Monday, March 26, 2012

Simon and the Easter Miracle by Mary Joslin

The gospels tell of Simon of Cyrene--"a man coming in from the country"--who was ordered to carry Jesus' cross. Over the centuries, his story has been woven into a Polish folktale. In the tradition of The Three Trees this folk tale gives a fresh perspective on the Easter story.

When Simon the farmer brings his wares to market, little does he expect how he will be involved in the events of that very special day, nor how his items--bread, eggs, and wine--will become important symbols of Jesus' passion and resurrection, remembered throughout the ages.

This picture book retelling of a traditional tale is both thought-provoking and engaging.

My review:

This is a fictional telling of the events of Good Friday from the viewpoint of Simon of Cyrene. Its geared for young children, so it isn't very long in length, but is one of those books with a lot of pictures and a short story.

The idea of the book is neat, and I like the end result. It is easy for a child to read, or be read to, and the illustrator did a great job illustrating the book. I would recommend this for parents who want to help their young children understand the events of Good Friday a little better.

About the author:

Mary Joslin, published exclusively by Lion, is known for her children's books on belief and spirituality. Her books, which include The Story of the Cross and On That Christmas Night, have sold more than 200,000 copies.

About the illustrator:
Anna Luraschi has illustrated a number of books for Usborne. 

Simon and the Easter Miracle is available from Kregel Publishing.

Thanks to Kregel for the review copy.

The Chase by DiAnn Mills

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Chase
Zondervan (March 27, 2012)
DiAnn Mills


DiAnn Mills believes her readers should “Expect an Adventure.” She is a fiction writer who combines an adventuresome spirit with unforgettable characters to create action-packed novels. Her books have won many awards through American Christian Fiction Writers, and she is the recipient of the Inspirational Reader’s Choice award for 2005, 2007, and 2010. She was a Christy Award finalist in 2008 and a Christy winner in 2010.

DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and is the Craftsman Mentor for the Christian Writer’s Guild. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops.

DiAnn and her husband live in Houston, Texas. Visit her website or find her on Facebook at


To the FBI it's a cold case. To Kariss Walker it's a hot idea that could either reshape or ruin her writing career. And it's a burning mission to revisit an event she can never forget. Five years ago, an unidentified little girl was found starved to death in the woods behind a Houston apartment complex. A TV news anchor at the time, Kariss reported on the terrifying case. Today, as a New York Times bestselling author, Kariss intends to turn the unsolved mystery into a suspense novel. Enlisting the help of FBI Special Agent Tigo Harris, Kariss succeeds in getting the case reopened. But the search for the dead girl's missing mother yields a discovery that plunges the partners into a witch's brew of danger. The old crime lives on in more ways than either of them could ever imagine. Will Kariss's pursuit of her dream as a writer carry a deadly price tag? Drawing from a real-life cold case, bestselling novelist DiAnn Mills presents a taut collage of suspense, faith, and romance in The Chase.

Watch the book video!

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Chase, go HERE.

My review
I have not read many books by DiAnn Mills, but I'm thinking I need to start reading more of her suspense novels. From looking at her books on Amazon, it appears she has written a wide variety of novels, and among them are many suspense, my favorite.

This book falls into the suspense genre', and it is a terrific suspense novel. She came up with some great and likable characters which were also believable. The plot was a great plot, and a bit different from many suspense books. The heroine ois involved in the action because she is writing a suspense novel. Maybe the author got the idea from the TV show Castle. Regardless, it worked, and the end result makes for great reading. I did read this book in one evening and did not want to put it down. It is romantic suspense, and all too often authors tie that part up in a nice red bow. This book leaves that open for the next book, which was a bit disappointing, but also more realisitc. I am looking forward to the next book in the series.

Thanks to the CFBA and the author for the review copy.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Missing by Shelley Shepard Gray

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Avon Inspire; Original edition (March 20, 2012)
Shelley Shepard Gray


Since 2000, Shelley Sabga has sold over thirty novels to numerous publishers, including HarperCollins, Harlequin, Abingdon Press, and Avon Inspire. She has been interviewed by NPR, and her books have been highlighted in numerous publications, including USA Today and The Wall Street Journal.

Under the name Shelley Shepard Gray, Shelley writes Amish romances for HarperCollins’ inspirational line, Avon Inspire. Her recent novel, The Protector, the final book in her “Families of Honor” series, hit the New York Times List, and her previous novel in the same series, The Survivor, appeared on the USA Today bestseller list. Shelley has won the prestigious Holt Medallion for her books, Forgiven and Grace, and her novels have been chosen as Alternate Selections for the Doubleday/Literary Guild Book Club. Her first novel with Avon Inspire, Hidden, was an Inspirational Reader’s Choice finalist.

Before writing romances, Shelley lived in Texas and Colorado, where she taught school and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. She now lives in southern Ohio and writes full time. Shelley is married, the mother of two children in college, and is an active member of her church. She serves on committees, volunteers in the church office, and currently leads a Bible study group, and she looks forward to the opportunity to continue to write novels that showcase her Christian ideals.

When she’s not writing, Shelley often attends conferences and reader retreats in order to give workshops and publicize her work. She’s attended RWA’s national conference six times, the ACFW conference and Romantic Times Magazine’s annual conference as well as traveled to New Jersey, Birmingham, and Tennessee to attend local conferences.

Check out Shelley's Facebook Fan page


In the first book in her new Secrets of Crittenden County series, Shelley Shepard Gray delivers another page-turning romance set in Amish country

Perry Borntrager had been missing from the quiet Amish community of Crittenden, Kentucky, for months when his body was discovered at the bottom of an abandoned well. Everyone had assumed Perry left Crittenden on his own, seduced by the wider world he discovered during his rumspringa, but now the truth has thrown this once-peaceful town into chaos. The first death from mysterious circumstances in Crittenden in more than two decades has invited the scrutiny of the outside world: a police detective arrives to help their local sheriff with the investigation. His questioning begins with Lydia Plank, Perry’s former girlfriend, and Perry’s best friend, the Englisher Walker Anderson.

