Saturday, September 15, 2018

Healing the Scars of Addiction by Gregory L Jantz, Ph D

Book description:

The wreckage of addiction lies scattered around too many people--from the one who is or was addicted to those in relationship with that person. Age-old culprits of drugs, alcohol, and gambling are joined by newer addictions, such as food, prescription medication, shopping, pornography, and technology. Left unaddressed, addiction devastates lives now and makes it difficult to see a positive way forward.

For anyone struggling with an addiction, attempting to live in recovery, or seeking to understand the mind of an addict they love, Dr. Jantz's newest book is a lifeline. In it he helps readers answer tough questions, such as

- Am I an addict?
- Why is the first step so hard?
- How can I put my life back together?
- Where do I go from here?

Addiction doesn't have to have the last word. Healing the Scars of Addiction offers a holistic approach to healing so that readers can reclaim their lives and move forward in hope.
 


My review:

   It is all too easy to get addicted to a multitude of things today, but it can be really difficult to get rid of those same addictions. I am a firm believer in prayer and God's help, but these things are still hard to battle, so it is good to have books out there on issues one struggles with to get some additional help and advice.


 I have read and reviewed other books along the lines of this one, but I found this one to do a better job than most. The author seems to really know his "stuff", and approaches it from both a professional and compassionate standpoint.

 Among other things, the book addresses how and why addictions can happen, then goes on to the how's of getting rid of an addiction.

 I found the book very well written, and containing a lot of helpful material and advice for those battling addictions.

About the author:


Gregory L. Jantz, PhD, is a popular speaker and award-winning author of many books, including Healing the Scars of Emotional Abuse, Healing the Scars of Childhood Abuse, and Overcoming Anxiety, Worry, and Fear. He is the founder of The Center • A Place of Hope (www.aplaceofhope.com) in Washington state. Learn more at www.drgregoryjantz.com.

Healing the Scars of Addiction is available from Revell Publishing, part of the Baker Publishing Group.

Thanks to Revell for the review copy.
  

The Crescent Stone, Sunlit Lands #1 by Matt Mikalatos

Book description:


A girl with a deadly lung disease . . .
A boy with a tragic past . . .
A land where the sun never sets but darkness still creeps in . . . 

Madeline Oliver has never wanted for anything, but now she would give anything just to breathe. Jason Wu skates through life on jokes, but when a tragedy leaves him guilt-stricken, he promises to tell only the truth, no matter the price. When a mysterious stranger name Hanali appears to Madeline and offers to heal her in exchange for one year of service to his people, Madeline and Jason are swept into a strange land where they don’t know the rules and where their decisions carry consequences that reach farther than they could ever guess.



My review:
  I'll admit this book sounded a bit weird to me, but I requested it because it also sounded interesting. And it is a bit weird, but a good weird.

 This is a fantasy novel written for teens, but I have found that books written for teens can be very enjoyable reads, and this one definitely was. I would put this book in the category of the Chronicles of Narnia. As with the Narnia books, one can spend too much time trying to find spiritual applications and allegorical truths where there are none. I simply read the book, and enjoyed it.

 That is not to say there are not truths and lessons to be learned and gained from reading the book. There definitely are....such as Jason's intense determination to always tell the truth, no matter what.

 The author came up with a great imaginary land to set his book in, along with a vast array of people and races that are in that land. Then he tossed two human teenagers into that land who had no clue as to the rules and what was really going on in that land. There were indeed many surprises in the book, and not is as it seems in the Sunlit Lands.

 The Chinese teen Jason absolutely made the book. Madeline is intended to be the main character, but the book would not have been nearly as entertaining and interesting without his antics. With his determination to tell the truth no matter what, coupled with his reckless habit of doing and saying the wrong thing at the worse times made me laugh out loud often while I was reading. He may be one of the funniest characters I have ever run across in all of my years of reading. I loved his antics and his fierce loyalty and determination to his friends.

 I would not call this a Christian book in the terms of the ones I usually read, but it is a great clean fantasy novel that has Biblical truths and lessons throughout it. I am hooked, and am looking forward to the next book in the series. This is a fantasy novel that stands above most I have read.

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

About the author:


Matt Mikalatos writes books (surprise!). In the past, Matt worked as a high school teacher and a comic book clerk, but currently focuses on nonprofit work devoted to helping people love one another despite their differences. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife, three daughters, two unicorns, a gryphon, a dragon, and three brine shrimp.


The Crescent Stone is available from Tyndale Publishing.

Thanks to Tyndale for the review copy.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Less Than Perfect: Broken Men and Women of the Bible and What We Can Learn from Them by Ann Spangler

Book description:

What can the Bible’s most flawed men and women reveal about who God is and how he reaches out to less-than-perfect people? In Less Than Perfect, bestselling author Ann Spangler takes us beyond cardboard cutouts of 38 biblical characters to show us how these were real individuals who had dreams, temptations, and weaknesses just like us.

Whether considering the murderous Herodias, the scheming Jacob, or the doubting Sarah, Spangler approaches both familiar and lesser known characters with fresh eyes. We meet each of these individuals again as if for the first time as Spangler offers a dramatic retelling of their lives, insight into the historical and cultural context of their time, and key takeaway points for our lives today. Each chapter includes questions for discussion or reflection, making Less Than Perfect ideal for individual or group Bible study.

Entertaining, informative, and inspirational, Less Than Perfect gives you a big picture view of the Bible even as it takes you into the hearts and minds of people with struggles just like yours. As you learn more about the individuals who are part of your spiritual family tree, you’ll discover why God loves to use imperfect people to tell his perfect story of redemption.

My review:

 I have read a few of Ann Spangler's books, and also have the Names of God Bible which she was the editor for. I have been impressed with what she has written, and really enjoy the Bible. When I saw this book for review, I knew it was worth reviewing.

 I am honest in my reviews, so I will admit I don't like the cover of the book very well. This was a case of not judging the book by its cover. Had I not read books by the author before, I may have passed....which would have been a mistake.

 The book covers 30 people from the Bible, some good and some bad. Delilah and Jezebel are covered, and also people like David and Mary Magdalene.

 Each chapter is a different Bible character, and starts out with at least one verse about the character. The author then relates the story of  the person, with Bible verses on the side throughout. Next is the "Times" section. It gives the approximate dates of the story, and where in the Bible it appears. It also gives some details about the setting and customs of that time.

 The Times section is followed by the "Take Away". It consists of some questions about the story, and some are personal questions to do with the reader based on the story.

 This is a great and interesting book that shows what Bible characters did wrong, and how we can learn from their mistakes and lives. It would make a great Bible study for a group, or even a 30-day devotional. It is well written, and the author brought out a lot of interesting points and questions.

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

About the author:


Ann Spangler is an award-winning author, publishing her first book, an instant bestseller, in 1994. Since then, she has gone on to write several bestselling books, including Women of the Bible (co-authored with Jean Syswerda), Praying the Names of God, Praying the Names of Jesus, and Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus (co-authored with Lois Tverberg). Her latest book is Praying the Attributes of God. Together her books have sold millions of copies.

In 2013 she was named the Logos Bookstore Author of the Year, an award given to an author "whose body of works exemplifies the power of books to change lives forever."

By paying attention to the spiritual and emotional hungers that animate us and by finding creative ways to explore God's self-revelation in Scripture, her writing surprises by revealing a God who is often far bigger and better than we might imagine.

In addition to writing, Ann has enjoyed a lengthy career in Christian publishing, working for William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Servant Publications, and Zondervan Publishing in marketing, editorial, and management roles. Her broad experience in publishing has convinced her that readers are looking for well-written books that explore the connection between spiritual experience and everyday life, books that both engage the mind and strengthen the heart.


Less Than Perfect is available from Zondervan Publishing.

Do Angels Really Have Wings? by writers from Today In the Word

Book description:

Do Christians, Jews, and Muslims all pray to the same God? Is it okay to be mad at God? Did Adam have a belly button?

We all have questions, even if we don't know how to find answers. Over the last 30 years, Today in the Word from the Moody Bible Institute has taken questions from people all around the world and published a few of them each month with answers from reliable Bible experts. Do Angels Really Have Wings? is a collection of the most repeated, most intriguing questions (with a few lighthearted ones too). These questions are then answered by trusted Christian voices like Don Cole, Mike Kellogg, and Rosalie de Rosset. Whether you're curious about Christianity or have been in the church since you were in diapers, this book is a great place to start exploring some of your own questions about God, life, and the Bible.


My review:

  I thought this sounded like an interesting book to review, and I was right. There are 200 questions in all, from serious ones on sexuality and dating, to not so serious ones like "did Adam have a belly button?"

 The book is not just an interesting read, but also a fun read. It is a great book to read a page or two, and then pick it up for a few minutes later. I found the answers well thought out, though I didn't always agree 100% because of theological differences, such as predestination....so if you read the book, keep in mind that though the book is interesting and fun, you may have some differences with the answers to some of the questions.

 I did enjoy the more fun questions, and as long as I have been around the church, there were some things asked that I did find the answers helpful....so I definitely recommend the book.



Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity by Nabeel Qureshi

   Book description:


  In Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, now expanded with new bonus content, Nabeel Qureshi describes his dramatic journey from Islam to Christianity, complete with friendships, investigations, and supernatural dreams along the way.

