Psalm 27:1

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?

www.biblegateway.com


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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Irish Meadows Book Review

Courage to Dream Series
Book One

SUMMARY:  1911, Long Island, New York
Faced with an uncertain future, sometimes all you have left is the courage to dream

     Brianna and Colleen O'Leary know their Irish immigrant father expects them to marry well.  Recently he's put even more pressure on them, insinuating that the very future of their Long Island horse farm, Irish Meadows, rests in their ability to land prosperous husbands.  Both girls, however have different visions for their futures.
     Brianna, a quiet girl with a quick mind, dreams of attending college.  Vivacious Colleen, meanwhile, is happy to marry - as long as her father's choice meets her exacting standards of the ideal groom.  When former stable hand Gilbert Whelan returns from business school and distant relative Rylan Montgomery visits Long Island during his seminary training, the two men quickly complicate everyone's plans.
     As the farm slips ever closer to ruin, James O'Leary grows more desperate.  It will take every ounce of courage for both sisters to avoid being pawns in their father's machinations and instead follow their hearts.  And even if they do, will they inevitably find their dreams too distant to reach?

SUMMARY:  Intrigued by the summary, I was curious how the author would work out the multiple details of the plots.  She does a wonderful job keeping everything on track and the characters interesting.  I like how Bree stands up for what she believes, even though it causes temporary heartache for her family.  After a revelation, the difference in Colleen's thoughts and behavior are wonderful and profound.  I also like how Colleen and Bree find common ground and use it to build up their former tenuous relationship.  The ending was perfect, tying up all the loose ends and preparing the way for the next book in this series.  This book would be a great addition to anyone's TO READ list and library.  Can't wait to see what the rest of the series brings.

This book was provided by Litfuse Publicity Group and Bethany House
for review without compensation.

Susan Anne Mason describes her writing style as "romance sprinkled with faith."  She particularly enjoys exploring the themes of forgiveness and redemption in her stories.  Irish Meadows is her first historical novel and won the Fiction from the Heartland contest sponsored by the Mid-American Romance Authors chapter of RWA.  Susan lives outside Toronto, Ontario, with her husband, two children, and two cats.  Learn more about Susan and her books at www.SusanAnneMason.com.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Until My Name Is Known Book Review

Tell of My Kingdom's Glory Series
Book One

SUMMARY:  The Time: 2450 BC         The Place:  Old Kingdom of Egypt
     Pharaoh is god.  His people worship him.  Israel's God arrives.  He challenges Pharaoh.  His power touches all.  They must change.  Some don't concede.  They suffer.  Others yield.  They find freedom.  Until My Name Is Known brings all to see the one true God.  Read it to see Him.
     Today's historians and archaeologists puzzle over the fall of the Old Kingdom of Egypt.  But the world at that time heard of God.  The world knew that He is the Lord.  His Name was proclaimed in all the earth.

REVIEW:  If you went to church as a child, you heard the stories about the Israelites' time as slaves in Egypt, Moses and his attempts to get Pharaoh to release them, and the ten plagues.  I always wondered why Pharaoh was being so difficult, why God sent those particular plagues, and what  the Israelites and Egyptians thought about everything going on.  This book answers these questions and more in a fictionalize manner that grabbed my attention from the beginning and held it to the end.  The author really did her research and presents a story of "what could have happened."  She covers a lot of material and time in ways I felt kept me from getting bogged down in the details.  She covers Moses' life after he escaped to the desert until his return in a very concise but very informative way.  She shows what may have been going through the minds and thoughts of the Egyptian people during the plagues and the suffering that may have occurred.  Ms. Contreras also tells stories of Israelites who loves Yahweh and are willing to do what He asks and others who are angry at Him and how some find freedom from that anger.  There are those caught between two worlds - those who were born and raised by slaves but are more Egyptian due to work stations and influences - and how they handle the plagues and finally the exodus.
     The story also shows how each plague was focused in defeating one or more Egyptian gods and showing Yahweh God's power. One by one, the power of their gods was stripped away until all that was left was Yahweh.
     I really loved this book.  It helped give possible answers to questions I had about this time in the Old Testament.  While we don't know exactly what happened to the Old Kingdom of Egypt, Sonya Contreras' novel does give her readers something to think about.  It also bring this time in history some new life.  Check it out.  I think you will be impressed.

