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2.15.2018

They Were Single Too ~ Review

They Were Single Too
Eight Biblical Role Models
By David M. Hoffeditz

They Were Single Too is written to the single adult by examining the lives of eight different individuals in the Bible and their unique positions in a world and culture that expected them to be married. While the author originally wrote this book from a single state he has since married before this updated, revised edition was released. The author quite plainly states that this book is applicable for married believers too.

Of the eight people mentioned three were women and two of them (Ruth and Anna) are widows. So the only woman mentioned who is truly single is Martha. Of the men mentioned four are presumed single while Joseph later did marry.  Lessons are taken from each persons life with truths one can apply to one's own life.

There are times when the author seems to slight the single person for example on page 104 "Hence, while we may not want to admit it, commitment can be hard to find in some single adults." Commitment is not a given for those who are married as we sadly see with the number of divorces. I do agree that the church needs to offer more for those who haven't married as all too often the single adult gets lost in the rush to focus on children and families which isn't wrong but leaves the unmarried feeling as if they are a burden and a hidden shame to be hidden away.

This book is good if one wants to examine the lives of some who are unmarried at least for a portion of their story. This could be an excellent starting place for a new single's Bible study.

I was provided a review copy of this book by the publisher Kregel with no expectations of a positive review. 

About the Book:
Singleness is not a sin that needs to be redeemed. Yet for many single Christians, the way the church regards them often feels condemning. Living between these truths can be a painful, frustrating experience.

By examining eight individuals from Scripture who were single at some point in their adult lives--Paul, Anna, Martha, Jeremiah, Ruth, Joseph, Nehemiah, and John the Baptist--Hoffeditz guides readers through common struggles singles face, such as loneliness and disappointment.

Hoffeditz isn't offering a self-help guide, a twelve-step program to recovery, or philosophical musings. They Were Single Too spells out concrete steps for a healthy, God-approved attitude toward unmarried life and how one can truly serve God without a spouse. Brief chapters with questions for reflection allow for either individual or group study.

Long used as a resource for singles ministries, this revised edition updates the language of this timeless biblical study and makes it more attractive for today's reader.

The Lost Castle ~ Review

The Lost Castle
A Split-Time Romance #1
By Kristy Cambron

This is a story that is told on three fronts - the present day, World War II (1940s), and Revolutionary France (1780s).  And taking center stage is a castle - one known as The Sleeping Beauty. And this castle is what Ellie Carver is on a mission to find before it is too late. Her Grandmother Vi has sent her on a quest for a long-hidden piece of her past, one Ellie was unfamiliar with. With her Grandmother's mind slowly losing its battle to Alzheimer's Ellie's time is short.

But finding the secrets that The Sleeping Beauty is keeping may be more difficult than Ellie anticipated. First off there is a very protective and somewhat unfriendly Irish young man who is less than thrilled that Ellie has shown up in France on his family's doorstep. But Ellie won't take his word that she should move on as a plan of action and pleads her case further up the family line. Quinn's grandfather Titus confirms that Ellie's stay has his approval.

The portion of the 1940s story tells Vi's story - a story that Ellie is about to discover. A story of courage, war, and love. A hidden refuge that has made claim to the castle and it is here that Vi's hidden life, the part of her grandmother that she never knew existed.

The 1780s find France in the midst of political and class upheaval, and this is the world in which Aveline Sainte-Moreau must determine her future - a future that her father has decided for her - a future of nobility and self. A life in which she is expected to have no opinions and be a producer of heirs.

These three timelines progress weaving together a beautiful story one that is worthy of the cover that graces it. This is perfect for those who love both historical and contemporary fiction as it offers the best of both. The characters are ones that the reader can relate to and empathize with their unique and at time complex situations. This would make an excellent book club selection and as an added bonus there are discussion questions in the back of the book. This is an enjoyable read and a welcome escape at the end of a long day that is not to be missed.

I was provided a review copy of this book by the publisher through the BookLook blogger program with no expectation of a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.


