For the Love of Literature

For the Love of Literature

As a bibliophile, my passion for books coalesces with a love of writing, and writing book reviews allows me to share literature with the world.

Review
4 Stars
Marisol: Spanish Rose Review and GIVEAWAY!

 

About the Book


Book: Marisol Spanish Rose

Author: Elva Cobb Martin

Genre:  Christian Historical Romance

Release Date: November 8, 2019

Escaping to the New World is her only option…Rescuing her will wrap the chains of the Inquisition around his neck.

Marisol Valentin flees Spain after murdering the nobleman who molested her. She ends up for sale on the indentured servants’ block at Charles Town harbor—dirty, angry, and with child. Her hopes are shattered, but she must find a refuge for herself and the child she carries. Can this new land offer her the grace, love, and security she craves? Or must she escape again to her only living relative in Cartagena?

Captain Ethan Becket, once a Charles Town minister, now sails the seas as a privateer, grieving his deceased wife. But when he takes captive a ship full of indentured servants, he’s intrigued by the woman whose manners seem much more refined than the average Spanish serving girl. Perfect to become governess for his young son. But when he sets out on a quest to find his captured sister, said to be in Cartagena, little does he expect his new Spanish governess to stow away on his ship with her six-month-old son. Yet her offer of help to free his sister is too tempting to pass up. And her beauty, both inside and out, is too attractive for his heart to protect itself against—until he learns she is a wanted murderess.

As their paths intertwine on a journey filled with danger, intrigue, and romance, only love and the grace of God can overcome the past and ignite a new beginning for Marisol and Ethan.



Click HERE to get your copy!
 

About the Author

 

 

Elva Cobb Martin is a wife, mother, and grandmother who lives in South Carolina with her husband and a mini-dachshund. A life-long student of history, her favorite city, Charleston, inspires her stories of romance and adventure. Her love of writing grew out of a desire to share exciting stories of courageous characters and communicate truths of the Christian faith to bring hope and encouragement. Connect with her on her web site at http://www.elvamartin.com.  

 

 

More from Elva

 

A couple of things inspired me to write Marisol ~ Spanish Rose, in addition to my love of historical romance fiction set in the colonial/pirate era of Charles Town and the Spanish Main.
 
I ran across a teaching of how people often let the one terrible moment of their lives define them and their future. Know anyone like this?



I envisioned a heroine in the 1700’s who let her “terrible moment”—being molested and accidentally killing the Spanish nobleman who attacks her—define her and her future destiny.
 
My premise for this idea and novel is: Love, forgiveness, and determination can overcome the most horrifying experiences and poor choices when we invite God into the equation.
 
Loving horses, particularly the white Lipizzaners, I named my heroine Marisol and set the attack on her father’s Andalusian Stud Farm in Cadiz, Spain in 1740. Andalusians are the Spanish horses in the ancestry of the Lipizzaners. And they can be trained to do dancing steps with a dancing maiden called the Flamenco, which my heroine can do well. Click here for a video of a flamenco dancer. https://youtu.be/lSQWQl0u_Ow
 
Marisol’s exciting Flamenco plays a pivotal part in the novel.
 
All this story idea needed now was an exciting, handsome Charles Town privateer—sometimes pirate—who will cross paths with my heroine when she flees Spain after killing the Spanish nobleman who molested her.
 
Captain Ethan Becket, backslidden former Charles Town minister, has returned to the sea, grieving the loss of his wife and child.



By the time these two get together at the indentured block in Charles Town, Marisol has discovered she is with child. Thanks for stopping by! May you have an exciting, romantic adventure on the high seas with Captain Ethan and Marisol.

 

My Review

 

Several things drew me to this book. It is the first in Elva Cobb Martin’s new Charleston Brides series, and when possible, I like to start at the beginning of a series. It is also set during the Colonial era, which I always enjoy reading about, and the book summary sounded interesting. Had I not been given the opportunity to review it, I probably would not have picked this one up, and as I have mentioned before, this is one of the best parts of being a book reviewer. I try to challenge myself to read outside my standard categories and hopefully learn something and discover new (to me, at least) Christian authors. This book delivered on all counts.

“She’d killed him, but she’d had no choice.”

Immediately, Martin seizes the reader’s attention with the opening scene of “Marisol: Spanish Rose”. Sexual assault and a murder force 18-year-old Marisol Valentin to flee her native Spain, although her plans go awry and she finds herself bound in indentured servitude to Captain Ethan Becket in Charles Town, South Carolina. Becket, a former Presbyterian minister and native of England, now makes his living as a privateer. Haunted by the death of his wife, he hopes to rescue his captured sister, following up on a lead that she is in Cartagena. As Marisol’s and Ethan’s courses become increasingly intertwined, the stakes rise higher and they realize that they need each other’s help, but even more so, they need God’s.

Overall, my impressions of this book are positive. Martin crafts a redemptive story that is different from any Christian fiction I have previously read because of the setting and characters. The tension between Catholicism and Protestantism is clear, and it was interesting to see how this plays out in America, England, and Spain, with the Spanish Inquisition also factoring in here. Add to that seemingly antithetical main characters, with Marisol being Catholic and Ethan a Lutheran convert, both of whom have wavered in their faith, and the action never ceases. This latter point is, however, the issue that I had with the narrative. The beginning chapters seem rushed, with gaps in time and events mentioned after the fact without much, if any, detail. Although I hoped that this was would change after the first few chapters, it continued throughout the book. I understand not writing a Dickensian description, but I did feel jarred at many of the time lapses and was disappointed at the lack of details for some of the events that transpire. Nevertheless, “Marisol: Spanish Rose” is a stimulating read that explores the consequences of polarization, particularly among Christians, and reminds us of the one true God and the undying power of His forgiveness and love.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.


Blog Stops

 

Bigreadersite , November 15

Emily Yager, November 15

Connect in Fiction, November 16

Rebecca Tews , November 16

Moments, November 17

For Him and My Family, November 17

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, November 18

Genesis 5020, November 18

For the Love of Literature, November 19

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, November 19

Betti Mace, November 20

mpbooks, November 20

Back Porch Reads, November 21

Maureen’s Musings, November 21

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 22

Pause for Tales , November 23

Batya’s Bits, November 23

Reflections From My Bookshelves, November 24

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, November 24

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 25

Godly Book Reviews, November 25

Inklings and notions , November 26

janicesbookreviews, November 26

Texas Book-aholic, November 27

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 27

A Reader’s Brain, November 28

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Elva is giving away a vintage nautical writing journal and a $20 Amazon gift card!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

Review
4 Stars
Smoke Screen Review
 

About the Book


Book: Smoke Screen

Author: Terri Blackstock

Genre:  Christian Suspense

Release Date: November 5, 2019

One father was murdered, and another convicted of his death. All because their children fell in love.

Nate Beckett has spent his life fighting wildfires instead of the lies and rumors that drove him from his Colorado home town. His mother begs him to come to Carlisle now that his father has been released from prison, but it isn’t until he’s sidelined by an injury that he’s forced to return and face his past. But that means facing Brenna too.

Fourteen years ago, Nate was in love with the preacher’s daughter. When Pastor Strickland discovered Brenna had defied him to sneak out with Nate, the fight between Strickland and Nate’s drunken dad was loud—and very public. Strickland was found murdered later that night, and everyone accused Roy Beckett. When the church burned down, people assumed it was Nate getting even for his father’s conviction. He let the rumors fly and left Carlisle without looking back.

Now, Brenna is stunned to learn that the man convicted of murdering her father has been pardoned. The events of that night set her life on a bad course, and she’s dealing with a brutal custody battle with her ex and his new wife where he’s using lies and his family’s money to sway the judge. She’s barely hanging on, and she’s turned to alcohol to cope. Shame and fear consume her.

As they deal with the present—including new information about that fateful night and a wildfire that’s threatening their town—their past keeps igniting. Nate is the steady force Brenna has so desperately needed. But she’ll have to learn to trust him again first.



Click HERE to get your copy.
   

About the Author

 


Terri Blackstock has sold over seven million books worldwide and is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author. She is the award-winning author of InterventionVicious Cycle, and Downfall, as well as such series as Cape Refuge, Newpointe 911, the SunCoast Chronicles, and the Restoration Series. Visit her website at www.terriblackstock.com
Facebook: tblackstock
Twitter: @terriblackstock
 

 

 

 

 

Excerpt from Smoke Screen

 

I woke up in a blinding bright room, my clothes off and something clamped to my face. I tried to reach it, but I couldn’t bend my right arm, and my hand stung. An IV was taped to my other hand, but I moved carefully and touched the thing over my face.
 
An oxygen mask. I tried to sit up. “What happened?”
 
T-bird came to my bedside, a sheen of smoky sweat still soiling his face. “Nate, lie back, man.”
 
“The fire,” I said. “Need to get back. My men.”
 
“They’re still there. Making progress. But you’re not going anywhere near a fire for a month or so.”
 
I took the mask off and coughed a little, but managed to catch my breath. “A month?”
 
“Yep. Second degree burns on 20 percent of your body. Some of the burns are deep.”
 
It came back to me, the event that had gotten me here.
 
“The family. Were they injured?”
 
