Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Living Whole Without a Better Half by Wendy Widder

How to live happily ever after if your prince or princess never shows up

There are more singles in--and out of--the church today than ever before. Wendy Widder knows the struggles of being single from the inside out, and she has something to say.While there is no shortage of books about singlehood on the market, Widder's approach is markedly different. In Living Whole Without a Better Half readers study the characters in Hebrews 11. Widder uses these Biblical examples to show readers how to embrace singleness as an abundant life and a God-given gift, not as an unfortunate stage they should move past as quickly as possible. By examining the lives of biblical heroes such as Abraham, Moses, and Jacob, she reveals that trying to bargain with God to follow our plans and timing often keeps us from appreciating the opportunities he places in our path.

Widder makes her case with wit and a wry humor that readers will appreciate and come back to again and again. Now with updated statistics, and a new preface, Living Whole Without a Better Half includes study questions that make it a great Bible study or small group resource.

My review:
  One problem I have with the majority of the singles books on the market, and even on the Christian market, is they assume the reader is going to marry and/or is trying to get married. The books that are written with the idea that the reader may stay single, are rare. This is one such book. 

  The author is single, and knows what she is talking about when she writes about singles. She has been there, and is still there, and that helps when an author is experiencing what they are writing about.

 The book is well written, humorous, and wasn't what I was quite expecting when I got it to review. There are no false assurances of what you can do to find a mate, but it is about how to live in the church and for Christ as a single person, and be fulfilled, not having to feel like you are not complete since you are single. She uses several people from the Bible to get her points across, and the result is a great book that I'd recommend over any of the other books for singles out there.

About the author:

Wendy Widder spent most of her twenties teaching elementary
students and waiting to get married. en she decided life was
happening without her, so she started a collection of graduate
degrees in Bible, theology, and ancient languages. After twelve
years, fi ve advisors, three schools, two states, and two continents,
she emerged from the ivory tower and found herself in
mid-life, learning new ways to live whole without a better half.
She is also the author of A Match Made in Heaven: How Singles
and the Church Can Live Happily Ever After (Kregel, 2003) and
a book she coauthored with her father to help Christian teachers
integrate a biblical worldview into their courses. Wendy blogs at

Living Whole Without a Better Half is available from Kregel Publishing.

Thanks to Kregel for the review copy.

Monday, May 26, 2014

I'm Nobody: The Lost Pages by Alex Marestaing

We're all broken on this side of heaven, but we can make beautiful things from the pieces. 

Agoraphobic Caleb Reed is about to step outside for the first time in seven years, meet indie filmmaker Iris Elliott . . . and definitely not fall in love. It's all because of the notes, the weird and wonderful notes he keeps finding on his front porch, notes signed by someone claiming to be long dead poet Emily Dickinson. Caleb's parents think he's losing his mind, as always, but he knows they're wrong. Something's going on outside --- something strange, something terrifying . . . something beautiful. 

My review: 
  This was a weird, but interesting book. It was an easy read, and I got into the story pretty quickly and found myself liking the main character a lot, in spite of his phobias and fears. As he ventured out a little more with each note he received,  I found myself silently cheering this fictional kid on as he determinedly faced and overcame his fears of being outside.

  The book IS fictional, so there is no way the events could happen, a boy getting letters from a dead poet, but it was an entertaining read. And I came away with what may be the idea of the book: we can be so bound by our fears that we can miss out on making new friends and seeing the wonderful world around us. I don't personally know anyone who is so afraid that they won't leave the house, but there are many people, myself included, who worry and fear so much that our fears hold us back from a lot of good and new things in life. No dead poet will write us letters to help pull us out of our fears, but with God's help we can conquer them, which is better than a dead poet.

  This book is not Christian fiction, but there is nothing objectionable in it, and it does have a great message about fear and not letting it control us.

About the author:

Author Alex Marestaing loves to create. He's written for media outlets such as The Walt Disney Company, Lego, Thomas Nelson/Harper Collins,and The Los Angeles Times and has authored three YA novels. His latest, I'm Nobody: The Lost Pages, recently won an honorable mention at the London Book Festival and was nominated for a 2014 Epic Award.  Though he spends most of his time imagining ideas for the youth market, he's also written for faith-based publications and has covered his favorite sport, soccer, in Europe and the U.S. for Sports Spectrum Magazine and Yanks Abroad. When Alex isn't writing or speaking at conferences, you'll most likely find him hanging out in California with his wife, three kids, and Milou, his dog.

