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?

Thursday, May 31, 2012

After All Book Review

A Hanover Falls Novel

SUMMARY:  Eighteen months after the tragic Grove Street Fire took the life of her husband, David, and four other heroic firefighters, Susan Marlowe thinks she's finally beginning to heal.
     But then she discovers that David carried a secret to his grave.  A secret that changes everything she thought their marriage had been.  For the sake of their sons, can Susan forgive the unforgivable?
     Andrea Morley lost her closest friend in the fire.  But she has no right to mourn him.  Instead, she must forever grieve in silence - because her dearest friend was someone else's husband.
     Peter Brennan carries the weight of the world on his shoulders.  As Hanover Falls' fire chief, he was responsible for the brave firefighters who lost their lives that awful November night.
     Can he ever shake the feeling that he should have somehow prevented the tragedy?
     As he tries to rebuild the team at Clemens County's Station 2, it seems he might find comfort in the arms of the woman he least expected.

REVIEW:  Susan runs the Grove Street Homeless Shelter (where the fire that claimed her husband's life along with four of his co-workers took place) in Hanover Falls and is constantly fighting opposition from townspeople and a reporter from the local newspaper to close it.  She is also struggling with her feelings for Pete, David's old boss, and problems she's having with her twenty-year-old son Davy.  On top of all that, it looks like she may have a stalker.  
     After All is the third and final book in the Hanover Falls series.  Like the second one, Forever After, it stands on its own very well.  I like the way the story played out, how problems you thought were solved in the first two novels appeared again with a different outcome.  The struggles each of the characters have all seem to revolve around the loss eighteen months earlier and David's affair with Andrea.  The problems with Andrea at the end of the book were a little predictable but I was caught by surprise by how the person originally thought to have started the fire was innocent and who the actual person was.
     This was a good book.   I am still interested in going back and finding the first book to see how the series got started.  I am also interested in reading anything else this author is writing.

This book was provided by Glass Road Public Relations for review without compensation.
Deborah Raney is the award-winning author of several novels, including A Nest of Sparrows and the RITA-award winning Beneath a Southern Sky and its sequel, After the Rains.  Deborah's first novel, A Vow to Cherish, was the inspiration for the World Wide Pictures' highly acclaimed film of the same title, which in December 2004 aired on prime time network TV for the second time. Deb's novella, Playing by Heart, was a National Readers Choice Award winner and a 2004 Christy Award finalist.  A previous novel for Howard/Simon & Schuster, Yesterday's Embers, appeared on the ECPA Christian fiction bestseller left.  Known for her sensitive portrayal of family struggles and relationships, Deb has also written nonfiction books and articles and often speaks at women's retreats and writers' conferences around the country.  She and her husband, illustrator/author Ken Raney, have four children and make their home in Kansas.  For more information about her or her books, visit her website at

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Ride of Her Life Book Review

Lake Manawa Summers

SUMMARY:  She's planted firmly on solid ground.  He's ready to sweep her off her feet.  
     The only man pragmatic Lilly Hart needs in her life is a six-year-old.  Widowed for three years, Lilly has decided to leave the home of her intrusive in-laws to stand on her own.  However, her in-laws find her new life as a cook at Lake Manawa utterly unsuitable for their grandson.  When an argument ensues, a handsome stranger - who designs roller coasters, of all things - intercedes on her behalf.  But Lilly is not about to get involved with any man, especially this cocky gentleman.  Little does she know she is about to begin the ride of her life.  
     Filled with the sweet romance of summer, The Ride of Her Life will have you laughing out loud and sighing contentedly as you spend the summer of 1906 at Lake Manawa.

