Psalm 27:1

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Passages Book Review

How Reading The Bible In A Year 
Will Change Everything For You

SUMMARY:  How a few passages a day will change your whole life.
     Many of us would love to read the Bible more often, but we rarely make time for more than a few verses on the run.
     But the Bible was never meant to be read in short segments here and there when you can fit it in.  The Bible is meant to be experienced in sizeable chunks - in passages - and read daily.  It is not a book of mystical incantations, but the story of God's passionate love - for you.  It is not a distant relic, but a best friend offering counsel and companionship - for today.
     Through his own remarkable story, Brian Hardin shows you how reading through the Bible in a year changed his life and how it will change yours too.  Passages goes beyond exploring how the Bible was meant to be read, providing three distinct Bible reading plans to help you get started doing it right now.
     Hardin, whose daily podcast has more than a million listeners a month, guarantees you a life revolution, if you will only commit to a few minutes a day to read through the Bible in a year.
     As you rediscover the joy of reading the Bible, visit and join a community of fellow readers to share your thoughts on your new adventure.

REVIEW: All throughout this book, Brian Hardin encourages you to step out and read the bible.  He tells his personal history, of his own time reading it and how he has grown.  Also included are letters from listeners of his podcast who have been touched and have grown listening to his recordings and reading the bible on their own.  Three different reading plans are listed in the back to give you some options if you are just getting started.  Brian suggests instead of reading one verse at a time to read a couple of chapters together to get a better understanding of what is going on in the passage and see what God is saying to you personally.  It doesn't matter when you get started but that you do.  He suggests reading it out loud or listen to it being read to get a better feel of what the passage is saying.

     This is a good book if you are just getting started reading your bible no matter how long you have been a Christian.  It will give you some good helps and directions on how to get started.

This book was provided by Litfuse Publicity Group for review without compensation.

Brian Hardin is a speaker, photographer, record producer, and an ordained minister.   In 2006, he created the Daily Audio Bible, an online podcast that now delivers 1.5 million downloads a month.  He has produced over 150 albums and works with artists and the arts extensively.  He is married to Christian musician Jill Parr.

To Heaven and Back Book Review

A Doctor's Extraordinary Account 
of Her Death, Heaven, Angels, and Life Again
A True Story

SUMMARY:  A kayak accident during a South American adventure takes one woman to heaven - where she experienced God's peace, joy, and angels - and back to life again.
     In 1999 in the Los Rios region of southern Chile, orthopaedic surgeon, devoted wife, and loving mother Dr. Mary Neal drowned in a kayak accident.  While cascading down a waterfall, her kayak became pinned at the bottom and she was immediately and completely submerged.  Despite the rescue efforts of her companions, Mary was underwater for too long, and as a result, died.
     To Heaven and Back is Mary's remarkable story of her life's spiritual journey and what happened as she moved from life to death to eternal life, and back again.  Detailing her feelings and surroundings in heaven, her communication with angels, and her deep sense of sadness when she realized it wasn't her time, Mary shares the captivating experience of her modern-day miracle.
     Mary's life has been forever changed by her newfound understanding of her purpose on earth, her awareness of God, her closer relationship with Jesus, and her personal spiritual journey was suddenly enhanced by a first-hand experience in heaven.  To Heaven and Back will reacquaint you with the hope, wonder, and promise of heaven, while enriching  your own faith and walk with God.

REVIEW:  This book was very easy to follow and easy to read.  Dr. Neal talks about her faith before the accident, saying she was a Christian but not deeply spiritual or religious, letting the reader know she was not someone special that God had spoken to before.  You also see how her experience helped her during difficult times losing some close family members.  Dr. Neal also is open and honest about dealing with depression during her recovery over having to return to Earth because she wasn't through with the work God needed her to do.  She is a believer in miracles, which her full recovery after her death attests, and recounts many miracles she has experienced since her accident. 

This is an interesting book.

This book was provided by Waterbrook Multnomah for review without compensation.

Mary C. Neal, MD is an orthopaedic surgeon.  She studied at the University of California at Los Angeles School of Medicine, completed her orthopaedic residency at the University of Southern California and is fellowship-trained as a spinal surgeon.  She is the former director of spine surgery at the University of Southern California and is a founding partner of Orthopaedic Associate of Jackson Hole.  Her after-life experience has been featured on national media including WGN, Dr. Oz, and Fox and Friends.  She has served as a church elder, on several non-profit organization boards, and created the Willie Neal Environmental Awareness Fund.  Dr. Neal lives with her family in Jackson Hole, WY.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Fiddler Book Review

Home to Hickory Hollow

SUMMARY:  Come home to Hickory Hollow, Pennsylvania - the beloved setting where Beverly Lewis's celebrated Amish novels began - with new characters and new stories of drama, romance, and the ties that draw people together.
     A wrong turn in a rainstorm leads Englisher Amelia Devries to Michael Hostetler - and the young Amishman's charming Old Order community of Hickory Hollow.  Despite their very different backgrounds, Amelia and Michael both feel hemmed in by the expectations of others and struggle with how to find room for their own hopes.  And what first seems to be a chance encounter might just change their lives forever.

REVIEW:  Amelia was a child prodigy on the violin.  Trained as a concert violinist since she was three, her whole life has revolved around practicing and performing solos with the top orchestras.  With little time to pursue her own interests, she steals away on occasion to perform in fiddling contests and concerts, and away from the watchful eyes of her manager, boyfriend, and parents.
     Michael is feeling pressure from his parents, family members and community to finally end his Rumschpringe (a time for Amish youth to see what the outside world is like) and officially join the Church.  At age 25, he should have already made his decision but his heart is pulled to things in the outside world - working on his education as a draftsman, listening to music, and the freedom life as an Englisher offers.
     This is an excellent story told by a master storyteller.  Beverly Lewis delicately blends Amelia and Michael's stories and shows us the similarities of their lives in the midst of major differences. The storyline of the Amishman and the Outsider developing a friendship that could lead to romance is different and refreshing.  The ending is not what I expected but I liked it. This is a wonderful story!!!

This book was provided by Bethany House for review without compensation.

Beverly Lewis, born in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country, has more than seventeen million books in print.  Her stories have been published in eleven languages and have regularly appeared on numerous bestseller lists, including the New York Times and USA Today.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Director's Cut Book Review

Backstage Pass Series #3

SUMMARY:  The one thing she can't direct is her heart.
     Tia Morales is used to calling the shots.  She's the director of the popular sitcom Starts Collide, and her life on the set is calculated and orderly.  Well, most of the time.  Life outside the studio is another matter.  If only she could get other people to behave as well as her stars do!  When she starts to have feelings for handsome cameraman Jason Harris - with whom she's been butting heads for months - it's enough to send a girl over the edge.  Will she ever learn to let go and take life - and love - as it comes?
     Full of the humor and crazy family dynamics Janice Thompson fans have come to love, this colorful story gives you an inside look at Hollywood and a healthy dose of romance.

REVIEW:  Tia is a strong independent woman that has problems with her family - her brothers are helping her renovate her house (but are doing so very slowly), her mother asks Tia to get her sister (who is a huge flirt) a job in the make-up department on her show, and her father (who has had numerous affairs) has returned home again. On top of not having any control over her personal life, she develops an allergic reaction to the dust kicked up in her house and to her mother's dog.  Though, as the walls in her house come down, the walls Tia has up in her life start coming down with the help of Jason.  She starts to see her life, family and God in a new and freeing light.  She also starts seeing changes in her family as they learn many lessons and freedom too.
     I love Tia's character.  I saw so much of myself in her and the struggles she faces - letting go of things and feelings she can't control and focusing on those things she can.  Once she lets go of trying to do everything on her own, she sees all that God can do and the changes He makes for the good of everyone around her.  This is a great book.  Even though it is the third (and last) in the series, you wouldn't know it.  It stands perfectly all on it's own.  This is a great book!!

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

 Available June 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Janice Thompson is a seasoned romance author and former screenwriter.  An expert at pulling teh humor from the situations we get ourselves into, Thompson affords an inside look at TV land, drawing on her experiences as a screenwriter.  She is the author of the Weddings by Bella series, Stars Collide and Hello Hollywood!  She lives in Texas.  Read her blog, more interesting facts about her books, and other fun trivia at

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Mary Magdalene Book Review

SUMMARY:  One woman desperate for hope.  One Savior with the power to heal.
     A beautiful girl blossoming into womanhood, Mary has high hopes for a life filled with learning, family, and young love.  In one dreadful night, all of that changes.  The nightmares come first, then the waking visions of unspeakable terror, until Mary hardly remembers her dreams for the future.

     Can the Most High deliver her from this torment?  How long must she wait for healing?

     This vivid portrait of the enigmatic Mary of Magdala comes to live in the hands of an imaginative master storyteller.  Diana Wallis Taylor introduces you to a Mary who is both utterly original and respectful of the biblical account, opening your eyes to a redemption that knows no bounds.