Connect with Alex: website, Facebook, Twitter
 I'm Nobody: The Lost Pages is available from Mymilou Press

Thanks to Litfuse for the review copy.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

NIV Chronological Study Bible

The Chronological Study Bible presents the text of the New International Version in chronological order—the order in which the events actually happened—with notes, articles, and full-color graphics that connect the reader to the history and culture of Bible times and gives the reader a dramatic, "you are there" experience.

 Features include full-color illustrations of places, artifacts, and cultural phenomena, contextual articles that connect Biblical times and world history and culture, daily life notes, time panels and charts that show the flow of Biblical history, and in-text and full-color maps.

Part of the Signature Series line of Thomas Nelson Bibles
Chronological Study Bibles sold to date: More than 367,000

My review:
   I've seen this Bible in stores, but never really looked at it much, but when I had the chance to review one, I decided it was time I checked it out.

  If the word "neat" can be used to describe a Bible, this is a really neat Bible. I love the look of the pages. They aren't the typical plain white pages of most Bibles. They ARE white, but have colors along the top, and in other areas on pages, along with pictures scattered throughout.

  The Bible is separated into 9 sections called "Epochs". As the name of the Bible indicates, books, chapters, and verses appear in chronological order as they happened. The difference isn't noticeable all through the Bible, but in certain parts it is. For instance, during the events of David's life in I and II Samuel, the Psalms he wrote at that point in his life are inserted into that part of I and II Samuel. In the New Testament, a chapter from Acts will appear on the same page as I Corinthians.

  This is not a Bible you'd carry to church to look up Scriptures to read along with, as it would be hard to find some passages, but as a personal study tool and for devotions, I think it is great. It is different, but interesting to read passages of Scripture in the order they happened, and read accounts from a couple of different books side by side. It gives a different and better perspective, not that I am going to ditch my Bibles that have the traditional order of books, chapters, and verses. It is a very attractive and useful Bible that can make Bible reading a little different once in a while, which can be helpful instead of doing it the same old way.

  My one dislike of the Bible: this is the newer version of the NIV, and they have made it more gender neutral in some passages, which I don't like. (i.e. changing father to parent, and other similar changes).

The Chronological Study Bible is available from Thomas Nelson Publishing, and comes in The NIV and New King James Versions.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson/ for the review copy.

Gathering Shadows by Nancy Mehl

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Gathering Shadows
Bethany House Publishers (May 6, 2014)
Nancy Mehl


Nancy Mehl lives in Wichita, Kansas with her husband Norman and their dog, Watson. She’s authored thirteen books and is currently at work on her newest series for Bethany House Publishing.

All of Nancy’s novels have an added touch – something for your spirit as well as your soul. “I welcome the opportunity to share my faith through my writing,” Nancy says. “It’s a part of me and of everything I think or do. God is number one in my life. I wouldn’t be writing at all if I didn’t believe that this is what He’s called me to do. I hope everyone who reads my books will walk away with the most important message I can give them: God is good, and He loves you more than you can imagine. He has a good plan especially for your life, and there is nothing you can’t overcome with His help.”

She and her husband attend Believer’s Tabernacle in Wichita.


Wynter Evans is a promising young reporter for a television station in St. Louis, but even a bright future doesn't take away her pain over the disappearance of her brother nine years ago. So when she stumbles across a photograph of a boy with an eerie resemblance to him, she can't pass up the chance to track him down. With research for work as her cover, she sets out with one of the station's photogs for the place where the picture was taken: the town of Sanctuary. Almost as soon as she arrives, she meets the town's handsome young mayor, Rueben King, and together they begin to uncover long held secrets that could tear the small town apart and change everything Wynter thought she knew about her life. As the truth of her family's past hides in the shadows, it's clear someone will stop at nothing to keep the answers she's searching for hidden forever--even if the cost is Wynter's very life. If you'd like to read the first chapter of Gathering Shadows, go HERE.

My review:
  The first books I read by Nancy were her Road to Kingdom Series and enjoyed the series a lot. I liked it enough to request this book when it came up for review. As good as the book sounded, I thought it was one I could read some of and then finish it another day, but that was not to happen. I got caught up in the story right away and found myself reading it til the very end.

