Wednesday, May 30, 2012

It's a God Thing...Review

Title:  It’s A God Thing!
Author:  Larry Baker & Becky Lyles
Pages:  170
Publisher:  Perpedit Ink
Year:  2011
Note:  I received a complimentary copy from the author for an honest review and opinion.
                Lately it seems that I have read a lot of books ranging from deep nonfiction to nice, enjoyable fiction.  Here I share about It’s A God Thing!  This is about a man who shares through the use of stories what God has done in and through him.  It isn’t boasting in himself, but in the Lord.  The only real name in the book is his own, Larry or Lar, as he is known by many in the area where he ministers to one and all.
                Is Larry a pastor, lay minister, a man who has it all together?  Well, in a simple word no.  Larry shares in brief a few tragedies that God used to get him to realize that though he was an ex- Marine, he needed the Lord.  There was a particular time in his life where God clearly showed him that without God, he couldn’t do a thing.  We all need to be reminded of this truth as well, and also learn from what Larry experiences next.  What does he experience next?
                This is where the book really takes off as Larry shares openly, briefly, and without using real names how God called him to go where most won’t go.  Larry has known a vast array of people from curious backgrounds.  Some have walked with God.  He is brought to those who are seeking.  Larry is carrying on in his job, which was what his father did as well, the gift of being a true friend to those who consider themselves unlovable.
                The chapters catch the attention of the reader as well as the heart.  At the end of this brief book, Larry shares what he entitled “Friendship 101” followed by some of his “Personal Notes.”  Never in the book will he make you feel like you have to do what he is being led to do.  He only challenges one and all to follow the prompting of The Holy Spirit in whatever God has given you to do.  Though brief, I hope you will find encouragement in this book to go where God leads you, to touch others in His name and for the Kingdom of God.  My personal rating of this book is five stars.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Finding our Way Home review

Title:  Finding Our Way Home
Author:  Charlene Baumbich
Pages:  336
Year:  2012
Publisher:  WaterBrook Press
Note:  I received a complimentary copy for review from Blogging for Books.  Others written by this blogger can be read at or follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988.

                Two women from very different backgrounds, experiences, social status, and a generation apart find themselves together in a small town.  One is a former ballet dancer who grew up in that same small town long before the young lady now living with her had been born.  Both of them are worlds apart in attitude, class, and personality.  So why are they together?  How do they ever cross the going from a business relationship to almost being like a mother and daughter boundary after becoming friends?
                The author does a stunning job writing her story with humor, as well as knowledge of ballet.  Evelyn is the 19-year-old free spirit of a girl who speaks her mind in a no nonsense way.  Sasha is a thirty-something ballerina who has had a terrible accident.  Through the pages we follow Sasha’s long and arduous journey to find meaning in her life in ways other than in the world of dancing.  One is a married woman, the other an engaged woman.  In different parts of the story, we see conflict within themselves and their lives as well as between each other, but why?
                One lost her mother a short time back, and her father has been gone for years now.  The other has both parents living, but there is friction there too.  Evelyn is a talented artist, business smart, and a reader of any and all topics.  Sasha has never had time to read before.  What are they seeking?  Is it the same thing--trying to find purpose in life?
                Who are Jordan and Donald?  Are they two of a kind or worlds apart in many ways?  What does a snow globe with a ballerina inside have to do with the women?
Grace.  When you hear this word what picture comes to mind?  Have you experienced grace at all?  Was it in good times, bad times or both?  Well, grab this wonderful novel, a comfy blanket and lose yourself in the story.  I did and it was well worth it!
My rating:  Five stars.

Meet author Becky Lyles

This week I will post reviews of all 3 and giveaways of all 3 books below!
So come back and enter the contest later this week to win!

It’s a God Thing!
Inspiring Stories of Life-Changing Friendships

Larry Baker with Becky Lyles

When it seemed the best years of his life were over, Larry Baker gained a new passion for living through unexpected, life-changing friendships and adventures. He invites you to join him in the daily exhilaration of discovering the surprises and relationships God has waiting for each of us, just around the corner.

On a Wing and a Prayer
Stories from Freedom Fellowship, a Prison Ministry

Becky Lyles

The night God told Donna Roth he was sending her to jail to share his love with incarcerated individuals, she said, “Lord, you have the wrong house!” She had no experience or interest in prison ministry; yet, she was obedient, and Freedom Fellowship was formed. "On a Wing and a Prayer" features stories of inmates who found freedom inside prison walls through the ministry of Freedom Fellowship.


Winds of Wyoming
A Kate Neilson Novel
 Rebecca Carey Lyles

Fresh out of a Pennsylvania penitentiary armed with a marketing degree, Kate Neilson heads to Wyoming anticipating an anonymous new beginning as a guest-ranch employee. A typical twenty-five-year-old woman might be looking to lasso a cowboy, but her only desire is to get on with life on the outside—despite her growing interest in the ranch owner. When she discovers a violent ex-lover followed her west, she fears the past she hoped to hide will trail as close as a shadow and imprison her once again.

Though debut novelist Rebecca Carey Lyles grew up in Wyoming, she and her husband, Steve, currently live in the neighboring state of Idaho. She enjoys the creativity and beauty that abound throughout her adopted state as well as opportunities to hike, camp, snowshoe and cross-country ski in the midst of God’s grandeur. Favorite outdoor experience: While hiking in the Wyoming mountains one summer, she came nose-to-nose (well, ten-feet apart!) with a beautiful white wolf. Currently, she’s working on a Winds of Wyoming sequel titled Winds of Freedom.;

Friday, May 25, 2012

Praying with the Grain Nonfiction Review

Title:  Praying With the Grain
Author:  Dr Pablo Martinez
Pages:  160
Year:  2012
Publisher:  Monarch Books
Note:  I received a complimentary copy from Kregel for an honest review.  Follow more reviews via Twitter @lcjohnson1988 or

                In this short book there are 5 chapters, divided into two main parts:  The Psychology of Prayer and The Apologetics of Prayer.  This book is a revised edition originally published in 2001.  Being an avid reader, there are many books that I find can cover a vast array of opinions as well as topics.  During my college years I had to take some psychology classes that weren’t all that exciting or interesting.  Others find psychology interesting and of value to them.  I don’t want to address any of that in this review; I just want to mention it as this book may be of help to them.
                Dr. Martinez has an interesting perspective that he expresses throughout the book.  It isn’t that there aren’t a couple of points that were worth reading, because there are.  However, I strongly disagree with any author who takes man’s ideas and then brings in Scripture or looks at Biblical characters from another era and culture with 21st century psychological ideologies.  The book starts out laying the foundation that how one prays is in accordance to a person’s temperament and personality.  Before the reader gets to this first chapter, the two pages that contain “The Introduction to the First Edition” state the author’s three purposes for writing his book.
                While the heart of the author and his ideas may be of some help to the readers, the book is pretty discouraging to me.  I found my mind wondering while just trying to grasp where the doctor was going and learning the conclusions being drawn.  Upon reading the few who wrote their reviews of this book, most rated it very highly.  I find though that this book lacks the perspective of looking at prayer through the eyes of Scripture first before using any of man’s ideas of a psychiatrist, psychologist, or any field of study.  It is inherently dangerous to begin looking at prayer from a horizontal perspective first and then looking vertically.  Therefore, my rating of this book is 2 stars for the few good points that the author makes.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Read "Strings of Color"

Title:  Strings of Color

Author:  Marian L. Thomas

Pages:  368

Year:  2012

Publisher:  LB Publishing

Note:  I received a complimentary copy for my honest review from the author.


                What an amazing story!  I’ve got to say it took one day to read; I simply couldn’t put it down!  I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read it at first because I was “judging a book by its cover.”  The cover is beautiful, but I didn’t know anything about the author, story line, and I couldn’t tell by the cover what the book was going to be about.  I am glad that I pushed forward and read this novel.  This was the first book for me from this author, having never heard of her before.  This is her third book with another to come out in the spring of 2013.

                Marian L. Thomas tells a wonderful story that has many threads running through it, threads of many different colors.  The characters are more intertwined than you can imagine, as is the story line.  There are surprises, twists and turns, and intrigue that keep you turning the pages until the end!  Within the story line we learn about how two women are invariably tied deeper than they thought.  In what way are they connected?  The answer will surprise you.  One woman is a successful singer who loses her husband, the love of her life.  The other woman lost someone she loved before she was able to tell him how she felt.

                There is a journalist who wants to tell a story only to find more worth living for than the story he longs to write.  It is a story that includes being honest with a tragedy that happened and learning how to face some ugly truths.  Besides all this, many of the characters learn how to overcome their fears and find reconciliation through forgiveness.  This all sounds pretty generic doesn’t it?  Perhaps a quote from the book that I found encapsulates the threads coming together, Chapter 19 (page 297):  ”The pain of truth is hard to swallow.  It’s hard to bear and even harder to live through, or with.  The pain of truth hurts deep in your gut, it causes your insides to ache and your heart—and you simply feel as if it no longer exists.”

                I plan on finding Marian’s other two novels to read and look forward to the one being released in 2013.  Strings of Color gets a 5-star rating from me.  Well done, Marian.  Keep writing!


Meet and Awesome Author and her work!

Author Biography: Marian L. Thomas lives outside Atlanta, Georgia and is also the best-selling author of two Clean Fiction novels, Color Me Jazzmyne and My Father's Colors. Avid readers have embraced Marian's ability to move the heart and stir the mind with her dramatic style of writing. The author has been a frequent guest on radio shows, nominated for many industry awards and interviewed by numerous newspapers and magazines. Marian is working on her next novel, Colors That Bloom, which is scheduled for release in April 2013.

7 Completed Questions:
·         When did you begin to realize you wanted to write? - "In high school. I wrote the first draft of Color Me Jazzmyne . Of course, over the years it took on many revisions until I finally threw it away and started over. The only thing I kept was the main character's name, Naya Monà."

·         Tell us about your journey to publication.- "I  started writing in college on what I would call a more serious level. I wrote for the school paper covering news and sports. Then life hit me like a whirl wind and writing to a back seat. I got married, purchased a home, adopted a dog and so forth. Twenty  years later, I finally held my first published novel in my hand. Today, I am proud to still be on that journey with the release of my third book."

·         Are you a full-time writer? If no, when do you find it best to write? - "No, I wish. It's a goal that I look forward to one day achieving. I tend to do most of my writing at night when everyone else if fast asleep, including my dog. 
·         What are your favorite books? - "Most people find it hard to believe that I am more of a "movie watcher" than book reader. The last book I read that I really enjoyed was by Christina Schwarz. It was called Drowning Ruth."

·         What do you think about digital books? - "They are a great way to get a book in 30 seconds or less. Sure there will be avid readers who will still crave the print edition in their hands, however, the age of reading books via a digital device is not something that is going to go away by any means. I for one, am glad of that fact."

·            What is your favorite thing about being an author? - "Visiting book clubs. At first, I was not really embracing that part of my journey because it's hard for me to open up around a group of individuals that I am not familiar with. However, something happens when you walk into a group of women who not only understand your struggles but embrace your pen, appreciate your passion and support your journey."

·            What do you want readers to get out of your books? - "That as women, it's our inside that colors us, not the color of our skin. Each of us has a crayon box of life that is filled with our attitude toward the life we have at present, the life we've lead in the past and the life we desire in the future. Our box also contains our reflections, journeys, pains, loves and even disappointments. These all help define what we are made of on the inside.  As women, we can either allow the people in our life to color us or we can determine our own colors. We have to choose to make our inside beautiful so that the colors in our box of life, will be also.


Author Site:
Publicist Email Address:

Purchase Links:
Amazon & Kindle:
Barnes & :
Book Trailer :

Book Synopsis:
Life can grab a hold of you like captivating strings of color. It is a lesson that
four women will learn as they each travel down a journey filled with lies, betrayal, and shocking secrets.

Simone. Is immensely talented, yet everything she has ever known will be ripped
apart. Her love will be tested. Her heart will call out for a strength that could
only exist in moments like this, and her tears will carry her through the storm.
Will she be able to give her heart to the love of her life while fighting to open
her heart to a mother she has never known?

Naya. While facing her greatest loss, will she be able to find the key to strength, the will to continue on, and the endurance to make it through one of the darkest moments in her life?

Monà. Within her heart is a secret so deep that it could shake the very
foundations of two lives. Will she be able to finally look into the eyes of a
daughter she has only known from a distance?

Misty. Two paths are set before her; one could lead her back to the life of fame and prominence, which she so desperately wants; and the other could give her the love she so desperately needs. Will she choose the path that is best for her future, or for her heart?

