Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A Life Intercepted by Charles Martin

Book description:

Twelve years ago Matthew "the Rocket" Rising had it all. Married to his high school sweetheart and one of the winningest quarterbacks in the history of college football, he was the number one NFL draft pick. But on the night of the draft, he plummeted from the pinnacle of esteem. Falsely accused of a heinous crime with irrefutable evidence, it seemed in an instant all was lost--his reputation, his career, his freedom, and most devastatingly, the love of his life.

Having served his sentence and never played a down of professional football, Matthew leaves prison with one goal--to find his wife, Audrey, whom no one has seen since the trial. He returns to an unwelcoming reception from his Gardi, Georgia, hometown to learn that Audrey has taken shelter from the media with the nuns at a Catholic school. There she has discovered a young man with the talent to achieve the football career Matthew should have had. All he needs is the right coach. Although helping the boy means Matthew violates the conditions of his release and--if discovered--reincarceration for life, he'll take the chance with hope of winning back Audrey's love.

My review:

  This was not a book I was given to review, but was a Christmas gift. Occasionally, if I have the time, I will post a review of a book that impressed me... and this one did.

  I loathe football...maybe more than anyone else on earth...... but I had read a Charles Martin book  a few months ago (Long Way Home), and found it to be incredible, so I had to read more of his books. This was one I put on my Christmas wish list and did get for Christmas.

 I'm not a fan of first person point of view books, and that seems to be all Martin writes....which is one reason I never read anything by him until I reviewed and read the book I mentioned. I still think he'd do better at third person, but this was a phenomenal book. Yes, there were times my eyes glazed over from football play descriptions, but I still go into the book and the characters. It had a great plot, and I bonded with the main character and felt his pain and victories. I cheered at the climatic moment that I thought was coming, but it came in a different way than I expected and carried with it a big surprise I didn't see coming.

 The book has little Christian content... probably because of the publisher, not the author.... but there are Christian themes of hope, forgiveness, love, redemption, and others throughout the book. Though t he book is fictional, the message is not: that God can redeem anyone and any situation and bring good out of it. If you love football, you will likely enjoy this book even more than I did.  I highly recommend.

About the author, from his website in his words: 

I grew up in Jacksonville, Florida on the St. John’s River.  Somewhat of a Huck Finn childhood.  Most afternoons were spent mullet fishing—of which I’ve caught my fair share, canoeing, pegging cars with overripe tangerines—it really got fun when the red tail lights lit and the reverse gears ground metal on metal, or the backyard Superbowl which we replayed most everyday.  Through high school, football was my life.  School was the avenue that allowed me to play.  I walked on at Georgia Tech in 1999 and played one year under Bobby Ross.  “Played” might be a bit too liberal use of the term.  I dressed out for the games and served as a tackling dummy until I got hurt, cracking a vertebrae in my back and they carried me off.  Transferred to Florida State and tried to become a student.  As an escape, I starting racing bicycles up and down the east coast.  Not very good, but it allowed me an outlet.  Eventually landed in the English department after escaping Accounting with a ‘D.’  I was de-lighted.  After graduation, I moved to Atlanta and started waiting tables at Houston’s Restaurant so I could save up money to buy a ring.  Christy and I married in 1993, we drove to Virginia Beach, where she put me through Grad school.  When I wasn’t in class, I worked the morning preload for Ma’ Brown.  (UPS).  Went to work at 2 or 3 am, and clocked out about 9 am.  Didn’t get much sleep for almost 3 years.  In 1997, we got pregnant with Charlie and returned to Jacksonville—so our kids could grow up around our families.  When not a single educational institution in Jacksonville would hire me (including my alma mater, Bolles High School), my brother-in-law had mercy on me and gave me a job selling insurance.  2 years passed and to make a real long story short, a fortune 500 company offered me a VP’s position with a 6-figure salary, 6-figure signing bonus, etc.  I turned them down, resigned from the insurance agency, began pressure washing, building docks, etc., and began trying to sell my novel—what is now The Dead Don’t Dance.  That was 8 years ago.  ‘Where the River Ends” is my 6th novel.

Check out his website:

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Eden, The Animals' Parable by Keith Korman, with a giveaway

Book description:

Experience the Gospels in a way you never imagined.

In this beautifully inspired retelling of the Gospels, we see Jesus and his disciples in the Holy Land through the eyes of the animals---especially his intrepid and loyal dog, Eden.

