Category Archives: Reviews

A fair and honest opinion about someone else’s work.

Book Review: The Gene Rift

From the beginning hook to the ending cliff hanger, The Gene Rift provides a swift moving tale of switched identities. Escape from The Institute, and its control over her life, brings Kate Dennard into a world that turns her own upside down. In the process of protecting her son, as well as the love of her life, Kate makes difficult choices and fights against the system that would steal her ability to do so.

The author, J. Andersen is the mastermind behind the sequel to The Breeding Tree. Also author of Lemons, and award winning finalist for At What Cost, J. Andersen demonstrates a willingness to tackle tough subjects for the YA genre. Themes of abortion, euthanasia, murder and manipulation are woven through stories that cannot be put down. They are entertaining and spellbinding!

Kate’s choices took her away from the normalcy of a life she thought she wanted, into a life of uncertainty. She said, “Life was simpler, and I didn’t feel the need to stand up for what I believe in and thus change the course of my entire life.” Kate’s line of thinking sounds a lot like ours, when faced with difficulty. Will we settle for the easy road or challenge the status quo?

Like the author, take a courageous risk by asking questions of the people around you. Find out what they value and use the open door to dare digging deeper into what you believe.

You’ll be entranced by The Breeding Tree and The Gene Rift saga. The tension between characters creates realistic relationships and keeps you on the edge of your seat!


Disclaimer: I received an Advance Reader’s Copy from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Book Review: Congo Dawn by Jeanette Windle

Where is God in suffering? Why does He permit darkness in the paradise He created? Congo Dawn tells the story of woman asking those questions. Her post-Marine assignment as translator for an international corporation takes her deep into the jungle and face to face with injustice and greed. In her quest to do what’s right, Robin Duncan finds out the good guys and the bad guys aren’t always readily distinguishable.

Award-winning author and speaker Jeanette Windle knows the intricacies of living in a third world country; she grew up in Colombia. Her travels abroad add flavor to her writing and her knack for developing characters creates an intriguing story. Congo Dawn won the Golden Scroll 2013 Novel of the Year. All Saints, Jeanette’s newly released book with Michael Spurlock, is being released today as a movie

Congo Dawn raises interesting questions about our responsibility to address the injustices in front of us. In fact, Robin’s friend, Dr. Stewart says “refusing to address injustices that pushed people into rebellion was as much calling evil good and good evil as the rebels themselves.”

At a time when our country is battling racial divides and inequities, the topics tackled in Congo Dawn are as relevant as ever, to finding peaceful solutions. We cannot say we worship the same Creator, while spewing hostilities at each other. “But to make a stand against evil is always the right decision, whatever the consequences.”

Do you feel you can’t make a difference against evil? Dr. Stewart’s sister says your candle can pierce the darkness, and with others, can “make up a mighty bonfire against the night.”

Get a copy of Congo Dawn. It will entertain and enlighten you, but it will also stretch you to look at your sphere of influence in a new way!


Book Review & a Giveaway:  Hope Prevails

Have you dealt with depression? I have. And that’s why I was excited about getting my hands on this book. But Hope Prevails is so much more than a how-to about tackling the darkness of soul. It also takes a look at the lies we believe, the way we compare ourselves to others, and how worry says “I can‘t trust God to take care of me.”

The author, Dr. Michelle Bengtson is a board certified clinical neuropsychologist with more than 20 years of experience in the diagnosis and treatment of medical and mental disorders. However, Dr. Michelle says her greatest shock came when she tried the same treatment suggestions for her own depression that she typically offered her patients – and they didn’t work. She learned there was another element that needed to be addressed, and that was the spiritual side of depression.

Dr. Michelle asks, “How would you like to be free not only from depression but also from the fear of depression, the shadow of depression?”

To the normal person, this might not seem like an important question. But to someone who struggles with depression, the shadow is a part of daily life. To break free of that shadow would mean you, too, can have a good day when the sun is shining. You won’t look at others and wonder why you’re different. 

Did you know depression is a silent epidemic? Dr. Michelle says 1 in 4 adults suffer, 1 in 8 teens suffer, and 1 in 33 children suffer from this malady. She offers free resources on her website for those seeking to help a loved one and her book is a handbook to the many layers of depression and finding the steps out of it.

We live in a culture that glorifies busyness. Yet, Dr. Michelle says stress, whether good or bad, can contribute to depression. She includes a prescription, prayer, and praise songs at the end of each chapter to guide a time of reflection. Through personal examples, the author doesn’t diminish despair, but shows how she wrestled with it and pushed through it. Dr. Michelle equates depression with Scripture’s reference to a spirit of heaviness. She reminds us that David, too, experienced the pit of depression. Yet he called out to God and found hope in the One who heals our broken and wounded places.

