Friday, December 30, 2016

Music & Videos

Even though this blog is devoted to book reviews, I am taking this time to highlight certain songs and the corresponding videos that I have listened to while reading (or writing). Each of these songs have a message that have spoken to me on multiple levels. As you listen to them, take a moment and think about the story the song is telling. These are books in musical form. To make this more fun, comment and tell me your favorite song (or music video) and what genre you love to read for a chance to win a free book. Remember to leave your email so that I can message you if you win.

Enjoy these songs!

1: Lauren Daigle - Come Alive (Dry Bones)


2: The Afters - Live on Forever


3: Unspoken - Open the Clouds


4: Ryan Stevenson - Eye of the Storm


5: Skillet - Stars


6: Switchfoot - Live It Well


7: Need to Breathe - Happiness


8: Hawk Nelson - Diamonds


9: Capital Kings - Believer


10: For King & Country - Shoulders


Hope you  enjoyed the list of songs that I found inspirational.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Unexpected Christmas Gifts

Christmas has always been a wonderful time to me. I love the lights, the decorations, the music, and most of all the love. Even though it seems that each year the Christmas seems to become more commercialize, I have seen a resurgence of the true meaning of Christmas. 

When it comes to gifts, a lot of gifts are not needed nor should it be practiced. Instead, think of the wise men and how their three gifts were precious in the sight of God.

To help with choosing a few gifts, I am listing a few books that I have found that would be enjoyed. Click the link to connect with the author via social media. And help support an author this Christmas and buy one of the books. 


Romance:

Summer's Flame by Wendy Davy

Surrender to Peace by Rose Allen McCauley


Caged Dove by Andrea Rodgers


Tapestry of Trust by Mary Annslee Urban


From Dishes to Snow by Kathy M. Howard


Contemporary (some with a romance thread)

Flabbergasted by Ray Blackston


Mississippi Nights by D.M. Webb



Fixing Perfect by Therese M. Travis


The 17 by Clint Kelly


Futuristic/Speculative/YA/Supernatural

Wake the Dead by Victoria Buck


Vanquished by Katie Clark


The Watchman by V.B. Tenery


Historical/Historical Romance

The Madonna of Pisano by MaryAnn Diorio


Mail Order Surprise by Lucy Thompson


Lightning on a Quiet Night by Donn Taylor



These are just a few books selected from the reviews on Rebel Book Reviews. I hope you would choose at least one, if not more, for those special Christmas presents.
 

 

 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Christmas Excerpt from 30 Days: A Devotional Memoir

30 Days: A Devotional Memoir
(Ambassador International 2013)

Luke 2:14
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."

This is a story told by my mother to all of her children. This is a story that helped to make sense why every Christmas we had an orange. And no other orange would smell as sweet, taste as soothing, and feel as smooth as that Christmas orange.



The Christmas Orange by Betty Sue Tutor

I grew up in a large family. As a large, poor family we seldom had a Christmas tree, much less Christmas toys. We waited for Santa Claus, but usually we got an orange and a note promising presents "next year". The Christmas that always stood out in my mind was when I was around three years old.
I remember waking up on Christmas morning and seeing a lot of cars and trucks in the yard. We didn't own a vehicle, so even a few cars would seem like a lot to me back then. We had just moved into the community and had very few household items. I remember walking into a room that must have been a living room without furniture, and there were several people sitting around on the floor with boxes of food, toys, presents, fruit, and clothes in front of them.

My mom was sitting in a straight-back chair hold the baby, and someone asked, "Which one is Betty Sue?" My older sister pushed me towards the person, but I was reluctant to go as I was a very shy child. My mom encouraged me to go to them. The person who asked for me showed me a box with my name on it and said it was for me. The one thing that caught my eye was an orange. I grabbed the orange and bit into the peeling. Nothing else mattered but that orange.

The people who came that Christmas morning were from a local church. And they had heard of a poor family that had a lot of kids without a Christmas...and that was the best Christmas I ever had.

This memory had helped me understand missionaries, missions, and the true meaning of Christmas. These people were simple ordinary people going about the Lord's work, and none of them knew the impact they had on my life nor the influence they had on me as a Christian.

