Wednesday, May 26, 2010

BLOG TOUR: "Highland Blessings" by Jennifer Hudson Taylor

BLOG TOUR: Godly Character Highlighted in “Highland Blessings” by Jennifer Hudson Taylor

JILTED, KIDNAPPED, FORCED TO MARRY!

New Releases

Highland warrior Bryce MacPhearson kidnaps Akira MacKenzie on her wedding day to honor a promise he made to his dying father. When he forces Akira to wed him, hoping to end a half-century feud between their clans, she struggles to overcome her anger and resentment…Yet her strength in the Lord becomes a witness to Bryce. But there is a traitor in their midst…and murder is the ultimate weapon.


Author: Jennifer Hudson Taylor
ISBN: 978-1-4267-0226-6/softcover/$13.99/May 2010
[Jenn-BehindTree.jpg]
Jennifer writes historical & contemporary inspirational fiction set in Europe and the Carolinas. Her debut novel, Highland Blessings, will be released May 2010 by Abingdon Press. All of her novels include elements of faith, history, drama, suspense and romance. She dedicates everything she writes to the glory of God, the one who truly inspires her. She lives in North Carolina.

My Review:

When I first agreed to read Highland Blessings by Jennifer Hudson Taylor, I was a little apprehensive about the book because of the country setting and brogue issues. I am so glad I chose to read it! It was engaging the whole way through the book, and the whole storyline flowed naturally, particularly for the time era and country setting and clan rules, keeping me intrigued.

Akira had been jilted at the altar, kidnapped on her wedding day, and forced to wed another man from an opposing clan, one that had been feuding with her side of the family for a half-century.

Akira’s character was humble and yet strong and steady when necessary, dealing with all the emotions of the circumstances. She relied on the Lord to help her through each situation, and there were many intense moments from beginning to end! Bryce’s character was just as compelling, with his deep loyalty to promises he made and his tenderness amidst the tenacity and decisiveness needed for his clan position and enemy threats and murders.

Upon reading the book, I found some similar analogies of Akira to Esther and Joseph from the Old Testament, with testings and trials to bring out Akira and Bryce’s characters. The storyline will impress you. Jennifer is one fine writer! I highly recommend her book!

This book was provided free by Mark Yeh at Abingdon Press for my honest, personal review. I consider it a privilege to recommend good novels for your reading delight.

Friday, May 21, 2010

"Refuge on Crescent Hill" by Melanie Dobson

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Refuge on Crescent Hill

Kregel Publications (March 11, 2010)

***Special thanks to Cat Hoort, Trade Marketing Manager, Kregal Publications for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Melanie Dobson is an author as well as the owner of the publicity firm Dobson Media. A former corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family, Melanie has worked in the fields of journalism and publicity for more than twelve years. Her first book is Together for Good. Melanie lives in Oregon with her husband, Jon, and their two adopted daughters, Karly and Kinzel.


Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications (March 11, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0825425905
ISBN-13: 978-0825425905

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


The glass door was locked, but that didn’t stop Camden Bristow from yanking on the handle. The imposing desk on the other side of the glass was vacant, and the receptionist who usually waved her inside had disappeared. Behind the desk, the Fount Magazine logo mocked her, whispering that the money she so desperately needed had disappeared as well.

She pounded on the glass one last time, but no one came to the door.

Turning, she moved to a row of windows on the far side of the elevator. Sixteen stories below, swarms of people bustled toward their next appointment. Someplace they needed to be. Not long ago, she’d been rushing too, up and down Park Avenue to attend meetings at ad agencies and various magazines . . . including the suite of offices behind her.

Human rights. Natural disasters. Labor disputes. Whenever the photo editor at Fount needed the most poignant pictures for news articles, he called her, and nothing had stopped her from capturing what he needed for the next edition. She’d dedicated the past five years to responding to Grant Haussen’s calls, but after she came back from Indonesia two months ago, he stopped calling her.

She’d e-mailed him the pictures of the earthquake’s aftermath along with her regular invoice of fees and expenses. He’d used the pictures in the next issue, but apparently discarded the invoice. She never received a check, and he didn’t return even one of her many calls.

A few years ago, she wouldn’t have worried as much about the money—those days her phone rang at all hours with freelance assignments to shoot pictures around the world—but her clients had slashed their budgets and were using stock photos or buying photographs from locals. The current results weren’t as compelling as sending a professional, but keeping the lights on—the rent paid—trumped paying for the best photography.

Her clients may be making rent, but she hadn’t been able to pay hers for two months. Her savings account was depleted. The income from her Indonesia shoot was supposed to appease her landlord and credit card company. Even though she hadn’t heard from Grant Haussen, she held out hope that she might at least recoup the expenses for her trip so she could pay off the whopping flight and hotel charges on her credit card.

All hope shattered when she read the morning’s headline.

Fount Magazine Declares Bankruptcy

Others may have skimmed past this article, but the news stunned her. Three hours ago, she left her studio apartment and started walking until she found herself in Midtown, in the lobby of the Reinhold Building. A few staff members might remain at the Fount office, packing things up. Or if there were some sort of bankruptcy proceedings . . . maybe she could collect a few thousand dollars. Just enough to pay a portion of her bills while she tried to find more work.

It appeared that no one had stuck around to say goodbye.

The elevator dinged behind her, and she turned away from the windows and watched a skinny man in overalls push a mop and bucket into the hallway. He was at least two inches shorter than her five foot six.

She forced herself to smile, but he didn’t smile back. She pointed at the offices. “I need to find someone at the magazine.”

He grunted as he dipped his mop into the gray water and wrung it out. Shoving her fists into the pockets of her long jacket, she stepped toward him. “They owe me money.”

“You and half this dadgum town.”

“Yes, but—”

“They ran outta here so fast last night that the rubber on their shoes was smokin’.” He flopped the mop onto the tile floor and water spread toward his boots. “I’d bet good money that they ain’t comin’ back.”

Camden slumped against the window. Even if she were able to track down Grant, it wasn’t like he would personally write her a check for money the magazine owed. He was probably out hunting for a job already, or maybe he was stretched out on his couch watching Oprah, enjoying the luxury of not having to report for duty. He could collect unemployment while he slowly perused for a new gig.

Unfortunately, there was no unemployment for freelancers.

The janitor swabbed the mop across the tile in straight brushstrokes like he was painting instead of cleaning it, taking pride in his work.

She understood. At one time she had been proud of her work too. There was nothing more exhilarating than flying off to a country rocked by tragedy and immersing herself into an event that most people only read about. She was onsite to see the trauma, feel the aftershocks, though she never allowed herself to get personally involved. It was her job to record the crisis so others could help with the recovery. All she needed to do her job was her camera equipment and laptop.

Because of all her travels, she hadn’t accumulated much stuff over the years. Her landlord had furnished her flat before she moved in, but for almost five years, the apartment and everything in it had felt like hers. It was the longest she’d lived in one place her entire life.

But tonight, her landlord was changing the locks. Her home had been rented by someone else.

The man pushed his mop by her, ignoring her. She couldn’t blame him for his indifference. This city was full of people who needed a job—he was probably trying as hard as he could to keep his.

She would mop floors if she had to. Or scrub toilets. It wouldn’t pay enough for her to make rent, but maybe it would keep her from having to call her mom and beg for cash. If she called, her mother would pass the phone to her latest boyfriend—a retired executive living outside Madrid. Camden would rather sleep in a shelter than grovel to him.

She hopped over the wet trail left by the mop and stepped into the elevator.

Her landlord said she had until five o’clock to pack her stuff and vacate the building. The little credit she had left on her card wouldn’t pay for a week in a Manhattan hotel. And the few friends she’d made when she wasn’t traveling were struggling as much as she was. One of them might let her sleep on a couch, but she’d be expected to help with rent.

The elevator doors shut, and she punched the button for the lobby.

Where was she supposed to go from here?



The basement of the town hall smelled like burnt coffee and tobacco. The navy carpet had faded to a dull gray, and the dais at the front of the room was scuffed with shoe marks. Five men and two women sat behind a table on the platform—the bimonthly summit of Etherton’s City Council.

As the town mayor, Louise Danner presided over the city council from the middle chair. Her hoop earrings jangled below the signature Bic pen she propped behind her left ear. Copper-colored bangs veiled her smudged eyebrows.

Three steps below Louise’s chair, Alex Yates drummed his fingers on a stack of proposals and tried to listen as Evan Harper begged the councilors to let him tear down the barn on his property and replace it with a guesthouse.

In the eight months since he’d moved to Etherton, he learned that Louise Danner was almost as permanent a fixture in Etherton as the town hall. Within days of him taking this job, she told him exactly how she became mayor over the eleven thousand people in their town.

She had been born in a small house off Main Street and reigned as valedictorian over Etherton High’s Class of ’67. Armed with a degree from Marietta, she returned home after graduation and worked in several businesses across town until she secured the job of hospital administrator. Louise served on almost every town committee for the next thirty years, from historical preservation to the garden club, but when she landed the mayorship almost eight years ago, she dropped anchor.

She’d spent a boatload of money to retain her position during the last election, and with the state of the town’s economy, she would be fighting to keep her job when voters went to the polls in five months.

Alex rechecked his watch. It was almost lunchtime, and Evan Harper was still pleading his case. Alex saw the dilapidated barn every morning on the short drive to his office. Guesthouse or no guesthouse, he agreed with Evan—someone needed to put the structure out of its misery. A hearty gust of wind would end its life if the council wouldn’t approve demolition.

Alex stifled a yawn as Evan named all the people who could stay in the guesthouse including his wife’s elderly parents and his daughter’s college friends. Apparently, no one had told the man he couldn’t filibuster city council. If the mayor didn’t curtail Evan’s speech, he’d probably pull out the local phone book and read until the councilors adjourned for lunch. And once they walked out of the room, they may not reconvene in time.

Alex couldn’t wait for approval. He needed an answer today.

For the past month, he’d been quietly courting the owner of the ten-acre property at the edge of town—part of the old Truman farm. If the council concurred, the owner was ready to sell the land and farmhouse for a pittance. The town could buy it and use the property to help with their plans to revitalize the local economy.

Alex caught the mayor’s eye and tapped his watch.

“Thank you.” Louise interrupted Evan before he finished listing off every construction supply he’d purchased for the guesthouse. “I think that is all the information we need to make a decision.”

Evan plucked another piece of paper from his stack. “But I haven’t read the neighborhood petition.”

“We appreciate all the time and thought you’ve put into this, Evan.” Louise propped her chin up with her knuckles. “We’ll let you know if we have any other questions.”

Evan sat down on the wooden folding chair at the end of the row, and Alex leaned back as the council began discussing the hot issue of preservation versus progress.

Most of the councilors were successful business leaders and attorneys, passionate in either their pro-growth or anti-development stance. Today he needed to convince them that voting “yes” on his proposal would commemorate the town’s history and lay the foundation for their legacy while generating new revenue and development for the town.

Alex glanced at his watch and sighed. If it took the councilors forty minutes to decide the fate of a rickety barn, how long would it take them to make a decision on his proposal?

When he parted ways with corporate mania last year, he thought he’d left behind the constricting strands of red tape that kept him from doing his job, but he’d learned that Etherton’s residents, along with the city council, rode the high of debate until they were forced to vote. Sometimes the debate lasted weeks, or even months.

Edward Paxton led the charge against development. He didn’t want his town to change nor did he want Alex involved with any of the town’s business. Rumor had it that he wanted his grandson, Jake, to take the economic development position that Louise had created last spring to solicit new business. The only problem was that no one else on the council wanted Jake Paxton to be involved. Edward seemed to hold a personal vendetta against Alex for stealing his grandson’s job.

At least the mayor was on his team. She’d gambled when she hired him, but he assured her and the council that he’d deliver. On their terms.

After almost an hour of discussion, Louise called for a vote, and Evan smacked his knees when they approved his guesthouse with a 4–3 vote. He saluted the row of councilors as he rushed out, probably on his way to rent an excavator. Alex guessed the barn would be in a heap when he drove home tonight.

He sighed. If only getting the council to approve a project was always this easy . . .

Etherton needed the tax revenue from new businesses to fix its brick streets, increase the police force, and build a high school. The city’s officials expected Alex to find a way to merge their small town charm with big city business.

Blending these two ideals was no small feat. Not long after he moved to Etherton, he worked a deal to build a Wal-Mart Supercenter on a piece of farm property at the edge of town. Some towns didn’t want a Wal-Mart, but since their local economy had tanked, he thought most of the locals would welcome the store. After all, most of them drove forty-five minutes each week to visit the Wal-Mart in Mansfield, and this would bring discount clothes, groceries, car care, and—most importantly—jobs to their back door.

He was wrong.

When the council voted last December, residents of Etherton packed City Hall, a chorus of dissension over why their town couldn’t bear the weight of a conglomerate. The icy room turned hot as tempers flared. Small business owners threatened to overthrow the seats of every council member who supported the proposal.

In the end, the council rejected his plan. The town desperately needed the revenue and the jobs, but apparently not enough to put out the welcome mat for a mega store. A local farmer bought the field to plant corn, and Etherton missed out on the much-needed sales tax that would flood into Fredericktown when Wal-Mart opened its doors there this fall.

The council told him they wanted new business, but they wanted something quaint that would fit the town’s celebration of all things old. It was a hard task—but he’d found the perfect solution. If the residents were willing to risk a little, he was ready to deliver both quaint and classy . . . wrapped up in a pretty package and tied together with a sound financial bow.

Louise slid the pen out from behind her ear and tapped it on the table. She dismissed the few people in the audience, explaining that the rest of the meeting was a closed session, and then she pointed at him. “You’re up, Alex.”

He straightened his tie and stood to face the councilors. It was about to get hot again.



My review:

I found Melanie’s book, Refuge on Crescent Hill, to be relevant to today’s society. Camden Bristow, easy to relate to and personable, is like some of today’s young women who want to have a career, with no desire to get married or to marry later in life. Her mother had died and her father remarried, so she had little family roots. Hers was an exciting life as top photographer for Front Magazine, traveling all over the world to capture the intricacies of human life in the throws of tragedy: human rights, famines, labor disputes, earthquakes, etc., until they filed bankruptcy, leaving her pretty much broke.

Camden heads out to the only roots she does know, Grandma Rosalie at Crescent Hill, the Bristow family mansion, although she hasn’t seen her in years. She finds herself late for her Grandma’s funeral by a couple days, and finds she has inherited the mansion, albeit in disrepair and no money to repair it, leaving her half-sister with little. Alex Yates, who’s been hired by the town of Etherton to help build revenue for the city, offers Camden help with her situation.

Across the states, another family is researching the whereabouts of a previous slave, and the reason for why he never returned for his family.

Melanie weaves a unique storyline between the two histories, while adding a kick of suspense and drama surrounding the mansion itself, which has a claim to be ghost inhabited, along with some family secrets and a touch of romance. Being a mystery buff, I found the book a little slow for me, but a definite good read.

This book was provided by Cat, Trade Marketing Manager at Kregel Publications, for my honest review. My thanks to Cat and Kregel Publications for this great opportunity to present another good read to you, the readers!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

“CHOSEN: The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther” by Ginger Garrett

Don’t Just Study the Story of Esther—-Live it!

Ginger Garrett’s retelling of this classic story gives new perspective to one of Scripture’s most beloved figures.


CHOSEN:   The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther Cover ArtBased on the historical account of Queen Esther of Persia, Chosen, by Ginger Garrett, is a contemporary account of this beloved and ancient story. Uniquely written in first-person diary format, renderings of Esther’s thoughts and experiences are interspersed with current-time news excerpts, which show how Esther’s tale is woven into our own lives.

Chosen tells the story of Queen Esther, the young woman with the future of her nation in her hands. Wrenched from a simple life for her beauty, Esther finds herself at the mercy of King Xerxes. Leaving behind her only relative, her cousin Mordecai, and her first true love, Cyrus, she is thrown headlong into the unrestrained extravagance of palace living. Quick of mind and strong in spirit, she refuses to suffer the fate of her harem sisters and boldly challenges Xerxes to give of his heart before taking his pleasure, thus sealing her place beside him as queen. While conspiracy spins its diabolical web, Esther’s mind and spirit waver, and she is forced to confront the past in order to save her future—and that of an entire nation.

Click here to watch the book trailer for Chosen!

An interview with Ginger Garrett

Q: Why did you include Chosen: The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther in the David C. Cook series Lost Loves of the Bible?

A: I chose these diaries for the Lost Loves series because of the potential for love that Esther lost.

The moment Esther was chosen for the harem, whatever hopes she had for her future, her heart, and her family were lost. She became one wife among thousands. She lost freedom and many days, she lost her dignity in the treatment she received.

However, Esther is foreshadowing the story of Christ, who tells us that to surrender our own desires and plans will lead to blessings unimaginable, and overflow goodness into the lives of others. Esther’s loss, and her submission to a cruel turn of events, resulted in the saving of a nation. Millions of Jews were saved throughout history by her sacrifices.

Q: What are the other books in the Lost Loves series?

A: I’ll be adding two novels: the stories of Jezebel and Delilah. Both women have been sorely overlooked by history, painted as cardboard villains without any understanding of who they were and why they acted as they did. Their stories are more poignant, and disturbing, than what we’ve ever imagined.

Q: Will you ever complete the Serpent Moon series?

A: Since I get this question every day on email from readers, I thought I’d answer it here, too!

Dark Hour began what was to be a trilogy of evil women from the Bible. However, due to circumstances well beyond my control, I had to stop work on the series, while certain events sorted themselves out.

While I won’t be returning to the trilogy, I will be returning to my desire to tell the stories of two epic women from biblical history: Jezebel and Delilah. Their stories, their passions, and the loves they lost compel me to finish the work.

