Friday, February 28, 2014

Stronghold by C.J. Stunkard, with a giveaway

The setting is familiar to many. Alone at the computer, the Christian must choose whom he will serve—his Holy Savior or himself. What is at work in the soul at these moments? What does temptation look like in our hearts?

Tonight, one believer asks himself that question, and the answer changes his life forever. He finds himself in Solsland, a fantasy realm of his imagining, where The Lamb reigns as king but hell’s minions linger. Here, The Believer must confront sin as flesh. Demonic hordes war against him. A horrid beast hunts in shadow. Angels rally to his aid, and forces clash across his soul. The tide could turn at any moment and more is at stake than one night’s temptation. Join the believer in his Christ-exalting journey of sanctification.

The battle is fantasy. The war is real. 

My review:
  I occasionally get emails from authors asking me to consider reviewing their books. Sometimes it doesn't sound like one I'd be interested in, and sometimes it sounds like one that I'd definitely be interested in. This fell into the latter. Though I wasn't too sure about a debut novel that was self-published, the book description intrigued me enough that I agreed to review it.

  The book starts out with a man sitting at his computer. He is being strongly tempted to give in and view pornography, something he has done many times before, but he is trying to break free from the addiction. Frustrated, he finds himself wishing he could face the temptations in the flesh and fight them as you would a person. He gets his wish, and the majority of the book is taken up with him fighting the literal temptations on the landscape of his soul.

 It is hard to describe or label this book. It is somewhat allegorical in many ways, and it reminded me a bit of Pilgrim's Progress. I would almost say it is Pilgrim's Progress meets Frank Peretti and The Chronicles of Narnia. It really is a great picture of the battle for a man's soul on the landscape of his soul against lust and pornography. 

  The author admits he has struggled with it in the book, so I don't think he'd mind me saying it is obvious he knows something about the struggle as he does a terrific job of putting that battle into a novel.

  It is also obvious that he put a lot of work into the book. There are all kinds of angels and demons that he came up with not just a name for the kind of demons and angels, but also names for a lot of the angels and some of  the demons. He also used a lot of imagery and descriptive writing that one would not expect in a debut novel.

 And I guess you would call parts of it what I referred to already: allegory. I don't want to give too much away, but for instance, at one point the main character was trapped in a locked room facing incredible temptation, but it turned out that the room was locked from the inside. In other words, we often put ourselves in the way of temptation and think there is no way out, but we just think we are trapped...... we are the ones who locked our self into the temptation.

 This is an entertaining book, yet also a deep book that has a tremendous message of hope, and a warning of not giving into temptation. I would say the book is geared more for men, though a lot of women would enjoy it too. And even if you don't struggle with pornography and lust - though lust is an issue for all men, and more men struggle with pornography than we would ever imagine - you will still enjoy the book. I highly recommend it. I enjoyed it a lot myself.

About the author:

C.J. Stunkard has been a lifetime storyteller. Despite a lack of interest in reading during childhood, he found himself daydreaming, drawing comic books, and writing tales of many kinds. His primary means of storytelling, however, was with his action figures, through which he would explore the adventures of both established characters and original creations. Over time, C.J. honed his writing craft through his studies at Biola University, earning a mass communications degree that he quickly parlayed into a promising career…in insurance and trust services. While crunching numbers and filing reports weekdays from 9 to 5, C.J. continued his creative pursuits as an online journalist, blogger, podcaster, editor, director, and producer. C.J. has a growing relationship with Jesus Christ, to whom he holds as his source of hope and salvation. As both an author and human being, C.J. desires to be a blessing to others and bring glory to Christ through his professional and personal life. He currently resides in Wilmington, Delaware with his wife.

