Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Man He Never Was: A Modern Reimagining of Jekyll and Hyde by James Rubart

Book description:

What if You Woke up One Morning and the Darkest Parts of Yourself Were Gone?

Toren Daniels vanished eight months back, and his wife and kids have moved on--with more than a little relief. Toren was a good man but carried a raging temper that often exploded without warning. So when he shows up on their doorstep out of the blue, they're shocked to see him alive. But more shocked to see he's changed. Radically.

His anger is gone. He's oddly patient. Kind. Fun. The man he always wanted to be. Toren has no clue where he's been but knows he's been utterly transformed. He focuses on three things: Finding out where he's been. Finding out how it happened. And winning back his family.

But then shards of his old self start to rise from deep inside--like the man kicked out of the NFL for his fury--and Toren must face the supreme battle of his life.

In this fresh take on the classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, James L. Rubart explores the war between the good and evil within each of us--and one man's only chance to overcome the greatest divide of the soul.

My review:
 James Rubart is an author who doesn't have a lot of books out yet - I think this is his 9th - but they are all amazing and different reads. You don't get the run of the mill book. This one is no departure from his usual fare.

 I was intrigued by the idea of a modern retelling of the classic Jekyll and Hyde story, and he did not disappoint. As with all of his books, this one had a supernatural aspect that only made the book more of an enjoyable read.

 The classic story is mentioned in the book, and the main character has to fight his bad side which is referred to as Hyde. Ultimately, it comes down to Toren totally believing in and embracing God's love for him, and he in turn totally loving his family unselfishly.

 I loved the book, and it really makes the reader think. The plot was great, and Rubart again came up with a terrific cast of characters, not the least of them, Toren, the man battling his own self. Although the book and story are fictional, there is a lot of great insight and spiritual truth throughout the book. I definitely recommend it.

About the author:

James L. Rubart is a 28 year old trapped in an older man's body, who loves to water ski and dirt bike with his two grown sons. He's the bestselling, Christy, Carol, INSPY, and RT award winning author of eight novels, including his latest, The Long Journey to Jake Palmer. He lives with his amazing wife on a small lake in eastern Washington.

The Man He Never Was is available from Thomas Nelson Publishing.

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for the review copy.

The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers

Book description:

New York Times bestselling author Francine Rivers returns to her romance roots with this unexpected and redemptive love story, a probing tale that reminds us that mercy can shape even the most broken among us into an imperfect yet stunning masterpiece.

A successful LA artist, Roman Velasco appears to have everything he could possibly want―money, women, fame. Only Grace Moore, his reluctant, newly hired personal assistant, knows how little he truly has. The demons of Roman’s past seem to echo through the halls of his empty mansion and out across his breathtaking Topanga Canyon view. But Grace doesn’t know how her boss secretly wrestles with those demons: by tagging buildings as the Bird, a notorious but unidentified graffiti artist―an alter ego that could destroy his career and land him in prison.

Like Roman, Grace is wrestling with ghosts and secrets of her own. After a disastrous marriage threw her life completely off course, she vowed never to let love steal her dreams again. But as she gets to know the enigmatic man behind the reputation, it’s as if the jagged pieces of both of their pasts slowly begin to fit together . . . until something so unexpected happens that it changes the course of their relationship―and both their lives―forever.

My review:

 They say you can't judge a book by its cover. You can however, often judge a book by its description. Ever since I read about this book, I have been eagerly looking forward to reading it. Francine Rivers is a great author who does not put books out as fast as other authors, and she never disappoints when she does come out with a new book.

 And what a book it is. The title is a very appropriate title for it: The Masterpiece, for it is indeed a masterpiece of writing. The book is long, coming in at 496 pages, and every page is worth reading. Rivers created two very hurt and flawed characters and spun a masterpiece of a story around them. That many pages leaves a lot of time and space for character development, and Rivers did just that. She goes back in time often into both of the two main characters' pasts to show what made them what they are when the book begins.....and they are great characters.

 Roman is not a very nice guy for much of the book, but you can't help but like him and cheer him on. Grace is the ideal Christian woman with a not so ideal past. You pretty much figure these very opposite people are going to end up together by the end of the book, but it is quite an amazing journey watching it happen.

 Roman is a well known painter, part of the reason for the title of the book. However, the title captures much more than that as Rivers takes the readers on his journey from a man who hates and does not believe in God, a womanizer who uses women for sex and tosses them aside, to a faithful man of God and a husband who honors his wife and his children.

