Shadow Sister – A Review

Shadow Sister by Katherine Scott Jones
Released August 28th, 2018

Working on her father’s vineyard allows Sarah Lanning to bury memories of a lost love and a career that might have been. But then her fractured family receives word that her estranged sister, Jenna, is dead, leaving behind an unexpected request: that Sarah travel to Bolivia to scatter her ashes.

Accompanied by pilot Chase Maddox, Sarah embarks on an Andean journey that tests her devotion to home and exposes Jenna’s secret life. Each staggering discovery creates new mysteries—until the last, which leaves Sarah questioning everything she understood about family loyalty. At a crossroads, she must decide whether truth is worth the cost of forgiveness—and whether she can lay claim to a future of happiness without it.

Bittersweet and bold, Shadow Sister explores the mysteries of the human heart and the bond of unquenchable love.

My Review

Something niggled at the back of my mind after reading this book. The story, despite my struggles with the present tense author voice, did prove to stay interesting enough to keep my attention. The clues to Jenna’s secret did feel a bit put off and contrived, but only a very little. I rather liked Sarah, and the variety of nationalities and personalities among the characters themselves showed through quite well most of the time. While the descriptions felt a little too descriptive for my taste, I consider that preference, and I really was able to picture the vineyards, the slopes, and the Bolivian village with great clarity, thanks to the colorful manner used by the author.

After consideration though, I finally hit upon what bothered me the most about Shadow Sister. For claiming to have a Christian undercurrent – for the majority of the main characters having claimed Christ and mentioning Jesus on multiple occasions, – this book did not have an undercurrent of Christian worldview. One of the characters is touted as almost a saint by the words of several characters, but almost none of her actions are ones that stem directly from a Biblical framework. The book claimed to be centered in an area where women are regarded as property and are presumably ill-used by their husbands, but with one single exception, the “mistreatment” is never shown. Instead, the life of a wife and mother is downplayed, and the need for an education, the ability to hold down a job, and be able to “stand up to” one’s husband are the main things that are pushed for this Bolivian community. While, I won’t ever say one shouldn’t be able to read – it’s a grand thing and reading the Bible should be one of the chief pleasures for an able Christian – none of these things are pushed in the Bible. It’s not a requisite, while honoring one’s husband is, and the tone of the book pushed education above that Biblical mandate.

The ghost of Sarah’s sister passing around in two houses after death also threw me off. No where, do I see a Biblical framework for such a thing, though the book tried to make it link in with the story of Lazarus.

Perhaps my greatest issue with the book though is how the author dealt with the sin of marital infidelity. The Bible places strong emphasis on the importance of staying true to your own husband or wife. Jesus, Paul, the book of Proverbs… While one person mentions in, almost in passing, that “it was wrong” there was very little weight given to the sin. Sure, consequences are shown to an extent, but not really. It was almost excused. One of the people in question, treated with a pity that he in no way deserved. If this had been a secular book, I wouldn’t have been surprised and would have rated the book higher – I wouldn’t have expected a stronger moral compass. However, the claims of Christianity, led me to disappointment and sorrow at the way in which adultery and even fornication were handled. Why the characters fell into this sin doesn’t matter, they did it, and it should be shown as the sin that it is, if it is to be included in the story.

Also, the lying behavior of another character in another topic altogether was excused on account of fear. While I can agree that fear will lead to sin, it does not excuse it. Lying, even by omission, is bearing a false witness and is, therefore, a sin. Exodus 20:16. It should not be justified. Forgiven? Yes. Grace extended? Yes. Absolutely. I agree with the forgiveness shown, but the reasons behind a sin do not mitigate the sin. The lies allowed by this character caused deep wounds in those nearest them, which were shown very well. The writer handled betrayal and rejection well, I thought, up until the moment the reason for the sin seemed to wipe away everything else.

In conclusion, while an interesting story and even a good mystery, I could not recommend Shadow Sister.

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Katherine is giving away a grand prize that includes a personalized signed print copy of the book, a Shadow Sister bookmark, a Frame-able print, Book-lover’s tea, 6 Handcrafted notecards, and a set of vineyard-themed playing cards!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d25f/shadow-sister-celebration-tour-giveaway

