Monday, August 31, 2015

Free ebook: "Praying for your prodigal" by kyle idleman

Praying for Your Prodigal - eBook

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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Will enrich your devotional life! My review of the new "NIV Zondervan Study Bible"

I have been using my current study Bible for years, and so I was hesitant to give this updated version a try. But I am so glad I did! The newest "NIV Zondervan Study Bible" is packed full of amazing features. From colourful maps (over 90!) to hundreds of photos of landmarks and artifacts, to excellent introductions to each book in the Bible, to a comprehensive concordance, the Bible is chock-full of tools that will enrich your understanding of Scripture. At almost 3000 pages, this study Bible provides all you could hope for in one volume. And did I mention that when you purchase the Bible, you also get a free copy of an electronic version of the Study Bible to download?

Even in the relatively short time I've had this Bible, I have found it to be a true blessing. When I do my daily devotions, I count on things like study notes to help me more clearly understand key verses, and the notes in this study Bible are truly excellent. I love how I can often look down to the study note accompanying a verse to see what the Hebrew or Greek word is to help me have a deeper understanding of what the scripture says. The authors of these notes clearly identify the scripture as the inspired word of God, and do a great job at letting the Bible speak truth, even when it may be hard to hear. For example, when I think of the divisive issue of homosexuality in the church today, it is so very helpful to look at key scriptures like Romans 1:26 and 27 that are accompanied by notes that ensure clear understanding of such matters. The background information and introductions to the books of the Bible are also well-written and informative, and help you clearly understand the context and the audience to the words that you are reading. I make it my goal to spend time each day in the Word, and I am so thankful for well-written study Bibles like this one that make that time a richer experience.

Although I was a bit sad to pack away my former study Bible, I just can't say enough positive things about this one. Not only does it contain my favourite version of the Bible, the NIV version, but it offers powerful tools to help me truly grasp the Word of God. I award this book a rating of 5 out of 5 stars. 

Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher and the Booklook Blogging program, for the purposes of this unbiased review.

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Left me eager for more: Trial Run by Thomas Locke

Cover Art

about the book....

Dr. Gabriella Speciale has assembled an international team of elite scientists with one goal in mind--to create and control out-of-body experiences that transcend the limits of time and space. Reese Clawson's mind-bending experiments aim to explode the boundaries of human consciousness--and annihilate the opposition in the process.

When a terrifying discovery and a string of failed tests threaten to dismantle both programs, the key to survival may reside in the mind of a gifted grad student whose unsettling dreams have thrust him into the center of a dangerous battle for control.

As the threads of perception and reality become tangled and time itself twists in unexpected directions, one warning remains clear: what you don't know can kill you.

my review....

Quite simply, "Trial Run" blew me away, from its high-octane pace to its mind-blowing premise. I loved the author's unique take of two different factions being able to create out-of-body experiences that allow their people to impact others outside of the constraints of time or location. Such a concept is both fascinating to consider, while frightening at the same time, because such a possibility would change the world forever. The characters are not necessarily what you'd expect, as you find yourself connecting with certain characters only to find out they aren't the "good guy" after all. Such elements lead to several twists and turns in the story, which some readers may not appreciate as they might prefer a story where the good and bad are clearly known from the beginning. However, I quite enjoyed figuring out who I should be cheering for, and by the final few chapters I found myself simply unable to step away from the action taking place on the pages. Add in some explosive scenes and even a love triangle, and you have something that will appeal to everyone. As per usual, the author has crafted each scene with careful precision, and the writing is both beautiful and action-packed at the same time. I do have a complaint, of course. As "Trial Run" is only the first book in the series, we are left hanging, eager for more and yet having to wait until next year!

Thomas Locke impressed me with his previously published book earlier this year, "Emissary", and so I was looking forward to see what other concepts the author had up his sleeve. While the genre of "Trial Run" may not appeal to everyone, it certainly captivated me, and I found this book to be well worth the wait. I award this first instalment of the "Fault Lines" series a full rating of 5 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. 

 about the author....

Thomas Locke

Thomas Locke is a pseudonym for Davis Bunn, the award-winning novelist with total worldwide sales of seven million copies. His work has been published in twenty languages, and critical acclaim includes four Christy Awards for excellence in fiction. Davis divides his time between Oxford and Florida and holds a lifelong passion for speculative stories. As Thomas Locke, Davis is also the author of Emissary. Learn more at

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Friday, August 14, 2015

A captivating read: Not by Sight by Kate Breslin

Cover Art

about the book....

In the spring of 1917, all of Britain's attention is on the WWI war front and the thousands of young men serving their country on the front lines. Jack Benningham, dashing heir to the Earl of Stonebrooke, is young and able-bodied but refuses to enlist despite the contempt of his peers.

A wealthy young suffragette, Grace Mabry will do anything to assist her country's cause. Men like Jack infuriate her when she thinks of her own brother fighting in the trenches of France, so she has no reservations about handing him a white feather of cowardice at a posh masquerade ball.

But Grace could not anticipate the danger and betrayal set into motion by her actions, and soon she and Jack are forced to learn the true meaning of courage when the war raging overseas suddenly strikes much closer to home and their fervent beliefs become a matter of life and death.

my review....

Kate Breslin's "Not by Sight" is a remarkable novel, one that captivated me with it's loveable characters, the interesting historical contexts, and the poetic language that permeates the pages. Although I felt that some parts of the book were more engaging than others, on the whole I greatly enjoyed this unique take on a World War I themed novel, especially as I learned more about the role women played on the home front. I've never stopped to consider how crops continued to be harvested after the men left for the front lines, or how farm animals continued to be cared for. I enjoyed watching Grace be pushed out of her comfort zone learning farm duties, while forming special friendships with the other woman all proving they could work just as hard as the men. And then as the intrigue and suspense built slowly but surely over the course of the story, it came to the point that I simply couldn't put the book down! The interactions between Grace and Jack made for some truly entertaining scenes as they explore where their relationship could be headed; I think the only thing that gave me pause is that Jack was engaged to a different woman for much of the book, which felt a bit awkward at times. However, that aside, as Grace finds her very life in danger, I forgot about the world around me and my thoughts about the book and simply lost myself in the story. That, to me, is a sign of a good book!

Fans of historical fiction that will provide them with a new appreciation for history, characters they will appreciate, and an ending that will leave a smile on their face, should pick up a copy of Breslin's latest book. 4 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. 

 about the author....

Kate Breslin

A Florida girl who migrated to the Pacific Northwest, Kate Breslin was a bookseller for many years. She is the author of For Such a Time and lives with her husband in Seattle, Washington. Find her online at

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Free ebook: A Table By the Window by Lawana Blackwell

Table By the Window, A - eBook

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Monday, August 10, 2015

An exciting sequel! "Submarines, Secrets & A Daring Rescue" by Skead & Skead

ISBN: 9780310747475

"Submarines, Secrets & A Daring Rescue" sees the return of 15-year-old twins John and Ambrose, again in service to the United States of America. This second novel in the series takes place a year after the first novel, in April 1778. They have been given a new mission, to bring gunpowder to the patriots who are in desperate need of it. But soon they find themselves in one dangerous situation after another, from manning one of the first submarines, to rescuing one of their older brothers from prison!

My daughter was extremely eager to get her hands on this well-plotted follow-up to "Patriots, Redcoats and Spies". In fact, she loved the book so much that she read it from beginning to end in one day! The Skeads have penned a novel that is wonderfully action-packed, with nary a dull moment to be found. The story is full of twists and turns, and readers will be thoroughly entertained, not only the target audience of age 8-12 year olds, but anyone who picks up a copy. Best of all, the book offers up heroes to young readers, heroes who are actually worth looking up to. I also appreciate that this book has sparked an interest in history for my daughter, who has been eager to learn more about some of the historical figures that star in this novel. Any work of fiction that that spurs my children to learn more about the real world is always appreciated, especially one steeped in faith as well.

When asked what rating this book should receive, my 10-year-old daughter was adamant that it receive a full 5 out of 5 stars. Who am I to argue with an expert such as her? 5 out of 5 stars it is!

Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher and the Booklook Blogging program for the purposes of the unbiased review.

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Through Waters Deep (Waves of Freedom Book #1) by Sarah Sundin

Cover Art

about the book....

War is coming. Can love carry them through the rough waters that lie ahead?

It is 1941 and America teeters on the brink of war. Handsome and outgoing naval officer Ensign Jim Avery escorts British convoys across the North Atlantic in a brand-new destroyer, the USS Atwood. On shore, Jim encounters Mary Stirling, a childhood friend who is now an astute and beautiful Boston Navy Yard secretary. 

When evidence of sabotage on the Atwood is discovered, Jim and Mary must work together to uncover the culprit. A bewildering maze of suspects emerges, and Mary is dismayed to find that even someone close to her is under suspicion. With the increasing pressure, Jim and Mary find that many new challenges--and dangers--await them.

my review....

The first book in the "Waves of Freedom" series sets the bar high for those books that are to follow. The writing is crisp, the characters are likeable and unique, and the story has plenty of twists and turns to hold your attention throughout. In fact, I read the entire novel in one evening because I had to find out how things ended! Mary and Jim both grow in an amazing way throughout the course of the novel, with each realizing that they need to use the gifts God has given them to make a difference in the world and not shy away from letting their lights shine. I enjoyed not only the twists and turns in the development of their relationship, but also the intrigue that plays out over the course of the story as Mary's sleuthing ways lead her into a very dangerous situation. Jim's harrowing experience on the USS Atwood destroyer ship likewise also made for some exciting scenes. The book has an air of authenticity that makes it clear Sundin has done her homework in researching the setting of the story and the tension permeating the country before the United States joined World War II. I found the historical setting to be a fascinating one, and the author has created quite the interesting plot indeed. As a male reader of this story, I also appreciated that the romance isn't over the top in any way, but rather unfolds in a very realistic manner (though don't worry - the ending will have readers sighing in appreciation for the way things unfold!).

All in all, I quite enjoyed "Through Waters Deep", from the strong characters and intrigue, to the satisfying romance and vividly portrayed historical context. I look forward to what will come next from Sundin's talented pen. I award this novel 4 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. 

 about the author....

Sarah Sundin

Sarah Sundin is the author of With Every Letter, On Distant Shores, In Perfect Time, and the Wings of Glory series. In 2014, On Distant Shores was a finalist for the Golden Scroll Awards from both AWSA and the Christian Authors Network. In 2011, Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, she works on call as a hospital pharmacist. During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist's mate (medic) in the Navy and her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force in England. Sarah lives in California with her husband and three children. Visit for more information.

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Free fiction ebook (US only): When Mockingbirds Sing by Billy Coffey

When Mockingbirds Sing, Repacked

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Friday, August 7, 2015

A beautifully written novel: Balm of Gilead by Adina Senft

Balm of Gilead

about the book...

The third installment in the Healing Grace series finds young Amish widow Sarah Yoder facing her greatest challenge--herself.

Sarah Yoder hasn't seen Henry Byler since he became engaged to an Englisch woman, which is best for her peace of mind. Since Henry never joined the Amish church, any relationship but a neighborly one is impossible. So she stays busy with her family, welcoming her son back from the ranch he's been working on in Colorado, doing a little matchmaking for her sister-in-law, and making the teas and tinctures that heal the members of her church.

Then Henry seeks her out, desperate for a balm for his sensitive hands before his success as a potter is jeopardized, and Sarah must call on every ounce of strength to deny the cry of her heart. Yet there is Someone who just might have a special cure in mind-a healing balm with the power to change everything. But with Henry's wedding only weeks away, is it already too late?

my review...

“Balm of Gilead” is a beautifully written novel that gently draws readers back into the lives of Sarah Yoder and the Amish community that surrounds her. The story continues to follow Sarah in her discovery of who God has made her to be and what her place is in the world, and it does so in a way that isn’t afraid to explore both the blessings and the challenges of being Amish.  Senft’s characters are richly drawn and are so endearing I guarantee you won’t be able to get enough of them! I think what I most love about this novel, and indeed the entire series, is that the author depicts Sarah as someone with all the same sort of struggles readers can relate to in their own lives, even though Sarah’s Amish setting may be foreign to most of us. Sarah struggles with insecurities and with heartache, with knowing when to speak up and when to allow God to move. And we can all learn from her humble attitude, which always seeks forgiveness when she’s committed a wrong.

I not only enjoyed Sarah’s story, but also the many different subplots woven into the book. But really it’s the drama Sarah finds herself in, whether dealing with her children or her forbidden relationship with her Englisch neighbour Henry, that especially kept me turning the pages from start to finish. As I came to the final chapter, I found myself smiling at how things had been resolved, but also feeling a bit saddened that this is likely the last story we will be treated to from the Healing Grace series.

With wonderful characters and a well-crafted plot, “Balm of Gilead” is another solid addition to Senft’s collection. I award this story a high recommendation and 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher, Faithwords, for the purposes of this unbiased review.

about the author...

Adina Senft grew up in a plain house church and was often asked if she was Amish. (The answer was no.) She holds an MFA in writing popular fiction from Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania, where she is part of the adjunct faculty. Between books, Adina enjoys playing the piano and Celtic harp, making historical costumes, and spoiling her flock of rescued chickens.

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