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

   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 To find more about Ivy Hill, visit

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 and

    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

    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. 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......


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 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,  

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

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:

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:

  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.

     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, 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

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

   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. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

God Made the World

     This book is a "cuddly cloth" book for kids. The front cover is crinkly, there is a loop at the top left corner to keep ahold of, and the book closes with a mild velcro clasp. There are six pages plus the front and back, each with a round picture of some kind of creation, i.e. woods, oceans, etc. Accompanying each picture is a sentence: "God made the ........" The very last page contains a small mirror, to include "you" in creation. It is a clear, yet mildly wavy mirror.
     This book is definately a book for a very small child, though an older one may enjoy it as well. It is washable, but not intended to be bleached, dry cleaned, tumble dryed, or used for teething.
     This is a neat book, the cloth being easier for small children and lacking the corners boasted by normal books.  

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

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

These Healing Hills

     BOOK REVIEW:   Francine Howard has her life all mapped out---until the man she loves announces his plan to bring home an English bride from war-torn Europe in 1945. Devastated, Francine seeks a fresh start in the Appalachian Mountains, training to be a nurse midwife for the Frontier Nursing Service. 
     Deeply affected by the horrors he witnessed at war, Ben Locke has never thought further ahead than making it home to Kentucky. His future shrouded in as much mist as his beloved mountains, he's at a loss when it comes to envisioning what's next for his life. 
     When Francine's and Ben's paths intersect, it's immediately clear that they are from different worlds and value different things. But love has a way of healing old wounds. . . .and revealing tantalizing new possibilities. 

     MY REVIEW:   I liked this book. Francine is jumping right into mountain life, complete with skeptical neighbors, winding mountain trails, and heavy snows. But she has a heart for people and comes to love the mountain. Her nursing partner keeps telling her not to become attached to anyone, but Francine can't help it. 
     Right from her arrival, Francine is befriended by a friendly young lad who invites her into his family. (And of course, it is Ben's brother.......go figure). She also befriends the old herb woman, avoiding the medical clashing her nursing partner uses. 
     While the story has that love interest in it, it doesn't seem to domineer like some books. The book is definitely about Francine's nursing. And the love interest aspect is more from gathering the courage to acknowledge it, which cuts down on a lot of the "loveyness" of the book. 
     Ann H. Gabhart has written several books. I have only read one other of hers, Angel Sister, which happens to be the first in Ann's THE ROSEY CORNER SERIES, but it was too long ago to remember the story well.  Other of her books are The Outsider, first of THE SHAKER BOOKS; Scent of Lilacs, first of THE HEART OF HOLLYHILL SERIES; Murder at the Courthouse, first of THE HIDDEN SPRINGS MYSTERIES; and more. Her website is

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

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

An Asian Harvest

     BOOK REVIEW:   Leaving home and his native New Zealand aged 16, Paul Hattaway found himself in Australia, homeless, hungry, and lonely, sleeping on the roof of a public bathroom. "A waste of energy" was his high school principal's assessment.
     After a fellow factory worker helped him to find faith, he quickly became convinced that God was calling him to China and in 1988 Paul arrived in Hong Kong with nothing more than a backpack, a single contact, and $50. He began to work as a Bible courier, carrying hundreds at a time across the Chinese border under the noses of the guards.
     Today Paul Hattaway leads Asia Harvest, the ministry he founded, which supports thousands of indigenous missionaries (meaning natives) and has supplied over 10 million Bibles to China and millions more to Christians throughout Asia.
     An Asian Harvest is his astonishing story.

     MY REVIEW:   I read The Heavenly Man last year, and while I enjoyed it, I never got around to seeing what else Paul wrote. As it happens, he has written several, some of which are: Operation China, From Head-Hunters to Church-Planters, and China's Christian Martyrs. You can find the rest of his books, as well as information on Asia Harvest at
     Autobiographies don't often interest me. This one, however, is greatly an exception---it did not take long for me to read it, and I enjoyed every page. The only fault I can find with it, is when you are done, it is hard to find another book to match it. ;)
     Paul's life was one he lived entirely for God. I was amazed at his story, how his faith held him through, and the battles he faced. The most striking one to me was his battle to marry his wife, Joy. A fellow missionary with an amazing reputation and seriously double life went so far as to slander Paul and Joy to keep them from marrying, and even after they did he was not put off.
     I absolutely love reading books like this that leave one feeling they were there, know that much more about it, and were touched in some unknown way. I would hugely recommend this book to anyone and everyone!

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

Monday, September 11, 2017

An Inconvenient Beauty

     BOOK REVIEW:   Griffith, Duke of Riverton, likes order, logic, and control, so he naturally applies this rational approach to his search for a bride. While he's certain Miss Frederica St. Claire is the perfect wife for him, she is strangely elusive, and he can't seem to stop running into her stunningly beautiful cousin, Miss Isabella Breckenridge.
     Isabella should be enjoying her society debut, but with her family in difficult circumstances, she has no choice but to agree to a bargain that puts her at odds with all her romantic hopes---as well as her conscience. And the more she comes to know Griffith, the more she regrets the unpleasant obligation that prevents her from any dream of a future with him.
      As Griffith's and Isabella's long-held expectations are shaken to the core, can they set aside their pride and fear long enough to claim a happily-ever-after?

     MY REVIEW:   This book is the fourth and last (I think) in Kristi Ann Hunter's HAWTHORNE HOUSE series. The other books are A Noble Masquerade, An Elegant Facade, and An Uncommon Courtship. There is also an e-book novella prequel, A Lady of Esteem, about one of their friends. Set in the Regency period, this series is about a young Duke and his three siblings---one book to each. This last one is about the Duke himself.
     This book is not as good as the first two, and I can't decide if it is better than the third one or not. It was a bit disappointing, I think because Griffith's character in the background of the other books is superior to that of his character in the spot-light of this book. The third book had the same problem, though I didn't realize it at first and attributed my disappointment to having over-anticipated it.
     I read the second book of the series first, which is the best, and from there on it went a little down hill. It is an interesting series, but lacks depth and inspiration. So if you are looking for a light story, by all means read the series. But if you want to be glad you spent the time on the book, I would suggest Francine Rivers, Cathy Gohlke, or Davis Bunn, to name a few. It's very sad, because I really wanted to love this series.
     On the positive side---as in the previous books, Kristi has knit a tight, supportive, and loyal family that is rare to see and even to read about.
    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 4, 2017

Fearless Parenting

     BOOK REVIEW:   We long to bring up our children as good Christians and good citizens, but it's an uphill battle. In a culture of rampant narcissism and moral anarchy, righteous living isn't easy and isn't popular. If we want to see our children grow up with their faith intact, we cannot afford to simply react, making it up as we go along. We must approach parenting with intentionality and consistency. In this hopeful book, world-renowned researcher George Barna and nationally respected counselor Jimmy Meyers offer a plan of action to raise healthy, godly children in our morally bankrupt culture.

     MY REVIEW:   For starters, I am not a parent, so my opinions are going to be from a non-parent perspective. So if I start sounding all why-can't-people-get-this it is because I have never had to parent and therefore have no idea how hard it is.
     Anyways, I really couldn't tell you why I picked up this book except that I wanted to see what people today call "fearless parenting". I was impressed! George and Jimmy have done a wonderful job of working together to get their point across. Parenting is not supposed to be easy---it's hard work and you can't let your kids rule you. Rather, they are your kids, so you are in control of them. This can seem harsh, but really, it's not. Kids need to learn how to be responsible, listen to authority, and live a mature and profitable life. How can they do this if all we as parents do is baby them and give in to them and let them have everything they want?
     On a different note....... Each chapter begins with an example of a counseling session (anonymous) which sets the tone of the chapter. I liked that. It gave reality to the topic being discussed. And each lesson ends with a few ways of carrying out that particular parental action.
     So if you are seeing a need for a change in your parenting technique but have no idea how to go forward, you should try this book.

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

Friday, August 25, 2017

Crisis Shot

     BOOK REVIEW:   Tess O'Rourke dreams of becoming the first female chief of police in Long Beach, California. As commander of the East Division, she is well on her way. . . . . until the night she responds to a call and fatally shoots an unarmed teenager. Despite being cleared of wrongdoing by a grand jury, Tess is so hounded by the public that she takes a job in Oregon to escape the bad press.
      Winning over the resident's of Rogue's Hollow might be more difficult that adjusting to her new role as police chief in the small, backwater town. Especially when her closest friend, the pastor's wife, goes missing and the woman's closest cousin is found shot. Tess finds an ally in sheriff's deputy Steve Logan, but as they track down Rogue's Hollow's first murderer, she worries that she's breaking one of her rules and getting too close to him.

     MY REVIEW:   I have read Janice Cantore's books before, so when I saw she had another one out I grabbed it.
     This book has a little different of a story line than the other mysteries I've read. Tess is the recipient of an angry blogger's rage and is forced to either leave her beloved job and home or endanger her co-workers. The decision to leave is especially hard as she is endeavering to please her father who was also a police officer, but has now passed away.
     I thought the mystery itself was interesting and had enough angles to keep one guessing, yet not too many that you get confused and overwhelmed. I liked that she included different types of characters in this book. Tilly is the homeless woman who has a hard time keeping with reality. Mayor Dixon wants so desperately to be involved with every detail that he nearly hinders Tess's work. Pastor Macpherson's wife is struggling with cancer, then suddenly goes missing. He hears nothing but a few odd texts. And Tess is struggling to adjust from overseeing hundreds of officers to only a handful, a huge city to the backwoods.
     Janice Cantore is a retired police officer herself, and has written several series now. Her last is the COLD CASE JUSTICE series, which is Drawing Fire, Burning Proof, and Catching Heat.

  I recieved a copy of this book from TYNDALE PUBLISHERS per thier blogger program, and was only asked to write an honest reveiw. 

The Holy Land for Christian Travelers

     BOOK REVIEW:   Many Christians hope to tour the Holy Land in their lifetime. But planning a meaningful trip in a place so filled with significant sites is difficult. The Holy Land for Christian Travelers puts a biblical scholar and experienced Holy Land guide at your side to ensure that you not only find the sites you want to visit but also understand their biblical significance. This guide will help you enjoy your trip with the confidence that you are avoiding common mistakes and investing your time and resources well. Each entry provides key Scripture references for reflection and encourages communion with God and a genuine spiritual experience as you learn about that land and walk in the footsteps of Jesus.
     MY REVIEW:   This is a lovely guide book. It is heavy and the pages are glossy. Several color maps are included, and each entry is divided into areas:
     Jerusalem: Walkable Sites in and near the Old City
     Jerusalem and Beyond: Drivable Sites outside the Old City
                                                     Coastal Plain
                                                     Central Mountains South
                                                     Central Mountains Center
                                                     Central Mountains North
These divisions allow you to plan your stops according to the different areas you want to see and how long you have to spend in the Holy Land. They are also marked to indicate which stops are especially recommended to visit. And not only does this book tell you where a place is, it also tells you whether it requires payment or modest dress, and sometimes what time of day is better to visit.
     Even if you don't plan to visit the Holy Land, you can use this book simply to learn the significance of different places. It is neat to read through and really catch the importance of biblical landmarks. It's quite the informative book.

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

Thursday, August 17, 2017

My Reader Rewards Club

Tyndale has a branch for earning points to get free books!! You get 25 points just for signing up, and there are several activities you can do to earn more points. (They are a little slow at getting more activities out, but they just changed location and name, and might be better now). 
You then take those points and choose a book---fiction, nonfiction, Bible, and more. A few of the books to choose from now are:
ANNIE'S STORIES by Cindy Thompson (a story of Ellis Island that's worth the read)
HER DAUGHTER'S DREAM by Francine Rivers (anything by Francine Rivers is worth reading. I could say this one especially, but I'd have to say that about them all)
THE LAST OPERATIVE by Jerry Jenkins (a mystery about Russian missiles in the US)
HOW NOW SHALL WE LIVE by Charles Colson 
365 POCKET PRAYERS FOR MOM by Erin Keeley Marshall

It's a really neat site for anyone who likes free books!!
You can find it here at

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Fatal Trust

     BOOK REVIEW:   A Simple Job. An Unbelievable Payout. But in risking it all on blind trust, he may just lose everything......    Ian Wells is a young, ambitious Minneapolis attorney struggling to build up a law practice while caring for a mother with Alzheimer's. As the stress and bills mount,Ian is nearing the breaking point when everything changes with a single new case. All Ian must do, the client demands, is judge whether three men qualify for nine million dollars of trust funds soon to be paid out by determining wehther they've been involved in any criminal activity for the past twenty years. Ian's fee for a week's work: the unfathomable sum of two hundred thousand dollars.
     The job seems too good to be true, and Ian wants to turn the offer down, but his needs weigh more heavily. He warily accepts the job---but is quickly dragged deep into a mystery linking the trust money to an illegal enterprise dating back to Prohibition and the greatest unsolved crime in Minnesota history. Ian soon finds himself the target of a swiftly tightening criminal investigation---realizing too late that this so-called simple job has spun out of control and now threatens his career, his future, and his life.

     MY REVIEW:  I really enjoyed this book! I like mysteries, especially those that are interesting without being gruesome. A trend I have noticed with (the two) mysteries written by men is the lack of major focus on the romantic angle. It's nice to be able to read an interesting book without it being about the relationship.
     A recurring dream of Ian's is told sporadically throughout the story to give background on the original crime. It's fun to see it all unfold like that, and Todd did a good job at telling things without giving too much away. It's clear and concise and easy to keep separate from the actual story.
     Suprising answers abound as the story comes to a close, such as the reason for Katie's odd payroll, and why Ian was chosen to represent the trust. The story also ended on a high note, which is necessary to make a mystery worth reading. All questions were answered, the bad guys caught, and the good guys getting what they wanted.
      Todd Johnson has previously written The Deposit Slip and Critical Reaction. You can find him and his books at

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

Monday, August 14, 2017

Real Love

     BOOK REVIEW:   The love that the world sees reflected by Christians is often a conditional one drifting to one of two extremes---compromising on truth or condemning those who disagree. But Jesus, despite having enemies on all sides, somehow managed to speak the truth in love. He calls us to do the same.
     "Many of the tensions we feel when we try to live out our faith," says Rick Bezet, "would disappear if we learned to navigate them with wisdom, grace, and common courtesy." Rick shows you how to speak the truth in love by spending time with Jesus, the one who did it best. For anyone unsure if they are doing more harm than good when they talk (or don't talk) about matters of faith, this book offers compassionate and inspirational guidance.

     MY REVIEW:   I wasn't sure what to expect when I got this book,  as so many books today can veer off into troubling waters. This book, however, seems to be on track. Rick bases his book on the two greatest commandments given by Jesus in Matthew: Love God and Love Others as Yourself.
     One of the topics Rick expounds on is not condemning those who have sinned. If they have repented and want to be accepted back in the church, etc, why do we feel like we can condemn them and push them away? Isn't this when they most need our love and support? Isn't this a prime opportunity to practice real love, the love of Christ? How many people do we push away from Christ simply because we treat them with condemnation?
     Then he says this:  "People are the most important thing God values. Are they important to you?"  If I had to answer honestly, I'd say I never really thought of it that way. But it's true. People are the only thing that will last forever, so why don't we focus more energy on giving them the good news of Jesus? If they are all that we can take with us to eternity, why are we so worried  about amassing money, praise, and positions, which matter nothing in eternity?
     Another thing I liked is that the person of authority set in place over you is not chance of fate, but rather is ordained or allowed by God. We have no way of seeing what is going to happen in the future because of a particular person being in authority, or what would have happened if our choice person had been chosen. If we do our part in obeying and praying for our authority, we can trust that God is in control and looking out for us.
     I enjoyed reading this book, and would recommend it. Rick has also written Real Love, and you can find more about him at

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

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Spiritual Maturity

     BOOK REVIEW:   Rather than focus on methods of growth, Spiritual Maturity  focuses on the Master of our growth: God Himself. Divided into three parts, it shows how each member of the Trinity is crucial to our maturity. Readers will learn:

        How a right view of the Father cultivates holiness
        How the supremacy of Christ encourages victorious living
        How the ministry of the Holy Spirit conforms us to Christ's image

Renowned for the classic Spiritual Leadership (over one million copies sold), Sanders is a storehouse of wisdom. He mines Scripture for deep spiritual insights and illustrates them with memorable stories, quotes, and hymns. Spiritual Maturity is a refreshing read that will help you grow---not by giving you a formula or to-do list, but by revealing God's gracious ministry to you in Christ. 
             *Includes reflection questions and a study guide for group discussion*

     MY REVIEW:   Wow! This book is definitely worth the time to read! Just a few things about the book that I especially like:
          The book has twenty-one chapters, seven devoted to each head of the Trinity. "Sanders gave equal deliberate consideration to the Triune God who is due our full attention." 
           A quote given by the editors:   "This is not light reading---it is Light reading. The subjects will test your attentiveness. They will challenge your approach to God's Word."
           The second chapter of the book is titled "The Prostrating Vision of God", about man's response to the sight of God. I found it particularly eye-opening. I have always thought that seeing God face to face would be just so neat, but if you look at the examples given in the Bible (Moses, Job, Saul, etc) it becomes apparent that such a vision brings about acute "self-abasement", and other such feelings. In Saul's case, he was blinded. Moses was given only a partial view or he wouldn't have been able to stand it. All in all it made me realize just how great God is!  I can't do justice to the chapter, and if you read it yourself it will make much a better impact.
            Another chapter talks about faith, and the proper way of looking at and growing in it. Again, an inspiring chapter! I would certainly recommend this book to everyone!
     More books by J. Oswald Sanders are Spiritual Discipleship and Spiritual Leadership.

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

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Chasing Secrets

     BOOK REVIEW:   When a photo leads investigators in West Ireland to open a twenty-five-year-old cold case, Elite Guardians bodyguard Haley Callaghan's life is suddenly in danger. Haley knows how to take care of herself; after all, she's made a career out of taking care of others. But after she has an uncomfortably close call, Detective Steven Rothwell takes it upon himself to stay with her---and the young client she has taken under her wing. A protector at heart, he's not about to let Haley fight this battle alone.
     In a sweeping plot that takes them into long-buried memories---and the depths of the heart---Haley and Steven will have to solve the mystery of Haley's past while dodging bullets, bombs, and bad guys who just won't quit.

     MY REVIEW:   This book was interesting to read---it's a cold case, which means there's likely to be less gory details and more figuring things out. I thought it was well done, with enough angles to keep the person mildly guessing who was actually after Haley.
     I had previously read only one of Lynette's books, Too Close to Home, which I enjoyed. She seems to have a good hand on what she does, and keeps her authors interested, and provides decent endings---some authors have rather small eclipses to their mysteries, which is disappointing.
     Lynette is what I would classify as a "details" author. That's the kind that tells you what the person had for breakfast, what they are wearing, what kind of smart phone they use, and exactly what time it is. The other class is a "direct" author, who simply focuses on the story. I don't mind either one, though there are a few "details" authors that can go overboard.
     I enjoyed the family thread included in the book. A Scottish officer arrives to tell Haley about her "real" life and person. Her family was killed in a mass attack when she was five, and she escaped with her nanny who changed their names and called Haley her own daughter. It is quite the surprise, as you could imagine, and rather interesting to read.
     Chasing Secrets is the fourth and possibly last in Lynette Eason's ELITE GUARDIANS series. The first books are: Always WatchingWithout Warning, and Moving Target. A few of her other books are: No One to Trust, first of the HIDDEN IDENTITY series, and When a Heart Stops, first of the DEADLY REUNIONS series.

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