Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Judas Game by Ethan Cross GIVEAWAY

Enter the GIVEAWAY at the end of this post.
When a correctional officer climbs his watchtower and opens fire, federal investigator Marcus Williams and serial killer Francis Ackerman Jr. must join forces again to unearth the truth behind the incident. A serial killer is using the prison as his hunting ground. But the Judas Killer's ambitions don't end with a few murders. He wants to go down in history.

Ackerman is undercover among the inmates and Marcus tracks down the mastermind on the outside. The more they learn about what's happening in the prison, the more enemies they must face, including an inmate with no identity and known only as Demon. How does he fit into the Judas Killer's plans?

My Review:
This book was tough going for me. I have not read the earlier books in the series and I felt lost at the beginning of this one. There was not enough back story included in the early part of this novel to get me up to speed quickly. Because of that, I would suggest you read the earlier three books before reading this one.

A second reason this book was tough reading for me is because it is very descriptive of gruesome scenes. It was a bit much. One character is demon possessed and we get to see what he sees. There is lots of violence too and the scenes are graphically described.

This is a long novel made so by two aspects of it. Cross is often detailed in his descriptions. I remember him describing where a light switch was and why that was a bad place and that it should have been changed when the building was remodeled for its present use. And, of course, there are frequently detailed descriptions of scenes, often gruesome.

Another aspect of the lengthy novel is the ruminations of the characters. This is a novel for people who like to get into the mind of a serial killer. There is much about how it makes him feel to kill and to do it with torture.

I found one aspect of the novel very interesting. Part of the plot involves a new prison system. It is a private one and the thought is that the convicts can be rehabilitated. There is an interesting discussion about evil in the narrative. Marcus, the government agent and brother to a horrible serial murderer, comments, “I believe in evil. I just don't believe that people are evil. I think that men carry out evil deeds because they've been corrupted in one way or another, by lots of unseen forces. Things they had no control over.” The discussion is important because the prison facility where some of the action takes place is trying to bring the convicts to their good origin before something tainted them. Whether man is born good or already tainted would make for good discussion, as would the idea of rehabilitating serial murderers.

The book is rather well written. The character development is great, especially the graphically portrayed serial murderer helping the Department of Justice in this situation. The detailed plot is full of surprises.

Readers who enjoy a very complex plot with intense character development and lots of gruesome scenes will enjoy this novel. Sensitive readers may find it a bit too much, as I did. And do be sure to read the previous novels as there is not enough information in this one to really understand the history of the major characters and how that affects their current work.

You can read an excerpt here.

I am taking part in a blog tour of this book. Click here to view the 'The Judas Game by Ethan Cross' Tour Participants.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

Ethan Cross is the award winning international bestselling author of The Shepherd, The Prophet, The Cage, Callsign, Knight, Father of Fear, and Blind Justice. In addition to writing and working in the publishing industry, he has also served as the Chief Technology Officer for a national franchise, recorded albums and opened for national recording artists. He has been an active and involved member of the International Thriller Writers organization and Novelists Inc. He lives and writes in Illinois with his wife and their three children. You can find out more at his website, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Book Details
Genre: Suspense
Published by: The Story Plant
Publications Date: October 2016
Number of pages: 400
ISBN: 1611882346 (ISBN13: 9781611882346)
Series: Shepherd #4
You can buy your copy of The Judas Game by Ethan Cross at Amazon or Barnes & Noble and add it to your list on GoodReads.

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for the Story Plant and Ethan Cross. There will be 1 winner of one (1) @25 Giftcard AND there will be several winners of one (1) eBook copy of The Shepherd by Ethan Cross. The giveaway begins on September 29th and runs through December 5th, 2016.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Kingdom Prayer by Tony Evans

I have found that books on prayer generally fall into one of two categories. Some books emphasize the sovereignty of God and understand prayer as a means of intimate relationship with God and a stimulus for character transformation and growth. Other books emphasize prayer as a means to get things to happen. This book falls into the latter category.