It’s fitting, really, that these women be allowed to tell their tales without the stigma of being in a series about evil women of the Bible. Until we get past that label, and see their hearts, we can’t begin to understand the lessons they would whisper to us across the generations that separate us.

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About the author: Ginger Garrett is the author of the Chronicles of the Scribes series (In the Shadow of Lions, In the Arms of Immortals, In the Eyes of Eternity), Dark Hour, and Beauty Secrets of the Bible. Focusing on ancient women’s history, Ginger creates novels and nonfiction resources that explore the lives of historical women. A frequent media guest and television host, Ginger has been interviewed by Fox News, Billy Graham’s The Hour of Decision, The Harvest Show, 104.7 The Fish Atlanta, and many other outlets. A graduate of Southern Methodist University with a degree in theater, she is passionate about creating art from history.

Chosen by Ginger Garrett

David C Cook/April 2010/ISBN: 978-1-4347-6801-8/304 pages/softcover/$14.99

www.davidccook.com www.gingergarrett.com

My review:

I asked to review Chosen by Ginger Garrett in order to compare it to Hadassah, One Night With The King by Tommy Tenney.

I found Ginger’s novel of exquisite taste. I thoroughly enjoyed the diary format. It gave me the feel of peeking into Esther’s long-lost diary. Ginger gave intimate details that would be sensitive to a woman’s perspective. The intense communications between all the characters are so believable and dramatic. The addition of information at the back of book was of great interest as well.

Tommy Tenney’s book was equally satisfying, and had great characterization and drama.

Both books have their place, and in reading both, you get a richer, fuller appreciation of Esther’s circumstances. You are privy to their dependence of praying and listening to God’s direction in each situation. I’d highly recommend both books. To accompany these two fine books, I would also recommend Finding Favor With The King by Tommy Tenney.

Both novels deal with the travesty of young girls’ abductions, but we are not to forget the young men who also were taken into captivity as well. Much like the human trafficking we see in today’s society.

I definitely look forward to reading Ginger’s next books on Jezebel and Delilah, which are part of the Lost Loves of the Bible series. Be prepared for great reading!

This book was provided by Audra at The B & B Media Group, Inc., for my honest review, and in this case to compare to another author. My thanks to Audra and B & B for the opportunity to bring your attention to another great novel.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Addictions/Obsessions drive the story line of “THE RIGHT CALL” by KATHY HERMAN

A DANGEROUS GAMBLE…

A TERRIBLE SECRET…

A DEADLY CHOICE…

The Right Call

Kathy Herman’s The Right Call, the third book in the Sophie Trace trilogy, has made the April ECPA Fiction bestseller list. All three titles in this trilogy are now bestselling books. Additionally in the Amazon Kindle store, The Real Enemy was listed the #1 bestseller in fiction, #1 in Literature and Fiction, #1 in Mystery, #1 in Genre Fiction, and #5 bestseller in all Kindle books.

In The Right Call, Herman looks at the topic of addictions and obsessions. Based on 2 Peter 2:19b: “For a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him,” The Right Call demonstrates how we’re all slaves to something—either to God and righteousness or to the flesh and its pitfalls. Filled with heart-pounding suspense that delivers heart-changing truth, The Right Call uses the perilous story of a young college student to reinforce the importance of walking closely with God, to be armed with wisdom and strength in order to face the toughest of circumstances.

Click here to watch the video trailer for The Right Call!

Kathy Herman

An interview with best-selling author Kathy Herman:

What is the underlying moral dilemma that you hope your readers will wrestle with as they read this book?

That all human beings are born slaves to sin, and until we lay claim to the power of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we’ll never be set free from of our fleshly nature.

The Right Call is based on 2 Peter 2:19b. What truth in this passage drove you to write this book?

The fact that we’re all slaves to something—either to God and righteousness or to the flesh and its pitfalls. This is especially relevant in today’s world with so many addictions now being fed by the Internet. As long as we’re confined to these mortal bodies, the Enemy will fight to control us—body, mind, and spirit. Obviously, the vast majority of us will never experience the devastating effects of a gambling, drug, alcohol, or sex addiction, but how many of us fall victim to the more acceptable vices, such as overeating? Overspending? Overworking? Overindulging? It’s the flesh that gets us into trouble, and our only hope to overcome it is Jesus. But most of the time, we deny we have a problem until it already has a foothold. Then, rather than letting God’s Holy Spirit have the reins, we struggle to tame it in our own strength and realize we can’t—and that we’ve become slaves rather than masters, overdoers rather than overcomers. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Why were addictions/obsessions a topic you decided to write about?

All generations have struggled with addictions. That’s not new. But something this generation faces that others didn’t is EASY ACCESS. With the Internet, all it takes is a click of the mouse and kids can be exposed to every manner of evil, which makes them vulnerable at a much younger age—Often young people think they can have a foot in both worlds, but Satan plays for keeps. It’s easier to get sucked into the darkness than to walk in the light. Our best defense is to stay grounded in the Word so our conscience is tender. And to be in fellowship with trusted believers who will hold us accountable.

Why do you think humans tend to do things in excess? What are some ways we can fill our emptiness with God rather than other excesses?

We’re born slaves to sin. Our fallen nature has a propensity to do things in excess because we have an emptiness that resulted from the fall of humankind. So much of our overdoing is an effort to fill that emptiness, which ultimately can only be satisfied by God and a relationship with Him. Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. The more we seek God, the closer our relationship with Him, the more that emptiness is filled with His love and the fruit of that love. But so often we don’t recognize the emptiness for what it is. Problems that come our way seem exaggerated when we’re dissatisfied with life. And we do whatever it takes to feel better. For example, how many of us tend to eat when we’re upset? We use “comfort food” as a temporary fix for a larger problem, which is an emptiness—a longing for home (paradise). This fallen world is not our home. As long as we’re here, there will be times when that emptiness cries to be filled. What we decide to fill it with is our choice. Many addictions and excesses start out small. But trying to satisfy that void inside us with anything other than God, His Word, and things that draw us closer to him can end up being a temporary fix that leaves us sorely wanting and vulnerable.

The Right Call by Kathy Herman

David C Cook/March 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4347-6784-4/390 pages/softcover/$14.99

www.davidccook.com www.kathyherman.com

My Review:

Kathy Herman’s book, The Right Call, the third book of the Sophie Trace Trilogy, which also includes The Real Enemy and The Last Word, picks right up with another thrilling, dangerous episode that includes Police Chief Brill Jessup, which ultimately endangers her family and her daughter’s boyfriend, Ethan. If you have read the previous two books, you are well-acquainted with the well-rounded, in-depth issues and characters of the Jessup family.

The Right Call drives you right into the center of murder by hire, random shootings, greed, addiction, deeply held secrets, and poor choices made by some of her characters, affecting whole town of Sophie Trace.

Ethan learns of details behind the deaths of five people that could break open the case. However, his decision to disclose this information will affect the lives of others and maybe even himself. Even if he doesn’t disclose the information, other lives are still at stake. His walk with the Lord gives him insights and wisdom of what to do in this deadly situation.

Kathy’s novel will show you that we are all addicted to something, and what or Who we choose to follow will make all the difference in the world. Choices we make do not just affect just ourselves–there’s a ripple effect of consequences that incorporates others around us. The importance of a relationship with God, so that you can call on Him for wisdom and direction in making decisions in difficult situations, is one of the main insights gleaned from this book. I highly recommend the whole series.

This book was provided free by Audra of The B & B Media Group, Inc., for my honest review of the book. No monetary incentives were received to gain a positive review by myself. I review books for the pleasure of inviting readers to read good, wholesome books that are thrilling to read.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

At vesselproject.com: Book review and giveaway of "Crave: Wanting So Much More of God" by Chris Tomlinson

“From the heart of one seeking Christ, comes an exceptional book for the new believer as well as those who have walked with God for some time.”

In the fifteen chapters of Crave: Wanting So Much More of God by Chris Tomlinson, you will find provocative questions, humorous real-life stories, and perhaps even some answers to questions that have lingered in your mind about Christianity.

Popular icons anchor each topic to connect the question to reality. I especially enjoyed the Treasure Chest icon associated with the topic of Joy.

The writing style engaging. The tempo is quick and keeps your interest from Chapter One through to the end. Great illustrations and glimpses of a what a believer really asks about Christianity.

Sound teaching on truth with his own reflections about hard concepts like ‘God is good – but He is also just’ which addresses the issue of trust and justice. And the issue of suffering as instruction and eventually a blessing. And of pride, he speaks from a been-there done-that perspective, always key when connecting with others.

Recommended highly, I suggest you grab a copy and settle down for some interesting reading that may even present some new questions for you to ask God yourself.
926935: Crave: Wanting So Much More of God Crave: Wanting So Much More of God
By Chris Tomlinson / Harvest House Publishers

# Paperback: 224 pages
# Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (January 1, 2010)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 0736926933
# ISBN-13: 978-0736926935

Disclaimer:
The review copy of this book was provided free of charge by Chris Tomlinson and donated to the library of Westwood Baptist Church.
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Monday, May 3, 2010

Review: "Fear to Freedom" by Rosemary Trible


FEAR TO FREEDOM

FROM VICTIM TO VICTORY!
Product Details

Fear to Freedom: What if you did not have to be so afraid?

