Posts

Showing posts from August, 2014

Raw Faith

Image
Raw Faith: What Happens When God Picks A Fight by Kasey Van Norman is the story of her struggle through cancer. Just when Kasey thought she had it all - a ministry to women, a family, faith, etc. - her life was shattered with an aggressive form of cancer. She had to decide if she was still going to trust God and follow the message she had been sharing with so many women - to trust God during times of crisis.

This book is less memoir and more Bible study. Kasey draws on a multitude of Bible characters and stories to bring home the points and lessons she learned throughout her battle. I hadn't read Kasey's previous book, Named By God, but now I can't wait to read it. I'd love to learn more about her story - it sounds great. Kasey is extremely honest and vulnerable in this book - she doesn't hold anything back. I appreciate authors who can tell it like it is and not hold back the less pretty aspects of themselves and don't try to sugar coat everything. Kasey is a…

What Life Are You Waiting For?

Image
What Life Are You Waiting For? by Pete Hise is one of those rare books that can truly propel you into action. The description intrigued me:

"Have you ever stayed up late into the night, wondering if God has more for you than this? Do you keep saying you’ll “eventually” get around to the things you most dream of doing? What Life Are You Waiting For? is a bold, God-sized vision that will inspire you to stop waiting and begin living this life today— like it’s the one you’ve been waiting for. Pete Hise speaks directly to your heart with a truth that’s so personal, so beyond “good enough,” that you may be almost afraid to believe it: The dreams you have for your life can actually happen. Maybe you dream of building a thriving marriage, finding your true calling, learning to hear God’s voice, investing in your kids, or making a lasting impact on the world. Whatever it is, God is with you and is poised to begin . . . right now. He has a bigger plan for you than you’ve dared to imagine—…

Surprised By Motherhood

Image
Surprised By Motherhood: Everything I Never Expected About Being A Mom is Lisa-Jo Baker's memoir of sorts, of her childhood, the loss of her mom, and becoming a mother. Lisa-Jo lost her mom as a teenager and had determined to never have children. God changed her heart (like He often loves to do when we say "never"), and she became a mom of three children. I had never heard of Lisa-Jo before reading this book, so maybe regular readers of her blog would know more of her background, but I knew nothing coming into the book.

This book is written blog-style - it feels like she's sitting down chatting with you. It was a bit rambling at times, but I was still able to follow the story. It aims to show the messy, inconvenient side of motherhood, not just all the fun moments and mushy stuff. This is a very honest story and didn't sugar coat anything. I couldn't relate a ton about her struggle to have children since I've always wanted to have children. I did enjoy r…

Captive In Iran

Image
Captive in Iran: A Remarkable True Story of Hope and Triumph Amid the Horror of Tehran's Brutal Evin Prison by Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh is a captivating account (no pun intended) of Maryam and Marziyeh's arrest and imprisonment for converting from Islam to Christianity and advertising and promoting Christianity (a crime punishable by the death pentalty in Iran). This book walks us through the day of their arrest to the time of their release and briefly describes their immigration to the US. They hold nothing back in telling their story - the horrifying conditions in Evin prison, the other inmates and their stories, the interrogations, the torture, lack of medical care, and more.

This isn't a light and fun story, but I definitely enjoyed reading it. I couldn't believe just how people are living and treated in Iran, and it really opened my eyes to the situation and how desperate and horrifying it truly is. I believe this is an important book for every C…

Sweet

Image
Sweet: Our Best Cupcakes, Cookies, Candy and More is a cookbook put out by the Food Network magazine, and it's a compilation of dozens and dozens of dessert recipes. Sections included are:

-Cupcakes & Whoopie Pies
-Cookies & Bars
-Candy & Snacks
-Pies & Crumbles
-Fake-Out Cakes
-Show-Off Cakes
-Frozen Treats
-Holiday Desserts

This book is absolutely stunning. When I pulled it out of the box and my husband saw it he remarked, "Sweet!" (no pun intended - ha ha) because it looked so wonderful. There is a gorgeous full page color photograph of every single recipe (love this - hate when cookbooks don't show all the recipes). The index for each chapter contains a small photograph of every recipe so you can scan it and quickly find what you're looking for. All the recipes have thorough and clear step-by-step instructions, and the more difficult looking recipes even have photographs of the steps to make it even easier to follow along. All the recipes use…

The Midwife

Image
The Midwife by Jolina Petersheim is one of those books that I passed over reading for awhile because I'm not a huge Amish fiction fan. I like most of Beverly Lewis' books, but I've found the huge surge of Amish fiction following Lewis' popular work to be largely cheesy, unrealistic, and poorly written. So I never jump to read an Amish fiction that's not by Lewis. However, the description to this book sounded so intriguing that I gave in and gave it a shot. The description reads:

"The story about a mother who risks everything to save a child not genetically hers . . .

The Past -- Graduate student Beth Winslow was sure she was ready to navigate the challenges of becoming a surrogate. But when early tests indicate possible abnormalities with the baby, Beth is unprepared for the parents' decision to end the pregnancy -- and for the fierce love she feels for this unborn child. Desperate, she flees the city and seeks refuge at Hopen Haus, a home for unwed mothe…

The Remaining

Image
I just finished reading an exciting new release, The Remaining, by Travis Thrasher. The Remaining is the novelization of an upcoming movie of the same name. It's a category I enjoy - Christian horror/thriller, so I was very excited to read and review this book, and look forward to watching the movie as soon as it comes out! The premise of this book isn't groundbreaking - a group of six friends (Skylar, Lauren, Tommy, Allison, Jack, and Dan), preparing for the Dan and Skylar's wedding. After the vows are exchanged, people suddenly begin dropping dead at the reception. It soon becomes clear that this is the Rapture, but instead of their bodies disappearing, just their souls are caught up into Heaven. All of the friends except Lauren are "left behind" and have to try to survive and figure out what's happening around them.

Although the concept is nothing new, the execution does bring some fresh ideas, such as the bodies being left behind and the events of the a…

The Trail

Image
The Trail: A Tale about Discovering God's Will by Ed Underwood is an allegorical tale (there seems to be a lot of these being published lately) that will help you discover eight principles for discovering God's will for your life. The story follows Matt and Brenda, a married couple facing challenges and tough decisions, on a hike through the High Sierras with guide and former firefighter and current pastor Sam Lewis, who their friends Brian and Lindsey introduced them to. As they hike the trail, Sam gives them important instructions and the eight principles. The principles and Scriptures are summarized in the back of the book and there is also a discussion/reader's guide included.

I'm not a huge fan of allegorical fiction, so I wasn't expecting too much out of this book, to be honest. I normally have a difficult time reading this type of book because I'm generally the type of reader who wants either a non fiction book or a fiction book, not one mixed together.…

In The Secret Service

Image
In The Secret Service: The True Story of the Man Who Saved President Reagan's Life by Jerry Parr is a thrilling memoir about the life of a Christian man in the Secret Service. The book description reads:

"Meet Jerry Parr. In 1981, he was the agent standing next to Ronald Reagan when John Hinckley, Jr., stepped out of the crowd, intent on killing the president. In the Secret Service is an adrenaline-filled ride through the life of the agent who saved Ronald Reagan’s life. Jerry spent much of his life as a silent eyewitness to history, with a gun at his fingertips. What motivates a man who is ready at a moment’s notice to step into the path of a bullet? In In the Secret Service, you’ll also follow Jerry’s inner journey. That journey led him from the halls of the powerful to the streets of the poor in Washington, D.C., to the mountain passes of war-torn El Salvador to help orphans.

You won’t want to miss this insider’s perspective on the Secret Service and a look into the heart…

Overwhelmed

Image
I've had Overwhelmed by Perry Noble on my "want-to-read" list for awhile now, so I was really excited when I saw that it was free on Kindle for a limited time and downloaded it right away. The description for Overwhelmed sounds like it has a great premise: "Stressed out? Anxious? Overwhelmed? Good news—you’re not alone!

No one ever said life was going to be easy. Between financial struggles, marital issues, health scares, and the regular, run-of-the-mill problems of everyday life, it’s easy to feel weighed down and trapped by your circumstances. In times like these, it’s tempting to just throw in the towel and quit. Well, don’t do it!

Perry Noble has stood at the edge of the abyss himself, and in Overwhelmed, he shares the keys to unlocking the chains of anxiety and despair once and for all. Building on the premise that when we shift our focus from our circumstances to Christ, everything changes, Perry walks readers through a life-altering plan for overcoming stres…

Beautiful On The Mountain

Image
Beautiful On The Mountain: An Inspiring True Story by Jeannie Light is basically a biography of how Jeannie came to minister at a small church in Graves Mill, Virginia. The description from the publisher sounded great: "If you enjoyed the classic novel Christy and the bestselling Mitford series, then you’ll love Beautiful on the Mountain, a real-life tale about serving God in unlikely circumstances. In 1977, Jeannie Light left her fine plantation home amid heartbreak and came to Graves Mill, a tiny hamlet in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Alone in an utterly new kind of life, Jeannie was determined to find the courage to make a fresh start.

To Jeannie’s surprise, she found herself called upon by her new neighbors to open the old, deteriorated country church, a place that had once united the fractured community of mountain folk. With no training, and no small amount of trepidation, she undertook the task. And as she embarked on an unforeseen series of adventures, from heartbreaking to…

Vanishings

Image
The Vanishings is the first book in the spinoff of the adult Left Behind series. I've read and greatly enjoyed the Left Behind book series for adults, so was interested in reading this book to see if it might be appropriate for my 12 year old, who loves to read. The premise of this book is following three teenagers after the Rapture - Judd ("The Runaway"), Vicki ("The Rebel"), Lionel ("The Liar"), and Ryan ("The Skeptic"). Book one finds them reeling in the aftermath of the Rapture and their decisions not to follow Christ beforehand. We get to view the Rapture and the following events through the eyes of these teenagers, as opposed to the adults like in the regular Left Behind series.

This is a great book for preteens and young teens, in my opinion. The publisher's recommended age is 9-12, but I think this would be a bit too much for a 9 year old. I think a better age range for this book is 11-15. I am planning on having my 12 year old…

Into The Canyon

Image
Into The Canyon is book two in Michael Neale's "River" series. I read book one, The River, back when it first came out and loved it. It was a captivating, quick read that was rich with symbolism, and was truly an allegory. Therefore, I was really excited that Neale was releasing a sequel to it and couldn't wait to read it. Into The Canyon continues Gabriel's story. The description reads:

"A tragic event can be like a refining fire, burning away what was and producing something more pure--a clearer vision of what life should be. But for some, pain becomes paralysis.

When John Clarke gave his life to rescue two reckless kayakers decades ago, his death became a powerful catalyst for good in the life of one of the boys. Filled with gratitude, Jacob Fielding dedicated himself to living life to the fullest, guiding people on The River. But there was another brother who was rescued that day. The guilt and shame Billy Fielding carried after his reckless choice has …

If I Had Lunch With C.S. Lewis

Image
If I Had Lunch with C.S. Lewis: Exploring the Ideas of C.S. Lewis on the Meaning of Life by Alister McGrath immediately intrigued me based off of the descriptions:

"What if you could ask C. S. Lewis his thoughts on some of the most difficult questions of life? If you could, the result would be Dr. Alister McGrath’s provocative and perceptive book, If I Had Lunch with C. S. Lewis. Best-selling author, prominent academic, and sought-after speaker, Dr. McGrath sees C. S. Lewis as the perfect conversation companion for the persistent meaning-of-life questions everyone asks.

What makes Lewis a good dialogue partner is that his mind traveled through a wide and varied terrain: from atheism of his early life to his conversion later in life; from his rational skepticism to his appreciation of value of human desires and imagination; from his role as a Christian apologist during World War II to his growth as a celebrated author of classic children’s literature. The questions Lewis pondered…

The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven

Image
The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven: A Remarkable Account of Miracles, Angels, and Life beyond This World by Kevin and Alex Malarkey purports to be the story of Alex's trip to Heaven when he "died" during a serious car accident in 2004. He was in a coma for two months and has severe disabilities due to the accident. He was six years old at the time of the accident and came back describing angels, Jesus, music, and more. This book takes you through the accident, the horrific times the followed, the hospital stay, etc, and Alex's experiences.

To say I have mixed feelings about this book would be an understatement. My actual rating is 2.5 stars, right in the middle, but Amazon doesn't allow half stars. I enjoyed reading this book - it was a quick, easy read that's hard to put down and obviously due to the subject matter, very intriguing. I liked the story of Alex's recovery and what he experienced. However, I recently discovered that Alex's mom, Beth, has…

Popular

Image
Popular: Boys, Booze, and Jesus by Tindell Baldwin caught my eye because I really enjoy memoir type books and I felt like I could really relate to this one. The book is written in two sections: "Dark" (her rebellious days) and "Light" (coming back to Jesus). I loved the book description:

"Tindell Baldwin’s words best describe her passion and this book:

“My heart is for teenage girls because my story is much like so many of theirs. I was just a girl who made a lot of mistakes. I was a girl who had sex before marriage and then had a broken heart. I was a girl who did drugs and drank to fill the void that was deep in my heart. I was a girl who was desperate to be popular. A girl who, like so many others, didn’t know the dark side of sin. So my aim is to reach teenage girls, and through an honest account of my darkest sins, show them what they are up against. My heart is that teens would hear my story and flee to Christ. My greatest desire is that God would be g…

