Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Farewell Discourse and Final Prayer of Jesus by D A Carson

Carson is a scholar and often writes for ministers or students. This commentary on Jesus' farewell discourse and final prayer as recorded in John 14-17 is designed to be available to the church in general. This book is a reprint edition of the original from 2008.

There were comments on several topics in the book that I really appreciated. Carson explores what it means that Christ “emptied himself” as noted in Phil. 2:5-11. He compares that to Jesus doing the Father's work and that he is the fullness of deity in Godly form. (Col. 2:9) Carson concludes that Jesus abandoned any use of his divine prerogatives and capabilities that he would not have had as a mere man unless the Father directed him to use them. He also writes about Jesus hiding his own glory and showing the glory of the Father in his words and deeds. (Loc 596/3637) That explains why the disciples did not realize they had been seeing the Father.

Another one was Jesus as “friend.” We sing hymns about Jesus being our friend. But Carson notes, while Jesus calls the disciples his friends, Jesus is not said to be their friend. (Loc 1760/3637) Carson warns of a chummy view of friendship and advises we preserve “the fundamental distinction between Jesus and those he redeems.” (Loc 1782/3637) He also reminds us that being a friend of Jesus is all about obedience. Carson goes on to explore the difference between friend and slave.

There was a very good explanation of what it means that believers would do “greater” works than Jesus. (John 14:12) Another good section was on Jesus' prayer for the unity of his followers.

Carson goes through this section of Scripture with careful attention to detail. The result of a very readable commentary that is full of insights I really appreciated. While Carson does write about the Greek from time to time, it is done in a way so that laypeople can easily understand. I recommend this book to Christians in general as it contains a scholarly and well thought out exploration of the Bible passages with the lay person in mind.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Donald A. Carson is the research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School at Deerfield, Illinois, and the author or editor of more than fifty books. He is one of the founders of The Gospel Coalition and an active guest lecturer in academic and church settings around the world.

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

Monday, January 29, 2018

I Will Not Fear by Melba Patillo Beals

I cannot imagine what it must have been like to be a African American female teen growing up in the 1950s in Little Rock, Arkansas. Beals was one of the nine students chosen by the NAACP to attend the all white Central High School in 1957. It was a federally mandated integration that the whites violently opposed.

The account of Beals' experiences is heartbreaking. She repeatedly shares how she relied on God's strength to endure the threats, name calling, and other mistreatment. In so many cases there was no humans to help and only her faith in God sustained her. She writes of the inspiration from her grandmother, reminding her to keep her focus on what this would mean to future generations of African Americans, Asians, and Mexicans.

Because the governor had a private all white school built and closed all the public schools in Little Rock, the NCAAP found a family to sponsor Beals in California. She was amazed at her acceptance in the schools there. She writes of how she went on to marry, divorce, finish her schooling, and enter a broadcasting career and later being a professor.

Even in her adult life, Beals had repeated times of having to rely on her faith in God for her safety and that of her children. She is one tough woman. As she pursued her education and career, she still experienced discrimination - even as an older woman trying to rent or buy a home.

I recommend this book to those who desire to understand the personal experiences of one of the Little Rock Nine. It is an encouraging account of trusting God and relying on faith in disturbing times.

You can read an excerpt here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Melba Patillo Beals is a recipient of this country's highest honor, the Congressional Gold Medal, for her role, as a fifteen-year-old, in the integration of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. A retired university professor with a doctorate in International Multicultural Education, she is a former KQED television broadcaster, NBC television news reporter, ABC radio talk show host, and writer for various magazines. Her Warriors Don't Cry has been in print for more than twenty years, has sold more than one million copies, and was the winner of the American Library Association Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, and the American Booksellers' Association Award. She lives in San Francisco and is the mother of three adult children.

Revell, 208 pages.

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

Saturday, January 27, 2018

A Force So Swift by Kevin Peraino

China is viewed today as a political and financial threat to the United States. How that came to be, after China had been an ally of the United States, is documented in this book. Peraino takes readers through the aftermath of World War II with the conflict between Mao and Chiang and the American attitude towards it.

Even though Madam Chiang had come to Washington D.C. to press the case for her husband, she could not convince Truman to support the Nationalist government in China. Mao rose in power, eventually forcing Chiang to retreat to Taiwan. Mao decided to align himself with the Soviets and the future of China was cast.

I was surprised at the White Paper Acheson crafted and Truman approved. It placed all the blame on Chiang's leadership. Even though the U.S. had waited and watched and then neglected to be involved in China's civil war, it was not to blame for the fall of the country to communist rule, the document declared. There were some who disagreed, such as Congressmen Judd and Lodge. They attempted to fund financial aid to help keep communists from taking over Southeast Asia. Though the amendment was defeated, “the initiative had set in motion a series of events that would profoundly alter American life – a first step into the morass of Southeast Asia's wars.” (189)

I recommend this book to readers who would like to understand the changes that took place in Asia after World War II and in particular the events of 1949.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Kevin Peraino is a veteran foreign correspondent, was a writer and bureau chief at Newsweek for a decade, a finalist for the Livingston Award for foreign reporting, and was part of a team that won a National Magazine Award in 2004. He has written for several publications.

Crown, 400 pages.

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

Friday, January 26, 2018

Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris with Jeff Warren and Caryle Adler.

I've read about the benefits of meditation. I even halfheartedly tried doing it. I was always a little leery because of the Buddhist association and the idea of emptying my mind just did not sit well with me. I knew I could never sit still for an hour either. I guess I was a fidgety skeptic.

Harris clarifies a few misconceptions right away. It doesn't have to include the Buddhist flavor nor did I have to empty my mind nor did I have to sit on the floor cross legged nor did I have to meditate for a long period to see benefits. Harris describes this meditation as focusing the mind rather than emptying it. There are a variety of mindful meditation techniques described in the book and many of them are just a few minutes long. One can increase the time as skills increase. I was disappointed that Jeff, Harris's meditation guru, did bring up Buddhist ideas from time to time. Books on Buddhism are listed in the resources list.

What I liked most about this book is the variety of meditation techniques offered. Harris realizes meditation is not a one size fits all. For an outdoor nature lover like me there are walking meditations. There are very short meditations one can do while waiting in line at the grocery store. I can develop a sort of relaxed enjoyment of life at any place and any time, experiencing mindfulness.

I also liked the way Harris describes mindfulness. It's being able to see what is happening in my head at any moment. Rather than being carried away by anger, I can recognize the emotion and begin to investigate why it is there and what I can do with it. And that is a big reward of mindful meditation. I don't have to be held captive by my intense emotions. I can also become aware of habits that I was previously unaware of.

What I didn't like about the book was Harris's folksy story telling way of presenting the material. I feel like I know him and the people around him much better than I wanted to. I understand his technique of introducing readers to meditation practices through the experiences they had on the bus tour. I just got really tired of it.

I do recommend this book to people who know there are benefits to being mindful and meditation but just thought they would never be able to do it. You'll find good techniques for a variety of ways to meditate. You'll learn much about Harris too, especially his own struggles with meditation as a reality check.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Dan Harris is an Emmy Award-winning journalist and the co-anchor of ABC's Nightline and the weekend editions of Good Morning America.
Jeff Warren is an award-winning writer, meditation instructor, and founder of the Consciousness Explorers Club.
Carlye Adler is an award-winning journalist and co-author of many books.

Spiegel & Grau, 304 pages.

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

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Immortal Writers by Jill Bowers

I really like the unique plot of this novel. When an author's words stretch beyond the page, when their words are etched into the fabric of reality, the writer becomes immortal. That's what happened to Liz, a young award winning fantasy writer. She thought she was being kidnapped but she was just being taken to the castle where Shakespeare, Poe, Austen, Tolkien and scores of other authors were in residence. She meets many of the brave characters she created in her novels. They have come over to this world. But so has the nemesis she created. Liz is the only one who can keep him from his goal of taking over the world.

Besides being a rather well written novel with good character development and lots of action, there are many issues explored in it. Liz had designed the evil character after her own dark side. She designed another character to be the loving mother Liz never had. I wonder how many authors craft their characters after parts of themselves or others they know well. Another issue that features in the plot is child sexual abuse. The experiences Liz had when young have profound effects on her now.

I liked the fact that Liz had to face the characters she had created and the attributes she had given them. Shakespeare makes the observation, “Many authors get along with their characters; many do not. Some people find that they do not like their minds as much as they thought they did.” (Loc 871/4871)

Though not a Christian novel, there are religious overtones in it. There is the idea of forgiveness and that of sacrificing a life for the lives of others. Liz struggles with wanting to know where God was when she was being so horribly mistreated as a child.

I recommend this novel to fantasy lovers. You'll have some good battles with dragons and magic and special powers. I also recommend this novel to readers who enjoy an interesting and thought provoking plot.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Jill Bowers is a technical writer by day and a fantasy author by night. She is one of to composers-in-residence for the Westminster Bell Choir. She has written for and hosted an award winning radio show and has dabbled in stage play writing. She lives in Utah. You can find out more at

Blue Moon Publishers, 302 pages.

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

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Whispers in the Graveyard by Max Elliot Anderson

This story is aimed at boys around 10-12 years old. The characters are a group of boys about that old who have an exciting adventure that begins by them seeing something mysterious happening in a grave yard when it's dark. By design and by accident, the boys get deeply involved in a mystery that involves bad guys and a drug smuggling ring.

This story takes place in Chicago and there are some interesting scenes of the boys on the train, at the zoo, and having other adventures in the city. There is some humor in the book as some dumb jokes are told. These jokes deal with death and dying and I felt a little uncomfortable with them. That aspect of this book may make it not appropriate for a young person who has recently lost a loved one or was otherwise confronted with death. There is, on the other hand, some serious discussion about death, such as it is only the shell of the person in the casket. There is just a mention or two of Christian ideas, perhaps enough to cause a reader to ask questions about the soul and salvation.

There are lots of adventure in this novel for young readers. Parents may want to evaluate the topics addressed in the book when considering it for their children.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Max Elliot Anderson grew up as a reluctant reader. As an adult, he writes books with a view to helping young people make good moral decisions. You can find out more at

TBCN, Inc., 128 pages.

I received a complimentary ebook of this novel through TBCN. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Troubles at Timber Ski Lodge by Max Elliot Anderson

I enjoyed this adventure for young readers. It would make a great winter read as the action takes place at a ski lodge just after a big snow storm hits. Eric's family has taken over the lodge from his grandpa. They have had a couple of poor seasons and it looks like they may have to close down. When the village gets word of a stolen shipment of gold and thieves who may be coming their way, Eric and his friend are right in the middle of the suspense.

Although Eric is twelve years old, I would suggest this book to younger readers, perhaps eight to ten years old. The writing style is suitable for lower elementary grade readers. There are several good lessons in this novel. One is relationships between siblings. Another is recognizing when another boy might be acting out because of his home situation. When Eric understood why a boy had been a bully, he was quick to include him in future fun times.

I recommend this book to young readers who would like an exciting adventure with stolen gold, mean thieves, an avalanche, and more. While it is part of a series, it is a good stand alone story.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Max Elliot Anderson grew up as a reluctant reader. As an adult, he writes books with a view to helping young people make good moral decisions. You can find out more at

The Book Club Network, 136 pages.

I received a complimentary ebook of this novel through TBCN. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Mending Broken Branches by Elizabeth Oates

Growing up in a dysfunctional family is common. Learning how to live an emotionally healthy life now may not be so common. Oates desires that readers would be able to grieve the past, be equipped to deal with the present, and be encouraged to build a healthy future.

The section I appreciated most in this book was that dealing with the past. She helps us understand how our memories shape our identity and our view of God. She helped me identify triggers from the past and baggage I am lugging along. She has teaching and questions for reflection to help us uproot the patterns of dysfunction. She writes about good coping skills, boundaries, conflict management, forgiveness, and much more.

One of Oates's passions is marriage. Much of the content of the teaching on the present and the future deal with marriage and family relationships. As an unmarried woman, I found that focus rather narrow and would have liked broader teachings in those areas. I did like how she handled submission in marriage. She suggests one's husband enter into the discussion if he is willing. I also liked her section on communication, learning ways to communicate other than one's family used.

I do recommend this book to wives who desire to understand the influence of their birth family and build a healthy marriage relationship and family. You'll be asked to answer lots of questions with plenty of space in the book to record answers.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Elizabeth Oates is cofounder and vice president of Project Restoration Ministry. She and her husband are raising their children in Waco, Texas, where she blogs and mentors women who've experienced brokenness in their family tree. You can find out more at

Kregel Publications, 240 pages.

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

Sunday, January 21, 2018

5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn't Quit by Nicki Koziarz

Koziarz was a quitter. She would promise more than she could deliver. She shares here many of her experiences as she gleaned lessons from the biblical book of Ruth and learned to stop quitting.

I did not find anything phenomenally new in this book. But there were some insights from Koziarz that I really appreciate. She suggests that adversity allows us to know ourselves in a new way. It is also an opportunity to allow God to show Himself in a new way. That is something I'll think about the next time it gets tough and I want to quit.

God worked slowly in Koziarz. We shouldn't expect any sudden and amazing change to be able to continue on rather than quit. The habits that she writes about might take a lifetime to incorporate.

Perhaps the hardest part of not quitting is not acting based on our feelings. Koziarz encourages us to stick to our commitments, regardless of our feelings. I couldn't help but wonder if sometimes our feelings might be spiritual in nature, telling us that we should quit what we've gotten ourselves into. That was something Koziarz did not address.

I recommend this book to readers who love to have teaching surrounded with lots of author stories. There are a few questions at the end of each chapter to help cement the ideas taught. I think this book would be best read with a good friend or in a trusted group. Having someone else along to help work through the concepts would be a good idea. Koziarz has also included Scripture to help readers confess positive promises in their journey.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Nicki Koziarz is a wife and mother. She and her husband purchased a fixer-upper farm where life is an adventure. She is on staff with Proverbs 31 Ministries.

B&H Publishing, 224 pages.

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

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Trumpocalypse by Paul McGuire and Troy Anderson

I read this book as part of my ongoing quest to understand the 2016 U.S. presidential election. This book deals with the possible prophetic significance of the Trump presidency. The authors look at a number of predictions, from Nostradamus (who the authors admit used occult methods, Loc 826/5959) to contemporary Christian pastors and prophetic teachers.

It's been a long time since I've read a book highlighting conspiracy theories. I had devoured them as a teen, having been a sophomore when President Kennedy was assassinated. Over the decades, I had forgotten about the Illuminati and other groups accused of running the world. Reading this book brought it all back. I was reminded of supposed secret concentration camps in the U.S., subtle mind control, a CERN conspiracy, and much more.

The authors write, “...we believe the evidence is overwhelming that an occult network has infiltrated the highest levels of government, business, religion, and academia to create a global government, cashless society, and universal religion.” (Loc 1653/5959) They also quote Kiyosaki, a co-author with Trump, as claiming the Illuminati “are revealed to have total and complete control over all the mainstream media of the modern world, all the information, all the food, all the money, most of the world's military forces...” (Loc 1648/5959) And, “The wealthy corporate elite rule the world through their vast fortunes...” (Loc 1679/5959)

We believe God has raised up Trump to fight the globalist elites and their plan to unleash the New World Order on humanity,” the authors write. (Loc 405/5959) They write of how people see Trump as brave, compassionate, wise, and that he has spurred a revolution for Christians to stand up for their rights. Many Christians, the authors claim, believe God has anointed Trump to release the prophetic role of America. (Loc 3847/5959)

I felt the authors were indiscriminate is their sources, quoting some people that I would not recommend at all. While there are many footnotes, statements are made without providing verification. When writing about Jews returning to the land, for example, “In fact, numerous Old Testament prophets predicted that the Jews would return to the land in unbelief and not necessarily in obedience to law.” (Loc 4010/5959) No footnote or other verification is provided. The authors also intimidate readers who might disagree with them. For example, writing about Trump being willing to stand for a sovereign America and that he is under assault from elite globalists, “Most born-again Christians who renew their minds regularly with the Word of God and seek God through prayer can see this quite clearly.” (Loc 4027/5959)

I recommend this book to readers who want to understand the thinking of those who voted for Trump. You'll find good insights into the hatred toward the media and the existing U.S. political realm. You'll be introduced to a number of conspiracy theories about powerful people secretly running the world. You'll also find that many Christians voted for Trump because they firmly believed “Trump was the man God had raised up for this particular hour.” (Loc 2280/5959)

My rating: 3/5 stars

Paul McGuire is an internationally recognized Bible prophecy expert and regular commentator on Fox News, CNN, and the History Channel. He is the host of the GOD TV prophecy television show, Apocalypse and the End Times. He is an eschatology professor and speaks at various Bible prophecy conferences. He lives in the Los Angeles area.
Troy Anderson is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated investigative journalist, bestselling co-author along with Paul McGuire of The Babylon Code, former executive editor of Charisma magazine and Charisma Media, and a regular guest on numerous television and radio shows. He lives in Irvine, California.

FaithWords, 368 pages.

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

Friday, January 19, 2018

Memory Rescue by Daniel G Amen MD

Memory problems for older people are a big problem. While no medication has been found to come to the rescue, there is much we can do to improve our memory and even prevent some forms of dementia. Amen lays out the risk factors and what we can do to reduce or eliminate them.

Amen writes, “...your brain does not have to deteriorate. With a little forethought, you can slow or even reverse the aging process in the brain.” (82) He gives tons of information on the factors that affect brain health. He writes about the food we eat. He advises us to stop complaining. “It rewires your brain to see the negative far too often.” (176) Another suggestion is to journal feelings. My favorite of his suggestions is to always be learning. And then there are all the toxins and minerals to consider.

I was feeling overwhelmed with all the information contained in the book when I came to the final chapters. Amen does a great job of reviewing the major points. He also has a very good chapter with information condensed for readers to develop their own plan.

Amen encourages us to be brain warriors, people who work at restoring mental and brain health. There is a wealth of information in this book. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to grow old with a healthy brain and mind.

My rating: 4/5 stars

Daniel G. Amen, MD is a physician, board certified psychiatrist, bestselling author and popular speaker. He is the founder of Amen Clinics which have one of the highest published success rates treating complex psychiatric issues. He has written and produced shows about the brain on public television. He and his wife have four children and four grandchildren. You can find out more at and

Tyndale Momentum, 448 pages. 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Son of Promise by Caryl McAdoo Blog Tour

About the Book

Title: Son of Promise
Author: Caryl McAdoo
Genre: Woman’s Fiction

Be it known, your sins will find you out, but God’s mercy endureth forever!
Can a wife find the grace to forgive when her husband’s withheld the truth?
Travis Buckmeyer has a secret son, and the morning’s come to tell his sweet wife. He hates breaking Emma Lee’s heart. She promised him one ten years ago, but hasn’t been blessed to carry a baby to term. Every miscarriage made the telling harder, but now his clock’s run out. He’s going for his son, praying he won’t lose her.

Click here to purchase your copy!

My Review:

I really enjoyed this novel. It took me a while to get into the rhythm of the author's writing style, a sort of Texas twang, but I did and devoured the novel. The plot is unique. The characters are well presented. I love that there is a clear salvation experience and how a person is changed because of it. There are also themes of spiritual warfare, forgiveness and reconciliation. And there is a serious exploration of what it means to be family. There is a great deal packed into this novel and that kept me avidly reading. I was bothered a bit by the smoking. I know the novel takes place in the 1950s and smoking was common. I just never figured out the significance of it to the plot line and wondered why it was included in such detail.