Check out his blog:

More about the book here:

C.J. is offering a signed copy of his book to two winners.
To enter, use the Rafflecopter entry form.
A comment on the blog post is not necessary to enter, but is appreciated, and will give you an extra entry.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Once Upon A Winter's Heart by Melody Carlson, and a giveaway

Emma Burcelli has suffered over a decade of dating disasters. But she concludes that love is officially dead when her grandfather Poppi suddenly passes, leaving her grandmother Nona devastated. To help out, Emma works in the family bookstore, which Nona insists must be decked out in sweetheart décor as Poppi would have done for Valentine's Day. Although she feels like a V-Day Scrooge, Emma quickly learns to enjoy the task with the help of a handsome family friend, Lane Forester, who shows her that hanging hearts is much more fun when done to the tune of Dean Martin. As Emma and Lane share time and memories of Poppi, she reconsiders the notion that romance is alive.

Just as Emma's heart begins to lift, however, she learns her sister has already staked a claim on Lane. Emma's mother and sister insist Lane only sees her as a future sister-in-law, but she can't help wondering if it could be something more.

My review:
  I have always enjoyed Melody Carlson's Christmas novels, and thought for some reason that this book was a Christmas novel, but it is a Valentine's Day novel. I groaned somewhat when I discovered that, but settled down to read it.

The book is a fast read, coming in at just 155 pages, but it was a good read. The romance does go pretty fast, since it is a short book, but it isn't one of those overly mushy romance novels. It is about two people who aren't sure romance is still alive and worth pursuing. Throw in a sister who wants the same guy for herself as the main character is falling for, and you have more conflict in a family that already has conflict.

 It is a sweet and short romance, not something I typically read, but I did enjoy it and would highly recommend it to the female part of our population who enjoy romance novels. It is a clean and wholesome story, with not a hint of sexual talk or innuendos.

 One thing that did bother me: I am in the camp of Christians who does not drink alcoholic beverages and feel anyone is better off not doing so, Christian or not, and it bothers me a bit when that has to be part of a story, but I shrug it off. But this book had a lot of wine drinking in it, far more than necessary to mention in any book, and that bothered me. And it isn't typical of Melody's books.

About the author:

Over the years, Melody Carlson has worn many hats, from pre-school teacher to youth counselor to political activist to senior editor. But most of all, she is a writer who loves to write! She is a bestselling and award-winning author of more than 200 books for children, teens, and adults--with sales totaling more than five million. Carlson's passion for 'true to life' fiction has had great success for both the young adult and women's markets. Informed and aware of the challenges and struggles facing teens today, she writes young adult novels that she hopes will change lives and women's fiction to which women of all ages can relate. Her popular series, Diary of a Teenage Girl (Multnomah), has sold more than 600,000 copies and her popular Christmas novellas have sold over 250,000 copies combined. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband. They enjoy skiing, hiking, gardening, camping and biking in the beautiful Cascade Mountains.

The publisher is giving one copy of Melody's book to a lucky winner. Comments on the review are welcome, but not required to enter. Enter via Raffelcopter.

The giveaway ends March 10.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Sinner's Garden by William Sirls, and a contest

Andy Kemp's young life has been as ravaged as his scarred face. Disfigured by an abusive father, the teenager hides behind his books and an impenetrable wall of cynicism and anger.

As Andy's mother struggles to reconnect with him, his Uncle Rip returns transformed from a stint in prison and wants to be a mentor to the reclusive boy, doing everything he can to help end Andy's pain. When Andy begins hearing strange music through his iPod and making near-prophetic announcements, Rip is convinced that what Andy is hearing is the voice of God.

Elsewhere, police officer Heather Gerisch responds to a late-night breaking and entering in one of the poorest homes in town. She soon realizes that the masked prowler has left thousands of dollars in gift cards from a local grocery store.
As the bizarre break-ins continue and Heather pursues the elusive "Summer Santa," Andy and Rip discover an enormous and well-kept garden of wildflowers that seems to have grown overnight at an abandoned steel mill.

Soon, they realize who the gardener is, and a spree of miracles transfigures this small town from a place of hopelessness into a place of healing and beauty.

My review: 
  This is one of those books that has some supernatural elements that wouldn't normally happen, yet is entertaining and makes the reader think what could be possible if we had faith and stepped out of the way to let do what He wants.

 The book is definitely entertaining. There is a teenaged boy going around spouting prophetic statements about people that he hears on his iPod, and a masked guy breaking into people's homes and doing good. The book has its suspenseful moments, though it isn't what I'd call a suspenseful novel.

