Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Love And Respect Experience

A Husband-Friendly Devotional that Wives Truly Love
By: Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

I did something before getting this book that I try to never do until after I have finished reading it: I read a review. Even worse, I read a negative review. I read this particular review for a couple of reasons, not the least of which was sheer curiosity. You see, I have read Dr. Eggerichs book Love And Respect, and it was truly wonderful. In my mind, I couldn't see anyone disliking the knowledge gleaned from his books. After reading a paragraph of that review, I realized that the reviewer didn't understand the material presented, nor would he ever appreciate the changes that the principles behind Love And Respect can bring. I knew then that I needed to read this book.

I was not disappointed in the least. The Love And Respect Experience is a devotional book for couples. It has 52 chapters - so it's not a daily devotional - and each chapter is a nice review of the principles that Dr. Eggerichs has previously laid out in the Love And Respect book, however, you don't have to have already read Love And Respect to get the concept (although it certainly helps).

This book is billed as a "husband-friendly devotional", and that much is almost true. There are a lot of discussion questions that are written more to engage the wives than get the husbands talking. Each question at the end of the chapter is more like question sets than simple queries. I found myself breaking each question set down and tackling the questions within each point one at a time. It is infinitely more husband friendly than most marriage devotionals, but it has some room to grow.

The actual book itself is beautifully made, with a striking leather cover that makes me want to read it. The chapters are easy to follow, and the action items are simple and direct.

This is a fantastic workbook to go along with the book Love and Respect, but even if you don't have the original book, this is still a phenomenal read. I highly recommend this book to everyone!

I received this book for free as a part of the Booksneeze book blogger program. I was not required to write a favorable review.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Tehran Initiative

Joel C. Rosenberg
Tyndale Publishing

The world is on the brink of disaster. Iran has just conducted its first atomic weapons test. Millions of Muslims around the world are convinced their messiah — known as the Twelfth Imam — has arrived on earth. Israeli leaders fear Tehran, under the Twelfth Imam’s spell, will soon launch a nuclear attack that could bring about a second Holocaust and the annihilation of Israel. The White House fears Jerusalem will strike first, launching a massive preemptive attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities that could cause the entire Middle East to go up in flames, oil prices to skyrocket, and the global economy to collapse. With the stakes high and few viable options left, the president of the United States orders CIA operative David Shirazi and his team to track down and sabotage Iran’s nuclear warheads before Iran or Israel can launch a devastating first strike. But will they be too late?

The Tehran Initiative is the continuing saga of David Shirazi as an agent of the CIA, and it follows his deep incursions into Iran as he seeks out the locations of 8 Iranian nuclear warheads.  The world is literally on the verge of self-destruction that will be brought on by either Iran or Israel -- the question is who will launch a first strike.  David needs to keep his head clear and in the game despite dealing with the impending loss of his mother, and the resurgence of feelings for a long lost love.  Added into the mix is the reality of Christ and who He is, and The Tehran Initiative becomes a non-stop story of action, intrigue, hope, and faith that keeps you turning the pages quickly in order to keep up.

The book itself is, of course, incredibly well written.  Rosenberg does an exquisite job of making the story realistic, while not allowing his readers to get lost in the terminology.  Because of the subject matter, it's easy to get lost in a series of acronyms and not fully understand the scene.  Personally, I found myself interjecting the acronyms when I knew what they were, and learning new ones as they came my way.
The characters are well developed and, even if you haven't read The Twelfth Imam, their motivations are easily understood.  Because The Tehran Initiative is a sequel, there is the danger of being forced to re-develop your characters for new readers who are unfamiliar with the previous story, but Rosenberg makes sure that all the relevant information is reviewed in such a way that you are thankful for the quick re-cap - even if you've read the previous book.

It has been said of Rosenberg's work that he writes tomorrows headlines, and I have to say that this is absolutely true!  I remember reading a scene in The Tehran Initiative that described the President exiting Air Force One with a contingent of national leaders from Israel and Egypt, and the next day I was watching video of the President and a number of other people in suits (aside from the Secret Service) as they exited Air Force One.  It was freaky, but not as freaky as reading Rosenberg's story line of several Iranian battleships heading through the Suez Canal with two of them carrying nuclear weapons, and then reading about actual Iranian battleships travelling through the Suez Canal that very same day.  Indeed, Rosenberg writes tomorrow's headlines.

