Wednesday, February 5, 2020

A Quiet Roar by Randall Arthur

Book description:

At a Baptist Church in rural Georgia, male leaders are taking turns filling the pulpit in the absence of a pastor.

Two weeks before Easter, one of the leaders—an eighty-year-old millionaire—looks out over the congregation of sixty people. “I’ve decided not to teach this morning,” he declares. “Rather I’m going to make an announcement. And it’s going to upset many of you. But at this point I honestly don’t care; I’m angry. The two previous pastors have nearly destroyed our church. So, I’ve decided to do something about it. Before I make my announcement, I should remind you that my brother, when he was still alive, and I built this church building on our property with our money. The agreement at the time was that when my brother and I are deceased, the deed to the property and all the buildings will transfer to the church. But I’m not dead. And I still hold the deed to the property. Therefore, I’ve made a unilateral decision. And there’s nothing anybody can do about it.”

Eyebrows all across the auditorium instantly lifted.

“In two weeks from now, on Easter Sunday, I’m bringing in a lady pastor. I’m going to pay her salary. I’m going to furnish her a home and a car. All I’m going to tell you at the moment is that she’s a widow, and she has served as a long-time missionary in Africa.” The old man paused and pointed an aged finger toward the foyer. “If you don’t like my decision, you know where the doors are.”

My review:

 A disclaimer before my review: I personally have never been for women pastors. It isn't something I make a big deal about, and have interacted with and respected women pastors at a Christian bookstore I worked at for 5 years, and at the hospital I work at. I have listened to female evangelists as a kid, and my church's first pastor was a woman way back in 1954, and was named for her for many years.


  I read three of Randall Arthur's previous books several years ago, and was especially impressed by Wisdom Hunter and Jordan's Crossing. Even with the somewhat controversial subject, I was eager to review this newest book when given the chance. I'll break it down what I thought of the book:

1) The writing: As Arthur has proven in his other books, he is a great writer. The book was an interesting and suspenseful read - not in the mystery suspense kind of suspense, and was a page turner in its own way. I didn't want to put it down, and wanted to see what happened next.

2) The characters: I loved the characters in the book, good and bad. The preacher lady was an awesome character you had to like, and even the ones who fought her were great characters, even if you didn't like them.

3) Content: This book had a lot of Christian content, Scripture, sermon content. I thought that through the fictional female pastor, the author presented some great arguments for female pastors.

What I didn't like:
1) I caught one use of the "d"word, and I am one who have always disliked curse words in a Christian book. It IS the only one I caught.

2) The ending. I won't give any spoilers, but I love happy endings. I thought the book was heading one way with a happy ending for two people......but.....

   I did enjoy the book, and it was a fascinating read. Though it is fictional, the book shows how easily Christians can get radical and show bad attitudes and actions over a verse that may not necessarily mean what we hold it so rigidly to mean. Also through fiction, the author addressed racism in the church, and brought out ways to befriend people and possibly get them to our church by just being friends and not putting on pressure.


I was provided a copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions in this review are my own.

About the author:

Randall and his wife have been career missionaries since 1975. They have planted churches in Oslo, Norway; Munich, Germany; and Berlin, Germany. In addition, Randall has coordinated and led over 100 short-term mission trips.

Randall is an Atlanta native. He became a believer at the age of 12, and surrendered his life to be a preacher and missionary at the age of 15.

Randall’s first novel, Wisdom Hunter, was penned in the late 1980’s. The volume was born, not out of a long held ambition to write a novel, but rather out of a therapeutic need to put into writing the painful lessons he learned as a young legalistic missionary in Norway.

The purpose of the book was to illustrate in a real-life drama the destructiveness of legalism in the body of Christ. The novel proved to be too controversial for Randall’s legalistic camp. The president of the mission agency with which Randall served demanded Randall’s resignation the very day he read the book.

Randall later wrote Jordan’s Crossing, Brotherhood of Betrayal, and Forgotten Road. These books were also born out of personal struggles and/or partial real-life experiences.

Randall’s goal as a writer is to rip the mask of pretense from American Christianity and present stories that portray true-to-life struggles, true-to-life thoughts, true-to-life reactions, and true-to-life journeys.

A Quiet Roar is his latest, and perhaps most controversial, offering.

Check out his website at RandallArthur.com, where all of his books can be purhcased.

Collision of Lies by Tom Threadgill

Book description:

The case was tragic. But it was an accident. Right?

Three years ago, a collision between a fast-moving freight train and a school bus full of kids led to devastation and grief on an unimaginable scale. But a fresh clue leads San Antonio police detective Amara Alvarez to the unlikely conclusion that one of the children may still be alive. If she's correct, everything law enforcement believes about the accident is a lie.

With time running out, Amara must convince others--and herself--that despite all evidence to the contrary, the boy is alive. And she will do everything in her power to bring him home.