I wish I could get a copy of Hope Prevails into the hands of everyone I know, because the principles go beyond dealing with depression, to learning how to live a victorious life. The next best thing I can do is offer a giveaway!

I am giving away an autographed copy from the author, courtesy of Revell Publishers, to one reader in the continental United States. Leave a comment on my blog (at the top of this post, under the title) and respond to this question, “Have you had any tough times that you are now thankful for?” You will be entered into the drawing to be held five days from today, August 15. I can’t wait to hear your stories!


P.S. Each person who leaves a comment will also receive a free pdf, “What God Says About You,” from Dr. Michelle Bengtson, in Hope Prevails!

Disclosure of Material: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through The Blog About Network book review program in exchange for a fair and honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Book Review: Real Artists Don’t Starve #dontstarvebook

Real Artists Don’t Starve is a new release from author of national bestseller, The Art of Work. Jeff Goins says, “Becoming a Thriving Artist is not just about making a living; it’s about setting your work up for success.”

Jeff establishes that model for success by laying out 12 Rules of the New Renaissance. He proposes the shift from Starving Artists to Thriving Artists has to be set in the context of three major themes: mind-set, market, and money.

Jeff Goins is no stranger to the art arena. He has traveled as a musician and built an online business using the power of words. He is the author of four books and a former Communications Director for a nonprofit.

Real Artists Don’t Starve will challenge the way you look at your art. And Jeff illustrates the Rules of the New Renaissance with the stories of people from all walks of life… George Lucas, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and the rest of the Inklings, Michelangelo, Steve Jobs, Adrian Cardenas, John Grisham, Jim Henson, Michael Caine, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jeff Bezos, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Cirque du Soleil, Alan Bean, Walt Disney, and so many more.

Real Artists Don’t Starve tackles interesting questions about industry standards for the art world. Who determines the value of an artist’s work? What is the difference between an original and a copycat? Is a network necessary? Should a creative only focus on a single craft?

Jeff says we’re on the verge of a New Renaissance, and provides tools to position you in the path. He advocates that we have to leave the familiar, and through a series of gradual changes, become a truer version of who we are meant to be.

I highly recommend this book. It is for CEO’s, entrepreneurs, and everyone who has a gift to offer the world. It challenges the status quo of settling for someone else’s standard, and, instead proposes, “What’s out there, however scary it may be, is almost certainly better than staying where we are now.”

Steve Hanselman, Jeff’s agent, says this book is not about being creative but about being a creative person. How could your creativity effect your work environment?

Are you stuck in the mindset of the Starving Artist? Isn’t it time to bring fresh insight to the value you offer the world? Be encouraged. Because of new opportunities and skills developed, curiosity and multiple disciplines, your best work lays ahead of you!


 Disclosure of Material: I received this book free from the publisher for the Real Artists Don’t Starve Launch Team. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 Right now, Jeff Goins is offering THREE amazing bonuses worth over $200 when you pre-order his new book, Real Artists Don’t Starve. I am participating as an affiliate in his Launch Team because I resonate with his work. This offer is only available until June 6th, so act quickly.

Get it here ===>

When you click the link above and pre-order his book, Jeff is giving you THREE amazing bonuses worth over $200.

Here are the bonuses:

Bonus #1: The Real Artists Don’t Starve Online Course ($100)

In this 12-part video course, Jeff teaches how to make a living off your art, elaborating on the principles in the book and sharing his own knowledge and experience.

Bonus #2: All the Expert Interview Transcripts

Learn from the hundreds of experts and Thriving Artists Jeff interviewed during the research of this book.

Bonus #3: Exclusive Community Access

Get special access to a private Facebook group where Jeff will answer your questions regularly and you can connect with others reading the book.

You want those bonuses, don’t you? Sign up now and take your gift to the next level!

Book Review: God’s Easter Miracles

Author, Lee Ann Mancini and Illustrator, Dan Sharp have done it again, in creating adorable caricatures that are relatable and entertaining. In God’s Easter Miracles, sea creatures in vibrant colors tell a story in the saga of the Sea Kids.

Easter has come to the coralhood. The Sea Kids are looking forward to the egg hunt after church. One Sea Kid, Paul, is sad because he didn’t find an egg marked for the special prize. Jimmy has a dilemma when he is asked to share one of his eggs. All of the Sea Kids face a crisis when Brian’s brother is in a boating accident. How will they respond?

God’s Easter Miracles provides a story arc, problem solving for children, learning practical ways to care for others, and what it means to be a follower of Jesus. It even has a hidden symbol that adds a puzzle to solve. I am delighted to recommend this gem to parents, grands, and all who love children. It tackles tough topics like autism, trauma, and the way God answers prayers, with sensitivity and compassion. And it opens the door for conversations with the little ones in your life, as you read about Jimmy the seahorse, Lenny the manatee, and all of the Sea Kids at Beneath the Sea Play Park. This is a book that extends beyond a holiday, to year-round faith-building fun!