Blood Moons Rising

Image
I was very hesitant to read Blood Moons Rising: Bible Prophecy, Israel, and the Four Blood Moons by Mark Hitchcock. I saw it when it was first coming out and have been on the fence about reading it ever since. I finally decided to give it a chance and I was pleasantly surprised. The description of Blood Moons Rising reads:

"Has the final countdown to the end days begun? Are the heavens telling us we are nearing the end? Astronomers have noticed it is coming. Historians have noted its significance. In 2014 and 2015, there will be a phenomenon in the skies of four blood moons falling during Jewish feasts. This has only happened three times in recorded history: 1493-94, 1949-50 and 1967-68. Each time these dates have had extraordinary significance for the Israelites. From the discovery of the New World to the creation of modern-day Israel, these years of the four blood moons have truly been turning points in history. Bible prophecy describes the moon being darkened and turned to b…

What Are You Afraid Of?

Image
I selected What Are You Afraid Of?: Facing Down Your Fears With Faith by David Jeremiah because I tend to be a rather anxious person and I'm always looking for books about reducing anxiety and fears in my life. This one sounded like it would fit the bill. The different fears covered included: Disaster, Disease, Debt, Defeat, Disconnection, Disapproval, Danger, Depression, Death, and Deity. These are all common fears and all things that I've feared at one time or another. This book promises to uncover the root of each of these fears and provide a biblical plan to overcome them.

This book was just okay for me. It was pretty basic and generic, and at times, a bit slow. The truths shared were biblical and good, but they were things I've heard many times before. I look for something new that I haven't heard before when I read a book, but I didn't find that here. It was a good reminder of things I've learned before, however. I would be more likely to recommend this …

My Paris Kitchen

Image
My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories by David Lebovitz is part memoir, part cookbook. The description reads:

"It’s been ten years since David Lebovitz packed up his most treasured cookbooks, a well-worn cast-iron skillet, and his laptop and moved to Paris. In that time, the culinary culture of France has shifted as a new generation of chefs and home cooks—most notably in Paris—incorporates ingredients and techniques from around the world into traditional French dishes.
In My Paris Kitchen, David remasters the classics, introduces lesser-known fare, and presents 100 sweet and savory recipes that reflect the way modern Parisians eat today. You’ll find Soupe à l’oignon, Cassoulet, Coq au vin, and Croque-monsieur, as well as Smoky barbecue-style pork, Lamb shank tagine, Dukkah-roasted cauliflower, Salt cod fritters with tartar sauce, and Wheat berry salad with radicchio, root vegetables, and pomegranate. And of course, there’s dessert: Warm chocolate cake with salted butter …

Princess Stories

Image
Princess Stories: Real Bible Stories Of God's Princesses by Carolyn Larsen is a delightful hardcover book for little girls. It's recommended for girls ages 4-8 years, and it was perfect for my 6 year old and 8 year old, who love princesses. It includes stories on many women of the Bible, including Ruth, Deborah, Esther, Eve, Hannah, Abigail, Sarah, and more. It promises to teach character traits such as loyalty, wisdom, and courage. It shows girls that we are all princesses, because we are daughers of the true King. Each story includes the Bible verse reference where the story is drawn from, a poem, and the story. Each story is the perfect length for a bedtime story.

I love this book. The pictures are beautiful, colorful, and well illustrated. The stories are true to the Bible, but written at a children's level for understanding. It draws girls in with the princess theme and pretty pictures, but isn't full of fluff, but full of God's word and biblical truths. Thi…

Epic Grace

Image
Epic Grace by Kurt W. Bubna is part memoir, part spiritual help/Christian living book. Each chapter relates a tidbit or story from Bubna's life, then he explains how God's grace brought him through or was shown to him, and how Christians can apply that concept of grace in their own lives. He emphasizes God's unconditional love and grace throughout. He shares his stories openly and honestly and it's a very "real" book. Written simply, it's a book for everyone looking to learn more about God's grace, and it's not written in "Christianese" like some such books are.

I really enjoyed this books. Some of Bubna's stories were funny and some were sad, but through all of them I could see myself, because I mess up a lot, too! It's refreshing to read a book where a pastor isn't afraid to admit his mistakes and failures and get real. I've noticed there have been so many books written on grace lately, and this is a good one to add t…

Heaven

Image
Heaven: What's It Like? How Do We Get There? is a First Steps book written by Stephen Elkins. This is a new series explaining basic tenants of the Christian faith for young children in an easy-to-read, interesting, and comforting manner. Heaven is a beautiful hardcover book with whimsical, colorful illustrations throughout. It seeks to answer children's most common and basic questions about Heaven and gives the basic gospel message throughout. It's recommended for ages 5-8.

I have a 4 year old, 6 year old, and 8 year old and feel that all three of them could benefit from and enjoy this book. It's slightly "young" for my 8 year old, but she still enjoyed the poems and pictures. It's written in a poetic, easy to read style that engages kids and captures their attention. This is a great bedtime story type book. It does use some bigger words, but it's still easily understood by little ones. This is a comforting and beautiful book. I'd recommend it to…

Life Support

Image
Life Support is book three in the Grace Medical series by Candace Calvert. I haven't read books one and two yet, but decided to pick this one up anyway, and I'm glad I did. It functions well enough as a standalone novel, although I plan to read the first two books as soon as I can! Life Support follows the story of nurse Lauren Barclay and PA (and single parent) Elijah Landry. They're both dealing with their own personal problems, but are drawn to each other. In the midst of all this, a hurricane is coming their way and they have to be focused on that as well.

I really love medical fiction, and Candace Calvert delivers. I have a couple other Christian medical authors, but this is the first I've read by Calvert. I think I've found one of my next favorite authors! She blends medical drama, suspense, and romance in a perfect blend. I don't like books that are too heavy on the romance aspect, and this one was perfect. It didn't have a cheesy romance novel feel…

Veil Of Secrets

Image
Veil Of Secrets is a followup book to To Know You by Shannon Ethridge and Kathryn Mackel. I fell in love with To Know You and gave it 5 stars when I read it, but Veil Of Secrets even surpassed the first book. It was amazing. Veil Of Secrets switches viewpoints to follow Destiny's adoptive parents, Melanie and Will Connors. Will is the chief campaign strategist for a presidential candidate and is extremely busy with his job and has been living apart from Melanie on the campaign trail. Their marriage is falling apart and their daughter Sophie is in the middle. Along the way we also follow Carrie's story, which is a great story line on its own and a big part of the book.

I really can't say enough good things about this book, you just need to read it for yourself, because it's that amazing! I recommend reading To Know You first. I literally just couldn't put this book down. I read it in less than 24 hours and could've read it faster if I had the time! I love how t…

Goodnight, Ark

Image
Goodnight, Ark by Laura Sassi is a delightful hardcover picture book that is beautifully illustrated. It's recommended for children ages 4-8 and my children, ages 4, 6, and 8 all loved it. It's a gentle retelling of the story of Noah, placing him in the ark with all the animals in the midst of the flood, tucking all the various creatures into bed. This wasn't really a telling of the story of Noah, but rather an imaginative tale of what life might've been like on the ark for Noah, in a fun way that entertains and reassures children.

I loved this book. It's very high quality and the pictures were bright, bold, colorful, and beautiful. The rhyming words and nightime/storm themed storyline is perfect for tucking the little ones in bed each night. I think any child from the ages of 2-8 would enjoy this book as a bedtime story. It's sometimes difficult to find quality Christian picture books for kids, but this one definitely hit the mark. I'd recommend this to a…

When I Fall In Love

Image
When I Fall In Love is book 3 in the Christiansen Family series by Susan May Warren. I absolutely love this series; the family is delightful and I'm always excited to read another piece of their story. This book follows Grace Christiansen. She meets Maxwell Sharpe, pro hockey player, on a trip of a lifetime at a culinary vacation in Hawaii. Grace and Max are drawn together, but as they become closer, Max pulls away due to secrets he's keeping (don't want to give anything away). Will Max and Grace overcome all obstacles and have faith to fall in love?

I loved this book. The Christiansen Family books are the rare type of book that makes you forget you're reading fiction and feel like these characters are real people that you love and care about. The story here is another page turner like the other Christiansen Family stories and I couldn't put it down. The story had me hooked from page one and I couldn't wait to see what would happen next! The addition of the cu…

Good News For Weary Women

Image
As soon as I saw Good News For Weary Women: Escaping The Bondage Of To-do Lists, Steps, and Bad Advice by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick I knew I wanted to read it right away, just based off the title! The description immediately resonated with me: "Are you exhausted? Women today really do feel the weight of the world on their shoulders. Every morning we are greeted with a long list of to-dos: get the kids up and out the door on time, have a meaningful quiet time, put in a full day at the office, spend an hour at the gym, prepare a healthy and delicious meal (organic and locally grown, of course), and make sure the sink sparkles before you go to bed. Oh, and don’t forget to look great and smile while you’re doing it. These are all good things to do, of course. But the bigger problem occurs when we start to feel as if our worth is measured by our to-do lists. And the messages we receive at church, on Facebook, and from the media only perpetuate these unrealistic expectations, creating a re…

Extra Virgin

Image
Extra Virgin: Recipes & Love From Our Tuscan Kitchen is a beautiful hardcover Italian (Tuscan) cookbook by Gabriele Corcos and Debi Mazar. I'd never heard of either of them or their show, so I selected this book just based on the delicious looking cover and the fact that I'm Italian and love Italian cooking. The book boasts of 120 Tuscan inspired recipes celebrating the traditional rustic Italian table. Sections include Appetizers, Pastas and Sauces, Risotto, Soups, Salads, Meat, Fish, Vegetables, Pizza, Panini, Desserts, and Drinks.