Rosemary Trible

Biography/Inspiration

ISBN: 978-1-935265-09-2/240 pages/$1495/February 2010

VMI Publishers

Does fear hold you back from living with freedom and confidence? Does anxiety rob your joy?

Rosemary Trible was a successful young woman, a television talk-show host with a husband on his way to becoming a US Congressman, when she was savagely raped at gunpoint after her show on rape. Even though she recovered physically, she found that her attacker had not only brutally violated her, he had stolen her joy and her ability to live without terror and fear.

Fear to Freedom provides practical tools from Rosemary’s own life and the transformed lives of others and discusses sexual assault, terror, forgiveness, and healing. It’s about big dreams, the death of dreams, and becoming bold enough to dream again and make a difference in the world for good.

Rosemary’s story will elicit tears, but also laughter. It’s easy to read, passionate and real. It will appeal to people who are hungry for the presence of God. It also features the stories of young women Rosemary has mentored through eating disorders, sexual violation, depression and bitterness, encouraging readers to begin their own healing process.

Photo from: dailypressbooks.posterous.com

Rosemary, originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, has been married to Paul Trible since 1971. They have two children, Mary Katherine Peters, a marketing executive married to Barrett Peters, who is pursuing his degree in dentistry, and Paul III, who has completed his MBA at Oxford University and is starting his own business, Ledbury, custom men’s shirts. On top of the list of answered prayers is a new grandbaby on the way! Visit www.feartofreedomjourney.com for additional infomation.

My Review:

Other than some differences in theology, Fear to Freedom is one very personal biography of Rosemary Trible’s brutal rape which she allowed God to turn to healing, and then turns the rape incident around and decidedly reaches out to really help women turn their issues over to God. I enjoyed Rosemary’s transparency, her personal insights, steps to forgiveness, ‘journey to joy’ section, and her in-depth devotional guide. She hits all the steps of healing. I found her book very sensitive and personal. I can feel her heart for women throughout the whole book. For that, I give her book a very high rating and recommendation.

This book was provided by Paula Krapf, Chief Operating Officer, at Author Marketing Experts, Inc., for my honest review of Fear to Freedom. My thanks.

"Catherine's Gift" by John Little

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Catherine's Gift: Stories of Hope from the Hospital

Monarch Books (March 4, 2010)

***Special thanks to Cat Hoort of Kregel Publications for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


John Little spent 25 years working as a reporter and producer in television current affairs before becoming a full-time author. He has written eight books, including The Hospital by the River (with Dr Catherine Hamlin); Down to the Sea; Jem, a Father’s Story; Christine’s Ark; and Maalika (with Valerie Browning). He lives with his wife, Anna, and son, Tim, on Sydney’s northern beaches.

(Picture taken from John's website.)

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 280 pages
Publisher: Monarch Books (March 4, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 185424955X
ISBN-13: 978-1854249555

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


From the PROLOGUE

It’s the rainy season in Addis Ababa. The day begins with a promise. At the hospital by the river, patients who are not confined to bed throw off their woolen shawls and gather in the sun to gossip. The girls groom one another’s hair, sew and bicker and joke. Some, perhaps speaking a rare tongue, sit by themselves on the low stone wall by the outpatients department, or squat on the ground watching the activity. In this self-contained little world, walled off from the chaos of the city, there’s always something to see – new patients arriving, mud-stained, stinking and weary after travelling on foot over flooded tracks, vehicles bringing medical supplies, ferenji visitors from another planet, gardeners tending the lawns and flower beds, workers regularly hosing away the puddles which gather under the waiting patients.


These are peasant women. The seasons rule their lives. They savor the morning warmth, for they know that by midday black clouds will begin to form over the hills which ring the city and the thunder will grumble like a cranky old man leaving a warm bed. At two-thirty the rain begins – they could set their watches by it if they owned such things – and it does not stop until late at night.


In the highlands where many of these women come from, the rains can cut off villages for weeks on end. When doctors Reg and Catherine Hamlin first began treating the women half a century ago they could always count on some respite at this time of year. But for the past few years the rainy season seems to have made no difference. Is it because there are more cases than ever? Or just because the hospital has become so well known? Whatever the reason, every day up to half a dozen women arrive seeking help.


Sometimes they are alone – bewildered and frightened by the brutal indifference of the city. Sometimes a friend or relative has come with them. A few, with injuries so severe they are unable to walk, are carried in. They come from the desert, from remote highland villages, from the plains and the rainforest. They speak 80 different languages. They are Orthodox Christians, Muslims, Animists, or sometimes a mixture of faiths. They all have one thing in common – they are suffering from the medical condition known as obstetric fistula.


It is a cruel affliction. Ethiopia has its lepers and cripples, as does any poor African country. The diseased and the lame and the mad are on any street corner for all to see. But if there is a scale of human misery, the fistula women are up near the top. They believe they are cursed by God. And you have to wonder what God had in mind when he allowed a woman’s most cherished act, childbirth, to produce this outcome. No matter where they live, 10 per cent of all women will experience some kind of problem, such as obstructed labor, during childbirth. In the west they simply go to hospital and have a caesarean section or a forceps delivery. For a peasant girl in a remote Ethiopian village it’s not so easy. She will squat in her circular hut, or tukul, sometimes for days, trying to force the baby out. After a couple of days the baby inevitably dies. The prolonged labor, with the baby stuck in the birth canal, may cut off the blood supply to parts of the mother’s body. The tissue dies, leaving a hole, or fistula, in the bladder. Because they are so offensive to be near, fistula sufferers are invariably divorced by their husbands and banished from their village. Theirs are lives of loneliness and despair, often in some ruined dwelling away from everyone else, or they may be forced to beg for a living in the town. We are not talking about some minor medical curiosity here. There are 200,000 fistula sufferers in Ethiopia; two million throughout the world.


Amid the comings and goings, some of the girls may notice a tall, slim, grey-haired woman wearing a white doctor’s coat, passing through the outpatients department into the main ward. Dr Catherine

Hamlin is 83 now. She was 35 when she and her husband, Reg, also an obstetrician/gynecologist, first came to Ethiopia and saw the plight of the fistula women. ‘Fistula pilgrims’, Reg called them, on account of the formidable journeys they made to seek help. Since then the hospital has restored more than 32,000 from wretched despair to joyous new life.


Reg died in 1993 but Catherine carries on, and at an age when most women are content just to reflect upon their memories, she is working as hard as ever. She is intimately involved with every aspect of the hospital, still doing rounds, still operating.


At the nurses’ station inside the ward she consults her colleagues about tomorrow’s list. There are seven cases of varying degrees of difficulty. She pores over the notes, contained in green cardboard folders. They give a brief history of the patient – how many days she was in labor, where she came from, how she got here, how many previous children she has borne, any medical information that will affect her management. The doctor who did the initial examination has drawn a diagram showing the location and size of the fistula. Catherine chooses her cases.


Let us meet them…



My Review:
Catherine's Gift by John Little was a complete eye-opener for me in regards to the plight of women in Ethiopia and surrounding countries. Living in the US, fistulas following obstructed labor, are basically unheard of due to pre-natal care and labor and delivery practices--something I have to admit that I have taken for granted. John Little's stories are his point of view as a reporter, but also as a concerned citizen who got emotionally involved with many of the women as he followed them over time. This is a book I would recommend to everyone to awaken their knowledge of the the lack of resources in these countries and get involved. For us here in America, you can visit www.fistulafoundation.com. See also the bestseller The Hospital by the River by John Little.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"Fear to Freedom" by Rosemary Trible

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Fear to Freedom: Victim to Victory - What if you did not have to be so afraid?

VMI Publishers (February 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Paula Krapf - Chief Operating Officer - Author Marketing Experts, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Rosemary Trible’s experiences as the wife of former United States Congressman and Senator Paul Trible provide fascinating insights into the challenges and opportunities of public life. During their twelve years in Congress, Rosemary’s involvement in the inner city of Washington gave her a fresh perspective of the need for reconciliation and the importance of the “power of love” over the “love of power.” Rosemary’s compassion for the poor led her to travel widely hosting mission trips around the world to places such as Cuba, Cambodia, Vietnam, China and India. While in Calcutta she was greatly impacted by the opportunity to work with The Sisters of Charity. Mother Teresa challenged Rosemary to “be a woman of prayer,” which continues to inspire her today.

Visit the author's website.



Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: VMI Publishers (February 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1935265091
ISBN-13: 978-1935265092

AND NOW...AN EXCERPT:


Chapter 18

Abiding In God’s Presence

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13). These words invited me to draw near to God in my everyday life. I had felt such an incredible closeness to the Lord during my near-life experience and now my passion for living in God’s presence is greater than ever.

Jesus certainly knew the importance of dwelling in God’s presence. For him, prayer was a priority. Jesus taught, healed, preached, and then went away to spend time with his Father. Here he received the guidance, strength, and comfort he needed for each day. Likewise prayer strengthens our faith, helps us appreciate the joys of life, and brings us into the delightful presence of God.

St Augustine said, “For you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”1 What a difference prayer can make in our lives! Only here can our hearts find the true rest we long for.

I want to know God’s purpose for me and my family. To do this, I need to spend time with Jesus in the Word and in prayer. After all, the most strategic person I need to reach with the love of God is me. I have called my time of prayer an Appointment with the King since I heard Becky Tiarabassi use that expression at a woman’s retreat years ago. The pace of life today is full speed ahead, and the noise of life is so loud it can distract us from God, who is wooing us—inviting us to slow down, to sit and be still. What if we made an Appointment with the King for twenty minutes each day? We would still have twenty-three hours and forty minutes of our day left! We are so busy running and doing that we have lost what it means to just be still—to know that God is holy, faithful, and unfailing.

Elijah on the mountaintop did not find God in the storm or the wind or the fire but in a small whisper. God often whispers his love to us: “Come to me. Enter into my presence, and find rest for your soul. Come with no agenda but to be with me for you are my heart’s delight.”

I have come to believe that Jesus plus nothing equals everything. God is not concerned about our past except for the grace he gives to cover it. Today we can have a relationship through his son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. I am the way, the truth and the life, I am the good shepherd.” This is true for us today not in the past tense. I want to know Jesus now—I want to learn to walk like him, and forgive like him, and love like him.

Jesus is alive today. He is healing, forgiving, restoring, and loving today. I believe he wants us to be part of his transforming work, but this flows out of our time with him. Instead of being with Jesus to develop this intimacy, and seek his vision, we seem often to focus on the doing instead of being. If what we do is who we are, then who are we when we stop doing it?

I am comforted that Jesus did not run through Jerusalem! If we are always running throughout every day, checking off our to-do lists and responding to our e-mail and text messages, we become exhausted. We must find balance by spending time alone with the Lord. On my calendar there are many entries for every day, but my prayer time, my Appointment with the King, is my highest priority.

Find a time of prayer that works for you. After I went back to work, it was difficult to continue my regular morning time of prayer. God let me know, “That’s no problem. We’ll just meet in the middle of the night when we can be quiet together.” For the past eight years I am awakened sometime between three and four o’clock and have found this time to be the most precious part of the day. I enter into God’s presence when my mind is not already focusing on the days’ activities. If your heart’s desire is to be with God, you can find a time that is best for you.

A revelation from my near-life experience is the importance of living in his presence now. Jesus’ spirit lives in us and therefore we are never alone. Moment by moment, step by step, day by day, we can be one in Jesus as we open our lives to this transforming relationship. We are the ones who must open our hearts to the fullness of this love.

Billy Graham once said, “Heaven is full of answers to prayers for which no one ever bothered to ask.”2 Sometimes we do not know how to ask, what to seek, and how to begin to knock. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be open to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matt. 7:7–8). So keep knocking!

Moments With Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa is a great example of this kind of radical devotion to love and prayer. Her life epitomized love, for she reached out to everyone who crossed her path—the rich and the poor, the powerful and those who were dying in poverty and filth. When people asked her how they could make a difference, she would often suggest to them, “Simply respond to what is right before you—love the person in front of you. You are called not to be successful but to be faithful.”

I first had an opportunity to meet Mother Teresa in February of 1994 when she was the speaker at the National Prayer Breakfast. Because I was helping with logistics that year, I visited with Susan Mendies, who traveled with Mother Teresa and helped make her arrangements. She indicated Mother Teresa would rather not sit at the head table, but have a simple chair placed for her behind the dignitaries.

While others were eating their breakfast, President Bill Clinton, First Lady Hillary Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, and his wife, Tipper, came behind the curtain to spend time with Mother Teresa. I watched from the wings of the stage as Mother Teresa reached her arms around these two couples while she prayed for them. The program was about to begin, but the most important event seemed to be the scene I was witnessing. Five people sitting in folding chairs as this humble woman prayed for them—the leaders of our nation and the world.

Mother Teresa was so small that we placed a box behind the podium so she could be seen when it was time for her keynote address. When she spoke, however, the authority of God seemed to come through her, and you could hear a pin drop in this crowd of five thousand who listened intently. She challenged the audience that represented some 146 nations to “Love until it hurts.” She said:

And so it is very important for us to realize that love, to be true, has to hurt. I must be willing to give whatever it takes not to harm other people and, in fact, to do good to them. This requires that I be willing to give until it hurts. Otherwise, there is no true love in me and I bring injustice, not peace, to those around me.

You too must bring that presence of God into your family, for the family that prays together, stays together. There is so much hatred, so much misery, and we with our prayer, with our sacrifice, are beginning at home. Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do, but how much love we put into what we do.

We can keep the joy of loving Jesus in our hearts, and share that joy with all we come in contact with. If we remember that God loves us, and that we can love others as He loves us, then America can become a sign of peace for the world.

If you become a burning light of justice and peace in the world, then really you will be true to what the founders of this country stood for. God bless you!3

I had another wonderful opportunity to be with Mother Teresa in the spring before her death September 5, 1997, when I traveled to Calcutta to work in the House of the Dying and the Orphanage of the Missionaries of Charity along with Susan Mendies. There I experienced Jesus as never before among the poorest of the poor.

Morning worship was in the Mother House at 6:00 a.m. Mother Teresa was in her wheelchair, and beside her was Sister Agnes in her wheelchair in the back of the crowded room. Sister Agnes was the first nun to join Mother Teresa in Calcutta. She was the contemplative nun who prayed while Mother Teresa was out serving. They were devoted friends who were paired in their lives in Christ. As Mother Teresa worked in the streets, her friend for forty-two years, Sister Agnes, kept a prayer vigil. Every morning the sisters repeated this prayer called “Radiating Jesus”:

Dear Jesus, help us to spread

Your fragrance everywhere we go.

Flood our souls with your spirit and life.

Penetrate and possess our whole being, so utterly,

That our lives may only be a radiance of Yours.

Shine through us, and be so in us,

That every soul we come in contact with

May feel Your presence in our soul. . . .4

After morning prayer, I knelt by Mother Teresa’s wheelchair and felt I was beholding Jesus face-to-face. Her dancing eyes twinkled with joy as her warm wrinkled hands, leathered from years of serving and loving, held mine. It was if I were looking into the eyes of unconditional love. Her challenge has stayed with me ever since: “Rosemary, be a woman of prayer.”

I love what she said about prayer: “Perfect prayer does not consist in many words, but the fervor of the desire which raises the heart to Jesus. Love to pray. Feel the need to pray often during the day. Prayer enlarges the heart until it is capable of containing God’s gift of Himself. Ask and seek and your heart will grow big enough to receive Him and keep Him as your own.” Another of her favorite sayings I have engraved on a rock by my bed: “Do no great things, only small things with great love.”5

I thought often of Mother Teresa’s words as I worked in the House of the Dying. I saw all around me great love and felt blessed, in a small way, to care for those on the threshold of death. The hurt and pain was evident, but God’s peace and love was even more present.

On this weekend nuns from across the world had gathered to determine who would follow Mother Teresa as head of the Missionaries of Charity. To help with the daily jobs, teenage novices had come from another province to work that weekend. That made me the oldest person serving in the House of the Dying. The doctor asked if I would give out the medications to each woman. He paired me with one of the novices, who checked the name on the individual cups of pills and bottles of liquid to determine the medicine was going to the right woman.

My mother had recently died, so my heart was particularly tender when I was with these women in their last days. I held each woman in my arms and spoke softly about my own mother’s dying and how she had said, “Jesus is coming. He is coming for me.” I will never know if any of these dying women could understand what I was saying, but I felt a deep peace in the midst of this the dying. As I told them about my own experience in the vision of heaven, I looked into their eyes and felt somehow they at least knew they were loved and cared for.

I asked one of the nuns later, “How is this unusual peace possible?” She replied, “The peace comes from love. These women, many who have been picked up out of the gutters, now know they are loved. God loves them. They have been forgiven and may soon be free from their pain. She told me how one person had said, “I lived my life in filth, but I will die as an angel.”

The next day I was not expecting to see Mother Teresa. Then I heard tiny footsteps coming from behind me and there she was. Her eyes sparkled as she asked, “Do you have one of my business cards?” “No, I’d love to have one!” I replied in total surprise. I told her about my time at the House of the Dying and how the next day I was going to spend time in the orphanage. She asked, “Do you love children?” I replied, “Oh yes, I have two children who I adore.” “I’ll give you one!” Mother Teresa exclaimed!

My jaw must have dropped open. But before I could speak, the nuns had come for Mother Teresa and whisked her away. Her business card read:

The fruit of Silence is prayer.

