Tuesday

Strait of Hormuz - Book Reivew


I received a complimentary digital copy of "Strait of Hormuz" from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.







Strait of Hormuz


Synopsis


Under the guise of investigating money laundering via high-end art purchases in Europe, Royce finds himself in Switzerland with only sketchy information, no backup, and without a single weapon other than his wits.

His appointment with a gallery owner in Geneva is a dead end--the man is on the floor with a bullet through his chest. But it turns out Royce does have backup. The Mossad has sent someone to keep an eye on this undercover op, which is of more than casual interest to the Israelis. And it's someone Royce knows...

An under-the-radar phone call from the U.S. State Department puts Marc Royce once again on assignment—ferreting out rumors of a clandestine operation stretching from Asia to the Mideast. At stake is Iran’s threat to blockade the narrow Strait of Hormuz, cutting off vital shipping routes and escalating global tensions beyond the breaking point.









My Thoughts


Well here is the third book in the Mark Royce Series and I have to ask myself was it the right move to go for a third and the answer is a definite YES.

This one drew me in from the very first page, the start was a delight to read and at no time did I stop to think is this similar to the others because I was so interested in this story for itself.

By this one we feel like we know the character of Marc Royce well enough to really imagine the tone of the words he is saying and we have the ease into it by having one of the main characters from the second book appearing right at the start.  However even if you are reading this book without having read the first two, you will have no difficulty in getting right in there with the characters because of the way it is written.

How do we get from Art dealers to a ship in troubled waters, from Switzerland to Israel? Following the hero we are prepared to go anywhere he leads, as are the people who trust him and whom he trusts.  Davis Bunn has again, as in the first of this series, built up good relationships between the characters and this is one of the reasons this is such a good read.

In this book you will get adventure, excitement, romance, loyalty and a strong sense of faith. 
Well worth waiting for! 


About the Author:  CLICK HERE


About Strait of Hormuz
ISBN (Trade Paperback): 978-0-7642-1138-6
ISBN (Hardback): 978-0-7642-1145-4
ISBN (eBook): 978-1-4412-6279-0
336 pages

November 5, 2013 from Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group










If you have read all three reviews of this series then you will understand when I say that I'm torn between the first and the third to pick as my favourite.


What about you, have you read the first 2?


Which did you prefer?


Are you enticed to go to Amazon now and get no. 3?






Monday

Easy Delicious Ribs


You know how you just accidentally make a meal and it is just delicious so you want to make it a regular one in your household?


Fancy one involving ribs?



Well this is one of those!






A few weeks ago my husband and I had bought some ribs and we didn't want to spend lots of time looking after them, you know marinading them, browning them and coating them because we are just a bit lazy about cooking and would rather spend time on other projects.


So we thought why not bung them in the oven with the vegetables and cook them all together and of course when we weren't trying to have a fantastic meal that is exactly what we got.


Then the other day we thought we would try to replicate the meal and this is what we got







This picture was taken on my ipad just after I lifted it out of the oven, just wish you could smell it!











So with another success I decided to put the recipe into my recipe app and you can see it below








I am glad we are not like this about all aspects of our life because you can not just act haphazardly in things like family relationships and friendships.


Some things need time spent on them and care given to them and then we will see successes there too.



But of course not having to spend too much time on making our meals means 
that we have more time for those other things.

Let me know if you try out this recipe.


Or indeed let me know if you agree with less time on preparation and more time on relationships.






Sunday

Rare Earth - Book Review

Having been a great fan of Davis Bunn for many years (see The Presence) I was thrilled to find this novel of his very cheap on Amazon in the kindle store.

Again it will never be able to sit beside the other Davis Bunn books I collected over the years but I am building up quite a collection now in my kindle.







Synopsis:

Davis Bunn Strikes Gold Once Again!

Marc Royce stares down from the helicopter on the Rift Valley slashing across Africa like a scar. Tribal feuds, drought, and dislocation have left their devastation. And he sees a new wound--a once-dormant volcano oozing molten lava across the dry landscape--and clouds of ash obscure his vision. His undercover assignment is similarly obscured. Supposedly dispatched to audit a relief organization's accounts, Marc finds himself amid the squalor and chaos of Kenyan refugee camps caught in a stranglehold of corruption and ruthlessness.

