Riding Out the Devil: The Story of a Wounded Horse Healer by Hilary Walker ~ Review

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Riding Out the Devil: The Story of a Wounded Horse Healer by Hilary Walker

This is such a good all around story. Jack, the horse trainer, grew up in Britain, but found his home in the Americas as a specialist who could work with nearly any kind of horse, especially problem horses. He had a knack for knowing just what the horses needed to fix their problems. He preferred working with the horses alone, but once in awhile he worked with others to help the owner get what needed to be done for his horse.

We discover that Jack prefers his own company. He’s had some bad experiences and as a horse healer, needs some healing of his own. Just recently his mother passed on after a heart attack, and he reflected how she helped him with some health problems he’s had since he was 17 years old. Now that she is absent, he feels the need to help someone else with the same type of healthy problem he had. So when the opportunity came to combine his healing power with a horse and his young 17-year-old owner with the same health condition, he takes on the project, mostly out of guilt. It turned out well, and the opportunity actually made him feel good about himself. Perhaps he wasn’t such a lost cause after all. It became a tribute to his mother and her hard work to make him well in spite of what the doctors told her.

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My favorite part of the book is all that had to do with horses, their training, and care. It was an important part of the characterization of the main character, Jack Harper. It is through the author’s attention to detail in this part of the story that we see a pleasing transformation come for Jack as he worked with the boy and his horse. He not only guided the boy into better eating that made his life more comfortable, he didn’t mind helping someone else as much as he thought he would. And after years of running away from God (in the form of rejecting his former church), he finally found peace within himself and with God.

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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Coldwater by Samuel Parker ~ Review

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Coldwater by Samuel Parker

Have you ever read a book where you are not sure where it is going? Where there seems to be no certain protagonist or antagonist? Where the plot is undetermined except to move forward in a perpetual chase? Have you ever read a book where the driving question seems to be, “What is going on?” That is what reading this book by Samuel Parker made me feel.

I’m not saying this in a negative sense. Some authors make their plots and characters easy to figure out and predict to varying degrees. That is not true with this story. There’s a looming question mark hovering over the events as you read on. Yet the action drives the reader to continue if for no other reason than to try to make sense of what the characters were doing. The author is determined to show rather than tell what is occurring.

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Dotted throughout the tale were rare “Ah ha!” moments of insight, motive or reasons. But for the most part, the action moves forward relentlessly without explanation or narrative. It caused me to pause once in awhile and reflect back to a writing style used in the ’50’s and ’60’s in programs where they used only words and the unknown to develop expectations without special effects. The Twilight Zone and possibly Outer Limits were examples of this. Alfred Hitchcock, writer/producer of thrillers and melodramas, could produce the same effects. The results were often unpredictable and sometimes left the viewer pondering.

I’ll be the first to admit this would not be a book I would have chosen to read for myself. That is the consequences of entering a review program and trusting someone else’s choices. But ultimately, it worked out well. This book stretched my tolerance for suspense since suspense is the main driving force in this story. The events are strange, creepy and dark. And there is a message, but it’s subtle. And even though the book is dark, it is not a horror story, nor gruesome or filled with blood lust. There is definitely some kind of spiritual warfare going on, but the author does not comment on it.

There is a resolution of a sorts for this story. The events do come to an end. This is not a happy book, so you can’t really call the ending a happily ever after (HEA). Rather, it is a serious book with suspenseful momentum. Eventually it resolves but leaves the reader in a pondering state where we are allowed to come to our own conclusions. I’d like to offer kudos to the superb writing talent of author Samuel Parker.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Librarything.com 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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Mac’s Way by Reg Quist ~ Review

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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 Miser, A Manger, A Miracle: The First Christmas Carol by Marianne Jordan ~ Review

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A Miser, A Manager, A Miracle: The First Christmas Carol by Marianne Jordan

What a marvelous adaptation of the Christmas Carol by Dickens! I’ve never heard of anyone taking the Christmas story and adapting it this way. Better yet, this book came about as a result of a play written by the author for her church production. What the author has done is to flesh out the story for the readers. She has done this so well that at times I was walking with Ebenezer in his soul searching journey led by three different angels.

Ebenezer was the Inn keeper in the tiny town of Bethlehem. He was delighted at the opportunity to earn a great deal of money when the Romans decreed that the descendants of David register in their home town to be counted and taxed. Ebenezer loved making money. He didn’t care how he accomplished that or who he hurt on the way. He considered himself above the rabble anyway. As people crowded into the small spaces of the Inn, Ebenezer had one room left and he was holding onto it to save it for a rich customer who could afford his lavish rates. One couple he turned away was a man and his pregnant wife.

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Then that night the angel Gabriel appeared to him in his home. He would be visited that night by three more angels, in an effort to redeem his corrupted soul. First he visited his past. Then the present. But nothing touched his heart until he started to get to know a man called Jesus. Even the man’s teaching didn’t touch his heart until he witnessed the scourging and the crucifixion of this innocent one. Finally he was a broken and repentant man. For the first time in his life, he wanted to save this man’s agony by offering his life for Jesus’ life. Then he was told this was Jesus’ choice, to die for him, the wretched, greedy Ebenezer.

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Don’t let the familiarity of the story scheme distract you. The author has done a marvelous job of allowing us to see life from Ebenezer’s eyes. There are many other elements of the Christmas Carol you’ll find familiar when you read this book.

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All of this enhances the experience Ebenezer lived in his one night of revelation. Since we already know the outcome of the story, and even the way it is being told, the joy is in the details. And the author did a wonderful job of telling this story with realistic detail and heart. I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I hope you do too.

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Spiral: The Salzburg Saga Book 1 by D.U. Okonkwo ~ Review

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Spiral: The Salzburg Saga Book 1 by D.U. Okonkwo

The three books in this Saga basically form one continuous story. You will want to read these books back to back because of that. There is no segue. The first story stops abruptly and the next one continues. The book Spiral is aptly named. A normal situation where three young lawyers take a corporate jet sponsored by their largest client to participate in a networking event goes all wrong very quickly once they get into the air.

The story is written from basically two points of view, that of Jake’s, the pilot of the jet aircraft, and that of Nina, one of the lawyers in the group. As the situation on the jet becomes tense, we get introduced to all the characters as they interact with each other. Each person has a history which is revealed as the adventure continues and which keeps this event popping with intrigue and interest.

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There are two major settings: on board the aircraft and on the ground in the mountains of Austria after the jet crashed. The story line keeps us focused on the effort to survive a horrible situation. And while they are just trying to survive, the situation just continues to spiral out of control, getting worse and worse as time lapses. By the end of this first tome, two of the party have died.

There is continuous action in this first book. The pace is rapid enough to keep you reading without being able to put the book down. The author writes an effective buildup to the tension among the group, since there are people to blame and people who are innocent bystanders. At first, it’s unclear exactly who is who. That type of suspense propels the reader right into the next book.

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The author is very effective in building suspense slowly and painfully. I just couldn’t put this book down once I got started. I was immensely grateful that both books were in the same volume so that I could proceed to part 2 of the saga.

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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A Promise to Protect: A Novel (Logan Point series Bk 2) by Patricia Bradley ~Review~

A Promise to Protect by Patricia Bradley

A Promise to Protect

A Promise to Protect is the second book in the Logan Point series. The first book is Shadows of the Past, the author’s debut novel. If this book is an indication of Ms. Bradley’s writing style, then I’m hooked. I need to get the first novel to read, and then hope the author’s books come out quickly.

Sheriff Ben Logan has followed in his father’s footsteps and become Sheriff of Bradford County. His father had served the county for many years, and only ended his service when he was shot at close range. Miraculously he survived but his recovery has been slow. In addition, he suffered a stroke and couldn’t speak or communicate well, so he was unable to tell his son, Ben, the details behind the shooting. But Ben could tell by the expression in his eyes that he was still alert and cognizant. In the meantime, Ben has been acting sheriff awaiting the elections to make his job permanent. But a series of dangerous events began to threaten the town, his close friends, and Dr. Leigh Somerall and her son TJ. Dr. Somerall’s brother, Tony had called the sheriff to meet him somewhere he considered safe. Over the phone, he told Ben he had some information the FBI and the US Marshalls would be interested in on a flash drive. He also hinted that he may have more information on his father’s shooting as well. But when Ben arrived, Tony was dying, shot in the chest. His last words to Ben was an injunction to protect Leigh.

Dr. Leigh Somerall was an ER doctor at Logan Point’s hospital, Bradford General. She had returned to her home town to finish out her contract to pay off her student loan at her brother’s request. Once finished with her loans, she would be free to follow her dream to work at Johns Hopkins, a teaching hospital in Baltimore. If she survived being around Ben Logan, that is. She and Ben had a history going back ten years when they attended high school together. Though they had gone to different colleges, one summer they came back and worked at the same place. They had dated and fallen in love. But once Fall came around they went their separate ways again. Now here she was in her home town again, a widow with a young son, living with her brother in their grandparents’ house.

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Sheriff Ben took his responsibilities seriously. Not only did he have to solve Tony’s murder, but he had to find why someone was threatening Leigh and her son’s lives. He had to determine if there was a connection between the threats against her and the ones that seemed to be aimed at him. Leigh didn’t want to be around Ben very much, so as much as she could she avoided him. He still insisted she have an escort wherever she went. Sometimes it was Ben. She was afraid that eventually he would find out a ten-year-old secret that could disrupt her life and her son’s.

From the first page, this book is filled with action-packed suspense, mystery and tension. We wonder who killed Tony and why? Where is the flash drive Tony was concerned about? Who is Armero? Who is making threatening calls to Leigh? Why is Sheriff Ben Logan being targeted? Who shot his father, and is it related to Tony’s death? And with all this, Ben has to deal with Leigh’s return and his attraction to her. I enjoyed trying to solve the mysteries along with the sheriff. The author provides a few clues, but not too many; what’s given is not too obvious or blatant, so that at the conclusion there were plenty of surprises for the reader.

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I felt the balance between the action and character development was just right. Both Leigh and Ben had issues to work through that threw up barriers to their growing relationship. One barrier in particular bothered me, however. In an incident where Ben was a life guard at the lake beach area, one of the boys in his charge drowned. Even though he followed procedures exactly, the boy was lost. Since then, he has had panic attacks at moments where there may be triggers. To me this sounded more like the result of PTSD because of the flashback moments. No law enforcement officer should keep this a secret, but seek help for the symptoms and their cause, because not doing so puts the people he is trying to protect at risk. I felt this should have been written a little differently.

Other than that one issue, I loved the book and the premise. The author has created believable characters that come alive in the pages. We empathize with them, hurt with them. The action is riveting. The author has also done remarkable research so that the hospital scenes with the doctor, and the ambulance scenes felt authentic. I am eagerly looking forward to the next book from Patricia Bradley.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Revell’s reader’s club blog review program. 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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