Under a Summer Sky By Melody Carlson – Book Review

Under a Summer Sky by Melody Carlson

Published by Revell Publishing June 06, 2017

Genre: Romance, Christian

Pages: 160

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

High school art teacher Nicole Anderson is looking forward to a relaxing summer in Savannah, house-sitting and managing an art gallery for a family friend. The house is luxurious in a way that only old money could make it, and the gallery promises interesting days in a gorgeous setting. Yet it isn’t long before her ideal summer turns into more than she bargained for: a snooty gallery employee who’s determined to force her out, a displaced adolescent roosting in the attic, and two of Nicole’s close childhood friends–who also happen to be brothers–vying for her attention.

With a backdrop of a beautiful historical city, incredible architecture, and even an alleged ghost or two, combined with the opportunity for romance . . . anything can happen!

Bestselling and award-winning author Melody Carlson invites readers to spend the summer surrounded by beauty and tantalizing possibilities for the future.

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Story Notes

Melody Carlson brings to her readers a fun and sweet romance that is as lovely as a summer sky in Savannah.

An on-going fan of Ms. Carlson’s I was most happy to see this story come across my reading dashboard. Her wit and sweetness are always wonderful to read and it comes through very well in her books. As it would happen, I was sent this book the day before my family left for a beach vacation and as this is a summertime book I was glad it would be my companion on that trip. Ms. Carlson did not disappoint – this story was really great and I enjoyed getting to know her characters. She begins her tale with a high school Art teacher named Nicole who loves her subject but not teaching it to high-schoolers who are not interested in Art History. Enter her mother, Caroline who has arranged an adventure for her – managing Caroline’s friend Vivian’s art gallery for the summer! Feeling a bit railroaded, Nicole reluctantly agrees (after speaking with Vivian) and makes plans to head to Savannah. Little does she know that this summer will be just the shake up she needs to build her confidence in herself and give her a chance at lasting love. I am always on the hunt for authors that present well developed characters and further, well developed stories. Ms. Carlson is one such author who seeks to totally immerse her readers in the sights, sounds, and smells of the setting so they actually feel they have been to the location of the story. I have put Savannah on my list of places to visit after reading this book and can’t wait to try out the culture and food of that quiet Southern town. How fun it was to walk alongside Nicole as she revisited her childhood vacation town and saw the wonderful changes that were happening. And to find herself the target of not one possible suitor but two! Add to this the “privilege” of helping a hurting teenager find her way through some tough times, the hard work of dealing with an insolent co-worker, the joy of getting to help design the layout of a lavish home and  joining in on several ghost tours in Old Town Savannah and Nicole is bound for a life changing summer. Ms. Carlson also includes spiritual growth for her characters – helping Nicole become confident in the gifts God has given her while still remaining kind to those who are hurtful; helping Ryan to become the contractor he’s sought to be for several years while dealing with his older brother who looks down on him; and helping Bernie (Ryan’s niece) feel loved and stop her parents fighting over with whom and where she belongs. And Ms. Carlson included one of my favorite romance plots – a childhood crush by one character that was annoying to the other character, that finds the good footing of a real love relationship. I love to see this plot played out – it makes for such fun and sarcastic comments that just make the story that much better. I am loathe to include more description of the content as I don’t want to spoil the story for others, but I will certainly be recommending this story to others so they can enjoy it too. I am looking forward to Ms. Carlson’s next book, hoping it will be just as wonderful to read.

I received this E-book free of charge from Revell Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I will receive not fiscal compensation from either company for this review.

The Captain’s Daughter by Jennifer Delamere – Book Review

The Captain’s Daughter by Jennifer Delamere

Published by Bethany House Publishers June 06, 2017

Genre: Christian, Romance

Pages: 209

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

When a series of circumstances beyond her control leave Rosalyn Bernay alone and penniless in London, she chances upon a job backstage at a theater that is presenting the most popular show in London. A talented musician and singer, she feels immediately at home and soon becomes enthralled with the idea of pursuing a career on the stage.

A hand injury during a skirmish in India has forced Nate Moran out of the army until he recovers. Filling his time at a stable of horses for hire in London, he has also spent the past two months working nights as a stagehand, filling in for his injured brother. Although he’s glad he can help his family through a tough time, he is counting the days until he can rejoin his regiment. London holds bitter memories for him that he is anxious to escape. But then he meets the beautiful woman who has found a new lease on life in the very place Nate can’t wait to leave behind.

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Story Notes

Jennifer Delamere’s story of finding home and family, not in a place, but with people is one for which her readers will be saying thanks.

This story was one of those that I read without feeling bored but nevertheless felt like the ending came at a good time. It was not particularly amazing in its plot but I felt the writing was fairly well done with a good vocabulary that lent the story some “yumph”, as William Powell used to say. I can’t say I will ever reread it but I did enjoy the time I spent on this story. Ms. Delamere begins her story with a good heroine named Rosalyn who has had not only her job, but her home stolen from her through a series of deceptive lies. In fear of her life, she sets out to make a new home near her sister Julia, only to discover the fiend who drove her from her home is following her to ensure she goes to prison. Not willing to bring her problems to Julia’s doorstep, Rosalyn heads to London to lose herself in the teaming masses of the sprawling city. But upon arriving there and finding herself robbed of her belongings, Rosalyn becomes desperate to find a respectable job so she can feed and clothe herself. Being offered work backstage at a London theatre is not exactly what she was looking for but Rosalyn cannot afford to be choosy. And as it turns out, God was looking out for her, putting her among people that not only respect her but are most willing to help her use her unbeknownst singing talents to gain better work and wages. Rosalyn also finds a new friend in Nate Moran, a man who will offer her safe escort to and from the theatre as well as a home with his family when Rosalyn is without a home. Nate likes Rosalyn very much and is a quite attracted to her but he is determined to return to his army regiment which is soon to leave for India. He carries a guilty secret that he has resolved to put behind him by sacrificing his life to life-long service of his country. But God has other plans for Nate, ones that also include Rosalyn, if he will simply allow God to redeem his past and give him a future of hope and love. Ms. Delamere’s story had much truth to share and I was glad to see that she confronted many “sins” within these pages. She took on the idea of repayment for past mistakes with a direct method, having several characters voice the truth of God’s forgiveness to Nate so he would find a way to lay aside his guilt and take on the life God had for him. Further she had Rosalyn work on her ability to forgive others who had hurt her in the past and reach out for new and better relationships – allowing her to find a new family with Nate and his relatives. Ms. Delamere examined and dissected other small truths in her story but they are too numerous to give them justice here. She kept her story positive and well-paced and this kept me reading to the end, as I would not have if this had not been the case. I will pass this story on to others, not just for the lessons to be learned but because this was a very nice story to read. I am hoping that Ms. Delamere will write a story about Julia as she was one of my favorite characters in this book. I have a feeling it will be of more interest to me than this one as Julia is a strong person who I’m sure will be quite a force to be reckoned with in the medical field.

I received this E-Book free of charge from Bethany House Publishers via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation from either company for this review.

Fatal Mistake by Susan Sleeman – Book Review

Fatal Mistake by Susan Sleeman

Published by Faithwords/Centerstreet   May 09, 2017

Genre: Mystery/Suspense, Christian

Pages: 305

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

An FBI agent must protect the woman who can identify a terrorist bomber in bestselling author Susan Sleeman’s riveting romantic suspense novel.
Each day could be her last…but not if he can help it.
Tara Parrish is the only person ever to survive an attack by the Lone Wolf bomber. Scared and emotionally scarred by her near death, she goes into hiding with only one plan–to stay alive for another day. She knows he’s coming after her, and if he finds her, he will finish what he started.

Agent Cal Riggins has had only one goal for the past six months–to save lives by ending the Lone Wolf’s bombing spree. To succeed, he needs the help of Tara Parrish, the one person who can lead them to the bomber. Cal puts his all into finding Tara, but once he locates her, he realizes if he can find her, the Lone Wolf can, too. He must protect Tara at all costs, and they’ll both need to resist the mutual attraction growing between them to focus on hunting down the bomber, because one wrong move could be fatal.

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Story Notes

Susan Sleeman’s most recent suspense novel is one that will keep you up at night……because you must know when or if the killer will be caught.

