Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Review ... A Man's Heart by Lori Copeland

A Man's Heart, set in the potato-growing district of Washington state, is the story of Jules and her one true love, Cruz.  Jules knows that she will never love another man the way that she loves Cruz.  So why is it that, when the wedding day draws near, she calls it off -- not just one time, but two times? Certainly not because she doesn't love Cruz, but because she has goals that she has not yet attained and perhaps she is, quite simply, afraid to commit.  Cruz, his heart bruised by her betrayal, vows that he will never again give Jules the opportunity to wound him. Can't say that I blame him, can you?

When, after a span of four long years, a chain of circumstances arises that throws Cruz and Jules into constant, nearly daily, contact with one another, they both put up barriers to protect themselves from being hurt once again. However, it seems that God has other plans if they are only willing to yield their futures and their hearts to His divine will.

The plots and subplots in this book are so intricately woven together that it is an emotional roller coaster ride from the first page to the satisfying conclusion.  Lori Copeland has created characters who are real and who have true-to-life struggles.  She has shown quite clearly that it is only when we are willing to surrender all to Him can we ever expect to attain the level of joy that is waiting for us.  Only He has the answers to all of our questions, the solution to all of our problems, and only He can provide a way when there seems to be no way. As I read this book, I mourned with Jules and Cruz and happily rejoiced with them when God stepped in and proved His faithfulness. 

The scripture that came to me as I read A Man's Heart is found in  Psalms 31:7 (KJV): "I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy: for thou hast considered my trouble; thou hast known my soul in adversities." Certainly there was an abundance of adversity that Jules, Cruz, and other family members had to combat throughout the course of the book.   But, they ultimately learned the truth of Psalms 126:5 (KJV): "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy."

I first read a book by Lori Copeland in 2002.  (I know this because I keep a log of every single book that I read, including the date that I read it and the number of pages in the book).  It has, admittedlly, been a while since that I read that first book.  However, one thing that I do remember is that from that day forward I was always on the lookout for a new release by her.  Lori has the ability to create realistic characters and place them in situations that are also tenable. She will keep you engrossed until the last page and you will be blessed by what you read and the lessons depicted.

To learn more about Lori Copeland and her books, you can find her at her web site.  Her books can be purchased at several locations including Zondervan, Christian Book Distributors, Amazon, and your favorite Christian book store.

A Man's Heart was given to me by Library Thing Early Reviewers for review purposes.  I was not obligated in any way to give a positive review.  All opinions and statements contained in this review are solely the opinion of the writer of the review. I received no compensation in any form for providing this review.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sir Rowan & Sir Quinlan by Chuck Black

Quite by coincidence, I received two books from the same series to review . Although they came from different sources, I have chosen to review both of them in this same post since they arrived at nearly the same time.

Sir Quinlan and the Swords of Valor is book 5 in The Knights of Arrethtrae series by author Chuck Black. Sir Quinlan, more commonly known as Twitch to his friends, responds to the call given by Sir Baylor to join him and the knights known as the Swords of Valor in their fight for the Prince and His kingdom. Twitch mistakenly believes that the true call was for his friend, Tav, who is everything that Twitch wishes he could be in order to be a true Knight of the Prince. However, as is often the case, the call is not to the one who seems to be the most qualified, but rather, to the one who is most willing to serve.

Tav, who enjoys the status, position, and comforts of being a Knight of the Prince, not to mention the attention of the ladies, declines the call to follow his uncle, Sir Baylor, choosing rather to stay at home and live a life of ease.

The writer takes us on a journey, a journey that requires the Knights 0f Valor to battle the evil forces of the Dark Knight, Lucius, and his minions. When Sir Baylor is killed in battle, Sir Quinlan blames himself and mistakenly believes the death also signifies the demise of the Swords of Valor;  subsequently, he returns to his childhood home and friends. Dissatisfied with his former life, he roams about the kingdom, seeking redemption. Events transpire that bring about and encounter between Quinlan and the Silent Warrior who offers Quinlan a chance to redeem himself. Quinlan agrees to undergo extremely rigorous and grueling training in order to prepare himself to better serve the Prince. Then comes the day that Sir Quinlan is given a mission by the Prince Himself and he must reunite the Swords of Valor in order to succeed.

