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. 

Freedom's Ring by Heidi Chiavaroli

What a brilliant debut novel from this author! This is masterpiece writing. Two stories. Two eras.Weaving it all together to bring about history with the present. 

The story begins with Anaya in the year of 2013. The Boston Marathon is the backdrop for this character. Patriots Day is a day this character will never forget. The bombing is a part of her life. No running from it. It's impacted her life and also her family in ways one never expects. 

Now chapter two begins the story of Liberty in the year of 1770. A Patriot is she, but working for the enemy she finds herself at a crossroads. She has been waiting for her brother. She must decide to show honor to him and for the Patriots or to follow a love of one her brother would call the enemy.

As we journey with these two characters we are introduced to those who surround their lives. We see powerful emotion as these characters come to life on these black and white pages. Love, forgiveness, redemption, Salvation. It's all here. 

We see their inner struggles as they try to be strong. Boston strong. But what I love is that these characters uncover the only strength to truly set them free comes only from Jesus. It cannot be found in man or object. 

I enjoyed both stories and of course how they are woven together. But I couldn't wait to get to the chapters of Liberty. Her story was truly powerful for me. A different time. One of such fear, but a time of such hope. It is up to each person just which will be their focus. 

Anaya's family is impacted by the Boston Marathon. I love the reality in this character. Instead of standing by her family, seeing them through this tragedy, she runs and stays away. She returns to her family and finds a divided reunion. Most of all the division lies within her own heart. She holds much guilt. But isn't sure how to move forward, until she meets the man who saved her life that day of the race. Together they form a bond, a friendship forms and between them something wonderful happens.

He had left her with something on the day he saved her life. She wants to return this gem, but as she does he comes up with the idea to find the history behind it. Yay!! This is where the story of Liberty really takes off. She lets her guard down. She is little by little allowing another into her life. She has feared so much. Through this friendship, she uncovers just how real the PTSD is that in which she has suffered. 

Yes, there are many aspects to this novel. Something for everyone to relate to on one level or another. Chiavaroli allows us to see the heart of these characters in a remarkable way. Seeking freedom through so many things, searching for a peace that is lasting, these ladies of freedom, who through the circumstances of their life, through tragedy, come to find what a love greater than anything they can compare. 

We see that it takes courage to move forward, to not allow the tragedy to steal away more than it already has. To seek hope, faith, and love, we must give room in our lives for God to move. Grace and second chances is reachable, especially when our Lord is making way to reveal All He is to us. 

Healing begins. God restores. Beauty is from ash. Strong writing with a poignant story that shines light into faith in Christ. Yes, this is one of those memorable reads that will remain with me. If you love historical and contemporary fiction, this is one you don't want to pass up. 

Happy reading!📘

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

Heidi Chiavaroli is a writer, runner, and grace-clinger who could spend hours exploring Boston's Freedom Trail. She writes women's fiction in the historical category. She makes her home in Massachusetts with her husband, two sons, and Howie, her standard poodle. Visit her online at


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