Friday, July 31, 2015

Direct Hit by Mike Hollow

The jagged blast of high explosives rips through the evening air. In the sky over East London the searchlights criss-cross in search of the enemy.

On the first night of the Blitz, a corpse is discovered in a van in the back streets of West Ham. Detective Inspector John Jago recognizes the dead man as local Justice of the Peace Charles Villiers. But then a German bomb obliterates all evidence. 

Villiers, not a popular man, was both powerful and feared. As the sirens wail, the detective must start matching motive to opportunity – and it doesn’t help when his boss foists an intrusive American journalist on him.

Jago soon discovers the dead man held many secrets, some reaching back to World War I. A lot of people wished Villiers dead – and an air raid is a good time to conceal a murder.

My review:

   This was a new author for me, but I really enjoyed the book. I don't tend to read many books set in England, so that was different and it is also set in a different time period than most of the suspense novels that I read are set in, World War II.

  I liked the main character, and found his methods of crime solving in that time period interesting, and his efforts were hampered since the crime scene was destroyed by a bombing. The book wasn't as fast paced as I usually am used to in suspense novels I read, but it was not boring and kept my interest throughout the book. And though I wouldn't call  the book Christian fiction, it was clean and I didn't notice any bad language,

 Along with the suspense, there is history covered of the War which adds an interesting dimension to the story.

About the author:

Mike Hollow was born in West Ham, on the eastern edge of London, and grew up in Romford, Essex. He studied Russian and French at the University of Cambridge and then worked for the BBC and later Tearfund. In 2002 he went freelance as a copywriter, journalist and editor. He's a published poet, and nowadays when not writing about the Blitz Detective he makes his living as a translator.

Direct Hit is available from Lion Publishing, distributed by Kregel Publishing.

Thanks to Kregel for the review copy.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Pilgrim by Davis Bunn

In his latest historical epic, worldwide bestselling author Davis Bunn takes readers on a journey through an ancient landscape. Travel with Empress Helena from Caesarea to Judea. Abandoned by her husband, in danger because of her faith, but with an implacable will to do what God calls her to, she takes a perilous pilgrimage. Along the way she meets those who would help her (the wizened and wise bishop Macarius;  the rough-edged but kind-hearted sergeant Cratus; the young soldier Anthony, a man who has lost everything, including his faith) and those who would harm her (the menacing and murderous Roman assassin Severus). Miracles seem to follow this humble but determined woman as she wins many over to the faith, and changes lives forever—including her own.

This unforgettable story of the discovery of the True Cross will thrill readers with its adventure, and with its vivid portrait of one of Christian history’s most important women. 

My review:
   Davis Bunn is an excellent author who writes all types of novels and never disappoints. However, I wasn't so sure of this book when it came in the mail. It isn't a very long book, coming in at only 176 pages, and it is a very unassuming book in appearance. Armed with the knowledge that Bunn is a great author, I started reading it. And I couldn't put it down.

  I either had forgotten Helena was a real person, or never learned about her. Regardless, as I read it, I wondered if she was a real person. I Googled "Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine", and sure enough. Just as the book said, she had led her famous son to Christ, and she had also taken a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and legend says she found the cross Jesus was crucified on. With that knowledge, the book became even more interesting to me.

  It is historical fiction, so many of the events and characters in the book come from the author's imagination, but he takes the reader on a fascinating journey from Ceaserea to Jerusalem. The journey is filled with all sorts of interesting and miraculous events, and after finishing the book, it seemed to me the book was longer than just 176 pages. He packs a lot into those few pages.

  It is an interesting and entertaining read, but there is also a great message in the book. That there is always forgiveness, even we turn our backs on Jesus and do things that seem beyond forgiveness. Although the people in the book that repented were fictional, it is not beyond the realm of possibilities that there were real life Christians who turned their back on their faith to avoid torture and death for them and their families.

  I would highly recommend this book. Davis Bunn can put this short but packed novel up against the best historical fiction there is and be proud of this latest work. It does not disappoint. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

About the author:

Davis Bunn is an internationally-acclaimed author who has sold more than seven million books in twenty languages.

Honored with four Christy Awards for excellence in historical and suspense fiction, Davis was inducted into the Christy Hall of Fame in 2014.

His bestsellers include The Great Divide, Winner Take All, The Meeting Place, The Book of Hours, and The Quilt. A sought-after lecturer in the art of writing, Bunn was serves as Writer in Residence at Regent's Park College, Oxford University.

Davis Bunn also writes under the names Thomas Locke (for his epic fantasy and techno-thriller novels) and T. Davis Bunn (for books published prior to 2002).

The Pilgrim is available from Fransiscan Media.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Franciscan Media in exchange for my honest review.

Read the first 3 chapters here.

Q&A With Davis Bunn, author of The Pilgrim

Q: There are many legends about Constantine and his mother, Helena. How did you decide which legend to incorporate into the story?
Davis Bunn: The period when Constantine became the first Christian emperor is one about which so much has been written, and yet so little detail is known. No one knows for certain where his mother, Helena – the main character in The Pilgrim – was born. There are three main legends, and I used the one that has the greatest sense of historical resonance, that she was British, and her father ruled one of the provinces taken over by the Romans. Her husband was a general who met Helena in the local market and fell in love at first sight.
Q: What is the appeal of writing about a historical figure? What was one special challenge you faced in doing so?
First and foremost, Helena is a saint in the eyes of the Catholic church. Her son, Emperor Constantine, was the first Roman leader to convert to Christianity. His death marked the moment when Christians were freed from persecution. Constantine was led to faith by his mother. The Pilgrim is her story.
While I am a fervent evangelical Protestant, my wife is Catholic. My mother is a Catholic convert. As is my sister, who has raised her two daughters as Catholic. So part of what I wanted to do here was to grow closer to the heritage that these dear people treasure. Their faith has had such an impact on my own life.  It was important that I use this story and this opportunity to create something that would honor their perspective on faith. I also wanted to share with readers the enormous life lessons we can learn from the lives of the saints.
So many, many different issues came up as a result of this quest. It proved to be a beautiful and intense growing experience. Although this book is not particularly long, the actual writing took as long as some of my much bigger books. Part of this was honing the story so their faith, and their history, was honored, but done from a foundation that reflected my own personal walk in faith.
My hope, my fervent prayer, is that the story will resonate with readers from both faith communities.
Q: The end of The Pilgrim leaves the reader wanting more. Will you revisit this story down the road?
I am working on a second book, The Fragment, which is scheduled for publication in the spring of 2016. The Fragment carries some of the concepts from The Pilgrim into the early twentieth century, when the U.S. came to possess a reliquary with a supposed component of Jesus’s cross. It ends in a vignette that happens today, when a couple travels to Rome.
Q: How can readers find you on the Internet?
Subscribe to Davis’s e-newsletter: Send a blank email to
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Friday, July 17, 2015

Day of Atonement by David A deSilva

In the blank pages between Malachi and Matthew, the course of an entire nation was changed . . . His brother, the high priest Honiah, enjoyed the authority of the high priesthood, and all important decisions needed his approval. But it was Jason who was shaping the future of Jerusalem and, with it, all Judea. He breathed in again, imagining that he could feel the wave of destiny impelling him forward toward his vision as he exhaled . . . The Greeks have taken over the world, but Jerusalem is still the same backwater city Jason has always known. He wants to help his hometown rise to a new age of prosperity and influence. If that means stretching the terms of the city's divine covenant, so be it. But how far is he willing to go to achieve Greek greatness for this Jewish city? It will take the willingness of a handful of Jews to die rather than violate the covenant in order to turn the tide back to God. Written by an internationally recognized expert in the period between the Testaments, Day of Atonement invites readers into Judea during the tumultuous years leading up to the Maccabean Revolt. It was this pivotal decade that reminded Jews of the centrality of the covenant to their national security and taught them that the covenant was worth dying for. The story is so foundational, it is still told every year at Hanukkah. The lessons learned during this turbulent time also shed light on just what was at stake in the ministry of Jesus, whose radical message seemed to threaten the covenant once again. Day of Atonement joins the perennially successful novels Pontius Pilate and The Flames of Rome by renowned historian Paul Maier on Kregel's premier list of captivating and historically accurate biblical novels.

My review:

  We don't know a lot about the period between the Old and New Testaments,  but it has always interested me the little bit that we know. Although fictional, this book fills in what that period of time might have been like based on what we do know from history.

  The book is easy to read, and the author has a great style. It comes through to the reader when an author has done a lot of research for a book, and such is the case with this book. Using some historical facts, he weaves a fascinating story with interesting characters that is hard to put down. I don't think I have ever read a book set during this time period, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it.

About the author:

David A. deSilva (PhD, Emory University) is Trustees’ Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Greek at Ashland Theological Seminary in Ashland, Ohio. His numerous books include Introducing the Apocrypha and An Introduction to the New Testament: Contexts, Methods, and Ministry Formation.

Day of Atonement is available from Kregel Publishing.

Thanks to Kregel for the review copy.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

jack Staples and the Ring of Time by Mark Batterson and Joel Clark

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Jack Staples and the Ring of Time
David C. Cook (September 1, 2014)
Mark Batterson and Joel Clark


Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church ( in Washington, DC. One church with seven locations. NCC is focused on reaching emerging generations and meets in theaters throughout the DC metro area. NCC also owns and operates the largest coffeehouse on Capitol Hill. Mark holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from Regent University and is the New York Times bestselling author of 11 books, including The Circle Maker, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, Wild Goose Chase and the two most recent, The Grave Robber and Jack Staples and the Ring of Time. Mark is married to Lora and they live on Capitol Hill with their three children: Parker, Summer, and Josiah.


Eleven-year-old Jack's ordinary life is upended when mysterious creatures attack his hometown and he is whisked into a fantastical adventure filled with danger at every turn.

Jack learns that most live in a shadow of the world, their vision blinded by invisible scales that have covered human eyes since the beginning of time. But the Awakened experience the world as it truly is, where war rages between good and evil—and Jack is at the heart of it. The Awakened are searching for The Child of Prophesy who will both save the world and destroy it. When Jack joins in their epic battle he must learn to trust his friends and face his fears if he is to make his life count.

If you'd like to read the first chapter of Jack Staples and the Ring of Time, go HERE.

My review:
  I started reading this, but it was too bizarre..... I do think kids would enjoy it though

Friday, July 10, 2015

Gone Without a Trace by Patricia Bradley

The past is repeating itself--and time is running out

It's been more than two years since homicide detective Livy Reynolds's cousin disappeared from Logan Point. Unlike most people in her hometown, Livy has never believed that Robyn left voluntarily. When Dallas private investigator Alex Jennings contacts her concerning a senator's missing granddaughter who was last seen in Logan Point, Livy notices eerie similarities between the two disappearances. With self-doubt plaguing her and an almost instant dislike of the self-assured PI, she's finding this investigation an uphill battle. But with the prospect of finding her cousin on the horizon, she'll have to find a way to work with Alex--before it's too late.

Award-winning author Patricia Bradley keeps you on the edge of your seat with a case--and a relationship--that is anything but certain.

My review:
   Patrica Bradley is still a new author to me. The only books I have read by her is this Logan Point Series, this being the third and final book of the series.

  Suspense/mystery is my favorite genre', and there is a lot of great books on the Christian market in that genre'. One of my favorite parts of a suspense/mystery novel is when there is a bad guy and I can't figure out who it is, and this book really kept me guessing as to who the kidnapper/killer was.

  Bradley brought back several characters from the first two books, which is something I like. There were also some new characters which only added to the already roster of liable characters. The suspense was top notch, and the romance angle not overdone or mushy. I had no trouble getting into the book and read past my bedtime because I couldn't put it down.

  The author can be proud of this latest effort of hers. It is a great conclusion to a great series, and is a standard to which other Christians suspense authors can look to.

About the author:

Patricia Bradley is the author of Shadows of the Past, A Promise to Protect, and Gone without a Trace. Bradley has been a finalist for the Genesis Award, winner of a Daphne du Maurier Award, and winner of a Touched by Love Award. Bradley is a published short story writer and cofounder of Aiming for Healthy Families, Inc. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America, and makes her home in Mississippi. Learn more at

Gone Without a Trace and the other two books in the Logan Point Series are available from Revell, which is part of the Baker Publishing Group.

Thanks to Revell for the review copy.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Last Con by Zachary Bartels


Former con man Fletcher Doyle is finally home after six years in the pen. He’s working a menial job, regaining his bearings in the world, and trying to revive his relationships with his wife and twelve-year-old daughter. No easy feat.

But when Fletcher and his family go on a mission trip to Detroit—in the company of the condescending church leader who also happens to be his landlord—Fletcher finds his old life waiting for him. Within hours of arriving in the city, he’s been blackmailed into doing a job for a mysterious criminal who calls himself The Alchemist.

A series of relics hidden by the Knights of Malta, as ancient as they are priceless, are in the sights of The Alchemist. What he needs is a gifted grifter with a background in ecclesiastical history . . . what he needs is Fletcher Doyle.

Between hiding his reawakened criminal life from his wife and trying to hide her from their relentless landlord, Fletcher is ready to give up. But when his family is drawn into the dangerous world he can’t shake, Fletcher is forced to rely on his years in the game to save the only people who mean more to him than the biggest con in history.

My review:

  I like books that integrate history into a modern day fictional tale. The author uses the Knights of Malta, which I had never heard of, as a basis for the plot of the book. Since I don't know anything about them, I don't know what was fictional and not, but it made for an interesting book.

  The story is all about conning. The author evidently did a lot of research on grifting and conning, and spun a great story around it. It is very suspenseful and very much a page-turner. Fletcher, the main character, is very liable. An ex-con who is forced into doing another con so he can protect his family, all the while lying to them so they don't know what he has done. The battle inside of him was interesting as he tried to decide of his conversion was real, or if it was a con he had even pulled on himself.

  The book is full of good and bad guys, and some people you can't tell if they are good or bad, and that made for a few surprises. There was one use of a word I don't believe belongs in a Christian novel, but it was clean other than that.

  I admire the author for his ingenuity in writing this novel. It has an elaborate and complicated plot, but not so much that I couldn't understand what was going on. It was a fascinating and interesting read, and was a book I did not want to put down. And it had a message that God is always there for us, even when we try to do things our own way.

About the author:

An award-winning preacher and Bible teacher, Zachary Bartels serves as senior pastor of Judson Memorial Baptist Church in Lansing, MI. He earned a BA in world religions from Cornerstone University and his Masters of Divinity from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. Zachary enjoys film, fine cigars, stimulating conversation, gourmet coffee, reading, writing, and cycling. He lives in Lansing, MI, with his wife Erin and their son. 

The Last Con is available from Thomas Nelson Publishing.

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for  the review copy.