This was truly an amazing read. I started it on my lunch break yesterday, read more on my second break, read it on my breaks at work today, and finished it at home this evening. I was not only entertained, but was inspired and moved by this fictional account that shows how God can change lives even of those who seem the most hopeless. Five out of five stars, hands down. A masterpiece indeed.

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

About the author:

New York Times bestselling author Francine Rivers continues to win both industry acclaim and reader loyalty around the globe. Her numerous bestsellers include Redeeming Love, A Voice in the Wind, and Bridge to Haven, and her work has been translated into more than thirty different languages. She is a member of Romance Writers of America's coveted Hall of Fame as well as a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). 
Twitter: @FrancineRivers

The Masterpiece is available from Tyndale Publishers.

Thanks to Tyndale for the review copy.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

All Things Bright and Strange by James Markert

Book Description

In the wake of World War I in the small, Southern town of Bellhaven, South Carolina, the town folk believe they’ve found a little slice of heaven in a mysterious chapel in the woods. But they soon realize that evil can come in the most beautiful of forms.

The people of Bellhaven have always looked to Ellsworth Newberry for guidance, but after losing his wife and his future as a professional pitcher, he is moments away from testing his mortality once and for all. Until he finally takes notice of the changes in his town . . . and the cardinals that have returned.

Upon the discovery of a small chapel deep in the Bellhaven woods, healing seems to fall upon the townspeople, bringing peace after several years of mourning. But as they visit the “healing floor” more frequently, the people begin to turn on one another, and the unusually tolerant town becomes anything but.

The cracks between the natural and supernatural begin to widen, and tensions rise. Before the town crumbles, Ellsworth must pull himself from the brink of suicide, overcome his demons, and face the truth of who he was born to be by leading the town into the woods to face the evil threatening Bellhaven.

Book review:

 I like to try out new authors, and this was a new one to me. I wasn't sure what to expect, but after reading it I would say it is similar to Frank Peretti's earlier books, yet different in many ways.

 I liked the plot, characters, and writing style. I found the book to be a little slow at first, but then it picked up and I had no trouble getting into it and enjoying the read. Writing about supernatural issues can be iffy, but I thought the author did a great job of portraying evil and the effect it can have on people.

 The Christian element in the book was challenging to figure out. There are a lot of churches in the town and several ministers and their people involved, and the main character leads the charge against the supernatural evil along with others, yet he and others are heavy drinkers, he smokes, and even has sex with a woman he is not married to.

 Other than those questionable things, the book was a fascinating read and showed how people can get caught up in something that may seem good, but is very evil and bad for them.

About the author:

James Markert is a novelist, screenwriter, producer, and USPTA tennis pro from Louisville, Kentucky, where he lives with his wife and two children. He has a history degree from the University of Louisville. He won an IPPY Award for The Requiem Rose, which later became A White Wind Blew. He is the writer and co-producer of the new feature film and tennis comedy, 2nd Serve, starring Josh Hopkins from Cougar Town.

All Things Bright and Strange is available from Thomas Nelson Publishing.

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for the review copy.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Kill Shot, White Knights #2 by Susan Sleeman

Book description:

Some fears haunt you …

When ballistics and weapons expert Rick Cannon learned the Department of Defense had developed self-steering bullets that show 100% accuracy and make even a gun novice a lethal sniper, he feared they would eventually end up in the wrong hands.

Until they become reality.

That fear comes true when a vet is killed with stolen “smart bullets.” Rick and his FBI task force, nicknamed The White Knights, are soon charged with finding and stopping the killer. Rick enlists the help of the victim’s therapist, Olivia Dobbs, who is well known for her success in counseling military vets with PTSD. But when the killer sets his sights on their key witness, Rick must rely on the skills he learned as a Marine sniper to make sure the next bullet fired isn’t a
kill shot to take Olivia out.

My review:

  I won a Love Inspired Suspense novel by Susan Sleeman a few years ago, and really enjoyed it. I was happy to see she was starting a trade paperback series, and read and reviewed the first book in this series, Fatal Mistake....which I liked even better than the other book I had read by her.

 And now I am reviewing the second book in the White Knights Series. I like series where an author keeps the same main cast of characters, centering on a different character each book. In this case, each book is about a different member of a special FBI team. I read and reviewed Fatal Mistake back in May, so it is not fresh on my mind, but I still think this was an even better read than the first.

 One has to keep in mind this book is fiction. However, I still found the plot fascinating and enjoyed reading about snipers and enjoyed seeing how these fictional FBI agents tracked down the killers. I liked the characters, the FBI team already having been in the first book, but I also liked the heroine of the story, and found the psychiatrist angle and talk interesting.

