Friday, November 24, 2017

All Things New by John Eldredge

What we feel about the future impacts how we feel now. Eldredge wants readers to have hope, “the confident expectation of goodness coming to us.” (9) Jesus promised the renewal of all things in Matt. 19:28. Restoration of all things is coming, not annihilation.

After building a case for our need for hope, Eldredge unpacks what the renewal of all things means to us. “The renewal of all things simply means that the earth you love – all your special places and treasured memories – is restored and renewed and given back to you. Forever.” (35) He awakens our imagination to what earth would be like, restored to its full glory. The animal kingdom will be restored. We will be too, our bodies, our characters, all will be healed and restored. There will be a settling of accounts. Apologies will be made and received. (121) Wrongs will be avenged. (148)

This all sounds wonderful but I was left with a few questions. Eldredge reminds us that some will not be a part of this renewal. (191) He failed to address how believers will feel when close friends or family members are not part of the renewal. “Nothing is lost, not for the friends of God,” Eldredge declares. (187) Will that be the case for a parent when an unsaved child is not part of the renewal?

Eldredge encourages readers to know that “everything will be restored to you and then some...” (200) He is an outdoors person and wrote of bow hunting moose in the wilds of the Yukon – a “dream come true.” (202) For believers who love hunting and fishing, will that be restored and then some in the renewal?

Eldredge recently discovered this truth of the future renewal. For Christians who are unaware of this aspect of the future, this book is a good introduction to the topic. To astute Bible readers familiar with Revelation 21 and similar passages, there may not be much new in this book. You will be able to read many portions of novels quoted at length, however.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

John Eldredge is an author, a counselor, and a teacher. He is also president of Ransomed Heart, a ministry devoted to helping people discover the heart of God, recovering their own hearts in God's love, and learning to live in God's kingdom. He and his wife life near Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Nelson Books, 256 pages.

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

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

21 Days of Christmas Compiled by Kathy Ide Blog Tour and Giveaway


About the Book


Name of book: 21 Days of Christmas: A Fiction Lover’s Devotional 
Compiler: Kathy Ide  
Genre: Christian Fiction Devotional  
Release Date: September 1, 2015

Christmas is more than just a holiday. It is a time to recapture the joy and wonder of God’s greatest gift: His Son, Jesus. 21 Days of Christmas will warm your heart with stories about giving, loving, and family. These engaging tales celebrate the hope and joy that make this blessed season unique. At the end of each story you’ll find an insightful message that will help you discover anew the true meaning of this special time of year. So grab a cup of hot apple cider with a cinnamon stick, curl up in your favorite chair beside a picture window overlooking a serene spot, and savor the true meaning of Christmas through these inspirational and encouraging stories.

Click here to purchase your copy.


My review:


Ide has collected a good selection of short stories by a variety of authors. Most are just one scene or event and can be read in a couple of minutes. I was pleased that the quality of the stories was consistently quite good. The stories are like parables in that they illustrate truths about life. Each story is followed by a Life Application section, highlighting the truth for the reader.


I recommend this book to fiction lovers as a good devotional for the Christmas season. You'll read entertaining and thought provoking short stories while gaining insights about life.

More About Kathy Ide


Kathy is the editor/compiler of the Fiction Lover’s Devotional series (www.FictionDevo.com) and author of “Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors” (http://secretsofbestsellingauthors.com). She has also written numerous articles, short stories, devotionals, play scripts, and Sunday school curriculum. She has ghostwritten ten nonfiction books and a five-book novel series. She is also a full-time freelance editor, working with aspiring, new, and experienced authors as well as publishers. Kathy speaks at writers’ conferences across the country. She is the founder and coordinator of The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network (www.TheChristianPEN.com) and the Christian Editor Connection (www.ChristianEditor.com). For more about Kathy, visit www.KathyIde.com.


