Insider Thought Trading by Jim Bars

We have all had our share of trials and troubles, and we've all had to wade through them to get to dry land because this is common to man. It began the day Eve was tempted and gave to Adam the forbidden fruit to eat. Insider Thought Trading is a step-by-step of overcoming adversity.

Jim Bars had a huge mountain to climb to get out of his particular valley of the shadow of death. Of course, just like many of us, he arrived in that valley because of some terrible choices he made.

This is a thought provoking, dedicated study of how he finally looked up into the eyes of Jesus who lifted him from that valley. It wasn't easy, and his quest for wholeness didn't happen overnight. Jim Bars has logged in thousands of hours in research and study of psychology, philosophy, the Bible, and neural-science. This book is the product of his research and personal experiences.

Here you have a step-by-step guide into mental health and body wellness/fitness and quite interestingly Jim spells it -- WHOLENESS. He points out we cannot be whole without Jesus for it is He who makes us complete. You will recognize mental pitfalls that Jim points out because we've all fallen into them. Your mind and thought processes wage a war every day.

What you take away from this book is the "goal is to find joy in the Lord everyday!" How can that happen if you program your thoughts into that negative rut? Why would anyone want a relationship with God if it wasn't filled with joy? What marvelous questions! We Christians need this reminder just as the lost need to know it. When you redecorate your mind with Jesus instead of all the worldly stuff,  you are trading your negatives for positives; but your daily battles become harder because Satan hates for a person to have a great relationship with God. When you re-wallpaper your mind with Christ, you are freeing Him to reign in your heart and mind wherein lies great strength for relinquishing Satan and him minions.

Give this book, along with the companion workbook, to every lost person you know. Give it to your loved one who is struggling with defeatist thinking. They will see how to overcome life's most trying troubles through the greater strength of Jesus Himself.


The Constantine Codex by Paul L. Maier


This story starts out with a huge bang, suspenseful and intriguing. While the storyline is compelling and keeps you turning pages, the plot depends upon this "lost" books of the bible: II Acts and the "rest" of Mark. For any plot to work, it must be plausible.

Where these archaeologists found these extra books doesn't make sense to me. When the Council of the Nicene convened they had so many manuscripts to choose from that make up what we know as The Holy Bible canon. I just can't wrap my head around the idea that  some obscure church somewhere would  have a part of a manuscript written by Luke that didn't make it into the Bible. I would be more apt to believe part of Jeremiah was left out since it is not written in chronological order.

Setting those problems aside...

The book is well-written with good character development. The professor does have a weird sense of humor (the kind I like), but it shows up in inopportune moments (also what I like). But sometimes the humor falls flat because timing is everything with humor. When one becomes used to jokes at the wrong time, they aren't funny anymore. I especially did not like the joke he played on his wife who is afraid of heights. It was cruel and any man who loves his wife and knows her fears is a cad extraordinaire for jokes that feed those fears. I lost interest in the story after that and only read enough to do this review. I thought for sure this would be an excellent book, but instead I found it lacking in finesse and plausibility.

This one gets 2 stars out of 5

Harvard Professor Jonathan Weber is finally enjoying a season of peace when a shocking discovery thrusts him into the national spotlight once again. While touring monasteries in Greece, Jon and his wife Shannon—a seasoned archaeologist—uncover an ancient biblical manuscript containing the lost ending of Mark and an additional book of the Bible. If proven authentic, the codex could forever change the way the world views the holy Word of God. As Jon and Shannon work to validate their find, it soon becomes clear that there are powerful forces who don’t want the codex to go public. When it’s stolen en route to America, Jon and Shannon are swept into a deadly race to find the manuscript and confirm its authenticity before it’s lost forever.


She Makes It Look Easy by Marybeth Whalen

What a great novel. This is one of those tales that will make you think about the subject long after you've read the last page. The characters are so well developed you'll be pondering how to solve their problems, and you might even want to pray for them. The story is real because everyone has been faced with temptations, it's what we do with them that counts.

Excellent writing, excellent character development, and excellent story/plot development. There's a small twist at the end you don't see coming so the end is very satisfying, too.

You all know how much I hate flipping from one character POV to another, but Whalen does this so well, the reader is never jarred. The reader isn't ripped from one time period to another, or from one familiar character to a stranger where we have to start all over learning characters and personalities never knowing if it is worth it. There are no tricky mechanizations which gives a false flow toward one conclusion then gives you whiplash taking you down another path just for the jarring ride.  

The story is about women, for women, but it wouldn't hurt a husband or two to read it. The husband just might learn something.

This is a very worthy 5 Star novel.

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
She Makes It Look Easy
David C. Cook (June 1, 2011)
Marybeth Whalen


Marybeth Whalen is the wife of Curt and mom of six children. The family lives outside Charlotte, NC. Marybeth is a member of the Proverbs 31 Ministries writing team and a regular contributor to their daily devotions. Her first novel,The Mailbox was released in June 2010. Her next novel, She Makes It Look Easy, will be released in June 2011. Additionally, she serves as director of She Reads, Proverbs 31 Ministries' fiction division.


Ariel Baxter has just moved into the neighborhood of her dreams. The chaos of domestic life and the loneliness of motherhood, however, moved with her. Then she meets her neighbor, Justine Miller. Justine ushers Ariel into a world of clutter-free houses, fresh-baked bread, homemade crafts, neighborhood play dates, and organization techniques designed to make marriage better and parenting manageable.

Soon Ariel realizes there is hope for peace, friendship, and clean kitchen counters. But when rumors start to circulate about Justine’s real home life, Ariel must choose whether to believe the best about the friend she admires or consider the possibility that “perfection” isn’t always what it seems to be.

If you would like to read an excerpt of She Makes It Look Easy, go HERE.


Be the People by Dr. Carol Swain

I received this book via Booksneeze and I am so delighted I chose it to review. One of the best, concise, and easily read tomes I've discovered which pulls back the wool that has been pulled over The People's eyes.

Dr. Swain is an unusual, but not so very rare, Black Conservative. She makes a lot of sense and I would love to take one of her classes. I love it that she's reprinted the Constitution at the back along with some other documents our founding fathers composed so that blind eyes may, perhaps be opened. I pray The People of America will one day not settled for interpretations of what someone has said, but truly dissect and discern direct quotes and speeches for themselves.

It is incredibly sad how so many are blindly following a color in this country which has nothing to do with skin color but has everything to do with party colors. If we do not pay attention to what the Executive Branch, Legislative Branch and Judicial Branch are doing, we will have put ourselves under the thumb of a dictator rather than the Republic we actually are.

I give it 5 out of 5 stars

Book Description

An insightful analysis of the forces of deception rapidly reshaping America's morals, social policies, and culture, with a call to specific action, written by a thoughtful and courageous Christian social scientist on the front lines of today's issues.

Cultural elites in the media, academia, and politics are daily deceiving millions of Americans into passively supporting policies that are detrimental to the nation and their own best interest. Although some Americans can see through the smokescreen, they feel powerless to redirect the forces inside and outside government that radically threaten cherished values and principles.

Drawing on her training in political science and law, Dr. Swain thoughtfully examines the religious significance of the founding of our nation and the deceptions that have infiltrated our daily lives and now threaten traditional families, unborn children, and members of various racial and ethnic groups—as well as national sovereignty itself--and provides action points for the people of this country to make the political system more responsive.

The book is divided into two sections:

Forsaking what we once knew Re-embracing truth and justice in policy choices It also covers key topics such as:
  • America's shift to moral relativism 
  • America's religious roots 
  • Abortion's fragile facade 
  • Historical and biblical views on families and children 
  • Erosion of rule of law, national security, and immigration 
  • Racial and ethnic challenges 
  • Reclaiming the future


Pompeii by T.L. Higley

I was instantly drawn into the story of Pompeii, but when the girl slave decided to switch places with a boy slave heading for gladiator training I just lost all interest because of the historical inaccuracy. Gladiators were well known for their honor and allegiance to their lanista, and female gladiators were so highly prized they lanista would pay just about any price to have one. Ariella could have easily petitioned him to become one. Apparently, it was done so much so...

