Saturday, August 28, 2010

Hand of Fate by Lis Wiehl

Hand of Fate by Lis Wiehl is the second book in the Triple Threat series. Three women - a TV crime reporter, a federal prosecutor, and a FBI agent - work together to solve crimes and the problems that pop up in their lives. When Jim Fate, a controversial radio personality, is murdered, the three friends come together again to solve the murder. In addition, each struggles with their own personal situation - pregnancy, addiction, and facing the past.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I love a good suspense novel and this one reads a lot like James Patterson's Women's Murder Club series - not too graphic or scary, but with enough to keep you hanging on. I also liked how the author worked spiritual themes in through one of the characters ... more realistic than many Christian books. And while this is the second book in a series, it seems that each pretty much stands alone. I can't wait to read the other two books in the series.

I would definitely recommend this book if you enjoy suspense / mysteries!

4 stars (out of 5)

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson's Booksneeze program in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Friday, August 27, 2010

LifeChange Series: Psalms by NavPress

The newest in the LifeChange Series by NavPress is a study on Psalms. The writers approach the book of Psalms as a book of prayers. The ten chapters focus on topics like prayers of worship and praise and prayer and waiting on the Lord.

Each chapter states a lesson objective, a desired action, and a list of psalms for this lesson. A combination of commentary, selected readings, questions, and word studies allow individuals to process and gain a better understanding of the book of Psalms. The margins of each page include additional questions or suggestions for study that will allow the user to take their personal study deeper. Chapters end with suggestions for group study that will help new group leaders facilitate study and discussion easily.

I have done several of these studies in the past and always love them. They're great for individual study or for a group setting. Plus, I can do the "basic" study for each chapter or go deeper with the questions in the margins if I have more time or if I want to learn more about a specific topic.

I would HIGHLY recommend this study (or any other in the series) for those looking for a new devotional study.

5 stars (out of 5)

I received a free copy of this study from NavPress in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sterling's Surgery Update

Update from Roger (Sterling's dad): Out of surgery, moving arms & legs, took lumbar drain out, new drain out of head, surgeon was very aggressive-got all tumor he could see. Thinks maybe more in another area-would need a future surgery, won’t know until MRI Thur, thinks there will be some field of vision issues. Thankful in God’s protection over him…he may not be able to fully see me, but I will be able to see him.

Please continue to pray for this precious little boy.

Keep Praying for Sterling

Sterling's surgery yesterday went really well. Sterling did great through a 7-hour surgery. He didn't have to get any blood transfusions, which was a big plus. The doctor got everything he could see.

Sterling had an MRI this morning at 8:00 to see what (if anything) was left behind. The MRI revealed more tumor in difficult places.

Surgery is scheduled for 1:15 this afternoon. This is not completely unexpected as the OR was reserved several weeks ago in anticipation that this might be necessary. However, it was disappointing news after the great report from the surgeon yesterday.

Please keep praying!!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Update on Sterling

This is the latest update on Sterling:

From Roger (Sterling's dad) ...

Waking in recovery, got all tumor he could see (said it was a good bit) MRI in am will confirm, moving feet & gripping w/ hands, vitals good. Took some nerves/veins-1 big one that was in the way & opened up more resection, doc feels good, Sterling was strong through 7 hrs. Thankful. In recovery asking if he is still in OR or the wake up room? Wants water and some food. Nurse told us he is being Sterling. See him in a few. Sterling is doing well in Recovery & being moved to PICU. He has his spirit.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Solitary by Travis Thrasher

Solitary by Travis Thrasher is intense. There's no other way to say it. I'm not sure if there's such a genre as Christian Suspense or Christian Horror, but I think this novel fits either.

Chris and his mother move to Solitary to make a new start. Upon arriving, though, it's apparent that Chris's uncle has gone missing, strange things are going on at his school, and the girl of his dreams has some serious secrets.

I wasn't really sure what to expect with this book, but I literally could not put it down. I had to continually refrain from flipping to the end to find out what happened and what in the world was going on. Definitely a page-turner and will keep you hooked from beginning to end.

I was a little disappointed with the spiritual aspects of the book. The book left me feeling a little ... hopeless.

4 stars (out of 5)

I received this book free from The B&B Media Group in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Pray for Sterling

I don't normally post anything but book review on here, but I wanted as many people as possible to see this. Please feel free to pass it on to anyone who would be willing to pray.

Sterling Davis is a precious 5-year-old little boy who was diagnosed with a non-malignant brain tumor in October 2009. He had surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible in October. A small piece of the tumor was left behind and the doctors have watched it closely. Over the past few months, the tumor has grown. Additionally Sterling has several seizures each day. These seem to be unrelated to the tumor, but are debilitating. The doctors have chosen to move forward with surgery to remove the rest of the tumor and then will begin to address the seizures with surgery and new medications.

Sterling's next surgery is scheduled for Tuesday, August 24. The goal is to remove the rest of the tumor. There is a possibility that they will do another surgery on Wednesday if they can't get everything out on Tuesday. (They would go in from a different angle.) Please join me in praying for STERLING, his parents BECCA and ROGER, and his sisters LANDRY, KINSLEY, and MURRAY.

You can follow along with their journey via the Facebook group "Praying for Sterling" or their new blog.

And ... here is the link to the prayer vigil.

Thanks for praying!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Catching Moondrops by Jennifer Erin Valent

Set in the 1930s in Virginia, Catching Moondrops by Jennifer Erin Valent tells the story of friends battling the trap of racism and hatred in their small town. Jessilyn and Gemma have recently turned nineteen and are enjoying their budding romances. However, the racial prejudice in their town disrupts everything and causes everyone to look at what's really important in their lives.

I thoroughly enjoyed Catching Moondrops. The story is well-written and there's a great blend of romance, regular life, and tragedy. I loved the way the author wove faith and hope throughout the novel as well. Every character lived out their life in relation to their faith - whether they had a solid faith in Christ or not. And those who were devout Christians repeatedly shared their faith with Jessilyn as she walked around her journey to faith.

About halfway through, I realized that this was actually the conclusion to a trilogy. There were several references to things that happened in the past, but I didn't have any trouble filling in the gaps. I look forward to reading Fireflies in December and Cottonwood Whispers. I definitely recommend Catching Moondrops!

5 stars (out of 5)

I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Resurrection in May by Lisa Samson

Resurrection in May is not easy, summer reading but it's well worth your time. May has recently graduated from college and goes to Rwanda on a mission trip. When things start falling apart, she's given the choice to stay or go and chooses to stay with her new friends. Witnessing complete devastation of the village she has called home for the last few months, she is forced to survive in the wilderness. When she finally returns home, she is completely broken. Finding refuge at her friend Claudius's farm in rural Kentucky, she hides herself away from the world as her new friends try to help her recover.

To be honest, I had a hard time getting into the book at first. However, once I got about 30 pages in, I couldn't put it down. The characters are deep and complex and emotional. Even several of the minor characters are quite memorable. The author also does a great job of describing things in a way that lets readers know what it looks like but without bogging the story down. This is the first Lisa Samson novel that I've read, but I know I'll be on the lookout for more of her books in the future!

4 stars (out of 5)

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson's BookSneeze blog reviewer program in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

True Religion by Palmer Chinchen

This is a totally mixed review. I was really excited to read this book because of the focus on missions and the importance of missions as part of spiritual growth. The book is well-written - I felt like the author probably writes like he speaks. It was very easy to read. The book is also filled with inspirational tales of the author's missions experiences overseas. The stories express a passion for spreading the gospel and encourage readers to put what they're reading into practice.

However, I had some strong theological misgivings throughout the book. First, the author continually encourages readers to become an "expatriate." Chinchen uses "expatriate" to "describe an extraordinary life, a life of adventure, a life of uncertainty, a life of exhilaration, a life worth living" (p. 51). The Bible's focus on missions is not about a big adventure but rather about spreading the glory of God.

Additionally, each chapter concludes with a suggestion on how to live more like an ex-pat. Some of the suggestions were to rent movies with sub-titles, eat at ethnic restaurants, and studying another language. And these suggestions on how to live like an "ex-pat" are really just suggestions on how to add a little culture to your life. I wish he would have suggested things like read magazines and blogs centered around persecution of Christians, praying for unreached peoples around the world, writing encouraging letters/emails to missionaries, sacrificing financial resources, actually going to another context, etc.

Another chapter focused on the idea that we as Christians are supposed to take pieces of heaven into places of hell. I completely agreed with his supposition that hell-like places/events include genocide, rape, starving children, etc. I strongly disagreed with his thoughts that "pieces of heaven" included things like a Krispy Kreme donut. I realize that we all talk about how great heaven is going to be and how beautiful it's going to be with the streets of gold and the giant mansions, but heaven's going to be great because of GOD. Certainly not because we had a Krispy Kreme donut here on earth and that gave me a small taste of what heaven is going to be like. I pray that when I am in heaven I am so focused on worshiping the creator and savior of the universe that I don't ever want another thing besides HIM.

There was just a real disconnect for me with the examples that the author gave and the thoughts he expressed around them. I would have preferred to see a book more focused on God rather than on our opportunity to have a great adventure doing missions.

Before the theological issues, I would probably give this book a 4 star review. However, with all the theological differences, I would have to give it a 2 star review.

I received this book for free from The B&B Media Group in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron

Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron is what my friend would call "literature." Chase has a crisis of faith when a little girl in his congregation dies. Not sure if he believes in Jesus or the Church anymore, he goes to Italy to visit his uncle Kenny, a Franciscan friar. Kenny directs Chase on a pilgrimage, where he learns about the life of St. Francis of Assisi and how St. Francis relates to Chase's life and the modern-day church.

This one's really hard to describe - probably because I'm still processing some of what I read. There's a lot of great history in the novel and I learned a lot about St. Francis. I made several new realizations reading the book, and felt like I went on a bit of a pilgrimage myself. (I even stopped reading and started discussing with my husband a few times!) There is also a little journal type section at the back of the book, which would really help readers glean even more from the book.

I really enjoyed the book and learning more about the subjects that the author addressed. Not easy summer reading, but definitely one I would recommend!

4 stars (out of 5)

I received this book for free from NavPress Publishers in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Forgotten by Melody Carlson

Forgotten by Melody Carlson is the first book in her Secrets series. Seventeen-year-old Adele faces pretty tough circumstances when her mother leaves, she is evicted from her apartment, she begins working at a nursing home, and is eventually forced to live in an old van. Too embarrassed to tell her wealthy friends what is going on in her life, Adele continually lies to them and tries to cover up the truth of her new, homeless life. When everyone finds out the truth, what will she do?

Melody Carlson is a fantastic writer. The story is told from Adele's perspective, and you can really FEEL what she is experiencing. It really opens your eyes to a way of life that most readers have probably never experienced firsthand. This book is geared toward a teenage audience, and would be perfect for several friends to read together. The discussion questions at the end would help girls digest the tough topics discussed in the book. Plus, the book is a pretty easy read - I started and finished in a day. The one thing I was disappointed in was that the book came to a pretty quick conclusion. I felt like it was about to have a "to be continued" ending, but suddenly everything was wrapped up and done. However, I can't wait to see what Melody writes next.

4 stars (out of 5)

I received a free copy of this book from NavPress Publishers in exchange for my fair and honest review.
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