Interview with John Wallace | Starting at the Finish Line


Struggling with the strict laws and ordinances of the Mormon faith?

Longing for a more fulfilling and less complex relationship with Jesus Christ?

Want to know with certainty that you have eternal life?

Dr. John Wallace is an ex-Mormon that speaks wonderfully into the lives of Mormons struggling with their faith, encouraging them to get out of the bondage of Mormonism and into the free grace of Jesus Christ. When I first read Starting at the Finish Line: The Gospel of Grace for Mormons, I knew that I needed to talk with Dr. Wallace to further talk about the book. And, as always, I love to share those conversations with you all. So jump right in and listen as Dr. Wallace and I talk about sharing the gospel with Mormons.

Starting at the Finish Line – John Wallace


Starting at the Finish Line
by John Wallace

Genre: Apologetics, Biblical Studies, Non-Fiction, Spiritual Growth

Published by Ponoma House

Publication Date: February 2014

Reviewed by Josh Olds

Purchase at Amazon four-half-stars

QUICK HIT – With grace and clarity, John Wallace speaks within the context of Mormonism to speak the fresh message of the gospel of grace in a way that’s particular powerful to those within Mormonism.

River of Peril – Susan K. Marlow


River of Peril
by Susan Marlow

Series: Goldtown Adventures #2

Genre: Christian, Fiction, Historical, Young Adult

Published by Kregel

Publication Date: February 2014

Reviewed by Jen Roman

Purchase at Amazon

QUICK HIT - How Jem and his family fare in Sacramento will keep readers entertained for the entire length of the book. I love the characters and the history that they bring alive to a new generation of readers. I highly recommend this series and this book in particular for younger readers or for mature readers who want something quick, easy, and fun.

52 Uncommon Dates – Randy Southern


52 Uncommon Dates
by Randy E Southern

Genre: Christian Life, Family & Relationships, Love & Marriage, Love & Romance, Non-Fiction, Religion

Published by Moody Publishers

Publication Date: May 2014

Reviewed by Josh Olds

Purchase at Amazon four-stars

QUICK HIT – With suggestions from the normal to the creative to the kinda-out-there, Randy Southern’s date suggestions provide a something-for-everyone experience that is guaranteed to keep your marriage from getting rutted in the same old patterns.

Have you ever felt like your marriage was in a rut? I don’t mean unhappy or failing…I just mean that you always do the same things, go to the same places on the same dates. You’ve settled into a routine and, while routines and rituals aren’t inherently a bad thing, life needs jazzing up sometimes. Enter Randy Southern and 52 Uncommon Dates—that’s about a year’s worth of dates waiting to be explored. And I guarantee that there are some in here that you’ve never considered before.

Here’s a smattering of the suggestions: The Get Lost Date, The Lego Date, The Park Bench Date, The Backrub Date. Any of those sound interesting? Southern expands on the idea of a Lego date saying that a husband and wife are building a life together, so why not spend an evening working together to build something slightly less daunting? It’s less about the actual building of Legos and more about the creativity and conversation it fosters.

Or how about the backrub date? This one is, of course, a bit more sensual. Although Southern doesn’t mention it in the book, I’ll go ahead and state it here. Sex should not be the end goal here. Don’t rush through the moment of sensuality to get to the sexuality. This date is about enjoying your partner’s body, enjoying your partner’s touch, and letting the stress of work, kids, and whatever just melt off of you as you spend alone time with your spouse.

Each date is prefaced by Scripture and a quote from Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages. Southern then writes a few paragraphs on setting the scene, letting us know what this type of date might bring. Then comes a couple paragraphs on implementing the date. He concludes with a few discussion questions to use with your partner in discussing the experience and some ideas to pray about before going into the date. Each date covers about 4-5 pages of material.

Honestly, there’s nothing really outstanding about this book. If you’re not the type to go on dates with your wife or you find yourself doing just the same old thing, or you need ways of improving communication in your marriage, then this is a solid book of practical ways to foster that discussion. There’s no bad advice in it, but I didn’t find anything truly revolutionary either.

My lone criticism is the way this book was marketed. I understand that Dr. Chapman is a much more widely known person than Mr. Southern. I understand that Dr. Chapman wrote the introduction to the book. But it’s a bit disingenuous to have Chapman’s name on the cover and spine with no mention of Southern until the inside pages. This book is obviously closely related to Chapman and Chapman’s work, but let’s give the guy that wrote the thing some credit.

The Love Dare – Stephen and Alex Kendrick


The Love Dare
by Alex Kendrick, Stephen Kendrick

Genre: Christian Life, Devotional, Love & Marriage, Non-Fiction, Social Issues

Published by B&H Publishing Group

Publication Date: January 2013

Reviewed by Josh Olds

Purchase at Amazon four-stars

QUICK HIT – Originally conceived as a companion book to the movie Fireproof, The Love Dare has found a life of its own and is transforming marriages.

I will freely admit that, unlike a lot of evangelical Christians, do not and have not fawned over the Kendrick brothers’ movies. Fireproof was a nice, small-budget Christian film with so-so acting, a rather preachy script, and some over-the-top sappy moments. It wasn’t a great film, but it was a film that knew its audience well and has been the most popular of the Kendricks’ canon.

But while I can pick on the film for its theatrical averageness, I cannot deny the overwhelmingly positive effect it has had. In the film, the main character is challenged, or dare I say it, dared to go through this forty day marriage evaluation. Going through the book transforms his marriage and inspired a real-life book and thousands of real-life transformations.

The Love Dare’s original publication coincided with the movie’s release and instantly became a bestseller, staying on the NYT list for—get this—three entire years. That’s…well, that speaks for itself. This new revised edition is more than just a new cover meant to sell more books. The authors add content, strengthen the writing, add new concepts, and provide more resources and actual reader responses as encouragement.

Take this book as a forty day marriage devotional. Each day encourages you to specifically do one thing for your significant other. Here are some examples:

Day 25: Love Forgives – Whatever you haven’t forgiven in your mate, forgive it today.

Day 33: Love Meets Sexual Needs – If at all possible, initiate sex with your husband or wife.

Day 5: Love is not Rude – Ask your spouse to tell you three things that make him or her uncomfortable or irritated with you.

Above all, the purpose of The Love Dare is to renew intimacy and love in marriage by fostering communication, understanding, and empathy. It is a replacement of priority from the self to the spouse, a looking after their needs, an understanding of their perspective, a selfless love that gives rather than demands. Each devotional entry lasts about four pages and provides a space for reflection at the end of each entry.

I’ll be honest…I don’t fully understand the hype—The Love Dare is solid advice but it’s nothing revolutionary. I think the combination of the movie’s popularity with the step-by-step nature of the book have contributed to its popularity. Whatever the case, if you’re a married person, you can and will benefit from this book.

A Dream(treaders) Giveaway


Dreamtreaders delivers imaginative fantasy that is typical of Wayne Thomas Batson. A great first volume in this series.  If you are looking for a book that your preteen or teen won’t fall asleep reading, this novel is a dream. – Kathleen Edwards,



Life is Story is partnering with Thomas Nelson to give away two copies of Batson’s latest novel. Must be from within the US to win. Contest ends on 7/28.

The New Men – Jon Enfield


The New Men
by Jon Enfield

Genre: Fiction, Historical

Published by Wayzgoose Press

Publication Date: May 2014

Reviewed by Jen Roman

Purchase at Amazon

QUICK HIT - Filled with historical notes and an interesting storyline, The New Men educates readers while entertaining. I thoroughly enjoyed this story of a fictional family living as a real one might during the start of America’s industrial age, and I am sure others who have similar interests will find it as engaging as I did.

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd


The Invention of Wings
by Sue Monk Kidd

Genre: Fiction, Historical, Literary

Published by Viking

Publication Date: January 2014

Reviewed by Jen Roman

Purchase at Amazon

QUICK HIT - Writing at the height of her narrative and imaginative gifts, Sue Monk Kidd presents a masterpiece of hope, daring, the quest for freedom, and the desire to have a voice in the world.

Suspicion – Joseph Finder


by Joseph Finder

Genre: Fiction, Suspense, Thrillers

Published by Dutton

Publication Date: May 2014

Purchase at Amazon

QUICK HIT - Suspicion is an excellent example of what happens when things go from bad to worse.

24: Live Another Day Series Finale


24: Live Another Day Episode 12
Series: 24: Live Another Day

Genre: 24, Television

Published by FOX

Publication Date: July 14, 2014

Reviewed by Kelsie Olds

The most profound moment of 24: Live Another Day was the moment I thought that President Heller died.

I wondered why they didn’t honor him with a “silent clock”, a tradition of past seasons used only for when the most important characters died. The next episode, we found out that it was because the whole thing was a trick that took the viewer in along with the terrorists. But the few minutes after the episode ended when I believed that he died, I felt the emotions of a heroic tragedy. There was no better end to President Heller.

They stripped the heroism from the show today and ended with a tragedy. Kate Morgan saves Audrey, only to have her murdered by a second sniper. Jack saves Chloe, only to have her kidnapped by a Russian mercenary. Mark is shipped to America, bound for prison.

Jack’s reaction to the news of Audrey’s death was stunning. If the show were real life events, that would be the moment that the ending changed. He unholsters his pistol, an action ripe with potential meanings. Would Jack actually kill himself out of grief? After so many years, is arming himself simply his reaction to any and all danger, even merely the danger of a broken heart?

Meanwhile, President Heller is sentenced to the long and painful death by Alzheimer’s, wrenching everyone’s hearts with his words spoken over Audrey’s body: “I won’t remember the events that happened today…I won’t remember I had a daughter who died in such a terrible way.”

I did not want a glossy ending to this show. I wanted Jack to die, his storyline to come to a final rest, his tormented existence to come to peace. Instead, he trades himself for Chloe and goes with the Russians. Heroic? Maybe, but as he tells her “it’s time to go home”, the viewer is necessarily reminded that she has no home to go to.

Up until the final seconds I was hoping he would die. Perhaps he had told his friend to shoot him once Chloe was safe (better than a life of imprisonment in Moscow). Perhaps he had told his friend to shoot the helicopter down and take a few mercenaries with him! Perhaps his life would end now, in a blaze of glory!

But no, there was no heroic tragedy for Jack Bauer. At the end of it all, at the end of all the Worst Days Ever, his life ended not with a bang but with a whimper. There’s no doubt that his life ended—the series ends with a silent clock, paying homage to 24 as a whole, but also leaving us with certainty that Jack dies in this, his final prison.