Monday, February 29, 2016

Saints and Sailors by Pam Rhodes

I think this novel may be the best yet in The Dunbridge Chronicles. It was a joy to read. While it is the fourth in the series, it would be worth reading even if the previous novels have been missed.

Neil and his flocks set off on a Christian cruise. That's right, both his flocks - the people in Dunbridge, where Neil learned the ropes as curate, and the people of Burntacre, where he now serves. The two groups start out as strangers but by the end of the cruise have become friends.

What a delightful book. Rhodes again does a great job with characters. There is the jealous choir director who gets huffy because she hasn't been chosen to lead the choir. There is the couple who are finally beginning to test the edges of romance and begin contemplating marriage. There is the long married couple with a gruff husband who seems to be bent on ending their marriage. There's the middle aged woman who will make the stop in Dublin with thoughts of seeing her parents – parents who threw her out of the house 24 years ago and whom she hasn't seen since.

In addition to the greatly depicted characters are the history lessons. We journey along to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne and learn of St. Aidan and the monastery established there in AD 635. We visit Orkney and hear of the Italian prisoners of war brought there to work on the Churchill Barriers. Then on to the Isle of Iona and the community St. Columba founded there. We find delight in the Abbey Gardens and the Isles of Scilly and then go on to Guernsey. What fun to find out about the spiritual history of these places through the eyes of the travelers.

And the most fun may be the appearance of the author, Pam Rhodes, the popular host of BBC Television's Songs of Praise program. She is instrumental in designing the musical aspect of this Christian cruise. It was as much fun to read about her as I am sure it was for her to put herself into the story.

During the nine days of the cruise, people bicker just like they do at church. New relationships are made and old ones heal. Some people are moved by what God is doing while others seem to be as crabby at the end as they were at the beginning.

I highly recommend this novel. I love the characters and I really enjoyed the history I learned. Unlike some British Christian novels, the Christianity in this one will be well recognized as evangelical by American readers.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Pam Rhodes has presented the BBC's Songs of Praise for many years. She has written several popular novels.

Lion Hudson, distributed in the U. S. by Kregel, 272 pages.

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

Sunday, February 28, 2016

And It Was Beautiful by Kara Tippetts

Kara Tippetts didn't sign up for the challenge of terminal cancer. She hadn't planned to live for just 39 years. Yet, when cancer came, she ultimately called it a refining gift. “It causes us to see all things beautiful in the mundane.” This collection of her writings, mostly from her blog, helps us understand how Kara Tippetts lived well and died well.

These short essays include what one might expect as well as some surprises. She shares her thoughts on life with cancer, chemo, surgery, radiation, the quick return of the cancer and it invading her brain, living with awful pain, being needy.

She explains how having cancer changed her perspective, seeing God's faithfulness in an entirely new way. She contemplates doing cancer well, living each day in the “valley of the shadow of cancer.” She writes of knowing she had a limited number of days left on this earth with her husband and children, of being intentional in making memories.

I recommend this book to those who are living a life they never expected to live. You will be encouraged and challenged by Tippetts' experience of knowing she had terminal cancer yet fighting for the moments of joy and laughter, and for herself. “I have cancer, but that's only part of who I am.”

I also recommend this book to those who are caring for or ministering to people with a terminal illness. You will find personal insight into one living with the knowledge of death arriving soon. You will understand the humiliating needs of the ill, the reality of not being able to do simple daily tasks. You'll understand a little more how children behave when a parent is dying.

I also recommend this book to readers in general. You will be reminded of the importance of supportive friendship, of being honest with those dear to you, and the necessity of unconditional love. You will read how important it is for couples to love well in the healthy times so there is a strong foundation for the times of illness.

I recommend this book to Christians who want to believe that God will come on the scene and make everything better, who don't want to believe that God has a plan for their lives that includes hard experiences. You will find in Tippetts' writing a strong faith in God's sovereign plan, even when it might include hard experiences, knowing that it is ultimately for His glory.

Food for thought: “The sovereignty of God in suffering is a kindness to keep us utterly dependent in a way our strength resists.”

You can read my review of Kara Tippetts' earlier books, The Hardest Peace and Just Show Up.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Kara Tippetts went to be home with Jesus on March 22, 2015. You can go to to read entries to her blog as well as current contributions by others.

