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Showing posts from 2013

What Once Was Lost

What Once Was Lost by Kim Vogel Sawyer follows the life of Christina Willems, a lady who runs the Brambleville Asylum for the Poor on a Kansas farm. When the worst happens and a fire breaks out, she has to scramble to find a way to keep all those in her care safe and sheltered. Her only option to house Tommy, a blind boy, is to approach mill owner Levi Jonnson. The book goes through the twists and turns of Levi taking care of Tommy and the growing and changing relationship between Christina and Levi. This book is okay, but it's not amazing. It's something to read when you just want something quick, easy, and relaxing. The plot was predictable and at times boring, but solid enough to carry through to the end. There were a lot of characters to keep track of, and I find that that can make it difficult to care about any particular one when there's so many to follow. The love story between Christina and Levi was a bit lacking - like other reviews mentioned, they went from disl…

The Key To The Middle East

The Key To The Middle East: Discovering the Future of Israel in Biblical Prophecy by Derek Prince is the third edition, previously published under the titles The Last Word on the Middle East (1982) and Promised Land (2005). The author died in 2003. This current edition has been updated by his editorial team. The book is divided into two sections: Historical Perspective and Prophetic Fulfillment, with special sections Chronology of Events in Israel from 1947-2012 and Why Visit Israel? It also contains Notes and an Index. This book is a good place to start when wanting to learn more about Israel and Biblical prophecy. Prince's tone is conversational and the book is easy to read and understand, even for beginners. It piqued my interest in learning more about Israel and what the Bible says about the Middle East. The book did feel a bit dated at times, since it was originally written in 1982. I could tell it was an older book. However, there was still much to take away from reading it…

Pilgrimage

Pilgrimage: My Journey to a Deeper Faith in the Land Where Jesus Walked is a refreshing read by Lynn Austin. This book is basically her journal of going through a dry, rough patch in her faith. During the midst of this desert in her faith, she takes the opportunity to take a trip to Israel and visit the Holy Land. This is a beautiful book. The cover is nicely done, and the pages inside are designed well. There are some black and white sketches inside, but some pictures of Lynn's trip would have been appreciated as well. The book is divided into twelve chapters, each chronicling a particular portion of her journey. I loved this book. Lynn's open and honest look at the times when our faith becomes routine or we question our faith was very relateable and something I could identify with. Reading about her trip through the Holy Land was very exciting and she has a wonderful ability to make you feel like you are actually there with her words. You will feel like you were there walki…

Ghost Boy

Ghost Boy by Martin Pistorius is a heartbreaking, and at times chilling, but ultimately hopeful story of a normal, healthy boy whose life was turned upside down from something as simple as a sore throat. Martin went from a typical child to basically a vegetative state as an unknown disease went through his body and it slowly shut down. About four years after his ordeal began, his mind began to wake up - but he couldn't move or communicate and nobody knew. He spent a decade trapped in an unresponsive body and unable to let anyone know his mind was back. This story tells a heartbreaking story of how he finally managed to reclaim his life. This is an amazing book. Martin's story is so important because it will change the way people think about and view people who are in what is believed to be a vegetative state. How heartbreaking to know that there may be others who are believed to be completely unresponsive who are, in fact, awake and alert inside. I hope that this story may c…

The Global War On Christians

The Global War on Christians by John L. Allen, Jr. is a very important book for our time. We hear a lot about persecution of Muslims, atheists, etc. in the news, but we don't hear much, if anything, about persecution of Christians. This book promises to uncover and expose the secret war on Christians around the globe. It goes much further than the "persecution" in America, such as the "war on Christmas". No, Christians around the world are being jailed, murdered, beaten, beheaded, and more. Physically, this is a very handsome book. It's a sturdy hardcover with a compelling and well designed cover/back cover. The back cover is plain black with simply the words "It's time to wake up". That phrase basically sums up the main idea of the whole book. I cannot recommend this book any more highly. Buy it, read it, and discover what is going on around the globe, and what could happen in America someday as well. This is the type of book that will give …

Still Lolo

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I recently read Still Lolo by Lauren Scruggs, the Scruggs family, and Marcus Brotherton. I had heard about Lauren Scruggs in the media and was interested in reading the whole story about what had happened to her, so I chose this book. In December 2011, she took a short plane ride to look at Christmas lights over Texas and walked into the propeller blades while disembarking the plane. Several surgeries followed, and she miraculously survived, mostly intact. Still Lolo skips back and forth between Lauren, her twin, her dad, and her mom. It details her childhood, her parent's marriage troubles, her life as a young adult, and of course, the accident and recovery period. I have to be honest about this book, but I'll detail the parts I liked about it first. This book was a very quick read (I read it in about 24 hours), definitely a page turner (since it kept flipping perspectives, you wanted to keep reading to find out what would happen next), and very interesting. Honestly, the…

Critical Reaction

Critical Reaction by Todd M. Johnson is a legal thriller. The Hanford Nuclear Facility is a mostly-shut-down plutonium site. Security guards monitor the site to keep it safe and secure. But one night, the worst case scenario happens - an explosion rips through the plant, exposing the men to radiation. But not is all as it seems at Hanford. There is a secret plot behind the scenes and Kieran Mullaney , along with others, get caught up in it. Kieran and one of his coworkers, Poppy, experience terrible symptoms of radiation poisoning, yet they're told they've been exposed to no radiation and are asked to lie about the night the explosion happened. Kieran turns to his old friend, Emily Hart, who is a new lawyer. She has to ask her estranged father, Ryan, for help. Legal thrillers are one of my favorite genres, so I was really excited to read this book. I had a little trouble getting into the beginning because of the descriptions of the nuclear facility and the plutonium making p…

The Glory Of Heaven

The Glory Of Heaven by Betty Malz is subtitled Inspiring True Stories And Answers To Common Questions. It is decribed as a book containing not only true stories of people visiting Heaven and returning (near death experiences), but also a description of and questions and answers about Heaven, drawing from Scripture and personal experiences. Betty has written another entire book about her experience of dying and visiting Heaven and returning to earth, so she doesn't give an extremely detailed account about it in this book, more of just an overview. This book has fairly short topical chapters so it's easy to pick up and put down after reading one chapter. I will admit that I read books about near death experiences with a healthy grain of salt. Betty's story does sound believable, and this book is more about answering the questions that many people have, such as "What does Heaven look like?", "What will we do in Heaven?", etc. She does use Scripture to ans…

Emma Of Aurora

Emma Of Aurora: The Complete Change And Cherish Trilogy by Jane Kirkpatrick is a sweeping, epic saga about the life of Emma Wagner Giesy and is based on a true story. This giant book (over 1,000 pages altogether) is really three books now available in one volume: A Clearing In The Wild, A Tendering In The Storm, and A Mending At The Edge, plus various Author's Notes, Bibliographies, Suggested Reading, Glossaries, etc. These three books span the life of Emma Wagner Giesy, a woman who belongs to a colony of Christian believers who live together and have all things in common. Emma is headstrong and has her own ideas about Christianity, women, marriage, men, and many other things, and is strong willed and not afraid of sharing her opinions. As such, she develops a strained relationship with the colony over time and at times her stubbornness leads to her great discomfort. I absolutely loved these books. I'm not the biggest historical fiction fan, however, these books sucked me in …

Nightmare City

Nightmare City by Andrew Klavan follows Tom, a reporter for his high school newspaper who wakes up to a world which is the stuff of nightmares: all alone, with no cell service, a thick fog rolling over his city, and zombies in the mist who try to attack him when he ventures out. Tom must try to find out the truth behind what is going on in order to survive this ordeal - and he can trust no one in the process. He eventually sorts through the sordid details of the events and able to survive. Let me start by saying that I didn't realize this book was a Young Adult title, so I was a little worried when I received it. However, this was a well written and enjoyable story for adults, as well. It was a quick and easy read - I finished it in less than a day - but the plot and story were extremely suspenseful and well written, and I couldn't stop turning the pages. The Christian message was woven throughout skillfully. It had strong Christian themes and a great moral to the story, but …

Why Diets Don't Work: Food Is Not The Problem

Why Diets Don't Work: Food Is Not The Problem by Joyce Tilney was a book that I thought was full of promise. Diet plans often ignore the spiritual side of weight loss, healthy eating, and treating your body as a temple of the Lord. I thought this book would be the answer that fills in the gap and was thrilled to read it. This book is attractive - the cover is very well put together, the chapter headings, sidebars, etc. looked very well put together and professional. It's a short book of 125 pages with 11 chapters, several appendices, and some introduction material in the front. As someone who has recently lost a significant amount of weight (over 35 lbs), who exercises regularly and is very interested in nutrition and fitness, I was eager to read this. I came away from this book feeling like the author started what could've been a great book, but then walked away and ended it before it was complete. Her premise was great, but I felt like the book built up to what should&#…

Christmas In Apple Ridge

Christmas In Apple Ridge by Cindy Woodsmall is a collection of three Amish novellas, all with a Christmas theme. The first novella, The Sounds Of Sleigh Bells, is about Beth Hertzler, a woman struggling with grief, who meets a new love and must learn to let her heart love again, The second, The Christmas Singing, follows Mattie, a cake baker and decorator, after her childhood sweetheart abruptly ends their engagement. The third, The Dawn Of Christmas, is about Sadie, a missionary to Peru. She comes back home to settle down with her Amish family and meets Levi, whom she must learn to trust and love. The first two novellas were published in 2009 and 2011, respectively, but the third novella is a new offering. I love Christmas-themed books to help me get into the spirit of the season, so I was eager to read this collection. It's perfect for the holidays - short, sweet, easy to read stories with a strong Christmas spirited theme running throughout. It's a delightful treat for Chr…

To Know You

To Know You by Shannon Ethridge and Kathryn Mackel is a gripping novel about love, loss, guilt, sin, and redemption. Julia and Matt Whittaker's son needs a liver transplant immediately. His only hope lies in the two children Julia had previously by two different men and gave up for adoption years ago. She has to travel back to her often embarrassing, shameful, guilt-ridden past to save her son and pray that her daughters can forgive her and be willing to help. I promise you this book will make you cry - but it will make you laugh and smile, too. As someone who became a Christian as an adult and made many mistakes as a teenager, I could definitely relate to the themes in this book. This story has the overarching theme of redemption. The storyline was absolutely compelling and I had trouble putting it down. You won't be able to tear yourself away as Julia explores her past and must come to terms with her mistakes. I love how this story was woven to show us how all our past fail…

Heart Failure

Heart Failure is Richard L. Mabry, M.D.'s latest offering in Christian medical/suspense/romance. I've read several of his previous books and have loved them, so was thrilled to read his newest book. Heart Failure follows Dr. Carrie Markham and her paralegal fiance, Adam Davidson. Carrie, while still struggling with the death of her husband and her failure to save his life, discovers that Adam isn't exactly who he said he was. The book takes off into a thrilling ride of death threats, attempted murders, medical mysteries, and, of course, Carrie's renewed faith in God. Both Adam and Carrie must come to terms with life altering situations that have affected them greatly, in their own ways. I won't spoil it, but the ending was definitely a surprise and I didn't see it coming. The book also includes a reader's guide at the end with discussion questions. This is an absolutely excellent book. I read it in two days and had trouble putting it down. It was the perfe…

Little Book Of Great Dates

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Little Book Of Great Dates by Dr. Greg and Erin Smalley is literally a little book - pocket sized. It's very attractive and would make a great gift book for an engagement, wedding, anniversary, etc. It has a beautiful imprinted blue imitation leather cover and comes packaged nicely. The premise of this book is to strengthen your marriage relationship via regular dating. It includes a short introduction and then 52 brief date ideas that include a quote, a couple-paragraph devotional type writing, the actual date activity/idea, and then questions for you to discuss with your spouse while on the date. It also includes a "Notes" section in the back with some further resources you might want to delve into. I chose this book because my husband and I try to go on a date at least once a month and could definitely use some fresh ideas and activities to try. While some of the dates suggested were pretty obvious, many were different from activities we've ever done. I'm ea…

Burning Sky

Burning Sky by Lori Benton is an ambitious novel of 400 pages that includes Author's Notes, a glossary, and a Reader's Guide. The cover is beautiful and it is quite a substantial book. The storyline follows Willa Obenchain, alias Burning Sky, who is abducted by Mohawk Indians when she is fourteen years old. Twelve years later, she decides to return to her family's home in New York. When she returns she find nothing as she expected to find it - her parents are missing, and her former friend is now claiming to own her family's land and is nothing like she remembered. This is a story of a girl caught between two completely different worlds and cultures against the backdrop of the Revolutionary War. I admit I was a bit hesitant to choose this title, as Indian/frontier novels usually aren't my favorite, and based on the description, I feared this was a rewritten Pocahontas story. However, this book pleasantly surprised me at every turn. I was immediately drawn in to th…

Harriet Beamer Strikes Gold

Harriet Beamer Strikes Gold by Joyce Magnin follows a spunky, adventurous elderly lady named, of course, Harriet Beamer. After taking a road trip across the country to come live with her son and daughter-in-law in book one of this series, Harriet Takes The Bus (which I haven't read yet, but can't wait to read now), she arrives and is swindled into a fake gold mine deal by a teenager and her shady father. The subplots of Harriet's best friend and her son's struggles and Harriet's son and daughter-in-law's struggle to have a baby are also rich and well developed. I absolutely loved this book. When I chose it I didn't realize it was Book Two in the Harriet Beamer series, but it read just as well as a stand alone title, although it did reference things from the first book. I plan to read the first book as soon as I can because this one was so enjoyable. This is a fun, witty, fresh, and quirky tale. An elderly protagonist was one I've never read before, and…

Born Of Persuasion

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Born Of Persuasion by Jessica Dotta is the first book in her new Price Of Privilege trilogy. In book one we meet the main characters, Julia, Edward, Elizabeth, Henry, and Mr. Macy. The novel is set in 1838 and follows young Julia, who has been orphaned and placed under the care of a mysterious, and anonymous, guardian. She fears his plans for her and decides to try to plan her own fate and future by seeking a marriage. When her plans to marry her (secretly) betrothed, Edward, go awry, she enters into an agreement with an unscrupulous matchmaker and ends up falling in love with the rich and handsome, but treacherous, Mr. Macy. This 430 page novel twists and turns so many times throughout its pages that at the end you will still not be sure everyone is who they say they are. I have to admit I was very hesitant to choose this book - I am not an Austen or Bronte fan, nor a huge historical fiction fan, nor have I ever read a Gothic novel, as this was described. Let me just say that I ab…

For Every Season

For Every Season is the third book in the Amish Vines and Orchards series by Cindy Woodsmall. Rhoda continues to work at developing a new Amish community in Maine with Samuel King. The love triangle between Rhoda, Samuel, and Jacob continues and comes to a head. Rhoda finally embraces Samuel so there is finally some resolution to that plot point in this book. This book, as the others, includes a brief synopsis of the series thus far in the beginning so you can pick this up and read it without first reading the other two books, but I would recommend still reading the others. I was excited to learn that there will be a fourth book in this series! Looking forward to reading it. For Every Season is an enjoyable continuation of this series, and in my opinion, the best book of the series so far. It was exciting, with plenty of new plot twists, and an easy and fun read. Cindy Woodsmall is very good at painting a vivid picture of the Amish life and her books are realistic and believable. Def…

Staying Alive: A Love Story

Staying Alive: A Love Story by Laura B. Hayden is a touching memoir of the loss of her husband. Laura lost her husband, Larry, suddenly when he was just 49 years old after he suffered a blood clot following a "routine" bypass surgery. This book is written as a series of essays that span her childhood, her marriage, the loss of her husband, dealing with grief, and her life as a widow. She discusses how she and her children all dealt with the loss differently. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this memoir. I laughed at some parts and teared up at others. This was a very quick read - I read it in one evening. I couldn't put it down - I felt like I knew the author by the time I finished it. My heart was touched by her poignant writing about her marriage and husband. I definitely left this book wanting to seize every moment in my life and marriage. I liked reading about her childhood as well, and enjoyed how she incorporated basically her whole life story into the book. I didn…

Forever Friday

Forever Friday by Timothy Lewis is a romance novel that spans three separate stories. There are three storylines that weave through the book. There's the story of Adam Colby, a recently divorced man who is trying to put his life back together, the love story of Gabe and Pearl, and the story of the last days of Pearl's life in a nursing home. Lewis successfully spins all three together in a way that makes you want to keep turning the pages. You get bits and pieces of each story until they all come together in the end. Sometimes books written this way can be confusing, but this was skillfully written in a way that I wasn't confused by the intertwining stories. This book reminded me of a Christian Nicholas Sparks novel. Epic love story, page turning intrigue, and a tear jerker. I had trouble putting this one down and couldn't wait to find out how it would end. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Christian romance. I receieved a copy of this book fro…

Critical Pursuit

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I have previously read the Pacific Coast Justice series by Janice Cantore and loved it, so when I saw that she was releasing a new series, I was thrilled and couldn't wait to read the first book. It didn't disappoint - she has outdone herself compared to her first series. Critical Pursuit follows Long Beach police officer Brinna Caruso, former child kidnap victim. Now grown and in law enforcement, it's her life's mission to rescue kidnapped children and get pedophiles off the streets with her scent dog, Hero. She is obsessed with her work and enjoys the solitude of working with her faithful dog. Being involved in a shooting with a suspect forces her to temporarily sideline Hero and work with a human partner, Jack O'Reilly. Jack is still reeling from losing his wife and unborn child to a drunk driver. Together the two of them work together to catch a predator. I was so excited to receive this book that I opened it up and started reading it as soon as it arrived.…

A Walk Through The Dark

A Walk Through The Dark is the story of Eva Piper's walk through her husband Don's severe car accident. It begins as she hears word he's been in an accident while teaching, and details the surgeries, hospital stays, setbacks, injuries, and more that occur over the next years. Eva describes the day by day caretaking and gives much wisdom for caretakers and loved ones who are supporting a caretaker. However, this book wasn't quite what I expected. It's subtitled "How My Husband's 90 Minutes In Heaven Deepened My Faith For A Lifetime". The problem is that Eva doesn't even mention Don's trip to Heaven until one of the very last chapters, and the entire discussion and event is described in less than two pages. That's it. No details are given, and I was left wondering why he didn't tell her about it until more than a year later, and why the only reason it seemed she found out is because she overheard him telling someone else. Eva did discus…

Fiery Secrets

Fiery Secrets is the first offering by new Christian fiction writer Stephanie McCall. I chose this book because it included two topics which I enjoy: medicine and suspense. Dr. Grace Taylor is a pediatrician, recovering alcoholic, and new Christian who has recently moved to Hart Hill, Tennessee. She is trying to regain custody of her son, Jacob, from her abusive ex husband. She meets teacher Chris Anderson, a victim of a school shooting and sufferer of PTSD, when he tutors Jacob. They have an immediate attraction but must work through many challenges to form a relationship. First off, the positives: this was a very interesting and exciting book. The plot lines included alcoholism, abusive marriage, PTSD, school shootings, ghosts and mysteries from the Civil War, medicine, divorce, abortion, teaching, drug abuse, and more. It is 362 pages long, quite a large book, which I was happy with because I enjoy a good, long read. The cover and pages were nicely done and attractive. I got into …

Redeeming Love

I want to start off by saying that I am a big Francine Rivers fan. I have read her Mark Of The Lion series, The Scarlet Thread, The Atonement Child, and And The Shofar Blew and absolutely loved all these books. So when I saw the rave reviews for Redeeming Love, I knew it was one I needed to read.Redeeming Love is the story of a prostitute named Angel and a godly man named Michael. He marries Angel and "redeems" her. She then proceeds to leave him and come back - again, and again, and again, and again. About 3/4 of the way through the book I was so weary of the repetitive storyline that I had trouble finishing the book and was tempted to give up on it. At the very end Angel finally does come back for good, and then the next 60+ years are summed up in about three pages. I was less than thrilled with what felt like a dragged on story, then a rushed ending.The positives for this book is that it shows how God relentlessly pursues us, sinners, even when we keep running away from H…

Thirty Days Of Bible Study For Busy Mamas: Colossians 3

Thirty Days Of Bible Study For Busy Mama: Colossians 3 by Pam Forster is geared toward busy moms. As a mom of four myself, it was definitely right up my alley! I was a bit skeptical of how any type of Bible study could be squeezed into five minutes, but Pam made a believer out of me! This Bible study is beautifully packaged and includes a foreward, 30 five minute devotionals, and four appendices with lots of helpful tips on studying the Bible as a busy mom. Basically, you read the entire book of Colossians for context, then Colossians 3 every day for the other days, focusing on different ideas and passages each day. I found this method of study very useful and definitely learned a lot that I had never really "seen" before in just basic Bible reading. I feel more equipped to truly dig in to the Bible now that I have learned more tips and techniques from this book. I highly recommend this Bible study. It will help you with your walk with God, and in just five minute chunks pe…

Faking Grace

Faking Grace by Tamara Leigh is one of those can't-put-down novels. I'm not usually too into chick lit, but the premise of this book sounded fresh and new - Maizy Grace, nominal Christian, takes a job at a conservative Christian publisher to pay the bills - and has to figure out how to act the part. All the while, her handsome coworker, Jack, seems determined to "out" her as a fake. First of all, the cover of this book is beautiful, eye catching, and very nicely done. I do sometimes judge a book by its cover, and this one is perfect! The storyline caught me in from page one. Seeing how Christians can sometimes be so cliche from the outside really spoke to my heart. This book made me desire to be a more authentic Christian. Pick this book up - you won't regret it. Lots of laughs, with a great spiritual message as well. I received a copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Chasing Francis

Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron is a novel about Chase Falson, pastor of an evangelical church. When a young child in his church dies, he goes through a spiritual crisis (dark night of the soul), has a meltdown in the pulpit, and is put on a leave of absence. He decides to go visit his long lost uncle, Franciscan priest in Italy, to seek spiritual guidance. Uncle Kenny takes him on a spiritual journey learning about the life of St. Francis of Assisi. This book is half novel, half lesson. It is a fictional story, but it's also an informative book about St. Francis and modern day Christianity. This book is definitely heavily Catholic and at times can be critical of the modern day evangelical church. However, it is a good eye opener and helps you to search your own soul and reclaim enthusiasm for biblical Christianity. This isn't a super exciting, page turning book - it's more of a sleepy, comfortable story. Reading it made me feel homey and comforted. You will enjoy g…

Misery Loves Company

As soon as Misery Loves Company by Renee Gutteridge arrived in the mail, I opened it up and started reading it. I was absolutely hooked from the first lines! It was so gripping that I read most of the night and finished it the next morning. This book was the perfect blend of mystery and suspense. There were so many twists and turns, I found myself surprised at the turns of events, even though I can usually guess the ending of books within the first several chapters. Pick this book up and read it - you will not be disappointed, I promise. I'm planning on reading her other books as soon as possible. I think I've found one of my new favorite authors! I received a copy of this book from Tyndale House in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