Guest Post from Kathy Ide


Looking for a great Christmas gift for friends and family who love fiction … or devotionals? You can give them both in one book! 21 Days of Christmas: Stories that Celebrate God’s Greatest Gift is book two in the Fiction Lover’s Devotional series. It’s a collection of 21 fiction stories, each written by a different author—including well-known novelists such as Lena Nelson Dooley, Joanne Bischof, Jan Cline, and Lynn Kinnaman. Some stories are about the first Christmas, when Mary and Joseph brought God’s Son into the world. Others are about how we celebrate that history-changing event today. Each story is followed by a brief Life Application written by the author of that story. The first chapter starts out with an amusing tale of a modern-day couple in the front seat of a car, on Christmas Eve, traveling to see relatives for the holiday. They’re griping about the hassles of the season, and hollering at the the kids, who are playing with the foil on Mom’s Jell-O salad in the backseat. Then we break from that to a scene of Mary and Joseph entering Bethlehem, about to bring God’s Son into the world. It contrasts the modern-day wife, not wanting to go into a sleazy diner because it’s the only place open on Christmas Eve, with Mary hesitating to go into a smelly barnyard to give birth. When the modern-day couple decide to tell their children the Christmas story—complete with snow and a little drummer boy—the contrasts become both highly funny and very poignant. I wrote one of the chapters in the book. It’s about the first Christmas, from the perspective of Joseph. What he must have thought and felt when Mary was giving birth to Jesus, knowing that he had been personally given the divine responsibility to teach God’s Son about God. Based on the Old Testament teachings he’d been raised with, what did Joseph think Jesus would be like when He was born, and how did reality clash with those expectations? This book makes a great gift for family and friends, with its beautiful debossed hardback cover, full-color interior, and a ribbon page marker. With stories about the Nativity as well as tales of modern-day people celebrating that event, almost anyone would enjoy receiving a copy and reading it—even those who don’t believe in Christ as their Savior. It’s small enough to be a stocking stuffer (or tucked into the pocket of a Christmas-themed pot holder!) and inexpensive enough to be a practical gift for those people you’re not sure will reciprocate, or who may feel uncomfortable if they didn’t get you anything. This devotional would also be ideal to incorporate into an individual’s or a family’s advent celebration, reading one chapter a day during the three weeks leading up to Christmas. Each chapter takes only about ten minutes to read, which makes it ideal for the hectic holiday season. And since each chapter stands alone, it doesn’t matter whether you read one or two stories, half the book, or the whole thing. Other books in the Fiction Lover’s Devotional series are: 21 Days of Grace: Stories that Celebrate God’s Unconditional Love 21 Days of Love: Stories that Celebrate Treasured Relationships 21 Days of Joy: Stories that Celebrate Motherhood


Blog Stops

Reader’s Cozy CornerNovember 22
Blossoms and BlessingsNovember 23
Carpe DiemNovember 23
MultifariousNovember 25
A Reader’s BrainNovember 25
A Greater YesNovember 26
Lane Hill HouseNovember 26
Texas Book -aholicNovember 27
Jeanette’s ThoughtsNovember 27
Karen Sue HadleyNovember 28
By The BookNovember 29
Mary HakeNovember 30
Have A Wonderful DayDecember 1
RemebrancyDecember 2

Giveaway




To celebrate her tour, Kathy is giving away a grand prize of a set of 21 days devotional books!!
Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy for this post was provided by Celebrate Lit.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Gift of Christmas Past by Cindy Woodsmall & Erin Woodsmall

About the book:


Arson wasn't the only fire ignited between them.
Lies spoken.
She was arrested.
He returned to the safety of his wealthy parents.
Almost ten years later, Hadley and Monroe are both specialists in the field of speech therapy. They meet again . . . thrown together to help a four year old girl rendered mute after being rescued from a fire.
Years of secrets and anger beg to be set free as Hadley and Monroe try to push aside past hurts and find common ground in order to help the traumatized child and her family.
Can the love of Christmas past drift into the present, bringing healing and hope for all?

Learn more, read an excerpt and purchase a copy here.


My review:


What a heartwarming story. Having a tissue handy near the end would be a good idea. I felt the beginning was a little confusing but by the end, I was very glad I had read the book. After a rocky start, the characters were developed well and the plot was engaging.

