Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Far From Good by Stephen Van Zant

    A town divided by racial prejudice . . . When his school year draws to a close, Sam Cray looks forward to a carefree summer with his friends. However, now that his parents are divorced, it’s up to him to help his mom and tend to their rundown house. To make matters worse, their new neighbor is Coach Ray Bedford, a control freak known for his harsh manner on the football field and occasional racist remarks.

   When angry words between Sam’s friend, Dewayne, and Coach Bedford turn to blows, Sam is called to testify in a sensational trial that threatens to divide a small Kentucky town. Sam’s difficult choices and the trial’s aftermath set events in motion that put his life in danger. When a summer ending canoe trip with friends turns deadly, will Sam return alive?

My review:

     This book is juvenile fiction and is actually classified as "coming of age fiction", but as is usually the case with juvenile fiction that I read, I still enjoyed it.

     The book is set in 1975 in a town where there is still a lot of racial prejudice. The author shows a very realistic picture of what life was like in such a town with such prejudice, and weaves his story around those circumstances. I have to admit, I am so used to it being the way it is now, that it seems so far out to imagine that it was like that once, so the book was more than entertaining, it was a reminder of how far we have come as a nation.

  I liked the characters in the book, especially the main character, Sam. He wanted to do the right thing, but didn't always do so, and his attempts to right a wrong put himself and others in danger. I really enjoyed the book. This is the author's first book he has written, and he has done a great job.

  One reason I review juvenile books is so I can find good books to pass on to my nieces and nephews. This is one I know they will enjoy, and while being an interesting read for them, will also educate them on how this country used to be with racial prejudice.

About the author:

Attorney Stephen Van Zant played varsity basketball and football in high school and was a Kentucky Governor’s Scholar. In 1990 he graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in English from the University of Kentucky. In 1993 he graduated from the University of Louisville School of Law, becoming the fourteenth lawyer in his family’s history.

He is now a partner in the law firm of Bell, Hess & Van Zant, PLC (www.bhvzlaw.com). His interest and experience in sports has led him to provide color commentary for radio broadcasts of high school basketball games. He and his wife, Kelli, have four children – Zack, Katie, Abbey, and Adam – and live in Oldham County, Kentucky.

Visit the website for the book at farfromgood.com

Far From Good is available from Winepress Publishing.

Thanks to Winepress for the review copy.

Book excerpts:

Excerpt 1: “I hope that Cray boy’s a respectful kid.” Coach Bedford heaped scrambled eggs onto his plate before assaulting them with pepper. “I liked the Hamiltons when they lived next door, at least when they could keep up with their yard work. They were just the kind of neighbors I like: quiet, respectful, and—” “—nearly dead,” Larry said. “What was Mr. Hamilton? Ninety-five when he died?” Coach Bedford poured a generous dollop of gravy on his three biscuits. “I’ll have a talk with the Cray boy as soon as I can. There’s no substitute for bein’ proactive about this sort of thing. The last thing I want is a little hellion livin’ next door with nobody but a single mom to discipline him.”

Excerpt 2: The memory of Coach Bedford falling to the ground kept replaying in his mind. Had Dewayne killed him? Moonlight broke from the trees, shimmering across the lawn like a ghost. Sam sucked in a quick breath. Coach Bedford lay face up on his front lawn. Meredith knelt beside him, her face in her hands.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Accidentally Amish by Olivia Newport

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Accidentally Amish
Barbour Books (October 1, 2012)
Olivia Newport


A Word From The Author:

I’m imagining you. You walk past as I water my front flowerbeds and we wave. You check the time as we both stand in a long line at the grocery store. You sit in front of me in church. I’m at my table in the coffee shop and you’re at yours.

We may smile politely and move on with our separate lives. Or one of us may speak, a simple invitation to conversation, and the words flow between us.

Here the adventure begins. When we meet someone new, we never know where it might lead.

I’ve been married for over thirty years and have two twenty-something kids. We live in stunning Colorado at the foot of the Rockies, where the day lilies in my back yard grow as tall as I am. (No short jokes, please.)

Not every piece of my life is pretty, though. Some days I want to throw out whole chunks. But I am living each day looking for the grace of God to me, in me, and through me. Having your companionship along the way will help uncover a lot of great stories.