David C. Cook, 256 pages.

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

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Heart of Revelation by J. Scott Duvall

Perhaps you agree with Duvall when he writes, “Revelation is the strangest book in the whole Bible.” (1) It seems people either avoid it or obsess over it. But Duvall offers a third way, appreciating the book by looking at the big picture, identifying what we can know for certain, and finding lessons for our Christian living today.

He has a good introduction to Revelation, exploring the circumstances of the writing, the type of literature, and principles of interpretation.

I like how Duvall emphasizes that Revelation shows reality from God's perspective. “...God defeats the power of darkness, judges evil, rescues his people, and transforms creation.” (7) It is a book of hope but does not offer the false hope of avoiding persecution and suffering of the last days. The book of Revelation, he writes, “makes it crystal clear that Christians will face such things.” (61)

I like that Duvall does not try to identify the characters in Revelation with particular people. Writing about Revelation 13, for example, “The beasts represent wicked empires empowered by Satan.” (91) And, “The two witnesses represent the witnessing church.” (107) Regarding the judgments, “Revelation spirals forward in repeated cycles of judgment rather than progressing in a neat, straight line.” (149) As a general principle, “We must take Revelation seriously, but we shouldn't always take it literally.” (9)

This book is written for Christians who want to know the main teachings of Revelation. It is not a technical, scholarly book (by design). Questions are included at the end of each chapter for group discussion. He prays, “that it will strengthen your walk with the Lord Jesus Christ and bring you hope, courage, and wisdom.” (3)

I highly recommend this book to those who are tired of authors trying to identify the Antichrist or trying to put the events of Revelation into current news broadcasts. Duvall's book shares the encouraging message of Revelation through its major themes. It's a refreshing book that clears away the confusion.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

J. Scott Duvall (PhD, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) is professor of New Testament and J. C. and Mae Fuller Chair of Biblical Studies at Ouachita Baptist University. He is the author or coauthor of many articles and books.

Baker Books, 224 pages.

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

Roots and Sky by Christie Purifoy

I see the world through the lens of metaphor,” Purifoy writes. We look through that lens with her as she shares her thoughts on a year of her life.

She and her husband bought an old farmhouse (built in 1880) on five acres in southeastern Pennsylvania. We come alongside her to experience the first year there, exploring the meaning of home and homecoming in the context of God, family, and community.

Purifoy is an eloquent writer and her account of life on the farm is delightful. She weaves her thoughts on the liturgical year into her account of family life. I particularly liked her comments on sacred places. Now “the whole world has become the setting for God's encounter with us...” “Since Jesus, every place has the potential to be sacred. We carry God with us now, our bodies are temples.” She writes with similar insight about sacred time in our frenzied world of twenty four hour shopping.

She writes about family life and the birth of her daughter. She takes us through the darkness of winter and her depression. She writes of the silence that comes before God's answer. We find that gardening in spring is an act of faith. We realize hunger is a sign of being an image bearer.

This is a delightful book full of thoughtful insights into life, the liturgical year, and family, surrounded by the framework of moving into a new home. Reading the book is a gentle reminder that, as we rush through life, we could pause to recognize life and see God in all things. Where ever we may be, Purifoy suggests, “...surely God is in this place.”

I highly recommend this book as one that calms the soul and invites us to reconnect with God in the ordinary experiences of everyday life.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Christie Purifoy has been a regular contributor to a number of online sites and has contributed essays to numerous other websites. She has a PhD in English Literature from the University of Chicago and has taught literature and composition to undergraduates at the University of Chicago, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and the University of North Florida. In 2012, she traded the university classroom for a farmhouse and five acres in southeastern Pennsylvania. She is always watching for the beauty, mystery, and wonder and writes about it at

Revell, 208 pages.

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

Friday, February 26, 2016

Jaded Love by Jody Holford and Kara Leigh Miller

About the book:
Kristy has recently moved to New York where she works for the FDA. She reviews files with the aim of approving or denying products and additives. Her life is in danger as she begins receiving threatening notes. Someone doesn't want her thwarting their plans to make big money in pharmaceuticals.

