Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sinner's Creed by Scott Stapp (Review)





  • Hardcover: 336 pages

  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers; Reprint edition (October 2, 2012)

  • ISBN-13: 978-1414364568


  • "Sinner's Creed" is the uncensored memoir of Scott Stapp, Grammy Award-winning leader of the multiplatinum rock band CREED. During CREED's decade of dominance and in the years following the band's breakup, Scott struggled with drugs and alcohol, which led not only to a divorce, but also to a much-publicized suicide attempt in 2006. Now clean, sober, and in the midst of a highly successful solo career, Scott has finally come full circle--a turnaround he credits to his renewed faith in God.

    In "Sinner's Creed," Scott shares his story for the first time--from his fundamentalist upbringing, the rise and fall of CREED, and his ongoing battle with addiction, the rediscovery of his faith, and the launch of his solo career. The result is a gripping memoir that is proof positive that God is always present in our lives, despite the colossal mess we sometimes make of them.


    My Review:

    I thought this was a good memoir. I was interested to read it because I love several of Creed's songs. I remember when they were really popular and some of the controversy surrounding them. Parts of the story I never would have guessed like his upbringing being so rough. It's a miracle he overcame it. The book included his whole life without being overwhelming or too long. My heart broke for him at what he endured as a child. It explains some of his song lyrics. When I hear certain songs now I realize what is behind them. The book also included his adult years and his struggle with drugs and alcohol. At the end he is finally clean, married, and has children. He credits all of it to God. I think the story was inspiring and reminded me that God loves us and will redeem us. Recommended.

     

    Take a Chance on Me by Susan May Warren (Review)





  • Paperback: 416 pages

  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers (March 22, 2013)

  • ISBN-13: 978-1414378411



  • Darek Christiansen is almost a dream bachelor—oldest son in the large Christiansen clan, heir to their historic Evergreen Lake Resort, and doting father. But he’s also wounded and angry since the tragic death of his wife, Felicity. No woman in Deep Haven dares come near.

    New assistant county attorney Ivy Madison simply doesn’t know any better when she bids on Darek at the charity auction. Nor does she know that when she crafted a plea bargain three years ago to keep Jensen Atwood out of jail and in Deep Haven fulfilling community service, she was releasing the man responsible for Felicity’s death. All Ivy knows is that the Christiansens feel like the family she’s always longed for. And once she gets past Darek’s tough exterior, she finds a man she could spend the rest of her life with. Which scares her almost as much as Darek learning of her involvement in his wife’s case.

    Caught between new love and old grudges, Darek must decide if he can set aside the past for a future with Ivy—a future more and more at risk as an approaching wildfire threatens to wipe out the Christiansen resort and Deep Haven itself.


    My Review:

    I enjoyed reading this latest Deep Haven book. The plot and characters were interesting and well developed. I loved how Ivy and Darek interact together and how the relationship develops over the course of the book. Ivy was a foster child and longs for a place to call home. She falls in love with the tiny town of Deep Haven. She meets Darek when she goes to a town gathering that had a bachelor auction. She feels sorry for him because nobody bids on him. She did not know that she bought the town crusty old widower or his wife was killed by the man she got a plea bargain for. There are some great minor characters too and town favorites make a reappearance. This book can be read alone without being confused. This author always does a great job of making you feel like you are really there. The characters come off the page. The plot holds your attention. I felt the emotions and angst of the characters. The author creates a picture with words especially with the setting. The plot was detailed with some surprises. It is a contemporary Christian romance book but not cheesy. The conclusion was satisfying. I look forward to reading the next book in the series. Recommended.

    Saturday, July 27, 2013

    Grace's Pictures by Cindy Thomson (Review)






    “Listen to me,” her mother had said. “I don’t care what lies your father once spoke to you, darlin’. . . . Remember instead this: You are smart. You are important. You are able.”

    Grace McCaffery hopes the bustling streets of New York hold all the promise the lush hills of Ireland did not. As her efforts to earn enough money to bring her mother to America fail, she wonders if her new Brownie camera could be the answer. But a casual stroll through a beautiful New York City park turns into a hostile run-in with local gangsters, who are convinced her camera holds the first and only photos of their elusive leader.

    A policeman with a personal commitment to help those less fortunate finds Grace attractive and longs to help her, but Grace believes such men cannot be trusted. Spread thin between her quest to rescue her mother, do well in a new nanny job, and avoid the gang intent on intimidating her, Grace must put her faith in unlikely sources to learn the true meaning of courage and forgiveness.

    My Review:

    Overall this was a good Christian historical fiction book. The author did a good job with the historical detail. The plot was a little predictable but interesting. Set in the early 1900s there are details about early cameras and police. Grace does take pictures but its the background plot. The main plot involves her life and her first job as a nanny. Also present is the police officer who she is not sure who can trust. There is a tiny bit of romance between the two. Over the course of the book Grace matures and learns the lesson that things are not always what they seem to be. Recommended to fans of Christian historical fiction.

    The Judge by Randy Singer (Review)






  • Paperback: 448 pages

  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.; Reprint edition (August 15, 2012)

  • ISBN-13: 978-1414335681



  • Previously published as The Cross Examination of Oliver Finney.

    When a brilliant billionaire is diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer, he realizes that all his considerable wealth cannot prepare him to meet his Maker. But he has an idea that might: he will stage the ultimate reality show. With his true agenda hidden, he auditions followers from all the world’s major religions, inviting them to the trial of their lives on a remote island, where they must defend their beliefs against spiritual challenges.

