Sunday, December 18, 2011

An Amish Wedding

Book Description

Three Amish women yearn for the perfect wedding.

"A Perfect Plan" by Beth Wiseman

Priscilla King has been planning to marry Chester Lapp since she was sixteen years old, and when Chester proposes on Priscilla’s nineteenth birthday, wedding plans begin immediately. What wasn't planned was all the problems the couple encounters as their big day approaches. A house disaster, a ruined wedding dress, and a sick attendant all make the couple wonder if God's sending them signs to call things off.

"The Perfect Match" by Kathleen Fuller

Naomi Fisher has had great success at matchmaking her family members and friends. Now with her sister’s wedding right around the corner, Naomi wonders why she’s able to find husbands for her friends and family, but not one for herself.

"The Perfect Secret" by Kelly Long

Rose Bender has recently become engaged to handsome but somber Luke Raber. She agrees out of a sense of duty and a willingness to settle for solid friendship as a basis for the engagement. But as she watches her friend's excitement over her soon-to-be wedding, Rose wonders if there shouldn’t be more to her relationship with Luke. She begins to examine Luke and his life more closely and is amazed when she stumbles upon an exciting, secret side of him that engages her mind and heart.

My Review:

These three novellas fit together almost seamlessly. The three authors did a great job of making three individual stories flow together and compliment each other. The characters each cross into the next story, and yet there really aren't even subtle differences in them, as sometimes happens in a group writing project.

Each one of the stories had an interesting storyline with enough twists in the plot to keep them interesting, though "The Perfect Secret" was my favorite. I do hope there is a sequel to this one!

"The Perfect Plan" was a little bit predictable since some of the story was already alluded to in the previous stories, but it was still interesting. ***Note: the description of above is from the publisher and is how it appears on the back of the book. However, the stories are actually in the reverse order in the book, making "The Perfect Plan" last.

Overall, I think Amish fiction lovers will enjoy this book.

I must mention that a received a complimentary review copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through their Book Sneeze program.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Christmas Singing

Book Description

Series: Ada's House Series | Publication Date: October 4, 2011

After Gideon coldly broke her heart, can the warmth of the season revive Mattie’s hopes?

Mattie thought her childhood sweetheart adored her until he abruptly ended their engagement on Christmas Eve.

Three years later, will learning the truth behind his rejection restore her Christmas joy – or open the door to even deeper heartbreak?

Spend Christmas with the Amish in this story of love, romance, heartache, and restoration.

My Review:

This short, easy to read story is ok, but not something I would highly recommend.

Though Mattie is funny, quirky, and a bit scatterbrained, the rest of the characters are quite dull and lack depth.

The storyline is very predictable – you basically know what is going to happen right at the beginning of the book.

I was also disappointed that there really wasn’t much of a Christmas theme to the story at all.

Overall, it’s a quick and easy short novella with a bit of romance and humor, but I was not at all impressed with it.

I must mention that I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Waterbrook Press through their Blogging for Books program.  That in no way influenced my opinion of it.

Valley of Dreams

Book Description

Wild West Wind November 1, 2011

Addy Lockwood's mother died when she was little, so Addy traveled with her father's Wild West Show and became an amazingly skillful trick rider, likened by some to the famous Annie Oakley. When her father died, she continued to work with the show, having nowhere else to go.

Now Addy has discovered that "Uncle" Jason, the show's manager, has driven the show into debt, and he's absconded with what little money was left. Devastated, Addy decides to try to find the hidden valley where here father had dreamed of putting down roots. She has only one clue. She needs to find three huge stones that look like fingers raised in a giant hand. With Chief, a Sioux Indian who's been with the show for twenty years, and Micah, the head wrangler, she leaves both the show and a bundle of heartache behind and begins a wild and daring adventure.
My Review:
In this new series debut, Lauraine Snelling has done her usual stellar job of putting the reader right back into the early 1900’s. The details of life during that time are amazing and a joy to read about. The plot moves along quickly and draws the reader in. The characters are lively and unique with just enough mystery to keep you wondering about them.
I love Cassie – her strength of character and unshakable determination after the betrayal of someone she trusted as family make her one remarkable young lady.
I can’t wait for the next book in the series to be released – this book leaves you longing to know more.
I must mention that I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Bethany House publishers.

House of Secrets

Book Description

October 1, 2011

When her father orchestrates a surprise trip to the summer house of her childhood, Bailee Cooper is unprepared for what follows. What is intended to be a happy reunion for Bailee and her sisters, Geena and Piper, quickly becomes shrouded by memories from the past.

Together again, the three sisters sift through their recollections of fifteen years ago...of an ill mother, and of their father making a desperate choice. They vowed, as children, to be silent--but one sister believes the truth must now be revealed. Yet can they trust their memories?

Mark Delahunt arrives in the wake of this emotional turmoil. Determined to win Bailee's affection, Mark becomes the strong fortress for her in this time of confusion, and what was once a tentative promise begins to take root and grow. Caught between the past and an uncertain future, can Bailee let God guide her to heal the past and ultimately to embrace love?


My Review:

This book deals with some very difficult issues. The overall feel of the book is very dark and a bit depressing, yet I just couldn’t put it down. The author does a wonderful job of drawing the reader into the story and making you feel what the characters are feeling. I also thought the author did a good job of portraying true Christian love and friendship in Mark’s character.