This book was provided by Litfuse Publicity Group and Bull Head Press
for review without compensation.

Growing up with five sisters, Sonya Contreras asked God many questions, even when she did not like His answers.  Graduating from Cedarville University and Institute for Creation Research with a Master's Degree in Science Education did not stop her questions.  Marrying her best friend and homeschooling their eight sons, she found that dreams do come true, in spite of unanswered questions.  Trusting God, Who knows all answers, she shares questions that matter weekly at www.sonyacontreras.com.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Through Waters Deep Book Review

Waves of Freedom Series
Book One

SUMMARY:  War is coming.  Can love carry them through the rough waters that lie ahead?
     It's 1941 and America teeters on the brink of war.  Handsome and outgoing naval officer Ensign Jim Avery escorts British convoys across the North Atlantic in a brand new destroyer, the USS Atwood.  On shore, Jim encounters Mary Stirling, a childhood friend who is now an astute and beautiful Boston Navy Yard secretary.
     When evidence of sabotage on the Atwood is discovered, Jim and Mary must work together to uncover the culprit.  A bewildering maze of suspects emerges, and Mary is dismayed to find that even someone close to her is under suspicion.  With the increasing pressure, Jim and Mary find that many new challenges - and dangers - await them. 

REVIEW:  Sarah Sundin's latest novel introduces her readers to a mindset most people nowadays have little knowledge of: the moods and opinions of the American people before the U.S. entered the Second World War.  Misunderstanding and wrong assumptions were prevalent against anything German, British or Jewish.  So, when problems start occurring in the ship building yard, fingers start pointing at the possible culprits.  I love how the author places her reader in the midst of the turmoil of the sailors and crewmen aboard the escort ships and among the workers on the docks and offices in the Navy Yard. 
    Mary's gumption to try and figure out who was sabotaging the ships was admirable.  Even though the FBI discouraged her from helping, her boss had faith that she would be an asset and encouraged her.  She found a way she could help the investigation, which in the end, was invaluable.  Also, I liked how Mary started stepping out and faced her fears of singing in front of a crowd.  This small action helped her step out of her comfort zone in others ways.  Jim's decision to defy orders to help men trapped in below deck on a sinking ship was exemplary.  His actions could have cost him his life but ended up saving the sailors' lives.  He was also Mary's cheerleader, encouraging her to face her fears and live life to the fullest.
     If this book is a sign as to the rest of this series, it will be one to watch for.  I really enjoyed this novel, as I have all of Susan Sundin's other publications, and look forward with great expectation for the other two books.

This book was provided by Litfuse Publicity Group and Revell 
for review without compensation.

Sarah Sundin is the award-winning author of the Wings of Glory and Wings of the Nightingale series.  During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist's mate (medic) in the Navy and her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force in England.  Sarah lives in California with her husband and three children.  Learn more at www.sarahsundin.com.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Her Brother's Keeper Book Review

