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Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Shift



On Easter, I felt there was no greater story to share than one of redemption and hope in a world today filled without hope. When you look around the world you begin to wonder just how bad will it get. If you love a bit of spiritual warfare coupled with an unforgettable romance story of a prodigal family finding their way home, then you will love The Shift from author M. Ann Ricks.

The story opens with a young girl Xion who finds herself literally at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ amid Jesus' mother and others. Only she doesn't realize it at the time, just who the disfigured man is hanging there dying while those around him are weeping and sobbing. All she knows is when she looks into the eyes of this man, she doesn't see despair but love instead. Then she wakes up. Xion has been living with her grandparents since graduating from school and has been estranged from her mother Veronica since as far back as she can remember. It's a painful place that memories can keep us chained and no one is more content with that than the demons who want nothing more than to keep her in bondage and away from the truth that her grandparents have been praying for.

But for Xion, despite all she knows about Jesus Christ, and what her grandparents have shared with her, this is something that has to come to her on her own terms not merely accepting what everyone tells her she should do. So while her grandparents diligently continue to pray for her to come to know Jesus as they do, she continues to be haunted by the dream that felt like more than just a dream. She wonders just who the man is and why she continues to be haunted by his image.

Meanwhile Zeborah and Richard, Xion's grandparents and founders of Kingdom Revelation Center continue to pray for Xion, they are also praying for Veronica, her mother to come back home. It has been years since she has remained separated from them but feel God's got something big going on that will draw them all closer together one more time. Yet the enemy isn't so willing to give up the secrets of the past that have kept them all in bondage and he will stop at nothing to ensure the success in his plans of keeping Xion and Veronica from finding the salvation, hope and forgiveness that can only be found in Jesus Christ.

I received The Shift compliments of the author M. Ann Ricks herself for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions included here are strictly my own.. I've been a huge fan of speculative fiction, which is the new term that accompanies books on spiritual warfare in a fiction sense, since being exposed to Frank Peretti's books, Piercing the Darkness and This Present Darkness. It is important to understand that there is a world that we cannot see in which spiritual battles are taking place between believers and non believers everyday for our souls. This one is along those lines and shows just how strong the weapon of prayer can be in the life of a believer. It also shows how the enemy will do whatever it takes to keep us from using that power to battle for the lives of the unsaved around us. I LOVED this story that M. Ann Ricks has so thoughtfully put together and was divinely inspired to reach those that will read it. I easily give this one a 4.5 of out 5 stars in my opinion.

For more information about The Shift, M. Ann Ricks or where you can pick up a copy of this book today, please click on the links below:


You can also fine M. Ann Ricks on Facebook to stay up to date on all her latest novels.

You can pick up a copy of this book at your favorite book retailer or through Amazon. 
  • Paperback: 342 pages
  • Publisher: M. Ann Ricks Literary Creations (March 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0991039955
  • ISBN-13: 978-0991039951
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches


Saturday, April 19, 2014

As It Was In The Days of Noah



After the latest Hollywood movie to launch onto the big screen, Noah seems to be the talk about town. There are so many critics that argue just how accurate the story was to the biblical story, but one can hardly argue with the fact that in almost every single race and culture that there are around 270 versions of the story of the great flood. Coincidence or Godly intervention? I say the later!

What I do love, is the book that I happened to have found primarily through numerous advertisements on my Facebook page, As It Was In The Days of Noah from author Jeff Kinley. I wrote to him and kindly asked for a complimentary copy to review as the Bible's story of Noah is kept to about 3 chapters in Genesis beginning in chapter 6, but I knew that there had to be more to the study of Noah's life. How did Noah become so righteous if the entire world was declared by God to be destined for destruction based on their sinful lives? What was the importance of rain being used to judge mankind? Who helped build the ark? What was the significance of Methusaleh in Noah's life? More importantly, what does all this mean for the future of the world?

I have to say, when I got the book in the mail, I was surprised at how small the book was. I was hoping for a thick book filled to the brim with research and reference for me to follow along with my Bible. Yet God is amazing in using people like Jeff Kinley to shine the light in the dark places, one doesn't need a whole lot of light, just a bit to make it dark no more and that is just what you get in this book. So much information along with great footnotes that I was diligently following along with my Bible to see for myself how often I have glossed over the story of Noah, the Ark and the Great Flood and missed all the connecting pieces of the puzzle and what it reveals is chilling to the core.

We all know, as believers, that the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, will happen when the world becomes like it was in the days of Noah.

Matthew 24:36-38  "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone."For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah."For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark."

So if you are like me, always watching for signs of the coming of Jesus, you want to go back into our history to see what kinds of things were happening in Noah's day. All I know, is that I don't want to be here, when that happens. Even though our world with all its violence, murder, rape, sexual crimes, and people now looking the other way when wrong things are committed now saying that those things are right, we are literally sitting on the cusp of the Second Coming of the Lord more so now than at any other time in history. So it is too late? Is there any hope? You might want to pick this book up for yourself and see what it has to say along with your Bible. All I know is that despite the issues concerning Hollywood's take on the story of Noah, there have been more hits on Bible applications and websites dealing with Noah than ever before. God can truly use anything to get His message across. God is patient wishing none to perish, but even He has a limit to just how long that will be. And it may be much sooner than you ever thought.



I received As It Was In The Days of Noah by Jeff Kinley compliments of Harvest House Publishers and the author himself for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions expressed are strictly my own. I have utilized this book in conjunction with my own Bible for a complete indepth study on what the Bible says about Noah and the preview of earth's final days. Being a huge lover of Bible prophecy and End Times events, this one hit a home run in my book. You can't argue the facts that Jeff does such an exceptional job at explaining like the meaning behind Methusaleh's name and the significance of his death. I never made the correlation to Noah's family tree to understand how he was raised, and so much much more. I highly encourage you to pick up a copy of this book and begin your own personal journey of discovery and this can also be used in conjunction with a small group Bible Study as well. Hands down I easily give this one a 5 out of 5 stars and will be re-reading this one quite a few more times and keeping it in a place of reference close at hand.

For more information about As It Was In The Days of Noah, Jeff Kinley or where you can pick up a copy of this book today, please click on the links below:


You can also find Jeff Kinley on Facebook to stay up to date on all his latest books.

You can also find As It Was In The Days of Noah on Harvest House Publisher's website.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Cocoon



Very few people ever think that the wedding vows that they make to stay together in sickness and health, will ever happen sooner than later and in most cases hopefully never at all. But such was not the case between Seana Howard and Barth McGrath. To say that things began well would be simply an understatement for them both. Each had lost loves in their earlier lives and both were struggling with the fact that they would grow old alone. Seems fate does that quite a bit, bringing people together during the difficult times as almost a reward for their prolonged perseverance in times of hardship. You would also think that Seana's grown children, Zoe and Tim, would be more than thrilled that their mother would find love again and marry, but again this would not be the case.

For Seana and Barth, theirs would be a whirlwind romance, not because they wanted to get on with life, but because after previous marriages and their age, they felt they knew what was right for each of them, without considering that Seana's children would hopefully come to accept their marriage given enough time. But for some reason, Zoe felt that Barth was hiding something. All the questions she asked Barth about his previous life, seemed to go unanswered or he simply steered the conversation in other directions. So it was no wonder when she discovers that Barth's previous wife was murdered and he was considered the suspect, that he may not be suitable for her mother.

But love is blind and soon Seana and Barth felt that they needed to elope and find a way to let the kids and neighbors know about their marriage after the fact. Everyone couldn't have been happier for Seana except for Zoe and Tim. Even her grandchildren had come to accept Barth. Yet when Seana begins to take Barth's advice to make healthier choices when it comes to the food she eats and later begins to grow ill, with a diagnosis that even baffles her doctors, Zoe begins to think Barth is up to no good. It seems that the more time passes, the worse Seana gets, even though Barth vows to care for her no matter how bad things will get. Will he take his marriage vows all the way to the end if need be, or will Zoe find the proof she needs to prove to everyone that her fears about Barth are valid after all?

