Saturday, December 9, 2017

Christmas At Grey Sage by Phyllis Clark Nichols

Book description:

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

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

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

My review:

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

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

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

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

About the author:


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

Learn more at phyllisclarknichols.com.

Thanks to Litfuse Publicity for the review copy.

Learn more about the book here.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Evidence That Demands a Verdict by Josh and Sean McDowell

Book description:

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

My review:

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

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

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

About the authors:

Josh McDowell:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sean McDowell:


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

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

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

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

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



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

Thanks to Booklook Bloggers for the review copy.

Devotions From the Mountains

Book description:


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

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

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




My review:

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

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

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

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


Devotions From the Mountains is available from Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Thanks to Booklook Bloggers for the review copy.

Hind's Feet On High Places by Hanna Hurnard

Book description:

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

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

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

My review:

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

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

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

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

About the author:


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

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

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


This edition was illustrated by Jill DeHaan and Rachel McNaughton.

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

Thanks to Tyndale for the review copy.

Deadly Proof by Rachel Dylan

Book description:

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

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

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

My review:

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

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

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

About the author:


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



Sunday, December 3, 2017

The Gift of Christmas Past by Cindy & Erin Woodsmall

My review:

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

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

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

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


My review:

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

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

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

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

About the authors:


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



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



Thanks to Litfuse for the review copy.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

World View by Marvin Olasky

Book description:

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

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

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

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

My review:

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

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

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

About the author:


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

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


World View is available from New Growth Press.