Thanks for stopping by my site, where conversations and adventures begin with a click. I hope we’ll run into each other often.


Escape the helter-skelter of the modern culture and join software creator Annie Friesen, hiding at the home of an Amishman. With her high-tech career in jeopardy, Annie runs from fast-paced Colorado Springs—and straight into the hospitality of San Luis Valley’s Amish community. There she meets cabinetmaker Rufus Beiler, and the more time she spends with him, the more attracted she becomes. When Annie finds she shares a common ancestor with Rufus, she feels both cultures colliding within her. But is her love for Rufus strong enough for her to give up the only life she’s ever known?

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

Friday, October 19, 2012

In defense of clean speech in Christian fiction

Author Adam Blumer is starting a series of blog posts about something that is important to me, clean language in Christian fiction. I believe Christians should be careful about the language we speak - and write, and am tired of Christian authors and publishers including curse words and vulgar language and not caring who they offend. Adam has one post up so far, but it is very concise and well thought out. I look forward to reading more. The link to it is here: http://www.adamblumerbooks.com/2012/10/19/in-defense-of-clean-speech-part1/

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tangled Ashes by Michele Phoenix

When Marshall Becker arrives in Lamorlaye, France, to begin the massive renovation of a Renaissance-era castle, he unearths a dark World War II history few in the village remember. The project that was meant to provide an escape for Becker instead becomes a gripping glimpse into the human drama that unfolded during the Nazi occupation and seems to live on in midnight disturbances and acts of vandalism.

Populated with a cast of complex characters, “Tangled Ashes” follows Becker’s exploration of the castle’s shadowy past as he seeks to cope with an unbearable present. From the virtually mute recluse who lives in the gatehouse to the feisty and enigmatic nanny of the owner’s children, every one of the ch√Ęteau’s inhabitants seems to have something to hide and something to survive—but none more so than Becker himself.

My review:

      This book is actually two stories in one that both merge into the same story at the end of the book. The modern day story centers around Becker, a construction and restoration expert that is in France against his wishes to restore a castle. Becker is battling alcoholism and other demons, including anger and disappointment with God.

    The other story is set during World War II and covers a"baby factory" for Hitler, and gives a fascinating fictional look into actual happenings.

   In a story such as this, there was a surprising lack of romance, at least in the modern part of the story, and I actually like the fact that the author didn't tie everything up in a tidy bow at the end. The main characters are making progress in their personal battles, but not everything is resolved.

  I've never read anything by this author, but I really enjoyed the book. She does a great job of telling two stories and merging them seamlessly, and also of portraying life in the setting of France that she uses as her setting. One thing I would change: she tossed some French words and phrases around the book, and since I don't know any French, I was clueless. I wish there had been a glossary to define and explain those.

   I knew nothing of baby factories for Hitler and found that interesting to read about. I would recommend this book and author. Great plot, setting, and characters.

About the author:

Born in France to an American mother and a Canadian father, Michele Phoenix is an international writer with multi-cultural sensitivities. A graduate of Wheaton College, she taught writing, music, and theater at the boarding school for missionaries' children she attended as a teenager. She currently works for Global Outreach Mission as an advocate for Third Culture Kids, helping them transition back into North American culture and educating stateside churches and missions about the special needs of this people group.
Michele lives in Wheaton, Illinois.

Visit michelephoenix.com for more information.

Tangled Ashes is available from Tyndale Publishing.

Thanks to Handlebar Marketing for the review copy.

Saving Gideon by Amy Lillard

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Saving Gideon
B&H Books (October 1, 2012)
Amy Lillard


A Word from Amy:I’m a wife, mother, and bona fide Southern belle. Published author, expert corn bread maker, and Squirrel Princess.

I live in Tulsa, though I was born in Mississippi. I moved to the Sooner State when I was seventeen and met my soul mate and best friend not long after. I’ve retained a little of my Mississippi accent though most people think I’m from Texas. (?) Rob and I have been married for over twenty years and have a son–a mom proclaimed prodigy, of course!

I love homemade tacos, shoes, and romance novels–not necessarily in that order. I’m a big fan of country music, a staunch proponent of saving the Oxford comma, and I’m shamefully obsessed with all things Harry Potter.