 This series, like her last series, centers around strict Mennonites, instead of the ever so popular Amish stories of the day, and I like these far better. It does help that the books are suspense, which is my favorite genre', but I still like the Mennonite angle and feel their portrayal is pretty close to being right.

  There's a lot to like about this book. It has a great setting: a quiet town made up of a lot of conservative Mennonites and other people wanting to live in a simpler and quieter town. It has some great and likable characters, main and secondary, and has a great plot and suspense. The suspense is not so much as to scare off readers who don't go for the average suspense/mystery novels on the market, but has enough suspense that it held my interest and kept me guessing as to how the book would end.

  I really liked the book, and am looking forward to reading more in this series.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Crash the Chatterbox by Steven Furtick

Crashing the chatterbox = Overpowering lies of insecurity, fear, condemnation, and discouragement with the promises of God.

“I used to think that someone who struggled with the kinds of weaknesses I deal with daily was useless to God. I felt so often like I was drowning in internal dialogue I couldn’t control. It had been the soundtrack of my life for as long as I could remember.

Yet everything changed when I began to realize God has given us the ability to choose the dialogue we believe and respond to. And once we learn how, we can switch from lies to truth as deliberately as we can choose the Beatles over Miley Cyrus on satellite radio.

This is the key to pressing ahead and doing God’s will anyway, even as you are bombarded with thoughts, feelings, and even facts about why you can’t do it.

I’m now awakening to the reality that we can access the power of God’s promises to constantly crash the system of our broken beliefs. I’m learning how to overpower the shouts of the Enemy by bending my ear to the whisper of God’s supernatural truths about my identity in Him and His strength in me.”
-STEVEN FURTICK, from Crash the Chatterbox

My review:
   I have heard a lot of good about this book, so when I saw it listed as available for review, I grabbed it. It sounds like a self-help book, and it could be taken that way, but it really isn't.

  The premise of the book is that we have all of this negative stuff in our heads. Fears, worries, putdowns, etc. It drowns out God's voice and holds us back from being what we should be, and from doing what God wants us to do.

  I found myself relating a lot to this book as I read it. For years, I have listened to the negative stuff the devil throws my way, until God was drowned out. This book really nails it in showing how destructive it is to not get a handle on it all, and as someone who deals with depression, I can see how it slowly evolved from my worries and fears.

  The book doesn't offer a quick and easy fix, but it does offer a totally Biblical solution on how to focus more on God, on what He is saying and what He wants from us and for us. Even now, with progress I have made, I realized after reading the book that I really need to work more on listening to God's voice instead of worrying so much and listening to the negative stuff in my head. It is a tall order, but worth it.

About the author:

Steven Furtick is the founder and lead pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, named by Outreach magazine as one of the top 10 fastest growing churches in the nation. In four years, Elevation has grown to more than 6,000 people in regular attendance in three locations. Steven holds a degree in communication from North Greenville University, and a Master of Divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Holly, have two young sons—Elijah and Graham—and make their home in the Charlotte area. 

 Crash the Chatterbox is available from Multnomah Publishing.

Thanks to Waterbrook/Multnomah Publishing for  the review copy. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Rise and Shine by Sandra Bricker

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Rise and Shine
River North; New Edition edition (May 1, 2014)
Sandra D. Bricker


For more than a decade, Sandra D. Bricker lived in Los Angeles. While honing her chosen craft of screenwriting in every spare moment, she worked as a personal assistant and publicist to some of daytime television's hottest stars. When her mother became ill in Florida, she walked away from that segment of her life and moved across the country to take on a new role: Caregiver.

The author says that it was her 8th novel that opened the door to finding her way as a writer. "I'm a Christian woman, first and foremost," she says. "So it was a bit of a dream-come-true when Summerside Press chose me as one of two authors to launch the Love Finds You line."

Sandie's real-life role as cancer survivor has parlayed into her steadfast commitment to raising awareness and funds for ovarian cancer research. Spearheading a series of devotionals for Summerside Press (such as the popular His Grace is Sufficient...Decaf is Not), the author has stipulated that a portion of each contributor's proceeds will go to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.

"Being allowed to combine my faith and my humor with raising funds for my pet projects ... and still pursue my writing dream," says Bricker, "well, that's the best of all worlds, as far as I'm concerned!"

And one of the author's pet projects is animal rescue, evidenced by the special bond she has created with one particular formerly-abandoned puppy -- a red-haired collie with "killer brown eyes and the heart of the class clown."


