Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Man He Never Was: A Modern Reimagining of Jekyll and Hyde by James Rubart

Book description:

What if You Woke up One Morning and the Darkest Parts of Yourself Were Gone?

Toren Daniels vanished eight months back, and his wife and kids have moved on--with more than a little relief. Toren was a good man but carried a raging temper that often exploded without warning. So when he shows up on their doorstep out of the blue, they're shocked to see him alive. But more shocked to see he's changed. Radically.

His anger is gone. He's oddly patient. Kind. Fun. The man he always wanted to be. Toren has no clue where he's been but knows he's been utterly transformed. He focuses on three things: Finding out where he's been. Finding out how it happened. And winning back his family.

But then shards of his old self start to rise from deep inside--like the man kicked out of the NFL for his fury--and Toren must face the supreme battle of his life.

In this fresh take on the classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, James L. Rubart explores the war between the good and evil within each of us--and one man's only chance to overcome the greatest divide of the soul.

My review:
 James Rubart is an author who doesn't have a lot of books out yet - I think this is his 9th - but they are all amazing and different reads. You don't get the run of the mill book. This one is no departure from his usual fare.

 I was intrigued by the idea of a modern retelling of the classic Jekyll and Hyde story, and he did not disappoint. As with all of his books, this one had a supernatural aspect that only made the book more of an enjoyable read.

 The classic story is mentioned in the book, and the main character has to fight his bad side which is referred to as Hyde. Ultimately, it comes down to Toren totally believing in and embracing God's love for him, and he in turn totally loving his family unselfishly.

 I loved the book, and it really makes the reader think. The plot was great, and Rubart again came up with a terrific cast of characters, not the least of them, Toren, the man battling his own self. Although the book and story are fictional, there is a lot of great insight and spiritual truth throughout the book. I definitely recommend it.

About the author:


James L. Rubart is a 28 year old trapped in an older man's body, who loves to water ski and dirt bike with his two grown sons. He's the bestselling, Christy, Carol, INSPY, and RT award winning author of eight novels, including his latest, The Long Journey to Jake Palmer. He lives with his amazing wife on a small lake in eastern Washington.


The Man He Never Was is available from Thomas Nelson Publishing.

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for the review copy.

The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers

Book description:

New York Times bestselling author Francine Rivers returns to her romance roots with this unexpected and redemptive love story, a probing tale that reminds us that mercy can shape even the most broken among us into an imperfect yet stunning masterpiece.

A successful LA artist, Roman Velasco appears to have everything he could possibly want―money, women, fame. Only Grace Moore, his reluctant, newly hired personal assistant, knows how little he truly has. The demons of Roman’s past seem to echo through the halls of his empty mansion and out across his breathtaking Topanga Canyon view. But Grace doesn’t know how her boss secretly wrestles with those demons: by tagging buildings as the Bird, a notorious but unidentified graffiti artist―an alter ego that could destroy his career and land him in prison.

Like Roman, Grace is wrestling with ghosts and secrets of her own. After a disastrous marriage threw her life completely off course, she vowed never to let love steal her dreams again. But as she gets to know the enigmatic man behind the reputation, it’s as if the jagged pieces of both of their pasts slowly begin to fit together . . . until something so unexpected happens that it changes the course of their relationship―and both their lives―forever.

My review:

 They say you can't judge a book by its cover. You can however, often judge a book by its description. Ever since I read about this book, I have been eagerly looking forward to reading it. Francine Rivers is a great author who does not put books out as fast as other authors, and she never disappoints when she does come out with a new book.

 And what a book it is. The title is a very appropriate title for it: The Masterpiece, for it is indeed a masterpiece of writing. The book is long, coming in at 496 pages, and every page is worth reading. Rivers created two very hurt and flawed characters and spun a masterpiece of a story around them. That many pages leaves a lot of time and space for character development, and Rivers did just that. She goes back in time often into both of the two main characters' pasts to show what made them what they are when the book begins.....and they are great characters.

 Roman is not a very nice guy for much of the book, but you can't help but like him and cheer him on. Grace is the ideal Christian woman with a not so ideal past. You pretty much figure these very opposite people are going to end up together by the end of the book, but it is quite an amazing journey watching it happen.

 Roman is a well known painter, part of the reason for the title of the book. However, the title captures much more than that as Rivers takes the readers on his journey from a man who hates and does not believe in God, a womanizer who uses women for sex and tosses them aside, to a faithful man of God and a husband who honors his wife and his children.

This was truly an amazing read. I started it on my lunch break yesterday, read more on my second break, read it on my breaks at work today, and finished it at home this evening. I was not only entertained, but was inspired and moved by this fictional account that shows how God can change lives even of those who seem the most hopeless. Five out of five stars, hands down. A masterpiece indeed.

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

About the author:


New York Times bestselling author Francine Rivers continues to win both industry acclaim and reader loyalty around the globe. Her numerous bestsellers include Redeeming Love, A Voice in the Wind, and Bridge to Haven, and her work has been translated into more than thirty different languages. She is a member of Romance Writers of America's coveted Hall of Fame as well as a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW).

www.francinerivers.com
www.facebook.com/FrancineRivers 
Twitter: @FrancineRivers


The Masterpiece is available from Tyndale Publishers.

Thanks to Tyndale for the review copy.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

All Things Bright and Strange by James Markert

Book Description

In the wake of World War I in the small, Southern town of Bellhaven, South Carolina, the town folk believe they’ve found a little slice of heaven in a mysterious chapel in the woods. But they soon realize that evil can come in the most beautiful of forms.

The people of Bellhaven have always looked to Ellsworth Newberry for guidance, but after losing his wife and his future as a professional pitcher, he is moments away from testing his mortality once and for all. Until he finally takes notice of the changes in his town . . . and the cardinals that have returned.

Upon the discovery of a small chapel deep in the Bellhaven woods, healing seems to fall upon the townspeople, bringing peace after several years of mourning. But as they visit the “healing floor” more frequently, the people begin to turn on one another, and the unusually tolerant town becomes anything but.

The cracks between the natural and supernatural begin to widen, and tensions rise. Before the town crumbles, Ellsworth must pull himself from the brink of suicide, overcome his demons, and face the truth of who he was born to be by leading the town into the woods to face the evil threatening Bellhaven.

Book review:

 I like to try out new authors, and this was a new one to me. I wasn't sure what to expect, but after reading it I would say it is similar to Frank Peretti's earlier books, yet different in many ways.

 I liked the plot, characters, and writing style. I found the book to be a little slow at first, but then it picked up and I had no trouble getting into it and enjoying the read. Writing about supernatural issues can be iffy, but I thought the author did a great job of portraying evil and the effect it can have on people.

 The Christian element in the book was challenging to figure out. There are a lot of churches in the town and several ministers and their people involved, and the main character leads the charge against the supernatural evil along with others, yet he and others are heavy drinkers, he smokes, and even has sex with a woman he is not married to.

 Other than those questionable things, the book was a fascinating read and showed how people can get caught up in something that may seem good, but is very evil and bad for them.

About the author:


James Markert is a novelist, screenwriter, producer, and USPTA tennis pro from Louisville, Kentucky, where he lives with his wife and two children. He has a history degree from the University of Louisville. He won an IPPY Award for The Requiem Rose, which later became A White Wind Blew. He is the writer and co-producer of the new feature film and tennis comedy, 2nd Serve, starring Josh Hopkins from Cougar Town.


All Things Bright and Strange is available from Thomas Nelson Publishing.

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for the review copy.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Kill Shot, White Knights #2 by Susan Sleeman

Book description:

Some fears haunt you …

When ballistics and weapons expert Rick Cannon learned the Department of Defense had developed self-steering bullets that show 100% accuracy and make even a gun novice a lethal sniper, he feared they would eventually end up in the wrong hands.

Until they become reality.

That fear comes true when a vet is killed with stolen “smart bullets.” Rick and his FBI task force, nicknamed The White Knights, are soon charged with finding and stopping the killer. Rick enlists the help of the victim’s therapist, Olivia Dobbs, who is well known for her success in counseling military vets with PTSD. But when the killer sets his sights on their key witness, Rick must rely on the skills he learned as a Marine sniper to make sure the next bullet fired isn’t a
kill shot to take Olivia out.

My review:

  I won a Love Inspired Suspense novel by Susan Sleeman a few years ago, and really enjoyed it. I was happy to see she was starting a trade paperback series, and read and reviewed the first book in this series, Fatal Mistake....which I liked even better than the other book I had read by her.

 And now I am reviewing the second book in the White Knights Series. I like series where an author keeps the same main cast of characters, centering on a different character each book. In this case, each book is about a different member of a special FBI team. I read and reviewed Fatal Mistake back in May, so it is not fresh on my mind, but I still think this was an even better read than the first.

 One has to keep in mind this book is fiction. However, I still found the plot fascinating and enjoyed reading about snipers and enjoyed seeing how these fictional FBI agents tracked down the killers. I liked the characters, the FBI team already having been in the first book, but I also liked the heroine of the story, and found the psychiatrist angle and talk interesting.

 The book shows how easy it is to let the past bind us and keep us from being everything that we can be, and how important family is and keeping close relationships with them. Prayer and other Christian themes play a big part in the book, and comes across in a way that critics should not find preachy.

 This IS romantic suspense, and I have come to enjoy that part of these types of books even as a bachelor, and found that part to be well done. I could find nothing to dislike in this book, and appreciated the pro-military angle of the story. I don't know how many books will be in the series, or if every team member will get their own book.... but I am looking forward to reading as many books as Sleeman writes in this series.

About the author:


SUSAN SLEEMAN is a bestselling and award-winning author of more than 30 inspirational/Christian and clean read romantic suspense books. Readers love her romantic suspense series for the well-drawn characters and edge-of-your-seat action. She graduated from the FBI and local police citizen academies, so her research is spot-on and her characters are real. In addition to writing, Susan also hosts thesuspensezone.com. She has lived in nine states but now calls Oregon home. Her husband is a retired church music director, and they have two beautiful daughters, a very special son-in-law, and an adorable grandson.
To learn more about Susan’s books sign up for her monthly email that includes exclusive excerpts, giveaways, and other goodies. http://www.susansleeman.com/susans-ne...

Or stop by any of these locations on the web.
Website - http://www.susansleeman.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/SusanSleemanBooks/
Twitter - http://www.twitter.com/susansleeman


Kill Shot is available from Faith Words, part of the Hachette Book Group.

Thanks to Faith Words for the review copy.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Coldwater by Samuel Parker

Book description:


Having forfeited his youth to the state prison system, Michael moved back to the only home he'd ever known. An empty shell of a man who now lived--if it could be called living--in the still vacant house of his parents in a town with one stoplight. A town that hated him. Had always hated him. And was ready to pick up where the prison system had let off.

Now he's on the run from men who've tried to kill him once; but Michael is more than an ex-con. A powerful, sinister force creeps inside him, threatening and destructive. Who--and what--it will destroy next is the only real question. From the bold voice that brought readers down Purgatory Road comes a new pulse-pounding, spine-rattling tale of vengeance and justice that will have them up all night.


My review:

 This is a book I am not sure what to say about in a review. It was weird, yet it was an interesting book that I read in one afternoon. I would hesitate to call it Christian fiction, even though it is classified as such. It is clean and free from bad language, but there is no Christian theme or talk of God and Christianity.

 The main character was sent to prison at the age of 10 years old for killing his 7 year old brother. There is something inside of him that protects him and usually kills anyone who threatens him. It is never really clearly stated what that is, or how he got it. The book starts with his release from prison. Everyone in the town he grew up in fears him, and there is a group of men determined to kill him before anyone else is harmed.

 I found the book to be rather dark and hopeless, though it does end on a hopeful note, but not much is said about what happened after that. It is shown what fear can do and what it can cause people to do. In the book, had the townspeople just left Michael alone, the deaths and mayhem would not have happened.

 I didn't dislike the book, or I wouldn't have finished it. It was just a bizarre and weird read that did seem dark and hopeless.

About the author:


Samuel Parker is the author of Purgatory Road. Born in the Michigan boondocks, he was raised on a never-ending road trip through the US. Besides writing, he is a process junkie and the ex-guitarist for several metal bands you've never heard of. He lives in West Michigan with his wife and twin sons.


Coldwater is available from Bethany House Publishers, part of the Baker Publishing Group.

Thanks to Bethany House for the review copy.


Monday, January 22, 2018

Be the Hands and Feet: Living Out God's Love for All His Children by Nick Vujicic

Book description:

Nothing in life is as exciting and satisfying as introducing Jesus to people who have never met him.

New York Times bestselling author and world-renowned motivational speaker Nick Vujicic is known worldwide as the man without arms and legs who personifies a "can do" spirit. Now in greater detail, he explains how the example of Jesus Christ motivates him to travel and speak broadly because the "good news" of the Gospel is just too good to keep quiet! Although the world has so many problems, no challenge is too great for the God who promises to move mountains. Using compelling stories from his own experience, Nick shares the heart of his message, the motivation behind all he does, and something that he believes the world needs now more than ever before: A faith in Jesus Christ that moves people to act and make the world a better place.


My review:

   I have read all of Nick's books he has written, and found the books and him to be very inspiring and encouraging. This book is different from his others in that it encourages others to do what he does - reach people for God.

   He spends a lot of time talking about how he got where he is now, and how God worked it out for him to travel all over the world and speak. He relates some of the things that has happened, and about some of the people he met.

  A lot of the book also covers people who are out there accomplishing great things for God, and how they got to where they are. Some of these people are ones he has mentored and given advice to on how to proceed with their ministry efforts.

 The book is a very inspiring read, but also a convicting one. If we are honest, most of us don't really accomplish much for God.....yet there are many stories in this book of people that got a vision, started small, and ended up going big for God.

 Nick also gives advice and input to the readers who feel they should be doing more for God. This was an interesting read, and one I would recommend.

 I was given a copy of this book for my part in the book launch team.

About the author:


Nick Vujicic is an international and New York Times bestselling author, evangelist, motivational speaker, and the director of Life Without Limbs, an organization that helps share the message of the hope in Christ to the entire globe. Nick is an inspiration worldwide to crowds and the media for his positive attitude toward overcoming obstacles and achieving dreams. A longtime resident of Australia, he now lives in Southern California with his wife, Kanae, two sons, and recently born twin daughters, January 2018.


Be The Hands and Feet is available from Waterbrook Publishing.

Thanks to Waterbrook/Multnomah for the review copy.


Sunday, January 21, 2018

Unimaginable: What Our World Would Be Like Without Christianity by Jeremiah J Johnston

Book description:

A Stirring Account of Christianity's Power for Good

In a day when Christians are often attacked for their beliefs, professor and speaker Jeremiah Johnston offers an inspiring look at the positive influence of Christianity, both historically and today. In Unimaginable, you'll discover the far-reaching ways that Christianity is good for the world--and has been since the first century AD--including: 
- How the plights of women and children in society were forever changed by Jesus
- Why democracy and our education and legal systems owe much to Christianity 
- How early believers demonstrated the inherent value of human life by caring for the sick, handicapped, and dying
- How Christians today are extending God's kingdom through charities, social justice efforts, and other profound ways

Like It's a Wonderful Life, the classic film that showed George Bailey how different Bedford Falls would be without his presence, Unimaginable guides readers through the halls of history to see how Jesus' teachings dramatically changed the world and continue to be the most powerful force for good today. This provocative and enlightening book is sure to encourage believers and challenge doubters.

My review:

 I had a little difficulty getting into this book at first, but the further I read, the more interesting it got. The book is split up into three parts:

The World Before Christianity
The World Without Christianity
The World With Christianity

  The author discusses leaders of Rome such as Nero and Caligula, goes further up in time to Hitler and others, and shows the effects those evil men had when it seemed Christianity was barely existing. He does a great job of showing what the world would truly be like were it not for Christianity, while showing the effect Christianity has on the world. The book is an interesting, yet sobering read as one realizes that even today there are those who would like to rid the world of Christianity, and what a world without it might look like.

About the author: (His bio in his words)


Hi, I am Jeremiah, and I am honored to have you stop by my author central page. I live at the intersection of the scholarly and popular worlds; therefore, I have a passion for teaching and inspiring people like you to own your faith and to engage confidently with the world around you.
Dr. Jeremiah J. Johnston is a New Testament scholar, professor, apologist, and regular speaker on university campuses, churches, and conferences. His passion is equipping Christians to give intellectually informed accounts of what they believe. Dr. Johnston completed his doctoral residency in Oxford in partnership with Oxford Centre for Mission Studies and received his Ph.D. from Middlesex University (United Kingdom), with commendation. He has Masters Degrees from Acadia University (Canada) and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (US). He has lectured throughout the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Dr. Johnston serves as the founder and president of Christian Thinkers Society, a resident institute at Houston Baptist University, where he also serves as associate professor of Early Christianity. Christian Thinkers Society produces live events, media productions, conferences, and publications to teach pastors and Christians to become thinkers, and thinkers to become Christians.