I shared this memory with my mom and older sister when I was eighteen years old. They were both surprised I could remember that Christmas, since I was only three years old. My mom filled me in on the circumstances: how the church had heard from the farmer, on whose land we were living, about how we were poor, without food and without winter clothing. She said she cried that day thanking God for sending those people to help us and told me to keep this memory, to share it with my kids...I did, and I have.

Every Christmas I look forward to my Christmas orange, and every Christmas I find my orange under the tree, even if I have to put it there myself on Christmas Eve. A bag of oranges can sit on my counter, but the one that tastes the best is the one I find under my Christmas tree on Christmas morning.

Praise God for ordinary people willing to go about doing the Lord's work, and thank God for Christmas morning and my Christmas orange.
  

Find more inspirational stories in 30 Days: A Devotional Memoir by D.M. Webb.  

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Top Ten of 2016

The Top 10 of 2016

There were a lot of books this year. Although I didn't meet the 100 book goal I set for myself (life intervened), I did manage to rack up 85 books read. Of the 85, I reviewed 49. Out of those 49, I chose the top 10 books that seemed to stay with me and have become "favorites"; i.e., I will always recommend them to someone who is searching for a new book to read, or maybe a new-to-them author.

Hope you enjoy the little list below which is in no particular order (I've included links attached to the title if you desire to purchase any of the books). 

  "I do not know where this little story came from--out of the air, perhaps. One thing is certain, it is not written in any other book, nor is it to be found among the ancient lore of the East. And yet I have never felt as if it were my own. It was a gift, and it seemed to me as if I knew the Giver."
--Henry Van Dyke

Long, long ago, a wise man named Artaban, a priest of the Magi, discerned from heavenly signs that the time was at hand for the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy--the birth among the Hebrews of a holy Prince and Deliverer of Man. Hastening to join three fellow Magi for the long journey into Judaea, he paused to help a dying man and was left behind. And so Artaban began his pilgrimage alone, striking out not toward the realization of his life's deepest longing, as he hoped, but only toward misfortune and suffering. Or so he believed until one blessed, radiant moment. 
"And his gifts were accepted by his King." 



 Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.
Twenty years ago, Aniston Kline learned that childhood rhyme wasn’t true after being bullied in junior high. Now a newspaper reporter, Aniston returns to her hometown—a place she thought she would never return to—prepared to write an article about a boy’s story that echoes her past. Aniston wants nothing more than to slip in and out of Savanna Shores unseen and unrecognized by anyone who might still remember her; however, a brutal snowstorm ushers her into town and leaves her stranded in a snowstorm with her high school crush, Arjay.
Arjay Mason was once the handsome quarterback of the high school football team. Now a police officer in Savanna Shores, he has yet to find lasting love. He realizes he already missed one opportunity with Aniston and doesn’t want her to leave again—but how could she stay in a town that once caused her pain?
As Aniston faces her own demons from her past and sifts through old emotions with Arjay, the fate of a teenage girl named Maddie becomes intricately intertwined with the two adults’ to reveal a much grander plan for everyone involved. While it seemed like it was just coincidence that brought together Aniston and Arjay, the two begin to understand there’s a reason they were brought together again.

"How we must not let those parts of ourselves become caged." 



 A young woman, a priest, and a secret that keeps them bitterly bound to each other . . .

 "A new, fresh retelling of the age-old tale."












 Following a horrific murder, the town of Beneficent, Mississippi, population 479, tries desperately to hold onto its vain self-image. The young veteran Jack Davis holds that idyllic vision of the town and tries to share it with Lisa Kemper, newly arrived from Indiana. But she is repelled by everything in it. While the sheriff tries to find the killer, Jack and Lisa's contentious courtship reveals the town's strange combination of astute perceptions and surprising blind spots. Then they stumble onto shocking discoveries about the true nature of the town. But where will those discoveries lead? To repentance or to denial and continuation in vanity?
  
"The town and its people learn a valuable lesson in love, forgiveness, and humility."




  On the Number 17 bus, serving downtown Seattle, widower Jimmy Carter (not the former U.S. president) crashes headlong into the Almighty... Jimmy is lost without his wife. He measures his days as the time After Ruthie. It's now the year A. R. 4. When God starts speaking to him on the 17, Jim reluctantly agrees to serve, uncertain if he's gone off the deep end or if God-Who can do most things on His own-is really so desperate as to need Jimmy to lend a hand. When love blossoms, hurting people are restored, and lives are saved-and lost, Jimmy discovers he's linked to God in a most profound way.
    
"I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said."





 What if the first man reborn of an evolutionary leap doesn't like his new life? Is escape even possible? The time is right for introducing the world to the marvels of techno-medical advancements. An influential man, one loved and adored, is needed for the job, and who better than celebrity Chase Sterling? After suffering injuries no one could survive Chase is rebuilt like no one has ever seen before. In the not-too-distant future a man—if he can still be called a man—breaks away from the forces taking over his life and finds new purpose in the secret world of hiding believers.
 
"A wake-up call in fiction form"








When Detective Noah Adams meets the abused son of a powerful judge, he knows he must intervene—and fast. The violence is escalating, and even Noah’s special gifts may not prevent the unthinkable from happening.

Relentlessly pursuing two cases, Noah receives a chilling message: Cody’s deranged father has taken his son and it’s up to Noah to follow the judge’s twisted trail to find the boy before it’s too late.

Corrupt city officials, a missing socialite, an attempted murder, and a rescue in the middle of a blizzard entangle Noah in the most complicated case of his career. A case that will mean his ultimate redemption or will take him back into the dark history that haunts him.
 
"He can't save the world...but he can try."





When Hana’s mom is diagnosed with the mutation, she confesses to Hana she doesn’t know what will happen if she dies. Fischer, a medic at the hospital, implies there is Someone who can help–but religion’s been outlawed. Hana embarks on a dangerous journey, seeking the answers Fischer insists are available. But when the truth is uncovered, will Hana stick to what she's been taught? Or will she join the rebellion and take a stand against an oppressive society?

 "It's a time of Greaters, Middles, and Lessers, until that time is challenged by a few."







  **All Proceeds from the sale of this book are donated to Food for the Poor (R)** 

Firefighter Aiden Hawk has found his calling—giving back to the community that helped raise him—but deep down he longs for more. When Summer Cassel comes into his life hope sparks, and he dares to dream of a family to call his own, but each time he nears her, his nerves kick in and a shy streak takes hold. When Aiden moves in next door, Summer is determined to give him a proper welcome. After all, the handsome man ignites a flame she can't seem to resist. But, she doesn't take risks, especially those involving her heart, so when she discovers there is more to her bashful neighbor than meets the eye, Summer must make the ultimate decision... Will she be bound by fear or released by faith?
 
"Two people had to trust in God and in each other."




 Torry Martin—a comedian, actor, and hippie—fled from California to the wilderness of Alaska, searching for answers to life's big questions. He found what he was looking for...and a lot more!

A moose got its head stuck in Torry's window. A reindeer was trapped in his kitchen. A bear almost prevented him from reaching his airplane. He once woke up frozen to his cabin floor.

Like the Israelites of old, Torry experienced plenty of miracles and mishaps in the wilderness. And like them, he came face-to-face with God and was changed forever.

Each of these true stories of Torry's hilarious blunders and misfortunes contains a nugget of truth, but one theme prevails: If God can reclaim and repurpose Torry Martin's life, He can do the same for you and those you love.

"God doesn't want perfect people. He wants us."


I hope you enjoyed the Top 10 list for this year. Come back in December to read excerpts from 30 Days: A Devotional Memoir.  

NKJV: Airship Genesis Kids Study Bible

Airship Genesis Kids Study Bible
(Thomas Nelson 2016)

To keep on my track of reading and reviewing Bible versions and styles for a range of ages, I really loved the look, feel, and layout of the NJKV: Airship Genesis Kids Study Bible.


This is a perfect Bible for that young man, particularly ages 9 to 13.

The inserts provide valuable insights for the child and in an easy to understand syntax. References, maps, and thought provoking questions are also included.

If you want a child to grow strong in God's word, this is a Bible that will do so. It makes the Bible interesting and relevant to a child in today's world.

Highly recommended for that preteen.
 

***I received this Bible through BookLook Bloggers via Thomas Nelson*** 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Bedtime Read and Rhyme Bible Stories

Bedtime Read and Rhyme Bible Stories
by
Bonnie Rickner Jensen
(Thomas Nelson 2016) 

I'm still on my kick about reviewing books for children. I have come across some great titles, and books that will make exceptional Christmas presents. This book by Bonnie Rickner Jensen and illustrated by Robert Dunn is great.


Even though as times the rhymes may seem forced, that only occurred twice that I found, the stories are easy to read and hold a cadence that will delight young readers.

The Biblical stories are sound and accurate. I especially loved the stories, Moses Leads God's People and Three Big Names, Three Brave Men. But the one I loved the most was The Shepherd cares for the Lost.

"If one of His sheep, 
Just one little one, 
Wanders away from His side, 
He wont's give up!
He won't give in!
He'll search both far and wide."

A simple, yet powerful, story of His amazing love.

The details of the illustrations are rich and colorful. And this adds dimension to the stories. 

This beautiful book of bedtime stories is a definite must have for any child.

***I received this book through BookLook Bloggers via Thomas Nelson*** 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Watchman by V.B. Tenery

The Watchman
by
V.B. Tenery
(Pelican Book Group 2014) 

He can't save the world....but he can try.

With special abilities, Noah will try to use his power for good and for the glory of the Lord.  As a P.I. Noah takes on a pro bono style case that soon becomes meshed with two others. Not everything is as it appears and sometimes those guardian angels have to call in reinforcements in order to protect God's children, sometimes from their own stupidity, Noah included.

This is a well paced book, with plenty of action, just enough grit, and a whole lot of faith. The readers are given moments of down time to recover from the last high impact action before the next page hurdles them headlong down another road of chases, fights, and flights.

Noah has a self-depreciating attitude at times coupled with subtle humor; this is seen in his tongue-in-cheek alias Sam Spade (who is a P.I character well known for his cutting and snide remarks aka snarky attitude). You couldn't fall in love with Noah Adams? A man of integrity. A man of action and compassion. A man of values, but still with his faults that humanize him. I'll admit there were times that I wished this character was real, so that I could smack on the back of the head or give him a really big hug.

V.B. Tenery brought to life the viewpoint of a man; tough exterior, soft heart, fearless, brave, and headstrong. The readers come to understand Noah's driving force; "the why" of his actions and determination. He is one of the few that is compelled to help those who need it, none more so than the children.

I loved this story. I loved how it all was woven together into this giant tale that had me wanting more of Noah's story to read.
 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Killswitch by Victoria Buck

Killswitch
by
Victoria Buck
(Pelican Book Group 2016)

Although not as captivating as the first book, Wake the Dead, Killswitch did offer its own list of merits.

It centered mainly about the underground church and how Chase tried to insert himself in this strange life of people who are far different from the world he lived in.

The Christianity portrayed in this book is strong, and at times it felt too strong for me. I did have a problem with the people thinking that lying was a sin. Remember Rahab and her blessing for her lie that protect God's people? Only the bearing of false witness aka lying to harm another is a sin. So that part kind of bothered me, especially when the theft of supplies wasn't frowned upon. (Of course the theft was needed to survive.)

The narrative was at times jilted and I was left with filling in the blanks to obtain the picture needed. BUT that didn't keep me from reading. This story wasn't about the action or the underground church versus the WR. It was about Chase. And all about Chase.

On that note, the book brought the deep impact of Chase's actions and reactions to his new world. The reader will see him evolve from a man who thought he could save the people, to a man who had it all taken from him (again), and finally to the man who surrendered to a higher power which gave him strength he never knew he had.

I look forward to the next installment. I have to know what happens in Detroit! And I have to know the answers to the questions that Killswitch left me with.
  

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

KJV Beginner's Holy Bible

KJV Beginner's Holy Bible
(Zondervan 2016)

I've been on a kick where I've been reviewing Bibles lately. Mainly to see how well suited they are for children and teenagers. Most of the Bibles I have read (perused) have been wonderfully made and had a surprisingly good layout.


This one is no exception. 

Instead of the maps, photos, or reproductions of Renaissance artwork, this Bible has kid friendly drawings that engage the eye and would delight any young reader.

This is the full King James Version Bible. The print is large enough not to strain little eyes.

This is one Bible I would recommend as the first Bible for any young school-age child.  

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

God's Little Lambs Bible Stories by Julie Stiegemeyer

God's Little Lambs Bible Stories
by
Julie Stiegemeyer
(Zonderkidz 2016) 

I don't often write reviews on children books or children Bible storybooks. Usually because those book are open to interpretation and artistic flair. Children's minds are not like adults so the stories would have to be severely scaled back for their understanding.


This book captured my attention with the illustrations and I chose to review it thinking it may make for a nice Christmas gift.

What did I think of God's Little Lambs Bible Stories? I found it interesting. I like how the major stories of the Bible: In the Beginning, Garden of Eden, Noah, Jericho, Joseph, David, and Jesus to name a few. The stories did host an abbreviated account of each, but still relayed the most important parts of that Biblical account.

The New Testament was different in its telling, making sure that the stories centered around Jesus and sparked an ember for a child to want to know more about Jesus. 

After each story, the little box that summed up the "moral of the story" is a sentence or two that helps the story relate to the child's life.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would. I find it more intriguing than any other Bible storybook. 

***I received this book from Zondervan via Booklook Bloggers in exchanged of an honest and complete review***  

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Shattered Vigil by Patrick Carr

Shattered Vigil
by
Patrick W. Carr
(Bethany House 2016)

 Shattered Vigil is the second installment in the Darkwater Saga. If I thought By Divine Right and Shock of Night were superb, then I have no words for Shattered Vigil.


Patrick Carr has the ability to pull the reader into a new world and immerse that reader into cultures, beliefs, societies, and lands that are rich in detail. He uses not just first person point of view (Willet Dura), but also third person, to give the reader a dual experience. Let them know what is to come and what is happening, but to also be there, be that character.

When it comes to reading a fantasy novel, I want to be swept away with complex characters. Those type of characters where at times I will hate them or extremely dislike them, but other times where I view them as a hero. There are no stereotypes in this book.

Published by a Christian company, Shattered Vigil holds a multi-faceted story of the Christian faith. So many nuances and little sub-stories within parallel the stories in the Bible, and even the people of the Bible.

I was only disappointed one time in the book. And that was when it ended! The one person who was thought to be a phantom became real. I looked forward to the next book and need to find out if the mystery of Darkwater will ever be solved. Will Willa's vault be his undoing? Will the Vigil and the Urchins become more than anyone ever thought possible?

This is truly a book full of saints and sinners, but all one soul seeking truth. 

***I received this book through NetGalley in exchange of an honest and complete review*** 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Highlights from the 2016 Year

As the year winds down to a close I've decided to post books that have impacted me and made the long list of the Top Ten of 2016. With only two more review months left of 2016, will these books remain on the list? Read the Top Ten of 2016 post in December and find out. Until then, enjoy a few highlights of wonderful books and talented authors! 


January Highlights:

The Story of the Other Wise Man
~Henry van Dyke
"And his gifts were accepted by his King."
 
Caged Dove
~Andrea Rodgers
"How we must not let those parts of ourselves become caged."
 
February Highlights:
 
Of Moose and Men
~Torry Martin/Doug Peterson
"God doesn't want perfect people. He wants us."
 
  Counted with the Stars
~Connilyn Cossette
"Inspiring tale set in the lush land of Ancient Egypt."
 
April Highlights:
 
Summer's Flame
~Wendy Davy
"Two people had to trust in God and in each other."

Wake the Dead
~Victoria Buck
"a wake-up call in fiction form"
 
May Highlights:
 
The Madonna of Pisano
~MaryAnn Diorio
"A new, fresh retelling of the age-old tale."
 
Surrender to Peace
~Rose Allen McCauley
"Sweet and simple love story about surrendering your heart."
 
June, July, & August Highlights:
 
Vanquished 
~Katie Clark
"It is a time of Greaters, Middles, and Lessers, until that time is challenged by a few."
 
The Occupied
~Craig Parshall
"Solid book of mystery, thrills, passion, hope, and above all, love."
 
September Highlights:
 
The 17
~Clint Kelly
"I am the Lord's Servant. May it be to me as you have said."
 
Lightning on a Quiet Night
~Donn Taylor
"The town and its people learn a valuable lesson in love, forgiveness, and humility."
 
 
I hope you enjoyed reading a little about these books and hopefully you'll check out the titles. There are more to come....

 
 

 
 

  

 
  
 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Shadow of the Storm by Connilyn Cossette

Shadow of the Storm
by
Connilyn Cossette
(Bethany House 2016)

This is the second book in the Out of Egypt series. The reader will find the same characters, learn more about another, and see from the eyes of a newer character.


Shadow of the Storm presents a story of the exodus from Egypt led by Moses. As they are camped at the foot of the mountain, live goes on as each of the characters learn what it means to truly follow God and the dangers of breaking His covenant.

Seeing history play out through the eyes of Shira, who is not privy to all the happenings and decisions of the elders, and who has to overcome a horrific assault from her past, is truly an experience in reading. Even the story told from the eyes of Dvorah, a vengeful woman, brings to light how the Hebrews strove to throw off the influences of Egypt and to fully embracing the love of God.

Connilyn Cossette brings such wonderful details to the novel. The reader will feel the hurt, hope, despair, and love from these characters. We see with new eyes the story of the Hebrews and glean new understanding to the story we all know.

I look forward to reading the next book, because surely there will be another.

***I received this book through NetGalley from the publisher in exchange of an honest and complete review*** 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Slender Reeds by Texie Susan GregorySo

Slender Reeds:
Jochebed's Hope
by
Texie Susan Gregory
(Shiloh Run Press 2016) 

Slender Reeds is a take on a Biblical story that most all know. We have all read and seen stories about Moses and the exodus from Egypt, but never have we really been exposed to the story before his birth.

Texie Susan Gregory takes on this challenge. She proposes a "what-if" scenario into the life of the Hebrews held captive in Egypt. Seen from the eyes of not just Jochebed, Moses' mother, but also her friends, Ramses, and others.

We see, as if floating above watching a movie or play unfolding before us, the madness of Ramses, the heartache of Jochebed and Shiphrah, and the anguish of the Hebrews.

Told with such exquisite detail I could see the love, hope, and faith that God works in the darkness. I felt the horror at the little lives lost in such hatred. I understood in further detail the madness of Ramses and his rule.

With historical accuracy, Slender Reeds brings to life a new outlook on an old, old story that was a promise 400 years in the making.

Once I finished this book, I wanted more.  So many nuances, so many reeds, so many stories told within these pages that it created a wonderful work of art to be savored and read time and time again.

Texie Susan Gregory resurrected the writing styles of the classical masters and breathed new life into how stories should be told. A highly recommended read for anyone.

***I received this book from Barbour Publishing in exchange of an honest and complete review*** 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Crossing the Waters by Leslie Leyland Fields

Crossing the Waters
by
Leslie Leyland Fields
(NavPress 2016)

I did like this book. But I found it disjointed in writing style which made for a difficult read.
At times I could not connect enough with the author to understand what she was trying to impart to me as a reader. I could not image Israel, since I've never been, and the description was lacking in some areas, but there were many passages that describe what I may never see in this lifetime. After a while I could picture the areas she visited.

As for the visits in Israel, I found at times that she was judgemental of the people, but this humanized her. Showed me that even Christians can judge based on what we see. And how she handles this discovery of herself is with grace and humility.

Her trials, while maybe not as severe as what many people have experienced, were still challenging trials that helps connect the reader to the passages and stories she uses.

What I loved the most? The stories of Alaska.

Her use of Biblical scripture and real life, meshing and weaving them together, created a net that would capture and reader and hold them there.

It was an enjoyable book. And one that would stay with the reader long after the last page is read.

*** I was provided a copy of the book through Tyndale House Publishers in exchange of a complete and honest review***