Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Rasmus and the Vagabond by Astrid Lingren

After running away from an orphanage, nine-year-old Rasmus finds the world a cold and unfriendly place until he befriends an extraordinary tramp called Paradise Oscar. Together they meet more adventure than they ever imagined, solve a mystery, and catch the culprits. Rasmus dreams of finding a family and a home someday. But when he does, will he be able to part with his new friend and life on the road? Children will hang onto every word as Rasmus and his unlikely friend discover hidden treasure, dodge a shady pair of villains, and rescue a lady in distress. Here's a gripping plot interweaving cops and robbers, a deserted village, a desperate chase, and a surprising, thoroughly satisfying ending.

My review:

  I read a lot even as a kid, but I don't remember ever reading this book. I do remember one of my teachers reading the Pippi Longstocking books to us, and when I saw this was the same author who wrote those books, I was intrigued enough to review this one. The recommended ages for the book are 8-12, though I would personally go with 8-10.

  I enjoyed the book. Yes, I am way beyond the recommended age, but it is a fun read that any kid would also enjoy. Rasmus, the main character, is a delightful and likable young boy who is living in the not-so-great of circumstances, stuck at an orphanage  run by a lady who doesn't seem to like children. So he runs away and takes up with a tramp named Oscar. The book becomes quite entertaining from there on out. The pair tries to stay out of trouble, but it keeps finding them. 

  The author did a great job of portraying the emotions of a young orphan wanting a family, and brought the book to a satisfying conclusion I didn't see coming. This is a book parents can have their kids read with no fear of content. This is what books should be like. I highly recommend.

About the author:

Astrid Anna Emilia Lindgren, née Ericsson, was a Swedish children's book author and screenwriter, whose many titles were translated into 85 languages and published in more than 100 countries. She has sold roughly 145 million copies worldwide. Today, she is most remembered for writing the Pippi Longstockingbooks, as well as the Karlsson-on-the-Roof book series.

Rasmus and the Vagabond is available from Plough Publishing House.

Thanks to Handlebar for the review copy.

Grace of God DVD with a giveaway

Having lost his faith many years ago, Detective Bill Broadly is called to investigate the disappearance of the local church’s collection plate. As he questions its various church members, rumors swirl as more congregants learn about the theft. When one unexpected church-goer confesses to stealing the funds, the confession resurrects Broadly’s views on God, and helps him see that through faith and belief there really is rebirth and redemption.

My review:

It used to be rare to come upon a Christian movie that wasn't cheesy and/or had bad acting. In the last few years however, there have been several that have come out that are worth watching and have good acting and are not cheesy. This movie is one such movie.

  The plot is a bit different than other Christian movies: the theft of $30,000 from the church raises the need to call in a private investigator who happens to be very anti-Christian. A lot of the movie consists of his investigating and conducting interviews with anyone who could possibly have had access to the church safe. Along the way he realizes that churches may have hypocrites, but they also have genuine Christians who God has truly saved and changed.

  I loved the plot, and the actors. I felt they all did a professional job of acting and don't feel there was any cheesy or amateur moments in the movie. There was a great message that even the most mature Christian may fall and do something wrong, but there is still forgiveness and restoration. The movie is definitely worth watching as it is entertaining and also carries a great message.

  The DVD cover says it is a "story of Easter traditions." That is the only thing about the movie I didn't get..... it has nothing to do with Easter, but is still a great movie.

The Grace of God is available from Walmart and other retailers.

Thanks to FlyBy Promotions for the review and giveaway DVDs.

Courtesy of FlyBy Promotions, I have one copy of the Grace of God DVD to give away.

To enter, just comment. I will pick a winner 10 days from from today on April 10.

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Tomb by Stephanie Landsem

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Tomb
Howard Books (March 17, 2015)
Stephanie Landsem


A word from the author:
I write historical fiction because I love adventure in far-off times and places. I’ve traveled since I was a teenager—backpacking through Germany and Eastern Europe, studying German in Salzburg, eating gelato in Italy, and riding camels in Morocco were some of the highlights. Travel kindles my imagination, fuels my love of history, and introduces me to one-of-a-kind characters. It’s the best kind of research.

When I can’t travel, I read. I love fiction, of course, but I’m often found behind a stack of history books or searching the web for historical tidbits. How people lived together, worked, and what they ate (I love food!) is usually what catches my imagination. No matter where or when we live, people are more alike than they are different. I love to find the similarities between our lives and those of the men and women of the ancient world.

I make my home in Minnesota with my husband of 22 years, four children, three fat cats, and a tortoise named Moe. When I’m not writing Biblical fiction, I’m feeding the ravenous horde of kids and their friends, volunteering at church and school, battling dandelions, and dreaming about my next adventure – whether it be in person or on the page.


In this captivating retelling of a classic biblical story, Jesus shocks the town of Bethany with Lazarus’s resurrection from the dead, leading Martha—a seemingly perfect woman trapped by the secrets of her past—to hope and a new life.

Everyone in Bethany admires Martha—the perfect Jewish woman. She feeds and clothes her loved ones, looks after the family farm, and meticulously follows every precept of the Pharisees’ strict laws. But Martha is hiding a secret. At her sister’s marriage feast, she gave her heart and her innocence to a young musician who promised to return and marry her, but instead betrayed her love and abandoned her.

Seven years later, only two people in Bethany know of Martha’s secret sin: her brother, Lazarus, and Simon, the righteous Pharisee to whom Martha is betrothed. When Lazarus falls ill, Martha is faced with a choice: send for Jesus to save her dying brother—risking the wrath of Simon who threatens to betray her—or deny Jesus’ healing power and remain trapped in her tomb of secrecy and lies.

Meanwhile, on the shores of Galilee, Isa roams the wilderness, tortured by demons and knowing only that someone is waiting for him. When he is healed by Jesus, he finds that seven years have passed since his descent into madness. Isa journeys home to Bethany only to find he is too late to win back Martha’s love.

When Martha risks all to heal Lazarus, will Jesus arrive in time, or will he—like Isa—come too late?

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

Sabotaged by Dani Pettrey

Finally Returned Home, Reef McKeena
Finds His Beloved Alaska Facing Its Greatest Threat
Growing up, goody-two-shoes Kirra Jacobs and troublemaker Reef McKenna were always at odds. Now, working together as search-and-rescue for Alaska's arduous Iditarod race, a growing attraction seems to be forcing aside old arguments. Then Reef catches Kirra sneaking from camp in the middle of the night. 

Kirra's uncle, a musher in the race, has disappeared. Kirra and Reef quickly track the man, but what they discover is harrowing: Frank's daughter has been kidnapped. Kirra and Reef, along with the entire McKenna family, are thrown into a race to stop a shadowy villain who is not only threatening a girl's life--but appears willing to unleash one of the largest disasters Alaska has ever seen. 

My review:
  I love a good Christian suspense novel, and Dani Pettrey has written five of them in the same series. It is unusual nowadays for a Christian fiction series to exceed three books, so I was pleasantly surprised when I found out this series would have four books, and very happy when I heard a fifth was coming out. This was not a series I got tired of. Each book was just as, or more exciting as the ones that preceded it.

  Each book in the series focused on a different member of the McKenna family, and this book, Sabotaged, #5 in The Alaskan Courage Series focuses on the last member, Reef. As with the other four books, the book had a great plot, plenty of suspense and drama, and of course a romance. This book centered around the Itarod race in Alaska, and it was cool to find out a little of how that is done and what all is involved in it. It made a great backdrop for the story, and I got pulled into the story right away, but then the book launches into the suspense part right away and doesn't work slowly up to it. And once I started this book, I did not want to put it down. So I didn't. I sat in my Lazy Boy recliner and read through the book in one evening. I felt very satisfied, yet a bit sad at reaching the end of the series, but what a great end to the series it was.