The book appears to be very well researched and the author seems to have a very good understanding of mental health issues and the impact they have on the families.

Though the Gospel presentation is a little weak (us “accepting God” rather than repentance) it is there and the issue of our sin, the necessity of repentance, and our need for a sinless Savior are mentioned.

I must mention that I received a complimentary review copy of the book from Bethany house publishers.

40 Ways to Get Closer to God



Book Description

September 1, 2011

Sometimes faith demands action. This practical book gives Christians ideas for how to adjust their hearts to get closer to God.

Each chapter contains a unique challenge and a brief explanation that puts the challenge in context. Exercises include acts of service to others, extended prayer, Scripture memory, fasting, a day of gratitude, media fasting (no TV or Internet), evangelism, and much more. The challenges are broad in scope, allowing people with varying personality types and learning styles to benefit from them.
My Review:
Overall, I found this book to be lacking in several areas. My biggest concern, however, is having a book about getting closer to God that doesn’t present the Gospel first. We all know that there are tares amongst the wheat, and we cannot assume that everyone who picks up a Christian book is already a Christian. And an unbeliever cannot get close to God without first repenting and believing the Gospel.
Some of the steps are biblical but are so basic that true Christians should not need to read a book to do these things. Perhaps it’s just a sad reflection of the church today that Christians need to be told to pray and study their Bibles.
Some of the steps go beyond what God has said. God hasn't promised to sanctify us if we abstain from watching TV, and we need to be very careful to make promises that God hasn't made. While some of these things may be a good idea, and may even be beneficial, to claim that they will truly draw us closer to God if God Himself has not said so is a very dangerous thing. If we "fast" from TV and replace it with prayer and Bible study, we will grow - but its not the TV fast that caused the growth, but the prayer and Bible study, which are means that God has ordained for our sanctification.
My other concern with this book is that it is full of aestheticism and quotes from known mystics/contemplatives. A brief flip through the book makes it abundantly clear that the author has embraced the mysticism that is growing so prevalent in the Evangelical church today. God has given us the true means of grace revealed in the Scriptures, and we don’t need man made practices or practices borrowed from Eastern mysticism to grow close God.
I must mention that I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Bethany House publishers.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Christmas Journey Home: Miracle in the Manger

Image Source

Book Description Publication Date: October 5, 2011

During Isabella Alcantara’s seventh month of pregnancy, her parents and siblings are murdered in gang- and drug-related violence, simply because their home was targeted by mistake. Isabella knows she was spared only because she now lives in a different location, but she knows too that the same thing could easily happen to her and her husband, Francisco. When her grandfather offers to hire a “coyote” to bring them across the border to America, she agrees. But Francisco and Isabella are abandoned by the coyote and left to die. Francisco then valiantly sacrifices himself to get Isabella to safety. Homeless, nearly penniless, pregnant, and alone, Isabella determines to find a way to honor her promise to her beloved husband.

 Living on one of the smaller spreads along the Arizona border, Miriam Nelson becomes furious with God and turns from her faith when her  border patrol agent husband, David, is killed in a skirmish with drug smugglers. Though her mother and young son do their best to woo her back from the anger and bitterness that have overtaken her, they make little headway.
Two widows—one driven by fear and a promise, the other by bitterness and revenge—must make their journeys along different pathways, but with the same destination: a barn full of animals that stands waiting for them on Christmas Eve. Forced to face their personal demons, Isabella and Miriam soon discover a common yearning that will bind them together in a most miraculous way.

*Description Source


This was the best Christmas story I think I have ever read. It is not a warm fuzzy gooey book but it is a very powerful story with a clear Christian message.
I found this book to be riveting - I read it in less than 24 hours. I found that I genuinely cared what happened to the characters, and found myself engrossed with the story.
At first I was a little unsure about a Christmas story dealing with such a hot political issue, but I found that it really helped me see all sides of the issue with much better understanding. The book is not for or against illegal immigration - there is no "winning side" - but it does bring to light, in a very powerful way, many of the issues on both sides.

I would highly recommend this book!

The Christmas Note

Image Source
Book Description:Publication Date: October 25, 2011

From author of The Christmas Hope series, which has enthralled millions of readers, comes a new inspirational novel about an unlikely friendship between two women, but one that will change each of their lives forever.

Gretchen Daniels has recently moved into an apartment with her two children to be closer to her mother, Miriam. She and her children are building a life together in a new community when a mysterious young woman, Melissa McCreary, moves into the apartment next to them. She has few possessions, little personality, and keeps to herself. One day, a local landlord who is looking for Melissa knocks on Gretchen’s door for assistance. Melissa’s mother has died and in the coming weeks the landlord needs Melissa to empty her mother’s apartment. Gretchen reaches out and offers to help, but the apartment is a gut wrenching shamble of a home. There is little worth saving except for a few photos and a note that is discovered on the crate beside the bed. It is unfinished but in the two scribbled lines, Melissa discovers she has a brother and a sister that she never knew about. Even more shocking, she begins to uncover family secrets that show her who she really is. Can two very different women embark on a journey that explores a long-buried need for forgiveness, hope, and redemption?


