Friday, March 30, 2012

Simon and the Easter Miracle by Mary Joslin

Simon and the Easter Miracle
A Traditional Tale for Easter
Author: Mary Joslin
Illustrator: Anna Luraschi
Publisher: Lion Children’s Books
ISBN: 9780745960586
Hardcover: 32 pages

About the Book:
The gospels tell of Simon of Cyrene--"a man coming in from the country"--who was ordered to carry Jesus' cross. Over the centuries, his story has been woven into a Polish folktale. In the tradition of The Three Trees this folk tale gives a fresh perspective on the Easter story.

When Simon the farmer brings his wares to market, little does he expect how he will be involved in the events of that very special day, nor how his items--bread, eggs, and wine--will become important symbols of Jesus' passion and resurrection, remembered throughout the ages.

This picture book retelling of a traditional tale is both thought-provoking and engaging.

Click to view an excerpt complete with illustrations.

My Thoughts:

This beautifully illustrated book tells the story of Simon of Cyrene and his roll in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Rich in symbolism: broken bread (broken body of Christ), spilled wine (Christ's spilled blood), empty eggs (empty tomb) and flying doves (Christ is risen), this story will delight readers of all ages.

With a Polish heritage, I was eager to read the story I remember my grandmother telling me a child.  It brought back so many memories and will be a continuing tradition as I share it with my children!

About the Author:

Mary Joslin, published exclusively by Lion, is known for her children's books on belief and spirituality. Her books, which include The Story of the Cross and On That Christmas Night, have sold more than 200,000 copies.

About the Illustrator:

Anna Luraschi has illustrated a number of books for Usborne.

This book was provided by the author/publisher for this tour hosted by Kregel. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.

River's Call by Melody Carlson

River's Call
The Inn at Shining Waters - Book 2
Author: Melody Carlson
Publisher: Abingdon Press Fiction
Paperback: 320 pages
ISBN: 9781426712678

About the Book:
What happens when the ties between generations are severed?

It is the 1960s and Anna's daughter, Lauren, is confused, broken-hearted, and pregnant. The difficult situation seems to bring out the worst in the selfish girl. When Lauren chooses to stay with her manipulative Grandma Eunice, Anna worries her daughter will never become a mature adult and the relationship between Lauren, Anna and Eunice becomes even more strained. However, when she hits the lowest point in her life, Lauren returns to her mother, the river, and the Inn and Shining Waters. As time passes, Lauren, now a mother to her own defiant teenager, faces a new crisis, one that puts the entire family at risk.

My Thoughts:

I love everything about this series, from the gorgeous cover art to the captivating storyline to the characters. The characters are quite realistic and their problems are very real. Melody Carlson handles topics that are sensitive and demonstrates how God can help and heal them. She uses problems that affect many of us and tackles these issues to create a series that can be identified with and worth reading.


River's Call picks up where the first book of The Inn at Shining Waters series, River's Song, ended - just after Anna's marriage to Clark. With both on their second marriage, they bring their pasts with them, and Anna's problems become even larger when her self-centered college-aged daughter returns home.

This is the second book in the series, and even though there may be enough back-story to possibly read as a stand-alone, I would recommend not doing so. The first book really sets the stage for this one and makes one understand the relationship that Anna has with Eunice and why Lauren is the way she is.

I enjoy Melody's writing style. Her imagery and prose draws one in. At times I feel like I'm on the river and can smell, feel and hear everything in Anna's world. This is a wonderful series, and I can't wait to read the next book, "River's End"!!

About the Author:

Melody Carlson published her first book in 1995 and she has been writing prolifically ever since. To date, Melody has published over 200 books, making her one of the top 20 most prolific authors of all time. With total sales of over 5 million her award-winning books include: Homeward, Love Finds You in Sisters, Oregon; Limelight; the Diary of a Teenage Girl series; the True Colors series; and the Carter House Girls series.

In her professional life, Melody has worn many hats: from pre-school teacher to political activist to senior editor. Currently, she writes full-time, and freelances from her home. She has two grown sons and lives in Sisters, Oregon with her husband, Chris, and Audrey, her yellow lab. They enjoy skiing, hiking, and biking in the beautiful Cascade Mountains.

This book was provided by the author/publisher for this tour. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Stand By Me by Neta Jackson

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!



Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

Thomas Nelson (March 13, 2012) 

***Special thanks to Rick Roberson The B&B Media Group, for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

As a child growing up on the campus of a Christian school where her parents taught, Neta Jackson began creating imaginary worlds at a young age. Loving horses but not having one, she wrote stories about them instead. By the time she reached high school, she had so honed both imagination and writing skills that when her English teacher submitted one of her stories to a Scholastic magazine writing contest, it won first place. With that first win, Jackson knew beyond the shadow of a doubt she wanted to be a writer. She’s been writing ever since.

After marrying the love of her life, Dave Jackson, the couple chose to settle in the Chicago area where Neta had attended college. Throughout their marriage, the Jacksons have worked together as a team, writing a multitude of books together on topics ranging from medical ethics to stories of gang kids, sometimes sharing the task with other experts who have served as co-writers. Together, they have also penned forty historical fiction accounts of Christian heroes, called the Trailblazer Books, along with another five-volume series called Hero Tales: A Family Treasury of True Stories from the Lives of Christian Heroes.

These days, both are busy penning their own works of adult fiction. Jackson began her individual effort in 2003 with the Yada Yada Prayer Group series, inspired by her real-life Bible study group, a multi-cultural gathering of dynamic women who have played an important role in her life for over fifteen years. Since publication of the first Yada Yada Prayer Group novel, the seven-book series has sold over a half-million copies and given rise to countless prayer groups across the country and the publication of a personal prayer journal for prayer group participants. In 2008, Where Do I Go?, her first book in the four-book House of Hope series, was published. The second book in the series, Who Do I Talk To?, won a Christy Award in 2010 for excellence in Christian fiction. Recently, the fourth book of the series, Who Is My Shelter?, was nominated for Best Inspirational Novel for 2011 by RT Book Reviews. Stand by Me is the first in Jackson’s new SouledOut Sisters series.

The Jacksons have been married 45 years and have raised two children plus a Cambodian foster daughter. They continue to live in urban Chicago where, together, they enjoy writing, gardening and spending time with their grandchildren.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

How does God expect us to get along with those people who are always causing us pain? Are we supposed to keep helping those who repeatedly take advantage of us? Exactly what is the key to living in peace with difficult people? These are the questions award-winning author Neta Jackson addresses in her latest novel, Stand by Me (Thomas Nelson), the first book of her newest series, SouledOut Sisters.

Inspired by her own Bible study group, Jackson began several years ago to write about a multi-cultural gathering of dynamic women in a collection of books known as the Yada Yada Prayer Group series. Since publication of the first Yada Yada Prayer Group novel in 2003, the seven-book series has sold over a half-million copies and given rise to countless prayer groups across the country. Jackson followed the Yada Yada novels with the four-book House of Hope series. Though the series is not dependent upon its predecessors for understanding, Jackson has used the individual lives of familiar characters to introduce some of the more complex issues prevalent in our modern society. By allowing her characters to lead the way, Jackson has shed light on issues like drug addiction, the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS and even the racial conflicts that can so easily arise within any culturally diverse group.

In her newest work, Stand by Me, Jackson introduces her readers to Kathryn Davis, a young college student who has left her prestigious Phoenix family behind to move to Chicago after dropping out of medical school against her father’s protests. Her newfound faith in Christ helps temper the realization that she has stepped out of her family’s good graces, but does little to alleviate the pain of their rejection.

When Kat discovers the dynamic multi-cultural membership at Souled Out Community Church, she longs to be part of it. But her unconventional behavior and brash eagerness have not helped her win favor with the church members. And, much to her dismay, Avis Douglass, the one woman in the church whom she most admires and would love to know better, is the one who is the most aloof.

Kat has no idea that, after being confronted by a number of serious problems all at once, Avis and her husband, Peter, are beginning to question God’s will for their lives. Having been recently estranged from her HIV positive daughter and being worried about her welfare, Avis would like nothing more than to quietly retreat into the recesses of her faith and find the answers she seeks. Her attempts to do so, however, are thwarted at every turn by the flamboyant Kat, who has apparently decided to foist herself on their lives whether they want her to or not.





Product Details:
List Price: $15.99
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (March 13, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595548645
ISBN-13: 978-1595548641



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

PROLOGUE

Midwest Music Festival, Central Illinois


Kat Davies ducked into the billowing exhibition tent staked down in a large pasture in central Illinois like a grounded Goodyear blimp. She’d been at the Midwest Music Fest three days already—didn’t know it was a Christian festival until she got here—and needed a little respite from the music pulsing morning-till-night on the Jazz Stage, Gospel Stage, Alternative Stage, Rock Stage, Folk Stage, and a few more she’d forgotten.

Besides, she’d be heading back to Phoenix in two days, and sooner or later she needed to figure out how to tell her parents she’d  “given her heart to Jesus”  after the Resurrection Band concert last night. Maybe this tent had a quiet corner where she could think. Or pray. Not that she had a clue how to do that.

Kat had a good idea how they’d react. Her mother would f lutter and say something like, “Don’t  take it too seriously, Kathryn dear. Getting religion is just something everyone does for a year or two.” And her father? If he didn’t blow his stack at what he’d call “another one of your little distractions,” he’d give her a lecture about keeping her priorities straight: Finish pre-med at the University of Arizona. Go to medical school. Do her internship at a prestigious hospital. Follow in the Davies’ tradition. Make her family tree of prominent physicians proud.

Except . . . she’d walked out of her biochemistry class at UA one day and realized she didn’t want to become a doctor. She’d tutored ESL kids the summer after high school and realized she liked working with kids. (“Well, you can be a pediatrician like your Uncle Bernard, darling,” her mother had said.) And the student action group on the UA campus sponsoring workshops on “Living Green”  and “Sustainable Foods” had really gotten her blood pumping. (Another one of her “distractions,” accord- ing to her father.)

Was it too late to pursue something else? Her parents were already bragging to friends and co-workers that their Kathryn had received her letter of acceptance into medical school a few months ago. Feeling squeezed till she couldn’t breathe, she’d jumped at the chance to attend a music fest in Illinois with a carload of other students—friends of friends—just to get away from the pressure for a while.

What she hadn’t expected was to find so many teenagers and twenty-somethings excited about Jesus. Jesus! Not the go- to-church-at-Christmas-and-Easter  Jesus,  the only Jesus  she’d known growing up the daughter of a wealthy Phoenix physician and socialite mother. That Jesus, frankly, had a hard time com- peting with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

But these people talked about a Jesus who cared about poor people. A Jesus who created the world and told humans to take care of it. A Jesus who might not be blond and blue-eyed after all. A Jesus who said, “Love your neighbor”—and that neighbor might be black or brown or speak Spanish or Chinese. A Jesus who said, “All have sinned” and “You must be born again.” The Son of God, who’d died to take away the sins of the world.

That Jesus.

That’s the Jesus  she’d  asked to be Lord of her life, even though she wasn’t exactly sure what that meant. But she desper- ately longed for something—Someone—to help her figure out who she was and what she should do with her life. The guitar player in the band who’d challenged the arm-waving music fans last night to be Christ-followers had said, “Jesus came to give you life—life more abundantly! But first you must give your life to Him.”

That’s what she wanted. Abundant life! A life sold out to something she could believe in. To give herself to one hundred percent. So she’d prayed the sinner’s prayer with a woman in a denim skirt whose name she never learned, and a “peace like a river” f looded her spirit.

Last night, anyway.

But by the light of day, she was still heading in a direction—medical school—that she didn’t want to go.

Big fans circulated the air in the large tent, though mostly it just moved the stif ling July heat around. Thick, curly strands of her long, dark hair had slipped out of the clip on the back of her head and stuck in wet tendrils on her skin. Redoing the clip to get the damp hair off her neck and face, she wan- dered the aisles, idly picking up brochures about Compassion International, Habitat for Humanity, and YWAM. Huh. What if she just dropped out of pre-med and did something like this Youth With A Mission thing. Far from Phoenix and the Davies Family Tradition. Go to Haiti or India or—

“Nice boots,” giggled a female voice nearby.

Kat glanced up from the brochure. A cute brunette with a shaggy pixie cut grinned at her from behind a booth that said Find Your Calling at CCU! Kat self-consciously looked down at the Arizona-chic  cowboy boots peeking out beneath her designer jeans and f lushed. Ever since she’d arrived at the fes- tival, she felt as if she’d walked into a time-warp—girls in tank tops, peasant skirts, and pierced nostrils, guys wearing pony- tails, tattoos, shredded jeans, and T-shirts  proclaiming Jesus Freak. Kat had felt as conspicuous as a mink coat in a second- hand store.

“Thanks. I think.”

The young woman, dressed in khaki Capris and a feminine lemon-yellow tee, laughed. “This your first time to the Fest? Where’re you from?”

Kat felt strangely relieved to be talking to someone else who didn’t look like a throwback to the seventies. “Phoenix. First time.”

“Wow. You came a long way.” 

“You?”

“Detroit. But during the year I’m  a student at CCU in Chicago. I get a huge discount off my festival fee if I sit at this booth a couple hours a day during the Fest.” The girl grinned again and extended her hand across the stacks of informational literature. “I’m Brygitta Walczak.”

Kat shook her hand. “Kathryn Davies. But my friends call me Kat. With a K.”

“Like ‘kitty kat’ ? That’s cute. And . . . blue eyes with all that dark, curly hair? Bet the guys love that.”

Ignoring the remark, Kat glanced up at the banner above the booth. “What does CCU stand for?”

“Chicago Crista University. Usually we just call it Crista U. Located on the west side of Chicago. I’ll be a senior next year. Christian ed major.”

“Christian ed? What’s that?”

“You’re kidding.” Brygitta eyed her curiously. “Mm. You’re not kidding. Uh, are you a Christian?”

Kat allowed a wry smile. “For about twelve hours.”

The pixie-haired girl’s mouth dropped open, and then her amber eyes lit up. “That is so cool! Hey . . . want a Coke or something? I’ve got a cooler back here with some soft drinks. Wanna sit? I’d love some company.”

Brygitta dragged a folding chair from an unmanned booth nearby, and Kat found herself swapping life stories with her new friend. Unlike Kat, who had no siblings, Brygitta came from a large Polish family, had been raised in the Catholic church, “went Protestant” at a Youth for Christ rally in high school, planned to get a master’s degree at Crista U, and wanted to be a missionary overseas or a director of Christian education somewhere.

“Sorry I’m late, Bree,” said a male voice. “Uh-oh. Two gor- geous females. You’ve cloned yourself. I’m really in trouble now.”

Kat looked up. A young man about their same age grinned at them across the booth. He was maybe six feet, with short, sandy-brown hair combed forward over a nicely tanned face, wire-rim  sunglasses shading his eyes. No obvious tattoos or body piercings. Just cargo shorts and a T-shirt that said CCU Soccer.
Brygitta jumped up. “Oh, hi, Nick. This is Kat Davies. She’s from  the University of Arizona, first time at the Fest. Nick Taylor is my relief. He’s  a seminary student at Crista—well, headed that way, anyway.”
Nick slid off his shades and flashed a smile, hazel eyes teasing. “So, Miss Blue Eyes. Has Brygitta talked you into coming to CCU yet?”

Kat laughed and started to shake her head . . . and then stopped as her eyes caught the logo on the banner across the booth. Find Your Calling at CCU.

Transfer to Crista University? Why not?

My Thoughts:

Katherine (Kat) Davies is a new Christian who decided to follow Christ in every way she can - she even changed colleges and career path even though it was against her parents' wishes. She attends a diverse church in the middle of Chicago called SouledOut where she meets Avis Douglass, a worship leader and principal of an elementary school. Kat is in awe of Avis, but Avis is annoyed by Kat. As time goes on, Kat and Avis cross paths more an more as both reach search for the Lord's will in their lives.

Neta Jackson created characters that were real and with flaws. Avis has real family and work related problems that she deals with in believable ways. Kat is enthusiastic and sometimes "over the top" with her idealistic view of life.

This contemporary Christian novel was a fun read. It demonstrated how God's will can work in people's lives if they just allow him to. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series as I'm anxious to see what happens next!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Night of the Living Dead Christian

I confess... I have a dark side. A side that secretly enjoys things like zombies, werewolves and vampires. I like being scared by reading about them, but I don't like the more adult versions. I'm more child-like when it comes to my creatures. I enjoy them as imaginary beings that will never harm me.

When Matt Mikalatos wrote "Night of the Living Dead Christian", it sounded like something I needed to read. It appeared that it was going to be humorous and a spoof off of the "Night of the Living Dead". I had pictured so many things that this book was going to be and I couldn't wait to get it.

It was at the time I requested the book that I also found that Matt was the same author of another book that was in my TBR pile, "Imaginary Jesus". I will admit that I had bypassed this book many times because it seemed a bit offensive to me - that the book was making fun of Jesus and I really couldn't understand why a Christian book seller would promote such nonsense. Oh, I did say it was in my TBR pile, didn't I? So why would I have an offensive book in my TBR pile? Ummm - well it was a moment of weakness and it was offered free for my Nook... and it was by a Christian publisher... and.... Well, you get the picture.

While waiting for "Night of the Living Dead Christian" to arrive, I read "Imaginary Jesus". I wasn't expecting to like it and had a definite aversion to it going in. I quickly changed my mind as I realized what Mr. Mikalatos was doing and where he was going with the book, and I found it both humorous and absolutely brilliant!

If you are expecting "Night of the Living Dead Christian" to be a spoof like I did, you are in for a surprise. Yes, you will find zombies, werewolves and vampires and even a mad scientist and a robot - um - android, but there is such a powerful message hidden in the story that one is likely to not forget it easily. To put it as simply as possible, this book is a story about transformation - a true transformation.

Media and religion really can blind us to what the Bible really says about God and being a Christian. Matt Mikalatos tackles these difficult subjects with humor and yet such truth, AND he does it in the form of an entertaining and VERY enlightening story. I cannot recommend them highly enough!

Make sure to visit Matt Mikalatos' page and have a look at his Monster guide. Can you identify with any of them?

Night of the Living Dead Christian can be purchased here





Make sure to visit the other participants in the tour to see what they are saying about Matt and his book:



This book was provided by the author/publisher for this CSFF Tour. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.

By the Light of the Silvery Moon by Tricia Goyer

By the Light of the Silvery Moon
Author: Tricia Goyer
Publisher: Barbour Books (March 1, 2012)
Paperback: 320 pages
ISBN: 9781616265519
May be purchased here

About the book:
Amelia Gladstone's hopes are tied up in the Titanic--hopes for a reunion with her sister and an introduction to an admirer. But when she offers a spare ticket to a down-and-out young man, her fate is about to change.

Quentin Walpole is stunned when a sweet lady secures his passage to America--and even more surprised to find his wealthy father and older brother on board the ship. Suddenly Amelia finds herself caught between the attentions of two men, but who should she entrust her heart to? As the fateful night arrives, will Amelia lose everything to the icy waters?






My Thoughts:

Get ready to climb aboard one of the most beautiful boats ever built - the legendary Titanic. Tricia Goyer takes the reader back in time to that fateful trip that will always be in the minds and hearts of people all over the world and she brings it to life through the eyes of Amelia Gladstone.

For me, this was a bittersweet story, because it centered around the Titanic, so one already knows what will take place. So many times I was involved in the lives of the characters, and kept thinking about the hopes and dreams of all the people aboard, and finding sadness sweep over me because of the Titanic's fate.

This is an amazing and well written story. Tricia's descriptions of the ship and events were well done and appear to be well researched. Just in time to mark the 100th Anniversary of the Titanic, this book is a must read for everyone!

About the Author:

Tricia Goyer is the award winning author of thirty-two books including Beside Still Waters, Remembering You, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences and is the host of Living Inspired. She and her family make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are part of the ministry of FamilyLife.

More info about Tricia and her work can be found at: Living Inspired (http://toginet.com/shows/livinginspired) and www.triciagoyer.com.


See what others on the tour are saying about the book.


Win an Flip HD Camcorder during @TriciaGoyer's Unsinkable Titanic Giveaway and RSVP for 4/10 Titanic Party!

Celebrate the release of By the Light of the Silvery Moon with Tricia by entering her giveaway and RSVPing to her Titanic party.





One "unsinkable" winner will receive:
  • Flip HD video Camera (Make your own dramatic saga!)
  • Titanic movies from the ages {Titanic (1953) Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964), Titanic (1997)}
  • Secrets of the Titanic (Get the facts from National Geographic.)
  • And the Band Played On (Music Played on the Titanic.)
  • By the Light of the Silvery Moon by Tricia Goyer (Be swept away in this tale of love and courage.)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 9th. Winner will be announced at "Silvery Moon" Titanic Facebook Party on 4/10. Tricia will be hosting an author chat (on Facebook and Live from her website) and giving away books, gift certificates and a book club prize pack! (Ten copies of the book for your small group or book club). During the live chat Tricia will have a *special guest* join her. More details coming soon!

So grab your copy of By the Light of the Silvery Moon and join Tricia on the evening of the April 10th for a fun chat, trivia contest (How much do you know about the Titanic?) and lots of giveaways. 


Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 10th!



Join the Flock! LitFuse Publicity Group blogger 


I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher for this tour. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.

The Book of Lost Fragrances by M. J. Rose



The Book of Lost Fragrances
The Renincarnationist Series - Book 4
Author: M. J. Rose
Publisher: Atria Books (March 13, 2012)
Hardcover with 384 pages
ISBN: 9781451621303

About the Book:
A sweeping and suspenseful tale of secrets, intrigue, and lovers separated by time, all connected through the mystical qualities of a perfume created in the days of Cleopatra--and lost for 2,000 years.

Jac L'Etoile has always been haunted by the past, her memories infused with the exotic scents that she grew up surrounded by as the heir to a storied French perfume company. In order to flee the pain of those remembrances--and of her mother's suicide--she moved to America. Now, fourteen years later she and her brother have inherited the company along with it's financial problems. But when Robbie hints at an earth-shattering discovery in the family archives and then suddenly goes missing--leaving a dead body in his wake--Jac is plunged into a world she thought she'd left behind.

Back in Paris to investigate her brother's disappearance, Jac becomes haunted by the legend the House of L'Etoile has been espousing since 1799. Is there a scent that can unlock the mystery of reincarnation - or is it just another dream infused perfume?

The Book of Lost Fragrances fuses history, passion, and suspense, moving from Cleopatra's Egypt and the terrors of revolutionary France to Tibet's battle with China and the glamour of modern-day Paris. Jac's quest for the ancient perfume someone is willing to kill for becomes the key to understanding her own troubled past.

My Thoughts:

Flawlessly blending mystery, historical fiction and romance, M. J. Rose has again written a captivating story that transports the reader back in time. She pens a brilliant story focused around a fragrance that is guaranteed to keep the reader on the edge of their seat.

All of Rose's characters have a depth and reality that one can identify and build a "relationship" with. With these relationships, it makes it bittersweet when one finally finishes the story. You need to know how it's going to end - but you don't want it to end.

Although this is book number 4 of the Renincarnationist series, I found that "The Book of Lost Fragrances" was easily read as a stand alone, but be warned - after reading this one, you will want to get the rest of the series!

Warning: This is a sensual story and deals with the subjection of reincarnation.


See what others on the tour are saying about the book.


About the Author:

M.J. Rose is the international best selling author of eleven novels and two non-fiction books on marketing. Her next novel THE BOOK OF LOST FRAGRANCES (Atria/S&S) will be published in March 2012. Her fiction and non-fiction has appeared in many magazines and reviews including Oprah Magazine. She has been featured in the New York Times, Newsweek, Time, USA Today and on the Today Show, and NPR radio. Rose graduated from Syracuse University, spent the '80s in advertising, has a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and since 2005 has run the first marketing company for authors - Authorbuzz.com. The television series PAST LIFE, was based on Rose's novels in the Renincarnationist series. She is one of the founding board members of International Thriller Writers and runs the blog- Buzz, Balls & Hype. She is also the co-founder of Peroozal.com and BookTrib.com.

Rose lives in CT with her husband the musician and composer, Doug Scofield, and their very spoiled and often photographed dog, Winka.

For more information on M.J. Rose and her novels, please visit her WEBSITE. You can also find her on Facebook.




I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher for this tour. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Secret of the Lord: The Hidden Truth That Defines Your Destiny by Charles Crismier III

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!



Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

Elijah Books (September 1, 2011) 

***Special thanks to  Susan Otis/Creative Resources for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

 Charles Crismier III is the founder and president of Save America Ministries. He spent 18 years in private civil practice as an attorney and nine years as a public school teacher and has served as a pastor since 1987. Known as a defender of freedom, biblical Christianity and the Word of God, he is the author of six books. In 1993 he was the recipient of the Valley Forge Freedom Foundation’s award for significant contribution to the cause of faith and freedom. He has since 1995 hosted “Viewpoint”, a daily issues-oriented radio broadcast. He and his wife live in Richmond, VA.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


A Passionate Voice Shares Secrets on the Fear of the Lord.

In view of the disconnect that he sees between the 45 percent in America who claim to be born-again Christian or evangelicals and their lives, Charles Crismier shares biblical secrets on the neglected topic of the fear of the Lord. Using the sinking of the Titanic as a metaphor for the current spiritual condition of Americans, Crismier says the fear of the Lord is “the greatest and most significant key to avoid personal and collective shipwreck.” Known as a voice to the church and defender of the faith, Crismier is a pastor and founder and president of Save America and talk show host of “Viewpoint,” a daily issues-oriented radio broadcast, since 1995.



Product Details:
List Price: $19.99
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Elijah Books (September 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0971842868
ISBN-13: 978-0971842861



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


TITANIC SECRETS


“A tale of haunting deception hovering over
history’s most remembered disaster.”



THE LIGHTS FLICKERED OUT, and in a thunderous roar, everything on the super-ship seemed to break loose.  Beds and boilers lurched as the black hull of the RMS Titanic tilted perpendicularly; its three great propellers reared against the heavens.  And then it was gone, and 1522 souls with it.
There had been no sense of urgency when the Titanic first struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic at about 11:40PM on April 14, 1912.  When Edith Brown Haisman last saw her daddy, he was standing on deck, smoking a cigar and smiling at his wife and daughter.  “I’ll see you in New York,” he said confidently, as his family was bundled into Lifeboat No. 14.  “Everyone kept saying, ‘She’s unsinkable’,” recalled Haisman.1  But the unthinkable happened to the “unsinkable.” Emerging from the depths of the sea and lifeboat survivors is a tale of haunting deception and undisclosed secrets hovering over history’s most remembered disaster.

“A Night to Remember”
It was “A Night to Remember” said Walter Lord in his classic 1955 best seller.  But the Titanic was by no means the largest disaster in modern history.  Unlike the Lusitania and the Hindenburg, it had virtually no political import.  “Yet it remains the only disaster that people generally care about.” Stephen Cox, author of The Titanic Story, asks, “What is there about the Titanic story that keeps us coming back to it?  What is the significance of this story?” “You can have a real story without risks, but the best stories are those that ask the riskiest questions about good and bad.  When we try to answer them, we recover our sense of dignity of human life....  That’s why we keep coming back to the Titanic story - because it makes us think about the things that matter.”2
It is little wonder, then, that historian Steven Biel in his reminiscing cultural history of the disaster, Down With the Old Canoe, speculates that “The three most written-about subjects of all-time” may be “Jesus, the Civil War, and the Titanic.”3
“Buried 12,000 feet beneath the sea in total darkness, gone from a world it momentarily defined, the Titanic refuses to die.” “It’s a morality play...,” observed Newsweek, “a biblical warning to those who would dare to challenge the Almighty....”4

“We’re All on the Titanic”
It remains a night to forget for those who were on board, but a night to remember for the world.  It is an irresistible tale of tragedy and truth.  “Seventeen movies, eighteen documentaries and at least 130 books have attempted to reveal the moral and spiritual mysteries played out in the drama of deception played out before the world on the decks of the Titanic.”
“It’s a moment in time that encapsulates what life is all about,” said Tullock, of RMS Titanic, Inc.5   The Titanic wasn’t annihilated in an instant.  It took two hours and forty minutes to sink, during which people - rich and poor, young and old - had to make choices.  “It is an interesting fact that newspaper reports, magazine articles and books published shortly after the Titanic’s sinking referred to eternal truths,” wrote Bob Garner, senior producer for Focus on the Family.  Yet “most of these were secular publications,” he noted.  Garner had been a working associate of Dr. Robert Ballard, who first discovered the remains of the great ship in 1985, resting two miles down on the ocean floor in the cold, pitch-blackness of the North Atlantic.6
There are pivotal points in our lives when we are brought face-to-face with the things in life that matter most.  At those junctures are choices that must be made, choices that inevitably determine the course of destiny.  Deception and undisclosed secrets deliver us to the brink of destiny.  “It’s a metaphor” for life, observed James Cameron, director of the extravaganza film production in 1996.  In a very real sense, “We’re all on the “Titanic.”7

The “Unsinkable”
The Titanic was large even by today’s standards.  This was the grandest of the grand, “representing all the power, wealth, luxury and arrogance of its age.” “The Titanic was built at the height of the Industrial Age, a time when technology ruled as a ‘god’.” She was promoted as “unsinkable,” with her 16 watertight compartments.  Several passengers wrote in their diaries that they overheard people claim, “even God couldn’t sink this ship.”8
Yet the unthinkable happened to the “unsinkable.” One deception led to another.  Undisclosed secrets obscured what might otherwise have seemed obvious.  Passengers boarded, brashly confident in their safety.  The ill-fated Capt. Edward J. Smith was also boldly confident, cranking up the speed to set a new trans-Atlantic speed record, even as the regal vessel approached the well-known North Atlantic ice fields.  Unbeknownst to unsuspecting passengers, no safety drills had been conducted.
The wireless operators ignored or made light of repeated warnings of icebergs ahead.  Even the captain seemed complacent.  At about 11PM, when the ship’s crew spotted “iceberg ahead,” frantic orders were given to turn the massive liner.  There are few more dramatic or spine-tingling lines in the history of cinema than those of the Titanic captain in an earlier film when, upon news of “iceberg dead ahead,” he cries pleadingly to his ship, “turn,” “Turn,” “TURN!” exclaiming, “Dearest God!” And upon news of having struck the berg, he utters softly, “Impossible!”
Yet the deception continued.  Even though a three-hundred foot slice a little over a quarter-inch wide was scraped by the ice through the hull, nothing was detectible by anyone on board.  But the “unsinkable”  ship had been mortally wounded.  Yet even that fact remained a virtual secret.
Still, nothing was detected by the passengers on board, even as the “watertight”  compartments filled with water.  Few had any clue what was happening.  Many joked even when ordered to begin boarding lifeboats.  Not until the “unsinkable” began listing and tilting did passengers realize they were in trouble.  That which long seems “secret”  inevitably surfaces to the surprise of the unsuspecting.
“It was dreadful,” remembered Eva Hart, a 7 year old survivor who, with her mother, was put on a lifeboat as her father was left behind.  She could hear the screams echoing across the freezing waters as the huge ship rose, and suddenly slipped below, and all was darkness.  “It was absolutely dreadful,” she lamented.9
And so it will be when the consequences of creeping spiritual deception become manifested in our lives as we approach the end of the age.  Pomp, pride, power, perks and position keep our spirits falsely afloat while this great “unsinkable” ship of earth takes on water, ready to plunge into the abyss where time and eternity meet.  The overwhelming majority will be deceived.  Secrets that seduced will surface too late.  Their destiny will be determined.  Their mournful cries will be deafening.  The unthinkable will happen to the unsinkable.  It will be dreadful.  Absolutely dreadful.  Yet there is a key... a missing key.

The Missing Key
“It looked for all the world like an ordinary key, but this unremarkable piece of metal could have saved the Titanic from disaster.” Such were the opening words in a heart-rending report of remorse in the Telegraph online paper published in the United Kingdom August 30, 2007.10
Catastrophically for the Titanic and her 1522 passengers that lost their lives, the key’s owner, the Second Officer, David Blair, was removed from the crew at the last minute, and in his haste, forgot to hand it to his replacement.  The key is thought to have fitted the locker that contained the crow’s nest binoculars, vital to detecting lurking threats to the liner in pre-sonar days.  Without the glasses, lookouts in the crow’s nest had to rely on their own eyes, which were unable to perceive the disaster lying ahead until it was too late.
A survivor, Fred Fleet, was called by Congress to testify.  When asked by the chairing U.S. Senator how much sooner the binoculars would have made the looming iceberg visible, he answered, “Enough to get out of the way.”
Ninety-five years later, the key and its significance had truly come to light and was put up for auction.  Alan Aldridge, auctioneer, said, “We think this key is one of the most important artifacts from the Titanic to come to light.” “It is the key that had the potential to save the Titanic.”

