Monday, October 31, 2016

66 Ways God Loves You by Jennifer Rothschild

Rothschild knows the Bible as a love letter from God. She wants us to know it that way too. She has written this book to help us experience God's love in each of the 66 books of the Bible.

I really like the lessons she gleans from each book. Exodus reminds us God has set us free from the slavery of sin, insecurity, fear, and despair. We see from Leviticus that God lovingly provides protective boundaries for us. Judges reveals how God faithfully shows mercy to us in spite of our repeated failures. From Zechariah, we have the assurance that no matter how crazy the world gets, Jesus is coming.

Perhaps what I like best about this book is Rothschild's honesty. From Job we learn that God does not always save us from suffering but He sustains us through it. Similarly, from Daniel we see that God does not always deliver us from the fire but will not let us be alone as we go through it. From Obadiah, “God isn't ignoring injustice just because He is allowing it. Justice will be done.” (102) And from 2 Thessalonians, “His love still lets us suffer...” (167)

Rothschild knows what she writes about. She used to read the Bible as a youth. But a retinal disease caused her blindness at age 15. Now she listens to it and is still convinced it reveals the love of God.

This is a great book of encouragement for someone who feels discouraged or that they've disappointed God. They will see the generous love of God over and over as they walk through the Bible with Rothschild.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Jennifer Rothschild has written nine books and Bible studies. She has appeared on several national television talk shows and has spoken for Women of Faith and Extraordinary Women. She is the founder of Fresh Grounded Faith conferences and She lost her sight at 15 and regularly travels and speaks around the country, sharing her story and all God has done in her life. She is a wife and mom and lives in Missouri. You can connect with her online at

Thomas Nelson, 207 pages.

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

The Name I Call Myself by Beth Moran

This is a thoroughly enjoyable novel about a woman finding herself, friends, and true love.

Faith is engaged to the wealthy Perry, a man she met while working at a high class country club. She appreciated the man, well, really his money. Money she needed to care for her mentally unstable older brother, her only family after their mother was murdered. Faith knew she didn't really love Perry, but she could do this for her brother, couldn't she?

Faith begins a truly life changing experience when she and her friend go to a church Faith wants to have her wedding in. There is a choir practice going on and Hester, the choir director with hair like a helmet, assumes they are there to join the choir.

This is a choir like none other. Hester wants the best from her women and that means bonding experiences and times of self revelation and growth. Some of the times were hilarious while others were full of tears. It was amazing to see how these women found their personal strengths and formed strong and supportive friendships.

The characters in the novel were very well crafted. Choir director Hester was like a general but she loved those women in her choir and watched them grow. What a woman. On the other hand was Faith's soon to be mother-in-law. What a snooty and condescending brat. I felt like slapping her so many times.

Those fine aspects of the novel are wrapped up in themes of love. Faith had tremendous love for her brother. She learned to love the women in the choir and help them in their journeys to personal power. And they were right beside her in her journey too. And then there is romantic love. Just perhaps, perhaps Faith will find out what that is before it is too late.

I highly recommend this novel to those who enjoy one about women coming into their own, forming strong bonds, and finding their personal strengths. It would be a great book for a woman's reading group as there are many themes to discuss and a good set of questions are included. Be sure to have a box of tissues handy as you near the end. Finding out what real love is can be a little tearful.

You can read my review of Moran's earlier novel, Making Marion, here.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Beth Moran lives in Nottingham with her husband and their three children. She helps lead a national women's network, Free Range Chicks. You can find out more at

Lion Hudson, distributed in the U.S. by Kregel, 351 pages.

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

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Biblical Authority After Babel by Kevin J. Vanhoozer

Some say the Reformation “loosed interpretive anarchy upon the world.” The priesthood of every believer means lay individuals interpret Scripture just as theologians do. Is that a good idea? How do Christians judge when interpretations differ?

Vanhoozer contends that retrieving the five Reformation solas will help address the issue of interpretive pluralism. They “provide a pattern for reading Scripture theologically that enables Protestant unanimity on theological essentials...”

He begins with grace. To misunderstand grace means we'll go wrong everywhere else. In exploring faith, he investigates the Spirit's work in the believer and the principle of authority. He continues by looking at Scripture along in the context of the other solas and tradition. He explores the meaning of Christ alone and ends with the concept of all to God's glory alone.

