Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Redcoats Are Coming! Focus on the Family's Imagination Station Book #13 by Marianne Hering and Nancy I. Sanders

This series puts the long-running and very popular Focus in the Family's Adventures in Odyssey into books for young children. This particular book is about American history, specifically Paul Revere. What a great way to learn about our country's history in a fun, exciting format! Patrick and Beth visit history through the "Imagination Station" to assist Paul Revere in warning the people that the British were coming during the outbreak of the Revolutionary war. They meet Paul Revere, Samuel Adams and John Hancock and play a hand in the events of history.

This book is well written and illustrated and at a level for understanding of young elementary aged children. They offer a download for a nominal fee of a curriculum to go with the story for homeschoolers and Christian schools. This is my preferred method of teaching history to my elementary aged granddaughter. She is a visual, hands-on learner and has loved Adventures in Odyssey all her life. She is enjoying this book along with another current related story for children that is making the rounds right now. I am so thrilled to have this resource available to make history fun to learn.

I received my copy of this book from Tyndale for review. I received no compensation for my review and all opinions are my own.

The One Year My Princess Devotions Preschool Edition by Karen Whiting

What a wonderful devotional books for little girls! Each individual date has a full page in this book. On each page is the title (theme) and 4 sections: Royal Words (a scripture verse), Princess Thoughts (a synopsis of the scripture), A Prayer for the King (a short prayer regarding what has been read), and Princess in Action (an activity that can put words to action).

For example, on March 6, the title is "Sharing With Jesus." The scripture is John 6:9 about the loaves and fishes shared by a little boy with the large crowd. The Princess in Action is a suggestion to ask parents for cans of food to give to a food pantry to help Jesus feed the hungry.

I love the entry for December 25. It is called "The Birthday Boy" and invites the child to bring her focus back to the true meaning of the day.

This is an attractive, hardback book with lovely illustrations. The inside front and back covers are whimsical flights of ladybugs. Any little girl would love to own this book. My little granddaughters are going to have to share because they all love this book.

I received my copy of this book from Tyndale for review. I received no compensation for my review and all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Wayfinding Bible

This is the most interesting looking study Bible I have seen in a long time. It is chock full of pictures, maps, diagrams, exploration and observation points. There are three different routes to take on your journey through this Bible. 1) Flyover, 2) Direct Route and 3) Scenic. Each one comes with a different colored arrow that leads you through the story from start to finish. This makes it ideal for an individual to read through the whole Bible and get a good solid picture of the whole through their own most comfortable method. I have always been a fan of the "scenic route" when traveling and I always like all the extra info I can get on a subject so that is the path I am taking. Yes, it will take longer but I will get all the meal, not just a taste. All the extra helps in this book make Bible study even more fun.

You can get a preview HERE.

I received a copy of this book from Tyndale for review. I received no compensation for my review and all opinions are my own. I am hiding my copy from my granddaughter until I can obtain another copy because I know she will want her own the minute she sees mine!

His Treasure -- Gems of Love from Your King by Sheri Rose Shepherd

This is a small book of daily devotions for women. Each two facing pages section has a "Treasure of Truth," a scripture, and a letter from God. These are very moving and thought-provoking. I am not a fan of other people speaking for God, even though well-intentioned. It makes me uncomfortable for them to put words into His mouth even though they are basing those on the scripture. It is a pretty little book and would make a nice gift and if you are comfortable with letters from God in a book other than the Bible, you might find this an interesting little book.

I received a copy of this book from Tyndale for review. I received no compensation for my review and all opinions are my own.

How to Talk to a Skeptic by Donald J. Johnson

This book arrived for me at a very opportune time. Our pastor is doing a series on witnessing. Mr. Johnson helps you avoid the pitfalls of arguing "the small stuff" first. He recommends that you first talk about the big picture: your Biblical world view. Stir up the big questions like Why are we here? How did all this get here? Is there a beginning? Is there an end? How can "nothing" exist? Is this all there is -- this repetitive day in and day out of our earthly lives? What is the point? Those are my interpretation of the questions not direct quotes from the author. Once you lay some groundwork and establish that all this couldn't have come about by chance, that there had to be a Creator, you can continue on to more specific issues. The author gets to some of those questions too and tells the reader how to approach the discussion of them, but spends a great deal of time cautioning the reader not to jump into those somewhat trivial issues first. Yes, there are hypocrites in the church, yes there is evil in the world, yes Christianity has some similarities to ancient pagan religions, yes the Church doesn't always get it right etc.

This is a very thoughtful and thought-provoking book and has aided me in my quest to become better at explaining my faith to others and doing what God intends for me to do -- fulfill the Great Commission. I recommend this book to all Christians who want to be a more effective witness.

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House for review. I received no compensation for my review and all opinions are my own.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Critical Reaction by Todd M. Johnson

Ryan Hart and Emily Hart, a father daughter legal team defend Kieran Mullaney, an old friend who was working in the wrong place at the wrong time and was the victim of a nuclear accident. The company he works for is trying to sweep it under the rug and they want the truth to come out.

This book is well-written and entertaining and in spite of the subject matter it kept me reading right through to the end with only a few stops for necessary work and sustenance. The other characters in the book were equally interesting and well developed.

Not only was the subject of nuclear facilities well researched, so too was the subject of courtroom procedures and the work that lawyers do. I enjoy learning about these things and along with an interesting story, there was some learning information included.

I look forward to seeing more from Todd M. Johnson in the future. He was a new author for me but will become a familiar author in the future.

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House for review. I received no compensation for my review and all opinions are my own.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Glory of Heaven by Betty Malz

Betty Malz wrote about her experience in Heaven when she had a near death experience when she was young. This book was written in her later years and tells about what she believes Heaven will be like. She shares many anecdotes gathered from other people who have had similar near death experiences over the years. The author bio at the end of the book says Betty has now gone on to be with her Lord and Savior so I know she is enjoying all this first hand now.

The book is very well written and engaging and keeps you reading. It also exhorts the reader to maintain and strengthen their relationship with the Lord.

I enjoyed every minute of this book. It made me long for my Heavenly home but also made me even more cognizant of the fact that there is work for me to do here spreading the message so others will have the opportunity to share in this beautiful eternity God has prepared for us.

Chosen Books (Baker Publishing) provided me with a copy of this book for review. All opinion are my own and I did not receive any compensation for my review.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Unspoken by Dee Henderson


Just when I thought Dee Henderson had reached perfection she outdid herself again. What a wonderful spinner of tales she is! She makes the reader want to jump into the book and live it with the characters.

Bryce Bishop meets Charlotte Graham when she brings him some rare coins to sell in his shop. But that is just the beginning of uncovering who Charlotte really is and learning about all the twists and turns her life have taken.

As Ms. Henderson tells the story she seamlessly weaves the characters' relationship with God into the plot. Their faith is such a part of them that it is just more detail of their personas.

In this story we meet Paul and Ann Falcon from Ms. Henderson's previous book and John and Ellie which apparently will be the subject of her next book. I love the way Ms. Henderson's books keep us apprised of the lives of her characters from previous books.

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House for review. I did not receive any compensation for reviewing the book and all opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

My One Desire

I feel young in my heart and mind still, but physically I have some limitations that some days frankly made me feel old. I have had a lot of down time to think about things and I realize I have had a pretty amazing life. It didn't always go the way I wanted it to do or how I planned it or dreamed it, but I have been blessed beyond measure.

I'm not afraid to live and face big things that may be coming down the Pike and I'm not afraid to die either. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that, in the Apostle Paul's words, "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord." (2 Corinthians 5)

I know this because I live in the Lord's presence and have for most of my life. I can remember from my earliest childhood questioning the how and why of everything in the Universe in searching for answers. I developed a close relationship with Jesus at a very early age but as a teenager and young adult I did some more searching. It either had to be ALL true or none of it was valuable to me. I did a lot of searching and a lot of research and in the end it was prayer and relationship with Him that clenched the deal. And it is ALL true. My relationship is so close that I cannot fathom how anyone could doubt His existence.

I believe that a lot of bad things are coming in this Earth's very near future (and a lot are already happening). It is my one desire to make sure everyone has a chance to know about and have a relationship with Him too. I pray constantly for friends and family members that need that relationship and I pray for many other people that I don't even know because every person is important to God. It doesn't matter what their social status, nationality, skin color, belief system or anything else is, God wants desperately to have a relationship with them because they are His creation and His purpose for creating them was to have a relationship with them.

God is so much a part of my life that I honestly do not know how anyone can even exist without knowing that He is there for them every step of the way. People will fail you, even those you love the most will sometimes let you down, but you can ALWAYS depend on Him. He is always still there when everyone else has gone about their own business. And, OH! the marvelous ways he provides for us, protects us, and comforts us! I have seen so many miracles in my life. My life has been just one big miracle. It hasn't been a conventional life, lived a conventional way. I have had to depend on Him for everything every step of the way. And He has blessed me immeasurably.

I could give you detail after detail, and would if it would help you to know Him too and not just satisfy idle curiosity. He is everything to me. And, whoever is reading this, He wants to be your everything, too. Just ask Him. It's that simple. And then listen and follow.

What Your Dreams Are Telling You by Cindy McGill

Cindy McGill is an expert on interpreting dreams. From what I can determine, she became an expert as a result of many, many years of practicing dream interpretation. I was skeptical at first because the book starts out sounding a little faddish and New Age, but toward the end she did qualify that she is a Christian and believes that dreams are from God.

She explains what different dreams mean. Much of it sounded very logical. I read the book cover to cover wanting to give it a fair evaluation. I found much of it helpful. Although Ms. McGill says we all dream every night and have at least 2 dreams per night, I don't remember very many of mine. I can remember a couple from my lifetime very vividly and some others vaguely but not a lot. I only have one "bone to pick" on the symbolism of dreams. Ms. McGill mentions more than once that the "bathroom dream" is a symbol of "purifying and cleansing." I have had some of these dreams myself from time to time and truly I believe that all it pertained to was the fact that I had to "go" really bad and needed to wake up and take care of it. The rest of the interpretations I have no real opinion about and you will have to read them and decide for yourself. I believe this author is very sincere and has helped a lot of people, and I do believe that God gives people dreams on occasion that help them. It is up to the individual to determine what is valuable here and what is not.

I received a copy of this book from Chosen Books for review. I did not receive any compensation for completing the review. All opinions are my own.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Heart of the Country by Rene Gutteridge and John Ward


Faith is running from a difficult situation. Her husband has been indicted for securities fraud in New York. She ran once before -- from grief when her mother died in North Carolina. Now she is returning to her childhood home in NC to heal and like the prodigal in the Bible, she is welcomed with open arms by her father and with a little bit of distrust by her older sister. This book tells the story of their long journey back -- hers and her husband's as they discover that family is what it is all about and as they put their faith back in God where it belongs.