Shannon Malone thought she'd found her happy ending when she married Edmund Ridgeway, but a diving accident on their honeymoon left her in a coma. Waking up to the news that she's thirty years old would have been daunting enough . . . but she also learns that Edmund has lost his interim battle with cancer and the world has marched on without her. Her gorgeous doctor, Daniel Petros, seems to know everything about her and becomes Shannon's tour guide into a whole new world of madness where reality television has taken over the planet and everyone's life appears to revolve around a tiny screen on their cell phones! As Shannon struggles to navigate through the changes-both in the world and in her-she also must discern real memories from imagined ones. Did she really ever wear capris pants and entertain in her living room, or was that Laura Petrie from her favorite classic TV show? And where is her beloved dog, Freeway? Oh, wait! That was Jonathan and Jennifer Hart's dog, not hers. Shannon's three elderly aunts flit through her life in true Sleeping Beauty style with her well-being always a priority. And Edmund's sister Millicent descends like the Evil Queen she is, trying to extract Shannon from any claim on the Ridgeway family fortune. When a tornado moves through town and Shannon is knocked unconscious, will Daniel's kiss awaken her once and for all?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Rise and Shine, go HERE.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Spirit Bridge by James Rubart

The Warriors Riding have battled in astounding supernatural realms, set captives free, and awakened thousands of hearts. But now their only chance of survival depends on calling for "The Spirit Bridge."

Reece, Dana, Brandon, and Marcus have achieved staggering success in the spiritual realm . . . but each is reeling from vicious attacks. They need rest. A break from the war.

But the warlord Zennon is raging and will give them no quarter. The demon holds what he believes to be the trump card--a hidden strategy set in motion before Warriors Riding even began--that will detonate the team from the inside out. And he's just set it loose.

The street magician Simon--finally free of Zennon's alternate reality prison--is racing to remember his past before his ignorance obliterates his destiny. Then there's Miyo--a brash young warrior with advanced knowledge of spiritual realities and supernatural armor even Reece doesn't know about. These two will be pivotal in the final war.

If only the Warriors knew which side Simon and Miyo are truly on. If only they knew how to fight against Zennon's final assault.

"The Spirit Bridge" is the epic conclusion to acclaimed author James L. Rubart's Well Spring series, which will propel each of the Warriors Riding on a quest of true identity, ultimate freedom, and a final battle that will leave them changed forever.

My review:
   James Rubart instantly became one of my favorite authors when I read his first book, Rooms. It is a fiction book I think all Christians should read, and is a book that can be life-changing. It is that good.

  He went on to impress me with his next couple of novels, then he did something new for him: he did a trilogy. His other books were stand alone novels, and I admit I was a bit skeptical, but I was wrong. Wow, what a ride. This has been a fantastic series that has really made me think about spiritual warfare and how much the devil does fight us.

  I have been eagerly waiting for this, the third and last book in the Well Spring Series, and it was definitely worth the wait. All of the group is back, and they are back at the special kind of spiritual warfare they have been so proficient at, but this time something creeps in and lulls most of them, even the wisest and most experienced among them.

  The ways the characters in the book are fought are ways we can be fought, and though the book was enjoyable, it was also a sobering reminder of how careful we must be.

 The idea of physically going into someone's soul and fighting is obviously fictional - very fictional, but it was a very neat way to show the reality of a spiritual world that is set on destroying us, and that spiritual warfare is very real.

  This may be the best book of the trilogy. There was more at stake than in the other books, it had a very climatic battle that had me turning the pages as fast as I could, and a great ending that left me satisfied, yet wanting more. Not everything was tied up in a neat bow, but some things were resolved. 

 I definitely recommend the series, but they must be read in order, or you'll have no clue what is going on.

About the author:

James L. Rubart is a professional marketer, speaker, and writer. While being the owner of Barefoot Marketing certainly keeps him on his toes, his passion is writing fiction.

Rubart is an ECPA best-selling author who has been positively reviewed by both Publisher's Weekly and Romantic Times. His first novel, Rooms, won a Best Books 2011 award from USA Book News, as well as a Romantic Times Book Reviews Reviewers Choice Award. His debut release was followed by Book of Days and The Chair. Spirit Bridge is Rubart's sixth release.

