First Chapter, First Paragraph & Teaser Tuesday: Coastliners by Joanne Harris

First Chapter, First Paragraph, is a meme hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea.  Anyone can play — just copy the first paragraph of the first chapter (or prologue) and include a picture of the book cover. Leave your link at Bibliophile by the Sea.  Today’s intro and teaser are from a book I picked up at my Credit Union where they have a trolley of second hand books they sell to raise money for a good cause.  Here is the beginning of the prologue:

Islands are different. The smaller the island, the more true this becomes. Look at Britain. Barely conceivable that this narrow stretch of land should sustain so much diversity. Cricket, cream teas, Shakespeare, Sheffield, fish and chips in vinegary newspaper, Soho, two universities, the beachfront at Southend, striped deckchairs in Green Park, Coronation Street, Oxford Street, lazy Sunday afternoons. So many contradictions. All marching together like boozy protesters who have not yet realized their main cause for complaint is each other. Islands are pioneers, splinter groups, malcontents, misfits, natural isolationists. As I said, different.

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, now being hosted by Ambrosia of  The Purple Booker.
Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!  So, from the same book:

But it isn’t in my nature; I’m sullen, my mother used to say, like my father, and words don’t come easily to me. For the first time, I wondered if I hadn’t made a terrible mistake coming home. p. 46

Have you read this book?  Other books by Joanne Harris?  What do you think?  Would you keep reading?  Leave a comment and a link to your First Chapter, First Paragraph and/or Tuesday Teaser!  Thanks for coming by.

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Posted in Adult Book, coming of age, Meme, Teaser | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Simplest Way To Change the World by Dustin Willis and Brandon Clements

Have you ever watched the news and thought, ‘What is the world coming to?’  Do you have a difficult time with some of your neighbours or co-workers?  Do you ever stop to think, What can I do to change things; there’s just too much wrong?  Well pastors Dustin Willis and Brandon Clements have written this book to show the things that disconnect us from each other and the things we can do to help reconnect and change our small corner of the world with Christian love.

This is a book about putting aside the distractions that disconnect us, getting past the idea that our houses are only for our own personal refuge against the world, and beginning to practice the kind of hospitality that God has shown to us throughout the history as laid out in the Bible.  They take the apostle Paul’s greeting to the church at Thessalonica, “We loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” (1 Thess. 2:8 NIV, emphasis added by the authors.)  They give simple basic ideas that can change not only the lives of those around us but our own as well.  Barbecue in the front yard instead of the back and have enough food to feed a large group.  Rather than putting up a hammock in the back yard, put in a patio with a large table to make it people friendly.  Invite people over to watch the game.  Host a pot luck.  Invite a co-worker who’s into sports to meet for a game of ultimate frisbee in the park.  Set aside one night a week to invite a small group to dinner.  Be a good listener.  Share your family; share your lives.

There are 12 chapters in the book and it’s set up so that it can be used as a 6-week, small group study.  The study chapters at the back are easy to follow, well laid out, and full of discussion growth and challenge.  There are many examples throughout the book of how lives were impacted and relationships deepened.  There are also blunders that show us pitfalls to avoid and how God can even use blunders to create a caring atmosphere that draws lonely people into fellowship.  Questions at the end of each chapter challenge you to look at how you might join the mission field of extending God’s hospitality.

This is an amazing concept that may not be new to you and maybe you already practice hospitality in your home.  There will still be ideas in this book to take it further.  At the end, there are resources and notes which can be useful if you wish to expand the vision.  We can only hope and pray that this book will impact all those who read it and, in turn, impact their small corner of the world.  * * * * *

I received a free copy of this book from Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Adult Book, Christian, Opinion, Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris

Robert Harris has written an amazing novelization of the factual events from the 1895 trial of Alfred Dreyfus, accused spy in the French military, to his final vindication in 1906 when the decision of the Rennes verdict of the Supreme Court of Appeal was finally quashed.  It is told from the point of view of Colonel Georges Picquart and begins with his daily reports on the Dreyfus trial to Minister of War, General Auguste Mercier.  Then a major, a few months later, Picquart is promoted and made head of the Statistical Section of the Ministry — the spy catchers/handlers unit.

Harris has total command of all the events and facts and patiently, even painstakingly, takes us through the tiny discoveries Picquart makes along the way which build to prove there is still a spy within the army and that the evidence against Dreyfus was both flimsy and fabricated to varying degrees.  He is able to discover the real spy through an operation he runs himself along with a member of the Sûreté (Detective force), Jean-Alfred Desvernine, and a friend, Germaine Ducasse who rents the listening/watching post across from the German Embassy.  Problem:  1) the real spy is from a family of wealth and influence, 2) the proof of the case against Dreyfus was part of a conspiracy at the highest level, and 3) there is a general feeling throughout France that a loss of confidence in the integrity of the army high command would be disastrous for France.

