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. 

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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.

Friday, June 15, 2018

God Bless Our Bedtime Prayers written by Hannah C. Hall and Illustrated by Steve Whitlow

I am loving choosing children's books by this wonderfully gifted author and illustrator. Together they bring children beautiful gems to enjoy. 

My grandchildren are going to love curling up together and reading this. The illustrations are soft and gentle hues perfect for bedtime. Easy and inviting for little ones.

As you open the book we see a giraffe mama and baby. The young one is kneeling at the bed and praying. This first little prayer is this: 

"Dear God, the day has said good-bye. The moon glows big and bright. As bedtime nears, You're with me here. God bless our prayers tonight." 
"The Lord our God comes near when we pray to Him." 
Deuteronomy 4;7

With each turning of the page we meet a new animal family, have a new prayer, and a Bible verse that coincides with the prayer. These are sweet prayers from little ones to God. Prayers that teach them to simply talk to Jesus about everything that touches our lives. Asking God to help us show His love to others, having a grumpy heart and learning to ask forgiveness, knowing He is with us with His protection when we are frightened, praying for others in need, praising Him for yummy treats and good things, finding peace in Him, going to Him when a special toy is missing giving Him all our worries, thanking Him for special time with others, and ending with telling God how much we love Him, are subjects that this gem touches on so perfectly for little ones.

In the description it shares that this book is great for 1-2 graders. I am thinking it would be wonderful for any age younger too. My youngest granddaughter is on her way to being two years of age and I know she will enjoy it as well. 

One could read the entire book at once or take just a page a night as we pray with our little ones. This is a sweet and tender read, but also a teaching tool for the heart. A great opening for our children to pray and an extra blessing for us to be a part of such love.

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

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

Hannah C. Hall writes books for kids, blogs for their moms, and many a forgotten grocery list. She loves Jesus, her husband Josh, their five incredible kids, crock pot dinners, extra desserts, and those rare and wonderful occasions when the laundry room is tidy. Visit her at HannahCHall.com.


Monday, June 11, 2018

The Solace of Water by Elizabeth Byler Younts

I feel as though I just went on a journey into the deep. Younts is an author to watch. Her writing style was poetic and beautiful. Her choice of words, placing them together, and the detail she provides is just exceptional. Sometimes it felt like her words floated to the heart. 

For me this wasn't an afternoon read. Gosh, it isn't that happy go lucky read. No, this isn't that lighthearted read to escape the world. This novel takes you deep. It's raw and transparent. It moved me. 

We travel back in time to the year of 1956. We are heading to the deep south where there are no longer any signs of "Black only" or "White only". It doesn't have to be written. One just knows. 

Two families. Secrets. A past they can't seem to unravel. They can't run far enough from God. Amish, white, and black. 

I  just want to share with you the first paragraph: "My skin was the same color as the soil. I pushed my hands into the ground and it had hardened some since my visit a week earlier. My hands barely left a dent when I lifted them. I put them back and pressed harder. Tiny bright-green blades of grass were growing and the dirt didn't look so newly turned over no more. Made me mad. Grass growing over my boy's grave. Should have known it would happen quick in Alabama spring without no shade overhead. Still wasn't ready to see the ground looking so settled in just a month." These words are from Delilah. She just buried her son. She's filled with such anger and hate. Her husband is a preacher. They have a family of children. But one is no longer present with them. The circumstances surrounding his death have not touched his mama's ears. She didn't want to know the details. She's pushing everything and everyone away as her heart hardens deep without her wound. 

They move from Alabama to Pennsylvania. Things should be different here. We journey with Delilah and her family to this new place, a dream, but life is hard for this family. But this is where we meet Emma. She's Amish, has her own family, and her own set of trials that is wearing on her. Here's a little from Emma: "Secret hive, whispering wind-no-breeze. Swaying branches, dancing trees. I repeated the words over and over in my mind. I didn't want to forget them. My fingers thrummed against my knee, itching for the pencil and paper I had at home. What would come next? What would it be like to have the freedom of trees?"

Delilah and Emma are two of the main characters of this book, but Sparrow, is the character that breaks my heart and takes me to that mama place where I just want to wrap my arms around her. Here's a few of her words: "When I saw the lady's watery eyes, it was like I was looking back at myself. It wasn't that she looked like me-she was white-but she got this something in her eyes that I got since Carver been killed. It made me get fidgety and I started to rub the puffy scar on my finger. I got it on the day we buried Carver when I smashed my small mirror against the porcelain sink. I couldn't stand to see myself in it. Didn't like the way it felt now neither so I looked away. That's when I saw the rest of her." 

This novel travels from these three characters, but through them we meet others. These are people I will never forget. Their stories are raw filled pain that overtakes everything about them. They are lost in their grief and so wanting to heal, to find relief, but that solace just isn't there. 

But these characters connect in ways that is just breathtaking. They form a friendship that fills them with something new, something unexpected. No one can understand what they have together. They shouldn't be friends. They should remain with their own kind. 

