Thursday, April 28, 2016
Pocket Prayers for Dads: I gave to my pastor brother-in-law, father of my three nephews.
Pocket Prayers for Mothers: I gave to my sister, mother of my three nephews.
Pocket Prayers for Friends: I gave to a lady I work with who is also a great friend of mine.
Posted by Mark at 4:24 PM
Friday, April 22, 2016
Serena Jones has a passion for recovering lost and stolen art--one that's surpassed only by her zeal to uncover the truth about who murdered her grandfather. She's joined the FBI Art Crime Team with the secret hope that one of her cases will lead to his killer. Now, despite her mother's pleas to do something safer--like get married--Serena's determined to catch thieves and black market traders.
When a local museum discovers an irreplaceable Monet missing, Serena leaps into action--and a whole heap of trouble.
I read and reviewed three previous books by Sandra Orchard in the Port Astor series and really enjoyed the whole series. This book is number one in a new series that is very different from her other series. And in this case, different is good.
As the title with its play on words may suggest, this book has humor. It IS a suspense/mystery novel, but the style is totally different from the other series. It is light-hearted yet suspenseful, and had me laughing out loud at different points in the story.
The story is told in the first person point of view, which is also a switch from the other series and is not a favorite style of mine; but maybe I am getting used to it since it didn't bother me in this story. The story moves along pretty fast and has a lot of action and drama in it, in addition to the humor and romance.
I found myself liking the characters a lot:
Serena: FBI Art Crime member
Tanner: Her handsome co-worker, though 10 years her senior
Nate: Her eligible apartment manager
Aunt Martha: Serena's aunt, senior citizen, and wanna be detective
The book was an awesome - and can a guy say - delightful read. Even the romantic angle pulled me in enough that I went to the author's website and voted for which of the two guys Serena should date/marry.
I highly recommend this book. People who don't normally like suspense and mystery novels may even enjoy this one.
I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
About the author:
Sandra Orchard is the award-winning author of many inspirational romantic suspense and mysteries, including Deadly Devotion, Blind Trust, and Desperate Measures. Her writing has garnered several Canadian Christian Writing Awards, a Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award, a National Readers' Choice Award, a HOLT Medallion Award of Merit, and a Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. In addition to her busy writing schedule, Sandra enjoys speaking at events and teaching writing workshops. She lives in Ontario, Canada. Learn more about Sandra's books and check out the special bonus features, such as deleted scenes and location pics, at http://sandraorchard.com.
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Bestselling author Max Lucado has teamed up with six authors to write the Pocket Prayers series for those in need of peace, renewal, rest, faith, hope, joy, direction, serenity, and courage.
Short, simple prayers are very effective, which is why each book in the series contains forty guided prayers and complementary scriptures for any situation, including for:
-Moms (written with daughter Andrea Lucado)
-Grads (written with daughter Andrea Lucado)
-Dads (written with Mark Mynheir)
-Military Life (written with Mark Mynheir)
-Teachers (written with blogger Jennifer Hale)
-Friends (written with Betsy St. Amant)
Each book is hardcover, measuring 5 1/2" by 5 1/2". Each book has 40 prayers, all geared towards the specific audience named on the front. Each prayer is preceded by a relevant Bible verse and the prayers are split up into around 6 categories such as: prayers for grace and strength, prayers for healing and safety, prayers for fatherhood and joy, etc.
The prayers are well-written, and though short they say a lot. These would make great gifts for all occasions. They are attractively packaged, and have sound and good prayers in to use with devotions or any time.
This book review is unique in that it is for 6 books, but it is also unique in another way: I am supposed to give away all 6 books to individuals of the intended audience of each one, and that is something I will be doing in the next couple of weeks.
About the author:
More than 120 million readers have found inspiration and encouragement in the writings of Max Lucado. He lives with his wife, Denalyn, and their mischievous mutt, Andy, in San Antonio, Texas, where he serves the people of Oak Hills Church.
The Pocket Prayers Series is available from Thomas Nelson Publishing.
Thanks to Litfuse for the review copy.
Enter to win a Pocket Prayers Prize Pack here.
