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?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Tried & True Book Review

Wild at Heart
Book One

SUMMARY:  Saddle up for a wildly fun ride with the Wilde sisters!
     Kylie Wilde is the youngest sister - and the most civilized.  Her older sisters might be happy dressing in trousers and posing as men, but Kylie has grown her hair long and wears skirts every chance she gets.  It's a risk - they are homesteading using the special exemptions they earned serving in the Civil War as "boys" - but Kylie plans to make the most of the years before she can sell her property and return to the luxuries of life back East.
     Local land agent Aaron Masterson is fascinated with Kylie from the moment her long hair falls from her cap.  But now that he knows her secret, can he in good conscience defraud the U.S. government?  And when someone tries to force Kylie off her land, does he have any hope of convincing her that marrying him and settling on the frontier is the better option for her future?

REVIEW:  Mary Connealy's latest book is unique.  The storyline of women living as men to homestead property is one I've not encountered before.  I like how she answers the questions about how they keep the townspeople from finding out.  She doesn't do it all at one time but answers them little by little throughout the story.  I also liked how Aaron tries to work out the details of Kylie's unique situation so he doesn't have to lie to the U.S. government but where the Wilde sisters keep their lands.  I also loved Sunrise, the Indian woman who helps Kylie.  She is a woman to be reckoned with who teaches Kylie a thing or two or ten about men, living in the wild, living off the land, and protecting herself.
     While I didn't have all the details figured out, I guessed quite a bit of the storyline before the events happened.  I also see the potential for future romances and storylines for Kylie's sisters, Shannon and Bailey, and some local menfolk.
     All in all, this was an enjoyable book and I look forward to reading the rest of the Wilde sisters adventures.

This book was provided by Litfuse Publicity Group and Bethany House for review without compensation.
Mary Connealy writes romantic comedies about cowboys.  She's the author of the acclaimed TROUBLE IN TEXAS and THE KINCAID BRIDES series, as well as several other series.  Mary has been nominated for a Christy Award, was a finalist for a RITA Award, and is a two-time winner of the Carol Award.  She lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her very own romantic cowboy hero.  They have four grown daughters and a bevy of spectacular grandchildren.  Learn more about Mary and her books at,,, or

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Before Amen Book Review

 The Power of a Simple Prayer

SUMMARY:  We all pray . . . some.
     We pray to stay sober centered, or solvent.  When the lump is deemed malignant.  When the money runs out before the month does. When the marriage is falling apart.  We pray.  
     But wouldn't we like to pray . . .
With more fire, faith, and fervency?
     Yet we have kids to feed, bills to pay, deadlines to meet.  The calendar pounces on our good intentions like a tiger on a rabbit.  And what about our checkered history with prayer? Uncertain words.  Unmet expectations.  Unanswered requests.
     We aren't the first to struggle with prayer.  The first followers of Jesus needed prayer guidance too.  In fact, prayer is the only tutorial they ever requested.
     Jesus gave them a prayer.  Not a lecture on prayer.  Not the doctrine of prayer.  He gave them a quotable, repeatable, portable prayer.  Couldn't we use the same?
     Join Max Lucado on a journey to the very heart of biblical prayer and the power unleashed with six simple lines:
                   you are good.
                                     I need help.
                                                     They need help.
                                                                          Thank you.
                                                                                         In Jesus' name, amen.

REVIEW:  Max Lucado takes the Lord's Prayer, explains it in an easy to understand format and gives examples of ways to use the different parts.  As always, he explains things in ways everyone can understand it but doesn't dumb it down.  He uses personal examples along with illustrations from the bible to make this personal prayer relevant for today's Christian.  This is a superb book that can help Christians, whether they've been walking with the Lord a long time or if they are brand new.  

This Advance Reader's Copy was provided by Litfuse Publicity Group and Thomas Nelson Publishers for review without compensation.

