Category Archives: REVIEWS

I love reading GOOD Christian Fiction and Non-Fiction books.

For that reason I am thankful that Tyndale House Publishers and Bethany House Publishers have invited me to be a participant in their book review process.

C. S. Lewis said, “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”

To that I say, “Amen!”

I hope my readers will find some GREAT reads with books that I have found. Books that build their foundations on The Book above all books.

Tolkien once wrote,

“Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate
And though I oft have passed them by
A day will come at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon, East of the Sun.”

Ah, me.

So many books.

So little time.

A Cup of Hope: Resting in the Promise of God’s Faithfulness

A Cup of Hope Emilie BarnesA Cup of Hope by Emilie Barnes is just one of those books you stumble upon, and you suddenly know, “This one is going to change everything!”

I blog about hope.

I can’t breathe in this busted broken world a single moment without it—but sometimes—the candle of hope in me burns low. And, when it does I beg the LORD for a fresh infusion; a fresh outpouring from His Spirit to mine.

Thanks Emilie, for being His conduit.

I’ll let Emilie speak for herself for the rest of this post. Her words shine still in this dark world. They come to us straight from the shores of heaven, to all of us here today, to light our way.

~  FAITH FOR THE CLIMB  ~

You just can’t see as much when you’re climbing the mountain as you can from the top.

I guess that’s obvious if you’re hiking in the Rockies or the Smokies or the Himalayas. But it’s not always so evident when you’re just trying to get through life.

Sometimes it’s hard to tell which of the two tempting directions is the best to take. Is it better to take the meandering trail or the steep climb over the rocks? Should you push on harder to reach the top? Should you rest and take your time and risk bad weather later on?

A Cup of HopeAnd sometimes you get so confused and discouraged and downright weary, you’re tempted to just give up hope altogether.

But it helps to keep in mind exactly what’s going on.

You’re climbing a mountain, remember, and one day you’ll reach the top. One day you’ll be able to stand and look out over all the valleys—even look back at the winding path that brought you to the top—and it will all become clear.

I try to think of that on the days when I’m fatigued or in pain or just discouraged, when I’m confused and worried about what will happen next.

I’m still on the mountain, so I’ve got to remember that my perspective is faulty. I just don’t have the whole picture the way God does, the way I will have it someday.

Oh, I have some pretty good hints. I have instructions from the One who created the mountain. I have stories from climbers who have gone on the path before me and companions who are climbing with me. (How I depend on their help and encouragement!) And of course I have those moments along the way when wonderful vistas suddenly unfold before me, when I round a corner to see the checkered valleys spread out below and the summit shining whitely up above.

A Cup of HopeI have all that to enable me as I climb up this mountain called Life. You do, too. I really believe that the God who created us and redeemed us has equipped us with what we need to make it to the top.

Still, we have to face the fact that some of the time, maybe most of the time, we won’t be able to see exactly where we’re going.

But that’s where faith comes in. Faith always travels hand in hand with hope—it’s what enables us to keep our hopes up when the way becomes rockier and more obscure. Faith is what we need to keep moving on, moving up, trusting our Guide, trusting it will all be worth it.

Trusting that if we continue on, we’ll make it to the top and everything will all be clear.

And yes, I know that’s hard to remember when you’re stuck on the mountainside. But it might help to follow this brief checklist for keeping your hopes while you’re climbing hard or when you think you might be lost:

  • Trust the climbing map—God’s word—and pay attention to your Guide. You’re not expected to make this climb without help.
  • Pace yourself—you don’t have to make it all in one day. Without adequate rest you’ll never make it to the summit.
  • Remember where you are and where you’re going—but try to accept that your perspective is limited. (That’s why you have the map and the Guide!)
  • Refresh yourself by remembering the goal—and those moments when it was all clear to you.
  • Look back to where you’ve been and be grateful for your progress.
  • Help and enjoy your fellow climbers.
  • Take care of your equipment—your body, mind, and spirit. They’ve been issued to you by God , and they’ll help carry you to where you need to be.

A Cup of Hope Emilie BarnesA Cup of Hope is out of print but used copies are still available on Amazon at the link below:

https://www.amazon.com/Cup-Hope-Resting-Promise-Faithfulness/dp/0736907726

A Cup of Hope Emilie Barnes

Russia Rising: Headlines and History Collide With Prophecy

Mark Hitchcock’s new book, RUSSIA RISING: Tracking The Bear In Bible Prophecy is a book you should read. In it’s pages you will get an up close and eerie look at what the headlines are pointing us to—the new Russian Czar.