 This five book series is the first thing Dani Pettrey has written, but she cemented her place in the Christian fiction market with her first book, and has made that place stronger with each book she has written. This final book should give her a solid and lasting reputation as a great author of quality Christian suspense. I am looking forward to her next series and can't wait to start on it.

About the author:

Dani Pettrey is a wife, home-schooling mom, and the acclaimed author of the Alaskan Courage romantic suspense series, which includes her bestselling novels Submerged,ShatteredStranded, and Silenced, and new release, Sabotaged. Her books have been honored with the Daphne du Maurier award, two HOLT Medallions, two National Readers' Choice Awards, the Gail Wilson Award of Excellence, and Christian Retailing's Best Award, among others.  

She feels blessed to write inspirational romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things she loves--the thrill of adventure, nail-biting suspense, the deepening of her characters' faith, and plenty of romance. She and her husband reside in Maryland, where they enjoy time with their two daughters, a son-in-law, and a super adorable grandson. You can find her online at danipettrey.com.

Sabotaged and the rest of The Alaskan Courage Series is available from Bethany House Publishers, part of the Baker Publishing Group.

Thanks to Bethany House for the review copy.

One Last Thing by Rebecca St James and Nancy Rue

A hope-filled soon-to-be bride makes a discovery about her fiance that rocks her world and provokes a maelstrom of decisions and self-discovery.

Tara Faulkner has dreamed of her wedding and the life she and her fiance Seth will share in their hometown of Savannah . . . and by all accounts, it should be a charmed one. But when she discovers three weeks before the wedding that Seth is seriously addicted to pornography, Tara's dreams are shattered.

She must decide whether she will stand by Seth, but she also must let go of the dream she shaped for herself and discover a real vision for her life--and where it will come from. With all else falling apart, Tara encounters an unexpected--and unlikely--group of women mentors. They help her peel back the layers of shaming secrets and begin to clearly see the real issues of her generation.

In the end, she's able to make a decision based on God's vision--not her own.

My review:
  It is a brave author, or in this case, authors, who take on a subject like pornography. I applaud their decision, as it is something that affects a lot of marriages and relationships, and many Christian marriages and relationships. 

 Although fictional, this is a scenario that has most likely happened to a young girl on the brink of marriage - finding out her fiancee' is addicted to pornography. Sadly, if most women find out, it is after the vows have been said.

 This is a story, not a "what to do if you find your fiancee'' is addicted to pornography" advice book, yet the book does present a good idea of how to handle it, and how not to handle it. 

 I liked the characters and felt for them, even Seth, the porn addict, who has suddenly had his secret pulled into the light and realizes he could lose the woman he loves. I won't give the ending away, but I wish the book had ended differently, but it was still a great read and dealt in a great way with such a topic.

About the authors:

Rebecca St. James, an Australian-born Christian recording artist, is both a Grammy Award winner and a multiple Dove Award recipient. She is also the bestselling author of Wait for Me, SHE Teen, and What is He Thinking. In addition, St. James has appeared in the film Sarah's Choice and lent her voice to VeggieTales' An Easter Story. www.rsjames.com

Nancy Rue is the author of over 100 books for adults and teens, including the Christy Award-winning The Reluctant Prophet, Unexpected Dismounts and Healing Waters (with Steve Arterburn), which was the 2009 Women of Faith Novel of the Year. She travels extensively—at times on the back of a Harley—speaking to and teaching groups of women of all ages. Nancy lives on a lake in Tennessee with her Harley-ridin’ husband, Jim, and their two yellow Labs (without whom writing would be difficult).

One Last Thing is available from Thomas Nelson Publishing. 

