Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Don't Resist . . . She's CALLED TO PROTECT!


I didn't get a chance to buckle my seatbelt.  So not fair.

Lynette Eason writes the way machine guns shoot . . . incredibly fast, and in a way that overloads your senses.  But that's a good thing, when you are writing a story.

With incredible ease, the reader is introduced to the characters, and forms an immediate bond with them.  At the same time, Eason ratchets up the tension to the point where you aren't putting this book down until the final page.

You've been warned.  Now, please open your book, CALLED TO PROTECT, to the prologue.  But first . . . buckle up!

Chloe St. John has BLUE running through her veins.  The daughter of the Chief of Police, she has two brothers, a sister, and a brother-in-law all dedicated to fighting crime.  You might say it's a family affair.  And one at which they all excel.

Chloe's partner, Hank, has two left feet.  He also has two right feet.  They are kind of a prerequisite for Dutch Shepherds.  And Hank excels in his job, as well.  While trained mainly for sniffing out narcotics, Hank's nose is versatile.  If he can smell it . . . he can track it.  A neat trick, that.

Chloe's recovering from a broken relationship, and the crime she's currently investigating is guaranteed to take her mind off of her personal issues.  It seems that a certain judge has a vendetta against human trafficking, and the criminals just want him to back off.  To the point where two innocent teenage girls have been kidnapped in an effort to get the judge eliminated by one of his own bodyguards.

U.S. Marshall Blake MacCallum's daughter has been kidnapped, and the ransom note has been delivered:  one dead judge, or else.  The Marshall's daughter is a Type 1 diabetic, so her health issues  further exacerbate the situation. 

As the task force closes in on the human trafficking ring, Chloe and Blake are drawn closer and closer together.  Is it just business, or could things actually be getting personal?

Touching on one of the most polarizing issues of this century - human trafficking - Lynette Eason exposes the crime in sufficient detail while still maintaining the dignity of its victims, conveying concern and compassion in equal measures.

CALLED TO PROTECT is the second book in the BLUE JUSTICE series by Lynette Eason.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

5 stars for riveting action and memorable characters

CALLED TO PROTECT

Lynette Eason
ISBN 9780800727031 (E-Book)
Criminal Investigation / Christian suspense
Revell
181 pages
$15.99

Monday, July 9, 2018

How Can A 12-year Old Boy Survive Overwhelming Odds? ONLY BY DEATH!


I’ve found a new favorite author.  Her name is Kathy Herman, she has authored twenty novels, and her writing will grab you from page one, and will not turn you loose until you arrive at the last page, emotionally wrung out, wondering “What just happened?”

It’s not just the fully-developed, complex characters.  It’s more than scenes so detailed you feel as if you were actually there.  There’s a theme of God’s grace, forgiveness, and mercy, as well as his righteousness, holiness and justice.  And Kathy doesn’t preach, so much as she speaks the truth . . . a truth that she has experienced for herself, and so she can faithfully express it through the pages of her novels.

12-year old Jesse Cummings has just witnessed a murder.  He just doesn’t know it yet.

50-something year old Liam Berne has just committed a murder.  He just doesn’t see it that way.

To Liam’s way of thinking, his mother – diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease – would never have wanted to live as she is living.  And she certainly wouldn’t have wanted her children to spend every last dime of the investment’s she and her husband had so carefully built up over the years.  So Liam is simply killing two birds with one stone . . . in a manner of speaking.

Colleen, Liam’s sister, isn’t convinced that her mother, Dixie, simply wandered off, fell into the river, and subsequently drowned.  She’s got questions, and she’s determined to find answers – even if it means spending her share of the inheritance in order to do so.

As details emerge, Jesse finds himself having to grow up a lot sooner than he anticipated.  His faith will be tested almost to the breaking point, and this fictional character will learn a lot more about trusting God and the nature of forgiveness than many of us will in a lifetime.

I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

5 stars for a work of fiction that unashamedly tells the truth.

Friday, June 29, 2018

EVERY WICKED MAN by Steven James - Just When You Think You've Got It Figured Out . . . You're wrong.


My wife is a writer, and she helped me to understand why my favorite writers are my favorite writers.  That is, what it is about their writing that seems to grab me from page one and keep me turning pages until I fall asleep or finish the book.

It’s called “layered,” or “textured” writing.  One book, two or three separate, distinct plot lines that are woven throughout the book, so that there are three separate rising actions, three “black moments,” and three resolutions.  And yet it is all one story.

And Steven James is a master craftsman.

His latest work, EVERY WICKED MAN, is coming out in September.  I received an uncorrected proof for review.  Funny . . . that didn’t seem to make any difference with regards to the emotional roller coaster that I experienced when I opened the book.

