The King’s Mercy

98942EB: The King"s Mercy: A Novel - eBook The King’s Mercy: A Novel – eBook

By Lori Benton / WaterBrook

Lori Benton chooses words with great attention to details. Her prose is rich. Her dialogue spot on. The characters speak with authentic voices drawing you into the narrative. I just finished reading Benton’s latest novel , The King’s Mercy, and found it entirely enjoyable. The setting spans the North Carolina landscape from the coast to the mountains. It’s a complete story with mystery, romance, history, and rock solid Christian theology. Her leading characters eventually arrive at a happy ending. The plot twists and turns make you wonder if better days for them will truly arrive. A repulsive character keeps you guessing throughout the story and his backstory and abhorrent behavior is revealed in its entirety.

I’m not sure which I liked best – the description of the North Carolina landscape, the rugged Scotsman, the faithful itinerant pastor, the Native American community, or the heroine, Joanna. Fans of historical fiction will be pleased to spend time with the characters in this book.

The King’s Mercy was a 2019 summer release and in my TBR queue. I’m so glad I picked it up to read. I was drawn to it because previously I read, A Flight of Arrows and found it to be equally satisfying. The e-book I read was an ARC that I accepted from the publisher. The review is my honest opinion of this historical fiction book. #TheKingsMercy#NetGalley


Music to Move You

CD87212: The Work, Volume 1 The Work, Volume 1

By Elias Dummer / Integrity Music

Former frontman for The City Harmonic, songwriter Elias Dummer makes his solo debut with The Work, Volume 1. This theologically rich collection blends folk-pop and intimate worship styles on “Enough,” “The Work (It Ain’t Easy),” “This Is Holy Ground,” and more.

Elias Dummer’s recent hit “Enough” will move you. My Pastor’s Wife introduced us to this song at a recent Bible study. The study is an examination of Paul’s letter to Colossians. The central message of this study is the supremacy of Christ and how he is enough. At each session we either open or close by listening to this song. Now at worship team practice with the lyrics in hand we are giving it a try. If you purchase the CD you can be treated to other creations by Elias Dummer.

I have not had Christian radio on for awhile since the reception both at home and in the car has been poor. Since I switched recently to streaming Air1 over the Internet I’ve had no trouble. There are many tremendous new songs to enjoy. Have you heard Matt Maher’s recent song titled Because He Lives. Also great! Happy listening.

Something Needs to Change

291417: Something Needs to Change: A Call to Make Your Life Count in a World of Urgent Need Something Needs to Change: A Call to Make Your Life Count in a World of Urgent Need

By David Platt / Multnomah

This title is a must read. The message is timely. If you’ve been lukewarm about missions, this book will change your outlook. It’s realistic and compels you to consider the urgency of meeting the world’s spiritual needs. I have family members and acquaintances who have devoted good portions of their adult lives to missions. I thought of their commitment and heart for missions on nearly every page. Now I understand more clearly why they’re so passionate about bringing the gospel message to non-believers.

I appreciate how David Platt addresses how church families’ priorities can be skewed toward wrong priorities. I’ll confess that I’m guilty of thinking my church needs just one more really great youth program, or women’s program, or social media presence to bring people in the door and fill the pews. These may be important outreach tools, but as Platt points out these are not essential traits of a church according to the Bible. His list of essential traits totals 8, and the top 3 are Preach His Word, Share the gospel, Pray fervently and frequently.

I wasn’t so sure what to expect once I realized as a reader I was going to follow Platt and his hiking team through the harsh and rugged Himalayan peaks and villages. At points the content was difficult. I appreciate that such tough subjects were handled with care.

David Platt surely excels as a writer in this book. Each chapter is a polished gem with an important message for Christians. Platt addresses how people must assess how best to use their God given talents for the Lord. He is careful to emphasize how a well thought out plan is needed before launching into action. This preparation is important because poorly thought out plans aren’t sustainable. Likewise he encourages Christians to fully prepare themselves spiritually prior to following a gospel spreading path.

His prose never meanders. It’s concise but also lyrical. I really enjoyed his well written conclusion. Something Needs to Change is an engaging book, you will find impossible to put down. Once you’ve arrived at the end, you’ll take Platt’s message to heart.

I received an advanced reader’s copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Holy Roar

212262: Holy Roar: 7 Words That Will Change the Way You Worship Holy Roar: 7 Words That Will Change the Way You Worship

By Chris Tomlin & Darren Whitehead / Thomas Nelson

The title captured my attention. One look at the by-line, and I knew this book was a must have for my personal library. Its structure is marvelous. It’s a look at seven Hebrew words for praise. Each chapter begins with words shared by Pastor Darren Whitehead. His insight on scripture is thought provoking. The selected quotes from history’s great Biblical commentators and pastors are well chosen. These thoughts are immediately followed by Chris Tomlin’s narrative on the creation of some of his great worship anthems. It’s a pairing that’s as smart as honey and tea, and silver and gold. Each chapter closes with a list of Bible verses to look up. You’ll complete this task with enthusiasm and delight in the discovery of reading familiar verses with a fresh outlook.