I enjoyed the stories Gabriele told of life and cooking growing up in Italy and the story of his and Debi's relationship with themselves and their children. They brought a rich history to the recipes that made them all the more appealing. The pictures were fabulous and liberally sprinkled throughout the pages. I'm excited to try quite a few of the recipes, most notably the authentic Italian Tiramisu recipe. I've had Tiramisu in It…

Echoes Of An Angel

Image
Echoes Of An Angel: The Miraculous True Story Of A Boy Who Lost His Eyes But Could Still See is an extremely unique book. This is a true story about Ben and his mom, Aquanetta. The description reads: "When Ben Underwood became blind at the age of two, anyone would have thought he faced a life full of hardship and uphill challenges—a world full of things he’d never be able to see and activities he’d never be able to enjoy. But as far as his mom, Aquanetta Gordon, was concerned, nothing was impossible for Ben . . . and so he accomplished the incredible. Known as “the boy who could see with sound,” Ben mastered human echolocation—the ability to detect the size, shape and location of objects through the reflection of sound waves. By clicking his tongue and “seeing” the waves, Ben could ride his bike, shoot baskets, identify objects, and even play video games. Some called it a miracle, but to Ben and Aqua, the real miracles were the otherworldly experiences God gave Ben—physical and …

A Call To Resurgence

Image
A Call To Resurgence by Mark Driscoll is one of those "wake up, America" books about Christianity. The description states: "It’s tempting to believe that the Christian faith is alive and well in our country today. Our politicians talk about God. Our mega-churches are filled. Christian schools dot our landscape. Brace yourself. It’s an illusion. Believe it or not, only 8 percent of Americans profess and practice true evangelical Christian faith. There are more left-handed people than evangelical Christians in America.

In this book, Mark Driscoll delivers a wake-up call for every believer: We are living in a post-Christian culture—a culture fundamentally at odds with faith in Jesus. This is good and bad news. The good news is that God is still working, redeeming people from this spiritual wasteland and inspiring a resurgence of faithful believers. The bad news is that many believers just don’t get it. They continue to gather exclusively into insular tribes, lobbing e-bom…

Saving Amelie

Image
Saving Amelie by Cathy Gohlke is a touching novel set during World War II. The description states: "Increasingly wary of her father’s genetic research, Rachel Kramer has determined that this trip with him to Germany—in the summer of 1939—will be her last. But a cryptic letter from her estranged friend, begging Rachel for help, changes everything. Married to SS officer Gerhardt Schlick, Kristine sees the dark tides turning and fears her husband views their daughter, Amelie, deaf since birth, as a blight on his Aryan bloodline.

Once courted by Schlick, Rachel knows he’s as dangerous as the swastikas that hang like ebony spiders from every government building in Berlin. She fears her father’s files may hold answers about Hitler’s plans for others, like Amelie, whom the regime deems “unworthy of life.” She risks searching his classified documents only to uncover shocking secrets about her own history and a family she’s never known.

Now hunted by the SS, Rachel turns to Jason Young—a…

Just 18 Summers

Image
Just 18 Summers by Rene Gutteridge is the novelization of a screenplay. The description follows: "After the tragic death of Butch Browning’s wife, Jenny, four families begin to realize how precious—and fleeting—their time together is. Each is at a different stage in life: Butch is facing single parenthood. The O’Reillys are expecting their first child. The Andersons are approaching an empty nest, and the Buckleys are so focused on providing their children with everything that they’ve forgotten what they truly need. With just eighteen summers before their children are grown, how do they make the most of that time when life so often gets in the way?

As summer flies by, each of these parents must learn about guilt and grace . . . and when to hold on to their kids and when to let go."

This book was just okay for me. It's a simple book and the premise is focusing on how little of an amount of time we have with our children, and to make the most of it. The story is written fr…

All Right Here

Image
All Right Here is book one in Carre Armstrong Gardner's new The Darlings series. The description reads: "Ivy Darling can’t have children of her own, and her husband Nick’s resentment is forcing them apart. And while Ivy has the support and love of her large, close-knit family, Nick’s family has never welcomed her into the fold.