All in all, if you like a great story, filled with suspense, action, and unlikely twists that have the ability to blow your mind, The Tehran Initiative is the book for you.  You don't have to read The Twelfth Imam to understand what is happening in The Tehran Initiative, but I highly suggest reading them both.  Each one of them is a roller coaster ride all it's own.

FTC Disclosure: I received The Tehran Initiative for free as part of the Tyndale Publisher book blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Daddy Dates

Greg Wright
Thomas Nelsen Publishing

By age thirty, Greg was the overwhelmed father of four beautiful little girls, with one thought running through his mind over and over again: Don't Screw Up!
Whether married or single, Daddy Dates can help you better connect with virtually all of the females in your life. Using Greg's communication cues, you'll be blown away by what you'll learn about your child, and how you can make a powerful, lasting difference - especially during her rocky teenage years.
Daddy Dates is about one thing - Becoming her hero, one date at a time.

Fatherhood is something that can be terrifying. The realization that you are responsible for another life carries with it an inherent command: Don't screw up! The reality of fatherhood of daughters can be even more frightening. After all, we know what it's like to be a little boy, so we have some sort of idea of how to raise a boy. Girls have always been a mystery to us, and they always will be, so the idea of raising a child that we know nothing about is scary. Greg sums up our worst fears in the second paragraph of the Prologue: Whatever you do, don't screw this up, dude.

The book itself is very well written and flows effortlessly from one idea to the other. The chapters are clear, concise, and short - the entire book is 214 pages including the acknowledgement - yet the author dives deep into a topic that demands our attention. His wit and wisdom create a fitting backdrop to present a sort of how-to that isn't really a how-to book. This book takes you on the journey of a lifetime as you follow a dad who has stumbled upon an incredible method of parenting for girls: dating.

Studies have shown that girls who have fathers who play an integral role in their lives grow up to be more balanced, confident, and take charge. Teen pregnancy, poverty, and poor education have all been linked to absent fathers. Men, it's time to step up and be the men that we need to be to our women, including our daughters. It's not good enough to provide the food, clothing, and roof over their head. The government can do that. We need to be better than that. If we don't take the steps necessary to become the best father we can be, we are shortchanging our daughter, their children, and untold generations to come.

I highly encourage all men, everywhere to read this book. Wives, mothers, girlfriends - you want your man to read this book. Trust me. You owe it to your daughters.

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

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Hell, Rob Bell, and What Happens When People Die?

Dr. Bobby Conway
Multnomah Books

Love Wins, the controversial bestselling book by Rob Bell, attempted to answer this question, which troubles nonbelievers and believers alike.  Because Bell challenged traditional, orthodox Christian views of hell and the afterlife, many were left asking:  “Are his ideas as reliable and hopeful as they sound? What does the Bible really say about hell?”
In Hell, Rob Bell, and What Happens When People Die, Dr. Bobby Conway brings clarity to these serious life and death issues.  “Love really does win,” according to Conway, “but it’s through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.”  
Based on a thorough examination of Scripture and a careful analysis of Rob Bell’s propositions, Conway delivers a compelling and concise explanation of hell, the afterlife, and a loving God.  The conclusion:  Everyone who believes and trusts in Christ has no need to fear the anguish of hell but can confidently anticipate the eternal joy of heaven.

Hell is a topic that not too many people like to touch these days.  Any why would they?  The thought of a loving God who created a place of eternal punishment isn't exactly an easy sell - but regardless of it's popularity, the subject of Hell needs to be broached.
Mega-church pastor Rob Bell finally spoke up on his ideas about hell in the 2011 book "Love Wins".  In this book, Bell approached the topic of Hell in, what was billed as, a 'fresh, alternative fashion'.  What it really was has become the object of heated debate among apologists and Universalists alike: universal salvation, regardless of heart condition.
To be fair, it is a very seductive story: all will eventually have their heart melted and come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, but it's not supported by scripture, as Bell claims.  This book by Dr. Conway exposes the truth of 'Love Wins' and Bell's errant theology.