“Not a scratch or burn. Turns out it was a U.S. Senator from Kansas. He says you’re a hero.”
 
“You know I had no choice. They were in the path—”
 
“Take the praise where you can get it, man. We don’t get that much.”
 
I looked at my right side. My right arm was bandaged, and so was my side and down my right leg to the point where my boots had stopped the flames. Second degree wasn’t so bad, I told myself. Third degree would have been brutal. I’d be able to leave the hospital soon. I’d heal.
 
“I won’t need a month,” I said.
 
“Yes, you will. They can’t let you go back. Doctor’s orders. You’re grounded until he releases you.”
 
I managed to sit up, but it was a bad idea. The burns pulling on my skin reminded me why I shouldn’t. “I can’t be grounded during fire season. Are you crazy? I need to be there. You don’t have enough men as it is.”
 
“Sorry, Nate. It is what it is. Why don’t you go home to Carlisle for a while? Take it easy.”
 
Go home? Pop had just been pardoned, and he and my mom were trying to navigate the reunion. Though she would love to have me home, I didn’t know if I was up to it. My father could be challenging, and fourteen years of prison hadn’t done him any favors.
 
Taken from “Smoke Screen” by Terri Blackstock. Copyright © 2019 by Terri Blackstock. Used by permission of http://www.thomasnelson.com/.
 
 

My Review

 

Although many of the books I review fall into the historical fiction and nonfiction genres, I have always loved mysteries and suspense. I grew up with The Boxcar Children, Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, and Mandie, so when a review opportunity for Christian suspense comes along, I don’t even have to think twice. I read Terri Blackstock’s “If I Run” series as it was released and enjoyed all three books, and I was excited to see “Smoke Screen” hit shelves. I was also happy to note that it does contain discussion questions at the end to facilitate conversation and reflection.

By the time “Smoke Screen” reached the top of my stack of books to read for review, I was ready to dive in. After reading chapter one, I began to doubt whether I was going to like this book. The mystery angle was fairly interesting, if predictable, but the family drama honestly grated on my nerves. Even though I’m not much of a romance reader, I did enjoy Brenna and Nate’s blossoming relationship. The firefighting aspect was informative and interesting to learn about. Nate was my favorite character not only because of what he had overcome since his teenage years, but also because of the way he overcame—by going to therapy and to church. Romans 8:37 rang in my mind: “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Jesus has already won the ultimate victory, and when we ask Him into our hearts, that victory becomes ours, too, no matter what we face in this life.

Many of the reasons that I didn’t engage with this book as much as I was expecting to are my issues and not the author’s. Alcoholism and divorce both play a major role in this story, and I am not a fan of reading about either, but they are undeniably prevalent in society today, and Blackstock writes about these issues well and in a clean manner, which I think is so important. Brenna’s ex-husband and his family had me shaking my head every time they entered the narrative, which was no doubt the author’s intent. Blackstock creates convincing characters and situations that evoke empathy and are thought-provoking. By alternating between Brenna and Nate’s first-person viewpoints, she gives readers insight into how trauma affects our reasoning and our faith—sometimes for the better, sometimes not. I appreciated how, in one scene, Brenna helped Nate to see his mom in a different light. One particular conversation between them, though, really tugged at my heartstrings:
“But I’m not the same person I used to be. You probably won’t like me once you get to know me.”
“Oh, you’re still the same,” he said. “You’re just a little burned. But trust me. Burns heal.”

The underlying message of “Smoke Screen” is one of perseverance and hope, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. With a faith element that is gentle, this story speaks to the everlasting love of God and His pursuit of us, drawing us into relationship with Him and through the cleansing refiner’s fire.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.


Blog Stops

 

As He Leads is Joy, November 9

Sara Jane Jacobs, November 9

CarpeDiem, November 9

Christian Bookaholic , November 9

Fiction Aficionado, November 10

KarenSueHadley, November 10

Quiet quilter, November 10

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 10

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, November 11

Among the Reads, November 11

Genesis 5020, November 11

A Reader’s Brain, November 11

Robin’s Nest, November 12

All-of-a-kind Mom, November 12

Bigreadersite , November 12

Blogging With Carol , November 12

Betti Mace, November 13

Spoken from the Heart, November 13

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, November 13

Emily Yager, November 13

By The Book, November 14

For Him and My Family, November 14

A Baker’s Perspective, November 14

Splashes of Joy , November 14

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, November 15

Through the Fire Blogs, November 15

Andrea Christenson, November 15

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, November 16

The Christian Fiction Girl, November 16

Just the Write Escape, November 16

Mary Hake, November 16

Remembrancy, November 17

Simple Harvest Reads, November 17 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

EmpowerMoms, November 17

Bloggin’ ’bout Books, November 17

Blessed & Bookish, November 18

Older & Smarter, November 18

For the Love of Literature, November 18

Inklings and notions, November 18

Lights in a Dark World, November 19

amandainpa , November 19

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 19

Pause for Tales, November 19

Tell Tale Book Reviews, November 20

For The Love of Books , November 20

Hallie Reads, November 20

Cathe Swanson, November 21

Christian Bookshelf Reviews, November 21

All 4 and About Books, November 21

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 21

Batya’s Bits, November 22

Livin’ Lit, November 22

Texas Book-aholic, November 22

janicesbookreviews, November 22

 

Review
5 Stars
There is Hope for the Hopeless
Words of Hope for Women - Larsen,  Carolyn

In an effort to deliver a clear analysis of this book for potential readers, and because it is very similar to “Words of Comfort for Women” by the same author, my review here will include the same information as my review for the latter, with some details changed to reflect the different focus between the two devotionals.

Within the wide variety of Christian devotionals, there is an offering for just about every need. As with Bible reading plans, selecting one depends upon specific needs and focuses. Whereas reading the Bible in a year or straight through from Genesis to Revelation may suit one person, another’s heart may be craving the particular message in a certain book of the Bible or spending more time digging deeper. The same can be said of devotional materials. What a blessing to have such a diverse yet Bible-based selection available!

Carolyn Larsen’s “Words of Hope for Women” ministers to the heart of the woman who is disheartened and discouraged. Each of the 90 readings is brief yet gratifyingly concise and delineated by numbers rather than by days or dates. As such, it is appropriate as a daily devotional or as a reference to pick up on difficult days for comfort and encouragement. Its compact size also makes it easy to fit into a purse or handbag. For the purpose of this review, I read it in large sections, and that works as well, truly giving a godly confidence boost! Beginning with a Scripture verse, each reading has a title, which is quite handy for locating whatever may be on your heart at the time. Every Scripture also clearly connects to the reading, and most are well-known, comfortably-familiar verses that remind us of God’s truth. I did appreciate that there are some verses taken from the Old Testament, because while the New Testament may be more noticeably hopeful, the Old Testament also contains great hope as it points toward and leads up to Jesus, the greatest hope of all.

While I recommended “Words of Comfort” foremost to women whose walk with the Lord has had time to grow and mature, I feel that “Words of Hope” is fit for both established and new Christians. “Words of Hope” is more firmly tied to Biblical accounts rather than more broad, inherently understood truths, which lends to it being more easily grasped because readers can refer to specific stories in the Bible itself. Also, there is a greater emphasis on the foundational theme of hope, both in the titles of the readings themselves and as a continuing concept throughout. This begins with the title of the first reading, “Hope of Heaven”, which is so fitting because that is what we long for and that is what Jesus died to give us. Our hope begins and finds its fulfillment in Jesus and His sacrifice. All we have to do is accept it, and Larsen provides a great summation of this: “Without trust there is no hope. Without relationship there is no trust…Keep your hope level high as you trust the One who promises to help you.” “Words of Hope” will encourage you and inspire you to “Depend on God. Talk to him. Tell him what you need and go forward with courage knowing that he is protecting you!”

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell and was under no obligation to post a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Review
5 Stars
Rise Up Women of the Truth, Stand and Sing to Broken Hearts
Words of Comfort for Women - Larsen,  Carolyn

Within the wide variety of Christian devotionals, there is an offering for just about every need. As with Bible reading plans, selecting one depends upon specific needs and focuses. Whereas reading the Bible in a year or straight through from Genesis to Revelation may suit one person, another’s heart may be craving the particular message in a certain book of the Bible or spending more time digging deeper. The same can be said of devotional materials. What a blessing to have such a diverse yet Bible-based selection available!

Carolyn Larsen’s “Words of Comfort for Women” ministers to the heart of the woman who is overwhelmed. Even the book’s design reflects this, with each of the 90 readings brief yet gratifyingly concise and delineated by numbers rather than by days or dates. As such, it is appropriate as a daily devotional or as a reference to pick up on difficult days for comfort and encouragement. For the purpose of this review, I read it in large sections, and that works as well, truly giving a godly confidence boost! Beginning with a Scripture verse, each reading has a title, which is quite handy for locating whatever may be on your heart at the time. Every Scripture also clearly connects to the reading, and most are well-known, comfortably-familiar verses that remind us of God’s truth.

Women who would most benefit from and appreciate “Words of Comfort” include seasoned Christians who have matured in their faith. This is not to say that new Christians shouldn’t read it, but only that it seems to be geared toward those who are already familiar with the Bible and the Gospel message. Without a firm foundation of faith, I think that it would be more difficult to reap the full impact of the comfort it offers. Throughout these readings, Larsen emphasizes the Lord’s heart toward us: “He’s with you, offering strength, guidance, and comfort. Talk to him. Tell him how you’re feeling. Ask for his help.” The content is truly a soothing balm, but there is nothing particularly revelatory—again because its purpose is to encourage more so than to formally instruct. This devotional is meant to supplement regular Bible reading, as there is no inbuilt daily reading plan. These short messages are ideal for quick but meaningful reflection and reassurance, reminding each of us that “If you steadfastly keep your mind focused on God, his Word, and the ways you’ve seen his hand in your life, then you will experience peace that can come only from him.”

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell and was under no obligation to post a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Review
5 Stars
Glimpses of God: A Winter Devotional Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book: Glimpses of God, A Winter Devotional for Women

Author: Shirley Crowder & Harriet Michael

Genre: Non-fiction, Christian devotional

Release Date: November 6, 2019

As Christ-followers we also experience spiritual seasons. These seasons do not come in order like seasons in nature, which come regularly without fail. Each spiritual season we experience is defined by certain features also. In spiritual winter we think of the coldness of our relationship with God; in spring, new growth; in summer, warmth and heat; in fall, shedding the old and preparing for difficult days ahead.

This book is focused on winter—both calendar and spiritual. During our spiritual winters, when it feels as though God is far away or we feel stuck or dormant, we must rest in the truth of God’s sovereign mercy, grace, love, and care for His children. It is the first in the Glimpses of God” series.   



Click HERE to get your copy.  

About the Authors


Shirley is passionate about disciple-making, which is conducted in and through a myriad of ministry opportunities that include biblical counseling, teaching Bible studies, and writing. She is Biblical counselor commissioned by, and serving on the national Advisory Team for, The Addiction Connection. She is co-host of “Think on These Things,” a Birmingham AL radio/TV program for women; and a freelance writer.
 
 
 
 
 

Harriet is a wife and mother to four grown children and grandmother to two precious grandchildren. She has authored a growing number of books, including “Prayer: It’s Not About You”, a finalist in the 2011 “Women of Faith” manuscript contest. She is also a freelance writer with numerous published pieces, including more than a hundred devotions in various magazines.
 

 

 

 

More from Shirley and Harriet

 

From Africa to America, Life Long Friends
 
March 14, many years ago …
 
In the heart of the African jungle in the Niger River delta of eastern Nigeria, the first cry of a newborn baby echoes from a small jungle hospital. The baby is a girl, Harriet Clarice, the third child of medical missionaries, Alice and Keith Edwards.
 
Harriet and her family stayed in this remote part of Nigeria for a year until the other family returned from furlough. At that time, they went for another year to Oyo, Nigeria to language school and then on to Ogbomoso in central Nigeria, where they stayed the next ten years. Keith practiced medicine at the hospital in Ogbomoso, and Alice worked with him as a nurse.  
 
October 24 of the same year Harriet was born …
 
Deep in the Yoruba country of southwestern Nigeria, some 260 miles away from Joinkrama, piercing through the tropical night sounds, the first cry of another newborn baby cries out at a guesthouse in Ogbomoso. This baby is also a girl, Shirley Jeanne, the fourth child of missionaries Jeannie and Ray Crowder.
 
In 1962 the Crowders moved to Ogbomoso. Ray served as administrator of the 96-bed hospital, and Jeannie taught kindergarten and ministered to the Nigerian women with home visits and Bible studies. Harriet’s parents worked at the Ogbomoso hospital with Ray.  
 
Lifelong friends
 
Harriet ended up living just up the dirt road from Shirley. They played together nearly every day and formed a friendship that remained, even after years and distance separated them.
 
Harriet and Shirley, and the others in this unique group of individuals, who shared a common childhood in Nigeria in our beloved tropical homeland half a world away from where most of us live now, grew up calling each other’s parents aunt and uncle. Even as adults, we still feel a kinship as though we are family—cousins perhaps.
 
Some years ago, at a mission reunion, Shirley handed Harriet a book to which she had contributed. That was the first time Harriet knew she was a writer. Shirley had discovered a few years earlier that Harriet was a writer, too.
 
Several years ago, Shirley suggested that they prayerfully consider writing a devotional book together. Through that experience, they learned that they work well together. Their similar understanding and views on scripture is a good foundation for the different strengths each of us bring when it comes to writing.
 
Since that first book, we have worked and continue to work together on other projects. Glimpses of God: a winter devotional for women is the first of a 4-book devotional series. Through our devotionals we want people to see Glimpses of God all around them. Creator God made the world and the seasons throughout the year. By using the seasons in nature, we help readers see correlations to the spiritual seasons Christ-followers experience and to get “Glimpses of God” in and through everything that happens.
 
So, we guess it could be said that we are once again “playing” with our childhood friend in spite of several decades having passed since they played together happily beneath the shade of mango trees.
 

My Review

 

A plethora of devotionals exist in the Christian market, and I will be the first to admit that choosing one can be daunting. There are so many choices! There are some that I follow perennially and receive in my inbox daily, but it is also refreshing to branch out and try something new during the year as well. This is why I enjoy requesting devotional books to review; although I read them quickly to get my review written, I get the chance to see what is available and what might be a good fit for me and/or for others. Something that I look for in a devotional is something that makes it distinctive, which might speak to a particular need in someone’s life at a certain time—or in this case, a certain season.

Co-written by Harriet Michael and Shirley Crowder, “Glimpses of God: A Winter Devotional for Women” offers a unique collection of writings featuring both authors. What first attracted me to it was the focus on seasons, which I think is a meaningful basis upon which to build a devotional series. This particular book is meant for winter, but there can be both a spiritual and meteorological winter, so there is no wrong time to read it. The first chapter addresses the Christmas season and New Year’s, but the lessons are apt for any time of year. For instance, Michael, speaking of Epiphany, notes that “the real focus is on the fact that the Magi’s search for Jesus represents the world as a whole—the Gentiles—learning about Jesus. Thus, its broader meaning is the celebration of the gospel being presented to the world.” This is something that I had never really contemplated before, and I love gleaning fresh insights into the awesome majesty of God and His redemption of us through Jesus.

There are 13 chapters, each comprised of five days, with a daily suggested Bible reading and a daily Scripture. This allows for two days each week to reflect and dive deeper into the Bible. I appreciated that the readings were demarcated by numbered days (Day 1, Day 2) and not actual dates such as January 1, January 2, etc. because this permits more flexibility as well as acknowledging that sometimes we are in a spiritual winter regardless of the calendar season. The devotionals alternate between Michael and Crowder, sometimes daily and sometimes by chapter. They apply their own real-life, personal stories to Biblical truths and lessons with an interesting perspective because they both grew up in Nigeria as the children of missionaries. Harriet’s comment on fires and fireplaces in the Home and Hearth chapter, that “they always make me think of the fire in the hearts of men and women who traveled so far from the comforts of home for the sake of the gospel”, gives a new meaning to the phrase “Keep the home fires burning.” May we all seek to keep the fire of the Holy Spirit burning brightly in our hearts! And as Shirley says of missionaries, that “[t]hey had unwavering faith in God to help them”, may the same be true for us in all seasons.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.


Blog Stops

 

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader,  November 9

The Power of Words, November 10

Artistic Nobody, November 11 (Author Interview)

Jacquelyn Lynn, November 11

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, November 12

Sara Jane Jacobs, November 13

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, November 14

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 15

For the Love of Literature, November 16

CarpeDiem, November 17

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 18

Texas Book-aholic, November 19

janicesbookreviews, November 20

A Reader’s Brain, November 21

Inklings and notions , November 22

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate their tour, Harriet and Shirley are giving away the grand prize package of a copy of the book and a $25 Amazon gift card!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

Review
4 Stars
Soul Mend Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book: Soul Mend

Author: Luann Dunnuck

Genre: Christian Non-fiction, Christian Personal Growth, Counseling

Release Date: April 12, 2019

Restore your emotional health!
 
Have you felt trapped in an endless cycle of fear, anger, guilt, and other negative emotions? Has depression, anxiety, fear of rejection, or the inability to let go of past hurts robbed you of peace?
 
No matter how hopeless or discouraged you feel, freedom is possible. It’s time to get to the root of your pain so you can heal. In Soul Mend: Discovering Spiritual and Emotional Health, author Luann Dunnuck shows you how to uncover the source of your emotional struggles and experience wholeness with the help of God’s Holy Spirit.
 
See the connection between your mental and physical health. Find scriptural truths to help you work through emotional struggles. God has answers for you and declares in Jeremiah, “Is there anything too hard for Me?” Let Him do the impossible in you as you apply the concepts in this book, rely more heavily on God, and regain the joy of living!



Click HERE to get your copy.  

About the Author

 


Luann Dunnuck is a conference speaker, author, and counselor. She has a heart for those who are seeking emotional wholeness and spiritual health. Luann earned her master’s degree in Christian counseling and a doctorate in theology, and is a licensed minister with the Assemblies of God.
 
