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, January 27, 2014

With Autumn's Return Book Review

Westward Winds Series
Book Three

SUMMARY:  She's planning on instant success.  She didn't plan on love.
     When Elizabeth Harding arrives in Cheyenne to open her medical practice, she is confident that the future is as bright as the warm Wyoming sun.  Certain she'll have a line of patients eager for her services, she soon discovers the town may not welcome a new physician - especially a lady doctor.  Even Jason Nordling, the handsome young attorney next door, seems to disapprove of her chosen profession.
     When a web of deceit among Cheyenne's wealthiest residents threatens to catch Elizabeth and Jason in its snare, they must risk working together to save one of Elizabeth's patients - even if it means falling in love.
REVIEW:  This book about the last Harding sister is good but frustrating, but not in a bad way.  For a modern day woman with so many freedoms, I get aggravated when I read about the prejudices many people had about women, especially becoming doctors, the social restraints in place during the late 1800s, and the bad medicine that was rampant.  But, I love how Elizabeth rises above those biased against her to show them that a woman can be a doctor, and a darned good one.  She has a big heart and doesn't turn her back on anyone in need, even Phoebe, the madam of the local high-priced brothel, when she falls and breaks her ankle and Sheila, the pregnant prostitute who wanted to keep her baby.  Elizabeth fights against the liberal use of bad patent medicines that are used to help cure patients but, instead, makes them worse off than before.
     This is a good book with some suspense mixed in and a wonderful ending.  A great way to send off this series.  

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.
Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of the Texas Dreams series, as well as Christmas Roses, Summer of Promise, and Waiting for Spring.  Her books have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Awards and the Booksellers Best.  She lives in Wyoming.  Find out more at

The Calling Book Review

The Inn at Eagle Hill Series
Book Two

SUMMARY:  Bethany's restless heart is searching for answers - in life and in love.
     Bethany Schrock's love life has derailed, her faith hangs by a thread, and she is spending hot summer days wading through a lifetime of accumulation at the home of five elderly Amish sisters.  She's not sure what she wants out of life, but she knows that she's not finding in Stoney Ridge.
     Then a new guest at the Inn at Eagle Hill ropes her into volunteering in a community project for down-and-outers.  Reluctant at first, Bethany starts to feel a bit of joy and satisfaction again.  But not so much that Jimmy Fisher, adorable and impossible, can woo her affections with his winks and tricks.  Well, maybe a little.
     When a figure from her past reenters her life, Bethany must decide:  What does the past mean to her future?
     Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher delivers her trademark twists, turns, and tender romance in this delightful and exciting visit to the quiet community of Stoney Ridge.

REVIEW:  Having read and loved Suzanne's Stoney Ridge Seasons series, I wanted to see what this book was about.  There were a lot of things I liked but quite a few I had trouble with.  First, the good.  I love the five elderly sisters who were between the ages of 80 and 90.  They could not take care of their house but they loved to help take care of those who were in need by providing food and other things for anyone who needed it, whether they were Amish or not.  The youth minister, Geena, who stayed at the bed and breakfast run by Bethany's step-mom, had a huge heart for kids, especially troubled teens.  I like how she jumped right in helping the Sisters make meals and got involved in the community garden and eventually a home for wayward teens.  I love how the Quilting Circle helped out a former member, even though it has been about twenty years since she had participated.  They looked out for her and raised money for her quietly to help meet her needs.
     Now, some of the difficulties I had.  It seemed like there were too many stories going on at one time:  Bethany helping the Sisters; Mim secretly writing for the local newspaper; Jimmy's decisions on what to do about his desire to raise horses or run the family hatchery business; the goings-on in the past with Bethany's dad, brother and Jake that affect the present; Geena's job loss and trying to figure out where God wants her next; and the events surrounding Bethany finding her mother, who had disappeared about twenty years earlier.  Also, quite a few of the characters in her previous series, Stoney Ridge, showed up in this book.  Trying to remember what happened in the previous books and how their stories affected the characters in this book hurt my head sometimes.  It would be nice to have had a Cast of Characters to help place each person from the other series, especially since it has been a few years since I read the books.
     I love Suzanne Woods Fisher's books and will continue to read any future ones she writes.  This one, unfortunately, was not one of my favorites, though I might read it again later to see if I get a different feel for it.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of The Letters, the Lancaster County Secrets series, and the Stoney Ridge Seasons series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace.  She is also the coauthor of an Amish children's series, The Adventures of Lily Lapp.  Suzanne is a Christy Award finalist, a Carol Award winner, and a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazines.  She lives in California.  For more information, please visit and connect with her on Twitter @suzannewfisher.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Dare to Love Again Book Review

The Heart of San Francisco Series
Book Two

SUMMARY:  She's a sassy socialite burned by love.  He's a jaded cop burned by the upper class.  When sparks fly ... will love catch fire again?
     Spunky Allison McClare is determined to be a fearless, independent woman.  But when she takes a notion to explore the wild Barbary Coast, she quickly discovers she's no match for the unsavory characters that haunt the dark streets.
     Detective Nick Barone would rather do almost anything than teach this petite socialite self-defense, but it seems he has little choice.  Sparks fly every time the two meet until a grudging friendship develops into something deeper.  But is he just a fraud like all the rest of the men Allison's cared for?  Or is he the one who will let her dare to love again?

