Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Rare Earth by Davis Bunn

Marc Royce has worked for the State Department on a variety of clandestine assignments, most recently in Iraq. Now he is called on to investigate suspicious activities in the Horn of Africa, a region already in turmoil from decades of violence, corruption, and poverty.

Dropped into the squalor of the refugee camps, Marc confronts a stranglehold of deceit and oppression. Women and children are ravaged by hunger. Aid workers are overstretched. Government officials prevaricate. The presence of armed military contractors adds to the menace. Can anyone be trusted?

Marc's true assignment focuses on the area's reserves of scarce metals now vital to high-tech industries. Who is secretly attempting to secure a monopoly on land and mineral rights?

A tenacious Israeli medical administrator named Kitra, suffering losses of her own, reluctantly seeks Marc's help with her humanitarian efforts. Their shared faith overcomes mutual suspicions. Together, they try to forge a groundbreaking partnership between impoverished African villages and an innovative research compound near Tel Aviv.

But a shadowy group of adversaries--with agendas fueled by greed and revenge--conspires to stop them at any cost.

I've become a part of the group of "influencers" for this new book coming out July 1st by Davis Bunn.  I received this book from the publisher in hopes that I would shout about it to all of my friends and would review it on my blog.  Well, will they ever be surprised to find out that I would have done all of that even if they hadn't sent the book to me for free :)

This is the second book in the "Lion of Babylon" series that is featuring Marc Royce as the main character.  Having just saved the world in Iraq, Marc has now been asked to head over to Africa where a long dormant volcano has now erupted causing chaos in all of the surrounding lands.  Marc flies into the area that is suffering from a food and supply shortage, not only because there aren't any, but because there aren't enough guards to keep it from being a riot.  Marc's real reason for being there, though, is to find the missing brother of one of the aid workers.  This leads to uncovering a widespread conspiracy by different national groups, as well as the very mercenaries that were contracted to keep this from happening.  Can Marc come in a help out a nation that has suffered so much?  Can he find Kitra's brother in time?  HA!  Read the book!

I have enjoyed reading several of Davis Bunn's books, (especially "Elixir" as it is partially set her in North Florida where I live) and knew right away this would be another home run winner for me.  Mr. Bunn has written a character in Marc Royce that embodies the kind of man that I would like to be, the kind that I would like my son to be.  Marc is not only a special forces guru, but he is a thinker as well.  When I first "met" Marc in "Lion of Babylon", he not only was a physical force to reckon with, but he was also one who was well versed in other cultures.  These two books have introduced us to the Christian version of Indiana Jones, and I hope that we get to see more of this fine role model.

Is this a "man's book"?  You'd better believe it!  This has volcanoes exploding, beating up bullies, mercenaries and more.  This book and the first in the series are books that as I was reading them both I could just imagine a movie being made about them.  I sure hope they do, we need some great Christian role-models in the movies!


Reviewers, readers and friends use those phrases to describe Davis Bunn. An internationally-acclaimed author who has sold more than six million books in sixteen languages, Davis is equal parts writer, scholar, teacher, and sportsman.

Born and raised in North Carolina, Davis left for Europe at age twenty. There he first completed graduate studies in economics and finance, then began a business career that took him to over forty countries in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Davis came to faith at age 28, while living in Germany and running an international business advisory group. He started writing two weeks later. Since that moment, writing has remained both a passion and a calling.

Davis wrote for nine years and completed seven books before his first was accepted for publication. During that time, he continued to work full-time in his business career, travelling to two and sometimes three countries every week. His first published book, The Presence, was released in 1990 and became a national bestseller.

Honored with three Christy Awards for excellence in historical and suspense fiction, his bestsellers include The Great Divide, Winner Take All, The Meeting Place, The Warning, The Book of Hours, and The Quilt.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

I'm going to give away my copy of this great book, so please leave some comments so you can be entered into the drawing!  You never know, Mr. Bunn may read these comments himself :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

By The Numbers Series by Eric Wilson

I'm going to do something a little different for this review.  I'm actually going to review 2 books at once.  These books are the first 2 books in the "By The Numbers" Series by Eric Wilson.  Not sure how these review will sound, let me know what you think of it.

"1 Step Away" - A Modern Twist on One of the World's Oldest Tales
     Bret and Sara Vreeland have been targeted. Someone has plans for them, a plot that reaches into their past and threatens their future.
When one of Sara's patients dies, a mysterious old man, he leaves his fortune to her and her family. They have no idea they are part of an experiment. Satan once tested Job through trials, but failed to break him. Now Satan has sought God's permission to test the Vreelands with a $6,000,000 blessing.
     As their lives take turn for the better, will their souls take a turn for the worse?