 The book shows how easy it is to let the past bind us and keep us from being everything that we can be, and how important family is and keeping close relationships with them. Prayer and other Christian themes play a big part in the book, and comes across in a way that critics should not find preachy.

 This IS romantic suspense, and I have come to enjoy that part of these types of books even as a bachelor, and found that part to be well done. I could find nothing to dislike in this book, and appreciated the pro-military angle of the story. I don't know how many books will be in the series, or if every team member will get their own book.... but I am looking forward to reading as many books as Sleeman writes in this series.

About the author:

SUSAN SLEEMAN is a bestselling and award-winning author of more than 30 inspirational/Christian and clean read romantic suspense books. Readers love her romantic suspense series for the well-drawn characters and edge-of-your-seat action. She graduated from the FBI and local police citizen academies, so her research is spot-on and her characters are real. In addition to writing, Susan also hosts She has lived in nine states but now calls Oregon home. Her husband is a retired church music director, and they have two beautiful daughters, a very special son-in-law, and an adorable grandson.
To learn more about Susan’s books sign up for her monthly email that includes exclusive excerpts, giveaways, and other goodies.

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Kill Shot is available from Faith Words, part of the Hachette Book Group.

Thanks to Faith Words for the review copy.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Coldwater by Samuel Parker

Book description:

Having forfeited his youth to the state prison system, Michael moved back to the only home he'd ever known. An empty shell of a man who now lived--if it could be called living--in the still vacant house of his parents in a town with one stoplight. A town that hated him. Had always hated him. And was ready to pick up where the prison system had let off.

Now he's on the run from men who've tried to kill him once; but Michael is more than an ex-con. A powerful, sinister force creeps inside him, threatening and destructive. Who--and what--it will destroy next is the only real question. From the bold voice that brought readers down Purgatory Road comes a new pulse-pounding, spine-rattling tale of vengeance and justice that will have them up all night.

My review:

 This is a book I am not sure what to say about in a review. It was weird, yet it was an interesting book that I read in one afternoon. I would hesitate to call it Christian fiction, even though it is classified as such. It is clean and free from bad language, but there is no Christian theme or talk of God and Christianity.

 The main character was sent to prison at the age of 10 years old for killing his 7 year old brother. There is something inside of him that protects him and usually kills anyone who threatens him. It is never really clearly stated what that is, or how he got it. The book starts with his release from prison. Everyone in the town he grew up in fears him, and there is a group of men determined to kill him before anyone else is harmed.

 I found the book to be rather dark and hopeless, though it does end on a hopeful note, but not much is said about what happened after that. It is shown what fear can do and what it can cause people to do. In the book, had the townspeople just left Michael alone, the deaths and mayhem would not have happened.

 I didn't dislike the book, or I wouldn't have finished it. It was just a bizarre and weird read that did seem dark and hopeless.

About the author:

Samuel Parker is the author of Purgatory Road. Born in the Michigan boondocks, he was raised on a never-ending road trip through the US. Besides writing, he is a process junkie and the ex-guitarist for several metal bands you've never heard of. He lives in West Michigan with his wife and twin sons.

Coldwater is available from Bethany House Publishers, part of the Baker Publishing Group.

Thanks to Bethany House for the review copy.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Be the Hands and Feet: Living Out God's Love for All His Children by Nick Vujicic

Book description:

Nothing in life is as exciting and satisfying as introducing Jesus to people who have never met him.

New York Times bestselling author and world-renowned motivational speaker Nick Vujicic is known worldwide as the man without arms and legs who personifies a "can do" spirit. Now in greater detail, he explains how the example of Jesus Christ motivates him to travel and speak broadly because the "good news" of the Gospel is just too good to keep quiet! Although the world has so many problems, no challenge is too great for the God who promises to move mountains. Using compelling stories from his own experience, Nick shares the heart of his message, the motivation behind all he does, and something that he believes the world needs now more than ever before: A faith in Jesus Christ that moves people to act and make the world a better place.

My review:

   I have read all of Nick's books he has written, and found the books and him to be very inspiring and encouraging. This book is different from his others in that it encourages others to do what he does - reach people for God.

   He spends a lot of time talking about how he got where he is now, and how God worked it out for him to travel all over the world and speak. He relates some of the things that has happened, and about some of the people he met.

  A lot of the book also covers people who are out there accomplishing great things for God, and how they got to where they are. Some of these people are ones he has mentored and given advice to on how to proceed with their ministry efforts.

