The Inheritance by Michael Phillips

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Being that this is the first book in a series, I believe it is necessary to immerse the reader in the culture and history of the environment surrounding the story. This story moves very, very slowly but I do believe the author’s intent is to make sure that the reader is fully immersed into the culture.

I really like the characters and fully enjoyed the background history even to the point of looking up the Shetland islands and some of their history.

I don’t normally read books in a series that do not stand alone until the series has all of the novels released in full and all in print as I am an impatient reader and don’t like having to wait months for the next book to be released. This is off-putting to me and I loose a lot of the excitement while waiting for the next novel to be published. It also requires review when the next novel is finally published. And I didn’t expect the book to be a cliff handler which I consider it to be since it ends so abruptly and is unresolved.

It was also somewhat predictable as I knew long before the story told you who would be the heir and the direction the story was going. But predictability isn’t always a bad thing.

There are two stories woven into one. The story of a Scottish Laird and his nephew, a Scottish Chief, and a young woman, Loni, whose parents died in an auto wreck when she was young and who was raised by her grandparents in a Quaker community.

The sudden death of the Laird throws the whole small Shetland Island into chaos as a will cannot be found and even though all knew the uncles’ intent was to leave the Lairdship to his nephew, the chief, without a will everything is thrown into probate with the Scottish government. The island people are starting to suffer financially as the probate stretches on and the government finds a lost heir to the uncles’ estate in America.

Loni had left the Quaker community where she had always felt like a black sheep, went to college and ends up working for a fellow college friend who is rising fast up the ranks of the financial world in Washington DC when she is notified that she is heir to a cottage etc. in the Shetland Islands. That is where the two stories become one.

I do have some difficulty believing that even though Loni was raised in the Quaker community that after attending college and working for a large financial firm in Washington DC that she would still be as naive as the author portrays where her boyfriend is concerned and make excuses for his rude behavior towards her. Also she has a “list” for a husband and yet she accepts dating someone who certainly doesn’t fit the list.

All in all though, I did enjoy the story and will read the subsequent books in the series.

Book review by Jonell Loeffler
The book was donated to Solid Rock Christian Fellowship in exchange for an honest review.

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The First Hostage: a J. B. Collins novel by Joel C. Rosenberg

The First Hostage Book Cover

J. B. Collins, a foreign correspondent to the middle-east, is invited by the King of Jordan to cover a secret Arab-Israeli peace summit attended by the President of the United States, the Israeli Prime Minister, President of the Palestinian Authority, the King of Jordan and several other support staff.

As all gather for the highly guarded meeting, ISIS attacks killing hundreds.  J. B. helps save the King of Jordan and his family while the President enters another van and they race out of the Jordanian compound heading for the airport.  As they reach the bombed airport, the realization hits J. B. and the King of Jordan that the President’s van is missing.  It is soon discovered that ISIS has kidnapped the President and their public demands are made though a video that is broadcast to the whole world.

The King and his counsel realize there is a mole and after much deliberation including with the FBI of the US, it is decided that the mole has to be J. B. Collins and he is arrested and thrown in a cell while the clock ticks downward to the deadline for ISIS’ demands or the President of the US will be beheaded on live TV.

It is the intent of ISIS leaders to usher in the global reign of their Islamic messiah.  While the fate of possibly the whole world hangs in the balance, J. B. from his cell is trying to figure out who the mole really is and to clear his name.  The whole world is on high alert.

Some of the atrocities committed by ISIS are revealed to those trying to find and rescue the President of the US:

“…….She picked up the pace, eager to get out of this house of horrors as quickly as possible, but I lagged behind.  I tried not to look at the dangling corpses above us or the bulging eyes and gaping mouths of the heads stacked in the carts.  As I kept my head down and eyes averted, I couldn’t help but notice piles of debris running along each wall.  Curious, I finally stopped and took a more careful look, and then I realized these weren’t heaps of garbage.  These were crosses and icons and Communion cups and Bibles and other holy books.  And then I knew who these people were and why they had died such grisly and horrible deaths.  (page 358)”

Without disclosing any more of the storyline, I highly recommend this book as is an exciting and great page turner!  I give it 5 armchairs!

Book Reviewed by Jonell Loeffler

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Learning to be content through God’s help no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in.

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Room for Hope: A Novel

by Kim Vogel Sawyer (Author)

The book presents a story that requires not only hope and determination, but learning to put one’s full trust in God and to be content in whatever situation that one might find themselves.  It takes place in Kansas in 1936 during the Great Depression.

On the first few pages, one is confronted with a shock to the main character, Neva, discovering that not only has her husband died, but he had taken a second wife in another town and had sired three children with the other woman who also died.  The children were brought to her by the request of her dying husband “to take the children to live with their ‘Aunt Neva.’”  The ‘traveling’ that her husband did to get supplies and sell wares from their Mercantile store was only an excuse to visit his “secret” family.

Neva Shilling has been a faithful wife and mother working in the Mercantile store during all of her husband’s travels as well as taking care of their twin children. She takes on the guilt of her husband Warren’s indiscretions claiming that it was partly her fault because she was unable to provide him with more children and he wanted a big family.  She felt she had failed her husband because of this.

She tries to be protective of her own two children but also to honor the wishes of her deceased husband although she has feelings of anger and distrust towards him raging in her soul.   She doesn’t outright lie to anyone concerning the children, but finds she is doing a disservice to all the children though her lies of omission.

Finally trying to set everything straight with her fellow church members she finds herself being shunned when they discover that the children were sired by her late husband with another woman.  Through all of this turmoil and heartbreak, a friendship which had started as a somewhat devious plan to get her to sell the store, takes a turn for the better and she finds an unlikely ally and a budding romance commencing.

There are many twists in the story involving the children and Deputy Jesse who originally brought the children to her and who takes on the role of Sheriff in her town since their sheriff is retiring.  Even though he doesn’t expose her secrets, he does try to make sure that these poor children are treated correctly.

This was an enjoyable read.  I found it to be a story of acceptance, endurance and hope as well as learning to be content though one’s faith in God when confronted with devastating circumstances.  I give it 4 armchairs.

In exchange for an honest review, the publisher has given Solid Rock Christian Fellowship a free book.

Review at Amazon

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Book Review

War Room

a novelization by Chris Fabry, based on the Motion Picture by Alex Kendrick & Stephen Kendrick
Review by Jonell Loeffler

War Room Book Cover

“If………. My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.”
~2 Chronicles

“…..Raise up more that will call on Your name. Raise up those that love You and seek You and trust You. Raise them up, Lord, raise them up!

Lord, we need a generation of believers who are not ashamed of the gospel. We need an army of believers who hate to be lukewarm and will stand up on Your Word above all else. Raise ‘em up Lord, Raise them up.

I pray for unity among those that love You. I pray You open their eyes so that they can see Your truth. I pray for Your hand of protection and guidance.

Raise up a generation, Lord, that will take light into this world. That will not compromise under pressure, that will not cower when others fall away. Raise them up Lord, that they will proclaim that there is salvation in the name of Jesus Christ. Raise up warriors who will fight on their knees, who will worship you with their whole hearts. Lord, call us to battle, that we may proclaim You King of kings and Lord or lords.

I pray these things with all my heart…..Raise them up, Lord, raise them up.”

~Miss Clara, War Room, (Pages 393-395)

With her marriage coming apart at the seams and the worry that her husband is looking elsewhere real estate agent Elizabeth Jordon lists the home of Miss Clara, a prayer warrior. When first meeting Miss Clara, Elizabeth is taken back by Miss Clara’s brash questioning of her personal life, especially her spiritual life. Miss Clara, who later becomes a good friend and mentors Elizabeth on how to pray, how to wait upon the Lord, how to ask God to change her own heart and how to pray for the acceptance of God’s will in her life, uses a metaphor to point out where Elizabeth’s spiritual life is by serving her “lukewarm” coffee.
Miss Clara meanwhile prays that God will unchain Elizabeth’s heart.

Elizabeth is intrigued with Miss Clara’s “War Room”—her prayer closet and as she finally comes to the conclusion that not only is her marriage worth fighting for, but that she can’t do it without God’s help, she sets up her own prayer closet.

As so often happens when we ask God to help us, we must go through the fire of being refined, so Elizabeth and her husband Tony are put to the test as they deal with their deteriorating marriage and Tony’s unethical behavior. But how God helps them deal with the consequences as they learn to turn everything over to God is the essence of the book.
This book not only teaches total surrender through prayer but gives a blueprint for a life of prayer including setting up a prayer closet or a War Room as Miss Clara calls it. It deals with the battles we face every day with evil forces in this world and our wrestle with God through prayer to beat Satan and His will to be done, not ours.

I realize that the book was written after the movie was produced which I feel gave it a stiffer beginning as at first I felt the book was stiff and contrived but after reading several pages I was pulled into the story and read the rest of the book in one sitting.

No matter where a Christian is in their relationship with God and their prayer life, this book, even though fiction, can offer suggestions for improving it.

