Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Freedom's Light by Colleen Coble

I chose this novel for two reasons. The author and the cover. I am a huge fan of Colleen Coble. I have read most of her penned works. I always walk away moved in some way and eager for the next in the series to be released. She's one of those timeless authors who can pen a novel of any genre and touch the heart in a powerful way. 

The cover is beautiful. What I really love is the lighthouse and the title. So telling of this story. He is our Lighthouse and it is through Him that we will forever find freedom and a safe harbor. 

We travel back in time to the Revolutionary War. America at that time was torn. Seems relevant to our world today. There is much going on in this novel. We have love and hate, loss and gain, faith and trust, believing in God or believing in self, family honor, staying true to one's convictions or swaying to the other side, obsession and forgiveness. We meet characters battling many emotions of the heart. 

This is well written and Coble brings these characters to life as if we were there walking this story with them. We see the good in these characters and their struggle. Some characters are strong and likeable while others are not. But that is life, right? The struggle of finding truth and where we need to be, and remaining true to who we are, not losing sight along our life's journey of what's most valuable.

I really enjoyed this novel. I admire Christian writers who remain true to themselves writing faith-centered novels. Freedom's Light is unlike anything I have read penned by Coble. Although different, very enjoyable. I cannot wait to see what's next to come. That is very telling of a happy reader. 

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This novel was a gift from Thomas Nelson for sharing my review with you. 

Colleen Coble is a USA TODAY bestselling author and RITA finalist best known for her romantic suspense novels, including Tidewater Inn, Rosemary Cottage, and the Mercy Falls, Lonestar, Rock Harbor, and Sunset Cove series. Visit her website at www.colleencoble.com

Catching Christmas by Terri Blackstock

This afternoon I sat down with this novel in hand. A few hours later I closed the last page being moved greatly from this unexpected blessing. 

So different from anything penned by Terri Blackstock. I have been a fan for years of her gifted writing. Loving her thriller and suspenseful novels and series. But this novel, for me today, exceeds them all. I love when God does His thing in His perfect timing. 

I wish I had a copy of this novel to give to every friend and family member. A wonderful read for now, before Christmas when all gets crazy and overdone. A novel for the heart to be moved to change. That makes this a standout novel. 

A faith-centered read with three characters that stole my heart. I could relate to the cab driver and the granddaughter. The grandmother, she could be my mother. Placing myself in the part of the granddaughter. My mother is in the early stages of dementia. For me, there are times I feel less like a daughter and more so a nurse, a grocery shopper, a driver, fill in the blank. All the while trying to find myself in my own busy life. With all that being said, this novel made me stop and think. A last Christmas? Maybe. We never know, but that is what these three characters help us see through their transparent lives. 

A cab driver, living with guilt, is changed forever when he is called to the house of a sweet old lady. This is his second chance. A granddaughter, caught in the life of a job that has taken over her life and trying her best to care for the grandmother who she loves so much. The sweet Callie, she wants to make it the best Christmas ever. These three lives are intertwined as God intercedes and brings them together for a time that will bring unexpected blessings. 

I love the sweetness of this story. Such a simple message, but one we easily forget. Beauty fills every page of this novel. I too love that Terri shares how this story was brought to black and white. I am so thrilled she shared it. A story my heart needed and words I needed reminding of today. 

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This novel was a gift from Thomas Nelson for sharing my review with you. 

Terri Blackstock has sold over seven million books worldwide and is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author. She is the award-winning author of Intervention, Vicious Cycle, and Downfall, as well as such series as If I Run, Moonlighters, and Cape Refuge.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Saving A Pew Or Saving A Heart?

If a whore walked into your church would you move over to give her a seat? If a known heroin user entered the doors would you stare in disbelief? If a gay couple joined your Sunday morning service would you share your pew with them? What about the couple in town that lives together unmarried with three children? 

Those questions kind of sting, don't they? We don't like to think we make a difference in people, but we do. Somehow we are accepting of those we love and admire, but as for strangers, not so much and if they are different in some way other than what we are comfortable with everything changes. 

"But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in each other." Galatians 6:4 

We point out sins that we seem to think are much worse than others. But see, sin is sin. All sin is ugly.  We are sinners in need of grace. What I've learned is that most sins are not seen on the outside but they live inside hidden from others who share our pew. May this be the day, the beginning, where we realize we are ALL sinners in need of God's grace. And oh, what a mighty grace He has. 

"The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank You that I am not like other men-extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector." Luke 18:11

We see the outward sins of people in their actions, their way of life, their choices, their speech. But what about the inside, down deep, under the skin that no one else can see, maybe except for a few in our circle in which we share the same sins? Lies and gossip. Betrayal and lust. Pride and arrogance. Hatred and condemnation. Jealousy and judgement. Silent sin is still sin. In so many ways we are like the Pharisees, aren't we? We see the sins of others, but don't realize our sins because they in some way just don't seem bad enough. 

"When He had called the multitude to Himself, He said to them, "Hear and understand: Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man." Matthew 15:10-11

The church house isn't for just some, but for all. We have differing skin tones that separate our worship house. What happens when ink covered skin enters the door? Do we look at them with tainted eyes and thinking of how much they need Jesus? Friends, we all need Jesus. What about those who live on the outskirts of town and enter the doors? Better yet, what about those who live uptown and have more than us? How often do we look at them with upturned noses? People all around us are searching for more. They are searching for something. 


The day happens where they pass by a church and the Spirit moves and calls them inside. They finally have the courage to enter. They take a seat near the back row. They just want to sit and listen. Feel everything out. Do they fit? What is they see? Are they welcomed with love and grace or are they met with differing eyes? You know that look, right? That, {bless their heart} look we give people when we think they need Jesus more than we do. There isn't one of us who doesn't need Jesus and need Him the most. 

"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure." Philippians 2:12-13

I am in no way saying we should accept sin of any kind. We must preach the gospel of Christ and stay true to His Word, never wavering from it. But we must live with grace and love towards all men. We are to love without discrimination. Jesus accepts us as we are, but somehow we place a standard on who we accept. We are to love people. Simple as that. When we love with grace we give Christ the room to change the heart. There isn't a timetable on what God can do. When we exclude people we limit God. We are to be in the people business and allow God to be in the heart business. 

The world is watching. Just what are we showing them about the love of Christ? Too many are walking out the doors of church and never returning. If we are loving like we should our churches would be packed full of people wanting nothing more than to worship the Jesus we so love. It isn't about people measuring up to us. It's about using God's Word as our measurement for life. 


He meets us where we are and on that Damascus Road everything changes. But the sweetest thing is God's grace and how He walks with us. Everything in His perfect timing. Our loving another today could change their life years from now. We don't always get to see the benefit of loving others. So often that love isn't reciprocated, but one day, in God's perfect timing it will all fit together for His benefit and glory. 

"What profit has the worker from that in which he labors? I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end." Ecclesiastes 3:9-11

We grow in faith through prayer and seeing what God does to the heart of man. He changes us. There are none of us in the same exact spot with Jesus right this moment. He convicts the heart and in obedience we listen and follow. We all had to begin somewhere, right? We all started out as sinners and even after accepting and receiving Jesus as Savior we are still sinners. Forgiven and saved by the grace of God, but still sinners. We cannot forget that we too our sinners and look upon the world as if we are better. We aren't better. We are all created in God's image and He desires for ALL to be saved. 


"So God created man His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." Genesis 1:27


"Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." 1 Timothy 2:1-6


"The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but in longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:9


We go to Friday night football games and Saturday night movies, placing our sweaters in seats to save them for who we wish to sit by us. We love feeling comfortable. We like cozy. We love being surrounded by family and friends. There's not a thing wrong with that until we stop making room for others. This seat is taken isn't words that should come from us when we are to be light-bearers to the world. We should be making room for all. There was one who chose to make room for me. 

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. But this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:34-35

We want church to be comfy cozy. We don't want to be uncomfortable, but you know what? It's when we are uncomfortable that God does this amazing thing. He shows Himself to us in ways we never expected. Maybe we just need to start expecting the unexpected. God's glory comes in all sizes and shapes. Take a chance on someone. Scoot your sweater over and make room. You just may witness God do something spectacular!

Never A Stranger Does He Meet


Jericho was about to have Jesus come and walk among the people. The gossip was a buzz. Could it really be? The streets began to crowd with people. Some with anticipation others with curiosity. Zacchaeus hears of this news and wants to see who this Jesus is. 

Do we wait in anticipation for Jesus? Do we wake expecting to see His glory? Zacchaeus is curious and pondering this Jesus. Wait, is He approaching? He can't see. Oh, if only the people would give room for him to witness this King of kings. He doesn't want to miss out. Could Zacchaeus be expecting Jesus to be all he has heard about? He surely isn't giving up on getting a glimpse of Him. He runs ahead and with his short legs climbs a sycamore tree. 

Zacchaeus sees Jesus, but did he expect Jesus to see him atop that tree? Jesus looks up. Their eyes meet and Jesus calls to him.  Can you imagine this moment? Did Zacchaeus look around puzzled as if to say, "Me? Are you speaking to me?" He was just wanting to see Jesus, but here Jesus looks up to him and calls him by name. Oh, my friends, a stranger has Jesus never met. It stirs my heart to ponder all that Zacchaeus must be feeling. This time was planned in advance by a Savior who all along was preparing the heart of  Zacchaeus.

"Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, "Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house." So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. but when they saw it, they all complained, saying, "He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner." Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold." And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." Luke 19:1-10

I love how Scripture shares with us that Jesus knew his name. It makes their meeting intimate even in the midst of a crowd. Zacchaeus climbs down from the tree and there is Jesus waiting. What a glorious sight to ponder. Not a chance meeting at all, but one that was planned for this sinner to meet his Savior face to face.

Zacchaeus had everything monetary. He was a wealthy man. Even though he had everything, was there something missing? I love that Zacchaeus was curious and wanting to see the Savior. He wasn't worried about what others thought. I mean as he climbed the tree what were others thinking of him? Zacchaeus was about to find out those around him would judge and point fingers, but he was in the presence of the One who would change his life forever. No one else mattered at the moment. The Savior was calling. Zacchaeus answered the call.

Can you imagine Jesus wanting to come to your house and stay the night? Zacchaeus was a tax collector. A schemer who deceived others to make his wealth. A sinner in need of forgiveness and grace. A home that needed the presence of Jesus. It mattered not to Jesus that Zacchaeus was a sinner. Jesus was welcomed and Zacchaeus was hospitable.

A short man in a tall tree. What does this say to me? Jesus always makes a way. He provides a vision. He prepares the way. Nothing can keep us from our Savior when He is calling. There is no distance He will not cross. The crowd too deep. Jesus makes way for a tree top. He will always give room for us to see if only we are willing.

But get this. Zacchaeus wasn't the only tax collector who he asked to follow Him. In Scripture we also meet Matthew. As Jesus was walking He passed by the tax collector's office. Again, not a chance meeting. Jesus sees Matthew through the window and calls him out. He speaks and says, "Follow Me" {Matthew 9:9-13}. Jesus goes to the home of Matthew and sits with many tax collectors and sinners. Once again the people didn't understand why Jesus and His disciples would be within their company. Jesus explains, but just today many didn't care to understand at all, but those with willing hearts were ready to accept. Don't you just love how Jesus steps out and makes way for us? Don't you love that Jesus isn't afraid of sinners?

"For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." John 3:17

People didn't understand why Jesus would dine with a sinner. I believe many of us today wonder the same. How often do we dine with sinners? How often to do we invite them into our home? When was the last time we invited the Savior in to dine with us? We tend to leave Jesus out and we cast aside the sinners. I'm just being real here. In church I was taught to surround myself with only Christians. We were taught to not have relationships with sinners, with those not saved. I look back and see that my life was empty of people who didn't know Jesus as their Savior. How was I to share Jesus with the world if the world wasn't invited into my life to witness Him in my own?

Like Zacchaeus and Matthew there's a world out there filled with people searching for more. For something to fill the emptiness. Jesus provides a sycamore for every sinner. Just like Zacchaeus, Jesus made a way for me. He had set in motion long ago our meeting. He planned and then hoped in patience for when that day came I would be anticipating His call. I came as a sinner. He met me as my Savior.

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God has passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." {Romans 3:23-26}

Saturday, September 1, 2018

White as Silence Red as Song by Alessandro D'Avenia

There are some reviews that are more difficult to write than others. I'm going to do my best in sharing about this novel without giving away too much. I really don't like reviews where the reviewer shares everything, front to back, about the novel. It pretty much stops me from wanting to read the book even if it looks promising. So, here we go. 

Why did I choose this novel? The cover captivated me. The title intrigued me. The author, from Italy, it being his first novel, well, that just really cool. 

I have to say I had really high expectations for this novel. I am trying to choose wisely when it is Thomas Nelson. Many are weaved in faith and most are beautiful reads, but there are others where faith is missing altogether or as in this novel written in such a way that if you were not already a Believer I'm not sure you would read between the lines. 

I can see young adults enjoying this novel. It is a romantic read told by the perspective of a sixteen year old boy. He is a mix of emotions and is trying to find his dream. He can be likeable one minute and the next he is a character you don't really enjoy, but isn't that pretty much a sixteen year old? 

Leo is super smart. He and his friends enjoy literature. He ponders everything. One minute he is wise beyond his years and the next he pretty much seems like he's more eleven than sixteen. Yes, Leo himself is a rollercoaster of everything. There too is a sweetness to him. His friend, Niko, is the buddy he does video games with and hangs out eating burgers. Their friendship is believable. They share about life, the things that they enjoy and dislike, but Leo keeps his boundaries. 

There is one that Leo shares everything with. This is the character, Silvia. She is the girl he shares his soul with. They talk about everything under the sun and to the moon and back. This is the relationship so many have in high school. They count on one another. When something happens they are the first to share with each other. They have a sweet relationship. 

And there is Beatrice. Leo's love. She has no idea he exists. They share classes together. He sees her everywhere, but he is simply a wallflower. He sees her as his wife. Head over heals in love is what Leo is. I think we can all relate to this. To him she is far above his level, but he continues to try to gain her attention. Only Silvia knows of this great love and together as friends, she joins him in trying to get them to meet. After all, Silvia knows Beatrice. All Leo wants to do is devote his life to this red haired beauty. It's as if he believes if they can be together all of life will make sense and life will finally be happy. 

Beatrice gets sick. Leukemia. She is in and out of the hospital. What I love? Leo gives blood for his fair beauty. She has no idea. He has an accident and ends up in the same hospital. It is here we see him ache over what he fears will happen to Beatrice before he can ever share with her that he loves her. 

Leo has an up and down relationship with his parents. Another portrait on the life of a teenager. So many things in this novel made such clear sense to me. There are times in our lives when in just a few short months it seems we have grown to understand much about life. This is what happens with Leo. 

All during this story there is one character who stands out to me. He is the substitute teacher. The one that Leo calls the Dreamer. He is that teacher every child deserves. He's that teacher who reaches out and goes far beyond what is expected. He and Leo form a bond and it is this Dreamer who helps Leo come to understand. I love this relationship. 

Another aspect that I enjoyed was the relationship with Leo and Silvia. They come to understand what love is and what love is not. They grow. We see through their lives what teenagers live. It's what we all forget as we grow in age. Every day is a rollercoaster of emotion as they are simply trying to figure out who they are in this world and what their purpose is. 

In the end Beatrice and Leo have their time together. Although is a short time spent for Leo it is a lifetime lesson. 

"Love doesn't exist to make us happy but to show us how strong our capacity to bear pain is." Words from the Dreamer.

"The pain forces me to close my eyelids, to hide my eyes. I always thought that I would devour the world with my eyes, that like bees they would rest on things and distill their beauty. But my illness is forcing me to close my eyes: because of the pain, because of the exhaustion. Only little by little did I realize that with my eyes closed I could see more, that from beneath my closed eyelids I could see all the beauty of the world, and that beauty is you, God. If only you are making me close my eyes it is so that I pay more attention when I reopen them." Words from Beatrice's journal.

"Love is this too: making room for each other when there isn't enough." Words from Leo.

This was an afternoon read for me. Would I chose it again? I must be honest and say that I wouldn't. But there were parts of this novel that sparked something in my heart. Even closing the last page the thought of simply living each moment. Not allowing fear to keep me from sharing. To share my love with others. To not expect from others what I myself am not willing to give. 

You may pick up this book and see God all through it. I was able to see young people struggling with a God they didn't understand. Why would such things happen if there was a God? Those questions were not just left unanswered. The Dreamer and Beatrice shared. It was a sweet romantic teenager read. Death is scary. Pain is deep. These young people are trying to find themselves in a world that swallows up the weak. 

It was mostly the writing style that I struggled with in this novel. For me if it is considered a faith-based read, I want to see that. Not read it between the lines, but experience God moving in the pages. Yes, to an extent I was able to witness Him moving. But much was missing. Maybe in the translation something was lost. 

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This book was a gift from Thomas Nelson for sharing my review with you.

Alessandro D'Avenia teaches ancient Greek, Latin, and Italian literature at a high school in Milan and is a regular contributor to the newspaper Corriere della Sera, writing on the subjects of literature and education. White as Silence, Red as Song, his first novel, was published in Italy in 2010 as Bianca come il latte, rossa come il sangue. It sold over a million copies in Italy, has been translated into over twenty languages, and was released as a film in 2013. Alessandro has since published four more books, the latest of which, Every Story Is a Love Story, was published in October 2017.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Crack Yourself Up Jokes for Kids by Sandy Silverthorne


Perfect for giggles of all ages! Young and old alike will enjoy these jokes. My grandchildren who are six and seven love knock knock jokes. We have quite a few and this one is a super addition to our joke telling fun. 

Some of these are jokes I heard as a child. Some I have heard my father-in-law share. There's something about a book like this. It's good, clean fun! 

Not only do I enjoy hearing my grand giggle, but there's more. It gives them room to use their imagination. They read a joke and then think of a joke on their own. It also makes them think. Mostly it gives us giggle time together. I love hearing them say, "Hey, Papa, knock knock!"

There's a little fun here for everyone. 

Q. What did the ocean say to the shore?
A. Nothing. It just waved.

Q. What did the janitor say when he jumped out of the closet?
A. SUPPLIES!

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Rita.
Rita who?
Rita book, and stop watching TV!

Q. How do astronauts keep in touch with each other?
A. Spacebook.

Knock, Knock.
Who's there?
Wooden shoe.
Wooden shoe who?
Wooden shoe like to know.

Kids will enjoy sharing with one another. You will enjoy listening to them over and over again! 

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This book was a gift from Revell for sharing my review with you. 


Sandy Silverthorne is an award-winning author/illustrator with more than half a million copies in print. His award-winning Great Bible Adventure children's series has been distributed in eight languages worldwide. Sandy has worked as a cartoonist, author, illustrator, actor, pastor, speaker, and comedian. Apparently it's hard for him to focus.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Night Night Sleepytown penned by Amy Parker illustrated by Virginia Allyn

I am just absolutely loving these books penned by Amy Parker. I have adored each one that I have reviewed. It's not only me who is fond of them, but my grands. Grands of all ages. This one will go to my granddaughter who will this month celebrate her second birthday.

They are perfect for little hands that can sometimes tear pages. These are sturdy pages with the cover padded. They are bright and colorful. Friendly and inviting. Perfect for heading to bed for a night read or just any time when you want to cuddle and enjoy. 

Here we meet an array of characters who help keep the town going. We have the Mayor, the Farmer, the Safety Officer, the Teacher, the Postman, the firefighter, the Doctor, and the Builders. As the story comes to a close we show the Pastor waving to the children. 

We are introduced to each job and a sweet thankful share. This is a wonderful way to teach thankfulness to our children. Also to introduce them to different jobs, each important and of value, giving little ones room for their imaginations to grow. 

I would happily purchase this book and gift it to a child. If you are looking for grand selections to fill your children's shelves this is a great find. 

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This children's book was a gift from Thomas Nelson for sharing my review with you.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Auschwitz Lullaby by Mario Escobar translated by Gretchen Abernathy

Powerful, emotional, haunting, chilling, yet filled with such beauty. This is not a grab your favorite drink and sit underneath your shadiest tree kind of read. It is not that afternoon pick me up read. This read left me breathless. It moved me to tears. There were quite a few times I closed the page to just absorb what I had read. To go back to the story was difficult. 

What kept me reading? Wanting to know the story of Helene Hannemann, her husband, and five children. I didn't want to stop until I had read the last page about this brave, selfless, and beautiful woman. She is filled with such grace. Walks with a mighty mercy for others. 

This novel is based on the true story of Helene Hannemann. We go back to 1943 in Berlin, Germany. This precious wife and mother is married to a Romani, a Gypsy. She with her blond hair and blue eyes, her family with their dark hair and chocolate eyes. To those SS this combination is unsettling. They thought they were safe in Berlin, but it wasn't to be. 

She a nurse, her husband a violinist. They lived a quiet life. Until the morning when the SS men bombarded the staircase to their apartment. They just wanted her husband and children. She was safe. But like any mother she was not to leave her children. This was the beginning of their journey to Auschwitz. 

We journey with Helene and others who are encamped with her. We follow the chilling days and dark nights for these thousands of families. These pages are filled with the evil practices of Dr. Mengele and others like him. Such secrets. These doctors held such power. But what I admire, what touches me the most, is the grace that Helene and those like her carried daily. They chose to walk in faith, to believe, to have hope. It is this Spirit inside of them that made them more powerful than any evil they faced.

Based on a true story, this is a work of fiction. A story beautifully shared. One that goes beyond simply touching the heart, but allows a raw emotion to fill the depths of the soul. This is an unforgettable story about the strength and bravery of Helene Hannemann. We read about her journey from her apartment to the days journey in this camp that held death and fear, doctors doing experiments on children, hunger and pain, until the last day when the chambers would fill once again. 

For me it would be impossible to read this story and not be changed. May we never forget. May each day we live with the same grace and hope that transcends all fear and doubt into an illuminating life that points to One far greater.

If there was something I could have changed or added it would be the lullaby. Let me explain. Helene sings this beautiful lullaby to calm the children. The lullaby is shared early in the novel, but it isn't translated. I would so love to read the words of this lullaby. Since the title of the book is, Auschwitz Lullaby, it would have been an extra blessing to have the words translated as the rest of the novel. 

This novel was a gift from Thomas Nelson for sharing my review with you. 

Mario Escobar, with a licentiate's degree in history and an advanced studies diploma in modern history, has written numerous books and articles about the Inquisition, the Catholic Church, the age of the Protestant Reformation, and religious sects. Passionate about history and its mysteries, he has plumbed the depths of church history, the different sectarian groups that have struggled therein, and the discovery and colonization of the Americas. www.marioescobar.com.


Wednesday, July 25, 2018

A Daring Venture by Elizabeth Camden

Elizabeth Camden is an outstanding writer. I have enjoyed other books penned by her so when this was for review I had to grab it up. Although this is book 2, not having read the first, for me it could easily be a stand-alone read. 

The cover is fantastic! Just beautiful. The historical subject was fascinating. I had no idea about the groundbreaking technology in waterworks. When reading this novel one can easily see the immense research the author dedicated herself to in bringing us this wonderfully written story. 

A young, educated, and strong woman is our main character. Rosalind is a great example of a woman who is sure of herself and living a determined life with a hope to make a difference in the world around her. I enjoyed her excitement and fearlessness in going forward with this new project. 

She works closely with Nicholas Drake. We follow these characters as they form a close relationship. I'm not so sure I enjoyed his character. This character walks with a temper that erupts within a second. These two characters often collided and Nick was always very quick to apologize. Rosalind is quick to forgive. This was something that caught my attention. Something I have always warned my daughters against. His character was disrespectful and arrogant. It would have been different for me if I was able to see his character grow and mature. 

The story easily flowed. The writing is excellent. So, what is missing? Faith. For me that is huge. When I choose to dedicate my time to reading a Christian fiction novel it is expected to have that faith aspect and this novel was missing what I had hoped for the most. If there was faith, redemption, grace, more here to see in these characters the aspects I seen in Nicholas could have been different if there was a hope in change for him. 

Historically this was outstanding. Love seeing a strong and intelligent woman as a main character. I was just left wanting more. 

This novel was a gift from Bethany House for sharing my review you. 

Elizabeth Camden is author of elven historical novels and two historical novellas and has been honored with both the RITA Award and the Christy Award. With a master's in history and a master's in library science, she is a research librarian by day and scribbles away on her next novel by night. She lives with her husband in Florida. Learn more at www.elizabethcamden.com.

Sons of Blackbird Mountain by Joanne Bischof

This being my first novel to read by author Joanne Bischof I am anticipating my next choice penned by her hand. I really enjoyed this novel. 

I love when a cover captures my eye and grabs my attention. This cover is extraordinarily beautiful. The title was next to make me ponder. LOVE! 

I was intrigued by the storyline. The opening of this novel brought to mind the opening of the musical, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Our main character has traveled a long distance into a new land, the Appalachian Mountain area. She was expecting one thing and was surprised to find she had been deceived a bit. I ponder if she would have known the truth would she have traveled to this new and unknown place. 


I loved being introduced to the world around a deaf mute. Joanne did a wonderful job in giving the reader the detail and emotion to know this character on a deeper level as we were invited into his world of silence. This character really stands out for me. 

This family has made their living brewing hard cider. They own a great deal of land. This is another time and place, but so much of what they endure we too are able to relate to. What makes this novel even more intriguing for me is that the man lives in a silent world is also an alcoholic. A subject that this author brings to life with grace.

The main character being surrounded by men, all hoping for a bride, with much work before her doesn't run away. She remains steadfast. I loved her spirit and heart. She lives with a mighty hope and faith. It is this gentle and unwavering faith that brings these people to living with a new hope, something that had been missing. 

This novel came together beautifully. Well written with heart and emotion. My take away is the blessed gift of redemption. It is here we see the unending love of God. We see Him move within these characters. This is aspect I always enjoy with Christian fiction. 

This was a sweet gem of a read. 

This novel was a gift from Thomas Nelson for sharing my review with you. 

Joanne Bischof is an ACFW Carol Award and ECPA Christy Award-winning author. She writes deeply layered fiction that tugs at the heartstrings. She was honored to receive the San Diego Christian Writers Guild Novel of the Year Award in 2014 and in 2015 was named Author of the Year by Mount Hermon conference. Joanne's 2016 novel, The Lady and the Lionheart, received an extraordinary 5 star TOP PICK! from RT Book Reviews, among other critical acclaim. She lives in the mountains of Southern California with her three children. JoanneBischof.com.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

When Through Deep Waters by Rachelle Dekker

Right off the bat this was moving. That first chapter grabbed my heart and I was ready for the journey ahead. Although I wasn't sure I was going to like the journey. I mean this first chapter, so very short, grabbed at the depths of my mama heart. I was forcing myself to slow down my reading. 

Here we are four months after tragedy. The main character is having a difficult time coping with this new life. A life she never imagined, but is now forced to live. I am in for the journey. Because I have to see what happens. She must find healing. Even I know she can't remain where she is. 

Friendship found here in these pages is powerful. It is a testimony to how we should treat those we call friends. Here we find a friend willing to reach out beyond the fun of yesterday and walk the valley of brokeness with her childhood friend. They haven't seen one another for years, but yet they pick up right where they left off. That love that reaches far beyond any boundary. 

I couldn't read fast fast enough. Each time I placed down my book I was pondering what I had just read. Rachelle Dekker is gifted. Her heart, her Jesus is living within these pages. She goes beyond the normal and expected, taking the reader on a heart journey. One that urged me to dive deeper, to live more fierce, to walk with a determination to feel and to not shut out a faith that is wanting more than anything to live through me. 

Oh, if we could all just allow the Spirit to move in us, not shutting Him out. Too often we shut Him out and allow the world and all it holds to take over our every thought which forces us to focus on fear and doubt. That isn't what He wants for us. He wants us to experience ALL of Him. Right here in these pages Rachelle challenges us to let go and let God. Yes, that has become a catch phrase, but I mean in it the most powerful sense. 

This novel was vivid and poignant. Good and evil warring against one another. Truth and deception at battle. The spiritual warfare is real is happening daily around us and within us. The world tries to force untruth at believers.  The world tries with all its might to shake us to the core. Satan is at every turn filling us with lies. As believers we can stand firm in our faith or fall victim to the tragedy that tries so hard to steal us from living life to its full abundance. 

Yes, I can hear some now. "How is this even possible?" For me, the story told a far greater truth. We can close ourselves down or choose to see. This is the battle of the main character. She has a mother who is demeaning and grueling in her narcissist behavior. We travel with the main character as her eyes are open to truth, as she allows the Spirit to move in her. She remembers her grandmother. Her words that have never left her. It is all coming back amid all that is trying to keep the truth at bay. The enemy is circling and wants Alicen to commit to him, to give in, to leave this world knowing she is unworthy. But there surrounding her is hope. Spirits who have come to entertain her, to bring her to remember who she is and how big His grace is. 

A psychological thriller, outside the realm of what we consider normal and sane. But letting go is where He is found. Focusing on believing, not necessarily seeing, but trusting Him with all we don't understand and knowing if we dive in He is going to catch us. 

There is so much I want to share about this novel, but then the reader wouldn't experience this novel for themselves. This is a masterpiece of good verses evil. A place where the heart and mind collide. An area where the world around us wants nothing to do with believers. No matter the battle, He has equipped us with everything we need. We simply have to believe.

Oh, this is definitely a five star novel!!🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

This novel was a gift from Tyndale for sharing my review with you. 

Rachelle Dekker the oldest daughter of New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker, Rachelle Dekker was inspired early on to discover truth through storytelling. She lives in Nashville with her husband, Daniel, and their diva cat, Blair. Visit her online at www.rachelledekker.com.

River to Redemption by Ann H. Gabhart

Anytime there is a book for review that is penned by Ann H. Gabhart I grab it up quickly. I am an avid fan of Gabhart's writing. I have so enjoyed every book penned by her hand. She writes in such a way that sets her apart from others. She has the gift to put words together that brings a story to life. She takes the black and white, weaving together love and faith into the hearts of unforgettable characters. 

What characters this book contains! This book held such emotion for me. My heart seems to connect to every character. Such a pureness and a a rare beauty that Gabhart has brought us. As much as I have loved her other novels, this just may be at the top of the fave list.

We travel back to the year of 1833. Springfield, Kentucky. Ann is giving us such rich and vivid details. Historical fiction with truth, love and freedom, faith and chains. The cholera epidemic is swirling and growing. One man stands out, a slave by the name of Louis. I tell you that his character touched me in a powerful way. I want to live with such beauty and character. He lived every moment with his eyes fixed on Jesus. With death surrounding him, his heart was pure and filled with such mercy. He did for all what most would never think about doing for him. He thought past himself and his own circumstances. He made the choice to see beauty in all around him.

Aunt Tilda also stands out for me. Another slave. Another beauty that chose to reach out beyond herself, touch the world around her with such grace, leaving a legacy of Jesus. Oh, the love in her heart is a love we should all strive to live.

Adria Starr is the main character. Oh, this little girl brought me to tears. My arms wanted to reach out and hug her. This is writing!! When a novel allows you to feel such deep emotion it brings it to a whole new level. We journey with Adria and with others in a world that seems so long ago, but one we can relate to. We have our own sets of circumstance and trial, but from these characters we can see a "No matter what" type of faith. They walked through the valley and came out the other side with grace and mercy.

Let us not forget Ruth and the new Pastor. Both characters are so gentle. They are finding their way through tragedy and finding a place where life can not only continue, but flourish beyond what they can imagine.

I suppose what I loved the most was the portrayal of people with such generous hearts! Maybe that is what I see in them. As big as their circumstances before them, their grace given, was always bigger!

If you are looking for not only a great novel, but one that will move your heart and challenge you, look no further. Ann has brought us a novel that is moving and powerful, yet so sweet and tender. Yep, that's a Gabhart novel!

Of course I give Ann's masterpiece a glowing five star review!🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

This novel was a gift from Revell for sharing my review with you. 

Ann H.Gabhart is the bestselling and award-winning author of many novels, including These Healing Hills, Angel Sister, and The Heart of Hollyhill series. She is also the author of the popular Hidden Springs Mysteries series as A.H. gabhart. Ann and her husband enjoy country life on a farm a mile from where she was born in rural Kentucky. Learn more at www.annhgabhart.com.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Justice Betrayed by Patricia Bradley

This was a pleasant surprise for me. I hadn't realised I had asked to review this selection. Patricia Bradley is a new author for me. I seen the description of the book is surrounding Elvis week in Memphis. I have to be honest and share that I kinda questioned if I was going to enjoy a book surrounding Elvis Week. But let me tell you I really enjoyed this novel. This could easily be a movie of the week or a big screen picture! This is so much more than Elvis Week. 

Murder, intrigue, and connecting all that's happening made this a fantastic read. Plus, the relationship between Rachel Sloan and Boone Callahan. Opening the pages and reading the Prologue is what captivated me. This opening was enough to keep me turning pages. I had to find out more. This is what I loved about this Bradley novel. She does an outstanding job at keeping the reader captivated. 

I love when writers give us strong characters we can admire. Characters with depth that we can relate to. This wasn't a novel you open, read the first few pages, and there you have it all figured out. This story unfolded in perfect timing and held my attention until the last page.

This is book three in the series. I always hate coming in late to a series, but if you haven't read the first books I can tell you that I completely enjoyed this novel as a stand alone. The author perfectly brings out personality and emotion in the characters. I didn't feel lost at any time and didn't feel like I was trying to catch up or understand where the story was now picking up. This is the making of a great storyteller. 

This novel was a gift from Revell for sharing my review with you. 

Patricia Bradley is the award-winning author of Justice Delayed and Justice Buried, as well as the Logan Point series. She is cofounder of Aiming for Healthy Families, Inc., and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. She lives in Mississippi. Learn more at www.ptbradley.com.

A Rebel Heart by Beth White


This was my first read penned by Beth White. I can share with you that it will not be my last. I cannot wait to see what happens next at the Daughtry House. I was captivated from the opening of the first page to the last turning. This is creative storytelling. 

The cover caught my eye. It is a gorgeous cover and very telling of the character, Selah Daughtry. Oh, this girl and her rebel heart. I loved getting to know her. The author does a fantastic job with details and allowing the reader to really see the heart of each character. I might add that these are characters we can relate to. Yes, it is another time and place, a past history that is full of emotion, but these characters are relevant to us today.

Levi Riggins. Who wouldn't want to be saved from a train wreck by this fella. His character stole my heart as well. Strong and confident, yet full of grace and tenderness. He comes into the story with a bit of a secret. That is a part of the intrigue of this novel. The author weaves together a story that perfectly unfolds and keeps the reader wanting to turn pages. 

Forgiveness, redemption, love, grace, friendship, and family are just a few of the themes the reader will uncover in this novel. One might believe in coincidence, but here within these pages we see the plan of God unfold for these characters. 

We see what happens when circumstance throws our life as we know it for a curve. Selah has built a wall around her, a boundary of protection. She is fierce and protective. Her heart is open to helping others. She is a strong character I admire. I enjoyed seeing her softer side, where she is more vulnerable. 

I admire an author who researches and shares truths in their storytelling. You will find that here too. This story will continue with book 2 in which I am in anticipation to start turning pages once again. This was a five star read for me. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

This novel was a gift from Revell for sharing my review with you. 


Beth White's day job is teaching music at an inner-city high school in historic Mobile, Alabama. A native Mississippian, she writes historical romance with a Southern drawl and is the author of The Pelican Bride, The Creole Princess, and The Magnolia Duchess. Her novels have won the American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award, the RT Book Club Reviewers' Choice Award, and the Inspirational Reader's Choice Award. Learn more at www.bethwhite.net

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Where Hope Begins by Catherine West

If you have yet to read a Catherine West novel I suggest you begin right here with this one. She writes hope from heartfilled raw and transparent words. I love how she weaves a story out of the ugly, the unforgivable, and mess that is very real in life, and brings forth redeemable grace. 

She doesn't stop there. She doesn't just bring a life story, something that is real and painful. She brings hope, faith, and everything Jesus. That is what makes a Christian faith novel stand out. 

One of my favorite things about this story is that the lead character, Savannah, feels a great sadness that her life is falling apart. She is fearful, angry, and wounded, at the circumstances that were forced upon her. She knows loss, that deep agony that only another parent who has lost a child can understand. She already carries guilt. She feels shame by "church members" who instead of lift her up, tear her down with their, "This is what you should do pious attitudes." 

See, Savannah is looking for solace. She wants everything to be as it once was for her family. There is no more normal. In her search to save herself she in turn saves another. This is the miracle that only God can do! She sees the circumstances of another family in need and instead of focusing on herself she gets busy focusing on God. Through this He opens a door for her to witness something magical that could not have been possible if not for her trial to bring her to where God was calling. 

Something else that I really love is that Savannah realizes somewhere in her marriage she stopped praying for her husband. It wasn't until this circumstance, this new trial that separates her marriage does she understand that she needs to be praying for him. Yes, through her anger and wounded soul, she forgives, she makes room for God through prayer. 

But just when Savannah thinks one trial is passing, another is thrown at her. West does an outstanding job at showing the reader that it doesn't matter the circumstance, God is bigger. No matter how ugly the mess, God creates beauty. We see that there is no perfect Christian. There is no perfect life. But through our imperfections God shines bright!

This novel holds within it many circumstances. Separation, divorce, death, loss, cancer, suicide, and so much more. This is life for us. This is real for us. But for us believers we have something the world is missing. Jesus! He is where our hope begins. 

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 

Yes, I loved this novel and cannot wait to see what's next for this author. If you're searching for a new read for your shelf grab up this gem of a story. Where there is hope there is healing.

This novel was a gift from Thomas Nelson for sharing my review with you. 

Catherine West writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. When she's not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border collie for long walks on the beach or tending to her roses and orchids. She and her husband have two grown children. Visit her online at catherinejwest.com.

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