     Bret and Sara have made it by in this world by counting pennies and adhering to a strict budget.  Bret works in the manufacturing world and Sara in the health care industry, he during the day and she at night.  A picture of a couple reminiscent of many middle-class people today.  They have just enough to get through to the next paycheck and that's about it.  On the relationship side, though, they are committed to each other and their family.  Bret always going out his way to help his boss and Sara making a house call to help a patient.  It's during this trip that Sara finds that the patient has more than a passing interest in her.  After his death, she finds that she has been left a large portion of his estate, worth over $6,000,000.  As this new found wealth takes hold of their family, they find that a lot of their values have eroded with the money.  After a discovery that he ex-fiancee had possibly been killed by the patient that left her all of the money, will it change what they do with the money?  Who is stalking them and what does he have to do with the inheritance? Can their family still continue their bond as the money seems to unravel it? NOT GOING TO TELL YOU :)

"2 Seconds Late" - Natalie Flynn, a minor character in 1 Step Away, takes the lead role. After a chance encounter at a Nashville book festival, she starts dating a suave, young politician, Reuben King. Natalie has no idea Reuben is friends with some very dangerous people. These friends deal in information, and knowledge is their form of gold. Recent technological advances have allowed for widespread use of RFID tagging (radio-frequency ID), and Reuben's friends are growing richer by the day. To do so, though, they are endangering the lives of society's mentally and financially destitute. 2 Seconds Late is a tale of modern characters faced with ethical and life-altering decisions. Natalie, in some parallels to the biblical story of Esther, has been positioned for "such a time as this," but every second counts, and already she may be too late.

     Natalie Flynn was a minor character in the first book, but really played a large roll when it came to what happened to her in it.  It's nice to see her back, especially since we get to see a part of what happend to her in the first book that we didn't get to see.  In this book, she has moved on past the experience and gotten back on track with her schooling.  She meets up with Reuben King, who is spearheading a campaign that includes the latest advances in technology for RFID tagging.  Little does she know the power force that he has aligned with to make all of them rich and powerful.  Does Natalie finally figure out how to stop these people from ruining the lives of millions?  Does Reuben "wake-up" and see the destruction this power could cause?  You guessed it again, you're getting so smart.... READ THE BOOK!

These books were both quick and enjoyable reads.  Mr. Wilson has a very fluid writing style that practically keeps you hooked from the first page.  These were books where, "I'll just read one more chapter" became several more chapters.... In these books, the characters were ones that I rooted for, especially since I felt like I could identify with Bret.  Work, work, work, climb, climb, climb.  Am I making any progress up the ladder, or will it be like this all my life?  I liked that Bret seemed to have ethical struggles after they received the inheritance.  Not only by what to do with the money, but also by how people started treating him.  Was the pastor treating him different now that they had extra money?  I enjoyed the character of Reuben as well.  It is always refreshing to see people in power that struggle with that power and seeing how they overcome those struggles and do the right thing.

Are these "guy's books"?  The first is a twist on the story of Job.  In this story, instead of losing everything they have, they gain so much more. I think alot of guys will see themselves in the character of Bret, so I think this book would be great for any guy.  In the second book, even with this being a spin on "Esther", I saw more about the character of Reuben and enjoyed watching his development through the course of the book.  So yes, I think these books would both be great books for guy's to read.


From an early age, I wanted to be a writer. Although I was born in California and raised  in Oregon, my more enduring memories start in Europe where my parents took Bibles behind the Iron Curtain. Life was an adventure, full of  exotic cultures and peoples.
Back in the States, I went through junior high and high school. I loved soccer, basketball, chess. Oh, yes, and girls. It took a few years to learn how to talk to them, but they interested me from a distance.
After high school, I traveled in eastern Europe and China. I returned to my parents’  crumbling marriage. I moved to LA and began college. During my junior  year, a childhood friend showed up as a freshman. Within months she and I were married, and we’re now going into our twentieth year, with two daughters to keep us on our toes. We’re not perfect--our kids could give you details--but we refuse to stop fighting for our family. And for our faith in Jesus, who is bigger than our self-centeredness.

I received both of these books from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Reich of Passage by Ace Collins

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tell Boyer is burned out on politics and moves to Los Angeles to become an entertainment journalist. He is sleepwalking through life until he meets a reclusive doctor whose father escaped Nazi Germany, but had developed a technology to place terminally ill patients into a deep sleep until cures could be developed for their specific diseases. With stem cell technology now available to regenerate kidneys, The first person that Tell finds himself face to face with is Hollywood's most famous sex symbol--Jean Harlow. The second is Jim Blane, an American agent who penetrated the SS. As Jim Blane adjusts to modern life he discovers that they were not the only two suspended in time. With his spy expertise he recognizes men from the SS troop who are now alive and in key governmental positions throughout the world and buoyed by billions in Nazi gold. Tell races with Blane to expose a new plan for world domination and to introduce Jean Harlow to a modern world

When I spoke to Mr. Collins (ok, he let's me call him Ace, guess we're friends like that) about anything new that he had coming out and if he would be interested in letting me do a review on my new blog, I was surprised that he said yes.  It wasn't that I was surprised that he would let me do a review, I mean who wouldn't, right?  I was surprised that he had ANOTHER book ready to come out.  This guy has published over 60 books and I knew this would be another huge hit.

