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.

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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. 

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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. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Things I Never Told You by Beth K. Vogt

I don't even know where to begin except to just start with a huge WOW! I absolutely loved this book. I have to be honest. I was a bit surprised in reading the Amazon reviews of this selection. So maybe I need to begin there. 

This is a contemporary women's fiction. This isn't a YA. Of course young adults can read this and find themselves within these pages, but it isn't published as a YA. 

One reviewer said she felt cheated because she expected deep dark secrets. Really? It's amazing how a book touches every so differently. I found this book to be amazing. Deep and poignant. 

Things I Never Told You is a novel about sisters, but so much more. It's about family, friendship, loss, regret, wounds of the past, acceptance, and hiding our emotions to simply live each day. 

What I love about this book. There's so much! This novel goes way below the surface into the deep with these characters. I relationship aspect of the sisters is something most can relate to. There are three living sisters, Payton, Jillian, and Johanna. Beth did a fantastic job with these characters relating to their births. Johanna being the oldest, Jillian the middle sister, and Payton the baby. We journey through life with all three of these sisters. Beth even allows us to get to know Payton's twin, Pepper, who died when these twins were in high school. But this novel goes far beyond high school. 

We also get to know the men in the lives of these sisters. Each of these sisters are living with a circumstance that brings great trial. Payton may be the main character, but I enjoyed Jillian's story and the unexpected battle that she is faced with. Johanna is the character I least liked, but as the story flows we too get to know more of her life. 

I love how this family isn't one that does God. These sisters didn't grow up in a Christian home, but as we see God is present in their lives. Prayer from one sister has the power to change hearts and give room for faith to blossom. We see how God woes and never gives up. These sisters have faith enter their lives through others who walk with Jesus. I so loved this! 

Something else I really enjoyed is that this book doesn't end all tied up sweetly with a bow. I like to imagine what happens to the characters I've come to call friends after the last page is turned. Beth gives the reader room to imagine. She gives just enough detail throughout the book to keep the reader wanting to turn pages. But not too much so the reader knows exactly what is coming in the next chapter. 

This is a family where we see their struggles and how they try so hard to keep their past and their emotions in check. They don't do God and they don't go deep. But as the novel grows we see the heart of these characters open up. I love reading the journey of characters and finding out just why they are the people they are today. Beth gives way for us to see their past and their future fears, all while trying to just breathe in the present. 

One character I really enjoyed was Zach Gaines. I won't give away his secrets, but his life is one where in the midst of where he was ready to give up on life God showed up and changed everything for this young man. 

I cannot wait to see what's next for these Thatcher sisters! 

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

Beth K. Vogt believes God's best often waits behind doors marked Never. Beth is a 2016 Christy Award winner, as well as a 2016 ACFW Carol Award winner and a 2015 RITA Award finalist. Visit Beth at bethvogt.com.

Honeysuckle Dreams (A Blue Ridge Romance) by Denise Hunter

If you are on the search for an afternoon romance read Denise Hunter has brought us another addition to her Blue Ridge Romance series. One can read this selection as a stand alone. You won't have to go back and read the first, Blue Ridge Sunrise, but you just might eagerly await the next release, on magnolia lane

I admire Denise Hunter for her writing style. It's easy and inviting. The writing tenderly flows as the pages turn. For me this wasn't a deep read, but one that invited me to escape for an afternoon. 

Grab your favorite cup an find a comfortable place to settle in for a fantastic romance read. You will find an assortment of friendship, parenthood, love, and faith, intertwined with finding dreams and letting go. Deciding what's of value in life and what just doesn't matter at all. But in the midst of the trials that invade life the most important treasure we have is hope.

What I love about this selection is how it begins with friendship. In this characters we will see just what they are willing to do for love. I have to say the novel was predictable, but very enjoyable. We journey with these characters through trials that seem almost impossible to face, but they find that with faith all things are possible. 

Another aspect of this book that I really enjoyed was that through the circumstances these characters face we too are witness to how their past plays a huge roll in their present. It isn't until they come face to face with the wounds of the past can they can truly see the future for what it is. 

