Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Vines Expository Bible


Pastor Jerry Vines leads you on a journey through the Bible, with observations and understanding straight from a pastor's heart. Based on sermons and lessons from Jerry’s lifetime of teaching ministry, this Bible provides a unique, passage-by-passage guide through every book of Scripture and explains how each part applies to your life.

Features Include:

NKJV paragraph-style text with in-text subject headings
200 "Presenting the Message" detailed outlines from Jerry Vines' sermon archive
100 "Living the Message" articles with illustrations for living the Christian life
200 "Applying the Message" notes that help you see the relevance of Scriptures for your walk with Christ
300 "Discerning the Meaning" word studies that illuminate the meaning of key words in Scripture
66 Book Introductions
Topical Index
NKJV Concordance
10.5 point print size

My review:

  I like to review a Bible occasionally, and this one intrigued me. They used a favorite version for it, the new King James, which drew me in.

 I obviously did not have time to read through the whole Bible, but did spend time looking over the features and reading some of the articles and outlines, and other features.

 I thought the book introductions were very well done, interesting, and did a great job of describing the focus of the book.

 There are 200 "presenting the message" features, such as one on "How to pray in a crisis". These typically take up 2 pages, and are something I found both interesting and helpful. I also liked and found helpful the "discerning the meaning" and  "applying the message" features which are much shorter and are scattered throughout the Bible in small boxes.

 The Christian market has a wide array of study and devotional Bibles, and one can wonder what the difference is. I am not familiar with Jerry Vines, but I like this Bible that has his notes and thoughts throughout it, and is a Bible definitely worth checking out.....even if you already have a few study Bibles. This one is definitely different.

About Jerry Vines:

Jerry Vines was born in Carrollton, Georgia near Atlanta in 1937. Before attending seminary, he pastored his first church, Centralhatchee Baptist Church, at the age of 16. He was educated at Mercer University, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and Luther Rice University before pastoring in churches in Alabama and Georgia. While pastor of Dauphin Way Baptist Church in Mobile, Alabama he was elected President of the Alabama Pastors' Conference. He relocated to Jacksonville in 1982 to co-pastor the First Baptist Church with Homer G. Lindsay, Jr.

In June 1988, he was elected President of the Southern Baptist Convention, served two terms, and was supportive of the Southern Baptist Convention conservative resurgence. During his first 20 years at First Baptist Jacksonville, he baptized 18,177 people and oversaw the building of an $8 million preschool building, a $16 million auditorium and four parking garages, totaling almost $14 million. Vines also was influential in starting the First Baptist Church Pastors' Conference which drew thousands of ministers and church works from across the world. Vines announced his retirement from First Baptist in May 2005 and preached his last sermon as pastor of the church in 2006 at the close of the 20th annual Pastors' conference. In 2017, Vines enrolled in the Ph.D program at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX. [1]

He has since started his own ministry, Jerry Vines Ministries. This ministry is an outreach to further educate pastors in different areas of the ministry. Vines is married to the former Janet Denney and they have four children and seven grand children.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Only By Death, Ozark Mountain Trilogy #2 by Kathy Herman

Book description:

Is Liam Berne a loving son—or a murderer? The second book in the Ozark Mountain Trilogy, Only by Death is a thought-provoking suspense story of a man who loses everything and learns he must die to find life.

After much agonizing, Liam Berne takes his mother, who has Alzheimer’s, to the Sure Foot River and drowns her. A mercy killing, he tells himself, to spare her years in a nursing home. And getting his inheritance early isn’t a bad thing either.

Dixie Berne’s body is recovered and the coroner cannot find any sign of foul play, though Liam’s sister isn’t convinced. Then Liam hears rumors that a twelve-year-old boy has witnessed the drowning. Terrified that he will be discovered, Liam sets out to intimidate the boy into silence. Little does Liam know that someone else suspects him—someone who intends to make him pay.

My review:

 Kathy Herman has been one of my favorite authors since I read her first novel, Tested by Fire, 17 years ago. It has been 5 years since I read a new book by Kathy Herman, which was Not by Sight, #1 in this series. The author had a lot going on, so it was 5 years between the release of the two books. I have been looking forward to this book for 5 years, so I bought it and read it as soon as I could........after re-reading book one.

  I have enjoyed all of Kathy's books, and the characters in those books.... but I really like the people in this series. Part of that is the first two books center on kids....a 16 year old girl in book 1, and a 12 year old boy in book 2. For some reason, kids in books really draw me in and tug at my heart strings....if a guy can admit such a thing.

 Book two takes up two years after the first book, and centers on the youngest boy in the Cummings family.....Jesse. Book one was really good, but this one was even better. It was an emotional book, and the issue of faith was at the center of the story. Although the story and Jesse were fictional, I was convicted by the faith and willingness to die of a 12 year old. Including myself, too many of us don't live the way this fictional 12 year old lived......yet it is exactly how we are supposed to live. Kathy has never been afraid to put Christian content in her books, and a theme or message that goes beyond just entertaining.

 I did read the book in one evening, and could not put it down. It was suspenseful, encouraging, and convicting. The book definitely gets 5 stars from me, and I was sorry to see it end, though I loved the ending.

 Thankfully, book 3 is not 5 years away, but is slated to release in August of this year..... and I can't wait to read the final book in this trilogy, the story of the oldest boy in this great fictional family...... Hawk.

About the author:

Best-selling suspense novelist Kathy Herman has written twenty novels—including the Secrets or Roux River Bayou Series, Sophie Trace Series, the Seaport Suspense Series, and the Phantom Hollow Series—since retiring from her family’s Christian bookstore business. She and her late husband Paul have a blended family of three grown children. Kathy lives in the Northwest.

Only by Death and Not by Sight are available from David C Cook Publishing.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

The Assignment by Devon Blanton

Book description:

The ASSIGNMENT is a book that was inspired by constant questions from people who simply wanted to know, what life is all about? The desire to find purpose and significance is a staggering need for the modern church of today. People who find it truly know peace. Those who do not, can search a lifetime and never know that the answer is right in front of them. Inside these pages are unique perspectives that are expected to trigger those “ah ha!” moments for every reader. Truly, this could be the “GAME CHANGER” that effects you for the rest of your life!

My review:

 Blanton is a new author to me. I had actually never heard of him until a Facebook friend asked for people to review some of his books. I like what I have read so far.

 The Assignment is not a long book. It has 13 chapters, coming in at 5-6 pages each. Following each chapter is a page covering key word studies in context. That is followed by a couple pages of workbook questions, making this book a study type of book.

 The overall theme of the book is a search for significance. The author covers that subject very well, and in an easy to read way that makes for an interesting read. I found the questions at the end of each chapter very thought provoking, and quite in depth.

 For anyone wondering what your life is all about and for, this is a great book to read and study.

About the author:

Dr. Devon Blanton is a pastor conducting a full time ministry along with a very busy Christian Counseling practice. He holds an earned Doctorate in Religious Education, specializing in Counseling. He is certified in Family and Marriage, Grief and Drug Abuse and Health and Nutrition. He is also a Certified Health Coach. His post-doctoral pursuits include an earned diploma in Psychiatric Studies. He also completed brief studies in Cardiology and Resuscitation from Perelman School of Medicine, Penn State University. He further expanded His studies in nutrition from Texas A&M, Vanderbilt University and Stanford University. This all coincides with his four pillar philosophy on Counseling. These focus on the Physical, Spiritual, Emotional and Financial parts of who we are. He is also the Founder of Cross Anchors Solutions, a high level training program out of Durham, NC providing training in Leadership Development, Biblical Counseling I, II, Advanced Biblical Counseling and Health and Nutrition. He has authored several books including: The ASSIGNMENT Holes in the Soul Shake the Heavens, Move the Earth Health is the Best Medicine Raising God.

