Friday, July 31, 2015

Thriving in Babylon


Title:  Thriving in Babylon
Author:  Larry Osborne
Pages:  224
Year:  2015
Publisher:  David C. Cook
My rating is 4 out of 5 stars.
Read any newspaper, listen or watch TV and it doesn’t take anyone too long to realize that our society has gone through a major decline.  People are hopeless.  Some are applauding actions or remarks that not too distant in the past would not have found an audience.  Babylon in our society seems to be growing by leaps and bounds.  Read the Old Testament passages referring to Babylon to help you understand the reference to life today in America.
I have noticed an increase in books referring to Babylon and some of them are quite good; others are not.  Larry Osborne has written a book with a subtitle, “Why Hope, Humility, and Wisdom Matter in a Godless Culture.”  He is referring to characteristics of a man from ancient times, a young Jewish man who was exiled to Babylon centuries ago.  While Daniel underwent intense training in many subjects, the main lesson Daniel reminds us of is that no matter what happens we can stay true to the One God we love and adore.
The book has sections titled, “Daniel’s Story”, “Prepared for battle” and “Hope: Where Courage is Birthed” to name a few.  There are actions we can take that will influence our culture and bring glory to God even if we never know the end result of what He tells us to do.  The author shows readers what Daniel did with his life in his situation and then shares with us what we can do today in our society.
You might find ideas that are challenging and that would be okay.  You may find areas in the book with which you and that is okay too.  Go to your Bible and read Daniel chapters 1-6 so you can refresh your heart and mind with God’s truth and discern what you’re reading in Thriving in Babylon.  One of the main ideas really is He hasn’t called us to run scared or silent.  He has given us Daniel as an example of what we can do or how we can live today that will impact hearts for Christ.
A friend and I have been studying Daniel for a while, long before some of these books were published.  It is no accident that authors are trying to encourage and exhort us not to hide, be silent or forget Who we serve!  We are our society’s Daniels of today.  We need to seek Him for the courage, wisdom and strength to face the furnace or lion’s den that seeks to devour our faith!  Remember as you read Daniel he didn’t know the outcome of his actions before he obeyed God.  Daniel lived a life of faith that influenced leaders of large kingdoms, and we can most certainly live a life of faith in which others will be influenced or challenged to come away from the lifelessness of Babylon to Christ, our living Hope!

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.” 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Irene Hannon's: Hope Harbor

Title:  Hope Harbor
Author:  Irene Hannon
Pages:  352
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Revell
My rating is 5 out of 5 stars.
Irene Hannon’s latest novel, Hope Harbor really captured my heart from the word go!  The male lead character is Michael and he has come to Hope Harbor to hopefully gain some peace in his troubled heart and soul.  At his first stop, he runs into problems with his motel reservation and then he knocks a young lady off her bike by accident as he is crossing the street.  He faces the young lady named Tracy, apologizing and thinking this is the end of their meeting, but alas it isn’t so!
As I discovered reading the tale of forgiveness, redemption, hope and new beginnings, my heart was captured by both the tough times some of the characters had gone through.  One of the characters named Charley runs a little food business right by the beach, selling fish tacos.  While they don’t sound pleasant to me because I don’t like fish, this Charley is a real friendly small town guy.
Tracy is part owner of a cranberry farm as well as a CPA.  Her past has left scars on her heart that cause her to run anytime someone draws near.  As readers continue to delve further into the book, so many interesting interactions take place between the hometown residents.  One of the funnier ones is the friendship between a priest and protestant pastor, especially when they go golfing.
Hope is the main theme of the story, but it is also born out of risking rejection when seeking to make amends with a person from one’s past.  I think if some of the characters didn’t risk, their hope couldn’t have been restored.  One other point I got from the book is that our God is a God of second chances, and the wisdom to know how to proceed when an opportunity presents itself for another chance in a relationship was touching.
I learned something about sea gulls too, but I will leave that for you to discover when you read this work of fiction!  I look forward to Irene’s second book in Men of Valor series coming Spring of 2016 as well as book two in the Hope Harbor series due to be released in summer of 2016.  I already have a couple of novels on my 2016 watch list!  Yeah!  Enjoy the story!

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.”

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Empires End by Jerry Jenkins


Title:  Empire’s End
Author:  Jerry B. Jenkins
Pages:  336
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Worthy
My rating is 5+ stars out of 5.
Anyone who is familiar with the Bible will enjoy reading a novelization of the man Paul and his life.  Those who haven’t read the Bible may find this novel of vast interest and willing to be open to the Gospel that is clearly shared multiple times in the book.  What I really enjoyed was how it made Paul seem that he was a man to whom God spoke and through whom He gave us portions of the written Word we have in the New Testament today.
It was curious to consider what pain, suffering, longings, joys and trails he lived through and with while traveling all across the land.  The variety of people he spoke to who both accepted his message and those who wanted nothing to do with the offer of salvation, especially through Paul’s speaking.  In the novel, it reminded me of how human Paul was and to not place him upon a pedestal, but to worship God alone.
The book begins and continues to draw readers in by making the reality of the message of God through Paul very believable.  Spread throughout the novel is Scripture and it is shown to be as natural as any other story to be shared with anyone we may come across.
Jerry Jenkins brings the ancient world to life and people to us fresh from the past to examine and consider the work God has done in and through their lives.  To think of how God spoke to Paul and trained him for the work He was calling him to, taking the Gospel to the Gentiles.  The cost to Paul we tend to forget, and this tale gives us pause to consider that anyone who takes up his cross and follows the Lord will pay a cost throughout their lives.
Empire’s End is a great read and frankly if you know of someone unwilling to read the Bible, this novel is a great way to evangelize them.  So grab a copy for your own personal library and maybe one or two to prayerfully give to those whom the Lord lays on your heart.

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.” 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Direct Hit


Title:  Direct Hit (The Blitz Detective #1)
Author:  Mike Hollow
Pages:  320
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Lion Fiction (Kregel Publications)
Inspector John Jago is in his forties and has been in his current occupation for a little more than twenty years.  He has a new partner that he is training, young Peter Cradock.  The year is 1940 and the war with Germany has accelerated.  The beginning of the bombing campaign enacted on London takes place in this story.  During one of the bombing raids, the inspector and his protégé are called to the scene of a murder.  They find identification on the body, but while waiting for the police surgeon to arrive at the scene, another bomb is launched landing directly on the crime scene, obliterating any evidence including the dead body!
As the inspector and his partner investigate the crime, asking questions of those who knew the victim, they uncover other criminal activities.  The road to justice for the victim is full of twists and turns and plenty of deception.  Another murder is committed by one of their prime suspects in the first murder, so they must rethink their line of inquiry.  Of course, there is much more going on than meets the eye with many more questions than answers.   Inspector Jago has much experience and advice to impart to detective Cradock, who views things a bit more simply the Jago.  Is Cradock naïve or is Jago just too cynical?  However, the two work well together, complementing each other while investigating crime.
I so enjoyed this new entry into the world of British mysteries!  The writing was detailed and the plot interesting.  I enjoyed the setting of London at the beginning of WWII.  The main character of Inspector Jago is haunted by his past experience of fighting in WWI.  His memories don’t hinder his work, but they are ever present in his mind as he experiences the blitz of German bomber planes shelling London repeatedly.  His belief or unbelief in God is briefly discussed in this story and maybe this theme will be developed more in future writings.  I’m a fan of British mysteries and this is one I definitely recommend.  I can’t wait for the next book!
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.” 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Fallen Sky


Title:  Fallen Angel
Author:  Major Jeff Struecker and Alton Gansky
Pages:  381
Year:  2011
Publisher:  B & H Publishing Group
Special Ops leader Eric Moyer and his team are en route to their respective homes aboard an airplane when they receive a call mid-air from their commander.  They soon are informed they are being re-routed and sent on another mission.  This particular mission is extremely dangerous and there will be no help available once the team is in country.  They are tasked with retrieving a fallen satellite with very sensitive information with a secondary mission of rescuing a captured Special Ops team if possible.
While on mission, Sergeant Major Eric Moyer receives terrible news from home that could potentially compromise him during this urgent mission.  While having to deal with the situation at home emotionally, he also must keep his head on straight to keep his team safe while fighting off special ops teams from China and an armed Russian group who are also after the satellite.
This book was fantastic!  The story was relevant to what is happening today and the characters were well-defined and three dimensional, that is easy to relate to and feel emotion toward.  The story was exciting, full of action and suspense.  I couldn’t put the book down; it was that good!  I just loved the camaraderie and teasing amongst the Special Ops team members.  I had some laugh out loud moments.  I also appreciated the very real aspect of being captured by an enemy and what may follow.  That really brought home to me the risk these brave men and women take when accepting a mission.  I am not very familiar with the military, but this gave me a new appreciation for those men and women in the armed services who put their lives on the line every day, willing to die if necessary to protect me.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all who serve our great nation!
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.” 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

"For Such a Time as This"


For Such A Time as This…
In the Old Testament, there is book named after a woman who is in the lineage of Christ, the book of Esther.  Esther was a Jewish woman who was taken from her home against her will to have an opportunity to become queen.  One night with the king would determine if this Jewish woman would be crowned queen over a nation, a nation that wasn’t Israel. 
During her time as queen a threat arose that was aimed at wiping out all Jewish people.  Her uncle challenged her to not hide and think because she was queen she would be exempt from the threat.  Here is a portion of chapter 4:12-16 (NIV):
12 When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, 13 he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape.  14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish.  And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai:  16 “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me.  Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day.  I and my attendants will fast as you do.  When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law.  And if I perish, I perish.”

We need to remember Israel and pray for her.  Now, too, we are called to pray more earnestly for America as those who have gone before us did.  We have enjoyed their prayer coverage.  I cannot speak for you, but I have been guilty of not praying for America as I believe He would have me.  Now I do though I still stumble.  So is there some devotion, book, website, etc. that you use to pray regularly for America?
For your consideration:
1.        Read the Book of Esther and see what you observe of the text.
2.        Recognize Esther as an example of how one woman who was afraid, then her uncle exhorts her, and she makes time to pray before going before the king with her handmaids
3.       Understand that we too can pray and watch God at work if we are willing
4.       Act as He directs your steps


 Please feel encouraged to share your thoughts below.  

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Refining Fire


Title:  Refining Fire (Seattle Brides #2)
Author:  Tracie Peterson
Pages:  320
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Bethany
My rating is 5 stars.
Tracie Peterson is a favorite author of mine from way back when I read her series of stories set in Alaska.  There is romance in Refining Fire, but what is more captivating is the faith exhibited by one young woman named Abrianna.  Abrianna could be referred to as a spit-fire of a woman, who has deep convictions based on the Word of God.  Now occasionally she gets herself into trouble, but her impulsiveness at times brings out the desire to act in the hearts of others.
Militine Scott is a young lady who lives at the Madison Bridal School with no living relatives.  She is woman fraught with nightmares and questions.  Militine is afraid to get near any one person for fear of being hurt, but especially men due to the abuse she suffered at the hands of her earthly father.  Militine seems like her character is a little bit skeptic with a whole lot of seeking.  I think that is probably true of many real people who have suffered abuse of all kinds.
Militine’s life is ordered and she tends to erect walls around her heart; she fears that if anyone knows her secrets they will abandon her in a heartbeat.  As I read further into the tale, it was enjoyable to watch the change that slowly came into the heart of this young woman.  Militine is not impulsive like Abrianna, but she sticks close to her side and ventures into many escapades that are dangerous.
Tracie Peterson’s writing is captivating because it isn’t all romance nor is the ending wrapped up nice and neat in a tidy bow.  There is action, adventure, questions expressed externally by characters and contemplated internally and not always easy to answer.  Throughout the book the author has the characters point to God whether they understand how God or even why God is allowing experiences to come their way.  I liked how answers weren’t always quick or spoken without any thought.  If her characters did not know the answers to inquiries, they shared their personal experiences or pointed to the Bible.  At times they even said they didn’t have the answers to some of the questions raised by other characters and isn’t that the truth for real people? 
I hope you enjoy reading Refining Fire as much as I did and will share it with someone you know who loves a good story!