My Review:

This is a powerful Christmas story that I would recommend.
The two neighbors seem like unlikely friends, yet as the story unfolds it is refreshing to see how God brought them together during a holiday season that could otherwise have been very difficult for both of them, and changes each of these ladies through the events in the book.
The characters are very real a relatable. The author did a wonderful job making their feelings and emotions real to the reader.
The plot has a few unexpected twists that really keep the book moving and keep the reader guessing.
The only thing that I thought was missing was a real Gospel message.  A true Christmas story should include the true significance of the season.

I must mention that I received a complimentary review copy of this book through the publisher, Thomas Nelson.

Dug Down Deep


Book Description

May 17, 2011

What are you going to build your life on?
Dug Down Deep is systematic theology like you’ve never seen it before. Readable. Relevant. Powerful. As best-selling author Joshua Harris shares his own journey from apathetic church-kid to student with a burning passion to truly know God, you’ll be challenged to dig deep into the truths of God’s word.

With humor, conviction and compelling insight Dug Down Deep covers the basics of faith—God, scripture, Jesus, the cross, salvation, sanctification, the Holy Spirit and the church. Don’t settle for superficial faith, dig deep.

My Review:

In this book Joshua Harris has done an excellent job making systematic theology understandable and clearly communicating why it is important.
At first I didn't like the casual style of the book. I'm used to reading more scholarly books and I was afraid this would be too dumbed down and important theological concepts would be missed, but that didn't end up being the case. It is written more as a  journal; as his story of how he came to understand these important biblical truths, than as a scholarly systematic theology. I found that stories he told really made the concepts he was trying to convey become very clear.
If you are looking to grow in the faith and to make sure that your faith is built on a firm foundation, this book is a good start.

I must mention that I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Mercy by Beverly Lewis

About the Book:
Rose Kauffman pines for prodigal Nick Franco, the Bishop's foster son who left the Amish under a cloud of suspicion after his foster brother's death. His rebellion led to the "silencing" of their beloved Bishop. But is Nick really the rebel he appears to be? Rose's lingering feelings for her wayward friend refuse to fade, but she is frustrated that Nick won't return and make things right with the People. Nick avowed his love for Rose--but will he ever be willing to sacrifice modern life for her?

Meanwhile, Rose's older sister, Hen, is living in her parents' Dawdi Haus. Her estranged "English" husband, injured and helpless after a car accident, has reluctantly come to live with her and their young daughter during his recovery. Can their marriage recover, as well? Is there any possible middle ground between a woman reclaiming her old-fashioned Amish lifestyle and thoroughly modern man?

About the Author:

Beverly Lewis, raised in Pennsylvania Amish country, is a former schoolteacher and accomplished musician, and an award-winning author of more than eighty books for adults and children, many of which have appeared on bestseller lists, including USA Today and the New York Times. Six of her blockbuster novels have received the Gold Book Award for sales over 500,000, and The Brethren won a 2007 Christy Award for excellence in Christian Fiction. Beverly and her husband, David, live in Colorado, where they enjoy hiking, biking, and making music, and spending time with their three grandchildren.
My Review:
I loved this book! Its no secret around here that I love Amish fiction - but to me Beverly Lewis sets the standard by which all other Amish fiction is judged. That being said, this is my favorite Beverly Lewis book to date.
I was so captivated by Rose, that I could almost feel what she was feeling. The setting and details were described so well, I almost felt that I was there in Lancaster.
The story was believable, endearing, and kept my interest to the very end.
One thing I liked most was how clearly God's grace, mercy, and forgiveness came through in this story.
I will also note here that though this is the third book in the series, I was able to follow it just fine without having read the first two. There is a prologue that fills you in on what has happened in previous books.
*I must mention that I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Bethany House publishers.

Preview It:
The Mercy

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Lion of Babylon

Product Description:

Marc Royce works for the State Department on special assignments, most of them rather routine, until two CIA operatives go missing in Iraq--kidnapped by Taliban forces bent on generating chaos in the region. Two others also drop out of sight--a high-placed Iraqi civilian and an American woman providing humanitarian aid. Are the disappearances linked? Rumors circulate in a whirl of misinformation.

Marc must unravel the truth in a covert operation requiring utmost secrecy--from both the Americans and the insurgents. But even more secret than the undercover operation is the underground dialogue taking place between sworn enemies. Will the ultimate Reconciler between ancient enemies, current foes, and fanatical religious factions be heard?

My Review:

This fast-paced novel is full of suspense from the very beginning. It moves along quickly with an intensity that draws the reader along without being overwhelming.
The main character, Mark Royce, is believable and likable.
What really makes this book, though, is the authors deep understanding of the complexities of life in the Middle East, and in particular, Iraq. He gives the reader a  much better understanding of what day-to-day life is really like there, and why they believe the way they do.
The only thing I didn't like was the very ecumenical representation of Christianity.
Overall, it was a very good book.

*I must mention that I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers.

Harvest of Grace


Reeling from an unexpected betrayal, can Sylvia find relief from the echoes of her past…or will they shape her future forever?

Although Sylvia Fisher recognizes that most Old Order Amish women her age spend their hours managing a household and raising babies, she has just one focus—tending and nurturing the herd on her family’s dairy farm. But when a dangerous connection with an old beau forces her to move far from home, she decides to concentrate on a new start and pour her energy into reviving another family’s debt-ridden farm.

After months in rehab, Aaron Blank returns home to sell his Daed’s failing farm and move his parents into an easier lifestyle. Two things stand in his way: the father who stubbornly refuses to recognize that Aaron has changed and the determined new farmhand his parents love like a daughter. Her influence on Aaron’s parents could ruin his plans to escape the burdens of farming and build a new life.