Evans defines prayer as “the divinely authorized methodology to access heavenly authority for earthly intervention.” It is the “established mechanism to advance God's kingdom agenda on earth by accessing His authority in heaven and drawing it down.” “It is bringing into the physical what God has predetermined in the spiritual” “Prayer is the mechanism God has decreed for Him to release what He intends.”

I have found that books emphasizing prayer as a “mechanism” to get things to happen on earth must somehow deal with the sovereignty of God. Evans writes, “While God retains absolute sovereign authority and ownership, He has delegated relative authority to humanity within the sphere of influence that each person has been placed.” He suggests the example of the bank owning our house while we are responsible for the upkeep. But that example falls flat. Do we call the bank before we mow our lawn or fix a broken window? If not, then why would we need to be in touch with God?

Evans does make some good points. We often find prayer difficult because it takes us out of the realm of our five senses and into the spiritual. We are talking to someone we cannot see and who does not speak back to us audibly. He notes that humility is one of the key ingredients to effective prayer. So are faith, authority, surrender, obedience, and trust. Evans also makes sure readers do understand that they must check in with God first before they make a move. “Prayer is a tool to access God on the front end of the situations of your life.” He also warns against selfish motives and suggests we give consideration to how God will be glorified.

Evans' goal in writing the book, he says, is to confront readers with the power and authority available in prayer and to motivate them to use it. He wants readers to know what their spiritual rights are. Of believers, he writes, “And you are free to persistently remind Him through prayer of what is rightfully yours under His rule.”

If you believe your prayers control whether God can act, you will like this book. Prayer is mostly seen as a mechanism and a tool to get God to act. If you would rather read a book that emphasizes the interpersonal love relationship between God and man that happens with prayer, you will have to look elsewhere.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

Tony Evans is a pastor, bestselling author, and frequent speaker at Bible conferences and seminars. He has served as senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship for nearly four decades. He serves as president of The Urban Alternative, has a daily radio broadcast, and has written over 50 books.

Moody Press, 240 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Guarded by Christ by Heather Holleman

Holleman was reading Psalm 97:10 and wondered what it meant that God guards the hearts of His faithful ones. She decided to find out.

I appreciate Holleman's emphasis on God guarding us on the inside (as opposed to physical safety). Christ dwells in our inner being by the Holy Spirit and imparts all the characteristics of God's guarding presence to our soul. This reality made her want to learn a different way to be, to live from her inner being.

Her emphasis is on what is happening in the soul (not the spirit). That is where we run our lives and that is where Jesus dwells, she writes. This teaching is new to me as I always considered Jesus in me was a spiritual connection, that He dwelt in the spirit part of me, not the soul. I am not clear if Holleman considers the soul/spirit to be one aspect of our humanity or not.

Holleman knows that we humans tend to forget so she developed a method to remember the guarding. She pictured a towering medieval fortress to help her recall the truth. A catapult (confidence) and window (hope) reminded her of more truth. A moat represented the peace from the guarding presence of the Spirit. Some may question the use of imagery but David had the same idea when he spoke of God as his rock of refuge to which he could always go. (Ps. 71:3)

In addition to the memory technique ideas, Holleman has included great biblical teaching on the aspects of being guarded. I really liked her thoughts on living the crucified life in the power of the Holy Spirit. She has added questions at the end of each chapter for further thought and discussion.

This book is worth serious reading and intense thought. Holleman has a morning routine of proclaiming the truth that she was dwelling in Christ's peace, meditating on Scriptures and picturing the fortress. She found more peace and was no longer ruled by her anxious mind. Shifting her attention to her inner being where Jesus dwells helped her to have a good foundation for choices and living in general.

Food for thought: “We are dwelling in Him, and nothing can touch our souls in that most marvelous secret place.”

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Heather Holleman has a PhD in English Literature from the University of Michigan. She teaches college writing at Penn State. She serves on the staff of Cru and is taking seminary classes in the summers. She is married and has two daughters. You can find out more about her at

Moody Press, 192 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Monday, October 17, 2016

From Depths We Rise by Sarah Rodriguez

This is memoir is one where I wondered how much more Rodriguez could endure and remain faithful to Christ. It is an amazing story of tragedy and miracle.