So what would you do if you were a journalist looking for a new direction in your writing, and you are introduced to Hollywood's most famous sex symbol, Jean Harlow?  I'm sure you'd do what Tell Boyer did in this book, take a year off and devote every minute to reacclimating this "young" lady back into society.  But wait, how did this famous lady from the 1930's get into the present without aging a bit?  Tell finds out through his association with John Gould.  John's father had experimented with a technology that allowed him to place terminally ill people into a deep sleep or a coma until their ailment could be cured.  But let's not stop there. In addition to Jean Harlow, Tell finds out that another man, Jim Blane, a former American agent who had infiltrated the German SS was also kept in a coma.  Jim begins to notice world leaders that appear to be previous members of the German SS, but how could they still look so young and what does it mean that they are in power?  What would it be like to take a star from old Hollywood and reintroduce them to today's world?  Can Jim find out how all of these former SS members are alive and what they are planning to do?  The answer is...... READ THE BOOK!

I've enjoyed each and every book by Ace Collins that I have ever read.  I learn so much through his writing, it makes me feel smarter when I put the book down.  Ace's writing style is one that infuses enough fact into the story that it makes you want to read more about characters, places or events.  Being a young guy myself, I wasn't aware of the story of Jean Harlow but I wanted to find out about her based on this book.  Ace allows his characters to develop so fully in his books that you find yourself wondering how many were patterned after real people. 

So is this a "man's book"?  Absolutely!  Famous actresses, German soldiers, world-wide government conspiracies, double-agents????  What guy in his right mind wouldn't fall for all of these plot elements?

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.


Ace Collins has authored more than sixty titles in the past two and half decades. Zondervan launched Ace's career in fiction, releasing two books in 2009 and another two in 2010. Ace has won numerous awards for his writing including three Golden Quills, an America's Writing Award, and the Angel of Excellence Award. He has written for a wide variety of publishers including St. Martin's Press, Viking-Penguin, Putnam, Harper-Collins, Thomas Nelson, Word, Zondervan, and the Chicago Review Press. In the course of his writing, he has also penned more than 2,000 magazine features for the likes of People, Us, Texas Monthly, Plus Magazine, and Guideposts. He has made scores of television guest appearances including Good Morning America, The Today Show, CBS This Morning, CNN, Fox and Friends, The NBC Nightly News, and Entertainment Tonight. Two of his books have been made into network TV specials.

Ace has always been a car lover, he has owned several Mustangs, including a 65 Fastback that he still drives, as well as cars from the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s. On the right at the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Museum, Ace is shown with a famous SJ Desenberg. The oldest car he has ever owned and driven is a 1917 Model T Speedster.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Crossing - by Serita Jakes

In 2000, a horrible unsolved crime is committed on a Texas school bus. At the time, Claudia Campbell was the beautiful head cheerleader, a hopeful girl who idolized her slain teacher. Now ten years later, Claudia's secret life threatens to destroy her marriage and possibly her very life.Casio Hightower, now a prominent member of the community and a police officer, was a superstar quarterback and tapped by several colleges as their next golden boy. Casio's rages are tearing him apart and are close to landing him in jail.

The only way to move forward with their lives is to readdress the crime of their past, with the help of God and his perfect grace.

This has been a LONG time getting to the top of my too be read pile.  I joined "Blogging For Books" last year some time in a hesitant start to this whole review blogging thing I'm doing.  I waited, and waited for the book to come in, but it never showed up.  Here now, with my resurgence of doing these reviews, I had them send me another copy so that I can finish what I started.

Claudia, Casio and the several other players and cheerleaders were on a bus back from a game when, while they were stopped for a train, a masked gunman boarded the bus taking the life of their cheer director and friend, BJ.  Other than minor injuries, no one else was hurt except for BJ.  The relationship between Claudia and her teacher had gone past the normal boundaries and they had become close friends.  Flash forward 10 years, Claudia is still haunted by what happened on the bus, Casio, now a police officer, is having trouble with anger management.  Claudia's husband is the ADA and has been given new evidence by Casio that gives him a reason to reopen the case to hopefully find the killer.  Is there a killer on the loose?  What is Claudia hiding and why doesn't she want the case reopened?  Does Casio ever get help with his anger issue?  READ THE BOOK!