I received Cocoon by Emily Sue Harvey compliments of The Story Plant for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions expressed are strictly my own. This book will ask the hard questions that most of us that are married hope will never happen. How far would you go to care for the person you marry? How much time would you spend caring for their needs 24/7? What if there was no answer to why someone simply gives up the will to live? Is there hope and light at the end of the tunnel when everyone simply gives up? This novel has a great message behind it all and one that shows how hard faith can be when facing the darkness day after day and seeing no results. One worth exploring to the end! I easily give this one a 4 out of 5 stars!

For more information about Cocoon, Emily Sue Harvey or where you can pick up a copy of this novel today, please click on the links below:


You can also follow Emily Sue Harvey on Facebook to stay up to date on all her latest novels.

To read more reviews on Coccon, please visit Story Plant's website. 






Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Amazing Spiderman 2 Review and Giveaway



You can't live in our home and not be affected by Marvel superheroes in some way, shape or form. The addiction began with my husband Steve and then migrated to my two daughters, 21 and 15 and then I found myself getting hooked in the movies and stories as well. I have my favorites much like everyone in my house does, but being a believer in Christ, we have to be careful about how outside influences can affect our lives. I am a firm believer that God can use ANYTHING to get his point across and even in the latest Spiderman 2, there are profound messages we can utilize to incorporate those lifestyle choices into valuable lessons for our children and family.

Even though the movie isn't scheduled for release just yet, there are some great ideas to be found in a discussion guide for family geared to highlight those points in the Amazing Spiderman 2. We've always known that Spider-Man's most important battle has been within himself: the struggle between the ordinary obligations of Peter Parker and the extraordinary responsibilities of Spider-Man. But in The Amazing Spider-Man 2™, Peter Parker finds that a greater conflict lies ahead. This is useful because we know things in life aren't always fair and there will be times of trouble for all of us. It's those choices we make that determine the outcome when those trials of life head our way.

This discussion guide that is available as part of a prize package deals with the issues that Peter Parker faces in this new movie, such as the nature of power and how you can be someone who is needed despite not having super powers like Spiderman does. If you think about it, he doesn't use his "spidey senses" when it comes to figuring out how he will deal with the evil he confronts in his life. We all have unique talents and abilities unlike anyone else and when we try and become like someone else, we cover those up. It shows us that we all have a part to play in life and we all matter. We can understand the value of time and what a true treasure it is in our life. It's what we do with them that matters. A key part of growing up is understanding how to balance your time and managing our responsibilities.

The movie also teaches us about sacrifice, Spiderman does that when he places himself between others and the evil he confronts. He is willing to die for those he loves and cares for and even those he hardly knows much like Jesus did for us. It shows the example for kids of what unconditional love looks like. Peter Parker sacrifices his feelings for Gwen in order to keep her safe, while Harry Osborn uses others in his quest for power to destroy Spiderman.

The discussion guide parallels scripture verses along with subplots from the movie to open up discussions with your family in how they would deal with similar situations in their own lives that may come up. There are questions designed to spark those conversations in your family to guide them in making the right choices before they actually happen.

I received the Family Discussion Guide for the Amazing Spiderman 2 compliments of Propeller, LLC for my honest review and think this makes a great tool for families to use to open discussions in their family dealing with the same situations that Peter Parker faces in this movie. Anything that keeps communication open is a great asset for families and using this along with your Bible can teach our kids that God truly does hold all the answers to whatever we face in life through His Word. I easily rate this a 5 out of 5 stars. Now for the fun part! Thanks to the generous folks at Propeller LLC, they are offering a prize package to one lucky follower of my blog which contains:

- AMAZING SPIDERMAN 2 Prize Pack (t-shirt, paper mask and phone case)

Here's all you need to do to enter: 
1. Be a follower of my blog Reviews From The Heart
3. Be a resident of the US or have a US shipping address. Please No P.O. Boxes
4. Leave me a comment below telling me why you want to win a prize pack for your family. Don't forget to include your email address. You can use the words (at) and (dot) instead of the symbols. If I don't have your email address, I can't notify you if you are the lucky winner. 

The giveaway will end on April 25th and feel free to enter as many times as you'd like. I will notify the winner by email on that date!

For more information on The Amazing Spider-Man 2 coming to theaters in May, please visit their website.

Claiming Mariah



Just when things couldn't get any worse for Mariah Malone, in rode trouble. Tall, dark and handsome Slade Donovan was about to change Mariah's life in an unbelievable way. After losing her father, she has managed to attempt to hold down things at her father's cattle ranch the best she could, but after fighting a losing battle after two years of profits she wasn't prepared for what Slade had on his mind.

In response to her letter advising him that she had recently been made aware of her father stealing half of the gold between her father and Slade's, she wanted to make things right. She wanted to offer him a cut of her cattle in hopes of mending the broken fences that kept the two families at odds. Only Slade wanted more than simply a pay off from Mariah. Armed with proof that the mine that both men found gold in was in his father's name only, anything bought with that gold was his, and he wanted to make sure that he got back what he believed he was entitled to and that meant the ranch and everything on it.

Believing that God had an answer for this shocking revelation, Slade's brother Buck was able to convince Slade to allow Mariah and her aging grandmother to stay on the ranch until his family finally came to settle in, and would pay for her upkeep of the house and meals for him and his brother. Mariah knew that the only way she and her grandmother could hope of traveling back to Philadelphia was to accept Slade's offer and save everything she could.

But soon Slade discovers the reason why the ranch hasn't been turning a profit and believes that Mariah's mismanagement of the cattle sales to pay for her sisters school in Philadelphia is something she has long overlooked. Without giving her a chance to explain, he immediately shuts down any attempt she makes and keeps his opinions to himself. Mariah concedes to sign the deed to the cattle ranch over to Slade as long as he promises he will keep the real reasons for the sale private to keep her family name intact in town. Will the two of them be able to work together long enough for them both to benefit or will the anger that Slade has in his heart drive her away forever?

I received Claiming Mariah by Pam Hillman compliments of Tyndale House Publishers and Litfuse Publicity for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions contained in this review are strictly my own. I love how Pam wrote this story from the hearts and perspectives of both Mariah and Slade. Mariah's faith keeps her strong in spite of the circumstances that threaten to leave her homeless and with nothing, while Slade keeps fighting the faith that Mariah has to keep God out for the unanswered prayers he had as a child. He loves what he sees in Mariah but can't see past his own hard heart for the answers to peace and happiness. Where as his brother Buck who is facing his own challenging odds keeps God in perspective and realizes that nothing that happens is God's fault. It will take an act of faith to bring Slade around. I easily give this one a 5 out of 5 stars! Pam Hillman is now one of my must have authors! I am completely addicted to her western novels.

For more information about Claiming Mariah, Pam Hillman or where you can pick up a copy of this novel today, please click on the links below:



You can find Pam Hillman on Facebook to stay up to date on all her latest novels.

To read more reviews on Claiming Mariah, please visit Litfuse Publicity's Book Tour Page.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Lip Reading



Before we all die, I think we want to leave behind a lasting legacy. One that will go on after we are gone from this earth. We want our life to count for something. Perhaps it's to achieve resolution after facing guilt, perhaps it's to right a wrong or to take a different path than the one life has offered to us. Yet many never have the opportunity to do that and instead lay awake on their death bed filled with a life of regrets. Becca Jackson isn't going to be one of those people.

Facing almost twenty years of regret and guilt for making the wrong choices in her life, she's about to get the push that will propel her life in ways she would never dream possible. While visiting in Africa for a publicity ad to turn around recent bad press for Jackson Pharmaceuticals, she finds herself being kidnapped. Only it will be unlike any kidnapping she has ever had to face. This is designed to make a point and a lasting impression not only in her life but in the lives of the people her uncle's company employs and the people whose lives are forever changed by the drugs they produce and use on people. In this case, a recent drug Mopivadine, an retroviral drug that inhibits the reproduction of HIV through the maternal-child transfer, which has been a complete success. Until Dr. Jacob Opondo reveals to her that children in Africa are dying at such a high rate due to complications caused by not being able to breast feed this children and not having any other source of nutrition is causing them to die while succeeding at preventing the transfer of HIV between the mother and her child.

Dr. Opondo wants Becca's financial help to provide clinics and nutrition as well as medical care to help these patients, because without it the children will continue to die even though the drug is considered a success. He wants $5 million dollars to help his people. He knows that it is money Becca's company can easily provide considering she is sitting on the cusp of cutting edge research of a blood substitute that can used world wide in life or death situations without the risks associated with blood transfusions in the future. Now if she can just get back to working on her research and find a cure to the headaches that keep her from concentrating on what has been going wrong with her work. What she does notice is just before the pain launches into a full grown migraine, she is able now to focus with such clarity, she is 5 steps ahead in her thought process.

When she is finally released to head back home to the United States, she runs into Noah Linebrink, her ex-boyfriend from high school that has been tasked to see if he can get Becca to work for Bradshaw Pharmaceuticals, a competitor of her uncle's on the same research she's been working on. Noah is confident that with the research he's been working on along with Becca's they both have the missing pieces to one anothers puzzle that could launch either company into netting billions of dollars in revenue. But Becca and Noah have a past that could prevent either of them from trusting one another, and after twenty years, the guilt that each of them has been carrying is about to end one way or another.

I received Lip Reading by Harry Kraus, MD compliments of David C Cook Publishers and Christian Fiction Blog Alliance for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own. I've been a huge fan of Harry Kraus' novels because of his incredible insight of using his knowledge as a surgeon and incorporating it into his novels to add a sense of realism that is often times lacking on other medical suspense novels. This one is no exception, and being a huge migraine sufferer, I found myself cringing each time, Becca's headaches began to materialize. I have to say this one took me places I didn't think it would and created a lasting message about the difference in salvation with grace and not works. This one easily deserves a 5 out of 5 stars and I can't wait for more from him in the near future.

For more information about Lip Reading, Harry Kraus MD or where you can pick up a copy of this novel today, please click on the links below:


You can also find Harry Kraus MD on Facebook to stay up to date on all his latest novels.

To read more reviews on Lip Reading, please visit Christian Fiction Blog Alliance's Book Tour page.

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: David C. Cook (March 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0781405343
  • ISBN-13: 978-0781405348
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 1.2 inches

Monday, April 14, 2014

An Interview with Tosca Lee





An Interview with Tosca Lee, Author of Iscariot

History has called him many things: Thief. Liar. Traitor. Reviled throughout history and infamous for his suicide, he is the man whose very name is synonymous with betrayal . . .

And the only disciple that Jesus called “friend.”

Judas.

But who would take a journey through the Lenten season with Judas, of all people?

The answer: readers of New York Times bestselling author Tosca Lee's Iscariot, in which Lee dares to delve into biblical history’s most maligned character—from his tumultuous childhood to his emergence as the man known to the world as the betrayer of Jesus. But more than the story of one man, Iscariot is a view into the life of Jesus that forces readers to reexamine what they thought they knew about two of the most famous—and infamous—religious icons in history.

The study guide, “A Journey with Judas," is available to book clubs and small groups free along with daily devotionals from now until Easter at toscalee.com.

Who is Tosca Lee, and why did she choose to write a book on the Bible’s most controversial character? An interview with the award-winning author of Havah: The Story of Eve and the Books of Mortals trilogy (with Ted Dekker) follows.

Q: How did you start writing biblical fiction?

A: I kind of fell into it, actually. Around 2000, I wrote this story about a fallen angel. I did it in six weeks. And then it took nearly seven years to sell. When we were doing the deal, the editor said, “What else do you have?” I rummaged around and found one page I had done a year before of a very old Eve starting to tell her story. I don’t know why I started writing that, but I pulled it out and said, “I have this!” And they bought it. It eventually became the prologue to Havah: The Story of Eve.

Q: Why Judas? Of all people—why did you choose to write about him?

A: Several years ago, an editor—the same editor who acquired Demon and Havah—suggested a story on Judas. I’d already done a fallen angel and Eve, after all. I flatly refused. Too much research. Too much controversy. Too hard. But the idea started following me around. Finally, about a year later, I was sitting in this New York restaurant eating dinner and found myself scribbling a scene between Judas and his mother on the paper tablecloth. I knew then I was a goner. I realized I wanted to become this disciple Jesus called “friend,” wanted to slip into his skin and sit down next to this enigmatic teacher and healer that people to this day call “Messiah.” I wanted to see and experience him, for myself.

I tore the scene off, shoved it in my purse, and called my agent a few days later, hoping he would talk me out of it. He didn’t. After two years of research, with much fear and trembling, I started writing.

Q: Did you always want to be a writer?

A: Writing was never the plan, even though I’d won some contests growing up in school. Ballet was my first love—I danced with a local ballet company as a teenager and spent my summers studying dance in Kansas City and New York. But within a few years I literally outgrew ballet: I’m nearly six feet tall en pointe. After a torn groin and other injuries, I knew it just wasn’t going to happen. The summer after my freshman year in college, I decided I’d take a stab at writing a novel. I wrote it. It got rejected. It’s still in a crate down in my basement like a skeleton. I’m afraid to look at it. It’s probably got three arms and two heads.

Q:  What’s the coolest thing about writing biblical/historical fiction?

A: We all know the story of Judas, of Adam and Eve—of myriad other two-dimensional characters we first met as flannel board characters in Sunday School with just the barest detail to define the morality tale of their lives. But if these were real people, then they had hopes, aspirations, influences, and motivations. There’s always more to the story. And that makes them much more like us than we might care to admit. That’s scary. Inevitably—and this happened with Iscariot, too—there comes a point about hallway through the story where I realize I’m no longer writing Judas’ story, or Eve’s… but my own.

Q:  Iscariot has been recognized as a Best Christian Fiction title of 2013 by the Library Journal and has been nominated for several other awards. Why do you think Iscariot resonates with readers?

A: I think because like Judas, we are all seeking answers. We are seeking some kind of deliverance—maybe not from Roman occupation, but from a situation, or a fear, or a sickness, anything. We are looking for answers, and expecting God to intervene in certain ways. I think we all identify with trying so hard to do the right things, with having expectations for how God will act, and how, if I do this and that, God will do this and that. But it doesn’t always work out that way, and the question becomes how we will respond. I think we all can identify with that. And I think we all find ourselves completely ruined, in the best and worst of ways, by love we cannot understand.

Q: What do you do when you’re not writing?

A: I love to adventure travel—whether it’s fishing for piranha in the Amazon or trekking through the Balkans, every now and then I just have to get out of town. And I cook. There was a time when I could burn water and ruin cereal, but today I make a pretty mean quiche and haven’t managed to poison anyone in years.

Q: What’s next for you?

A: The Queen of Sheba! I figured it was time to be a girl again.


For more on Tosca and her books, including the free reading guide “A Journey with Judas," go to toscalee.com.


Tosca is offering a special giveaway to her readers this Easter. Enter by April 19th for a chance to win one of three great prizes:
  • A complete signed library of Tosca's work including Demon, Havah, Iscariot and the Mortals Triology
  • A signed copy of the Havok Magazine edition that includes Tosca's Ninja short story
  • A 30-minute video chat with Tosca that could include a critique of up to ten pages of your writing.
See Tosca's website for details and entry information.