    Oliver Finney, a feisty old judge with his own secrets, is chosen to defend Christianity. As the program takes a strange twist, he quickly realizes he is trapped in a game of deadly agendas that may cost him his life. With Internet access monitored, Finney sends coded messages to his law clerk, Nikki Moreno. Aided by a teen crypto-geek, Nikki soon discovers the key to understanding Finney’s clues in an apologetics book Finney wrote and must race against time to decipher the mysteries contained in the ancient words of Christ before her boss dies defending them.

    My Review:

    I am not sure how to categorize this book. It was not really a thriller but it had a little suspense to it. I did not figure out who the brilliant billionaire was until the end. The plot was interesting and unique. The characters were mostly developed. The book is not as religious as you think it might be. The main plot was what was happening behind the scenes. I liked how the relationships developed between the characters. The judge was the only outspoken Christian in the book and the author went a little over the top making Nikki his opposite. She drinks, parties, flirts excessively to get her way, and does not take life seriously enough. She does love the judge like a father though and he loves her like a daughter even though she is his legal assistant. The judge is dying from lung cancer and looks forward to defending Christianity and his faith for the country before he dies. The other participants are chosen to defend their religion by the producers. I ended up liking them even though I don't agree with their religion. There was a twist at the end I did not see coming. Overall I enjoyed reading the book and it kept my attention. Recommended.

    Friday, July 26, 2013

    T J and the Time Stumblers: Yikes!!! by Bill Myers (Review)



  • Age Range: 8 and up
  • Paperback: 176 pages

  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.; Reprint edition (February 14, 2012)

  • ISBN-13: 978-1414334585



  • In an effort to find the last of the fuel ingredients for their time pod, 23rd-century goofballs Tuna and Herby transport themselves to Africa. Unfortunately, they also transport TJ Finkelstein and half of her 7th-grade science class, including TV star Hesper Breakahart and dreamy Chad Steel. In the jungle, the Time Stumblers' usual mayhem jumps to a new level as Herby is adopted by a mother gorilla, Tuna is transformed into an ostrich chick, and the students are taken in by an African tribe. When Hesper tries to escape by leaping into a raging river, TJ finds that it's time to begin showing the leadership qualities that Tuna and Herby claim she'll have someday as a world leader. Thanks to her, everyone makes it home safely, and the Time Stumblers fuel up their time pod, leaving with laughter, tears . . . and one last zany surprise for TJ.


    My Review:

    This was a good conclusion to the T J and the Time Stumblers series. This is book six and you can read it on its own but it makes more sense read in order. It is interesting and filled with action. There were many fun moments in the midst of the trouble they find themselves in. Tuna and Herby are almost done with TJ. She has one last lesson to learn. She learns it while figuring out a way for them to get home. She has to take charge, come up with the plan, and get everyone to follow it. I was sad to see this series end. Even though it is for the upper elementary crowd I still enjoyed reading about the adventures of TJ, Tuna, and Herby. Recommended.

    Tuesday, July 23, 2013

    A Bride for All Seasons by Various (Review)




  • Paperback: 400 pages

  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (June 18, 2013)

  • ISBN-13: 978-1401688530






  • 1800s mail-order bride catalogs facilitated many happy marriages. Here are the stories of four couples who owe their wedded bliss to creative editing by The Hitching Post publisher.

    “And Then Came Spring”—Margaret Brownley

    Sheriff Tom Garrett wants vengeance on his brother’s murderers, but he must think of his orphaned nephew. Then Mary-Jo shows up, swearing she married Tom’s brother by proxy and he’d neglected to mention a son.

    “An Ever-After Summer”—Debra Clopton

    Widower Matt McConnell wrote his ad with no room for misunderstanding—Bible believers need not apply. But Bible-thumping Ellie shows up on his doorstep. Matt’s so desperate for her help that he accepts.

    “Autumn’s Angel”—Robin Lee Hatcher

    Luvena Abbott is a singing sensation in New York. But as guardian to her brother’s children, she has few options to provide a home. Clay Birch won an abandoned theater in a poker game. The Hitching Post editor thinks they’ll make a perfect match.

    “Winter Wedding Bells”—Mary Connealy

    David Laramie is looking for a woman to care for his children. In exchange he’ll make her financially comfortable for life. But no woman wants to marry a dying man. Then Megan responds to his ad. It seems his “edited” letter contained no mention of him dying.


    My Review:

    I enjoyed this Christian historical fiction book. There are four novellas in the book. They are all sweet and well written. Melvin Hitchcock is the owner and editor of The Hitching Post Mail-Order Bride Catalogue. He is the one who reads the letters of potential bride and grooms. In these stories he changes and leaves out some important things to match the couples up. The couples are not aware of these changes until they meet. In the end it works out okay and the couples stay together. The in between are good stories with interesting plots and characters. There are several fun and hilarious moments in with the serious. Recommended especially for fans of Christian historical fiction.


    Review copy provided by Litfuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

    Monday, July 22, 2013

    Harvest of Gold by Tessa Afshar

    This week, the
    Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
    is introducing
    Harvest of Gold
    River North; New Edition edition (July 1, 2013)
    by
    Tessa Afshar


    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


    TESSA AFSHAR was voted "New Author of the Year" by the Family Fiction sponsored Reader's Choice Award 2011 for her novel Pearl in the Sand. She was born in Iran, and lived there for the first fourteen years of her life. She moved to England where she survived boarding school for girls and fell in love with Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, before moving to the United States permanently. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life forever. Tessa holds an MDiv from Yale University where she served as co-chair of the Evangelical Fellowship at the Divinity School. She has spent the last thirteen years in full-time Christian work.

