Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Unsinkable Faith by Tracie Miles - REVIEWED

About the Book:
For many people, remaining optimistic and feeling positive about themselves and their lives is a constant battle - especially when circumstances are difficult and life is hard.
For others, negativity is something that only sneaks up from time to time, yet still wreaks havoc in their hearts. Regardless of the root causes, once pessimistic thoughts permeate our minds, our feelings and emotions begin to control us instead of us controlling them. Eventually it doesn't seem possible to stay positive, happy, and full of joy, and negative thought patterns shake our faith, causing us to sink emotionally, mentally, and spiritually over time. But it doesn't have to be that way. Despite what storms roll in, hearts anchored in God don't sink. When we change the way we think, we can change the way we feel and live, even if our circumstances remain the same. Intentionally embracing the opportunity to experience a transformed heart and a renewed mind opens the door for a changed life, because a positive mind will always lead to a more positive life.
In 
Unsinkable Faith, author and Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker Tracie Miles offers hope for women who struggle with negativity. Each chapter explores Tracie's and other women's personal stories, showing how they rose above their circumstances by transforming and renewing their minds. 
Unsinkable Faith is a breath of fresh air for anyone longing for a heart full of joy, an unbreakable smile, and a new, more optimistic perspective on life. This book will equip you to:
-Replace pessimism with positive thinking by becoming the captain of your thoughts;
-Learn how true joy and happiness are based on choice, not circumstances;
-Overcome unhealthy habits of negative thinking by intentionally implementing three easy mind-renewing steps;
-Stop feeling hopeless and pitiful, and start feeling hope-filled and powerful instead; and
-Discover that when you change the way you think, you change the way feel, and in turn you can change your life completely.

My Thoughts:
Our thoughts have power, but it is always up to us what thoughts we give power to.” (p.107)

Tracie Miles has grasped a profound truth in her book, Unsinkable Faith.  That truth has set her free from her past, the lies she has believed when she has looked only at her circumstances, and the lies the enemy has whispered into her heart and mind that burden her with guilt and shame.  What is this truth? The powerful truth of God’s word! 

Tracie Miles shares stories from her own life experience as well as those of others that have intersected her life, and tells readers some of the many ways we can become trapped in our own thought life and rendered ineffective in God’s kingdom.  When we begin to identify our negative thought patterns and replace them with the truth of God’s Word, our minds become transformed and are able to rise above life’s many and sometimes difficult circumstances and become positive, encouraging testimonies of God’s love and power in our lives.

Each chapter illustrates practical things we can do to begin this process of renewing our minds.  At the end of each chapter, the author gives the reader things to reflect upon, memory verses that can be used to replace the negative thoughts, and then a personal challenge to go deeper and apply the truths you’ve learned from God’s Word to your own circumstances.  This is a process that, over time, will help anyone overcome their negative thought life!

PS…This is one in a series of books God has brought into my life that has a very similar and powerful  message about the importance of renewing my mind with God’s word.  As a very wise person told me once, when I shared the many ways God kept sending me the same message, “I think God is shouting at you!”  I am listening Lord!!  Thank you Tracie Miles for being faithful to share God’s truth!

About the Author:
Tracie Miles is a national speaker with Proverbs 31 Ministries and a bestselling author who's spent the last twelve years inspiring women to become who God called them to be. She's the author of "Your Life Still Counts" and "Stressed-Less Living," and a contributor to Proverbs 31 Ministries daily devotions.

Monday, April 24, 2017

a fragile hope by Cynthia Ruchti - REVEIWED

About the Book:
Hope grows when seeds are planted—even in the muddy middle of life.
Josiah Chamberlain’s life’s work revolves around repairing other people’s marriages. When his own is threatened by his wife’s unexplained distance, and then threatened further when she’s unexpectedly plunged into an unending fog, Josiah finds his expertise, quick wit and clever quips are no match for a relationship that is clearly broken.
Feeling betrayed, confused, and ill-equipped for a crisis this crippling, he reexamines everything he knows about the fragility of hope and the strength of his faith and love. Love seems to have failed him. Will what’s left of his faith fail him, too? Or will it be the one thing that holds him together and sears through the impenetrable wall that separates them?
My Thoughts:
That word. Vile and slightly salty.”  (p. 96)
Where would we be if we hadn’t discovered that seeds of hope can grow in mud? (p. 315)
The journey between the observation on page 96 and the one settled upon on page 315 is difficult and profound.  It is a journey of loss and self-discovery, of spiritual battles between self and submission and, ultimately learning that God can and will redeem every single circumstance if we trust entrust it completely to Him.
Cynthia Ruchti is an author who is not afraid to dive into the deep end of the pool relationally, emotionally or spiritually.  To read her work is sometimes painful, because it forces the reader to take a long hard look into the mirror and ask difficult questions.  In her latest novel, a fragile hope, she hits some very hard topics square in the face.  These are situations and issues that challenge our hearts and minds to examine the covenant of marriage at a gut-wrenching level.  Whether you are married or not, this novel will take you on an emotional roller-coaster that will leave you weeping at times, but will also redefine hope in a way you have never considered before.
This is a powerful, life-changing book that, for me at least, has helped me heal from wounds at a deeper and more personal level than I ever dreamed possible.  How I praise God for allowing Cynthia Ruchti to commit this story to paper.  What a gift!!
Learn more HERE.

