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


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Wedding Chapel Book Review


SUMMARY:  A lonely wedding chapel.  Build as a tribute to lost love just might hold the long-awaited secret to hope and reconciliation.
     For sixty years, the wedding chapel has stood silent and empty.  Retired football hall-of-famer Jimmy "Coach" Westbrook built the chapel by hand, stone by stone, for his beautiful and beloved Collette Greer, whom he lost so many years ago.  The chapel is a sanctuary for his memories, a monument to true love, and a testament to his survival of the deepest pain and loss.
     Photographer Taylor Branson left her hometown of Heart's Bend, Tennessee, to make a new life for herself in New York.  She had lots to run away from, not least of all a family history of broken promises and broken dreams.  Love catches Taylor off guard when she falls for Jack Forester, a successful advertising executive, and their whirlwind romance leads to an elopement - then to second guesses.  Jack, in spite of his very real love for Taylor, is battling his own demons and struggles to show her his true self and the depths of his love for her.
     Taking a photography assignment in Heart's Bend, Taylor is thrown back into a past of family secrets buried deep beneath the sands of time.  When Taylor and Coach's journeys collide, they each rediscover the heartbeat of their own dreams as they learn that the love they long to hold is well worth the wait.

REVIEW:  Rachel Hauck's latest novel is phenomenal!!  There are four main characters whose stories flow seamlessly together.  The novel moves from current day to the late 40s/early 50s without causing confusion or without any lag.  My heart grieved when the characters went through their trials and separation.  It cried when the characters faced the hurts and secrets of the past and rejoiced when they found acceptance and love.  It is a story of loss, hurt, and secrets but also of forgiveness, redemption and reconciliation.  Excellent and incredible story!!  This is will be one I recommend to everyone!! 

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

Rachel Hauck is an award-winning, USA Today bestselling author.  She is a RITA and Christy Award finalist.  Her book The Wedding Dress was named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times.  Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and two pets and writes from her ivory tower.

Monday, December 21, 2015

When Love Returns Book Review

The Zimmerman Restoration Trilogy
Book Three

SUMMARY:  Riddled with doubt and lingering regrets, will Suzanne and Paul find strength in God to explore a second chance at love?
     It wasn't easy to move back to the Old Order Mennonite community from which quiet, responsible Suzanne Zimmerman was shamefully sent away as a pregnant teen.  Since returning twenty years later to take care of her mother, Suzanne and Alexa - the daughter she raised as her own - have spent months rebuilding relationships with her family.
     Now with the upcoming wedding of their biological daughter, Suzanne and Paul find themselves drawn to one another once again - but with new challenges to face.  They have been single parents with painful pasts.  Can Paul and Suzanne find the strength to rebuild the loving relationship that was torn apart by their teen pregnancy so long ago?
     Suzanne must also let go of Alexa as she heads back to Indianapolis to visit friends, and with hopes of finding her birth parents.  Leaving the bed-and-breakfast in Suzanne's apprehensive hands, Alexa embarks on a journey that will certainly change her life completely.  Can mother and daughter trust God to restore all things in His timing?

REVIEW:  This book is about reconciliation and restoration.  Even though most of Suzanne's family has reconciled with her and her return, there are a few relationships that still need to be mended.  Through love, patience and prayer, those tears are mended completely.  Even though Alexa wants to meet her birth family, she struggles with anger over the circumstances surrounding her abandonment and directs it towards her birth mother.  I love how even though all parties in this book do what they can to facilitate and manipulate events, God's perfect timing prevails.  
     This was a wonderful book and a sweet ending to this trilogy.

This book was provided by Waterbrook Multnomah and Blogging for Books 
for review without compensation.
 
 Kim Vogel Sawyer is a best-selling, award-winning author highly acclaimed for her gentle stories of hope.  More than one million copies of her books are currently in print.  She lives in central Kansas where she and her retired military husband, Don, enjoy spoiling their granddarlings.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Golden Braid Book Review


SUMMARY:  The one who needs rescuing isn't always the one in the tower.
     Rapunzel can throw a knife better than any man.  She paints beautiful flowering vines on the walls of her plaster houses.  She sings so sweetly she can coax even a beast to sleep.  But there are two things she is afraid other mother might never allow her to do:  learn to read and marry.
     Fiercely devoted to Rapunzel, her mother is suspicious of every man who so much looks at her daughter and warns her that no man can be trusted.  After a young village farmer asks for Rapunzel's hand in marriage, Mother decides to move them once again - this time, to the large city of Hegenheim.
     The journey proves treacherous, and after being rescued by a knight - Sir Gerek - Rapunzel in turn rescues him farther down the road.  As a result, Sir Gerek agrees to repay his debt to Rapunzel by teaching her to read.  Could there be more to this knight than his arrogance and desire to marry for riches and position?
     As Rapunzel acclimates to life in a new city, she uncovers a mystery that will forever change her life.  In this Rapunzel story unlike any other, a world of secrets and treachery is about to be revealed after seventeen years of lies.  How will Rapunzel finally take control of her own destiny?  And who will prove faithful to a lowly peasant girl no one to turn to?

REVIEW:  Having grown up on the fairy tale and watching the movie Tangled with my kids, I am familiar with the basic story of the girl with the long golden braided hair.  This story is a faithful retelling with some additional twists and fresh changes to make it new and refreshing. The author grabbed this reader's attention from the beginning and held it until the sweet ending.  I love how Rapunzel tries to be as independent as she can by learning all kinds of trades and self defense, while trying to honor her mother.  She uses this desire to learn to talk Sir Gerek into teaching her to read, not just in German but also Latin so she can read both the New and Old Testaments of the bible.  Rapunzel is charming without being pretentious, and even though she fights against the strong hold her mother has, she still loves her.  The way the truth of Rapunzel's past is revealed slowly, but not so slow as to aggravate the reader.  I love how everything comes to light to both her and her real family.
     This is a delightful book that readers of all ages will enjoy.

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

Melanie Dickerson is the author of The Healer's Apprentice, a Christy Award finalist and winner of the National Reader's Choice Award for Best First Book.  Melanie earned a bachelor's degree in special education from the University of Alabama and has been a teacher and missionary.  She lives with her husband and two daughters in Alabama.  Visit her online at melaniedickerson.com, Facebook: MelanieDickersonBooks or Twitter: @melanieauthor.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

An Amish Christmas Gift Book Review

Three Amish Novellas

SUMMARY:                                Naomi's Gift by Amy Clipston
     Naomi has begun to believe that she isn't meant to find love, but she might receive more than she has ever hoped for this Christmas.
     Twenty-four-year-old Naomi King has all but given up on marriage and children.  As Christmas approaches, Naomi is certain that her life will be spent as an old maid, helping with the family's quilting business and taking care of her eight siblings.  Then she meets Caleb, a young widower with a 7-year-old daughter, and her world is once again turned upside-down.

An Unexpected Joy by Ruth Reid
     Abigail has driven other suitors away, but can Micah find a way to show her he cares?
     Being a caregiver for Micah Zook's grandmother is the answer to Abigail's prayers. In fact, the elderly lady keeps finding ways to set Abigail up with her grandson.  Despite Abigail's constant chatter, Micah realizes he's beginning to care for her - until he makes a decision that leaves her feeling betrayed.  With Christmas in their midst, can Micah find a way to reconcile with Abigail and to reveal the true feelings of his heart?

A Christmas Visitor by Kelly Irvin 
      Frannie Mast returns to Bee County for Christmas, but her heart stays back in Missouri with an Englisch farm boy.
     Frannie knows her parents have the best of intentions when they send her back to Bee County, Texas, to live with her aunt and her aunt's new husband, Mordecai.  After all, Frannie knows nothing can come of a relationship with Rocky, the handsome Englisch farm boy back in Missouri.  But all bets are off when Rocky follows Frannie to Texas to plead his case.  Could he be the Christmas gift to end all gifts?

REVIEW:  These Christmas novellas focus on finding the one person who God has for you, even if they do not fit everyone's mold of the "perfect" person.  In Naomi's Gift, Naomi's mom thinks Naomi is too bold and doesn't need to show interest in any man.  Caleb's sister has the perfect girl in mind for widower Caleb and tries to discourage his interest in Naomi.  I like how they did not let those around them decide their fate but let God guide them.
    An Unexpected Joy is probably my favorite one.  I LOVE how Abigail gives from her heart and how she puts everyone in front of her own wants and needs, giving up the one thing she wanted most of all to help a family member then adds to a gift she made for herself and gives it to a homeless man she had met one other time.  I like how Micah, at first turned off by Abigail's constant chatter, later finds it appealing and comforting.  He is also attracted to Abigail's huge heart and her very giving nature.
     When I first started reading A Christmas Visitor, I wasn't sure I would like it.  Rocky struck me as a stalker, when he leaves everything behind and follows Frannie from Missouri to Texas.  He faces all sorts of difficulties on the road and again when he finds the Amish community.  I kept expecting him to unleash anger onto Frannie but it never came to fruition.  I did like how Frannie was determined to stay within the Amish community and how Rocky sought help and direction from the leaders of this private society.  The timeline of their romance was also positive.  Most books have their main characters fall in love within a few weeks.  Frannie and Rocky met in Missouri and even though they never dated, they did spend a lot of time together.  She moved to Texas in August/September, with Rocky following about three weeks later. They aren't even allowed to date and their time together is severely limited until Christmas.  I like the Christmas surprise Rockey and Frannie's family had as Frannie's Christmas present.
    These three novellas are fun Christmas reads.  Check them out for yourself.

This book was provided by Fiction Guild for review without compensation.

 Amy Clipston is the award-winning and bestselling author of the Kauffman Amish Bakery series.  Her novels have hit multiple bestseller lists including CBD, CBA, and ECPA.  Amy holds a degree in communications from Virginia Wesleyan College and works full-time for the City of Charlotte, NC.  Amy lives in North Carolina with her husband, two sons, and four spoiled-rotten cats.  Visit her online at www.amyclipston.com, on Facebook: AmyClipstonBooks or Twitter: @AmyClipston.

 Ruth Reid is a CBA and ECPA bestselling author of the Heaven and Earth series.  She's a full-time pharmacist who lives in Florida with her husband and three children.  When attending Farris State University School 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 life.

Kelly Irvin is the author of the Amish of Bee County series, the Bliss Creek Amish series, and the New Hope Amish series.  She has also penned two romantic suspense novels, A Deadly Wilderness and No Child of Mine.  The Kansas native is a graduate of the University of Kansas School of Journalism.  She has been writing nonfiction professionally for thirty years, including ten years as a newspaper reporter, mostly in Texas-Mexico border towns.  She has worked in public relations for the City of San Antonio for twenty years.  Kelly has been married to photographer Tim Irvin for twenty-seven years.  They have two young adult children, two cats, and a tank full of fish.  In her spare time, she likes to write short stories and read books by her favorite authors.  Follow her on Twitter: @Kelly_S_Irvin or on Facebook: Kelly.Irvin.Author.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Every Girl Gets Confused Book Review

 Brides with Style Series
Book Two

SUMMARY:  How can she choose between the love she thought she lost and the love she stumbled upon in the aftermath?
     Katie Fisher and Brady James may be a match in heaven, but that doesn't seem to guarantee them a happily ever after accompanied by angelic choirs.  Katie's almost-finance' Casey is back in Fairfield, ready to rekindle their relationship.  And there's nothing Katie's parents want more than for their small town girl to leave Dallas and come home for good.
     But can she really leave Brady behind?  And will she ever be able to wear that gorgeous wedding dress she won?

REVIEW:  If you are looking for a book that will make you laugh out loud or chuckle softly, you need to pick this one up.  Katie's friends and family want the best for her and are determined to let her know, even if everyone speaks all at one time.  The parts about Queenie, Katie's grandmother, getting married and her bridal showers will bring a blush to your cheeks and a hardy laugh when you read about the gifts eighty-year-old women give the eighty-year-old bride and the conversations they have when they cannot hear each other.  Katie's struggle to decide between Brady and Casey seems to be more between the people in her hometown than Katie herself.  Though,she does struggle some when Casey starts calling her. 
     This is the second book in the series.  You definitely need to read the first one or you will be completely lost about what is going on and about the conflicts that occur. 
     This is a fun book that you will not want to put down.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Janice Thompson is a seasoned romance author and screenwriter.  An expert at pulling the humor from the situations we get ourselves into, Thompson offers an inside look at the wedding business, drawing on her own experiences as a wedding planner.  She is the author of the hugely popular Weddings by Bella series, the Backstage Pass series, and the Weddings by Design series, as well as Every Bride Needs a Groom.  She lives in Texas.  Learn more at www.janiceathompson.com.

All Is Calm All Is Bright Book Review

Two Christmas Novellas

SUMMARY:  Return to two of Colleen Coble's most beloved settings - Bluebird Ranch and Hope Beach - for holiday romance and mystery!
ALL IS CALM
It's going to be an unexpectedly romantic Christmas at Bluebird Ranch.

     Brendan Waddell has always considered Bluebird Ranch a little piece of heaven: an idyllic ranch that pairs abused children with abused horses, run by one of his Marine buddies.  Now, it seems just the place to spend Christmas recovering from an on-the-job injury.
     Lauren Everman first came to the ranch as a foster kid, but now knows it's the perfect hideout.  As the witness to a murder, Lauren needs somewhere to lie low.  Her beauty immediately catches Brendan's attention - but so does her secretive behavior.  This Special Ops Intel man knows a woman on the run when he sees one.  Can he trust her, or is she putting the ranch at risk?  One thing is certain: he's going to do everything he can to keep her safe so he can see what magic Christmas brings.
ALL IS BRIGHT
A romantic Christmas wedding at Tidewater Inn gives Delilah's unique gifts a chance to shine.  
But will her light be snuffed out before the bride and groom say "I Do"?

     As manager of the Tidewater Inn, Delilah Carter has been planning a spectacular Christmas wedding for her friend, Elin Summerall.  But when Delilah's car is forced off the road and into the ocean, she finally has to admit that the strange phone calls she's been receiving lately may be more than just pranks.
     Sherriff Tom Bourne has always had a soft spot for Delilah, and he's determined to protect her.  He hopes to win her heart by giving her the surprise gift of a lifetime . . . but first he has to make sure nothing happens to her before Christmas Day.
     It's the season of miracles.  But will both Elin and Delilah get the ones they need this holiday season?

REVIEW:  If you like a little mystery with your Christmas stories, this book is for you.  Each story has enough twists and turns to keep you guessing as to whodunit and why.  I like how both Lauren and Delilah are concerned more for their friends than for themselves.  They both are determined to focus on their friends' events (children's Christmas party and wedding) than let the circumstances around them put a damper on things.  Even if you have never read any of the author's books about Bluebird Ranch and Hope Beach, you should not be lost.  Both mention characters from other novels but does an admirable job of explaining who's who when needed.
     There were a few things though that I wondered about.  Both are set during the Christmas season but neither really focus on the Reason for the Season.  A few passing comments are made about faith but it is not in the forefront.  Also, the timeline of the romances are very quick as both come to fruition in just a few short weeks, but this is a common complaint of mine.
     This is a pleasant book that I would recommend.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Colleen Coble is a RITA Award finalist and author of several bestselling romantic suspense novels, including Tidewater Inn and the Mercy Falls, Lonestar, and Rock Harbor series.  Visit her website at www.colleencoble.com.  Twitter: @colleencoble  Facebook: colleencoblebooks

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Vendetta Book Review

The Nikki Boyd Files Series
Book One

SUMMARY:  No one needs to push Nikki Boyd to excel on the Tennessee Missing Persons Task Force.  The case of her own missing sister, still unsolved after ten years, is the driving force in her work.  When a Polaroid photo of a missing girl shows up at a crime scene, Nikki quickly recognizes similarities to the past.  The closer she gets to the abductor, the more she feels this case has become personal, and she is not the hunter . . . but the hunted.
     With this explosive first book in The Nikki Boyd Files, award-winning author Lisa Harris takes you on a fast-paced pursuit of justice that will have you holding your breath until the heart-stopping finish.

REVIEW:  The complexity of the story combines the current abduction of Bridget with the abduction of Nikki's sister, Sarah, ten years earlier.  Also throw in revenge from an accidental shooting and the vastness of the Great Smoky Mountains in Gatlinburg, TN for a story that will keep you on the edge of your seat.  There were many times I wondered if Nikki would be able to find Bridget in time and how she, and her co-workers would get out of a couple of very sticky situations.  The emotions you go through as you read are all over the place.  You might feel frustration with Bridget for the things she did leading up to her abduction; scared when Nikki gets a strange phone call in the middle of the night; anxious when Nikki and her co-workers are put in some very dangerous situations and happiness when family is reunited.  The way the book wrapped up the story was very good.  It kept me turning pages, eager to see what happened next and wondering how everything would work out.
     This is a great book and I am excited to read the next few books in this series.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.
 
Lisa Harris is a Christy Award winner and the winner of the Best Inspirational Suspense Novel for 2011 from Romantic Times.  The author of nearly thirty books, including Dangerous Passage, Fatal Exchange, and Hidden Agenda, Harris and her family have spent twelve years living as missionaries in southern Africa.  They currently live in Mozambique.  Learn more at www.lisaharriswrites.com.

Keeping Christmas Book Review


SUMMARY:  Nothing is more beautiful than family.
     For the first time since their children were born, empty-nesters Judith and Stan Winters spent Thanksgiving without the kids, and it's looking like Christmas will be the same.  Judith can't bring herself to even start decorating for the holiday; her kids always hung the first ornaments on the tree, ornaments they had made each year since they were toddlers.  Sure, the ornaments were strange-looking - some were downright ugly - but they were tradition.
     With Judith refusing to decorate the bare spruce tree in their living room, Stan's only hope for saving the holiday is found in a box of handmade ornaments . . .

REVIEW:  Judith's life is wrapped up around her kids.  Even though they all are married and living on their own, having family together to celebrate was what made the holidays.  Now that all three and their families have moved out of state, the first holiday without them sent Judith into a depression tailspin.  I love how Stan does what he can to help pull Judith out of her despair.  He encourages her and enlists friends to do the same.  He doesn't give up when she doesn't respond at first.  My favorite part was the end when Stan makes a HUGE sacrifice that not only affected him but his best friend, too, to help his wife. 
     This story encouraged me to find ways to make the holidays special with my kids as they grow up before they leave the nest. It also reminded me that time with our families at home is going by very quickly and to take advantage of having them close.
     This is an AWESOME book that I highly recommend everyone read.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Dan Walsh is the bestselling author of several books, including The Unfinished Gift and The Restoration Series with Gary Smalley.  He has won three Carol Awards, and three of his novels were finalists for the RT Book Reviews Inspirational Book of the Year.  A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Dan served as a pastor for twenty-five years.  He lives with his wife in the Daytona Beach area, where he's busy researching and writing his next novel.  Learn more at www.danwalshbooks.com.

An Endless Christmas Book Review


SUMMARY:  Both in their eighties, Dodie and Wilson Binder celebrate every Christmas as if it were their last.  This year, their only grandson, Micah, asks his girlfriend, Katie to marry him - in front of the whole family.  But things go terribly wrong when she says no.  Now Katie is stuck.  Too many people, too much snow, and too little room should be a recipe for disaster.  But, sometimes too much is just enough.  Especially, when it's Christmas.
     Will Katie let herself love and be loved before it is too late?

REVIEW:  Thinking about this book while waiting for it to arrive, I started getting anxious.  How would the story work out?  If this were me, I would feel like the walls were closing in on me and like I was under a spotlight.  Would Katie feel the same way?  My fears were for naught.  This story was awesome and so sweet!!  The Binders have everything down to organized chaos.  Everyone has a comfortable place to sleep, even if it is in a window seat, plenty to eat and lots of wonderful memories to be made.  They open their doors to anyone in need of family and no one is a stranger.  When Wilson has some health issues, everyone pitches in to make sure Christmas Eve dinner is taken care of, the younger kids are taken care of and that Grandpa gets the help he needs.  I love the surprises towards the end of the story.  This is a family everyone longs to have.  They've learned the hard way that tomorrow is not guaranteed so live for now, with no regrets.
     This is an awesome book that should be read every year.

This book was provided by Litfuse Publicity Group and Worthy Inspired Books 
for review without compensation.

Cynthia Ruchti tells stories of "Hope-that-glows-in-the-dark" through her novels and novellas, speaking for women's events and retreats, writers' events and retreats, and nonfiction books and devotionals, drawing from 33 years of on-air radio ministry.  Her books have been recognized by the RT Reviewers' Choice Award, Selah Awards, Gayle Wilson Award of excellence, Christian Retailing's BEST Awards, Family Fiction Readers' Choice Award and Carol Award nominations, among other honors.  She and her plot-tweaking husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five grandchildren.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Reluctant Bride Book Review

An Amish of Birch Creek Novel

SUMMARY:  She never wanted to marry.  He hopes to make amends for past wrongs.  Can love find a way to heal both of their hearts?
     Sadie Schrock swore she would never marry.  All of her other Amish friends could court and marry - she was content to manage the family business and eventually take it over when her parents are ready to retire.  But all of that changes when a reckless driver kills both of her parents and seriously injures her younger sister.  With mounting hospital bills adding to the pile of debt her parents left behind, Sadie is left with no choice; she must marry.  And not just any man - the man who saw her at her weakest and walked away.
     Aden knows what his brother did to Sadie years ago was inexcusable.  And every day since that incident, Aden has lived with the guilt for not intervening sooner.  When he is faced with the chance to protect Sadie once again, he can't let her down - even if it means living with the scorn of the woman he loves for the rest of his life.
     Working alongside Aden at the store, Sadie realizes he isn't the same boy who once betrayed her.  Just when Sadie starts to let her guard down and perhaps develop feeling for her new husband, dangerous secrets are revealed.  Now everything Sadie has worked so hard to protect is threatened, and she must find a way to save her family - and herself.

REVIEW:  This book's underlying theme is how keeping secrets can eat at your soul and little by little destroy you.  Aden and his brother Solomon both carry the shame of abuse.  Their father beats them over even small infractions then forces Solomon to continue the beatings on Aden.  Aden has tried to not let it get to him; Solomon drinks away his pain, causing other problems along the way.  Sadie never told a soul what Solomon tried to do to her, because she is ashamed.  The bishop keeps the community funds hidden from everyone as he doesn't want to follow in his father's footsteps and squander the money.  He even has the families in his district sign over valuable property to him, to keep the money safe.
     This story grabbed at my heart, tugging on it with every page.  I loved how the love and respect Aden shows Sadie, and eventually Solomon, changes their relationships for the better.  I admire Aden and his determination to not be like his father and let anger take hold of him.  Solomon's change is miraculous and is also to be admired.  
    The only thing I have against this story is the time line of Sadie and Aden's relationship.  Even though they grew up together, they didn't have much to do with each other unless they had to.  Aden had strong feelings for Sadie but it was at a distance. Sadie's feelings for Aden does an 180-degree change from barely tolerating him when they are forced to marry to being completely in love with him in about two or three weeks time.  But, this is a common complaint I have with novels. 
     That said, this novel was very enjoyable and eye-opening.  It is definitely worth reading.

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

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

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

On This Foundation Book Review

The Restoration Chronicles
Book Three

SUMMARY:  Stone by Stone, the Wall Will Rise Once More Around God's City
     When news reaches him that Jerusalem's wall is shattered and its gates burned with fire, a distraught Nehemiah seeks God's guidance in fasting and prayer.  Granted an unexpected leave from his duty as cupbearer to the Persian king Artaxerxes, Nehemiah sets out for Jerusalem to rebuild the city wall - never anticipating all the dangers that await him on his arrival.
     The leaders of the surrounding nations become his fierce enemies, plotting to assassinate him and stop the wall's reconstruction forever.  A drought, meanwhile, has left the country impoverished, with many families resorting to selling their children as bondservants just to keep from starving.
     Capturing the rebuilding of the wall through the eyes of a number of characters, On This Foundation is the powerful conclusion to The Restoration Chronicles.  This exploration of faith in the midst of oppression offers hope that, in spite of appearances, the gracious hand of God is upon those who believe.

REVIEW:  Trusting God to follow through and trusting Him to be there during difficult times is the crux of this novel, even when it seems like He isn't listening and has turned His back.  Nehemiah has to trust the Lord is leading him to rebuild the wall surrounding Jerusalem against opposition by Israel's enemies and those inside Jerusalem determined to stop him from upsetting the new normal.  Nava has stopped trusting God after she is forced to work as a bondservant to protect her family farm after years of drought and leave her childhood boyfriend, whom she was to marry. Chana doesn't know if she can trust Yahweh after her fiance' is killed by robbers just before their marriage.  When she is pledged to another in marriage, she has to decide if God is with her after all or if she will turn her back on Him.
     This novel is a wonderful wrap-up to the series about the Jewish nation's return to Israel after the Diaspora.  The author shows how difficult life was in Jerusalem.  But, when the people obeyed God's law, His provisions and blessing came in abundance.  I like how the author showed Nehemiah's humanity and didn't put him on a pedestal.  He wanted to become king, like some of the "prophets" claimed but knew it wasn't God's plan for him.  Not everything was tied up in a neat little bow but the twists and turns the author placed kept me turning pages to see how situations would play out. 
     This book is wonderful.  It ties the books of Esther, Ezra and Nehemiah together in a seamless way that is interesting and never dull.  Check it out for yourself.

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

Lynn Austin is a bestselling author who has sold more than one million copies of her books worldwide.  She is an eight-time Christy Award winner for her historical novels, as well as a popular speaker at retreats and conventions.  Lynn and her husband have raised three children and live in Michigan.  Learn more at www.lynnaustin.org

Friday, October 30, 2015

Miracle Drug Book Review


SUMMARY:  Overcoming these odds would take more than a miracle drug - it would take a miracle.
     The infection wasn't supposed to happen, but it did.  The treatment was supposed to take care of it, but it didn't.  Dr. Josh Pearson believes an experimental drug not yet approved by the FDA may be the antidote.  But there's only one dose available for two patients:  the former president of the United States . . . and Josh's girlfriend.
     With the nation's eyes on him, Josh must pull off a miracle to save a man who holds a good deal of power and the woman who holds his heart.

REVIEW:  The summary of this book really intrigued me and the book lives up to most of the hype.  Trying to figure out who was behind the attack on David Madison, the former president, and Rachel Moore, the nurse who was accompanying him on a scouting trip in South America, was difficult.  About the time I thought I had narrowed down the suspects, new information would come out that threw a wrench in my thinking.  The attempts on Madison's life seemed to get lost in the other parts of the story at times, though. 
      It was interesting and eye-opening to read about experimental and new drugs and how the CDC operates in regards to these medicines.  It got me to wondering if there are any new medicines that have been developed that aren't being examined more thoroughly due to limited funds or limited usages.
     I liked the way the author weaved faith in throughout the novel and how prayer was very beneficial to all the characters.

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

Richard L. Mabry, M.D., is a retired physician who writes "medical suspense with heart."  His novels have won multiple awards.  He and his wife life in northern Texas.  You can follow Richard online at RMabry.com, as well as on Twitter (@RichardMabry) and on Facebook at RMabryBooks.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Ties That Bind Book Review

The Amish of Summer Grove Series
Book One

SUMMARY:  Ariana's comfortable Old Order Amish world is about to unravel.  Will holding tightly to the cords of family keep them together - or simply tear them apart?
     Twenty-year-old Ariana Brenneman loves her family and the Old Ways.  She has two aspirations: open a cafe' in historic Summer Grove to help support her family's ever-expanding brood, and keep any other Amish from being lured into the Englisch life by Quill Schlabach.
     Five years ago Quill and her dear friend Frieda ran off together, and Ariana still carries the wounds of that betrayal.  When she unexpectedly encounters him again, she realizes he has plans to help someone else she loves leave the Amish.
     Despite how things look, Quill's goal has always been to protect Ariana from anything that might hurt her, including the reasons he left.  After returning to Summer Grove, he unearths secrets about Ariana and her family that she is unaware of.  His loyalty to her beckons him to try to win her trust - because when she learns the truth that connects her and a stranger named Skylar Nash, Quill knows it may upend her life forever.
     Ties That Bind is the first novel in The Amish of Summer Grove series.

REVIEW:  This story blew me out of the water!!  While there are a lot of events and people to keep straight, this composition kept my attention all the way through.  I found myself praying for Ariana, Skylar, their parents, etc as I read through difficult situations and massively tough decisions they faced.  Family can be those you were born into and those who come along side you for life's journey.  The struggles within this Amish community were difficult, as it seemed to be rules and regulations instead of grace and mercy.  While all are needed, some are needed more than others.  I hope I can get a copy of the next book when it comes out because I would LOVE to read more about Ariana and Skylar and their struggles as they adjust to the new "norm."  
    If you want a book that is full of intrigue and that will grab at your heart strings, this is one you want to pick up and read.

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

Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times, CBA, ECPA, and USA Today best-selling author who has written more than a dozen works of fiction and one of nonfiction.  Her connection with the Amish community has been widely featured in national media outlets.  She's been a finalist for the prestigious Christy, Rita, and Carol Awards, Christian Book of the Year, and Christian Retailers Choice Awards.  Cindy and her husband reside near the foothills of the North Georgia mountains.

A Chameleon, A Boy and A Quest Book Review


SUMMARY:  The Adventure of a Lifetime
     Journey through Africa with ten-year-old Mu and discover how one simple encounter can change everything.  J.A. Myhre's new adventure fiction series for kids and young adults blends magical realism, page-turning action, and subtle gospel themes.
     Orphaned ten-year-old Mu's drudgery-filled life changes forever when he meets a talking chameleon and the pair embark on an adventurous quest in the ever-changing landscape of Africa.

REVIEW:  This was an intriguing story of a boy trying to find out where he belongs.  Mu's companion is a chameleon who directs him where he needs to go, helps him communicate with other animals for help and food, and gives him advice about life.  The journey he takes is dangerous, fraught with men who want to kidnap him, animals that could kill or maim him, and paths across the savanna and up high mountain passes.  Along the way, Mu learns more about his birth parents, the uncle he lived with and what he is made of.  He makes some very difficult choices, the consequences of one he will have to live with for the rest of his life.
     This novel was written for families and young adults.  There were a couple of places I wouldn't want my younger child to read because it was difficult for me.  But, all in all, it was a great story of God's faithfulness and leading us along life's highways.  Check it out and see what you think.

This book was provided by Litfuse Publicity Group and New Growth Press 
for review without compensation.

J.A. Myhre, MD
, serves as a doctor with Serge in East Africa where she has worked for over two decades.  She is passionate about health care for the poor, training local doctors and nurses, promoting childhood nutrition and development, and being the hands of Jesus in the hardest places.  She is married to her best friend and colleague Scott, and together they have raised four children for whom these stories were written as Christmas presents.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Respectable Actress Book Review


SUMMARY:  When India Hartley is accused of murder, she must uncover the deceptions of others to save herself.
     India Hartley, a famous and beautiful actress, is now alone after her father's death and embarks upon a tour of theaters across the South.  Her first stop is Savannah's Southern Palace.  On the eve of the second night's performance, something goes horribly wrong.  Her co-star, Arthur Sterling, is shot dead on stage in front of a packed house, and India is arrested and accused of the crime.
     A benefactor hires Philip Sinclair, the best - and handsomest - lawyer in Savannah to defend India.  A widower, Philip is struggling to reinvent his worn-out plantation on St. Simon's Island.  He needs to increase his income from his law practice in order to restore Indigo Point, and hardly anything will bring him more new clients than successfully defending a famous actress on a murder charge.
     Because India can't go anywhere in town without being mobbed, Philip persuades the judge handling her case to let him take her to Indigo Point until her trial date.  India is charmed by the beauty of the Georgia lowcountry and is increasingly drawn to Philip.  But a locked room that appears to be a shrine to Philip's dead wife and the unsolved disappearance of a former slave girl raise troubling questions.  Piecing together clues in an abandoned boat and a burned-out chapel, India discovers a trail of dark secrets that lead back to Philip, secrets that ultimately may hold the key to her freedom.  If only he will believe her.

REVIEW:  This is an interesting story.  India is accused of murdering her co-star after he is shot by her on stage in front of a packed theater.  But, appearances can be deceiving.  Philip is determined to find the real murderer while the public is determined India is the only one at fault. 
     Unfortunately, there are quite a few other mysteries that need to be solved within this story that get tangled up with the information about India.  About the time I thought the first story line was to be solved, I realized I was still in the first quarter of the book and another enigma made an appearance.  Between India's trial for murder, the disappearance of a former slave, the death of Philip's wife, the mystery woman at the theater before Arthur's murder, and the vanishing funds of the theater, trying to keep track of all the questions and problems was difficult.
     My favorite part of the novel was even though India and Philip were attracted to each other, they did not rush their affection for each other.  They both grieved the loss of someone they loved and wanted to pursue their relationship slowly. 
     A Respectable Actress is a good book.  It was an easy read and the ending was enjoyable.  Check it out for yourself.

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

Dorothy Love, a native of West Tennessee, makes her home in the Texas hill country with her husband and their golden retriever.  An accomplished author, Dorothy is known for her Hickory Ridge novels among others.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Imposter Book Review

The Bishop's Family Series
Book One

SUMMARY:  A heart once deceived should not be easily fooled again . . . 
     Katrina Stoltzfus thought she had life and love all figured out:  she was going to marry John and live happily ever after.  But as her plans crumble before her eyes, she struggles to face an uncertain future.  When a widow asks for help starting a new business, Katrina quickly agrees.  She needs time to heal her broken heart, to untangle her messy life, to find a purpose.
     What she doesn't need is attention from Andy Miller, a farmhand who arrives at the widow's farm just when help is most needed - and who always seems to say the right thing and be in the right place, at the right time.  Is Andy for real or too good to be true?  She's been deceived once before, and she isn't planning on experiencing it again.
     Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher invites you back to Stoney Ridge for a tale of love, uncertainty, and trusting God to write your story.

REVIEW:  This story is an easy read.  The characters, most of them, are lovable and will make you smile.  Some make you want to wring their necks at their immaturity or deceptiveness.  My favorite ones, besides Katrina, were Birdy, Thelma and David.  There were times I just wanted to hug them for their outlook on life and their compassion towards others.  Birdy's look at life and the things around her with heavenly eyes made me stop and think about how I viewed everything.  Thelma, although she came off as a gruff old lady at first, was sweet and thoughtful, especially when it came to Katrina.  David's heart for a pure fellowship with God instead of rules and regulations made some people angry but many in his community admired his stand and desired to have it too.  Katrina had some hard decisions to make.  I love how she stood by her decisions and how her family came along side her and supported her without question or condemnation.  
     This is a good book.  It does refer a lot to instances and people that are found in Ms. Fisher's other Amish novels set in Stoney Ridge.  People who have not read any other of her novels may wonder if they missed something at times.  I enjoyed this book and hope others do, too.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.
 
Suzanne Woods Fisher is an award-winning, bestselling author whose most recent novels include Anna's Crossing and The Inn at Eagle Hill series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace and The Heart of the Amish.  She lives in California.  Learn more at www.suzannewoodsfisher.com and follow Suzanne on Twitter @suzannewfisher.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Girl from the Train Book Review

International Bestseller

SUMMARY:  Six-year-old Gretl Schmidt is on a train bound for Auschwitz.  Jakob Kowalski is planting a bomb on the tracks.
     As World War II draws to a close, Jakob fights with the Polish resistance against the crushing forces of Germany and Russia.  They mean to destroy a German troop transport, but Gretl's unscheduled train reaches the bomb first.
     Gretl is the only survivor.  Through spared from the concentration camp, the orphaned German Jew finds herself lost in a country hostile to her people.  When Jakob discovers her, guilt and fatherly compassion prompt him to take her home.  For three years, the young man and little girl form a bond over the secrets they must hide from his Catholic family.
     But she can't stay with him forever.  Jakob sends Gretl to South Africa, where German war orphans are promised bright futures with adoptive Protestant families - so long as Gretl's Jewish roots, Catholic education, and connections to communist Poland are never discovered. 
     Separated by continents, politics, religion, language and years, Jakob and Gretl will likely never see each other again.  But the events they have both survived and their belief that the human spirit can triumph over the ravages of war have formed a bond of love that no circumstances can overcome.

REVIEW:  To be completely honest, I wasn't sure I wanted to read this book.  After it arrived, I didn't open it for about a week, imagining it to be full of hurt, depravity, sadness and overwhelming grief.  But, when I did open its pages and started reading Gretl's story, I had a very difficult time putting it down.  Yes, Gretl's life was difficult and there was sadness and formidable times but the way the story was written, it was not overwhelming and was distributed throughout the story as to not grieve the reader too much at one time.  Gretl adapted to each change gracefully and without question, even though it may not have been what she wanted to do.  I loved how her new family in South Africa didn't try to make her forget her previous life but helped her adjust to all the newness, even commenting how they each had made major changes in their lives.  The weight of all the secrets Gretl keeps is very heavy.  The way her family reaches out to her to help her with her burdens is amazing.
     The whole book shows modern-day readers in America just how difficult life was during and after the war for both families and orphans.  It was not easy and their struggles should not be forgotten.
     This was an excellent piece of literature that will stay with me a very long time.  Check it out yourself.  You will not be disappointed.

This Advance Reader's Copy was provided by Fiction Guild and 
Thomas Nelson Publishers for review without compensation.
Irma Joubert, international bestselling author, was a history teacher for 35 years before she began writing.  Her stories are known for their deep insight into personal relationships and rich historical detail.  She's the author of eight novels and a regular fixture on bestseller lists in The Netherlands and in her native South Africa. She is the winner of the 2010 ATKV Prize for Romance Novels.  Find her on Facebook at irmajourbertpage.

Short Answers to Big Questions about God, the Bible & Christianity Book Review


SUMMARY:  Your biggest questions about God and faith - answered.

     This book provides short and to-the-point answers to pressing questions about God, the Bible, and Christianity, including
  • What will heaven be like?
  • Can a Christian be demon possessed?
  • Do science and faith conflict?
  • Is hell a real place?
  • Is it possible to prove God exists?
  • What is God like?
  • What is my purpose in life?
  • and many more.
If you want a clear introduction to the essential teachings of Christianity, look no further.

REVIEW:  The title says it all.  The questions are big and difficult, at times, but the answers are short and concise.  The authors have nine sections with questions that people have who either don't understand Christianity or who maybe are Christians but don't fully understand God, the Christian faith and their Christian walk.  At the end of each chapter, there are discussion questions and key scripture passages, when necessary.  As the authors state in the preface, this book cannot answer all the questions but it meant to be a tool to help you in your search and walk.  Volumes upon volumes have been written about each area; this book can help you find answers in one place with the tools you need to further your search, if need be. 
     This is a great resource book to have for Christians to have.  It reinforced some ideas I had and helped solidify others.  It's one I plan to keep in my library.

This book was provided by Baker Books for review without compensation.

Clinton E. Arnold is dean of Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, in La Mirada, California.  He is the author of many books, including 3 Crucial Questions about Spiritual Warfare, and is the editor of the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary.

Jeff Arnold is a high school English and logic teacher in Downey, California.  A former youth pastor, he is the creator of Unleashed, an intensive training camp that equips Christian teens to share their faith.  He also trains new believers in the basics of theology.
 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Methuselah Project Book Review


SUMMARY:  During World War II, German scientists started many experiments.  One never ended.
     Shot down over Nazi Germany in 1943, Roger Greene becomes both a prisoner and an unwilling guinea pig in a bizarre experiment.  Seventy years later, Roger still appears as youthful as the day he crash-landed - and he's still a prisoner.  Nearly insane from his long captivity, Roger finds his only hope in an old Bible.
     Not until our present time does Roger finally escape from the secret society running the Methuselah Project.  When he does, the modern world has become a fast-paced, perplexing place.  his only option is to accept the help of Katherine Mueller - crack shot, go-getter, and attractive to boot.  Can he convince her of the truth of his crazy story?  And can he continue to trust her when he finds out she works for the very organization he's trying to flee?

REVIEW:  If you like the Marvel's Captain America movies and character, you will like this book.  Like Steve Rogers, Roger Green is as youthful as he was in 1943.  But, instead of volunteering for the experiment and being "asleep" for 70 years, Roger was kept prisoner by a Nazi scientist and his co-workers while they studied him. 
     This was a very interesting book.  The way the author handled the passage of seventy years was thought out and thought provoking.  It was intriguing how Roger found comfort and solace in reading the Bible, something he did not do before his capture.  I was a little jealous of the library he had, all the knowledge he gained from reading and how he retained everything he read.  I was impressed at how quickly he adapted to modern culture, even though it seems a little far-fetched at times.  There were a few places that his lack of modern-day knowledge and his interaction with people made me laugh.
     Katherine Mueller is determined to follow in her uncle and parents' footsteps and join the Heritage Organization.  Little does she know, this organization is not what she thinks it is and risks everything to help Roger.  I like how she sticks by Roger, helps him uncover his past, and provides great insight on everything Roger needs.
     This was a wonderful book.  I really enjoyed reading it and love how it is open-ended to allow for future additions to this marvelous story.

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

Rick Barry is the author of Gunner's Run, another World War II novel, Kiriath's Quest, and over 200 articles and fiction stories.  In addition to being a World War II buff, he is the director of church planting ministries at BIEM, a Christian ministry operating in Eastern Europe.  He holds a degree in foreign languages, speaks Russian, and has visited Europe more than fifty times.  Rick lives in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Visit him at facebook.com/AuthorRickBarry or on Twitter (@WriterRickBarry). 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Hiding Places Book Review


SUMMARY:  The Harrison Lodge is full of hiding places where young Kate can discover all the secrets no one wants her to know.
     Eleven-year-old Kate keeps her knowledge to herself - one sister's stash of marijuana, the other's petty cash pilfering, her grandfather's contraband candy bars.  She protects her mother and Gran, too, screening out critical comments from the hotel suggestion box.  But suddenly the stakes are raised, her grandfather's best friend is murdered the day after Kate heard the two men arguing.
     At the same time, far from the quiet mountain resort, a homeless man flees a robbery gone wrong . . . a gang member seeks revenge for the death of his son . . . and a boy chooses the worst time to wield spray paint on a store window.  In a strange and spiraling sequence of events, their disparate worlds collide at Harrison Lodge.
     Kate offers shelter to one of them, unaware of the terrible consequences to the family she loves.  But people can hide in all kinds of ways, sometimes even in plain sight . . . and some secrets are just waiting to be exposed.

REVIEW:  This book was difficult for me to read at times.  There are four different viewpoints going on simultaneously throughout this novel: at times independent, others overlapping, then all of them converge into one big story.  All of the switching back and forth confused me at times.  When they converged, sometimes it was even difficult to figure what was going on where and who all were involved.
     Kate and Pearl were my two favorite characters.  Kate, with her need to protect those she loved, and Pearl, trying to make the ones she loved feel useful and needed, made this story.  It was interesting how Pearl, after faking dementia for many, many years, took charge when the lodge was hijacked and everyone was taken hostage, moving along secret passages and moving about like a specter.  Kate loved everyone and seemed to see the best in them.  She also brings out the protectiveness in those around her.
     The massive majority of the books I read are Christian-based fiction.  This book, while it is published by a Christian publishing company, is not overtly Christian fiction.  Church is mentioned only once and reading the bible or a walk with Christ is never portrayed.  But, if you think about things, Christ-likeness shows up in the characters.  Kate shows faint Christ-like qualities in that she sees the best in everyone, even if they don't deserve it.  Pearl's father, and Pearl, both love the unlovable and those who have been hurt or wronged by those around them.  Mr. Harrison reached out to the Japanese population in the US being shunned and distrusted during the second World War.  Pearl reaches out to Charlie, who has been shunned and distrusted by society.
    I commend the author for having all those involved in criminal behavior pay for their mistakes.  Often times, writers will let everyone off the hook except for the really bad characters.  This time, everyone paid for their crimes, but some are also shown mercy by the family.
      This book was okay, in my opinion.  There were too many things happening that made it difficult at times for me to follow along. 

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

Erin Healy is the bestselling author of Burn and Kiss (with Ted Dekker) and an award-winning editor for numerous bestselling authors.  She has received wide acclaim for her novels Never Let You Go, The Promises She Keeps, The Baker's Wife, House of Mercy, Afloat, Stranger Things, and Motherless.  She and her family live in Colorado.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

My God and My All Book Review

The Life of Saint Francis of Assisi

SUMMARY:  The ever-fascinating life of Saint Francis of Assisi, retold for today's readers by one of the great novelists of our time.
    Perhaps more than any other figure in Christian History, Saint Francis of Assisi has captured our imagination, for his is a story of extreme self-sacrifice, of love to God and humankind.  How could this wealthy, handsome youth cast away all the advantages that were his by birth and choose instead a life of poverty and humility?  How could he attract members of all strata of society to his mission?  And how, when his order became established throughout Europe, could he renounce great personal power and humbly continue his life's work?
     Here is Francis, from his twelfth-century boyhood to his life as a missionary roaming the very boundaries of the known world.  Here too are the colorful men and women who followed him, recreated by bestselling author Elizabeth Goudge against a rich medieval canvas.

REVIEW:  This book is not a quick or easy read.  It is more an academic-type biography in nature, which should be read slowly and thoughtfully to get the most out of the information.  I enjoyed reading Saint Francis' story, but have to admit, I did not finish the book.  It was so rich with information that I ran out of time before I could finish it.  Reading about his early life and how he gave it all up to follow God was facinating.  He felt God calling him to follow Christ's words in Matthew 10:9-14 that says:
“Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts—no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep.  Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave.  As you enter the home, give it your greeting.  If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you.  If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet." Bible Gateway
     He and his followers would go out with nothing but the clothes on their backs to spread the gospel.  Sometimes the townspeople would provide food and shelter; others, they had to sleep outside in the dead of winter with nothing to cover them and nothing to eat.
     Anyone who wanted to follow him had to abide with absolutely no possessions at all.  Many followed, but some could not handle it.  Francis did not show them any animosity but love and grace.  He always thought of others before himself.  Even at the end of his life, he was thinking of those around him.
     This was a very interesting story and one I plan to finish one day very soon.  Anyone looking at church history and followers of Christ should read this book.

This book was provided by Handlebar for review without compensation.

Elizabeth Goudge (1900-1984) was one of the most popular British novelists of the twentieth century.  Her Green Dolphin Street, a #1 New York Times bestseller, was made into an Academy Award winning film.  She also wrote many acclaimed children's books - in 1946 she won the Carnegie Medal for The Little White Horse, which J.K. Rowling has said was her favorite book as a child.

The Prince Who Was Just Himself Book Review


SUMMARY:  It's a good thing everyone is different!
     The royal couple is looking forward to their third child.  "He looks a little different," muses the king at Prince Noah's arrival. "He is not like the others," agrees the queen.  Soon they notice what a very special person he is, even though he can't do everything his brothers can.
     When Prince Noah disarms the cruel knight Scarface with an act of compassion, everyone finally realizes how good it is that each person is unique.
     This delightfully illustrated fairy tale for children three years and older instills appreciation for children with Down syndrome and other developmental challenges, making it a valuable aid for teaching acceptance in the home or classroom.
     There are children who are slower, who can't run so well, who can say just a few words or none at all.  Each of them belongs in our world and enriches it.

REVIEW:  Even though my children are older, this book piqued my interest.  When we don't understand something or meet someone different from us, we try to put them in a box.  But, there are those who just knock out the sides of that box with their insight, love and compassion.  Prince Noah is one of those people.  Everything about him is different but different is good.  When the scary Scarface comes to take over the kingdom, Prince Noah uses the compassion given to him to change Scarface for the better.  I loved this book and hope to share it with everyone with little or big kids.  May we all be accepting and blessed by the Prince Noah's we meet.

This book was provided by Handlebar and Plough Publishing House for review
without compensation. 

Silke Schnee is a journalist and works as a television producer for a public broadcaster in Cologne, Germany.  She is married and has three sons.  Her youngest son Noah was born in July, 2008 with Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome).  She writes, "At first when Noah was born, we were shocked and sad.  The catalyst for this book was witnessing the effect he had on many people, despite being categorized as disabled.  In fact, our little prince brings much love, joy and sunshine not only to us, but to all around him.  Children as a wonder, and we must see them with the eyes of our heart - each child just the way he or she is."

Heike Sistig studied special education and art and is a trained art therapist.  She works as an editor for children's television programming.  She has illustrated several children's books, and has exhibited her collages in several galleries.  She lives with her family in Cologne, Germany. 

The Mistress of Tall Acre Book Review


SUMMARY:  There can only be one mistress of Tall Acre.
     The American Revolution is finally over, and Sophie Menzies is starved for good news.  When her nearest neighbor, General Seamus Ogilvy, finally comes home to Tall Acre, she hopes it is a sign of better days to come.  But the general is now a widower with a small daughter in desperate need of a mother. Nearly destitute, Sophie agrees to marry Seamus and become the mistress of Tall Acre in what seems a safe, sensible arrangement. But when a woman from the general's past returns without warning, the ties that bind this fledgling family together will be strained to the utmost.  When all is said and done, who will be the rightful mistress of Tall Acre?
     Triumph and tragedy, loyalty and betrayal - you will find it all in the rich pages of this newest novel from the talented pen of Laura Frantz.

REVIEW:  Laura Frantz does a great job showing her readers what life after the American Revolution might have been like for those who served and for one who's loyalty to the cause is questioned due to familial choices.  Sophie was born in Scotland but raised in America, a land she loved.  But, because her father chose to side with the British and moved back to the familial lands in Scotland, Sophie is considered an outcast.
     I enjoyed reading how Seamus' daughter Lily Cate loved Sophie and was ready to accept her as her new mother.  I also liked how Sophie's faith played a big part in everything she did and how it affected those around her for the better.  The author threw a curve ball with the return of the woman from the general's past.  I was not expecting it and loved how everything worked out in the end.
     This is a great book.  Check it out!

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, Courting Morrow Little, The Colonel's Lady, and the Ballantyne Legacy series.  She lives and writes in a log cabin in the heart of Kentucky.  Learn more at www.laurafrantz.net.

Last Chance Hero Book Review

 A Place to Call Home Series
Book Four

SUMMARY:  What happens when your heart is intercepted before you even know it's in play?
     The folks in Last Chance, New Mexico, could not be more pleased.  Dr. Jessica MacLeod has opened an office right on Main Street, and Andy Ryan, the best athlete the little town ever produced, has come home from the NFL to coach the high school football team. Unfortunately, Dr. Jess immediately gets off on the wrong foot with this football-obsessed town when she admits that she's never seen a football game, isn't really interested in doing so, and in fact doesn't know a first down from a goalpost.
     Despite having little in common, Jess and Andy find themselves drawn to each other.  But when a disagreement over the future of an injured player puts them both on the defensive, it begins to look like this game it over . . .

REVIEW:  As with the other books in this series, this series is fun, full of laughter, and serious points, too.  The characters are ones you'd want to be friends with, in real life.  While the main focus is on Dr. Jess and Andy, I love how the characters you met in previous books are developed more and how more of their lives are revealed.  It would be nice, though, if a Cast of Characters was included to remind you who everyone is and how they are connected. 
     The town, while quick to accept Dr. Jess as a person, has a harder time accepting her as their doctor.  They are set in their ways and find it difficult to switch gears.  On the other hand, townsfolk are quick to support Andy in anything he does, as long as he accomplishes a winning football season. 
   While this is a great book, it ended way to quickly and left a LOT of unfinished business.  What happened at Homecoming?  Would Jess ever be able to understand and appreciate the game of football?  Did Emma and her family get the help they needed?  What did the college scout think of Zach and Gabe?  Also, the spiritual aspect was hardly mentioned.  Now, Elizabeth alluded to faith when talking to Jess and she attended church with the rest of the town, there was no personal relationship with Christ mentioned. 
     All in all, it's a good book but, like I mentioned earlier, a lot seemed to be left undone.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Cathleen Armstrong lives in Orange County, California with her husband, Ed, and their corgi.  Though she has been in California for many years now, her roots remain deep in New Mexico.  Her debut novel Welcome to Last Chance won the American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for Women's Fiction.  She is also the author of One More Last Chance and At Home in Last Chance.  Learn more at www.cathleenarmstrong.com.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Memory Weaver Book Review


SUMMARY:  Eliza Spalding Warren was just a child when she was taken hostage by the Cayuse Indians during a massacre in 1847.  Now a mother of two, Eliza faces a new kind of dislocation: her impulsive husband wants to make a new start in another territory, which will mean leaving her beloved home and her mother's grave - and returning to the land of her captivity.
     Haunted by memories and hounded by struggle, Eliza longs to know how her mother dealt with the trauma of their ordeal.  As she searches the pages of her mother's diary, Eliza is stunned to find that her own recollections tell only part of the story.
     Based on true events, The Memory Weaver is New York Times bestselling author Jane Kirkpatrick's latest literary journey into the past, where threads of western landscapes, family, and faith weave a tapestry of hope inside every pioneering woman's heart.  Get swept up in this emotional story of the memories that entangle us and the healing that awaits us when we bravely unravel the threads of the past.

REVIEW:  Since I was not familiar with the story of the actual events, I had a difficult time fully understanding everything going on in the book.  The relationship between Eliza and her dad was a strange one.  After the death of Mrs. Spalding, Mr. Spalding treated Eliza almost like his wife - even though she was only 14 year old, putting her in charge of keeping house, taking care of her siblings, cooking for everyone and sewing and mending their clothes - but hardly communicated with her.  He would take Eliza, and sometime her brother, on preaching trips for weeks, leaving Mrs. Spalding behind.  When she eloped with her husband, her father basically disowned her and wouldn't talk to her for years. 
     The flashbacks of the hostage situation that Eliza had were difficult to follow because they happened at odd times and seemed really random.  Towards the end of the book, as Eliza confronts her fears and returns to the area where her captivity occurred, she is given her mother's diaries which, along with a few other things, helps clarify what actually transpired. 
     Even though the ending wrapped up some questions and confusion I had, this is still a novel that I might have trouble recommending.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Jane Kirkpatrick is the New York Times and CBA bestselling author of twenty-seven books, including A Light in the Wilderness and A Sweetness to the Soul, which won the coveted Wrangler Award from the Western Heritage Center.  Her books have been awarded the WILLA Literary Award and Carol Award for Historical Fiction and have been finalists for many others.  Jane lives in Central Oregon with her husband, Jerry.  Learn more at www.jkbooks.com.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Israel's Mission DVD and Discovery Guide Review

Becoming a Kingdom of Priests
in a Prodigal World

SUMMARY:  WHAT'S YOUR MISSION?  God gave an assignment to His people thousands of years ago:  Bring "lost sheep" back into the love and safety of His kingdom.  It's still our task today.  In this 13th volume of That the World May Know, you'll glimpse the urgency and rewards of welcoming the strangers and prodigals the Lord longs to embrace.  Discover the mission that can give your life - and the lives of those around you - greater meaning that you ever imagined.

Five Episodes filmed on location in the Middle East
  1. Abraham and Sarah and Three Strangers (Negev, Israel)
  2. Israel at Sinai: The First Great Commission (Timnah, Israel)
  3. Jesus Renews His Mission:  Seeking the Lost (Qatzrin, Israel)
  4. The Lost Son:  In a Far Country (Jerash, Jordan)
  5. The Seeking Father:  The Lost Son Returns (Qatzrin, Israel)
      This Discovery Guide will take you on an interactive journey.  Each session . . . 
  • Focuses on passages of Scripture explored in the film.
  • Includes sidebars, maps, photos and other study tools.
  • Features questions that facilitate discussion and inspire personal reflection.
That the World May Know
     Join renowned teacher and historian Ray Vander Laan as he guides you through the land of the Bible.  In each lesson, Vander Laan illuminates the historical, geographical and cultural context of the sacred Scriptures.  Filmed on location in the Middle East and elsewhere, the That the World May Know film series will transform your understanding of God and challenge you to be a true follower of Jesus.

REVIEW:  Having seen some of Ray Vander Laan's  That the World May Know videos in the past, I was excited to see this opportunity come across my desk.  The author and teacher of this video series gives you details based on cultural views, historical context and geography that has gotten lost in our modern day Western culture to help you understand what the biblical writers meant in a deeper, most eye-opening way.  In this series, Mr. Vander Laan focuses on our mission - bringing others back into the family fold - and how this assignment was given to the Israelites in the desert and again to the followers of Jesus.  The details given about how the patriarchal society the Hebrews were familiar with is a representation of the family of God.  The parables of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin and the Prodigal Son are seen in a different light when you look at the context of the patriarchal family - the beth ab - and shows us just how God keeps pursuing us, even when we don't want to be found.  The Discovery Guide gives you more details and focuses on other stories in the bible in greater detail that also support this idea of redemption.  Maps, side bar notes and "Did You Know" sections help bring the reader to a deeper understanding of the passages covered.
     This is a wonderful series and lives up to the memory of the ones I've seen previously.  This series is great for a small group, Sunday school class, Bible Study group or even an individual who wants to dig deeper into the bible.  You will not be disappointed.

This DVD and Discovery Guide was provided by Litfuse Publicity Group and Zondervan 
for review without compensation.

Ray Vander Laan is the founder of That the World May Know Ministries and creator of the That the World May Know video series with Focus on the Family.  An ordained minister, he holds the chair of biblical cultural studies as a religion instructor at Holland Christian Schools in Holland, Michigan.  He and his wife, Esther, have four children and 16 grandchildren.  ThatTheWorldMayKnow.com

Steven and Amanda Sorenson are founders of Sorenson Communications and have cowritten many small group curriculum guidebooks, including the entire That the World May Know film series.