Monday, December 11, 2017

The Crooked Christmas Tree by Damian Chandler

Book description:

In this real-life Christmas fable, when a Dad decides to let his kids select the family Christmas tree, he gets an unexpected lesson about God's love. 

In this thoroughly contemporary holiday story, a father lets his children choose the family Christmas tree. To his surprise, the kids pick one that is crooked. As he tries one thing after another to make the tree look right, he rediscovers the power of God's love. He begins to understand Christmas in a new way, particularly when his family decorates their tree and crown it with a star, never even noticing the crookedness he spent hours in the garage struggling to hide. The tender and laugh-out-loud narrative of real-life relationships propels the reader through the most un-generic Christmas story. This upbeat and comedic treasure refreshes the Christmas message of love and faith.


My review:

  I am always happy to review a Christmas book, so this one was an easy decision to review. This one is actually a true story, unlike most of  the Christmas books I review. It is also an extremely personal story. Though the book is not long - I read it on my lunch break at work - the author packed a lot into the story.

 The book is the story of the author and his family's trip to buy a live Christmas tree. His kids go for a crooked one against his wishes, and he writes an amusing tale of his reactions to buying and having to display and decorate such a tree.

 He learned some lessons from a crooked Christmas tree, and using Scripture he relates those throughout the book in between discussing his feelings about the tree.

 I enjoyed reading this little book, and the lessons the author learned from God as a result.

About the author:


DAMIAN CHANDLER was born in Toronto Canada and raised on the island of Barbados. His ministry journey started in a small church housed in the basement of his uncle's home. With only nine members, the burden of the ministry fell equally on the shoulders of all, including 16-year-old Damian. That small church created his spiritual hunger and formed the foundation of his call to ministry.

He holds a Masters of Divinity; founded Impact Youth Ministries, an urban youth ministry focused on developing teens with a contagious and fearless faith; and has served churches in Seattle, Huntsville, and now Sacramento, where he is senior pastor of Capitol City SDA Church.

Damian is passionate about ministry but he is even more passionate about family. After years of dedicated pursuit, God gave him the desire of his heart and a partner in life, his wife Tanzy Chandler. They later added to their partnership daughter Zoe and sons Salem and Levi.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Christmas At Grey Sage by Phyllis Clark Nichols

Book description:

Nestled in the snow-covered Sangre de Cristo Mountains near Santa Fe, the Grey Sage Inn looks like the perfect place for weary travelers to escape the craziness of the Christmas season. There's plenty to see in historic Santa Fe during the day, and the inn's owners, Maude and Silas Thornhill, are happy to spend their evenings hosting this year's guests from across the country.

But an unusual snowstorm throws a wrench in the festive mood. The sprawling inn becomes close quarters as stranded
guests discover this Christmas won't be the relaxed vacation they expected. Tension and fear mount as the storm worsens, and Silas, a retired doctor, is called away in the middle of the night to care for a neighbor. The snow and stress unlock tongues---and in the unexpected conversation that follows, secrets and pasts are revealed, and hearts are healed.

In the midst of snowdrifts and fireside conversations of days
gone by, the warmth of Christmas brings a renewed hope as these trapped strangers become friends---proof again that the joy, hope, peace, and love of Christmas can be experienced no matter where you are.

My review:

  This was a new author to me, but I didn't hesitate to request it since I love Christmas stories. I was not disappointed, and it left me wanting to read the author's other Christmas novel.

 There are a lot of main characters in this novel. At the center of  the story is Maude and Silas Thornhill, who are hosting a group of travelers guided by a friend of theirs. Some of the group are very unique, and all are likable.

 I felt this story truly got the real meaning of Christmas across, as sacrifices were made to make Christmas special for those who had planned to spend it elsewhere. There's a romance, painful memories, laughter, and a lot of introspection by the visitors and their hosts.

 The book was a very enjoyable read, and I applaud the author for her afterword where she gave information on what happened to her characters after the story was finished. This is a great Christmas offering that any lover of Christmas stories will enjoy. And it may leave you wishing you could be part of such a Christmas gathering as that.

About the author:


Phyllis Clark Nichols grew up in the deep shade of magnolia trees in Georgia and weaves her Southern culture into character-driven stories that explore profound human questions. She is a classically trained musician and enjoys art, books, nature, cooking, travel, and ordinary people. Aft er retiring as a cable network executive, Phyllis began leading mission teams to orphanages in Guatemala and now serves on three nonprofi t boards, where she works with others who are equally passionate about bringing hope and light to those who need it most. Phyllis and her husband live in the Texas Hill Country.

Learn more at phyllisclarknichols.com.

Thanks to Litfuse Publicity for the review copy.

Learn more about the book here.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Evidence That Demands a Verdict by Josh and Sean McDowell

Book description:

The modern apologetics classic that started it all is now completely revised and updated--because the truth of the Bible doesn't change, but its critics do. With the original Evidence That Demands a Verdict, bestselling author Josh McDowell gave Christian readers the answers they needed to defend their faith against the harshest critics and skeptics. Since that time, Evidence has remained a trusted resource for believers young and old. Bringing historical documentation and the best modern scholarship to bear on the trustworthiness of the Bible and its teachings, this extensive volume has encouraged and strengthened millions. Now, with his son Sean McDowell, Josh McDowell has updated and expanded this classic resource for a new generation. This is a book that invites readers to bring their doubts and doesn't shy away from the tough questions. Features Include: - Thoroughly revised and updated from the previous edition - Now co-authored by Josh McDowell and Sean McDowell - All-new chapters defending against the latest attacks from Christianity's critics - Designed to be a go-to reference for even the toughest questions - Offers thoughtful responses to the Bible's most difficult and extraordinary passages - Expansive defense of Christianity's core truths, including the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

My review:

  I'll say right up front that I didn't read this entire book. It is 7 pages short of being 800 pages, and is  basically a resource book. It is not light reading.

 That is not to say it isn't interesting though. Josh McDowell knows his stuff when it comes to apologetics, and this book is full of some great information on how to answer skeptics. Though I did not read every page, I skimmed what I did not read, and there is a lot of good "stuff" in these pages. With his son's help, McDowell has expanded far beyond his original book by the same title. Is it enough to convince a skeptic? Maybe. That may depend on the skeptic and how sincere they are about learning the truth.

 I called this a resource book, and it makes a great one. It is necessary today to know not just what we believe, but why. The McDowell father and son team give the reader everything, or close to everything, he or she needs to do just that, and be equipped to talk about their faith to skeptics.

About the authors:

Josh McDowell:

As a young man, Josh McDowell considered himself an agnostic. He truly believed that Christianity was worthless. However, when challenged to intellectually examine the claims of Christianity, Josh discovered compelling, overwhelming evidence for the reliability of the Christian faith. After trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, Josh’s life changed dramatically as he experienced the power of God’s love.

