Friday, February 28, 2014

Hidden Falls: Episode 4 by Olivia Newport

At the end of episode three, we were left with Sylvia discovering that her bookshop had been broken into. Gift items had been broken and paintings slashed. Books were strewn everywhere. This store was her livelihood and she couldn't even call her best friend to tell him about it because he was missing.

Jack tries to enlist new clients but instead of getting any, he ends up looking for their missing puppy. Nicole is in her investigative reporter mode and tries to find some background on Quinn. Liam is still trying to deal with the missing money, money people might think he had embezzled.

At the end of this episode it is Dani whose life is in danger. Monday is over and the suspense has heightened. The story is moving along and getting a little more complex. I'm hooked.

Barbour, 61 pages.

I requested and received a complimentary egalley of this episode from the publisher for the purpose of this independent and honest review.

Distortion by Terri Backstock

This is the second in The Moonlighter series and if you have not read the first one, Truth Stained Lies, you will miss out in the significance of some of the characters and events.

When Juliet Cole's husband is murdered right before her eyes, she is certain it was a random shooting. After police questioning, she returns home to tell their boys. A threatening voicemail gives the death a new level of meaning.

Juliet finds out the nightmare is just beginning. Before long she finds out her husband of fifteen years was not who she thought he was. Their marriage had been a lie. Her husband had a secret life that has put Juliet and her boys in danger.

This is another pretty good novel from Blackstock. There is plenty of action and suspense. The novel does drag a bit in places but it kept my interest throughout. This same family has had several murders now and that does seem a little unrealistic. Some of her family members who are helping her (part of the private detective agency) made a few obvious mistakes. It heightened the suspense but I don't like it when the suspense happens that way. I did like Juliet, a tough woman who was able to keep her wits about her when her world was falling apart.

Overall, a pretty good suspenseful book.

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

Terri Blackstock has sold over six million books worldwide and is a New York Times bestselling author. You can find out more about her at

Zondervan, 352 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book through the Litfuse Publicity Group for the purpose of this independent and honest review.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Godward Heart by John Piper

This is a collection of insights from Piper. Some insights, he notes, do not take a whole book to communicate. Sometimes a single paragraph can be life changing.

Some of the topics he covers include what it means to seek the Lord, recognizing the possibility of idolatry, voting in a world that is passing away, why Christians suffer, Chesterton's Orthodoxy, marriage, nine ways to love your Muslim neighbor, pastors and media attention, Abraham Lincoln and divine providence, and social media.

This collection is really a variety and I could detect no cohesive theme running through it. For example, one devotion is on the I-35W bridge collapse. Another contains tips on talking to depressed people. Some are insights into puzzling Scripture. Another is on women in combat. And the length of the meditations vary as well. Some are as short as two pages while others weigh in at six pages.

This is a great book for people who like Piper (as I do). Piper is a strong believer in God's sovereignty. Be prepared for that to be proclaimed in these meditations. For example, in the meditation on lying: “We mean that God governs all things in the universe, including the sins of sinful men.” (52)

It is also good for people with a short attention span or people who routinely have a few moments in which they can read a short meditation. It would be a good book to have in the car as a meditation could be read while waiting to pick up the kids from school or similar situations.

There is a kind of serendipity to the book as every meditation is a surprise.

Food for thought: “God's love for us is not mainly his making much of us, but his giving us the ability to enjoy making much of him forever.” (13)

See the publisher's product page here. You can read chapter one here.

John Piper is the founder and teacher of and chancellor of Bethlehem College and Seminary. For thirty-three years he served as pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. He is the author of more than fifty books, including the contemporary classic Desiring God. He and his wife have five children and twelve grandchildren.

Multnomah, 224 pages.

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

AHA by Kyle Idleman

This is not a self-help book, Idleman says. It is a God-help book.

Using the parable of the prodigal son, he frames the elements necessary to the moment that changes everything.
   A sudden awakening
   brutal Honesty
   immediate Action
When God's word and the Holy Spirit bring these three elements together, there is a God-given moment, AHA, that changes life.

We go to a distant country – any place in our lives where we have walked away from God. (He looks at why we do so.) An alarm sounds. We have a realization and we suddenly come to our senses. (He looks at how this might happen.) We take an honest look at ourselves. (He relates why this is so necessary and why and how we attempt to avoid it.) We realize it's time to do something. (He explains all the reasons we don't.)

