Friday, February 26, 2016

Messed Up Men of the Bible by Dave and Tina Samples

From schlubby sitcom heroes to mommy blogs to online articles, there is a broad cultural perception that men constantly mess up and women must fight an uphill battle to fix them. Men are a burden, constant works-in-progress, pushed toward perfection but always falling short. This book asks a revolutionary question: What if these messed-up men are actually a mighty tool for God?

Tina and Dave Samples remind us that the Bible is filled with a cast of messed-up men--men who struggled and fell, and yet were used by God to accomplish His purposes. In fact, God has consistently chosen imperfect "clay pots" in which to place His light.

David was a poor father. Peter had problems with integrity. Moses had anger issues, Gideon struggled with fear, and Elijah suffered from depression--the list goes on. "Messed Up Men of the Bible" offers encounters with these ancient men who faced the same emotions and questions that contemporary men face, in order to reveal fresh spiritual insights and hope for modern relationships. Through personal stories, practical advice, and useful exercises, Tina and Dave provide encouragement and hope for women dealing with the messed-up men in their own lives.

My review:
  I did not realize this was a relationships type of book when I ordered it for review. I also didn't realize it was written for women..... I should have read more of the description.

  Even though the book was written for women to better understand the men in their lives, I still found it an interesting read. We often tend to put the men in the Bible on pedestals, when even the most devout had moments when they weren't devout.

  Each chapter is about a different man in the Bible. Tina and Dave both offer their thoughts, and there is also a box with ways to help in whatever area was discussed pertaining to the Bible character: i.e depression, being a leader, etc. At the end of each chapter is a section called "moving beyond the mess", with questions for discussion and study.

  The book is very well done with a lot of great insights and advice from both authors. It is definitely more for women, and I'd recommend it for that audience.

  Messed Up Men of the Bible is available from Kregel Publishing.

Thanks to Kregel for the review copy.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

#struggles, Following Jesus in a Selfie-Centered World by Craig Groeschel

We all love the benefits of technology and social media, but even with the incredible upsides, many of us suspect there are unintended negative consequences that are beyond our control. We’ve lost perspective, even perhaps ourselves.

In this timely and life-changing new book, New York Times bestselling author and pastor of Craig Groeschel encourages readers who are hungry to regain control over their lives and put Christ first again. He walks them through biblical values that all Christ followers know are essential, but are even more important for our maxed out, selfie-centered world. 

My review:
  This is a book that everyone who uses social media or cell phones should read. It made me think "ouch" many times throughout the book. In addition to addressing the time spent on our devices, he relates the dangers we face when we do use them. Pride, gossip, and more. He related a few incidents where people were hurt and in one case a marriage was destroyed because of someone posting something they shouldn't have on Facebook.

 Technology is a wonderful thing. I have found some great and godly uses for it, but there are also a lot of bad uses and dangers of using it.

 The author also presents a great case of how our technology can become idols to us and interfere with our relationship with God, our prayer life, and even our social life with other people. His approach in this book isn't a harsh one, but a thoughtful one, as he himself struggles in this area. I found the book convicting and helpful, and would recommend anyone read it who uses any of these devices.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for doing a review.

About the author:

Craig Groeschel (born December 2, 1967) is the founder and senior pastor of, a church with thirteen locations in six states. He is married with six children and lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, a suburb of Oklahoma City, where is based.

Groeschel was born in Houston, Texas and grew up in southern Oklahoma, attending Ardmore High School. He attended Oklahoma City University, a private university in Oklahoma City affiliated with the United Methodist Church, on an athletic scholarship, pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Marketing. Shortly thereafter, he met his wife Amy, and the two married in 1991. That same year, Groeschel entered the ministry as an associate pastor in the United Methodist Church. He attended Phillips Theological Seminary, which is affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and secured a Master of Divinity degree. He was an associate pastor at First United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City.

In 1996, Groeschel and a handful of people started Life Covenant Church in a two-car garage. Groeschel’s non-traditional style was successful and attendance of Life Covenant grew rapidly, eventually evolving into what is now the thirteen campuses in six states (including Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, Florida, Tennessee, and New York).

Craig was named the 5th most influential pastor in 2006 and was named America’s Most Innovative Church in 2006 and 2007.

#Struggles is available from Zondervan Publishing. Thanks to Book Look Bloggers for the review copy.

We Cannot Be Silent by R Albert Mohler, Jr.

Twenty years ago, not one nation on earth had legal same-sex marriage. Now, access to same-sex marriage is increasingly seen as a basic human right. In a matter of less than a generation, western cultures have experienced a moral revolution.

Dr. R. Albert Mohler examines how this transformation occurred, revealing the underlying cultural shifts behind this revolution: the acceptance of divorce culture, liberation of sex from reproduction, the prevalence of heterosexual cohabitation, the normalization of homosexuality, and the rise of the transgender movement. He then offers a deep look at how the Bible and Christian moral tradition provide a comprehensive understanding upon which Christians can build their personal lives, their marriages, church ministry, and cultural engagement.

Dr. Mohler helps Christians in their understanding of the underlying issues of this significant cultural shift and how to face the challenge of believing faithfully, living faithfully, and engaging the culture faithfully in light of this massive change.

My review:
  I wasn't sure what approach Mohler would take on this subject. Not all evangelicals can talk about homosexuality and same-sex marriage with the right attitudes, but I feel he did a pretty good job.

  One of the first chapters in the book is titled "It didn't start with same-sex marriage". He does a great job of showing our troubles started with cohabitation, divorce, and abortion. He does deal with the issue of homosexuality/same-sex attractions in a reasonable and compassionate way that shows he put a lot of thought and prayer into the book.

  At the heart of the book is the dangers we face with our religious freedoms in the face of the ever growing gay rights. He doesn't use scare tactics, but does present a great case for the need to wake up and stand up against the immoral tide that is sweeping our country, and not just related to gay issues.

 The book ends with a question and answer section that covers a lot of material, and is for the most part well done. I found the book interesting, informative, and very well done.

 I was provided a copy of this book for review purposes.

 About the author:

Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.

Dr. Mohler has been recognized by such influential publications as Time and Christianity Today as a leader among American evangelicals. In fact, called him the “reigning intellectual of the evangelical movement in the U.S.”

In addition to his presidential duties, Dr. Mohler hosts two programs: “The Briefing,” a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview; and “Thinking in Public,” a series of conversations with the day’s leading thinkers. He also writes a popular blog and a regular commentary on moral, cultural and theological issues. All of these can be accessed through Dr. Mohler’s website, Called “an articulate voice for conservative Christianity at large” by The Chicago Tribune, Dr. Mohler’s mission is to address contemporary issues from a consistent and explicit Christian worldview.

  We Cannot Be Silent is available from Thomas Nelson Publishing.

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for the review copy.

The Body Under the Bridge by Paul McCusker

A former Scotland Yard detective, Father Gilbert knows about death. But, now a priest of a modest Anglican church in the small town of Hailsham, he didn't expect it to show up like this--in the suicide of a man who threw himself off the church tower, and in the discovery of a two-hundred-year-old body beneath an ancient bridge.

The deaths are linked. The mummified corpse under the bridge, a murder victim, reignites a centuries-old battle between two local families--the Todds and the aristocratic Hayshams. Then both David Todd and Lord Haysham begin to act strangely, fearful for reasons they won’t explain.

When Lord Haysham is murdered, David Todd is the prime suspect. But Todd is maniacal, claiming great forces of evil are at work. An entire history of violence and depravity begins to emerge, interweaving the history of several local families with a secret occult society that engages in Black Masses. Has the Society emerged again?

My review:
   I bought the dramatized Father Gilbert Mysteries on CD that Focus on the Family did some years back, and have thoroughly enjoyed them. When I saw that there was a Father Gilbert mystery coming out in book form, I looked forward to reading it.

   This book is not for the faint of heart. There is a lot of suspense and mystery, a lot of bodies, talk of curses, demon possession, Satanist groups, secret groups, and more. McCusker blends all of these elements together to make a great suspense/mystery novel that kept me engrossed until the very end.

   Often when I am reading a book such as this, I can figure out who the bad guys are, but this book was written in such a way and had such so many twists and turns, that I didn't know for sure who was guilty, nor what was coming next. The book had more surprises in it than I had been anticipating, and made the book all the more enjoyable.

  Father Gilbert came off as likable in the book as on the CDs, and there were some other great characters thrown into the mix to add more flavor and drama to the story.

  The idea of a priest that helps solve crimes is a novel one, but it works for the CDs and now for this book. This was a great read, and I highly recommend it to mystery and suspense readers.

About the author:

  Paul McCusker is the creative content director for Focus on the Family. He has been a writer of fiction, nonfiction, and drama since 1979. His work includes over forty published novels, full-length plays, dramatic sketch collections, and song lyrics. For the Adventures in Odyssey series alone, he has written over 200 half-hour radio episodes, eighteen novels, and two screenplays for the best-selling animated videos. He has dramatized many classics for Focus on the Family Radio Theatre, including A Christmas Carol and Jan Karon's At Home in Mitford. He also wrote and directed the Peabody Award–winning Bonhoeffer: The Cost of Freedom and created the highly acclaimed Father Gilbert Mysteries series. Paul lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with his wife, Elizabeth, and their two children.

Check out his website:

The Body Under the Bridge is available from Lion Publishing, part of the Kregel Publishing family.

Thanks to Kregel for the review copy.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

If I Run by Terri Blackstock, with a giveaway

Casey knows the truth.

But it won’t set her free.

Casey Cox’s DNA is all over the crime scene. There’s no use talking to police; they have failed her abysmally before. She has to flee before she’s arrested . . . or worse. The truth doesn’t matter anymore.

But what is the truth? That’s the question haunting Dylan Roberts, the war-weary veteran hired to find Casey. PTSD has marked him damaged goods, but bringing Casey back can redeem him. Though the crime scene seems to tell the whole story, details of the murder aren’t adding up. Casey Cox doesn’t fit the profile of a killer. But are Dylan’s skewed perceptions keeping him from being objective? If she isn’t guilty, why did she run?

Unraveling her past and the evidence that condemns her will take more time than he has, but as Dylan’s damaged soul intersects with hers, he is faced with two choices. The girl who occupies his every thought is a psychopathic killer . . . or a selfless hero. And the truth could be the most deadly weapon yet.

My review:
  I always think of Terri Blackstock as a pioneer in the Christian mystery/suspense genre'. I think there were a few choices in that genre' before she came along, but her first suspense novel on the Christian market was the first Christian suspense novel I bought. I devoured it, excited that my favorite genre' was being written as a Christian novel.

  That has been many years ago now, and I have read everything she has written. This newest novel shows she is still going strong and has not gotten weak or repetitive in her writing as many authors have.

  If I Run is different from most of her novels. As far as I can remember, all or most of her books have been written in the third person point of view. This book is written in the first point of view, bouncing back and forth between the two main characters. That would be my only complaint about the book. I am not a fan of that writing style, and though she pulls it off well; I think the book could have been even better written in her normal writing point of view.

  I did like the two main characters, a woman running from a murder she didn't commit and a former military guy with PSTD trying to find her. There were several twists and turns that showed there was more to the story and murder than indicated at first. I enjoyed the book a lot, and found it an easy and quick read. I was a bit disappointed it didn't really end, but it did leave me looking forward to the next book in the trilogy.

About the author:

Terri Blackstock is a New York Times best-seller, with over six million copies sold worldwide. She is the winner of two Carol Awards, a Christian Retailers Choice Award, and a Romantic Times Book Reviews Career Achievement Award, among others. She has had over twenty-five years of success as a novelist.

Terri spent the first twelve years of her life traveling in a U.S. Air Force family. She lived in nine states and attended the first four years of school in The Netherlands. Because she was a perpetual “new kid,” her imagination became her closest friend. That, she believes, was the biggest factor in her becoming a novelist. She sold her first novel at the age of twenty-five, and has had a successful career ever since.

Recent books include Truth Stained Lies (Book 1 of her Moonlighters Series), and her acclaimed Intervention Series (Intervention, Vicious Cycle, and Downfall). Other recent favorites include Predator, Double Minds, the Restoration Series, the Newpointe 911 Series, the Cape Refuge Series, and the SunCoast Chronicles series.

In 1994 Terri was writing romance novels under two pseudonyms for publishers such as HarperCollins, Harlequin, Dell and Silhouette, when a spiritual awakening prompted her to switch gears. At the time, she was reading more suspense than romance, and felt drawn to write thrillers about ordinary people in grave danger. Her newly awakened faith wove its way into the tapestry of her suspense novels, offering hope instead of despair. Her goal is to entertain with page-turning plots, while challenging her readers to think and grow. She hopes to remind them that they’re valued by God and that their trials have a purpose.

Casey Cox doesn’t fit the profile of a killer . . . but her DNA is all over the crime scene, and she's now a fugitive. Don't miss Terri Blackstock's next page-turner, If I Run. Unraveling her past and the evidence that condemns her will take more time than Dylan has, the war-weary veteran hired to find Casey. But as Dylan’s damaged soul intersects with hers, he is faced with two choices. The girl who occupies his every thought is a psychopathic killer . . . or a selfless hero. And the truth could be the most deadly weapon yet.

Join Terri in celebrating her new book with a Fitbit giveaway and a special $4.99 digital pre-order deal!

if i run-400 

One grand prize winner will receive:
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry! The giveaway ends on February 16th. The winner will be announced February 17th on the Litfuse blog.

Plus don't miss out on the special $4.99 digital pre-order pricing, now through February 15. Pre-order the book through your favorite e-book retailer; details here.

if i run - enterbanner

Monday, February 8, 2016

Captured by Moonlight by Christine Lindsay

Prisoners to their own broken dreams…

After a daring rescue goes awry, Laine Harkness and her friend Eshana flee to the tropical south of India…and headlong into their respective pasts. 

Laine takes a nursing position at a plantation in the jungle, only to discover that her former fiancĂ© is the owner…but fun-loving Laine refuses to let Adam crush her heart like he had years ago. 

Eshana, captured by her traditional uncle and forced once more into the harsh Hindu customs of mourning, doubts freedom will ever be hers again, much less the forbidden love that had begun to flower. 

Amid cyclones, epidemics, and clashing faiths, will the love of the True Master give hope to these searching hearts?

My review:
   This is the second book in the Twilight of  the British Raj Trilogy. When the author asked me to review these books, she said even though they look like women's books; she has a lot of male readers. And though I rarely read a romance novel, I am very much enjoying this series.

  Book two picks up the story of Laine, an English nurse living in India. She ends up in the middle of nowhere helping out at a clinic where they try to treat people of all levels of India. I learned a lot about the caste system and some other of India's beliefs and tightly held traditions such as child brides and what even child widows have to go through if their husband died.

 Major portions of the book revolve around a cholera outbreak, and it was interesting to read how they dealt with it and treated it during that time period and in a location where the facilities were less than ideal.

  The differences between the Hindu and Christian religions are shown in the book, and it was of interest to me to see what a Hindu converting to religion might have to go through if they took that step.

  Captured by Moonlight is full of drama, romance, intrigue, and even some suspense. I enjoyed this read as much as the first, and found myself alternating between cheering for the hero and heroine and wanting to smack them alongside of the head.... and this from a non-romance guy. The book came to a satisfying conclusion, and Christine can be proud of  this second book. It was definitely worth reading, and I am looking forward to reading book 3.

  About the author:

Christine Lindsay writes historical inspirational novels with strong love stories, and she takes pride in her Irish roots. Her great grandfather and grandfather worked as riveters in the Belfast shipyard, one of those ships her ancestors helped build was the Titanic. 

Stories of ancestors who served in the British Cavalry in India that seeded Christine’s long-time fascination with the British Raj and became the stimulus for her multi-award-winning series Twilight of the British Raj. 

Some of those awards are:

Winner of 2009 ACFW Genesis
Winner of 2011 Grace Award
Finalist for 2012 Readers' Favorite

Finalist for 2013 Readers' Favorite
Finalist for 2013 Grace Award
Finalist for 2014 The Word Guild Award

The Pacific coast of Canada, about 200 miles north of Seattle, is Christine’s home where she lives with her husband, Like a lot of authors, Christine’s chief editor is her cat.

Check out her website at

Thanks to Christine for the review copy.

Tough As They Come by SSG Travos Mills

Thousands have been wounded in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Five have survived quadruple amputee injuries. This is one soldier's story. 

Thousands of soldiers die year to defend their country. United States Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills was sure that he would become another statistic when, during his third tour of duty in Afghanistan, he was caught in an IED blast four days before his twenty-fifth birthday. Against the odds, he lived, but at a severe cost—Travis became one of only five soldiers from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to survive a quadruple amputation. 

Suddenly forced to reconcile with the fact that he no longer had arms or legs, Travis was faced with a future drastically different from the one he had imagined for himself. He would never again be able to lead his squad, stroke his fingers against his wife’s cheek, or pick up his infant daughter. 

