Thursday, August 31, 2017

How to Listen so People Will Talk by Becky Harling

I highly recommend this book. It has been a while since I have read a book containing so much insight and practical information. The topic is listening and the character traits and behaviors that make us good listeners are covered well.

The part of the book that had the greatest impact on me was the section explaining how humility is a requirement to being a good listener. Harling believes growth requires getting honest feedback. Humility is essential to listening well and getting the feedback we need.

The book includes lots of practical suggestions about life in general. If you want to appear more inviting to other people, smile more and walk with a bounce in your step. If you want to assess the emotional state of others, body language tips are given to increase our observation skills. She also has a great chapter on navigating conflict, including good suggestions for dealing with toxic people.

Harling includes many practical ideas. For example, she has questions to ask ourselves when we feel like we are compelled to give advice rather than compassionately listen. She has ideas for drawing out other people's stories. She has a great section on the necessity of being self aware and how to get there.

We Christians are admonished to be quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19). That is not an easy task in our egotistical society. Harling offers biblically based practical ideas for being good listeners. If you want people to feel heard and loved, I highly recommend this book to you. In addition of great content in the text, she has added questions at the end of each chapter to help us listen to God, our heart, and others. Mastering the art of being a good listener comes with a cost but the rewards are great.

Food for thought: “...it is impossible to be a good listener without developing a humble spirit.” (Loc 453/2726)

You can read an excerpt here.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Becky Harling is a certified speaker, leadership coach, and trainer with The John Maxwell Team. She is the founder of Moms Unleashed and the author of several books. She and her husband live in Colorado Springs, Colorado. You can find out more at http://beckyharling.com/.

Bethany House, 176 pages.

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

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Portrait of Vengeance by Carrie Stuart Parks

I have read all of the Gwen Marcey novels and enjoyed every one of them. I like the characters and the plots are always entertaining yet informative. This novel concentrates on troubling events from Gwen's childhood. The current investigation reminds her of a similar crime in her past. Because of that, this novel deals more with Gwen's self discovery than I have seen in other novels in the series. At first I found this a little disconcerting. I love a strong protagonist and Gwen seemed weak, stumbling through the investigation. I almost didn't like her. As the plot progressed, however, Gwen found out more about her past. In the end she was back, the strong woman I appreciate so much.

I always like to learn something when I read a novel. Gwen was working with the tribal police in Idaho and there is much about the Native Americans, their beliefs and history.

I enjoyed the police procedure plot but I think the emphasis for this novel was more on personality development. Adversity helps us develop into the people we are today and Gwen has experienced much of it. She experiences more near the end of this novel too.

The Christianity in this novel is not blatant. There are references to Scripture, however, as well as a great lesson on forgiveness.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Carrie Stuart Parks is an award winning fine artist and internationally known forensic artist. She teaches forensic art courses to law enforcement professionals and is the author/illustrator of several books on drawing. You can find out more at http://www.carriestuartparks.com/.

Thomas Nelson, 320 pages.

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

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A Disruptive Generosity by Mac Pier

Can the wealthy make a difference in the Kingdom of God and influence the spread of the gospel? Pier believes that money can be used in the temporal realm to impact the eternal. He gives us many examples of wealthy people doing exactly that.

There are thirty one stories and Pier suggests reading one a day. He then suggests praying about how God can use us. There are points to remember at the end of each story as well as a printed prayer.

These are stories about people with great personal wealth. People like Mart Green whose father started Hobby Lobby. People like the man who sold his company for a billion dollars. People who establish foundations from their wealth. People who head multi-million dollar companies with thousands of employees. People who own sports teams.

The stories are inspiring in that it is good to know that there are people of great personal wealth who are using that wealth to advance the gospel. The stories are good examples to Christians of great personal wealth, showing how that wealth can be used to advance God's purposes in the world.

I am unclear as to the inspiration these stories might be to the rest of us, those in the middle class or lower. It is good to be reminded that generosity can be exercised at any level of wealth. It is also good to be reminded that God is using people in the business and financial worlds. We may not have the resources of the wealthy but we can use the gifts we have to expand God's Kingdom.