As a book itself, it is very well written.  Conway dives deep into a confusing topic and surfaces with clarity of speech and presents evidence that contradicts Bell's offering with startling accuracy.  Conway moves very quickly, yet thoroughly through the chapters of 'Who deserves hell', 'Hell's architect', and 'Why "good people" go to hell' - all without losing the main train of thought.  His careful notes and links to external sources are a God-send (pun intended) for anyone who finds themselves in the unfortunate position of defending the Biblical portrayal of hell. His internet resources only add to his credibility and reputation as a respected apologist.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who desires to know the truth about hell and it's future inhabitants.  If Rob Bell has muddied the issue for you, get this book!

I received this book for free as part of Mulnomah's blogging for books program. I was not required to write a positive or negative review. All opinions of the book are mine.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Priest's Graveyard

Ted DekKer
Center Street

Danny Hansen came to America with hopes of escaping haunted memories of a tragic war that took his mother's life.  Now he's a priest, incensed by the powerful among us who manipulate the law for their own gain, uncaring of the shattered lives they leave behind.  It is his duty to show them the error of their ways, even if he must put them in the grave.
Renee Gilmore is the frail and helpless victim of one such powerful man. Having escaped his clutches, she now lives only to satisfy justice by destroying him, regardless of whom she must become in that pursuit.
But when Danny and Renee's paths become inexorably entangled things go very, very badly and neither of them may make it out of this hunt alive.

If you read through this blog, you will see that I am a fan of Ted DekKer.  In fact, his work is the reason I even started this blog in the first place. His books have pulled me in and set me into a place of truly loving the written word.  Because of that, I get excited when I see a new book from DekKer. The Priest's Graveyard is no exception.  DekKer has such a masterful way of drawing the reader into the story that you literally become the character, and experience what they feel.  The one thing that will never cease to amaze me is DekKer's uncanny ability to create a twist that is unforeseen.  After having read 20 DekKer titles, I still didn't see this twist coming!

The story itself is incredibly well written.  Not once did he ever lose me, nor did any scene falter in it's realism.  I truly felt the character's passion and disgust, love and hate, euphoria and sorrow.  At a scant 360 pages, it's shorter than a typical DekKer novel, and this is sad because the pages fly quickly.

I am always impressed with the different ways that DekKer approaches love.  He seems to find it everywhere, in every scenario, and in every person he sees.  The Priest's Graveyard takes that to a place I never would have suspected.  I think we all have a little bit of Renee's tendencies when it comes to love, it's just that ours are more hidden than most.  I would really love to delve into the topic and explore how we are similar, but that would give everything away.  You'll just have to read the story to find out.

If you love thrillers, get this book.
If you love love stories, get this book.
If you love action, get this book.
If you love the written word, get this book!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Average Joe

by Troy Meeder
Multnomah Books

What is happening to my life? Have you ever honestly asked yourself that question? As young boys, we dreamed of being pilots firefighters, doctors, and cowboys. Now we're older, with a wonderful wife and kids, as well as a mortgage, a minivan, and a fulfilling but not-so-glamorous job. What happened. All the dreams that once inspired us have evaporated into traffic jams, computer screens, bills and deadlines. Why is life so ordinary?
If you think your life is nothing special, take a look at it through God's eyes.

I have to admit, when I got this book I was ready to tear it apart. I had just finished reading a bunch of books like Wild at Heart, Life without Limits, and outlive your life. I wasn't really ready to read a book that seemed to glorify average. The tagline of the book is "God's extraordinary calling to ordinary men" and that read to me that we are all normal and boring.
Boy, was I surprised.

Troy Meeder takes us through a journey in his own life - a journey of discovery and revelation that, even though you may not be an astronaut, rock star, or famous A-list movie star, you still have the ability to be an extraordinary man.
Throughout the book, Meeder recounts story after story of seemingly ordinary men being extraordinary - even if it is in ways that the world will never see. The gentle strength of his grandfather guiding their boat during a horrendous storm, the gardener who taught him honesty and integrity, and the December fishing trip with an old friend out on a lake where Troy learned the meaning of humility and putting others first. Not a single one of these men will ever be remembered by society at large, but each one of these men are incredible and far beyond average.
Meeder, although I don't think it was his intent, shows us that you are only average if you choose to be and that these men chose to live a lifestyle that the world doesn't promote, yet is sorely needed today: Honestly, integrity, humility, fairness, strength, and calm.

The author's writing style is engaging, and his chapters are short. This is an excellent read if you don't have a lot of time or if you don't want to get caught up in a lengthy book. Meeder's short, sweet, and to the point analogies and stories being the focus back to his true intent: revealing that, though we may be 'average' as the world labels us, we all have the ability to be a superstar to someone.

I highly recommend this book. If you are a man searching for meaning to what you consider to be a dreary life, you definitely need to read this. If you are married to a wonderful man who may not be able to see himself the way you see him, get him this book. It is very inspirational and motivating.

You can download a sample of the book by clicking here.

I received this book for free as part of Mulnomah's blogging for books program. I was not required to write a positive or negative review. All opinions of the book are mine.

Monday, May 2, 2011


Documentary of Abby Johnson
Tyndale Entertainment

Abby Johnson made a courageous decision when she walked away from her job as the director of a key Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas and walked into the office of the Coalition for Life down the street. Yet that turning point was preceeded by years of searching -- and a moment of pure awakening. Little did she know that her one decision would turn into a national news story or that she'd immediately go from being a leader for Planned Parenthood to being a very public figure in the right-to-life debate.

The story of Abby Johnson is one that many people can relate to. Her classic upbringing creates a stark contrast with the career she eventually chose -- yet it's the transition from a Baptist background to running a Planned Parenthood clinic that is the most startling thing. It all happened as the result of a series if choices led her to an ultimate decision that changed the course of her life. Unplanned is based on the book that Abby wrote about her transformation from Pro-Choice to Pro-Life, and the resulting fallout from her previous employer.

This DVD is dramatic in its scope, content, and characters. Abby, herself, tells most of the story, with a few family members chiming in with their thoughts and impressions. The cinematography is outstanding and the visuals truly enhance the story throughout. Somehow, they managed to cram a story that took eight years to unfold into a 60 minute film, and it is magnficent.

If you have any questions about Planned Parenthood and what they do, you need to see this film.
If you think you know what Planned Parenthood is about, you need to see this film.
If you are on either side of the Abortion debate, YOU NEED TO SEE THIS FILM.

This is a story that needs to be proclaimed from the rooftops. You need to see this film.

I reviewed this DVD as a part of the Tyndale Publishers Blog tour. I wasn't required to give a positive review, but I was given an extra DVD to give away. So, let's have a contest! Just leave a comment, positive or negative, on this review. If I have your contact information, great! If I don't, give me some way to contact you. I will put all the names in a hat and draw a random name on May 15th.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Max On Life

Max Lucado
Thomas Nelson

We have questions. Real, important, and challenging questions. Questions about sex, finances, and forgiveness. Unsettling questions regarding illness, suicide, and eternity. Don't we crave answers to these queries that tug on the deepest parts of our hearts?
Do angels really walk among us?
How should I discipline my kids?
Any advice for my struggling marriage?
Why do I worry so much?
How do I know what God's will for me really is?
In Max On Life, one of the most trusted pastors and authors of our time takes on life's most important questions. Max Lucado has received thousands of questions and wrestle with plenty of his own. Here's hoping that his answers to the questions of others will help you find answers to yours.

I initially wanted to read this book because I love Lucado's writings. His books "Outlive Your Life" and "Fearless" are incredible books that get to the heart of living a life beyond what you can imagine. Lucado's writing style is very personal, yet he gets straight to the point without adding a lot of fluff -- mainly, because there is no need for it. Max On Life is an intimate time of questions and answers with one of America's most trusted authors. Max goes through honest, real questions that have been posed to him and takes his time in responding. You aren't going to get trite, "Christianese" answers in this book.