Jackson is a police detective who is on leave from his high pressure job. He is trying to work his way through feelings of guilt and incompetence after having shot and killed an innocent man. He'd been set up to make the kill and had only done what he'd been trained to do. Nonetheless, he still struggled with returning to his job.

Kristy and Jackson meet and they both feel sparks right away. Jackson has a compelling desire to protect Kristy from harm. Their relationship hits roadblocks as they both try to work through their past trauma.

My review:
Kristy's character was a bit puzzling to me. She had been kidnapped in a previous novel and her behavior reflects that experience. She wouldn't sit with her back to people in a crowded restaurant, for example. Yet she was more than willing to walk the streets of New York after work in the dark without fear. She also thwarts Jackson's attempts to keep her safe which seemed out of character for one so traumatized. She has a stubborn streak but lacks the wisdom that should go along with it. I was conflicted about Kristy, not sure I liked her.

I was also puzzled by an action near the end of the book. The police show up in the nick of time at the location where they are needed. One of the detectives says about those they are trying to find, “...I know exactly where they're going.” I wanted to know how he knew that but we are never told. It just seemed like a little piece of the plot was missing.

This is a romance centering around healing from past hurts and moving on. Faith in God is an important element of the novel although some of the characters struggle with it. There is not very much suspense, just a little at the end. I recommend this novel to those who like a straight forward romance.

This is the second in the Mending Heart series and, while this novel will stand alone, I think one would appreciate it better if the first one, Dangerous Love, was read before this one. There is enough back story provided here but much of Kristy's character and behavior in this novel finds its roots in the first one.

I am taking part in a blog tour of this book and for more stops of the tour click here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Jody Holford lives in British Columbia with her family. You can find out more about her at
Kara Leigh Miller lives in Upstate New York with her husband, three kids, three dogs, and three cats. When she's not busy writing romance novels, she's spending time with her family or attending one of her many writers groups. An active member of The Romance Writers of America and the CNY Writers Haven, Kara is also Managing Editor for Anaiah Press' Surge and Romance Imprints. You can find out more at

Ananiah Press, 223 pages.

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

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Overload by Joyce Meyer

This book is another great one from Meyer. It is filled with biblical wisdom and practical suggestions. Even if stress is not a major issue you face, this book has so much good material it is well worth reading.

Meyer shares her own experience and the transformation that unfolded when she began to make God-directed daily decisions. She includes what she has learned about God's promises, His instruction, and suggestions for steps to take.

I like Meyer's take on the subject because she was stubborn and refused to slow down. When her doctor told her she needed to make some changes, she argued that she was just busy. But she realized her stress was also affecting her spiritual life. She was being robbed of God's best for her life.

Meyer includes practical suggestions on topics from budgeting time to eating well. She writes about our prayer life and changing our perspective in worship. She recognizes that we cannot control our situation but we can control how we face it and respond to it. She emphasizes the choices we can make in our attitude and what we focus on. She gives other suggestions, such as laughing more, changing our perspective and the words we speak. And that is just some of what she covers.

Some of her suggestions surprised me. Who would have thought serving and blessing others would be a cure for stress?

Her book is so encouraging. “No matter what the circumstances may say,” she writes, “God is by your side, and He is going to see you through.” (160) A summary of Things to Remember is listed at the end of each chapter to help us remember the main points.

Whether you are battling stress or not, this is a good book to read. Meyer makes such an emphasis of putting God first and trusting Him with our life, the book is a spiritual challenge for each of us.

Food for thought: “Don't stress out. God is in control.”

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Joyce Meyer is one of the world's leading practical Bible teachers. She has a daily broadcast and has written more than one hundred inspirational books. She travels extensively, holding conferences around the world. You can find out more at

Faith Words, 256 pages.

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

Monday, February 22, 2016

Messed Up Men of the Bible by Tina Samples & Dave Samples

Messed up men – you can't avoid them. But you can learn “how to join God in His mission of transforming your man to fit into God's perfect plan and place.” (12)

The Samples share stories of messed up men in the Bible to show how God chose them to use for His great purposes and achievements. They help you see the God given potential in the men and the role women played in their lives.

Peter was doubleminded. Nebuchadnezzar basked in his success and fell into pride. Saul was a control freak and Moses had an angry temperament. Job had a sick soul and Elijah suffered from depression. Solomon had trouble with spiritual leadership and David failed to be a good father. Samson could not control his lust and Gideon had problems with fear.

I really liked how the Samples presented their material. Each one writes a section so we have insights from the woman's viewpoint and the man's. Tina provides some very practical suggestions. I really liked the ones she gave for when a woman realizes she is living with a controlling man. I also liked Tina's comments about her relationship with her messed up father. There are good insights from Dave about men and spiritual leadership. I found the comments from his viewpoint to be very encouraging, especially when a woman must wait for God to do His work.

I think just about every woman will find her messed up man somewhere in this book. Every man is messed up (just like we women are messed up too). The Samples do not guarantee that your man will change. Only God has the power to change behavior. But you will find encouragement and insight to understand your role in the transformation process.

The authors have added a section at the end of each chapter called “moving Beyond the Mess” with questions for personal or group use. These questions would be great to discuss with a trusted friend.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Tina Samples is a full-time pastor's wife and a registered music therapist. She works on staff with her husband and has led worship for over a decade. You can find out more at
Dave Samples is pastor of Grace River Church and has led many churches and church-related organizations. He has been a regular contributor to a national blog for the Southern Baptist Convention and maintains his own blog at

Kregel Publications, 215 pages.

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

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Beautifully Prepared by Monica Schaefer

Eve was given a high purpose and calling but she believed a lie and became a slave to it. Jesus came to set us free from that bondage. True beauty arises through the perfect love of Jesus and this book calls us to experience that love through a transformative relationship with Him.

Schaefer shares how the lie is introduced to us, resulting in our feeling unlovable, shamed, and other negative emotions. She shares how, even after she became a Christian, the lies continued to invade. She tried to perform her way to acceptance by God but finally came to the point of resting, choosing to trust God in faith. She takes us through her encounters with the love and goodness of God and the transformation of her heart.

Each short reading can be used as a devotional. Illustrations by Julie Headland have been added to stimulate us to think about the accompanying text.

This is a good book for women who feel discouraged because they are not living up to what the world tells them is beautiful. The lie is revealed and the true source of beauty uncovered.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Monica Schaefer became the youngest sitting circuit court judge in Tampa, Florida, at age thirty-six. She later began a missionary career in Israel, where she met her husband. Today she enjoys the treasures and adventures of raising a daughter in New York City. You can find out more at
Julie Headland is a New England based fine artist. She works in the studio of her antique farmhouse in Weston, Connecticut, where she lives with her husband and four children. You can find out more at

Clovercroft Publishing, 96 pages.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through The Book Club Network for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Come to the Garden by Jennifer Wilder Morgan

Morgan has created a novel as a way to share her personal experiences and those she witnessed or heard about while she was a lay minister. She has had profound encounters with the Divine during her life and was looking for a way to help others experience the same kind of godly love she knows. In a dream she heard the Lord tell her to use an angel. She began exploring creating a fictional angel and spiritual encounters. Morgan's garden became the place where Margaret, her coffee drinking guardian angel, would help Jenn, Morgan's character, understand the spiritual experiences she has had.

Morgan has created a fascinating novel. Margaret meets with Jenn several times and the two explore the dreams and experiences and reveal their spiritual import. There are several meaningful messages that come through the story. One is that God knows us intimately and gives us gifts accordingly. Another is that God speaks. We must learn to hear, to listen, to obey, and to discern what He is saying. We are reminded of the reality of the spiritual realm and that angels are constantly by us.

A book like this begs to be evaluated theologically. Margaret and Jenn talk about many spiritual concepts. Morgan has been very careful to provide Scripture, especially at the back of the book, to give the biblical foundation for their discussions. There was only one area that made me a little uncomfortable, that of our existence before birth. Morgan uses Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you...” I think she goes beyond the general understanding of that verse when the angel says, “Every single person who has walked this earth began their journey in heaven, and each of you has been lovingly and joyfully bounced on your Father's knee.” Children retain their memories of heaven for a short time during childhood, she says. The angel also comments that the music humans create is an attempt to recreate the music our souls have already experienced in heaven and remember.

Other than that, I found the novel to be grounded in biblical truth. Reading it has given me a desire to pay better attention to what God is doing in my life. Margaret says, “People all over the world, every day, experience Divine encounters in many different ways. Some recognize the truth of these encounters and give wonderful testimonies, but a great many more do not. Their experiences are discounted as conscience, coincidence, intuition, or imagination.”