This book was rather hard for me to get into, unfortunately.  The book is basically written from the perspective of about 4 characters; BJ, Claudia, Vic and Casio.  I guess I'm just a simple guy and having to read these perspectives was just a bit much for me.  The plot was pretty straight-forward, although there were some side stories that I thought distracted from the main plot (the affair that Claudia's mother had).  There are several underlying themes that were spelled out in the book; Spousal Abuse, infidelity, faith, etc. just to name a few.

So is this a "man's book"?  I would have to say probably not.  Not that I think all men are as easily confused as I am, but I would rather have a book that just tells the story.  Having it told by different perspectives was a major turn off for me.  


Serita A. Jakes has been involved in Christian ministry all of her adult life and has served alongside her husband, Bishop T. D. Jakes, throughout their entire marriage of nearly 30 years. As an insightful speaker, she draws heavily from her education and background in theater and mass communications. A soft-spoken woman offstage, First Lady Jakes, as she is affectionately referred to by The Potter’s House congregation, possesses the rare ability to reach and stir her audiences as she works to complement her husband’s ministry.
In addition to raising three sons and two daughters, she has assumed an active role at The Potter’s House of Dallas where her husband serves as Senior Pastor. First Lady Jakes serves as Executive Director of the church’s WoMan-to-Woman women’s ministry. She is founder of the much-acclaimed God’s Leading Ladies Life Enrichment program for women and The Potter’s House’s Debutante Program for teenage girls. Mrs. Jakes also speaks across the country on women’s roles in supporting their husbands, and she is in demand by women’s organizations throughout the nation as a celebrated speaker on issues concerning marriage and family. 
In 1998, First Lady Jakes and her husband founded Clay Academy, a private college preparatory Christian school. In August 1999, she released her first book, The Princess Within, which to date has sold more than 200,000 copies. The book, which is a poignant and revealing autobiographical reflection of encouragement and victory over pain, trauma, and abuse, is scheduled for re-release spring 2011. First Lady wrote the book as a vehicle of encouragement for hurting women who want to break the silence surrounding their secret pain and obtain healing from it. In November 2003, Warner Faith published First Lady Jakes’ second book, Beside Every Good Man: Loving Myself While Standing By Him. It challenges women to explore the seasons that shape their views of male influence in their eyes. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

God on the Streets of Gotham by Paul Asay

     What do God and the Caped Crusader have in common? While Batman is a secular superhero patrolling the fictional streets of Gotham City, the Caped Crusader is one whose story creates multiple opportunities for believers to talk about the redemptive spiritual truths of Christianity. While the book touches on Batman’s many incarnations over the last 70 years in print, on television, and at the local Cineplex for the enjoyment of Batman fans everywhere, it primarily focuses on Christopher Nolan’s two wildly popular and critically acclaimed movies—movies that not only introduced a new generation to a darker Batman, but are also loaded with spiritual meaning and redemptive metaphors.

     As you can tell by my previous posts, non-fiction books are not my normal cup of tea.  I've joined a couple of "blogging" websites, though, that are helping me to expand my horizon of books that I read.  So as I looked over a list of books available to be reviewed, I thought it would be a no-brainer for me to pick this one for my review.
     The books starts out with a nice history of Batman over the years and his rise through print, to TV and ultimately on the bigscreen.  The author begins by describing Batman in some generic terms; Being called from birth, the love of the Father, called by choice and then called by searching.  He then brings in characters that battled against Batman to show struggles that he dealt with: Nemesis - Scarecrow - Fear, Two-Face - Despair; Joker - Annihilation.  With each chapter, he builds off of the characteristics that we've seen in Batman and weaves them back to a comparison of the life of Jesus.
     I'd say that I was skeptical of this book at first.  It really didn't grab me the way that fiction does, simply because alot of the comparisons that the author makes are subject to interpretation.  I guess that's what has always caused me to shy away from reading too much fiction.  I didn't see anything scriptually wrong with the book.  Again, I'm sure that another author could take the same information and make it say something totally different, but Mr. Asay did a great job with his book.  I enjoyed that he didn't make this solely about Batman, but also the surroundings and influences that make up the character of Batman.
     Is it a "man's book"?  Sure, why not. It is a good read, has some good theories and talks about Batman.  How many other times in life will you be able to read a book that combines two of a man's most talked about topics, God and superheroes.


     Paul Asay is the associate editor at Plugged In,  a ministry that reaches more than 6 million people with movie reviews that help people understand popular cultual trends and how they intersect with spiritual issues.  Paul is an award-winning journalist who covered religion at The (Colorado Springs) Gazette and whose work has been published by such outlets as The Washington Post, Christianity Today, Youth Worker Journal and Beliefnet.com.  Paul has a special interest in the unexpected ways that faith and media intersect.  He lives in Colorado with his wife, Wendy, and two children.