Saturday, September 12, 2015


A Pinch of Promise by Susan Maddrey

I received a book from book fun.org for an honest review
It wasn't so long ago that Becky's life was in shambles. Some people might remember her as Marie, the teenager that everyone knew as the troubled teen that her parents had to endure years of struggles with her. Her dad is a famous pastor-turned-parenting expert and writes books on the subject. The press was relentless about Becky and her troubles with drugs, being known as a bad girl and spending time in rehab facilities. The problem was, none of the stories were true. Her father wrote about a girl with those issues, but he never said who he was referring to. Can Becky every find a way to forgive her dad and find peace about her past?

One day Marie left her hometown, changed her name and never looked back. She had a very strained relationship with her father and had no intentions of ever forgiving him for the pain she went thru because of his books. Becky becomes a physical therapist and tries to live a quiet life. As she is working one day, someone comes in for treatment on his knee. Ben stares at his physical therapist and sees a glimmer of someone he use to know ten years ago. He can't believe that it is possible that his therapist could be the same girl he fell in love with and never got over.

This is a powerful story about forgiveness and letting go of your past. The author has written a very touching story that shows us how hard it is to let go of your anger and start to let your heart soften from all the bitterness you have held in for so long.. As Ben decides he wants to start again with Becky, she continues to pull away from him. Ben's friends encourage him to not give up on Becky . One of them tell him, "if you want someone in your life, you pursue them. And if they run the other way, then run faster. It reminds me of what we need to be doing everyday. The author gives a great example of how we need to pursue God everyday and if there are obstacles, then run faster to get to Him.

Becky has always collected salt shakers and the author writes a beautiful analogy how what the salt represents. Becky says her salt shakers remind her that we're to be salt and light, and that even the tiniest pinch of salt offered someone the promise of a better life in Christ. The book is so beautifully written and shares with us the hurt that Becky felt her father had placed on her , when he wrote his books but would never say they weren't about her. She also gives us insight into homeless shelters and the needs that can be overwhelming for them. I loved the ending and thought it was powerful and makes you think about who you may hold unforgiveness for. It is a love story with life lessons we can all learn from. All we need is "A Pinch of Promise."

The Postcard by Laura V. Hilton

I received a copy of this book from book fun.org for an honest review

Rachel Miller is a young woman who , like most young women her age have a desire to visit other places. She starts writing to people she finds through  their local paper. She loves to hear about their towns and it gives her a sense of belonging . Her town is very small and she seems anxious to find something more to satisfy her hunger for the world around her. She has been writing to David, who lives in another town. They seem to be getting closer and she is excited when she receives mail from him. He is a kind man who sends her postcards with his letters to show her of the place he lives.

David and Rachel both know that they each have someone else in their life but they continue to write as feelings grow stronger. When David is involved in a life threatening accident, he decides to make a change. To Rachel's surprise , David shows up in her town. What will Rachel do when they meet for the first time? What will happen to her boyfriend, Obadiah?  How will David explain to his girlfriend he left behind that he has come to see Rachel?

The characters  are insecure in some areas and depend on their faith to help them overcome this. David realizes that he is being called to become a preacher. Will this calling take him away from Rachel? I loved the struggles the characters had and how the author  wove the story with faith, hope and acceptance. The story was well written and gave me a time to reflect on my own beliefs. I love reading Laura's books as they are thought provoking and leaves you with a sense of peace .

Friday, September 11, 2015


Courting the Amish Widow by Rachel Yoder-May

I received a copy of this book from Librarything for an honest review

Esther is a sweet loving person who has been a widow for years. She teaches the children in the small town and lives a simple life. One day there is a loud knock on the schoolhouse door that will change the course of Esther's  life forever. She learns that one of her dear friends has  been killed in an accident and now she must break the sad news to the children. She knew it would be hard on them since they had recently lost their father.

She decides to take the children home with her until arrangements can be made for permanent care of the children. Esther has always longed for children , and maybe God has answered her prayers. The story takes a twist when a stranger shows up. Will this stranger make trouble for Esther? The story is very short but filled with a sweet storyline. I loved how the author gives Esther the choice to follow her heart and trust God in her decision.