It’s a reader friendly 128 page book. At its close, you’ll think of friends who should read it next. Holy Roar is a satisfying book for a time of personal devotion. Members of worship teams and small group Bible studies would also all love it.

People who enjoy Christian worship music will never sing a Chris Tomlin song again without appreciating the inspiration behind each creation.

Summer Writing and Reading

I met a June deadline and since then I’ve composed only note card sentences and business emails. My output with the written word over the last month has been meager. Yet, I’ve been busy if you measure my productivity in pounds of honey extracted from my bee hive, ample produce baskets harvested from the gardens, and my research notes from our state’s archives. Yes… pouring over 18th century primary source documents is where I’ve been spending my time. I’ve discovered some real gems back in the vault and among all the cataloged boxes. Facts I’ll use when my next deadline is near.

I’ve always been fascinated with primary source documents. Whether it’s photos, town reports, school reports, or tax inventories; each item has a story to tell. The vast library of digital images we have available at our fingertips is a great research aide. But nothing compares to holding the real thing in my hands.

While I’ve spent hours reading, researching, and interviewing people, I feel each step has opened up five more paths. I haven’t sifted out all the pieces I need, but I will push on. A September deadline is looming. All my inquiries and fact gathering will need to be crafted into a story. One that I hope is of interest to others and worthy of publication.

Writing coaches always tell you to read and read widely. This I’ve done. The best part of the long summer days is settling down after supper for a good stretch of night time reading. I’ve been happily immersed in many books since June, and each one has been a pleasure to read.

I also took a leap and joined a writer’s group. I’m careful with how I invest my membership dues, but this just made sense. I’ll give it a try for a year and decide later if the return on investment is positive.

The writing life is more than choosing active verbs and smart quotes. It’s fair to say, I’ll be a better writer as a result of my hours spent reading and researching.

Ever Faithful

289583: Ever Faithful #3 Ever Faithful #3

By Karen Barnett / WaterBrook

Ever Faithful by Karen Barnett is a delight to read. The spirited dialogue flows smoothly and the pacing is spot-on. Historical fiction fans will savor every twist and turn. Barnett’s third novel in the Vintage National Park series is complete with a mystery, romance, and fascinating sub-plots. Like the previous novels in the series, the historical details are accurate and increase the book’s appeal.

Set in Yellowstone National Park during the Depression, the focus on the men of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) allows readers to get a glimpse of their contributions to our National Parks. While telling their story, readers are treated to some insights on the challenges these men faced prior to joining up, their backgrounds, and their hopes during a desperate time in America’s history. You’ll also laugh along with them as you experience their antics around camp. Nate Webber is a natural leader and a bright star in the story.

When the spotlight is away from the CCC camp, we meet three young ladies who are regular seasonal employees at the park. Elsie, Mary, and Rose are best friends who have spent many summers together but soon will be stepping into new life stages. Mary and Rose are close to college graduation with their future before them. Elsie finally has raised the necessary tuition and plans to attend college in the fall. Their friendship is a key ingredient of this story.

Ranger Brookes and Ranger Vaughan are also characters to love. Ranger Brookes, (Elsie’s Dad), is wise and kind-hearted. Ranger Vaughan not so much. When we first meet him, he is brash, condescending, and not very likeable.

The characters in Ever Faithful are vibrant. If there’s a fourth book planned for this series, I vote for seeing their stories continue a few years later at Glacier Park. At the end of Ever Faithful, some of the characters move north anyways due to employment or college so let’s see how their lives might unfold at this national park on Montana’s northern border. There’s more to tell with Elsie, Nate, Charlie, Red, and Mary. Readers would love to meet these characters again and not have to say goodbye quite yet.

I appreciate how Karen Barnett weaves a little science and reflections on the natural world into her novels. In Ever Faithful, her characters take hikes, enjoy scenic views, and interact with wildlife. Naturalists and outdoor enthusiasts will love this story.

Another strength running through this book is all the ways the characters were empathetic. We see Elsie, as a teacher, demonstrate acceptance and tolerance of different learning styles. Mary recognizes that supporting people and encouraging their dreams is an important part of every relationship. Elsie’s Mom, shares how forgiveness needs to be bestowed and living in the past is not a recipe for future success.

This is a book you’ll naturally want to share with friends. But you will ask for it to be returned because you will not want to lose it from your bookshelf. I read the previous two novels in the Vintage National Park series. I received an advanced readers’ copy of Ever Faithful from WaterBrook & Multnomah in exchange for my honest review.