I received a copy of this book and the movie from Tyndale House to review. I did not receive any compensation and all opinions are my own. I read the book first. Then I watched the movie. As with all movies that are made from books, some details were changed which is always annoying for me, but I realize that they must do this to make it work in this different format. My granddaughter, who watched the movie with me and has not yet read the book, enjoyed the movie and so did I.

The best part of the book for me was the description of both parents' transition from this world into Heaven. That was beautiful and real. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, they did not include those pieces in the movie. I thought the references to God in the book were a little too sketchy and a little too glossed over, but the doctrine is sound. I liked the book -- read it from cover to cover without taking much time out for anything else, but it was a little different, and there were a few less "warm fuzzies" than similar books I have read.

The fact that Gerald McRaney played the father in the movie made the movie for me. That was some wonderful casting.

I enjoyed both the book and the movie and would recommend either one or both to my friends.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Fired Up -- Trouble in Texas Book 2 -- Mary Connealy

Mary Connealy’s second book in the Trouble in Texas series is out and it is just as wonderful as the first one. Another one of the Civil War buddies that lived through the Andersonville Prison of War experience together is the focus of this book. Dare Riker is the town doctor, although he doesn’t feel that he actually has the credentials to be a real doctor. He is more than a little smitten by Glynna Greer who is more than a little man shy since her first two husbands were duds. She has opened a diner and the problem is she is a horrible cook. To top it all off, someone keeps trying to kill Dare. What a train ride! I love Mary C’s books. She is so funny. I am always excited to see the latest book by her on the shelf.

I can’t recommend this or all Mary C’s books enough. If you don’t have time to read anything else this year, pick up one of her books. You will not be disappointed.

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House for review. If they hadn’t offered it I would have bought it anyway because I can’t pass up anything by this author. I did not receive any compensation for completing the review. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Stranded by Dani Pettrey

Another great suspense/romance by this author! She has the right combination of mystery/love story/redemption in Christ to make a novel that you can't put down.

Darcy St. James is back in Alaska to help her old partner solve a crime on a cruise ship. She renews her acquaintance with Gage McKenna who is also working for the cruise line on contract. Just when Darcy arrives, her friend Abby disappears before she can explain to Darcy what she was investigating. Darcy has to figure it out all by herself (with help from Gage and his family, of course).

This is a marvelous series of books and I can't wait for more installments. I like how the author seamlessly includes each characters faith (or lack of it) in Christ into the story without being preachy or it feeling like extra baggage. It is just part of who they are and I really enjoy this aspect of the story. Can't wait to hear more from this author!

I received this book from Bethany House to review. I did not receive any compensation and all opinions are my own.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Critical Pursuit by Janice Cantore

Brinna Caruso is a cop whose passion is finding missing children and catching molestors who prey on them. She has a personal stake in this issue because when she was a small child she was kidnapped by a molester and left to die in a remote location. She was miraculously rescued and she wants that outcome for all the little girls. Detective Jack O'Reilly lost his wife and unborn child to a drunk driver and he is questioning everything in life right now. He wants off the homicide beat for a while and becomes Caruso's partner. Together they pursue the bad guys and hash out the meaning of life and the existence of God which both are skeptical about after what they have been through.

This book is well written and keeps you waiting to know more. The struggle with the issue of God's existence is woven into the story and is not clunky or irrelevant to the plot. It is a natural conclusion to the feelings being generated by the action. The fact that Ms. Cantore was a cop herself makes it all real and helps the reader get a feel for the job at hand. I felt there could have been a little more conflict if Brinna had actually met up with her molester in the final pages of this story but it was not diminished by the fact that she didn't. It was still a very satisfying read.

I received a copy of this book from Tyndale for review. I did not receive any compensation for completing the review. All opinions are my own.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Cry of My Heart

Babies and God-breathed Life are subjects close to my heart. What is breaking my heart is the abortion culture in our country today. I have always known at a gut level that life and babies are precious and that we have no right to mess with that. From the moment the sperm meets the egg in the womb and the baby begins to form a separate life has been created. To willingly murder that baby is an act of evil. Yes, I've heard all the arguments about rape and incest. In truth only about 1% of abortions are results of rape / incest. A similar percentage are due to trying to save the life of the mother. The rest are performed entirely for "convenience." The baby in the womb is a person in its own right. It has its own fingerprints, DNA, blood type etc., separate from the mother. He or she is not an extension of its mother's body parts. The baby is not responsible for the act that was committed to start its life. That baby has as much right to live as the selfish mother or father who wants it aborted for whatever reason they think they have.

Life and babies are so precious to me that it hurts my heart to see the things that are going on in our society today. So many people would love to adopt a newborn but instead they are being brutally murdered. I had three difficult pregnancies in my life. On the second one I miscarried. The devastation of losing those little lives (there were 3) was devastating to me for years afterward. I cannot imagine the pain there would have been if I had been responsible for that miscarriage. I still mourn for those little lives. My daughter has had similar difficulty with her pregnancies. She has had several miscarriages and 3 live births. All of her pregnancies have been high risk and one of the live births resulted in the baby dying almost immediately after birth. The baby died in her arms. That was 10 years ago and we still mourn that little life and the lives of the others that she miscarried. To both of us the thought of anyone deliberately taking the life of a baby in utero is horrifying. My daughter was offered an abortion when it became apparent that her baby had serious problems but she wouldn't even consider it. The opportunity we had to hold that precious life in our arms as she went to meet her Maker was something we would not trade for anything in the world. When I was pregnant with my daughter, the medical personnel told me since I was having a difficult pregnancy and there was the possibility of something being wrong with the baby, I should consider an abortion. I told them in no uncertain terms that would not ever happen and I would die first before I let something happen to my baby. And through some genuine miracles, she was born beautiful and perfect and is, along with her brother, the joy of my life.