 I thought the plot and characters were great, and there was a lot of conversation between the characters that was more deep than the average Christian novel. The book showed how people can change, and how God may sometimes use methods and means we don't understand to accomplish His will.

 The author did a great job on keeping the identity of the masked do-gooder secret. I was truly surprised when that was revealed.

  I really enjoyed the book, though it didn't have the ending I was hoping for, and instead of the happy ending I was hoping for, it had a bittersweet ending that still left me glad I read the book.

Meet William Sirls:
 Once a senior vice president in a large investment firm, he was incarcerated in 2007 for wire fraud and money laundering. Life lessons involving faith, grace, and forgiveness are evident in his writing. The Sinners’ Garden is his second novel. William is celebrating the book's release with an iPad giveaway.


  One winner will receive:
  • A brand new iPad Mini
  • The Sinners' Garden by William Sirls
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 1st. Winner will be announced March 3rd on William Sirls' blog.

Don’t miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by William’s blog on the 3rd to see if you won.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Ether: Vero Rising by Laurice E Molinari

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Ether: Vero Rising
Zonderkidz (February 4, 2014)
Laurice E. Molinari


Laurice Elehwany Molinari, a veteran film and TV writer in Hollywood for over two decades, has penned over thirty scripts for various studios and networks. Her very first feature script, written while a fellow at the American Film Institute, became Columbia Picture’s critically acclaimed children’s classic, My Girl. She went on to pen The Brady Bunch Movie and The Amazing Panda Adventure. Laurice lives with her husband and two children in Los Angeles, the City of Angels, where her lifelong love for our heavenly guardians inspired her to write a book about them in the ETHER series.


The Fiercest of Warriors? Vero Leland always suspected he was different from others his own age, ever since his childhood attempts to fly. But he never could have predicted the truth---or how much his life was about to change. Soon after his twelfth birthday, Vero learns he is a guardian angel and is abruptly transported to the Ether, the spiritual realm that surrounds the earth. Yet before he can be counted among these fierce warriors, Vero must learn to master his growing powers, competing with other angels-in- training and battling demonic creatures known as maltures as well as mythical creatures such as the leviathan. Until his instruction is complete, Vero needs to alternate between the Ether and his regular life. If he survives training and accepts his destiny---a destiny he did not choose---he must leave everything behind, including his family and the life he loves. Meanwhile, an evil is growing---the maltures are rising, and Vero appears to be their target.

Enjoy the book trailer:

If you'd like to read the first chapter of The Ether: Vero Rising, go HERE.

My review:
  There are several juvenile fiction books on the Christian market that have kids that are half angel. It is an intriguing idea, and some of the books are better than others. This book centers around a kid who is 100% angel, a guardian angel, who doesn't know that he is until he turns twelve.

  I've said it before, but I really enjoy a lot of of these juvenile fiction books on the market today. Maybe I am a kid at heart, but this was a really good book that kept me on the edge of my seat. Though the idea of an angel being raised by earthly parents is completely fictional, it made for a great story line and plot, and it was interesting to see through the imagination of the author what it might look like for such an angel to go through training.

 There are some lessons in the book: perseverance, kindness, how we need to treat others good even when they treat us badly.

 The main character, and secondary characters, are very likable, and the author has spun a great tale that should entertain the age group it is intended for, and it is great wholesome and fun reading that parents can give to their kids to read without fear of it being bad.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The A-Z of C.S. Lewis by Colin Duriez

A Complete Guide to His Life, Thoughts and Writings

Published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of C. S. Lewis's death, this complete guide covers all of Lewis' works, from his literary criticism to Narnia.
C. S. Lewis's work is widely known and regarded, but enthusiasts are often only aware of one part of his work-his children's stories and his popular theology; and yet he wrote so much more, including science fiction and literary criticism. This volume brings together all aspects of C S Lewis's life and thought. Arranged in alphabetical order, it begins with The Abolition of Man-written in 1943 and described as "almost my favorite"-to Wormwood, a character in The Screwtape Letters. This book will delight anyone who is interested in C. S. Lewis and wants to learn more about him, his thought, his works, and his life.

