Thursday, October 19, 2017

In the Middle of the Mess (Strength For This Beautiful, Broken Life) by Sheila Walsh

I first heard Sheila Walsh speak at Women of Faith. I loved her then in all those moments she spoke transparent love. I was blessed to see her many times, hearing her stories as she shared her love of Jesus. I too have been blessed to review most of her penned works, created to bring us closer to the Savior. Are you ready? This just may be my favorite. Just maybe it arrived in God's perfected time and it is just what He ordered. You gotta love a God who brings to us just what is needed for the journey forward. 

I would say to get yourself over to Amazon and pre-order this gem of a read. Reading this cover to cover I already have a friend in mind who I'll be sending it to. This is a book for every woman at every age. Sheila writes so transparent, so easy. I would even say that there isn't a man out there who shouldn't read it too. After all we are all a mess, right? 

Sheila shares about her own deep wounds. She shares personal. She's that girlfriend that goes deep. The encouraging friend we all need. The woman that inspires us because we see Jesus in her life, through the beauty and mess. Sheila shares life for her in the death of her father and later in life when her mum leaves this world for the other side of heaven. 

In 1992 Sheila was in a psychiatric hospital for two weeks. Her words hit home with me. "Sorrow was not to be shared; it was private. So I learned to cry alone." Let me share a few more words from Sheila that point blank bring truth to so many of us. 

"I have always needed a community around me-we all do-but it was the thing I was most afraid of. It's why I hid, even when surrounded by community. It's why I guarded that secret cellar. I wondered: What if I let you see the real me? What if I let you into my innermost thoughts and feelings and you too a long, hard look? Would you see scared, broken little girl? Would you see someone who didn't have it all together, who didn't know how to trust the Jesus she loved to preach? Would you turn and walk away? What would I do then? What would I do without my hiding place? You would think that within Christian community-specifically within the church-I could have confessed my shame, my panic, my fear. But I knew that sometimes our Christian community is the crucible where shame is born. Many of you also know this sad truth. Too often, sharing secrets and shame in the church begets more shame, which leads to more secret-keeping. That is tragic. We survive, cut off from the very help and healing we need." 

I could continue sharing. This book is powerful, redemptive, grace-filled. There isn't any hiding here, but a place where it's safe to be us. I found myself within these pages. There's healing to be found here too. I would love to wrap my arms around Sheila and say, thank you. Even through reading I can hear her accent which brings her to be so genuine in a time and place where fake resides, but not here in this book. 

I'll leave you with a few quotes that I found to be poignant.

"We all have struggles, though they look different-booze, anger, bitterness, pills, disconnection from our children or spouse, drugs, discontent with our career, conflict with our boss or neighbor, porn, homosexuality, depression, physical illness-it's all the stuff of present brokenness. And though we, the church, have little grace for certain struggles, that is why Jesus came. He came to save us for eternity, yes, but He also came to save us today."

"My child, do you believe that I love you?" That was the most important question of all, the one that's redefined me. It has never been about me getting it right. You either. We've got it all upside down. We see from the earth up, but God sees from heaven down. We see ourselves from the perspective of the mud we're sitting in, but God sees us through the blood of Christ that washes us clean, in the present, in the middle of our messes. And in His love, He wants to save us-in the present. He wants to give us strength for our broken, beautiful lives."  

Sheila reminds us that we are fully known and fully loved. She allows us to journey with her through some of the most difficult times in life, but what I love the most is she gives way for us to see that Jesus was there the whole time, past, present, and future. She not only shares the mess, but through it all she shares the Jesus, the Friend, pointing us straight to Him, never wavering side to side. This book is about her journey, but pulls back the curtain for us to see the glory of God at work in her life. Yes, the light is always on Him even when she is on stage. 

This is a book that blessed me and I cannot wait to gift it to a friend so they too can reap the in the blessings. 💙

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

Sheila Walsh is a powerful communicator, Bible teacher, and bestselling author with more than five million books sold. She is the author of the award-winning Gigi, God's Little Princess series, Peace for Today, Loved Back to Life, The Storm Inside, Five Minutes with Jesus and The Longing in Me. She is cohost of Life Today with James and Betty Robison. Sheila lives in Dallas, Texas, with her husband, Barry, and son, Christian. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

50 Hours by Loree Lough

When I knew Loree was releasing this new gem, the story behind it, I knew it was one I had to read. First, I love this lady. Her penned creations are more than words placed together. She brings a story together like no other author I've had the privilege of reading. She writes heart, soul, and reality. She knows how to not only touch the heart, but as that last page has turned the reader comes to ponder a change of the heart. 

She gives detail that intrigues and brings to life characters in which we immediately connect. She writes transparent stories with emotion that stirs the soul. With her novels, just as this one, I'm so excited to open the first page, but when the last closes I am left wishing I would have read a bit slower. They're those kind of novels you just don't want to end. I suppose reading her novels, especially this one is an experience. A journey for the reader, sometimes to travel to another time and place, but with this novel, it's a place we would rather not enter. But leave it to Loree to bring peace where fear is real, beauty where ugly is a tragic reality. She allows the reader to journey through an experience that brings grace, humility, and mercy. I was left with a hope that 'if that was me' I hope I do it that way. 

This is a bit of a different kind of love story. Love covers these pages, but it is a friendship that goes beyond what Hollywood would give. It's love of friendship. The unconditional kind. The kind that our Savior gives. 