About the Author:

Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed in hope. She’s the award-winning author of 17 books and a frequent speaker for women’s ministry events. She serves as the Professional Relations Liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers, where she helps retailers, libraries, and book clubs connect with the authors and books they love. She lives with her husband in Central Wisconsin.
Find out more about Cynthia at http://www.cynthiaruchti.com.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Woman's Study Bible - REVIEWED


Unique Features:
  • Inspiring articles by Anne Graham Lotz, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Roberta Hromas, Linda Dillow, Kathy Troccoli, and more
  • More than 100 character portraits of women in the Bible
  • More than 300 articles on topics for women
  • Hundreds of insightful quotes by inspiring women throughout history
  • Topical index to scriptures and special features
  • New King James Version text
  • 8-point type size

My Thoughts:
I mean it most sincerely when I say that this is a beautiful Bible!  The layout, the floral illustrations, the articles and quotes...this is truly a magnificent study tool!  For long-time believers or those new to the faith, this Bible offers a treasure trove of helpful articles, explanations, definitions and helps that will enhance your time in The Word.  I love the New King James version, and I know beyond any amount of reason that this will become my go-to Bible of choice when I want to dig deeper into a passage and learn all that I can from a particular truth.  

I do feel compelled to say that the version I reviewed is a rather hefty tome, and not one I would choose to take with me everywhere.  This will be my choice for my daily time alone with God, because I will take time to highlight, underline and personalize the passages as my own.  Truly, this is the most beautiful study Bible I've ever interacted with, and I highly recommend to to everyone!!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

A Trail of Crumbs by Susie Finkbeiner - REVIEWED


About the Book:
"I believed it would have been a sin to stay inside when God had sent us such fine weather. According to Pastor Ezra Anderson, sin was the reason we'd got in the dusty mess we were in. The way I saw it, that day was God's way of letting us know He wasn't mad at us anymore. Just maybe He'd seen fit to forgive us."

Pearl Spence has been through more in her young life than most folks could handle. But through it all, her family has been by her side. They may not be perfect, but they love her and they all love each other, come what may. That's one thing Pearl no longer questions.

But the end of her beautiful day signals the beginning of the end of her secure life.

Now her family is fleeing their Oklahoma wasteland. Pearl isn't sure she'll ever see home or happiness again. Are there any crumbs powerful enough to guide her back to the dependable life she once knew?


The strong narrative voice of Finkbeiner's young protagonist from A Cup of Dust returns in this gritty yet hopeful sequel, sure to please her many fans.

My Thoughts:
Some storms rage so loud that it’s hard to hear the sweet song of hope.  But it’s always there.” (p. 256)

I’m so thankful that Pearl has her Aunt Carrie in her life to speak hope into each circumstance she must face in her in her eleven years on this earth.  The dust bowl in Oklahoma punched a hole into Pearl’s family, and her own body bears the internal scars from her encounter with nature.

When Peal’s family leaves Oklahoma for Michigan, it appears there is no choice if they are to survive intact.  A new home, a new job for he dad and family nearby seems to be the foundation this small family needs to rebuild from the storms they faced in Oklahoma.  No one could begin to imagine the internal wars that were raging in the hearts of some members of the family.  It wouldn’t be long before they faced a very different, but more violent, storm that only their hearts would face.

This is a very well-written, beautifully raw story, told from Pearl’s very young girl point of view.  Her innocence and youthful naivety makes the reality of her situation all the more powerful!  When Aunt Carrie’s character is introduced into the story, it doesn’t take the reader long to understand that she offers the strength and hope that Pearl can’t seem to find in her nuclear family. 

Pearl has already faced the ripping of the family’s fabric before she ever leaves Oklahoma.  Her neighbor, Ray, is a constant reminder that family isn’t always related by blood, and his friendship remains a constant source of stability.  I think Pearl is constantly wrestling with her own heart and mind to make sense of the rapid sequence of change that has crashed against her family.  The author does a magnificent job of developing Pearl into an ageless source of truth and wonder that all readers will be dawn to.


This is a heart wrenching book to read at times, but it is a very satisfying, thought-provoking novel.  I look forward to what lies ahead in Pearl’s future!

About the Author:
Susie Finkbeiner is a stay-at-home mom, speaker, and author from West Michigan. Her previous books include Paint Chips (2013) and My Mother's Chamomile (2014). She has served as fiction editor and regular contributor to the Burnside Writers Guild and Unbound magazine. Finkbeiner is an avid blogger (see www.susiefinkbeiner.com), is on the planning committee of the Breathe Christian Writers Conference, and has presented or led groups of other writers at several conferences.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

To the Farthest Shore by Elizabeth Camden - REVEIEWED


About the Book:
The unpredictability of her upbringing prepared army nurse Jenny Bennett to face any challenge at the Presidio Army base, but the sudden reappearance in her life of the dashing naval officer who broke her heart six years ago is enough to rattle even her. 