Her message of hope and restoration has been heard on radio and television—including Words to Live By, produced by RBC Ministries, and Crossroads Magazine. She and her husband, Robert, have three grown children.
 

More from Luann

 

SOUL MEND was written to break people out of their emotional chains! I know first hand what such things as anxiety, strife, guilt, and unforgiveness feel like. I know first hand how devasting these emotions can be on the physical body. After walking through some of these issues and recovering from a debilitating diagnosis I decided it was time to go back to school, get my counseling degree, and help other people!  In SOUL MEND I cover the three sources of negative thinking and how they impact our emotional and physical health. There are chapters on; a broken heart, stress, guilt, self-reproach, anxiety, and anger/bitterness.  Each chapter contains study questions to help the reader identity and heal from toxic emotions. The book ends on a uplifting and encouraging note on how God created you to walk in His destiny and His goodness. There is always a purpose in your pain and the Bible is clear that what the enemy meant for evil God promises to turn around for God when we seek Him (Genesis 50:20, Romans 8:28). I am excited to go on this journey with you and help you discover the healing and destiny that awaits you.

My Review

 

In Mark 2:17, Jesus says, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” The Bible is full of examples demonstrating physical and emotional healing, and much of Jesus’ earthly ministry included healing. We all need healing in one way or another, even if we don’t necessarily realize it, and Luann Dunnuck’s “Soul Mend” concentrates on emotional health as the foundation for physical health.

Dunnuck begins by setting forth three steps toward healing from negative emotions: ascertaining why you are struggling with that particular emotion, working through the emotion until it no longer plagues you and then releasing it to God, and refusing to fall under the influence of that emotion again. She addresses many of the common negative emotions that we all tend to fall prey to at one time or another and offers an academic breakdown of terms and examples before entering into their spiritual impact. I appreciated how she interweaves science and Scripture, explaining how our body’s responses to our emotions influence our spiritual health and vice versa, and how the enemy of our souls plays on our fears and past experiences to keep us in bondage. One of the best points Dunnuck makes, in my opinion, is that we need to come out of agreement with the enemy and come into agreement with God by turning to God’s Word and His promises. After all, as she points out, “Our true identity is found in God and what He says about us.”

Each chapter concludes with questions to reflect on and a prayer, and there is a section at the very end that contains all of the prayers given throughout the book. One issue that I had was the number of grammatical errors. This is one of my pet peeves, and while I know that books will have errors, I admit that I struggled with a lack of necessary commas and periods, as well as some significant misspellings (“relieve” instead of “relive” and “alter” instead of “altar”, for instance), which disrupted and slowed my reading experience. I also didn’t agree 100% with the Pentecostal viewpoint. However, I thought that she truly did a skillful job of keeping “Soul Mend” centered around Scripture, at times explaining the original meaning of certain Hebrew words to emphasize their meaning. In so doing, she highlights an essential practice for overcoming negative emotional health: “A principle that I advocate throughout this book is to acquire scriptures that replace the lies with the truth.” Regardless of our individual hurts and sicknesses, our God, Jehovah Rapha, is the God Who Heals. Praise God for that!

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.


Blog Stops

 

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, November 7

Mary Hake, November 8

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 9

Artistic Nobody, November 10 (Author Interview)

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, November 11

Texas Book-aholic, November 12

janicesbookreviews, November 13

Tell Tale Book Reviews, November 14 (Author Interview)

For the Love of Literature, November 15

BookofRuthAnn, November 16

A Reader’s Brain, November 17

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 18

Stephanie’s LIfe of Determination, November 18

My Devotional Thoughts, November 19 (Author Interview)

Inklings and notions, November 20

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Luann is giving away a hard copy of her book SOUL MEND, and a $25 gift card to Barnes and Noble!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

Review
5 Stars
Essential Oils Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book: Essential Oils

Author: Terri Secrest

Genre: Christian Non-fiction, Alternative Therapies

Release Date: October 8, 2019

Have you ever wondered why the wise men brought frankincense and myrrh for the baby Jesus? As a curious and highly enthusiastic child, health and wellness coach Teri Secrest asked everyone she knew and met, but no one could tell her. She grew up thinking it was just a nice little story…but never stopped wondering.

This thirst for knowledge sparked Teri’s twenty-three-year quest to learn about essential oils. It has taken her to the far corners of the world—from Croatia and France to Oman, Israel, and beyond.

Teri has written this book to share the mystery, the romance, and the ageless intrigue of essential oils. She hopes you experience the Father’s love as He continually lavishes His children with these exquisite oils and you feel this rich, biblical history come alive in your spirit. Teri wants you to see how miraculous your body is and how it’s designed to heal itself when given proper nourishment and support.

Essential Oils: God’s Extravagant Provision for Your Health offers practical how-to’s that you can use immediately, including the use of oils for romance, balancing hormones, cooking, cleaning, pets, children, and fragrance, as well as health concerns such as stress, negative emotions, trouble sleeping, weight gain, and anxiety. You will find practical guidance to regain and maintain health naturally.

As you gain this understanding, Teri believes you will change the next generation as you discover the hidden secrets of these biblical plants and how to incorporate them into your everyday life.


Click HERE to get your copy!
 

About the Author

 


Teri Secrest is a health and wellness expert whose passion is to teach simple and proven methods for vibrant health to people around the world. That passion is rooted in her early experiences of learning about whole foods and herbs in her family’s organic garden and her mother’s passion for good food as the owner of a French cooking school. These early lessons guided Teri to a healthy path for herself and her own family, yet it was her first astonishing experience with essential oils as a young mother that ignited her lifelong passion for learning, practicing, and teaching people to take hold of God’s extravagant provision for their health.
 
Teri has traveled around the world to learn from leading experts about the beneficial uses of essential oils, research the promises and properties of each essential oil, and develop a deep working knowledge of their applications for daily health and wellness. Teri loves to share the simple, practical principles that will help you live in vibrant health through her international keynote speeches, training programs, and best-selling books. She is a sought-after speaker who delivers her message of vibrant health with such enthusiasm, humor, and joy that she has gained the nickname “Ambassador of Joy” around the world.
 
Connect with Teri at http://terisecrest.com
 

More from Teri

 

My purpose in writing this book is to inspire you with the mystery, the romance, and the ageless intrigue of essential oils. My hope is that you experience the Father’s love as He continually lavishes His children with these exquisite essential oils and that this rich biblical history comes alive in your spirit. I also hope you will see how miraculous your body is and how it’s designed to heal itself when given proper nourishment and support.
 
As you gain this understanding, I believe you will change the next generation, as you will know the hidden secrets of these biblical plants and how to incorporate them into your everyday life.
 

My Review

 

In the interest of full disclosure, I admittedly went into Teri Secrest’s “Essential Oils” with some caution. While I am fully supportive of alternative therapies and have experimented a little with essential oils, as someone with chronic illnesses, I take all treatment approaches with a grain of salt. The cure-alls are a dime a dozen and most of them are incompatible with my body to begin with. What works for most people, even most of those who are chronically ill, never works for me, and I have become jaded. Yes, that therapy or lifestyle change is great and helps many people, but I am in the rare subset that can’t do x,y,z because my body does not function normally at any level. So I tend to have very low expectations of gleaning helpful therapeutic options, which is why I was pleasantly surprised by this book.

While reading “Essential Oils”, I learned interesting facts that were tied in with Scripture and also gained insight into some potential remedies in the form of alleviating agents for myself and others. Secrest has done an impressive job of compiling a lot of information in a stimulating way, and I read this book in a few hours. Her personal testimonies and stories were affirming and apropos. The way in which she includes Scripture is engaging and insightful; instead of just dropping in verses that speak to her points, she explains how they demonstrate God’s abundant care for us from the Garden of Eden to today. The chapters on Queen Esther and King Solomon gave me a fresh perspective on these Biblical accounts, drawing attention to and adding depth to details that I had not really considered before.

Because this book is well-designed, each element and section blends together well to form a cohesive and comprehensive whole. This is a fantastic read for anyone interested in looking into essential oils for the first time or for those who want to explore specific health benefits and oil recommendations. Secrest devotes a chapter to the twelve human body systems and how essential oils can benefit each, and she explains how to add supplemental-grade essential oils to cooking. There is also a chapter on enhancing romance for those who are married; being single, I skipped that section. Full-color photos throughout make this a fun and engaging book, although in e-formats this makes the file size very large. At the end is a brief glossary, followed by a reference guide that lists essential oils and what they can be used for and a helpful chart of health concerns and the essential oils that may be used to address them, rounding out this informative and inspiring work.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

 

Blog Stops

 

Genesis 5020, November 6

A Diva’s Heart, November 6

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, November 7

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, November 7

Moments, November 8

Quiet Workings, November 8

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 9

Emily Yager, November 9

Artistic Nobody, November 10

For Him and My Family, November 10

empowermoms, November 11

Stories By Gina , November 11

Vicky Sluiter, November 12

Jacquelyn Lynn, November 12

For the Love of Literature, November 13

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, November 13

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 14

Splashes of Joy, November 14

Texas Book-aholic, November 15

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, November 15

janicesbookreviews, November 16

Sara Jane Jacobs, November 16

Betti Mace,  November 17

Tell Tale Book Reviews, November 17

A Reader’s Brain, November 18

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, November 18

Inklings and notions, November 19

Livin’ Lit, November 19

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Teri is giving away the grand prize package of a copy of her book and $20 Starbucks gift card!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

Review
5 Stars
The Bright Unknown Review
 

About the Book

 


Book: The Bright Unknown

Author: Elizabeth Byler Younts

Genre:  Historical Romance

Release Date: October 22, 2019


Two young friends embark upon an epic journey across 1940s middle America in search of answers, a family, and a place to call home.
 