There are many themes woven into the plot. Misunderstanding is one. Controlling parents is another. Love that is tested by seemingly insurmountable obstacles is another. Foster care is a big issue too. I really liked learning about apraxia and selective mutism. That aspect of the plot was very interesting.

I enjoyed the novel. It gave me much to think about in addition to containing a heartwarming plot with an emotional ending.

I am taking part in a blog tour of this book and you can read other reviews here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the authors:


Cindy Woodsmall is the "New York Times" and CBA best-selling author of eighteen works of fiction. She's been featured in national media outlets such as ABC's "Nightline" and the "Wall Street Journal." Cindy has won numerous awards and has been finalist for the prestigious Christy, Rita, and Carol Awards. Cindy and her husband reside near the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains in Flowery Branch, GA.

Erin Woodsmall is a writer, musician, wife, and mom of three. She has edited, brainstormed, and researched books with Cindy for almost a decade. She is very excited about their first coauthored book.

Find out more about Cindy and Erin at http://www.cindywoodsmall.com

Stonewater Books, 208 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book through Litfuse. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy in this post was provided by Litfuse.

Monday, November 20, 2017

One Red Bastard by Ed Lin Blog Tour and Giveaway

One Red Bastard

by Ed Lin

on Tour November 20 - December 31, 2017

Synopsis:

It’s the fall of 1976, and New York’s Chinatown is in turmoil over news that Mao’s daughter is seeking asylum in the U.S. Robert Chow is a detective in training, and he is thrilled when his girlfriend Lonnie scores an interview with the Chinese representative of Mao’s daughter. But hours after the interview, the man is found dead. Lonnie, the last person to see him alive, is the main suspect.
As Lonnie is subjected to increasing amounts of intimidation from his fellow policemen, who want to close the case, Robert is tempted to reach into his own bag of dirty tricks. Will he stay on the right side of the law, or will his loyalty to Lonnie get the better of him? Find out in this exciting and fast-paced mystery set in one of New York’s most fascinating neighborhoods.


My review:


This is the first book I've read in this series and it took me a while to get interested in the story. The setting is a time and culture very different from my own. Chow's style of detecting was quite different from what I am used to.

By the time I had finished the book, however, I was really glad I had read it. I was introduced to the Chinatown culture of New York City, including the languages and the regions from which people had immigrated. I also learned much about the history of the tension between China and Taiwan and how that affected Asians living in the U.S. I found the characters and cultural setting very interesting. Chow's investigation of the murder was methodical and more character driven than action driven.

I recommend this novel to those interested in a mystery set in a turbulent time and place in the U.S. While I didn't consider the book a page-turner nor the action full of suspense, the characters and plot did hold my interest through the twist at the end. I'll be looking for more from this author.

My rating: 4/5 stars

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Witness Impulse
Publication Date: November 21st 2017
Number of Pages: 288
ISBN: 0062444204 (ISBN13: 9780062444202)
Series: Detective Robert Chow #3
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

