Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Unpardonable Objective



Title:  The Unpardonable Objective (The Blackwell Chronicles #1)
Author:  James T. and Cynthia A. Runyon
Pages:  295
Year:  2011
Publisher:  WestBow Press
                Unpardonable as defined by Webster’s means not to be forgiven.  There are characters in this story to which this word can be applied for what appear to be vastly different reasons.  Is there anything that can’t be forgiven?  The plot is part adventure, part action and part futuristic with other themes also present.  The setting is Washington D.C. and ancient Israel.
                Hudson Blackwell is a Christian, husband, father and Secret Service Agent.  He is training for a top-secret mission involving technology that will change the world.  The doctor of physics who created this technology has just committed suicide the day before this technology was going to be unveiled to top-level government officials and a few scientists.  Agent Blackwell finds it hard to believe the doctor would kill himself at this point in his life.  As he begins to investigate, he discovers the doctor was murdered.  He also discovers the identity of the assassin and proceeds to track him down.  As he locates the assassin in the lab where the doctor’s time machine awaits final testing, the assassin escapes into the machine and into the past.  Agent Blackwell learns of another target of the assassin and recruits Dr. Todd Meyers, a well-known archeologist and professor of ancient studies as well as a Christian, to help guide Hudson on their journey into the past to stop the assassin before he takes out his target.
                Agent Blackwell and Dr. Meyers survive being shot at, time travel, attempts on their lives, crawling through tunnels, culture shock and much more in their attempt to foil the assassin.  Along the way, these two form a strong bond as Christian brothers intent on accomplishing their mission, but more importantly glorifying God.  They must rely on Him to provide for them as circumstances force them to leave behind their bag of resources to help them in their new time.  One chapter in particular brings these brothers to their knees and brought tears to my eyes while reading it…very emotional.
                I don’t want to tell readers the time travel destination as it might give away some of the plot.  The story is full of action, turns and twists in the plot, faith under extreme pressure and so much more.  There is also someone behind the scenes, who has trained and paid the assassin for this specific journey.  Who is it?  What is their agenda?  The conclusion is open-ended and will leave you wanting more.  The next book in the series is titled, The Terminal Inception.  I can’t wait to see what Hudson’s next adventure will be!  This one was pure adrenaline and shouldn’t be missed!
My rating is 5 stars.
Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/ .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457