For a quick and uplifting read  this is sure to please fans of Amish stories.

The Wonder of You by Susan May Warren

I received a copy of this book from book fun.org and Tyndale Fiction for an honest review

  When I started reading this series called , The Christiansen Family Series, I knew I had found a story that would change the way I think and look at things. In this latest installment, we find the youngest daughter , Amelia returning from abroad. It was not the trip she had hoped for and wanted to put that part of her life behind her. She returns to the safety of Deep Haven . While overseas she met a man who she wants to forget , but will that happen?

It's funny how life gives us twists and turns as we try to find ourselves. Amelia was experiencing just that as she tries to recover from a broken relationship she had with Roark St. John, whom she met on her trip abroad. She is certain that she can move on now that she is back home, but who shows up in her hometown? Well it's none other than Roark himself. What a surprise he will be to Amelia. She has already started to think of renewing her relationship with her old boyfriend , Seth.

The author weaves a very intriguing story that shows how Amelia struggles with the calling that God has on her life. She tries to work through her forgiveness with Roark and allows God to guide her. Seth seemed to be a bit pushy and not quite wanting to let Amelia make decisions on her own.

There are many facades to this amazing story and characters that each have to make decisions and allow themselves to listen to God. Many of us sometimes think we know better than God and make hasty decisions. In this book I appreciated the way the author gave us a sense of peace and hope as the characters journeyed through their decisions. Do we always listen to what God says to us? Are we quick to say no, and miss out on our destiny? I love Susan's writing and can't wait for her next book. Thank you for writing books that deal with family and relationships in a graceful way while giving us a deeper understanding of His love for us.

Finding Hope in Savannah by Melissa Wardwell

I received a copy of this book from the author for an honest review

After losing her parents while they were overseas on a mission trip, Liz seems to have turned her back on God. When she finds out she is pregnant , she decides to move and leave the memories that haunt her everyday . She makes a new life for her and her son and seem to be living a quiet life. She has a boyfriend whose name is Domhnall or Dom for short. He is a very strong and attractive looking man. They enjoy each other's company and he is attentive to her son, Matt who is a teenager now. 

One evening her world is shattered when she witnesses Dom leaning over a body. After calling 911, chaos ensues as the police arrive and she and her son are rushed to the police headquarters. What was Dom doing with what looked like a dead body? Is her life in danger now? When Liz finally finds out what Dom is involved in, she knows she Must flee from her home. The police decide they need to put her and her son in a safe place . I loved what Lt. Ward says to Liz," God used you to possibly bring down a very evil man, possibly even the ring he works for." 

Liz has her doubts that God would ever use her again , but Lt. Ward's wife reassures her by saying, " He has never turned his back on you, even when you turned on Him. You are not alone Liz." The author does a great job in showing the vulnerability of Liz and her need to lean on someone. She feels alone since the loss of her parents who she drew strength from and her faith that she abandoned. As she and her son travel to another town to escape Dom , someone comes into her life unexpectedly. Who is this person that could change everything? The story is filled with intrigue that keeps the reader glued to the book. 

The author has given us not only a story about forgiveness, but letting go of the past, and a hope for the future . After finishing the last chapter I sat there for a moment to reflect on the words that Liz spoke to God at her darkest hour, , "Lord, I am done running. Heal my heart."

Thursday, September 10, 2015


Lone Star Literary Life Blog Tours

presents

HAIL OF FIRE

by 
Randy Fritz



Hail of Fire: A Man and His Family Face Natural Disaster is an intimate account of the third worst wildfire in modern U.S. history, and the most destructive in the history of Texas. It is a memoir of what happened to Randy Fritz, an artist turned politician turned public policy leader, and his family during and after the Bastrop County Complex fire in September 2011. Combining a searing account of the fire as it grew to apocalyptic strength with universal themes of loss and grief, Fritz gives a first-person account of the emotional turmoil that comes with rebuilding one’s life after a calamitous event.