Can Aaron and Sylvia find common ground? Or will their unflinching efforts toward opposite goals blur the bigger picture— a path to forgiveness, glimpses of grace, and the promise of love.

My Review:
I found this book to be very aptly titled. God's grace in forgiveness and restoring relationships is modeled all throughout this book. I found it to be very refreshing and encouraging to read.

I just adored some of the characters and could really relate to their struggles. The characters were deep and rich, and it was evident that they were growing in grace and faith.

Also, I really appreciate that before the story begins the reader is given a brief overview of what happened in the previous Ada's House novels and there is a list of main characters and important details about them. This makes it much easier for readers who have not read the previous books to keep track of who is who and whats already happened.

Overall, this was a great book book for any Amish fiction lover.

*I must mention that I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah.

Monday, August 22, 2011

About the Book:

Sometimes small towns hold the biggest secrets.

Ambitious young attorney Tom Crane is about to become a partner in a high-profile Atlanta law firm. But first he must clear one final matter from his docket-the closing of his deceased father's law practice in his hometown of Bethel, Georgia. Killed in a mysterious boating accident, John Crane didn't appear to leave his son anything except the hassle of wrapping up loose ends.

But instead of celebrating his promotion, Tom finds himself packing up his office, having suddenly been "consolidated." To add insult to injury, that same night his girlfriend breaks up with him . . . by letter.

Returning to Bethel with no sense of his future and no faith to fall back on, Tom just wants to settle his father's final affairs and get back to Atlanta. But then he runs into an unexpected roadblock-two million dollars of unclaimed money stashed in a secret bank account. And evidence that his father's death may not have been accidental. Worse still, a trail of data suggests his father played a role in an international fraud operation.

Tom follows the money into a tangled web of lies, theft, and betrayal. Along the way, he meets a woman who is as beguiling as she is beautiful. And her interest in the outcome of the case is just as high as his. She challenges Tom's assumptions . . . and his faith. Now he has to decide who he can trust-and how far a father's love can reach.

My Review:

This intense, fast-paced page turner is a piece of fiction reminiscent of John Grisham. It is full of suspense from the very beginning, and every time you think you have it figured out, a new mystery unfolds. The characters are endearing and the storyline complex. What I most appreciate about this book, however, is that it truly is Christian fiction. Its not just an occasional mention of God, or a Scripture verse here or there, but the story includes Tom Crane’s conversion, repentance, and growth detailed thoroughly throughout.

I strongly recommend this book.

I must mention that I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Thomas Nelson publishers through their Book Sneeze program. That in no way influenced my opinion of it.

Never the Bride

About the book:

Eleven Bridesmaid Dresses Don’t Lie

Since she was just a little girl, Jessie Stone dreamed up hundreds of marriage proposals, doodled the romantic ideas in her journal with her treasured purple pen, and fantasized about wedding dresses and falling in love. She’s been a bridesmaid nearly a dozen times, waved numerous couples off to sunny honeymoons, and shopped in more department stores for half-price fondue pots than she cares to remember.

But shopping for one key component of these countless proposals hasn't been quite as productive–a future husband. The man she thought she would marry cheated on her. The crush she has on her best friend Blake is at very best…well, crushing. And speed dating has only churned out memorable horror stories.

So when God shows up one day, in the flesh, and becomes a walking, talking part of her life, Jessie is skeptical. What will it take to convince her that the Almighty has a better plan than one she’s already cooked up in her journals? Can she turn over her pen and trust someone else to craft a love story beyond her wildest dreams?

My Review:

The character of Jessie Stone is unique, complex, and fun in a very “OCD” way. This makes for a fun and interesting “romantic comedy” type novel. I appreciated the light-hearted manner in which her part of the story was told.

However, the other characters were rather dull and under-developed.  There is little detail given to any of them, and I really didn’t find myself able to connect with them.

My biggest problem with the book, however, was the casual manner in which God was portrayed. Rather the being portrayed as the Author and Creator of the Universe, the perfectly just Judge, and the One Who is sovereign over all, He is portrayed as some sort of cosmic cupid who exists merely for the purpose of writing our love stories. There was a kind of gospel presentation towards the end, but with no mention of sin, judgment, or repentance. For that reason, I cannot recommend this book.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.
You can read the first chapter here.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Treasuring Emma by Kathleen Fuller

Book Description

Emma has put everyone else first in her life. Now at nearly 25, has she missed her chance at marriage?

Emma was Adam's first love but circumstances made them both choose different paths in life. Emma's heart breaks all over again when Adam returns to the Amish community of Middlefield, Ohio, years later.

For the past ten years, Emma has been a care-giver. First for her mother who unsuccessfully battled breast cancer, and now for her grandmother who gets more frail with each passing year. Emma has always put the needs of others above her own. With more time on her hands, she determines to focus on herself and her dream of opening a rescue shelter for stray animals in the community.

With Adam's return come feelings Emma's long buried. They're older and life hasn't turned out the way they thought it would. Adam's feelings for Emma are stronger than ever, but will he be able to convince her to put the past aside and give their love a chance?


My Review:

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The author has a talent for making you feel what the characters feel and drawing the reader into the story. Emma was so real to me; there were times when I could have cried with her. I could also relate to the worries of her sister, and her tendency to try to fix things first and go to God later.