I believe that God is love. I guess that’s why I adore romances.

I have always been intrigued with the Amish culture, their gentle ways and slower-paced lifestyle. (And I love, love, love the fact that they stay married for their lifetime.) But until recently I never thought to blend this interest with my penchant for romance. Okay, okay, I’m a bit old-fashioned and even enjoy the gender roles that are present in this culture. I love to cook and take care of my family. Yes, that’s me June Cleaver with a laptop.

I dislike people trying to convince me to read the Twlight series (I’ll get to it or I won’t, either way I’m good with it), gratuitous violence, and strawberry ice cream. (I know I’m alone on this last one, and again, I’m good with it.)

Favorite movies–(besides HP) French Kiss, Maid of Honor, A Lot Like Love, Just Married, and Sweet Home Alabama. Oh, and Miss Congeniality, Sabrina (both versions) and a 1940′s movie called Dear Ruth. If you haven’t seen it, you should! A-dorable. Anything with Doris Day and most all of Marilyn’s and Audrey’s.


Gideon Fisher wants one thing out of life -- to be left alone. This is not the Amish way, but he’s devastated after the death of his wife and son to the point of losing his faith. He buys a farm on the outskirts of the district and pulls away from his community. But when a freak spring snowstorm brings a beautiful Englisher to his farm, what choice does Gideon have but to let her in?

Dallas socialite Avery Ann Hamilton is intrigued by the Amish farmer who pulls her out of the snow and into his austere lifestyle. Poor little rich girl, Avery has just gone through (yet another) bad breakup. Every man she meets only wants her for her father’s money. All she has ever wanted is to be loved for herself. Avery soon discovers the Oklahoma Amish country is the perfect place to hide out and heal her broken heart.

But she finds a peace in those back roads that she’s never felt before. Now her life has purpose and meaning as she connects with God and those around her. And there’s something more as she begins to care for this man who needs both love and forgiveness.

Gideon never wanted to live again much less fall in love, but Avery finds her way into his heart, showing him the beauty of life and God’s greatness. Yet as the feelings between Avery and Gideon grow, can they overcome their dissimilar lifestyles, or will their sheer differences pull them apart? If you would like to read the first chapter of Saving Gideon, go HERE

The Sons of Jude by Brandt Dodson

The body of a young woman is found in a dumpster in Chicago and detectives Andy Polanski and Frank Campello are charged with finding the killer. The two are polar opposites. Polanski is the son of a disgraced Chicago police officer and is fastidious about his reputation. He has also recently been transferred from another district having blown the whistle on some corrupt cops. Campello, however, takes a live-and-let-live approach to his life and job.

It soon becomes clear, as another young woman--a potential witness--is murdered, that a sex-trafficking operation in Chicago is preying on illegal aliens. As the ill-matched pair dig deeper, an influential alderman and his son are implicated. Then Polanski is framed for a narcotics offense, devastating the cases against the corrupt officers and the alderman. Only when Campello is challenged by a local minister, whom he meets when visiting Polanski, does he find the motivation to seek justice.

My review:

  If you're looking for a book that is unapologetically Christian fiction, this book is not for you. The main character drinks, smokes, and is definitely not a Christian. There is some very brief Christian content in the book, and two uses of God's name taken in vain. Other than that, I would almost classify it as clean secular fiction.

   Those issues aside, it was a great read, and though there wasn't much Christian about it, the book was clean. The book revolves around police officers and corruption in the police department. It has a great plot and characters, and given the authors law enforcement experience, the police actions and activities have a very realistic feel and approach. The book is very fast-paced and once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down.

   This is a new publisher for this author, and I have read previous books by him that contained no uses of God's name taken in vain and had more Christian content, so hopefully this is a fluke and the rest of the books in this series will do better in those areas.

About the author:

Brandt was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana, which he would later choose as the setting for his Colton Parker Mystery series. Although he discovered in grade school that he wanted to be a writer, it would be another twenty-one years before he would put pen to paper.
“I knew in fifth grade that I wanted to be a writer. Our teacher had given each of us a photograph which we were to use as inspiration for a short story. The particular photo I was given was of several young men playing handball in New York City. I don’t remember all of the particulars of the story now, but I do remember the thrill that writing it gave me.”
In high school, Brandt’s English teacher uncovered his growing desire and encouraged him by saying:

“If you don’t write, you’ll regret it the rest of your life.”

Later, while in college, one of Brandt’s professors would echo that teacher’s comment.
“But life intervened and I found myself working at a variety of jobs. I worked in the toy department of a local department store and fried chicken for a local fast food outlet. Over the course of the next several years I finished my college degree and worked for the Indianapolis office of the FBI, and served for eight years as a Naval Officer in the United States Naval Reserve. I also obtained my doctorate in Podiatric Medicine, and after completion of my surgical residency, opened my own practice. But I never forgot my first love. I wanted to write.”

During his early years in practice, Brandt began reading the work of Dean Koontz.
“I discovered Dean’s book, The Bad Place, and was completely blown away by his craftsmanship. I read something like 13 or 14 of his back list over the following two weeks. It wasn’t long after that I began to write and submit in earnest.”
Still, it would be another twelve years before Brandt was able to secure the publishing contract he so desperately desired.

“I began by writing the type of fiction that I enjoyed; I wrote edgy crime thrillers that were laced with liberal amounts of suspense. Over the years, I’ve begun to write increasingly more complex work by using broader canvases and themes.

Since securing his first contract, Brandt has continued to pen the type of stories that inspired him to write when he was a boy, and that have entertained his legions of readers.
“I love to write, and as long as others love to read, I plan on being around for a long time to come.”

Sons of Jude is the first book in a series and is available from Monarch Publishing, a division of Kregel Publishing.

Thanks to Kregel for the review copy.

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Thousand Sleepless Nights by Michael King

A family torn apart by neglect and hurt…

And brought together again by a most unlikely force

In the 1970s, escaping a home where he knew nothing but violence and hate, Jim Harding found work, and love, on the largest horse ranch in Virginia. The object of his affections, Nena St. Claire, is the daughter of the owner—a man who ruled his ranch with an iron fist and would do whatever it took to keep Nena and Jim apart.
Against the wishes of her family, Nena marries Jim, and after her father dies, she sacrifices everything—including her family—to keep the ranch alive. Now their three grown children have lives of their own and want nothing to do with Nena. She was never the mother they needed.
When cancer strikes and Nena is given a devastating diagnosis, can Jim reconcile the family before it is too late?

My review:

   Michael King is a pen name for an author I regularly read and is one of my favorite authors. He normally writes suspense fiction with supernatural elements. This book does not fall into that genre', hence the pen name.

   Writing a different genre' than what he normally writes has shown what a talented and gifted author Mike is. I was eager to read this to see how he would do with a different genre', and he did a great job.

   The story itself isn't a happy story, but it has depth, and is definitely worth reading. It is fiction and deals with the issue of cancer, of which the author is a survivor of. Mike has created some very flawed and imperfect characters and woven a great story around them. With incredible insight coming from his own health issues, he does a terrific job of showing the journey through cancer starting with the diagnosis and going up through chemotherapy. He perfectly captures the feelings of the cancer patient and the effects of it on not just her, but on her family.

    I typically enjoy happier stories, and it isn't fun to read about issues like cancer, but it is something that touches us all, and if it hasn't yet.... it will some day. A book like this may not give you a happy warm fuzzies feeling while you're reading it, but it is the type of book we should all read. Kudos to Mike for stretching his wings and trying a different style of book, and for pulling it off very nicely.

Check out the launch page for the book which has some free stuff for those who purchase it.

About the author:

Michael King is the pen name for Mike Dellosso. He is the author of numerous novels of suspense, including Darkness Follows, Darlington Woods, and Scream. He is an adjunct professor of writing at Lancaster Bible College and frequent contributor to Christian websites and newsletters. Mike is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers association, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, the Relief Writer’s Network, and FaithWriters, and he plans to join International Thriller Writers. He earned his BA degree from Messiah College and his MBS from Master’s International School of Divinity. He lives in Hanover, PA, with his wife and daughters. Hometown: Hanover, PA.

In addition to his being a fantastic author, he is also a super nice and regular guy.

A Thousand Sleepless Nights is Mike's sixth full length novel, and his first under the pen name of Michael King. Check out his websites:
Mike Dellosso
Michael King
A Thousand Sleepless Nights is available from Realms Publishing.

Thanks to Realms and the author for the review copy.

Friday, October 12, 2012

When A Heart Stops by Lynette Eason

A killer's deadly game needs new players . . . but someone's about to change the rules

As a medical examiner, Serena Hopkins is used to dealing with death. But that doesn't make it any easier when she's called to the eerie scene of a murder--especially when Serena realizes that she knows the victim. Nearly as unnerving is the presence of FBI agent Dominic Allen, her childhood crush.

As evidence mounts and points to a serial killer with disturbingly familiar methods, Serena and Dominic must work to find a pattern and stop the killings before the murderer strikes again. And when Serena's own life seems at stake, she must decide if the secret she has been keeping has put her next on the killer's hit list. Can she trust Dominic with the truth before it's too late?

My review:

Lynette Eason has done it again. She is still a somewhat new author to me, as I have only read five of her books. With this book, as the other four I have read, she has written an excellent page-turning suspense novel that is the epitome of great Christian suspense.

This is book two in the Deadly Reunions Series. Although like the first book in the series, this book does have an ending and a crime solved, there is still a plot threading throughout the whole series that I assume will conclude in the third book, which is not out yet.

The plot in When a Heart Stops is well done. Sometimes the reader can see things coming in this type of book, but I was kept guessing, and didn't figure things out ahead of time. I liked the characters in this book. The two main characters had appeared in the first book in small cameo appearances, and it was nice to get to know them a little better. The author also gave more insight into the main plot that the whole series is about, and the book ended with me eager to get to the conclusion of that.

These types of books usually have a romantic element/plot, and this one was no different. It was not overdone or sappy, and only added to the story. Men and women alike who enjoy good suspense should enjoy reading this book and series.

About the author:

Lynette Eason is the author of several romantic suspense novels, including Too Close to Home, Don't Look Back, A Killer Among Us, and When the Smoke Clears. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. A homeschooling mother of two, she has a master's degree in education from Converse College. She lives in South Carolina.

When a Heart Stops is available October 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Thanks to Donna from Revell for the review copy.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fatal Distractions: Conquering Destructive Temptations by Kay Arthur

Don’t become a spiritual statistic.
Any type of sin can undermine a believer’s effectiveness, but certain sins can become so deeply rooted in our lives—even without our realizing—that they become fatal to our spiritual growth.

This study looks at six of the “deadly” sins that threaten spiritual progress: Pride, Anger, Jealousy, Gluttony, Slothfulness, and Greed. You’ll learn to identify the subtle ways in which these fatal distractions can invade your life, and you’ll be equipped to conquer these destructive temptations so you can mature in your journey with Christ.

40 minutes a week could change your life!

The 40-Minute Bible Studies series from the teaching team at Precepts Ministries International tackles the topics that matter to you. These inductive study guides, designed to be completed in just six 40-minutes lessons with no homework required, help you discover for yourself what God says and how it applies to your life today. With the leader’s note and Bible passages included right in the book, each self-contained study is a powerful resource for personal growth and small-group discussion.

My review:

I was  trying to find a new book to review from the available books that Waterbrook/Multnomah had on their site, and decided to try this one. I admit I've never been one to do Bible studies, but I'm glad I got it. It is a 6-week Bible study, so I haven't gone the whole way through it, but I like it. It is very well done, and gets the points across very well.

This Bible study has the Scripture right in the book, which is an advantage, though it uses the New American Standard Bible, which is not one I am used to. I would prefer a different translation myself. Other than that, I think it is an excellent Bible study. I am doing it on my own, but I can see that it would be better done with a group of people. Each week has several sections of Scripture which are called the "observe" section, and it is followed by the "discuss" section. At the end of each week's lesson, there is a section titled "wrap it up."

This study is on conquering destructive temptations, and 6 are discussed in the book, but the discussion and advice could apply to any temptation.

The study is part of the 40 Minute Bible Study series from Precept Ministries International, and is only one of several studies from them. It is a good indication that this whole series is worth checking out and using.

About the author:

KAY ARTHUR founded Precept Ministries International with her husband, Jack, in 1970. What started as a fledgling ministry to teens is now a worldwide outreach with Inductive Bible Studies in nearly 150 countries and 70 languages. Arthur has written 100-plus books and Bible studies, including the Gold Medallion-winner Lord, I Need Grace to Make It Today. Arthur reaches over 90 million viewers and listeners through her half-hour television program Precepts for Life and the one-minute radio feature Precepts from God's Word, aired on nearly 1,000 radio and television stations worldwide and available online at www.preceptsforlife.com.
Kay received the National Religious Broadcasters "Best Television Teaching Program" award in 2004 and in 2009 for Precepts For Life, Precept Ministries' half-hour television program. She holds an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Tennessee Temple University. For more information about Kay Arthur and Precept Ministries International, visit www.precept.org.

Fatal Distractions: Conquering Destructive Temptations is available from Waterbrook/Multnomah Publishing.

Thanks to Waterbrook/Multnomah for the review copy.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

77 FAQS About God and The Bible by Josh and Sean McDowell

Real-life, on-the-street Christian apologetics is what readers expect from Josh McDowell. Here, he and his son, Sean, reflect their ongoing research and close engagement with our culture in answers to classic questions such as…
  • Is there scientific proof God exists?
  • How can a loving God send people to hell?
  • Why does God allow suffering?
  • Is the New Testament historically reliable?
  • Aren’t there errors and contradictions in the Bible?
…and questions that arise from today’s culture:
  • If God is so loving, why can’t he be more tolerant of sin?
  • Is God sexist?
  • Is religion the real cause of violence in the world?
  • How can teachings from the ancient cultures of the Bible be relevant to our culture?
  • What’s the difference between the Bible and the Koran?
77 FAQs offers the concise, accessible presentations that readers want and need in an apologetic resource—answers they’ll turn to for help in everyday life.

My review:

There are certain authors whose names are associated with great books. Josh McDowell is one such author, and his son seems to be following in his footsteps. The two of them combined their efforts and came out with a great book and tool. They cover a lot in this book, 77 topics in all, and answer them in a Biblically-based way.

The book is split into two sections. The first section is all questions about God, and the second section are all questions about the Bible. The topics/questions cover about everything you can think of - some examples given above, and the authors do a great job of answering them in a way that doesn't still leave questions. This is the kind of book that would be great for new Christians, but none of us know everything we need to know, so this would be good for the most mature Christians among us. I have been reading the Bible since I was a kid, attended church, Christian school, and Bible college, and I still had some questions - some of them covered in this book.

It is an informative and helpful book that is also easy to read. The chapters are short, most of them 2-4 pages, and is the kind of book that you can read small portions daily. I would highly recommend it to be in any Christian's library.

About the authors:

Josh McDowell has been reaching the spiritually skeptical for more than five decades. Since beginning ministry in 1961, Josh has delivered more than 24,000 talks to over 10 million young people in 118 countries. He is the author or coauthor of 130 books, with over 51 million copies distributed worldwide, including 77 FAQs About God and the Bible, Experience Your Bible, Evidence for the Historical Jesus, More Than a Carpenter (over 15 million copies printed in 85 languages), and The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, recognized by World magazine as one of the twentieth century's top 40 books. Josh continues to travel throughout the United States and countries around the world, helping young people and adults strengthen their faith and understanding of Scripture. Josh will tell you that his family is his ministry. He and his wife, Dottie, have been married for over 40 years and have four children and numerous grandchildren.

Visit his website at josh.org.

Sean McDowell is an educator and a popular speaker at schools, churches, and conferences nationwide. He is author of Ethix: Being Bold in a Whatever World, coauthor of 77 FAQs About God and the Bible, Experience Your Bible, and Understanding Intelligent Design, and general editor of Apologetics for a New Generation and The Apologetics Study Bible for Students. He is currently pursuing a PhD in apologetics and worldview studies. Sean’s website, www.seanmcdowell.org, offers his blog, many articles and videos, and much additional curriculum.

77 FAQS About God and The Bible is available from Harvest House Publishers.

Thanks to Harvest House for the review copy.

Understanding World Religions In 15 Minutes a Day by Garry R Morgan

A Concise, Easy-to-Understand Overview of the World's Religions

What religions are represented in your neighborhood, your workplace, and your children's school? Things seem to be changing every day, and it can be hard to keep up. You may know a little about some of these religions. Others are new to you. You'd like to learn about them and how they differ from your beliefs, but who has time to do all the research?

In Understanding World Religions in 15 Minutes a Day, cross-cultural expert and professor Garry Morgan explains the key beliefs, histories, and practices of more than twenty religions, including the familiar--Christianity, Judaism, Mormonism--and some of the lesser known--Baha'i, Sikhism, and New Age religions. Broken into forty short readings, each chapter is engaging and easy to understand. In just minutes a day you'll soon have a better understanding of the world's beliefs.

My review:

This book is not an extensive review of any religion, nor was it meant to be, but the author does a great job of presenting the main ideas and other information about some of the religions in the world. The chapters are fairly short, mostly four pages in length, but not all religions get one chapter. Islam, for example, gets six chapters: Beginnings, Foundations, Beliefs, Theology, Varieties and Issues, and The Nation of Islam. It is the only one covered that extensively, and most likely since it is the biggest religious threat to Christianity.

The information given on each religion is concise and relevant, and the book is very easy to read. Some books like this tend to get wordy and the reader can get bogged down, but this is a book that will hold your attention and help you learn a little more about some of the world religions.

About the author:

Garry R. Morgan is Professor of Intercultural Studies at Northwestern College. He served with World Venture from 1974–1976 and 1982–1999 in Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Tanzania. Garry is married, has a grown daughter, and lives in the Minneapolis/ St. Paul area.
Read an excerpt from the book here.
Understanding World Religions In 15 Minutes a Day is available from Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Book House Publishers.  Thanks to Bethany House for the review copy.

Deployed by Mel Odom

Sergeant Lance Corporal Bekah Shaw joined the United States Marine reserves to help support herself and her son when her ex-husband, Billy Roy, decided they were no longer his responsibility. But when her team is activated and sent to Somalia on a peacekeeping mission, Bekah struggles with being separated from her son and vows to return safely.

Once a successful Somalian businessman, Rageh Daud has lost everything. Determined to seek revenge on the terrorists who killed his wife and son, he teams up with a group of thieves, killers, and others displaced by war. Despite his better judgment, Daud becomes the protector of a young orphaned boy—who becomes a pawn between the warring factions.

To defeat the terrorists and bring peace to the region, Bekah and her team must convince Daud that they are on the same side.

My review:

I could get in trouble for saying this, but I almost didn't get this book because the main character is a female marine. I may be alone in my views, but I don't think women belong in the military. However, I read a series of books by Mel Odom a few years ago, NCIS, which was a terrific series, which unfortunately only had 3 books in it.

Once I got past the idea of a female marine, I really enjoyed the book. I liked the characters, and I enjoy a book with military action. This book is pretty fast-paced and is the kind you don't want to put down, so I didn't. I've never been in the military, nor in countries like the setting for this book, but it seemed to me that the author did a great job of portraying life in the military and the actions they would take. I did wonder about a woman being involved in the endeavors the main character was in - I thought they weren't allowed in combat, but what do I know.

This is a book more for men, though women who enjoy military action books will enjoy it also. It is a very entertaining read, yet is a great reminder of what our military goes through.

About the author:

Mel Odom is a full-time writer with many published works to his credit. Mel has been inducted into the Oklahoma Professional Writers Hall of Fame and received the Alex Award for his fantasy novel The Rover. Mel has published the Apocalypse series and the NCIS series with Tyndale House. Mel resides in Oklahoma with his wife and five children.

Deployed is the first book in the Called to Serve Series, and is available from Tyndale Publishing. Thanks to Tyndale for the review copy.

Life With Lily by Mary Ann Kinsinger and Suzanne Woods Fisher

For a child, every day is a thing of wonder. And for six-year-old Lily Lapp, every day is a new opportunity for blessings, laughter, family, and a touch of mischief. As she explores her world, goes to school, spends time with her family, and gets into a bit of trouble with her friends, Lily learns what it means to be Amish and what it means to grow up. From getting a new teacher to welcoming a new sibling, Lily's life is always full of adventure.

The first of four charming novels that chronicle the gentle way of the Amish through the eyes of a young girl, Life with Lily gives children ages 8-12 a fascinating glimpse into the life of the Amish--and lots of fun and laughter along the way. It combines the real-life stories of growing up Amish from Mary Ann Kinsinger and the bestselling writing of Amish fiction and nonfiction author Suzanne Woods Fisher. With charming illustrations throughout, this series is sure to capture the hearts of readers young and old.

My review:

I don't typically read the Amish books that are so popular, but I do like to review juvenile books so I can recommend and pass them on to my nieces and nephews, so I did request this one.

The book was well done, and well written. It is intended for ages 8-12, and I think the authors did a great job of writing it for that audience. From what I know of the Amish, they present a pretty good picture of what life would be like for a young Amish girl growing up. I am an adult, but I still found the story interesting and easy to read. The chapters are just the right length for this age audience, and there are great illustrations scattered throughout the book. Girls especially, of the intended age audience will enjoy reading about Lily and her growing up as a young Amish girl.

About the authors:

Mary Ann Kinsinger was raised Old Order Amish in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. She met and married her husband, whom she knew from school days and started a family. After they chose to leave the Amish church, Mary Ann began a blog, A Joyful Chaos, as a way to capture her warm memories of her childhood for her own children. From the start, this blog found a ready audience and even captured the attention of key media players, such as the influential blog AmishAmerica and the New York Times. She lives in Pennsylvania.

Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of The Choice, The Waiting, The Search, The Keeper, and The Haven, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace. She is also the coauthor of a new Amish children's series, The Adventures of Lily Lapp. Her interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly traced to her grandfather, who was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne is a Christy Award finalist and a Carol Award finalist. She is the host of internet radio show Amish Wisdom and a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazines. She lives in California. For more information, please visit www.suzannewoodsfisher.com and connect with her on Twitter @suzannewfisher.

Available October 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Thanks to Donna at Revell for the review copy.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Brink of Chaos by Tim LaHaye and Craig Parshall

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Brink of Chaos
Zondervan (September 25, 2012)
Tim LaHaye and Craig Parshall


Tim LaHaye is a New York Times bestselling author of more than 70 nonfiction books, many on biblical prophecy and end-times. He is the coauthor of the record-shattering Left Behind series and is considered one of America's foremost authorities on biblical end-times prophecy.

LaHaye has written more than 60 non-fiction books on a wide range of subjects such as: family life, temperaments, sexual adjustment, Bible prophecy, the will of God, Jesus Christ, and secular humanism with over 14 million in print, some of which have been translated into thirty-two foreign languages. His writings are best noted for their easy-to-understand and scripturally based application of biblical principles that assist in facing and handling the challenges of life.

Craig Parshall serves as senior vice-president and general counsel for the National Religious Broadcasters and has authored seven bestselling suspense novels.

Craig Parshall is a highly successful lawyer from the Washington, DC, area and the author of the popular Chambers of Justice series of legal thrillers. With his wife, Janet, he has also authored the historical novel Crown of Fire, which takes place in the 1500s against the turbulent backdrop of the Scottish Reformation.


In the third book of The End series, Joshua Jordan remains in Israel during his self-imposed 'exile' out of the reach of U.S. authorities who have trumped-up false criminal treason charges against him. His wife, Abigail, continues to lead the Roundtable to prove the innocence of her husband. Following the nuclear attack by Russia, Israel is cleaning up the bodies of dead enemy soldiers for 7 months and setting out on its 7 year plan---both per the prophecies in Ezekiel. As corruption in high government offices threaten to block the election of a worthy presidential candidate by all means necessary---including the unthinkable---Israel's leadership is tempted to sign a 'peace' proposal initiated by the UN under the authority of Coliquin. After he discusses this plan with Pastor Peter Campbell, Joshua is convinced Coliquin may well be the prophesied Anti-Christ and that his peace plan is a trap to destroy Israel. Are the recurring dreams Joshua has had about the coming rapture from God. And is the end sooner than anyone expects?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Brink of Chaos, go HERE

My review:
This whole series is excellent, but this book was the best of all, and I am guessing, the last book in the series. It is fiction, but the events described in the book are all too possible nowadays, for example the US giving control of everything over to the United Nations. The authors paint a very scary picture of what that would be like.

I love the main characters in the book, the Jordan family. With the plot woven around them that the authors wrote, this makes for a very entertaining, yet sobering read. I would highly recommend it, though you do need to read the three books in order.