Thursday, October 17, 2013

Book Review: Humble Orthodoxy

Book Description:

We don’t get to choose between humility and orthodoxy. We need both.
Orthodoxy, for the faithful, evokes what’s cherished and beautiful and eternal. Yet in our day, orthodoxy is too often wielded like a weapon, used to bludgeon others with differing points of view. The word has become associated with behavior like argumentative, annoying, and arrogant.
It’s time for God’s people to demonstrate both right thinking and right attitudes. We are called to embrace and defend biblical truth. But that truth includes repeated commands to love our neighbor, love our enemy, and be clothed in gentleness and respect.  
In Humble Orthodoxy, bestselling author Joshua Harris examines New Testament teachings about the calling of believers to a love-infused courage that ignores foolish controversies, patiently endures evil, and champions truth with generosity of spirit. Without this kind of humility, Harris asserts, we become like the Pharisees—right in our doctrine, but ultimately destroying the cause of truth with our pride.

My Review:

This book is a must read for Christians today. In an age in church history where the very existence of truth is under attack, it seems that those who most want to contend for they faith often forget that we we need to speak the truth in love.

In a very humble yet firm manner Harris calls all Christians to carefully examine how we conduct ourselves and how we contend for the faith.

Reading this book was both very convicting and very encouraging to me. After seeing true friendships end over differences in minor doctrinal points, and weathering the seemingly endless Facebook wars, it is so refreshing to read a book that encouraged to remember that both humility and orthodoxy are important.

This book is short and very easy to read. This is one that now has a permanent spot in our library, and I'm sure I will refer back to it often.

I must mention that I received a complimentary review copy of this book through Waterbrook Multnomah's Blogging for Books program.

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Review: A Plain Disappearance by Amanda Flower

Book Description:

It’s Christmastime in Amish Country, and Chloe Humphrey has begun settling into her life in Appleseed Creek excited to see where her new relationship with Timothy Troyer will lead. Unfortunately it leads to murder when the couple discovers the body of Amish teenager Katie Lambright while on their first date. 

Near the scene there is evidence that Timothy’s friend and auto mechanic Billy Thorpe is involved with the crime. The police reveal Billy is not really who he said he was and has been living the last decade in Knox County under a stolen alias. Now, Chloe and Timothy must find Billy, bring him to justice, or prove his innocence.

My Review:

This was an interesting story with a mix of light romance, a bit of mystery, and a touch of Amish life. It may seem like a strange blend, but Amanda Flower makes it work. This is far more than you average English-meets-Amish story.

The story moves along at a very nice pace, and I enjoyed this unique twist on Amish fiction. By the end of the book I found that I really liked the main characters, but it took awhile to get to that point. 

The plot was not predictable and the mystery very slowly unfolds, keeping the reader interested until the very end.

I think I would have enjoyed the book more if I had read the previous two books first. It took awhile to feel like I understood all of the characters and the complexities of their relationships, but many of these things were developed in the previous books. Those reading this as a stand-alone are at a disadvantage in this regard. 

Overall, I liked the book but I would recommend reading "A Plain Death" and "A Plain Scandal" first.

I must mention that I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Handlebar Marketing in exchange for an honest review.

Review: An Untamed Heart

Book Description:

Twenty-year-old Ingeborg Strand is certain she is destined to be an old maid. She's had several suitors but none she deemed worthy of spending her life with. That is, until she meets a university student from Oslo, and feelings stronger than friendship begin to develop between them. But tragedy strikes, and the future begins to look bleaker than ever.

Grief settles heavily over Ingeborg, and her mother suggests that she leave Norway and start afresh in America, as so many others have done before her. But how will she accomplish that with little money and no one to accompany her?

It isn't long before she meets Roald Bjorklund, a widower who has been planning to go to America for some time, lured by the promise of free land. He's a good man, a hard-working man--and he has a young son who desperately needs a mother. He's clearly interested in Ingeborg, but is he the answer to her prayers? And what about love? This isn't how she's always imagined it.

Ingeborg Strand has a heartrending decision to make...

