Saturday, November 30, 2013

From Heaven He Came and Sought Her, edited by David Gibson and Jonathan Gibson

Definite atonement, that Jesus died for the elect, has long been a controversial aspect of Reformed theology. The question is, as Louis Berkhof asked it, Did the Father send Christ to make atonement for the purpose of saving only the elect or all men? (46)

The editors have compiled these articles so we readers can explore the historical foundations of the doctrine, how it is developed from Scripture, and how it is to be preached. “The argument set forth in this book,” they write, “is that, before time, the triune God planned salvation, such that the Father chose a people for himself from among fallen humankind, a choice that would involve the sending of his Son to purchase them and the sending of his Spirit to regenerate them. In the mind of God, the choice logically preceded the accomplishment and the application of Christ's redemptive work...” (46)

The editors review the critiques of the doctrine in their Introduction. The subsequent articles, by various authors, address them. This includes controversies and nuances of the doctrine in church history, its presence or absence in the Bible, the theological implications of the doctrine, and its pastoral consequences. Each essay is a self contained argument so readers can turn to the ones of specific interest. The indexes at the end of the book make it very easy to see what the various authors have said on a particular Scripture or about a certain author.

This is an extensive look at the doctrine. It seemed to me the various authors addressed every Scripture related to the discussion and answered every critique others have presented. As with the doctrine of the Trinity, this doctrine is not clearly stated in Scripture. It is a theological conclusion reached by holding together various soteriological texts while at the same time synthesizing various doctrines. (332) Confusion surrounding the doctrine is cleared up when it is viewed in light of the entire plan of salvation.

I was impressed with the aim to show that definite atonement is to God's glory. This was clearly related by John Piper in his article on preaching. He reminds us “that the central task of Christian ministry is the magnifying of the glory of God.” Preaching definite atonement, he argues, is a significant part of the glory of God's grace displayed through the work of his Son.

Reformed Christians will find great satisfaction in this extensive defense and clarification of a doctrine that often confuses them. Those opposed to the doctrine may not be convinced of its truth after reading this book, but they should certainly read it to understand the problems that come with not believing it. I was particularly struck with the problem regarding universal atonement and universal accessibility. That issue alone should jar people believing in universal atonement to reconsider their stand.

David Gibson is minister of Trinity Church in Aberdeen, Scotland.
Jonathan Gibson is currently working on a PhD in Hebrew Studies at Cambridge University.

Crossway Books, 704 pages. Visit the publisher's product page to learn more about the book, the editors, see the table of contents, and read an excerpt.

I received a complimentary egalley from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Aloha Rose by Lisa Carter

Laney Carrigan was adopted as a baby. Now an adult, she has decided to find her birth parents. Her dad helps her by posting on line a photo of the Lokelani quilt in which she was wrapped when left on the Carrigan front stoop.

The novel opens as Laney is flying to Hawaii – to the family who responded to the posted photo of the quilt. She receives a warm reception but Laney battles fear of being rejected again by the family who rejected her once. She is disappointed that only an aunt and grandmother remain as her birth mother reportedly died of an overdose. Adding to the stress is Kai Barnes, a troubled cowboy/helicopter pilot taken in by Laney's birth family. He thinks Laney might be a gold digger, after the valuable family farm. Despite his doubts, he has feelings for Laney. And she has feelings for him – but there are so many issues between the two of them.

This was a fun novel to read. I learned a great deal about the Hawaiian culture and PTSD. Carter did a great job giving the reader a sense of place in describing the surroundings. The romance is done well too. And there is plenty of action towards the end. It is a quick read and well worth it.

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

Lisa Carter has a Master's degree in History and has taught at the university, high school and middle school levels. She is the author of Carolina Reckoning. She is a member of ACFW, RWA, and Sisters in Crime. She and her family live in Raleigh, North Carolina. You can find out more at

Abingdon Press, 240 pages. Purchase a copy here.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book through a publicity group for the purpose of this review.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Christmas Quilt by Vannetta Chapman

Annie is living a full and happy life as Christmas nears. Trained as a nurse, she helps her husband tend to the community's minor medical needs. She sometimes helps the midwife as well. Most days she takes the buggy to her brother's home as her sister-in-law, Leah, was due to deliver their first child just before Christmas. Annie is busy making a crib quilt for the expected newborn.

But Annie may not get the quilt finished in time as Leah experiences some trouble with her pregnancy and must go to a Philadelphia hospital.

This story is very character oriented. Leah and her husband have been having a bit of a rough time and we see how the birth draws them together. We also get to know Annie better as she prepares for her own motherhood.

This is a fine Amish Christmas story. It was interesting to read about what happens in the community when there is a medical emergency that is beyond the ability of the herbalist or midwife. It was heartening to see how the community came alongside the couple to help with the medical expenses. The whole story is wrapped around the making of quilts so readers who like Amish tales or the making of quilts will like this novel.

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

Vannetta Chapman has published over one hundred articles in Christian family magazines and has written five books about the Amish. She has received over two dozen awards from Romance Writers of America chapter groups. She and her husband live in the hill country of Texas. You can find out more about her at

Abingdon Press, 235 pages. You can buy a copy here.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

God Is Able by Priscilla Shirer

You are in a tough spot and you cry out to God. You wonder if God can actually do it. Oh, you believe in the power of God – theoretically – when it's someone else's problem. But what about when it is you who needs the power of God? Do you have faith in God's ability/willingness to take care of you?

Priscilla takes us through Ephesians 3:20-21 phrase by phrase. She tells some pretty amazing stories about what God has done in her life and the lives of others. But she is quick to note that God has not always answered her prayers the way she requested. She's been disappointed, confused, unsure.

Priscilla handles well this issue of God not answering our prayers the way we want. Paraphrasing her, whether God chooses to do something is a question of His sovereignty, not His ability. Whether or not He will do it is His business. Believing that He can is our business.

God has not always changed her circumstances but He has changed her. “Sometimes His best work is not what He does for us but what He does inside us,” she writes. She has confidence that God is able. Because He is able, because He is love, we can be secure in any situation.

This is a very practical book. It is short and very powerful. Priscilla's writing style is so contagious, you'll be encouraged as I was. In fact, why don't you go read Ephesians 3:20-21 right now and start believing.

Priscilla Shirer is a Bible teacher and conference speaker and has a Master's degree in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary. She is the popular author of several books. She and her husband founded Going Beyond Ministries, have three sons, and live in Dallas, Texas.

B&H Publishing Group, 157 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Icon Media for the purpose of this review.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

An Elegant Solution by Paul Robertson

This is a complex novel and was difficult for me to read. When I read fiction I don't exercise the same intensity of concentration as I do when reading nonfiction. For me, fiction is an escape to a place where intense thinking is not necessary. This novel required attention to detail and deliberate concentration.

The scene is the early 1700s (I think) in Basel. The era is one of great discovery and dialog in the field of Mathematics. The ideas of Newton, Leibniz, and Descartes were being debated. It was a time when the Basel University still believed that God motivated His creation, rejecting the idea that the universe was just a machine obedient to physical laws.

There is a great deal of historical background in the novel. Many of the characters were actual mathematicians of the day. We learn a great deal about the structure of the University at this time. In fact, the Tsar of Russian was in the process of forming the University of Saint Petersburg as the novel progresses. The major focus of the plot is the election of the next Chair in Physics, a quite complex process.

Robertson has a way with words. Some of his writing is almost poetic. I did find parts of the dialog very hard to follow. There were times when I felt I was privy to only part of what was being said or understood. That may have been a technique used to keep the solution to the mystery hidden until the very end but it was disconcerting.

The construction of the novel was clever. It was, in a sense, a mathematical proof. The debate is whether physical laws rule or if a man can supersede them for his own design. We find the answer at the end of the novel.

This is a rewarding novel, but do be prepared to think well and consistently when reading it.

Paul Robertson is a computer programming consultant, part time high school teacher, and the author of five novels. He is also a former Christian bookstore owner of 15 years and lives with his family in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Bethany House Publishers, 432 pages. Visit the publisher's product page where you can read an excerpt.

I received a complimentary egalley of this novel from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Extravagant Grace by Barbara R. Duguid

This is a book for Christians about sin that contains some insights and conclusions I have not seen before. It is a book full of amazing encouragement. It is written from a Reformed viewpoint, recognizing the finished work of the cross.

Barbara experienced that endless cycle of sin, conviction, repentance, efforts to change, defeat. The victorious Christian life seemed to be a goal out of reach.

Then she asked, “Perhaps our greatest problem is not the reality of our sin, but our unbiblical expectations of what Christian growth should look like.” (18) She explores a biblical theology of sin and sanctification in this book, liberally using the writings of John Newton.

She asks a foundational question: Do you believe Christians should go from strength to strength and live victorious lives, or remain in a state of great weakness and utter dependence on God for every good thought? How you answer matters immensely, she says. It reveals what you believe about yourself, about God and what He expects from you, and what you believe about the Holy Spirit and what He is doing in your life.