After his conversion, his plans for law school turned instead to plans to tell a doubting world about the truth of Jesus Christ. After studying at Kellogg College, Josh completed his college degree at Wheaton College and then attended Talbot Theological Seminary, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Master of Divinity degree.

In 1961, Josh joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ International. Not long after, he started the Josh McDowell Ministry to reach young people worldwide with the truth and love of Jesus.

Well known as an articulate speaker, Josh has addressed more than 10 million young people, giving over 24,000 talks in 118 countries.

As he traveled to other countries, Josh quickly realized that where people were sick, homeless, and hungry, words were not enough. In 1991, Josh founded Operation Carelift to meet the physical and spiritual needs he discovered in orphanages, hospitals, schools, and prisons in the countries of the former Soviet Union. Since that time, Operation Carelift has delivered humanitarian aid (food, clothing, and medical supplies) worth more than $46,000,000. That is the equivalent of 278 forty-ton containers. Nearly one million children have received school supplies, food items, hygiene items, and toys from the volunteers that traveled twice a year to share God’s love with them.

Josh has received two significant honors from the Russian people because of these efforts. He was elected as an honorary fellow of the Medical Society (The Medical Union of Pediatrics) of Russia on January 24, 1995—in recognition of his work among the children of Russia. Also, Josh is the only foreigner to become a member of the prestigious Russian Club of Scientists. Operation Carelift, which has grown into in one of the largest humanitarian aid organizations based in the United States, is now a part of Global Aid Network (GAiN USA).

In the United States, Josh and his team have created many cutting-edge live events to help young people stand strong and firm in their faith in the face of a rapidly-changing culture. These have often developed into full-blown campaigns, such as:

Six Hours with Josh
Why Wait? 
Counter the Culture
Right From Wrong
True Foundations

Since 1960, Josh has written or co-authored 120 books including:

More Than a Carpenter -- 15 million copies in 85 languages.
New Evidence That Demands a Verdict -- named one the twentieth century’s top 40 books and one of the thirteen most influential books of the last 50 years on Christian thought by World Magazine.

In addition to many other awards, Josh has been nominated 36 times for the Gold Medallion Award and has received that award on four occasions.

In spite of all the honors and awards he has received, Josh will tell anyone that his greatest joys and pleasures come from his family. He and his wife Dottie have been married 40 years. They have four children and five grandchildren.


Sean McDowell:


Dr. Sean McDowell is a gifted communicator with a passion for equipping the church, and in particular young people, to make the case for the Christian faith. He connects with audiences in a tangible way through humor and stories while imparting hard evidence and logical support for viewing all areas of life through a Biblical worldview. Sean is an Associate Professor in the Christian Apologetics program at Biola University. And he is the Resident Scholar for Summit California.

Sean still teaches one high school Bible class, which helps give him exceptional insight into the prevailing culture so he can impart his observations poignantly to fellow educators, pastors, and parents alike. In 2008 he received the Educator of the Year award for San Juan Capistrano, California. The Association of Christian Schools International awarded Exemplary Status to his apologetics training. Sean is listed among the top 100 apologists. He graduated summa cum laude from Talbot Theological Seminary with a double Master’s degree in Theology and Philosophy. He earned a Ph.D. in Apologetics and Worldview Studies from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2014.

Traveling throughout the United States and abroad, Sean speaks at camps, churches, schools, universities, and conferences. He has spoken for organizations including Focus on the Family, the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Backyard Skeptics, Cru, Youth Specialties, Hume Lake Christian Camps, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Association of Christian Schools International. Sean has also appeared as a guest on radio shows such as Family Life Today, Point of View, Stand to Reason, Common Sense Atheism, and the Hugh Hewitt Show. Sean has been quoted in many publications, including the New York Times.

Sean is the author, co-author, or editor of over eighteen books including The Fate of the Apostles (Routledge, 2015), A New Kind of Apologist (Harvest House, 2016), The Beauty of Intolerance (Barbour 2016), Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God’s Design for Marriage, with John Stonestreet (Baker, 2014), Is God Just a Human Invention? with Jonathan Morrow, and Understanding Intelligent Design along with William A. Dembski. Sean has also written multiple books with his father, Josh McDowell, including The Unshakable Truth, More Than A Carpenter, and an update for Evidence that Demands a Verdict (2017). Sean is the General Editor for The Apologetics Study Bible for Students. He has also written for YouthWorker Journal, Decision Magazine, and the Christian Research Journal. Follow the dialogue with Sean as he blogs regularly at seanmcdowell.org.

In April, 2000, Sean married his high school sweetheart, Stephanie. They have three children and live in San Juan Capistrano, California. Sean played college basketball at Biola University and was the captain his senior year on a team that went 30-7.



Evidence That Demands a Verdict is available from Thomas Nelson Publishing.

Thanks to Booklook Bloggers for the review copy.

Devotions From the Mountains

Book description:


I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. —Psalm 121:1–2

The mountains can seem like heaven on earth—the peace, the freshness, the grandeur. Devotions from the Mountains invites you to spend a quiet moment in reflection each day, finding peace and drawing closer to God—the Creator of heaven and earth. Inside you’ll find 90 inspirational readings, Scripture verses, prayers, and breathtaking imagery of God’s mountain handiwork sculpted and brought to life by His hand.

Lift your eyes to the mountains. Be refreshed and inspired at our amazing God who is more majestic than the mountains and yet cares for every detail of your life.




My review:

 I am always looking for a good devotional, so this one caught my eye with the beautiful photo on the cover of the book. It is true that you cannot judge a book by its cover, but we do tend to do that anyway. In this case, I judged correctly.

 Oddly, there is no author listed on the book, nor for any of the devotions in the book. The devotional is not a 365-day devotional, but has around 80 devotions in it (they are not numbered). Each has a title, followed by a Bible verse or two, then the main devotional.

 The book is also full of beautiful photographs of mountains and other pictures of nature.

 The anonymous devotions are well written and center mostly around nature and the mountains. Even without the well written devotions, the book is worth having for the beautiful photography throughout the book.


Devotions From the Mountains is available from Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Thanks to Booklook Bloggers for the review copy.

Hind's Feet On High Places by Hanna Hurnard

Book description:

Journey with Much-Afraid to new heights of love, joy, and victory! For the first time, this beloved Christian allegory is a mixed-media special edition complete with charming watercolor paintings, antique tinted photography, and meditative hand-lettered Scripture. As you read and connect with the story of Much-Afraid and her trials, the pages of this book come alive thanks to the plethora of special artwork.