 
 
 
 
The only kind of life Brighton Turner understands is the one she has endured within the dreary walls of a rural Pennsylvania asylum. A nurse has thoughtfully educated and raised Brighton, but she has also kept vital information from her in order to keep her close. Brighton befriends a boy whom she calls Angel—he doesn’t know his name—and as the two of them learn more about what lies beyond the walls they call home, they fight for their release and eventually escape.

However, the world outside the only place they’ve ever known is not what they expect. They have no real names, no money, and no help—and they must rely upon the kindness of strangers as they walk and hitchhike from Pennsylvania to Michigan to find their last hope of a home.

This heartbreaking journey, narrated in gorgeous prose, explores what it means to belong—and to scour the universe with fresh eyes for the brightness within.


Click HERE to grab your copy!  
 
 

About the Author

 


Elizabeth Byler Younts gained a worldwide audience through her first book, Seasons: A Real Story of an Amish Girl. She is also the author of the critically acclaimed novel The Solace of Water and the Promise of Sunrise series. Elizabeth lives in Central Pennsylvania with her husband, her two daughters, and a small menagerie of well-loved pets.  

More from Elizabeth

 

The Bright Unknown was born out of a seed of a true story that my husband’s grandmother, Gigi, shared with me. Gigi told me that when she was a young girl living in Oklahoma her mom had a friend who was a nurse. During one of her visits over coffee she would occasionally talk about her patients at the local asylum. One particular story really intrigued Gigi and even decades later she still remembered it. The story was about a patient who had a baby while at the hospital and while Gigi remembers nothing about the patient or the child, she knew that when she moved out of Oklahoma several years later that asylum-born girl was around eighteen and still living within the walls of that hospital along with her patient-mother.
 
That story stuck with me. This trapped girl and her mother wouldn’t let me go. I began to wonder over her and ask all sorts of unanswered questions. Slowly but surely my imagined story for her came to life. Layer after layer I learned about Brighton, my name for her. I also named two characters after Gigi, her first and middle, as an honor to her. This story was born from a memory but now these characters feel real and present in my life today and I hope you will journey with them in The Bright Unknown.
 

My Review

 

“But I am ready to find those buried souls and love them and remind anyone who will listen that the invisible still exist.”

Every once in a while, an author comes along who transforms the genre with work that is exquisitely written and original. This is one of the most exciting moments for book reviewers, finding a diamond among the other gems. There are few Christian books that I choose to review that I end up truly not liking, but even so, certain ones sincerely rise above the rest. Elizabeth Younts’ “The Bright Unknown” definitely makes this exceptional list.

From the moment I began reading, I found myself mesmerized. Drawn into the life of the protagonist, Brighton, I was immediately absorbed and became more emotionally engaged with each page. Younts adeptly employs a dual timeline, recounting Brighton’s early life in the Riverside asylum in the early 1940s interspersed with scenes from her life at age 67. At first, the narrative projects a whimsical aura during Brighton’s adolescence, but the veil is removed early on, and the rest of the story exudes a sobering darkness. The author does not flinch away from the realities of twentieth-century mental asylums, yet relates them in a clean manner, demonstrating that unpleasant and even horrific happenings can be told without profanity or graphic detail. If there is one element that I would like to see changed, it would be to increase the faith aspect, which is subtle.

“The Bright Unknown” is haunting and will linger long after turning the final page, but not necessarily for the reasons that you might think. What makes this book shine is how thought-provoking it is. Instead of being outright terror-ridden like most asylum-based novels, this one lies more on the level of trauma. The trauma of losing one’s identity and the trauma of not knowing one’s identity in the first place. This story is rife with symbolism and layers of complexity. And I love that! The restraints are not always physical, but sometimes emotional as well. The characters’ psychological profiles drive the plot in more ways than one, entangling and interweaving them. Brighton’s situation is so unique and raises many questions regarding how we think about and relate to others, and what motivates us. I can’t say much without giving away plot points, but suffice it to say that “The Bright Unknown” resonates on a deep level because it speaks to our collective need to be known and loved. And the good news is that we are and always have been by the One who created us and who calls us into a relationship with Him, regardless of our circumstances.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

 

Blog Stops

 

The Power of Words, November 2

A Reader’s Brain, November 2

Living Life Free in Christ, November 2

The Christian Fiction Girl, November 3

Inspired by fiction, November 3

Fiction Aficionado, November 4

Genesis 5020, November 4

janicesbookreviews, November 5

Blogging With Carol , November 5

All-of-a-kind Mom, November 5

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 6

To Everything A Season, November 6

The Becca Files, November 7

Bigreadersite, November 7

A Baker’s Perspective, November 8

Connect in Fiction, November 8

Moments, November 9

Bloggin’ ’bout Books, November 9

Simple Harvest Reads, November 10

Betti Mace, November 10

Pause for Tales, November 11

Inklings and notions, November 11

Mary Hake, November 11

Texas Book-aholic, November 12

Hallie Reads, November 12

For the Love of Literature, November 12

Through the Fire Blogs, November 13

For Him and My Family, November 13

Remembrancy, November 14

mpbooks, November 14

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 15

Godly Book Reviews, November 15

 

Review
5 Stars
Before Christmas Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book: Before Christmas

Author: Bill Crowder

Genre: RELIGION / Holidays/Christmas & Advent

Release Date: October, 2019

Embrace the majesty of the Messiah
 
Bill Crowder invites you to explore the backstory of the first advent. He brings you on a journey into the very heart of God, to a greater understanding of what it means that “the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world” (1 John 4:14).

 Walk through Scripture to see and know Jesus in a richer way. Examine His character as God, His relationship with the Father, His appearances in the Old Testament, and more. Understand how these pre-Bethlehem truths lead into the Savior’s birth and the events of that first Christmas—and, most importantly, how it all comes together in God’s great story of redemption and rescue.
 
You’ll embrace the majesty of the Messiah and celebrate Christ’s birth with renewed joy and wonder.
 
 
Click HERE to get your copy.
 

About the Author

 


Bill Crowder, who spent over twenty years in the pastorate, is vice president of ministry content at Our Daily Bread Ministries. He is a contributor to Our Daily Bread and the author of nine books, including My Hope Is in You, Seeing the Heart of Christ, and For This He Came. He and his wife, Marlene, have five children.
 

 

 

 

More from Bill

 

During my years as a pastor, I found Christmas and Easter to be challenging. Certainly I love those seasons (for very different reasons), but finding creative ways to retell these important stories was often difficult. But, at one such season I realized that the story we tell at Christmas is not really the whole story. By entering the story at Nazareth or Bethlehem, we enter too late. We can’t simply start with the Baby in the manger—we need to go back. Before time began. To the eternal Christ. Unless we seek to understand Him, we’ll never fully appreciate who He was and why He came. That is the Christmas story.  – Bill Crowder
 

My Review

 

What I find most interesting about Bill Crowder’s “Before Christmas” is the interspersing of insights regarding God and the Christmas story. Rather than concentrating solely on the story of Jesus’ birth, Crowder expands the focus to encompass the backstory as well, mirroring how Jesus’ life on earth is recounted in the Gospels but is nevertheless the mainstay of the entire Bible, both the Old and New Testament. As Crowder explains in his introduction, “That is why the Christmas backstory is so important. It adds eternal value to the coming of Jesus by unveiling His truest identity.” Speaking for myself, I have to admit that too often the account of Jesus’ birth becomes rote. That is what I consider to be the value of this short but thought-provoking book.

Using the nested story technique characterized in the Bible, Crowder demonstrates how the Christmas story is one of many concentric rings of God’s story from before creation. The more I learn how interconnected every Biblical event is, the more awestruck I become at our Creator. Fresh appreciation and understanding dawns. For instance, although God knew even before creating the first man and woman that they would rebel and cause the Fall, He still chose to give us free will because only then could we be made in His image. And his foreknowledge also means that He knew that Jesus, God in the flesh, would have to die on the cross to make us right with Him again. He loves us that much! And, Crowder asserts, “that redemptive mission would also be the perfect expression of the mutual love between the Father and the Son.” Furthermore, Jesus’ deity is established immediately by the angel Gabriel when he tells Mary that Jesus will be “the Son of the Most High” because in the Jewish tradition, a son took on the qualities of his father. Even though as Christians we know that Jesus was, is, and always will be God, learning how each and every part of the Bible reinforces itself as God’s Word is incredibly affirming and fascinating.

While this is a small, short book, “Before Christmas” should be savored. Each chapter contains concise information taken from Scripture, with a deeper look into the cultural and personal implications thereof. While this is obviously a read well-suited for the Advent season, it can just as easily be explored at any time. Crowder writes in an easily understood manner, using lists to highlight his points and to make this a quick and straightforward reference for anyone looking to dig deeper into Jesus’ story.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.