About the Book:
Ellie Carver arrives at her grandmother’s bedside expecting to find her silently slipping away. Instead, the beloved woman begins speaking. Of a secret past and castle ruins forgotten by time. Of a hidden chapel that served as a rendezvous for the French Resistance in World War II. Of lost love and deep regret . . .
Each piece that unlocks the story seems to unlock part of Ellie too—where she came from and who she is becoming. But her grandmother is quickly disappearing into the shadows of Alzheimer’s and Ellie must act fast if she wants to uncover the truth of her family’s history. Drawn by the mystery surrounding The Sleeping Beauty—a castle so named for Charles Perrault’s beloved fairy tale—Ellie embarks on a journey to France’s Loire Valley in hopes that she can unearth its secrets before time silences them forever.
Bridging the past to the present in three time periods—the French Revolution, World War II, and present day—The Lost Castle is a story of loves won and lost, of battles waged in the hearts of men, and of an enchanted castle that stood witness to it all, inspiring a legacy of faith through the generations.

2.13.2018

When God Made Light ~ Review

When God Made Light
By Matthew Paul Turner
Illustrated by David Catrow

This is a delightful lyrical story that has a rhythm that will enchant the reader no matter what their age. For example, this line
"Light glared and glimmered, 
it flared and sparked, 
and wherever light shined, 
dark stopped being dark." 

How perfectly this describes how it must have been when God spoke light into existence. But light comes in more than one form and each should be celebrated whether it be the sun, the moon, fireflies, or the light within you. 

Then there are the illustrations - they say a picture is worth a thousand words - well that couldn't be truer than with this book. A couple of delightful children playing both in the house and outdoors with their dog and kitty. The colors are soothing and the transition from day to night goes from yellows to blues. 

A lovely book perfect for sharing with the little ones in your lap. Those who have read When God Made You will enjoy this newest offering from the same creative team.

I was provided a review copy of this book by the publisher with no expectations of a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Enjoy a short excerpt of this book by clicking here

From the author and illustrator of the best-selling When God Made You comes a new illuminating message about God's design affirming young readers.

'Let there be light!' that's what God said. And light began shining and then started to spread." Wild and creative illustrations from top children's illustrator David Catrow pair with Matthew Paul Turner's lyrical verse in this message of a God-made light that cuts through darkness to bring vision and hope to all young readers. This light radiates, chasing away the shadows, providing the wonder and fun of stargazing or firefly chasing. Most important, this light appears in each child--an inner God-given spark that grows and will be used to change the world.

2.12.2018

The Nephilim Virus ~ Review, Author Q/A and Giveaway

The Nephilim Virus
By John T. Prather

For 3 years he has been in a coma, one of four survivors of a plane crash that took nearly 140 lives. For 3 years humanity has been decimated by a virus. Waking from his coma Nick Reese is in for the surprise of his life. And his survival may be the key to humanity's survival.

An ancient evil has been awakened and it has been making its presence known ever since as an altering virus. Those infected have either lost their humanity becoming an animalistic horde that can't be stopped or super-humans that are intent on ruling the world as gods. The uninfected are outnumbered by those who have been turned into Anakim or Nephilim. And the method of infection is horrific - at least to Nick's eyes when he sees a surveillance video of the day everything changed.

But hope has not been lost and those with whom Nick finds himself have been surviving for the three years he has been absent for the wakened world. Doctor Faith Richards has been working - searching for a cure. Commander Al Harris is in charge of the security and survival of the group that has taken up residence in Mercy General. And these two are those Nick is about to place his trust in this battle to survive. What Nick never anticipated was having to face a David-and-Goliath situation.

This is a book for those who are fans of Speculative or Dystopian fiction. Using a few verses from the Old Testament John Prather has created a unique foundation for this story. Offspring of Fallen Angels have survived and are attempting to completely corrupt the world and turn it into their own. What follows is an intense page-turning read. One will literally keep the pages in motion as the story unfolds. The chapters are fairly short so it is easy to stop if the need arises. The flow is easy and the transition between character viewpoints is marked but not jarringly so.

This book is well-written and the reader is not left wondering "What happened with..." The conclusion is obvious and leaves the reader satisfied with the outcome. And if you are a dog person be on the lookout for one that has an important role to play throughout. I highly recommend this book.