The wildfire itself was traumatic to those who witnessed it and suffered its immediate aftermath. But the most significant impact came in the months and years following, as families grieved, struggling to adapt to a new world and accept the destruction of an iconic forest of internationally acclaimed great natural beauty—the Lost Pines. Neighbors once close worried for each other, while others discovered new friendships that transcended the boundaries of race, class, and family lineage. Fritz struggled as his wife and daughter tried to make sense of their losses. He never imagined the impact this disaster would have on them individually and as a family, as well as the visceral toll he would pay in the journey to make sense of it all.

Hail of Fire is an unflinching story of how a man and his tight-knit family found grace after losing everything. Fritz’s hard-won insights provide inspiration to anyone on the search for what truly matters, particularly those who have undergone an unexpected and life-changing event and those who love and care for them.


HARDCOVER BOOK DETAILS
Price: $24.95
Pages: 256
Size: 6 x 9
Published: Jun 2015
ISBN: 9781595342591

EBOOK DETAILS
Price: $24.95
Published: Jun 2015
ISBN: 9781595342607

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Praise for HAIL OF FIRE

“If you've ever loved a tree—or a person—do yourself a favor: read this book, because at its core love in all its splendor and sadness is what it’s about.” — Jan Jarboe Russell, author of The Train To Crystal City

“The power of the book is in the recovery.... [Fritz] finds “mindfulness and acceptance” and the strength to make a fresh start in a place with haunted memories.”  Kirkus Reviews
“Randy Fritz has written a mesmerizing account of the Bastrop fire, the worst in Texas history and one of the worst ever nationally. The heart of Hail of Fire is how an everyday citizen survives the angst and awfulness of a natural disaster. Highly recommended!” — Douglas Brinkley, author of The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast

“A roller coaster ride.... brutally honest, intimate and affecting.”  Austin American-Statesman

“In this painstakingly written story of ruin and renewal, Fritz eloquently reflects on how the events of the Bastrop fire of September 2011 and their aftermath transformed him, his family and the lives of their closest friends and neighbors.”  San Antonio Express-News

“As Fritz and his family deal with shock, instability, and the stress involved in trying to move forward, their perseverance and strength, and that of those around them, demonstrate that life definitely can rise from the ashes.” — Booklist

“Though the title of his memoir of the 2011 Bastrop wildfire might suggest that readers will be placed right in the middle of one of the worst conflagrations in Texas history, this Lost Pines resident is more interested in what followed: the displacement of his family after the loss of their house, and the fraught debate over whether to rebuild or walk away from their longtime home.”  Texas Monthly

“Every time a fire destroys a family’s home, the media shows up right away to cover the disaster and report what’s happened. But not very often does the media ever tell you what happens after the fire because most victims don’t have the emotional strength to speak out while the smoke is still in the air. This story is told through the eyes of Randy Fritz who experienced the third worst wildfire in modern U.S. history. He tells the story of grief, loss and how his family rebuilt their lives after the calamitous event.” — San Francisco Book Review

Fritz is at his best when he recounts the impact the fire had on his own psyche, with raw reflections on the difficult time he had coping and how his depression became difficult for his family. Foreword Reviews



At least seventy thousand wildfires happen every year in America, and most regenerate healthy forests, culling underbrush, improving the soil, and unspooling the life resting inside pinecones.

Some of them shed their better natures, mutating into something dangerous enough that heavy equipment and elite firefighters must be called in. Of those, only a few turn into criminals, taking lives and destroying homes.

But in the modern era, there have been only two wildfires, both in California, more vicious and pitiless than the one that changed my life after nearly killing me.

With the tag-team help of a malicious sun that baked Central Texas dry for months and a tropical storm that uncoiled from the Gulf of Mexico with a hateful wind instead of rain, the fire that ravaged Bastrop County—my home for more than thirty years—on a holiday weekend in 2011 left behind a scorched and violated landscape shaped like a giant teardrop.