The story moves along quickly, with the elements of suspense, subtle romance, and growing faith carefully woven throughout.

The setting really seemed “authentic Amish” – from the descriptions of their farms to their day-to-day life, it seemed very much in keeping with what I know of Amish life

What really made this book though, were the characters. A long-lost love, a wise grandmother, a somewhat overbearing sister, and the mysterious cousin from out of town – all very well developed and intriguing. These characters seemed so real. They had to wrestle with issues of faith, family conflict, and grief just like the rest of us. The issues dealt with in this book are ones that most of us face at one time in our lives, not just the Amish.

I would strongly recommend this book to anyone was loves Amish fiction.

I must mention that I did receive a complimentary copy of this, in ebook format, for review purposes. That in no way influenced my opinion of it.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

She Makes it Looke Easy by Marybeth Whalen

Ariel Baxter has finally moved to the neighborhood of her dreams – Essex Falls. A mother of three boys and an excellent photographer, she is busy but never feels like she has it all together. Her tendency to be disorganized and forgetful has her feeling that she is just not good enough, even in her new home.

Her new neighbor, Justine, seems to have everything that she doesn’t – a clean and organized house, well behaved girls, perfect recipes, a great singing voice, popularity in the neighborhood – in short, she appears to be perfect. Ariel hopes that her friendship with Justine will bring some of these things into her life, all the while ignoring the signs that something might not be quite right.

I really enjoyed this book. Parts of it were truly laugh-out-loud funny and yet it dealt with some serious issues too. I love the detail that the author put into the setting, making it easy to picture and feel like you were there. What I most appreciate about this book, though, is that it’s so real. I could so easily relate to the characters because they seemed so true to life, and the situations that arose and temptations that they faced are ones that most of us deal with at some point in our lives. Which one of us hasn’t looked at the “perfect mom” across the street and wished we could be like her?

There are also valuable lessons to be reminded of woven throughout the book, like the importance of putting God first in all things, and what a true friend really is.

This is an excellent book that I would recommend for all Christian women.

*Disclosure: I received a Advance Reading Copy of this book through the Amazon Vine reviewers program.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

No Place Like Holmes by Jason Lethcoe

The new resident in 221A Baker Street is about to give Sherlock Holmes a run for his magnifying glass!

When Griffin is sent to stay with his detective uncle at 221A Baker Street for the summer, he is certain that his uncle must be the great Sherlock Holmes! But Griffin is disappointed to discover that Holmes lives at 221B Baker Street and his uncle lives unit 221A. His uncle is a detective, just not a very good one. But when Griffin meets a woman with a case that Holmes has turned away for being too ridiculous, he and his uncle team up to help her. Along the way, Griffin shows his uncle just what it means to have true faith in God, even when the case challenges that. The woman claims that her husband was eaten by the Loch Ness Monster, but monsters aren’t real-or are they?


 This a great mystery novel for young Christian readers, though I enjoyed it as an adult too.
Griffin Sharpe is an incredibly observant, intelligent, and intuitive boy. He notices everything. His uncle is a crabby yet eccentric detective/inventor who wants nothing to do with a boy - yet Griffins gentle nature, faith, and compassionate heart quickly win him over. They end up making a great detective team.

The characters in this book are all very unique and interesting - quirky even. The plot moves along quickly and has a lot of detail, yet should still be very easy for younger readers to follow. By younger readers, I would say 8-13 years old or so.

What I most appreciated about this book as a piece of junior literature was the Christian character qualities that come through in Griffin Sharpe. Griffins father had been a minister and Griffin hope to lead his Uncle to the Lord. Though there wasn't as much about faith as I had expected, I still would recommend it. It was so refreshing to read a junior mystery with Christian character qualities reflected so often in the main character.

One other interesting fact is that it is based on the true story of Griffin Sharpe.

Young can visit the authors blog for more information on the real Griffin Sharpe. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Hidden Affections by Delia Parr

Annabelle Tyler is a sweet and beautiful woman of faith. When her husband takes off with her inheritance and then divorces her, she leaves for Philadelphia, hoping to find a job at a candy shop. As a divorced woman in the 1830’s, she had few options. Yet on her way to Philadelphia the stage was robbed, and she ends up being forced to marry Harrison Graymoor, and elusive and affluent bachelor.

In an effort to keep their marriage a secret until they could obtain an annulment or divorce, he sends her to his country estate where we meet a lovely and unique cast of characters. Both continue to keep their secrets while trying not to fall in love.

I really enjoyed this story. I appreciated how clearly the author demonstrated her understanding of how difficult life was for a divorced woman in that day. The characters were unique and interested, and the story moved along at a nice pace, and some surprising twists in the plot keep things interesting.

Though at first I was a little unsure of another Delia Parr book about an undesired marriage, I assure you that the storyline is quite different, and this one was my favorite of the Parr books that I have read.

I must mention that I received a complimentary review copy of the book from Bethany House, but that in no way influenced my opinion of it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Girl in the Gatehouse by Julie Klassen

 Sent away by her father after her reputation comes into question, Maria Aubrey is living in an abandoned gatehouse on her aunt’s estate. With little means to support herself, she begins writing novels – in secret. Accompanied by one loyal servant, she seeks to start her new life with the few people she can trust.