With a wise, old donkey, innocent lambs, and legions of curious field mice---the animals follow their master's journey across Galilee and onto Jerusalem, rapt with awe and wonder and bearing great tidings---even if they don't fully comprehend the divine events they witness.

Simple, clear, and spiritually profound, Eden is an artful retelling that is captivating, moving, and alive with the joy you felt the first time you opened the Bible.

My review:

  I had a little bit of a hard time getting into this book, but once I got past the first chapter it picked up and caught my interest.

 Sometimes I envy people who were not raised in the church, and who get to experience Jesus, the Bible, and everything else to do with God in a way that we never have, or have forgotten. This book gives an idea of what that may be like. Seeing the story of Jesus through the eyes of animals who have no clue what is going on, or why things happen they way they do gives the reader a refreshing look at the events of the Gospels.

 No one knows what and how animals think,  but the author did a great job of portraying how they may think and what might possibly go through the minds of an animal. I liked his writing style, and the way he covered these well known stories from the Bible. This is one of those books that is totally different from others, but is worth reading.

About the author:

Keith Korman is an American literary agent and novelist. Over the years he has represented many nationally known clients through his family's agency, Raines & Raines. The agency is most noted for representing the following books: The Detective, Deliverance, Die Hard, Cruising, My Dog Skip, How to Eat Fried Worms, and Forrest Gump. Korman's novels include Secret Dreams, Banquo's Ghosts (with Rich Lowry), and END TIME (Macmillan, August 2015).

Thanks to Litfuse Publicity for the review copy.

  Return to the story of Jesus and read it from a new perspective in Keith Korman's Eden: The Animals' Parable. In this beautifully inspired retelling of the Gospels, we see Jesus and his disciples in the Holy Land through the eyes of the animals-especially his intrepid and loyal dog, Eden. Simple, clear, and spiritually profound, Eden is for readers of all ages, this artful retelling is captivating, moving, and alive with the joy you felt the first time you opened the Bible.

Settle in for some winter reading and enter to win a copy of Keith's book and a Kindle Fire!

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A copy of Eden
  • A Kindle Fire
Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on January 24. The winner will be announced January 25 on Keith's blog.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Buried Memories by Carol J Post

Book description:

After her broken engagement, Nicki Jackson hoped her move to Cedar Key would give her a fresh start, but instead she quickly learns someone's out to destroy her. Are the attacks tied to her mother's recently reopened murder case or to the nightmares Nicki's beginning to suspect are actually hidden memories? With the threats against her escalating, former soldier Tyler Brant vows to keep Nicki safe. He refuses to lose the woman who's swiftly becoming more than a childhood crush. But when danger circles closer, is Nicki's traumatic past better left forgotten or are her memories the key to something far more sinister?

My review: 

  I rarely read books that are just romance, but back in November I reviewed one that sounded like something I would enjoy, and I did. It was a great read. The author emailed me since then and asked if I'd be interested in reviewing her new suspense novel coming the sky blue?

  Buried Memories is a novel published by Love Inspired Suspense, so yes.... there is romance, but when someone is trying to kill someone else, it makes  the romance more bearable. Just kidding...... kind of. I don't read a lot of books by this company, but I have never been disappointed by any I read, and this is one of the best I have read by Love Inspired.

The characters: Very likable, and though the main character of the book was Nikki, I liked  Tyler even better, her teenage years friend she hadn't seen in years, a man scarred inside and out from his time in the military. I loved the fact that Carol wrote a main character in her book dealing with PTSD, and that she gave readers a glimpse into what it is like dealing with that.

The plot: I would think it would be difficult to come up with an original suspense plot with so many suspense novels on the market, but Carol pulled it off. The setting and plot were great.

The suspense: I knew bad stuff was going to happen, but not what or when, and this was a very suspenseful read. Having the bad guy go after Nikki's friends added even more suspense and drama to an already great story.

  This was a book where the identity of the bad guy totally surprised me. I really did not see that coming. The story flowed in such a way, and was written in such a way that I was as surprised as the fictional characters in the book.

  The Christian element was well done, and many readers will be able to relate to Tyler's doubts about God and feeling like He doesn't answer prayer.

 And the romance... yeah, I enjoyed that part too and was hoping it would go the way I wanted, and was wanting to smack the two main characters at times.

 If you enjoy suspense, this is a must read. It has made me want to read the author's other books, especially the ones set in the same town.

