Murder? Or Mysterious Natural Death?

Deb’s Dozen: Was it murder? Kirby and Riley Gordan become sleuths to find out.

I have followed Danny and Wanda Pelfrey since they published their debut novel. Seeing their progress as authors has been rewarding. Solid Ground, the first novel in the Adairsville Heritage series, introduces two winsome characters. I certainly hope more books are to come soon as I didn’t want to part with this cast of somewhat quirky people, who unite to solve a mysterious death or was it murder?

Kirby and Riley Gordan, brother and sister respectively, come to Adairsville to settle their uncle’s estate. The situation turns mysterious, and they wonder if perhaps his death didn’t occur naturally. Kirby, an ex-baseball player turned cop, and Riley, his sister bound for law school, soon find themselves enmeshed in attempting to discover the reason for their uncle’s death and if someone committed murder. Along the way, the Pelfreys introduce us to more delightful characters who aid them in their quest.

The Pelfreys perfected their use of dialog through their first series and use it masterfully in Solid Ground. They’ve also learned to write realistic characters you wish were real. I loved Kirby and Riley, except I kept going back to figure out who was the brother and who the sister—their names confused me. But that’s me, forgetful at best. They both enjoy the ability to sleuth and see oddities in normal circumstance. They also show compassion and understanding for people in downtrodden circumstance.

You’ll love curling up with Solid Ground and meeting Kirby and Riley. I bet you don’t figure out the ending before you’re there. I also bet you love Adairsville and the denizens they’ve created who live there. Four stars!

About the Authors

Danny and Wanda live in Adairsville, Georgia, the scene of their two series. They write in various genres, but say they like most creating “mysteries with a message.” They also love spending time with their five grandchildren.

The Pelfreys gave me a copy of Solid Ground, but did not in any way require me to write a review.

Lonely? Solutions to Loneliness Found!

Deb’s Dozen: Loneliness is common to all of us. Jack gives us coping mechanisms.

Jack Eason, in his debut book, The Loneliness Solution: Finding Meaningful Connection in a Disconnected World, wrote about a state of mind common to all of us. But rather than merely talk about the emotion and its toll on our lives, Jack gives us rationale and solutions.

I have felt lonely and out of the loop most of my life. I always preferred to be by myself reading rather than socializing with others. And yet, I am energized when I am with people, and I enjoy the interactions. Shy by nature when growing up, I learned to operate out of my comfort zone by considering other people might feel the same way. I discovered this in college, standing in my normal wallflower position at a dance. Noticing another girl in the same position, I got up the courage to go over to talk with her. By reaching out to her, I both conquered my loneliness and made a new friend.

Jack wrote the book in two sections: “The Problem of Loneliness” and “The Loneliness Solution.” He employed a very logical methodology to look at the situation. I discovered I feel normal feelings—-and being “normal” is reassuring. Jack talks about not fitting in and that we shouldn’t try to. Rather, we should strive for belonging. Finding a place to be or people to be with where we can be ourselves without trying to be someone we’re not. He covers the topics of isolation and breaking its pull along with other coping mechanisms we should employ. Jack gives us techniques to try that are not as challenging as face to face interactions.

Solutions exist in both parts of his book. But Part Two lends itself more as instruction to those who are willing to step out-—to find community and to realize empowerment and completeness exist more when we are with others. Prayer, stewardship, worship—all more powerful in the company of others.

For me, The Loneliness Solution reassured me. I validated my feelings, and I could see the steps I took are good ones. Get the book, read it, and take notes. If you’re not the person in the book, someone close to you is and you’ll be able to help them break the cycle. Five stars!

About the Author

Jack serves as the executive director of Crossover Cups Mission, a ministry that encourages, equips, and enriches the lives of people. They are presently working with Third World countries. He also consults on fundraising with different nonprofit organizations. He is married to Lynette, an award-winning author of some note, they have two children and live in South Carolina.

Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, gave me a copy of The Loneliness Solution: Finding Meaningful Connection in a Disconnected World, but did not require me in any way to write a review.

Kindness and Goodness are Gifts Most Rare

Deb’s Dozen: Nothing replaces kindness as a way to change people’s lives for better.

I believe wonderful novels should be read all year long–even if they’re holiday related. Tom Leihbacher wrote one such novel A Gift Most Rare . Set in the small village of Briarcliff Manor, close to New York, in the early 1970s, his book warms your heart and convinces you of the inherent kindness of people.

The hero, a young sixth grader named Charlie Riverton, typifies a boy his age. But unlike most of his somewhat rowdy peers, Charlie feels compassion by nature and notices those who are alone or set apart. His acts of kindness set the stage for this endearing novel. I especially liked his befriending a lonely widower.

Boys will be boys, and Charlie and his friends fit the saying. They play soccer and ice skate and get into trouble and begin to pay attention to girls (although they’d deny it if asked).

A stranger comes to town, and, of course, Charlie befriends him. He shows up at unusual times and seems to know what is going to happen. Together they set out to craft a special Christmas for the town, lives are changed, and people look at Christmas a bit differently.

Tom writes the character of Charlie so well, you feel he’s your friend, younger brother, or son. If my daughter were younger, he’s the kind of first boyfriend I’d want for her. You feel his emotions, marvel at his kindness, appreciate his joy. You root for him and his plans all the way through the book. Five stars—a delightful read.

About the Author

Tom Leihbacher, to quote his bio, “grew up in Briarcliff Manor and has lived there for most of his life.” After high school, he attended the University of Florida, then returned home, began a career in media ad sales, married, and became a father. His first novel, A Gift Most Rare, won my heart. The summer sequel should come out later this year.

The author gifted me with a copy of his book but did not obligate me to write a review.