(Review) Secrets Of The Island by Linda Hughes

04_Secrets of the Island_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

02_Secrets of the Island

Publisher and Publication Date: Deeds. May 15, 2018.
Genre: Fiction.
Pages: 268.
Source: I received a complimentary copy, but was not required to leave a positive review. The review copy is paperback and provided from Linda Hughes. This review is apart of the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour.
Rating: Good.

Book Tour Landing Page

About the Author:
03_Linda Hughes

As a native Michigander, award-winning author Linda Hughes has been visiting Mackinac Island since she was a kid. She’s spent countless hours riding a bike around the shoreline, and perusing the library and church records to learn about island history. She’s built many a cairn, witnessed the Northern Lights on several occasions, and eaten more than her fair share of chocolate fudge. She’s a world traveler, having worked in thirteen countries and visited a couple dozen more, but Mackinac Island remains one of her favorite places.
Her writing honors come from the National Writers Association, Writer’s Digest, the American Screenwriters Association, Ippy (Independent Publishers), and Indie Book of the Day.
For more information, please visit Linda Hughes’ website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Summary: Provided.
Do you think you know your heritage? Think again. Dark secrets lurk below the surface of every family tree, as the Sullivan clan discovers in this story about living in the aftermath of generations of deceit.
When Red Cross nurse Harriet escapes the trauma of World War II and sequesters herself in her grandfather’s cottage on Mackinac Island, she has no inkling about her heritage. But as one shocking clue after another surface – disclosing lies, corruption, madness, and murder – she realizes her family isn’t what, or who, it seems. She’s not the first to hold unspeakable secrets in her soul.
Can she conquer her trials and tribulations, like some of them did? Or will she be defeated by life, like others?
Secrets of the Island, the second book in the Secrets trilogy, is a tale of romantic suspense that begs the question: what secrets are buried within your family tree?

My Thoughts:
Overall I liked this story. One problem early in the book did not feel right, it was too put together for the benefit of a storyline. A brother and sister and husband just happen to be placed together during World War II. It’s a dangerous and tragic encounter. But without this storyline another element of the story wouldn’t happen. However, it just didn’t feel real, but pasted. I kept reading past this event and enjoyed reading the rest of the book.
Harriet is a main character. She was a Red Cross nurse during World War II. I like her personality, courage, determination, independence, fearlessness, and strength.
Harriet’s twin is Harry. He is in the army. The two are close.
Bill Beaumont is Harriet’s husband who is also in the army. They are newlyweds.
Back at home in Michigan. Harriet uncovers the real story of her parents and ancestry. I loved reading about her work to reveal the truth of her family. This plot is a favorite of mine in the book.



(Review) Understanding And Loving A Person With Depression: Biblical and Practical Wisdom to Build Empathy, Preserve Boundaries, and Show Compassion by Stephen Arterburn, M.Ed. and Brenda Hunter, Ph.D.



Publisher and Publication Date: David C. Cook. October 1, 2017.
Genre: Christian Nonfiction. Psychology. Depression.
Pages: 176.
Source: Self-purchase.
Rating: Good.

Steve Arterburn on Facebook
New Life Ministeries on Facebook

New Life Foundation website

Further information on the book at David C. Cook publishing.
This book is apart of a series of books in The Arterburn Wellness Series. Other books are Understanding and Loving a Person With Sexual Addiction, Understanding and Loving a Person With Alcohol or Drug Addiction, Understanding and Loving a Person With Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Understanding and Loving a Person With Borderline Personality Disorder, Understanding and Loving a Person With Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Understanding and Loving a Person With Attention Deficit Disorder, and Understanding and Loving a Person With Bipolar.
This link will take you to an Amazon page with the full list of books in this series:
The Arterburn Wellness Series.

Understanding and Loving a Person With Depression has been written with the intention of education and help for those who love a person with depression. It is a book of encouragement. It is considered a guidebook for the people who live with and love a person with depression.

My Thoughts:
Understanding and Loving a Person With Depression is a beginning point in education about depression. I’ve read several books and articles about depression, this is why I consider this particular book to be a starting point.
•Statistics are given about people who have depression in the US.
•The different types of depressions are listed and defined.
•Questions for the caregiver/spouse are encouraged. For example: “become a student of the depressive.” Page 24.
•Individual chapters are given for depression in men, women, and adolescents.
•Early attachments in childhood are taught. I enjoyed this chapter, because it talked about having a close bond with one parent over another. Also, the security of these attachments. And, how the attachments make us feel about ourselves at the core level.
•Another favorite chapter is on forgiveness. Information on forgiveness is quoted from a book by Dr. Fred Luskin. There was a time in my life when I did not fully understand what forgiveness meant. “Forgiveness is for you and not the offender.” “Forgiveness does not mean reconciling with the offender.” Page 115, 116. These are just two of the examples given (and the two I’ve not understood in the past.)

(Review) Finding The Love Of Jesus: from Genesis to Revelation by Elyse Fitzpatrick


35414839Publisher and Publication Date: Bethany House. April 3, 2018.
Genre: Christian nonfiction.
Pages: 160.
Source: Self-purchase.
Rating: Okay.

Elyse Fitzpatrick’s website


I have mixed feelings about this book. There are things I like about it. There are things I dislike about it. In the “My Thoughts” section, I will address these.

From the synopsis on the back cover of the book, Finding The Love Of Jesus has been written to encourage Bible reading: a passionate and positive attitude about Bible reading.
The book has been written to an audience of women. Often in the Introduction, references are made to how much, “Jesus loves women.”
Finding The Love of Jesus is shown though: “the Books of Moses,” “Israel’s Stories,” “His Songs and Sayings,” the “Prophets,” “His Law,” and concludes “in the Gospel.”

My Thoughts:

1. I didn’t know this book was explicitly directed towards an audience of women until I read the dedication page and the intro. However, I’m okay with this. I understand why some women do not feel theology is for them and that it is a masculine field of study. Although, I did not grow up this way. My parents both read the Bible and were active in Bible studies. I remember when my dad brought home a large hardcover edition of Josephus, published by Kregel, 1981 edition. Dad was almost giddy about this book. Dad loved deep study of the Bible. He spent hours during the week studying for the Sunday Bible lesson he delivered to a couples class. He loved rich discussion about the Bible. He was unafraid to tackle hard questions. So this is the atmosphere I grew up in. Later, a wonderful female professor of Old and New Testament studies in college continued to develop my love of Bible reading and study. There are women who have been deeply hurt by men, and this is a reason why they shy away from theology (especially when taught by men.) This is a good reason for Fitzpatrick to write a book with an intended audience of women.
I do feel Bethany House Publishers should have made the intended audience of the book clearer in the back cover synopsis and other publicity platforms about the book.

2. A story in Luke 24 of the two people walking on the road to Emmaus, Fitzpatrick teaches the pair was a married couple. In the Luke account, the name is spelled Cleopas. In John 19:25, the name Clopas is used to refer to, “Mary the wife of Clopas.” Cleopas is the Greek form of the name. Clopas is the Aramaic form of the name. In tradition, it is believed Cleopas was Joseph’s brother (the wife of Mary the mother of Jesus). I’ve read this account plus the notes on this account in the ESV, CSB, and NIV. The NIV Faithlife Study Bible states these were two different men. “Probably a different person from Clopas, mentioned in Jn 19:25.” From page 1709. The CSB Study Bible states Cleopas was, “possibly the husband of one of the female disciples who watched Jesus die on the cross (see Jn. 19:25.) From page 1659. The ESV Crossway Study Bible does not even comment on this idea of who Cleopas really is. The Bible scholars who wrote the explanatory notes for the three Bibles do not know with certainty the person of Cleopas. Now, what threw me for a loop is the conjecture the two people on the road to Emmaus was the married couple, Cleopas and Mary. Fitzpatrick explains in brief on page 16, “Wouldn’t it make sense then to conclude that after the crucifixion, when all their hope was gone, when they were completely dishearted and bewildered, that they would decide to return home together to try and rebuild their lives after Friday’s tragic events? On page 153 in the notes section for this book, Fitzpatrick further tries to clarify her view.
For a new Christian or a Christian who does not know Scripture, it is misleading to throw into a theology book a conjecture. Every human has their own ideas and even struggles in regards to the Bible. What is important to believe for a Christian: God’s Word is Truth.

3. On page 29, “…we need to read the Bible the way it was meant to be read-as one big love story.” I don’t quite know what to do with this comment. It sounds pretty. I do believe God has shown through Scripture His sweeping plan to redeem mankind from Sin. I believe God is love. I believe He is merciful and gracious. It is difficult to read some of the Old Testament stories with a mindset on love. For example: Judges chapter 4, the story of Jael driving a tent peg into Sisera’s temple.

4. At the end of the chapters is a section titled, “Open Heart, Open Hand.” In this location are questions for individual or group study. I’m glad nonfiction Christian books contain this section.

5. Several sections I loved in the book, especially the last chapters on the Gospel. (Included is the Gospel message in the Appendix.)

In this chapter and the next, I’m going to help you see precious truths that will enable you to understand not only what you’re reading but also how you should respond to it. As we have already learned, the Bible isn’t primarily a collection of stories about heroes we should emulate. It’s about the one Hero who draws us to love and worship him. Page 119.

This chapter ties in all the previous chapters, plus gives the two fold purposes. These purposes are “what God expects of us” and “what God has done for us.” Fitzpatrick shows in this chapter what the OT Law said and what the Gospel fulfills. This is numero important: to understand how the NT completes the OT-Christ Jesus and His work on the cross and the resurrection.

I am glad to have read this book even though I gave it an okay rating. It’s good, because it is a challenge to read and review a book I may not agree with. It’s good, because it pushed me to study a bit in order to make this review clear.

(Review) Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance


32075798Publisher and Publication Date: Harper Paperbacks. May 1, 2018.
Genre: Nonfiction. Memoir.
Pages: 288.
Source: Self-purchase.
Rating: Very Good.


J.D. Vance has written a memoir of his life as a 2nd generation removed from eastern Kentucky. He and his parents were born and raised in Ohio. His grandparents moved from Kentucky to Ohio post World War II in hopes of having a better life. The new life was made in the steel town of Middletown, Ohio. They brought with them the same culture and standards of the Appalachian people. It was Vance’s grandparents who raised him, primarily his Mamaw. She was a rough talking woman, strong-willed and determined, but she was the support system for Vance. Vance later joined the Marines. He graduated from Yale Law School. His memoir has been written in hopes of shedding light on the people of Kentucky’s Appalachian region.
The Afterword chapter is a summation of Vance’s final thoughts which include political ideas and hopes.

My Thoughts:
When I read a story about a person who wants to shed light on a particular people group- I keep an open mind. The author is showing what he believes to be true. And, this is the story of the life he has lived.
I’ve lived in Texas all my life. I was born and raised in Houston. I grew up middle class. Dad had a great job at an oil company. We lived in the same house all my growing up years. Mother was a homemaker. We attended the same neighborhood church all my life. I’m the youngest of 5 children. The next sibling in age to me is 10 years older. From the little bit of information I’ve given you, you’ve probably placed me in a particular box with a label. You may or may not be correct. I wanted to state my short bio to prove a point against Vance’s more revealing bio. His life does not represent all people who have the same type of background of people group he came from. And, no person knows what really goes on in a house except the people who live there. People reveal what they want us to know, even those people who are our best buds.

Back to the book review.

What I liked about the book:
1. The introduction is one of the best I’ve read. It is transparent and humble. Vance is straight forward about his family and reason for writing the book.
2. Appalachian stories are a favorite for me. This is a people group who I have a personal interest in. The post Civil War years is when my ancestors left the Appalachian states and moved to Texas. Another reason is I love their independent, prideful nature.
3. I felt a strong investment from the first page in Vance’s life. His early life through to adulthood, I enjoyed reading about the progress of education, life experiences, and career. I enjoyed reading his perspective of family, including the family left behind in Kentucky.
4. He had a special relationship with his grandparents. Despite their rough exterior they loved their grandchildren. This was endearing to me.
5. The author makes valid teaching points. For example: “…social class in America isn’t just about money.” Page 63.
6. Some of the things he was taught, I was taught by my parents too. “I don’t know those people. You never talk about family to some stranger.” Page 41. When I was a child my dad often said, “Annette, don’t be telling people our business.” I wanted to remark, “what people and what business?” I kept my mouth shut out of fear of getting my ears boxed.
7. Vance gave brief explanations of Appalachian terms. For example: a hollow is a valley or basin.
8. In the end chapters, Vance has reached the point in life where he is trying to make peace with life. He does not want to blame anyone. He wants to have sympathy for them and process his past with wisdom.

What I did not like about the book:
1. I found more parallels in his Protestant hillbilly family and my Catholic 2nd generation Eastern European in-law’s. I make this statement, because his upbringing is not just a hillbilly thing. This type of lifestyle is in every social class, religion, and people group. I’ve known people who are educated with high paying careers who live in a violent abusive family or they are the abuser. And addictions like drugs and alcohol plague many families. I do believe education, especially higher education, helps people move beyond poverty and to independence. But education does not eradicate abusive homes and addictions. And further, sometimes people who make 6 figures cannot manage their money. They are still poor.
2. The Marines gave Vance a different perspective. He left that world he was living in and moved to a different atmosphere. He met different people. He had new life experiences. Vance didn’t show this experience in detail as I wanted him to.
3. The book has been earmarked as a political statement. I’ve read reviews on the book, and not all reviewers agree it made the big statement some believe it did. Readers read what they want to, and a big part of reading a book is what we bring to the table, our own life experiences and memories. Books are personal, and Hillbilly Elegy is a personal story. For me, I latched on to the family saga. The good and sad memories of Vance. His grandparents and parents.

I work as a tutor for elementary age children. I help them learn to read. The school is in a low income neighborhood. I have learned so much in working with these kids. The biggest thing I’ve learned is the transparency of the kids. They are brutally honest about their home lives. Most of them live in single parent homes. They live with their mothers. They have grandparents who are active in their lives.
Some examples of stories I hear:
“My mom won’t go to bed and turn off the television so I can sleep.”
“People are coming and going out of my house all day and night.”
“My mom was fighting with her boyfriend. She has a new friend now.”
“I’ve never heard of a library.”
“We left Alabama, because there were people trying to kill my brother.”
“I don’t have any socks.”
“I’m late to school everyday, because my mom oversleeps.”
“I vomited at school yesterday, but my mom wouldn’t come get me.”
“We don’t have a home.”
“My mom said she hates my dad and wishes he were dead.”

What is the answer?
These children are our future.

(Review) True Feelings: God’s Gracious and Glorious Purpose for Our Emotions by Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Whitacre


Publisher and Publication Date: Crossway. October 31, 2017.
Genre: Christian Nonfiction.
Pages: 160.
Source: Self-purchase.
Rating: Okay.


I have read the reviews at Amazon about this book. Words like “relevant,” “practical,” and “read this book in one day,” are given.
Usually if a book is okay, I may or may not finish the book. I bought True Feelings, and felt that the financial investment on my part pushed me to finish it.
It’s not that it is a bad book, it just didn’t come close to an in-depth study that I wanted to read. It skimmed the issue. The book felt more like an essay.
From the back cover, “Emotions can be confusing. One moment we’re happy, content, and hopeful, and the next we’re anxious, hurt, and overwhelmed.”
Reasons why I like this book:
1. A good point is made on page 19: Facebook and social media has given us a “distorted view of life.” We only see the best posted. “Many of us bury our unhappy emotions, keep a tight lid on them, stuff them deep down inside. Others of us explode and vent.” We either stuff or explode.
I wonder why we stuff our feelings? Is it pride that keeps us from revealing our true feelings? Is it the feeling of vulnerability?
2. Several times in the book I’m reminded that feelings are not bad. They serve a good purpose. They must be taken in context with other features like Scripture. Scripture does not address all, “unpleasant emotions,” it does show, “that God has a purpose for our feelings-the good and the bad.” This teaching is expounded on several times in the book just using different wording. For example: “Just as our minds enable us to think and our wills enable us to choose, so our emotions enable us to respond…emotions themselves are not bad.” Pages 32, 36.
3.  Practical help. In chapter five, this is for “resisting emotional temptation.” Chapter six is big help. Two questions to ask ourselves: “Do My Beliefs Line Up with God’s Word?” and “Do My Values Line Up with God’s Word?” Chapter seven talks about making “good habits.”
What I did not like about the book:
1. Chapter seven talks about “venting.” This needs to be clarified. The definition of vent, from the Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, online version. “Vent” means to give emotional expression to. Mahaney and Whitacre use an example of “venting” by people who post online. “Women often vent to online friends and find comfort and solace in each other’s “likes” and reassuring comments. And while it is true that God encourages us to share our burdens, including our emotional burdens, with other Christians, this is not a license to sinfully vent.” Page 104.
On page 103, “Venting is foolish; it dishonors God and often hurts those we love the most.”
What is sinful about “venting?” When the venting is “gossip, slander, or complaining.” Page 104.
Women who don’t have other women to talk to are bankrupt of friends. God is the first source of pouring our hearts out and seeking help. But, people need other people for support, encouragement, and in being lifted up. People should not be prevented and held back in sharing what is on their hearts and minds. Some people release private information on social media. This is not something I think is appropriate. On the other hand, I believe the book should give more clarity. Venting is not sin. Just like emotions is not sin. How we handle the two can become sin.
In a Christian group, when people share prayer requests, is this gossiping? I guess it could be. Gossip means to stir up “sensational facts,” or rumors that may not be true. If I share that my husband is having an affair, this is sensational stuff, but I don’t want to feel I cannot reach out and ask friends to pray for me.
Christians who read this book should not feel they cannot share from their heart with other Christian friends. And this is a real problem: people who do not reach out to other Christians out of fear of rejection and judgment.
2. The book could have been shorter as some of the ideas circulate repeatedly.
True Feelings is an example of some books that just don’t work for me.