Max On Life covers questions that not too many people feel comfortable answering, but almost all of us, at one time or another, have had these questions burning on our hearts. Lucado answers questions about salvation, sin, and the existence of God -- all without injecting any doctrine other than Christ. His boldness in responding to questions that truly shake the faith foundations of others is striking and it brings relief to know that there is someone who has taken the time to find the answers, back it up scripturally, and lay it all out on the table.

You may not like what you read, you may love what you read, but rest assured Lucado goes out of his way to expose truth with an honesty that many might find unnerving. After all, questions about sex, finances, homosexuality, human suffering, the afterlife, and our purpose in life are not simple things.

If you have questions about the faith, or if you engage in conversations with people who have questions, I highly recommend getting this book and meditating on the information within it.

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

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Couples Who Pray

SQuire Rushell and Louise DuArt
Thomas Nelson Publishing

Yes, it's true. The most intimate act between a man and a woman is prayer. And praying daily with the one person you love more than any other takes you to a level of joy and satisfaction that you simply will not believe until you try it.
Author of the bestseller When God Winks At You, SQuire Rushnell, and his wife, entertainer and talk-show host Louise DuArt, know first-hand what praying together as a couple can do. They were amazed at the happiness and harmony this simple act brought to their relationship. Couples Who Pray has everything you and your partner need to begin a more intimate, rewarding relationship, including simple tips that can make your marriage the best it's ever been!

When my wife and I got married, we decided to get some marriage books -- not because our marriage was off to a bad start, but we realized that any good thing can still be better. Fast forward five years and our marriage is better than ever, but we still look for marriage books that can help us improve in areas that we may have never even thought about. Couples Who Pray is a book that touches on an area that we never really developed in our marriage (much to my wife's chagrin), so I thought that this would be a good book to review.

Cracking it open, I found that the authors are quite adept at Public Relations. Much of the book is telling you how great your marriage will be and can be as long as you get the principles they are going to tell you. They even appeal to the baser instincts of men by assuring men that once they start the 40 day prayer challenge, they will find that their sex lives even improve. When they finally do get to the point, it isn't anywhere near as sensational as the previous chapters make it out to be -- which is the way of all truth: it isn't sensational, it's just true. I can break it all down to some very simple paragraphs:
Men, when you pray with your wives, you are opening up to them in ways that your wives need. As you pray, you talk to God as your best friend (which He is), and your wife gets to listen in. This is exactly what she needs to feel connected to you. She is hearing your most intimate thoughts, feelings, and emotions, and she is sharing in your struggles. Just five minutes a day is all you need. Just pray with her for five minutes a day and your marriage will change - guaranteed.
Women, gently suggest that your husbands read this book. Don't shove it at them and tell them to read it, simply suggest that they might want to take a look at it. You should read it as well, even if they don't want to. You will understand the dynamics of your relationship in a whole different light after reading Couples Who Pray.

As for the writing itself, well, I already mentioned that the husband and wife author team are great PR people. It's easy to read, and the premise catches your attention. I recommend this book to anyone who has issues praying as a couple, or anyone who wants to better their relationship. The thing is, as with everything else in marriage, both people have to want it. You cannot push a prayer life onto anyone, so don't even try. But you can suggest this book and make it available if they want to check it out.

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

Life Without Limits

Nick Vujicic

Born without arms or legs, Nick Vujicic overcame his disability to live an independent, rich, fulfilling life, becoming a model for anyone seeking true happiness. Now an internationally successful motivational speaker, Nick spreads his central message: the most important goal for anyone is to find their life's purpose despite whatever difficulties or seemingly impossible odds stand in their way.

I'm not one for motivational books, but I just had to read this one. I have seen several of Nick Vujicic's videos on YouTube and I knew that his story was one of incredible adversity and even greater triumph, but I had no idea as to the extent of either.
This book is completely autobiographical -- written by a man without any arms or legs -- and his challenges are strikingly similar to the average person. In fact, he mentions several times that he has seen people that are far worse off than he is, and they have all of their limbs.

