Sunday, January 31, 2010

I've Taken The Challenge - 20 New To Me Christian Authors

What You Reading Now blog is having a contest for her challenge.  It's not too late as the deadline has been extended to Feb 3.  Take the challenge and enter her contest ASAP!

I have joined the 20 New Christian Authors  Challenge on What You Reading Now blog! Looks like fun.

Some authors I am considering:
Susan Page Davis & Megan Elaine Davis
Robin Caroll
Terri Blackstock (I need to check this one to make sure I have not read anything by her before, but I don't think so)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Rules of Engagement by Chad Hennings link for Rules of  Engagement:  Finding Faith and Purpose in a Disconnected World

About the Author: Chad Hennings played nine seasons for the Dallas Cowboys during the 1990s. Before that he was an Air Force fighter pilot who flew more than forty humanitarian missions during the first Gulf War. He won the Outland Trophy as the best interior lineman in the country while playing football for the Air Force Academy. Currently, he is a husband, father, businessman and speaker for Christian and business audiences.

My Review: I have read quite a few books that are entertaining and interesting. It isn’t often I come across one that is not only entertaining and interesting, but it is essential reading for its target audience, which is males from about 15 to 25. Of course, men over 25 will enjoy the book too, but the values message in Rules of Engagement is so important that it should be read in the years in which moral values are forming.

The author describes how men in our society become emotionally disconnected from other men and from God. From his years as an Air Force pilot, he describes how important a “wingman” is to the pilot and how he has applied that concept into a civilian ministry.

Chad’s style is not “preachy”, but instead he offers a two part plan. In the first part he describes the challenges and talks about building character, work ethic, balance, and spirituality. He calls this part Basic Training. In the second part, or Active Duty, he describes a plan to live a life that is honorable and fulfilling.

Although Chad Hennings writes about his own life in football, the military and his own weaknesses, he does not focus the book on himself. Rules of Engagement is about men and how to live their lives for God.

I would recommend this book for all men, but especially for high school and college students, a graduate gift, men just starting out in the work world, Sunday School classes, and church libraries.

I would encourage you to read why Chad Hennings wrote this book on his blog here:  Chad Hennings

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

On Deadly Ground by Michael Norman Link for On Deadly Ground

About the Book:
Coal companies, environmentalists, and local ranchers divide a small town in Southern Utah over the use of public land. When an environmental activist is found shot to death, just about everyone becomes a suspect.

My Review:
On Deadly Ground by Michael Norman is thrilling murder mystery set in the surrounding area of Kanab, a small town in southern Utah. Former Denver police officer J.D. Books returns to his home town as a Bureau of Land Management Ranger and immediately gets caught up in a murder investigation.

The story takes many twists when J.D. and Sheriff Sutter investigate the likely suspects and their motives. As the story unfolds there are also surprises both for the investigation and personally for J.D. The plot moves very quickly and the action doesn’t stop.

J.D.’s character is very likeable with a laid-back attitude and a past that haunts him. J.D.’s return to the place where he grew up added greatly to the character development as he interacted with old friends and family.

Michael Norman’s previous novels also take place in Utah, and he conveyed a good sense of where the story was located in On Deadly Ground. This is a new author for me, and I look forward to reading his previous novels, Silent Witness and The Commission. Michel spent 25 years as a Professor of Criminal Justice at Weber State University, Ogden, Utah. During that time, he served on the Utah State Youth Parole Authority followed by a term on the State Board of Pardons and Parole.

On Deadly Ground is the perfect mystery with tension, action, surprises, and a satisfying conclusion.

A link for Michael Norman's website is here:  Michael Norman Author

Thank you to Poison Pen Press for the advanced reader copy.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tea With Hezbollah by Ted Dekker and Carl Medearis link for Tea With Hezbollah

Book Description:

Is it really possible to love one’s enemies?

