19 January 2017

Review: Authentic Living by Richard Exley


Authentic Living: 365 Devotions for Deliberate Faith. 



I liked the sound of the title. I liked the description. Unfortunately, the content didn’t match up.


The Amazon description says:

To live an authentic, fulfilled life we need to both understand and practice the core beliefs of the Christian faith. Being intentional about pursuing Christ is often challenging in our confusing, messy world, but like the biblical character Daniel who did not compromise his values, we must take small, deliberate steps to grow in spiritual integrity. The short, inspirational devotions in Authentic Living illustrate how we can be more deliberate in our faith each and every day through small actions like asking forgiveness, offering guidance, praying specifically, and more. With these simple yet profound readings, we can realize a more fulfilling life and faith one thought, one action, one day at a time.

Well, the devotions are certainly short. And simple. Profound? Not so much. At least, not for anyone who has read the Bible and has anything more than a basic understanding of the core beliefs of Christianity. And I certainly didn’t see it illustrating how to be more intentional or deliberate or authentic in my faith … which was what I was interested in.

I haven’t read the whole book, and I’m unlikely to. I can’t tell you how far I’ve got, because all the days run together in my review copy, with no dates or even ‘Day 1’, ‘Day 2’ etc. to separate them (which got a little confusing at times, as he often speaks on the same theme for several consecutive days. And that got a little repetitive).

It’s not bad. It’s all good, solid stuff. It’s biblical. It’s preaching God, not man. It’s just not what I was looking for.

Thanks to Worthy Publishing and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.


17 January 2017

Review: Counterpoint by Marji Lane

New Romantic Suspense Series


Amazon Description


Someone is determined to finish a murdered hit man's final assignment.

Her father's gone. Her diner's closing. Her car's in the lake. Cat McPherson has nothing left to lose. Except her life. And a madman's bent on taking that away.

Her former boyfriend, Ray Alexander, returns as a hero from his foreign mission, bringing back souvenirs in the form of death-threats. When several attempts are made on Cat’s life, she must find a way to trust Ray, the man who broke her heart.

Keeping Cat safe from a fallen cartel leader might prove impossible for Ray, but after seeing his mission destroyed and several godly people killed, he knows better than to ignore the man’s threats. Cat’s resistance to his protection and the stirring of his long-denied feelings for her complicate his intentions, placing them both in a fight for their lives.

Can she survive when ultimate power wants her dead?

My Review

I didn't enjoy this as much as I enjoyed Marji Lane’s previous Grime Beat series. The writing and editing might be better in Counterpoint, but the characters didn’t have the same enjoyable quirkiness as those in Grime Beat (hey, I think there is something intrinsically interesting about someone who makes a living cleaning up crime scenes). And it probably didn’t help that I guessed the identity of the evildoer too early, so spent half the book wondering when Cat and Ray would catch on (frustrating!)

The other frustrating thing was it was obvious Cat and Ray should be together, but Ray has male issues i.e. don’t sit down and have a sensible conversation about why you left your high school sweetheart without telling her. Just be the strong, silent type and tell yourself it’s never going to happen. Of course it’s never going to happen if you don’t do anything! Men. No matter whether it’s fiction or real life, they’re always last on board with the idea of talking about problems. On the other hand, it’s that frustration which kept me turning the pages. Will they or won’t they? Is this suspense, or am I going to get the romance hit I’m looking for?

However, there was plenty of suspense and that kept me turning the pages. There was the obvious—was someone trying to kill Cat (yes), and who? Then there was the question about the diner, and the ministry it supported—would Cat get to keep the diner? How would she keep feeding the homeless?

Then there were Cat’s own feelings of inadequacy, which were a classic lesson in how other people always see us differently to how we see ourselves. Cat worried that she wasn’t the minister her father was, that she wasn’t doing a good enough job in sharing the gospel of Jesus. Yet it was obvious to me, the reader, she was doing more than most of us, and she was using her gifts to the best of her ability. That’s all God asks of any of us.

Overall, a solid thriller with excellent characters, lots of action, and a strong underlying Christian message.

Thanks to the author for providing a free ebook for review.

16 January 2017

Behind the Scenes of Shoba Sadler's CHILD OF DUST


http://clashofthetitles.com

Today we'll sit down to chat with Shoba Sadler, author of the contemporary title Child of Dust. Shoba will take us behind the scenes of her unique new novel and give us a glimpse into her writing.

Shoba, why did you choose to write this type of novel?

Social status and cultural barriers makes for great conflict. Child of Dust is like a modern-day classic of Romeo and Juliet only instead of opposing families, these lovers, Kim and Bryan have cultural and social barriers to contend with.

Kim, the rich and spoilt socialite who loses her money is taken under the wing of her reluctant chauffeur, Bryan, who has his own struggles to deal with. They find love under the most unexpected circumstances.

Can you tell us why you started with an Asian setting for your first two novels?

I was founder of Agape Christian magazine in Malaysia. I also freelanced for the leading English, secular newspaper in Malaysia, The Star. My feature stories forThe Star were several page write-ups with gorgeous photos. Many of my stories were selected by the features editor to be cover stories as well.

As I interviewed people all over the world for Agape, I saw God moving powerfully in Asia and yet there were so few stories coming from there especially in the Christian romance genre.

In Asia, Christianity is seen very much as a Western culture. Yet so many Asians have had powerful encounters with Jesus Christ. Then there is the struggle to validate their faith in the midst of culture, tradition, loss of identity, social stigma and so on.

There alone you have so much material for backdrop, tension, drama, conflict and final resolution.

An example of what I mean can be seen in my short story Finding Enlightenmentthat was awarded second place at faithwriters.com. It can be read here:http://www.faithwriters.com/wc-article-level3-previous.php?id=54362

Talk a little about your unique setting.
When I read novels I am drawn to the backdrop and setting. A great description of the setting subtly woven into the story is what makes the difference between being a narrator who takes a person on a journey through his "telling" and a facilitator who steps out of the way altogether to allow the reader to explore the journey on his own. The writer should aim to be the facilitator and not the narrator.

There is nothing like a great setting to make the reader feel like they are there with the characters. It is like the difference between watching a 2D and 3D movie.

Unfortunately, many formulaic romance novels that are churned out in quick production-line succession fails to capture this allure of setting because it takes research and time. It is also not easy to write setting discreetly in the background and that is the only way to write it. Otherwise it will seem like reading lecture notes instead of a story.

I read one review of a multi-cultural romance set in an Asian country where the reviewer said she felt like she was reading a tour company's brochure and that is the wrong emotion to invoke.

So another reason I wrote Child of Dust was to give romance readers a chance to explore unique settings and backdrops not normally experienced by a reader in the current trend of romance novels available out there.

We'd love to hear a little about the historical background for your novel. Will you talk about that?

The main character, Bryan, Kim's chauffeur has been deeply affected by the Vietnam war in the sense that he is the illegitimate child of an American GI and a Vietnamese woman. This historical background sets a different dimension to the story and adds intrigue and authenticity.

Who would you say is the audience for this novel?

Child of Dust is an appealing read for anyone. As I have also written for the secular press, I am able to write in a manner that appeals to all walks of life both Christian and non-Christian. I have had non-Christians tell me they were so engrossed in the story that they didn't not notice the message of the gospel woven into the story. Yet that message is undoubtedly there.



I am an inspirational writer and everyone loves a good inspirational story just as they love watching a Hallmark movie.



What readers have to say about the novel:
"Make sure when getting ready to read Child of Dust that you don't have anything else planned for the day, you won't be able to put this book down. I could go on and on about this book. Highly and strongly recommend it. Is it possible to give a book 10 stars?" 
--- Deborah Dunson, reviewer at The Edgier Christian Fiction Fan


"I found the writing of this story to be close to excellent.... I found this book to be one of the most enjoyable books I have read in a long time. It was interesting, the story kept moving along, and I learned a lot as I read this story. I found myself intrigued with the constant difficulties faced by the protagonists – and their stories were presented so much more like real life stories than any other book I have read in a long, long time." 
--- Marina, Community Writer, California

"This novel has a consistent rhythm, adding surprise after surprise, twisting our emotions at each new difficulty Kim faces. I couldn't put this book down, waiting to see if any or all the ends would be tired up. I would actually like to see the novel transcend into a movie. An amazing read." 
--- Brices Mice Christian Book Reviews



About Child of Dust: 

Beautiful but spoilt Vietnamese socialite, Cao Kim Lye, learns of her parents shocking death from the dashing Amerasian family chauffeur, Bryan Nguyen.

Kim steps out of a world of crystal and chandelier to enter the dust and chaos of working-class Hanoi. She finds herself living under the roof of a shop cum living quarters with Bryan and his adoptive family.

Ever conscious of the privileged class, Kim struggles against the emotional ties she forms towards Bryan, the reluctant saviour, who considers her an unnecessary hitch to his already complicated life.

He still bears the scars of abandonment by his mother and his American GI father when U.S. troops pulled out of Vietnam.

Eventually Bryan and Kim's powerful attraction to each other begins to break down the wall between them.



About the author: 

Shoba Sadler has been a journalist for 20 years and founder of Agape magazine in Malaysia. She is a versatile inspirational author that likes to write in multiple genres. She has pioneered a new genre in Christian multi-cultural writing with her novel Child of Dust and her many award-winning short stories can be read here http://shobasadler.com/?page_id=250

Her passion for writing is matched only by her passion for cooking with farm fresh produce. She lives a healthy lifestyle on a farm with her husband, Kevin, a talented musician, who also loves to surf and ski. They grow their own vegetables and fruits and share their home with a multitude of animals and wildlife. They are passionate about buying directly from local farmers who practice organic farming.

12 January 2017

Review: An Uncommon Courtship by Kristi Ann Hunter

A Must for Christian Regency Romance Fans!


Lord Trent Hawthorne has just got married … a forced marriage of honour to Lady Abigail Bell, daughter of one of the most irritating women he knows. Being forced into marriage to salvage Abigail’s reputation isn’t how he’d planned on marrying, but it’s a done deed and he has to make the best of it. But he has no idea how to be a husband.

And Abigail has no idea how to be a wife. All she knows is that she doesn’t want to be the kind of wife (or mother) her mother is. After an awkward first week of marriage, Trent decides they need to get to know each other before they can have a real marriage, so he decides he needs to court his wife. An uncommon courtship, to be sure.

An Uncommon Courtship has two awkward characters in an awkward situation, and Hunter tells their story with skill and wit. An Uncommon Courtship is Christian Regency Romance. It follows all the Regency Romance normal conventions, except that both Trent and Abigail are Christians, which gives the plot added depth.

Trent is a true gentleman. He’s been forced into this marriage, but is determined to get to know Abigail and turn it into a real marriage. He makes a lot of mistakes, but he’s always willing to fix them (once he actually realises he’s made a mistake. He is a male, so that sometimes takes a while).

Abigail also makes her share of mistakes, although she isn’t as good at fixing them. Not because she doesn’t want to, but more because she’s spent her life being dominated by her mother and doesn’t actually know how to deal with Trent—who is the complete opposite of her unprincipled mother. Mother is a piece of work, and it’s good to see both Abigail and Trent learn how to deal with her.


This is Kristi Ann Hunter’s fourth book in this series, and it’s as good as the previous stories (and has the advantage of being able to be read as a standalone novel—Trent and Abigail dominate the first part of the novel, while the characters from the earlier stories are reintroduced in the second half).

Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Kristi Ann Hunter at her website

10 January 2017

I'm Reviewing Buried Memories by Carol J Pot at Suspense Sisters Reviews

I'm over at Suspense Sisters Reviews today, reviewing Buried Memories by Carol J Post.


Click here to read my review. Here's the Amazon book description:

FORGOTTEN PAST

After her broken engagement, Nicki Jackson hoped her move to Cedar Key would give her a fresh start—instead she quickly learns someone's out to destroy her. Are the attacks tied to her mother's recently reopened murder case…or to the nightmares Nicki's beginning to suspect are actually hidden memories? With the threats against her escalating, former soldier Tyler Brant vows to keep Nicki safe. He refuses to lose the woman who's swiftly becoming more than a childhood crush. But when danger circles closer, is Nicki's traumatic past better left forgotten…or are her memories the key to something far more sinister?