Friday, June 30, 2017

Dragon Seed by Marty Machowski

Allegories make fine teaching tools. Many Christian authors have used them in the past to communicate truth. Machowski has created an allegory to help young people understand the mutiny of the angels against God and the spread of evil in the world. He used the imagery of the dragon in Revelation to create the allegory. Readers are invited to use their imagination to see what might have happened centuries ago and what may be behind the actions of many today.

I really like this allegory. It is the story of the rebellion of Satan and his ongoing work told in an entertaining and thoughtful way. Machowski has kept close to the biblical account, something I greatly appreciate. His imagining how Satan may tempt people to evil today is very thought provoking.

I like how the allegory is framed in a modern day story. A rebellious teen is given the allegory to read and it captures his heart. That framework adds to the impact of the allegory. We see the truths of the allegory in action.

Machowski has also included twelve devotions at the end of the book. They are great lessons on the truths portrayed in the allegory. There are good questions at the end of each devotion too.

I highly recommend this book to children and adults alike. Parents would have a good time reading it with their children and discussing the questions with the devotions.

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

You can learn more about the book and purchase a copy here.

You can read a sample of the book here.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Marty Machowski is the Family Life Pastor at Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, where he has served on the pastoral staff for over 25 years. He leads Promise Kingdom, the children's ministry at Covenant Fellowship. He is the author of a systematic theology for children entitled “The Ology.” He has also written devotions and curriculum for children. He and his wife have six children and live in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

New Growth Press, 160 pages.

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

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Physics of Everyday Things by James Kakalios

I had high hopes for this book because it is always fun to find out how things work. Unfortunately, the book did not live up to my hopes. I could tell just a few pages in that Kakalios assumes his readers have a basic knowledge of physics, such as having taken a high school class. He assumes readers know terms like mass, amplitude, digital, magnetic polarities, magnetic induction and infrared radiation because he uses them early on without defining them. He assumes readers know about voltage and why 110 is higher than 120.

He writes early on about moving electric charges generating a magnetic field but does not explain why or how. (4) I wish he would have explained early and well the relationship of electric and magnetic fields and how one affects the other and used lots of diagrams. That would have made the explanation of an electric tooth brush recharger much easier to understand, for example. (He finally has a diagram later, on page 43.)

When explaining the principles of a refrigerator, he assume readers know how a gas being compressed to a liquid gives up heat. He writes about molecules with kinetic energy and that may be confusing to readers. Kakalios had earlier explained kinetic energy using a pendulum but never transferred the concept to molecules and how some have more kinetic energy than others.

Sometimes I found his writing just confusing. When writing about a pendulum, he writes of increasing the potential energy of the bob by “lifting it up.” (2) I pictured lifting the bob up vertically. What he really meant was to grasp the bob and swing it to the side in an arc, making sure the string remained taut.

Here's another example of his writing when discussing a thermometer and the thermal expansion of a liquid when heated. “This leads to a small but real net relative displacement of the atom with rising temperature.” (68) He could have written, “That means the space the atom occupies increases as the temperature rises.”

That being said, there are aspects of this book I like. Kakalois explains many interesting phenomena, such as CAT scans and MRIs, airport scanners, noise canceling earphones, touch screens and many more. I learned much, like what kind of radiation is harmful and what kind is non-ionizing. I learned that the radio signals from the chip in my credit card has a short range of about four feet so others cannot eavesdrop on my transaction. I found out the code for my remote entry fob changes every time I use it, as does the coordinated receiver.

Some of his explanations were great, such as the movie theater illustration representing semiconductors. It was clearly understandable. I wish there had been many more illustrations in the book as many of Kakalois' explanations would have been much easier to understand with them.

If you have a high school background in physics and understand many physics terms, you will appreciate this book and benefit from what is in it. If you do not have a familiarity scientific terms, you may have difficulty understanding this book.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

James Kakalios is the Taylor Distinguished Professor of Physics at the University of Minnesota and the author of the bestselling The Physics of Superheroes.

Crown, 256 pages.

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

Bad Blood by Brian McGilloway

Bad Blood

by Brian McGilloway

on Tour June 26 - July 31, 2017


A young man is found in a riverside park, his head bashed in with a rock. One clue is left behind to uncover his identity—an admission stamp for the local gay club.
DS Lucy Black is called in to investigate. As Lucy delves into the community, tensions begin to rise as the man’s death draws the attention of the local Gay Rights group to a hate-speech Pastor who, days earlier, had advocated the stoning of gay people and who refuses to retract his statement.
Things become further complicated with the emergence of a far-right group targeting immigrants in a local working-class estate. As their attacks escalate, Lucy and her boss, Tom Fleming, must also deal with the building power struggle between an old paramilitary commander and his deputy that threatens to further enflame an already volatile situation.
Hatred and complicity abound in McGilloway’s new Lucy Black thriller. Compelling and current, Bad Blood is an expertly crafted and acutely observed page-turner, delivering the punch that readers of Little Lost Girl have grown to expect.

My Review:

McGilloway has given us a very timely novel of racism and prejudice. Although it takes place in Ireland just before the Brexit vote, many of the scenes and much of the toxic emotion can be found in the United States as well.

The novel is a good police procedure one but the themes woven within the plot are what gives readers reason to consider their own views. How would we react if a family of different color or culture moved in next door? Would we start a movement to see them forced to flee our community? What would we do when faced with those of a different sexual behavior than what we approve? Would we follow a fire and brimstone preacher who essentially calls for their stoning? Would we stand up for a fellow worker when she is the brunt of a vicious verbal attack?

I always pay attention when an author portrays a character of the opposite sex as the lead in a novel. I do the same when preachers or Christians are in a novel such as this one. I think McGilloway did a good job of developing these characters. As a Christian, the actions of the characters in this novel made me think about my own responses to similar situations.

I recommend this novel to readers who enjoy a good police procedure novel yet appreciate confronting timely social issues as well. You'll be entertained while being given plenty of opportunities to think about your own attitudes and actions.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Published by: Witness Impulse
Publication Date: June 13th 2017
Number of Pages: 320
ISBN: 0062684558 (ISBN13: 9780062684554)
Series: DS Lucy Black #4
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

The hall was already packed by the time Detective Inspector Tom Fleming arrived. The air was sweet with perfume and talc and, beneath that, from the farmers still wearing their work clothes, the scent of sweat and the smell of the earth.
The congregation were on their feet, being led in the opening hymn by Pastor James Nixon. Fleming smiled apologetically at those he squeezed past to get to a free seat in the third row from the back. The hymn finished, the assembly took their seats just as Fleming reached his, and settled to listen to the words of Pastor Nixon.
‘My brothers and sisters, it is a great honour to be here with you this evening and to see so many of you have taken the time to come and pray with me.’ His voice was strong despite his age, a rich baritone still carrying the inflections of his native Ballymena accent.
‘But it is a time of great challenge for us all. Daily, all good people face an assault on their morality with the rampant homosexual agenda that assails us and belittles everything we hold to be true and dear. Men of conscience are tried for refusing to make a cake celebrating homosexuality or print leaflets and posters furthering that agenda. And on the other side of the border, the Irish Republic has voted to allow homosexuals to marry, as if two women playing house is no different to the consummated union of a man and a woman. As if it is not a perversion which shames us all.
A few voices appended his comment with ‘Amen’.
Nixon raised his hands, acknowledging their support. ‘There are those who would silence me, silence us. They tell us we must accept homosexuals in our town, our shops, allow homosexual bars and public houses to operate on our streets. We must allow sodomites to teach our children and to corrupt our young. We must stay silent while a new Gomorrah is built next to our homes and farms, our shops and schools. They say I am dangerous. They say I preach hatred. They say I should be silent. But I say this: I say that there is no danger in truth. I say that there is no hatred in goodness. And I say that I will not be silent.’
Another chorus of ‘Amens’ greeted his proclamation, accompanied by a smattering of applause which began at the front and rippled its way through the hall.
‘I will not stand idly by as our families are exposed to sin and depravity. I will not countenance the laws of the land being used to protect profane persons, allowing them to indulge their lustful practices, forcing those of us with consciences to humour this lifestyle. It is an abomination. The people who practise it are abominations and, like those before them, they will end in fire and brimstone.’
Fleming glanced around at the others in the congregation. While one or two shifted uncomfortably in their seats, for the most part the listeners sat intently waiting for Nixon to continue.
‘Friends, only last week, I read of an African nation – a heathen nation, a Godless nation – who arrested two men for homosexual acts. One of these men was sixteen. Sixteen! And do you know what they did to the pair of them? They stoned them. They took them out of the town and they threw rocks at them until the pair of them were dead. And do you know what I thought? Shall I tell you?’
An elderly lady in the front row called out ‘Yes’, to the amusement of those around her. Nixon smiled mildly at her, as if indulging her.
‘Stoning was too good for those men. Every rock that struck them was a just reward for their sinfulness, their immorality, their ungodly behaviour. Every drop of their blood that stained the ground was a reminder that they deserved to die. It was the wages of their sin!’
Excerpt from Bad Blood by Brian McGilloway. Copyright © 2017 by Brian McGilloway. Reproduced with permission from Witness Impulse. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Brian McGilloway was born in Derry, Northern Ireland. After studying English at Queen’s University, Belfast, he took up a teaching position in St Columb’s College in Derry, where he was Head of English. He is the author of the New York Times bestselling Lucy Black series, all to be published by Witness. Brian lives near the Irish borderlands with his wife and their four children.

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


Tour Participants:

Visit the other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!
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 I received a complimentary egalley of this book through Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. My review comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of this post content was provided by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Infected by Alana Terry

This is another well crafted novel in the Kennedy Stern series for teens. Besides having great characters and plot, I like how Terry always has an interesting topic as part of the novel.

In this novel, Kennedy is on break from college and will take care of Woong, the adopted son of her good friends Sandy and Carl while they take a short vacation. This happens during a deadly virus outbreak. Woong's school is closed when a teacher goes home sick. And then Sandy calls, informing Kennedy that she's taken Carl to the hospital.

In this midst of this tension are the two best aspects of the book. First is the characters. That Woong is a kick! He keep asking questions in a nearly continuous monologue. That was a great representation of an inquisitive kid. And then there is Willow, Kennedy's college roommate. She got saved in the last novel and in this one she is full of difficult questions, just like a new believer. It is great seeing her heart changing.

And that brings up the second aspect, the issue of God and healing and medicine. Willow has many questions about God and healing. Why does He heal sometimes and not other times? What about flashy preachers who promise healing (for a donation)? How are we to really pray about illness and healing? Along with this thorny question is another issue. Is it a sign of lack of faith in God to take medicine for an illness? Does a Christian have the right refuse treatment and can the government force one to take the treatment?

Like the other books in the series, Terry provides a great discussion guide with questions at various levels of thought. This would make a very good book for a teen reading group. There is a good balance of character development and suspense. I highly recommend it.

You can read my reviews of the earlier books in the series: Unplanned, Paralyzed, Policed, Straightened, and Turbulence.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Alana Terry is a pastor's wife, homeschooling mom and award winning Christian suspense author. She and her family live in rural Alaska. You can find out more at

Firstfruits Publishing, 258 pages.

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

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Street Smart from Proverbs by Mitch Kruse with D. J. Williams

There is a wealth of wisdom in Proverbs. Perhaps you've read through it, like I have, but have had difficulty organizing the information into principles for life.

Kruse has done an excellent job of examining all the information in Proverbs and organizing the insights around twelve concepts: righteousness, equity, justice, wise behavior, understanding, wise communication, prudence, discretion, wise counsel, discipline, knowledge, and learning.

This is a very good book illustrating the major principles for life contained in Proverbs. Kruse combines teaching on each subject with great stories giving examples of the principles in action. My favorite suggestion was the Five Second Rule. Before each phone call, email, text message, or meeting, take five second and ask the Holy Spirit what He wants you to do. (145) I also like the Ten Second Rule, taking anger to God for a full ten seconds. “He will cool us down, keeping us silent, patient, and on the straight path.” (153)

Kruse often puts his information into an easy to remember form. His components for wise communication, for example, include
Ask questions
Share stories
Key in on the other person's perspective
Speak Scripture. (161)

I highly recommend this book to those who may have read Proverbs but don't know how to implement the wise concepts contained in it. The material in this book allows readers to understand the principles and get a good sense of how the principles are lived out. Men, I think, would particularly like this book as most of the stories are about men.

Kruse has a number of videos you can watch: His Business Journey, on Conflict, on Wisdom, 12 Words to Transform Your Life, on The Cycle of Conflict, and Why You Should Read Street Smarts From Proverbs.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Mitch Kruse is known for his contribution to the collector car and real estate auction arenas. For seventeen years, he was owner, CEO, and auctioneers of the world's largest collector car sales organization. Kruse and his father developed the world's first auction park, home to the annual Auburn, Indiana, collector car auction that attracted three hundred thousand collectors each year. Mitch, his wife, and their four daughters live in Auburn, Indiana, on their family farm, homesteaded by Kruse's great-great-great grandfather in 1854. You can find out more at
D J Williams has been in the entertainment industry and nonprofit sector for twenty years. His writing credits include Restoration Road with Mitch Kruse, The Disillusioned, Waking Lazarus, and contributing writer for Holy Bible: Mosaic. Currently based in Los Angeles, Williams continues to add to his producing and directing credits by continuously developing new projects for television, film, and print.

Faith Words, 320 pages.

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

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Ascension of Larks by Rachel Linden

Linden has crafted a good novel of character development woven through a story of changing relationships.

The story revolves around Maggie, a very successful professional photographer. While on location in Nicaragua, Maggie receives a phone call from her good friend Lena. Lena's husband, Marco, is dead. Maggie makes arrangements to fly to the Pacific Northwest and be with her friend on San Juan Island.

The narrative concentrates on Maggie while we learn of the relationships between her and Lena and Marco. Linden uses flash backs to fill in the history and that works really well. We follow Maggie as she helps her friend who seems to be avoiding grief. And then another tragedy occurs and Maggie must make serious decisions about what she wants in life and in her future.

I like how the story developed. I like how we find out about the friendships between the three, going back to college years. I like how Linden makes us think about the choices made regarding career and relationships, sometimes furthering one at the expense of the other. I like how we follow Maggie as she works through her feelings and grows. I like the island setting in Washington State.

I was disappointed in the spiritual emphasis of the novel. While there is a bit of Christian influence, there is also another form of spirituality that over shadows the Christian influence. The novel is published by a “Christian” publisher and I expected a stronger Christian theme of spirituality from the book.

I recommend this novel to those who enjoy one concentrating on character development through overcoming adversity. There are discussion questions included so it would be a good choice for a reading group.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Rachel Linden is an international aid worker whose travels have taken her around the world. She has an MA in Intercultural Studies from Wheaton College. She splits her time between Seattle, Washington and Budapest, Hungary where she lives with her husband and two children. You can find out more at (Portrait by Mallory Macdonald)

Thomas Nelson, 336 pages.

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

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Put the Disciple Into Discipline by Erin MacPherson and Ellen Schuknecht

I'm not a parent so I cannot write a review of a parenting book from experience. Nonetheless, I do have some observations about this book. This is a critical review so is a long one.

Ellen starts out by declaring that she thinks many of the parenting experts have gotten it wrong when it comes to discipline. They fail to communicate about discipleship and fail to help parents know how to teach their kids to desire right and know the love God has for them. That's what this book is about.

She identifies four pillars the authors look at with each topic. Discipleship not discipline: disciple kids' hearts to want to behave, let the Bible be your guide. Desire, not obedience: teach kid's to desire what is right, do not demand thoughtless obedience. Connection, not control: show them you care. Growth, not assistance: let kids solve their own problems. The authors explore a number of topics using those four pillars.

There is a great deal I liked in this book. I like how the authors remind parents that every little behavior is about a whole lot more, revealing inner character. I like how they remind parents the necessity of prayer and being led by God. Parents are to look at each situation as an opportunity to speak to their child's heart. I like that they emphasize parenting by example.

But there were also a few things that bothered me. One was mixed messages. On the chapter Drifting Apart, Ellen writes: “We have to make our relationship with our preteens and teens less about what they do – their clothes, their performance at the soccer game, their decisions to wear all black – and more about who they are.” I would think that what kids do and wear on the outside is an indication of who they are on the inside and that parents should pay attention to their children's actions. This is one of the mixed messages from the authors because in the chapter Free to Be Modest, Ellen writes: “ have to intentionally work to get to know the reasons behind her clothing choices. Make it your aim to find out … the reasons behind her clothing choices.” So which is it, we don't have concern about what our kids wear or we do?

Another mixed message is about the inner character of a child. The authors fail to recognize the effects of the Fall in many places. In a letter to a concerned parent, we read, “I honestly believe that kids like James and Will aren't inherently mean or destructive or even disobedient at heart.” I disagree, especially if the child is not saved. We know from Scripture that the heart is deceitful. But then, in the chapter about conflicts, “We have to overcome our natural bent to handle things in an unhealthy way.” Here it seems the authors do recognize the natural bent in the unsaved to sin. So which is it? Are children not inherently bent to sin or are they?

Much of the authors' philosophy of parenting relies on the child's ability to make wise choices. They suggest lots of talking with the child, perhaps so they can choose future behavior or rethink bad behavior. This would only work for older children, ones who have the ability to reason way beyond immediate feelings and desires. I have no idea how the authors' techniques could work with young children. Also, I think we need to remember that the Bible tells us the heart is deceitful. I can just see a young teen figuring out that he can avoid punishment by being willing to talk about his behavior, promising better behavior in the future.

Unfortunately, the theology in the book is fuzzy. In the chapter about faith, they write about knowing who Jesus is and what he's done. We are told that knowledge is followed by passions and a desire to be intimate with God. There was never a clear message about salvation and the transformation that occurs in a child's spirit. There is never a reminder to talk with your child about saving faith or leading them to accept Jesus as their Savior.

There are some techniques that bother me as well. They use aversion tactics. When writing about outbursts of anger, we are told, “give your kid something else to do – something helpful – at that moment when the spark flares...” Is that truly helping the child deal with the anger and its cause? Here is another suggestion I find unsatisfactory. “So the key for when your kids are ungrateful is this: simply ignore it. Shrug.” Walk away and take treats and special stuff with you. Is that using the occasion as a teaching opportunity? And in the chapter about bullying, Erin says she was taught by her mother to say with a dull voice, “I don't care about that anyway.” She was told that no matter how much she cared, she was not to show any emotion to the bully. I think that is setting up a child for hiding emotions and hurt.

I do recommend this book but with reservations. It is a good one for parents who want to be intentional in their parenting. The authors provide many examples of parenting moments and how their techniques work. They even provide some examples of bad parenting moments and the lessons one can learn from them. I would suggest readers seriously think through the suggestions given. There are many good ideas in this book but some I do think need further evaluating before using.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

Erin MacPherson is the author of The Christian Mama's Guide series, the Hot Mama series, and Free to Parent. She cohosts the popular So Here's the Thing podcast with Kathi Lipp, speaks at MOPS, appears on various radio shows and podcasts, and writes for magazines and publications. She and her husband are the parents of three young kids. You can find out more at and
Ellen Schuknecht is the author of Free to Parent and the forthcoming A Spiritual Heritage. She and her husband live in Austin, Texas, near their three adult children and their spouses, and their eleven grandchildren. After spending more than forty years in education as a teacher, counselor, and school administrator, she currently serves as the Family Ministries Director at Veritas Academy. You can find out more at

Faith Words, 240 pages.

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

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Forbidden by F. Stone

Forbidden: Better Wear Your Flak Jacket

by F. Stone

on Tour June 19 - July 7, 2017


Gunfire echoes within the walls of a Middle East police compound. Screams of terror are brutally silenced. Police captain Hashim Sharif captures one survivor. Soon Eliza MacKay will wish she had died with her companions.
The vile act of terrorism is covered-up. Sharif becomes the reluctant keeper of his city's bloody secret – and the witness, MacKay. His corrupt superiors have a gun rammed against his skull. Disloyalty to the mayor will be rewarded with being buried alive.
Whatever the cost, his government’s honor must be restored. Secretly, Sharif hunts forensic evidence. Who is responsible for the murder of fifteen American volunteers? And, why did MacKay lie about her identity? He can’t trust her. Her mental illness is going to get both of them killed.
When he receives orders to dispose of MacKay, his Muslim faith is tested. Murder an innocent in cold blood? He will suffer Allah's eternal wrath.
CIA Agent Hutchinson has the lying Sharif in his cross hairs. Sharif dodges the agent’s traps almost as easily as the hit man on his tail. When Sharif discovers the shocking truth, he loses all hope of survival.
What is worth dying for? Perhaps it’s not bringing a madman to justice. Could it be saving the life of a woman who kick-started his numb heart? On the knife edge of risk, Sharif plots an act most forbidden and fatal.

My Review:

This novel got off to a bit of a rough start for me with choppy writing and unclear scenes. About a quarter of the way into the book, however, the writing became smooth and the scenes well developed. The narrative is action packed and full of suspense to the end.

The characters are larger than life. I had difficulty liking them. Eliza is a widow suffering from debilitating PTSD. Stone describes the PTSD graphically and it gave me a new appreciation for those who suffer from it. Eliza is a survivor and it seemed out of character for her to quickly develop affectionate feelings for her captor. And I did not like Sharif. He is a conflicted character, rough one moment and tender the next. He becomes a more tender man as the novel progresses but is someone I would never trust, unlike Eliza.

Potential readers need to know that there is a graphically portrayed attempted rape scene included. Those having survived a similar experience may have difficulty reading this book. There is also vulgar language and swearing by many characters.

Those interested in one possible future of Muslim countries might like this book. Stone portrays well the mixed messages of potential unity verses the intense desire for power by some leaders.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense, Romance, International Thriller
Published by: Indie
Publication Date: December 2016
Number of Pages: 363
ISBN: 0995150907 (ISBN13: 9780995150904)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

An armored truck with a mounted machine gun roared up behind the two police motorcyclists. Something is terribly wrong. She ducked deeper behind the luggage and stared into the darkness. She desperately searched for a rational explanation. A cold knife pierced her core.
After speeding through intersections and red traffic lights, the vehicles came to a sudden halt. Gate hinges squealed in protest. The impulse to leap from the back of the truck fought with her intense need to remain hidden. If it were not for the armed vehicle at the rear, she would have jumped and disappeared into the night. In another moment, the opportunity vanished.
The vehicles lurched forward. Through the flap’s opening, she saw a massive iron gate. High walls extended on either side. The vehicles stopped.
The motorcyclists drove to either side of the truck. The armored vehicle surged forward, nearly crashing into the back of the supply truck (where Eliza is hiding). Eliza scrambled to put more of the luggage between her and the mounted gun. It bore down on her as if it had spied her. She gasped.
Eliza strained to hear a pleasant greeting, an apology for the change of plans, anything that would tell her heart to stop its thundering in her chest.
Someone shouted, “Ikhrog men al Araba,” then in English, "Get out of the bus!"
“Stay together,” Charlie called out. At first the volunteers sounded merely annoyed, but their mood rapidly deteriorated.
“Charlie, there’s a mounted automatic weapon on that truck. Something’s not right here.” The man’s alarm ricocheted through his companions. Quick footsteps reminded Eliza of nervous horses in a corral – wild-eyed, snorting and circling as they searched for an escape.
Charlie attempted to calm his group. "I’m sure this will all make sense. I'll see why there’s been a change. Who’s in charge here?” he called.
Scattered thoughts fed her fear. The unmistakable sound of large guns being maneuvered sucked the air from Eliza’s lungs. Near the supply truck, she heard the ping, ping of a cell phone, then the trembling voice of a woman crying, "Ralph, pick up the phone. Please. Oh God …." The woman screamed. With a blast of gunfire, her cries stopped. Bullets pierced the canvas and shattered a suitcase in front of Eliza.
Her body trembled violently. In minutes she would be killed. The luggage offered no protection. Terrified to make any sound, yet frantic to hide, she pressed her backpack to her chest. She gasped as if starved for oxygen. Tears ran down her cheeks as she heard the terrified people and Charlie beg for their lives. This is only one of my nightmares. I’ll wake up and everything will be fine.
The truck with the mounted machine gun swerved around the supply truck. Deafening sounds of machine gun blasts and screams tore through her chest. She plunged down among the luggage.
A man came into her view as he lunged toward the gate. A police officer ran after him and fired several shots into the man’s back. The American dropped, bloody and lifeless.
Suddenly, an armed man dashed to the rear of the supply truck and saw her. She gasped. Oh my God, he's going to kill me. I've got once chance. Get his gun. Her martial arts training kicked in. She lunged forward. As they grappled, both fell.
Falling on top of him Eliza punched his groin. He cried out in agony. She crab crawled on all fours toward his weapon several feet away. Too late she saw a boot aimed at her head.
She ducked for cover under the supply truck. Too late. The cop stomped on her head, ramming her forehead into the pavement hard. Her momentum pushed her under the truck’s back end.
Dazed, she checked to see if he followed her. He was struggling to free his boot, snared in her scarf. A gun’s muzzle appeared, aimed in her direction. Bullets ripped through her coat’s shoulder. Puffs of down feathers stuck to the sweat and blood on her face.
I’m hit. Get out. Run. Eliza kicked and crawled out from under the truck on the far side of the killers. The deafening gunfire and screams surrounded her. Her mind froze. She pressed her body into the truck’s solid frame.
More bullets smacked the ground near her. More vehicles arrived. Bright headlights blinded her. She turned away to shield her eyes. Desperate, she ran an erratic, aimless course. Silhouettes of shapes, helmets, guns and bloody bodies flashed in front of her. Keep running. Dodge. Find cover. She ran like a wild animal, blind to the teeth that would tear her apart.
When the thunder from the machine gun stopped she glanced back. The man at the machine gun tumbled head first off the truck. His companions continued to fire their weapons, but now toward the gate. More shots came from behind the blinding lights. The men ran toward the front of the supply truck. Riddled with bullets, their bodies twisted and fell.
Eliza gazed in bewilderment at the tall form appearing in the light. He raced forward past the open gate, his weapon raised in her direction. More men followed behind him. She ran, searching for cover.
He shouted, “Tawakaf and am, la tatharak Kiff.” Then in English, “Stop where you are. Don’t move! Stop.”
A short burst of gunfire. Bullets struck the ground a few yards in front of her. She skidded to a stop. Breathless, she turned toward the gunman. She could not make out his face below the dark helmet. He wore a police uniform like the killers had – black from head to toe. If not for his vehicle’s headlights, he would have been invisible. He raced toward her, his weapon held steadfast in her direction.
Excerpt from Forbidden: Better Wear Your Flak Jacket by F. Stone. Copyright © 2017 by F. Stone. Reproduced with permission from F. Stone. All rights reserved.

Book Trailer:

Author Bio:

On our cattle ranch in Alberta, when an animal was in distress or injured, I was put in charge of nursing it back to health. Never mind that I was just a kid and hated the sight of blood, but I had to muster up the courage to apply home remedies. My survival rate was pretty good. It seemed like a foregone conclusion that I would progress to nursing – humans. After one year into nurses training, I bolted. Bed pans and chronic diseases pushed me in different direction; a career of dealing with drug addicts, murder, suicide, fatalities, and biker gangs. In 1983 I graduated with honors as a paramedic and worked in the City of Edmonton’s Emergency Services.
For the next twenty years, I came face to face with scenes most people would rather not think about. I loved it. Having experienced life in the most deadly and gut wrenching events, and work alongside the police service, I gained the fodder for creating intense novels.
My creative DNA shocked me when I was driven to write a dystopian / paranormal / romance novel, The Guardian’s Wildchild. After taking several writing courses, I presented the manuscript to Omnific Publishing who published it in 2011. Just when I thought I could get my life back, another story took me prisoner – Forbidden. I couldn't believe there was this kind of story within me and desperate to be told. I resisted. It was futile.
Retired and focused on home life, I’m back to being a mom to four pets and one husband. We travel and taste the excitement of other cultures. In between adventures, I’ve dabbled in water color painting, photography, needle work, gardening – the list goes on. In my next life, I plan to explore the cosmos.
I’ve learned a few things in my seventy years. Thoughts are powerful. Intention is everything. Passion is the key to success.

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

Monday, June 19, 2017

Praying With Eyes Wide Open by Sherry Harney with Kevin G. Harney

We may think of prayer as something we do at a specific time, perhaps with our morning devotions. Harney wants us to experience prayer through the flow of life. Her passion “is to see ordinary followers of Jesus grow into natural prayers who talk to God, listen to God, and interact with God at all times, in all places, through all circumstances.” (12)

She suggests we pray with our eyes wide open. She means that both literally and figuratively. Literally, with our eyes open we will be more aware of God's creation and people. Figuratively, we will be more aware of God's presence and His work among us.

She studied Scripture and found that nowhere are we commanded to close our eyes when we pray. She gives many examples of Bible characters who prayed with open eyes. She also found examples of lifting hands rather than folding them. And she found that the Bible records people kneeling, standing, and sitting when praying, depending on the circumstances.

Harney really helps us understand our attitude towards prayer depends a great deal on what we believe about God. She provides Scripture to help us understand how God feels toward us. She encourages us to pray with our ears open so we can be aware of the many ways God speaks to us. She wants us to pray with our hearts wide open, seeing who God is and praying with passion. And she wants us to pray with lives wide open, allowing the Holy Spirit to work in and through us.

Harney has included many personal stories as illustrations of her teaching. She also gives many practical suggestions for prayer, including prayer prompts and ideas for putting her teaching into practice.

I have read many books on prayer. I really like this one from Harney. She gets to the root of our attitude toward prayer, a result of our attitude toward God. She is convincing in her encouragement to pray at all times and in all places. I highly recommend this book.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Sherry Harney is the leadership development director at Shoreline Community Church in Monterey, California, and the co-founder of Organic Outreach International. She speaks regularly about prayer, spiritual formation, leadership and organic outreach for local, national, and international groups and events.
Kevin G. Harney is lead pastor of Shoreline Community Church and the author of several books, studies and articles.

Baker Books, 224 pages.

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

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Evaporation of Sofi Snow by Mary Weber

This futuristic novel has an overwhelming amount of technological devices and virtual reality. It took me a while to understand what was going on and I would have appreciated a better introduction or set up to the era. Virtual gaming is the entertainment of the day and Sofi is a master at coding. She and her team direct and aid her brother, Shilo, as he battles virtual and real situations.

The novel reminded me of the Hunger Games. There is the same kind of intense competition as competitors face potentially harmful situations. Some of the competition involves real items. Sometimes blood is spilled. Other parts of the competition are virtual and the competitor's team works madly to write code to change an aspect of the player's protection or ability.

There is lots of adventure and suspense in this novel. Shilo goes missing when the competition is sabotaged. Sofi is sure he is still alive and is determined to find him. That leads her into all kinds of dangerous situations, including encountering aliens.

I was looking for a moral aspect in this novel and failed to find it. I did find several references to casual sex by some of the characters, including Sofi at age 17. I did not find any redeeming point to the story in the end. There was no mention of spirituality that I recall, even though the book is published by a “Christian” publisher. There will certainly be a sequel as we are left with a glaring undetermined outcome to Sofi's experiences. Perhaps there will be a well presented virtue in the next book.

I recommend this novel to older teens who love gaming, coding, and reading about virtual reality. Those who like science fiction in general might also like it as there are aliens who help earthlings in this era after a great war. The writing about gaming and coding was a bit confusing to this senior citizen but younger readers may understand it easily.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

Mary Weber is the author of the award winning young adult novel Storm Siren, and the Storm Siren Trilogy. She is a popular conference and school speaker. She and her husband live in California. You can find out more at (Photo credit: Mary Kathleen Photography)

Thomas Nelson, 352 pages.

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

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Joyful Inspirations Coloring Book by Robin Mead

Coloring books are popular today, encouraging us to slow down our frantic pace and relax. This coloring book allows readers to do that and be inspired by Scripture verses and quotes.

I really liked these illustrations. I had to concentrate on the intricate design and the colors I chose, taking my mind off of any pressing matters. I really liked that there was a Scripture on the page too. I could concentrate on the truth of that verse while I was coloring.

There are a variety of illustrations, from city scenes to gardens. There are some that are just fun, like swimming fish and (potentially) colorful butterflies.

Here is a page I colored and part of the one next to it, just waiting for my artistic talents. I appreciated the Scripture on the page. I could focus on it while coloring.

I recommend this book to those looking for a coloring book that is both relaxing and inspiring. It would be great for budding artists too as Mead has added tips for coloring. She helps potential artists choose the medium (pencils, crayons, etc.) and gives suggestions for mixing colors and ways to fill in shapes. This is a fun and inspiring book all around.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Robin Mead is an artist who combines her background in social work, studies in Fine Art, and love of expression to create joyful depictions of life. A native of New York, she and her husband of 27 years now live near Athens, Georgia. You can find out more about her and see her portfolio at

Faith Words, 96 pages.

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

The Parables of Jesus Coloring Book Devotional Illustrations by Laura James and Text by Katara Washington Patton

Adult coloring books are popular, encouraging people to slow down in our frantic culture. This book presents the opportunity of relaxing through coloring and being inspired by parables of Jesus. The text page contains the text of the parable, from one of a variety of translations, then a devotion based on that parable. A prompt for spiritual reflection or a prayer is included as well.

Next is a blank page and then a page including an illustration that can be colored. I found this odd as there is a blank page in between the text and the illustration. When coloring the illustration, opposite it was a blank page, the text for the illustration being on the previous page. I would much rather have had the text opposite the illustration. I could have then reviewed the parable while coloring. As presented, the text and illustration seemed disconnected. I suppose it allows for removing the text and illustration pages and displaying them, as the backs of both pages would be blank.

I found some of the illustrations a little disconcerting. The unusual positions of mouths and the oddly tilted heads seemed to make me less relaxed, not more. (An illustration I colored is to the left.)

I found the devotions based on the parables to be insightful and encouraging. I do recommend this book to those who enjoy coloring or doodling. You will have the opportunity to do so as well as read good devotions based on the parables.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

Laura James provided the illustrations. You can find out more about her and her art at (Photo credit: Janis Wilkins)
Katara Washington Patton wrote the devotional text. She has written and edited Christian books for children, teens, and adults and created supplemental materials for books by T. D. Jakes, Beth Moore and Joyce Meyer. She has a M.Div. From Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. (Photo credit: photobyvega)

Faith Words, 192 pages.

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

Friday, June 16, 2017

Pulse by L. R. Burkard

I have read several novels about the aftermath of an EMP but this is the first I've seen for teens. It is a combination of entertainment and information. The narrative is from the viewpoints of three teens. We follow the alternating first person accounts of their experiences after technology and electricity become nonexistent. We learn much about an EMP, what it is and what happens as a result.

The three viewpoints give three very different responses to the disaster. One teen lives on a farm in a very strong Christian family. We see how farm life has prepared her and her family for survival. Another teen lives in the city in an apartment with her family. They struggle greatly to survive after their grocery store food supply is cut off. The third teen lives in a rural home with her family totally unprepared for such a disaster.

There are many issues teens could discuss after reading this book. There is the entire complex question of making choices, such as feeding one's own family verses giving food to others. There is also the issue of stealing, implying that it is not so wrong when done to provide for the survival of loved ones. There is also the reality the teens must face. Suddenly beauty habits are meaningless when just surviving is paramount, and getting rid of lice! There is also a good discussion on listening to what God is telling you to do. And ultimately, how does a family protect themselves from marauders? Do they kill others? What is a Christian's responsibility to those in need, to those starving?

The novel is also a bit preachy. There is a monologue on the importance of having guns with which to defend ones self. There is another monologue on how biased the media is, being selective in what news they report to the public. Another one speaks to judgment on America, suggesting the parallel to Sodom and Gomorrah. (I found it interesting that the concentration was regarding sexual sin and totally ignored Ezekiel stating that the sin was being overfed and unconcerned, failing to help the poor and needy as well. Ezek. 14:49)

This is a very realistic and gritty novel dealing with the issues teens will face should there be an EMP. Teens are made aware of how people behave when they are desperate, including Christians when they are defending their own food supply. While very well written, I found the novel troubling. I would suggest that parents read this book along with their teens. There is much that should be discussed while reading it.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Linore Burkard attempted her first novel at age nine. After college, marriage and children, she began writing novels in earnest. Her first published books were historical romance with Harvest House. The Pulse Effex Series in her first youth fiction suspense series. She lives in Ohio, is the mother of five, and homeschools her youngest. You can find out more at and

Lilliput Press, 258 pages.

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