My Review:

I loved this prequel! Ingeborg is one of my very favorite fictional characters, and I loved getting a glimpse at the young woman that becomes the woman we all know and love from the Red River of the North series, and subsequent series. The traits the make her uniquely her are developed in this book, and she is as easy to relate to as ever.

The story moves along at a very nice pace, and isn't too predictable - which seems to often be an issue in prequels.

If you have read any of the other novels, don't worry - start with this one and you will fall in love with Ingeborg too :-)

I must mention that I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: The Secret Keeper

Book Description:

With her love for all things old-fashioned, Jennifer Burns has often been told she's an "old soul," but no one is prepared for the young woman's decision to set aside her modern life in favor of the Old Order Amish world. Yet Jenny does exactly that, adopting Plain dress and settling in with Samuel and Rebecca Lapp while she works as a mother's helper for the bishop's wife--a far cry from her former job as an x-ray technician.

The people of Hickory Hollow are curious about the beautiful young seeker among them, one handsome Amishman in particular. But he is not the only man vying for Jenny's affections, and Jenny faces many challenges in the Proving time the brethren have set for her...challenges of the heart, as well as the spirit.

Will Jenny's secrets keep her from the peace she longs for? Or will they lead the way home?

My Review:

I've really enjoyed Beverly Lewis' Amish fiction for a long time. I've read all of them, and have appreciated her recent Home to Hickory Hollow series, which this book is a part. This one is one of my favorites, if not number 1.

I loved the characters in this book, both the new ones and the familiar faces. I loved the story, with it's unique twist. It's not often that one reads of one seeking to join the Amish. In tackling this more challenging story line, Lewis really brings to life the themes of submission, humility, and obedience in Amish theology and day-to-day life. 

I also enjoyed reading more about Samuel and Rebecca Lapp, who will be familiar to long time Lewis readers. There was a great depth of character in Rebecca, and reading their continuing story with them as primary characters was a real treat. 

If you read The Shunning and the subsequent books in that series, you must read this book.

I must mention that I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Blood and Bone

Book Description:

A decade after Serpent of Moses, Jack is married to Espy and back teaching at Evanston University. They have two sons, one of whom has cystic fibrosis. Despite this challenge, life is comfortable. But that all changes when the CIA, while combing through the papers of the late Gordon Reese, uncovers the secret of Elisha's bones. Jack's world is then turned upside down by an urgent call from his old friend Duckey, who's been alerted to the CIA's probing by one of his former contacts. Jack and his family escape from their home just ahead of the CIA, and he decides to do what he should have done long ago: recover the bones and destroy them. Except the bones aren't where he left them.

So now Jack is in a race, for the last time, to find the bones. And he's not the only one. Pitted against both the CIA and an organization that will kill to protect their secrets, Jack and Espy follow hard-to-decipher clues across the globe before arriving in the catacombs of Paris for a final showdown that will either save their family--or tear apart everything they hold dear forever.

My Review:

This book was an absolute wild ride from the very first page. Fast paced and action packed, this book was very hard to put down. The plot is full of twists and turns and it draws the reader along right until the very end.

Great characters and great attention to detail also make this book very special.

If you haven't read Serpent of Moses, don't worry - this will read fine as a stand alone. I have read Serpent of Moses, but it was quite awhile ago and I really didn't remember it too well. The author does a great job of filling in the back story, making it easy to read on it's own.

I would highly recommend this book.
I must mention that I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Dark Road Home

Book Description:

Ana Kavanagh's only memories of home are of fire and pain. As a girl she was the only survivor of a terrible blaze, and years later she still struggles with her anger at God for letting it happen. 

At a nearby parish she meets and finds a kindred spirit in Eoghan Hamilton, who is struggling with his own anger--his sister, Cara, betrayed him by falling in love with one of his enemies. Cast aside by everyone, Eoghan longs to rejoin the Fenians, a shadowy organization pushing for change back in Ireland. But gaining their trust requires doing some favors--all of which seem to lead back to Ana. Who is she and who is searching for her? As dark secrets from Ana's past begin to come to light, Eoghan must choose which road to follow--and where to finally place his trust.