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

Denise Hunter is the internationally published bestselling author of more than thirty books, including A December Bride and The Convenient Groom, which have been adapted into original Hallmark Channel movies. She has won The Holt Medallion Award, and The Reader's Choice Award, The Carol Award, and the The Foreword Book of the Year Award and is a RITA finalist. When Denise isn't orchestrating love lives on the written page, she enjoys traveling with her family, drinking green tea, and playing drums. Denise makes her home in Indiana, where she and her husband are currently enjoying an empty nest. DeniseHunterBooks.com

Friday, April 20, 2018

I Can Only Imagine (The True Story That Inspired the Hit Song and Major Motion Picture) by Bart Millard with Robert Noland

What a wonderful gem of a read! Inspiring and full of God's grace and mercy! This is a song I loved the first time of hearing it. Every time it comes on the radio it's like the very first time. One cannot hear this song and not be moved in a powerful way. 

This memoir is one that truly moves the heart and one that many will be able to connect with too. I loved the transparency and heart of this book. Pure and raw. 

Bart doesn't seem to leave out anything. He shares the beauty of life, the trials of heart, the mountains and valleys, along with the shadows where our wounds seem to live. He shares with us moments of his life that shine Jesus. Where there was pain he shows us forgiveness. Where there was unjust he shares with us peace of letting go. There isn't one area of Bart's life that he doesn't allow Jesus to use for His glory. 

I too love the photos of family and friends that he shares with us. He shares his young life, his home life, his family, and his musical gifts. It's like there isn't anything off limits for God to use. Super cool!! One thing I didn't know about Bart was the connection with Amy Grant. Oh, how God moves in those who serve Him. One can definitely see God has a master plan!

One of my favorite aspects of this book is what Bart shares in the very back. He could have easily shared his story and that was that, but he gives us even more. It's like God gave him pages and said, "Use them up. Use as many as you want. Just give Me the glory." That's exactly what Bart does!  We find in the Appendix Your Identity In Christ. This is where he shares what his mentor, Rusty, shared with him as he discipled Bart in walking with Jesus. He shares 75 verses where we can find our identity in Christ! To have all of these verses together, to be able to read them over and over is such a rich blessing. I intend to write them all in my journal that I keep with me in my purse. What a legacy! This gift given to Bart, he is now sharing with readers to continue to flow of blessings. 

I usually read fiction. But when this movie came out I started hearing everyone share about just how awesome it was for them. How their hearts were moved and how their lives impacted. When I seen the book for review I just had to grab it up. Boy, am I happy I made this selection. It's well worth the read. There is power in being transparent and in giving God glory for every aspect of our lives. 

This is Bart's life, but it too could be your life. There were aspects where I found myself within these pages. It's one that will leave your heart full. I think it's a 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟read!!

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

Friday, April 13, 2018

The Daniel Key (20 Choices That Make All the Difference) by Anne Graham Lotz

The first book I read by Anne Graham Lotz, "Wounded by God's people", changed my life. It was a powerful read for me. One that began a healing in my wounded soul. So, when this book was available for review I wanted to see if this too would be a blessing. 

This is a gift book that contains a blue ribbon for page keeping. This book is just beautiful. Very inviting. This little gem is taken from Anne's previous work, "The Daniel Prayer." I have not read that selection, but if this is a continuance from those penned words I can only imagine it too must be a wonderful read. 

What makes all the difference? Anne brings us twenty findings to the keys of success. Faith, Worship, Loyalty, Prayer Partners, Praying for Others, Praying God's Word, Attitude, Listening, Daily Prayer Time, Perseverance, Desperate Prayers, Values, Focus, Courage, Confession, Fasting, Forgiveness, Humility, A Personal Relationship with God, and Commitment. It is in these keys that Anne takes us on a journey to walking closer with our Jesus. 

