Looking for unique book ideas for that special reader this Christmas? We’ve got three book reviews from three very different genres to present today! A medical thriller, a devotional cookbook, and a Christian fantasy offer some less-than-mainstream choices for the bookworms on our list. See what others have said and then check them out at your favorite outlet!

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Medical Judgement

by Richard Mabry, M.D.

Abingdon Press

 

Dr. Richard L. Mabry

Dr. Richard L. Mabry

Medical Judgement, a medical suspense novel by Richard Mabry, M.D., kept me in a
state of suspicion to the end. I suspected everyone of harassing Dr. Sarah Gordon, a
woman who had recently lost her husband and young daughter in a car accident. I
even suspected her pastor!

Following the deaths of her family members, Sarah began to experience threats in a
variety of ways. First there were phone calls, then a prowler, and a fire in her garage.
Who was harassing her and why? As she experienced escalating threats a friend
of her late husband’s, Kyle Andrews (I suspected him too), comes to Sarah’s aid as
well as police detective, Bill Larson. The very believable challenges of each of these
characters are relayed, including their struggles with God.

Faith, medicine, love and suspense come together in a surprising manner in this
story. At first, I thought I might not be able to read this story, because I do not like
to be scared. But it is much more suspenseful than scary, and I had to finish it once I
started. Mabry does a great job of drawing you in, keeping you a little nervous – yet
intrigued with the cast of characters in what he calls one of his “medical suspense
novels with heart.”

Reviewer:

Becky Fisher, Adventist University of Health Sciences, The Christian Librarian Review

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The Gift of Bread – Recipes for the Heart and Table

by Karen Whiting

Worthy Publishing

 

Have you ever had a cookbook that restored your soul as it enabled you to provide food for your own body? Over the course of a lifetime, author and baker Karen Whiting has experienced God’s love and presence through times of plenty and times of drought, and she has baked bread all along throughout those times. In The Gift of Bread, she has compiled those experiences and recipes into a 60-chapter cookbook (with over 55 recipes) that is also full of devotional readings, Scriptures, and bountiful lessons from the author’s own life. The Gift of Bread is a hardback book with a book cover that is priced at $15.99.

I have personally baked bread for my family for the past 11 years, and I have seen how fresh bread (with all its nutrients and fiber) has contributed to good health. I’ve also enjoyed making muffins, rolls, and biscotti for fun and for gifts. But as I have progressed through The Gift of Bread, I’ve discovered that I have scarcely scratched the surface of the bread-baking world! Karen Whiting grew up under the tutelage of grandmothers who baked, and she began to learn even as a child the ins and outs of wheat, yeast, oil, salt, and other flavorings, both sweet and savory. As a mother and wife (and even as an empty nester and a widow) she continued to bake bread for her family and community in all occasions. And she noticed bread, grains, and baking being mentioned in the Bible, over and over, in both the Old Testament and the New. God used bread and bread-making to picture everything from hospitality (think of Abraham and Sarah and their heavenly visitors), to courtship (Ruth and Boaz and the gleaning), to provision (Jesus feeding the 5000), to sin (the yeast of the Pharisees), to Jesus’ character (“I am the bread of life”), and so much more. Mrs. Whiting shares about all of these and many other Biblical teachings, in each chapter which contains Bible verses, illustrative stories, recipes, and questions which enable the reader to think about what God might be doing. There is so much spiritual richness in The Gift of Bread to go along with the bounty of bread and recipes!

I mentioned that this book contains over 55 recipes. These range from a few craft ideas (a bread plate or layered muffin gifts in jars) to myriad bread recipes. Are you someone who likes making yeast breads? You’ll find the author’s own wheat bread recipe (Honey-of-an-Egg Whole Wheat Bread), which can be used not only for bread but for cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls, and to create more than just bread for meals or sandwiches. This recipe requires hand- (or machine-) kneading and time (4 hours) but produced gorgeous and delicious bread the first time I made it. There are also recipes for a great-grandmother’s daily bread dough (which can also be used for rolls), Amish white bread, cinnamon raisin bread, and several kinds of sourdough bread (even with a starter recipe!). Each of these requires fresh yeast, a warm kitchen area for the bread to rise, and time; but the results are both delicious and healthy. Bread-makers with little experience or much will be able to follow the recipes and create great bread.

However, there are many other categories of bread that Mrs. Whiting dips into here, and among those are quick bread recipes (which don’t have to be set aside to rise). These are treats that families can enjoy and children can even help to make. The Gift of Bread includes recipes for fruit breads, muffins, matzo (or unleavened) bread, and cornbread. Specialty breads for holidays (Christmas pastry canes, 3 Kings Bread, holiday macadamia nut cranberry bread, toasted angel bread dessert, Trinity rolls and challah), various biscuit recipes, and bread pudding in a mug introduce us to fun additions to family celebrations. There are even recipes which create a meal out of bread by the additions of meats or fish, as in filled sandwich crescents, treasures in a blanket, or Italian bread salad. And everything isn’t completely from scratch! The baker can make fruit turnovers from packaged crescent rolls or sourdough bread from potato flakes. The creativity is just endless, and bakers of every level of experience will find fun and delicious ways to turn grain into meals, desserts, or bread.

