Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse

Rich in beautiful relationships this book takes the reader by storm in the opening paragraphs.  Beginning with Isaac risking his own life in an attempt to save his employer’s life to relationships that cross racial lines, society lines and old family feud lines, the author creates a fascinating tale of mystery.  Amidst the racial tensions stirring in the south in the 1960s comes an authentically warm and deep friendship that spans generations.  The deep prejudices highlighted in Luesse’s book help the reader see the hypocrisy and courage of people during this radical time in our country’s history.  Breathtaking and clever – this is a work of literary art.

I received this book from Revell publishers and was not required to write a positive review.    

The Lacemaker by Laura Frantz

Elisabeth seems to have the dream life every young woman desires.  A handsome fiancé who will give her a lovely home to be mistress over when she weds and social status everyone envies.  All suddenly changes when her father sends her mother away to be nursed back to health for her frailties.  Elisabeth immediately recognizes her father’s falsehood.  He has sent her mother away not for physical or mental health reasons but for her strong beliefs in the Patriots’ politics.  Soon after this her father flees Virginia to escape the Patriots’ growing strength in Virginia.  At the same time Elisabeth finds herself abandoned by her fiancé Miles.  Not knowing when and if her mother will return Elisabeth finds herself alone.  Into this dire circumstance comes Noble a cousin of Miles with strong Patriot ties.  He  volunteers to take Elisabeth and her maid servant into his home to keep them safe.  Elisabeth accepts for her servant girl’s sake but soon makes her way to Williamsburg to fend for herself as a lacemaker.  While she can’t totally forget Noble nor he her there are weighty matters at hand.  When the rebellion between England and the Patriot colonists escalates Elisabeth finds herself wondering where her loyalties really lie and where her heart belongs.

I received this book from Revell publishers and was not required to write a positive review.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

You're Gonna Love Me by Robin Lee Hatcher

You're invited into the small town homey feel of Thunder Creek, Idaho.  City girl Samantha returns to be caregiver to her grandmother.  She gets an unexpected surprise when she finds out her lost love Nick is the very man who rescued her grandmother from her fall from her horse.  There is an undercurrent of longing mixed with bitterness inside of Nick as he begins to spend time with Samantha.  Samantha has unresolved fears from her childhood that mix with her resentment of Nick's zest for adventure.  Two seemingly polar opposites yet they can't deny the attraction and friendship that is building up to something more.  Through the help of a strong family, community and church connection they each begin to find healing.  What God has in store for their future begins to unfold before their eyes.

I received this book from Booklook Bloggers and was not required to write a positive review.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Blessed Are the Misfits by Brant Hanson

Incredible!  Comforting!  Awesome!  Inspiring!  Assuring! I want to put exclamation after exclamation in my review of this book.  Brant Hansen has a very different outlook and inner look at spiritual matters that really blessed  my heart.  Over and over his words said to me:  I am okay to God.  The worse thing that Christians do to themselves or to each other is to give a sense of judgment for things we have no right judging in ourselves or others.  The words in this book very pointedly, often with humor or startling bluntness, tell me that God is someone that can be depended on even when I can't feel Him, see Him or understand what is going on.  At first glance the opening words of this book might seem sacriligous or discouraging because of the lack of emotion.  But I found that actually understanding that we don't have to be on a spiritual "high" to receive God's grace and love is extremely calming to my soul and gives me such a sense of peace.  The stories shared and ideas discussed are really deep.  I found myself reading a line and then sitting there and thinking:  Wow... Just wow what a God we have. 

I received this book from book bloggers and was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, December 4, 2017

31 Proverbs to Light Your Path by Liz Curtis Higgs

The cover of this book is so beautiful it caught my eye immediately.  I thought I like the proverbs and this will be a good devotional book for the month.  After reading the first chapter it was so good I went on to read the next chapter.  Needless to say I didn’t stick with my one chapter a day plan.  The author fills the pages with honest, open, narrative of her own experiences that other women can easily relate to.  She even encourages us that if we think we can’t relate to a certain topic in a proverb to think of it in a new way that can apply to our lives.  Each chapter ends with a short personalized prayer and then a “One Minute, One Step” exercise.  This is the very best part of the book!  In each “One Minute, One Step” portion the reader is given a 60 second assignment.  Liz challenges us to take the 60 second plunge and do it right then and not put it off to later.  She is right on about doing the challenge while the devotional is still fresh in your mind.   For example interesting challenges for your soul like putting money away in an envelope and carrying it around in your purse praying for the right person to give it to.  Or swallowing our pride and picking one thing we need help with and then asking someone to join us in that task.  These short challenges are fun and packed with meaningful self-insights.  I loved it!

This book was given to me by Blogging for Books but I was not required to write a positive review.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Bringing Maggie Home by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Sawyer doesn't have to use a lot of "Fancy" words to draw us into the story.  Her straight forward manner with detailed dialogue draws the reader to the characters immediately.  This book from the start holds intrigue with the disappearance of a precious three-year-old little girl.  The main meat of this story however is not really about the mystery of the missing child.  It is about the secrets we hold deep inside that make us ill and keep us from really living.  Hazel has deep-seated guilt over the disappearance of her baby sister and this guilt has colored every aspect of her life.  It is especially damaging to her relationship with her own daughter, Diane,  who has felt stiffled by Hazel's overprotectiveness through the years. Fast forward to Diane becoming a mother and her adult daughter Meghan is in a serious car accident.  This amazing story of God's physical healing of Meghan while simultaneously emotionally healing Hazel and Diane makes this "keeper".

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Be the Gift by Ann Voskamp

If you've never read any of Ann Voskamp's books the description of the book pales dramatically to her actual written word.  She's a master at words that evoke images, emotions and a desire to draw closer to God.  Her writing is raw, heart-felt, stirring, shocking and transparent.  She allows us glimpses into her own heart to help us better understand the heart of God.  This lovely book is filled with photographs of her farm, home, and family.  From a bowl of cherries to the wheat fields to a child's toes we are drawn into her intimate world.  This book is a devotional book with a challenge.  The challenge to spend 60 days giving of ourselves to a hurting world.  She invites us to give sacrificially as Christ gives to us.  She challenges us to go outside of our comfort zone and use our imagination to find ways to "pay it forward" to someone who is hurting.  She gets down to the gritty realities of  our hesitation to do good for those who rub us the wrong way and asks us to give of ourselves to them in a meaningful way.  The end of the book has pages where the reader can write how they lived given in that day - for 60 days.  Then there are 60 heart challenge ideas on how we can pour out ourselves to be a gift to others.

I received this book from BookLook but was not required to write a positive review.

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Crooked Path by Irma Joubert

The Crooked Path delivers a beautifully tender love story. If you're tired of "steamy love scenes" with little emotional depth then you'll love this book.   It is deeply passionate and at the same time a "clean" love story.  The love between characters is built slowly and sincerely through the pages.  It is heart stopping at times and agonizing at others when love seems just out of reach.  The details rendered in this book make the Africa of old come alive.  Through the eyes and heart of Lettie we meet her childhood friends and first crush.  At the beginning of the book we find Lettie a very shy and unsure girl.  As the story progresses Lettie gains strength in her faith and in who she is.  As she accepts herself she begins to blossom in ways she could never imagine.  The affects of WWII and emotional trauma on her friends changes the way they thought life would turn out.  Through it all is woven a thread of hope and an appreciation and reverence for being alive.  Lettie and her friends must each find their own way to savor the precious moments as they come and the courage to go on when detours, deadends and roadblocks seem to prevent their dreams from coming true.

I received this book from BookLook publishers but was not required to write a positive review.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Little Book of Bible Stories by Jean Fischer

This lovely little book is filled with adorable Precious Moments characters that will delight the hearts of young and old.  Little ones will enjoy holding their very own Bible story board book with easy to turn pages.  Parents will appreciate the durability and beautifully depicted Bible stories on each page.  Stories from Creation to Jesus resurrection are told in clear, simple language yet with enough description to make the story interesting.  Each story has two pages.  Page one is the story.  Page two is the illustration with a short poem or prayer and Bible verse to emphasis the Bible story.  Illustrations have lots of color and cute details such as baby birds in nests and lambs with shepherd boys.  There are multi-cultural children included in the illustrations.  Jesus is illustrated with olive toned skin.  Throughout the book Precious Moment children are shown in modern day settings and in Bible story time frames.  The scriptures included can be used to help a child begin to memorize short passages of scripture.   Whimsical yet with deep spiritual truths - this book is perfect to help your child know the Bible stories in a more personal way.  It can be used in children's church or church schools as devotional readings or at home for family worship or at bedtime before you tuck your little one goodnight.

I received this book from Booklook publishers but was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Fierce Hearted by Holley Gerth

What I really enjoy about this book by Holley Gerth is it doesn't feel like a book.  It feels like a convesation with a trusted friend.  The title is perfect!  And the cover artwork is beautifully matched with this title.  Each chapter begins with a profound quote by other authors.  Then Ms Gerth begins to tell a story.  These stories are pieces of her life that she's woven into a meaningful worship thought.  Her idea of being fierce hearted is deeply spiritually based.  She shows how God can work through our self-doubt, trials and even the cruelty of others to help us have hearts that are confident, brave and not afraid to love.  This is so much more than a devotional book.  It is a book that can help you begin a self discovery journey with the Lord as your guide.

I received this book from Revell publishers but was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Start Where You Are - Notecards by Mera Lee Patel

The Start Where You Are notecards are companions to the book Start Where You Are by Meera Lee Patel.  You don't have to have read the book to enjoy these fabulous notecards!  Each card appears as if it were hand crafted just for you or someone you know.  The water colors are beautiful and soothing.  Each card has a quote from a poet or author.  The art work enhances the message on each card.   The decorated envelopes are a classy touch.  The creator of these notecards chose with care and wisdom the words she placed on each notecard.  The quotes are deeply moving and ones that will sit in your heart and dwell there long after you have sent the card on to a friend.  Perfect gift for yourself or a friend.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

A Very Thankful Prayer by Bonnie Rickner Jensen

The book is a sturdy square shaped board book.  Cover has shiny, foil leaves in autumn colors.  A little rabbit riding a bicycle with a dog in the basket graces the cover.  Rabbit and dog are dressed in sweaters, scarves and hats with pom poms.  The verse to the book is written in rhymes.  Each page focus on a different aspect of thankfulness.  Various animals are shown doing different activities in which they are thankful.  Rabbit wakes up on a carrot quilt and is thankful for morning. A bear, cat, olw, badger and mouse play together happily at the playground and are thankful for wooly scarves.  A mouse family rakes leaves and delights in fall colors.  Squirrels help a farmer harvest corn.  A bear cub is thankful for love in his family.  A group of rabbits gather pumpkins.  Puppy, kitten and ducks are thankful for their friendship.  Foxes climb ladders to reach apples for apple pie.  A cat family celebrates thanksgiving around a table laden with food.  A deer, raccoon and penguin roast marshmallows around a bonfire under the moon and stars.  The book ends with verse on thankfulness in being able to help others and recognizing God as the giver of all things.  The illustrations throughout the book are detailed and delightful.  The animals are adorable and each scene is interesting and exudes warmth and love.

I received this book from booklook and was not required to write a positive review.

The Return by Suzanne Woods Fisher

This story draws us deep into a dark period of America's history as white settlers and Native Americans fight for the same land.  It was a time of intense unrest, distrust and often violence.  The characters in this book come from both sides of the line drawn by this turbulence.  Beware for there are graphic depictions of the savagery inflicted by one upon another.  The author did an excellent of showing that you cannot lump all people into one kettle.  There were good and bad in each culture as well as innocents who paid the price for those who were bent on evil.  Through her riveting story of love, loss, betrayal, reunion and restoration she weaves together a brilliant revelation of what it was like to live during those years.  Through the characters' self reflection and self revelation we begin to understand the immense struggle for peace and justice.  She also taps on our hearts for a deeper level of compassion and forgiveness and self-sacrifice for others.

I received this book from Revell and was not required to write a positive review.

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Tea Planter's Wife by Dinah Jefferies

Dinah Jefferies has created a heart twister of a tale.  Fascinating historical facts are revealed in the pathos of one woman's life as  a tea planter's wife.  She leaves England for a life in Ceylon where nothing is familiar and secrets have been kept with horrendous consequences to all.  The interpersonal relationships between Gwen, her husband Laurence, his sister Verity and former love interest Christine all bring to a boil hidden rages, jealousies and anguishes.  The past connects with the present in explosive, shocking revelations that will change everything.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Gathering the Threads by Cindy Woodsmall

While Gathering the Threads is the third book in The Amish of Summer Grove you don't have to read the first two books to enjoy this book.  The author gives a detailed summary of the other two books at the beginning of this book to "catch you up".  However, this whole series is so good you will want to read book 1 and book 2.  In Gathering the Threads we find Ariana and Skylar still trying to navigate their emotions and beliefs.  There's a lot of deep family interpersonal drama as well as a mystery or two to untangle.  I really appreciate that the author takes time to develop each character and the various situations throughout the book.  When Ariana is faced with a dilemna it is thoroughly investigated from different angles.  You feel her turmoil and angst.  You root for her as she braves new patterns in her thinking, emotional responses and actions.  This is not a "typical" Amish book.  It is just brimming with deep and riveting dialogue that will touch and maybe even change your heart. Unusual and yet realistic situations arisen to challenge everything Ariana once thought were rock solid beliefs.

Monday, June 26, 2017

God Bless My School by Hannah C. Hall

God Bless My School by Hannah C. Hall is another wonderful addition to the "God Bless..." titles published by Tommy Nelson, the children's division of Thomas Nelson Publishers.  Absolutely adorable creatures are the main characters in the school.  Of course a wise Mrs. Owl is the loving teacher over them.  The illustrations are in soft hues and exude warmth, tenderness and security.  The young scholar is shown through a typical day of kindergarten.  The first pages start with the autumn weather and colors coming to signal that school will soon start.  The daddy porcupine encourages his child that this is an exciting event.  Next we find mama bear who has prepared her cub for school by buying new shoes that his has learned to tie.  The penguin mom has packed her child's backpack full of school supplies such as crayons, glue and paint in preparation for the big day.  As the child turns the page he will see a baby bird flying off with her lunch box waving good-bye with a smile and the knowledge that God goes with her.   Mrs. Owl greats the class and they sit in circle time looking happy.  Little creatures are then shown playing drums, playing with blocks, singing and looking at books.  Lunch time is creatively shown with a variety of foods specific to each animal.  This is a clever way to shown children that they may see foods eaten at school that are quite different from their own lunch. Nap time is drawn with sweet peaceful expressions and even a peeking kitten who doesn't really want to sleep.  Playground fun is shown with animals cooperating and joining in the fun together.  The last pages show more playground fun with swings, lides, jump ropes and hopscotch.  The last words end the book:  "God bless my school," we say.  As little ones rejoice in the new found happiness of a school day.

I received this book from BookLook and was not required to write a positive review.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Holy Bible International Children's Bible - The Blessed Garden

This children's study Bible was a feast for eyes and heart.  The cover is beautifully illustrated with forest creatures and an arrange of colorful flowers with sparkles.  Butterflies, mushrooms, vines and special keyhole also grace the front cover.  Upon opening the book there is an illustration of a path which is fitting as the Bible states "Your Word is a lamp unto my feet".  There is a dedication page graced with the same lovely illustrations.  The introduction page asks why we should study the Bible. The reasons are explained in clear, easy to understand language and with a story about friendship. The story will help a young child have a better understanding about the relationship between herself and God.  Next comes several pages that show a timetime illustrated with people from the Bible stories.  It starts with Adam and Eve and ends with the words:  The church will continue until the Lord returns.  Right before the table of contents is a full page with a forest scene depicted on it.  The preface describes why this particular version of the Bible is noteworthy and can be trusted.  There is a section on key verse highlights.  The Old Testament is then given in full account.  Followed by the New Testament in its entirety.  Throughout the Bible text are illustrated pages with thought provoking questions or short devotionals. One example is:   How do I know Jesus loves me?  Each thought page or devotional contains scriptural references and a story that is child friendly.  At the end of the Bible are sections that contain:  a dictionary, glossary of famous Bible stories, Bible promises, Memory Verses for My Life, Names of God, Miracles of Jesus, Names of the Disciples, Kids in the Bible and maps.  This Bible is aimed at young children but is a very well developed Study Bible and goregous too!

I received this Bible from BookLook and was not required to write a positive review.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Under a Summer Sky by Melody Carlson

Melody Carlson is a talented writer that writes books on a variety of topics, locations, interests and themes.  This book takes place in modern day Savannah, Georgia.  Nicole is from Seattle and sent by her mother to visit old family friends in the deep South.  While Nicole is helping to manage their art studio she rekindles friendships with both sons of the studio proprietor.  Teen crushes are relived but in the light of adult insight.  Nicole begins to view Alex and Ryan in a very different light than before.  As Nicole explores the city of Savannah with its rich history she begins to rethink what she really wants in a relationship.  Add to the mix Alex’s teenage daughter Bernice and there’s a lot at stake for Nicole as she weighs the pros and cons of getting involved with someone she once longed to pay her attention.

Friday, June 9, 2017

It Started with Goodbye by Christina June

Terrifc YA love story!  First of all a beautiful cover.  I just loved the moonlit now with glittering lights.  The title is terrific too!  So I was enthralled just looking at the cover.  The story itself did not disappoint.  A lovely "fairytale" that leaves a warm afterglow when you've come to the last page.  This is a sweet, sweet love story but it is also a story of a young girl's journey to self-realization.  The story starts with Tatum being grounded in what she calls "house arrest"for the summer.  She feels alienated from her father and that she has lost her best friend.  Her life long angst that her step-mother constantly has too high expectations of her really comes to a boiling point during the summer.  During her community service time she makes new friends that help her gain self-appreciation and self-acceptance.  At the same time her step-mother's mom, Blanche comes for a visit.  Through Blanche's openness and wisdom Tatum begins to see the step-mother's actions in a deeper, more enlightened way.  Tatum learns to be courageous as she reveals herself and her dreams to her family and friends.   Along the way she begins a relationship with a boy clothed in mystery that helps her see that dreams can come true.

I received this book from BookLook and was not required to  write a positive review.
The cover of this recipe book will draw you in immediately.  Beautiful, VIBRANT colors pop out and make you reach out and pick up this book.  You won't be disappointed.  Ms Agrawal introduces her book with a fascinating family history.  She is a lifelong vegetarian who grew up picking fruits and vegetables in India.  This heritage of selecting the best produce and preparing delicious vegetarian meals help lead to her own experimenting and creating recipes.  The book has a section specifially on Indian cooking tips and techniques. She has a section with suggestions on how to fill your pantry to prepare the delicious Indian dishes found in this recipe book.  Ms. Agrawal also has a chapter on which kitchen tools are essential for preparation of her recipes.  The recipes are shown in lovely full color photographs.  Recipes are found in sections:  breakfast/light meals, salad/yogurts, stir-fries/curries, ric/bread, soups/stews/lentils, festive bites/snacks, sweets/drinks, and chutneys/pickles.  A special section is devoted to how to make homemade power spices.  This is a very complete recipe book which includes meal planning and sample menus and where to buy ingredients and equipment.  

Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Sweet Smell of Magnolias and Memories by Celeste Fletcher McHale

This book has a lot of interesting twists in the plot.  It starts with dramatically with a rescue from a rooftop during a flood.  The tension, the terror and shocking aftermath are vividly portrayed.  The reader is drawn into Jacey's confusion from a head injury and subsequent post traumatic stress disorder resulting in anxiety attacks.As Jacey's life moves forward a part of her is stick stuff back in the flood waters of the Mississippi.  She is caught in the paralyzing dicotomy of not being able to forget and not being able to fully remember what transpired in those final hours prior to her rescue.  Then something happens and the memories start trickling back in with intensity and full heartbreaking shocking reality.  Jacey will have to make a decision to stay in touch with her memories as emotions threaten to destroy her or to remain in denial of what her heart is telling her. Her decisions will affect not only herself but people who are closest to her and depend on her.  Some will be frustrated and others surprised.  But no one will ever be the same after the sweet smell of magnolias brings with it memories that surround and encompass Jacey.

I received this book from BookLookBloggers and was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

All Things Bright and Beautiful Illustrated by Dawn Machell

Dawn Machell takes a familiar hymn and transforms it into lovely lullaby for young children.  This book is smaller than the average board book but just right for those baby hands!  The hymn "All Things Bright and Beautiful" are the text for this book.  The cover of the book has sparkles and a scene with a small child sitting on an elephant.  Other animals and birds with flowers, mushrooms and smiling sun grace the cover.  The border of the cover is bright primary colored flags.  As the child opens to the first page he will be delighted by the sparkly rainbow that fills both sides of the page.  The following pages match the text with corresponding, charming illustrations.  For example "little flowers that open" not only has appealing flowers but little lady bugs, butterflies and adorable bees peeking out from the flowers.  "Each little bird that sings" show a variety of sweet little birds in various shapes and sizes.  "Purple-head mountains" and "the river running by" are drawn with beauty with whimsical animals in the foreground.  One of the last pages contrasts the "cold wind" with the "pleasant summer sun".  The book ends with a scene of children from different cultures.Beautiful and precious!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A love so True by Melissa Jagears

Surprise ending!  I love a book where I can't figure out the mystery and even as it unfolds I'm surprised.  This book gives that and so much more.  Interwoven in this romance mystery is tender familial relationships and rock solid friendships.  Evelyn has a passion to help the unwanted children and orphans of prostitutes.  While she can find tender mercies for the "soiled doves" of her city she cannot forgive herself for a mistake she made and has hidden.  As Evelyn works to help others accept God's forgiveness she begins to see more clearly God's love for herself.  Her family and friends sense an unrest in Evelyn but cannot seem to gain her trust to release her hidden angst.  Meanwhile they remind her and assure her that God's plans often offer us a dream we didn't have the courage to grasp for ourselves because He is merciful.  This book packs a lot of deep truths between its pages.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Trusting Grace by Maggie Brendan

The dialogue between the characters felt trite and stiff.  Conversations didn’t flow naturally.  The love story seemed stilted.  For example one page Grace says to herself that she realizes she not only loves the children but also loves Robert and wonders why she didn’t acknowledge this to herself early.  A mere two pages later when Robert asks if he may court her she stares at him blankly.  This time she says to herself that she must have given him the wrong impression that she cared for him like “that”.  This makes no sense.  Similar odd or awkward situations and conversations are throughout the book that made the characters not come alive for me.  The basis of the storyline was interesting but I just didn’t “feel the love” in this romance.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Peace in the Valley by Ruth Logan Herne

I love this book!  Superb book on so many levels!  It is a satisfyingly romantic cowboy love story but so much more! The author paints a beautiful picture of a family turning to God for healing of past wounds.  The characters seem so real you forget you're reading a book.  You become immersed in their struggles.  I enjoyed the times in the book when each character would think back to a scripture that helped give them strength or encouragement for the moment.  The relationships and backstories of Trey and his brothers and father was unique and inspirational.  The way Lucy and Trey interact with each other and her children is heartwarming.  The interactions and conversations between side characters add richness and depth to the main plot.  This is a fascinating story with a lot of thought-provoking messages woven into an excellent story about God's grace, forgiving others and embracing love through the courage God gives us through second chances.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

A Stranger at Fellsworth by Sarah E. Ladd

An intriguing plot with lots of mystery and the quick pace kept my attention throughout the story.  I thoroughly enjoyed the conversations between the characters in this book. The unique phrases and terminology of the era made this a fun read as well.  I like the main character Annabelle.  She's had a lot of hard knocks in her life but she's determined to live a good life even if that life is vastly different from what her family or society deems appropriate.  She's not feisty but she's brave.  There's interesting exchanges and "chance" meetings between characters that will keep you guessing till the end of the book.  It was a very enjoyable read about lords and ladies and the common folk too.  Lots of detail given so that you feel like you are back in that time period.  Believable characters with believable lives yet never a dull moment in the tale.  Not a trite tale but rather a meaningful look into forgiveness, living out one's faith and acting upon what God prompts your heart to do.

Monday, April 24, 2017

When God Made You by Matthew Paul Turner and Illustrated by David Catrow

Initially I was attracted to this book because of the illustrator David Catrow.  This book is filled with clever and heart warming drawings.  But I also discovered an awesome author Matthew Paul Turner who has a true gift with words.  His poetry is like music.  It flows beautifully from page to page and the illustrations enhance his words.  This book is equally pleasing to the child and adult who shares the book with the little one.The emphasis over and over on the unique blessing each individual is to the world, to their family and to God makes this an important message all children should hear.  I really liked how the author emphasized how God made the child and planned for good things and sees good things in the child.  This is a precious book filled with love and sweet affirmations.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Sandpiper Cove by Irene Hannon

Hope Harbor and Sandpiper Cove have a way of making a home in your heart.  Who wouldn’t want to live in such a beautiful place with such remarkable friends?  Adam Stone is an ex-con who has given his heart and life to Christ.  Just as the town people begin to see and value Adam things also begin to heat up between him and police chief Lexie Graham.  How far does trust go when the odds seem stacked against your relationship?  How far from the past mistakes can a person grow beyond?  How much risk is worth the risk to try?  Adam and Lexie face these questions as rumors fly about his involvement in a crime.  The way they deal with the situation and the way the towns people react are tear jerkers and reason enough to read this book.  While this is the third book in the Hope Harbor Series it can be read as a stand-alone novel. 

I received this book from the publishers and was not required to write a positive review.

Friday, April 7, 2017

To the Farthest Shore by Elizabeth Camden

This book grabbed my attention at the get-go and held it.  It is an intriguing story about espionage, missing persons, long-lost loves, And the angst of what might have been.  There's a lot of turmoil and emotional chaos in this story but don't give up!  Keep reading!  As the plot thickens so does the reader's understanding of the two sides of a wrong committed and the consequences of lost trust.  Which is the greater sin?  Is it to withhold information?  Or is it to withhold forgiveness?  Can trust severed in a devastating way ever be regained?  Travel the journey with Ryan and Jenny for a story that will stay with you long after you come to the last page.

I received this book from the publishers and was not required to write a positive review.

Love Letters from God Bible Stories for a Girl's Heart by Glenys Nellist

Magnificent!  This is a child's book that is just as meaningful for adults.  I read the first story and was in tears.  Tears of absolute wonder at God's goodness.  It starts with the story of Eve and how God gave her clothing to not only cover her body but as a symbol of His covering love over her.  Each story of a woman in the Bible has a flap-letter for the child to open.  The first letter has these words in it:  "Even if you make some bad choices, talk to me about it.  I will cover you with my love and forgiveness."  Each story is a powerful testimony to the love God has and His might to help girls in the Bible stories through any situation.  The flap-letters are beautifully worded to help the girl reading the book feel the love God has for her.  The stories deal with forgiveness, overcoming fear, putting the past behind, trusting God, hope in a waiting period, witnessing, standing for the right, being called of God, etc.  The story of salvation is in these pages in a very dynamic, deep hearted, personalized way.  The illustrations are out of this world goregous and just enhance the soothing message of this book.  This is such an awesome, awesome book!  Everyone should have this book for their daughter, granddaughter, niece, student, friend!  God bless this author for her heart so in tune with God's great love!

I received this book from the publishers and was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

When Tides Turn by Sarah Sundin

When Tides Turn by Sarah Sundin

As inspiring as it is informative this historical novel is awesome!  Sarah Sundin’s characters just come to life on the pages of this book.  She is an amazing researcher giving details of naval service of men and women during WWII while giving readers a marvelous mystery and love story.  In this book you will learn about WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service) and the strict naval code for men and women in their professional capacities.  The ins and outs of life in service and the intricacies of falling in love are written in a spellbinding way that keeps the reader glued to the pages till the very end.

I received this book from the publishers and was not required to write a positive review.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

This is absolutely one of the best reads ever!  I love, love, love, LOVE this book and I wish I could give Lysa a big hug for being brave enough to write it.  She gets it!  She gets me!  She is so honest, so open and so caring as she writes each chapter.  She expresses in such raw terms the pain from feeling rejected and yet with such triumph assurance that we don't have to stay living that way.  She not only deals with the pain but she points to ways to climb out of that pit.  Lysa deals with rejection/pain along the spectrum from the point of self-pity all the way to wrongs done to us that we have no control over.  I found this book well rounded in it's approach and totally Biblical in its applications for emotional health.  She encourages the reader on how to overcome feelings of rejection by being rooted in God's love.  At the same time she gives practical and specific, detailed advice for various situations where someone could feel rejected.  This is what excited me about this book.  She wasn't just writing platitudes - she wrote from personal experiences of very deep rejection.  She's also "tested" the ways to overcome it in her own life.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

God Loves Daddy and Me by Bonnie RIckner Jensen

I love that the author made a special "DADDY" book!  It's so important and special to recognize a Daddy's role in a young child's life.  And what could be better than to show this as a direct gift from God.  God loves the little child by giving that child a loving Daddy to play with, go on adventures with, pray with and learn about great truths of life such as forgiveness.  The tender words combined with the adorable illustrations make this book fantastic!

I received this book from the publishers and was not required to write a positive review.

God loves Mommy and Me by Bonnie Rickner Jensen

This board book is just right for toddlers.  Easy to hold with beautifully illustrated drawings that capture the love and coziness of mother/child bonding.  The love of the mother for the child is expressed in the mother's varied ways to demonstrate that her child is precious to her.  From spending time together to kissing "boo boos" the mother rabbit is involved in her child's life.  I really enjoyed how the author used words like proud and forgive to demonstrate parental love.  It was great how the author sequed into God's love for us by telling how God is the One who gave mother rabbit her love for baby bunny.  The author concludes the book with ways God shows his love to each of us and we show our love by prayers of thanksgiving.

I received this book from the publisher and was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A Stolen Heart by Amanda Cabot

This historical romance/mystery is set 15 years after the civil war ends.  When Lydia, a Yankee, comes to Cimarron Creek in search of her fiancé she does more than raise a few eyebrows.  As eligible bachelors vie for her affections women in the town doubt her virtue and sincerity as she launches a confectionery shop.  When a rash of unsolved crimes besets the close knit town Lydia is cast in the worst light possible.  Can the friendships she’s begun withstand the scrutiny of crime investigations?  Will Lydia be able to keep her faith in God and see Romans 8:28 fulfilled in her life?  Read this novel by Amanda Cabot and find yourself immersed in the post Civil war era where Americans were trying to find their way back to peace and harmony and God.      

I received this book from the publishers and was not required to write a positive review.   

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Life After by Katie Ganshert

Brillant and soul-searchingly deep!  Katie Ganshert just continues to produce unbelievable works of art in her books.  The stories are amazing!  But the spiritual truths are so profound they make you take a second look and a third and fourth.  Remarkable!  As you read the character's thoughts you think to yourself WHAT did the author go through in her life to have such insights? She truly has a gift from God to portray the depth of emotion she does and with it the healing balm that only God can give.  This story is deep.  I mean DEEP!  It deals with tragedy on a scale that really makes even the stauchest Christian ask Why?  Ganshert isn't afraid to meet doubt, fear, questioning, "shaking a fist at God" kind of grief.  Ganshert delivers a story that isn't mere entertainment.  The author looks intimately into the mind of someone who wanted to ask God why much as David does in the Psalms.  And the main character of this book asks why again and again seeing glimpses of God but being beset by satan's lies.  This book is so powerful because it isn't sugar coating the real, down and out feelings of desperation when wondering why God let a tragedy come into your life...why God didn't intervene when He could have.  And why sometimes we don't see answers or reasons.  It is a meaningful look at tragedy, grief and how God's love is still stronger than any evil.  You won't be the same after reading this totally, outstanding book.

I received this book from the publishers and was not required to write a positive review.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Redeeming Grace by Jill Eileen Smith

This account of the Biblical character Ruth is full of rich historical detail. The author takes time to give description of tradtions, rituals, beliefs of followers of Yahwah and of Chemosh and the difference in life styles between Israelites and Moabites.  But it is not given in a dry way.  The author knows how to place these details inside the heart of the story so they naturally weave in and around the character's lives.  You will feel the sorrow and angst of Boaz, Naomi and Ruth when their prayers seem to go unanswered.  You will feel the fear and uncertainty when Naomi travels to Moab and when Ruth returns to with her to Bethlehem.  What would make a Moabitess leave all she's ever known to follow her widowed mother-in-law to a stranger land?  Only the searching heart who longs for the true God.  This story is a testimony of God's grace to all people and the courage He can instill in even the most humble of his followers to do great things.

I received this book from Revell publishers.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

A Note Yet Unsung by Tamera Alexander

Tamera Alexander NEVER disappoints!  She's a master story teller.  You'll be intrigued on the first page and eagerly turn page after page till the last page.  I have read every book of hers and can't wait till she writes the next one.  Alexander takes an often unknown historical nugget and turns it into a lovely story filled with God's grace and many spiritual truths.  At the same time the tale she weaves is full of romance, mystery, interesting historical facts, vibrant, complicated characters and flavors of the culture and times. This particular book deals with the etiquette of what was considered proper for women in the 1870s.  The focus is on women playing on a public stage.  She also delves into the predjudice of class distinctions.  As the main characters, Rebekah and Tate face personal challenges they are confronted with their own versions of faith or lack thereof and what it means to follow God with their whole heart.  Dreams and ambitious goals are fought for and then realigned to God's will.  First impressions are shockingly not always what is truth as they get to know each other better and see what is really important in life.  This book was marvelous!

