Fiction Faith & Foodies

Fiction Faith & Foodies: June 2013

Friday, June 28, 2013

Have You Read THE HIDDEN SON by Dianna T. Benson?

The Hidden Son by
Dianna T. Benson
About the book~ The Hidden Son (Book 1, Cayman Islands Trilogy)

When U.S. DEA Special Agent Lelisa Desmond refuses to follow an order to bury evidence in a high profile case, her superior inexplicably hires a hit man to kill her deep in the ocean off Grand Cayman Island. Lelisa survives the first attempt on her life, but someone close to her is mistakenly murdered in her place.

With no one to trust, Lelisa enlists Inspector Alec Dyer for help but learns she's his number one suspect in the scuba diving homicide. She sets off on a daring mission to bring down the man who ordered her execution. A man in a high position, with powerful friends. A man who will stop at nothing to silence her forever in order to hide his son's crimes.

Can she take him down, before he sends someone else to silence her forever?

My summary~
When Special Agent Lelisa Desmond disobeys a direct command, her supervisor orders her to take a vacation to the Caribbean with her partner and long-time friend. During a dive, her scuba buddy turns up dead. Alec Dyer, Inspector for the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, plagued by his daughter's unsolved disappearance almost two years ago and pestered by his ex-wife, isn't sure he believes Lelisa's claims of innocence, especially when crucial evidence she claims to possess disappears.

What I liked...

First off, what an awesome cover, don't you think? It sums up the tone for the story. The author kept me biting my nails with an intense forward motion, a well-developed plot, and towards the end, a totally unexpected twist. Each character was unique, flavorful and realistic. This is one of those books that will stick with me for a long time.

and not so much...

At times, the technical jargon was a bit overwhelming, heavier than I generally prefer to read, but I willingly waded through because I enjoyed everything else about the book. Take my advice and keep going. You'll be glad you did.

I felt the spiritual aspect of The Hidden Son was lacking and somewhat forced, almost like an afterthought. It didn't contain cuss words or bedroom scenes, but if you're a strict CBA reader, you may find this book tends to be a bit on the "fringe." 


A great debut novel by Dianna T. Benson! According to the author's website, she calls herself a "Thriller/ Adventure/ Suspense Author." I believe she delivered on all counts with The Hidden Son, and I look forward to reading the second book in the trilogy, Persephone's Fugitive, due out in July 2014.

Purchase Link

Disclaimer: I purchased my copy of The Hidden Son from an author book signing event. The opinions expressed in this review are my own, and I received no monetary compensation.

Have you read The Hidden Son
Do you agree with my review? What were your thoughts?
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Friday, June 21, 2013

When Distractions Clamor...

Recently, hubby and I purchased a new car. Before that, I drove a Ford Explorer, which I loved, but now that it's mostly me and the dog tooling around, it seemed pointless to drive such a big car. And gas? Sheesh, nothing like watching $70 drain out of a tank, right?

Our new baby ~a Hyundai Santa Fe
So when the Explorer got to be of age, I determined to find a car with better gas mileage, but it had to be sporty and big enough to accommodate Bruiser, our full-figured Golden Retriever.

What do you think? Isn't she adorable?

I could ramble all day about the features. Heated seats, shiftronic capability (the ability to switch between automatic and stick~don't get me going on that!), great gas mileage, and ...

An electronic digital display estimates my average miles per gallon. What?? Do you know that you can boost your gas mileage by taking your foot off the accelerator, just for a minute, or shifting into a higher gear? Well, I am all over that! That's why I got the car, right? 
So, instead of focusing on the road, I honed in on that blue line, getting all giddy as it edged closer to 50 mpg. I mean, really. How cool is that? 

But then a honk would get my attention. Or moseying off the side of the road...

We do that with God sometimes, don't we? Allow distractions to take our gaze off Him? 

Forgot the birthday gift for the party this weekend. Basketball practice tonight, and the kid can't go without new sneakers. (OK, well that's not on my list anymore, but it may be on yours!) If the laundry doesn't get washed soon, you'll be out of ____(you fill in the blank!). If the lawn grows any higher, you'll be killing snakes. A forgotten blog post won't write itself.

Sometimes God gives us a gentle nudge to draw us back to Him. Other times, we may need something a little stronger. But, get our attention, He will. One of my favorite verses is Isaiah 26:3 (NIV):

"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, 
because they trust in you." 

Perfect peace sounds great to me. What about you? But my focus, my mind, needs to be honed on Him, not on the constant clamors for my attention.

So what to do...what to do...when all I can hear is the constant hammering of voices and chores calling my name?

"Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart 
and shattered the rocks before the Lord, 
but the Lord was not in the wind
After the wind there was an earthquake, 
but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 
After the earthquake came a fire, 
but the Lord was not in the fire
And after the fire came 
a gentle whisper."
1 King 19:11b-12 (NIV)

That's where God is. That's where I'll find rest, that perfect the quiet times spent cuddling on His lap, leaning closer to Him, listening for His sweet, gentle whisper.

Oh, Lord, when the world's loud and all I can think about is how much I haven't done, help me keep my focus on You. Help me to always seek You, to meet with You, to be open to Your priorities for my life. Don't allow distractions to take my gaze off of You. 
Bless my words, Oh Lord, both spoken and written. All the glory belongs to You. Amen.

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

20 Ways to Get Your HAPPY back ~ Part 3

Last week we discussed long term solutions to finding your HAPPY. Today we'll be talking about short term ideas.


HAPPY involves a choice, a daily decision, on my part.

Here's a list of short-term temporary activities sure to help. 

Walk around a park or take up gardening. Admire the scenery. God created it for us to enjoy.

Soak in a bubble bath. Make yourself stay there until your body relaxes even if that means adding more hot water. Make sure you have your favorite beverage and a great book handy.

Sit on a bench in front of a lake and watch the ducks frolic.

Swing. When was the last time you pumped a swing high in the air, letting the breeze ruffle across your face? Do you have a porch swing? That works, too.

Visit a friend in the hospital. If you don't know anybody in the hospital, go anyway and sit in the cafeteria. You'll find someone to talk to.

Offer a smile to someone who looks like they need it more than you.

Visit your local humane society. Pet a dog or cuddle with a kitty. Even if you don't bring one of those furry friends home with you, they're sure to spark a smile.

Bake some goodies and then take them to your local fire department.

Take your kids to visit the zoo. If you don't have any children, grab the neighbor kids. Animal antics are sure to produce a smile.

Call a friend you haven't spoken with in ages.

Meet a friend for coffee or lunch. Or just go by yourself and splurge.

Vacuum. Yeah. I know. This one sounds a lot like work, but don't you love the way your house sparkles after you're finished?

Iron. The mindless repetition is therapeutic.

Go horseback riding. Another way to feel the breeze ruffle your cheeks. Warning: this activity is physically strenuous and may cause soreness, but it's so much fun!

Join an exercise class.

Buy a bird feeder and watch who comes to dinner. Listen to their melodies.

Sink into a recliner and listen to worship music.

Offer to babysit for a single mother.

Drive until you don't see any houses. Enjoy the scenery.

Pray. Pray. And pray some more.

Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. John 16:22 (NIV)

What would you add to this list? I'd love to hear your ideas.

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Friday, June 7, 2013

Have you read Dog Tags by Heidi Glick?

About the book~
When disabled ex-Marine Mark Graham reconnects with his best friend’s sister, he finds himself falling in love. But Beth Martindale’s presence is a constant reminder of events he’d rather forget. Mark wants to move forward, but the secrets surrounding her brother’s death as well as his own confinement to a wheelchair threaten to tear them apart. When a psychopath who calls himself The Knight fixates on Beth, Mark is determined to give her the protection he failed to give her brother on the battlefield, yet he discovers that a wheelchair isn’t the only impediment he has to keeping Beth safe. Will terror win or can Mark find the strength of mind and body to rescue Beth and find his own redemption?

Sharing my humble opinion~
Confined to a wheelchair resulting from a stint in the military, Mark Graham now spends his time teaching college students and working in a bait shop he co-owns with two friends. Guilt over his best friend's death plagues him and worsens his traumatic medical "episodes." When Chris's younger sister, Beth Martindale, shows up in town, Mark isn't sure he wants to see her. She reminds him of Chris and the friendship he cherished, but Mark has to watch over her, doesn't he? She's Chris's younger sister, and she's new in town. That's what Chris would want him to do. When a killer targets Beth, Mark determines to recover the strength he lost. 

First off, don't you just love the cover? The design incorporates so many facets of Dog Tags, and one of the reasons I was thrilled to get my hands on this debut novel by Heidi Glick. Beth and Mark are well-constructed characters with a shared history, weaknesses, and goals. I'm a sucker for stories with beloved pets, and Sparky, Mark's dog, played a big part in this book.

If you're looking for a quick book you can read late at night, this isn't the one. Filled with appearances by "The Knight," Glick kept me guessing on the villain's identity until the end of the book. The romance lover in me would have enjoyed this book as much without the suspense, but that's just me. Overall, a winner, and I'll be looking for more from Heidi Glick!

Disclosure: Sending a big thank you to the author for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my fair and unbiased review. The opinions expressed are my own, and I received no compensation for my review.

Heidi Glick has a B.A. in biology, a minor in Bible from Cedarville University, and a passion for writing Christian fiction. She has over seven years of technical editing experience, a certificate in technical writing from Cal State University, Dominguez Hills, and is working towards her Master of English at Utah State University. Additionally, she is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and has written two articles for Intercom. When not working, Heidi spends time with her husband, son, and two dogs, Cocoa and Sparky. She attends Grace Chapel in Mason, Ohio.

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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Have you lost your HAPPY? (part 2)

In last week's post, we discussed how we're not always given a choice regarding divorce, health or even life. But...

Do we have a choice when it comes to being happy?

Let's gauge our happy level. How many of these phrases have you repeated? 

"I'll be happy when I...

Land the right job.
Make more money.
Meet Mr. Right.
Snag that publishing contract.
Finish school.

You get the idea.

Once you achieved those goals, were you happy? Maybe for a time, right? Until another goal or achievement was added to the list.

Happiness isn't found in a place or thing. It's not an event like a wedding or a divorce.

I'm a firm believer that being

HAPPY involves a choice, a daily decision, on my part.

So, how can a person find their HAPPY? 

Dive into the Word. This is the first place I seek refuge, to find a way out of the darkness, to dig myself out of the hole of discouragement.

I lift up my eyes to the hills-where does my help come from? 
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2 (NIV) 

Discover who you were created to be (a child of the King) and what you were created for (worship).

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Psalm 100:1-3 (NIV)

Yeah. I know it's not easy to shout for joy when you're slogging through tough times. But, that's what we were made for and praising God will naturally lift your spirit.

Rest on God's promise to never leave you or give up on you. Deut 31:6 (NIV)

Pray. Ask God to help bring the joy back into your heart.

Focus outward, not inward. Get a job, take up a hobby or volunteer for an organization with a cause that you're passionate about. Spending time with others, whether it's of the people or animal variety, takes your mind away from your problems. Always a good thing, right?

Recognize that time heals. Each day that passes lessens the sting of whatever trial or pain you're suffering. Have you ever gone through a bleak period, and then looked back later to realize you'd grown stronger because of it? Take heart in this. Know that tomorrow, while you might still hurt, God will eventually calm the storm. 

He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. 
They were glad when it grew calm, and He guided them to their desired haven. 
Psalm 107:29-30 NIV

Have you lost your HAPPY?
What are you doing to get it back?
Come back next week and we'll discuss specific short-term ideas
to regain your HAPPY.

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