Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Breaking the Power of Negative Words by Mary Busha

Book description: 

Words are powerful--use wisely

The spoken word has immense potential for either building up or tearing down. Too often, it's the latter. Many of us are carrying around hurtful words, sometimes without even knowing it. These negative words can have great influence over our lives and the lives of those around us. But thankfully, they are not the last word.

Mary C. Busha wants to guide you toward victory over the harmful, demeaning, or insulting words of your past. She shows you how to

· understand the emotions and circumstances behind the words
· choose to want to forgive your offenders
· embrace the truth about who you are created to be
· recognize the effect of both negative and positive self-talk
· pray effectively to break the power of negative words
· and walk in the freedom God provides in His Word.

My review:

   There are people and churches who take the power of your words too far. That isn't to say the idea is completely wrong. Hurtful things people say can stick with you a long time, and can affect your whole life if you let it. The author did a great job of showing how those kind of words can affect a person, and as the title suggests, she also shows how positive words can do good and heal.

 The book is split into three sections:
Words others speak to us
Words we speak to ourselves
Words we speak to others

  I am sure I won't be the only person to find the second section most helpful. I tend to speak pretty harshly to myself and put myself down with a lot of negative thoughts and words. It is easy to realize how we can be affected by others' words to us, and even our words to others.....but we don't often consider how our words to ourselves can affect us.

 I found the book well written, helpful, and interesting. It isn't a bunch of mumbo jumbo, but has a lot of good information and advice in it.

About the author:

Mary C. Busha is a writer's coach, an editor, and a writer whose work has appeared in periodicals such as Writer's Digest and Focus on the Family. She has worked for decades to help writers all around the country bring their work to bookshelves all over the world. Busha currently lives in Florida.

Breaking the Power of Negative Words is available from Revell, part of the Baker Publishing company.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Defender, Shadows of Sunlight City #4

Book description:

The end has come.Martial law has been declared in Sunlight City. Granter Andrew McKellan has overthrown his fellow leaders and now rules alone. The formerly freewheeling city has been locked down, its promises of unlimited freedom crushed under McKellan’s iron fist, and rebellion will not be tolerated.But McKellan is not satisfied. Not when he has been betrayed by those he once trusted and wounded more deeply than any man can bear. McKellan puts his endgame into motion and hides himself within the walls of the Defender, a towering weapons platform with terrifying firepower. No one will penetrate his armor. Those who try will be met with devastating force. And McKellan has one last card to play to guarantee his survival… or the ultimate destruction of all who oppose him.And five and a half million people in Sunlight City may die.Sunlight City’s only hope lies in Mona Johansen, Tom Collins and several unlikely alliances of wounded, desperate people, hunted by Granter McKellan and thrown together by two common goals: the fight for survival and the liberation of Sunlight City. But any hope of defeating the mad Granter lies in breaking through walls built strong enough to withstand any punishment.Both his walls and their own.Defender, the concluding chapter in a story that began in Victor and continued through Orion and Brimstone, is a story of emotional walls, the wounds people carry and hope for healing. Defender is a thrilling tale of conflict and loss, redemption and sacrifice, and most of all, the power of God’s love. 

Book review:

  The previous book, Brimstone, ended with quite the cliffhanger. Thankfully, this book was already out and I didn't have to wait long to find out what happened.

  Defender is an awesome action packed book that shows what can happen when an evil power hungry individual has too much power in his hands. In a world of nanobots, government seeing everything you do, and people living godless lives, those doing right are a minority. As with most books like this, you assume the good guys will win, but it was still a suspenseful and great read getting to that point.

 Slight spoiler: it looked like something bad happened at the end of the last book, which I figured wasn't going to happen......and I was right, but then the author made me think it did happen towards the end of this book... and again staved off my disappointment by not letting it happen. 

 I enjoyed this book, and really liked the characters, especially David.

About the author:

Tony Ross is an author who's not afraid of the dark.

In his first book, The Ugly Duckling's Revenge, he opens the door to his own past struggles with alcoholism and depression. He shares what God did to pull him out and offers a message of hope to readers: "If God can do it for me, He can do it for you!"

His next few are what Tony defines as "thrillers for thinkers," stories filled with action, adrenaline and deep spiritual meaning, stories that look into the deepest darkness of man to shine a brighter light. Victor won a silver medal for Christian Fiction in the Readers Favorite 2013 International Award Contest.

Melody's Memory is a departure from thrillers; it's a novella focusing less on suspense and action and more on the condition of the heart. Tony invites readers to open the long-locked doors of their own hearts, shine the light on what may be hidden there, and allow healing to come.

Tony is now revisiting the world he created in Victor and Orion in The Black Cat Chronicles, a series of short novellas set before Victor. 

When he's not writing, Tony enjoys country living, backyard campfires, recreational reading and outdoor sports. He has been a member of the ministry team at Calvary Apostolic Church in Clintonville, WI since 2004. Tony is happily married and has five children.

Storm Rising, The Book of Wars #1 by Ronie Kendig

Book description:

Does an Ancient Book of Prophecy Hold the Answers to Saving the World . . . Or Predict Its Destruction? 

Mentioned in the pages of the Old Testament but lost to history, the Book of the Wars has resurfaced, and its pages hold secrets--and dangers--never before seen on earth. 

Tasked with capturing the ancient text, former Navy SEAL Leif Metcalfe is once more given command of his own team. But their best efforts are ruined when a notorious Bulgarian operative known as Viorica snatches the volume right out from under them.

Iskra "Viorica" Todorova is determined to use the book to secure the thing that matters most--freedom. But a series of strange storms erupts around the globe, and the coming dangers foretold in the text threaten crops, lives, and entire nations. Though both are haunted by secrets of the past and neither trusts the other, Leif and Iskra must form an uneasy alliance to thwart impending disaster. However, the truth hidden in centuries-old words could unleash a storm of their own destruction.

My review

  For years, my favorite genre' to read has been Christian suspense. In more recent years, there have been a few authors come on the Christian market who brought fiction that deals with military and special ops. In my opinion, Ronie Kendig is the best of those authors to write this kind of fiction, and has certainly put more of it out than the handful of others who have written it.

 This novel is the first in a new series of hers, and I was eager to read it. It, and the rest of the series, centers on a minor character from her last series: Leif Metcalfe, nicknamed "Runt". On a side note, he was actually introduced as an even more minor character in Wolfsbane, the 3rd book in her first series, Discarded Heroes.

  Storm Rising is another masterpiece of Christian suspense/special ops type of book. I have no idea where this author gets her ideas for the plots, but they are never your run of the mill plots. She also excels at coming up with colorful, unusual,  and likable characters. I didn't know if she'd be able to top Tox from her last series, but Leif may topple him as a fan favorite. Iskra/Viorica also turned out to be a most interesting character, one I had a hard time deciding if she was good or bad, but liking her in spite of that conflict.

 As with the Tox Files, this series seems like it will be about ancient artifacts, but in this case just one throughout the whole series....yet it already is obviously totally different than the Tox Files Series. Toss in the storm maker phenomena and the mystery surrounding Leif's past and abilities, you have the makings of another awesome series by this author who never disappoints.

 Kendig's series always has a team of men and women with their own talents and abilities, and this series is no different. It was cool to have a few make it onto this team from the previous series.

  Storm Rising is an awesome suspenseful book that spans a few countries, showcases the talents of some great special ops characters, and is a roller coaster of a ride. I loved the book, the plot, and definitely the characters. I am looking forward to the next book in this great series.

I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.

About the author:

Ronie Kendig (www.roniekendig.com) is an award-winning, bestselling author of over twenty novels. She grew up an army brat, and now she and her Army-veteran husband live a short train ride from New York City with their children and a retired military working dog. Ronie's degree in psychology has helped her pen novels of intense, raw characters.

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

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Cross My Heart, Legacy of Faith #2 by Robin Lee Hatcher

Book description:

Two broken paths lead toward God’s redemption in the next installment of Robin Lee Hatcher’s Legacy of Faith series.

Ashley Showalter and Ben Henning have so much in common. Both were raised by single moms. Both want to help where they see a need. And both work with horses in the Boise valley. Ashley runs a horse rescue operation, while Ben has started an equine therapy barn on his great-great grandfather’s farm—and both Ashley and Ben have the feeling that there could be something more between them.

But they share something else that may drive them apart if the truth is ever revealed. Ben is a recovering alcoholic with ten years of sobriety behind him, while Ashley’s brother, Dylan, is an opioid addict, currently residing in court-ordered rehab. Ashley has promised herself she would never walk knowingly into the chaos created by addiction—because in her mind, addicts can never be fully cured. But with God, all things are possible. Will Ashley find it within herself to give love a chance, or will her brother’s mistakes jeopardize her future with Ben?

My review:

   I reviewed the first book in this series last year, and enjoyed it a lot. This author never disappoints, so I jumped at  the chance to review this second book in the Legacy of Faith series. I'll be honest: when I read a book like this that goes back and forth between the past and present, I tend to focus on the present story more than the past one....but I did enjoy the historical one also.

  The historical/past part of the book centers on ancestors of the male protagonist, Ben,  in the present part of the story. The historical part is set during World War 11, and Hatcher did a great job of portraying the family and what life may have been like then.

  The present focuses on the great grandson of the couple from the past. I did find the past part interesting, but Ben and Ashley's story was even more interesting. It is a romance, but between two unlikely people. I liked both characters, but Ben was such a cool guy. Though fictional, it was encouraging to read that recovery from alcoholism is possible, especially with God's help.

  The most fascinating part of the story was the equine therapy part. Hatcher wrote about that in a way that was really interesting, and grabbed my attention at the possibilities. It is not the first time I have heard of it, but this novel dealt with it in more detail.

 As with these kind of books, you know the guy will get the girl, but the story woven around that was a great read, and I appreciated the focus on recovery from something like alcoholism, and the equine therapy.

I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.

About the author:

Robin Lee Hatcher is the author of 80 novels and novellas with over five million copies of her books in print. She is known for her heartwarming and emotionally charged stories of faith, courage, and love. Her numerous awards include the RITA® Award, Christy Award, Carol Award, HOLT Medallion, National Reader’s Choice Award, and the Faith, Hope & Love Reader’s Choice Award, and she is also the recipient of prestigious Lifetime Achievement Awards from both American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America®. When not writing, she enjoys being with her family, spending time in the beautiful Idaho outdoors, Bible art journaling, reading books that make her cry, watching romantic movies, and decorative planning. A mother and grandmother, Robin makes her home on the outskirts of Boise, sharing it with a demanding Papillon dog and a persnickety tuxedo cat.

Cross My Heart is available from Thomas Nelson Publishing.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Living Lies, Harbored Secrets #1 by Natalie Walters

Book description:

In the little town of Walton, Georgia, everybody knows your name--but no one knows your secret. At least that's what Lane Kent is counting on when she returns to her hometown with her five-year-old son. Dangerously depressed after the death of her husband, Lane is looking for hope. What she finds instead is a dead body.

Lane must work with Walton's newest deputy, Charlie Lynch, to uncover the truth behind the murder. But when that truth hits too close to home, she'll have to decide if saving the life of another is worth the cost of revealing her darkest secret.

Debut novelist Natalie Walters pulls you to the edge of your seat on the first page and keeps you there until the last in this riveting story that will have you believing no one is defined by their past.

My review:

  Natalie Waters is a new author to me, and I believe a completely new author, if I am correct. I like trying out new authors, and this is one to keep your eye on if you like Christian suspense. Living Lies is an excellent read, and Walters is off to a great start with this entrance into the Christian fiction world.

  What I liked:
1) Setting: I'm not picky about settings, but I do like small town settings where everyone knows everyone. I found the setting for Living Lies attractive and ideal.

2) Characters: They can make or break a story. The author created some great and very likable ones for this book and series. At the center is Charlie and Lane. Charlie is former military, and the new deputy on the force. We fiction lovers get attached to characters, and I found myself really liking him..very cool dude for a fictional character.

  I found myself identifying some with Lane. I like it when an author tackles tough issues, and depression is the one in this book. Depression is still something many people don't understand, especially Christians. Many think it is a spiritual issue and a trip to the altar will fix it. As someone personally dealing with severe depression, I can attest otherwise. I feel Walters did a great job of portraying the realities of it, and the shame that accompanies it.

 Books with kids/families in are always ones I enjoy, so of course I liked Noah.

 And last, but not least: Deputy Frost, who will star in the next book. A bit geeky, but an expert on computers and eager to prove himself.

3) Suspense. The plot and suspense were great in this book. I had my suspicions fairly early as to the who, but it was fun getting to the reveal point and the "why".

4) Romance. I'm a guy, single for life, but I do enjoy the romantic aspects of this book. I liked how it was done, and kind of wished it had gone faster, but also felt it was more realistic the way it did go.

 What I didn't like: Well, nothing.....to be honest. I found this a great Christian read, and am looking forward to more from this author.

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

About the author:

Natalie Walters is the author of Living Lies and Deadly Deceit. A military wife of 22 years, she currently resides in Hawaii with her soldier husband and their three kids. She writes full-time and has been published in Proverbs 31 magazine and has blogged for Guideposts online. In addition to balancing life as a military spouse, mom, and writer, she loves connecting on social media, sharing her love of books, cooking, and traveling. Natalie comes from a long line of military and law enforcement veterans and is passionate about supporting them through volunteer work, races, and writing stories that affirm no one is defined by their past. Learn more at www.nataliewalterswriter.com.

Living Lies is available from Revell, part of the Baker Publishing Group.

Thanks to Revell for the review copy.

Brimstone by Tony Ross

Book description:

Sunlight City is burning.

A religiously motivated arsonist, identified only as Brimstone, has used a brutal murder to make one emphatic statement: repent or perish. Nearly six million people in this city that champions choice and tolerance must now decide what they will do. But Brimstone will not wait long to strike again. He has declared himself the judgment of God on a sinful city, and he will continue to escalate until his demands are met.

Behind the scenes, the Granters who rule Sunlight City are faced with their own impossible decision. The key they have long searched for has unexpectedly been offered to them, and their greatest fear can now be conquered if they are willing to move swiftly and boldly… but the price may be higher than they are willing to pay.

David and Mona Johansen are brought back to Sunlight City at the request of the Granters. David finds himself working with a team of government agents as he tries to predict Brimstone's next moves and save countless lives. Mona's assignment may be of even greater importance. But time is critically short.

In fact, it may already be too late.

"Brimstone" follows "Victor" and "Orion" in a series of fast-paced thrillers that combine action, adrenaline and spiritual insight. "Brimstone" looks closely at questions of justice and takes the readers on a non-stop race against two mad agendas, building relentlessly to a shocking conclusion that will leave you breathless.

My review:

   This is the third book in this series, and I have read and reviewed the other two. As much as I enjoyed them, this third book is by far the best.

 Set about twenty years in the future, Brimstone shows the depths human beings can go to do away with God, and make sin undeterred. Though the author writes nothing graphic, the book does show that the world could be even more evil and godless than it already is.

 Brimtone also shows that those who believe in the Bible and good, can take drastically wrong actions in fighting evil, as the man named Brimstone does in the book.

  Brimstone is different from the average Christian fiction novel. It deals with cloning, nano tech, and other futuristic things that may or may not be developed. Interwoven throughout it is the Gospel and the fact that God is so much better than what the world is offering.

  Characters from the other books came back in this one, and things were not looking too good for one of them at the suspenseful and cliffhanger ending.

 Brimtone was a great suspenseful read that also remained Christian and Biblical. Looking forward to the next book.

About the author:

Tony Ross is an author who's not afraid of the dark.

In his first book, The Ugly Duckling's Revenge, he opens the door to his own past struggles with alcoholism and depression. He shares what God did to pull him out and offers a message of hope to readers: "If God can do it for me, He can do it for you!"

His next few are what Tony defines as "thrillers for thinkers," stories filled with action, adrenaline and deep spiritual meaning, stories that look into the deepest darkness of man to shine a brighter light. Victor won a silver medal for Christian Fiction in the Readers Favorite 2013 International Award Contest.

Melody's Memory is a departure from thrillers; it's a novella focusing less on suspense and action and more on the condition of the heart. Tony invites readers to open the long-locked doors of their own hearts, shine the light on what may be hidden there, and allow healing to come.

Tony is now revisiting the world he created in Victor and Orion in The Black Cat Chronicles, a series of short novellas set before Victor. 

When he's not writing, Tony enjoys country living, backyard campfires, recreational reading and outdoor sports. He has been a member of the ministry team at Calvary Apostolic Church in Clintonville, WI since 2004. Tony is happily married and has five children.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Guy's Guide to Four Battles Every Young Man Must Face: a manual to overcoming life’s common distractions by Jonathan McKee

Book description:

Honestly?. . . 

"Why wait for something when I can enjoy it now?"

“These images don’t really affect me. . .do they?”

"How could smoking a little weed really be that bad when it's becoming legalized everywhere?”

“I’d like to tell you I don’t care what others think, but honestly, I want to be liked."

Maybe you're thinking, "I've had one. . .maybe even a few of these thoughts, and I don't know how to even begin to deal with them."

The good news? You're not alone. And there is a way to fight these battles head-on, overcoming the past, pressing forward, and becoming the person God designed you to be.

So what's a guy to do? . . .

Join youth culture expert and author of the popular Guy's Guide to God, Girls, and the Phone in Your Pocket, Jonathan McKee, as he gets real about the four common battles every young man will encounter in his life:

1: Sexual Temptation
2. Screens
3: Controlled Substances
4: Self-Esteem

With humor and honesty, McKee offers up practical, spiritual advice filled with real-world application helping you face today’s distractions.