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.” 

Crazy Little Thing Called Love


Title:  Crazy Little Thing Called Love
Author:  Beth K. Vogt
Pages:  368
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Howard
My rating is 5+ out of 5 stars.
“No man is an island” and for that matter neither is a woman.  In this book, you’ll discover the richness relationships can bring and the pain too.  At the beginning of each chapter is a quote, some of which will truly tug your heart maybe causing you to pause before reading further as happened with me.
I started the book on a late afternoon and read till the very end early in the morning hours.  What types of stories keep you reading?  Sometimes for me it’s the draw of a favorite author, or wondering what story lies behind the cover, or maybe even a continuation of a pervious novel published.  I am not sure that I can pinpoint one reason for staying up reading till the last page in Crazy Little Thing Called Love other than it was magnetic.
The main two characters rush off during their high school spring break to get married on the spur of the moment.  Then readers find out that not too long afterwards they get a divorce.  What is so appealing is the journey we read of these two people who are drawn to each other almost a decade later and the surprise they find of that truth after no communication in many years.
The ending will really grab your heart as the message is extremely powerful.  I continue to discover this author’s gift of telling a romantic tale that delves deeper into the heart of human beings.  I loved how forgiveness was a strong theme and learning to turn back to God when a couple of the characters learned they had strayed.
Best of all is the truth shared that any relationship takes work be that in granting forgiveness, showing mercy, prayer, or pursuing the heart of God or another person.  The other person may be a family member, friend, acquaintance, spouse, or neighbor.  Whoever it is a commitment to God comes first in order for any human relationship to grow.  Love is a crazy thing; we never know when it might be shown right there in front of our face.  I wouldn’t miss the journey for anything!

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.” 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Trail by Twelve


Title:  Trial by Twelve (Murder in the Mountains #2)
Author:  Heather Day Gilbert
Pages:  275
Year:  2015
Publisher:  WoodHaven Press
Heather Day Gilbert has written another winner!  I recently read the first book in this series, Miranda Warning, and loved it so I was really excited to buy the second book in the series to see if the mystery and adventure would continue at the same high level.  I was not disappointed!
This story takes place about 1-1/2 to 2 years after the first book.  Tess Spencer is now working part-time at a health spa to help pay off her husband’s law school loans.  Her employer has decided she wants to put in an outdoor pool at the health spa so a construction firm begins digging and soon makes a grisly discovery…a human bone.  A homicide detective is called in as it is soon discovered that there are multiple victims and they have not died natural deaths even though they did die some time ago.  The detective has heard about how Tess solved her first mystery and asks for her help on this case as she can get the inside scoop as a worker on the grounds where the bodies were discovered.  Then, another body is discovered in this mass grave; however, this body has been recently killed.
As Tess continues to ask questions to discover the identity of the serial killer, she also is dealing with raising her young daughter, the decline in health of her dear friend Miranda, her husband accepting a new job and the uncertainty of whether she still has a job at the spa or not.  Her questions soon put her in the sights of the killer.
I just love the whole Spencer family!  Nikki Jo and Roger are so generous with their time and finances and love.  Thomas is such a great example of a strong Christian husband.  Tess is growing in her faith walk with God.  I liked the incorporation of the You Tube videos on different methods of escaping various confinements.  I am definitely looking forward to the next book in the series!  These are books that are going on my “keeper” shelf for sure!
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.” 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Falcon



Title:  Falcon (The Quite Professionals #3)
Author:  Ronie Kendig
Pages:  350
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Shiloh Run Press
Salvatore Russo or Sal or Falcon as he is known to his brothers in arms on the Special Forces Team stationed in Afghanistan is angry at the world it would seem.  However, his anger is really directed at one person, Cassie Walker.  Underneath the anger though are shame, guilt and anger at himself.  He chooses to deal with his feelings in an unhealthy way, one that could get him discharged if discovered.  He has always been intense and any mission failures seen as person failures.  He is driven and completely loyal to his team.  Now that Cassie is on the scene he seems more distracted.  With a mole leaking sensitive information to an enemy, Daniel Jin, and further attempts on the lives of fellow soldiers, Falcon needs his focus more than ever.  But Cassie reveals something she has kept from him for four years and Falcon isn’t sure how he is supposed to deal with this new revelation.
Cassie Walker took this mission in Afghanistan, working for the CIA, so she could be close to Sal and hopefully receive his forgiveness.  Whenever she encounters him though he is angry with her and leaves no doubt that there will never be a future for the two of them together.  A friend Cassie knew ten years ago, but has kept in touch with, now is the means by which Daniel Jin can devastate the lives of servicemen and women everywhere.  However, Cassie has faith in her friend, who she used to think of as closer than a sister.  Has her friend really changed that much?  Is she really so cold and evil?  While on the trail of her friend and trying to free her from the clutches of Daniel Jin, Cassie is also worried about Sal and her feelings of love that she still has for him.  Will he ever forgive her?
The plot of the story kept me guessing as to the trustworthiness of a few characters until the closing chapters.  There was plenty of action, intrigue and well-developed characters.  Cassie and Sal had a physical relationship in the past, which didn’t work out at the time, but in the beginning of this story Sal couldn’t stand to even be in the same room with her.  Trust or lack thereof was a main theme in the book, and I liked how Cassie in the intervening four years apart from Sal had given her life to Christ.  She trusted Him and this His plan for her life.  There were some surprises in the story that made for a great conclusion.  I have really enjoyed this military series from Ronie Kendig and hope she keeps writing in this genre.
My rating is 5 stars.

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, July 22, 2015

Masterpiece Marriage


Title:  Masterpiece Marriage
Author:  Gina Weldon
Pages:  224 (including discussion questions and excerpt from the next book in the series)
Year:  2014
Publisher:  Abingdon Press
This book in the Quilts of Love series is set in 1891 and takes place mostly in the city of Belle Haven, Virginia.  The two main characters are Zenus Dane and Mary Varrs.  They both like routine, schedules and doing things their way, which they feel is the correct way.  However, Zenus says repeatedly that he can make adjustments and is more flexible now.  Mary Varrs fails to see the evidence of this adjustability.  Zenus is the owner of a textile mill in Philadelphia that has been flooded.  All his fabric has been ruined in his eyes until he decides to cut the fabric up and sell the scraps with a design as a quilt kit.  The only fly in the ointment is he needs to get his nationally famous quilter aunt to create an original design for him.  He travels Belle Haven to get what he thinks he wants.
Mary Varrs is in Belle Haven to complete her study of tomatoes.  She is a dedicated botanist applying for a job as a research assistant at the University of Virginia, one of the few to offer college positions to women.  In order to get her research completed, she must submit illustrations of the various tomato plants in her study in different stages of growth.  Her only problem is she is a terrible illustrator.  She receives an invitation to her next door neighbor’s quilting bee and notices a perfect drawing on the outside.  Might her neighbor be an illustrator who would draw her tomato plants for her?  Her neighbor agrees to do her illustrations in exchange for Mary attending the two-week long quilting bee at her home.  Mary is in frequent contact with Zenus Dane and they both are vying for what they want from Zenus’ aunt.  Who will prevail?
I loved this book!  The friction between the two main characters was great as was there equally appalling (to themselves) revelation that they had fallen in love with each other.  No one could be more ill-suited for them than the other.  I plan to read more books from this author as she is one of my new favorites!  This is a quick read when you’re beside the pool or sitting outside enjoying a summer day.  You won’t be sorry you took the time to read this refreshing romance!
My rating is 5 stars out of 5.

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.” 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A Bride at Last


Title:  A Bride at Last
Author:  Melissa Jagears
Pages:  368
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Bethany House
Silas Jonesy is a farmer who arrives at his estranged wife’s request to give her aid when he discovers she has died.  She left him ten years ago and he hadn’t heard from her at all until her letter of a few weeks prior.  She also left him with a son, Anthony, he knew nothing about.  However, there is another man in the picture who seems to think Anthony is his son.  Before the question of paternity can be resolved, Anthony runs away.  He seems particularly close to his teacher, Kate Dawson.  Kate and Silas search endlessly for Anthony and appear to draw close over the weeks of searching for him.  Silas wants a future with Kate, but will he be enough for her?  Everyone he has known has never wanted him for any length of time and left him all alone.  Will Kate run from him too?
Kate Dawson works as a teacher in Breton, Missouri.  She has been supporting Anthony and his mother on her meager teacher’s pay.  Anthony’s mother Lucinda has given her consent for Kate to keep Anthony as her son once Lucinda dies, which will be soon as she has consumption.  With Lucinda’s death, Kate expects to take care of Anthony whom she has come to love like a son, but she doesn’t expect two men to show up with each claiming to be Anthony’s father.  She thinks about stealing away with Anthony to live somewhere else where no one knows them.  After all, running is her specialty.
What a sweet historical romance!  The audience will read of the two main characters’ struggles with their pasts as well as the consequences of their past actions.  Then, the story shows how to the Silas and Kate put their trust in God, no matter how bleak the circumstances.  Both main characters were a delight to meet and get to know better.  Silas with his daily struggle against alcohol and abandonment and Kate with her propensity to run away and hide when things get tough show issues many can relate to.  But they both turned to God and surrendered their fears to Him.  God can and will do what is best for those who place their trust in Him!
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.” 

Monday, July 20, 2015

A Heart's Promise (Journey of the Hear tSeries #5)


Title:  A Heart’s Promise (A Journey of the Heart Series #5)
Author:  Colleen Coble
Pages:  112
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Thomas Nelson
My rating is 5 out of 5 stars.
The climax in the story of life in the wilderness in the late 1800’s is simply spell-binding!  We find a nemesis or two from earlier installments making reappearances with nothing in mind but destroying the future plans of another lady and cavalry officer.  Emmie is the central female character in this book as she now lives with her past secret from her friends in fear of rejection.
We also see how life is for Sarah and Rand who along with Jacob and his very pregnant wife Amelia.  There is also a surprise for readers who thought an earlier character was written into the fading sun, but appears here with a gift in tow.  Next month the final installment in “A Journey of the Heart” series will be released and we’ll get to read the exciting conclusion to the characters, setting and tale we’ve come to love.

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.” 


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

No Safe Harbor

Bethany House Publishers (October 1, 2012)

by

Elizabeth Ludwig


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




Elizabeth Ludwig is an award-winning author whose work has been featured on Novel Rocket, the Christian Authors Network, and The Christian Pulse. Her first novel, Where the Truth Lies (co-authored with Janelle Mowery), earned her the 2008 IWA Writer of the Year Award. This book was followed in 2009 by I'll be Home for Christmas, part of the Christmas anthology collection, Christmas Homecoming.



In 2011, her second mystery, Died in the Wool (co-authored with Janelle Mowery) was nominated for a Carol Award. In 2012, the popular EDGE OF FREEDOM series released from Bethany House Publishers. Books one and two, No Safe Harbor and Dark Road Home, respectively, earned 4 Stars from the RT Book Reviews. Book three, Tide and Tempest, received top honors with 4 1/2 Stars.



Elizabeth is an accomplished speaker and teacher, often attending conferences and seminars where she lectures on editing for fiction writers, crafting effective novel proposals, and conducting successful editor/agent interviews. Along with her husband and children, she makes her home in the great state of Texas.

ABOUT THE BOOK



The Thrill of Romantic Suspense Meets the Romance of 1800s America


Lured by a handful of scribbled words across a faded letter, Cara Hamilton sets off from 1896 Ireland on a quest to find the brother she'd thought dead. Her search lands her in America, amidst a houseful of strangers and one man who claims to be a friend--Rourke Walsh.


Despite her brother's warning, Cara decides to trust Rourke and reveals the truth about her purpose in America. But he is not who he claims to be, and as rumors begin to circulate about an underground group of dangerous revolutionaries, Cara's desperation grows. Her questions lead her ever closer to her brother, but they also bring her closer to destruction as Rourke's true intentions come to light.

If you would like to read the first chapter of No Safe Harbor, go HERE.


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Balm of Gilead


Title:  Balm of Gilead (Healing Grace #3)
Author:  Adina Senft
Pages:  320
Year:  2015
Publisher:  FaithWords
My rating is 5 stars out of 5.
Each novel in the series, Herb of Grace, Keys of Heaven and the final one Balm of Gilead are stupendous!  The main character is Sarah Yoder who is widowed when her husband is trampled by a bull he kept on their farm.  Now Sarah is on a journey of healing and discovery of what gifts the Lord has given to her and how that impacts the family.
In the final book, Sarah continues to learn healing by using herbs.  A man has moved into an Amish home that was bequeathed to him by his aunt and it is just over a small hill by Sarah’s home.  The only problem is Henry had left the Amish ways behind years ago, but his needs put Sarah in his path repeatedly.  The fun in reading the story is how each character discovers who they are which then must be followed by choosing to be Amish or become English.
While readers could read the novel by itself and for sure enjoy the tale, it is much more entertaining when read in sequence.  One interesting point in the story was the telling of why shunning occurs and the fruit it hopes to produce.  Following Sarah’s life through her character’s eyes and hearing her prayers, which included prayers of repentance, made her seem lifelike.
I also liked how Sarah’s garden reflected a unique design similar to quilts made by many people today. There is romance in the books, but also some suspense-filled moments that will grab your heart and will keep a nose in the book for many hours!  I highly recommend audiences of all ages spend time reading the author’s story that she shares for us to enjoy as well as share with other people!

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.” 

Beyond the Ashes


Title:  Beyond the Ashes (The Golden Gate Chronicles #2)
Author:  Karen Barnett
Pages:  316
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Abingdon Press
Dr. Gerald Larkspur is one of the earliest doctors involved in cancer research and treating patients with experimental means.  As of yet, he has had no success in curing any of his patients, including his own cousin.  While still grieving the death of his young cousin, he continues his research with the help of his young partner and protégé, Robert King.  Robert’s story is told in book one of the series, Out of the Ruins.  After the earthquake, which affected everyone in the city, Gerald has opened his home to his mother, Robert, his cousin’s family and soon Robert’s sister.  He always wanted a full house, but thought it would be with his own wife and children.  He doesn’t regret his decision, but it is difficult to find a place to be alone for just a little while.
Ruby Marshall is a young widow with nurses training.  She lost her husband two years ago and has sunk into numbing grief and feels she has no purpose.  She is tired of going to wedding after wedding so she decides to go to San Francisco to help her brother with her nursing skills in the hospital where he works.  When she arrives, she learns of his engagement and that she will be living in the home of a bachelor, who is her brother’s partner.  She hasn’t come looking for romance and tries her best to keep Gerald at a distance, but can’t fight her heart.  She likes to think she is in control of her life, but Gerald teaches her that God is in control and will do what is best no matter what.
I really enjoyed seeing Ruby grow in her faith, making the decision to give control of her life to God and love Gerald no matter how long they have together.  She faced her fear of losing someone else she loved, releasing that fear to God.  Gerald showed Ruby by example how to trust God first and foremost.  This served as a reminder to me as to where my trust is placed.  How about you?
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.” 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Last Heiress


Title:  The Last Heiress
Author:  Mary Ellis
Pages:  352
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Harvest House Publishers
Amanda Dunn is tasked with saving the family business and fortune when her father is too ill to travel to the United States to negotiate a contract to supply their British textile mills with cotton from the South.  However, there is one little thing going on that hampers her efforts…the Civil War.  The President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, has made it illegal to trade with England until England acknowledges and supports the Confederacy.  Also, Amanda has difficulty getting the businessmen in Wilmington, North Carolina to take her seriously.  After all, she is just a woman and really has no place in the business world.  However, Nate Cooper, owner of a local greengrocer’s store seems different.  He listens to her and takes her opinions seriously.
As time goes on, Nate and Amanda spend more time together, but are just going to be friends due to their differences in social class.  Plus Amanda plans to return to England to run the family textile mills as she is now the heir to the family business.  Nate eventually wants to sell his store and become a commercial fisherman.  So there really is no future together for them in both of their eyes as they begin their friendship.  However, the Civil War intervenes in their plans and the future is very different from what Nate and Amanda previously thought it would be.
This story for me was just so-so.  I found it unrealistic that at that time in history Amanda Dunn would have been sent to do business for her father’s company with no male council.  I also thought she became too familiar with Nate too quickly for the time period and culture differences as well as social differences.  This is marketed as a Christian book, but there are just a few brief references to God.  I also didn’t like the characters of Jackson and Abigail as one moment they were rude, arrogant and obnoxious, but then they seemed to realize the error of their ways and do something good.  I was never sure what side of the fence they were on.  I did like the setting of the story and the character of Nate Cooper.
My rating is 3 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.” 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Someday Home by Lauraine Snelling



Title:  Someday Home
Author:  Lauraine Snelling
Pages:  368
Year:  2015
Publisher:  FaithWords
My rating is 5 stars out of 5.
One of the best characteristics about Lauraine Snelling’s books is that each one is an adventure of the heart for the reader!  What the author presents is usually a heart-touching story that resounds within the soul of anyone who opens her books.  Someday Home takes on various issues of women in different circumstances in life.  I loved it, especially because the women were middle-aged women.  The house they came to live in was owned by Lyn who recently lost her husband suddenly.  Now, two years later, she is going through menopause and looking for ways to experience new adventures.
Then there is Judith who is an only child, and whose father frankly was a mean man.  Now Judith must leave her home and begin to find her way in life without being kept at her father’s beck and call.  Last, but not least there is Angela who celebrates her 25th anniversary with her husband who then drops the bomb that he has filed for divorce.  All three are broken, have issues of the heart and desires too.  All three wonder just what God has in store for them when a Bassett hound shows up needing care.  They learn to meld together as sisters and as friends.
I loved the scenery described in the book, which includes a lake.  All three ladies enjoy quiet nights listening to crickets on the deck and just chatting or being quiet.  When rough waters come, the girls learn they either draw near to God and each other or they continue to live alone.  Sometimes I chuckled at certain instances in the story and other times I felt like calling a character a jerk!  All in all though Lauraine’s novel encourages us to walk each day with our hand in God’s and that friendship is to be treasured.
Later this year Lauraine’s 4th book in the Song of Blessing series will be released and I look forward to reading it as I have read the other books in the series.  Books are a great way to enjoy time relaxing and even more fun when shared with a friend.  So visit a store, pick up Someday Home and settle back to enjoy the tale.

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.” 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Day of Atonement



Title:  Day of Atonement (A Novel of the Maccabean Revolt)
Author:  David DeSilva
Pages:  320
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Kregel
My rating is 5 out of 5 stars!
Many people know or heard of the yearly Day of Atonement, but how many know of the Maccabean war?  In the Protestant Bible, we don’t include the apocryphal books of the Maccabees as they aren’t considered inspired Scriptural, but if you read them as containing history your heart will be challenged.  The author takes readers back to that historical period where the people of Israel stood up and fought back in order to restore their God-given temple along with living according to their covenant with God.
You might consider reading the historical account before the novel so as to really appreciate and be touched by these brave people:  http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Maccabees.html
Reading what actually occurred will help you be able to distinguish fact from fiction.  As I read, I wasn’t too drawn into the story because I wanted the action I knew was coming; yet, the more I read the more my heart was touched by the characters and the courage and pain sometimes involved in standing with God. As persecution and brutality increased tenfold and the choice to either submit to the human king's demand or die holding onto their conviction of the One True God, my heart was gripped tightly!
Even in our day and age we have enemies who place the same choice before those who follow the One True God and the Lord Jesus Christ.  It may look different or sound different, but when the smoke clears it is still the same choice.  I wonder if I have that same courage to stand in faith for God or die if that was to be a reality?  I can only hope and pray that I too would choose to stand firm in my faith and denounce man’s false promises or threats.
This novel is one that I highly recommend be in a believers' homes to be read for generations.  I am not Jewish, but I am a Christian and I want to stand with Israel and her people now and always.  I want my sons and their children to be challenged by the history of Israel to stand, praise God, never denounce their faith even when faced with death.  Let today be the day that Jews and Christians together say, “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord” and then do it!

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.” 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

To Capture Her Heart


Title:  To Capture Her Heart (The Southold Chronicles Book #2)
Author:  Rebecca Demarino
Pages:  352
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Revell
My rating is 4 stars out of 5.
There are some characters originally introduced to readers in book one of the series, A Place in His Heart, that are in the sequel.  Of course, new characters are in the story of book two, which takes place in the late 1600’s; the era has a fascinating and rich history that is woven in the story.  The timing of the story shows tension between various people groups, different belief systems, and yet in some of the homes there are daily prayer and Scripture reading as a family.
Life is precarious and a day-to-day existence is the norm, and danger from warring Native American tribes brings some action into the story.  Included also is the war in England with the Dutch, which is now at an end, and the Southold community is expected to begin living in peace with their neighbors.  Some intermarriages between people from different cultures isn’t advocated at first, but the beginning of hearts turning to accept change in marriage decisions is slowly blooming.
The book held my interest because of the rich history of the people and area, which was new to me.  I enjoyed reading how fathers would rise early to lead the family in prayer and Scripture reading before members of the family dispersed to complete the daily chores their lives depended on.  The growth in the community along with changes in law required new roles mainly for the men.  The women took care of hearth and home, gathering together at harvest time to prepare food for the coming winter, or sewing for an upcoming wedding.
I thought much on how in our instant society we have lost in some way a very real awareness of our dependency on God for each day’s food, clothing, etc.  America is filled with much history that has its basis in people coming to her shores to leave a place where they couldn’t worship.  America is filled with true stories of various peoples learning to live life in peace and in community.
The author ends the book with an opening that I am sure will be continued in book three.  I didn’t locate the title of this third book, but I am excited to know that I haven’t read the last of a rich history and faith that came to America’s shores so long ago!

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.”

 https://gleam.io/TbXzj/to-capture-her-heart-book-launch" rel="nofollow">To Capture Her Heart Book Launch

To Win Her Heart


Title:  A Place in His Heart (The Southold Chronicles Book #1)
Author:  Rebecca DeMarino
Pages:  336
Year:  2014
Publisher:  Revell
My rating is 5 stars.
The story is set in the mid 1600’s, first in London, then to the new land eventually called America. In that era, arranged marriages were common place. Mary is the youngest daughter of a widower who is attempting to arrange a marriage he feels would benefit her in the long run. The eldest sister, Elizabeth, is already married with children and often helps their father understand the heart of a woman due to the fact that the mother is deceased.
Earlier in the year a local baker with two small sons also became a widower and considered marrying again mainly for the benefit of his sons. Soon, it is arranged that Mary will marry Barney and begin a new life together, one that would eventually see them crossing the ocean due to religious persecution by the Church of England.
Throughout the book I was captivated by the sometimes tense interactions between Barney and Mary as each had expectations or desires that were unmet. Barney saw Mary as a strong and compassionate woman yet it took him years to understand the deepest cry of her heart. I loved how Godly counsel was given to the couple; they worked through the hardest times of marriage, especially when they found themselves in the wilderness far from friends and family.
For months Mary hears not a word from her family in England nor do they hear from Mary. We take for granted the speed with which we can communicate and contact our friends and loved ones today. The work to survive and thrive in that era was from sun up to sundown and it took all of the family members to pool their work load for daily living and for the winter months.
I loved the 12_day celebration of Christmas mentioned in the novel and how Barney along with others wanted the church to rid them of all the pomp and cling solely to the Word of God. Reading historical novels such as this should remind us of how blessed we are and how much we still need to work together for a community to thrive in all seasons of life. I cannot wait for the sequel, which I will be reading next, then share with you what the author offers her audience in To Capture Her Heart released July 2015.
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.”


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Gone without a Trace

Title:  Gone Without a Trace (Logan Point #3)
Author:  Patricia Bradley
Pages:  329
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Revell
Alex Jennings is a private investigator who has just been handed his first case to work solo.  He has been assigned the task of finding a wealthy man’s granddaughter who has gone missing.  Alex is also dealing with his own wealthy grandfather who wants him to take the bar exam to become a lawyer.  Alex likes being a PI as well as a flying instructor and has no intention of ever becoming a lawyer.  As Alex investigates his case, he discovers many similarities to another missing woman’s case.  This woman’s cousin, Livy Reynolds, is a homicide detective.  She has been unsuccessful in finding her missing cousin, but agrees with Alex that the two cases bear looking into together.
Livy Reynolds has decided to take a leave of absence from her job as a detective so as to concentrate on finding her missing cousin.  She initially thinks of Alex as just a PI and kind of beneath her professionally speaking, but after she gets to know him a little better changes her mind.  Livy really doesn’t have time in her life for a romantic relationship as all she does is work, but Alex makes her realize she has no other life outside her job.  Will Alex follow through on his word or disappoint her as her father has so many times before?
I have really enjoyed this romantic, suspense, and mystery filled series.  The characters are ones each reader can identify with and root along with them as they track down the criminals and serve up justice.  I like the faith elements included in each story as well.  They are woven into the story so as not to brow beat the reader, but do show the characters’ faith in God.  I hope there will be another exciting series from this author.  Pick up a copy for an entertaining afternoon!
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.” 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Patterns of Evidence



Title:  Patterns of Evidence
Studio:  Thinking Man Films
Website:  http://www.patternsofevidence.com/en/
Year:  2015
My rating is 5+ stars out of 5.
First, I have to say that normally I am not one to watch a documentary; I learn best usually via printed material.  However, for whatever purpose, God really led me to sit down and watch the DVD from beginning to end.  There aren’t enough words to express how astounding and encouraging it made me feel at the end.  I knew that Timothy P. Mahoney was a seeker when he made this film.  He was honest enough to say he really didn’t want to have anything to do with making a film.  What kept him going on were the thoughts and questions that continued to stir up his heart and mind and without these answers he wouldn’t be able to walk away.  For me, that is the Spirit of God working on his heart.
I continued to be astounded by how Timothy traveled to various places to interview individuals and to look at or read documents or books that have been around for decades.  As Timothy would respectfully question learned men who are “experts” in their field, he listened attentively.  Timothy would then review repeatedly what he just learned, draw up his questions and resume his search for answers. Timothy tells us what he doesn’t know about the many fields he seeks answers from and how he is just a film maker.  That to me is evidence of a humble man.
Timothy shares the wealth of information he gleaned and the scenes filmed, pictures of places he went too in an attempt to see if the Exodus account is verifiable.  He worked with a team who helped in ways he doesn’t share, but lets us know it was a team of people with questions, wanting answers.  The most amazing fact is that even with Timothy presenting the evidence to individuals he had interviewed before, some of them wouldn’t change their point of view.  When I heard this, I was reminded of Jesus’ words that he spoke saying that even if people were to rise from the dead, people wouldn’t believe.  We read in Luke 16: 31,    Read the context of this verse in Luke 16: 19-31 and meditate on the Word of God.
I respect and enjoyed listening to the various people Timothy sought out to help him in his quest for answers.  It was with a heart that not only learned for his own personal faith, but for that of his children and children’s children.  No matter how much education a person has, does not mean these experts and specialists are without error.  Only God’s Word is without error.  In fact, we are told that God doesn’t lie; He is incapable of such an act.  The Spirit of God can speak to anyone at any place at any time without regard to education, money, success or failure, etc.  Those things are our ways of measurement, not His. 
So when you view this DVD I ask a few of things of you.  1) Remember God turned the world upside down with unlearned men.  Jesus took ordinary fisherman and empowered them with the Spirit to stand before many well-educated people and defend their belief in Jesus.  “ (Acts 4:13); 2) Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-31.  Here Paul tells us how God can speak through those whom the world may consider ignorant or foolish; 3) Watch the DVD and then consider what is presented.  Look in the Bible, read the Bible, discuss questions with others or talk about what God speaks to you.
Now more than ever we need to learn, teach, stand up and speak up with humility and our words seasoned with grace.  Our responsibility is to obey Him.  The results are up to that individual and God.  The DVD “Patterns of Evidence” is a tool, and for that I am grateful for unless it is used nothing will happen.  So what will you do?

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.” 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Blessing


Title:  Blessing (Quaker Brides #2)
Author:  Lyn Cote
Pages:  378
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
Blessing Brightman is a young, wealthy, Quaker widow who runs an orphanage, helps the Underground Railroad and is active in the women’s suffrage movement.  She was married at 18 and quickly discovered her husband was not the charming man who courted her.  She was widowed six years later with her husband dying under suspicious circumstances according to some.  She meets Gerard Ramsay at a suffragist meeting and they clash, but he intrigues her and challenges her.  They have more contact with one another as Gerard’s cousin and Blessing’s best friend are courting.  They have stimulating conversations and soon Blessing fears she has lost her heart to this man even though he isn’t a Quaker.
Gerard Ramsay comes to Cincinnati to talk some sense into his cousin regarding infatuation with a young woman.  He plans to warn him of the dangers of marriage.  Gerard has no plans to ever marry and thinks his cousin should follow the same path.  He is unwittingly and unwillingly dragged to a suffragist meeting.  He is not a supporter of the rights of women and wants nothing to do with Blessing Brightman.  She is too forward and a Quaker to boot!  He stays in Cincinnati to avoid his father’s plans to marry him off to a Boston banker’s daughter.  He meets with a man “in the know” for some names of men willing to invest in his idea of a horse racing track just outside the city.  Gerard runs into trouble with this man who begins to target Gerard for public humiliation and loss of reputation.  He begins to understand the influence Blessing has had on his life, but are they really compatible?
This is a wonderful story of a strong woman of faith.  Blessing lives out her faith every day with compassion, generosity and love of other above herself.  She treats everyone with respect and wants all to come to know the love of God.  Both this book as well as Honor, book one in the series, are great stories of faithful women, living out their faith for others to see.  I can’t wait for the third book in the series, Faith, available in the spring of 2016.
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.” 

Letters from My Father's Murderer by Laurie Coombs


Title:  Letters from My Father’s Murderer
Author:  Laurie A. Coombs
Pages:  232
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Kregel
My rating is 4 stars out of 5.
As I read the book, I was reminded of the recent tragedy in South Carolina and how the decision of one person can change so many lives in the blink of an eye.  I am awed by how Laurie is so transparent in her journey to forgive the man who took her father’s life.  Her book I am sure doesn’t share all that happened, but there is enough to give readers a glimpse into the aftermath of a life taken, and another forever behind bars.
Laurie shares how God led her to begin communicating with her father’s killer and how she thought if her questions were answered, she would have peace.  What Laurie learned and shares is what truly brought her peace.  I admire her husband who gave her time to work through the grief, pain and more throughout the years after her father’s death.
When I read, it was easy to see how only God could make a way to bring two totally different viewpoints, Laurie’s and Tony's, the man who committed the crime, to a place of peace.  Readers will see how God is so much bigger than tragedy, pain, anger and more to radically make something good come out of an evil act.  Perhaps, like me, as you read you might remember other tragedies where people were killed due to the evil acts of others.  I know I thought of those in the South Carolina church who were recently killed by a young man and yet in court each family spokesman got up and forgave that young man.  Not only that, some said they were praying for him.  What a testimony to the awesomeness of God for them to be able to do that in the depth if grief!
Situations like Laurie Coombs' father or South Caroline bring all of us to a place of seeing the victims as part of what Hebrews 11 calls the “cloud of witnesses”.  These people reflect to a hurting, broken and sin-filled world that God is indeed on the throne.  If we open our hearts, He alone can reach into the depths of our pain, bringing healing, peace and hope.
One last thought about Laurie’s book is it shows there is no magic wand; it takes time and hard work to go before the Lord again and again with an open and willing heart to be healed.  Not just healed, but to know what the Lord’s desire is for those who walk through the fire and come out a different person.
 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.”


Saturday, July 11, 2015

Logos: A Novel of Christianity's Origins written by John Neelemen




Title:  Logos:  A Novel of Christianity’s Origin
Author:  John Neeleman                                                                            
Pages:  424
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Homebound Publications

John Neeleman’s novel Logos:  A Novel of Christianity’s Origin follows the life of a priest of the Pharisee sect of Judaism named Jacob ben Aaron.  The story covers several years leading up to the Jewish Wars, including the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in A.D. 70 and beyond.  Several historical characters and events are present in the story to help the novel move along; however, it must be clear that this is a work of fiction and should not be considered the truth of what actually occurred except for those events that can be verified by historical evidence.
Although the novel appears to be well researched, the ending would be considered at worst blasphemous to devout Christian believers and at best extremely poor theology.  The ending strongly indicates that the Gospel was written by the main character and that it was a mere myth made up in order to unite the early churches into a single body and provide a moral center that transcends humanity and the political world of the first century.  In addition, the time period for this Gospel would be wrong as, according to the novel, is written by Jacob in A.D. 85 whereas the earliest Gospel (Mark) probably was written around A.D. 65-70 according to some biblical scholars.
I liked the historical perspective of the Jewish Wars with Rome and the cultural background that was shown.  I also thought the characters were realistically written within their historical and cultural context based on what I studied of that period.  Nevertheless, there were a few points that were disappointing in addition to the aforementioned heresy that the Gospel was fabricated.  From a literary point of view, much of the beginning and several other places within the novel lacked balance between narrative and dialogue.  The author had a lot of narrative, but narrative tells without showing what is happening.  Narrative is important, but there was too much, at times, which made the reading somewhat cumbersome.  It is understandable that the author would write more narrative because of his background as a trial lawyer, and narrative is what lawyers tend to relate in order to make a case go their way.  Also, there were sexual scenes that were fairly descriptive.  Sex is a part of the human experience, but intimacy should be a private matter and graphic descriptions of this personal act did not advance this story.  An allusion to the act, without all the intimate details, would be more than sufficient if it is a vital part of a novel.
Overall, I would not recommend Logos:  A Novel of Christianity’s Origin for Christians and those seeking to know the biblical Jesus.  My rating is 2.
Guest review by Cleve Johnson
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