In addition to his popular publications, Dr. Johnston has distinguished himself with publications in scholarly, refereed journals and serials. These include entries in Oxford University Press and E. J. Brill reference works. He specializes in Christian origins, Jesus and the Gospels, and topics, especially apologetics, that closely relate to Jesus and the Gospels. These include: the resurrection of Jesus, New Testament manuscripts (their number, nature, and reliability), extra-canonical gospels, resurrection, and afterlife beliefs. He has presented academic papers at learned meetings and has examined ancient texts (papyri, codices, and the like) at renowned libraries, such as the Griffith Papyrology Room of Oxford University's Bodleian Library and the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library of Yale University. Dr. Johnston co-edits an academic series for Bloomsbury T&T Clark and is currently preparing a volume on Jesus in Cambridge University Press's distinguished "In Context" series.


Unimaginable is available from Bethany House Pubishers

Thanks to Cross-Focuses Reviews for the review copy.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Gospel Fluency Handbook by Jeff Vanderstelt & Ben Connelly, with a giveaway

Book description:

"I'm an unbeliever. So are you," Jeff Vanderstelt tells us in his book, Gospel Fluency. We slip in and out of believing God's word about us and trusting in His work on our behalf. We forget who He is, what's He's done, and in light of that, who we are.

Do these statements resonate with you? Then the Gospel Fluency Handbook was written for you. For those who've realized there are areas of life---your normal, everyday, busy life---where you disbelieve God, His goodness, and His gospel. It's for those who are keenly aware and weighted down by a failure to connect the way gospel truths actually matter to everyday life.

The Gospel Fluency Handbook is designed to help you and your group become fluent in the gospel---in other words, to help you move from unbelief to belief. The discussions and
exercises in this 8-week interactive handbook provide a step-by-step immersion of your mind, heart, soul, and life in the gospel. Each week follows a simple format: three sets of personal Readings and Reflections and a weekly guide for Group Discussion and Exercises that will lead to becoming a
more gospel-fluent people---people who are learning to see and then speak the truths of Jesus into the everyday stuff of life.

My review:

  I reviewed two other books by these authors: Saturate (just Jeff), and Saturate: The Field Guide (both authors). I found both books excellent reads, with a lot of great information and advice in them. When I got the chance to review this book, it was a no-brainer.

 Books like this are different to review than most. They are not mean to be read, but are meant to be read, studied, and followed. This is a Bible study type book. It is split up into 8 week segments. Each week starts with a reading. That is followed by a section to write down thoughts on the Scripture verses referenced in that reading. That is followed by reflection, which is a couple pages of questions to answer and reflect on.

 There are 3 readings and reflections for each week. After the 3rd, there is a group discussion with questions and an exercise to do.'

 The whole idea of the book is designed to make the participant become fluent in the Gospel, and the authors do a great job of doing that. Though the questions and discussion has a likelihood of causing deep thought and reflection, the book is interesting and easy to read.

 Gospel Fluency is extremely well done and laid out in an easy to use way ideal for a group study. I would definitely recommend it.

About the authors:

Jeff Vanderstelt


As the visionary leader of the Soma Family of Churches and Saturate and the lead teaching
pastor at Doxa Church in Bellevue, WA, Jeff Vanderstelt gets to spend his days doing what he loves---training disciples of Jesus to make more disciples of Jesus and equipping the Church in the gospel and missional living. Jeff is the author of Gospel Fluency, Saturate, and the Saturate Field Guide. He and his wife, Jayne, have three children; Haylee, Caleb, and Maggie.

Ben Connelly

Ben Connelly, his wife, Jess, and their children, Charlotte, Maggie, and Travis, live in Fort Worth, Texas. He started and now co-pastors The City Church, part of the Acts29 network and Soma
Family of Churches. Ben also directs church-planting for Soma churches across North America, has taught university classes, and has published a few books. With degrees from Baylor University and Dallas Theological Seminary,
he writes for various publications, trains folks across the country.



Thanks to Litfuse for the review copy.


  Are you constantly slipping in and out of believing God's word about you and trusting in His work on your behalf? Do you forget who He is, what's He's done, and, in light of that, who you are? Learn how to connect the way gospel truths actually matter to everyday life with Jeff Vanderstelt and Ben Connelly's new book and resource, Gospel Fluency Handbook. The discussions and exercises in this 8-week interactive handbook provide a step-by-step immersion of your mind, heart, soul, and life in the gospel. Each week follows a simple format: three sets of personal readings and reflections, a weekly guide for group discussion and exercises that will lead to becoming a more gospel-fluent people.

Start the new year on the right track with your small group by entering to win a Saturate bundle full of goodies.


One grand prize winner will receive:
  • 10 copies of Gospel Fluency and Glospel Fluency Handbook
  • 8-cup Chemex Coffeemaker
  • Level Pour Over Kettle
  • Big House Beans Coffee Sampler (Big House Beans is to empower individuals through unconditional love and second chances. #morethanjustcoffee)

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on January 23. The winner will be announced January 24 on the Litfuse blog.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Out of the Ashes, The Heart of Alaska #2 by Tracie Peterson and Kimberly Woodhouse

Book description:

Can the Majesty of Alaska Foster Hope and Healing for Those Who Need it Most?

After the death of their father, Collette and Jean-Michel Langelier are no longer tied to post-war France. While his sister dreams of adventure, Jean-Michel is hoping to finally escape reminders of the horrors he faced in the Great Syrian Revolt of 1925. When an unexpected invitation for them to visit Alaska and the Curry Hotel arrives, it seems the perfect opportunity.

Young widow Katherine Demarchis is also traveling to the foot of Mt. Denali with her grandmother--a last trip before she retreats into a quiet and solitary life, finally free of the dangerous husband she was forced to marry. Yet when she encounters there a Frenchman from her past, her plans for the future are thrown into question. 

Both haunted by the violence of their pasts, can Katherine and Jean-Michel rediscover the bond they once had? Or, when Jean-Michel's nightmares return with terrifying consequences, will it be impossible to heal what's been broken for so long?

My review:

  I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in this series, In the Shadow of Denali, and have been eagerly awaiting this second book. Now that I have finished it, I am eagerly awaiting the third book. Seriously.

 Out of the Ashes does not disappoint as a sequel. Though the two main characters are new to the series, the cast of the first book are all back, along with the same setting as the the first book. If you are not an avid fiction reader, you may not understand the sentiment of this, but the reader can get attached to fictional characters, and that has happened in this series. I really liked the hero of the story, Jean-Michel, and felt an empathy. We are all broken in some way, and I have had my share in that area. Though Jean-Michel's was different with his nightmares of the horror of war and losing his best friends in that war, I too have felt the hopelessness and other emotions our fictional hero felt.

 The book has a lot to offer with its drama, ploy,  and the relationships between the characters, often at times making me laugh out loud. Slight spoiler - To me the highlight of the story was when Jean-Michel was presented with true hope - God - by the ever likable character Thomas. I won't give anything else away, but I truly appreciated the emphasis in this book of hope and the answer for broken people being Jesus. There was also a lot in the book in that area for the heroine of the story, but the part with Jean-Michel was more dramatic, and probably resonated with me more since I am a guy. I found my eyes watering, and it gave me a boost of hope and faith.

 Peterson and Woodhouse make a tremendous writing duo. I had the privilege of meeting them on their book tour for In The Shadow of Denali, and they are both awesome ladies. This book and "Denali" are the result of two great minds and writers combining their God-given talents, and the results are top notch. Although they are writing these books to be able to stand alone, I personally would recommend reading them in order. If they keep up the trend they are on, book three will be even better than these two they have written so far. I definitely recommend both books.

About the authors:


Kimberley Woodhouse (www.kimberleywoodhouse.com) is an award-winning, bestselling author of more than fifteen fiction and nonfiction books. A popular speaker and teacher, she's shared her theme of "Joy Through Trials" with more than half a million people across the country at more than 2,000 events. Kim and her incredible husband of twenty-five-plus years have two adult children. She's passionate about music and Bible study and loves the gift of story. You can connect with Kimberley on her website and at www.facebook.com/KimberleyWoodhouseAuthor.


Tracie Peterson is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 novels. Tracie also teaches writing workshops at a variety of conferences on subjects such as inspirational romance and historical research. She and her family live in Montana. Learn more at www.traciepeterson.com.


Out of The Ashed and In The Shadow of Denali are available from Bethany House Publishers.

Thanks to the authors for the review copy.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The House On Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright

Book description:

Kaine Prescott is no stranger to death. When her husband died two years ago, her pleas for further investigation into his suspicious demise fell on deaf ears. In desperate need of a fresh start, Kaine purchases an old house sight unseen in her grandfather's Wisconsin hometown. But one look at the eerie, abandoned house immediately leaves her questioning her rash decision. And when the house's dark history comes back with a vengeance, Kaine is forced to face the terrifying realization she has nowhere left to hide.

A century earlier, the house on Foster Hill holds nothing but painful memories for Ivy Thorpe. When an unidentified woman is found dead on the property, Ivy is compelled to discover her identity. Ivy's search leads her into dangerous waters, resurrecting painful memories and forcing a reunion with the man who broke her heart. Can Ivy unravel the mystery and find a renewed hope before any other lives--including her own--are lost?

My review:

 Jamie Jo Wright is a new author, and not just to me. This is her debut novel, and what a debut it is. I have had had a few people tell me how good the book was, and they were correct.

   This book is about two different women in two different time periods: Ivy in 1906, and Kaine in 2018. The book goes back and forth between the two, interweaving the stories of these two different women in a very easy to follow manner, helped by the author starting the chapter changing to the other woman with her name.

  Debut novels are interesting things. I find myself wondering will I like it, what will I think of this author, and will I want to read more of their books they write in the future? The answer is yes to those. I finished a book this afternoon that I started last night, and was trying to decide which book to start next. As I went through my stack, I ran across this one and remembered the recommendations from friends. I really had no intentions of reading the whole book this evening, but I did. I got caught up in the stories of Kaine and Ivy, and the suspense in both stories kept me reading until the very end.

 I really liked the going back and forth between two time periods, and the merging of the two stories. There were a few things I thought I had figured out, and was wrong. Mrs Wright has done herself and her publisher proud, and this is a book that can stand up with the rest of the great Christians suspense novels out there.

 The message throughout the book in both stories was one of hope - hope in God that He will protect and work things out for the best. A great message, and a great book. I look forward to reading more of this author in the future.

And I loved the author's book dedication to her husband: To Nathan, my Cap'n Hook.The pirate I despised, then tolerated, then finally loved. I don't need my heart back. "You can keep it. Pirates treasure those types of things."

Very cool, Mrs Wright.

About the author:


Jaime Jo Wright is the Publishers Weekly and ECPA bestselling author of two novellas, and a human resources director by trade. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and two children, and The House on Foster Hill is her debut novel. Find her online at www.jaimewrightbooks.com.


The House On Foster Hill is available from Bethany House Publishing, part of the Baker Publishing Group.

Thanks to Bethany House for the review copy.

#GOSPEL: Life, Hope, and Truth for Generation Now, by Daniel Rice

Book description:

Five to ten seconds.
After that, the filter kicks in.