Hinds’ Feet on High Places, with more than 2,000,000 copies sold, is a story of endurance, persistence, and reliance on God. This book has inspired millions of people to become sure-footed in their faith even when facing the rockiest of life’s terrain. The story of Much-Afraid is based on Psalm 18:33: “He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights.”

The complete Hinds’ Feet story is accented by 80 full-color paintings, photography, and hand-lettered Scripture.

My review:

  I have actually never read Hind's Feet on High Places until now. I know the book has been around for a long time, but just never read it until Tyndale Publishers offered it for review.

 If you are not familiar with the book, it is along the same lines of Pilgrim's Progress. The story itself is an interesting one, and one that I enjoyed more than Pilgrim's Progress. The writing style is easy to read, and the author had an engaging way of writing and describing her characters and their activities.

 This edition of the book is different from others. It has several pages of color paintings and other pictures scattered throughout the writing, which makes it an even more enjoyable read with the paintings and hand lettered Bible verses.

 I recommend the book, and if you are going to read it, I would recommend getting this edition. It is an eye catching edition that you will want to read over and over.

About the author:


Hanna Hurnard was a twentieth century Christian author, best known for her allegory Hinds' Feet on High Places.

Hurnard was born in 1905 in Colchester, England to Quaker parents. She graduated from Ridgelands Bible College of Great Britain in 1926. In 1932 she became an independent missionary, moving to Haifa, Israel. Her work in Israel lasted 50 years, although she would later maintain a home in England as well.

Hurnard's early writings (especially Hinds' Feet on High Places and the sequel Mountain of Spices) were embraced by the mainstream Christian community, but later on in her life she seems to have departed from orthodoxy.


This edition was illustrated by Jill DeHaan and Rachel McNaughton.

Hind's Feet on High Places is available from Tyndale Publishers.

Thanks to Tyndale for the review copy.

Deadly Proof by Rachel Dylan

Book description:

In the biggest case of her career, attorney Kate Sullivan is tapped as lead counsel to take on Mason Pharmaceutical because of a corporate cover-up related to its newest drug. After a whistleblower dies, Kate knows the stakes are much higher than her other lawsuits.

Former Army Ranger turned private investigator Landon James is still haunted by mistakes made while serving overseas. Trying to forget the past, he is hired by Kate to look into the whistleblower's allegation and soon suspects that the company may be engaging in a dangerous game for profit. He also soon finds himself falling for this passionate and earnest young lawyer. 

Determined not to make the same mistakes, he's intent on keeping Kate safe, but as the case deepens, it appears someone is willing to risk everything--even murder--to keep the case from going to trial.

My review:

  I enjoy legal thrillers, and there have been a few authors on the Christian market who have written some great ones. I also enjoy trying new authors, so this was a no brainier to request this legal thriller to a new (to me) author. My first thoughts upon finishing this book were "wow!" and "This lady is really good." I started researching her and was surprised to discover that she is not a new author, and has several published books under her belt.

 The legal thrillers I have read have been mostly by men, but Dylan shows she can hold her own in among these guys with this novel. It has everything a reader would want in a legal thriller: Great plot, great and likable characters, suspense, drama, romance, and legal "stuff" that is in easy to understand jargon.

 Deadly Proof has great Christian themes throughout it, and especially of trusting God, and forgiveness. The book is an exciting read that kept me on the edge of my seat, and groaning when I had to put the book aside to do other things that needed done. The book had an excellent ending that left me wanting more, and also left me wanting to read more by this author. This is a truly awesome read that I was sorry to see end.

About the author:


Rachel Dylan writes Christian fiction including inspirational romantic suspense for Love Inspired Suspense and the Windy Ridge Legal Thriller series. Rachel has practiced law for almost a decade and enjoys weaving together legal and suspenseful stories. She lives in Michigan with her husband and five furkids--two dogs and three cats. Rachel loves to connect with readers. You can find Rachel at www.racheldylan.com.



Sunday, December 3, 2017

The Gift of Christmas Past by Cindy & Erin Woodsmall

My review:

Arson wasn't the only fire that ignited between them. Promises shattered. Lies spoken. She was arrested. He returned to the safety of his wealthy parents.

Almost ten years later, Hadley and Monroe are both specialists in the field of speech therapy. They meet again . . . thrown together to help a four-year-old-girl rendered mute after being rescued from a fire. 

Years of secrets and anger beg to be set free as Hadley and Monroe try to push aside past hurts and find common ground in order to help the traumatized child and her family. 

Can the love of Christmas past drift into 
the present, bringing healing and hope for all?


My review:

   I have never read anything by Cindy Woodsmall, and only requested this because it was a Christmas book and also sounded like a suspense novel. It wasn't suspense, but did lean towards being a Christmas novel.

  I'll say right up front I really liked the book. It was pretty much a romance/Christmas novel, with a lot of romance.... but I still liked it. The Woodsmall ladies created some very likable and flawed characters. The parents of Monroe were not very likable, but did redeem themselves in the end. (Slight spoiler there).

 The plot was great, and the takeaway even better. At the center of the story are two people in love separated by not knowing the truth about each other and letting that keep them separated for years. That doesn't just happen between a couple in love, but can happen between anyone. I was entertained by the book, but appreciated that reminder that we all need to really talk and know the truth before we let something separate us and keep us from someone when we don't know the truth or the whole story.

 I don't know if these two ladies have ever written a book together before, but they hit this one out of the park.

About the authors:


Cindy Woodsmall is the New York Times and CBA best-selling author of twenty works of fiction. She's been featured in national media outlets such as ABC's Nightline and the Wall Street Journal. Cindy has won numerous awards and has been a finalist for the prestigious Christy, Rita, and Carol Awards. Cindy and her husband reside near the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains. She can be found online at cindywoodsmall.com.



Erin Woodsmall is a writer, musician, wife, and mom of three. She has edited, brainstormed, and researched books with Cindy for almost a decade. She is very excited about their first coauthored book.



Thanks to Litfuse for the review copy.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

World View by Marvin Olasky

Book description:

How could our world be different if Christians were recognized for not only speaking the truth, but also demonstrating mercy? What would our lives be like if we reacted to our common culture with not just biblical facts, but also grace and compassion?

For more than 25 years, Marvin Olasky has offered this kind of viewpoint in his columns as the Editor-in-Chief of World Magazine, the leading news magazine written with a Christian perspective. In this collection of far-ranging columns, Olasky's commentary on world events and affairs, as well as his own personal interactions, encourages readers to respond with both grace and truth in every encounter.

A leading voice for standing for biblical truth in the public square, Olasky also believes Christians should incorporate the biblical virtues of humility, kindness, and mercy in all of life. His call for biblical values to include both truth and mercy makes his voice stand out in a world that often falsely divides those goals and settles for a poor imitation of the robust Christianity described in Scripture. These short and punchy columns offer readers a new way to consider challenges in today's world and shows them how to respond to any encounter biblically, but not hysterically, providing a wake-up call for the complacent, while also calming the frantic.