Blog Stops

 

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate his tour, Bill is giving away the grand prize package of a copy of the book, Starbucks Holiday Blend Coffee, and $10 Amazon card!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

Review
3 Stars
Lawfully Innocent Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book: Lawfully Innocent

Author: Robin Helm

Genre: Historical Romance

Release Date: August 31, 2019

Benjamin Beckett, a handsome young English lord, lacks purpose in his life of privilege. After learning the truth about his heritage, he decides to leave unbearable boredom behind, making drastic changes in his too predictable life.
 
Adventure awaits Benjamin across the ocean, and he embraces the challenges before him. Can a man who’s not yet thirty be strong enough to impact the New World? Will he find a cure for his loneliness and ennui?  
 
Click HERE to get your copy!    

About the Author

 


Robin Helm’s books reflect her love of music, as well as her fascination with the paranormal and science fiction.
 
Previously published works include The Guardian Trilogy: Guardian, SoulFire, and Legacy; the Yours by Design series: Accidentally Yours, Sincerely Yours, and Forever Yours; Understanding Elizabeth; and More to Love. Ms. Helm also contributed stories to A Very Austen Christmas and A Very Austen Valentine.
 
She plans to publish Maestro, Lawfully Innocent, and A Very Austen Romance: Austen Anthologies, Book 3 in 2019.
 
Her life in (usually) sunny, small town South Carolina is busy, but affords time for writing, reading, teaching and performing music, and playing games on her phone. (Would you believe she’s an elder in a war game? And she’s writing a book about it?)
 

More from Robin

 

I grew up in South Carolina during the 1960’s and 1970’s when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 became law. South Carolina did not comply immediately, so I remember my doctor’s office with two waiting rooms, two water fountains, and two doors, both leading to the same doctor and same examination room. It seemed very strange to me even then. I did not know any African American children, because schools, restaurants, churches, the town pool, the public health center, our neighborhoods – everything – was segregated.
 
When I was in high school, that began to change. At first, only a few African-American students came to my school. I really didn’t notice, because we all worked together. I have since looked back and realized the bravery of those students. They left their newly built high school, which was much nicer than the very old one I attended, and came to a place where they knew almost no one.
 
My junior year, our schools and all public buildings were desegregated. Our town handled it very well. Three high schools combined, but everyone kept doing the things they had done. That year, three sets of cheerleaders combined and three of each sports team came together. It was wonderful! We had cheerleaders all the way down the sidelines, and the captain’s position was shared. The school buses were desegregated as well, and I drove a route.
 
I have no bad memories of that time. There were no fights, no arguments, no violence of any sort.
 
This story is set in the mid 1840’s in South Carolina, and it addresses what sorts of things had to happen before we could get to The Civil Rights act and desegregation.
 

My Review

 

Set in the 1840s, Robin Helm’s “Lawfully Innocent” begins in England but takes place mostly in South Carolina. An antebellum novella, it interested me because of the unique perspective of the hero, Benjamin Beckett, raised as a member of the upper class in a country that had already abolished the importation of African slaves and passed an Emancipation Act, then immigrating to South Carolina to run the Magnolia Heights plantation. This is an interesting viewpoint to consider, and although I appreciated it in this story, overall I felt that the novella fell a bit flat.

“Lawfully Innocent” is a nice, short tale and can easily be read in one sitting. And that’s part of my problem with it. In my opinion, Helm covers too many events while simultaneously not giving readers much in the way of conflict or tension, resulting in a cursory story that is quaint but not memorable. For a young audience, I think that this would work well, but the young adult/adult target audience here doesn’t seem to be a good fit. The plot is very idealistic and unrealistic for the time and place, almost harkening back to the nineteenth-century sentimental novel. Lack of a central conflict leaves readers adrift, and while there are a few brief dramatic episodes, these are easily and quickly resolved.

This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy this novella, because I did; I was just looking for more. Moses was my favorite character, and what little we know about him comes through Benjamin’s reflections and two fleeting scenes. I didn’t really connect with any of the characters; the way in which they are written is impersonal. They were one-dimensional and superficial and therefore difficult to relate to. I also found them to be too picture-perfect; it would be wonderful if life was really like this, especially prior to the Civil War, but sadly it wasn’t and still isn’t.

In that regard, I think that “Lawfully Innocent” offers a beautiful portrait of Christ-like behavior, to which we should all aspire. As Benjamin remarks early on, “He [God] may use me to make life better for an oppressed people.” Benjamin also realizes something that the rest of the nation misses, for the large part, until decades later (and in some cases, even longer!): “People who are independent and responsible for their own advancement make better employees”. Indeed, the points that Helm makes throughout this novella are prudent and encouraging, demonstrating the positive difference that we as Christians can make in our own families and communities, fulfilling our Savior’s call.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.


Blog Stops

 

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Robin is giving away the grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

Review
5 Stars
What Does the Lord Require of Us?
The Roll of the Drums - Drexler,  Jan

Even before I began reading Jan Drexler’s “The Roll of the Drums”, I felt a personal connection with the story. It takes place in Millersburg, Ohio, in 1863, and I have been to nearby Berlin and Sugarcreek many times. This time period in American history is also one of my favorites to read about, and considering how the Civil War affected the Amish makes for an intriguing and enlightening story. Amish fiction can easily become formulaic and perhaps even stereotypical, but this second book in The Amish of Weaver’s Creek series impressed me with its originality and depth.

Despite not having yet read the first book, I had no trouble at all immersing myself in the story, which is something that I always appreciate. I also did not read the plot description because, in my opinion, these are usually too detailed and detract from the story by giving too much information up front. For me, this made the narrative more interesting and enjoyable as I tried to guess what would happen and how things would turn out. However, one of the beautiful elements of this book is that even if you do know some of the plot points going in, Drexler still manages to surprise readers with the intricacies of how everything plays out on the page.

To my knowledge, this is the first Amish novel I’ve read set during wartime. The Civil War backdrop adds so much dimension to “The Roll of the Drums”. Drexler demonstrates that even in what was considered safe Ohio, the war takes a toll, touching even the Amish. As non-resistors, it never occurred to me that the Amish would have any role in the military, but in this story, Gideon Fischer is haunted by his forced work for the army and the destruction of his former home in Maryland. He suffers from what we now recognize as PTSD, and it affects his way of life and his relationship with God. He questions, “But could a man, unless he was rebellious against God, ever be out of the Lord’s will? Could he fall out of his Lord’s sight, through no fault of his own?” Both he and Ruby Weaver must face the dark events in each of their pasts in order to move forward, just as well all must, and this makes the story so relatable for all readers. Because no matter what, if we accept Jesus’ precious gift of salvation and a relationship with Him, nothing can ever separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39). One conversation between Gideon and Ruby particularly stands out: “You don’t know what they are capable of”, to which Ruby replies, “But I do know what God requires of us.”

If you are looking for a unique Amish fiction series, enjoy inspirational historical fiction, or need a boost in your relationship with the Lord, I highly recommend Jan Drexler’s “The Roll of the Drums” because even in tragedy and seemingly lost causes, God is working!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell and was under no obligation to post a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Review
5 Stars
Aiming for Love Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book: Aiming for Love

Author: Mary Connealy

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Release Date: October 2, 2019

Josephine Nordegren is one of three sisters who grew up nearly wild in southwestern Colorado. She has the archery skills of Robin Hood and the curiosity of the Little Mermaid, fascinated by but locked away from the forbidden outside world–a world she’s been raised to believe killed her parents. When David Warden, a rancher, brings in a herd much too close to the girls’ secret home, her older sister is especially frightened, but Jo is too interested to stay away.
 
 
 David’s parents follow soon on his heels, escaping bandits at their ranch. But his father is wounded and needs shelter. Josephine and her sisters have the only cabin on the mountain. Do they risk stepping into the world to help those in need? Or do they remain separated but safe in the peaks of Hope Mountain?



Click HERE to get your copy!
 

About the Author

 


Mary Connealy writes “romantic comedies with cowboys” and is celebrated for her fun, zany, action-packed style. She has more than half a million books in print. She is the author of the popular series Wild at Heart, Kincaid Brides, Trouble in Texas, Lassoed in Texas, Sophie’s Daughters, and many other books. Mary lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her very own romantic cowboy hero. Learn more at www.maryconnealy.com.
 

 

 

More from Mary

 

What it would do to someone to run wild from nearly their earliest memory?
 
What if three young girls had the basic skills to survive a rugged life but no adults to guide them?
 
Would they grow up to be a completely odd and untamed version of themselves, or the truest, in some ways most honest version?
 
I wanted to explore that idea: wild children, tough young women, afraid of the invading world, but lonely, too. So I created the plot for my Brides of Hope Mountain series by mixing the three little girls who’d grown up wild on the top of a mountain with some fairy tale ideas.
 
Book one, Aiming for Love, is Josephine Nordegren’s story. I had this vision of Ariel the mermaid seeing a man for the first time when strangers invade the high valley she lives in with only her two sisters. Curiosity is her besetting sin, or so she’s always been told. She has wilderness skills, mainly in the form of owning a bow and arrow and understanding wild animals, but for the first time, she is drawn to a man.
 
