Stress Test – Richard L. Mabry

About this Book


Dr. Matt Newman thought he was leaving his life as a surgeon in private practice for a better one in academic medicine. But the kidnappers who attacked him as he left the hospital at 2 a.m. have no such plans—they just want him dead. Bound and in the trunk of his car, Matt’s only thought is fleeing with his life. He does escape, but at a price: a head injury that lands him in the ICU . . . where he awakens to discover he’s being charged with murder.

Sandra Murray is a fiery, redheaded lawyer who swore she was done with doctors after her last relationship. But when Matt calls, she knows she can’t walk away from defending someone who is truly innocent.

Matt’s career is going down the drain. His freedom and perhaps his life may be next. But with the police convinced he’s a killer and the kidnappers still trying to finish what they started, finding the truth—and the faith to keep going—will be the toughest stress test Matt has ever endured.

My Review

One thing you can count on from a Richard Mabry book is a doctor in trouble with no clue why and a mean-spirited cop. This story is no exception in that regard. Although, all of the author’s books seem to have this theme that’s the end of the similarities. The author does a great job of bringing interesting and different types of characters and story lines.

Matt Newman is a doctor looking forward to his upcoming career move and the possibility of making a commitment to his beautiful girlfriend. He knows about God had a relationship with him at one time, but now he rarely thinks about God. The circumstances he faces in this story brings back to mind the trust and faith of his youth.

The things I liked about this story:

  • The pace – the story kept moving
  • The characters – both Matt and Sandra were easy to like and solid
  • Point of View – The author gave us glimpses of the story from several points of view, including our villain. The author also didn’t let us know who the villain was until the last chapter.

The only thing I didn’t care about was the first few chapters I felt like I had read this story before, but the author then begins to introduce plots to make this story unique.

Disclaimer: I did receive this book from the publisher but was under no obligation to give anything other than my honest opinion.

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson
  • Publish date: April 9, 2013
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401687083
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401687083
  • Author’s Website:

If you find this review useful please click this link and select ‘Yes’ on the Amazon Website

Damascus Countdown – Joel C. Rosenberg

About this Book

All eyes are on the Middle East. Israel has successfully launched a first strike on Iran, taking out all of their nuclear sites and six of their nuclear warheads—and causing The Twelfth Imam to order a full-scale retaliation. US President William Jackson threatens to support a UN Security Council resolution condemning the Jewish State for unprovoked and unwarranted acts of aggression.

Meanwhile, CIA operative David Shirazi has infiltrated the Iranian regime and intercepted information indicating that two Iranian nuclear warheads survived the attack and have been moved to a secure and undisclosed location. In danger not only from the ongoing missile strikes on Iran but also from the increasingly hostile and suspicious governments of multiple countries, David and his team are in a race against time to find the remaining nuclear warheads before disaster strikes.

My Review

Once again the author captures the reader within the opening pages as David fights to stay alive and prevent a nuclear holocaust. Like the first two books in this three part series the action is fast paced and intense.

I love the main character David Shirazi! He’s smart, passonate, and real. Like many he struggles to completely understand what it means to live this life of faith. But as he fights to stay alive in difficult situations he realizes that although his fate on earth is uncertain, he eternity is not, this fact drives his actions on many levels.

This book offers not only action and a love story, but some harsh realities of the times we live. There are a couple of secondary story lines I don’t completely understand why the author included, other than to remind us bad things do happen to Christian people.

I definitely feel you want to read book one and two before reading three, you won’t truly appreciate the story if you don’t. If you enjoy action packed stories then this is a winning series. This story will also give you some insights to the end times beliefs of Islam, which I knew nothing about before reading this series.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank Tyndale Publishing for the opportunity to read and review this book. I was under no obligation other than to give my honest opinion.

If you find this review helpful please click “Yes” on Amazon. Thanks for stopping by! 

The Give Away:

You can leave a comment and I’ll pick a winner on March 31st for my copy of this book. Please note it is a hardback copy. 

The Crystal Scepter – C.S. Lakin Interview, Review and Give Away


The Interview

From the back cover

When Pythius, the wicked young king of Paladya, learns of the hidden realm of Elysiel and the crystal scepter that protects that northern land, he journeys to kill the Keeper and steal the scepter. But his defiant act unleashes a terrible curse, and the Seer foretells his death one day at the hand of his son, now a newborn babe. To thwart the prophecy, he attempts to murder his child, but the queen escapes and sends the babe off in a trunk across the sea, where he is found and raised by a humble fisherman.

Years later, Perthin, the cast-off babe now grown, hears his call of destiny, and is visited by a specter who tells him of the land of Elysiel and of the Gorgon—the evil creature fomenting war in the Northern Wastes. Perthin’s village of Tolpuddle is being ravaged by a monstrous sea beast sent by this enemy, and Perthin accepts the challenge to kill the creature by cutting off its head—although anyone who looks upon it turns to stone. Armed with magical shoes and a legendary sword, Perthin arrives in Elysiel, where the trolls lead him to the ice cavern where the sacred site made of crystal slabs awaits him to show him his future. Perthin feels a strange connection to this land, unaware that he is the heir to Elysiel’s throne.

With the help of heaven’s army, Perthin bests the enemy and returns to stop the sea monster as the beast is ravaging the kingdom of Paladya. He rescues the princess, who has been set out in the harbor as a sacrifice for the beast, and then stops the sea monster by exposing it to the Gorgon’s head, yet through his heroic efforts he unknowingly fulfills the prophecy foretold by the Seer. He returns to Tolpuddle a hero, where many surprising revelations await him as to his heritage and legacy, for he learns he is not truly a fisherman’s son but a king foretold. The Crystal Scepter is an adventurous retelling of the classic story of Perseus and Medusa with a twist, as the heart of the story involves the gates of heaven—the sacred sites erected by heaven to prevent evil from taking over the world of mankind. It also has parallels to the story or Oedipus Rex, the 17th-century play by Spanish playwright Pedro Calderón de la Barca entitled Life is a Dream, and Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors.

 The Interview

CSLakin_highRes  I’m so excited to have Susanne back to Favorite Christian Books.

 FCB: I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading The Gates of Heaven series. How did you come up with the idea for the series?

  C.S. Lakin: I actually came up with the idea upon plotting out the second book. I planned to do a number of stand-alone fairy tales, then when in England, I visited Stonehenge, and thought to find a way to tie all the books together. I already had a kind of Stonehenge structure in the first book, The Wolf of Tebron, at the end of the world next to the Moon’s house.
So I came up with the idea of having a different sacred site or gate of heaven in each book, in a different part of the realm. The second book, The Map across Time, goes in deep into the history of the sites and how God set them up to keep evil from taking hold of mankind, and by appointing Keepers that would protect the sites. But since the sites were becoming abandoned and torn down, their protective powers were waning. So the thread now is going to be wrapped up in the final book as the enemy seeks once and for all to destroy all the sites and kill the Keepers.

FCB: What is the biggest challenge in writing “The Gates of Heaven” series?

C.S. Lakin: I think the hardest challenges are 1) coming up with fresh, original plots and characters in a new locale each book and 2) finding a way to tie in the overarching story of the seven sites with traditional fairy tale elements.

FCB: You’ve written a few different genres, which genre is your favorite and why?

C.S. Lakin: That’s a hard question to answer as I love writing in all these different genres. To me, it’s not about the genre but about the story I want to tell. I get a great idea and develop it, and whatever story it’s going to be determines the genre. I have two books I want to write and one is dark humor and the other suspense/thriller. But I’d love to write a play and hope to do a short story collection too.

FCB: Sounds like fun!!! Now for my last question to help us get to know you a little better. Do you have a favorite scripture verse(s) that you would like to share?

C.S. Lakin: I don’t have only one! I use so many Scriptures in my books because the wisdom found there is bottomless and timeless. I often tell people my favorite verse is Proverbs 30:2, which in the NRSV says “Truly, I am too stupid to be human.” Sometimes I really feel that way! No, but seriously, I love Romans 8 and Hebrews 11 as chapters, and I remind myself often that nothing can separate us from God’s love—not even ourselves!
FCB: HA! I think I need to remember Proverbs 30:2, seems to fit some days! Thank you so much for sharing with us. I think The Crystal Scepter is my 2nd favorite book after Map Across Time.  I’m so loving how characters and locations are crossing over in stories. I so enjoy escaping life in your stories!

C.S. Lakin: Thanks so much for featuring my series!

To learn more about Susanne you can visit her website at:

My Review

Once again, C.S. Lakin captures the imagination with a wonderful story of adventure and the timeless truth that it’s about availability and willingness, in her fifth installment in The Gates of Heaven series.  

The author introduces us to a new three lands, Paladya ruled by the wicked young King Pythius, Elysiel the enchanted land and home of another of the scared sites, ruled by the wise King Cakrin, and the fishing village of Tolpuddle. We also meet a new cast of characters and yes we also see some “old” ones. The storyline flows quickly and once again the author paints a picture of these lands and the creatures that live there. I thoroughly LOVED the trolls. They made me laugh during each of their interactions in the story. King Pythius is the most evil character I’ve seen so far in this series, his violence was a little disturbing.

My favorite part of this story is watching Perthin grow into his role in the story. As in many of the books in this series it’s not about the strongest or smartest but the one with the willingness. The author reminds us that it’s about being available and willing to listen to the wisdom of the ages.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys escaping the realities of this world into a land of magic and adventure with sea creatures and heros. There is also strong Biblical truths spread throughout the story. Although this is the fifth book in the series they are independent of each other. The author uses small tidbits such as locations and minor characters from other books, but you do not need to read the other books to enjoy this one.


I would like to thank the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book. I was under no obligation to give anything but my honest opinion.

The Give Away

C.S. Lakin has been gracious enough to offer a copy of The Crystal Scepter to one lucky winner. Leave a comment here to be entered. Visit the Favorite Christian Book Facebook, like the page for another entry.  I’ll pick a winner March 1!