I was provided a review copy of this book by the Adams Group with no expectation of a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.



About the Book:
Book Title: The Nephilim Virus
Genre: Fiction; Thrillers; Supernatural
Publisher: Deep River Books
Content Rating:
PG

Nick Reese wakes from a 3-year-coma to find the world he once knew is gone. An ancient virus has infected two-thirds of the world's population, turning humans into either incredibly intelligent super-humans or large and indestructible animalistic creatures.

For the survivors, there is no government, no antidote, and no safety. With the help of a beautiful hematologist named Faith and a man they call the Commander, Nick must survive long enough to discover the origin of the virus and learn how his blood could hold the key to a cure. But he has to do it while hunted by the infected. And failure means the extinction of the human race.

Q and A with John Prather
Author of “The Nephilim Virus”
Q: What inspired you to write “The Nephilim Virus”?
A: I always had this idea for a story where two-thirds of the world was infected with a blood disease, but I never knew how I was going to tell it. There are several obscure verses in Genesis 6 about the Nephilim, a race of beings created from the sons of god sleeping with the daughters of men and that passage always fascinated me. One day, I decided to put those two ideas together and tell a story where I got to imagine what the world would look like if that race of super-humans were still around.
I have been a writer and lover of stories ever since I was young. My grandfather was a wonderful storyteller and I used to listen to his stories over and over to learn the rhythm and pace and punch line of a good story. I had dozens of unfinished stories lying around, but I never sat down and made myself finish one. Then in 2013, I decided it was time I finished a manuscript. And I did. And it was bad. But it showed me I could finish one. Then I had the idea for The Nephilim Virus, so I started writing that in 2014 as a short story. I knew I had to get the idea out of my head or it wouldn’t leave me alone. As I kept writing, the story kept coming. Five months or so later, I had another finished manuscript. This one seemed publishable. Now, almost four years later, here we are.
Q: What do you hope readers will experience with this novel?
A: All the great themes, like redemption and sacrifice and love, of all the great stories are just tiny versions of the greatest story, God’s story. That is the reason a reader can feel them in his or her soul—regardless if the work is Christian or non-Christian. I want readers to connect to the greatest story by reading a book that has little glimpses of that story woven into it. The overall theme of the book is the idea that every human has been infected with a blood disease, but there is a cure. I want readers to be entertained while subconsciously connecting to the truth —sometimes in ways they might not even realize.
Q: In addition to being an author, you are also an actor and model. How does that affect your work as a writer?
A: Working in the entertainment industry allows me to continually learn about people. Being an actor is a great way for me to be in touch with my own emotions and internal motivations and also to see and feel my fellow performers’ emotions and motivations. Everyone has tics and mannerisms that are specific to them and I feel being aware of these individual characteristics helps me create strong characters for my stories. It has also helps me hone the art of storytelling to see how other artists tell their own stories, whether they are writers, photographers, actors, directors, or whatever.
Q: Why do you believe this novel will appeal to both Christians as well as non-Christians?
A: My all-time favorite author is C.S. Lewis and he said something that has always stuck with me. He said, “What we want is not more little books about Christianity, but more little books by Christians on other subjects—with their Christianity latent.” The novel will appeal to Christians who like stories that can be taken seriously by the world while still holding deeper truths. Sometimes “Christian” entertainment can avoid or sugar-coat real-life topics that people deal with every day. This novel is one a Christian could enjoy and pass on to their friends who might not read something blatantly Christian. The novel has no cussing or sex, but at the same time, it has death and villains and adventure. It shows the battle between good and evil without being offensive on one hand or preachy on the other. Non-Christians will enjoy the book because it reads like a movie or a Netflix series. It has short chapters and short sentences and lots of cliffhangers. The deeper truths are hidden just below the surface so a non-Christian could read it simply for its entertainment value and not realize the Christian themes, imagery, and symbolism right away. The Nephilim Virus doesn’t talk overtly about God, but you can see Him throughout the work, similar to the book of Esther in the Bible.
Q: How difficult is it to live your faith in the entertainment industry?
A: Being a Christian is the norm in the South. Everyone has a church, even if they never go to church. In the South, it costs you very little to be a Christian. But in Hollywood, it costs you a lot. Christians are the enemy out here. No one understands them. The good thing about that is that it cuts out the lukewarm Christians. Out here, if you aren’t deep with God, you will soon be done with Him because it costs too much. I’ve been to countries where faith costs much more than it ever will here, but it probably costs more to be a Christian in Hollywood than it does anywhere else in the United States. Being a follower of God in L.A. can get you ostracized, fired, friendless, and broke. For example, I literally got screamed at by a casting director because I turned down a role that I wasn’t comfortable doing. He screamed at me about how the role could make my career and how I was a moron and other unrepeatable things. And that was one of the more tame encounters I’ve had with someone who doesn’t understand my worldview.
Another difficulty of having faith in Hollywood is that, as an actor, you often don’t get to see the whole project for which you are auditioning. The small part of the script that they show you could be acceptable, but you don’t know what overall story they are telling. So you really have to trust God to keep you away from the wrong projects. The thing people outside of Hollywood don’t understand is the difficulty of the industry. Even someone who has no morals and no qualms about doing anything in any project has a one in a billion shot of making it. Being a Christian further narrows their odds by being an outcast who refuses to do something or represent something that is against their morals. I often think of Hollywood as America’s version of “the gates of hell” that Jesus talked about. Christians out here are the tip of the spear. They are in the hottest spot. They need lots of support. But that’s ok because Jesus promised the gates of hell would not prevail.