This is a well crafted novel I highly recommend. It is informative, thought provoking, encouraging and entertaining.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

About the Author

Caryl McAdoo prays her story brings God glory, and a quick scroll through her novels’ rankings by Christian readers attests to the Father’s faithfulness. She loves writing almost as much as singing the new songs He gives her—look her up on YouTube to hear a few. Her high school sweetheart husband won her heart fifty-two years ago, and now they share four children and seventeen grandsugars. Ron and Caryl live in the woods south of Clarksville, seat of Red River County in far Northeast Texas, waiting expectantly for God to open the next door.

Guest Post from Caryl McAdoo

SON OF PROMISE—a companion story to my Texas Romance Family Saga’s book ten CHIEF OF SINNERS—features Travis and Emma Lee Buckmeyer, who readers first meet in CHIEF. She’s the sister of its heroine Sandy Harris, and he is a friend of its hero Buddy Nightingale; he’s also the son of Crockett Buckmeyer (from book eight COVERING LOVE) and grandson of Patrick Henry Buckmeyer (hero of book one VOW UNBROKEN).
A standalone, it isn’t necessary for readers to know all these ancestors to enjoy SON OF PROMISE, but those who do will surely love it all the more. What I know is that this couple won a chunk of my heart. Their faith is outstanding and their love inspiring. In the ’40s, Emma Lee didn’t have the fertility options young women do today, and miscarriage after miscarriage left her hurting. That’s why he hadn’t told her.
He didn’t want to hurt her, but circumstances had changed, and time was up. She had to be told that morning he already had a son born from a one night liaison thirteen years before because he was leaving to claim his Cody from a reform school and bring him home.
The boy had never known real love, but I loved him from the first. Forced to grow up way too fast—lying, stealing, and participating in most any other rebellious act—he’s missed so much. He’s overwhelmed with Travis and Emma Lee—their home, their partnership and love for each other, and their generosity toward him.
He planned to light out from the start, but days piled on top each other, and he never pulled the trigger.
In VOW UNBROKEN, there was an awesome canine named Blue Dog, and I went into his POV (Point Of View—got into his head) a couple of times. My Simon & Schuster editor ‘requested’ that I lose those segments, and so I did. But in this novel, I get into a canine’s head again . . . I’m hoping readers will find that fun.
In years past, I owned, managed, and milked a herd of eighty-plus dwarf goats and loved their Great Pyrenees guardians, so it was fun to include them in the story. I love how Emma Lee was able to sell her paintings for exorbitant prices, but remained so humble and unassuming. And that she and Travis opened their home (they’re so much like my husband and me) to total strangers. We’ve had so many people live with us over the years, to help them, be blessings—the hands and feet of God in the earth.
I pray my story gives God glory and that its readers will be drawn closer to Him through it. He blesses me and highly favors me daily. I can’t thank or praise Him enough!

Blog Stops

D’S QUILTS & BOOKSJanuary 18
Splashes of JoyJanuary 19
Karen Sue Hadley January 20
Maureen’s MusingsJanuary 20
Bibliophile ReviewsJanuary 21
Reading is My SuperPowerJanuary 22 (Interview)
A Greater YesJanuary 22
Texas Book-aholicJanuary 23
Baker kellaJanuary 24
Janices book reviewsJanuary 24
Jeanette’s ThoughtsJanuary 25
Quiet QuilterJanuary 26
Carpe DiemJanuary 26
C Jane ReadJanuary 27
Simple Harvest ReadsJanuary 28 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)
Pursuing StacieJanuary 28
Red Headed Book LadyJanuary 29
margaret kazmierczakJanuary 29
cherylbbookblogJanuary 30
BigreadersiteJanuary 30

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