More than 120 million readers have found inspiration and encouragement in the writings of Max Lucado.  He serves the people of Oak Hills Church in San Antonia, Texas where he lives with his wife, Denalyn, and a sweet but misbehaving mutt, Andy.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Palace of Darkness Book Review

A Novel of Petra

SUMMARY:  In an ancient city carved from stone, one desperate young woman searches for peace - in the calm before the Romans attack.
     In AD 106, a single mother can be certain of one thing - destitution.  So Cassia and her six-year-old son flee to Petra, seeking refuge in the loving arms of family. 
     But the great stone city is not what Cassia imagined.  And family cannot be trusted.  When a secret reveals her son's true bloodline, the boy becomes the target of a royal conspiracy.  He's snatched from Cassia's grasp.
     In her darkest hours, Cassia finds herself surrounded by followers of the Way, a subversive new religious group whose disciples are frequently sentenced to arenas with starved lions and blood-soaked sand.  Why would they seek out more danger by helping her?  And what kind of religion gives freely and asks for nothing in return? 
     Roman soldiers soon surround Petra, immersing the city in panic and further endangering Cassia's son.  She realizes he cannot be saved by human efforts alone.  Her only hope lies with the followers of the Way . . .  and her willingness to trust their One True God.

REVIEW:  Tracy L. Higley has written a wonderful book.  I like how the events of the book were spread out over a period of weeks, instead of just days.  Cassia is a women to be admired.  She rose above her circumstances and doesn't give up, even when circumstances look impossible.  I like how the author worked Paul's letter to the Romans into the storyline.  It just added a little something extra since it is just about fifty years earlier.  I also loved how members of the Way reached out to Cassia in her time of need and was willing to step out of their comfort zone (and risk their lives) to help her get Alexander back.  The author also adds a little Frank Peretti-esque feature of showing how demonic spirits are involved in Queen Hagiru's life and some heavenly visions seen by Cassia. Check out this great  book.  I think you will enjoy it.
This book was provided by BookLook Bloggers and Thomas Nelson Publishers for review without compensation.
Tracy L. Higley is the acclaimed author of such beloved historical novels as Garden of Madness and The Queen's Handmaid.  She has traveled to Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Italy, researching her novels and falling into adventures.  She writes novels that transport readers to ancient times and places.  See her travel journals and more at  Facebook: tracyhigley.  Twitter: @TLHigley.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Love's Fortune Book Review

Ballantyne Legacy
Book Three

SUMMARY:  With two very different horizons stretched out before her, one young woman stands n the cusp of an unknown future.
     Sheltered since birth at her Kentucky home, Rowena "Wren" Ballantyne has heard only whispered rumors of her grandfather Silas's vast fortune and grand manor in Pennsylvania.  When her father receives a rare letter summoning him to New Hope, Wren makes the journey with him and quickly finds herself in a whole new world - family members she's never met, dances she's never learned, and a new side to the father she thought she knew.
     As she struggles to fit in during their extended stay, she finds a friend in James Sackett, the most valued steamship pilot of the Ballantynes' shipping line.  Even with his help, Wren feels she may never be comfortable in high society.  Will she go her own way . . . to her peril?
     With her signature attention to historical detail and emotional depth, Laura Frantz brings 1850s Pennsylvania alive with a tender story of loss, love, and loyalty.

REVIEW:  This book is a fitting end of this series.  I felt for Wren: going from the backwoods of Kentucky to the large city of Pittsburgh; from wearing homespun dresses to wearing silk dresses and corsets; from handcrafting excellent violins and playing passionately what her heart desired to playing in the drawing rooms and having to keep a rein on her emotions; from working beside her father making musical instruments every day to him traveling long distances for months on end.  The Ballantynes come along side Wren and tries to help her adjust to this new world.  I like how this book seems to tie up the loose ends and ends on a wonderful note.  
     To get a complete picture of the struggles of all the Ballantynes and how they affect each family members' past, present and future, you need to read the other two books.  If you don't, you should still be able to understand most of the dynamics.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.
Laura Frantz is a Christy Award finalist and the author of several books, including The Frontiersman's Daughter, Love's Reckoning, and Love's Awakening.  She currently lives in the misty woods of Washington with her husband and two sons.  Learn more at

Nowhere to Turn Book Review

Hidden Identity Series
Book Two

SUMMARY:  She thought her days of hiding were over.  But the danger has just begun.
     The day Danielle Harding takes her eleven-year-old son and flees from her abusive husband is the same day Kurt Harding dies.  A relieved Dani believes she and her son are finally safe - but in reality, things are just heating up.  When Kurt was alive, he took something important from a mysterious individual - who wants the item back and believes Dani now has it.  As she and her son run for their lives, they have nowhere to turn, until she hires Adam Buchanan of Operation Refuge and goes into hiding. Unfortunately, she won't be able to hide for long . . .
     From the first breathless scene, this tension-laced story will hold you in its iron grip as bestselling author Lynette Eason propels you along in a race to discover the truth.

REVIEW:  If you like suspense novels that will keep you on your toes, trying to figure out who this mysterious person is after Dani, how their location keeps getting compromised, and twists and turns like crazy, then this is the book for you.  Lynette Eason keeps you guessing about what will come next and who all is involved. Each time you think you have the story figured out, another facet is added to keep you speculating.  Just when the end is in sight, Lynette adds one more thing to keep your attention engaged.  Even though this is the second in the series, from what I can tell, you do not need to read the first story to follow along.

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, as well as No One to Trust.  She 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 lives in South Carolina.  Learn more at

The Desire Book Review

The Restoration Series
Book Three

     For two years, Allan and Michele have been trying to have a baby.  The emotional ride has been taking a toll on their hearts - and their relationship.  Michele is obsessed with researching fertility treatments while Allan seems content to spend his time - and their money - on supporting displaced children in Africa.  Something's got to give.  But they both hope it's not their marriage.
     Still, God has a plan for Allan and Michele that they could never have imagined. And all it takes to set it in motion is a change of heart.

REVIEW:  I had a little harder time relating to this book than the others in this series due to Michele's obsession with getting pregnant.  Never having this problem, I don't fully understand why it has to consume her thoughts and actions all the time.  Since the majority of the book shows how this affects Michele's everyday life, I found myself getting distracted easily and, to be honest, wishing she would just get over it and move on.  Now, I did like the sections on Allan's mission trip to Ethiopia and Marilyn and Christina, a young pregnant woman who Marilyn is counseling.  The descriptions of the sights, smells and sounds where the children were forced to find food outside Addis Ababa made my heart ache.  I wanted to grab all the children up and take them away from there.  I liked how Marilyn took Christina under her wing, found her a safe place to stay and supported her as Christina decided if she wanted to raise the baby on her own or give her up for adoption.  All in all, this is a good book.  I look forward to reading the final one about Doug.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.
Dan Walsh is the bestselling author of many books, including The Dance and The Promise with Gary Smalley, The Discovery and What Follows After.  He has won three Carol Awards, and three of his novels were finalists for RT Book Reviews Inspirational Book of the Year.  A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Dan serves as a pastor for 25 years.  He lives with his wife in the Daytona Beach area, where he's busy researching and writing his next novel.

Gary Smalley is one of the country's best-known authors and speakers on family relationships and has appeared on national television programs such as Oprah, Larry King Live and TODAY, as well as numerous national radio programs.   He is the bestselling and award-winning author or coauthor of many books, including the Baxter Family Redemption series with Karen Kingsbury and The Dance and The Promise with Dan Walsh.  Gary and his wife, Norma, have been married for 50 years and live in Missouri.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

$10 Great Dates Book Review

Connecting Love, Marriage, and Fun on a Budget

SUMMARY:  Create Big Romance on a $mall Budget
     Tired of the usual dinner-and-a-movie dates?  Looking for new ways to connect with your spouse?
     Energize your marriage by getting out of your normal routine with the help of these 52 creative date ideas.  From outdoor dates to out-on-the-town dates, you and your spouse will have no trouble finding the perfect date that fits your mood - all on a $10 budget!
     See for yourself how new experiences can help you bond together and nurture your relationship.  Which of these will be the first of your Great Dates?
     Each date includes easy preparation suggestions, tips for the date, talking points to enhance our conversations, and a Great Date takeaway.  What are you waiting for?

REVIEW:  I have to make a disclaimer - as part of my review, I am supposed to go on one, if not more, dates using these suggestions.  But, not long after I received the book, the project my husband was working on went into major overdrive so he has spent long hours working, taking calls, and not able to spend much time away.  That said, this book has given us some great ideas to use on future dates that are cost effective and not the same old, same old.  Now, one day when he was working from home, I used a suggestion and picked up lunch for under $10 and ate it together at home. 
     This book has some fantastic suggestions to help couples get of the the same date rut we all get into.  There are dates for every season, indoors and out, along with talking points to help revive and maintain your relationship.  I found quite a few that I can't wait to use on future dates.  There are two I really look forward to doing.  One is eating dinner at home then going to a local restaurant for dessert.  Another is going out on a breakfast date.
     Whether you are dating or have been married a long time, this is a great book to check out.  There are plenty of ideas to help enhance your conversations and relationships.  

This book was provided by Bethany House for review without compensation.
Peter and Heather Larson and David and Claudia Arp help couples of all ages and stages build great marriages.  Peter is a licensed clinical psychologist and Heather is a Christian relationship coach.  David and Claudia, founders of Marriage Alive, created the many 10 Great Dates seminars and resources now popular across the U.S. and internationally.

With Every Breath Book Review

SUMMARY:  In the shadow of the nation's capital, Kate Livingston's respectable life as a government worker is disrupted by an encounter with the insufferable Trevor McDonough the one man she'd hoped never to see again.  A Harvard-trained physician, Trevor never showed the tiniest flicker of interest in Kate, and business is the only reason he has sought her out now.
     Despite her misgivings, Kate agrees to Trevor's risky proposal to join him in his work to find a cure for tuberculosis.  As Kate begins to unlock the mysteries of Trevor's past, his hidden depths fascinate her.  However, a shadowy enemy lies in wait, and Trevor's closely guarded secrets are darker than she suspected.
     As revelations from the past threaten to destroy their careers, their dreams, and even their lives, Trevor and Kate find themselves in a painfully impossible situation.  With everything to lose, they must find the strength to trust that hope and love can prevail over all.

REVIEW:  There were a few things about this book that I found fascinating.  The heroine of this book is different from any other I've ever read.  She is very smart, especially in Mathematics, and uses her knowledge instead of hiding it.  Even her parent supported her endeavors and encouraged her to use her knowledge.  It was refreshing and enjoyable.  I also enjoyed learning about tuberculosis and the treatments that were used to help, and hopefully cure, this horrible disease.  Helping tuberculosis patients was a dangerous occupation because it was very contagious with little to no hope to be cured once you contracted it.  Kate's parents and their boarding house are a fun addition to the story.  I love how the boarders have become like family, willing to help each other out.  I also like how the adversaries are found out and how the story ends.
     There were also a few things I didn't like about the story.  Instead of being taken "on a breathless ride" as suggested on the back cover, to me, the story drug in quite a few places.  It seems to take a long time find out Trevor's story and why he does the things he does, like giving out his tuberculosis tonic to the poor and prostitutes.  While he does have some great ideas regarding treatment plans for his patients, Trevor is really rough around the edges and can be harsher than seems necessary.
     This is an interesting book that is worth checking out if you are interested in historical fiction and medical treatments of the day.

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

Elizabeth Camden is the award-winning author of five books, including Against the Tide, winner of a RITA Award, Christy Award, and Daphne du Maurier Award.  She lives with her husband in Florida and is a research librarian by day while scribbling away on her next novel by night.  Visit her website at