Friday, July 21, 2017

The Alliance by Jolina Petersheim

The Alliance by Jolina Petersheim - 423 pages

This story is about an old order Mennonite community working with Englishers when electricity suddenly goes out, cars won't start etc.

How the English and Mennonites survive together is trying.

It was o.k. but I hate the way the ending left you hanging about so many things.

The Teacher's Funeral by Richard Peck

The Teacher's Funeral: A Comedy in Three Parts by Richard Peck - 192 pages

Russell Culver, 15 years, is more than ready to be done with his schooling.  He thought his dream was come true when the teacher up and dies weeks before school starts, but it quickly turns into a nightmare.  His sister Tansy is hired as the new teacher at their one-room school.

This story takes place in rural Indiana in 1904.  The historical details are quite good.  I also enjoyed the male characters who thought schooling was useless -- in fact, it reminded me of my grandfather and his thoughts on not needing education past the 8th grade.  My only complaint with the book was that the narration would switch unexpectedly from being present tense in the 1904 to then including memories from an adult Russell.  It was very confusing.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn

For Women Only: What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men by Shaunti Feldhahn -- 224 pages

What's going on in there? Ever been totally confused by something your man has said or done? Want to understand his secret desires and fears, his daily battles that you know nothing about? 

In trying to explain that the man in your life has hidden insecurities, what they're about, and why he might be discouraged, this book almost seemed to paint men out to be wimpy. But then I remembered, this book is focusing on what women probably don't know about men. We already know that men are resilient and often forgiving, but maybe we don't even know what they are forgiving, because we've never understood their struggles. I found this book helpful, and it encouraged me to do my best to build up the men in my life, significant other or otherwise.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Matchup edited by Lee Child

Matchup edited by Lee Child --- 445 pages including an Introduction and Author Biographies.

Another entry in a series of short story anthologies organized by the International Thriller Writers. This one is edited by Lee Child, author of the Jack Reacher novels. In this anthology, Child has invited twenty-two best selling thriller writers to work in pairs --- one female and one male author ---
and collaborate on eleven short stories that combine iconic characters from both fictional worlds.

The results are a delight to read. Child also contributes an Introduction explaining how the concept for the book evolved, as well as short intros to each story, giving a behind-the-scenes peek at how each pair of authors came up with their own unique methods of collaboration. Kathy Reichs' Temperance Brennan and Lee Child's Jack Reacher, Lisa Jackson's Regan Pescoli and John Sandford's Virgil Flowers, Karin Slaughter's Jeffrey Tolliver and Michael Koryta's Joe Pritchard were my favorites, but there's not a bad story in this bunch.

Click HERE to read the review from Kirkus Reviews.

Click HERE to read the review from Publishers' Weekly.

Click HERE to read the review from The Real Book Spy web site.

The Sixth Man by David Baldacci

The Sixth Man by David Baldacci
Sean King & Michelle Maxwell #5
417 pages / 12 hrs, 36 mins

"Edgar Roy - an alleged serial killer held in a secure, fortress-like Federal Supermax facility is awaiting trial. He faces almost certain conviction. Sean King and Michelle Maxwell are called in by Roy's attorney, Sean's old friend and mentor Ted Bergin, to help work the case. But their investigation is derailed before it begins--en route to their first meeting with Bergin, Sean and Michelle find him murdered.
It is now up to them to ask the questions no one seems to want answered: Is Roy a killer? Who murdered Bergin? With help from some surprising allies, they continue to pursue the case. But the more they dig into Roy's past, the more they encounter obstacles, half-truths, dead-ends, false friends, and escalating threats from every direction. Their persistence puts them on a collision course with the highest levels of the government and the darkest corners of power. In a terrifying confrontation that will push Sean and Michelle to their limits..."  --from the publisher

I think this one lives up to the above description.  The Kirkus review says, "Authentic scenario, mystery piled on misdirection and more double-crosses than a tic-tac-toe tournament."  The action doesn't stop, and Baldacci gives the reader enough description to make it very real.  Also, this is my first read of the series and I never felt disconnected.  It can definitely stand alone.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Played! by Michael A. Kahn

Played! by Michael A. Kahn --- 230 pages

Michael A. Kahn is an intellectual property attorney, a professor at the Washington University Law School, and a mystery novelist best known for his Rachel Gold series, and occasionally for other mysteries with attorney protagonists. All his stories are set in St. Louis and/or Chicago, and part of the fun is identifying persons, places, events and customs unique to those locales as they show up in his books.

This latest tale is one of the "other" mysteries not part of the Rachel Gold series but always featuring at least a cameo appearance by her.

In "Played!" the story revolves around a nerdy workaholic attorney intent on bringing down a personal injury shyster who's been running a double scam for years, cheating both the insurance companies he sues on behalf of his injured clients, and then cheating his clients on the money he collects from the insurance companies.

Unbeknownst to our legal champion, his gullible younger brother, sidelined by a motorcycle injury from the pro baseball career he dreams of, has gotten involved with the shyster's third wife, who needs a fall guy to get around her prenuptial agreement by staging her own kidnapping and collecting ransom money in place of a divorce settlement.

Kirkus Reviews says: ". . .the spectacle of these ornaments of the Missouri bar attacking, undermining, and double-crossing each other provides brisk, sprightly entertainment, and the hapless defendant’s baseball background comes into play just when it’s most needed."

A great read to enjoy in a cool place on a hot summer day with a glass of something frosty at hand.

Click HERE to read the full review from Kirkus Reviews.

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity by Nabeel Qureshi

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity by Nabeel Qureshi -- 296 pages

Nabeel explains the difference between an eastern mindset and a western mindset. It may be hard for us to full comprehend here in the west just how fully those in the east rely on their elders and those in authority. For first generation eastern immigrants in the US, it is very hard to connect with those here, because our thinking is just so foreign. For second generation eastern immigrants, it is very hard to continue in their parents' ways when the western world tells them not to rely on authority, but to examine the evidence themselves.
That's what Nabeel was finally confronted with, the challenge to examine his own beloved faith and find out for himself just what he believed.
The journey costed him everything, but it also gained him happiness he had never dreamed of.
His story is incredible as well as very enlightening. I listened to it within days and hung on to every word. I'd recommend this book to anyone.