I do recommend this book to those who want to be challenged to better understand the role of angels in their lives and how God communicates to us. Just remember this is a novel and is one person's thoughts on spiritual experiences as related to Scripture.

You can find out more and order group study materials at

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Jennifer Wilder Morgan was raised in Ohio and has a bachelor's from Kent State University in speech pathology and audiology. She and her husband moved to Houston where she served as a lay minister for the Spiritual Care Department at the Methodist Hospital. She is active in The Woodlands United Methodist Church. You can find out more at

Howard Books, 240 pages.

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

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Secret to Hummingbird Cake by Celeste Fletcher McHale

This novel is a good exploration of the importance of lifelong friendship. I really liked it. But I have to say that there is good news and bad news about the book.

The good news is that this book is wonderfully written and is captivating. I don't think I have read of a friendship between women written in such a wonderful way. Carrigan, Ella Rae, and Laine are crazy wonderful women. Their personalities are revealed very well and their actions are always entertaining. I loved that part of the novel.

But there is also bad news. This novel takes place in a small town in Louisiana and people in the south express their Christianity differently than in the Pacific Northwest where I live. There is frequent mild swearing in this novel. There is infidelity in a marriage and the general attitude is, “These things happen. Honey, you gotta get a hold of yourself.” There is no concern about the sin of the action nor asking for God's forgiveness. Also, when things get really tough, when the women need strength to persevere, there is no relying on God for strength. There is no faith that carries them through. Their “Christianity” is something for Sunday and wearing hats to church but has little or no meaning the rest of the week.

So, the good news is that this is a well written and captivating novel about a life long friendship between three southern women. The bad news is that while at least some of the women think of themselves as Christians (“I'll see you in heaven.”), there is really nothing fundamentally “Christian” about the book. The words and actions of the women, especially Carrigan, our narrator, do not reflect a saving faith.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Celeste Fletcher McHale lives on her family farm in central Louisiana. You can find out more at

Thomas Nelson Publishers, 304 pages.

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

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Your New Money Mindset by Brad Hewitt and James Moline

Can we have a godly mindset about money when our society is so inundated with materialism? Our attitude toward money is important and revealing, the authors remind us. The Bible has more to say about money than any other topic. Jesus said more about money than any thing else.

The authors have written this book to help us determine our money mindset. Money is a tool God has given us and and we need to understand our every day actions and attitudes toward it. The two authors provide great insight from their own training and experience. One is the CEO of a Fortune 500 organization and knows math and money. The other is a licensed psychologist and understands behavior and belief.

I really like this book because it gets to the bottom of our attitude toward money – our heart. The emphasis of this book is remaking the heart. That is essential to remaking our habits toward money. The process begins with an assessment and the authors have provided the link for one online. They help us understand five money mindsets.

This book is challenging. The authors emphasize generosity, grounded in God's grace toward us. They cover many aspects of our money mindset, like our longing for security, our longing for more, and for success. They write about what it means to live in community and to live with contentment.

You won't find any budgets in this book. You won't find out how to get rich. What you will find is a call to have a heart attitude toward money, possessions, and lifestyle that reflect biblical concepts. You will be asked to re-calibrate your thinking about money. And you can do this in community because there are great questions included to be used in a setting of trusted friends.

I highly recommend this book. You'll be challenged. You'll be invited to have a new money mindset of generosity, to recognize that you have enough for yourself and enough to share. (31)

Find out more about the book at
I'm taking part in a blog tour of this book and you can read other reviews here.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Brad Hewitt is president and CEO of Thrivent Financial, a not-for-profit Fortune 500 organization dedicated to helping Christians be wise with money and live generously. He speaks regularly on how a redefined relationship with money can help us find and live out our call in life. He and his wife live in Minnesota.
James Moline, PhD, is a licensed psychologist who also hold a master's degree in theology. His lifelong passion for ministering to the homeless has taken him around the globe. He and his family live in Minnesota.