Monday, August 5, 2013

A Simple Change by Judith Miller

A Simple Change is the 2nd book in the Home to Amana Series by Judith Miller. I had the privilege of reviewing Book 1 as well. One might think that as simple as life was in the Amana colonies, the books would be very similar. Not so -- only in location. The stories are quite different and both very compelling. In Book 2, Jancey Rhoder returns to the Amana Colonies with her parents, who left the Colonies when they were very young. Now Jancey's mother is ill and her parents have decided to return to their roots. Although Jancey's life has been very different from life in the Amana Colonies, she does not want to be separated from her mother during her mother's illness so she decides to go with them. Her ambitious boyfriend had hoped to end up with her father's company and was not pleased with this move. As Jancey settles into the new life, another young man catches her attention and she sees in him the gentleness and kindness of her father. Now she needs to choose. Several other complications along the way make it a shaky path to travel but her trust in God leads her to the correct destination.

This book is very well written and could certainly be enjoyed by anyone who enjoys historical novels. This book makes you want to keep reading till you figure it all out. I love a little mystery mixed in with the romance. I am awaiting anxiously now for Book 3.

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House for review. I did not receive any compensation for completing the review. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Spiritual Warrior's Guide to Defeating Jezebel by Jennifer LeClaire

Much was said about 20 years or so ago in the Christian world about the "Jezebel Spirit." Demons and evil spirits were much discussed and perhaps given a little too much glory. Jennifer LeClaire got some of her early experience with this subject through that movement. She has now experienced much along these lines and refined her take on this subject. As she mentions early in the book, many times forceful women or even just women with poor social skills have been labeled with this Jezebel spirit but this spirit is much more subtle and pervasive than that.

No matter what you choose to call it, this spirit is prevalent in the church world. Much of the mainline Christian denominations have compromised the Word of God by allowing false teachings and doctrines and just watering down and candy-coating the gospel message. "Secret" sins such as pornography and pedophilia are rampant in large sections of the church world. Cults introduce strange doctrine. Churches and ministries in many cases are more interested in their bottom line than maintaining Christian purity. All of these things simply put are idolatry and immorality.

There is much thought provoking material in this book and it is worth reading and taking to heart.

I received a copy of this book from Chosen books for review. I did not receive any compensation for completing the review. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Misery Loves Company by Rene Gutteridge

This book was a little out of my usual scope of reading material but I found it very intriguing. Juliet Belleno, a widow, is a blogger and spends most of her time alone with her writing. She runs into her favorite author one day in the grocery store and the rest is a blur. She end up kidnapped and wondering what is happening to her. Meanwhile, her father and her husband's former partner, Chris, start looking for her and find out a whole lot that they didn't know before about how Juliet's husband died. It all builds with increasing suspense until you can't put it down till you find out all the details. You also find some insight into the minds of writers in the process. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone for an exhilarating read.

I received a copy of this book from Tyndale for review. I did not receive any compensation for completing the review. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Angels in the Fire by Dann Stadler

Angels in the Fire is the story of a couple who survived a horrific car crash and all they experienced in the process. They were visiting family in Florida and heading back to the wife's parents' house at night on a divided highway (6 lanes on their side) when a drunk driver going the wrong way on the freeway hit them head-on at a high rate of speed. By rights they should have been dead but they survived. Tracey (the wife) had an encounter with an angel and with Jesus at the scene. Both had multiple life-threatening injuries and long recoveries. The story of all the miracles God performed in their lives is inspiring. They were not miraculously healed in an instant and they are not free from pain, even to this day, but the ways the Holy Spirit touched them throughout the years following the accident is truly amazing and is well worth the read. I could not put this book down till I finished it.

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House for review. I did not receive any compensation for completing the review. All opinions are my own.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Stealing the Preacher by Karen Witemeyer

Another fun book from Karen Witemeyer. Not too long ago I read her previous book, Short-Straw Bride. This book is about the younger brother of the "hero" in the previous book. This book, however, will stand alone. If this is the only one you read you will still have a great read! Joanna's father, a reformed outlaw, kidnaps a preacher for her off the train for her birthday because her dream is to fill the pulpit in their tiny church. The preacher in question is on the way to try out for a position in a neighboring town. His name is Crockett Archer. Not pleased with the turn of events, he eventually gets pulled in to Joanna's dreams anyway and pastors her church. There is the predictable marriage-hungry young lady and her mama to throw a monkey wrench into the works but Crockett and Joanna only have eyes for each other. Just a fun tale. I highly recommend it for some light reading.

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House for review. I did not receive any compensation for completing the review. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Sweet Mercy by Ann Tatlock

This book takes place in 1931, with a prologue and epilogue in 1981. The time frame of the book is during Prohibition and the time when all the big names in crime such as Al Capone were on the scene. Eve moves from a high crime area in St. Paul, MN to Mercy, OH where her uncle has a hotel/resort in what she views as a small town / safe area. As it all transpires, she finds out that bootlegging and illegal activity is widespread and not exclusively in the big city. She meets some interesting people and finds out some interesting things about herself as she works in Mercy.

This book was fascinating to me because it is the time frame in which my mother grew up and she would have been close to the same age as Eve. She grew up in rural Oklahoma, but I'm sure a lot of the headlines and news stories were the same.