Idleman tells lots of stories. Some are his own (like being told his right ear sticks out farther than his left). Many are of other people. Some are from the Bible. But there are lots of stories. And there's humor. It lightens up the serious nature of the topic, I suppose, but I found it detracted from the overall impact of the book. And one humorous story totally mystified me. It's a three sentence dialog in chapter 11 with a footnote. The footnote says he made up the dialog. How ironic, I thought. In a book where the second step is “brutal honesty” the author makes up a funny dialog (a lie) and identifies it as such only in a footnote.

This is a book for Christians who know they aren't where God wants them to be, whether it be in a relationship, habit, or another behavior. Idleman gives us all the right events that need to happen, but we still have to be willing. Reading this book won't change anything unless we decide to take action.

Watch a trailer for the book here.

Kyle Idleman is the teaching pastor at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. You can see some of his other work at and

David C Cook, 127 pages in the egalley I read.

I requested and received an egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this independent and honest review.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Hidden Falls: Episode 3 A Town in Trouble by Olivia Newport

It's Sunday morning at church. Lauren, who had found Quinn's wrecked car the night before, and Nicole, who was already at the scene, had been questioned by the sheriff's office. Nicole wants to put her investigative abilities to work and find Quinn, with Ethan's help. Jack and Liam consider the possibilities for Quinn's disappearance. The town goes through their Sunday afternoon activities as Sylvia, the mayor, tries to keep on top of things. And once again we are left with a cliffhanger.

There is a little more action in this episode as people continue to come to grips with Quinn's disappearance. And there is just a hint that a story from years past might hold a clue.

Olivia Newport has lived in several small Illinois towns and now enjoys Colorado at the foot of the Rockies.

Barbour Publishing, 62 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this episode from the publisher for the purpose of this independent and honest review.

Grace is Not a Get Out of Hell Free Card by Steve Foss

Although grace is the way of salvation,” Foss writes, “it is not a license to live without accountability.” (3) Grace does not release us from the responsibility to lead a godly life – it empowers us to do so. But we have to decide to do that and fight the battle in the mind.

Foss defines grace: “Grace is the undeserved, unearned favor of God that gives us access to the power of God for everything we need for life and godliness.” (29) It is not to be confused with mercy. “Mercy is when we are released from the judgment we deserve.” (32)

Based on 2 Peter 1:2-3, Foss says we must seek out revelation (knowledge) so that grace is multiplied to us. As we gain more revelation, we have access to the secrets in the deep and intimate knowledge of God. While we can gain some of this on our own, he says, God has given us apostles, prophets, etc., to reveal that knowledge. Using the tabernacle as a model, he explains how we enter into the secret place of God.

This is a good book for charismatic Christians, an encouragement to press on and live the godly life God desires. I really appreciated his teaching on the role of the law in this era of grace. He has good teaching on humility too. I also appreciated his balanced teaching on prosperity and poverty.

Foss' message is an important one for us today. God has given us grace so that we can have access to Him and live the life He desires of us. Reading this book will help you do that.

You can find out more about the book, the author, and read a sample chapter here.

Steve Foss has ministered around the world. He is the founding pastor of The Upper Room Church, one of the fastest growing churches in Texas.

Charisma House, 207 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of thei independent and honest review.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

True Reason Edited by Tom Gilson and Carson Weitnauer

This book comes out of an attempt to expose the fact that many of the arguments of the New Atheists are not as reasonable as they claim. In fact, the authors argue, the New Atheists have significant blind spots. The aim of True Reason is to show that theism, and particularly Christian theism, is reasonable and atheism is not all that reasonable.

The authors of the various essays pay particular attention to proper reasoning, following the rules of logic. It is found that atheists actually do not practice reason well and it fits poorly within their presumptions and presuppositions.

The general argument in this book is developed along four lines: Atheism and reason, Christianity and reason, reasonable responses, and Christianity's reasonability.

One essay looks at the actual use use of reason by Atheists verses their claim to do so. Another looks at Dawkins' frequent failure at logic and reasoning. Sam Harris' relation with reason is explored. Naturalism is shown to not provide the conditions for scientific investigation to take place. Christianity's close relationship with science is covered. Answers are given to the question of a good God and the existence of evil. Other essays cover many similar topics.

This is a good book for people who have read Dawkins, Hutchins, etc., and are looking for a well presented response to their claims. People who want to read a good presentation of the Christian use of reason will appreciate this book.

I am impressed with this collection of essays. Having taught logic at the high school level, I appreciated the way the various authors employed logical thinking in their essays. The definite conclusion is that the Christian faith is reasonable and the atheist viewpoint is not so reasonable after all.

You can read an excerpt here.

Editors: Tom Gilson is the National Field Director for the Ratio Christi Student Apologetics Alliance. He and his family live in Lebanon, Ohio. Carson Weitnauer is the U. S. Director for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and the President of the Christian Apologetics Alliance. He and his family live in Atlanta, GA.

Kregel Publications, 320 pages. See the publishers product page here.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this independent and honest review.

Futureville by Skye Jethani

What do you think about the future?

Your vision of tomorrow shapes your life today – your choices, your work, and your friends. “How we live today is defined by what we think about tomorrow,” Jethani writes.

Using the backdrop of the 1939 New York World's Fair, he looks at how modernity's belief in progress and evolution has influenced Christians' view of the future. Christians thought they could help the world progress but WW I brought a sense of reality. He then explores the influence of God's future judgment, especially the idea of a safe evacuation. The emphasis on the anticipated destruction of the present world had great impact on the types of occupations Christians chose. A kind of disengagement with the world resulted.

Jethani finds a way between evolution and its emphasis on human progress and evacuation and its focus on leaving everything up to God. He suggests resurrection – what we do today endures to the age to come. Our present work really does matter for now and eternity. He covers the role of beauty and artistic vocations. He looks at the role in God's plan of those in the marketplace as well.

Jethani has great insight into the trends and practices in Christianity. I understand much better now the influence world events and prophetic Scripture has had on our Christian practice. I thoroughly appreciated his section on beauty. Anyone who questions the role of art in Christianity needs to read that section. I also really liked his discussion on Christians in business and their role in God's kingdom. It gave me a new understanding of the parable of the talents.

Jethani writes, “Futureville captures my thoughts about how we are to relate to God's world.” (194) I am impressed with his insight. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to understand how their work relates to God's plan for today and the future.

Skye Jethani is an award-winning author and the executive editor of  Leadership Journal at Christianity Today. He has written numerous books, is an ordained pastor, and speaks globally on issues of faith and culture.

Nelson Books, 212 pages.

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

Monday, February 24, 2014

Wildwood Creek by Lisa Wingate

This novel is a good combination of contemporary suspense and historical background.

Allie wants to follow in her father's theatrical footsteps. She manages to land a job with a media company creating a historical docudrama about a town in central Texas and the events that occurred there in the 1860s. All of the people in the town suddenly disappeared and no one has managed to solve the mystery of what happened. The town is rebuilt on location using historical documents. Allie and others portraying the town's occupants dress and live as they did a century and a half ago. Allie senses something evil is brewing and before the summer project is over, she finds herself in deadly danger.

Interspersed with the contemporary story is that of Bonnie Rose. She and her younger sister are the only survivors from an Indian attack on her family - an attack for which she feels responsible. We follow her as she makes her way to Wildwood to be a school teacher. It is not long, however, before she realizes there is something evil happening. People of the town are disappearing and she fears she may be next.

It was interesting to alternately read the parallel stories of young women traveling to the same town a century and a half apart. I do enjoy learning about a topic when I read fiction and in this case, it was all that is involved in creating one of those historical reenactments that might be seen on the History Channel. It was also interesting to read of the hardships pioneer settlers encountered. The novel could have been a little shorter, with a tighter contemporary story, but all in all, a very enjoyable novel.

You can read a chapter of the book at Lisa's website.
Go to Lisa's Pinterest page to see photos of clothing and reenactments.
You can also find her on YouTube.

Lisa Wingate is a popular inspirational speaker, magazine columnist, and national best-selling author of several books. She is a Christy Award finalist, a seven time Carol Award nominee, and the winner of the 2011 and 2012 Carol Award. Lisa and her family live in central Texas. To learn more about Lisa and her books, visit

Bethany House Publishers, 384 pages.

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

40 Day Devotional Challenge by Kathi Macias

Are you looking for an encouraging 40 day devotional for Lent? The 40 Day Devotional Challenge would be a great choice. Each one contains a Scripture and a short devotional. They are aimed at deepening your faith while encouraging your heart. They are quick to the point and can be read in only a few minutes.

I really enjoyed reading these devotions. Kathi tells personal stories that are very interesting and help illustrate the point of the devotion. Many of the Scriptures are from the Old Testament, a welcome change from the popular New Testament passages.

There is quite a bit of space after each devotion for your own personal response. Writing a response in my first generation Kindle is difficult. A newer digital reader may work better for adding your personal notes. I suggest you have a notebook handy as each devotional will encourage you to respond.

Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored nearly 40 books and ghostwritten several others. She is a former newspaper columnist and string reporter and has taught creative and business writing in various venues. She and her husband live in Homeland, CA.

Elk Lake Publishing, 84 pages. You can purchase the ebook here.

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

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Prone to Love by Jason Clark

Having read Prone to Love, it is my understanding that Jason Clark has come to an awareness of God's love that is available to every one of us. He came to this revelation of God's love over many years and wants to share it with his readers.

Our relationship with God is not to be based on need, Clark says. “Our Father does not need us nor is it His greatest desire that we need Him … Need is not a reality in the Kingdom of heaven. We are called to live heaven here, now. The Christian life is about knowing and becoming love, and then meeting the needs of those around us with the love we have received from God. … If need is the foundation of our relationship with God, we relegate ourselves to a poverty existence.” (66) This book, he says, is an invitation to step away from the dysfunction of need, into the freedom, authority, and power of love.

I appreciate Clark's coming into a revelation God's love but I do have some questions.

Clark does not want our relationship with God to be based on need. Then what do we do with Paul writing that God told him God's power is made perfect in weakness? (2 Cor. 12:9) How do we explain Paul boasting about his weaknesses? What are we to think of Paul expressing his continued “need” for grace in his relationship to the Lord?

God is love and His love is always good – always. That's my theology.” (111) What do we mean by “good”? Does that mean, as Clark seems to say, that God would never do anything to hurt me? “God never instigates nor manipulates a tragedy to grow faith...” (146) What are we to think of Joseph's being sold slavery? How do we explain Joseph's statement that his brothers had meant the experience for harm, “but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives”? (Gen. 50:20) How do we understand that story where it seems God “used” or “manipulated” the evil of man (which caused Joseph some discomfort), for God's own greater good? How do we explain God “using” foreign nations to conquer Judah and Israel? What of Jeremiah 32:23 where Jeremiah says, “...they did not do what you commanded them to do. So you brought all this disaster on them”? How do we understand the prophecies of judgment upon Israel? How could those prophecies come to pass unless God, in some manner, instigated the act or at least manipulated the people causing the tragedy?

God is always about freedom,” Clark writes. (107) “[God] is never about control; He can't stand it.” (109) What do we do with Proverbs 21:1 where it says, “The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD, he turns it wherever he will”? (ESV) Or Proverbs 16:33, where it says we can cast the lots but the LORD determines how they fall? How do we explain Daniel 4:25 where it says God is sovereign over all the kingdoms of the earth and gives them to anyone he wishes? How do we explain the whole concept of fulfilled prophecy if God does not, in some sense, control people? “I absolutely believe God is sovereign,” Clark writes, “but I won't use the word control to describe it.” (148) How do we explain Paul writing about the clay and the potter in Romans 9:19-21?

Clark writes, “God is always about freedom.” (107) How do we then live our Peter's instruction to, “Live as free people ... live as God's slaves”? (1 Peter 2:16) How do we live Paul's instruction in Ephesians 6:6 for us to live as slaves of Christ? And how do we explain Paul so frequently describing himself as a bond-servant (or slave) of the Lord?

Did you know that both you and I are prone to love Him,” Clark writes, “we are righteous, we are inherently good; when we said yes to God our actual DNA became holy?” (161) “Dear church, I would like to suggest that we are holy by nature. Our DNA changed the moment we said yes to Jesus...” (164) “We are no longer sinners.” (166) How do we explain Paul writing that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; “of whom I am chief”? (1 Tim. 1:15) Why did Paul use the present tense? What do we do with John saying if we claim to be without sin we deceive ourselves? (1 John 1:8) How am I to understand Paul writing about disciplining his body, training it to do what it should? (1 Cor. 9:27) What do I do with Romans 7:15 where Paul shares his own struggles with sin, hating what he sometimes did?

Clark quotes Ephesians 2:4-5 and concludes, “This verse says it all. We were sinners is past tense.” (192) How am I to understand that, when I've looked up several translations and they all say we “were dead in our transgressions”? It says we were dead and now we are no longer dead. How do I extrapolate that to conclude that I am no longer a sinner?

What do I do with the passage in Hebrews 4 where the writer says it is sometimes for our “good” that we experience pain? How do I understand his statements about God disciplining those He loves? Is it true that God treating us as children means enduring hardship? (Heb. 4:7) Is this hardship for our “good,” in order that we might share in His holiness? (Heb. 4:10) And what about the writer of Hebrews saying the discipline is painful but produces a harvest of righteousness for those trained by it? (Heb. 4:11) How can that be if a Christian's DNA is holy? Why would one need to be trained in righteousness?

Clark says that he believes the point of his life is “to know His love and become transformed.” (188) What do we do with Paul's statement in 1 Cor. 10:31 that we are to do all to the glory of God? Is Paul saying that glorifying God is the most important point of our life? Should my focus be on me knowing God's love or on my giving glory to God?

Jason Clark has received a revelation of God's love toward him. He may have received a revelation Christians have missed for two thousand years. But there are also many questions from passages of Scripture that are left unanswered.

Jason Clark is a singer/songwriter, an author, a speaker, and a pastor. He and his wife live in North Carolina with their three children. For more information, go to or

Destiny Image, 224 pages.

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

Poison Town by Creston Mapes

I like suspenseful novels and this is a good one.

This is the second in The Crittendon Files. In the first novel, Fear Has a Name (see my review here), Jack Crittendon went after the man who kidnapped his wife.

Now Jack, a reporter for a newspaper, is after a story his editor is reluctant to let him investigate. There is a major industry in the city that doesn't want the story printed at all. It looks like they will stop Jack from exposing their deadly greed no matter the cost.

This is a great novel that follows Jack on two levels. The first is his investigative work uncovering the deadly practices of a fiberglass manufacturing company in Trenton City. When Jack drops off his car to be repaired at a shop near the fiberglass plant, he finds out from his friends Travis and LJ that their dad is sick. The men are sure it is the same thing that killed their mom. The fiberglass manufacturer. Jack sets off to find the truth.

Underneath this level of the story is Jack's attitude toward the man who kidnapped his wife, Pam. Granger is out of prison, is being discipled by Evan and claims to be a new man. (See Fear Has a Name for the background on these people.) Pam has managed to forgive Granger but Jack struggles. He's not reading his Bible very much anymore. When Pam confronts Jack on his attitude, he realizes his unforgiveness is affecting his marriage and his trust in God.

This is a well written novel (better than the first in the series). Pam has matured as a character. She is a stronger woman because of her experience. Jack is dragging his feet. It takes some serious action to get him to the place he needs to be with his wife and with God.

There is plenty of suspense involved. Everyday people turn out to be bold and willing to pursue the truth. I was impressed with how Pam's mother rises to her responsibility.

And there is a little humor too. Travis and LJ, Jack's car repair friends, are quirky guys. They are devoted to their pappy and their friends. They bring a little levity and a “down home” attitude to a serious novel.

This is a great suspenseful continuation of Jack's story. You might be able to read this book on its own but would miss much without knowing the events from Fear Has a Name.

Creston Mapes was himself a reporter in an Ohio town very similar to the one in this book. He is a journalist, copywriter, and editor working from his home in Atlanta. In addition to his novels, he has ghost-written and edited seven nonfiction titles. He is married to his hometown sweetheart and they have four children. See more at

David C Cook, 368 pages.

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

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Hidden Falls: Episode 2 by Olivia Newport

At the end of episode 1, the banquet honoring Quinn was under way but came to a screeching halt when he was no where to be found when the curtains opened and the spot light went on.