Tyndale House Publishers, 272 pages. You can purchase a copy here.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Litfuse for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Kissed by a Cowboy by Debra Clopton

While this is the third in the A Four of Hearts Ranch Romance series, it reads very well on its own. This novel centers on Cassidy Starr. She's just returned to Wishing Springs, Texas, divorced and humiliated. She's determined to take the rundown farm she inherited from her great aunt, restore the organic strawberry farm and turn it into a B & B. She is in no mood to contemplate any relationship, least of all with Jarrod Monahan who runs the ranch next to hers. They've got a history and Cassidy still remembers the pain.

This is a delightful romance. I really like how the Monahan family functions. We know from previous novels in this series that the father of the family had run the farm into deep debt, something the boys found out when the parents were killed in an accident. The sons were determined to pay off the debts and keep the ranch. That also meant caring for their grandfather, in a battle with increasing dementia.

This romance is pretty straight forward. There is no complex plot nor surprising twists. I always like to learn something when I read a novel and this time there was a bit little about organic gardening. So I recommend this Christian romance to those who like an uncomplicated story about a stubborn woman and a persistent man who is after her.

You can read my review of Betting on Hope and Counting on a Cowboy, the earlier books in this series.

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

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Debra Clopton is a multi-award winning author of more than 22 novels. Along with writing, she helps her husband teach the youth at their local Cowboy Church. You can find out more at

Thomas Nelson, 320 pages. You can buy a copy here.

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

Shattered Memories by Debbie Lynne Costello

About the Book
The Charleston earthquake has left destruction like nothing Doctor Andrew Warwick has ever seen. On a desperate mission to find the lady who owns his heart, he frantically searches through the rubble. He finds her injured and lifeless. After she regains consciousness, the doctor’s hopes are quickly dashed as he realizes she doesn’t remember him. Things only get worse when he discovers she believes she’s still engaged to the abusive scoundrel, Lloyd Pratt. Now Drew is on a race with the wedding clock to either help her remember or win her heart again before she marries the wrong man.

Waking in a makeshift hospital, Olivia Macqueen finds herself recovering from a head injury. With amnesia stealing a year of her memories, she has trouble discerning between lies and truth. When her memories start returning in bits and pieces, she must keep up the charade of amnesia until she can find out the truth behind the embezzlement of her family’s business while evading the danger lurking around her.

My review:
I thoroughly enjoyed this historical novel. I can tell Costello did her research as this novel provides readers with a full sensory experience of being in an earthquake. I had no idea those in Charleston had suffered so in the 1886 disaster.

Woven around the historical framework is a unique love story. With Olivia's amnesia causing her to not remember their courtship, Drew is in a very difficult situation. He tries to protect her from the scoundrel she thinks she's still engaged to but it seems like everything he does is questioned by Olivia.

In addition to good historical information and a unique romance is a good amount of action and suspense. There are some nefarious individuals about and Olivia's life is soon in danger.

I always like to learn a little something when I read fiction and in this novel, in addition to the earthquake, I learned a bit about what doctors were doing at the time. It was the era when bleeding was being questioned and other treatments were being promoted.

I recommend this novel to those who enjoy a good historical novel that contains a strong message about trusting God for the future, has a good romance, and includes action and suspense.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

About the Author
Debbie Lynne Costello is the author of the #1 Amazon bestseller Sword of Forgiveness, a medieval romance. She has enjoyed writing stories since she was eight years old. She raised her family and then embarked on her own career of writing the stories that had been begging to be told. She and her husband have four children and live in upstate South Carolina where she has worked in many capacities in her church and is currently the Children’s Director. When not spending time with her husband, four children and grandchildren she hangs out with her Arabian and Tennessee Walking horses. You can find out more at

Shattered Memories is a 265 page novel in the Christian Historical genre and was released on February 14, 2016. You can purchase the book here.

I am taking part in a Blog Tour and you can read other reviews:

Feb 15: Quiet Quilter Feb 16: Daysong Reflections Feb 18: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS Feb 18: Simpleharvestreads Feb 19: Rhonda’s Doings Feb 19: Buwurmzzz Feb 20: A Greater Yes Feb 21: 100 Page Per Hour Feb 22: The Editor’s Note Feb 22: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations Feb 23: The Christian Bookaholic Feb 24: Blossoms and Blessings Feb 24: Cassandra M’s Place Feb 25: Bigreadersite Feb 26: Singing Librarian Books Feb 27: cherylbbookblog Feb 28: Texas Book-aholic Feb 28: Mary Hake Feb 29: Raining Butterfly Kisses

I received a complimentary egalley of this book through Celebrate Lit for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Body Under the Bridge by Paul McCusker

This novel did not grab me at the beginning but by the time I was half way through I couldn't put it down. It is a captivating journey through the fields of British mystery strewn with the boulders of spiritual warfare.

Father Gilbert is a former Scotland Yard Detective, having left the force to be able to deal with evil in a better way. When a mummified body is found in a boggy area, he is called in to help. The uncovering of that body also begins the uncovering of a complex history of animosity and spiritual deception. At the center of the swirling spiritual forces is the Woodrich Set, a sword, a medallion, and a ring that symbolize powers no human should endeavor to encounter.

This novel does get off to a slow and possibly confusing start. There is a mystery involving many people from the past and I was a little bogged down with all of it. Father Gilbert uncovers information even as contemporary deaths begin to happen. It is a good plodding British mystery but I think its true strength lies elsewhere.

This novel is more about spiritual warfare and similar spiritual concepts than anything else. The battle Father Gilbert finds himself immersed in is between real good and real evil. Gilbert himself experiences visions, dreams, and a sense of evil that play into the warfare.

There are many spiritual issues brought up in the novel that beg thought and discussion. There is the question of predestination and/or the influence of ancestors on their descendants. Is one really locked in to being a certain kind of being?

Another issue is the possibility of spiritual power in physical objects. I learned the history behind locked covers on baptismal fonts and the reason the Catholic Church locked up the consecrated bread and wine. Referencing the men who died when they touched the Ark of the Covenant as it was being returned, McCusker explores the power of God in things and the possibility of evil mimicking that power.

I highly recommend this novel to those who like a good mystery permeated with paranormal manifestations. It's all from a strong Christian spiritual viewpoint and is a good reminder of the real battle of good and evil that takes place around us. This leads to a warning. McCusker is a creative author at describing spiritual warfare and clearly describes scenes such as demonic facial transformations. That may be disturbing to some readers. Be prepared to stare evil in the face, so to speak, when you read this novel.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Paul McCusker is Creative Director at Focus on the Family. He is an award winning novelist and dramatist, having sold more than a million books and twenty million audio drama. He is also heard on the Adventures in Odyssey radio series. He lives in Colorado. You can find out more at

Lion Fiction, distributed in the U. S. by Kregel, 320 pages.

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

Monday, February 15, 2016

An Insider's Guide to Praying for the World by Brian C. Stiller

Prayer is an essential aspect of our Christian life. We'd like to pray for the nations but sometimes we just lack the right information.

Stiller has provided us with a prayer guide for many nations. There are a limited number of nations included in this book as he lists only those he has visited. While the collection is limited, the information included is interesting as he gives his own personal stories and reflections.

For each nation, Stiller has included a list of surrounding countries so the nation can be located. He then gives a brief history of the country. He adds a personal story and Scripture. He suggests several items for prayer and includes a written prayer.

In addition to nations, Stiller has also included some topics, such as caring for the vulnerable, prison ministry, the ministry of World Vision, the World Prayer Movement, and more.

I found the personal stories to be interesting. I am not sure, however, how essential they are to praying well for a country. I learned some interesting facts about countries, such as Indonesia being the largest Muslim country in the world. I found that Thailand has a king who has served since 1946 and that it was never colonized nor ruled by a Western power. Reading about the role of Belgium in the distinguishing the Hutu and Tutsi was enlightening.

This is probably the most interesting prayer guide I have ever read. The personal aspect was interesting but overall I felt the book was limited in its scope. There are many places in the world desperately needing prayer that are left out of this collection. I would suggest this book could be used as a devotional for a year, using a chapter a week. It would help one get in the habit of praying for nations. One could then move on to a more comprehensive world prayer guide.

You can read an excerpt here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Brian C. Stiller (D.Min.) is the Global Ambassador of the World Evangelical Alliance, which serves 600 million evangelical Christians. He travels extensively, fulfilling various ministry functions. He and his wife live in Newmarket, Ontario. You can find out more at

Bethany House Publishers, 288 pages.

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