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
The secret's name is Annabel Lee.
She doesn't know why her enigmatic uncle has stowed her deep underground in a military-style bunker. He's left her with a few German words, a barely controlled guard dog, and a single command: "Don't open that door for anybody, you got it? Not even me."
Miles away in Atlanta, private investigator Trudi Coffey is visited by a mysterious older man calling himself Dr. Smith. He's been trailing a man for a decade--a man she met through her ex-partner Samuel Hill--and the trail has led him to her office. The last thing Trudi wants to do is to contact Samuel. But it will take both of them to unravel this mystery--before it's too late.
I think this is the first adult novel for this author from what I can see. He has written several books, but this seems to be his first suspense novel for adults, and it is a great debut novel.
The plot is complicated and very unpredictable, but not complicated in a way that is hard to keep up with or is boring. It is just a very well done plot that keeps the reader guessing and is more intricate than a lot of suspense novels. The story keeps you wondering and guessing til pretty close the end of the book why this young girl is being hidden, and why there are evil men trying to find her. The answer was very unique and surprising.
I liked the main characters a lot:
Annabel, a 12 year old girl locked away and having no idea why or how long
The Mute, an awesome former military guy who is loyal and fearless to a fault
Sam, CIA/investigator, and "the pig", according to his ex-wife Trudi
Trudi, Christian, investigator, and still in love with "the pig", and forced to work with him to unravel this mystery they have been handed.
I didn't really intend to read the book in one evening. It sounded weird and has a creepy cover, but I got into it and didn't want to put it down, so I did read through it in one evening. It was a very entertaining and suspenseful read, and had a great ending.
The book is more violent than most Christian suspense novels.... almost too violent, so it isn't for the faint of heart.
About the author:
Mike Nappa is an entertainment journalist at FamilyFans.com, as well as a bestselling and award-winning author with more than one million books sold worldwide. When he was a kid, the stories of Edgar Allan Poe scared him silly. Today he owns everything Poe ever wrote. A former fiction acquisitions editor, Mike earned his MA in English literature and now writes full time.
Annabel Lee is available from Revell Publishing, part of the Baker Publishing Group.
Thanks to Revell for the review copy.
Monday, April 11, 2016
In every decade we, as Americans, lost something important that we couldn't afford to lose:
In the 1950's, we lost innocence
In the 1960's, we lost respect for authority
In the 1970's, we lost love
In the 1980's, we lost values
In the 1990's, we lost faith
In the 2000's, we lost security
In the 2010's, we lost hope in the future
What can restore what we've lost? Only Jesus. Jesus gave us His name, His friendship, and a commission to accept responsibility for ourselves and for the world. When introduced to His words and ways we'll rediscover the Jesus who:
Wants His enemies won over, not wiped out
Wants you to stop playing it safe
Believed great things were possible no matter what things are like right now
Was full of grace and truth
Believed no one was too far from God to return to Him
Came to seek and to save that which was lost
Loves the church
Pastor Ray Johnston shares the Jesus of the Bible and how we can be Christians without being jerks. He reveals how the radical message of the gospel calls us to love and serve not only our neighbors but our enemies as well. That’s the Jesus the American Church has missed and needs to meet.
Jesus' mission is clear—risk everything in order to take care of people, starting in our home, neighborhoods, cities, and those in need around the world. That's the Jesus the American Church has missed and needs to meet.
The title of this book really intrigued me, and is the main reason I decided to review it. It sounded worth reading, and like something that would be relative to me.... and I was right on both counts.
This is not a book slamming the church. The author does talk a lot about where our churches are failing, and what we are doing wrong; but it is not done in a malicious or mean way. I found his points very valid, and his solutions and advice very solid and Biblical.
There is a lot packed into this book. There is what I mentioned already, but the author also discusses what can happen and what has happened when church is done right, when Christians actually let God use them.
One of the most valuable chapters in my opinion, was the one titled "Stop thinking you don't matter". It is a great chapter on how God can use any Christian if they are willing and jump in with all they have.
