Friday, August 26, 2016

The Long Journey of Jake Palmer by Jim Rubart

What if there was a place where everything wrong in your life could be fixed?
Corporate trainer Jake Palmer coaches people to see deeper into themselves—yet he barely knows himself anymore. Recently divorced and weary of the business life, Jake reluctantly agrees to a lake-house vacation with friends, hoping to escape for ten days.
When he arrives, Jake hears the legend of Willow Lake—about a lost corridor that leads to a place where one’s deepest longings will be fulfilled.
Jake scoffs at the idea, but can’t shake a sliver of hope that the corridor is real. And when he meets a man who mutters cryptic speculations about the corridor, Jake is determined to find the path, find himself, and fix his crumbling life.
But the journey will become more treacherous with each step Jake takes.

Coming off the success of the “Well Spring” novels, Jim Rubart has written two additional novels.  The first one, “The Five Times I Met Myself” and now most recently, “The Long Journey of Jake Palmer”.  Take your pick on which to read first as you’ll want to read them both.  But let’s talk about his newest novel, “The Long Journey of Jake Palmer”.

If you had a “do-over”, would you?  Jake’s life was on a path that anyone would have wanted.  Great job and a great wife, who could ask for more.  Then the unthinkable happened and his life changed in ways he may not be able to come to grips with.  Fast forward 18 months later and Jake is finally beginning to come back out of his shell.  A yearly trip with a group of friends,  that he avoided last year, has hit the 10 year mark and he gives in and decides to go.  A “coincidental” run-in with a seatmate on an airplane leads him to recommend a new lake for the trip.  The legend has it that there’s a corridor that will lead to a place where his deepest longings will be fulfilled.  Jake is sure that all he needs to do to get his life back on track is to find the corridor and go through it.   Is it real?  Can anyone enter the corridor? What happens when you leave?  Don’t just sit there, head down to your favorite bookstore and BUY THIS BOOK!!

Can I see myself as this character?  If I can answer yes to that question, then I think the author has done the remarkable because he’s made me believe in the character and therefore believe in the story.  What would I do if my life encountered a train wreck and then I heard of a chance to undo that which has gone wrong?  The author spends a lot of time around discussing what the label on our bottle says (what others think about us) in contrast to what we think about ourselves.  Does that label change based on who we’re around?  Can others see things in us that we don’t see?  I love a book that entertains me, but also drives me to consider a deeper perspective.  This book definitely did that!

Is this a "guy's book"?  No action, no intrigue and nothing blows up, but you won’t want to miss this book.  If you allow it, this book will push you to look harder at your “label” and decide if you’d want to do it all again if you had a chance.  For this guy, my label says all it needs to say.

About The Author

Grew up: Pacific Northwest: Seattle, Spokane, Kirkland, WA
College: University of Washington. B.A. in broadcast journalism
Work history: Started off on air at a radio station, then went into sales
Other job: Since ’94 I’ve owned an ad agency/marketing firm.

Favorite memories: They come from jumping off cliffs with my boys, water skiing together, long walks & talks with my wife, and going deep with friends.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Things We Knew by Catherine West

After her mother’s death twelve years ago, Lynette Carlisle watched her close-knit family unravel. One by one, her four older siblings left their Nantucket home and never returned. All seem to harbor animosity toward their father, silently blaming him for their mother’s death. Nobody will talk about that dreadful day, and Lynette can’t remember a bit of it.
But when next-door neighbor Nicholas Cooper returns to Nantucket, he brings the past with him. But Nick has no intention of telling Lynette the truth. Besides the damage it might cause his own family, he doesn’t want to risk harming the fragile friendship between him and the woman he once thought of as a kid sister.

Let’s try something new, “he said”.  Let’s pick an author that writes like nothing you would normally read, “he said”.  You’ll enjoy it, “he said”.  It’ll stretch your reading limits, “he said”.  Boy, I’m glad ““he said”” all those things because this was one good book!

We’ve all been there.  A house full of kids and two doting parents.  Fast forward to the present and those kids are out on their own with no time to come back to the nest.  Life moves fast and sometimes families move further apart.  Lynette is the youngest of 5 children and the only one to remain at home.  With the death of her mother twelve years ago and everyone else out of the house, the care of the family homestead and her father has fallen on her.  As her father sinks deeper into the grips of Alzheimer’s, Lynette is pushed to the brink of frustration as the repairs and upkeep on the family home become more than she can handle.  She calls for all of the siblings to reconvene to discuss their next steps as there has to be a solution.  Nicholas Cooper, the neighbor with a history with Lynette, is home and all of those past feelings bubble up to the surface again.  This time, though, he may be bringing more than she can handle.  Can the kids agree on a medical plan for their father?  Will Lynette get help in dealing with their home?  What is all the secrecy around her mother’s death and what does Nick know about it?  Before things get too much for you to remember, head on down and BUY THIS BOOK!!

I’m not sure that I would have selected this book without the father in the book.  My mother was diagnosed 4 years ago with Alzheimer’s and it has been a daily struggle for her with this disease.  Though his character isn’t a major player, the inner workings of the family due to his illness are.  The upheaval of the everyday life for Lynette is written expertly. I found myself near tears in several points as I recognized events my mother would go through and thought how the author had captured it perfectly.  The story is so much more than that, though, so don’t get me wrong.  The author has taken 5 very different people and brought them back to manage life, together.  I “watched” all of this unfold in the pages of this book and was mesmerized by how graceful the author orchestrated the differences into a complete family. 

Is this a "guy's book"?  I won’t lie and say that it is.  It is a thought-provoking, heart-breaking look at a typical family when all the children have grown.  There’s a touch of suspense and intrigue built around the death of the mother that may hold your attention, but don’t miss out on this book for any reason.

Get to Know Catherine West
What’s your go-to activity to get out of writer’s block?
I like to do something active like walking or swimming, working in the garden. This gets me moving but also allows me to think and mull over new ideas.
When you were in kindergarten, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I think I always wanted to be a writer. I also enjoyed painting, but reading and writing were my thing from a very young age.
Favorite ice cream flavor:
Haagan Daz Macadamia Nut Brittle
If you had an extra room in your house, what would you use it for?
I would love to have the time to take up painting again, so I’d make an art studio.
What is the farthest place from home you’ve ever been?
South Africa
What book are you currently reading?
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
If you were a given a gift card to any restaurant, where would you want to eat?
An intimate, quiet place by the sea with great Italian food!
What was the best birthday present you ever received?
Ah, this one’s easy! I celebrated my 50 last year, and my husband surprised me by bringing my sister and her husband, as well as my son and his girlfriend, who all live in the US, down to Bermuda, and threw me a big party, too!
When do your best ideas come to you? Early morning or late at night?
Any time really. Usually when I’m doing dishes or something other than writing.
What task do you dread doing each day (or week)?
Grocery shopping! Hands down.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion, as part of their Book Review Blogger 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.”

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Without Warning by Lynette Eason

Kate Singleton is a bodyguard with The Elite Guardian Protection Agency. Her new assignment is to find out why restaurant owner Daniel Matthews has become a target of someone who wants him out of business.  He is unsure if a woman bodyguard is what he needs, until a 2nd attack.  Now he and Katie are on a mission to figure out who is behind the threats before another strike.

When you mention Christian Suspense Fiction, there may be several authors that come to mind.  I will tell you that if you don’t think of Lynette Eason as a part of that list, then you must be living under a rock somewhere.  Here tag line is “Infinite Suspense” and it couldn’t be more truthful as she continues to churn out some great suspense novels and she doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

We were introduced to the Elite Guardian Protection Agency in the first book, “Always Watching”.  It was there we met Olivia Edwards the owner of the agency.  This time, we welcome Kate Singleton into our lives and hope that she is as successful at protecting clients as Olivia was.  In no time at all, we see that Daniel seems to have made someone mad.  Between the body hanging in the basement of his restaurant to the fire breaking out at another, it’s become pretty evident to his niece that that he needs someone watching out for him.  She places a call to The Elite Guardian Protection Agency and Kate comes to the rescue.  As the attacks continue “Without Warning” (hahaha), Kate must struggle to stay one step ahead to keep Daniel safe.  Who could be behind this attacks? Did Daniel’s niece make the right decision to call in Kate?  Can they stop them before it’s too late?  Hire your own private detective to hunt this book down and GO BUY THIS BOOK!!!

This is the second book of the Elite Guardian series.  Aside from the fact that Kate works for the Elite Guardian Protection Agency, you really wouldn’t know that the 2 books are related.  That being said, don’t miss the first book in this series as it is just as much an intense suspense-filled ride as this book.  I love the wit that Ms. Eason applies to her characters, the sense that they are people that you root for and miss once you read the final word.  That to me is what creates a great book, one that is memorable and you want to continue to visit with the characters as often as you can.  This book grabs you from the start and doesn’t let go until the final scene, twisting and turning around every page.