My review:
  When I saw this book come up for review, I didn't pay enough attention to what it said. I saw C.S. Lewis and ordered it, thinking it was several of his stories. When I got it, I was surprised to find out it wasn't, and looked at the original email. Sure enough, it said it was exactly what it is: an A-Z encyclopedia of his writings.

  This book has everything Lewis wrote about and mentioned. The characters in Narnia are all in it. Places in Narnia. You name it, if it appeared in any of his writings, or was something to something he talked about, it is in this book.

  It is definitely not a book you're going to sit and read through, but if you are a big C.S. Lewis fan, it is a book you will enjoy, and is more of a resource, than a book to read for enjoyment. It would be nice to keep at hand when reading The Chronicles of Narnia, or any of his other works.

About the author:

 Colin Duriez was for many years a commissioning editor at Inter-Varsity Press UK. He has subsequently appeared as a commentator on DVDs of Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings, and BBC television's The Worlds of Fantasy. He is also the author of The Inklings Handbook (with the late David Porter), J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis: The Story of Their Friendship, and Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings, and has contributed to definitive reference works relating to Tolkien such as The Tolkien Encyclopedia (Routledge).

The A-Z of C.S. Lewis is available from Lion Publishing.

Thanks to Litfuse for the review copy.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Global War On Christianity by John Allen, Jr.

One of the most respected journalists in the United States and the bestselling author of The Future Church uses his unparalleled knowledge of world affairs and religious insight to investigate the troubling worldwide persecution of Christians.

From Iraq and Egypt to Sudan and Nigeria, from Indonesia to the Indian subcontinent, Christians in the early 21st century are the world's most persecuted religious group. According to the secular International Society for Human Rights, 80 percent of violations of religious freedom in the world today are directed against Christians. In effect, our era is witnessing the rise of a new generation of martyrs. Underlying the global war on Christians is the demographic reality that more than two-thirds of the world's 2.3 billion Christians now live outside the West, often as a beleaguered minority up against a hostile majority-- whether it's Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East and parts of Africa and Asia, Hindu radicalism in India, or state-imposed atheism in China and North Korea. In Europe and North America, Christians face political and legal challenges to religious freedom. Allen exposes the deadly threats and offers investigative insight into what is and can be done to stop these atrocities.

“This book is about the most dramatic religion story of the early 21st century, yet one that most people in the West have little idea is even happening: The global war on Christians,” writes John Allen. “We’re not talking about a metaphorical ‘war on religion’ in Europe and the United States, fought on symbolic terrain such as whether it’s okay to erect a nativity set on the courthouse steps, but a rising tide of legal oppression, social harassment and direct physical violence, with Christians as its leading victims. However counter-intuitive it may seem in light of popular stereotypes of Christianity as a powerful and sometimes oppressive social force, Christians today indisputably form the most persecuted religious body on the planet, and too often its new martyrs suffer in silence.”

This book looks to shatter that silence.

My review:
  This wasn't the easiest book to read for a couple of reasons. We don't face much persecution here in the USA, though it is starting to spring up here and there on a much lighter scale than other countries, so it is disturbing and a wake up call we need to read about what is happening to Christians in other countries. Also, there is a lot of information in this book and I felt it could have been written to be more interesting.

  It is still a good book and the author has done a lot of research, and though he isn't too graphic in his descriptions of what Christians are going through in other countries, he presents a very sobering look at what is happening in other countries to Christians in this modern day.

  A book like this should serve as a warning to we Americans to do what we can to fight persecution here. We need to vote for better candidates and judges and pray more for God's mercy and help for America. But it should also cause us to pray for Christians in other countries who are being persecuted. If America keeps going downhill morally, we will face it one day.

About the author:

JOHN L. ALLEN, JR. is the Vatican correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter and a Vatican analyst for CNN and National Public Radio. He is the author of The Rise of Benedict XVI and All the Pope's Men: The Inside Story of How the Vatican Really Thinks. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Miami Herald, The Nation, and many other publications. His Internet column, "The Word from Rome," is considered by knowledgeable observers to be the best single source of insights on Vatican affairs in the English language.

