Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Where Hope Starts by Angela D. Meyer

Karen Marino’s life is a nightmare. The New York City restaurant manager is a professional success, but her marriage is in shambles. When her husband, Barry shows up drunk at her restaurant, she loses both.

She flees The Big Apple and returns to her Midwestern home to sort through her options. But instead of answers, she finds an old boyfriend ready to rekindle romance, a family full of secrets, and an angry brother bent on revenge.

Karen wants to do the right thing, but how do you forgive someone when you don’t feel like it? As she searches for the answer, she uncovers the family secret that threatens to tear them all apart. Can she find her way back to the place Where Hope Starts?

My Review:
A lot happens in this Christian novel. The protagonist, Karen Marino, goes through a rough season of life. Even though several friends urge her to turn to God, she steadfastly refuses to believe that God could be interested in helping her. (After all, He never has.) She loses her job, her marriage is in shreds, she's tempted by her former boyfriend, she's estranged from her family, and her mother is dying. Obviously, she needs help.

The author tackles some tough issues: control of temper, pornography addiction, alcoholism, spousal abuse, infidelity, and inability to forgive to name a few. It's interesting to see how the characters wrestle with these issues and untangle their lives.

I especially liked Karen's struggle to forgive the people who wronged her. (How do you forgive someone when you don’t feel like it?) Forgiveness is taught in this novel.

However, the writing is somewhat choppy; scenes change without supplying details that need to be told. Loose ends tie up too easily.

Thank you to FirstWildCard and Cross River Media for my copy.

And now, the first chapter:AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Come home.

Karen Marino choked back a cry as she stared at the words scribbled on the front of the envelope. She slid her fingernail under the flap and gaped at the plane ticket nestled inside a letter. Why now? She gritted her teeth. Heat flushed from her neck to the top of her head as she remembered the look of disgust on her father’s face.

The clash of pans in the restaurant kitchen startled her back to the present. “What the...?”

She glanced at her watch. Almost eleven. She slid the ticket and letter back inside the envelope and tucked it into her purse. She took a deep breath before stepping out of her office.

“Steve, how does the schedule look?” Karen hired him straight out of culinary school. His lack of experience paled next to his talent, and within a year his specialties had drawn in customers from all over New York City’s five boroughs, earning the restaurant a five-star reputation.

“Perfect, my love.” He crossed his arms and smiled. “Now, when are you going to marry me?”

She laughed. “Your mother would be disappointed. I have more red hair than Irish blood.” She enjoyed the attention her hair brought in The City, where she no longer stood out like an apple on an orange tree.

“My ma would love you anyway.” Steve placed his hand over his heart.

She shook her head and waved him back to work, then strode through the kitchen inspecting the line cooks as they prepped for the noon rush. “Be sure and clean up as you go....No, not that dish. Use the glass one. And keep a towel nearby.…How long have you worked here?…Don’t wipe your hands on your apron.”

She stopped. “Jimmy,” she yelled above the din of the kitchen. Her voice carried to the break room where the young man sauntered out with a donut in one hand and a coffee cup in the other.


She glared at him. “What’s with all these dirty pots and pans?”

The guy shrugged. “Had somewhere to be last night, so I saved them.”

“Get rid of that donut now and finish your job in the next half hour, or you’re fired, no matter who your cousin is.”

He threw the donut and coffee in the trash can and plodded off to his station.



“You okay?” Her assistant manager, Cathy, raised an eyebrow.

“Sorry, didn’t mean to snap.” Karen took a deep breath. “Is the dining room ready?”

“No problems there. But…” Cathy glanced over her shoulder. “Barry’s at the bar.”

“Not with the new owner coming in.” Karen clenched her fists. If she talked to her husband now she would lose her cool. “Did you tell him I was busy?”

“Yes. But, he’s got that look.”

Karen rolled her eyes. That meant another of Barry’s money-making ideas. Ideas didn’t pay the rent. “I better go talk to him.”

Barry grinned as she approached and she paused at the sight of his dark wavy hair and strong jaw line. If life were a photo, he would take her breath away. But once you added sound and action, that fantasy vanished.

She bit her lip. A part of her longed for what they used to have. How does a man change so much? He used to lead people. Now he controlled them, like the other night. Karen shuddered, then closed the gap between them. “We’re about to open. You need to go. We can talk tonight.”

“Like all those other times? Please.” He leaned against the bar.

“I said, we’ll talk.”

Barry slid off the bar stool. Although he stood only a few inches taller than her five foot seven frame and didn’t work out enough to have an impressive build, he carried himself with a bravado that demanded attention. “We’ll talk now. You’ll like this idea. It’s a chance to get in on the ground floor of a start-up company.”

Karen caught a whiff of liquor on his breath. “A little early to be drinking, don’t you think?”

“Don’t change the subject.” He banged his fist on the bar.

She jumped. His eyes grew dark. She backed away, her eyes frozen on his hands. “You need to leave. Now.”

“Why?” Barry’s voice grew louder.

“So I won’t lose my job.” The new owner was a powerful man. Barry could blow it for her.

“Miss Indispensable? Lose her job?” His empty laugh bounced around the deserted room.

“Please.” Karen reigned in her hostility.

“I will do as I please.” He took a step toward her.

“If you hope to get your hands on my money, try honey not vinegar.” She crossed her arms and stared at him.

“What are you talking about?”

“This approach will not get you what you want.”

He looked behind her and backed away. “Yeah, maybe we should talk tonight.”

Karen wrinkled her brow. What’s got into him now? She turned. The new owner walked toward her. He reminded her of Danny Devito. Short, stout, and balding. Add a bit of swagger to his walk and you would have her new boss. She groaned. Glancing Barry’s direction she saw him leave through the kitchen. I hope he didn’t just cost me my job.

She turned to face the man. She mustered a smile and extended her hand. “Karen Marino. You must be Mr. Simon.”

The man stared at her. “You’re fired.” He smiled like a kid who just lifted a trinket from the store and got away with it.

“You can’t do that.” Her throat closed up. Breathe.

“I own this place, I can and will clean house as I see fit.”

His reputation was well earned. She forced herself to unclench her hands. “I built this restaurant into what it is today.”

“There’s no place in any of my restaurants for what I just witnessed. Home stays at home.”

“You’d get rid of me for one incident?”

“It’s not just one incident.”

She bit her tongue and glared at the man. Who talked?

“Leave now. Come back and clear out your desk after lunch.”

“Fine, I don’t need you or your restaurant. I have my reputation.” She regretted the words as soon as she said them.

“When I’m done, you won’t have a reputation.”

She turned and fled to her office. A man that powerful didn’t make idle threats. She grabbed her purse, squared her shoulders, and marched through the kitchen. She would not be shamed out of here. She did nothing wrong.

Her assistant manager barked orders at the staff. The new owner smiled while he watched. So Cathy betrayed me. An old pain grabbed at Karen’s heart. Why do people turn on me?

Letting the door slam on her way out, she rushed into the flow of human traffic. The wall of buildings hid the breadth of the sky and pressed in around her. Exhaust fumes mingled with the aroma of pizza from a nearby kiosk. She jumped when a taxi blared its horn. Two people shoved each other to get in, arguing over appointments. She picked up her pace, needing to escape the surroundings that for the last fifteen years had made her feel so alive. An image of the family orchard in Missouri filled her heart.

Her past caught up to her present and the old emotions, released from their prison, pinballed around inside her. She ducked into a nearby alley and leaned against the wall. Pressing her hands against the wall, she took several calming breaths against the tears welling up in her chest. She needed to think, not cry.

She pressed her fingertips against her eyes. I don’t want to go back to the apartment yet, and I don’t have an office anymore. Where can I go? She fought the desire to throw things and stomp her feet. She would not lose control.

Something brushed against her elbow and she jerked away. A pungent odor assaulted her nose as a man in a tattered jacket stepped closer.

“Some money for food?” He reached out his hands.

She pushed the man away and tucked her purse close to her body as she stumbled out of the alley and hurried away. Her thoughts latched onto her husband and the impossibility of the situation. Lost in a daze she walked several blocks before her stomach growled, reminding her of the time. She paused and looked around. Carnegie Deli looked like a good choice. Crossing the street, she stood in line for her turn, anxious for the line to move, yet longing for a slower pace.

Pressure built up in her right eye and tension grew between her shoulders. She dug through her purse for some pain reliever and popped two in her mouth.


She looked up at the man behind the counter. “Uh, I’m not sure, what—”

“I’ll take a Woody Allen and a coffee.” A construction worker shouldered his way past Karen, slapping some bills on the counter.

Karen glared at him, then raised her voice above the next person trying to steal her place in line. “Give me a Woody Allen, too.”

Within minutes her order sat next to the construction worker’s sandwich. She grabbed her plate and cup of coffee, and turned to find a seat in the crowded dining room. From across the room, she saw two women get up from their table. She rushed to grab one of the empty chair.

She settled in to her seat and thought of the first time she came here. She was on a blind date, and he wanted to share his favorite place to eat. Crowded elbow to elbow with strangers at the shared table, it was not exactly romantic, but the food was delicious and plentiful. Her sandwich was piled so high with meat she ate for several days off of the leftovers.

Now, the deli gave her the anonymity she needed.

Cradling the coffee mug in her hands, she allowed the heat to calm her nerves. The day had not gone the way she planned. Lately, not much had. She rubbed her temples then scooted her plate forward to make room for her note pad. Avoiding the glares of her table mates, she pulled out a pen and began to list her options.

Find a job. In this economy? Right.

Barry find a job. She laughed.

Dip into her savings. She ripped the paper off the pad and wadded it up. Not again. That money was for the future.

Her head pounded as she fought back the tears. Barry’s scheme might be all they had. Maybe not.

She reached into her pocket and pulled out the letter. Karen remembered how special it felt to be a daughter of Charles and Annibel Hannigan. They were well respected in the community and at church, and then everything changed.

What’s so important that they want me to come home now? She laid the ticket aside and unfolded the letter.

Dear Karen,

Please come home. Your mother is dying and she needs to see you. She needs to know you understand. You need to hear what she has to say.

We are both sorry for the past and ask your forgiveness. I’ve enclosed a plane ticket. Change the date to what works best.

Love, Dad

Her hands trembled as she held the letter. Mom’s dying?

She laid the letter down and leaned her head onto her hands. She lost their favor with no explanation, and now they offered it to her again on a silver platter. It felt fake. What had she done to lose their favor in the first place? She wiped at tears she couldn’t stop. Did they think an apology could make up for everything?

“Hey lady, if you’re done, why don’t you move on. There’s folks waiting for a seat.”

Looking the bus boy directly in the eye, she reached for her sandwich and took a bite. He waved at her in dismissal and went back to work.

She glanced out the window as a mother bent down to look her child in the eye. She pointed at a large bulldozer across the street. The little boy smiled, looked back at her and nodded. They hugged. She grabbed his hand and continued walking.

She and her mother used to have a relationship like that. Carrying on like they were the only two people in the world. She looked away. Maybe going home wasn’t a viable option either.

She bit her lip. Am I supposed to just forgive them? How could they ask that of her? She hit the table with her fist and the coffee mug jumped, spilling onto the letter.

“Hey, watch it!” The man next to her grabbed his paper and picked it up ahead of the offending liquid.

“Sorry.” She grabbed some napkins and sopped up the mess. Blowing out a hard breath and tapping her fingers on the table, she checked her phone for the time before dialing her best friend.

Megan and Robert Fletcher reserved a table every Tuesday night at the restaurant Karen managed. Over time she became friends with Megan despite her penchant for religion. She always listened and gave good feedback.

And she’s the only person I trust.

Karen wouldn’t get the same attentive ear once Megan and Robert had their baby. The call went straight to voice mail, so she left a message. Megan must be at the women’s shelter she managed.

Karen picked up the letter and airline ticket and stuffed them in her purse. A walk might help her think better. Catching the waitress’ attention, she asked for a to-go bag.

Back on the street, her mind quickly turned to what her lack of employment meant for her life. Stay in New York and try to find another job without a reference. Give Barry’s scheme a chance. Or go home.

She cringed at all of those options. Like it or not, she had to consider them or maybe…her steps faltered as she did some quick mental calculations.

It would be risky and Barry wouldn’t like it, but she didn’t care. She quickened her step. She needed to stop by the bank.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Greetings from the Flipside by Rene Gutteridge, Cheryl McKay

Hope Landon has been rewriting other people's greeting cards since she was six years old -- there's always a funnier caption. She's all set to chase those creative dreams with her musician fiance in New York City until he leaves Hope at the altar, deciding he must not really love this girl if he can't write a song for her. That may give her something to write about . . .

Hope disappears alone on what was supposed to be the couple's month long honeymoon. Upon returning she learns of her funeral -- everyone in her life concluded Hope must have killed herself after being jilted. Needing a fresh start more than ever, she heads for the Big Apple only to discover it's not that easy to rent a place when you've been declared dead.

Taking shelter at the YWCA, Hope soon lands a job at a Christian inspirational greeting card company as an assistant to Jake, a guy who shut down his organization's humor department. She has lost her faith in love; he needs to find something or someone that will make him laugh.

Is there anything in the cards for these two?

My Review:
This is a frame story, or rather a story within a story. More accurately, it's a coma within a coma. Let me explain. The protagonist, Hope Landon, experiences the worst day of her life when she is first left at the altar, then knocked unconscious, and finally falls into a coma. Her doctor and nurse warn Hope's visitors that those in a coma hear what is being said. This only seems to encourage her "current-decade challenged" mother to frequently LOUDLY pray by reciting all of the negative things that make up Hope's sorry life. The town florist, Jake, has had a crush on Hope ever since elementary school, and he witnessed her tragic injury. He visits and brings a more positive voice into Hope's life.

The reader gets to experience Hope's coma by reading "GREETINGS FROM MY LIFE" sections which run concurrent with the storyline. We see how words and Coma Arousal Therapy translate to help or hinder. This is a humorous, light-hearted read. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Discussion questions included.

Thank you to Bonnie at Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and B&H Books for my copy.

If you would like to read the first chapter, click here.

If you would like to buy a copy, click here.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Before-You-Marry Book of Questions by Bill and Pam Farrel

From Bill and Pam Farrel, bestselling authors of Men Are Like Waffles— Women Are Like Spaghetti and Red-Hot Monogamy, comes a new book especially for dating and engaged couples.

Filled with their trademark wisdom, humor, and insight, The Before-You-Marry Book of Questions will help couples:

  • delight in their differences
  • plan their financial future
  • sort through family obstacles
  • lay a strong foundation for a marriage that goes the distance
  • give their marriage to God
With “his and hers” quizzes and ideas for dates where couples can talk openly and freely about their relationship and future, The Before You Marry Book of Questions is a practical and essential guide for any couple building a life together.

My Review:
The Farrels did it again! This husband/wife marital expert team have produced an excellent book that should be mandated for every couple seriously dating, thinking of becoming engaged, or married.  Their marital stability will have a firmer foundation after sharing this study.

Chapter titles reveal how fully the material is covered:
  • Are You Ready for Love?
  • Do We Have a Strong Enough Friendship?
  • Are We Compatible?
  • Are We Making Progress?
  • Can We Handle Our Families?
  • How Is Our Emotional Fitness?
  • How Will You Propose?
  • What Will Our Wedding Day Be Like?
This is an interactive book. There are charts, thought-provoking questions, anecdotes, jokes, and challenges. At the end of every chapter is a section titled, "Date to Discover." Dates are suggested to help couples grow together.

I especially liked the part where the authors divulged their story.

Thank you to Christianne Debysingh at Harvest House Publishers for my copy.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Heart Failure by Richard Mabry

When her fiancé’s dangerous secrets turn her work upside down, a beautiful doctor must choose between her own safety and the man she loves—and thought she knew.

Dr. Carrie Markham’s heart was broken by the death of her husband two years ago. Now, just as her medical practice is taking off, her fresh engagement to paralegal Adam Davidson seems almost too good to be true . . . until a drive-by shooting leaves Carrie on the floor of his car with glass falling around her.

When he confesses that Adam isn’t his real name and that he fled the witness protection program, Carrie is left with an impossible choice: should she abandon the fiancé she isn’t sure she really knows, or accept his claim of innocence and help him fight back against this faceless menace?

While Carrie struggles to decide whether to follow her heart or her head, the threats against them continue to escalate. Her life—as well as Adam’s—depends on making the right choice . . . and the clock is ticking.

My Review:
I enjoyed this Christian fiction suspense novel. The characters are believable, and the plot is fast-paced. There's just enough connection between Carrie and Adam for those who would choose a romance novel. Suspense kept this reader turning the pages. I finished the book in two days. The ending came as a surprise to me.

The fact that the author is a physician helps the medical parts come alive. I liked learning medical school tidbits like "When you hear hoof beats, think horses, not zebras" (137) when diagnosing a patient. I know that I'm not fully explaining it here, but when you get the book, you'll see for yourself the wisdom in this statement.

The book is almost perfect. The second paragraph on page 114, Carrie has a "d" on the end of her name. A simple mistake, but a jarring one.

Nonetheless, I highly recommend this book. Includes Reading Group Guide.

Thank you to Booksneeze and Thomas Nelson Publishing for my copy.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Our God Comes by AntiochLive

This CD is a passionate and thrilling worship captured at Antioch Community Church in Waco, TX.

The worship music and lyrics express the heart cry, prayers and joy of the worship team, songwriters, and musicians from Antioch, led by James Mark Gulley. From the opening strains of audience approval, joyous praise and worship floods the listeners’ ears and ageless unchanging truths find a new sound for today!

The 72-minute, live recording was produced by James Mark Gulley and assistant Owen Wible, recorded by Randy Adams and mastered at Marcussen Mastering in Hollywood, CA by Stephen Marcussen. Featuring songwriters James Mark Gulley, Stephen Gulley, Brandon Seibert, Thomas Wilson and Johanna Six, OUR GOD COMES also features worship leaders James Mark Gulley, Stephen Gulley, Johanna Six and Clare Berlinsky.

The full track listing is as follows:

  • Come
  • God And King
  • Wonderful Counselor
  • God Who Saves
  • How Much More
  • I Will Raise
  • …Response
  • Light Me Up
  • Awaken Us
  • One Hundred Three
  • …Return
  • Savior Forever
  • …Selah
  • Our God Comes

My Review:
Here is today's worship music. Lyrics are clear and easy to learn so that the listener will soon find himself singing along and worshiping God. (Of course, lyrics are included.) It truly is interactive music. I especially connected to "How Much More."

With a strong beat and powerful lyrics, it's no surprise that this contemporary Christian CD debuted at #2 on iTunes.

If you like up-to-date praise music, this CD is for you!

Thank you to Rick Roberson at The BandB Media Group for my copy.

You may preview this CD here.

You may purchase this CD here.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Dark Justice by Brandilyn Collins

If I’d had any idea what those words would mean to me, to my mother and daughter, I’d have fled California without looking back.

While driving a rural road, Hannah Shire and her aging mother, who suffers from dementia, stop to help a man at the scene of a car accident. The man whispers mysterious words in Hannah’s ear. Soon people want to kill Hannah and her mother for what they “know.” Even law enforcement may be involved.

The two women must flee for their lives. But how does Hannah hide her confused mother? Carol just wants to listen to her pop music, wear her favorite purple hat, and go home. And if they turn to Hannah’s twenty-seven-year-old daughter, Emily, for help, will she fall into danger as well?

Pressed on all sides, Hannah must keep all three generations of women in her family alive. Only then does she learn the threat is not just to her loved ones, but the entire country . . .

My Review:
What a good read! The plot moves at a brisk pace, the characters are well-written and flawed enough to be quite believable. I especially liked the character of Carol, the eighty-two-year-old mother of Hannah Shire, who suffers from dementia. She can be pushed only so far. When she gets frustrated and begins her high-pitched scream, I can almost hear her!

The story is told by Hannah in a first-person account. This keeps the reader informed and flipping those pages as quickly as they're read. Interspersed throughout the novel is the transcript of an investigation of the terrorist activity. Therefore, the reader understands what the good guys are doing while Hannah struggles with her newly complicated life. Third-person point of view is used for the bad guys, allowing the reader to "be a fly on the wall" during those scenes. All of these writing techniques add up to create one terrific, fast-paced novel.

The big question is: "who are the Bad Guys?" and "who can Hannah trust if anyone?" The author holds this information until the very dramatic and surprising end. I give this one a five-star rating.

Thank you to Bonnie at Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and BH Publishing for my copy.

If you would like to read the first chapter, click here.

If you would like to buy a copy, click here.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Tickled Pink: Class Reunion Series by Debby Mayne

Class Reunion Series, Book 3

Priscilla Slater shows up at her twenty-year reunion as a national celebrity. Her hair salon dynasty has skyrocketed, and to top it off, she has her own line of hair products. She has become a huge success with the “Ms. Prissy Big Hair” line that lets women with the thinnest of locks get the coveted “big hair” look so popular in the South.

Her classmates have finally come to terms with adulthood, but they’re handling it with the grace of a Southern woman wearing white after Labor Day. It’s just downright awkward! Asserting the maturity that her classmates have often lacked, Priscilla holds her head high.

But she can’t ignore everything. When she catches her mother in the arms of her former high school principal, Priscilla can’t get out of town fast enough. Eager to get back to her more comfortable life, Priscilla runs head on into an ultimatum: Tim tells her they’re not getting any younger—as if she has to be reminded.

My Review:
Although this is the third book in the Class Reunion Series, it's the first one I've read. Even though I'd not read the first two, I found the plot easy to follow. I enjoyed Tickled Pink so much that I plan to go back and read the first two: Pretty is as Pretty Does and Bless Her Heart.

Characters are well written such that they sound like real people I'd enjoy knowing. They have flaws--just as we all do. Each chapter is titled with the name of one of five characters--Priscilla Slater, Laura Moss, Tim Puckett, Trudy Baynard, and Celeste Boudreaux Shackleford. They rotate and tell the story in first-person point of view. All five characters are involved in the twenty-year high school reunion, and their situations ring true to life.

Dialog from characters in Mississippi is spot on. Scenes in the beauty salon and TV production studio is informative.

Discussion questions are included. Folks, I highly recommend this chick-lit!

Thank you to Bonnie at Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and Abingdon Press for my copy.

If you would like to buy a copy, click here or on each title of the first two books in the series.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Despite Doubt: Embracing a Confident Faith by Michael Wittmer

In a world that says faith is all about taking risks—leaping into uncharted territory and expecting everything to be okay—many Christians struggle with the concept of walking by faith. How can you have confidence in God and follow His will when everyone around you is placing so much emphasis on doubt and the unknown as the driving force of faith? In Despite Doubt, Michael E. Wittmer reexamines this popular viewpoint and encourages you to get a clear understanding of your assurance in God and your salvation. Wittmer says, “Doubt is not the fuel of faith. Scripture repeatedly presents faith as our reliance upon what we know. Faith begins when we know the facts about God and His great salvation.”

You’ll find wisdom from the Word and practical examples to help you develop a freeing perspective on doubt that opens the door to asking questions, finding answers, and gaining knowledge about securing your trust in God. Take a look at the flipside of doubt and discover how much you already know about God and how you can embrace a confident faith. Despite Doubt includes questions for reflection and discussion and is excellent for both individual and small group study.

My Review:
The author is a seminary professor, and he has laid out this informative book in such a way that it can be easily read and understood. Written for believers who doubt--even a tiny bit--this study will strengthen faith.

As a believer who sometimes questions how to know the will of God, I especially enjoyed chapters 18 and 19: "Command" and "Call." Here, the author uses life lessons to illustrate biblical truths. I've never before had the answer explained quite so clearly.

This little book carries a ton of truth. I recommend it!

The book includes three study questions for each of the twenty-three chapters that I think would be useful in a small group setting.

Thank you to Anne Bauman at Discovery House Publishers for my copy.

Compass: The Study Bible for Navigating Your Life by Ecclesia Bible Society

Compass is about helping you find the answers you’re looking for in the pages of the Scriptures and allowing that truth navigate your life. Packed with Bible-reading helps and using an energizing, new Bible translation, Compass is a Bible designed with you in mind.

Do you want to start reading and applying the Bible to your life, but aren’t quite sure where to start? Let Compass point you in the right direction.

Part of the Signature Series line of Thomas Nelson Bibles

Features include:

  • In-text notes that include cultural, historical, theological, and devotional thoughts
  • God’s Promises®—Thomas Nelson’s bestselling guide to Scripture for your every need
  • Book introductions
  • Reading plans for every day of the year
  • Topical Guides to Scripture and notes
  • In-text maps
My Review:
When I first held my copy of Compass, I was impressed with the heft of it. It's a substantial book, weighing over 2½ pounds. Secondly, I noticed the impressive gray cover done in smooth, imitation leather. It's quite attractive.

This book is meant to be read and studied. At the beginning of each book, the theme is presented along with an introduction informing the reader of the identity of the writer, the history behind the writing, and a brief glimpse of what to expect. To further assist study, themes are expanded with delineated material separated in a different color section. Maps are placed right where the reader might need them as well as in the back of the book. Notes explaining customs are found throughout. Italic type placed in the text brings out the nuance of the original language. Things that might be missed are brought to light.

I like the way the text is laid out such that who is speaking is clear--much like a script of a play. It becomes easy to understand. Reading flows.

All in all, I like this new study Bible. I can see it as a valuable tool for scholars and for those who know little about the things of God. It removes the anxiety of Bible study.

Thank you to Andrea Sanchez at Shelton Interactive and Thomas Nelson for my copy.