Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble

USA TODAY bestselling author Colleen Coble returns to her beloved Rock Harbor—but both danger and romance hide in this idyllic small town.

Dana Newell has just moved to Rock Harbor to take a job as a sheriff's dispatcher and is settling in next door to Bree and Kade Matthews. The abusive relationship she left behind seems a distant memory in this perfect place.

Her first day on the job, Dana receives a call from her friend Allyson who screams "He's going to kill me too" before the phone goes dead. Dana immediately dispatches a deputy, but it's too late. Allyson's death is ruled an accident, but Dana just doesn't believe it. She knows Allyson—an investigative reporter—was researching a new story. Did someone want to keep her quiet?

Dana continues to look into the accident with the help of Bree and also Allyson's cousin Boone. Romance quickly blooms between Dana and Boone but the game is much more complex than either of them imagined. When Dana's ex-fiance locates her, she's caught in the middle. It’s a game of cat and mouse as she and Boone fight to catch one killer while evading another.

My review:

I am not sure why, but I became a Colleen Coble fan late in her writing career. I had sporadically read some of her books, but didn't get into them that much. That has changed over the last few years, and I have become an avid reader of her books. In fact, I have gone back and read around 20 of her books in the last month, many that I had read before.

Her best series, in my opinion, is her Rock Harbor Series. The characters are impossible not to like, and everything about the series is just top notch. It has been several years since the series ended, so I was a bit dubious about another book in the series so long after the rest.... but I was wrong to be dubious. It probably helps that I just re-read the other books a few weeks ago, but this book seamlessly fell in with the rest..... and was a totally awesome 5-stars read.

The suspense and drama was great in the book, but there was a message throughout the book that Coble got across, of true beauty being what is inside. The hero of the story, Boone, is a man who got one side of his face scarred in a fire. As a result, his fiancee left him. He thinks no woman could ever love him, yet the heroine of the story is attracted to him largely in part because of who he is inside. The message is there that we work too hard to impress people with what they see of us outwardly, and too often don't work on our character and everything else inside enough. On the flip side, the bad guy in the story had perfect looks, but was an evil killer.

This paragraph sums up the theme and message of the book:

"Scars and all, his face was so handsome, so beloved. Her experience had taught her of how the soul was the repository of beauty. Unlike the Phantom (of the opera) who was as ugly on the inside as he was on the outside, Boone's scars hid an astoundingly beautiful soul. She had spent too much of her life worrying about the face she presented to the world, and much too little time on the character she needed to be developing every day."

Thanks, Colleen for writing not just a great suspense novel that was hard to put down, but also for including this great and needful message.

** I purchased this book, and was not given a copy to review, but thought it deserved a review.

About the author:

Best-selling romantic suspense author Colleen Coble’s novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, the ACFW Carol Award, the Romance Writers of America RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers’ Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has nearly 4 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana. Visit her website at www.colleencoble.com.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Homefront Defenders by Lisa Phillips

Book description:

PROTECTING THE PRESIDENT Amid the idyllic scenery of Hawaii, rookie Secret Service agent Alana Preston is attacked, and a sinister plot to assassinate the president begins taking shape. But nobody seems to believe Alana, and she doesn't know who she can trust--except Secret Service director James Locke. Now, with an assassin hiding in plain sight on the island, she and James may be the president's last line of defense. The closer they get to cracking the case, however, the more intertwined their lives become. And they must fight to keep their hearts out of it. With the life of the commander-in-chief in their hands, falling in love could be a deadly distraction...

My review:

 I first ran across Lisa Phillips when her Sanctuary Series came up as recommended Christian fiction on Amazon. It is a series set in a hidden town full of people in the Witness Protection Program. I bought the first two books, and was hooked, (and was sad when the series ended).

 This is the first Love Inspired Suspense novel I have read by Phillips, and she does not disappoint here either. This is a bit different from some suspense novels I have read in that it centers on Secret Service agents.

 These books are a good bit shorter than the other books I read by Phillips, but she packs a lot into the pages. I liked everything about the book: plot, setting, characters, suspense, and action. Granted, the book was just 218 pages long, but I couldn't put it down and read it through in one sitting. I enjoyed the family dynamic between the female lead character and her family, and thought it added a lot to the story.

 I figured out early on who the bad guy was, but was surprised by the twist in the story when the author revealed who the bad guy was. That also made the book end in a different way than I was expecting, so kudos to the author for that surprise.

 All in all, this was a great read, and I enjoyed every page of it.

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

About the author: 

A British ex-pat who grew up an hour outside of London, Lisa attended Calvary Chapel Bible College where she met her husband. He's from California, but nobody's perfect. It wasn't until her Bible College graduation that she figured out she was a writer (someone told her). Since then she's taken the Apprentice and Journeyman writing courses with the Christian Writers Guild, and discovered a penchant for high-stakes stories of mayhem and disaster where you can find made-for-each-other love that always ends in happily ever after.

Lisa can be found in Idaho wearing either flip-flops or cowgirl boots, depending on the season. She leads worship with her husband at their local church. Together they have two children--a sparkly Little Princess and a Mini Daddy--and two bunny rabbits.

Check out her website at AuthorLisaPhillips.com

Thanks to the author for the review copy.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

#Truth: 365 Devotions for Teens Connecting Life and Faith by Josh McDowell

Book description:

Inspire. . . Challenge. . .  Fuel Your Faith.

This daily devotional from Josh McDowell unpacks spiritual truths that will inspire, challenge, and fuel your soul every day of the year--from January 1 to December 31.
Practical and relevant, each month of devotional readings shares a common theme—


Truth Is. . . 365 Youth Devotions Connecting Life and Faith will lead you to understand the truths of God and how living them out is beneficial in your everyday life.

My review:

  There are some names that are associated with quality writing, and Josh McDowell is one of those names. He is best known for his apologetics writing, and now for a teen devotional. To my knowledge, this is the first devotional book he has written....... though I could be wrong.

  The book is a 365 day devotional, and is written for teenagers. Each day starts out with a Bible verse or two. That is followed by a short introduction to the devotional. The main part is the "Truth is" section. It ends with a short prayer.

 I can't remember reviewing any teen devotionals, so I can't compare this one with any others. However, I can say it is a quality devotional with interesting writings that are relevant for teenagers, and that have valuable truths in them. It is obvious a lot of thought and prayer went into this book, and the result is a great devotional book for teens that is sure to help them grow spiritually. The topics in the book cover a vast array of subjects, and teenagers are definitely going to be helped by the content.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

About the author:

As a young man, Josh McDowell considered himself an agnostic. He truly believed that Christianity was worthless. However, when challenged to intellectually examine the claims of Christianity, Josh discovered compelling, overwhelming evidence for the reliability of the Christian faith. After trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, Josh’s life changed dramatically as he experienced the power of God’s love.

After his conversion, his plans for law school turned instead to plans to tell a doubting world about the truth of Jesus Christ. After studying at Kellogg College, Josh completed his college degree at Wheaton College and then attended Talbot Theological Seminary, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Master of Divinity degree.

In 1961, Josh joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ International. Not long after, he started the Josh McDowell Ministry to reach young people worldwide with the truth and love of Jesus.

Well known as an articulate speaker, Josh has addressed more than 10 million young people, giving over 24,000 talks in 118 countries.

As he traveled to other countries, Josh quickly realized that where people were sick, homeless, and hungry, words were not enough. In 1991, Josh founded Operation Carelift to meet the physical and spiritual needs he discovered in orphanages, hospitals, schools, and prisons in the countries of the former Soviet Union. Since that time, Operation Carelift has delivered humanitarian aid (food, clothing, and medical supplies) worth more than $46,000,000. That is the equivalent of 278 forty-ton containers. Nearly one million children have received school supplies, food items, hygiene items, and toys from the volunteers that traveled twice a year to share God’s love with them.

Josh has received two significant honors from the Russian people because of these efforts. He was elected as an honorary fellow of the Medical Society (The Medical Union of Pediatrics) of Russia on January 24, 1995—in recognition of his work among the children of Russia. Also, Josh is the only foreigner to become a member of the prestigious Russian Club of Scientists. Operation Carelift, which has grown into in one of the largest humanitarian aid organizations based in the United States, is now a part of Global Aid Network (GAiN USA).

Since 1960, Josh has written or co-authored 120 books including:

More Than a Carpenter -- 15 million copies in 85 languages.
New Evidence That Demands a Verdict -- named one the twentieth century’s top 40 books and one of the thirteen most influential books of the last 50 years on Christian thought by World Magazine.

In addition to many other awards, Josh has been nominated 36 times for the Gold Medallion Award and has received that award on four occasions.

In spite of all the honors and awards he has received, Josh will tell anyone that his greatest joys and pleasures come from his family. He and his wife Dottie have been married 40 years. They have four children and five grandchildren.

#Truth: 365 Devotions for Teens Connecting Life and Faith is available from Shiloh Publishing, an imprint of Barbour Books.

 Thanks to Barbour Books for the review copy.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Coffee, the World, and Jesus by Ron DeMiglio

Book description:

Life lessons and almost irreverent musings from twenty-five years in the global coffee industry 

When many Christians take a long, hard look at the lives of the spiritual elite in America, they want to shout, "I don't want to be like that!" Ron DeMiglio knows how they feel and he's not afraid to do the shouting—even when those shouts are sometimes directed at himself.

Coffee, the World, and Jesus is a collection of mildly contrarian musings from this international coffee businessman who happens to love Jesus. In these humorous vignettes about the relational, flawed, unwavering faith Ron clings to, readers will find glimmers of their own daily struggles to reflect Christ in a fallen world. For the religiously cautious, the disillusioned, and jaded followers of Christianity, this is a refreshing look at how God reveals Himself to be so much bigger than politics, dogmas, or western influences.

Ron's sidesplitting series of stories about how he found his spiritual groove smack-dab in the middle of his God-breathed, coffee-scented uniqueness will appeal to readers looking for a quick bite of spiritual growth with their next latte.

My review:

  I am not a coffee drinker, but this book sounded interesting, so I requested it. I can honestly say you don't have to like coffee to enjoy reading the book.

 The chapters are a bit random in thought and topic, but it works for the book. The author has traveled all over the world in the coffee business, and has a lot of interesting stories to tell that happened to him. Some are amusing, some are more serious, and he tells on himself a lot... something I consider to be brave.

 Sprinkled throughout all of the stories and anecdotes  are lessons the author learned and is passing on through what he relates in the book.

 I found the book an interesting read, and it is a book one may read more than once.

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

 About the author:

Ron DeMiglio is the former president and owner of Eko Brands, LLC. The past twenty-five years of his life have centered around coffee as he traveled around the world. Ron lives in Snohomish, Washington.

 Coffee, the World, and Jesus is available from Kregel Publishing.

Thanks to Kregel for the review copy.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Secrets by Jonathan Daugherty

Book description:

Everyone has a secret or two---areas of their life they would rather not share with the general public. But Jonathan Daugherty had a life-altering, relationship-ending secret that he wanted to keep hidden at all costs. And it did cost him. 

His secret snatched away contentment, peace, and the possibility of being known and loved for who he really is. That's what any addiction can do---but in particular a sex addiction. When his wife finally realized who Jonathan really was and what he was really doing, their marriage seemed to be over. Jonathan shares honestly and courageously his story of pornography addiction to it and how he lost everything. But that's not the whole story. 

Someone else was at work while Jonathan was struggling
---his heavenly Father. At the lowest possible moment of his life, God stepped in and brought hope and healing. This is a story of loss and redemption that will give hope to anyone who has ever experienced the power of addiction and its life-destroying effects. Addiction doesn't have the last word in Jonathan's life or in his marriage. The God who finds the lost, heals the sick, and brings life from death has the last, victorious word.

My review:

   In this book, the author chronicles his life from his first exposure to pornography to deliverance from it, along with the effect it had on his life and marriage. He does not glorify sin in the book, nor is he graphic, but his story shows not only the harm of pornography addiction, but the effect a life of secrets has on a person, his relationships with his wife and others, and his relationship with God.

 This would not be an easy book to write. To bare your soul and tell all of your secrets in a book many will read, takes courage and faith. The book is not long, coming in at only 126 pages, but the author packs a lot into the book, mostly hitting on the main highs and lows of his life. He pulls no punches nor makes any excuses, but lays it all out how he got addicted, how he felt and acted, and how it affected his wife and marriage.

 The book is not a discouraging read though. Daughtery shows how he was brought to the end of himself and finally surrender himself and his addictions to God. The restoration of his marriage and the launch of his ministry were miraculous, and it is awesome he is now using the bad in his life to help others struggling in the same areas.

 Secrets is an interesting and encouraging read. Not everyone looking at pornography will go on to actual adultery as Daughtery did, but pornography itself is adultery and increases the chances of an actual affair.

 I definitely recommend this book, and not just to those struggling in these areas. It can be a warning to anyone to not go down this road.

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

About the author:

Jonathan Daugherty is the founder of Be Broken Ministries, and founder of Gateway to Freedom workshop for men. He also hosts the weekly radio broadcast, Pure Sex Radio, and is in demand nationally as a speaker on sexual purity and men's issues. He has appeared on multiple radio and television media, both local and national. He has authored Grace-Based Recovery, The 4 Pillars of Purity, and other works. Jonathan lives with his wife and three children in San Antonio, Texas.

Check out his website here, and his blog here.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Street Smarts From Proverbs by Mitch Kruse & D.J. Williams

STREET SMARTS FROM PROVERBS reveals Solomon's steps to divine wisdom while providing tools to navigate out of conflict into community.
Mitch Kruse learned the hard way that going to church three times a week while growing up did not answer the question:

Have you ever thought about changing the scorecard of your life from money to wisdom?

