Friday, December 30, 2016

Upcoming Reviews for January

It's been a great Thanksgiving and Christmas season, but not a whole lot of reviews got done. Partly because I was celebrating these events with my family, and partly because I was busy completing and publishing my next book, Life in Hyperspace. (You can read more about it in an earlier blog post, or by clicking on the book image in the right panel...)

Anyway, onward and upward! Happy New Year to you all, and hope you have a blessed one. Here's a rundown on what I expect to conquer in this review blog over the next month:

A Way Out of Hell

30272966When ISIS turns your city into a living hell... ISIS unleashes a reign of terror across Indonesia. As a former jihadist, Abdullah knows all too well the high cost and absolute ineffectiveness of fighting such violence with violence. He accepts the impossible challenge of finding the ISIS cell hidden in his city, and disbanding it non-violently. But time is running out, and there may not be any city left to save. Meanwhile, he has to protect his adopted daughter Sari, a Christian university student, who is one of ISIS's targets. Together they come face-to-face with the holy warriors of mass destruction and strive to overcome that evil with good. In this riveting sequel to Someone Has to Die, Jim Baton introduces us to the real people caught in the web of terrorism, with their wide variety of backgrounds and motivations, and the possibility that they, too, can change.


The Scorpion

You watch the TV news every night and think you know what’s going on… think again.

Three friends stumble upon information that describes an underwater excavation site and refinery that processes a newly discovered source of energy. Who built the site? What is the fuel used for? What happened on December 26, 2004? The friends are determined to reveal the truth about their findings to the public and realize that just because something is legal doesn’t mean it’s right. 
“The Scorpion is a Techno-Thriller on steroids!”


Oki and Harlo: Fairytale Friends

Oki, a little orphaned goat meets Harlo, a shooting star, who falls to earth and ends up in the field where Oki is asleep. They become instant best friends and together they go on a quest to find Oki's momma. 

On their adventure, the little friends encounter wise old, Mr. Owl, Wobbly, the chicken, and a little girl named Ellie and her family. 

Enter a world where children can safely go and learn about making friends, being honest, and believing in dreams, as well as healthy eating and the REAL purpose of rainbows! 

"Oki and Harlo, fairytale friends" is the first ever draw freely e-book. 
The story invites the readers to make their own illustrations. There are free-draw pages that have clear instructions on what to draw

One of the Few: A Marine Fighter Pilot's Reconnaissance of the Christian Worldview

A US Marine fighter pilot explores life’s important questions as he prepares for combat, searches for truth, and wages spiritual warfare during his mission to become a better husband and father. “I highly recommend it.”— John Njoroge, speaker and radio host at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.

Jason B. Ladd grows up in a military family with loving parents but spends his young life filled with spiritual apathy. Ladd enters the US Marine Corps, becomes a fighter pilot, and sees combat in Iraq before life events align to nudge him into profound spiritual inquiry. Digging deep into his quest for truth, he realizes the art and science of fighter pilot fundamentals can help him on his journey.

Filled with stories that contrast his spiritual apathy with his post-Christian worldview passion, One of the Few is the compelling life story of a spiritual seeker engaged in a thrilling profession combined with a strong, reasonable defense of Christianity.

For fans of Ravi Zacharias, Lee Strobel, and Frank Turek, Ladd’s remarkable journey shares the transformative power of faith during a time when belief in God is dismissed and religious liberty in the military is attacked.

Beyond the Void Darkly

30283948Can a man and woman separated by a century and a half be destined for each other?

In a love story which spans from 2031 to 1883, a man wrestles with questions of faith, love, and destiny.

Matthew Walton is a man on a mission. As a pharmaceutical scientist working on a top-secret time travel project, his one goal in life is to find a cure for his mother's cancer. But when he sees a beautiful young woman in 19th century Kansas, the daughter of a doctor who may have stumbled across the cure, Matthew becomes enraptured and begins to wonder if there is such a thing as love at first sight.

But she can't see him, hear him, or feel him. To her, he is a ghost.

As he gets to know her from reading her faded old diary and repeated trips through time, Matthew's desire to make contact with Elizabeth grows in urgency, because he has seen her die.

And only he can save her.

Weaving in issues of philosophy, heartbreak and loss, Christian faith, and ultimately, hope, "Beyond the Void Darkly" will remain with you long after you have finished the story. It will make you believe in love again.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Review: Missing Piece by Uzo Okoye

Missing Piece
by Uzo Okoye

29406417A desperate search for what ‘more’ there is to life, eventually leads John Williams to answers. But tragically, everything falls apart, just as his journey appears to be complete. His picture-perfect life is stripped apart - piece by piece - and lies in a crumpled heap. To make matters worse, a troubling dark secret from his past returns to haunt him.

Will John accept his new reality? Is he brave enough to fight for the truth? Or will the enticement to return to his seeming perfect past prove too much of a temptation to resist?

My Take:
John Williams was a rising star in the law firm of Malone and Malone. He was soon set to become partner, but it was coming at a high cost. The demands of the job were destroying his marriage and he had become a stranger even to his kids. His beautiful home, the fancy clothes, the well-groomed executive were just a brittle facade, a house of cards, hiding a broken man with a dark secret.

The pressures of the job, the coldness of his home, the deadness of his marriage, and the emptiness in his soul was driving him to seek solace in the arms of a string of mistresses, to bury himself in work, even to seek answers in the bottom of a bottle. But nothing could fill the black hole eating him from the inside out.

Even as he finds the answer he seeks, his world crumbles around him, and he must choose to stand for truth, even if it costs him everything, or return to the empty gold-plated past.

Drug Content:
PG - There is some heavy drinking. John descends into drunken rages, and wrecks his car, getting a DUI. Alcoholism is portrayed pretty candidly. Some of the characters are toying with drugs, going to parties where drugs will be available.

PG - There's not a lot of violence in the main story, but reference is made to an event in a client's past that is pretty horrific, eliminating the people in an entire village.

PG - There's a small amount of cussing. The F-bomb is not dropped, that I recall.

Adult Content:
PG - Someone gets a girl pregnant, and has to deal with the results. There's no sexual content, though mistresses are mentioned in several places, as well as some candid office talk about the conquests of the partners in the firm.

Christian content:
This is a solidly Christian conversion story. Several people in the book, through lots of struggle and resistance, come to faith in Christ. The gospel message is pretty clearly presented. Drug and alcohol addiction and its collateral damage are fairly well portrayed. Characters have to make hard choices and depend on their faith to see them through.

Final analysis:
This novel is well-written. The characters are believable and their struggles are real. The action and pace are not rapid, but the drama and conflicts are raw and realistic. It's a compelling story and a pretty quick read. Five Stars!

About the Author:
Little did Uzo Okoye know what God had in store for her when six years ago, she was awakened by a restlessness that persisted. Thus, would begin a journey of many doubts, frustrations, in an attempt to discern answers.
During this time of unsettledness and a deep cry for real answers, surprisingly she is ignited with a desire to write, the answers that formed the basis of a book idea.
No sooner, risking leaving the familiar, her comfort zone and stepping into the unknown, Uzo began the challenging but exciting work of writing her debut fiction novel, ‘Missing Piece’.
Forever grateful to God for entrusting her with this gift, she looks forward to hearing the many testimonies of how ‘Missing Piece’ inspires hope and produces lasting peace, joy and new way of living realised through a personal encounter and walk with Jesus Christ.
Missing Piece was published in June 2016, and the ebook is currently available for order on Amazon Kindle, iTunes, Kobo and other retailers. 
Uzo is a Management graduate from the University of Port Harcourt in Nigeria, and currently works as an IT professional in the United Kingdom.
She is a member of the dynamic and flourishing church Kings Court Chapel, located in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire under the senior leadership of Pastor Sola and Pastor Tumise Ewedemi. On Sundays, she enjoys using her gift of teaching Kingdom truths to the delightful and inquisitive kids aged seven and eight.
Married to Ejike Okoye, the couple share their home with their three beautiful children in Hemel Hempstead, the eastern part of England.

Monday, December 26, 2016

The book that's taken twenty years to write...

The book that’s taken twenty plus years and a lot of hard knocks to write is finally complete and edited. If you have ADD/ADHD kids of your own and are in need of a laugh or maybe a little help, check this one out...
Christmas Eve, I finally launched the book about our life at home with four ADD/ADHD kids.This is packed full of laughs and advice from parents who have been there in the trenches.
Here’s the back cover blurb:
Spraypainting the cat? What was he thinking?
With four year college degrees under our belts and a dab of training in Child Psychology, my wife and I thought we were ready for anything when it came to this parenting gig.
We had no idea we would be outnumbered and outgunned. From diet to riot, meds to charts, we’ve tried it all, to train up our kids in the way they should grow.
From the Home School of Hard Knocks, our four ADD and ADHD kids have taught us more about coping and planning ahead than any four year college degree could have, especially when it comes to understanding what goes on in the mind of a five year old in a Buzz Lightyear costume flying on a treadmill. To Infinity, and Beyond.
Links are available on my author website at
We now return you to your regularly scheduled reviews...

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Review: Not Alone by Gaelyn Whitley Keith

Not Alone
by Gaelyn Whitley Keith

26489271Find a comfortable chair and spend a few hours with Joe-and if you're blessed in a magnificent way, you may encounter a world that can change your life forever. Have a good visit! Have any of you suffered an injustice, been overlooked, ignored, rejected? Has anyone been denied, repudiated, negated, humiliated, devastated, infuriated, frustrated, or transgressed upon? You're a good person. So why have people disrespected, slighted, wounded, snubbed, oppressed, held down, discriminated against, beaten down, distressed, tortured, haunted, bullied, teased, tormented or talked smack about you? Why? And when it was over, did you think... I don't deserve this! Why me? I'm a good person! If someone is going to get divorced, have a heart attack, be mugged or raped, blown up by a terrorist, lose a limb in an accident, be swindled, slandered, foreclosed on, or fired, don't you think it should happen to someone who deserves it? It should never happen to me! I'm a good person! Well, if any of this has happened to you, I just want you to know that Joseph Michael Moretti has found the answer!

My Take:
Joe Moretti has it all - a beautiful wife, a thriving business, a lovely home on the beach, and five kids who are successfully launched into life. He has a strong faith in God and a stellar future.

But in the spiritual realm, Satan has maligned him and petitioned God to remove the hedge of protection around the life of Joe and his family, and when he loses it all, Joe will curse God to His face. So God gives Satan carte blanc to attack Joe and his family, but denies him freedom to take his life. Will Joe retain his faith, or turn his back on God?

Drug Content:
PG - There is some heavy drinking at a party or two. 

R+ - There is a very bloody scene where demon-driven Satan worshippers do something horrific to multiple people. One is beheaded, there is torture mentioned. There is rape and murder in that scene. The aftermath scene is described somewhat but not in explicit detail.

PG-13 - There's a significant amount of cussing, from demons, and from Christians as well. The F-bomb is not dropped, that I recall.

Adult Content:
PG-13 - As mentioned above, there's rape, torture, and murder briefly described. The description is somewhat disjointed but still disturbing. Several scenes occur where married couples have sex, but the description doesn't get too graphic.

Christian content:
This is a retelling of the story of Job, with a few twists. It has a bit of scripture in it, and the characters struggle with their faith under tremendous pressure. The depiction of the spiritual world is given as much airtime as the physical realm, and the battles between the angels and demons are violent and compelling. The characters are Catholic and seek help from a priest. Some of his advice is sound. There's a substantial amount of content that points to Word of Faith teaching. Parts of this novel are very dark, and delve into questions of sanity, evil, God's sovereignty, Satan's purpose and power, and our power over our circumstances and his attacks.

Final analysis:
There are parts of this novel that could use a good edit, but the characters and their struggles are very real, the questions raised and stakes compelling. The battles in the spiritual realm and the minions that wage them were exciting but a bit confusing. For the most part, this book was a good look into the circumstances, psychology, and spiritual struggle contained in Job, and as such has merit and value. I found the pace a bit slow. The settings were realistic, the emotions raw; four stars

Monday, December 19, 2016

Review: No Pizza Delivery? (Horse Haven #1) by Grace Marshall

No Pizza Delivery? (Horse Haven #1)
by Grace Marshall

30458861Manure, southern accents, self-absorbed boys, and new faces are all a part of the maze that have become Ruth Deloach’s life.

Her world is sent spinning when she finds out she is going to be ripped from America’s Dairyland to live in the embarrassingly small tourist town of Sainte Genevieve, Missouri. The blow is slightly lessened by the news that her father wants to start a horse ranch, but how enjoyable will it really be to live where there is no pizza delivery and a revolving door to the public? A public with a different idea of how things are done and said. To add embarrassment to her frustration she finds she knows less about horses than she presumed. Maybe the handsome ranch hand her father hires can brighten things up, then again, maybe not.

My Take:
When Ruth Deloach's father announces he's selling the house and moving to a ranch in southern Missouri, she's sure her world is coming to an end. While the move will give her life on a ranch with horses to ride, she will be losing all of her friends from Wisconsin, and the life she's built in the North.

Out in the backwoods of Missouri, Ruth learns some important lessons about friendship, trust, and life on a ranch, which can be messy, hard, and rewarding, as long as you can get past the fact that there's... no pizza delivery.

Drug Content:
G - Almost none. There's one reference to drugs and alcohol in passing, about public school.

G - None at all, there's just a tad of shouting, and one scene where a turkey gets brutally taken down.

G - there is not any cussing that I recall in the book.

Adult Content:
PG - There's some slight wistful longings, pursuit,  and such between the 14 year old Ruth and a new handsome ranch hand. That situation could have gone a different and dangerous direction.

Christian content:
The family are quiet but solid Christians. They pray before meals, and one of their priorities in finding a new home, is finding a new home church. There is a sermon at that church that has impact and life application for Ruth. Their Christian character is mentioned at least once by an outside observer.

Final analysis:
The conflict level in this book is pretty low - the main villain in the story starts out being the move itself, and how it will impact Ruth and her friend circle. As I'm all about action, I found the pacing a bit slow for my liking, though there were some definite high points.

The Christian elements in the story were undercurrents but strong. I gained some insight into the mind of a teen daughter, which would have been helpful to know back when my girls were younger. The characters and backdrop were well-depicted and realistic. As this is the first in an apparently lighthearted series, the conflict level was probably appropriate, and the novel found good resolution while opening up plenty of room for the series to launch. Five Stars!

About the Author:
Grace  MarshallChristian Young Adult and New Adult Books That Provoke Thought! Grace Marshall is the author of the “Horse Haven” series as well as "Person of Faith"; she has also contributed several articles to newspapers. She enjoys hanging out with her dashing husband, J. Lindsey Marshall, their saucy cat, Amerigo Vespucci, and their playful Mastiff puppy, Mini. Grace loves all animals but especially horses. She has lived in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Tennessee, and currently resides in the Missouri hills. She believes in living life to the fullest and can’t wait to see where God will take her or have her write next! 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Review: Truth Be Told by Justine Hemmestad

Truth Be Told
by Justine Hemmestad, Bradley Hemmestad (Illustrator)

29770591Truth be Told is the story of an insightful knight who helps a lady save herself, with the help of her true love, Jesus. Justine Johnston Hemmestad’s first novella was conceived when she was recovering from a car accident 25 years ago in which she suffered a severe brain injury; she is now a wife and the mother of 7 children, as she pursues a Master’s Degree in Literature and continues to write.

My Take:
In an era of knights and chivalry, the war between Wales and England is in full swing. It is a war of beliefs as much as culture, and Lady Meggy, her betrothed, and her knight are caught in the crossfire.
When Lady Meggy is informed that her betrothed has been severely injured, she rushes off with the knight who informed her, unaware of the danger she is in. With her carriage attacked and destroyed and the knights protecting her are slaughtered by overwhelming odds.

One knight, Sir Lawrence, flees with her into the surrounding woods, vowing to deliver her to her betrothed unharmed, at the expense of his honor. And what awaits them ahead in the forest may be more dangerous than the hordes of the Welsh behind.

Drug Content:
G - None. I don't even remember any drinking.

G - Though several knights are killed in the battle at the carriage, there's not any graphic detail.

G - there is not any cussing that I recall in the book.

Adult Content:
PG - There's some slight wistful longings and such between Meggy and her companion. Some more between her and her betrothed. 

Christian content:
For the most part, this novella presents itself strongly as a Christian work. Scripture is quoted in multiple places. There are some questionable statements in the mix that gave me a check, but i can't recall what they were. I'd say the work is clearly Christian, but be prepared to discuss any questions with a teen reading it.

Final analysis:
Let's start by saying this is a Novella, which is not something I normally read/review. That having been said, the story was a faith-filled adventure and in places the action, adventure, and puzzles were entertaining, and the drama faith filled and challenging to one's walk. All in a good work.
However, a large portion of the work was almost poetic in nature, and consisted mostly of semi-stilted conversations between the characters, with nuances and hidden things 'not said' that were implied.
While I realize that the people of the day probably talked that way, it was enough to break me out of the story multiple times, and that's unfortunate, because it was an interesting story. Four Stars.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Review: A Shield in the Shadows by L.A. Racines

A Shield in the Shadows
by L.A. Racines

25460451In 405 AD, a raid from a band of marauding Huns destroys a Christian village in the heart of barbarian Germania. Among those forced to flee are the pastor and his strong-willed, sixteen-year-old daughter Theona.

They lead a tiny group of survivors on a quest to find a new, safer place to settle, and ultimately join a massive invasion into the Roman Empire assembling on the banks of the Danube River. 

The invasion is led by Gothic king Radagaisus, described by ancient writers as “a worshipper of demons”. His drive to conquer the tempting lands across the river is fueled by his anger at Rome for abandoning the old pagan gods and adopting Christianity as the new state religion. What will he do when he finds that among the thousands of people joining the invasion, he is harboring Christians? And what will Theona do when she quickly draws the interest of Radagaisus’s impetuous son, Roderic? 

Young Gallic aristocrat Marius Ausonius, unaware of the looming threat, joins the Roman Army to train as a tribune. Too soon after his training, he and his cohort are thrust into the eye of the storm when they must defend one of the key strongholds blocking Radagaisus and his hordes. 

The lives of Marius and Theona become intertwined in incredible circumstances that will have far-reaching consequences for both of them and their people. 

My Take:
Pinned between an army of invading Huns and the fading Roman empire, High King Radagaisus makes a cataclysmic decision to invade Rome and sacrifice their Senators to his pagan gods rather than fight the bloodthirsty invading Huns. Nestled in his massive invading force, complete with families and wagons and livestock, is a small band of Christians, forced to join the invasion to escape the tragedy and death behind them. Theona, the beautiful daughter of Pastor Rhodus, having watched her family and village viciously and pointlessly murdered by a band of Hun raiders, finds herself thrust into the limelight as the son of the High King notices her, seemingly by chance.

The chance encounter with Prince Roderic quickly draws Theona into the unwanted attention of the vicious and bloodthirsty king, who wants no Christian in his camp, let alone his family!

Meanwhile, Marius Ausonius, the son of a Roman Gallic Aristocrat, joins the army as Tribune, unaware of the impending invasion, and the central part he will play in it.

As nations and faiths struggle for supremacy around them, Marius, Roderic, and Theona try to come to grips with their differences, their hearts, and the God who guides them.

About the Author:
L. A. Racines is the pen name of Cheryl Bristow, Quebec born, graduate of McGill University in Anthropology, and clergy wife, mother and grandmother. When not raising her family and supporting her husband's work in Anglican parishes in Quebec and Ontario, Cheryl has taught in Nigeria, written a number of published freelance articles, worked in administrative capacities in a number of NGOs and charities, and been a fundraiser. Cheryl's love of adventure, travel, dogs and people of all kinds are contributing factors to the plot development of A Shield in the Shadows.

This historical novel is her first, with three more to follow, and in April of 2016, it tied for first place in the Indie Book Awards--The Next Generation in the category of Christian Fiction. It is also a finalist in the Historical Fiction category of Canada's The Word Guild awards.