What I found so revolutionary in this book is Barbara's suggestion that the true goal of sanctification is actually growing in humility and a greater dependence upon Christ. She writes, “...true sanctification is all about growing in humility, dependence, and gratitude.” (32)

She suggests God is sovereign over our sin. “God thinks that you will actually come to know him and love him better as a desperate and weak sinner in continual need of grace than you would as a triumphant Christian warrior who wins each and every battle against sin.” (30)

If you are open to a new understanding of the role of sin in your life, I highly recommend this book. It is written from a very Reformed viewpoint, emphasizing that God is completely sovereign over all, even our sin. Sin has a definite function in our spiritual life. God uses it to teach us more about ourselves and more about His grace. (61) That is certainly food for thought.

She includes questions for reflection at the end of each chapter so this would make a good book for personal journaling or group discussion.

Barbara R. Duguid is a counselor and ministry assistant at Christ Presbyterian Church (ARP) in Grove City, Pennsylvania. She is a pastor's wife and the mother of six children. She holds an advanced certificate in biblical counseling from the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation in Glendale, Pennsylvania.

P & R Publishing, 240 pages.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Whispers of Hope by Beth Moore

Prayer. We are to pray without ceasing. Do you have a good habit of prayer? “No greater priority exists for the believer than knowing Christ through the study of His Word and the intimacy of prayer,” Beth writes. She has written this book to help us establish the habit of prayer. In reading it, we commit to seventy days of consistent prayer.

Each day features a devotional with a brief Bible reading assignment, a Scripture for the day, and a devotional. Following that is a prayer format for recording our petitions. It is a guide for journaling each day using the P.R.A.I.S.E. format. The prayer time is begun with Praise (perhaps repeating His attributes, singing a hymn or worship song), then Repentance (confessing daily). Next is Acknowledgment (lordship, submitting to His authority, acknowledging His right to rule and reign), then Intercession (pray for others). Supplication for self follows (bringing our innermost thoughts, fears, desires, weaknesses), and finally, Equipping (asking Him to equip you in every way for the day ahead). Two pages are given each day on which to journal. The six parts of the format are listed with plenty of space for writing.

Beth has provided a Group Study Plan at the back of the book. She emphasizes the advantage of meeting weekly with a group of prayer warriors. She outlines how group members can encourage each other to develop the discipline of daily prayer. She also gives suggestions for leading the group, whether it be a content-centered group, a format-centered group, or an application-centered group.

This book is a great encouragement for establishing a daily prayer habit. Beth's devotionals are practical for anchoring our prayer life in the Word. She shares her own experiences and teaches from biblical examples and passages in the devotionals.

If you have been struggling with consistent prayer, I recommend this book. The devotions are excellent and the prayer format is easy to remember and follow. I think it will change your prayer life.

Beth Moore realized at the age of eighteen that God was claiming her future for Christian ministry. After a degree from Southwest Texas State University, marriage and children, God filled Beth's path with supportive persons who helped her discover her gifts of speaking, teaching, and writing. She serves on the pastor's council at First Baptist Church, Houston, and teaches a Sunday School class. Beth believes that her calling is Bible literacy: guiding believers to love and live God's Word. She is the president and founder of Living Proof Ministries.

B&H Publishing Group, 225 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through the Icon Media Group for the purpose of this review.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Saturday's Child by Clare Revell

This is a novel of spiritual warfare. We Christians sometimes want to forget that there is a very real world of spiritual beings – good and evil – that impact our lives. Revell reminds us of their reality in this chilling novel. She also shows the very real dangers of dabbling in the occult.

Aaron Field is an English farmer who is about to lose his farm to his (literally) evil step-mother. Aaron has experienced much tragedy including the untimely death of his mother and later his pregnant wife. He's struggled with his Christian faith and has all but lost it.

The spiritual atmosphere at the farm is revealed when Meaghan Knight comes to talk to Aaron about the Guy Fawkes bonfire celebration the church is planning. Meaghan senses there is something evil in the farm house, especially when the step-mother is near. As Meaghan and Aaron begin to develop an attraction for each other and talk of spiritual things, the evil oppression grows and becomes deadly.

This is a pretty well written spiritual warfare thriller with lots of suspense. We see the demons appear and attack. We also see Christians' prayer coming against them. Revell has provided clear Scripture references within the novel dealing with salvation and spiritual warfare. She has also added a prayer at the end. The novel is pretty graphic with respect to the demon attacks so those sensitive to such descriptions should take care. This novel follows in the style of Frank Peretti.

One aspect of the novel I felt was a little less than perfect was the quickness of Aaron and Meaghan to fall into a lighthearted attitude after a demonic attack. That just did not seem realistic to me. Nonetheless, this is a well written novel. I recommend it to be reminded of the reality of the spiritual world we so easily ignore.

