Wednesday, September 20, 2017

God Made the World - by Debbie Rivers-Moore & Emma Haines

God Made the World

About the book:

Charming illustrations help infants and toddlers discover God's natural world, from dolphins to foxes to kittens! This squishy fabric book features crinkle cloth for sensory development and hours of baby fun. God Made the World also includes a child-safety mirror so baby can see herself and know she's a part of God's design.

For parents, a Velcro closure keeps the book shut, and a hanging tab can attach the book to a stroller, purse, or toy so it can go wherever they do. It comes packaged in a bag to keep it clean and includes a header card for easy hanging display.


My review:

This is a very cute book with adorable illustrations and fun colors!  It's all soft cloth but there's a crinkly sound in the front cover.  The words are very simple and there's a mirror in the back for baby to see themselves as they hear that "God made me!"  I love the velcro closure and the handy hanging tab.  This would make a great gift!

I received this book free from Kregel Children's Books.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Wonderful! My Review of The Two of Us - by Victoria Bylin

Cover Art

About the book:

After two broken engagements, Mia Robinson is done with dating. From now on, she's focusing on God and her goal to join an international aid organization as a nurse practitioner. But when her 18-year-old sister, Lucy, calls with an invitation to her Vegas wedding, it throws a wrench into Mia's plans.

Jake Tanner has recovered from the injuries he sustained as a police officer--on the outside. Inside, he's yet to heal from losing his partner in the tragedy, but finds some solace in keeping an eye on her young adult son, Sam, who's asked him to be best man at his wedding.

Mia expects a mess when she arrives to sort out the situation with Lucy, but she wasn't expecting Jake, who views the marriage a little differently. As Jake's and Mia's lives slowly become more intertwined, could his courage and her caring heart be enough to bring them a lifetime of healing?

My review:

I really enjoyed this wonderful, sweet story.  I loved so many of the characters, from the main ones to the supporting cast.  I admired Mia a lot for her selflessness and commitment to God and to staying pure.  She truly wanted God's will ahead of her own.  Jake was such an honorable guy and he had the patience of Job!  This story actually kept me guessing about if they'd end up together or whether she would choose medical missions.  There were some great romantic moments and also some humorous ones.  It was fascinating to learn about Jake's hearing dog and see what their interactions were like on a daily basis.  It was also interesting to learn about taking care of a person with Alzheimer's.  I liked seeing some of the story from Lucy's perspective as she struggled with her faith  and with not understanding who God really is.  She had a hard time believing He wasn't angry with her and punishing her for choices she'd made.  She also had to learn to lean on God instead of other people.  He's the only one who won't let you down!  There was a lot of spiritual meat in this book.  I highly recommend it for anyone who likes romance!

I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

 The Author

  1. Victoria Bylin
    © Scott Walz

    Victoria Bylin

    Victoria Bylin writes contemporary and historical romances known for their realistic, relatable characters. Her work has finaled in contests such as the Carol Awards, the RITAs, and the RT Reviewers' Choice Award. A native of California, she and her husband...
    Continue reading about Victoria Bylin 


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Rule of Law - by Randy Singer

 About the book:

What did the president know? And when did she know it?
For the members of SEAL Team Six, it was a rare mission ordered by the president, monitored in real time from the Situation Room. The Houthi rebels in Yemen had captured an American journalist and a member of the Saudi royal family. Their executions were scheduled for Easter Sunday. The SEAL team would break them out.
But when the mission results in spectacular failure, the finger-pointing goes all the way to the top.
Did the president play political games with the lives of U.S. service members?
Paige Chambers, a determined young lawyer, has a very personal reason for wanting to know the answer. The case she files will polarize the nation and test the resiliency of the Constitution. The stakes are huge, the alliances shaky, and she will be left to wonder if the saying on the Supreme Court building still holds true.
Equal justice under law.
It makes a nice motto. But will it work when one of the most powerful people on the planet is also a defendant?
My review:
I actually had a hard time getting into this story.  I found the premise intriguing but I got a little bogged down in the details of putting together their case.  I was expecting a little more action, though there were some exciting scenes.  I liked Paige a lot and admired her determination to do the right thing, no matter the cost to her career or reputation.  I really felt for her and the other SEAL families for what they went through.  Wyatt, the other attorney working with her, was very entertaining and it was fun to see what he would do next.  There were some pretty humorous moments in this story, which helped when dealing with a sad and sober situation.  There was a little bit of romance and some good spiritual moments as Paige really got serious about her faith after being inspired by her boyfriend.  This book really made me think more about our country and how we run it.  It is a little scary to think about the CIA and the president having so much freedom without having to answer to anyone.  I would recommend this book if you like legal stories or stories that deal with the state of our country.

I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

Learn more and purchase a copy.
Check out more reviews here
About the author:


Randy Singer is a critically acclaimed author and veteran trial attorney. He has penned more than ten legal thrillers, including his award-winning debut novel "Directed Verdict." In addition to his law practice and writing, he serves as a teaching pastor for Trinity Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He also teaches classes in advocacy and ethics at Regent Law School and serves on the school's Board of Visitors.
Find out more about Randy at http://www.randysinger.net.
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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Wonderful! My Review of Jane of Austin - by Hillary Manton Lodge

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I really enjoyed this well-written, engaging story; I did not want to put it down!  I love stories based on Jane Austen's books and this one was a modern-day spin on Sense and Sensibility, with some references to her other books thrown in for good measure.  Jane and Celia Woodward become guardians to their younger sister, Margot, after their mother died when they were teenagers and their father came under investigation for his business practices and he decided to leave the country.  Celia is the more reserved, older sister and she lost her new job soon after the suspicions about her father came to light.  Jane decided to leave college so she and Celia could open a tea shop so they could support themselves and Margot.  Jane is passionate about tea, creating new blends and growing her own plants.  They also bake pastries.  Life goes along pretty well, especially for Celia as she's dating a great guy.  After a few years, their landlord dies and his nephew and his wife inherit the place and decide they're not going to give the girls a break on rent like their uncle.  (This wife also happens to be the sister to Celia's boyfriend.)  The girls can't afford the new rent, so try to find a place in San Francisco, but don't have any luck.  Celia and her boyfriend break up and Celia comes up with the idea to move to Austin, Texas.  They have a relative there who offers them a guest cottage and hope that they can make it there, so they decide to move.

The sisters start to drift apart as Jane feels left out when Celia won't talk about her break-up.  They can't seem to find a place to rent that has what they need and when a handsome musician rescues them on the road, Jane falls hard.  Someone else has their eye on Jane, too, as retired Marine Captain Callum Beckett meets her and is reminded of a long-ago love he had for a high school sweetheart.  Character is revealed as situations play out and not everyone is what they seem.

I loved the cute love story and the humor was in turn sarcastic and dry and made me laugh out loud. Jane and Callum were both wonderful.  She was funny and loyal and passionate about her tea and taking care of her family.  Callum was such an honorable guy, trying to make up for the wrong his brother had done and putting others before himself, even at great cost to himself.  I loved, too, that he wasn't perfect.  He suffered from nightmares from being overseas and had also lost part of his leg during a mission.  He also struggled with not feeling worthy, partly because of the way his dad and brother had treated him and partly because he blamed himself for the outcome of his mission.  There were yummy sounding recipes at the end of each chapter and wonderful quotes at the beginning.  It was interesting learning more about tea and I loved the conversations about food and music.  This was a clean story and mentions faith and prayer, but it didn't talk much about it.  I did wish for more of a spiritual message.  I'd highly recommend this story if you like romance, classics or just a good novel about relationships.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.



Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Legacy - Secrets of the Shetlands 3 - by Michael Phillips

Cover Art

About the book:

The Dramatic Conclusion to the Secrets of the Shetlands

Loni Ford's unexpected inheritance of substantial real estate--not to mention a title--in the Shetland Islands has caused more than a stir in the quiet fishing hamlet of Whales Reef. How can life ever be the same with an outsider--and a woman at that--playing such a pivotal role in the life of this traditional community? But it isn't just the locals who have deep misgivings about the current situation. Loni herself never imagined this in her wildest dreams and wonders whether she's cut out for it.

Loni would hardly let herself acknowledge that she's falling in love--with Whales Reef, with its hardy people, and with local chieftain David Tulloch, whose inheritance she has usurped, at least in the eyes of some. Or has she merely been seduced by the simple, peaceful way of life that exists here?

Yet life in Whales Reef is rarely without drama. Deep rifts exist between certain lifelong neighbors, and when a dead body is discovered, suspicion is cast in the direction of the Tulloch family. How Loni and David face up to this challenge will profoundly shape their relationship, as well as the future of the island.

My review:

This was an enjoyable conclusion to the Secrets of the Shetlands series.  It definitely helps to read these books in order.  It was interesting to see how the situation with Hardy was going to play out as he was accused of murder.  I liked how the new minister was introduced and what he brought to the story.  It was very cool to see Hardy's transformation and the minister's influence.  Learning more about what led to World War II was fascinating.  It was also exciting to see Winston Churchill enter the story!  I always love the rich history Michael Phillips brings to his books.  I liked the back and forth of Brogan and Emily's story in 1924 and David and Loni's story in 2006.  It was interesting to learn more about Emily's Quaker faith, and to see that it was as strong as David and Loni's.  I especially liked seeing how David treated everyone so well, even Hardy who treated him terribly, and what a witness he was because of that.  There's a little bit of romance as David and Loni are committed to each other and there's several other people forming couples in their sphere.  There were also several wonderful secondary characters.  I would recommend this story if you like a gorgeous setting and wonderful characters you can really get to know over the course of the series.

I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

 The Author

  1. Michael Phillips

    Michael Phillips

    Michael Phillips is a bestselling author who has penned more than seventy books, both fiction and nonfiction. In addition, he has served as editor/redactor of nearly thirty more books. Over the past thirty years, his persistent efforts have helped reawaken...
    Continue reading about Michael Phillips 

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Unreformed Martin Luther - by Andreas Malessa

The Unreformed Martin Luther

About the book:

Will the real Martin Luther please stand up?

After five hundred years of examining the life of the "father of the Reformation," we must surely know all there is to know about Martin Luther. But is that true?

Did he really nail his Ninety-Five Theses to the church door?

Did he throw an inkpot at the devil?

Did he plant an apple tree?

Did his wife escape her convent in a herring barrel?

German radio and television journalist Andreas Malessa looks at the actual history of Luther and concludes that many of the tales we know best are nothing but nonsense.

Diving gleefully into the research, Malessa investigates many of the falsehoods and fallacies surrounding the reformer, rejecting them in favor of equally incredible facts. Full of humor and irony, this book educates and entertains while demonstrating a profound respect for Luther's life and mission.

If you're looking for the truth of the man behind the theses, come discover his faith and influence--with the myths stripped away.


My review:

This is a fascinating and funny book that was easy to read and incredibly informative.  Each chapter looks at a commonly held belief about Luther and whether or not it's true, with research to back it up. The chapters range from a few pages each to fifteen or so.  I had never heard of some of these beliefs but it was still fascinating to learn about what was happening at the time in politics, religion, society and culture and how Luther affected it or was affected by it.  I learned more about the Catholic faith, then and now, as Malessa explained the history of indulgences and what they were really supposed to be for.  I had read about them before but don't remember them explained quite the way he did.  It also still amazes me that it was so important to not marry as a priest or nun back then but it was common practice for monks, priests and nobles to have mistresses.  Luther also talked about other horrible sins that were committed because of this practice and it seems like we can still see the issues today with all of the child abuse in the Catholic church.  It was also fascinating to me the whole discussion about infant baptism versus believers' baptism and what was going on with the different reformers who were trying to change this practice.  A lot of them died horrible deaths.

An especially hard chapter to read was about Luther's anti-Semitism, though Malessa points out it's more accurate to say his anti-Judaism as it wasn't the Jewish race or culture he opposed but rather their religion and theology.  He blamed them for Jesus' death on the cross.  He even wrote a treatise called "On the Jews and Their Lies," where he says their synagogues should be burned and houses destroyed, etc.  Twenty years before, he had the opposite view.  I found it especially sad that Hitler used that treatise during his Nazi campaign.  Many people viewed Jews the same way Luther did during his time but that doesn't make it right.  Malessa points out that the Holocaust does not have its roots in Lutheranism or in Catholicism, as apparently Hitler, some of the leaders and three fourths of the concentration camp commanders were Catholic.  That attitude is not biblical and Evangelical Church in Germany denounced Luther's anti-Judaism in an official statement.

I would highly recommend this book if you like Martin Luther, church history or just learning more about history, period.

I received this book free from Kregel Publications in exchange for an honest review.


Thursday, August 31, 2017

Get Out of That Pit - 10th Anniversary Edition - by Beth Moore

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About the book:

From her first breath of fresh air beyond the pit, it has never been enough for Beth Moore to be free.

This best-selling author and Bible teacher who has opened the riches of Scripture to millions longs for you to be free as well--to know the Love and Presence that are better than life and the power of God's Word that defies all darkness.

Beth's journey out of the pit has been heart-rending. But from this and the poetic expressions of Psalm 40 has come the reward: a new song for her soul, given by her Saviour and offered to you in Get Out of That Pit--friend to friend. This is Beth's most stirring message yet of the sheer hope, utter deliverance, and complete and glorious freedom of God:

I waited patiently for the Lord

He turned to me and heard my cry

He lifted me out of the slimy pit

He set my feet on a rock

He put a new song in my mouth

It is a story, a song--a salvation--that you can know too.


My review:

I was really curious to read this book as I know of Beth Moore but had never actually read one of her books before.  I was pleasantly surprised by her forthrightness and humor.  She wasn't afraid to tell the whole truth, even if it put her in a bad or silly light.  She wanted to make it clear that she'd been through everything she was talking about; she'd been in one pit after another and knew what it was like.  She talked about how you know if you're in a pit, because a lot of people don't even realize they're in one.  A couple of ways to know if you're in one is if you can't stand up under attack, such as trials, temptations or assaults or if you feel stuck.  Another is that you can't see things that once may have been obvious.  She also describes ways we get into pits, being thrown in by someone else,such as when tragedy happens, sliding in, so we don't realize it's happening or jumping in, knowing we're making a bad choice but doing it anyway.  She talked about the importance of forgiving those who threw us into the pit and how God can ultimately bring good out of the situations, such as God using the incredibly difficult things she and her husband have gone through to minister to others, her being molested as a child and her husband having to watch his older brother burn to death as a child when they were in a fire.  She described how to get out of your pit and that God is the true deliverer.  People can help, but we shouldn't put them in God's place.  We need to cry out, confess and consent.  Finally, she explained how we can know when we're finally out of the pit.  There's also a week's worth of Scripture prayers at the end of the book for crying out, confessing and consenting each day.

Even though this was a serious topic, this book was full of hope and humor.  I really enjoyed Beth's writing style and how it felt like you were just sitting around drinking coffee together with a girlfriend.  She used a lot of Scripture and dispensed so much wisdom.  I highly recommend this book to anyone, because, after all, you might be in a pit and not even know it!

I received this book free from HandleBar in exchange for an honest review.


Friday, August 25, 2017

Sacred Mundane - by Kari Patterson

About the book:

What if the key to changing your life--and yourself--is already in your hand?

So many women struggle with what to do with their daily lives. They feel trapped in everyday drudgery and disappointment, in dull domestic duties, and in mundane jobs they despise. Where is the abundant, purposeful life they were promised?

Kari Patterson shows readers the truth: in each unremarkable life lies an opportunity to see, know, love, and be utterly transformed by a God who meets everyone right where they are. Instead of stepping away from real life to find God, Patterson equips women with a six-step practice to move further in and meet Him in the humdrum moments of everyday existence. And when a woman's inner being is truly changed by the sacred, everything in her world changes too--right down to tackling the dirty dishes.

Through entertaining narrative, candid real-life stories, Bible study, and practical instruction, Sacred Mundane guides individuals or small groups to discover the beautiful sacredness in the lives they already lead. Women who long to grow in God and make a real difference in the world--no matter how small--will reach eagerly for this book and the radical transformation it offers.

My review:

This was a wonderful and informative book that had a lot of wisdom.  I have been feeling like I'm stuck in a rut and thought this book might have some good ideas.  First of all, she said we need to decide who Jesus is.  Is He our Savior, a crazy person  or a liar?  Then if we decide He's our Savior, we need to invite him in to our mundane.  She also said our sole occupation in life is to please God.  I love all of the personal examples she used, like when she said she wanted to please God but felt like her life was one boring thing after another.  That's when she noticed a verse talking about a sacrifice of praise and how if we offer everything to God in order to draw near to Him, He can use that beyond our wildest imagination.  She points out the importance of reading the Bible consistently because that helps us see the world clearly.  There are also some great chapters on listening for God's voice, loving people and finding fulfillment.  A wonderful 8 week study guide is included at the back of the book with items to do every day. Kari had a funny, witty voice and I really liked how she made this book fun to read.  I highly recommend it!

I received this book free from Kregel Publications in exchange for an honest review.


Monday, August 21, 2017

The Return - Amish Beginnings 3 - by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Cover Art

About the book:

In a wild country, the true cost of love may be more than they can bear
Beautiful and winsome, Betsy Zook never questioned her family's rigid expectations, nor those of devoted Hans--but then she never had to. Not until the night she's taken captive in a surprise Indian raid. Facing brutality and hardship, Betsy finds herself torn between her pious upbringing and the feelings she's developing for a native man who encourages her to see God in all circumstances.

Greatly anguished by Betsy's captivity, Hans turns to Tessa Bauer for comfort. She responds eagerly, overlooking troubling signs of Hans's hunger for revenge. But if Betsy is ever restored to the Amish, will things between Hans and Tessa have gone too far?

Inspired by true events, this deeply layered novel gives a glimpse into the tumultuous days of prerevolutionary Pennsylvania through the eyes of two young, determined, and faith-filled women.

My review:

This was a fascinating book I found hard to put down!  I loved how we get Betsy'sIt was hard to fathom how terrifying it would be to live through an Indian attack where your parents were killed, then be taken captive by those same Indians.  I really felt for Betsy as she went through trial after trial but admired her, too, because she was incredibly strong.  It was interesting to learn more about the culture of the different Indian tribes and about some of the terrible events that occurred on both the Indian and whites' side.  There were some good discussions as people who wanted to eradicate all Indians were debating with those who wanted peace and who pointed out that not all Indians were attacking the white settlers.  There were also good spiritual discussions; I really liked how it was pointed out that trials teach us to rely on God.  I felt  really frustrated with Hans.  He kept making stupid decisions or saying stupid things.  Tessa also had her moments!  I also felt a bit frustrated with what the Amish church believed, especially in one instance  There was some humor, hints at romance, action and history.  There was, however, one spot where it felt like God's name was taken in vain.  There were good themes of trusting God and not letting jealousy or vengeance get a foothold.  I would say this book worked pretty well as a stand-alone.  I did read book one and there were references here to situations that occurred then, and the main girl from that story is the mother of Tessa here, so it was nice to get caught up on their lives.  I missed book two, however, and I didn't feel lost.  I would highly recommend this story if you like books about the Amish or historical books.

I received this book free from Revell in exchange for an honest review.

 The Author

  1. Suzanne Woods Fisher
    © Dan Davis Photography

    Suzanne Woods Fisher

    Suzanne Woods Fisher is an award-winning, bestselling author of more than two dozen novels, including Anna's Crossing, The Newcomer, and The Return in the Amish Beginnings series, The Bishop's Family series, and The Inn at Eagle Hill...

Friday, August 18, 2017

A Name Unknown - Shadows Over England 1 - by Roseanna M. White

 About the book:

She's out to steal his name. Will he steal her heart instead?
Rosemary Gresham has no family beyond the band of former urchins that helped her survive as a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they are no longer pickpockets-now they focus on high value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. Rosemary's challenge of a lifetime comes when she's assigned to determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany. How does one steal a family's history, their very name?
Rumors swirl around Peter Holstein. Awkward and solitary, but with access to the king, many fear his influence. But Peter can't help his German last name and wants to prove his loyalty to the crown-so he can go back to anonymously writing a series of popular adventure novels. When Rosemary arrives on his doorstop pretending to be a well- credentialed historian, Peter believes she's the right person to help him dig through his family's past.
Anger and danger continue to mount, though, and both realize they're in a race against time to discover the truth-about Peter's past and about the undeniable attraction kindling between them.
My review:
I absolutely loved this well-written story.  The characters just leapt off the page; they were funny, flawed people I wished I could know in real life.  Rosemary was tough, extremely loyal to her family and clever.  Peter was quiet, more serious, passionate about his faith and about helping others.  He also had a stutter and it was refreshing to see a character who wasn't so physically perfect.  I loved the history Rosemary uncovers as they try to figure out Peter's ties to Germany and his family's secrets.  I learned more about the events leading up to World War I and how royals from different countries were related. There were some sweet romantic moments and also some exciting ones as someone was threatening Peter and you weren't sure who.  There were some great conversations and letters about God and it was wonderful to see Rosemary's journey from being so distrustful of a wealthy man to great respect for him as she got to know who he really was.  It was fun to see the famous names of authors pop up in the story.  I'm excited for the next book in this series!  I highly recommend this one!

I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.


About the author:


Roseanna M. White pens her novels beneath her Betsy Ross flag, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When not writing fiction, she's homeschooling her two children, editing and designing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of over a dozen historical novels and novellas, ranging from biblical fiction to American-set romances to her British series. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to make their way into her novels . . . to offset her real life, which is blessedly boring. She passes said boring life with her husband and kids in the beautiful mountains of eastern West Virginia.
Find out more about Roseanna M. at http://www.roseannamwhite.com.
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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Ties That Bind - The Amish of Summer Grove 1 - by Cindy Woodsmall

Ties that Bind by Cindy WoodsmallThis was a wonderful, fascinating story! Twenty-year-old Ariana Brenneman loves to bake and wants to open a cafe to help her large family have a little more breathing room financially. She and her twin brother have been saving for years toward that goal. She's just started dating a man she could get serious about and her life starts to feel like it's all coming together. Suddenly, she runs into Quill, the man she loved as a teenager who had left the Amish community behind along with her good friend. It's been five long years and she finds out that he's been helping people leave the Amish and someone in her family is next.

Quill had his reasons for leaving, ones he still can't share with Ariana. He wants to protect her, though, and soon is asked by her parents to dig into the circumstances surrounding her birth. He wants Ariana to trust him again, but knows that when the truth comes out, he may lose it forever. As he digs for the truth, he also tries to help Ariana figure out a way to earn the rest of the money so she can close on the cafe. He knows she'll need that victory to deal with the truth that's coming to light about her connection to a girl named Skylar Nash.

There were a couple unique aspects that really made this book stand out. Most Amish books don't deal with the negative aspects of Amish life so to show a man who not only has left the Amish, but is also helping others leave was interesting. The situation with Ariana and Skylar was fascinating, too, but I won't reveal what that was about! I really liked Ariana and her twin, especially the situation with his unrequited love for a certain girl. Both Ariana and Quill had a strong faith. I liked the interesting conversations they would have. Quill was really an upstanding guy who put other people ahead of himself. There were some cute romantic moments. I'm excited to see where the series goes! There were so many fascinating situations to be resolved. Cindy Woodsmall is one of my favorite authors of Amish fiction. I highly recommend it!

I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for an honest review.        

This whole series is now available!  Book three was just released on Tuesday and they're all wonderful.  My reviews of the other two books were also posted on my blog this week.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Wonderful! Fraying at the Edge - The Amish of Summer Grove 2 - by Cindy Woodsmall

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About the book:

Family, community, faith, and love.
These “quilt blocks” sewn together made Ariana’s beautiful life.
When they are pulled to pieces,
will anything familiar remain?

The Old Order Amish life Ariana Brenneman loved vanished virtually overnight with the discovery that she was switched at birth twenty years ago. Now she’s immersed in the Englischer world, getting to know her mother and under the authority of her biological father, an atheist intellectual with resolute plans to expand Ariana’s worldview. Only Quill Schlabach, a childhood friend living Englisch, can steady the tilting ground between Ariana’s two worlds, but can she trust him after so many betrayals?

At the same time, Skylar Nash is forced to choose rehab or spend several months with her true relatives, the large Brenneman family and their seemingly backward life—no electricity, no technology, no fun. What the young woman can’t leave behind is her addiction to illegal prescription drugs and a deep emptiness from the belief that she doesn’t belong in either family.

New ties are binding Ariana and Skylar to the lives they were meant to have. Can they find the wisdom and strength they’ll need to follow God’s threads into unexpected futures?
 
Fraying at the Edge is the second novel in The Amish of Summer Grove series.

My review:

I loved this fascinating book!  Talk about a culture shock for both girls!  Ariana goes from a loving, very conservative family and community to angry parents who want to throw her in the deep end of Englisch life.  I really felt for Ariana and her confusion and angst about dealing with everything.  I loved how she had to work through the legalism and understand why is she doing the things she's doing.  Why does she obey the Ordnung?  Did God really command them to do or wear certain things or not do or wear them.  Are we questioning what we're told by our pastors and others in authority and measuring it against the Bible, not just taking their word for what God said or meant.  I could relate to her struggle with being judgmental.  Sometimes it's hard to see people do certain things that are wrong morally or even just seem stupid to you and not judge them.  However, only God has the right to judge.  I used to see things as more black and white, just like Ariana, but as I've gotten older I see the gray more and more.  There was also a situation she got herself into because she was too naive and Quill had some great advice about not being too nice to someone who was trying to use you so that you aren't using your good sense or being wise.  I really enjoyed Cameron, her step-sister; she was pretty funny and brutally honest.  Skylar was a bit hard to take as she was struggling with her addiction and wasn't particularly pleasant to be around.  I also felt sorry for her, however, to go from a pretty easy life to one of such physical labor and none of the entertainment she was used to.  I liked getting the different viewpoints of Quill, Ariana and Skylar.  I liked seeing Ariana grow both as a person and in her spiritual life and also see how her relationships with her family and Quill evolved.  You definitely have to read the first book in the series before this one, though there is a handy summary of the first book at the beginning of this one.  There's also a glossary and a list of main characters.  I highly recommend this book if you like Amish stories or just a unique tale of two girls trying to find where they belong.

I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for an honest review.

Book three just released yesterday!


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Gathering the Threads - The Amish of Summer Grove 3 - by Cindy Woodsmall

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About the book:

Finally back in the Old Order Amish world she loves,
Will Ariana’s new perspectives draw her family closer together—
or completely rip them apart?

After months away in the Englisch world, Ariana Brenneman is overjoyed to be in the Old Order Amish home where she was raised. Yet her excitement is mixed with an unexpected apprehension as she reconciles all she’s learned from her biological parents with the uncompromising teachings of her Plain community. Although her childhood friend, ex-Amish Quill Schlabach, hopes to help her navigate her new role amongst her people, Ariana’s Daed doesn’t understand why his sweet daughter is suddenly questioning his authority. What will happen if she sows seeds of unrest and rebellion in the entire family? 

Meanwhile, Skylar Nash has finally found her place among the large Brenneman family, but Ariana’s arrival threatens to unravel Skylar’s new identity—and her sobriety. Both Ariana and Skylar must discover the true cords that bind a family and community together and grasp tight the One who holds their authentic identities close to His heart.


Gathering the Threads is the third and final novel in The Amish of Summer Grove series.

My review:

I loved this well-written, fascinating story.  You definitely have to read the first two books before this one as the characters and situations are continued from them.  I loved Ariana and Quill and I liked Skylar, too, and it was fascinating to see how all three dealt with impossible situations.  I couldn't imagine how hard it would be to go from the Englisch world to the Amish one and how confused Ariana felt as she started to question what she'd been taught, especially about submitting to church authority when it felt like it didn't match with submitting to God's authority.  She started to think for herself instead of just blindly obeying what her parents and bishop said.  In a way, I think we all have to deal with that as we grow up and start to think for ourselves.  We have to decide if we're going to follow God ourselves and think for ourselves and not just follow along.  There were some wonderful discussions about this and other aspects of the Amish faith and faith in general.  I was glad to see loose ends tied up but also sad to see the series end.  I was excited to find out the whole truth about Frieda and why Quill had to help her leave the Amish.  Skylar started out a brat but had a wonderful transformation and there was some romance involving multiple couples.  There was a suspenseful situation Ariana and Quill were involved in that was pretty exciting.  I was very happy about the ending!  I have never been disappointed in one of Cindy's books.  They all have such interesting plots and are well-written.  I highly recommend this series and can't wait for her next book!

I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Wonderful! My Review of 'The Captivating Lady Charlotte' - Regency Brides: A Legacy of Grace 2 - by Carolyn Miller

The Captivating Lady Charlotte

About the book:

Her heart is her own--but her hand in marriage is another matter.

Lady Charlotte Featherington is destined for great things on the marriage market. After all, as the beautiful daughter of a marquess, she should have her pick of the eligible nobility when she debuts. She, however, has love at the top of her list of marriageable attributes. And her romantic heart falls hard for one particularly dashing, attentive suitor. Sadly for Charlotte, her noble father intends her betrothed to be someone far more dull.
William Hartwell may be a duke, but he knows he was Charlotte's father's pick, not the young lady's own choice. And the captivating Lady Charlotte does not strike him as a woman who will be wooed by his wealth or title. While she has captured his heart, he has no idea how to win hers in return--and the betrayal and scandal his first wife put him through makes it difficult for him to believe that love can ever be trusted. His only hope is that Charlotte's sense of responsibility will win out over her romantic notions.
Can a widowed duke and a romantically inclined lady negotiate a future and discover love beyond duty? Will they be able to find healing and hope from the legacy of grace? Poignant and charming, this is another beautifully written, clean, and wholesome Regency romance from Carolyn Miller.

My review:

Carolyn Miller has done it again!  This was another wonderful, well-written story in the Regency Brides series, set during one of my favorite time periods with characters that leap off the page!  I really felt for Charlotte during this whole book.  Her mother was incredibly annoying, always criticizing and pushing her to be better, do better.  She also says rude things to everyone, all the time.  Not only that, but Charlotte is dealing with trying to discern which man is the right one for her.  There's rumors flying around about William and she's not sure what to believe.  For Williams' part, he really struggles to trust after being betrayed by his deceased wife multiple times.  I was a little frustrated with her later in the story, that she didn't just ask him and get everything out in the open.  You can't enter a marriage with secrets and huge doubts and expect it to be healthy.  The romance was wonderful;  I loved getting his and her viewpoints.  I also liked that throughout the story Charlotte learns more about what love truly is, that it's not just a feeling like a giddy rush, but the qualities that make up real love, such as patience, perseverance and weathering the storms of life together.

It was fun to see Charlotte's perception of William change as the story went on, both of his physical appearance and his personality, as she got to know who he really was.  There was almost a gothic feel to the book as William's house used to be an abbey for monks and bad and mysterious incidents kept happening.  I loved the spiritual message in the book, that God is working all things for the good of those who love Him, even the hard and heartbreaking things.  It's a good reminder to trust.  That was also the main theme in this story, learning to trust God and each other.  The book worked great a as a stand-alone; however there were some characters from the first book who appeared here and there's some back story that's helpful to know.  I've absolutely loved both books in the series and I hope there's many more to come!  I highly recommend this book!

I received this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for an honest review.



Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Eye-Opening! 'Praying with Eyes Wide Open' - by Sherry & Kevin G. Harney

Cover Art

About the book:

Often we view prayer as an activity reserved for a certain time, in a certain place, offered in a specific way. But Scripture encourages us to pray continually. This exhortation is an opportunity for prayer to permeate every aspect of our lives--when we're alone or in a crowd, when it's quiet and when it's chaotic, when we feel like it and when we don't.

Praying with Eyes Wide Open shows us how to make continuous prayer a natural part of our lives rather than something on our daily spiritual checklist. It helps us encounter God in new ways as we learn to

- open our eyes to see his presence and the world around us
- open our ears to hear his voice
- open our hearts to experience freedom and power as we pray
- and open our lives as we pray for and with others

Do you want a richer, more transformative prayer life? This fresh take on conversing with your Creator is just what you need.

My review:

This was an interesting book that opened my eyes to new ways of talking to God and the positive effects this will have.  She talked about praying with your eyes open, but also many more topics related to prayer.  I never thought much about praying with my eyes open before, except to feel guilty if I started looking around during prayer time at church.  I did pray sometimes as I drove or during other times where it was better or safer to have my eyes open, but I never really thought about the benefits.  The author points out that praying continually, sometimes with eyes open, allows us to develop a deeper relationship with God because we can spend more time with Him.  It's also incredibly important to view God as He truly is, someone who's incredibly loving, forgiving and patient with us.  If we see Him that way, we'll want to spend time with Him.  If we view Him as an angry or aloof God, we either won't want to pray or we'll pray out of duty.

She described different ways God speaks, such as through the Bible, other people, circumstances, etc.  If you want to hear from God, she suggested some steps to take, such as removing distractions and asking God to speak.  She described some hindrances to hearing His voice, such as being too busy or never learning to recognize God's voice.   She also talked about different kinds of prayers.  I really liked a story she heard from Brennan Manning about a priest visiting his uncle in Ireland who looked into the morning light for 20 minutes, then began to skip along the shore of the lake with a big grin on his face.  When his nephew asked him why he looked so happy, he said that his "Abba is very fond of me."  Sherry said for years she missed the fact that God liked her and was fond of her, even though she knew He loved her.  I think that's something I didn't really get for a long time either, until I read the Shack and then was reminded here.  This book had a lot of great information and I highly recommend it for anyone interested in prayer.

I received this book free from Baker Books in exchange for a honest review.

 The Authors

  1. Sherry Harney

    Sherry Harney

    Sherry Harney is an author and a speaker who serves as the leadership development director at Shoreline Community Church in Monterey, California. She is also the cofounder of Organic Outreach International. For over two decades Sherry has spoken for local,...
    Continue reading about Sherry Harney
  2. Kevin G. Harney

    Kevin G. Harney

    Kevin G. Harney (MDiv, Fuller Seminary; DMin, Western Theological Seminary) led Corinth Reformed Church in Byron Center, Michigan, through a U-Turn experience from 1993-2006. He is currently senior pastor of Shoreline Community Church in Monterey, California. Harney...
    Continue reading about Kevin G. Harney 

Monday, July 31, 2017

My Review of Jeanne M. Dickson's 'Grounded Hearts,' Giveaway and Blog Tour

About the book:
A brave midwife. A wounded pilot. A risky secret.

In the midst of World War II, Ireland has declared herself neutral. Troops found on Irish soil must be reported and interned, no matter which side they are fighting for. When midwife Nan O'Neil finds a wounded young Canadian pilot at her door, she knows she's taking a huge risk by letting him in. Not only is she a widow living alone, but if caught harboring a combatant, she'll face imprisonment.

Still, something compels Nan to take in "flyboy" Dutch Whitney, an RAF pilot whose bomber has just crashed over County Clare. While she tends to his wounds and gives him a secret place of refuge, the two begin to form a mutual affection-and an unbreakable bond.
But Nan has another secret, one that has racked her with guilt since her husband's death and made her question ever loving again. As Nan and Dutch plan his escape, can he help restore her faith?

My review:

I enjoyed this action-packed story with wonderful characters!  I really felt for Nan and the guilt she carried.  She was dealt some hard things in her still young life.  I admired her bravery and determination to do the right thing.  It was interesting to see the differences in her Catholic faith from a Protestant one, as she prayed for dead men and worried about burning in hell for sins she committed, even after she had asked for forgiveness.  It saddened and bothered me that she still felt she had to do the penance the priest told her to do, as if that could fix her sins, when she'd already asked for God's forgiveness and it was taken care of.  He'd removed it as far as the east was from the west.  There was also a good conversation about the Devil condemning us and robbing us of peace and that we need to pray every time we have those thoughts and also ask for Jesus' forgiveness because he died to set us free and doesn't want us to live under condemnation anymore.  I liked Dutch a lot and he seemed almost too perfect, except he did swear when he was frustrated.  Dickson didn't put the actual swear words in the book, just mentioned he cursed.  I think the only somewhat questionable word used was calling a man an "arse."  I was also surprised  at all of the sexual innuendo.  It doesn't get graphic or anything, but it just seemed like a lot of men and women were making sexual comments and that the men were always leering at Nan.  There's also a scene where she has to fight off an attacker, so I would say this book probably isn't appropriate for younger teens.  I really liked some advice Dutch gave Nan, about being careful not to lead a man on.  Though it's no excuse for a man attacking a woman, I think sometimes women don't behave correctly, either.  I did like the dialogue, otherwise, as it was usually humorous.  There were a lot of romantic moments, as Nan and Dutch were very attracted to each other and would be drawn to each other but kept resisting it.  I also liked the strong sense of culture and history.  I really felt like I was in Ireland in 1941! I enjoyed the themes of forgiveness, letting go of regret and risking ourselves for love.  I would recommend this book if you like historical romance.

I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.



About the author:

Jeanne M. Dickson was born into an Irish American family, the only girl surrounded by four brothers. She credits her mother, her aunts, and her grandmother with her love of storytelling. Perfecting her craft, she attends many writer's conferences and over the years, she has won and finaled in numerous RWA romance writing awards including the Daphne du Maurier Award, the Maggie Award, The Molly, The Tara, and she was the overall contest winner of Launching A Star. Today she lives in Coastal San Diego with her fabulous husband, her two wonderful girls, and a dozen disobedient rose bushes.
Find out more about Jeanne M. at http://www.jeannemdickson.com.
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What do you get when you mix World War II, a brave midwife, a wounded pilot, and a risky secret? Jeanne M. Dickson's new historical fiction novel, Grounded Hearts. When midwife Nan O'Neil finds a wounded young Canadian pilot at her door, she knows she's taking a huge risk by letting him in. Still, something compels Nan to take in "flyboy" Dutch Whitney, an RAF pilot whose bomber has just crashed over County Clare. While she tends to his wounds and gives him a secret place of refuge, the two begin to form a mutual affection-and an unbreakable bond.

Join Jeanne in celebrating the release of her new book by entering to win the Celtic Knots Giveaway!


One grand prize winner will receive:

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on July 31. The winner will be announced August 1 on the Litfuse blog.




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