Is this a "guy's book"?  Any book that has a hanging body and offers buildings on fire is definitely a guy’s book.  Throw in all of the other great twists and chasing the whodunit part of the book and you’ve got a book that any guy won’t be able to put down.

About the Author:

Lynette Eason grew up in Greenville, SC. After graduating from the University of South Carolina with a Business Degree she used for a very short time, she moved to Spartanburg, SC to attend Converse College where she obtained her Masters degree in Education. She started her teaching career at the South Carolina School for the deaf and blind. In 1996, she met the man she would marry—the boy next door!   She is married to Jack Eason, who speaks, leads worship, and consults ministries around the country. They have two teenage children.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion, as part of their Book Review Blogger 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.”

Friday, August 5, 2016

When Death Draws Near by Carrie Stuart Parks

Death has always been part of Gwen Marcey’s job. But when faced with her own mortality, everything takes on a different hue.

Forensic artist Gwen Marcey is between jobs and homes when she accepts temporary work in Pikeville, Kentucky. The Eastern Kentucky town, located deep in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, has been plagued by a serial rapist and a series of unexplained deaths. Before Gwen can develop a composite drawing, the latest witness vanishes, just like all the previous victims.

Turning her attention to sketching the face of an unidentified body, she discovers a link between his death and a Pentecostal serpent-handling church. Serpent-handling is illegal in Kentucky, and the churches have gone underground to avoid the authorities and continue to worship as they believe. Gwen is offered a handsome reward to infiltrate the renegade members, a reward she desperately needs as it seems her breast cancer has returned.

Joined by her digitally-obsessed, Generation Z daughter, Gwen goes undercover to a nineteenth century revival, planning to draw the faces of the snake handlers so they can be identified and arrested. Instead she uncovers a murderous plot and a festering evil.

I hope you enjoy this review of a new to me author.  This book is the 3rd book in her Gwen Marcey series of books.  While each of the books could be read on their own, I wouldn’t recommend it.  The underlying storyline is much clearer and flows better if you read each of the books in their specific order.

Gwen Marcey is back and this time she’s been asked to assist the Pikeville PD sketch the remains of a body.  There’s also a rapist on the loose, but all of the victims vanish before anyone is able to get all of the details from them.  When a connection is found between the body she’s sketching and a local church of snake handlers, Gwen takes the local government big-shot’s promise of a huge monetary reward to heart and heads undercover.  Soon her daughter is with her and the danger becomes real.  Is this church practicing the illegal art of snake-handling at its services? Is there a connection between this church and the serial rapist? Can Gwen complete her job and keep her daughter safe at the same time?  Put that snake down before it suffocates you and head down to your local bookstore and BUY THIS BOOK!!

Confession time.  I did not like the first book in the series.  Not sure why, just really couldn’t get into the storyline.  The character was a little flighty to me and seemed to be where she didn’t need to be.  Ok, with that out of the way, I will say that I read the 2nd and 3rd books in this series with a more voracious appetite.  It probably only took me two days to finish both of these books and it was nice being able to read them back to back and continue the story.  I’m still not sure that I care much for the main character, but I will say that I’ve read worse.  The main character’s friend is more grounded and inserts the religious themes into the storyline and always brings a sense of humor when she arrives.

Is this a "guy's book"?  This novel is full of police procedures, snake-handlers and a great sense of adventure and suspense.  Start with the first book in this series, but don’t let it keep you from getting to these better ones at the end.

When Death Draws Near Carrie Stuart Parks
Connect with the Author:

About the Author:

Carrie Stuart Parks is an award-winning fine artist and internationally known forensic artist. Along with her husband, Rick, she travels across the US and Canada teaching courses in forensic art to law enforcement as well as civilian participants. She has won numerous awards for career excellence. Carrie is a popular platform speaker, presenting a variety of topics from crime to creativity. 

Animals have always been a large part of her life. Her parents, Ned and Evelyn Stuart, started Skeel Kennel Great Pyrenees in 1960. Carrie inherited the kennel and continues with her beloved dogs as both an AKC judge and former president of the Great Pyrenees Club of America. She lives on the same ranch she grew up on in Northern Idaho.