But his true task relates to the area's reserves of once-obscure metals now indispensible to high-tech industry. The value of this rare earth inflames tensions on the world's stage as well as among warring tribes. When an Israeli medical administrator, Kitra, seeks Marc's help with her humanitarian efforts, they forge an unexpected link between impoverished African villages and another Silicon Valley rising in the Israeli desert. Precious metals and inventive minds promise new opportunities for prosperity, secure futures, and protection of valuable commodities from terrorists. As Marc prepares to report back to Washington, he seizes a chance to restore justice to this troubled land. This time, he may have gone too far.





About the Author:  CLICK HERE






My Thoughts:


Being the second book in a series I am always skeptical that it will be almost a rehash of the first one but in a different setting.  Well this was definitely in a different setting from no.1 but was certainly not a rehash of the same plot.

I had been looking forward to meeting up with some of the other characters from the first book as it seemed to me that we had met characters that Davis Bunn would want to write more about but in this I had been wrong.  I think this led me to be a bit disappointed as I had thoroughly enjoyed certain characters so really did want to see friendships rekindled.  The characters in this story never seemed to become as well known or understood as those of the first in the series and even by the end of the novel I was not thinking how much I would like to see what they would have to contribute to another one.

I think the setting was good and the story was clever and very up-to-date which I presume means it was well researched but I found it harder to actually picture the scenes and to remember where certain people were at different times which had not been a problem in the previous one.

Having lived in various countries and worshipped  with many different nationalities I could understand and appreciate the bond between the Christians in the story and especially see the trust there can be between them.

I am already on to book 3 in the series and looking forward to wherever Marc Royce finds he is needed but hope that it is more of the caliber of the first one with better relationships defined between the main characters.


                                  You can now read my "Strait of Hormuz" Review








Have you read this book?


Would you be inclined to read it after this review?





Thursday

Lion of Babylon - Book Review


Having been a great fan of Davis Bunn for many years (see The Presence) I was thrilled to find this novel of his free on Amazon in the kindle store earlier this year.


Sadly it will never be able to sit beside the other Davis Bunn books I collected over the years but what with the ebook age upon us and the ease of having so many books in one object for travelling and of course the fact that we are running out of bookshelf space and not least of all the fact that I can get a lot of ebooks free; well I am now a kindle fan too.


So back to the purpose of this post, the review of this book.




Synopsis:

Marc Royce works for the State Department on special assignments, most of them rather routine, until two CIA operatives go missing in Iraq--kidnapped by Taliban forces bent on generating chaos in the region. Two others also drop out of sight--a high-placed Iraqi civilian and an American woman providing humanitarian aid. Are the disappearances linked? Rumors circulate in a whirl of misinformation.

Marc must unravel the truth in a covert operation requiring utmost secrecy--from both the Americans and the insurgents. But even more secret than the undercover operation is the underground dialogue taking place between sworn enemies. Will the ultimate Reconciler between ancient enemies, current foes, and fanatical religious factions be heard?


About the Author:  CLICK HERE






This book is set in Iraq around a kidnapping and involves an American agent so as expected it is a fast paced adventure novel but I really loved the way Davis Bunn brought in the quieter segments of the story which are so often badly written and almost overlooked.

It is a good read for someone who wants an action story but you must also be prepared for the fact that this book is about relationships on many levels.  Throughout the story there are various characters introduced who would not work together or be brought together in normal circumstances but here there is an example of how serving and helping others is more important than political and religious viewpoints.

At the end of the book we are left with the anticipation that some of the characters will meet again and there are many of them who we would like to have the opportunity to meet again too. So is this what happens in the next Marc Royce story?   Well if you enjoy this one then you can get no. 2 in the series entitled "RARE EARTH"  which is what I did straight away because I thoroughly enjoyed this first one.


Head on over to AMAZON now because the "LION OF BABYLON" ebook is free during November too.



Also I will be reviewing "RARE EARTH" in this blog in a couple of days time 
so click here for that.



Also I will be reviewing the latest release  "Strait of Hormuz" in this blog in a couple of days time 


Have you read this?


Do you agree or disagree with me?


Why not leave a comment and let me know.







Tuesday

Let me Introduce you to One of My Favourite Authors

Disclaimer:
There is an affiliate link in this blog post.

...... Davis Bunn.


From the day I read his novel "The Presence" I was an avid fan and you can read my review of that book in this earlier blog post.


    The Presence - Book Review 



Now I am excited to be reading his latest novel just released today "The Strait of Hormuz" (the third book in his Mark Royce Series) and I will be reviewing it here on my blog on Tuesday 12th November, so don't forget to drop in then and see how good the book is.