REVIEW:  This book basically picks up where Love at Any Cost leaves off but follows Alli as she, Cassie, and Mrs. McClare open their school for the needy children in Barbary Coast, a seedy area of San Francisco.  I like Alli's spunk but at times wondered about her when she let her bull-headedness get in the way of common sense.  She is not afraid to work late and take a cable car home by herself , having to walk through some of the worst areas of town to do so.  I like how she is ready to learn how to defend herself from any potential attackers and not standing on social priorities to do so.  She's not afraid to go after what she wants but does fear her bad choices in men will never end.
     I liked how the story ended but also thought it left the story hanging as it ends the day before Jamie and Cassie's wedding.  It ended too quickly because I wanted to see how everyone reacts to Logan's news about Jamie and how the family would react to Nick's return.  I guess that is something for the next book in the series to cover.  
     Great book.  Can't wait to read more.
This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.
Julie Lessman  is an award-winning author of The Daughters of Boston and Winds of Change series and was ACFW's 2009 Debut Author of the Year.  Votes #1 Romance Author of the year in Family Fiction magazine's 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards, Julie was also on Booklist's 2010 Top 10 Inspirational Fiction list and is the recipient of fifteen RWA awards.  You can contact Julie at

The Big Book of Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids Book Review

 A 3-in-1 Collection

SUMMARY:  The gut-bustingest, knee-slappingest, guffaw-inducingest collection of clean jokes you can find!
     All kids like to laugh, and The Big Book of Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids delivers!  Combining his three bestselling joke books for kids, Rob Elliot will have you doubled over for days.  You'll get jokes like:

Q:  Why did the invisible man turn down a job offer?
A:  He just couldn't see himself doing it.
Q:  What do you get if you mix a rabbit and a snake?
A:  A jump rope

Knock knock.
Who's there?
Cook who?
Are you as crazy as you sound?

Great on car rides, at the dinner table, on the playground, and anywhere in between, this collection of wholesome hilarity will make you and those around you smile from ear to ear.

REVIEW:  My kids LOVE this joke book!  The three of them (ages 13, 10 and 7) have read it over and over and over and over and over.  Every time I turn around, they are reading me or my husband jokes out of it.  Some of the jokes are corny, some are old, and some are absolutely hilarious, but they all draw at least a smile and a slight chuckle from those who hear them if not a good belly laugh.  This is definitely one to recommend to anyone with kids or who just loves jokes, no matter what your age.  They are easy to read and are clean, without anything that might be considered questionable or off color.  These could even be used as ice breakers at meetings, get-togethers or wherever you might need to get everyone's attention.  My family loves it so much, I might just give copies out as gifts.

 This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Rob Elliott is the author of Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids, Zoolarious Animal Jokes for Kids, and Knock Knock Jokes for Kids, and has been a publishing professional for more than fifteen years.  His three joke books have sold more than 300,000 copies.  Rob lives in West Michigan, where in his spare time he enjoys laughing out loud with his wife and four children.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Carolina Gold Book Review

SUMMARY:  The war is over.  But her battles are just beginning.
     Following her father's death, Charlotte Fraser returns to Fairhaven, her family's rice plantation in the South Carolina Lowcountry.  With no one else to rely upon, the smart, independent Charlotte is determined to resume cultivating the superior grain of rice called Carolina Gold.  But the war has left the plantation in ruins, her father's former bondsmen are free, and workers and equipment are in short supply.
     To make ends meet, Charlotte reluctantly agrees to tutor the two young daughters of her widowed neighbor and heir to Willowood Plantation, Nicholas Betancourt.  Just as her friendship with Nick deepens, he embarks upon a quest to prove his claim to Willowood and sends Charlotte on a dangerous journey that uncovers a long-held family secret - one that threatens everything she holds dear.
     Inspired by the life of a 19th-century woman rice farmer, Carolina Gold pays tribute to the hauntingly beautiful Lowcountry and weaves together mystery, romance, and historical detail, bringing to life the story of one young woman's struggle to restore her ruined world.

 REVIEW:  Having read another book of Dorothy Love and liking it, I was interested in reading this one when it came across my email.  The book started out strong and ended on a good note but there were a few places in between that left me wanting more.
     The heroine, Charlotte, inspired by Elizabeth Waties Allston Pringle, was a woman ahead of her time, and lives in South Carolina in the aftermath of the Civil War.  I loved how Charlotte didn't listen to those around her saying she shouldn't be trying to raise rice and other crops because that wasn't the work of a woman.  She was determined to do her best and try to keep the homestead together and not have to marry a man she didn't love, her only other option.  She wasn't afraid of hard work, and was often found helping her hired hands plant the rice crops and tending the fields.  After having a couple of setbacks and needing money, Charlotte agrees to help out her neighbor, Nick Betancourt, by becoming his daughters' teacher until a local school could be opened, stepping out of her comfort zone to help fulfill a need. 
      I found the story anti-climatic when Charlotte goes to New Orleans looking for Nick.  He had left his children with Charlotte while he looked in New Orleans for information about the deed on his property.  When they didn't hear from him for a few months, Charlotte goes to New Orleans looking for him in the midst of a yellow fever epidemic.  The time she is there seems forced and strange, like when she goes off with a little homeless girl without telling anyone (dangerous for anyone) and the events surrounding Charlotte finding Nick working in one of the make-shift yellow fever hospitals. 
     Overall, the book was good and I like the ending.

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

Dorothy Love is a native of west Tennessee and makes her home in the Texas hill country with her husband and their two golden retrievers.  An accomplished author, Dorothy made her debut in Christian fiction with the Hickory Ridge novels.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

No One to Trust Book Review

Hidden Identity
Book One

SUMMARY:  She doesn't know who she's running from - and the man she loves may be someone else entirely.
     Summer Abernathy wakes up one morning to find her husband missing, three men in her home intent on finding him, and the life she's been living based on a lie.  Which Kyle Abernathy did she marry?   The computer programmer she met in line at the bank?  Or the one who was apparently using that image as a cover?
     The search for her husband - and answers - takes Summer ever deeper into a world of organized crime where people are used one moment and discarded the next.  And with her deepest relationship of trust already shattered, Summer doesn't know who to believe.
     Always thrilling, bestselling author Lynette Eason outdoes herself in this taut, breakneck story of lies, loyalties, and love that will have you up all night to discover the truth hidden in the shadows.

REVIEW:  Lynette Eason's newest book does not disappoint.  Having read her Deadly Reunions series, I was so excited to read this one.  Like her others, this story will have you sitting on the edge of your seat, turning each page hurriedly to see what happens next. It is like riding a roller coaster with all of its ups, downs and quick turns going along a high speeds. 
     The complexities of this story were amazing.  I don't know how Ms. Eason kept track of everything going on and all the people involved.  The only problem I had (which is a small one) is the timeline in which the story plays out.  The event start on a Thursday and looks to end by the end of the next week.  Something she did at the start of each chapter at the beginning of the story was label the day and time these events occurred.  Later in the story, she stops documenting it, which might have been helpful in following the sequence of events that occur.  Also, a list of the characters and their relationship to the story might have been helpful to keep track of all the different components going on. 
     This is a great book for anyone looking for a great suspense novel without all the blood and gore with a godly grounding.  I'm looking forward to the rest of the series as I know this author won't disappoint.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Lynette Eason is the bestselling author of the Women of Justice series and the Deadly Reunions series.  She was a 2013 finalist for the ECPA Book Awards and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America.  She has a master's degree in education from Converse College and she lives in South Carolina.  Find out more at

Everyday Confetti Book Review

 Your Year-Round Guide to Celebrating
Holidays and Special Occasions

SUMMARY:  Got a calendar packed with reasons to celebrate but a brain that lacks ideas?  Special people you want to love on but limited time to do it?
  Relax.  We've got you covered.
     Everyday Confetti is your go-to guide to making holidays, birthdays, special events, and even the everyday special.  Inside you'll find more than two hundred ways to make memories with your family, including easy recipes, fun activities, and inexpensive decorating ideas - all simple, doable and stress-free.

REVIEW:  This book came to my house just in time.  The month of January is a popular one in our house for birthdays.  With an upcoming Thirteenth birthday for my daughter and a Seventh birthday for my youngest son,  I was looking for some ideas for some things to do and celebrate and make these days special for them.  This book is chocked full of ideas, easy and simple just like I need them, to give me a place to start. 
     The authors don't stop with just birthdays and national holidays but for fun days like Name Day, Siblings' Night, and celebrating spiritual birthdays.  They also give hints on how to stay connected with your friends, neighbors and college-bound kids.  Included are family traditions the authors have in their own homes as well as some you could start in yours like creating a special plate to be used for a good report card, special recognition at work/school, inviting singles over for Valentine's, and making a special recipe for a specific holiday.
     The recipes included are tried and true ones used in their own homes and families.  They look like they are easy to make.  I've marked some of them to go back and try with my own family.
     This is a great book for anyone looking to make special occasions, holidays or even just everyday a little brighter and more fun.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Karen Ehman is a national speaker, an online devotion writer, an author for Proverbs 31 Ministries, and a contributor at  Her latest book and Bible study is Let. It. Go.  She has been a guest on Focus on the Family, Moody Mid-day Connection, and The 700 Club.  She and her husband, Todd, live in Michigan with their three children.  Connect with her at

Glynnis Whitwer, executive director of communications for Proverbs 31 Ministries, is one of the writers of Encouragement for Today, the Proverbs 31 Ministries online devotional.  She is the author of several books, including I Used to Be So Organized.  Glynnis and her husband, Tod, live in Arizona with their five children.  She blogs regularly at

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Prodigal Book Review

A Ragamuffin Story

SUMMARY:  From the inspirational author of The Ragamuffin Gospel comes a powerful contemporary retelling of the Parable of the Prodigal Son.
     Jack Chisholm is "the people's pastor."  He leads a devoted and growing mega-church, has several best-selling books, and a memorable slogan, "We have got to do better."  Jack knows how to preach, and he understands how to chastise people into performing.  What he doesn't know is anything about grace.
     This year, when it comes time for the Christmas sermon, the congregation at Grace Cathedral will look to the pulpit, and Jack will not be there.  Of course, they will have seen plenty of him already - on the news.
     After an evening of debauchery that leads to an affair with his beautiful assistant, Jack Chisholm finds himself deserted with chilling swiftness.  The church elders remove him from his own pulpit.  His publisher withholds the royalties from his books.  Worst of all, his wife disappears with their eight-year-old daughter.
     But just as Jack is hitting bottom, hopeless and penniless, drinking his way to oblivion, who should appear but his long-estranged father, imploring his prodigal son:  "Come home."
     A true companion piece to The Ragamuffin Gospel, The Prodigal illustrates the power of grace through the story of a broken man who finally saw Jesus not because he preached his greatest sermon or wrote his most powerful book, but because he failed miserably.  Jack Chisholm lost everything - his church, his family, his respect, and his old way to believing - but he found grace.  It's the same grace that Brennan Manning devoted his life to sharing: profound in nature and coming from a God who loves us just as we are, and not as we should be.

REVIEW:  Having heard how wonderful Brennan Manning's writing was, I wanted to check out his newest book, The Prodigal.  It was a great take on the biblical story of the Prodigal son.  The main character, Jack, could be found in our modern day American culture. When he has a one-night stand with his assistant, Jack's world comes crashing around him.  I like how even though Jack alienated his father after the death of his mother ten years earlier, Dad still went after his son, helping him get through this difficult by providing shelter, a job and a friendly face when everyone else had left.  Father Frank is a refreshing character.  I love how he is very vulnerable and, even though everyone in town knows of his alcoholic background, they still love him and try to support and encourage him as much as Father Frank supports and encourages those around him.  Jack's hometown, while curious about everything that has happened, comes along side of him and tries to help him when they can.
     There were a few things I had difficulties with in this story.  One was how quickly Jack "recovered" and was offered a position preaching in a pulpit.  While I understand his character had made some major favorable changes in his view of grace, I still think it is a little soon (about two months since his night out on the town with his assistant).  One other problem I had (and it was a small one) was how Kathy, the small town newspaper reporter/owner, kept popping up, like she has a crush on Jack.  I guess it bothered me because he was still married (his divorce had not be finalized) and because of how Jack fell from grace (having an one-night stand).
     All in all, I really liked this book.  This one really made me think about a lot of things and hope I can make any changes I need to make and hope my world doesn't come crashing in around me.

This book was provided by Booksneeze and Zondervan for review without compensation.

Brennan Manning was a renowned speaker, preacher, and retreat leader.  He authored or coauthored twenty books, among them his memoir All Is Grace, The Furious Longing of God, Abba's Child, and the million-selling and life-changing book The Ragamuffin Gospel.  He went to rest in the loving arms of his Abba on April 12, 2013, but his voice still echoes in the hearts and minds of his readers.

Greg Garrett is the author or coauthor of over fifteen books of fiction, non-fiction, and memoir, including The Other Jesus, We Get to Carry Each Other:  The Gospel according to U2, and the acclaimed novels Free Bird, Cycling, and Shame.  He lives with his family in Austin, Texas.