Sunday, July 31, 2011

Book Review: Cash Burn by Michael Berrier



Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication date: June 24, 2011

Jason Dunn is tired of hiding behind a facade of appearing to have a perfect marriage, trouble-free past, and a seemingly successful job with a banking office. When his marriage seems over and his job at risk, he allows a desire for revenge for perceived betrayals to begin to take over his life. A passionate affair and a plot to bilk the bank of millions results in shocking outcomes to his choices.

Debut novel Cash Burn is extremely well-written, with a fast moving plot and scenes that crackle with tension. The character's emotions were so raw and real I wanted to pray for them to make the right choices. A warning, however, is due - there is no happy ending to Cash Burn. The author expertly proves the Bible verse that "the wages of sin is death" as Jason's life spirals out of control. And there-in lies my only criticism of the story - I'm a sucker for a happy ending, for a glimpse of redemption. The author leaves you hoping that Jason will make the right choice in the end (at least spiritually), but we'll never know for sure. Overall, the book deserves a solid recommendation for a surprisingly well-written thriller that will make you question your choices and the consequences that may follow. 4 out of 5 stars.

This review is based on an electronic copy provided by the publisher via Netgalley for the purpose of completing this review.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Book Review: Havah by Tosca Lee




Publisher: B & H Publishing Group

Publication Date: August 1, 2010 (2nd Edition)


Told from the perspective of Eve, Havah is the creation story of Adam and Eve, their beginning in the garden of Eden, and their destructive choice to disobey God and the fallout from that moment in being cast from the garden. Havah, Adam's chosen name for Eve, struggles along with Adam to begin a new life outside of the garden where they now have to deal with death and disease. In the midst of their trials, Havah seeks to remain focused on God and his plan to bring reconciliation.

Tosca Lee has taken the story of Adam and Eve and given it a fresh voice with startling insights. I challenge anyone to read this book and come away unchanged. The writing is exquisite, the characters passionate and vividly portrayed. Regardless of whether you agree with her rendering of this well-known story, you will be challenged to consider what it was like for Adam and Eve to be the first inhabitants of the earth and to experience perfection, followed by the Fall and it's consequences. Havah is beautifully written and I give this book the highest recommendation of 5 out of 5 stars.

This review is based on an electronic copy provided by the publisher via Netgalley for the purpose of completing this review.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Book Review: River's Song by Melody Carlson



River's Song (The Inn at Shining Waters Series) by Melody Carlson
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Publication Date: July 2011

For the first time in many years, Anna Gunderson returns to her childhood home on the banks of the Siuslaw River, to attend her mother's funeral. A planned temporary stay turns into a permanent decision to start a new chapter of her life by remodeling her parent's home into an Inn. Her move back to the River results in strained relationships with her daughter and mother-in-law, but also results in a promising relationship with building contractor Clark Richards. Anna works to create a place of healing, not only for future guests, but for herself and her family as well.

I greatly enjoyed this gently flowing story, and plan to read future additions to the series. Melody Carlson has created compelling characters who have real hurts and struggles and yet who discover the power to overcome and forgive past wrongs. Carlson expertly wove in some of the history of the Native American people, and provided powerful insight into how their past experiences so traumatically impacted them. I did find some of Anna's jumps from present time to past remembrances to be a bit abrupt, taking away from the flow of the story. However, Carlson has succeeded in weaving a rich tale that will surely appeal to readers of contemporary dramas. A solid recommendation, I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

This review is based on an electronic copy provided by the publisher via Netgalley for the purpose of completing this review.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Book Review: Indelible by Kristen Heitzmann




Publisher: Waterbrook Press
Publication Date: May 3, 2011

After having to step-down from his career as an Olympic athlete, Trevor MacDaniel now volunteers with search and rescue in the mountain community of Redford. A heroic rescue of a toddler from a mountain lion leads him into a new relationship with uniquely gifted sculptress Natalie Reeve, and attracts the attention of a broken and dangerous soul who's actions place the whole community at risk. Trevor is tested in ways he never imagined as he and police authorities seek to overcome the unseen and unknown assailant.

Indelible is a grand achievement. Much like the art that is thematically woven into the plot, the story unfolds layer by layer from it's gripping opening scene to the supremely executed conclusion. The characters became so real to me that they are chiseled upon my mind. Natalie's unique ability was captivating to read about, while Trevor was both human and inspiring. Each additional character had their own quirks that made them worthy to spend time with, and I enjoyed revisiting some characters from the connected novel Indivisible. The elements of romance were handled deftly and with great realism, unlike so many other novels where the romance becomes over the top. I also appreciated that the spiritual elements are woven into the story in a manner that entices the reader to explore God further.

Overall, I found the story to be highly entertaining, with well-plotted suspense and beautifully developed characters. Indelible deserves a high recommendation of 5 out of 5 stars. Read this book!

I received this ebook free from the publisher through the Blogging for Books book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Book Review: Life Everlasting by Robert Whitlow



Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Re-publication date: August 2, 2011

In this sequel to Life Support, Baxter Richardson's future continues to hang in the balance following a fall off of a cliff that left him at death's door. His wife, Rena, keeps changing her story regarding exactly how his fall occurred, and also finds herself under suspicion in the death of a police officer. Rena's lawyer, Alex Lindale, must endeavor to figure out what the truth really is. In the midst of the legal drama, Alex and church music minister Ted Morgan explore the connection between worship, prayer, and miracles, while testing the future of their own relationship.

Life Everlasting was a satisfying conclusion to the Santee Series, providing an enjoyable read while neatly resolving the numerous mystery aspects introduced in book one. Whitlow threw in some nice twists, and I found the characters to be absorbing and realistically portrayed. Rena's descent into madness was chilling, and provided a perfect contrast to Alex's own stability and competency. The character I found the most intriguing was Ted, whose intimacy with God shone through. Although I found some of the scenes to be a tad slow in nature, those who enjoy reading legal dramas with spiritual overtures will greatly enjoy Life Support. A solid recommendation, I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 

New set of free christian fiction ebooks!

Just in case you aren't yet aware, a whole bunch of new christian fiction ebooks were posted today on Amazon.com, Christianbook.com, and Barnesandnoble.com. I haven't read them all yet, but I encourage you to download them while you have the chance, to read immediately or save for a rainy day!





And the following book is currently free on Christianbook.com and barnesandnoble.com, but should be free on Amazon.com by tomorrow:




Enjoy :)



Saturday, July 23, 2011

Book Review: The Ambition by Lee Strobel



Publisher: Zondervan
Publication Date: May 17, 2011

An aspiring pastor of a mega-church and a corrupt judge become the top two contenders for a U.S. Senate seat that is about to be vacated. Behind the scenes, a gambling-addicted lawyer, powerful members of the Mob, and a desperate journalist looking for his next big story, get embroiled in this show-down for the Senate Seat. Murder and political intrigue abound in Lee Strobel's debut fiction novel.

The Ambition provided a fast-paced read that will appeal to readers of action-packed thrillers. Despite the numerous different characters and sub-plot lines, the novel drew me in early and kept my attention throughout.. Strobel succeeded in building suspense and throwing in some unexpected twists. I did feel that because there were so many key characters involved, they were not as well-developed as they could have been. However, I was impressed that the story not only entertained, but also caused me to think deeply about issues of faith, our priorities in life, the impact of prayer, and the promise of miracles. I would definitely recommend this book to others, and give it a rating of 4 out of 5 stars.

This review is based on an electronic copy provided by the publisher via Netgalley for the purpose of completing this review.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Beautifully told: My review of "Dry as Rain" by Gina Holmes

Dry As Rain



Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication Date: September 1, 2011

Eric wakes up in bed with a woman who is not his wife, and realizes that what he’d been lusting after was not what he wanted after all. When his wife is in a car accident and her temporary memory loss makes her forget their separation, he seizes on the opportunity for second chances. His effort to renew their marriage comes head-to-head with the truth of his betrayal and the question of whether they can gain back what has been lost. 
Gina Holmes has done it again, and penned a beautifully told, poignant story of grace and forgiveness. Dry as Rain brought tears to my eyes, the second time this author has had such an impact on me. When I began reading the story and realized it was told from a first-person, male perspective, though written by a female, I had a moment where I wondered how accurate of a portrayal the character would be. Fortunately, I kept reading and found the novel was so much more than I was expecting. I will admit the writing wasn’t perfect in that some parts of the story felt a bit abrupt. However, the overall story and the powerful conclusion were so satisfying that I cannot help but fully recommend the book. The moment that resonated most for me was when Eric finally comes to realize his need to truly be remorseful and take ownership for his mistakes, and his discovery that it was that moment that brought his real freedom. I am so fortunate to have a wife who is faithful and to have been blessed with such an amazing marriage. This novel reminds me not to take it for granted, ever.
Dry as Rain is highly recommended and a clear 5 of 5 stars. I am highly anticipating future works from this talented author.
This review is based on an electronic copy provided by the publisher via netgalley for the purpose of completing this review.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Book Review: Heart of Ice by Lis Wiehl with April Henry



Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: April 5, 2011


In this third Triple Threat novel, FBI special agent Nicole Hedges, federal prosecutor Allison Pierce, and TV crime reporter Cassidy Shaw return to again join forces to fight crime. While seeking to uncover evidence to successfully prosecute an unlikely murderer,  the trio also gets caught up in a case of arson and the disappearance of a rival co-worker of Cassidy’s. Unbeknownst to the group, a female sociopath ensnares Cassidy, Nicole, and Allison into her schemes, placing the women and their families at risk in an ever-escalating game where she will do whatever it takes to get her way.
Heart of Ice was an engaging, highly enjoyable read. Although the suspense was not of the sort where the reader is trying to figure out who the perpetrators are, I enjoyed watching the characters unravel the truth. The authors exceeded at creating drama in that you are rooting for the heroines to figure out who the sociopath is, before it is too late. Numerous subplot lines are deftly handled, and the daily struggles the characters deal with worked effectively to create well-rounded characters. Some of the conversations regarding the character’s faith journeys did appear somewhat rushed and thrown into the plot, but I did not find that this took away from my enjoyment of the novel. Fans of crime thrillers will definitely enjoy Heart of Ice. I give it a solid recommendation of 4 out of 5 stars.
This review is based on an electronic copy provided by the publisher via netgalley for the purpose of completing this review.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Book Review: The Edge of Grace by Christa Allan



Publisher: Abingdon Press
Publication Date: August 1, 2011


Already trying to juggle being a single parent with paying the bills and building up her catering business, Caryn Becker's world is further sent off-kilter after her brother David phones to tell her he is gay. Not knowing how to cope with this news, Caryn chooses to avoid her brother and the close relationship they once had. A sudden phone call reporting her brother was the victim of a hate crime and severely injured propels her back into his life, and forces her to confront her own beliefs and make some difficult choices.

Christa Allen has created a novel that will leave you thinking for days afterwards. Her characters are interesting and realistic, and put a human face on an issue that many are struggling with in the church today - can you be gay and be a Christian? The first few chapters immediately gripped my interest with the drama that was unfolding. Unfortunately, I found the middle of the book to be somewhat slow and plodding, and it wasn't until her brother was attacked that I found the story picked up again in pace, and then held my interest until the end.

Christian readers will appreciate Allen's sensitive handling of the subject matter, and consider for themselves the balance between love and grace and God's truth. Regardless of one's view of homosexuality, this novel is a recommended read to spark thoughtful discussion as we consider our own response to those who identify as David does. A solid recommendation of 4 out of 5 stars.

This review is based on an electronic copy provided by the publisher via netgalley for the purpose of completing this review.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Life Support by Robert Whitlow




While hiking in the mountains, Baxter Richardson falls off a cliff, and his life is soon hanging by a thread with medical life support the only thing keeping him alive. A battle soon ensues between his wife and his father about whether he should be taken off the life support, and each has their own motivation to see their wishes played out. Attorney Alexia Lindale is brought into the mix and has to sort out the facts for herself, to fight for the truth in a case where everything is not as it seems.

Life Support was a highly enjoyable read, and will definitely hook any reader who enjoys legal thrillers. I first read this novel when it came out in 2003, and I am glad the publisher has chosen to re-release this well-written book as I loved it just as much the second time around. The book is difficult to put down, and provides a fascinating glimpse into the character’s lives. Alex's spiritual journey is well-developed and believable, and Whitlow often portrays his character's interaction with the spiritual realm in a manner I find riveting. I give this book a solid recommendation of 4 out of 5 stars.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 



Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: Reprint edition (August 2, 2011)

Book Review: The Canary List by Sigmund Brouwer



The Canary List by Sigmund Brouwer
Publisher: Waterbrook Multnomah
Publication Date: June 21, 2011

Twelve-year-old Jamie Piper can sense evil, and her race to safety brings that evil to the door of teacher Crockett Grey. Within hours, he has lost his reputation and is about to lose what he loves most... his relationship with his son. Tempted to give up, he instead chooses to fight against the darkness, a choice that leads him to discover haunting secrets and places him in the middle of a battle with far reaching implications, a battle for control of the Vatican.

I continue to be amazed at the different works that have been penned by Sigmund Brouwer. Every so often, I will be a few pages into a book and I'll stop and think to myself, “this is going to be a good book”; several of Brouwer's novels have been books such as these, and The Canary List was definitely one of them. The book was impossible to put down, the scenes vivid and chilling, a completely captivating read. I found the plot both believable and fantastical, such that I will look at the Catholic church through new eyes and wonder what if this were true? Brouwer has expertly blended faith and science in tackling questions about demons and the reality of their existence, and the result is a fascinating read.

A splendid novel that will haunt my thoughts for days to come, I cannot recommend this book higher. 5 of 5 stars.

This review is based on an electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of completing this review.

Download the first chapter for free at the following link:

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Book Review: Sweet Sanctuary by Sheila Walsh & Cindy Martinusen Coloma




Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: August 9, 2011

During summer vacation when Wren was a child, an unexpected tragedy forever alters her relationship with her family. Years later, Wren's grandmother Ruth determines to bring the family together in the hope that the past can be overcome. In the process, Wren learns to forgive and be forgiven, and she begins to break down the walls that have protected her heart, finding new love and the courage to sing again.

Wren's story is beautifully written, gently drawing the reader through her past hurts and disappointments and towards a satisfying conclusion. I did find some parts of the story slow to develop and somewhat predictable, but those readers who appreciate a contemporary novel told at an unhurried pace will enjoy Sweet Sanctuary. The plot managed to keep my interest, and the elements of faith in the story were deftly handled. I found my own Christian walk challenged when Wren was reflecting on how fully she'd allowed God to receive her and realizes “she thought she'd given her life to Him, but it was like jumping into a pool and clinging tightly to the side”. How often this seems true of all of us who are pressing onward to the prize. This novel is a solid recommendation. 4 of 5 stars.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes via Booksneeze and netgalley.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Book Review: Nick of Time by Tim Downs



Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: May 17, 2011

To the shock of all who know him, Nick Polchak, Bug Man extraordinaire, is getting married. But before the big day arrives, a discovery of a dead body threatens to interrupt his plans. His fianc√©, Alena, soon finds herself questioning his whereabouts, and her efforts to track him down lead her right into the path of danger. All is not as it seems, and Nick’s quest to uncover the truth will also require Nick to search his heart for what really matters.
Something I appreciate about Tim Down’s novels is that they consistently make me laugh. His mix of humour, fascinating characters, and suspense usually make for an enjoyable read. The bug man novels really are like no other. Unfortunately, this book did not live up to my expectations created by earlier Bug Man novels. I love to be surprised when reading a book like this, and the twist Downs throws into the story certainly does that, but in this case I felt cheated. The mystery that Nick was racing to solve turned out to be something entirely different, and just did not feel plausible to me. I was also a little disappointed with the way the characters so casually engaged in white-lies with no sense of the damage such lies can do. I should note that I still did find the story highly entertaining, humorous, and difficult to put down. I am greatly looking forward to the next Bug Man novel because I have so enjoyed the earlier ones in this series, but I do hope it will live up to his earlier works. 3 of 5 stars.

I was provided with a galley of this novel from the publisher via netgalley.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Book Review: Water's Edge by Robert Whitlow



Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: July 19, 2011



Beneath the charming facade of small-town Bethel lies corruption, betrayal, and murder. Tom returns to Bethel after having lost all that he thought was important to him. Expecting to simply shut down his father's legal practice before moving back to the big city to pursue his dream of becoming partner in a law firm, Tom instead begins to realize that all is not as it seems. What he discovers challenges everything he's always believed...and threatens his very life.

Robert Whitlow has woven a tale of action-packed drama with well-developed characters and a mystery that keeps the pages turning. Just when I would think I'd figured everything out, another twist would be revealed that changed everything. The novel was skillfully written, providing an enjoyable read that lived up to his reputation as being a master of legal suspense. I greatly enjoyed the quirkiness of Uncle Elias, who's intimate walk with God challenged me to pursue a similar life of prayer. Tom's own journey of faith found me both agonizing and rejoicing along with him as he wrestled with difficult decisions and sought to find his purpose in life. For myself, I will walk away thinking about Tom's words stated in the epilogue: “I'm learning that God placed me in this world, not so other people can serve me, but so I can serve them. Only when we focus our attention on others can we become who we're intended to be ourselves.” An admirable challenge indeed. Highly Recommended. 5 of 5 stars.


The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book through BookSneeze® and netgalley.
http://www.thomasnelson.com/consumer/product_detail.asp?sku=9781595544513

Free ebook: Veiled Freedom by Jeanette Windle



Veiled Freedom, written by Jeanette Windle, is currently available as a free ebook on Amazon.com and Christianbook.com. While I will not do a full review here, I can state that I have read this fantastic book and it is well worth the read - and who can argue with the price? I highly recommend downloading this book while you can, especially if you've never had the pleasure of reading a book by Windle in the past. You will not be disappointed!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Book Review: Over the Edge by Brandilyn Collins



B&H Publishing
Publication Date: May 1, 2011


A man unable to escape his bitter past conspires to subject medical researcher Dr. Brock McNeil and his family to the same torment he experienced - the reality of chronic Lyme Disease. Jannie McNeil becomes collateral damage of the Lyme Wars as the disease ravages her body and her mind, all while the chaos in her marriage to Brock likewise threatens to rip her world apart. Jannie's race to uncover the truth while trying to hold onto her sanity will leave you breathless.