Jo needs to be tamed, or Dave, the man she can’t stop watching from in the woods, needs to learn the ways of the wild, because they’re out of place in each other’s worlds.
 

My Review

 

It is always exciting to come across a new-to-me Christian fiction author who is able to draw me in with the first of their books that I pick up, and doubly so when their work is refreshingly unique! I can safely say that Mary Connealy’s “Aiming for Love”, book one in the Brides of Hope Mountain series, is one of the most distinctive novels I have had the pleasure of reviewing. My appreciation extends to the book cover, as well. It initially enticed me just by its beauty and woodland backdrop, and as I read, I realized how perfectly it captures the essence of the novel. Mostly wild, but with hints of civilized society. As the two meet, it becomes a question of whether they will blend or remain at odds.

Living off the grid seems to be an up-and-coming fad, fueled by TV shows and the popularity of minimalism. I will admit that it certainly has its appeal, and there are times when I would love to head off to Walden Pond. It’s no surprise, then, that I immediately enjoyed “Aiming for Love”. Hidden away in the highlands of Hope Mountain, Josephine (Jo) Nordegren and her two sisters, Ilsa and Ursula, were taught how to survive without any outside contact. Even in 1873, this is an unusual feat. When rancher Dave Warden sets up nearby, their seclusion is challenged for the first time in their lives, and this is when things really get interesting!

“Aiming for Love” brings up so many fascinating issues that the pages seem to fly by even as they make the reader pause to think. Jo’s journey is captivating and filled suddenly with questions: “Did a woman give up her whole world because a new one caught her interest?” “Had her life, lived so alone, made her the purest form of herself?” And the wonder of it is that we often ask ourselves these same questions today, albeit likely in a different context. The crux of this story is the importance of community, particularly within the church. Scripture makes it clear that not only are we to love our neighbor, but also to nurture relationships with each other. Connealy skillfully illustrates the dangers of isolation and stagnancy through the Nordegren sisters’ lives and gives insight into cult mentality. Something that intrigued me is the intermixing of Bible stories with fables and fairy tales, which seems so easily discernible but would not be to someone taught only that they were all part of God’s Word. This is valuable insight to consider when interacting with people who are not of the Christian faith or who hold false beliefs. In that regard, Ma Warden is a shining example of patience and compassion in this novel.

Fans of Joanne Bischof’s Blackbird Mountain series, Catherine Marshall’s “Christy”, and Misty Beller’s novels will no doubt want to add Mary Connealy and “Aiming for Love” to their to-read lists. I would also recommend this book to anyone in search of an adventurous story with some suspense, and to those interested in living off the land and how that impacts a person’s disposition and belief system.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.


Blog Stops

 

Among the Reads, October 25

Moments With Mercy, October 25

Bigreadersite , October 25

Emily Yager, October  25

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, October 26

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, October 26

Books, Life, and Christ, October 26

Quiet Workings, October 26

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, October 27

For Him and My Family, October 27

Stories By Gina, October 27

Jeanette’s Thoughts, October 27

Older & Smarter?, October 28

Betti Mace, October 28

Wishful Endings, October 28

The Becca Files, October 29

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, October 29

Mary Hake, October 29

Mamma Loves Books, October 29

A Baker’s Perspective, October 30

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, October 30

Britt Reads Fiction, October 30

For The Love of Books, October 30

Hallie Reads, October 31

Connect in Fiction, October 31

Christian Bookshelf Reviews, October 31

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess , November 1

To Everything There Is A Season, November 1

Daysong Reflections, November 1

Splashes of Joy, November 1

Moments, November 2

Simple Harvest Reads, November 2

Batya’s Bits, November 2

She Lives To Read, November 2

EmpowerMoms, November 3

Seasons of Opportunities, November 3

Remembrancy, November 3

Blessed & Bookish, November 4

For the Love of Literature, November 4

Through the Fire Blogs, November 4

Tell Tale Book Reviews, November 4

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, November 5

Stories Where Hope and Quirky Meet, November 5

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 5

Pause for Tales , November 5

Texas Book-aholic, November 6

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 6

janicesbookreviews, November 6

A Reader’s Brain, November 7

Inklings and notions , November 7

Leona J. Atkinson, November 7

Lukewarm Tea, November 7

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Mary is giving away a grand prize package of a $20 Amazon gift card, a copy of Aiming for Love, and a copy of Fairy Tales from Around the World!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

Review
5 Stars
Once Bitten, Twice Shy
Always Look Twice - Goddard,  Elizabeth

“She would embrace being a survivor because she could make a difference for the victims.”

It’s funny how sometimes the very thing that we are trying to avoid brings us full circle and we end up coming back to what we tried to leave behind. So begins Elizabeth Goddard’s “Always Look Twice”, which is book two in the Uncommon Justice series but can be read as a standalone. As a suspense fan, I am grateful for authors like Goddard who write within the Christian genre because the darkness of malefaction is equalized and eventually overcome by the light of the Gospel. There is no need to worry about coming across graphic language or details, which goes to show that real life can be depicted in a clean manner while still conveying trauma.

After an auspicious opening chapter, “Always Look Twice” consistently delivers spine-tingling moments mixed with romantic overtures. The two main characters, Harper and Heath, are broken individuals with their own traumatic pasts, and the events of this book thrust them together toward an explosive climax. This is a novel of dichotomies, with enough ongoing tension to keep the reader engaged but not overwhelmed. Old and new, the past and the present collide in a growing entanglement. I appreciated the complex psychology of the characters and the multifaceted aspects of their personalities. They are believable, and the romance unfolds tenderly alongside the healing that Harper and Heath experience. In one noteworthy scene, I figured out the identity of the perpetrator. However, I did not deduce the culprit’s motivations or how the story would end, so I feel that the author succeeded in the plot execution. The thread of redemption echoes quietly, the faith element undergirding the narrative but not overwhelming it. It patiently waits for the characters to embrace it, just as our Savior patiently waits for each of us to come to Him, either for the first time or after a misstep.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell and was under no obligation to post a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Review
5 Stars
When Only Faith Remains Review and GIVEAWAY!
 
 

About the Book

 


Book: When Only Faith Remains

Author: Amy C. OReilly

Genre: Christian Living/Personal Growth

Release Date: May 6, 2019

Hidden just beneath the surface of Mary’s unique calling to serve as the mother of Christ lies an equally captivating story of her journey of faith.

Sometimes when our plans are derailed or we encounter struggles, our faith is the only thing we have to draw upon. Trusting God through those hard times is the bedrock of what will keep us grounded. But what happens when fear creeps in? Perhaps that’s what it was like for the virgin Mary when Gabriel came to her with news that she was highly favored and chosen to bear the Christ child.

Drawing parallels from her own journey-of-faith life experiences and the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus, Amy C. O’Reilly offers encouragement and inspiration to readers who seek to strengthen and move forward from fear to faith just as Mary did.

With Luke 2 and 1 Corinthians 13 as reference points, readers will connect their faith in ways that bind them to love and hope in the person of Jesus Christ. While your circumstance may differ from Mary’s, the similar deepening of faith through heartache and suffering and hope and triumph will inspire you in your identity, calling, and destiny in Christ.


Click HERE to purchase your copy.
 

About the Author

 


Amy C. O’Reilly has a master’s in physical therapy and co-owns Sandhills Orthotics and Prosthetics with her husband. Amy serves as a leader and teacher at her local church and Community Bible Study, and she desires to expand God’s kingdom through writing and speaking at churches and women’s groups. She enjoys running, teaching, and spending time with family at the beach. Amy and her family live in the Sandhills of North Carolina. When Only Faith Remains is her first book.
 

 

 

 

More from Amy

 

When Only Faith Remains is the story of Mary, the mother of Jesus, as she appears in Scripture and her unique journey of faith. The writing of this book was a journey in and of itself as God revealed many spiritual parallels in my own life events and faith journey. As I followed Mary to the cross and beyond, she became more real and relevant to me than ever before and I began to find connection and hope in my own life during the times when only faith remains.
 
Mary’s story is truly every believers story as Jesus calls us all to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him. As I pondered Mary’s life and treasured the words she treasured, I knew it was time to take Mary and Joseph out of the boundaries of the nativity box, and help their story come alive in a way modern readers can identify and relate.
 
Mary’s story is heartrending, yet beautiful, and crushing, yet full of hope, and it’s replete with anticipation, insecurity, fears, doubts, grief, hope and love. Her story is one of mystery and intrigue. It is also sobering with a heavy dose of the realities involved in following Christ. And hidden just beneath the surface of Mary’s unique calling to serve as the mother of Christ lies an equally captivating story of her journey of faith. From the first time she says yes to Jesus in the presence of an angel to the day she is filled once again with the Spirit of her risen Savior at Pentecost, we witness a frightened Jewish girl transformed into a woman who overcomes the worst grief imaginable—all by faith.
 