Here in this novel Loree writes so gentle and pure. There is a beauty within these pages like no other novel she has yet to pen. The conversations between the characters are transparent in such a way we can only imagine if it were us there in the circumstance of fifty hours. Each of the characters have traits where the reader can easily find themselves. To remember we all have a story, to live in such a way that we are not just taking from this world, but leaving a legacy, yeah, that's what Loree portrays here in these words come to life. 

We meet a handful of characters. All facing life altering circumstances. Some are brought about by choice. Like the character, Franco Allessi. He starts out being somewhat hard. His choices have brought him in front of a judge who has to make the decision to bring Franco to a place where he can see that there is so much more to life than the sadness he has been living. He must do fifty hours of community service. 

Aubrey Brewer, oh, she is a woman of beauty and grace. She has known how to live. How to enjoy life to the fullest. But now everything has changed for her. How will she live out the ending? Yeah, that's the beauty of this masterpiece of black and white. We see how to live, how to appreciate, and how to place others before ourselves, all when we know our time is not the years we dreamed it would be. 

There is a young fella who is rooming next door to Aubrey. He's a smart-mouth, feeling pretty angry, and is about to explode with emotion he isn't sure as how to release. He doesn't want to be treated a baby, but I think to crawl up close to his parents is exactly what he would love. He and Aubrey have a special kind of relationship and through their time together we get a glimpse of what beauty looks like when we decide to let go and simply live out the moment of right now. 

So, fifty hours. For one it is a judgement of service. Franco starts out counting down the hours he has left. By the end of his time he's wishing for more. Aubrey knows she doesn't have much time left, but she has made the decision to live it, to push the boundaries and experience something that could have never come about in any other way. 

All of these characters are brought to life in a special way. It was a treasure getting to know them. Although I loved all the characters in this novel there is one who surprised me. Aubrey's mother. Oh, she's hard woman. One that everyone would rather avoid. Beyond that rough exterior, is a mother who is fearing saying goodbye to her only daughter. She's trying to figure out how to do it all and all she wants to do is protect her precious girl. I love how their relationship grew and toward the end of the novel her mother was gifted to see her daughter in an unexpected way. 

So, yes, this is anther gem penned by one of the great storytellers. Loree never ceases to bless my heart, but this one was something really special. It just may be my favorite so far. I cannot wait to see what this beautiful lady pens next. 💜

This novel is published by Rising Phoenix Press.

Loree Lough best-seslling author Loree Lough once sang for her supper, performing across the US and Canada. Now and then she blows the dust off her six-string to croon a tune or two, but mostly she writes novels that have earned hundreds of industry and "Readers' Choice" awards, four-and five-star reviews, and five book-to-movie options. At last count, Loree had 115 award-winning books on the shelves (nearly 7,000,000 copies in print). 

Loree enjoyes sharing learned-the-hard-way lessons about the craft and the industry, and her comedic how-to approach makes her a favorite speaker at writers' organizations, book clubs, private and government institutions, and college and high school writing programs in the US and abroad. She and her husband live near Baltimore and spend as much time as possible at their cabin in the Allegheny Mountains, where Loree continues to hone her "identify the critter tracks" skills. 

A writer who believes in giving back, Loree dedicates a generous portion of her income to favorite charities. (See "Giving Back" at An active participant on most social media sites, Loree loves hearing from her readers, and answers every letter personally. Be sure to stop by and say hello on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Space Between Words by Michele Phoenix

I usually don't share so much of the story to where it spoils it for a reader. But here in this review it's hard to share without doing so. If you're eager to read this novel just skip my review. You may pick up this novel and love it. I wouldn't want to spoil a novel for one so anticipating it's reading. 

What caught my attention for this novel was the cover. The pondering of the space between words. You know those words not spoken, often held inside, and sometimes acted out. I thought the idea of treasure finding was exciting. After all I love antiquing and pondering the story behind the objects I'm holding. I too was excited to see this backstory of the Huguenots and the mystery of an ancient document and how it related to the main character.

This was one of those reads I didn't mind setting down. The problem was I didn't really want to go back and pick it up. I finally made my way through this novel. I did find places where my attention was growing, but those ended up empty. I really wanted to love this novel. It just wasn't there for me. 

Our main character is in Paris with two friends, roommates. Jennifer, the main character, has known Patrick for about four years. They are close friends, not romantic, but seem to have a special kind of bond. Vonda is the friend who is much younger and isn't afraid to speak her mind. At first her character is strength and she has an attraction to see the city and experience all that it has. 

Tragedy happens. Paris is attacked. Jennifer is shot. Wounded and trying to make it to safety. Vonda gets to safety, but much happens before she is able to find a secure place. Patrick was to stay behind with other plans while the girls attended a concert. 

Now, before Jennifer had left for Paris she lived with her parents on and off for many years. She left the last time wanting to make it on her own so she didn't have to fall back on their dependence. Finding two roommates excited her.

Next in the story Jennifer is awaken in the hospital. She finds Patrick at her side. The story leads on with conversations between the two. Where is Vonda? She comes to the hospital days later giving Jennifer clothes and toiletries. She's had enough. She's going home. But Patrick remains. 

Through all this she finally gets a hold of her parents to let them know she's okay. She's been shot, but she's okay and will be leaving the hospital in a few days. They are so wanting to come help. I can imagine how they are feeling, but Jennifer has a strange attitude toward them and that I found really odd. They of course are worried sick. They want to come and get her. She refuses their help. She says that Patrick if with her and will take care of her. 

She leaves the hospital and finds herself in Patrick's apartment. He isn't home, but soon arrives. They have conversations. He's begging her to stay. She wants to return home. He convinces her to stay with him. They decide to travel the country and find a B&B. These people who own the B&B are super kind and carrying. 

So, come to find out, yes, she has been in shock, and has had little money. How did she travel all this way? She isn't with Patrick at all. She is traveling alone. So many questions. But through the help of this couple they are going to help her search for this document and translate it. 

Are you ready? Patrick is dead. He was killed at the concert. He had changed his plans and was coming to attend. Jennifer has been suffering from PTSD and her brain has refused to see reality. Remember that Vonda was shy of being at the hospital and then didn't want to remain in Paris? Well, before Vonda could make it to safety she found Patrick. This strong and resilient girl is suffering too, but she sees reality. She wants to escape this place that brought such devastation

With all that said. I simply didn't feel the emotion of Jennifer's pain. As the story concludes I have no idea if she came to faith, knowing Christ as her Savior. This novel had great potential. But something was lost for me. Something missing. 

I am so sorry to give so much of the story away. Once Jennifer realizes that Patrick is gone she gathers the strength to carry on her mission of seeking the meaning of this document. She learns that the Huguenots carried great faith, but in that faith they had many choices to make that would be life or death. If they chose to say they loved Jesus they would be killed. If they chose to denounce their faith they could live. Many chose to denounce. I did enjoy how the document showed they battled flesh and faith, as they faced horrific times of injustice. 

Jennifer and those now helping her uncovered all of this information so very quickly. This is something I would expect to take quite a long time. Research for such things isn't uncovered so easily.

And then there's getting in Patrick's car, going to the apartment, gathering items, and traveling far from Paris, finding a B&B, doing so much, but not being in reality at all. That is just, well, a lot to believe that at some point she didn't have a break through and see some piece of reality. 

It seems I read so much of the story believing that Patrick was with her and was going to take care of her and then I find out he has died in the attack. I don't know. There was a lot of space for me that needed more details, more story, more Vonda. She was an interesting character that left the story quite early, until she and Jennifer finally speak again where she shares the depth of her anguish and why she wanted to return home so quickly. 

It just wasn't my kind of an afternoon unputdownable. It is my hope that you pick up this novel and find it amazing. Maybe I can come back and read it later at another time and will find it complete and be able to walk away with a blessing of some sort.  Maybe then I'll be able to change my review and share just why I loved it. 

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

Michele Phoenix Born in France to a Canadian father and an American mother, Michele Phoenix is a consultant, writer, and speaker with a heart for Third Culture Kids. She taught for twenty years at Black Forest Academy (Germany) before launching her own advocacy venture under Global Outreach Mission. Michele travels globally to consult and teach on topics related to this unique people group. She loves good conversations, mischievous students, Marvel movies, and paths to healing. 

Friday, September 29, 2017

Bringing Maggie Home by Kim Vogel Sawyer

One of the best reads I have held in my hands. The cover of this gem is very telling. Just beautiful. The description, although accurate, gives enough detail to intrigue a reader to open the pages, but not enough to give away the sheer beauty penned in these pages. 

If I had to sum up this novel with one word it would be hope. Oh, there's redemption, faith, family, friendship, love, and trial. 

We have three generations. All three with stories of their own. They come together for a surprise visit, although it seems it isn't a coincidence, but a master design by God. 

I didn't want to put this book down and in reading the last chapter I found myself wishing there was a book two for us to journey even more with these characters. The books centers around Hazel and the tragedy that seemed to stop life so many years ago. She has held a secret that even her daughter and granddaughter don't know. Now up in years she must face choices that have a lasting effect on not only her, but her family. 

I loved all the characters in this novel. Especially the daughter, Diane, and the granddaughter, Meghan. We see the relationship issues between all of these women. What I love about Sawyer is she gives us a transparent look into their hearts. We see what has taken place in the past and why they have held the emotions they have carried for years. Anger, blame, and frustration. 

It's easy to find yourself with in these pages. Oh, to have a grandmother such as Hazel, would be a gift. Love covers all and with God all things are possible. This is what I walk away with from reading this novel. To let the anger go and most of all to communicate with one another before it's too late and there isn't another opportunity given to share the heart. 

These ladies come together in so many ways, but once they make a decision to seek the story of the past healing comes and a whole new blessing arises from the faith they carry. 

This is one I loved. Happy reading. Enjoy!😊

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

Kim Vogel Sawyer is highly acclaimed, best-selling author with more than one million books in print, in several different languages. Her titles have earned numerous accolades, including the ACFW Carol Award, the Inspirational Readers Choice Award, and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. Kim lives with her retired military husband, Don, in central Kansas, where she continues to write gentle stories of hope and redemption. She enjoys spending time with her three daughters and grandchildren.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Day the Angels Fell by Shawn Smucker

This may be the strangest review I have ever written. In reading the reviews for this one you will find a whole lotta people who loved it. There's a great message here about life, death, evil and good. This novel takes the tree of life and in black and white leads the reader into a journey of a young boy, Sam, whose mother dies in a tragic accident. He doesn't want to say goodbye. Doesn't want to live without her. We see his pain as he now must live without the love of his mother.

As the novel begins he comes face to face with three carnival fortune-tellers. It is here that he begins his search for the tree of life. He wants to bring back his mother.

His friend, Abra, is always at his side. She is the character I most enjoyed. She is filled with encouragement and love. We also have Mr. Tennin and Mr. Jinn. Of these characters he learns who to trust and where to make a stand. There too is the Amarok. The search for it and trying to kill it. Kind of a coming to age journey in who to invite into our life and where to place our boundary for protection.

When I opened this novel and began reading the first chapter I was excited to see where it was going. Sam is old in age and is now telling his story in first person. The chapters go back and forth from Sam in old age to Sam years back when he was a twelve year old boy. I loved the telling of the story when Sam was old in age. What I loved even more was the ending of this novel. The last chapter where the secret is coming to life. Okay, there is a second novel coming. This one is with Abra's story. This first novel feels like a first part to a larger more prevalent story.

This is a YA novel. The first novel for author Shawn Smucker. I kept waiting to be pulled in and have a greater understanding of the message. Yes, there's good and evil, the tree of life, and life and death. But I just couldn't connect with this story. Something was missing for me and I cannot even pinpoint what that is. Now, you may pick up this novel like others have and find it to be fascinating. I hope you do!! For me, it just didn't grab me. Maybe I wanted more of a message about the tree of life and salvation.

We are given the message that there is no fear in death. But there is a greater message there that for me wasn't relayed strong enough for an understanding of really knowing the meaning of the tree of life. There is no fear in death when Christ is our Savior. Without Him fear is present. Maybe that's it.

This is one I may go back and read again. Maybe in another setting, another mindset, I would really enjoy it. I am curious to see the next addition to this story as we journey more with Abra. 

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

Shawn Smucker lives with his wife and six children in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The Day the Angels Fell is his first novel.

Shine by Allison Allen

My first experience with Allison Allen was at Women of Faith. I was in attendance a few years to see her perform on stage. Even sitting many seats away, she was able to draw me near, pull me in, and forever change my heart. She is pure and transparent. That's the kind of girlfriend we all seek to find, but more importantly the woman we all need to be. 

She brings all she's learned from the theatrical stage and has brought it to life for us in ways that are so unique you are sure to find yourself within these pages. 

She's that cheerleader we all need in our corner. But many of us are short of cheerleaders. She guides us to finding ourselves in Christ, to being pure to who we are, and thriving to seek our role in the world around us. 

It can be suffocating trying to figure out who we are and where we belong. Especially as women. We compete with everyone around us and find ourselves falling short. Not because we are not worthy, but because we are trying to be someone we were not meant to be. We were meant to shine in our own skin and be present in our own life. 

This is a marvelous read for every woman of every age. Even a great book for Sunday school class, a youth group gathering, a small gathering of friends sharing coffee and heart. This is certainly a keeper for the shelf to go back to again on those days where Satan is roaring and we forget who we were to be and for whom we were meant to shine!! 

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

Allison Allen is a graduate of the prestigious Carnegie Mellon University and appeared in 650 performances of the Broadway production of Grease. A former Women of Faith dramatist and current Bible teacher, she speaks to women at conferences and retreats around the country, exploring themes of purpose, value, and identity in original unexpected ways. She lives with her family in Tennessee. 

Becoming Resilient by Donna Gibbs

If we aren't hurting right now, I'm sure the majority of us have in the past. We are not immune to pain and suffering. What Donna Gibbs has done here in these black and white pages is bring to life a way of getting unstuck in that wound that has kept us from living for far too long. That's something we can most likely all relate to. 

This isn't just a self-help kind of book. I'm not a fan of those. Ms. Gibbs brings the reader to the Word of God and that is the first key to removing ourselves from the suffering and trusting Him to lead us to a new life. Maybe unexpected, maybe not wanted, but circumstances bring wounds to us like we are in a battle. 

Knowing our pain isn't the issue. Asking why isn't the problem. It's remaining paralyzed in that deep gulf of destruction that leads us no where. Resilience. That's what Donna Gibbs offers us. She opens our eyes to developing resilience.

Here are a few headings in chapter two: Stop the Bleeding, Destructive Patterns (Destructive theology, destructive thinking), Poor Coping Skills (Asking the wrong questions, failing to place an appropriate boundary, obsession with injustice, over-analyzing, over-identifying as a victim,  prolonged denial, unrealistic expectations, tunnel vision catastrophizing). 

But first in chapter one she brings us to ask the question; What's normal about suffering? Here she brings us straight to the heart and truth of the matter. What are the sources of our pain? Our sin, the sin of others, hurting at the hands of God or Satan? These are questions where she doesn't just leave us hanging. She offers us a deep look inside and a beginning on a journey to healing. 

With each continuing chapter she gives a victory verse and personal questions to ponder. 

I found this profound: "It's easy to become fixated on the unfairness of the prosperity of someone who has wronged us. Often, we put our healing on hold, waiting for justice that may never come. We may find it difficult to move forward when there is unresolved injustice. It's important to remember that the bitterness associated with the obsession with injustice has little impact on the offender, but it is toxic to the person who is stuck."

This book continues on with such profound words that reach deep in the heart. It did for me on many levels. I have a friend who I will gift this book to. This is one of those books no wants to read, but one we all need. I found this book to be a journey. Just reading the words isn't enough. The reader must ponder them and make the choice to live them out. 

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

Donna Gibbs is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor, a National Certified Counselor, and a Board Certified Professional Christian Counselor. A member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, she is on the professional referral network for Focus on the Family, Christian Care Network, r3Continuuum, and FINDINGbalance. A Christian counselor since 1998, she is director of A Clear Word Counseling Center and of marriage and support ministries for Mud Creek Baptist Church in Hendersonville, North Carolina.  

A Time To Stand by Robert Whitlow

A robbery. A shot. Thunder and lightning. There in the middle of the street in the heat of the dark an officer is face to face with a suspect. This is where the story begins, but it is far from where it ends. 

Here in my area, being close to St. Louis, the protests and riots over a criminal being shot by an officer, this novel brings a fresh and honest portrayal of justice at work when the truth is first on being sought out. 

The character, Adisa, stands out for me. I really admired her strengths and weaknesses. She walked with a great integrity and through circumstances in her life she is faced with coming true to who she is and what she believes. 

This is hometown South. A white officer is accused of shooting a black man. Adisa, a black attorney, feels one way about this case, but when she takes this case it is amazing to see truth prevail through her actions along with others to seek truth justice, not street justice. 

Through this novel we see the lives of the officer, the attorney, and the young man who was shot come to life before our eyes. Whitlow has long been a favorite for me. Choosing another novel penned by his talent was a no brainer, but I was really surprised at the content of this novel. I wasn't sure in what direction he would take these pages. He shows us that what's on the surface isn't always the truth and when we dig down deep we find that love, respect, and honor can come to life when we look beyond our self. Especially when we look beyond what generations have taught, what the media places in our face on the nightly news. This novel shows that hate gets us no where, racism is on all sides, and too often we don't want the truth, we just want to be angry. 

The more I read the more I wanted to spend time in these words. That's a clue I have a great read in my hands. I cannot wait to see what's next for Whitlow. 

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

Robert Whitlow is the bestselling author of legal novels set in the South and winner of the Christy Award for Contemporary Fiction. He received his J.D. with honors from the University of Georgia School of Law where he served on the staff of the Georgia Law Review.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Paradise of Glass (The Glassblower Trilogy) by Petra Durst-Benning

What a series!! After reading, The Glassblower, I was an instant fan of Durst-Benning. So intrigued I had to move to the next in the series, The American Lady. Take a peek at both of my reviews 😊. 

Spending time in a novel is an investment of our time. We want to make the best of it, not wanting to feel we have wasted valuable time. Oh, this series is one you want to check out. It revolves around the glassblowers of Lauscha, Germany. Most of all the sisters who make their mark in history by standing up as women and doing things their own way. We see their strengths and their battles. We are allowed to witness these characters grow from being young girls at home with their father, to taking over the glassblowing business and creating something never imagined. 

For my Christian readers, this is not a Christian series. But as a lover of history and fiction I found myself swept away by the penned words of this author. I would share this series with my friends. 

This too is not a selection to read out of order. Yes, it could be read a stand-alone, but if so you will miss a great deal of understanding the heart of the Steinmann's. 

I love being introduced to new authors. That's what happened with this series. I am now reading another selection by this author, While The World Is Still Asleep. Another series that looks so inviting! 

Again in this series the author gives us great detail about the heart of the characters. In this novel the character focus is on Wanda, the daughter of Ruth, the middle sister of the Steinmann trio. 

Wanda travels from America, where she has been raised, to Lauscha. It's the year of 1911. She has heard so much of this glassblowing area, she knows this is where her family comes from, and she too is seeking something more. She is on the search to find out who she really is. She is a young character who has really fought to find out her true self. She's struggled in this with having parents who have given her everything. 

Wanda makes her way to Lauscha. She's here for a few months and has an opportunity to visit her Aunt Marie who is in Italy now with her new husband. Wanda wants to visit her and is allowed to make the trip. Circumstance happens, tragedy breaks her heart, and she is forced to make a decision that will effect the rest of her life. 

Laushca is home to her now. This is the place she has always dreamed to be the paradise of glass. We watch this young woman grow. She doesn't want to be under the shadow of her mother, but wants to stand out on her own like her Aunt Marie did. She's a dreamer and as we see she is fearless. We see her strengths and weaknesses. 

She's that young girl we can all relate to. She doesn't want to so much be alone. She thinks having a man with her somehow makes her more valuable. She soon realizes she on her own is worthy. 

During her visit home the aunt she is staying with, Johanna,  the oldest sister, travels with her husband to America to visit Wanda's mother, so we don't see this sister throughout the novel. I would have loved to see more of Johanna in these pages, but I understand the focus on Wanda. 

So, Wanda, in coming of herself and understanding all she can do in this small village, she wants to help the glassblowers as an outsider is about to make a purchase that will change life for everyone in Lauscha. This becomes the focus of the book, but there are many twists to the story-line as we get to see the prevailing of evil when people  decide to face their fear and doubt, taking a stand, even when the outcome is unknown. 

As much as I loved this series I was a little let down with this final novel of the series. I guess the first two held such beauty that I expected more. With that said, I enjoyed the journey with Wanda. We too see the relationship between Wanda and her mother, Ruth, grow. Yes, these sisters have come full circle as we are now seeing the second generation of women take their place and live as an example for others. 

Although the theme of this novel weaves around the decision of Wanda, it is about finding one's self, family, forgiveness, and acceptance. Most of all, leaving a legacy.Even though this novel wasn't all I had hoped it would be I wouldn't have put it down for anything. A great series that I will not soon forget.

This novel was a gift from Amazon-Crossing for sharing my review with you

Petra Durst-Benning has written seventeen novels. As a child and young woman, Durst-Benning frequently visited the United States, where she developed a passion for American fiction that has since inspired her own writing career. She now lives in her native Germany with her husband. 

Samuel Willcocks was a prolific translator from Czech, German, Romanian, and Slovene into English in many genres, including science fiction and historical novels. He studied languages and literature in Britian, Berlin, and Philadelphia before winning the German Embassy Award (London) for translation in 2010.

The Promise of Breeze Hill (A Natchez Trace Novel) by Pam Hillman

First I have to share that Tyndale is one of the top publishers that I love. I am not even sure if I have ever written a four star review for a Tyndale selection. They are rich in faith and true to Christian fiction. 

This novel did not disappoint. Hello? Where have I been that I have not read a novel penned by Pam Hillman? I am now a huge fan! 

The cover of this gem is what caught my eye. Just a beautiful cover. The description of this novel gives enough information so the reader is inquisitive, but doesn't give away too much. I love this! 

We go back in time to 1791. Deep into the south in Natchez, Mississippi. We find ourselves at Breeze Hill Plantation. The author does an outstanding job of allowing the reader's senses to capture this time and place. The characters are well developed. So much so you truly care about them, connect with them on some level, and find yourself wanting more of them. The story-line is captivating. 

Once I began reading I just didn't want to put down this novel. I love historical fiction. Here we get a bit of everything. Romance, mystery, all intertwined with faith. Characters walking in daily faith and others struggling to believe. We see the battle of the heart as well. 

Can you just see Isabelle walking the grounds of this plantation? She is a character that has much on her shoulders. She is gentle, has a heart of grace, and too a woman standing in a man's world. Circumstance has happened. Fire, sickness, and death have touched this beautiful place, leaving not only the heart of the home charred, but also the heart of those living here. Times are difficult. There's so much to be done, but Isabella knows she cannot do it alone. 

It is through this circumstance that we meet Connor O'Shea from Ireland. Again, the author gives the reader such a great vision as to not only what this character may look like, but what lies down deep that no other can see. Connor has a past, just like all of us. One he blames himself for. He fell victim to the deceit of another, which makes him cautious in trusting others. He is an indentured servant. He isn't one to just look out for himself, but for others. I love his character. 

We meet others here on the plantation and around. Some who are living good and others who are seeking evil. As Connor is working to bring back the plantation, others are seeking to destroy it. There is much to be gained by taking over this plantation, but Isabella and Connor stand strong against evil and we see God move through these two characters in such a way that couldn't have happened if they had not come together through the tragedies that surround them. 

Oh, there is just so much beauty within these pages. So much I wish I could share, but no reviewer wants to give away too much detail. You too should be able to enjoy this book to the fullest. 

These are words by Isabelle, "In my grief over Jonathan, I wanted to lash out, to blame someone. I pushed You away when I should have drawn closer to You than ever before. God, I'm sorry." These words stick out to me and say much about this novel. We are allowed to see the heart struggle of these characters. Some trusting people, and like Isabella, trusting God again. They carry their wounds deep, but try to remain steady in their own strength. What I love is that we see these characters encourage one other toward the Lord. We see them realize that nothing can be done or accomplished in our own strength. 

If you love historical fiction I encourage you to choose this beauty for your next read!! 

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

Pam Hillman award-winning Pam Hillman writes inspirational fiction set in the turbulent times of the American West and the Gilded Age. Her novel Claiming Mariah won Romance Writers of America's prestigious Golden Heart award. She lives in Mississippi with her husband and family. Visit her website at

Portrait of Vengeance by Carrie Stuart Parks

This is the fourth of the Gwen Marcey novels penned by Carrie Stuart Parks. Now, you don't have to read these in order. But for me, coming in at the fourth novel I can't help but wonder if beginning with the first if it would have made it even more enjoyable. 

So, what's cool? Carrie Stuart Parks was mentored by Frank Peretti. That alone intrigues me. Also, Parks has a great knowledge about what she's writing since she is a forensic artist. She didn't begin her writing career until diagnosed with breast cancer. You just gotta love how God works in the hearts of His people! 

This is a fast paced read. Right off the bat we are off on a mystery and it is one that the reader is glued to because Parks does a great job at allowing the reader to connect to the characters.

The story-line is fascinating. I love when two stories come together as one. Parks brings the past to the present as Marcey is heading out for a case with the feeling it has something to do with a past case that is very close to her. All these years it has gone unsolved, but has never left her. Now she is facing the past head on and this brings the reader to really appreciate this character and all she has endured. 

What elements I really enjoy? Marcey is off to an area where she is an outsider. She doesn't receive that warm welcome, but yet that doesn't shatter her. It gives her more strength to push ahead. This is a women who seems so tough, but she has some inner wounds that I'm not even sure she realizes she has until she is right here in this precise moment fighting to solve a mystery and to bring evil to a standstill. 

Gwen has lived her life trying to protect her heart. Divorced. She has a teenage child, but she lives with her dad. Gwen hasn't really been great with relationships. She tends to push people out of her life. She feels unworthy of love, but somehow kind of walks through life with an attitude that she doesn't need people. Here in the depth of this wild country she comes to see that she does need people. I love seeing this woman grow into knowing her true self. That's a special moment when we realize all we have been missing. 

I am now intrigued to check out the other Gwen Marcey novels. I think in doing so, in going back, I will come to understand even more about this woman who is such a truthseeker. Maybe that's the thing I love the most. She is daily on the hunt for truth, wanting to unveil answers so she can uncover the ugly to get to where it is possible to change the course of prevailing evil, she buries down deep the truths of her own life.

Parks is great at detail and giving the reader just enough so that you must keep turning pages! Yes, if you enjoy a great mystery, I encourage you to check out the Gwen Marcey novels!! 

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

Carrie Stuart Parks is an award-winning fine artist and internationally known forensic artist. She teaches forensic art courses to law enforcement professionals and is the author/illustrator of numerous books on drawing. Carrie began to write fiction while battling breast cancer and was mentored by New York Times bestselling author Frank Peretti. Now in remission, she continues to encourage other women struggling with cancer. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Your Guide To The Apocalypse by Matthew Hagee

In all that we are experiencing today a little truth is needed. A LOT of truth is needed among all the lies being told today in the mainstream media what is one to believe? Okay, before I get started in my review I just want to share; search this truth for yourself!! This truth is revealed in the Word of God, the One source for what is to come. He is our Guide, and He has given us the Word that unlocks the soul, the past, the present, and future to come. Don't just believe what you hear, uncover truth for yourself!!

This is an amazing book. Written in a format that is easy to read and understand. Nothing over the head being tossed at you here. Matthew Hagee has penned a great resource that brings the reader straight to the Word of God. 

This book is divided into four parts. The Sure Approach of The Apocalypse in History, Economics of The Coming Apocalypse, A Society Primed for The Apocalypse, The Christian Church and the Apocalypse, and The Rapture and The Tribulation to Come. Each section is fascinating and truth inspired. My favorite for study is the Christian Church and the Apocalypse! This section on the Seven Churches is jam-packed with amazing information. What I love is that Matthew gives great information, but doesn't just leave the reader to trust in him, but to seek the Lord and the Word for the information. That's huge and a key to me really enjoying a book.

Another chapter I really soaked up is chapter 8, Taking the Mark of the Beast. Matt Hagee begins with scripture from Rev. 13:16-17 and brings us to see the truth behind what is surly to come. How many will so easily be deceived and receive this mark? He pulls back the veil on lies being told and allows the truth to be seen. 

Ah, and then there's chapter 10. It's All About Me!! So much truth within this one chapter. Amazing stuff Matt is sharing. We don't have to fear what is to come when we know the Lord and know the truth. We don't want to hide in fear and not want to accept the truth of our future. 

Yes, this is an outstanding read that is sure to bring the reader straight to the Word of God. It's a book that encourages the reader to seek the truth and not get caught in the deception of our world. 

I am so grateful for being able to review this one. My husband too loved it! Be a great read even for a Sunday school class or a small group study. This is one you gotta check out!!

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

Matthew Hagee is the sixth generation in the Hagee family to carry the mantle of gospel ministry. He serves as executive pastor of the 20,000-member Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, founded by his father, New York Times best-selling author and prophesy expert John Hagee. Matthew Hagee's teachings and faith-based talk shows, The Difference and Hagee Hotline, are seen throughout the world on television and over 250 digital platforms. Matthew and his wife, Kendal, have four children. 

The King James Study Bible, Full-Color Edition published by Thomas Nelson

When I seen this King James translation up for review I had to give it a whirl. I have my favorite study Bibles I use for my study and I must admit that I didn't have a King James in my collection outside of a reference Bible. So, this selection caught my eye. 

I have to tell you that I wasn't sure as what to expect. Many times you receive a hard copy edition. I was over the top, unexpectedly excited when I opened up the box to see that for review I wasn't sent a hardback copy, but the brown leather bonded copy. That was my first excitement. 

The second happened when I opened up this study Bible. This study Bible is outstanding! I don't have any other Thomas Nelson Bibles I use for my study. There are reasons for that. I just haven't found one that stood out to me. I am now blown away by this new release from Thomas Nelson. It is better than anything I have seen from them. 

The print is a great size. The colors are very warm and inviting. The pages are of great quality. The study notes are topnotch and so informative. The Word of Christ is in red, which I know is a highlight for many. The reference now the center column is a violet shade, very easy to read. The introductions of each Book is filled with great insight and gives a vast wealth of knowledge in understanding the when, how, who, and what of the Book. There too is an outline that is extremely helpful in understanding the timeline of what you're about to read and it also gives add in easy finding on a particular subject. 

Something I love!! There are three really cool aspects this Bible that I find unique to others. Throughout the study Bible you will find Doctrinal Footnotes, Personality Profiles, and Archaeological Sites. These are highlighted in different colors so it is easy to see there's something extra to see. They are coded with a little shovel, a person, or for the doctrinal footnotes there is a little key. They too are in full color which gives an added blessing for study, especially for that visual learner. 

In the front of the Bible we are given great insight as to how to use this study Bible. There is an Introduction to Doctrinal Footnotes that's divided into three sections, explanation, illustration, and application. This is another fantastic tool for study. 

In the front there too is a section God's Answers to Our Concerns. This lists many subjects and gives scripture for all. 

Now, moving to the back of the study Bible we are given a Topical Index to Christ and the Gospels that is divided into subheadings. This isn't the concordance, but a section on focusing on the Life of Christ. 

Next we have the Teaching of Christ, all in alphabetical order. Parables of Christ, and Miracles of Christ are to follow. Prophecies of the Messiah Fulfilled in Christ is divided into three sections, Prophetic Scripture, subject, and fulfilled. There too is an amazing section devoted to Paul entitled, Topical Index of Paul and His Letters. This is super cool and one of my favorite things about this Bible. Next we are in the Topical Index to End Times Prophecy. There are so many tools given for a great study. You could study this Bible in so many different ways. Love all the possibilities. 

We aren't finished yet!! Next is the Monies, Weights, and Measures. The Jewish Calendar, Prayers of the Bible, Index to Annotations, and then the Concordance, which is one the largest I have yet to uncover in a study Bible. In the very back are full color maps that give a great visual for study. 

The pages are a little sticky in the first use. Not all, just a few, but easy to pull apart without fear tearing a page. Just be gentle. The pages are highlighted in a gold glimmer shade. And there is a ribbon marker that's always handy to have. The print of the Bible is a dark enough shade that it is very easy to read. That's a plus!! 

This is a study Bible I will use for years to come. Oh, and if you purchase this Bible it is guaranteed for life. All you have to do is register your Bible and you're all set. I have been enjoyed my time in this Bible and cannot wait to uncover more. I would purchase this study Bible for myself, or gift it to another. This is truly a comprehensive study for the beginner in reading God's Word or the student who has been uncovering the Word of God for many years. 

I hope if you are on the search for a great King James study Bible you will check it out. Oh, and it also comes in the NKJV too and in many styles and colors to fit your personality. 

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

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Get Out of That Pit (Straight Talk About God's Deliverance) by Beth Moore

I have read just about every book penned by Beth Moore. There's something spectacular about each of them. This one became a fave when I reviewed it years ago. I read it when it came out in 2007! Twenty years later she is celebrating the anniversary of this penned gem that has touched the hearts of its readers. 

I was thrilled when asked to review it once again. Now, in reading it years back and now reading it again I have gained many new insights. My journey of faith has grown, life has happened, and circumstance has brought its struggles. So, in reading it right now, wow, it is just one of those timeless reads that is for everyone at every stage of our walk. 

Now, I could share all of my insights, all of my highlighted passages, but I'm going to skip that on this review. It's more amazing for you, the reader, to uncover your own insights as the Spirit speaks to your soul. When we give Him room He reveals Himself to us, gives us just what we need in His perfected timing. 

The pit is real. Beth knows this pit. That's why she can share about it. What I love is that Beth is transparent. It's like sitting on a porch, coffee in hand, with your best girlfriend next to you, and Jesus is shining down upon your moment together. 

Another aspect I love about this book is that Beth just doesn't share about her pit, but she shares the way out! She shares the hope of Jesus! She shares His grace is bigger and wider than anything that touches our lives. 

This book is based on Psalm 40:1-3
"I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord." 

Beth isn't that teacher that just gives words of her own experiences. She's that teacher that leads the reader straight to the Word of God. She never fails to leave Him out. He is in everything she writes. That's powerful stuff! 

She tells us in the opening, "I'm writing to tell you I believe God has scheduled your flight out of a pit. You're going to have to show up for it, though." Right?! We have to show up and be present!! We can't sit back and just expect God to do it all for us. Is He capable? Absolutely!!  But, we have to participate in the journey, put in the hard work, and from giving Him room to move on our behalf, He shows Himself to us in ways we could have never imagined any other way than going through the struggle and seeing it through.

Beth's writing is raw. It has a purity that is missing in most. This makes her real to the reader. A writer in which they can relate to. She also gives us scripture prayers, where she shares three aspects of the prayer life. Cry out, Confess, and Consent. Through this we can grow in our prayer life as we travel through this remarkable gem of a work she has brought us. Also added is a Get Out of That Pit Discovery Guide, that is really amazing. Great questions for each chapter that give us more room to ponder.

If you could purchase only one book I would encourage you to grab up this one. You are sure to walk away with blessings. Listen, if we are not in a battle right now, we will be in one. That is a certainty. And as those battles come the pit is real to us. It is a trap Satan has laid for us. We can prepare by reading books like this one! No journey is the same, but one thing is for sure, we can make sure our focus is on the King of kings, the Healer, Guide, and Redeemer. Freedom is only the Savior away!

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

Beth Moore is a teacher and a writer of bestselling books and Bible studies, whose public speaking engagements carry her all over the United States and the world. Get Out of That Pit was first published in 2007, and has sold 75,000 copies. A dedicated wife, mother of two, and happy grandmother of two, Moore leads Living Proof Ministries. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

NKJV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, Hardcover, Red Letter Edition by Zondervan

I was excited to receive this study Bible. I have an archaeological study Bible that I have used. This one is similar in sharing amazing information on the cultural aspect of study. If you love studying the Word of God, knowing the cultural of the time gives great insight to understanding the Word. 

This study Bible is jam-packed with great information. Color pages are a great aid for a visual learner. Red letter print too. This Bible is loaded with study notes. Pages 1-2016 are dedicated to the Old Testament. Pages 2017-2348 are dedicated to the New Testament. There is much more study information for the OT than the NT. We are given study helps such as, Table of Monies, Weights, and Measures, Index of Articles in Canonical Order, Concordance, and Map Index, and Maps. 

I have the hardback version of this study Bible. The jacket is colorful, but I'm not a jacket kind of girl when it comes to my Bibles. I'd rather take it off. But if one takes off the jacket it is simple brown with Holy Bible printed on the front. I love when the cover is the same as the jacket. 

Okay, would I purchase this Bible? I have to be honest. No, I wouldn't. It is a magnificent study Bible of the times and culture. But the pages are so very thin that they are see-through. With a light shining above me and the pages down I can still see the color of the pages on the other side. The print is not only small, but the coloring of the Bible makes it difficult to read. The pages do not have a smooth and inviting feel to them. Outside of those issues this is a magnificent study Bible. I wish the pages were not so very thin and the coloring so bland. Those things are important to me because if I don't like the feel of the pages I'm not likely to spend much time using it. 

You may pick up this Bible and simply love it. I hope you do. I am just sharing my thoughts about it. As far as study goes, this is filled with tools and information that can give way to a great study!! 

This study Bible was a gift from Zondervan for sharing my review with you. 


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