This is a Patrick Bower’s mystery, so fans of this fictional hero will know what to expect.  For the uninitiated, here’s what you can expect:  strong, fully developed characters, impossible situations, complex villains, some romance . . . and tears.  Let’s not forget the tears.  Have a box of tissues readily available.  There is also a strong, authentic, unapologetic faith message woven throughout.

In EVERY WICKED MAN, Agent Bowers is struggling.  He’s struggling to convince his colleagues of the positive aspects of geospatial forensics.  Forget motive.  Why? is not the question that needs answering.  The two questions that Agent Bowers considers are  Where?  and What time?  By focusing on the crime scene, one can more readily apprehend the perpetrator, and eliminate any red herrings.

He’s also struggling with a teenage stepdaughter who is wise beyond her years, and has the sarcasm to prove it. 

And then there’s this little side issue of a drug pusher whose best product delivers the goods and renders the user susceptible to suggestion.  Extremely susceptible.

There.  I’ve given you all the details that I’m going to give you.  Save the date:  September 2018.  EVERY WICKED MAN by Steven James becomes available.  You won’t want to miss this one.

5 stars for a story that will hold you until the very last page.

I received this book in exchange for my honest review.


EVERY WICKED MAN

Steven James
ISBN 978-1-101-99159-6
Suspense / Thriller
Berkley Press
544 pages
$9.99 paperback

GUARDED PROGNOSIS by Dr. Richard Mabry . . . TROUBLE ALWAYS COMES IN THREES!


Always the teacher.  That's how I would introduce one of my favorite authors, were I given the privileged opportunity to do so.  Dr. Richard Mabry has the ability to identify the issues in our humanity that cause us the most anxiety, the ones that keep us awake nights.  He also possesses the skill, the wisdom, and most importantly - the courage - to face those issues straight on, and cut to the heart of the matter. 

Always the surgeon, Dr. Mabry realizes that just hoping these things will "go away" isn't going to make them do so.  It requires surgical intervention.  And whether Dr. Mabry is wielding the scalpel . . . or the pen . . .  this retired surgeon-turned-author is equally skilled, and more than up to the task.

The world of Dr. Caden Taggart has rapidly become unmanageable.  The two men sitting in his waiting room didn't appear to be patients. That they were not became abundantly clear when they introduced themselves as agents of the Drug Enforcement Agency.  This was just the tip of Dr. Taggart's personal iceberg.

A phone call from his father prompted a visit where his father revealed a serious medical condition . . . and requested his son's assistance in his suicide.  When his mother, the victim of a stroke, suddenly passed, Dr. Taggart was without a doubt on the ropes.  What else could possibly go wrong?

Well . . . that was a rather obtuse question.

While there may be legal battles looming on the horizon and emotional issues closer to home, Dr. Caden Taggart must ultimately conclude that the most immediate concern was his heart condition.  He needed a new heart; a heart of flesh, and not of stone.  And only the Great Physician is capable of that kind of surgery.

Written in Dr. Richard Mabry's award-winning style, GUARDED PROGNOSIS will touch the reader at every level.

5 stars for another page-turning medical suspense by Dr. Richard Mabry

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

GUARDED PROGNOSIS

Dr. Richard Mabry
ISBN: 978-1-9877-6367-6
medical mystery / Christian fiction
CreateSpace / Independently Published
249 pages
$ 6.99  U.S. paperback




Friday, April 27, 2018

Is There Anything Too Hard For God? Ask These Seven People Who Have Experienced THE RESCUE!


“Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.”
Genesis 18:14 (KJV)

We read stories like that in the Bible and say to ourselves (and to one another), “Yes, but things were DIFFERENT         back then.  When was the last time YOU saw something like that?”

Well, Jim Cymbala and Ann Spangler may not have witnessed a miraculous pregnancy, but they have seen God work miraculously in the lives of seven people.  They saw God working so powerfully, that they just had to write a book about it.  They called this book . . .

The Rescue.

Short.  Sweet.  And definitely to the point.  There is no other word for it . . . these individuals were rescued from circumstances that defy the imagination.  And they share their stories to remind you that God is still in the life-saving business . . . and that there really is nothing too hard for God.

The stories are written in the first person, and the “writers” don’t pull any punches.  They are brutally – sometimes graphically – honest with their experiences, so you might want to keep that in mind when considering younger readers.  And for those who have been technologically blessed (which is about everyone these days!) you can watch 5 of the stories contained in the book online at www.TheRescue.nyc/watch.

Think you’ve strayed too far from God to be rescued?  These seven testimonies just might change your mind.

5 stars for a testimonial to the rescuing power of the one true God

THE RESCUE   

Jim Cymbala, with Ann Spangler
Religion / Christian Life / Spiritual Growth
ISBN 978-0-310-35117-7
177 pages
$16.99 (Hardback with dustjacket)

Monday, April 9, 2018

THE VINE'S EXPOSITORY BIBLE - The Emphasis Is On "EXPOSITORY!"


I read a story one time, about a minister who was engaged in conversation with a good friend.  His friend was asking him about his sermons, and the minister replied,
          “Well, I study all week for my sermon.  And when I get into the pulpit, the sermon I prepared is a good sermon.  Then I start preaching, and it doesn’t sound anything like what I prepared . . . but it’s a better sermon.  Now, if you want to hear a really good sermon, walk home with me of a Sunday evening, and I’ll tell you what I should have said.”

That . . . in a nutshell . . . is what you have in your hands when you open THE VINE’S EXPOSITORY BIBLE.  You have over 60 years of blood, sweat and tears in the service of the Lord, distilled and distributed throughout the text of the Old and New Testaments.  The New King James Version enables the reader to engage the Biblical text without the sometimes confusing language of the KJV, while still remaining faithful to the Authorized Version. 

To this text Pastor Dr. Jerry Vines brings his magnum opus;  24 years worth of expository messages, from every book of the Bible, delivered from the pulpit of the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Florida.  Pastor Vines introduces each book, providing an explanation of the authorship, date, outline, and major themes of the book.  Then as the reader progresses through the Bible, Paster Vines provides numerous helps (I consider them “gems,” personally!):  Expository Messages (“PRESENTING THE MESSAGE”), word studies (“DISCERNING THE MEANING,”) application (“APPLYING THE MESSAGE”), and personal application and growth (“LIVING THE MESSAGE.”) 

This may seem “complicated” in this review, but in actuality it is practically seamless.  These “gems” are strategically placed throughout the text, so that God’s Word remains central.  The helps are actually in the right place; no flipping back and forth, no myriad cross references to distract you.  It’s the closest thing to “total immersion” in Scripture reading that I’ve come across in a study Bible. 

The maps are full-color, and the one on Jesus’ Ministry is especially interesting, with “text ballons” showing where various incidents in Jesus’ ministry took place, geographically.  Also included is a very nice (not exhaustive, but nice) concordance, and the Expository Bible Index, which will help the reader find all of the “gems” that are scattered throughout the VINE’S EXPOSITORY BIBLE.

If I don’t meet Pastor Dr. Jerry Vines in this life, I’ll certainly be looking him up in the next.  I mean, after over 60 years in the ministry, the man is working on his PhD at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.  For fun.  I want to meet this man!

5 golden stars for a true expository Bible

THE VINE’S EXPOSITORY BIBLE

Thomas Nelson
Bibles / New King James Version / Reference
ISBN 9760-718-09851-3
1965 pages
$44.99 (Hardback with dust jacket)

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The KJV Minister's Bible by Thomas Nelson


As a minister, there is no such thing as too many Bibles.  “Specialty” Bibles are a real treat, and The KJV Minister’s Bible is no exception.  The LeatherSoft cover is soft and supple to the touch, and yet feels very secure in the hand.  I would feel very comfortable holding this Bible open in one hand, while preaching.  For the most part the KJV Minister’s Bible lives up to the claim of “lay-flat” binding . . . when one gets to Revelation, some “pressing” is required, which is to be expected.  I also enjoyed the “clean” text of the Scripture passages.  While I have a Thompson Chain Reference, and love it for the copious cross references and margin notes, sometimes it’s refreshing just to get alone with God’s Word, minus the distractions.  This is a three-ribbon Bible, which means you can easily mark your place for different portions of Scripture, depending on the service.

A convenient thumb-tab allows you to open the Bible easily to a real treasure:  the complete Nelson’s Ministers Manual has been inserted between the Old and New Testaments, making this one of the most “minister-ready” Bibles I’ve ever come across.  Two study guides are included:  30 Days With Jesus, and a One-Year Reading plan.  The eight pages of full-color maps are helpful, as well.

I’ve only noted two issues with this KJV Minister’s Bible.  I like to mark up my Bible . . . a lot.  The highlighters I use seem to bleed through more than I would like.  And the one feature that I sorely miss:  a concordance.  For the serious student of the Bible, a concordance is indispensible. 

All those positives – and only two drawbacks – make this a Bible that I feel is well worth the purchase price.

5 golden stars for a minister-friendly Bible

THE KJV MINISTER’S BIBLE

Thomas Nelson
Bibles / King James Version / Reference
1166 pages
$44.99 (brown LeatherSoft)