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19 Souls - Book Review | juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews

19 Souls – Book Review

Book Description:

Private Investigator Jim Bean is a straightforward, to-the-point man. When his latest client, Sophie Evers, asks him to find her brother Daniel, Jim has no idea how complicated his life is about to become.

Daniel is not Sophie’s brother. He is her most coveted prey. Clinging to the belief that they belong together, Sophie kills Daniel’s real sister to manipulate Jim into flushing Daniel out of hiding. She will create the “perfect life” for the only man she’s ever loved, no matter how many people she must kill along the way.

When Jim discovers the truth about Sophie, he’s driven to set things right before her delusional plan claims even more souls.

Review:

Do you like television shows like Criminal Minds, Law & Order, NCIS, or Homicide Hunter? Those are some of our favorite show, and I think that is part of the reason I devoured this book and loved every bit of it.  If you like these types of shows, I am sure you will like this one too!

Oh, hi my name is Julie and I judge books by their covers. The cover of this one is what drew my attention to it, but I was hooked before I even finished the first chapter.  J.D. Allen really kicked it in high gear from the very beginning.  This story is full of non-stop action, and you don’t want to stop reading until you get to the very end. There were times that I just wanted to let Jim have it, even though I developed a soft spot for him.  But Sophie, on the other hand, was so easy to just loathe with every fiber of my being.  A couple of things were a little predictable, but it wasn’t enough to mess with the story.

I’m sorry to say that this book will not be released until February of next year, but really that is just around the corner.  I will be posting a reminder for you because I would really hate for you to miss out on this one.

19 Souls Book Cover 19 Souls
Sin City Investigation #1
J.D. Allen
Thriller, Crime, Detective
Midnight Ink
February 8, 2018
eARC
360
Received an advanced eARC from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

The Writing Desk - Book Review | juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews

The Writing Desk – Book Review

Book Description:

Tenley Roth’s first book was a literary and commercial success. Now that her second book is due, she’s locked in fear. Can she repeat her earlier success or is she a fraud who merely found a bit of luck?

With pressure mounting from her publisher, Tenley is weighted with writer’s block. But when her estranged mother calls asking Tenley to help her through chemotherapy, she packs up for Florida where she meets handsome furniture designer Jonas Sullivan and discovers the story her heart’s been missing.

Born during the Gilded Age, Birdie Shehorn is the daughter of the old money Knickerbockers. Yet her life is not her own. Under the strict control of her mother, her every move is decided ahead of time, even whom she’ll marry. But Birdie has dreams of her own. She wants to tell stories, write novels, make an impact on the world. When she discovers her mother has literally destroyed her dreams, she must choose between submission and security or forging a brand new way all on her own.

Tenley and Birdie are from two very different worlds. Yet when Tenley discovers Birdie’s manuscript, their lives intersect. Birdie’s words help Tenley find a way home. Tenley brings Birdie’s writing to the world.

Can two women separated by time help fulfill each other’s destiny?

Review:

I feel like I need to start by saying that I love everything written by Rachel Hauck.  So, you shouldn’t be surprised when I say that I loved this book!

The Writing Desk is a multi-generational story set in the Gilded Age, as well as the present.  It is a story of love, loss, regret, faith, forgiveness, and do-overs. The characters are well-developed and lovable with such enchanting story lines that you don’t want to stop reading until you know what has happened to each of them.  And the plot twists are the cherries on top!  I have to cut this review short, or I might give too much of the story away.  But that desk, and it’s story! I love it!

I love to write, and reading about two writers and their challenges hit home for me.  But you don’t have to be a writer for it to hit home.  The Writing Desk is also about mothers and daughters, life lessons, and love.  Ever feel like just staying in your PJs all day? Well, then you will find something to relate to in this fabulous novel.

 

 

The Writing Desk Book Cover The Writing Desk
Rachel Hauck
Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Contemporary
Zondervan
July 10, 2017
eARC
352
Received an advanced eARC from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

Anchored In - Book Review | juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews

Anchored In – Book Review

Book Description:

Problems can make you feel like God is far away, but they can also be the very things that bring you closer to him.

Anchored In isn’t a book of Christian cliche’s or sweet stories to warm the heart but rather an authentic look at the hard parts of life. It challenges us to stop running from and clinging to the past, and to grasp tightly to the only unshakable Anchor that is able to sustain our souls through the storms of life.

Micah shares personal stories, such as her father’s abandonment of her family, and couples them with biblical application to offer real-life glimpses of God at work. She offers inspiration to live a life full of God’s power rather than one that causes us to turn away and be paralyzed by problems.

Living anchored in God’s presence is a beautiful gift that few truly experience simply because they do not understand the key to God’s power – surrender. Or if they know to surrender, they do not know how to let go of the problems that consume their lives. Through simple, tangible steps learn to surrender in every season of life.

Hearing from God is not reserved for a chosen few, but rather promised to those who believe. If you are longing to experience God’s power in a deeper way, this is a journey for you.

Review:

We have all been through trials of some kind, and some are worse than others.  When we go through these trials we need to be reminded that we are not the only ones that have problems, and that we will get through them.  Anchored In is just that! It is full of encouragement that we all need as we struggle, and a gentle but oh so truthful reminder that we need to stay Anchored In to our faith.

One of my favorite quotes from Micah is “God’s power is present to people who pursue it.”

How true!! How true!! How true!!

Seriously, how have I missed this all this time?

This is a honestly written story of Micah’s journey, and how she found an anchor.  It is perfectly blended with stories and scriptures, and each chapter ends with questions just for you and a prayer too.

Anchored In: Experience a Power-full Life in a Problem-Filled World Book Cover Anchored In: Experience a Power-full Life in a Problem-Filled World
Micah Maddox
Personal Growth, Religion & Spirituality
Abingdon Press
September 5, 2017
eARC
240
Received an advanced eARC from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

The Crying Bird - Book Review | juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews

The Crying Bird – Book Review

Book Description:

May Johnson used to be an ordinary wife and mother. Now, she’s a middle-aged millionaire, grieving the loss of her family. The only living relative she has left is her smothering younger sister. May’s sanity is already threatened when tensions rise, so she sets out to find solitude in Florida. However, life has other plans for her.

Animal encounters, unlikely friendships, sisterly squabbles and hilarious scenarios take May on an unforgettable journey from the depths of grief to a new life. But, will she embrace it?

Review:

Funny books are so hard to come by these days.  Wait, let me rephrase that.  Good, clean, funny, PG books are hard to come by these days.  Every once in a while I will read a book with a funny part, and it is refreshing.  This book fits that bill.  Sure, it’s about a woman that has lost her family, and that is sad, but it doesn’t dwell on it.  Isn’t that how it is in real life?  Don’t we deal with death, and then keep living?  Or that is how it’s supposed to work.  The main character, May Johnson, does exactly what we all want to do when we lose someone close to us.  She shuts down.  When she finally gets enough of her little sister trying to help her, she runs away.  Again, wouldn’t we all like to do that sometimes?

This is a story that many of us can relate to. It is a little sad, but it is also, fast-paced, witty and heartwarming!  You not only get May Johnson’s point of view as the griever, but you also get the point of view of her sister, as the caregiver.  There are unlikely friendships, good deeds, and conversations with a bird.  Please tell me that you talk to animals too.

This is E.J. Stillings debut novel, and it is a winner! I absolutely love this book!  I will be suggesting this book to my IRL book club, and I just know they will love it!

My Bird Story

Now, let me tell you about what happened here the same day I finished this book.

the pigeon | juliekmccomas.com

It was a Sunday afternoon, I was settling in to read a little and nap a lot.  I had just finished this book, The Crying Bird by E.J. Stillings, and decided that I would get a drink of water before I fell asleep.  I went to the kitchen sink, and sitting in front of the kitchen window was a pigeon.  I couldn’t believe it.  I grabbed my phone and started snapping pictures.  We live in the middle of nowhere, seriously, and I’ve never seen a pigeon out here.  They are all in town.  I don’t know why, but they are.  I noticed that there was a band on it’s little leg, so I started trying to get all the number off it.  That is harder than it sounds.  Several pictures later I got it.  I got some bird feed and some water and set out to make friends with this pigeon that I started calling Pete.  Pete the Pigeon.  Anywhoo, he wouldn’t eat or drink unless I was holding the plate.  I knew he had to belong to someone.  I took the number and got online.  Believe it or not, I found the owner!  Through Facebook and text messaging, he told me that it is a homing pigeon (I had figured that out) and they had had a trial run of the homing pigeon race.  You can’t make this stuff up.  I never knew they raced.  I ended up catching him, who ended up being a her, put her in a pet carrier, and returned her to her rightful owner. I thought it was funny that I had just finished reading this book, and then had an encounter with a bird that very same day.

Get this book! You won’t regret it!

The Crying Bird Book Cover The Crying Bird
E.J. Stillings
Women's Fiction, Contemporary
Emily Jordan Stillings
January 7, 2017
eBook
216
Received a free copy from E.J. Stillings in exchange for my honest review. Thank you, E.J..

The Day the Angels Fell - Book Review | juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews

The Day the Angels Fell – Book Review

Book Description:

It was the summer of storms and strays and strangers. The summer that lightning struck the big oak tree in the front yard. The summer his mother died in a tragic accident. As he recalls the tumultuous events that launched a surprising journey, Samuel can still hardly believe it all happened.

After his mother’s death, twelve-year-old Samuel Chambers would do anything to turn back time. Prompted by three strange carnival fortune-tellers and the surfacing of his mysterious and reclusive neighbor, Samuel begins his search for the Tree of Life–the only thing that could possibly bring his mother back. His quest to defeat death entangles him and his best friend Abra in an ancient conflict and forces Samuel to grapple with an unwelcome question: could it be possible that death is a gift?

Haunting and hypnotic, The Day the Angels Fell is a story that explores the difficult questions of life in a voice that is fresh, friendly, and unafraid. With this powerful debut, Shawn Smucker has carved out a spot for himself in the tradition of authors Madeleine L’Engle and Lois Lowry.

Review:

Oohhh, this is such a good read!!

There is so much to talk about but finding the right wording is proving to be difficult for me.

This is a Young Adult book, and this 46 year-old woman loved it! I’m still a young adult, right?! (hello?) I’ll take that silence as your agreement. Most adults have dealt with death, fear and/or loss, so we can relate to these things.  It might be more of a fantasy time book for some young people that only have their imagination to go on.

Remember when they used to talk about the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other?  That is kind of how the good and evil is portrayed in The Day the Angels Fell, except the angels aren’t the little guys on Samuel’s shoulder but the actual people in the story.  It was pretty easy to figure out who was good and who was evil, and seeing how each of the characters responded to them was captivating.   The darkness and creatures defined evil so well.  The Tree of Life might have been a gift at one time, but the way Mr. Smucker has described death being a gift makes so much sense.

A lot of books these days seem to bounce around, and this one is no different.  You will bounce back and forth between the past and the present, but it made the story that much better to me.  I liked the way they were woven together.  I really liked the relationship between Caleb and old man Samuel. (That’s all I’ll say about that.)

This book is a page turner that deals with grief, death, loss, good and evil, and it will not disappoint!!

I received this book from Revell via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

The Day the Angels Fell Book Cover The Day the Angels Fell
Shawn Smucker
Spirituality, Fantasy
Revell
September 5, 2017
eARC
320

The Sacrament of Happy - Book Review | juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews

The Sacrament of Happy – Book Review

Book Description:

Imagine hearing your physician tell you that chips and queso contain more nutritional benefits than kale and quinoa.

In her new book, The Sacrament of Happy: What a Smiling God Brings to a Wounded World, Lisa Harper unveils a similarly extravagant, unexpected surprise, declaring that happiness is a gift from God that we can unashamedly enjoy.

Wearing the twin hats of both seminarian and belly-laughing adoptive mom, Harper builds upon solid theological scaffolding for happiness in a warm, vignette style. She dismantles the old-school idea that joy, not happiness, is the truly spiritual emotion of the Christian family and asserts that Christ-followers are actually called to happiness . . . to such a deep conviction in the unmitigated goodness of our Creator-Redeemer that we are free to feel and express genuine joy, fulfillment and contentment, regardless of personal and global tumult.

Harper’s personal story includes such happiness killers as sexual abuse, the death of loved ones, and heartbreaking failed adoptions. Yet she writes on themes like:

“The lost sacrament of laughter”
“Happiness is not the absence of sadness”
“Tuning out the Pharisees who try to mute your happiness in the context of spiritual maturity”

This book goes well beneath most people’s surface understanding of happiness, gently guiding readers closer to the heart of God . . . with naturally a few genuine guffaws to enjoy along the way.

Review:

Lisa Harper is a God-send!   The End.

Oh, you mean you need more of a review than that?  Well, alrighty.

Lisa Harper is a down to earth, God fearing woman that loves life!  She writes books that are so easy to read, it is like a conversation with a dear friend.  Honestly!  She tells stories that tug on your heartstrings, and then others that make you literally laugh out loud!  She has been through some crappy days, and she chooses to cultivate happy.

The Sacrament of Happy is a collection of stories that show us that God does have a sense of humor.  It shows us that we can choose happy, how to get happy, and how happy changes the world.

I recommend that you get a hard copy rather than an ebook, because you will want to highlight several parts of this book.  You will want to remember some of the wisdom of Lisa Harper.  Another reason you will want to highlight is because you will start a story and will know what the main points are, but by the end you have laughed so hard that you might forget what you were supposed to learn from it all.  It could just be me though.

I don’t re-read a lot of books, but I will keep this one around to read every now and then.

The Sacrament of Happy: What a Smiling God Brings to a Wounded World Book Cover The Sacrament of Happy: What a Smiling God Brings to a Wounded World
Lisa Harper
Women's Christian Living
B & H Books
May 31, 2017
eARC
208
Received an advanced eARC from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
The Space Between Words Book Review | juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews

The Space Between Words – Book Review

Book Description:

“There were seconds, when I woke, when the world felt unshrouded. Then memory returned.”

When Jessica regains consciousness in a French hospital on the day after the Paris attacks, all she can think of is fleeing the site of the horror she survived. But Patrick, the steadfast friend who hasn’t left her side, urges her to reconsider her decision. Worn down by his insistence, she reluctantly agrees to follow through with the trip they’d planned before the tragedy.

“The pages found you,” Patrick whispered.

“Now you need to figure out what they’re trying to say.”

During a stop at a country flea market, Jessica finds a faded document concealed in an antique. As new friends help her to translate the archaic French, they uncover the story of Adeline Baillard, a young woman who lived centuries before—her faith condemned, her life endangered, her community decimated by the Huguenot persecution.

“I write for our descendants, for those who will not understand the cost of our survival.”

Determined to learn the Baillard family’s fate, Jessica retraces their flight from France to England, spurred on by a need she doesn’t understand.

Could this stranger who lived three hundred years before hold the key to Jessica’s survival?

Review:

This is two stories set three centuries apart.  It’s about a present time woman learning how to heal, live and love from a woman in the past.

The story is well written and well plotted.  With that being said, some of the details seem a bit questionable.  The historical backstory of the Huguenots (French Protestants) fleeing from France to avoid persecution was quite interesting, and has made me want to research that piece of history.  There is a bit of a mystery, and I have to say that there is quite a twist that I never saw coming.

This book was easy to put down, and hard to pick up again.  But… every time I read it, I enjoyed it.  I really like this book, and I would recommend it to everyone.  It is a great story of friendship, healing and hope. It is also considered a Christian Fiction novel, but it isn’t preachy by any means.  There is a bit of romance thrown in, but that does take a backseat to the mystery.

I hope you’ll read this one, and let me know how you like it!

The Space Between Words Book Cover The Space Between Words
Michele Phoenix
Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Contemporary
Thomas Nelson
September 5, 2017
eARC
336
Received ARC from Thomas Nelson publishing via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Church of the Small Things | juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews

Church of the Small Things – Release Day!

YAY!! It’s release day for Church of the Small Things!  Run to get your copy today!! Okay, maybe not run, but walk, click a button, or drive, whichever works for you.

Did I mention that Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, wrote the Foreward?  Another reason to get it!

Click here for my thoughts on Church of the Small Things.

I promise that you will love this book!

 

Church of the Small Things: The Million Little Pieces That Make Up A Life
Melanie Shankle
Christian Living, Humor, Religion
Zondervan
October 3, 2017
224