A fresh voice in suspense, Tom Threadgill will have you questioning everything as you fly through the pages of this enthralling story.

My review:

  This was a new author to me. He has published a few other books, but not on the Christian market. I have been eager to read his first book on the Christian market, and was not disappointed.

   A lot of the suspense novels I read are non-stop action and suspense. Bad guy trying to kill or kidnap someone while the good guys are on the chase. This book was a much slower pace with a lot of investigating and interviewing going on for much of the book. That isn't to say the book was boring. Slow does not equal boring, as this author proved.

 The plot for the book is genius. I assumed that the boy in question had not died in the crash that killed so many, but how? And why? The answers to those questions were a long and complicated plot that had be amazed and on the edge of my seat by the time it was all over. I was disappointed in one thing at the end, and asked why the author had to do THAT?!....but it was a great read that I enjoyed very much, and am now wanting to read his other books.

 Collision of lies had a lot of different characters, likable, and not so much. Were I a male author, I would have had a male character as the main character, but Threadbill had a female. She did end up being a great character with a great supporting "cast." Though books like these typically have a romance between the two main characters, there really wasn't one in this book. Nor was there really a main male character. The book did sort of lean that way towards the end with a possibility of a romance.....maybe that will happen in the next book.

 Also, there was nothing really Christian about the book, though it was clean and curse free, and had a Christian world view. That didn't bother me, just making note of it. This is a book I would recommend, and an author I am interested in reading more of.

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

About the author:

Tom Threadgill is a full-time author and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). He is currently on the suspense/thriller publishing board for LPC Books, a division of Iron Stream Media. He lives with his wife in rural Tennessee.

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

Thanks to Revell for the review copy.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

End Game, Capital Intrigue #1 by Rachel Dylan

Book description:

Each New Clue . . .
Every Crime Scene . . .
Brings Them Closer to Discovering the End Game

When elite members of the military are murdered on the streets of Washington, DC, FBI Special Agent Bailey Ryan and NCIS Special Agent Marco Agostini must work together to bring the perpetrator to justice. Unfortunately, all evidence points to a Navy SEAL sniper who Bailey refuses to believe is guilty.

When Bailey and Marco start to connect the dots between the victims, they wonder if there's a deeper cover-up at play. After Bailey is targeted, it becomes clear that someone is willing to kill to keep their dark secrets.

With the stakes getting higher by the moment, Bailey and Marco rush against the clock to determine whom they can really trust in this twisted conspiracy. As allies turn to enemies, the biggest secret yet to be uncovered could be the end of them all.

My review:

  I really enjoyed The Atlanta Justice Series by Rachel Dylan, so I was looking forward to this new series by her. The other series centered on lawyers and the justice side of things, but this series is going to revolve around law enforcement.

  End Game was a great suspenseful read that had everything I liked in a suspense novel. This book had something not featured in many books I read: NCIS agents, or Naval Criminal Investigative Service, if you are not familiar with the initials. This law enforcement agency doesn't make many appearances in Christian suspense novels, so I thought it was pretty cool that the author teamed them up with the FBI to work the case.

 Characters are important, and both main characters, Marco and Bailey, were great characters easy to cheer on and like.

  The plot was a really great and complicated one, yet easy to follow. I like a suspense novel where it isn't easy to figure out what is going on right away, and the author did a great job of spinning a plot that had me clueless to who killed the victims and why. I found it fascinating to learn more about government contractors and the workings of law enforcement.

 As with all of these books, there is a romantic angle, but it took a back seat to the suspense, drama, and action. Faith also played a part, something I always appreciate authors including.

 This was what I label "read in one sitting book". I started it at work on my lunch break, read more on my second break, and then finished it at home. It is not a book one would find easy to let lie around for a week, reading once in a while. It demands your attention and you won't want to put it down. Awesome start to this new series.

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

About the author:


Rachel Dylan (www.racheldylan.com) was a litigator in one of Atlanta's most elite law firms for over eight years and now works as an attorney at one of the Big Three automobile manufacturers. She is the author of The Atlanta Justice Series and four Love Inspired Suspense novels and lives in Michigan with her husband.

End Game is available from Bethany House, a part of the Baker Publishing Group.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

A Small Book for the Anxious Heart by Edward T Welch

Book description:

Fear and anxiety are chronic struggles for many people that are only intensifying and increasing. Best-selling author Edward T. Welch shares the comfort and peace of Jesus in fifty brief readings for those who wrestle with fear.

A Small Book for the Anxious Heart is a small but powerful devotional to remind men and women of the encouraging, beautiful words in Scripture to anxious people.

While many books on fear and anxiety exist—promising to help men and women manage their struggles with methods and formulas—this devotional reaches deeper into Scripture, making the Word of God more accessible. Don’t put a Band-Aid on your fear and anxiety; rather, learn to bring your fear to Jesus, relying on his Word.

Welch has been counseling for over thirty-eight years and is the author of more than a dozen books, including A Small Book about a Big Problem, Running Scared: Fear, Worry and the God of Rest, Shame Interrupted, When People Are Big and God Is Small, and many others.

Jesus cares for us, and in these readings, Welch invites readers to trust him for today, knowing he goes before us always.

My review:

 This book is well named. It IS a small book, about the size of a mass market paperback, and coming in at 186 pages.

 It has 50 chapters, mean to be read over a period of 50 days. Fear and anxiety are discussed a lot, and there are a lot of things discussed that we are anxious about. Each chapter ends with two questions to answer and think about.

 Anxiety and depression are issues I deal with, and I found some of the things in the book that do cause me anxiety and worry.

 The book is well written and contains a lot of helpful ideas and advice that is also Biblical. It is definitely best read over a 50 day period as suggested. My only issue with the book is that it is overpriced for the size.....though my review copy was free. It is helpful for the intended audience, I can attest to that.

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

About the author:

Edward T. Welch, MDiv, PhD, is a licensed psychologist and faculty member at the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF). He earned a PhD in counseling (neuropsychology) from the University of Utah and has a Master of Divinity degree from Biblical Theological Seminary. Ed has been counseling for over thirty years and has written extensively on the topics of depression, fear, and addictions. His biblical counseling books include Shame Interrupted; When People Are Big and God Is Small; Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave; Depression: Looking Up from the Stubborn Darkness; Crossroads: A Step-by-Step Guide Away from Addiction; Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest; When I Am Afraid: A Step-by-Step Guide Away from Fear and Anxiety; Side by Side: Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love; and A Small Book about a Big Problem: Meditations on Anger, Patience, and Peace.

Jonah: Grace for Sinners and Saints by Iain Duguid

Book description:

This small group guide includes ten in-depth lessons for one-to-one discipleship, small group, or large group settings. Explore this resource and find a God who relents, a God who is sovereign, and a God who is present among the mercies and trials of life.

Jonah: Grace for Sinners and Saints offers Scripture-based, theologically rich content with an easy-to-follow structure to engage readers. Duguid explores how we are more like Jonah than we might think, bringing the text to life by examining our own motives and affections. 

Duguid doesn’t leave readers in the judgment and spiritual arrogance of Jonah. He shows us the good news that the Lord is in charge, even over those who try to run from him. 

With rich discussion questions, exercises, and articles to encourage thoughtful responses to the text, this study guide helps readers see Jesus more clearly in the themes found in the book of Jonah. 

My review:

  Jonah is a Bible character who has always interested me. I have studied it before and read other books on and about the book, but couldn't pass up reviewing this one.

 Each lesson contains these parts:
Big idea: a summary of the main point
Bible conversation: read and discuss the passage of Scripture
Article: the main teaching of the lesson, written by the author
Discussion: discussion of the article
Exercise: a written part to do on one's own time
Wrap-up and prayer

  The author of this study is new to me, but I was impressed with the thoughts he came up with for the book, and the way he brought everything together to make a great Bible study. The exercise questions are very thought provoking, and I did end up seeing Jonah in a new light. The theme of the book is grace, and that comes through loud and clear.

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

About the author:

Iain M. Duguid received his PhD at the University of Cambridge in 1992, his MDiv at Westminster Theological Seminary in 1989, and his BSc at the University of Edinburgh in 1981. He's the author of Ezekiel and the Leaders of Israel, Esther & Ruth, Daniel, and Song of Songs in the Reformed Expository Commentary, as well as Jonah: Grace for Sinners and Saints, among many other titles. Duguid is a professor of Old Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Barbara, have been married for over thirty years and have six adult children.


Ruth: Redemption for the Broken by Jared C Wilson

Book description:

In this ten-week accessible study, Jared Wilson provides a clearer picture of Jesus through the story of Ruth, which he presents as a historic living parable of Christ’s love for his church.

Ruth: Redemption for the Broken can be adapted for one-to-one discipleship, small group, or large group settings. The comprehensive leader’s guide is included in the text, making it an easy-to-follow structure to engage men and women.

By studying the book of Ruth, readers can enjoy the romance and drama of this compelling story while understanding how it applies to their own lives—finding Christ’s undying love for them through this unforgettable biblical narrative.

Jesus is the “truer and better” of every character in the book of Ruth, and everything in the Bible points to him. Wilson anchors his message in Scripture, guiding readers to better understand the themes in the book of Ruth.

When everything falls apart, cling to Jesus, the one who clings to you. Find in the story of Ruth the start of a real love story—but probably not the one you think. Ruth reveals the truth that there are no sinners, no failures, and no victims so far gone that the sovereign hand of the Lord cannot reach, rescue, and even revise the story of their lives.