My Review:

This book was a great adventure right from the first page. It was fast-paced and full of unexpected twists and turns. I love every moment of it.

If you read No Safe Harbor you  must read this book. I would add, though, that this book would not read well as a stand-alone. I would highly recommend reading No Safe Harbor first. I think it would be very difficult to keep track of the characters and understand the complexities of their relationships without the first book.

I must mention that I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: The Miners Lady

     Book Description

When Chantel Panetta's younger sister claims to be in love with Orlando Calarco, Chantel knows there is no hope. The Panettas and Calarcos have been sworn enemies for decades, and young love cannot heal the deep wounds between the two iron-mining families. Yet, unable to resist Isabella's pleas, Chantel agrees to help her sister spend time with Orlando...only to have a run-in with Dante, Orlando's brother. The older, more handsome one.

Chantel can't deny the attraction that flares when she's with Dante. But when a tragedy occurs at the mine, is there any hope that the hatred that has simmered between these two families might be resolved? Or will Chantel's hope for love be buried amidst decades of misunderstanding?

My Review:

This book was an adventure from the first page. I loved the delightfully quirky characters, the "just right" pace of the story, and tale of long-time feuding families.
I also enjoyed the look into the risk-filled lives of mining families. The author did a great job of addressing many of the issues that faced people in that day, and putting the reader in the midst of it.

Overall, I very much enjoyed this book.

I must mention that I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Stealing the Preacher

Book Description:

A cowboy who wants to be a preacher. An outlaw's daughter who wants to change his mind.

On his way to interview for a position at a church in the Piney Woods of Texas, Crockett Archer can't believe it when he's forced off the train by an outlaw and presented to the man's daughter as the preacher she requested for her birthday. He's determined to escape--which would be much easier if he could stop thinking about Joanna Robbins and her unexpected request.

For months, Joanna had prayed for a minister. A man to breathe life back into the abandoned church at the heart of her community. A man to assist her in fulfilling a promise to her dying mother. But just when it seems her prayers have been answered, it turns out the parson is there against his will and has dreams of his own calling him elsewhere. Is there any way she can convince Crockett he ended up right where he was supposed to be?

With her signature blend of humor, history, and lively western romance, two-time RITA Award finalist and bestselling author Karen Witemeyer delivers a Texas love story sure to steal your heart.

 My Review: 

If you love "Short-Straw Bride" you must read this book! It was so nice to get a peak back in to the lives of the Archer family. 
The characters in this book were absolutely delightful, and I really enjoyed the light humor in the story. I also enjoyed the thread of faith that pulls the whole book together. 
If you haven't read the first book, don't worry this one will read just fine as a stand-alone. 

I must mention that I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.

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Monday, May 13, 2013

Review: The Guardian by Beverly Lewis

Book Description:

When schoolteacher Jodi Winfield goes for a morning run, the last thing she expects is to find a disheveled little girl all alone on the side of the Pennsylvania road, clad only in her undergarments, her chubby cheeks streaked with tears. Jodi takes the preschooler home with her, intending to find out where she belongs. But Jodi is mystified when no one seems to know of a missing child, and the girl herself is no help, since she can't speak a word of English. It's as if the child appeared out of nowhere.

As the days pass, Jodi becomes increasingly attached to the mysterious girl, yet she is no closer to learning her identity. Then an unexpected opportunity brings Jodi to Hickory Hollow--and into the cloistered world of the Lancaster Old Order Amish. Might the answers lie there?

My Review:

I very much enjoyed this book. It was all that I have come to expect from Beverly Lewis and more.

I loved the way the seeming tragedy of a missing child (Sarah) brings together these two women, both struggling with grief, each in their own way. Though their lives are so very different, these unusual circumstances bring them together in a very unique friendship.

As always, the reader gets a nice taste of Amish life and theology, as well as visits with old Hickory Hollow friends like the Wise Woman.

