Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Ology by Marty Machowski

The Ology: Ancient Truths Ever New
(New Growth Press, October 2015)

A page-turning storybook of theology for kids

In the cellar of the old stone cathedral, Carla and Timothy uncover a life-changing treasure, a carefully wrapped ancient book known as The Ology. What adults might describe as a beautifully illustrated storybook of systematic theology, the kids discover to be a story of adventure, mystery, and wonder that leads them to the truth about God, themselves, and the world around them.

Truth is for kids, not just for adults! So The Ology gives kids of all ages a beginner’s theology book to help them understand who God is and how we, as his children, relate to him. Arranged within a traditional systematic theological framework, each truth in The Ology is also connected to the larger redemptive story of Scripture. The doctrine of God, for example, is presented in the larger framework of creation, where the attributes of God are more clearly on display. The Ology takes abstract theological concepts and makes them easier to understand with the use of creative examples, illustrations, and analogies. The goal is not to say everything that could be said about a theological topic, but rather to share the key thoughts behind a theological concept. The Ology is a starting point to learning theology and aims to create a hunger and desire in children to learn more as they grow older.

Designed for six-year-olds through preteens, this flexible resource includes built-in adaptations for use with younger or older children, so that entire families can enjoy it together. Read The Ology to preschoolers, read it with grade-school kids, and let older kids discover the “hidden” truths by reading the corresponding Scripture passages for each section. However you read it, The Ology will give your children a gift that will last a lifetime—a solid foundation of life-changing biblical truth that will point them to the God who loves them and gave himself for them.

Check out this preview!

A companion The Ology CD from Bob Kauflin and Sovereign Music is also available.

Learn more and purchase a copy.

 Marty Machowski is a Family Life Pastor at Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, where he has served on the pastoral staff for over twenty years. He is the author of the Gospel Story for Kids series, which includes "The Gospel Story Bible," "Long Story Short," "Old Story New," and the "Gospel Story Curriculum," as well as the Advent devotional and curriculum "Prepare Him Room." He and his wife, Lois, and their six children reside in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Margie’s Comments: With a 17-month-old granddaughter, I’m looking for books that teach sound biblical doctrine without being dry and boring. While The Ology is written for children a little bit older, there are still things that her parents can do with the book to give her a strong foundation in the tenets of our faith. (Thankfully, she has parents who want this for their children.)

I love the short chapters, and the illustrations are spectacular. Not only does each page of text contains Scripture, each illustration also has other Scripture references to expand and make the book useful to read over and over with children as they grow older. As a former elementary schoolteacher, I look for these possibilities when looking for teaching material. While the book was written for children, its usefulness expands well into the teen years and adulthood. I’m very impressed with what Marty Machowski and New Growth Press has done with this book.

And just for the record, while I received a complimentary copy of The Ology from the publisher in exchange for a review, I’m passing the book along to my son and daughter-in-love to use as they train their children to love the Lord and His Word.

Friday, November 6, 2015

War for the Waking World by Wayne Thomas Batson

The War for the Waking World 
(Thomas Nelson, October 2015)

About the Book:
Would you be willing to fight for your dreams?

Fifteen-year-old Archer Keaton has the ability to enter and explore his dreams. He is a Dreamtreader, one of three selected from each generation. Their mission: to protect the waking world from the Nightmare Lord who dwells beyond the Slumber Gate. But as Archer’s dreams become more dangerous and threatening, so too does his waking life.

In this fast-paced conclusion to the exciting fantasy trilogy, the dream world and the waking world bleed into each other when a rift is formed between the two. People in the real world suddenly find their waking lives resemble their wildest dreams. Now it’s up to Archer and his fellow Dreamtreaders to race to reverse the rift before too much damage is done and to battle Archer’s ex-best friend, Kara, who sits on the throne of the Nightmare Lord. Kara is building an army of her own. Will Archer be strong enough to stand against her?

Learn more and purchase a copy.

About the Author:
Wayne Thomas Batson is an American writer. He has been married to his wife, Mary Lu, for seventeen years and has four children. He currently works as a teacher at Folly Quarter Middle School teaching sixth grade English language arts and is the youngest of four children. His most recent series, "Dreamtreaders" published by Thomas Nelson Inc (2014), is a modern-day paranormal YA adventure dealing with the subject of dreams.

Margie’s Comments: War for the Waking World is the final book in the Dreamtreaders trilogy by Wayne Thomas Batson. I am grateful to Thomas Nelson for providing ebook copies of the first two books in the series so the third one wasn’t confusing to read. 

