Book Review: Pure Grace by Clark Whitten

Pure Grace: The Life Changing Power of Uncontaminated Grace

By: Clark Whitten

Destiny Image Publishers, Inc., P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310, 978-0768410408, $ 15.99, 170 pages

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Getting a Grasp on the True Meaning of God’s Grace

Pastor Clark Whitten introduces the reader to a new freedom, joy, hope, and passion in his book “Pure Grace: The Life Changing Power of Uncontaminated Grace.”

Whitten challenges the reader to honestly consider their perception of God’s grace and the life changing power that comes with understanding the fullness of the scriptural revelation of salvation and sanctification.

Whitten reveals how the message of grace from Biblical teaching includes: The truth of the finished work of Christ on the cross, it is Christ who empowers us to live the Christian life, and the thrust of our testimony should be the world changing “Good News” of the gospel.

In uncomplicated terms, Whitten articulates a clear presentation of Christians and the “Law,” Jesus as High Priest, the New Covenant, and the place of confession, repentance, and conviction.

“Pure Grace: The Life Changing Power of Uncontaminated Grace” is a book for every believer who is looking for a personal sense of spiritual revival, a renewal in their spiritual life, and a desire to re-capture the simplicity of that “first love” experience of devotion to the Savior. An eye and heart opening reading experience  which translates to new joy, hope, and freedom for fullness in Christ.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own. As reviewed for Midwest Book Review.



Book Review: Prepare yourself to Be Blessed by Kevin Boyd

Prepare Yourself to Be Blessed: How to Purposely Enter Into Abundant Living

By: Kevin Boyd

Destiny Image Publishers, Inc., P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310, 978-076844105-5, $ 14.99, 2012, 201 pages

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Motivation that Accelerates Action

Kevin Boyd has a fluent dynamic writing style that is well-paced and presented in a reader friendly format. “Prepare Yourself to Be Blessed” is Biblically based, uniquely creative and highly imaginative.

The book is filled with principles for impacting others, while fulfilling personal potential. Kevin is a gifted communicator, his writing provides:

  • Motivation that accelerates action
  • Inspires introspection
  • Opens the door of opportunity
  • Challenges a dynamic spiritual adventure with an imploding power from within

Kevin offers sage advice on key principles for success in spiritual living, leadership skills, marriage and family life, and personal development. He focuses on basic fundamentals participation, responsibility, forgiveness, decisiveness, gratitude, and a forward looking attitude.

The contemporary illustrations are relevant, pointed, memorable and entertaining. His Biblical examples are engaging, eye opening, and practical for personal application. The end notes are well documented and provide a wide range of resources for further study. Another excellent feature is the chapter review section at the end of the book which provides important summary statements of the contents of each of the eight chapters.

The title of the book offers the reader a chance to “Prepare Yourself to Be Blessed.” I was not disappointed.  Highly recommended by well-known Christian Leaders.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own. As reviewed for Midwest Book Review

Book Review: Leadership – From Ordinary to Extraordinary by Stephanie A Parson

Leadership: From Ordinary to Extraordinary – The Character of a Leader

By: Stephanie A. Parson, PH.D.

CGI – International, 13506 Summerport Village Parkway, Suite 336, Windermere, FL 34786, 978-0578048703, $ 27.95, 2011, 132 pages

The Dynamics of Building Professional Qualities of Leadership

Stephanie A. Parson, PH.D. uses a whole person approach to leadership training by introducing a practical approach to understanding the principles of leadership as an ongoing dynamic program of skill building.  This is a step by step process of transforming your leadership style and capabilities, a faith experience.

In her book “Leadership: From Ordinary to Extraordinary – The Character of a Leader” Parson guides the reader through a series of self-assessment activities and exercises which help the reader discover and determine their potential leadership skills and to assess their growth throughout the process of their leadership journey.

A quick look at the background and experience of Dr. Parson will add credibility to the positive endorsements of leaders in the military, business, and education fields. Parson’s writing is well organized, clearly articulated, and filled with practical sage advice for her reader.

The book is intended to be used as a study manual incorporating observation, interpretation, correlation and application. “Leadership: From Ordinary to Extraordinary – The Character of a Leader” is an outstanding resource for anyone who has made the choice to build on their strengths, grow with the opportunities afforded them and experience the dynamics of  their personal leadership potential. Highly recommended.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own. As reviewed for Midwest Book Review.

Book Review: The Shifting Romance with Israel by Dr. Raymond L. Gannon

The Shifting Romance with Israel

By: Dr. Raymond L. Gannon

Destiny Image Publishers, Inc., P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, Pa 17257-0310, 978-0768441093, $ 16.99, 2012, 200 pages

An Examination of Zionism and American Pentecostalism

Dr. Raymond L. Gannon traces the parallel growth of the Pentecostal and Zionist movements through the 20th Century in his book “The Shifting Romance with Israel.”  He examines the growing ambivalence of the American Evangelical and Pentecostal movements toward the nation of Israel to provide an in depth study and analysis.

I found Gannon’s development of the historical, biblical, and eschatological views and their influence on American Pentecostalism ideals at the beginning of the 20th century fascinating.  He begins with the views of the New World Puritans working back through the understanding espoused by church leaders including: Luther, Calvin, John Fox, and the earlier Puritans Theologians.  He also introduces the pre-millennialism, dispensational, and restoration movements and their unique differences.

In addition to the historical influences leading up to the formation of the ideology of Pentecostalism, Gannon analyzes the ideology of Zionism, including a look at Anti-Semitism, and Messianic Zionism.

Extensive end notes add credence to Gannon’s meticulous research and also serve as a resource for future study for the serious student of prophecy and eschatology. An accompanying glossary helps the reader identify more closely with unique vocabulary included throughout the analysis.

“The Shifting Romance with Israel” is must reading for every Evangelical, Pentecostal, and Mainstream Denominational leader. The reader should make the book available to everyone within their sphere of influence. Highly recommended.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own. As reviewed for Midwest Book Review.

Book Review: Breakdancing on a Balance Beam by Kathy Frank

Breakdancing On A Balance Beam: How to Find Balance as a Business Person and an Everything-Else-That –You-Are-Too Person

By: Kathy Frank

Baily Court Con Publishing, P O Box 7024, Bedminster, NJ 07921-7024, 9781937788001, $ 16.95, 2011, 194 pages

Dynamic Strategies for Creating Equilibrium Out of Chaos

From the preface to the epilogue, Kathy Frank, packages dynamic strategies for discovering:

  • Your inner child
  • How to find your personal rhythm
  • The benefit of learning from others
  • Why we need to accept accountability
  • How to deal with the unexpected
  • The value of flexibility – how to accept change
  • The art of effective communication
  • The value of humor
  • How to open our mind to unlimited possibilities
  • The importance of creativity and innovation
  • Attaining and sustaining an attitude of confidence

Frank writes with a passion as she shares lessons learned from her personal experiences essential to achieving balance in her life. Clever illustrations created by Caitlin Johnson-Nied enhance the vibrant appeal and excitement of the book.

The format and organization of the “musings” allow the reader to read, contemplate, and record personal reflections using a systematic sequential or a random approach as Kathy’s observations are arranged topically.

“Breakdancing On A Balance Beam” encourages the reader to explore, dream, and discover. Kathy Frank inspires confidence, motivates action, and alerts the reader to value the moment, to take time out to reflect, and to fill their life with fun and laughter while enjoying their achievement and their accomplishments.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.  As Reviewed for Midwest Book Review.

Book Review: Islam the Cloak of Antichrist by Jack Smith


Islam the Cloak of Antichrist

By: Jack Smith

Winepress Publishing, P. O. Box 428,Enumclaw, Washington 98022, 978-1606151587, $ 26.99, 2011, 364 pages

A Look at the End Times Through a New Paradigm

In his book “Islam the Cloak of Antichrist” Jack Smith interprets end times prophecy using a new paradigm, a new model which has been referred to by some as the “Islamic Paradigm.” Smith’s work is a wide-ranging study of a complex subject.

Smith’s interpretation translates metaphors into their literal and true meaning. His assumptions are based on his interpretation of prophecies from Old and New Testament scriptures. He presents a solid basis for his conclusions by developing an informed analysis of the Jewish and Christian apocalyptic books of Ezekiel, Daniel, and Revelation.  Smith maintains that Satan uses deception, disguising himself and an angel of light by using a cloak of sham publicizing “peace,” a peace that comes by yielding to Islam.

Smith’s research is thorough and well documented with comprehensive end-notes. The selected bibliography and complete index add important resource material for additional reading or a deeper study.

I especially appreciated the clearly articulated summary and conclusion of key points included at the end of each chapter. This feature provides a tremendous tool for immediate retention and future review in the organization and development of the material. The beautiful color photos of the Dome of the Rock and a number black and white photo illustration add another dimension to the understanding of the text, and help the reader to better assimilate the narrative through the visualization process.

“Islam the Cloak of Antichrist” is an in depth study, not intended for a cursory reading. Smith carefully develops the relationship of Islamic history and Christian theology, with a sense of the urgency of his message, a paradigm that interprets Islam to be the instrument of the Antichrist in the last days, and a message that will be of interest and importance to secularists and Christians alike.

Book Review: Pocket Full of Voices by Albert M. Albers

A Pocket Full of Voices by Alfred M. Albers

Infinity Publishing, 1094 New De Haven Street, Suite 100, West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2713, 978-0741469205, $ 18.95, 2011, 367 pages

Another John Michaels Brain Teaser – When Magician Outwits Murder

Gary Egan, a professional ventriloquist, has a five year engagement at the Placid Hotel and Casino in Mount Hope City, New Jersey; the East Coast’s gambling capital. After valuable merchandise turns up missing in a series of burglaries in the rooms of well-known celebrities the sheriff’s department arrests Egan for conspiracy and as an accomplice in the crimes.

Like a magic trick and the illusion of a secret adventure Albers draws the reader into solving the puzzle of Gary’s dilemma. The suspense builds as the crimes turn violent moving from burglary to murder.

Albers writes with an amazing attention to detail, word pictures so explicit a room comes to life, characters become so life-like you can sense the rhythm of their breathing and feel the warmth of their touch. Although relationships are guarded and emotions held in check; Albers’ characters become an important element in carrying the plot forward.  Their dialog guides the reader with clues for matching wits with Michaels in attempting to solve the case.

I appreciate the inclusion mention of Henry Fitch, hero to magicians in the 50s-70s, Louie Baker well known winner in Five Card Hold ‘em circles, and the baseball greats: Larry Corcoran, Eton Chamberlin, and Tony Mullane. These names add a touch of reality in a book of fiction

“A Pocket Full of Voices” introduces court room drama and behind the scenes investigation techniques at their best. Alfred M. Albers is fast becoming a favorite of fans of mystery, magic, entertainment history, and collectors of celebrity paraphernalia.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review: How Maji Gets Mongo Off the Couch

How Maji Gets Mongo Off the Couch!

By: Dr. J. Renae Norton, Illustrated by: Steve Hayes

Robert D. Reed Publishers, P. O. Box 1992, Bandon, Oregon 97411, 978-1934759608, $ 17.95, 32 Pages

Learning a Healthy Lifestyle from Maji

Dr. J. Renae Norton. Clinical Psychologist and Director of the Norton Center for Eating Disorders, has written the Maji and Mongo book series to encourage children to develop a healthy lifestyle. The book includes and emphasis on good eating habits and healthy fun outside play.  Norton has chosen a rhyming lyrical style to capture and maintain the young reader’s attention. The series introduces Maji, energetic and on the move and his friend Mongo, a kind of couch potato. Two very different dogs.

Steve Hayes’ captivating illustrations reinforce the story as it unfolds. Maji coaxes Mongo off the couch to go outside to play on a beautiful day. They became buddies and soon Mongo enjoys a new way of living – healthy, fun, and “cool.” Norton also introduces the importance of recognizing and respecting the diversity found among children

Dr. Norton includes guidlines for parents to help their children enjoy play time and exercise through bike riding, roller blading, jungle gyms, and many other fun healthy things to do. After reading “How Maji Gets Mongo Off the Couch! Parents will want to get all of the books as a set.

The Maji and Mongo series is destined to become a favorite of parents and children alike. Ideal for gift giving, for school libraries, and for pediatricians waiting rooms. Highly recommended.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review: Writers’ Report by Mark Shaw

Writers’ Report

By: Mark Shaw


Practical Advice for Every Aspiring Author and Writer


Mark Shaw’s “Writer’s Report” is filled with practical tips for every aspect of writing, especially designed for the new writer or the aspiring author.  Mark’s writing demonstrates the techniques he suggests in his narrative. He is passionate in his purpose – that of helping writers right.


Much has and is changing in the publishing industry. Good writing is a competitive commodity and always in demand. Some of the key points Shaw makes very clear and relevant today include:


  • Assessing market potential
  • Built in promotion
  • Motivation and writing credentials (platform)
  • Developing and Honing writing skills
  • Research techniques
  • Story telling technique and strategy
  • Word and grammar usage
  • The creative writing process and regimen
  • Examples of various writing styles
  • Elements of outlining
  • Writing poetry as a training ground


I found the chapter summaries, the writing tips check lists, suggestions for manuscript techniques, and suggested exercises especially important and helpful.


“Writer’s Report” includes storytelling ideas, creative tips, and over 100 ways to improve your writing skills. Highly practical – essential resource for the beginning writer.

Book Review: NIV faiThGirLz Bible

NIV faiThGirLz! Bible

Zonderkidz/Nancy Rue

Zondervan Publishing, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 978 03107522365, $ 27.95, 1504 pages

A Discovery Journey for the Tween Age Girl – Transformational and Faith Building

Whether looking for answers to Bible questions, a personal relationship with God, or a deeper understanding of God’s purpose for their lives, the “NIV FaiThGirLz Bible” will help today’s “tweens” discover a deeper reverence, a more meaningful reality, and a new relevance in the developing process of their faith journey.

Important features that bring the scriptures to life include: a “Dream Girl section” which allows the reader to experience for themselves the adventures of Bible stories by encouraging the development of their own creative imagination. The “Treasure This” feature highlights verses for reflection and memorizing.

The brightly illustrated cover and colorful purple printing of the text with contrasting pink illustrations will appeal to girls of every age. The popular contemporary NIV translation will encourage reading for understanding, inspiration, and application.

Highly respected author Nancy Rue’s insights in developing the format and other unique features of the “FaithGirlz Bible” insure credibility, and integrity in areas of character development, Biblical understanding and editorial content.

The “NIV faiThGirLz Bible” can become an important element in the transformation and faith building experience of every young girl in your family or “world of influence.” Highly recommended.

A complimentary copy of this Bible was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.