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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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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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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Rooms

 Rooms: A Novel
By James L. Rubart

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Rooms was the pick for my monthly book club. I will give my own review and then after my book club meets, I will expand on the discussion and others’ thoughts on this novel.

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It took a little while for me to be able to get into this one as it delves into the supernatural world in a way that has never been explored. As I continued to read through it, I began to realize how much meaning and depth was buried within its pages.

James Rubart does a fantastic job of creating a tangible, understandable way into how God and the Holy Spirit work within our hearts and lives. As we follow Micah through his journey to a closer relationship with God, it helps you to think about your own relationship with Him and to evaluate what you can do differently.

I have always thought of a life as a believer is similar to a choose your own adventure book. God has all of these different plans laid out for you, different paths but each is still His will for your life. God gives us as humans free will; He wants us to have the the ability to make our own choices because He did not intend for us to be mindless robots. He wants us to choose Him, not just be a blind follower.
Because of that free will and the freedom to make our own decisions, I think (just my own opinion here) that God has various paths laid out for us based upon which decisions and life path that we make. Just like the choose your own adventure books we read as children.

Rooms, Micah’s story, follows along with my theory, which you will see as you read through the book.

“Walk with God. Listen to the Holy Spirit. You know His voice. You’ll come to know it better as you practice listening. And listen to your heart. It knows the truth, for as you know, that is where the temple is and where the King dwells.”

Sometimes, when you have had your own dry season, it is refreshing to read about someone else’s journey and watch their path to God unfold. It changes your perspective in the desert when you watch another human just beginning their walk with God or finding their way back to Him. I loved reading Micah’s story and seeing how God worked in his life and his heart. It reminded me that the most important thing is my relationship with Him; not all of the other clutter that sometimes can get in the way.

Freedom, Micah, the Lord is always about freedom. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. If what you do brings freedom and life, it is most likely Christianity. If it doesn’t, it is possibly religion, and there is already too much of that in the world.

Do not get stuck in the clutter and the “religion” but make sure you are finding your relationship and your freedom with the Lord.

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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. 

I think that this is one of the few books we have read in our 10 months of book club that everyone liked and had good things to say.
We all agreed that Rooms has a tremendous amount of depth and a lot to offer. Rubart was able to give us a concrete example of how we all wrestle with our subconscious and Satan and how we can rely on the Bible and our tribe to find and remind us where the truth really lies. Eventually, we all need to face our past and the people who have hurt us, so we can find healing and move forward with freedom in Christ.

The following is from the Author’s Note:

I long to step into the freedom that Micah discovers, to live more completely in the divine design and destiny God has created for me, to be victorious over the voices that hold me back from living the full life God intended me to live.
I loved writing Rooms because it’s my story. It’s your story. It’s the story of anyone who wants to step into greater freedom, step into the glory of how God uniquely mad him or her, step into the destiny planned for them from before time began.
He is the Great Healer of wounds. He is the Great Restorer of freedom.

Everyone needs to read this book. I highly recommend it.

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In fact, because I think everyone should read it, I am going to give away my copy to one of my lucky readers.

Click here to enter!

Follow the instructions at Rafflecopter to be entered into the giveaway. Giveaway ends 7/29/17 at 12:00AM. Winner will be announced on 7/30/17.
Good luck to everyone!

GIVEAWAY CLOSED! 
WINNER CHOSEN!

 Rooms: A Novel

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