Lieutenant Ryan Gallagher is one of the few men in the world qualified to carry out a daring government mission overseas--an assignment that destroyed his reputation and broke the heart of the only woman he ever loved. Honor-bound never to reveal where he was during those years, he can't tell Jenny the truth, or it will endanger an ongoing mission and put thousands of lives at risk. 

Ryan thinks he may have finally found a solution to his impossible situation, but he needs Jenny's help. While her loyalty to her country compels her to agree, she was too badly hurt to fall for Ryan again despite his determination to win her back. When an unknown threat from Ryan's past puts everything at risk--including his life--can they overcome the seemingly insurmountable odds stacked against them in time?

My Thoughts:
It was time to choose forgiveness.”  (p. 316)

Forgiveness is something we offer others, but it is also a gift we give ourselves.  Camden’s latest historical novel centers around two characters who have a difficult time with both sides of forgiveness.  They are afraid to offer it to others, because they fear being hurt, but they can’t forgive themselves for their own past choices.  This creates a perfect storm between a military nurse who falls in love with a man recruited as a spy.

Elizabeth Camden explores The Military Information Division (MID) through the eyes of one of their recruits Lieutenant Ryan Gallagher.  Ryan never fathomed the depth of his choice to accept this assignment, and, it seems as though the choices he made for his career will cost him the love of the one love of his life, Army Nurse, Jenny Bennett.  Separated for years, when these two lives cross paths again, they seem unable to offer anything that the other one wants or needs.

God uses the life of an addict as the catalyst to bring Ryan and Jenny face to face with their own shortcomings.  In reaching out to one whose need seems to exceed their own, they learn the timeless, and priceless lesson of forgiveness.  Their journey is messy, painful, and for me at least, extremely frustrating at times.  But the author weaves all of the story threads together in a remarkable and very satisfying way! 


The ending is very believable, and I think readers who enjoy historical fiction will have a hard time putting this novel down!  I know I did!!  I am happy to recommend this novel to everyone!

About the Author:


Elizabeth Camden is the author of nine historical novels and has been honored with the RITA Award, the Christy Award, and the Carol Award. With a master's in history and a master's in library science, she is a research librarian by day and scribbles away on her next novel by night. She lives with her husband in Florida. Learn more at www.elizabethcamden.com.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Family Emergency

If I owe a review, I will catch up when life settles down a bit.  Prayers appreciated for my parents during this time....and for me as I care for them.

Thanks for your understanding.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Book of Revelation Decoded by Rabbi K. A. Schneider - REVIEWED


About the Book:
Understand the connection between the Old Testament and the end times, what to expect during the last days, and how to stand firm in Christ in the face of opposition. Rabbi K. A. Schneider decodes the Book of Revelation, showing how the end-time events prophesied in the New Testament book correspond with the teachings of the Torah and the Hebrew prophets. You will discover how the Passover foreshadows the great tribulation, and what the Hebrew prophets reveal about the anti-Messiah, Armageddon, hell, the return of the Messiah, the millennial kingdom, heaven, and much more. As the world grows darker and darker, many people have a sense of impending doom. This book will teach you what to expect during the last days and how to stand firm in Christ even in the face of opposition.

My Thoughts:
The Book of Revelation is a guide for the bride of Christ so she will be ready when he comes.  That is the main purpose.”  (p. 96)

Rabbi Schneider does a masterful job explaining the many nuances of the Book of Revelation to readers. I know I’ve heard this book explained by many pastors over my lifetime, and this book is just another way of exploring a book of the Bible that many ignore all together because of its complexities.  Rabbi Schneider looks at the book, given to us by John through the Holy Spirit, through the lens of Hebrew Scripture and New Testament explanation. 

This is a careful, step by step journey through a book of the Bible that has been surrounded by controversy.  Schneider is quick to tell readers that even though he has studied this for years, he remains  a student of God’s Word and remains open to learning more and more about God’s revelation as he walks out his faith here on earth.  What I was most impressed with throughout this book was the fact that the author encourages readers time and time again to study God’s Word for themselves and ask God to reveal His truth to them as they study!


I am happy to recommend this book to readers who are hungry to know more about God’s revelation of the end of our earthly journey.  I hope everyone who comes to the pages of this book will leave both encouraged and challenged to seek God’s Word for themselves and live in a constant state of preparedness to receive Him when He returns for His bride!!  This is a fantastic teaching tool, and I know I will be returning to mine its depths again and again!

