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


Sunday, May 15, 2016

Counted with the Stars Book Review

Out From Egypt Series
Book One

SUMMARY:  Sold into slavery by her father and forsaken by the man she was supposed to marry, young Egyptian Kiya must serve a mistress who takes pleasure in her humiliation.  When terrifying plagues strike Egypt, Kiya is in the middle of it all.
     Choosing to flee with the Hebrews, Kiya finds herself reliant on a strange God and drawn to a man who despises her people.  With everything she's ever known swept away and now facing the trials of the desert, will she turn back toward Egypt or surrender her life and her future to Yahweh?

REVIEW:  This book was intriguing, engrossing and delightful.  It's the first book I've read that spoke of the plagues and the exodus of the Hebrews from the point of view of an Egyptian slave as she experienced them.  Instead of being in the middle of the action in the throne room, Kiya hears the stories of Moses from a distance.  Kiya went from wealth to slavery to experiencing the move of God as He rescued His people from Pharaoh's grip.  Ms. Cossette shows how God saves His people from the Egyptian soldiers and provides food and water for them, even those not of Hebrew birth.  The depth of characters, their relationships, and the troubles they faced kept my attention the whole time and made it difficult to put down, even for a moment.
     This was a most enjoyable novel.  I cannot wait for the next one to be released so see how the rest of the story plays out. Connilyn Cossette is an author I am keeping on my must read list and look forward to anything else she will write.

This book was provided by Bethany House for review without compensation.

Connilyn Cossette is scribbling notes on spare paper, mumbling about her imaginary friends and reading obscure, out-of-print history books when she is not homeschooling her two sweet kids (with a full pot of coffee at hand).  There is nothing she likes better than digging into the rich, ancient world of the Bible and uncovering buried gems of grace that point toward Jesus.  Although a Pacific Northwest native, she now lives near Dallas, Texas.  Counted With the Stars is her first novel.  Connect with her at www.connilyncossette.com.

An Unbroken Heart Book Review

Amish of Birch Creek Series
Book Two

SUMMARY:  An argument.  A crash.  In an instant, Joanna's world is changed forever.
     One minute, Joanna Schrock was arguing with her parents, and the next, her parents' lives were claimed in a hit-and-run buggy accident.  Her body is broken, but her heart is in even deeper pain - after all, how do you cope with your parents' deaths when your last words were spoken in anger?
     After an extended stint in a physical rehabilitation center, Joanna re-enters her Amish life.  But nothing is the same - not even her feelings for Andrew Beiler.
     Joanna has loved Andrew since the age of twelve, and her feelings have not changed throughout the years.  She is thrilled when Andrew wants to get married, but she wonders whether it's love he's feeling, or pity.  As the couple's wedding date approaches, Joanna isn't overcome with the deep joy she was hoping to feel; instead, she's wracked with anxiety and guilt.
     Joanna hears God whispering to her, Be strong and courageous, but she's afraid that courage looks a lot like walking away from her dreams and into the plan of her Heavenly Father.
     If Joanna takes the first step toward healing, will it cost her everything she's ever wanted? Or could God be changing the desires of her heart?

REVIEW:  I like it when you feel you are part of the background of a story.  This author made me feel like I was there, watching the events has they happened.  There were times when I would get mad at Joanna for not speaking up, letting people know how she felt, instead of just going along with what she thought everyone wanted.  Even though she made a mess of things, she had good intentions and still wanted matters to work out the right way.  Andrew's unconditional love for Joanna was inspirational.  Sometimes I wanted to grab him up by the collar and give him a shake after Joanna's untimely decision but I understood his response. 
     This is the second book in the Amish of Birch Creek series. To fully understand all the elements of this story, you will need to read the first.  The Unbroken Heart overlaps with A Reluctant Bride for a bit and then moves off on its own.  I love how both compositions work together while also being their own accounts.
     This is an enjoyable book and series.  If you like Amish fiction, you will like these novels.

This book was provided by Fiction Guild and Thomas Nelson Publishers
for review without compensation.