 I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the author:

From medical secretary to court reporter to property manager to owner of a special events decorating company, Carol's resume reads as if she doesn't know what she wants to be when she grows up. But one thing that has remained constant through the years is her love for writing. She currently pens fun and fast-paced inspirational romance and romantic suspense stories. Her books have been nominated for a RITA® award and an RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Book Award.

Carol lives in sunshiny Central Florida with her husband, who is her own real-life hero, and writes her stories under the shade of the huge oaks in her yard. Besides writing, she works alongside her music minister husband singing and playing the piano. She enjoys sailing, hiking, camping—almost anything outdoors. Her two grown daughters and grandkids live too far away for her liking, so she now pours all that nurturing into taking care of a fat and sassy black cat and a highly spoiled dachshund.

Check out her website:

Thanks to the author for the review copy. I hope I did the book justice in my review.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Earth Psalms by Francine Rivers

Book description:

Millions of readers have been transformed and inspired by Francine Rivers' bestselling novels "Redeeming Love" and "A Voice in the Wind." Now, in this weekly devotional, the beloved author invites you to join her in seeking the Creator through the marvelous natural world we live in. Francine shares observations she's gathered over a lifetime of exploring--abroad and in her own backyard--and reflects on how they might apply to your daily life. What do the majestic redwoods, the persistent woodpecker, or a glorious sunrise reveal about our artistic and generous God? How could that change your outlook or the way you handle adversity?Stunning photography, Scripture excerpts, applications, and prayers accompany Francine's reflections, inspiring you to be encouraged. Be challenged. Be comforted. God's power is immense; His attention to detail in precise; His love for you is vast and unfailing. The proof is all around you

My review:

  I have long enjoyed Francine Rivers' fiction novels, and was curious to see what a non-fiction book by her would be like. I was not disappointed.

 This is a devotional type book, though it is not divided up into days. There are 52 chapters, or sections instead.

 Each section has a title and theme, a Bible verse, and then Francine talks about something in nature/creation and how we can see and hear God in it: sunrises, woodpeckers, glaciers, and more. At the end of each chapter, there is a place to reflect, apply, and connect with God - which is a prayer. It then ends with another passage from the Bible.

 The book is full of colorful photos from nature: animals, flowers, trees, and more. And it is also full of inspiration and ways to see God in His creation. I am not sure what I was expecting by the title and description of the book, but Francine went beyond those expectations and came up with a great book that can be used as a devotional, but doesn't have to be. Whether or not it is used for that purpose, it is an inspiring read that brings the beauty of creation and nature together with Scripture and God's presence.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the author:

New York Times best-selling author Francine Rivers began her literary career at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in English and journalism. From 1976 to 1985, she had a successful writing career in the general market, and her books were highly acclaimed by readers and reviewers. Although raised in a religious home, Francine did not truly encounter Christ until later in life, when she was already a wife, a mother of three, and an established romance novelist.

Shortly after becoming a born-again Christian in 1986, Francine wrote Redeeming Love as her statement of faith. First published by Bantam Books and then rereleased by Multnomah Publishers in the mid-1990s, this retelling of the biblical story of Gomer and Hosea, set during the time of the California Gold Rush, is now considered a classic work of Christian fiction. Redeeming Love continues to be one of the CBA's top-selling titles, and it has held a spot on the Christian best-seller list for nearly a decade.

Since Redeeming Love, Francine has published more than 20 novels with Christian themes—all best sellers—and she has continued to win both industry acclaim and reader loyalty around the globe. Her Christian novels have been awarded or nominated for numerous awards, including the RITA Award, the Christy Award, the ECPA Gold Medallion, and the Holt Medallion in Honor of Outstanding Literary Talent. In 1997, after winning her third RITA Award for inspirational fiction, Francine was inducted into the Romance Writers of America's Hall of Fame. In March 2010, Francine officially became a New York Times bestselling author, when Her Mother’s Hope debuted at #12 on the hardcover fiction bestsellers lists. The sequel, Her Daughter’s Dream, debuted at #12 on the same list just six months later, in September, 2010. Francine's novels have been translated into over 20 different languages, and she enjoys best-seller status in many foreign countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, and South Africa.
Francine and her husband, Rick, live in northern California and enjoy time spent with their three grown children and every opportunity to spoil their grandchildren. She uses her writing to draw closer to the Lord, and that through her work she might worship and praise Jesus for all He has done and is doing in her life.

