Walk Like a Warrior

Personal note:
My 100-word story, The Wrong Suitcase, was posted on The Drabble e-zine yesterday. You can read it here.

And now for the BOOK REVIEW

WALK LIKE A WARRIOR
Inspirational True Stories of God’s Encouragement on the Trail Less-Traveled

Every now and then you read a book and afterward you want to tell all your friends, “You should read this! It’s inspiring, enlightening, and generally terrific.” Reading this book has challenged and strengthened my own faith.

Bruce & Shara Repka have traveled all over the western USA singing and ministering. They endeavor to follow the Lord’s leading and are keenly aware of his appointments. They enjoy the blessing of seeing his hand at work in people’s lives, learning lessons of faith, trust, patience. They’ve worked as trail hands rounding up cattle, ridden their horses over the canyons and badlands. They’ve spent time seeing and learning to love the rough-and-tumble crowds as God sees and loves them.

In Walk Like A Warrior they share a number of experiences, insights, and lessons learned. I really appreciated all the appropriate scripture verses accompanying each section.

I’ll admit I can’t totally identify with every experience these folks have had — but I don’t feel I need to judge anything here. If God chooses to bless them with miracles I haven’t observed personally, that’s up to him. As Shara brings out so well, the Lord leads his children in individual paths where we can fill our role as a light for Him. The couple share a number of answers to prayer that demonstrate God’s ability to meet our needs.

Here are some quotes I found particularly inspiring:

(While waiting patiently for a much-needed answer to prayer)
“Praising the Lord freed me from the begging, defeatist attitude.”

(Praise for an answer to prayer)
“God knows all about us — our innermost thoughts and desires. And He never forgets. He is concerned about the little things in our lives, even the ones we forget about.”

Bruce Repka’s advice re: waiting for God’s timing:
“Don’t let the devil talk you into making foolish decisions and then expect God to cover you and everything will be fine. God can, and will, turn every negative and bad thing around for good, but why go through the heartache and pain during the process of doing things He never told you to do? Wait on God and do what he tells you to do, making the decisions He tells you to make. The rewards are immeasurable.”

From the back page:
Bruce and Shara Repka (a.k.a. Pony Express Ministry) are a Christian country music ministry that travels the highways and backroads of the western United States with their two horses, Rocky and Nocona.

Traversing the countryside in their fourteen-foot, short-wall, three-stall, living quarters horse trailer, they travel and minister wherever God sends them. Their, and others’, inspirational true stories are a testament to how God reveals Himself and encourages us in our everyday lives. They have seen firsthand a real, loving, and powerful God who is always true to His word and who longs to have a personal relationship with us all.

In life’s challenging moments, do you search for testimonies of encouragement that exemplify God’s love, grace, protection, and provision? Find inspiration as you enjoy the many photographs and travel this trail with them, living the adventure! You can find them online at www.ponyexpressministry.com

I was given a free copy so I could write an honest online review.

 

 

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A Basketful of Bargains

A Basketful of Bargains
Life on Victoria Square #2

by Lorraine Bartlett

The book blurb says:
Iris Drake is an odd duck. She knows everyone at Artisans Alley arts-and-crafts arcade, but nobody knows her. When she walks into Gilda’s Gourmet Basket on Victoria Square, she’s a stranger there, too—but not for long. Yet she hasn’t to come to Gilda to buy her wares—she’s there to sell some of her own. All goes well until Iris’s secret is exposed. Should Gilda step in to make things right, or walk away from an unpleasant situation?

My opinion:
I just finished reading this neat little novella. Listed as 33 pages, it’s a quick read and well worth the effort. An inspiring story of the merchant who takes note of and befriends this strange lady with no money to spend and seemingly nowhere else to go. Totally out-of-date fashion-wise, it’s obvious Iris needs a friend. One day an incident in the store reveals why Iris seems so distant.

Books by Cindy Bell

Something Old, Something New — Part B

Author Cindy Bell has written a number of cozy mysteries and has several series on the go. I’ve read and liked four of her Dune House Cozy Mystery Series. I’d rate them at about 3.5 stars. She’s up to #11 in The Dune House series and her Sage Gardens series now.

I’ve also read three of her Heavenly Highland Inn Cozy Mystery Series and was rather unimpressed. Drama, but not a lot of logical behavior by the main characters. I see she has put out #7 in this series now. Bekki the Beautician is up to Book #14; there are four books in the Wendy, the Wedding Planner series plus a couple newer series just starting. So whatever else one might say about her, she’s certainly been prolific.

I find her books quite light reading, very simple plots. In the few I’ve read she tends toward stereotype characters rather than developed emotional ones. Behavior isn’t always very logical to human nature. Writing is pretty simple, too. However, she has lots of 4- and 5-Star reviews on Amazon.com.

The book I’m reviewing here, a relatively new one for this writer, I downloaded as a freebie and have given my honest opinion. Someday I may read more in the series just to see if the characters start to behave more like normal people in later books.