In addition to being an author, Rubart is also a photographer, guitarist, professional speaker, golfer and semi-pro magician. With all of this, he says that he barely sleeps. Rubart lives with his wife and sons in the Pacific Northwest.

Find out more about Jim at

Fatal Exchange by Lisa Harris

Desperate times create desperate people. And desperate people are dangerous . . . Though Emily Hunt comes from a family of cops, the relatively quiet life of a high school teacher suits her just fine. She's saving up to buy a house, slowly moving forward after her brother's death, and settling into a life she loves. So the last person she wants to spend time with is Mason Taylor.

An undercover cop, Mason is enemy number one as far as her family is concerned. His involvement in the death of Emily's brother is still up in the air, and now he expects her to help him with a case. Mason has been working with one of her students, Rafael Cerda, whose brother has been kidnapped by a drug cartel. And with time running out to meet their demands, Rafael is getting desperate.

Emily will have to draw on all of her strength to handle what happens next . . .

Fatal Exchange will draw you into a complex matrix of intertwining lives, unraveling secrets, and unexpected love.

My review:
   I started reading this book later in the evening than I should have, and had intentions of reading part of it, going to bed, and finishing it the next day. Those intentions died once I got into the book. It doesn't take long for the action to start up, and I was pulled completely into the story. This is one of the best suspense novels I have read for a while. Great characters, non-stop action, suspense, and drama, and a strong message of faith.

  This is the second book in the Southern Crimes Series. I read and reviewed the first book, but it has been about a year, so I had forgotten most of what happened in that book, but some of it came back as I was reading this one.

  Lisa Harris is still a fairly new author to me. I read one of her books a few years ago and thought it was OK, then the book that precedes this one and liked it a lot, but she really hit a home run on this one. Awesome is overused a lot, but this book was that - awesome.

  Trusting God and forgiving someone who has done you wrong were both issues in the book, and I like it when an author can weave truths like that into a book, especially into a suspense novel. It only added to the depth of the story and made it more enjoyable.

  Lisa packed a nice little surprise into the very ending of the book, and I found myself moaning at the idea of having to wait a whole year to find out what happens. But if it is anything like this book, it will be worth the wait.

About the author:

Lisa Harris is a bestselling author, a Christy Award finalist, and the winner of the Best Inspirational Suspense Novel for 2011 from Romantic Times. She has sold over thirty novels and novella collections. Along with her husband, she and her three children have spent over ten years living as missionaries in Africa where she homeschools, leads a women's group, and runs a nonprofit organization that works alongside their church-planting ministry. The ECHO Project works in southern Africa promoting Education, Compassion, Health, and Opportunity and is a way for her to "speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves . . . the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice" (Proverbs 31:8).

When she's not working, she loves hanging out with her family, cooking different ethnic dishes, photography, and heading into the African bush on safari. For more information about her books and life in Africa, visit her website at or her blog at For more information about The ECHO Project, please visit

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Critical Condition by Rihard Mabry, and a giveaway

Dr. Frasier couldn't save the gunshot victim on her front lawn. Now she's fighting for her own life.

It began as a quiet dinner party honoring Dr. Shannon Frasier's colleague, but became a nightmare when a man was shot on her lawn, reviving emotions from a similar episode a decade ago. Then a midnight call from her sister, Megan, causes Shannon to fear that her sister is on drugs again.

Her "almost-fiancé" Dr. Mark Gilbert's support only adds to Shannon's feelings of guilt, since she can't bring herself to fully commit to him. She turns for help to her pastor-father, only to learn that he's just been diagnosed with leukemia.
Shannon thought it couldn't get any worse. Then the late-night, threatening phone calls begin, the rough voice asking, "What did he say before he died?"

With everything around her in a critical state, simply staying alive will require all the resources and focus Shannon has.

My review:
   Richard Mabry is an author who seems to get better with each book he writes. I liked his early novels he did with Abington Publishing, but the ones he has done with Thomas Nelson are even better, and it looks like that was a good move on his part.

  Some books build up to action, but this book starts out with a shooting on the first page. A couple of pages later, there is another shooting, and the suspense and action builds from there until the climatic ending.

  I am not a big fan of medical fiction, but when it has suspense, mystery, and murder thrown in, it becomes a completely different genre', and I find myself enjoying it a lot. Mabry's books are always centered around hospitals, and at least one main character is always a nurse or doctor. Mabry does a great job of putting medical terminology and procedures in terms that non medical people like me can understand.