RUSSIA RISING, Mark HitchcockHitchcock goes on to say, “Forbes has named Vladimir Putin the world’s most powerful person four years in a row… In 2014 Vladimir Putin was chosen as Russia’s “Man of the Year…” and “Putin is the leading candidate for Time magazines ‘Person of the Year’ in 2017.”

Headline in the Atlantic: It’s Putin’s World.

Garry Kasparov in his book, Winter Is Coming says, “Putin’s Russia is clearly the biggest and most dangerous threat facing the world today.”

MAN WITH A PLAN.

Vladimir Putin is many things—KGB officer, master politician, multibillionaire, ruthless autocrat—but above all, Vladimir Putin is a man with a plan. His plan is to unmake the world order that has stood since the end of the Cold War, especially in Europe, and replace it with one where Russia has the power, influence, and military strength to get its way on any issue. So says, Douglas Schoen author of Putin’s Master Plan.

An exhaustive study of Ezekiel 38-39.

Hitchcock presents us with an elaborate picture that blends Russian history, with Bible prophecies and today’s headlines. He takes us step-by-step, verse-by-verse, making his case. If you are a student of Bible prophecy and looking for “the next big thing” to manifest, then you absolutely need to read RUSSIA RISING, because this book takes us right up to the threshold of what may be the looming Gog-Magog war in Ezekiel.

RUSSIA RISING is available now on Amazon.

And at all other fine book retailers. Be sure to check out Mark Hitchcock’s author page on Goodreads.

My continued thanks to Tyndale House Publishers who sent me this book in exchange for my review.

Freedom’s Ring

Freedom's RingHeidi Chiavaroli’s new book FREEDOM’S RING is one of those novels you will want to read in one sitting.

Alright, I confess, it took me two days to finish it but it’s hard to say what I liked best about this book.

That’s because Freedom’s Ring takes so many of my favorite story elements, then serves them up in a fabulous feast of history, mystery, and romance, with a healthy dollop of family strife and conflict thrown in for good measure.

I truly enjoyed Heidi’s  easy and comfortable way of telling a story.

She draws the reader in right from the very start and although she bounces from past to present with each new chapter, (something I usually dislike) she has intertwined  her characters from the Revolutionary War and her contemporary heroes from the Boston Marathon Bombing, in such a skillful way, that I really didn’t mind the back and forth all that much.

Her fictional story is actually believable!

This tale of terror and war, love and heartbreak, unfolds in such an honest and down-to-earth way that it made me believe Heidi might be sharing some of her own family history with me.

Our story opens with Annie David, a victim of the Boston Marathon Bombing, trying desperately in her own strength to overcome her PTSD, and by doing so, put her fractured family life back together again.

Now, enter Brad Kilroy, her knight in tarnished armor, who “rescued her” on the day of the bombing, but Brad comes with a boatload of his own baggage from his traumatic days of serving overseas in Iraq.

Nevertheless, our emotionally wounded hero and heroine decide to join forces, put their heads together, and go in search of answers pertaining to a mysterious family heirloom that Brad has given to Annie. Their search introduces them to Liberty Caldwell, a young patriot from the Revolutionary War. Who was she, and how does Liberty’s story from centuries past, connect to Annie and Brad?

I love the way the author has used flawed and broken people to share the timeless truths of the Gospel message, and demonstrate for all of us once again, how the principles it contains are the real glue that holds our lives together—whether the year is 1775 or 2015!

Personally, I gave this book five stars, and it is now on my “Favorite Books” shelf on my Goodreads profile!

FREEDOM’S RING is available now, on Amazon, or at your other fine book retailers.


YOU CAN MEET HEIDI HERE: and  please be sure to check out Heidi Chiavaroli’s author page on Goodreads, as well as her book’s promotional page.

My thanks again to Tyndale House Publishers for sending me a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review.

 

Dark Deception: Leave The Lights On!

Dark Deception by Nancy MehlDARK DECEPTION had me jumping at shadows & sleeping with the lights on, yikes! Grabbing me at page one, it whisked me off to the murky world of psychotic serial killers and their equally creepy groupies.

We follow our heroine Kate O’Brien to the small-town of Shelter Cove, Arkansas, where she is endeavoring to rebuild her life after four years in the witness protection program. Kate still battles with PTSD and survivor’s guilt long after the brutal attack that stole her identity, and  snuffed out the life of her beloved twin sister.

