Saturday, December 24, 2016

Movie Review of Hillsong: Let Hope Rise.

If you didn't get a chance to see Hillsong in the theaters, you can watch it in your own home now. Blu-ray and DVD are available now!

Hillsong: Let Hope Rise

This inspiring film chronicles the spectacular rise of the Christian band, Hillsong UNITED, to a worldwide recording and concert sensation. Capturing the on-stage energy and off-stage hearts of the Australia-based band Hillsong UNITED, HILLSONG–LET HOPE RISE is a new motion-picture genre—the theatrical worship experience. The film explores Hillsong’s humble beginnings and astonishing rise to prominence as an international church whose songs are sung every Sunday by more than 50 million people worldwide.
Additional Details
The runtime for the film is 103 mins. There are 38 minutes of the following Special Features, included on both the DVD and Blu-ray:
  • Bonus Performances: “Scandal of Grace”, “Captain”, “Wake”, “The Stand”
  • Behind the Scenes Footage: LA Record and San Clemente Writing

This was a great film to watch. Seeing inside the heart of the individuals in the band, as well as their collective hope to use music to "connect the human heart with heaven" was very encouraging. The documentary style of story-telling takes the viewer behind the lights and awe for back stage footage, personal interviews and even scenes within the member's home lives.

My favorite part was the concert footage. In most cases the words to the songs they are performing are on your screen, as they encourage the viewer's interaction and involvement right from your living room.

The movie walks through the history of the band, starting out small as a youth band in the eighties, and moving up to the international phenomenon they are today -- "the biggest band you've never heard of.". Yet a lot of church people are familiar with the Hillsong United band, either by recognition of their songs on the radio or by singing their lyrics in one's home church. However I doubt anyone could list the band members by name. I couldn't - until I watched this movie.

It was delightful to see the process it took the band to actually put forth some of those songs that we love to hear and sing. You might be amazed at the price it cost them to write songs that aren't aimed at fame or profitability but are aimed at the heart of worship.

A special favorite part of the documentary for me was a montage of the song "Mighty to Save" as people from around the world in various languages and locations pieced together every line of the song. What a beautiful scene of worship.

It was encouraging to know this movie was not a commercial for the Hillsong church. The members interviewed had a broader definition of "church", encouraging everyone to "find a local church, pour your life into it and you'll never be the same again". (Quote is from Senior Pastor and Founder of Hillsong Church, Brian Houston.)

Some of the band members had the opportunity to talk of the places of pain in their lives that helped bring forth the music and the heart within the lyrics. It was inspiring to hear their stories. Joel Houston, song of Pastor Brian Houston and lead worship leader of the band shared this.
I feel like we are at our best when we are broken. That's the moment when God gets to be made evident. It gives us the opportunity to love and to trust and to operate from a place of His strength.
I recommend this DVD documentary to those who love story, who love worship, and who love to see the hand of God move in people's lives. Very encouraging. The movie is distributed by PureFlix Entertainment with no inappropriate language or scenes. Visit Dove Foundation's review for the specifics.

It is rated PG. There are some scenes of poverty as the band travels to visit a Compassion village. There is mention of a suicide in one of the band member's family. There is also talk by some band members on what the physical and family toll is from the stress and travel. However, having said that, it is important to know I did not feel these comments inappropriate. It is clear from the interviews that these worship leaders and musicians are not in this "gig" for the money. It is a calling, not unlike a Pastor or Missionary family. These are not rich rock stars - they are humble people living a humble existence as they work out their calling and ministry. One worship leader comments on how his neighbors know he works for a church but they have no idea what he actually did last night - play a live concert to a sold out crowd of tens of thousands attendees in an arena somewhere else in the world.

Buy it now.

Not convinced yet, check out these links:

Book Review of Her One and Only by Becky Wade

Becky Wade has been a favorite author of mine since My Stubborn Heart. She instantly won my heart with her rich and honest stories of wounded souls and the enduring hope of the Healer. Her Porter Family series sits on my bookshelf at home - where very few of my review books land - most get donated to a library. So here is the final addition to the Porter Family.

Her One and Only is book 4 in the series. The long awaited wrap up to the family saga and the only girl in the family of rough and tumble boys. But Dru is no princess!

