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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Hidden Agenda

Lisa Harris is the award-winning author of more than twenty books, including the Christy Award winner Dangerous Passage and Fatal Exchange.  Winner of the Best Inspirational Suspense Novel for 2011 from Romantic Times, Harris has spent over ten years living with her family as missionaries in Moambique, where she leads a women's group and runs a nonprofit organization that works alongside their church-planting ministry.

Visit to learn more about Lisa.

His cover is blown.

Now his enemies are on his heels and closing in.

Presumed dead by friends and family, Michael Hunt is alive - and on the run.  The undercover assignment he's been working for the past eight months ha just been blown.  With a hit out on his life and corruption inside the Atlanta police department, Michael finds himself hunted by both the cartel and the law.  His only hope is Olivia Hamilton - the daughter of the man who wants him dead.

My Thoughts:
I have read the previous two books - Dangerous Passage and Fatal Exchange - in Harris's Southern Crimes series.  While Hidden Agenda could be read as a stand-alone novel, I recommend reading the first two books first.  By doing this, you get to experience all three Hunt siblings and their stories. Harris does a phenomenal job of capturing the family dynamics and showing the individuality of each Hunt sibling.  Harris does an excellent job of relaying Southern culture to her readers.
I'm not sure if there is a fourth installment planned, but it would be great if there was!  Harris's characters are well developed and have been hard to let go.  In Hidden Agenda, Harris draws you in on page one and hits the ground running with heart pounding action that is believable and doesn't feel forced.  She leaves the reader breathless until the last page.  Don't start this one right before bed!

*I received a complimentary copy of the book for the purpose of this review.

Happy Reading Ya'll,

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Discipleship: Living for Christ in the Daily Grind

J.Heinrich Arnold  (1913-1982)

Johann Heinrich Arnold (also known as Heini and Heinrich) is best known for his books, which have helped thousands to follow Christ in their daily lives, and for his pastoral care as elder of the Bruderhof community movement.

Arnold grew up surrounded by people for whom discipleship took shape in a dramatic way. 

When Heinrich Arnold was seven, his parents Eberhard and Emmy Arnold and their five children left a bourgeois life in Berlin for a dilapidated villa in the German village of Sannerz, where they founded the Bruderhof, a Christian community based on Jesus’ teachings in the Sermon on the Mount.

As a young man, Heinrich Arnold refused to serve in Hitler's armed forces and was forced to flee Germany. He studied agriculture in Zurich, Switzerland, and in 1936 married Annemarie Waechter, a kindergarten teacher and fellow Bruderhof member.

Arnold was a true pastor, but an unconventional one. He was not a charismatic personality, and he had no formal theological training. He was a true Seelsorgeror “spiritual guide” who cared deeply for the inner and outer wellbeing of the communities entrusted to him.

Arnold’s style as a speaker and writer was straightforward and spontaneous. He rarely spoke with notes, and when he wrote, he quickly and sometimes almost aggressively met the heart of the issue. There were those who felt he was too blunt. Yet it was precisely his simplicity that made his witness accessible to so many. His faith was not a matter theological sophistication, but something that had to be expressed in deeds: “We are tired of words; they are cheap and can be heard almost anywhere, for who will say that he is against brotherhood and love?”

As a pastor, Arnold was called on to address every aspect of spiritual life, personal and communal. But there is a visible thread that runs through all he wrote: Christ and his cross as the center of the universe. What mattered to him most of all was the power of the Gospel to transform the lives of his readers and of all those he counseled. In his own words:
What a great gift it would be if we could see a little of the great vision of Jesus – if we could see beyond our small lives! Certainly our view is very limited. But we can at least ask him to call us out of our small worlds and our self-centeredness, and we can at least ask to feel the challenge of the great harvest that must be gathered – the harvest of all nations and all people, including the generations of the future.
*Biography information taken from

Sometimes sensitive, sometimes provocative, but always encouraging, Arnold guides readers toward leading Christlike lives amid the stress and strain of modern life.  Perhaps the hardest thing about following Christ is translating our good intentions into deeds.  Christ calls us, and we yearn to answer Him, but time and again we lose resolve. Is discipleship really possible today?

Many selections in this book offer answers to specific needs or problems.  Others grapple with broader themes such as world suffering, salvation, and the coming of the kingdom of God.  All of them pulsate with conviction and compassion, giving fresh hope to those who find themselves lonely or disheartened in the daily search to follow Christ. 

"The excerpts in this book were compiled and edited over several years by people who knew Arnold personally.  It was no easy task to sift through the material, for there was so much to choose from, and it ranged from published articles to personal correspondence, from transcripts of worship meetings to circulars written on behalf of the congregations he served.  The purpose of this selection is simply to bring to the reader the full impact of his witness."  (pg. xiv of the introduction)

My Thoughts:
Plough Publishing House (Walden, New York) has offered readers an invaluable tool.  Discipleship: Living for Christ in the Daily Grind is a well organized and edited introduction to and compilation of J. Heinrich Arnold's writings and thoughts on what following Christ day after day looks like.
The book covers almost every conceivable aspect of life under the three broad categories of The Disciple, The Church and The Kingdom of God.  Organized in sections rather than chapters, the book is easy to navigate and allows the reader to easily find a particular subject rather than having to start necessarily at page one and move to the end.  I really appreciated having Scripture references to the side of each paragraph.
Discipleship would be an excellent personal study tool or would be particularly useful in a one on one discipleship relationship with a new Christian or resource for small group study.  I can not recommend it highly enough!  It now takes a prominent place in my personal study library.

*Thank you Julie Busteed for the complimentary copy of the book for the purpose of this review through Handlebar.

You can order the book at by going HERE.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World

Gary Chapman - author, speaker, and counselor - has a passion for people and for helping them form lasting relationships.  He is the bestselling author of The 5 Love Languages series and the director of Marriage and Family Life Consultants, Inc.  Gary travels the world presenting seminars, and his radio programs air on more than 400 stations.  For more information about Gary's work visit

You can view the 28 min. interview with Gary below to get an idea of some of his thoughts.

Arlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife and 31 Days to a Happy Husband.  She has been featured on The Today Show, The 700 Club and Family Life Today and formerly served as the associate producer for Turning Point Television with Dr. David Jeremiah.  Arlene lives in Southern California with her husband James and their three children.

You can find out more by visiting

Interview with Pellicane on FOX & Friends where she talks a bit specifically about some of the ideas shared in Growing Up Social:

Is technology bringing your family closer together or driving you farther apart?

Children today are no longer playing hid-and-seek outside or curling up with a good book - instead they've been introduced to a world of constant digital entertainment through television, video games, and mobile devices.  And while technology has the potential to add value to our lives and families, it can also erode a sense of togetherness and hinder a child's emotional and social development.

Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane will empower you with the necessary tools to make positive changes...starting TODAY! Through stories, wit, and wisdom, you'll discover how to take back your home from an overdependence on screens.

My Thoughts:
I really wish I had the financial means to put this amazing resource into the hands of every parent I know!  Chapman and Pellicane employ the perfect blend of story, reasoning and application along with encouragement to press into parents the importance of balance in the use of technology and screen driven devices in our families and homes.  With wisdom, they teach the undisputed value of face-to-face relationships with those we love - primarily our children.
I appreciated that Chapman and Pellicane didn't just tell parents what they shouldn't be doing in the area of social media and technology, but they show parents what and how to do the right things. Neither do they just vilify technology and harp on all its dangers:
"Screens are not the problem; the problem lies in the way we constantly use them...Pixels instead of people take center stage for the average American family. Children are like wet cement, and nowadays most are being imprinted by screens, not by parents.  It doesn't have to be this way."
Chapman and Pellicane spend 14 chapters laying a solid foundation for a better way:

  • The A+ Skill of Affection
  • The A+ Skill of Appreciation
  • The A+ Skill of Anger Management
  • The A+ Skill of Apology
  • The A+ Skill of Attention
  • Screen Time and Shyness
  • Screen Time and the Brain
  • Screen Time and the Love Languages
  • Screen Time and Security
  • Screen Time and Parental Authority
  • Screen Time and the Single Parent
  • Screen Time and YOU
If you are a parent or grandparent, this books should be read and in your personal library.  You can order from by going HERE.

*Thank you Debbie Lykon for sending a complimentary copy of the book for the purpose of this review.


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Masterpiece Marriage

Gina Welborn is the author of several novels and novellas, including The Heiress's Courtship. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers; the president of Faith, Hope and Love; and a founding member of She lives in Cache, Oklahoma, with her pastor husband and their five children. Visit her online at

He wants to save his business. She wants to be a professor. But are they asking for more than they can really have?
After a flood damages the looms at Zenus Dane's Philadelphia textile mill and the bank demands loan payment, Zenus turns to his aunt for help repurposing his textiles. Trouble is . . . his aunt has already been hired by the lovely yet secretive Englishwoman Mary Varrs.
Eager to acquire his aunt's quilt patterns, Zenus attends the summer Quilting Bee, a social event his aunt has uniquely designed with the secret purpose of finding Zenus a wife. However Zenus only has eyes for Mary, but Mary has no such desire for him.
Though his aunt is determined to design a masterpiece marriage, both Zenus and Mary will have to overcome their stubborn ways. Can he realize that love requires stepping out of his routine? And will she recognize that following her heart doesn't mean sacrificing her ambition?

About Quilts of Love: Quilts tell stories of love and loss, hope and faith, tradition and new beginnings. TheQuilts of Love series focuses on the women who quilted all of these things into their family histories. A new book releases each month and features contemporary and historical romances as well as women's fiction and the occasional light mystery. You will be drawn into the endearing characters of this series and be touched by their stories.

Learn more about this book and the series at the Quilts of Lovewebsite.

To see what others are saying about Masterpiece Marriage, you can visit HERE.

My Thoughts:
The Quilts of Love books have been such a delight to read.  I loved everything about Masterpiece Marriage.  Welborn hit this one out of the ballpark with believable characters and a story that expertly captured the time period.  This was an easy and relaxing read.  Perhaps the ending was a bit predictable, but the journey to there was no less enjoyable.

Blessings Ya'll,

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Patmos Deception

Davis Bunn is an award-winning novelist and a lecturer in creative writing at the University of Oxford.  His books, translated into twenty languages, have sold nearly seven million copies worldwide. Formerly a business executive working in Europe, Aftica and the Middle East, Davis draws on this international experience in crafting his stories. Davis has won four Christy Awards for excellence in historical and suspense fiction, and was recently inducted into the Christy hall of Fame.  He and his wife, isabella, divide their time between the English countryside and the coast of Florida.

You can learn more about Davis's writing by visiting

An ancient island holds an ancient secret...

Nick Hennesy, a young Texas journalist yearning for his big break, finds himself in Europe - his assignment, to investigate the alarming disappearance of invaluable Grecian antiquities.  Nick has the credentials - and cover ID - to unearth the truth.  And he knows just the researcher to help him.

Carey Mathers, fres from her studies in forensic archeology, has accepted a job with the prestidious Athens Institute for Antiquities - a dream come true, really, especially when the Greek isle of Patmos, where the Apostle John received his vision of the Apocalypse, was a particular focus of her research.

Dimitri Rubinos, fro whom the Greek islands represent his life, holds on by his fingernails to the family charter boat business.  But his country's economic chaos isn't the only thing that has turned his world on its head.

My Thoughts:
Patmos Deception very much felt like the beginning of a series.  Bunn spent much of the book "setting up" the plot and introducing characters.  To be honest, until about half way through the book, things were a bit hard to follow.  The overall "feel" of the story was very stilted and the flow of the story was not smooth. I did enjoy Bunn's description of the characters' surroundings.  I felt like I "was there" much of the book.  Hearing from the different voices was a definite draw for me to hang in there with the book the first half.  The ending leaves the reader hanging and lots of blanks are left empty making the perfect set-up for a series.  I'll be looking forward to Davis' next installment!

You can order the book at Amazon by going HERE.

*I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Blessings Ya'll,