Now new evidence comes to light and seems to suggest that the man convicted as the brutal B. E. K. murderer wasn’t the killer after all!

Kate’s recovery is suddenly turned upside down as she is subpoenaed to testify in a new trial, but she is afraid to go back into that other life, a world that nearly destroyed her. She will only return if Tony DeLuca, the deputy Marshal who protected her during the original trial will escort her.

Tony readily takes on the assignment; Kate’s beauty and inner strength made more of an impression on him than he expected. But when Kate’s safety is threatened, and people close to Kate start dying, Tony must race against the clock to keep her alive and put this ugly case to rest before anyone else gets killed.

Leave The Lights On!

If you enjoy a great whodunit then you’ll want to get your own copy. This thriller is one wild ride! The story is constantly twisting and turning, keeps the reader guessing, and all while they keep checking over their shoulder and keeping the lights on.

DARK DECEPTION is now available on Amazon or at your other fine book retailers.  It is Book Two in Nancy Mehl’s Defenders of Justice series.

I want to thank Bethany House Publishers for sending me this complimentary book in exchange for my review.

Women Who Move Mountains: Not The Status Quo!

Women Who Move Mountains kind of blew my doors off. I mean, if you’re looking for the status quo in books on prayer, this is NOT it.

Women Who Move Mountains

Sue Detweiler has written a book with a fresh new approach to an old problem in the church—namely our prayerlessness!

When I read a book on prayer, frankly I am expecting a whole wheelbarrow of “should” and “ought” with a healthy sprinkling of “guilt” thrown in for good measure.

Instead, Women Who Move Mountains takes us on a journey to inner healing and wholeness that comes out into “a wide and spacious place” of new and fresh intimacy with God.

Wow! This is definitely not where I thought this book would lead me. Yet, Mrs. Detweiler seems to believe that it is our unhealed insecurities, wounds, and life-baggage that keep us following God at a distance—and thereby increases our reluctance to pray.

When you think about it this makes total sense to me.

I especially appreciated this book’s down-to-earth, heart-to-heart, “let’s ALL get REAL” approach. She uses simple and honest stories to illustrate clearly why she believes most of us avoid prayer. There are three bonus sections in the back of the book: 21 Days To Spiritual Breakthrough, Guidelines For Taking A Spiritual Retreat, and Guidelines For Fasting.

I think that this is possibly the most “common sense” book on prayer, and learning to pray with power, that I have ever read.

I also liked the fact that Women Who Move Mountains is tailored for group study, but the author’s website also offers a free downloadable journal so the reader can do this book solo if they desire.

SueDetweiler.com

You may get your copy of the book from Amazon or at any other fine book retailer.

I want to thank Bethany House Publishers for sending me this complimentary copy of the book in exchange for my review.

North Vietnam: Under The Cover of Light

Under The Cover of Light was a difficult book for me to read. I mean, Vietnam was my war. Guys from my graduating class of 1969 were signing-up for military service before they finished their senior year!

And yes, I will never forget the funerals that took place in our little town.

Vietnam War POW

Vietnam was up close and personal for me.

Yet as tough a “read” as this story was for me, I am so glad I read this book. There are eternal lessons for all of us in Jerry Curtis’s seven and a half years of horror as a POW in North Vietnam.

The book has lots of military jargon and that really slowed me down, but once I got past all of that, I began to identify with the timeless truths woven throughout this story. The transformation that our prayers bring. The unity forged in the fires of shared suffering.  The inability of anyone or anything to keep us separate from the keeping power of Christ’s love—even in a pit from hell dubbed—Briarpatch.

Jerry Curtis asked all the questions any of us ask when we find ourselves in circumstances beyond our control.

But, in one of his darkest moments a fellow POW reaches out to him and he realizes,

“…the sacrament through the walls led Jerry to understand that wrapped up in any explanation as to why believers might experience horrific circumstances in their lives was OPPORTUNITY—opportunity to fulfill a God-glorifying task, heightened by or as a direct result of the horrific event itself. The tragedy either brought others across a believer’s path who needed to receive God’s light FROM the believer or who needed to see God’s light THROUGH the believer. Then, once engaged, that person perhaps would become a light bearer too.

Jerry realized he had been a conduit for God’s glory to an unknown and unseen prisoner, and an eternal truth surfaced in his mind: the deeper the darkness, the more brilliant the light.”

I am so glad I read this heroic story. We need to be reminded that there are still heroes in this world.

Honestly, the accounts of torture are tough to get through, but the spiritual message from this man’s experience is one we can all grow and benefit from.

