Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Faith to Die For by Mark Geppert

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Do you want a testimony of the radical life lead by those who follow where Christ leads no matter what? Of the crazy circumstances? Of the amazing rescues? Of the incredible stories of salvation? Of seeing God work miracles in ordinary life? Then read this book. I will warn you: it is a blunt story. Nothing is masked over to make it look lovely or easy. Because true faith isn't lovely, isn't easy. But it IS worth it.

Now, I may not agree with all of Mr. Geppert's theology (he is a charismatic who believes the gift of healing miracles is still active today) but I love that he describes a modern "apostle" as the "sent ones". Those chosen to go tell of Him. Simply go. Of course you make plans. Of course you make sure it is truly God's will. But then you the rest of the details to the God of the universe.

His testimony of how God has used his witnessing ministry puts to shame many who do nothing about what they believe.

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Whitaker House (September 2, 2013)

***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling for sending me a review copy.***


Mark Geppert is president and founder of the South East Asia Prayer Center. He teaches seminars on prayer walking, micro-economic kingdom business principles, and team building to leaders in Latin America, Asia, Australia, Africa, and Europe, as well as throughout the U.S. He is known as a “master communicator” through his work in radio and television. Mark has worked in over 30 countries and has authored four books. Ordained through Elim Fellowship of Rochester, New York, he has served on the staff of several churches in the U.S. and has most recently established and pastored the English-speaking congregation of the Church of Singapore (Bukit Timah).

Visit the author's website.


“He stood and looked at us. The weapon was hot and heavy in his hand as he lowered the barrel toward us. His face was streaked with sweat and dirt; his eyes were filled with the sights of combat. He stared at me and asked, ‘Are you Mr. Mark?’”

How can you face death squarely with an absolute absence of fear? You can if you have hope. You can if you have traveled from Guatemala to Kiev to Beijing and seen God restoring hope in the midst of hopeless situations. Recounting his action-packed, journey from captivity in Indonesia, to freedom, Mark Geppert reveals the reality of knowing a God who neither fails nor abandons him. Many who have read A Faith to Die For  compare it to an action spy thriller. The big difference is that Mark’s story is true. He believes he lived to tell it not for personal glory, but to encourage others to welcome God’s intimate involvement into their daily lives and watch Him transform the mundane into the miraculous!

Product Details:
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (September 2, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603748911
ISBN-13: 978-1603748919