Lydia and Walker know they didn’t have anything to do with Perry’s death, but they both hold secrets about his final days. Do they dare to open up about the kind of man Perry had become? In the oppressive shadow of these dark times, they discover strength in a most unlikely companionship that offers solace, understanding, and the promise of something more.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Missing, go HERE.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Stuart Brannon's Last Shot

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Stuart Brannon's Final Shot
Center Point Pub; Lrg edition (March 2012)
Stephen Bly


Stephen Bly (August 17, 1944 – June 9, 2011) authored 106 books and hundreds of articles and short stories. His book, The Long Trail Home (Broadman & Holman), won the prestigious 2002 Christy Award for excellence in Christian fiction in the category western novel. Three other books, Picture Rock (Crossway Books), The Outlaw’s Twin Sister (Crossway Books), and Last of the Texas Camp (Broadman & Holman), were Christy Award finalists. He spoke at colleges, churches, camps and conferences across the U.S. and Canada. He was the pastor of Winchester Community Church, and served as mayor of Winchester, Idaho (2000-2007). He spoke on numerous television and radio programs, including Dr. James Dobson’s Focus on the Family. He was an Active Member of the Western Writers of America. Steve graduated summa cum laude in Philosophy from Fresno State University and received a M.Div from Fuller Theological Seminary. The Blys have three sons: Russell (married to Lois) and father of Zachary and Miranda (married to Chris Ross) and mother of Alayah; Michael (married to Michelle); and Aaron (married to Rina Joye) and father of Keaton and Deckard. A third generation westerner, Steve spent his early years working on California farms owned by his father and an uncle.

Janet Chester Bly received a B.S. degree in Literature & Languages and Fine & Performing Arts from Lewis-Clark State College, Lewiston, Idaho. She speaks at women’s luncheons and retreats and does writers’ workshops. She is a member of Winchester Community Church where she serves as music director. She has authored eleven nonfiction and fiction books and co-authored twenty others, as well as contributed to five books. Janet’s hobbies include decorating her home in “country clutter,” reading almost all genres of fiction and mall walking. She lives in Winchester, Idaho–elevation 4,000 feet, population 300– situated on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation.


In 1905, at 58 years old, legendary lawman Stuart Brannon - now a rancher and widower - had no intention of leaving his beloved Arizona Territory to attend the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition in Portland, Oregon, nor to participate in the celebrity golf tournament for the Willamette Orphan Farm. Even an emotional appeal for his longtime friend didn’t persuade him. His life no longer consisted of bloodthirsty men to track down . . . people trying to kill him . . . lawless gangs preying on the innocent.

Then the telegram came: Stuart, I need you in Portland. Tim Wiseman is missing. I think there’s a cover-up going on. Tell folks you’re going to the Exposition. Nose around. Find out how a U.S. Marshal can disappear and no one knows why. I’ll contact you there. T.R.

How could he refuse a request from the President of the United States?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Stuart Brannon's Final Shot, go HERE.

My review:
I have never been much of a reader of Westerns, but I have read several of Stephen Bly's books. This one was a great read and brought back the character he wrote a whole series about. I enjoyed the book, and it would be a great read for any Western fan.

Christian books and cursing

Its one of my pet peeves and favorite soapboxes, and its been a while since I blogged about it, so here goes.

I am amazed at how may people disagree with me on this: curse words and even some words that are not curse words, do NOT belong in a Christian book.

It seems like Thomas Nelson started the trend. Then Zondervan, owned by the secular Haper Collins, followed. I even found an objectionable word in a Tyndale book a few months ago. Why? Why does a Christian author feel the need to put curse words in a Christian book that Christians are going to read. Why does a Christian publisher allow it?

I usually email the author and publisher both when I run onto curse words in a Christian book, and usually get excuses. The man in charge of the fiction department at Nelson actually called me once and was very nice, but only excused the language in the book I complained about. He even gave me a free book, but didn't change anything.

I emailed Susan May Warren. She had the "d" word in one of her books. She replied that she used it because that is the kind of word that character would say. Really. So if he would say the "f" word, she would use it? (I hope the publisher wouldn't allow that one, but give it time).

I read one book by Noel Hynd. It had a handful of curse words in it, including the commonly-used one that is also used for a donkey. He replied that one cannot write the kind of books he writes and not use them. (FBI/suspense). Really? I have read many excellent books of that genre' that use none of that language. And, might I add, they were better stories than the one I read by him.

Any Christian worth his salt would believe there are certain words Christians shouldn't use. You know what they are. Even if you use them, you wouldn't let them slip in front of your pastor or kids. (But its ok to use them in front of God). So if there are certain words that are inappropriate for Christians to speak, why does it become ok to write them, where even more people are going to witness you using them than if you spoke them? Because the characters are fictional, does it make it ok to say "go to......"? Because the characters are fictional, does it make it ok to curse and use other inappropriate words? If so, why? What is next, the "f-word", or taking God's name in vain, and because it is a fiction book with fictional characters, it is ok?

The Bible talks about being careful not to offend. So why is it ok to offend in this way? I am sure I'm not the only person to be offended when I run across curse words in a Christian book. I may be one of the few outspoken enough to complain about it.

TV could be the problem. Have we become so accustomed to cursing in TV shows and in movies, that we aren't shocked or offended by cursing anymore? That even when it shows up in a Christian book, we just tune it out? There are words appearing in Christian novels that years ago, would have been "bleeped" if spoken on TV and on the radio.

I heard a preacher say once that the church is just so many years behind the world. (Don't remember how many, but seems like 10). What the world is doing now, the church will be doing and ok-ing in 10 years or so. It seems to be true. It was once taboo to curse. People did it, but not on TV and radio. But it became more accepted. They quit bleeping people for saying certain things. Now its creeping into the church, and in one way, in books.

Thomas Nelson has some standards they claim to abide by for their books. One is the verses in the Bible in Philippians "Whatsoever is pure, noble, of good report, etc." I actually pointed out to the CEO of Nelson on his blog where he posted the standards, that allowing cursing in their books does not fall under those standards. He disagreed of course.

