Upon Review: Angels in Action by Diane Williams

June 10th, 2013

I love to curl up with a nice, steaming cup of tea and a free book to review. In fact I subscribe to three book review sites: Book CrashBook Rooster and The Bookplex just so I can indulge in my favorite leisure activity. What’s even better is when an author contacts me for a review. If you’re an author looking for someone to review your book or short story, check out my Request a Review page.

Because I like to share the great reads I’ve found (and warn readers of the not-so-great finds), I developed a system:

  • One cup — worse than a cup of luke warm black pekoe
  • Two cups — it may be hot, but you’ll need plenty of sweetener just to tolerate it
  • Three cups — it’s not my favorite, but it beats going without
  • Four cups — nice and hot and only needs a smidge of sweetener to be perfect
  • Five cups — loose leaf vanilla Earl Grey, yummy

Sometimes a book or story doesn’t warrant a five cup rating, but it’s so good it can’t be missed. For those I include the “Must Read” starburst in front of the cup rating. You’ll find my cup rating above the picture of the cover. Enjoy!


Angels in Action by Diane Williams

Five Cup Must Read



Here is the description that caught my attention:

Angels in Action demonstrates how the author called on the power of her Creator to bring about positive changes in her life. This compilation of twelve personal inspirational accounts tells of her experiences of physical, emotional, and spiritual healing; professional, familial, and financial trials; and building relationships. They demonstrate how a woman learns to live with the knowledge and strength afforded by a relationship with a power greater than herself, and how she is transformed into a healthy, whole individual by the power of the Holy Spirit. Through these stories the reader will gain a renewal of perspective and learn how to view obstacles in life as God showing His face in order for us, His children, to build strong, unshakable foundations.

The Good…

I could not put this book down. The stories are powerful and often brought me to tears because I could see the life lessons as my own. The entire book is written as if Williams is having a conversation with you, the reader, and makes everything feel so much more personal. Also, the morals/lessons are simple, easy to grasp, and not “preachy.”

The writing is nearly perfect. I’m a very picky reader (blame it on my English degree) and I only caught a couple technical errors in the entire book. Hoorah and kudos to her editor!

The Not-so-good…

It’s really difficult to find anything in this book that wasn’t good. If I had to select one thing, it would be the first story, but only because it made me wary that the rest of the book would be an advertisement for the unusual diet program Williams went on. I was very glad I put my skepticism aside and read on because my hesitation was unwarranted.

The Overall…

This book came at the right time in my life to help me move forward in my faith. If you’re looking for a direction, searching to know God better or just need a little boost in your prayer life, Angels in Action by Diane Williams may be just the book you’re looking for.

Hearing God Word By Word

January 19th, 2012

There are a multitude of ways to study scripture. One of my favorites is to choose a favorite verse and meditate on it word by word. With each word added to the sentence a new layer of meaning is revealed. Let me show you what I mean using Psalm 46: 10, Be still, and know that I am God.


We spend so much time doing, we sometimes forget what it means to be. The sense of being is to rest in the hand of God. In this one word, we can feel God’s call to stop and enjoy being alive.

Be still…

Not only does God call us to enjoy the simple fact that we’re alive, but to enjoy time just doing nothing. There’s also the subtle reminder to listen to God, to others, to ourselves.

Be still, and…

From a call to quiet listening, God is adding something. What, we do not know and perhaps that is the point. We cannot see all God has planned for us. All we can see is this moment, but we can rest our hopes on God’s love of us.

Be still, and know…

At some point, the promise God has made will be fulfilled. We can know what was previously unknown.

You get the idea. It’s a simple way to find new meaning in scriptures you’ve read and heard a thousand times.

What different methods do you use to gain new understanding in God’s Word?


GFront-Cover-25-percentod promises to be with us through everything,
encouraging us to trust him through every situation we encounter.

Individuals and groups alike will find themselves
discovering that every day is a new opportunity to see God’s touch on their lives as they journey through scripture to uncover that:

  • No Matter Who You Are…
  • No Matter How You Feel…
  • No Matter What People Do…
  • No Matter What Happens..
  • No Matter Where You Are…
  • No Matter How Little You Have…
  • No Matter What You’ve Done…
  • No Matter How Old You Are…

Trust God!
Paperback edition also available on Amazon.

Ebook version available for Kindle, InkteraNookKobo, and Scribd or…

buy the .pdf version here



Get six Bible based, inspirational messages by Virginia Ripple from the blog One Servant’s Heart all in one .zip file.

Messages include:

  • Called to Forgive Called to Serve
  • New Beginnings
  • No Fear In Love
  • The Boneyard
  • The Dirty Little Penny
  • The Hardest Commandment

Pay What You Want for the audiobook.


Simply Prayer ebook

When we find ourselves stymied by what we think prayer should look like, it’s time to step back and think like a child. God loves each of us and wants to hear from us.

Prayer can be as complex as we want or as simple as we need, but sometimes we need a little help getting started. In this book you’ll discover the basics of:

  • What prayer is
  • Why we pray
  • How to pray
  • How to know your prayers are answered

From repetitions to labyrinths to dancing to journals, it is all Simply Prayer.

Ebook version available for NookKindleKobo, and Scribd or…

buy the .pdf version here

You can purchase this book at Amazon.com or in my CreateSpace store front.

Or Pay What You Want for the audiobook.


Fear NotWhen life seems impossible to cope with, God reaches out to remind us of his promises for our lives. Journey through scripture to meet God in new and unexpected ways as you discover what it means to “Fear Not!”

Anyone can use Fear Not to meet God in new and unexpected ways.  Each of the eight sessions begins with an introduction, then moves on to a scripture reading (included), questions to ponder, a meditation picture and lastly a list of possible hands-on projects you can do.

The eight sessions are:

  • Session 1 … God is always with us
  • Session 2 … God is in control
  • Session 3 … God keeps his promises
  • Session 4 … God keeps us safe
  • Session 5 … God provides for us
  • Session 6 … God reveals himself to us
  • Session 7 … God gives us new life
  • Session 8 … God sends a Helper to us

Ebook version available for NookKindleKobo, and Scribd or …

 buy the .pdf version here

Paperback edition also available on Amazon.com or in my Lulu.com store front at: Virginia’s Store Front.

Upon Review: Pentecost by Joanna Penn

January 11th, 2012

Spoiler Alert: If you don’t want to know anything about what will happen in Joanna Penn‘s book, Pentecost, then don’t read any further. Suffice it to say it’s a fast-paced, enjoyable read with plenty of cinematic scenes worthy of Ron Howard’s direction.

The Full Review

If you like Indiana Jones action, a Lora Croft style heroine and a mystery steeped in Christian myth and mysticism, then Pentecost is the book for you.

Full of fast-paced action this book hits the ground running from the prologue where we are instantly captivated by the failed escape of a nun, one of the 12 Keepers of the Pentecost stones, and her resulting grisly death. From there we are launched on a whirlwind race around the globe with Oxford University psychologist Morgan Sierra and Jake Timber from the mysterious ARKANE, a British government agency specializing in paranormal and religious experience. It is up to them to trace the journeys of the Apostles and collect the Pentecost stones to save Morgan’s twin sister and 2-year-old niece from the sadistic Joseph Everett, who plans to use the stones to bring about a new Pentecost. Along the way the duo must also keep a step ahead of the mysterious Thanatos, an organization intent on using the stones to start a holy war.

If the aim of a good story is to take a protagonist, give her a goal, and then throw as much stuff between the protagonist and her goal so as to make it look impossible to reach it, then Joanna Penn has accomplished it with flare. Her use of both expected turns and surprising twists made this story haunt my dreams at night.

There were a few drawbacks that kept me from fully enjoying the entire book. First was some jarring “head hopping” where the POV switches between characters in the middle of a scene. Second was the need to “humanize” Joseph by making his goal to heal his brother with the Pentecost stones and revealing an abusive childhood. Third was that Thanatos’ attempts to liberate the stones from Morgan and Jake were almost laughable considering this was supposed to be a high-powered secret organization. Lastly was one glaring error in biblical attribution — Daniel was thrown to the lions, not into a fiery furnace.

Even with those drawbacks I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys action-packed adventure stories, though if you tend toward biblical literalism and need your heroine to believe in God as main-line churches preach I would read something else. All in all, a most enjoyable read.

A Great Year for Giving

January 4th, 2012

The statistics of poverty in 2011 alone are staggering. It encompasses hunger, homelessness, lack of medical care and so much more. Even in the United States, one of the richest nations in the world, there is poverty. There are people starving. There are people living wherever they can find a little shelter, even if that shelter is no more than a box.

Beyond poverty there is abuse, neglect, drugs and crimes too numerous to mention.

The new year has begun…

…but for many it’s nothing more than a change of date. While the rest of us are making grand resolutions to lose weight and better our finances, others are simply trying to find their next meal.

In John 21: 15-17, Jesus asks Peter three times if Peter loves him. Peter says, yes, he does, to which Jesus replies, “Feed my sheep.”*

Can we do any less?

It’s not about giving food or even money. It’s about giving — period. Whether we are Christian or not, when we see a need it is our moral duty to do what we can. How else can we make this a better world for our children and their children?