Disclosure of Material: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: A Wife’s Secret to Happiness #wifestylin

In A Wife’s Secret to Happiness, author Jen Weaver says God longs to give eleven specific blessings to your life and marriage. She explores those gifts by sometimes tackling controversial issues in our culture today… submission, respect, interdependence and busyness, among others. I guarantee this book will make you squirm. Even as I celebrate my 30th anniversary this year, I find multiple areas in A Wife’s Secret to Happiness that challenge me to keep growing as a wife.

Jen Weaver is a millennial who is reaching out to her generation with a genuine love for Jesus and His Word. She’s a wife and mom working to flesh out the principles of God’s love in the context of her marriage, and she does so with refreshing transparency.

All girls walk down the aisle toward marital bliss, but few find the happily ever after. Jen proposes that we are looking instead, for unity, provision, safety, intimacy and partnership.

“Submission is divine empowerment that culture has confused and the enemy has contorted to mean oppression.” Jen uses the story of Naaman to illustrate her point. Naaman had leprosy and was told by the man of God to go and wash in the waters of the River Jordan. But Naaman was a person of influence who felt he was above following orders. When he submitted to the directions, he received the healing. Jen uses Naaman’s story, and others like him, to help us understand the blessings we receive when we do things God’s way. And really, that is the whole point, that following God’s plan is the way we find self-worth and confidence, instead of expecting our husbands to define who we are.

“Your man is part of God’s generosity in your life- the human heart to love you like Christ loves the church. Even if he falters, he is still part of God’s provision. Your man is not the ultimate provider. God is.”  Do you see how this is a heart issue? We’ve been chasing happiness instead of chasing God. He wants to meet our needs. He wants a relationship with each of us!

Jen says we are warriors, “doing mighty things in our families and marriages.” Just as Queen Esther filled a unique position and function as King Xerxes’ wife. She didn’t “usurp her husband’s authority or throw his stupidity in his face. She seeks the Lord and proves her character is of great worth.”

Jen brings up hard issues, and they’re hard to implement. But she also raises an important question. What does it mean to honor my husband?

Buy this book and explore the nuances in your own relationship with your husband. Look at the quizzes and online bonus tools. You just may be inspired to get a renewed perspective on your marriage, too!

I am giving away a copy of A Wife’s Secret to Happiness, courtesy of Leafwood Publishers, to one reader in the continental United States. Leave a comment on my blog (at the top of this post, under the title) about one of the ways you honor your marriage, and you will be entered into the drawing to be held on Saturday morning, March 25.

Join the #wifestylin movement!


Disclosure of Material: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through The BlogAbout Network book review program in exchange for a fair and honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: 31 Verses to Write on Your Heart

Liz Curtis Higgs brings a bouquet of verses to the table and delicately places them on a banquet of lace. Her words soothe and cajole. Her illustrations reaffirm. As she serves up 31 Verses to Write on Your Heart, she also offers up sage wisdom: “When you spend time in God’s Word, life starts making sense. The broken places inside you begin to heal. Darkness and discouragement give way to hope.”

Beloved author and speaker Liz Curtis Higgs has learned the beauty of that advice. A seasoned student of the Bible, Liz has authored more than 30 books with 4.6 million copies in print.

When used as a daily devotional in collaboration with the Study Guide tucked into the back, this little treasure will unlock God’s Word in a new way and stimulate your thirst to dig further. Incorporating over 30 translations of the Bible, Liz dissects each verse in order to glean the rich fullness packed therein. She also references the Hebrew and Greek words, in order to mine out the original intent.

One example that shone for me, was the chapter based on Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Liz talks about the meticulous process a blacksmith follows to sharpen an iron blade. A metal file is drawn across the blade to create a sharp edge. The blade is rubbed against an oiled whetstone to smooth away the rough edge. Then heavy sandpaper blends the edge with the rest of the surface. What does that have to do with people? When we care about each other, we use words to open gently, polish and smooth over old wounds. We sharpen each other’s faith “with a timely word.”

31 Verses to Write on Your Heart is a delightful tool to put to work month after month. From 31 passages to 31 tips for absorbing them into your life, 31 Verses will equip you to carry God’s Word with you wherever you go!


FTC disclaimer: “I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.”


Book Review: Teach Us to Want

Do you wonder if ambition is ungodly? Do you think you shouldn’t chase your dreams because they don’t feel “spiritual?” Jen Pollock Michel tackles questions of how to understand the desires that move us, in her book, Teach Us to Want.

