Wednesday, January 31, 2018

A Song Unheard (Shadows over England #2)


Title:  A Song Unheard (Shadows over England #2)

Author:  Roseanna M. White

Pages:  416

Year:  2018

Publisher:  Bethany House

My rating is 4 out of 5 stars.

The year is 1914 in the autumn.  Lukas de Wilde, a famous musician, finds himself playing concerts to raise money for the Belgian Relief Fund.  He is now in Wales, but from Belgium originally.  His city was invaded by the German Army, with his home being destroyed.  During the invasion, he was separated from his mother and sister.  He was shot and saved by a friend.  He doesn’t know where his mother and sister are now, but is saving every penny to find them and be reunited with them.  His father was a famous cryptographer, but he has recently died.  Now various factions are out to find his latest and most effective cypher.  They think Lukas is the key to this discovery.

Willa Forsythe has the natural ability to play the violin.  She is recruited by Mr. V to join the orchestra in Wales, the same one Lukas de Wilde has joined.  Mr. V wants her to steal the key to the cypher.  You see, Willa also is a professional thief too.  She has survived in London by stealing what she needs.  The older ones in her family steal to support the brood of twelve children.  There are no parents, and the children are not related by blood, but they are a family nonetheless.  Willa accepts her assignment, but has no idea how her life is going to change.

I thought the first half of the book on the slow side, and I had bit of difficulty getting into the story, but I kept reading and the second half picks up quite nicely.  The subject of cryptography was very interesting, and the essence of this time in history was captured well by the author.  I liked the interplay between Willa and Lukas, with their teasing and lighthearted moments.  I especially liked the story of Margot, her mother and the German soldier billeted in the same household.  Margot’s wit and intelligence were fun to read about, as well as her different way of praying.  I would like her to have her own story set a few years in the future.  I loved the way Willa’s natural ability for playing the violin was portrayed!  I also admired the determination of Lukas to save his mother and sister.  The faith elements are present in the story and are woven believably into the plot.  This is a story sure to be enjoyed by the historical fiction reader!

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, January 30, 2018

Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus (How a Jewish Perspective Can Transform Your Understanding)


Title:  Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus (How a Jewish Perspective Can Transform Your Understanding)

Author:  Lois Tverberg

Pages:  288

Year:  2018

Publisher:  Baker Books

My rating 5+ out of 5 stars.

There are many nuggets of wisdom, knowledge, along with a transparency of the author’s own walk in learning how a Jewish perspective changed her reading and walk with God!  The book is written with such simplicity that anyone can read and learn as well as further investigate what is written after each chapter.  After reading, seekers of the Lord will be able to search Scriptures listed and answer questions along with viewing a short list of other sources for going deeper in one’s understanding.  In the back of the book are listed Appendixes of Books of the Tanak, Thirty Useful Hebrew Words for Bible Study and Bible translations for Word Study.  I found these helpful as well as the pages titled Notes by Chapter and Recommended Resources.

What drew me to this book?  Well, to be honest, I want to go deeper with God.  I want to understand His Word and be able to handle it properly.  Some of the resources intimidated me as well as the thought of studying Hebrew or Greek, but then the Holy Spirit reminded me that He will show me what He wants me to do and not do.  I am one who doesn’t have the gift of languages.  However, there are other tools and resources I can use to learn many things to help deepen and broaden my view and understanding of Scripture.  There are also many tools in various mediums to help me understand the biblical language without being outside my gifts by trying to master a language.  So, don’t let anything keep you from reading the book and utilizing whatever God has for you as you draw nearer to Him; He will lead you!

I underlined and wrote in almost every chapter with such an excitement burning in my heart and desire to take the next step in understanding and knowledge.  I have also come to understand that without me being dependent on the Holy Spirit to help me, it would be a fruitless endeavor.  So, looking ahead as this 2018 year progresses, I cannot wait to see all that He has for me and be in awe of such a magnificent God in Heaven! 

Will you join me?

Monday, January 29, 2018

The Melody of the Soul by Liz Tolsma Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Facebook Live

Travel back in time to 1943 and meet Anna Zadok, a Jewish Christian and concert violinist whose career is ended because of Nazi occupation in Prague. Don't miss the new historical novel, The Melody of the Soul, by Liz Tolsma. Though musical instruments have been declared illegal, Anna defiantly continues to play the violin. But Officer Horst Engel, quartered in Anna's flat and dissatisfied with German ideology, enjoys her soothing music. When Anna and her grandmother face deportation, Horst risks everything to protect them.

Join Liz Tolsma and other bookworms for a Facebook Live event on February 6, plus enter to win Liz's prize pack giveaway!


One grand prize winner will receive:

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 6. The winner will be announced at Liz's Facebook Live Party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Liz and other readers, as well as for a chance to win other prizes!