Regular readers of World will want to have this 60-column collection for their own library, as well as an extra copy to share with friends.
Curated columns that offer the best of Martin Olasky, editor-in-chief of World.
Commentary on world events of the last 25 years from the leading news magazine with a Christian perspective.
Sets forth a vision for how Christians can speak truth and demonstrate mercy at the same time.
Provides a reader-friendly way to think through challenges and respond biblically, but not hysterically.
A wonderful collection that World readers will want for their own library and to share with friends.

My review:

  When I read the email offering this book for review, I just skimmed it. I didn't realize until I started reading it that is comprised of columns the author wrote for World Magazine. That is not a complaint. I actually enjoy books that have short sections/chapters, as they are great to pick up and read a page or two and set the book aside to do other things. And these columns cover a lot of different topics, all written in an interesting fashion that one wants to ponder on and not just skim.

 To be honest, I have never read World Magazine nor have I heard of Marvin Olasky....... but this book makes me want to read the magazine. Olasky has a unique style of writing that merges religion, current events,  and politics in a great way that makes sense and shows the need of Christian values and morals in our world.

 In one way, the book is a quick read being split up into so many columns. Yet, these are columns that need to be read carefully and thought about, so in that way it is not a quick read if you want to get the most out of the book. Regardless, there is a lot of great thoughts in this book that make it worth the time to read.

About the author:


Marvin Olasky is editor-in-chief of WORLD News Group, a distinguished chair in journalism and public policy at Patrick Henry College, and the author of more than twenty books, including Compassionate Conservatism and The Tragedy of American Compassion.

He and his wife, Susan, have four sons and one granddaughter.


World View is available from New Growth Press.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Death At Thorburn Hall, A Drew Farthering Mystery #6 by Juliana Deering

Book description:

Investigating a suspicious accident leads Drew on a path that points to international intrigue and ever-growing danger

Drew Farthering arrives in idyllic Scotland for the 1935 British Open at Muirfield, hoping for a relaxing holiday with his wife, Madeline, and friend Nick. But death meets him once again when Lord Rainsby, their host at Thorburn Hall, is killed in a suspicious riding accident--only days after confiding in Drew his fears that his business partner was embezzling funds.

Thorburn Hall is filled with guests, and as Drew continues to dig, he realizes that each appears to have dark motives for wanting Rainsby out of the way. Together with Madeline and Nick, he must sort through shady business dealings, international intrigue, and family tensions to find a killer who always seems to be one step ahead.

My review:

  Every time I think this series is done, the author comes out with another book. That is not a complaint, as I have enjoyed every book in this series. This series is set in England in the 1930's and centers around Drew Farthering, a wealthy young man who has a habit of falling in the middle of a good mystery. He has been married for a few books now, and drags his wife and best friend/attendant Nick with him.

 This book actually takes place in Scotland. The author always writes a great mystery with a lot of drama and suspense, and this book was no different. There were quite a few suspects, and I never did figure out who the guilty party was until it was revealed in the book. Along with the mystery, this book also centered more on Nick's romance with his American girlfriend who is visiting. I won't give anything away there, except to say that went the way I hoped it would.

 With six books in the series and it being a few years since I have read some of them, it is hard to pick a favorite. Each does seem better than the one it follows, but maybe it just seems that way. I will say the author has done it again, and written a great suspense novel true to  the time period, and has again brought back her great likable characters of Drew, Nick, and the others.

 The books definitely should be read in order.

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


About the author:


Julianna Deering is the creator of the acclaimed Drew Farthering Mystery series. She has always loved British history and is a particular fan of the writings of Dorothy Sayers and Agatha Christie. She graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas with a degree in business administration and spent several years as a Certified Public Accountant. She lives outside Dallas, Texas. For more information visit www.juliannadeering.com.


Death At Thorburn Hall and the rest of the books in the series is available from Bethany House Publishers, part of the Baker Publishing Group.

Thanks to Bethany House for the review copy.




Living With No Excuses: The Remarkable Rebirth of an American Soldier by Noah Galloway

Book description:

Military hero and beloved Dancing with the Stars alum Noah Galloway shares his life story, and how losing his arm and leg in combat forced him to relearn how to live--and live to the fullest.

Inspirational, humorous, and thought provoking, Noah Galloway's LIVING WITH NO EXCUSES sheds light on his upbringing in rural Alabama, his military experience, and the battle he faced to overcome losing two limbs during Operation Iraqi Freedom. From reliving the early days of life to his acceptance of his "new normal" after losing his arm and leg in combat, Noah reveals his ambition to succeed against all odds. 

Noah's gripping story is a shining example that with laughter, and the right amount of perspective, you can tackle anything. Whether it be overcoming injury, conquering the Dancing with the Stars ballroom, or taking the next steps forward in life with his young family - Noah demonstrates how to live life to the fullest, with no excuses.

My review:

  I have always been very pro-military. Novelists like Ronie Kendig who writes great military fiction has helped me gain a greater appreciation for our military. This book, however, is not fiction and made me feel even more pro-military as I gained and even greater appreciation for Noah Galloway and other men like him.

 I was impressed with Noah from the first time I heard of him. I watched his videos, saw clips of him on Dancing With the Stars, voted for him to be on the cover of Men's Health and then rejoiced as he won. And then I saw he had a book coming out and I could review it.

 The book definitely does not disappoint. Noah takes the reader through it all - his upbringing, his military career and family life, the loss of his two limbs, his descent into depression, and his decision to focus on what he had left instead of what he was missing. His story is an inspirational story with high and low points as he honestly bares his soul and tells of his victories and his losses.

The first part of the title of the book is Living With No Excuses. It should come with a warning. Noah's story can make you feel guilty as  you read of what he has accomplished as a double amputee, while so many of us complain and give up so easily in what we think are big challenges. I found the book to be both encouraging and convicting, and one we should all read. Thanks to Noah and others for all they have sacrificed for our country.

About the author:


Sergeant NOAH GALLOWAY was assigned to the 1st of the 502nd Infantry of the 101st Airborne Division during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Three months into his second tour of duty, he experienced a life changing injury-- losing his left arm above the elbow and left leg above the knee in an Improvised Explosive Device attack. After a long stint in recovery and rehabilitation, Noah became a motivational speaker and fitness activist. A father of three, Noah currently resides in Alabaster, Alabama.


Living With No Excuses: The Remarkable Rebirth of an American Soldier is available from Center Street Publishing, part of the Hachette Book Group.

Thanks to Center Street for the review copy.

The Paperbag Christmas by Kevin Milne

Book description:

Dr. Christopher Ringle is the last person you'd expect to find moonlighting as Santa Claus at the mall on the day after Thanksgiving. But it is there that he meets a young man named Molar Alan, who desperately needs a new perspective on the underlying value of Christmas. Dr. Ringle recruits Mo and his older brother as volunteers at a nearby children's hospital for the holiday season. At the hospital, Mo is tasked to help bring holiday cheer to the young cancer patients on the fifth floor. His biggest challenge is befriending a decidedly angry girl who is so embarrassed by her scarred appearance that she hides her face behind the safety of a paper bag.

My review:

 I am not big on Santa, so I was a bit dubious about this book. To my surprise, it was not at all what I was expecting.

  Though this book is fiction, I found it to be a very touching story. I laughed through the hospital Christmas pageant, and found myself crying as two very different kids gave their own unique Christmas gifts to God. The book definitely had its sad moments, yet the message of the reason for Christmas comes through in the end and there are enough high points in the book to make the book a great read. I am highly recommending it.


About the author:

Kevin Milne was born in Portland, Oregon on June 13, 1973. Nearly eighteen years later he graduated from high school in Sherwood, Oregon, a small country town outside of Portland. From there it was off to college, where he studied anything and everything that caught his interest.

In his first two years as an undergraduate student he changed majors almost a dozen times, studying such varied fields as film, journalism, communications, philosophy, pre-dentistry, advertising, pre-law, pre-medicine, political science, and German, then finally earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology. Just about the only thing he didn’t study was business, which, ironically, is what he chose to pursue in graduate school, earning an MBA at Penn State University in 2000.

Today, Kevin is a business professional by day, an author by night, and a husband and father around the clock. He and his wife, Rebecca, were married in Washington DC in 1995. They now reside in Kevin’s hometown of Sherwood, Oregon, where they are the proud parents of five children: Mikayla, Kamry, Mary, Emma, & Kyler (aka "the boy").

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Vanishing Point, Nikki Boyd Files #4 by Lisa Harris

Book description:


Six girls missing . . . and every clue leads to a dead end

During Garrett Addison's first week on the job as a criminal investigator for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, his team is called out to a murder scene of a young girl. She's just one in a string of disappearances with one thing in common--a Polaroid photo of each victim left behind at the crime scene.

The FBI is pulled into the case to help, and Garrett finds himself working with Special Agent Jordan Lambert, the woman he once loved. When yet another girl dies, Garrett wonders whether he really has what it takes to be an agent. Maybe he should just walk. But while he may be done with the killer, the killer is not done with him--or Jordan.


My review:

 I really enjoyed this series, and thought it had ended with book #3. When I got the email offering this one for review, I didn't even realize it was part of the series at first. The book doesn't have the same look as the others, and does not have the same main characters, though Nikki Boyd is in the book some.

 Vanishing Point actually starts around 13 years before the rest of the series, something I didn't understand at first. Once I caught onto the time line, it was easy to get caught up in the story. Unlike most novels of this type, this book covers around a 13-year time span. In the other books, many references are made to Nikki Boyd's missing sister. This book goes back to before the disappearance of that sister and comes up to beyond where book #3 ended.

 The romance in this book was also different from most suspense novels. The two main characters, Garrett and Jordan had previously dated and kept running across each other because of the case they were jointly working on. This was not a fast romance, but one that slowly took place over the same 13 year time span as the rest of the book.

 In spite of it being so different from the other books in the series, I loved the book. I liked the new characters, and the book was full of non stop suspense, action, and detective work. There were a lot of surprises, and the identity of the bad guy wasn't easy to figure out. Harris outdid herself with this one, and it was a great way to end a series I thought was done, but was happy to read one more book from.

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

About the author:


Lisa Harris is a bestselling author, a Christy Award winner, and the winner of the Best Inspirational Suspense Novel for 2011 from Romantic Times. She has sold over thirty novels and novella collections. Along with her husband, she and her three children have spent over ten years living as missionaries in Africa where she homeschools, leads a women's group, and runs a nonprofit organization that works alongside their church-planting ministry. The ECHO Project works in southern Africa promoting Education, Compassion, Health, and Opportunity and is a way for her to "speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves . . . the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice" (Proverbs 31:8).

When she's not working, she loves hanging out with her family, cooking different ethnic dishes, photography, and heading into the African bush on safari. For more information about her books and life in Africa, visit her website at www.lisaharriswrites.com or her blog at http://myblogintheheartofafrica.blogspot.com. For more information about The ECHO Project, please visit www.theECHOproject.org.


Vanishing Point and the other 3 books in the Nikki Boyd Files are available from Revell, part of the Baker Publishing Group.

Thanks to Revell for the review copy.

Check out the rest of the series:


The Illuminated ESV Bible, with a giveaway

Bible description:

ESV ILLUMINATED BIBLE:

The ESV Illuminated Bible places the full ESV text alongside over 500 elegantly hand-lettered gold ink illustrations by renowned artist Dana Tanamachi. Printed on thick cream-colored paper, the Bible's single-column text setting and wide margins provide generous space for additional notes, prayers, and designs—inviting readers to creatively engage with and reflect on the beauty of God's Word.
9-point, Lexicon
Black letter text
2-color printing
64 full-page, custom book opener illustrations
50 full-page verse illustrations
250+ hand-lettered margin verses
100+ other illustrations throughout
Illustrated by Dana Tanamachi, whose work has been featured by Google, The Wall Street Journal, Random House, USPS, and Target
Thick, cream-colored paper
Wide margins
Single-column, paragraph format
Smyth-sewn binding
Packaging: Permanent Slipcase




My review:

  The ESV has become one of my favorite Bible versions. I have a couple different ESV Bibles already, but this one looked interesting, so I requested it.

 This is a pretty cool Bible. I am not one to journal in a Bible, but am becoming more and more interested in doing so. This Bible has a lot of room on the margins to jot thoughts or even draw, if that is your thing.

 The illustrations are eye catching and adds a lot to the Bible.

 The Bible has the look of an encyclopedia, and comes in a matching open end box such as a boxed set of books come in.

 If you are wanting a Bible to carry to church, this may not be the right Bible for that. However, if you want a Bible for personal reading and one you can journal and write notes in, this is a great Bible for that.

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

About the illustrator:

Dana Tanamachi is an American lettering artist, graphic designer, and illustrator whose exquisite typographic murals ignited the worldwide chalk-lettering trend.  She has been commissioned by clients such as Instagram, Target, Google, Time Magazine, Nike, and West Elm. Learn more at tanamachistudio.com.

