education pathways

Home » Posts tagged 'drugs'

Tag Archives: drugs

Advertisements

Thunder of Heaven–the power of love

Thunder of Heaven

by Ted Dekker

Thunder of HeavenIn reading Ted Dekker’s Thunder of Heaven, I deviated somewhat from the types of books I usually read. My thirteen year old granddaughter recommended this Christian thriller, and I wanted to gain insight into her reading preferences. Having said that, I should clarify that Thunder of Heaven is not written for the younger reader; it is an adult novel without the inclusion of sex or vulgar language. I do not normally read thrillers; but, although suspenseful, this is not the kind of psychological thriller which will keep me up for nights to come. 

Shannon and Tanya have grown up in the jungles of Venezuela where Shannon’s parents are coffee farmers and Tanya’s parents are missionaries. Their blooming romance and happy lives are interrupted by horrific events in this action packed story that focuses on good versus evil, the sacrifices of love, and God’s bigger plan.

I had some confusion with the identity of the characters, but it eventually surfaces that the confusion is intentional and is resolved in the end. The plot is strong and intricate. The Venezuela jungle setting is interesting, well depicted, and perfect for the tale Dekker weaves.

Thunder of Heaven deals with some of the bigger spiritual questions. Can God use evil for good? Can a person become possessed by satanic powers? Can a Christian have a vision from God? What is the ultimate sacrifice? The exploration of these topics is not simplistic and is woven throughout the book coming to a head in the resolution of the conflict.

I am new to Dekker’s work, but Dekker is not new to suspense aficionados. A best-selling author, he has written over thirty books which have been translated into multiple languages. Two of his works have been made into films. His chosen genres for his storytelling are thriller and suspense, fantasy and speculative, and historical fiction. I’m looking forward to reading more novels by this author.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Thriller, Christian Fiction

Notes: Thunder of Heaven is book 3 of the Heaven Trilogy, but as the publisher says, “Each is a stand alone story that in no way depends on the other.”

Publication:   August 28, 2005—Thomas Nelson

Memorable Lines:

“If your life made too much sense to you, you might forget about God altogether. It is man’s most prolific sin—to be full of himself. But your tormenting has left you soft, like a sponge for his words. It’s your greatest blessing.”

“We see only the terrible tragedy; he sees more. He sees the ultimate glory.”

Abdullah was no one to play with. His heart was the color of his eyes, Yuri thought. Black.

Father…dear God, I’m lost down here. Forgive me. I’m lost and lonely and confused. I hate this man and I hate that I hate him. And I don’t even know if that’s possible! What are you doing? What is your purpose here?

Advertisements

It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way: Finding Unexpected Strength When Disappointments Leave You Shattered

It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way: Finding Unexpected Strength When Disappointments Leave You Shattered

by Lysa Terkeurst

It's Not Supposed to be This WayWe all have had or will have painful, disconcerting times in our lives—times when we feel that life is not supposed to be the way it is. Lysa Terkeurst, in It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way, shares three major struggles she has been through over the course of a three year period. This book was written in the midst of these extremely hard times when the pain, both physical and emotional were still raw. She talks of her profound agony and grief in hopes that others will benefit from what she has learned and from having a friend walk alongside them through dark times. The despair we feel comes from disappointment which Lysa defines as the difference between our expectations of what life should be like and our reality.

Lisa had to face life-shattering, life-altering and potentially life-ending events with all of the usual questions. Why me? Why now? Regardless of the reader’s circumstances, they will be able to identify with the depth of Lysa’s pain even if the source is different.

This book is not a Hollywood style “tell all.” Lisa only shares enough of the details of her trials for the reader to understand that any one of these events could be more than a person could bear, and Lysa experiences three of them in a short timespan. She tells how she struggled against attacks from within and without and how leaning into God’s word and truth and love sustained her.

Lysa’s writing style is honest and accessible. She is a Bible teacher who has applied the truths of the Bible to her unique circumstances but is also able to show how they apply to anyone who feels that life is not supposed to be the way they are experiencing it. With chapter titles like “But How Do I Get Through the Next 86,400 Seconds,” you know that Lysa “gets it.” She understands just how making it through the tiny portions of one day can constitute a huge struggle.

Each chapter concludes with a “Going to the Well” section that summarizes the major points, provides related Scripture references, and offers questions to reflect on. She ends it with a heartfelt, from-the-soul prayer as she continues reaching out to and trusting in God, the source of her strength for the ache in her soul.

Rating:  5/5

Category: Christian, Nonfiction

Notes: Also available, a video teaching series for this book

Publication:   November 13, 2018—Thomas Nelson

Memorable Lines:

Humans are very attached to outcomes. We say we trust God but behind the scenes we work our fingers to the bone and our emotions into a tangled fray trying to control our outcomes.

No, I believe it took every bit of holy restraint within Him to not step in and remove my pain. He loved me too much to do the very thing I was begging Him to do. He knew things I didn’t know. He saw a bigger picture I couldn’t see. His mercy was too great. His love too deep.