My review:

  This book is written for and geared towards teenage boys, which I am obviously not. However, I do review books occasionally that don't apply to me. What the author covers in this book could still be beneficial to guys out of the age group it is for.

  The book is well put together, and the author presents his facts and case very well. I found it even more interesting when he used real life examples of young men and adult guys.

  When I requested the book, I was puzzled by the one battle - screens. That involves cell phones, computers, video games....pretty much anything that is electronic and has a screen.

  I found the book an interesting read. The author knows what he is talking about, and gives a lot of invaluable advice for young guys in the 4 areas mentioned.

 One section that stuck out to me was in the controlled substances section where he discussed marijuana. There are a lot of people, even Christians, who want it legalized. Those people deny it is a gateway drug, and that there is any danger. However, McKee shows the dangers of it, and that it is indeed a gateway drug.

 This is not the first book of this kind on the market, but I do believe it is one of the better ones. It is something a teenage boy should read, and hopefully learn from.

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

About the author:

Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new IF I HAD A PARENTING DO OVER; 52 WAYS TO CONNECT WITH YOUR SMARTPHONE OBSESSED KID; and the Amazon "Best Seller," THE GUY'S GUIDE TO GOD, GIRLS AND THE PHONE IN YOUR POCKET. With over 20 years youth ministry experience, Jonathan speaks to parents and leaders worldwide. You can follow Jonathan on his blog at JonathanMcKeeWrites.com, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife, Lori, and their three kids live in California.

The book is available from Shiloh Run Press, an imprint of Barbour Publishing.

Thanks to Barbour for the review copy.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

The Golden Bride, Daughters of the Mayflower #8 by Kimberly Woodhouse

Book review:

Can Olivia survive the crime and Gold Rush fever of 1849...and the countless marriage proposals?
A series for fans of all things related to history, romance, adventure, faith, and family trees.

The Daughters of the Mayflower series continues when Olivia Brighton finds herself widowed and working her brother’s restaurant in San Francisco during the height of the rush for gold. Even though she receives at least twenty marriage proposals a day, she will never marry a gold miner. Her brother’s friend Joseph Sawyer has gotten caught up in local politics and the plight of Chinese in forced labor. The more Joseph gets pulled into investigating crime in the city, the less Olivia sees of the compassionate man. And just when she thinks she could love again, a fire threatens to steal all hope.

My review:

  I ran across Kimberly Woodhouse some years ago when I reviewed two suspense novels she wrote for Broadman & Holman with her daughter, Kayla. Suspense is my favorite genre', so I was hooked. However, not all of her books are suspense, though many do have some element of suspense in them. I blame this author for my foray back into romance novels. As a guy - and for other reasons, I have steered clear of romance books, other than romantic suspense for years. However, when you really like an author, you read whatever they write. So here I am reading romance novels. (Smile)

  This is the eighth book in the Daughters of the Mayflower series. Woodhouse has written three books in this series: The Mayflower Bride (#1), The Patriot Bride (#4), and this one. I really enjoyed the previous two, especially Patriot Bride, but I enjoyed Golden Bride even more. Many of Woodhouse's books are historical, and she excels at historical accuracy, and I have learned a lot by reading her books. I am one of those readers who will Google things to see if it really did happen or exist, and she never disappoints.

 The Golden Bride is such an example. I have read about the Gold Rush before, but she focused more on the city of San Francisco and what it was like at that time. This book was more suspenseful than her other two in this series, and had bad guys who were more evil and unlikable than the other two books. I did find the descriptions of life there in that time fascinating, and liked the three main characters: Olivia, Joseph, and Daniel. There was a lot to like and find interesting, including the running of a restaurant in that time and setting.

 The illegal slave trade brought the reminder how evil can be, and how evil is not bound to any time or place. The secondary character Julia was a reminder that God can reach, save, and change any individual, no matter how wicked and sinful they are.

 I try not to give spoilers away, but will say I also liked the minor character Luke, and how that played out.

 The romantic element of the story was well done....not gushy or overdone, and I was rooting for it throughout the book.

 The Golden Bride had a very satisfying and suspenseful ending, and I only wished it had gone on a little longer....a normal feeling when a good book ends.

 This series can be read out of order, and each book stands independently of each other. I have only read the three by Woodhouse, and definitely recommend them....especially The Golden Bride...but I am sure the whole series is good and worth reading.

 The Golden Bride is available from Barbour Publishing. I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the author:

Kimberley Woodhouse is the best-selling author of more than twenty books who loves the JOY of story. A lover of history and research, she often gets sucked into the past and then her husband has to lure her out with chocolate. She's spoken to more than 800,000 people at more than 2,000 venues and has taught the craft of writing around the country. Married to the love of her life for twenty-five plus years, she makes her home in Montana. You can connect with Kimberley at: www.kimberleywoodhouse.com www.facebook.com/KimberleyWoodhouseAuthor

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Character Carved in Stone: The 12 Core Virtues of West Point That Build Leaders and Produce Success by Pat Williams and Jim Denney,

Book description:

Overlooking the Hudson River on the campus of the United States Military Academy at West Point are 12 granite benches, each inscribed with a word representing a key leadership virtue: compassion, courage, dedication, determination, dignity, discipline, integrity, loyalty, perseverance, responsibility, service, and trust. These benches remind cadets of the qualities that lead to victory and success, not just on the battlefield, but in all of life.

With his signature enthusiasm and insight, Pat Williams shares the incredible stories of West Point graduates who exemplified these traits, from the Civil War to the War on Terror. He shows readers of all backgrounds how to develop these 12 essential virtues in their lives, whether they are in the corporate world, the academic world, the military, the church, or in some other sphere.

My review:

 I really don't know much about Westpoint, but this book intrigued me, so I requested it for review. It is more of a deep read than my average reading material, but it was an interesting read. There is a lot of history in it, as the authors go as far back as the Civil War to relate stories of graduates who portrayed the characteristics well.