I recommend this book to people of wealth and influence. You will be encouraged and inspired by the stories contained within. I also recommend this book to Christians who feel called to work in the marketplace. These stories will illustrate how God has used many people in a variety of professions.

You can read an excerpt here.

My rating: 4/5 stars

Mac Pier is the founder and CEO of The New York City Leadership Center and was instrumental in founding the inaugural Movement Day conference. He also serves the Lausanne Movement as the City Catalyst. He has been a resident of New York City since 1984, living in a diverse neighborhood.

Baker Books, 208 pages.

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

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Wellness Revelation by Alisa Keeton

The aim of this book is to help us get on a path to health and wholeness, to renew our whole person, inside and out. It is an eight week journey in which Keeton teaches mostly about our relationship with God and gives a little nutritional information. The idea is for us to develop our own fitness and nutrition plan from the bits of information given.

Keeton lays the foundation of seeking God first. The issue is deeper than food so she spends most of her writing on the spiritual aspect of our lives. She writes about fasting and its benefits. She informs us about nutrition in week three and suggests a detox fast (sugar, white flour, alcohol). Week four addresses activity after another spiritual lesson. The rest of the weeks have a spiritual emphasis.

This is a book for people who are serious about changing their life, both spiritually and physically. Keeton has us starting the program by signing a contract with God. This is serious business and requires a commitment to do the work. Keeton does not give a specific diet nor a prescribed exercise routine so we need to be self starters to make this program effective. Workout videos are available at the Revelation Wellness website.

The material in this book is really nothing new. I have seen it many times before in books for Christians on establishing a healthy lifestyle. I think the strength of this book is the material at the end of each chapter. Questions are included for use by individuals or in a group. A Renew section emphasizes spiritual questions. The Relate questions helps apply the information in the chapter to our daily lives. There is also a success story included. Those aspects of the book would make it a good choice for a small group study.

Keeton quotes a study that says in 2014 it was determined that seventy percent of Americans were overweight. If you are one of them and are ready to make the commitment to renew your spiritual life as a foundation to recreating yourself physically, this book has some information and lots of encouragement to get you on your way. You can find out more about the book and the program at www.revelationwellness.org.

You can read an excerpt here.

Food for thought: “God is less concerned about change in our outer lives than He is about change in our inner lives.” (Loc 3102/3287)

My rating: 3/5 stars.

Alisa Keeton had been a fitness professional for more than twenty-five years when she launched Revelation Wellness, a nonprofit ministry using fitness as a tool to spread the gospel. She and her husband live in Phoenix with their two children.

Tyndale Momentum, 272 pages.

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

Why Does God Allow Evil? by Clay Jones

There are many books in print trying to explain why Christians believe in an all powerful good God yet find we have evil in the world. I have read many of them. I think this one stands out.

Jones writes that it took him over twenty years to write this book. It shows. There is a deepness of thought and presentation that I have not seen in other books on the topic. He has studied the subject well, reading many books as well as pursuing Scripture.

A few of his many teachings stood out to me. One was his questioning whether there were any “good” people. The question of why bad things happen to good people looses its meaning when we realize that there are not any good people. Jones uses history and Scripture to prove his point.

Another part of the book I particularly appreciated was his teaching on evil entering the world through Adam's sin. I understood his explanation of why we are punished for Adam's sin. We are born with a nature inclined to sin – related to why there are no good people. Even though I had studied this topic, I found new insights from Jones.

This is a book for Christians. It explains why a good God has good purposes for allowing evil. Jones writes about being prepared for eternity, comparing the suffering here with the experience there. Lest readers think he knows nothing of suffering, he shares his own experience with excruciating pain from bone cancer.

Jones does a great job of answering the arguments of critics, such as atheists. He points out the fallacy of their arguments clearly.

I highly recommend this book to Christians who want a biblically based and well reasoned explanation as to why an all powerful and good God allows evil. Jones wants our understanding to be shaped by what Scripture says and he presents that well.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Clay Jones (DMin) is associate professor of Christian apologetics at Biola University. He has hosted a syndicated talk radio show and is the chairman of the board of Ratio Christi, a university apologetics ministry. He and his wife live in southern California. You can follow his blog at http://www.clayjones.net/.

Harvest House, 272 pages.

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

The Unreformed Martin Luther by Andreas Malessa

Great people of history often have myths added to their lives. Such was the case with Luther. Malessa looks at many familiar stories about Luther and tests their truth.

I appreciate the work Malessa has done. Luther was very prolific and his complete works totaled some 80,000 pages. With that much material, one could claim almost anything about Luther. Malessa has attempted to separate myth from fact, even though he admits he has not been able to do so completely. (9)

While this book is not a biography, it is very informative. Malessa really helped me understand the medieval situation and the beliefs of the time. That was good for putting Luther's sayings into the context of that era.

The section I appreciated the most was the one on indulgences. Malessa identified Luther's real concern on the issue and I realized I had had a wrong understanding of the situation. I also found out that Origen of Alexandria (third century) developed the idea of purgatory in the afterlife. I also found out how “Protestants” came about – not from Luther. And he probably didn't throw the inkwell at the devil. That's just a bit of what I learned from this book.

I recommend this book to those who want a better understanding of Luther and what he contributed (and did not contribute) to the Reformation. I really like Malessa's writing style. It is very personable and not at all scholastic. He's got a good sense of humor too.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Andreas Malessa is a theologian, author, and lyricist, most recently for the musical Amazing Grace. He and his wife live near Stuttgart, Germany, and have two grown daughters. 

Kregel Publications, 168 pages.

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

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Get Out of That Pit by Beth Moore

Moore knows what it is like to be in a pit. Sexually abused at a young age, she needed to be delivered from a pit. She shares what she has learned from her experience and her study of Scripture.

I appreciate that Moore distinguishes the ways we get into a pit. Our own decisions, perhaps to sin, is only one of the ways. It might very well be the sin of another, such as a parent or an abuser. Perhaps it is a tragedy, such as to another family member or close friend.

The good news is that we don't have to stay in that pit. Moore helps us understand that, although God may use people, He must be the Deliverer. He will not share His glory with another. She is convinced of the power of praying Scripture and gives a week of sample prayers at the end of the book.

I thought Moore was particularly insightful when writing about the role of other people. We might look to another to help us our of the pit. We might think we can help someone else get out of their pit. Moore helps us understand how we can impact others and also what we should avoid.

Moore presents a challenge to readers. “God will be your Deliverer or nothing at all.” (115) God wants everything we've got. That's a prerequisite to deliverance readers must accept before expecting God to move.

She tells lots of stories on herself to illustrate the principles she teaches. She has a good sense of humor that I really appreciated. The combination of personal stories and some humor make this book a pleasure to read, even though it is about a very serious subject.

I highly recommend this book to those who truly want to get out of their pit. This book fills in the teaching so often missing from our pulpits. Moore has provided reflection questions and personal application suggestions at the end of each chapter. That makes it a great book for individual use or with a group of trusted friends.

This book was first published in 2007.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Beth Moore is a teacher and the author of bestselling books and Bible studies. Her speaking engagements have seen her travel world wide. She is a wife, mother and grandmother and leads Living Proof Ministries. You can find out more at www.bethmoore.org.

W Publishing Group, 255 pages.

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

Friday, August 25, 2017

High Country Dilemma by Dena Netherton

About the Book:


Fallon Hart has landed her dream job—directing the annual melodrama, Miss May’s Dilemma. But when Fallon arrives in Pine Ridge, Colorado, she finds her new apartment in flames. To make matters worse, her manager wants her to sing an impossible solo. Her family wants her to give up the theater and join the family jewelry business. And her selfish, controlling ex-fiancĂ© wants her back. The biggest dilemma of all, though, is trying to make everyone happy.

Handsome firefighter, Lucas O’Farrell, is searching for his soul-mate, a lady who’ll share his love of the mountains, small-town living, and kids. He knows exactly what he doesn’t want: a sophisticated city girl like Fallon. But when they are cast as sweethearts in the melodrama, the attraction is hard to deny. Before he realizes it, he’s falling for her—hard—and it’s possible she’s starting to love him, too. But is love worth the risk if the she’s planning to return to Denver at the end of the season?