In our day and age, five to ten seconds is usually all the time we’re given to persuade someone that what we have to say is worthy of his or her time. You and I live in a world suffering from a relentless bombardment of information. Television, social media, advertising, acquaintances, friends, and family all vie for time and an attentive ear. If we don’t adapt and learn to filter out what we believe does not apply to us, we quickly become overwhelmed. In this new world of burst communication, our presentation of this Gospel needs to be adapted as well, and while it’s critically important that the content remain unchanged, the style and vehicle in which it is delivered must fit the culture it reaches. Through current cultural references and true stories, Daniel Rice, founder of #Gospel, will help you come to see the gospel for what it really is and how it can radically alter your everyday life. Rice invites you into the conversation as he breaks down Paul’s explanation of the gospel in Romans in a way that is accessible and engaging.  Hash-tagging (#) a term invites others to join an open conversation and adds the author’s thoughts to our modern-day global exchange of ideas. This is the heart of #Gospel.

My review:

  I don't read enough non-fiction, so I decided to review this one. It sounded interesting, and different..... and it was both of those.

 We live in different times. Everything is fast paced, and though God and the Gospel never changes, our methods of presenting it may need to adapt to the changing times. This book is not an attempt to water down or change the Gospel in any way, but it is a book to help break down our ways of presenting it in a more engaging way to catch the interest and attention of this fast paced drive through world we live in.

 The author is new to me, but I liked both his writing style and what he has to say in the book. He has a lot of good ideas, and even opened my eyes to some new things. I recommend.

About the author:


Daniel Rice is the founder of #Gospel, an organization created to bring the gospel to the current generation in a way that syncs with their culture and uniqueness. Before #Gospel, Daniel spent 10 years on staff with Calvary Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, working with small groups, young adults, and students. He and his wife Melissa have 5 children.


#Gospel is available from Shiloh Run Press, an imprint of Barbour Books Publishing.

Thanks to Barbour for the review copy.

Unwrapping the Names of Jesus by Asheritah Ciuciu

Book description:

**RECAPTURE THE WONDER OF CHRISTMAS MORNING**

Do you wish you could experience the awe you once felt as a child on Christmas morning? Now you can. Rediscover the beauty of the greatest gift of all by unwrapping His Names one at a time.
Unwrapping the Names of Jesus is an Advent devotional for women who want more from the season than holiday parties, hors d'oeuvres, and a new leather purse. You want a deeper walk with Jesus. You want to know Him and touch Him. You want to find rest in Him and talk with Him.
In this devotional, Asheritah Ciuciu provides brief but insightful devotionals and family activities that will help you

* Grow in your understanding and love for Jesus

* Create fun memories with your family

* Worship Jesus as you never did before

By unwrapping the many facets of Jesus' character, you will experience the Advent season in a fresh way and wake up on Christmas morning excited to herald His coming.

My review:

 Yes, Christmas is over, but I requested and received this book too close to Christmas, and didn't have time to get it read and reviewed.... so it is happening after Christmas.

 This book is an Advent Devotional,  split up into 4 sections, one section per week of Advent. Each section starts out with something about the Advent, then has 5 days of different names of God, followed by a challenge, a prayer, and verses for further study. The next section has  an activity or activities to do.

 I enjoyed the devotional. Yes, I got it too late to read during Advent, but it was still an enjoyable book to read and think about Christmas and Advent. The author did a great job of pulling this small book together and putting information about Advent and the names of God in it. I highly recommend this to use for Advent next Christmas.

About the author:


Asheritah Ciuciu is a writer and speaker who helps women find joy in Jesus in the midst of an overwhelming life. She and her husband, Flaviu, grew up in Romania but now raise their spunky children in northeast Ohio. Connect with her at www.OneThingAlone.com.


Unwrapping the Names of Jesus is available from Moody Publishers.

Thanks to Moody for the review copy.

The Empowered, A Trevor Black Novel #2 by Craig Parshall

Book description:

Just when a mysterious death in Washington, DC, appears to have voodoo connections rooted in New Orleans, Trevor Black also receives an invitation to speak at the national ABA convention in the city.

He knows he'll be in enemy territory, both as a disbarred attorney and as a follower of Jesus, but he determines to travel there and confront the supernatural element. Right after a grisly murder in his hotel room puts him on the suspect list, his daughter disappears, leaving a note that suggests a connection to the local cult religion. Now Trevor must not only crack the case but try to protect Heather from forces of darkness clutching at her soul as well. And just as he discovers that his ability to sniff out the supernatural has its limitations, Trevor learns that this web of evil extends far beyond isolated murders, enslaving scores of innocent children, with its head perhaps linked to the highest seats of power.


My review:

   This series is a bit reminiscent of Frank Peretti's earlier books, but with more of a suspense angle. If you're wanting a gentle soothing read, this book nor the one it follows is for you.

 This was not what you'd call an easy book to read. Though it is not graphic, it deals with voodoo, the occult, human sacrifice, human trafficking, and sexual abuse. It is a riveting story with non-stop action, yet shows how God can protect us from anything and that He can step in and work good out of bad.

 In this book, the main character has his 22 year old daughter tagging along, whose existence he has only recently found out about. I enjoyed the dynamic between the two as they got to know each other, and Heather learned more about her father's Christian ways and beliefs, and his ability to see the evil around them.

 This was the kind of book you didn't know what was going to happen next, nor who the good guys and bad guys were. There were a lot of surprises along the way, and the book had more than its share of suspense and tense situations for the main characters.

 There is a world around us that we don't see, a battle between good and evil. Though this was a fictional novel written by a human guy, he does a great job of showing what that might look like if we could see that other world.