Clare Revell lives in a small town in England with her husband and three children. Find out more at

White Rose Publishing, 322 pages. You can buy the book here.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book through the Book Group Network for the purpose of this review.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Last Clinic by Gary Gusick

This is not a Christian novel. For my blog readers who usually expect from me a review of Christian fiction, this is not one. There is language in this book and sex. I do not recommend it to sensitive readers.

While Reverend Jimmy is protesting outside a women's clinic in Jackson, Mississippi, he is murdered. Sheriff Shelby is pressured to solve the mystery quickly so he calls in his best detective, Darla. She has been on leave since her husband died in an auto accident. He had been a professional football star in Philadelphia but they had moved to Jackson, his hometown, when his professional career was over. She was a cop transplanted to the south and was definitely not part of the good old boys club.

I liked this mystery. Being from the Pacific Northwest, it was interesting to read a novel taking place in the south. At first I was put off a bit by the language but remembered a trip to Louisiana where I heard exactly this kind of language, even by some Christians. I liked the gutsy Darla. She methodically tracked down the killer. I liked the quirky characters too. There is Uther who is a computer whiz. And then there is good old detective Tommy, an Elvis impersonator who wants all the credit but is horrible at detecting.

I think the plot was decent and the mystery plausible. There was a good mix of personal issues and police work. Reverend Jimmy was certainly not a godly man. As much as I wish his kind of story could not possibly happen, I know it does. Sometimes it is the most vocal people who have the darkest interior.

I look forward to another novel from this author featuring detective Darla.

Gary Gusick is a retired advertising executive with more than thirty years experience as a copywriter and creative director. He is a multiple winner of awards for creative excellence in advertising. He and his wife life in Jackson, Mississippi.

Alibi, an imprint of the Random House Publishing Group, 250 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The War on Christmas, Bodie Hodge Gen. Ed.

Christmas is under attack, Bodie writes. The subtle move of replacing the Bible as the authority for truth has progressed into a demand to remove God and His Word from every area of life.

Bodie has compiled this book so we will know what we are celebrating. A variety of contributors write about aspects of Christmas. Topics covered include the meaning of Jesus' birth including why He came, the history of the Dec. 25 date, the uncertainty of the actual birth date, the real meaning of Xmas, what is really known about the wise men, whether the angels sang, the significance of the name “Jesus”, misconceptions about the Christmas star, the history of the idea of Mary's perpetual virginity, what is real and what is tradition in nativity scenes, suggestions how to handle “Santa”, and the importance of Adam and the Genesis account for a true understanding of Christmas.

The writers inform us as to the truth of Christmas. “Far too often traditions have been the basis of our thinking, and we end up believing things that are not found in Scripture,” Tim Chaffey notes. (63)

Potential readers should be aware that Ken Ham adds a chapter at the end of the book noting the importance of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum in the battle over the authority of the Word of God.

This would be a good book for families who have not been raised in a Christian setting and are not familiar with the biblical account of Jesus' birth. We are reminded of the true meaning of Christmas and are informed as to what is mere tradition.

The format of the book is artistic with wonderful photos and graphics added. There are twenty three chapters so this would make a wonderful family devotion for Advent.

Bodie Hodge has been a writer, speaker, and researcher for Answers in Genesis since 2003.

Master Books, 144 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Handlebar Publicity for the purpose of this review.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Strait of Hormuz by Davis Bunn

Marc's mission from the State Department is to find out who is funding the Iranian nuclear program. He has a lead - the money trail involves the sale of high-end art. He is nearly blown up in a gallery in Geneva just as he sees Kitra, the Israeli nurse with whom he had a brief relationship in the previous novel. She had had a mysterious phone call instructing her to go to Geneva and warn Marc of danger.

The two work together, even though their relationship is strained. They try to follow the money trail, teaming up with Swiss law enforcement. Adding to the tension is a time constraint. A ship with unknown cargo has left North Korea and its whereabouts unknown. The U.S. military leadership is bent on making a big mistake by boarding the ship when it surfaces. Marc is convinced it is a decoy, but he has to find the real shipment and prevent its use before it is too late. The action moves to the Middle East as the novel progresses.

This is a fast paced international thriller. People from several nations work together to keep Iran from completing their terrorist act. There is lots of action along with the troubled progressive romance between Marc and Kitra.

There were a few concerns I had about the novel. One is that Kitra and the female high-end art broker who is helping Marc are left alone to attend a gallery event. They had already been attacked once and I was surprised Marc did not arranged protection in such a public place. Well, of course, they are attacked again (duh) and Marc has to rush to save them (he was talking with his law enforcement friends). Another issue is that a very wealthy person provides Marc with all the extras he needs. That just seemed a little too convenient. I also had some difficulty getting a sense of the locations, perhaps from lack of description.