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, September 4

Carpe Diem, September 4

Reflections From My Bookshelves, September 5

The Power of Words, September 5

Among the Reads, September 5

Fiction Aficionado, September 6

The Becca Files, September 6

RebekahsQuill, September 7

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, September 7

Bigreadersite, September 7

Just the Write Escape, September 8

Jennifer Sienes: Where Crisis and Christ Collide, September 8

Bibliophile Reviews, September 9

Living Life Free in Christ, September 9

Inspirationally Ever After, September 10

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, September 10

Texas Book-aholic, September 11

Livin Lit, September 11

Janices book reviews, September 12

Remembrancy, September 12

All-of-a-kind Mom, September 13

Inklings and notions, September 13

The Midnight Bookaholic, September 14

Pause for Tales, September 14

The Mimosa Blossom, September 14

Kelly Harrel, September 15

Two Points of Interest, September 15

A Baker’s Perspective, September 16

proud to be an autism mom, September 16

Godly Book Reviews, September 17

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 17

About the Author

Katherine Scott Jones grew up in cities on every U.S. coast and overseas as her family moved with her father’s Navy career. Seattle became home when she married her husband twenty-eight years ago. After graduating Whitworth University with a degree in communications, she established herself as a freelance writer before turning her hand to fiction. She blogs about books that celebrate beauty at www.katherinescottjones.com. Katherine and her husband have two teenage children. Shadow Sister is her second novel.

To the KING be all glory!

Points Worth – A Review

Points Worth by D.C. Marino

Released on March 30, 2018

For centuries the small port town of Points Worth has been able to communicate with the ocean in its own language. But the water has just gone silent and its last word has shaken those able to translate it. A knowledge of sea-script won’t be enough to mend the broken relationship between man and the deep. Gil, a young nautical linguist, will have to break rules and search the past to discover why the ocean ceased its tides—or had them stolen.

Points Worth is a novelette set in the world of Kingdom of Ruins, and is a prequel to the first book in the series.

My Review

For being so short, I found this story to be surprisingly enjoyable. To be honest, I read it because a friend of mine said she loved it, but I had low expectations. It took me two or three pages to get into the story, but once I did, I found the story fascinating, the author’s voice pleasant, and the main character likable. I’m looking forward to reading the novel that follows!

I would certainly recommend this book!

Giveaway

To celebrate the tour, Celebrate Lit is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/cece/points-worth-celebration-tour-giveaway\

Blog Stops

Blossoms and Blessings, June 14

Multifarious, June 15

A Baker’s Perspective, June 15

Fiction Aficionado, June 16

Remebrancy, June 17

Ashley’s Bookshelf, June 18

RebekahsQuill, June 19

Mommynificent, June 20

Christian Author, J.E.Grace, June 20

proud to be an autism mom, June 21

Bigreadersite, June 21

Texas Book-aholic, June 22

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, June 23

Janices book reviews, June 24

Margaret Kazmierczak, June 25

Jeanette’s Thoughts, June 26

Carpe Diem, June 27

About the Author

D.C. Marino is a dedicated reader of history books and fantasy novels, both of which occupy an equal amount of space on her bookshelves. But it wasn’t until she realized how one breathed life into the other that she became addicted to finding the intersections of the real world and the fairy story. Still more: what those intersections about us as a creative, curious people. Kingdom of Ruins is her debut novel.

To the KING be all the glory!

Plunge Into Darkness – A Review

Plunge into Darkness by Kristen N. Spencer

Released February 27, 2018

Two girls.

A village with a dark secret.

Their only hope is a mythical figure Ever Morena has only read about in her father’s lone book.

Ten years ago Ever’s best friend disappeared without a trace. Though the loss of her friend only came close to killing her then, the truth of what happened might finish the job now—just when her future as the village healer is looking bright.

Ever must risk everything she loves in order to plunge into darkness on an impossible journey in the middle of the Concealed Forest.

Never before has redemption been so costly.

Please note: This book contains subject matter which some may find troubling as it spotlights helping those who have experienced abuse. I tried to handle this topic as delicately as I could, keeping the reader’s experience in mind.

My Review

Where do I begin with this book?

I can truly say that I appreciated the heart and theme behind this story. Too often, we can be tempted to turn blind eye to those in need or refuse to dive into helping our neighbor because it’s messy and we might get our hands dirty. Sexual abuse, which is dealt with in some detail in this book, as well as torture and other forms of abuse, are particularly messy. We don’t want to get involved, we don’t want to deal with the aftermath, we don’t want to be seen as thinking that anyone could treat another human being that way. But they do and we need to be willing. “For I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me…” Galatians 2:20 We need to be the hands and feet of Christ, because that’s who He has called us to be, jump in, get dirty, and stop turning a blind eye. “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” I appreciated the much needed theme and it was shown with good clarity.