    ABOUT THE BOOK



    The scribe Sarah married Darius, and at times she feels as if she has married the Persian aristocracy, too. There is another point she did not count on in her marriage-Sarah has grown to love her husband. Sarah has wealth, property, honor, and power, but her husband's love still seems unattainable.

    Although his mother was an Israelite, Darius remains skeptical that his Jewish wife is the right choice for him, particularly when she conspires with her cousin Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Ordered to assist in the effort, the couple begins a journey to the homeland of his mother's people. Will the road filled with danger, conflict, and surprising memories, help Darius to see the hand of God at work in his life-and even in his marriage?

    A hidden message, treachery, opposition, and a God-given success, will lead to an unlikely bounty.

    If you'd like to read the first chapter of Harvest of Gold, go HERE.

    Saturday, July 20, 2013

    Misery Loves Company by Rene Gutteridge (Review)






  • Paperback: 368 pages

  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers (July 22, 2013)

  • ISBN-13: 978-1414349336




  • Don’t tell me it’s terrifying. Terrify me.

    Filled with grief, Jules Belleno rarely leaves the house since her husband’s death while on duty as a police officer. Other than the reviews Jules writes on her blog, she has little contact with the outside world.

    But one day when she ventures out to the local grocery store, Jules bumps into a fellow customer . . . and recognizes him as her favorite author, Patrick Reagan. Jules gushes and thoroughly embarrasses herself before Regan graciously talks with her.

    And that’s the last thing she remembers until she wakes up in a strange room with a splitting headache. She’s been kidnapped. And what she discovers will change everything she believed about her husband’s death . . . her career . . . and her faith.


    My Review:

    I read this book in one afternoon. It was a great Christian suspense/mystery book. The characters and plot are interesting and unique. It is well written and held my attention from the beginning. Jules is a widow whose husband was a cop and died on a call. She lives mostly on the Internet through her blog. One day she goes to the grocery store and sees her favorite author. She wakes up at his remote mountain house. What follows next is not what you expect. There are several twists and turns. It is not scary though. Her favorite author discovered information about her husband's death she never suspected. Also present is her husband's old partner in the force Chris who feels responsible for her. He won't give up with trying to figure out what happened to her once her father who is a drunk convinced him she was missing. The conclusion is satisfying and breath taking. Recommended.






    Rene Gutteridge is the author of nineteen novels including Listen, Possession, the Storm series, the Boo series, the Occupational Hazards series, and the novelization of the movie The Ultimate Gift. Rene and her husband have two children and live in Oklahoma.



    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a Review Copy free from the Tyndale blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review. The options I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

    Friday, July 19, 2013

    A Big Year for Lily by Suzanne Woods Fisher and Mary Ann Kinsinger (Review)






  • Age Range: 8 and up
  • Paperback: 272 pages

  • Publisher: Revell (July 1, 2013)

  • ISBN-13: 978-0800721343


  • Lily Lapp's family has settled into their new home in Pennsylvania, but life still holds big changes and big steps for Lily. Good changes, like once again living close to her beloved cousin and best friend, Hannah. Bad changes, like a mean girl who plays tricks on her. And no change at all where Lily would most want one--Aaron Yoder sits near her in school and relentlessly teases her. Surprises are in store for Lily as she learns, with Mama and Papa's help, to manage the ups and downs of growing up Amish.

    The third of four charming novels that chronicle the gentle way of the Amish through the eyes of a young girl, A Big Year for Lily gives children ages 8-12 a fascinating glimpse into the life of the Amish--and lots of fun and laughter along the way. It combines Mary Ann Kinsinger's real-life stories of growing up Amish and the bestselling writing of Amish fiction and nonfiction author Suzanne Woods Fisher. With charming line drawings in each book, this series captures the hearts of readers young and old.


    My Review:

    I enjoyed reading this book chronicling the journey of young Amish girl Lily as she grows up. I think it is too hard for 8 year olds to read on their own and they might need help though. The chapters are long with a lot of words. I thought the story was interesting and well written. I liked seeing what happened next to Lily and her family. They have mostly good lives. Lily has a few things that drive her crazy like Aaron Yoder who picks on her and Effie who bullies her. This is a sweet charming Amish book for the younger crowd. Recommended.





    Mary Ann Kinsinger was raised Old Order Amish in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. She met and married her husband, whom she knew from school days, and started a family. After they chose to leave the Amish church, Mary Ann began a blog, A Joyful Chaos, as a way to pass on her warm childhood memories to her own children. From the start, this blog found a ready audience and even captured the attention of key media players, such as the influential blog AmishAmerica and the New York Times. She lives in Pennsylvania.

    Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of The Choice, The Waiting, The Search, A Lancaster County Christmas, The Keeper, and The Haven, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace. Her interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly traced to her grandfather, who was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne is a Christy Award finalist and a Carol Award finalist. She is the host of internet radio show Amish Wisdom, which boasts 15,000 downloads a month, and a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazines. She lives in California. Find out more
    at www.suzannewoodsfisher.com.

    Review copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review.

    Available July 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

    Thursday, July 18, 2013

    Dolled Up to Die by Lorena McCourtney (Review)




  • Paperback: 320 pages

  • Publisher: Revell (July 15, 2013)

  • ISBN-13: 978-0800721596

  • Cate's not sure just what she expected . . . but she knows it certainly wasn't this.
    When Cate Kinkaid receives a frantic call about a triple homicide, she drives to the scene against her better judgment--aren't triple homicides more up the police department's alley?--only to find that the victims are not quite who she expects. Now she has a new rule to add to everything she's learned in her short stint as an assistant private investigator: always find out if the victims have human DNA. Because these three do not.

    But who would shoot this nice lady's dolls? What possible reason could the shooter have? And then there's the startling discovery of another victim, who definitely does have human DNA . . .

    With tension that is matched only by humor, Dolled Up to Die is the exciting second book in Lorena McCourtney's Cate Kinkaid Files. You won't find a place to stop and take a breath in this fast-paced story.


    My Review:

    This was a good Christian cozy mystery. It is the second in the Cate Kincaid files. The first was Dying to Read which I enjoyed also. I was a little scared when I read that the dolls were life like and the victims. It ended up not being freaky. There were also human victims so Cate has her hands full with this case. There are some characters from the first book like Cate's boyfriend who is still not too happy with her job and the risks she takes. Her Aunt and Uncle are also still there. Her Uncle owns the detective business and he is okay with her being an associate now. There was a lot of funny in it too. It is not a super serious book. Recommended.



    Available August 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

    Review copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review.

    Monday, July 15, 2013

    In Golden Splendor by Michael Reynolds

    This week, the
    Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
    is introducing
    In Golden Splendor
    • B&H Books (July 15, 2013)
    by
    Michael Reynolds


    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:





    Michael K. Reynolds is the writer and producer of Emmy and Telly Award-winning film campaigns and has more than two decades of experience in fiction, journalism, copywriting, and documentary production. He owns Global Studio, a marketing agency, and is also an active leader in church and business, speaking in both ministry and corporate settings. Michael lives with his wife and three children in Reno, Nevada.

    ABOUT THE BOOK

    Irish immigrant Seamus Hanley is a lost soul, haunted by his past as a U.S. Army deserter and living alone in the wilderness of the Rocky Mountains in 1849. But after witnessing a deadly stage coach crash, he finds purpose in the scattered wreckage -- a letter with a picture of a beautiful and captivating woman named Ashlyn living in San Francisco at the height of the Gold Rush. Moved by her written plea for help, he abandons all and sets out on an epic journey across the wild and picturesque American frontier. While being pursued by those who want to hang him, Seamus encounters fascinating characters including a young Pauite Indian who makes the ultimate sacrifice in helping Seamus to cross the snowy Yosemite Valley. Battered but changed for the better, Seamus reaches San Francisco on Christmas Eve as the city burns in the tragic fire of 1849. But there is little time for rest, as an even greater, more harrowing adventure involving Ashlyn is about to begin.


    If you would like to read the first chapter of In Golden Splendor, go HERE

    Saturday, July 13, 2013

    The Passion of the Purple Plumeria by Lauren Willig (Review)



  • Paperback: 480 pages

  • Publisher: NAL Trade (August 6, 2013)

  • ISBN-13: 978-0451414724



  • Colonel William Reid has returned home from India to retire near his children, who are safely stowed in an academy in Bath. Upon his return to the Isles, however, he finds that one of his daughters has vanished, along with one of her classmates.

    Having served as second-in-command to the Pink Carnation, one of England’s most intrepid spies, it would be impossible for Gwendolyn Meadows to give up the intrigue of Paris for a quiet life in the English countryside—especially when she’s just overheard news of an alliance forming between Napoleon and an Ottoman Sultan. But, when the Pink Carnation’s little sister goes missing from her English boarding school, Gwen reluctantly returns home to investigate the girl’s disappearance.

    Thrown together by circumstance, Gwen and William must cooperate to track down the young ladies before others with nefarious intent get their hands on them. But Gwen’s partnership with quick-tongued, roguish William may prove to be even more of an adventure for her than finding the lost girls…



    My Review:

    I really enjoyed reading the latest in the Pink Carnation series. We finally get to read Miss Gwen's story. I recommend reading them in order as she is a secondary character that is developed through them. Miss Gwen is known for her old maid vim and vinegar self. She is the chaperon for the pink carnation. She has a cane with a hidden blade that she pops people especially men with. Miss Gwen is part of the story set in the early 19th century. Most of the book is focused on her plot. There are also chapters focusing on the present day England part. Eloise is a historian living in England researching the pink carnation. She has a British boyfriend named Colin. They are looking for the same jewels that Miss Gwen is tracking down in the past. The switching back and forth is seamless. I loved how Miss Gwen and Colonel William Reid interact. Their relationship develops while they are looking for his daughter Lizzy and the pink carnation's sister Agnes. The ending surprised me but was satisfying. I look forward to the next book in the series. This is a light hearted romantic historical mystery book. Recommended. :)

    Renegade by Mel Odom (Review)





  • Paperback: 416 pages

  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers (June 21, 2013)

  • ISBN-13: 978-1414349312



  • Having grown up in the foster system, Private Pike Morgan’s rough exterior and problem with authority earn him few friends among his fellow Marines. When he’s not on missions for the Marine Reserve, Pike’s rebellious attitude and eagerness for vigilante justice have the local police regularly at his doorstep. Struggling to set down roots, and nervous of his desire to, Pike’s eager to answer the military’s call for another deployment.