My thanks to Tyndale House Publishers for sending this complimentary copy in exchange for my review.

Under The Cover of Light is available on Amazon or at your other fine book retailers.

C. S. Lewis: Thoughts On Books and Reading

c s lewisC. S. Lewis (1898-1963) was arguably the most influential Christian thinker of his time, and his thought has long outlasted him.  It would be difficult indeed to find someone who has had more influence than Lewis on the modern classical education renewal.  From his great works of fiction (The Chronicles of Narnia, Out of the Silent Planet, The Great Divorce, and The Screwtape Letters) to his books on Christianity and education (Mere Christianity and The Abolition of Man, to name a couple), Lewis has had a long reach.

thought on reading great books c s lewis

Obviously, such a stellar thinker and prolific writer gives us much to ponder, but here is a small sampling of “quotables” from C.S. Lewis on one of his favorite subjects: books and reading.

1.“Those who have greatly cared for any book whatever may possibly come to care, some day, for good books.  The organs of appreciation exist in them.  They are not impotent.  And even if this particular boy is never going to like anything severer than science-fiction, even so,

‘The child whose love is here, at least doth reap
One precious gain, that he forgets himself.’” 

from Lilies That Fester

2.“We must attack the enemy’s line of communication.  What we want is not more little books about Christianity, but more little books by Christians on other subjects – with their Christianity latent.

From God in the Dock, “Christian Apologetics”

3.“But there is another sort of travelling and another sort of reading.  You can eat the local food and drink the local wines, you can share the foreign life, you can begin to see the foreign country as it looks, not to the tourist, but to its inhabitants.  You can come home modified, thinking and feeling as you did not think and feel before.  So with the old literature.  You can go beyond the first impression that a poem makes on your modern sensibility.  By study of things outside the poem, by comparing it with other poems, by steeping yourself in the vanished period, you can then re-enter the poem with eyes more like those of the natives; now perhaps seeing that the associations you gave to the old words were false, that the real implications were different than you supposed.”

from Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Literature

4.“If only one had time to read a little more: we either get shallow and broad or narrow and deep.”

from The Letters of C.S. Lewis to Arthur Greeves

c s lewis God in the Dock5.“There is a strange idea abroad that in every subject the ancient books should be read only by the professionals, and that the amateur should content himself with the modern books.  Thus I have found as a tutor in English Literature that if the average student wants to find out something about Platonism, the very last thing he thinks of doing is to take a translation of Plato off the library shelf and read the Symposium.  He would rather read some dreary modern book ten times as long, all about ‘isms’ and influences and only once in twelve pages telling him what Plato actually said.  The error is rather an amiable one, for it springs from humility.  The student is half afraid to meet one of the great philosophers face to face.”

from God in the Dock, “On the Reading of Old Books”

— Brian Phillips, CiRCE INSTITUTE

The Maggie Bright, Mystery Meets History at Dunkirk

I love it when an author takes a mystery and wraps it around true historical events. That’s what we have here in The Maggie Bright, A Novel of Dunkirk by Tracy Groot. The book is full of endearing and lovable square-pegs like Murray, Mrs. Shrew and the Burglar Vicar with vivid and colorful historical detail that is set against the backdrop of that Green and Glorious Island during one of her most desperate hours—Dunkirk.

The Maggie Bright

England, 1940. Clare Childs knew life would change when she unexpectedly inherited the Maggie Bright—a noble fifty-two-foot yacht. In fact, she’s counting on it. But the boat harbors secrets. When a stranger arrives, searching for documents hidden onboard, Clare is pulled into a Scotland Yard investigation that could shed light on Hitler’s darkest schemes and prompt America to action.  Across the Channel, Hitler’s Blitzkrieg has the entire British army in retreat with little hope for rescue at the shallow beaches of Dunkirk. With time running out, Churchill recruits civilian watercraft to help. Hitler is attacking from land, air, and sea, and any boat that goes might not return. Yet Clare knows Maggie Bright must answer the call—piloted by an American who has refused to join the war effort until now and a detective with a very personal motive for exposing the truth.  The fate of the war hinges on this rescue. While two men join the desperate fight, a nation prays for a miracle.

It’s been awhile since a book reached out and dragged me into a story like this one. The Maggie Bright,  is not what I expected but, “Wow, what a ride!” It took off right from the start, and by the time I reached page 86 and the following, I was hooked good and proper.