Vanhoozer concludes that the answer to the variety of biblical interpretations is not found in a supreme church authority. Rather, he has given a framework within which Protestant churches can negotiate interpretive disagreements and even benefit from them. This can lead to a peaceful unity-in-diversity experience.

I really like his positive attitude about denominations. Just like there are four gospels to give a fuller picture of Christ on earth, perhaps there are various Protestant traditions to witness to Jesus in a variety of ways. No one Protestant church exhausts the richness of the gospel.

I recommend this book to those interested in ecumenism or promoting community among Protestant churches. It would be a good book for city pastor groups to read and discuss. It's also a good book for anyone wanting to review their practices of biblical interpretation.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Kevin J. Vanhoozer is research professor of systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He previously taught at Wheaton College and the University of Edinburgh. He is the author of several books.

Brazos Press, 288 pages.

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

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The End of Protestantism by Peter J. Leithart

Leithart dreams of unity in Christianity. He wants Protestants to pursue internal reforms that would bring churches more in line with Scripture and Christian tradition. He calls this new ecclesiology Reformational Catholicism.

He has arranged his book in four parts. In the first section he lays out his vision. Next he looks at denominational Christianity in the U.S. and identifies the faults. Next he shows how God is remapping the global church. His final section includes guidelines to theologians, pastors, and lay Christians who want to work on this idea.

Here is a little of what he says the future church will look like. “Everyone will accept the whole of the tradition, East and West and beyond, past and present, as a treasure entrusted by the Spirit to the church.” (443/4456) Creeds and catechisms of the Reformation and the Catholic church will be used but with the understanding that they may be distorted. “They will leave every creed and confession open to correction by the Word of God.” (460/4456) Mary will be honored and the saints will be celebrated. “Protestant churches will have to become more catholic, and Catholic and Orthodox churches will have to become more biblical.” (615/4456)

Leithart writes that in disputed doctrinal areas, “Protestants should operate on one overriding principle: Scripture is the final source for and judge of theological controversy.” (2911/4456) Correctly framed, he says, that principle can be agreeable to Catholics. My question is who will determine what Scripture says? I think every denomination would say they now consider Scripture their final source. He also suggests a “renewed appreciation for pre-Reformation modes of reading and interpreting Scripture.” (2954/4456) He suggests reviving the medieval Quadriga method, something that led to wild speculations about the meaning of Bible passages.

This dream and the means to arrive at it seems very unworkable to me. To accept all traditions fails to realize that some traditions might just be ungodly and non-Biblical. But then, who would make that evaluation? Leithart does say there would be controversies and struggles in the future. 

I found Leithart's writing style difficult to follow. I felt he was asking Protestants to give up much more than Catholics. I also felt that the importance of salvation by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ was somewhat ignored. Unity in Christianity is an admirable dream, but at what cost to those who need to know the truth of salvation?

There is some good information toward the end of the book, helping pastors and lay people get a vision for unity in their own community. Rather than ironing out doctrinal differences, this unity is more on the level of working together in the community.

You can read an excerpt and watch videos by Leithart at

My rating: 3/5 stars.

Peter J. Leithart is President of Theopolis Institute and an adjunct Senior Fellow of Theology at New St, Andrews College, Moscow, Idaho. He is ordained in the Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches.

Brazos Press, 240 pages.

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

Friday, October 28, 2016

Tell Me Everything by Jason C. Helveston

This is the most interesting and unusual memoir I have read – in a good way. Helveston has woven vignettes from his own life with stories from the Bible and the gospel.

What a great idea. His concept is that Jesus tells us His story through our own story. Yes, we can learn spiritual truths through the disciplines but we also need to be paying attention to our own lives.

Helveston doesn't like that some think being a Christian is just following Jesus' version of moral living. Being a Christian is being in the story. It is a journey with Jesus filled with gospel grace.

We might think it is all about us. “But,” Helveston writes, “if life is a story … then every life is covered in the fingerprints of Jesus, and he is the one true hero.” (122)

The author's hope is that reading this book will help us see things differently and become different. We will see ourselves as part of the story. Like the two disciples on the way to Emmaus, Jesus finds us on the journey and tells us everything. We can then tell the story to others.

I recommend this book to those who are interested in leaving a legacy by sharing their story. This book is a good example of how to write your story in such a way that readers will see the fingerprints of Jesus all over your life.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Jason C. Helveston grew up the son of a Baptist preacher and a nurse from Mississippi but has lived most of his life in the Bay Area. He has a BA in English from the University of Redlands and an MDiv from Denver Seminary. He serves as Teaching and Campus Pastor at Park Community Church. He lives in Chicago with his family. You can find out more at

Elk Lake Publishing, 170 pages.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through The Book Club Network. My comments are an independent and honest review.

The Lafayette Sword by Eric Giacometti and Jacque Ravenne GIVEAWAY

Enter the GIVEAWAY at the end of this post.
This is probably the most interesting mystery I've read in ages. It is a gold mine of information on Freemasonry and alchemy. All of the information is woven carefully into the plot so that it reads very well.

The novel originates in France where much of the action happens. Two murders occur at a Freemason meeting. One of the brothers, Marcus, is a policeman. He happened to discover both bodies and feels responsible to bring the killer to justice.

It becomes apparent (to readers) that gold is an essential aspect of the plot. That brings in alchemy. The novel's narrative includes following a story about alchemy from the 1300s. The novel alternates between the present and the past and we eventually see a connection that spans the centuries.

Marcus follows the trail of secret symbols that will lead him to the murderer. He encounters danger on the way as he uncovers cryptic sayings, ancient conspiracies, and desperate people.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It is well crafted. The structure of the novel, interweaving the contemporary story with the one from medieval times, really worked well. The stories were written in a way that kept my interest in both of them, even before I knew of their connection.

What I liked best about the novel was all the information it contained on Freemasonry. The facts were included in dialog in such a way that the narrative entertained as well as informed. And the translation from the French is wonderful.

I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy novels about conspiracies and secret societies, all wrapped up in a thrilling plot. Note: there is a torture scene in the medieval story that is a bit gruesome but realistic, I am sure.

You can read an excerpt here.

I am taking part in a blog tour of this book. Click here to view the 'The Lafayette Sword by Eric Giacometti, Jacques Ravenne, Anne Trager' Tour Participants.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Jacque Ravenne is a literary scholar who has also written a biography of the Marquis de Sade and edited his letters. He loves to explore the hidden side of major historical events. He is a high level French Freemason.
Eric Giacometti was an investigative reporter for a major French newspaper. He has covered a number of high-profile scandals and has done exhaustive research in the area of freemasonry.
Translator Anne Trager has a passion for crime fiction that equals her love of France. After years of working in translation, publishing and communications, she founded Le French Book. You can find out more at Le French Book:

Book Details:
Genre: Thriller
Published by: Le French Book
Publication Date: August 15, 2015
Number of Pages: 266
ISBN: 1943998043 (ISBN13: 9781943998043)
Series: Antoine Marcas Freemason Thriller Book 2
You can purchase a copy at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes and add it to your GoodReads list.

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Eric Giacometti, Jacque Ravenne, and Anne Trager. There will be 5 US winners of one (1) ebook copy of The Lafayette Sword by Eric Giacometti, Jacque Ravenne, Anne Trager. The giveaway begins on October 22nd and runs through December 4th, 2016.

Click on this link a Rafflecopter giveaway to enter the giveaway.

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

I received a complimentary egalley of this book through Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Another Day Another Dali by Sandra Orchard

I enjoy reading these novels about Serena Jones, FBI agent specializing in art theft crimes. The characters are what make the books enjoyable to me.

Serena has lots of baggage trailing her around. She feels responsible for her grandfather's murder years ago. If she hadn't asked to stay overnight, he would not have been home when the thieves broke in. Serena investigates art theft with intensity, perhaps trying to please her grandmother and assuage her own conscience.

My favorite character in this novel is Aunt Martha. She is an elderly woman with an attitude. She's ready to go undercover in a moment. Sometimes she can be an interfering biddy but at other times is the help Serena desperately needs.

Orchard has crafted an enjoyable novel that includes suspense, some humor, a hint of romance, a tug at family heart strings, and a decent mystery. It's what I might call a “light” mystery. I recommend it to those who appreciate an easy reading mystery with enough clues to keep your mind busy throughout.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Sandra Orchard is the award-winning author of several romantic suspense and mystery novels. She has won five Canadian Christian Writing Awards and a Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award, received a HOLT Medallion Award of Merit, a National Readers' Choice Award, and a Daphne du Maurier Award. She lives in Ontario, Canada. You can find out more at

Revell, 352 pages.

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

Monday, October 24, 2016

Has Anyone Ever Seen God? by Carolyn Larsen

This is a small book that can be given to someone who is searching for answers about God and the Bible. Larsen has accumulated 101 questions frequently asked by those investigating Christianity and has given short answers. Topics covered include what God is like, how He interacts with people, creation, the Bible and some of what it teaches.

The answers provided are very simple. Just by the nature of the book, small and compact, each question gets one page, a few paragraphs. That is not very much information when entire books have been written on some of the questions included. Also, there is no intellectual rigor evident, that is, no footnotes nor verification of statements included. Probably most disappointing to me was that there was no information to help a reader investigate an interesting topic further, such as suggested books to read.

That being said, I was impressed with the style of the answers. Larsen is honest in admitting not knowing an answer. Such was the case with the classic question, if God is powerful enough to stop evil from happening, why doesn't He? When Christians disagree on an answer, she has given both sides. Such is the case with the question of whether God changes His mind.

On occasion, the answers are just not adequate. Such is the case with the question, “Why does God allow people to suffer?” Many books have been written trying to answer this question to readers' satisfaction. I can't imagine a non-Christian reading the answer given here and at all being satisfied with it.

This book is for a person with almost no knowledge of Christianity and the Bible. Larsen answers basic questions such as the definition of a testament and what chapter and verse references are.

If this book is given as a gift to someone, I recommend the giver stay close at hand. A reader truly investigating Christianity will want to know much more than what is included in this book. The book might be a springboard to more intense discussions so, before you give the book to someone, be sure you are willing to study the questions further.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

Carolyn Larsen is the author of more than forty books that help draw readers closer to God.
Amylee Weeks has a whimsical art style that reflects her faith and love for God.

Tyndale Momentum, 112 pages.

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

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Star Struck by Dr. David Bradstreet and Steve Rabey

Scripture tells us that the heavens declare the glory of God. We Christians can have a better sense of the greatness of God, Bradstreet says, if we know more about the universe we live in. He has written this book to help Christians understand what science has to say about how the universe began and what is happening in it now.

This is an introductory book on cosmology and astronomy. It is written for the science novice and is very easy to understand. I read a few science magazines regularly and found that I was familiar with almost everything covered in the book.

Readers are taken through the history of science discovery as it relates to astronomy. Other topics covered include the “just right” condition of the earth, the planets of the solar system, studying the Bible and science, balancing science and faith, the age of the earth, and the quest for extraterrestrial life.

Bradstreet is a theistic creationist and believes the “God hypothesis” remains the best explanation for the existence of all that is. He believes God daily sustains the cosmos through natural processes.

This book would be a good introduction for those who have never studied astronomy. Christians should not be afraid of science nor hesitant to study it, Bradstreet says. This book might help readers develop a passion for science as well as have a greater understanding of the greatness of God.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Davis Bradstreet is an award-sinning professor, author and astronomer. He has been teaching at Eastern University since 1976. He serves as professor and chair of the Astronomy and Physics Department, and as director of the David H. Bradstreet Observatory and Julia Fowler Planetarium.
Steve Rabey is the award-winning aruthor of more than forty books. He has taught at Denver and Fuller Seminaries and the U.S. Air Force Academy. He lives in Colorado.

Zondervan, 320 pages.

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

Saturday, October 22, 2016

IQ by Joe Ide

This novel took me to an uncomfortable place – the inner city LA world of gangs, drugs and a super star rapper. The most uncomfortable aspect of the novel was the filthy language. I am sure it is accurate to the way people communicate in this part of society but it is about as far from my comfort zone as possible.

Isaiah Quintabe is the hero. He is a well crafted character. He's got enough street smarts to outwit any amateur and most professional thieves. He's got a high IQ (the intelligence kind). Even though he never finished high school he understands human character and can figure out how to set wrongs right. He had a hard youth, his older brother dying when Isaiah was still a youth. He spent years stealing to support himself but now older, he uses his wits to help others when in trouble.

The plot is good, taking us to the dangerous characters inhabiting the underworld. Violence is an everyday occurrence and there is a good bit of it in this novel. The structure of the novel combines vignettes of Isaiah's youth intermixed with the contemporary story. It was a good way to help us understand Isaiah.

This novel would be a good choice for those who like a character driven mystery novel and are not bothered by lots of filthy language and casual sex.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Joe Ide grew up in South Central Los Angeles. The idea that a person could face the world and vanquish his enemies with just his intelligence fascinated him. This is his debut novel. He lives in Santa Monica,California.

Mulholland Books, 336 pages.

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

Friday, October 21, 2016

Made Well by Jenny Simmons

Perhaps you've prayed for healing. Maybe you have waited for God to do something flashy, something unusual. God is quietly at work behind the scenes, Simmons says. “Healing happens when we entrust ourselves to God's care and become aware of the miraculous ways He is at work in our midst, binding the wounds.” (32)

Simmons shares her own experiences of how God has healed her in a variety of ways. She is very honest in her need for healing, such as the anxiety she experienced for years. She tells stories of God healing others, too.

We can receive several lessons from Simmons' book. First, “Write the memories down.” (150) These stories form the history of your healing process. They can be shared with others time and time again. Second, healing might very well come in unexpected ways. Therefore, “...we have to be willing to hold on to our plans loosely and follow unexpected paths.” (151) And that leads to another lesson: healing takes time and effort. “If it is your intention to be made well, you must put in the hard work of healing...” (161)

Reading this book will give you a very good sense of all that your healing might entail. Simmons has included stories that range from serendipitous events to the experience of intense counseling and therapy. I came away knowing how important it is that I pay attention to all of daily life, seeing how God is working every day. That includes paying attention to painful moments and even those moments when I really don't understand what is going on.

I recommend this book to career age or younger who want to be able to see how God might be working in their own lives and the lives of others.

You can find out more about the book and watch the book trailer at

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Jenny Simmons is a sought after musician and speaker. She has a devoted followers of her blog at She was the lead singer of the band Addison Road. She traveled the country, performing alongside her husband, for over a decade. They live in Nashville, Tennessee and have one daughter.

Baker Books, 208 pages.

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

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Judas Game by Ethan Cross GIVEAWAY

Enter the GIVEAWAY at the end of this post.
When a correctional officer climbs his watchtower and opens fire, federal investigator Marcus Williams and serial killer Francis Ackerman Jr. must join forces again to unearth the truth behind the incident. A serial killer is using the prison as his hunting ground. But the Judas Killer's ambitions don't end with a few murders. He wants to go down in history.

Ackerman is undercover among the inmates and Marcus tracks down the mastermind on the outside. The more they learn about what's happening in the prison, the more enemies they must face, including an inmate with no identity and known only as Demon. How does he fit into the Judas Killer's plans?

My Review:
This book was tough going for me. I have not read the earlier books in the series and I felt lost at the beginning of this one. There was not enough back story included in the early part of this novel to get me up to speed quickly. Because of that, I would suggest you read the earlier three books before reading this one.

A second reason this book was tough reading for me is because it is very descriptive of gruesome scenes. It was a bit much. One character is demon possessed and we get to see what he sees. There is lots of violence too and the scenes are graphically described.

This is a long novel made so by two aspects of it. Cross is often detailed in his descriptions. I remember him describing where a light switch was and why that was a bad place and that it should have been changed when the building was remodeled for its present use. And, of course, there are frequently detailed descriptions of scenes, often gruesome.

Another aspect of the lengthy novel is the ruminations of the characters. This is a novel for people who like to get into the mind of a serial killer. There is much about how it makes him feel to kill and to do it with torture.

I found one aspect of the novel very interesting. Part of the plot involves a new prison system. It is a private one and the thought is that the convicts can be rehabilitated. There is an interesting discussion about evil in the narrative. Marcus, the government agent and brother to a horrible serial murderer, comments, “I believe in evil. I just don't believe that people are evil. I think that men carry out evil deeds because they've been corrupted in one way or another, by lots of unseen forces. Things they had no control over.” The discussion is important because the prison facility where some of the action takes place is trying to bring the convicts to their good origin before something tainted them. Whether man is born good or already tainted would make for good discussion, as would the idea of rehabilitating serial murderers.

The book is rather well written. The character development is great, especially the graphically portrayed serial murderer helping the Department of Justice in this situation. The detailed plot is full of surprises.

Readers who enjoy a very complex plot with intense character development and lots of gruesome scenes will enjoy this novel. Sensitive readers may find it a bit too much, as I did. And do be sure to read the previous novels as there is not enough information in this one to really understand the history of the major characters and how that affects their current work.

You can read an excerpt here.