A Way to Garden

A Way to Garden by Margaret Roach shares insider tips from beginning to end. Her experience is vast. Everyone will benefit from her words of gardening wisdom f9781604698770_3D.pngine tuned by many growing seasons. Gardeners’ will make this book a top shelf title for their resource libraries. The scales are tipped toward flowers, trees, shrubs, and grasses. The section on viburnums and hydrangeas are especially helpful. Essential vegetables like potatoes and tomatoes get their due, but it’s the work Roach does with creating floral mosaics that will have you picking this book up again and again.

She emphasizes the importance of extending the season by planting early blooming varieties and well as choices for the waning summer. “Early, middle, late” is the mantra she encourages gardeners to adopt for success. Year round interest is another point in her plant selection strategy. Roach is a true plant collector and speaks about what fun it is to finally secure a sought after variety to showcase in your garden.

All her links and suggested resources are right up to date adding to the educational appeal of this book.

She addresses the most common mistakes gardeners make and offers remedies. One is the tendency to settle just a single plant in the bed, instead of creating a mass effect with three, six or nine of the same type. Her words on mulch are informative and you may never mulch the same way again. She addresses how to evaluate a plant when you’re not sure if it will thrive in your growing zone. Roach says, “Try these varieties in two different locations around your property. If it’s not successful in either one, then just pot it up in a container and treat it as an annual.”

A Way to Garden is not just a how-to book. Roach is a true naturalist and shares many personal observations and reflections. I copied several phrases on index cards to reflect on later. I love that she calls seed catalogs our textbooks in a horticulture correspondence course. I received an ARC of this book from Timber Press, an imprint of Workman Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

A Silken Thread

290122: A Silken Thread A Silken Thread

By Kim Vogel Sawyer / WaterBrook

Choose this book next! Even if your to-be-read pile is a towering stack. You’ll be glad you spent time with Laurel, Willie, Quincy, the Rochester Family, and more. It’s a satisfying read with a detail rich plot.

Travel with Kim Vogel Sawyer to the fairgrounds of the 1895 Atlanta Exposition. Her account of this three month event is her starting point for telling a great story. Thirty years have passed since the end of the Civil War but racism and war memories pulse through the thoughts and actions of many characters. This story exposes how divisions based on skin color and economic standing perpetuate and inflict deep emotional injury. Hurtful remarks, jumping to the wrong conclusions, and more instances of social injustice are part of the narrative. The end proves what matters most. Good character, loyal friends, family, and faith.

The author demonstrates an expert ability to share a Christian message within a historical fiction novel. I never found it preachy or heavy handed. Just true words of wisdom shared from the heart. She even uses the title to remind us that God is always at work trying to draw us closer to Him. Sometimes it’s a fragile silken thread that he holds us by, but He is always there. More than one character speaks about the importance of seeking God’s direction when traveling on the path of life.

Even though this was a time when women were also denied many opportunities, most of the leading female characters possessed can-do attitudes who got back on their feet despite life altering setbacks. Miss Warner, Mama Millard, and Laurel are resilient and forward thinking characters.

Langdon Rochester takes the meaning of obnoxious to new heights. Throughout the book, you suspect he’ll come to a reckoning moment. This is just one of the storylines that keeps you reading to see how it’s going to turn out in the end. While you might anticipate some closing scenes, a good number will resolve in a surprising fashion. There is one major unanswered question that lingers at the end. Perhaps we can meet these vibrant characters in a sequel and discover the solution to this puzzle and more.

I recommend this book with enthusiasm. I reviewed an advanced readers’ copy from WaterBrook & Multnomah in exchange for my honest review. #ASilkenThread

QueenSpotting By Hilary Kearney

9781635860375_3DQueenSpotting by Hilary Kearney is like “Where’s Waldo?” of the insect class. It’s a must read for both experienced and beginning beekeepers. The queen spotting challenges range from easy to advanced. The answer key appears at the back. Interspersed throughout the educational visuals are Hilary’s accounts of apiary management and swarm catching. As a resident of Southern California, Hilary works year round managing her own hives, rescuing errant swarms, and educating others about honey bees. She launched her own business, Girl Next Door Honey, in 2012.

It’s a handsome book, readers will enjoy referring to over and over. Her enthusiasm bubbles up and spills over into her writing. Never stuffy or formal, you’ll chuckle when she uses the phrase “pollen pants” as a substitute for pollen baskets.

She clearly works at the master level of beekeeping. Her advice for building proficiency in queen spotting is helpful and accurate. At the book’s conclusion, you’ll likely want more from this beekeeper and entrepreneur. You can find more words of wisdom on Hilary’s Girl Next Door Honey website or popular social media accounts.

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review of this publication. #QueenSpotting #NetGalley