In each chapter she gives an opening verse, shares why that key is valuable, gives us words to 'think about it', and ends with a prayer on the key of that chapter. The entire book is Daniel focused, but God centered. Anne shares some personal stories that allow for a key to highlight the personal aspect. She too shares stories of others and some quotes that give great wisdom and insight. 

What do I love? The fact that Anne isn't the center of this book. Not her ideals or life, but God's very Word. She doesn't stray from His Word, but brings Daniel to us in a way that invites the reader to dive in and experience God's Word on our own. This is a wonderful gem of a book that only causes me to want to open up my Bible and read again the Word in the Book of Daniel. 

My favorite aspect of this book the prayer at the end of every chapter. Why? It isn't just a prayer shared by Anne. It is a prayer that begins with the Word of God. She teaches us to pray the Word. This is powerful for our growth in our faith journey. This is shared in chapter 6, a short chapter, but one that impacted me the most. Reading His Word, taking a scripture, praying it and making it personal to us. For me, that changes prayer. 

With all the scripture Anne shares one could easily use this for a devotional, an opportunity to read with the Book of Daniel, to read alone or in a small group setting. It would make a sweet gift for anyone in your life. I plan to pass my copy along to a friend who is right now climbing a mountain of trial. 

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

Sunday, April 8, 2018

The Weaver's Daughter by Sarah E. Ladd

When I seen this book for review I was hoping it would be offered in print. It was the cover that caught my attention. Just beautiful. This too is my first opportunity to read a work penned by Sarah E. Ladd. I cannot wait to see what is next in this writer's future. 

Where to begin. I'm just going to jump in here. This is my second book this week I have read by Thomas Nelson. When I choose a Thomas Nelson novel there is one thing above all else that I expect. Faith. A novel where faith is at the center. That is what was missing for me in this novel. As a reviewer for Thomas Nelson, a Christian publisher, I could not review a book without sharing the disappoint I feel where faith isn't to be found in a novel published by them. 

If this were a secular fiction I would give it five stars. Sarah E. Ladd is exceptional. This was a beautifully penned novel. Once I began reading I didn't want to put down this book. I have a friend who calls these "Unputdownables". There is so much about this novel that I loved. But without being faith-based it was missing an element that could have made this novel soar. 

We start in the year of 1801 in Amberdale. Oh, this time period is one that I love and Ladd did a fantastic job in the details and bringing the pages alive for the reader. She captured the time and place with poetic beauty. We find ourselves going back in time to a weaver's life in England.

This was a time of uncertainty. A time where so many wanted to remain with tradition, but times were a changing and the people of Amberdale didn't want to see machines come in and take jobs away from the people who so desperately depended on them. This is who they were. The identity was based on being a weaver. 

The weavers and millers didn't see eye to eye. Too much was changing and hanging in the balance. You have some wanting to remain as is and others who were hopeful in this new generation coming forward to bring a new way of life. 

Our main characters are Kate Dearborne and Henry Stockton. Kate a weaver's daughter, and Henry Stockton, a miller's son. The Dearborne family and the Stockton family were enemies. The weavers were loyal to tradition. The millers were stepping in to advancing to a new era of production. Nothing wrong with either side, that is unless you were on the other side of their views. 

These are the two main characters, but there are other characters who I found myself admiring. One would be Kate's brother and the other would be Henry's sister. This story is just so well put together. The author gives the reader a glimpse into the heart of each character. We see the good, the bad, and the ugly. We see their struggles. But it doesn't stop there. We get to witness these characters growing into better people. They move past what was done and expected in the past. They see beyond the prejudice and look at the heart. 

The father of Kate and the grandfather of Henry expected them to honor them, to be loyal. They weren't suppose to have feelings and allow their emotions to get in the way of being loyal. But these two characters overcome the hatred of their earlier generation and step out and learn to be loyal to their own self, seeing how others should be treated and not allowing a hate to live within themselves. 

Oh, there is so much I could share about this novel, but then I would give away too much. I truly enjoyed this novel. I only wish, especially coming from Thomas Nelson, that faith could have been at the center of this Christian published novel. If the faith aspect was there this would have been far above a five 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 star review for me. 

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

Sarah E. Ladd received the 2011 Genesis Award in historical romance for The Heiress of Winterwood. She is a graduate of Ball State University and has more than ten years of marketing experience. Sarah lives in Indiana with her amazing family and spunky golden retriever. 

Hurricane Season by Lauren K. Denton

I chose this book because of the cover and title. The cover is gorgeous and speaks volumes. It is hurricane season, storms are approaches, but yet there is a calm where the unknown is coming in at high speed. Finding that calm in the storm is the key. A peace that surpasses all understanding. Trusting our God to bring about a peace we have never experienced before and so desperately need. 

When I choose a Christian fiction novel, especially from Thomas Nelson I expect to read a faith based novel. I am knowing that I when I open the pages of the novel before me faith is going to be woven through the story to bring a story saturated in seeing the characters come to faith, walk in faith, experience God in their lives, and journey through the storm witnessing God do something miraculous in the character's lives. Just to have them point to faith, to see their struggle in the storm come to a place where they seek Jesus, knowing even as the storm rages they can solace in Him. 

But lately in Thomas Nelson's novels for review this isn't what I am seeing. Faith being at the center, at least mentioned in some capacity is missing. In that alone it makes it difficult to review a novel. If this novel was in the secular publication it wouldn't be an issue. But being classified as Christian gives way to looking deeper in how I must review it. Those who seek out to purchase Christian fiction want to see faith at the center of the novel. 

This is a novel about sisters, their connection lost, marriage, children of a single parent home and a home where children are yet to be, dreams lost and dreams found. The main characters are Jenna who is the mother of Addie and Walsh, Betsy who is the older sister, and her husband Ty. 

Betsy and Ty live in Alabama and are farmers. They have a sweet life but something is missing. Ty is that strong character. He works hard and is a good husband. Jenna is living this new farm life, a life she didn't dream about, but one she fully embraced. Together they are building a life together and realizing children may not fill their home as they had so hoped. This is a toll that both are experiencing, but they are keeping their emotions on this safe level and not really sharing with one another. 

Jenna is the younger sister and a single mom. She is struggling to make ends meet at her coffee shop job, but she is hopeful. She's a great mom to her little girls. Something too is missing in Jenna's life. She and her sister haven't spoken in quite a long time. The last time they seen each other was a couple years back. Jenna gets a call to experience something she has dreamed of doing. If she takes this opportunity it could change everything. But what to do with her girls? She at first is only to be gone two weeks. She gives her sister a call and this is where the story takes off. 

We see Betsy take that call and her answer comes without first sharing with her husband. But of course Ty only wants Betsy to be happy. He has some questions about Jenna expecting so much from her sister. This sister relationship is explored more and the story builds on this. We see both sisters come to a place in life they had been longing for. 

Where Betsy is more centered on others, Jenna is more self-centered. Where Betsy is more settled in a scheduled life, Jenna is more spontaneous. I  could relate more to the character of Betsy. She was friendly and likable. She didn't expect so much of others and what she never expected of others what she herself wasn't willing to give. Jenna's character didn't settle in well with me. She was very selfish. A good mother, but always expected someone else to jump in where she wanting to soar. She expected more from her sister, but yet she didn't consider the impact on her sister. She had a dream and she wanted to see where this opportunity took her. 

I enjoyed seeing Betsy and Ty step in and take care of the girls. This was a new experience for them. As it turns out two weeks turned into more. Something they didn't expect, but they made the best of it. Through this experience they come together in a new way. This was lovely to witness. A marriage growing!

Jenna sees this opportunity to reach her potential. But while she is here she learns much more about herself than learning new things about photography. She's had everything in her all along. She just had to reach the place where she could see it for herself. 

For me, the best part of this novel was close to the ending when Jenna returns and the sisters share like they have never shared in their lives. So much was unspoken, so much to learn, so much to bring them together. Oh, this was a beautiful part of the story.

The novel begins with Betsy, then the next chapter we are introduced to Jenna'a life and then to Ty. The novel flows very easy. The writer does a fantastic job at allowing the reader to see the heart of each character. 

Now, this is only my opinion. I did enjoy the novel, but like I have shared it was faith that was missing for me. If faith was at the center of this novel, just wow! To see these characters going through so much come to a place of faith, feel God's peace, experience strength and grace from Him, it would have been a totally different novel. The novel I had hoped it would be. 

But it is my hope that you pick up this novel and experience something wonderful. Maybe the Christian aspect isn't something that you are seeking. If not you are going to really enjoy this novel and the seeing the heart of these characters come to life. 

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

Lauren K. Denton Born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, Lauren K. Denton now lives with her husband and two daughters in Homewood, just outside Birmingham. In addition to her fiction, she writes a monthly newspaper column about life, faith, and how funny (and hard) it is to be a parent. On any given day, she's rather be at the beach with her family and a stack of books. The Hideaway was her highly acclaimed and USA Today bestselling debut novel.

Friday, March 9, 2018

I Prayed For You by Jean Fisher and illustrated by Frank Endersby

This children's book isn't a new release. It was published in 2015. But this beauty of a book is new to me. 

This would be a beautiful gift for an expectant mother and father. A wonderful first book for a little one. Most of all it is sweetness and would make for the perfect book to read when all snuggled up. 

Who doesn't love bears? The illustrations of this books are so precious. Soft and inviting. Warm and cozy soft hues blanket each page. You can leave the cover jacket on or for your convenience remove it. 

Here are just a few examples from the pages of I Prayed For You. 

"The first time I held you in my arms, you fell asleep all snuggly-cozy. And I prayed." {Thank You, dear God, for this cute, cuddly bear. May my little one know Your love's always there.}

"One day I gave you colorful paints and brushes, and you painted your first picture. As I hung it on the wall, I prayed." {Thank You, dear God, for my bear cub's sweet heart. To me, this child is Your great work of art.}

"The first time you got hurt, I gave you the biggest, warmest, safest mama hug, and I asked God to make you all better again." {Whenever my sweetie pie hurts for a while, please change that sad face from a frown to a smile.}

"Then, one day, you were so brave. You spent the whole day at school without me. And while you were gone, I asked God to help you." {My little one's headed for classrooms and hallways. Please go with my pumpkin today and then always.}

This just may be my favorite children's book of the year that I have been blessed to review. Just sweetness between child and parent. A time to open the heart and simply love. 

I cannot wait to gift this gem to my daughter and granddaughter. I know they will love reading this together. πŸ’œ

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

Jean Fisher has written many Christian books for adults and children. Born and raised in Wisconsin, she lives near the shore of Lake Michigan, where she enjoys watching woodland wildlife and working in her backyard gardens. 

Frank Endersby has experimented with many forms of art, from designing greeting cards to designing china patterns to illustrating preschool board books. Frank lives in the Cotswolds, surrounded by rolling hills and woodland glades, giving him lots of inspiration to paint. 

Night Night Jungle by Amy Parker illustrated by Virginia Allyn

Get ready to cuddle up with a book filled with colorful cuteness! I love what Amy Parker has done here with a book sure to fill a little one with sweet dreams. 

The illustrations are just amazing. Virginia Allyn has outdone herself on this adorable gem. The pages of this hardback are filled with such brilliant color that is sure to captivate little ones. 

The sun is setting in the jungle and the lemurs are thanking God for their food. The jaguars are splashing one more time before bed. The toucan is getting ready to brush before it's time for pajamas. The chameleons are curling up for one more story. The monkey swings through the trees before mama grabs him up for the night. The mama parrot sings a lullaby. The tadpoles take a ride on daddy's back before they say goodnight. Of course there is a cute sloth all cuddled up with mama. The book ends with all the animals, all God's creatures, snuggled in for the night. 

I love how God is woven within this nighttime story. A wonderful way to begin prayer for little ones. This is certainly a gem for children. The perfect end before dreams begin. 

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

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