You can read the first chapter here.


My review:


This is a straightforward romance. There are no complicated plots nor complicated characters. The story is your typical romance. Boy meets girl, obstacles appear, one or both overcome the obstacles. In this case, Fallon is a young woman who has had a disastrous experience on the stage. She is not sure she will ever be a success in front of an audience again.

I had a little trouble liking Fallon as she seemed immature and weak. The play with which she works in the novel is a melodrama and her personality seemed to fit right in with the typical heroine in such a production. The character of Lucas, the dashing firefighter, seemed to fit right in with the typical male rescuer in a melodrama too.

The strong message of the story is trusting God for the future. Fallon has to do that with the help of Lucas, a very special man.

I do recommend this novel to those who enjoy a straightforward Christian romance. You'll be entertained and get to experience a little of a small town melodrama too, both on the stage and off.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


Author:


Dena Netherton grew up in the San Francisco bay area but always dreamed of a living in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, while writing compelling stories that inspire and encourage readers. However, her music theater studies took her to the Midwest where she earned a Bachelor of Music at Oberlin College Conservatory, and later, the University of Michigan where she earned a Master of Music. Years later, she and her husband and three children joyfully moved to Colorado where she began to write and publish articles and stories for numerous Christian Publications. Dena’s background in music and theater has provided her with wonderful memories to draw upon when creating her stories.
A writer of both romance and suspense, Dena is also an active blogger on subjects of Christian faith. She and her husband now live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.
You can find more about Dena at her website: www.denanetherton.me

Title: HIGH COUNTRY DILEMMA
Author: Dena N. Netherton
Genre:
Contemporary Romance
Length:
200 pages
Release Date:
June 20th, 2017
Imprint: 
Anaiah Romance
eBook ISBN:
978-1-947327-04-7

You can find out more about the book at Anaiah Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and GoodReads.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Anaiah Press.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Where I End by Katherine Elizabeth Clark

I really liked this book. First off, Clark's story is amazing. A young boy climbing higher than he should have on playground equipment fell on her head giving her a spinal injury compared to that of Christopher Reeve. She shares the months of rehabilitation, the miracle of limb movement, relearning to walk, continuing pain. Now, years later, she still has an uncertain gait and lack of feeling in her fingers.

Clark's writing style is great, personable and a pleasure to read. She combines her experiences with her insights and adds thoughts about God, trust and the theology of tragedy. She knows that many of her questions will not be answered this side of heaven.

She wrote this book with the hope that Jesus will be glorified. She emphasizes the essential nature of the prayers for her. The people around her could tell God was moving because of the faithful intercessions of others.

Clark is not the same person she was before the accident. She can't run. She drops things. She falls. She has constant nerve pain. Every day she faces her own fragility. Nonetheless, she is a testimony to the power of prayer and faith in a healing Savior.

This is a good book for those who want to understand the experience of one blind sided by tragedy. Clark helps us realize how she persevered and how her condition affected her children too. She reminds readers that each of us has a story to tell of God's faithfulness. Questions for reflection and discussion are included.

Food for thought: “When doctors were at their end, God was beginning.” (166)

This book will be releasing January 2, 2018.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Katherine Elizabeth Clark is a wife and mom. With a background in psychology, she has spent much of the last twenty years working and writing for a nationwide Christian radio and counseling ministry. She and her family live in Wheaton, IL.

Moody Publishers, 240 pages.

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

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide from GRACE

About the Book:


Churches have always sought to be a safe haven for children and families, but many today are dealing with the tragic reality of child sexual abuse.
This handbook, authored and edited by a multidisciplinary team of child abuse experts, is designed for use by a group that will be formulating policies and procedures to protect children and deal with possible child abuse in their ministry, school, and/or church. Working through this book will assist churches and ministries to assess their current child abuse polices and then
guide them through each step they need to take to address the safety of children under their care. It will cover vitally important topics including:
-Protecting the children in a Christian environment from child abuse
-The warning signs of child abuse
-Crafting and implement a child protection policy
-Responding to abuse allegations
-Caring for victims of child abuse
-The legal implications and requirements for churches and Christian ministries

Written by a GRACE team with multi-disciplinary knowledge, headed by Boz Tchividjian, a lawyer and former child abuse prosecutor, this handbook will be an invaluable resource to Christians who are seeking to educate themselves and others about child abuse and how to best protect the little ones under their care.