That’s the question that sparked a fascinating and, at times, terrifying journey into the heart of the Middle East during the summer of 2008. It was a trip that began in Egypt, passed beneath the steel and glass high rises of Saudi Arabia, then wound through the bullet-pocked alleyways of Beirut and dusty streets of Damascus, before ending at the cradle of the world’s three major religions: Jerusalem.

My Review:
The premise of the book is based on the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10) in which Jesus taught to love your neighbor as yourself and the verse (Matthew 5:44) to love your enemies. Ted Dekker and Carl Medearis journeyed to the Middle East to the sit down with both Muslim leaders and ordinary Muslims to find out what they thought about this specific teaching of Jesus.

Tea With Hezbollah starts out very strong. Ted Dekker’s writing is a pleasure to read with his clever dialog and his reaction to Carl Medearis’ idea to travel to one of the most dangerous parts of the world. There is some history of the area and descriptions of the sights and smells as they travel from the least dangerous to the most dangerous locations to meet with individuals.  They asked them simple questions:

• What is the greatest misunderstanding Americans have of Arabs?
• And Arabs’ greatest misunderstanding of Americans?
• What makes you cry?
• What makes you laugh?
• What kind of car do you drive?
• Do you believe we should love our enemies as Jesus teaches?

I thought that some of the questions asked were superficial and tedious for what could have been an important dialog. They frequently ask the Muslims to tell a joke. The humor did not translate well. Actually, not at all. Once the important questions were asked about Jesus’ teaching, there was little or no follow-up to dig deeper into the minds of our enemies.

There were several instances of comments made about Jesus and Christians by the authors that were very disparaging. As an excerpt for this:“ We are both Christian. We both cringe at being called Christian, because in both of our worlds, Christians are the bad guys who either slaughter civilians or destroy civilization in the name of God.”

There was a side story about a woman named Nicole that was interjected throughout the book which may have been interesting if it had not been chopped up almost as space filler.

I thought the book was good – but not great.

Reader copy provided by WaterBrook Mulnomah Publishing Group

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Survivors Club by Ben Sherwood Link for The Survivors Club
I was fortunate to have had a giveaway a few weeks ago for this book, but I am just now able to post my  review. 

Ben Sherwood interviews and researches those who have survived near fatal circumstances or disasters such as an animal attack, human attack, air disaster, disease, the holocaust, and more. Who fights and wins their trials and who surrenders to what is perceived as the inevitable?

When faced with an accident or impending disaster, how would you react? Why do some survive and some do not? The Survivors Club by Ben Sherwood takes a look at the reactions people have to fear and crisis and the actions that may make a difference in survival. In this information packed book, the author explains the different personality traits and how they create the ability to survive in a crisis – or not. I found the chapter on Ninety Seconds to Save Your Life especially interesting as Mr. Sherwood explains the right and wrong things to do in a plane crash. Another interesting chapter is A knitting through the Heart and how this event saved a woman’s life! An additional subject that the author explores is what result faith in God, religion, and prayer has on crisis outcomes and if faith helps you live longer.

While there is much information in the book on the profile of a survivor, the Ben Sherwood also provides access to an internet site in which you can test your own Survival Profile. I enjoyed the many stories of survival in this book and the lesson on how to react correctly in an emergency.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Google Mail

I have a tip for those using Google Mail. I've noticed that lately I haven't been receiving much mail, but didn't know why. I receive my Google mail not on the Google site, but through my mail program, so I had no idea that I had used up my allotted amount of disk space. No warning; no auto-email – nothing. Most of my mail was bouncing. In Google mail, your mail is archived not deleted and quite honestly, I forgot about it. The fix was to delete my archived mail (all 160,000+ of them and then empty the trash.

