Thursday, February 11, 2016

Beyond the Silence by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse


About the book:
Beyond the Silence (Bethany House, January 2016)

The shadows over this olive grove hide more than just the truth.

Lillian Porter has always wanted to fulfill her mother’s dream of going west, so when she hears about a nanny position in Angels Camp, California, she defies her grandfather and takes a chance on a new future. But she quickly wonders if she made the right choice. Murky rumors swirl around Woodward Colton, her new employer, but the gossip doesn’t match the man Lillian comes to know.

Still, something dark did happen in the family’s past. Lillian’s seven-year-old charge hasn’t spoken in over a year. Gently, Lillian tries to coax him out of his shell, hoping he’ll one day feel safe enough to share what scared him. But the Colton olive farm is no longer a safe place. Lillian encounters suspicious characters on their land and mysterious damage done to the farm. When the housekeeper is brutally attacked, the town once again suspects the worst. Will discovering the truth help Lillian clear the name of the man she has come to love–or will it endanger her even more?



About the authors:

Tracie Peterson is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 novels. Tracie also teaches writing workshops at a variety of conferences on subjects such as inspirational romance and historical research. She and her family live in Montana.

Kimberley Woodhouse is a multipublished author of fiction and nonfiction. A popular speaker/teacher, she's shared her theme of Joy Through Trials with over 150,000 people at more than a thousand venues across the country. She lives, writes, and homeschools with her husband of twenty-plus years and their two awesome teens live in Colorado.


Margie’s Comments: Combining the story-telling strengths of two of my favorite Christian authors is a huge success in my reading enjoyment. Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse recently released their second book collaboration, Beyond the Silence, and brought a new and wonderful voice to the historical mystery/suspense genre. Even in the middle of all the necessary extra work of packing up and moving two states west, I found it hard to put the book down. 

I fell in love with little Jimmy Colton from the very first page. And his father’s grief at losing his beloved wife—and his reputation as a result of gossiping tongues—pulled at my heartstrings. Cheering Lillian’s spunk as she defied her grandfather and moved to California to help young Jimmy, Woody, and Mrs. Goodman was easy. I became so involved in their story, it will be a long time before I quit wondering at what the future held for them.

At times, the suspense was very intense, but it kept me ready long past when I should have been in bed. And if I hadn’t had this cross-country move going on at the same time, I would have been very tempted to read this book in one sitting. The book is well researched and brings to life the times of the California gold rush and its aftermath. So if you are a fan of historical mystery/suspense, I can highly recommend Beyond the Silence by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Bronner by Sherri Burgess


About the book:
Bronner: A Journey to Understand (New Hope Publishers, January 2016)
God teaches and refines us through pain and suffering. Author Sherri Burgess, wife of Rick Burgess of The Rick and Bubba Show, knows this to be true. After the earthly death of her youngest son, Bronner, Burgess asked, “Why?” And God answered.
Journey with her through this powerful testimony of healing to understand the purpose behind the pain. An empowering resource for book-club discussion or small-group Bible study, this is much more than simply a retelling of an inspiring story. It is a call to action beckoning us to know our Holy God like never before.



About the author:
Sherri Burgess’ life is a beckoning for you to know a Holy God like you have never known Him before. The wife of Rick Burgess of The Rick and Bubba Show, a nationally syndicated talk radio show, Sherri is someone who now passionately pursues holiness and inspires others to do the same. A seasoned Bible teacher, writer and blogger, she has in recent years answered God’s call as a women’s ministry speaker. This mother of five stays active with her family in Birmingham, Alabama.




Margie’s Comments: I’m a little late with my post for Bronner by Sherri Burgess. But that’s because I signed up for the blog tour before I knew we would be moving this month, this week! However, I snatched a few minutes here and there between packing boxes and the U-pack trailer to read the book and prepare my review.

Bronner was both easy and hard to read. I have a hard time reading about children going home to Jesus seemingly “before their time” and certainly before we are ready to let them go. Yet we know that God has numbered all our days. He isn’t surprised when a child comes to Him in heaven before his parents. Yet Sherri Burgess tells her story with a conversational style that makes you feel like you’re sitting right next to her, having a friendly chat.

One quotation from the Reader’s Guide included at the back of the book has stuck with me since I first read it: “It is my firmly held belief that the greatest strides in our faith walk come through our suffering, but I also firmly believe that unless we are rooted and grounded in faith beforehand, before the great storms of life hit, we are likely to fall and fall hard.” The truth in this statement is simple and profound. The Lord readies us for what is ahead, so that in the stormy times of life when it seems everything is falling apart, we find our faith in a good and loving God isn’t shaken. Our faith is as strong as the foundation it is built upon.

It is always faith-stretching to read of others’ real-life experiences in which they prove God’s faithfulness and love and strength. While my “platform” of influence may never be as large as the Burgesses, how I respond in times of difficulty will still affect those around me. I want to bring glory to God rather than dishonor Him in all my responses.

I’m grateful for the publisher providing me with a complimentary copy of Bronner in exchange for a review.

Monday, January 4, 2016

At Love's Bidding by Regina Jennings


About the Book:
At Love’s Bidding (Bethany House, December 2015)

She sells priceless antiques. He sells livestock by the pound. Is he really the man to make a bid for her heart?

After helping her grandfather at their Boston auction house, Miranda Wimplegate discovers she's accidentally sold a powerful family's prized portrait to an anonymous bidder. Desperate to appease the people who could ruin them forever, they track it to the Missouri Ozarks and make an outlandish offer to buy the local auction house and all its holdings before the painting can move again.

Upon crossing the country, however, Miranda and her grandfather discover their new auction house doesn't deal in fine antiques, but in livestock. And its frustratingly handsome manager, Wyatt Ballentine, is annoyed to discover his fussy new bosses don't know a thing about the business he's single-handedly kept afloat. Faced with more heads of cattle than they can count---but no mysterious painting---Miranda and Wyatt form an unlikely but charged partnership to try and prevent a bad situation from getting worse.

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1QJGxOK

About the Author:
Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a history minor. She is the author of A Most Inconvenient Marriage, Sixty Acres and a Bride, and Caught in the Middle, and contributed a novella to A Match Made in Texas. Regina has worked at the Mustang News and First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She now lives outside Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, with her husband and four children.

Connect with Regina: website, Twitter, Facebook


Margie’s Comments: What better way to start the New Year than with a Regina Jennings historical romance! I was first attracted to the book when I read that a good portion of the book was set in the Missouri Ozarks—where I live. The premise of the book (in the story blurb) also intrigued me. Auctions are a big deal in the Ozarks, even today, nearly 150 years after At Love’s Bidding was set. 

And I wasn’t disappointed at all. At Love’s Bidding is a fun read, full of quirky yet lovable characters and some not-so-loveable characters. We see Miranda in the first chapter as a young woman who wants to help those less fortunate than herself, shy, unsure of herself, and yet showing a “violent streak” when the underdog is threatened. And we meet Wyatt at his “worst,” but then we’re totally drawn in when we see what has provoked him. The story takes a hilarious turn when Miranda and her grandfather realize they have bought a livestock auction house. There are several laugh out loud moments when they try to make their first sale more like their elegant antiques auction house in Boston, even with their smelly wares. The romance between Wyatt and Miranda is done well, fun to follow, and comes to a satisfying conclusion.

If you’re looking for a good book to read at the beginning of a new year, you won’t be disappointed with At Love’s Bidding.

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

Lightning

Revell (October 6, 2015)

by

Bonnie S. Calhoun



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


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.


ABOUT THE BOOK:



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)

by

Kathleen Y'Barbo



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


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.


ABOUT THE BOOK:



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.