Thanks to  the author for the review copy.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Beneath the Surface, Dive Team Investigations #1 by Lynn H Blackburn

Book description:

After a harrowing experience with an obsessed patient, oncology nurse practitioner Leigh Weston needed a change. She thought she'd left her troubles behind when she moved home to Carrington, North Carolina, and took a job in the emergency department of the local hospital. But when someone tampers with her brakes, she fears the past has chased her into the present. She reaches out to her high school friend turned homicide investigator, Ryan Parker, for help.

Ryan finds satisfaction in his career, but his favorite way to use his skills is as a volunteer underwater investigator with the Carrington County Sheriff's Office dive team. When the body of a wealthy businessman is discovered in Lake Porter, the investigation uncovers a possible serial killer--one with a terrifying connection to Leigh Weston and deadly implications for them all.

Dive into the depths of fear with an exciting new voice in romantic suspense. Award-winning author Lynn H. Blackburn grabs readers by the throat and doesn't let go until the final heart-pounding page.

My review:

  I started following Lynn on Facebook awhile back, being interested in her books. I had not read her previous books, as they are Love Inspired Suspense novels and there are way too many of those to keep up with. I saw she had a trader paperback book coming out from Revell, who always puts out quality Christian suspense, and put it on my list of to-read books. Then she posted one day she needed people for her street team....people to read, review, and help get the word out. I applied, and one thing I wrote under reasons I should be on it was this "You probably won't get many guys apply, and you need guys on your team too....." I got on, and I am  the only guy :)

 Onto the book:

  I enjoy reading books by new authors, finding out what their writing style is, and how much I am going to like their books. Blackburn did not disappoint, but exceeded my expectations. I love a good suspense novel, and good doesn't begin to describe this book. I made the mistake of starting the book one day on my lunch break at work, and man was it difficult to put the book aside to go back to work. The action and suspense start immediately, and never let up.

 Here's what I liked:

 The suspense: There were two mysteries going on at the same time. There were bodies being found that had been murdered, and the main chick, Leigh, had a stalker that grew more and more threatening and daring as the book raced towards an end.

The characters: Characters can make or break a book, and Blackburn came up with some awesome characters for this book and series. The two main characters, Ryan & Leigh were very easy to like and get caught up in their story. The dive team over all was also full of great characters, and I found myself hoping the next book would be about Gabe Sanchez, but I don't think it will be.

The romance: Maybe I am becoming a romantic sap, but I am enjoying the romantic parts of these books more than I used to. This one was more believable than some, in that the couple had had feelings for each other since high school, but Ryan had never acted on them because her brother had warned all his friends away from her....something that made the romance and story amusing.

The bad guy: I like a book that is complex enough that you can't figure out a motive or who the killer is, and this book certainly fell into that category. It was interesting to read the theories as the team would gather to brainstorm, and the author made that interesting and believable, yet keeps the reader guessing who and why.

The ending: What would a book be without an ending? And this one had a great one. I kind of guessed a certain thing would happen (no spoilers here!), but when it did happen I still was kept guessing what was going to happen next. The book came to a very suspenseful and climatic happening, followed by the romantic ending....which I thoroughly enjoyed and approved of.

 This lady can indeed write a great suspense novel that has everything I enjoy, and had me turning pages as fast as I could read them. I am definitely looking forward to reading more about this great team of investigators, and am eyeing the author's Love Inspired Suspense novels. Definitely 5 star material here.

About the author:

Lynn H. Blackburn is the author of Beneath the Surface, Hidden Legacy, and Covert Justice, winner of the 2016 Selah Award for Mystery and Suspense and the 2016 Carol Award for Short Novel. Blackburn believes in the power of stories, especially those that remind us that true love exists, a gift from the Truest Love. She's passionate about CrossFit, coffee, and chocolate (don't make her choose) and experimenting with recipes that feed both body and soul. She lives in Simpsonville, South Carolina, with her true love, Brian, and their three children.

Check out her website at LynnHBlackburn.com.

Beneath the Surface is available March 6 from Revell Publishing, part of the Baker Publishing Group.