REVIEW:  Mary Magdalene is a fascinating but mysterious character in the New Testament.  The authors of the gospels do not give much information about her past other than where she was from and that she was healed of demon possession.  Diana Wallis Taylor does a great job filling in the blanks in this fictional account of Mary's past.  The internal torture Mary goes through with headaches, seizures, having to be locked up so she wouldn't hurt herself or anyone else, being ostracized in the community and called "Mad Mary" makes your heart hurt.  Her husband, family and close family friends stay by her side through very difficult times and make the choice to stick by Mary even though it looks like there will be no end to her torment.  The healing she receives from Jesus gave me a better understanding of why she was so devoted to Jesus.  The book also gives you an idea of how she might have come to be one of Jesus' followers and the first one to see Jesus alive after his death and resurrection.  I like how this book is written and would highly recommend it.

 This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Available June 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Diana Wallis Taylor is the author of the novels Journey to the Well and Martha and lives in California.  Find out more at

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Anniversary Waltz Book Review

SUMMARY:  At their sixtieth anniversary party, Adam Carlson asks his wife, Elizabeth, for their customary waltz.  After the dance they gather the family and share their story -

A story of love and courage, overcoming adversity and thriving in the face of overwhelming odds.

     It's the summer of 1946, and Adam has just returned from the war to his home in Reunion, Montana.  At a town festival he meets Elizabeth Baxter, a young woman going steady with his former high school rival and now influential banker, Nathan Roberts.
     When Adam and Elizabeth share a waltz in a deserted pavilion one evening, their feelings begin to grow, and they embark on a journey, and a dance, that will last a lifetime.

REVIEW:  When Adam returns home from serving in Italy during World War II, he picks his life up where he left it - working on the family farm with his parents.  What he doesn't know is that the bank is recalling their loans and plans to put it up for auction.
     Elizabeth works in the local dry cleaners and is dating Nathan Robert, Reunion's most eligible bachelor and the local bank's loan officer.  After Adam wins a kiss from Elizabeth after a shooting competition with Nathan at a local festival and an impromptu dance after a missed hayride, their lives start to change in ways they never saw coming and affects every aspect of their lives and those around them.  
     Oh my!  This book is phenomenal!!  Darrel Nelson is a new author that can easily be compared to Nicholas Sparks, Dan Walsh, and Andy Andrews.  The story develops and flows in an easy to follow but not an easily to predict manner.  Just about the time I think I know what will happen next or have anticipated the ending, the author throws a curve ball and changes the outcome.  This is DEFINITELY a book and an author you will want to check out.

This book was provided by Glass Road Public Relations for review without compensation.

Darrel Nelson is a teacher and writes novels, articles, plays, and music.  He has bachelor's degrees in English and education from the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada.  Visit his website at

Monday, June 11, 2012

Growing Up Ziglar Book Review

 A Daughter's Broken Journey
from Heartache to Hope

SUMMARY:  With God, it's never too late to be your best you.
     Julie Ziglar Norman often says her dad is the king of "doing life right" and she is the poster child for "doing life wrong."  For over a quarter of a century she lived every day with regret, shame, guilt, and depression.  But as the daughter of the motivator's motivator, Zig Ziglar, Julie knew that she needed to be positive.  So she gathered up all of her negative self-talk and buried it deep inside where it wouldn't ruin the bright and practiced smile she presented to the world.
     With honesty and insight, Julie's intimate and soul-searching path from heartache to redemption will allow you to discover
  • power to let go of shame and embrace freedom
  • courage to live with deeper faith and transparency
  • hope that God can beautifully redeem even your worst choices
  • tools to equip you to make needed changes
     Julie's story has helped countless women experience God's grace and forgiveness more profoundly.  Are you ready for a journey of transformation and hope?

REVIEW:  With most biographies and autobiographies of children with famous parents, you get the dirty little secrets about the parents and what kind of horrible life was lived by both child and parent.  This one is different.  In fact, the author says that her father lives out what he teaches in his motivational seminars and that SHE is the one who messed up and is to blame for the bad choices she made and the wrong paths she took.  While Julie doesn't go into graphic detail about everything she did wrong, she does tell it like it was about her promiscuity, alcoholism, abortions, and divorce and how those decisions affected her and the people around her.  She is also quick to note that her growing faith in God helped her get through some bad times and some rough areas in her life and marriage.  It is easy to relate to Julie's story.  This is an inspirational book that I think can benefit anyone and everyone.