Wayfinding Bible from Tyndale House






Title:  The Wayfinding Bible
Pages:  1522
Year:  2013
Publisher:  Tyndale House Publishers, Inc
Before I share with you what I believe to be an awesome rejuvenating publication, let’s discuss what makes this unique.  First, when most people approach the Bible the first question they ask is, “Where do I start?”  Let’s face it, it can be intimidating whether one is a seasoned reader or brand new.  Second, people might think that the Bible is antique or out of touch and has nothing to offer people living today.  True, the Bible is the oldest publication around, but unlike other books this one is God inspired and very relevant to us today.  So where do we go from here?
When I requested a copy to review, it was for curiosity reasons along with investigating the New Living Translation.  If we are honest with ourselves we all have a favorite version or perhaps other features we like that make it special to us.  So what I am going to ask you readers to do is just approach this review with an open mind.  Frankly, that is how I approached this myself.  No matter what any of us do or where we live, our hearts have a naturally inquisitive characteristic.  For some, they just flip through it at a store perhaps and steal a glance, then either purchase a copy or place it back on the shelf.
As I opened the Bible, I took time to quickly scan through the pages and when I did, I wanted to know more about this Wayfinding Bible.  As travelers, regardless of the method of travel, we all depend on signs to direct us to the location we need to be in order to arrive safely at the final destination.  We not only want to arrive safely, we all would like to get there with the least amount of frustration as possible.  True? 
After glancing through the pages, I went back to the beginning and read, “The Wayfinding Bible User’s Guide, About the Wayfinding Bible and Introduction to the New Living Translation” sections.  Since that night I was meeting with a friend, I thought I would show her the Bible too.  Her reaction was a mirror of mine; we both liked the approach and appreciated the time and effort people poured into this translation.  It took years and teams of people from all walks of faith to come together with the sole purpose of helping others find God through reading the Bible.  What has been published is to me a very encouraging and helpful Bible for everyone.
I love studying the Word of God, but reading it through yearly has been a struggle for me over the 30 years I have been His.  In 2013, I will have read through it for the first time and I rejoice to have completed a long desire of my heart.  Now, in 2014, I will be reading through it again only this time with The Wayfinding Bible.  On page 1451, there is a section called, “Thru-Hike”, a term I learned that hikers use when walking the length of long trails.  What I love about the introduction to this section is the encouragement to keep going, even if something in life happens to sidetrack me.  It reminds me to pick up where I am and continue my journey.  Now how cool is that!
There are three ways one can read through the Bible:  1) “A Fly Over” is 54 readings so readers get a chronological overview of the Bible; 2) “The Direct Route” is 215 readings to get a picture of how the pieces of the Bible fit together; 3) “The Scenic Route” offers 386 readings that lead the traveler deeper into the Word.  If you watch the video on this Bible, you will see there is more to the Bible than what is shared in this review, but trust me this is a unique and helpful way for us to read God’s Word.
For me, I will be doing the “The Scenic Route” in 2014, and I cannot wait to begin my new “Thru-Hike” adventure!  Regardless of what route you choose, the benefit of getting to God and His Word is immeasurable!  Will you join me for the journey?  By the way, the friend I told you about earlier is asking her husband for a copy for her for Christmas and is getting her three kids each one so they can choose their journey as well.  Come on and let’s take this hike together!  Ready?
Don’t tell my husband or sons, but they are each getting one for Christmas too! J
My rating is 5+ stars.
Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
 Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/ .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457

Thrive



Title:  Thrive (Live Like You Matter)
Author:  Lisa Toney
Pages:  192
Year:  2013
Publisher:  Abingdon Press
Those who trust in their riches will fall,
    but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf. (Proverbs 11:28 NIV)
Above is the Scripture that this nonfictional book is founded on.  The author ministers to help others learn to “thrive” in relationships, with themselves and giving to others.  I must confess these types of books aren’t on my top 10 list at all, and I haven’t ever embraced the idea of a life coach.  It is also true I have no life experience with anyone who does this type of ministry, both within the church and without.  So I am coming to the book with a presumption, but let’s face facts…we all come to books with some type of expectation or preconceived idea.
No matter how you approach what this author has to share, try as I did to be open to hear what the Lord would speak as you read.  Trust me; He is faithful and He will say something.  Be aware that only one book is perfect from beginning to end and that is the Word of God, the Bible.  So, look for the nuggets of truth or words of encouragement that Lisa has taken time to share with readers.
Let me share one nugget of truth I was able to glean from the book on page 25, “Character with integrity is found when your yes has both a positive intent and a follow-through…Our yes is a window into our integrity.  Our verbal assent is our affirmation that something is going to happen on our end.”  Very simple yet quite profound when I meditated on it and looked at my life to see if I live by what I assent to. 
As you read the book, you might have moments like I did where I saw a difference in my life, not necessarily a good one, where it wasn’t a reflection of what I believed.  There was a challenge to let Christ change me, and there were other places encouraging to me in that I continue to be steadfast, firm and resolute on living the way Christ has led me.  At the end of each chapter are discussions questions.  If you aren’t in a group, consider using the question as a spur to journal your answers.  Perhaps the way you answer might lead you to write it as a prayer or have you looking for more words of wisdom from the Bible.  It is a great way to leave a written account for those who come behind us of how Christ is alive, works in and through us and wants to do that with anyone who is open to Him.
In the end, I was pleasantly surprised by this author’s writing, and while I might still not understand exactly what a life coach is or does, I am thankful that a fellow believer shared her experiences and wisdom.
My rating is 4 stars.
Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
 Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/ .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Caroline Reckoning