Q: Talk about why you and your wife decided to be foster parents.
A: My wife and I met on a mission trip in Brazil where we took a medical boat down the Amazon river. That is another story for another time, but one of the first things we connected on was our desire to build a family through adoption as well as biologically. We were both big believers in adoption. We also wanted to try to save a kid who wouldn’t have a great chance at life without us. We think adoption is a wonderful thing in all its forms, but we wanted to take a child from a situation where they had no hope of a family otherwise. We aren’t rich, and we don’t have a lot, but we do have a heart for children without a family. So we decided to adopt out of the California foster care system. We were very naive as to the difficulty of that process, but we started taking foster classes and getting certified two months after we got married. We planned on having our own children first and then coming back to adopt when the time was right. It is a very long story, but God had other plans. We ended up bringing a little foster boy into our home in order to adopt him. He was later given back to a family member. Giving up my son was the hardest thing I have ever had to do.
Two months later, we brought a little girl into our home. We brought her home from the hospital and she just became a one-year-old. We are currently in the process of trying to adopt her, and everything looks good so far, but things could change in an instant. It breaks my heart and scares me to death that a social worker could call tomorrow and say, “pack up your daughter, I’m coming to get her and you will never see her again.” The foster system is the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with in my entire life, and I hope that one day I will be in a position to help make changes in the system. Until then, I’m very open and write about our journey in my blog in hopes of helping other people and shedding light on the subject. God willing we will adopt our daughter shortly after our twins are born. Then, in a few more years, we will try to adopt another child from the system.
Q: As a sought-after model, you obviously keep yourself very fit. How do you believe your physical health impacts your spiritual well-being?
A: I believe the physical body and spiritual body are closely linked. As a Christian I believe that God himself lives inside the human body. God’s spirit should permeate every part of a person’s life, including the physical and mental aspects. The Bible says to love the Lord with all your heart and soul and strength —mind, soul, and body. I think sometimes Christians emphasize the mind and soul, but neglect the body. But God asks for all three. Your physical life is your spiritual life. You couldn’t say, “my mouth is eating donuts, but my body uses it like broccoli.” It doesn’t work that way. The outside begins on the inside.
In addition to the close link of your physical life and your spiritual life there is the idea that the discipline of building your body by exercising builds discipline in other areas as well. It builds self-control (another spiritual trait). The strength to build the discipline to work out every day translates to the strength and discipline to read your Bible and pray every day. God told Joshua four times in three verses to be strong and courageous. Paul often used physical examples to teach spiritual truth. When Samson failed spiritually, he also lost his physical strength.  God asks for all of you. Every piece. Body and soul.