The Winnowing Season

I have been a fan of Amish fiction since I first picked up a Beverly Lewis book about 10 years ago, so I was happy to read The Winnowing Season by Cindy Woodsmall. I'll start by saying that I didn't realize that this was book two in a series, so I felt a little behind on the plot and characters as I was reading the book. However, she did include a brief synopsis of book one in the beginning of this book, so that was helpful. The Winnowing Season follows Rhoda Byler and Samuel and Jacob King as they begin a new Old Order Amish community and orchard in Maine. A love triangle and drama with the bishops provide interest to the drama. I am looking forward to book three as this one ends on a bit of a cliffhanger. All in all, a good, solid, Amish fiction. I recommend picking up book one first, if you haven't already. I received a copy of this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

A Time For Every Purpose Under Heaven

I recently read A Time For Every Purpose Under Heaven by Chris Loehmer Kincaid. I enjoy reading books about missionaries and missions trips, so this book piqued my interested. This book follows the author's missions trip to Africa with her daughter, Val, and a group of many other people. I like how she divided the book into chapters based off the Scriptures in Ecclesiastes - I enjoyed how her trip paralleled these verses. I was glad the book included quite a few pictures - I always like to see the people and places I'm reading about, especially in a book like this. I could relate to her feelings of "How could God use me?" and feeling like she needed to constantly be DOING something while on her trip to Africa, and worrying that she wasn't accomplishing anything. I have the same type of personality, so it definitely hit home for me. Parts of this book made me laugh and parts brought me to tears. The plight of the African people touched my heart and really made me…

Jesus, My Father, The CIA, And Me

Jesus, My Father, The CIA, And Me: A Memoir... Of Sorts by Ian Morgan Cron is one of those special books that will make you laugh hysterically on one page and cry on the next. As I read this book, I felt like I was reliving my childhood - I was raised Catholic in an alcoholic home, although the CIA wasn't involved! I could relate so much to the dynamics of his family and what he went through growing up. I appreciated his honesty in writing about his own struggles with alcohol and his sobriety - I could relate there, too. The title of this book is a bit misleading. The CIA angle of the plot line is thinly developed and doesn't play much of a role in the story. He doesn't delve into the details of his father's work in the CIA at all. Since "CIA" was in the title, I expected him to tell more stories about it, but he didn't. That was fine, the book was still great, it just wasn't what I had quite pictured when I picked it up. Overall, this was an amazing…

Stress Test

I was so excited to see that Richard Mabry was coming out with a new book, Stress Test. I randomly picked up a book of his in a bookstore several years ago and was captivated by this new genre he seems to have carved out for himself - Christian medical suspense (my three favorite things rolled into one!). So when I received a copy of Stress Test, I was beyond excited and couldn't wait to read it. The story follows Dr. Matt Newman, who is falsely accused of murder and nearly killed - several times. He teams up with lawyer Sandra Murray to prove his innocence against nearly unsurmountable odds. It captivated me from the first page and I couldn't put it down. It was the perfect blend of suspense and intrigue. I finished it in less than 24 hours! Read this book - you will not regret it. I can't wait to read even more books by Richard Mabry. I received a copy of this book from BookSneeze in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Truth Stained Lies

As Terri Blackstock is one of my favorite authors, I was thrilled to learn she had a new series coming out! The first book in the Moonlighters series is Truth Stained Lies. Cathy Cramer's brother is framed for the murder of his estranged wife, and she becomes a private detective to help uncover the truth and free him from jail. The storyline was engaging, fast paced, and hooked me right away. However, I was able to guess the identity of the killer within the first several chapters of the book (I can do that with most books, though, so maybe it's just me). Also, the chapters jumped back and forth between characters a bit too much for me - it made it a little difficult to follow the story at times. Other than that, I absolutely loved this book. I couldn't put it down and read it within 24 hours of receiving it. Definitely another Blackstock classic, and I can't wait for book 2 to come out! I received a copy of this book from BookSneeze in exchange for an honest review.…

One Glorious Ambition

When I first picked up One Glorious Ambition by Jane Kirkpatrick, I didn't expect too much from it. It's not the usual genre of book I enjoy, so I was uncertain how much I would enjoy the story. However, I found myself sucked in to the story of Dorothea Dix. The author did a good job of turning a true story into an "inspired by" novel - not an easy task that many don't do well. I will say that parts of the storyline dragged a bit and went a little slow, but overall the storyline was engaging and page turning, in spite of the few rougher spots. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fiction. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