I am taking part in a blog tour of this book. Click here to view the 'The Judas Game by Ethan Cross' Tour Participants.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

Ethan Cross is the award winning international bestselling author of The Shepherd, The Prophet, The Cage, Callsign, Knight, Father of Fear, and Blind Justice. In addition to writing and working in the publishing industry, he has also served as the Chief Technology Officer for a national franchise, recorded albums and opened for national recording artists. He has been an active and involved member of the International Thriller Writers organization and Novelists Inc. He lives and writes in Illinois with his wife and their three children. You can find out more at his website, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Book Details
Genre: Suspense
Published by: The Story Plant
Publications Date: October 2016
Number of pages: 400
ISBN: 1611882346 (ISBN13: 9781611882346)
Series: Shepherd #4
You can buy your copy of The Judas Game by Ethan Cross at Amazon or Barnes & Noble and add it to your list on GoodReads.

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for the Story Plant and Ethan Cross. There will be 1 winner of one (1) @25 Giftcard AND there will be several winners of one (1) eBook copy of The Shepherd by Ethan Cross. The giveaway begins on September 29th and runs through December 5th, 2016.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Kingdom Prayer by Tony Evans

I have found that books on prayer generally fall into one of two categories. Some books emphasize the sovereignty of God and understand prayer as a means of intimate relationship with God and a stimulus for character transformation and growth. Other books emphasize prayer as a means to get things to happen. This book falls into the latter category.

Evans defines prayer as “the divinely authorized methodology to access heavenly authority for earthly intervention.” It is the “established mechanism to advance God's kingdom agenda on earth by accessing His authority in heaven and drawing it down.” “It is bringing into the physical what God has predetermined in the spiritual” “Prayer is the mechanism God has decreed for Him to release what He intends.”

I have found that books emphasizing prayer as a “mechanism” to get things to happen on earth must somehow deal with the sovereignty of God. Evans writes, “While God retains absolute sovereign authority and ownership, He has delegated relative authority to humanity within the sphere of influence that each person has been placed.” He suggests the example of the bank owning our house while we are responsible for the upkeep. But that example falls flat. Do we call the bank before we mow our lawn or fix a broken window? If not, then why would we need to be in touch with God?

Evans does make some good points. We often find prayer difficult because it takes us out of the realm of our five senses and into the spiritual. We are talking to someone we cannot see and who does not speak back to us audibly. He notes that humility is one of the key ingredients to effective prayer. So are faith, authority, surrender, obedience, and trust. Evans also makes sure readers do understand that they must check in with God first before they make a move. “Prayer is a tool to access God on the front end of the situations of your life.” He also warns against selfish motives and suggests we give consideration to how God will be glorified.

Evans' goal in writing the book, he says, is to confront readers with the power and authority available in prayer and to motivate them to use it. He wants readers to know what their spiritual rights are. Of believers, he writes, “And you are free to persistently remind Him through prayer of what is rightfully yours under His rule.”

If you believe your prayers control whether God can act, you will like this book. Prayer is mostly seen as a mechanism and a tool to get God to act. If you would rather read a book that emphasizes the interpersonal love relationship between God and man that happens with prayer, you will have to look elsewhere.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

Tony Evans is a pastor, bestselling author, and frequent speaker at Bible conferences and seminars. He has served as senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship for nearly four decades. He serves as president of The Urban Alternative, has a daily radio broadcast, and has written over 50 books.

Moody Press, 240 pages.

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

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Guarded by Christ by Heather Holleman

Holleman was reading Psalm 97:10 and wondered what it meant that God guards the hearts of His faithful ones. She decided to find out.

I appreciate Holleman's emphasis on God guarding us on the inside (as opposed to physical safety). Christ dwells in our inner being by the Holy Spirit and imparts all the characteristics of God's guarding presence to our soul. This reality made her want to learn a different way to be, to live from her inner being.

Her emphasis is on what is happening in the soul (not the spirit). That is where we run our lives and that is where Jesus dwells, she writes. This teaching is new to me as I always considered Jesus in me was a spiritual connection, that He dwelt in the spirit part of me, not the soul. I am not clear if Holleman considers the soul/spirit to be one aspect of our humanity or not.

Holleman knows that we humans tend to forget so she developed a method to remember the guarding. She pictured a towering medieval fortress to help her recall the truth. A catapult (confidence) and window (hope) reminded her of more truth. A moat represented the peace from the guarding presence of the Spirit. Some may question the use of imagery but David had the same idea when he spoke of God as his rock of refuge to which he could always go. (Ps. 71:3)

In addition to the memory technique ideas, Holleman has included great biblical teaching on the aspects of being guarded. I really liked her thoughts on living the crucified life in the power of the Holy Spirit. She has added questions at the end of each chapter for further thought and discussion.