Sir Rowan and the Camerian Conquest is book 6 in The Knights of Arrethtrae series by Chuck Black. As a poor stable boy, Rowan dreams of becoming a swordsman and practices with his homemade wooden sword every opportunity he gets. He knows that his chances of ever achieving his dream are nearly impossible, but nothing can stop a boy from dreaming, can it? One day he crosses paths with Sir Aldwyn and begs to buy the chance to merely hold Sir Aldwyn's sword for a moment. Sir Aldwyn obliges and, in the process, recognizes the innate skill that Rowan possesses. Sir Aldwyn takes Rowan under his tutelage and begins to train him to serve as a warrior for the Prince.

However, seeking fame and fortune, Rowan becomes enamored of the glamour of the lifestyle that can be obtained as a tournament participant. Rowan goes on to become the champion of the tournament and amasses a huge fortune and many fans. On the way to the tournament that will prove him to be the champion of all Cameria, he encounters the mysterious knight who warns him that he is on the wrong path and that he should turn back. Turn back from fame, wealth, and all the power of the position? Not likely, Rowan thinks. Soon after, he and his party are attacked, his companions are killed, and Rowan is taken prisoner.

Held captive for many months and left to die by his captors, Rowan repents of his wrong choices and vows to serve the Prince if only he can escape his prison. Following his rescue, he learns that the entire realm has been overthrown by the Dark Knight's forces and people's eyes are blinded to reality. Rowan joins forces with a group of followers of the Prince and prepares for the battle to regain Cameria from the control of Lucius. In an allegorical portrayal of Biblical events found in the prophecies, the battle commences and Sir Rowan endeavors to prove his loyalty to the Prince.

My opinion:

I was afraid that, by not beginning with the first book of the series, I would not be able to follow the storyline. Happily, this was not the case. Each book is about a different knight of the Prince and, as such, their stories can easily stand alone. The allegory is an obvious one. The parallels between the Prince and the Dark Knight are very apparent. The stories are outstanding, extremely well written, and completely engaging. I can't say enough good things about these books. They are packed full of action and suspense and closely align with the battle that Christians are fighting on a daily basis. The violence is rampant and the clashing of swords quite vividly portrays the battle that is ongoing between good and evil. The books are written for youth but are so well-written and engaging that they will appeal to readers of all ages. I highly recommend this series. On a personal level, it is my intent to procure all previous and future books in this series and make them available to young people who desperately need to see the Battle portrayed in such a convincing manner. This is a Battle in which every one of us is a soldier. The question is, on which side are we fighting?

I received book 5, Sir Quinlan and the Swords of Valor,  for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

I received book 6, Sir Rowan and the Camerian Quest,  as a GoodReads first reader book.

I am under no obligation to write a positive review and opinions expressed are my true and honest sentiments. I receive no compensation, whether monetary or otherwise, for any reviews written by me.

Review and giveaway of Mush by Clay Morgan Wilson IV

I am going to begin with my review of Mush by Clay Morgan Wilson IV.   The basic premise behind this book is initially quite intriguing.  Seventy year old Clay Morgan has been instructed by his doctor that, due to some vaguely described physical ailment, he cannot fly from his home to his youngest son's wedding.  His two older sons come up with the idea of renting an RV and making the three thousand mile trip to Washington, D.C. by way of the scenic and historic Route 66.   The agreement is that the boys will drive and Dad will entertain them by telling stories.  The only caveat is that they must keep him supplied with his favorite snack, which I will not reveal but will leave it to you to discover.  No snack, no stories.