In The Gift of Bread, the recipes are clearly written and easy to understand and follow for both the novice and experienced baker. Tutorials are given on ingredients (flour, oil, salt, yeast) and on the various steps of bread-making. Mrs. Whiting also realizes that we live in an era in which not everyone can eat wheat, and she does suggest various flour substitutes to aid those who are avoiding gluten.

Yet The Gift of Bread is not only a cookbook. Over and over, the reader is drawn into stories and accounts of God’s provision via bread or grain in both Scripture and real life. We’re reminded that man does not just live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God; by that living Word that is Jesus. We’re encouraged to use bread to not only care for our own families, but to share God’s love and community with those in need or simply others whom we love. Each chapter is so rich that (even though I wanted to read the book quickly and dive into new bread recipes as quickly as I could), I found myself taking time over each one; mulling over Mrs. Whiting’s words, seeing God and His love and provision in the grains He’s given us to eat, and the spiritual life He invites all of us to embrace.

The Gift of Bread would be a lovely gift for a newlywed or a new believer. It would also be a fantastic cooking/devotional curriculum for homeschoolers, as families could enjoy the chapters during family worship then step into the kitchen to try out the recipes together. I’d personally select this book as a gift for friends and loved ones as well. So much richness for both body and soul is available in The Gift of Bread!

Review by Melanie Reynolds

The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews

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The Genesis Tree

by Heather L.L. FitzGerald

Mountain Brook Ink

The Genesis Tree is the third and final book in the Tethered World Chronicles series. I looked forward to reading this book with great expectation. Once I started, I didn’t want to put it down and stayed up later than I should have to read. There are plot summaries from the first two books given throughout this book, but it would be best to read the

books in order to get the full effect of the stories. Plus, then you get to read two other amazing books. I found myself reading the beginning of the book wondering what was going to draw the Larcen family back down below to the Tethered World. Things topside are spiraling out of control and things looked bleak. The characters grew even more by the end of this book and tremendously since the beginning of book one of the series. I liked how God and our need for Him was woven through the story. The Genesis Tree had me laughing, crying, angry, sad, and confused at times. I was shocked and amazed at things that happened (both positively and negatively – ie the things that happened were sometimes good and sometimes bad, but I didn’t see them coming). Like the second book in the series, this book is written in first person when we are following Sadie and third person when we follow Brady. This book also includes the viewpoint of one of Nekronok’s sons (it never really says which one, although by the end you know who it is). There was one major plot element that made me unhappy, but I did like how it was used and redeemed to show that God’s ways are not always our ways and that He uses them for our ultimate good (even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time). I liked how the story wrapped up the “hanging” story lines from the overall story that covered all three books. I will miss visiting the Tethered World. I totally recommend this book (and the whole series).

Review by Becky Dempsey

Amazon

Heather also has a Christmas giveaway to share! Win a Kindle Fire HD, $25 Amazon gift card, and an autographed copy of her first book, The Tethered World. Click this link to enter!  

 

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Threes, Sixes & Thieves

Julie B Cosgrove

Prism/Pelican Book Group

ISBN-13: 978-1522397540

 

Today, the third book in the Bunco Biddies Mystery Series releases.

When thieves target homes in Sunset Acres, the Bunco Biddies help the police nab the thief!
But in the mayhem, no one knows who the arresting officer was…
or where he is.
A new mystery to solve!

Threes, Sixes & Thieves once again finds Janie Manson, the widow of a renowned police detective who lives in the retirement community of Sunset Acres, rallies her Bunco playing friends to help stop crime.

Sunset Acres is located on the outskirts of Alamoville, a small town which is growing by leaps and bounds as people escape the stress of big city life. Unfortunately crime comes with the urban flight. Janie’s son-in-law is now the Chief Detective of an over-taxed and understaffed police force and she wants him to be able to go on vacation with her daughter and grandkids. Besides, she and her Bunco playing fellow residents know more about their community that the cops do.

The first book, Dumpster Dicing, recently won Best Cozy Mystery 2017 by the Texas Association of Authors.  Baby Bunco followed it, and a fourth book, Until Dice Do Us Part, launches in 2018.

Explaining how the title came about, author Julie B Cosgrove says that in the game of Bunco, whoever roles three sixes ends the game. However, naming a faith-based book The Three Sixes didn’t exactly sit well with her publisher. So they came up with the current title.

All of the book titles have a Bunco dice theme. Afterall, sleuthing can get dicey!

 


Julie Costrove

Julie Cosgrove

Freelance writer, award-winning author and professional speaker Julie B. Cosgrove leads retreats, workshops, and Bible studies. She writes regularly for Light from the Word, Faith-filled Family Magazine, Thoughts About God, Life.com, Good News Daily,  and The Journey and is on staff with Campus Crusades of Canada’s Power to Change digital ministry as editor and writer. Their websites help to lead people to know Christ, one mouse click at a time.

Julie has published three Bible studies, a devotional, two inspirational guides, and has twelve faith-based fiction novels published with four more contracted. All can be previewed on her website.