If you have Google mail, you may want to check it now so that you will not be left with a mess as I did.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Truth in the Lie by R. Chase Raiford link for The Truth in The Lie

From the back of the book:
The Truth in The Lie will transport you into the past during a time that our nation lit the torch of freedom and began its long voyage into the present, where you are currently positioned to carry that torch into the future. This novel will “time warp” you into the life of a slave who fought in the Revolutionary War. Yes, you will live Parker Roger’s life with him. You will gain insight into “his mind in his time” and walk with him in his 18th century shoes. You will experience his courage, moral awareness, religious spirituality, kindness, love, hate, suffering and understanding as he fought for the independence of a nation that denied him his freedom as a man. When he, his friends, and his family suffer, you will suffer with them. This compelling novel offers fertile reading for both blacks and whites caught up in our continuing struggle in this country for racial equality and racial justice.

My Review:
The Truth in The Lie is a story that takes the reader on an imaginative journey back in time to slavery and the revolutionary war. I found it difficult to read because much of it is written in dialect. Here is a short excerpt to give an example:
“Same heah, boy. Yo mama turned to da Afican rules. Just cause she born heah don’t mean she be of heah. Son, what is blessed, what be right or wrong depend on who you be, whea you be, and what da laws of yo pepas be. Dat be yo law. If da whites don’t lets you be part of dat law what dey has, you has to use da law what you knows and has.”

This is a novel about Parker, a mixed race former slave, who lived as a white man. He married a white woman and had white children. His daughter, Patience, married a white man, but had a black baby. This intriguing story of this man’s lie was bogged down and almost lost when the story goes back in time. His unresolved dishonesty caused dramatic consequences. It is too bad that Patience’s story was overlooked. There were quite a few unresolved questions for me in Parker’s character and what he taught his children, but discussing them here could be a “spoiler”.

Other than the dialect, the book is well written and interesting. The tone of the book is not that slavery is bad, but that all white Americans in the south were bad and American founding fathers were despots. The “n” word is used liberally in different forms, and the book has a tendency to preach.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Knowing the Struggle is Over by K.M. Johnson

Amazon Link for Knowing the Struggle is Over by K.M. Johnson

From the Back of the Book:

"Frantically running towards the open doors of her life, instantly they slammed shut! Boldly marked with a going out of business sign and dead bolted closed. There it was, her life, vanishing immediately before her eyes.

After years of struggling and searching for an understanding of her life, K.M. Johnson found herself stumbling upon a spiritual journey revealing the true meaning of having faith in GOD. Knowing The Struggle Is Over takes the reader through a 3-step process in restoring their faith in GOD. This spiritual journey proves to the Christian believer that having faith in GOD is the only tool needed to overcome any struggle. Knowing The Struggle Is Over discusses how different circumstances in life may lead to doubt, unbelief, and fear. Ms. Johnson shares her experience on how she learned to stop complaining, let go and let God, and finally acknowledge that GOD is truly in control.

Knowing The Struggle Is Over incorporates several exercises that keep the reader fully interacted throughout their entire journey. The 3-step process may be shared with others and practiced daily. Knowing The Struggle Is Over addresses changes in today s world, the new religions that have transpired, and many of the tragedies we have encountered. The need for revisiting the foundation that Christianity is built, is fulfilled through scripture references, and comments on biblical passages profoundly embedded within each chapter. Knowing the struggle is over entails real-life applications in addition to practical messages. Whatever your situation or circumstance as you conquer this spiritual journey together with the author, you will find your pathway to Knowing The Struggle Is Over."

My Review:

Knowing the Struggle is Over speaks to the hardships of everyday life and the weight we put on our own shoulders to make things right. If I chose just a few words to describe this book they would be “a pep talk for life!” K.M. Johnson’s enthusiasm and passion for the things of the Lord shows forth all throughout the book. She shares her own struggles and the path that led to her finally “letting go and letting God” take care of everything. In Knowing the Struggle is Over, she describes her three step process:

1. Stop Complaining

2. Letting Go and Letting God

3. Acknowledging Him

K.M. Johnson’s writing style in this book is very personable, as if she is sitting across the table from the reader having a heart-to-heart talk. Her enthusiasm is contagious as she describes how to accomplish the goal of releasing the cares of the heart and embracing the compassion and love of God. Rich with scripture, the book will help the reader come to the realization that the fight has already been won, and the only thing left to do is rest in the peace and comfort of God.  This is a good book not only for individuals seeking a life free from burdens, but also appropriate for gifts, small Bible study group, book discussion groups, or as a devotional.