Before that however I will give you a nice run up to it by reviewing the first two books in this series "Lion of Babylon" 






and "Rare Earth" and if you head over to Amazon they are available there at good prices.  







Just click on the pictures of the books or the titles to see more about them.



Davis Bunn and his wife, Isabella Bunn

About Davis Bunn


Davis Bunn is a four-time Christy Award-winning, best-selling author now serving as writer-in-residence at Regent's Park College, Oxford University in the United Kingdom. Defined by readers and reviewers as a "wise teacher," "gentleman adventurer," "consummate writer," and "Renaissance man," his work in business took him to over 40 countries around the world, and his books have sold more than seven million copies in sixteen languages. 




Strait of Hormuz is the series finale of the popular Marc Royce Adventures. Library Journal named Lion of Babylon (Book 1) a “Best Book of 2011.” Rare Earth (Book 2) won the 2013 Christy Award for best suspense novel and was a CBA top 20 best-seller.




Q & A with Davis Bunn

Q: The first two books in the Marc Royce series have been bestsellers and also won praise from the critics. Lion of Babylon won the Library Journal’s Best Book of 2011 award, and Rare Earth won the 2013 Christy Award for Suspense Fiction. What do you see is behind this success?

Davis Bunn: The stories have certainly resonated with readers. I have tried to develop a strong sense of unfolding drama, combined with a unique spiritual theme. This moral structure plays out both in the story and the characters. My aim is to create an inspirational challenge that remains with the reader long after the book has been set down.


Q: This story includes two special components from your early life. Tell us about them.

DB: My mother worked as an antiques dealer. In truth, ‘work’ was not really the correct term, because this was a passion she inherited from her mother. They bonded while my mom was still a child, going to small eastern Carolina towns and hunting around junk stores for the sort of bargains that don’t exist anymore.
Their first love was early Americana, a type of colonial furniture known as Jacobean that predated America’s nationhood. I never really shared this passion, but in two previous books I came to respect and admire those who do.
And so I knew a great delight in re-entering this world in Strait of Hormuz, only this time at the very highest end. Strait takes place in the rarified world of multi-million dollar art, where the richest of collectors vie with museums and galleries for items that are no longer classed as antiques, but rather as treasures
The second special component was the location. I lived in Switzerland for almost five years, and many of the venues were places where I worked, and walked, and came to discover myself as an author.


Q: In what way is the setting important to this book?

DB: The Strait of Hormuz is one of the world’s most critical waterways. Stretching between Iran and the Gulf States, the strait us home to two US fleets. More than a third of all the oil consumed worldwide pass through these waters. But the story actually begins in Switzerland, before traveling to the Sinai and then into the hotly-contested Strait of Hormuz.








Q: What spiritual theme is the focus of this story?

DB: One growing area of the missionary church movement is with displaced persons. More than five million Iranians have been expelled from their homeland, or been forced to flee the current regime. This includes virtually the entire Christian population. The missionary church movement has made enormous strides in bringing peace to these families and introducing Christ into the world of Muslims fleeing a Muslim government.

Q: What drew you to the missionary church movement as a theme? 

DB: I came to faith in a missionary church. I was working as a consultant based in Germany. The year I accepted Christ, the Southern Baptist Mission Board founded a missionary church in Dusseldorf. I attended the church, I grew in the church, I studied under two amazing pastors, and one of them returned to Europe to marry us.
It was also where I learned to write. Two weeks after coming to faith, I felt called to writing. I wrote for nine years and completed seven books before my first was accepted for publication. The church, its members, and the elders all played a critical role in bringing me to where I am now. I am living testimony to the vital role played by the missionary church.


Q: All three of the books in this series have given significant insight into the Muslim world, something critics have picked up on. What experience do you have with this region?

DB: For the four years prior to moving to Germany, I lived and worked in the Middle East. I was the only non-Muslim in the management structure of a family-owned company. They had three major arms: construction equipment, shipping, and pharmaceuticals. I rose to become Marketing Manager of the pharmaceutical division.
One of the requirements of this job was to take instruction in the Koran and Islamic history from an imam who taught at the local university. I think this experience played a major role in my coming to Christ.


UPDATE:

You can now read my "Lion of Babylon" Review

and "Rare Earth" Review

and the latest release  "Strait of Hormuz" Review


Have you read any books by Davis Bunn?


If so please leave a comment to say which ones and what you thought of them.







Disclaimer:
If buying through Amazon via the links in this blog I get a little commission but that does not mean any extra expense to you.