I, however, found the author’s depiction of Yacov, the Man of Sorrows, and the Book of Fables, representing God the Father, the Son, and the Bible respectively, to be disturbing. Particularly, Yacov and Man, as a representation of the LORD, were shown to be quite powerless without “human” aid, (I’m not sure the species of the characters in the book,) as if He depended on His own creation. The LORD does work through His children. “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12-13 He uses us as His hands and voice and feet, but if we don’t listen to Him, He can accomplish in another way, if He so chooses. He is not dependent on us. “The LORD said to him, ‘Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?'” Exodus 4:11 The LORD who does these things, does not depend on His creation to do His work – He does use us, and we are responsible when we disobey Him, but He can do whatever He pleases without us, if He wants to.

The basic story line disappointed me in some aspects. While well-written from a writer’s perspective, the child turned seventeen-year-old, who always has more wisdom than those around her, got tiresome, sad, and unrealistic. All of her elders were always in the wrong – except the one who came to agree with her. I would have far more enjoyed the story, if it were a family who reached out to young Dawn or if Ever had had wise advice and support from her family. Part of that is personal preference. Though, a seventeen-year-old doing unheard of actions on a feeling, is, I fear, a somewhat unwise story line to promote.

As I mentioned, I would call the book well-written. I liked the author’s writing voice. She knows how to use her words well to create a picture in your mind. Even when I disagreed with her the most, I never felt bored. Confused a few times, but not bored. Her cadence of words flowed nicely.

In conclusion, I agreed wholeheartedly with the message of the book – it’s a much needed one. I disagree with and am somewhat bothered by how the author chose to tell the story.

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Kristin is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Amazon Gift Card, ‘Plunge Into Darkness’ Paperback, Minimalism Art Classic Notebook Journal, and Huhuhero Fineliner Color Pen Set (10 Pack)!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/d070/plunge-into-darkness-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

Blog Stops

A Baker’s Perspective, June 5

Rebekah’s Quill, June 6

Blogging With Carol, June 7

Multifarious, June 8

Bigreadersite, June 8

Ashley’s Bookshelf, June 9

Two Points of Interest, June 10

Reading is my Super Power, June 10 (Interview)

Luv’N Lambert Life, June 11

Janices book reviews, June 11

proud to be an autism mom, June 12

Texas Book-aholic, June 12

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, June 13

Jeanette’s Thoughts, June 13

Carpe Diem, June 14

Pause for Tales, June 15

Margaret Kazmierczak, June 16

Christian Author, J.E.Grace, June 17

For The Love of Books, June 18

About the Author

Kristin N. Spencer spends part of each day imagining up new worlds and beings when she isn’t busy taking care of her three children and writing partner husband T. E. Spencer. When she’s not writing you can find her working in full time ministry, sewing cosplay costumes, or watching geekesque movies. She writes whatever genre she wants including but not limited to Non-Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Sci-Fi, Space Fantasy, and traditional Fantasy. Kristin studied Comparative World Literature at California State University, Long Beach and received a Bachelors, which she fondly calls a degree in reading. Her favorite movie is Sabrina (the Julia Ormond version) and her favorite person is Jesus.

To the KING be all the glory!

Journible: The 17:18 Series – A Review

The Journible 17:18 Series by Robert Wynalda and Dr. Joel R. Beeke

Released in 2009

Why the 17:18 series?
In Deuteronomy 17, Moses is leaving final instructions concerning the future of Israel. As a prophet of God, Moses foretells of when Israel will place a king over the nation (v. 14). In verse 18, the king is commanded to not simply acquire a copy of the law (the entire book of Deuteronomy) from the scroll publishing house, but to hand write his own copy of the law. Thirty-four hundred years later, educators are discovering that students that physically write out their notes by hand have a much greater retention rate than simply hearing or visually reading the information. Apparently, God knew this to be true of the kings of Israel also. From such understanding came the conception of this series of books.

How to Use These Books
Each book is organized so that you can write out your very own copy of Scripture. You will be writing the Bible text only on the right hand page of the book. This should make for easier writing and also allows ample space on the left page to write your own notes and comments. From time to time a question or word will be lightly printed on the left page; these questions are to aid in further study, but should not interfere with your own notes and comments.

My Review

I have the Journible for the book of Luke. I love it.

Copying out the Scriptures, while thinking through the verses and taking notes is a great way to help imprint God’s word on your mind.

The questions provided on the notes page aren’t too frequent, but they are often either thought provoking or make you consider a point that you normally gloss over. Every now and then, a question did strike me as odd – Who was Herod? – but that is likely personality type.

This is not a book you can rush through. I admit, I haven’t finished yet. Writing out the entire book of Luke by hand, takes time and effort, but it’s worth it and I have every intention of reaching completion.

I would highly recommend this series!

Giveaway

 To celebrate the tour, Reformation Heritage Books is giving away a grand prize of the entire set of New Testament Journibles!!

Click below to enter: https://promosimple.com/ps/cee2/journible-celebration-tour-giveaway

Blog Stops

 Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, May 17

Vicky Sluiter, May 17

Seasons of Opportunities, May 18

Lighthouse Academy, May 18

Bibliophile Reviews, May 19

Purposeful Learning, May 19

Eat, Read, Teach, Blog, May 20

Just the Write Escape, May 20

Because I said so – and other adventures in parenting, May 21

Book by Book, May 21

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 21

God’s Little Bookworm, May 22

Artistic Nobody, May 22

Genesis 5020, May 23

Simple Harvest Reads, May 23

Have A Wonderful Day, May 24

amandainpa, May 24

Bigreadersite, May 24

With a Joyful Noise, May 25

Pause for Tales, May 25

Jeanette’s Thoughts, May 25

Among the Reads, May 26

Live. Love. Read., May 26

Multifarious, May 27

Rebekah’s Quill, May 27

A Baker’s Perspective, May 28

proud to be an autism mom, May 28

Christian Author, J.E.Grace, May 29

Janices book reviews, May 29

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, May 30

Texas Book-aholic, May 30

 

About the Author

 Dr. Joel R. Beeke is president and professor of systematic theology and homiletics at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, a pastor of the Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregation in Grand Rapids, Michigan, editor of Banner of Sovereign Grace Truth, editorial director of Reformation Heritage Books, president of Inheritance Publishers, and vice-president of the Dutch Reformed Translation Society. He has written, co-authored, or edited seventy books (most recently, A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life, Living Zealously, Friends and Lovers: Cultivating Companionship and Intimacy in Marriage, Getting Back Into the Race: The Cure for Backsliding, Parenting by God’s Promises: How to Raise Children in the Covenant of Grace, Living for the Glory of God: An Introduction to Calvinism, Meet the Puritans, Contagious Christian Living, Calvin for Today, Developing a Healthy Prayer Life, and Taking Hold of God), and contributed 2,000 articles to Reformed books, journals, periodicals, and encyclopedias. His Ph.D. is in Reformation and Post-Reformation theology from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia). He is frequently called upon to lecture at seminaries and to speak at Reformed conferences around the world. He and his wife Mary have been blessed with three children: Calvin, Esther, and Lydia.

 

To the KING be all the glory!

Not a Word – A Review

Not a Word by Chautona Havig
Originally Published in 2013

Words have power. Add a solid reputation behind those words, and they have the power to destroy.

It began with a lie.

Mac’s life changed irrevocably with a false accusation. Blissfully unaware of the carnage she left behind when she moved from Brant’s Corners, Savannah Forrester is back and when Mac sees her at church–with a boy–he wants answers.

For eight years he’s lived under the cloud of her accusations–without defending himself. He kept her secret. He endured the shame and the life-altering consequences.

Savannah can set the record straight. Mac says no. The ultimate question remains: what is best for Rory.

And who is Rory really?

The Characters and Story:

This book is one of my favorites. I have read several by Chautona Havig and this one tops them all. (Though the Alexa Hartfield Mysteries do come in as a somewhat close second.)

Mac is a great character. I love watching him grow, as he starts out shielding the woman who he loves, which leads to his friend using his selflessness as an opportunity to witness. His growth from a slightly arrogant kid to mature man is very well done.

Savannah is also well done, though I admit, I got mad at her a few times. She feels rather insecure, but that’s understandable given her circumstances. I don’t dislike her; I just don’t like her as much as I do Mac. She is a good example of a Christian, who has never really been tested on their beliefs, and thinking that she was strong, she fell. “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.” 1 Corinthians 10:12.

Mrs. Havig did well writing a character that stood out as funny, but adorable. That character is Rory. There are a few times, when he couldn’t seem to stop talking, but that’s forgivable, considering he’s just a kid.

As to the minor characters, they were varied and colorful as I’ve come to expect from Chautona Havig’s books. I loved Aunt Clara, Savannah’s best friend, Gene, and the appearances by Luke, Aggie, and several of the other characters from the Aggie’s Inheritance Series.

A Few More Thoughts:

This book is a good illustration, as I stated earlier, of a Christian being tested on the strength of their convictions, but also the consequences of sin, and how God can take even sin and make something beautiful out of it. Fiction or not, I find this book encouraging in that last aspect – because I know my LORD does, indeed, work in that way.

Cautions:

The only caution I would give, is if you were going to give this book to a younger reader. I would suggest this book only be given to those sixteen and up, simply because of the topic. It was, however, handled with tact and discretion, which I appreciate.

I would highly recommend this book.

 

To the KING be all the glory!