I love the characters in this book and the way the story flows. I would not have normally chosen a book on this era to read but I found it fascinating and noteworthy and would recommend it to anyone who just enjoys a good story with some surprising twists and turns.

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House for review. I did not receive any compensation for completing the review. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Outcast by Jolina Petersheim

This story takes place in an Old Order Mennonite community in Tennessee. The story is told in first person by Rachel, the main character in the story and by her old bishop Amos King, now deceased. This was an unusual way to tell a story and some questionable theology involved, but very effective nonetheless. The story was a page turner. I never put it down till I finished it.

This book purports to be a "modern retelling of The Scarlet Letter." Since I don't remember a whole lot about that classic that I had to read at some point in school I didn't have a whole lot to compare here except public attitude, which is, I believe, a big part of The Scarlet Letter.

The characters here are very believable and all have an issue or story of their own which make them very interesting to the reader.

It involves adultery, cancer, twins, young love, loss and a myriad of other situations but surprisingly it all weaves into a very compelling story and does not lead you to the conclusion that the author had an overactive imagination to come up with so much trouble for everybody. I had that experience with another book I read recently but this one did not have that feeling to it at all.

Since the blurb that Amazon offers on this book is very appropriate to the story, I will not give away any plot by embellishing on it. I will just say that this author is one you will want to watch in the future!

I received a copy of this book from Tyndale for review. I did not receive any compensation for completing the review. All opinions are my own.

Monday, May 27, 2013

A Noble Groom by Jody Hedlund

This was a fun book that I could not put down. I read right through it. It is about German immigrants that came to the U.S. around 1880 to escape oppression in their homeland. My own ancestors came here around that same time and settled in Ohio. These immigrants settled in Michigan.

The story is about Carl Richards, really the son of the noble family that ruled in the area the immigrants came from in Germany. His father was whose oppression they had escaped. When Carl is falsely accused of attempted murder in Germany, he flees to Michigan at the behest of his manservant whose brother is living in Michigan. The brother is awaiting a relative being sent to marry his widowed daughter and take over her farm. Carl arrives ahead of the prospective groom and helps on the farm while hiding from the law.

The characters were interesting and likable and the book was well researched. I learned a lot about that day and time that was very interesting to me. Even though my ancestors settled in a city rather than on farms, I felt I learned a lot about what their lives may have been like. But more than that, this was just a good story that left me wanting more.

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House for review. I did not receive any compensation for completing the review. All opinions are my own.

Road Trip to Redemption by Brad Mathias

This is a wonderful book and all parents should read it. Brad Mathias is a minister and he thought he had the parenting thing all figured out until something went wrong for his daughter and he had to rethink everything. Not only did he find out that his way wasn't working, he found out there weren't any cut and dried answers and that it takes a lot more work and dedication to be a parent. But the key thing, in my opinion, is that God spoke to him on more than one occasion and he chose to listen and follow. It wasn't the easiest course of action but it was the right one.

Part of Brad and his wife's journey through this rough patch included an actual road trip where parents and teens reconnected with each other and with God.

This book should be read by every parent who needs these insights to continue their own journey in parenting their precious children. Even I, as a grandmother, gained much insight into some of the things I have observed along the way.

I received a copy of this book from Tyndale for review. I did not receive any compensation for completing the review. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Meal Time Devotions by John Avery Whitaker

Everyone in our house loves Adventures in Odyssey and Whit's End. So when I got the opportunity to review this book I was excited! Family devotion time can be a snooze for some families especially when they have a wide range of ages in the family. Not so these devotions. Each devotion is one page long. It starts with a prayer and then moves on to the "Appetiser" which is a game or a demonstration of some sort that everyone can participate in. Then the main course is a short idea to get you thinking, followed by Table Talk which is a series of discussion points or questions. The last snippet is "vitamins and minerals" which is a scripture verse that ties it all together. This is a fun way to get everyone involved, even the teenagers.

If you love Adventures in Odyssey, you will enjoy this book of 90 family devotions (3 months worth)!

I received a copy of this book from Tyndale for review. I did not receive and compensation for completing the review. All opinions are my own

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Swept Away by Mary Connealy

This is another great story by Mary Connealy! I have been gobbling up her books since the very first one and waiting with great anticipation for the next installment. I love her sense of humor! I hope I am still around ten years from now and Mary is still writing books because they just get better and better. This one is even better than all the previous ones. She has refined her art and this one just sings!

This book is the first in the Trouble in Texas series. Luke Stone is working with his war buddies to recover the ranch that was stolen from him. He finds Ruthy MacNeil along the way, half-drowned from being swept away by a flash flood. He takes her along with him for lack of a better plan and she proves to be as big an asset in the plan to recover the ranch as all the former soldiers. This books is a real page-turner and I am now waiting anxiously for book number 2 in this series. Also hoping this book comes out on Audio soon so my daughter can enjoy it too.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Icecutter's Daughter by Tracie Peterson

Rurik Jorgensen had to leave his Swedish hometown of Lindsborg, KS to go help his Uncle Carl with his furniture making business in Minnesota. In Minnesota, he meets German farm girl Merrill Krause (the Icecutter's daughter) and they are each entranced be the other. Unfortunately, some of Rurik's past arrives in Minnesota to visit him and a lot of unpleasant things happen. Both Rurik and Merrill continue to trust in God for the outcome and all is resolved in the end.