REVIEW:  The year is 1906 in Lake Manawa, Iowa.  Lilly has her hands full cooking for the roller coaster construction workers at the Lake Manawa Park diner, training Eugenia to cook and how to work in a restaurant plus taking care of her precocious son, Levi.  Her in-laws, who are very wealthy, want Levi to go to a boarding school in the East and are trying to fight Lilly to do so.  Nick, the boss of the construction crew and the roller coaster designer, tries to help Lilly but she is determined to do it all on her own. 
     This was a pretty interesting book. I like how the characters develop and how the story flows.  Lilly's character is strong and resilient after growing up a servant for a rich family, marrying her wealthy husband, and trying to raise her son on her own after his death.  Nick is strong but compassionate.  He can relate to some of Lilly's struggles and wants to ease her burdens as much as he can.
     After reading this book, I realized it is the third book in the Lake Manawa Summers series.  It reads very well on its own but I would love to go back and read the other two to get all of the juicy details of Lilly's friends Marguerite and Emily and their husbands.  I can even see a potential story for book four with Eugenia and Mark as the headliners.
     This is a great book that I highly recommend for some fun summer reading.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Available May 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

A history buff, antique collector, and freelance graphic designer, Lorna Seilstad is the author of Making Waves and A Great Catch.  She draws her setting from her home state of Iowa.  A former high school English and journalism teacher, she has won several online writing awards and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. For more information, check out her website at

Saturday, May 26, 2012

How We Love Our Kids Book Review

The 5 Love Styles of Parenting
One Small Change in You ... One Big Change in Your Kids

SUMMARY:  Having problems with your kids?  What if you are the problem and you just can't see it?  How We Love Our Kids offers a unique approach, to help you as a parent transform your kids by making specific changes in how you love.  It's the only parenting book that reveals the unseen forces that shape every interaction with your kids.

  • Identify which of the five love styles you have.
  • Discover the surprising dynamics that shape your parenting.
  • Get rid of your "buttons" so  your kids can't push them.
  • Create a close connection with your kids that will last a lifetime.
  • Learn the seven gifts every child needs.
     Based on years of research in the area of attachment and bonding, How We Love Our Kids shows parents how to overcome the predictable challenges tha arise out of the five love styles and helps parents cultivate a secure, deep connection with a child of any age.  Retool your reactions and refocus on how you love.  Start today.  Watch your kids flourish and thrive as they receive what was missing in your love.

     Includes four self-assessments and powerful tools to use with children of all ages.

SUMMARY:  Like all parents, I am constantly looking for ways to become a better parent and to help my kids become better adjusted to life.  This book seemed like it could be a tool to help me in my journey.  But, to be honest, this book was difficult for me to read.  Now, it is written in an easy-to-read manner and was filled with information, personal stories and helps.   The difficult part was identifying which parenting style I had.  Since I fit some of the characteristics of a couple of them but didn't fit any completely, I wasn't sure which style to identify with and work on.  In my opinion, a test to help identify which one fits you better (along the lines of a spiritual gifts test or the The Five Love Languages test) would help readers tremendously.  Having difficulty identifying my style made it more difficult to finish the book because I kept wondering what I was missing or needed to work on.  The helps in the back are good but I had lost interest quickly.  Hopefully, this book will work for someone reading this post but it wasn't for me.  I will try to read it again later to see if it can become a useful aid but it will be a while before I do.

This book was provided by Waterbrook Multnomah for review without compensation.

Milan and Kay Yerkovich are parents of four grown children.  Milan is a pastoral counselor and co-host of the radio show, New Life Live! with Stephen Arterburn.  Milan has a master's degree in biblical studies and is the founder of Relationship 180, a ministry that helps leaders build healthy relationships.  Kay has a master's degree in counseling and has specialized in successful bonding between couples, parents, and children for more than twenty years.  They provide resources in these areas at  When they aren't traveling to speak, the Yerkovichs enjoy their grandchildren.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Love Forbidden Book Review

Heart of the Rockies

SUMMARY:  Moved by a compassionate heart and the desire for adventure, twenty-year-old Shiloh Wainwright impulsively accepts a teaching position at the White River Indian Agency in northwestern Colorado.  Eager to use her skills to help improve the lives of Ute Indian children, she looks forward to a fulfilling, independent life on the Colorado frontier.
     But her new job isn't what she imagined it would be, and Shiloh soon finds herself caught in the cross fire between the Utes, their unyielding Indian agent, and a demanding US government.  Her unexpected encounter with a half-Ute childhood friend, Jesse Blackwater, only complicates matters as they battle their growing feelings for each other amidst spiraling tensions that threaten to explode into a catastrophic uprising.
     Set amongst the wilds of the Colorado Rockies in 1879, this tale from bestselling and award-winning author Kathleen Morgan explores the transformational powers of forgiveness, compassion, and God's healing love with artistry and authenticity.

REVIEW:  Set during a turbulent time in the western frontier, Shiloh is determined to help the Ute Indian tribe.  Her knowledge of the Ute language (taught to her by her Ute Indian nanny) and the love of their traditions help her land the job of teaching the Indian children.  She knows educating the children will help better understand the ways of the white people as the demands of the US government become stronger and harsher.  
     The author really drew me into the different stories.  Jesse struggles with his feelings for Shiloh, knowing she will face discrimination if they pursue their relationship just has he has being half Indian.  Shiloh fights against the memories of the injustice Jesse faced at her ranch while they were kids at the hands of her sister and with the discrimination he faces every day from outsiders.  She also struggles with feelings of animosity towards her sister because of what happened with Jesse that caused him to be whipped.  I like the fact that Shiloh didn't run and didn't give in when things got rough.  She stood her ground and did the best she could during a few very difficult situations.  She was a strong woman but wasn't afraid to ask for help when she needed it.
     This is the second book in the Heart of the Rockies series.  In the third book, I would like to see how Jesse and Shiloh deal with where they are going to live and how their relationship weathers the ignorance of others but I know it will focus on another member of the Wainwright clan.
     If you like western history and/or are looking for a wonderful book to read, I would highly recommend this one.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Available May 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Kathleen Morgan is the award-winning author of many novels, including A Heart Divided and the bestselling Brides of Culdee Creek series.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Pursuit of Lucy Banning Book Review

SUMMARY:  She has a secret to keep.  But will she give her heart away?
     Lucy Banning may live on the exclusive Prairie Avenue among Chicago's rich and famous, but her heart lies elsewhere.  Expected to marry an up-and-coming banker from a respected family, Lucy fears she will be forced to abandon her charity work and squeeze herself into the mold of the well-dressed wife who spends most of her time and money redecorating.
     When she meets Will, an unconventional young architect who is working on plans for the upcoming 1893 World's Fair, Lucy imagines a life lived on her own terms.  Can she break away from her families expectations?  And will she ever be loved for who she truly is?
     Get swept away into the lavish world of Chicago's high society as Olivia Newport brings to life an age of glitz and grandeur, start social contrasts, and one woman who dares to cross class lines for what she believes.

REVIEW:  Lucy is unlike most of the high society women of her era.  She is deeply concerned for the orphans in Chicago and does what she can to help them out.  She even dresses down in store bought dresses (a major no-no with High Society) so she can blend in with everyone instead of  standing out wearing her custom made clothes.  She also is determined to further her education now that the newly opened University of Chicago accept women students.  Her parents and fiance' believe her charity work will end once she is married but Lucy is determined it won't.
     This book is very well written.  I like the different stories going on within the book- Lucy and her struggle to decide whether or not to break off her engagement to Daniel; Lucy's determination to hide the fact that she is taking one class at a time from her parents and Daniel; Charlotte, Lucy's maid, hiding the fact that she is a single mom to a newborn at a time when that was extremely frowned upon; Lucy working with Charlotte to keep the knowledge of her baby a secret from everyone; and Lucy's developing relationship with Will, a friend of her brother Leo.  I really enjoyed everything about this book.
     This is the first book in the Avenue of Dreams series.  I can see a couple of potential stories for the upcoming books so I will be excited to read them when they come out.
      If you are looking for a fun book to read this summer (or any other time of the year), I suggest trying this one.  I think you will be well-pleased.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Available May 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Olivia Newport's novels twist through time to discover where faith and passions meet.  Her husband and two twentysomething children provide welcome distraction from the people stomping through her head on the way into her books.  She chases joy in stunning Colorado at the foot of the Rockies, where daylilies grow as tall as she is.  For more information abut the author, to connect with her and learn more about the series, go to her website at