“What Do You Want from Us?”
“What do you want from us? Do you want to convert us all? Do you want us to be your slaves forever? What do you want from us?”
If hatred had a face, it would have been his—turban askew, eyes aflame, mouth spewing the red-hot lava of “jihad jargon.” Only the steel bars of the jailhouse window kept us from being consumed by this molten fury.
It was a terrible day in paradise. The gentle breezes of the Indian Ocean and Malacca Strait could not quench the fire. If he had been free, this Indonesian imam would gladly have done Allah a favor and killed an American Christian. His rage was the result of a lifetime of being forced to serve ExxonMobil executives and sleep in a one-room wooden coop, while they danced the night away in high fashion. His people had waited hand and foot on elite Dutch and Americans while the Javanese government collected the few crumbs falling from Aceh’s tilted table.
Finally, he and the multitude he served had captured three of the oppressors, as well as their Chinese friend. Justice would be served, if only for one torrid afternoon.
USA Today reported that it was a group of missionaries who “ran to the police station for help when faced with the mob.” The Jakarta Post said it was “another unfortunate incident of Muslim/Christian conflict.” While most of the world sat at their breakfast tables, turning the pages of these newspapers while sipping their juice and coffee, a group of people in Aceh, North Sumatra, expressed its indignation at the injustice of what had become an international incident. The events that transpired in March 1999 were just the tip of the iceberg, eventually escalating into larger events that would polarize the world.
We had come to the town that morning in our desire to pray for the Indonesian province of Aceh. A day’s journey north of the provincial border, the little town of Perlak is the last police post before a stretch of highway feared by police and freedom fighters alike—a location of mass graves. This stretch of land is one that military personnel do not dare to travel during the night. It is the place where seeds of rhetoric grow into large armies of youth that are ready to blow themselves up for militant ideologies. It is a recruiting ground for extremists, a place where boys become men before they can shave, and where families send their young sons to fight holy wars against the infidels.
We arrived on a beautiful, calm, peaceful March morning, and looked forward to reaching Banda Aceh, which had some of the best scuba diving in the world, beyond the checkpoint. Our hired driver felt that he could make our journey more comfortable by stopping to have a bite to eat before going on the road again. He parked in a central area, and we agreed to go to the market and then venture on to the police station so we could register and be on our way, within the hour. We decided to pair off in twos so that we could experience the quiet little town with another person and share what we had found with each other.
A secondary school had dismissed for lunch and Friday prayers, and we found ourselves in the midst of hundreds of teenagers who wanted to practice their English. Happy to oblige, we haltingly entered into conversation about the NBA and other American topics that interested the youth. The young people were the same ages as our sons and daughters. It was fun to learn how they lived, what they thought about, what they studied, and what they thought was funny. It was a real joy to be accepted by these young people.
It was not long before they had noticed the books we had in the car, and we gladly gave a few to them. Finding that these books were written in their mother tongue of Acehnese, they became very interested. Soon, we had handed out five hundred books and ninety cassette tapes to the teenagers. It had taken about forty-five minutes to do so, and the parents started to call the young people, warning them not to be late for prayers.
In these villages, the mosque was central to the people’s lives. Although they had the freedom to choose their religion, there was a civic pressure to abide by Muslim traditions. The farther away one lived from the capital, the stronger the civic pressure was. As a result, the children’s delay in reporting directly to the mosque after school was not strictly their parents’ concern; therefore, with apology, the students moved along quickly. They got to the mosque at about the same time we arrived at the police station.
Our driver met us at the station. He had to show the officers his appropriate licenses because he had worked for a company in another state and had registered his vehicle there. The police officers were professionally cordial and more than a bit interested in the books and tapes we had brought along.
None of us read the language or spoke it, and so we seized upon the officials’ offer to translate the message we carried. They found a tape player and started to play our cassettes. We listened together to the Christian message and soon realized that it was the gospel of Luke and the book of the Acts from the Bible. Not illegal in Indonesia, the gospel message did not set off any alarms with the police. They did caution us, however, about the strong Islamic culture in the area and suggested that we use discretion when sharing the material. We assured them that there was no problem, because the young people had already exhausted our supply. After all, we just wanted to pass through this area to the beautiful city several hours ahead.
Then we were invited into the police station so that they could make a record of our papers and call the station to which we were headed, to give them a departure time and an estimated time of arrival. We were shown to a comfortable room in the back left of the police station, where we were offered cool drinks and made comfortable while a clerk recorded our passport and visa information. The Indonesian police were very professional, thorough, and hospitable. Soon, we found out that they were also well-tempered and very loyal to their guests. They made calls to ensure that our travels would be safe. We really enjoyed the good humor of our newfound friends, along with the conversations about basketball, the World Wrestling Federation, and the recent heavyweight title champion.
Then conflict crashed against the windows. “You mother __________! What do you want from us?” Not quite the material from Conversations in English, Tape 3. A thrown bottle accompanied the shout, breaking the window and sending shards of glass throughout the room.
The police quickly pushed us into a hallway for cover and began to reprimand the man at the window. We checked each other for glass and, after finding everyone to be all right, took up a safe place in a cell at the end of the hallway. This would be our shelter for the next five hours, the time it took a very unhappy group of Muslims to vent their hatred, anger, and frustration to their fellow Muslims who protected us (a hapless group that was definitely in the wrong place at the wrong time). We were in the midst of a civil war, with roots that ran too deep for any Westerner to fully understand.
In response to our question, “What do they want?” the police officer replied, “You, dead.”
“Multitudes” form when reason can no longer be found. They live in tent cities in the Sudan or gather on hillsides in Palestine. Multitudes lend their force of numbers to any cause. They can be built on a common fear or a common need. They gather in the deserts of Arizona for the annual Burning Man Festival, a celebration of hedonism. They gather on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., for many different causes. They gather at Tiananmen Square or Trafalgar Square or any other square that accommodates them. They march for causes related to the environment; globalization; abortion; political positions; academic freedom; funding for the research and treatment of disease, such as HIV/AIDS; and common needs, like food and clothing.
Many of them are harmless. They wait for trains, escape heavy rains, and attend sporting events. They walk through deserts to find water. They sell their possessions and carry few necessities on their backs to flee conflict. They search for their basic needs.
When a multitude forms, leaders ask, “What do they want?”
Of the multitudes of Cherokee Indians, who began to move west from the Appalachian Mountains, the leaders said, “Do not worry; they will never survive the winter.” When multitudes of people were herded onto train cars to be destroyed by fascism, it was said, “They are an inferior race; we are doing the world a favor to eliminate them.” When multitudes of people fled Atlanta in the face of Sherman’s March to the Sea, it was said, “Do not be afraid; the South shall rise again.”
The problem with the multitudes is that they can be directed and affected by a very small group of extremists. Hatred grows in hungry bellies. It spreads its ruinous roots until murder and suicide become viable options to people who are hopelessly bound to the life-sucking system. A multitude, once in motion, is an irrevocable force that meets the government’s immovable hand. Once it swells in the streets and gets a taste of forbidden power, it mutates into a mob that is viewed as a mutiny. Mutiny must be dealt with at all costs, so brothers take up arms against brothers; nations stand against nations. Eventually, people begin to kill each other.
What every mass murderer needs to be successful is a multitude that will follow his or her lead. It makes little difference whether these followers are disciplined and in uniform or undisciplined and blowing themselves up. They are a multitude. They want a slice of the pie; a crumb from the table; the freedom to farm; the right to have a child or to receive an education.
The multitude is not mindless, as some are led to think. It bows down to the one it thinks can give it a better life. It commits to the leader who promises change and reform, because it hopes he or she will be different. It wants to believe that its morsel will become a loaf of bread if it pays the price. And when it begins to appear that it has been used, again, it begins to hope for a better future for its children.
Would Aceh Province of North Sumatra, Indonesia, be any better if it were governed by Islamic law? Would the rice grow taller? Would the fish return to the Straits of Malacca in abundance, as they did in times past? Would passages to the Straits be free of pirates? Would the profit of ExxonMobil be shared with every home? This multitude, fueled by the rhetoric of a young man instructed in Arabia and armed by money from a man found in a hole in the earth, believes with all its humble heart that the answer is an unequivocal “Yes.”
When faced with the first messenger of this multitude, we were frightened to the core. There had been many other multitudes, in other countries, for other causes, but the heat of this fire, in particular, found fodder in our hearts. We could hear the multitude milling about the station. They threw rocks on the roof and bottles at the walls and windows. They chanted and cursed in English and Indonesian. They broke windows and cried out what they would do to us and to those who protected us.
The euphemistic phrase they used again and again was this: “The situation has escalated.” Across from me in the cell was the “Banker,” a three-time Golden Gloves boxing champion of the State of New York. With a black belt in several martial arts, and being no stranger to violent situations, he simply smiled. “Stay calm; this is a Level 4. The police will wait until they calm down. Stay away from the windows. Be still. Do not worry; the police know what to do.”
I glanced at the “Doctor,” a mild-mannered man who was also a close friend of mine. He smiled back. I am sure he was thinking of the other situations we had been through together. But the veins on his forehead looked like they would burst at any moment.
The Asians were calm, poised. They had lived with jihad for decades and knew how to ride out the storm.
I decided to think through past experiences with multitudes. Taking the Banker’s advice, I sat down to quietly wait it out.