The thrashing winds of the storm are gone, but the consequences make it impossible to return to something that feels normal. We make brief visits to normal, but there’s a lot of emotional debris to which we must tend. Little by little, we make progress in the two-steps-forward-one-step-back kind of way.

Dead of Winter–being there for others

Dead of Winter

by Annelise Ryan

Dead of WinterAs snowstorm after snowstorm blows through the U.S., I am reading about similar circumstances in Wisconsin where Mattie Winston, a medico-legal death investigator and former OR and ER nurse, is involved in several cases. The primary focus of Dead of Winter by Annelise Ryan is the brutal death of a teenage girl whose little sister is also missing. In addition, Mattie has to investigate the death of the director of a local theater group which includes Dom who is her friend, the partner of her boss, and also the caregiver for her son.

The investigation of all three crimes moves along at a pace that is frustrating to those involved, especially locating the missing child who is obviously in danger. Interwoven with the professional issues is Mattie’s personal life with her husband, his teenage daughter, and their two-year old son. The little one is a challenge if left alone even briefly. Mattie juggles motherhood with a part-time job that holds full-time intensity.

I originally thought, when I read my first book (#8) in this series that the descriptions at the morgue would be too graphic for me. Because the setting is one of compassion from the coroner, the EMT’s, and the law enforcement officers, that was not the case. I appreciate the author’s ability to show how those who are tasked with solving crimes and helping victims are able to work their cases, maintain their personal relationships, and perform daily necessary tasks. Balancing all of those roles must be very difficult. Clues don’t always pan out. Sometimes even strong people get sick. Kids can misbehave at the most inopportune of times. Lovers quarrel. But the author shows how those we depend on show up and do their best regardless of the chaos in their own lives.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #10 in the Mattie Winston Mystery Series, but the author encapsulates the series background handily for the new reader.

Publication:   February 26, 2019—Kensington Press

Memorable Lines:

“It seems easy at first because you’re so in love with a person, and you feel like you’d be willing to sacrifice anything, do anything, be anything, just so you can be with them. But eventually the shiny finish on that new relationship wears off, revealing the rust and dull metal beneath. And after a while, you start to question how much of yourself you’re willing to give up to make someone else happy.”

…he’s as nervous as a blind man navigating a floor covered with thumbtacks…”

Amazing that so much beauty can come out of all that meteorological fury.

Broken Heart Attack–good series

Broken Heart Attack

by James J. Cudney

broken heart attackThe best way for me to describe the beginning of Broken Heart Attack is “hyperactive,” a label which is meant to be descriptive, not positive or negative. Author James J. Cudney packs a lot into the first several chapters as he brings readers up to speed on the events in the first book of the series and introduces a complex plot with a lot of characters.

The main mystery of Broken Heart Attack centers around the Paddington family, murder, and a missing will. Unfortunately, the Paddington family is quite dysfunctional, and there is not one member of the family that I could relate to or invest myself in. In other words, by the end of the book, I really didn’t care who the murderer was.

A side issue to the murder is a paternity case. Other stories that affect the main character, Kellan, continue from the first book but make little progress: the reappearance of a presumed dead wife, conflict with co-worker Myriam, a potential love triangle involving friends Connor and Maggie, and a possible softening in his relationship with Sheriff Montague.

I purchased this book; it was not an advance copy. Therefore, I was surprised to see a number of errors. Some were obviously a case of  autocorrect gone wrong, some were spelling, and some were, more egregiously, pronoun usage. This is particularly startling because the author rarely has errors in his posted book reviews.

On the positive side, Nana D continues to provide humor and Kellan is a likeable character. Would I read another book in this cozy mystery series? Absolutely! I would particularly like to see what happens as Kellan is pressured by his wife’s mob family, the Castiglianos. I would urge the author to write the next book at a less frenetic pace with more character development. He has the beginnings of a good series with interesting plots and a college setting that provides a background with multiple possibilities. The Braxton Campus Mystery Series definitely has a lot of potential.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #2 in the Braxton Campus Mystery Series. It could be read as a standalone, but would be more fun in sequence.

Publication:   November 25, 2018—Creativia

Memorable Lines:

I loved my nana, but her friends were harder to handle than standing upside down catching a greasy pig in a mud slide.

Eustacia and Nana D had some sort of symbiotic relationship where they often couldn’t stand to be around one another but if ever two days went by without time for tea or gossip, the world might’ve come to an end.

I woke up Thursday morning with a hangover so painful my head had put out a foreclosure sign.

‘Twas the Knife Before Christmas–a Christmas cozy mystery

’Twas the Knife Before Christmas

by Jacqueline Frost

'Twas the Knife Before ChristmasI have to applaud Jacqueline Frost for ’Twas the Knife Before Christmas, the second book in her Christmas Tree Farm Mysteries. Full of the Christmas spirit, it is a fun read and a delightful cozy mystery. The story begins with an introduction to the engaging town of Mistletoe, the main character Holly, and the setting of Reindeer Games which is Holly’s family’s Christmas tree farm. Unfortunately, a murder is discovered at a very Christmasy unveiling. Holly is determined to find the murderer who is also trying to frame Holly’s friend Caroline. Sheriff Evan Gray is equally determined to keep Holly alive despite her dangerous investigative efforts.

’Twas the Knife Before Christmas is a solid mystery with interesting and well-developed characters. The plot has twists and turns, some romance, and a little Christmas magic, making it a cozy mystery you won’t want to miss this Christmas season.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Crooked Lane Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #2 in the Christmas Tree Farm Mystery Series but works well as a standalone.

Publication:  November 13, 2018—Crooked Lane Books

Memorable Lines:

…she’d taught me to love art the way she loved life: voraciously and with spirit.

Unfortunately, Mom and I also shared a soft personality. We were bleeding hearts, givers of fifteenth chances, and avid avoiders of conflict, at least when the problem only concerned ourselves. Basically, we’d fight black bears with our hands for someone else, then let the bear eat us if we thought he was hungry.

The homes in Derek’s neighborhood were oversized and overpriced. It was the kind of place where people with four-car attached garages parked outside all summer just to show off their vehicles and further inflate their already out-of-control egos.

A Cold Brew Killing–political aspirations turn deadly

A Cold Brew Killing

by Lena Gregory

A Cold Brew KillingA group of former high school friends converge on their hometown in Florida as two of their number compete for the job of mayor. As all eyes are focused on the politics, one is found murdered in the ice cream shop belonging to Gia’s friend, Trevor. Trevor appears guilty, and Gia wonders if she knew him as well as she thought she did.

If you have read other books in the series, you will remember the regular cast of characters. In A Cold Brew Killing, author Lena Gregory gives more depth to these characters as she reveals some of their background. She also adds many more characters for this storyline. The author boldly dances between plot threads and the importance of characters, intertwining the two into an inseparable and fascinating storyline. Are secrets of the past playing out in the present? How far should one go to keep a secret that protects someone else?

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Lyrical Underground (Kensington Press) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: 1. #3 in the All-Day Breakfast Café Series, but can be read as a standalone

2. If you are not a coffee drinker or are an old school coffee drinker, you can learn about something new: cold brew coffee!

Publication:   November 6, 2018—Kensington Press (Lyrical Underground)

Memorable Lines:

“I believe there are a few people we meet in our lives who are meant to be a part of something special. Sometimes lasting friends, other times just part of an important event in your life. Either way, I think we recognize those people when our paths cross.”

Her mental to-do list was getting longer and longer. If she didn’t start writing this stuff down somewhere, there was no way she’d remember to do it all. She hadn’t even remembered she was supposed to go away in less than a day.

Sometimes you didn’t need a friend to interfere; sometimes you needed them to stand by while you made a mess of your life, then jump in and help pick up the pieces.

Killed on Blueberry Hill–murder at the Blueberry Blowout

Killed on Blueberry Hill

by Sharon Farrow

Killed on Blueberry HillOh, yes! I have a new series to add to a favorites list for cozy mysteries. Although I jumped into Sharon Farrow’s Berry Basket Mystery Series with the third book, I had no trouble following the storyline of Killed on Blueberry Hill. At first, given the theme of the book and the series, I was afraid blueberries would be overdone in this book. While they do take center stage as a motif, the emphasis is not forced because the setting is Oriole Point’s Blueberry Blow Out festival. It is, in fact, integral to the plot. Although blueberries are found all through the book, their inclusion is not repetitious because of the variety of ways the theme is used—food, drinks, atmosphere, businesses, costumes, and carnival fun.

The plot of Killed on Blueberry Hill has lots of threads that tie together well…in the end. Along the way they seem contradictory and confusing, pointing a finger at many suspects with plausible motives. This cozy mystery contains a wonderful assortment of characters, but many are not who they seem to be. Secrets and deceptions underlie the festive atmosphere. Marlee is the owner of The Berry Basket, a store in town that sells blueberry products, so she knows the three major producers, all family-run businesses. Her fiancé Ryan is a member of the close-knit Zellar family. Why is he pushing Marlee so hard on the wedding date, selling her family home, and just about every other decision in her life? When the owner of another blueberry farm is murdered on his own carnival ride, who will get the blame? There are several deaths in Oriole County. Who is set to inherit the wealth? This cozy has an exciting, action packed ending and major surprises. Along the way we meet Natasha, the recently widowed Miss Russia, with her delightful accent and choice of words. Not only does she add humor to the book, but she is instrumental in helping Marlee. I don’t know if Natasha will be included in future books in the series, but I hope so. She ramped up the book from 4 stars to 5 for me.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #3 in the Berry Basket Mystery Series, but works well as a standalone. Added to the book are three delicious sounding recipes that were featured in the story—blueberry, of course.

Publication:   October 30, 2018—Kensington Publishing

Memorable Lines:

When I came to a stop in front of the yellow farmhouse, I could almost see my younger pigtailed self on the bottom porch step, eating fresh-picked blueberries from a pail. It seemed a lifetime ago. But also as recent as last month.

“Don’t be such a snob. Not everyone was born with an entire set of silver spoons in their mouth.”

I threw myself into work with such single-minded dedication, Ebenezer Scrooge himself would have given me a raise. And he wouldn’t have needed any visits from ghosts to prompt it.

%d bloggers like this: