Monday, September 25, 2017

Wonderful! Freedom's Ring - by Heidi Chiavaroli

I absolutely loved this book!  Moving from 2015 Boston to 1770 Boston and back again, this story kept me spellbound as we trace the path of a ring handed down through the generations.  In 2015 Boston, Annie David is still trying to recover from the Boston Marathon bombing two years before, more emotionally than physically.  Her niece became crippled while waiting at the finish line for her and she's never forgiven herself.  The man who helped her left a family heirloom in her possession and promised to find her again but she hasn't heard from him since.  When she discovers a business card with the same emblem, she can finally meet her rescuer and get some answers about the ring that has comforted her for two years.  In 1770 Boston, Liberty Caldwell is alone and accepts employment in the home of two British officers.  She continues to look for her brother's ship so she can reunite with him but soon after they meet again, he is killed in the Boston Massacre by a British soldier.  No longer able to work for the British, she starts to pack her things when she is attacked by the captain while Lieutenant Alexander Smythe tries and fails to rescue her.  As revenge she steals from them both, including a ring belonging to the lieutenant, a man she once cared for but now can't stand because of the uniform he wears.

I love books that deal with genealogy and multiple time periods and this did both very well.  The writing was excellent and the characters felt very real, with struggles and hopes and disappointments.  Both Liberty and Annie go through a very traumatic experience and Brad, Anne's rescuer, also served in the military overseas, so they all had wounds they struggled with, some physical and some emotional.  There were some nice romantic moments and I really enjoyed the spiritual message.  Both women had to learn who to truly depend on; humans will always let us down because they aren't perfect.  Only God is truly able to save and is strong when we are weak.  There were some great conversations and I liked that Annie wasn't a Christian and was very new to all of this God talk.  It gave a unique perspective to her situation you don't often see in Christian fiction.  It was fascinating learning more about the beginning of our country.  I think the most enjoyable part for me was discovering along with Annie and Brad the answers they were looking for.  It really makes me want to start digging into my own family history!  There was also a twist I didn't see coming, which was a nice surprise!  This is definitely an author to watch.  I highly recommend this wonderful story!

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

Q & A with Heidi Chiavaroli

Introductory video

State House video

First Chapter

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
Singer 1

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

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

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.