About the Author:
Rabbi K. A. Schneider is an international evangelist who serves as rabbi of Lion of Judah World Outreach Center. He is the host of the international television broadcast Discovering the Jewish Jesus (www.DiscoveringTheJewishJesus.com) and the author of Self-Deliverance, Do Not Be Afraid, and Awakening to Messiah. He and his wife, Cynthia, live in Ohio.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Her Secret by Shelley Shepard Gray - REVIEWED


About the Book:
 A suspenseful tale of a young Amish woman who is forced to move to a new town to escape a threatening stalker

After a stalker went too far, Hannah Hilty and her family had no choice but to leave the bustling Amish community where she grew up. Now she's getting a fresh start in Hart County, Kentucky...if only she wasn't too scared to take it. Hannah has become afraid to trust anyone-even Isaac, the friendly Amish man who lives next door. She wonders if she'll ever return to the trusting, easy-going woman she once was.

For Isaac Troyer, the beautiful girl he teasingly called "The Recluse" confuses him like no other. When he learns of her past, he knows he's misjudged her. However, he also understands the importance of being grateful for God's gifts, and wonders if they will ever have anything in common. But as Hannah and Isaac slowly grow closer, they realize that there's always more to someone than meets the eye.

Just as Hannah is finally settling into her new life, and perhaps finding a new love, more secrets are revealed and tragedy strikes. Now Hannah must decide if she should run again or dare to fight for the future she has found in Hart County.

Learn more and purchase you copy HERE!

My Thoughts:
I intend to be very careful and very vigilant. I promise.”  (p. 209)
Sometimes being careful and vigilant isn’t enough to prevent evil from knocking on your front door.  Actually, evil rarely, if ever, is that polite.  Hannah Hilty and her entire family become a people of fear rather than faith when they flee a stalker intent upon stealing everything from them to satisfy a very malicious appetite. 
What this stalker, or any other evil, discounted was God’s protective guiding hand at work in the lives of the one person he was intent upon pursuing and wooing. Although Hannah bowed to fear initially, as did her parents, none of them could fathom what God had prepared for them even as they tried to run from the problems that were intent to pursue and paralyze them.
I tend to be pretty picky when it comes to Amish stories, but I have learned that I can depend on Shelly Shepard Gray to deliver a story that is filled with intrigue, truth and grace.  Her Secret speaks to the universal need we all seek – the need to feel safe and secure in our own home.  For the Hilty family, that security has been ripped from them, and their attempts to fight seem meager at best. God is always in the details of our lives, and this story is no exception.  Gray weaved layer upon layer of details together and forms a community of faith that digs deep into God’s truth to find strength to stand against the evil that has burst into their midst.

I truly enjoyed this novel, and I am happy to recommend it to everyone!  You will come away with renewed faith in God’s strength to show us the way we need to go – even when we decide to run the opposite direction.

About the Author:

Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town's bike trail.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Lost and Found by Kendra Fletcher - REVIEWED

About the Book:
What happens when you lose your religion? Kendra Fletcher, mom of eight, took pride in having it all together the right schooling, the right theology, the right church. Everything was right. Then it all fell apart. Three of their children were taken to the brink of death in a period of eighteen months. As wave after wave of crisis hit their family, they learned that getting religion right wasn't a good substitute for a living relationship with a loving God. As they learned about their misplaced identities and false hope, they found that religion couldn't save them only Jesus. Only Jesus gives the grace we need to survive and thrive. Only in Jesus will our lives overflow with his grace, love, and mercy spilling out over our families like the life-giving good news it is meant to be.

More than a memoir, Lost and Found is a call to give up those things that hold us in bondage and find the overwhelming grace and freedom of the cross. Woven through the life-changing stories that forever altered Kendra Fletcher s family is an encouragement to readers to find their value, worth, significance, hope, and identity in Christ alone.


Gripping true story of how God heals physically and spiritually. The difference between the gospel and merely being religious explained simply and clearly using one family s story. Clear direction on how to live with freedom and joy despite challenging circumstances.

My Thoughts:
Had we know there would be healing in our future, we would have signed up for the trials a long time before.” (p 50)

This is a statement that I imagine very few people say out loud – much less write it in a book that will be read by countless readers.  Yet I believe that when Kendra Fletcher penned these words, they were birthed in the firm foundation of the truth of the gospel that was running from her heart like the stream of living water promised to all Christ followers.  Kendra Fletcher and her family walked through a series of fiery trials, all of which she shares in her book Lost and Found.  These details are not recorded to garner praise for her strength nor pity for all that her family endured.  This is a testament to God’s amazing grace and mercy available to all who embrace the freedom of this gift He offers through the shed blood of His Only Son
.
I have been in these places that Kendra Fletcher records.  Places of religious bondage that slip around our hearts so quietly that we do not realize how imprisoned we have become until we face a situation that causes us to lean entirely upon God. This book resonated with me on a very deep and personal level, because, like Kendra, I lived many years of my life in a religious prison that kept me from embracing the truth of the gospel.  To be set free from that prison has been a very long and arduous process for me, but, like Kendra, I can recognize and say that I would have signed up for these trials long ago if I knew the depth of healing that lay before me.

I walk in healing and freedom today because of the gospel of Christ.  I think many people who come to this book and read the truth it offers will have their hearts changed for all eternity.  I know there were times as I read, that I stopped and wept at the love that Jesus has lavished upon my life!
I will come back again and again to this book.  I will share it with friends. I encourage you to lay down bondage and walk in freedom.  Embrace the grace of God through Jesus Christ.  There is no other other way to live!

On page 79 Fletcher states: “The gospel doesn’t allow us the snobbish luxury of not sullying our hands because we can’t stand the filth.  We are clean only because Christ is clean; they will be made clean only if we take Christ to them.”
Can I hear a good AMEN?!

About the Author:
Kendra Fletcher is the mother of 8, speaker for groups and conferences around the country, author of several books, and podcaster on HomeschoolingIRL. Her articles have appeared in a variety of publications, including Crosswalk.com, Arizona Home Education Journal, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, and Washington Family Magazine. Her newest book, Lost and Found: Losing Religion, Finding Grace, is published by New Growth Press and will be released in 2017.

She blogs at www.kendrafletcher.com and www.homeschoolingIRL.com. Find her on Twitter: @KendraEFletcher


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Murder Is No Accident by A.H Gabhart - REVIEWED


About the Book:
One body may be an accident. A second body means murder.
The old Chandler place should be empty. The magnificent Victorian mansion is for sale, even if its aged owner Miss Fonda doesn't realize it. But when real estate agent Geraldine Harper enters the house on a sunny October day, she's not alone. Minutes later, there is a body at the bottom of the steep steps leading to the tower room.

Deputy sheriff Michael Keane is called in. At first blush, it looks like the death was a tragic accident, but clues point to foul play. And when a second body is discovered, the race is on to find the culprit . . . before someone else dies.

If you like your small-town America sweet and quirky--with a dash of sinister--you'll love this latest whodunit from deft storyteller A. H. Gabhart.

My Thoughts:
Life was often messy. So was death”  (p. 55)

Michael Keene’s job as Deputy Sheriff in Hidden Springs is usually as quiet and peaceful as the town’s name implies.  However, there a secrets buried that folks want to remain secret.  What motivate some to greatness motivates others to evil, and Michael Keene is responsible for unraveling motives behind multiple murders before anyone else suffers harm.

A. H. Gabhart writes cozy mysteries that I find thoroughly entertaining but not so intense that I lose sleep!  Her characters are realistic and well-developed so that you come to care about them during the course of the story.  There is a love interest that simmers beneath the surface, and young-adult characters that add a touch of innocence to the sometimes morbid reality that can be called life sometimes.


I enjoy the fact that the interplay between the lives of the Hidden Springs residents are realistic and the author doesn’t sugar coat the reality of health issues or family dysfunction. This could happen in Anywhere, USA.  You will feel right at home among the residents of Hidden Springs, and you will want to return for another visit soon!  

About the Author:
Ann H. Gabhart is the bestselling author of several Shaker novels--The Outsider, The Believer, The Seeker, The Blessed, and The Gifted--as well as Angel Sister, Small Town Girl, Love Comes Home, Words Spoken True, and The Heart of Hollyhill series. She lives with her husband a mile from where she was born in rural Kentucky. Learn more at www.annhgabhart.com.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Unchained by Noel Jesse Heikkinen - REVIEWED


About the Book:
Christians are free in Christ, yet Christianity can feel like a prison. Unchained helps Christians who don’t feel that grace has changed their lives.
Often when people follow Jesus, they feel more guilty instead of more free. A powerful book for the spiritually restless, Unchained shows readers how to have a robust faith that celebrates their freedom in Christ without compromising their holiness as God’s followers.Unchained turns to the person and work of Jesus Christ as the source of freedom—not just his work 2,000 years ago but also what he is doing today. As readers dig into the meaning of the freedom that Jesus offers, they will understand, perhaps for the first time, what true freedom in Christ means.
Purchase your copy HERE.
My Thoughts:
Freedom is something that eludes most everyone I know.  There are places in each person’s life that seem to hold their hearts and minds captive, and the resulting lifestyle is one riddled with numerous emotions – none of which gives them the freedom they long for.  Christ followers and created a myriad of religious practices and doctrines that give them a safe way to define and ultimately attain this elusive freedom.  That, in and of itself, becomes a prison of impossibility.

I think Noel Heikkinen had written a book that addresses this entire topic of freedom in a way that anyone can understand.  He takes us to the truth of God’s Word and carefully ensures that readers understand every aspect of the answers God speaks to us regarding the freedom His salvation offers to all that choose to follow Him.  Each chapter is rich in truths to ponder, and ends with a series of questions that you can either discuss with a small group or journal in a personal bible study. 

No matter what approach to take to this book, be prepared for heart transformation to take place! Heikkinen answers a lot of questions and clears up a lot of misunderstandings!  I am thankful for this book and the freedom it will bring to many lives.  I am still unpacking some of these truths in my own life, and I can tell you now that only CHRIST offers what we seek.  We will ONLY find our answers and freedom in Jesus! 
I highly recommend this book!
About the Author:


Noel Jesse Heikkinen is a pastor at Riverview Church, a multi-site church of over 3,000 near Lansing, Michigan. Heikkinen also helps lead the church planting ministry Acts 29 and is the chairman of the board for the mission agency Reliant. He and his wife, Grace, have four children.

Find out more about Noel Jesse at noeljess.com.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Justice Delayed by Patricia Bradley - REVEIWED


About the Book:
In one week, the wrong man will be executed for murder.

Let the chase for the real killer begin.


Eighteen years ago, TV crime reporter Andi Hollister's sister was murdered. The convicted killer sits behind bars, his execution date looming. But when a letter surfaces stating that the condemned didn't do the crime, Detective Will Kincaide of the Memphis Cold Case Unit will stop at nothing to help Andi get to the bottom of it. After all, this case is personal: the man who confessed to the crime is Will's cousin. Andi and Will must find the real killer before the wrong person is executed. But what can happen in only a week? Uncovering police corruption, running for your life, and, perhaps, falling in love?

My Thoughts:
Do you remember where you were the night Stephanie was murdered?”  (p. 184)
This question becomes the genesis of resurrecting and 18-year-old murder investigation from a the status of cold case to active investigation.  That, in itself, makes for a fascinating story line, but when you add the motivation of the three days until the execution of a possibly innocent man, you have a true thrill ride!  And that’s not all!!  The murderer is hidden in plain sight, and the closer discovery moves in their direction the more desperate the effort becomes to keep the 18-year-old secret buried!  Not everyone survives the effort!
Patricia Bradley’s name on the cover promises a thrill ride for readers who enjoy a great murder/mystery/police detective-type story line.  Justice Delayed has many, many layers to uncover! Truly, I’ve rarely seen so many diverse threads so successfully interwoven.  On top of everything else going on, there is an undercurrent of human trafficking AND romance!  This author fleshes out the story line completely!

Can you tell I enjoyed my time between the pages of this novel?  I did! I did!  It was hard to put it down! I am happy to recommend this novel to readers who enjoy a variety of genres.  This novel will satisfy a broad range of readers!  Dive right in, and enjoy the ride!    

About the Author:
Patricia Bradley is the author of Shadows of the PastA Promise to ProtectGone without a Trace, and Silence in the Dark. Bradley has been a finalist for the Genesis Award, winner of a Daphne du Maurier Award, and winner of a Touched by Love Award. Bradley is cofounder of Aiming for Healthy Families, Inc., and she is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. Bradley makes her home in Mississippi. Learn more at www.ptbradley.com.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Under An Open Heaven by John E. Johnson - REVEIEWED

About the Book:
When the gospel of John was written, the world was in turmoil. Jerusalem was collapsing, the empire was eroding, and the church was fighting for its life. The early believers needed a theology to strengthen their souls and steady their nerves--a theology found in this often enigmatic gospel. In our similar times of turbulence, we too need to know that the abundant life under the opened heaven John describes is not just conceivable--it's a promise.

John E. Johnson is determined to reveal the relevance of John's gospel to today's Christian. To do so, he explores various conversations found in its pages and applies them to our modern world. Jesus converses with family, answers the questions of religious leaders, and steps into dialogue with people whose names we never know but whose struggles we can relate to. They aren't always straightforward chats, Johnson readily admits. Yet that is what makes them so beautifully applicable to the messiness of life.


For readers tired of living confined lives, frustrated by failure, or starving in the midst of plenty, the conversations in John tell them life doesn't have to stay small. There is a whole new world made possible under God's open heaven.

My Thoughts:
Christ’s freedom transcends any environment ungodly government might wish to consign godly people to.”  (p. 145)

People will be offered life under an open heaven of God’s making, but they will choose death in a confined prison of their own construction.” (p.148)

Reading this book has given me some huge insight into the lives of Jesus’ disciples. There were times I could almost feel like I had walked in their shoes.  I understand now, why, even though they witnessed many miracles and witnessed Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection that the freedom Christ offered them didn’t quite sink in for a while.  It makes me understand why I still tend to confine myself to my own prison instead of embracing all the freedom Christ offers.

The truth behind discovering this life transforming freedom?  Abiding in God’s Word and allowing it to transform your heart and mind from the inside out.  Sounds simple, right?  Well, when you read about the lives of those recorded in John’s gospel, and you really listen to their questions and responses that take place between them and Jesus, you begin to get some inkling of the transformation that had to take place in their hearts and minds – STILL has to take place in hearts and minds today!  This book is brilliant in its practical application of truths that have the transformational power we all seek.

The author ends each chapter with questions intended to enable those practical applications to begin this transformation process.  ABIDE in His word.  That is the bottom line.  And the best news yet – and news Christians still struggle to believe and understand – is that Holy Spirit is within us and empowers us to live this life of freedom!!