The woman was standing in a pool of wet ashes, her hands at her sides. She was about five seven but that was with heels on. Her thick black hair cascaded over her ears and shoulders, and she did something to it to make it shiny. A light brown coat stopped above a skirt that stopped midway down two taut thighs in stockings with a dull glow.
I smirked because I was sure that she had spent some time thinking about how she wanted to look from the rear. To men.
But this was no time for amusement. I came in close to her forehead and growled under my breath, “Barbara, what the hell are you doing here!”
When she turned around I saw my head and torso in her two black, sparkling eyes. Her face was long and not too narrow and came down to a chin that fairy princesses had. Her red lips, usually curved like a little blossom, were pulled taut into a wide smile.
She grabbed my arm and said, “Robert!”
“This is a crime scene! Now let’s get out of this thing!”
“I’m so sorry!”
She continued to hold on to me as we stepped over the tape together, matching leg for leg. I had lost part of my mind in Nam, but she had lost a lot more. Barbara used to be the prettiest girl in Chinatown. Now she was its prettiest widow.
“You know anything about the fire, Barbara?” I looked into her face. There was lightning behind her dark eyes.
“No. I don’t. Can we stop whispering now?”
“Well, I guess it doesn’t matter at this point,” I said in full voice.
“Look, I didn’t mean any harm. I just had to see the place up close. Artie Yee published my first story, back when I was in grade school.”
“I didn’t know about that.”
“I brought it into school to show everybody. Don’t you remember?”
“How am I supposed to remember that one thing? You always had something to show off in school. If it wasn’t a story you wrote, it’d be a story about you.”
She snorted.
“Did you stay in touch with Artie over the years?” I asked.
“I’d run into him from time to time.”
“Were the two of you friends?”
“Oh, no, no. I learned to keep my distance from that one. Did you know that he asked me to marry him when I turned eighteen?”
“He wasn’t much better looking back then, was he?”
“He looked like a younger walrus.”
“You’re not enemies with Artie, though, are you?”
“I’m not one of them, but he has many enemies,” she said. “You know that.”
“He did his part in pissing off all areas of Chinatown.”
“Artie doesn’t respect authority. That’s a good thing for a journalist.”
“Then how come you didn’t keep writing for him?”
“Artie doesn’t respect women.” She shivered and then slapped my arm. “I heard Paul got into that program at Columbia.”
“Thanks to you,” I said.
“Thanks in part to me, anyway.” She paused. “Doesn’t that mean you’ll take me to dinner?”
“Maybe Paul should.”
“Get serious. Actually, maybe Paul should come and meet my youngest sister. You know she’s up at Columbia because she got into Barnard early. Maybe she should stick to Chinatown boys, like I should have.”
“Hey, Barbara, let’s talk about this later. I have to get back to work here.”
“You’re going to call me?”
“I’ll get in touch.”
She walked off and I returned to my post.
Years ago, Barbara and her three younger sisters were the four little princesses of Chinatown. She liked to say that her parents never did get that son, but the truth was her parents learned to love all their daughters to death. They all had beauty and smarts, and because of that you knew they’d get out of Chinatown and never come back.
But Barbara did return after her husband was killed in Khe Sanh. The oldest, the prettiest, and the smartest of the sisters, she moved back alone into their old family home to find some comfort, I guess.
There was a brief period when I thought she was the love of my life, but it was a while ago and it ended embarrassingly enough. Thinking about it again put me in a bad mood.
“Hello Sunshine,” said Vandyne.
“It was Barbara,” I said.
“Oh! What the hell was she doing there?”
“She wanted to see the place up close. Artie published one of her stories back when she was a smart, little girl.”
“Seriously, though, could she have had anything at all to do with this?”
“Her? No way, man!”
“Do you know that for sure?”
“Yes,” I said. “I would bet my soul on it.”
***
Excerpt from One Red Bastard by Ed Lin. Copyright © 2017 by Ed Lin. Reproduced with permission from Witness Impulse. All rights reserved.
 

Ed Lin:

Ed Lin, a native New Yorker of Taiwanese and Chinese descent, is the first author to win three Asian American Literary Awards and is an all-around standup kinda guy. His books include Waylaid and This Is a Bust, both published by Kaya Press in 2002 and 2007, respectively. Snakes Can't Run and One Red Bastard, which both continue the story of Robert Chow set in This Is a Bust, were published by Minotaur Books. His latest book, Ghost Month, a Taipei-based mystery, was published by Soho Crime in July 2014. Lin lives in Brooklyn with his wife, actress Cindy Cheung, and son.

Catch Up With Our Author On: Website, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

Tour Participants:

Click here to view the One Red Bastard by Ed Lin Participants
 

Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Ed Lin and Witness Impulse. There will be 5 winners of one (1) small incense box with a Chinese opera mask. The giveaway begins on November 20th and runs through December 30, 2017.
a Rafflecopter giveaway  

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours


 I received a complimentary egalley of this book through Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of this post was provided by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

A Crazy, Holy Grace by Frederick Buechner

This book, it seems to me, must be a cathartic journey for Buechner, reminiscing about so many events in his past. He tells the story of his father's suicide (again) as well as that of meeting the priest wearing black gaiters (again) and that of his brother crying in Bermuda (again and again) and his mother's comments about the gardener passing by (again). He spends pages describing books in his Magic Kingdom, as he calls his office/library.

Included, from time to time, is an insight about remembering and perhaps another about healing. We all experience pain, he writes, and handle it in ways that are not good. Buechner wants us to be good stewards of our pain. He writes of “the importance of being able to talk and live out of your pain … of pain becoming a treasure...” (32) These are good insights but his rambling stories, memories of events from his past, greatly over shadow and obscure them.

I am not sure there is much of value in this book for evangelical Christians. When writing about what happens after you die, for example, Buechner suggests “you are given back your life again...” He had three reasons for believing it. First, if he were God that's what he'd do. Second, he had a hunch it was true. Third, because Jesus said we aren't dead forever, referencing what Jesus said to the thief on the cross. (76-77) Buechner made no mention of Paul and his New Testament insights into the life after this one.

I have just read the two latest books by Buechner in the past few days. I don't think I'll read another one by him. There was too much repetition of stories. I was not surprised to find that the footnotes indicated much of this book came from earlier ones by him. Also, many of the stories didn't appear to have much to do with the theme of the book. It seems Buechner is still trying to make sense of his father's suicide, some 80 years ago, and everything else that has happened in his life.

Perhaps there is more to Buechner's faith experience than he is willing to tell. Near the end of this book he says he fears that if he writes too much about how he has experienced holiness, “then I risk being written off as some sort of embarrassment by most of the people I know and like.” (116)

My rating: 3/5 stars.

Frederick Buechner is the author of more than thirty books. A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, he has been awarded honorary degrees from several institutions. You can find out more at http://www.frederickbuechner.com/.

Zondervan, 144 pages.

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

The Remarkable Ordinary by Frederick Buechner

Buechner's book is sort of an ungainly mixture of subtle teaching and memoir. I initially thought the stories from his life were included as illustrations of his teaching but it later became clear that was not the case. While some of his recollections did seem to bear directly on his topic for this book, others just seemed to be rambling accounts of segments of his life. At one point Buechner writes, “And then there came this one particular Sunday, which I've often written about like everything else, but I'll tell you about it again.” (84) If you make it your work to write books, I suppose you do have to repeat yourself from time to time.

Buechner indicates that this book is an encouragement to live in that holy, inner place, where we have the image of God in us. He wants us to stop the chatter and be more mindful. He wants us to really notice those around us. “To love your neighbor is to see your neighbor,” he says. (39) He wants us to recognize each person we see as a peculiar treasure. He encourages us to experience others by telling our stories so he tells his. He suggests we pay attention to what is holy in our daily life, those moments where we realize life is a treasure. He advocates trying to live in the present even though the stories he tells reveals he is still trying to understand his past.

Today's evangelical Christian may find Buechner's work disturbing. He does not seem to understand being a new creation in Christ nor being born again. “I'm no saint,” he writes more than once. (106,107) “I can't really imagine what it would be like to behold the Lord and not as a stranger,” he also writes. (107)

I really don't know to whom I would recommend this book. If the Lord is a stranger to Buechner, I am not sure what he has to offer evangelical Christians. Those who want to read about a man struggling to understand Christianity and his own life may enjoy this book. “I am better than I used to be,” he declares, “but far from well.” (105)

My rating: 3/5 stars.

Frederick Buechner is the author of more than thirty books. A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, he has been awarded honorary degrees from several institutions. You can find out more at http://www.frederickbuechner.com/.

Zondervan, 128 pages.

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

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Called to Create by Jordan Raynor

This book is not quite what I anticipated, based on the title. I thought the book would deal with being creative in general. Raynor, however, has focused this book on only one aspect of being creative, being an entrepreneur.

I was surprised at Raynor beginning his book by saying God was the first entrepreneur. That just did not ring right with me. Raynor later gave this definition: “an entrepreneur is anyone who takes a risk to create something new for the good of others.” (Loc 130/2958) The risk could be financial or social so his definition is a much broader one than I would make. I do have an issue with calling God an entrepreneur, however. In general understanding, an entrepreneur is one who organizes and operates a business, that is, provides goods or services to people. Describing God as one who operates a business just does not ring true to me. Also, Raynor says such an operation must include risk. God is omniscient, knowing the future, so there was no risk involved in His creating. He knew precisely what was going to happen.

That criticism aside, I really appreciate this book. The Christian community has too often distinguished the “secular” work of owning a business from the “spiritual” work of full time ministry. Raynor sets the record straight, defending the traditional Reformed view that all life is spiritual, including non-ministry vocations. He writes about calling, motives, products, challenges to Christian entrepreneurs, making disciples, and more.

Raynor is an accomplished entrepreneur. He uses his own life as an example but also includes stories of many others. They are great illustrations of entrepreneurs doing their work to the glory of God and with excellence.

I do recommend this book to Christians who are interested in business. You'll find great examples of people doing much good for others. You'll see how entrepreneurs further the glory of God through both behavior and products. There is a link to a free journal you can download to work through your own thoughts as you read the book.

You can find out more at http://www.calledtocreate.org/.

Food for thought: What will you choose to create for the glory of God and the good of others?

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Jordan Raynor is a serial entrepreneur and bestselling author who leads a growing community of Christians following God's call to business. He is a sought after public speaker on the topic of entrepreneurship. He lives in Florida with his wife and their two daughters.

Baker Books, 240 pages.

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

How the Right Lost Its Mind by Charles J. Sykes

I read this book as part of my ongoing quest to understand the 2016 U.S. presidential election. I found the book to be very enlightening. I found out how the conservative media “succeeded in convincing our audiences to ignore and discount any information whatsoever from the mainstream media.” (17) That made conservatives open to falling for lies, and there was a proliferation of them before the election. (17) Conservatives were so desperate to believe the lies most never bothered with fact checking.

It seems we have come to a situation where the media actually failed to report on the political issues in the race. (26-27) Politicians and the general public no longer read books on the issues. (29) An illiterate electorate turned to personality rather than issues, their heads filled with false information from unrestrained social media outlets.

I was dismayed at the information about the Tea Party and its use of funds, very little for election related items. The racism exhibited by the extreme right was shocking to me.

Sykes writes, “As the Right has isolated itself from other sources of information, it has fashioned an alternative universe with its own facts, narratives, and truths.” (82)

As a Christian, I was greatly bothered by Sykes' analysis of how Christians behaved before the 2016 election. Previously, character and personal morality mattered greatly when considering presidential candidates. With this election, the allure and promise of power trumped moral character.

Sykes is a conservative but of a more moderate view than many on the right. He ends his book with thoughts on what dissident conservatives can do to thwart the threat of Trumpism to the conservative vision. (222)

I recommend this book to perplexed conservatives looking for insight into the recent presidential election and the state of conservative politics today.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Charles J. Sykes is the author of eight books on current affairs and education. A long time host of the #1 conservative talk radio show in Wisconsin, he resigned from that position and is now a regular contributor to MSNBC, NPR, and other media. He lives in Wisconsin.

St. Martin's Press, 288 pages.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Death at Thorburn Hall by Julianna Deering

Reading the Farthering mysteries has been a delight. I grew up reading Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers and Ngaio Marsh so these novels by Deering are ones I thoroughly enjoy.

I like Drew Farthering. He's an amateur detective whom none of the officials want to have around interfering with their investigation. I am getting to like his wife more and more. She's a good sidekick for him, someone with whom he can discuss his theories. The repartee between the two is intelligent and fun to read.

I like the setting of Scotland during the British Open. It's a refreshing change from the London area. I like the time period. It's during the troubling years of Hitler exercising his power.

I like the plot. The murders offer no apparent connection and that really tests Farthering's investigative powers. I kind of had an idea of the murderer but there were so many red herrings that I was unsure of the culprit until near the end.

I really like Deering's writing style. There are great scene descriptions. There is snappy dialog. There are well developed characters. I like the historical information. I like the subtle romance.

While this novel can be read on its own, I'd recommend starting at the beginning of the series. Each one is enjoyable to read.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Julianna Deering is the pen name of DeAnna Julie Dodson. She lives north of Dallas, Texas. You can find out more at http://www.juliannadeering.com/ and http://www.deannajuliedodson.com/.

Bethany House Publishers, 336 pages.

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

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Divine Time Management by Elizabeth Grace Saunders

This is not your typical time management book. This book is about priorities, about putting God at the center of your life, about living each day in His strength and not your own. The issue is how we invest our time, not how much we get accomplished in that time. Saunders' emphasis is having a relationship with God and how we use our time because of it.

I like that Saunders suggests beginning our day by asking God what He wants us to do that day. She suggests we prayerfully look over our schedule, remembering that God wants us to seek him first. Time management is not about getting things done but rather about having the freedom to do the Lord's will, following as He leads.

You'll not find nifty scheduling tips in this book, although Saunders has written previous books dealing specifically with time management. You will find a very personal account of how God changed her life. She had been an over achiever, devoted to time management. Now she shares insights on how we are to invest our time with God as our focus. You will find practical suggestions for trusting God as the center of your life. You will also find some good teaching on your identity in Christ and how that affects what you do. There is also good teaching on having right relationships with God, others, and yourself.

I recommend this book to those who want to know more about the importance of investing time in a relationship with God than about scheduling or other aspects of time management.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Elizabeth Grace Saunders is the founder of Real Time E Coaching and Speaking. She has been featured on several television programs and has contributed to several magazines. She has written previous books on time management. This is her first inspirational title. You can find out more about her and her work at http://reallifee.com/wp/.

FaithWords, 272 pages.

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

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

World View by Marvin Olasky

About the book:

How could our world be different if Christians were recognized for not only speaking the truth, but also demonstrating mercy?
What would our lives be like if we reacted to our common culture with not just biblical facts, but also grace and compassion?
For more than 25 years, Marvin Olasky has offered this kind of viewpoint in his columns as the Editor-in-Chief of World Magazine, the leading news magazine written with a Christian perspective. In this collection of far-ranging columns, Olasky's commentary on world events and affairs, as well as his own personal interactions, encourages readers to respond with both grace and truth in every encounter.

A leading voice for standing for biblical truth in the public square, Olasky also believes Christians should incorporate the biblical virtues of humility, kindness, and mercy in all of life. His call for biblical values to include both truth and mercy makes his voice stand out in a world that often falsely divides those goals and settles for a poor imitation of the robust Christianity described in Scripture. These short and punchy columns offer readers a new way to consider challenges in today's world and shows them how to respond to any encounter biblically, but not hysterically, providing a wake-up call for the complacent, while also calming the frantic.

My review:

The columns, dating from 1997-2016, are loosely arranged into broad subjects. They originally appeared in World Magazine. Olasky contemplates what an ideal Christian protest should look like. He suggests how we might present our case, following the example of Paul reasoning in Greece. Other topics include abortion, the constitution, transgender, immigration, movie reviews, how to think through issues, and many more. Some of these essays go back twenty years and seemed dated to me. Some of the columns reflect Olasky's personal opinion and may not reflect the opinions of other Christians.

The value of these columns, I think, is in the reasoning Olasky does in them. He thinks through issues before he reveals his conclusions. They are good examples for Christians who want to know how to do that process.

There is an index to the columns and that is important. Reading through the essays from beginning to end was not very satisfying for me. One could use the index and read Olasky's thoughts on a particular issue. In that way this book would be a resource for thinking Christians.

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My rating: 4/5 stars.

Marvin Olasky is editor-in-chief of "World News Group," a distinguished chair in journalism and public policy at Patrick Henry College, and the author of more than twenty books, including "Compassionate Conservatism" and "The Tragedy of American Compassion." He and his wife, Susan, have four sons and five grandchildren.
Find out more about Marvin at http://stores.newgrowthpress.com.

New Growth Press, 208 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book through Litfuse. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Litfuse.