Travis struggled through the painful and anxious days of rehabilitation so that he could regain the strength to live his life to the fullest.  With enormous willpower and endurance, the unconditional love of his family, and a generous amount of faith, Travis shocked everyone with his remarkable recovery. Even without limbs, he still swims, dances with his wife, rides mountain bikes, and drives his daughter to school.  

Travis inspires thousands every day with his remarkable journey. He doesn’t want to be thought of as wounded.  “I'm just a man with scars,” he says, “living life to the fullest and best I know how.”

My review:

  I had never heard of Travis Mills until someone shared a video of him on Facebook. I watched it and was amazed at the attitude he had. The very next day, I got an email offering his book for review; so I grabbed it.

  Travis' story is an amazing story. He is one of a very few vets who have survived losing all of his limbs. He pulls no punches in telling how he felt upon waking up and finding out the devastating news, and of his successful struggles to get through rehab faster than they said it would happen.

  His tales of what he went through learning to walk, drive, and do tasks that we take for granted are not just inspiring, but bring up a thankfulness in me for our soldiers and what they face, go through, and give up to fight for our freedoms and go where our country tells them to go.

 I found tears in my eyes at different times in the book. Though this is an encouraging and inspiring book, it is an emotional one. Travis has a great outlook and sense of humor, and it comes through loud and clear in this book. I highly recommend it.

About the author:

Retired U.S. Army staff sergeant TRAVIS MILLS of the 82nd Airborne is a wounded warrior, motivational speaker, and international advocate for veterans and amputees. He is one of only five servicemen from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ever to survive his injuries as a quadruple amputee. He started the Travis Mills Foundation, which benefits and assists wounded and injured veterans.

Tough As They Come is available from Convergent books, part of the Penguin Random House Publishing Group.

Thanks to PRH for the review copy.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Ashes to Ashes by Mel Starr

Master Hugh, Kate, and their children attend the Midsummer’s Eve fire. The next morning Hugh hears the passing bell ring from the Church of St. Beornwald, and moments later is summoned. Tenants collecting the ashes to spread upon their fields have found burned bones.

Master Hugh learns of several men of Bampton and nearby villages who have gone missing recently. Most are soon found, some alive, some dead. Master Hugh eventually learns that the bones are those of a bailiff from a nearby manor. Someone has slain him and placed his body in the fire to destroy evidence of murder.

Bailiffs are not popular men; they dictate labor service, collect rents, and enforce other obligations. Has this bailiff died at the hand of some angry tenant? Hugh soon discovers this is not the case. There is quite another reason for murder . . .

My review:
  This is the eighth book in this series, and I have read all eight and reviewed seven of them. They are Christian suspense/mystery, but not at all like what I normally read. These books are set in the 1300's in medieval times. The series has been a very enjoyable read, and I have always looked forward to a new book coming out in the series.

  This is the best book so far. There was a lot more suspense and mystery than the others in the series, though they had their share. Part of the mystery in this one was finding out who a body was before settling the mystery of who killed the person.

 The series is centered on Hugh de Singleton, a young doctor who does double duty as a surgeon. As with the other books, I was intrigued and amazed at the methods of detecting one would use in those days, and also the methods a doctor would use. Ashes to Ashes required more detecting than the other books, and was more of a page turner. A couple of kidnappings thrown in made the book all the more a great suspense novel.

  There were more people to keep track of in this story, but the author did a great job of making it easy to keep up with who was who. I also appreciated the glossary in the front to explain many words that are not used anymore.

 I thoroughly enjoyed this visit to the 1300's England, and the solving of the murder in the story. I highly recommend and look forward to the next book.

About the author:

   Mel Starr was born and grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He graduated from Spring Arbor High School in 1960, and Greenville College (Illinois) in 1964. He received a MA in history from Western Michigan University in 1970. He taught history in Michigan public schools for thirty-nine years, thirty-five of those in Portage, MI, where he retired in 2003 as chairman of the social studies department of Portage Northern High School.

Mel married Susan Brock in 1965, and they have two daughters; Amy (Kevin) Kwilinski, of Kennesaw, GA, and Jennifer (Jeremy) Reivitt, of Portage, MI. Mel and Susan have seven grandchildren.

Ashes to Ashes is available from Lion Publishing, an imprint of Kregel Publishing.

Thanks to Kregel for the review copy.