About the Author

K.M. Johnson is the CEO of Everything(s) Eventful, LLC and author of A Blog about God, by Trinite3. She graduated from Florida A&M University in 2005 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and is currently pursuing a graduate degree in professional counseling. Ms. Johnson travels extensively conducting inspiration and motivational seminars and workshops in the United States and across the globe. K.M. Johnson was born on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and currently resides in Houston, Texas.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Giveaway - The Survivors Club by Ben Sherwood

Dusty the Sailor Dog was going to choose the winners, but he is napping and refuses to be disturbed,  so I used to make the selections. Thank you to Hatchette Book Group!

BillyJack at rogers .com
jeffintennessee at gmail dot com
simplystacieblog at gmail dot com

Winners must send their names and addresses withing 48 hours.  The books will be shipped from Hatchette Book Group.  (EDIT:one winner did not respond and another was chosen)

The Survivors Club by Ben Sherwood.

In tough times, who bounces back and who doesn’t? After losing a job, who finds a new one and who gives up? After a devastating medical diagnosis, who beats the odds and who doesn’t? And perhaps most important: What do survivors and thrivers know that we don’t?

The Survivors Club by Ben Sherwood also offers readers the opportunity to discover their own unique Survivor Personality. Each copy comes with an access code to an exclusive and powerful Internet-based test called the Survivor Profiler™, which generates a customized report on a person’s Survivor Type and Strengths.

About the Author:

Ben Sherwood is a bestselling author and award-winning journalist. His novel The Man Who Ate the 747 was published in 13 languages and is being adapted as both a feature film and musical. A former broadcast producer for NBC Nightly News, he joined Good Morning America in April 2004 as executive producer and stayed in that position until Fall 06. He lives with his wife and son in Los Angeles.

Contest will end on January 13, 2010 at midnight.
Winners will have 48 hours to respond with their mailing address

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Life O'Reilly by Brian Cohen

Nick O’Reilly is a successful lawyer working hard to keep his standing in a very demanding law firm. The only requirement of the firm is to give your all to the company. When a decision is made to do pro bono work, Nick is chosen to take the lead. His first case is a domestic violence case involving Dawn Nelson and her son.

The Life O’Reilly is an interesting and well defined story. I found the first half difficult to read because I could see that the direction of the story was going toward a professional ethical lapse from the lead character. Because professional ethics is something that I take very seriously, I lost respect for the character. However, the second half of the book reads like a real life drama and completely drew me in. I became so involved with the character and his story that I began to wonder if this was a true story. The drama is intricately and emotionally described, and the cadence of the story held firm to the end.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Megan's Way by Melissa Foster

Megan’s way is a very sad book. The book follows the main character’s cancer return, death and funeral. There were quite a few storyline twists in the relationships among Megan, her daughter and her friends, but in the end the only character I cared about was the child. Without giving away too much of the story, I was annoyed with Megan’s character for something she did to her daughter just before she died. She gave her information that should have been attended to by the adults and not dumped on a child to sort out. Unfortunately the adults seemed to have the "It's all about me" attitude. Also, one of the “twists” nullifies the reason for the special bond between mother and child. Not a bad book, but be prepared to spend a lot of time with the dying and funeral arrangements.