There is so much rich history and tradition in this volume and that alone would make it worth the read, but in addition it is a well-crafted story with wonderful, believable characters and a storyline that won't let you put it down. I just kept reading till I was suddenly at the end an bereft at the loss of the story -- it should have kept on going into infinity. Now I must wait to see if a sequel is in my future, and if so, if I will find out more about these characters and about Merrill's brothers and their future families etc. I almost feel like these characters are friends.

Tracie Peterson has written a wonderful story here and I recommend it to all who love Christian historical fiction and all who just love a great story!

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House to review. I did not receive any compensation for completing this review. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Sweet Sanctuary by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Kim Vogel Sawyer is one of my all time favorite authors and I don't think you can improve on perfection but with each book that comes out I realize that she has done just that because each one is even better than the one before. When I looked at the blurb for this one I thought, WWII -- I don't want to read any more WWII stories -- but after all, this was Kim Vogel Sawyer so I decided to soldier on. I am so glad I made that decision. This book is the best one yet. It is about a doctor and nurse who were formerly stationed in Hawaii together and now she (Lydia Eldredge) is in Boston taking care of a child given to her by a dying friend and he (Dr. Micah Hatcher) is in New York being a doctor to immigrants and also doing some top secret work to help save Jewish children in Europe. His brother, a minister, is in Europe and is smuggling the children of Polish Jews into the United States to be adopted by Jewish families in the U.S. Dr. Hatcher receives the children as they come in and takes them to a rabbi who places them. They reconnect and Micah tries to help Lydia, whose little boy is being claimed by his birthfather. The birthfather is addicted to morphine and wants to sell the boy to pay for his habit. The story gets even more interesting from there but I won't spoil it for you. In this book, two people actually accept Jesus as their savior during the course of the story and I thought that was a gutsy inclusion and thought Ms. Sawyer's relating of those two conversions was very well done. I love the current Christian fiction. Authors like Ms. Sawyer are not afraid to take on the real issues of Christianity and tell it like it is without being preachy or stilted. I am hoping this book comes out in Audio version soon so my very busy daughter who loves WWII stories will be able to enjoy this one.

Monday, March 25, 2013

FIrefly Island by Lisa Wingate

This book was a real page turner. I had a hard time getting into it at first because I just kept thinking, "this is going to end badly." I couldn't imagine how a professional woman working on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC could be happy quitting her job, getting married and moving with her ready-made family to a ranch in the back of beyond in Texas. I couldn't imagine a "happily ever after" coming from that scenario. But amazingly enough, it did. And with a lot of mystery and intrigue in the middle. There were a lot of mishaps along the way as she dealt with goats, cows, vermin and hometown folk in the small Texas town. Throw in a surprise pregnancy, a lot of loving, long-distance interfering relatives and some unusual new friends. This book had a lot of quirks and surprises but it chronicled the journey from self-sufficiency to being part of a community and a real genuine love relationship. By the time I got half way through the book I couldn't put it down anymore and could not wait to read to the last page to find out what happened. After I read the last page I sat and enjoyed knowing but with a little sadness at that being the end and no more to experience. I've read several of Lisa Wingate's books and all I can say is they keep getting better and better!

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House to review. I did not receive any compensation for completing this review. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

So Shines the Night by Tracy L. Higley

I am at a loss at where to begin to describe this book. This is Acts Chapter 18 and 19 as you have never even imagined it before. Tracy Higley never ceases to amaze me as to the depth of her historical research. This book is about Daria, who flees from Rhodes to Ephesus in search of a new life and answers to puzzling questions, and Lucas, a businessman from Ephesus who is also seeking answers. They become embroiled in the politics and intrigues of the day and find themselves exploring the secret world of the sorcerers, the intrigues of the business class who seek to keep the status quo of the worship of Artemis, and the intriguing group called "The Way" which consists of both Jews and Greeks who are followers of the Jesus, the Messiah. One of the leading characters is Paul and another is Timothy as well as others mentioned in the Book of Acts.

It is a wonderful story, a love story of sorts, a mystery, and just an intriguing look at what life was like in that place and time. It is an in-depth look into the worship of the gods, their followers, their temple etc., and the darker, demonic side of the sorcerers who tried to dig deeper only to become entangled in the world of the demonic.

As Ms. Higley has explored the wonders of the ancient world through her books, our study of ancient history and also of the early church has been enhanced. Her books are favorites of mine and my granddaughter's. My granddaughter can barely wait for me to finish the books so she can get her nose into them. There are such a rich and delicious read that it spoils us for other literature.

Author’s Note
The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World continue to inspire my creative imagination and my passion for historical research. In So Shines the Night I wanted to give readers an experience of the Temple of Artemis in a real and tangible way.
By the opening of So Shines the Night, this temple had been built, destroyed by a flood’s deposit of silt and sand, rebuilt, destroyed by arson, and rebuilt yet again, larger and more magnificent than ever. The tenaciousness of the Ephesian people in their devotion to Artemis is undeniable.
The province of Asia Minor during the reign of the Roman Empire was an eclectic mix of Romans, Greeks, Jews and others, though the culture was mainly Greek. But the Ephesian Artemis was distinct from the usual Artemis worshipped elsewhere through the Greek world. The “virgin huntress” of the larger Greek world was here in Ephesus changed to focus more on fertility, and from the comment made in Acts 19, the Ephesians seemed to believe that she had fallen to them from the sky – it’s believed that perhaps some kind of meteoric rock actually fell and was preserved inside the temple.
Ephesus itself was an important harbor city of the ancient world, though it had been ravaged the century prior by the Mithridatic Wars which had left the city heavily in debt. When Augustus came to power in 27 BC, he made Ephesus the capital of his new province of Asia, and began a widespread rebuilding of the city, which brought affluence and luxury. At the point of our story, in 57 AD, there is still more extravagant building to come – for nearly another hundred years – including that iconic image of Ephesus, the Library of Celsus. Readers who have visited the ancient ruins of Ephesus may have wondered at that structure’s absence from the story. In fact, it was not built until 135 AD.
All that Greek and Roman history is fascinating, but for me, the most enjoyable part of this book was getting to include some familiar characters from the pages of the Bible – Paul and Timothy, Priscilla and Aquila, and a few other miscellaneous folks we know very little about. One of the challenges for me was pinning down an exact timeframe for the story, and in the end I made a decision based on widely-accepted historical research.