 There are people in the book I have heard and read a lot about, and others I had no clue who they were. The author did a great job of finding the information and compiling it in a book like this. Since I don't know a lot about Westpoint, I had no idea that they had leadership virtues, or what they were. I enjoyed learning about them, as well those who exemplified those virtues down through the last couple hundred years.

 In addition to learning about these people, I also walked away with a greater appreciation for our military and what they do to keep our country safe. Along with that, I also learned more about these virtues and how important they are for all of us, not just the military.

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

About the authors:
Pat Williams is senior vice president of the NBA's Orlando Magic. He has more than 50 years of professional sports experience; has written more than 100 books, including the popular Coach Wooden, The Difference You Make, and The Sweet Spot for Success; and is one of America's most sought-after motivational speakers. He lives in Florida. Find out more at www.patwilliams.com.

Jim Denney is the author of Walt's Disneyland, Answers to Satisfy the Soul, Writing in Overdrive, and the Timebenders series for young readers. He has written many books with Pat Williams, including Coach Wooden, The Difference You Make, and The Sweet Spot for Success. Learn more at www.writinginoverdrive.com.

Character Carved In Stone is available from Revell, a division of the Baker Book Publishing Group.

Thanks to Revell for the review copy.

A Shift a Day for Your Best Year Yet: 365 Ways to Improve Your Life, Career, and Relationships by Dean Del Sesto

Book description:

Regardless of where you are in life, change is always an opportunity. The most immediate path to lasting positive change will always be found in how we think about things. We either frame the various areas of our lives to regress, remain stagnant, or accelerate forward, and a single shift in our thought patterns can change everything for us.

That's what A Shift a Day for Your Best Year Yet is all about. Small shifts that add up to dynamic new directions. With these 365 original quotes, readers will find themselves well on their way down the path to greater success in their work, relationships, and lives. Short, memorable, and to-the-point, each thought-provoking page is designed to interrupt thinking that doesn't work and replace it with thinking that does.

The perfect spontaneous gift for a friend or impulse buy for oneself. 

My review:

  This is a cool little book that anyone could use and benefit from. From the title, I assume the idea is to read one each day throughout the year. They are short enough though that a person could read several if they wanted.

 There are two per page, and after each way, there is a short paragraph expounding on the idea. The ways they give to improve your life cover a wide variety of topics, but they are well thought out and valuable ideas. The book is an interesting read, whether you do it daily or read several a day. It is definitely worth reading, and very helpful.

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

About the author:

Dean Del Sesto runs an award-winning branding and communications agency called Breviti (breviti.com) and is also a partner in Veracity Colab, a B2B and consumer-based video agency (veracitycolab.com). With over 25 years in marketing, Dean has been directly involved in the brand development of more than 800 companies, developing over $1.6 billion in revenue for his clients. He is a keynote speaker (deandelsesto.com), is the author of Shift Your Thinking and Shift Your Thinking for Success, and lives in Southern California with his wife, Kittrena.

The book is available from Spire, a division of Baker Book Publishing.

The Baggage Handler by David Rawlings

Book Description

In a similar vein to The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews or Dinner with a Perfect Stranger by David Gregory, The Baggage Handler is a contemporary story that explores one question: What baggage are you carrying?

“The Baggage Handler by David Rawlings is an extraordinary novel that lingered in my heart long after I finished it.”—Colleen Coble, USA Today bestselling author of The House at Saltwater Point and the Lavender Tide series

When three people take the wrong suitcase from baggage claim, their lives change forever.

A hothead businessman coming to the city for a showdown meeting to save his job.

A mother of three hoping to survive the days at her sister's house before her niece’s wedding.

And a young artist pursuing his father’s dream so he can keep his own alive.

When David, Gillian, and Michael each take the wrong suitcase from baggage claim, the airline directs them to retrieve their bags at a mysterious facility in a deserted part of the city. There they meet the enigmatic Baggage Handler, who shows them there is more in their baggage than what they have packed, and carrying it with them is slowing them down in ways they can’t imagine. And they must deal with it before they can leave.

In this modern-day parable about the burdens that weigh us down, David Rawlings issues an inspiring invitation to lighten the load.

My review:

 This was a book I wasn't sure I'd like, as it didn't sound like what I normally read. I decided to give it a try, and am glad I did. The book pulled me in, and I found myself completely enjoying it. I guess you could call this book a parable, as real luggage is used to show how we carry baggage around.

 This is a book that most people could probably relate to and enjoy. Most of us are weighed down by something. Topics of forgiveness, envy, and other negative things we need to let go of are dealt with....and if it isn't those things, there are other things that weigh people down that the book could help address.

 Although God and Christianity are not mentioned, I would still call it a Christian book, as there are  things we as Christians need to let go of if we are to live productive Christian lives.

 I found the whole plot quite genius, and especially when the three main characters were forced to confront their baggage.

 The book was a fun read, if a book that makes you say "ouch" and convicts you can be fun. I found myself relating to more than one thing addressed in the book, and am sure many others would have the same experience.

 If one were to take this book to heart, it could definitively help. I definitely recommend.

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

About the author:

David Rawlings is an Australian author, and a sports-mad father of three who loves humor and a clever turn of phrase. Over a 25-year career he has put words on the page to put food on the table, developing from sports journalism and copywriting to corporate communication. Now in fiction, he entices readers to look deeper into life with stories that combine the everyday with a sense of the speculative, addressing the fundamental questions we all face.

Website: www.davidrawlings.com.au; Facebook: David Rawlings – Author; Instagram: davidrawlingsauthor.

The Baggage Handler is available from Thomas Nelson Publishing.

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for the review copy.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Grateful American A Journey from Self to Service by Gary Sinise

Book Description

The moving, entertaining, never-before-told story of how one man found his calling.

