, Linda. Home life for this teen was a horror. Her father was always drunk and violent. He was a drug dealer. Her mother works several jobs to hold the family together. Brenda, in usual teen fashion, has little respect for her mother, often blaming her for her troubles. So the beginning part of the story feels like teen angst. But it quickly deepens as strange events begin to happen in her town, to her family and her friends. Fortunately, Bren has grandparents and family that are supportive and help them when the situation begins to look dire.

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The second part of the story shifts from Bren’s high school life to something much more serious. Her perception shifts as she became more and more aware of the battle she was witnessing around her. She moves in with her grandmother at a place called The Haven. For a reader, this part of the story gets a little puzzling and intense. It’s not exactly what I would call action packed, although sometimes it feels like that. I would say it becomes more suspenseful in anticipation of something big that was coming, building on that suspense chapter by chapter. The author does a good job of anticipation and suspense and stretching out mystery as far as it can go. To some extent, I felt the mystery and chaos was being stretched a little bit too far and for too long. However, I got to the point where I couldn’t put the book down. I wanted to solve the mystery, and the missing information and the gaps made me curious.

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The final chapters are basically a showdown between good and evil. Yet it is a physical battle with real physical danger and threats of death everywhere around The Haven. This part of the book is intense, filled with chaos and chaotic events. But in this section you see the most character growth in our main characters, Brenda and Linda, Falon, Moses and GG. Not only do they grow in awareness of more than one type of danger, they grow in maturity and purpose.

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So in the end, there is a touch of fantasy, other-worldliness, lots of suspense and anticipation, a sense of danger, a mystery, some back story, conflict, a gospel message and a salvation message from a Christian point of view, and much more. I believe the intended target audience is YA, although this book could appeal to many ages. This is by no means a boring book! I enjoyed reading this and would read other books by this author.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from AXP Books on behalf of the author. I was not required to write a review, positive or otherwise. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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