Check out the website for the Bible: IlluminatedBible.org

Giveaway:
Just comment on this blog post to be entered to win a copy of this Bible. I will pick a winer using Random.org on November 25.


“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.


Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

How We Made the ESV Illuminated Bible from Crossway on Vimeo.

 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Murder In Disguise, A Preston Barclay Mystery # by Donn Taylor

Book description:

Official verdict:  Suicide.

But why would that vigorous department chairman commit suicide? And did he kill himself to avoid disgrace from the impending exposure of his activities on the dark side became known? When visiting professor Preston Barclay questions his long-time friend's suicide, he receives threats. Press has enough problems already in proving his competence to students and faculty in the newly-hostile environment of the state university. For the new department chairman and campus radicals do all they can to undermine him. And the sexy female siren assigned as his student assistant creates problems there and with Press's courtship of his colleague Mara Thorn.

Press's questions don't find adequate answers, rumors accuse his friend of involvement in disgraceful activities, and Mara's researches reveal a wide range of criminal activity stretching from the community onto the campus itself. The more things don't add up, the more dangerous the threats become, and the more determined Press becomes to clear his friend's name and find the truth about the alleged suicide.

But can Press and Mara's stumbling efforts to find the truth prevail against the entrenched forces of the police, the campus radicals, and an unseen criminal organization that increasingly puts their lives in danger. . . ?

My review:

 I enjoyed the first two books in this series, so I was up for reviewing this third book in the Preston Barclay Mystery Series.

 The setting for this book is the same as the other two: the college where Preston teaches. This mystery revolves around his friend's suicide, which  the friend's wife refuses to believe was a suicide.

 I enjoyed the book, and thought it was the best of the series so far. I had forgotten though how annoying the main character's constant hearing music in his head was that he hears on different occasions and different people. I find it a distraction as I read the books.

 Murder In Disguise had some very interesting and odd characters, and bad and good. The book not only has suspense and drama, but also a lot of humor. Taylor has a unique way of describing his characters, especially the more colorful ones.

 The end result of the mystery wasn't a surprise, as the description of the book lends to the idea of how it ends. However, there is a lot of suspense. mystery, and surprises along the way as Preston reluctantly investigates his friend's death.

About the author:


Donn Taylor led an Infantry rifle platoon in the Korean War, served with Army aviation in Vietnam, and worked with air reconnaissance in Europe and Asia. Afterwards, he earned a PhD in Renaissance literature and taught literature at two liberal arts colleges. His publications include three suspense novels, one historical novel, and a book of poetry. He lives near Houston, TX, where he writes fiction, poetry, and essays on current topics.


Thanks to Litfuse for the review copy.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Christmas Star by Robert Tate Miller

Book description:

Paul Bennett had the perfect wife, the perfect family, the perfect life—until one fateful Christmas brought an unthinkable tragedy. In deep despair, he turns to drinking to drive away the pain, but he only succeeds in driving away his wife. His marriage shattered, his family gone, Paul now despises Christmas.

But can the holiday he so detests hold a miraculous surprise? After an accident in which he loses consciousness, he wakes up in the company of the shepherds who will soon travel to Bethlehem to see the newborn Christ in the manger. Can Paul find salvation on the night that forever changed the world? Can he discover the true spirit of Christmas?

My review:

 I read and reviewed this author's other Christmas novel a few years ago, and really liked it. A few weeks ago, he commented on that book review on my blog and asked if I'd be interested in reviewing his new Christmas novel. I can never turn down a Christmas book, and also since I liked his other book, I said yes. This is actually his third Christmas novel, but I have not read the second one.

 The title of this book is Christmas Star, A Love Story. A lot of the book does not take place at Christmas. It starts at Christmas, ends at Christmas, and there are a few Christmases celebrated by the main characters throughout the book. A big part of the book is a love story between the main character, Paul Bennett and his wife.

 The book starts with loss and sadness, and when the main character is in his mid 30's, to my calculations. The author then goes back in time to when the main character is in his childhood up through his late teens, and then onto him meeting the love of his life.

There are some sad parts of the book, and a lot of happy times also. It shows how badly one can deal with loss if their focus isn't completely on God and they are not fully surrendered to Him and His will. It shows how far a man can sink when he has no hope and no faith in God. And it shows that God can restore broken people and give them hope.

 I try not to give any spoilers away in a book review, so I will try to be careful not to do so here: at one point the main character goes back in time. The author doesn't really explain how, but a dream is a likely possibility. Through that experience, the wonder and hope of Christmas brings about the highest point in the book, and it ends on a good note showing the true meaning of Christmas.

 I liked this book even more than the previous Christmas novel by Miller. It was an emotional read, with sad and happy moments both stirring my emotions. If you are going to read one Christmas story this year, you should make it be this one.

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

About the author:


Robert Tate Miller began his writing career with homespun essays of small town life that were published by Reader's Digest, The Christian Science Monitor, and the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series. He moved to Los Angeles in the late 1980s and wrote successful family-oriented telefilms for NBC, ABC Family, and the Hallmark Channel. Robert lives in Northridge, CA, with his wife Gina and stepdaughter Chloe June.

Review of my 2017 Christmas CDs

Every Christmas I buy a few new Christmas CDs, and have posted brief reviews of them the last few years. I bought 4 new ones this year, not counting "new" used ones that I purchased since last Christmas:

Alabama: An American Christmas















  This is the third Christmas CD Alabama has done, and is the best in my opinion. Their first CD only had a few songs I liked very much, and I didn't like their second one at all. This one is definitely the best.

 An American Christmas has 15 songs. Three of those are 3 traditional carols. They do the traditional secular tunes Jingle Bells and Winter Wonderland and Auld Lang Syne, along with 7 new tunes, at least to me. Two of those new songs do a great job of getting at the true meaning of Christmas: Remember Me and The Greatest Gift. They also re-recorded their most famous and well-liked Christmas song, Christmas In Dixie.

Personal favorites:
The Greatest Gift
Christmas In Dixie
Jingle Bells

 This is a great CD to add to your music collection, especially if you like country Christmas music.


Doug Anderson: Back Porch Christmas













 Doug Anderson was baritone for Ernie Haase And Signature Sound for several years before going solo. I feel that was a good decision, and have liked his solo CDs. He collaborated on this CD with a new country group called 4th and Main that consists of 4 young guys. They sing back up on the CD, and I think may also do a guest vocal or two.

 Sadlly this CD only has 8 songs, though I did only pay $8.99 for it. I like at least 10 songs on a CD. It is a great CD though, and one I am really enjoying, Six of the songs are new, at least to me. On one of the new songs, he does Joy to the World with it. He recorded Christmas In Heaven, which is a great song done by country singer Scotty McCreery. He also did the old standard I'll Be Home for Christmas.

 The CD is Southern Gospel/Country, and 4th and Main added a lot to the CD with their vocals. Although the CD only has 8 songs, they are a great variety of songs that are done with style.

Personal favorites:
Christmas In Heaven
If It Wasn't For Christmas/Joy to the World
Back Porch Christmas


Sam Levine:  Smooth Christmas














 Sam Leving is a saxophone player, and I have several of his CDs. He does all styles of music: Hymns, Praise & Worship, 50's, 60's, movie tunes, and more. This is his second Christmas CD, and the better of the two, The other one was mostly or all newer Christmas songs, whereas this one is all traditional tunes. The CD has 12 songs, and all of them are total instrumental, sax with other instruments backing it up. There are no vocals at all. Of the 12 songs, all were familiar to me except for The Wexford Carol and All Is Well. This is a great CD to have playing in the background, or in the car when you aren't in the mood for someone singing. And I think he is as good as Kenny G.

Personal favorites:
O Come All Ye Faithful
Go Tell It On the Mountain/Children Go Where I Send Thee
Mary, Did You Know?
O Holy Night

Casting Crowns: It's Finally Christmas















 This is the only CCM Christmas CD I bought this year. It is what is considered an EP, so it only has 6 songs on it. Three of the songs are traditional carols/hymns, with two of them having a newer song put with them.

 The songs are done well, with no outrageous or wild arrangements, and one doesn't have to like the group's usual fare to like this.

Personal favorites:

Make Room
Somewhere In Your Silent Night

Monday, November 6, 2017

Colors of Christmas by Olivia Newport

Book description:

Christmas in Gold
After eighty years, change is nothing new for Astrid. By the time she was twenty, she survived the destructive Nazi regime, caring for her family under brutal circumstances, moving to America, and losing her husband. At forty she was widowed again and left to build a new life with her children. Now, when she faces a move into an assisted living community and meets a young woman on the brink of despair, she resolves to stir up hope through tragedy one more time.

Christmas in Blue
In the wake of a personal loss deeper than anyone realizes, Angela plans to bypass as much of the season as possible and get through her duties as the church organist by going on autopilot. Instead, she finds herself in charge of the town’s celebration. After a mysterious young man arrives, townspeople suspect he is the reason that one set of plans after another disintegrate until little is left of their traditions. Yet Angela warms to Gabe because she suspects they share a secret—his real reason for coming to town. Even when all they have to work with is a garish supply of blue Christmas decorations, Gabe helps Angela discover the hidden beauty of hope.

My review:

 I am a sucker for Christmas books, and have way more than I could possibly read during one Christmas season.... but that doesn't stop me from reading and reviewing new ones that come out each year.

 This is the first Christmas book I have read and/or reviewed this year. It is also the first book I have read by this author. Christmas books often revolve around romance, but neither of the two stories in this book do, though there is a hint of a possible romance in the first story.

 I did enjoy both stories. It was neat the way the author brought the color gold into the first story, and the color blue into the first. Each story deals with a different type of loss, and the main character in each story has new challenges thrown her way. Newport not only came up with an endearing plot for both stories, but also endearing and likable characters. I liked Christmas In Blue better than Christmas In Gold. I thought the plot was better, and there were a lot more characters that made you want to like them and experience Christmas the way they were experiencing it. And that is not to say I didn't like Christmas In Gold.... I did. Both stories show the hope and magic of the Christmas season.

 I don't know if the author has previously written any Christmas books, but this is one she can be proud of and is one I recommend to other lovers of a good Christmas story.

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

About the author:


Olivia Newport’s novels twist through time to find where faith and passions meet. Her husband and twentysomething children provide welcome distraction from the people stomping through her head on their way into her books. She chases joy in stunning Colorado at the foot of the Rockies, where daylilies grow as tall as she is.

Check out her website at www.olivianewport.com.


Colors of Christmas is available from Shiloh Run Press, an imprint of  Barbour Publishing.

Thanks to Barbour for the review copy.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Rescued Hearts by Hope Toler Dougherty, with a giveaway

Book description:

Children's clothing designer Mary Wade Kimball's soft spot for animals leads to a hostage situation when she spots a briar- entangled kitten in front of an abandoned house. Beaten, bound, and gagged by the two thugs inside, Mary Wade loses hope for escape when a third villain returns with supplies.

Discovering the kidnapped woman ratchets the complications for undercover agent Brett Davis. Weighing the difference of ruining his three months' investigation against the woman's safety, Brett forsakes his mission and helps her escape, the bent-on-revenge brutes following behind.

When Mary Wade's safety is threatened once more, Brett rescues her again. This time, her personal safety isn't the only thing in jeopardy. Her heart is endangered as well.

An animal rescue, an abandoned house, and a kidnapping. Find out what happens in Hope Toler Dougherty's new release!

My review:

  I like trying out new authors, and this was a new author to me. She has a few other books, but they don't look like they are suspense, as this one is....which is my favorite genre'. And I definitely liked her suspense novel.

 The book starts out with a kidnapping and then a rescue, so it didn't take long for me to get pulled into the story. I found myself liking the two main characters right away, and loved the conversations and interplay between the two of them. The male hero of the story also had an interesting and amusing grandmother that played into the story a lot.

 The suspense element was done very well. You knew the bad guys were after the couple, but there were still some surprises along the way. I thought the book was very well written, had great characters, plot, and ending. It was a book I didn't want to put down and read through fairly quickly. Looking forward to reading more suspense from this author.

About the author:


Hope Toler Dougherty holds a Master's degree in English and taught at East Carolina University as well as York Technical College. A member of ACFW, RWA and SinC, she writes for Almost an Author. Before writing novels, she published non-fiction articles on topics ranging from gardening with children to writing apprehension. She follows the Pittsburgh Steelers, ACC basketball, and Army West Point Football. Hope and her husband, Kevin, live in North Carolina and chat with their two daughters and twin sons through ooVoo. Her debut novel, Irish Encounter, is partially set in Ireland. Her second one, Mars . . . With Venus Rising, is published with Pelican Book Group.

Learn more at hopetolerdougherty.com.

Thanks to Litfuse for the review copy.



  Her personal safety isn't the only thing in jeopardy-so is her heart. In Hope Toler Dougherty's new novel, Rescued Hearts, children's clothing designer Mary Wade Kimball's soft spot for animals leads to a hostage situation when she spots a briar-entangled kitten in front of an abandoned house. Discovering the kidnapped woman ratchets the complications for undercover agent Brett Davis. Brett forsakes his three-month mission and helps her escape, the bent-on-revenge brutes following behind . . . and then Mary Wade's safety is threatened once more.

Cozy up this fall with Hope's new book and enter to win a Kindle Fire!


