Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Missing Isaac

     BOOK REVIEW:   When Pete McLean loses his father in the summer of 1962, his friend Isaac is one of the few people he can lean on. Though their worlds are as different as black and white, friendship knows no color. So when Isaac suddenly goes missing, Pete is determined to find out what happened----no matter what it costs him. His quest will lead him into parts of town that he knows only through rumors and introduce him to a girl who will change his life. What they discover together will change the small Southern town of Glory, Alabama----forever.
     With vivid descriptions, palpable atmosphere, and unforgettable characters, debut novelist Valerie Fraser Luesse breathes life into the rural South of the 1960's----a place where ordinary people struggle to find their footing in a social landscape that is shifting beneath their feet.

     MY REVIEW:   This book----where to begin? For starters, it is a novel. A romance novel, even. A contradiction really, because it is a good romance novel, and that's next to impossible to find. I don't like the term romance novel because it embarrasses me to admit I read them, but I do. Maybe if I say romance novel often enough I'll get over it...... Bother.
     But still, there is something about this book..... I can't quite put my finger on it, but I'll try my best. It has Southern charm. It is warm and inviting. And it has life. And morals. And characters you'd wish to see in real life. And though I can't exactly tell you why, it will find a home near my Francine Rivers and Cathy Gohlke books on that coveted "you simply MUST read this book" shelf.
     Isaac wasn't in the story long, but he affected the whole book. His disappearance brought Pete to Dovey's neighborhood. The mystery of it is kept alive til the end, and is the force behind Pete's never-quite-settled soul. The characters remaining are some blacks, some backwoods country folk, some well-to-do, kindly cotton farmers. The whole atmosphere of the book is one of unity amongst a divided people, peace in troubled days, and love despite fear. It bothers me that I can't describe what I liked about it! Maybe part of it is while it's a romance, it is the meeting and growing together of two authentic, sensible people in comparison to the often irritating, clinging-to-the-unimportant-always-running-on-feelings characters we usually read about. These are characters I wish we would see more of.
     And now I have to stop or I'll completely run it up in my mind and be disappointed next time I read it, not to mention give a false review of what it's actually like. Dear me....

     I received a copy of this book from REVELL. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own. 

   

   

   

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Until We Find Home

     BOOK REVIEW:   For American Claire Stewart, joining the French Resistance sounded as romantic as the storylines she hopes will one day grace the novels she wants to write. But when she finds herself stranded on English shores with five French Jewish children she smuggled across the channel before Nazis stormed Paris, reality feels more akin to fear.
     With nowhere to go, Claire throws herself on the mercy of an estranged aunt, begging Lady Miranda Langford to take the children into her magnificent estate. Heavily weighted with grief of her own, Miranda reluctantly agrees. . . .if Claire will stay to help. Though desperate to return to France and the man she loves, Claire has few options. But her tumultuous upbringing---spent in the refuge of novels with fictional friends---has ill prepared her for the daily dramas of raising children, or for the way David Campbell, a fellow American boarder, challenges her notions of love. Nor could she foresee how the threat of war will invade their quiet haven, threatening all who have come to call Bluebell Wood home, the people who have become her family.
     Set in England's lush and storied Lake District in the early days of World War II, and featuring cameos from beloved literary icons Beatrix Potter and C. S. Lewis, Until We Find Home is an unforgettable portrait of life on the British home front, challenging us to remember that bravery and family come in many forms.

     MY REVIEW:   Cathy Gohlke is a favorite author of mine. She hasn't written many books, only about 6 or 7, but the three that I read---Promise Me This, Band of Sisters and Secrets She Kept---I absolutely loved. Her books have a rarely-found depth and meaning with a drawing story and amazing characters and plot. She is one of those authors whose name alone will make me grab her books without reading the back.
     But this book was really disappointing. It was really boring, until the last few chapters, and not really worth reading again. Her main character, Claire, was a selfish, shallow, pouting girl who couldn't function because life wasn't handing her the roses she thought she deserved. Her male character was good, being the logical head in the household, but not enough to combat Claire's character. Lady Miranda wasn't as bad, but not really good either. Unlike Cathy's other books, this one is a shallow romance, an uninteresting one at that.
     I did however, like the children's characters, though they were dampened by the others. Jews and Germans and Frenchmen were not liked among the English. These five children were French Jews, and not only that, but Miranda then took in 6ish German Jews. Needless to say, the children had to learn they were not enemies. I especially like Gaston, the eight or ten year old French lad. I will say, Cathy did a really good job incorporating their native language in a way we can understand. Mainly exclamations, please and thank you, yes and no. And I love the French language, and always enjoy reading it in a book. But Gaston's character was exceptionally well-done. Nearly as good is Josef, the German lad who is Gaston's age. There was one lass who didn't seem to be mentioned in the story. She was named in the end and I hadn't remembered about her.
     I could see there was a goal aimed for in this book, which, if accheived, would have been amazing. But I found it fell short.

   I received a copy of this book from TYNDALE PUBLISHERS. All opinions are my own. 

Monday, December 18, 2017

Be the Hands and Feet

     BOOK REVIEW:   Do you want to be a messenger of God, spreading the greatest news ever told---but you don't know where to start? Or maybe you are eager to share your faith with others, but you can't get past feeling a little awkward, or you fear being seen as pushy or uncool? Regardless of what might be holding you back, Nick Vujicic has written this inspirational and compelling book for you.
     As one of the world's foremost evangelists, who has overcome severe physical disabilities, Nick understands the hesitant feelings and has learned how to share Christ in ways that you will find comfortable and fulfilling. 
     Detailing never-before-told stories about his life's journey, including spiritual challenges and near-death experiences, Nick provides examples of ways he has shared his faith with others---from family members to strangers to presidents and prime ministers. In this engaging and motivating book, he offers innovative ways in which you can help others walk in faith, too.

     MY REVIEW:   This book is different from Nick's other books in that it focuses on his ministry and our own, instead of telling his own story. There is some telling of his life in this book, to be sure, but to a different end. In the last chapter he writes "My wish for you now as you complete the reading of this book is that you feel stronger as a Christian, and that you will be inspired to draw upon your faith when faced with challenges in life. I also hope you are encouraged to share your faith with those who've yet to join your walk with the Lord Jesus Christ. In these pages, you've read many examples of ways you can do that, I hope some of them have inspired you to find your own so that you too can one day walk into the gates of Heaven surrounded by those you've recruited to join you in a joyful everlasting life." 
     I am at a bit of a loss what to write further. I really like this book. It was encouraging and practical. Nick has no "you should tell people about Jesus, but you know, I understand if you don't feel like it, you can just smile at them too, that works" message. We have GOOD NEWS to tell, and we have to tell it, regardless whether it makes us uncomfortable or conspicuous. Yet, as much as I enjoyed it, I don't quite know what to draw your attention to. All of it I guess. There you go----read this book people. Then you'll know what I read. :)
     One thing Nick emphasized was outreaches. Help a group of people who can't get help otherwhere's and be their light. It's a great opportunity to help them and minister to them. And support outreaches. Group together and reach people. Preaching here, but what better can we do with the time we've been given than to share our joy with others? As in the above quote, "walk into the gates of Heaven surrounded by those you've recruited to join you in a joyful everlasting life". How more profitable can you get?
     To find more books and information on Nick and his ministries, visit nickvujicic.com.

   I received a copy of this book from BLOGGING FOR BOOKS. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own. 

The Ladies of Ivy Cottage

     BOOK REVIEW:   A gentlewoman in reduced circumstances, Miss Rachel Ashford lives as a guest in Ivy Cottage. With her meager funds rapidly depleting, she is determined to earn her own livelihood . . . somehow. Her friend Jane Bell and the other village women encourage her to open a circulating library with the many books she's inherited from her father. As villagers donate additional books and Rachel begins sorting through the volumes, she discovers mysteries hidden among them. A man who once more broke her heart helps her search for clues, but both find more than they bargained for.
     Rachel's hostess, Mercy Grove, has given up thoughts of suitors and finds fulfillment in managing her girls school. So when several men take an interest in Ivy Cottage, she assumes pretty Miss Ashford is the cause. Exactly what---or whom--- has captured each man's attention? The truth may surprise them all.

     MY REVIEW:   This book is the second in Julie Klassen's Tales from Ivy Hill series, the first being The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill. I must say, I expected this book to close a few doors from the other one, but not so. Rather, a whole new story is opened up, only eventually closing a door or two toward the end. And leaving ever so many more open. Now we shall have to wait for the next book and hope it finishes everything off.
     The society of the portrayed time did not allow for women to be ought but lovely eligible fawns, sitting primly in their parlors and socializing with only just the right people. So when Rachel Ashford's family loses their fortune and she is forced to provide for herself she is swept from top tier to bottom rung of society. And of course in this book she is pursued by two very eligible men, but disdained by each of their mothers, which just breaks her poor heart and she has a time trying to decide which man makes her heart pitter patter fastest---the one she has loved forever or the one who has proposed and lives in her childhood home.
     Mercy Grove has troubles of her own. Her parents have decided to deed her house to her brother if Mercy does not agree to marry their suitor. Either way she will lose her precious school and the young lass who's to become her charge. What to choose, dreams or means? Either way she loses.
     As far as historical fiction novels go, this is a nice fireplace story. I liked it better than the first book simply because I didn't have as many expectations, though I still like others of Julie's books better. I did like the idea of the circulating library. Basically what we have today but with a membership fee. And Mercy's school for girls is such a lovely idea, as girls weren't typically schooled in those days. These girls also tended to be lower class, with few opportunities.
     On a different note, if you are familiar with Pride and Prejudice, you will recognize several references to it (my favorite coming from Lady Catherine DeBourgh's rant to Lizzy), which, if you are a fan of that book, is rather neat.
     More books by Julie can be found at julieklassen.com. To find more about Ivy Hill, visit talesfromivyhill.com.

I received a copy of this book from BETHANY HOUSE PUBLISHERS. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own. 
   

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

So Great A Love

     Children's books are tricky. There are some really good ones out there (Berenstain Bears; Golden Books; Winnie the Pooh; Curious George). Then we have, not so good ones. Not to mention there are many varying classes of "good" and many varying classes of "bad". And when reviewing a children's book, you are not only rating the book itself, but also putting it up against your favorites and worst.

     So, this book. 

     I like it. It is hand drawn, which is really neat. Kristie Wilde has a degree in Forestry and is a very talented artist (she was commissioned to "illustrate interpretive signage...along the Highway 108 corridor through the Sierra Nevada mountains"!!), both of which serve her well with this book's illustrations. I'll give an example:

This is a spread, minus the words.


     This is definitely a child's book. The words are very simple ("He wants to gather you as a hen gathers her chicks.") but very true. There are ten spreads, each a different expression of His Love. At the end there is a bible verse for each picture.
     This book is the second book in Kristie's "Joyful Creation" series. The first one is "Made for a Purpose", reviewed here.
     More can be found of Kristie Wilde at wilde-art.com and wildeartpress.com.

    I received a copy of this book from BOOKCRASH. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Monday, December 4, 2017

The Unexplainable Church


     BOOK REVIEW:   God wants to astonish the world with His Grace. And when we study the book of Acts, we see that He does it by transforming ordinary people to do extraordinary things in Jesus' name. Are you ready to be used by Him? 
     The Unexplainable Church is an in-depth study of the power of grace to change lives, starting with our own and moving out to those we influence. It features:
  • a verse-by-verse study of Acts 13-28 (50 lessons over 10 weeks)
  • Many biblical, theological, and historical insights
  • Text-based discussion questions that truly provoke thought
     Erica is a masterful Bible teacher with infectious passion. Through strategic observation questions she guides you deep into the text and challenges you to apply it honestly. 
     Do this study and you'll learn a life-changing lesson about how the kingdom grows. It's not about gifted people, but about God transforming average people and gathering them into a mighty force. It's all grace, and it's an invitation to each of us. The question is, Will you except it?

     MY REVIEW:   This book is the second in a series. The first is An Unexplainable Life, which I am currently going through. 
     I haven't finished the first book, therefore I haven't even started this one, but it looks like the first one, taking up where it left off at Acts 13. If anything, the lessons look a little shorter, but they're still 3-5 pages long. The cosmetics of the book are the same--watercolor cover and chapter headings. The questions are written in blue font with plenty of space to answer the questions. 
     One thing I especially like about these books is that they plunge straight through Acts, every verse. If nothing else, it's a good way to read through Acts. It's different than just reading through the book, because you're stopping every several verses or so to study what you read and what it means and why it's there. 
    Another thing I like is the accounts Erica includes of her own experiences, etc. They really lend common ground to the books.
     Erica Wiggenhorn is a women's author and speaker. As I understand, these are her only two solo books, but you can find more about her at ericawiggenhorn.com.

    I received a copy of this book from MOODY PUBLISHERS. All thoughts and intents are my own. 
    

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Copycat Lofthouse Sugar Cookies

Monday evening I found this recipe, Copycat Lofthouse Sugar Cookies and decided spontaneously to make them.

         I would insert a picture, but the internet and I apparently aren't speaking.....


 I didn't know what lofthouse cookies were, but these looked good so I made them anyway. They are much easier and faster than a normal sugar cookie. There is no refrigerating or rolling and cutting. They are closer to making peanut butter cookies, actually.

I am a bit of an icing snob. There are a few classic kinds we use, and cream cheese icing on sugar cookies isn't anywhere close. Most times when I decide to use the called-for recipe I wish I had just used my own. This time, however, was not one of them. The cream cheese icing is pretty good. Surprise surprise.

Now, while these are really good and easy to make, they are different from classic sugar cookies, so bear in mind. :)

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Rogue Heroes

     BOOK REVIEW:   Britain's Special Air Service --- or SAS --- was the brainchild of David Stirling, a young aristocrat whose aimlessness belied a remarkable strategic mind. Where most of his colleagues looked at a World War II battlefield map and saw a protracted struggle, Stirling saw an opportunity: given a small number of elite men, he could parachute behind Nazi lines and sabotage their airplanes and supplies. Defying his superiours' conventional wisdom, Stirling assembled a revolutionary fighting force that would upend not just the balance of the war, but the nature of combat itself. Bringing his keen eye for detail to a riveting wartime narrative, Ben Macintyre uses his unprecedented access to the SAS archives to shine a light on a legendary unit long shrouded in secrecy.

     MY REVIEW:   History books of this sort don't tend to interest me. But this one did. It is quite interestingly told, and the subject is an interesting one as well. I enjoyed reading about this aspect of WWII. I had never grasped just how widespread the fighting was, or the cruelty of the Nazi's.
     Off to a less-than-comforting start, the small band of men arrived at their desert headquarters to find it very sparsely furnished. A few hours and enemies later, they were much more comfortably housed. Armed with sufficient character and brilliance to pull off their mission, they merely lacked the important detail of just how to proceed. Impromptu training techniques taught by unskilled teachers included jumping off the back of moving trucks or rickety platforms, and rigorous, prolonged, nearly brutal training in desert survival. Their objective? To parachute undetected into enemy camps via the scarcely guarded desert front to wreck havoc. When finally they had completed their training and proceeded with their first attack, a violent desert storm took their success and several casualties. Eventually, it was concluded that the LRDG (desert patrol of sorts) who so effective got the men out after their sabotaging could be equally effective in driving them in, thus diminishing the use of parachutes.
   The beginning of this book was very interesting, but once the desert war ended and the small band (which grew to 100) was moved about in Italy, France, and otherwhere's, it was slightly less interesting. They divided into several different bands and their style of attack was changed to suit the enemies' awareness of them. However, as I have found with others, if I were to read the book a second time, it proves doubly informative. Especially if read within a closer time frame.
      Ben Macintyre is a "writer-at-large" for The Times in London, and others of his books include A Spy Among Friends, Operation Mincemeat, and Agent ZigZag. Benmacintyre.com will provide you with additional books and information.

    I received a copy of this book from BLOGGING FOR BOOKS per their blogger program. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Giveaway Results

And the winner is......

Dorothy!

Let me know you saw this by commenting. 

And thank you all for participating!


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Fragrant Whiffs of Joy ...AND... Giveaway



This is Dorcas Smucker's brand new book! For those of you who don't know who she is, she is a Mennonite minister's wife who lives in Oregon with her husband and six adult children. Every month she writes a column for a newspaper, and after sufficient time, combines them into a book. She has such a down-to-earth style of writing. Her stories are so interesting, yet believable, and best of all---real. Not typical nonfiction where the point of the book is to expound on some great topic, but simply the story of her life and that of her family. She does a terrific job!

This is Dorcas' sixth book. Her other titles are: 
Ordinary Days,
 Upstairs the Peasants are Revolting, 
Downstairs the Queen is Knitting, 
Tea and Trouble Brewing, and 
Footprints on the Ceiling
(Her first three books are recently only available as a set, titled Sunlight Through Dusty Windows.)

I think I liked this book best of all, but I've been following her blog for a couple months now and know who she is a little better and I think that's what did it. I'm always amazed at how a person's life can be so interesting! But Dorcas says in this book, "Interesting things happen to those who tell it." So there you go---maybe I should write a book. 😋 

My favorite chapter in this book is where Dorcas "hacks" the printer. Determined that the black ink shall indeed print, she goes about defeating the stubborn machine. Bravo!

And if you will read the other blogs in this chain of reviews, you will find that there is a favorite chapter amoungst ALL the reviews: "The Minister's Wife".  Other favorites are chapters relating to SAD, 100-year-old fathers, and the all-encompassing theme of JOY. 

You can buy this book for $15 from Amazon by following this link: Fragrant Whiffs of Joy via Amazon
There is also a Kindle version floating around for $4.  
Or you can contact Dorcas herself. From her they are $12 plus $2 shipping. Her address is: 
31148 Substation Drive, 
Harrisburg, OR 97446.
Or you can email her at dorcassmucker@gmail.com. She accepts both check and paypal as forms of payment. 

There are several ladies reviewing this book now, and you can find their sites at Dorcas' blog, dorcassmucker.blogspot.com.  

And now for the fun part, the reason you read through the entire post, 😉
--THE GIVEAWAY--

Simply comment on this post (whatever you feel like-- have you read her books, do you have her books, have you been dying to have her books, do you have a cat)

And I shall enter all your names on slips of paper and draw from a hat (or cup or basket) on Wednesday, so you have until then to enter. I shall then post who has won and that person can comment with their address, etc. 

And did I mention that these books are autographed by Dorcas herself??? Because they are!!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

By Way of Announcement.....

Just to let all you in cyber world know, Dorcas Smucker has a new book out, and has several ladies blogging about it this month. On Saturday, at 8:00am ( if it posts properly) I will be posting my own review of this book, Fragrant Whiffs of Joy, and offering a giveaway. So be sure to come around and enter! You have from Saturday til Wednesday to get your name in. 

To see who else is hosting a giveaway, go to Dorcas' blog: dorcassmucker.blogspot.com

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

An Unexplainable Life

     BOOK REVIEW:   Can you explain your life apart from God? Most of us live a shadow of the life we're called to. Perhaps more than any other book in the Bible, Acts shows us what life can be when lived in the power of God.
      An Unexplainable Life is an in-depth study meant to reignite a movement of the Holy Spirit in us individually and in our churches collectively.

  • Verse-by-verse study of Acts 1-12, spread over ten weeks (5 lessons/week)
  • Full of biblical, theological, and historical insights
  • Text-based discussion questions that truly provoke thought
     Erika's love for God, His Word, and His church shines on every page. She masterfully guides us deep into the text, challenge us with Scripture as she shares how it is challenging her. 
     Engage honestly with this study, and you will be changed. Go through it with a small group, and you will come away as a powerful force. Complete it as a church, and who knows what the Lord will do? 

     MY REVIEW:   As mentioned above, this book is a devotional, written by Erica Wiggenhorn. It is based on the book of Acts, the first 12 chapters, and is divided into 10 weeks, each with a different focus. 
     To begin the day, there are a few verses of Acts to read (each lesson picks up where the last left off), and the script is based on that. Placed between Erica's thoughts are questions to answer, written in lovely blue ink so as to stand out. 
     This devotional seems to be geared toward women, but could go either way. I've done the first week, and I think I like it. I haven't gone through a lot of devotionals (especially ones like this that are more than just a page to read instead of having to read your Bible) so I don't have much to base my opinion on. I can't say I just love it, but I do like it. The lessons are longer, and take 15-20min to do, but that can change depending on how fast you go through it. As I understand it, there is a second book on the rest of Acts. 
     As to the cosmetics of the book itself, the cover has a watercolor look and feel. It is softcover, but a bit wider than your average book. The spine seems to be slightly reinforced to accommodate the constant opening-wider-to-write-in, and the headers of each lesson are also printed in watercolor, but much richer blue and regular paper feel (which is a bit odd at times if you expect watercolor feel :) And the weight of the book lends an oddly satisfying feeling as you carry it about. :) 

I received a copy of this book from MOODY PUBLISHERS per their blogger program, and was only asked to write an honest review. 
     

Monday, October 23, 2017

Where We Belong

     BOOK REVIEW:   In the city of Chicago in 1892, the rules and expectations for Victorian women are strict, their roles in life limited. But sisters Rebecca and Flora Hawes are not typical Victorian ladies. Their love of adventures and their desire to use their God-given talents have taken them out of society ballrooms and delivered them to the Sinai Desert---and into the teeth of a sandstorm.
     Accompanied by Soren Peterson, their somber young butler, and Kate Rafferty, a plucky street urchin learning to be their lady's maid, the two women are on a quest across the desert, chasing rumors of an important biblical manuscript.
     As the expedition becomes ever more dangerous and uncertain, all four travelers sift through memories and adventures of their past, recalling the events that shaped them and the journeys and providence that brought them to this very time and place.

     MY REVIEW:  The caption of this book really caught my attention---two Victorian ladies traveling through the Sinai Desert to an isolated monastery in search of ancient Bible manuscripts. Not to mention they are traveling with no husbands, fathers, brothers, or even trusted friends; just their young and unconventional butler and lady's maid who can't even get along with each other. Yup, definitely a book that promises to be interesting.
     Lynn did a lovely job of switching between past and present, keeping it easy to follow yet not over-simplified. The flashbacks were more of the story than the actual present, but I really liked that she kept it chronological. She gives us the background of the two ladies, yet this allows her to jump between events without feeling like that's what she's doing. She covers a lot of years, only landing on the bigger events. It's also more interesting than just reading through their lives.
     I didn't really like Rebecca's character very well at first. She felt adventurous to a fault, being more interested in satisfying her craving for travel while Flora was the one who actually did something to help the poor people they met. But as the story progressed and Rebecca matured a little, she started to grow on me.
     I liked Flora's character though. She was more caring, and started many missions, including Sunday School classes for the poor, and an orphanage. She and Rebecca were quite wealthy, and gave substantially to the poor. (If you'll notice, however, being a story, they never ran out or low of money, and were always living in a lovely mansion. :) You gotta love story life.
     Lynn Austin has authored several books, some of which I liked and others I didn't. I've read her REFINER'S FIRE series (A Candle in the Darkness, Fire by Night, and A Light to my Path) and some of All She Ever Wanted. Other of her books are Waves of Mercy, On This Foundation which is Biblical Fiction, and While We're Apart. You can find the rest of her books either by Googling her or searching her website: http://lynnaustin.org/books/.

  I received a copy of this book from BETHANY HOUSE per their blogger program, and was only asked to write an honest review. 
   

The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey

     BOOK REVIEW:   Tainted by scandal and forced to leave London for the quiet of Brighton, the Honorable Miss Clara DeLancey is a shadow of her former society self. A chance encounter brings her a healing friendship with the sisters of an injured naval captain. But Clara's mama, the Viscountess Winpoole, is appalled at the new company she's keeping.
     Captain Benjamin Kemsley is not looking for a wife. But his gallant spirit won't let him ignore the penniless viscount's daughter---not when she so obviously needs to be rescued from the despair that threatens her from day to day. Can he protect his heart and still keep her safe?
     When they're pushed into the highest echelons of society at the Prince Regent's Brighton Pavilion, this mismatched couple must decide if family honor is more important than their hopes. Can they right the wrongs of the past and find future happiness together---without finances, family support, or royal favor?
     The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey is full of the captivating, flawed characters, fascinating historical details, and masterful writing that Carolyn Miller's fans have come to expect.

      MY REVIEW:   This book is the third and last in Carolyn's REGENCY BRIDES, A LEGACY OF GRACE series. The first two books are The Elusive Miss Ellison and The Captivating Lady Charlotte. I have read them both, but I didn't retain much of what was said. The characters from these previous books are mentioned and alluded to many times in this book (especially Miss Ellison), but it can be read alone. Though if you're like me, it will bother you not to know what it was that happened between Miss Ellison and Clara.
     The book starts off interesting, with Clara nearly falling off a cliff which introduces her to Mr. Kemsley, of course. But after the first few chapters, it got a little dull. The end, however, gets interesting again, with Clara's brother trying to exchange her for payment of his depts. But I won't say anymore about that...
     This wasn't a favorite book of mine. The first and second books I liked a little better, but this one just struck me as slow-moving story. I did, however, like the change shown in Clara's life, and the apologies and forgiveness offered by her.
     
   I received a copy of this book from KREGEL PUBLISHERS per their blogger program, and was only asked to write an honest review. 
   

Friday, October 13, 2017

Isaiah's Daughter

     BOOK REVIEW:   The Hebrews are a divided nation. Israel in the north--ten tribes strong--has bowed to pagan worship. In Judah's two tribes, an evil king mocks King David's legacy while a remnant of Yahweh's faithful cling desperately to their one true God.
     Caught in the middle of the warring is an orphaned girl named Ishma--meaning "desolation". Her short life already mirrors the name.

YET YAHWEH'S PLAN FOR HER HAS ONLY JUST BEGUN.
     
     Ishma enters the prophet Isaiah's home as a household servant, but her quick mind and lively spirit gain the friendship of Prince Hezekiah. When Isaiah sees their relationship mature, he adopts Ishma, giving her a royal pedigree and a new name. Ishma becomes Hephzibah--"delight of the Lord"--and the desolate captive becomes Judah's queen. 
     But loving Hezekiah will require more of Hephzibah than she ever imagined. From Ahab's terrifying reign to the Assyrian threat and Isaiah's own perplexing prophecies--Zibah remains trapped by fear, facing an uncertain future. Will palace life lead to freedom from her past? Or can she trust everything to the only One who gives life and delivers both a captive heart and a desperate nation?


     MY REVIEW:   This book is about Hephzibah, the wife of King Hezekiah (Judah's most righteous king) and the mother of Manasseh (Judah's wickedest king). In this book, she is portrayed as the adopted daughter of Isaiah who grew up as Hezekiah's fellow student.
     While Biblical Fiction can lead astray from true happenings by creative additions, they also make that particular story more "real" and understandable for us today. This book gave me a new appreciation of Isaiah's prophecies, especially when he had to prophecy of terrible things. And of Hezekiah's desire to serve Yahweh, while having been raised in the palace and groomed by Ahab. He thinks he is doing so well, but with the power and prestige given to kings, he is a little quick to consider his own plan over Yahweh's.
     This book covers the difficulties and struggles this couple shared, from misunderstanding the other's intentions, to many lost babies, to concern over Isaiah's prophecies of Assyria's destruction and the King that would arise from Judah. Was that king Hezekiah?? But of course, everything is clear in the end.
     I really enjoyed this book. More of Mesu Andrew's books are Miriam, The Lost Years of Mehy, and Pharoah's Daughter. Her website is mesuandrews.com, and the rest of her books can be found there.

  I received a copy of this book from BLOGGING FOR BOOKS per their blogger program, and was only asked to write an honest review. 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Life-Changing Miracles

     BOOK REVIEW:   God is near and wants to help, whatever you're going through. In Life-Changing Miracles, ordinary people share extraordinary stories of how their lives were turned upside down by a miraculous encounter. Watch God's display of power help people miraculously overcome disease, temptation, and unbelief, often leaving a mark for all eternity.
     Let this book encourage your belief that God still works on earth today. He wants to demonstrate His might, not only to help and heal you in time of your need, but to bring you closer to Him in a relationship that will last forever.

     MY REVIEW:   This is the second of James Stuart Bell's books that I have read, the first being Gifts from Heaven. I really enjoyed them both. I especially liked the cover of this book---it is beautiful! If I had to choose which book I liked better, I think I would choose Gifts from Heaven, but this one I enjoyed as well.
     Again, this is a compilation of stories, each about a personal miracle which that person has experienced. Not bigwigs or special people, but ordinary ones. Ranging from seeing Jesus Himself, to feeling Him near, these stories tell the realness of miracles today.
     How often do we REALLY believe that God is still working miracles? It's too easy for me to think that was all in Bible times, but just because we can't physically see Jesus now, doesn't mean we can't see His Hand at work. These stories are encouraging, as is the fact that somewhere out there, James is compiling them and sharing with us all.
     Others of James' books are Angels, Miracles, and Heavenly Encounters; Heaven Touching Earth; and Encountering Jesus. And of course, Gifts from Heaven.

  I received a copy of this book from BETHANY HOUSE PUBLISHERS per their blogger program, and was only asked to write an honest review.  
   

Monday, September 25, 2017

My Reader Rewards/Marta's Legacy Series

I have mentioned My Reader Rewards Club before, here, but I'm excited to share my newest books from them: Her Mother's Hope and Her Daughter's Dream, given together as MARTA'S LEGACY. 




Francine Rivers is a favorite author of mine, and for 180 points, I got two 500 word hardcover books, enclosed in a lovely cardboard case. It is beautiful, worth $35.99. 


I just finished reading the second book from my mom, like yesterday, and now I have my own set!!

For those of you who don't have a list of books they really want and can't share my ecstasy, imagine finding a big box of your favorite chocolates on your desk, plus flowers and really good coffee. That's how delighted I am.   :) 

So if you like Francine Rivers and also want this set (plus any other books being offered just now), pop in at https://myreaderrewardsclub.com/

Liar's Winter

     BOOK REVIEW:   From the moment Lochiel Ogle entered the world, her red-wine birthmark has put her life in jeopardy. Mountain folks call it "the mark of the Devil". And for all the evil that has plagued her nineteen years, Lochiel can't help but agree. If there's one thing she knows, it's that people only wish her harm.
     Beaten and left for dead by her brother, Lochiel is rescued by a stranger. At his hand, she experiences kindness and love instead of fear and hatred, and the lies behind her entire existence are exposed. But just as she begins to trust this saviour, she finds her life in danger again.
     Set in the wild and beautiful Appalachian Mountains of nineteenth-century East Tennessee, Liar's Winter is an unflinching yet inspirational exploration of prejudice, choice, and learning to trust God.
   
     MY REVIEW:    Let me start by explaining the title:  "Liar's winter---the time when the mountain fights with winter and spring not knowin whether to warm the ground or chill a body to the bone."
     This book is the story of Lochiel Ogles, a nineteen-year-old girl living in the Appalachian Mountains. After being abandoned by her volatile brother, she is found by a peddler who takes her to stay with his mother. Here she learns that her entire life has been a lie, and her parents did not rescue her as a baby---they stole her away. As her brother continues to hunt her down, Lochiel has to decided whether to trust the peddler and his mother, and what they've told her.
     One thing I really liked about this book is the lesson that the peddler taught Lochiel----you are who you choose to be. You can choose anger and hatred (like her family and brother) or you can choose love. Lochiel battles the desire to see her brother killed, but this lesson wins in the end.
     Most fiction stories set the plot simply to hide the real story---the love story. This book though, was entirely about Lochiel and finding out who her parents really are. She is married in the epilogue and that is introduced a bit in the last chapter, but not at all a major theme.
     I can't decide if this book has too fast an ending or not. It would have nice to read more about Lochiel after she finds her mother and her brother is gone, but as for the story, it all got wrapped up.
     Cindy Sproles was raised in the Appalachian Mountains and now lives and writes in Tennessee. Her book is written in the "mountain lingo", for example: "I brung you here for two reasons. First, it's hidden away. Safe. Ain't hardly a soul knows this place is here. "  She has written another book in this series, Mercy's Rain, plus several other books. You can find her at cindysproles.com.

   I received a copy of this book from KREGEL PUBLISHERS per their blogger program and was only asked to write an honest review.
   

Daring to Hope

     BOOK REVIEW:   How do you hold on to hope when you don't get the ending you asked for?   When Katie Davis Majors moved to Uganda, accidentally founded a booming organization, and later became a mother through the miracle of adoption, she was determined to deeply weave her life together with the people she desired to serve. But the joy of caring for one person at a time meant investigating her heart fully into the many needs around her and often gave way to sorrow as she walked alongside people in the grip of addiction, desperation, and disease.
     After unexpected tragedy shook her family, for the first time in her life Katie began to wonder, Is God really good? Does He really love us? As she turned to Him with her doubts and shaky faith, God did not remain silent but spoke truths to her heart, drawing her even more deeply into relationship with Him.
     Daring to Hope is an invitation to believe in the God of the impossible---the God who whispers His love to us in the quiet, in the mundane, when our prayers are not answered the way we wanted or the miracle doesn't come. It's about a mother discovering the extraordinary strength it takes just to be ordinary. It's about choosing faith no matter the circumstance and about encountering God's goodness and presence in the least expected places, when life is a far cry from anything we imagined.
     Though your heartaches and dreams may take a different shape, you will find your own questions echoed in these pages. You'll be reminded of the gifts of joy in the midst of sorrow and courage in the face of uncertainty. And you'll hear God's whisper: Your hope in Me will never never leave you disappointed.

     MY REVIEW:   I have previously read Katie's book, "Kisses from Katie", though it's been too long to really remember what it was about. I do remember liking it though, which is why I grabbed this book when I saw it.
     I don't remember how the first book was formatted, but I was expecting this one to be rather like an autobiography, telling of her life in Uganda and the friends she had made and her family and so on. But it really wasn't like that. It is a tale of Katie's journey in Christ, of accepting deep disappointments, bearing the death of friends, praying for the seeming impossible and being able to hope.
     In the beginning of the book and through the middle I was a little surprised that Katie didn't mention her husband. It seemed a little odd that she would reference her (many) girls, but not he. Then toward the end he came in. She hadn't mentioned him since at that point they weren't yet married. No longer surprised was I.  :)   Then I was impressed that Katie was running such a functioning home and family on her own. I mean, she had a lovely sounding house, plus a guest house in the back yard, a backyard, garden, and don't forget 13 daughters!!! And she made time and space for ANYONE who needed a place to stay or was sick and needed nursing or whatever. She would have multiple family sleeping on her living room floor at times. It really was both impressive and inspiring.
     One thing I really was impressed by was Katie's response when she felt unloved and forgotten by God: she took bright pink sticky-notes and wrote down blessings EVERY TIME she thought of them. She then stuck them to the wall above her kitchen sink and clung to hope. That was neat!
     I would truly recommend this book, but if you're like me and like to know a little more about the person you're reading about, you should read her first book also. I could be remembering it wrong, but I recall it's being more a detailed story of her life than this one.

    I received a copy of this book from BLOGGING FOR BOOKS per their blogger program, and was only asked to write an honest review. 
   

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Spiritual Discipleship

     BOOK REVIEW:   How do you know you're a true disciple?   There are many expressions of the Christian faith, but there's only one definition of a disciple: someone who imitates Christ. What is that person like? 
     This book will show you. From the bestselling author of Spiritual Leadership (over one million copies sold), it examines Jesus' teaching on what it means to follow Him, helping you become the kind of Christian He wants you to be, not the kind devised by man. You'll learn:
       *The biblical profile of a disciple. 
       *The conditions for following Christ.
       *The tests and trials that true disciples endure
         And more......
For new Christians who want to know how they should live, or for long-time Christians who need reminding, Spiritual Discipleship provides clear, biblical, grace-driven guidance.

     MY REVIEW:   I don't read enough of this tone of book to give a detailed comparison, but I found this one to be very good---I'm glad I took the time to read it. It's definitely not one you can read through in an evening, rather, a chapter at a time. There is so much to read, so much to process.
     In the introduction, Sanders says "The word disciple means learner.......a learner or pupil who accepts the teaching of Christ, not only in belief but also in lifestyle". He also states: "In this book I have not dealt with the mechanics of discipleship but rather the standards, the underlying principles that are to be incorporated into the lifestyle of the disciple".  I like an author who is not afraid to support the unpopular truth.
     J. Oswald Sanders has written two other book in this collection: Spiritual Leadership, which is a bestseller and is the most well-known and well-loved of the set; and Spiritual Maturity, which I have read and is also very good.

   I received a copy of this book from MOODY PUBLISHERS per their blogger program, and was only asked to write an honest review.