When the three children next door are abandoned by their mother, Ivy and Nick take them in for the night. One night becomes several, and suddenly Ivy and Nick find themselves foster parents to the only African-American kids in the town of Copper Cove, Maine. As Ivy grows more attached to the children, Nick refuses to accept their eclectic household as a permanent family. Just as Ivy begins to question whether or not she wants to save her emotionally barren marriage, Nick begins to discover how much Ivy and the children mean to him. But is his change of heart too little, too late?"

I was intrigued by the unusual story concept involving interracial…

My Irish Table

Image
Coming from an Irish heritage myself, I was thrilled with the opportunity to review My Irish Table by Cathal Armstrong. I've always wanted to try some authentic Irish recipes, but wasn't sure where to start. This is definitely the place! Thank you, Cathal, for writing this cookbook and giving me the opportunity to go back to my roots and get that sense of history in my kitchen. This cookbook features 130 delicious, authentic recipes, ranging from simple dishes to complicated restaurant fare. I appreciate the fact that there is something for everyone in this cookbook, from the beginner chef to the professional. This is a big, heavy, thick book with luscious pages and mouthwatering, full cover pictures on nearly every page.

My favorite part of this book was the chapter entitled "What Mam Cooked". I enjoyed the look into his Mam's kitchen and it was a nostalgic look back to his childhood. I'm looking forward to trying Chicken Noodle Soup, Cheese On Toast, Irish…

Evergreen

Image
Evergreen is the latest addition to the lovely Christiansen Family series by Susan May Warren. This novella is a mini hardcover focusing on John and Ingrid, the parents of the Christiansen clan. John and Ingrid are going through many changes - including being empty nesters for the first time. John is planning a trip abroad to Paris for Christmas, but several events occur that throw a wrench in things and cause a rift in their marriage. Ingrid is sad about the changes, but John is excited. It reminded me of my husband and myself - although we're a long ways away from being empty nesters, he's looking forward to that time and I'm already dreading it! So I could relate to the story line, even though it's about an older couple.

This is an excellent little book. The story is compelling and it was nice to read some more about John and Ingrid. I love the Christiansen family and can't wait to see more stories about them. It's a very quick read - just 185 small pages -…

Murder At The Mikado

Image
Murder At The Mikado is book three in Julianna Deering's Drew Farthering Mystery series. In this book we find Drew and Madeline engaged and planning their wedding when Drew's old flame Fleur Landis shows up out of nowhere, a murder suspect and needing help to clear her name. Fleur's appearance digs up past dirt and causes a rift between Drew and Madeline - will their relationship survive the intrusion?

I am so, so glad I gave the Drew Farthering Mystery series a second chance after not liking the first book in the series (Rules Of Murder). Books two (Death By The Book) and three have been absolutely wonderful. Murder At The Mikado was a suspenseful page turner that I read in one day because I just couldn't put it down! You won't be disappointed by this wonderful new addition to the series. I won't say much about the plot because I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but I was definitely surprised at the end when the killer(s) were revealed. I highly recomme…

The Advocate

Image
The description of Randy Singer's The Advocate immediately caught my interest: "At the trial of Christ, Theophilus, brilliant young assessore raised in the Roman aristocracy, stands behind Pontius Pilate and whispers, “Offer to release Barabbas.” The strategy backfires, and Theophilus never forgets the sight of an innocent man unjustly suffering the worst of all possible deaths—Roman crucifixion.

Three decades later, Theophilus has proven himself in the legal ranks of the Roman Empire. He has survived the insane rule of Caligula and has weathered the cruel tyrant’s quest to control the woman he loves. He has endured the mindless violence of the gladiator games and the backstabbing intrigue of the treason trials.

Now he must face another evil Caesar, defending the man Paul in Nero’s deranged court. Can Theophilus mount a defense that will keep another innocent man from execution?

The advocate’s first trial altered the course of history. His last will change the fate of an emp…

Sinner's Creed

Image
I was so excited when I saw the publisher had made Sinner's Creed by Scott Stapp available as a free ebook on Kindle for a limited time. I downloaded it immediately - I'd been wanting to read this book since it came out but just hadn't gotten the chance yet. The description reads: "Sinner’s Creed is the uncensored memoir of Scott Stapp, Grammy Award–winning leader of the multiplatinum rock band CREED. During CREED’s decade of dominance and in the years following the band’s breakup, Scott struggled with drugs and alcohol, which led not only to a divorce, but also to a much-publicized suicide attempt in 2006. Now clean, sober, and in the midst of a highly successful solo career, Scott has finally come full circle—a turnaround he credits to his renewed faith in God.