Providing an intimate window into a loving Muslim home, Qureshi shares how he developed a passion for Islam before discovering, almost against his will, evidence that Jesus rose from the dead and claimed to be God. Unable to deny the arguments but not wanting to deny his family, Qureshi struggled with an inner turmoil that will challenge Christians, Muslims, and all those who are interested in the world’s greatest religions.

Engaging and thought-provoking, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus tells a powerful story of the clash between Islam and Christianity in one man’s heart--and of the peace he eventually found in Jesus.

The New York Times bestselling Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus has been expanded to include:

A revised foreword and introduction
A new afterword by Mark Mittelberg and reflection by Nabeel's wife
A substantially extended epilogue that shares how Nabeel told his friend David of his decision to follow Christ, how his parents found out, and much more
Expert contributions from scholars and ministry leaders on each section of the book, contributions previously included only in the ebook edition
An appendix with a topical table of contents (for teaching from Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus)
An appendix tackling the objection that Ahmadi Muslims are not true Muslims
And a sneak peek prologue from Nabeel’s book, No God but One: Allah or Jesus?

My review:

  I have read a few books about/by Muslims who converted to Christianity, but this is the best I have read, and is likely the best that has been written.

  This is an amazing story, and very well written. The author tells a lot about his childhood and what it was like to grow up Muslim, and what it was like to be a Muslim in America on and after 911. He gives an interesting look at not only the teachings of Muslim, but how steeped they are in their beliefs and what it means for a Muslim to leave their faith and become a Christian.

 Slight spoiler: I found it fascinating how dreams were used by God to bring Nabeel to the Christian faith, and have read that it is fairly common for Muslims who have become Christians.

 One thing that really stood out to me in the book, was Nabeel's Christian friend David. There were four friends who hung out at college: David the Christian, Nabeel the Muslim, a Hindu, and an atheist.......and all 3 of the non-Christians came to Christ, largely because of the influence of David.

 I did previously read the original book, and I found the added content very interesting. Of all the extra content, I especially found the part where it relayed how Nabeel told David of his decision to become a Christian, and of how his parents found out about it.

 It is sad Nabeel left this earth at such a young life. God was truly using him, but his story and legacy will live on.

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

About the author:


Nabeel Qureshi was the author of the New York Times bestsellers No God But One and Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, the only book ever to win Christian Book Awards for both "Best New Author" and "Best Nonfiction." Nabeel was an accomplished global speaker and held an MD from Eastern Virginia Medical School, an MA in Christian apologetics from Biola University, an MA in religion from Duke University, and an MPhil in Judaism and Christianity from Oxford University.

Raised as a devout Muslim in the United States, Nabeel grew up studying Islamic apologetics with his family and engaging Christians in religious discussions. After one such discussion with a Christian, the two became friends and began a years-long debate on the historical claims of Christianity and Islam. Nabeel chronicled his resulting journey in his first book, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus.

Throughout his years of ministry, Nabeel lectured to students at more than 100 universities, including Oxford, Columbia, Dartmouth, Cornell, Johns Hopkins, and the University of Hong Kong. He participated in 18 moderated, public debates around North America, Europe, and Asia. Christianity Today heralded Nabeel as one of “33 Under 33” in its cover story on emerging religion leaders in July 2014.

Other works of Nabeel's include Answering Jihad—a balanced examination of jihad, the rise of ISIS, and Islamic terrorism—and the Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus Video Study, which goes deeper into the apologetics that led Nabeel himself to Christ.

Following a year-long battle with stomach cancer, heaven welcomed Nabeel home on September 16, 2017. He leaves behind his wife and young daughter who aspire to honor the ministerial legacy Nabeel established during his brief 34 years on earth.


Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus is available from Zondervan Publishing.

Thanks to Zondervan for the review copy.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Lethal Legacy by Carol Post

Book description:


Someone wants her family secrets buried. He's her only chance to survive. Andrea Wheaton thought her parents' tragic deaths were accidental--until she's attacked during a burglary at their home. Now she's also being targeted. Her ex-sweetheart Sheriff Deputy Bryce Caldwell insists on protecting her, though she refuses to trust him again. But with a killer closing in, can she and Bryce uncover her family's secrets before it's too late for them both?

My review: 

  There are way too many books in the Love Inspired Suspense line to keep up with, but I have been reading more of them lately than I used to. This author is one reason for that. Back in November of 2016, she emailed me and asked me if I would review her new book at that time. Since then, I have reviewed a few other books, all of them suspense books in this line with the exception of one, and I have enjoyed every one.

 So I was happy to get an email from her recently to review Lethal Legacy, the newest book from her. This book is the second book in a mini series by her, and follows Fatal Recall, the last book I reviewed for her.

 This book launches right into the action and suspense within the first few pages, and brings back one of the characters from the previous book, Deputy Bryce Caldwell. From that point, the rest of the book is him trying to protect his next door neighbor, his ex-girlfriend, from danger from an unknown source. The book also brings back two other characters from the previous book, as they attempt to help protect their friend's attractive neighbor.

 With books like these, you know the guy is going to get the girl by the end of the book. That is a given, but it is still fun reading what leads up to that point, and the author did a great job of doing that. I love suspense, and there was a ton of it in this book. The reader is kept guessing as to who is after Andrea, and why. It wasn't easy to predict what was coming next, and it did keep me on the edge of my seat as the suspense built to the great ending.

 Forgiveness is a topic often dealt with in Christian fiction, and it was a topic in this book. Maybe we hear it often because we need to hear it often.

 This was a great suspenseful and Christian read the author can be proud of. I am hoping she has one more book to go with these two.

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

About the author:


From medical secretary to court reporter to property manager to owner of a special events decorating company, Carol's résumé reads as if she doesn't know what she wants to be when she grows up. But one thing that has remained constant through the years is her love for writing. She started as a child writing poetry for family and friends, then graduated to articles and finally novels.

Carol lives in sunshiny Central Florida and writes fun and fast-paced inspirational romance and romantic suspense. Her books have received a 2016 Royal Palm Literary Award and been nominated for a 2016 RITA® award and a 2014 RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Book Award. She is also a popular speaker, presenting workshops on a variety of craft topics. Besides writing, she enjoys sailing, hiking, camping—almost anything outdoors. Her two grown daughters and grandkids live too far away for her liking, so she now pours all that nurturing into taking care of a fat and sassy black cat and a highly-spoiled dachshund.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Thirst of Steel, The Tox Files #3 by Ronie Kendig

Book description:

The Final Conflict Will Hinge on One of History's Most Dangerous Blades

Dismantled centuries ago, the sword of Goliath is still rumored to thirst for its enemies' blood. Cole "Tox" Russell wants only to put the dangers of his past behind him and begin his new life with Haven Cortes. First, though, he's called to complete a final mission: retrieve the sword and destroy the deadly Arrow & Flame Order.

The AFO, however, is determined to reunite the sword. Threatening the life of Ram and Tzivia's father, they jeopardize Ram's long-held and dangerous secret while demanding Tzivia locate the blade. With the Wraith team slowly being torn apart, things worsen when Mercy Maddox, a new operative, emerges with the stunning news that the artifact is tied to both Ram's secret and a string of unsolved serial murders.

Tox, Ram, and the others are forced to set aside fear and anger to target the true enemy. No matter the cost, Wraith must destroy the AFO . . . or join them in the flames. 

My review:

  Ronie Kendig is one of those authors who just keeps getting better, and this series has got to be her best. She took a different turn in this series than in her other military fiction, and added a supernatural aspect.

 In this, the 3rd and final book in the series, the sword of Goliath is being searched for. The bad guys want it for evil purposes, and the good guys want it to stop the bad guys.

 This book had a lot going on in it. Thankfully, the author noted every time the book switched locations, as it took you all over the place, though mainly in Russia and the USA.

  I was sad to see the series end, but it did end with the best book of the series. There seemed to be even more action and suspense than the other, and there were a few surprises. I wondered for the first part of the book why the main character, Tox, was not making an appearance. Then I found out why, and I did not see that coming.

 This book focused more on Ram than the others did. Cole (Tox) was still the main character, but Ram played as much of a part as he did in the book.

 I saw a comment about the book where a reviewer said "how could you?!" to the author, so I was expecting someone to die....and I was correct in who I pegged was going to die. It was sad, but it was also an awesome scene that I had to re-read a few times after I finished the book. I am a guy, but yes....it effected me emotionally.... and I'll leave it at that. :)

 Kendig is a favorite author of mine, but I don't say this lightly: I was honestly wowed at the intricate plot she wove.... the curse, the sword, the history she used.....it truly was an amazing plot. I found myself thinking more than once "how on earth did she come up with THAT?!" She showed as usual that it is possible to write great military/special OPs books and keep it clean and curse free.....and I really admire that.

 The romance angle was played out more in this book, and it involved one of the surprises in the book...one that is revealed fairly early.

 Even with the sad emotional part I mentioned before, the book had a terrific ending, and I had that satisfied feeling one has when they read a great novel that does more than entertain....it pulls you into the story and won't let you go.

 Great job, Mrs Kendig. You are a definite asset to the Christian fiction market.

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

About the author:


Ronie Kendig 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. Visit her at www.roniekendig.com.

Thirst of Steel is available from Bethany House Publishers.