I love to read books that are so realistic that you can almost taste the fear and danger that the characters are experiencing. Ms. Sleeman’s latest story most certainly answers that desire and delivers a chilling race against time to catch a killer who is determined to destroy not only those he believes are traitors to their faith but the one woman who “should have loved him”. Tara Parrish’s life literally explodes when she accidentally stumbles on the workshop of the Lone Wolf Bomber, never dreaming her childhood friend Oren could have become a murderer. Barely escaping with her life, she goes into hiding, praying she can stay one step ahead of the man who has vowed to kill her. Tara’s only problem is that Oren is not the only one looking for her. FBI Special Agent Cal Riggins saved Tara’s life and hopes that she will help him capture the Lone Wolf Bomber before he kills anyone else.But Tara doesn’t want to be found, by Oren or Cal, and  it will take another attempt on her life to help her realize that people are dying because of Oren’s fixation on Tara’s “betrayal” of him. Agent Cal Riggins is frustrated – not only has the Lone Wolf Bomber eluded him for months, but the one person who could help Cal track him down has been hiding from him (very well, mind you) as well. But Cal’s team isn’t touted as the best in the country for no reason. When he finds Tara, he won’t have found the scared, naive woman he rescued months before. Tara has become hardened, both physically and emotionally, and she is not going to come with Cal without a fight. But after Oren tries to kill not only her but Cal and his team, Tara decides she is tired of running and wants this fight finished – whatever that will take. I so enjoyed reading every page of this story! I had it with me on a day that I was running errands that gave me lots of waiting time and I got annoyed each time I had to put it down to go to the next place – it was that good. Ms. Sleeman presents a story that is very relevant to the time in which we live and yet she was able to make it timeless as well with the theme of unrequited love driving someone to cause destruction. The tension that she creates is so palpable I found myself holding my breath on several occasions as I waited to see if Oren would succeed in his terrible tasks. And her main characters were very well developed to give me a sense of walking beside them through the case and actually pondering questions or ideas of possible targets they should consider at times when I wasn’t able to read the book. I further liked the spiritual journey that both Tara and Cal make throughout the story. Given the horror Cal has seen on this case, he’s having a hard time reconciling how God can allow the numerous murders of innocent people. It will take Cal truly trusting in God to help him walk through this case without seeking vengeance rather than justice. Tara knows God cares about her, she’s just not sure she can trust Him, or anyone,to keep her safe from Oren. And her guilt over those who have died during Oren’s search for her make her even less willing to reach out for the help and comfort she isn’t sure she deserves.  One of the main reasons I like to read Ms. Sleeman’s books is her honesty when she describes attraction between two people. While she keeps the content clean, she shows the real emotions and feelings of the characters involved – making it very easy for her readers to connect with them. It is always good when an author shows that professional protectors or agents are human too, not just case focused machines that never feel anything. Not that Cal became consumed by the attraction he felt for Tara but Ms. Sleeman did show his journey to falling in love with Tara, rather than just being physically attracted to her. Tara as well was shown to journey from a place where she had hardened herself against relationships to finding that trusting and loving others is how God designed us to live. And to see that they were both willing to give their lives to save the other just made these characters some of my all-time favorites. The other characters that were featured in the book were also well done. I have a good idea that Ms. Sleeman will continue the story of this team and their cases, but will most likely have each be shown through the individual eyes of the team members. I love reading military or crime series such as this and am looking forward to what Ms. Sleeman will be offering next. I will most certainly be passing this story along to others and hope they will enjoy this fast-paced nail bitter as much as I did.

I received this E-book free of charge from Faithwords/CenterStreet Publishers via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation from either of these companies for this review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Women Who Move Mountains: Praying with Confidence, Boldness and Grace by Sue Detweiler – Book Review

Women Who Move Mountains: Praying with Confidence, Boldness, and Grace by Sue Detweiler

Published by Bethany House Publishers May 02, 2017

Genre: Christian, Devotions

Pages: 256

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

Amid our packed schedules and life’s curveballs, our hearts long for more. We want to live and love well; we want to be a source of joy and life. The good news is that you can–and the secret is found in the simple act of prayer.

Prayer was never meant to be a recitation of requests, but rather a drawing close to the heart of God. When you learn to exchange the obstacles of life for the promises of God, you will pray with passion and confidence rather than fear or insecurity. From this place of surrender and intimacy, you will discover what it means to become a powerful, effective woman of prayer–a woman whose life overflows with springs of living water that transform not only her own life, but the world around her.

With study questions and journaling exercises included, this is the perfect book to go deeper either on your own or with a group.

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Story Notes

Sue Detweiler’s study of prayer beckons you to go deeper into your prayer life than you’ve ever ventured before, forgetting fear and arrogance, to find yourself in a more intimate relationship with the God who calls you to know Him better.

Have you ever read a book and thought “Wow, this has so much truth in it, but I’m just not connecting with how its written”? That was me with this book. I loved the truth Ms. Detweiler shared and felt she was on the mark with what she was teaching, but I just couldn’t get connected with her writing. This frustrates me quite a bit as I know I have much to learn about the greatness of God, that He wants us to get to know Him better, and that is done best through prayer and reading His Word. Being raised in a Christian home, prayer has been a major part of my life since I was a very young child. We prayed at meal times, bedtime, before trips and, most certainly, at church. As I have grown older and am seeking to build my relationship with Jesus every day, I am more frequent and sincere in the prayers that I offer as I see His provision and love in even the smallest happenings. And since I would never say I am an expert at prayer, I thought this book would be a great way to expand my knowledge and seek to pray for myself and others in a more meaningful, respectful way. Yes, I did learn some things and was reminded of others I knew but had been lax in applying, but the writing style hindered me in my learning. I had a hard time identifying with many of the stories she was sharing as those have not been my experience or history. I am also not married which also makes books written by married women hard for me to connect with. The second half of the book was a better fit for me as it was more focused on what I could do with myself rather than what others had done with themselves. When I have to question my motives, thoughts and habits, I find that I can always find ways in which I need to improve or confess wrong doing. So while this book was not to my particular taste I have given it a rating of 4 out of 5 stars because I feel that it still has so much to teach. It may be that this is just the book someone else is looking for and I am to pass it along so that God can use it in their lives. If so, that would be an amazing privilege that I am most thankful for which to be a part. I will certainly recommend this book to others, knowing God can use whatever He chooses to grow them in their spiritual walk. May others find more to connect with and a deeper relationship with God through the truth in these pages.

I received this book free of charge from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation from Bethany House Publishers for this review.

Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble – Book Review

Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble

Published by Thomas Nelson Fiction  July 11, 2017

Genre: Mystery, Christian

Pages: 368 pages

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

Dana has already learned that love isn’t safe . . . but could it be different in Rock Harbor?

As a 911 dispatcher, Dana Newell takes pride in being calm in tough circumstances. In addition to her emotionally-charged career, she’s faced enough emergencies in her own life. She recently escaped her abusive fiancé to move to tranquil Rock Harbor where she hopes life will be more peaceful.

But the idyllic town hides more danger and secrets than it first appeared. Dana is continually drawn to her new friend Boone, who has scars inside and out. Then she answers a call at her job only to hear a friend’s desperate screams on the other end. Soon the pain in her past collides with the mysteries of her new home—and threatens to keep her from the future she’s always wanted.

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Story Notes

Colleen Coble’s return to Rock Harbor brings mystery, danger and enough suspense to keep readers engaged from the first page to the last.

As a long-time fan of Colleen Coble I was excited to return to Rock Harbor with her in her latest story. Rather that keeping the focus on Bree Matthews, nee Nicholls, Ms. Coble chose to have the story told through the eyes of Bree’s friend Dana Newell. There were a few other characters viewpoints added in, mainly that of Boone Carter, but the main story centered around Dana. Dana has come to Rock Harbor in search of peace and safety after her boyfriend, Garrett, attacked and stalked her back in Washington state. She plans to stay with her adoptive brother, Chris, and work as a 911 dispatcher for the area, a job she was happy to be able to continue from her life in Washington. But coming home brings with it much more excitement and danger than Dana has anticipated: from a possible new relationship with Boone, to the presence in town of Garrett who is seeking to get even, to the missing persons/murder case that Dana inadvertently finds herself in the middle of, Ms. Coble includes a wonderfully terrifying number of situations that make you hold your breath until you see how they turn out. I always enjoy a good mystery in which the author uses assumption and distraction to keep the real culprit hidden. I did manage to figure out the guilty person before it was revealed but not too soon, which makes me feel like I “beat” the characters to the right conclusion – which, I’m sure, is Ms. Coble’s clever intention. It was also fun to be ridiculously scared for Dana when she confronted Garrett and later, the killer. If I don’t feel like the characters were in actual danger it makes the book a bit boring, but Ms. Coble definitely strove to keep you glued to the pages of her story to find out “who dunnit?” and why. Ms. Coble also used one of my favorite character building plots – strength training and self-defense. Dana had a lot of fear in her life and had so little confidence in her ability to take care of herself when in danger that I was glad to see her grow strong throughout the story. Boone taught Dana to not only prepare her body to defend herself, but also to use mental and spiritual strength to give her defensive moves the power needed to fight off possible attackers. Dana, in turn, taught Boone to be less-defensive about his past physical and spiritual scars and let others see the kind and helpful side of himself. Dana’s faith in the face of all her problems teaches Boone that God gives strength to those who ask for it and will be there to catch His children when they fall. As their relationship grows, they will find themselves tested to their absolute limits, and thankfully, they come out even stronger both individually and as a couple. I was further glad to see that Lauri finally realized that she’s not as smart as she thinks she is, especially when it comes to men. She’s had some rough years and done some growing up in the past couple of books but I hope Ms. Coble is finally going to have her take time to mature a little in her ability to read people and in her spiritual life. Perhaps the next book will tell more of her story – one can always hope! The only problem I find with a good book such as this is that it ends before I’m ready to be finished. I’ve really loved the Rock Harbor series so far and hope Ms. Coble will be adding more books very soon. I will definitely recommend both the series and this book in particular to others, hoping they will enjoy it as much as I did.