She fell upon her notes with hand-clasped rapture. “Isn’t life just full of glorious havoc at every turn? My dear Cecil would have something to say about these extraordinary times. He’s giving St. Peter an earful now, surely prodding him to join the great cloud of witnesses surrounding me; telling him to look on, just to see what that woman is up to next. Always called me ‘that woman.’ Always quite proud of me. Thought of me as rather a maverick…”

When Clare reached for a plate of toast crumbs, Mrs. Shrew placed her hand over Clare’s and said earnestly, “We’re in it together, aren’t we—this glorious and dreadful time that has come upon us?

I read this book in one day because I could not put it down!

I don’t think you will be able to either.

And let me finally say, “Bravo Ms. Groot, bravo!” I loved this book! You certainly make history come alive.

The Maggie Bright is available now on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Target, as well as your other fine book retailers.

I am most thankful to Tyndale House Publishers for sending me this complimentary copy in exchange for my review, and I sincerely hope there will be many more like this one to come!

 

DEEP EXTRACTION, An FBI Task Force Novel

DEEP EXTRACTION is another winner from DiAnn Mills—author of Tyndale House Publishers FBI Task Force novels. This title is the second in the series. The first title was Deadly Encounter and it is still available online.

Fiction Deep ExtractionTori Templeton is our heroine, an FBI agent with real flaws and fears she is struggling to overcome. Her partner Matt Dublin is the guy you love to hate, wearing his vitriol in plain sight from that giant chip on his shoulder. Of course there is our hero, Cole Jeffers who comes off as somewhat of an enigma, but  I liked these characters because of their imperfections. They come off as real people doing a tough and thankless job.

The story begins with the murder of Nathan Moore, gas and oil magnate from Houston, Texas. A bombing at one of Nathan’s oil rigs days earlier indicates his death could be part of a bigger conspiracy. Complicating things is the friendship Tori and Cole shared with the victim and his family, as they fight to keep their personal feelings separate from their primary goal of solving Nathan’s murder.

Deep Extraction is a good mystery story. One that will keep you guessing. Readers will also find the gospel’s timeless message woven throughout its crackling dialogue and unfolding plot.

I thank Tyndale House Publishers and the Author for sending me this complimentary copy in exchange for my review.

Deep Extraction

DEEP EXTRACTION available on preorder from Amazon or in April at these other fine retail sites.

 

 

 

Abandoned Faith: Enlightening & Hopeful!

Abandoned FaithWhen you first look, Abandoned Faith is not a book you expect to be brimming with hopeful strategies. Yet that is exactly what this book delivers! It provides lots of facts with correlating interviews and surveys on millennial’s and the many problems they face.

I don’t usually enjoy reading a book filled with lots of statistics. Yet as I read this one, I began to see how all that information could help parents and churches by giving them the “how  to” in developing an effective prayer and action strategy to reach these kids .

  • Abandoned Faith brings hope to parents  and churches who are despairing over what to do about their wayward millennial’s.
  • It encourages them to release all shame for past mistakes, surrendering their millennial’s to a God who is able to bring them back home to the Faith.
  • It invites them to stand on the irrevocable promises found in God’s Word because He loves millennial’s and He will be faithful to them.
  • And finally, it provides creative ideas for reaching out with real and tangible ways to provide help for our millennial’s.

I loved that!

It’s obvious the authors have a deep and abiding love for these young adults. I appreciated their frankness, and at times, bold and brutal honesty. The ways they addressed the failures of parents and the Church head on. Perhaps it is time for some much needed “tough love.” Today’s Church needs more effective ways of reaching out to our millennial adults. Ways that are relevant to their unique needs. I think this book provides a good starting point.

When interviewing Mark Hall, someone McFarland considers a front line expert on millennial’s, he asked Hall if he was optimistic that millennial’s will be the generation to bring revival to America. He responded, “[Christian] millennial’s love God and accept that Jesus is the Son of God. But they are not in love with the church. They will not give as cooperatively through the church budget as they will a particular cause. They are online givers for the most part but will give where they see ‘fruit.’ Can millennial’s bring revival back to America? If we continue to embrace the exclusivity of Christ, maintain authentic relationships, confront pluralism, and preach the gospel, then yes, spiritual renewal will come. Don’t expect a breakout event like the old crusades where sporting venues were packed out. Expect it to look more like the church in the book of Acts.”

The book of Acts? Wow! Now that statement gives me REAL hope!

My thanks to Focus on the Family and Tyndale House Publishers for sending me this complimentary copy and requesting my review. Abandoned Faith is available now on Amazon.

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