  I liked the characters in this novel, and found myself relating to the struggle of the main character of letting go of guilt, and of trusting God. I loved the suspense angle, and thought it was well done. It was a book that kept me guessing as to what was coming next. I definitely had a hard time putting it down and once I started it, I read it through til the end.

About the author:

A retired physician, Dr. Richard Mabry is the author of four critically acclaimed novels of medical suspense. His previous works have been finalists for the Carol Award and Romantic Times Reader's Choice Award, and have won the Selah Award. He is a past vice president of American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of the International Thriller Writers. He and his wife live in North Texas.

Learn more about Richard at: Richard Mabry's latest medical suspense, Critical Condition, is receiving high praise. USA TODAY says, "Mabry combines his medical expertise with a story that will keep you on the edge of your seat."

Richard is celebrating the release with a Kindle HDX giveaway!
One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • Critical Condition by Richard Mabry
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on May 11th. Winner will be announced May 13th on Richard's blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by Richard's blog on May 13th to see if you won.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Casting the Net by Pam Rhodes

Heartwarming English comedy of manners, featuring the trials and tribulations of newly ordained minister, Neil Fisher

In part two of the Dunbridge Chronicles, Neil Fisher returns from ordination inspired by his sense of ministry, but determined to distance himself from the two ladies in his life. This is not altogether well received, and a wide segment of the congregation of St Stephen’s, Dunbridge—including the music group—points Neil to the error of his ways.

Meanwhile Neil’s close friend Colin and his wife, Jeannie, are delighted by the birth of a daughter, but is all well with the baby? Neil’s mother Iris continues to meddle, to his irritation. Churchwarden Peter has said a relieved farewell to his flighty wife Glenda—or has he? Dunbridge is not as peaceful as it seems.

My review:
   Some years ago, I read a couple of the books by Jan Karon that have been so popular, and didn't really care for them. This series is somewhat along the same lines of those books, but I find myself enjoying them far more. I loved the first book, and found myself liking the second one even better.

  In this book, Neil, the main character, is finding his footing more as a vicar. The same interesting and sometimes odd characters from book one are back for this, along with the two competing love interests for the new minister.

 I am more used to the main character hanging out a tavern and drinking ale, but I could still do without that, but I still found myself completely enjoying the book. Neil is constantly finding himself in funny and difficult circumstances, and also finds himself struggling a bit with his call.

  Not all is fun and games in this book, as a seasoned leader loses faith in the midst of loss, and Neil is left scrambling to fill a void he doesn't feel ready to fill, while trying to plow through the question of whether God is truly good in the midst of loss.

  I do find the idea of a minister becoming involved with a nonbeliever against what the Bible teaches, but this is fiction, and that may be worked out in the next book. The book was a quite satisfying sequel, and though a departure from my usual suspense/mystery novels, is still a book that kept me turning the pages as fast as I could turn them. This is a series worth reading, and one that men might enjoy more than a lot of the fiction that is geared for women,

About the author:

Pam Rhodes cut her teeth in news journalism, firstly as Programme Organiser on Thames Television's network documentary series, THIS WEEK, then as the anchor for Anglia Television live daily evening news programme for seven years.  She's featured on a very wide range of television and radio programmes ever since, but since 1987, has been best known as the familiar face of BBC Television's SONGS OF PRAISE.  In that time she has interviewed people ranging from The Pope to Dolly Parton, earning herself a reputation as a highly professional and empathetic interviewer, especially when people are speaking about sensitive, perhaps traumatic experiences. Also, SONGS OF PRAISE is the perfect programme for a presenter who truly loves hymns, old and new.  If you mention almost any hymn you can think of to Pam, she's likely to come back with the full story of who wrote it and why, as well as giving you renditions of a couple of tunes to which it can be sung - as you'd know if you've ever dipped into any of her weekly radio programmes WITH HEARTS AND HYMNS which have featured on Premier Christian Radio for a decade!

She has presented televised recordings in venues from the Sydney Opera House to London's Royal Albert hall, and is often asked to compere large orchestral or musical events at theatres and churches around the country - including, throughout Summer 2011, the famous BATTLE PROMS concerts which attract thousands to visitors to the gardens of glorious stately homes for an evening of picnic, patriotic music, Napoloeonic re-enactment, orchestral music, Spitfire fly-pasts and the largest collection of cannons and artillery you're likely to see in action anywhere!  Pam is also well known as an entertaining after-dinner speaker, and as a mainstream author with five novels and six factual books under her belt.   She regularly contributes articles and short stories to national newspapers like The Daily Mail, and publications such as CHOICE, MY WEEKLY, PEOPLE'S FRIEND, WOMAN'S WEEKLY and other specialist publications.