These are issues that I felt detracted from the novel but it is still an exciting one. Faith is a prominent aspect of this novel, from the individual faith of Marc and Kitra to the collective faith of the Christians gathering for worship that are from many nations. It was very interesting to learn of the plight of Arab Christians in the Middle East. People who like international political thrillers will like this one.

David Bunn is an award-winning novelist and a lecturer in creative writing at the University of Oxford. His books have sold nearly seven million copies worldwide. He and his wife divide their time between the English countryside and the coast of Florida. To learn more, visit

Bethany House Publishers, 336 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

What Once Was Lost by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Christina oversees a mission home housing a group of poor and misplaced individuals. When a fire breaks out leaving the home inhabitable, she must find shelter for all those she has been caring for. She even approaches Levi, a reclusive mill owner, to take a young blind boy.

Christina is nearly overwhelmed when obstacles to rebuilding the home pile up. And then an old adversary returns to the town, determined to ruin Christina.

This novel is a character study of a young woman who is dedicated to helping those in need. She is strong-willed, determined to see “her” home rebuilt and care to the needy restored. Levi has issues of his own he must overcome and taking care of the blind boy helps him do just that. It seems like the future might be bright for Christina and Levi except for the obstacles that keep coming.

This is a pretty good historical novel, taking place in 1890. Christina's struggle to get the home rebuilt was done well but I was disappointed in how the ending came to be. Christina is rescued, so to speak, and does not have to fight to the end. I would have rather seen her have to battle to the desired result herself.

You can read chapter one here.
You can watch the trailer here.

Kim Vogel Sawyer is a best-selling author of stories of hope. She has more than a million copies of her books in print. She has won the ACFW Carol Award, the Inspirational Readers Choice Award, and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. She and her husband run a bed and breakfast in central Kansas. Find out more at

WaterBrook Press, 352 pages.

I received a complimentary galley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Stones for Bread by Christa Parrish

Liesl's world is bread. Bread has a beauty beyond eating and Liesl is an artisan. She is living out her legacy of bread-baking as owner of Wild Rice bake house. Her mother and grandmother passed down the mystery of baking and Liesl continues the tradition.

Liesl's life gets more complicated when her head baker brings his troubled grandson to the kitchen. Then a waitress submits her recipes to a popular cable cooking show for a potential contest. And there is a new delivery man who gets under her skin.

Liesl's quiet life disappears after her television appearance. And then a phone call from a stranger shatters the very foundation upon which she has built her life.

Parrish has created the character study of a young woman who is trying to survive her past as her troubled childhood continues to insert itself into her present life. Relationships are so very difficult for Liesl, she tends to sabotage the attempts others make at closeness. The narrative alternates between the present and her youth as we come to see why she is who she is – a solitary bread artisan.

This book will make you fall in love with bread. Real bread, not the packaged stuff you buy at the store. I was fascinated with the information about bread contained in this novel. Parrish has added vignettes of bread's history throughout the narrative. There are some bread great recipes included too.

I'm taking part of a blog tour of this book and you can see other reviews here.

Christa Parrish is the award-winning author of three novels, including the 2009 ECPA Fiction Book of the Year “Watch Over Me.” She is the wife of author and pastor Chris Coppernoll and homeschools their three children. She serves with her husband as co-leader of their church's youth ministry, serves as a facilitator for a divorce recovery ministry and is now slightly obsessed with the art of baking bread. You can find out more at

Thomas Nelson, 336 pages. Purchase a copy here.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Monday, November 18, 2013

To Know You by Shannon Ethridge and Kathryn Mackel

This is such a good novel it is hard to know where to begin.

Julia Whittaker has a past. A past that includes two daughters, fathered by different men, given up for adoption. That was before she met her husband Matt. Now, after all these years, she has to find her daughters.

Julia and Matt's son, Dillon, has beaten the odds on his liver disease for thirteen years. But now the only hope is a transplant and the transplant list is too long. No one in the immediate family is a match so Dillon's only hope for survival is his two older half-sisters. Julia hasn't seen either of them since she abandoned them. How can she possibly ask them to sacrifice for a half-brother they've never known? Can they even forgive her for what she did?

This is a very well crafted novel that tackles a number of issues. The temptation to infidelity is a prominent one. Birth out of wedlock is another. Forgiveness is a huge topic in this book, within an extended family and within a marriage. There is a controlling husband and a wife's desire for “freedom” of some kind, leading to the issue of openness and honesty in marriage.

The authors have created a powerful story of wrong decisions, forgiveness and hope. There are several stories within the main narrative. There is Julia, her two pregnancies by different men, and her marriage to a loving Christian man. There are the lives of her estranged daughters, one married and the other in a troubled relationship. The stories are so well developed they intertwine together to an ending that requires you have your tissue nearby.

Well written with realistic and well developed characters, this is a novel you need to read.

I'm taking part in a blog tour of this book and you can see more reviews here.

Shannon Ethridge is a best-selling author, speaker, and certified life coach with a master's degree in counseling/human relations. She is the author of 21 books including the Every Woman's Battle series. She is a frequent guest on radio and TV programs and mentors aspiring writers through her BLAST Program. Learn more at
Kathryn Mackel is a best-selling author and acclaimed screenwriter for Disney and Fox. She was on the screenwriting team for Left Behind: the Movie, and Frank Peretti's Hangman's Curse. She and her husband live in Boston. Learn more at

Thomas Nelson, 368 pages. Purchase a copy here.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book through a publicity group for the purpose of this review.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

A Match Made in Heaven by Theresa Wolmart

Theresa's husband of twenty-seven years left her. She was devastated. That caused her to turn back to God, God who had wooed her before she had even met her husband and married him. She was reminded that only He could bring her to a place of healing and health.

What happened in Theresa's life as the years went by reads like a fairy tale. She experienced healing from God. Through prophecies, dreams and the Holy Spirit's inner leading she began to focus on an usher in her church.

Even though Theresa was fifty three at the time, she says of their courting, “I felt as if I were a young girl, all smitten and lovesick. Whoever said love was only for the young?” She was blessed and having fun. In a light hearted way, Theresa takes us through through their wedding.

She then shares the insights she has learned from her experience.

As Theresa says, she purposely wrote this book so that it is short, sweet and easy to read. It would appeal to older women who wonder if there can truly be love late in life. Theresa would answer with a resounding, “Yes, to the glory of God!” She knows that God prompted her to write this book to encourage people and praise God.

Theresa Wolmart recently retired from her twenty year career in the printing industry. She has been a Christian for 35 years and has served in many ways. She writes so that others will realize they can hear from God for themselves.

True Perspective Publishing House, 116 pages. Find out more and purchase the book here.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author for the purpose of this review.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

How Did They Do That? by Deborah Tompkins Johnson

Many young people want to achieve great things but have no idea how to begin. Perhaps they want to go into a prominent profession but have no idea how to get there.

Johnson has written this book for aspiring young people. She reports on twelve successful people, investigating the skills they needed to learn as well as the challenges and triumphs that made them successful in their field.

None of these people had anything in their childhood that would have marked them as successful. None had the advantages of wealth or social position. Many of them had to overcome great obstacles in their life. America's first African-American governor, a survivor of the Iran hostage crisis, a successful Hollywood actor, and many more share their stories.

Several common factors to success are found. Education is emphasized, including in the classroom and on the job. The role model of their parents is valued. And there is a commitment to a rigorous work ethic. All were committed and focused, even at a young age. They recognized challenging opportunities and faced them with determination.

Several life lessons came out of Johnson's study. Do more than what is expected of you. Setting goals is essential, as is a strong belief in God and having a relationship with Him. Also necessary is living by biblical principles and realizing the importance of faith in daily living.

Each successful person adds Words of Wisdom – inspiring statements relevant to their success. That is followed by suggestions on what an individual needs to do now to take the same kind of path to success.

This book would be an encouragement to any young person who desires to achieve great things but feels disadvantaged or has no idea where to begin. Find out more at

Deborah Tompkins Johnson works as a government affairs manager for a major U. S. energy company. She has also worked in broadcasting and television. She volunteers for several civic organizations and is active in her church. Find out more at

Carpenter's Son Publishing, 160 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through the Book Group Network for the purpose of this review.

The Mighty League App

Geek Club Books presents a children's storybook series about a real life boy growing up with Asperger's Syndrome. The books have been created as an interactive app for iOS, Kindle Fire, Nook, PC and Mac. These stories are about an “aspie” superhero who just wants to be normal but has a family who wants him to be anything but.

The interactive storybook features JMan and his hedgehog sidekick, Mr. Redge. Jman is based on the life of Jonathan Murphy, narrator of the books. The books were written by his sister, Molly Murphy. The books are aimed at promoting self-acceptance, awareness, and an understanding for others who are different. In The Terrible Taunting, JMan and Mr. Redge save a classmate from being bullied and make a new friend in the process. The reading level is aimed at ages 5-11.

