Wednesday, July 24, 2013

"Reasons for Belief" Review

Trusted Theologian Presents a Case for Christian Faith in Easy-to-Understand Language
How can you know God exists? Why should you trust the Bible? How can you be sure Jesus is the Son of God?

Do you know what you believe...and why? Regardless of your age or experience, if you're looking for clear, easy-to-understand answers to these important questions, you've come to the right place.

Trusted theologian and bestselling author Norman Geisler teams up with teacher/speaker Patty Tunnicliffe to provide concrete, step-by-step reasons for why Christians believe what they do. Organized around the most basic questions of faith, Reasons for Belief offers clear evidence for the existence of God, the reliability of the Bible, Jesus' resurrection, and more.

Whether you're a curious skeptic or a believer wanting to learn how to defend your faith, Reasons for Belief will give you the answers you're looking for.

My Take:
I have been attending church all my life, and I have been a Christian since I was eight years old. But I really like to read books like this - those of the apologetics sort - in order to rehearse what I know about the Bible and what is true.
This book is set up in such a way that both Christians and non-Christians can benefit from it. The 10 questions (challenges to the truth) that this book addresses are:
  • Real truth does not exists - Truth is just truth to you.
  • God does not exist.
  • If God exists, He isn't necessarily the God of the Bible.
  • Miracles don't happen.
  • The New Testament's many errors make it unreliable. It's more like a collection of myths and legends.
  • Jesus never claimed to be God.
  • Jesus didn't prove to be God.
  • Jesus did not rise from the dead.
  • The Bible isn't the only true religious book.
  • Christianity is too narrow. There are many ways to God besides Jesus.
These questions or challenges are definitely ones that are brought up in our daily culture and in conversations. It is always a good thing for Christians to be able to defend their faith and back-up what they believe, and this book is a good place to start to be able to do that.
Each of these ten challenges are answered thoughtfully and thoroughly. It was neat to see how each one seemed to build and expand on the others. It was also interesting to see how the truths from the Bible about God and Jesus measured up to other religions and beliefs.

While this book does well at presenting arguments, I got tripped up on some of their facts. Not many, but a few. As an example, the book states that, "...every book of the NT was written by a baptized Jew." Ummm...I don't think Luke was Jewish, and he wrote two books of the NT.

In spite of this, Reasons for Belief is a good starting point in Christian apologetics.

Reasons for Belief
Norman L. Geisler & Patty Tunnicliffe
Bethany House Publishers
Publication date: February 15, 2013
240 pages

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers through Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


Thursday, July 18, 2013

"Rosemary Cottage" Blog Tour

Amy came to Rosemary Cottage to grieve, to heal, maybe even find love. But there's a deadly undertow of secrets around Hope Island . . .

The charming Rosemary Cottage on the beach offers Amy Lange respite she needs to mourn her brother, Ben. She's even thinking of moving her midwife practice to the Outer Banks community. It's always been a refuge for her and her family. She also wants to investigate Ben's disappearance at sea. Everyone blames a surfing accident, but Amy has reason to wonder.

Coast Guard officer Curtis Ireland has lost a sibling too. His sister, Gina, was run down by a boat, leaving him to raise her infant daughter. If anyone knew who little Raine's father was, Curtis could lose his beloved niece. Yet he can't help being drawn to Hope Beach's new midwife, Amy. He even agrees to help her investigate what happened to both Ben and Gina.

Can two grieving people with secrets find healing on beautiful Hope Island? Or will their quest for truth set them at odds with each other . . . and with those who will go to any length to keep hidden things hidden?

Purchase a copy:

Meet Colleen: Best-selling author Colleen Coble's novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, ACFW Book of the Year, RWA's RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers' Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has nearly 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers and is a member of Romance Writers of America. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana.