Birthdays Can Be Deadly (Sage Gardens Cozy Mystery Book 1)
by Cindy Bell
(Feb 2015)

James, a resident of Sage Gardens retirement community, dies suddenly during his birthday party. The official word is that he died of a heart attack, but three other don’t accept this story and set out to discover the truth.

The story starts out with a lot of narration, the writer telling us about the characters and what they are thinking. IMO the story would be quite improved by showing us, through the use of dialog and sharp action, instead of a lot of flat statements. So much narrative, done in short sentences, makes the book’s opening chapters rather boring. For example:

“Walt always felt at ease around Samantha. She never forced him to do anything, but he always ended up doing anything that she asked. When he had first moved into Sage Gardens she brought him a basket of muffins to welcome him. He appreciated that each was individually wrapped, and there were exactly six. He liked things to be even. She had struck up a conversation and Walt had been surprised that he didn’t mind her company. Instead he found it to be quite enjoyable.”

As the story unfolds the action does speed up and dialogue replaces so much telling, but the characters, especially the retired cop, are unrealistic, overly scowling, self-righteous and yet breaking the law himself. Bullying people into confessing may be standard fare on police dramas, but it isn’t natural or likely in a casual setting where people don’t have to talk.

“Make them mad enough and they’ll spill it all,” is the theory. So the amateur sleuth gets in suspects’ and witnesses’ faces, demanding, insulting, infuriating, and the victim tells everything they know. I sure wouldn’t! Maybe writers do this to save the sleuth some tedious detective work? It definitely shortened this story.

The ending scene seems overly melodramatic and not very well thought out. A reader has to suspend a lot of common sense in order to swallow this scene as written, especially the part about an intelligent man thinking he can dispose of evidence by throwing it out the window.

I’m giving this book three stars. As light, easy reading and as a mystery, it’s average. It could be better written and the characters could be more believable, but if a reader likes touches of melodrama and isn’t too worried about realism or legalities, this story works

Books: Reed Ferguson, PI

This Doesn’t Happen In The Movies
The Reed Ferguson Mystery Series, Book 1

by Renee Pawlish
Click here to view on Amazon.com

Reed Ferguson has always wanted to be a Private Eye and it looks like he’s finally getting his chance. Thanks to an inheritance from his grandparents he’s opened an office and hung out his shingle. Being a devoted fan of Humphrey Bogart and noir detective movies he hangs up a poster of Bogie and Lauren Bacall, as they appeared in The Big Sleep, on his wall “as a sort of inspiration.”

Enter his first real customer: a woman with a missing husband. Peter Ghering disaappeared on a business trip and his wife, Amanda, claims she wants him found. But does she really? Reed has some serious doubts by the time he’s heard her story. An inner voice is telling him to fear this femme fatale, but it’s his first real case, his first serious crack at being a professional gumshoe.

At least he tried to be professional but he’s new to this game and his skills are pretty amateur. Long on bravado, short on forethought. To complicate matters, what starts out as a simple investigation opens up a writhing can of worms for the new Sam Slade wanna-be. The wife hasn’t been up-front with all the facts; she’s actually hired him to expose the women her husband’s been dallying with on his business trips. Little by little Reed uncovers a plot and subplot that would tax Philip Marlowe’s private eye skills.

What really happened to the successful businessman? What will happen to his wife, who wanted him to disappear so she could inherit? And what will happen to Reed if he continues to be involved in this case? Some late night visitors make it plain that they won’t tolerate his efforts to ferret out the truth.

A very well written, well edited book. The writer obviously knows her craft and has constructed a plot that will keep a reader up late at night trying to find out how this story ends. No erotic or immoral scenes in this book, but some off-color language.

I’ve read several books now by this same author and one thing I do like about them is the paucity of dead bodies. There are some, but in the books I’ve read Reed mostly engages in finding lost spouses, pets (The Maltese Felon), etc. In that sense these stories remind me of the Hardy Boys. So if you like a tamer “noir fiction,” tones of Bogie mixed with the wit of Peter Falk and the impulsive courage of Frank & Joe Hardy, you will probably like this series.

Personal Note:
Up late last night typing up this book review when, around midnight, I started to notice a skunk-ish aroma. It grew increasingly powerful, must have had a disagreement with some other critter very nearby so we spend a pretty restless night trying to escape the smell. And with the temp outside almost freezing, you don’t open windows to air things out. 🙂

We’re also besieged by box elder beetles, a.k.a. “maple bugs.” They summer outdoors and once cool weather comes, thousands of them crawl into houses and other warm places to spend the winter. We vacuum them up steadily but there are always a dozen more when we look again.

Burying my head under the covers last night, I was wishing the skunk odor would at least fumigate the bugs. 😦

Book Review: Tangled in Time

TANGLED IN TIME

Miss Main Street Book 1
By Angela Castillo

Although the book description hints at a mystery, I found no suspense and not much tension anywhere in the story. The pace is day-by-day leisurely with lots of setting details. Romance isn’t the main focus of the book, either. I see this more as chick-lit or general fiction with a romantic interest and elements of Christian fiction.

The main character, Darcy, has inherited her grandmother’s antique store in Wimber, Texas, and is determined to make it a viable business. There first few chapters are full of description, as recalls past summer holidays here, settles into her new property and prepares for opening day. Thoughts about God, his plan, a scripture verse and/or prayer are mentioned now and then.

