Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Deadlock by DiAnn Mills

★★★★ ☐ The publisher has provided a copy for review.
Bethany Sanchez is determined to be professional on the job, no matter how dysfunctional her family. Thatcher Graves (... I know... the names!) is looking out for her as they become friends as well as work partners. Some of the story lines were a stretch - but the story kept moving forward and drew me in.

I didn't see the cover until I'd finished the book: I was expecting more detecting and less romance. The teamwork and complication of relationships was fun to explore. I'd be happy to read the next book in the series to get to know the people in the story better.

Recommended for light reading when you want to be entertained rather than educated.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

All Is Calm, All Is Bright A Colleen Coble Christmas Collection by Colleen Coble

★★★☐☐ The publisher has provided a copy for review.
Two shortish stories in one. If you like animals, enjoy stories of feisty women, and are ready for a tale of romance in the Wild West of a ranch, you'll enjoy Coble's story.

Lauren takes her life into her own hands and runs from her involvement as a witness to crime. Her boss needs to recover from illness. They hide out together ... but a killer is after them.

An easy read that will amuse and entertain. Read the second novelette on a trip from here to there during the holidays. You won't be smarter, but you may feel like you get there faster.

Life and Other Near-Death Experiences by Camille Pagán

★★★★ ☐ The publisher has provided a copy for review.
What happens when your whole life unravels? Challenges of health, relationships, marriage?

You take time off to evaluate and refocus, even when time is short.

At times humorous, other times poignant and sad, the novel takes us into the process of dealing with a terminal illness. Libby takes herself from her routines, shakes up her world by traveling and trying new adventures, and considers what's important to her after she's diagnosed with cancer.

This is not fun reading but encourages emotional engagement and consideration of what it means to be human.

Church History (Vol. 1) From Christ to Pre-Reformation by Everett Ferguson

★★★★ ☐ The publisher has provided a copy for review.
This text is a worthy addition to the church history library, beginning with the setting for the New Testament and the life of Jesus. It explores the early writings of the Church and categorizes the Church Fathers in simple charts and paragraphs.

This is an excellent reference for beginners, introducing them to church history in the cultural context. The illustrations and maps are useful additions to the text. Resources are provided at the end of most chapters for deeper study.

I'd recommend it.

Between Midnight and Dawn A Literary Guide to Prayer for Lent, Holy Week, and Eastertide, compiled by Sarah Arthur

★★★★★  The publisher provided a copy for review before publication.
I read a draft (not yet completely formatted), but I look forward to reading this again during Lent. Sarah Arthur compiles historical readings in poetry and prose with prayers and time for reflection.

Each week of readings is designed to draw us into the story of God with us. The combination of secular and sacred writers based around a theme is compelling. I can't wait to explore the literature in the season before Easter.

Well worth adding to the library. Will help those considering options for celebrating spiritual disciplines during the Lenten season of reading, contemplation, and silence.

Tough Justice: Exposed (Part 1 of 8) by Carla Cassidy

★★★★ ☐ The publisher has provided a copy for review.
I'm not quite sure where this is headed, but it was an exciting story so far.

Sometimes it's easier to leave the past behind than at other times. Agent Lara Grant brought down a crime boss and required protection. Now she's gotten her life back after coming out of a witness protection program. When she is tracked, singled out, and identified, she stays on the job.

But her life goes off the rails. The internal turmoil is well-described. The author wrestles us into scene after scene, wondering what is coming. if you like crime dramas shot through with romance, you may find a compelling reading.

I can't wait to read what happens next.

Just Fall A Novel by Nina Sadowsky

★★★☐☐ The publisher has provided a copy for review.
This was by turns exciting and confusing, hence the mixed review. The book goes back and forth between locations and times. 

I rooted for, hated, and wanted justice for the characters. By turns, I was angry and sickened, and then felt hope and sympathy for them. There was a ton of violence - that seemed overdone and shocked me. I don't read many murder mysteries. 

Maybe the author intended to develop the characters through action rather than description. I kept hoping for redemption. I'm not sure what I left with.

The Dogs of Littlefield by Suzanne Berne

★★★★★  The publisher has provided a copy for review.
I was surprised to like this as much as I did. The characters kept me interested the more I learned more about them. 

The reality of marriage and family challenges, of neighbors and neighborhoods, of what we assume about people we meet ... all these made this book fun to read.

Dogs are being poisoned and no one knows who's behind it. Who are the dogs of Littlefield and who wants them out of the way? 

Read this novel and find out.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Tiny Games for Work by Hide Seek

★★★★ ☐ The publisher has provided a copy for review

Having a long day at work? Might be time to wake it up with a few diversions. That is ... games.

This was a fun book. The illustrations are amusing and none of the games is difficult or complicated. They use simple materials that we find in most offices (or no supplies at all).

The interactions are a great way to rethink how you respond to people and information on the job. If you're getting bored with the same-old same-old work routines, grab Tiny Games and wake up enough to get yourself back on track.

You might discover the people who work next to you or just down the hall are a lot more fun than you first thought, too.

Practical Sins for Cold Climates by Shelley Costa

★★★★ ☐ The publisher has provided a copy for review

Take a trip far from city life with Val Cameron, Senior Editor, who is sent on an assignment by her boss. Far from the lights of New York, she takes up a challenge to get a contract signed for personal as well as professional reasons. I initially picked this up and put it down. Then I started over.

And I’m glad I did. The unexpected turns in the story became more and more interesting. The trip through the wilderness unfolds with vivid descriptions of water and land, making the mystery come alive. Stories within stories made me wonder what would happen next. The bravery of the characters – doing the kept me engaged.

AS a Canadian who lived in the USA, I enjoyed the description of the Ontario lakes = from the viewpoint of an American city-dweller. I ended up really enjoying the plot and the outcome. Worth reading.