Learn more about Colleen:

My Take:

When I read a Colleen Coble novel, I am always ready for a good mystery and lots of action and adventure. In that sense, Rosemary Cottage did not disappoint. I like to be entertained when I read a novel, and it’s fun to try to figure out who the bad guys are and what their motivations are for doing what they do. In Rosemary Cottage, I was able to put enough of the pieces together so that the revelation at the end was not just completely out of left field. At the same time, the mystery wasn’t too easy to figure out. It was fun to be along for the ride with all of its twists and turns. The mystery and the action in this novel were excellent. At times my heart was racing – especially during the ‘child in peril’ portion of the plotline. I don't usually choose to read about children in danger, however, since it was a Colleen Coble novel, I had faith that everything would be okay in the end!

In the beginning of the novel, I wasn’t quite convinced of the attraction between Amy and Curtis. They just didn’t seem to have a lot in common at first, and their constant on-again/off-again relationship didn’t hold too much interest for me. As the story moved along, and as they were forced to work together to figure out what happened to their siblings, their relationship became much more understandable. As for the other characters, I’m just glad that I had read the first book in the series – Tidewater Inn – otherwise I would have been hopelessly lost trying to figure out all of those characters.

The overall spiritual aspect of this novel was done fairly well. I was not, however, expecting the book to be as preachy as it was. This time, though, the preachy parts were not centered on the gospel but on issues such as extreme healthy eating and at-home births. Every character in a novel is entitled to his or her opinion, of course, but I though these aspects of Amy’s character really detracted from the rest of the story.

But with a Colleen Coble novel, the mystery is the thing – and this one did deliver.

I will give Rosemary Cottage … 3 ½ Bookworms.

Rosemary Cottage
by Colleen Coble
Book #2 in the "Hope Beach" series
Thomas Nelson Publishers
Publication date: July 9, 2013


Water can be calming and healing, but it can also be dangerous, as Amy Lange and Curtis Ireland both found out. Both lost their siblings to the sea, and they hope to find healing on Hope Island. But will they find it, or will their quest to find answers set them at odds with each other and with those who have secrets that need to stay hidden?

Find out in Colleen Coble’s latest book, Rosemary Cottage, which released July 9. To celebrate, Colleen is hosting a 12-day Nautical Summer Giveaway. From July 16-27, Colleen will be giving away a new nautical prize every day. She’ll announce the winners on July 29 on her website, so mark your calendars for that date to see if you were picked as a lucky winner!

Not on Facebook? Enter here.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers through Litfuse Publicity. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

"Ripples Along the Shore" Review

Caroline Milburn lost her husband in the Civil War and has spent the last few months living with her sister in St. Charles, Missouri. Many people from the town are preparing for the wagon train that is to depart for the West in just a few short months. But Caroline feels caught in the middle. Should she stay and help her sister deal with a wounded husband who has grown bitter and angry or should she join the other travelers and get on with her life?

Garrett Cowlishaw is the wagon master for the train that is heading West out of Missouri. He takes his job very seriously, and it doesn’t help that he keeps getting distracted by the pretty young widow, Caroline Milburn. When Caroline shows interest in joining the wagon train, Garrett is torn. He desires to protect Caroline from the harshness of the trail by having her stay in St. Charles, but he can’t deny that he would love having this spirited redhead on the trip right by his side.

As the date for the departure of the wagon train grows ever nearer, Garrett and Caroline, along with the other travelers, prepare their minds and hearts for the trip – and for the parting that must take place with the ones left behind.

Ripples Along the Shore is the third novella in the Quilted Hearts series by Mona Hodgson that is leading up to the new full-length novel series, Hearts Seeking Home, the first of which is due out in August.

Since I had been introduced to the character of Caroline in the previous novellas in this series, I was interested to continue her story in this book. I was also interested in finding out more about Garrett and about the organization of the wagon train.

The romance between Caroline and Garrett in this story is sweet. I liked how the two of them thought about each other throughout the day even as they were trying to convince themselves that they didn’t need a romance at this point in their lives. I would have liked for the spiritual side of these two characters to have been more deeply explored. Caroline experiences a bit of growth as far as her faith is concerned, but it was somewhat abrupt.

There are tons of additional characters in this novella, and I especially enjoyed meeting Boney Hughes from the Cripple Creek series. If you have not read the first two novellas, though, it would probably be pretty hard to understand what’s going on. I think it will be nice to start the next series of novels with already having a clear understanding of all of the people who will be travelling on the wagon train.

That being said, I was a bit disappointed that things were not really wrapped up with all of the characters in this story. I realize that their stories will continue in the full-length series to come, but I was hoping that the main storyline of this novella would be wrapped up more than it was. In the first two novellas, the storylines with Maren and Rutherford and with Emilie and Quaid came to some semblance of a conclusion. In this one, some things were settled, but not quite enough for me to have a sense of completion. I am looking forward to the next series, though, so I guess these novellas did the trick!

I will give Ripples Along the Shore … 3 BookWorms.

Ripples Along the Shore
by Mona Hodgson
Novella #3 in the Quilted Hearts series
WaterBrook Press
Publication date: May 21, 2013

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from WaterBrook Press. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, July 5, 2013

"A Home at Trail's End" Review

Elizabeth Martin and her family, along with all of the new friends that were made on the Oregon Trail, have finally made it to their destination. But even though they made it through the toughest trip of their lives, their new lives in the “Promised Land” may not be as easy as they thought it would be.

For Elizabeth, the first hurdle to overcome is facing life in Oregon without Eli, the guide who Elizabeth fell in love with on the trail. Assuming that he has chosen trail life over her, Elizabeth resigns herself to providing for her children on her own as she had originally planned. However, with Eli’s unexpected return – and proposal – Elizabeth is overjoyed to start her life in Oregon with Eli by her side.

Even though things are going well for Elizabeth and her family, this rapidly developing town in Oregon Territory does not grow without its difficulties. The fire-and-brimstone preacher in the settlement has practically run everyone out of the church, and Indian troubles are always looming on the horizon. Will the settlers of this land ever be able to come together and work towards a common goal?

The final book in the “Homeward on the Oregon Trail” series by Melody Carlson follows the settlers as they stake their claims in the Oregon Territory and start their new lives there.

I enjoyed the first two books in this series – the second one probably better than the first – so I was interested to see what would happen as the folks from the wagon train settled into their new lives in Oregon. There are so many characters that were introduced throughout the course of the first two novels that it was sometimes difficult to keep everyone perfectly straight. I was very glad that there was a “cast of characters” page in the beginning of the book. As I said in my review of A Dream for Tomorrow, I think all series books should do this!

Once again, this story is told only from Elizabeth’s point of view. While this allows the reader to become invested in Elizabeth’s character, I sometimes found it to be slightly monotonous. I don’t think I really felt this way during the first two books, perhaps because this one-sidedness seemed to fit with the monotony of a life on the Oregon Trail. In this novel, since they were no longer on the trail, the one point of view did not give as broad of a view of things as I was expecting.

The small conflicts that come up in this novel – for example, Elizabeth and her friend Malinda dealing with some jealously and bickering – were really good examples of how to resolve conflict as a Christian. Although Elizabeth usually seemed to be on the side of “right” in these conflicts, it wasn’t always the case, and it helped to keep Elizabeth from seeming to be too perfect.

The bigger circumstances that arose, however, did make Elizabeth and her family seem too good to be true. I loved the fact that they wanted to treat African-Americans and Native Americans with respect and that they wanted to help with the church and with their new neighbors. But after a while it just seemed as if Elizabeth and her husband, Eli, and her dad, Asa, were just always going around fixing everyone else’s problems for them. It made them seem too perfect compared to everyone else around them, which was somewhat annoying.

Overall, however, I enjoyed seeing how everything came together for these people and this town after their long and grueling journey. I appreciated Elizabeth’s excitement as she moved into her new home in Oregon Territory that would very soon become a state. I would have liked for the spiritual aspect to dig a little deeper into the gospel as it did during the second book, but at least the themes of mercy and respect for all people came through clearly. Most everything wraps up nicely at the conclusion of the story, but I would not be surprised if this town and its inhabitants are revisited in a future series.
I will give A Home at Trail’s End … 3 ½ BookWorms.

A Home at Trail's End
by Melody Carlson
Book #3 in the "Homeward on the Oregon Trail" series
Harvest House Publishers
Publication Date: July 1, 2013

Previously in this series: Westward Hearts & A Dream for Tomorrow

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Harvest House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."