An Amish Secrets Novel

SUMMARY:  Charlotte came to Amish country to find answers.  What she never expected to find was peace.
     Charlotte Dolinsky is not above playing dress-up and telling a few lies to find out what happened to her only brother.  In face, that is exactly what she's come to Lancaster County to do.  Now, calling herself Mary and slipping on a kapp, Charlotte will lie hr way into the confidence of anyone who knows why Ethan had to die.  Unless she get found out first.
     But when Charlotte befriends a quiet Amish man named Isaac Miller, she begins to rethink her motives.  And with a little help from a friend back home, Charlotte might find out that love comes packaged in ways she couldn't have foreseen.
      Isaac's been caring for his cancer-stricken father and sympathizing with his frustrated mother for three difficult years.  And that means he hasn't been dating.  He believes Hannah King is the woman for him, but Hannah is stil grieving the loss of her fiance', and Isaac has all he can handle on the farm.  When Hannah's family plays host to a woman named Mary, their new cousin shakes things up for all of them.
     As Charlotte digs deeper into the mystery of Ethan's death, she finds more than she'd bargained for in the community he once called home.  But will she ever learn the truth?  And what will the community - and her new family - do if they learn the truth about her?

 REVIEW:  I have mixed feelings about this book.  Charlotte/Mary wants to know why her brother killed himself.  Because he was living with the Amish at the time and knowing how tight-lipped they are with outsiders, she felt she had lie to get this information.  I don't like the idea of her pretending to be Amish and lying to the family.  There are other ways of getting answers.  I kind of understood why Charlotte/Mary did what she did when I read how she reacted to the family after her brother's death.  She was not very nice, AT ALL, made demands on them through her lawyers, and didn't take into consideration their thoughts and feelings.  But, two wrongs still doesn't make it right.  
     Now, there were a few things I liked about this book.  The ending was different but nice.  I like how even though the family rejected her after the truth came out, Charlotte/Mary still opened her heart and her home to them when sickness brings Hannah's mother to Texas and how the Kings were slowly opening their hearts to her.  I also liked how Charlotte/Mary started understanding faith better as she lived with the Kings.  Her new-found faith was still growing even after she came home.
     
This book was provided by BookLook Bloggers and Thomas Nelson Publishers 
for review without compensation.

Beth Wiseman, an award-winning bestselling author, is best known for her Amish novels, but her most recent novels, Need You Now and The House that Love Built, are contemporaries set in small Texas towns.  Both have received glowing reviews.  Beth's The Promise is inspired by a true story.

Among the Fair Magnolias Book Review

 Four Southern Love Stories

SUMMARY:  During the most turbulent decade of our nation's history, four Southern women - their destinies forged by birth and heritage - face nearly impossible choices on their journeys in life . . . and in love.

To Mend a Dream by Tamera Alexander
Savannah Darby would do almost anything to revisit her family home.  so when the new owner Aidan Bedford seeks to redecorate the house for his fiancee, Savannah jumps at the opportunity.  But can she find the box her father supposedly hid there during the war before her assignment is completed?  And before she sees yet another battle lost on the home front - this time, a battle of the heart.

An Outlaw's Heart by Shelley Gray
Seven years ago Russell Champion was betrayed by the two most important women in his life.  Now Russell returns home, but is it too late to make amends with his mother and find closure with his true love?

A Heart So True by Dorothy Love
Abigail Clayton hopes to reconcile with Dr. Wade Bennett and become his wife.  But her father insists she marry her distant cousin Charles Kittridge so the plantations of the two families will be joined.  With her wedding looming, Abby must choose between duty to her family and the yearnings of her own heart.

Love Beyond Limits by Elizabeth Musser
Emily Derracott loves her childhood friend Thomas McGinnis, but she cannot marry a man who doesn't share her strong convictions about the freedmen.  Besides, she harbors a secret love for someone else.  But the prospect of becoming his wife is not only improbable - it is completely impossible.

REVIEW:  This book consists of four novellas, all set in the 19th century: one before the Civil War' two a few years after the Civil War; and the other towards the end of the century.  They are completely separate and are each interesting in their own way.  Check it out for yourself and see what you think.

     To Mend a Dream was probably my favorite of the four.  I liked how the story flowed.  It didn't feel rushed and the timing of everything worked.  My favorite part was how everything worked out in the end.  It is also set in Nashville, one of my favorite cities to visit.

     An Outlaw's Heart was probably my least favorite.  :-(  I had a hard time getting into the story.  I like the concept of this novella and how Russell was able to see his mom.  I also liked how events worked themselves out in the end.  But, the whole thing covered just two days, maybe a week at the most, and just felt rushed.

     A Heart So True was set in Coastal South Carolina just before the Civil War.  I liked this story and how the events worked out.  Part of me was frustrated with Abigail and Wade not coming out early on and telling each other how they felt but I wonder if it was just because of the societal constraints of the time period and the "freedom" we have now.  I like how Abigail stood up to her father in regards to who she wanted to marry and how she wasn't afraid to spend the day with Wade even though his mother protested. 

     Love Beyond Limits is set in Georgia not long after the end of the Civil War when the Klu Klux Klan was terrorizing the countryside and anyone who believed differently from them.  This story is different from any I've read before.  It takes into account the lives of the former slaves, how they fared in the south after the War and how they are trying to adjust to freedom, getting an education and life in general.  Emily's family lives and works alongside of their former slaves and she teaches at the Freedman's school located on the family plantation.  Her relationship with Thomas left me scratching my head.  I understand not wanting to marry someone because their beliefs are different from yours but that bit of information is not widely told in the book.  To me, it seemed like I needed to read between the lines.  I did like how everything worked out by the end of the story, especially the part about Thomas and some misunderstandings that came into play.

This book was provided by Litfuse Publicity Group and Thomas Nelson Publishers 
for review without compensation.

Tamera Alexander is a USA Today best-selling author whose richly drawn characters and thought-provoking plots have earned her devoted readers worldwide, as well as multiple industry awards.  After living in Colorado for seventeen years, Tamera has returned to her Southern roots.  She and her husband make their home in Nashville, where they enjoy life with their two adult children, who live nearby, and Jack, a precious - and precocious - silky terrier.  And all of this just a stone's throw away from the beloved Southern mansions about which she writes.  Visit her at www.tameraalexander.com; on Facebook: tamera.alexander; Twitter: @tameraalexander; and Pinterest: tameraauthor. 

Shelley Gray is the author of The Heart of a Hero series.  Her Amish novel (written as Shelley Shepard Gray) The Protector recently made the New York Times bestseller list.  A native of Texas, she earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in Colorado and taught school for ten years.  She and her husband have two children and live in southern Ohio.  Visit her at www.shelleyshepardgray.com; on Facebook: ShelleyShepardGray; and on Twitter: @ShelleySGray.

Dorothy Love, a native of West Tennessee, makes her home in the Texas Hill Country with her husband and their golden retriever.  An award-winning author of numerous young adult novels, Dorothy made her adult debut with the Hickory Ridge novels.  Visit her at www.dorothylovebooks.com; on Facebook: dorothylovebooks; and Twitter: @WriterDorothy.

Elizabeth Musser writes "Entertainment with a soul" from her writing chalet - toolshed - outside Lyon, France.  Elizabeth's highly acclaimed, bestselling novel The Swan House was named one of Amazon's Top Christian Books of the Year and one of Georgia's Top Ten Novels of the Past 100 Years (Georgia BackRoads, 2009).  All of Elizabeth's novels have been translated into multiple languages.  Two Destinites, the final novel in the Secrets of the Cross trilogy, was a finalist for the 2013 Christy Award.  For over twenty-five years, Elizabeth and her husband, Paul, have been involved in missions work with International Teams.  The Mussers have two sons, a daughter-in-law, and three grandchildren.  Visit her at www.elizabethmusser.com; on Facebook: Elizabeth-Musser; and on Twitter: @LizzieSwanHouse.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Crazy Little Thing Called Love Book Review

A Destination Wedding Novel

SUMMARY:  What if what you thought was your biggest mistake was actually the right choice?
     Vanessa Hollister is newly engaged and planning an elegant Florida destination wedding.  Now if she can only dodge the memories of her first "What was I thinking?" marriage to Logan Hollister.
     Logan and Vanessa met during their senior year of high school when she moved to Florida because her father was stationed at the local military base.  Having the same last name threw Vanessa and Logan together, and Logan's friendship helped Vanessa get past being the new girl in school - again.  Within months, the two eighteen-year-olds had eloped, a crazy, impulsive decision spurred on by Vanessa's heartbreak at the looming possibility of moving one more time.  They truly believed they could make their teenage marriage work, but in less than two years, they divorced because of competing dreams and unresolved expectations.
     Eight years later, Vanessa is stunned to meet Logan on their favorite stretch of beach in Destin, Florida.  When a hurricane hits the Gulf Coast, she and Logan seek safety at the same hurricane shelter and end up battling unexpected renewed feeling for each other.  Now they have to answer the question:  Was their impetuous adolescent marriage a mistake? Or are they wrong to not seize a second chance at a life together?
     Wedding bells and storm clouds collide in the first engaging novel of a brand-new series about destination weddings, the power of love, and the mishaps and missteps that happen on a couple's journey down the aisle to "I do."

REVIEW:  Intrigued by the summary, my interest in the storyline was peaked.  The author does a great job balancing the current events with the back story, filling in all the necessary details as you read along.  I love how Vanessa's best friend Mindy accepted her for who she was and didn't make her feel guilty for not keeping in touch on a more regular basis.  One more thing I liked about this book was the fact that the characters did not rush their relationships. Even though Vanessa struggles with her feelings for Logan, I like how she kept trying to focus on her engagement to Ted, trying to honor the promise she made to him.  Vanessa returned home to Colorado; Logan stayed in Florida.  Vanessa and Ted tried working on their relationship and didn't call it quits right away.  So many books nowadays have the two main characters drop their current relationships and start the new ones too quickly for my comfort.  This book gives some reality to the storyline.
     This is a novel that I really enjoyed.  Check it out for yourself.

This book was provided by Litfuse Publicity Group and Howard Books 
for review without compensation.

Beth Vogt is a nonfiction author and editor who said she’d never write fiction. She’s the wife of an air force physician who said she’d never marry a doctor—or anyone in the military. She’s a mom of four who said she’d never have kids. She’s discovered that God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.”

Monday, July 27, 2015

Hope Harbor Book Review


SUMMARY:  COME HOME TO HOPE HARBOR -  Where hearts heal . . . and love blooms.
     Tracy Campbell never wanted to leave Hope Harbor, Oregon, or the idyllic three-generation cranberry farm where she grew up.  But life - and love - altered her plans.  Now she's home again - with a floundering farm to run . . . a tragic secret . . . and a wounded heart.  Romance is not on her agenda.  Nor is it on Michael Hunter's.  The visitor from Chicago has daunting secrets and devastating regrets of his own.  But when Tracy recruits him to help with a project that is close to her heart, winds of change begin to sweep through Hope Harbor, bringing healing, hope, and love to countless lives - including their own.

REVIEW:  Irene Hannon steps away from her usual suspense genre to pen her latest novel and does a wonderful job.  While it doesn't have the edge-of-your-seat content like her other stories do, this one shows you if you face the hurts and pain of past mistakes, it can and will bring healing to your present and change your future.  I like how the actions of one person touches and changes the lives of  more than ten people.  When one person steps out of their comfort zone, the ripple effects are never ending.  I like how Anna went from being the town recluse, shut away from everyone, to helping so many people all over town.  Michael and Tracy have to face the hurts of their pasts to figure out their future.  I like how they don't give up but support each other through their healing. 
     This is one book you need to check out, along with all of her other novels.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Irene Hannon is the bestselling author of more than forty-five romantic suspense and contemporary romance/women's fiction novels, including the Heroes of Quantico, Guardians of Justice, and Private Justice series, along with That Certain Summer and One Perfect Spring.  Her books have garnered dozens of honors, including two coveted RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America.  She is also a two-time Christy Award finalist.