Thanks to the author for the review copy.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Set Free to Choose Right by Josh McDowell

Book description:

Popular Author, Speaker, and Founder of the Josh McDowell Ministry Speaks Out on the Popular, Culturally Relevant Topic of Right vs. Wrong

Directed to parents and gatekeepers of today’s youth, renowned speaker and author Josh McDowell focuses on the how-to’s of teaching teens and pre-teens to make right moral choices. 

Set Free to Choose Right will help you come to understand:
why today’s kids feel they have the right to determine what is “right” or “wrong” for themselves
how culture reinforces that there are no universal truths and. . .
where this misconception historically originated
how to motivate kids to make good choices
it is God’s character and nature that makes right, right and wrong, wrong

Engaging stories and helpful illustration are provided to model how a person (of any age) can distinguish between right and wrong and make the right choice—every time.

My review:

  Any book by Josh McDowell can be guaranteed to be worth reading, as is proven by this one. There are a lot of books out there about pornography and other moral issues, but this one is different from those. McDowell did something that makes this book more interesting and easy to read than other books of this type. For this book, he created some fictional characters. Jayden is a 14 year old boy in a Christian home. Throughout the book, his parents catch him looking at porn in a few different ways, and they are also shown reacting in different ways. The topic of sending sexual photos to others is also covered in the book, along with other moral issues teens - and adults - will face, but pornography is covered in more detail.

  Although I have no kids of my own, I do have nieces and nephews, so this book was of interest to me. It is very well written, and McDowell does a great job of addressing these issues and showing parents how to deal with them with their kids. I love how he showed the fictional parents' different ways of talking to their son about his pornography viewing. And he shows there is a right way and a wrong way to react, and what to say and not to say.

 The uses and problems of smart phones, tablets, and other electronic devices is addressed, and McDowell also gives some statistics on kids and porn viewing, which is rather scary.

 The internet is a wonderful thing, and our lives are made easier by smart phones, tablets, etc. However, there is a lot of bad out there and these devices make it easier to access porn and other bad things. This book is a great resource for parents as they attempt to raise their kids in this porn and immorality deluged world we live in.

About the author:

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.

Set Free to Choose Right is available from Shiloh Run, an imprint of Barbour Books.

Thanks to Barbour for the review copy.

Amish Cooking Class Cookbook by Wanda E Brunstetter

Book description:

Amish Cooking Basic Enough for Beginners 

Fans of New York Times bestselling author Wanda E. Brunstetter’s Amish romance novels are invited to go back to cooking basics with characters from the bestselling Amish Cooking Class series. Heidi Troyer, her students, and other contributors share over 200 practical recipes for use in any kitchen, along with tips to keep things running smoothly. From learning how to boil eggs and knead biscuits to building a German Pizza and an Amish Haystack feast, The Amish Cooking Class Cookbook includes something beneficial for every age and skill set. Divided into traditional cookbook categories, there is a recipe everyone will find to love.

My review:

 The author did a series of fiction books called the Amish Cooking Class Series. This cookbook is based on those books, but one does not need to read the books to use or appreciate the cookbook.

  The cookbook starts out with a list of the cast of characters from the books, and a description of each book. That is followed by a description of Amish cooking, and then several tips from different cooks.

 There are several categories of recipes in the book, and I won't list all of  them. A few are beverages, soups, and desserts. There is even a category for children, including foods for babies. At the back of the book is an index for all foods. The front of the book has an index of the categories in the book. The book is spiral bound, making it easy to keep the pages open you are using.

 The cookbook has a lot of great recipes that have easy to follow directions. There are a lot of pictures,  and I was impressed with the wide variety of recipes throughout the book. I am a single guy with only one cookbook to my name, so I was happy to get the chance to review it.... and I have used it a couple of times already to make recipes are part of my reviewing the book.......but it is a great cookbook I plan on using after posting this review.

To be honest, I don't have a lot of experience with cookbooks, but this one does seem like a great one to have around, and may have some different recipes than the ones out there already. I do recommend it.

About the author:

New York Times bestselling and award-winning author, Wanda E. Brunstetter is one of the founders of the Amish fiction genre. She has written close to 90 books translated in four languages. With over 10 million copies sold, Wanda's stories consistently earn spots on the nations most prestigious bestseller lists and have received numerous awards.

