Jesus and the Beanstalk by Lori Stanley Roeleveld


From the publisher: “Use the hidden gifts in 2 Peter to topple the giant challenges in your life.

“We live in unsettling, challenging times. Everywhere we look, we see giant problems: giant obstacles to sharing faith, giant barriers to peaceful lives, giant strongholds of fear. But what if you knew eight small secrets to unlocking a strength big enough to overcome whatever obstacle life may bring?

“Using allegory and a bit of humor, Jesus and the Beanstalk explores a passage in 2 Peter 1 to uncover eight truths that will help you unleash a larger-than-life faith: Faith, Goodness, Knowledge, Self-control, Perseverance, Godliness, Affection for others, Love.

“In this creative, refreshing perspective on spiritual growth, you will discover an unyielding strength when you tap the power of a God who is stronger than any beanstalk and bigger than your biggest giants.”

Lori Stanley Roeleveld’s latest book, Jesus and the Beanstalk, is a humorous and insightful look at the Christian life, paired with a thought-provoking study of 2 Peter 1. The author doesn’t stand over you and preach in this book; she sits beside you and shares stories, leading you almost unknowingly into deeper understanding of God’s Word.

The study is well-designed, too. She begins with a few chapters of introduction, then gets into the work of the study. There are eight weeks of studies, six days per week. Each week focuses on one of the aspects necessary for a deeper relationship with Christ spoken of in 2 Peter 1, with charming stories and interesting questions to guide your study.

This would be an excellent study to work through with a small group or even on your own. I would definitely recommend you check  it out!

Many thanks to Abingdon Press and NetGalley for the free copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own!🙂

Chasing Embers by James Bennet


From the publisher: “Behind every myth, there’s a spark of truth…

“There’s nothing special about Ben Garston. He’s just a guy with an attitude in a beat-up leather jacket, drowning his sorrows in a downtown bar. Or so he’d have you believe.

“What Ben Garston can’t let you know is that he was once known as Red Ben. That the world of myth and legend isn’t just a fantasy, as we’ve been led to believe. And he certainly can’t let you know the secret of what’s hiding just beneath his skin…

“But not even Ben knows what kind of hell is about to break loose. A centuries-old rivalry has just resurfaced, and the delicate balance between his world and ours is about to be shattered.”

This was a great idea for a story – legendary creatures are real, but they’ve been in hiding (many in plain sight) for centuries. The author did quite a good job of making the idea plausible, too (we are definitely so bombarded by make-believe in TV and movies that we are often blinded to the truth, etc.). And it was a decent read. The writing could be quite beautiful at times, really evoking that sense of the fantastic, of magic.

Unfortunately, I felt that Chasing Embers dragged like a sled in tar in far too many spots. It was one of those books that got to the “Is it over yet?” stage for me. There were still nuggets of greatness dispersed throughout the story, but they weren’t enough to fully keep my attention. I found myself putting it down and not really wanting to pick it back up. Bummer, because I love the idea and parts of the story, but I still can’t give it a high recommendation.

Honestly, it was the cover that sold me on this book. I was completely intrigued when I saw the dragon tail and the tag line, “Not all stories are made up…” Kudos to the cover designer!

Thanks to Orbit Books and NetGalley for the free ebook copy of this novel. :)

The Domino Effect by Davis Bunn


Esther Larsen is an analyst at a major bank in Charlotte, North Carolina. Her job is to analyze the risks that come with investment banking. After the crash of 2008, Esther began keeping track of the risks banks around the country, even around the world, were taking, and what she sees is more than troubling. Can she get the word out and stop the downfall before it’s too late? Will anyone even listen?

This was one heck of a page-turner, and so realistic that I found it scarier than the average horror story! Not only is it a good story that grabs your attention and refuses to let go, it also makes you stop and think about what is really going on in those huge “too-big-to-fail” banks. Davis Bunn began his career as an economist, so he knows what he’s talking about, which makes this even scarier…


But it’s not just the subject matter that makes this a great read. Bunn employs his amazing writing skills to create wholly believable, comfortably sympathetic characters, and villains with such realistic motives that you understand why they’re doing what they are, while despising them for even contemplating such a thing. Bravo!

“Ripped from the headlines” doesn’t quite explain Bunn’s latest novel – it’s much more frighteningly prophetic-like than that. Excellent, highly recommended book. Grab it while you can!

Many thanks to Bethany House Publishers for the free copy of this novel for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own!🙂

The Mermaid’s Sister by Carrie Anne Noble


Orphaned as infants, Clara – brought by a stork, Maren – found in a seashell, and O’Neill – left under an apple tree, have always known their lives were not particularly ordinary. Clara and Maren live on Llanfair Mountain with Auntie Verity, a lovely woman who tells stories almost as well as she mixes herbal remedies. O’Neill travels the land with Scarff, selling fantastical tales and the goods that go with them. But when Clara notices that her sister, Maren, has begun to change, to grow iridescent scales and long for the ocean, Clara and O’Neill must set out on a wild adventure to save Maren by taking her to the sea. Beset by troubles, Clara and O’Neill worry that it will be too late for Maren. And through it all Clara wonders, “If my sister is a mermaid, then what am I?”

What a remarkable story! The instant I saw this book, I knew I wanted to read it, so I treated myself to a copy. Then, it won two awards at the RealmMakers conference – the Genre Award for Young Adult Literature and the first ever Realm Award for overall awesomeness (my description of the award)! And it definitely is fantastic!