This book is worth serious reading and intense thought. Holleman has a morning routine of proclaiming the truth that she was dwelling in Christ's peace, meditating on Scriptures and picturing the fortress. She found more peace and was no longer ruled by her anxious mind. Shifting her attention to her inner being where Jesus dwells helped her to have a good foundation for choices and living in general.

Food for thought: “We are dwelling in Him, and nothing can touch our souls in that most marvelous secret place.”

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Heather Holleman has a PhD in English Literature from the University of Michigan. She teaches college writing at Penn State. She serves on the staff of Cru and is taking seminary classes in the summers. She is married and has two daughters. You can find out more about her at

Moody Press, 192 pages.

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

Monday, October 17, 2016

From Depths We Rise by Sarah Rodriguez

This is memoir is one where I wondered how much more Rodriguez could endure and remain faithful to Christ. It is an amazing story of tragedy and miracle.

Rodriguez had tried to get pregnant with no success. She found she had a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome. She and her husband tried fertility drugs. Nothing. Then surgery. Nothing. Fertility specialists. Still nothing.

One day her husband had blood in his urine. He had kidney cancer. Surgery and treatment found him declared cancer clear. They had an IVF pregnancy resulting in twins. One miscarried but the other was born – a boy.

But then the cancer returned to her husband. Chemo treatment, then surgery, and then he had a stroke while in rehab. He never recovered and died.

Rodriguez had a choice to make. She decided to have the remaining eggs implanted. A baby girl was born but soon suffered from meningitis. Scans showed brain damage and the baby girl neared death. And then something surprising happened.

This is an amazing memoir. It is a true testimony to trusting God in the midst of tragedy. Rodriguez writes in a way that captured my interest to the very end. She is very honest with her feelings as she kept a grasp on her faith. Hers is an encouraging story and I highly recommend it.

You can watch the book trailer here.

You can find out more about the book and the author at

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Sarah Rodriguez is an author, speaker and blogger. She is the creator of the Choose Joy Project to honor her late husband. She lives in Oklahoma with her son and daughter.

Shiloh Run Press, 256 pages.

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

Sunday, October 16, 2016

A Life for a Life by Lynda McDaniel GIVEAWAY

Enter the Giveaway at the end of this post.
This is the most satisfying mystery I have read in ages. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The characters are the strongest aspect of this novel and they are delightful. Della Kinkaid bought a small grocery store in rural Applachia, making a new life for herself. She'd been a high profile reporter in Washington, D.C. but had had enough of the pressure and danger. When the body of a young woman is found in the woods, Della revives her reporter instincts and will not let the murder go unsolved.

My favorite character by far, and I am sure by design, is Abit. He's a fifteen year old special needs (although they don't call it that in Appalachia) young man. Son of the previous store owners, he has his chair at the front of the store. He's a sweet fellow and Della treasures him dearly.

As good as the characters are, the construction of the novel is great too. The narrative alternates between Della and Abit, between the voice of an educated reporter and that of a country guy who hasn't made it beyond fifth grade. That way of developing the story went exceptionally well.

I highly recommend this novel to those who enjoy well crafted characters and a captivating plot. There is plenty of local color and great descriptions. I could just picture some of those Appalachian men and women. The mystery is a good one too. Thank goodness for Della as the incompetent sheriff would have never solved the case. And keep the tissues handy as the end of the novel will tug at your heart. This is the first novel I've read by McDaniel and I'll be looking for more.

I am taking part in a blog tour of this book. Click here to view the 'A Life for a Life by Lynda McDaniel' Tour Participants.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Lynda McDaniel has written fifteen books and more than 1,200 articles for major magazines. She is also a writing coach who enthusiastically helps others express their creativity and write with confidence. She lies in Sebastopol, California, with her family. You can find out more at Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Book Details
Genre: Mystery
Published by :Lynda McDaniel Books
Publication Date: 09/20/2016.
Number of Pages: 337
ISBN: 9780997780802
Series: This is the first book in a new series.
Purchase at Amazon or add it to your GoodReads list.

Don't Miss the GIVEAWAY!
This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Lynda McDaniel. There will be 5 winners of one (1) ebook copy of a Life for a Life by Lynda McDaniel. The giveaway begins September 29th and runs through December 3rd, 2016.

Click on this Link a Rafflecopter giveaway to enter the giveaway.

Get more great reads at Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. My comments are an independent and honest review.