    On a peacekeeping mission to Afghanistan, Pike and his squad soon find themselves entrenched in a heated war zone. After an American journalist is kidnapped by known terrorist Zalmai Yaqub, the whereabouts of this al Qaeda leader become a top priority for the American military. But when Yaqub flees to Pakistan, will anyone aid Pike in his hunt, or will this strong Marine find himself without an ally?

    My Review:

    I thought this was a good military suspense action book. It was too light on faith and too heavy on violence for my personal taste overall but I still liked the book. It fit the overall tone and setting of the book. This is the second in the Called to Serve series and I recommend reading them in order for background on the characters and plot. I was interested to read more about Pike Morgan's character. The author does not disappoint. I liked the progression of Pike's character that we get to see. The plot was interesting and I liked how he started connecting more with people. The secondary plot was the mission in Afghanistan. It felt underdeveloped and very background. The main story is Pike and his internal battle. I can't wait to read the next book in the series and see what happens to the characters. Recommended to fans of the genre especially.

    You Don't Know Me by Susan May Warren (Review)





  • Paperback: 384 pages

  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.; Original edition (September 21, 2012)

  • ISBN-13: 978-1414334844


  • 2013 Christy Award winner!

    To everyone who knows her, Annalise Decker is a model wife and mother. She’s a permanent member of the PTA, never misses her kids’ sporting events, and is constantly campaigning for her husband’s mayoral race.

    No one knows that Annalise was once Deidre O’Reilly, a troubled young woman whose testimony put a dangerous criminal behind bars. Relocated through the Witness Security Program to the sleepy town of Deep Haven, Deidre got a new identity and a fresh start, which began when she fell in love with local real estate agent Nathan Decker. Twenty years later, Annalise couldn’t be more unprepared for her past to catch up with her. When Agent Frank Harrison arrives with news that the man she testified against is out on bail and out for revenge, Annalise is forced to face the consequences of her secrets. Will she run again, or will she finally find the grace to trust those she loves most with both her past and her future?


    My Review:

    I really enjoyed reading this sixth book in the Deep Haven series. It can be read as a stand alone book also. I read the first book a long time ago but want to track down the others now. The characters and plot were interesting and well written. This is one of my favorite authors. She creates memorable characters and settings. I felt like I was really there. This was a great contemporary Christian suspense book. Highly Recommended.

    Damascus Countdown by Joel Rosenberg (Review)





  • Hardcover: 480 pages

  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (March 5, 2013)

  • ISBN-13: 978-1414319704




  • All eyes are on the Middle East. Israel has successfully launched a first strike on Iran, taking out all of their nuclear sites and six of their nuclear warheads—and causing The Twelfth Imam to order a full-scale retaliation. U.S. President William Jackson threatens to support a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning the Jewish State for unprovoked and unwarranted acts of aggression.

    Meanwhile, CIA operative David Shirazi has infiltrated the Iranian regime and intercepted information indicating that two Iranian nuclear warheads survived the attack and have been moved to a secure and undisclosed location. In danger not only from the ongoing missile strikes on Iran but also from the increasingly hostile and suspicious governments of multiple countries, David and his team are in a race against time to find the remaining nuclear warheads before disaster strikes.


    My Review:

    I thought this was an interesting religious thriller. This is book three in the series and I was a little confused in spots. There was history with the characters especially David's family that I felt I missed. It is definitely religious which does not bother me because I am a Christian. I read it from the viewpoint of fiction not truth. I do not pretend to understand at all the issues of the Middle East. So some of the material did not resonate with me. Otherwise it was a good story that moved along at a fair pace and held my attention. I did want to see what happened next. Recommended for fans of this genre.

    Friday, July 12, 2013

    TJ and the Time Stumblers: Switched! by Bill Myers (Review)





  • Age Range: 8 and up
  • Paperback: 176 pages

  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.; Reprint edition (February 14, 2012)

  • ISBN-13: 978-1414334578




  • Still on their quest to teach TJ Finkelstein the life lessons she'll need to be a great world leader, 23rd-century goofballs Tuna and Herby are brewing up even more trouble for the new kid in Malibu. As the boys try to repair their futuristic gadgets, a little glitch in their Thought Broadcaster Pen lands TJ in the body of her nemesis, TV star Hesper Breakahart . . . and vice versa. And the plot thickens when Tuna and Herby decide to put TJ's new look and superstar power to use. The time stumblers set up a concert for "Hesper" as a diversion while they sneak aboard a nuclear submarine and borrow a plutonium power pack--one of the items needed to fuel their time pod and get them out of TJ's life. Meanwhile, Tuna and Herby are hounded by their own nemesis, Bruce Bruiseabone, who's having a little trouble with forgiveness . . . a lesson that TJ realizes she might also need to learn as she walks a mile in Hesper's shoes--and body!


    My Review:

    This was another fun installment in the TJ and the Time Stumblers series. In this book TJ learns what it is like to walk a mile in someone else's shoes literally and the lesson of forgiving others. I was a little disturbed at Tuna and Herby sneaking aboard a military ship and stealing plutonium to fuel their time pod though. Otherwise I think it had the trademark fun and interesting characters.

    TJ and the Time Stumblers: Ho Ho Noo! by Bill Myers (Review)







  • Age Range: 8 and up
  • Paperback: 176 pages

  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (August 25, 2011)

  • ISBN-13: 978-1414334561



  • Ho-Ho-NOOO! is all about TJ Finkelstein learning the real meaning of Christmas as she prepares for her future as a world leader with a little help from her 23rd-century goofball friends, Tuna and Herby. In a competition with her middle sister, TJ races to earn money so she can give it to her father as a Christmas present; he’s lost his job and the family is preparing to spend their first Christmas without their mom. Thanks to Tuna and Herby’s help at her job interview, where their futuristic gadgets expose the true motivation of each candidate, TJ lands a job at the mall—making kids smile for Santa and eventually playing (a much smaller) Santa herself. That job turns into a nanny gig for pop star Lady Goo-Goo’s spoiled and unattended kids. She also takes on a delivery job to help with dreamy Chad Steel’s plan to provide a hearty meal for the homeless on Christmas Eve . . . only to find herself delivering caviar cream puffs on the whim of TV star and classmate Hesper Breakahart. Despite all her work, her efforts to get money for Christmas backfire, but in the end TJ realizes Christmas is really about being with those she loves and sharing the love God has given through Christ.


    My Review:

    This was another cute installment in the TJ and the Time Stumblers series. In this one TJ has to learn the lesson of the real meaning of Christmas. She lives in a city that prizes possessions and looks. She learns that it does not matter how much money you have but your family and friends. There were several hilarious aspects. I loved Lady Goo Goo which is a spoof of Lady Ga Ga. Tuna and Herby had some more of their not so successful attempts to help TJ. I think chapter book readers of both genders will enjoy this series.

    Monday, July 8, 2013

    Grounded by Neta and Dave Jackson (Review)

    This week, the
    Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
    is introducing
    Grounded
    Worthy Publishing (May 7, 2013)
    by
    Neta and Dave Jackson


    ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

    As a husband/wife writing team, we are enthusiastic about books, kids, walking with God, gospel music, and each other! Together we are the authors or coauthors of over 120 books. (You can see our Publication Record by clicking HERE.) In addition to writing several books about Christian community, we have been privileged to coauthor numerous books with expert resource people on a variety of topics from racial reconciliation to medical ethics to ministry to kids in gangs.

    But over the years the we have especially enjoyed writing for children and young people! This includes our award-winning TRAILBLAZER series, historical fiction about great Christian heroes and heroines for young people ages 8-12, and the four-volume HERO TALES: A Family Treasury of True Stories from the Lives of Great Christians, and the companion book, Heroes in Black History.

    Somewhere along the way, our own children grew up! Son Julian is Director of Experience Design for the Alder Planetarium in Chicago where he “provides the experience of exploring space” for visitors. He has two sons, Liam Isaac and Elijah David. Daughter Rachel graduated from Eastern Mennonite University and after working in the field of rape-crisis prevention went on to earn a Masters Degree in counseling from the University of Illinois. She is now a counselor at “Uni High School” in Champaign, Illinois. She is the loving mother of Havah Noelle (our first grandchild!) and Noah Zion, our youngest grandchild. The Jackson family also includes a Cambodian foster daughter, Samen Sang, who has four children.

    We live in Evanston, Illinois, where for twenty-seven years we were part of Reba Place Church, a Christian church community. We are now members of a multi-racial congregation in the Chicago area.

    ABOUT THE BOOK

    ...But Hope May Be Just Across the Street

    Grace Meredith is a beloved contemporary Christian recording artist whose career--and personal life--hits unexpected turbulence. She feels grounded--in more ways than one. Grace s fiancé, bothered by her outspoken stance on purity and her near-constant travel, has broken off their relationship. Exhausted and unable to continue her current concert schedule, Grace returns home to Chicago, where she is soon stranded in a major snowstorm. Facing new questions about her future and her faith, Grace finds herself connecting for the first time with the residents of her neighborhood. What she discovers in these unexpected relationships could change everything.

    Welcome to the Neighborhood The first in the Windy City Neighbors series, Grounded is an uplifting, contemporary story about ordinary people wrestling with the spiritual and practical issues of real life. The series employs the innovative storytelling technique of parallel novels, each with its own drama and story arc, but whose characters lives become intertwined and affect one another. Grounded welcomes you to Beecham Street--a typical, isolated American neighborhood that might just be a place of hope.

    If you would like to read the first chapter of Grounded, go Here.

    My Review:
    I loved this book. It is a great start to a new series. The plot and characters were well developed and interesting. I love Grace Meredith and her character popped off the page. I look forward to reading more about her and the secondary characters. This is a great contemporary Christian book. Highly Recommended. :)

    Saturday, July 6, 2013

    C. S. Lewis: A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet by Alister McGrath (Review)





    Fifty years after his death, C. S. Lewis continues to inspire and fascinate millions. His legacy remains varied and vast. He was a towering intellectual figure, a popular fiction author who inspired a global movie franchise around the world of Narnia, and an atheist-turned-Christian thinker.

    In C.S. Lewis—A Life, Alister McGrath, prolific author and respected professor at King’s College of London, paints a definitive portrait of the life of C. S. Lewis. After thoroughly examining recently published Lewis correspondence, Alister challenges some of the previously held beliefs about the exact timing of Lewis’s shift from atheism to theism and then to Christianity. He paints a portrait of an eccentric thinker who became an inspiring, though reluctant, prophet for our times.

    You won’t want to miss this fascinating portrait of a creative genius who inspired generations.


    My Review:

    I was very interested in this biography because C. S. Lewis has always been an author that stuck with me. He is most famous for his books The Narnia Chronicles, Mere Christianity, and The Screwtape Letters. I was hesitant because I have never been a big reader of biographies. They are usually dry, boring, and hard to read. This author does a great job in not letting it be that way. The usual information is in the book like family details. I like the way the book was divided and the chapter titles. It was well written and flowed well. There was so much about C. S. Lewis that I had no clue about. My mind and heart wanted to yell at him from the hindsight outsider view several times. I loved C. S. Lewis's view on literature: "In reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see." There is so much more I could write but to gain a view of what the book offers read the table of contents, it really spells it out. The book was easy to read and detailed without being bogged down. I now to want to read all of his works. He really was an interesting man and I'm glad I read his life story. It also provided a behind the scenes look at his life when he was writing the books and how they came to be which is great for readers. I highly recommend this book. I will not forget what I read in it. :)








    About the author:

    Alister E. McGrath is a historian, biochemist, and Christian theologian born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. A longtime professor at Oxford University, he now holds the chair in theology, ministry, and education at the University of London. He is the author of several books on theology and history, including Christianity's Dangerous Idea, In the Beginning, and The Twilight of Atheism. He lives in Oxford, England, and lectures regularly in the United States

    Wednesday, July 3, 2013

    Secrets Over Sweet Tea by Denise Hildreth Jones (Review)






    Secrets can be funny things. We think they keep us safe, but more often than not, they spill out when we least expect and make a mess out of everything. It’s a truth Scarlett Jo Newberry knows all too well—a truth Grace Shepherd and Zach Craig are about to learn the hard way. As the lives of this boisterous pastor’s wife, polished news anchor, and beleaguered divorce attorney intersect in the tree-lined streets of Franklin, Tennessee, scandal threatens to topple their carefully constructed worlds. Grasping at survival, they embark on a journey of friendship and courage, desperate to find a way back to laughter, love, and life.


    My Review:

    I loved this book. It is a great Southern relationship women's fiction book. The characters and plot are interesting and well written. Scarlett Jo is way out there but okay with herself. She is an outspoken loud atypical preacher's wife and her husband loves her. Grace Shepherd is a professional news anchor married to a professional hockey player who is an alcoholic. He is neglectful and their relationship has been on the rocks for years. She is very lonely and sad. Scarlett Jo will not leave her alone when she moves to the neighborhood but instead helps her as she starts to change her life. She hates divorcing her husband but knows it is the right thing to do at that point. She begins the healing process with the help of Scarlett Jo even though they are nothing alike. Zach Craig also lives on the street and is having an affair with the music director at the church where Scarlett Jo's husband is pastor. The Bible says every sin eventually comes to light and his wife caught him in the act. It is not all his fault though. She is cold, manipulating, and under her mother's thumb. He just wants to be needed and loved which is what we all want. He admits that what he did is wrong and wants to rebuild the relationship with his wife. All three main characters end up interacting with each other. The main theme of the book is reclaiming your heart. Denise is really good at character development and they pop off the page in this book. There are several fun and light hearted moments too. The book is not heavy and serious the whole time. I really felt for these characters. The author did a good job with the atmosphere and lyrical aspect to the writing. I finished this book last week and it has still stayed with me. I passed it on to a coworker who I thought it might help. There is a companion non fiction book about reclaiming your heart that I really want. Highly Recommended!






    About the author:

    Denise Hildreth Jones is an author and Bible Study teacher. Her books have been hailed as "smart and witty" by The Library Journal and featured twice in Southern Living. She lives in Franklin, Tennessee, with her husband, five bonus children, and her dog where she leads Reclaiming Hearts Ministries. Visit her at www.reclaiminghearts.com

    TJ and the Time Stumblers: OOPS! by Bill Myer (Review)






    The mishaps never end as TJ’s “helpers” from the 23rd century—Tuna and Herby—continue to study TJ as she learns the valuable lessons she’ll need to become a future world leader. In Oops!, TJ learns the importance of speaking and thinking well of people even when they are difficult, thanks to the Thought Broadcaster Pen, which exposes the thoughts of everyone it hits. As usual, Tuna and Herby’s attempts to fix the pen only make things worse—now all of TJ’s thoughts become reality! As she fights not to return meanness to others (and to clean up the disasters her thoughts cause, like turning whiny TV star Hesper Breakahart into a giant baby), TJ learns from her dad a little more about how her mother handled things: She kept reminding herself that each of us is God’s creation. And no matter how mean people may be, we all need to be loved. The same message also unfolds through a side story of classmate Chad Steel learning to treat a mean boy better.


    My Review:

    This is the third book in the TJ and the Time Stumblers series. All of them so far can be read alone. The characters do grow in each book so it is worth starting at the beginning. The names of the characters are a little corny like Hesper Breakahart. Younger kids might find them funny if they catch the meaning behind them. I liked the theme for this book. It was to not think bad about people even when they are mean to us. To remember that God created us all equal and loves us is an important lesson. Recommended.

    TJ and the Time Stumblers: AAAARGH! by Bill Myers (Review)






    This six-book series centers around two 23rd century goofballs, Tuna and Herby, who travel back in time to study TJ Finkelstein for their history project. TJ will someday become a great leader who demonstrates honesty, integrity, thoughtfulness, self-sacrifice, respect for others—all traits she hones and grasps through her adventures in this series. Unfortunately, Tuna and Herby get stuck in TJ’s time (modern day), so she has to deal with their schemes while juggling the normal issues of a seventh grader who has moved to a new city, is trying to fit in, and is coping with her mother’s death and her family’s new life.

    In AAAARGH!!!, Tuna and Herby try to help TJ with a book report by getting the author to write it for her, but all three of them quickly see the consequences of cheating spiral out of control. Meanwhile, TJ’s cute neighbor and classmate Chad Steel is getting ready for a big surfing competition—and learning his own lesson about honesty.