 I felt the book had a slow start, but the rest of it more than made up for that. I enjoyed the book, in spite of the topics it addressed, and was happy to see good win in spite of all of the hindrances and bad guys. Hopefully Parshall will write more in this series.

 A side note: Trevor Black resides in my favorite vacation spot, the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Though we don't stay where he resides, Okracoke Island, we have visited that island and its lighthouse many times.

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

About the author:

Craig Parshall is a bestselling fiction author with twelve suspense novels to his credit. His tales of human drama and spiritual encounter have garnered rave reviews from critics and readers alike. Craig is also a Washington insider serving as special counsel to the American Center for Law and Justice on matters before the US Supreme Court, on Capitol Hill, and before state supreme courts. As a constitutional lawyer, Craig has testified frequently before committees of Congress and the FCC, and has been interviewed on a wide range of cultural issues by most of the major media networks and newspapers nationwide.

Check out his website at CraigParshallauthor.com


The Empowered is available from Tyndale Publishing.

Thanks to Tyndale for the review copy.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

The View From Rainshadow Bay, #1 in the Lavender Tides Series by Colleen Coble

Book description:

After her husband, Jack, dies in a climbing incident, Shauna has only her five-year-old son and her helicopter charter business to live for. Every day is a struggle to make ends meet and she lives in constant fear of losing even more than she already has.

When her business partner is murdered, his final words convince Shauna that she’s in danger too. But where can she turn? Zach Bannister was her husband’s best friend and is the person she blames for his death. She’s barely spoken to him since. But right now he seems her only hope for protecting her son.

Zach is only too happy to assuage his guilt over Jack’s death by helping Shauna any way he can. But there are secrets involved dating back to Shauna’s childhood that more than one person would prefer to stay hidden.

In The View from Rainshadow Bay, suspense, danger, and a longing to love again ignite amid the gorgeous lavender fields of Washington State.

My review:

  I have stated it before, but I was late coming to be a Colleen Coble reader. Since I have come to enjoy her books, she has become an author I truly love to read. The quality of her writing is above the normal, and her books are very easy to get caught up in.

 This book is the first in a new series, and what a great start to the series. Coble always comes up with great likable characters, and she outdid herself in this one. There is Shauna, the lovely widow harboring unforgiveness to her husband's best friend for causing her husband's death. There is Zach, carrying a load of guilt for helping to cause his best friend's death, and Alex.....the 5 year old fatherless boy caught between the mother he loves and the best friend of his father who he adores and misses.

 I may be single for life, but even I can appreciate a good romance...... and yes, it is obvious from the start of the book that a romance will happen between these two wounded souls, but I still enjoyed watching it happen amid all of the suspense, mystery, and drama. I tend to be a sucker for stories involving little kids, and Alex was an easy character to like.

 The bad guy remained a mystery until close the end of the book, along with what the bad guy was after. The plot was very well done, and I enjoyed being along for the ride as the sheriff and the two main characters tried to figure out what was going on, and who wanted what..... and why and how they were involved.

 Everything came to a very tense climax and standoff, but the book had a great ending with the suspense angle and the romantic angle. Coble has proven she has still got it, and that her best writing days are not behind her. This was definitely a 5-star read, and one I enjoyed very much, having read the book in one day.

About the author:


USAToday bestselling author Colleen Coble lives with her husband, Dave, in Indiana. She is the author of dozens of novels including the Rock Harbor Series, the Aloha Reef Series, the Mercy Falls Series, the Hope Beach Series, the Lonestar Series and two Women of Faith fiction selections, Alaska Twilight and Midnight Sea. She has more than 2 million books in print.

Check out her website at ColleenCoble.com


The View from Rainshadow Bay is available from Thomas Nelson Publishing.

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for the review copy.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Oath of Honor, Blue Justice #1 by Lynette Eason

Book description:

Police officer Isabelle St. John loves her crazy, loud, law-enforcement family. With three brothers and two sisters, she's never without someone to hang out with--or fight with. And she knows they'll be there for her when things get tough. Like when her partner is murdered and she barely escapes with her own life.

Determined to discover exactly what happened, Izzy's investigation sends her headfirst into a criminal organization, possibly with cops on the payroll--including someone from her own family. With her dead partner's handsome homicide detective brother Ryan shadowing her every move, Izzy's head is spinning. How can she secure justice for her partner when doing so could mean sending someone she loves to prison? And how will she guard her heart when the man she's had a secret crush on for years won't leave her side?


My review:

   Lynette Eason has been a favorite author of mine since the first book I read by her. She keeps putting out quality Christian suspense that has yet to disappoint. I loved her last series and was sorry to see it end, but have been looking forward to this new book in a new series since I first heard about it.

 Oath of Honor has got to be her best book yet. Seriously. She pulled out all  the stops on this one, and hit a home run.....though those two metaphors probably don't go together.

 The book has her trademark suspense, drama, and action....which is pretty much nonstop in this book..... but I really like her characters. She created the St John Family, six siblings - 3 gals and 3 guys, most of them in law enforcement, along with the mother being the chief of police. I really like t this fictional family, along with Ryan Marshall, homicide detective and the male hero of the story.

 A side note: I know the Christian market tends to be a woman's market, but I do wish these authors would have a central male character instead of always female..... but I still love Eason's books and others like them.

 Faith played a big part in the story, and I like to see an author weave a Christian theme throughout the story. Loss was experienced, as the two main characters lost their best friend/partner and brother. (Not a spoiler since the book description tells that).

 There were some surprises in the book, and it wasn't easy to figure out what was happening and who the bad guys were.

  I have one complaint about the book: it ended too fast and left me wanting more. I can't wait to read the second book coming out this summer, and hope with 6 siblings there are more than the usual 3 books in this series.

This will definitely be among the best books I read of 2018.

About the author:


Lynette Eason is the bestselling author of the Women of Justice series, the Deadly Reunions series, and the Hidden Identity series, as well as Always Watching, Without Warning, Moving Target, and Chasing Secrets in the Elite Guardians series. She is the winner of two ACFW Carol Awards, the Selah Award, and the Inspirational Readers' Choice Award. She has a master's degree in education from Converse College and lives in South Carolina. Learn more at www.lynetteeason.com.


Oath of Honor is available from Revell, part of the Baker Publishing Group.

Thanks to Revell for the review copy.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Deeds of Darkness , The Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon #10, by Mel Starr

Book description:

To bring justice, Master Hugh must foil the corrupt power of great men

Many medieval scholars discontinued their university studies before completing their degree. Some lacked funds; others became bored with a scholar's life. Occasionally these young men formed lawless bands, robbing and raping and creating chaos. They were called goliards.

In Deeds of Darkness Master Hugh learns that the Bampton coroner, an old friend, has been slain while traveling to Oxford. As he seeks the killer (or killers) he discovers a band of goliards in the area between Oxford and Bampton. But how to apprehend these youths? They have protectors far above Hugh's station. He must deal with the claims of justice on the one hand and the power of great men to protect their henchmen on the other.

My review:

   This may be the most unusual series of books I have read and reviewed. The books are set in the 14th century, and center around Hugh de Singleton, a surgeon and bailiff.

 As with the other books, I found the 14th century doctoring and crime solving fascinating. And though I am not a big fan of the first person point of view writing style, I still enjoy the books and the main character.

 This book was a bit different since Hugh was searching for a group of bad guys instead of just one man. As he always does, Starr spun a great novel of suspense that kept me guessing as to who the bad guys were, and how they were going to be caught.

 Starr played a bit off the religious beliefs of the day, and his main character's shying away from the Catholic Church's teaching of the day on purgatory. I have studied church history, but it was still interesting to think about what it was like through a fictional character not agreeing with the church of the day.

 As with the previous book, this one is shorter and smaller than the majority of the series so far, but the author has crammed a lot into the shorter amount of pages. I enjoyed this book as much as I did the previous 10 books, and look forward to reading the 11th book.

About the author:


Mel Starr was born and grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. After graduating with a MA in history from Western Michigan University in 1970, he taught history in Michigan public schools for thirty-nine years, thirty-five of those in Portage, MI, where he retired in 2003 as chairman of the social studies department of Portage Northern High School. Mel and his wife, Susan, have two daughters and seven grandchildren.



Deeds of Darkness is available from Lion Publishing, an imprint of Kregel Publications.

Thanks to Kregel for the review copy.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The NKJV Unapologetic Study Bible

Bible  Description

The NKJV Unapologetic Study Bible cuts through today’s most complicated and confusing issues and offers the clear, timely, relevant answers you are looking for. With timely articles, thoughtful book introductions, insightful quotations, and profiles on some of history’s most unapologetic defenders of the faith, this is a Bible that won’t leave you guessing. The NKJV Unapologetic Study Bible will equip, encourage and embolden you to be a catalyst for spiritual renewal in your home, workplace, and community. Solid rock answers for a shifting sands world.

Features Include:

Book Introductions: Provide key passages and background information for each book
Articles: Over 220 articles placed near relevant Scripture passages bring keen biblical insight to the current issues of the day
Quotations: Over 60 quotations from historical figures help you understand, first, that the issues of the day are not new; and second, that wise people throughout history have been challenged to live by biblical standards, just as we are today.

Unapologetic Profiles: Over 40 profiles of historical figures inspire you with biblical faith lived out in the face of seemingly impossible circumstances
Indexes: Categorize each of the above features to assist you in a topical study of the issues that matter to you
8.9-point print size

My review:

 I have an Aplogetics Study Bible, so I was intrigued by the idea of an Un-Aplogetic Study Bible. I have always liked the New King James Version, so that was another reason to review the Bible.

 To be honest, there are a lot of different study Bibles out there, so one does not really need this one... yet it has some cool features that are unique to it. Those features are listed in the Bible description, so I won't belabor those. I will say I found the profiles and quotations in the Bible very interesting and encouraging. There are no notes at the bottom of the pages, so I am not sure I'd label it a study Bible.

 It used the New King James Version, which is close to the popular King James, minus the thees, thous, and other outdated words.

Although this may not be a "need to buy" Bible, it does have some neat features. If you are in the market for a NKJV Bible, this may be one you should check out.


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

Thursday, January 4, 2018

My top favorite books of 2017

I read a total of 122 books this year, coming in 3 books short of my goal of 125. This is my list in no particular order (well most are in the order I read them)  of my top favorites. There are some in a couple of series that I grouped together. And I read a lot of great books besides these:

1) A Life Intercepted by Charles Martin














2) Finding Riley by Dan Walsh














3) In The Shadow of Denali by Kimberly Woodhouse & Tracie Peterson














4) Sanctuary Forever by Lisa Phllips














5) Justice Delayed and Justice Buried by Patricia Bradley



























6) Murder Is No Accident by Ann Gabhart














7) Without Warning by Joel Rosenberg














8) Weaver's Needle by Robin Carroll














9) Water From My Heart by Charles Martin














10) Artifacts of Conspiracy by Dony Jay














11) Ryan's Father by June Foster














12) Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble














13) Every Deadly Kiss by Steven James














14) Chasing Secrets by Lynette Eason














15) The Legacy by Michael Phllips














16) Crown of Souls by Ronie Kendig














17) Imperfect Justice by Cara Putman














18) Priority Unit, Fort Point, and Found Art by Susan Page Davis









































19) Still Life & Blind Spot by Dani Pettrey