After ten years in the NFL, super star Gray Fowler is accustomed to obsessive fans. But when Gray starts receiving death threats from a stalker, his team hires an executive protection agency to guard him until the culprit is caught. Dealing with bodyguards 24/7 is a headache, especially when one of them is a young, beautiful woman. How can a female half his size possibly protect him better than he can protect himself?
Dru Porter is a former Marine, an expert markswoman, and a black belt–none of which saved her from disaster on her last assignment. In order to rebuild her tarnished reputation, she’s determined to find Gray’s stalker and, since relationships between agents and clients are forbidden, avoid a romantic attachment between herself and the rugged football player with the mysterious past.
Yet every secret that leads Dru closer to the stalker also draws her closer to Gray. As the danger escalates, they’ll survive only if they can learn to trust their lives — and their hearts — to one another.
I absolutely LOVED the previous books in the series. Yet, this one fell very flat for me. I wholeheartedly recommend her series but cannot offer the same praise for Her One and Only. However there is a plot line in this book that follows up on Meg and Bo from book 1 Undeniably Yours.
Now for my reasons. First of all the characters were stereotypical. I loved the flip of a teeny-tiny woman decked out with killer bodyguard skills protecting a huge, muscled tight end football player. Chapter one page one and two go into detail that the irony isn't lost on Dru either. However beyond that flip and switch, everything falls very predictable after that. Gray, our football hero idolizes himself and all the female attention he receives on a daily basis. And Dru fights tooth and nail to be seen as "more than" her short stature and womanly figure.
I enjoyed the banter between the characters brought on by the way they saw themselves in contrast to each other. Yet Gray was hard to like. He baited her. He taunted her, all to prove he could get a reaction from any girl. So at times the talk between the two was inappropriate with sexual innuendos.
As is with good fiction, the main characters grow and mature as they face their issues and work through them. This is definitely the case with these characters and by the end of the book I could like and appreciate who Gray was. A part of that change for him is how his heart softened to Dru. At one point he made a bet with a fellow football player to see who could win Dru - who could get her to kiss him first. At first it was pure Neanderthal fun as the boys competed but a protective side soon came out of Gray. It redeemed his playboy qualities slightly but the novel definitely takes liberties to show his needs and urges in relation to women. Not unlike his football cohort.
I also struggled with the suspense aspect. The story opens with a prologue three months in the future. In all honesty if that hadn't been there I would not have finished the book. Because it was there I had a glimpse that something powerful was going to happen to peak the story. And I waited a lot of pages to get it. I just did not get pulled into the drama of the search for the stalker.
Yet for me the biggest distraction to the story was the sub plot of Meg and Bo's journey with infertility and loss. It was a great, inspiring story in every way but not here in this book. It needed its own title. 
It pains me to write this review as I have adored all of Becky Wade's previous books. So, suffice it to say this one will not deter me from reading another book of hers in the future. And as always if I must deliver a low rating on a book I remind you that everyone has different likes. Please feel free to visit another blog I came across that had a very different reaction to this particular book.
By the Book Book review of Her One and Only,
And you can always check out my previous review of book 3 A Love Like Ours which I couldn't say enough good about.
"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc."

Friday, December 16, 2016

Book Review of Wild Montana Skies by Susan May Warren

What a  treat this is for me. My first opportunity to review a Susan May Warren book. I've been a reader and follower of hers for years now but never had the chance to do a book review. Woohoo!

Wild Montana Skies is book 1 in the Montana Rescue Series. If you have never read a Susan May Warren book start now!

She's come home to heal . . . only to find heartbreak is waiting. He thought he put the past behind him . . . until he returned home to discover it's walked back into his life--and this time, with a secret he can't forgive. Can two broken hearts find their way back to love?

Here's the back cover copy:
The last thing Search and Rescue helicopter pilot Kacey Fairing needs upon returning home to Mercy Falls, Montana, is to run into her mistakes. After a devastating crash during her recent military tour in Afghanistan, she is emotionally broken but ready to start putting her life back together. She just wants to reconnect with her teenage daughter and spend the summer working as the new lead pilot of PEAK Rescue in Glacier National Park.

But her mistakes aren't so easily forgotten. Because Ben King is also back in town.

Country music star Ben King abandoned his past when he moved to Nashville thirteen years ago to start his career. He hoped to heal his broken heart, caused by losing the woman he loved. But when his father is injured, Ben is called home to help manage PEAK Rescue during his recovery. He doesn't realize his father has ulterior motives until his old flame, Kacey, walks into his house and back into his heart. 

Now, with Mercy Falls in a state of emergency due to flash floods, Kacey and Ben will have to work together to save lives. But when secrets are uncovered and old hurts rise to the surface, will they walk away again? Or can they find a different ending to their country love song?

Susan May Warren is known for her captivating characters and rich story lines and Wild Montana Skies is no exception. Also true to form is the compelling adventure that moves the story on like river rapids.

Kacey and Ben are two runners. They both fled their mistakes and ultimately each other years back after high school and now they are both home again. Although flash floods and a decimated town bring them home, it is the buried away love they once shared that keeps them here. The story line is as powerful as it intriguing.

The setting of the story, Glacier National Park and surrounding areas brings it own level of intensity and excitement to the plot. Warren writes it with crystal clear clarity. Old haunting grounds and similar circumstances reignite the past that Ben and Kacey shared.

There is a strong family element in this story, not uncommon for Warren. The friends and family that surround the main characters are riveting in their own way. There's an element of what our families would do for us to protect not knowing if it's the right choice in the end. And the power of forgiveness surrounding those choices.

Wild Montana Skies also touches on the topic of PTSD, as Kacey is a military helicopter pilot returning home after a tragic accident in Afghanistan. The problems she faces are real and the power with which they hold in her life can be devastating. However there is hope.

The faith element is evident in this story, both main characters are struggling with it but come from a solid base of Christian beliefs.
"Having faith is the bravest thing we can do. It's the unwavering confidence that God loves us. That although we can't see the road ahead, we can see God." page 271, Wild Montana Skies
I also love the contrast between the father's - one is a pastor and one is a judge. A perfect visual of the age-old battle within us of love versus the law.

Lastly, there is a subplot that takes the main stage many times throughout the book. It is the up and down relationship of Ian Shaw and Sierra Rose. Although this is a great story in its own right, I found it very distracting to the main plot. It was like reading two books at the same time. This is becoming more common in fiction these days and is not a first time for Warren either. My personal preference is to do one at a time.

However, Susan May Warren wrote a novella titled If Ever I Would Leave You. It is a free offering to her readers for signing up for her newsletter. It is my understanding that this story lays the foundation for the plot story of Ian and Sierra. I haven't read it, but looking at the synopsis I think it may have helped me not feel so yanked from the story. Check it out.

And of course ... book #2, Rescue Me is on its way for January 31, 2017.

What happens when the rescuer has to be rescued? When a van full of teenagers is lost in the rugged mountains of Montana, it's logical that PEAK Rescue would call out deputy Sam Brooks. Only problem is...he's lost with them. It'll take all the courage, skill and determination for Sam to rescue the wounded, scared teenagers. But when tragedy takes a dark turn, who will rescue Sam?

I definitely recommend Wild Montana Skies to readers who love adventure, romance and strong characters. Stories that grab your heart and take a long time to let go are your thing? This is a perfect match for you.

Susan May Warren is the ECPA and CBA bestselling author of over fifty novels, including Wild Montana Skies, with more than one million books sold. Winner of a RITA Award and multiple Christy and Carol Awards, as well as the HOLT and numerous Readers' Choice Awards, Susan has written contemporary and historical romances, romantic suspense, thrillers, romantic comedy, and novellas. 
She can be found online at, on Facebook at SusanMayWarrenFiction, and on Twitter @susanmaywarren.

Don't forget:
If ever I would leave you novella - sign up for her newsletter.

pdf excerpt of Wild Montana Skies and links to popular shopping places are available at Baker Publishing and

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc."

Monday, November 7, 2016

Book Review of Like Never Before by Melissa Tagg

I love all things Melissa Tagg!  And Like Never Before, book 2 in the Walker Family series is no exception.

Maple Valley became Amelia Bentley's haven after her heart and her dreams of a family were shattered. But when the newspaper she runs is in danger of closing, she pins all her hopes on a story that just might convince the new owner to keep the paper running.

After his biggest campaign success yet, widowed speechwriter Logan Walker has the chance of a lifetime: a spot on a presidential campaign. But first he has to return to his hometown to sell the newspaper he's suddenly inherited.

But instead of a quick sale, Logan finds himself helping Amelia chase her story. She's scrappy, but wounded. He's dependable, but lost. And working together to break the story on Maple Valley's unsolved mystery is just the start of the sparks that fly in the office and in their hearts.

Named to Publishers Weekly's spring 2016 "Religion and Spirituality" Top 10 list!

This book has everything. Romance, powerful characters in realistic and compelling struggles, redemption, hope and intrigue.There was nothing to disappoint in this story. 

Tagg writes fun fiction with a deep soul. Amelia and Logan's romance was deep and sweet and heart-tugging. The characters were real and vibrant and captivating. The setting rich and touching. 

There is a historical element to this particular story as Tagg dives her characters into solving a mystery of a local legend in Maple Valley. It was entertaining to see how Melissa Tagg wove elements of fiction (her characters) and fact (real curious events in history) to tell a riveting tale. 

If this is your first introduction to Melissa Tagg, feel free to browse a few other reviews I've done of her work.

Also, check out her website. It is a real treat. Under the books tab you can find all her great stuff. As well as a prequel - FREE - to the Walker Family Series. (Download Three Little Words.) And be sure to notice that book #3 - Keep Holding On is already available. [Yeah, yeah, I'm a little late with my book #2 review :( ]
AND - for the Christmas story lovers out there check out Tagg's two Christmas novellas from Maple Valley.


"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc."

Friday, November 4, 2016

Book Review of No Other Will Do by Karen Witemeyer

Looking for some good ol'fashioned fun reading? Try out the latest from Karen Witemeyer.

No Other Will Do is a Ladies of Harper Station Novel and full of some great lines, laughs and of course some love too.

The best part was the laughs. My first clue was the first line on the back of the book. It reads: Men are optional.

That was the credo Emma Chandler’s suffragette aunts taught her and why she started a successful women’s colony in Harper’s Station, Texas. But when an unknown assailant tries repeatedly to drive the women out, Emma is forced to admit they might need a man after all. One who can fight. And there is only one she trusts enough to ask.

Malachi Shaw has finally earned the respect he's always craved by becoming an explosives expert for the railroad. Yet when Emma’s telegram arrives, he leaves his job behind and rushes to Harper's Station to repay the girl who once saved his life. Only she’s not a girl any longer. She’s a woman with a mind of her own and a smile that makes a man imagine a future he doesn’t deserve.

As the danger intensifies, old feelings grow and deepen, but Emma and Mal will need more than love to survive.

This was my first Witemeyer novel and I was very pleased. I enjoyed her writing and her settings and most of all her great characters. The plot revolves around someone threatening the colony of women, hoping to drive them out. The women at the station don't know who is making the threats and as the threats amp up in severity Emma must reach out for some help. She calls on an old friend she trusts. One who understands her and her beliefs.

I loved that the book brought out so many different angles of who could be making the threats. I had no idea who the antagonist was until Witemeyer told me. I love that! Kept me reading.

I enjoyed the slow brewing love story between Emma and Malachi and how it started many years before when they first met (in the prologue, hehehe:D) So much was shared between them without a word. Here's one particular part that got a cheer from me.
She snapped her gaze to Malachi at the sound of her name spoken in his commanding tones.
"Fetch my rifle and saddlebags from the barn." She started moving for the door as he turned his attention back to the women. "Betty. Grace. Come to the front. No female is going to leave this room until she can properly hold and load a weapon. And the minute the new shipment Miss Adams ordered arrives, we'll begin target practice."
Emma paused in the doorway, glancing back to catch Mal's eye one more time. Needing him to see her gratitude, her faith in him, her admiration as he single-handedly turned a gaggle of frightened geese into would-be tigresses." 

There were so many great parts to this story. I have no negative things to say. A fun read for anyone who enjoys historical fiction with a twist.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc."

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Feeling desperate, disappointed or done?

Hello all!

This is a special invite to join me over on a new site I've started. My corner of Faith.

I am not leaving this blog. Don't worry. I am simply trying out some new things. Today I posted about feeling desperate and done ... and how God can bring hope into your despair.

Feel free to mosey on over and read it. It is titled A call out to the disappointed, the desperate and the done. We will dive into a couple scriptures that bring hope amidst the darkness (Lamentations 3:21 and Habakkuk 3:17-19)

And just in case you are in the mood for some encouraging tunes ... I have a link to All Sons and Daughters singing Alive.

Not your cup of tea? No worries. I will be back on here later this week with a new book review, No Other Will Do by Karen Witemeyer.


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Book Review of No Way Up by Mary Connealy

Another fun read from Mary Connealy! The Cimarron Legacy Book One is No Way Up.

The Fight for the Cimarron Ranch Has Just Begun!
When Cimarron Ranch patriarch Chance Boden is caught in an avalanche, only the quick actions of hired hand Heath Kincaid save him. Before leaving by train to receive treatment to save his leg--and possibly his life--Chance demands that Heath read the patriarch's will and see its conditions enforced immediately. If Chance's three bickering adult children, Justin, Sadie, and Cole, don't live and work at the ranch for an entire year, ownership of the ranch will pass to a despised distant relative.

Before long, however, Heath discovers that the avalanche may have been intentionally set--and that more danger lurks ominously. Finding his own future--and a desired future with Sadie--locked up in saving the Cimarron Ranch, Heath and the Boden siblings must work together against outside forces that threaten them all.

For those of you who have followed along with some of Connealy's other books, for instance the Kincaid Brides Series will know Heath Kincaid from book 3, Over the Edge.

This new series takes place in New Mexico Territory in 1880. Connealy writes with her usual humor and delight to entertain readers. If you've enjoyed her cowboy series in the past you will likely enjoy this one as well.

However, if this is a new author for you I'd recommend starting with the Kincaid Brides series. This new book felt a little slow and dry for me compared to her others. I struggled my way through to complete the book.

It was hard to put my finger exactly on the problem. I liked the characters. The setting was intriguing. The writing was fun and engaging. I think it was the tension, or lack thereof, that tripped me up. The story is based on figuring out who is threatening the ranch, yet I couldn't buy in to it enough. There was no compelling urge to find out whodunit. Just my personal opinion.

Currently on her website, Mary Connealy is offering a free e-book prequel novella title The Boden Birthright. Why not check that out to inspire and ignite your interest for her new series. Book two in the series, Long Time Gone will be out in February 2017.

Although this was not a favourite read of mine, I still recommend this author if you like stories with humor and heart and lots of western brouhaha.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc."

Monday, September 26, 2016

Movie review of Voiceless

Christian film continues to put forth movies to challenge and open a discussion. Voiceless is no exception.

Image result for voiceless movie

Voiceless takes on the monster topic of abortion in a moving and compelling drama about a believer, a church and a community divided along the lines of choice.

Coming in early October to theaters across the United States, (sorry my Canadian friends) Voiceless will challenge what you believe about abortion and what you're willing to do about it. As a person. As a church.

Battling his own inner demons, Jesse (Rusty Joiner) encounters a young, pregnant teen overcome with grief that, after an impulsive abortion, has her blaming Jesse for more than just her final decision. Jesse's wife Julia (Jocelyn Cruz) must come to terms with her own choices and decide if she can support her husband as opposition mounts against him. Comedian Paul Rodriguez also stars as Virgil with James Russo as Pastor Gil. 
Check out the Dove Foundation's review of Voiceless. It has been given four out of five doves with a caution for content. And be sure to watch the movie trailer of Voiceless.

Voiceless was made to engage the church,” said producer Stuart Migdon. “We believe our film artfully presents the issue in a way that pro-life supporters can rally behind without alienating pro-choice viewers before they’ve had a chance to contemplate our story.”
Image result for voiceless movie
My thoughts: The movie was compelling and moving. It presented a man divided, a marriage divided, a church divided and a community divided - all along the lines of protecting women. Free choice is a controversial topic and this movie handles it all very well. I was impressed by the acting, the approach and the ending. I would definitely recommend people watching this movie. I also agree with the caution given by the Dove Foundation - this is not a movie for young children. I would even have a hard time recommending it to some teens. It would depend on the level of conversation and discussions you've reached with your teens. There are more topics revealed in this movie than just abortion. Parents, be sure to preview it first.

The only issue I have with the movie is the pacing. It moved at a snail's pace. Maybe it won't affect the moviegoers in the theater as much, but definitely the ones who choose to watch it on DVD someday. Sitting on a couch in your own home there will be many tempted to turn it off. This is unfortunate because the ending is so important to the discussion.

As well, the overall cinematic feel was dark and dingy. A little light along with the Light presented would have been nice.

Despite these last two comments, I hope you give Voiceless a chance. Go watch Voiceless. One man.  One fight. The ultimate sacrifice.


Thanks to Icon media and The Voiceless movie for the chance to review this movie. These thoughts are my honest opinion.