Though part of a series, this book could very easily be read as a stand-alone too.

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

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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Review: Unrivaled

Book Description:

Lucy Kendall returns from a tour of the Continent, her luggage filled with the latest fashions and a mind fired by inspiration. After tasting Europe's best confections, she's sure she'll come up with a recipe that will save her father's struggling candy business and reverse their fortunes. But she soon discovers that their biggest competitor, the cheat who swindled her father out of his prize recipe, has now hired a promotions manager--a cocky, handsome out-of-towner who gets under Lucy’s skin.

Charlie Clarke's new role at Standard Manufacturing is the chance of a lifetime. He can put some rough times behind him and reconnect with the father he's never known. The one thing he never counted on, however, was tenacious Lucy Kendall. She's making his work life miserable...and making herself impossible for him to forget.

My Review:

Siri Mitchell is one of my favorite historical fiction authors, and I really expected to enjoy this book. While it was a decent story, it wasn't all that I have come to expect from Mitchell. This book lacked the rich detail and vivid descriptions that I've so enjoyed in her other books. Even with elegant balls in historic St Louis, there just wasn't enough detail to bring it to life. 
I also found it a bit difficult to relate to Lucy Kendall. For most of the book I actually found her to be beyond naive and annoying, and overall her character was just not very believable. She did not have the depth of character that I would have expected.
This is a book that had a lot of potential, but it just didn't really come together. That, being said I still won't hesitate to pick up Mitchell's next book.

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

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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Review: Goodbye to Yesterday

Book Description

February 5, 2013 The Discovery - A Lancaster County Saga (Book 1)

Join Meredith and Luke Stoltzfus, an Amish couple who are faced with the greatest challenge of their young lives. Financial struggles. Arguments. A suspected pregnancy. A last-minute trip to Middlebury, Indiana. A deadly encounter at a Philadelphia bus station. Will their love and faith be enough to bring them back together again, against all odds?  Book 1 of the 6-part serial novel--The Discovery-A Lancaster County Saga.

My Review:

Filled with the classic newly-wed struggles, I found this novella to be both enjoyable to read and easy to relate to. 
The characters are very realistic and engaging right from the start. 
The story moves very fast and has more twists in the plot than I would expect in such a short book. It is also very emotionally engaging and it gripped me from the very beginning.
I read the story in one afternoon and I can't wait for the next book in the series to come out.
* I must mention that I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Handlebar.

Book Review: Waiting for Morning/Brides of Last Chance Ranch

Book Description

The Brides of Last Chance Ranch, #3
Molly Hatfield comes to Arizona Territory seeking stability and security. But living in Cactus Patch provides her with more than she ever dreamed.
There is nothing Molly wouldn’t do for her teenaged brother, Donny. Blaming herself for the accident that left him wheelchair bound, Molly has dedicated her life to his care. But in 1896, gainful employment for a woman is hard to come by. So when Molly learns that an eccentric rancher in Cactus Patch, Arizona, is looking for an heiress—someone to take over management of the ranch in exchange for future ownership—she jumps at the chance to provide a real home for her brother.
However, Molly didn’t bank on meeting Dr. Caleb Fairbanks, the town’s charming unmarried doctor. Caleb has a way with Molly that makes her nervous. But it’s how he is with her brother that really alarms her. Caleb sees past the wheelchair and genuinely likes Donny, but Molly fears he’s putting unrealistic ideas into her brother’s head. Falling in love with Caleb would threaten everything she’s worked for, even her brother’s future happiness. But it could be the very reason God brought her to Last Chance Ranch.
My Review:
This book is an adventure right from the first chapter. Beginning with a devastating fire that, the now-former dance hall girl sets out with her crippled brother to find a new life at Last Chance Ranch.
Always feeling like an outcast, Molly struggles to fit in at the Ranch, while wrestling with "fitting in" to the body of Christ as well. 
I loved the quirky and colorful characters in this book. They were funny yet sincere and always very lively. Having read the previous books in this serious, I loved the look back into the lives of the other characters, yet it would be fine to read this book as a stand-alone too.
What I most appreciated about this book was the strong message of faith - something that is often missing from Christian fiction today.
*I must mention I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the BookSneeze program.

Book Review: Firefly Island

Book Description

February 1, 2013
Lisa Wingate Is a Top Name in Inspirational Contemporary Romance

At thirty-four, congressional staffer Mallory Hale is about to embark on an adventure completely off the map. After a whirlwind romance, she is hopelessly in love with two men--fortunately, they're related. Daniel Everson and his little boy, Nick, are a package deal, and Mallory suddenly can't imagine her future without them.

Mallory couldn't be more shocked when Daniel asks her to marry him, move to Texas, and form a family with him and motherless Nick. The idea is both thrilling and terrifying.

Mallory takes a leap of faith and begins a sweet, mishap-filled journey into ranch living, Moses Lake society, and a marriage that at times reminds her of the mail-order-bride stories. But despite the wild adventure of her new life, she discovers secrets and questions beneath her rosy new life. Can she find answers on Firefly Island, a little chunk of property just off the lakeshore, where mysterious lights glisten at night?

My Review:

I loved this trip back to Moses Lake. From the light romance, to the funny yet true-to-life hiccups of the newlywed days this book was the perfect blend of humor and mystery.
I really enjoyed following the story of Mallory, as she goes through this season of life where she is stretched and molded while discovering who she truly is.
I also enjoyed the glimpse back into the lives of the other Moses Lake residents that long time readers of Wingate will know - like Len and Birdie, Doc, and the others.
Overall, this was everything I have come to expect from Wingate.
* I must mention that I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Bethany House.

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Review: The Tutor's Daughter by Julie Klassen




Emma Smallwood, determined to help her widowed father when his boarding school fails, accompanies him to the cliff-top manor of a baronet and his four sons. But soon after they arrive and begin teaching the two younger boys, mysterious things begin to happen. Who does Emma hear playing the pianoforte at night, only to find the music room empty? And who begins sneaking into her bedchamber, leaving behind strange mementoes?   The baronet's older sons, Phillip and Henry Weston, wrestle with problems--and secrets--of their own. They both remember the studious Miss Smallwood from their days at her father's academy. But now one of them finds himself unexpectedly drawn to her....   When suspicious acts escalate, can Emma figure out which brother to blame and which to trust with her heart?
  Filled with page-turning suspense, The Tutor's Daughter takes readers to the windswept Cornwall coast--a place infamous for shipwrecks and superstitions--where danger lurks, faith is tested, and romance awaits. 

My Review:

I very much enjoyed this book. As always, Klassen has done an outstanding job bringing the story alive through vivid description, historically accurate detail, and interesting characters. With a thread of mystery winding through the plot, the reader is drawn through book. Unexpected twists in the plot keep it interesting - I could hardly put it down.
What I most liked was the look inside the 19th century English Manor House. From the tensions between the servants and the tutor, and the in between nature of his position (not family, but higher than a servant) to the look at the life of the maids, I found the detail quite interesting. 
I also enjoyed the glimpse of Cornwall history found in this book.
The only thing I didn't like was the  "Jane Eyre" part of the plot. I won't give any spoilers here, but it just seemed to me that one of the major plot lines was quite similar to Bronte's work.
Overall, I found it do be a good piece of historical fiction.

*I must mention that I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for a honest opinion.

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Review: Silent Night by Colleen Coble

Book Description

As Christmas day nears, Bree and her faithful search-and-rescue dog Samson follow the trail of a troubling mystery into the snowy forests of Rock Harbor.
Bree Matthews is preparing for Christmas guests, but her heart is reeling from the recent and tender loss of her unborn child. Her sister-in-law, Lauri, suddenly turns up on the doorstep of the lighthouse home Bree shares with her husband, Kade, in Rock Harbor. Secretive and withdrawn, Lauri seems curiously intent on discovering what happened to a parachuter who disappeared in the North Woods along Lake Superior's icy shore.
As Bree and Samson, her search-and-rescue dog, plunge into the search, Bree wonders if Lauri may know more than she’s admitted about the parachuter. And then the clues lead them to the trail of a young woman whose family fears the worst about her disappearance.
Will the search on this snowy, silent night lead Bree and Samson to more than clues about the missing girl? And will Bree’s prayer for a baby ever be answered?

My Review:
I had high hopes for this book. Colleen Coble is one of my favorite author and so far I have enjoyed the Rock Harbor series.

This book had a lot of potential. The look back into the lives of characters I've come to know in previous books was nice. The plot started out looking like it would be the complex and multi-faceted plots I have come to expect from Coble. And, in some ways she delivered. The plot moved very quickly and there were a very subplots that were interesting. There were unexpected twists in the plot that kept it interesting. But, in the end, I was just a little disappointed.

First, it really lacked the depth that I had expected. As I said, it started out looking like a complex plot, but it ended up seeming like there were just a few details thrown in to keep the smaller storylines going.Perhaps some of it was just a bit too ambitious for a novella.

And then, the storyline seemed very rushed. While I tend to expect a fast moving story from Coble, this one seemed very rushed.  It seemed like the foundation for a great book was there, but it needed more time and development to really make the story come alive. When I reached the end I couldn't help but think "That was it?" It just seemed too short, even for a novella.

Overall, it is a good book, but it's less than what I have come to expect from Coble.

*I must mention I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Review: Christmas at Apple Ridge by Cindy Woodsmall

Book Description:

Three-in-One Collection: The Sound of Sleigh Bells, The Christmas Singing, NEW! The Dawn of Christmas

Experience the holidays with the Plain folk of Apple Ridge, Pennsylvania, in these touching novellas centered around love, romance, heartache, and restoration from best-selling author Cindy Woodsmall.

The Sound of Sleigh Bells
Beth Hertzler is unable to let go of a past tragedy, but when she discovers a large, intricately carved scene of Amish children playing in the snow, something deep inside Beth’s soul responds. Determined that her niece meet the gifted artist, her aunt tracks him down, but it’s not that simple – will Jonah be able to offer Beth the sleigh ride she’s always dreamed of and a second chance at real love?
The Christmas Singing
Mattie thought her childhood sweetheart adored her until he abruptly ended their engagement on Christmas Eve. Brokenhearted, Mattie moves away and pursues her longtime dream of becoming a cake decorator, and even finds a new beau. But when Mattie is forced to return home three years later, will learning the truth behind Gideon’s rejection restore her Christmas joy – or open the door to even deeper heartbreak?
The Dawn of Christmas
Sadie enjoys her freedom away from home and her mission trips to Peru, but after four years, her Old Order Amish family insists it’s time to come home and settle down. Levi, a bachelor who distrusts women after a family heartbreak, also has no desire for romance. To keep their families from meddling in their lives, Sadie and Levi devise a plan—but soon discover that the walls around their hearts are breaking down. Can they let go of their prejudices, learn to trust each other, and embrace a future together? 


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My Review:

I enjoyed this collection of Amish Christmas stories.

The Sound of Sleigh Bells was probably my favorite of the three. The characters, especially Beth and Jonah, really touched my heart. While both struggle to overcome tragedies of their past, they form an unlikely though deep bond. I thought the author really brought this story to life with her colorful descriptions and also showed a deep understanding of the heart of an artist. The themes of hope and forgiveness come through clearly.

I previously reviewed The Christmas Singing and will share my thoughts again here:

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 anything spectacular.
 The Dawn of Christmas is the new story in this series. I found it to be entertaining and enjoyable to read, though a bit predictable. Sadie and Levi are very likable characters and the author does a good job of making the reader feel what they are feeling. The story moves along swiftly and draws the reader with it. 
What I most liked about this third story was the way the author ties in the other two and gives you a peak into their continuing stories.
Taken as a whole, I like the collection. None of them are very heavy on the Christmas theme, which makes it nice reading for any time of year. Some of the themes from the first story follow all the way through the other two, making them very cohesive and best read together rather than as separate stories.
If you enjoy Amish fiction, I think you will enjoy this collection.
*I must mention that I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Review: The Truth About the Lordship of Christ

Book Description

"Becoming a Christian means being sick of your sin, longing for forgiveness and rescue from present evil and future hell, and affirming your commitment to the Lordship of Christ to the point where you are willing to forsake everything. I've said it before and I'll say it again: it isn't just holding up your hand or walking down an aisle and saying, 'I love Jesus.'" ―John MacArthur
Best-selling author and pastor John MacArthur brings his deep knowledge of Scripture to this foundational subject. Step by step, he walks through the impact of God's sovereignty, our submission, the characteristics of holy living, and our assurance of salvation. MacArthur makes the case that the Christian life is full and rich―but not easy. It requires sacrifice, perseverance, and transformation in the ongoing process of becoming more like Christ. And it is absolutely worth the cost.
The Truth About Series For decades, MacArthur has encouraged countless Christians to develop a deeper understanding of the Bible and a greater respect for God's truth. In The Truth About Series, he now gathers his landmark teachings about core aspects of the Christian faith in one place. These powerful books are designed to give readers a focused experience that centers on God's character and how it applies to their daily walk of faith.

My Review

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. This book was everything I have come to expect from John MacArthur. Pastor MacArthur opens God's Word to clearly teach the powerful and sobering truths about the Lordship of Christ in a manner that is easy to follow and understand.
It was a little different than I expected, yet in a good way. In The Gospel According to the Apostles MacArthur clearly laid out the case against No-Lordship salvation, and I expected that this would would be along the same lines, but it really wasn't - and that's OK. This book focused on the truths, clearly expounded and applied to the lives of believers. It is a powerful yet short book that will really help you understand what lordship really means.
If you are wondering about the no-lordship salvation issue, I would recommend The Gospel According to the Apostles in addition to this book.
*I must mention that I received a complimentary review copy of this book from BookSneeze.

Review: No Safe Harbor by Elizabeth Ludwig

Book Description:

Publication Date: October 1, 2012 | Series: Edge of Freedom (Book 1)
The Thrill of Romantic Suspense Meets the Romance of 1800s America

Lured by a handful of scribbled words across a faded letter, Cara Hamilton sets off from 1896 Ireland on a quest to find the brother she'd thought dead. Her search lands her in America, amidst a houseful of strangers and one man who claims to be a friend--Rourke Walsh.

Despite her brother's warning, Cara decides to trust Rourke and reveals the truth about her purpose in America. But he is not who he claims to be, and as rumors begin to circulate about an underground group of dangerous revolutionaries, Cara's desperation grows. Her questions lead her ever closer to her brother, but they also bring her closer to destruction as Rourke's true intentions come to light.

My Review: 

This book is packed with suspense, many twists in the plot, intriguing characters, and historical situations. The story was very believable, and I found myself genuinely caring what happened to Cara. The characters were well developed and I enjoyed the way the author slowly revealed details of their past throughout the whole book.
One of the things I enjoyed most about this book was the way that the author feeds the reader just a little more information than what the characters have without giving anything away. Doing so made the book that much more of an adventure to read.
I would recommend this book to those who love historical fiction.
*I must mention I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Bethany House.

Preview It:

No Safe Harbor

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Review: A Change of Fortune by Jen Turano

Book Description:

Publication Date: November 1, 2012
Rollicking Debut from an Exciting New Author

Lady Eliza Sumner is on a mission. Her fortune was the last thing she had left after losing her father, her fiance, and her faith. Now, masquerading as Miss Eliza Sumner governess-at-large, she's determined to find the man who ran off with her fortune, reclaim the money, and head straight back to London.

Mr. Hamilton Beckett, much to his chagrin, is the catch of the season, and all the eyes of New York society--all the female ones, at least--are on him. He has no plans to marry again, especially since his hands are full keeping his business afloat while raising his two children alone.

Eliza's hapless attempts to regain her fortune unexpectedly put her right in Hamilton's path. The discovery of a common nemesis causes them to join forces and, before she knows it, Eliza has a whole retinue of people helping her. Eliza's determination not to trust anyone weakens when everyone's antics and bumbling efforts to assist her make her wonder if there might be more important things than her fortune and independence.


My Review:

The book is a wild ride right from the first page. It is very fast-paced with unexpected twists in turns in the plot that kept me reading late into the night. There was much to love about this book:
~The characters are witty and full of personality - a combination that made them easy to love. Quirky kids and English aristocracy, quite a combination.
~The author did a nice job of weaving important social issues of the day into the storyline.
~The shifts in the point-of-view were very easy to follow.

My only complaint about the book was that it, at times, didn't flow very well. It seemed a bit choppy with several very abrupt changes. It seemed that slowing down just a bit and filling in some details might have made it just a bit better.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book.
*I must mention that I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Bethany House.

A Change Of Fortune

Review: Waiting for Morning

Book Description

April 5, 2002
“I’m afraid there’s been a car accident...”As Hannah Ryan waits for her family to return home from a camping trip, she realizes she has everything going for her—a husband other women admire, two charming teenage daughters, and a loving Christian home. As the sunny afternoon turns into twilight, her uneasiness grows along with the shadows. Then a car pulls into Hannah’s driveway, bringing two police officers...and devastating news that shatters her life forever.
In the days that follow, Hannah struggles with unspeakable feelings of sorrow and rage—feelings that fuse into one chilling purpose for living: revenge against Brian Wesley, the drunk driver who has caused all her pain.
In her fury, Hannah shuts the Lord out of her life. She’s determined not to forgive Wesley or the God who allowed this tragedy to happen. Can two caring people help Hannah rediscover her faith...before bitterness destroys her?

My Review:

This book is packed with emotion right from the beginning. To say it is a tear-jerker is an understatement. It's a story that, as a wife and mother, would truly be my worst nightmare. Kingsbury does a great job of putting the reader in the story, making you feel what the characters feel.
However, I didn't like this book as much as previous Kingsbury novels. The main reason was that I found myself really disliking Hannah Ryan. Her selfishness and anger were very irritating to me.
The other problem I had with the book was that it felt the charges against the drunk driver were a bit far-fetched and unlikely to ever really happen.
Overall, it is a decent book and most Kingsbury fans will probably enjoy it.
*I must mention that I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah.

Preview it:

 Waiting for Morning by Karen Kingsbury (Chapter 1 Excerpt)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Review: A Perfect Word for Every Occasion

Book Description

September 1, 2012
Timely Words for When They're Needed Most

The right words don't always come easily. For those who want to bless others with words that go beyond cliches, A Perfect Word for Every Occasion offers examples and guidelines for things to say, lines to write, and Scripture verses to share. Readers will find words to use anywhere: Facebook messages, emails, cards, receiving lines, birthdays, anniversaries, texting, graduations, emotional occasions, and more. They'll even discover what not to say.

Full of encouraging messages organized by category, A Perfect Word for Every Occasion will save readers time while strengthening their relationships.

My Review:

This book is perfect for doofusses like me. I'm the one who never has more to say than "Happy Birthday" or perhaps "I'm sorry for your loss." I never know what else to say (or not to say). I love the way so many of my friends always have this way of expressing the nicest birthday wishes, thoughtful thank you notes, and just in general always seem to have "the perfect word." Yet when I pick up the pen (or log in to Facebook) I have nothing. And if you can relate to that, this book is for you.
In the short and easy to follow book the author does an excellent job in showing the reader how to identify what is is they want to say, organize your thoughts, and write what your heart feels in many different situations. There are also suggestions Scripture quotations for various situations. What's more, she very clearly lays out what not to say - with humorous illustrations featuring the Queen Doofuss, Aunt Me-me. 
This is a book I will hang on to, as it is laid out in such a way that it will be easy to quick look up anything from sympathy cards to wedding thank-you notes and write something heartfelt and meaningful.

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


Preview It


A Perfect Word for Every Occasion