Ultimately, in A.D. 200, Emperor Septimius Severus outlawed such female demonstrations when he issued a decree banning single combat by women in the arena, for “[a] recrudescence among some upper-class women, and the raillery this provoked among the audience” (Gardner, 1986, p. 248).
This is  why I've had such a problem with this plot. Higley has visited these places. She has studied these cultures. She could so easily have braided the plot to include historical fact. Although, to be fair, the girl was a runaway slave and had to keep her identity secret albeit she was found out anyway. We can't run from our demons. Only God can send them to the pit so they won't harangue us any more.

I have a heavy portion of the motivational spiritual gift  of teacher. This means that I have a huge problem with good writing that has some historical, or any other, errors. I have a tendency to toss the baby out with the bath water so I must work on this. Take that as your grain of salt in this review.

The girl changing places with a boy and pretending to be a boy is a good plot twist, and Higley didn't dwell over long on that situation but brought her into the hero's home early in the story. The introduction of the villain was also done very well. Character development was a bit slow, but probably necessary for a little tension in the beginning. Overall, this was an enjoyable read and if you like 1st Century stories, you'll like this novel.

I give this one 3 out of 5 stars.

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
B&H Books (June 1, 2011)
T.L. Higley


A fiction aficionado since grade school, T.L. Higley, author of Pompeii: City on Fire (B&H Publishing House, June 2011) started her first novel at the age of eight.

Now the author of nine historical fiction novels, including the popular Seven Wonders series, Higley isn’t just transporting readers: She’s transporting herself, too.

“My Iifelong interest in history and mythology has taken me to Italy, Greece, Egypt, Rome, Turkey, Jordan and Israel, where I’ve gotten to study those ancient cultures in rich detail,” says Higley. “It’s my desire to shine the light of the gospel into the cultures of the past, and I figure what better way to do that than to visit the cultures themselves?”

In addition to her accomplished novelist career, Higley is a business entrepreneur and a mother. In fact, for Pompeii, she brought her daughter along with her to Italy for the research trip.

“We gave it to her as a graduation present, not only because Italy is terrific, but because I believe in exposing children to global cultures,” says Higley, who became a student herself again this year. She’s now a graduate student at American Public University, earning her master’s degree in Ancient and Classical Studies.

When Higley isn’t traveling on research trips, writing her novels, or studying for class, she operates four online retail companies, including – a family-run business that began as a way for her oldest daughter to make some extra money for camp. Today, it is a go-to site for parents, children and teachers all over the country, looking for beads and other kid-friendly craft supplies.

Higley lives with her husband and her three other children (aforementioned daughter now in college) just outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


Pompeii, a city that's many things to many people. For Cato, it's the perfect escape from a failed political career in Rome. A place to start again, become a winemaker. But when a corrupt politician wrongfully jails Cato's sister, he must oust the man from power to save her.

For Ariella, Pompeii is a means to an end. As a young Jew, she escaped the fall of Jerusalem only to endure slavery to a cruel Roman general. She ends up in Pompeii, disguised as a young man and sold into a gladiator troupe. Her anger fuels her to fight well, hoping to win the arena crowds and reveal her gender at the perfect time. Perhaps then she will win true freedom.

But evil creeps through the streets of Pompeii. Political corruption, religious persecution, and family peril threaten to destroy Ariella and Cato, who are thrown together in the battle to survive. As Vesuvius churns with deadly intent, the two must bridge their differences to save the lives of those they love, before the fiery ash buries Pompeii, leaving the city lost to the world.

Watch the book trailer:

If you would like to read the Prologue of Pompeii, go HERE.

Shattered by Melody Carlson

This is a wonderfully written story for teens and pre-teens. I have read and reviewed numerous for teen novels and this one tops them all. I could so empathize with Cleo, as well as her mom. The things that teen do all because "everyone does it" hits so close to home with this book.

While it is about a young girl, teen boys would do well to read it, too, if for no other reason but to get inside a teen girls head to see what makes her tick, to understand how they thing. The way Carlson peels back the layers of Cleo's thoughts brought back so many memories for me, I almost cried.