My review:

  Ruth is one of the books of the Bible I never really thought of for a Bible study. It is more of a story we have read over and over. After reading through this book, I can see that it does make a great study.

 Each lesson contains these parts:
Big idea: a summary of the main point
Bible conversation: read and discuss the passage of Scripture
Article: the main teaching of the lesson, written by the author
Discussion: discussion of the article
Exercise: a written part to do on one's own time
Wrap-up and prayer

  The Bible study is well done, interesting, and brings out some great thoughts I at least never considered about the book of Ruth. I like the set up, and I can see it working for individual study also, and not just as a group.

  The article section was very interesting, and the author had some great insights worth considering that were well written and thought provoking.

 I haven't read a lot of Bible studies, but this seems to be one worth doing and accomplishes the purpose of a Bible study.


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

About the author:

Jared C. Wilson is Assistant Professor of Pastoral Ministry at Spurgeon College, author in residence at Midwestern Seminary, general editor of For The Church, and director of the Pastoral Training Center at Liberty Baptist Church in Kansas City, MO. He is the author of numerous books, including The Gospel-Driven Church, The Imperfect Disciple, and Supernatural Power for Everyday People. In ministry for twenty-five years, Wilson has also written numerous church resources and Bible studies, including Ruth: Redemption for the Broken, as well as contributed the study notes for 1 and 2 Peter and Jude in the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible. He is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, TN.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

A Shepherd Suspense Novel, #1: A Cross to Kill by Andrew Huff

Book review:

John Cross is a small-town pastor, bent on leading his flock to follow God's calling. He's not the sort of man one would expect to have a checkered past.

But the truth is that the man behind the pulpit preaching to his sheep was once a wolf--an assassin for the CIA. When John decided to follow Christ, he put that work behind him, determined to pay penance for all the lives he took. He vowed never to kill again.

Now someone wants the peaceful pastor to pay for his sins with his own life. And when a terrorist out for revenge walks into the church, John's secrets are laid bare. Confronted with his past, he must face his demons and discover whether a man can truly change. Can he keep his vow--even when the people he loves are in mortal danger? Will his congregation and the brave woman he's learning to care for be caught in the cross fire? In the end, his death may be the only sacrifice he has left to offer . . .

Andrew Huff's thrilling debut is not only a riveting story of suspense, it's also a deep exploration of the moral quandaries that face those who choose to follow the Prince of Peace in a violent world.

My review:

  This book sounded really good, but no offense intended....the publisher isn't known for great suspense authors or books. Those come from Nelson, Zondervan, Revell, etc. But it sounded really good....so I requested it to review.

  This has to be the best book Kregel ever published. Seriously. Talk about non stop action and an adrenaline rush from reading a book. It starts out with a televised execution being filmed live, and doesn't slow down until the last page, which is when I finally took a breath.

 A likable character is important, and the author came up with a great and very likable character in John Cross. Former assassin for the CIA, and now a pastor of a small country church where he tries to atone for his past. Huff did an excellent job on portraying the struggle of not going back into that life as his past caught up with him and temptations to give into the old killing urges came up in him.

 The book is unapologetically Christian, while also being one of the most intense suspense novels I have read for a while. It was full of twists and turns intertwined with Biblical truths.

 I have found the Christian fiction market to be extremely geared towards women. Books that are for men, or at least geared more towards men, seem to be a rarity. This book is one of those rarities. Sure, women are going to enjoy it, but this is definitely a book you can buy for the male readers in your life. They will not be disappointed, and may even let you read it after they finish it.

 Huff pulled off some great accomplishments with this book:
1)  He published a debut novel that should shoot him to the top of a lot of reader's favorite authors (including me!)

2)  He wrote a totally awesome suspense novel that is intense, action filled, and totally Christian, and that will thrill and interest both men and women.

3) And he pulled it off with a publisher not necessarily known for putting out this kind of award winning fiction. (Well, it is guaranteed to win awards.)

  Seriously, people....I don't exaggerate. This is one of the most awesome suspense novels I have read for a long time.... and I have read some great ones. I definitely recommend it, and am looking forward to reading the other two books in this series from this new and very talented author.


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

About the author:


Andrew Huff spent 10 years in local church ministry before pursuing God’s calling into creative storytelling and media production as the Product Director at Igniter Media, a church media company (ignitermedia.com). He is a two-time finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Contest for unpublished authors (2014 & 2017) and also won the Best Screenplay award at the 2015 48 Hour Film Festival in Richmond, VA.

Andrew holds a Bachelor of Science in Religion degree from Liberty University and a Master of Arts in Christian Education from Dallas Theological Seminary. He resides in North Texas with his beautiful wife Jae and their two boys.

Learn more at andrewhuffbooks.com.
Facebook (@huffwrites)
Twitter (@andrewjohnhuff)

Read an excerpt here.

Giveaway:

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