The fire started in two separate locations as people were returning home from church or finishing their lunches. In each case, a dead tree on private property blew into a power line, and the resulting sparks lit the bounty of fuel on the ground—a desiccated carpet of pine needles and twigs that were like gasoline vapor waiting for a match.


The wind curling off Tropical Storm Lee’s dry side energized the embryonic flames. In short order, as they skittered along the ground, vaulted from tree to tree, and sprinted from house to house, the fires began shooting off flaming pieces of bark or wood, like the sparks of a campfire, except the embers weren’t innocent or nostalgic.

As these fiery hailstones prepped the drought-stricken forest for the arrival of each fire, yet another one began five miles southwest of the first two before the event was an hour old. By the time the conflagration crossed Highway 71—one of the major arterials connecting two of the nation’s largest cities— they had merged into a colossus, and a thousand homes were burning or about to be.

The teardrop-shaped fire destroyed more homes, and upended more lives, than any other fire in Texas history. It reached a level of intensity that fire experts have scientifically confirmed only a handful of times before.


TRINITY UNIVERSITY PRESS LINKS






Randy Fritz is the former chief operating officer of the Texas Department of State Health Services, the state’s public and mental health agency. He helped coordinate the state’s response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and led the team that implemented the Children’s Health Insurance Program in Texas. Fritz lives in Bastrop, Texas, with his wife, Holly, and their youngest daughter, Miranda.









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In September 2011, the third worst wildfire in U.S. History and the most destructive in Texas occurred in Bastrop. Among the damage was thirty-four thousand acres that looked like a "Giants Teardrop." The devastation was huge and almost seventeen hundred families had been affected. I remember seeing pictures on the news and crying as I thought of the beautiful land that in an instant was nothing more than charred ashes . The people in the community were in shock as they heard that their homes didn't make it. There was many fireman, first responders and others who tirelessly fought against a wildfire that was overtaking homes, and had no sympathy for the path of loss it was leaving,

Randy Fritz and his family were among the people in the community that lost everything , from precious paintings, a home they loved and raised a family in, to the land they came to love. He goes into detail about the fire that leaves nothing to the imagination. His descriptions were so vivid , I could almost smell the smoke rising into the sky. The air was hard to breathe as the smoke billowed above with thick layers of ash. He didn't just lose his home and land , he also survived a natural disaster that would take a toll on him over the next several years. He questioned why he had rescued some things from the house , but left other perhaps more meaningful things behind. He tried to be strong for his wife and children, but at some point , he knew he needed someone to talk to.

I really appreciated his openness and willingness to share how this affected him and to show readers the effects that PTSD has on people. A traumatic event can trigger many things in a person's life and Randy recognized he needed help to move past the tragedy . The book was so well written as it shared the many people whose lives were affected by a fire that was out of control and in a instant left nothing but charred tress, houses burned beyond recognition and people who had to pick up and start over.

One of the most powerful statements he made in the book was, "I an healthy, I live with people who love me , and I them , and I live on a planet, and a community within that planet, that gives me everything my soul requires, even if I sometimes lack the faith or spirit to perceive it. The fire changed none of this, nor could it unless I gave it permission."


Lightning on a Quiet Night by Donn Taylor

I received a copy of this book from book fun.org and LightHouse Publishing of the Carolinas for an honest review From the very first page , I knew this was going to be a book I couldn't put down. The author writes about a small town much like that of Mayberry from the fifties. It's a quiet friendly town, where everyone knows each other. They are neighborly and watch out for each other. One of the main focus of the town is the sports team at the school. It seems like the whole town rallies around the promising team that almost makes it to the state tournament. One stormy night a tragedy occurs that rocks the small quiet town. Their secure little quaint town will be tested and no on seems immune from the backlash of this unforgettable act of violence. The author demonstrates his ability to write a fast pace book with many twists and turns. The town has been so rigid in their belief that nothing bad could ever happen in their town, that when the unthinkable happens, they all believe it was an act of violence from an outsider. How could they believe one of their own would harm another? The characters are well written with each one having to deal with their own acceptance of life in a small town , where violence steps in and takes their security away. I loved the history of an era almost forgotten and how the author writes with a flair of familiarity that gives readers a picture of that time period. The book has mystery, a little romance and people who you come to know by the words that gracefully glide across the pages. I could not put the book down and when I finished, I felt a sense of time traveling to an era that was an important part of history.