Since Redeeming Love, Francine has published numerous novels with Christian themes – all bestsellers-- and she has continued to win both industry acclaim and reader loyalty around the globe. Her Christian novels have been awarded or nominated for numerous awards including the Rita Award, the Christy Award, the ECPA Gold Medallion, and the Holt Medallion in Honor of Outstanding Literary Talent. In 1997, after winning her third Rita award for Inspirational Fiction, Francine was inducted into the Romance Writers’ of America Hall of Fame. Francine’s novels have been translated into over twenty different languages and she enjoys best-seller status in many foreign countries including Germany, The Netherlands, and South Africa.

Francine and her husband Rick live in Northern California and enjoy the time spent with their three grown children and every opportunity to spoil their four grandchildren. She uses her writing to draw closer to the Lord, and that through her work she might worship and praise Jesus for all He has done and is doing in her life.

Earth Psalms was published by Tyndale Publishing.

Thanks to Tyndale for the review copy.

The Gift of Jesus by Johnny Hunt

Book description: 

The Gift of Jesus is a thoroughly trustworthy and inspiring devotional focused on the amazing gift of Jesus and what that means in our daily lives. It was created and written by General Editor Johnny Hunt, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention along with 51 Southern Baptist pastors and ministry leaders, including Dr. James Merritt, Dr. Ronnie Floyd, Dr. Steve Dighton, Dr. Don Wilton, Dr. Ted Traylor, and Dr. Michael Cloer.

Each daily entry includes Scripture passages, a devotion, and a prayer. Explore such interesting themes as Jesus our Savior; Jesus, our companion for life; abiding in Christ; Jesus, our Rest; the basis of hope; God is with you; and how the Bible changes lives.

This is the seventh book in the My Daily™series of devotionals with more than ­­­­500,000 units sold.

My review:

  I have reviewed a few devotionals recently, and this one is different from those in a couple of ways:

#1 It is not a 365 day devotional, but it almost is. It is set divided up into 52 weeks, Monday through Friday, and one devotional for the week-end;  instead of 2 for the week-end.

#2 There are several contributors to this devotional, most if not all a pastor. Each one does an entire week.

 Each day has the devotional topic, a Bible verse, the devotional, and a short prayer at the end. The overall theme of the devotional is self evident in the title, The Gift of Jesus, and each week's devotions go along with that idea in some way.

 I like the devotional, and read through several of them as I reviewed it. They are not super deep, but I also wouldn't call them shallow. They do their job of making you think, encourage, and help you draw closer to God and His Word as you read them.

 I believe it is a devotional I would buy if I had picked it up while looking for one, instead of requesting it to review as I have. And though it isn't geared specifically towards men, it seems to be more for men than women.... but that is just my opinion.

About the author:

Johnny Hunt is the general editor of The Gift of Jesus, part of the MyDaily® Devotional series that has sold more than 550,000 copies. Hunt is the former president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Pastor Johnny’s educational credits include a BA in religion from Gardner-Webb College. He continued on to Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary where he earned a Master of Divinity in 1981. Southeastern honored Pastor Johnny in 1997 by naming The Chair of Biblical Preaching in his honor in 1997. He has also received several honorary doctorates over the years for his work in ministry. Hunt and his wife, Janet, enjoy their two daughters, Deanna Carswell and Hollie Hixson, and 4 grandchildren.

The Gift of Jesus is available from Thomas Nelson Publishing

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for the review copy.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Death In the Shadows, a Father Gilbert Mystery by Paul McCusker

Book description:

When Father Gilbert traded in his detective's badge for an Anglican priest's collar, he never expected that murder would follow him. Even a church conference in the quant seaside town of Englesea offers no escape.

The vision of a dead woman, water dripping from her body, draws Gilbert into a mystery that seems straightforward, but soon entangles him in a power struggle between corrupt players who want to dominate the illegal sex trade in town. The victims are pawns in a game that extends to London and across international borders.

The dead cry for justice and Father Gilbert fights against forces hiding in the shadows. Can he champion the truth in time to stop more people from dying?

My review:

  Some years back, Focus On the Family released The Father Gilbert Mysteries as par of their radio drama series. I loved the CDs, and was happy to see McCusker come out with some in book form. I read and reviewed the first one, and enjoyed it a lot. This book is the second of the Father Gilbert Mysteries in paperback.

