When Through Deep Waters by Rachelle Dekker Review

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Synopsis:

Alicen McCaffrey finally has the life her mother always dreamed for her: beautiful home in Santa Monica, successful husband, adorable daughter. Then tragedy blows her carefully assembled facade to pieces. Worse yet–Alicen feels solely responsible. At rock bottom, she decides to accompany a childhood friend back to Red Lodge, Montana, where they spent summers together as kids.

The peaceful mountain landscape, accented with lush forests and small-town charm, brings back happy memories of time spent with her beloved, eccentric Grandma Josephine. Alicen begins to hope that perhaps things could be different here. Perhaps the oppressive guilt will lift–if only for a moment.

But when Alicen starts hearing voices and seeing mysterious figures near the river in the woods, she begins to fear she’s completely lost her sanity, as it’s rumored her grandmother did. Or might there be more to Red Lodge than meets the eye? Could the voices and visions be real–and her only means of finding the healing she so desperately needs? Or will they prove to be her final undoing?

My Thoughts:

This is a difficult book to review because I have many mixed feelings about it. I didn’t really know what to expect when I started reading it, based on the synopsis and it was definitely different than anything I’ve read before.

It almost felt like the author was adding elements of magical realism to the story and trying to fit them into the story of salvation but to me, it didn’t quite work. The theology behind some of the things said and seen in the story just didn’t make sense. I’m not a fan of magical realism/paranormal aspects so this probably had a lot to do with my feelings towards the book.

I liked the character of Alicen and felt that her grieving process seemed very realistic. I also found the descriptions of how depression felt as very accurate. I also loved the friendship she shared with Louise and the support she received from her.

The story moved very fast and I found myself flying through the pages. Unfortunately, I just felt like some elements of the story were confusing and a bit strange. It wasn’t the book for me.

My Rating: 2.5 stars

I received this book from the publisher to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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The Empowered by Craig Parshall Review

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Synopsis: Just when a mysterious death in Washington, DC, appears to have voodoo connections rooted in New Orleans, Trevor Black also receives an invitation to speak at the national ABA convention in the city.

He knows he’ll be in enemy territory, both as a disbarred attorney and as a follower of Jesus, but he determines to travel there and confront the supernatural element. Right after a grisly murder in his hotel room puts him on the suspect list, his daughter disappears, leaving a note that suggests a connection to the local cult religion. Now Trevor must not only crack the case but try to protect Heather from forces of darkness clutching at her soul as well. And just as he discovers that his ability to sniff out the supernatural has its limitations, Trevor learns that this web of evil extends far beyond isolated murders, enslaving scores of innocent children, with its head perhaps linked to the highest seats of power.

My Thoughts: Books about spiritual warfare and the invisible war that wages around us always fascinate me. This book follows Trevor Black, a former lawyer who can see past the invisible veil…he sees demons and is attuned to the demonic forces surrounding him. He is called by a former coworker to investigate a suspicious death which leads him to discover something very sinister behind everything.

This book was very fast paced and exciting. The reader is taken from North Carolina to New Orleans to Washington DC and meets many colorful characters. Although there are a lot of characters in this book, it was fairly easy to keep track of who was who.

The writing is very atmospheric. At one point, I was on a boat in a New Orleans bayou and I could almost hear the sounds and fear that a gator would attack.

I truly believe in the battle of good and evil and appreciate that Craig Parshall writes about the subject. I will definitely pick up more books by him. This is book 2 in the Trevor Black series but it works as a standalone. I enjoyed it more than the first book, The Occupied…read my review of it Here.

My Rating: 4.5 stars

I received this book from Tyndale House to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Coldwater by Samuel Parker Review

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Synopsis: Having forfeited his youth to the state prison system, Michael moved back to the only home he’d ever known. An empty shell of a man who now lived–if it could be called living–in the still vacant house of his parents in a town with one stoplight. A town that hated him. Had always hated him. And was ready to pick up where the prison system had let off.

Now he’s on the run from men who’ve tried to kill him once; but Michael is more than an ex-con. A powerful, sinister force creeps inside him, threatening and destructive. Who–and what–it will destroy next is the only real question. From the bold voice that brought readers down Purgatory Road comes a new pulse-pounding, spine-rattling tale of vengeance and justice that will have them up all night.

My Thoughts: The first chapter of this book is possibly one of the most anxiety-provoking and stressful scenes that I’ve read in a book, ever! I am extremely claustrophobic and the thought of that scene as it’s very vividly described by the author sent chills down my body and almost caused me to stop reading because of the intensity of the scene. This is a testament to how great Samuel Parker’s writing is.

Parker is very good at showing the reader things through the character’s eyes instead of narrating it and “telling” it. The scenes were all very descriptive and I found myself on the edge of my seat, trying to figure out what was truly going on in the story.

This is the kind of story that is best experienced by knowing very little about the plot. This makes the revelations more interesting.

I found the story to be a great thriller but not such a great novel as far as the Christian aspect goes. There were definitely supernatural elements at play but I was very disappointed to only truly see the “evil” side of things. The “good” never showed up and I feel like a great opportunity was missed. I was pleased to find that the content was very clean and lacked cursing and graphic scenes. There were some scenes of violence but the author left a lot to the reader’s imagination instead of getting too graphic.

Overall, I found this to be an exciting read but would have liked more faith content.

My Rating: 4 stars

I received this book from Baker Publishing Group to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Christmas Gate 2 by T.A. Cline Review

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Synopsis: “I became paralyzed with fear. Tears started to run down my cheeks as I sat motionless on the bed facing the locked door.”

Patty had slowly opened up to Bob. She thinks she might be falling in love with him. Even so, he has gone back to New York, and she has not heard from him in two weeks. It is another loss for her. First, her mother died when she was young, and then her husband, Matt, was killed in Afghanistan. She has lost all that were close to her. All but her dad and he is her rock. He is the one that gives her strength.

In, The Christmas Gate 2, Patty’s life becomes like a roller coaster, with the ups and the downs. She loses, and then wins, only to lose again. Then Patty is rocked with an emotional bombshell. She tries to gather herself together, then only another heartbreak again.

She resigns herself to wait at the old farm house until Bob returns to her. She unleashes what Bob had uncovered during his earlier stay, and she too is taken on a journey that will bring to the surface the things she has buried deep inside her, things that she has forgotten, things she refuses to confront, and things that could eventually set her free. Patty and Bob’s story continues in, The Christmas Gate 2.

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed the first book, The Christmas Gate, so I was very excited when the author sent me the second book to read and review.

This book picks up right after the first one ended but is told from Patty’s point of view. Patty has been through a lot and goes through a lot in this book. At the risk of mentioning spoilers, I will stop describing here 😉

There were some moments in this book that really surprised me and I had no idea how the author was going to “fix” the situations. I found the story very clever and sweet.

I really liked Patty, and getting to know her better in this book. She’s a tough gal on the outside but the reader discovers that she is still dealing with some hurt and frustration issues.

I read this book in one sitting and enjoyed it just as much as the first one. I would definitely recommend it.

My Rating: 4 stars

I received this book from the author to read and review. All opinions are my own.

The Christmas Gate by T.A. Cline Review

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Synopsis: Robert Robinson, a renown author from New York City, is traveling unwillingly through a snow storm on his way to a small farm in upstate New York owned by his editor. Robert’s fame from the success of his books has changed him. His indulgence in big-city parties and being in the spotlight has allowed his arrogance to swell and for him to lose focus of his obligations. Now, being excessively late on the third book of a three book contract, he is given an ultimatum. He can either face legal action from his publisher or take one last chance to finish his book away from all the big-city distractions.

Patty has her own issues, dealing with the memories of her late husband. Always at the edge of depression, she somehow remains visibly strong and in control of her emotions, despite her internal turmoil. While Patty’s father is away to be with a dying friend, she assumes the responsibility of caring for the old farm owned by the New York editor.

Robert is oblivious to Christmas and all that goes along with it. His parents loved Christmas, but he hadn’t spoken with them in over eight years after their argument. Over the years, he has slowly disconnected from everything that reminded him of them. Christmas just became a day for a bigger party.

While at the old farm house, Robert discovers something that has been hidden there for possibly generations. What secrets lay just beyond an old screeching gate? Will the miracle of Christmas find its way to Robert? Find out in the story, “The Christmas Gate.”

My Thoughts: This is a great story for the Christmas season. So many times, I’ve picked up Christmas books but found that they had nothing to do with the holiday. This book has several Christmas scenes that really set the mood for the Christmas season.

The story is similar to a Christmas Carol as the main character learns lessons by the way of supernatural experiences. Robert, the main character develops greatly through the story and goes from an unlikable person to someone who is very endearing.

I loved the setting of the story…it takes place in an old farmhouse in New York in the snow. The author was good at describing the home in a way that made me feel like I was there.

The different scenes that take place in the book are very relevant to our world today and caused me to analyze how I approach Christmas…it’s important not to lose Christ when celebrating His holiday.

I definitely recommend this Christmas story and look forward to reading book 2, which is being released soon!

My Rating: 4 stars

I received a copy of this book from the author to review.

The Delusion by Laura Gallier Review

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Synopsis: By March of Owen Edmonds’s senior year, eleven students at Masonville High School have committed suicide. Amid the media frenzy and chaos, Owen tries to remain levelheaded–until he endures his own near-death experience and wakes to a distressing new reality.

The people around him suddenly appear to be shackled and enslaved.

Owen frantically seeks a cure for what he thinks are crazed hallucinations, but his delusions become even more sinister. An army of hideous, towering beings, unseen by anyone but Owen, are preying on his girlfriend and classmates, provoking them to self-destruction.

Owen eventually arrives at a mind-bending conclusion: he’s not imagining the evil–everyone else is blind to its reality. He must warn and rescue those he loves . . . but this proves to be no simple mission. Will he be able to convince anyone to believe him before it’s too late?

Owen’s heart-pounding journey through truth and delusion will force him to reconsider everything he believes. He both longs for and fears the answers to questions that are quickly becoming too dangerous to ignore.

My Thoughts: I’m sitting here, trying to decide what adjective to use to begin this review. I want to give this book the credit and recognition it deserves. Amazing doesn’t seem like a “good enough” word to describe this book….

This book provides a visual picture of spiritual warfare…the invisible battle that wages each and every moment of every day around every person on Earth between the dark and light forces. I have never read a book that described this battle in such a clear way. There were moments that I had to put the book down and ponder what I had just read. There were moments when I got goosebumps, thinking about this war that is real but not seen by human eyes. I was on the edge of my seat throughout, flying through the pages, but nervous to see what was ahead.

This was a life-changing book for me. It changes the way I look at prayer and interceding for people with prayer, it showed how truly important prayer is in a very cool way.

The story shows how demonic forces can oppress Christians and possess non-Christians. There were some terrifying scenes that are more terrifying when you realize that this book, although fictional, is based on Biblical truths.

The book is a young adult story, focused around teenagers but would definitely be a good read for teens as well as adults. Because of the difficult and gritty content, I would recommend that it not be read by anyone under the age of 16.

My only problem is that it ended on a slight cliffhanger and I need more of the story! I am eagerly awaiting book 2. I highly recommend this book, it is my top rated book of 2017 so far.

My Rating: 5 stars

I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers to review.

Invitation: Harbingers Cycle One by Bill Myers, Frank Peretti, Angela Hunt, and Alton Gansky Review

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Synopsis: Four Bestselling Authors Team Up for Thrilling Supernatural Suspense – Gathering four stories from four bestselling author friends, Invitation is the first collection in the ongoing Harbingers series.

In “The Call” by Bill Myers, four strangers are drawn together to help a student at the mysterious Institute for Advanced Psychic Studies. His gifts are supposedly being honed to assist world leaders . . . but there are some very disturbing strings attached.

Frank Peretti’s “The Haunted” confronts a supernatural mystery, a case of murder, and an exploration into the darkness of the human heart, all centering around a mysterious house.

In Angela Hunt’s “The Sentinels,” animals around the world are mysteriously dying. What could it mean? When the tragedy begins to touch Andi’s dreams, she discovers a terrifying theory.

“The Girl” by Alton Gansky is a gripping tale of a young barefoot girl found holding a scroll in the snowy Oregon mountains. She is sweet, innocent–apparently not of this world–and something wants to kill her.

My Thoughts: This is an interesting bind up of 4 novellas, each written by a different author but in stories that are connected to each other (each author narrating one of the 4 main characters in the book). It is presented like a television series with new “episodes” and at this point, there have been 18 novellas written for the series. Because of this, each story is left open-ended, which I don’t like. I’m not a fan of long book series’ so I’m not sure if I’ll continue.

Each story was enjoyable but I think my favorite was The Call by Bill Myers, told by Brenda, a tattoo artist. Each character has a special gift and they are brought together in each story to solve a problem.

The characters all had their own voice (a benefit of having 4 different authors writing each character). They were all different and well-rounded, they also had interesting background stories.

I found the overall story line of spiritual warfare interesting but struggled with the theology of some of the things that happened. When this occurred, I reminded myself that it was fictional, but I do tend to hold Christian Fiction at a higher standard than secular fiction when it comes to the lesson that is learned. Throughout the book, there weren’t really any lessons learned, which I didn’t care for.

Overall, this book was enjoyable but not something that I would read again.

My Rating: 3 and a half stars

I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.