The story draws you in from the first page and keeps you turning through out. It would be an excellent book club or bible class study for no other reason than to stir up discussions on how each of our actions have consequences--some good, some bad, and some really terrible.

I give this one 5 of 5 stars!

Over the years, Melody Carlson has worn many hats, from preschool teacher to youth counselor to political activist to senior editor. But most of all, she loves to write! Currently she freelances from her home. In the past eleven years, she has published more than 150 books for children, teens, and adults, with sales close to three million and many titles appearing on best sellers lists.

Several of her books have been finalists and winners of various writing awards, including The Gold Medallion and The Rita Award. And most recently, she is in the process of optioning some of her books for film rights.

Carlson’s passion for writing has been greatly focused on teens. Informed and aware of the challenges and struggles teens face today, she writes young adult novels that she hopes will change lives. Her popular series
Diary of a Teenage Girl (Multnomah) has sold more than 300,000 copies. Her TrueColors series (Nav Press) focuses on hard-hitting issues such as suicide, addiction, and cutting. Her series The Secret Life of Samantha McGregor explores the paranormal from a godly perspective. And her latest series, The Carter House Girls, offers readers a cleaned-up alternative to the popular Gossip Girl books.

She has two grown sons and lives in Central Oregon with her husband and chocolate lab retriever. They enjoy skiing, hiking, gardening, camping and biking in the beautiful Cascade Mountains.


The Lady of Bolton Hill by Elizabeth Camden

Just as Siri Mitchell delves into lifestyles of women in the 1890s and early 1900s, Elizabeth Camden has given us a telescopic look at the political times of that same time period. Industrialization has developed into an almost modern scope but humane treatment of workers had not advanced as quickly as industry. Against this backdrop, Camden has woven a story with deep emotions of anger, resentment, love and forgiveness. A good read, well written and a satisfying love tangle.

Romance is not the only attraction. She also delves into how events in our youth can carry heavy burdens into our adult life often distracting us from healthy maturity. Take a trip back in time to an age of journalistic breakthroughs and industrial powerhouses with Clara and Daniel. You won't be disappointed.

This novel receives 4 out 5 stars.

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Lady of Bolton Hill
Bethany House (June 1, 2011)
Elizabeth Camden


A research librarian and associate professor, Elizabeth Camden has a master’s in history from the University of Virginia and a master’s in library science from Indiana University. She has published several articles for academic publications and is the author of four nonfiction history books. Her ongoing fascination with history and love of literature have led her to write inspirational fiction. Elizabeth lives with her husband in central Florida.

A word from Elizabeth: I am a college librarian in central Florida by day, but by night I can be found pounding out inspirational historical novels the moment the sun goes down. I love writing books about fiercely intelligent people who are confronted with profound challenges. As a rather introverted person, I have found that writing is the best way for me to share my faith and a sense of resilience with others.

As for who I am? I love old Hitchcock films, the hour before sunset, a long, sweaty run through the Florida countryside, and a glass of good wine. After spending my entire adult life on a college campus (either as a student or a librarian) I have finally been able to pursue my ultimate goal of writing professionally.


Female journalists are rare in 1879, but American-born Clara Endicott has finally made a name for herself with her provocative articles championing London's poor. When the backlash from her work forces a return home to Baltimore, Clara finds herself face-to-face with a childhood sweetheart who is no longer the impoverished factory worker she once knew. In her absence, Daniel Tremain has become a powerful industry giant and Clara finds him as enigmatic as ever. However, Daniel's success is fueled by resentment from past wounds and Clara's deeply-held beliefs about God's grace force Daniel to confront his own motives. When Clara's very life is endangered by one of Daniel's adversaries, they must face a reckoning neither of them ever could have foreseen.

When Clara Endicott and Daniel Tremain's worlds collide after twelve years apart, the spark that was once between them immediately reignites into a romance neither of them thought possible.

But time has changed them both.

Daniel is an industrial titan with powerful enemies. Clara is an idealistic journalist determined to defend underprivileged workers.

Can they withstand the cost of their convictions while their hearts, and lives, hang in the balance?

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Lady of Bolton Hill, go HERE.
Get widget