Rodriguez had tried to get pregnant with no success. She found she had a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome. She and her husband tried fertility drugs. Nothing. Then surgery. Nothing. Fertility specialists. Still nothing.

One day her husband had blood in his urine. He had kidney cancer. Surgery and treatment found him declared cancer clear. They had an IVF pregnancy resulting in twins. One miscarried but the other was born – a boy.

But then the cancer returned to her husband. Chemo treatment, then surgery, and then he had a stroke while in rehab. He never recovered and died.

Rodriguez had a choice to make. She decided to have the remaining eggs implanted. A baby girl was born but soon suffered from meningitis. Scans showed brain damage and the baby girl neared death. And then something surprising happened.

This is an amazing memoir. It is a true testimony to trusting God in the midst of tragedy. Rodriguez writes in a way that captured my interest to the very end. She is very honest with her feelings as she kept a grasp on her faith. Hers is an encouraging story and I highly recommend it.

You can watch the book trailer here.

You can find out more about the book and the author at

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Sarah Rodriguez is an author, speaker and blogger. She is the creator of the Choose Joy Project to honor her late husband. She lives in Oklahoma with her son and daughter.

Shiloh Run Press, 256 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Icon Media. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

A Life for a Life by Lynda McDaniel GIVEAWAY

Enter the Giveaway at the end of this post.
This is the most satisfying mystery I have read in ages. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The characters are the strongest aspect of this novel and they are delightful. Della Kinkaid bought a small grocery store in rural Applachia, making a new life for herself. She'd been a high profile reporter in Washington, D.C. but had had enough of the pressure and danger. When the body of a young woman is found in the woods, Della revives her reporter instincts and will not let the murder go unsolved.

My favorite character by far, and I am sure by design, is Abit. He's a fifteen year old special needs (although they don't call it that in Appalachia) young man. Son of the previous store owners, he has his chair at the front of the store. He's a sweet fellow and Della treasures him dearly.

As good as the characters are, the construction of the novel is great too. The narrative alternates between Della and Abit, between the voice of an educated reporter and that of a country guy who hasn't made it beyond fifth grade. That way of developing the story went exceptionally well.

I highly recommend this novel to those who enjoy well crafted characters and a captivating plot. There is plenty of local color and great descriptions. I could just picture some of those Appalachian men and women. The mystery is a good one too. Thank goodness for Della as the incompetent sheriff would have never solved the case. And keep the tissues handy as the end of the novel will tug at your heart. This is the first novel I've read by McDaniel and I'll be looking for more.

I am taking part in a blog tour of this book. Click here to view the 'A Life for a Life by Lynda McDaniel' Tour Participants.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Lynda McDaniel has written fifteen books and more than 1,200 articles for major magazines. She is also a writing coach who enthusiastically helps others express their creativity and write with confidence. She lies in Sebastopol, California, with her family. You can find out more at Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Book Details
Genre: Mystery
Published by :Lynda McDaniel Books
Publication Date: 09/20/2016.
Number of Pages: 337
ISBN: 9780997780802
Series: This is the first book in a new series.
Purchase at Amazon or add it to your GoodReads list.

Don't Miss the GIVEAWAY!
This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Lynda McDaniel. There will be 5 winners of one (1) ebook copy of a Life for a Life by Lynda McDaniel. The giveaway begins September 29th and runs through December 3rd, 2016.

Click on this Link a Rafflecopter giveaway to enter the giveaway.

Get more great reads at Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Wrapped in God's Grace by Barbara Bras GIVEAWAY

Enter the Giveaway at the end of this post.
This is a memoir different from any I have read before. It is more like three vignettes, two about the author's life and a third about her grandparents.

The first vignette covers a recent sixteen year period and tells of how she and her husband had been waiting for seven years to have a child. At thirty five years old, she fell into despair. And then there was an adoption that healed her heart. She did not realize that there would be difficulties and challenges. At fifty one years old, she realizes her fifteen year old son is heading toward prison. She is trusting God will save her son from himself.

The middle vignette is about her grandparents, survivors of the atrocities in Armenia in 1915. We read of families forced marched by Turkish soldiers. Bras's grandmother lost her own mother during the march then ended up in an orphanage. Bras's grandfather had been sent to South America and then returned to fight for his native country. He managed to find his surviving female cousin and they made their way to America where they married.

The third vignette takes us back to Bras growing up in the 1950s. She tells of breaking her engagement, failing at college and dropping out, going with some fellows to Wyoming, coming back home pregnant, marriage and divorce, getting a teaching degree, and dating. It wasn't until she surrendered her will to God that her life turned out better than she could have ever imagined.

Bras does a good job creating readable accounts of her experiences and that of her grandparents. She has added dialog and action, making the stories very interesting. The order of the stories is unusual. We first read of recent events leading up to the present. Next we go back two generations. The final story goes back to Bras's teen and young adult years. I would have preferred the stories to have been in chronological order.

As is sometimes the case with memoirs, there is an emphasis on her disobedient years and actions. In the end, however, we are reminded of God's grace and how He provided for her. I would have preferred fewer boyfriend stories and more about God's grace and mercy.

I am taking part in a blog tour of this book. You can find links to other reviews and a guest post from the author here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Barbara Bras has written her memoir to show the amazing way God has blessed her. She has also written a novel that was recently released. She lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. You can find out more at

Everlasting Arms LLC, 150 pages. You can purchase a copy here.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Friday, October 14, 2016

2 Chairs by Bob Beaudine

His mother suggested this morning spiritual discipline in 1976. The first time he tried it, it changed his life and he's been doing it ever since.

What Beaudine's mother suggested was getting two chairs, sitting in one and expecting God to sit in the other one. God wants to spend time with us every morning, Beaudine assures us. God has been waiting for times like this when He has our attention and can talk to us.

Beaudine shares his own experience with this discipline and the experiences of many others. He helps us through the initial difficulties informing us that it will take time. The examples he includes helps us understand how we might experience God in this way. He also covers the obstacles we might encounter and give practical steps for the discipline.

To get us on our way, Beaudine asks three disruptive questions:
Does God know your situation?
Is it too hard for Him to handle?
Does He have a good plan for you?

This spiritual discipline is profound. “The idea that the Creator of the universe and the King of kings, God Himself, is waiting to meet with you seems too good to be true. But it is true.” (42) The challenge is believing God will actually speak with us. Examples of the experiences of others that Beaudine has included really encourages us to begin our morning as he suggests.

I highly recommend this book. God does want an intimate relationship with each of us and this morning routine will set the stage for vital communication. We can start by asking, as Beaudine suggests, “God, is there one thing You would like me to change today?”

You can find out more about the book and read endorsements here.

You can watch the book trailer here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Bob Beaudine is the president and CEO of Eastman & Beaudine and recognized as the top sports and entertainment search executive in the U.S. Beaudine also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Texas Rangers. He and his wife have three adult daughters and live in Plano, Texas.

Worthy, 192 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Tangled Webs by Irene Hannon

Cabins on the edge of a national park are a great place to get one's life back together again. That's what Finn is doing after a devastating Middle Eastern mission left him a civilian with lasting wounds. Nearby Dana is trying to move forward in her life after an experience in New York left her with lingering physical effects.

The two meet and hesitatingly form a friendship. Danger creeps into their idyllic scene when it appears someone is trying to get Dana to leave her cabin. Finn comes to the rescue, endangering his life.

There is not as much suspense in this novel as there has been in others I've read by Hannon. This is a novel concentrating on character growth and budding romance much more so than action and suspense. There is no mystery involved as we know all along who is doing what and why.

I would recommend this novel to those who enjoy a Christian romance that concentrates on characters overcoming past hurts to trust again. Readers looking for a good deal of danger and suspense should look elsewhere.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Irene Hannon is the best selling and award winning author of over 35 novels. She and her husband live in Missouri. You can find out more at

Revell, 368 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.