Over the Edge gripped me from page one, from the chilling madman bent on making others suffer, to the haunting portrayal of Jannie's sudden decline from Lyme. As with all of Brandilyn's novels, the dialogue was crisp, the scenes were vivid, and I found my emotions swept up in the character's lives. Not only was the story highly entertaining, but I learned about a frightening disease I previously knew nothing about. I pray I don't cross paths with a tick any time soon. This book will stay on my mind for some time, not only as I empathize for those struggling with Lyme Disease, but as I also ponder my own faith and whether I will cling to God as Jannie did, praising him during the good times, and also should my own world fall apart. Highly Recommended. 5 of 5 stars.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Book Review: The Guardian by Robbie Cheuvront and Erik Reed



Barbour Publishing
Publication Date: September 1, 2011

Anna Riley is living life in the moment, unaware of the forces at work in the world around her and that her life holds a greater purpose than she ever could have imagined. She suddenly learns of an ancient secret, that she is a descendent to John the Disciple and has been chosen to be guardian of a two thousand year old scroll. Anna is soon thrust into a dangerous race around the world as she seeks to uncover the secrets of the scroll before the forces of evil at work in the Vatican can find the scroll and it's secrets for themselves.

I have to admit that I began this book with great anticipation, expecting a work in the manner of The Da Vinci Code. While mystery and suspense do abound, I found the plot got bogged down in overly long or unrealistic dialogue that detracted from the story. At some points there was too much “telling” about a scene via dialogue, and not enough action. Also, when Anna chooses to walk away from her former life, including her relationship with her parents, it was hard to believe she would do so without a greater sense of loss than is allowed for in the story. There is no hint that she was mistreated or that there was any reason she would not have at least some sense of attachment to her parents that she would grieve. However, despite these issues the plot itself was enjoyable and the race to different exotic locations kept my interest. I will walk away pondering my own greater purpose in life and what adventures God has in mind for me. The book is easy to read, and I would mildly recommend The Guardian for those simply looking for a fun adventure that will entertain. 3 of 5 stars.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Free Christian Ebooks

One of the things that I appreciate since the rise of ebooks has occurred is that Christian publishers are now providing free ebooks on a rotating basis to gain new readers, introduce new authors...and create obsessive compulsive behaviours in readers like me! On an almost daily basis, I race to Amazon or Christianbook.com to see if there is a new offering.

I decided to share my OCD tendancies on my blog by providing regular updates about newly released free Christian fiction ebooks.

The following books became free yesterday on Christianbook.com and on Amazon:



The following books are currently only (newly) free on CBD.com:





So there you have it! Free books abound. And if you HAVEN'T bought an ereader yet... well, good grief, go get one. And just a hint, if you live in Canada and shop at futureshop, a Kobo e-reader is only $54.99 right now. It just doesn't get better.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Book Review: A Safe Haven

 

Product Description

Jenna and Andi Tikaani-Gray are hoping for a fresh start. Though twelve year-old Andi has long struggled with a rare medical disorder, she and her mother have finally received good news from out-of-town specialists. It's news they desperately needed, especially after the recent death of Jenna's husband (Andi's dad) in a car accident. But as they are flying home to Alaska, ready to begin again, the unthinkable happens. The pilot sabotages their small plane and crashes into Sultana, one of the most remote and dangerous mountains in the Land of the Midnight Sun. Even worse, a winter storm is headed their way along with someone who doesn't want to save them, but to kill them. Only one man can keep them alive: Cole Maddox, the mysterious last-minute passenger who joined them on their flight. But trust doesn't come easy to Jenna or Andi√Ďand they both sense Cole is hiding something. A relentless tale of survival and suspense unfolds, involving military technology designed by Jenna's late husband that some would do anything to possess.

MY REVIEW

I really, really wanted to be able to endorse this book 100%, because I loved the idea of a mother and daughter team crafting a book together; indeed, the book definitely benefited from their differing points of view. I enjoyed the action in the story, but some of the inner thoughts of the characters just did not ring true and detracted from the story. I kept finding myself wondering how, in the midst of peril and terror (i.e. someone almost falling to their death), they would have time to have the introspection that the characters are displayed as having. I did appreciate learning about the author's unique disease, however. Overall, I would give this book 3 out of 5 stars, and would definitely lend it to a female crowd who would enjoy the romantic aspects of the story.