Kathleen Fuller is the author of several best-selling novels, including A Man of His Word and Treasuring Emma, as well as a middle-grade Amish series, the Mysteries of Middlefield.  Visit her online at www.kathleenfuller.com, Twitter: @TheKatJam or Facebook: Kathleen Fuller.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Goodbye Bride Book Review

Summer Harbor Series
Book Two

SUMMARY:  She only remembers loving him.  But he can't forget the way she left.
     Lucy Lovett can't remember the last seven months of her life.  She doesn't remember leaving her fiance' Zac Callahan weeks before their wedding or moving to Portland, Maine.  And she sure doesn't remember getting engaged to another man.  All she remembers is loving Zac more than life itself.
     Zac was just beginning to get his life back on track after Lucy left him with no explanation.  And now she's back - vulnerable, homeless, and still in love with him.  Has he been given a second chance with the only woman who stirs his passion and haunts his dreams?
     Lucy knows she must unlock those missing months and discover why she threw everything away.  And Zac knows that if he follows his heart he'll win back the love of his life - but if Lucy's memory returns, his would-be bride might say goodbye forever.

REVIEW:  The idea of someone having amnesia and thinking they are getting married to one person when, in reality, they have broken up with them and are marrying someone else is an interesting take on a love story. My heart went out to Lucy, who's world has been turned upside down and rocked off its foundations.  I like how, even though she struggled with trying to remember, she did the best she could to make the best out of a horrible situation.  Probably my favorite part was the way the author tied Lucy's dad leaving to her present situation and how she finally finds resolution for past hurts she caused and that were done to her.
     Even though Lucy's return with amnesia only causes Zac heartache, I like how he helps her find a place to stay, provides a job when she needs it and helps Lucy mend fences with the townsfolk she hurt when she left abruptly when she broke off their wedding.
     While reading, I had some ideas of how I thought the story would end.  I like how the author didn't follow the usual track but created an ending all her own.
     This is the second book in the Summer Harbor series but it is also a stand alone.  Not having read the first one did not cause any confusion or trouble.  This would be a great book or series to read while at the beach or just for some fun summer reading.

This book was provided by Fiction Guild and Thomas Nelson Publishers
for review without compensation.

Denise Hunter is the internationally published bestselling author of more than twenty books, including Dancing with Fireflies and The Convenient Groom.  She has won the Holt Medallion Award, the Reader's Choice Award, and the Forward Book of the Year Award and is a RITA finalist.  When Denise isn't orchestrating love lives on the written page, she enjoys traveling with her family, drinking green tea, and playing drums.  Denise makes her home in Indiana where she and her husband are raising three boys.  Learn more about Denise online at DeniseHunterBooks.com; Facebook: authordenisehunter or Twitter: @DeniseAHunter.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Inheritance Book Review

Secrets of the Shetlands
Book One

SUMMARY:  Change is coming to Whales Reef
     The death of clan patriarch Macgregor Tulloch has thrown the tiny Shetland Islands community o Whales Reef into turmoil.  Everyone assumed Tulloch's heir to be his much-loved grand-nephew David.  But when no will is discovered, David's calculating cousin Hardy submits his own claim to the inheritance, an estate that controls most of the island's land.  And Hardy knows a North Sea oil investor who will pay dearly for that control.
     While the competing claims are investigated, the courts have frozen the estate's assets, leaving many of the locals in dire financial straits.  The future of the island - and its traditional way of life - hangs in the balance.
     Meanwhile, Loni Ford enjoys a rising career in a large investment firm in Washington, D.C.  Yet, in spite of outward success, she is privately plagued by questions of identity.  Orphaned as a young child, she was raised by her grandparents, and wile she loves them dearly, she feels completely detached from her roots.  That is, until a mysterious letter arrives from a Scottish solicitor . . . .
     Past and present collide in master storyteller Michael Phillips' dramatic new saga of loss and discovery, of grasping and grace.

REVIEW:  If you like books that tie the past and present together, this is one you need to check out.  While the story does jump back and forth, it does so in an orderly and seamless fashion.  I love how the author includes a family tree because it is very important to keep everyone straight.  I also love how the sections and chapters are laid out.  With a story of this magnitude, it was nice having the table of contents and genealogy to fall back on to for reference.
     This novel grabbed my attention and kept it until the very end, leaving me wanting more.  The author made me feel like I was there, part of the scenery, watching the events as they happened.  It is not a book that you can read quickly.  The intricacies of the past and present narratives, along with the Scottish island dialect, make you slow down.  When you take your time, you will understand and appreciate the small details that play a huge part later on.
     This is one series that I will definitely take the time to savor when the others are released.