I’m still plumbing the treasures of this book, but I can HIGHLY recommend it to EVERYONE that wants to dig deep into the gospel of John and emerge a believer with a stronger, more vibrant faith!

About the Author:
John E. Johnson is associate professor of pastoral theology at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregeon, and lead pastor of Village Baptist Church in Beaverton, Oregon. He has previously held posts at other churches, including Trinity International Church at The Hague, Netherlands. Johnson has published articles in Bibliotheca Sacra and Trinity Journal. To learn more, visit his blog at www.drjohnejohnson.com

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Redeeming Grace by Jill Eileen Smith - REVIEWED


About the Book:
One devoted woman is about to discover the power of love
When famine visits Bethlehem, some hold out hope for rain, while Naomi and her family make a long journey to Moab in search of greener pastures. The harvest there is plentiful, and for a time it appears the Lord is blessing them. But when calamities strike, one after another, Naomi is left alone in a foreign land with only her widowed daughters-in-law for comfort.

Downhearted and destitute, Naomi is determined to return to Bethlehem alone. But her daughter-in-law Ruth refuses to leave her side. Despite the fact that she and Naomi will almost certainly live out their days in widowhood and poverty, Ruth holds out hope for a better future . . . and maybe even a second chance at love. 

My Thoughts:
This could not be happening to her, to them.”  (p. 134)

Jill Eileen Smith has created another historically, Biblically fascinating story about Ruth and the journey she takes to get to Boaz.   Well, that is stating it simply, but accurately.  Smith tells stories rich with culturally accurate details that give readers new and deeper insight to the Biblical characters they think they know very well.  Once you peel back the layers of the cultural context, you can begin to understand more about the choices they make within their part of the Bible.

The story of Ruth has always fascinated me, and now, after reading this book, I have a greater appreciation for the things that she had to endure before she became part of the lineage of Jesus. The chapters of this book of the Bible seem brief, but, as Smith’s book details, it could span years of experience that we don’t imagine exist.  Looking at it through this lens, it makes more sense to me, even though I know some of the details are unknown. 


Smith develops the characters of Naomi and Ruth (well all of the characters – her family into which Ruth marries) in such detail that when her life experiences the redemption that God had planned for her, you fairly weep!  Rejoice with me in the sovereign hand of God!!  What a mighty God we serve!!

About the Author:

Jill Eileen Smith is the bestselling author of The Crimson Cord, The Wives of King David series, the Wives of the Patriarchs series, and the ebook novellas The Desert Princess and The Shepherdess. Her research into the lives of biblical women has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times. Jill lives with her family in southeast 
Michigan. Learn more at www.jilleileensmith.com.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Still Life by Dani Pettrey - REVIEWED

About the book:
Someone Is Out There. Watching Her. Waiting. 
Blacklisted in the photography business over a controversial shot, Avery Tate answered an ad for a crime-scene photographer. She expected to be laughed at, but crime-scene analyst Parker Mitchell hired her outright--and changed her life. But six months ago, when her feelings for Parker became too strong, she left his employ to sort out her heart.

Now, for the first time, Avery is facing the world that rejected her to attend the gallery opening of a photography exhibit for which her friend modeled. But the only image of her friend is a chilling photo of her posing as if dead--and the photographer insists he didn't take the shot. Worse, her friend can't be found, and so Avery immediately calls Parker for help.

As Avery, Parker, and their friends in law enforcement dig into the mystery, they find themselves face-to-face with a relentless and deadly threat.

My Thoughts:
What does any of this have to do with us?” (p. 327)

This is a good question to ask when you see a photograph of a friend who has been posed in death.  It is also a good question to ask when you are beginning fall in love with a man you perceive to be pining for a love that was tragically ripped from his life.  It is also a good question to ask when you are trying to determine where your unique skill set of crime scene photography fits into the grand scheme of thing when violence has come unexpectedly to your doorstep!

Dani Pettrey has written a very suspenseful murder/romance/thriller of a novel that will keep readers desperately searching for answers!  She layers the plot so well that you can’t truly pinpoint the killer until the very end!  Pettrey sends readers on one wild ride after another in search of answers, and by the time you reach the final pages, the plot has become very satisfying!  I won’t give away any spoilers, but suffice it to say that the depravity of lives without God stands in stark contrast to those who are Christ followers.


This is a very satisfying read on a multitude of levels!  Don’t miss this most excellent novel!!

About the Author:
Dani Pettrey is a wife, home-schooling mom, and the acclaimed author of the Alaskan Courage romantic suspense series, which includes her bestselling novels SubmergedShatteredStrandedSilenced, and Sabotaged. Her books have been honored with the Daphne du Maurier award, two HOLT Medallions, two National Readers' Choice Awards, the Gail Wilson Award of Excellence, and Christian Retailing's Best Award, among others.  

She feels blessed to write inspirational romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things she loves--the thrill of adventure, nail-biting suspense, the deepening of her characters' faith, and plenty of romance. She and her husband reside in Maryland, where they enjoy time with their two daughters, a son-in-law, and a super adorable grandson. You can find her online at danipettrey.com.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Door to Freedom by Jana Kelley - REVIEWED


About the Book:
It's rough and it's smooth. It's dark and it's light. It's a masterpiece. It's us. Here in Sudan. We are scared of it and drawn to it. There is an open door, and there is much opposition.

In the dusty, Islamic country of Sudan, Mia, who is raising her family in a Muslim country, has learned to boldly share her faith. Rania, the daughter of a wealthy Sudanese Arab, seeks to find the reason for her sister's sudden disappearance. Mia holds some of the answers, but both women quickly discover they must each walk through their own doors to freedom, the freedom that only comes when you trust God's sovereignty more than manmade security.

Part of New Hope Publishers' line of contemporary missional fiction, Door to Freedom, the sequel to Side by Side, opens the reader's eyes to modern-day persecution and the life of Muslims in Sudan. Based on real-life events, Door to Freedom also reveals some of the struggles that Christians face when living under Islamic law. The reader will be inspired to pray for those who are persecuted for their faith as well as for the salvation of the persecutors.

My Thoughts:
A great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many to oppose me.” (p. 218 – I Corinthians 16:9)

Mia Weston and her family (Michael and three children) are missionaries to the Muslim people in Sudan.  As they minister to the people there, trying to stay within the understood boundaries of the culture, Mia and her husband are both challenged and transformed by God’s Word as they learn the truth about God’s sovereignty, protection and leadership while serving those around them.  This whole scenario of serving others who are blinded to the truth of Christ and His great salvation is something that speaks deeply to me, as God has placed me in a field ripe unto harvest.  While I’m not serving on foreign soil, Christ and His love are just as foreign to many I work with as it is to the Muslim people in Sudan.

I think this is an honest look at the challenges faced by those called to full-time missions.  To listen to friends and relatives worry about safety and the reality of missing the presence of children and grandchildren – all of this is a weight to be balanced against the calling of God in your life.  Kelley does a great job drawing back the curtain on both sides of this spiritual battlefield.  There is great sacrifice to be made on both sides, and those who are praying for missionaries on any level can pray more intelligently after reading this book!

I really enjoyed this book.  More than that, I am thankful at the work God has done in my heart through this book!  Books are a powerful tool God uses in my life to remind me of His truth, His power and His faithfulness!  I am happy to recommend this book!

Purchase your copy HERE!

About the Author:
Jana Kelley is a Texan who hardly ever lives in Texas. Raised in Southeast Asia, Jana developed a love for cross-cultural living early in life. Her love for writing came soon after. Jana returned to Texas to attend East Texas Baptist University. She and her husband married a month after she graduated, and by their second anniversary, they were living in a remote African town. After 13 years living in Africa and the Middle East, Jana, her husband, and their three boys moved to Southeast Asia where they currently live.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Control Girl by Shannon Popkin - REVIEWED


About the Book:
Tension, anger, fear, anxiety-it all begins with a heart that craves control.
Little fights with your husband and kids. Unhappiness when things don't match your version of perfect. When your perspective of how life should go replaces God's, you doom your quest for security, peace, and joy before it even starts.

Thankfully, there is a better way.

Join Shannon as she shares what she has discovered about her own control struggles and
about God from studying seven Control Girls in the Bible. Whether it was Eve's desire to know instead of trust, Sarah's inability to wait for God to move, or Rebekah's controlling hand on her family's future, each of these women's stories contain warnings and lessons for us today.

Learn how you too can lay down this burden of trying to control everything and find rest in surrendering to the One who truly is in control.

My Thoughts:
I knew I was in for a wild ride when my oldest son opened the package from the mailbox, and, upon reading the title of Shannon Popkin's book exclaimed, "Well this is certainly a book you need to read!"  Hmmmmm! Subtle message?  My son is a college Senior who knows me well, but I have to say his observation stung quite a bit!

This book has been a difficult read for me.  I've had to lay it down, sometimes with tears and cries of repentance!  So, let me tell you ladies, allow God to work through the pages of this book to challenge and change you.  I've not finished this book yet, because I'm at another hard, challenging chapter.  Part of me (control girl) wants to stop and not go back to finish - to avoid the painfulness of transformation.  But when I submit to God - I have to finish the course he has laid before me, and Shannon Popkin's book is my God appointment right now.

I pray that you are brave enough to pick up this book and thoughtfully go through each chapter and pray prayers of repentance and gratefulness that The Lord loves you enough to bring books like this into your life for such a time as this.

Thank you for your obedience, Shannon.  May God continue to bless you!

About the Author:
Shannon Popkin is a wife and mom, a speaker and teacher, and a leader of small group studies. She's been published by "Family Fun," "MOMsense," "Focus on the Family Magazine," and other outlets. She is a contributing blogger for True Woman.com and has blogged for several years at shannonpopkin.com. "Control Girl" is her first book.
Find out more about Shannon at shannonpopkin.com.