Special features include:

  • You can change the superhero, JMan, into super-heroine, Jaycee.
  • Touch Mr. Redge on every page and a secret notebook pops up with age-appropriate information on Aspergers Syndrome, being different, and bullying.
  • Over 70 interactive sounds and animations including capes waving, speech bubbles, character movements, and more.
  • Original “I'm Unique, I'm a Geek” theme song by award-winning children's performing artist, AndyZ.
  • Easy to use navigation, customization, and page turning effects.
  • Narration with word highlighting, self-read, or record your own narration options.
  • Project Based Learning Curriculum aligned with Common Core State Standards available as a free download here.
The interactive books help open the discussion about feeling different, accepting others with differences, autism spectrum, bullying and conflict resolution. It is a great resource for teachers and parents.

To see how the books work and download a free sample, you can go to the Black Fish website to download the app. (I have an iPad so I just went to the iTunes App Store and downloaded the free Back Fish app.) Once you've downloaded the app, go to the “store” and you'll see all of the titles available.

I think you'll be amazed at these books. 

Why don't you give it a try. Grab your iPad (or other device) and download the app. I think you and your kids will really enjoy The Terrible Taunting for only $3.99.

Find out what others are saying: Smart Apps for Kids and The iMums.

I'm participating in a blog tour of this app and you can see more reviews here.

While the app itself is free, as are several books, I was provided with a complimentary download of one of The Terrible Taunting for the purpose of this review.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay

This is a great novel. It's amazing for a debut effort.

Samantha Moore is an orphan who has been moved from one foster home to another. At twenty three, she lives at a home for orphans managed by Father John. Finishing her college courses she faces getting a job or two and her own apartment.

Then she is presented with an offer that will change her life forever. An unknown benefactor calling himself Mr. Knightley has offered her a grant to attend a prestigious journalism graduate program. His only requirement is that she write him regular letters to report her progress.

What a delightful story. As we read Sam's letters, we find out that she has been hiding behind characters in her favorite novels. She would frequently quote a line by Emma or Mr. Darcy rather than reveal her true feelings. And then she meets Alex Powell, best selling fiction author. Sam is terrified of revealing anything about her true self and her past. She has been terribly hurt in love before and does not want to make the same mistake again.

Reay has crafted an unique and well written novel. The writing of the letters works perfectly. We take part in the life of Sam totally through her eyes as she records her thoughts and experiences. I had reservations about how that would work but Reay pulls it off so well, I was captivated by the technique.

This is not a preachy novel. Sam must come to understand her belief in God but there is no mention of Jesus or salvation. I do like it when authors are able to tactfully present the Christian message in a novel. I found that to be the only area where this novel lacked being perfect.

Those who like the novels of Jane Austen or similar authors will love this one. But those who just enjoy a well written novel will love it too!

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

Katherine Reay has enjoyed a life-long love affair with the works of Jane Austen and her contemporaries. She has degrees in history and marketing and an MTS. Her works have been published in “Focus on the Family” and the “Upper Room.” This is her first novel. She and her family life in Seattle. You can find out more at

Thomas Nelson Publishers, 336 pages. Purchase a copy here.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book through a publicity group for the purpose of this review.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Snow on the Tulips by Liz Tolsma

Being of Dutch descent, I enjoyed reading this novel about the Netherlands during the latter days of World War II. Her book is based on events that actually happened to her ancestors and that brings added meaning to the novel.

One of the main characters, Gerritt, is with the resistance so we get a good idea of the dangers involved by those opposing the Nazi regime. When he survives his own execution, he is taken in by Cornelia, a young widow who is hiding her younger brother. Young men were taken by the Nazis to work in their factories. Cornelia had already lost her soldier husband to the Nazis and she was determined to keep her brother from the same fate.

The Dutch were a religious people and there were many who would not resist the Nazis, believing it was God's will to be subject to those over you. Such was Cornelia's brother-in-law, who refused to have anything to do with the resistance. He believed they should trust God alone for their welfare.

Tolsma gives us a good idea of what life was like for the Dutch under the Nazi occupation. She portrays well the choices each of them had to make. As Gerritt said, “Sometimes he cares for us by providing the means for us to take care of ourselves.” It was a choice between faith and common sense.

At one point Gerritt encourages Cornelia to stop hiding. “I am asking you to quit acting like a tulip covered in snow. Don't hide in this house until the Allies free you.” Hence the name of the book.

One aspect I felt was missing from the book was description of landscape. I could never quite get a sense of place, of being set in a typical small Dutch village. Also, although I did appreciate the use of some Dutch words, it was rather awkward to read sentences with one Dutch word, like nee for no, then the rest of the sentence in English.

