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?

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Marriage in Middlebury Book Review

SUMMARY:  One decision changed both their lives... but will love win in the end?
     Charlotte Rose Hill enjoys a comfortable life serving up country delicacies, uniquely blended teas, and matchmaking advice for her quirky, devoted customers.  The only thing lacking is someone to share it with.
     At eighteen she denied Sam Wilder's marriage proposal after his family convinced her to walk away from their relationship.  They both moved on...or so she thought.  When Sam walks back into her life more than a decade later, Charlotte is surprised that her heart still quickens.  But is it because of his presence?  Or because of the presence of Sam's new fiancee?
     A second chance at love doesn't happen often, but their past may keep them apart.  Is it too late for Sam and Charlotte?

REVIEW:  This was an interesting story with lots of quirky characters who move in and out of the novel.  Sometimes it was hard remember who each person was, their role and relevance to the main story, and their relationships to the other members.  There are also at least three different tales woven together around Sam and Charlotte's characters and stories that worked together pretty easily that make this book work.  It was an easy read that will tug at your heartstrings.  My 12-year-old daughter even liked it.

This book was provided by Litfuse for review without compensation.

Award-winning author, Anita Higman, has written more than twenty books for adults and children, including Winter in Full Bloom, A Merry Little Christmas, and Love Finds You in Humble, Texas.  She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and lives in the Houston area.  Learn more about the author at

Aloha Rose Book Review

Quilts of Love
Every Quilt Has A Story

SUMMARY:  Will conflict with one man keep Laney from her dream of a loving family?
     When Laney Carrigan sets out to find her birth family, her only clue is the Hawai'ian quilt - a red rose snowflake applique on a white background - in which she was found wrapped as an infant.  Centering her search on the Big Island and battling fears of rejection, Laney begins a painstaking journey toward her true heritage.
     Kai Barnes, however, is determined to protect the people he loves.  He thinks Laney is nothing more than a gold-digger and blocks every move she makes.  As their conflict escalates, it puts at risk the one thing that Kai and Laney both want most - a family.

REVIEW:  This was an interesting book.  Laney has always felt a little out of place because of many different things:  her darker coloring, being adopted, moving a lot as an Army brat, and now with her dad's remarriage after her mother's passing some years earlier.  Something that stood out to me was the sacrifices made by both Laney's birth mom and adopted mom.  Her birth mother, Rose, knew she could not care for her child like she needed so she finds a family to take the baby, even though the family is unsuspecting.  Laney's adopted mom, Gisela, gives up her family in Germany because they would not accept Laney as hers because of her dark coloring.  She often heard rude comments that the child was the product of an affair her husband had while serving in Asia. 
     As Laney struggles to feel like she fits in with her birth family, I like how her grandmother, in the early stages of dementia, loves and accepts her without any hesitation or reservation.  I also like how Aunt Teah, who has a huge heart, adopted Kai, a young boy who came from a very difficult home life, and loved him just like he was her own.
     This is a good book that has enough twists to keep you guessing on how things will work out in the end.

This book was provided by Litfuse for review without compensation.

Lisa Carter has taught at the university, high school, and middle school levels and currently teaches music at a preschool.  She is a member of the ACFW, RWA and several online writers' forums and has been published in MomSense and Christian Parenting Today.  Lisa and her husband, David, live in North Carolina and have two beautiful daughters.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Christmas Quilt Book Review

Quilts of Love
Every Quilt Has A Story

SUMMARY:  Babies have their own schedule.  But so does God.  Annie's life is deliciously full as the Christmas season approaches. She helps her husband, Samuel, attend to the community's minor medical needs.  She occasionally assists Belinda, the local midwife.  And most days, she finds herself taking the buggy to her brother Adam's home.
     When her friend Leah is due to deliver her first child before Christmas, Annie becomes determined to finish a crib quilt before the boppli arrives.  But God's plans are different from Annie's, and she may not finish the quilt in time.  As each piece of the quilt comes together, Annie discovers the quilt holds far greater significance than she ever imagined.

REVIEW:  This is a sweet novel about best friends and sisters-in-law who go through their first pregnancies together.  I like how the girls used the quilt for one of Leah's twins to change their outlook during difficult circumstances. Using Galatians 5:22-23 regarding the fruit of the Spirit and the nine squares of the crib quilt, they told a story that matched each fruit and started focusing on positive things instead of negative.  Doing this not only changes their outlooks but their husbands and the people around them.  This book is a great way to start off the Christmas season.
    The author mentions that this book returns to visit Annie, Samuel and their friends from her novel, A Simple Amish Christmas.  This book does not seem like a follow-up (it's not quite a sequel) and the extra characters and their relationship to Annie and Samuel are explained very well.

This book was provided by Litfuse for review without compensation.

Vannetta Chapman is the author of five books about the Amish and has published more than one hundred articles in Christian family magazines.  She discovered her love for the Amish while researching her grandfather's birthplace in Albion, Pennsylvania.  Vannetta lives in Texas hill country with her husband.

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Simple Christmas Wish Book Review

SUMMARY:  One GIRL in need of a home.  One WOMAN in search of a home for her heart.  One CHRISTMAS where it all seems possible.
     Rachel Milligan never imagined that she and her seven-year-old niece would spend the week before Christmas on a quaint Amish farm in Ohio.  But with so many unexpected occurrences of late, perhaps she shouldn't have been surprised.
     With her young niece Holly in tow, Rachel anxiously makes her way from Chicago to Ohio's Amish country.  As love begins to blossom, family secrets emerge, and old wounds are healed, Rachel realizes that she will do whatever it takes to ensure that Holly has the loving family she needs.
     Join bestselling author Melody Carlson on an emotional journey into the heart of what family truly means at Christmastime.

REVIEW:  This book has a few twists and turns I wasn't expecting.  Without giving too much away because it would ruin the ending for you, I was astonished at some of the directions the author took.  Not in a bad way astonished, but just "I hadn't thought about that happening." One of the relationships seemed a little unorthodox but I guess it is possible.  I love the ending and how it all works out.  This is a good book but make sure you have some tissue handy.  You will need them in some areas.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books with sales of more than five million.  She is the author of several Christmas books, including the bestselling The Christmas Box, The Christmas Dog, Christmas at Harrington's, and The Christmas Pony.  She received a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her many books, including the Diary of a Teenage Girl series and Finding Alice.  She and her husband live in central Oregon.  For more information about Melody, visit her website at

Christmas at Harmony Hill Book Review

A Shaker Story

SUMMARY:  A Stirring Story of Healing, Hope, and Home at Christmas
    It is 1864 and the nation is torn apart by civil war when Heather Worth discovers she is with child.  With her husband at the front and nowhere else to turn, she seeks refuge in the Shaker village of Harmony Hill.  Amid the tumult of the times, Heather yearns for the peace she sees in this strange community.  But can this longing really be fulfilled amid these people with their peculiar beliefs about family?
     As Christmas approaches, the joy of new life and the love that is born of forgiveness may hold the answer.
     Join bestselling author Ann H. Gabhard for a peek into the world of the Shakers - and the world of the human heart.

REVIEW:   This is an interesting book.  Never having read much about the Shakers other than the little bit I learned in History class many years ago, I was curious to see what this book was about.  Even though they were basically isolationists, the Shakers did not turn away anyone in need.  I like how the author sets up the story by having Heather's Aunt Sophrena living in this commune.  Though they do not want you to contact family outside their community, Sophrena had corresponded with Susan, Heather's mom on occasion, paving the way for Heather's stay with the Shakers before her baby's birth.  While the community dynamics are strange to me, they are hard workers and take good care of Heather and her child.  I love the tenderness, affection and caring portrayed in this tome.  The community cares for Heather and the baby; Sophrena cares for Heather and the child, much to her angst.  Gideon loves his wife and wants to be with her.  Because of the love Beth has for her sister, she defies her dad to help a cold and hungry Heather. This is a good book and a fairly quick read.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Ann H. Gabhart is the bestselling author of several Shaker novels - The Outsider, The Believer, The Seeker, The Blessed, and The Gifted - as well as other historical novels, including Angel Sister, Small Town Girl, and Words Spoken True.  She lives with her husband a mile from where she was born in rural Kentucky.  Find out more at 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Jesus Story Book Review

Everything That Happens in the 
New Testament in 
Plain English

SUMMARY:  Rediscover this compelling story.  The story of Jesus is the most remarkable ever told.  It's an exciting adventure, a tender love story, and a drama full of danger, betrayal and the ultimate sacrifice.  But sometimes the genealogies, the confusing repetition, and the varying order of events in the Gospels can distract readers from this powerful narrative.  Or maybe you've heard the story so many times that it has lost its impact.
     Here, Dr. William Marty presents the complete narrative of Jesus in an easy-to-read, chronological account.  It's a fascinating retelling of everything from his birth to his ascension - as well as what happened in the church after he left.  The Jesus Story is perfect if you want to get to know Jesus better or recapture the amazement of hearing his story for the first time.

REVIEW:  This was an interesting book.  I've read through the New Testament chronologically before and found it tiring going back and forth between all four gospels and letters.  This book lays everything out in an orderly fashion.  Some may have a small issue with where some of the miracles and stories fall on the timeline but I didn't.  Some stories made me go back and re-read the gospels to see what the original writers had to say but that wasn't very often.  This book also covers the book of Acts, the Letters and Revelation, showing how they also fall in on the timeline after Jesus' resurrection.  The only problem I had (and it was small) was sometimes the book was a little dry.  It is not written as a fiction story but just putting everything in order.  This would be a great reference book for a seasoned Christian or a bible study leader.  It would also be a great start for a new Christian wanting to learn more about Jesus and early Christianity.

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

Dr. William H. Marty is a professor at Moody Bible Institute.  He has written two other books:  The Whole Bible Story and The World of Jesus.  Dr. Marty lives in Chicago with his wife, Linda. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

To Know You Book Review

SUMMARY:  Julia Whittaker's rocky past yielded two daughters, both given up for adoption as infants.  Now she must find them to try to save her son.
     Julia and Matt Whittaker's son has beaten the odds for thirteen years only to have the odds - and his liver- crash precipitously.  The only hope for his survival is a "living liver" transplant, but the transplant list is long and Dillon's time is short.  His two older half-sisters, born eighteen months apart to two different fathers, offer his only hope for survival.
     But can Julia ask a young woman - someone she surrendered to strangers long ago and has never spoken with - to make such a sacrifice to save a brother she's never known?  Can she muster the courage to journey back into a shame-filled season of her life, face her choices and their consequences, and find any hope of healing?
     And what if she discovers in her own daughters' lives that a history of foolish choices threatens to repeat itself?
     Julia knows she's probably embarking on a fool's errand - searching for the daughters she abandoned only now that she needs something from them.  But love compels Julia to take this journey.  Can grace and forgiveness compel her daughters to join her?
     In To Know You, Shannon Ethridge and Kathryn Mackel explore how the past creates the present ... and how even the most shattered lives can be redeemed.

REVIEW:  This book is very interesting.  The idea of having to go to the daughters you gave up at birth and ask them to help the child you kept is a hard decision to make but one Julia and her husband decide to do.  I like how the authors did not gloss over the difficult parts but shows the readers that we all have choices and, sometimes, we have to face difficult consequences.  Some parts were harder to read than most because of the emotions involved and the choices that were made when you knew they were the wrong ones.
     When I first started reading this book, I had some difficulty following at times because of all the different characters involved with their own story lines and background information.  But, as I continued reading, following everything became a little easier.  The ending was not what I expected but I loved it.  One of the problems that occurred during a visit to one of the girls' fathers seemed to be "wrapped up" too neatly as an afterthought.  That said, this was a great book and I am definitely interested in reading the next book.

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

Shannon Ethridge is a best-selling author, international speaker, and certified life coach with a master's degree in counseling/human relations from Liberty University.  She has spoken to college students and adults since 1989 and is the author of twenty books, including the million-copy best-selling Every Woman's Battle series.  She is a frequent guest on TV and radio programs, and she mentors aspiring writers and speakers through her online B.L.A.S.T Program (Building Leaders, Authors, Speakers & Teachers).

Kathy Mackel is the acclaimed author of Can of Worms and other novels for middle readers from Putnam, HarperCollins, and Dial.  Her latest book, Boost, tackles the thorny issue of steroids and girls' sports.  Writing as Kathryn Mackel, she is the author of the YA fantasy series The Birthright Books and of supernatural thrillers including the Christy finalist The Hidden.  She was the credited screenwriter for Disney's Can of Worms and for Hangman's Curse, and has worked for Disney, Fox, and Showtime.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Frame 232 Book Review

A Jason Hammond Novel

SUMMARY:  The time had come, she decided, to rid herself of this burden, to take the steps necessary to put the matter to rest once and for all.  And the first step, she knew - against every instinct and desire - was to watch that film.
     During the reading of her mother's will, Sheila Baker discovers that she has inherited everything her parents ever possessed, including their secrets.  A mysterious safe-deposit box key leads her to the answers to one of history's greatest conspiracies:  Who killed John F. Kennedy?  Not only does she have the missing film, revealing her mother as the infamous Babushka Lady, but she has proof that there was more than one shooter.
     On the run from people who would stop at nothing to keep secrets buried, Sheila turns to billionaire sleuth Jason Hammond for help.  Having lost his own family in a tragic plane crash, Jason knows a thing or two about running from the past.  With a target on their backs and time running out, can Jason finally uncover the truth behind the crime that shook a generation - or will he and Sheila become its final victims?

REVIEW:  This was a great book!!  The story kept me on the edge of my seat, waiting to turn the page to see what else happened.  Even though I am vaguely familiar with the Kennedy Assassination, I was able to follow the details without any trouble.  There were plenty of twist and turns and wondering of Shelia and Jason would make it all the way through to the end.  The ending is full of surprises.  Something I found refreshing was how Jason and Sheila kept their relationship chase and did not form a romantic relationship in the few weeks they were together.  Most authors would have had them making a long-term commitment by the end of the book but Wil Mara went a different route.  I can see them developing a relationship in future books but nothing permanent was decided here.  This is an awesome book that should be checked out.

This book was provided by Tyndale House Publishers for review without compensation.

Wil Mara has been writing books for the last twenty-five years.  He began with non-fiction for school libraries, moved into children's fiction by ghostwriting five of the popular Boxcar Children Mysteries, then into adult fiction with his 2005 disaster thriller, Wave, which won the New Jersey Notable Book Award.  His next disaster novel, The Gemini Virus, was released in October 2012 to rave reviews from critics and public alike.  Wil also spent twenty years as an editor, working for Harcourt Brace, Prentice Hall, and other publishers.  For more information, visit Wil at

Unspoken Book Review

SUMMARY:  Charlotte Graham is at the center of the most famous kidnapping in Chicago history.
      The FBI and local cops found her two abductors, killed them, and rescued her, but it took four long years.  The fact that she was found just three miles from her home, had been there the entire time, haunts them.  She's since changed her identity, found a profession she loves, and rebuilt her life.
     She's never said a word - to the cops, to her doctors, to her family - about those four years.
     A family legacy has brought her back to Chicago, where a reporter is writing a book about the kidnapping.  Her options are limited: either hope the reporter doesn't uncover the full truth, or break her silence about what happened.  And her silence is what has protected her family for years.
     Bryce Bishop doesn't know Charlotte's past; he only knows she has coins to sell from her grandfather's estate - and that the FBI director in Chicago made the introduction.  The more he gets to know Charlotte, the more interested he becomes, an interest encouraged by those closest to her.  But she's decided she is single for life, she struggles with her faith, and she's willing to forgo a huge inheritance to keep her privacy.  She's not giving him much of an opening to work with.
     Charlotte wants to trust him.  She needs to tell him what happened.  Because a crime the cops thought was solved has only opened another chapter. . . .

REVIEW:  Never having read one of Dee Henderson's books before, I was excited when this one came across my email as I have heard a lot of great things about her books.  The idea of the story was a good one and the development of the characters was thorough and good but the storyline seemed to drag on and on.  I understand that for Bryce and the reader to fully understand everything about Charlotte, some things aren't answered quickly.  Solving her kidnapping and the secondary story involved here seemed anti-climatic.  I liked how the stories intertwined but I felt like something was missing.  Also, the idea of Charlotte selling off her grandfather's multi-billion estate and all of its peculiar collections is unusual but NEVER. SEEMS. TO. END.
      While I wasn't a fan of this book, I am still interested in reading something else written by this author.

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

Dee Henderson is the author of eighteen novels, including Jennifer: An O'Malley Love Story, Full Disclosure, the acclaimed O'Malley series, and the Uncommon Heroes series.  Her books have won or been nominated for several prestigious industry awards, such as the RITA Award, the Christy Award, and the ECPA Gold Medallion.  Visit her at