So Alfred Dreyfus deteriorates in a 6×6 cell on tiny Devil’s Island, deserted except for his dozen guards who are not allowed to speak to him and where he is eventually shackled to his bed at night — as if there was any way of escape.  People at home — his family, lawyers, and certain authors/publishers — are working towards a retrial and eventually, Picquart, effectively banished to the desert of Tunisia, will be brought home to testify and will assist Dreyfus’ friends in any way he can without breaking his sworn confidence to the army.

Not only is this story flawlessly told, but it is beautifully told.  The writing is exquisite and the atmosphere and mood of France and the French envelopes the reader.

The Humiliation of Alfred Dreyfus

I reached the pont de l’Alma and saw the shadowy crowd pouring across the dark waters of the Seine, and that was when I realised what Mercier must have known all along: that the human impulse to watch another’s humiliation will always prove sufficient insulation against even the bitterest cold.

Whether you’ve read about Alfred Dreyfus before or have not even heard about him, to relive the anti-semitism of France at the turn of the century, the lengths the conspiracy went to in order to eliminate Picquart, or the long process it took to finally vindicate an innocent man is a revelation that is shocking yet worth savouring simply for the eloquence of the story teller.  You can read the introduction and another teaser here.  This is the first book I’ve read by Robert Harris but it will not be the last.  * * * * *

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Cozy Read Wednesday: Ask Me Again by Kara Kinsley

Today’s cozy read is by an author with whom I was unfamiliar until I came across this novella.  She has written 20 books, all romances, and there is definitely an emphasis on faith.  The full title is Ask Me Again – An Inspirational Romance – Book 1.  I think I was attracted by the cute cover.  What I didn’t realize was this is not book 1 in a series but book 1 in a trilogy — something I don’t normally read.

Tricia and Devin were childhood friends and have reconnected after a number of years when Tricia’s family had moved to the other side of the county.  Both are taking courses to help them look to a brighter future and both are parenting their mothers who have turned to substance abuse to cope with their lots in life.  Devin has been working as a firefighter and is taking college courses to get into university; he helped Tricia get a job in dispatch with the fire department to enable her to support her dream of becoming a physiotherapist.  For now they’re just really good friends but each is feeling something more that they’re afraid to explore in case they ruin their friendship.

This is a good plot with lots of surprises (most of them not good) and each character is trying to be supportive of the other through the trying times.  Tricia, in particular, is praying but not really certain someone is listening.  I tend to feel a bit cheated when a “book” only take me a couple of hours to read and it turns out you have to read two more of them to get to the outcome.  The three parts of this trilogy (I haven’t seen it referred to as such anywhere else) would probably make a decent paperback novel.  I won’t call it a cliffhanger because the story is too predictable to make me want to get the rest of the story.  I also felt the book could have been edited better.  The characters are cute and the plot decent enough.  If you’re interested, I’d get all three and read them right through.  Disappointing.  * *

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First Chapter, First Paragraph & Teaser Tuesday: An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris

First Chapter, First Paragraph, is a meme hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea.  Anyone can play — just copy the first paragraph of the first chapter (or prologue) and include a picture of the book cover. Leave your link at Bibliophile by the Sea.  Today’s intro and teaser are from a book I’ve started out of turn and may not be able to put down until I’m done.  I was first introduced to the infamous Dreyfus affair by Paulette Mahurin and her wonderful book, To Live Out Loud.  Now, hoping to possibly learn more or at least enjoy an author new to me and a story told from a different perspective, here is the opening from An Officer and a Spy:

‘Major Picquart to see the Minister of War . . .’

The sentry on the rue Saint-Dominique steps out of his box to open the gate and I run through a whirl of snow across the windy courtyard into the warm lobby of the hôtel de Brienne, where a sleek young captain of the Republican Guard rises to salute me. I repeat, with greater urgency: ‘Major Picquart to see the Minister of War . . .!’

We march in step, the captain leading, over the black and white marble of the minister’s official residence, up the curving staircase, past suits of silver armour from the time of Louis the Sun King, past that atrocious piece of Imperial kitsch, David’s Napoleon Crossing the Alps at the Col du Grand-Saint-Bernard, until we reach the first floor, where we halt beside a window overlooking the grounds and the captain goes off to announce my arrival, leaving me alone for a few moments to contemplate something rare and beautiful: a garden made silent by snow in the centre of a city on a winter’s morning. Even the yellow centre of a city on a winter’s morning. Even the yellow electric lights in the War Ministry, shimmering through the gauzy trees, have a quality of magic.