I received this E-book free of charge from Thomas Nelson Fiction via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation from either company for this review.

 

 

 

 

Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh – Book Review

Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh

Published by Tyndale House Publishers July 04, 2017

Genre: Fiction, Romance, Christian

Pages: 416

Rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

After tirelessly climbing the ranks of her Chicago-based interior design firm, Lane Kelley is about to land her dream promotion when devastating news about her brother draws her back home―a quaint tourist town full of memories she’d just as soon forget. With her cell phone and laptop always within reach, Lane aims to check on her brother while staying focused on work―something her eclectic family doesn’t understand.

Ryan Brooks never expected to settle down in Harbor Pointe, Michigan, but after his final tour of duty, it was the only place that felt like home. Now knee-deep in a renovation project that could boost tourism for the struggling town, he is thrilled to see Lane, the girl he secretly once loved, even if the circumstances of her homecoming aren’t ideal.

Their reunion gets off to a rocky start, however, when Ryan can’t find a trace of the girl he once knew in the woman she is today. As he slowly chips away at the walls Lane has built, secrets from his past collide with a terrible truth even he is reluctant to believe. Facing a crossroads that could define his future with Lane and jeopardize his relationship with the surrogate family he’s found in the Kelleys, Ryan hopes Lane can see that maybe what really matters has been right in front of her all along―if only she’d just look up.

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Story Notes

Courtney Walsh’s newest novel is a truly wonderful read that makes readers consider just how absorbed they are with their “to-do” list and whether they need to take a moment to “just look up” from their devices and enjoy the life around them.

This is the first non-mystery/crime book I have really enjoyed in a long time. I am sure that others will raise their hands along with mine that when we have a job or project to finish we become so focused on it that everything else, including our families and friends, becomes secondary. Not that its a good thing but its the truth, and this truth is the main theme of Ms. Walsh’s latest story. (My review is outlined a little differently than the book as much of the early story is told in flashbacks) Lane Kelley is an extremely successful interior designer who works in Chicago. She has spent the last seven long years working to build a name for herself and her employer J. B. Sweet and if she can land her latest potential client she will achieve her dream – Creative Director of the company. Before she can officially meet with said client, a call from her hometown leaves her scrambling to reschedule her calendar and head back to her childhood home. Her older brother Nate has had a serious motorcycle accident and is in a coma. Dreading going home to see the family who she believes betrayed her and never really loved her, Lane decides that as Nate was the only one who always made time for her she will go for a few days to make sure he will recover before coming back to grab her clients before someone else does. I loved the start of this book, knowing there would be so much that would have to be examined and deep dived for this story to turn out well with completeness. Ms. Walsh presented a situation that is often the case for those who feel they don’t fit in with their family – that no one is on their side and they are far from lovable. Lane’s struggle to fit in was not only emotional but physical as well. She was the only child in her family that was overweight and not the least athletically inclined. Unfortunately dubbed “Pudge” by those around her, Lane lives her entire childhood with extremely low self esteem and few friends. One of those friends is Ryan Brooks, a boy from the other side of the tracks who is taken in, along with his sister, by Lane’s family when their alcoholic father tries to hurt them. As they grow up together both Ryan and Lane slowly begin to the see the other in a new light, one that could lead to a deeper relationship. But after an embarrassing game of truth or dare with the other kids from town the summer before senior year, Lane believes Ryan would never see her as “girlfriend material”. Spending her last year in high school incredibly focused on her grades and getting into Northwestern University with scholarships, Lane hides her hurt and looks forward to the day she can put the town and all those she knows in her rear-view mirror. Ryan regrets hurting Lane but can’t find a way to make it right since she avoids him very well. After graduation he enters the military seeking direction and discipline in his life and will find friends and family there he never thought he’d find outside of the Kelley family.  When he returns after his required overseas tours and discovers his father is still the raging alcoholic he always was, Ryan decides to live near the Kelleys in Harbor Pointe and seek a business degree. Acquiring the dilapidated Cedar Grove lakeside community and turning the cottages into a big tourist draw allows Ryan to use his business know how and still put in the physical labor he loves.  Lane, meanwhile, finds solace in her studies at Northwestern and a new found love of fitness, transforming herself into the person she wants everyone else to see – successful in all areas of life. She meets a man named Jasper who likes her for who she is and quickly becomes engaged. But once again, Lane finds herself facing disappointment and heartache when her sister, Lindsey, both sleeps with and marries Jasper, and her family does nothing to stand up for her. Determined to have nothing further to do with them, Lane takes on more classes and remains in Chicago after graduation to make her way alone, vowing to never return to Harbor Pointe. Having done some of the same things when I went to school myself, I found myself identifying with Lane in several ways – with the weight issues, the drive to be the best in my studies, and to be seen as a person who was successful in all that I did. I learned much quicker than Lane that success is not determined by awards, degrees or clothing size. Yes, its good to be healthy, exercise and do your best in all pursuits, but not being the top of the list doesn’t mean you failed. Ms. Walsh has Lane learn many painful lessons in this book but my favorite two she learned was that one: although it was painful to “lose” her fiance to her sister, Jasper turns out to be a very selfish, egotistical man who is nothing like the man(Ryan) God has for her, and, two: that slowing down and really living life with those around you is the best way to live. It was good to see that Ms. Walsh had Lane stand up for herself and tell Lindsey to show her real repentance by ensuring that her marriage to Jasper does not fall apart. And while she had hoped to hear the words of apology before, Lane realizes that God took care of both her and those who hurt her, all while keeping her heart safe for a better love. Lane despised the “sleepy” town she grew up in for years because it reminds her of all the ways she believes she failed to be what everyone expected of her. When she finds her health in crisis after the stress of her job becomes too much, she quits her job and agrees to come home and work with Ryan on his Cedar Grove community project. Through their working together to make the cottages perfect in time for Ryans military friend’s families to stay, they will both find forgiveness, peace and a love that never really died. I just loved how Ms. Walsh brought the two of them together and showed that forgiveness is necessary if one seeks true healing in their relationships. My only issue with the entire book was that Ms. Walsh didn’t really address how Lane’s mother treated her – both as a child and as an adult. Instead of defending her daughter against those who bullied her as a child, Dottie Kelley tells her “they didn’t really mean it”. That is extremely hurtful to a child when their parent is not their defender, not to extremes of course, but especially when their physical appearance is different from everyone else. Dottie should have helped Lane find confidence in her own abilities and looks rather than telling her “I told you you shouldn’t have worn/done that”. The worst however was when she didn’t actively pursue her daughter when she found out about Lindsey and Jasper. My mother would have broken down the door to comfort and help me if someone did that do me, even if it was a sibling. So while I would have liked to have seen more contrition from Dottie, I still really loved this book. I will most certainly be recommending this book to others; its one I know I will be re-reading as well.

I received this book free of charge from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation from Tyndale House Publishers for this review.

The Chapel Car Bride by Judith Miller – Book Review

The Chapel Car Bride by Judith Miller

Published by Bethany House Publishers April 04, 2017

Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian

Pages: 340

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

With her penchant for seeing the best in everyone, Hope Irvine sees a world full of good people in hard places. When her father accepts a position traveling in a chapel car as an on-the-rail missionary, she is determined to join him in his efforts and put her musical skills to good use by serving the mining families of West Virginia, saving their souls, and bettering their lives.

Luke Hughes shares Hope’s love of music and her love of God, but as a poor miner he knows he can offer her no future. Still, the notes she sings resonate in his heart. When she begins to travel with a young mine manager to neighboring counties, Luke can hardly suppress his jealousy. It isn’t until he begins to suspect these missions of mercy might be the mine manager’s cover for illegal purposes, though, that Luke feels justified in speaking up. But how can he discover the truth without hurting Hope or, worse, putting her in danger?

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Story Notes

Judith Miller’s newest story takes a look back at a time when coal mining towns in West Virginia were plentiful and missionaries were preachers and their families who did whatever it took to share Jesus with those in rural areas.

In all honesty, I probably would not give this book 3 out of 5 stars merely on its plot or story telling alone –  I found it very predictable and boring. However, I am giving it a higher rating because I like the idea that was presented. It was extremely interesting to me that this man and his daughter would give up a very comfortable living in Pittsburgh to travel to remote areas of West Virginia to share the love of Jesus. And not only did they travel there, they lived in a rail car with very cramped living quarters! I’m not one for small spaces myself, but I found myself wondering if I would be willing to do the same if called by God to go. My hope is that my answer would be yes, but I would definitely have to make some adjustments to living in such a small area. Now I must tell you my honest opinions of the story itself. To be completely fair I will say that the writing was well done with a good variety of vocabulary, this was a good surprise. The plot, on the other hand, was dreadfully predictable and boring to me. I had the story totally figured out by the hundredth page and I had to force myself to read to the end of the book – that is never a good thing. It reminded me most keenly of the multitudinous Hallmark movies I have seen, which, in themselves, are nice but are ever so predictable. I am a reader who enjoys a good story that is well told and includes unexpected turns or thoughts, so its hard when I get a story that is missing these elements. Ms. Miller has written many books and I know she has a loyal fan base but I doubt I will ever be one of them. Another big issue I had with this story was the characters themselves: Hope was one of the inexperienced women I’ve ever read about! Her naivete was so incredibly deep that she was completely blinded by a smooth talker. My parents didn’t raise me to be a cynic but they did teach me caution and wisdom – something Hope’s father, Reverend Irvine, failed to do. I think this was the point of Ms. Miller’s story, but I found Hope’s ignorance to be rather extreme. Luke Hughes was a better character but still seemed to be rather two dimensional. His brashness and cynicism are to be expected from a man who has seen his family taken advantage of his whole life, but Ms. Miller made his ire random and inconsistent, making his  character appear under developed. Kirby Finch was a grown man who acted like a spoiled brat the whole time. Clearly his father overindulged him but his total brattiness was annoying to me. Usually “men” like that find that intimidation works best to keep people in line. But as he was a smaller built character he resorted to bandying words. Ms. Miller should have spent more time developing his vocabulary as he would have had better speech patterns given his upbringing in private schools. So while this book might be of better interest to some, it was definitely not a favorite for me. I will not be recommending this book to others except if they profess an interest in missionary endeavors of the early 20th century.

I received this book free of charge from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation from Bethany House Publishers for this review.

Sorry!!!!

Hello Everyone,

I am sorry I have been lax in posting in a while – I have been on vacation the past two weeks and there was no real wifi to use for writing and posting. I promise to make up for that missed time with some more frequent posts over the next few weeks.

I’ve got quite a list stored up in my files of new books to read but I’m always looking for ones that you’ve read that you’d like to see reviewed. If you have a favorite, let me know and I’ll see about getting it on my blog soon.

Thanks for all your kind thoughts and support!

 

The Most Misused Stories In The Bible – Surprising Ways Popular Bible Stories Are Misunderstood by Eric J. Bargerhuff – Book Review

The Most Misused Stories In The Bible – Surprising Ways Popular Bible Stories Are Misunderstood by Eric J. Bargerhuff

Published by Bethany House Publishers April 18, 2017

Genre: Christian Study, Religion and Spirituality

Pages: 160

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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Publishers Description

A surprising number of popular Bible stories are commonly misused or misunderstood, even by well-intentioned Christians. In this concise yet thorough book, Eric J. Bargerhuff helps you fully understand the meaning of David and Goliath, Jonah and the Big Fish, the Woman Caught in Adultery, and other well-known Bible stories.

Providing fascinating historical and scriptural insights, Bargerhuff helps you sort through modern-day distortions of fourteen well-known Bible stories and grasp their original meaning and purpose for us today.

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Story Notes

Eric J. Bargerhuff’s in depth look at fourteen of the most popular Bible stories that Christians study will make readers stop and consider how they view and understand the real context of the passages in question.

 

How often do we hear the story of David and Goliath or the Nativity story of the Wise Men coming from the East at Christmas and think, “I know this story so well I could tell it without reading it out of the Bible!”? And yet, have we really considered carefully the context of these and other oft-read passages in our Bibles? Have you, like me, been told or personally read a passage, thought you had the narrative completely learned and then discovered you had the actual point of the story wrong? Mr. Bargerhuff has taken on the challenge of helping Christians understand the real lessons to be learned from fourteen of the most popular passages of Scripture. My pastor has studied many of the stories Mr. Bargerhuff discusses in his book and has taught us many of the same lessons, but it was wonderful for me to review those and learn several lessons that I hadn’t considered before with other passages. For instance, the book of Jonah is not really about Jonah. Rather – as Mr. Bargerhuff points out – it is about the unending mercy and grace of a God who pursues us endlessly. If one thinks of the attitude of Jonah throughout the entirety of the book, you will see that he not only keeps his bad attitude towards the Ninevites but remains unreconciled to God from page one to the last word. And while the miracle of Jonah surviving in the belly of a “Big Fish” is certainly attention grabbing, that is not the true miracle of this book. God is being merciful to a non-Hebrew people that He could have simply destroyed as He had others who refused to acknowledge Him as God. And while Jonah was a Hebrew who followed God, he thought that God was allowing “heathens” mercy they shouldn’t be allowed. He rebelled against God the entire book and even when he told others the words God had sent him to say, he still did not believe that the Ninevites deserved to be saved from destruction. How like God to not only show mercy to those who don’t deserve it (ie all of us) but to reach more people than He might originally have said He was going to save. We see this happen to the men that were on the ship that Jonah had sailed away in towards Tarshish – when they find faith in God when confronted with the power of God during the storm that calmed when they obeyed Jonah’s words to them from God. I loved to read that in spite of all that Jonah did against the mission of God to the Ninevites, God did not forsake Jonah. He repeatedly showed him mercy and continued to teach him of His Grace that is available to all who would believe. This is only one of the passages that Mr. Bargerhuff dissects and I truly enjoyed seeing these passages in a fresh way with new perspective. The only thing that would have made it better would have been if I had read the passage in question immediately before reading the chapter expounding on it. This was my fault really, and I will not lower my rating based on this minute lapse in study. I plan to highly recommend this book to friends and family as I believe they will find it interesting to study these passages further as I did. I look forward to finding more works by Mr. Bargerhuff and hope he will publish a new study soon.

 

I received this book free of charge from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation from this company for this review.

 

Drawn In Bible Study “Esther – Finding Yourself in Times of Trouble” by Eugene H. Peterson/The Navigators – Book Review

Drawn In Bible Study “Esther – Finding Yourself in Times of Trouble”

Published By NavPress/Tyndale House Publishers  June 20, 2017

Genre: Devotionals, Personal Growth

Pages: 80

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

Color with Friends. Be Drawn In to Scripture.
An unlikely queen. A murderous enemy. A miraculous turnaround. The story of Esther is breathtaking. Through study, coloring, and conversation, discover how to find your voice and grow your faith during times of trouble.

Deepen your friendships as you gather around Scripture for coloring and conversation. Drawn In offers simple four-week Bible studies—perfect for groups or personal devotions. Coloring quiets your heart and mind so you can enter fully into Scripture’s stories. The Bible’s passion and personality come through in The Message, surprising new and old Bible readers alike. Discover the delight of being Drawn In.

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Story Notes

Eugene Peterson partners up with The Navigators to bring a new and really fun way to study the book of Esther with a coloring book bible study!

Although I have not previously done a Bible study written by Eugene Peterson or The Navigators, I was really excited to do this study as it included two of my favorites: the book of Esther and coloring. I was a little apprehensive about how in depth the study would be as it seemed to be such a short book, however I found that Peterson and the Navigators had been careful not to neglect the importance of the actual study while offering the fun addition of an adult coloring book. It was really wonderful to ponder the Bible passage and questions to be answered while I colored the accompanying pages. I found that I spent longer considering the passage I read each day when I took the time to color the picture attached to the questions I was to answer. Add to this the relaxation that coloring brings to the mind and body and this was a perfect study for me. I was also very pleased with the actual study that was presented. The questions were very pointed and as I had to ponder them longer I found myself truly searching for what I would have said or done in a situation or recalling what I had done in the past. I have done studies on the book of Esther before but this study focused itself on the reasons why each of the characters acted in a certain way and if you agreed with their response or if you would have acted differently. It was thought provoking to consider how I would handle becoming the wife of a “heathen” king who was easily led by those around him. Another question that I found interesting was how I would have handled Haman and his evil intents while not being vengeful. So often we read a book or passage of scripture we have read several times before and yet never placed ourselves in the situation and considered if we would answer God’s calling in the same way. Peterson also pointed out an interesting happening in this powerful little book: God is not overtly seen or spoken of at all in the whole book, rather He is in the background, working and showing His children how to follow Him by serving. I had not realized this happening before and it gave me a new interest as I read to search out the subtle ways I could see God working in each situation that was included in Esther. I really enjoyed doing this study and coloring the pages that went with each chapter. I have already recommended it to several of my friends and am planning to purchase a copy for family members for either birthday or Christmas presents. I am also looking forward to purchasing the Drawn In study on the book of Ruth  as well as the study on Mary, the mother of Jesus, as I believe they will be just as good or better than this one has been.

I received a free copy of this book from NavPress/Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation from either company for this review.