Otherwise, a fine historical novel and a great debut.

I am taking part in a blog tour and you can find other reviews here.

Liz Tolsma has taught second grade, written advertisement, and worked as a church secretary. She and her family live in Wisconsin. You can find out more at ot

Thomas Nelson, 336 pages. Purchase a copy here.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book through LitFuse Publicity Group for the purpose of this review.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

When a Woman Finds Her Voice by Jo Ann Fore

Each one of us has wounds and scars. We've lived life and had our dreams shattered, our hearts broken. We feel misunderstood, disrespected. So we fall silent.

Jo Ann wants us to get our voice back and gives us the necessary tools in this book. It will take time and courage to go through the steps of identifying the lies and then replacing them with truth. It will take trusting God that He will provide the safe person, the safe community. It will take courage to admit the pain, give forgiveness, and wait to hear God. But at the end we will be strong enough to overcome our hurts, to make life changing choices, and to break our silence.

Jo Ann knows what she is writing about. She experienced childhood sexual abuse, a twenty year struggle with bulimia, and an emotional and physically abusive “Christian” marriage. She shares her story and the stories of others because she knows it helps us make sense of the pain and realize that we are not alone.

She reminds us that we were born with a voice. But somewhere along the way we were shamed, intimidated, or bullied into silence. We adopt a false voice: “I'm fine.” But remaining silent is at great risk, Jo Ann writes. It prevents us from knowing the depth of God's love and the width of His plans.

Jo Ann offers life skills and practical resources to bring healing. But it will take work. She offers plenty of exercises with questions to answer, advising a time of reflection and application. She suggests using a journal to record our journey. I have barely started the exercises and have already identified areas where I am benefiting from this book.

If you are a woman in need of emotional healing or want to help others in need, this is a great book for you. Even if you are emotionally healthy yet want to understand those who are not, this book would be very helpful.

Food for thought:
It's something we all long for, especially when we're hurting inside. Acceptance. Approval. Confirmation that we somehow matter.” (51)

Jo Ann Fore is a popular blogger and certified Life Coach. She is passionate about leading women into full, free lives. She is the founder of the virtual community, Write Where it Hurts, where she and her team inspire women daily. She and her husband live in southeastern Tennessee. Find out more and follow her blog at and

Leafwood Publishers, 224 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Discover Together Ephesians: Sit Down to Stand, Eph. 6:10-24

Spiritual warfare is not something we western evangelical Christians want to think about too much. We are certainly more sophisticated than to think that the devil is actually alive and active and attacking us!

As Sue points out in our video for this lesson, that's one of the errors we can fall into – ignoring the devil all together. The other error is to be obsessed with his existence. What is the right attitude to have, according to Paul?

We do need to recognize that the devil exists and is at work today, but also realize that he is not nearly as powerful as our Father. Paul gives us a definite battle plan for dealing with the devil at the end of Ephesians. We are to put on the armor of Christ. What does that really mean? Do I literally go through the actions of putting on the various pieces of armor before I leave the house in the morning or is it something deeper than that?

We have learned what it means to sit with Christ and to walk with Him daily. That means we know who we are in Christ and we remain in daily relationship with Him. Those actions are essential to being able to stand against the devil.

Sue has an insight about the armor that I have not seen before. She looks at Romans 13:12, 14 and Galatians 3:27 and concludes Jesus is our armor. That means we have our armor, Jesus, having received Him when we were saved.

What does that mean for our day to day spiritual life and warfare? When the devil comes against us with his lies, for example, we surround ourselves with the Truth, Jesus. When the devil tries to make us feel unworthy, we protect ourselves with Righteousness, Jesus.

This has given me a whole new understanding of what it means to “put on” my armor. Now I know to “put on” Christ, that is, surround myself with Who He is and stand in that truth.

Watch the video for Lesson Nine here.

You find out more about the study series at and see the video clips at You can follow the discussion on Facebook at

You can also read my comments on the Introduction, Lesson One, Lesson Two, Lesson Three, Lesson Four, Lesson Five, Lesson Six, Lesson Seven, and Lesson Eight.

Sue Edwards is an associate professor of Christian education at Dallas Theological Seminary. She brings over thirty years of experience to the classroom as a Bible teacher, curriculum writer, and overseer of several women's ministries. She is the author or co-author of several books. She has a D.Min. From Gordon-Conwell theological Seminary and a master's in Bible from Dallas Theological Seminary. She and her husband have been married for forty years, have two married daughters and five grandchildren.

Kregel Publications, 127 pages. See the publisher's product page for more information about the book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Open Book Promotion for the purpose of blogging this study.