Wanda’s ancestors were part of the Anabaptist faith, and her novels are based on personal research intended to accurately portray the Amish way of life. Her books are well-read and trusted by many Amish, who credit her for giving readers a deeper understanding of the people and their customs.

When Wanda visits her Amish friends, she finds herself drawn to their peaceful lifestyle, sincerity, and close family ties. Wanda enjoys photography, ventriloquism, gardening, bird-watching, beachcombing, and spending time with her family. She and her husband, Richard, have been blessed with two grown children, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

To learn more about Wanda, visit her website at www.wandabrunstetter.com.

The Amish Cooking Class Cookbook is available from Shiloh Run Press, an imprint of Barbour Books.

Thanks to Barbour for the review copy.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Mayflower Bride, Daughters of the Mayflower #1 by Kimberly Woodhouse

Book description:

A New Series Begins for Lovers of History, Adventure, Romance, and Ancestry 
A brand new series for fans of all things related to history, romance, adventure, faith, and family trees.

Mary Chapman boards the Speedwell in 1620 as a Separatist seeking a better life in the New World. William Lytton embarks on the Mayflower as a carpenter looking for opportunities to succeed—and he may have found one when a man from the Virginia Company offers William a hefty sum to keep a stealth eye on company interests in the new colony. The season is far too late for good sailing and storms rage, but reaching land is no better as food is scarce and the people are weak. Will Mary survive to face the spring planting and unknown natives? Will William be branded a traitor and expelled?

Book review:

  Admittedly, this book may not fall into my normal reading material.....but when a favorite author and a very nice all around lady asked me if I wanted a copy, what was I supposed to say? Of course I said yes, with no reservations of whether I would like it or not.

 I have read the story many times of the Mayflower and those who settled here from that ship, and have even read a few fictionalized accounts of it. Kimberly does the story great justice, and adds several fictionalized characters to the story.

   There are a lot of great characters in the book, but I found myself liking the hero of the story most of all, William. Orphaned very young, turned out into the street at the age of nine, and then raised from the age of 13 by a godly man, William has had a rough life. His passage on the Mayflower paid by his benefactor before he died, this hardened young man is hoping for a better future.

 As with any book of this type, there is of a course a romance at the center of it all, and I found myself rooting for it to work out as people became sick and died all around the couple falling in love.

 It has been years since I have read of the Mayflower and those who settled here in those early days, and Kimberly did a great job of retelling that story while spinning fictional characters and events around the historical facts and people.

 I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Mayflower Bride. I enjoyed reading again the historical events and enjoyed the romance and stories of the fictional characters. It also helped renew my appreciation for our freedoms and for those who helped found our country. Although this wasn't my favorite genre' of suspense, I found it difficult to put the book down when I needed to go back to work from my break. It is definitely worth reading.

 And might I add, I met the author a couple of years ago, and she is indeed a lovely lady inside and out, and a great author.

About the author:

Kim is a devoted wife and mother, and a third generation Liszt student. She has passed down her love of the arts to hundreds of students over the years, recorded three albums, and appeared at over 700 venues.

Her quick wit, enthusiasm, and positive outlook through difficult circumstances have gained her audiences at conferences, retreats, churches, military functions, and seminars all over the country.

The Woodhouse family’s story has been on the front page of newspapers, in magazines, articles, medical journals, and most recently featured on ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. They were also asked to share their story on The Montel Williams Show and Discovery Health Channel’s Mystery ER.

Kim has been writing seriously for fifteen years. Songs, plays, short stories, novels, picture books, articles, newsletters – you name it – she’s written it. It wasn’t until a dear friend challenged her to “do something with it”, that she pursued publication. She now has multiple books to her credit, with more on the way.

Kim lives, writes, and homeschools in Colorado with her husband and their two children in a truly “Extreme” home.

Check out her website.

The Mayflower Bride is available from Shiloh Run Press, an imprint of Barbour Books.

Thanks to the author for the review copy.