The three men set forth on their journey and the remainder of the book is interlaced with both the stories that Clay Morgan tells as they travel and the true life adventures of their journey.  The stories that the senior Morgan tells are extremely humorous at times, filled with laugh-out-loud drama.  They also display the handiwork of God as He works in the lives of the characters in the stories. This is a book of love between parents and children, love between siblings, and, most importantly, love between God and His people.

I would have enjoyed this book much better had it not been riddled throughout with grammatical errors.  I realize that it is nearly impossible to catch every error when editing a book and always allow for some human error; however, the number of errors in this book was extreme to the point of being annoying.

Mush seemed almost anticlimactic in that partway through the trip the men discovered that they had dawdled too long and needed to hurry in order to reach their final destination in time for the wedding.   One minute we were in St. Louis and suddenly we are dropped in Washington with seemingly no time elapsed.   I say "we" because it truly seemed as if we were in the RV and traveling right along with Clay and his sons.  In this respect, the book was very well-written.

While this book has many good features to recommend it, the presence of the copious grammatical errors  prevents me from giving it a high rating.  I was not fully engaged in the story to the point that the 400 plus pages kept my undivided attention.  Rather, I found myself repeatedly checking to see how many more pages I had left to read.  If you are not overly disturbed by grammatical errors in a book, you will probably enjoy this book much more than I did.  Another factor that prevented me from enjoying it was the fact that there were numerous detailed discussions about bodily functions and their accompanying sounds.  Some people enjoy that type of humor; I don't.  I won't discount the value of the story simply because there were elements in it that were somewhat objectionable to me because I know that not everyone feels as strongly about these matters as I do.

About the author

Clay Morgan Wilson IV is a dentist, writer, and photographer.  His college major was initially journalism but he changed to psychology because journalism required too much writing.  Little did he know that psychology required even more!  He entered the pre-dental program at Texas Southern University and his earned his dental degree at Howard university, graduating in 1983.  His writing career began with the writing of a play for the singles group at the church he attended in Sacramento.

He is married to Linda White and has three sons, Clay V, Jonathan, and Sean.  The sons of Clay Morgan in the book are named after his own sons.  Clay has recently completed writing Mush II and is currently working on Mush III.  In addition to continuing his dental practice, he is also a photographer and has several other books in the works.  He recently earned a black belt in Martial Arts. 

What a busy man he must be! His resume makes me wonder when he has time to sleep and eat! 

You can purchase his book at Xulon Press Christian Bookstore.


I am offering a giveaway of this book.  In order to enter, you must leave a comment along with your email address so I can contact you if you are the winner.  If you do not leave an email address, I will not be able to reach you and the book will be awarded to a different reader.  Please be sure to leave your address in spam-proof format such as this:  reader[at]email provider[dot]com.  This contest will close on January 29th. 

This book was provided to me by the author in exchange for my review.  I was under no obligation to write a positive review and opinions expressed are my true and honest sentiments. I receive no compensation, whether monetary or otherwise, for any reviews written by me or for any other content on this blog.

Giveaways are either provided by the author or publisher or are my own personal property. I am not responsible for the content or for any comments made by the author or publisher. Giveaways are void where prohibited and, for now, are limited to the United States and Canada only. Chances of winning are dependent upon the number of valid entries. At the conclusion of every contest, a random winner is drawn and will be notified, providing they have met the giveaway stipulations. If the winner does not respond within one week, a second drawing will be held.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Coming up ... Lots of reviews and several free books too!

As if the hustle and bustle of the holiday season weren't sufficient, I just had to go and get another respiratory infection. Now, as a result of not being able to do anything other than lounge around the house for several days, I have a stack of ten books waiting to have reviews written for them. In the next few days I hope to be able to post quite a few of the reviews and some, but not all, of them will have a giveaway to go along with the review. So, keep checking in at Write About Now over the next few weeks to see what is new and also to enter for a chance to win some good books.