Jen is gifted at unwrapping Scripture in understandable language. Her writings appear in Christianity Today, Beautiful Orthodoxy, The Gospel Coalition, Today in the Word and The American Bible Society. Jen asks, “Is it true that the hardest, least desirable choice is the most obviously holy? Is it true that personal desire must never be trusted?”

The process of finding answers to her own questions, leads us down a path of introspection and searching. She ponders the place of self-salvation and the one where we embrace God’s will.

How important is this topic? Life-changing. Because it is the difference between trusting God, or demanding control. Jen says, “Holy prayers of desire don’t simply aim to get something from God: they’re ambitious to get God in us.”

If you’re human, you can relate to this book. We’ve all experienced disappointment and dashed dreams. But Jen Pollock Michel offers something more: hope and the knowledge that the Lord has a good plan in store for us. She unpacks how the desires of our heart can impact the expression of our faith. And desire is a wanted characteristic, instead of taboo, because it unveils opportunities the Lord wants to use through our God-given gifts.

Read it and be blessed!


Book Review: In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day

Do you have a lion you’re facing, that project looming larger than life? What about a fear you just can’t tackle? In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day will help you stare down your obstacle with a bravery you just didn’t know was possible. And, yes, it is that good. Mark Batterson has lassoed a beast many of us face, as we seek the courage to dream big dreams with God.

Mark Batterson is the author of a dozen books, including The Circle Maker, and the lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C. His innovative look at the definition of success will cause you to rethink your view of God’s work in your life.
I promise this book will make you stop in your tracks. Batterson says when we fail to step out of our comfort zones, we rob God of the glory He wants to showcase in our lives. When there is no problem to be overcome, there will be no miracle experienced, because we’re not fully relying on the Lord to do the unexpected. He says we’re called to chase opportunities and take risks for God’s best.
Are there any irrational fears and misconceptions that keep you from God’s best for your life? It’s time to reframe them.
Are there difficult circumstances you’re asking God to get you out of? It’s time to ask Him what He wants you to get out of them.
Is uncertainty rocking your faith? It’s time for your faith to embrace uncertainty. Batterson contends risk taking is at the heart of righteousness.
I chose to read this book because of the tagline: How to Survive and Thrive When Opportunity Roars. Are there times when you feel like me, an opportunity is scarier than the potential? This book helps with that! Batterson provides tips to develop the skills needed for the path. Get your own copy today and go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention!
FTC disclaimer: “I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.”

Book Review & a Christmas Giveaway! Listen, Love, Repeat

Listen, Love, Repeat: Other-Centered Living in a Self-Centered World intrigued me right off. In the Table of Contents, Karen Ehman hit all of my favorite buttons… “Living a Life of Welcome,” “How to Care for your Clan,” Recipes, Gift Tags and many more ways to express affection for the people in your life.

Karen Ehman is an author and speaker with Proverbs 31 Ministries who has earned the right to be heard. Other works include Keep It Shut: What to Say, How to Say It, and When to Say Nothing at All and Let. It. Go. How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking in Faith. Listen, Love, Repeat: Other-Centered Living in a Self-Centered World carries on her theme of making words count.

The principles Karen talks about are so counter-intuitive, they are a stark reminder in our selfie culture to put others first. Examples from the pages of history and the lives of those seeking to please God are peppered with stories from her own family and experiences. Here’s a sampling of thoughts:

Jesus lived on alert, noticing those “who needed a look, a word, or a touch from Him.” (pg 19)

Jesus “didn’t preach to everyone, heal everyone, comfort everyone, or even convert everyone. He simply showed up where God told Him to go and did what God told Him to do.” (pg 42)

“Kindness is contagious. Our loving actions might seem like they are only intended for one person. In truth, they are like a cannonball of kindness that splashes waves of love onto the hearts of all nearby.” (pg 63)

Hebrews 13:1 urges, ‘Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.’ The phrase keep on here in the original Greek is from the root word meneto, which means ‘to wait, stay, abide or remain.’ It is a verb – an action word. In a sense, it means to never stop showing up.” (pg 230)

Do you have some bristly people in your life? Get this book! Karen includes tips to help stay the course as you seek to sew goodwill into their lives!

Karen’s writing resonates with those who are tired of doing life “business as usual.” Her insights are a refreshing commentary on the way to find fulfillment in your day-to-day activities. I am so glad for her nudge to honor others by listening to their “heart drops” in an effort to encourage and lend a helping hand.

Are you curious yet? Get your own copy today (On sale right now for $2.99!). Or, you can enter the drawing! I am giving away a copy, courtesy of Zondervan Publishers, to one reader in the continental United States. Leave a comment on my blog (at the top of this post, under the title) about one of your favorite ways to “Scatter Kindness,” and you will be entered into the drawing to be held on Christmas Eve. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!


Disclosure of Material: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through The BlogAbout Network book review program in exchange for a fair and honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”