About John Prather:

John Prather grew up with seven siblings in Memphis, Tennessee, on a steady diet of BBQ and southern values. After graduating from the University of Memphis, he moved to Hollywood to try his hand at the entertainment industry. He has been featured in TV series such as Scream Queens on Fox as well as WWE Raw. His commercial work has included ads for FedEx, Old Navy, Burger King, and Ruffles, in addition to various other major corporations. As a model, he has been featured in national magazines such as People, GQ, Men’s Health Muscle and Fitness magazine, among others. John and his wife are expecting twins in early 2018, and hope to adopt their foster daughter very soon.

For more information, visit www.JohnTPrather.com.
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2.10.2018

High Treason ~ Review

High Treason
FBI Task Force #3
By DiAnn Mills

FBI Special Agent Kord Davidson and CIA operative Monica Alden are less than pleased when an attempt on the life of Saudi Prince Omar bin Talal forces interagency cooperation with them working together. Kord knows that the Prince will not appreciate a woman on his protection detail. And Monica prefers working alone especially after an unfortunate incident in the past.

Hoping to slow the cancer that is threatening his mother's life Prince Omar bin Talal, along with two of his sisters, has come to Houston seeking medical treatment. But the visit is two-fold as the Prince hopes to bolster US-Saudi relations while decreasing his country's dependence on the oil export market. Unfortunately, someone seems determined to stop him and they don't care who gets caught in the crossfire.

The only question is who is behind this attack - is it internal or external? And will foreign relations deteriorate before the truth can be uncovered? As Kord and Monica work together, the list of who they can trust grows shorter. But with cultural factors in play uncovering who they can trust may be almost impossible. Kord depends on his years of friendship with the Prince while Monica depends upon her quick analytical thinking and her personal distance from all involved.

With clues and evidence, Kord and Monica make progress but some things just aren't adding up to a complete picture.  Time is against them as the would-be-assassin stays one step ahead of them. With Monica looking at those closest to the Prince and Kord looking beyond they hope to meet dead center before all involved are dead.

High Treason has it all - weather, cultural distrust, interagency positioning, betrayal, romance, illness, secrets. This case may force all involved to see beyond what they know in order to wrap it up with a minimum of loss of life.

Those familiar with DiAnn Mills will feel right at home from the opening page. And someone will get the girl this time she has choices. Faith is an important facet of Monica's life while Kord is searching. It is interesting to see how Prince Omar bin Talal and his family and staff deal with Western living and specifically Monica. If you want suspense this book will give it to you and just may be a hindrance to sleep at least until the last page is turned.

Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary review copy of this book with no expectations of a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.


About the Book:
When Saudi Prince Omar bin Talal visits Houston to seek cancer treatment for his mother, an attempt on his life puts all agencies on high alert. FBI Special Agent Kord Davidson is the lead on the prince’s protective detail because of their long-standing friendship, but he’s surprised—and none too happy—when the CIA brings one of their operatives, Monica Alden, in on the task force after the assassination attempt.

Kord and Monica must quickly put aside interagency squabbles, however, when they learn the prince has additional motives for his visit—plans to promote stronger ties with the US and encourage economic growth and westernization in his own country. Plans that could easily incite a number of suspects both in the US and in countries hostile to Saudi Arabia. Worse yet, the would-be assassin always seems to be one step ahead of them, implicating someone close to the prince—or the investigation. But who would be willing to commit high treason, and can Kord and Monica stop them in time?


Want a sneak peek at Chapter 1? Click here

Connect with the author DiAnn Mills online

2.06.2018

The Celebration ~ Review

The Celebration
Amish Cooking Class #3
By Wanda E. Brunstetter

Heidi and Lyle Troyer are adjusting to their new role of foster parents to Randy and Marsha. Hoping to help her young charges to adjust Heidi with Lyle's encouragement embarks on a new cooking class. But this time the class is for children instead of adults.

But from the opening moment of the first class tensions are high. Heidi's nervous about how this new twist will play out especially with Randy and Marsha now involved.  And then some of the children who are signed up are less than thrilled about the idea of cooking classes. Can everything work together or will this be the final class Heidi ever offers?

Children in her home has been Heidi's dream but children of their own wasn't meant be. And being foster parents to two young children who have tragically lost their parent wasn't something they had ever expected. But Lyle and Heidi are determined to help these two hurting children and offer  them all the love and caring that they would have offered their own had they been so blessed. Can Heidi's kitchen provide the bonding that will heal hurting hearts of not only her home but her students?

Life isn't perfect and each of Heidi's new students and their respective family is experiencing their own trials. But as in the past Heidi's lessons and caring spirit make a difference in the lives of all involved. There is romance, broken families, cute pets and good cooking - what more could one want in a sweet book that will divert the reader from the everyday for a few hours of comfort reading.

Fans of Wanda Brunstetter's Amish Cooking Class series will enjoy this book and don't skip ahead but the final pages will leave you with a happy feeling perfect for what could be the ending of this series. And don't forget to enjoy the recipes that Heidi shared! You may discover a new favorite, I'm looking forward to trying the Surprise Muffins and the Strawberry Shortcake.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review. All opinions expressed are my own.


About the Book:

Return to Holmes County, Ohio, for Amish style cooking class.

Lyle and Heidi Troyer have taken in a brother and sister, who were orphaned when their parents were killed in a car accident. Hoping to help the children adapt and make friends, Heidi decides to hold a series of cooking classes for kids. But kids are always accompanied by an adult—and that is where the trouble arises.
 
Will hearts be healed over plates of Amish food? 

2.04.2018

Steal Away Home ~ Review

Steal Away Home
By Billy Coffey

Steal Away Home takes place during Owen Cross's first Major League game. It's just a one-game stop before returning to the minors. But this will be a game that he will never forget, one that is filled with the ghosts of the past - the dreams, the memories, and the regrets. The date is June 5, 2001, and the place is Yankee Stadium and it is the culmination of Owen's life's work and the fulfillment of his father's dreams.

Memories of his friendship with Micky Dullahan keep filling his thoughts as the day and game progress.  Mickey, was a nothin' in the eyes of Camden, called Shantytown home. Her friendship with Owen and Micky was a secret kept from Camden and their fathers. And it was the one thing that could have kept Owen from following his father's dream of a career in the majors.

But the Summer of 1990 changed everything because Micky had an experience that no one ever expected to have. An encounter with God and one that drove a wedge between what was and what is. For 11 years Owen has been running from that summer and now he is facing what he gave up and left behind for a dream.

Steal Away Home is more than a baseball story or a story of first love. This is a story of everlasting, eternal love. A love that is above all others. A love that has to be accepted in order to experience it.

Now I will admit I had a bit of trouble getting into this book when I first started reading it. The back and forth between the present and the past at times got a bit confusing but once I got into the story the flow became easier. Some of the dialog has a definite Southern flavor to it so don't get thrown off by this as it adds an additional depth to it. Overall it is a fairly good story. I've read a few of Billy Coffey's work in the past and this is the best of his work in my opinion.

Fans of baseball will enjoy this book and its weaving of an actual game in with the fictionalized portions. With baseball season soon to be upon us pick this one up and stay for all nine innings.

I was provided with a review copy of this book through BookLook Bloggers with no expectations of a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own. 

About the Book:
Owen Cross grew up with two loves: one a game, the other a girl. One of his loves ruined him. Now he’s counting on the other to save him.
Owen Cross’s father is a hard man, proud in his brokenness, who wants nothing more than for Owen to succeed where he failed. With his innate talents and his father’s firm hand guiding him, Owen goes to college with dreams of the major leagues—and an emptiness full of a girl named Micky Dullahan.
Owen loved Micky from the first time they met on the hill between their two worlds: his middle-class home and her troubled Shantytown. Years later he leaves her for the dugouts and the autographs, but their days together follow him. When he finally returns home, he discovers that even peace comes at a cost. And that the hardest things to say are to the ones we love the most.
From bestselling author Billy Coffey comes a haunting story of small-town love, blinding ambition, and the risk of giving it all for one last chance.