Monday

#Bigblackwedding - Xtra Special Day


Monday 28th October 2013  was the wedding of our son Daniel.






So what is this #Bigblackwedding all about?


Well our surname is Black and our new daughter-in-law Suzie was so looking forward to becoming Mrs Black that she referred to the wedding as the big black wedding and then they decided to hashtag it and all their friends could use this to post pictures of the event on twitter, facebook, instagram and pinterest.





Suzie also got the cake topping specially made and it was simply the words  

Mr & Mrs Black.


It was obvious to us for quite some time that the two of them were really looking forward to getting married and this was also obvious to everyone throughout the church ceremony and the rest of the day as they were so relaxed and happy together.
(It was also very clear to all of us who had to listen to Daniel when he woke up on Monday morning and came dancing and singing into the kitchen)

It was very special for Fred & I to see our son so happy and to be adding a new daughter to our family.

Our other son Jonathan preached the sermon at the wedding (mostly based on Song of Song 8 v 6).

Our daughter Linda read Psalm 121

Our nephew Glen was best man (he and Daniel have been best friends forever - well since Daniel was 7 months old and Glen was born).


Everything else was done by other family & friends with Suzie's brother praying the final prayer of blessing over them, so it was very much a family and friends affair.


Later Linda caught the bouquet but has since returned to South Korea and had to leave it with me so our lounge is well decorated from flowers etc. from the wedding.






Now Mr & Mrs Daniel Black are off on their honeymoon and Mr & Mrs Fred Black are still trying to sort out their house from the whirlwind of recent events but what is a bit of a mess in your home compared to the happiness and joy in your family.


We are very grateful to God who has been at the centre of our marriage for 36 years 
and who we pray will be always at the centre of this new marriage between 
Daniel & Suzie.





Little Joe - Book Review



I was privileged to get an ebook copy of this book from the publishers and read it during the past week.


Little Joe





Synopsis


When Little Joe Stout survives the car accident that took his parents’ lives, he is sent to live with his maternal grandparents in the small town of Round Rock, Tennessee. Orphaned and missing his Texas home, Little Joe is reluctant to adapt. But his grandparents, especially his grandmother, are up to the challenge of raising him despite their own struggles. Soon, childhood friendships are forged in the oddball duo of Sugar and Bobby, and—with the help of a new canine companion—Little Joe begins to see that his new home offers the comfort and love he thought was lost forever.


Set against the drama of World War II and the first sparks of the civil rights movement, Little Joe’s new home is a microcosm of America in the 1940s. A frightening incident with a Chinese motorist traveling on the wrong side of town, the migration of troops across the countryside, and a frank discussion of Jim Crow laws are just a few of the local events mirroring the radio broadcasts that bring the news of the day into his grandmother’s kitchen.


Little Joe begins a four-part series from Michael E. Glasscock III that explores the intricate social cloth of Round Rock, Tennessee.








My Thoughts


Well the first thing I need to say is that to start with I thought this was not really my type of book but wanted to read something a bit different from usual and so I was prepared to read this over a longer period of time than normal and probably read another book at the same time but boy did I get a surprise.

                I was hooked from the first few pages.

This was so well written and descriptive that I was in that farm alongside them, loving the characters and laughing at the events that took place. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone.

The book brought real life to life, not skipping over the sad areas of life and not making everything work out perfectly but showing the true love of family for each other and care and responsibility towards friends and neighbours.

I read it in just 3 days, and would have finished it all in one day except I did have other things that needed my time.

I am already looking forward to the next book in the series and will review that later too.

Go on and try it, its a relaxing and enjoyable read but at the same time will make you think about life today.










Little Joe  by  Michael E. Glasscock  III     http://www.michaeleglasscockiii.com/

Book 1 in the Round Rock Series

Published by Greenleaf Book Group Press    

Released in June 2013








Chicken Crunch - Recipe


I decided I wanted a recipe app on my iPad to keep my recipes in

(not really interested now in looking for more recipes but might be later).


So this week I am trying out a free app called "Recipe Pad" and so far I like the look of it and the ease of putting in the quantities and the step by step instructions.





Below is a picture I edited myself from a screenshot of the result of my first recipe to be added.
That is another thing I am doing this week, learning to edit my own pictures 
for my blog and other things.


I think it is going to be a busy week with those plans and also the fact that our son's wedding is two weeks from today!!!!!





This recipe was given to me by a friend from Northern Ireland in 1993 when we were living in Delaware and she was living in New Jersey. I am not sure therefore whether it is an American or Northern Ireland recipe originally but tend to think it is probably American because of the sour cream.
             
Am I right?


Our family all like this and because it is so easy to make I tend to make it for dinner guests who are coming to our home for the first time and also I often make it for church gatherings etc. as it is reasonably easy to transport.










Of course you may already know and love this but if not why not give it a try and let me know if you enjoy it.







Wednesday

A VERY IMPORTANT POST-IT! - Coffee & Conversation



I have a small post-it sticking to the bottom left hand corner of the second computer screen in my study.


Just as a reminder any time I feel like a snack.







You see little snacks like an aero biscuit, small fudge bar, breakaway etc. are all around 100 calories and if I succumb to one of these then it would take me 2,000 steps to burn it off.


This little Post-it reminds me of how many steps it will take to burn off 100 calories.






Even little tubs of ice-cream and mousses from Weight Watchers are around the same amount of calories so again I would need to walk 2,000 steps to burn those off.


This little Post-it keeps me motivated.


I like to read & at the same time walk around my kitchen which I'm very thankful is long enough to do this and not be going round in circles and getting dizzy 
(which can happen to me easily and then set off my vertigo).  


So one day I thought I should just work out how long it takes to walk 2,000 steps to burn off my 100 calories.

This is what I found

100 steps takes 1 min
so
200 steps would take 2 mins
so
2000 steps would take 2 x 10 = 20 mins


provided I don't get interrupted or get tired of walking or come to the end of a chapter (when I often think I should now go do some housework  -  this doesn't actually make me stop too often) .


So just think  20 mins of walking to get rid of those calories you ate in that little snack.







Of course you could do it in 15 mins if you walk very briskly but I don't want to do that while I'm reading.


I am always hearing/seeing/reading that we should walk 10,000 steps per day just to keep at our present weight.


So for me

That would be 20 x 5 = 100 mins of walking every day


I'm trying to do 12,000 steps a day plus some exercise because I want to continue to gradually lose weight.


So every day I would need to spend 20 x 6 = 120 mins walking


That is 2 whole hours taken up walking every day



This little Post-it keeps me motivated.


The Big Question then is   -   Is it Worth it?


You see I use this time each day to read my bible and other Christian novels and uplifting books.

SO

I say YES!


And a very cheap form of exercise too!

    

Would you say YES?


Maybe you would like to start walking too?  and reading?


Or maybe you have a very important post-it too?






Tuesday

Misery Loves Company - Book Review

I was privileged to get an ebook reader copy of this book from the publishers and read it during the past week.




Synopsis:


        Don’t tell me it’s terrifying. Terrify me.

Filled with grief, Jules Belleno rarely leaves the house since her husband’s death while on duty as a police officer. Other than the reviews Jules writes on her blog, she has little contact with the outside world.

But one day when she ventures out to the local grocery store, Jules bumps into a fellow customer . . . and recognizes him as her favorite author, Patrick Reagan. Jules gushes and thoroughly embarrasses herself before Regan graciously talks with her.

And that’s the last thing she remembers—until she wakes up in a strange room with a splitting headache. She’s been kidnapped. And what she discovers will change everything she believed about her husband’s death . . . her career . . . and her faith. 





While I was reading this book I thought I couldn't relate the title of the book to the story I was reading but as at other times I know that I may have to wait until I finish the book and then I get it!

       And yes I got it!

Not having read anything by this author before, I knew I would not be expecting a certain type of writing style or plot formula and it was nice to just read and enjoy the story as it developed in the way the author had intended it to and not the way I would be expecting.

Some of the characters were a little typical but not one-dimensional and the development of the storyline in the two separate ways within the story worked quite well.

Twice I thought I knew what was going to happen and I was wrong so definitely not a predictable storyline.  I enjoyed the book as a relaxing read but also in parts of it I found I was drawn in to consider how I would react if I had to face some of the issues presented.

Taking into consideration the fact that this was written by a woman and the main character is a woman I needed to decide if this was going to be a book that would only be categorised as a women's book.  It is not action packed but action and suspense are there and the fact that the rest of the main characters are male I have to say that I would not categorize it as such.

Within the storyline the subject of happy endings or real life, possibly unhappy endings came up but I will not give spoil it by telling you what type of ending this resulted in, just read it and see for yourself.






Misery Loves Company  by  Rene Gutteridge  www.renegutteridge.com 

Published by Tyndale  www.tyndale.com 

Released in August 2013