Friday, September 13, 2013


It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

B&H Books (September 1, 2013)

***Special thanks to Rick Roberson for sending me a review copy.***


Davis Bunn is a three-time Christy Award-winning, best-selling author now serving as writer-in-residence at Regent's Park College, Oxford University in the United Kingdom. Defined by readers and reviewers as a "wise teacher," "gentleman adventurer," "consummate writer," and "Renaissance man," his work in business took him to over forty countries around the world, and his books have sold more than seven million copies in sixteen languages. Among those titles are The Presence, Winner Take All, and Lion of Babylon.

Visit the author's website.


Simon Orwell is a brilliant student whose life has taken a series of wrong
turns. At the point of giving up on his dreams, he gets a call from an old
professor who has discovered a breakthrough in a device that would create
unlimited energy, and he needs Simon's help.

But once he crosses the border, nothing goes as the young man planned.
The professor has been killed and Simon is assaulted and nearly killed by
members of a powerful drug cartel.

Now he must take refuge in the only place that will help him, a local
orphanage. There, Simon meets Harold Finch, the orphanage proprietor
who walked away from a lucrative career with NASA and consulting
Fortune 500 companies to serve a higher cause.

With Harold's help, Simon sets out on a quest to uncover who killed the
professor and why. In due time, he will discover secrets to both the world changing device and his own unlimited potential.

Product Details:
List Price: $8.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: B&H Books (September 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 143367940X
ISBN-13: 978-1433679407


A hot, dusty wind buffeted Simon through the Mustang’s open top. He started to pull over and close up the car. But the convertible’s electric motor did not work, and he would have to fight the top by hand. When he had started off that morning, the predawn air had carried a frigid bite. Now his sweatshirt lay in the empty passenger seat, covering the remaining water bottle and his iPod.

The car’s radio worked, but one of the speakers was blown. The iPod’s headphones were hidden beneath the sweatshirt as well. Simon doubted the border authorities cared whether he listened to music on an in-ear system. But he didn’t want to give them any reason to make trouble.

He didn’t know what he had been expecting for a small-town border crossing, but it definitely was not this. An American flag flew over a fortified concrete building. The flag snapped and rippled as Simon pulled forward. In front of him were three trucks and a few vans. One car had Texas plates, one produce truck was from Oklahoma, and the other half-dozen vehicles were Mexican. That was it. The crossing was four lanes in each direction, and all but two were blocked off with yellow traffic cones. The border crossing looked ready to handle an armada. The empty lanes heightened the sense of desolation.

As he waited his turn, a harvest truck rumbled past, bringing sacks of vegetables to the United States. The driver shot Simon a gold-toothed grin through his open window. As though the two of them shared a secret. They were passing through the only hassle-free crossing between Mexico and the USA.

Or so Simon hoped.

To either side of the crossing grew the fence. Simon had heard about the border fence for years. But it was still a jarring sight. Narrow steel girders marched in brutal regularity out of sight in both directions. The pillars were thirty feet high, maybe more, and spaced so the wind whistled between them in a constant piercing whine, like a siren, urging Simon to turn back while he still could. Only he didn’t have a choice. Or he would not have made this journey in the first place.

Simon passed the U.S. checkpoint and drove across the bridge. Below flowed the silted gray waters of the Rio Grande.The Mexican border officer took in the dusty car and Simon’s disheveled appearance and directed him to pull over. Simon heaved a silent sigh and did as he was ordered.

The Mexican customs official was dressed in blue—navy trousers, shirt, hat. He circled Simon’s car slowly before saying,

“Your passport.” He examined it carefully. “What is the purpose of your visit to Mexico, señor?”

“I’m making a presentation to the Ojinaga city council.”

The officer glanced at Simon, then the car, and finally the black duffel bag that filled the rear seat.