Thanks to Book Look Bloggers for the review copy.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Heaven's Prey by Janet Sketchley

A grieving woman is abducted by a serial killer—and it may be the answer to her prayers.
Despite her husband’s objections, 40-something Ruth Warner finds healing through prayer for Harry Silver, the serial killer who brutally raped and murdered her niece. When a kidnapping-gone-wrong pegs her as his next victim, Harry claims that the chance to destroy the one person who’d pray for him proves God can’t—or won’t—look after His own. Can Ruth’s faith sustain her to the end—whatever the cost?
    My review:
       I ran across this author on a Facebook group and thought her books sounded good. I commented, and that comment led to an offer to review a couple of her books. This is the first book in the Redemption Edge Series.
   I believe this is the author's first book, and it is a great debut novel. The book was very suspenseful with a great Christian message woven throughout it. Although fictional, it does show how God can work in anything, even the kidnapping at the hand of a cruel rapist and killer.

  The book goes back and forth between the present and the past, showing the growing up years and descent into his crimes of murder and rape of the killer, Harry, which breaks up the book a bit instead of it all being about a criminal hiding out with his captive. Although not every person who develops an addiction to pornography, the story shows the dangers of getting involved in pornography and the downward trend it has as the addict needs something more hardcore and extreme after a while. We know that it does happen that people starts out with pornography and graduate to rape and/or murder.

  I enjoyed the book a lot. It was suspense, which I enjoy, and had a great plot and characters. It carries a great lesson that no matter what situation we are in, God can work it out for the best, and that He can reach anyone, no matter how far gone they seem to be.
  Even if I didn't have the second book waiting to read and review, I'd be wanting to read it after this one. I highly recommend.

About the author:

  Janet Sketchley is the author of Heaven's Prey and Secrets and Lies, two novels of suspense and redemption. She also blogs about faith and books. Janet loves adventure stories, worship music, tea and Formula 1 racing. Like Carol in Secrets and Lies, she loves music and tea. Unlike Carol, Janet isn't related to a dangerous offender, has a happy home life, and has never been threatened by a drug lord. May those tidbits continue to hold true! You can find Janet online at http://janetsketchley.ca. Fans of Christian suspense are invited to join Janet's writing journey through her monthly newsletter: http://bit.ly/JanetSketchleyNews.

 Thanks to the author for the review copy.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Miracle At Higher Grounds Cafe' by Max Lucado, with Candace Lee and Eric Newman - and win an iPad

What if you could ask God anything? What would you ask? And how would he answer?
Chelsea Chambers is on her own. After a public split from her NFL superstar husband, Chelsea takes a bold step out of the limelight and behind the counter of the Higher Grounds Café, an old-fashioned coffee shop in dire need of reinvention. But when her courage, expert planning, and out-of-this-world cupcakes fail to pay the bills, this newly single mom finds herself desperate for help. Better yet, a miracle.
Then a curious stranger lands at Chelsea's door, and with him, an even more curious string of events. Soon, customers are flocking to the Higher Grounds Café, and not just for the cupcakes and cappuccino. They've come for the internet connection to the divine. Now the café has become the go-to place for people in search of answers to life's biggest questions.
When a catastrophe strikes and her ex comes calling, Chelsea begins to wonder if the whole universe is conspiring against her quest to make it on her own. After a shocking discovery opens her eyes to the unseen world around her, Chelsea finds the courage to ask, and heaven answers in a most unexpected way.

My review:

  Other than his Christmas novels he has written, I don't recall reading an adult fiction novel by Max Lucado before, but I liked this one.

 I did think the book could have been longer. The chapters were too short and ended abruptly, and the reader isn't given much time to get to know the characters before the book is over, but I liked the plot, characters, and setting. 

 This isn't t he first book to be written that has an angel in human form, and I like the idea. It worked well for the book, and the authors did a good job of writing him into the story.

 Obviously, God would never have a blog where He answers questions, but it was a neat idea. 

  Overall, this is a cool little story and shows through fiction how much God cares about each one of us and is involved, but I did think it could have been deeper and been developed more.

About the author:

More than 120 million readers have found comfort in the writings of Max Lucado. He ministers at the Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas, where he lives with his wife, Denalyn, and a sweet but misbehaving mutt, Andy.

Find Max online

Miracle At Higher Grounds Cafe' is available from Thomas Nelson Publishing.

Thanks to Litfuse for the review copy.