 The book is a very inspiring read, but also a convicting one. If we are honest, most of us don't really accomplish much for God.....yet there are many stories in this book of people that got a vision, started small, and ended up going big for God.

 Nick also gives advice and input to the readers who feel they should be doing more for God. This was an interesting read, and one I would recommend.

 I was given a copy of this book for my part in the book launch team.

About the author:

Nick Vujicic is an international and New York Times bestselling author, evangelist, motivational speaker, and the director of Life Without Limbs, an organization that helps share the message of the hope in Christ to the entire globe. Nick is an inspiration worldwide to crowds and the media for his positive attitude toward overcoming obstacles and achieving dreams. A longtime resident of Australia, he now lives in Southern California with his wife, Kanae, two sons, and recently born twin daughters, January 2018.

Be The Hands and Feet is available from Waterbrook Publishing.

Thanks to Waterbrook/Multnomah for the review copy.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Unimaginable: What Our World Would Be Like Without Christianity by Jeremiah J Johnston

Book description:

A Stirring Account of Christianity's Power for Good

In a day when Christians are often attacked for their beliefs, professor and speaker Jeremiah Johnston offers an inspiring look at the positive influence of Christianity, both historically and today. In Unimaginable, you'll discover the far-reaching ways that Christianity is good for the world--and has been since the first century AD--including: 
- How the plights of women and children in society were forever changed by Jesus
- Why democracy and our education and legal systems owe much to Christianity 
- How early believers demonstrated the inherent value of human life by caring for the sick, handicapped, and dying
- How Christians today are extending God's kingdom through charities, social justice efforts, and other profound ways

Like It's a Wonderful Life, the classic film that showed George Bailey how different Bedford Falls would be without his presence, Unimaginable guides readers through the halls of history to see how Jesus' teachings dramatically changed the world and continue to be the most powerful force for good today. This provocative and enlightening book is sure to encourage believers and challenge doubters.

My review:

 I had a little difficulty getting into this book at first, but the further I read, the more interesting it got. The book is split up into three parts:

The World Before Christianity
The World Without Christianity
The World With Christianity

  The author discusses leaders of Rome such as Nero and Caligula, goes further up in time to Hitler and others, and shows the effects those evil men had when it seemed Christianity was barely existing. He does a great job of showing what the world would truly be like were it not for Christianity, while showing the effect Christianity has on the world. The book is an interesting, yet sobering read as one realizes that even today there are those who would like to rid the world of Christianity, and what a world without it might look like.

About the author: (His bio in his words)

Hi, I am Jeremiah, and I am honored to have you stop by my author central page. I live at the intersection of the scholarly and popular worlds; therefore, I have a passion for teaching and inspiring people like you to own your faith and to engage confidently with the world around you.
Dr. Jeremiah J. Johnston is a New Testament scholar, professor, apologist, and regular speaker on university campuses, churches, and conferences. His passion is equipping Christians to give intellectually informed accounts of what they believe. Dr. Johnston completed his doctoral residency in Oxford in partnership with Oxford Centre for Mission Studies and received his Ph.D. from Middlesex University (United Kingdom), with commendation. He has Masters Degrees from Acadia University (Canada) and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (US). He has lectured throughout the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Dr. Johnston serves as the founder and president of Christian Thinkers Society, a resident institute at Houston Baptist University, where he also serves as associate professor of Early Christianity. Christian Thinkers Society produces live events, media productions, conferences, and publications to teach pastors and Christians to become thinkers, and thinkers to become Christians.

In addition to his popular publications, Dr. Johnston has distinguished himself with publications in scholarly, refereed journals and serials. These include entries in Oxford University Press and E. J. Brill reference works. He specializes in Christian origins, Jesus and the Gospels, and topics, especially apologetics, that closely relate to Jesus and the Gospels. These include: the resurrection of Jesus, New Testament manuscripts (their number, nature, and reliability), extra-canonical gospels, resurrection, and afterlife beliefs. He has presented academic papers at learned meetings and has examined ancient texts (papyri, codices, and the like) at renowned libraries, such as the Griffith Papyrology Room of Oxford University's Bodleian Library and the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library of Yale University. Dr. Johnston co-edits an academic series for Bloomsbury T&T Clark and is currently preparing a volume on Jesus in Cambridge University Press's distinguished "In Context" series.

Unimaginable is available from Bethany House Pubishers

Thanks to Cross-Focuses Reviews for the review copy.