There a few people who have been gifted with a lot. Some of them donate huge amounts of money or adopt several children as their contribution to worldwide betterment. Others create places for the have-nots to work for a hot meal.

You may think we should leave it to those people. After all, they have more than enough, they can afford to share.

You may think one person with very little can’t do anything significant, so why not offer up some prayers and hope for the best.

You can help.

If being a self-published author has taught me anything it’s that we can’t do it alone. Sure, there are a few bright stars who somehow do it all, but the rest of us need help.

Let’s do just a little math and see how this works.

I can buy a Coke for $.30 where I work. I work about 7 days every two weeks. If I buy one soda each of those days I’ve spent $2.10 every pay period. Not much, right?

There are about 26 pay periods per year. That means I would spend about $55 each year on soda. Now it’s starting to add up.

Let’s say each of the 8 employees bought the same number of sodas per year. That comes to $440. That’s more than it costs to buy a 32″ flat screen LCD HDTV or a 15.6″ HP laptop at Wal-Mart. It’s not a lot, sure, but it’s more than what one person had alone.

Now imagine if we all did something like that. What if we all gave up a cup of coffee or a soda every day for a year and donated that money to a charity? It doesn’t even matter which charity you choose, because there are others joining you in the cause.

How can you help?

Obviously donating your money is an easy way and there are a lot of charities who would be glad of it. I’ve included several at the end of this post to get you started.

You can also donate time. From clothes closets to food pantries to organizations building houses, there are a lot of places that need volunteers. If you don’t know how to locate one where you live, stop by a church and ask. If they don’t know of any, they can usually point you to someone who does.

The list:

Heifer International — Their mission is to work with communities to end hunger and poverty and care for the earth. By giving families a hand-up, not just a hand-out, we empower them to turn lives of hunger and poverty into self-reliance and hope.

Habitat for Humanity — They are a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry, seeking to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the world and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action

The Salvation Army — Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.

St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital –The mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. Consistent with the vision of our founder Danny Thomas, no child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family’s ability to pay.

Make-A-Wish Foundation — Since 1980, the Make-A-Wish Foundation® has enriched the lives of children with life-threatening medical conditions through its wish-granting work.

Humane Society International — Humane Society International is one of the only international animal protection organizations in the world working to protect all animals.

Not seeing one you want to work with? Check out the Better Business Bureau’s Charity Review page.


If you want to read the full text of John 21:15-17 is available from World English Bible.

Is There Christian Fantasy?

July 7th, 2011

book photoI love fantasy. My bookshelves, which I share with my fantasy-loving mother, are crammed two deep with fantasy books. Some shelves even have books on top of books. If there’s a limit to the number of books one can keep on a Nook, then I’m sure I’ll discover it and most of those will be fantasies, too.

Yet there seems to be a distinct line for many on what is secular fantasy and what is Christian.

Obviously those stories involving Satan or his demons as the protagonists can’t be considered Christian. The same is true of stories that make obvious reference to the Christian God and His angels as the good guys can’t really be considered entirely secular. Those aren’t the books I’m thinking of.

I’ve read mostly secular fantasy over the years. Some I can honestly say cannot be classified as Christian even with a lot of stretching of the imagination. Kim Harrison’s The Hollows series would be among those.

There are others, though, that I’m not so sure can be classified to my satisfaction.

For instance, in Shirley Rousseau Murphy’s Joe Grey Mysteries the protagonists, who happen to be talking cats, often mull over ideas that echo Christian thoughts.

And what about J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy? Nowhere is God specifically mentioned, though Tolkien himself said,

“We have come from God, and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. “

So, if God is not specifically mentioned, does that make LOTR secular?

And what about magic in fantasy?

Many people draw the line at magic, saying Christian fantasy cannot contain magic in any form unless it’s evil. Others, like John Edgell in his post The Writer of Christian Fantasy Fiction and Magic, set specific guidelines for magic usage.

For instance, Edgell says,

“…if the magic comes from a personal power source, whether outside of or within the one using the magic, that power source determines whether the magic at its essence is good or evil.”

In Edgell’s opinion, magic that comes from nature (he uses a glowing stone as an example) is neither good nor evil and therefore not at issue. However, if one person can use magic and others cannot, then it all depends on where that ability comes from as to whether the story can be Christian or not.

Personally, I look at the ability to use magic in a fantasy as simply a talent or skill similar to the ability to sing or write. It is the use of that talent or skill that makes a character good or evil. In this case, a fantasy written from a Christian worldview, as LOTR seems to be, can be classified as Christian fantasy.

What do you think? What makes a fantasy Christian or secular?

Photo by zeze57

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