My Journey Beyond Being Catholic

My Journey Beyond Being Catholic by Connie Limmex was an inspiring testimonial about Connie's conversion from Catholicism to evangelicalism. I always enjoy reading testimonials such as these since I grew up Catholic as well. In fact, this is almost the author's entire life story, which was interesting to read as well. This would be a good book to share with a Catholic friend - it's not judgmental, and very clear in presenting the Gospel. I also enjoyed the pictures shown throughout the book. My only complaint about this book would be that it jumps around in time quite a bit throughout the story without much explanation or context, so it was rather confusing to read at times. I wasn't sure what point she was at in her life in all the stories throughout the book. A bit more clarification on timeline is needed, as it isn't a "point A to point B" story and goes back and forth in time quite a bit. However, even with this minor complaint, I would definitely r…

Avenged

My favorite genre is Christian suspense, so I was excited to find Janice Cantore's Pacific Coast Justice series. Janice Cantore is a former police officer near where I live, and her novels are also set in that area, so that hooked me as well. I had read the prior books in this series (Accused and Abducted), so I was very excited that the third book, Avenged, was being released. These books follow Nick and Carly through the estrangement, reconciliation, and remarriage, all while they are being put in perilous situations as police officers. Avenged focuses on a mystery surrounding a supposed gang war and a shady reporter. Nick and Carly untangle the mystery in the perfect blend of intrigue, excitement, and suspense. I definitely enjoyed this book and recommend the entire Pacific Coast Justice series. I look forward to reading further books by Janice Cantore. I was given a copy of this book by Tyndale House in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Quiet

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain is an excellent book. I felt like it described my life and self so perfectly. I was so excited to find a book solely dedicated to the study of introverts. This book reads like a mix between a textbook and a fast paced novel - it was packed full of intellectual information with a mix of exciting and compelling personal stories.The book touches on the traits of an introvert, differences between introversion and shyness, the business world, history, science, children, education, and much, much more. She mentions this book took seven years to write and you can definitely tell by the amount of research that went into it.Quiet is a jam packed 352 page book which also includes notes, an index, a quiz to determine where you fall on the introvert/extrovert scale, Q&A with the author, resources, discussion questions, and more. I absolutely recommend this book for all introverts, plus parents or spouses of in…

When Love And Submission Ignite by Ken O. Griffith

When Love And Submission Ignite by Ken O. Griffith is more of a booklet than a book - it's only 50 (small) pages long and is something you can definitely read in one sitting. It covers basics of the dating, engagement, and marriage relationships. There's no "new truths" in it - just a good covering of biblical principles for couples. This would be the perfect book to pass out to engaged couples, seriously dating couples, or married couples who have hit a rough patch and need some help. It would be a good resource to have on hand for marital or engagement counseling, as well. Excellent truths in a small package - perfect! I received a copy of this book from BookCrash in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

A Kingsbury Collection by Karen Kingsbury

A Kingsbury Collection by Karen Kingsbury includes three full length novels by the author: Where Yesterday Lives, When Joy Came To Stay, and On Every Side. I love collections like these that allow you to get several of an author's books at once, so I was super excited to receive this one! I have read several of her books in the past, but not any of these. The books overall were pretty good. Not the best of hers I've ever read, but still good solid reads. The stories touch on issues such as loss, depression, and faith. This is a super thick book of over 700 pages, so it will keep you entertained and occupied for quite some time! I would recommend this to any Kingsbury fan or romance novel lover. I received a copy of this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Damascus Countdown by Joel C. Rosenberg

I just finished reading Damascus Countdown by Joel C. Rosenberg. When I received this book I didn't realize it was #3 in a series, so it took a few chapters to figure out all the characters, but it did work as a stand alone novel as well. I was able to figure out the plot and characters fairly quickly. However, I do now want to read the first two books! Damascus Countdown is huge, hefty book (my favorite kind!) with close to 500 pages. It is jam packed with action and adventure and a total page turner. You won't want to put it down. It deals with many issues currently in the news, so it feels very realistic. I highly recommend this book. I received a copy of this book from Tyndale in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Heaven's Lessons by Steve Sjogren

Heaven's Lessons by Steve Sjogren is a good book, but not what I expected when I picked it. I've read several books about near death experiences, and I expected it to more of an account of his NDE like other books I've read. However, this book briefly touches on his NDE experience and recovery and focuses mainly on the lessons he's learned during his recovery. I don't know if he's written a book focused on the actual NDE and this is a followup, but it wasn't what I had expected. That said, I did enjoy this book a lot. The lessons he shared were simple, but profound and helpful. They were all things everyone could apply to their daily life. This book is a quick, easy read and I would definitely recommend it. I received a copy of this book from BookSneeze in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Stumbling On Open Ground by Ken Mansfield