She is married to Richard Crow and lives with the family at a two-acre small holding in Bedfordshire.  It is there that they run BIGGLESWADE CAT LODGE which not only takes in cats while their owners are on holiday, but has also become known for boarding RSPCA animals who need loving care whilst new homes are found for them.  So Pam is likely to be cleaning out cat pens most days, or escaping for a potter in the garden when she's not happily tied to the computer by her first love of writing!  She also enjoys dancing so is often out ballroom, line or tap dancing - or at modern jive evenings similar to the one at which she met her husband Richard some years ago!

More about Pam and her books on her website.

  Casting The Net is available from Lion Hudson Publishing, an imprint of Kregel Publishing.

The Advocate by Randy Singer

At the trial of Christ, Theophilus, brilliant young assessore raised in the Roman aristocracy, stands behind Pontius Pilate and whispers, “Offer to release Barabbas.” The strategy backfires, and Theophilus never forgets the sight of an innocent man unjustly suffering the worst of all possible deaths—Roman crucifixion.

Three decades later, Theophilus has proven himself in the legal ranks of the Roman Empire. He has survived the insane rule of Caligula and has weathered the cruel tyrant’s quest to control the woman he loves. He has endured the mindless violence of the gladiator games and the backstabbing intrigue of the treason trials.

Now he must face another evil Caesar, defending the man Paul in Nero’s deranged court. Can Theophilus mount a defense that will keep another innocent man from execution?

The advocate’s first trial altered the course of history. His last will change the fate of an empire.

My review:
   Randy Singer has long been a favorite author of mine, and I am always excited to see a new book come out by him.

  This one, I wasn't so sure about. Up until now, he has only written books set in modern times, and they are suspenseful legal thrillers that give John Grisham a run for his money. But I wasn't so sure about a Biblical novel, though the book is actually classified as historical fiction. But Randy did not let me down.

  Although the book has a lot of real historical people in, Jesus included, it still is fiction. Not much is known about Theophilus, other than the books of Luke and Acts both being addressed to him, but Singer makes him the main character in this novel and as all historical fiction and Biblical fiction authors do, take some liberties. Such as Theophilus being present for Jesus' trial and crucifixion, and playing a part in the trial. However, it made for a very fascinating story.

  In the book, Theophilus is an advocate, basically a lawyer, and for not knowing much about the real Theophilus, Singer did a great job of creating a character who it seems like may have really lived.

  I have read a lot about Rome in the first century A.D, the emperors, and what the Christians went through, but I still learned a lot while reading this book. Although I prefer Randy's other books over this one, this was still a great read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Through a fictional story, the reader is given insight into the trial and crucifixion of Jesus, and also into what the legal system may have been like in those days. Randy Singer is a lawyer, and I found the way he portrayed the trials of that day very interesting.

  Something I learned in the book, and I researched it to see if it was true, is that the Romans came up with a word to describe the pain of crucifixion - "excrutiatus". I figured we got our word "excruciating" from that, and we did.

  The book doesn't have a happily ever after ending like I enjoy, but I still enjoyed the book. Not only was it a fascinating look into first century Rome, it was a reminder of where America could end up if we keep marching on the way we are. A good reminder, though sobering.

About the author:

Randy Singer is a critically acclaimed, award-winning author and veteran trial attorney. He has penned more than 10 legal thrillers and was recently a finalist with John Grisham and Michael Connelly for the inaugural Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction sponsored by the University of Alabama School of Law and the ABA Journal. Randy runs his own law practice and has been named to Virginia Business magazine's select list of "Legal Elite" litigation attorneys. In addition to his law practice and writing, Randy serves as teaching pastor for Trinity Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He calls it his "Jekyll and Hyde thing"—part lawyer, part pastor. He also teaches classes in advocacy and civil litigation at Regent Law School and, through his church, is involved with ministry opportunities in India. He and his wife, Rhonda, live in Virginia Beach. They have two grown children. Visit his website at

The Advocate is available from Tyndale Publishers.

Thanks to Tyndale for the review copy.