I found this book not only a good story, but will add many of the quotes and prayers to my own prayer journal. I give it five armchairs and highly recommend it!! I will also most likely get the accompanying study guides so that I might deepen my own prayer life.
This book is basically for the Christian believer. I do not feel that non-believers would benefit from the story as one has to first have faith in order to accept a life of prayer and total surrender to God.

It is available to read from our Church Library. One can also buy it on Amazon where accompanying study books are also offered, including The Battle Plan for Prayer: From Basic Training to Targeted Strategies by Stephen Kendrick, and War Room Bible Study – Bible Study Book by Stephen Kendrick.

Reading this book would be a great “Fellowship” course using one of the accompanying study guides. There are some questions at the end of the book to get the conversation going.

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The Sea Keepers Daughters by Lisa Wingate


Review by Jonell Loeffler

The Sea Keeper’s Daughters by Lisa Wingate opens with Whitney on the brink of financial ruin. She is fighting a legal battle to open her second restaurant in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and if she can’t financially hold on, her cousin and all her employees will be out of work.

On top of all this stress, she receives a phone call that her estranged step-father fell, went to the hospital for a short stay, was discharged and was now missing. He is firmly planted in the upstairs apartment of the rundown, turn-of-the century hotel that Whitney inherited when her mother passed away.  She struggles with leaving her restaurant and going to the Outer Banks to try to find her step-father but also wonders if she can persuade him to move so she can sell the hotel and solve her financial problems.

Whitney does go to the Outer Banks and while searching through her grandmother’s remaining belongings, discovers a disclosure of unknown family history that becomes an intriguing and mysterious puzzle that shakes her to the very center of her being.

The story intertwines two love stories, one historical and one in the present, as well as giving history of the Outer Banks, the Federal Writers Project of the FDR Administration, the Melungeons and the tale of the lost colony–all in one mysterious puzzle. While Whitney’s resolve and curiosity consumes her, it also grips the reader and keeps them enthralled in the story.

Who are the Melungeons? As I was reading this book, I wondered if the Melungeons were a figment of the author’s imagination and I found myself finally researching online for this group of people. There really were people that lived in the Appalachian Mountains by this name and interestingly, they are still being researched today. (http://whatisamelungeon.webs.com/)

The conflict of the story is whether Whitney will succumb to her severe financial problems or do what she truly feels is the right and just thing to do. The journey she has undertaken will strengthen her faith and help her to transcend her distrust in relationships if she can learn to let go of her beliefs of what her family history is and embrace what she discovers.

This lyrical fiction was a page turner for me and I wanted to read all night once started, but, alas, if I had I would never have been able to go to work the next day so I needed to pry my eyes off the page each night and put the book away until the next evening when the cycle would start all over again. I highly recommend this soul-searching story and give it 5 arm chairs.

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19 Firefighters Memorial

6th-Street-side-of-fence Flags-at-fence-memorial

Yesterday I went to the Memorial Fence at Fire Station #7 in Prescott to read the messages and see the tributes to the 19 firefighters who were killed in the Yarnell Hill Fire on June 30.  It is truly impressive.  So many individuals have left messages for the families and friends of these brave young men.

Today was the main Memorial Service in Prescott Valley.  There were over 4000 firefighters who traveled from around the world to attend this special service to honor those 19 who perished trying to save the homes etc. of the people in Yarnell.

Let us all remember to continue praying for the family and friends of those who died and to also remember that 30 percent of the homes that were destroyed did not have any insurance.   Even though material things can be replaced, this will be a long processes for many ho have lost their home and everything in it.  So also please keep all of these fire victims in your prayers and if you can please help support the community of Yarnell.

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A Prayer for the 19 Lives Lost in Yarnell Hill Fire

Thank you firefighters

Oh God Almighty, you are an awesome God, Holy and all-knowing. Help all of us understand this tragic event. It is hard to fathom the loss of 19 firefighters lives.  They were all so young.  Just starting out in life and starting families.  I know that you bring good out of all that happens, but at this moment while people are grieving, comfort them and help all of us show our love for each other.

My heart cries out to you O God, to be with those who are hurting, bewildered, and shocked. Please heal those who are suffering from this great loss and help them to remember the good of the past and to manage the hurt of the present. Time heals all wounds, but I pray that those who are affected by this tragedy will have an end result that is positive instead of negative. Grant them peace in their lives knowing that their loved ones gave their all to help save others. And I pray that the community will never forget how much these young people gave! What they did! They are all heroes! I pray that these 19 young men will have a special place with you, God, in Heaven.

Please Lord help the community and individuals be aware of the sacrifices of our firefighters, police and servicemen and women. Move us with compassion that we might always thank and support those who risk their lives everyday for us. I pray all of this in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen

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