I am thankful for Christian authors who write books and don't use them as an excuse to curse: Mike Dellosso, Kathy Herman, Terri Blackstock, Randy Singer, Karen Kingsbury, and many more.

If an author wants to curse in their books, then let them write secular.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Halflings by Heather Burch

In the first book of the Halfling Trilogy, Nikki Youngblood discovers she’s the central force of a madman’s plan, and turns to three half-angel boys for protection. With the Halflings, she’s completely safe. Everything except her heart. And Mace’s soul. Falling for him could ensure his eternal ruin.


Split. After being inexplicably targeted by an evil intent on harming her at any cost, seventeen-year-old Nikki finds herself under the watchful guardianship of three mysterious young men who call themselves halflings. Sworn to defend her, misfits Mace, Raven, and Vine battle to keep Nikki safe while hiding their deepest secret—and the wings that come with. A growing attraction between Nikki and two of her protectors presents a whole other danger. While she risks a broken heart, Mace and Raven could lose everything, including their souls. As the mysteries behind the boys’ powers, as well as her role in a scientist’s dark plan, unfold, Nikki is faced with choices that will affect the future of an entire race of heavenly beings, as well as the precarious equilibrium of the earthly world.

My review:

This book and series is geared for teenagers, but I like to review books outside of my age group and even interest occasionally. Plus, this sounded like a cool book, so I requested it for review.

This book has a few different elements: good verses evil, romance, God's will, and some suspense. Halflings are beings that are half angel and half human. The author got the idea from the Bible verse in Genesis that refers to the sons of God procreating with the daughters of men. These "halflings" are descended from them. Its an interesting idea, and a new take on the guardian angel theme.

Even though the idea may be different for a Christian novel, the end result makes for a very interesting read, whether you are a teenager or an adult. I read the book in one evening and was quite captivated by it, and was wishing the next book was already out.

I loaned the book to my sixteen-year-old niece, and she loved it. She groaned when I replied to her question if the next book was out yet with a "no." So there you have it.... a teenager loved the book. The next book, Guardian, will be out in October of this year.

About the author:

Heather Burch grew up in Branson, Missouri, where she learned to love fiction. She then married into a family of published novelists and quickly learned writing was her heart’s desire. When she’s not working on her latest book, Heather can be found watching a sunset at a beach near her home in Southern Florida, along with her sons Jake and Isaac, and husband, John—who is her hero in every way.

Halflings is available from Zondervan Publishing.

Thanks to Zondervan for the review copy.

A free e-book, 11:15: The Making of a Halfling, a short prequel, is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Christian Book Distributors.

Protection For Hire by Camy Tang

First she served as a mob enforcer. Then she found Christ in prison. Now, Tessa Lancaster is protecting an heiress whose spouse seeks to kill her. In this action-packed read, Tessa and a handsome Southern lawyer discover the reality of being made new in Christ.

Tessa Lancaster’s skills first earned her a position as an enforcer in her Uncle Teruo’s Japanese Mafia gang. Then they landed her in prison for a crime she didn’t commit. Now, three months after her release, Tessa’s abilities have gained her a job as bodyguard for wealthy socialite Elizabeth St. Amant and her three-year-old son.

But there’s a problem or two … or three …. There’s Elizabeth’s abusive husband whose relentless pursuit goes deeper than mere vengeance. There’s Uncle Teruo, who doesn’t understand why Tessa’s new faith as a Christian prevents her from returning to the yakuza. And then there’s Elizabeth’s lawyer, Charles Britton, who Tessa doesn’t know is the one who ensured that she did maximum time behind bars. Now Tessa and Charles must work together in order to protect their client, while new truths emerge and circumstances spiral to a deadly fever pitch.

Factor in both Tessa’s and Charles’s families and you’ve got some wild dynamics—and an action-packed, romantic read as Tessa and Charles discover the reality of being made new in Christ.

My review:Camy Tang is still a fairly new author to me, as I have not read much by her. I did read her Sushi Series which was a very humorous romance series. (Even though I normally steer away from romance only novels, a friend assured me I'd love them. I did.)

Protection For Hire is a totally different genre': suspense, which is my favorite genre'. I was curious how Camy would do with suspense, and I am happy to report she did a great job. She created some very interesting and colorful characters along with a terrific plot. And even though it is suspense, she has a way of bringing some humor into the story.

This was an e-book, and had no date to be reviewed by, so it sat on my Kindle for a while before I got to it, but once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. I fortunately had  the time to read it through in one evening, and I did exactly that, though I stayed up later than normal. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and am anticipating the sequel that is coming in October.

Anyone who reads many of my reviews knows that a pet peeve of mine is curse words and/or inappropriate words in Christian novels. I believe as Christians, we should not only be careful about the words we say, but also about what we write. Zondervan and Thomas Nelson have both allowed language in their books that is inappropriate, and this had one such word. And that is a word used for illegitimate children, and also used as an insult, as in this book. Minus that..... totally awesome book.

About the author:

Camy Tang grew up in Hawaii but she now lives in San Jose, California, with her engineer husband and rambunctious mutt, Snickers. She was a biologist researcher, but these days she is surgically attached to her computer, writing full-time. In her spare time, she is a staff worker for her church youth group, and she leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service. She won the Carol Book of the Year award in the Debut Author category with her novel Sushi for One? Follow Camy online at

Protection For Hire is available from Zondervan Publishing.

Thanks to Zondervan and Netgalley for the review copy.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Injustice For All by Robin Caroll

A federal judge lies bleeding on his office floor, betrayed by a most unlikely source—people who helped him bring criminals to justice. Now, why would someone working for the FBI need to disappear after witnessing this crime?

When Remington Wyatt sees her godfather’s murder, she recognizes the killers and knows it’s only a matter of time before they come to silence her. She must do the only thing possible to stay alive . . . run.

FBI agent Rafe Baxter is serious about his career, and solving a cold case involving a federal judge’s death puts him in line for the promotion he so desires. But the case leads him to the small town of Hopewell, Louisiana, where some secrets seem inextricably hidden deep within the bayou.