The Significance of Perceived Insignificance
For want of a key, the Titanic sank.  For lack of a seemingly insignificant piece of metal, the world’s greatest luxury liner and most of those who trusted in her safety met their demise.  Dreadful!  The unthinkable happened to the unsinkable.
And so it will be as the great ship of this world plunges at breakneck speed, setting new global and economic records, into the freezing and darkening waters of end-time deception.  For most, it is not what we know but what we don’t know, what remains “secret,” that will define a destiny of destruction, both temporally and eternally.  Yet we plunge proudly ahead, thinking we are “unsinkable.” This is true for both professing believers and unbelievers.  Both went down with the Titanic for lack of a key.
The key was not truly seen as a significant until after the disaster.  Yet it was this seemingly insignificant key that would have provided the clarity of vision and depth of understanding to avoid the deceptively dangerous iceberg that lay ahead.
At this remarkable and unprecedented moment in human history, the greatest and most significant key to avoid personal and collective shipwreck is ignored or deemed relatively insignificant.  The Bible, the very inspired Word of God himself, has become either disregarded or disdained.  Yet it alone, insignificant as it may seem in light of mans’ titanic achievements, provides the key to life, revealing the dangers lurking not only in the swirling waters around us but in the dark and turbulent waters ahead.

Titanic’s Last Secrets
The world now remembers... again.  It has been a century since the Titanic met its moment of truth.  The tale of terror never ceases to grip our moral and spiritual imagination.  Those memories are embellished with a thousand “What IF’s.” Yet another account has now surfaced, probing deeply below the surface discussions and the usually-repeated observations that haunt us to this day.  Might there have been a more fundamental “secret” laying undisclosed at the door of Titanic’s demise?  Enter Titanic’s Last Secret published in 2008.
This “riveting book weaves new evidence from the depths with historical accounts to reveal dark, hidden truths about the deadly voyage.”  The “shocking conclusion: What happened aboard the Titanic that night was far worse than anyone ever guessed.”11
In “a fresh, moving, and irresistible portrait of the doomed ship, combining... secret archives and forensic engineering... Brad Marsden... offers haunting new conclusions about Titanic: It did not have to happen this way.  They did not have to die.”12  But why?
“The true story of Titanic has never been told,” wrote Tom McCluskie.  “I know things nobody else knows.”13  Indeed he did.  He had worked at the great shipyard, Harland and Wolf (where Titanic was built), from 1965 to 1997.  He ended his career as the company archivist, and was the author of four books on Olympic-class ships.  His access to shipyard records made him the world’s most direct living link to the people who had built Titanic.
The Titanic had been flawed from its “foundation.” The same flaw in its sister ships had become well apparent and major effort was made to retrofit them in order to structurally remedy their deadly affects.  Corners had been cut in construction so as to reduce costs of construction as well as continuing costs of coal needed to fuel the required structural weight.  Pursuit of profit compromised architectural and engineering principle.  And the rest is a wake of horror defining a century of history.
The expansion joints on the deck and hull of the massive Titanic were far from adequate.  The steel plating called for by the architectural plans was so reduced as to compromise engineering integrity of the vessel.  And “every flaw in Titanic’s hull had stolen minutes from the lives of 1504 people who might otherwise have been rescued by the Carpathia.”14
McCluskie noted: “You don’t design two sister ships, you design one.  Then you use the same set of plans to build both of them.  On the Titanic drawings, you can see lots of changes made by Thomas Andrews (the architect) after he discovered design flaws during Olympic’s sea trials.” “Olympic must have been right on the edge of coming apart.”15  “Yet Titanic was given only one day of sea trial after such troubling discoveries.
What about the British Board of Trade inquiry?  “At the inquiry,” said McCluskie, “it was a whitewash to reassure the world that British ships were safe.”16  “However, from private documentation within the company which I saw many times, they determined that it was very likely that the ship had broken in half (on the surface).  It was never made public.”17
Pirrie and Ismay, the owner and principal of the Titanic project, whose decisions had determined the destiny of so many, “must have been terrified when they’d figured that out [that the known weak joints had caused the “unsinkable” to collapse].  A public discussion of the weaknesses in their Ship of Dreams would have ruined them.  They’d had no choice but to keep them secret.”18

Collision Course With Destiny
We are on a collision course with destiny.  Destruction for most lies ahead.  Our vision is clouded.  Our perspective is limited to our personal or collective earth-bound thoughts, yet the Creator, the Lord of history, knows what lies ahead.  He sees what is “secret” to us.  The Bible is our binocular.  It is the “key” that opens our vision, our hearts and our understanding to see beyond our naked human visual limitations.  Yet we must value the key enough to get out the “binocular” that will enable us to see the dastardly deceptions ahead that lurk below life’s surface like a deadly iceberg, waiting to destroy the unwary.
Pastor and people, presidents, potentates and the poor are all on board mans’ prideful ship, churning headlong into the darkness of deception.  Never in human history have the forces of deception combined with the Devil’s demonic host into such a formidable agent of destruction to lead you into perdition.  The greatest warnings to you and me come from our Lord himself and from His disciples.  The telegraphed warnings are principally to the church, to those who profess to be followers of Christ.
Most will not heed the warnings.  The apostle Paul warned that they will be gripped by “strong delusion” and that they will “believe a lie”  (II Thess. 2:9-12).  Some pastors, through proud and neglectful delay, will, like the Captain of the Titanic in a last desperate moment, cry, “Turn,” “TURN,” “TURN!”  But it will be too late.  They will wince silently in eternal remorse, “Dearest God.” “Impossible!”
Most will simply plunge blindly ahead, deceptively convinced of the unsinkability of their ship in which they have idolatrously placed their trust.  Hordes will trust the counterfeit Christ for a last great fling on the titanic of earth, spurning the hope and direction promised by Christ, the “Captain of their salvation” (Heb. 2:10), and His seemingly insignificant key.  The carnage will be dreadful.  Absolutely dreadful!
Don’t let it happen to you!  The SECRET of the Lord may well become your salvation.

Your Key to Avoid Deception
The Scriptures, known as the Bible or “God’s Word,” provide the “key”  to avoid end-time deception.  Yet for most its truths remain a virtual “secret.”  Our problem is not that we do not have the key but that we do not truly and seriously seek its significance so as to properly put it to use in order that we can be guided in our lives to avoid the icebergs of life and the massive deception that now threatens to destroy us.
This book is an effort to take out the “binocular” of God’s Word so as to give a more distant and distinct view of the deception now surrounding us and of the profound danger that lies ahead if we do not make timely course correction.  Destiny will be determined by the value we place upon God’s “key,” so as to discover The SECRET of the Lord.
Remember, the Titanic is a metaphor for life.  In a significant sense, “We’re all on the Titanic” together.  We may just want to replace the earthly captains in whom we trust with Yeshua, the Messiah, the Christ, who alone is the true “Captain” of our salvation and who alone can guide us in this particularly desperate moment of history through the multiplied icebergs of deception that threaten shipwreck to our lives.  In these choppy waters, The SECRET of the Lord lies ahead.
Bon Voyage!



1.  David A. Kaplan and Anna Underwood, “The Iceberg Cometh”, Newsweek, Nov. 25, 1996, pp.68-73.

2.  Stephen Cox, Richmond Times Dispatch, April 15, 2001, p. F3.

3.  David A. Kaplan and Anna Underwood, Newsweek, p. 69.

4.  Ibid, p. 73.

5. Ibid, p. 69.

6.  Bob Garner, “Lessons From the Titanic,” Focus on the Family, April 1997, p. 1-3.

7.  Kim Masters, “Glub, Glub, Glub....”, TIME, Nov. 25, 1996, p. 104.

8.  Bob Garner, “Lessons From the Titanic,” Focus on the Family, p. 2.

9.  Ibid, p. 3.

10.  Graham Tibbetts, “Key That Could Have Saved the Titanic,” Telegraph.co.uk, August 30, 2007.

11.  Brad Matsen, Titanic’s Last Secrets (New York, Twelve, Hatchette Book Group, 2008), back cover.

12.  Ibid.

13.  Ibid, p. 227.

14.  Ibid, p. 261.

15.  Ibid, p. 238-39.

16.  Ibid, p. 241.

17.  Ibid, p. 239.

18.  Ibid, p. 261.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Brush of Angel's Wings by Ruth Reid

Brush of Angel's Wings
A Heaven On Earth Novel Bk #2
Author: Ruth Reid
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (April 10, 2012)
ISBN: 9781595547897
Paperback: 368 pages

My Thoughts:

"Brush of Angel's Wings" was a difficult book for me to "get into". I had a hard time with both Rachel and Jordan (the main characters). They were supposed to both be at least 20 years old, but they came across as so much younger and quite immature. As I read, I kept picturing them as being around 14 or 15 and had to stop and remind myself they were older. Thankfully, this changed as the story continued.

The book hinted about an event that took place with Rachel's brother and made me feel like I was missing something. One eventually gets most of the back story as the novel continues. I didn't realize until after finishing, that this was the second book in the series. Even though this could be read as a stand alone, I would suggest that one should start with the first book "The Promise of an Angel".

Along with the story of Rachel and Jordan, runs a side story of an angel and a fallen angel. These angels seem to be competing for Rachel's and Jordan's souls. Personally, I didn't feel that this competition did anything to help enhance the story, but instead, sidetracked and at times greatly annoyed me.

After about the first half of the book, the story picked up and the main characters became much more realistic in both attitude and age. I really began to enjoy the story, but then the angel story would interrupt for a few paragraphs, and seemed to pull me out of the world I was getting lost in.

With some really heart-tugging moments and some humor added throughout, this could have been a 4 star book (even with a rough start). However, for me, the good angel/bad angel war didn't add anything to the story, but instead subtracted a star.



Book Description (from Thomas Nelson):
Rachel and Jordan's feelings for each other are hostile at first, but angelic intervention helps the two discover peace . . . and perhaps love.
The youngest and last unmarried of four sisters, Rachel Hartlzer spends most of her time helping with barn chores. Her role abruptly changes when her father hires Jordan Engles, the son he always wanted.
As Jordan takes on brotherly roles around the house, like escorting Rachel to the youth singing, the enmity between the two grows. Besides, Jordan has one foot in the Englisch world and is determined not to get involved with an Amish girl.
Neither realizes that God has sent an angel, Nathaniel, to help mend their hearts. The angel’s intervention helps them find peace and healing in accepting God's will for their lives.

About the Author:

Ruth Reid is a full-time pharmacist who lives in Florida with her husband and three children. When attending Ferris State University School of Pharmacy in Big Rapids, Michigan, she lived on the outskirts of an Amish community and had several occasions to visit the Amish farms. Her interest grew into love as she saw the beauty in living a simple life.



I received this book through the Booksneeze program. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.

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