This book is very convicting. I found myself saying "ouch" more than once, and was praying as I read the book that God would help me in this area and that area, and that I wouldn't finish the book and not be changed. It made me want to do more, to be a better Christian, and to be used by God. I highly recommend this book. It is near the top of non-fiction books I have read lately.
About the author:
Ray Johnston has a rich, varied background as a speaker, writer, and founder of Thrive Communications and the Thrive Leadership Conference. Author of the bestselling book The Hope Quotient, he is the founding pastor of Bayside Church, one of the largest churches in the United States, with more than twelve thousand people. Ray has spoken to more than four million people over the last ten years and served on the board of trustees at Azusa Pacific University, his alma mater. Ray and his wife, Carol, have four adult children.
Jesus Called....... is available from Thomas Nelson Publishing.
Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for the review copy.
Friday, April 8, 2016
**I previously reviewed this book in January of 2013. At that time, it was only available in e-book format. The book has just been released in paperback form, so at the request of Adam; I am re-posting the review with a giveaway of the paperback.
Water turns to blood. Flies and gnats attack the innocent. Marc and Gillian Thayer’s vacation resort becomes a grisly murder scene, with a killer using the ten plagues of Egypt as his playbook for revenge.
When their friend turns up dead, Marc and Gillian put their vacation on hold, enlist the help of a retired homicide detective, and take a closer look at the bizarre plagues as they escalate in intensity. Meanwhile, a stranger is after the Thayers’ newly adopted baby. Will they uncover the truth behind the bitter agenda before the tenth plague, the death of the firstborn son?
A few years ago, I was shopping with my best friend around the time of my birthday. We were in a Christian bookstore and he told me to pick out a few books and he'd buy them for my birthday. One of those books was Fatal Illusions by Adam Blumer. It was one of the best suspense novels I had ever read, hands down. I have gotten to know the author fairly well through his blog, facebook, etc, and he had asked me to review his new book, and I was happy to do so.
The Tenth Plague has the same main characters as in Fatal Illusions, which I liked, but it is not necessary to read them in order.
Some authors improve with each book, and that is the case here. Fatal Illusions was a really good read, but this book is even better. You can tell when an author has put a lot of thought and research into a book, and it shows in this book. There is a terrific plot that is complicated, yet not so much as to be over the reader's head. There is an evil man who is unleashing the ten plagues from the Old Testament on a Christian retreat center. I had an idea what the book was about before I started reading it, and wondered how Adam was going to do that. Its one thing to come up with a plot like this, but another to portray it in a reasonable way that though fictional, is also possible. He did a fine job of doing so.
The evening I sat down to the read the book, I fully intended to find a stopping place and go to bed. That didn't happen. I was up til 1 am that night finishing the book. This was a truly remarkable book. I love suspense, and it kept me on the edge of my seat and was a thrilling ride. And that thrilling ride was free from bad language and even graphic violence. Adam proves it is possible to write clean suspense that is just as gripping as the best out there on the market, and keep it Christ centered and bad language free. His blog is titled Meaningful Suspense, and that is a great description of his writing. Its great to come across authors like this who are writing to glorify God. And though this is a suspense novel, there is a strong Christian message in the book.
This is only Adam's second book, but it is one to be proud of. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good suspense novel. It has it all: A great plot, a wonderful cast of characters, and a strong, but not preachy, Christian message.
Adam Blumer is the author of Fatal Illusions and The Tenth Plague. A print journalism major in college, he works as a freelance writer and editor after serving in editorial roles for more than twenty years. He lives in Michigan's Upper Peninsula with his wife, Kim, and his daughters, Laura and Julia.
Check out Adam's blog, Meaningful Suspense.
Thanks to Adam for the review copy of The Tenth Plague.
The Tenth Plague is available from Kirkdale Press.
Courtesy of the author, I have one copy of The Tenth Plague to give away. It is for a paperback copy of the book.
To enter: I am going to give a few ways to enter, and you can do any one of these. Comment and say which one you did:
Follow Adam on Twitter
"Like" Adam on Facebook
Go to his blog, and sign up for emails
Follow him on Goodreads.
