Monday, February 03, 2014

Poison Town, by Creston Mapes

Below, I'm happy to review Poison Town, by Creston Mapes. I've long been a fan of Creston's, from his very first book. I received a free e-book directly from him, but was put under no pressure to produce a positive review. Go check out the author here:

Jack Crittendon, a Trenton City, Ohio reporter, stumbles upon the biggest story of his career when his mechanic Galen Randall becomes ill in a similar manner as his late wife. Galen believes the local fiberglass plant's spewing of toxic pollution is to blame for both of their maladies. But Demler-Vargus is a huge company with far-reaching tentacles of power. What is the truth, and does Jack stand a chance of getting that truth out?

Meanwhile, Jack struggles both inwardly and outwardly with forgiving Granger Meade, the man who had recently kidnapped his wife Pamela. Though Meade claims to have found God in prison and wants to apologize to Jack and Pam, Jack will have no part of it. Pamela has forgiven and begs Jack to do the same, but apparently to no avail.

As Jack finds out more and more about the Demler-Vargus cover-up, he relies on co-worker and friend Derrick to help him further uncover the story, unwittingly getting them both into great personal peril in the process. What they find is more than they imagined and enough to get them both killed.

Engaging and easy to read, this story delivers on several levels. Solid writing and plot pacing carries it smoothly, along with interesting and varied characters. The idea of poison's effects—from the Demler-Vargus plant, and from the unforgiving heart of Jack—is clever, and fleshed out very clearly. If I had to complain a tiny bit, I'd say maybe Mapes is guilty of overkill on that part. The reader is smart enough to pick up on all of that without it being drilled repeatedly. But point taken.

Two of my favorite characters are Claire, Travis' girlfriend, and Derrick. Both of them help out their friends in time of need regardless of danger to themselves. They don't give up when things seem too difficult, either. Nice friends to have.

I highly recommend all of Mapes' works, especially Poison Town. To me, it's better than the first in the series, Fear Has a Name. Readers who want suspense melded with strong faith elements need look no further.

(I received a free e-book, but no pressure was put on me for a positive review. All words are mine.)

Sunday, February 02, 2014

My One Word 2014

If you've known or followed me for any length of time, you'll know that I'm a big fan of my pastor's creation: My One Word. It has become so popular in the last couple of years, he even co-wrote a book with that name, and you can hear about MOW on K-Love radio.

I won't bore you with a rundown of my words from the last 6 years or so. They can be found in the archives of this blog. But I do want to share my choice for this year. I think this is going to be the most difficult yet, and I've had some doozies.

See, I'm a blunt kind of gal. I have opinions, I like to share them, and I like to be right. I've also been known to like having the last word. I don't sugar coat things. I get to the point. I don't like to play games. I get frustrated, upset, maybe even angry when things don't go the way I planned or when the kids (read "kids and/or husband") don't do what I wanted them to do or act the way I wanted them to act. I like to vent. I don't always have a pleasant tone of voice. Okay, rarely, but it's not on purpose. Anyway, when I first started praying about MOW this year, I didn't receive clear direction. Then one day the word "quiet" popped into my head and I thought, "Surely not, Lord! And if so, it does NOT mean silent!" As I continued to pray, God assured me He didn't want me to always remain silent, never saying what I think. However, what He did impress upon me is related, and requires more thought and work then just being quiet.

Before I reveal the word, here's the verse it comes from: Colossians 4:6 - Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone. (NRSV) My word is SEASONED. It comes from a Greek word that means to season, make savory, full of wisdom and grace and hence pleasant and wholesome. For someone who doesn't always think long enough before she speaks, this seems daunting at best. For as long as I remember, I've had a problem with this. Many times I think to myself after a conversation has passed, or after I have gotten angry with someone, "Why did I say that?" Last year my word was LOVE, and I'd like to think I learned to love God and others a little better. Hopefully, that love can create a better way to say things, a gentler and wiser way to respond when I feel like blowing my lid or letting someone have it. Maybe there will be times when I should just shut it and be quiet, but I think most of the time it's just thinking and choosing to say things in a more positive tone or wording. Words mean things and they are powerful. God spoke them and the universe came into being. Our words are indicative of where our hearts are, and they can either build people up or tear them down. I want to respond, not react. I don't want regrets and fighting and anger. I want all of my conversations to be seasoned with God's love and His word, and wisdom that comes from Him.

Have you picked a word for this year? Share it here: