Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Tosca Lee's Iscariot ~ Reviewed

By Tosca Lee
Published by Howard Books
336 Pages
Back Cover:  Based on extensive research into the life and times of Judas Iscariot, this triumph of fiction storytelling by the author of Havah: The Story of Eve revisits one of biblical history’s most maligned figures and brings the world he inhabited vividly to life.

In Jesus, Judas believes he has found the One—the promised Messiah and future king of the Jews, destined to overthrow Roman rule. Galvanized, he joins the Nazarene’s followers, ready to enact the change he has waited for all his life. But soon Judas’s vision of a nation free from Rome is crushed by the inexplicable actions of the Nazarene himself, who will not bow to social or religious convention—who seems, in the end, to even turn against his own people. At last, Judas must confront the fact that the master he loves is not the liberator he hoped for, but a man bent on a drastically different agenda.

Iscariot is the story of Judas, from his tumultuous childhood to his emergence as the man known to the world as the betrayer of Jesus. But even more, it is a singular and surprising view into the life of Jesus that forces us to reexamine everything we thought we knew about the most famous—and infamous—religious icons in history.

Review:  Tosca Lee drops you on the streets of Capernaum, Jerusalem. You will see the sights, hear the sounds and live life through the mind and heart of Judas Iscariot. You’ll feel his pain, and despair as Roman armies rule in the land.
Your heart will ache as you read about his turbulent childhood and grieve with him about the horrific experiences as a grown man.

He was a devout Jew who was a keeper of the law and wanted to be a teacher of it. Tragedy strikes and he knows in his heart of hearts he will fail to live up to the standard set by the “law” he loved so much.

Judas was tormented by the law; this author did a brilliant job of showing the struggle everyone had following the “law”. I could see clearly how Jesus came to set us free of our bondage to the law! Hallelujah!

I’m thrilled to have received a review copy of this enlightening, gritty novel, rich in historical detail that helped bring the people and time period to life. This author soaked herself in over a hundred books, lectures, documentaries, commentaries, sermons, and collected articles even went to Israel to see firsthand where Jesus walked.

Tosca Lee wrote this novel through Judas eyes. This enabled me catch a glimpse of what Jesus ministry looked like through his disciple’s understanding. It also gave me a peek of the crowd Jesus spoke to filled with stalkers, followers and plotters. The stakes were high for the twelve but they felt it was worth the price to follow him.

This author takes her time in laying the ground work and having the reader experience Judas’ development of how he lived and thought. It was realistic and tragic. Judas agonized over Jesus’ situation as the crowds grew bigger, he became more popular and the awareness of the Pharisee and Sadducees’ plot to push Jesus into an offence they could kill him for. Judas felt Jesus didn’t see this happening as he spoke. Tosca captured the political unrest and what was happening around Jesus as he spoke.

Could Judas have been trying to protect Jesus? He felt he knew the law better than Jesus did? Could the religious leaders lead Judas down a path they knew he would take in order to protect his master, Jesus?

Tosca Lee has readers experience Jesus’ ministry through Judas eyes as one of the 12 chosen disciples. Judas felt peace around Jesus and grew to love him like the others. I like how she showed the disciples didn’t get Jesus and they were standing right next to him. He spoke in riddles they said.

Here’s a peek into Tosca’s novel. Jesus tells the man at the Siloam pool, take up your mat and walk. Judas thinks, “That day I understood, if I had not fully before, that Jesus was more than a mystery, more than unconventional, more than a faction able to unite some and divide others.

He was dangerous – to himself and to all of us who followed him…He was the gatherer of multitudes, this Jesus. A man of questioned birth, who claimed the Lord himself, was his father…and then he healed on the Sabbath in violation of God’s law. Man of contradictions! Didn’t he know that there were those who might seek his ruin for this?...He spoke in riddles. He was a riddle himself.”

Judas went on to say, “Our numbers grew. I was nervous because I knew Herod’s spies were everywhere. The Pharisees already conspired against us; soon Herod would come for my master as surely as he had for John the Baptist. We were running out of time…I was also elated because that meant soon the day would come. Jesus would have to proclaim himself- by Passover, I was certain.”

This is a book to be experienced. It will help you slip into the time period and feel Judas and the twelve disciples struggle. This is a haunting tale that helped me prepare my heart and mind for this years’ Easter Celebration. I’ve seen this story with fresh eyes as I went back to scripture and re-read these events, you will too.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent

Monday, July 29, 2013

Terri Blackstock's Truth Stained Lies ~ Reviewed

By Terri Blackstock
Published by Zondervan
305 Pages

Back Cover: 

When truth doesn't make sense, will lies prevail? Cathy Cramer is a former lawyer and investigative blogger who writes commentary on high-profile homicides. When she finds a threatening note warning her that she's about to experience the same kind of judgment and speculation that she dishes out in her blog, Cathy writes it off as mischief . . . until her brother's wife is murdered and all the 'facts' point to him. The killer has staged the crime to make the truth too far-fetched to believe. Working to solve the murder and clear her brother's name, Cathy and her two sisters, Holly and Juliet, moonlight as part-time private investigators. Juliet, a stay-at-home mom of two boys, and Holly, a scattered ne'er-do-well who drives a taxi, put aside their fear to hunt down the real killer. Stakes rise when their brother's grieving five-year-old son is kidnapped. As police focus on the wrong set of clues, the three sisters and their battered detective friend are the only hope for solving this bizarre crime, saving the child, and freeing their brother.


Terri Blackstock pens another eye opening thriller! This time she takes a look at blogging and how technology we use every day can be used against us, even ensnare us like a mouse in a trap.

Our justice system is supposed to be one that says we are innocent until proven guilty. Unfortunately in many cases the media has made people guilty before they’ve had a chance to prove their innocence.

Cathy Cramer is a retired lawyer who has been on a personal mission to see that justice is done in her community. She calls it as she see’s it on her blog no emotions and/or judgment held back. She writes for her readers and tells them the truth as she sees it.

Cathy receives a note on the wind shield of her car it says, “Guilt or innocence is not something to be judged by a two-bit blogger with a drama-loving readership. Maybe it’s time you saw first hand how speculation ruins lives. Judgment that has nothing to do with truth. See how it feels.”

This note didn’t faze her. She got threats all the time. She thought nothing of it; until life has she knew it changed.

I was quickly drawn into this story and cared for her characters and their wild situation. Terri has a way of making you the reader stop and take a look at our fast paced ever changing world in a whole new light. Wow!

If you are into suspense with a faith message naturally interwoven into the story, I recommend this read. It will change the way you think about several things. It will have you read this statement with renewed hope and something more, “The truth is the truth no matter how it looks…tell them that.”

Words typed in an email and sent into cyper space can’t be taken back and they can never be erased. It’s there forever! Think about that as you grab this book to take on vacation with you! Wow!

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Nancy Herriman's Josiah's Treasure ~ Reviewed

Josiah's Treasure 
By Nancy Herriman (Author) 
Pages 310 
 Release Date Feb 1, 2013 
 Publisher WPU 
 ISBN 1936034794 


 In 1882 Sarah Whittier dreams of opening an art studio run by immigrant women. She plans to use the house left to her by family friend Josiah Cady as collateral for her studio. But will all be lost when the inheritance is challenged by an angry man claiming to be Josiah's son and legal heir? Rumor of gold nuggets hidden in the house place Sarah's life in danger. Her future uncertain and her safety threatened, Sarah has nowhere to turn. 

That is, unless she can soften a vengeful man's heart - and they both learn that love is finer than any gold. 


Josiah’s Treasure is about a young woman named Sarah Whittier. She is left with a small inheritance from a man named Josiah Cady, who took her under his wing. Though no relation to him, he loved her like a daughter. She is using the inheritance to open an art studio run by immigrant women, hoping to give them a better chance in life. However, her plans are turned upside down when Daniel Cady, who claims to be Josiah’s son, shows up, claiming the inheritance for him and his young twin sisters. Though the two can’t stand each other in the beginning, an attraction develops between them. Unforeseen circumstances begin to bring them together, and they soon learn that money isn’t everything! 

This was a really good book. I enjoyed Sarah’s character a lot. She had been through a lot, but was still willing to take a stand to help these young women who had no one else to turn to. She would do anything for them, and they knew that. Eventually, Daniel saw this wonderful quality in her as well. In the beginning, he cared nothing for her, but as he got to know what a wonderful person she was, his love for her began to override his desire for money and revenge against the father he thought abandoned him. This was a great read. 

 Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Monday, July 22, 2013

Michael Neale's The River ~ Reviewed

By Michael Neale
Published by Thomas Nelson
301 Pages

Back Cover: 

You were made for The River . . ."

Gabriel Clarke was mysteriously drawn to The River, a ribbon of frothy white water carving its way through steep canyons high in the Colorado Rockies. From deep within, Gabriel's passion for The River was undeniable. The rushing waters beckoned him to experience freedom and adventure.

But something was holding him back-the memory of the terrible event he witnessed on The River when he was just five years old-something no child should ever see.

Chains of fear and resentment imprisoned Gabriel, keeping him from discovering the treasures of The River. He couldn't leave his past behind and remained trapped, afraid of the life awaiting him.

In this compelling story, Gabriel learns that letting go of the past means giving himself totally to The River-heart, mind, body, and soul.


I’m thankful for the review copy of a book that felt like hanging out with a good friend. It also reminded me of how important water is to our lives; without it we quickly die, with it we thrive.

Take a peek at how the author describes The River, “it’s wild, free, and untamable. It’s foaming, twisting and thundering. There are places where the water shoots down into crevices and canyons and creates this amazing thunder and then there are places where the water settles into pools of complete calm…I love being with The River.

The River is Alive. The River is timeless, and its moving all over the world…The River can be known but not fully, therein lies the mystery. The River has a voice, and I love the way it sounds. When I’m with The River, I just know it’s where I’m meant to be. It touches something deep inside my soul. It connects me to a bigger story in some indescribable way…when I’m with The River, I feel Alive…I can tell you this from my journey: the more you experience The River, the more you want to stay closer by.”

The River definitely reminds me of our relationship with God our creator. I’ve given you a taste of the many pages this author writes about The River. This is a unique novel like Dinner with a Stranger and that of Tuesdays with Morrie. I think what the prologue says pretty much sums up the essence of this book. It’s a novel not to be rushed through but savored. The author states, “Every now and then, you have an encounter with someone who simply changes your life…you can’t get his (or her) story out of your head and heart.

It’s hard to explain how powerful stories can resonate within us on many levels but it’s often because of the way they speak with passion, heartache, or even joy. Maybe it’s the way they unknowingly reach into our heart of hearts with their words.”

This is one such story! You won’t forget The River or this journey!

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins