Thursday, June 12, 2014

A New Kind of Hacker

“Parables are meant to re-frame the world differently so we can experience it again for the first time. Hacker takes a simple concept that many people already believe, that there’s another reality so near to us that we’re unaware of its presence most of the time, and puts it center stage.” ~ Ted Dekker

 What if by closing our eyes long enough we could see a whole new reality? What if by clearing our mind we could open it to things unseen? What if true life begins after we draw our last breath on earth?

 In the third installment of his Outlaw Chronicles series, Dekker re-emerges with the theme of identity and the fact that our ultimate hope is found in something beyond this temporal life on earth. He also unravels, in classic Dekker style, the secret to genuine prayer – what it means to clear your mind of the “firewalls” that block out God’s voice, and truly be still and listen.

 Hacker introduces us to Nyah, a seventeen-year-old genius computer whiz who can crack into just about any company’s high security records with a few taps on a keyboard. Why does she do it? Just to prove she can … and to sell her services as the company’s new online security head. But when Nyah stumbles upon some dangerous evidence during a particularly high-level hack, she quickly finds herself in a situation in which her technological skills can’t protect her.

 Desperate, Nyah seeks the aid of an estranged friend from the past, a fellow hacker and teen genius. What Nyah could never expect is the new kind of hacking her friend has discovered – how to hack into the brain. Now with a vengeful hitman on her trail, Nyah must make a choice that could alter the very fabric of her reality – forever.

 Brimming with edge-of-your-seat action and mesmerizing sci-fi/fantasy as only Dekker can write it, Hacker is The Matrix meets Inception meets Just Like Heaven with a return to dreams and glimpses of a deeper reality that made The Circle series unforgettable. Fans will also love the return of Austin Hartt from the Outlaw Chronicles’ first fantasy thriller Eyes Wide Open, and of course, the appearance of Stephen Carter (a.k.a. Outlaw) from the series’ namesake adult novel.

Once again, Dekker peals back the skin of this world and makes what is untouchable and unfathomable completely tangible.

Another Dekker masterpiece worthy of five stars.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Happiness: A Choice Worth Making (book review)

What if someone told you that you hold the key to unlocking your own happiness and even the happiness of your spouse? Often in our culture, people give up on marriage because it ceases to “make them happy,” and they feel that they are entitled to this right. But what if happiness is not a right to be claimed, but rather a goal to strive after? A goal, not to seek after merely what boosts your own spirit, but what brings joy to others, specifically your “other half.”

 In Making Happy, renowned marriage experts Les and Leslie Parrot teach you how to control the climate of happiness in both your life and your marriage, walking you through six “happiness boosters” …

 1. Count your blessings

2. Try new things

3. Dream a dream

4. Celebrate each other

5. Attune your spirits

6. Add value to others

 Making Happy combines meticulous research with relevant anecdotes and sprinkles in a healthy dose of timely quotes and interactive quizzes to keep the reader engaged. Whether you’re a single preparing for marriage, or a couple seeking to recover the joy in everyday moments together, this book is a great thought-provoking guide for those who strive for a blissful life.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Worthy Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Calling the Unlikely: A Review of Davis Bunn's "The Turning"

Perhaps you’ve heard the voice before. That inexplicable urging deep within your heart and soul, not audible but just as clear as if it had been shouted to you from a bullhorn. The voice of a Divine Storyteller, nudging you to follow a path you never would have expected.

It is this kind of Divine calling that Davis Bunn writes about in his new “devotional fiction” novel The Turning.

A brooding businessman from Cleveland. A snobby choir leader from Baltimore. A beautiful young oriental woman torn between two major life decisions, and an Arab learning the Christian faith. Each one hears the same message from God. Each must face a unique task. Each must take a monumental step toward forgiveness, reconciliation, compassion … spiritual obedience.

Feeling God call them to New York, these spiritual misfits band together under the leadership of a well-known Christian author to battle a rising cultural enemy.

My thoughts:

I love the fact that each of the protagonists is introduced as someone who we normally would not look to for spiritual guidance. Each character has baggage, yet God does not wait till their baggage is gone to call them. He calls them with dirty lives, and offers them progressive steps of obedience to follow. Yet with each step, hearts are rearranged, maturity deepens, and the characters begin to take bigger and bolder steps of faith.

Davis shows us through these characters that we don’t have to be spiritual giants for Christ to call us. We simply need to be open to hearing His voice. He’ll meet us in that spot where calling and action collide.


“The fruits of the Spirit require us to grow beyond our comfort zone. Like Isaiah, we are the most unworthy of believers. And yet God has called us. Each and every one of the family of Jesus. We are all invited to move beyond the failures and limitations that confine us.” ~ The Turning


Davis Bunn is as encouraging and Christ-focused as ever! I'm giving The Turning 4.2 stars.

I received a complimentary copy of The Turning from River North Fiction in return for my honest review.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Beautiful Contradiction

I’m a walking, living, breathing contradiction. A grammar snob who sometimes misplaces commas. A clean freak whose room looks like a bomb-kissed bookstore. I’m an exercise enthusiast who both loves and hates running and a fiction writer who’s forgotten how to plot a story.

I’ll contentedly snail my way through an autograph line, but I hate waiting for long-term goals to come to fruition.

I despise cold weather … I live in the Midwest.

I love to travel … I can’t stand long drives.

I’m a borderline Vegan who eats seafood. A workaholic who loves to play. A perfectionist lugging an ever-present bag of mistakes.

A sinner whom God calls “saint.” A filthy peasant whom the King of the universe calls “daughter.”

I am nobody. And yet, to the only One Whose opinion matters, I am one of a kind.

Perfection is not a requirement for admission into God’s adopted family. We’re strange, fickle creatures who strive tirelessly one moment to practice purity and goodness, and the next fall like a slaughtered calf, sacrificed to the idols of our soul.

 We need not hide from our Father in a dark corner every time we do something silly or even devastating to miss the mark of perfection. We need only to throw back our heads, spread our arms wide and relish in the downpour of forgiveness, grace, and love waiting to fall upon us from a Savior who sees our every fault and quirk and still chooses to call us His own.

Imperfect, yet sought after by the One Who invented perfection. Now that is a beautiful contradiction.


“Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace He has poured out on us who belong to His dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave our sins. He has showered His kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.” ~ Ephesians 1:4-8, NLT

Friday, October 11, 2013

Limitless Potential

Simon Orwell has grown accustomed to living in the dust of abandoned dreams. A college dropout from a prestigious university, Simon’s life has turned out much like his last great science project – an unfinished mass of potential, set aside, regarded as an impossible failure. Too broken to accomplish that for which it was created. Settling for the mundane, Simon believes he is unworthy and incapable of fulfilling his greatest dream. That of changing the world.

 Summoned to Mexico by his elderly partner on the project that would have literally brought light to those living in darkness, Simon faces the bleakest prospect of a new chance. Perhaps not a chance to rejoin the project and rebuild his career as a scientist – that hope has all but faded like the dim light bulbs of the poor Mexican town – but maybe, just maybe, a chance to remedy at least a few of his past wrongs.

 Hope becomes an unreachable goal once again when Simon arrives in the tiny town of Ojinaga to the tragic news that his partner is dead. Natural causes of course. The same natural causes that now stalk Simon as a hunter stalks his prey. Simon is thrown from his unassuming life, thrust into a quest for answers as to who is behind the old professor’s death and what clues he left behind for his young protégé.

 Now, taking refuge at a struggling orphanage, Simon must accept the help of some of his late partner’s closest friends if he is to find answers. Because maybe, the unthinkable really is possible. Maybe he, like his project, really does have more potential than he thought. Maybe even the ability to light up the world.

Least favorite parts:

 The book was slightly predictable in a few spots, but overall that did not detract much from its readability.

Favorite parts:

Despite his own lack of confidence and vision for himself, Simon is enveloped by unmerited encouragement from the orphanage director (and friend to his deceased partner), Harold Finch. Harold pushes the unmotivated Simon to view his life as something more than what he has made it so far. To set goals. To believe in impossible dreams. Probably my favorite line in the book is when Harold tells him, “Son, that’s the power of dreams. If they’re not big, if they’re not impossible, they’re not worth investing your life.” (Unlimited, page 177)


 At a time when I, like Simon, doubted my potential and the gift God has planted within me, Unlimited glimmered into my reading life with a challenge – “be more.” Channel that wasted energy and potential. Believe in the dreams that God has buried in your very soul. Believe in His ability to make the impossible possible. Believe that you are destined to light up the dark.

 I believe this book will challenge you as well. Dare you to defy your doubt, to trust that when you allow God to direct your dreams, the results could be … unlimited.

I'm giving this book four glowing light bulbs out of five.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from B&H Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Heart Can Bleed ...

In a world as dark and foreboding as the fear that rules it, one man is entrusted with a centuries-old secret and awakened to a life forbidden for half a millennium. Having impulsively ingested a bit of ancient blood with only a cryptic message as his guide, Rom Sebastian discovers an unknown power that lies dormant in every soul. A throng of emotions – passion, sorrow, hope, love – beautiful and terrible at once, but so vastly far above the simple life of fear known to every inhabitant of the decomposing earth.

   Now on the run from a fearful government who views him as “out of Order,” Rom must choose either to live in the familiar clutches of fear or bravely seek out the truth behind these new emotions. To learn their purpose … and his.

   Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee serve up a heart-racing thriller that’ll engage your every emotion and leave you craving more while digesting a hard-hitting truth. The truth that true life is not one that sits back in pillow-fluffed ease while fearing the future. True life is one of seeking purpose beyond ourselves, no matter what the cost, and no matter what the pain along the way. “Because in life we risk death. … The heart can bleed. And it will.” (Forbidden, page 373)

   Once again, Dekker transports us to an alternate reality to help us better understand our own. Once again, he weaves a climactic tale of romance and redemption to remind us of a certain life-giving blood. Much like the power of that life-giving blood, this is a story that cannot possibly be understood through mere description … it must be experienced.



While similar in many ways to Dekker’s Circle series (and personally, I believe that Thomas Hunter plays an unseen role in this story, *wink, wink*) The Books of Mortals trilogy takes it up a notch on the violence scale. Okay, maybe several notches. (Think head-chopping violence and mega-creepy villains from Green and rack up their frequency a bit.) Also, the spiritual analogies are slightly more vague, at least in this first book of the series. But dig deep and think hard … the content is rich.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Some Dreams Are Hidden

It looms on the horizon, black and sinister, churning through the atmosphere and masking all that it touches in shadows of doom and deadly uncertainty. Circling the land like a beast stalking its prey, the hurricane surges closer and closer to the Florida coast, threatening to level everything in its wake. For Dr. Elena Burroughs, the almost sadistic storm system is but a single raindrop in her bucket of worries. A much larger storm is brewing, far more power-hungry ... and far more deadly.

“It all came down to the dreams. And her own next step. The prospect of what awaited her was wrenching.”

 As we re-enter Elena’s life in this sequel to Book of Dreams, she is steadily attempting to piece her shattered world back to a semblance of normalcy. After a fizzled romance, shelved friendships, a tanked career, along with the loss of her home and nearly all her possessions, the world’s leading authority on dream analysis has only one remaining option – the dreaded spotlight. With no job and virtually no one to turn to except her ever-persistent editor, Elena reluctantly agrees to a worldwide publicity tour … one that leaves her drained and emotionally raw, not to mention humiliated by a demeaning and obnoxious scientific colleague.

 A glimmer of hope shines through the wreckage when Elena is offered a professorship at a Melbourne college campus. But no sooner has she filtered back through the cracks and slipped momentarily underneath the fame radar than a peculiar bit of her past creeps back into her new life.

 Elena is dreaming again.

But she’s not the only one experiencing the prophetic dreams … more than a dozen people from around the world with no prior connection to each other are now assaulted by the same dreams. Worst of all, these vivid nightmares are beginning to come true.

Forced once again to serve as reluctant leader of an unlikely group, Elena feels less prepared than ever before. How can she, with a faith gone dry, find the strength and guidance to lead such a group? Especially when that group’s most compelling urge is to warn the world of the encroaching disaster.

“… right now, all I can tell you is, God has never felt more silent.”

 The clock is ticking and Elena must seek out the truth harder than ever before if she is to discover why she and the other “dreamers” have been granted the ability to see the future. And more importantly, what they can do to prevent the coming storm from destroying them all.


Personally, I didn’t enjoy this book quite as immensely as its predecessor, but that’s not to say that Hidden in Dreams isn’t amazing in its own right. Still packed with peppy dialogue and timeless Biblical truth (not to mention a few startling plot twists that’ll have your brain doing an about-face), this novel oozes quality and talent.

 I’m giving Hidden in Dreams a very unsubtle five stars as well as two thumbs up to Davis Bunn!


I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster. 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.