In Max Lucado's new fiction release, Miracle at the Higher Grounds Cafe, he asks, If you could ask God anything, what would you ask—and how would he answer? When a catastrophe strikes and her ex comes calling, Chelsea begins to wonder if the whole universe is conspiring against her quest to make it on her own. After a shocking discovery opens her eyes to the unseen world around her, Chelsea finds the courage to ask, and heaven answers in a most unexpected way.

Join Max in celebrating the release of his new fiction book by entering his iPad giveaway and RSVPing to his Coffee with Max webcast!


One grand prize winner will receive:
  • An iPad Mini
  • A copy of Miracle at the Higher Grounds Cafe
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 23rd. Winner will be announced March 24th on the Litfuse blog. Then tune in later on the 24th for his Coffee with Max webcast. RSVP here!



Thursday, March 12, 2015

Mercy's Rain by Cindy Sproles

When your life is built around a father's wrath, how can you trust in the love of Father God?

Mercy Roller knows her name is a lie: there has never been any mercy in her young life. Raised by a twisted and abusive father who called himself the Pastor, she was abandoned by the church community that should have stood together to protect her from his evil. Her mother, consumed by her own fear and hate, won't stand her ground to save Mercy either.

The Pastor has robbed Mercy of innocence and love, a husband and her child. Not a single person seems capable of standing up to the Pastor's unrestrained evil. So Mercy takes matters into her own hands.

Her heart was hardened to love long before she took on the role of judge, jury, and executioner of the Pastor. She just didn't realize the retribution she thought would save her, might turn her into the very thing she hated most.

Sent away by her angry and grieving mother, Mercy's path is unclear until she meets a young preacher headed to counsel a pregnant couple. Sure that her calling is to protect the family, Mercy is drawn into a different life on the other side of the mountain where she slowly discovers true righteousness has nothing evil about it--and that there might be room for her own stained and shattered soul to find shelter. . . and even love.

Mercy's Rain is a remarkable historical novel set in 19th century Appalachia that traces the thorny path from bitterness to forgiveness and reveals the victory and strength that comes from simple faith.

My review:
   I had a hard time getting into this book. It was written in the first person point of view, which is not my favorite, and used Appalachian style language when the people were talking, or the main character was thinking. I get that authors do that to be more authentic, but it bugs me.

  It was still an interesting read. The main character's father was a pastor that did a lot of bad and gave her a wrong image of God, and it took her a long time to get past that. The author does a great job of showing how our views of God can be misconstrued, often by family members and/or authority figures.

Mercy's Rain is available from Kregel Publishing.

Thanks to Kregel for the review copy.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Lethal Beauty by Lis Wiehl with April Henry

Mia Quinn discovers that a series of seemingly unrelated murders are linked. How far up are the strings being pulled--and what happens when one of her own is at risk?

The murder Mia is prosecuting seems like an open and shut case--until the accused claims he was the real victim and that the dead girl attacked him first. The tabloids dub her a "lethal beauty." Still, a conviction seems imminent. Then a key witness goes missing. Just when it looks like the killer could walk free, the dead woman's mother takes matters into her own hands.

Meanwhile, Charlie Carlson, a Seattle homicide detective, is investigating the murder of a man whose body washed up on the beach of Puget Sound, but he's got little to go on. He has no dental work, fingerprints aren't on file, and he doesn't match any missing person reports. Then a church pianist is senselessly gunned down before horrified parishioners.

All three cases seem unrelated--but are they? Together, Mia and Charlie race to find the answer before another crime hits too close to home.

My review:

  I have enjoyed this series most of the ones I have read by Lis Wiehl, and this book is the best one so far. I like a series where most of the same people are in it, and that is the case with this series. I wish more books had a male lead, but Mia Quinn is a great lead for this series. I like her character, and her challenging home life of raising a teenage boy and a little girl. while still dealing with the mess her dead husband left her.

  The main plot of the book revolves around human trafficking, and the book gives a look at what people might go through who are caught up in that. In this book, the ones trafficked are brought in from other countries and enslaved for work and prostitution.