When I was finished, I felt very much as I did when I read The Suicide Collectors by David Oppegaard which was a dark and sad read.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Adventures of Hardy Belch by William G. Bentrim

Book Description:  The Adventures of Hardy Belch chronicle the exciting and unbelievable adventures of a normal 12 year old boy and his 240 pound telepathic dog. Hardy and Tiny (his best friend and dog) find themselves in many predicaments but as a team and best friends they always end up helping others. Combining mystery and humor each story is written to entertain, and highlight the value of friendship, planning and selfless actions.

My Review: The Adventures of Hardy Belch by William G. Bentrim is, in my opinion, the author’s best yet. Twelve year old Hardy Belch (What a perfect name for a 12 year old boy!) and his dog, Tiny, are featured in three stories: The Bully, The Green Man, and the Delaware River Pirates.

Tiny, who is actually very large, is also telepathic dog and when problems come up he loves to help Hardy plan solutions. These are all stories that are not only entertaining, but also have an important message. Children will love the stories of Hardy Belch and Tiny and will also learn about how to stop bullying, how to treat those who may look different, about fairness, and dealing with financial stress.

Parents can read the Author’s Notes in which Mr. Bertrim explains his mission to help children learn in a positive and fun way. The author has a wonderful web page here: Hardy Belch  where you can meet Hardy and Tiny, and even print out a Hardy Belcher bookmark. I highly recommend this wonderful book for children.

About the Author: William Bentrim is currently working hard to become an author, his 4th career. After owning and operating a computer networking company for 25 years, teaching and counseling in the public schools for 10 years, owning and operating a convenience store for 10 years, he is trying something new. His hopes are to improve the society we all live in, to leave the planet a little better than it was the previous day and who is cognizant that his impact on the world is minimal.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Giveaway!! Giveaway!! The Last Surgeon by Michael Palmer

Dusty the Sailor Dog has chosen the winning email for the giveaway:
Congratulations to tbranco (at) hughes (dot)net

OK, Dusty didn't really choose the winner, I used

With thanks to the author, Bookvisions is hosting a giveaway of a signed copy of The Last Surgeon by Michael Palmer. 

The Last Surgeon

The New York Times bestselling author and master of medical suspense delivers another shocker of a thriller filled with insider details and a terrifying psychopath

My Review:
An eerie scene with the death of an innocent begins this new Michael Palmer thriller. Dr. Nick Garrity returns from war suffering from PTSD after witnessing the death of his fiancée. Struggling daily with his own trials, Dr. Garrity treats patients out of an urban mobile medical facility helping those without any other access to medical care. Strange deaths and missing persons create a bond between Nick and a psychiatric nurse, Gillian Coates, and together they work through the secrets, dangers, and government red tape until they find the truth.

I confess that I am already a fan of Michael Palmer’s books, so it not surprising that I enjoyed his latest book. The Last Surgeon has the perfect balance of storytelling and dialog.  The main character of Nick is complex, damaged, and interesting.  He struggles with his memories of a horrifying incident at war. He not only works to improve his own life with PTSD, but helps others get the disability help they need.

The story was at times very intense. As an example, as a wounded and weak Dr. Garrity was lowering himself down a rock cliff, I felt like I was climbing down with him and I wasn’t sure we were going to make it! Another aspect of the book that I enjoyed was the change in Nick as the relationship developed between with Gillian.
Some readers may be sensitive to the violence - but then this is an adventure/ thriller and can be expected to have some carnage. I recommend The Last Surgeon to readers who enjoy fast-paced adventure/thriller stories and medical mysteries.

To win a signed copy of The Last Surgeon:
For US & Canada only - NO PO Boxes
One entry for each:

1. Leave one comment here (or on any of my current book reviews). 

2. Follow Bookvisions

3. Follow Bookvisions on Twitter

4. blog or tweet about the giveaway and leave link.

5.  Come back when I post my review and enter a comment for an additional entry.

Be sure to leave your email in each entry. The winner will be chosen at random by Dusty the Sailor Dog, and the winner will have 48 hours to respond with your name and address. The contest will end on January 10, 2010.
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