Follow him on Amazon.
Comment on this post with something about the book, or go to his blog and read about his other book, Fatal Illusions; and comment that you did.
Using Random.org, I will pick one winner 2 weeks from today, April 22.
Thursday, April 7, 2016
Now he must risk never achieving what he wants most--his father's love.
Billionaire globe-trotter Sean Worthington is stunned when his older brother suddenly abandons the Senate race in New York and walks away without a backward glance. As campaign manager, Sean's left to handle the media feeding frenzy with no answers. Worse, their father--as usual--backs Will, the "perfect" son.
Frustrated by his father's lack of belief in him, Sean determines to finally move on and forge a unique path. But when a powerful secret is revealed, threatening everything Sean has counted on, he must wrestle with shocking truths . . . and combat the power brokers behind the scenes who have the Worthington family in their cross-hairs.
Kevin Leman is an expert on birth order, the idea that where you are in order of birth with your siblings depends on some of the traits you have. He has teamed up with Jeff Nesbit to write a fiction series using the birth order ideas.
The first book centered on the oldest son in the Worthington family, Will. This second book centers on the middle child, Sean. This book picks up close to where the first one left off, and has even more political intrigue than the first book did. I was a bit bothered by Sean's ideas about global warming and all that, and am still not sure if those are the views of the authors or not, but it is something I disagree with a lot.
The book is well written, and it is interesting to see the birth order ideas played out in fiction. I enjoyed both books, and learned a lot about how the birth order works.
About the authors:
Dr. Kevin Leman is an internationally known psychologist, radio and television personality, and speaker who has taught and entertained audiences worldwide with his wit and commonsense psychology. He has made house calls for hundreds of radio and television programs, such as Fox & Friends, The View, Fox's The Morning Show, Today, Dr. Bill Bennett's America in the Morning, 700 Club, CBS's The Early Show, James Robison's Life Today, Janet Parshall, CNN's American Morning, and Focus on the Family, and has served as a contributing family psychologist to Good Morning America.
A bestselling and award-winning author, Dr. Leman has written more than 50 books about marriage and family issues, including The Birth Order Book, Sheet Music, Making Children Mind without Losing Yours, and Have a New Kid by Friday. He is coauthor, with his son Kevin Leman II, of a series of illustrated children's books for each child in the family. He is also featured on 6 video series on marriage, parenting, blended families, and single parenting.
Dr. Leman and his wife, Sande, live in Tucson, Arizona. They have five children and two grandchildren.
A Powerful Secret is available from Revell Publishing, part of the Baker Publishing Group.
Jeanette believes that to identify herself as "gay" does not do justice to what God has been doing in her life. Christians belong to Christ. "I have been born from on high and have a completely new DNA, God's DNA, residing in me and flowing through me," says Jeanette. "I am no longer a sinner but a saint. I am a daughter of the King."
With intelligence, compassion and fellow-feeling Jeanette explains what it means, as a Christian who has wrestled for the whole of her adult life with same--sex attraction, to live honestly and consistently as a Bible--believing Christian.
I have read a lot of books on same-sex attractions/homosexuality over the years, but this is the first one I have read by and from the perspective of a woman. It is different, but it was still a great book to read. The book is very in depth, and covers a lot. It may be the longest book I have read on this issue, and it is obvious that not only has the author drawn on her personal experiences a lot, she has also done a lot of research.
Howard deals a bit with the closing of Exodus International and what we can do post Exodus. She covers what we believe, and how we got to where we are today with the whole gay rights and gay agenda movement.
I found the book encouraging and inspiring. Anyone could get some use out of this book whether you deal with same-sex attractions or not. It is very well written and informative,
About the author:
Jeanette Howard lives on England s southern coast, where she counsels and teaches those seeking to leave homosexuality behind. The beginning of her story can be found in her first book, Out of Egypt.
Dwelling in the Land is available from Monarch Publishing, an imprint of Kregel Publishing.
Monday, April 4, 2016
I ran across the author on yourotherbrothers.com, and when I saw he had a book, decided I needed to read it. Many parts of it were like reading my own story and experiences, though Thomas got his act together at a younger age than I did. The book is brutally honest and gives great insight into the same-sex attraction struggle and the struggle of one who has been bullied and the effects that can have.
The book is very well written, and Thomas shows his struggles from a very young age up to where he is today. I found the book inspiring and encouraging, and is one that anyone can benefit from.
About the author:
Thomas Mark Zuniga usually just goes by Tom. He is a twenty-something tutor, wanderer, and lifelong struggler currently residing in Orange County, California, but probably wandering elsewhere before too long. He blogs regularly about traveling and trials, faith and frivolity, and striving and strength. His writing has been featured on People of the Second Chance and other blogs. He is an avid runner and hopes to complete a marathon someday. He also longs to touch every continent and ride a camel and/or elephant. His favorite color is midnight blue, and his favorite struggle is incompetence. Struggle Central is his first book.
Check out his website at ThomasMarkZuniga.com
Friday, April 1, 2016
“There is proof.” PI Luke Murphy can’t stop thinking about what Abby’s former partner, Asa Foster, mumbled just before he died. When he uncovers a clue to the murder of Abby’s parents and his uncle, he’s reluctant to tell Abby, despite his growing feelings for the beautiful detective.
A decade-old abduction case brings Luke and Abby together, but will his secret tear them apart?
I have really enjoyed Janice Cantore's books. Knowing she is a former police officer lends a more realistic feel to the books she writes, and I find her descriptions of police actions and protocol even more interesting because of her having been a police officer.
Cantore has previously written four suspense novels, and I enjoyed all four of them. This one was no different. Book #2 in the Cold Case Justice Series, it picks up close to where book one ended. In addition to working on other cases, Abby and Luke are still working on the mystery of her parents' and his uncle's deaths.
I found the book a great and suspenseful read with some surprises thrown in here and there. I thought the plot was as good or better than the first book, and it was fast paced enough to keep me turning the pages as fast as I could read. The book had some of the same likable characters as the first book, and also some new and interesting ones, not all likable or good. The book had a great ending, though I was disappointed in one direction of one of the characters, but there is hope that could change in book two. Great book and series that is worth reading.
About the author:
A former Long Beach, California, police officer of twenty-two years, Janice Cantore worked a variety of assignments, including patrol, administration, juvenile investigations, and training. She’s always enjoyed writing and published two short articles on faith at work for Cop and Christ and Today’s Christian Woman before tackling novels. A few years ago, she retired to a house in the mountains of Southern California, where she lives with three Labrador retrievers, Jake, Maggie, and Abbie. Janice writes suspense novels designed to keep readers engrossed and leave them inspired. Accused is the first book in the Pacific Coast Justice series, featuring Carly Edwards. Janice also authored the Brinna’s Heart series, which includes The Kevlar Heart and A Heart of Justice. Visit Janice’s website at www.janicecantore.com and connect with her on Facebook.
Burning Proof is available from Tyndale Publishing.
Thanks to Tyndale for the review copy.
After an accident left him temporarily blind, Drew Carter didn’t just regain his sight. He now sees what others can’t imagine–an entire spiritual realm of mighty beings at war.
Forget the gift, Drew just wants his life back. Part of that involves Sydney Carlyle, a woman he is inexplicably drawn to. When he’s offered the chance to become a CIA agent, it seems the way to redeem his past. The only problem–his visions of the supernatural realm are increasing in frequency.
It’s up to the warrior angel Validus and his hand-picked team of heavenly agents to protect the unbelieving Drew. Validus now knows that the young man is at the epicenter of a global spiritual war, and the angels must use a millennia of battle experience keep Drew alive, for the Fallen want him dead.
Surrounded by spiritual warriors and targeted by demons, Drew’s faced with an impossible decision that will forever alter the destiny of America...and his own soul.
Although this series is classified as juvenile fiction, the plot and writing are such that adults can enjoy it, and this adult sure did. I enjoyed the whole series, and had been eagerly anticipating the third and final book in the series. When it came, I read through it in one sitting; as I could not put it down.
The book had even more action, suspense, and spiritual warfare then the previous books. It, even more than the previous two books, reminded me of Frank Peretti's first two books that had a lot of spiritual warfare in them. It had more twists and turns in it than I expected, and thought one issue was resolved in a good way - that would be a spoiler to say what it was.
This book, and the whole series, had some really great characters and a great message of the Gospel that the author was unafraid to put throughout the series. I really liked the main character, and found his adventures thrilling and interesting. I would highly recommend the whole series, and the books must be read in order to know what is going on,
About the author:
Chuck Black first wrote Kingdom’s Edge to inspire his children to read the Bible with renewed zeal. This captivating expanded parable led him to write the Old Testament allegories, Kingdom’s Dawn, Kingdom’s Hope, Kingdom’s Call, and Kingdom’s Quest. Chuck's currents works include the Knights of Arrethtrae series, Call to Arms, and his series in progress, Wars of the Realm.
Chuck is a former F-16 fighter pilot and currently works as an engineer for a firm designing plastic consumer products and has coinvented eleven patented construction products now being sold internationally. He has a degree in electrical and electronic engineering and served eight years in the United States Air Force. Chuck and his wife have six children and live in North Dakota.
It is Chuck’s desire to serve the Lord through his work and to inspire people of all ages to study the scriptures in order to discover the hope and love of a truly majestic King and His Son.
Light of the Last and the other two books in the series are available from Waterbrook/Multnomah Publishing.
Thanks to Waterbrook/Multnomah for the review copy.
Critical Conversations: A Christian Parents' Guide to Discussing Homosexuality with Teens by Tom Gilson
To start the discussion, Gilson provides a brief history of the issues beginning with the sexual revolution of the 1960s. He explains how and why cultural attitudes have reversed on this subject in such a short time-span, leaving Christians scrambling for answers.
This is perhaps the most complicated and contentious issue Christians face in today's culture. Most churches are poorly equipped to handle it; parents are even less prepared. The good news is that parents need not have pat answers ready before they dive into conversations with their teens and preteens on this difficult topic. Learning together—parents struggling through these issues alongside their kids and leading them to biblical answers— has relational benefits.
Answers are important, though, so manageable, nontechnical answers to common questions surrounding this issue are provided, as well as a guide to further resources.
This book is geared for parents who want to talk to their teenagers about homosexuality, but it would also make a great resource for anyone who wants to better understand the challenges we are facing and how to answer criticisms Christians face for daring to believe homosexuality and gay marriage is wrong.
The book is set up into three sections:
Section one: Essential background. This section covers the rise, acceptance, and takeover by a well planned gay agenda
Section two: Navigating the Rocky relationships. This section deals with how to relate to gay people, and what kids may face in school and college for daring to believe the Bible about homosexuality.
Section three: Practical help in handling the challenges. This section takes up about half of the book and sets up scenarios of questions kids may be asked, and what to say and not to say.
The book is very well done. The author takes a compassionate stance, admitting that many Christians have had the wrong actions and attitudes towards gay people, while still showing how wrong homosexuality is. The book is full of great advice on how to not only help teenagers know how to handle the issue of homosexuality and gay marriage when challenged, but it also helps parents be prepared for what their teens may ask them, and ways to open conversations when their teens may not agree with them on some things.
I highly recommend this to people whose children are in public school especially, but also to all parents or anyone wanting to understand this issue and how to respond to it better.
About the author:
Tom Gilson is the Senior Editor and Ministry Coordinator specializing in Christian apologetics and inspiration for the daily online news and insight website The Stream (stream.org). Previously he had served with the Ratio Christi Campus Apologetics Alliance. He is the monthly Worldview and You columnist at BreakPoint Online, and has written articles for Discipleship Journal, Touchstone Magazine, and Salvo. He blogs at Thinking Christian (thinkingchristian.net). When not studying or writing he enjoys canoeing, sailing, and long walks in the woods. He lives with wife Sara and their two college-aged children in Lebanon, Ohio.
Critical Conversations is available from Kregel Publications.
Thanks to Kregel for the review copy.