 The book picks up some story line from other books, and brings it to a conclusion. It had a lot of suspense and drama that her books are becoming known for, and I would put this one up against a John Grisham book in style and excitement.

  One problem I have with this book, and the previous one, is it ended rather abruptly. I would have liked to have read a little more after the climax of the story, but there isn't much after the most exciting part of the book. I still enjoyed the book and read it in one sitting. I highly recommend it to readers of suspense and legal thrillers, though the series should be read in order.

About the author:

Lis Wiehl is the author "Face of Betrayal," a New York Times Best Seller. 

She has also written "Winning Every Time: How to Use the Skills of a Lawyer in the Trials of Your Life" and "The 51% Minority: How Women Still Are Not Equal and What You Can Do About It." 

In addition to her written work, Wiehl is currently a legal analyst for Fox News. She has been with the network since 2001. 

A graduate of Harvard Law School, Wiehl is an adjunct professor at New York Law School.

Check out her website.

Lethal Beauty is available from Thomas Nelson Publishing.

Thanks to Book Look Bloggers for the review copy.

Rise of the Fallen by Chuck Black

A six thousand year war rages and now the demonic Fallen are coming for him—the one man shrouded in mystery. Only Validus stands in their way.

Validus is the last and least of God’s angels, but he’s seen much across the millennia since his creation. Empires have risen and fallen as angelic and demonic forces battle in a raging war that will determine humanity's fate – and the fate of his defeated brothers.

Eventually called to be an earth-bound warrior, Validus rises to a position of power and respect, commanding legions of angels through impossible battles and overwhelming odds. But when orders arrive from the Creator's most elite Messenger, he finds himself suddenly demoted to a task of apparent insignificance considering the fierce war they are waging against the demonic Fallen – the covert protection of one unbelieving man. 

Validus soon finds himself on a mission that will push him beyond his abilities as he battles to protect Drew Carter, for the Fallen are coming for him. Legions of them. 

As Validus races against time to discover why Drew is so important to humanity's survival, can he stand between Drew and all who would destroy him?

My review:

  Ever since I finished the first book in this series, Cloak of the Light, I have been looking forward to reading this one. The first book ended with quite the cliffhanger, and I wanted to find out what happened next. Unfortunately,  I will have to wait for the next book, as this one did not go much past where book one ended.

  The first book centered around Drew Carter, a young man who has an accident that temporarily blinds him. After he regains his sight, he can see beings that he doesn't realize for a long time are angels and demons.

 This book centers around one of the angels assigned to guard him. Although the book is fictional, and thus the author's idea of how things happened, it was still fascinating to read an account of what it might have been for an angel to be there for Lucifer's rebellion, Creation, the fall of man, Noah, the Tower of Babel, and more. The book went back and forth from those events to modern day, where the angels were guarding their charge.

 I like books like this where an author writes angels into the story, if it is done right, and this author tried to stick to Biblical views of angels and what they might do in our lives. I loved the book, and read it the day it came in the mail. I liked the characters, especially Validus, an angel guarding a human, and having no idea why this human is so important. The book has a lot of drama and excitement, battles between angels and demons, between good and bad. t is geared for juvenile readers, but reads like an adult book. It is a book that juveniles and adults alike can enjoy, which is a testament of the author's writing abilities. I loved the book, and enjoyed every page of it. There were no parts I wanted to skim over, and found myself wishing I had not reached the end of the book. I highly recommend it, though book one should be read first.

About the author:

Chuck Black spent eight years in the Air Force traveling the world as a communications engineer and an F-16 fighter pilot. Today, Chuck is a product design engineer and has invented or coinvented eleven patented construction products now being sold internationally. His passion in life is to serve the Lord Jesus Christ and to love his wife, Andrea, and their six children. The Blacks take their family music ministry on the road, singing Christian gospel, contemporary, and traditional songs. Chuck and his family live in North Dakota.

Rise of the Fallen is available from Waterbrook/Multnomah Publishing.

Thanks to Waterbrook/Multnomah for the review copy.