I received this book from the publishers and was not required to write a positive review.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Newcomer by Suzanne Fisher Woods

The Newcomer by Suzanne Woods Fisher

This is a fantastic read!  Ms Fisher is a marvelous historical novelist!  From page one I couldn’t stop reading this book!  I read it all in one day and I can’t wait for the next book in the series to come out!  The story is set in the 1700s when Amish were immigrating to America in hopes of religious freedom.  It is a fascinating story of the different religious sects developing in Pennsylvania during these times.  Through the characters adventures we can compare and contrast the Amish with the Dunkers and Ephrata Community.  The characters bring to life these religious groups that sought peace and a simple way of living.  Bairn and Anna are in love but will love be enough to bridge the differences in their beliefs and desires in this new land?  What makes a good leader?  Is it Jacob’s stalwart face despite glaring obstacles?  Or is it Newman’s take charge charisma?  Does God speak to the individual heart?  Or only to the leader?  Read this book for a wonderful tale that will also help you search your own soul.

I received this book from the Revell publishers.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Shine Like the Dawn by Carrie Turnanksy

This book is an excellent mixture of mystery, romance, suspense and historical drama!  Set in the early 1900s the heroine faces challenges of raising her younger sister while helping her grandmother operate a millinery shop.  There are union riots, threats of strikes, an unsolved mystery of how her father died and a childhood crush that comes back to town.  How all the characters interact and find God's path again after years of misunderstanding, bitterness and sorrow make for a real page turner.  Detail is given to the historical times as well as to the emotional journey one makes through grief and seeing God in the midst of trials.  The spiritual nuggets of truth are woven into the story in a natural way and fit right in with the character's musings and feelings.  The path that the two main characters take separately and then together was very moving.  I liked how the author showed that each had to be strong individually before they could come together in an emotionally healthy way.  I really appreciated the sweet love story that did not include sexual tension.  I've been so tired of that in "christian" romance!  This story instead dwelt on the aspects of learning to trust each other, learning to share even when fearful, learning to be honest, learning to see each other's core values and appreciate each other's strengths.  The descriptions of scenery, homes, town, hats at millinery really added to the story.  But what I enjoyed the most was each character's battle with self to trust fully in God's guidance and how God worked through each person's life.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Baa! Oink! Moo! God Made the Animals by Rhonda Bowler Greene

This is what I'd call a "keeper".  Sweet pictures and sweet words.  They rhymes are brilliant!  Simple yet really show a God who loves us deeply.  One line I really enjoyed was:  "Who makes those birds sing coo...coo...coo?"  "The One who wraps us in His love.  Only God can make a dove."  Lines like these make this book so special and unique.  As the little boy goes through his day on the farm with his favorite animals the reader glimpses God as creator and friend.  It is a lovely book that delighted me and my kindergarten students when I read it to them.

I received this book from the publisher.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

An Uncommon Courtship by Kristi Ann Hunter

WARNING!  If books had ratings like movies do this would be a PG-13!  It had unnecessary descriptions of painful consummation of the marriage.  It dwelt too long on this aspect.  It was actually embarrassing to read the pages about this.  I was shocked!  While the idea of a man wanting to woo and court his wife before consummation was noble.  In the end he consummated the marriage not sure if he really loved her or not because he was still debating what love really was. And then he just ignores her the next day because he doesn’t know how to deal with his feelings of inadequacy. 

The story also plodded along at a slow pace with neither character able to express their true feelings or fears.  I found Trent to be unrealistic because if he was honorable and courageous enough to marry her so she wouldn’t face social ruin why the hesitation about facing her as his wife and getting to really know her.  It made him sound wimpy and immature when he could not decide how to proceed in his marriage.  I’m not talking about physically but rather emotionally.   I was disappointed in this book.  It started out with great promise but ended with a thud.

I received this book from the publishers.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

God Made You Nose to Toes by Leslie Parrott

 I love this book! This is my first time with author Leslie Parrott but it won't be my last.  She has a warmth and tenderness to her prose that really makes for an endearing children's story.  Estelle Corke is the perfect compliment as illustrator for Parrott's heartwarming book.  Each page tells about some part of the child's body that God gave such as eyes to see.  Each page is beautifully illustrated to show what wonders God gives us through our senses such as a "Little nose to smell things that grow" etc.  I really enjoyed the fact that she added a reference to the verse that God loves us so much he counts the hairs on our head.  This is a perfect toddler book!  It teaches the basics nose, eyes, ears, mouth and hands.  It adds interesting things like fingers, knees and teeth.  Adorable little boy and cuddly cute animals fill the pages.

I received this book free from the publishers.

Monday, January 9, 2017

A Moonbow Night by Laura Frantz

This story takes you into the midst of the harsh frontier life during the year 1777.  Much unrest dwelt between settlers and Native Americans wanting to claim the same lands.  To further fuel the discord was the colonists stand to be free of British rule.  While Native Americans were caught in the crossfire of this revolution they were also enlisted on both sides of the battle.  The heroine of this book is Tempe.  She is not your typical damsel in distress.  Tempe is a strong, capable frontiers woman who can shoot, hunt, track, and    guide as well as her brother and father.  Through her loss, trauma, fight for survival and confrontation of her own emotional scars we see early America in all its raw bleakness and beauty. 

I obtained this book free from the publishers.