Excerpt of your book

Chapter 1

onight I almost died…Naya thought to herself.
As she walked into her foyer, she dropped her purse, removed her shoes, and slowly allowed her eyes to follow the curve of the stairway until they met up with the oil painting, which hung in the center.
Wrapped in a thick walnut wood frame, painted in the soft hues of crisp blues, creams, and specks of red, were herself and Chris.
His chest stuck proudly out. His smile was as wide as the sunshine. His blue eyes sparkled with the color of the ocean. Arms wrapped around her waist.
Chris. She could feel her fingers reaching out to toward him.
She remembered that day. How good it felt to be his wife.
The tears began to run down her cheeks as the weight of the day caused her legs to surrender to the pull of the rich mahogany wood floor.
Trembling. Heart pounding.
I’ve got to catch my breath, she whispered to herself.
Ten seconds later, she began to scream. The walls responded. The chandelier shook as the realization of what had happened began to sink deep into the pit of her stomach.
Less than two hours ago…I was sitting in a worn out chair watching a spider crawl up the wall. I had listened to the splatter of raindrops beat against the dirty windows. I had been staring at the moon for hours. Staring at the walls and then counting the tiny cracks in the floor. There were three hundred and forty-two. Crying for what seemed like days.
My tired body was heavy, ragged and empty. The whiff of dirty mop water had consumed my lungs and I had often found myself dabbing frantically at the corners of my red and swollen eyes. The lights had been dimed and the curtains slightly drawn shut but I could still see him.
Every touch we shared had flashed in my mind, every smile and every kiss.
I could hear the machines.
As I sat there, I remember feeling like my heart had begun to mix with the slow and methodic beeping noises they made.
My mind had just about settled and my eyes had finally closed when I heard it.
The noise penetrated the entire room.
Louder and louder it got, like a banging in my head. I began to scream as I ran to him and wrapped my fingers around his bed rail.
“Chris!” I shouted.
My body was calling out for strength. Darn near begging for it.
For him, I would give everything, anything. I would reach down into bottomless wells just to find a speck of it.
“Find me strength; find the darkness that I am in,” I kept repeating over and over in my mind.
A teardrop fell upon his face.
The doors flew open. Three nurses came charging in.
One tried to pry my fingers from his bedside but I fought with all that I had to hold on.
I was like a mad woman. I kept thinking that if he could just feel my touch, it would give him the strength to fight.
“Please ma’am,” she said to me. “You’ve got to let go so we can try to save him.”
I had watched her lips moving, but my mind had failed to register the reality of the situation I was in.
“Let go ma’am, we’re losing him.” The tone of her voice had finally broken through and I somehow began to find myself again.
I remember staring at her, and then back at him. I remember thinking to myself, “Did I hear her right?”
Dizziness hit me like the strike of a lightning bolt. My palms had begun to sweat.
“Ma’am” She said again.
Finally—I blinked.
“Please save my husband,” I whispered.
“We’re trying ma’am, but you’ve got to let go.” The nurse had been forceful but kind.
My fingers let go but my heart was still with him as I was gently moved out of the way.
There was rapid movement, loud voices, and machines being brought in.
I stood against the wall clutching my shirt and watching his motionless body.
When the doors flew open again, the doctor rushed in.
I think she glanced my way for a moment. But now I can’t remember.
What I do remember is that there was no slow and methodic beeping noise from the machine penetrating deep into my ear lobes anymore. It had vanished as if it had somehow been carried off into the wind.
“Come back, Come back.” I whispered.
I wanted to hear it again. I needed to hear it again.
His blanket was pulled back; a nurse was cutting open his gown. I watched as the scissors graced his skin. A chill came over me.
Strong and forcefully tears began to streak down the sides of my face.
The doctor was yelling, or was that me? I think I remember the doctor’s voice.
“On my count of three, go.”
“He’s still not responding.”
“Get the machine ready again!”
“It’s ready Doctor.”
Still the machine was silent.
“Come back beeping noise. I won’t complain about you anymore. Please come back to me.”
I stared at the window as if it would open and the sound would return.
There was nothing. Not one single beep!
Fear and anticipation filled the air as more nurses and doctors came rushing in.
The last thirty years of my life was slipping out through the crevices of my fingers.
“Try again!” The doctor shouted.
At that moment, the love of my life was leaving me.
“Doctor, he’s not responding,” a young nurse stated.
“I said try again!”
“Yes Doctor.”
This was the moment, the moment when I went into a panic. The moment I pushed past them all and ran to the foot of his bed. I began to scream at him uncontrollably.
“Come on Chris, fight baby. You can do it. Please Chris, I need you. Please baby. Fight Chris. Fight for me!”
My mind was searching for something and then I knew. I knew what I needed to do.
I began to sing.
I put every drop of what he loved about my voice into those lyrics and I allowed them to sink deep into his ears, his mind, and I prayed that they penetrated into his heart and made it beat again.
Still the machine didn’t make a sound.
A nurse placed her hand over her mouth. I watched her as I sang.
Tears were falling down the corners of her cheeks.
“Don’t you dare give up on him, “I kept thinking.
The doctor stepped closer; the tears were racing down her face.
“Do it again!”
The nurse moved quickly to the other side.
I didn’t care. I didn’t care about any of them. For me, the rest of the world didn’t exist, just me and my Chris. He was my love, my husband and friend.
I closed my eyes, and rested my hands firmly upon his heart. My tears graced the top of his chest. I pushed my voice, pushed my heart, and dared my throat to let go and expose just how I felt about this man.
Everyone there needed to know. They needed to know so that they too would fight. They too would hold on. They wouldn’t give up, nor would they ever give in.

© 2011 All rights reserved. Book Excerpt Reprinted by Permission of Marian L. Thomas, author. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author's written permission. Copyright infringement is a serious offense. This excerpt is used for promotional
  purposes only.