The Global War On Christianity  is available from Random House Publishing.

Thanks to Waterbrook/Multnomah for the review copy.

Canyon Danger by Susan K Marlow

Jem Coulter’s pa, the sheriff of Goldtown, is away on a trip to deliver a prisoner to Sacramento, and he has left Jem in charge of the ranch—along with Aunt Rose, that is.

No sooner is the sheriff gone then trouble starts—a dead calf, a mysterious stranger, and then Pa’s horse, Copper, and his prize rifle are stolen. And Pa’s deputies seem unconcerned.

Jem and his cousin Nathan find Copper’s tracks end at a dark canyon up in the hills. Jem remembers an old Indian legend Strike-it-rich Sam is fond of retelling about people disappearing and no one ever seeing them again. What is the real story of the canyon of danger? Have thieves found the perfect hideout?

Readers ages 8 to 12 will be entertained by the adventurous spirit and historical lure in this fast-moving series that teaches about life in the post–Gold Rush days of 1860s California. Quick-paced plots and unforgettable characters make these books fun for the whole family.

My review:
  This is the third book in a series, and although it mentions events from the other books, I wouldn't think the books would have to be read in order.

  The book is set in the 1860's and is basically a Western for kids ages 8-12. I found the book interesting and entertaining, and I am far beyond that age group. The intended audience should enjoy the story and the engaging characters in it.

 Canyon Gold is definitely a Christian book, and the author isn't afraid to espouse Christian and moral ideas throughout the book. Although everything doesn't go the way he intends, the main character, Jem, always tries to do the right thing throughout the book and takes his responsibility of being the man in the family while his father is away.

  This is kind of book that I wish had been around when I was in that age group. I definitely recommend it to families looking for wholesome and Christian books for their kids.

About the author:

Susan K. Marlow has an imagination that never stops! Whether she’s writing books, teaching writing workshops, or sharing what she’s learned as a homeschooling mom, she’s always on the lookout for a new story. The author of the Circle C Adventures and the Circle C Beginnings, Susan enjoys relaxing on her fourteen-acre homestead in the great state of Washington.

Check out her other books: 

Canyon Danger is available from Kregel Publishing.

Thanks to Kregel for the review copy.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Friend Me by John Faubion, and a contest to win a Kindle Fire

When a lonely wife and her frustrated husband each secretly pursue companionship online, neither dreams that a real woman is behind their virtual creations, threatening their marriage---and their lives.

Scott and Rachel's marriage is on the brink of disaster. Scott, a businessman with a high-pressure job, just wants Rachel to understand him and accept his flaws. Rachel is a lonely housewife, desperate for attention and friendship. So she decides to create a virtual friend online, unaware that Scott is doing the exact same thing. As Rachel desperately tries to re-create a friendship with a friend who has passed, Scott becomes unfaithful and is torn between the love for his wife and the perfection of his cyber-girlfriend. But neither realizes that there's a much larger problem looming . . .

Behind both of their online creations is Melissa, a woman who is brilliant---and totally insane. Masquerading as both friend and lover, Melissa programmed a search parameter into the virtual friend software to find her perfect man, but along the way she forgot to specify his marriage status. And Scott is her ideal match. Now Melissa is determined to have it all---Scott, his family, and Rachel's life.

As Melissa grows bolder and her online manipulations transition into the real world, Scott and Rachel figure out they are being played. Now it's a race against time as Scott and Rachel fight to save their marriage, and their lives, before it's too late.

In today's digital age, the Internet presents all kinds of opportunities to test our personal boundaries, and this exciting and suspenseful story raises important questions about the ethics of virtual relationships. Friend Me will open your eyes to a new---and terrifying---moral dimensions and how they play out in the real world.

My review:
   This book was offered for review from a source that has limited copies available, and signing up doesn't guarantee a review copy. I thought the book sounded really good, and was happy to see I signed up in time. Also, it deals with an important issue that affects me and most people who have computers: internet safety.