Captain Matthew Bryant leases the estate hoping to win back a lost love, yet he is intrigued by the girl in the gatehouse. Haunted by his own past, he also seeks to start a new life at Windrush Court.

This engaging story, set in 1813 -1814, is full of mystery and romance, forgiveness and redemption. But what most impressed me with this book were the characters. These very dynamic characters were so full of surprises that every time I thought I had one figured out, a new mystery appeared. From the eccentric and witty aunt, to the scoundrel cousin, to the strange man on the poorhouse roof, each of the characters was very deep and rich. Some you will love, others you will hate, but all of them make this a great book.

The story is very well paced; with little bits of enticing pieces of the mysterious pasts of even the secondary characters drawing the reader along, always guessing what might be next.

I must mention that I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Bethany house publishers. That in no way influenced my opinion of it.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Heaven Revealed Review and Giveaway

In this book Bible teacher Paul Enns explores the questions that people frequently ask regarding heaven and the eternal states. Having recently lost his beloved wife, these questions are very dear to him, and he asnswers questions in great detail, offering a glimpse into what is yet to come.

When I was first offered this book to review, I almost turned it down. So often books about heaven end up being highly speculative and unbiblical. Coming from a publisher that usually offers very solid books, I thought this one might be different.
In many ways, it wasn't. Enns frequently cites the existing books about heaven, most often "Heaven" by Randy Alcorn - a book which was not very grounded in Scripture. Though Enns uses a lot of Scripture, he doesn't often directly quote it, leaving the reader to have to check his Scripture references on their own. When checking a few of them, I found that when viewed in context they were not about heaven or the eternal states, which leads me to question his handling of Scripture.
My other concern with the book is that Enns seems to ignore passages that are clearly in opposition to what he claims. Let me give you an example.
In Mark 12 the Sadducees approached Jesus and asked about marriage after the resurrection:


20"There were seven brothers; and the first took a wife, and died leaving no children.

21"The second one married her, and died leaving behind no children; and the third likewise;

22and so all seven left no children. Last of all the woman died also.

23"In the resurrection, when they rise again, which one's wife will she be? For all seven had married her."

24Jesus said to them, "Is this not the reason you are mistaken, that you do not understand the Scriptures or the power of God?
25"For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

Yet Enns continuously indicates that our relationship with our spouses will continue, without offering any explanation of this apparent contradiction.

While it was entertaining to imagine what might be, overall I felt that the author did not do an adequate job of exegeting Scripture to defend his claims.

If you would like to win a copy of this book, simply leave a comment below. Please be sure to include an email address if one isn't available in your profile.
The giveaway will close on June 19 at 7PM.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Here Burns My Candle Review

Elisabeth Kerr enjoys a privileged life while carefully guarding secrets of her past. Having grown up as a Highlander she must hide her Jacobite pride and pagan moon worship from her Lowland husband and mother-in-law. Her husband, Lord Donald Kerr, has secrets of his own. When bonny Prince Charlie rides into Edinburgh during the 1745 Jacobite Rising, these secrets come to light and lives are transformed as the family discovers what is truly important.

This book was clearly very thoroughly researched. The details are very historically accurate, and there are even appearances from true historic figures in the story. I love the author’s careful attention to detail in the customs of both the Highlanders and the upper class Lowland society. The characters are vibrant and engaging, and the story moves along quickly.

This story has all the making of a great book – love, betrayal, war, unexpected loyalty, and a growing faith in the one true Lord. Its also based on the beginning of the Biblical account of Naomi and Ruth, with the story finishing in the sequel, Mine is the Night.

I must mention that I received a complimentary review copy from Waterbrook Multnomah for review purposes.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Amish Prayers

When the opportunity to review this book came up, I almost turned it down. I’m not a fan prayer books – canned prayers as I usually call them – but I was intrigued by the idea of Amish prayers.

I wasn’t disappointed. The prayers are beautiful and reverent, and glorifying to God. There is a real sense of the awe we should have when coming into the presence of the Lord in prayer. They are so full of doctrine that though they are short, I’ve found myself reading one and pondering it for the rest of the day. They are grouped together by type of prayer and each one has a Scripture to accompany it.

A true Amish prayer book translated into English from the original German, this prayer book has become a treasured addition to my library.

I must mention that I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House for review purposes.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Review: Larkspur Cove by Lisa Wingate

Andrea Henderson is a recently divorced mother of a struggling fourteen year old son who has moved into her parent’s lake home to start a new life with a new job. Mart McClendon is a game warden who has returned to Moses Lake to try to forget a tragedy that he feels responsible for. These two are brought together when a mysterious young girl is seen a reclusive man who lives in the woods.

Moses Lake is quiet and charming town with small town characters that are easy to relate to. It’s the type of community where everyone knows everyone, and everyone pitches in to help when someone is in need. Wingate describes the community in detail. It’s a beautiful setting for this story of healing old wounds and renewed faith. The characters are well developed and compelling.

With a hint a romance, a surly teen, a mystery, and a café where all of this is gossiped about the story moves along at a nice pace and keeps the reader interested. I was a little disappointed that faith was such a minor part of the story. There was a bit of a casual approach to God as well (like calling Him the big man upstairs). Overall, this is a decent book.