Injustice for All explores what happens when everything a person believes in is utterly destroyed. Who can you trust?

My review:
I previously read the three books Robin did for Broadman & Holman and thoroughly enjoyed them, so I was happy to have this book arrive in the mail. It did not disappoint.

This book is the kind of book that I love to read. It has a lot of suspense, drama, a Christian element, and page turning intrigue. It is the first book in the Justice Seekers Series, and is a terrific start to the series. I loved the characters in the book, and am guessing she will use some of them in the other books yet to come in this series.

I like it when an author has a character that is struggling with issues of the faith, and doesn't necessarily wrap it all up in a nice bow, and that was the case with this story. One of the characters has a lot of doubts about God, and she does come to grips with some of that, but at the end of the book she was still not quite there, the way I read it.

I applaud authors like Robin who can write a masterpiece of suspense like this, and keep it clean and curse-free. Even though this is only the fourth book of hers I have read, she is fast becoming one of my favorite authors, and I look forward to reading more in this great series.

About the author:

Robin Caroll has authored eleven previous books including the critically acclaimed Deliver Us From Evil. She gives back to the writing community by serving as conference director for American Christian Fiction Writers. A proud southerner, Robin lives with her husband, three daughters, and one precious grandson in Arkansas.

Injustice for All is available from Broadman and Holman Publishing.

Thanks to Broadman & Holman and PR By the Book for the review copy.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Messenger by Siri Mitchell

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Messenger
Bethany House Publishers (March 1, 2012)
Siri Mitchell


Siri Mitchell graduated from the University of Washington with a business degree and worked in various levels of government. As a military spouse, she has lived all over the world, including Paris and Tokyo. Siri enjoys observing and learning from different cultures. She is fluent in French and loves sushi.

But she is also a member of a strange breed of people called novelists. When they’re listening to a speaker and taking notes, chances are, they’ve just had a great idea for a plot or a dialogue. If they nod in response to a really profound statement, they’re probably thinking, “Yes. Right. That’s exactly what my character needs to hear.” When they edit their manuscripts, they laugh at the funny parts. And cry at the sad parts. Sometimes they even talk to their characters.

Siri wrote 4 books and accumulated 153 rejections before signing with a publisher. In the process, she saw the bottoms of more pints of Ben & Jerry’s than she cares to admit. At various times she has vowed never to write another word again. Ever. She has gone on writing strikes and even stooped to threatening her manuscripts with the shredder.


Hannah Sunderland felt content in her embrace of the Quaker faith

...until her twin brother ran off and joined the army and ended up captured and in jail. Suddenly Hannah's world turns on end. She longs to bring her brother some measure of comfort in the squalid, frigid prison where he remains. But the Quakers believe they are not to take sides, not to take up arms. Can she sit by and do nothing while he suffers?

Jeremiah Jones has an enormous task before him. Responsibility for a spy ring is now his, and he desperately needs access to the men in prison, whom they are seeking to free. A possible solution is to garner a pass for Hannah. But while she is fine to the eye, she holds only disdain for him--and agreeing would mean disobeying those she loves and abandoning a bedrock of her faith.

With skill and sensitivity, Mitchell tells a story of two unlikely heroes seeking God's voice, finding the courage to act, and discovering the powerful embrace of love.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Messenger, go HERE.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Book of Man by William Bennett


Raising up men has never been easy, but today is seems particularly tough. The young and old need heroes to embody the eternal qualities of manhood: honor, duty, valor, and integrity. In The Book of Man, William J. Bennett points the way, offering a positive, encouraging, uplifting, realizable idea of manhood, redolent of history and human nature, and practical for contemporary life.

Using profiles, stories, letters, poems, essays, historical vignettes, and myths to bring his subject to life, The Book of Man defines what a man should be, how he should live, and to what he should aspire in several key areas of life: war, work, leisure, and more. "Whether we take up the sword, the plow, the ball, the gavel, our children, or our Bibles," says Bennett, "we must always do it like the men we are called to be." The Book of Man shows how.

My review:
This is a neat book. Not one to be read in one sitting, but to be read over several weeks,  as it comes in at a whopping 576 pages. The book is split into sections such as Men and Work, Men in Politics, Men and War, etc. Each section has several profiles of men in that category and writings to do with that topic.

Not every story and poem was riveting and interesting to me, but this is still a great book and worth reading. The stories about men who have done great things in war and on 911 for our country alone make this book worth reading.

Its obvious Bennett put a lot of time, research, and effort into this book. The idea is given in reading about the book, that it is to help men grow up to be real men, but young men might get bogged down some by parts of the book, although there are other parts that would be more relevant.

Overall, I'd recommend this book for men in any stage of life. There is something in it for everyone. Something that will inspire and make us want to be and do better.

About the author:
Dr. William J. Bennett is one of America’s most influential, and respected voices on cultural, political, and educational issues. Bill Bennett studied philosophy at Williams College (B.A.) and the University of Texas (Ph.D.) and earned a law degree from Harvard. Host of the top-ten nationally syndicated radio show Bill Bennett’s Morning in America, he is also the Washington Fellow of the Claremont Institute. Former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (1981-1985), and Secretary of Education (1985-1988), and first director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (1989-1990), Bennett is a regular contributor to CNN and has contributed to America’s leading newspapers, magazines, and television shows. He is the author and editor of seventeen books, two of which—The Book of Virtues and The Children’s Book of Virtues—rank among the most successful of the past decade. He, his wife Elayne, and their two sons, John and Joseph, live in Maryland.

The Book of Man is available from Thomas Nelson.

Thanks to Booksneeze for the review copy.

Check out excerpts from the book below:



What Every Man Wishes His Father Had Told Him by Byron Yawn

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to
Karri James of Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


Byron Yawn is the senior pastor of Community Bible Church in Nashville, Tennessee and a much-sought speaker. His book Well-Driven Nails received much positive acclaim from prominent ministers, including John MacArthur and Steven Lawson. Byron has MDiv and DMin degrees from The Master’s Seminary, is married to Robin, and has three children.

Visit the author's website.


A powerful and compelling new voice in Christian publishing, with a message urgently needed by today’s Christian men.