My Review:


Having been in a church where child sexual abuse happened because the proper precautions were not in place, I know the need for good policy and adequate implementation. The organization behind this book wants to empower Christian communities to recognize, prevent, and respond to child abuse.

This book is a comprehensive guide for any church needing to write a Child Protection Policy. A foundation is given, helping readers to understand the dynamics of child abuse. Abuse is defined. How to spot behavior that indicates abuse is given. The impact of abuse is explored. They cover how to ensure child safety when hiring staff and recruiting volunteers. The community and its practices are considered.

Along with the informative text are questions to answer with a view to writing policy. Samples of various policies are given too.

After the abuse in my church, we went through the long and difficult process of writing and implementing policy protecting children. I wish we'd had this book. It would have made the process easier and I think the result would have been a better document.

I highly recommend this book to Christian organizations who want to protect their children from abuse. This book gives clear understanding of the need for policy, how to draft the policy, and how to implement it.

You can purchase a copy here.

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

My rating: 5/5 stars.

G.R.A.C.E (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) is a nonprofit organization made up of highly trained, experienced multidisciplinary professionals who seek to educate and empower the Christian community to identify, confront, and respond to the sin of child abuse. You can find out more about G.R.A.C.E. at http://www.netgrace.org/.

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

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Action Storybook Bible Contest by David C Cook

DOES YOUR CHILD LOVE COMIC BOOKS? HOW ABOUT SUPER HEROES?

Now is your chance to have DC and Marvel illustrator Sergio Cariello make your child's dream come true!


Parents!

David C Cook is proud to introduce the newest book in the Action Bible collection: The Action Storybook Bible (coming October 2017). Pre-order The Action Storybook Bible from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or ChristianBook.com to reserve your copy today. Plus click the graphic below to enter to have a chance to win an illustration of your child as a super hero by Action Bible artist Sergio Cariello (who has also illustrated comics for DC and Marvel!).


The giveaway is open until September 11, 2017, 5:00pm MST. Your entry must be received by then to be eligible. Five winners will be chosen at random from eligible entrants.


Families see the Bible in motion and put their faith into action! The Action Storybook Bible invites families with young children to explore God's redemptive story together. An entry point into the world of The Action Bible, it tells of the amazing creation story, powerful kings who reigned over ancient Israel, God's miraculous gift of eternal life through Jesus, and more! God's promise for the world is displayed throughout every page. Discover your family's place in God's incredible story and together put your faith into action! Interactive features include:
  • Fifteen key episodes from God's Word-each one loaded with several stories along with over 350 brand-new illustrations throughout.
  • Short and easy readings-for children ages eight and under with rich, colorful images.
  • Life, Faith, Action! features-conclude every episode and invite families to talk about how God moves in the stories, how to see God in life today, how to put faith into action, and how to easily talk to God with a suggested prayer.
  • Hall of Fame visual index-the place to look up favorite Bible characters by discovering their icon connections and finding them in the stories.
Learn more and purchase a copy here.

The copy for this post was provided by Litfuse. I have not read this book myself. This post is for contest purposes only and is not a review nor an endorsement.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Sacred Mundane by Kari Patterson

I like this book. I like the message and I like Patterson's writing style. I like how she has invited readers along on her own journey of growth. I can tell she shares her heart when she writes.

We might think that we need to go to a special seminar or retreat to see spiritual transformation happen. Patterson shows us that transformation happens in the ordinary stuff of life, the sacred mundane. She reminds us that our success with transformation starts with belief, not behavior. We compare our thoughts and emotions to Scripture. Her explanation of the difference between reading the word and receiving it was enlightening.

Patterson writes, “The mundane is where ministry happens, where worship happens, where transformation happens.” (91) I really liked her exploration of hupomone, endurance. It has been one of my favorite words too. I was surprised to read her claim that “God purposely disappoints us.” (141) She gives Scripture examples to back that up and explains the process. She helps us see how “trials work worship into our lives.” (141) God wants to build faith and trust in us, she says, rather than fulfill our wishes.

I highly recommend this book. It helped me understand how God works in the every day moments of life to transform me spiritually. There is an extensive Small Group Study Guide included in the book. There are personal assignments for six days and then discussion questions for the seventh. This would be a great book to use for a group study or with a trusted friend.

Food for thought: “When Christ is Lord, nothing is secular.” (79)

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Kari Patterson is a popular speaker and blogger. She is a pastor's wife, homeshool mom, Bible teacher and mentor. She has a master's degree in pastoral studies from Multnomah Seminary. You can find out more at www.karipatterson.com.

Kregel Publications, 214 pages.

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

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Every Piece of Me by Jerusha Clark

Clark explores the seven “I am” statements of Jesus with the aim of showing that He is the answer to all we need and it is in Him alone we find our true identity. Questions for personal reflection are given at the end of each chapter as are a couple of books for additional reading.

Clark is refreshingly honest about her struggle with depression and an eating disorder. She faced postpartum depression twice, was diagnosed Bipolar II, and suffered a subsequent breakdown. This is an encouraging section for women who struggle with issues, realizing that Christians don't always get victory over every issue. Clark encourages readers to allow their weaknesses to be used for God's glory.

Clark has good teaching on several issues particular to women. She writes about shame and feeling excluded. She has a good section on hearing from God. I found her section on spiritual dissonance particularly interesting. We can know much about God yet not experience the truths nor live in them.

She writes like a teacher might teach. I felt like I was in a lecture hall while reading the book. Clark teaches truth to readers rather than inviting us along on her transformation journey. Because of that writing style, I had difficulty connecting with her teaching.

There was one aspect of the book I found disconcerting. Before investigating the "I am" statements, Clark reminds readers that it is important to explore the context of Scripture and to whom the words were spoken. (Loc 567/3723) I found it rather odd that Clark began her book with an extensive teaching on Isaiah 43. She applied to women today what God clearly said to the Israelites through Isaiah centuries ago. She did not explain the context of the passage nor why she applied those descriptions to people other then to whom they were originally directed.

This is a book specifically for women. There are topics discussed, such as sexual issues, that make this book inappropriate for men.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

Jerusha Clark is the author or coathor of a dozen books. She and her husband, Jeremy, pastor at Emmanuel Faith Community Church, have two daughters. You can find out more at www.jandjclark.com.

Baker Books, 240 pages.

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

Friday, August 18, 2017

Out of Darkness by Erynn Newman


To purchase your copy, click here.

About the Book


Book title: Out of Darkness  
Author: Erynn Newman  
Release date: May 18, 2017  
Genre: Romantic suspense

Elisabeth Allen gave her heart to Jesus as a little girl and to Drew Marek as a teenager. When their wedding day finally arrives, it’s the happiest day of her life–until a car bomb transforms her dream come true into a living nightmare.

As Best Man at the wedding, Gabriel Di Salvo promises Drew–his best friend and CIA partner–he’ll look after Elisabeth, but he never dreams it will become necessary so soon. As Elisabeth struggles to put the pieces of her life back together without Drew, Gabe becomes her rock, and as they share their grief and begin to heal, their friendship gradually deepens into something more.

Three years later, Gabe and Elisabeth are planning a future together when he receives a shocking call from the one man who can upend his happiness: Drew. Suspecting someone at the CIA is behind his abduction, Drew refuses to come home. Instead, he asks Gabe to bring Elisabeth to him. Now Gabe just has to figure out how to let her go. 

Drew and Elisabeth race across Europe, dodging international arms dealers and attempting to reclaim what was stolen from them. But years of captivity and torture have left their mark on Drew. He is no longer the same boy Elisabeth fell in love with, but he is still her husband, and she’s determined to build something new and leave her relationship with Gabe in the past, if her heart will get the memo. 

When their enemies close in and the threat of a terrorist attack escalates, Gabe may be the only person they can trust. Drew, Elisabeth, and Gabe are thrown into a fight for their lives–one that will test their loyalties to God, country . . . and each other.

My Review:


This is a good debut novel. It emphasizes character development yet is interspersed with action and suspense. I read the prequel and I really like the intense love Elisabeth and Drew have for each other. It was very interesting to see how Elisabeth handled it when Drew was suddenly gone from her life. She struggled with letting go of his place in her heart, even years later.

Drew was struggling too, to stay alive and sane in the midst of torture and other mistreatment. Even when Drew manages to escape, he knows there is a traitor in the CIA. He and Elisabeth are not safe. There was plenty of action included as Drew and Elisabeth try to stay one step ahead of those who want him dead.

I recommend this novel to those who enjoy a good deal of suspense woven into a story of love and commitment. You'll find a clear message about saving faith in Jesus Christ and how that changes a life.

My rating: 4/5 stars.



About the Author


Erynn Newman is a pastor’s kid, raised in churches all over the Eastern Seaboard. Since earning her degree in Christian Studies, she has traveled the world and served as a missionary, a counselor, an ESL teacher, and a nanny. Though she has never worked with the CIA, her DVR contains a veritable Who’s Who of international spies. She is a Carolina girl, a wife, and Mama to a very busy little boy, two cats, and a gaggle of characters that live inside her head.


20 Facts About Out of Darkness

  1. I write novels while the rest of the house sleeps. That’s also when I do most of my editing work and social media stalking. During the day, I get to hang out with an awesome 4-year-old who is the reason I get up in the morning (both because he’s my heart and because he’s staring into my soul asking me to make pancakes).
  2. I don’t like wine or coffee. My writer fuel is partially frozen Cherry Pepsi.
  3. It took me a long time to realize I was a writer. I thought that everyone made up imaginary people and back stories for them and imagined the lives they lived and sometimes talked to them in traffic. Turns out no. Fortunately other writers found me and helped me figure it out.
  4. My greatest nemeses are also my greatest inspirations. Facebook and Netflix. Finding the balance of hanging out with other writers and readers and being inspired by great story telling and actually doing the work is the hardest thing for me.
  5. I am obsessed with casting characters. Finding the perfect actor/actress or model who embodies my characters is one of my favorite parts of the process. I also do this for every single book I read.
  6. So, of course now you want to know who I chose for Drew, Elisabeth, and Gabe. I’m glad you asked.
    • Drew is based on Matt Bomer’s portrayal of Bryce Larkin in the show Chuck (there are quite a few nods to this show hidden throughout Out of Darkness).
    • Elisabeth is partially based on a character from a show I watched when I was in college (also a waitress and artist), but she looks like this model.
    • Gabe is based not that loosely on (young) Anthony DiNozzo from NCIS.
  7. Our house has a really great office with a nice desk and comfortable chair that looks out on our wooded back yard. But I work almost exclusively while sitting on the couch with my laptop propped up on the back of it. My uniform is yoga pants and an old t-shirt. The author life is G.L.A.M.O.R.O.U.S.
  8. I got my start writing fan fiction. Most of it has been obliterated from the interwebs, but there may still be a few Star Wars stories floating around out there (I owe this to my love for Ewan MacGregor and my hatred of Annakin Skywalker). Fan fiction is also the way I found my very first critique group. And our leader, Susan Kaye Quinn, best-selling author and real life rocket scientist, helped me realize I could be a real author. And later she taught me how to publish. I want to be her when I grow up.
  9. Speaking of fan fiction, the original idea for Out of Darkness was a fan fiction based on that character from that show I talked about above. The waitress/artist who lost her first love and then fell for someone else. And then when her love returned, he was… recast. And terrible. And she forgot who she was and made every wrong decision. And everyone was miserable ever after. And I was like, what even IS this show?!?! So I started writing my version of how it should have gone. But then a surprising thing happened. My characters took on lives of their own, and I fell in love with ALL of them, and I knew I had to tell their story. So I started creating a different back story for them (and I introduced them to Jesus), and then they became their own characters and started telling me what to do. And I’m a little insane now, but I’m not even mad because I love what this story has turned into (and turned ME into).
  10. I started writing Out of Darkness in its earliest form in 2006. I stopped and restarted several times. I wrote other things that may or may not ever see the light of day. I learned that I was writing all wrong, and I ripped it apart, started over and stitched it back together piece by piece. In fact, my original chapter one is now chapter FOURTEEN. And all of that is after the first fifty pages that now comprise First Light, the prequel novelette that tells the story of how Drew and Elisabeth met and fell in love.
  11. Of all the exotic locations mentioned in Out of Darkness: Venice, Italy; Paris, France; Cordoba, Spain; Trim, Ireland; and even Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland, I have been to two—Baltimore and Paris. Google Maps Street View and Wikipedia are an author’s best friends.
  12. Music inspires me to write, but I can’t write to music. I often hear a song that makes me think of a scene or helps me get the emotion right. And I add those to my play list, but when I write, I prefer quiet (or instrumental music).
  13. I want the Gospel to be front and center in every story I write (including my own), but there were two scenes in particular that I really felt like the Holy Spirit guided me in writing. One is when Drew finds his Bible in the backpack Gabe packed for them, and the other is Gabe’s argument with God when he decides to let Elisabeth go. In both instances, I feel like God really led me to the right Scriptures and gave me the words in a way I didn’t experience with any other scenes.
  14. The hardest scenes were all of the ones with Drew and the gas. Both because I don’t like to torture my characters (contrary to what you may believe) and because the science behind the weapon is way above my head. I worked with a couple of microbiologists to get it at least to plausible/possible, but I’m sure there are still some issues with my science there.
  15. I cried several times while writing this book. Elisabeth and I grieve much the same way, so I saw a lot of myself in her moments crying out to God—especially in the ones where she just wanted to feel Him and couldn’t. I cried when Drew fell apart reading his Bible, and I cried at the end when I wasn’t sure who would live or die.
  16. Gabe was the biggest surprise of the writing process. He was supposed to be out of the picture after chapter sixteen. He was just supposed to be a supporting character in the first half of the book, but at every turn he was tapping me on the shoulder and telling me, “there’s so much more to my story.”
  17. A few scenes didn’t make it into the final book. Two of them are in the outtakes section of my website, but don’t read those until after you’ve read the book. Seriously.
  18. After being told by one agent that Out of Darkness would never sell because it didn’t fit neatly into a genre category, I signed with my current agent in 2012, and we submitted it to several publishers. I received lots of compliments on my writing, but ultimately, people didn’t seem to like the fact that both of my leading men were good guys, and there was no one to root against. One even suggested that I make Gabe complicit in Drew’s abduction. And one suggested I kill Drew (again!) so Elisabeth and Gabe could end up together. Both interesting ideas, but neither were the story I wanted to tell. In the end, I decided to indie publish, which has been really challenging, but I’m so happy with the way everything turned out. We all got the ending we were supposed to have.
  19. Speaking of endings, the one in the final version is very different from the original. I’ll try not to be too spoilery, but let’s just say that the original ending was far less happy, but I felt like it was the only way out. One of my characters made a choice that I couldn’t see any way around. And I thought that a happy ending would be too fake. I didn’t want to tie everything up with a pretty pink bow and say “they all lived happily ever after,” because after everything they’d been through, that wouldn’t be real life. But a very good friend of mine convinced me that I could instead tie everything up with a frayed knot. It’s still messy and difficult and a little raw, but I think it’s real… and full of hope and possibility.
  20. So what’s next, you ask? There’s more to explore here perhaps, but I honestly don’t know what comes next for these characters. That’s something I’m still thinking about. The story I’m working on right now also begins in D.C. but takes place mostly in the Pacific Northwest. It’s the story of an ex Army Ranger who has to protect his three little brothers when the youngest witnesses their parents’ murder. And there may also be a girl involved.

Blog Stops

August17: Genesis 5020
August 19: Fiction Aficionado
August 21: Blogging With Carol
August 22: Faithfully Bookish
August 22: Mommynificent
August 24: 100 pages per hour
August 25: Carpe Diem
August 26: J.E. Grace Bog
August 26: Karen Sue Hadley
August 27: Back Porch Reads
August 28: Daysong Reflections
August 29: Remembrancy
August 30: Henry Happens


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 of this post was provided by Celebrate Lit.