His pursuit to find the answer sparked a lifelong journey through the ultimate wisdom book, Proverbs, one that connects God's heart with street smarts.

STREET SMARTS FROM PROVERBS introduces Solomon's twelve words to the wise:

righteousness, equity, and justice
wise behavior, understanding, and wise communication
prudence, discretion, and wise counsel
discipline, knowledge, and learning

Each is paired with a real-life story of someone who experienced God's miraculous restoration after humbling their heart to Him. It explains, illustrates, and applies one of the twelve words, providing an easy-to-understand, yet life-transforming step-by-step process to assimilate each respective trait of wisdom.

STREET SMARTS FROM PROVERBS gives memorable prompts for the reader to recall every point with the purpose of applying it to conflict at work, with family, among friends, and in ministry. It provides tangible tools to be shrewd, yet harmless, in business dealings; to separate wisdom from foolishness through discretion; and to seek wise counsel for life's decisions.

My review:

 I ran across an ad for this book before I got a review opportunity, and thought it sounded like an interesting book to read. Then I got a review opportunity for it, and was happy to review it.

 The book is split up into two parts. The first three chapters address the cycle of conflict, the fool defined, and the key to unlocking wisdom. The second part of the book has a chapter dedicated to each of the 12 words mentioned in the book description: righteousness, prudence, wise counsel, etc.

 The author uses a lot of anecdotes from his own life throughout the book to help get his points across. I found the book an interesting and helpful read. I have always liked the book of Proverbs, but the author does a great job of really applying it to our lives today.

 The subtitle of this book is "How to Navigate Through Conflict to Community." The author addresses conflict all through the book, and does an excellent job of pulling truths out of Proverbs to better deal with conflict.... which we all experience at times in our lives.

 I enjoyed reading this book. It was a great read, and I would recommend it.

About the authors: 

MITCH KRUSE is known for his contribution to the collector car and real estate auction arenas. For seventeen years, he was owner, CEO, and auctioneer of the world's largest collector car sales organization. Kruse and his father developed the world's first auction park, home to the annual Auburn, Indiana, collector car auction that attracted three hundred thousand collectors each year. Mitch and his wife, Susan, live in Auburn, Indiana, on their family farm, first homesteaded by Kruse's great-great-great grandfather in 1854. They have four daughters.

D.J. WILLIAMS has been in the entertainment industry and nonprofit sector for twenty years. His writing credits include Restoration Road with Mitch Kruse, The Disillusioned, Waking Lazarus, and contributing writer for Holy Bible: Mosaic. Currently based in Los Angeles, Williams continues to add to his producing and directing credits by continuously developing new projects for television, film, and print.

Street Smarts From Proverbs is available from Faith Words, part of the Hachette Book Group.

Thanks to Faith Words for the review copy.

The Parables of Jesus Coloring Book Devotional by Laura James & Katara Washington Patton

Worship with art as you color-in 46 stunning illustrations based on the parables of Jesus, each with a corresponding devotion and prompts for spiritual reflection and artistic exercise.

God's creativity is everywhere. It's mirrored by His creation--even evident in the illustrative teachings of His Son. This stunning book of 46 soulful, colorable pictures is based on the parables of Jesus. Color the parables, be immersed in their valuable lessons in a unique way, engaging your own creativity, and strengthen your faith.

Also included are 46 uplifting devotions, one related to each parable, and 46 thought-provoking prompts for meaningful reflection and artistic expression. These pages provide worshipful exercises to inspire the artist in you, with space for illustrated prayer and journaling.

My review:

  I am not a big coloring person, but this is a very neat book. It is a combination of a coloring book and devotional book. Each devotional is based on one of Jesus' parables, and is followed by a picture to color about that parable. This is a big book with a lot of content in it.

 The devotionals are very well written, and I enjoyed having a whole book of devotionals based on Jesus' parables. The pages to color are very well done, and anyone into coloring books will enjoy it. Each coloring page is blank on the reverse side to avoid any bleeding through onto that page.

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

About the authors:

Laura James is an author and journalist and the owner of a
communications agency. Her writing has appeared in many national and
international newspapers and magazines. She is the mother of four adult
children and lives with her husband, their dogs, and a cat in North Norfolk.
Since her diagnosis, she has campaigned for autism awareness and

KATARA WASHINGTON PATTON has written and edited Christian books for children, teens, and adults and created supplemental materials for books by T.D. Jakes, Beth Moore and Joyce Meyer. She served as general editor and writer of Aspire: The New Women of Color Study Bible. She holds a M.Div. from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.

The Parables of Jesus Coloring Book Devotional is available from Faith Words, part of the Hachette Book Group. Thanks to Faith Words for the review copy.