Awarded one of the 50 Writers You Should Be Reading by the Author’s Show in 2015 and 2016, and Best Religious Fiction 2016, Best Cozy Mystery 2017 by Texas Ass’n of Authors, Julie is a member the American Christian Fiction Writers, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association and the Christian Authors’ Network.

Julie is widowed and lives in Fort Worth, Texas where she is involved in mission funding, women’s ministries, and servant to two house cats. She is mystery aficionado—especially  British ones—and loves word games.                       

Visit her blog: Where Did You Find God Today?  http://wheredidyoufindgodtoday.com

Website:  www.juliebcosgrove.com

Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/juliebcosgrove/

Amazon: Julie B Cosgrove

Twitter @JulieBCosgrove

 

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When I worked as a church secretary, the church sat on the edge of the city, surrounded mostly by ranches. You had to be looking for it to find it.  At the end of my work day, the pastor and I were the only ones on the property when we heard sirens. Then more sirens…then even more sirens. We stood at front portico and watched as cop cruisers zipped by, one after another, toward the highway. Pastor crossed his arms over his chest. “You better take the back road home. Sounds like a huge wreck.”

We prayed for whoever needed the police and I headed out, only to be flagged down a quarter of a mile away by a road block of seven cop cars. Two officers armed with rifles yelled as I lowered my window. “Go back, go back. Dangerous shooter on the loose.”

The man had shot a policeman who stopped him for outstanding warrants and decided to run instead of being arrested by the backup partners. Over 200 officers from the city, county, and surrounding towns descended on the area. We offered the church building as their command center for the manhunt.

Five hours later they caught him cowering behind a barn. Then, I could go home! Boy, were my cats glad to see me. I have the thumb to open their can of food.

So what does a writer do when the adrenaline ebbs? Include it in her WIP – a cozy mystery of course…  All experiences have a positive angle if you look for it.

And the novel releases today. The award-winning Bunco Biddies Mysteries series #3  Threes, Sixes &  Thieves.

 


Julie B Cosgrove is an award-winning, traditionally published author of fifteen books and a digital editor and writer with Cru Canada’s Power to Change internet ministry with a readership of over 6000,000 a month. Check out her books and ministry at www.juliebcosgrove.com

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Kathi Macias
Sarah Sundin

Sarah Sundin

Christmas Greetings from Sarah Sundin in California! Today I have the pleasure of interviewing author Kathi Macias. Kathi’s many fiction and nonfiction books explore weighty topics and have won numerous awards. Even better, Kathi is known for her encouraging and generous spirit.

Kathi, please tell us about your book, To the Moon and Back.

Kathi Macias

Kathi Macias

Alzheimer’s had invaded their home and their lives, though no one seemed ready to admit this diagnosis. Can this fractured family find its way to a place of healing, or will the darkness prevail, destroying them all? Unconditional love is their only hope…but how are they to get there? Read More →

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When I reflect on what Christmas is meant to be, one word rises to the surface of my mind: love.

From decorating the fragrant tree to baking cookies that fill the house with scent of cinnamon and spice, to handing out mugs of hot chocolate—each action is filled with love.

Baking cookies reminds me of happy times spent in the kitchen with my children, all covered in flour, cookie-dough prints on aprons, and delighted grins on youthful faces. These experiences fill me with joy.

Christmas is a time to connect with family, friends, and neighbors. I love to hostess a neighborhood cookie exchange to meet new neighbors and get chummier with others I haven’t spent enough time with.

People experience love giving and receiving in different ways. Gary Chapman discussed in his book, The 5 Love Languages, ways we give and receive love: words of affirmation, receiving gifts, acts of service, physical touch, and quality time.

I puzzled out what I eagerly give and receive as acknowledgements of love. I appreciate words of praise, I like receiving gifts, I enjoy physical touch, and I’m thankful for acts of service.

But to make me glow with love, both giving and receiving, I crave the companionship of those I love and wish to show my love for. I’m a quality-of-time person. I would rather shop with a loved one than for a loved one. I’d prefer to dine with a loved one than receive a gift. Time spent with someone I love is the end-all for me.

But because quality of time spent together is the vitally important way to show and receive love for me does not mean my husband shares this trait. So, in giving love this Christmas season, my goal is discovering which of the five love languages my own loved ones need.

Who needs words of praise? Who needs tokens of love—gifts? Who needs to have hugs and hands held? Who needs me to give them help, acts of service? And who needs to spend quality time with me?

I want to put my love into action in the way that the person on the receiving end gains the most joy.

Anne Greene lives in McKinney, Texas, with her husband, a retired Colonel, Army Special Forces. They have four children and eight grandchildren. Whether writing contemporary or historical, her books celebrate the abundant life Jesus gives. Her novellas include Avoiding the Mistletoe, Keara’s Escape, Daredevils, Spur on the Moment Bride, A Christmas Belle, The Marriage Broker and the Mortician, A Fool for Love, A Groom for Christmas, and A Texas Christmas Mystery. Her Women of Courage series spotlights heroic women of World War II. Her award-winning Scottish historical romances include Masquerade Marriage and Marriage by Arrangement.

 

 

 

 

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