Every man encounters significant struggles in life—struggles that result in poor choices and decisions. Frequently these mistakes can be traced back to a common problem—a father who (even unintentionally) failed to provide counsel or a positive role model.

In What Every Man Wishes His Father Had Told Him, author Byron Yawn offers vital input many men wished they had received during their growing-up years. This collection of 30 simple principles will help men to...

Identify and fill the gaps that occurred in their upbringing

Benefit from the hard-earned wisdom of others so they don’t make mistakes

Prepare their own sons for the difficult challenges of life

The 30 principles in this book are based in Scripture and relevant to every man. They include affection, courage, balance, consistency, and more. A true must-read!

Product Details:

List Price: $11.99

Paperback: 192 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736946381

ISBN-13: 978-0736946384


The Space Where
a Dad Should Be
Then Joseph fell on his father’s face,
and wept over him and kissed him.
{ Genesis 50:1 }
What kind of relationship did you have with your father?” And a thousand little memories flood the mind of a son. Immediately a forty-one-year-old husband and father of three is eight again. Few questions have the force to stop grown men in their tracks as does this one. The feelings run deep here. I mean really deep. I asked it of a rather spry waiter once to prove its power to a friend. The waiter was so struck by the apparent insight into his life he was inclined to lie down in the booth opposite me and assume the fetal position. Ask someone yourself. You’ll see what I mean. It evokes either warm reminiscent smiles or deeply resentful gazes. It opens a window into a soul. Fathers are important. I mean really important.
Maybe the best answer thus far has been “Good, but not much.” Which means, of course, Dad was a good man but not readily available. In the vast majority of cases, however, the answer is not even this favorable. Rare is the smile. Disappointment reigns. Some dads were “merely” negligent. Some were too busy. Some were passive. Some were mute. Some were angry. Some were physically abusive. Some were decent. Some were shells. Some vanished. In nearly every case—even in the worst-case scenarios—the answers are tilted toward gracious and affable. They’re more like excuses than answers. Sons have an instinct to cover their fathers’ failures. Sons love their dads even when their dads did not love them. It’s part of being a son. It’s also a sign of how sons are doomed to mimic their fathers’ primary failure—denial.
If you’re in the minority that considers your dad’s impact as generally favorable, I’d have you ask a deeper question. Was your dad simply around, or was he actually engaged in your life? There’s a big difference. One is a figure. The other is a mentor. How many life lessons did your dad actually offer you? How many principles did he offer when you were eight that you remembered when you were twenty-eight? How many of us had dads who were observant enough to step in and guide our hearts, or facilitate our calling in life? Maybe your dad taught you how to manage money, or instilled a work ethic. But did he teach you how proper money management and a work ethic are tied to much bigger realities? Did he expose you to the deeper joys of such virtues?
Many men will insist their dad’s inattention has had no great effect on them. Trust me—they’re lying. Boys need fathers like trees need trunks. I’ve seen strong and sturdy sixty-year-old men weep in sight of the empty space where a dad should have been or at the indelible marks left by tyrants who posed as fathers. So much in a man’s life can be traced back to the father—good and bad.
You’re Not Crazy
A prime example is the epidemic struggle with sexual sin among Christian men. Oftentimes, when helping men deal with this sin, I will ask, “Did you receive any instruction on sex in your adolescence?” In almost every case the answer is no. Your dad may have offered a single awkward lecture on anatomy, but that’s barely even helpful. Mainly we (the church) give the impression that sexuality and the natural desires of young men (or women) are something to be ashamed of. Is it any wonder it’s such a pervasive problem? When MTV is teaching our sons everything they know about sex and how to value women, they’re doomed.
At the exact moment a young man faces the most substantial physical, emotional, hormonal, and social changes of his life, he’s left to figure it out for himself. We stay on them about cleaning their rooms, but don’t say a word to them about sex. They go to bed dreaming of Legos in their childhoods and wake up Sasquatch. No one warns them of what’s coming. No one does them the incredible favor of assuring them that this bizarre physical transformation is normal. They grow up thinking they’re crazy.
In the absence of a guide it’s impossible to maneuver this space and live to tell about it. An unsupervised adolescent boy doesn’t have a prayer in this culture. You might as well drop him off at the porn shop on his thirteenth birthday. Seriously. Point is, in most cases this struggle (and many others) in men can be traced back to the empty space a father was designed to fill. Is it any wonder adult sons are so resentful of their fathers?
Father Wounds
At the same time, there are way too many “men” blaming their personal issues on their fathers’ failures. You can justify almost anything by lifting up your psyche and showing people your “daddy wound.” I know of men who’ve abandoned their wives and families and offer their “wounded spirits” as justification. At present, blaming our hang-ups on our “father wounds” is the default position. It’s trendy to have one. Like psychological tattoos. They all read, “Dad hurt my feelings.” The expression “father wound” is now in the realm of Christian clichés. Which means…it’s virtually meaningless.
Nonetheless, deep behind the lines of “suburbianity” this psychosomatic phenomenon is assumed to be true. Men eat it up. You mention the concept to fresh ears and to them, it magically explains the origin of every flaw they’ve ever had. Some of the most popular books on men are perched on this singular conviction. It’s always a pleasant little journey from assumption to foregone conclusion.
Just consider the number of men’s Bible studies and accountability groups dedicated to this concept. Men sit around and discuss it for weeks on end, sounding more like girls than men. There’s no way this is healthy. What good does it do to incessantly identify a chronic ache without taking action to correct it? It does no good. It makes us more self-absorbed than we already are. Trust me—the men in your small group may be nodding in affirmation on the outside, but they’re rolling the eyes of their heart on the inside. They’re tired of hearing about your dad’s lack of affection.
I get it. I’m not suggesting there’s no truth to the concept of emotional wounds. Some of us had messed-up childhoods. I have friends with painful stories. In some instances their personal suffering was so intense it’s hard to relate. Comparatively, my dad never beat me with a half-inch thick branch or made me sleep under my bed so as not to hear me sob. Some dads are pure evil. Generally, all of our dads made mistakes and had moments (or decades) of angry excesses. No man is perfect, and others are as far from it as possible.
Honestly though, so what? Get in line. Who hasn’t been hurt or sinned against—even by people we’re hard-wired to trust? Should we ask our wives about the innumerable “stupid wounds” they've received at our hands? Or should we talk to our kids? Or do we want to compare wounds with the Savior of sinners? This planet is littered with fallen narcissistic scavengers (including you and me) who’ll do almost anything to get what they want. Besides, if we were as angry at our sin as we are with our dad, we might actually get past some stuff. By the third (or ten thousandth) sad retelling of our disadvantaged youth, what good has it done anyway?
What the Cross Says to Victims
There’s a fine line between blame and acceptance. The balance between focusing on the injustices in our life and taking personal responsibility for our lives is difficult. Many men are imprisoned by memories, or the lack thereof. They can’t make it past the inequity of their experiences. The solution here is mainly theological and not therapeutic. It’s a matter of focus. My point is, it’s not about becoming intimate with your hang-ups. It’s about becoming intimate with your Creator. Will you spend your days examining self, or something greater than yourself    ? Other men with equally painful memories have found freedom in the cross. They have a different type of internal struggle. They can’t get over the “inequity” of Christ’s death.