    My Review:
    This was another interesting installment in the TJ and the Time Stumblers series. This is the second book and could be read alone. The main message in this one is honesty and being truthful in all aspects of life. For TJ it was a book report that Tuna and Herby had the author of Treasure Island write for her. For Chad it was a surf board with extra powers. I did not like the scene in the beginning of the book where TJ stomped on the foot of a pirate and he said Argh and bleeps. This book should not have any cussing in it. It is meant for the 8 to 10 age group. Overall I liked it. Tuna and Herby bring out more interesting gadgets that never seem to work the way they are supposed too. Kids will find their antics funny. Recommended with caution.

    TJ and the Time Stumblers: New Kid Catastrophes by Bill Myers (Review)






    This six-book series centers around two 23rd century goofballs, Tuna and Herby, who travel back in time to study TJ Finkelstein for their history project. TJ will someday become a great leader who demonstrates honesty, integrity, thoughtfulness, self-sacrifice, respect for others—all traits she hones and grasps through her adventures in this series. Unfortunately, Tuna and Herby get stuck in TJ’s time (modern day), so she has to deal with their schemes while juggling the normal issues of a seventh grader who has moved to a new city, is trying to fit in, and is coping with her mother’s death and her family’s new life.

    In New Kid Catastrophes, TJ accidentally makes an enemy of Hesper Breakahart, the superstar who attends their school. And Tuna and Herby’s attempts to help just lead to one disaster after another. In the end, TJ is still very unpopular, but she learns the value of looking past appearances and gains a few friends—and the attention of the most popular boy in school.


    My Review:

    This is book one in a new series targeted to Christian tweens although I think upper elementary would like it best. They are simple and easy to read. I am 30 so my opinion may be a little different from the age group. I thought the plot and characters were interesting. The writing was not as great though. That age might not notice. I did like the way it had a lesson in it. This book it was not to judge based on appearance. Simple yet interesting and funny at times recommended.

    Widow of Gettysburg by Jocelyn Green

    This week, the
    Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
    is introducing
    Widow of Gettysburg
    River North; New Edition edition (April 12, 2013)
    by
    Jocelyn Green


    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

    Jocelyn Green is a child of God, wife and mom living in Cedar Falls, Iowa. She is also an award-winning journalist, author, editor and blogger. Though she has written nonfiction on a variety of topics, her name is most widely recognized for her ministry to military wives: Faith Deployed. Her passion for the military family was fueled by her own experience as a military wife, and by the dozens of interviews she has conducted with members of the military for her articles and books, Faith Deployed: Daily Encouragement for Military Wives and its sequel, Faith Deployed...Again: More Daily Encouragement for Military Wives. She is also co-author of both Stories of Faith and Courage from the War in Iraq & Afghanistan and Stories of Faith and Courage from the Home Front (forthcoming, May 2012). Her Faith Deployed Web site and Facebook page continue to provide ongoing support, encouragement and resources for military wives worldwide.





    ABOUT THE BOOK

    When a horrific battle rips through Gettysburg, the farm of Union widow Liberty Holloway is disfigured into a Confederate field hospital, bringing her face to face with unspeakable suffering--and a Rebel scout who awakens her long dormant heart.

    While Liberty's future crumbles as her home is destroyed, the past comes rushing back to Bella, a former slave and Liberty's hired help, when she finds herself surrounded by Southern soldiers, one of whom knows the secret that would place Liberty in danger if revealed.

    In the wake of shattered homes and bodies, Liberty and Bella struggle to pick up the pieces the battle has left behind. Will Liberty be defined by the tragedy in her life, or will she find a way to triumph over it? Widow of Gettysburg is inspired by first-person accounts from women who lived in Gettysburg during the battle and its aftermath.

    If you would like to read the first chapter of Widow of Gettysburg, go HERE.

    Monday, July 1, 2013

    Small Town Girl by Ann Gabhart (Review)






    How long can two people stand on the brink of love without plunging in headfirst?
    In the autumn of 1941, rumors of war whisper through Rosey Corner. The town practically vibrates with apprehension, as if it is holding its breath. But for Kate Merritt, it seems life is letting out a prolonged sigh. As Kate watches her sister marry the man Kate has loved since she was fifteen, her heart is silently breaking. And even the attentions of Jay Tanner, the handsome best man, can't draw her interest.

    Then suddenly, Pearl Harbor changes everything and Kate finds herself drawn to Jay in surprising ways. Could she truly be in love with him? And if he enlists, will she ever see him again?

    In her gentle and textured style, Ann H. Gabhart tells a timeless story of love, sacrifice, and longing that will grip your heart and stir your spirit. Fans of Gabhart's Angel Sister will love seeing Kate Merritt all grown-up, as well as other characters they have come to love.

    My Review:

    This was a great Christian historical fiction book. The author knows how to paint a picture with words. I did not realize this was a second book until after I finished reading this one. I don't think it detracted from the story although I would like to read it to know more about young Kate and Birdie. I loved the plot line and the time period. Kate and Jay hit it off at the beginning and the sparks continue to fly. They both have trust issues because of their past. I liked the ending and felt like it fit the book. Highly Recommended!






    Ann H. Gabhart is the bestselling author of several novels, including Angel Sister, Words Spoken True, The Outsider, The Believer, The Seeker, The Blessed, and The Gifted. She lives with her husband a mile from where she was born in rural Kentucky. Find out more at www.annhgabhart.com.


    **Available July 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.**

    Review copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review.