Title:  Carolina Reckoning
Author:  Lisa Carter
Pages:  328
Year:  2013
Publisher:  Abingdon
Mike Barefoot is a homicide detective in Raleigh, North Carolina.  He has been assigned the Monaghan case.  Frank Monaghan has been found shot in the head in his car just a few miles from home.  Mike’s first meeting with Frank’s widow, Alison Monaghan, is when she is told for the first time about her husband’s murder.  He soon begins to rely on the God his granny had taught him about and surrenders his life to Him.  As his investigation gets underway, he becomes more and more convinced that Alison did not murder her husband.  He spends more time with her and begins discussing the case and soon they have formed a loose partnership to find the killer.  Mike grows to love Alison and her two teenage children.  However, after months pass, the killer still has not been caught and soon strikes again.
Alison Monaghan has known deep inside that her husband has been unfaithful to her many times, but now she has proof.  Then, the police show up and tell her he’s dead.  Now what is she to do?  Her husband used to take care of everything and now, after reading his will, she discovers their finances are a mess.  She needs a job, so she goes to work at a local historical site where she used to volunteer.  She is incredibly angry and hurt at her husband’s infidelity, but still feels no one had the right to kill him.  She vows to discover his killer.  As her search begins, she realizes she can’t keep doing life on her own and gives her life to the God of her best friend.  She begins reading through the Bible, attending church and praying.  She finds a peace she has never known before.  She finds love with Mike.  She also finds out who killed her husband.
I really enjoyed the plot and the mystery had plenty of twists and turns to hold my interest.  One thing I didn’t like was the two main characters almost simultaneously giving their lives to God.  I thought the chances very unrealistic to happen in this manner.  I read a lot of Christian fiction and am thankful for the Christian themes in this story, just not the timing of the conversions.  I did like the relationship between Mike and Alison’s children and his interest in their lives.  I also liked the conflict between the two males interested in gaining Alison’s affections.  I am looking forward to more mysteries from this author and hope readers will take the time to take part in this mystery.
My rating is 4 stars.
Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/ .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Glittering Promises



Title:  Glittering Promises (The Grand Tour Series #3)
Author:  Lisa T. Bergren
Pages:  443
Year:  2013
Publisher:  David C. Cook
This is the third and final installment in Lisa T. Bergren’s sweeping saga called The Grand Tour Series.  The first two books in the series, Glamorous Illusions and Grave Consequences should be read first as these are not stand-alone novels.  In this book, the last leg of the tour takes the characters to various places in Italy.
Cora is being pursued by news reporters and has gained a 51% share of a Montana copper mine.  She has become the wealthiest woman in America.  As she struggles to adjust to her newfound riches, she also must deal with her controlling father and his plans for her future.  Cora must also consider her siblings in her decisions.  Cora and Will’s relationship starts and stutters, then starts and stutters again and so on and so on, which really lasted too long.  Pierre is still trying to convince Cora to marry him.  Cora and Will’s relationship seemed to be what God wanted for them, but then human jealousy enters the picture and their relationship teeters.  Cora is also still in danger from a potential kidnapper and must be on a constant vigil against attack.  Can Will trust God to do what is best for him and Cora in regards to their relationship?  There are so many changes Cora has endured in the last few months.  Will she stand her ground against her father?
As with the second book in the series, I thought this book was too long.  Everything in the story could have been written with at least 50-75 less pages.  The length of the descriptions of places was a highlight, but also sometimes was a little long-winded.  I liked how Cora finally found a place within her family, her father, her love interest, but ultimately with her Father in heaven.  She learned to stay true to the beliefs she was raised with and saw lived out by her mother and father while on their farm in Montana.  I also thought the struggle of Will to adjust to Cora’s newfound wealth very realistic and could identify with him.  There were some unexpected twists thrown in that make the story more interesting as well.  I did like how the series ended on a happy note with all the loose ends neatly tied up.  My favorite is still the first book in the series, but if you’ve read the first two books in the series, please read this one to see how this wonderful journey ends.
My rating is 4 stars.
Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/ .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457