Book Review: Darkness Rising

13 Oct

51CeSyzf2+L._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_The evil in East Salem is no longer content to hide in the shadows. The stakes ― and the darkness ― are rising.

Dani Harris thought there wasn’t much left that could surprise her after serving as a forensic psychiatrist in East Salem. And Tommy Gunderson has faced few challenges in his life that he couldn’t overcome by either physical strength or his celebrity status.

But as they race to uncover what’s really happening behind the high walls of St. Adrian’s Academy, it becomes clear that supernatural forces have been at work here for generations. And now their focus is on making sure Dani and Tommy don’t interfere.

When the unseen becomes seen, faith is the only weapon strong enough to fight in a battle involving not just murder and betrayal ― but angels and demons.


logoLis Wiehl is one of the nation’s most prominent trial lawyers and highly regarded commentators. Currently, she is the legal analyst and reporter on the Fox News Channel and Bill O’Reilly’s sparring partner in the weekly “Is It Legal?” segment on The O’Reilly Factor. Prior to that she was O’Reilly’s co-host on the nationally syndicated show The Radio Factor. She is also a Professor of Law at New York Law School. Her column “Lis on Law” appears weekly on

Prior to joining Fox News Channel in New York City, Wiehl served as a legal analyst and reporter for NBC News and NPR’s All Things Considered. Before that, Wiehl served as a Federal Prosecutor in the United States Attorney’s office.

Wiehl earned her Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School and her Master of Arts in Literature from the University of Queensland.

Wiehl is also the author of The 51% Minority, which won the 2008 award for Books for a Better Life in the motivational category, and Winning Every Time.

She lives with her husband and two children in New York.

fea4e03ae7a06dbcacda3210-l-_v192614257_sx200_Pete Nelson lives with his wife and son in Westchester, New York. He got his MFA from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 1979 and has written both fiction and non-fiction for magazines, including HarpersEsquire, MS, Outside, The Iowa Review, National Wildlife, Glamour, Redbook. He was a columnist for Mademoiselle and a staff writer for LIVE Magazine, covering various live events including horse pulls, music festivals, dog shows, accordion camps and arm wrestling championships. Recently he was a contributing editor and feature writer for Wondertime, a Disney parenting magazine.


My Impressions:

Darkness Rising is book 2 in Lis Wiehl and Pete Nelson’s East Salem series. The action begins where Waking Hours left off (my review HERE). Filled with demons, this supernatural thriller definitely registers high on the creepy meter. If you like scary this one is for you. If not, I’d give it a pass.

Dani Harris, a forensic psychiatrist, and Tommy Gunderson, ex-football player turned PI, continue to investigate the bizarre murder that has rocked the quaint town of East Salem, New York. Evidence mounts up implicating the local academy that prides itself on teaching future leaders. As Dani and Tommy get closer to the truth, the action ramps up, including demonic activity that is determined not to be stopped.

Darkness Rising features new and returning characters. The bad guys are not well-developed, but Wiehl and Nelson make sure the good guys’ emotions, motivations and background are explored. The emphasis of the novel is the struggle of good and evil and uses an interesting framework to portray the ancient battle. Demons, as well as angels, play a major role, and the book does not shy away from the violence of the battle. The theme of Christ’s redemptive work is portrayed along with God’s plan and purposes in His people’s lives. Even as the demons work to separate Dani and Tommy, God turns those efforts to work out His plan.  I did have one problem though. A character who is a believer becomes demon-possessed. This is contrary to my understanding of scripture. I believe in demonic attack and oppression, but never possession in a believer. 1 John 4:4 states — But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world (NLT). *For this reason I would not recommend this book to non-believers.

Darkness Rising ends with a battle won, but the war is definitely not over. The characters are united and committed to uncover truth and expose evil, but it will be a daunting task. I look forward to the conclusion of this series.

*Recommended. (Please see note above.)

Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to Thomas Nelson for a copy of this book. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Book Review: An Endless Christmas

12 Oct

51Rtgzl1IxL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_On the way to Christmas with his family, Micah asks Katie to marry him. She says no, but there is no getting out of Christmas now. The Binder family celebrates every Christmas as if it were their last. Too many people, too much snow, and too little room should be a recipe for disaster. But sometimes too much is just enough. Especially when it’s Christmas.




311xQ3MySQL._UX250_Taking multi-tasking to new heights (or depths, depending on your perspective), Cynthia Ruchti is the award-winning author of recent releases All My Belongings (novel), When the Morning Glory Blooms (novel), and Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People’s Choices (nonfiction). She makes potato corn chowder for her husband of 42 years, loves on her three kids and five grandchildren, recently retired from 33 years of writing and producing a daily radio broadcast called THE HEARTBEAT OF THE HOME, is past president of the 2,700-member American Christian Fiction Writers and now serves as ACFW’s Professional Relations Liaison, all while working on more book projects in addition to the eight already on the shelves. Ruchti tells stories of Hope-that-glows-in-the-dark through writing and speaking, but she gave up knitting, counted cross-stitch, sewing her own clothes, naps, and dusting baseboards a long time ago. You can find her at, at, or in the kitchen, brewing herself another cup of tea.

My Impressions:

Some people like to watch Hallmark Channel movies or listen to Christmas music to kickstart their Christmas spirit. I like to read Christmas-themed novellas. Cynthia Ruchti’s heartwarming book, An Endless Christmas, is perfect to get you into the holiday mood. The Binder family with their traditions, non-traditions and bottomless Christmas cheer and the oh-so-perfect rural setting is the way Christmas should be done. And this book is a great reminder of what Christmas means.

Katie Vale has long ago given up on family Christmases and on family in general. Angry words and indifference have colored her memories. And bad relationships seem to be a genetic foregone conclusion. But boyfriend Micah Binder’s family gathering is unavoidable this year. The perfect family seems to do Christmas perfectly as well. Within the chaos and confusion, a sense of belonging emerges, and Katie is drawn to a future of hope and love.

imagesThe Binder family seems a bit too good to be true, and that’s the charm of An Endless Christmas. The love and faith the family shares comes from intentional acts and hard lessons. How many of us, including long-time Christians, have wounds that continue to reopen, especially during the holidays. Main character, Katie, has a hard time of letting go of past hurts and letting the love of God make things new. Katie feels she can’t measure up, something we all may feel when looking in and out, instead of up. Towards the end of the book, Katie finds that perfect isn’t really what she thought:

The perfection she’d thought exquisite but unattainable wasn’t perfection at all. It was a family that dug in their heels and determined to love, to survive, to repair the damaged fabric of their legacy, with God’s help. (pp. 191-192)

Another plus of An Endless Christmas is the setting — Stillwater, Minnesota. I stopped reading to google this picturesque town north of the Twin Cities. If I ever visit Minnesota, I am going to make sure Stillwater is on the itinerary. Thanks Cynthia for bringing it to my attention!

An Endless Christmas is fun and funny and filled with poignant moments that remind the reader of the sacrifice of Christ. So grab a cup of tea, coffee or cocoa and settle into a great Christmas read!


Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to Worthy Publishing for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Book Review: Love’s A Stage

9 Oct

Unknown-2Grad student and future marriage counselor Aly Brewster had a perfect childhood with perfect parents. Now she’s heading into her own perfect life: Finish her Master’s. Build a successful practice. Husband at twenty-six. But when her parents blindside her with the news they’re getting divorced, her perfect world shatters.

Actor Nick Armstrong has been in love with Aly since they met during freshman year. He’s happy to accept his assigned place in her Friend Zone because it lets him be close to her. But it’s been over five years — time to move on. Then the usually-unflappable Aly comes to him begging for help to save her parents’ marriage. Nick has the perfect plan: fake an engagement to each other to inspire her parents to fight to save their marriage. And who knows? It might trigger Aly’s feelings for him. But when Aly takes the ruse to the next level — planning a wedding in her parents’ backyard and hiring additional actors to play his family — enough is enough!

As the lines between acting and reality grow decidedly blurred, these two improvised fiancés must decide: are they going to finish the play . . . or exit stage right. Alone.


Rene-Gutteridge-low-res-2Rene Gutteridge is the author of over 25 books and has been writing professionally for almost two decades. Her writing ranges from comedy to suspense and from freelance writing to novels to screenplays. Her first feature film, SKID, is due out next year. Her latest two fiction projects are collaborations with screenwriter Cheryl McKay and are romantic comedies.

Cheryl-McKay-lower-resCheryl McKay began writing stories and plays at five years old based on pictures on her lunchboxes. She’s been writing since. Both a screenwriter and author of non-fiction and fiction books, her most notable film to date is The Ultimate Gift (James Garner, Abigail Breslin). Cheryl’s favorite genres are family dramas and romantic comedies. One of Cheryl’s favorite writing alliances is with Rene Gutteridge. The two partner on novelizations of Cheryl’s screenplays. (Never the Bride for Random House, Greetings from the Flipside for B&H.) Cheryl and her husband live in Los Angeles. She’s avid scrapbooker, day-tripper, and chocolate addict.


My Impressions:

Love’s A Stage is a light, romantic comedy with a bit of slapstick thrown in from the writing duo of Rene Gutteridge and Cheryl McKay. The setting is Massachusetts in the fall, complete with a Pilgrim-themed wedding (yes, that’s right, a Pilgrim wedding) and will get your Autumn romance reading off to a good start. The characters are likable — Aly is idealistic, Nick is devoted and the assortment of secondary characters range from loyal to clueless. But it is the underlying message that a marriage takes real work that resonated with this reader. As Aly and Nick planned their fake wedding to reunite Aly’s parents, it is apparent that for a real marriage to work, a couple needs to keep their eyes on the husband/wife relationship. A happily-ever-after follows near disaster that will have you chuckling. A quick read, Love’s A Stage is fun reading.

Recommended for fans of light romantic comedy.

Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to Redbud Press for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Tales from The TBR Pile: June Bug

8 Oct

This month I am featuring a book by one of my favorite authors, Chris Fabry. But alas, his book June Bug has been on my shelf a long time. Now I hear that it has been made into a Lifetime movie, titled Child of Grace! So have you read it? Let me know why I should move it up to the top of the TBR stack.


513RSiucgeL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_“I believed everything my daddy told me until I walked into Wal-Mart and saw my picture on a little poster . . .”

For as long as she can remember, June Bug and her father have traveled the back roads of the country in their beat-up RV, spending many nights parked at Wal-Mart. One morning, as she walks past the greeter at the front of the store, her eyes are drawn to the pictures of missing children, where she is shocked to see herself. This discovery begins a quest for the truth about her father, the mother he rarely speaks about, and ultimately herself. But when her father’s past catches up with them, forces beyond his control draw them back to Dogwood, West Virginia, down a winding path that will change their lives forever.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

81sThp08+eL._UX250_Chris Fabry is an award-winning author and radio personality who hosts the daily program Chris Fabry Live! on Moody Radio. He is also heard on Love Worth Finding, Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, and other radio programs. A 1982 graduate of the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism at Marshall University and a native of West Virginia, Chris and his wife, Andrea, now live in Arizona and are the parents of nine children.

Chris’ novels, which include Dogwood, June Bug, Almost Heaven, Not in the Heart, Borders of the Heart, and Every Waking Moment, have won three Christy Awards and an ECPA Christian Book Award, but it’s his lyrical prose and tales of redemption that keep readers returning for more.

He has also published more than 65 other books, including nonfiction and novels for children and young adults. He coauthored the Left Behind: The Kids series with Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, as well as the Red Rock Mysteries and The Wormling series with Jerry B. Jenkins. RPM is his latest series for kids and explores the exciting world of NASCAR.

Children’s Corner: The Good Samaritan

7 Oct

UnknownEver wonder why they called him the “Good” Samaritan? Find out why in this level 2 I Can Read, written in the tradition of the popular Adventure Bible.

Jewish people and the Samaritans were enemies … they would never have considered helping one another. So what happens when a Jew is robbed, and left on the side of the road to die? Who stops to help? Read as Jesus tells a remarkable story about a man who serves his neighbor as God would want. Perfect for beginning readers ages 4-8, learning Bible stories on their own.


Born and raised in Michigan, David Miles spent his childhood sloshing through creek beds, climbing trees, and creating numerous baked goods. That spirit of adventure and curiosity often finds its way into his illustrations through quirky characters and hidden surprises. After spending a decade in Philadelphia and New York pursuing his artistic dreams, David has moved back to the familiar surroundings of Michigan. Now, when he’s not drawing and painting he still enjoys a good romp through the woods.

My Impressions:

For early readers, the I Can Read! series is always a good choice. The latest in this series, The Good Samaritan, takes its story and illustrations from The Adventure Bible. Geared towards developing readers, this book combines challenging sentences and vocabulary and gets kids reading Bible stories for themselves. What a great accomplishment! I really like this series and wish it had been around when my kids were learning to read.


Audience: grades K-2.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to Zonderkidz for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Audiobook Review: Double Cross

6 Oct

51496RmgNIL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_FBI Agent Laurel Evertson’s investigation into a scam targeting the elderly takes an unexpected twist when key evidence leads her to Morton Wilmington, a felon she arrested five years ago on her first undercover assignment. That case has haunted her since, and though she’s vowed to forget Wilmington―and what she sacrificed to put him away―he is now her best lead.

Houston Police Officer Daniel Hilton fears his grandparents may be the scammer’s next targets, and he’ll do anything to protect his family―even force interagency cooperation. But he’s quickly drawn to Laurel’s empathy and zeal and agrees to follow her lead . . . even if it means teaming up with a felon.

As the unlikely trio uncovers evidence suggesting the scam is more extensive and deadly than they imagined, both Laurel and Daniel find themselves in the crosshairs of a killer. Together they must decide if they can trust Wilmington’s claims of redemption, or if he’s leading them straight into a double cross.

d-mills-about-picDiAnn Mills is a best-selling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She currently has more than fifty-five books published.

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists and have won placements through the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Carol Awards and Inspirational Reader’s Choice awards. DiAnn won the Christy Award in 2010 and 2011.

DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, Romance Writers of America, and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn is also the Craftsman mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild and is the 2014 president of RWA’s Faith, Hope, & Love chapter.

She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.


My Impressions:

Double Cross, the second book in DiAnn Mills’ FBI: Houston series, is a standalone novel that combines fast-paced action, characters with great chemistry and a great message of grace. I listened to the audiobook and could not quit listening! The mystery kept me guessing while I grew attached to the characters. This book is a winner I can recommend.

Laurel Evertson was done with God when her parents were killed. Now an FBI agent she is determined to seek justice for the most vulnerable of society. When Morton Williamson, a man she helped put in jail, professes to have found God, she is more than skeptical, but the two are brought back together to uncover those involved in a scheme to rob Alzheimer’s patients. Daniel Hilton has a similar background to Laurel, but loving grandparents made a big difference in the course of his life. This Houston police officer joins the case when it becomes personal. The danger ramps up and its unclear just who can be trusted.

If you like an action-packed suspense novel, Double Cross is a good choice. There’s danger around every corner and the good guys are targets to be eliminated. But as good as the plot is, the characters were what kept me turning the pages. Laurel and Daniel have great chemistry as partners and as a couple. They have baggage to be sure, but their attraction is undeniable. Then there is Morton Williamson — a complex character that keeps you on your toes. I continually questioned if his conversion is the real deal or if he is the consummate con man. No spoilers here; you’ll have to decide for yourself! Daniel’s grandparents are also wonderful characters displaying love, grace and commitment. The novel also made me look at my own judgments concerning whether people really do change.

Another hit from DiAnn Mills, Double Cross is highly recommended for fans of romantic suspense. The plot, characterization and subject matter are complex enough for a great book club discussion as well. The audio production is well-done, so be prepared for a great listen.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

Good for book clubs.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(I purchased this audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Book Review: The Methuselah Project

5 Oct

51JpnMaMUvL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_In World War II, German scientists began many experiments. One never ended.

Roger Greene is a war hero. Raised in an orphanage, the only birthright he knows is the feeling that he was born to fly. Flying against the Axis Powers in World War II is everything he always dreamed―until the day he’s shot down and lands in the hands of the enemy.

When Allied bombs destroy both his prison and the mad genius experimenting on POWs, Roger survives. Within hours, his wounds miraculously heal, thanks to those experiments. The Methuselah Project is a success―but this ace is still not free. Seventy years later, Roger hasn’t aged a day, but he has nearly gone insane. This isn’t Captain America―just a lousy existence only made passable by a newfound faith. The Bible provides the only reliable anchor for Roger’s sanity and his soul. When he finally escapes, there’s no angelic promise or personal prophecy of deliverance, just confusion. It’s 2015―and the world has become an unrecognizable place.

Katherine Mueller ― crack shot, genius, and real Southern Belle ― offers to help him find his way home. Can he convince her of the truth of his crazy story? Can he continue to trust her when he finds out she works for the very organization he’s trying to flee?

Thrown right into pulse-pounding action from the first page, readers will find themselves transported back in time to a believable, full-colored past, and then catapulted into the present once more. The historical back-and-forth adds a constantly moving element of suspense to keep readers on the edge of their seats.

5168721Rick Barry is the author of Gunner’s Run, another World War II novel, Kiriath’s Quest, and over 200 articles and fiction stories. In addition to being a World War II buff, he is the director of church planting ministries at BIEM, a Christian ministry operating in Eastern Europe. He holds a degree in foreign languages, speaks Russian, and has visited Europe more than fifty times. Rick and his wife Pam live in Indianapolis, Indiana. Visit him at, or on Twitter (@WriterRickBarry).


My Impressions:

The Methuselah Project by Rick Barry starts off with a great premise — what could happen if an American pilot is captured by Germans during WWII and experimented on by their mad scientists, and the end of the war does not signal the end of their experiment? The result of Barry’s what if is a novel that includes suspense, history and romance. It is a very light and quick read with an ending to please romantics.

Barry’s premise is intriguing. Could a shadowy, international group really pull off clandestine experiments without the world finding out? And could their quest for a New Order survive modern detection? For those who love conspiracies, The Methuselah Project fits the bill. And for those who like romance and history, the book includes those elements. However, it fell a bit flat for me. A great framework was there, it just didn’t seem fleshed out enough. I wanted to know more about the Heritage Organization. I also felt the characters were a bit 2-dimensional. There is a message of the power of prayer in the book and that is good. About 2/3 of the way through the action heats up and that did keep me turning the pages.

Well, as you can see, I found The Methuselah Project to just be an ok read. I didn’t hate it, but I closed the covers thinking it could have been better. I am definitely in the minority with my opinion — it has great reviews on Goodreads. So be sure to check out what others are saying there.

To purchase this book, click HERE

(Thanks to LitFuse and Kregel for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)


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