What’s most notable about this last category of people is their normalcy. They’re stable, grateful, and productive people who love Christ. They seem never to draw attention to the scars etched in their lives, but are simultaneously better people because of them.
Those who adhere too tightly to the father wound philosophy tend to approach life as victims. Victims of their circumstances. In some cases childhood memories serve as the basic justification for their own misbehavior and delinquency. “Someone hurt me; therefore, you must cut me slack as I destroy everything in my path.” Life is spent examining their wounds ad nauseam. Daddy wounds are like rocks in their shoes.
This outlook on life is why some men never grow up. It’s an excuse for immobility and failure. They have trendy haircuts at fifty, frustrated wives, wear skinny jeans (strangely resembling elves), discontented jobs, massive debt, still shop at the Gap, try way too hard to be hip, and every single conversation you have with them is about them and why they are still living in their mother’s basement emotionally. It’s hopeless.
The other perspective has God and the cross in view. It takes in the same pain from a completely different angle. The cross looms over and brings clarity to the trauma that creeps into every life. It alone explains the real reason people do the horrible things they do—they’re sinners. This perspective requires humility because it acknowledges the mystery of sin. Who can explain why sin causes people to do the things they do? No one. Sin is intentional and irrational at the same time. People do these things because it’s in their natures to do them as sinners. But, rather than ending in fatalism, this awareness frees us. It keeps us from fixating our attention on the why of our circumstances. This world is sinful, that’s why people do the things they do.
The cross promises all the abused and abandoned that there will be justice. No one gets away. But, the cross goes farther. It doesn’t let the “victims” off the hook either. We’ve all sinned against people. Everyone has made a victim of someone. The cross is essentially screaming this at humanity. We’re all bad people. God did not die to save us from our daddy wounds. He died to save us from ourselves and the consequences of who we are. He died because rescuing sinful humanity from the wrath of God required a brutal death. We’re brutal people. This fact brings our self-fulfilling unending therapy session to an abrupt close. Before God we’re no better than our abusive, negligent, or “good, but not much” fathers.
Furthermore, the cross proves that our greatest need is not psychological and/or therapeutic, but spiritual. Understanding our circumstances, backgrounds, or psychological makeup may be helpful as far as it goes, but it can’t change your heart. It won’t help you truly forgive because it begins with an imperfect standard—you. The cross presents us with the perfect standard. It’s the truth about it all. The greatest tragedy in human history is the death of Christ. The innocent Son of God died in the place of guilty sinners. He was brutalized at the hands of ungrateful rebels. In this sense, the only innocent victim on the planet is Christ. The rest of us—all of us—are guilty. The cross puts the spikes in each of our hands and makes us face the truth about who we are.
From the view of the cross our forgiveness of others is based on the infinitely greater standard. We forgive in view of the forgiveness we’ve received in Christ. Our willingness to release others is not based on our pathetic self-estimation. It’s true forgiveness. It comes from a heart that has been transformed and is being transformed by a growing awareness of the grace of God toward sinners in the cross of Christ. It comes from a life that has been set free from a defense of self. The cross proves unequivocally that there’s nothing worth defending.
But we’re not left here to despair. The cross also makes sense of our life and its pain. In fact, what we did before Christ is nonsense and what we once considered absurd now makes complete sense. There is nothing in our life out of God’s control. The therapeutic perspective can’t get here. It can only patch us up and teach us how to walk with a limp. The gospel of sovereign grace transforms us and gives us new legs. It sets us free. All that happens to us—good and bad—presses us deep into the liberating reality of the mysterious cross. Our trials become messengers from God that teach us how to live with the rest of the sinners on this planet. Even our dads.
Alone Is Hard to Take
My biological father was a drummer in a rock band. My mom fell hard for him when she was really young. As a result, she never let me get near a drum set. (I think that qualifies as a “mommy wound.”) They ran off together with Springsteen’s “Born to Run” playing in the background of their naïveté. The joyride came to an end with the birth of their first child, my sister. It came off the rails with the birth of their second, me. As soon as my mom could raise enough money she left him to pursue his rock-and-roll fantasy. She was a mom now. That changed everything. He never grew up. Some things never change.
I was too young to know what had happened between them, or care. All I recall of my progenitor was an occasional visit in the summers of my youth. He was a cool customer and drove an even cooler custom van. Just imagine the seventies. He always had some beautiful woman with him who bore a striking resemblance to my mom. He would show up late morning to take my sister and me to lunch. The brief visit would end with a whirlwind trip to Kmart. With the brisk scent of materialism in my face he would confidently announce, “You can have anything you want, except a bike. That’s too expensive.” I settled for the Fonzie action figure with the movable thumb and miniature leather jacket. Then he would drop us off around three o’clock and leave. I had no idea who this guy was and why he bought me stuff. They told me he was my father, but that didn’t make any sense. Weren’t dads supposed to be around? Eventually, those outings came to an end.
I remember my mom being angry on the days he did come. That’s about all I recall. Well, that and the fact that the arm of the Six Million Dollar Man action figure came off, revealing bionics. My mom would sit on the couch at my grandparents’ home watching me play with my new little trinkets and weeping bitterly. She would eventually exit the room with a slam of the door. I would push my glasses up on my nose and stare curiously at the door through my cloudy little lenses. Adults were complicated. I was innocent and clueless. I imagine that’s the only thing that saves a kid in my situation. Truly, for a five-year-old, ignorance is bliss, but short-lived.
I now know what it was about that scene that hurt her so deeply. Me. There’s nothing so sad as a boy without a father. It’s like the emotion we have when we see people eating alone in restaurants. Alone is hard to take. Maybe the only thing more regrettable is the son whose father is present but might as well not be. Ultimately, both are alone in this world.
Who Doesn’t Want a Father?
Despite the absence of my biological father, I’ve avoided becoming a statistic. God, in His grace, sent me a replacement dad. Not long after my mom relocated she ran into a childhood friend of her brother’s, Victor Yawn. Several years later—after they were married—I was sitting on a wooden bench outside a courtroom, legs swinging back and forth in thick Southern air. Victor came and stood across from me, then squatted so as to look me right in the eyes. He then asked, “Do you want to be my son?” A strange question for a kid who already assumed he was. I looked at him and said, “Yep.” He disappeared into the courtroom. Later that day I was endowed with the worst last name a preacher could ever ask for, Yawn. A name for which I will forever be grateful.
That question is etched in my mind. It is a treasured memory. Imagine a day when the man who’s already functioning as your dad makes it official by asking you the most obvious question on the planet. Who doesn’t want a father? Believe me, I never took his presence for granted. In some ways I think there are a lot of men with biological children who need to get around to asking this same question. I’m pretty sure how their kids will answer. After all, who doesn’t want a father?
Despite the fact I was adopted by him, I didn’t realize he was my stepfather until many years later. For many it is the opposite scenario. Despite the fact that sons know who their biological fathers are, they don’t actually know them. My dad’s love was unconditional. This is why I have never referred to him as my stepfather, and bristle when others do. He never gave me a chance to know the difference. This only goes to prove the fact that many men who have kids aren’t fathers at all.
Let’s be clear. Any beast aroused at the right time with a suitable mate in view can produce an offspring. But only men can be fathers. Furthermore, it’s one thing for a father to be around; it’s another thing for a father to be engaged. Obviously, being around is better than not being around, but being engaged is invaluable. One simply fills a role. The other anchors a life. It’s obvious when a dad is merely tolerating his kid. No one knows this more than the kid. At the same time, nothing so enlivens the life of a child as a dad who cares. When dad is listening and tracking and caring for his son’s soul, the world is a safer place.
It’s unnatural for a father to ignore his children. It’s cruel. It’s a subtle form of abandonment. Kids are satisfied with the smallest crumb that occasionally falls from their father’s table. Since most children get very little from their dads, they’re content with whatever they get. Hence, “good, but not much.” Dads can do the smallest things and effect enormous joy in their children. Just coming home from work is an event. Dads don’t just come home. They arrive.
Most dads never notice the deep need for approval their sons carry around. It’s potent. One word of encouragement can have a lifetime of effect. It only takes one sentence to change a son’s life forever, “Son, I’m proud of you.” Those men who’ve never received this type of approval spend a lifetime working for it. Those who get it have a sense of assurance the rest don’t.
No dad is perfect. For the most part King David was a good father. Obviously he had some serious baggage, but he engaged with Solomon, warning his son to avoid the mistakes he made. Yet Solomon ended up the Casanova of the Bible. Then there was Saul—basically the Darth Vader of the Old Testament. Despite his stupidity he had an exemplary son like Jonathan. I guess the point is that so much is dependent on God’s grace. You could be the best dad on the planet and still have a bonehead for a son. Or you could be a total failure and have a son who honors you despite your inability to be a father to him.
Some fathers are good at some things, but no father is good at everything. Some things we have to figure out on our own. Those who never had fathers, or had really poor ones, can take some comfort in this fact. Eventually, even those who had ideal relationships with their fathers find themselves in the tangle of their own lives, wishing their father had told them a little bit more.
A Dad to the End
Dr. Victor Yawn and my youngest sister were crossing over a long country road. She was taking him back to the ER. As I recall, he had been watching his granddaughter in a play. They looked both ways down the familiar expanse and then proceeded across. The car that hit them was hidden by a dip in the road. It was a freak accident. In the very moment they turned to see what was coming they could not see it. But, it was coming. When my sister awoke—having been knocked unconscious at impact—he was lying against his seat looking at her. He had been waiting for her. When their eyes met he asked, “Sweetheart, are you okay?” She said, “Yes, Daddy.” He then closed his eyes, lay his head back, and surrendered to the internal injuries that eventually took his life. A dad to the end.
It was a bizarre phone call. “Your dad is not well; you should come home.” I had listened to my dad make the same call to the families of his patients a hundred times. I knew what it meant. This agonizing awareness filled the six-hour ride home. A strange painful anticipation. I knew he was gone. It was the longest ride of my life. I collapsed in tears in the ER parking lot when I finally received the inevitable news.
When I encountered my mom some time later, she asked the most appropriate question I’ve ever heard: “What are we going to do without him?” There’s only one answer to that question: “I don’t know.” Patriarchs are a tough loss. I’ve certainly not done as well as I would have otherwise.
Weeks before, my dad had been at my home in Dallas, Texas, where I was an associate pastor in a Bible church. We played golf, ate greasy food, contemplated life, annoyed our wives, and laughed. Father and son. He held my one-year-old daughter for a photo just before he departed. It hangs on the wall of my home.
In a sublime moment before his departure, which I will never forget, he took me around behind his Suburban. He looked me right in the eyes—no longer needing to squat down—and said, “Son, I’m so proud of you. I’m proud to call you my son. I just wanted you to know that.” Then he left. I remember walking into the house after our encounter and telling my wife, Robin, “God just gave me a tremendous gift. Dad and I are no longer just father and son; we’re friends. Best friends. I love that man.” Two weeks later the phone rang.
What comforted me most in the days leading up to and following his funeral was the closure. It was all done. The last thing I ever said to my dad was, “I love you.” We so often communicated our love to one another there was nothing I needed to say to him. As I’ve grown, however, there’s plenty I wish he had said to me. I’ve faced a lot of questions where my impulse was to pick up the phone and call him. There’s much more I wish he had said while he was still alive. Wisdom is a precious commodity. There’s none so valuable and trustworthy as the wisdom of a father.
In a weird providence, I’ve been fatherless twice. This fact has caused me to know the value of male influences in my life. I’ve sought out these influences. I’ve asked thousands of questions. My dad died when I was twenty-seven. From there to here I have taken careful notes and paid close attention to good fathers and consistent men. I’ve listened.
I now have three sons of my own. One awaits me in heaven. The two remaining here on earth are affectionately known as “Hammer and Nail.” Brothers. A fraternity I never had the privilege of experiencing. I love these boys. These boys love their dad. In many ways I’m a mooring for their lives. In others, they are a mooring for mine. Sons need dads in ways only being a dad makes obvious. All these principles I’ve picked up are now bombarding their world. Much of it is the content of this book.
I’m afraid for them. This world is brutal, especially for men. It’s a grinder. So I try not to waste a moment. I give them every ounce of wisdom I have to give about everything I can imagine. This includes simple and mundane things. Why you should never cut into a steak to see if it’s done. Why prevent defense never works. How you swing a hammer by holding it at the end of the handle. Then there are larger realities. Integrity. Love. Sex. Money. I never stop thinking about them and their future wives and kids. But mostly I pray. I know full well I’m a sinner raising sinners. Only God can do what needs to be done in their lives. I’m just an instrument.
The following chapters are some of what I want to say to my sons, as well as what I wish had been said to me. Principles. They come from various places. Some are hard-earned lessons. I’ve tried not to waste personal mistakes. As I have had the opportunity to do exit reviews on my blunders, various principles have emerged. My prayer is that what I’ve learned from my failures can preserve my sons from a similar fate. Other principles are borrowed from the wisdom of men in my life. I’ve made them my own over the years. They’ve been invaluable.
As you read, you’ll notice gaps—things proved to be valuable in your own life that aren’t included. This is inevitable. I’ve not intended to say everything that needed to be said, but only some of what every man wished he had known before. But as you compare notes with me, you should write down your thoughts. In fact, send me your suggestions, and I’ll add them to my list. But, more importantly, get up and walk down the hall to your son’s room, or pick up the phone to call your son. Tell him yourself. He’s been waiting for this moment. Call your dad. Tell him you love him.
I know one day my sons will wish I had told them more than I did. This too is inevitable. Fact is, I can’t tell them enough. So much will be up to them. As of now I’m trying—by God’s grace—to give my sons the best head start in this life I can. So, I talk to them. I’m engaged. Every night I’m home to put them to bed, without fail I bury my face in theirs and say, “I love you, son. I’m proud to have you as a son.” This isn’t everything they need to hear, but if it were the last thing they heard from me, there’d be nothing left to say.

My review:This was not only an interesting and easy to read book, but it is very relavent. Even in the church, boys are growing up not hearing and getting from their fathers what they so desperately need. In this book, the author presents several things boys need to hear and learn about from their fathers. From "I love you" to issues like sex, pornography, marriage, work, and many more. This is not a harsh book, but written by a father of 3 young sons who not only wants to raise his sons right, but help others to do so.

Every guy who is a father or will be should read this book. Too many boys are growing up to be broken, and some of it is because their fathers didn't do right by them. That isn't always the case, but this book is a must read for fathers.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Real blogging

I have some friends who occasionally grumble that all I ever do on my blog is book reviews, so I started a blog recently for "real blogging". I haven't posted much there yet, but to those friends, I just posted 4 blog posts that I had actually done months ago and never published... they are a bit controversial, but I decided to go ahead and publish them. So if you're bored, or if your blood pressure is a bit too low, read on.

Operation Bonnet by Kimberly Stuart

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Operation Bonnet
David C. Cook; New edition (February 1, 2011)
Kimberly Stuart

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kimberly says:

I am a writer of comedic fiction, and would like to suggest that you laugh regularly when reading my books. Let’s also try for one to two teary moments. If you are crying more than that, you don’t understand my sense of humor and should move on to another author.

I grew up in a book-loving home. Actually, that’s not entirely accurate. My mom loves books. My dad loves to read the first chapters of books and then make us all listen as he recites his favorite passages. I, however, enjoy reading books in their entirety and came into writing as a result of book-love. After earning two fancy degrees in education and Spanish, I promptly let the thinking part of my brain take a breather and instead became pregnant. (I’m sure a lot of other things happened between early literacy and pregnancy but I don’t really remember any of that. If you also have shared your uterus with another human, you understand.)

In an effort to author a book that would entertain my sassy, irreverent, breast-feeding/drooping friends, I wrote my first novel, Balancing Act. People were so nice to me after that, I decided to continue with writing. Also, I can’t craft, knit, or scrapbook, so what else was a nice, Christian girl to do?

In addition to writing books to make my friends laugh and cry, I observe the chaos at the home I share with my unfailingly supportive husband and three offspring. We’re doing our best and so far, no one’s been to prison.


Twenty-year-old Nellie Monroe has a restless brilliance that makes her a bit of an odd duck. She wants to be a private investigator, even though her tiny hometown offers no hope of clients. Until she meets Amos Shetler, an Amish dropout carrying a torch for the girl he left behind.

So Nellie straps on her bonnet and goes undercover to get the dish. But though she’s brainy, Nellie is clueless when it comes to real life and real relationships. Soon she’s alienated her best friend, angered her college professor, and botched her case.

Operation Bonnet is a comedy of errors, a surprising take on love, and a story of grace.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Operation Bonnet, go HERE.

Watch the book video trailer: