Saturday, May 19, 2018

No Less Days by Amanda Stevens

Book description:

David Galloway can’t die.

How many lifetimes can God expect one man to live? Over a century old, David Galloway isolates himself from the mortal humans who die or desert him by making a quiet life as a used bookstore owner in Northern Michigan. But then he spots a news article about a man who, like him, should be dead.

Daredevil celebrity Zachary Wilson walked away unscathed from what should have been a deadly fall. David tracks the man down, needing answers. Soon David discovers a close-knit group of individuals as old as he is who offer the sort of kinship and community he hasn’t experienced for decades—but at what cost?  

David finds himself keeping secrets other than his own. . .protecting more than himself alone. He’ll have to decide what’s worth the most to him—security or community. When crimes come to light that are older than any mortal, he fears the pressure is more than he can stand. What does God require of him, and is David strong enough to see it through?

My review:

  It isn't every day I read a Christian novel that has immortal people in it. The book sounded intriguing, and I had read a book by the author before that I liked....so I requested it.

 The book was different, and that is an understatement. And I really enjoyed it. An author's characters can make or break a story, and Stevens did a great job on creating unique and likable characters. David and Zach especially made the story.

 In addition to the entertaining and inspirational aspects of the story, Stevens did a great job portraying what life might be like for an immortal person and the challenges they may face.

 This was a fast and entertaining read that I enjoyed even more than I expected to. Stevens has come up with a very unique book for the Christian market that is definitely worth reading.

 This book was given to me in exchange for my honest review.

About the author:


As a child, Amanda G. Stevens disparaged Mary Poppins and Stuart Little because they could never happen. Now, she writes speculative fiction. She is the author of the Haven Seekers series, and her debut Seek and Hide was a 2015 INSPY Award finalist. She lives in Michigan and loves trade paperbacks, folk music, the Golden Era of Hollywood, and white cheddar popcorn.


No Less Days is available from Shiloh Run Press, an imprint of Barbour Books.

Thanks to Barbour for the review copy.

Send Down the Rain by Charles Martin

My review:

Allie's second husband is killed tragically when his 18-wheeler crashes into the rocks near their home in Cape San Blas--the tanker was full of fuel and the explosion could be seen on overhead satellites. She'd already lost the beloved waterfront restaurant her parents started and now losing her husband, no matter how unfulfilling their marriage was, might just push her over the edge.

Joseph's time in Vietnam left him with scars that never seemed to heal. No matter how he's tried to love or what he's tried to do since then, he can't pull himself out of the wreckage of his former life. His trust and security shaken, he isolates himself in a cabin. But every morning, he faithfully pours two cups of coffee, drinking his while he sits with the second, and then pouring out the full cup.

It's no small coincidence that Joseph found a mother and her two young children lost in the woods near his cabin. Or that when he helps them return to family in Florida, he's near enough to see that explosion. Near enough to know it's close to home. Near enough to know that his childhood sweetheart needs him.

The years have built so much distance between them, but it's the secrets that may be their final undoing. Send Down the Rain reminds us of the beauty of truth . . . and the power of love to wash away the past.

My review:

 Charles Martin is a master storyteller. Every time I think he has written his best novel, he writes another that is even better. And this book.....wow.

 Martin always comes up with some great characters, and this book was no different. At the heart of the story is Joseph, returned soldier now 62 years old. He lost the love of his wife to his older brother, who destroyed the marriage. He lives alone, but can't help protecting and helping people.

 This book, though fictional, is a powerful story of love and forgiveness. The climax of the story happens in a courtroom. Martin has a way of throwing a curve ball the reader never saw coming, and there was a major curve ball. I am not ashamed to admit I cry in books and movies, and man did that part of the book do me in. Maybe it was foolish on my part, but I just read that part of  the book again til the end and had tears streaming down my face.

 Martin's books are rarely overtly Christian, but this amazing story shows the love and forgiveness God offers all of us.

 It also shows it is never too late for any of us. Most books of this type are centered on people in their 20's and 30's, not 60's.

 This is a story of 2 brothers, and of one that was wronged by the other in ways that are unfathomable...yet forgiveness and a total lack of hate was there. It also shows that love truly can conquer all, and there is no greater sacrifice than to sacrifice one's life, or reputation for another. This is truly an awesome read.

 This book was given to me in exchange for my honest review.

About the author (in his own words):


I grew up in Jacksonville, Florida on the St. John’s River.  Somewhat of a Huck Finn childhood.  Most afternoons were spent mullet fishing—of which I’ve caught my fair share, canoeing, pegging cars with overripe tangerines—it really got fun when the red tail lights lit and the reverse gears ground metal on metal, or the backyard Superbowl which we replayed most everyday.  Through high school, football was my life.  School was the avenue that allowed me to play.  I walked on at Georgia Tech in 1999 and played one year under Bobby Ross.  “Played” might be a bit too liberal use of the term.  I dressed out for the games and served as a tackling dummy until I got hurt, cracking a vertebrae in my back and they carried me off.  Transferred to Florida State and tried to become a student.  As an escape, I starting racing bicycles up and down the east coast.  Not very good, but it allowed me an outlet.  Eventually landed in the English department after escaping Accounting with a ‘D.’  I was de-lighted.  After graduation, I moved to Atlanta and started waiting tables at Houston’s Restaurant so I could save up money to buy a ring.  Christy and I married in 1993, we drove to Virginia Beach, where she put me through Grad school.  When I wasn’t in class, I worked the morning preload for Ma’ Brown.  (UPS).  Went to work at 2 or 3 am, and clocked out about 9 am.  Didn’t get much sleep for almost 3 years.  In 1997, we got pregnant with Charlie and returned to Jacksonville—so our kids could grow up around our families.  When not a single educational institution in Jacksonville would hire me (including my alma mater, Bolles High School), my brother-in-law had mercy on me and gave me a job selling insurance.  2 years passed and to make a real long story short, a fortune 500 company offered me a VP’s position with a 6-figure salary, 6-figure signing bonus, etc.  I turned them down, resigned from the insurance agency, began pressure washing, building docks, etc., and began trying to sell my novel—what is now The Dead Don’t Dance.  That was 8 years ago.  ‘Where the River Ends” is my 6th novel.


Check out his website: CharlesMartinBooks.com.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Storm Front, Montana Rescue #5

Book description:

Life and love hang in the balance during a deadly summer of storms.

A tornado has destroyed a small Minnesota community, and among the missing are not only a group of students but also PEAK Rescue team leader Chet King. Ty Remington will stop at nothing to rescue his mentor, not even when the girl he loved--and lost--walks back into his life. But Brette needs his help more than he knows, despite her stubborn determination to push him away. And when he gets a second chance, loving her just might cost him more than he can imagine.

A blogger for Vortex Storm Chasers, Brette Arnold didn't expect her adventures to land her in the same place as Ty, the guy who she walked--no, ran--from over a year ago. She had her reasons--good ones. The kind that tell her that falling for him again would only lead to heartache. But Ty isn't the kind of man to give up--not on the missing students or on her.

My review:

 I'll be honest..... I haven't read a Susan May Warren book in years. Her books are usually more romance, and I rarely read romance....just romantic suspense. However, this book sounded really good, so I requested it.

 It came, and I discovered it was #5 in a series. I started reading it on my lunch break at work, and read more on my second break. I texted my sister who loves Warren's books and asked if she had the rest of the series....she has 1-3. I texted her this morning "this book is awesome!"

 And it is. There were enough references made in the book that I know I should have read the first 4 books before this one, but I don't think it messed me up too much with knowing the characters and what was going on.

 The characters....I have to hand it to Warren. She came up with a terrific cast of characters for this series. This book centered on two somewhat broken characters, which may be another reason I loved this book so much.

 First,  there is Ty. He wants to save everyone, but feels he is the most useless member of the rescue team because of a past mistake.

 And Brette...cancer survivor of a double mastectomy..... not your typical heroine in a romance novel.

  The story was very suspenseful..... not in the bad guy/mystery way, but in the way you were on pins and needles as rescue attempts were made and you wondered if the missing kids would ever be found.

 Along the way, lessons on trusting God came through for all of the characters, but especially for the two broken main characters.

 I really got into the book, and at one very climatic moment, found my eyes "watering". A co-worker came by my table where I was on break. and goes "are you crying?!" I explained what happened in the book, and he admits he cries in movies...... so I didn't feel so bad.

 This truly was an amazing read that not only entertained, but also had some great messages in it about our Christian walk and trusting God. It ended with a very suspenseful moment setting up for book 6.

And yes, I  am going to read  the first four books in this great series.

About the author:


Susan May Warren is the USA Today bestselling author of over fifty novels with more than 1 million books sold, including Wild Montana Skies, Rescue Me, A Matter of Trust, Troubled Waters, and Storm Front. Winner of a RITA Award and multiple Christy and Carol Awards, as well as the HOLT Medallion and numerous Readers' Choice Awards, Susan has written contemporary and historical romances, romantic suspense, thrillers, romantic comedy, and novellas. She makes her home in Minnesota. Find her online at www.susanmaywarren.com, on Facebook at Susan May Warren Fiction, and on Twitter @susanmaywarren.

Storm Front is available from Revell, part of the Baker Publishing Group.

Thanks to Revell for the review copy.

Blind Betrayal, Defenders of Justice #3 by Nancy Mehl

Book description:

After two years at the St. Louis U.S. Marshals Office, Casey Sloane is tasked with escorting a reporter to Washington to testify before a grand jury. The reporter's research on an up-and-coming environmentalist who suddenly disappeared is now even more vital than anticipated.

At first, Casey's assignment seems routine. But a dangerous attack on the Marshals Office puts everyone on high alert. When Casey and two other Marshals--one a man from her past--are forced on the run with the reporter, they'll do whatever it takes to protect their witness and make it out alive.

My review: 

 Nancy Mehl has found her niche in Christian suspense, and has risen in my list of authors I like to read. I have enjoyed everything I have read by her, but find this series to be her best. I have respect for law enforcement, but have always found the U.S. Marshals particularly fascinating.... and this series is about the Marshals.