From Heaven to Earth by Adam F. Thompson

I received a copy of this book from bookfun.org and Destiny Image for an honest review I wasn't sure what to expect from this book knowing that sometimes this type of book is hard to understand or can be to in depth for me to comprehend. I was pleasantly surprised that the book had a natural flow that helped you to understand your giftings . In the book it talks about how "we are called to grow as Christians ." He wants us to get up and go out and be disciples for Him. He is calling us to a higher place and not to sit on the sidelines. I liked the author's details of interpreting dreams and how even in our dreams , God speaks to us. One of the most profound things the author say is "if you don't have a close relationship with God and you don't know the heart of the Father, it won't matter how gifted or how accurate you are in the prophetic-this gift will become a curse." The book will encourage you to seek a deeper relationship with God and gives you tools to reach further into where God has called you to minister. I enjoyed the book and appreciate how the author shows readers the depth of love that God has for us. God wants us to pursue Him and reach out to others to share the Word.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


DARK PLACES
by Reavis Wortham


At the tail end of 1967, the Parker family once again finds it impossible to hide from a world spinning out of control. Fourteen-year-old Top still can't fit in with their Center Springs, Texas, community or forget recent, vicious crimes. His near-twin cousin Pepper, desperate to escape her own demons, rashly joins the Flower Children flocking to California―just as two businessmen are kidnapped and murdered in the Red River bottoms on the same night a deadly hit and run kills a farmer. Constable Ned Parker wonders if these crimes are connected, but he goes after Pepper, leaving the investigation in the hands of Sheriff Cody Parker. Parker hires Deputy Anna Sloan, an investigator with an eye toward detail as everyone is eyeing her. Yet it is instinct that propels her after killers through a world nearly forgotten, the hunt’s backdrop one of continuous rain, gloomy skies, and floods. When she’s ambushed, the investigation accelerates into gunfire, chases, and hair-raising suspense. What of Pepper? Out on Route 66, the Mother Road to California, a man named Crow isn't what he seems. Lies, deceptions, and a band of outlaw motorcyclists proves to the Parkers that no matter where you turn, no matter what you do, the world is full of such darkness that even grandmothers are capable of unspeakable deeds.



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As a boy, award-winning writer Reavis Z. Wortham hunted and fished the river bottoms near Chicota, Texas, the inspiration for his fictional Center Springs. Reavis Z. Wortham’s critically acclaimed debut novel, The Rock Hole, was listed in a Starred Review by Kirkus Reviews as one of their “Top Mysteries of 2011.” Burrows, the second novel in this critically acclaimed series received a Starred Review from Publishers Weekly, and The Library Journal listed it as One of Nine Historical Mysteries for the Summer of 2012. Vengeance is Mine, Book 4, was listed by True West magazine as one of their Top 5 Modern Westerns of 2015. A retired educator of 35 years, Reavis and wife Shana live in Frisco, Texas.









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Monday, September 7, 2015


Friction By Sandra Brown

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley for an honest review
This a good story about Crawford Hunt, a Texas Ranger who is desperately trying to get his daughter Georgia  back. After his wife dies in a tragic accident, Crawford starts to drink and his life begins to unravel .

The custody of his daughter is given to the grandparents who feel Crawford can't take care of himself and certainly not his daughter. The custody disputes come to a head one morning in court. Crawford is determined to show the court he has changed and wants full custody .

Just as Judge Holly Spencer is about to render a decision, chaos breaks out in the courtroom. A lone gunman starts shooting. Who is the gunman's target? The story zips along at a face pace with action and a mystery of who the gunman is. Will Crawford discover the true identity of the gunman?

I liked the character development , but it did seem that the relationship between the Judge and Crawford was a little rushed. Overall the book was well written and had just the right amount of action to keep fans of Sandra Brown satisfied with another great book that holds  your attention.