"The book is called Grateful American, and I promise you after you read it you will be grateful for what Gary has accomplished and contributed to our country." -- Clint Eastwood

As a kid in suburban Chicago, Gary Sinise was more interested in sports and rock 'n' roll than reading or schoolwork. But when he impulsively auditioned for a school production of West Side Story, he found his purpose--or so it seemed.

Within a few years Gary and a handful of friends created what became one of the most exciting and important new theater companies in America. From its humble beginnings in a suburban Chicago church basement and eventual move into the city, the Steppenwolf Theatre Company launched a series of groundbreaking productions, igniting Gary's career along with those of John Malkovich, Joan Allen, Gary Cole, Laurie Metcalf, Jeff Perry, John Mahoney, and others. Television and film came calling soon after, and Gary starred in Of Mice and Men (which he also directed) and The Stand before taking the role that would change his life in unforeseeable ways: Lieutenant Dan in the Academy Award–winning Forrest Gump.

The military community's embrace of the character of the disabled veteran was matched only by the depth of Gary's realization that America's defenders had not received all the honor, respect, and gratitude their sacrifices deserve. In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, this became Gary's mission. While starring in hits like Apollo 13, Ransom, Truman, George Wallace, CSI:NY, and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, Gary has worked tirelessly on behalf of those who serve this country, entertaining more than a half million troops around the world playing bass guitar with his Lt. Dan Band, raising funds on behalf of veterans, and eventually founding the Gary Sinise Foundation with a mission to serve and honor America's defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need.

Grateful American is the moving, entertaining, profoundly gripping story of how one man found his calling: to see that those who defend this country and its freedoms are never forgotten.

Book review:

  There are not many celebrities who impress me, but Gary Sinise is one who does. I rarely read biographies/memoirs......like almost ever...but this is one that interested me. This man has done so much for our military and their families over the last several years, it is amazing and impressing.

 Even given my usual disinterest in this kind of book, I found it to be both and interesting and moving read. Sinise tells about his growing up years and how he entered the movie industry, mostly because of his dad's working in that industry.

 Since his work with the military came about largely because of his role of Lieutenant Dan in the movie Forest Gum, he talks about that movie and his role in it, and how that led to the "Lieutenant Dan Band", which tours all over the world performing for our troops.

 There are sad and moving parts to the book as he tells of his visits to wounded and hurting vets and their families. The book has several photos of Sinise down through the years which are interesting to view.

  I have admired this man for a long time, but after reading this book, I admire him even more. If more people did what this man does for our military and for even others in our world, the world would be a much better place.

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

About the author:

Gary Sinise is an American actor, director and musician. Among other awards, he has won an Emmy Award, a Golden Globe Award and was nominated for an Academy Award for one of his most memorable roles as Lieutenant Dan Taylor in Forrest Gump. Another notable role was as Detective Mac Taylor in the CBS series CSI: NY (2004–13).

in 2011 Sinise established the Gary Sinise Foundation. The foundation's mission is to serve and honor our nation’s defenders, veterans, first responders, and their families. His "Lt. Dan Band" performs for military bases, charities and fundraisers supporting wounded heroes, Gold Star families, veterans and troops around the world.

His website: GarySiniseFoundation.org

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Other Bodies by Joel Ohman

Book description:

For fans of The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, and Divergent comes a YA dystopian/light romance with a strong female protagonist who is forced to question everything...

In a world where immersive VR suits distort what is real from what is not, and the AI Personhood Act blurs the lines between body and bot, the choices sixteen-year-old Hattie Martins faces are very personal.

Welcome to Hattie Martins' dystopian Philadelphia, where everything is not as it seems...

Just as her life is looking up--a new job, new friends, a new date--Hattie discovers not all progress in her beloved, futuristic Philadelphia is for the best. Societal regrets can become personal regrets in an instant. Choices don't always come with second chances, and when they do the cost can be unimaginable. How far will she go to undo her greatest regret? And worse yet, what will she become if it's too late? 

In a world where bots are equal to bodies, what does it mean to be alive? 

What is real? 

Which bodies matter? 

What about the other bodies?... 

In this blistering new young adult novel from the #1 bestselling author of the Meritropolis series, readers will question everything they know about life and reality in a unique dystopian adventure that is equal parts moral dilemma and romance.

My review:

  I am very pro-life, so this book intrigued me. I like dystopian books, and this falls into that category.

 The author did a great job on the setting/time period. He came up with a great main character and plot, and I feel he dealt with the issue of abortion very well. Slight spoiler: the main character goes to work at an abortion facility, and also has to deal with the consequences of her former actions.

 I had a little difficulty getting into the book, but I ended up enjoying the read. I found the ending rather sad, and found myself wishing that the author had ended it differently, but I still liked the book.

 It was also interesting to read the author's ideas of what life might be like in such a society with robots doing so much and human life not being valued much higher than a robot.

 Through a story, the author shows the awful realities of abortion and the results of the act. Worth reading.

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.

About the author:

Joel Ohman lives in Tampa, FL with his wife Angela and their three kids. His writing companion is Caesar, a slightly overweight Bull Mastiff who loves to eat the tops off of strawberries.

Joel is the author of the #1 bestselling Meritropolis series—“The Hunger Games meets The Village with a young Jack Reacher as a protagonist”.

Joel is a Christian, CEO, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He is the founder of a number of web startups and currently serves as the CEO and lead operator of 360 Quote, a private equity backed platform company in the online lead generation space, the co-founder and CEO of a B2B SaaS software company, Exercise.com, and has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes.

He has an undergraduate degree in Business from Clearwater Christian College, an MBA from the University of South Florida and a Master’s of Divinity from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

He loves the city of Tampa and is heavily involved in the community: he serves on the board of the Tampa Bay Fellowship of Christian Athletes, as a trustee of The Idlewild Foundation, and is a deacon, missions trip leader, and member of the finance committee at Idlewild Baptist Church.

Some of his companies include:

Exercise.com – We are the world’s best platform for logging workouts and delivering workout plans on the web, iOS, and Android.

CarInsuranceComparison.com – We make comparing car insurance quotes from multiple companies easy!

Joel has written for and been mentioned in many different online and print publications including AllBusiness.com, AOL.com, Banks.com, BusinessInsider.com, ChicagoTribune.com, Forbes, Inc.com, the LA Times, Newsweek.com, Reader’s Digest, WashingtonPost.com, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, WiseBread.com, Yahoo Finance, and many more as an expert source so don’t hesitate to contact him if you need a quick response for an article or project you are working on.

Author's notes about the book here.

Changing minds with a story here.

Link to buy the book here.

Thanks to FlyBy Promotions for the review copy.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

White City, True Colors #1 by Grace Hitchcock

Book description:

Mysterious Disappearances Taint the Chicago World’s Fair
Step into True Colors -- a new series of Historical Stories of Romance and American Crime

While attending the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, Winnifred Wylde believes she witnessed a woman being kidnapped. She tries to convince her father, an inspector with the Chicago police, to look into reports of mysterious disappearances around the White City. Inspector Wylde tries to dismiss her claims as exaggeration of an overactive imagination, but he eventually concedes to letting her go undercover as secretary to the man in question—if she takes her pistol for protection and Jude Thorpe, a policeman, for bodyguard.

Will she be able to expose H. H. Holmes’s illicit activity, or will Winnifred become his next victim?

My review:

 I'll admit this book didn't grab me right away when I got an email about reviewing it, but the fact that it is based on a true crime intrigued me, so I requested it, and am glad I did. It was a very enjoyable read.

 The book is set in 1893 during the Chicago World Fair. The daughter of the Chief Inspector goes undercover with a police detective to protect her. The book is well, written, and I found it very suspenseful. The author came up with some great characters, and spun a great historical fictional account around them.

 There is a lot of romance in the book, as the main character has male suitors vying for her hand..... but she has her heart set on the detective protecting her, something her father has forbidden. Slight spoiler: I knew - and any reader most likely will - that she ends up with the detective, and I even figured out how that could happen. I was pretty much correct on that. :)

 This author is new to me, but I really did enjoy the book, and even though I more or less guessed on the one part, I was still surprised at exactly how it happened and was reading as fast as I could to see what would happen.

  White City is different from the usual suspense novels I read, but I definitely recommend it, and look forward to more in the series.

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

About the author:

Grace Hitchcock is the author of The White City and The Gray Chamber from Barbour Publishing. She has written multiple novellas in The Second Chance Brides, The Southern Belle Brides, and the Thimbles and Threads collections with Barbour Publishing. She holds a Masters in Creative Writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in History. Grace lives in southern Louisiana with her husband, Dakota, and son. Visit Grace online at GraceHitchcock.com.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Covered EP by Mack Brock release

Worship leader Mack Brock announces his latest Covered, set to release Mar. 22. Documenting the five-time Dove award nominee’s own hopes, dreams, fears and anxieties in the midst of uncharted territory, Covered finds Brock unveiling his most vulnerable music to date.

“These songs have been me wrestling with God—fighting to accept that it’s ok to let go and hand things over to Him. To trust Him,” shared Mack. “Letting go doesn’t always take away the stress or anxiety right away but it does give us the grace and peace we need to walk through it. To find rest in his presence, his sovereignty, his love and trust that we are ‘covered’ by Him.”

The follow up to his critically acclaimed solo-project, Greater Things, which garnered over 9 million streams globally since the debut’s release last fall, Covered is the continuation of the multifaceted creator’s sojourn, an expression of Brock’s total reliance and dependence on God.

 If you pre-order the EP, you get the single "I Am Loved" free.

View the official lyric video for I Am Loved here.

Song list for the EP below

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 the product/product information. Opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did/will receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Thanks to FlyBy promotions for this promotion.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

American Omens: The Coming Fight for Faith by Travis Thrasher

Book description:

In this taut thriller that depicts a future where belief is dangerous, faith is deemed hatred, and a group of powerful elite keeps watch, the Reckoner has come to wake up America.

The year is 2038 and Cheyenne Burne is a brilliant young programmer working for Acatour, the world's top technology firm. Her father converts to Christianity, and he suddenly disappears without a trace. When a stranger hands Cheyenne a coded message that sends her on a collision course with a clandestine group of believers, she must put her life in the hands of those following a man known only as the Reckoner. He claims he wants to bring back true faith in Christ to America and also reveal the forces behind the disappearances of the many renowned people who publicly declared their Christian faith.

Operating in the shadows and living off the grid, this mysterious prophet assembles a ragtag team--including a former bookseller whose store was shut down for selling prohibited books--to help him take the battle for transparency to the top. With a ruthless FBI agent closing in, can Cheyenne and the others expose the truth and lead a return to God in America before it's too late? 

My review:

  Travis Thrasher has written a wide variety of books. Some I have really liked, and there have been some I didn't care for. This one falls into the former. The title and description intrigued me, and it did turn out to be an interesting read.

  For anyone paying attention, it is obvious that Christianity is rapidly becoming viewed as hateful and is looked down and ridiculed by many, and especially by the media and Hollywood. The day may very likely become when Christians are branded a hate group, and Christianity becomes illegal. This book gives a fictional look at what that might be like.

 Thrasher is a great writer, and that comes through in this book. He came up with some great scenarios, and even some technological ideas that do not exist - to my knowledge - that make it easier to manipulate, control, and keep track of people. The plot and setting were well done and very creative, along with his characters.

 The idea of a 911 conspiracy bothered me, and I am not sure if the author ascribes to such lunacy, or if he just had his one character do so. Hopefully the latter....

 There was nothing else in the book that bothered me, except it kind of left me hanging. It was a suspenseful and interesting read that truly did make me think about what our world could be like if Christianity is ever, God forbid, outlawed. All in all, it was a book worth reading.

I received this book from the publisher, Waterbrook/Multnomah,  through their book launch program.

About the author:

Bestselling author Travis Thrasher has written over 50 books, spanning genres in fiction, nonfiction and children’s literature. His inspirational stories have included collaborations with filmmakers, musicians, athletes, celebrities and pastors.

With the childhood goal of pursuing a writing career starting in third grade, Thrasher worked for 13 years at Tyndale House Publishers after graduating college. His experience working with authors allowed him to understand the writing life as well as training him to work with a variety of personalities. This experience has proven to be valuable with co-writing projects.

His novels are as diverse as the people he’s worked with, ranging from love stories to supernatural thrillers. This storytelling ability has also allowed him to work with others on their books, from country musician and American Idol winner Scotty McCreery to Bill Klein and Jen Arnold, reality TV stars of The Little Couple. Upcoming projects continue to expand his talents, with projects including Olympic Pride, American Prejudice about the lives of the other 17 American black athletes who competed in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin and Baby Don’t Hurt Me about comedian Chris Kattan’s life and time on Saturday Night Live.

Travis lives with his wife and three young daughters in a suburb of Chicago.

Check out his website at TravisThrasher.com

Thursday, February 21, 2019

The Restoration Series: Jonthan's Walk

Prison Fellowship has done a series of videos which is a 5-part documentary film series following one man as he re-enters his community after 15 years in prison. The first episode, which is just short of 5 minutes, is  below to view for free.

  The video chronicles his entry into the prison system, and what it is like to get out and enter society. There are clips from his wife telling what it was like to be without him, and clips of him discussing what he missed out on. I am able to view more episodes, but my internet has been bad this week, so I just viewed the first... but it is well done, and gives a compassionate look at someone who has done their time, and is now trying to do right.

More about the series:

For years, Jonathan has been in prison. As a result, he has missed milestone moments with his family. He wasn’t there for his daughter’s first day of school or a thousand little experiences with his wife and as a father, he is devastated to be separated from those he loves most.

Jonathan has been looking forward to his release from prison for over a decade. So many life events have been missed and he is now ready to be with his wife and kids again. Of course, this transition isn't going to be easy. The odds are against him: with over half of prisoners returning to prison within two years, Jonathan is aware of the challenge set before him.

Still, he is determined to take the skills he has learned into the world outside of incarceration and stay there, helping build the community that he is part of for years to come.
Prison Fellowship presents The Restoration Series: Jonathan’s Walk, a 5-part documentary film series following one man as he re-enters his community after 15 years in prison. It demonstrates in imagery, powerful storytelling and social interaction what it means to be human and the shared need of all people to see communities restored.

 Though America is home to only 4% of the world's population, we house more than 20% of its prisoners. Recidivism–the tendency of a criminal to reoffend—is out of control. The Restoration Series tells the story of men and women who have experienced The Academy, a revolutionary in-prison program that is combating incarceration and recidivism head on.


Thanks to FlyBy Promotions for this promotion.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Breach of Trust, Atlanta Justice #3 by Rachel Dylan

Book description:

Corporate litigator Mia Shaw suffers the shock of her life when she finds her colleague and friend brutally murdered. Grief-stricken and furious, Mia vows that she will do anything to seek justice and make the killer pay.

The man accused of the murder is a friend of security tech guru Noah Ramirez, but the evidence just doesn't add up. To save his former ATF partner, Noah needs to convince Mia that the real killer is still on the loose.

Mia soon has more than the criminal prosecution to worry about, however. She is tasked with taking over her friend's last case and learns he was hiding secrets about his client. She thinks she may have stumbled upon corporate espionage that has turned deadly, but she has no idea of the danger involved. Her only ally is Noah, despite their difference of opinion on the homicide case. Can he win Mia over to his side and protect her from ever-growing threats?

My review:

  I enjoy legal thrillers, and there haven't been many authors on the Christian market who write them. The few who have done so have been men......which is fine, as there are not enough "guy books" on the Christian fiction market.

 Rachel Dylan is one of two female authors who have started writing legal thrillers in the last few years, and she does a great job of it. Legal thrillers can be tricky things. If the legal talk and work is too complicated, readers like me who aren't very well versed in legal "stuff" will lose interest and be lost.

  This third and final book in the suspenseful Atlanta Justice Series revolves around corporate espionage, which doesn't sound too interesting to be honest. However, Dylan makes it interesting. I was fascinated by how and why some things happened in the book.

 These three books center on six people: three female friends who are all lawyers, and three guys who are all members of a security company. (Spoiler: the three guys get the girls). :) The male in this story is Noah, the tech expert of the company. The author used him to help work on the espionage case with his computer expertise, which also was interesting.

 Not only is the legal and courtroom parts of the book done well, but so is the suspense. Maybe I am wrong, but it seemed the suspense was ratcheted up even more in the third book than the other two...regardless, this suspense junkie loved those parts of the book and kept me turning the pages as fast as I could.

 I mentioned the guy getting the girl....so romance also plays a big part in the story, and it also was well done and not cheesy or gag inducing. (Hey, I am a bachelor!)

 And last, but not least, the Christian element. Mia is a fledgling Christian, and there were some interesting and thought provoking things that came up in discussions between her and Noah, a preacher's son who had not always lived his faith.

 This was a great conclusion to a very good series.

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

About the author:

Rachel Dylan writes legal thrillers and legal romantic suspense. Rachel has practiced law for over a decade including being a litigator at one of the nation’s top law firms. She enjoys weaving together legal and suspenseful stories. Rachel writes the Atlanta Justice Series which features strong, female attorneys in Atlanta. Deadly Proof, the first book in the Atlanta Justice series, is a CBA bestseller, an FHL Reader’s Choice Award winner, a Daphne du Maurier Finalist, and a Holt Medallion Finalist. Rachel lives in Michigan with her husband and five fur kids--two dogs and three cats. Rachel loves to connect with readers. You can find Rachel at www.racheldylan.com.

The Atlanta Justice Series is available from Bethany House Publishers, part of the Baker Publishing Group.