Mention is also made occasionally of her grandmother’s secret closet and Darcy’s determined to open it and discover the contents; I guess this is the mystery angle. Another is the annoying town merchant who causes trouble and worry to the new owner. But why? Plus Darcy has the general stress of getting her store up and running and dealing with past and present love interests.

I think she comes across as wimpy when she’s avoids breaking up with her LA boyfriend. She thinks “It’s over” and he should realize it, yet she doesn’t voice her thoughts, dodges the unpleasant good-bye, ignores his calls, then sends him a “break-up text.” When he shows up wanting to know what gives, she thinks he’s self-absorbed and rude — labels that could apply to her behavior as well at this point. However, all we learn about the men in the story is through her feelings about them. This is what makes me think chick-lit: events are told only through her eyes; no other perspectives are given.

The book is well written and edited; I found only three minor typos. As a bonus, this book brings to light some interesting Texas history. The story flows along smoothly, if rather slowly — which suits the small-town feel — and the conclusion is satisfying. It’s light, clean reading for those who don’t want a lot of drama, terror, or sexual details.

I was given a free copy of this book from the Story Cartel in exchange for an honest review.

Travel Tales from Exotic Places

BOOK REVIEW

Travel Tales from Exotic Places Like Salford

by Julian Worker

I received a copy from Story Cartel a few years back and posted this review on my blog, Christine Composes. I’ll reprint my thoughts for the benefit of new readers who may not have heard of this interesting book — which is still available on Amazon and Kobo.

You need to take your time with this book, savoring it like chocolate truffles, and it’s set up in sections so you can do that. Rather than using chronological order the writer divides his book geographically, describing spots tourists would most likely want to visit and giving directions on how to get there, as well as some encounters he’s had with the locals.

Mr Worker gives some historical background as well as thorough details of the area he’s writing about. By the time I was done reading about some of these places I was ready to pack my bags and go! His description of the soccer/football match had me cheering, too, though I have no interest in that sport. And his last few pages about his trials with customs inspectors and linguistic misunderstandings made me chuckle.

I found this book intelligently written, well crafted and well edited. The writer shows due respect and sensitivity to various cultures and customs. If you enjoy visiting other countries or reading about others’ travels, you will really enjoy this book.

I notice the author has done another travel book as well, titled Julian’s Journeys.

Tuesday Tales

Hello everyone! I’d like to give a special welcome to all the new readers who have “Followed” me this summer and fall so far. I hope you’ll find some enjoyable and interesting articles, poems, etc., here.

Time has moved on and fall has definitely arrived in our area. Most of the fields have been harvested, now golden round bales of straw sit in what were once wheat fields around us. Sandhill cranes have returned, stopping to glean for a few weeks on their way south. They are particularly fond of the field across the road so we often see them and their glub-glub-glubbing fills the air. It’s amazing how such big birds can sound like bullfrogs!

Our weather has been terrific for the farmers; today we’re having the first rain in over a month. My sympathy to those of you who have been swirled and tossed in storms and had the Caribbean Sea dumped on you. I hope you’re getting some sunny days so you can dry out and pick up the pieces. We, on the other hand, are hoping for enough rain to fill our sloughs again; a lot of them have been bone dry for several weeks now.

Our children and grandchildren came over for Sunday dinner and afternoon — always an enjoyable way to pass the time — and in the evening we went to listen to the young people singing at the Villa retirement home where I used to cook. This they do on the third Sunday evening of every month and it’s inspiring to sit and listen as they sing a dozen songs or so. I spent a couple of hours there this morning, too, visiting with one senior lady having coffee and helping do a jigsaw they had on the go.

I haven’t been doing much book promotion since Silver Morning Song went live on Amazon and Kobo, but I did join Goodreads last week. Today I listed my books in their author promo program. Trouble is, visiting all these helpful sites like Goodreads and LinkedIn takes time, especially reading over the valuable discussions on how to write and market your work. I find lists of great books others are reading plus other authors like myself who are eager to have someone read and review their book. So I volunteered to write a review for one book through Goodreads and one through Story Cartel.

Speaking of book promotions, Pastor J S Park sent out an e-mail saying that since this was Suicide Awareness Prevention Month, he was giving away his book about depression: How Hard It Really Is. Check his blog for details:  Book on Depression free this month.

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s also National Literacy Awareness Month in the US. I’m thinking we finally won’t have enough months for all the special events that want to have one of their own.

Yesterday we took a trip to the city and I walked down the aisle at the Dollarama seeing all the Christmas decorations on display already. By now the Halloween stuff is almost passé. This does get a little ridiculous. 😦

I asked a question on a Goodreads forum this morning; now I’ll ask it here as well. I’d like to study some good examples writing in the omniscient point of view. That is, a story told as if by a “narrator” watching the drama, describing the scenes, making observations about the characters and what they’re thinking, but not as a character in the story. Do you have any suggestions of novels written this way?

So what are your goals for the next few months? Leave a comment and tell me what you have planned.