In Sinner's Creed, Scott shares his story for the first time—from his fundamentalist upbringing, the rise and fall of CREED, and his ongoing battle with addiction, the rediscovery of his faith, and the l…

It Had To Be You

Image
It Had To Be You by Susan May Warren is book two in the Christiansen Family series. These novels are written to be standalone novels, but they all encompass various family members of the Christiansen Family, who resides in the Deep Haven/Evergreen Lake area of Minnesota. This particular installment follows Eden Christiansen, aspiring reporter and cheerleader/babysitter of her younger brother Owen. She's thrown together with Jace Jacobsen, an aggressive hockey player with a bad boy reputation. As their paths meet, they discover they might just belong together after all.

I absolutely loved this book. I am looking forward to reading more about the Christiansen family. They are the type of characters that you don't want to leave after you finish the book and put it down, and find yourself thinking about long after you close the cover. I also really appreciated the fact that they included the series prequel, I Really Do Miss Your Smile, which is a novella about the love story that…

All For A Sister

Image
All For A Sister by Allison Pittman is book three in the "All For A" trilogy set in the Roaring Twenties and featuring Aimee Semple McPherson. The book description reads: "In Hollywood during the Roaring Twenties, Celeste DuFrane has it all. Her father’s work with color movie film opens doors that lead to the stardom she’s always aspired to. But after losing her mother, she discovers that half the estate has been left to a woman accused of killing Celeste’s baby sister before Celeste was even born.

Dana Lundgren arrives on the steps of the DuFrane mansion having spent most of her life imprisoned for a crime that never happened. After accusing her of murder so many years ago, why did Marguerite DuFrane leave her a sizeable inheritance?

As Celeste and Dana learn each other’s stories, they come up with more questions than answers. Then a surprising discovery begins to fill in the missing pieces: Marguerite DuFrane’s written confession, penned shortly before her death. Unc…

All For A Story

Image
I've never read any books by Allison Pittman before this one, and I'm not always a huge historical fiction fan, but this book looked intriguing so I decided to give it a shot. All For A Story follows Monica Bisbaine. She's a modern girl in the Roaring Twenties, and a gossip writer for the newspaper Capitol Chatter. When Max Moore, editor-in-chief Aimee Semple McPherson's magazine, inherits Capitol Chatter from his uncle, he decides to revamp the newspaper with positive stories. He receives a lot of backlash, but he's determined to do his best. Along the way he falls for Monica and a romance begins to blossom.

This is a really interesting book. I'm glad I decided to give it a shot. It paints a vivid picture of life during the Roaring Twenties, and I enjoyed being transported to that time period. Monica is a brash and annoying character for much of the book, but I came to like her by the end of the story. The story itself is fast paced, full of good humor, and v…

Cookbook Giveaway!!!

Image
I recently received and reviewed The B.T.C. Old-Fashioned Grocery Cookbook. The description follows:

"Locals go to the B.T.C. Old-Fashioned Grocery in Water Valley, Mississippi, for its Skillet Biscuits and Sausage Gravy breakfasts, made-to-order chicken salad and spicy Tex-Mex Pimiento Cheese sandwiches, and daily specials like Shrimp and Grits that are as good as momma made. The B.T.C.’s freezers are stocked with take-home Southern Yellow Squash Casseroles and its counter is piled high with sweets like Peach Fried Pies as well as seasonal produce, local milk, and freshly baked bread.

“Be the Change” has always been the store’s motto, and that’s just what it has done. What started as a place to meet and eat is now so much more, as the grocery has become the heart of a now-bustling country town. The B.T.C. Old-Fashioned Grocery Cookbook shares 120 of the store’s best recipes, giving home cooks everywhere a taste of the food that brought a community together, sparking friendships…

The Jesus Code

Image
The Jesus Code by Dr. O.S. Hawkins is a devotional book that guides you through 52 questions found throughout the Bible, and that every believer should be able to answer. Each question is followed by several pages of devotional thoughts and Scriptures that help answer the question. The book is a beautiful hardcover bound with imitation leather. I also appreciated the fact that all proceeds of the sale of this book go to support Mission:Dignity, a charity that supports aging, retired pastors and their wives living near the poverty level. What a great cause.

I really enjoyed this book. The introduction suggests doing one chapter a week as a one year study, but I'm planning to read one every day for 52 days instead. There isn't much in the way of discussion questions, Scriptures to meditate on/memorize, etc. to last for an entire week, so I would say that is the one weakness of the book. Stretching it to a weeks' study would be easier if there were questions to answer or S…