Oh, I loved this book! I love when an author uses their gift to take readers to a place they have never experienced. But when they close the last page they feel as though they have exchanged shoes and walked a journey unknown. This was that book for me. If you are looking for something deep and something that will move you I certainly hope you choose to grab up this gem. 

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

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


Elizabeth Byler Younts gained a worldwide audience through her first book, Seasons: A Real Story of an Amish Girl, and is a RITA nominated writer. Elizabeth lives in Central Pennsylvania with her husband, two daughters, and a cockapoo named Fable. Visit her online at: ElizabethBylerYounts.com

Friday, June 1, 2018

The Hidden Side by Heidi Chiavaroli

History and present day meet in this new release. Chiavaroli takes us on a journey. We travel back and forth between the years of 1776 and 2016. It is 240 years that separate these two magnificently told stories, but Heidi brilliantly brings together two stories into a powerful read about the hidden heart. 

You know, it's that part we hide for many reasons. In 1776 we meet Mercy Howard. Oh, she is a thrilling character. So strong, steadfast, and full of patriotism. Her heart is full of grace and love. She stands for what is right and true. She hates injustice. She is finding herself in the middle of a war where she must take a side. 

I loved traveling back in time with Mercy. The characters that are side by side Mercy are those like herself. They have high standards. They are choosing to believe in something bigger than themselves. They are willing to sacrifice. What I love about Mercy is that she just doesn't allow herself to be a follower, but she pushes fear aside and decides to lead. She is that character that doesn't take things lightly. When she decides to take sides, she must hide the truth of her beliefs in order to seek aid Washington. She has seen those around her lose their life for standing for what is right. She is willing to risk everything. This reminds me of scripture and giving one's life for a friend. 

We follow Mercy and her struggle in hiding her true self. You gotta love a girl who keeps a journal. 

Now the other side of the story. This story was hard for me. It was deep, raw, and transparent. Again, Heidi is brilliant how she brings out the heart of her characters. Here in black and white they are brought to life. We are allowed to see every aspect of their lives. This is a story that could be a stand out all on its own, but as Heidi brings them together, just WOW!!! 

Let us go to New York in the year of 2016. We meet a family. Natalie, Mike, Maelynn, and Chris. The Abbot family is that all American Christian family. Natalie has a job in Christian radio. Mike is a police officer. Chris and Maelynn are twin teenagers. This family is living like many. They are busy. Life circles around them. One day all is wonderful, and then they stop sharing. They are now living right above the surface. 

Tragedy. A school shooting. This is where the story gets really difficult. Yes, it is a hard read. But Heidi is magnificent in how she allows the reader to see the heart of each character. The hidden side and the reality, the truth, that somehow gets paved over to make it look easy and right. You know facade we can all put on so easily so others think our family is just like every other family sitting in church. What we are all afraid to admit is that we are all sinners. We all struggle. We are all a mess, trying to do our best in situations that are not easy at all. 

What I love is that with this school shooting, we are allowed to see the struggle of this family in the aftermath of the reality that their son was the shooter. We understand more of Chris. Oh, we are still left with questions, but as for this family we see the struggle of what they must now live. 

I too admire how Heidi allows the reader to understand better these teens who struggle in life just to try and fit in, to be normal, to just be accepted. We too see parents that are having to try and understand the why and how of things in this tragedy. 

We are just given so much to absorb. It took me quite a while to read through this novel. I wouldn't have wanted to do it all in one sitting. There's too much to ponder. This is one of those novels I will not soon forget. We never want to be the parent of the child who is slain at school. But how often do we really think about the parent of the child who did the shooting? This book made me ponder those parents. As uncomfortable as that was, it was needed. 

Natalie is trying to make sense of what cannot possibly make sense. She goes into her son's room and searches for something of normalcy. She finds a book of Nathan Hale where she begins reading the journal of Mercy. Oh, how Natalie needs a little 'mercy' of her own. She finds so much of herself within the pages of Mercy's journal. It's not only an escape, but a place where peace can be found. Mercy was a legacy of hope that Natalie so needed. 

I admire authors who weave a penned creation around faith. Faith is alive throughout this novel. We see the road where faith is put to life. We see that 'no matter what' kind of faith, the struggle to see God in something that feels impossible. What the reader is given is that truth lights the way. There is a great blessing in being transparent, in letting others in, and in being honest with ourselves. 

I really enjoyed the depth of this novel and the journey that Chiavaroli invites us to travel. I cannot wait to see what's next for this gifted writer. 

Happy Reading!!

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

Heidi Chiabaroli is a writer, runner, and grace-clinger. Heidi writes women's fiction, exploring places that whisper of historical secrets. Her debut novel, Freedom's Ring, was a Romantic Times Top Pick and a Booklist Top Ten Romance Debut. She makes her home in Massachusetts with her husband, two sons, and Howie, her standard poodle. Visit her online at www.heidichiavaroli.com.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Beginner's Bible Bedtime Collection (20 Favorite Bible Stories and Prayers) by Zonderkidz

My granddaughter just began reading. Oh, the sweetness of the first grade. One of the best treasures is having her curl up next to me and read a story to me. I shared with her that I would look to see if there was a children's Bible for review. Sure enough when I looked I found for review this gem. 

It is perfect! Perfect for little hands, in size and cover. The cover is soft and the cover is inviting. Hello! It's glow-in-the-dark!! Every child will love this feature. 

The inside is just beautiful, bright, and colorful. One feature I love is that we are given stories from the Old Testament and the New Testament. Some that stand out to me are; The Brave Queen, The Wise King, Jesus Calms the Storm, Mountain, and Jesus Returns. These stories are Biblical in every way. They are penned in such a way that little ones can understand. These stories too are short. The lettering is big bold print and there are colorful illustrations on every page. 

What I love is that with these stories it gives way for more conversation, more story time, more time to spend sharing Jesus. It was my granddaughter who said, "Nanny, I love reading about Jesus." This is a great beginning for little ones, whether they have heard of Jesus or maybe this book will be their first encounter. It would make a fantastic gift for a little one in your life. 

We are given 20 stories, but too there is a prayer between every story. These are sweet prayers. The Goodnight Prayer: "Thank You, God, for taking such good care of me. Like a shepherd takes care of his sheep, you always watch out for me!" (The Lord is my Shepherd. He gives me everything I need.-Psalm 23:1). Then there too is an option for the parent/grandparent to read more of the scripture by taking out the Bible and sharing more. This is a great introduction to the Bible for little ones. 

This is a wonderful place for little hearts to begin reading, a sweet treasure to share, and one that will only grow a heart after Jesus. If you are searching for a beginning for little readers or maybe just a goodnight book, this is a wonderful selection. I cannot wait to share it with all my grandchildren. 

This Beginner's Bible was a gift from Zonderkidz for sharing my review with you.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Send Down The Rain by Charles Martin

When Charles Martin releases a novel I am always excited in anticipation of a great story before me. He is set apart from other favorites of mine. He is a master storyteller. He brilliantly weaves words that is heart-changing. 

Send Down The Rain is one I am still pondering days after I have closed the last page. If you have yet to read a Charles Martin novel this is a great place to begin. If you are already a fan you will want to add this one to your reading list. 

The cover brilliantly captures the heart of the novel. This novel captivated me. I tell you there were portions that were hard to read. Gut wrenching at times with emotion. Let me say I marvel at this storyteller and his gift to bring such a story about restoration, redemption, love, forgiveness, friendship, family, and so much more that points to our Savior, His love, and His mercy. Grace is sewn so gently through these pages. This is just one of those novels that brings the reader to feel great emotion with each turned page. 

The characters are so raw. These are people that have been wounded and been living with a deepness about them that can only be seen by others who carry such agony. He brilliantly connects every character. Their stories unfold before us by allowing the reader to not be hurried through the story, but piece by piece, and giving the reader time to really absorb the reality for each character. 

These characters find second chances. There is one who intervenes, one who takes upon the pain of others, and through giving of himself finds the healing he too needs. Mr. Martin begins the Prologue with this verse: "Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage." -Psalm 84:5 

We begin in the year of 1964 and as the story grows we go from that year to present day. The story flows so beautifully from present to past. I just love all that is represented in this story. We see such a love and grace for others. 

I would love to see this one played out on the big screen. It held such twists and turns that I was captivated and closed the last page wanting more!! This is one of those memorable novels that will forever remain with me. Of course I will be awaiting the next release of Mr. Martin. 

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

Charles Martin is the New York Times bestselling author of thirteen novels. He and his wife, Christy, live in Jacksonville, Florida. Learn more about him at charlesmartinbooks.com. Facebook: Author.Charles.Martin Twitter: @storiecareer

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Ever Faithful {A 365 Day Devotional} by David Jeremiah

I love devotionals for many reasons. Most of all because they are a tool to aid in my faith journey. They give way for extra study and deeper pondering. Just beginning the day with words that point me to seeking the Lord or ending my day with my last thoughts focused on Him. 

I greatly admire Dr.David Jeremiah. He is a trusted pastor and teacher. That is valuable in choosing a devotional. 

This 365 day devotional is focused on God. He is the center of every devotional, plus he too gives us devotionals that deal with our everyday life. Dr. Jeremiah doesn't stray with stories of himself, but remains in the Bible, giving us truth with wonderful insight. This is a devotional that truly touches on the aspects of our life showing us to use scripture to keep us focused on living a Christ-centered life. 

This one is just beautiful. I love the colors inside and out. Many devotionals focus on women's issues or are geared to a certain group. This devotional is for everyone. It would make a wonderful gift. As I was reading I kept thinking it would be a great tool for a Sunday school class, Awana class, or a small group setting. It's wonderful reading on our own, but to have friends join us and then share about the devotional would be a wonderful added treasure. 

I chose to review this devotional because it was written by David Jeremiah. The question is; would I purchase this copy with my own money? Absolutely! Another gem by David Jeremiah. 

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

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