In this episode we listen and watch many of the people assembled to honor their beloved teacher. This episode moves the story along very little. It is mostly about the characters of the individuals involved.

But the end is another cliffhanger as Nicole has found the first clue to Quinn's disappearance.

Olivia Newport writes stories of ordinary people whose lives take a twist when intrigue descends. She has lived in many small Illinois towns but now calls Colorado home.

Barbour Publishing, 67 pages.

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

How to be a Productivity Ninja by Graham Allcott

Graham reminds us that successful people are really no different than you or me in many ways. They have just learned to use tools, skills and have a special mindset. To help us become Productivity Ninjas, he starts with the characteristics: mindset of zen-like calm, ruthlessness, weapon savviness, stealth and camouflage, unorthodoxy, agility, mindfulness, and preparedness.

This is not a time management book. Time management is dead, Graham says. Attention management is the new game. Protecting your attention and how well you use it determines your success. His process of attention management includes capture and collecting, organizing, reviewing, and doing (CORD). He shows us how to determine our attention levels and then schedule tasks accordingly. He offers many practical ideas for regulating incoming information. His suggestions for incoming email are great. It will get your inbox to zero every day!

The book contains not just the tools and tips but the strategy behind them. The first part of the book is mostly strategy and I got a little impatient. But hang in there. All the great suggestions are eventually there in the book.

Graham is donating some of the royalties from the sale of the e-book version of this book to READ International, providing textbooks to schools in East Africa. To find out more about this organization, see

Behind every extraordinary achievement is an ordinary person. This book will definitely help you move toward your desired goals.

Graham Alcott was a chief executive for a charity then transition to freelance consulting. That got him interested in productivity. He is the Chair of READ International, a trustee of Centrepoint, and an acoustic singer songwriter. To find out more about the author and his work, visit

Icon Books, 304 pages. You can buy the ebook here.

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

Friday, February 21, 2014

ReCreatable by Kevin Scott

God wants us to experience life in its fullness, Kevin writes. But we are broken – some more than others. God is in the business of putting broken lives and relationships back together. Then He begins to work through us to bring healing to others.

ReCreatable is about being a disciple, becoming a person who
  reflects God's glory
  by living well
  in a pocket of the kingdom.

Kevin unpacks that definition in this book. He writes about how God takes the broken places in our lives and restores glory to them. Christ develops in us a sustainable pattern of faith, hope and love. He explains what it means to grow in those areas and provides a strategy to do so, giving the components of each. The emphasis is on sustainable discipleship, focusing on process rather than accomplishment.

He explains how the Bible speaks to us and shapes us as we come around Scripture. We were made to worship and he covers how we do that and how it shapes us. He explores community, its functions, attitudes and ways we welcome others through Christian mission.

Kevin has added personal reflection questions and suggestions for next steps at the end of each chapter. There is also a small group discussion guide at the end of the book so it could be used individually or in a discipleship group.

We are to become mature human beings. Kevin has written this book for those who want to grow in their walk with Christ. We've been saved and justified. Now it is time to work on our brokenness. “The gospel is about redemption: God re-creating everything that was broken by sin and giving us the opportunity to enjoy eternal life in his kingdom.” (201)

This is an excellent book for new believers and for Christians who have not put much effort in their Christian walk.

Kevin Scott is book acquisitions editor for Wesleyan Publishing House. He received a master's degree in exegetical theology from Covenant theological Seminary. He is one of the (tentmaking) pastors of a small community of believers in Noblesville, Indiana called The Heights Church. He's been married to Debbie for twenty years and they have three children. You can find out more about him at

Kregel Publications, 272 pages.

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

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Ask Me Anything, Lord by Heather C. King

If you're like me, you ask God lots of questions. Heather did too. She was surprised when God asked her a question. “What do you want me to do for you?” She realized God was searching her heart, revealing her inner desires.

As she studied the Bible, she saw many questions that God asked. These were not questions for God to increase His knowledge. They were questions to break through the walls we create and to clean out the deep places of the heart.

Here are a few of the questions and the lessons Heather gleaned from them. Using God's question to Cain about his brother, Heather writes about our living in community and reflecting God's love. Using God's question to Hagar, we learn that God always has a plan, even when all seems lost. We learn how to explore the tools God has given us from the question He asked Moses. From the question God asked His disciples when the 5,000 needed to be fed, we see that God can do the impossible with the meager offering we give Him.

Heather has included a study session at the end of each section (nine total). There are questions, Scripture to review, a verse to memorize, and suggestions for journaling.

This is a great book for women who want to know God better and learn how to hear His voice. Even if you're a seasoned Christian this would be a great book as it brings to your experience a new way of studying Scripture. It will also give you a new perspective on familiar stories.

If you are willing to have God's questions penetrate the deep places in your heart, you will benefit from this book.

Heather C. King is a Bible study teacher, women's ministry leader, and blogger. She and her husband and their two children live in Virginia. You can follow her blog at

Discovery House Publishers, 261 pages.

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

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

One Realm Beyond by Donita K. Paul

I really liked this novel. I think it is probably the best fantasy I've read in several years.

Cantor was born with the gift to walk between the worlds. Finally it is time. In his first journey through the portal to another realm, he is to find his dragon. Within a few minutes of being in the new world, he does meet a dragon – Bridger, a bumbling and inept dragon that insists he's the one for Cantor. But when Bridger almost sets himself on fire, Cantor is not so sure this is the one. He'll keep looking.

As Cantor travels, Bridger on his heels, he meets Bixby – in a tree. Bixby may become a realm walker. She's not sure. She has many other special gifts and Primen (God) has not yet identified her role.

Cantor and Bixby, Bridger following along, travel this realm. They are dismayed to learn that it is plagued with evil. Even the once noble Realm Walkers Guild is in danger. There are a few in the council who destroy the others to gain power. Cantor and Bixby, with the aid of Bridger and his sister, are in a race for time to save the guild.

I really liked this novel. Donita has created a world that is very real and believable. There are no hard to understand (and pronounce) characters or places. There are no strange customs or or animals (except dragons) or plants (except one that blows up).

The best part for me were the dragons. Bridger is a riot. He has a heart of gold but is such a bumbling dragon, I just had to laugh at him. And his sister, who agrees to be Bixby's dragon temporarily, loves to shop! Both of those dragons have character!

This is definitely my kind of fantasy novel. There are clearly identified good guys and bad guys. There are crazy shape shifting dragons. There are well developed characters. There is evil needing to be eradicated and two young people growing into the task. A great book.

To find out more about the book and read the firstchapter, go to the author's web site,

Donita K. Paul retired from teaching and took up the mantle of grandma. She loves writing stories her grandchildren devour. Winner of multiple awards, she lives in Colorado.

Zondervan, 416 pages. You can buy a copy of the book here.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The A - Z of C. S. Lewis by Colin Duriez

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of C. S. Lewis' death. Lewis was a prolific writer. I've read his Narnia books, his space trilogy, and many of his nonfiction books.

While I've read much of him, I was not familiar with all Lewis wrote. This complete guide covers everything Lewis wrote, from literary essays to his science fiction and fantasy. It integrates the fiction and nonfiction so we can get an idea of Lewis' understanding of reality. It also covers his life and thought.

Included in this book are entries describing his major lectures at Cambridge, synopsis of his essays, noted pupils of Lewis, characters and places and themes in his novels, people in his extended family, people he worked with and people who influenced him, books and poems he wrote, books about him, and his beliefs on a number of subjects such as angels, the Bible, and his theology of romance. Included in some entries are suggestions for further reading. At the end of the book is an extensive bibliography.

The writings of Lewis have certainly impacted Christianity in my lifetime. He had a direct influence on how and what we believe as well as how we view the world. This book provides a tremendous amount of information on this prolific author. If you would like to know more about Lewis and his work, this provides a great reference tool for you. You'll be turning to it again and again.

This is an updated edition of The C. S. Lewis Handbook from two decades ago and the original book of this title from over ten years ago.

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

Colin Duriez was for many years a commissioning editor at Inter-Varsity Press UK. He has written books on Lewis. Tolkien and the Inklings and has contributed to several reference works relating to Tolkien. You can find out more about him at

Kregel Publications, 240 pages. You can purchase the book here.

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