I will start by saying I thoroughly enjoyed reading Stumbling On Open Ground by Ken Mansfield. I was very touched by the spiritual insight he gained and shared while going through his cancer battles. I especially loved the intro to each chapter by his wife, Connie. Ken's story is very interesting, kept my attention, and was easy to read. I definitely got a lot of spiritual help from the book. However, my only complaint was that this book tended to be rather confusing to me. I am in my 20s and not a rock and roll fan, so all the talk of Apple Records and names he mentioned didn't mean anything to me and just confused me further trying to piece together who was who and what was going on. Also, the actual details of his cancer battles tended to be very sparse and disjointed - I often found myself wondering what was happening during the story as it jumped around quite a bit and on one page he had a year to live and then onto the next chapter he's been cancer free for 5 or mor…

Fearless by Eric Blehm

I just finished reading Fearless by Eric Blehm. This is a book that will touch your heart, inspire you, make you laugh, and make you cry. The book follows the life story of Adam Brown and how he went from a crack addict to a top level Navy SEAL. This is one of the books you read in just a day or two because you won't be able to put it down. As I got closer to the end I was hoping it would end miraculously instead of with his death, but I knew he died. It was sad to get toward the end and read about his death, but inspiring and necessary. I highly, highly recommend reading this book. Not only is it entertaining, it will help you remember never to take for granted what you have and live each day as if it may be your last. Tiny note that this book does contain some language - but I expected it might considering the subject matter. However, I was a little surprised it was published like this with a Christian publisher. Still absolutely worth reading, though. I received a copy of t…

Twice A Bride by Mona Hodgson

Twice A Bride by Mona Hodgson was definitely a lighter read. It's a historical romance novel set in Cripple Creek. It follows Willow Peterson, a young widow, who becomes an artist. I didn't realize that this was Book 4 of a series - I don't like reading series books out of order as a general rule. However, this book was able to stand on its own without being too confusing, although I think it would've been better had I read the first three books. The character development left a bit to be desired, but I think that may be due to this being the last book in a series. Overall, this book was interesting, albeit predictable, and a nice easy read for those who love Christian romance novels. I received a copy of this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Micah by Dani Ramsey

I have to say that this is definitely one of those books that will capture your attention immediately and you will have trouble putting it down. I read it in one day. It was easy to read, compelling, heartfelt, and a page turner. This book takes you through Micah Ramsey's battle with Ewing's Sarcoma, an aggressive cancer. He was diagnosed at just 15. I was inspired and moved by Micah's determination to glorify God through his cancer journey and encouraged by his strength and hope. I will admit that certain aspects of this book disturbed me a bit - such as the family's decision not to pursue chemotherapy or radiation for his cancer and rather try other, unconventional methods to treat his cancer. However, that was their personal decision to make. Overall, I finished reading this book with an awe of Micah's faith in God, and inspired by his words and writings that Dani shared from his journal. I received a copy of this book from BookCrash in exchange for an hones…

Heaven Changes Everything by Todd & Sonja Burpo

Heaven Changes Everything: Living Every Day With Eternity In Mind by Todd and Sonja Burpo is a companion devotional to Todd Burpo's book, Heaven Is For Real (which I have read and reviewed very favorably). This book is a good devotional and has many good thoughts and messages which I did enjoy. However, as someone who has already read Heaven Is For Real, I found this devotional a bit repetitive of the story I'd already read. It wasn't really "new" material in places, so I had trouble keeping my interest in it at points. However, one new thing about this book was that Sonja wrote portions of it and shared her perspective on various things, so that was very interesting to me, as she didn't write in Heaven Is For Real. Overall, this was a good, solid devotional. I think this would make a great gift for someone who is curious about heaven or Christianity, or is a new Christian. I am glad I read it and enjoyed it, but it might better suit the purposes of someone …

Return To Sunday Dinner by Russell Cronkhite

I am a cookbook lover and collector. I'm pretty picky about which cookbooks I add to my collection, as many cookbooks look promising, but then as I flip through them, contain many recipes that I don't like or wouldn't make. However, I think I can say I have just found my new favorite cookbook. Return To Sunday Dinner by Russell Cronkhite is one of those rare gems that I flip through and want to make literally every single recipe inside. The pictures are beautiful, and the format is engaging and includes personal stories from the author and interesting tidbits. Differently than many cookbooks, the recipes are sorted as full menus as opposed to type of food (appetizer, main dish, veggies, sides, desserts, etc). I like this menu format as it allows you to create the perfect Sunday dinner from start to finish. My only complaint about this cookbook would be that it doesn't have a picture for every recipe. I know this isn't always feasible, but I do like to see a pictu…