This book was provided by Litfuse Publicity Group for review without compensation.

Julie Ziglar Norman is the daughter of Zig Ziglar and worked for twenty years as his personal editor.  With a background in sales and business management, she has become a dynamic international inspirational speaker.  Julie lives in Texas with her husband, Jim, and continues the Ziglar legacy of encouragement through the Ziglar Women Faith and Family Conferences.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Waiting for Sunrise Book Review

A Cedar Key Novel

SUMMARY:  Sometimes finding your future means making peace with your past.
     Patsy Milstrap wishes she could leave her past behind.  Though she tries to put on a brave front for the sake of her family, the wounds still ache, and the scars on her soul are still deeply felt.  At her concerned husband's gentle insistence, they take a vacation on Cedar Key, an idyllic island on Florida's Gulf Coast.  A week in paradise will do them good, he says.
     When a familiar - and most unexpected - face greets her at a seaside restaurant, Patsy knows she can no longer run from the past.  But what will opening old wounds mean?  And what will the future hold?
     With a large helping of Southern charm, Waiting for Sunrise is a touching story of family, young love, and the need for forgiveness.  Eva Marie Everson expertly draws out the bittersweet moments of life, weaving them into a tale that will envelop your soul.

REVIEW:  Patsy wants to forget everything about her past but it won't let her go.  Even after she has a nervous breakdown, she refuses to talk about the events that brought her to Trinity, SC, the Buchwalds and Gilbert, her husband.
     Billy Liddle watches as his father beats his mother for whatever he feels like: a book in the wrong place, dinner not ready when he wants, a disobedient son, not answering the question about the whereabouts of his step-daughter.  While his brother, Harold, becomes more like their father, Billy becomes more like his mother: loving, kind, a hard worker and someone that can be depended on.
     These two people are tied together in the most unusual way that will affect both of their futures and unravel Patsy's carefully hidden past.
      Everything about this book is unexpected but very well written. I thought I had the book pegged from the beginning with where I thought the story was going.  Boy, was I proven wrong again and again!  The storyline was well-written and not your usual concepts or ideas.  The author discusses taboo subjects such as spousal abuse, child abuse, and mental illness in the 1960s with compassion and knowledge.  The only problem I had with the book was the ending.  I understand what the author was trying to do but it was a little confusing and felt anticlimactic.  Other than that, I highly recommend this book.

Eva Marie Everson is sponsoring a contest for a Kindle Fire in conjunction with her blog tour week for Waiting for Sunrise!  The details can be found here and runs from June 10-16th:

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Available June 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Eva Marie Everson is a successful speaker and the award-wining author of Things Left Unspoken, This Fine Life and Chasing Sunsets.  She is co-author of the Potluck Club books and the Potluck Catering Club series.  She lives in Florida.  For more information about Eva Marie and her books, visit her website at  You can also connect with her on her blog, My Southern Voice, at

Friday, June 1, 2012

A Pleasing Aroma Book Review

Inspiring Devotions for Joyful Living

SUMMARY:  Is your life characterized by fast food meals, an over-scheduled calendar, and the feeling that life has become nothing more than a blur?  If so, then you need to take a five-minute timeout, prop your feet up in your favorite recliner, and reconnect with the Lord as you read A Pleasing Aroma.  The easy-to-read devotionals are ideal for busy believers who need a spiritual boost and the encouragement of God's Word to meet the demands of their stressful lives.  With relevant scriptural applications for the challenges we all face, you will find yourself refreshed in the Lord and longing for a closer walk with Him.

REVIEW:  This book is perfect for busy believers.  The devotionals are short, packed full of everyday situations and easy to read.  Dee Dee gives the reader hope by giving incidences from her own life, letting them know they are not alone in this walk we call life.  I highly recommend this devotional to anyone and everyone.

This book was provided by the author for review without compensation.

Dee Dee Wike is a budding author whose life is firmly anchored in her relationship with the Lord and her passion for God's Word.  In addition to having written Good to the Last Drop:  Refreshing Inspiration for Homeschool Moms and Other Busy Women, Dee Dee works as a part-time software support specialist, is a full-time wife and mother, and is a freelance writer for her hometown newspaper and a regional Christian news magazine.  Happily married for nearly twenty-five years, she resides in Tennessee with her husband Steve and their two children, Chris and Joy, where she serves in the Music and Women's Ministries of Central Church.  For more information on her speaking and writing ministry, visit