Non-Fiction Review: Richard D. Phillips’ “1 & 2 Thessalonians”

“Christian life and ministry will always have a local feel and flavor. There is a tendency today, however, to exaggerate those differences when it comes to the witness of the gospel. When we think of Paul’s various places of ministry, we should note that his strategy varied little, and his doctrine not at all, despite the wide variety of cultural and social contexts in which he served.”

This is just one of the many, many quotes I marked in this book! There are so many good moments of deep insight – over and over I had to stop and re-read to fully digest everything Mr. Phillips had pulled out from each verse.

This book is a call to action, urging you to get up and go! How you live your life and faith, how you support your pastor and church, and how you reach out to the people you come across in your day, is given sound instruction through careful examination of Paul’s teaching. Each piece of his letter is broken down, explained in further context and deeper meaning.

As this book started as a collection of sermons, the language and topics are very approachable and open, allowing anyone to dive in. A great book to use as a Bible study, both personal and group. The truths within are impactful, and will change your worldview!

I received a review copy of this work from the publisher through NetGalley



Fiction Review: Le French Book – “Late Harvest Havoc”

Rife with puns and turns of phrase, the latest Winemaker Detective book highlights the banter between Benjamin and Virgile, allowing us a deeper look into their personalities and partnership. Several times the characters almost break the fourth wall – you expect them to turn and wink at the reader at any moment! It is a book that is very aware of itself, even going so far as to self-reference its own title! You can tell the authors were having a lot of fun writing this one.

In addition to the self-aware aspect of the writing, the style from chapter to chapter matches Benjamin’s mood and circumstances, keeping the reader immersed, and feeling the events with him. 

As always, the story is experienced most through the senses, with the flavor and smell descriptions even more vibrant than before. Indeed, I recommend more than ever having something to eat before reading, as your stomach will yearn for the delicious dishes, and your palate will crave the riotous flavors of the wine, throughout all the meals featured. This work however, also provides a great visual stimulation for the reader as well. The detailed description of the astronomical clock and the cathedral were so beautiful and moving, that I looked them up after reading, putting them on my bucket list to visit someday.

I love the way the authors take the time, through Benjamin’s hobby of giving Virgile a little history lesson here and there, to explain side details to the reader. It adds a great layer of communication between author and reader, beyond the story. For example, the lesson on toasting history was very neat, as it puts many other works in a new light, allowing me to deepen my reading of them.

The conclusion wraps up all the loose ends, and the culprit and motive are hidden until the reveal, keeping the reader turning the page in anticipation.
A satisfying read!

I received a review copy of this work from the publisher through NetGalley

Fiction Review: “With THIS Ring? – A Novella Collection of Proposals Gone Awry

This work is a collection of four short stories, delving deeper into the lives of minor characters from each of the authors.

The Husband Maneuver, by Karen Witemeyer

A very cute tale, told from both perspectives equally. I liked the back and forth look inside the character’s heads, so that the reader would get a full understanding of each person, and really get invested in their relationship. The big takeaway at the end of my reading was the importance of looking at, and loving your loved ones as who they are, not an unfair, unrealistic “if only they were like this”  you  mentally rate them against.

Her Dearly Unintended, by Regina Jennings

“A Comedy of Errors” would be another great way to title this work, but that’s already been used. This story is a very strong message about  clear communication in your relationships, and never assuming anything, by way of a tale of OVERT miscommunication that keeps the reader chuckling. Another good teaching moment in this work is a look at the problems of pride in a relationship.

Runaway Bride, by Mary Connealy

What jumped out to me most in this story was the distinct and vivid characters throughout the story, sketched out in a minimum of words, but really brought to life through their actions and words on the page. It was a masterful example of character development packed into so short a space. I especially liked the women characters, as these are historically-set novellas, and this one broke the mold you normally see in works like this. The characters were unique, fun to read, and I loved watching them save the day.

Engaging the Competition, by Melissa Jagears

This one rolled along a little faster than the others, but still took the time to point out some important steps to a good relationship. First and foremost, like the stories above, we see the importance of never making assumptions. You can ruin friendships, relationships, and overall happiness when you don’t take the time to talk, even if it’s uncomfortable, about what was really intended. This goes for all relationships, not just romantic ones. I also liked the emphasis on listening to, and acting on, the advice and prompting of your elders and trusted advisers. This makes sure you don’t become too shortsighted in your ability to see those around you correctly. (No pun on the story intended.)

I really liked the full list of books by each author in the back pages of this work. The only thing that I would have also wanted was an indication of which novels these minor characters appear in; helpful if someone is not familiar with the author, and wants to use this as an entrance into their work.

I received a review copy of this work from the publisher through NetGalley

Fiction Review: Elizabeth Camden’s “Until the Dawn”

An interesting and fun book that kept a joyful tone, even while dealing with some darker moments. I really enjoyed reading this work!

Vivid descriptions are what catch the reader’s attention first, so detailed they nearly come off the page. And the characters have quirks and depth that bring them into crisp clarity in the mind’s eye. The premise may be that oft-told tale of love winning the day, but these characters are ones you’ve not met before, and will enjoy getting to know.

The setting was very unique, with the fledgling Weather Bureau, and the station Sophie maintains not something I’ve ever read before. This unique factor is framed very well in the surrounding town and culture, making the historical part of this work well done. While the tale is complete by the last page, there was so much more story to be told! I felt there were some loose ends I would have liked the answers to, but in all, it was a satisfying read.

My greatest recommendation of this book comes from the great multi-generational stories of redemption the reader gets to see. Watching the way the different characters choose their paths is a highlight of the work. Definitely check it out!

I received a review copy of this work from the publisher