Well written and riddled with humor, Life Without Limits truly shows you that there are NO limits to what you can accomplish with God on your side. The tag line for the book is "Inspiration for a ridiculously good life", and it truly delivers. Nick shares his inspiration and how he handles things that would cause most people to give up. He shares his personal struggles, in such a way that you truly do feel everything that he feels. You can feel the same humiliation as he is teased as a child, to the incredible euphoria as he triumphs over challenge after challenge -- including winning in a fist-fight.

I challenge you to read Life Without Limits and not be inspired to rise above where you are. After all, if a man with no arms or legs can get up from falling on the floor, type 40 words a minute, answer his cell phone, live on his own with no assistance, and surf by himself, you can do anything!

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah. I was not required to write anything positive, just that I give an honest opinion.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Narnia Code

by Michael Ward

Tyndale House Publishers

Millions of people have been captivated by C.S. Lewis's classic Chronicles of Narnia - but some questions have never been successfully answered. Why are there seven books? Why are only three of them obvious Biblical allegories? Does the series lack coherence, as Lewis's critics (and even some of his friends) claimed? Many have attempted to discover the organizing key - the "secret code" - of the series, but the structure of Narnia's symbolism has remained a mystery.
Until now.
In The Narnia Code, Michael Ward presents an astonishing literary discovery. Drawing on the whole range of Lewis's writings, Ward reveals the single subject that provides the link between all seven novels. He explains how Lewis structured the series, why he kept the code secret, and what it shows about his understanding of the universe and the Christian faith.

Admittedly, I have never read any of the Chronicles of Narnia. In fact, my only experience with C.S. Lewis' iconic tale has been through Disney's adaptation of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, and Prince Caspian. Sadly, I have yet to see the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, though I hope to remedy that situation soon. However, that handicap did not prevent me from fully enjoying Ward's exegeses of Lewis' works.

When I first got this book, I was concerned that this was going to be nothing but a witch hunt. Something akin to finding that Lewis wasn't really modeling Aslan as the Christ figure and that the entire collection of novels was simply a ruse for Lewis' secret astrological machinations. I was delightfully wrong. Ward pulls from various works of C.S. Lewis to build a solid foundation for the uniting factor between all seven books: Lewis' day job. You see, C.S. Lewis was a professor at Oxford University for thirty years, and he spent nearly ten more years at Cambridge University. His principal field of academic interest was the literature of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. I won't give away the crux of the argument, but the uniting factor has to do with pre-Copernican astronomy. Seven planets. Seven novels. Mystery revealed!

Ward moves effortlessly through all seven of the Chronicles of Narnia, exposing certain attributes in each novel as he goes, to build a solid case for his argument. It is an argument that I think is absolutely spot on and it adds a wonderful dimension to Lewis' series. So much so that I actually plan on tackling the entire series as soon as I can and, with Ward's discoveries solidly in mind, I think it will create a deeper experience for me as well.

If you are a fan of the Chronicles of Narnia, I highly recommend you get this book. It will open your eyes to a whole new world within Lewis' work.

I received this book as a free review copy from Tyndale House Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review, therefore the views expressed in this review are obviously my own.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Bride Collector

By Ted DekKer

Center Street Publishers

A virtuoso killer is carving a path of death across the west, intent on killing only the most beautiful women, all in the name of love. He has claimed six victims and slipped through the FBI's fingers, each time leaving behind a handwritten note and a bridal veil.
Special agent Brad Raines has hunted the Bride Collector from crime scene to crime scene, but each time he finds himself one step behind. Desperate for help, Raines turns to the Center for Wellness and Intelligence, a private home for gifted, mentally ill residents. There he finds help in an unlikely group of four who eagerly agree to help him solve the case.
Raines is drawn to a young woman named Paradise who struggles with psychosis. As they grow closer, he begins to see the world through her eyes. Together, they enter the killer's deadly game and begin to close in. But like Paradise, the Bride Collector is supremely gifted and he has a distinct advantage: this is his game.
Now Paradise will be pushed beyond her limits. She will learn what it means to be beautiful and what it means to love, really love.

This is easily one of the best novels Ted DekKer has ever written. From the moment you crack the pages, you are immersed in the crime scene of a killer who has just performed his gruesome work: draining beautiful women of their blood while they are glued naked, all except for underwear and a veil, to a wall. Ted introduces Brad Raines, an FBI agent with a troubled past, as the main investigator in the Bride Collector murders. As the story moves on, we are introduced to a host of characters; Nikki, the leading forensic psychologist; Allison, the director of the Center for Wellness and Intelligence; Roudy, Paradise, Andrea, and Enrique (whom everyone called Casanova) -- all residents at CWI. DekKer weaves the story through intricate plot lines that bring the past to bear on Raines, Paradise, and the Bride Collector himself.

DekKer's innovative writing style is evident throughout this book that is destined to be a favorite of his numerous fans. The signature DekKer twist came a little earlier than I expected, and that was by design as he had a lot more to share with us and keep us guessing. There were some things that surprised me about this particular book, however: I saw some errors that slipped past DekKer. Minor things, things like a bullet count in a magazine and an error in logic as the Bride Collector snatched a victim from her home. They were very minimal, but for such an accomplished writer, they were very unusual to say the least.

DekKer attacks some very interesting themes in this book. Mental illness is something that we, as a society, seem to try and brush under the rug. The less we have to look at it, the better. In fact, DekKer brings this statistic to light: "State-by-state closure of state asylums and hospitals between 1960 and 1990 had flooded the streets with mentally ill patients who had no provider to take up their care or cause. Many, up to half by some estimates, wound up incarcerated." How many of these people just needed to have a little bit of actual care to make a positive rehabilitation effective in their lives? Most of the time, we treated the mentally ill with drugs or shock therapy. How many of them just needed redirection and focus of their feelings? This is the story that we find ourselves in. DekKer creates characters that are truly gifted -- even though society calls them crazy.

Through this book, DekKer creates a foundation for discussion on how we look at each other, and how we should look at ourselves. DekKer plumbs the depths of his character and forces us to take a look at ourselves. What really drives us? What really is the reason for why we do and don't do certain things? Who are we, really?

If you have never read a Ted DekKer book before, this is certainly an excellent book to start out with. If you have loved DekKer's writing for years you will NOT be disappointed with The Bride Collector. It's definitely a book I will be revisiting over and over again!

The Faith Of Ronald Reagan

by Mary Beth Brown

Thomas Nelson Publishing

With warmth and insight, this best-selling book by Mary Beth Brown delves into the spiritual journey of America's 40th President and offers profound stories of the provisions God made in Ronald Reagan's life - from first making it as an actor to eventually changing the face of politics and the world.
Supported by Ronald Reagan's own words and writings plus firsthand interviews with his family, friends, and co-workers, Brown weaves a magnificent story that inspires as it informs. Reagan's strong devotion to God will encourage believers to enter public service, allowing their faith to motivate their actions, and will draw focus to Christ's matchless sacrifice - forever near and dear to President Reagan's heart.

I was excited to receive this book because Reagan has always been somewhat of a hero to me. I grew up in the 1980's and I was able to witness one of the greatest President's in the history of the United States -- although I didn't realize it at the time. For me, growing up in the 80's was a time of invincibility for us as a nation. No one was better than the united States; an impression that was backed up by our victories in the Olympics in 1980 and 1984. I wasn't surprised when the United States Hockey team won against Russia in 1980 because -- well, that's what we did. We were America. We always won. We were the best. When I could understand the politics of the world, I understood that we had the greatest nation because we had the greatest leader in the world. That leader was Ronald Wilson Reagan.

This book is a terrific overview of Reagan's life, influences, and motivations leading him to the White House. Mary Beth Brown did a masterful job of going through the myriad source material to provide a solid foundation on which to prove the faith of Ronald Reagan. From his early years in church with his beloved mother Nelle, to his re-dedication to Christ after the assassination attempt on his life in 1981, Reagan lived a truly humble life that would boggle the minds of the politicians of today.

Although repetitive at times, The Faith Of Ronald Reagan is a must-have book for anyone who loved the man while in office, or anyone who wants to know what it truly takes to be a successful leader: humility, and a desire to serve - not *be* served.

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