If you have one of those maps in the back of your Bible featuring “Paul’s missionary journeys,” you’ll find Ephesus along the route of Paul’s third journey. For those interested in a brief timeline, when Paul came to Ephesus he had already visited many of the well-known cities such as Thessaloniki, Phillipi, Athens and Corinth. He had worked alongside Barnabus and Silas, and picked up Timothy in Lystra. While in Corinth (probably around 53) he met Priscilla and Aquila who had moved there when the Roman emperor Claudius forced all Jews to leave Rome in 49. Paul stayed about eighteen months in Corinth, where he wrote two letters to the Thessalonians. Leaving Corinth, he took Priscilla and Aquila with him and stopped in Ephesus, leaving them there to begin missionary work while he continued on to Syria. Back in Ephesus, the tent-making couple encountered and discipled Apollos, who soon left them to join the church back in Corinth. Paul then returned to Ephesus, probably around 54, and stayed nearly three years, building the beginning of the Ephesian church. I would really encourage you to read through Acts 18 and 19. It’s my hope that after reading So Shines the Night, Acts 19 especially will leap off the page! Look for some familiar characters you may never have noticed before.

Beyond the scope of this story, Paul left Ephesus and traveled inland through Macedonia (northern Greece), then down to the southern part of Greece, then looped back around and returned to Jerusalem, probably by about 58. It was then that he was taken before Governor Felix (Acts 24) and Festus about two years later (Acts 25). The voyage to Rome then began, including storms, a shipwreck, a poisonous snake bite, and then house arrest in Rome for two years, where he penned the letters to the Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians and Philemon. He apparently did more traveling after his release from arrest in 63, though we do not have many details. Paul was probably martyred sometime around 67, by the emperor Nero.
Such an adventurous life the man led in his quest to spread the gospel! The events of Acts 19 alone were enough to fill a story for me, and when it was time to write about the “ancient wonder” of the Temple of Artemis, I found this time in its history infinitely compelling.

Choosing John as my narrator in the Prologue and Epilogue might strike some of you as a strange choice, but I couldn’t pass over the fascinating possibility that he may have lived out his last years in Ephesus after his exile on Patmos. Mary, the mother of Jesus, may have lived there as well, perhaps taken care of by John years earlier, before his exile. We also know that Timothy eventually returned to pastor the church in Ephesus.

Besides grafting in the ancient pagan and the familiar biblical history, my desire was to create a sort of old-fashioned gothic romance set in an ancient period, and readers of that genre will no doubt recognize the subtle influences of some of my favorites – traces of Jane Eyre and her Mr. Rochester, and of Maxim de Winter, whose dead wife Rebecca haunts him and his timid new bride. Or perhaps hints of Jekyll and Hyde, or even a touch of my favorite age-old motif, that of “Beauty and the Beast.” It was great fun crafting a story out of all these disparate elements, and it’s my sincere hope that you’ve enjoyed the adventure.

I have been privileged to explore the city of Ephesus twice, and I invite you to visit my website,, to browse my travel photo journals. You’ll experience the sights and sounds of this great ancient city, see photos of the hillside estates, the agoras and temples and streets, and the vast amphitheater where Daria fought the powers of darkness for the man she loved and the God she was beginning to discover.
You’ll also have a chance to connect with me. I love to hear from readers about the adventure of their own lives. Where are you in your own battle to stand strong and to trust? Please visit my site and share your heart with me!
And I hope you’ll join me on my next adventure! Check out the “Work-in-Progress” page to see where we’ll be headed next!

Learning to Love by Heidi and Rolland Baker

I was already somewhat familiar with IRIS ministries from reading some of Michele Perry's books about her ministry in Sudan. This book is by the leaders of the IRIS group, Heidi and Rolland Baker and tells of their work all over Africa and even in Asia. They tell amazing stories of God's miracles in these poor countries and even with the total lack of provisions available to people, how much joy the Christians there have. We, in this country, could learn much from these people about the joy of the Lord and what is really required for happiness (not all the stuff we think we need and take for granted) -- fresh water, food, shelter. In these countries people are regularly healed of deafness since birth and many other serious illnesses and deformities. We don't see so much of that here because we don't totally depend on God for EVERYTHING the way these people do. We try to be too independent and depend on ourselves instead of God. After reading this book, I don't know who is more deprived -- the people of these poor countries or us. I personally want more of the Lord. This book will bless you in many ways. And it is also very good to know what our missionaries face and what is really happening on the mission field. I hope everyone takes the time to read this and absorb the message that is here for us all.

