Lone Wolf

Lone Wolf
By Jodi Picoult
Published: 2012, Emily Bestler Books
Genre: Literature, Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

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Cara
Seconds before our truck slams into a tree, I remember the first time I tried to save a life.
I was thirteen, and I’d just moved back in with my father. Or, more accurately, my clothes were once again hanging in my former bedroom, but I was living out of a backpack in a trailer on the north end of Redmond’s Trading Post & Dinosaur World.

Jodi Picoult is one of my favorite authors. I have read almost every single one of her books. I love how she takes the hard stuff of life and meets them head on within the pages of a novel that represents some real life struggles. So when I saw this one on the shelves of Half Price Books, I realized that I hadn’t read it yet and knew that I needed it.

I felt that this one had quite a different feeling then her usual books. I liked the main story line, but the secondary story line was odd and I did not particularly care for it. This was not what I thought of as being one of her better books, but it could just be my own personal tastes.

The main story line is about the hard topic of letting your loved on stay on life support or deciding to end their life. It is entwined around the story of a broken family and how each of the mans’ children believes that their decision is the right one. The author delves into family relationships, a patient’s wishes, and what is defined as the value of a person’s life. It was a wonderful story that makes you think about your own family and their future decisions and plans in case of unexpected circumstances.

I ended up skimming the secondary story line and flipping past their pages and enjoyed the main story line. I do not know if it detracted from the story or not, but I still somewhat enjoyed the book; although it is most definitely not my favorite novel of hers to have read.

I used to believe everything my brother told me, because he was older and I figured he knew more about the world. But as it turns out, being a grown-up doesn’t mean you’re fearless.
It just means you fear different things.

Lone Wolf

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The Westing Game

The Westing Game
By Ellen Raskin 
Published: 2004, Dutton Children’s Books
Genre: Children’s Literature, Mystery

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The sun sets in the west (just about everyone knows that), but Sunset Towers faced east. Strange!
Sunset Towers faced east and had no towers. This glittery, glassy apartment house stood alone on the Lake Michigan shower, five stories high. Five empty stories high.
Then one day (it happened to e the Fourth of July), a most uncommon-looking delivery boy rode around town slipping letters under the doors of the chosen tenants-to-be. The letters were signed Barney Northrup.

And so the mystery begins……

I will be teaching a literature class next fall at my homeschool co-op for 6th-8th graders and I was in search of some “unknown” books to present; this book came as a recommendation to me by a couple of people, so I thought I would give it a read and see what I thought.

I was a little leery at first about a book that revolved around a murder mystery but I was pleasantly surprised with the plot. Ellen Raskin did a great job and kept everything in the book quite clean. Some of the mystery was predictable to me, as an adult, however I did think that the author kept us guessing in a few ways and did a fabulous job of dropping clues through the pages.

I enjoyed how the author wrote from each suspects perspective throughout the book so that we could delve into each of the characters and make our own conclusions. I loved the word puzzles and “games” throughout the book as well. I felt that she also did a great job of tying up all of the loose ends in the final chapters so that you weren’t left guessing or wondering about the characters or the story.

It was a fun mystery novel to read. I definitely recommend it and I have decided to use it in my literature class next year.

I gave it to my 14 year old son to read and see what he thought and he enjoyed the book as well. He said he would certainly recommend it to people and that I should use it for my class next year.

The Westing Game

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the Undoing of Saint Silvanus

The Undoing of Saint Silvanus
By Beth Moore
Published: 2017, Tyndale House Publishers
Genre: Literature, Fiction

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Sergeant Cal DaCosta glanced at the digits on his dashboard as he threw the car into park. “Sheesh. Eighty-four degrees and barely daylight. That body’s going to be ripe.” Several patrol cars were already at the scene, zigzagged all over the pavement.

My book club decided that this month we were going to read Beth Moore’s first publication of a fiction book. I was not all that excited about this choice because I am not a fan of Beth Moore. However, there have been books chosen for book club that I would never have given a second glance had I not had to read them for book club, and I ended up enjoying them quite a bit. I went into this book dragging my feet, but determined to read it.

I will start off by saying, since this was a book from Beth Moore, I was expecting quite a bit. However, there is a huge difference between writing non-fiction and bible studies and trying to write a fictional mystery suspense book.

The book begins with a subplot and then moves forward with the actual basis of the novel. As I started reading through the book, I wondered what this subplot really had to do with the main story line. It somewhat fit within the book, and yet it just didn’t quite fit into the puzzle. I found the subplot pretty boring and unnecessary; and the manner in which it was written did not really fit within the pages of the novel.

As the author works us through the family history of Jillian, we meet a few characters along the way that influence how she moves forward. I quite enjoyed some of the secondary characters of the book, especially Adella, who added a bit of humor and spice to it all.

I thought the majority of the story line was somewhat predictable; more so then the usual mystery suspense novel. As I was reading through it, I had the feeling that I get when I am watching a “B” movie; the thoughts and the effort was there, but it just wasn’t quite working.

I was also disappointed in the spiritual aspect of the novel. Seeing that it was written by Beth Moore, I was expecting a beautiful spiritual journey that would lead Jillian through the mystery of her family’s past. It just wasn’t there. The spiritual journey was hardly there, we didn’t get to see how God worked through Jillian’s troubled past or how he healed her brokenness. It just sort of happened. I expected a lot more and was left dissatisfied with this aspect of the book.

I tried really hard not to have high expectations of this book, however, it IS Beth Moore and you cannot just go into reading one of her books without some sort of anticipation of greatness. If you are hoping for excellence, you will be greatly disappointed.

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This next section was added after my book club met and includes some thoughts and opinions of others on the book and how the discussion may have changed my perspective of the book. 

There were some mixed reviews between the ladies which caused quite a bit of quality discussion. Some of the ladies enjoyed the book, some thought it was just okay, while others didn’t particularly care for it.

The ladies decided that while the subplot didn’t completely fit in with the rest of the novel, it did give a history of the building and it did have a tiny minuscule of significance in the book. However, it was not a necessary part of the book.

For the most part, we all agreed that Adella was a favorite character, that much of the writing was very “southern” and “Beth Mooreish”.  Many also thought that there were a lot of unanswered questions and many characters and story lines that needed to have more added depth to them.

As far as the spiritual aspect, the fact that I was expecting more, there were a couple of other ladies that had the same feeling. However, one of the ladies made a good point; perhaps the author was writing a book that introduced Christ and a spiritual journey in an easy, not overly religious way so that she could reach the unreachable.

While there was not a consensus that this was a wonderful work of literature, what we could all agree on is that it was a wonderfully light-hearted, easy introduction to Jesus for someone who may be seeking or open to hearing about Him.

If you know someone looking for an easy read, that has a lightweight introduction to Jesus, then this is a great book to give them.

If you are interested in giving Beth Moore’s very first work of fiction a try, you can grab it using my link below. Who knows, seeing that it is her first, it may be worth some money in the future. 😉

The Undoing of Saint Silvanus

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Twist of Faith

Twist of Faith
By Ellen J. Green
Published: 2018, Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Crime

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The house was a mottled gray color that reminded me of dead fish. Scaly paint peeled from the weathered clapboards. Shutters that looked like they might have been black at one time were now streaked and speckled, hanging at odd angles on rusted hinges.

In Twist of Faith, we meet Ava; a young woman who thought she knew her history but realizes she has no idea where she came from after finding a picture in her deceased, adoptive mother’s belongings. After discovering the photo, Ava goes on a quest to figure out where she came from and what her adoptive family has been hiding from her all these years. On her journey to discover her own past, Ava finds out that her life and family is somehow connected to a series of murders.

Ava decides to enlist the help of her friend Joanne and a police officer who she has become acquainted with around the courthouse, Russell. With their help, she begins to unwind the story of 4 men connected to the same church, their mysterious deaths and how they are related to her adoptive family.

Ellen J. Green did a wonderful job of pulling you into the story. As you start reading through the chapters, you get drawn in because you just NEED to find out what a single random photo of an unknown house with the door open means to Ava’s life and how is her family connected. The author wrote a few well-placed clues into the story that makes you think you have it all figured out. But when you get to the end, you realize you had it all wrong the whole time. I thought it was going to be some cheesy book that the ending and protagonist were obvious, but it turns out I was wrong.

I thought this was a well written suspense thriller that kept me intrigued and quickly turning the pages to get to the eventful climax. I would definitely recommend this book for anyone who loves a well written mystery that keeps you guessing until the very end.

 Twist of Faith

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If I Run

If I Run
By Terri Blackstock
Published: 2016, Zondervan
Genre: Christian Fiction, Mystery & Suspense

There’s blood on the bottom of my shoes. I rinse the soles, knowing the police will trace the impression of the rubber pattern and determine they’re Skechers. They’ll find the charge for the shoe store on my credit card, proving they’re mine.

It has been a while since I’ve read a good, clean mystery novel so I was excited when this was the book club pick for the month.

“Casey Cox’s DNA is all over the crime scene. There’s no use talk to police; they have failed her abysmally before. She has to flee before she’s arrested….or worse. The truth doesn’t matter anymore.”

After her best friend is murdered, Casey makes a split decision to go on the run because she feels that it is her only option. Dylan Roberts, newly discharged veteran, is hired to find Casey and bring her back; and he seems to be the only one interested in finding out the truth about the Casey and the murder.

As we follow Casey on her journey eluding capture, we learn bits and pieces about why she chose to run and not stay; a story steeped in the past and wrapped up in Casey’s family.

I would not classify the writing within the book as literature, but it definitely was a well written mystery that kept me flipping the pages to find out what happens next.  And the book has an open ending and you will definitely want to read the next book in the series, If I’m Found, just as I did. Once you read the second book, you can pre-order the final one in the series, If I Live

I had hoped there would be a little more of a spiritual journey throughout the book then there was. There were bits and pieces of mention here and there, but I felt like it was just maybe barely enough to place it in the Christian category. Perhaps there will be a little more in the next book. (Which there was; there is definitely a spiritual journey developing throughout the series. I look forward to reading the final book once it is published to see how Casey’s walk finishes.)

Knowing that Jesus will not be disheartened or crushed, that he won’t feel the need to shout in the streets or rail against anything, that he will bring forth justice in the twinkle of an eye, encourages me. Things look grim, but God is still in control.

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This next section was added after my book club met and includes some thoughts and opinions of others on the book and how the discussion may have changed my perspective of the book. 

The majority of the ladies in my book club enjoyed the book as well and a couple had even gone on to read the second book as well. There was also consensus that we had hoped for a little more of a spiritual aspect to the book, but that perhaps it is just the genre of the book or maybe it would develop as the series went on.

We all agreed that we may not be able to do some of the things that Casey did or to put ourselves in her place. Many of the things that she did throughout the book were quite courageous and knowledgeable.
There was also an interesting subplot within the book that some felt was added to just prolong the book and the series, while others felt that it helped to develop Casey’s character traits.

Overall, we agreed that it was a decently written book and we enjoyed reading something out of the “normal” Christian genre.

I recommend the book, as well as the series if you are looking for a good, clean murder mystery.

If I Run

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A.D. 30

A.D. 30: A Novel
By Ted Dekker
Published: 2015, Center Street
Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Mystery & Suspense

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I had heard of kingdoms far beyond the oasis that give birth to life where none should be, kingdoms beyond the vast, barren sands of the Arabian deserts.
I had lived in one such kingdom beyond the great Red Sea, in a land called Egypt, where I was sold into slavery as a young child.

I really enjoyed this book. I know that some people do not like when the author puts words into Jesus’ mouth, but I like when they take creative license so that the reader can get a feel for what it was like in the days when God was in the flesh. It helps create imagery in my own mind about the personal experiences that the people had in those times.  I thought that it was done in a way just as any other historical fiction novel would be done and that is what I kept in mind as I read though the book.
I felt like Ted Dekker did a wonderful job of using the majority of scripture to keep true to history while adding just enough to help create the story line. Make sure to read through the beginning section “A Journey into A.D. 30” as well as the author’s note because it will help to explain some of the background of this novel and his thoughts on how he stayed true to scripture.

A.D. 30 takes us on a journey with Maviah, a woman who has been cast out, spent her life as a slave, and has felt abandoned, unwanted and unloved.; a woman who feels unworthy but now holds the fate of her city on her shoulders.
Along her journey, she meets Yeshua, a “mystic”, a teacher; a man whom she disbelieves in the beginning, but as she listens to his teachings and witnesses his miracles, he changes her life in ways she never thought possible.
Through Maviah, we see a wonderful story of ugliness become a beautiful journey of being saved in the love and freedom of Jesus.

The climax of the book is phenomenal. Make sure you have time to sit down and finish it once you get to the last 4 chapters of the book.

Faith. A child’s faith. When the storm came, to trust in Yeshua who was one with the Father, even as a young child might trust a perfectly loving father. This was what it meant to believe.

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This next section was added after my book club met and includes some thoughts and opinions of others on the book and how the discussion may have changed my perspective of the book. 

There was agreement in the fact that we enjoyed the characters and the development of them. Some had the opinion that the romance within the novel was cheesy and others thought it was not too bad. Phasa was a fan favorite.
There was some discussion that the reader, as a woman, could certainly tell that the novel was written from a man’s perspective but trying to portray a woman’s perspective. Most of us agreed that it was still well written, but there were certain elements and events that we thought would not have been how it truly happened.

All of the ladies in the book club thoroughly enjoyed reading this and would recommend it as well. Many agreed that it was a well done work of historical fiction and that the author took great care in his writings of actions and conversations involving Jesus.

But I came to know him as my master, the one who saved me. Yeshua, who showed me the way into a far greater kingdom within and among and at hand, full of power and wonder.

I highly recommend this book. Ted Dekker is a fantastic author and this is a wonderful book on the historical aspects during Jesus’ time on Earth and the portrayal of what it means to become a follower of Christ.

A.D. 30: A Novel

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Tuesday Thoughts

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season!

Merry Christmas from my family.

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It has been quite some time since I have written a blog review. I have continued reading and reading and reading, of course. However, the holidays really snuck up on me and I ran out of time to do any reviews on those books.

Here is a list of the books I read and did not have time to review with a small commentary~~~~

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A Novel~~ This was a wonderful insight into anxiety and depression and the affect it can have on a life. As we watch Eleanor’s past unfold, we learn how a person’s past can shape their future. I definitely recommend this book, especially to anyone who is looking for more insight into anxiety and depression.
The Lying Game: A Novel~~ The twists and turns of the lives of 4 women, who share the secret of one mistake made on a fateful night makes for an intense, page-turning novel. I read this book quickly because it pulled you in and you had to know the answer. I recommend it to anyone who likes a “lighter” suspense and thriller novel.
Finding Father Christmas (Father Christmas Series 1)~~ This was the book for my book club in December. It was a very light and fun read for the holiday season that takes us through Miranda’s search for the truth about her father and her spiritual journey along the way.
Christmas Jars~~ One evening, the apartment of Hope Jensen is burglarized and in the wake of it, a jar full of coins and bills is left on her doorstep. In the quest to find out where the jar came from so she can give proper thanks, Hope finds more than just a Good Samaritan. This was a fantastic, light read to finish up the holiday season and I definitely recommend it.

Let me know if you read one of them and what you think. 🙂

I am working on these 2 books currently and I will post my reviews of them when they are completed.

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I thought a great way to start out the new year would be to do a book giveaway!
I recently read the new book by John Green, Turtles All the Way Down.

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You can read my book review here; I thought it was a wonderful and real look into the mind of someone who struggles with anxiety. I highly recommend it for anyone who either struggles with anxiety or knows someone who struggles with anxiety. And for that reason, I am offering it as a giveaway.

In order to enter, you will need to go to my Instagram account and find the most recent posting about Turtles All the Way Down and follow the instructions on the post about how to enter the giveaway.

Happy New Year! 

The Alice Network

 The Alice Network: A Novel
By Kate Quinn
Published: 2017, William Morrow – Harper Collins
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

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1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Claire is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family.

1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy.

Thirty years, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. That is until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth….no matter where it leads.

This novel is phenomenal. I cannot say enough good things about this book.
Kate Quinn does a wonderful job weaving the stories of 2 strong women in and out of the past and the present. The author has created a book hugely based upon real characters and events while creating fictional characters and events to expand the story and still staying true to the actual history on record.
I loved how Kate Quinn interlaced the French and German languages within the novel; it gives the reader a rich, authenticity to the history and era of the story-line.

Lili already was extraordinary, Eve thought. Not like me. The thought held no envy–it was what made them both good at what they did now. Lili’s job was to be anyone, to shift with a few tricks of posture or grammar from one persona to another, whether seamstress or laundress or cheese seller. And if Lili’s job was to be anyone, Eve’s was to be no one, to be unobserved and unnoticed at all times.

I knew of spies, women spies, within the Great War, but I had no previous knowledge of The Alice Network. It was interesting to read about the courage and bravery that these women had. They wanted to be able to make a difference in the war and fight for their own country, but were not allowed to because they were not men. Instead, they helped create a network of women spies in an effort to do their part to fight against the Germans. It is an incredible peek into a sliver of historical events and heroes that often went unnoticed and unappreciated.

I would love to give you more details of the book, but I don’t want to ruin this unique work of historical fiction. You just need to purchase it and read it for yourself. Trust me.

NOTE* There is some language in the book but it leads to the authenticity of the characters and the time era of the story. There is also some adult content as well as a couple of scenes that can be a bit gruesome if you are sensitive to those things. 

The Alice Network is a work of art with words. I highly recommend this extraordinary piece of literature to everyone, especially to those that love historical fiction.

The Alice Network is up for voting as Best Historical Fiction Book of 2017. You can vote for it here.

The Alice Network: A Novel

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