I must mention that I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House for review purposes.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

An Anchor for the Soul

This short book by Ray Pritchard is an excellent evangelistic tool. It is a short book that covers the key elements of the Christian faith that is doctrinally sound, yet easy to read. The author does a great job of presenting the material without using Christian terms that might not be familiar to those who didn’t grow up in church. He clearly explains who Jesus is, what He did, and why we need Him. It’s page after page of the Gospel, which is so refreshing. I’m glad to say that Pritchard also understands that the good news in only good in light of the bad news. He uses the Law to show the reader their sinfulness before presenting the Gospel of Grace. His gospel presentation is powerful and thorough, yet easily understandable. It’s not the watered-down, seeker-sensitive, come to Jesus for a better life message that so many preach today – it is the true Biblical gospel.

The book is very compelling and easy to read. Each chapter ends with a truth to remember and a section for going deeper.

If you have a friend or loved one who it seems that God is drawing to Himself, I would highly recommend giving them a copy of this book.

A complimentary review copy of this book, along with a copy to give away, was provided to me by C. Grant & Company on behalf of Moody publishing for review purposes, but that in no way influenced my opinion of it.

You can enter the giveaway for this book here.
Giveaway closes 4/17/11 at 8PM.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Review: If God Why Evil by Norman Geisler

I had high hopes for this book. Though I haven’t read any of his more recent works, I have long respected Geisler as a very solid apologetics teacher. In this one, however, he let me down.

First, I just didn’t like the way it was written. It is page after page of logical syllogisms which just don’t make for interesting reading and might not make that much sense to a reader who hasn’t studied logic.

Second, he seems to be answering questions posed by atheists thirty years ago, rather than dealing with the New Age spirituality (think Emergent panentheists) of today. It really didn’t seem relevant to the issues that face the church today.

Third, his main premise is based on the assumption that we have free will. Reformed readers will likely find this really frustrating to read. Geisler ignores the passages of Scripture in which God answered questions posed to Him about the existence of evil and suffering (Job 40-42, and John 9:2-3 to name a few). While Geisler blames evil on free will, we see in Job that Satan needed God's permission and God gave it (Job chapter 2). All that befell Job was not because of Satans free will, but because God allowed it.

On a more positive note, the last to chapters were devoted to hell and answering the question “What about those who have never hear?” I found those two chapters to be a refreshing improvement over the rest of the book.

I must mention that I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Bethany House, but that in no way influenced my opinion of it.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Seek Me with all your Heart

By Beth Wiseman

For Emily Detweiler, a move to Colorado represents a new life away from the painful memories of a tragedy that deeply affected her life and her faith. While settling into a new Amish community she meets David Stolzfus, a kind but mysteriously aloof young man with secrets of his own. A growing friendship with a crabby old widow brings these two together, but both fear what will happen if their secrets are revealed.

This is a story of redemption and restoration. The author deals with some very difficult issues in this book, and handles them well. The characters are endearing and well-developed.

While overall I enjoyed the book, it wasn’t without some disappointments. Though it is Amish fiction, there was very little detail about their Amish heritage. It really almost didn't seem Amish at all. And, as is the case with most Christian fiction today, it is full of personal messages from God – outside of Scripture.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through their BookSneeze program, but that in no way influenced my opinion of it.

Mine is the Night

By Liz Curtis Higgins

Set in Selkirk, Scotland in 1746, this is the story of newly widowed Elisabeth Kerr and her mother-in-law, Marjory. After losing their husbands in the Jacobite rebellion the once-prosperous ladies are forced to return to Marjory’s homeland with little to their name. Depending heavily on a cousin with little to share, Elizabeth’s abilities as a seamstress, and the grace of God these two women begin their lives again. While they heal from the past they begin to find hope for their future. When an Admiral in the Kings Navy moves to the area they fear that their Jacobite ties may find them facing charges of treason.

I found this book to be easy to read and enjoyable. The characters are easy to relate to and exhibit exemplary faith. The historical details appear to be very accurate. I would have liked to have had a little more detail in the description of Selkirk, but that didn’t detract from the overall appeal of the book. This book is the last in a series, but I read it alone without much difficulty.

I found the story to be very reminiscent of the book of Ruth and the elements of faith to be glorifying to God and refreshing. At time when so much Christian fiction is watered-down and full of misapplied Scripture and personal messages from God, this book stands out as an example of how Christian fiction should be.

You can read the first chapter here.

I must mention that I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes from Waterbrook Multnomah. I did not receive any other compensation and the opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Goodness of God by Randy Alcorn

Subtitle: Assurance of Purpose in the Midst of Suffering

In this book best-selling author Randy Alcorn takes a close look at suffering and evil in light of God’s Word. Pain and suffering will strike us all, and the issues are complex, but by examining the nature of God and His Word we can prepare ourselves to face these difficulties knowing that God is in control and His purposes our higher than ours.

I found this book to be incredibly comforting to read. This is not a book filled with trite sayings and feel-good sentiments, but rather is filled with biblical truths the reader can use to prepare himself for tribulation. There are many powerful stories of how God has used difficult circumstances for good, and how those who lived through them grew in grace and their knowledge of God. These stories are real, and they don’t all have what this world would call a happy ending – and I like that. Real life is hard, and this book is a valuable resource for understanding suffering. I also appreciate that it is full of Scripture to encourage and exhort the reader.

This is a book I will keep in my library. I’m sure there will be dark days in my life when I will need to cling to the truths presented in it.