As I dug past the details and circumstances of Mary’s life to unearth her core needs, fears, and desires, I found myself identifying with Mary more and more. I discovered God at work in each detail of her life and in every relationship, teaching her His ways and deepening her faith, just as He has done in my life. In Philippians 2:12, Mary is the perfect example of a believer who “works out her salvation with fear and trembling,” as God teaches her to trust His plan through the life and death of her very own Son. Thus Mary’s journey of faith becomes one in which all roads lead her back to Jesus, the Christ, the Lord and Savior of all.
 
Readers can expect to relate to Mary in surprising ways as they navigate through their own seasons of hardship, heartache, grief, and loss. I have also shared some of my own struggles and heartache with a transparency that is both genuine and encouraging to believers searching for an authentic faith.
 
I invite you to join me on this journey as I share my own life experiences in light of Mary’s journey as found in Scripture. My hope is that Mary becomes real and relevant to you in a very personal way throughout the pages of this book. My prayer is that, as you find yourself and your own journey of faith in the story of Mary, your faith in Jesus Christ will be renewed and strengthened.
 

My Review

 

“Mary’s story is that of every mother and every woman who is brave enough to say yes to Christ and yes to the life He wills for her.”

When I began reading “When Only Faith Remains”, I did not know what to expect. Classified under Christian living and personal growth, I hoped that it would not prove to be dry or simply a recitation of facts. Sometimes, as much as I hate to say it, Christian nonfiction can be hit or miss. It can be marketed to a general audience but written for a seminarian. So I was absolutely delighted to find that Amy O’Reilly’s book (and her first one, at that) is not at all boring or incomprehensible for the layman.

As a matter of fact, “When Only Faith Remains” reaches out to the reader regardless of denomination or affiliation. I love that! Far too often we fail to look past the trivialities over which we quibble rather than focusing on that most important element of our faith: Jesus Himself. O’Reilly does a wonderful job of using Scripture to hone in on the life and particularly the unwavering faith of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Also laudable is her method, which does not seek to create a possible narrative for Mary’s life and thoughts but instead uses the information given in the Gospels, coupled with cultural history and her own maternal wisdom to offer a study of this strong woman of faith. While Mary’s story is familiar, “When Only Faith Remains” calls attention to the interweaving of Scripture from both the Gospels and the Old Testament, as well as how events in Jesus’s and Mary’s lives foreshadowed what was to come at Calvary.

This short book can be used as a devotional, with each chapter ending with a prayer and seeking to strengthen the reader’s faith journey. I also consider it part Bible study because of the author’s skillful examination of Scripture and how she uses Scripture to illuminate Scripture. Her own life and maternal experiences are poignant examples of how we can manifest faith like Mary amid life’s inevitable vicissitudes because “Faith uncontaminated by the world is believing that Hope and Love is a Person, not a feeling.” Furthermore, while Mary and her faith journey are the subject of this book, they never overshadow the Savior.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.


Blog Stops

 

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Amy is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and copy of the book!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 
 

 

Review
4 Stars
Choices Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book: Choices

Author: Jacquelyn Lynn

Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction

Release Date: April, 2019

In a horrifying moment of inattention on a dark morning, lives change forever.

When college student Samantha Lawrence takes her eyes off the road for just a few seconds to send a text, she swerves out of her lane and hits Kevin Wyland as he rides his bicycle. In a panic, she drives away.

After the crash, Samantha tries to find out who the rider is and the status of his injuries. She is shocked to discover that she knows him. Not only does she shop at the pet supply store he and his wife own, they are both regular customers of Joyful Cup, a popular neighborhood coffee shop, and friends with the owner, Joy Shepherd.

Consumed with overwhelming guilt and fear of criminal charges, Samantha decides to do whatever it takes to avoid being identified as the hit-and-run driver. Kevin struggles with anger, bitterness, and a crisis of faith as he embarks on the slow process of recovering from his serious injuries.

As their lives intertwine with increasing frequency, Samantha and Kevin both turn to Joy for advice and guidance. Can she help them find the forgiveness and peace they need?

This is a heartwarming story with a powerful message of forgiveness that will make you smile even as it brings tears to your eyes.

Click HERE to get your copy.
 

About the Author

 


Jacquelyn Lynn finds joy in her faith, family, and friends, and in the knowledge that she is living God’s purpose for her life. In addition to Choices, she is the author of more than 30 non-fiction books including Finding Joy in the Morning and Words to Work By, as well as the meditations in the Christian Meditations and Faith Words Adult Coloring Books.
 

 

 

More from Jacquelyn

 

The idea for Choices first came to me more than five years ago. Though I’ve written (or ghostwritten) more than 30 non-fiction books, the process of writing a novel was both intriguing and intimidating. Once I voiced my desire, my wonderful husband Jerry Clement became my biggest champion, encouraging and even nagging me along the way as I talked but didn’t write. And when I finally began to write, he listened, offered suggestions, and proofread. Every time I voiced a doubt, he shot it down. As the manuscript neared completion, he designed the cover and supported me through the myriad of details that are essential to finishing and publishing a book. Had it not been for him, Choices would not be in readers’ hands today.
 
As Choices began to take shape, I realized that Joyful Cup, the coffee shop where much of the story takes place, had many more stories to tell. The next book in the Joyful Cup Story series will be released in 2020.
 

My Review

 

“Even though it’s a choice, forgiving is one of the hardest things we have to do.”

Deciding to sign up to review this book was honestly a bit of a whim. I wasn’t sure that I would enjoy it, and the subject matter isn’t what I normally gravitate toward when seeking reading material. However, I decided to try it since it is the beginning of Jacquelyn Lynn’s A Joyful Cup series. Admittedly, I was also drawn to the coffee element. And I am glad that I gave it a chance! It turned out to be a short but compelling novel.

“Choices” presents a real-life situation from different perspectives and thereby inserts the reader into the narrative. Likely, you would react in the way that at least one of the characters does, and it is enlightening to see the impact that our responses and attitudes have on each other and on ourselves. While it is usually easy to identify a poor mindset on paper, it’s often more challenging in our day-to-day lives, and “Choices” demonstrates some of the finer nuances of people’s outlooks. My favorite character, and undeniably the star of the show, is Joy Shepherd, whose name serves as an aptronym for her personality. Her coffee shop, Joyful Cup, is a refuge for those seeking both dietetic and spiritual pick-me-ups. What I admire most about her is her gift for meaningful conversation and her discernment; she knows when and how to give advice gently and also how to be a listening ear for those in need. Lynn did well in crafting her character, as Joy does not come across as preachy and yet she is open about her faith.

I did have a few issues with this novel, though. Its brevity, for instance, is both its strongest and weakest point. I was instantly drawn into the story, and I did not want to put it down once I began reading it. However, beginning with chapter two, there is a constant shifting of characters and scenes. This works to some degree because their lives all become interwoven and they all live in the same town, but it also makes for a somewhat disjointed narrative. Due to the short length of this novel, there is a character info-dump in chapter two rather than a smooth transition between the characters. Similarly, I really would have loved to see more spiritual metanoia with both Kevin and Samantha. I appreciate how their viewpoints evolve but wish that they had had more apparent spiritual epiphanies because I closed the book unsure as to where they stand. With that being said, I felt that the ending was anticlimactic and too abrupt given the depth of the characters’ issues. It tied everything up too neatly and quickly, in my opinion. Nevertheless, I did very much enjoy reading “Choices” and plan to read future books in this series. I would recommend it to readers inclined to contemporaries, authentic portrayals of real-life challenges, and those who are looking for a short but thought-provoking story.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.


Blog Stops

 

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Jacquelyn is giving away the grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

Review
4 Stars
What Would It Be Like to Witness Jesus' Miracles?
Imagine: The Miracles of Jesus - Koceich,  Matt

Having read the previous books in the Imagine series, I was very much anticipating this one because Matt Koceich was stepping up the game by focusing on Jesus’ earthly ministry. I was very interested to see how he would handle placing a 12-year-old boy into the scenes of some of Jesus’ works. In the earliest installments in this series, I felt that the author did well overall in making famous Bible stories understandable and relevant to early adolescent readers, providing applicable Biblical lessons in each. However, I didn’t think that “The Giant’s Fall” focused enough on the Biblical part of the story. It is a very delicate balance, and even more so in a children’s short novel, and I applaud Koceich for undertaking this challenge because we need more children’s literature with a godly, inspirational focal point.

With “The Miracles of Jesus”, I was hoping for a compelling book that would give readers a glimpse at what it might have been like to see and listen to Jesus in person two thousand years ago. Did this book live up to my expectations? Yes and no. Chapters one and two are very powerful, and John’s first encounter with Jesus brought tears to my eyes. However, a somewhat disjointed narrative follows. There is a scene that seems to be representative of the book of Revelation, and this one was out of place in my opinion. Other good versus evil scenes that followed made more sense in connection with the storyline. Although I understand what the author is trying to convey, I would have liked more details about Jesus Himself. The main character John Le’s experiences with Jesus are brief, and overall this book did not seem as cohesive as Koceich’s earlier stories. Nevertheless, I did get a strong sense of the theme of faith over fear and appreciated this story. The target audience of 8-12-year-olds will most likely have fewer, if any, issues with it than I did, and I would recommend this to kids within that age range and perhaps even a year or two older.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.