The fruit of Prayer is faith,

The fruit of Faith is love,

The fruit of Love is service,

And the fruit of Service is peace.

Mother Teresa changed the world through her life of loving everyone. Whether a leper everyone despised, an abandoned baby, the pope or the president, each person was special to her and to God. She is buried, as was her request, in a simple pine box. This tireless and compassionate woman was loved by the poor and powerful alike. She lies in the Mother House where her last simple message reads, “From Mother—Love one another as I have loved you.”



I will post a review at a later date.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"No Greater Love" by Kathi Macias--New Hope Publisher's Amazon Blast!

Extreme Devotion

Release Date: April 2009
ISBN-10: 1-59669-215-4
ISBN-13: 978-1-59669-215-2
Retail Price: $19.99
Format: Hard Cover

Forbidden romance, an unlikely martyr and an even more unlikely hero. Orphaned four years earlier when their parents, active in the African National Congress (ANC) movement against apartheid, were murdered—16-year-old Chioma and her 15-year-old brother Masozi now live and work on an Afrikaner family’s farm.
When Chioma and Andrew, the farm owner’s son, find themselves attracted to one another, tragedy revisits their lives. Chioma escapes to join an ANC rebel band in her effort to survive and gain revenge for her family and culture. When cultures clash in life-or-death struggles, Chioma must choose between violence and revenge—or forgiveness and selfless love.
Loosely based on historical events and set near Pretoria, South Africa, in the violent upheaval prior to ANC leader Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990 and his ascendance to the presidency of South Africa, this story of forbidden romance produces an unlikely martyr who is replaced by one even more unlikely.

Kathi Macias
is a multi-award winning writer who has authored nearly 30 books and ghostwritten several others. A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. Kathi is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences, and recently won the prestigious 2008 member of the year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) at the annual Golden Scrolls award banquet. Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband, Al, where the two of them spend their free time riding their Harley.

www.kathimacias.com

http://kathieasywritermacias.blogspot.com

Purchase here. For multiple book orders, contact Kathi directly at ezyrtr@ca.rr.com.

Review and Giveaway: "Glaen" by Fred R. Lybrand

How do you find the right person to marry?

Glaen on Bottom

Glaen by Fred R. Lybrand

The Barnabas Agency February 2010

ISBN: 978-0-578-04652-5/softcover/171 pages/$14.99

Website: www.glaen.com Blog: www.glaen.wordpress.com

Become a fan of Glaen on Facebook!

In a world where love is romanticized by vampires and far-off adventures of undying love-at-first-sight, audiences don’t always have the opportunity to read stories that reflect God’s design for love. Author Fred Lybrand takes an in-depth look into relationships and dating, plus a little common sense for the real day-to-day world, in his latest book, Glaen.

Lybrand has chosen a unique and effective way to present his knowledge of human relationships and romance by creating a story line that allows readers to walk alongside believable characters as they discover and explore an exciting and more effective way to relate to those with whom they will share life’s most intimate relationships. Having spent more than twenty-four years as a pastor, Lybrand is deeply involved in caring for people, and he wants others to know the freedom that can be found in relating to others truthfully and without pretense.

Glaen introduces the character of Annie Hughes just as she suffers the loss of one of life’s foundational relationships–her parents’ marriage. As a graduate student, Annie suddenly finds herself at a loss to understand how any relationship finds and maintains lifetime power, especially a relationship as intimate as marriage.

Then Annie meets her new writing professor, a rather unconventional teacher named Glaen (rhymes with rain), and her life is set upon a path of both self-discovery and the exploration of romantic relationships. She begins this class with the intention to help others, but quickly learns that she must first develop a teachable spirit, and her own faith proves to be the pivotal starting point for her journey. Annie then begins to honestly explore how men and women relate to one another as God designed them to do.

Lybrand’s character development of Annie allows him to outline several foundational truths. Using Annie’s ‘research’ and ‘journal’ entries as the vehicle to present thought-provoking ideas to the reader, Lybrand first uncovers the lies of a secular world-view and counters those lies with the truth of God’s design for the marriage relationship. These observations are made even clearer as the reader observes Annie’s interaction with other couples and friends who are in the process of dating and considering marriage. As she questions her friends’ choices, she also takes an honest look at the relationship she is developing within her own life.

Annie’s discoveries are both simple and profound–truth itself proves to be the foundation upon which all relationships hinge. The discovery that truth can only operate effectively within a relationship when people relate to one another without pretense and unrealistic expectations proves to be life-changing for the characters in many ways.

The life-changing principles found in Glaen are the gems Lybrand wants the reader to take from the story and experience in their own lives and relationships. Thus, Glaen is a book that demands a second reading as those who read its story will want to go through it again and highlight and examine the truths Annie uncovers throughout her journey. This book will serve as a great teaching tool for parents to use with their children as well as for church leaders guiding couples who are seeking a more satisfying marriage relationship.

Fred R. Lybrand attended the University of Alabama and majored in English Literature, with a double-minor emphasis in speech communication and fiction writing. He went on to teach the introductory speech communications class while also attending law school at Alabama. A hunger to understand the Word of God, however, led him to withdraw in order to pursue theological studies ad Dallas Theological Seminary. Lybrand graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary in 1989 and received a doctorate from Phoenix Seminary in 2007.

In January 2020, Dr. Lybrand retired from a 24-year career as a pastor of two churches in TX. At Midland Bible Church he helped build a church which has launched ministries in several continents (church-planting efforts in Uganda), as well as serving as a founding board (and faculty) member for Midland Classical Academy high school. The school provides a “classical education” focused on teaching students through the Socratic Method using classical books, interactive science, and math, logic, fine arts, and the creative process–all built on the foundation of the Bible. At Northeast Bible Church (Evangelical Free Church) in San Antonio are, Dr. Lybrand helped redesign the church to grow as a disciple-making center for promoting the grace of God. Teaching and counseling in the church contest has been a long-term focus of Lybrand’s labors.

Lybrand is also the founding executive director and a past president of the Free Grace Alliance (www.freegracealliance.om), an organization committed to coordinating and connecting the various “free grace” leaders, organizations, and churches in the USA and abroad.

Fred Lybrand and his college sweetheart, Jody White Lynbrand, have been married for 27 years and have five children. Jody has a Master’s degree in early childhood education. All of their children have been home-schooled from birth to college. Fred has also recreated “The Writing Course,” a curriculum to teach kids to overcome every fear of writing on the way to writing well.

Trailer.

My review:

Glaen was one of the more unique ways I’ve seen to present information about the subject of relationships, particularly marriage. The ‘research’ and ‘journal’ notes of Annie are the principles that Lybrand expounds on. The relationships in the story are real, especially in today’s world, so the premise is extraordinarily realistic. You will come away with the truths of God’s way for a great, thriving marriage if you are willing to apply what you learn. The secular world-view ideas are contrasted against God’s views, and are pivotal in building a strong relationship. A definite recommendation to young people considering marriage and for marriages that could use a boost to their relationship.

Giveaway!!! Please leave a comment on a piece of advice you received about dating/marriage that helped you. One entry per person. Chances of winning will be determined by the number of comments. Limited to the USA.

Audra at The B & B Media Group, Inc. provided a book for my review and a second copy to give away. I read/review to encourage Godly books for people to build their lives upon.

Monday, April 19, 2010

"Faith Path" by Mark Mittelberg

FAITH PATH: Helping Friends find their way to Christ

Faith Path (Workbook & DVD) by Mark Mittelberg

David C Cook

Workbook-ISBN: 978-1-4347-6513-0/softcover/128 pages/$12.99

DVD-ISBN: 978-1-4347-6514-7/$24.99

www.davidccook.com

Many Christians cringe at the thought of talking with non-Christians about faith. It’s almost like trying to explain music to a deaf person or a painting to someone who is blind. But one important thing any Christian can do is understand their friends–listen to them and consider how they think. Then it becomes possible to truly communicate God’s truth.

Now there is an exciting new resource for church groups and individuals with a heart to more effectively engage unbelievers in faith conversations. Based on Mark Mittelberg’s book Choosing Your Faith, the eight-lesson Faith Path workbook and Faith Path DVD, are designed to be used in a group and build on Mittelberg’s sensible, evenhanded approach to evangelism.

“Faith. Everybody lives by it–even skeptics and atheists! That’s right. Everyone you know trusts something they believe in but can’t prove or know absolutely. They take it on faith,” Mittelberg says. “If you want to talk to your friends about your faith, it helps to understand what they believe and how they got there. Because badgering people to change their minds just doesn’t work.”

DVD segments include teaching from Mittelberg, as well as short interviews with fascinating people talking about the faith paths they were on before they came to Christ. Approaches such as relativism, traditionalism, mysticism, authoritarianism, and others are explored. Interviews seen on the DVD are then discussed in a thought-provoking, enjoyable group format, as well as in workbook entries. Among other things, participants will learn to recognize the danger of paths that lead away from Christ and will deepen their own faith in Christ and reinforce their reasons for believing.

No other DVD/workbooks exist for Choosing Your Faith (workbook includes leader’s guide materials), so Faith Path–with live interviews–promises to set new trends for learning how to engage other in spiritual conversations.

“Relativists, traditionalists, mystics, authoritarians, and others…they’re all here. And after you understand how these folks think about faith, you can help them find a trustworthy pathway to truth,” Mittelberg says. “Because no matter what your friends believe, they still matter to God.”

Mark Mittelberg

Author Bio:

Mark Mittelberg is a best-selling author, sought-after speaker, and a leading outreach strategist. He is the author of Choosing Your Faith, co-author (with Lee Strobel) of The Unexpected Adventure, and co-author (with Bill Hybels and Lee Strobel) of the Becoming a Contagious Christian curriculum. He previously served as the evangelism director for Willow Creek Community Church and the Willow Creek Association. Mark earned a master’s degree in philosophy of religion from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He lives in Southern California with his wife, Heidi, and their two teenage children.

My review:

I was intrigued with Mark Mettelberg’s explanation of the different faith paths: relativism, traditionalism, authoritarianism, intuitive, mystical, and evidential. His list of faith paths help to differentiate how people came to the basis of their faith, so that one can reason with them accordingly and lead them to Christ. He helped me to understand where I came from in my faith walk prior to receiving the Lord.

Along with this list of faith paths, he also addresses the “Arrows of Truth” that point to the sixth path, evidential, that help you clarify these truths. I found them to be helpful.

The last section helped me to understand the barriers people have to faith, and outlines how one can help their friends overcome them. Knowing these barriers, using the ‘arrows of truth,’ and knowing the different faith path one’s friend is on, in my opinion, is pertinent to pointing them to faith in Christ.

This is a very effective format for small groups or even larger Sunday School classes, to lead people to Christ. I did not read Mark’s book, Choosing Your Faith, but it’s one I think would be helpful with the discussions in this workbook and viewing the DVD. The only thing that was confusing to me was the lack of definition of some of the groups individually. They were clumped together in one chapter.

This workbook and DVD were provided free by Audra at The B & B Media Group, Inc., for my honest review. My purpose in reviewing is to encourage people to find good Christian materials to enhance their faith and pass it on to others. Thanks to Audra and B & B Media Group.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

"The Last Word" by Kathy Herman

Suspense that speaks to the heart!

The Last Word

The Last Word Book 2: Sophie Trace Trilogy by Kathy Herman

David C Cook/October 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4347-6785-1/ 390 pages/softcover/$14.99

www.davidccook.com www.kathyherman.com

In The Last Word, heart-pounding suspense meets heart-challenging truth as best-selling author Kathy Herman returns to Sophie Trace in her new page-turner. Based on Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile,” Herman’s second installment in the Sophie Trace series triumphantly demonstrates God’s miraculous ability to heal the broken.

This theme comes to life in Vanessa Jessup, a twenty-year-old college student who becomes pregnant while having a secret love affair with her psychology professor and has to make a choice: either end the pregnancy or end the relationship. The Biblical truths she learned growing up prompt her to choose life and to go home to the refuge of her parents’ counsel and a right relationship with God.

When Vanessa arrives home, her mother, Sophie Trace Police Chief Brill Jessup, is stunned to see that she’s pregnant–and by one of her professors. While Brill is glad her oldest daughter rejected the father’s abortion ultimatum, she’s also hurt that Vanessa ignored her upbringing, and that the professor has disappeared without as much as a nickel of child support.

But that’s not all Brill’s got on her plate. One of her detectives has been killed, and the attacker has threatened to come for her next. When a second cop is wounded, public criticism mounts as Brill attempts to stay alive long enough to catch the perp. At the same time, she’s trying to find the deadbeat dad as Vanessa struggles to make decisions about her future.

In Spite of Brill’s best efforts to stay safe, the murderer finally kidnaps and threatens to kill her and then commit suicide. As her life hangs in the balance, Brill becomes concerned that her attacker is about to die and is not saved. She refuses to be silenced in her witness of God’s love for him. In a show of grace under pressure and fierce determination, Brill decides she will manage to have the last word, even if it kills her.

Chapter 1

Police Chief Brill Jessup pored over the department’s budget for the rest of the fiscal year and couldn’t see any way she could afford to hire another patrol officer without going to the city council. She sighed. The last time she asked those tightwads for additional funds she practically had to beg.

A strange noise interrupted her thoughts. She peered through the blinds on the glass wall into the bustling detective bureau and listened intently. There it was again.

A burly man appeared in the doorway. He bumped off either side, then staggered into her office. Face down. Hands dripping with blood, clutching his abdomen.

“What in the world …?” She jumped to her feet, frozen in place.

Detective Sean O’Toole looked up and stretched out his hand toward her, his eyes screaming with pain. He collapsed in front of her desk and hit the floor.

“Officer down!” she shouted. “I need an ambulance—now!”

She hurried around the side of her desk, grabbed the clean hand towel next to the coffeepot, and got down on her knees. She laid the towel over the bloody wound and applied pressure.

“Sean, talk to me. What happened?”

The detective’s face was ashen. “He c-came from behind … put me in a chokehold … stuck a knife in my gut … said he was coming after you—to f-finish the job.”

“You never saw his face?”

“No. Hairy arms. White guy. Navy-blue short sleeves. Smelled like c-cigarettes. Deep voice.”

“Where did this happen?”

“Hallway. Water cooler.”

Sean moaned, his face pallid and contorted with pain, his eyes slits of icy blue.

“Come on, Sean, stay with me.”

Detective Captain Trent Norris burst into her office. “I’ll take it from here, Chief.”

“How did he get from the water cooler to my office without someone in the DB seeing he needed help?

“I guess we were all focused on other things. It’s been crazy.”

Trent got down on the floor and swapped places with her, his palms pressed over the wound. “Hang in there, buddy. The paramedics are just down the block. They’ll be here any second. You’re going to be fine. Stay with me. Talk to me.”

Brill sprang to her feet and hurried over to the officers who crowded outside her door. “O’Toole was just stabbed by some lowlife who snuck up behind him at the water cooler. We’re looking for a white man wearing a short-sleeve, navy-blue shirt, possibly bloodstained.”

She locked gazes with Sean’s partner. “Detective Rousseaux, secure the scene and make sure it’s not compromised.

“Captain Dickson, lock down the building and search every corner of every room.”

“Sergeant Chavez, set up a containment for two blocks around the building.

“Sergeant Huntman, clear the route to St. Luke’s and make sure we have officers in radio cars ready to escort the ambulance. Come on, people, move it!”

The officers scrambled in all directions, and she ran out to the restroom.

She tore off paper towels until she had a stack, folded them in half and held them under the faucet, then pressed out the excess water and rushed back to her office.

She got on her knees and gently pressed the wet towels onto Sean’s forehead, all too aware he was sweating profusely and still bleeding despite the pressure Trent was keeping on the wound. “We need something to elevate his legs.”

She went over to the bookshelf and grabbed several thick books and put them under Sean’s feet, hoping he wouldn’t die of shock before the paramedics arrived.

Lord, don’t take him now. He’s young. He’s got a wife and three kids.

“Come on, buddy, talk to me.” Trent patted Sean’s cheeks. “What else do you remember about this creep?”

“Tell Jessica I love her. The kids, too. Promise me.”

“You’re not going to die,” Trent said. “The bleeding’s slowing down. Talk to me, Sean. We want whoever did this to you.”

“He’s coming after the chief. Going to kill her.”

“Who’s going to kill her?” Trent’s dark eyes shot Brill a glance. “Give us something else. You’re too sharp of a detective to have missed anything.”

“Had a mark. Top of right hand.”

“What kind of mark?”

“A tattoo. Or b-birth mark. Size of a quarter.”

Brill heard voices and heavy footsteps in the DB, and seconds later two paramedics glided through the door and asked her to stand aside with Trent.

She observed in disbelief as the pair worked to save her detective’s life, heartsick that she might have to tell his wife and children he’d been murdered on her watch—and just feet away from armed police officers.

She started to brush the hair out of her eyes and realized her hands were bloody. She shuddered with the realization that whoever thrust a knife into Sean O’Toole had threatened to finish the job when he got to her.

***

Five hours later Brill sat at the conference table in her office with Detective Captain Trent Norris, Detective Beau Jack Rousseaux, Patrol Captain Pate Dickson, and Sheriff Sam Parker trying to assess where they were in the case.

“It’s a miracle Sean made it through surgery.” Brill looked from man to man. “We could be sitting here planning his funeral.”

“He’s too stubborn to die,” Beau Jack said.

“Stubborn’s no match for a knife blade, Detective. I want this animal locked up.”

“Don’t forget he threatened to come after you,” Trent said. “How’d he get in here, anyway?”

Pate’s face turned pink. “One of my sergeants, Tiller, reported that a white man dressed in navy blue coveralls with the Miller’s Air Conditioning logo on the pocket was standing outside the door when he arrived this morning. The guy said was here to fix the AC. He had a toolbox and big smile. Dark hair and mustache. Big guy. Looked fifty to fifty-five.”

“So the sergeant just keyed in the combination and let him in without checking with maintenance?” Beau Jack said. “Real smart move.”

Pate stroked his chin. “Come on, Miller’s service people are in here all the time. The sergeant let down his guard. We’ve all done it.”

“Yeah, well, my partner nearly died because Sergeant Tiller let down his guard.”

“What’s done is done,” Brill said. “It’s not like we have a precedent for this kind of thing in the Sophie Trace PD.”

Beau Jack stuck a Tootsie Pop in his mouth. “I guess we do now.”

“We definitely need to tighten security,” Trent said. “Since we have no idea who this guy is, everyone we bring into the DB to be interviewed will be suspect.”

“I can’t spend the rest of my life in fear of this nutcase coming after me,” Brill said. “I have a job to do. Trent, you take charge of tightening security. All of us need to heighten our awareness of our surroundings. Anything or anyone that doesn’t feel right, check it out.”

Sam’s white eyebrows came together. “I can’t believe y’all were that trusting. My deputies would never let unauthorized individuals into a secured area. They’re trained to follow protocol.”

“So are my officers.” Brill forced herself not to sound defensive. “But those of you in the county sheriff’s department deal with a broader range of criminals. Until now, the Sophie Trace PD had no reason to fear an officer being attacked in a secured area.”

“I’ll cover it in each briefing,” Trent said. “From this day forward, no one gets in the secured area until he has clearance. I don’t care how inconvenient it is to check him out.”

Brill looked over at Pate. “Tell me about your search of the building.”

“No evidence was found in the building, ma’am. My officers searched every nook and cranny and checked the sinks for hair and blood. Doesn’t appear the attacker stopped to clean up.”

“How’d Chavez do with the containment?” she said.

“He contained a two-block area around city hall, checked license plates, and talked with pedestrians. That yielded one female witness who passed the suspect on the sidewalk around 10:45—just after O’Toole was stabbed. The suspect was headed down First Street at a pretty good clip. Our witness says he was overweight, average height, dressed in navy blue coveralls and a black windbreaker and carrying a gray toolbox. She said he was wearing sunglasses and did not have a mustache. She’s working with Tiller and our sketch artist. We ought to have something soon.”

“Did she see which way he went?” Trent said.

Pate shook his head. “Once he passed her, she didn’t give him a second thought until Chavez questioned her.”

“Well,” Brill said, “I’m eager to see the sketch. If this man has threatened to come after me, I’d sure like to see if I recognize him.”

***

A short time later, Brill sat at her desk and studied the artist’s sketch of the man who stabbed Sean O’Toole. Sergeant Tiller was the only one who saw the suspect’s eyes, and the female witness was the only one who saw his mouth without the mustache. He looked vaguely familiar, but she couldn’t put a name to the face or even explain what it was about him that looked familiar.

Her cell phone vibrated, and she read the display screen.

“There you are,” she said. “I guess you got my message?”

“Honey, I’m so sorry,” Kurt Jessup said. “I’ve been following the news. I’m glad Sean pulled through. Must’ve been horrible for you.”

“I thought we were going to lose him.”

She told Kurt everything that had happened from the time Sean O’Toole staggered into her office until the paramedics took him to St. Luke’s in an ambulance—except that the assailant told O’Toole he was coming after her to “finish the job.” Why get into that over the phone?

“Sounds intense. You must be emotionally drained.”

“I don’t think it’s caught up with me yet. It was surreal washing Sean’s blood off my hands, and I had to throw away my uniform shirt. Beau Jack lent me the extra shirt he had in his locker so Emily wouldn’t have to see the mess. Does she know about the stabbing?”

“Yes, but I made sure she’s not planted in front of the TV, listening to the gory details. It’ll just trigger thoughts of the hostage ordeal, and we both know she’s not over it.”

Are any of us? Brill glanced up at the clock. “I’ll be home in forty-five minutes. Is Vanessa there yet? I can hardly wait to see her.”

“She’ll be here between seven and eight. Said not to plan on her for dinner.”

“By the time I get home, it’ll be too late to cook anything,” Brill said. “And you know what Friday night is like. If we go out, we’ll have to wait forever, and I don’t want Vanessa to come home to an empty house.”

“I’ve got it covered, honey. I bought a baked chicken and quart of potato salad at the grocery store. We’ve got stuff here for a green salad. That should work.”

“What would I do without you?”

Kurt laughed. “I have no idea.”

“I’ll see you soon. I love you.”

“Love you, too.”

Brill hung up the phone and looked out the window. Through the leafy trees and beyond the ridges of hazy green foothills, the blue-gray silhouette of the Great Smoky Mountains dominated the early evening sky. She sat for a moment and just enjoyed the beauty and the calm.

Lord, thank you for letting Sean pull through.

Her office phone rang, and she picked it up. “Yes, LaTeesha.”

“Captain Donovan from the Memphis PD is on line one for you.”

“Thanks.” She pushed the blinking button. “Hello, John.”

“Hey. It’s great to hear your voice. Saw you on the news last fall. I figured you’d make a name for yourself, but I didn’t think you’d go to such extreme measures.”

She smiled. “Things got pretty crazy, all right. So are you enjoying my old office?”

“Not today. I’ve got bad news … Zack Rogers was stabbed night before last. Happened in his driveway. Some worthless piece of garbage came up behind him and stuck a knife in his gut, and said to tell District Attorney Cromwell he was coming after him. I didn’t call you because the doc said Zack was going to be all right. But his heart gave out …”—John’s voice cracked—“an hour ago. None one saw it coming. His kids are still in high school, and with their mother dead … well, it’s a tragic loss. I knew you’d want to know since you and Zack were partners for so long.”

Brill felt a wave of nausea sweep over her, a decade of memories flashing through her mind in an instant.

“The thing is,” John said, “we knew Zack was being targeted because one of my detectives was stabbed last week, and the perp told him he was coming after Zack. We offered Zack protection, but you know how independent he was—bound and determined he could take care of himself.”

Brill’s heart pounded so hard she was sure he could hear it. “John, one of my detectives was stabbed today just outside the detective bureau. The attacker told him he was coming after me, to finish the job. This can’t be a coincidence.”

There was a long moment of dead air, and she figured John was processing the implications.

“You and Zack helped put away lots of perps, Brill. And Jason Cromwell was district attorney during the time you two were partners. Did anybody ever threaten you?”

“Are you kidding? All the time. We blew it off.”

“Well, looks like one of them was dead serious. Anybody in particular stand out?”

“Sure, Bart and Sampson Rhodes. But they’re lifers and not eligible for parole. Zack and I busted them what, nine or ten years ago? If they had been serious about taking us out, they could’ve snapped their fingers and gotten it done in nine or ten minutes.”

“Maybe they’re patient,”

“Or maybe this is someone else,” Brill said. “Someone who was forced to wait a long time for the chance to get even—someone who served out his sentence. Someone who wouldn’t think of hiring a hit man, but rather delights in the systematic elimination of the people who put him away. Someone who enhances his enjoyment by first stabbing a person who is close to the intended victim and making sure that person lives long enough to tell the intended victim that he or she is next.”

“You’ve worked with the FBI profilers so long you actually sound like one.”

“Unfortunately, John, I think I’m right.”

Kathy Herman

Author Bio:

Best-selling suspense novelist Kathy Herman has written fifteen novels, including CBA bestsellers The Real Enemy, Tested by Fire and All Things Hidden, since retiring from her family’s Christian bookstore business. Kathy and her husband, Paul, have three grown children and five grandchildren, and live in Tyler, TX.

My Review:

This is my first introduction to Kathy Herman, but it won’t be my last! She delves deeply into the lives and hearts of her characters, revealing their personal thoughts and deep feelings throughout all the turmoil: Vanessa showing up at home pregnant and unmarried; Brill’s disappointment in her daughter’s lack of morals; her daughter’s indecisive decision-making about her future with or without her baby; her youngest daughter’s PTSD from a previous trauma (book one: The Real Enemy); her own marriage to her husband and his issues and concerns, finding the deadbeat father of Vanessa’s baby; and the safety of her family, her officers, and herself while the murderer is still at large.

Kathy’s fast-paced rhythm of suspense throughout the book keeps you gripping the pages of this novel till the end. Her use of personal prayers and Scripture makes the book special to me–faith in action. Many of her characters are well-grounded in Scripture and are living it out. For those who aren’t, there is always God’s grace. This is the type of Christian fiction that endears books to me.

I highly recommend you read this book, but encourage you to start with the first in the series, The Real Enemy. If The Last Word is any indication of her other writings, I’ll be reading more!

This book was provided free from Audra at The B & B Media Group, Inc., for my review and blog. I enjoy reading, and blog on books I can feel confident in highly suggesting. Thanks to Audra and B & B Media Group.