RSVP today and spread the word-tell your friends about the giveaway and Facebook Live party via social media and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 6th!

The Melody of the Soul (Music of Hope Series #1)


Title:  The Melody of the Soul (Music of Hope Series #1)

Author:  Liz Tolsma

Pages:  315

Year:  2018

Publisher:  Gilead Publishing

My rating is 5 out of 5 stars.

The story is set in Czechoslovakia during WWII.  The lead female character is Anna Zadok, a young woman in her mid-twenties who is a violinist.  She was studying to become a concert violinist when the Germans invaded her country and forbade all Jews from owning musical instruments.  She, her grandmother, mother, father and two sisters live in a small apartment.  They have watched as their neighbors and friends have received their deportation notices, which will send them to the prison camp of Terezin, some have been dragged from their homes for failure to report with their notices and some have even been shot by the German soldiers who are occupying their city.  Anna and her family are strong Christians of Jewish blood, so they are labeled as Jews.  Anna’s parents and two younger sisters receive their deportation notices.  Anna begs to go with them, so they can stay together.  Her parents, however, ask her to stay behind and care for her grandmother.  Anna reluctantly agrees, wondering if she will ever see her family again.

A German officer, Horst Engel, commandeers the apartment below Anna by having the prior Jewish occupants evicted and put on deportation trucks.  Anna has been sneaking playing her violin for short periods, even though this is forbidden.  She continues to do so and the soldier confronts her.  She fears for her life, but it turns out that he likes her music and is an aficionado of the symphony.  He asks her and her grandmother to come to his apartment so she can play for him.  He works to preserve and repair the architecture of Prague as part of his service to the German Army.

What follows this is a harrowing tale of attempting to survive the war as well as the German soldiers out for Jewish blood.  There is a resistance group that gives aide at times, but there are visits to Terezin that are heart-breaking too.  Anna has a wonderful Christian role model in her grandmother.  Horst also begins to remember the lessons his own mother, a devout Christian, taught him years ago.  However, his father is a devoted follower of Hitler and has high expectations for his son’s military career.  Horst is caught in a difficult situation that is fraught with deadly consequences.  This was a great story that I couldn’t put down!  I had to see how it ended.  There was sadness in the story, but overriding everything was hope in the One who is in control.

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, January 27, 2018

A Promise of What is To Come


Title:  A Promise of What is To Come

Author:  First Fruits of Zion

Website:  https://tv.ffoz.org/

Year:  2017

My rating is 5 out of 5 stars.

On the website are the videos for each of the 26 episodes that coincide with the study by the same title.  You can purchase the study guide at https://ffoz.com/a-promise-of-what-is-to-come-study-guide.html

The study guide is optional if you just want to watch the video lessons on the website and take notes if you desire.  I really enjoyed the nuggets of wisdom and the short trips to Israel to get understanding of the meaning behind various Hebrew words and their usage.  I enjoyed seeing the many different sites and places that are beautiful in Israel as Arron taught.  The only negative of the videos is the cameraman in Israel was at times not so steady with the camera and it was a little distracting.

I bought the study guide so I pre-read what the lesson was about and so I can share it with my family.  The front of the study guide says it best, “…Kingdom-focused and Jesus-Centered Teaching from a Messianic Jewish Perspective.”  However, the material is presented in such a way as not to overwhelm the listener and it makes it easy to quickly recall what is being taught.

I know for me I will eventually go back and go through the teachings again, because I am sure I didn’t absorb all the knowledge shared.  The lessons don’t last more than 30 minutes, and they are very well formatted and easy to use for individual or group study.  Plus, it isn’t expensive to get the study guide should that be desired.

Why not at least visit the site, look around and listen to a couple of teachings before making up your mind about whether you want to do the study.  The First Fruits of Zion is very welcoming to both Messianic Jews or Messianic Gentiles or seekers.  So, jump in and get wet, but don’t be surprised if you find yourself wanting to do more lessons and share this website with family, friends or anyone else you know!

Friday, January 26, 2018

Cold Water Author: Samuel Parker


Title:  Cold Water

Author:  Samuel Parker

Pages:  320

Year:  2018

Publisher:  Revell

My rating is 5 out of 5 stars.

Samuel Parker’s second novel, Cold Water, is a heart-pounding, engaging mystery that captures the mind of the reader from beginning to end.  To me, it is a very unique story as the characters have no last names and very slowly and methodically the author reveals the interesting history behind the town’s inhabitants.  As I read, I was drawn into the mystery behind Michael’s uniqueness in that it seems wherever he goes death is the result be it nature or sicknesses in others.

Michael grew up in the town of Cold Water and returned after spending time in prison.  Readers will get an intriguing look in to what happens to Michael while incarcerated and how the warden deals with him to protect Michael and the other inmates.  When Michael entered prison, he was a boy.  When he returns to Cold Water, he is a man who just wants to be left alone.  But the town’s head honcho won’t let him be, which sets Michael on the run for his life.

I really was captured by how the author flashes back to Michael’s prison experiences and then back to the current day, as well as how he flashes back into Michael’s past when he is introducing a character and if that character is somehow related to him.  The story appears to me to show what is in a man’s heart will show itself in the actions taken.  Even deeper still, we get a picture of the spiritual world and the spirit that inhabits the characters, which can influence thoughts, feelings and actions.

Unlike other writers who write to show us the reality of the spiritual realm, Samuel Parker does a marvelous job of showing the reality of evil and demons without scaring this reader.  I am not a fan of horror and Samuel’s book isn’t like horror at all, even though in my view it shows the truth of how people can be possessed or controlled by demons if they aren’t inhabited by the Holy Spirit of God.  Enjoy the tension, mystery, spirits and characters of this new tale and then perhaps consider discussing with others what their views are of the book and its themes.

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, January 25, 2018

Plummet


Title:  Plummet

Author:  Brandilyn Collins

Pages:  309

Year:  2017

Publisher:  Challow Press

My rating is 4 out of 5 stars.

Cara Westling has just left an abusive marriage and is starting over in the new town with her teenage daughter.  It has been two weeks since they moved and Cara started her new job as an administrative assistant for the small town’s prominent and wealthy financial planner, J.L. Larret.  Cara has no money, but is able to rent a small house and a so-so neighborhood.  Her daughter is facing bullying at school and in text messages.  Cara initially is unaware of this, but knows her daughter doesn’t like her new school.

Cara is pulled into a coverup of a murder.  She is manipulated and bullied into cooperating with the killer as he/she directs the coverup.  The police start asking questions and Cara is a nervous wreck.  In an attempt to further bind Cara to him/her, the killer offers to pay the tuition at a private school for Cara’s daughter.  Cara wants what is best for her daughter and now that she knows that her daughter is being cruelly bullied, she agrees.  The police continue to question and Cara’s anxiety is off the charts.  She can’t stand what she has done and is losing sleep, vomiting and a nervous wreck.  How can she keep up the charade?  How is she once again the victim?  She wants to be such a strong example for her daughter, but what is she to do now?

This story has got plenty of tension and builds to a great ending!  The timely issue of cyberbullying is depicted in this story, which made me aware of how easily this could happen and the its extent.  My only negative comment on the book is I thought there was too much time spent on Cara’s angst about choices she has made.  However, the story ended with a bang that caught me by surprise!  I have read many of this author’s novels and find them to always offer lots of suspense and plot twists, which make them interesting and fun to read.  I look forward to her next offering with anticipation, and I hope readers take the opportunity to read this exciting story.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Dark Deception (Defenders of Justice #2)


This is another great suspense thriller from Nancy Mehl!  I have read most of her books and have found them all to be well-written and exciting with plenty of tension that builds to an exciting climax.  The setting in this story is in a small town in Arkansas in the present day.  Kate is in the Witness Protection Program and living under an assumed identity.  She was the only witness to her sister’s murder six years ago.  It is soon found out that her sister was the victim of a serial killer.  Tony DeLuca is the Federal Marshal who protected her during the trial all those years ago.  Kate developed a crush on Tony, but he kept his distance, thinking she was too young.  Now, new evidence has been discovered that might clear the man Kate sent to jail.  Tony is sent to bring Kate back for another trial.

In this story, Kate has walled herself off from God and everyone else as she has buried her grief and pain over her sister’s murder.  She has put it in a box and won’t open it; it is too painful.  Tony DeLuca has arrived in town to escort her to testify yet again.  Kate doesn’t want to see her sister’s killer again.  It brings back the fear, pain and grief; it hurts too much.  Tony gently advises her to deal with her grief so that God can heal her.  She wants that relationship with God re-established, but can she open that box and let go and let God?  Tony rents a cabin at a local fishing resort, but is attacked and left for dead.  He survives, but he is now on full alert and in protection mode for Kate.  Before Kate can decide whether to deal with her emotions or not or even leave to testify, she is kidnapped by an unseen man.  As soon as Tony discovers Kate is missing, he is on the move to rescue her, but will he find her in time?

  This is a page turner to be sure!  I kept glued to the pages in anticipation to see how Kate and Tony were going to get out of many adverse situations.  The danger mounted and some of the pieces of the puzzle began to fall in place, but how would the story end?  How would the loose threads be tied together?  You’ll just have to get a copy for yourself to find out!  It was an exciting page-turner from beginning to end.  Don’t miss this one!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Fatal Cover-up Author: Lisa Harris


Title:  Fatal Cover-up

Author:  Lisa Harris

Pages:  224

Year:  2017

Publisher:  Love Inspired Suspense

My rating 5 out of 5.

This novel is a rich tale filled with action, adventure and most definitely suspense!  Talia is a woman who moved to Rome to begin her life anew after tragedy stuck.  Three years have passed since the tragic death of her husband who was suspected of being a thief while employed as an officer of the law.  Talia couldn’t mesh the man she knew and loved with the many nefarious acts he was accused of while working in uniform.

Now, she meets Joe Bryant who is an FBI agent that has come to Rome seeking Talia as the gun used to kill her husband has also recently been used three years later to take his brother’s life.  On top of that, he wants to know if the missing small postcard-sized works of art are in her possession.  Digging up memories of the past is one thing Talia doesn’t want to engage in, plus she is now the target of someone who believes she has the very high-priced works of art.  The shadow proves he/she can get to Talia and will if the demands to produce the art are not met.

What I found was an exciting, heart-pumping, romantic mystery filled with twists and turns that kept me reading for hours.  I love and appreciate the wonderful imaginative stories Lisa shares that entertain and keep my heart in a state of hoping the end of the story is what I think it might be.  I cannot wait for you to read one of her early 2017 books, so grab a copy and maybe give a copy to a friend!

Monday, January 22, 2018

Fatal Trauma


Title:  Fatal Trauma

Author:  Richard Mabry, M.D.

Pages:  297

Year:  2015

Publisher:  Abingdon Press

My rating is 4 out of 5 stars.

Kelly Atkinson and Mark Baker work in the ER.  Kelly is a nurse and Mark is a doctor.  One night an emergency room visit by two drug cartel members will change the lives of Kelly and Mark.  Now, they have been marked for death by a drug cartel that has infiltrated Texas from Mexico.  The Zetas have vowed vengeance on anyone in the ER when their two members were there.  An anesthesiologist and a surgeon are shot.  Kelly and Mark have attempts made on their lives, but try their best to stick together and protect one another.  In addition, Mark becomes a suspect in a shooting of a female doctor at the hospital whom he is dating.  The hospital administrator wants Mark fired to reduce the bad publicity for the hospital.  As it seems Mark is getting closer and closer to being arrested fired, and the detectives don’t seem to be looking at any other suspects for the shooting, Mark is in despair and turns to a fellow doctor for advice.  Dr. McCray tells Mark that he can only get peace from surrendering control of his life to God.  Mark was raised in a Christian home, but when he began college he pushed God aside.  Mark sees a peace in Kelly as well as she also is a Christian, trusting God with her life.

As Mark and Kelly become honest with their deepening feelings for one another, can they live long enough to discover true love with each other?  Is there something more going on at the hospital as the administrator is so adamantly opposed to Mark?

If you like medical suspense thrillers, then reading this book is a good way to spend your day.  The action isn’t nonstop, but the story is well written.  There is enough tension and suspense to hold the reader’s attention.  One negative to the story for me was that I didn’t like Mark’s waffling between the women in the story.  He took too long to decide which woman he decided to love.  I did like how Mark knew there was something missing in his life and that missing piece was God, and he quickly changed his life to reflect this change in attitude.  Kelly was consistent in her faith throughout, even when facing scary situations.  She was an admirable female lead character.  I like Mr. Mabry’s medical thrillers and have read many in the past.  I look forward to reading his more recent works in the future, and I hope you will get a copy of this thriller to read for yourself!

Saturday, January 20, 2018

End Game (Wil Robie Series #5)


Title:  End Game (Wil Robie Series #5)

Author:  David Baldacci

Pages:  416

Year:  2017

Publisher:  Grand Central

My rating 1 star out of 5.

What happened?  How can an author who writes well crafted stories with such detail and believable plots end a series on such a sour note?  I have read some excellent books written by the author, but this is the second time in ending a series the author has failed to write an engaging, in-depth and plausible novel.  Why is it that the other books were focused on the plot, the in-depth plethora of possibilities and then add such nonsense without having any direction or meaning of a tale?

I don’t like reading books that throw in such sexual stuff and tons of foul language in the first place, and most of the books David has written don’t include this type of stuff.  So why does he add a bunch of it to the last book on top of such a weak and directionless ending?

If the author has one Achilles heel, it is not knowing how to wrap up his characters like in the other novels with an intriguing plot.  I love the Memory Man series he has written!  With another installment due out April 2018, I just am hoping he doesn’t try to end the series with a novel sub-par like he has in End Game and his John Puller series where the ending was horrible too.

Normally, I don’t write reviews if I don’t like a book.  Authors work hard to put forth stories their followers will enjoy and share with friends.  However, with two series ending below standards or hopes for readers, I write this with the hope the author will do a much better job with future endeavors when he decides the character’s time is up.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Melody of the Soul by Liz Tolsma


Trace Evidence (The Heir Hunter Series #2)


Title:  Trace Evidence (The Heir Hunter Series #2)

Author:  Diane Capri

Pages:  302

Year:  2017

Publisher:  Thomas & Mercer

My rating 5 out of 5 stars.

Michael Flint is an heir hunter introduced to readers in the first book of the series titled, Blood Trails.  In this novel, we read an exciting tale about Michael’s latest hunt.  Michael needs to locate the biological father of a little boy who needs a transplant.  Victoria Beaumont finds the best for her son, her last hope to get what her son needs before time runs out.

While that may sound like a simple plot, trust me, the author does an amazing job of drawing readers into super-twisted avenues of intrigue that captivate readers’ imaginations!  Later, in the novel, the author utilizes the use of flashback to carefully and slowly reveal what happened to the boy’s father years ago.

Like the first novel in the series, this second one was such a gem to read!  There were heart-pumping thrills, and this reader’s heart was pulled in by the dire need of a little boy.  It was a joyous path to travel!  The ending was one of magnificent surprise and exciting conclusion that makes me highly anticipate the next stage on which the author will place her Heir Hunter character.

If you haven’t read Blood Trails before reading Trace Evidence, please do as that will help you understand the main character Michael more fully as well as some of the background action taking place in book two.  Grab the books and get ready to enjoy the suspense!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Tide of Times (The Blake Meyer Series #3)


Title:  The Tide of Times (The Blake Meyer Series #3)

Author:  C. Kevin Thompson

Pages:  318

Year:  2017

Publisher:  Create Space Publishing

My rating 5 out of 5 stars.

On a quest to locate his wife and children, Blake Meyer is running on fumes and not sure who he can trust.  In this installment, the multitude of threats and dangers ramps up with internal trouble at the FBI, Blake’s family situation and his foes are constantly on his tail.  Blake is trying to remain one step ahead of his foe, though the way the author has penned his story it keeps readers guessing just exactly who these foes are.

The tale begins in book one, 30 Days Hath Revenge and continues in book two titled, Triple Time.  Here is a spell-binding series that keeps an audience wanting more and highly anticipating the next book in what is to eventually be a five-book series.  C. Kevin Thompson writes with believable characters, an intricate plot and heart-pounding, intense action and thrills!

Each book begins where the former book leaves off, making it easy for readers to keep attuned to where the plot was and wondering where the author is taking it.  In this third book, the main character, Blake Meyer, is in a crisis not only in trying to find his family in a plethora of possibilities but wrestling his faith as he desires revenge.

Another installment will be out in 2018 titled, When the Clock Strikes Fourteen, so try and catch up in this action-packed thriller series!  Readers will also want to read his other books, which are just as exciting and enjoyable as the Blake Meyer series!

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, January 17, 2018

Across the Blue


Title:  Across the Blue

Author:  Carrie Turansky

Pages:  352

Year:  Feb 2018

Publisher:  Multnomah

My rating 5 out of 5 stars.

The time frame is early 1900s, a time when the life of a young woman was under the direction of her parents.  Young women would attend parties and balls with the hopes of meeting their future mates.  Of course, the hope was the man would be of status and renown.  When I started reading Across the Blue, I quickly became entranced with the main family in the novel, the Graysons.  The father was prominent as his three newspaper enterprises grew, which took the family from struggling to high social status and financial security.  However, it also put pressure of different kinds on the wife and the two daughters.

Isabella is the first born with a desire to follow in her father’s footsteps and become a journalist, which at the time was unheard of.  Her father and Isabella also share a love for aviation, which was just starting to come onto the scene.  With financial help from the Grayson family, Professor Steed and his young pilot James Drake seek to enact the culminating hopes of the professor, which is to see one of his airplanes in the air.

Carrie Turansky’s novel is one of hopes, faith and dreams.  The story is also one of heartache and desire for James Drake to find out about his real parents along with knowing what happened to the two young people.  With Isabella’s ability to ask questions, research and more, she wants to help James find answers as well as fulfill her own dream of being a journalist.

The farther along I read, the more my heart was pulled into the unique story set in London and other parts across the ocean.  I loved the possible romance of a few other characters in the book and the challenge to fly an airplane that compared to today was very simplistic with successful flights resting more on the shoulders of the aviators and designers.  Any little wind or problem with the plane could bring disastrous results or a good day would bring a wonderful flying experience.

I hope you plan on reading this book when it becomes available in February 2018; it’s a grand tale indeed!

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, January 15, 2018

The Empowered (A Trevor Black Novel)


Title:  The Empowered (A Trevor Black Novel)

Author:  Trevor Black

Pages:  464

Year:  2018

Publisher:  Tyndale

My rating is 5 out of 5 stars.

After reading book one titled, The Occupied, I really wasn’t sure how the author could make a sequel more thrilling, but he accomplished that and more!  The Empowered is a spine-tingling tale of the continuing encounters between Trevor Black and the unseen spiritual realm.  Beginning with the prologue and throughout the book, never is there a dull moment for readers.

The Empowered has cranked up the level of Trevor’s encounters with demons in the here and now along with showing the need for knowledge and tons of prayer on Trevor’s part.  Trevor makes a decision to keep being open to the calling God has given him to help others understand what he sees as being real and not something to play with or quickly dismiss.

In the sequel, a lot of the action takes place in New Orleans.  Trevor has a tough job trying to find the killer and the leader who is using dark spirits to take peoples’ lives.  Trevor’s daughter who starts out being a real hard young person to convince of the reality that Trevor sees in the spiritual realm, but later is more open to the possibility of demons and their powers.  The mystery in finding out who killed two prominent lawyers and trying to pin them on Trevor makes the novel more interesting.  At times, it was hard to distinguish who is for God and who is against Him.

What happens to Trevor’s daughter in the book put my heart in my throat and yet showing how much more powerful God is was awesome!  While all of this is of course fiction, one need only read the daily news or listen to the radio with an open mind to understand that there are most certainly powers of evil that are out to bring chaos and destruction.  However, we must remember that humans can always choose to be filled with the Holy Spirit of God or to be empty or possessed, especially when dealing with the occultism or the worship of Satan.

Normally, these types of stories would give me nightmares, but these books didn’t.  One reason is because I was praying before I read and another is the tale shows truth when it speaks of the power of the Holy Spirit and the weapons a believer has when they put on the full armor of God as stated in the book of Ephesians in the Bible.  On the front cover, I disagreed with Library Journal comparing Craig’s novel to Stephen King or Dean Koontz as they aren’t even written with the same purpose or truth as Craig’s Trevor Black Novels entail.  I hope you read both stories and consider fact from fiction, which is pretty obvious to those who believe in God and study the Word of God!

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.”

The Occupied (A Trevor Black Novel)


Title:  The Occupied (A Trevor Black Novel)

Author:  Craig Parshall

Pages:  448

Year:  2016

Publisher: Tyndale

My rating 5 out of 5 stars.

Before reading the recently released sequel, The Empowered, I needed to reread what occurred to the characters and plot line in book one.  I am really glad that I did because I had forgotten what a well written story this is!  The main character is Trevor Black whose life has been realigned after falling apart as consequences from choices made by himself and other minor characters.

While there are times when Trevor sees demons, and experiences their power or sees how they possess people, that isn’t all there is to the book.  Trevor is a disbarred lawyer who tries to explain to a judge why he can’t represent a client because he sees a demon while visiting the client.  He is on a journey that actually started in his childhood.  I think the author paints a good picture of how what happens when we choose to open ourselves to the spiritual realm when one isn’t careful what one reads, sees or believes. 

As I read the story, I began to understand that Trevor is seeing into the spiritual realm and doesn’t understand how to handle it.  There is a minor character that comes alongside him to aid his understanding.  Trevor is on a spiritual journey where he is going to learn about the power of God that surpasses the power of the prince of the air.

He is also becoming involved in a murder mystery that has stymied law enforcement and stretched from New York to Trevor’s hometown.  The victims range from people he has no personal connection with to those who were childhood friends.  As I read these chapters, it really was emotionally impacting.

The ending is extremely powerful and one I didn’t see coming.  I believe anyone who reads the novel won’t soon forget the powerful impact to their heart and understanding what a brilliantly crafted tale leads to real truth!

I hope readers who want suspense, tension, action, adventure and a powerful spiritually impacted story will read the book and as well as the sequel, The Empowered.

Introduction to Messianic Judaism: Its Ecclesial Context and Biblical Foundations


Title:  Introduction to Messianic Judaism: Its Ecclesial Context and Biblical Foundations

Author:  David Rudolph & Joel Willitts

Pages:  336

Year:  2013

Publisher:  Zondervan

My rating 4 out of 5 stars.

The book holds essays that cover a variety of topics with all of them of short duration, making for easy reading and conversations with others.  I was looking for a book that would help me understand Messianic Judaism without being bogged down with academic terminology or linguistic studies, though those have their place.

Understanding Messianic Jewish thought and life is a tough undertaking when one sees the host of books written and various conclusions of authors.  The best part of the essays for the most part is the helpful introduction into a people with a long history and deep roots.  There were essays that were very insightful, some that I frankly had no clue what they were putting forth and others that were frankly empty.

I do think this book would help anyone seeking to understand with a good start in that direction.  No, this book is not to be thought of as covering all topics related to Messianic thought or life.  Readers will find many other sources noted at the end of each essay should they choose to pursue further understanding, and I found that a big plus.  Though the book is only four years old, I would like to see an updated or new version of this one published for easy reading and further study.

Like any book written by human authors there will be conclusions one agrees with and those that aren’t compatible with one’s understanding.  As long as one reads with discernment and ultimately looking at the infallible source of Scripture for the final conclusion, anyone who at least reads even a couple essays will walk away with a deeper love and appreciation for the Jewish people, land and nation.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Amish Sweethearts


Title:  Amish Sweethearts (4 Amish Novellas)

Author:  Amy Clipston

Pages:  432

Year:  2018

Publisher:  Zondervan

My rating 5 out of 5 stars.

Amy Clipston is just one of my favorite Amish authors because her stories are so well written that I feel as though I am there viewing the action as it occurs.  The four novellas in the book are titled, “A Home for Lindsay”, “Love and Buggy Rides”, “Where the Heart Is”, and “Love Birds”.  Before each story there is a small family tree to help readers understand where the characters are in the bigger picture of family.

There is, of course, romance but also action, intrigue, wonder and delight as each unique tale comes to life in the mind of the reader.  I am not able to point to one being my favorite over the others because each one is special and shows a particular theme the author is highlighting.  One of the tale’s theme was forgiveness and showed just how difficult in can be sometimes to believe we are forgiven by God and/or others we may have wronged.

The book didn’t take me very long to read, but I will enjoy rereading it sometime in the future as it was so enjoyable and entertaining.  Books can be such a gift we best not forget because it must be hard work for authors to sit down and write a story that will capture the heart and mind of the audience.  We have made reading a family activity where we are all reading something we like and at times share something we find insightful, interesting, sad or funny.

I hope you take time to enjoy Amy’s latest book and consider telling others to grab a copy and take time to get lost in the pages!

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.”

Across the Blue


Title:  Across the Blue

Author:  Carrie Turansky

Pages:  352

Year:  Feb 2018

Publisher:  Multnomah

My rating 5 out of 5 stars.

The time frame is early 1900s, a time when the life of a young woman was under the direction of her parents.  Young women would attend parties and balls with the hopes of meeting their future mates.  Of course, the hope was the man would be of status and renown.  When I started reading Across the Blue, I quickly became entranced with the main family in the novel, the Graysons.  The father was prominent as his three newspaper enterprises grew, which took the family from struggling to high social status and financial security.  However, it also put pressure of different kinds on the wife and the two daughters.

Isabella is the first born with a desire to follow in her father’s footsteps and become a journalist, which at the time was unheard of.  Her father and Isabella also share a love for aviation, which was just starting to come onto the scene.  With financial help from the Grayson family, Professor Steed and his young pilot James Drake seek to enact the culminating hopes of the professor, which is to see one of his airplanes in the air.

Carrie Turansky’s novel is one of hopes, faith and dreams.  The story is also one of heartache and desire for James Drake to find out about his real parents along with knowing what happened to the two young people.  With Isabella’s ability to ask questions, research and more, she wants to help James find answers as well as fulfill her own dream of being a journalist.

The farther along I read, the more my heart was pulled into the unique story set in London and other parts across the ocean.  I loved the possible romance of a few other characters in the book and the challenge to fly an airplane that compared to today was very simplistic with successful flights resting more on the shoulders of the aviators and designers.  Any little wind or problem with the plane could bring disastrous results or a good day would bring a wonderful flying experience.

I hope you plan on reading this book when it becomes available in February 2018; it’s a grand tale indeed!

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.”

Isaiah’s Daughter (A Novel of Prophets & Kings)


Title:  Isaiah’s Daughter (A Novel of Prophets & Kings)

Author:  Mesu Andrews

Pages:  400

Year:  2018

Publisher:  WaterBrook

My rating 5+ out of 5.

Mesu Andrews shares with her audience a brilliant woven tapestry of a story of the prophet Isaiah, his family and the kings that ruled Judah at a time when life was precarious.  Hezekiah is a young prince when the tale begins, his father King Ahaz known in the Bible as a wicked king sacrifices Hezekiah’s older brother to a false god.  Hezekiah is in shock and no one seems to be able to bring the young man out of his catatonic state.  In a desperate move, the queen brings him to the prophet’s house in the hopes someone can help, and God uses a young girl who is just as broken as Hezekiah.

As time progresses, we watch as Hezekiah grows up along side the young girl known as Ishma, which means “desolation” as they sit under the tutelage of Isaiah along with other members of nobility.  The story told in the book while a novelization is captivating, heart wrenching at times and inspiring in other places.  The author quotes several passages at the beginning of the chapters that helps readers to follow the true history of the time and where readers can go for more insight.

I found this story the most inspiring of Mesu’s novels thus far.  It isn’t because her other novels aren’t; I am just inspired that though his father was a wicked king, Hezekiah followed God.  Having read the biblical accounts of the time also helped as I read the tale as I remembered details that aren’t included in the book.  I highly recommend readers read their Bibles for further inspiration, truth, and knowledge of God and how faithful He is when someone seeks Him through repentance with an open heart to obey all that the law requires.

I loved Ishma’s character and Isaiah’s as I read the novel.  Isiah was a prophet at a time when he had to confront the wickedness of King Ahaz and the people of Judah.  He also witnessed God’s faithfulness when Hezekiah restored the temple and tore down the multiple high places of worship to false gods. What that obedience must have cost him and his family!  Yet, he obeyed, and the novel makes Isaiah come alive as a man with all the turmoil that at times encompasses obedience to what God called him to do.  The biggest truth I came away with is God is always willing to forgive and restore anyone who seeks His face with their whole 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.”

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Fix


Title:  The Fix (Memory Man #3)

Author:  David Baldacci

Pages:  480

Year:  2017

Publisher:  Grand Central Publishing

My rating 5 out of 5 stars.

Amos Decker is a man whose mind works like no one else’s; he can and does remember everything, but that’s not all.  Readers can first meet this unique man in book one titled, Memory Man followed by the sequel The Last Mile.  Now with The Fix, readers who love the mystery and trying to figure out what Amos Decker is involved with definitely lose sleep!  Also, before I share more know that in April 2018 Amos Decker will make his next appearance in the novel, The Fallen, so catch up before it comes out!

David Baldacci has written a very intense story that quite literally starts with a bang!  From there, the tension only rises in the book along with a host of other characters that are trying to unravel a possible spy ring that has existed for decades.  But who is a part of the spy ring?  Is it someone inside the many government agencies or is it someone who has contracted with the government to develop top secret programs?

I found this heart-pounding and constantly twisting plot kept me reading for hours.  At times, I wondered if I figured out who was the spy or spies only to have the author throw a curve into the plot and cause me to wonder.  I kept turning pages and found my heart racing with the action, especially when Amos in his usual fashion gets up and leaves a room without telling anyone where he is going or what he is thinking.

What talent the author has in writing a tale with such depth that causes someone like myself to lose sleep because I want to see what happens next.  The ending itself was a big surprise for me as I thought I had that figured out only to find myself wrong again, lol!  If you are anything like me, one who likes action, suspense, thrills and mystery, then look no further.  The Amos Decker series is just outstanding and defies in many ways description.  How someone can sit and write such an in-depth tale that captivates the imagination and heart is astounding!

If you’re looking for some books to read this winter while the snow blows or the temps dip, look no further!  Take it from this avid reader; these are novels you don’t want to miss.  The author doesn’t include sexual stuff.  There are a few uses of foul language, but mainly the author stays focused on developing his main character, Amos Decker.

Read the series and let me know what you think of it and how much sleep you lost!  Then, consider giving them as gifts to those who are voracious readers like you and me!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Dead End Author: Lisa Phillips


Title:  Dead End

Author:  Lisa Phillips

Pages:  284 (large print edition)

Year:  2016

Publisher:  Love Inspired Suspense

My rating is 5 out of 5 stars.

Nina Holmes is running out of time.  She has recently retired from the CIA and is about to embark on a new career teaching at a local college.  She has a few short weeks to find the man who murdered her mother and bring him to justice.  Her mother was a congresswoman thirty years ago and Nina tries to access her file via the local federal courthouse.  She is given the runaround, but she won’t give up.  As she leaves the courthouse, she runs into Wyatt Ames.  Wyatt is a federal marshal and his partner is the husband of Nina’s best friend, so they know one another.  They speak briefly and Nina goes on her way only to be almost killed by a hit-and-run driver.  Nina is okay, but this is only the beginning of a series of events that will progressively become more and more dangerous, not just to Nina, but to those close to her or the murder investigation.

Wyatt Ames has met Nina before and been impressed with her strength of character.  He also was instantly attracted to her.  He hasn’t much success in his relationships with women, so he tries his best to keep her at a distance.  He wonders who would want to kill her.  Is it related to one of her former cases as a CIA operative?  Wyatt feels protective of Nina and wants her to be safe at all costs.  He agrees to help her track down her mother’s killer, but he doesn’t know what he has volunteered for until the killer from the past emerges into the present intent on cleaning up all the loose ends.

The building tension that mounts to a climactic ending is nonstop!  There are car chases, kidnappings, bombs and much more in this thrilling suspenseful tale.  There is enough action to satisfy the most ardent action lover.  I couldn’t put the book down until I saw how the conflict was resolved.  This is one writer to put on your “must read” list.  This would be a great stocking stuffer for the reader in your life!