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House to review. I did not receive any compensation for completing this review. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

A Rabbi Looks at the Last Days by Jonathan Bernis

This book is well written. It is somewhat repetitive but that does not detract from the message of the book. It serves to reinforce the points being made. This is a slightly different take than the usual book about End Times, but it is from a unique perspective. It is written by a Jewish rabbi that accepted Yeshua as Messiah and is now the head of a Messianic Jewish ministry that follows the dictates of the Great Commission to preach the good news to the Jew first and then to the Gentile. He has experienced amazing numbers of Jews accepting Jesus all over the world through the work of the Holy Spirit. This is the time that the Bible speaks about when the fields are ripe for harvest and astounding numbers of Jews all over the world are responding to the Gospel message. This is truly a major "sign of the times."

I feel enriched having read this book and I feel that my missions focus is more refined after reading this book. I would recommend it to all thinking Christians and Jews because there is much to be gleaned here and we all need to reach out to God's chosen people.

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House to review. I did not receive any compensation for completing this review. All opinions are my own.

Monday, February 25, 2013

My Thoughts on the Future

As the daily news gets uglier and bleaker DAILY, it is time to fish or cut bait. So quite plainly, all that is happening is leading up to the Great Tribulation and it appears that it is in our VERY NEAR future. It is what has been building since the day that sin entered the world in the Garden of Eden. Even those who don't believe this realize that something very ominous is happening and either try desperately to push it out of their minds or tremble in fear of the future.

I personally believe in God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth. I have believed in Him since the day I was born (and maybe before that -- not sure of the theological standing of that idea ;-) ). I cannot remember NOT knowing that God was there and that He cared about me. I didn't always honor him as I should have. I went through a time of questioning and seeking and through all of that, it came back to the simple fact that HE IS! I cannot look at all the intricacies, the brilliant array of shapes and colors and wonder of the natural world without knowing there is a Creator. But beyond that, I have had conversation and fellowship with God all my life and have never, ever been alone because He has been there with me. I cannot even fathom how people can deny His existence.

If you are reading this and you don't have the same personal assurance of His existence or if you do believe He is there, but haven't engaged Him, please just stop and ask Him right now to show Himself to be real to you. If nothing happens then what did you lose? You don't even need to feel foolish if you were all alone when you asked. But I know that He will respond to you because He loves you and wants relationship with you.

Maybe you think you don't want anything to do with God because your experiences with Christians haven't been happy ones. Christians are all human and subject to human weakness, but I would just recommend that you find a different group of Christians and try again. The ones who really walk the walk can become the best friends you ever had.

If you have a Bible, open it and read it. If you don't have one, find one. They aren't hard to come by. I could give you all kinds of scriptures and formulas for becoming a Christian but none of them are a match for the leading of the Holy Spirit or just a genuine desire on your part to find out everything you can for yourself.

And the good news is, those people who have a relationship with the Father are not troubled by the all the impending doom in the news. We know that it all has to happen for the end to come. I personally cannot wait for the Bridegroom to come and all that has been laid out for the future to transpire. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Wings of Glass by Gina Holmes

Wow! I don't know what to say about this book. Anything I say won't do it justice. I couldn't put it down. It is the story of a young couple and the wife's journey through an abusive relationship. All the things she tells herself and others are typical of the skewed thinking of a victim of physical and emotional abuse. I have watched so many women struggle with this over the years and I think every woman should read this book. Even if it is not their story, it is the story of someone close to them and it will help them gain a better understanding of what that person is going through.

Alcohol and drugs are included in this story, but abuse in any form takes on the same characteristics. This book should be on the reading list of college classes for those studying to be social workers, counselors, attorneys, etc.

The story also stands alone as a good read. The story is told in first person by the abuse victim, Penny, to her infant son, Manny. She is telling him what happened after the fact.
The characters are interesting and compelling. The friends Penny makes along the way add to the story with their own journeys. The glimpse of their faith is honest and straightforward, not preachy. Her Sudanese friends are especially interesting.

I cannot recommend this book enough. Everyone should read this book.

I received a copy of this book from Tyndale to review. I did not receive any compensation for completing this review. All opinions are my own.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Julie Klassen’s The Tutor’s Daughter

This book was a yummy read from start to finish. Emma Smallwood is the daughter of a scholar who has been running a school for boys in his home for many years. Since the loss of Mr. Smallwood's wife, he has been depressed and no longer interested in his school. An opportunity comes for he and his daughter to go to Cornwall and tutor two boys whose older brothers were former students in the school. When Emma and Mr. Smallwood arrive in Cornwall, all is not as they had expected. There is a mystery afoot and even the brothers they already knew seemed to be different than their rememberance of them. What ensues is a wonderful mystery (you won't figure it out right away)and budding romantic feelings. It is like reading Jane Austin with spiritual undertones. Both Henry Weston, the eldest son, and Emma examine their faith in the process.

To see a trailer about the book, click HERE

This book kept me glued to it till I finished. The tale was marvelously wrought and I was fascinated with the location, the plot, the depth of the characters and the never boring story of redemption. I can't wait to see more by this author!

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House to review. I did not receive any compensation for completing this review. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Book Review: If You Have A Craving, I Have a Cure

For a light, almost devotional-flavored take on everyone's penchant for getting their life under control for the New Year, try this book. It is full of pretty average, run of the mill advice that you have already heard -- not much new -- but it is enjoyable reading all the same. There are lots of recipes in each chapter that might be fun to try. The recipes are the main feature so this would make a nice gift for your friends who like to try new recipes. I was hoping for something more substantial from this book, but I did enjoy reading it anyway.

I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale for review. All opinions are my own.