“What kind of presentation?”

“My advisor at MIT retired down here last year. We’ve been working on a project together.” He plucked the letter from his shirt pocket and unfolded it along the well-creased lines.

The officer studied it. “Do you read Spanish, Dr . . . . ?”

He started to correct the man, then decided it didn’t matter. The officer had no need to know Simon had dropped out. “Dr. Vasquez, my professor, he translated it.”

“You have cut this very close, señor.” The officer checked his watch. “It says your appointment is in less than two hours.”

“I expected the trip from Boston to take two days. It’s taken four. My car broke down. Twice.”

The officer pointed to the duffel. “What is in the bag?” “Scientific instrumentation.” Simon reached back and unzipped the top.

The Mexican officer frowned over the complicated apparatus. “It looks like a bomb.”

“I know. Or a vacuum cleaner.” He swallowed against a dry throat. “I get that a lot.”

The officer handed back Simon’s passport and letter. “Welcome to Mexico, señor.”

Simon restarted the motor and drove away. He kept his hands tight on the wheel and his eyes on the empty road ahead. There was no need to be afraid. He was not carrying drugs. He was not breaking any law. This time. But the memory of other border crossings kept his heart rate amped to redline as he drove slowly past the snapping flags and the dark federales’ cars.

His attention was caught by a man leaning against a dusty SUV. The Mexican looked odd from every angle. He was not so much round as bulky, like an aging middleweight boxer. Despite the heat, he was dressed in a beige leather jacket that hung on him like a sweaty robe. The man had a fringe of unkempt dark hair and a scraggly beard. He leaned against the black Tahoe with the ease of someone out for a morning stroll. He caught Simon’s eye and grinned, then made a gun of his hand and shot Simon.

Welcome to Mexico.

A hundred meters beyond the border, the screen to his iPod map went blank, then a single word appeared: searching. Simon did not care. He could see his destination up ahead. The city of Ojinaga hovered in the yellow dust. He crossed Highway 10, the east-west artery that ran from the Atlantic to the Pacific. He drove past an industrial zone carved from the surrounding desert, then joined the city traffic.

Ojinaga grew up around him, a distinctly Mexican blend of poverty and high concrete walls. The city was pretty much as Vasquez had described. Simon’s former professor had dearly loved his hometown. Vasquez had spent his final two years at MIT yearning to return. The mountains he had hiked as a boy rose to Simon’s right, razor peaks that had never been softened by rain. Vasquez had bought a home where he could sit in his backyard and watch the sunset turn them into molten gold. But they looked very ominous to Simon. Like they barred his way forward. Hemming him in with careless brutality.

Between the border and downtown, Simon checked his phone six times. Just as Vasquez had often complained, there was no connection. Landline phone service wasn’t much bet- ter. Skype was impossible. Vasquez had maintained contact by e-mailing in the predawn hours. He had claimed to enjoy the isolation. Simon would have gone nuts.

The last time they had spoken had been almost two weeks earlier, when Vasquez declared he was on the verge of a break- through. After months of frustrating dead ends, Vasquez had finally managed to make their apparatus work. Since then, Simon had received a series of increasingly frantic e-mails, imploring him to come to Mexico to present the device to the city council.

What neither of them ever mentioned was the real reason why Vasquez had taken early retirement and returned to his hometown in the first place. Which was also the reason why Simon had made this trip at all. To apologize for the role he had played in the demise of Vasquez’s career. That was something that had to be done face-to-face.

Simon found a parking spot on the main plaza. Downtown Ojinaga was dominated by a massive central square, big as three football fields. Simon imagined it must have really been some- thing when it was first built. Now it held the same run-down air as the rest of the town. A huge Catholic church anchored the opposite side of the plaza. The trees and grass strips lining the square were parched and brown. Skinny dogs flitted about, snarling at one another. Drunks occupied the concrete benches. Old cars creaked and complained as they drove over topes, the speed bumps lining the roads. In a nearby shop-front window, two women made dough and fed it into a tortilla machine.

The city office building looked ready for demolition. Several windows were cracked. Blinds hung at haphazard angles, giving the facade a sleepy expression. A bored policeman slumped in the shaded entrance. Simon entered just as the church bells tolled the hour.

The guard ran his duffel back through the metal detector three times, while another officer pored over the letter from the city council. Finally they gestured him inside and pointed him down a long corridor.

The door to the council meeting hall was closed. Simon heard voices inside. He debated knocking, but Vasquez had still not arrived. Simon visited the restroom and changed into a clean shirt. He stuffed his dirty one down under the apparatus. He shaved and combed his hair. His eyes looked like they had become imprinted with GPS road maps, so he dug out his eye- drops. Then he took a moment and inspected his reflection.

Simon was tall enough that he had to stoop to fit his face in the mirror. His hair was brownish-blond and worn rakishly long, which went with his strong features and green eyes and pirate’s grin. Only he wasn’t smiling now. There was nothing he could do to repay Vasquez for what happened, except help him get the city’s funding so they could complete the project. Then Simon would flee this poverty-stricken town and try to rebuild his own shattered life.

He returned to the hall, settled onto a hard wooden bench, and pulled out his phone. For once, the phone registered a two- bar signal.

Simon dialed Vasquez and listened to the phone ring. The linoleum floor by his feet was pitted with age. The hallway smelled slightly of cheap disinfectant and a woman’s perfume. Sunlight spilled through tall windows at the end of the corridor, forming a backdrop of brilliance and impenetrable shadows.

When the professor’s voice mail answered, he said, “It’s Simon again. I’m here in the council building. Growing more desperate by the moment.” The door beside him opened, and Simon turned away from the voices that spilled out. “Professor Vasquez, I really hope you’re on your way, because—”

“Excuse me, señor. You are Simon Orwell, the professor’s great friend?”

Simon shut his phone and rose to his feet. “Is he here?”

The two men facing him could not have been more different. One was tall, not as tall as Simon, but he towered over most Mexicans. And handsome. And extremely well groomed. The other was the product of a hard life, stubby and tough as nails. The only thing they shared was a somber expression.

Even before the elegant man said the words, Simon knew.  “I am very sorry to have to tell you, Señor Simon. But Professor Vasquez is dead.” “No, that’s . . . What?”

“Allow me to introduce myself. Enrique Morales, I am the mayor of Ojinaga. And this is Pedro Marin, the assistant town manager and my trusted ally.”

“Vasquez is dead?”

“A heart attack. Very sudden.”

“He thought the world of you, Señor Simon.” Pedro spoke remarkably clear English.

The mayor was graceful even when expressing condolences. “Nos lamentanos mucho. We lament with you, Señor Simon, in this dark hour.”

For some reason, Simon found it easier to focus upon the smaller man. “You knew the professor?”

“He was a dear friend. My sister and I and Dr. Harold, per- haps you have heard of him? The professor was very close to us all.”

“You’re sure about Vasquez?”

“Such a tragedy.” The mayor was around his midthirties and had a politician’s desire to remain the center of attention. “You came all the way from Boston, is that not so? We are glad you made it safely. And we regret this news is here to greet you.”

“I . . . we’re scheduled to meet the city council.”

A look flashed between the two men. “I believe they have completed their other business, yes? Pedro will escort you. I must hurry to the city’s outskirts. We are dedicating a new water treatment facility. Long in coming. But so very needed. It is our attempt to aid the poorest citizens of our community. Like the professor’s bold project, no? So very noble.”

Enrique was clearly adept at filling uncomfortable vacuums. “Please join me for dinner tonight. Yes? Splendid. We will meet and we will talk and I will see what I can do to assist you through this dark hour. The restaurant by the church. Nine o’clock.”

Enrique turned and spoke a lightning-swift sentence to Pedro, whose nod of acceptance shaped a half bow. The mayor’s footsteps clipped rapidly down the hall. He tossed quick greetings to several people as he departed, clapped the senior guard on the shoulder, thanked the second guard who opened the door for him, and was gone.

Simon stared into the empty sunlight at the corridor’s end, wishing the floor would just open up and swallow him whole.

Then he realized Pedro was waiting for him. “This way, señor. The council will see you now.”

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Rockin' Chair by Steven Manchester, Amazon's Editor's Pick of the Month!

Since reviewing The Rockin' Chair at the beginning of the summer it has been one of my favorite books. Now I am very excited to announce that it has been selected for Amazon's Editor's Pick of the Month! 

For September only, click here to buy the Rockin' Chair by Steven Manchester in e-book for only $1.99!

Click here to read my review of The Rockin' Chair.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Death on Lindisfarne by Fay Sampson

Click here to buy on

This sequel to The Hunted Hare, and 2nd in the "Aidan mystery series" is full of surprises. I certainly wasn't expecting to be treated to the rich history of Holy Island (the red dot on the map, near the top) and of Northumbria.

While the mystery itself may have been a bit predictable, the richness of the landscape and the depth of the characters certainly was not. I found myself drawn into the medieval history, taught by the characters, of the ancient Christians on Lindisfarne. For anyone who enjoys a well-written, well-rounded story with education served on the side, this is the book for you!

Wounded Women of the Bible finding hope when life hurts, by Dena Dyer and Tina Samples

Click here to buy on
This book has a pretty cover. It's layout is lovely. The type is easy to read. The topic is unique and drawing. But the true beauty of this book isn't the way it looks or even what it's about. What makes this book one of a kind? The dirty, gritty, bare truth found within it's pages. The testimonies of pain, and perseverance. Of struggle and of serenity. Of desperation and definition. By telling the stories of women in the Bible and in their own lives, Dena Dyer and Tina Samples give hope to the hurting. By recounting how they overcame difficulty, they inspire others to draw close to God.

As a little treat to you all, the authors agreed to answer two simple questions:

How did you come to Christ; what was it that made you give your heart to Him?

Ms. Tina Samples 

"At the age of twelve or thirteen - we settled down in a small Florida town. My brother stopped to get gas and met a family who invited him to a little country church. That little church is where I came to know the Lord. One night the pastor was sharing about God and coming to Christ. At the closing of the service, he gave an invitation (something Baptist churches do) and invited others to come pray and ask God to be the center of their lives. My mother sat in the pew in front me. When the invitation was given, the music started, people sang, and my heart fluttered. The Holy Spirit was moving! I didn't quite understand everything but knew something was happening in my heart. I stepped out in the aisle, approached my mother, and whispered in her ear, "Do you think I should go up there momma?" God was pulling at my heart. She said, "If God is calling you to go forward, then you should go." 
 "I remember thinking in my mind that I would go back to my seat and explore this tugging a little further. However, when I stepped out into the aisle, something magical happened. I hope I explain it clear enough to get the picture. It felt as if someone grabbed hold of me and carried me up the aisle to the pastor. It felt as if I were floating on a cloud and placed at the base of the altar. One minute I was trying to walk back to my seat and the next thing I knew, I was at the foot of the altar calling on God.  I cried as I told the preacher I wanted God in my life and my heart. We both prayed, a few months later I was baptized, and haven't stopped loving or growing in the Lord from that moment on."

Ms. Dena Dyer:

"I came to Christ through the example of my parents, who led the music ministry at our little Baptist church in Dumas, Texas. They took me to church every Sunday and Wednesday, where I heard the gospel message. One Sunday while getting ready for church, they turned on a children's religious program, "Dusty's Treehouse," and I sat in front of the television, watching. The host explained the message of Jesus so clearly that I responded immediately and asked Jesus into my heart, to be my Lord and Savior. Later, I told my parents, and they rejoiced with me. We told our church family and they, too, shared in our joy. It was a sweet time, and I'm forever grateful that I came to faith in Jesus as a child. He's been so faithful to me through the years!"

What would you consider to be the greatest part of your relationship with Jesus?

Tina Samples:

The greatest part of my relationship with God is being able to develop a relationship. To communicate and come to love Him knowing he is never far away. The world we live in today is filled with amazing technology. We can face talk our son on his phone and Skype if we want. He always has his phone with him, we see what he posts on Facebook and what others say about him. I can watch videos of what he's doing. Life is so different for us today than when I was a little girl. It's sort of like that with God. He sees everything I do, he knows what's going on with me, he knows my heart and though I cannot see Him, I am never out of His sight. 

I can read about Him in His word and He speaks to me through that. He speaks to me through others I come into contact with. He speaks to me in the silence and I feel His Holy Spirit around me. I have an understanding that He walks with me, goes before me, and paints my path with His Word. I can talk to Him any time I want. The best part of my relationship with God is having one of the best friends I could ever have in my entire life - who knows more about me than anyone in the world. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Red Dawn Rising (Red Returning Series #2) By Sue Duffy

"Never judge a book by it's cover", the old maxim states. And yet that is exactly what I did when I assumed this would be another uninteresting piece of Christian fiction. But once you open the cover you are in for a treat from Sue Duffy in this second book in the Red Returning series. This is a book that intrigues you from the start doesn't let go. Action past and fast passed but with a good dose of heart, I present: Red Dawn Rising.
It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Kregel Publications (April 8, 2013)

***Special thanks to Sarah Krueger for sending me a review copy.***


Sue Duffy is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in Moody magazine, The Presbyterian Journal, Sunday Digest, and The Christian Reader. She is the author of Mortal Wounds (Barbour, 2001) and Fatal Loyalty (Kregel, 2010). Sue has also contributed to Stories for a Woman’s Heart (Multnomah). She and her husband, Mike, have three grown children.

Find out more at


Twenty-seven-year-old Cass Rodino is a hardworking, dedicated set designer on Broadway. But, like the actors who take the stage every night, she is masking a different reality. Her secrets lie deep within past wounds too severe to expose to anyone.

Evgeny Kozlov has secrets of his own. A former KGB assassin, he is trying to outrun the underground revolution he once served. Trying to right his wrongs, he's in a race against time and against a former colleague, Ivan, who has sinister plans to bring down the United States, including an assassination attempt on famed pianist Liesl Bower.
As Cass and Evgeny separately set out to save Liesl from an impending doom, both are hurled into a fierce CIA/FBI dragnet, not knowing that their formidable opponent—a most unlikely predator—is already closing in on them.
Book 2 of the Red Returning Trilogy, Red Dawn Rising mixes suspense, action, and romance in a tale of personal tragedy and triumph that will keep readers pivoting between the evil desires of world powers and the redeeming powers of personal faith, life, and love.

Product Details:
List Price: $
Series: Red Returning Trilogy (Book 2)
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications (April 12, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0825442664
ISBN-13: 978-0825442667


The Moscow night had frozen in place. But at three in the morning, a lone figure hurried along the back streets and alleys of a worn and grizzled neighborhood, leaving tracks in fresh yet impure snow. It was the safest hour for Evgeny Kozlov to surface from his warren. Once a warrior spy for Soviet intelligence, he had fallen to his own conscience and the conviction that everything he’d believed in was a lie. Now, the liars hunted him.

Where an alley emptied onto a main boulevard, Evgeny stopped and peered cautiously through the brittle light of a streetlamp. He would have to cross the street to reach the bookstore where, in a back room with shades drawn, the only person he could trust waited for him. He resisted the urge to sprint headlong to safety. Instead, he pulled the hood of his coat lower over his face and emerged slowly from the alley onto the sidewalk, nearly colliding with an old woman long past sobriety. Ragged and absent-eyed, she hardly looked his way as she shuffled around him, hunched and rattling in her breath. He watched after her a moment and wondered how many others like her might perish this forbidding night, within reach of the gilded Kremlin, home of the government charged with tending even the least of its people.

He veered into the street, ambling in the fashion of the old woman, his heavy boots slurring against the pavement, the backpack that never left his side slung over one shoulder. To anyone watching, his boozy charade would make no impression. They wouldn’t see the gun he gripped firmly inside his coat pocket.

When he reached the front of the bookstore, he was about to turn into the alley running toward the shop’s back door when a face stopped him. In the display window lit by the streetlamp was a rack of CDs. He knew better than to linger in the exposing light, but he couldn’t move. The face on one of those CD covers wouldn’t let him. She was a striking young woman in a shimmering green gown seated at a concert grand piano, her long amber hair cascading over one shoulder. The title read Liesl Bower Plays the Russian Masters.

He stared into the eyes that couldn’t see him. Eyes that had, on three occasions, flashed with terror for what he might do to her. Now, gazing at her fixed, radiant smile, Evgeny brooded. Liesl, forgive me. I did not know the ones I served then. But now I do.

He remembered his last words to her. He’d slipped into her dressing room at Avery Fisher Hall just moments before a performance and warned her about those he would serve no more. “Never stop watching them,”  he’d told her. Regrettably, though, he had.

After a quick scan of the street, he darted into the alley. At the back of the shop, he tapped lightly on the door and waited. When it opened, the spidery hand of Viktor Petrov reached to pull him inside. “Hurry! They are near!”

“They found me?”

“Yes. You cannot return to the apartment.”

Evgeny searched the older man’s face, the hollows beneath his fierce eyes, the sagging jowls that belied the ramrod strength that had sustained his double life. The old-guard member of the KGB secret police had transitioned easily into that agency’s post-Soviet successor, the Federal Security Service. Viktor Petrov had served the new Russian Federation with exemplary dedication—while secretly plotting with other revolutionaries to overthrow it.

But no longer. He and Evgeny had penetrated the heroic, all-for-the-people veneer of Vadim Fedorovsky’s anarchist movement to discover its corroded underside. Fedorovsky and his mounting legion of Kremlin and military recruits had so dazzled themselves with the promise of a powerful new Russian empire that they had cultivated a callous disregard for the everyday plight of their own people.

“But how?” Evgeny rasped as he slipped inside the store, his joints protesting the cold. “No one ever finds me.” He raked his fingers through his dark, thinning hair. His fifties had pressed hard against him, and he’d felt himself begin to wither.

“My friend, you are not as invisible as you once were,” Viktor said. “Somehow, you left a trail. And now you must flee. But first, there are things you must know.” He motioned for Evgeny to follow him to a small room in the back of the bookstore where they’d met several times before. Viktor had once saved the store’s owner from arrest and certain imprisonment for his part in a riotous demonstration against the sitting president. The owner had given Viktor a key and unrestricted access.

Without turning on a light, Viktor set a small flashlight on a shelf and aimed its beam toward the wall, allowing only a dim glow in which to see each other. “Sit,” Viktor instructed. “We do not have long.”

Evgeny pulled a straight-backed chair beneath him and waited. Viktor eyed him gravely. “It is far worse than we thought. I have just struck the richest vein of intelligence yet. Hear this. For all his authority, Fedorovsky is only a puppet and always has been, even before he went to prison.” When Evgeny’s brow arched, Viktor held up a hand to halt interruption. “Just listen. There is someone else who commands Fedorovsky and his coconspirator Pavel Andreyev. Someone who is the mastermind of it all. He is called the Architect by the few who know he even exists, a man removed from Russia but whose roots are deep in her intelligence network. He has immense wealth and power beyond our own president.”

Viktor paused long enough for Evgeny to respond, “Do you know this man?”


“Where is he?” Already, Evgeny’s mind calculated the inevitable mission of stopping him.

“It is believed he operates from the sea, headquartered on one vessel or another within his fleet. He could be anywhere in the world.”


“This is a man of uncommon means. He—” Viktor quickly raised a quieting hand and looked toward the open door to the room. “Listen,” he whispered.

Evgeny leaned far enough to peer through the doorway, but he saw and heard nothing. Then a beam of light pierced the front window and arced through the store. He jerked back out of sight and glanced at the flashlight above him. Dousing it would only signal that someone was in the room.

Already hidden, Viktor remained still, but Evgeny could hear him wheeze. When the light retreated and didn’t return, Evgeny leaned forward in his chair and whispered, “A policeman making rounds.” It was both a statement and a hope. Surely his skills hadn’t failed him so miserably that he’d led others of his own trade to this place and to his trusted compatriot.

A cautious interval passed before either spoke again. Then, “There is something else,” Viktor said, his shoulders sagging. “Your uncle and cousins.”

Evgeny stopped breathing. But he already knew, in the way that assassins such as he knew death and those who forced it on others.

“They are all dead,” Viktor announced bitterly.

“When?”  Evgeny struggled to ask.

“Last night, as they slept.”

Through the years, others had met the same fate at Evgeny’s own hand. How dare he mourn now. But how could he not? These innocent peasants had died for no other reason than their tenuous kinship with him. A solitary spy, Evgeny had long since severed the distant and fragile ties to family, to spare himself and them any harmful entanglements.

Fedorovsky had ordered their execution even from prison, Evgeny was certain. His late mother’s brother and his two sons, the last of his family, had scraped a bare living from the soil with no hope of improving their lot. Evgeny was certain they had never heard of Fedorovsky, never knew of the man’s raging quest to overtake their country. They wouldn’t have cared anyway. Their country could fail them no worse under his reign than at the hands of all the despots past.

“I am very sorry,” Viktor offered.

But Evgeny had already shifted from the hateful news to something within his control. Vengeance. “I must go,” he told Viktor as he rose from the chair.


“Someplace where Fedorovsky’s people will not look for me.” Evgeny hoisted his backpack to his shoulders. “His house.”

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Truth Seekers: The Machine by Billy Myers

Aedan says: 

Truth Seeks: The Machine by Bill Myers is the story of a group of scientist who are building a machine in an Israeli dessert that has the ability to replay scenes from the Bible and make them feel like they are happening in real life. After their mother's sudden death, twin brother and sister, Jake and Jennifer, leave their home in California to live with their father in the Israeli dessert. They learn soon after arriving that their father is the lead scientist on the team to create The Machine.

As the family adjusts to their new life, Jennifer is haunted by a mysterious demon who she dreams killed her mother and is upset whenever a new transportation device known as the dimensional folder is used. Gita is The Machine's inventor's assistant, daughter of an Arab priest who is trying to kill her because she became a Christian. She befriends Jennifer and teachers her how to use the power of God to overcome the demon.

A funny part of the book is in the beginning when Jennifer is having a nightmare. In her dream her brother, mother and she are in the car listening to country music. A truck comes and knocks them off a cliff and into a canyon with a river at the bottom. Just before they die the country music singer shows up and sings a sad song.

An Arab man and an Israeli man working on The Machine are accusing each other of being spies for the other team. Robbie, another inventor on the team building The Machine, breaks up the fight by telling them that he knew how to find out who the spy is. Robbie plan is to shrink Jake so he can see the skin cells of the spy left behind from the break in. The plan works and the culprit turns out to be Jessie, the son of the scientist leading the team competing with Jake and Jennifer's dad to build The Machine and a special friend of Jennifer's. Jake and Robbie chase down Jessie in a flying lawnmower like contraption but Jessie gets away when the Robbie's-wannabe-girlfriend's-chimpanzee messes up control panel and they crash.

I give this book four out of ten stars. I might read this book again and would read others in the series if more were written. I think Sam would especially like this book because of the cool inventions.

Nathaniel says:

I read Truth Seekers: The Machine by Bill Myers. It is a story about how Jennifer and Jake come to God and learn to use God's power when they go to Israel with their scientist father. I chose this book because Emma read it and recommended it to me. This story takes place in a dessert in Israel. The main characters are Jake and Jennifer. I would describe Jake as adventurous. Jennifer could be described as quiet. These characters are important because they teach us to use the power of God.

The story is about Jennifer and Jake and what happens when they go to Israel to live with their Father, a scientist who is building a machine that makes you think you are in Bible times. I would not recommend this book for little kids because they might think it is scary.

I like this book because of the adventure. One thing I learned from Truth Seekers: The Machine is how when we have the power of God we have nothing to fear. I give this Truth Seekers: The Machine 3 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Bread & Wind by Shauna Niequist

Book Description: As a follow up to her two bestselling books, Bittersweet and Cold Tangerines, author and blogger Shauna Niequist returns with the perfect read for those who love food and value the community and connection of family and friends around the table. Bread and Wine is a collection of essays about family relationships, friendships, and the meals that bring us together. This mix of Anne Lamott and Barefoot Contessa is a funny, honest, and vulnerable spiritual memoir. Bread and Wine is a celebration of food shared, reminding readers of the joy found in a life around the table. It’s about the ways God teaches and nourishes people as they nourish the people around them. It’s about hunger, both physical and otherwise, and the connections between the two. With wonderful recipes included, from Bacon-Wrapped Dates to Mango Chicken Curry to Blueberry Crisp, readers will be able to recreate the comforting and satisfying meals that come to life in Bread and Wine.

My Review: Wow. What a book! It my life long manifesto regarding food in written form! As soon as I saw the cover of this book I knew I would love it. I am Italian and our whole life revolves around the table. I knew that anyone who could write a whole book as a love letter to food must be a kindred spirit. And this book lived up to every expectation.

Eating is not the highlight of a meal. The table, chairs, centerpiece and food set the stage for what will happen around the table. Namely, life. The people around the table, the discussions that take place at the table, and the memories shared there are our life. They are the difference between eating and a meal. Eating is consuming fast food while running between point A and point B. A meal is when you take time to gather with the people you love around a meal, whether fast food or gourmet, and together share life.

And that is the philosophy Shauna Niequist presents in this book. And that philosophy is the reason it has made it's way to my favorite book list and I will be giving a copy of Bread and Wine to all my girlfriends for Christmas.

Disclaimer: I received a free e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.