You can read the first chapter HERE.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pujols: More than the Game Book Review

By Scott Lamb and Tim Ellsworth

“At the end of the day as long as I glorify Him and those 45,000 people know who I represent out there every time I step out on the field, that’s what it’s about. It’s about representing God.” –Albert Pujols (p. II)

I think this quote very adequately describes both Albert Pujols and this book. It’s about glorifying God. From humble beginnings in the Dominican Republic to his meteoric rise to fame in the US, outstanding athletic ability, strong work ethic, and faith God make him one of the most easily likable celebrities of our day. This book covers it all.

I really love a biography that doesn’t just outline a person’s accomplishments but really digs deeper, revealing the person behind the image. This book delivers. Pujols is more than just an outstanding ball player – he is a man of integrity. While the authors cover the details of his rise to fame in baseball, they also cover his conversion, his devotion to his wife and kids, and what drives him most – his faith.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone, but particularly to people with teenage boys. I think this is the type of book that may help young adults see how to be a man of integrity in whatever they do, and that serving the Lord is the most important aspect of their life.

I must mention that I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Thomas Nelson’s BookSneeze program. That in no way influenced my opinion of it.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Always True by James MacDonald

Subtitle: God's 5 promises when life is hard.

Enter to win a copy of this book HERE. Giveaway ends 2/17/11 at 10PM.

In this encouraging book, Pastor James MacDonald opens the Bible and explores five of the great promises God has made to His people. These are promises that are true in every generation, and God is by nature a promise-keeper.

This book was written following some of the darkest times of the author’s life. This is not a preachy “here’s how you should feel” type book. This is an honest, heartfelt look at the hope that God has given us and the promises that He has made to help carry us through the trials of life.

This book is laid out in such a way that it is very easy to study and apply these promises to your life. Each promise is preceded by a section called “The Theology of a Promise,” where Pastor James opens God’s Word to help us better understand God and His nature. He then explores a promise of God. The promise chapters each end with a section called “Take to Heart” which summarizes the definition of the promise and offers practical ways to apply it in our life. There is also a memory verse to go along with each promise, allowing the reader to hide God’s Word in their heart and be able to bring it to mind when troubles come. This layout makes it an outstanding resource for preparing believers to face difficulties.

I was very moved by this book. I’ve been going through a very difficult time in my life, and this book was exactly what I needed to read. This book was written after Pastor James went through the darkest period of his life, and his personal perspective makes it very relatable and comforting to read.

These promises are real. It is so humbling and awe-inspiring to contemplate these promises. God, the Author and Creator of the universe, has made promises to us and we can know that He will always keep them.

A complimentary review copy of this book was provided to me by C. Grant & Company, but that in no way influenced my opinion of it.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Sacred Meal

I found this book to be very disturbing. Author Nora Gallagher had been asked to write a book about communion – the sacred meal- as a part of Thomas Nelson’s Ancient Practices Series. I was eager to read this book as Communion is such an important part of our life as believers, and it’s so easy to fall into the routine of taking communion, while neglecting to reflect on the significance of it.

I expected this book to look to the Scriptures to see what God has said about the practice that He ordained. Sadly, this book is page after page of the author’s thoughts and feelings, both about communion and a myriad of unrelated things that really have no bearing on communion whatsoever. There is very little Scripture used, and when it is its misapplied or misrepresented.

Here is one example is found on pages 23-24. Gallagher is discussing the last supper and Christ’s words to the disciples, “Do this in remembrance of Me.”

She says,
“Instead, I think Jesus wanted his disciples and everyone who came after him to remember what they had together. What they made together. What it meant to be together. How the things he wanted them to do could not be done alone. How the things he did could not have been done without them.”(page 24 - emphasis hers)

Clearly, there are many things wrong with just this one paragraph. For one, there is NOTHING that He could not have done without them. He was God incarnate. They were lowly men. But my point in using this paragraph as an example is to show how the author completely ignores what Scripture says about Communion. The Scriptures tell us what we are to be remembering, His death until He comes (1Cor 11:23-26). Not what they did together.

It really doesn’t matter what we think or how we feel about communion; all that really matters is what God has said about it in His Word.

I received a complimentary review copy of the book from Thomas Nelson, but that in no way influenced my opinion of it.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Radical by David Platt

Subtitle: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream

In “Radical” best-selling author/pastor David Platt calls American Christians to evaluate their lives and their finances in light of the teachings of Christ.

I must admit I expected this book to be the social gospel for the Twenty-First century.

I was wrong. This is not doing good works to earn salvation, but rather doing them because of our salvation.

The true gospel is clearly preached throughout this book – he is spot on in that regard. This isn’t about the social gospel, but rather examining where our treasure is. It’s a call to Christians to carefully consider what a need is and what is a luxury. How much more could we give if we cut out the extras? How big of a house do we need? How about our churches – do we need huge buildings with comfy seats while our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world suffer?

The author admits there are far more questions than answers. I appreciate that this was not written in a legalistic manner, and it doesn’t condemn. He is just asking valid questions; questions that we must all answer for ourselves.

My one big concern with this book is that it seems to almost bring good works up to gospel level; as if they are a second part of the gospel, rather than an evidence of our faith. Please notice I said almost. He does not claim this, but I fear that it could easily be interpreted that way and turned into legalism and/or the social gospel.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

You can read the first chapter HERE.