 Death In the Shadows is totally different from the first book. In this one. Father Gilbert is away from his home at a church convention, so it is a totally different setting. The author took a bold step with the plot and subject matter, using the sex trafficking/prostitution trade as the backdrop for the mystery. This made for a sobering, yet entertaining and suspenseful read. And I should add McCusker managed to pull it off without getting graphic or writing anything that could be problematic for the reader.

  A priest helping to solve a murder is a novel idea, especially a priest that is a former police detective, but it makes for some great reading. The seeing dead people is a weird aspect, but it works for the story, and adds an extra creepy and suspenseful aspect to the story.

  I like it when I can figure out who the guilty party is, but I also like it when I can't...... and this book kept me guessing all along. It has a complicated enough plot to not give much away, but not so complicated that the reader gets lost.

 I very much enjoyed reading this book, and had a difficult time putting it down when I needed to. I am hoping there are more to come in this series, and am looking forward to reading more.

 **Note, the books are not the same stories as on the CDs I mentioned, but are totally different stories.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the author:

Paul McCusker is the creative content director for Focus on the Family. He has been a writer of fiction, nonfiction, and drama since 1979. His work includes over forty published novels, full-length plays, dramatic sketch collections, and song lyrics. For the Adventures in Odyssey series alone, he has written over 200 half-hour radio episodes, eighteen novels, and two screenplays for the best-selling animated videos. He has dramatized many classics for Focus on the Family Radio Theatre, including A Christmas Carol and Jan Karon's At Home in Mitford. He also wrote and directed the Peabody Award–winning Bonhoeffer: The Cost of Freedom and created the highly acclaimed Father Gilbert Mysteries series. Paul lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with his wife, Elizabeth, and their two children.

Death In the Shadows is available from Lion Publishing, part of Kregel Publishing.

Thanks to Kregel for  the review copy.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Authentic Living by Richard Exley

Book description:

To live an authentic, fulfilled life we need to both understand and practice the core beliefs of the Christian faith. Being intentional about pursuing Christ is often challenging in our confusing, messy world, but like the biblical character Daniel who did not compromise his values, we must take small, deliberate steps to grow in spiritual integrity. The short, inspirational devotions in Authentic Living illustrate how we can be more deliberate in our faith each and every day through small actions like asking forgiveness, offering guidance, praying specifically, and more. With these simple yet profound readings, we can realize a more fulfilling life and faith one thought, one action, one day at a time.

My review:

  Someone has said you can be authentic without being holy, and one can put too much emphasis on the first and not enough on the other...... however, being a person who has had trouble being authentic for most of my life, I like the emphasis on authentic living this devotional has.

 Each day has a short devotional centered around Scripture, a passage of Scripture that was mentioned in the devotional, and a short prayer. These are not long or deep devotions, but they are well done, and make you think. The author sticks with the theme of the book by relating several personal stories and reflections.

 As with any time I review a devotional, I did not read the whole way through it, but started reading on a specific date corresponding to the date I started reading it, and also leaf through and read some random devotions. I like what I read, and feel this is a good devotional to use for a year, and a great addition to anyone's collection of devotional books.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the author:

RICHARD EXLEY is a man with a rich diversity of experiences. He has been a pastor, conference and retreat speaker, as well as a radio broadcaster. In addition he has written more than 30 books including The Rhythm of Life, Man of Valor, When You Lose Someone You Love, and The Alabaster Cross. The Making of a Man was one of five finalists for the Gold Medallion Devotional Book of the Year. The Methodist Episcopal Church USA and the National Clergy Council Board of Scholars awarded him the Doctorate of Divinity honoris causa for his life’s work in ministry and writing.

As a boy, Richard lived part-time with his widowed grandmother. Her home had electricity but she didn’t trust it, so she only used it to power her refrigerator. When darkness fell she lit the kerosene lamps, casting the tiny living room with its braided rag rugs and coal oil stove in its ambient light. During those long winter evenings she spun out the story of her life. It was there Richard learned the art of storytelling, a craft that enables him to touch the heart through both his writing and speaking.
He loves spending time with his wife, Brenda Starr, in their secluded cabin overlooking picturesque Beaver Lake. He enjoys quiet talks with old friends, kerosene lamps, good books, a warm fire when it’s cold, and a good cup of coffee anytime. He’s an avid Denver Broncos fan, an aspiring bass fisherman, and an amateur photographer. And he hopes to become one of your favorite authors.

Authentic Living is available from Worthy Publishing.

Thanks to Worthy for the review copy.