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, now being hosted by Ambrosia of  The Purple Booker.
Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!  So, from the same book:

The day fades in the window. At seven, the bells of Our Lady of Rouen begin to peal — heavy and sonorous, the noise rolls across the river like a barrage, and when it stops, the sudden silence seems to hang in the air like smoke. p.120

Have you read this book?  Other books by Robert Harris?  What do you think?  Would you keep reading?  Leave a comment and a link to your First Chapter, First Paragraph and/or Tuesday Teaser!  Thanks for coming by.

 

Posted in Adult Book, Historical Fiction, Meme, Thriller | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Mystery Monday: Rosemary Cottage by Colleen Coble

Today’s mystery feature is Rosemary Cottage by Colleen Coble.  This is the fourth book I’ve read by Colleen Coble and is possibly the best of those — suspenseful, lots of twists, and insightful into human nature and how we really don’t know those we think we know best — that I’ve read.  The setting is an island off the southeast coast of the US called Hope Island and the main character is a midwife whose brother Ben has disappeared, presumed drowned, possibly disposed of by sharks.  Suspicious of foul play, Amy teams up with Coast Guard officer Curtis Ireland whose sister, Gina, had been run down by a motor boat a few weeks earlier.  Together, they are able to link the two incidents and work to track down the killer.

Complicating matters for Curtis and Amy is the fact that Curtis believes Gina’s daughter, Raine was Ben’s daughter.  He’s worried her wealthy parents will try to take Raine from him if they find out and he thinks Ben is scum for not having married Gina.  His Aunt Edith who has moved in with him and is helping him raise Raine, thinks they should be told and arranges for it to come out.  More and more, Amy and Curtis have to face facts about their siblings that are both shocking and disturbing.  In the midst of the danger, an escalating resentment, and an undeniable attraction, they have to hold on to their faith and try to understand and accept that the ones they thought they knew best might not have been what they seemed at all.

Added to the mix, is an election campaign and a politician Amy’s family has known and supported for years arrives to campaign and offers to help in any way to uncover the truth.  Curtis, too, thinks highly of the man and Gina had worked on his campaign previously.  Shortly after their arrival, though, Curtis discovers his car has been tampered with and he and Amy narrowly escape the explosion that sends bits of it all over the airport tarmac.  And who is the mysterious waitress who showed up out of nowhere and is trying to get close to Curtis and wangle a babysitting job?

Lots of excitement, characters who aren’t what they seem, and clues that aren’t revealed too soon but all pull together in the end.  Without spoiling things, there is some romance, some midwife adventures (daring birthing on board a sinking boat), a local festival, and surfing as well as kite surfing.  Well written and full of suspense, this was an excellent mystery/romance.  * * * *

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If you, too, are a fan of mysteries, I hope you’ll not only enjoy my Monday posts but will contribute by publishing your own Monday Mystery, mentioning my meme, then come to my blog, comment on your mystery (or mine) briefly, and include the link directly to your mystery review.  You can also copy my MMM badge to your post.

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626 dogs rescued from kill shelters

I don’t know Paulette Mahurin personally but I’m beginning to feel like she’s a friend. I love her writing and I love that she rescues dogs from kill shelters with the proceeds from her books. It’s amazing what she’s able to accomplish and I love her for it. Look at these wonderful ‘freedom’ photos of rescued dogs and then find one her books that appeals to you and buy it!  Help the work and enjoy a good book while you’re at it. Enjoy my Sunday Reblog!

The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap

I’m deeply grateful to everyone who has purchased, read, and taken the time to review one of my books. All profits from my books go to help get dogs like Mercedes, Vinnie, Tika, Darla, Amee, Amelia, Sherman, Nelli, Dopey, brothers Flynn & Baxter, Cale, Melvin, Rolly, Agent, Ash, Sky, Harry Potter, Graham, Kiro, Luoigi, Berry, Scarlett, Georgia, Machiavelli, Halle, John Snow, (see photos below) out of kill shelters. So far in 2017 we’ve helped free 626 dogs. In 2016, 250 dogs were freed. In 2015, 148 dogs were freed.

AND please for everyone who’s purchased a book could I humbly ask you to write a review when you’ve completed the read.  Amazon promotes and ranks books according to number of reviews in addition to sales. Every voice helps spread the word and that is an energy that can help a dog.

LINK TO PURCHASE ALL MY BOOKS and to see…

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