Saturday, November 30, 2013

Brilliantly written: My review of "Nightmare City" by Andrew Klavan

Nightmare City
 
 
 
What starts as a seemingly normal morning for high-school student Tom quickly spirals into the stuff of nightmares. His house and the streets of his town lie empty, gripped by a deep, unnatural silence. A fog has moved in to shroud the streets, and as it draws closer to his home Tom realizes that something is moving in the fog. As fear starts pounding through Tom's veins, he comes to realize that evil is stalking him, seeking his death. Tom must make a choice between fighting evil or giving in, and as he does he realizes that the truth of what is actually going on may cost him his life.
 
"Nightmare City" is the best young adult fiction book I've read this year. It was a true thrill ride in every sense of the word, expertly written with tense scenes that kept up a frantic pace from beginning to end. I hesitate to comment on more of the actual plot because I don't want to give a single thing away. But I will say this - if you read this book at night you will find yourself feeling the very fear Tom battles! Klavan is a master of suspense and the plot unfolds with careful precision that had me on the edge of my seat. I found Tom to be a superb character and I loved his stand for truth, no matter the cost, a cost that Tom experiences to the fullest. I love how the author captures Tom's mission in life, to "Live. And don't just live. Live in joy. Even in your sorrow, Tom, live in joy. That's what I made you for". I am always amazed when I can read a book that provides for a thrilling adventure, and walk away pondering the meaning of my own life at the same time. Now THAT is good writing!
 
Although this may be classified as "juvenile fiction" aimed at youth, its honestly a book anyone of any age can read and enjoy. If you love suspenseful books, you are going to love "Nightmare City". 5 out of 5 stars.
 
Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher and the Booksneeze book review program, for the purposes of this unbiased review.

Friday, November 29, 2013

A riveting second installment: My review of "Childless" by James Dobson, Kurt Bruner



Childless


about the book...


The second installment in the riveting new trilogy from Dr. James Dobson and Kurt Bruner transports readers to a not-too-distant future when the young and healthy strain under the burden of a rapidly aging population.

Everyone is nervous about how Judge Victor Santiago will rule. The case involved the tragic demise of a loving mother and her disabled son. A common medical procedure has somehow created havoc across the legal and economic landscape. The president's popular Youth Initiative is losing momentum. Political and economic fortunes are at stake. That's why someone, somewhere, would rather put the judge in his grave than risk a wrong decision.

Tyler Cain, a once respected police detective turned sleazy private investigator, has been pulled into the middle of events way above his pay grade. He hopes the case will restore some measure of dignity. But does he have what it takes to find the potential assassin before time runs out?

He seeks help from Julia Davidson, a newly married journalist, who finds herself torn between the influence she craves and the husband she loves. She wants significance. But he wants a child. In Fatherless, Dr. James Dobson and Kurt Bruner depicted a time in which present-day trends come to sinister fruition. This eagerly awaited follow-up vividly imagines what happens when the abiding joys of parenthood are exchanged for the gradual deterioration of a CHILDLESS world.


my review....


I'm not sure about you, but imagining a society that has moved even farther away from God than has already occurred today is frightening to think about! Such a world is exactly what Dobson and Bruner are exploring in their fascinating trilogy. "Childless" picks up right where the first book in the series, "Fatherless", left off, and once again proves that Dobson and Bruner are able to produce action-packed and thought-provoking fiction. In some ways I found this to be a darker book than the first, especially as we explore even further the character of Matthew, a man who is the very embodiment of the humanist movement at work today, where people live free of the constraint provided by a healthy fear of God and all they care about is themselves. Such is the society depicted in this book, where marriage no longer has meaning and sex is just a cheap act of physical enjoyment, where human life is treated casually, and euthanasia embraced for the "old" and "disabled". Yet this darkness creates a great backdrop for showing faith in action and the beauty of the alternative reality, where God's people are at work spreading his presence.

"Childless" features the characters we came to love (or loathe) in the first book, while introducing some new characters as well. The authors do a good job at fleshing out the characters and giving them intriguing storylines that are woven together in a masterful manner. Despite the dark themes explored in the character's lives, I also enjoyed the way that faith and family is celebrated, for the glimmer of hope that also shines through as well.

I am very curious where the authors are going to take us in the third book in the series. I encourage people to pick up a copy of "Fatherless" if they haven't yet done so, then follow it up with the well-written "Childless" as well. Not only will you be enjoy the dramatic plot, but you will also be left inspired about being salt and light to a society desperately in need of seeing that God is real, truth is alive, and God's way leads to life.

I award this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Book has been provided courtesy of Hachette Book Group Canada, for the purposes of this unbiased review.



about the authors...



Dr. James Dobson is the Founder and President of Family Talk, a nonprofit organization that produces his radio program, "Family Talk with Dr. James Dobson." He is the author of more than 30 books dedicated to the preservation of the family. He has been active in governmental affairs and has advised three U.S. presidents on family matters. Dr. Dobson is married to Shirley and they have two grown children, Danae and Ryan, and two grandchildren. The Dobsons reside in Colorado Springs, CO.


Kurt BrunerKurt Bruner serves as Pastor of Spiritual Formation at Lake Pointe Church and on the adjunct faculty of Dallas Theological Seminary. A graduate of Talbot Seminary and former Vice President with Focus on the Family, Kurt led the teams creating films, magazines, books, and radio drama. As President of HomePointe Inc., he helps local church leaders create an ongoing culture of intentional families. Kurt is the best-selling author of more than a dozen books. Kurt and his wife, Olivia, live in Rockwall, Texas.




Buy the Book


Monday, November 25, 2013

Introducing "Aloha Rose" by Lisa Carter, with CFBA

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Aloha Rose
Abingdon Press (November 19, 2013)
by
Lisa Carter


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A word from the author:

I am a wife and mother. My husband and I have two daughters and make our home in the beautiful state of North Carolina.

I am a teacher. With a Master’s degree in history, I have taught at the university, high school and middle school levels. After years of church involvement as a soloist, choir member and worship leader, I also teach music.

I am a writer. Delighted by the rhythm and musicality of words, I have been writing since childhood. In 2001, I won the Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) Story Writing Contest that re-ignited a lifelong love of writing.

I am on a journey of faith. My ultimate desire through my life and my writing is to proclaim the truth of God’s Word, His redeeming love as seen in the life of Jesus Christ and to help others know for themselves this great, awesome God of all comfort and wisdom. He is enough for every need.

ABOUT THE BOOK

When Laney Carrigan sets out to find her birth family, her only clue is the Hawaiian quilt—a red rose snowflake appliquéd on a white background—in which she was found wrapped as an infant. Centering her search on the Big Island and battling fears of rejection, Laney begins a painstaking journey toward her true heritage. Kai Barnes, however, is determined to protect the people he’s come to regard as family. He thinks Laney is nothing more than a gold digger and blocks every move she makes toward her Hawaiian family. As their conflict escalates, it puts at risk the one thing that Kai and Laney both want most—a family.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Aloha Rose, go HERE.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fast moving & impossible to put down: My review of "The Alligator Man" by James Sheehan

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about the book....


Kevin Wylie's crooked boss wants to run him out of town, and Kevin's long-time girlfriend is ready to take a hike. He decides that now is the time to leave Miami, visit his father, who he hasn't seen in 28 years, and get some answers. Heading back to his hometown, he doesn't realize that he and his dad will become embroiled in a murder case.

The victim, one of the richest and most-hated corporate criminals in America has been dubbed The Alligator Man since pieces of his clothing were found in a local swamp. Billy Fuller had every reason in the world to want Johnson dead and all the evidence leads right to his doorstep. But legendary trial lawyer Tom Wylie believes in Billy and he and his son reunite to fight the courtroom battle for Billy's life.

The Alligator Man is a story of greed, anger, love, redemption and two powerful trial attorneys who fight to the end-- and risk everything--for the truth.


 

 
my review....

"The Alligator Man" sees James Sheehan return in fine form with his fourth novel, a book likely to attract a number of new fans. Filled with suspense and intrigue, and court-room scenes that showcase Sheehan's own trial experience, the book moves at a fast pace and I simply couldn't put it down! I greatly enjoyed the unique characters that make up the supporting cast, such as Carlisle, a man who is able to traverse the wild swamps with ease and who has a unique perspective on life. His role as auxiliary officer made for some light-hearted and humorous scenes as his steady work on the murder case showed up that of the more seasoned detective also assigned to the case. And I truly enjoyed the main character, Kevin, a guy who is just utterly likeable, someone who isn't perfect and who makes mistakes, but in the end is a man who stands up for justice.  Sheehan is careful to create a well-rounded character in Kevin, as he struggles with his past and his family identity and determining what type of man he wants to be, what kind of long-lasting impression he wants to make through his career. The subplot involving the reconciliation he experiences with his father makes for some moving moments! Thus, in the middle of an action-packed novel, I found myself reflecting on the own choices I'm making in my own life.

I strongly recommend "The Alligator Man", certain that fans of legal thrillers are going to enjoy this carefully plotted and well-written novel, full of twists and turns and nail-biting scenes! 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of Center Street, a division of Hachette Book Group (Canada), for the purposes of this unbiased review.


++  I should warn readers of this site that there is some swearing in the book, so if this is not something you are comfortable with, then please read the book with caution.


 about the author....
 
 
Sheehan, James (1562087) James Sheehan is the author of The Lawyer's Lawyer, The Mayor of Lexington Avenue, and The Law of Second Chances. He was a successful trial attorney for 30 years, and currently teaches trial law and is the Director of the Tampa Law Institute at Stetson University College of Law in Tampa, Florida. Learn more at jamessheehanauthor.com - See more at: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/authors/james-sheehan/#about
















Thursday, November 21, 2013

BOMB? Phew. Nope, a gift from the marvelous "Ten Thousand Villages" @VillagesCanada



Recently, the doorbell rang and a minute later I opened the door to find that a large package had magically appeared on my doorstep. No one was in sight.

Strange.

Having devoured a number of suspense novels recently, my mind instantly conjured up thoughts of a bomb on my doorstep. Had I ticked off a client? Angered a fellow church-goer that one time I started snoring in the pew? Sung off key during the worship service?

I approached the package carefully, listening for a tell-tale ticking. I bravely flipped the package over.

Fortunately, my imagination screeched to a halt when I turned the package over and recognized the mailing address from Graf-Martin Communications, who graciously send books my way to help review and promote. However, as I wasn't expecting any books at the time, I couldn't help but immediately tear into the package. Seconds later, packing tape was flying through the air and my wife and children were gathered around to examine the contents.

Imagine our delight when I pulled out a Shesham Dominos Set from India, courtesy of Ten Thousand Villages! 



 
 
 
 
 http://www.tenthousandvillages.ca/shop/en/all-products/2361146-camino-hazelnut-milk-chocolate.html
 
 
Soon, my children were exclaiming over the delicious chocolate, and dominos were being carefully constructed into towers and other products of their imagination while I read the accompanying material from Ten Thousand Villages

 
Now, I'm hoping you've heard of Ten Thousand Villages. I come from a Mennonite heritage myself, and so for years I've been familiar with their organization, which is a program of the Mennonite Central Committee. But, if you've never heard of them, let me enlighten you:
 

What is Ten Thousand Villages?

 
 
Ten Thousand Villages is an organization which sells handicrafts from “developing” countries through its network of stores in Canada and the USA, as well as hundreds of annual Festival sales. Ten Thousand Villages is a program of Mennonite Central Committee, a relief and development organization working in more than 50 countries around the world. Ten Thousand Villages has its roots in the work begun by Edna Ruth Byler in 1946.




 
 

Where does the name Ten Thousand Villages come from?

 
 
The inspiration for the name came from a Mahatma Gandhi quote: “…India is not to be found in its few cities but in the 700,000 villages…we have hardly ever paused to inquire if these folks get sufficient to eat and clothe themselves with.” To Ten Thousand Villages, each village in the world represents a unique and distinctive people, offering extraordinary products born of their rich cultures and traditions.




Where does everything come from and who made it?

 
 
Products sold by Ten Thousand Villages come from 29 countries in the developing world. Ten Thousand Villages buys from more than 100 artisan groups which provides work for more than 60,000 individual people. About 70% of the artisans are women. Some artisan groups also seek to employ persons with physical disabilities. Ten Thousand Villages intentionally looks to work with people who are unemployed or underemployed. Products sold by Ten Thousand Villages are often made in small group settings or in homes where artisans also manage household responsibilities or farm work.

And finally, their Mission Statement:

 
Ten Thousand Villages creates opportunities for artisans in developing countries to earn income by bringing their products and stories to our markets through long-term, fair trading relationships.


You can learn more at their website: http://www.tenthousandvillages.ca/about
 
 
So, come on all you online shoppers looking for special gifts for this Christmas Season. Head on over to Ten Thousand Villages, and spread dignity and hope to the world while you do!

Blessings!  :)
 
 
http://www.tenthousandvillages.ca/
 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Gripping legal thriller: My review of "Critical Reaction" by Todd M. Johnson


Cover Art

Check out a preview and my review of the latest book from Todd M. Johnson, courtesy of the publisher and CFBA:

........

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Critical Reaction
Bethany House Publishers (November 19, 2013)
by
Todd M. Johnson


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Todd M. Johnson has practiced as an attorney for over 30 years, specializing as a trial lawyer. Todd's career experience blends with his passion for writing in his novels published through Bethany House.

A graduate of Princeton University and the University of Minnesota Law School, he also taught for two years as an adjunct professor of International Law, and served as a US diplomat in Hong Kong.

The Deposit Slip, Mr. Johnson's first novel, debuted in 2012. Todd's second novel, Critical Reaction, will be released in November 2013.

Todd lives outside Minneapolis, Minnesota, with his wife Cathy and children Ian and Libby.

ABOUT THE BOOK

After decades of turning out plutonium for the arms race, the Hanford Nuclear Facility has long been shuttered, though its deadly legacy cannot be fully contained. The men who guard the facility from sabotage or monitor its buildings for radiation leaks are told the risks are under control. They believe it, until the worst happens: a thunderous explosion in the dead of night.

Two workers, lifer Poppy Martin and new hire Kieran Mullaney, believe themselves lucky to survive the blast. But as the debris is cleared, they discover their safety is not assured. Dead ends and closed doors halt their efforts to discover what really happened--and what radiation may have poisoned them. When stalling and threats force them into the hands of experienced trial lawyer Ryan Hart, they learn that theirs is no ordinary lawsuit. There is something still hidden in the desert of eastern Washington, and someone is willing to go to extreme lengths to make sure it never sees the light of day.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Critical Reaction, go HERE.



.........


my review.....


I opened the pages of "Critical Reaction", and within moments found myself gripping the pages of the book as I watched the scenes unfold with vivid drama. The writing is powerful and immersive, and I found myself imagining what it would be like to be working in a former nuclear facility, and then live through an explosion such as is described. I don't want to go into too many details as I would hate to spoil the book for you, but suffice it to say that the concepts presented in this novel are utterly chilling to imagine unfolding in real life.

Todd M. Johnson once again brings his excellent writing skills and his legal experience together to produce a suspenseful, fast-paced read. I raced through the pages, wanting to find out the explanation for what happened at the beginning of the novel, and craving to see how the court-room drama would all play out. Johnson unfolds the plot of the story with skill, unfolding the truth one piece at a time to result in a swift-moving book. The characters are wonderfully developed, and I enjoyed the daughter-father relationship that the author explores, complete with tension and misunderstandings and a slow process of reconciliation that makes for some enjoyable scenes. Johnson even throws some romance into the story, the kind that will appeal to both male and female readers.

I don't know about you, but I love a good legal thriller - and this is one of them! I highly recommend this book and award it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher and Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, for the purposes of this unbiased review.






Saturday, November 16, 2013

An amazing true story: My review of "God's Double Agent" by Bob Fu, Nancy French

Cover Art


about the book....


God's people are hiding in plain sight

Tens of millions of Christians live in China today, leading double lives to hide from a government that relentlessly persecutes them.

By day, Bob Fu was a teacher in a communist school; by night, he was a preacher in an underground house church network. This edge-of-your-seat book tells the true story of Fu's conversion to Christianity, his arrest and imprisonment for starting an illegal house church, his harrowing escape, and his subsequent rise to prominence in the United States as an advocate for his oppressed brethren.

God's Double Agent will inspire you to boldly proclaim and live out your faith in a world that is at times indifferent, and at other times murderously hostile, to those who spread the gospel.



my review....

If you have ever questioned whether God is real and at work in the world around you, then do yourself a favour and pick up a copy of "God's Double Agent". Bob Fu's account of his childhood and his path to becoming a follower of Jesus in the midst of communist China is absolutely riveting, and will leave you pondering your own dedication to God. It would be impossible to walk away from this book and not weigh the cost of following Christ, when you learn of the plight of millions of Chinese Christians who spend time in jail and who are brutally persecuted for their faith, and who still praise the name of Jesus! The book is very well-written, and reads more like a fiction book than an autobiography in that the chapters are full of action and drama, romance and suspense. But the best part of this book is that it is a true account, such that instead of just wishing that the characters are real, like in fiction novels, readers can know that these men and women are real. Through the pages of this story, readers will grow to genuinely care about Bob Fu and his wife Heidi, and see that they are not pretending to be perfect, but struggle with the same things you and I do. Bob and Heidi demonstrate the power of relying on God to set the course of your future, and submitting to His will for your life. Yet they also remind us that we are in s spiritual war, and we must also play a role in fighting for the freedom of men and women and children to be free from persecution. "God's Double Agent" will not only stir your faith, but call you to take action as well. It is a book that everyone should read!

I highly recommend this book and award it 5 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group.



 about the authors....



Bob Fu
Bob Fu is a former dissident and pastor of an illegal underground church in China. He and his wife, Heidi, escaped prison and fled to the United States as religious refugees in 1997. He currently runs ChinaAid (ChinaAid.org), a nonprofit organization that tirelessly advocates for the underground church in China and for political dissidents, as well as for the lawyers and activists who place their lives on the line to defend them.

Bob is a distinguished professor of religion and public policy at Midwest University and a research PhD candidate at Durham University, UK. In addition to being the China analyst for Voice of the Martyrs, Bob is editor-in-chief of Chinese Law and Religion Monitor and guest editor for Chinese Law and Government, a journal of UCLA. He received the 2007 John Leland Religious Liberty Award from the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). In 2012, Midwest University awarded Bob the Honorary Doctorate Degree on Global Leadership.

He currently lives with his wife and their three children in Midland, Texas.

Nancy French Nancy French is a two-time New York Times bestselling author. Her books include Home and Away (with David French), Not Afraid of Life (with Bristol Palin), A Winning Balance (with Shawn Johnson), and Red State of Mind. She lives in Tennessee. For more information, visit NancyFrench.com.









Thursday, November 14, 2013

Gripping historical fiction: My review of "City on Fire" by Tracy L. Higley

City on Fire : A Novel of Pompeii, Tracy L. Higley
At the base of Mount Vesuvius lies the coastal town of Pompeii, a city churning with political unrest and filled with a people who embrace all that Rome has to offer. Cato has recently moved to Pompeii after giving up on ever changing the corrupt political landscape of Rome. Along with his mother and sister, he has come to Pompeii for a fresh start, intent on embracing the life of a vineyard owner. He soon meets another newcomer to Pompeii, a young gladiator training to fight. However, the gladiator is guarding a deadly secret, that she's a runaway Jewish slave girl named Ariella. Despite his intentions, Cato soon finds himself fighting the political corruption in Pompeii, while Ariella finds herself fighting for a fame that she hopes will lead to her freedom. Both soon find themselves fighting for their lives and those whom they love.
 
"City On Fire" is a gripping read, bringing to life the historical city of Pompeii in such a vivid way that I felt like I was watching the scenes play across my mind. It was chilling to observe the Roman customs, of a people devoted to worshipping false gods while satisfying every sort of lust imaginable. The characters of Ariella and Cato are both utterly fascinating, Cato as he encounters corruption and Ariella as she struggles to survive in a harsh world.  Their journey to discover the truth of Jesus is a beautiful one to observe, and I marvelled at Higley's ability to write a suspenseful novel that also provides a clear gospel message. The novel is well-written and moves along very well, with nary a dull moment to be found. The reader may have to suspend their belief somewhat at the idea of a young woman being able to truly disguise her gender among 100 male gladiators. But the story itself is simply absorbing, and the final chapters had me racing through the pages as the author brings to life the eruption of Vesuvius and the end of Pompeii.
 
I thoroughly enjoyed "City on Fire", and continue to consider Higley to be one of the best historical authors in the Christian marketplace. I award this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.
 
Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher and the Booksneeze program, for the purposes of this unbiased review.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

"Heart Failure" by Richard L. Mabry, M.D.

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Dr. Carrie Markham and Adam Davidson are celebrating a date night at the movies when shots fired by a vehicle driving by shatter the night air. Soon, Carrie's world seems out-of-control, as she learns that the shooting may not be random and that her fiancé of one week is not the man she believed him to be. Adam must decide whether to run, as he has in the past, or whether he should stay to confront the ones he is convinced are after him. Carrie must decide whether she will believe Adam's story, and whether she can again trust her heart to him. No matter what they decide, they are both sure of one thing - someone is out to kill them.

 Dr. Richard Mabry has written a tale infused with suspense, medical drama, and twists and turns as readers are left guessing what is going on. The chapters are chock-full of action, and there are plenty of potential villains in the story to lead readers in a number of different directions. I enjoyed the character of Carrie in particular as I learned of her past of losing her husband, and her determination to move through her hurts and struggles and forge a new path. I do have to admit that parts of the plot did not always make sense to me, such as Adam's reaction to the initial drive-by shooting. I'm not sure that someone with his past would truly stay put the way that he does, or that he'd assume that someone stalking him wouldn't know where both he and Carrie live. However, I know that this is just my opinion, and perhaps this is how someone would react. I also didn't find that the story flowed as well as some of Mabry's prior books. All in all though, "Heart Failure" does provide some solid entertainment, and I really enjoyed the authentic feel to the scenes that take place in the hospital and with Carrie's various patients. You can tell that Mabry has first-hand experience as a physician, as this fact shines through the pages.

I give this book a mild recommendation and rating of 2.5 out of 5 stars.
Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher, Thomas Nelson, and the Booksneeze program, for the purposes of this unbiased review.
about the author....
Dr. Richard Mabry is a retired physician, past Vice-President of the American Christian Fiction Writers, and the author of five published novels of medical suspense. His books have been finalists in competitions including ACFW’s Carol Award and Romantic Times’ Inspirational Book of the Year. His novel, Lethal Remedy, won a 2012 Selah Award from the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference. His most recent medical thriller, Stress Test (Thomas Nelson), was released in April of this year, and will be followed by Heart Failure in October.



Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Left me feeling moved: My review of "The Prodigal" by Brennan Manning & Greg Garrett @DailyVineCA

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about the book....


From the inspirational author of The Ragamuffin Gospel comes a powerful contemporary retelling of the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Jack Chisholm is 'the people's pastor.' He leads a devoted and growing megachurch, has several best-selling books, and a memorable slogan, 'We have got to do better.' Jack knows how to preach, and he understands how to chastise people into performing. What he doesn't know is anything about grace. This year, when it comes time for the Christmas sermon, the congregation at Grace Cathedral will look to the pulpit, and Jack will not be there. Of course, they will have seen plenty of him already---on the news. After an evening of debauchery that leads to an affair with his beautiful assistant, Jack Chisholm finds himself deserted with chilling swiftness. The church elders remove him from his own pulpit. His publisher withholds the royalties from his books. Worst of all, his wife disappears with their eight-year-old daughter. But just as Jack is hitting bottom, hopeless and penniless, drinking his way to oblivion, who should appear but his long-estranged father, imploring his prodigal son: 'Come home.'

A true companion piece to The Ragamuffin Gospel, The Prodigal illustrates the power of grace through the story of a broken man who finally saw Jesus not because he preached his greatest sermon or wrote his most powerful book, but because he failed miserably. Jack Chisholm lost everything---his church, his family, his respect, and his old way of believing---but he found grace. It's the same grace that Brennan Manning devoted his life to sharing: profound in nature and coming from a God who loves us just as we are, and not as we should be.

my review....

I opened the covers of “Prodigal” a little bit worried that I was going to be reading a novel that would be all-too-predictable in its story line, that of the parable of the prodigal son and his path to being reunited with his father. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that Manning and Garrett have taken an age-old story line, infused it with interesting plot elements, and given new voice to the tale of the prodigal son. I found that the story did start off a little on the slow side, but soon I found myself utterly absorbed by the characters I was meeting. Jack Chisholm is a flawed human being in a manner that readers will be able to relate to, often well-meaning but struggling to live through past hurts or selfish desires. He is so completely off-mark in what he teaches as America’s pastor, that it is hard to believe that churches such as his actually exist out there. Sadly, it’s all too true that the gospel of grace and freedom can be twisted to become all about striving to just “do better”, forgetting the grace and redemption Jesus offers. Jack’s path to healing and reconciliation is a fascinating one to watch, and some of the scenes brought tears to my eyes! The novel is well-written and will leave you thinking about your own relationship with Jesus, as well as reflecting on how you treat others in the world around you. I closed the pages of this story feeling moved by the power of God’s love to find us even in our darkest moments, and bring us hope when all seems lost.

I award this book a solid rating of 4 out of 5 stars, and recommend that readers who enjoy entertaining and moving contemporary fiction books pick up a copy for themselves.

A review copy was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.



 about the author....

Brennan Manning

 
 Brennan Manning spent his life and ministry helping others experience the unconditional love of Jesus Christ. A recovering alcoholic and former Franciscan priest, his own spiritual journey took him down a variety of paths, all of them leading to the profound reality of God's irresistible grace. His ministry responsibilities varied greatly - from teacher, to minister to the poor, to solidary reflective. As a writer, Brennan Manning is best known as the author of the contemporary classics The Ragamuffin Gospel, Abba's Child, Ruthless Trust, The Importance of Being Foolish, Patched Together, and The Furious Longing of God.
 
 
 
 
Greg GarrettGreg Garrett is the author of novels, including the new The Prodigal (with Brennan Manning), Free Bird (chosen by Publishers' Weekly and the Denver Rocky Mountain News as one of the best fiction debuts of 2002), Cycling, and Shame, the memoirs Crossing Myself and No Idea, and works on theology, popular culture, politics, and narrative including The Gospel according to Hollywood, The Gospel Reloaded (with Chris Seay), Holy Superheroes, Stories from the Edge, We Get to Carry Each Other: The Gospel according to U2, The Other Jesus, One Fine Potion: The Literary Magic of Harry Potter, and Faithful Citizenship. Greg is also--with Brian McLaren, Lauren Winner, Phylis Tickle, Chris Seay, and other writers--involved in The Voice project, a scripture project for Thomas Nelson. Greg is 2013 Centennial Professor at Baylor University, writer in residence at the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest, and Residential Scholar at Gladstone's Library in Wales. He lives in Austin, Texas with his family.
 
Find out more about the book on the publisher website:   http://zondervan.com/9780310339007


Monday, November 11, 2013

Fantastic conclusion to the series! My review of "Peril" by Jordyn Redwood

Peril: A Novel


Pediatric ICU nurse Morgan Adams is struggling to find the will to live after the unimaginable death of her daughter. Her marriage to Dr. Tyler Adams seems destined to failure as they struggle with the new reality of their family's situation. Tyler, in the meantime, is becoming ever more concerned about the special project that he is working on for Dr. Thomas Reeves. Dr. Reeves is conducting a lucrative research project regarding implanting neural grafts into the brains of ex-military volunteers, in the quest to create combat troops with superior memory who can act in battles like a super soldier by enacting complex battle plans in any scenario. However, his research project goes awry when recipients of the graft begin suffering hallucinations and losing loss of their limbs, even facing death. In a desperate move to find out the truth of what they are experiencing, 3 research recipients take the Pediatric clinic and Morgan hostage, placing the lives of countless children and adults in peril.

Jorydn Redwood has written a taut and absorbing read in "Peril", leaving me glued to the edge of my seat as I raced to see how everything would resolve. Her pacing is spot on, and scenes flowed effortlessly from one to the next as the readers are led ever closer to the gripping conclusion. I greatly enjoyed getting to know the new and old characters in this book, and I thought they were created with realism as they leaped off of the page. Ethical questions are expertly explored in the all-too-frightening scenario presented in the pages of this book, and by the end of the novel I found myself hoping that, in real life, similar research projects are not underway! Jordyn Redwood has proven that she is an author to keep an eye on, both with "Peril" and with the prior books in the series. I greatly enjoy her writing style, and the way that she weaves suspense and unique plots together to create an absorbing read. Readers who enjoyed the first two books in the Bloodline Trilogy Series are going to be pleased with this final installment with the series - I know I was! I highly recommend this book and award it 5 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher and Kregel Blog Tour services, for the purposes of this unbiased review.

about the author...



Jordyn Redwood has specialized in critical care and emergency nursing for seventeen years. A member of both the American Association of Critical Care Nurses and the American Christian Fiction Writers association, Jordyn lives in Colorado.











Friday, November 8, 2013

Incredibly good: My review of "Singularity" by Steven James

Cover Art


about the book....


Jevin Banks is searching for a killer--and answers to terrifying questions he never even thought to ask.

When his friend is murdered, illusionist Jevin Banks is determined to find out what really happened. Drawn deep into a web of conspiracy and top-secret research on human consciousness, Jevin won't stop digging until the truth is revealed. Soon he uncovers a dark secret that could change the very fabric--and future--of human life on the planet.

Based on frightening scientific realities and bristling with mystery, suspense, and intrigue, Singularity is the riveting sequel to Placebo.



my review....

"Singularity" proves, yet again, why Steven James is one of the top suspense authors in the Christian market - or any market for that matter! From the taut beginning that had me shuddering as I considered the incident that happens with the snakes, to the gripping conclusion that had me devouring the final pages, I was so caught up in the story that I simply couldn't walk away. The writing is top-notch, with action-packed scenes and wonderfully witty dialogue that had me laughing in several places. The magic scenes were fabulous, and I can promise that if Jevin Banks were real I'd be on my way to Las Vegas right now to watch one of his shows! The characters are fascinating and I loved watching them interact; although I enjoyed the relationship between Jevin and his assistant-turned-girlfriend Charlene, it is the scenes involving Fiona and her amazingly smart children that I most often loved. They are simply hilarious! And when it comes to villains, James has succeeded at creating some extra creepy ones, with the male and female villains in this story that make it truly frightening to consider such persons existing in real life.

If you enjoyed the first book in the series, "Placebo", then you are going to absolutely love "Singularity". I'm not sure if there are more books planned featuring Jevin Banks and friends, but I for one certainly hope so! This book is a fabulously entertaining read. 5 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.



 about the author....



Steven James
Critically acclaimed author Steven James has written more than thirty books, including Placebo and the bestselling Bowers Files thriller series. He is a contributing editor to Writer's Digest. Steven lives in Tennessee with his wife and three daughters.









Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Movie GIVEAWAY & review: "King's Faith"

Buy the DVD



about the movie....


Discovering Jesus while serving time in a juvenile penitentiary, Brendan King is finally able to find solace in a Christian foster home. But as he builds new relationships with other believers at school, his old ties to a gang won't let him walk away easily. In his darkest hour, will he decide that faith is worth the price? (PG-13.) 108 minutes.






my review....

Featuring some strong acting, a gripping story-line, and a beautiful score, "King's Faith" is a movie worth watching! It wasn't long into the movie before I became absorbed by Brendan's story, a foster youth who has lived through some harrowing experiences and has chosen to turn his life around with God's grace. The movie aptly depicts how the choices we make can have long-term consequences, and the plot-line of Brendan being stalked by his old gang is a frightening one. The movie does a great job at building up tension, not only in terms of Brendan's situation with his former gang, but also regarding the blossoming romance he encounters and his relationship with the foster parents. As a professional myself who works with both foster youth and foster families, I found that there was an excellent element of realism to how Brendan and the foster care system was portrayed. I found myself wishing that the own youth I interact with would experience a life-changing encounter with Jesus, such as Brendan does. The character of Brendan is not perfect, and he doesn't always make the right choices, a fact I also appreciated. 

Although it wouldn't be fair to compare this film to big-budget movie films, I believe that "King's Faith" is a solid addition to Christian-based films, a movie with a lot of heart that is likely to move many people to tears. You will quickly grow to care about the lives of those depicted on the screen, and find yourself rooting for them and what they are going through. And, as already noted, I must say that the musical soundtrack for the movie is just beautiful, definitely enhancing the overall movie experience.

I strongly recommend "King's Faith", whether for viewing as a family (with children of an appropriate age), as a youth group, or at other church functions. I award "King's Faith" 4 out of 5 stars.

Disclaimer - I received a free copy of this product in exchange for my honest opinion shared in this review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own or those of my family. I'm including this disclaimer in accordance with FTC Guidelines and Regulations.


Find out more about the movie cast at: http://www.kingsfaith.com/cast



AND NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY
open to Americans & Canadians :)
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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Timely, practical parenting advice: My review of "Love & Respect in the Family" by Dr. Eggerichs @DailyVineCA

Love & Respect in the Family: The Transforming Power of Love and Respect Between Parent and Child


about the book....


Children need love.  Parents need respect. It is as simple and complex as that!

When frustrated with an unresponsive child, a parent doesn’t declare, “You don’t love me.” Instead the parent asserts, “You are being disrespectful right now.” A parent needs to feel respected, especially during conflicts. When upset a child does not whine, “You don’t respect me.” Instead, a child pouts, “You don’t love me.” A child needs to feel loved, especially during disputes.

But here’s the rub: An unloved child (or teen) negatively reacts in a way that feels disrespectful to a parent. A disrespected parent negatively reacts in a way that feels unloving to the child.  This dynamic gives birth to the FAMILY CRAZY CYCLE.

So how is one to break out of this cycle? Best-selling author Emerson Eggerichs has studied the family dynamic for more than 30 years, having his Ph.D. in Child and Family Ecology. As a senior pastor for nearly two decades, Eggerichs builds on a foundation of strong biblical principles, walking the reader through an entirely new way to approach the family dynamic. For instance, God reveals ways to defuse the craziness with our children from preschooler to teen, plus how to motivate them to obey and how to deal with them when they don’t. In the Bible, God has spoken specifically to parents on how to parent. This book is about that revelation.

my review....

Timely, practical parenting advice is at your fingertips with Dr. Eggerichs' book, "Love & Respect in the Family", and I encourage you to grab a copy and gain some valuable tools for raising your children. The book is well written, conveying important truths in a conversational manner that is easy to read. Although I've read many parenting books, I enjoyed the author's take on the "Family Crazy Cycle", where he provides clear and relevant examples about what he's referring to, such that any family will immediately be able to relate to those crazy parenting moments! However, he doesn't stop there, but offers practical ideas on how to calm things down, and discipline your children in a way that still conveys your love for them, while earning and requiring their respect for you as a parent. Dr. Eggerichs calls for parents to bring their maturity to the situation, and not to personalize every self-centered action your child will make. He provides sound advice about allowing for imperfection from your children while still guiding them, calmly, to change for the better. I greatly appreciate that the book is built on Biblical principals with many examples drawn from the Bible. Parents will be able to read this book without feeling guilty, while still recognizing that, like any parent, they can change their parenting for the better, all based on timeless wisdom from God's Word.

I strongly recommend this book for parents or even grandparents. 4 out of 5 stars.

A review copy was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.



 about the author....



Image of Emerson EggerichsEmerson Eggerichs and his wife Sarah travel the country conducting the Love and Respect marriage conferences. Before launching Love and Respect Ministries, Emerson was senior pastor of Trinity Church in East Lansing, Michigan for nearly 20 years. Emerson received his B.A. in Biblical Studies and M.A. in Communications from Wheaton College and Graduate School. He was later awarded a Master of Divinity degree from Dubuque Seminary, and a Ph.D. in Child and Family Ecology from Michigan State University. Married since 1973, he and Sarah have three adult children. He is the president of Love and Respect Ministries and author of the best-selling book Love and Respect.




Find out more about the book on the publisher website: http://www.thomasnelson.com/love-respect-in-the-family.html


Saturday, November 2, 2013

An incredible novel: My review of "Chasing Hope" by Kathryn Cushman

Cover Art


about the book....


A talented runner determined to make the Olympics, Sabrina Rice had her dreams shattered by a devastating diagnosis. One forfeited scholarship and several years later, she's forged a new vision for her future that has nothing to do with running, which she's buried deep, intent on forgetting...

Until the day she sees Brandy Philip running across the college campus, easily outpacing security. Sabrina immediately recognizes world class potential, and it's all the more painful that it belongs to a troublemaking teen. When a chance encounter brings the two young women together, Sabrina realizes she's Brandy's best hope to salvage a life about to spiral out of control forever.




my review....

"Chasing Hope" is an incredible novel, one that captured me from the first page such that I found it simply impossible to put down! Sabrina Rice is a unique character who stole my heart with her determination to succeed through the challenges in her life. Her struggles to hold onto her faith in the midst of pain and trials are ones that any reader will be able to relate to. I greatly enjoyed watching the relationship develop between Sabrina and the teenage Brandy, which not only makes for some humorous moments, but provided some powerful scenes as each young women worked through the pain of their past and discovered the possibility of a new future. "Chasing Hope" celebrates the power of faith to overcome all odds, and the gift of family in our lives. I love the characters of the godly grandmothers who have such wonderful wisdom and who push their grandchildren to go beyond what they believe is possible! As with Cushman's prior novels, the writing is top-notch, with drama filled scenes, emotional depth, and characters who will soon come to feel like friends. Fans of Cushman's novels will be utterly pleased with this latest offering, and I myself am looking forward to future novels from Cushman's skilled pen.

Readers who enjoy heart-stirring contemporary fiction should plan on adding this book to their "must read" list. I highly recommend this book and award it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.



 about the author....



Kathryn Cushman
Kathryn Cushman is a graduate of Samford University with a degree in pharmacy. She is the author of five novels, including Leaving Yesterday and A Promise to Remember, which were both finalists for the Carol Award in Women's Fiction. She is also the co-author of Angel Song with Sheila Walsh. Kathryn and her family currently live in Santa Barbara, California. Visit her Web site at www.kathryncushman.com