 There is an extensive description of the book, so I won't recap what it is about. I loved the book. This is the author's first novel, and he did an excellent job of writing it. It has a great plot, characters that had a lot of development, and enough suspense to hold my attention, but shouldn't be too much for the faint of heart.

  The author spends some time showing how a marriage can go downhill until one or both parties are more susceptible to inappropriate contacts on line or offline. One thing I appreciated, was the author gives the reader that Scott has done some really inappropriate actions on line without going into detail about what they are and by doing so, being too graphic.

  The book is more than a fictional story. It is a warning that whether we are married or not, we need to be careful on line. There is so much good out there, but there is also so much danger. In the book, the emphasis was mostly on the physical danger, along with danger to a marriage, but it should also be a warning about the spiritual dangers.

 The book definitely came up to my expectations, and I am looking forward to reading more from this author in the future.

About the author:

John Faubion has spent many years in Asia as a missionary with his family. Since returning to the United States, John has worked as a senior software developer for a large appliance chain. He teaches an adult Sunday school class and enjoys writing and driving his 1949 Packard automobile. John lives near Indianapolis with his wife, Beth, and their daughter.

More about John in his own words:
I am a former thirty-year foreign missionary, now working as Senior Software Engineer for a large electronics and appliance retailer.
In 1966, as a new Christian and an American soldier in Vietnam, I was deeply moved at my first exposure to idolatry.
In 1974, after completing Bible college and missionary deputation, our family of four moved to South Vietnam to begin formal missionary work, where we remained until the war was lost and Americans had to leave.
In 1976, with another missionary, we started Harvest Baptist Church and Christian School on Guam.
We returned to the field in 1977 going to Taiwan, where we began our Chinese ministry. The Lord allowed us to start the Ping Lin Baptist Church in Taichung at that time.
From 1981 until 1988 I did the software development for Baptist International Missions in Chattanooga, Tennessee. We then returned to the mission field of mainland China. In 1989 my first wife went to be with the Lord, and the Lord gave me my wife Beth in 1990.
We remained in Beijing and Hong Kong until 1999.
I'm still a Mandarin Chinese speaker. I have five children, the youngest sixteen years old 

Friend Me is available from Howard Books.
Thanks to Litfuse for the review copy.

  John Faubion is celebrating his debut novel, Friend Me, with a Kindle HDX giveaway!

One winner will receive:
  • A brand new Kindle Fire HDX
  • Friend Me by John Faubion
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 22nd. Winner will be announced February 24th on John Faubion's blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by John's blog on the 24th to see if you won.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Prime of Life by P.D. Bekendam

Operation First Novel 2013 contest winner, Prime of Life was released in Kindle edition only and has garnered in excess of 200 positive reviews with over 6,000 paid downloads.

Ben used to be a cardiothoracic surgeon before he suddenly abandoned his career and became a janitor at a retirement facility. Now, other than dealing with minor problems such as an unhealthy obsession with prime numbers, an inept boss, and a feud between two cantankerous retirees, he lives a relatively stress-free life. There is even hope for romance when an attractive podiatrist shows an interest in him. But it is not long before his past catches up with him and his carefully protected world begins to unravel. Filled with humor and quirky characters, Prime of Life delivers a satisfying and entertaining read.

My review:
    To be honest, this didn't look like the type of book I would enjoy, and I would most likely not have bought it, unless it was suggested to me. So I am glad I received an email offering it for review. This is the author's first book, but I hope it isn't his last. I love his style of writing, and I really enjoyed the book.

  The main character, Ben,  is a surgeon who quit his job to be the janitor at a retirement center. He has all sorts of phobias, fears,  and quirks, which add a lot to the humorous aspect of the story. The book is filled with all sorts of odd and funny characters and situations, and although the book doesn't fall into my favorite genre' of suspense, I enjoyed it just as much as if it had.

 Ben doesn't have much of a relationship with God, but there was a message in the book, though subtle, that we need to trust God, which is a message I needed. We all can get so bound by our fears and insecurities that we, like Ben did in the book, can lose sight of God and be controlled by our fears.

 Not everything the book went according to everyone's plans, but the book had a great ending and not only did I come away having read a great story, but it gave me a resolve to trust God more and not give into my fears and insecurities like I have been doing. And that, is the mark of a great Christian fiction book: one that doesn't just entertain, but helps and encourages. I highly recommend the book. Men and women alike will enjoy it.

About the author:

Author and practicing eye surgeon, Dr. Bekendam is happily married and the proud father of two Prime of Life is his debut novel. He welcomes visitors at
boys. Proceeds from his writing go to help fund his activities in developing countries as he works to bring cataract surgery to the needlessly blind.

Prime of Life is available from Worthy Publishing.

Thanks to Worthy Publishing for the review copy.

Shadows of the Past by Patricia Bradley

While she's stalking the truth . . . someone is stalking her.
Psychology professor and criminal profiler Taylor Martin prides herself on being able to solve any crime, except the one she wants most desperately to solve--the disappearance of her father twenty years ago. When she finally has a lead on his whereabouts, Taylor returns home to Logan Point, Mississippi, to investigate. But as she works to uncover the truth, someone else will do almost anything to keep her from it.

Nick Sinclair pens mystery novels for a living, but the biggest mystery to him is how he can ever get over the death of his wife--a tragedy he believes he could have prevented. Now that his estranged brother is the only family he has left, Nick sets out to find him. But when he crosses paths with Taylor, all he seems to find is trouble.

Join the chase as Taylor and Nick search the murky shadows of the past for the keys to unlocking the present--and moving into a future they never imagined.

My review: 
   My favorite genre' to read is Christian suspense. There are a lot more authors writing it than there used to be, but still not enough of it for me, so I am always happy to see a new suspense author come along such as this one.

  This is the first book in the Logan Point Series, and is Patricia's first full length novel. For a debut novel, it is a great one. I liked everything about the book: plot, setting, characters, content, and suspense. The book is not what I would call preachy, but has a great Christian message in it. As is the case with books like this one, I had a hard time putting it down and did read it in one sitting, and enjoyed every minute of it.

 I did figure out who the bad guys most likely were before the book revealed them, but that in no means ruined the book for me.

  If Patricia keeps up with this kind of writing, she will not only be an author to keep up with, but she will hold her own with the more seasoned suspense authors. I highly recommend Shadows of the Past.

About the author:

Patricia Bradley's manuscript for Shadows of the Past was a finalist for the 2012 Genesis Award, winner of a 2012 Daphne du Maurier award (1st place, Inspirational), and winner of a 2012 Touched by Love award (1st place, Contemporary). She is a published short story writer and is cofounder of Aiming for Healthy Families, Inc. When she's not writing or speaking, she can be found making beautiful clay pots and jewelry. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America and makes her home in Mississippi. Learn more at

Shadows of the Past is available from Revell Publishing, part of the Baker Book House Publishing group.

Thanks to Revell for the review copy.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Sentinels of Andersonville by Tracy Groot

Near the end of the Civil War, inhumane conditions at Andersonville Prison caused the deaths of 13,000 Union soldiers in only one year. In this gripping and affecting novel, three young Confederates and an entire town come face-to-face with the prison’s atrocities and will learn the cost of compassion, when withheld and when given.

Sentry Dance Pickett has watched, helpless, for months as conditions in the camp worsen by the day. He knows any mercy will be seen as treason. Southern belle Violet Stiles cannot believe the good folk of Americus would knowingly condone such barbarism, despite the losses they’ve suffered. When her goodwill campaign stirs up accusations of Union sympathies and endangers her family, however, she realizes she must tread carefully. Confederate corporal Emery Jones didn’t expect to find camaraderie with the Union prisoner he escorted to Andersonville. But the soldier’s wit and integrity strike a chord in Emery. How could this man be an enemy? Emery vows that their unlikely friendship will survive the war—little knowing what that promise will cost him.

As these three young Rebels cross paths, Emery leads Dance and Violet to a daring act that could hang them for treason. Wrestling with God’s harsh truth, they must decide, once and for all, Who is my neighbor? 