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

Michael Phillips is a bestselling author who has penned more than seventy books, both fiction and nonfiction.  Michael and his wife, Judy, spend time each year in Scotland, but make their home near Sacramento, California.  Visit Michael's website at www.macdonaldphillips.com.

Monday, May 2, 2016

The Magnolia Duchess Book Review

Gulf Coast Chronicles Series
Book Three

SUMMARY:  As the War of 1812 rages across the newly formed United States, another war rages in Fiona Lanier's heart - - one that threatens to tear her family apart.
     Fiona can scarcely take in the news of her brother's capture and imprisonment by the British Navy.  It is almost as unbelievable as the half-drowned British sailor who is washed ashore on the beach of Navy Cove.
     Charlie Kincaid claims to have no memory of his life before being discovered by Fiona, but in a world that seems saturated with treachery, she cannot be sure he is telling the truth.
     As Charlie's memory returns in agonizing jags and crashes, he and Fiona discover that falling in love may be as inevitable as the tide.  But when political allegiances collide, they'll have to decide where their true loyalties lie.

REVIEW:  The latest book in Beth White's Gulf Coast Chronicles is set in coastal Alabama during the War of 1812 and picks up about twenty years after the previous one.  I really like Fiona.  She wears boys' clothes while training horses for Army officers.  She takes care of her brothers and uncle but she can take care of herself with a pistol, if need be.  Fiona isn't all tomboy; she does like dressing up and appreciates the finer things in life.  She isn't afraid of hard work and getting her hands dirty. 
     Even though Charlie wanted to stay in Alabama with Fiona, I appreciate how he felt he needed to finish his obligation to serve in the British Navy. Even though he didn't agree with the British trying to take over New Orleans and Mobile, he was determined to do his best where God put him and finish the job he started. 
     This series has become one of my favorites.  I like the family connections and the interesting stories that have come about in each.  I like how the author has taken major events in US history and brought them to life.  This is one series I look forward to reading and will hate to see it come to an end.  The only suggestion I could make would be to put a family tree in each book.  There is one on the author's page but I had trouble pulling it up on my phone.  It would be nice to have one readily available in the book to glance at quickly when a refresher is needed.  Other than that, keep up the excellent work!!

This book was provided by the author and Revell for review without compensation.

Beth White's day job is teaching music at an inner-city high school in historic Mobile, Alabama.  A native Mississippian, she writes historical romance with a Southern drawl and is the author of The Pelican Bride and The Creole Princess.  Her novels have won the American Christian Writers Carol Award, the RT Book Club Reviewers' Choice Award, and the Inspirational Reader's Choice Award.  Learn more at www.bethwhite.net

A Dream of Miracles Book Review

An Amish Wonders Novel
Book Three

SUMMARY:  Amish widow Mattie vows never to love again . . . until a suspicious outsider with a shadowy past comes crashing into her fragile world.
     Mattie Diener can barely keep it together.  A young Amish widow and mother of two young children, she faces the lingering heartbreak of lost love, her son's mysterious illness, and a torrent of accusations that threaten to undo her.
     Bo Lambright is a fast-rising social services investigator whose high-society mother won't rest until she finds his Mrs. Right.  Despite Bo's worldly success, the raw ache of a shadowy past and a series of unsettling dreams have left him reeling.
     When Mattie and Bo cross paths, all signs point to disaster.  Yet as they face a crucible of trials and tragedies together, longings begin to stir that seem destined only to end in more heartbreak.  Is a miracle possible - not only of healing but of forbidden love?  What secrets lie in Bo's dreams?  And will Mattie find the courage to face her uncertain future . . . or will she simply run away?

REVIEW:  The concept of this book was one I haven't seen before.  It is Old Order Amish meets the modern legal system and all the complications that go with it.  Mattie is trying to take care of her sick child.  Trouble begins when her regular physician is out on vacation. The young doctor replacing him is not familiar in the ways of the Amish community and comes in making wrong assumptions that has Mattie under suspicion of child abuse.  When events start spiraling out of control, Mattie doesn't know what to do.
     My favorite character is Bo.  I love how he tries to keep up with the kids who have been under his care as a social services investigator.  Bo is genuinely concerned about them and does what he can to keep them on the right path.  While he investigates Mattie's child abuse allegations, he gets involved with her two children and comes to love them like his own.  When the truth about Nathan's condition is finally realized, I love how Bo is quick to get the correct information to his superiors and acquit Mattie.
     There were times I wished Mattie would speak up for herself and not let people run over her and make false assumptions.  It seems like a lot of speculation and worry could have been avoided if she would have just asserted herself.
     This was a good book with a pleasant ending.  Even though it is the third book in the series, I did not feel like I was missing anything by not reading the others.

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

Ruth Reid is a full-time pharmacist who lives in Florida with her husband and three children.  When attending the Ferris State University College of Pharmacy in Big Rapids, Michigan, she lived on the outskirts of an Amish community and had several occasions to visit the Amish farms.  Her interest grew into love as she saw the beauty in living a simple live.  Visit Ruth online at ruthreid.comwww.ruthreid.com, on Facebook at Author Ruth Reid and on Twitter at @authorruthreid

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Kissed by a Cowboy Book Review

A Four of Hearts Ranch Romance
Book Three

SUMMARY:  Cassidy was looking for a home and a place to belong . . . not for a cowboy to steal her heart.
     Having lived through her parents' endless string of "matrimonial bliss gone wrong," Cassidy Starr knows when the odds are not in her favor.  Divorced and humiliated, her faith on rocky ground, Cassidy is through with love.  She's been bucked off that horse far too many times.  Instead, she returns to Wishing Springs, Texas, and the rundown farm she's inherited from her great aunt Roxie.  She's reopen the strawberry farm and a bed & breakfast and follow in her aunt's footsteps, remaining forever - independent, happy . . . and single.
     Rancher Jarrod Monahan's hands are full running the ranch, looking after his ailing grandfather, and chasing down a group of rustlers on the loose.  He's pushed his longing for a family to the bottom of his list of priorities.  Besides, he was in love once before but ran scared and lost his shot at happiness.  But suddenly, the biggest regret of his life has moved in next door with a wounded heart, determined to become a spinster . . . and that's a challenge that Jarrod can't pass up.
     Jarrod sets his mind to breaking down the walls around Cassidy's stubborn heart.  How can he show her that a cowboy's kiss lasts forever?  For the good folks of Wishing Springs, falling in love has never been so much fun to witness.

REVIEW:  This was a fun book to read.  While doubtful about the title, I liked the interaction of Cassidy and Jarrod throughout the story and everyone in Wishing Springs, TX. 
     After a bad marriage, Cassidy is determined to stand on her own two feet and not have to depend on anyone.  I like how she is able to do most of the work and understand why she didn't want Jarrod to help.  But, in reality, when you look at the size of all the projects she needed to complete, sometimes her rejection of Jarrod's help was questionable.  But I totally understand.
     Jarrod and his brothers take great care of their grandfather, who has Alzheimer's.  The love and concern for him, and the ranch that he started, is sweet and an example we all should follow.
     Even though this is the third book in the series, there is enough explanation given throughout the story to help the reader follow along if they have not read the others.  Now, that said, the side story of Pebble and Rand seemed out of place but it all made sense in the end. 
     This is a fun and lighthearted story about redemption after a big fall and the grace that abounds if you let God work in your life. 

This book was provided by Fiction Guild and Thomas Nelson Publishers 
for review without compensation.

Debra Clopton is a multi-award winning novelist first published in 2005 and has written more than 22 novels.  Along with writing, Debra helps her husband teach the youth at their local Cowboy Church.  Debra is the author of the acclaimed Mule Hollow Matchmaker Series, and her goal is to shine a light toward God while she entertains readers with her words.  Visit her website at www.debraclopton.com.  She can also be found on Twitter at @debraclopton and on Facebook at debra.clopton.5www.facebook.com/debra.clopton.5.