 Blind Betrayal had non-stop action and suspense, and I had trouble figuring out what was going to happen next. I liked the characters in the book, and it was refreshing to not have a boy meets girl romance. Instead, the two main characters had previously worked together and didn't fall in love at first sight.

 This was a book I made the mistake of starting on my lunch break at work. It was difficult to put the book down and go back to work, and I picked it up again as soon as I got home. It is a definite page turner, and left me wanting more.... but I am guessing this is the last book in the series. If it is, it is definitely the best and most suspenseful.

About the author:


Nancy Mehl (www.nancymehl.com) is the author of more than thirty books, including the Road to Kingdom, Finding Sanctuary, and Defenders of Justice series. She received the ACFW Mystery Book of the Year Award in 2009. She has a background in social work and is a member of ACFW and RWA. She writes from her home in Missouri, where she lives with her husband, Norman, and their Puggle, Watson. She is part of The Suspense Sisters: www.suspensesisters.blogspot.com, along with several other popular suspense authors. She is also very active on Facebook.

Blind Betrayal is available from Bethany House, part of the Baker Publishing Group.

Thanks to Bethany House for the review copy.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Classic Hymns by B&H Editorial Staff

Book description:

This next installment in the Read and Reflect series will dive into the lyrics of classic Christian hymns, and give the reader reflection questions, bible study questions, and prayer prompts based around the lyrics.

My review:

  This book got lost in the shuffle, and I just realized today I had never posted the review..... so here it is, late.

  There are all kinds of Christian songs/music out there, but I personally feel nothing written today has the depth of the hymns. This book is a devotional using 90 hymns.

 Each devotional in the book begins with the author and composer of the hymn and its music. That is followed by the lyrics to the hymn, a few Bible study questions, a few personal reflection questions, and a short prayer.

 As I understand it, this book was written by the Broadman and Holman Editorial staff and edited by Lore Ferguson Wilbert. They did an excellent job on the book. The selection of hymns is very wide and varied, with many I know well and some that are not familiar to me. The Bible study and personal reflection questions are very insightful and geared to make the reader truly think and study, instead of just quickly reading and moving on.

 It is different from most devotionals in that way. Most have the thoughts of the author or authors, whereas this one has the reader come up with their own thoughts.

I found the book to be very well done, and a useful tool to use. It helps draw insight from hymns, and also brings the old hymns back to mind.

 Classic Hymns is available from Broadman and Holman Publishing.

Thanks to Broadman and Holman for the review copy.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Kremlin Conspiracy by Joel Rosenberg

Book description:


New York Times bestselling author Joel C. Rosenberg returns with a high-stakes political thriller set in Russia.

Everything he learned to protect the president, he must use to take out theirs.

With an American president distracted by growing tensions in North Korea and Iran, an ominous new threat is emerging in Moscow. A czar is rising in the Kremlin, a Russian president feverishly consolidating power, silencing his opposition, and plotting a brazen and lightning-fast military strike that could rupture the NATO alliance and bring Washington and Moscow to the brink of nuclear war. But in his blind spot is the former U.S. Secret Service agent, Marcus Ryker, trained to protect but ready to kill to save his country

My review:

Joel Rosenberg is an amazing author, and I have enjoyed every one of his books I have read. He usually writes books that center on Israel, but this one was about Russia.... and no less of a great story than his normal fare.

  Rosenberg came up with a great main character in Marcus Ryker, and wove a great story around him and the Russian characters he created. He was a very likable character, and it gave a fascinating look into the life of a Secret Service agent.  As with his other books, there are some pretty scary scenarios in the book that you hope never happen, but know they very well could happen.

 I learned a lot by reading this book. I learned about Russian-American relations, relations Russia has with countries near it, and about Russian government. That isn't to say the book is boring or hard to get into. It is not. It is extremely interesting with a lot of intrigue and suspense that made me want to keep reading instead of laying the book down when I needed to.

 Rosenberg did do something in his book I did not see coming, and ticked me off a bit at him.....you'll have to read the book to see what that was. I was afraid he'd kill off the main character like in his last book, but - slight spoiler here - he lets that up in the air. Literally.

 This was truly an awesome read that was entertaining while also being sobering. Though fictional, the book does show how tenuous relations are between Russia and  the US, and how bad things could get if those relations become strained.

About the author:


Joel C. Rosenberg is the founder of The Joshua Fund and the New York Times best-selling author of THE LAST JIHAD (2002), THE LAST DAYS (2003), THE EZEKIEL OPTION (2005), THE COPPER SCROLL (2006), EPICENTER (2006) and DEAD HEAT (2008) with more than 1.5 million copies in print. THE EZEKIEL OPTION was named by the ECPA as the Gold Medallion winner of the "Best Novel of 2006." Joel, an evangelical Christian whose mother is Gentile and whose father is from an Orthodox Jewish background, previously worked with several U.S. and Israeli leaders, including Steve Forbes, former Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Natan Sharansky, and former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He has been interviewed on hundreds of radio and TV shows.

He and his wife have four sons and live near Washington, DC.

The Kremlin Conspiracy is available from Tyndale House Publishing.

Thanks to Tyndale for the review copy.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Vines Expository Bible

Description:

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.