My review:
  This was not in my typical reading genre', and was also a new author to me, but I do enjoy reading about the Civil War, so I decided to review it, and am glad I did. It was even better than it sounded.

  The book is fictional, but is centered around a real prison in the South for Northerners that had been captured in battle. The conditions described in the book were real, and there are also some real historical figures in the book, but the events are fictional, along with some of the people.

  This was a very well written story. I don't know what the author's other books are like. but if this book is any indication, she is an excellent author. She did a great job of describing the conditions of the prison, the likely mentality of the prisoners and of the people of the town. She painted a great picture of the struggle between the North and South, and of the sadness of a country so divided.

  At the heart of the story is an unlikely friendship between two men. One is a Northerner, and the other is a Southerner. After delivering his Northern prisoner to the prison and seeing the conditions, the Southern boy vows to get his new friend out of the prison. With a daring plan and a couple of partners in crime, he sets out to just that. There are many bumps in the road, surprises, and a price to be paid to do so, but in the end the reader is left with a great story that is moving and leaves you with that satisfied feeling of reading a good story.

  I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and found it hard to put down.

  I highly recommend the book to men and women alike. You will not be disappointed.

About the author:

Tracy Groot
Tracy Groot is the critically acclaimed and Christy Award–winning author of several novels. Her most recent books exemplify her unique style of storytelling—reimagining biblical stories within other historical contexts. Tracy's novels have received starred Booklist and Publishers Weekly reviews and have been called "beautifully written" and "page-turning" by Publishers Weekly and "gripping" with "exquisitely drawn" characters by Library Journal. Tracy and her husband have three boys and together run a coffee shop in Holland, Michigan.

The Sentinels of Andersonville is available from Tyndale Publishing.

Thanks to Tyndale for the review copy.

Mark of Evil by Tim Lahaye and Craig Parshall

Economies have fallen, freedom has been suppressed, and peace is a distant memory. The world is falling apart. Joshua Jordan’s protégé Ethan March, along with Jimmy Louder and Rivka Reuban have been left behind in a world that is rapidly coming under the complete influence of the Antichrist. Technology is growing by leaps and bounds, with BID-Tag implants, robotic police units, and drone-bots flying overhead . . . all designed to control and dominate those who resist the Antichrist’s reign of evil. As Biblical prophecy is fulfilled each new day, Ethan and the others in the Remnant struggle to eat, to procure necessary goods, and to avoid the Global Alliance---in short, to survive. But when the forces of evil attempt to pervert the world’s most powerful information system to their own sinister ends, eliminating everyone who gets in their way, it’s up to Ethan and the Remnant to subvert their dark ambitions. From New York Times best-selling author Tim LaHaye, creator and co-author of the world-renowned Left Behind books, and Craig Parshall, Mark of Evil is the final thrilling chapter in The End series. With high-tech thrills against a background of prophetic events that seem to leap from today’s news, this is the story of global tribulations bringing the world one step closer to the reign of the Antichrist and the return of Jesus Christ in glory.

My review:
   I thought the way the book that came before this one ended, that it was the end of  the series. But that was not the case, and I was happy to see another book come out in this series. I like it far better than the Left Behind Series, and find it more believable.

 This book takes up where the last one ended, after the Rapture has taken place. It deals with Christians being hunted down and the rise of the anti-Christ.

  The book is both entertaining and scary. Obviously, no one knows what it is going to be like during the tribulation, other than what we know from the Biblical account, but the authors describe some very scary scenarios that are very possible with our modern technology. Things like bar codes imbedded in people, and drones programmed to hunt down and kill anyone who doesn't have the mark on them.

  Books like these should do more than entertain, and it does. It serves as a warning that we need to be ready. I'm not a big proponent of people becoming Christians after the Rapture. Lahaye is. Maybe he is right, and maybe he is wrong. Regardless, books like these give scary enough scenarios that it makes one not want to be around for them, regardless if one can become a Christian or not.

  I highly recommend this book, though the series should be read in order.

About the authors:

Tim LaHaye
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.

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

Mark of Evil is available from Zondervan Publishing.

Thanks to Booksneeze for the review copy.