One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A copy of Rescued Hearts
  • A Kindle Fire 7
Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on November 13. The winner will be announced November 14 on the Litfuse blog.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Know The Word Study Bible KJV, with a giveaway

Bible description:

The KJV Know the Word Study Bible offers three easy ways to begin studying Scripture and helps individuals transition from being a casual reader of the Bible to becoming a regular student of the Bible. You can choose to study the Bible book-by-book, verse-by-verse, or topic-by-topic; each path offers powerful insights that will help you develop a daily routine of Bible study. The book-by-book series of notes leads you through the main points of each book of the Bible. The verse-by-verse notes help you to dig deeper into God's Word. The topic-by-topic articles, which cover 21 theological topics, guide you through a series of insightful notes and give you a thorough biblical understanding of each topic. With the beautiful and timeless text of the KJV translation, the KJV Know the Word Study Bible offers you choices of how to study Scripture and grow in your relationship with Christ.

Features Include:
King James Version Bible text
Three easy approaches to study the Bible (book-by-book, verse-by-verse, or topic-by-topic)
Insightful introductions for each book of Scripture
Words of Jesus in red
Beautiful two-color interior page design
Comprehensive list of theological notes
Concordance
Full-color maps 

My review:

  I grew up on the King James Version, and we still use it at my church exclusively, except on the rare occasion my pastor uses the NKJV. I personally rarely use it, but this Bible intrigued me. I went ahead and requested it, and am glad I did.

 I like a Bible with study notes on the verses, and this Bible has some great notes on the verses. As with other Bibles, there are not notes on every single verse, but they cover a lot of the verses throughout the Bible.

 This Bible also has book-by-book notes. At the beginning of each book are notes on how to study that book, with study the book highlights. I also found these well done and useful.

 Scattered throughout the Bible are highlighted verses or topics with an area for more insight.

 I found this to be a useful Study Bible to use while reading and studying the Bible, and I feel it is very well done.

 This Bible was given to me in exchange for my honest review.

 The Know The Word Study Bible is available from Thomas Nelson Publishing.



Thanks to Litfuse Publicity for the review copy. Diving deeper into God's Word can be easy and rewarding if you break it down book by book, verse by verse, or topic by topic with the new KJV Know The Word Study Bible by Thomas Nelson. The book-by-book series of notes leads you through the main points of each book of the Bible. The verse-by-verse notes help you to dig deeper into God's Word. The topic-by-topic articles, which cover 21 theological topics, guide you through a series of insightful notes and give you a thorough biblical understanding of each topic. With the beautiful and timeless text of the KJV translation, the KJV Know the Word Study Bible offers you choices of how to study Scripture and grow in your relationship with Christ.

This fall, become a regular student of the Bible and enter to win the Kindle Fire giveaway!


One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A copy of the KJV Know The Word Study Bible
  • A Kindle Fire 7
  • A Kindle Fire case (winner's choice)
Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on October 31. The winner will be announced November 1 on the Litfuse blog.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Where We Belong by Lynn Austin

Book description:

The Adventure of a Lifetime for Two Indomitable Socialite Sisters 

In the city of Chicago in 1892, the rules for Victorian women are strict, their roles limited. But sisters Rebecca and Flora Hawes are not typical Victorian ladies. Their love of adventure and their desire to use their God-given talents has brought them to the Sinai Desert--and into a sandstorm.

Accompanied by Soren Petersen, their somber young butler, and Kate Rafferty, a street urchin who is learning to be their ladies' maid, the two women are on a quest to find an important biblical manuscript. As the journey becomes more dangerous and uncertain, the four travelers sift through memories of their past, recalling the events that shaped them and the circumstances that brought them to this time and place.


My review:

 I have read several books by Lynn Austin, and they all had one thing in common: they were Biblical fiction. She did a masterful job on the two Biblical fiction series that I read by her. I had never read her other books, as they were pretty much women's fiction. When this book came up for review, I decided I'd check out her other fiction.

 Where We Belong is historical fiction, and I discovered that Lynn Austin writes as good of historical fiction as Biblical.......even if it is geared towards women. Granted, the book did have some elements of suspense and mystery, which are my favorite genre's.

 Austin came up with a great plot, setting, and time period for this novel. To be honest, I had a little difficulty getting into it at first, but after a few chapters I was able to get caught up in the story. Among other aspects of the book, I enjoyed the dialogue between the sisters and also between they and their companions on their journey.

 In her Biblical novels, I felt Austin did a lot of research for her books to be historically and also  accurately  according to the Bible. In We Belong, that research comes through also. I don't know a lot about the time period and setting of the novel, but Austin did a great job of portraying everything in a historically accurate way.

 I did enjoy the book, and most likely will try some of her other novels that are not Biblical ones.

 This book was given to me in exchange for my honest review.

About the author:


For many years, Lynn Austin nurtured a desire to write but frequent travels and the demands of her growing family postponed her career. When her husband's work took Lynn to Bogota, Colombia, for two years, she used the B.A. she'd earned at Southern Connecticut State University to become a teacher. After returning to the U.S., the Austins moved to Anderson, Indiana, Thunder Bay, Ontario, and later to Winnipeg, Manitoba.

It was during the long Canadian winters at home with her children that Lynn made progress on her dream to write, carving out a few hours of writing time each day while her children napped. Lynn credits her early experience of learning to write amid the chaos of family life for her ability to be a productive writer while making sure her family remains her top priority.

Extended family is also very important to Austin, and it was a lively discussion between Lynn, her mother, grandmother (age 98), and daughter concerning the change in women's roles through the generations that sparked the inspiration for her novel Eve's Daughters.

Along with reading, two of Lynn's lifelong passions are history and archaeology. While researching her Biblical fiction series, Chronicles of the Kings, these two interests led her to pursue graduate studies in Biblical Backgrounds and Archaeology through Southwestern Theological Seminary. She and her son traveled to Israel during the summer of 1989 to take part in an archaeological dig at the ancient city of Timnah. This experience contributed to the inspiration for her novel Wings of Refuge.

Lynn resigned from teaching to write full-time in 1992. Since then she has published twelve novels. Eight of her historical novels, Hidden Places, Candle in the Darkness, Fire by Night, A Proper Pursuit, and Until We Reach Home have won Christy Awards in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2008, and 2009 for excellence in Christian Fiction. Fire by Night was also one of only five inspirational fiction books chosen by Library Journal for their top picks of 2003, and All She Ever Wanted was chosen as one of the five inspirational top picks of 2005. Lynn's novel Hidden Places has been made into a movie for the Hallmark Channel, starring actress Shirley Jones. Ms Jones received a 2006 Emmy Award nomination for her portrayal of Aunt Batty in the film.

 Check out her website at LynnAustin.org.