As one of three Dreamtreaders in his generation, Archer is faced with having to deal with the rift of the dream world breaking into the waking world . . . virtually alone. Even his best friend is now sitting on the Nightmare Lord’s throne, turning her back on their friendship. The characters carry odd names, but they are well drawn and develop and grow (or fall backward in their development) into the full stature of their roles in both the dream and waking worlds. War for the Waking World begins with Archer and his family experiencing the nightmare and chaos of the rift blending the two worlds together. The plot of the third book has its own clear arc, but it also contains the final stage of the overall plot arc. I love the author’s descriptions, making the dream world believable. The action is nonstop until the very end where all the loose ends are tied up with satisfactory freshness and hope for the future, a place where evil is locked up and truth reigns supreme. 

While War for the Waking World is mostly a standalone novel, I would recommend that you read this series in order. By reading the third book first, you could be lost the entire time trying to figure out the Dreamtreaders’ worlds, both the dream world and the waking world. This series is true fantasy, so if this genre doesn’t appeal to you, you probably won’t care for this. However, for one who loves fantasy, including the idea of alternate worlds bleeding into the “real” world, I highly recommend this series.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Valley of Decision by Lynne Gentry

Valley of Decision
(Howard, September 2015)

Every choice has a consequence in the explosive conclusion to the Carthage Chronicles as Lisbeth returns to third-century Carthage for a thrilling final adventure.

Thirteen years ago, Lisbeth made an impossible decision—leave third-century Carthage and her husband Cyprian behind for good. She knew it was to protect her daughter Maggie, so Lisbeth gathered the strength to move on with her life.

All these years, Lisbeth has thrown herself into her work and raising her headstrong daughter, all to live up to the promise she made to Cyprian. But Maggie is sick of being protected. In an act of teenage rebellion Maggie decides to do what her mother can’t—secretly returning to the third century on a quest to bring her father back, leaving Lisbeth no choice but to follow.

With Maggie’s surprise arrival in Carthage, chaos ensues. She finds her grandmother on trial for murder and attempts to save her, but instead the diversion sparks a riot that nearly destroys the plagued city. Only one thing will appease the wrath of the new proconsul of Carthage: the death of the instigator.

Will Lisbeth arrive in time to save her daughter from the clutches of Rome? How can God possibly redeem such a slew of unwise decisions and deep regrets? Filled with heart-wrenching twists and riveting action, Valley of Decision brings the romantic adventure epic, The Carthage Chronicles, to an electrifying conclusion.


Lynne Gentry has written for numerous publications. She is a professional acting coach, theater director, and playwright. Lynne is an inspirational speaker and dramatic performer who loves spending time with her family and medical therapy dog.

Margie’s Comments: I’ve been privileged to read and review all three books in Lynne Gentry’s Carthage Chronicles. But even knowing the twists and turns the story had taken in the first two books, I was still surprised at several plot twists in this exciting concluding third book, Valley of Decision. Yet when I tried to analyze why I was surprised, I couldn’t really put it down to any one thing. The characters acted in the ways I would have expected from them. The story made perfect sense. And the author stayed true to her writing style—one I have always enjoyed. I truly loved the time travel aspect of the story, combining the historical with modern day technology and medical expertise. (Did I mention I’m also from a family with a strong medical background?) Even my husband, who usually avoids anything “speculative,” including time travel, has enjoyed reading this series. The only negative I have to say about the first two books is that they left me hanging, having to wait on the next book to have some closure. However this third book neatly wrapped up every loose end. I highly recommend The Carthage Chronicles by Lynne Gentry.  

Friday, October 23, 2015

Miracle Drug by Richard L. Mabry, M.D.

About the book:
Miracle Drug (Abingdon, September 2015)
Overcoming these odds will take more than a miracle drug—it will take a miracle.
The infection wasn’t supposed to happen, but it did. The treatment was supposed to take care of it, but it didn’t. Then Dr. Josh Pearson discovers why—his patients, including the former President of the United States, have been dosed with a different strain of the original virus, one that is universally fatal. The only chance for survival is treatment with an experimental drug, but the manufacturer might already have discarded its supply.

As if treating the President of the United States isn’t stressful enough, the situation goes from bad to worse when Rachel Moore, a nurse Josh is falling in love with, falls ill. With the nation’s eyes on him, Josh must pull off a miracle to save a man who holds a good deal of power and the woman who holds his heart.

Learn more and purchase a copy.

About the author:

Dr. Richard Mabry is a retired physician who writes “medical suspense with heart.” His novels have won multiple awards: a semifinalist for International Thriller Writers’ debut novel; finalists for the Carol Award, Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award, and Romantic Times’ Reader’s Choice Award; and both finalist and winner of the Selah Award. Miracle Drug is his ninth published novel. He and his wife live in Frisco, Texas.

Margie’s Comments: I love medical mysteries and thrillers, and Doc Richard Mabry tops the list of authors I enjoy reading in this genre. His newest release, Miracle Drug, doesn’t disappoint my expectations when reading a medical thriller. 

The plot is well paced and starts off with a bang . . . and ends with a bang, as well. J The characters are “real” and well written. From the untimely death of the former President’s chief medical physician to the explosive ending, the characters grow, change, and in many cases end up much stronger spiritually, emotionally, and physically, knowing that in the end God is always in control.
The only thing I don’t like about reading medical thrillers is the symptoms my mind tries to imitate. I have come to the conclusion that I have an overactive imagination! If you or someone you know loves the complexities of the medical profession and pharmacology, I highly recommend Miracle Drug by Richard Mabry.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Lightning by Bonnie S. Calhoun

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


Revell (October 6, 2015)


Bonnie S. Calhoun


Bonnie S. Calhoun is Owner/Director of Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, owner/publisher of Christian Fiction Online Magazine, Northeast Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and the ACFW ‘2011 Mentor of the Year.”

She loves to write with body count, blood, or blowing things up. She also has mad skills at coding HTML, and website design. And she lives in a log cabin in the woods with fifteen acres and a pond full of bass, though she'd rather buy fish at the grocery store. Bonnie shares her domain with a husband and two cats, all of whom think she’s waitstaff!

Her latest series is a YA dystopian with Revell titled Stone Braide Chronicles. The first book Thunder published in 2014. The second book Lightning published Oct 2015. There are also two FREE e-book short stories. Tremors is the prequel to Thunder, and Aftershock (short story) comes before Lightning.


After she found her real father, life for Selah should have felt settled. But the horrors have just begun. In her broken world of toxic earth and tribal clashes, Selah must battle the forces of nature alongside those in the Mountain who are calling for her blood. Haunted by the pain of mounting losses, she forges on, seeking her lost family and uncovering new mysteries. But the ultimate betrayal of her own body may soon make her quest impossible as it becomes apparent that what has made her new could also drive her to a life of madness.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Lightning, go HERE.

Review to come later.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Methuselah Project by Rick Barry

The Methuselah Project (Kregel, September 2015)

Nazi scientists started many experiments. One never ended.

Roger Greene is a war hero. Raised in an orphanage, the only birthright he knows is the feeling that he was born to fly. Flying against the Axis Powers in World War II is everything he always dreamed—until the day he’s shot down and lands in the hands of the enemy.

When Allied bombs destroy both his prison and the mad genius experimenting on POWs, Roger survives. Within hours, his wounds miraculously heal, thanks to those experiments. The Methuselah Project is a success—but this ace is still not free. Seventy years later, Roger hasn’t aged a day, but he has nearly gone insane. This isn’t Captain America—just a lousy existence only made passable by a newfound faith. The Bible provides the only reliable anchor for Roger’s sanity and his soul. When he finally escapes, there’s no angelic promise or personal prophecy of deliverance, just confusion. It’s 2015—and the world has become an unrecognizable place.

Katherine Mueller—crack shot, genius, and real Southern Belle—offers to help him find his way home. Can he convince her of the truth of his crazy story? Can he continue to trust her when he finds out she works for the very organization he’s trying to flee?

Thrown right into pulse-pounding action from the first page, readers will find themselves transported back in time to a believable, full-colored past, and then catapulted into the present once more. The historical back-and-forth adds a constantly moving element of suspense to keep readers on the edge of their seats.

Rick Barry is the author of "Gunner's Run," another World War II novel, "Kiriath's Quest," and more than 200 articles and fiction stories. In addition to being a World War II buff, he is the director of church planting ministries at BIEM, a Christian ministry operating in Eastern Europe. He holds a degree in foreign languages, speaks Russian, and has visited Europe more than fifty times. Rick lives in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Margie’s Comments: Several years ago, I discovered I like books with a blending of a historical story with the contemporary, a kind of truth and consequences type of story. When I first considered Rick Barry’s The Methuselah Project for review, I was intrigued, not sure where a story with the hero who never ages could go when he was introduced to the twenty-first century. The changes in society, technology, and every other area of life, especially in the US are so completely alien to the world Roger Greene grew up in. Yet, as he and Katherine meet, learn each other’s stories, and work together to seek the truth in their mixed-up world, I was pleased to see how believable and real the premise is.

The author has created characters I like and desire to cheer on through the end of the book. In fact, they are still with me even after I finished reading the book. Because of the demands of my life outside of reading, I had to set aside the book occasionally, but the story drew me back more frequently than usual and it kept me reading long after I should have put it down. While I don’t want to give any spoilers here, I will only say that I’m wishing the story could have gone on. Of necessity, not all the threads were neatly tied up and concluded. So this story will continue on in my own imagination, as will Roger and Katherine continue to live.

So if you’d like a fresh perspective on World War II, The Methuselah Project delivers that. The author has definitely done his homework in research and storytelling. I will be looking for more books by Rick Barry in the future.

Firefly Summer by Kathleen Y'Barbo

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Firefly Summer

Redbud Press (June 23, 2015)


Kathleen Y'Barbo


RITA and Carol award nominee Kathleen Y’Barbo is the best-selling, award-winning author of more than forty novels, novellas, and young adult books. In all, more than one million copies of her books are currently in print in the US and abroad, and her books have been translated into Dutch, German, and Spanish, to name a few.

Kathleen is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. She holds a BBA from Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School and a certification in Paralegal Studies, and is a former member of the Texas Bar Association’s Paralegal Division.

A tenth-generation Texan, Kathleen Y’Barbo has four children of her own as well as seven bonus kids she gladly inherited when she married her own hero in combat boots (read about their real-life romance here!). Kathleen is proud to be a military wife, even if it did mean giving up her Texas drivers license.


A new cowboy romance from award-winning author Kathleen Y'Barbo.

Trey’s biggest challenge isn’t performing surgery … it’s restoring Sessa’s heart!

Artist Sessa Chambers may never recover from losing her prodigal son. Even as she grieves the tragic decisions that led to his death, and left her with a toddler to raise, she’s asked to work on her dream project—restoring carousel horses for the Smithsonian. But she can’t do it on her own …

Dr. Trey Brown can’t pick up a scalpel again. Yes, he acted in self-defense, but the events of that awful night haunt him. He was trained to save lives, not take them. When he goes to the young man’s widowed mother to apologize, she’s not at all what he expected. For one thing, she’s not as alone as he thought—not with the fearsome ladies of the Pies, Books, and Jesus Book Club in her corner. For another, she’s beautiful, and being in her presence is more jolting than any eight-second bronco ride from his former rodeo days. Before he knows it, she’s captured his heart as easily as they capture the fireflies gracing Sessa’s Texas ranch.

How can they overcome their past to embrace a future together?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Firefly Summer, go HERE.

Margie's Comments: Oh my! Kathleen Y'Barbo has done it again! I could hardly put the book down once I started reading. Not only is Firefly Summer a romance, it's also a story about the importance of community in our lives, especially women. But men—as depicted in Trey—also need a network of other men who stand beside them, no matter what, who encourage and pray with and for them. Life isn't easy, and it's worse when we try to go it alone! God didn't make us loners, but so many times we ignore His plan. Firefly Summer kept me laughing, crying, cheering, and identifying the women in my life who are the real counterparts to the ones Kathleen writes about. And who doesn't love a cowboy? Sigh. (Wink!!) For a heartwarming yet challenging read, I highly recommend Firefly Summer.

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Finishing School by Valerie Woerner

About the book:
The Finishing School: How One Book Nerd Began Living What She Learned (Nyree Press, August 2015)

Are you tired of waiting for change to happen in your life? Do you feel stuck, even though you want to live more intentionally?

In today’s world, our most precious pursuit of a life well lived gets squeezed out by the silliest of things: binging on Netflix or ice cream, shopping trips for things we don’t need, bad habits we can’t seem to get a handle on, and so much more. Valerie has been there despite knowing what she wanted for her life. Actually do it? That’s the challenge.
After gobbling up all the non-fiction and self-help books her donut-filled belly could handle, she decided it was time to put her knowledge to good use and start actually living it out. You will hear about her journey through victories and plenty of failures and find practical tips to apply to your own pursuit of holiness. You will find homework at the end of each chapter that includes a worksheet to put real change in motion for your own life as well as recommended books to further study those topics that really test you.

About the Author:
Valerie Woerner is passionate about inspiring women to live a life of peace and joy. She is owner of Val Mari Paper and design prayer journals and other products inspired by her own desire to connect with God in a real way in everyday life. She was born and raised in Lafayette, Louisiana, and resides in a sweet, simple bungalow with husband Tyler and daughter Vivi Mae.

Margie’s Comments: I am very impressed with Valerie Woerner’s The Finishing School. Based on the concept of young ladies being sent to finishing school to refine their social skills, Valerie has come up with a “program” of learning about and seeking refinement in our spiritual lives. After a chapter of introduction, she begins the study by focusing on the foundation of our relationship with the Lord: prayer and Bible study.

At the end of each chapter, she has a section entitled “Homework.” Here, she sends you either to the workbook that accompanies this book —you can order from her online shop (—or to her website to download the chapter worksheet. She also lists resources to read for more information. Also in her shop are journals of all kinds, for both men and women, if you like having everything together in one place.  

She suggests at least three ways to read The Finishing School, tailored to each person’s learning strengths and abilities, knowing that some topics may come easier to some than for others. After discussing prayer and Bible study, the author also covers other topics, such as setting goals, dealing with distractions, learning self-control, and many more. Each chapter is short, easily read in just a few minutes, but depending on your desire for gaining victory in each area, she suggests you take as much time as you need in digging deeper into each topic. Her southern way of talking adds to the easy conversational style, making you feel like you’re sitting in her living room having a nice chat over tea or coffee.

The Finishing School is a great individual study or small group study, one that I highly recommend for anyone who is seeking a deeper, more intimate relationship with the Lord. I especially like the chapters on living more simply, setting boundaries, and getting enough rest, living within margins. I plan to re-read the book at a slower pace, so that I can work through each chapter to gain as many benefits as possible from this study. 

(I received a copy of The Finishing School from the author and LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Until My Name Is Known by Sonya Contreras

About the book:
Until My Name Is Known (Bull Head Press, July 2015)

The Exodus of the Jews from Egypt is a love story between God and His people. God woos His people to Himself as He prepares them to leave. Before leaving, God must fight Pharaoh for possession of His people. See how God changes all people: some for the better, others not. None stay the same. How will He change you? Can you trust a God who destroyed a nation before your eyes? Would you want Him as your Friend?

See God free His people from Egypt’s bonds before a watching world. Trace His finger in the lives He touches. The time: 2450 BC. The Place: Old Kingdom of Egypt where Pharaoh is god. His people worship him. Israel’s God arrives. He challenges Pharaoh. His power touches all people. They must change. Some do not concede. They suffer. Others yield. They find freedom.

Until My Name Is Known brings all to see the one true God. Read it to see Him. Today’s historians and archaeologists puzzle over the fall of the Old Kingdom of Egypt, but the world at that time heard of God. The world knew that He is the Lord. His Name was proclaimed in all the earth.

Learn more and purchase a copy.

About the author:
Growing up with five sisters, Sonya Contreras asked God many questions, even when she did not like His answers. Graduating from Cedarville University and Institute for Creation Research with a Masters Degree in Science Education did not stop her questions. Marrying her best friend and homeschooling their eight sons, she found that dreams do come true, in spite of unanswered questions. Trusting God, who knows all answers, she shares questions that matter weekly at

Find Sonya online: website, Twitter

Margie’s Comments: 
Until My Name Is Known by Sonya Contreras is a well-researched biblical fiction, retelling the story of Moses’s call to set God’s people free from slavery in Egypt. The events of this first book in a series covers the burning bush through the crossing of the Red Sea and the Egyptian nation’s destruction when the water closed over the army following the Israelites. While the story is historically accurate, I had trouble getting into it because of the author’s lack of sentence structure variation, which is an indication of telling rather than showing. Also, several times through the book, I questioned the choice of POV character. For example, instead of experiencing the burning bush through Moses’s eyes and ears, we read of it after the fact through Zipporah’s extreme bias against her husband’s God. Instead of making the characters come alive and be “real,” these POV choices in most cases made them wooden and static. Finally, as a Christian and a strong proponent of God’s Word and its importance in the life of the believer, I like to see a strong spiritual thread in fiction. But it needs to be such an integral part of the story that it flows naturally out of the characters themselves. I don’t need to be hit over the head with the “theme” over and over again. In Until My Name Is Known, the theme of God's name being known throughout the world is inherent in the biblical story and in Moses's life, so having it spelled out for the reader, even to the very end, is redundant and frankly insults the reader's intelligence. As a freelance editor who has worked for several traditional CBA publishers, i couldn't help noticing several technical issues with the typesetting, mostly with word breaks and capitalization choices that could easily have been avoided by checking with the industry-standard dictionary and style manuals. However, once I acknowledged these deterrents to reading the story for enjoyment, I was able to skim through the book, appreciating the author's research and how she wove it into a fictional account that is accurate to the Scripture and the time in history.