The characters are wonderfully unique, yet she draws them so well, they are familiar and comfortable to be with at the same time. Even her villains are multi-layered and intriguing. Absolutely magical, for young adults and the forever young-at-heart! Grab yourself a copy, snuggle up with some hot black tea with honey and cinnamon (Spoiler Alert!! Make sure you make the tea yourself!!), and dive into Carrie Anne Noble’s lovely tale. I most highly recommend it.

And, seriously, now I want my own Osbert the wyvern. Where can I get one?????

Ordinary Souls by J.S. Bailey


From the author’s website: “Sixteen ordinary souls. Sixteen not-so-ordinary tales.

“Ordinary Souls is an anthology about ordinary people. This new collection from J. S. Bailey features an archaeologist in the future who meets a resurrected woman from long ago, a spaceship crew stranded on a distant world, a wealthy divorcee whose love of antiques turns her life into a living nightmare, and much more.

“Featuring nine new stories and seven previously-published stories including ‘Vapors’ and ‘Weary Traveler,’ which appear in print for the first time.”

Thought-provoking, intriguing, at times creepy, but always fascinating, J.S. Bailey’s collection of short stories is quite the read. Through these sixteen stories, we are taken to relatively normal places with more than normal (okay, we’ll call them what they are – paranormal) matters. She’s done a magnificent job of taking those simple things we overlook every day – from mirrors to abandoned houses to drivers’ licenses to pizza – and built beautifully weird stories around them. These are the type of stories I so enjoy: unusual, interesting takes on the mundane that make you stop and think, “What if?”

If you’re a short story fan, I’d recommend you pick up a copy of Ordinary Souls. It is available for pre-order now through Amazon (click here!) and will release October 15th in softcover and ebook formats.

Many thanks to Blue Harvest Creative for the free copy of this ebook for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own!🙂



I was lucky to get a chance to meet J.S. Bailey at the RealmMakers Conference at Villanova University in July. I snapped this picture of J.S. and her husband (or as I know them, the TARDIS and the Ninth Doctor…) at the awards night banquet. She’s a wonderful lady, who very graciously signed my copy of Rage’s Echo for me!! Thanks, J.S.!

A Time to Die by Nadine Brandes


If you knew what day you would die, how would you live? Parvin Blackwater’s clock says that she has just one year left on her life. She feels that she’s  wasted the first seventeen  years of her life, so Parvin is determined to make this last one count. She wants to rescue Radicals from being sent to their deaths by the corrupt government system. But when her plans get her sent through the Wall, Parvin must first survive before she can begin to help others back home.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I began this book. It sounded so interesting when I saw it in the bookstore at the RealmMakers Conference in July, and it turned out to be so much more than merely interesting. From the very first line (“There once was a time when only God knew the day you’d die.”) to the cliffhanger-ish ending, A Time to Die doesn’t slow down, nor does it let you down. Absolutely stuffed with intensity, from the thoroughly fleshed characters to the intricately drawn story world to the plot that keeps you wanting more, Brandes’ début novel is extraordinary.

It is so much more than just a great story, too. It’s a fictional, yet at the same time personal, journey of self-discovery. Parvin ask questions of herself and God that we all find ourselves asking at some point in our lives… what’s my purpose? Am I wasting my life? What do You want me to do? Are You even here, God? And within this tapestry of fiction, Brandes deftly braids silky strands of Truth for us all to weave into our own stories.

My heart soared and plummeted; I smiled and I cried; I did not want the book to end! So, it’s a very good thing to know that this is only the first book in the series!



The second book, A Time to Speak, is available through major retailers. And the final book, A Time to  Rise, will be released in just a few weeks (October  14th)! atimetorise_6_29


For more info, check out Nadine Brandes’ website (click here 😊). And, in all seriousness, pick up a copy. It is so worth a read (or two or three!).


My  most  hearty thanks to Nadine Brandes for the copy of this book for review purposes. She didn’t ask for a positive review, but I so thoroughly enjoyed it, I can’t praise it enough! 😁

Trial Run by Thomas Locke


From the publisher: “Reese Clawson’s work is mind-bending–literally. Her company specializes in global data analysis for an elite group of industry executives, and now a lucrative government contract is moving her into the realm of cutting-edge intelligence gathering. She is determined to crack the limits of consciousness–and in doing so, the boundaries of secrets and lies. But her experiment crashes as test subjects slide into a coma-like state. Reese is left scrambling to maintain control, drawing three disparate people into the search for answers–an adrenaline-amped thrill junkie with altered brain chemistry, an Italian scientist working on remote-viewing technology, and a math prodigy whose algorithms subvert computer encryption.

“Will this piecemeal team prevail when a government operative is sent to investigate? As the threads of perception and reality become tangled and even time itself twists in unexpected directions, one warning remains clear: what you don’t know can kill you.

“With a concept so daring and writing so gripping, readers will swiftly fall under the spell of Thomas Locke’s endlessly creative mind. This thrilling psychological journey into the very nature of causation and consciousness will leave them turning the pages and grasping for solid ground.”

I’ve read Thomas Locke before (recently, the Legends of the Realm series), and I’ve read his more prolific alter ego, Davis Bunn, as well. I have thoroughly enjoyed every book of his I’ve read, and Trial Run is no exception. The plot is fast-paced, packed with intense moments. It reminded me of a Michael Crichton novel with its questioning of limits of science, the value to place on morality, and the importance of faith, and how they all intertwine. It was smoothly written, and I was immediately sucked into the world of the Fault Lines series.

Trial Run is definitely on my “read it again” list, that’s how much I enjoyed it! I’d highly recommend you check it out. *Note: there is also a prequel (Double Edge) that is free from Amazon, and the second book in the series is called Flash Point, which is on my “to read” list.🙂